Wednesday, October 31, 2007

War against Iran is complete certainty

A new Zogby Poll confirms that despite all, Americans believe the US should bomb Iran. Here is an Excerpt of Zogby's Report:

A majority of likely voters – 52% – would support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, and 53% believe it is likely that the U.S. will be involved in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election, a new Zogby America telephone poll shows.

The survey results come at a time of increasing U.S. scrutiny of Iran. According to reports from the Associated Press, earlier this month Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran of "lying" about the aim of its nuclear program and Vice President Dick Cheney has raised the prospect of "serious consequences" if the U.S. were to discover Iran was attempting to devolop a nuclear weapon. Last week, the Bush administration also announced new sanctions against Iran.

Democrats (63%) are most likely to believe a U.S. military strike against Iran could take place in the relatively near future, but independents (51%) and Republicans (44%) are less likely to agree. Republicans, however, are much more likely to be supportive of a strike (71%), than Democrats (41%) or independents (44%). Younger likely voters are more likely than those who are older to say a strike is likely to happen before the election and women (58%) are more likely than men (48%) to say the same – but there is little difference in support for a U.S. strike against Iran among these groups.

Well I guess there really are no lessons that are not worth learning again. After the invasion of Iraq, I would have expected a higher level of skepticism from the American public, but I was wrong.

The consequences of war against Iran are dire, but a poll such as this during a presidential campaign year will only lead to increase warmongering as each candidate now will attempt to out-war the other. Leading the charge will no doubt be the Republicans, but the Democrats know how to bend with the wind when its convenient, and there is nothing that would be more convenient than winning the 2008 election.

We discussed the possible consequences of war against Iran in a previous post and we stick by that analysis. Unfortunately, reason does not get you votes in American politics.

Click here for the full report from Zogby International

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

184 Countries call for end of Cuban Embargo

For 15 years, every year, the United Nations General Assembly has voted on the issue of the Cuban Embargo imposed unilaterally by the United States. This year's vote was no different with 184 countries calling the embargo an illegal act that must come to an end.

Voting for the measure has become a tradition at the United Nations where Cuban and American dignitaries trade barbs like in a game of ping pong. This year was no different with the US calling for democracy in Cuba and Cuba calling out the hypocrisy of American policies around the world. The vote carried only one abstention and four votes against. Micronesia abstained, while the United States, Palau, the Marshall Islands, and Israel voted against lifting the embargo.

The vote also reminds us of the innate inequalities present in the United nations as a democratic body. When 184 countries, which include Russia, China, and EU members, are unable change such an obvious act of imperialism as is the embargo, there is no more proof needed to say that the United nations must be changed. However that change must come from the bottom not from the top.

Calls for reform are now being fielded by the Secretary General, but only that one proposed by the United States is being given any attention or hopes for ratification.

The Non-Aligned Movement must step forward and reclaim its sovereignty, by first withdrawing from the UN as a form of protest until the General Assembly is given the right to veto the Security Council, as any congress or parliament gets to veto its executive. Only then will a palpable change come to the affairs of the world. And if the United States is truly interested in democracy it must allow this change to occur.

Appeasing America

Appeasement is one of those dirty words we learned from World War II history. Often it is used to denote cowardice, as in the cowardice of 1930's Europe in refusing to confront the expansionist campaign of Hitler and his Nazi Party as they began swallowing up countries left and right. The appeasement of Nazi Germany came to an end when the government of Great Britain decided to draw a line in the proverbial sand by announcing that they would fight to defend Poland. The rest is, well, history.

Today a similar obligation now falls upon the world as the United States pushes forward to attack, possibly invade, the country of Iran. And while folks like Dick Cheney and Norman Podhoretz confuse the issue talking of Iran's President as a Middle Eastern Hitler, it falls upon the international community to ask whether it is time to stop appeasing the United States?

Martin Luther King once described the United States as "a society gone mad with war". Today that seems prophetic under the leadership of the current American Administration. Since 2001, the United States has invaded two countries and deposed their governments, and it has engineered two coup d'etats, one against the elected government of Venezuela and another against Haiti. All the while the world governments have stood aside and allowed these actions and their accompanying crimes against humanity, to happen with little opposition.

There should be no question that if the United States is allowed to attack Iran, there will be others who will be attacked subsequently. Syria and Cuba immediate spring to mind. At some point someone must draw a new line in the sand and proclaim these actions to be criminal. Self-determination and human freedom cannot be allowed to be dictated by Washington, D.C., for their interests are not those of a peace loving nature. The Bush Administration is a leviathan that seeks to impose itself as the sole absolute sovereign over the earth, and is quickly moving to that end.

Despite the rhetoric from the Administration, there is no evidence of Iranian wrongdoing, there is no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in development, there is only the willful and continuous deception of the American people; who for all their strengths easily fall frail under fear. Fear as a manipulation, fear as a tool of government, fear as a resource of war. The people of America are stuck in this muck without any respite thanks to a press and media which refuses to discuss and denounce these actions by the government and have instead become mouthpieces for official policy.

The question then lies with the international community; who will draw the line in the sand and be the first to stop the appeasement of America's belligerent policies? Make no mistake about it, history will judge this generation on this question just as harshly as it has judged Europe in the years prior to World War II.

MLKjr: There comes a time when silence is betrayal

This Martin Luther King Jr. Speech about the Vietnam War is a sober, measured, and determined call for action against war. The words seem as timely today as they were in 1967 when he delivered this speech. Listen closely.

Monday, October 29, 2007

US Eyes African Riches

Latino Insurgent Analysis by Michael A. Deliz

While the world's attention is focused on the Middle East/Central Asia Region. The battle for Africa's oil, between the US and China, has been raging mostly unnoticed by almost everyone. This has not exactly been hidden from the public as much as it has simply been ignored by it, and by the mainstream media's unbelievable inability to piece together what Africa means to the future of the United States' global strategy.

