Monday, April 30, 2007

Stand united on May 1st

Whether you call it The Great American Boycott, or the "Day without Immigrants", or the May Day March... it doesn't matter. This is the largest single-day organized protest for human rights in history, now in its second year. Below is a list of places and organizations taking part. Unfortunately despite the efforts of different organizations there is still no complete list, so if you do not see your city or town below, chances are that there is something happening anyways and it just hasn't been announced nationally.


Arizona


Tucson

Tuesday, May 1
8:00 am - Gather SouthGate 3300 S. 6th Ave (6th Ave & 44th St)
9:00 am - March to Downtown Tucson
12:00 pm - Rally at Armory Park 220 S 5th Ave

Tucson May 1st Coalition
PO Box 1286
Tucson AZ 85702
520-770-1373 • may1@iactucson.org
mayday2007.iactucson.org

Download flyers in Español and English


California


Davis
Tuesday, May 1
UC Davis Campus, Memorial Union Patio
11-12:00 - Rally at MU patio with musicians and performers
11:30 am - Solidarity Walk Out. Congregate at MU patio
12:00 pm - March
Davis Students Against War Resource

dsawresource@gmail.com
http://daviswiki.org/UCD_May_1%2C_2007:_Day_of_Action



Los Angeles

Tuesday, May 1
12:00 pm - March at the beginning of Olympic & Broadway

National May 1st Movement for Worker & Immigrant Rights
5274 West Pico Blvd. #203
Los Angeles CA 90019
323.702.6397
Download flyers in Español and English


Modesto

Tuesday, May 1
10:00 am - Rally - Corner of Crows Landing & Hatch Rds.

www.modestobrownberets.com/cms
contact@modestobrownberets.com
www.aztlanrising.com
contact@aztlanrising.com
Download flyers in Español/English

Romoland

Tuesday, May 1
5-8:30 pm - corner of 2nd St. and Highway 74

m_rose_d@hotmail.com

San Diego

Tuesday, May 1
3:00pm - March/Rally - Corner of Park and A

Si Se Puede Coalition
619-309-7435 • davidschmidt2003@hotmail.com


San Francisco

Tuesday, May 1
12:00 pm - Dolores Park in the Mission District
1:00 pm - Grand March for Unconditional Amnesty to the Civic Center

Movimiento Por Una Amnistia Incondicional/Movement for an Unconditional Amnesty
415.287.0749
AmnistiaSF@gmail.com


San Francisco

Tuesday, May 1
7-9:00 pm - Mission & 24th Streets - Candlelight Vigil for Unconditional & General Amnesty

Barrio Unido


Colorado



Denver

Tuesday, May 1
10:00 am - Lincoln Park

Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC)
1212 Mariposa St; Suite 5
Denver, CO 80204
303.893.3500 • julien@coloradoimmigrant.org
www.coloradoimmigrant.org


Florida


Orlando
Tuesday, May 1
10:00am Lake Eola Park, Downtown Orlando


Belle Glade

Tuesday, May 1
10:00 am, Pioneer Park, 866 S.R. 715

West Palm Beach

Tuesday, May 1
3:00 pm Demonstrators will meet at Okeechobee Blvd. and Sapodilla Ave.
and march to Federal Building, 701 Clematis St

Weston
Tuesday, May 1
2:00 pm Demonstrators will meet outside Rick Case Honda
15700 Rick Case Honda Way, Weston, and drive to a Miami rally.



Miami
Tuesday, May 1
3:00 pm Government Center, 111 NW 1st Street.
5:30 pm march from Government Center through downtown Miami.

Tampa

Tuesday, May 1
1:00 pm to 5 p.m. on Dale Mabry Highway
near Raymond James Stadium.



Illinois


Chicago

Tuesday, May 1
10:00 AM – Plantón/Rally – Union Park [Ashland Ave. and Washington St.]
12:00 PM – Marcha/March – Randolph St., Desplaines St., Jackson Blvd., Columbus Dr.
2:00 PM – Plantón/Rally – Grant Park [Balbo Dr. and Columbus Dr.]


March 10th Movement
1638 S. Blue Island Ave
Chicago, IL 60608
877.762.7242
Info@movimiento10demarzo.org


Kentucky



Louisville

Tuesday May 1

5-7:00 pm - Rally/March - Gene Snyder Courthouse to Jefferson Park

The Kentucky May Day Coalition
859-685-0387
www.kccir.org

Download flyers in Español and English


Massachusetts


Boston

Tuesday May 1

4:00 pm - Rally/March - Boston Common

Boston May Day Coalition
617.290.5614 • info@bostonmayday.org
www.bostonmayday.org


Chelsea

Tuesday May 1

2:00 pm - March from Everett City Hall
3:00 pm - March from Chelsea City Hall
4:00 pm - Rally in Central Square, East Boston

Chelsea Collaborative
300 Broadway Chelsea, MA 02150
617.889.6080 • mail@chelseacollab.org
www.chelseacollab.org

Download flyers in Español/English


Michigan


Detroit

Tuesday May 1 - Time/Place - TBD

Latinos Unidos/United de Michigan (LUUM)
Rosendo Delgado - 313.887.1849
Ignacio Meneses - 313.587.9285
Elena Herrada - 313.974.0501
www.luum.org

Download flyers in Español and English


Minnesota


Minneapolis

Tuesday May 1

4:00 pm - March - Lake St. & Nicollet St.

MN Immigrant Rights Action Coalition (MIRAC)
651.389.9174
www.MNImmigrantRights.net
Download flyers in Español/English
Download Posters in Español and English


Nevada


Las Vegas

Tuesday May 1

7:00 pm - US Federal Courthouse, 333 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

United Coalition for Immigrant Rights
740 N. Eastern Avenue, Suite 110
Las Vegas, NV 89101
ucir_lv@yahoo.com


New Jersey


Elizabeth

Tuesday May 1

11:00 am - Warinanco Park
Mass Meeting

NJ May 1 Coalition
973-736-0522 • info@njmay1.org
www.njmay1.org


New York


Buffalo

Tuesday May 1
3:00 pm - McKinley High School on Elmwood Avenue
Marching to a Speakout at Elmwood and Bidwell
Car caravan from there to City Hall

Buffalo/WNY International Action Center
iacbuffalo@action-mail.org

New York City

Tuesday May 1
4:00 pm - Rally & March
Union Square Park, 14 St. & Broadway
Marching to Federal Plaza/ Foley Square
(Site of the African Burial Ground)

NYC May 1 Coalition
55 W 17th St.
New York, NY 10011
646.291.2778 • www.may1.info>
Download flyers in Español and English


North Carolina


Charlotte

Tuesday May 1

4:00 pm - Central Ave & The Plaza
gather in front of the Harris Teeter to show our support for the Justice at Smithfield Campaign being waged by workers.
The march will end at the vigil called by Communities for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
6:00 - Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center
600 E. 4th St., Charlotte, NC 28202
Contact: Ruben Campillo, (704) 531-3848

May 1st Charlotte Movement for Workers & Immigrants Rights
704.492.8527 • may1charlotte@gamil.com
www.may1charlotte.info


Raleigh

Tuesday May 1

5-7:00 pm Rally - State Capitol

North Carolina Justice Center
919.856.2178 • dani@ncjustice.org
ncimmigrants.blogspot.com



Pennsylvania


Pittsburgh

Tuesday May 1

5:00 pm - Rally/March - Allegheny County Jail, 2nd Ave.
Marching to Mellon Square Park, 6th Ave.

