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Joe Anybody Latin America Solidarity
Wednesday, 11 January 2017
Mainstream Media Ignores Human Rights Defenders Being Murdered
Mood:  down
Now Playing: South America Frontline Defenders, which has put out an annual report

Colombia is By Far The Most Dangerous Country for Human Rights Defenders (But You Wouldn’t Know This From The Mainstream Media)

Dan Kovalik Labor & Human Rights Lawyer




Frontline Defenders, which has put out an annual report on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) at Risk since 1998, just put out its most recent report detailing the struggle of HRDs throughout the world in 2016. As Frontline Defenders details, there were 281 HRDs killed throughout the globe in 2016, and an incredible 85 of these (or about 30%) were from Colombia, the U.S.’s closest ally in the Western Hemisphere.

Another 58 HRDs killed were from Brazil which experienced a U.S.-supported right-wing coup beginning in April of 2016; and 33 were from Honduras which had a right-wing, U.S.-backed coup in 2009. In total, these three countries accounted for about 61% of all HRDs killed world-wide in 2016.

What is more shocking than even these statistics, is the lack of reporting on them that one hears in the mainstream media (MSM).

Colombia in particular receives barely a whisper of reportage from the U.S. press, despite its uniquely bad human rights situation, a human rights situation which has only gotten worse as the peace process in that country progressed. As Frontline Defenders explains:

In Colombia, the progression of the peace process and the establishment of a definitive ceasefire between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) . . . was met by an increase in the level of violence experienced by the HRDs. After the peace agreement was unveiled on 26 August, 13 HRDs were assassinated in less than three weeks in Antioquia, César, Cauca and Nariño.

As Frontline Defenders points out, “[l]ocal organizations reported that these and other attacks were carried out by groups who sought to derail or postpone the peace process” – namely, the right-wing paramilitaries backed by the Colombian security forces who are in turn backed by the United States. Indeed, the well-respected NGO, Programa Somos Defensores (We Are Defenders Program) related in its report covering the first half of 2016 that paramilitaries and the official Colombian security forces were responsible for a combined 78% of all aggressions against HRDs, while the FARC guerillas were responsible for a mere 0.1% of such aggressions.

Of course, these figures are the exact opposite of what one might have guessed from consuming mainstream press information which tends to downplay the crimes of the Colombian State while attempting to blame the FARC for the terrible human rights situation in Colombia. Meanwhile, it must be said that the FARC has shown a sincere resolve to end the nearly 53-year conflict in that country, to own up to the crimes it has committed over the years and build a lasting peace in that country.

As all of this illustrates, the mainstream press simply refuses to give equal time to the atrocities carried out by the U.S. and its allies, while instead focusing on the abuses (both imagined and real) of the U.S.’s ostensible enemies.

And so, while the press obsesses about any and all alleged misdeeds of Colombia’s next door neighbor, Venezuela, you might be surprised to learn that Frontline Defenders relates that only 1 HRD was killed in that country last year. But alas, these are inconvenient facts to a press corps which largely has become a mouthpiece for the U.S. State Department, and has stopped doing any real journalism.

The selective concern of the MSM has real-life consequences. If the press focused on the human rights situation in such countries as Colombia proportionally to the abuses they commit, countries like Colombia would receive nearly-daily coverage, and there would be some real accountability for the U.S.’s continued support of the Colombian military to the tune of $10 billion since 2000 and counting. However, as it stands now, there is almost no accountability at all. So, in a real way, the MSM aids and abets the U.S.’s continued support for repressive regimes, while stoking public antipathy for countries the U.S. has designated as our enemies.

We must demand more accountability from both our press and our government in order for human rights to be honored as they should be, instead of being used as a mere bludgeon for the U.S. to wield against countries which are simply too independent for its liking

Posted by Joe Anybody at 9:35 AM
Friday, 25 November 2016
How US policy in Honduras set the stage for today’s mass migration
Mood:  don't ask
Now Playing: Corrupt US policy in Honduras - Shame on the USA
Topic: Honduras Solidarity

How US policy in Honduras set the stage for today’s mass migration

October 31, 2016 9.00pm EDT







U.S. Marines in Honduras in July 2016. Wikimedia Commons


Central American migrants – particularly unaccompanied minors – are again crossing the U.S.-Mexico boundary in large numbers.

In 2014, more than 68,000 unaccompanied Central American childrenwere apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico boundary. This year so far there have been close to 60,000.

The mainstream narrative often reduces the causes of migration to factors unfolding in migrants’ home countries. In reality, migration is often a manifestation of a profoundly unequal and exploitative relationship between migrant-sending countries and countries of destination. Understanding this is vital to making immigration policy more effective and ethical.

Through my research on immigration and border policing, I have learned a lot about these dynamics. One example involves relations between Honduras and the United States.

U.S. roots of Honduran emigration

I first visited Honduras in 1987 to do research. As I walked around the city of Comayagua, many thought that I, a white male with short hair in his early 20’s, was a U.S. soldier. This was because hundreds of U.S. soldiers were stationed at the nearby Palmerola Air Base at the time. Until shortly before my arrival, many of them would frequent Comayagua, particularly its “red zone” of female sex workers.

U.S. military presence in Honduras and the roots of Honduran migration to the United States are closely linked. It began in the late 1890s, when U.S.-based banana companies first became active there. As historian Walter LaFeber writes in “Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America,” American companies “built railroads, established their own banking systems, and bribed government officials at a dizzying pace.” As a result, the Caribbean coast “became a foreign-controlled enclave that systematically swung the whole of Honduras into a one-crop economy whose wealth was carried off to New Orleans, New York, and later Boston.”

By 1914, U.S. banana interests owned almost 1 million acres of Honduras’ best land. These holdings grew through the 1920s to such an extent that, as LaFeber asserts, Honduran peasants “had no hope of access to their nation’s good soil.” Over a few decades, U.S. capital also came to dominate the country’s banking and mining sectors, a process facilitated by the weak state of Honduras’ domestic business sector. This was coupled with direct U.S. political and military interventions to protect U.S. interests in 1907 and 1911.

Such developments made Honduras’ ruling class dependent on Washington for support. A central component of this ruling class was and remains the Honduran military. By the mid-1960s it had become, in LaFeber’s words, the country’s “most developed political institution,” – one that Washington played a key role in shaping.

The Reagan era

A U.S. military advisor instructs Honduran troopers in Puerto Castilla, Honduras, in 1983. AP Photo

This was especially the case during the presidency of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. At that time, U.S. political and military policy was so influential that many referred to the Central American country as the “U.S.S. Honduras” and the Pentagon Republic.

As part of its effort to overthrow the Sandinista government in neighboring Nicaragua and “roll back” the region’s leftist movements, the Reagan administration “temporarily” stationed several hundred U.S. soldiers in Honduras. Moreover, it trained and sustained Nicaragua’s “contra” rebels on Honduran soil, while greatly increasing military aid and arm sales to the country.

The Reagan years also saw the construction of numerous joint Honduran-U.S. military bases and installations. Such moves greatly strengthened the militarization of Honduran society. In turn, political repression rose. There was a dramatic increase in the number of political assassinations, “disappearances” and illegal detentions.

The Reagan administration also played a big role in restructuring the Honduran economy. It did so by strongly pushing for internal economic reforms, with a focus on exporting manufactured goods. It also helped deregulate and destabilize the global coffee trade, upon which Honduras heavily depended. These changes made Honduras more amenable to the interests of global capital. They disrupted traditional forms of agriculture and undermined an already weak social safety net.

These decades of U.S. involvement in Honduras set the stage for Honduran emigration to the United States, which began to markedly increase in the 1990s.

In the post-Reagan era, Honduras remained a country scarred by a heavy-handed military, significant human rights abuses and pervasive poverty. Still, liberalizing tendencies of successive governments and grassroots pressure provided openings for democratic forces.

They contributed, for example, to the election of Manuel Zelaya, a liberal reformist, as president in 2006. He led on progressive measures such as raising the minimum wage. He also tried to organize a plebiscite to allow for a constituent assembly to replace the country’s constitution, which had been written during a military government. However, these efforts incurred the ire of the country’s oligarchy, leading to his overthrow by the military in June 2009.

Post-coup Honduras

The 2009 coup, more than any other development, explains the increase in Honduran migration across the southern U.S. border in the last few years. The Obama administration has played an important role in these developments. Although it officially decried Zelaya’s ouster, it equivocated on whether or not it constituted a coup, which would have required the U.S. to stop sending most aid to the country.

Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Honduran foreign minister in 2010. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in particular, sent conflicting messages, and worked to ensure that Zelaya did not return to power. This was contrary to the wishes of the Organization of American States, the leading hemispheric political forum composed of the 35 member-countries of the Americas, including the Caribbean. Several months after the coup, Clinton supported a highly questionable election aimed at legitimating the post-coup government.

Strong military ties between the U.S. and Honduras persist: several hundred U.S. troops are stationed at Soto Cano Air Base (formerly Palmerola) in the name of fighting the drug war and providing humanitarian aid.

Since the coup, writes historian Dana Frank, “a series of corrupt administrations has unleashed open criminal control of Honduras, from top to bottom of the government.”