October 1, 2007 marked the first day of active operation for the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM), and it is expected to reach full capability by September of 2008. The establishment of this new unified command of Department of Defense signals an escalation by the United States in its campaign to keep China out of the continent.

"African oil is of national strategic interest to us, and it will increase and become more important as we go forward."-U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Walter Kansteiner III

Theresa Whelan, Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Defense For African Affairs, however stresses AFRICOMs less-imperialistic cover story for being in Africa:

"What we're seeing is more and more drugs being moved through Africa via maritime routes, arms being moved; there's trafficking in persons through maritime routes," she said. "And then of course there's piracy, which is influencing or impacting negatively on international shipping," Whelan added. She also noted the environmental security is "very important for the continent (Africa) economically."

Ok, suddenly the United States, the country which has stonewalled every single international attempt to discuss environmental issues and was just recently found censoring the Climate Change report, suddenly it cares about Africa's environment. And we are supposed to believe that this concern is so great as to need the development of an entirely new branch in the Department of Defense.

Here's an alternative interpretation: The United States is acting upon the 2002 recommendations of the African Oil Policy Initiative Group, AOPIG, here is their full report (in pdf): African Oil Policy

And here is an excerpt:
As a consequence of the impending interplay of U.S. energy security interests and African economic developmental goals, the United States is on the verge of an historic, strategic alignment with West Africa. With projections of over 2.5 million barrels a day in African oil to the American market by 2015, the ambitious goals of the Bush administration’s national energy policy for major diversification of oil supply are within reach. The shift in global energy patterns characterized by massive new production levels in Russia, the Caspian Basin, South America, and West Africa, is contributing to America’s reevaluation of its global alliance system. Within this context, AOPIG believes that West Africa is being projected onto center stage in global affairs.

The implications are simple, where there is a US Regional Command, there will be conflict, and that command is usually never the solution.

Castro: We reply to the false Mambí

Bush, Mambi?
by Fidel Castro Ruz

Viva Cuba libre! (Long live free Cuba!). That was the war cry throughout the plains and the mountains, forests and sugarcane fields, identifying those who began Cuba’s first war of independence on October 10, 1868.

I never imagined that I would hear those words coming from the mouth of a president of the United States 139 years later. It is as if a king of that time, or his regent, were proclaiming: Viva Cuba Libre!

On the contrary, a Spanish warship drew near the coast and with its guns destroyed the small sugar mill, just a few kilometers from the sea, where Carlos Manuel de Céspedes declared the independence of Cuba and freed the slaves that he had inherited.

Lincoln, the son of a poor woodcutter, fought all his life against slavery, which was still legal in his country almost a hundred years after its Declaration of Independence. Adhering to the just idea that all citizens are born free and equal, making use of his legal and constitutional powers, he declared the abolition of slavery. Countless combatants gave their lives to defend this idea against the rebel slave states in the country’s south.

Lincoln is said to have stated: “You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all of the time.”

He died by an assassin’s bullet while, invincible at the polls, he was running for a second presidential mandate.

I am not forgetting that tomorrow, Sunday, marks 48 years since Camilo Cienfuegos' disappearance at sea on October 28, 1959, as he was returning to Havana in a light aircraft from Camagüey province, where days earlier his sole presence disarmed a garrison of simple Rebel Army soldiers whose superiors, of a bourgeois ideology, were attempting to do what Bush is now demanding almost half a century later: rise up in arms against the Revolution.

Che, in a wonderful introduction to his book Guerrilla Warfare, states: “Camilo was the comrade of 100 battles…the selfless combatant who always made sacrifice an instrument for tempering his character and forging that of the troops... he gave the written framework presented here the essential vitality of his personality, his intelligence and his audacity, which are achieved in such exact proportions in just a few figures in history.”

“Who killed him?

“We might better wonder: who eliminated his physical being? Because men like him live on in the people...The enemy killed him; they killed him because they wanted him dead; they killed him because there are no safe planes, because pilots cannot have all the experience they need, because, overburdened with work, he wanted to reach Havana in a few short hours…in his mentality as a guerrilla fighter, not one cloud could hold back or distort a line which had been charted…Camilo and the other Camilos (those who didn’t make it and those yet to come) are the indicators of the people’s strength; they are the highest expression of what a nation may give when on a war footing to defend its purest ideals and with its faith set on securing its noblest goals.”

Because of what their names symbolize, we reply to the false Mambí:

Long live Lincoln!

Long live Che!

Long live Camilo!

by Fidel Castro Ruz
October 27, 2007
7:36 p.m.
Spanish version

U.S. Virgin Islands set to begin 5th Constitutional Convention: Puerto Rico should pay attention

[Latino Insurgent Analysis by Michael A. Deliz]
Today, Monday, October 29, 2007 at 10am the elected delegates to the US Virgin Islands Constitutional convention will begin meetings to draft the territory's constitution. The convention now in its fifth incarnation is required to conclude a completed draft by October 2008, which ultimately leads to a popular plebiscite to be approved by the people of the Virgin Islands. But first it must pass through the imperial filters.

The Constitutional Process

Once the delegates, which have already been selected by popular vote, draft a constitution the document is sent to the territory's governor. The governor then has ten days to deliver it to President Bush. The President will then add his own comments and suggestions (because we all know he is an expert on the needs of the people of the Virgin Islands), and then he forwards it to the US Congress (another bunch of experts!). Once Congress receives it, they have 60 days to review, modify, and approve the constitution which will then be sent back to the Virgin Islands for the constitutional plebiscite.

Essentially the people of the Virgin Islands are going to vote on whether or not to adopt the constitution the US Congress feels is best for them. This is what passes for Democracy in the colonized Caribbean.

Impact on Puerto Rico
For Puerto Rico, this is a process that should be carefully watched as the newly redrafted HR900, or "Proyecto 900" as it is known in the island, begins its process in the halls of Congress. Unlike previous status bills, this one calls for a similar process requiring a Constitutional Assembly to chart the island's future, or possibly find itself decades later still trying to come up with a constitution that pleases both the people and the US Congress like it has happened in the Virgin Islands since the 1960s.

