Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Castro: Britain working towards "the holocaust of the species"



REFLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT FIDEL CASTRO

The English Submarine
by Fidel Castro

The press dispatches bring the news; it belongs to the Astute Class, the first of its kind to be constructed in Great Britain in more than two decades.

“A nuclear reactor will allow it to navigate without refueling during its 25 years of service. Since it makes its own oxygen and drinking water, it can circumnavigate the globe without needing to surface,” was the statement to the BBC by Nigel Ward, head of the shipyards.

“It’s a mean-looking beast”, says another.

“Looming above us is a construction shed 12 stories high. Within it are 3 nuclear-powered submarines at different stages of construction,” assures yet another.

Someone says that “it can observe the movements of cruisers in New York Harbor right from the English Channel, drawing close to the coast without being detected and listen to conversations on cell phones”. “In addition, it can transport special troops in mini-subs that, at the same time, will be able to fire lethal Tomahawk missiles for distances of 1,400 miles", a fourth person declares.

El Mercurio, the Chilean newspaper, emphatically spreads the news.

The British Royal Navy declares that it will be one of the most advanced in the world. The first of them will be launched on June 8 and will go into service in January of 2009.

It can transport up to 38 Tomahawk cruise missiles and Spearfish torpedoes, capable of destroying a large warship. It will possess a permanent crew of 98 sailors who will even be able to watch movies on giant plasma screens.

The new Astute will carry the latest generation of Block 4 Tomahawk torpedoes, which can be reprogrammed in flight. It will be the first one not having a system of conventional periscopes and, instead, will be using fiber optics, infrared waves and thermal imaging.

“BAE Systems, the armaments manufacturer, will build two other submarines of the same class,” AP reported. The total cost of the three submarines, according to calculations that will certainly be below the mark, is 7.5 billion dollars.

What a feat for the British! The intelligent and tenacious people of that nation will surely not feel any sense of pride. What is most amazing is that with such an amount of money, 75 thousand doctors could be trained to care for 150 million people, assuming that the cost of training a doctor would be one-third of what it costs in the United States. You could build 3,000 polyclinics, outfitted with sophisticated equipment, ten times what our country possesses.

Cuba is currently training thousands of young people from other countries as medical doctors.

In any remote African village, a Cuban doctor can impart medical knowledge to any youth from the village or from the surrounding municipality who has the equivalent of a 12th-grade education, using videos and computers energized by a small solar panel; the youth does not even have to leave his hometown, nor does he need to be contaminated with the consumer habits of a large city.

The important thing is the patients who are suffering from malaria or any other of the typical and unmistakable diseases that the student will be seeing together the doctor.

The method has been tested with surprising results. The knowledge and practical experience accumulated for years have no possible comparison.

The non-lucrative practice of medicine is capable of winning over all noble hearts.

Since the beginning of the Revolution, Cuba has been engaged in training doctors, teachers and other professionals; with a population of less than 12 million inhabitants, today we have more Comprehensive General Medicine specialists than all the doctors in sub-Saharan Africa where the population exceeds 700 million people.

We must bow our heads in awe after reading the news about the English submarine. It teaches us, among other things, about the sophisticated weapons that are needed to maintain the untenable order developed by the United States imperial system.

We cannot forget that for centuries, and until recently, England was called the Queen of the Seas. Today, what remains of that privileged position is merely a fraction of the hegemonic power of her ally and leader, the United States.

Churchill said: Sink the Bismarck! Today, Blair says: Sink whatever remains of Great Britain’s prestige!

For that purpose, or for the holocaust of the species, is what his “marvelous submarine” will be good for.

Fidel Castro Ruz

May 21, 2007

5:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Latino Insurgent Classic: Hector Lavoe at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente, 1973

Certain things we will never see again...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Council on Hemispheric Affairs Bitch-Slaps Washington Post

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs responds to the a recent article by the Washington Post.

Re: "Assault on an Ally"

Washington Post
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007
Article Summary: The Post criticizes Democrats for their concern with the present humanitarian crisis in Colombia

With U.S.-Latin American relations growing increasingly strained, The Post may want to think twice about calling Colombia’s President Uribe an ally (“Assault on an Ally,” May 6, 2007). More so, your editorial revealed considerable error regarding the actual functioning of Plan Colombia.

Those responsible for the cruel treatment of tens of thousands of innocent civilians are hardly being brought to justice. Uribe’s formula grants rightwing paramilitary impunity on the most minimum of terms, such as paying an insulting pittance to the relatives of brutalized victims.

The Post seems to trivialize Colombia’s grave humanitarian crisis by calling it a “supposed” rights crisis, insinuating that the mass murders and increasing poverty levels are not worthy enough grounds for rejecting a U.S.-Colombian trade deal. Colombia is currently home to the second largest population of displaced persons in the world. Potable water and adequate nutrition is a distant reality since 49% of Colombians live in poverty. The Post correctly asserts Uribe’s 80.4% approval rating, but it is hard to believe that those living in such conditions would, if they had a real alternative, continue to favor a President who continues to dedicate billions of U.S. foreign aid dollars to ineffective drug plans and abetting the paramilitaries, rather than authentic social development.

Touting Uribe’s regime as “democratic” may comfort Washington but hardly legitimizes embattled U.S. policy in the region.

COHA Research Associate Laura Wayne
May 22nd, 2007

Latino Insurgent Classic: Kortatu sings "Nicaragua Sandinista"

Kortatu was a punk/ska band from the Basque country in Spain. This is a concert in Nicaragua, I believe, probably in the late 1980s. I've tried looking up some more information but the band disbanded around 1989 and there are few sources. If there are any insurgents out there with more info please share it in the comments section.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Something Interesting: President's Statement on Anniversary of Cuba's Independence

President's Statement on Anniversary of Cuba's Independence

I send greetings to all those celebrating the 105th anniversary of Cuba's Independence.

