Global Voices Censored

An antidote to Global Voices Online

GLOBAL VOICES – Hello, what’s happening in Cuba and Venezuela?

Global Voices Online has not posted anything about Cuba for two weeks and it has been about 10 days since it published a post about Venezuela. Since GVO tends to use only three or four blogs to educate us about Cuba and Venezuela and these blogs are on the far right, I’m relieved when GVO has a drought.

Here at Global Voices Censored, we have plenty on Cuba, Venezuela and more. Go to the tag cloud to the right side of this blog and select a topic of interest. If you would like more in-depth analysis of current issues associated with Cuba, Venezuela, and Haiti, please go to:


February 3, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Cuba, Haiti, Imperialism, Latin America, US, Venezuela | | Leave a comment

LATIN AMERICA: US Policies Doomed to Fail – Book Review

“Left political alternatives,” writes Regalado, “will have to include the struggle for revolution.” And “the use of some type of revolutionary violence will be inevitable, because those holding power in the world will cling to it to the very end.”

U.S. policies doomed to fail in Latin America
By John Catalinotto
Published Jun 12, 2007 11:01 PM

Latin America at the Crossroads—Domination, Crisis, Popular Movements & Political Alternatives, by Roberto Regalado Álvarez, 2007, Ocean Press, 263 pages, available from

The Cuban Marxist economist Roberto Regalado, in the preface to the English edition of his book, takes note of the “challenge to write a book that deals with current-day events.” The December 2005 election of Evo Morales as president of Bolivia had forced him to revise the last two chapters before publication.

It is likely Regalado would now like the chance for another revision. Since he wrote those lines the Ecuadorans have elected leftist Rafael Correa president, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega won the presidential election in Nicaragua and Hugo Chávez was re-elected by a landslide in revolutionary Venezuela. These new developments, however, only serve to establish Regalado’s main points:
• U.S. imperialism needs to exploit Latin America’s resources and labor even more mercilessly than it did in the period up to the late 1970s. It does this by imposing the policies of “neoliberalism”—essentially, using the state power to aid the banks and transnational corporations to concentrate capital while never using the state to aid poor and oppressed groups or individuals. Washington has tried to do this with minimum intervention, but this has turned out to be impossible; the U.S. is again intervening, subverting and threatening military intervention.
• Washington and the South American oligarchy have allowed the electoral arena to be open to more popular candidates with the plan of gaining a consensus of support for the system. The role of these parties is supposed to be to alternate with the right wing in administering the same neoliberal program. This has led to victories of left-leaning candidates and parties, which are unable to offer significant concessions to the workers and poor within the confines of the existing system.
• These changes, with a big impulse from the 1991 Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico, are nourishing a debate in the Latin American left. The potential for a struggle for a socialist alternative is gaining credibility, even if such a struggle is not on the order of the day; Colombia is the only country where an armed struggle is under way. This socialist alternative offers the only solution to the crisis of contemporary capitalism.

Regalado is currently the section chief in the Department of International Relations of the Cuban Communist Party. A former diplomat in the U.S. and Nicaragua, he has researched and written on Latin American politics since the 1970s. He also appears to be well acquainted with U.S. politics and even with developments in the U.S. progressive movement.

The book is effective on a few different levels. It summarizes the recent economic development of the worldwide imperialist system and especially in Latin America. It goes over Latin American history and reviews in detail the change in the type of imperialist domination and exploitation from the earlier part of the 20th century to the period since the mid-1970s.

It reviews the political struggles within the Latin American left—the social movements, social-democratic parties and the broad electoral fronts that have led to the elections of “left” candidates or parties in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia and Venezuela. The next edition will undoubtedly include Ecuador and Nicaragua.

Regalado also makes a devastating critique of the role of European social democracy and the parties of the Second International, especially those that, like British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour Party, welcomed their new role as administering social cutbacks. In the immediate post-World-War-II period, these parties ran ‘’welfare states” to counter the challenge from the socialist camp, and claimed they would change capitalism. But, Regalado notes:

“It was not social democracy that reformed capitalism, but capitalism that reformed social democracy. This was clear, since by the end of the 1970s, social democracy was participating in dismantling the welfare state and functioning as the spearhead of European imperialism in the South.”