Organized crime, drug traffickers and the country’s police heavily overlap. Impunity reigns in a country with frequent politically-motivated killings. It is the world’s most dangerous country for environmental activists, according to Global Witness, an international nongovernmental organization.

Although its once sky-high murder rate has declined, the continuing exodus of many youth demonstrates that violent gangs still plague urban neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, post-coup governments have intensified an increasingly unregulated, “free market” form of capitalism that makes life unworkablefor many. Government spending on health and education, for example, has declined in Honduras. Meanwhile, the country’s poverty rate has risen markedly. These contribute to the growing pressures that push many people to migrate.

While the next U.S. president will deliberate about what to do about unwanted immigration from “south of the border,” this history provides lessons as to the roots of migration. It also raises ethical questions as to the responsibility of the United States toward those now fleeing from the ravages U.S. policy has helped to produce.

Posted by Joe Anybody at 10:35 AM
Friday, 29 July 2016
We oppose the militarization of borders in South America
Mood:  down
Now Playing: Senator Merkley: Appropriations Committee: passed a bill with incentives for such militarization, prevention and return of mig
Topic: Latin America Solidarity

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "pcasc staff" <info@pcasc.net>
Date: Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 3:22 AM -0700
Subject: Re: Boletin MMM Junio - WMW Newsletter Jun - MMF bulletin Juin.
To: "pcasc activist" <pcasc-activist@pcasc.net>
Cc: <mmm-mmf-wmw-friends@listas.movimientos.org>

"Yes, now more than ever, we need a link, to connect with our sisters in the four corners of the world, because the situation today has become unsustainable: violence against women has been escalating as a result of increasing militarization, and poverty is deepening as result of the dispossession of our livelihoods. Corporate powers and governments are reinforcing their mechanisms for control, intimidation and the criminalization of women and social movements that stand for justice in defence of Mother Earth, in defence of democracy, in defence of life."


This asks us to bring similar requests together in one call to each member of Congress, because it's the same problem of militarization that drives abuses consistently.  Militarization is the tool of the corporations and upper class to dominate, exploit, and make big profits.


We at PCASC have been asking our members of Congress to oppose the militarization of borders that the US Administration is pushing for Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and the return of refugees from these, who have often then been murdered.

We have not seen any positive actions from them. Senator Merkley is on the Appropriations Committee that passed a bill with incentives for such militarization, prevention of migration, and return of migrants, despite our asking that he seek to remove these conditions. His office did not inform us of the consideration of this bill (State and Foreign Operations, Central America section) nor whether Senator Merkley took any action.  His foreign affairs staff, Adrian Snead, told us that Plan Colombia, the militarization of Colombia during which 6.4 million people were victimized, was a success.


The message above and attached newsletter here from the World March of Women articulates clearly messages we ask you to take to your members of Congress: stop US militarization programs!  They will tell you they will convey your message. Ask for commitments to action and their responses to your request and call them back.  They have been slippery and avoided acting.  Please help us persist and insist that not standing up emphatically for human rights is not acceptable because they can act to diminish the suffering and abuses.  They can so they need to.

1.  The message above and in the email below and its attached newsletter shows us AND our members of Congress the human rights abuses THEY produce when they allow militarization: women suffer a lot of the abuse.

Specifically, please call them and tell them to join others or initiate action to stop supporting the abuses against women (and others) in Turkey (and everywhere) that they have set up by building up military forces and to end that military support. I would read the first paragraph above because it identifies clearly the harm from militarizing.  Men and children get killed and abused, too, in Latin America.

Other information tells us to get US nuclear weapons out of Turkey, which just had a coup attempt, before ISIS or a hostile takeover gets them.  Threatening Russia with nuclear weapons next door is foolish and destructive: get the hawks who want war and abusive governments like the one the US set up in the Ukraine out.

2.  Please call and tell ask them AGAIN to cosponsor the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, HR 5474, and sign onto Rep Lowenthal's letter to the Secretary of State to get serious about human rights abuses in Mexico (due Th July 28), if they are in the House, and they can introduce these in the Senate.  Representative Bonamici has cosponsored both already, Reps Blumenauer and DeFazio have signed the Lowenthal letter. Rep Blumenauer is still thinking about Berta's Act -- it's high time he acted, his staff claims he's got a good record on human rights. Rep Schrader says he won't act unless Republicans are joining; if you're his constituent, you can tell him he represents his voters, not the Republicans in Congress.  He needs to assert his demands for human rights.  He can invite the Republicans and go on without them if they fail to act humanely.  Senators are just waiting around, apparently.  They all need to take initiative like Representative Bonamici, although she also would not initiate a Dear Colleague letter to stop the bill pushing militarizing Central American borders.

3.  Tell them to end the military support of the Colombian government, called Plan Colombia, not the success they claim but a disaster for its 6.4 million victims since it began (Latin America Working Group:The Human Rights Costs During Plan Colombia).  The treaty with the FARC, the main guerrilla group, means they don't need the capability to massacre the FARC after they disarm, which is what happened after a previous guerrilla group disarmed in the 1980s, so the US needs to ensure protection of disarmed guerrillas (and all Colombians) from military/police, corporate, and paramilitary attacks.  They need to disarm the paramilitaries.

4.  There are corporate-driven, militarily enforced land thefts, killings, and assaults in the Philippines (and other countries like the ones in Latin America).  What are they doing and will they do to stop the military attacks that the recent
Lakbay Lumad USA tour showed us that drive people off their land?  Stop US military support to the Philippines and impose penalties for their human rights violations.

Often they will say that they defer to the ranking Democrats on the committee that a bill is in.  If it's about abuses of human beings (or our planet), we need them to insist on moral behavior just as we would.


Please phone or email me what responses you get to these specific requests. As an organization, we need to know what actions we take.  My experience is that I need to call them back to get a final response: they study things for a long time sometimes. Persistence!

Jack Herbert

Core Team, PCASC

Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:38 PM
Saturday, 6 June 2015
Oaxaca: Between Rebellion and Utopia - video
Mood:  crushed out
Now Playing: This video is in Spanish




Video Uploaded on YouTube on Oct 24, 2011

On the 14th of June in the capital of Oaxaca in the state of Oaxaca, the protest camp of the teachers union was evicted. They were striking for better salaries and better social conditions for their pupils. This brutal eviction led to a broad solidarity of the population of Oaxaca, which organized themselves in the APPO (People's Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca). The APPO not only claims the demission of the responsible overnor Ulises Riuz Ortiz, but made several concrete proposals for a new constitution.

This documentary shows the struggle of the APPO and the daily life in the camps. It lets people from different sectors talk about their reasons for joining the struggle and also about their plans for the time after Ulises. It shows, as well, the brutal repression that the social movements in Oaxaca are facing, which cost the lives of several people.

Posted by Joe Anybody at 3:08 PM
Updated: Saturday, 6 June 2015 3:14 PM
Saturday, 2 May 2015
Why the CIA Won��‚��„�t Give Up on Venezuela | Interview with Eva Golinger
Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: Interview with Eva Golinger 2015
Topic: Venezuela News

Why the CIA Won’t Give Up on

Venezuela | Interview with Eva Golinger


Published on YouTube Feb 24, 2015

Abby speaks with author of the Chavez Code, Eva Golinger about the Western backed resistance groups in Venezuela and how there is a coup happening in real time.



[Twitter] @evagolinger on the Western backed resistance groups in #Venezuela and how there is a coup happening in real time. http://disinfo.com/2015/02/cia-wont-give-venezeula-interview-eva-golinger/#sthash.RIGjT8QO.dpuf 

AUDIO PODCAST - Alfredo Lopez on Venezuelan 'Threat,' This week on CounterSpin: Is Venezuela really a threat to the security of the United States, as the White House has declared? And if not, what can be the point of such a statement? We'll get an accounting about what seems to be threatening Washington from activist and author Alfredo Lopez, of May First/People Link. -->http://t.co/SAqRCeCWnA 

Venezuela: Faced with imperialist assault - complete the revolution! author: by Lucha de Clases - Venezuela posted by Cort Greene http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2015/03/429434.shtml



Posted by Joe Anybody at 9:43 AM
Updated: Saturday, 2 May 2015 9:54 AM
Monday, 20 October 2014
The UN and Venezuela and the Security Council seat
Mood:  cool
Now Playing: 181 member states of the United Nations voted yea in Venezuela’s favor
Topic: Venezuela News

Venezuela at the UN, Washington At Bay

Greg Grandin on October 20, 2014 - 12:11 PM ET
http://www.thenation.com/blog/183457/venezuela-un-washington-bay#[original article location]
Samantha Power

US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power. (Wikimedia Commons)

Last week, 181 member states of the United Nations voted yea in Venezuela’s favor, allowing Caracas to take one of the two non-permanent seats on the Security Council reserved for Latin America.

Tongues clucked and fingers wagged. In the run-up to the vote, editorial boards, columnists and members of congress urged Washington to whip together the sixty-five nations needed to block Venezuela’s two-year term. But in the end, Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, could only secure only eleven opposing votes. Venezuela was Latin America’s unanimous choice to replace outgoing Argentina, joining Chile, which has one more year left. Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted his concern: “Shameful that Latin America 1) proposes abusive #Venezuela for UN Security Council, and 2) no one else, so no choice.”