Pittsburgh Friends of Immigrants


Texas


San Antonio

Tuesday May 1

12:00 pm - Rally - Milam Park
6:00 pm - March

Southwest Workers Union
210.299.2666
www.swunion.org
Download flyers in Español/English


Washington



Yakima

Tuesday May 1

3:30 pm - March - Miller Park

Grupo Comunitario por Justicia y Derechos de los Inmigrantes
509.457.5867 or 509.930.6532




Wisconsin


Madison

Tuesday May 1

12:00pm - Rally/March - Capitol to Brittingham Park

Union de Trabajadores Inmigrantes
Immigrant Workers Union
608.345.9544 or 608.446.3656
uti.madison@gmail.com
www.uniondetrabajadores.org
download flyers in Español or English




Milwaukee

Tuesday May 1

Un Dia Sin Latin@s/A Day Without Latin@s
Estatal Marcha por Derechos Civiles y Boicot/Statewide Civil Rights March & Boycott
12:00 pm - Voces de la Frontera, 1027 S. 5th St.

Voces de la Frontera
Wisconsin Legalization Coalition
414.643.1620 • vocesdelafrontera@sbcglobal.net
www.vocesdelafrontera.net
download flyers in Español/English


Resources:
Organizing websites
National May 1st Movement for Worker and Immigrant Rights
National Immigrant Solidarity Network

Penn & Teller call out the Bullshit of the so-called "immigration problem"

I wish they had spent some time on the economic side of the bullshit, but I can forgive the oversight given its' only a half hour show... still maybe its reason for a Part 2 on the issue.





Sunday, April 29, 2007

The War on Drugs Deconstructed



by Michael Deliz

While American soccer moms run away from the mere mention of the "evil" plant, coca is a revered and widely used home remedy for the indigenous peoples of the Andean region of Latin America. The difference in perspective is more than mere cultural variation, it is perhaps the longest lasting psychological effect of the Cold War upon the American people and its government.

The War on Drugs was of course never meant as an actual war on drugs but as an excuse to intervene in Latin America against leftist/communist organizations. This pseudo-proxy war of the Cold War allowed the U.S. almost naked support for paramilitary forces throughout the Andes and Central America, during the 1980s and 1990s. This was of course founded upon the shaky premise that leftist groups were being financed by the drug trade, that however was a false premise and merely an invented justification, as most rebel groups were founded and operated significantly in the 50s and 60s before there was a market for cocaine in 1980's America. In fact, Coca production in Colombia was rare until the early 1990s.

Even if the premise were true we would have found large stashes of cash during counterintelligence raids into rebel facilities. There would be testimony from captured rebels about drug operations tying the cocaine sales pipeline all the way to the rebels. But it doesn't exist. Instead it seems as though all the money and military might has done nothing to even slow the flow of narcotics into the U.S. How can this be? How can there be no measurable effect from a program that cost the US $45 billion in 1995 and grew to $143 billion in just three years? In fact if you look at this graph:



Essentially we can draw two clear conclusions from this graph; 1)major interventions have only a temporary effect and only on the retail price 2)Despite the program's intensification over the years the wholesale price has only dropped, widening the profit margin, while maintaining retail prices relatively flat over time.



The importance of the wholesale price cannot be overstated. The fact that the wholesale price drops means that not only has there been a slight over-supply year after year but also that efficiency in the system has increased at a natural pace. This is completely incongruous with the fact that this year the U.S. spent billions to supposedly stop all this. No government can be so consistently inept.

In fact in 2006 Marijuana became the biggest cash crop of the U.S. taking in $35 billion per year, and South American coca produced its largest harvest in 2005. All while the retail price has remained constant and predictable, while the wholesale price has decreased. In fact marijuana which is the most targeted of drugs in the U.S. has seen a ten-fold increase in its domestic harvest. This is still impossible to reconcile even if we take the roll over effect into account.

This roll over effect is the result of the spraying in one area leading farmers to roll over their crops to another field to replace production. Even if this effect is true that there is a kind of "moving target" here. The actual trend of the wholesale price would however suggest that more farms are created and at a faster pace than farms are destroyed, which is logistically impossible. Mass production transfers from field to field would actually create great peaks in the wholesale price, and the price would therefore increase over time. The data doesn't show this.

The total effect upon drug production in fact seems to be much less a "war" than a measured attempt at stabilization of an industry, which could not be more effective than if conducted by the industry itself.

Essentially the economic history seems to suggest a type of collusion among the parties involved, rather than an attempt at eradication. The fact that the three largest initiatives shown on the graph precede a U.S. Presidential election is not a coincidence.

The collusion is mapped in this way.
During the height of the cultural revolution in the late 50s and 60s, drug use became a visible middle class activity especially among the youth. Drug use was therefore blamed publicly for the apparent rebelliousness of the coming of age generation, which was highly critical of government activity (ie: Civil Rights, Vietnam, Watergate, etc...). Accusing the drugs rather than crediting the fact that an intelligent middle class had finally become established in White-America. This latter fact was a result of increased public school enrollment and college attendance among the non-wealthy in the post WWII years. The American public, first taught to blame drugs is then taught drug use is a threat to their standard of living and must therefore fight it. This public perspective promotes into political office individuals who not only promise a get tough approach but perhaps also grew up believing in an apocalyptic version of future society where drug use could become mainstream.

These politicians must promise results against this possible future. And therefore progressively pass harsher legislation against drug use but more significantly approve funding for the cause. As payoff, they get to look like they are seriously attacking the problem, and always claiming to have done a better job than their predecessor.

Funding for the war on drugs is largely spent domestically where the citizens can view the results first hand, through local law enforcement. Out of over 143 billion dollars spent per year less than a billion is spent in the eradication of drugs at the source of production. At the Federal level military efforts are however part of the solution. The end result is of course a sort of trade off.

American military and financial aid is granted upon the ruling elite of Latin America, which puts it to use to suppress political dissent. This ruling elite is propped up by the aid which helps to also secure the well being of the ruling classes over the majority poor lower class. Where the target of the American public is the drugs themselves, the target of the Latin American ruling classes is the poor alone.

This aid, both military and financial, then became necessary to maintain the rich in charge and superior to the poor, a symbiotic dependency system was created. While American politicians could claim reelection, Latin American elites could continue their exploitation of the masses and disruption of indigenous attempts to organize, all financed by the American government. Meanwhile the drug trade continues uninterrupted.

Relevant Media Sources:
NarcoNews - Coca Growers Shake the Andes Once Again
Living in Peru - Civil unrest breaks out between Peru's coca farmers and police
Associated Press - Peru Congress grants president power to fight drugs, terrorism by decree
Sun-Sentinel Report - Bolivian coca crop holds steady

Texaco accused of damaging Amazon basin



[Editorial Note: If Ecuador is successful in this, we will see a lot more such demands from Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, maybe even Colombia.]

Correa accuses Texaco
Fri, 27 Apr 2007

American oil company Texaco was accused by president Correa as being responsible for the ecological damages caused in the Amazon basin.

He said the catastrophic damages not only recalled those suffered by the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989 (in which Alaska Sea was polluted with 11 million gallons of crude oil) but were proved to be much worse in the Amazon case.

During his visit to some areas in eastern Orellana and Sucumbios provinces, President Correa stressed that "the atrocity committed by the multinational" must be witnessed by the world.

More than one thousand pools of waste exist in the Amazon basin today, where Texaco company drilled for crude oil from 1964 to the early 90's.

He termed the cause of the contaminations as "wild capitalism" and concluded that the $40 million compensation paid by Texaco was nothing more than "the same amount the president of the firm won as salary last year."

Correa expects the American oil firm to answer for the damages of their 30 year exploitations.