The author discusses the conflicts between socialist Cuba and the U.S., and briefly discusses the Caribbean, but focuses on Latin America. It would be interesting to see what he would write about the U.S. war on Iraq and the impact of the Iraqi resistance on Washington’s ability to intervene in South America, if that were within the scope of the book.

The dilemma the U.S. faces is that the neoliberal scenario continually narrows popular support for the system and its institutions. It wipes out the middle class and impoverishes workers. Thus imperialism is finding it necessary to intervene more directly, as in Haiti and Venezuela, in the Mexican election, etc. While at present the conditions don’t exist for a struggle for socialism, the continued deterioration of living conditions and the threat to humanity from the crisis of capitalism will soon raise this question anew.

“Left political alternatives,” writes Regalado, “will have to include the struggle for revolution.” And “the use of some type of revolutionary violence will be inevitable, because those holding power in the world will cling to it to the very end.”

This conclusion, while not new in classical Marxist literature, bears repetition in this post-Soviet period. To understand how Regalado comes to it, it’s best to read his book.

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February 3, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, EU, Haiti, Imperialism, Latin America, Mexico, Nicaragua, US, Venezuela | , , , , | Leave a comment

CUBA: Fidel Answers Bush on State of Union – “The Antithesis of Ethics”


On the day when hundreds of intellectuals coming from every continent are
meeting in Havana to take part in an International Conference for World
Equilibrium on the date of José Marti’s birth, on that same day, by some
strange quirk, the President of the United States spoke. In his last State
of the Union address to Congress, making use of the teleprompter, Bush tells
us more with his body language than with the words arranged by his advisors.

If to the three speeches that I mentioned in my words to the delegates at
the Meeting of January 29, 2003 we added the one he gave yesterday on the
28th, translated into Spanish by CNN -accompanied by the raising of eyebrows
and odd gestures- recorded and immediately transcribed by qualified staff,
this one is the worst of them all on account of its demagoguery, lies and
total absence of ethics. I am speaking of the words that he probably added,
of the tone he used and which I personally observed; that is the material I
worked with.

“America is leading the fight against global poverty, with strong education
initiatives and humanitarian assistance (…) This program strengthens
democracy, transparency and the rule of law in developing nations, and I ask
the members of this Congress to fully fund this important program.”

“America is leading the fight against global hunger. Today, more than half
the world’s food aid comes from the United States. Tonight, I ask Congress
to support an innovative proposal to provide food assistance by purchasing
crops directly from farmers in the developing world, so we can build up
local agriculture and help break the cycle of famine.”

At the beginning of this paragraph he is referring to the old commitments
taken on by the United States in the past with FAO and other international
agencies, one drop of water in the sea of the agonizing present needs of

“America is leading the fight against disease. With your help, we’re
working to cut in half the number of malaria-related deaths in 15 African
nations. And our Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is treating 1.4 million
people. We can bring healing (…) to many more (…) And I call on you (…)
to approve an additional $30 billion over the next five years.”

“America is a force for hope in the world because we are a compassionate
people (…)”

“Over the past seven years, we’ve increased funding for veterans by more
than 95 percent (…) And as increase funding we must also reform our
veterans system to meet the needs of a new war (…) so we can improve the
system of care for our wounded warriors.”

“So I ask you to join me in (…) creating new hiring preferences for military
spouses (…)”

“By trusting the people, succeeding generations transformed our fragile
young democracy into the most powerful nation on Earth (…) our liberty will
be secure and the state of our Union will remain strong.”

He states all this calmly, but from the beginning of his speech, where he
avoids all the thorny problems, he goes along brick by brick laying the
foundations of that false liberty and prosperity, without even the slightest
mention of the American soldiers who have died or been wounded in the war.

He had begun the speech by pointing out that “most Americans think their
taxes are high enough (…)”. He threatens Congress: “(…) [you] should know
(…) if any bill raising taxes reaches my desk, I will veto it.”

“Next week I’ll send you a budget that terminates or substantially reduces
151 wasteful or bloated programs, totaling more than $18 billion. The
budget that I will submit will keep America on track for a surplus in 2012.”

Either he made a mistake with the figure, or the collecting of $18 billion
means nothing to a budget that totals 2.8 trillions.