Back in the 1980s, the last time the Virgin Islands went through this process, when the constitution came up for a vote, many voted it down due to differences in opinion regarding what a Virgin Islander is and is not as defined by the document, many simply boycotted the process and failed to vote altogether.

The "Proyecto 900" is different as it begins with a plebiscite to first decide whether the people want a change in status or not. The immediate consequence of that will be the sidelining of the island's Partido Popular Democratico which has traditionally called to maintain the status quo. The PPD, however as of late has been pushing for greater sovereignty as an Associated States, the same basic status as the Northern Mariana Islands. If the PPD sticks to this then that first plebiscite will result in the affirmative to change the island's status.

After that no one really knows what may happen. The statehood party is confident that under those circumstances the people will elect delegates that will opt for statehood. But the Partido Nuevo Progresista, seems to have forgotten one minor detail in their run for power. No one has asked the United States if they want Puerto Rico as the 51st state of the union.

That seemingly preliminary step is one the PNP hopes to deal with once they get a consensus, by whatever means, that Puerto Rico wants to be a state. The plan seems to be that if the people of Puerto Rico choose statehood they can then turn the issue into a Civil Rights fight against disenfranchisement of a minority group. Under those terms it might be easier to appeal to American sensibilities.

In the mean time the United States gets to proclaim that it is doing everything necessary to help the people of Puerto Rico in this process. In truth the US Congress is betting that the Constitutional Assembly will get bogged down into the political quagmire that is Puerto Rico, and leave the island's status as is, while being able to point to the incompetence of the Puerto Rican elite and masses at determining their own future, which is how they see the Virgin Islands.

In other words the Constitutional Assembly prescribed in HR 900 will be nothing more than a black hole of political wrangling. There are really only two alternatives to ending this impasse; either the United States unilaterally declares that it will give Puerto Rico its independence or begin the statehood process, or the island's governor unilaterally declares independence. Anything short of that will only result in a decades long fight that will be relived by every generation to come until either Puerto Rico sinks into the ocean, or the American empire crumbles. If anyone doubts that, go talk to a Virgin Islander.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

National Day of Protest Against War - Oct 27 Full Coverage Part IV - THE PROTESTS

[Update: attendance numbers have been tallied, 10,000 in Boston, 30,000 in San Francisco, 800 Salt Lake City, 45,000 in New York City, 10,000 in Los Angeles, 2,000 in Orlando, 5-7,000 in Chicago, also 23 cities in Canada held protests]
The protest videos are now beginning to be uploaded as they come in we will be posting them here. [Page maybe slow to load, click on the link after the video to see the full list of videos]
From Sammlyon in Boston:

More Videos...Click below...
From VronRN in Los Angeles

From Alapoet in Seattle

Also from VronRN in Los Angeles

From in San Francisco

From CCProgressives in Maryland

From Jlp1750 in Ottawa

From Zebra334 in Portland on their way to Seattle

From Thelondonfog in London

From jogacoeur

From Labunner1 in Los Angeles

From Oldhacks

More videos to come...

National Day of Protest Against War - Oct 27 Full Coverage Part III -News Coverage

These are Mainstream NEWS videos reporting on the October 27 Protests. More will be uploaded as they come in or as we find them on the web.
From NY1

From KRON ch.4

More Videos

More videos coming...

National Day of Protest Against War - Oct 27 Full Coverage Part II

Here are some CALL-TO-ACTION videos for the October 27 protests.


National Day of Protest Against War - Oct 27 Full Coverage Part I

Coverage by reader Woolly Llama at Boston Common 10-27-2007

Wooly Llama reported to us that the crowd was lively and upbeat. Police Presence was light and mostly limited to traffic control around the protest. Click the "Read More" link for all the pictures.

More Pictures

Woolly Llama is the nom de guerre of a person of undisclosed national origin living in Boston, MA.

[From BBC] Biofuels 'crime against humanity'

[Editor's Note: This story is of particular interest to me for two reasons; first, this is exactly what Fidel Castro wrote about a few months ago in Where have the bees gone. Also this is impotant because its a growing trend urged on by the success of Brazil's sugar ethanol fuel production which has made it relatively energy independent. In other words the fact that the UN & the IMF are in agreement with Castro should tell some doubters that we may be facing a problem.]

By: Grant Ferrett at BBCNews
A United Nations expert has condemned the growing use of crops to produce biofuels as a replacement for petrol as a crime against humanity.

The UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, said he feared biofuels would bring more hunger. The growth in the production of biofuels has helped to push the price of some crops to record levels.

Mr Ziegler's remarks, made at the UN headquarters in New York, are clearly designed to grab attention. He complained of an ill-conceived dash to convert foodstuffs such as maize and sugar into fuel, which created a recipe for disaster.

Food price rises

It was, he said, a crime against humanity to divert arable land to the production of crops which are then burned for fuel. He called for a five-year ban on the practice.

Within that time, according to Mr Ziegler, technological advances would enable the use of agricultural waste, such as corn cobs and banana leaves, rather than crops themselves to produce fuel. The growth in the production of biofuels has been driven, in part, by the desire to find less environmentally-damaging alternatives to oil.

The United States is also keen to reduce its reliance on oil imported from politically unstable regions. But the trend has contributed to a sharp rise in food prices as farmers, particularly in the US, switch production from wheat and soya to corn, which is then turned into ethanol.

Mr Ziegler is not alone in warning of the problem. The IMF last week voiced concern that the increasing global reliance on grain as a source of fuel could have serious implications for the world's poor.