ZHD/KB

Pictures of ecological damage: [Full Gallery at Newsday.com]




Source: Press TV, Newsday

Rumor: Fidel Castro set to return to power May 1st



This isn't the first time such a rumor has surfaced. Some expected Castro to appear before the Energy Summit held a few weeks ago in Venezuela, others have suggested Castro has already died and the news is actually being kept from the public. This time the rumors have been sparked by Evo Morales, President of Bolivia who was quoted as saying that "I'm sure, my Cuban brothers, that on May 1 comrade Fidel will return to governing Cuba..." The truth is nobody who actually knows is talking, so what do we actually know?

Fidel has become increasingly active over the past month. Not only has he written a number of articles accusing the Bush administration of endangering food supplies with ethanol production, but just last week Castro hosted the Chinese ambassador for economic and political talks about the region.

Castro is definitely alive. What we don't know is to what degree he is able to conduct business. His articles could have been ghost written, and his meeting with the Chinese ambassador was a closed door affair, with only excerpts made available to the public. Raul Castro has also stayed relatively quiet, though never much of a camera hog, Raul has certainly been more private than Fidel ever was.

So what do we have in the end..? Nothing just a rumor. Though I must admit I am curios to see Fidel back at the podium delivering another 4-5 hour speech.


Source: Press TV, Reuters

Brazil to drill for oil in Caspian Sea

Iran, Brazil to drill in Caspian

Brazil's Petrobras will sign a $450m deal with Iran in the coming days for oil exploration and development activities in the Caspian Sea.

Managing director of the Khazar (Caspian Sea) Oil Company, Mohammad Hossein Dana made the comment, adding," The value of the contract may be raised to $15-20b in future once the relevant master development plan is prepared."

The official described the contract as a major achievements of the Khazar Oil Company.

"The Brazilian company will be utilizing deep-water drilling technology, which we currently lack", he added.

"The need for environmental studies as well as inadequate infrastructure and equipment for the project have prolonged talks on the project", the official added.

Referring to Russian oil exploration and development activities in the Caspian Sea, he said," Iran is willing to cooperate with Russia in this regard and we welcome Russia's participation in this project."

He added," The Brazilian company has accepted the risks involved in the venture given the current political condition of the region".

MRD/HAR
Source: Press TV

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Video Tribute to Puerto Rico's Struggle

Music by Fiel a la Vega
Produced by Latino Insurgent.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Testimony: Ruben Berrios and Fernando Martin at Congressional Hearings

[Production Note: I was able to put this together using the audio file available on independencia.net, the official website of the Puerto Rican Independence Party]

Here is Rubén Berríos Martínez, President of the Puerto Rican Independence Party providing testinmony to the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs of the Congressional Committee on Natural Resources on April 25, 2007.




Here is Fernando Martín, Executive President of the Puerto Rican Independence Party providing testinmony to the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs of the Congressional Committee on Natural Resources on April 25, 2007.

Video: Jose Serrano's position of the status of Puerto Rico Hearings

Jose Serrano (D-NY) Opening Statement


See also Video of Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) Addressing the co-chair of the President's task force on Puerto Rico.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Video: Velazquez slams Kevin Marshall at Puerto Rico Congressional Hearing

Watch Nydia Velazquez(D-NY) tell it like it is and slam Mr. Marshall for his ineptness. Watch Marshall not know if there were any Puerto Ricans in the Task Force he Co-chaired. Marshall was obviously the sacrificial lamb for the administration.


Issues raised by Ms. Velazquez:
  1. Lack of transparency
  2. Political interference
  3. Improper presentation of facts as included in the report.
  4. Lack of research
  5. Lack of public input
  6. An overall trivialization of the issue.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

US Congress hearing on status of Puerto Rico

American Troops entering Puerto Rico, 1898

[UPDATE 1:Click Here for VIDEO excerpt of Congresswoman Velazquez at the hearing ]

[UPDATE 2: Click Here for VIDEO excerpt of Congressman Serrano at the hearing]

[UPDATE 3: Click Here for Audio in vid excerpt of Ruben Berrios and Fernando Martin at the hearing]

The House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, led by Del. Donna M. Christensen (D-VI), holds second legislative hearing to review legislation to address the future political status of Puerto Rico. The hearing focuses on two legislative proposals introduced in the 110th Congress:

· H.R. 900 (Serrano), the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2007: To provide for a federally sanctioned self-determination process for the people of Puerto Rico

· H.R. 1230 (Velázquez), the Puerto Rico Self Determination Act of 2007: To recognize the right of the People of Puerto Rico to call a Constitutional Convention through which the people would exercise their natural right to self-determination, and to establish a mechanism for congressional consideration of such decision.

NOTE: This hearing will serve as a continuation of the March 22, 2007 legislative hearing, and will provide further insight into H.R. 900 and H.R. 1230.

Subject:
House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Insular Affairs
Legislative Hearing on H.R. 900 (Serrano) and H.R. 1230 (Velázquez)

When:
Wednesday, April 25, 2007, at 3:00 p.m.

Where:
Room 1324 Longworth House Office Building

Witnesses:
Panel 1
  1. Honorable C. Kevin Marshall, Co-Chair of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Political Status;
  2. Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice

Panel 2
  1. Honorable Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, Governor, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; Former Member of U.S. Congress; President, Popular Democratic Party
  2. Rubén Berríos Martinez, President, Puerto Rican Independence Party
  3. Honorable Pedro Rosselló, Former Governor and current Senator, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; President, New Progressive Party
Panel 3
  1. Honorable Kenneth D. McClintock, President of the Puerto Rican Senate
  2. Honorable José Aponte-Hernández, Speaker of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives
  3. Honorable José L. Dalmau-Santiago, Senate Minority Leader, Popular Democratic Party
  4. Honorable Héctor Ferrer-Ríos, House Minority Leader, Popular Democratic Party

Panel 4
  1. Mr. Fernando Martín, Executive President, Puerto Rican Independence Party
  2. Mr. Nestor Duprey, Spokesman, Puerto Ricans for Free Association and Social Justice (MAS)
  3. Honorable Rafael Hernández Colón, Former Governor, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
  4. Honorable Carlos Romero Barceló, Former Governor, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; Former Member of U.S. Congress
  5. Mr. Juan Manuel García Passalacqua, Lawyer, Writer, Political Analyst

Monday, April 23, 2007

Will the U.S. be forced to return 'Gitmo' to Cuba?

Detainees held at Guantanamo Bay

Report by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs:

The grant of the foregoing Article [regarding the leasing of Guantanamo] shall include the right to use and occupy the waters adjacent to said areas of land and water, and to improve and deepen the entrances thereto and the anchorages therein, and generally to do any and all things necessary to fit the premises for use as coaling or naval stations only, and for no other purpose.Article II of the Agreement Between the United States and Cuba for the Lease of Lands for Coaling and Naval stations; February 23, 1903.

Washington may be Losing its Right, let Alone its Political Ability to Maintain its Control over Guantanamo
The Bush administration has made several declarations expressing its willingness to help Cuba make a smooth transition to a Washington-approved “democracy,” achieved through a “soft landing.” This transition would take effect upon Fidel Castro’s death or complete incapacitation (taking note of the Cuba leader’s botched operation and subsequent reports of his fragile health). However, one complex issue that is only now being raised is the judicial basis for the U.S.-occupied naval base at Guantanamo.

The facility, which fell under a U.S. leasehold for more than a century has again returned to the headlines with the confession made by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, that he was the Al-Qaeda operative in command of the September 11 2001 operations. He admitted to the 9/11 terror attacks during a U.S. military hearing on Saturday, according to an edited transcript of the hearing released by the Pentagon on Wednesday. But even more ominous is the concern being voiced by at least one analyst close to the Bush White House that as result of several statements by relatively pro-U.S. Latin American leaders who stressed to President Bush their insistence that the U.S. should recognize the full sovereignty of Latin America nations, Washington could be faced with mounting demands throughout the hemisphere that Guantanamo – the symbol of 19th century gunboat diplomacy practiced by the Washington during the period– be returned to Cuba.