The most important thing is to distinguish between the deficit of the State
budget which totaled 163 billion, and the deficit of the current account of
the balance of payments that totaled 811 billion in 2006, and the public
debt is calculated at 9.1 million millions. His military spending totals
more than 60 percent of the total invested in the world for that reason.
Today, on the 29th, one ounce of gold broke a record at 933 dollars. This
mess results from the unrestricted issuing of dollars in a country whose
population spends more than it saves and in a world where the purchasing
power of United States currency has been extraordinarily reduced.

The formula his government usually employs is to express confidence and
assurance in the economy, lowering the bank interest rates, throwing more
bills into circulation, worsening the problem and postponing the

What does the price of sugar mean today, as it stands now at 12.27 cents a
pound? Scores of poor countries dedicate themselves to its production and
export. I mention this example just to illustrate that Bush deliberately
entangles and mixes everything up.

The President of the United States carries on like this in his Olympian
stroll through the problems of a planet lying at his feet.

“Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,
modernize the Federal Housing Administration, and allow state housing
agencies to issue tax-free bonds to help homeowners refinance their
mortgages (…)”

“We share a common goal: making health care more (…) accessible for all
Americans (…). The best way to achieve that goal is by expanding consumer
choice, not government control (…)”

“(…) we must trust students to learn if given the chance, and empower
parents to demand results from our schools.”

“African-American and Hispanic students posted all-time highs (…) Now we
must work together to increase accountability, add flexibility for states
and districts and reduce the number of high-school dropouts (…)”

“Thanks to the (…) Scholarships you approved, more than 2,600 of the poorest
children in our Nation’s Capital have found new hope at a faith-based or
other non-public school. Sadly, these schools are disappearing at an
alarming rate in many of America’s inner cities (…). And to open the doors
of these schools to more children, I ask you to support a new $300 million
program (…)”

“Today, our economic growth increasingly depends on our ability to sell
American goods and crops and services all over the world. So we’re working
to break down barriers to trade and investment wherever we can. We’re
working for a successful Doha Round of trade talks, and we must complete a
good agreement this year.”

“I thank the Congress for approving the (…) agreement with Peru. And now I
ask you to approve agreements with Colombia and Panama and South Korea.”

“Many products from these nations now enter America duty-free, yet many of
our products face steep tariffs in their markets. These agreements will
level the playing field. They will give us better access to nearly 100
million customers. They will support good jobs for the finest workers in
the world: those whose products say ‘Made in the USA’.”

“These agreements also promote America’s strategic interests.”

“Our security, our prosperity, and our environment all require reducing our
dependence on oil (…) generate coal power (…)
“Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help
(…) to slow (…) and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases.

“To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of
our scientists and engineers and empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of
tomorrow (…) So I ask Congress for (…) federal support (…) and ensure
America remains the most dynamic nation on Earth (…)”

Always appealing to chauvinism, he continues his flight of fancy to other

“Tonight…America honors (…) the resilience of the people of this region
[the Gulf Coast]. We reaffirm our pledge to help them build stronger and
better than before. And tonight I’m pleased to announce that (…) we will
host (…) the North American Summit of Canada, Mexico and the United States
in the great city of New Orleans (…)”

“The other pressing challenge is immigration. America needs to secure our
borders -and with your help, my administration is taking steps to do so.
We’re increasing worksite enforcement, deploying fences and advanced
technologies to stop illegal crossings (…) and (…) this year, we will have
doubled the number of border patrol agents.” This is one of the sources of
well-paid jobs that Bush has in mind.

He does not wish to remember that Mexico was robbed of more than 50 percent
of its territory in a war of conquest, and he would like nobody to recall
that on the Berlin Wall, during its almost 30 years of existence, less
people died trying to gain access to the “Free World” than Latin Americans
are dying today –no less than 500 each year–trying to cross the border in
search of employment, with no Adjustment Act to grant them privileges and
motivation as it does for Cuban citizens. The numbers of illegal immigrants
arrested and traumatically deported every year totals in the hundreds of

Straightaway, the speech leaps to the Middle East from which he has just
returned after a “Veni, vidi, vici” diplomatic junket.