Power reacted to the vote by collectively scolding the Latin American caucus:

The UN Charter makes clear that candidates for membership on the Security Council should be contributors to the maintenance of international peace and security and support the other purposes of the UN, including promoting universal respect for human rights. Regional groups have a responsibility to put forward candidates that satisfy these criteria.

Nearly exactly one hundred years ago, Woodrow Wilson said he was “going to teach the South American republics to elect good men.” We’re still trying.

Power then went on to say, “Venezuela’s conduct at the UN has run counter to the spirit of the UN Charter and its violations of human rights at home are at odds with the Charter’s letter.”

The “conduct” here referred to is Caracas’s recent turn on the UN’s Human Rights Council, where it consistently opposed US-supported resolutions and supported resolutions the US opposed.

For instance, Venezuela joined with twenty-seven other members to pass a resolution calling on countries to ensure that armed drones in counter-terrorism and military campaigns operate “in according with international law, including international human rights and humanitarian law.” Sounds unobjectionable, right? Not to Washington. Its representative voted with the minority. The United States “said that it did not believe that the examination of specific weapon systems fell under the mandate of the Council.” Kenneth Roth didn’t think this worth a tweet. Venezuela also tended to vote against any resolution that might be deemed a stalking horse for US-led interventions, siding, for instance, with China, Cuba and Russia against condemning human rights violations in Syria.

Whatever one thinks about that alliance, Caracas is not alone in Latin America in holding firm to the ideal of absolute sovereignty. This is understandable, considering the long history of Washington claiming for itself the right to judge which governments are worthy of existence and which are beyond the pale and merit destruction. Latin America unanimously opposed the invasion of Panama; nearly all of South America was opposed to bombing Libya to remove Muammar Qaddafi; there was even more unanimity against Washington’s efforts to move on Syria last year. Argentina, which then held the UN Security Council Seat, “will never propose or support a foreign military intervention,” foreign minister Héctor Timerman said. “The Argentine people will not be complicit in new deaths.”

If any country has violated the UN charter, it is the United States. The US did not get UN support to wage war in Nicaragua; and when in 1986 the UN’s International Court of Justice (established in the charter that Samantha Power evokes, mandating that all UN member nations are subject to its rulings) rejected American claims of collective self-defense, found the United States guilty of breaches of international law, and ordered that it pay reparations to Managua, Washington ignored the ruling and announced it would henceforth no longer be subject to the court’s jurisdiction (the legal scholar Eric Posner identifies the US withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the ICJ as a “watershed” moment, clearing the way of all old muliltaralist restraints and laying the legal foundation for the kind of renewed unilaterial interventionism, starting in Panama and continuing to Iraq and beyond). Nor did it have UN support to invade Panama in 1989 or bomb Iraq in 2003.On the issue of sovereignty, the charter is clear: “The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members”; “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means”; “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force”; “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.” Emphasis mine.

It’s funny, actually, that Power uses the phrases “spirit” and “letter.” Usually the US justifies violating the “letter” of UN law (that is, it doesn’t work through procedures to obtain a warrant for its actions) by saying it is acting in the true “spirit” of the UN, unilaterally enforcing values that the institution embodies but can’t execute. Spirits have long been calling the United States to follow a higher law.

One can debate whether the ideals of sovereignty and non-aggression as they were understood in the late 1940s, when the UN was founded, make sense in today’s world; but certainly people of good will can also admit that the alternative—the US acting alone—hasn’t exactly been a success. No? I guess not. Among liberals like Power and Roth it has become unreflective common sense that old-style notions of sovereignty are relics of the past. They chant “R2P” like a incantation, warding off mounting evidence that the destruction of the ideal of sovereignty has made the world considerably more volatile. Roth, who heads one of the most respected human rights organizations in the world, is still hot for action, having sent out a barrage of tweets urging Obama to intervene in Syria.

The United States should listen to Latin America more often. In her sermon to the region, Ambassador Power mentioned a number of serious crises the world faced. The Security Council, she said, “must meet its responsibilities by uniting to meet common threats. All members of the Council have an obligation to meet the expectations of those who have entrusted them with these critical responsibilities.” Responsiblities. Obligations. Trust.

Among the threats she listed was ISIS, the Islamic insurgency now threatening Iraq and Syria, which is direct blowback from Washington’s disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003 (she also mentioned Mali, which itself is a consequence of yet another war Latin America opposed: in Libya). The vast majority of Latin American countries (twenty-six in thirty-three), and all of the major ones, were opposed to the invasion of Iraq, wanting to give inspections more time. Back then, it was Chile and Mexico who held the region’s non-permanent seat on the UN. The Bush administration placed extraordinary pressure on those two countries, including the threat of economic retaliation, to a resolution authorizing force to remove Saddam Hussein.

It is unclear how Mexico would have voted had a ballot taken place, but Chile went on record as saying “we will reject it.” In a memoir titled Una Guerra Solitaria: La verdadera historia de por qué la ONU dijo NO a la guerra de Irak (“A Solitary War: The True Story Why the United Nations said NO to the War in Iraq”), a Chilean diplomat at the time, Heraldo Muñoz, describes in detail Washington’s efforts to bend his country to its will.

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Led by the moderate president Ricardo Lagos and Juan Gabriel Valdés, ambassador to the UN, Chile did try to work with Bush and Blair and come up with a sane solution to the problem Iraq posed. And Muñoz describes their trusting efforts to reason with Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice (a former Muñoz classmate at the University of Denver) and John Bolton, urging them to live up to their responsibilities and obligations to act as rational members of an equal community of nations. That didn’t happen. Seeing that it couldn’t pass without the support of Chile (and a few other countries, including Angola, who again will be joining the Security Council and is also, like Venezuela, criticized as being irresponsible) Washington shelved the resolution and assembled its “coalition of the willing.”

In other words, if Washington had listened to Latin America in 2003, one of the “threats” Power today lectures Latin America on wouldn’t exist.

Muñoz writes in his book: “Everybody has the right to due process; everybody, including the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. To deny this right in Guantanamo, or wherever, is to deny the moral superiority of democracy.” He’s currently Chile’s foreign minister, and has affirmed his support of Venezuela taking its seat on the Security Council.

If Kenneth Roth, Samantha Power, and the editorial board of the Washington Post want to know why, all they have to do is take a look at Iraq.

Looking ahead to the Security Council’s next term, this is what Ambassador Power will confront if she tries to put forward a war resolution: a “moderate,” “responsible” Chile, led by many of the same career diplomats who derailed Bush’s 2003 bid to obtain a warrant for regime change in Iraq, allied with a “radical,” “irresponsible” Venezuela. Caracas will bluster and showboat, and in so doing, make anything Chile proposes a reasonable, if not the only, alternative.

For Power, that just might be a problem from hell.


Read Next: One Thing Hillary Clinton Understands About Politics in 2014

Posted by Joe Anybody at 5:29 PM
Wednesday, 1 January 2014
Co-ops in Cuba - How Cuba is building socialism with subsidiarity
Mood:  happy
Now Playing: Cuba is embracing the principle of subsidiarity, which holds that decisions should be made at the lowest level feasible
Topic: Socialism

        Cooperative Cuba


(I am reposting from this website) 


by Cliff DuRand
Cuba is poised to be the first country in the world to have cooperatives make up a major portion of its economy. It is a laboratory for a new society.

[published in Z Magazine, October 2013, under the title “Laboratory for a New Society: Moving toward a cooperative economy,” minus the footnotes.]

Cuba is engaged in a fundamental reshaping of its society. Calling it a renovation of socialism or a renewal of socialism, the country is re-forming the economic system away from the state socialist model adopted in the 1970s toward something quite new.

This is not the first time Cuba has undertaken significant changes, but this promises to be deeper than previous efforts, moving away from that statist model. Fidel confessed in 2005 that “among the many errors that we committed, the most serious error was believing that someone knew how to build socialism.” That someone, of course, was the Soviet Union. So, Cuba is still trying to figure out for itself how to build socialism. 

To understand the current renovation it is important to distinguish between ownership and possession of property. The productive resources of society are to remain under state ownership in the name of all the people. Reforms do not change the ownership system. Reforms are changing the management system, bringing managerial control closer to those who actually possess property. So while the state will continue to own, greater autonomy will be given to those who possess that property.

In effect, Cuba is embracing the principle of subsidiarity, which holds that decisions should be made at the lowest level feasible and higher levels should give support to the local. This means more enterprise autonomy in state enterprises and it means cooperatives outside of the state.It is expected that in the next couple years 46% of the country’s GDP will be in the non-state sector of the economy. That includes cooperatives and private small businesses. Coops are likely to become the dominant part of that non-state sector.

Already 83% of agricultural land is in coops. Much of that has been in the UBPCs (Basic Units of Cooperative Production) formed in the 1990s out of the former state farms. But these were not true cooperatives since they still came under the control of state entities. Now they are being given the autonomy to become true coops.