The longing for justice, freedom, and human rights is a desire that can be delayed but never denied. The United States remains committed to extending the full blessings of liberty around the world, and on this important milestone, we stand united with freedom-loving people of all nations in the conviction that Cuba's future must be one of dignity, liberty, and opportunity.

This day is also an opportunity to recognize the generations of Cuban Americans who have made contributions to our society. Your hard work and high ideals reflect the best of America and enrich our Nation.

Laura and I send our best wishes. May God bless the people of Cuba and all the sons and daughters of Cuba who call America home.

GEORGE W. BUSH



This is of course very funny for all who know the history of Cuba's independence. Yes, on May 20th 1902 Cuba won its independence... from the United States. The United States invaded Cuba under the pretense of liberating Cuba from Spain, landing in July of 1898 and by August of 1898 the war was over. The US then stayed occupying Cuba [pictured] for almost four years until the Cuban Congress agreed to the demands of the McKinley Administration. Demands made clear through the forced adoption of the Platt Amendment to Cuba's constitution:

Whereas the Congress of the United States of America, by an Act approved March 2, 1901, provided as follows:

Provided further, That in fulfillment of the declaration contained in the joint resolution approved April twentieth, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, entitled "For the recognition of the independence of the people of Cuba, demanding that the Government of Spain relinquish its authority and government in the island of Cuba, and withdraw its land and naval forces from Cuba and Cuban waters, and directing the President of the United States to use the land and naval forces of the United States to carry these resolutions into effect," the President is hereby authorized to "leave the government and control of the island of Cuba to its people" so soon as a government shall have been established in said island under a constitution which, either as a part thereof or in an ordinance appended thereto, shall define the future relations of the United States with Cuba, substantially as follows:

"I.-That the government of Cuba shall never enter into any treaty or other compact with any foreign power or powers which will impair or tend to impair the independence of Cuba, nor in any manner authorize or permit any foreign power or powers to obtain by colonization or for military or naval purposes or otherwise, lodgement in or control over any portion of said island."

"II. That said government shall not assume or contract any public debt, to pay the interest upon which, and to make reasonable sinking fund provision for the ultimate discharge of which, the ordinary revenues of the island, after defraying the current expenses of government shall be inadequate."

"III. That the government of Cuba consents that the United States may exercise the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence, the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty, and for discharging the obligations with respect to Cuba imposed by the treaty of Paris on the United States, now to be assumed and undertaken by the government of Cuba."

"IV. That all Acts of the United States in Cuba during its military occupancy thereof are ratified and validated, and all lawful rights acquired thereunder shall be maintained and protected."

"V. That the government of Cuba will execute, and as far as necessary extend, the plans already devised or other plans to be mutually agreed upon, for the sanitation of the cities of the island, to the end that a recurrence of epidemic and infectious diseases may be prevented, thereby assuring protection to the people and commerce of Cuba, as well as to the commerce of the southern ports of the United States and the people residing therein."

"VI. That the Isle of Pines shall be omitted from the proposed constitutional boundaries of Cuba, the title thereto being left to future adjustment by treaty."

"VII. That to enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own defense, the government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points to be agreed upon with the President of the United States."

"VIII. That by way of further assurance the government of Cuba will embody the foregoing provisions in a permanent treaty with the United States."


Well after recognizing Cuba's transition into an independent republic, United States assumed temporary military rule for three more years between 1906-1909 following a rebellion led by Jose Miguel Gomez. In 1912 U.S. forces returned again to Cuba to quell protests by Afro-Cubans against perceived discrimination. By 1926 U.S companies owned 60% of the Cuban sugar industry and imported 95% of the total Cuban crop, and Washington was generally supportive of successive Cuban Governments. However, internal confrontations between the government of Gerardo Machado (1925-33) and political opposition led to a military overthrow by Cuban rebels in 1933. U.S. Ambassador Sumner Welles requested U.S. military intervention. President Roosevelt, despite his promotion of the Good Neighbor Policy toward Latin America, ordered 29 warships to Cuba and Key West, alerting U.S. Marines, and bombers for use if necessary. Machado's replacement, Ramón Grau assumed the Presidency and immediately nullified the Platt Amendment. In protest, the United States denied recognition to Grau's government, Ambassador Welles describing the new regime as "communistic" and "irresponsible". [adapted source from wikipedia article]

I can only assume that President Bush wasn't referring to that period of Cuba's struggle for independence. Instead he refers to the current Communist period under Fidel Castro, under which the United States maintains Cuba under the longest and most stringent of embargoes which maintains Cuba in a state of poverty. He's definitely not referring to American support of Fulgencio Batista, the American backed dictator who ruled by sheer fascist oppression of the Cuban people and beggat the necessity of Castro's rebellion to overthrow him in 1959. He's definitely not referring to his administration's increased restrictions on Cubans who wish to visit their family members in the island, nor is he referring to the 80 million dollars earmarked for the overthrow of the Cuban Government by Bush's own Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba which doesn't include a single Cuban.

Feliz Dia de la Independencia Cubana. Even if I'm a little late, and even if no one except President Bush celebrates this day.

Castro: Pay attention to the complexities of human activity

A new essay by Cuban President Fidel Castro, as always an interesting and enlightening read.

The Unanimous Opinion

At the 6th Hemispheric Meeting in Havana, when the discussion turned to the subject of production of biofuels from foodstuffs, which are constantly getting more expensive, the huge majority voiced their opposition with indignation. But it was undeniable that some individuals with prestige, authority and good faith had been won over by the idea that the planet's biomass would suffice for both things in a relatively short time, mindless of the urgency to produce the foods, which are already scarce enough, that would be used as raw material for ethanol and agridiesel.