After mentioning Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, he states: “And
that is why, for the security of America and the peace of the world, we are
spreading the hope of freedom (…) In Afghanistan, America, our (…) NATO
allies and 15 partner nations are helping the Afghan people defend their
freedom and rebuild their country.”

He makes no mention whatsoever that this was exactly what the USSR tried to
do when it occupied the country with its powerful armed forces that ended up
defeated in the clash with that country’s different customs, religion and
culture, independent of the fact that the Soviets had not gone there to
conquer raw materials for their great capital and that a socialist
organization that never did any harm to the United States attempted to
change the course of the nation in a revolutionary manner.

Right away Bush leaps to Iraq which had nothing to do with the attacks on
September 11, 2001, and which was invaded because that was what Bush,
President of the United States, and his closest collaborators decided to do,
with nobody in the world harboring any doubt that the aim was to occupy the
oilfields; this action cost that people hundreds of thousands of dead and
millions of people uprooted from their homes, or forced into emigration.

“The Iraqi people quickly realized that something dramatic had happened.
Those who had worried that America was preparing to abandon them instead saw
tens of thousands of American forces flowing into their country. They saw
our forces moving into neighborhoods, clearing out the terrorists, and
staying behind to ensure the enemy did not return (…) Our military and
civilians in Iraq are performing with courage and distinction, and they have
the gratitude of our whole nation (…)”

“A year later (…) we’ve captured or killed thousands of extremists in Iraq
(…) Our enemies in Iraq have been hit hard. They are not yet defeated, and
we can still expect tough fighting ahead.”

“Our objective in the coming year is to sustain and build on the gains we
made in 2007, while transitioning to the next phase of our strategy.
American troops are shifting from leading operations, to partnering with
Iraqi forces, and, eventually, to a protective overwatch mission (…)”

“(…) this means more than 20,000 of our troops are coming home.”

“Any further drawdown of U.S. troops will be based on conditions in Iraq and
the recommendations of our commanders.”

“Progress in the provinces must be matched by progress in Baghdad.”

“(…) still have a distance to travel. But after decades of dictatorship and
the pain of sectarian violence, reconciliation is taking place -and the
Iraqi people are taking control of their future.”

“The mission in Iraq has been difficult (…). But it is in the vital interest
of the United States that we succeed.”

“We’re also standing against the forces of extremism in the Holy Land (…)
Palestinians have elected a President who recognizes that confronting terror
is essential to achieving a state where his people can live in dignity and
at peace with Israel.”

Bush says not one word about the millions of Palestinians stripped of their
lands or driven away from them, victims of an apartheid system.

Bush’s formula is well-known: 50 billion dollars in weapons for the Arabs,
from the industrial-military complex, and 60 billion for Israel in ten
years. We are talking of dollars that maintain a real value. Someone pays
for it: the hundreds of millions of workers producing cheap goods with their
hands and being paid a minimum salary, and hundreds of millions more who are

But the speech does not end here: “Iran is funding and training militia
groups in Iraq, supporting Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, and backing
Hamas’ efforts to undermine peace in the Holy Land. Teheran is also
developing ballistic missiles of increasing range, and continues to develop
its capability to enrich uranium, which could be used to create a nuclear

“Our message to the leaders of Iran is also clear: Verifiably suspend your
nuclear enrichment, so negotiations can begin.”

“America will confront those who threaten our troops. We will stand by our
allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the (…) Gulf.”

We are not talking about the Gulf of Mexico, but the Persian Gulf, in waters
that are only 12 miles away from Iran.

There is a historical fact here: in the days of the Shah, Iran was the best
armed power in the region. When the Revolution triumphed in that country,
led by the Ayatollah Khomeini, the United States encouraged Iraq and
provided support for the invasion. That was the beginning of a conflict
which cost hundreds of billions and untold numbers of dead and maimed, and
today is being justified as part of the cold war.

Really, we don’t need other media to inform us about the speech made by the
President of the United States; all we need to do is to let Bush speak for
himself. For people who know how to read and write, people who think,
no-one can make a more eloquent criticism of the empire than Bush himself.
I’m responding to him on behalf of the country in question.

I have worked hard.

I hope that I have been impartial.

Fidel Castro Ruz
January 29, 2008.
Time: 7:35 p.m.