Story from BBC NEWS:HEREPublished: 2007/10/27 06:37:26 GMT

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dominican Republic fails to win seat at UN Security Council

[From BBC Caribbean]Costa Rica has been elected to fill a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Its opponent, the Dominican Republic, bowed out following two rounds of voting in which they'd trailed behind.Costa Rica received 116 votes and the Dominican Republic 72 votes in the first round.In the second round, the vote was 119 for Costa Rica and 70 for the Dominican Republic.

BBC Caribbean's correspondent in Santo Domingo Jean Michel Caroit says the China factor could have swung the vote in Costa Rica's favour. "The Dominican Republic has diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and Costa Rica broke away from Taiwan a few months ago and established diplomatic relations with mainland China," he said. "And obviously many people were saying here in the Dominican Republic that it would be a major factor in the election."

Relief over decision

Costa Rica has sat on the council twice before, while the Dominican Republic never has. Dominican officials said Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso held more than 45 bilateral meetings with other UN delegations to seek support but Costa Rica also waged a vigorous campaign.

The early withdrawal of the Dominican Republic drew applause from the UN assembly mixed with relief that there would be no repeat of last year's epic between Venezuela and Guatemala. They then both failed to get the two thirds majority necessary to be elected to the second regional seat in the security council. After three weeks, both withdrew and Panama was elected as a compromise candidate. Costa Rica will now serve on the security council for the years 2008 to 2009.

Also elected on Tuesday were Libya, Vietnam and Burkina Faso and Croatia.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ecuadorean Girl Attacked in Spain by Racist

[From AP] The attack, which was filmed by security cameras aboard a train and broadcast on Spain's main television channels, showed a tall man with very short hair repeatedly hitting and kicking a young girl, all the while maintaining a mobile telephone conversation. At least one other occupant of the carriage ignored the aggression. The attack, which was filmed Oct. 7, led to the arrest of a man. A local court judge at Sant Boi, Barcelona, has charged the man, identified only as Sergi Xavier M.M., 21, with causing injury with racist motives, a court statement said Tuesday. The suspect, who had a previous criminal conviction for theft, was released pending further court proceedings, the statement said. The government of Ecuador, where the girl, aged 16, was originally from, has contacted lawyers in Spain to take up her case, Ecuadorean Ambassador Nicolas Issa Obando told reporters. Ecuador's foreign ministry said Tuesday it had sent a diplomatic note to the Spanish embassy in Quito in which the government expressed its "most energetic protest for this xenophobic act."

Train security camera video:

Interview with assailant:

Report from Spanish TV Station La Sexta:

An Independent Kurdistan

Here on Latino Insurgent, I have at times discussed the movement for the independence of Kurdistan as a possible variable in the Middle East that is often ignored by most other media outlets. For the record, the Latino Insurgent blog supports the independence and self-determination struggle of the people of Kurdistan.

Despite the implications that this may have on other affairs in the region, the freedom of the people of Kurdistan cannot be delayed or abridged simply because it may be inconvenient to other nations and their interests. The right to self-determination is not negotiable. Hopefully, perhaps in a perfect world, this can be accomplished without violence.

The following two videos are interesting to this end. The first is an official video professionally produced by the Kurdish government. The second is an amateur video. In both videos there is an undeniable nationalist sentiment. That sentiment is much more subdued in the first than in the second, but certainly present.

House Natural Resources Committee Approves Legislation on Puerto Rico Status

First and foremost here is the press release of the Committee's decision:

House Natural Resources Committee Press Release
Committee Advances Legislation to Guide Puerto Rico's Future Political Status
October 23, 2007

Washington, D.C. - For the first time in nearly 10 years, the House Natural Resources Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), today voted in favor of legislation to provide for a federally sanctioned self-determination process for the citizens of Puerto Rico.

"When I became chairman of the Committee earlier this year, I issued an Agenda of American Values to guide the work we would undertake - one part of that agenda stated, in reference to the territorial possessions of the United States, that we must recognize there is an inherent right of political self-determination," Rahall said. "I strongly believe that the time is now to provide a clear direction in determining the future political status of Puerto Rico."

The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2007 (H.R. 900) - introduced in February 2007 by Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) and supported by 129 Members of Congress - will enact some of the recommendations set forth in the Report by the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status, which was issued in 2005.

The legislation passed out of Committee today by a voice vote makes several changes to H.R. 900 as originally introduced. A substitute amendment, offered by Chairman Rahall, removed elements of the original bill and replaced them with a provision calling for a single plebiscite to determine if the people of Puerto Rico want to retain their current territorial status (status quo) or change to a status that is constitutionally viable, permanent, and non-territorial.

An amendment by Insular Affairs Subcommittee Chairwoman Donna Christensen (D-VI) would direct the Congress to recognize the authority of Puerto Rico, in the event that citizens voted in favor of a change in territorial status during the original mandated plebiscite, to convene a constitutional convention or an additional plebiscite for the purpose of proposing a self-determination option. Christensen's amendment removed any future role of the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status.

Christensen said, "I am pleased that Chairman Rahall and the author of H.R. 900 were open to accepting my amendment recognizing the authority of Puerto Rico to either convene a constitutional convention or hold a subsequent plebiscite to determine the people's choice for Puerto Rico's future political status and relationship with the United States. The Rahall substitute, with my amendment, is a good faith joint effort to bring the differing approaches together in a way that allows us to move forward."

"The United States is the greatest democracy in the world - a superpower. Yet, at the same time, the Congress of the United States has never extended to the citizens of Puerto Rico a Congressionally sanctioned process for them to reassess their political status. As such, the Committee met today to consider legislation of great import to the citizens of Puerto Rico - a proposition to see if Puerto Ricans are satisfied with the status quo in terms of their political status, or not," Rahall said.

We will have a full analysis on this very shortly.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Piss off the Government... Read a book!