On the other hand, when the debate on the Free Trade Agreements with the United States began, several dozen people took part and all of them unanimously condemned both the bilateral and multilateral forms of such agreements with the imperialist power.

Taking into account the need for space, I shall return to the method of summarizing in order to present three eloquent speeches made by Latin American personalities who expressed extremely interesting concepts with great clarity and distinctiveness. As in all the summaries in previous reflections, the authors’ exact manner of presentation is respected.

ALBERTO ARROYO (Mexico, Red mexicana de Acción contra el Libre Comercio- Mexican Action Network against Free Trade).

I would like to share with you the new plans of the empire and attempt to alert the rest of the continent about something new which is on the upswing or that is coming forward as a new strategy for a new phase of the United States’ offensive. NAFTA or the FTA of North America was merely the first step of something that it wants for the entire continent.

The new attempt does not seem to take into account the defeat in the implementation of the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas), which even in it’s Plan “B” recognizes that it cannot implement what it calls the comprehensive FTAA simultaneously in all the countries of the continent; it will try proceeding, piece by piece, negotiating bilateral Free Trade Agreements.

It succeeded in signing with Central America, but Costa Rica has not ratified it. In the case of the Andean nations, it has not even succeeded in sitting down at the bargaining table with all the countries, but only with two of them; and with these two it has not been able to conclude negotiations.

What is so new about the SPP (Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America)? I see three fundamental issues:

First: To strengthen military and security structures in order to confront the resistance of the peoples is precisely its reaction to the triumph of the movement that is jeopardizing its plans.

It is not a question of simply stationing military bases in danger zones or in areas with a high level of strategic natural resources, but trying to establish a close coordination, with plans concerted with the countries, in order to improve the security structures which are a way of confronting the social movements as if they were criminals.

This is the first novel aspect.

The second element, which also seems new to me: the principal actors in this entire neoliberal scheme were always directly the transnationals. The governments, particularly the United States government, were the spokesmen, the ones who formally carried out the negotiations, but really the interests that they were defending were directly those of the corporations. They were the great actors hidden behind the FTA and the FTAA project.

The novelty of the new SPP scheme is that these actors come out of the blue, take the foreground and the relationship is inverted: the corporate groups directly talking amongst themselves, in the presence of the governments that will then attempt to translate their agreements into policies, rule changes, changes of laws, etc. It was not enough for them now to privatize the public corporations; they are privatizing policy per se. The businessmen had never directly defined economic policy.

The SPP starts in a meeting, let’s say it’s called, “A meeting for the prosperity of North America”; they were tri-national meetings of businessmen.

Among the operative agreements being taken up by the SPP, one is the creation of tri-national committees by sectors – what they call “captains of industry” – so that these define a strategic development plan of the sector in the North American region. In other words, Ford is multiplied or divided into three parts: that is, the Ford Corporation in the United States, the subsidiary of Ford in Mexico and the subsidiary of Ford in Canada decide the strategy for the auto industry sector in North America. It’s the Ford Motor Company speaking to a mirror, with its own employees, with the directors of auto companies in Canada and in Mexico, to agree on a strategic plan that they will present to their governments which will translate and implement them into concrete economic policies.

There is a scheme to incorporate the security element; second point, to directly privatize the negotiations; and the third new aspect of this structure is perhaps, remembering a saying of our classic grandparents, that phrase of Engels where he was explaining that when the people are ready to take power through the mechanisms of formal democracy, like the zero on a thermometer or the 100, the rules of the game change: water will either freeze or boil, and even though we are speaking about bourgeois democracies, they will be first ones to break the rules.

The Free Trade Agreements have to go through congresses, and the fact is that it is getting more difficult to have them ratified by congresses, including the Congress of the empire, the United States Congress.

They are saying that this is not an international treaty therefore it doesn’t have to get approved by the congresses. But, as it does touch on issues that disrupt the legal framework in our countries, they will present in bit by bit; they will decide on a modification to legislation in a minute, and another one in the next minute; executive decrees to be implemented, changes in operative regulations, rules for standard functioning, but never the whole package.

Even though they were negotiated behind our backs and behind the backs of all peoples in general, sooner or later the Free Trade Agreements will be translated into a written text that will go to the congresses and then we will know what it was that they agreed to. They would like us never to know what was agreed to, they will only let us see fragments of the strategy, because it is never going to get translated into a complete text.

I shall close with a story so that we can realize the degree of sophistication, with regards to security, that these agreements and operative mechanisms of integration of security apparatuses have reached.

A short while ago, a plane took off from Toronto with tourists headed for a vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. While the plane was on the runway, the passenger list was examined again more carefully, and they discovered that there was someone there from Bush’s list of terrorists.

As soon as the plane entered American air space –when you fly out of Toronto, American air space begins after you pass the Great Lakes and, in a jet, this takes a few minutes – two F-16s showed up flying alongside. They led the plane out of American air space and escorted it to Mexican territory where they forced it to land in the military section of the airport; then, they arrested this man and sent his family back.

You can imagine the impression those 200 poor tourists on the plane had, seeing the two armed F-16s flying alongside and rerouting the plane.

Later, it turned out that he was not the terrorist that they thought, and they said to him: “Sorry, you can carry on with your vacation now, and make sure you call your family to come and join you.”

JORGE CORONADO (Costa Rica, Continental Social Alliance)

The struggle against free trade in the region has various features. One of the most devastating projects that have been proposed for the infrastructure, for the appropriation of our biodiversity, is the Puebla-Panama Plan, a strategy that not only appropriates our resources, but comes out of a military strategy of the empire covering the territory from the south of Mexico right up to Colombia, passing through Central America.

In the struggle against hydroelectric dams which uproot and take by force the indigenous and peasant lands there have been cases where, using military repression, they have uprooted various native and peasant communities in the region.