January 30, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Cuba, Imperialism, Palestine, US | , , | Leave a comment

CUBA: Fidel’s 2003 Speech on Jose Marti

“The day on which he fell, May 19, 1895, Martí was sacrificing his own life
for the right to life of all the inhabitants of the planet.

In his now famous unfinished letter to his close friend Manuel Mercado,
which Martí interrupted to march off to an unexpected battle, a battle that
no one could keep him from, Martí left recorded for history his innermost
thoughts. And although they are so often repeated and thus so well known, I
will nevertheless repeat them once again: “I am in daily danger of giving my
life for my country and duty, for I understand that duty and have the
courage to carry it out – the duty of preventing the United States from
spreading through the Antilles as Cuba gains its independence, and from
overpowering with that additional strength our lands of America. All I have
done so far, and all I will do, is for this purpose.”
Read the full speech

January 29, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Cuba, Imperialism, Latin America, US | , | Leave a comment

UN “Peacekeepers” Accused of Human Rights Violations in Haiti

Excerpt from article:

“Another violent military operation occurred in July 2005, when an estimated 22,000 bullet holes were found after an operation by MINUSTAH in Cite Soleil. Reports by HIP cited accounts by residents that the wounded and dead were found inside their own homes. These accounts charge that soldiers shot at people indiscriminately, which had devastating effects in a neighborhood where housing conditions are extremely precarious.”

My Comment: The author, Maria Luisa Mendonca, is a human rights representative from Brazil which is especially important because the UN mission in Haiti is led by Brazil. Further, in the July 2005 attack described above, between 300-400 UN soldiers participated and included numerous armored personnel carriers and helicopters. The July 6 attack was indeed a massacre. If interested in reading more about this attack, please see an article I wrote about it entitled, “July 6, 2005: Haiti, The Gaza Strip of the Caribbean.”

Americas Program Commentary

UN Troops Accused of Human Rights Violations in Haiti

Maria Luisa Mendonça | January 21, 2008

Americas Program, Center for International Policy (CIP)

The UN Security Council decided in October 2007 to extend the mandate of the MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) through Oct. 15, 2008. The Brazilian Government is responsible for coordinating the MINUSTAH forces that include approximately 9,000 troops. Yet there is very little discussion in Brazil about the country’s role in the occupation of Haiti, and especially, about the accusations leveled against the UN troops for their participation in human rights violations.

One of the cases documented by Haitian human rights organizations was that of the massacre that took place on Dec. 22, 2006 in the Cite Soleil area of Port-au-Prince, following a protest by some 10,000 people who demanded the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the withdrawal of foreign military forces. According to reports by local residents and video footage recorded by the Haiti Information Project, the UN forces attacked the community and killed about 30 people, including women and children.

In response to the criticism by human rights organizations that denounced those killings, MINUSTAH justified its actions by claiming that it was combating gangs in Cite Soleil. However, the images shot by Haiti Information Project show that UN troops shot unarmed civilians from helicopters. Inter Press Service, which covered the conditions in the area immediately following the attack, reported finding high-caliber bullet holes in many homes. HIP director Kevin Pina accused MINUSTAH of participating together with the Haitian National Police in summary executions and arbitrary arrests. He concluded, “In this context, it is hard to continue seeing the UN mission as an independent and neutral force in the country.”

Camille Chalmers, a Haiti University professor and member of the Haitian Platform for Social Movement Integration, explained in an interview with journalist Claudia Korol of the Adital Agency: “MINUSTAH tried to build legitimacy by saying that it is fighting criminals. But many people realize that the only things that can truly reduce the lack of safety are public policies and social services. Unfortunately, what we have is a violent military apparatus.”

Another violent military operation occurred in July 2005, when an estimated 22,000 bullet holes were found after an operation by MINUSTAH in Cite Soleil. Reports by HIP cited accounts by residents that the wounded and dead were found inside their own homes. These accounts charge that soldiers shot at people indiscriminately, which had devastating effects in a neighborhood where housing conditions are extremely precarious.