The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, located on the southeastern tip of Cuba, reached a peak of notoriety after it was discovered that, in the post-September 11 world, it was being used as a detention center and torture facility. Individuals suspected of being terrorists were detained at Guantanamo, and were subjected to various forms of harsh treatment. Many detainees were imprisoned for years and were denied the protection granted by habeas corpu, if their alleged crimes had been committed in the U.S. In the beginning of 2007, with a change of regime in Cuba seemingly at least possible in the next year or so, it would be useful to question the continued presence of the American military on the island, and whether or not it would be wiser for Washington to systematically consider the orderly reversion of Guantanamo Bay to the present – or successor – government in Havana. It is important to keep in mind that the U.S. has never questioned that residual sovereignty over the bay always has rested with Cuba. In fact, State Department legal experts are reviewing their international law books in the now almost certainty that a serious movement arises throughout the hemisphere questioning the U.S.’s legitimacy in occupying Guantanamo under the present arrangement and whether or not it has been exhausted by the passage of time and the dramatic change of circumstances. At the very least, now we have a sharply anomalous situation where Cuba is “paid” a trifling annual rent from its most lethal enemy to occupy the facility in the Cuban nation.

Attention also should be given to the controversial speech given at the recent 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy, by Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Incidentally, Russia – we – are constantly being taught about democracy. But for some reason those who teach us do not want to learn themselves.” This was a barely concealed –if not a nominally indirect – message targeted at the Bush administration. A similar statement could be made about Washington’s self-glorification of its respect of freedom, sovereignty and international law, while it, ahistorically, holds on to a colonial relic like Guantanamo instead of returning it to Cuba. Around the globe, in the aftermath of World War II, there has been a steady devolution of former colonies and other dependencies to local control – the decolonization of Africa in the 1950s and 1960s; Britain’s return of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China in 1997; even the reversion of authority over the Panama Canal to Panama in 1977. Guantanamo is one of those few territories that continue to exist in the world from a time when imperial societies imposed their will on weaker states.

The Invalidity of the Cuban-American Treaty on Guantanamo Bay
The Cuban government could use the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (specifically articles 60 and 62) and the section dealing with the rebus sic stantibus clause (which is used in reference on Article 62 of the Vienna Convention) to make a cogent case for the devolution of its territory back to the Cuban nation. The fundamental change of circumstances, otherwise known as the clausula rebus sic stantibus, can be invoked to challenge the validity of treaties and lead to their termination. A 2003 lecture given by Dr. Alfred de Zayas, a professor of international law at the Geneva School for Diplomacy, explains that it could be argued that the lease of a military base in a foreign country is conditioned on the friendly relations between those states, and that such pacts are terminated when a new sovereign government takes office that is fundamentally opposed to the alliance. Similarly the physical presence by treaty right of a hostile nation on Cuban territory is contrary to modern conceptions of sovereignty and of the sovereign equality of States. Indeed, as Dr. de Zayas argues in his lecture, it is an anomaly that the country that has imposed an embargo on Cuba for more than 40 years insists that it has a right to remain on its sovereign territory.

Moreover, the Guantanamo lease is right now 104 years old, which makes it only logical that it should be due for reconsideration by both governments. A 1967 article entitled “International Law and Guantanamo” (by Gary L. Maris in The Journal of Politics, Vol.29, No. 2, pp.263) declared that the legal term “lease” was not a disguise for the actual cession of Guantanamo to the U.S., but a relinquishing of jurisdiction over the area with the legal possibility of eventual recovery if the parties so desired or if conditions of the lease were not met. This makes it all the more necessary for Washington and Havana to discuss the Bay’s future.

Dr. de Zayas also explained that according to article 60 of the Vienna Convention, a treaty is voidable by virtue of a material breach of its provisions. According to the terms of articles 1 and 2 of the 1903 Lease Agreement, the use of the Guantánamo Bay territory was limited to coaling and naval purposes only, “and for no other purpose.” Hence, the repeated use of the territory as an internment camp for Haitian and Cuban refugees or as a detention and interrogation centre and prisoner of war camp and torture center is incompatible with the purpose of the treaty. Such actions by the U.S. would arguably bring about a material breach of the agreement justifying unilateral termination by Cuba in accordance with article 60 of the Vienna Convention.

The U.S. has also broken the agreement through another, though perhaps a less forceful, issue: the presence of commercial enterprises at Guantánamo, including a McDonalds. This constitutes a breach of the terms of article III of the supplemental July 1903 agreement between Washington and Havana over Guantanamo, which stipulates that “the United States of America agrees that no person, partnership, or corporation shall be permitted to establish or maintain a commercial, industrial or other enterprise within said areas.”

Read the full Report

Source: Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Sunday, April 22, 2007

THERE IS NO ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION PROBLEM



For the past few years Americans have risen up in arms against what they perceive to be a threat to their way of life, Latin American illegal immigration. However the truth is there is no illegal immigration problem. There are about 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants, yes, but they are not a problem. In order to prove this we will look specifically at Mexican illegal immigration and we'll do this for two reason; one they constitute the majority of illegal immigrants (57% of the total) and two they are the most noticeable group of immigrant (which makes them the most targeted).

So lets take the high number of 12 million and multiply that by .57 (57% who are Mexican), so there are 6.84 million Mexicans residing in the United States illegally.
These 6.84 million Mexicans sent $16 billion dollars back to Mexico last year to support their families, that means on average each sent back $2339.18 from their earnings here, after paying their personal expenses here.

That $16 billion helps to maintain many families in Mexico where 40% live under Mexico's own poverty line. Mexico is a country of 108 million people, which means that there are close to 43 million Mexican in dire poverty. These Mexicans work (only 3.5% unemployment in Mexico) and mostly work for American corporations who are allowed to pay their workers low wages even by Mexican standards. These workers buy most of their goods from American companies, from shoes and clothes to food.

Mexico imported 253.1 billion dollars in goods in 2006, 53.4% of that from the United States which means that Mexico spent $135.2 billion buying American products. The majority of the $16 billion sent back home to Mexico therefore comes back to the United States.

In other words, those 6.84 million Mexicans, not only help to maintain 43 million more from wanting to come to the U.S. but much of their expendable incomes after paying for their own living expenses, returns to the US by way of goods purchased in Mexico.

In terms of jobs Mexicans do take many labor intensive/low skilled positions from American citizens, mostly in agriculture and construction. But there is only 6.84 million of them, in a country like the U.S. of 300 million people that's 2.2% of the population. And that 2.2% is spread out mostly across the United States. In most states barely registering as a percentage. Even if we at this point used the entire illegal community of 12 million, that would only equal about 4% of the population.

Even if we took the often-repeated myth that illegals lower the wages of citizens, which is impossible for 4% to affect the other 96% so drastically as it is claimed, but even if it were true, then we should thank illegal immigrants for helping to maintain jobs in this country from moving away. After all it is the high labor costs that have sent America's manufacturing plants abroad. So if you believe these illegals are actually lowering your paycheck then be thankful for the fact that your labor cost is low enough to keep your job in this country.

So what about the statistics pushed by anti-immigrant groups, don't they have any validity? Those statistics are derived from a set of assumptions that are at the very least misleading.

1) The first assumption is that illegals don't pay taxes. That is false. Over 90% of illegal workers are paid by paycheck, using fake social security numbers. From which taxes are deducted, both income and social security taxes. They however cannot claim any refunds for those and will never be able to claim what they paid into social security even if they all became legal today, because they would be assigned new social security numbers. Essentially, a case could be made that the solvency of the social security system is protected by illegal immigrants, this is one reason why the Federal Government is so reluctant to stop illegal immigration.