We have the component of the struggle against the mining industry. Canadian, European and American transnationals have been pursuing this appropriation strategy.

We have been confronting the privatization of public services: electrical energy, water, telecommunications; the struggle in the peasant sector to defend seeds, against the patenting of living beings and against the loss of sovereignty to the transgenics.

We have been struggling against labor flexibility, one of the focuses oriented to the sector and, obviously, against the entire picture of dismantlement of our small scale peasant production.

Also, the struggle against the subject of intellectual property, which removes the use of generic medicines from our security, these being the main distribution focus which our social security institutes have in the region .

A central factor in this struggle against free trade has been against the Free Trade Agreements and, particularly, against the Free Trade Agreements with the United States, passed in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, through blood, sweat and tears. And this is not just a rhetorical expression.

In Guatemala, comrades in the struggle have been murdered while they have gone head to head against the treaty approvals. This struggle has allowed us to ensure a coordinating and mobilizing force for the greatest unity of the people’s movement in the region.

In the case of the Honduran Parliament, the deputies walked out, breaking the minimum framework of institutional legality.

We have stated that, within the heart of the people’s movement, this has not signified defeat. We have lost a battle, but it has allowed us to take a qualitative leap forward in terms of organization, unity and experience in the struggle against free trade.

The Popular Social Movement and the people of Costa Rica, which have prevented Costa Rica’s approval of the FTA up until the present, forging unity with various academic, political and even business sectors to create a great national front of diverse and heterogeneous struggle, till now have succeeded in stopping the Costa Rican government, the right-wing neoliberals, and so they have not been able to approve the FTA. Today the possibility of a referendum in Costa Rica to decide the fate of the FTA is being proposed.

We are on the threshold of a fundamental stage in Costa Rica in terms of being able to prevent the advance of the neoliberal agenda; a defeat of this treaty would symbolically mean that we keep on adding up victories, like detaining and bringing FTA to a standstill.

Today we need solidarity in the popular movement, and we request it of the social and popular organizations which come to Costa Rica as international observers. The right-wing is preparing to encourage, if possible, a fraud that will guarantee it a win in the fight that is already lost, and having international observers from the popular movement will be an important contribution to active militant solidarity with our struggle.

Today, after a year, the FTA has not brought any more jobs, any more investments, or better conditions for the trade balance to any country in Central America. Today, in the entire region, we proclaim the slogan of agrarian reform, sovereignty and food security, as a central focus for our eminently agricultural nations.

Today, not just the United States but also Europe would like to appropriate one of the richest areas in biodiversity and natural resources. Today, more than ever, the coordinating focus of our different movements in the Central American region is to confront free trade in its multiple manifestations; hopefully this meeting will help give us coordinating elements, focuses for struggle and joint action that will allow us in this entire hemisphere to advance as one popular force.

We shall not rest in our efforts of organization and struggle until we reach the goal of a new world.



JAIME ESTAY (Chile, coordinator of REDEM - network of world economy studies - and, now professor at the University of Puebla in Mexico.

This crisis, in short, has to do with a manifest non-compliance with the promises that accompanied a group of reforms that began to be applied in Latin America in the 1980's.

Under the banner of free trade, we were told that we were going to achieve growth of our economies, that we were going to achieve diminished levels of inequality in our countries, along with diminished distances between our countries and the advanced world and, in brief, that we were going to achieve a move towards development in leaps and bounds. In some countries there was even talk about making those leaps and bounds into the First World.

In the matter of new integration or this open regionalism which took off more than 15 years ago, what was proposed was Latin American integration, or what we call Integration of Latin America, at the service of an opening-up process. A whole debate was set up about how we had to integrate in order to open up, an integration that would not be the old-style protectionist integration, but an integration that would bring us better conditions to include ourselves in this global economy, in these markets which, supposedly, since they operated in a free manner, would produce the best possible results for our countries.

This relationship between integration and opening-up, that idea whose supreme objective of integration had to be the opening up of our countries, took place in effect; our countries effectively opened up and effectively and unfortunately the central theme of Latin American integration consisted in putting it at the service of this opening up.

Some officials were talking about what was called “the pragmatic phase of integration”. We move forward as we are able; that more or less became the slogan. If what we need is to trade more, let us concentrate on trading more; if what we want is to sign a bunch of little agreements among countries, bilateral agreements or agreements between three or four countries, let us go in that direction, and at some point we shall be able to call this Latin American Integration.

The balance is clearly negative. I think that there is recognition, greater on various levels now, that what we have been calling the Integration of Latin America is not integration, it is trade; and it is not Latin American but a tangle of signed agreements between different countries of the region, none of which has lead to a process possessing an effectively Latin American character. The opening-up, at whose service it is supposed that integration must be placed, has not produced any of the results that were announced in terms of economic growth, lessening of inequalities and achieving the sorely desired development that they said was supposed to be coming to us.

What we should point out is that we are witnessing an extreme deterioration of a style of integration that very clearly knew why, how and for whom integration was taking place.

In short, what I am talking about is an integration which was conceived on the foundations of neoliberalism, which has failed, both in terms of its own objectives and in terms of the objectives that we all have a right to demand and to expect in a genuine integration process.

The new Latin American integration was firmly supported by the policies and proposals coming from Washington. To a great extent, those American proposals have become something that will end up devouring its own offspring. Just the act of signing Free Trade Agreements has brought both the Andean community and the Central American Common Market to a crisis point.

An important part of the current crisis in Latin American integration has to do with the advance of the United States hemispheric project, not via the FTAA which managed to be stopped, but via the signing of different free trade treaties.

We can see the appearance of alternatives more clearly in the current panorama of integration. In many ways, ALBA (the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) is based on principles that are radically different from those belonging to that integration process which is in crisis.