READ books people. Read everyday. Read like your life depends on it. Because it actually does. It is so easy not to read that the government just doesn't have to dissuade you from it. They expect that you will not read. So read. Read a book. Piss off the government and read. Here are some suggestions:

Support this blog, go to the Latino Insurgent Bookstore for more reading ideas. The Latino Insurgent Bookstore is powered by

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bush War Funding Request Includes Mexico and Central America

Just finished reading the newest War Funding Request by the Bush Administration (because I have very little else to do with my time) and found this little gem embedded into the mix:

"$500 million for Mexico and $50 million for Central American countries, in their unprecedented cooperative efforts to address common threats to our nations by combating transnational crime and drug trafficking."

There are two questions that immediately rise to the forefront here:

  • Why is this being attached to the War Funding Request?
  • What exactly is the US buying from Mexico for 500 million dollars?
Lets begin with this announcement reported on by the New York Times on October 5, 2007:

Mexico: U.S. Plans $1 Billion in Aid to Fight Drugs

Published: October 5, 2007
The United States would give Mexico $1 billion in aid over the next two years to fight drug cartels under an aid package that will need Congressional approval, said Carlos Rico, the Mexican under secretary for North American affairs. For months, the two governments have been holding discussions about a program that would provide the Mexican police and prosecutors with training, equipment and advanced technology from the United States. Details of the negotiations have not been made public, and aides in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives said lawmakers had yet to be briefed. Judith Bryan, a spokeswoman for the United States Embassy in Mexico City, said a final agreement had not yet been reached.

So this $500 million is the first payment of a $1 billion contract with Mexico known as the "Merida Initiative" in Mexico. The details, although somewhat vague, include no actual exchange of money only equipment and training. But critics in Mexico have questioned whether this is an attempt by both governments to introduce American military forces into Mexico.

Patricia Espinosa, spokesperson for Mexican Foreign Relations, assures that "at not point was it ever contemplated to have foreign troops, government agents, or American industries in Mexican national territory involved in actions against organized crime and narco-trafficking " [Niega cancillería presencia militar de EU por Iniciativa Mérida]

Still if military equipment is involved in the trade, there will be American troops on Mexican soil, just like in Plan Colombia, the U.S.-Colombian deal that fed Colombia's War Against Drugs. If advanced military technology is traded then American military trainers will have to train the Mexican military. Also, and maybe this is splitting hairs here, but Espinosa never says that there will not be American troops on Mexican soil, she says there will not be any "involved in actions against organized crime and narco-trafficking". The statement is qualified.

The first question is why is this tucked into the War Funding Request handed to Congress? Either Bush doesn't want this to be handled as a separate manner by Congress, or this is somehow connected to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is an ongoing battle for supremacy just south of the US-Mexico border between Mexican Federal forces and the local drug cartels, but that has been ongoing for a while, and if Bush were really concerned about it he would not have recalled the national guard from the border.

I'm speculating now, but with the European Union watching for illegal American prisons within member countries, and media attention tuned to the ongoings at Guantanamo, and there being nowhere else that has the perfect combination of isolation, security, and accessibility, could the details of the "Merida Initiative" include a Guantanamo-like prison on Mexican soil? This would explain its appearance on the War Funding Request. Which would also explain question #2.

All we can say is that from both sides of the border there is much more to this than meets the eye. Oh, and as far as the $50 million going to Central America, if I were Daniel Ortega, I'd be watching my back.

A Message from Fidel to Bush

BUSH is obsessed with Cuba. Yesterday, the news was received that a White House spokesman announced the president would present new initiatives for the transition period now begun. Another spokesman from the State Department later confirmed the statement, reiterating Bush’s demanding and threatening tone.

As affirmed by Ricardo Alarcón, the president of our National Assembly, a comrade who is well-informed about Bush’s scheming and intentions, after that would come the firing squads of the Cuban-American mafia, with permission to kill everyone suspected of being a faithful member of the Party, the Youth or the mass organizations.

Mr. Bush: Your genocidal blockade, your support for terrorism, your murderous Cuban Adjustment Act, your wet-foot/dry-foot policy, your protection of the worst terrorists in this hemisphere, your unjust punishment of the five Cuban heroes who exposed the danger posed to U.S. citizens and those of other countries of dying in mid-flight, must all end.

Sovereignty is non-negotiable.

Likewise, the shameful torture being carried out in the occupied territory of Guantánamo must also end.

We were never intimidated by your threats of preemptive and surprise attacks on the 60 or more dark corners of the Earth. The outcome of that has now been seen in a single country: Iraq.

Do not attack others; do not threaten humanity with a nuclear war. The peoples will defend themselves, and all would perish in that inferno.

Thank you for your attention.

Fidel Castro Ruz

October 21, 2007

Time: 6:12 a.m
[Original Spanish version]

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Covering The Cuban Municipal Elections

Cuban municipal elections started today Sunday October 21 at 7AM. By the end of today Cubans will have elected 15,236 delegates for local municipal assemblies out of 37,258 candidates. By Cuban election rules candidates are forbidden from campaigning and candidates are only represented by a picture and resume. This is the first tier of the Cuban election process which is then followed by a vote cast by those elected local assembly men or women for the 609 seats of the National Assembly, after which the National Assembly elects a President, expected to be Raul Castro.

This year's elections are considered important because the Cuban government has asked for younger members of Cuban society to run as candidates and take ownership of Cuba's government. This latest move by the Cuban government is, not surprisingly, being met with skepticism by the United States which claims Cuba's system to be undemocratic. However, While Cuba's government only recognizes the Cuban Communist Party as the only legal political entity, non-communist party candidates, independents, are allowed to run for office and are often elected into municipal assembly posts.

The call for younger members of Cuban society to join the election process is a reflection of the advanced ages of many in the islands leadership circles. With Fidel Castro's health in question and with senior Communist Party members retiring due to their age, the government has asked for "new blood". In Cuba, elections are open to all citizens over the age of 16 years old. Seven million Cubans are expected to cast a ballot today, or roughly 85% of the eligible voting population.