These accounts also charged that MINUSTAH did not allow the Red Cross to enter the area—a violation of the Geneva Convention. U.S. Government confidential documents, obtained by human rights organizations through the Freedom of Information Act, show that the American Embassy knew that the UN troops planned an attack on Cite Soleil. Local community organizations believe that the goal of the military was to prevent a demonstration commemorating ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s birthday, which was on July 15.

A report by Project Censored estimates that more than 1,000 members of Lavalas, a loose organization that groups supporters of Aristide, were arrested and about 8,000 people killed during the “interim government” that ran the country from 2004 to 2006, following the coup against Aristide on Feb. 29, 2004.

Camille Chalmers characterizes this action as an “intervention led by the governments of the United States and France.” He further explains that “solidarity with the people of Haiti means helping to rebuild the country and find answers to the most pressing social problems, and the military presence does not help. The goals of security and human rights have not been met. On the contrary, we believe that the presence of MINUSTAH constitutes a violation of the Haitian people’s right to self determination.”

On Feb. 2, 2007 UN troops conducted another operation in Cite Soleil that resulted in the deaths of two young women who were sleeping in their homes. On Feb. 7, various demonstrations took place in the country, and on Feb. 9 there was another military attack, which was denounced by local organizations such as the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

On Oct. 30, 2007, the kidnapping of Dr. Maryse Narcisse, who is a member of the national leadership of Lavalas and worked with health and education social programs in Haiti, was made public. Another member of Lavalas, the psychologist and human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, disappeared on Aug. 12. Local organizations accuse the UN troops of generating public instability and attacking those who defend democracy and human rights.

The Brazilian Bar Association (Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil, OAB) led an observation mission to Haiti in late June 2007 and concluded that MINUSTAH plays a “violent” and “repressive” role that cannot be characterized as a “humanitarian action.” Anderson Bussinger Carvalho, the lawyer responsible for the report, called for the withdrawal of Brazilian troops from Haiti. “I have concluded that the presence of Brazilian troops is not humanitarian. It is a strictly military mission. Haiti has a history of military occupations and Brazil ends up playing a role in this history,” said Carvalho in an interview with the newspaper A Folha de São Paulo (Sept. 4, 2007).

The role played by Latin American countries in Haiti today is similar to the one played by the multilateral forces that stayed in the Dominican Republic following the invasion by the United States in 1965. The Dominican Republic suffered under a long military dictatorship that lasted until 1961 when longtime dictator Rafael Trujillo died.

In 1962 Juan Bosch was elected president but was deposed by a military coup after seven months in power. In April 1965, a series of widespread demonstrations demanded the return of ex-president Juan Bosch. It was during that time that U.S. President Lyndon Johnson ordered a military invasion of the Dominican Republic by 20,000 marines. A few weeks after the invasion, the Organization of American States sent in the Inter-American Peace Force of 1,129 soldiers. During that period, while Brazil was under a military dictatorship, the role of Brazilian troops in the Dominican Republic was similar to the one they play in Haiti today.

According to the North American writer Norman Solomon, writing in his book War Made Easy: “In retrospect, the 1965 invasion of the Dominican Republic foreshadowed a series of U.S. military actions in the Western hemisphere and beyond. Covert intervention by the CIA in Latin America was as constant as the seasons, the overwhelming arrival of so many U.S. troops in the small country was a kind of political and media prototype for a pair of lightning strike invasions in the 1980s—Grenada and Panama—as well as, in more complicated ways, the relatively limited military interventions in Haiti during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. In each case, the man living in the White House found ways to set the media agenda for public approval to affirm the kind of desire expressed by Lyndon Johnson to Assistant Secretary of State Mann: ‘We’re going to have to really set up that government down there and run it and stabilize it some way or other.'”

The experience of Brazilian troops in Haiti was described by soldier Tailon Ruppenthal in his book A Brazilian Soldier in Haiti (Globo Publishing). He was 20 years old in 2004 when he took part in the UN mission for six months. “Even today, more than two years since I got back to Brazil and left the Army, I can’t forget what I saw there. Once when I was on foot patrol, I saw something far away that looked like a pig that that had been completely burnt. As I got closer, I started to shake and almost lost control before a horrifying sight: it wasn’t a pig, but a child around three years old,” recounts Ruppenthal in his book.