There are many functions left to define and many boundaries to be traced: the meaning of such concepts as “free trade”, “national development”, “market freedom”, “food security and sovereignty”, etc. What we are able to state is that we are witnessing, on the hemispheric and Latin American scene, a growing insurgency regarding the predominance of neoliberalism.

This is where the opinions expressed by these three personalities end, summing up the opinions of many of the participants in the debate about Free Trade Treaties. These are very solid points of view derived from a bitter reality and they have enriched my ideas.

I recommend my readers to pay attention to the complexities of human activity. It’s the only way to see much further.

Space has run out. Today I should not add one more single word.

Fidel Castro Ruz
May 16, 2007.(6:12 p.m.)

Video: A Mexican attends an Anti-Immigration Rally

I found this video online, I don't know how many out there may have seen it but it is very interesting how people react to his presence. Also notice that there is a woman in the rally who may be Mexican, whom he calls a 'coconut', I take that to mean "brown on the outside, white on the inside". I don't know who he was, but I give him props for the courage to walk into a situation that guaranteed some physical danger.



[Update: I originally posted the file from Break.com, it loaded too slow so I've changed it to the Youtube video instead... Seems to work better]

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Oaxaca Revolution Continues, Todos somos Oaxaca

COHA: Chavez needs "effective coherence, fixity of purpose"

CIA funded paramilitaries in Guatemala 1954


Think Guatemala 1954, When Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela Springs To Mind
This analysis was prepared by COHA Staff
May 14th, 2007

In 1954, United Fruit, in concert with the CIA, successfully orchestrated the overthrow of Guatemala’s democratically-elected government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, charging that the Central American nation had fallen under communist influence. The demise of Arbenz took time to accomplish, with the fatal draught being a casual concoction of miscommunication, corporate arrogance, misinformation, outright deception, a naïve reform-minded government and arrogance on the part of the Eisenhower administration. Arbenz was neither a communist, nor was his government profoundly sympathetic to extreme leftist ideas as charged at the time by U.S. government officials and media outlets. Upon his election in 1951, Arbenz took office in a country in which 70% of the arable land was controlled by 2.2% of the population – only 12% of which was being cultivated at the time of his overthrow in 1954. Like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, he wanted to reform what was palpably neither a good nor just society.

Case Studies of Guatemala and Venezuela

The parallels between Guatemala in 1954 and present day Venezuela are uncomfortably close, which is cause enough for concern that the U.S. government and its compliant media have predictably taken sides. It was of little surprise therefore that land reform was one of the priorities chosen by the democratically-elected Arbenz just as it has become for President Chavez. Soon after taking office, both reformers similarly instituted wide ranging agricultural reform policies that sought to distribute uncultivated land to thousands of poor, landless peasants. Arbenz’s plan, however modest it initially was in scope, struck a raw nerve with the largest landowning enterprise in Guatemala, the United Fruit Company. The holdings of this agro-industrial giant in the country were 85% uncultivated, therefore facing heavy taxes under extant law. A similar shock faced Venezuelan land holders when their fallow and speculative land parcels were scheduled to be seized by the government, to be redistributed to landless campesinos.

Bananas or Oil, the Process is the Same

Back in the early 1950’s, United Fruit, a major hemispheric banana company with extensive ties to U.S. power brokers both within and outside the government, had consistently undervalued the worth of its land reserves for the purposes of evading heavy property tax obligations. Yet, when Arbenz approached United Fruit with a compensation plan for their land scheduled for expropriation, the company balked at the $3 per acre validation price. In fact, this was the artificially low figure which had been previously designated by the company itself for tax purposes. The Guatemalan government, for its part, claimed that in fact the true assessed value of the land should have been pegged at $75 per acre. The details of this squabble mattered little, because ultimately ‘might made right’, a parable regarding the articulation of U.S. hemispheric policy that Hugo Chavez would be well advised to have on his mind without interruption.

Read full report at Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Ecuador's Correa: Government to investigate crimes against humanity of 1980s & 1990s




Ecuador has set up a truth commission to investigate human rights abuses committed over the last 27 years, particularly during the right-wing rule of Leon Febres Cordero, who was president during the 1980s.

The role of the four-member commission is intended to "halt impunity", Rafael Correa, Ecuador's president, said on Friday.

The commission is composed of a lawyer, two human rights activists and Pedro Restrepo, whose two sons disappeared in January 1988 at the end of Febres Cordero's 1984-1988 government.

Restrepo's sons are believed to have been killed by police, who mistook them for Colombian guerrillas. Their bodies were never found.

Human rights

Gustavo Larrea, Ecuador's interior minister, said the human rights of "hundreds of citizens were systematically violated" during parts of the 1980s and 1990s when the government fought to put down a series of relatively minor leftist uprisings.

He said there have been 327 cases of political assassinations, torture and disappearances that have gone unpunished during the period.

"Impunity has made society, the state, close their eyes to the events that occurred in the country in a planned and systematic manner," he said.

Members of the victims' families and human rights groups accuse the 76-year-old Febres Cordero, for decades a dominant figure in Ecuadorean politics, of ordering political killings during his government. He has strongly denied the accusations.

Ex-president hits back

Febres Cordero, speaking at a press conference in his native port city of Guayaquil, accused Correa on Friday of forming "a tribunal of the Inquisition" and said his political enemies want to try him "for having fought terrorism".

He also called Correa "a totalitarian" and said that if the government sought to proscute him, he would not flee.

"I've never run, nor will I run," he said. "If they want to look for me, they know where to find me."

The commission will have nine months to present a report, with a possible extension of three months.