2) The second assumption is that illegal immigration is a drain in social services. Most state budgets derive their funds by taxing property and retail sales. While most illegal are denied the ability to buy real property, they contribute through the rent paid to their landlords, who in turn pay property taxes. In addition, due to the inability of many to place their money in banks, use credit, or take loans, most illegal immigrants spend most of their money in consumer goods, often saving to buy a car or truck, but largely spend on personal consumption goods, through which they pay sales taxes, like everyone else does. And their use of social services is often lower than most citizens as they only use what they need like emergency medical help. More often than not however even in cases of emergencies, like pregnancies or accidents, most do not go to hospitals for fear of being turned into immigration authorities. And in most cases due to their illegal status they pay for services in cash and up front. Millions of small businesses rely on these illegal consumers, just as many others rely on their labor.

3) The third assumption is that illegals commit crimes (beyond entering the country) which endanger citizens. Actually illegals are far more conscious of not committing crimes for fear of deportation and are in fact less likely than citizens to commit a crime. They are however more likely to be the victims of crime and less likely to report it, again due to fear of deportation.

In all the statistics used to demean illegal immigrants are loaded with estimates that take numbers pertaining to the whole population of the United States, like the costs of a regular citizen to the government, add the cost of immigration enforcement and then fail to take into consideration the taxes paid by illegals and the fewer services that they consume.

In all, illegal immigrants are an asset not a liability to the United States as their return on investment always yeilds a positive balance. Unfortunately for the U.S., it looks like the only way this lesson will be learned is after all illegals are deported, and the true value comes to bear upon the American economy and society. Many who see illegals as a burden just don't get it, many just don't know, but they are all being led by those who know and just don't care for the consequences, and those are the ones who are pushing you to believe their dribble in exchange for your vote or for TV ratings.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Argentina Tells IMF to F--K Off

Plaza De Mayo, Buenos Aires, December 19, 2001

In 2001 Argentina's economy plummeted due to a combination of foreign influence, IMF policies, and President Mennen's adoption of the Washington Consensus. Following that, Argentina suffered through a humbling period of bank runs and complete economic collapse leading to the threat of defaulting against international debts and verged on the edge of political collapse. Now its, 2007, and Argentina is back, better than ever, and with a vengeance.

During the last meeting of the IMF, Argentina's President Nestor Kirchner said to the IMF Managing Director Rodrigo Rato, "spend your time talking to others, because we’ve almost forgotten about you." And continued to say “the IMF no longer can indicate what we should do, we well know what happened when we did so”. Kirchner then boasted of Argentina's economy as having “one of the highest international reserves in history, 37.430 billion US dollars”.

To the embarrassment of the IMF, while almost every country under its advice languishes in poverty, after Argentina abandoned the IMF after its economic collapse and returned to manage its own monetary policy, Argentina now stands as perhaps the only developing nation who has paid back all of its IMF loans and did so in 2006.

On the Lighter Side: Ask a Chola

[Editorial Note: I know many of you have come to this site for serious analysis and commentary on Latino issues, but there are many faces to the revolution here is one I just discovered out there on the net... That's one sexy bandana... Please welcome to the Insurgent Family, Ask a Chola.]



www.askachola.com

I do believe she is serious Frito-Lay

Friday, April 20, 2007

Puerto Rico Looses Again, All Week Long

by Michael Deliz

The past week has demonstrated once again how Puerto Rico's status as an American Colony continues to hurt Puerto Rico.

In the past week South America held its first Energy Summit to discuss regional energy supply issues... Puerto Rico could not be represented. During that meeting a new organization UNASUR or South American Union was formed and agreed upon by 10 nations to develop regional solutions for common problems including foreign trade issues.... Puerto Rico could not take part. In the Dominican Republic the RIO Group met representing 20 different Latin American countries and secured aid from the EU for development and increased trade with the European bloc... Puerto Rico could take part. Spain appointed its first ambassador to Caricom (Caribbean Community) to serve as a liaison for Spanish based industries interested in development in the Caribbean, Jamaica is particularly expected to benefit... Puerto Rico cannot compete for those investments. Trinidad announced the signing of an agreement to build a new oil refinery and begin construction of a Caribbean pipeline with financial aid from Venezuela... Puerto Rico cannot be part of the pipeline, nor can it look to build any refineries without US permission. Caricom announces an extension of the new visa program that enables open trvel among Caribbean countries, reinforcing trade in tourism... Puerto Rico cannot take part in the program. China announced a new trade deal with Cuba bringing the total amount of trade to 2 billion dollars between the two countries... Puerto Rico not allowed to compete. The World Trade Organization held another series of trade talks known as the Doha Round... Puerto Rico could not attend. CARIFORUM countries reenter negotiations to open trade with the European Union without tariffs on Caribbean products to directly benefit over 22 million people in every country of the Caribbean... except Puerto Rico. France announced a new project to lend French experts to help organize and manage government functions such as law enforcement, decreasing government corruption, and trade relations to help speed development in countries that apply for the expertise... Puerto Rico cannot apply.

This all happened this week... Makes you wonder what other opportunities Puerto Rico miss out in during the other 5,668 weeks since the United States took over the island.

Meanwhile in the US... The city council of Heperia, CA seeks to ban the display of all flags except the American flag. Nevada discussed making English its official language while in the U.S. Congress, bill H.R. 997 is moving quickly to adoption with 89 co-sponsoring representatives, aiming to restrict all government functions to English only.

EU Pledges Aid to Latin America

[Editorial Note: This is report from Dominican Today supports the conclusions expressed in the previously posted Latino Insurgent Analysis "South American Union Becoming a Reality". ]

Europe to present 2.6B euro aid package for Latin America in Dominican summit

SANTO DOMINGO. – During the 13th Ministerial Meeting with the Rio Group the European Union (EU) will present today Friday its 2.6 billion euro aid package for Latin America, to be disbursed over a period of 6 years.

"This dialogue is really important because we have close cultural ties and also share common values; in addition that there is no another alternative, we’re in this globalized world, we must cooperate more closely than in the past," said Germany’s Foreign Relations minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The diplomat and current president of the European Union Cabinet delivered the inaugural speech to open the summit, in which the EU’s financial aid package for Latin America will be announced.

For her part, Foreign Relations commissar Benita Ferrero-Waldner, quoted by the German Press Agency (DPA) said on Thursday "I believe that with this package we have kept our promises."

Ferrero-Waldner cited the commitments assumed in the 4th meeting of Heads of State of Latin America and Europe, held in Vienna in 2006. She and the members of the delegation, headed by Steinmeier, will present the financial aid program to the 20 Rio Group countries’ Foreign ministers before Friday.

According to the cooperation project, the 2.6 billion euros package will serve to finance programs to fight poverty, inequality and exclusion in Latin America from 2007 to 2013.

The funds will also allow the creation monitoring programs against government corruption, respect for human rights, as well as to promote regional economic cooperation and the relations between the European Union and Latin America. The EU’s cooperation proposal will also fund programs of sustainable development and to protect the biodiversity.

"Our relations are not only economic relations or of trade (...)therefore it’s fundamental that we find the capacity to see world-wide events with the same eyes to face the new challenges," such as climatic change, said Javier Solana, the senior European diplomat on Thursday.

The Foreign Relations ministers of the Rio Group’s 20 countries, a Latin America and the Caribbean dialogue mechanism, and the 27 EU nations are meeting today Friday to define collaboration programs and financial aid for Haiti.

After the inaugural ceremony the ministers began their first work session behind closed doors.