Even more significantly, new urban coops are being established in services and industry. 222 experimental urban coops are to be opened in 2013. As of 1st of July, 124 have been formed in agricultural markets, construction, and transportation. A big expansion in this number is expected in 2014.In December 2012 the National Assembly passed an urban coop law that establishes the legal basis for these new coops.

Here are some of its main provisions:

  • A coop must have at least 3 members, but can have as many as 60 or more. One vote per socio. As self-governing enterprises, coops are to set up their own internal democratic decision making structures.
  • Coops are independent of the state. They are to respond to the market. This is to overcome the limits that hampered some agricultural coops in the past.
  • Coops can do business with state and private enterprises. They will set their own prices in most cases, except where there are prices established by the state.
  • Some coops will be conversions of state enterprises, e.g. restaurants. They can have 10 year renewable leases for use of the premises, paying no rent in the first year if improvements are made.
    Others will be start-up coops.
  • There will be second degree coops which are associations of other coops.
  • Capitalization will come from bank loans, a new Finance Ministry fund for coops and member contributions. Member contributions are treated as loans (not equity) and do not give additional votes. Loans are to be repaid from profits.
  • Coops are to pay taxes on profits and social security for socios.
  • Distribution of profits is to be decided by socios after setting aside a reserve fund.
  • Coops may hire wage labor on a temporary basis (up to 90 days). After 90 days a temporary worker must be offered membership or let go. Total temporary worker time cannot exceed 10% of the total work days for the year. This gives coops flexibility to hire extra workers seasonally or in response to increased market demands, but prevents significant collective exploitation of wage labor.

This is a big step forward for Cuba. Since 1968 the state has sought to run everything from restaurants to barber shops and taxis. Some were done well, many were not. One problem was worker motivation. Decisions were made higher up and as state employees, workers enjoyed job security even with poor performance.

However, their pay was low. Now as socios in cooperatives they will have incentives to make the business a success. The coop is on its own to either prosper or go under. Each member’s income and security depends on the collective. And each has the same voting right in the General Assembly where coop policy is to be made.

Coops combine material and moral incentives, linking individual interest with a collective interest. Each socio prospers only if all prosper.


Much of the start-up capital from members is likely come from remittances sent by relatives living abroad. This is a good way to harness for the social good some of the $2.455 billion of remittance money (2012 figures) that comes into Cuba. Although 62.4% of the population receive remittances, the bulk of this money is likely to come to whiter Cubans. As a result Black Cubans will end up being underrepresented in this sector of the economy. In the long run, this presents social dangers.


Preferential bank lending policies can avoid this problem. Cuba does not need to adopt race based affirmative action policies to correct this imbalance. Banks can give preference in their lending policies to those coops that lack funding from remittances. To each according to his need.

State plan. If coops are truly autonomous, how can this sector of the economy be articulated with planning? Guideline #1 says the socialist planning system is to remain “the principle means to direct the national economy.” How can market and plan work together? In addition to responding to the market, coops are also charged (by charter?) with a “social object.” In addition, local entities can also request that they assist in specific social projects.

Their participation is voluntary. This applies to individual coops.

But beyond this, the investment function can be used to direct the development of this sector. Bank lending priorities can be based on state development plans.

The model for economic democracy developed by US philosopher David Schweickart shows how this can operate. In After Capitalism (1) Schweickart envisions a society made up of democratically managed cooperatives exchanging goods and services in a free market. But the allocation of investment capital is made by government bodies at national, regional and local levels based on social criteria democratically decided upon.

Something like this would seem to fit well the new economy developing in Cuba today.Coops are recognized as a socialist form of organization in the Guidelines or lineamientos. In part, this is because they foster a social consciousness. By bringing people together in their daily worklife in democratically self managed organizations, coops nurture the democratic personality and the human being is more fully developed.

This point has been strongly advocated by Cuban economist Camila Piñeiro Harnecker. She argues that coops “promote the advancement of democratic values, attitudes and habits (equality, responsibility, solidarity, tolerance for different opinions, communication, consensus building).” (2) Coops are little schools of democracy in which the new socialist person can thrive, more so than was possible under state socialism. (3) Thus coops spontaneously generate at the base of society momentum toward that society of associated producers that is the aim of socialism.

Coops are the kind of institution that can make socialism irreversible by embedding its practices in daily life.

Private Businesses
The other component of the non-state sector is made up of private businesses. These small and medium sized private businesses are called self employment or cuentapropistas. While limited areas of self employment were opened up in the 1990s (e.g. paladares), this was expanded to 178 occupations in 2011. In part, this was designed to quickly absorb the large number of redundant state employees that were to be dismissed. It also allowed underground activities that had flourished since the Special Period to come out into the open and operate legally where they can be licensed, regulated and taxed.

The acceptance of small private businesses signifies that the leadership recognizes that a petty bourgeoisie is compatible with socialism. As it is often said, the state cannot do everything. Contrary to a common claim in the US media, this is not the beginning of capitalism.

The Guidelines say that accumulation of wealth is to be avoided. This means the petty bourgeoisie will not be allowed to grow into a big bourgeoisie, a capitalist class.

Unlike coops which nurture a social consciousness, private businesses foster individualism.

Self interest becomes the primary concern of private businesses. For that reason the petty bourgeoisie is a decidedly non-socialist class. While its existence is allowed, its growth should not be encouraged where coops can do the job instead.Unlike the paladares which could employ only family members, these private businesses can hire others as well. While this is also called self employment, in reality it is wage labor.

While the private exploitation of wage labor is widely understood to be incompatible with socialism (as well as in violation of the Cuban constitution), it is accepted as necessary to quickly absorb surplus workers.In recent years, small private businesses have been the fastest growing element in the Cuban economy. If they were to come to make up a sizable portion of the non-state sector, they could easily acquire significant political influence, moving Cuba away from socialism. This is because class power is fundamentally rooted in the significance a class has in the economy as a whole and thus the dependence other classes and groups have on its success.For that reason, the continued development of socialism requires that coops rather than private businesses come to make up the bulk of the non-state sector. That is likely to be the case for several reasons.

Coops are favored by the state in terms of tax policy and loan policies.

In direct competition between coops and private businesses coops often are in more advantageous positions. E.g. state restaurants that convert to coop restaurants generally have better locations than private restaurants.

Labor efficiency and productivity is high in coops due to the greater incentives for socios.
Recommendation. In the long run it would be desirable to convert many private businesses into coops so all who are employed there can enjoy the benefits equally (no exploitation) and participate in decision making (democracy). This could be done by restrictions on the size of private businesses, tax incentives for conversion, and political organizing of their wage labor force. 


Cooperative in action Role of CTC (Central de Trabajadores de Cuba)
In view of the new and growing diversity among Cuba’s workers, the role of its labor movement needs to be rethought. Under state socialism the CTC represented the interest of the working class as a whole in the councils of government.

Unlike unions in a capitalist society which represent workers in an industry or particular workplaces in an adversarial relationship with capital, in state socialism the state and the working class are considered to be united in their interests. It is for this reason that the CTC has been given a central position in the political structure.

Its role is not to represent workers in negotiations with their employers, but to be their voice in making public policy in a socialist society.Previously only 9% of employment was in the non-state sector. Now it is 22% and is expected to grow to 35%. This raises new questions for the labor movement. Reportedly, 80% of cuentapropistas have joined unions.

How can the CTC represent the interests of those cuentapropistas who are private business owners?

The petty bourgeoisie has interests different from the working class (even though they do work in their businesses). How can CTC at the same time represent the interests of the cuentapropistas who are in fact the wage laborers they employ (and exploit)?And how can the CTC represent the interests of cooperative socios given the fact that they are at once both owners and workers?

As I have suggested above, the CTC can advance socialism by advocating for the cooperative sector as a whole over against the private business sector. Beyond this, the CTC might also take on an entrepreneurial role for cooperatives, doing market research, organizing workers for new start-up coops, providing training in self-management, etc. It might even monitor coops to ensure compliance with their own self-governance processes.

21st Century Socialism

The project called 21st Century Socialism has been associated primarily with the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. It is an attempt to reinvent socialism after the collapse of the state socialism that characterized the 20th century.

In Venezuela this has involved using state power to promote cooperatives and communal councils at the base of society as seeds of a future socialism. Social transformation is constructed both from above and from below. (4) In Venezuela this is taking place in what is still overwhelmingly a capitalist society. In Cuba we see a very similar process in the context of a state socialist society.

Here the state is also promoting cooperatives, relaxing administrative control over enterprises and decentralizing governmental power to the local level. Both see the empowerment of associations at the base of society and the active participation of working people in directing their affairs as key to building the new socialism. In the Venezuelan case this is seen as eventually replacing the existing bourgeois state with a new communal state, the beginnings of which are being constructed by associations of communal councils.

In the case of Cuba, resistance to this dispersal of power away from the state is reportedly coming from the state bureaucracy itself. Some see this as motivated by the self interest of an entrenched bureaucratic class that will block Cuba’s reforms. Others see the resistance as due to bureaucratic habits that are slow to change. In that case it can be overcome by a change of mentality. (5) There is also bureaucratic resistance in Venezuela. That is why power and resources are being sent directly to communal councils, effectively by-passing traditional channels.