Source: Al Jazeera

Latino orgs send letter to Bush: "to express our outrage"



Dear Mr. President:

We, the undersigned Latino organizations, write to express our outrage and deep concern over the manner in which workplace raids have been conducted all across the United States in the past few months. As organizations that work closely with the communities that are directly impacted by these raids, we are often the first to respond to the immediate humanitarian crisis that occurs when a raid is conducted. Particularly, we are concerned about the raids’ short- and long-term impact on children. There are approximately 3.1 million U.S. citizen children who have at least one undocumented parent, and there are 1.8 million undocumented children in the U.S. We believe that the U.S. must take the needs of these children into account and fix the broken immigration system that separates them from their parents.

Workplace raids leave a long-lasting impact, not only on the local economy, but on the children who are separated from their parents as a result of a raid. Recently, thousands of immigrant workers have been detained as the result of raids. Many of these workers are parents of young children, many of whom are U.S. citizens. While it is our understanding that single parents are occasionally released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody to care for their children, there are many parents who are transported to ICE detention facilities far from their homes, and their family members have no ability to communicate with them.

In the aftermath of the raids, churches, schools, and social service agencies have scrambled to determine which workers have children, assess which children must be picked up from day care and school, find caregivers for the children, and provide basic health and nutrition services. In addition to providing basic necessities, advocates have encountered other problems trying to care for the children of detained parents. For example, after the Swift and Co. raids in December 2006, advocates highlighted cases in which they were not able to interview parents to determine any special needs their children may have. It has also been difficult, if not impossible, for advocates to gather information about sick children who needed medication. Following the recent raid in New Bedford, Massachusetts, a dehydrated infant was hospitalized because her mother had not been able to breastfeed her. Family members or friends have been put in the difficult position of having to care for the children of detained parents, and teenage children have been placed in the unfortunate and unfair position of having to care for younger siblings on their own.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick correctly characterized the recent raids as a “humanitarian crisis.” Our children deserve better, and it is up to the Administration and Congress to deliver to them a sound immigration policy that does not result in parents being separated from their children. The time is long overdue for our nation to stop tearing apart these hardworking families and bring about real, comprehensive solutions to our immigration problems. We strongly urge you to work with Congress to bring about an immigration reform that will allow immigrant workers to work legally, American communities to prosper, and children to thrive.

cc: Michael Chertoff
Julie Myers

Sincerely,

Academia Cesar Chavez – Saint Paul, MN
Acercamiento Hispano de Carolina del Sur – Columbia, SC
AltaMed Health Services Corporation – Los Angeles, CA
Bridge Academy Charter School – Bridgeport, CT
Calexico Community Action Council – Calexico, CA
CARECEN – Washington, DC
Carlos Rosario School – Washington, DC
CASA of Maryland – Silver Spring, MD
CASA of Oregon – Newberg, OR
Center for Hispanic Policy & Advocacy – Providence, RI
Center for Training & Careers/WorkNET – San Jose, CA
Centro Campesino Farmworker Center, Inc. – Florida City, FL
Centro de Amistad – Guadalupe, AZ
Centro de la Comunidad – Baltimore, MD
Centro de Residentes Bolivianos – Madison, WI
Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe – El Paso, TX
Centro Hispano of Dane County – Cambridge, MA
CentroNía – Washington, DC
Centro Presente, Inc. – Cambridge, MA
Cesar Chavez Academy – Pueblo, CO
Cesar Chavez Dual Language Immersion Charter School – Santa Barbara, CA
Chicano Awareness Center – Omaha, NE
Chicano Federation of San Diego County – San Diego, CA
Coalition for New South Carolinians – Columbia, SC
Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition – Denver, CO
Colorado Rural Housing – Westminster, CO
Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. – New York, NY
Community Child Care Center of Santa Clara County – San Jose, CA
Conexión Américas – Nashville, TN
Congreso de Latinos Unidos – Philadelphia, PA
Council for the Spanish Speaking – Milwaukee, WI
Del Norte Neighborhood Development Corp. – Denver, CO
Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation – Detroit, MI
Dolores Huerta Preparatory High School – Pueblo, CO
DRAW Academy – Houston, TX
East Las Vegas Community Development Corporation (ELVCDC) – Las Vegas, NV
El Centro de la Raza – Seattle, WA
El Centro de las Americas – Lincoln, NE
El Pueblo, Inc. – Raleigh, NC
Emigrantes Sin Fronteras – Phoenix, AZ
Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center – Miami, FL
Florida Immigrant Coalition – Tallahassee, FL
Gads Hill Center – Chicago, IL
Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) – Atlanta, GA
Hands Across Cultures – Española, NM
HELP – New Mexico, Inc. – Albuquerque, NM
Hispanic American Student Association (HASA), University of Central Oklahoma – Edmond, OK
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Minnesota – Minneapolis, MN
Hispanic Coalition of Florida – Miami, FL
Hispanic Committee of Virginia – Falls Church, VA
Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama – Birmingham, AL
Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas – Springdale, AR
HOLA – Hispanas Organizadas de Lake y Ashtabula (OH) – Painesville, OH
Hyde Square Task Force – Jamaica Plain, MA
Idaho Community Action Network – Boise, ID
Kentucky Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights – Lexington, KY
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights – Chicago, IL
Information Referral Resource Assistance Inc. – Edinburg, TX
Instituto del Progreso Latino – Chicago, IL
La Casa de Esperanza – Waukesha, WI
La Casa Health Network, Inc. – Little Rock, AR
Latin American Coalition – Charlotte, NC
Latin American Community Center, Inc. – Wilmington, DE
Latin American Research and Service Agency – Denver, CO
Latin American Youth Center – Washington, DC
Latino Community Development Agency – Oklahoma City, OK
Latino Economic Development Corporation – Washington, DC
Latino Family Services – Detroit, MI
Latino Leadership – Orlando, FL
Latino Memphis, Inc. – Memphis, TN
Latinos for Education and Justice Organization – Calhoun, GA
Latinos United for Change and Advancement – Madison, WI
Law Offices of Navarro & Associates – Santa Ana, CA
Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care – Washington, DC
Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA) – Jackson & Biloxi, MS
Montebello Housing Development Corporation – Montebello, CA
Mujeres Latinas en Acción – Chicago, IL
NAF Multicultural Human Development Corporation – North Platte, NE
National Association of Latino Independent Producers – New York, NY
Near Northside Partners Council, Inc. – Fort Worth, TX
New Jersey Immigration Policy Network – Newark, NJ
NEWSED CDC – Denver, CO
Parent Institute for Quality Education – San Diego, CA
Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund – New York, NY
Repertorio Español – New York, NY
Rural Opportunities, Inc. – Rochester, NY
Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality – Salem, OR
San Diego County SER/Jobs for Progress, Inc. – Oceanside, CA
SEA MAR Community Health Centers – Seattle, WA
Servicios de La Raza, Inc. – Denver, CO
Siete del Norte CDC – Embudo, NM
Southern Poverty Law Center – Montgomery, AL
Southwest Key Program, Inc. – Austin, TX
Spanish Speaking Citizens’ Foundation – Oakland, CA
St. Matthew Immigration/Detention Committee – Baltimore, MD
Tejano Center for Community Concerns – Houston, TX
Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) – Nashville, TN
United Dubuque Immigrant Alliance (UN DIA) – Dubuque, IA
United Hispanic Americans, Inc. – Fort Wayne, IN
University of Wisconsin Latina/o Law Student Association – Madison, WI
Vecinos Unidos – Dallas, TX
Washington State Migrant Council – Sunnyside, WA
Watts/Century Latino Organization – Los Angeles, CA
Western Colorado Justice for Immigrants Committee – Grand Junction, CO