Quick facts about the Cuban Democratic System:
  • 37,258 candidates of which 28% are women.
  • Voter turnout ranges from 80 to 90% turnout.
  • Cuban population is 11.4 million people.
  • Proportionally speaking 3 out of every 1000 Cubans are running for office this year.
Cuban elections in the news:
AFP - Castro Lauds Cuba's One-Party Elections
Reuters - Cuba holds first election without Castro
BBC News - Cuba set for municipal elections
Mathaba - Mass Participation in Cuba's elections
Diario Las Americas - Cuba's Electoral Farce
Press TV - Cuban's elect municipal councilors

Cuba's Peak Oil Story: Lessons to be learned for those who will listen

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba's economy crashed as their primary source of oil suddenly disappeared. Cuba entered what was termed as the "Special Period". During this period, roughly the entire decade of the 1990s, Cuba was forced to reinvent its economy as well as its society. The economic problems were largely the result of the lack of oil, which was then exacerbated by American policies to exploit this period to bring about the final collapse of Fidel Castro's government.

American measures such as the Helms Burton Act of 1996 and its preceding policies beginning in 1992 strove to push the Cuban population towards revolution. The measures ultimately failed. The following documentary tells the story of how Cuba managed to restructure its economy and society to overcome the "Special Period". There are lessons here that every country on Earth needs to begin learning if human progress is going to continue into the future.

The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

Friday, October 19, 2007

[Article from Green Left Weekly] One Last Favor: Australia, Cuba, and the United States

by Tim Anderson
Green Left Weekly (radical newspaper) via
New South Wales, Australia
October 17, 2007

One of the last favors the Howard government in Australia will be asked to perform for the Bush administration will be to attempt to soften the crushing diplomatic defeat the United States suffers every year at the United Nations over its ongoing economic blockade of Cuba.

A United Nations vote is expected on a motion by Cuba at the end of October. In 2006, the motion passed 183 to four (United States, Israel, the Marshall Islands, and Palau) with one abstention. Australia voted for the motion, but not before an unsuccessful attempt at an amendment that sought to criticize Cuba.

In breach of a range of international laws—from telecommunications to trade to the Genocide Convention—the United States has blockaded Cuba for nearly half a century, as part of a campaign to overthrow the elected government and the Cuban constitution.

The United States blockade, an executive act of President John F. Kennedy (after a failure to agree on compensation terms over the nationalization of United States companies), was set in United States law by the 1996 Helms Burton Act.

Under this "trading with the enemy" law, United States companies are banned from trading with Cuba and United States citizens cannot visit Cuba without United States government permission. United States citizens are regularly fined for visiting Cuba, or being caught with Cuban cigars. Cuba receives more than 2 million tourists every year, but very few are United States citizens.

Cuba says the economic blockade has cost it at least $89 billion in damages, denied important medical equipment, blocked scientific and cultural exchange, stolen the assets of or intimidated trading companies and constitutes a form of genocide, designed quite simply to re-colonize Cuba. The blockade has been accompanied by terrorist actions (including one C.I.A.-backed aircraft bombing) that have cost the lives of more than 3,000 Cubans.

The United States says its measures only constitute an "embargo," that the Cuban government alone is responsible for any economic problems and that this "embargo" is a bilateral matter that does not concern any other state.

However, United States subsidiaries in other countries are also banned from dealing with Cuba and this has widened the net, since the wave of takeovers and mergers during the 1990's and 2000's. Under United States law, technology with more than 10 percent United States content cannot be traded with Cuba, regardless of the nationality of ownership. Vessels carrying goods from Cuba cannot enter United States ports. And even the families of business people who trade with Cuba may be (and have been) denied United States visas.

In 2007, two Australian banks were drawn into this campaign because of their United States shareholdings and operations. In February, ANZ said it was ending all transactions with Cuba, to ensure compliance with United States law. In September, the National Australia Bank was fined $100,000 by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (O.F.A.C.) of the United States Treasury, for a number of small transactions that allowed transfers to Cuban interests. One of these was a payment of $452 to a Canadian credit card owned by a Cuban citizen. Banks are generally "apolitical" when it comes to business, but in this case, Washington calls the shots.

The Howard government has consistently voted in favor of anti-blockade motions at the United Nations. "Free trade," after all, is a major element of Australian foreign policy, as successive Australian governments have tried to expand their exports of agricultural goods, especially to the United States.

However, the practice of Australian "free trade" is a much dirtier affair. In November 2006, the Australian ambassador to the United Nations, Robert Hill, moved an amendment to the Cuban motion, seeking to add a clause that called on Cuba to "release unconditionally all political prisoners" and to respect human rights treaties. The Australian role only emerged because even the most pro-United States Latin American governments would not agree to take up the task. Hill's amendment was roundly defeated and the Cuban motion was passed overwhelmingly.

South African diplomat Sivu Maqungo, on behalf of the Group of 77 (a coalition of Third World countries), supported the Cuban motion "because this relentless and unilateral action has caused untold suffering to the people of Cuba." The motion was a way to exert pressure on United States actions that are "contrary to international law, international humanitarian law, the United Nations charter and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among states."

What did the Australian "human rights" amendment have to do with a motion over the United States trade blockade of Cuba? Very little. Opposition to the United States blockade has steadily grown at the United Nations, and it was clear the amendment would fail. However, the United States wanted to save face and needed "allies" to pretend a little legitimacy.

The major "human rights" accusation the United States aims at Cuba concerns political prisoners. Cuba does have several dozen political prisoners, but almost all have been convicted of taking money from United States government programs that aim to overthrow the Cuban government and constitution. The United States claims that these United States-paid agents have special privileges as "independent journalists" or part of "civil society."

The United States also pretends that Cuba does not have elections, because the United States-funded groups are banned from contesting, and because the constitution embeds socialist principles. In fact, Cuban national elections are in October.

After Hill's motion failed, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said that Australia "does not have the moral authority to attempt to refer to the human rights situation in Cuba." Perez Roque called Australia a "lackey" and "accomplice" in United States wars of imperialism.