Something like that same strategy is being used in Cuba as some taxes are being collected at the local level rather than nationally to be distributed downward. This then shifts the capacity to initiate action to the local level, a far cry from the vertical structure of state socialism.

Democratically self governing cooperatives are an essential feature of 21st century socialism. They empower the associated producers in their daily work, giving them some control over their lives. At the same time these little schools of democracy are the soil in which the new socialist person will thrive, more so than was possible under state socialism.

And with that it becomes possible to envision the state eventually withering away as society comes more and more under the direction of a truly civil society, or what Marx called the associated producers.

Cuba is poised to be the first country in the world to have cooperatives make up a major portion of its economy. It is a laboratory for a new society. Those who are implementing the Guidelines are aware that they are redesigning society and approach the challenge in an experimental way.

The new urban coops are being set up as experiments. As difficulties emerge lessons are to be learned so as to improve the process as it goes along.One difficulty is already evident. That is the need for education in cooperativism. (6) Previous experience in the UBPC agricultural coops showed that workers were not practiced in democratic decision making. Nor did the coops have the autonomy necessary for them to feel they were really in control.

The UBPCs were actually under the control of state enterprises, such as the sugar centrals. Now for the first time they are being given real autonomy.Likewise, the workers in urban state enterprises now being cooperativized have deeply established habits of compliance with higher authority.

Under state socialism decisions came from higher up. It was a structure that bred passivity. That is part of the “change in mentality” so often talked about these days that needs to take place.

Many years ago Cuban philosopher Olga Fernandez pointed out to me that under the model of socialism Cuba had adopted, rather than the state withering away, it was civil society that was withering away. Today’s renovation of socialism is an effort to rejuvenate civil society, to construct a socialist civil society. Cooperatives may be a key link in that rejuvenation that can sustain Cuba on its way to a society run by the associated producers.

If it can succeed, it will be of world historical importance.

1. David Schweickart, After Capitalism (Rowman and Littlefield, 2nd edition 2011), pp. 47-58.
2. Camila Piñeiro Harnecker, “Las cooperatives en el Nuevo modelo economico cubano” http://rebelion.org/mostrar.php?tipo=5&id=Camila%20Pi%F1eiro%20Harnecker&inicio=0, also Cooperativas y socialismo: Una mirada desde Cuba (La Habana: Editorial Caminos, 2011).
3. Michael A. Lebowitz, The Contradictions of Real Socialism (Monthly Review Press, 2012).
4. Dario Azzellini, “The Communal State: Communal Councils, Communes, and Workplace Democracy” NACLA Report on the Americas (Summer 2013), pp. 25-30.
5. Olga Fernandez “Socialist Transition in Cuba: Economic Adjustments and Socio-political Challenges” Latin American Perspectives (forthcoming).
6. This has been emphasized by Beatriz Diaz of FLACSO in “Cooperatives in the Enhancement of the Cuban Economic Model: The Challenge of Cooperative Education” Latin American Perspectives (forthcoming). Camila Piñeiro Harnecker has proposed establishment of a special department to train coop members for their new role. Op. cit.

Tags: coopeeratives, Cuba 

ORIGINAL LINK: http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/2013/10/17/cooperative-cuba/ 

Posted by Joe Anybody at 7:24 AM
Updated: Wednesday, 1 January 2014 7:39 AM
Thursday, 28 March 2013
Anti-Chavistas respond:
Mood:  d'oh
Now Playing: Ding Dong, the Caudillo's Dead?
Topic: Opposition Opinions

Anti-Chavistas Predictably Respond to Hugo Chavez' Death:

Ding Dong, the Caudillo's Dead?

Written by David Starr   
Wednesday, 27 March 2013 04:45
The title is paraphrasing the line in the great fantasy film, "The Wizard of Oz." But fantasy and reality are evidently hard to differentiate for opponents of Hugo Chavez. Like a group of Munchkins, characters in the film, they seemed to take an attitude akin to the Munchkins, who happily sang “Ding dong the wicked witch is dead!” Chavez wasn't the "Wicked Witch,” in this case, of Venezuela, despite being vilified by his reactionary opposition. But rather than protecting freedom and democracy, elitist anti-Chavistas are willing to continue to maintain Venezuela as a market satellite under the current U.S.-dominated world order of unequal relationships among nations, especially regarding the "Third World."

And Hugo Chavez came to realize that "Third World" conditions in Venezuela must stop, thus his government's social reforms to prioritize the interests/rights of the working class and poor, deservedly so since it is their labor that creates the capital elites/imperial interests, local, and foreign, profit heavily from in the relationship of capital over labor. (Without the latter, the former would never exist.)

It is also Chavez' support for Bolivarian independence, not just for Venezuela but for other Latin American/Caribbean nations, that can contribute to changing the balance of power in the region in a more indigenous-like manner that threatens profiteering. Anti-Chavistas also hate him for this.

But like it or not, Hugo Chavez will be an important and permanent symbol for protecting sovereignty and prioritizing a sustainable equality, not a bourgeois one.

Anti-Chavistas have celebrated the death of their working class enemy, belching out (without saying "excuse me") the usual freedom-loving facade covering imperial relations. Examples within the U.S. were par for the course, whether being patronizing, relieved or joyful. John Grant's piece published in CounterPunch (03/13/2013) called "Hugo Chavez and the Knuckleheads," revealed the enthusiasm of Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin, both virtually getting off on Chavez' death using their "trademark" cheapshots. Grant also revealed more predictable anti-Chavism within the "mainstream U.S. media."

But it's the usual tiring theme: Chavez the "Tyrant, dictator, authoritarian, Commie," etc., Have they used the “Hitler” label yet?

Meanwhile there's a "fresh face" within the opposition posing as candidate for the Venezuelan presidency: Henrique Capriles. In an interview with Robert Giusti for El Universal (03/23/2013), Capriles echoed the holier-than-thou morality Chavez-haters are fond of, in this case calling his opponent, Chavez-picked Nicholas Maduro, a "fascist in his own right." This basically characterized his responses, which had a rather pretentious tone.

In Elizabeth Malimopoulos' article for Al Jazeera (03/11/2013) about Capriles, the latter portrays himself as a virtual champion of the working class and poor, citing his working class family background. But supporting neoliberal policies will threaten the working class and poor Venezuelans he claims to support. Chavez was and Maduro is working class also, only they tried to actually practice what they preach.

Capriles was, and probably still is, a candidate for the Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD, an appropriate acronym?), as reported by Rachel Booth in www.venazuelananylisis.com (08/23/2012). Booth revealed the creating of an economic plan by MUD before Venezuela's 2012 presidential election, of which Capriles ran in, and lost. "The plan includes the deregulation of the banks, opening up the economy to private investment and reduction of state funding for public services and communal projects. There also would be "cutbacks [in] food, housing and transport." This has already proven to be the slippery slope which is austerity, a 19th century-like economic policy. U.S. citizens themselves have experienced it, with the deregulation policies contributing to the 2008 Great Recession.

Booth quoted former governor of Anzoategui David de Lima about MUD's/Capriles' plan: "...there are two discourses, there's the economic discourse used to get votes, and the real one, that aims to place the economic policy of the country back in the hands of two or three sectors that always controlled it." The plan is compatible with Capriles' "upper-class family" owning "major stakes in newspapers, movie theaters and other businesses."

Another characteristic among Chavez-haters is colonial-style racism. Tariq Ali, in his piece, "Hugo Chavez and Me," published in CounterPunch (03/07/2013), asserts:

"Politicians like [Chavez] had become unacceptable. What [Chavez] loathed most was the contemptuous indifference of mainstream politicians in South America towards their own people. The Venezuelan elite is notoriously racist. They regarded the elected president as uncouth and uncivilized, a zambo of mixed African and indigenous blood who could not be trusted. His supporters were portrayed on private TV networks as monkeys. Colin Powell [probably still not learning his lesson about the U.S. GOP and its political nature] had to reprimand the U.S. embassy in Caracas for hosting a party where Chavez was portrayed as a “gorilla."

Chavez is obviously familiar with the racism: "I live here. I know them well."

A Capriles presidency could very well resemble that of Carlos Andres Perez, former president during the 1980s period of boom and bust economics. According to "Health and Liberalism: Venezuela and Cuba" by George Schulyer for the Policies Studies Organization, a government decision in 1983 to devalue Venezuela's currency-to focus on keeping up with the country's debt- fueled an already mismanaged, corrupt and failing economy. Poverty, crime and political instability erupted, inevitably leading to the 1989 food riots. Perez was later impeached.

Despite Capriles' blanket guarantees to reduce poverty, and emphasize education, employment and public assistance for the poor, the chance for neoliberal economics to return would show that his actions speak more truthfully than his words. Capriles is not a friend of the powerless. Perez condemned foreign debt as being responsible for the 1980s turmoil. Yet, he still allowed neoliberal economics to stay in place, which has fueled the debt along with further borrowing just to pay for debt, i.e., more debt paying off debt. Is Capriles like Perez in that regard?