AP Reports: U.S. losing Caribbean clout

[Editorial Note: This report published by the Sun-Sentinel touches upon the smae developments covered in the previous Latino Insurgent analysis report "South American Union Becoming a Reality." This is of course only compounded by the EU's renewed interest in the region see upcoming report "EU Pledges Aid to Latin America & Caribbean"

U.S. losing Caribbean clout

By Jonathan M. Katz
The Associated Press

April 17, 2007

The United States neglects its Caribbean neighbors and is losing influence in the region to China and Venezuela, a U.S. Congress member visiting the islands said Monday.

U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat and chairman of the House International Relations subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, said officials in Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago feel Washington ignores the region and are looking elsewhere for investment and aid.

"The people there are begging us to be engaged. By our neglect, other countries operating in their own self-interest will move in and fill the void," Engel said by phone from Trinidad.

During a four-day Caribbean trip, Engel and four other congressional Democrats met with Trinidadian Prime Minister Patrick Manning and toured a Grenada medical school that draws a large number of U.S. students.

The other members of the delegation were Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee of California, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Yvette Clarke of New York.

In Grenada, the delegation stopped by a $40 million cricket stadium financed by China and rebuilt by Chinese workers after it was damaged in a 2004 hurricane.

"They built the whole place. They're moving in," said Engel, whose Bronx district is home to thousands of Caribbean immigrants.

U.S. aid to the Caribbean declined by more than a third in the 1990s and stayed low for most of this decade, the Congressional Research Service reported in 2005.

Though funding has risen since -- the White House requested $316 million in 2006 -- the majority of that assistance goes to Haiti.

Meanwhile, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has gained popularity offering low-cost, long-term financing for oil. China has dramatically increased investment in the region and recently asked to join the Inter-American Development Bank.

Chavez received a warm reception when he visited Haiti last month. And in March, Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez chastised Washington for having abandoned his country in its fight against surging cocaine traffic.

Copyright © 2007, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Thursday, April 19, 2007

South American Union Becoming a Reality



With the conclusion of the first South American Energy Summit, South American leaders surprised everyone with signing an agreement to established the UNASUR, Union of South American Nations. Ten of the twelve South American presidents attending the Energy Summit including Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Nestor Kirchner of Argentina, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Álvaro Uribe of Colombia, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Nestor Duarte of Paraguay, and the Prime Ministers of Guayana, Sam Hinds, and of Surinam, Gregory Rusland.

Only Peru and Uruguay decided to abstain from the measure, which actually provides details like the establishment of a headquarters in Quito, Ecuador and the election of an executive President to administer UNASUR meetings and issues, with the Protempore Secretariat located in Brasilia, Brazil. Looking a lot like a model of the European Union, composed of cross tangled treaties, UNASUR will house the regional agreements possibly including MERCOSUR, ALBA, OPPEGASUR, The Bank of the South, the Great Gas Pipeline of the South, the Trans-Caribbean Pipeline, and the Andean Community Bloc.

Latino Insurgent ANALYSIS:

This development pushes forward the 2004 Cuzco Declaration, which seemed stalled for a while, and outlined a road to developing a regional parliament, a common market and a common currency.

If South America can elect an executive president, a regional parliament will follow to balance the executive office. Once the Bank of the South is established, which Brazil has now joined with Venezuela, Bolivia, and Argentina, a common currency will be possible. The true next step will have to be the integration of the ALBA, MERCOSUR and Andean Community economic blocs. This common market will be necessary for a common currency to arise. The Suro???

There are problems to be overcome however. Cuba is a member of ALBA and by American decree under the Helms-Burton Act nations who trade openly with Cuba can face economic sanctions from the United States. In addition is Colombia's relationship and dependency with the United States who wields great influence in the country under the American program called "Plan Colombia". As a member of the Andean Community, Colombia could block integration if leaned upon by the United States. Panama, which did not take part in the Energy Summit will nevertheless play a crucial role as the bridge between the continents and the bridge between the oceans. However due to its importance to the United States, by which the US navy can move rapidly from the Atlantic to the Pacific and considered the single most important defensive bulwark of the United States, integration of Panama into UNASUR will be an objective for member nations and the primary reason for the United States to obstruct that objective.

Any trouble concerning the Panama Canal will however draw the attention of China and the European Union which could easily push for the waterway to be declared neutral and with it for Panama to remain outside of any and all trade blocs. Consequently, as UNASUR will present a challenge to American influence, the true tug of war will be among the the nations of Central America under CAFTA and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), in which the European Union has preference and the United States is often seen as an obstacle to progress. The competition for dominance however will swing with UNASUR, which will likely align itself more closely with the European Union than the United States. This shift will of course also benefit China, as the similar competition for Africa between the US and the EU is slowly delivering the region to Chinese influence.

Interestingly, African nations prefer their Chinese "uncle" due to the country's tradition against intervention and its apparent present untouchable trade position and monetary stability.

These are interesting times, don't you think.

China gets tough on spending

Latin America and the US can learn a lot from China's new regulations to save money and the environment, despite the country's record setting budget surplus. This is from the Xinhua News Agency.

Report:

The Chinese government will ban the construction of wasteful and extravagant official buildings, including departmental hotels and entertainment centers.

A circular from the State Council and the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has detailed a list of features prohibited from government buildings.

It includes:

-- Lobby areas higher than a single storey.

-- Meeting rooms equipped with simultaneous translating facilities.

-- Indoors gardens.

-- Atriums.

-- Stage areas with audio-visual equipment

The construction of "luxurious" government buildings has incurred many public complaints, said the circular.

It sets a cost limit of 4,000 yuan (US$512) per meter in the construction of ministerial level buildings.

The circular requires all government officials to be frugal in spending public money because China is still a developing country.

The circular orders finance and expenditure officials to thoroughly inspect construction plans of government buildings.

"The government will veto plans for any multi-functional meeting or training centers of government departments or institutions," the circular said, referring to the addition of restaurants and hotel-style accommodations in government buildings.

"Nor will funds from the government budget be allocated to renovate existing centers."

All government office buildings should be "stately," simple, and practical without "luxurious" interior or exterior decorations, the circular reads.

The elevators, heating, and air-conditioning facilities in these buildings must be environmentally friendly and energy-efficient.

All funding for the construction of government buildings must be allocated from the central budget. Bank loans or donations under any guise are prohibited.

It also requires departments and institutions in charge of construction planning and auditing to thoroughly investigate government buildings constructed in recent years or those under construction.

The circular stipulates that excessive space could be confiscated and sold if the constructions violated government rules.

(Xinhua News Agency April 18, 2007)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Puerto Rico as a member of the European Union

The colonial status of Puerto Rico is the defining political issue in island politics and has been for over half a century. The decision still to be made rests upon three options, Statehood, Commonwealth, and Independence. Those of you who have followed my posts already know my preference for an Independent and Sovereign Puerto Rico.

Most among the academic/intellectual junta support the idea of independence, while most of the money elite supports statehood. While most unionized workers support the Commonwealth status. All else are roughly distributed among statehood and commonwealth, while many of our western Jibaro communities look to independence.

If we look at the numbers from affiliation to a political party we would find that independence hovers around the 5% rate while statehood and Commonwealth split the difference.

Many commonwealth voters are called "melones" (melons) presenting themselves as being pro-independence (with green party color), while voting pro-commonwealth (red party color). This means that while pro-independence may only garner 5% of the vote at most, it may actually command the allegiance of many who vote pro-commonwealth simply to oppose a pro statehood victory. Many others although they will not vote for statehood, would vote for statehood if their only other option were independence, due to fear for the believed instability it would bring to the island. The exact numbers however are impossible to garner.