“A soldier must have courage above all. But the collective depression starts to spread, and after a few months even getting out of bed is hard. You remember that you will cross paths with all those people who are starving but there’s nothing you can do,” writes Ruppental.

In another part of the book Ruppenthal describes what happened during a visit from then UN Secretary Koffi Annan: “The shooting was petrifying. There were bullets flying everywhere. You couldn’t tell from where in the slum the bullets were coming and so the soldiers started to shoot blindly, setting off the biggest barrage of bullets that I experienced in the peace mission. The whole situation was out of control, and within one or two minutes bullets were flying from every direction.”

When Ruppenthal returned to Brazil his behavior changed. “I was very aggressive and started to drink a lot. My mom noticed how much I had changed, and we found a doctor who diagnosed post-traumatic syndrome. I would need to receive psychological help. We approached the Army, but they refused to help me, claiming that they examined me upon my return and found nothing wrong with me.” And he sums up, “And I just would like to remind everyone that we are losing the real war: against poverty … Only the fight against poverty will bring peace. When will they see that?”

Unfortunately, Ruppenthal’s opinion and the many criticisms of the negative role the UN troops play in Haiti are not taken into account by the Brazilian government. The Brazilian government’s policy in relation to Haiti serves to legitimize a coup d’etat and strengthen U.S. interests in the region.

Maria Luisa Mendonça is a journalist and coordinates the Network on Social Justice and Human Rights in Brazil.

January 22, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Canada, France, Haiti, Imperialism, NED, United Nations, US, USAID | , , | Leave a comment


January 15, 2008

This position paper was prepared by NCBL members Mark P. Fancher (principal drafter), Jeffrey L. Edison and Ajamu Sankofa. Information about NCBL can be found at

What NCBL has concluded about Africom

The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) concludes that the mission of Africa Command (Africom) infringes on the sovereignty of African states due to the particularity of Africa’s history and Africa’s current economic and political relationship to the United States.

Further, Africom is designed to violate international law standards that protect rights to self-determination
and that prohibit unprovoked military aggression.

Africom is also likely to become a device for the foreign domination and exploitation of Africa’s natural resources to the detriment of people who are indigenous to the African continent.

NCBL opposes Africom in the strongest terms and calls upon people of African descent in the U.S. to avoid military service to ensure that they will not be ordered to carry out missions on behalf of Africom, or any military unit or program engaged in violating international law, committing crimes against humanity, or committing crimes of any kind that threaten the peace of any continent.

What Is Africom?

Africom is a project that will substantially change the nature of the U.S. military presence in Africa by establishing a single U.S. military command headquarters that will have Africa as its sole focus.

Africom has become a Rorschach Test because while the U.S. government sees it as a vehicle for bringing peace and prosperity to the continent, it is seen by others as Africa’s greatest new threat.

Because of vague, confusing official statements, it has been difficult to ascertain precisely what the U.S. government claims that Africom will actually do. Africom’s website describes the project as a vehicle for the Defense Department to collaborate with “partners to achieve a more stable environment in which political and economic growth can take place.”

That description raises more questions than it answers. The following official statement sheds little additional light: “Africa is growing in military, strategic and economic importance in global affairs.

However, many nations on the African continent continue to rely on the international community for assistance with security concerns. From the U.S. perspective, it makes strategic sense to help build the capability for African partners, and organizations such as the Africa Standby Force, to take the lead in establishing a secure environment. This security will, in turn, set the groundwork for increased political stability and economic growth.”

Some critics are highly suspicious of the reference to “economic growth.” Specifically, does that refer in real terms to the economic health of Africa’s poor, or instead to expansion of opportunities for multinational corporations to exploit Africa’s natural and human resources as they have for decades?

It has been suggested that the Bush Administration actually has three primary items on its agenda:
1) making Africa another front in the Administration’s war on “terrorism”;
2) protecting U.S. access to African oil, mineral wealth and other raw materials; and
3) putting the U.S. in a better position to compete with China for domination of Africa’s resources.

It is further suggested that the Bush Administration has no interest in accomplishing any of these objectives directly, and that Africom’s purpose is to identify and nurture the development of African governments that will function as U.S. surrogates. In this regard, Africom is off to a very bad start.