Interim president Nicholas Maduro accused the U.S. of plotting to assassinate Capriles and shift blame on the government. He also accused plotters of contributing to Chavez' death. While this sounds like tabloid gossip, past U.S. actions in other countries have produced similar results.

The United States denied the accusations as “absurd.” But that's been the same line for years, regardless. And the denials have usually been false.

If elected, expect Capriles to follow the old script of imperial and economic subjugation. With Maduro, as with Chavez, in implementing compatible policies, expect a further chance for common Venezuelans to benefit and continuing the Bolivarian objective of sovereignty.

Anti-Chavistas, foreign and domestic, will continue to be haters; but for the sake of their own private interests/monopolies.

Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:01 AM
Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Ace goes to Venezuela for the 2012 Election
Mood:  loud
Now Playing: An updated from US activist in Venezuela




Hola Joe,

I returned from an invigorating trip to Venezuela almost two weeks ago, and it's been a whirlwind of activity since then (most notably moving into a new apartment and working on B Media's 6th Variety Show, Electile Dysfunction)  As many of you know, I was able to raise all of the funds I needed, and wanted to give you a quick debrief.

I was in Venezuela for 14 days, where I was able to reconnect with friends and work with journalists from popular movement fronts in Argentina and Spain providing independent coverage of the elections.  I was the only English translator in our group: in addition to the three articles I wrote previous to election day, I translated three updates throughout the day, added subtitles to videos, and maintained a live blog on In These Times, which included post-election analysis.  I feel so proud to have been able to be part of this process, and so incredibly indebted to all of you for empowering me to be there. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

For those of you who were able to donate, I am just about ready to sit down with some tea in my new home and wrap up your perks.

Here's a recap of everything I worked on for those who are interested:

Real Time Updates from the Venezuelan Elections, (In These Times)
Includes post-election analysis, some crazy videos, and a debunking of op-eds around the elections
Link: http://www.inthesetimes.com/uprising/Real-Time_Updates_from_the_Venezuelan_Election

Independent and Community Media Collectives Prepare for Venezuelan Elections (CommonDreams.org)
Link: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/10/06-6

Ahead of Venezuela Election, Social Movements Affirm Bolivarian Revolution (CommonDreams.org)
Link: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/10/05-3

The Party in Venezuelan Politics: Understanding the Context of the Upcoming Elections (TruthOut.org)
Link: http://truth-out.org/speakout/item/11946-the-party-in-venezuelan-politics-understanding-the-context-of-the-upcoming-elections?tmpl=component&print=1

Love to each and every one of you always,

x ace.

Posted by Joe Anybody at 2:42 AM
Updated: Wednesday, 31 October 2012 2:45 AM
Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Out Of Touch - USA agenda is dis-concerning
Mood:  incredulous
Now Playing: US Policy Out of Touch with Latin America’s in 2012

Posted by Joe Anybody at 2:16 PM
Wednesday, 11 January 2012
After Iran, will Venezuela be next for USA Impearlism?
Now Playing: 12 years of Chavez - envey and animosity from the USA

After Iran, Venezuela?


Is Chavez Next?
After Iran, Venezuela?

By MIKE WHITNEY; January 10, 2012 - Counterpunch

“The build-up against Venezuela that began during the George W. Bush administration has rapidly accelerated under Obama.”

Eva Golinger, author of The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela

Attorney and activist Eva Golinger has written an excellent piece on US-Venezuela relations that’s posted on her website Postcards from the Revolution. Golinger details the astonishing turnaround that Chavez has effected since he took office 12 years ago. Not only has Chavez routed the predatory oligarchs who once dominated Venezuelan politics, but his revolutionary social programs have also raised the standard of living for the poor and middle classes while strengthening the institutions that have transformed Venezuela into one of the hemishpere’s most vibrant democracies. Venezuela has seen a 50 percent reduction in poverty since Chavez took office in February, 1999. Venezuelans are now guaranteed free, universal health-care, a K-through-college education, and civil liberties that are protected under the constitution. US citizens have every reason to be envious of the social safety net Chavez has created for his people via his Bolivarian Revolution.

Naturally, Chavez’s progressive policies have raised a few eyebrows in Washington where his successes are seen as a threat to the established order. Corporate mandarins regard Chavez as a troublemaker and they’re doing whatever they can to get rid of him ASAP. This is why one never reads anything positive about Chavez or his accomplishments in the US media, because the corporate bosses hate him, as they do anyone who diverts money from the 1 percent at the top of the economic food-chain to the 99 percent at the bottom.

US-Venezuela relations have continued to deteriorate under Barack Obama, who has turned out to be as big a disappointment to Chavez as he has to his supporters in the US. The Obama administration continues to fund the stealth network of US-backed NGOs that have been working around-the-clock to depose the democratically-elected leader for more than a decade. Golinger has written extensively on U.S. government agencies and their persistent meddling in Venezuela’s politics. Here’s an excerpt from Golinger’s post:

"Ever since the US-supported coup attempt against President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela failed in April 2002, Washington has been pursuing a variety of strategies to remove the overwhelmingly popular South American head of state from power. Multimillion-dollar funding to anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela through US government agencies, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), has increased exponentially over the past ten years, as has direct political support through advisors, strategists and consultants - all aiming to help an unpopular and outdated opposition rise to power.

"US government agencies, including the State Department, Central Intelligence Agency, National Directorate of Intelligence and the Pentagon, have pumped up their hostile language towards the Venezuelan government in recent years. The major oil-producing nation has been placed on the countless, and baseless 'lists' produced annually by Washington, including 'failure to cooperate with counter-narcotics efforts', 'failure to aid in the war on terror', 'trafficking in persons', and others, that are based on political decisions instead of concrete, substantial evidence to support their accusations. These classifications have enabled Washington to justify not only the millions of US taxpayer dollars channeled to anti-Chavez groups fronting as NGOs, but also to increase military presence in the region and convince public opinion that Hugo Chavez is an enemy." (“War on Venezuela: Washington’s False Accusations Against The Chavez Government”, Eva Golinger, Postcards from the Revolution)

So, things have not improved under Obama at all, in fact, they’ve gotten worse. The US congress – whose public approval rating has plunged to single digits – is also beating the war drums against Chavez trying to garner support for direct intervention.

While Obama has refrained from name-calling or explicit accusations, his underlings in and out of the bureaucracy never hesitate to connect Chavez to Iran or to suggest links between Chavez and terrorism. Obama’s role in the smear campaign is as clear as his role in eviscerating the Bill of Rights with his recently-passed NDAA.

Here’s more from Golinger: “Other 'commentators' and 'analysts' are busy writing blogs and columns warning of the growing terrorist threat south of the US border. These dangerous, unfounded accusations could easily be used to justify an attack against Venezuela, as weapons of mass destruction was used against Iraq and 'protecting the population' was used against Libya. ….Time again, Venezuela has shown there are no 'terrorist training camps' on its soil. Nor is it secretly building a bomb to attack the US. Venezuela is a nation of peace. It does not invade, attack or threaten other countries.”

So, what does a peaceful country like Venezuela need to do to avert a confrontation with the United States?

Venezuela needs to become more like neighboring Colombia that Obama and others regularly hold up as a model of “democracy” in the region. Colombia – where human rights abuses and targeted assassinations are routine and where the US spends billions on a drug eradication program (Plan Colombia) that routinely sprays toxic (re: poison) chemicals on crops, livestock, water supplies and children.

Here’s a little background from Al Jazeera: “In 2008, Colombian soldiers were revealed to have murdered possibly thousands of civilians and then dressed the corpses in FARC attire in order to receive bonus pay and extra holiday time. Juan Manuel Santos (who is now Colombia’s president) was serving as defence minister …when the 'false positives' scandal broke…. Despite this and other details – such as that, since Uribe’s assumption of office, more trade unionists have been assassinated in Colombia than in the rest of the world combined …(Even so)…..[that] the country has been applauded by the US State Department and the Inter-American Development Bank as a regional role model in confronting security threats ensures the fortification of a system in which profits depend on the perpetuation of insecurity.” (“Private security and ‘the Israelites of Latin America’”, Belen Fernandez, Al Jazeera)

So, this is how one becomes America’s friend; just follow orders, kill and imprison your own people, (preferably trade unionists) and allow the corporate looting to go unchecked. No wonder the repressive Saudi dictatorship consistently ranks so high on Washington’s Friend’s List.

So, what’s in store for Chavez, who’s done nothing except raise living standards, strengthen the rule of law, and make the world a better place for ordinary working people?

The Obama administration presently has its hands full with its wars in Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. But as soon as Obama is finished “liberating” Tehran, it’ll be on to Venezuela. You can bet on it. After all, Venezuela sits on the biggest ocean of oil in the world, “over 500 billion barrels”. That means it’s only a matter of time before WMD and Al Qaida training camps are discovered in Caracas.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press.