So lets say that the melones constitutes about half of all pro-commonwealth voters, meaning that given a referendum pitting Statehood vs. Independence: support of each would be something like 70% and 30% respectively. This would not be however, lets remember, a representation of the people's wishes, but a result of choice manipulation.

This is the type of manipulation the pro statehood party, by way of Luis Fortuño, is trying to pull off in their support for House Bill 900 (H.R. 900). However the response to this manipulative legislation, House Bill 1230 (H.R.1230), doesn't propose any solution, but instead maintains the impasse among the political parties.

While the continuing impasse will definitely help to stave off statehood, it will not however solve the island's problems and will simply allow for further procrastination while the island continues to fall apart.

The problem is a lack of choices.

See, statehooders want economic stability and security above all, Independentistas want sovereignty and cultural security above all, while pro commonwealthers want both, the stability and security provided by the United States, and the cultural security that statehood threatens. Essentially the problem is one of perceptions and fears.

So is it possible that there is a fourth option? An alternative that still lies unexplored? Yes there are several, all of which disappear from the list of options if the issue is only seen from an American-centered point of view. If we step back, however there is another highly promising alternative for Puerto Rico; an option that provides all Puerto Ricans with everything they want and makes the fears vanish; The European Union.

The European Union is a conglomerate representative system of sovereign nations who maintain their individual character while acting through a solid economic block. It is also an integrationist system that seeks expansion, not through conquest, but through commonly shared economic and social goals. Allegiance with, and integration into, this system would guarantee all the Puerto Rican political parties their desires while eliminating their fears.

For statehooders membership into the European Union would provide the security inherent in the system without the American penchant for going to war. Economically, the money elite would have access to the world's most stable currency and the one of the most diverse and dynamic. While equally guaranteeing a democratic government in an independent Puerto Rico. As many members of the EU also do, if Puerto Rico chooses, it can retain the American military presense in the island, as many European nations have.

For independentistas membership would provide a sovereign government, with representation in all international bodies. These would include the UN, OAS, EUC, WTO, ect. It means that English would never be forced down Puerto RIcan throats by Congress, it means that local courts will not be overturned by a foreign court. It means that no Puerto Rican will be threatened with Capital Punishment as it is outlawed in Europe. More importantly it means that Puerto Rico will be able to protect its history and culture.

For Commonwealthers it would provide the best of both worlds without the risks of either statehood or independence.

The questions are then: Can Puerto Rico envision this possibility? And would it be welcomed by Europe. The answer is yes on both counts.

CAN PUERTO RICO ENVISION THIS POSSIBILITY?
Yes, if the political leadership of Puerto Rico sits down and discusses the idea, the result will be consensus, and if all three political parties can look past their ties to American interests and or regional movements, they will be able to present this as a welcomed solution to the people of Puerto Rico.

WOULD EUROPE WELCOME PUERTO RICO?
Yes, the European Union is neither dominated by a single ethnic group nor does it restrict membership to nations based upon arbitrary rules. Instead it practices a system of integration which is based on meeting certain social, economic, and political criteria. These are already met by Puerto Rico and in many ways surpasses the ratings of many aspiring members.

Puerto Rico also presents a number of opportunities that many interest groups throughout Europe would look favorably towards Puerto Rican integration. 1) Puerto Rico would serve as the only Spanish speaking member in the Caribbean, providing the EU greater influence in a region typically dominated by the United States, a domination many Europeans are looking forward to challenge. 2) Puerto Rico is a overwhelmingly Christian nation, around 98%, providing a balance to the increase of Muslim citizens in the Union and the upcoming membership of Turkey which many influential Christian interest groups oppose. 3)Puerto Rico's close relationship with the US will then be also an asset as European corporations will be able to look to the island as a bridge to the US, not just Latin America, as many others see turkey as a bridge to the Middle East. 4) The relative poverty of Puerto Rico in comparison to European nations, however would provide Europe with inexpensive labor within the Union and on the doorstep of the United States and Latin America, while the island also serves to restrain inflation in Europe. 5) While relatively poor, however the island is often regarded as the richest in the Caribbean, and is richer than most of the eastern European nations seeking membership. Its position in the Caribbean would also strengthen the economies of European dependencies in the region.

The final question is whether this opportunity to provide for Puerto Rico and to provide for Europe will be more than just thoughts on a blog.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Castro: Where shall poor Third World countries find the basic resources needed to survive?


[Editorial Comment by Michael Deliz -- Fidel Castro, the spur on the heel of the United States, has recently written a series of articles questioning the newfound interest of the United States in ethanol, arguing that the use of food as fuel threatens the livelyhood of millions in porr countries. This is his latest communique on the issue released today through Granma International and gathered here through my Press TV RSS. The topic is a serious one and I believe it is important that critics of Castro's policies separate their personal hatred for the man from the message he is trying to deliver.]

Where Have All the Bees Gone?
By Fidel Castro

The Camp David meeting has just come to an end. All of us followed the press conference offered by the presidents of the United States and Brazil attentively, as we did the news surrounding the meeting and the opinions voiced in this connection.

Faced with demands related to customs duties and subsidies which protect and support U.S. ethanol production, Bush did not make the slightest concession to his Brazilian guest at Camp David.

President Lula attributed to this the rise in corn prices, which, according to his own statements, had gone up more than 85 percent.

Before these statements were made, the Washington Post had published an article by the Brazilian leader which expounded on the idea of transforming food into fuel.

It is not my intention to hurt Brazil or to meddle in the internal affairs of this great country. It was in effect in Rio de Janeiro, host of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, exactly 15 years ago, where I delivered a 7-minute speech vehemently denouncing the environmental dangers that menaced our species' survival. Bush Sr., then President of the United States, was present at that meeting and applauded my words out of courtesy; all other presidents there applauded, too.

No one at Camp David answered the fundamental question. Where are the more than 500 million tons of corn and other cereals which the United States, Europe and wealthy nations require to produce the gallons of ethanol that big companies in the United States and other countries demand in exchange for their voluminous investments going to be produced and who is going to supply them? Where are the soy, sunflower and rape seeds, whose essential oils these same, wealthy nations are to turn into fuel, going to be produced and who will produce them?

Some countries are food producers which export their surpluses. The balance of exporters and consumers had already become precarious before this and food prices had skyrocketed. In the interests of brevity, I shall limit myself to pointing out the following:

According to recent data, the five chief producers of corn, barley, sorghum, rye, millet and oats which Bush wants to transform into the raw material of ethanol production, supply the world market with 679 million tons of these products. Similarly, the five chief consumers, some of which also produce these grains, currently require 604 million annual tons of these products. The available surplus is less than 80 million tons of grain.

This colossal squandering of cereals destined to fuel production -and these estimates do not include data on oily seeds-shall serve to save rich countries less than 15 percent of the total annual consumption of their voracious automobiles.

At Camp David, Bush declared his intention of applying this formula around the world. This spells nothing other than the internationalization of genocide.

In his statements, published by the Washington Post on the eve of the Camp David meeting, the Brazilian president affirmed that less than one percent of Brazil's arable land was used to grow cane destined to ethanol production. This is nearly three times the land surface Cuba used when it produced nearly 10 million tons of sugar a year, before the crisis that befell the Soviet Union and the advent of climate changes.

Our country has been producing and exporting sugar for a longer time. First, on the basis of the work of slaves, whose numbers swelled to over 300 thousand in the first years of the 19th century and who turned the Spanish colony into the world's number one exporter. Nearly one hundred years later, at the beginning of the 20th century, when Cuba was a pseudo-republic which had been denied full independence by U.S. interventionism, it was immigrants from the West Indies and illiterate Cubans alone who bore the burden of growing and harvesting sugarcane on the island. The scourge of our people was the off-season, inherent to the cyclical nature of the harvest. Sugarcane plantations were the property of U.S. companies or powerful Cuban-born landowners. Cuba, thus, has more experience than anyone as regards the social impact of this crop.