Indeed. Robert Hill personally, as defense minister, directed Australian bombing raids and missile strikes in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He was personally responsible for the slaughter of many thousands of innocent Iraqis. Hill also hid his knowledge of the torture operations at Abu Ghraib for over a year, and backed the closure of Al Jazeera's Baghdad television station. Hill's colleague, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, argued for the invasion of Iraq on the basis that support for the United States-led war could benefit "Australia's commercial position in Iraq." These are better credentials for war criminals than defenders of human rights.

Nevertheless, Hill feigned innocence at the United Nations, saying that "the price of speaking up and asking for nothing more than [what] is reasonable is to be abused by the Cuban minister with false allegations and offensive language."

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Howard government's spirited defense of "human rights" at the United Nations. The next anti-blockade motion is scheduled for late October. With Howard's defeat looming in the imminent Australian elections, Washington might call on one last favor.

Latino Insurgent Entertainment: La Tigresa del Oriente

To my brothers and sisters of the great country of El Peru... What is this?!? I am speechless in many ways. I am an open minded and thoughtful individual, but this video is testing my limits. Please help me expand my cultural horizons by placing this "artistic expression" in context. Thank you.

Oh, before anyone gets on the "my-people-are-better-than-your-people" tip, lets all concede that there is some of this in everyone's culture.

Que viva my gente!!!, even if I don't always get them.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

[Latino Insurgent Analysis] The Approaching Chaos: War Against Iran

Analysis by Michael A. Deliz

Everyday that passes, it seems more and more likely that the United States will unilaterally, although with a possible coalition, declare war upon Iran. This move, compounded by the invasion of Iraq, will result in a chain reaction that has already begun to take shape and which the American mainstream media has chosen to diminish in severity or ignore altogether.

The Drums of War:
It should first be noted that Iran is not in any way like Iraq. Where Iraq was controlled by a brutal dictatorship, and whose people and army were woefully demoralized. Iran is very much the regional power that others wish to be. With a government that is largely supported by its people and a military tradition that is unequaled by any neighboring power, Iran will put up a fight.

Of course all things being equal the United States could probably defeat Iran in under a week. But all things are not equal. Iran has a number of serious advantages that can help it maintain itself in a prolonged conflict. Unlike the majority of Iraqis which lived under a hostile government which did not represent their ethnic diversity, Iran does have a representative government which does assume responsibility for its constituency. Iran's parliament is not a rubber stamp as it is portrayed and is often at odds with the presidency and the ayatollah's decisions. It's parliament also includes among its members representatives of the country's ethnic minorities and women. To add to that Iran has a progressively-minded reform movement that, although at odds with the ayatollah, has been successful in bringing about changes in governance and public policy. This means that the Iranian people will not simply sit idly by while their government is attacked, and any American who believes otherwise will pay for it in the blood of America's youth.

Geography is also a factor here that cannot be ignored. Unlike Iraq which is almost entirely flat, Iran is a maze of deserts and snowcapped mountains and one which is three times larger in size than the entire country of Iraq with three times the population (roughly 70 million people to Iraq's 25 million). See the picture below:

The Iraqi Insurgency:
Despite assurances by President G.W. Bush that the Iraqi insurgency is in its last days, the truth is that it is not. Attacks upon U.S. troops are a daily occurrence which have only diminished because American security outposts around Iraq are increasingly being manned by Iraqi security forces. But declaring war against Iran will mean that the the Iraqi insurgency will confront a weaker American military throughout Iraq as American troops are redeployed to the Iranian front, leaving only a skeleton force, most likely bunkered into the Green Zone in Baghdad.

In other words, American troops will face fire from both sides of the Iran-Iraq border , and will be forced to rely on the increasingly temperamental and untrustworthy Iraqi Security forces to cover its flank. If Blackwater and other such mercenary groups are kept out of Iraq as the Iraqi government has asked and as the U.S. Congress is moving to support, the United States will be forced to call upon troops of other nations or move towards a draft to bolster its troop numbers. The first will the hard, the second will be politically impossible.

Thus Iraq will become increasingly unstable once war against Iran begins.

The Rise of Kurdistan:
Straddling both Iran and Iraq (and Turkey and Syria) is the region of Kurdistan. The Kurds, for almost 100 years have been asking for an independent and sovereign nation state to call their own. The United States encouraged this sentiment somewhat after the 1990's Gulf War by setting up the Kurdish Safe Zone in northern Iraq, which in 1992 formed its own autonomous government. After the invasion of Iraq, the United States bent over backwards to try and keep the independence movement in check by giving the region a measure of self government from the new Iraqi government.

The problem is that for the Kurds, history is finally moving in the right direction. the more unstable Iraq becomes the more local power and control the autonomous government claims. If that instability continues to increase the Kurdish people will not only see an opportunity for independence, but will rightfully claim the right of self-preservation against that instability spreading into their region.

In this way, not only would a U.S. war against Iran create the opportunity of a lifetime for Kurdish independence, it would also allow for the integration and annexation of Iranian Kurdistan, if the Iranian government collapses under an American invasion. If that series of events occurs there will be no stopping the development of a Greater Kurdistan whose people will begin asking for the full integration of all Kurdish areas under foreign control, namely those in Turkey and Syria (See map below).

The Turkish & Syrian Reaction:
The Turkish reaction to the rise of Kurdistan will be swift and bloody, make no mistake about that. Turkey's current domestic and foreign policies both make complete their perception that an independent Kurdistan is a threat to the Turkish Republic. This week, Turkey's Parliament gave permission for its armed forces to enact a military campaign against Kurdish rebels, despite opposition from the United States. Turkey is fully aware that such an incursion into Iraqi territory will not only put it at odds with the U.S. and its NATO allies, but will surely cost it admission into the European Union, but from Turkey's point of view stopping an emergent Kurdistan in its tracks is more important.