He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com

[original article link] http://mostlywater.org/after_iran_venezuela


Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:01 AM
Sunday, 8 January 2012
The War on Drugs and LAtin America
Mood:  not sure
Now Playing: The War on Drugs - Books - Links - Articles to share
Topic: Latin America Solidarity

Washington Office on Latin America

From the "Just the Facts" blog

Monday, January 2, 2012

Long-form readings about Latin America in 2011: a list from Adam

Over the course of 2011, I read or saved a large pile of articles that were:

Somehow related to security in Latin America and the Caribbean;
Available at no cost on the Internet;
At least 2,500 words in length; and
Not written by the three organizations participating in the “Just the
Facts” project. See the end of this post for a list of our own 2011
long-form writings about security in Latin America and the Caribbean.

After a lot of reading over the holiday break, here are links to my
favorite 2011 long-form articles about security in the Americas.

Congratulations and thanks to the authors of all of these very
informative pieces. Comments are open on this post, so feel free to
add anything that I may have missed — I was on the road a lot last

Bruce Bagley, “El ‘efecto globo’ o por qué se está perdiendo la
‘Guerra contra las Drogas,’” Razón Pública (Colombia), January 31,
2011. A veteran scholar of the “war on drugs” gives a thorough
overview of this endeavor’s current state, its shortcomings and its
unintended consequences. (Part 1) (Part 2)

Rory Carroll, “Drugs, murder and redemption: the gangs of Caracas,”
The Guardian(UK), March 10, 2011. Carroll tells the stories of gang
members in El Cementerio, a neighborhood in El Consejo, a city west of

Jim Popkin, “Authorities in Awe of Drug Runners’ Jungle-Built,
Kevlar-Coated Supersubs,” Wired, March 29, 2011. Worth a read, if only
for the photos.

Perry Anderson, “Lula’s Brazil,” London Review of Books (UK), March
31, 2011. A fair and engrossing overview, from a political economy
perspective, of Luis Inacio Lula da Silva’s eight years in office.

David Grann, “A Murder Foretold,” The New Yorker, April 4, 2011. An
account of the bizarre conspiracy around the death of Guatemalan
Rodrigo Rosenberg, which threatened the presidency of Álvaro Colom
until investigators, especially the UN anti-impunity commission
(CICIG), solved the case.

Patricio Zamorano, “Honduras: an urgent need for a new social pact,”
Center for Democracy in the Americas, May 2011. The author observes
the country’s peaceful “resistance” movement and determines that, in
an atmosphere of extreme polarization, achieving reconciliation in
post-coup Honduras will be a very complex task.

Sergio Arauz, Óscar Martínez, and Efren Lemus, “El Cártel de Texis,”
El Faro (El Salvador), May 16, 2011. A remarkable investigative piece
reveals a macabre alliance between narcotraffickers, gangs, police and
politicians in northwestern El Salvador.

Karl Penhaul, “Inside the FARC: Colombia’s guerilla fighters,” Al
Jazeera, May 30, 2011. The veteran war reporter, the first in several
years to find a way to embed with Colombia’s FARC, finds a guerrilla
group that remains deadly, but on the run and badly hurt by the
Colombian military’s air superiority.

Kevin Casas-Zamora, “The Travails of Development and Democratic
Governance in Central America,” The Brookings Institution, June 2011.
While exploring Central America’s grave institutional, political and
security shortcomings, Casas determines that Central America has still
made important progress since the 1980s.

Max Chafkin, “A Constant Feeling of Crisis,” Inc., June 2011. Based on
interviews with some of the country’s wealthy entrepreneurs, the
author finds that despite its booming economy, Argentina is a
difficult place to do business.

Eduardo Guerrero Gutiérrez, “La raíz de la violencia,” Nexos (Mexico),
June 1, 2011. An exhaustive but clear look at violence trends in
Mexico. The author concludes that “Mexico now needs to focus its
efforts on reducing violence, even if this means directing less
resources to fighting international drug trafficking.”

Nik Steinberg, “The Monster and Monterrey: The Politics and Cartels of
Mexico’s Drug War,” The Nation, June 13, 2011. A Human Rights Watch
researcher looks at the rapidly deteriorating security situation in
Mexico’s principal industrial city.

“La telaraña de los ‘paras’ en Urabá,” Verdad Abierta (Colombia), June
14, 2011. The results of an investigation of how paramilitary groups
in northwestern Colombia became big landholders, allied themselves
with politicians, and even set up foundations that received
international aid — while simultaneously massacring and displacing
populations and trafficking drugs.

Daniel Wilkinson, “Death and Drugs in Colombia,” The New York Review
of Books, June 23, 2011. A Human Rights Watch researcher’s review of a
book by Claudia López offers one of the best overviews in English of
paramilitary power and Álvaro Uribe’s presidency in Colombia.

Damien Cave, “Better Lives for Mexicans Cut Allure of Going North,”
The New York Times, July 6, 2011. A look at demographic, economic and
security reasons why Mexican migration to the United States has
dropped sharply. I like the scrolling interactive feature in the left

“Para que los hechos no se repitan,” Truth and Reconciliation
Commission of Honduras, July 8, 2011. While finding fault on all
sides, the commission’s worthwhile report finds that an illegal
military coup did take place on June 28, 2009, and that an alarming
number of human rights abuses have followed.

Richard Marosi, “Inside the Cartel,” The Los Angeles Times, July
24-28, 2011. A four-part look, based on DEA investigations, of how
Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel “moves drugs into Southern California and
across the United States.” (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4)

“Violence and Politics in Venezuela,” International Crisis Group,
August 17, 2011. The report raises concerns about what worsening
organized crime, proliferating small arms, deteriorating justice
institutions and a polarizing political climate bode for Venezuela’s

Vanda Felbab-Brown, “Calderón’s Caldron,” The Brookings Institution,
September 2011. Focusing on three zones, the author evaluates the
Mexican government’s frustrated attempts to deal with organized crime,
and suggests some strategic shifts.

María Teresa Ronderos, “La fiebre minera se apoderó de Colombia,”
Semana(Colombia), September 6, 2011. Mining companies have requested
22,000 exploration and exploitation titles, covering one-fifth of
Colombia’s territory. In eight years, the Álvaro Uribe government
granted 9,000 of them. (Though it’s not 2,500 words, see also this
June report on illegal mining in Madre de Dios, Peru, by Frank Bajak
of the Associated Press.)

“Keeping Haiti Safe: Police Reform,” International Crisis Group,
September 8, 2011. A diagnosis of Haiti’s National Police, which is
undergoing a slow, halting reform amid official calls to restore the
army that was abolished in the mid-1990s.

Xavier Albó, “El Alto in Flux,” Revista: Harvard Review of Latin
America, Fall 2011. A look at life and politics in the sprawling
majority-Aymara city that overlooks — and is now larger than — La Paz,

“A Culture of Cruelty: Abuse and Impunity in Short-Term U.S. Border
Patrol Custody,” No More Deaths, September 21, 2011. A disturbing
report based on interviews of thousands of migrants deported from the
Border Patrol’s Arizona sector (PDF).

“Neither Rights Nor Security,” Human Rights Watch, November 9, 2011.
An indictment of the Mexican government’s security policies, which
have so far brought few improvements in security or the rule of law. A
useful guide to Mexico’s security and justice institutions, which in
HRW’s view are not reforming quickly enough.

Alma Guillermoprieto, “In the New Gangland of El Salvador,” The New
York Review of Books, November 10, 2011. The veteran reporter tries to
explain the country’s vexing maras phenomenon.

Juanita León, “Santos les está dando a los militares lo que Uribe
nunca se atrevió a concederles,” La Silla Vacía (Colombia), November
16, 2011. Discussing several legislative initiatives that would make
it harder to hold the military accountable for human rights abuses,
León paints a portrait of troubled civil-military relations in
Colombia under President Juan Manuel Santos.

Gustavo Gorriti and Romina Mella, “Entrevista a ‘Artemio’ en el
Huallaga,” IDL Reporteros (Peru), December 6, 2011. Reporters
interview a founding member of Peru’s Shining Path insurgency, who
still leads a small guerrilla column deep in the jungle. “Artemio”
admits his faction’s defeat and says he is willing to negotiate a

Mattathias Schwartz, “A Massacre in Jamaica,” The New Yorker, December
12, 2011. A narrative of the U.S.-supported May 2010 offensive against
Kingston drug trafficker Christopher “Dudus” Coke, in which Jamaican
security forces killed and abused civilians.

Here are some 2011 long-form articles by organizations participating
in the Just the Facts project.