Liberation Theology Under Papal Scrutiny



Source: Brazzil Magazine
The Real Reason Behind Pope's Visit to Brazil: to Squash Liberation Theology
Written by Marcelo Netto Rodrigues
Thursday, 10 May 2007

Ask any ordinary Brazilian Catholic why the pope is visiting Brazil, and the corny old tune will be the same: "Benedict XVI is coming to canonize friar Galvão, the first genuinely Brazilian saint". Try to ask a layman, and his answer will add an enigmatic acronym to those who do not follow the Church's history: "He is coming for the opening of the 5th CELAM's Conference".

Ask now any Liberation Theology representative, and Ratzinger's jovial visit turns into a clear message in which friar Galvão is a mere popular supporting actor in a plan to contain the Catholic exodus; and the bishops conference becomes the main stage to attack those who live under the prism of "preferential option for the poor" - an option by the way germinated in Medellin (Colombia), in 1968, during the encounter's 2nd edition and irrigated in the following meeting in Puebla (Mexico), in 1979.

Benedict XVI did not choose Brazil by chance for his first trip as a pope to the American continent. His stay, although short, can define the Church's course in Latin America for the next ten years. This because traditionally the inaugural talk of the General Conference of the Latin-American and Caribbean Episcopate (CELAM), which will be delivered by Ratzinger the same day he leaves the country, May 13, serves to delimit the discussions ground, which this time will be conducted by 280 bishops who will remain gathered in the city of Aparecida do Norte up to May 31.

And it's precisely here that Ratzinger's concerns play a role. He will be treading Brazilian territory for the third time. The first one was in 1985, soon after the proceedings against Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff and the second, in 1990, to teach a course to Brazilian bishops in Rio de Janeiro.

Almost half of the planet's Catholics live in Latin America. They are 480 million faithfuls who little by little are abandoning the Catholic Church. Ratzinger is hopeful that his talk has direct influence on the lines of pastoral action adopted by the bishops at the end of the meeting.

As a curiosity in this battle between the Catholic Church and the neopentecostal churches we need only say that the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, belonging to bishop Edir Macedo, has just announced that his pastors will be handing out condoms to all their faithfuls, as a follow-up to what they are already doing in South Africa.

Appetizer

This line of reasoning supports in part the opinion of Father João Pedro Baresi, a Combonian priest aligned to the Liberation Theology. Says he, "Ratzinger's visit is part of a plan in which the biggest concern is the exodus of the Catholic believers." Not only that.

For Baresi, the pope is also going to use the trip to try "to put a brake on Liberation Theology," since Ratzinger blames the Liberation Theology for the increasing loss of believers since its affirmation as theology in the decade of 1960.

"What the just-installed São Paulo archbishop, Odilo Scherer, said a few days ago, that the time of that theology has passed may just be an appetizer of things to come." That's what Baresi believes.

And in this context, the inaugural talk of the CELAM Conference is extremely important for the pope to convey his message. "Friar Galvão's canonization complements the plan: it is the Catholic popular religiosity being used to try to hold the people in exodus."

Still commenting on bishop Odilo, Baresi adds:"He should substantiate his statement. And another thing, what matters is not the Liberation Theology, but the liberation itself, as Gustavo Gutierrez always says. If anyone has something better that contributes to the commitment of liberation in the light of faith, he should propose it".

But Scherer's statement is not the only clue left by the current pope on his way to Latin America. The Vatican's recent warning to the Jesuit aligned to the Liberation Theology, Jon Sobrino, who lives in El Salvador, sounds like a new condemnation by Ratzinger of this Gospel's interpretation key.

Liberation Theology Lives

Brazilian Benedictine monk Marcelo Barros subscribes to the idea that Liberation Theology would only be obsolete if the conditions and motives that originated it didn't exist any longer. "Now, we all know that on the contrary, unjust poverty and social inequality increased a lot, as well as it can be said that the resurgence of indigenous and peasant popular movements is more organized. All over the planet the number of those who are getting organized in order to make a different world possible is also increasing.