This past Sunday, April 1, CNN televised the opinions of Brazilian experts who affirm that many lands destined to sugarcane have been purchased by wealthy Americans and Europeans.

As part of my reflections on the subject, published on March 29, I expounded on the impact climate change has had on Cuba and on other basic characteristics of our country's climate which contribute to this.

On our poor and anything but consumerist island, one would be unable to find enough workers to endure the rigors of the harvest and to care for the sugarcane plantations in the ever more intense heat, rains or droughts. When hurricanes lash the island, not even the best machines can harvest the bent-over and twisted canes. For centuries, the practice of burning sugarcane was unknown and no soil was compacted under the weight of complex machines and enormous trucks. Nitrogen, potassium and phosphate fertilizers, today extremely expensive, did not yet even exist, and the dry and wet months succeeded each other regularly. In modern agriculture, no high yields are possible without crop rotation methods.

On Sunday, April 1, the French Press Agency (AFP) published disquieting reports on the subject of climate change, which experts gathered by the United Nations already consider an inevitable phenomenon that will spell serious repercussions for the world in the coming decades.

According to a UN report to be approved next week in Brussels, climate change will have a significant impact on the American continent, generating more violent storms and heat waves and causing droughts, the extinction of some species and even hunger in Latin America.

The AFP report indicates that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forewarned that at the end of this century, every hemisphere will endure water-related problems and, if governments take no measures in this connection, rising temperatures could increase the risks of mortality, contamination, natural catastrophes and infectious diseases.

In Latin America, global warming is already melting glaciers in the Andes and threatening the Amazon forest, whose perimeter may slowly be turned into a savannah, the cable goes on to report.

Because a great part of its population lives near the coast, the United States is also vulnerable to extreme natural phenomena, as hurricane Katrina demonstrated in 2005.
According to AFP, this is the second of three IPCC reports which began to be published last February, following an initial scientific forecast which established the certainty of climate change.

This second 1400-page report which analyzes climate change in different sectors and regions, of which AFP has obtained a copy, considers that, even if radical measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that pollute the atmosphere are taken, the rise in temperatures around the planet in the coming decades is already unavoidable, concludes the French Press Agency.

As was to be expected, at the Camp David meeting, Dan Fisk, National Security advisor for the region, declared that "in the discussion on regional issues, [I expect] Cuba to come up () if there's anyone that knows how to create starvation, it's Fidel Castro. He also knows how not to do ethanol".

As I find myself obliged to respond to this gentleman, it is my duty to remind him that Cuba's infant mortality rate is lower than the United States'. All citizens -- this is beyond question -- enjoy free medical services. Everyone has access to education and no one is denied employment, in spite of nearly half a century of economic blockade and the attempts of U.S. governments to starve and economically asphyxiate the people of Cuba.

China would never devote a single ton of cereals or leguminous plants to the production of ethanol, and it is an economically prosperous nation which is breaking growth records, where all citizens earn the income they need to purchase essential consumer items, despite the fact that 48 percent of its population, which exceeds 1.3 billion, works in agriculture. On the contrary, it has set out to reduce energy consumption considerably by shutting down thousands of factories which consume unacceptable amounts of electricity and hydrocarbons. It imports many of the food products mentioned above from far-off corners of the world, transporting these over thousands of miles.

Scores of countries do not produce hydrocarbons and are unable to produce corn and other grains or oily seeds, for they do not even have enough water to meet their most basic needs.

At a meeting on ethanol production held in Buenos Aires by the Argentine Oil Industry Chamber and Cereals Exporters Association, Loek Boonekamp, the Dutch head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)'s commercial and marketing division, told the press that governments are very much enthused about this process but that they should objectively consider whether ethanol ought to be given such resolute support.

According to Boonekamp, the United States is the only country where ethanol can be profitable and, without subsidies, no other country can make it viable.

According to the report, Boonekamp insists that ethanol is not manna from Heaven and that we should not blindly commit to developing this process.

Today, developed countries are pushing to have fossil fuels mixed with biofuels at around five percent and this is already affecting agricultural prices. If this figure went up to 10 percent, 30 percent of the United States' cultivated surface and 50 percent of Europe's would be required. That is the reason Boonekamp asks himself whether the process is sustainable, as an increase in the demand for crops destined to ethanol production would generate higher and less stable prices.

Protectionist measures are today at 54 cents per gallon and real subsidies reach far higher figures.

Applying the simple arithmetic we learned in high school, we could show how, by simply replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones, as I explained in my previous reflections, millions and millions of dollars in investment and energy could be saved, without the need to use a single acre of farming land.

In the meantime, we are receiving news from Washington, through the AP, reporting that the mysterious disappearance of millions of bees throughout the United States has edged beekeepers to the brink of a nervous breakdown and is even cause for concern in Congress, which will discuss this Thursday the critical situation facing this insect, essential to the agricultural sector. According to the report, the first disquieting signs of this enigma became evident shortly after Christmas in the state of Florida, when beekeepers discovered that their bees had vanished without a trace. Since then, the syndrome which experts have christened as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has reduced the country's swarms by 25 percent.

Daniel Weaver, president of the U.S. Beekeepers Association, stated that more than half a million colonies, each with a population of nearly 50 thousand bees, had been lost. He added that the syndrome has struck 30 of the country's 50 states. What is curious about the phenomenon is that, in many cases, the mortal remains of the bees are not found.

According to a study conducted by Cornell University, these industrious insects pollinate crops valued at anywhere from 12 to 14 billion dollars.

Scientists are entertaining all kinds of hypotheses, including the theory that a pesticide may have caused the bees' neurological damage and altered their sense of orientation. Others lay the blame on the drought and even mobile phone waves, but, what's certain is that no one knows exactly what has unleashed this syndrome.

The worst may be yet to come: a new war aimed at securing gas and oil supplies that can take humanity to the brink of total annihilation.

Invoking intelligence sources, Russian newspapers have reported that a war on Iran has been in the works for over three years now, since the day the government of the United States resolved to occupy Iraq completely, unleashing a seemingly endless and despicable civil war.

All the while, the government of the United States devotes hundreds of billions to the development of highly sophisticated technologies, as those which employ micro-electronic systems or new nuclear weapons which can strike their targets an hour following the order to attack.

The United States brazenly turns a deaf ear to world public opinion, which is against all kinds of nuclear weapons.

Razing all of Iran's factories to the ground is a relatively easy task, from the technical point of view, for a powerful country like the United States. The difficult task may come later, if a new war were to be unleashed against another Muslim faith which deserves our utmost respect, as do all other religions of the Near, Middle or Far East, predating or postdating Christianity.

The arrest of English soldiers at Iran's territorial waters recalls the nearly identical act of provocation of the so-called "Brothers to the Rescue" who, ignoring President Clinton's orders advanced over our country's territorial waters. Cuba's absolutely legitimate and defensive action gave the United States a pretext to promulgate the well-known Helms-Burton Act, which encroaches upon the sovereignty of other nations besides Cuba. The powerful media have consigned that episode to oblivion. No few people attribute the price of oil, at nearly 70 dollars a gallon as of Monday, to fears of a possible invasion of Iran.

Where shall poor Third World countries find the basic resources needed to survive?

I am not exaggerating or using overblown language. I am confining myself to the facts.

As can be seen, the polyhedron has many dark faces.

(courtesy Granma translated by www.Counterpunch.org)

PDM/HAR
Source: Press TV