The issue is that Turkey's population is 20% Kurdish and Kurds dominate much of the southeastern provinces. For turkey the idea of an internal rebellion and the possible loss of part of its territory is enough to throw caution to the wind. In turn, if the United States and Europe turn its back to Turkey, Turkey will look for other allies, definitely in Syria and possibly in Russia.

Syria, however, will be a minor factor, their internal situation is much too fragile to directly get involved to stop the reunification of Kurdistan. For that very reason, however, they cannot simply accept it, thus Syria will simply support Turkey's every decision regarding Kurdistan. And keep in mind that Syria and Iran have a loose but very real mutual-protection pact which will certainly come into effect if Israel decides to join the American war against Iran.

The Palestinian Street:
Any action taken by the United States in the Middle East resonates in Israel. If the United States attacks Iran, Israel will follow protocol and raise its internal security measures in self defense. The weight of this heightened vigilance will primarily fall upon the Palestinian population. This will result in the further trampling of human rights, which will relight the fire under Hamas to carry on attacks against the Israeli population and its government. Hamas has ties to Iran and is suspected of being financed by the Iranian military, thus any attack against Iran will be surely followed by a Hamas attack against Israel.

The security crackdown by Israel will also finally destroy Fatah, Hamas' political rival and the more moderate of the two organizations. Fatah's open public profile will also make it an easier target for Israeli security sweeps, leaving the Palestinian people with only Hamas to rely upon for protection. The demise of Fatah will also allow for Lebanon's Hezbollah organization to claim solidarity with Hamas and the Palestinian people and solidify its strained relationship with Syria. Which Syria, by its relationship with Iran, will clandestinely support both organizations.

The Central Asian Question:
In the mean time, Afghanistan's government, which mostly operates from bunkered compounds, will be severely destabilized by a war against Iran. As American resources are pulled into the Iranian conflict, Taliban forces will increase their insurgency against the government of Hamid Karzai. Karzai in 2005 signed a strategic partnership agreement with the United States, making it a definite member of any coalition that moves against Iran.

Unfortunately for Karzai, the public wave of public discontent may topple his government and return the country into the hands of the Pashtun people where the Taliban main source of support is found. At worst Afghanistan will fall into utter chaos, Somalia-style, as each local tribal leader vies for control in the power vacuum. At best, Afghanistan will fall into civil war with tribal leaders banding together, under the same groupings as the Nortern Alliance and the Taliban represented before 9/11.

Pakistan will be another favored staging area for U.S. troops, but the Musharaf government is already in political thin ice with its people, so apart from being a possible launch pad for an assault into the interior of Iran, Musharaf will do everything possible to keep his troops out of the fight. It should also be noted that Pakistani military leaders are very unhappy with the secret nuclear pact signed by the U.S. President and India, whose details are unknown but include the transfer of American nuclear technology to Pakistan's rival.

The Incidentals:
President Putin of Russia recently declared that the Caspian Sea is off limits as a staging area for an attack against Iran and the Caspian states have signed an agreement to prohibit use of their countries for the same purpose. This is a difficult development to surmount for the United States because in the past few years the U.S. has acquired space in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan possibly in preparation for an attack upon Iran. This means that if these Caspian states stick to the agreement, or are made to stick to the agreement by Russian influence, the Caspian Sea will become refuge for Iran's government should it be forced to abandon the country and the capacity of the United States to surround the country will be severely undercut.

Russia itself will not go to the aid of Iran, but will surely keep control of the Caspian by air and sea to ensure the U.S. does not transgress into Russia's sphere of influence. Putin does not want a military confrontation with the United States, but he is betting the United States wants a confrontation with Russia even less. Besides, for the past 10 months the Russian air force has made it a point to show off its capabilities by running Cold War Era drills that have included incursions into British airspace. Putin may not want a confrontation, but is willing to have one to reclaim the military respect his country once had.

China is also a variable in this whole mess. An attack on Iran by the United States will severely harm China's chances of ever tapping into the Caspian Sea oil reserves, which Iran has been negotiating with them. China will not go to war against the United States, but they are conscious of the fact that they can make matters very difficult for the United States in a variety of ways economically. But that sword is double-edged, and it is China's trump card of last resort.

France's Prime Minister Sarkozy, has vowed to go to war against Iran if it develops its nuclear capabilities. This is probably a bluff, but if it isn't, Sarkozy will have a very short political career. The French people, although ridiculed in the United States, are often passionately anti-American and when the first French soldier dies in Iran, Sarkozy will be blamed personally. More likely is that any French aid to the U.S. will be logistic in nature rather than truly military. There is of course France's Foreign Legion which has been borrowed in occasion by the United States, but the numbers that would add are minuscule compared to the task and Sarkozy wouldn't be able to claim a true French involvement. Besides Sarkozy's announcement was not positively received by the French people and he is probably looking for a way to wiggle out of any commitments to live up to it by now.

Globally, it should be noted that nobody is going to shed a tear if the Iranian government falls to a U.S. invasion. Still the reception of American diplomats will be increasingly cold around the world as peoples all over the world will see nothing else in these American actions than a rogue war-mongering empire whose president will stop at nothing until the world bows at his feet. And nothing would make China, Russia, and the European Union happier, than an increased anti-American sentiment for them to exploit.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cuba at the United Nations: Speech by Felipe Pérez Roque

Recorded on September 26, 2007 - Speech by Felipe Pérez Roque before the General Assembly of the United Nations. [I have chosen the Spanish version (without translation) because I always find the translations to be somewhat filtered in emotion and content, nevertheless for those who would rather hear it in English I have included the links at the bottom of this post]

Part I in Spanish

Part II in Spanish

Part I with English translation
Part II with English translation

Friday, October 12, 2007

Video: China vs US: The Battle for Oil

This video was forwarded to me by the editor the Huntermania blog. I think this video sheds some light on the increasingly contentious race for the dwindling supplies of global oil.