Adam Isacson,”Rio de Janeiro’s Pacification Program,” WOLA, Just the
Facts blog, January 5, 2011.
Adam Isacson, “Six months in, Colombia’s Santos faces a murky security
situation,” WOLA, Just the Facts blog, February 8, 2011.
Elizabeth Newhouse, “The United States Should Take Immediate Steps to
Improve Relations with Cuba,” CIP, February 14, 2011.
Tom Barry, “Securing Arizona: What Americans Can Learn From Their
Rogue State,” CIP, Boston Review, March-April 2011.
Abigail Poe and Adam Isacson, “Stabilization and Development: Lessons
of Colombia’s “Consolidation” Model,” CIP, April 2011.
“No Relief in Sight: Report from Caribbean Coast of Colombia,”
LAWGEF-Lutheran World Relief, May 2011 (PDF).
Coletta Youngers, “The Obama Administration’s drug control policy on
auto-pilot,” WOLA-International Drug Policy Consortium, May 6, 2011
Adam Isacson, “In troubled Tumaco, little progress,”
CIP-WOLA-MINGA-INDEPAZ, Just the Facts blog, May 24, 2011.
Karelia Villa Mar, Adriana Beltrán, and Pablo González, “Mapeo de las
intervenciones de Seguridad Ciudadana en Centroamérica financiadas por
la cooperación internacional,” WOLA-IDB, June 2011 (PDF).
“Tackling Urban Violence in Latin America: Reversing Exclusion through
Smart Policing and Social Investment,” WOLA, June 2011 (PDF).
Tom Barry, “Policy on the Edge: Failures of Border Security and New
Directions for Border Control,” CIP, June 1, 2011.
Elizabeth Newhouse, “Contending with Natural Disasters: Cubans and US
Gulf Coast Emergency Managers Continue Conversation,” CIP, June 1,
Merecedes B. Arce Rodríguez, “The Human Cost: Cubans and Cuban
Americans Talk about Their Lives and the Embargo,” LAWGEF-WOLA, June
7, 2011 (PDF).
Adam Isacson, “In La Macarena, a program on ‘autopilot’,”
CIP-WOLA-MINGA-INDEPAZ, Just the Facts blog, June 9, 2011.
Laura Carlsen, “Development and Migration,” CIP, CounterPunch, June 27, 2011.
Tom Barry, “Aiding Insecurity: Four Years of Mexico’s Drug War,” CIP,
TruthOut.org, July 16, 2011.
Gimena Sanchez, “Against All Odds: Experiences of IDP Self-Protection
Measures in Colombia,” WOLA, August 16, 2011 (PDF).
Tom Barry, “U.S. Drug War Turns to Transnational Combat,” CIP,
September 1, 2011.
Gimena Sanchez and Kelly Nicholls, “Buenaventura, Colombia: Where Free
Trade Meets Mass Graves,” WOLA-U.S. Office on Colombia, NACLA Report
on the Americas, September 7, 2011.
Tom Barry, “Border Security After 9/11: Ten Years of Waste, Immigrant
Crackdowns and New Drug Wars,” CIP, Truthout.org, September 11, 2011.
Adam Isacson, “Human Rights During the Juan Manuel Santos
Administration’s First Year in Office,” WOLA-U.S. Office on Colombia,
September 29, 2011 (PDF).
Adam Isacson, “Land restitution and the “Black Hand”: Sunday’s local
elections in Colombia,” Just the Facts blog, October 27, 2011.
“A Cautionary Tale: Plan Colombia’s Lessons for U.S. Policy Toward
Mexico and Beyond”, CIP-LAWGEF-WOLA, November 2011 (PDF) (PDF en
Maureen Meyer, “Elections in Nicaragua,” WOLA, November 1, 2011.
Adam Isacson, “A human rights counteroffensive in Colombia,” Just the
Facts blog, December 1, 2011.
Adam Isacson, “An Uneasy Coexistence: Security and Migration Along the
El Paso-Ciudad Juárez Border,” WOLA, December 20, 2011.

Posted by Joe Anybody at 8:30 AM
Tuesday, 3 January 2012
Posted on 03 January 2012 by Zari Sundiata "Afro- Venezuela" film strating -up
Mood:  chatty
Now Playing: Support POCO’s Afro-Venezuelan Film Project!
Topic: Venezuela Solidarity


 Posted on 03 January 2012 by Zari Sundiata


Support POCO’s Afro-Venezuelan Film Project!


Pan African and Venezuela flag1 Support POCOs Afro Venezuelan Film Project!

People of Color Organize! is sending a contingent of our editors to Venezuela to produce a film highlighting the history of Africans in Venezuela.

Click here to donate in support of this project.

At a time when the North Atlantic empires are on the decline, it is an exciting and hopeful time in Latin America!  Now, for the first time, millions of Venezuelans have access to education, job training, housing, land, clean water, and health care.

Africans in Venezuela, Indigenous peoples, and women are gaining power and rights, while a high-profile land reform campaign is sweeping the nation, giving poor farmers access to land and opportunities. However, despite their overwhelming contribution to the everyday life and culture of Venezuela, African communities in Venezuela continue to face racial and economic divisions that prevail from the days of colonization.

Racism against Africans in Venezuela continues to perpetuate historically rooted class divisions and contributes to a lack of political participation in decisions that mostly affect them. Despite a legacy of centuries of colonialism, Africans in Venezuela are conquering new political spaces in government institutions while communities organize themselves from the bottom up to make sure guarantees are met.

The film will highlight:

  • The history of slavery, racism, and economic inequality in Venezuela.
  • The 3-day San Juan Festival to celebrate African heritage in the coastal area of Curiepe, Barlovento.
  • Insiders view of government-sponsored health, education, and literacy programs aimed towards eradicating poverty in coastal communities.
  • Venezuelan hip-hop groups which are intersecting with social justice to create new voices of youth leadership in barrios in Caracas and elsewhere.
  • A comparison of conventional cacao plantations with organic agricultural cooperatives that are creating endogenous (“from within and below”) development in African communities in Venezuela.
  • Talks with government representatives about the economic, social, and political integration of Venezuela, the rest of Latin America, and countries of the African continent.

Click here to contribute to this project.

Your contributions to this endeavor will provide the necessary equipment to produce a high quality, grass-roots documentary that will be available to the people for free.  These items include:

  • Camera and equipment
  • Video editing software
  • Travel and lodging expenses
  • Donor premiums

The following is a list of reward levels for our contributors:

  • $10:  ex-producer credit and DVD copy with bonus features
  • $25:  ex-producer credit, access to daily journal (blog), autographed script (from all of us of course), and DVD copy with bonus features
  • $50:  ex-producer credit, access to daily journal (blog), autographed script (from all of us course), DVD copy with bonus features, and Special Gift from Venezuela.

Contributions will be accepted through May 31, 2012.

This documentary will destroy the popular myths that revolution is not possible.  It will proffer real self-determination and democracy aided by the government, not dominated by the government. The struggles of Africans in Venezuela and their resistance links African and oppressed people all over the world.  It provides a clear example of how elevating all segments of society can be the harbinger of a more just world.

This is YOUR movie and YOUR project, so let’s make it happen.

Donate now.

Similar Posts:

Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:01 AM
Sunday, 29 May 2011
Videos I have relating to South America
Mood:  chatty
Now Playing: Joe Anybodyy - Videos - Caracas Venezuela - Solidarity -PCASC
Topic: Venezuela Solidarity

I have a PCASC - Latin America Solidarity VIDEO PAGE


"All these videos I have filmed, and all these videos relate to Venezuela or South America."

 In Soidarity with peace & media efforts for social justice.

There are hundreds of video if you look through all the links I have posted (Over 5o are from my trip to Caracas in 2009) ~joe


Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:14 PM
2 PCASC Activists head to Caracas Venezuela May 29 2011
Mood:  bright
Now Playing: USA activist head to Caracas - speaking against the US sanctions
Topic: Venezuela Solidarity

Two of my fellow Central America Solidarity co-activists from Portland [PCASC] are flying to Caracas as I write this on Sunday.

They are to be on the stage in Caracas by the palace, for a big demonstration against the US sanctions being imposed, due to Venezuela providing oil to Iran against the US telling them not to.


(Question: Ha?! were do we get off telling other countries what to do?) (Answerer: - "we don't and in this case Hugo laughs in our face")


They flew out w/ a days notice w/ an interpreter, as US delegates, to speak about this serious ugly stuff, they will be back in a few days.


Chavez uses the countries oil and the money to help social causes and the imperialist / capitalist cant stand it.


More than 250,000 US citizens in 25 states have benefited to date from the Venezuelan government’s subsidized heating oil program.
That not only means free heating oil to poor US families, but he taxes and then directs oil profits to his own country and the peoples programs.

Hugo Chavez has used Venezuela's oil wealth to invest heavily in improving the wellbeing of its people.

Currently, more than 60% of oil industry profits are directed toward social programs in Venezuela, including free healthcare, education, job training, community media, grassroots organizations and subsidized food and housing.


None of this will be mentioned in US mainstream press. Not on CNN, ABC, KGW, FOUX, or any of the corporate stations that are parroting for the US war machine.


Just for the heck of it here is the link to Eva Golinger who spoke in Portland a few weeks a go, our PCASC group brought her to the US to share her wealth of information.

I find her information regarding US intervention to be really fascinating to listen to.

http://www.archive.org/details/EvaGolinger-May62011-InPortlandOregon (114 min video)



A few years ago our PCASC group sponsored the ambassador to Venezuela from the consulate in SF to speak in Portland.

I recorded that talk and have it here for extra information on Venezuela if anyone is curious.

http://www.archive.org/details/VenezuelaConsulateMartinSanchez5.31.09Pdx (119 min video)


If anyone gets a chance to see "South of the Border" by Oliver Stone, its a pretty good new "hollywood" movie recently released on Hugo and the USA, exposing that whole "Chavez is a dictator thing" http://youtu.be/KHQrqDcecXw (3 min video I made in Caracas)

Posted by Joe Anybody at 10:03 AM

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