"As many of these people are protestants, Christian or from other religions, not only the Liberation Theology remains valid, but it also stopped being just a Latin-American phenomenon to become global."

Barros, who belongs to the Theological Commission of the Ecumenical Association of the Third World Theologians, says that he has seen a bridge-building movement between Liberation Theology and the Cultural and Religious Pluralism Theology.

"That means that there is today an inter-religious Liberation Theology, which is not only Christian. With a wide literature that didn't exist before and that includes Black Theology, Indigenous Theology, Feminist Theology, Eco-Theology, which have become new branches of Liberation Theology."

The Dominican Friar Betto was also contacted for this story. His adviser told us, however, that he was in Cuba and that he wouldn't be able to answer since he has a hard time using the Internet because of the United States blockade of the island.

This article appeared originally in the magazine Brasil de Fato - www.brasildefato.com.br.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Puerto Rican Citizenship Returns to the People



In 1917 the United States Congress unilaterally passed the Jones Act imposing American citizenship to the people of Puerto Rico, just in time to draft many into American uniforms to fight in World War I. During the intervening years the idea of Puerto Rican citizenship, separate from American citizenship, has been debated almost exclusively among the intellectual circles of the island and rendering the issue dead among the masses. Now after many years Puerto Ricans will once again be able to claim their rightful citizenship once again.

In 1995, Puerto Rican activist Juan Mari Bras flew to Venezuela and denounced his American citizenship in protest of the against the colonial rule of the United States. Juan Mari bras then returned to the island as a Puerto Rican citizen, but no longer an American citizen. Among the arguments that ensued over his action was whether he would now be able to vote in elections in Puerto Rico, since it was only American citizenship that had been recognize since 1917. However the issue came to a resolution in 1997 when the Puerto Rican Supreme Court declared that not only did Mari Bras have official Puerto Rican citizenship, but that all Puerto Ricans had such citizenship as well.

Now in 2007, 90 years after the Jones Act and 10 years after the declaration of the Puerto Rican Supreme Court, the State Department of Puerto Rico will begin issuing once again citizenship papers certifying Puerto Rican citizenship. All Puerto Ricans, either born in the island, born of Puerto Rican parents, or American citizens who have lived in the island for at least a year are eligible for certification. Puerto Ricans residing outside the island may also get their citizenship.

There is a question still whether citizenship will be automatic for anyone else born in the island from this point forward, though it seems doubtful since the island government will charge $30 for the certification of citizenship. But that just means we'll need another court case to make that right, and the hard part is over now. Thank you Juan Mari Bras

Puerto Rican Activist Arrested in Palestine


From The International Solidarity Movement (ISM)April 20, 2007

Alberto De Jesus, a Puerto Rican activist know as Tito Kayak, is under house arrest until 8:30 pm tonight, finishing the 96 hour period that was imposed on him by a military judge in Ofer Military Base, last Sunday night. Tito has been in the home of friends and cannot leave to the police station to get his passport until after the sentence is finished.

Tito was arrested Friday, April 20th, after unfurling a Palestinian flag on top of an Israeli surveillance tower of the Apartheid wall, next to the village of Bil’in , Palestine . His non-violent action took place simultaneously with a press conference at the weekly non-violent demonstration of the Apartheid wall. Bil’in has become the symbol of the non-violent struggle of the people of Palestine and Tito came in solidarity to stand with them in their non-violent resistance as he had done for the people of Vieques, Puerto Rico. The Viequenses struggled non-violently for 60 years to remove the US navy and stop them from using their island as a bombing practice zone. They were successful by May, 2003. Tito expressed that the Palestinians will succeed as well through their non-violent struggle and through more support from the international community.

After he was detained by police, Tito Kayak was held under military code in a prison in Beth El Settlement, near the city of Ramallah until Sunday night. The 96 hours imposed on Tito is what is routinely meted out to Palestinians under this code. His lawyers, Gaby Lasky and Lymor Goldstein are negotiating for his early release so that he can return to the US with his delegation from Puerto Rico on his scheduled flight tonight at midnight. We heard from Mr. Goldstein that Tito sends his greetings to the people of Bil’in and all Palestinians from prison.

[Read the Full Report]

Friday, May 04, 2007

Latino Insurgent Speaks



Will have video of the speech soon.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Full Coverage: MayDay Rally at MacArthur Park, Los Angeles, CA


The May 1st pro-immigrant protest of 2006 was the largest protest by immigrants in United States history. In contrast to those peaceful protests of 2006, the protest of 2007 will forever be marked by the heavy handed behavior of the Los Angeles Police Department. There are conflicting reports as to how it all began, but everyone from the LA Chief of Police to the cities Mayor have now come forward to say that the police was wrong and a full investigation will now take place (we'll see) to find out exactly what happened. (Picture by Robert Gauthier / LATimes)

This post was put together after compiling video sources from amateur to professional sources that I could find online.

From gamejew.com


From LA Fox News Channel 11


More from LA Fox News Channel 11


From Telemundo


From la.indymedia.org


From Anarco


More from Anarco


From ElDaviosol


From CNN


One thing that is made perfectly clear in all these video is the utter disregard for the safety of the assembled peoples at MacArthur Park. Even with media cameras rolling and reporters of all mediums represented the LAPD acted as the enemy of the people. "To Protect & Serve" who are you kidding, this was an act of persecution & intimidation directed against law abiding members of the City of LA. The Los Angeles Police Department conducted itself criminally and must be held to account for its actions and the respective government agencies should be warned that there is no trust left.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Recovering from May 1st Rallies

Hey,

After a full day of marching and chanting, and after taking way too much of the Florida sun... I need little me time to recover. I'm working on a may first redux post with video and pics of the whole movement just need a day to get it together. check back soon.

Latino Insurgent

P.S. here's some funny white people to keep you entertained...