As of the date of this writing, the Africom concept has been received with everything from skepticism to hostility by significant African governments, and NCBL is aware of only Liberia as having expressed a clear willingness to provide a location for Africom headquarters.

TransAfrica Forum spokespersons have astutely suggested that Africa’s cool reaction to Africom may well reflect shared memories and opinions that: “[d]uring the cold war, African nations were used as pawns in post-colonial proxy wars, an experience that had a devastating impact on African democracy, peace and development.

In the past Washington has aided reactionary African factions that have carried out atrocities against civilians. An increased U.S. military presence in Africa will likely follow this pattern of extracting resources while aiding factions in some of their bloodiest conflicts, thus further
destabilizing the region.”

Why NCBL is concerned

If there is any principle that runs like a thread through all of the work of the National Conference of Black Lawyers, it is that protecting the human right of self-determination for all people must be given the highest priority.

NCBL also recognizes that crimes against peace are among the most serious of all international criminal law violations. NCBL’s principles have motivated the organization to consistently oppose military intervention into the sovereign territories and internal affairs of other countries.

NCBL has opposed military operations against the Palestinians, instituted litigation against the Reagan administration in the aftermath of the invasion of Grenada, and also provided a consistent voice in opposition to the efforts by several administrations to destabilize Cuba through covert and military means. NCBL has opposed threats of military intervention and the use of mercenary proxies in Nicaragua, Angola and elsewhere.

NCBL vigorously opposed the kidnapping of Jean Bertrand Aristide from Haiti, and has sounded an ongoing note of concern about the shrill threats made against the current government of Zimbabwe. Lastly, NCBL has opposed the war in Iraq, and regards it as a crime against peace. It is against this backdrop that NCBL has grave concerns about expansion of U.S. military operations in Africa.

The U.S. in Africa – The Historical Context

To say that the U.S. enters Africa with unclean hands understates the reality. The full extent of U.S. crimes against African governments and leaders during the past 40 years is likely yet unknown.

However, in 1978, former CIA agent John Stockwell provided for many their first peek into a deadly, ruthless U.S. foreign policy that destroyed what could have been a far more promising political and economic future for the continent.

In his book, In Search of Enemies, Stockwell explained that U.S. policy in Africa was driven heavily by cold war concerns. Socialist forces in Angola and Mozambique were prime targets, and the favored method of suppression was use of mercenaries. Stockwell wrote:

“Mercenaries seemed to be the answer, preferably Europeans with the requisite military skills and perhaps experience in Africa. As long as they were not Americans…” He went on to describe a collaboration between the CIA and South Africa’s apartheid regime in a campaign to crush emerging progressive Black leadership in Southern Africa.

The use of proxies and mercenaries to carry out U.S. objectives in Africa became a standard practice as a new class of socialist leaders emerged during the early years of African independence.

In his book, Stockwell referenced the CIA’s complicity with dissidents in Ghana who overthrew Kwame Nkrumah, the country’s first president. Congo’s first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, received special attention from the highest levels of the U.S. government after he announced plans to nationalize major industries in his country and to pursue a path of nonalignment in the then raging cold war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Author Ludo De Witte wrote: “On 18 August 1960, during [a] National Security Council meeting, [President Dwight] Eisenhower had made it clear, without explicitly saying so, that he favored Lumumba’s elimination. An assassination operation was planned with the support of CIA chief [Allen] Dulles.” Thereafter, the CIA concocted elaborate schemes to kill Lumumba by, among other things, putting poison in his toothpaste.

Ultimately, the CIA saw its objectives accomplished by henchmen of the agency’s stooge, Joseph Mobutu. After Lumumba was killed, Mobutu went on to become head of state in Congo, and his more than three decades of tyrannical reign was one of the bloodiest Africa has ever seen.

John Perkins, a former operative of the National Security Agency, has explained that the U.S. has routinely resorted to everything from bribery to cleverly-disguised assassinations in cases where heads of state have in some way threatened the profit-making potential of U.S.-based corporations.

This raises special concerns because the threat to Africa’s political and economic integrity comes not only from the U.S. government, but also from the multi-national corporations that are the beneficiaries of government policies.

In recent years, this is seen most dramatically in Congo. In 2005, Human Rights Watch issued a report that from 1998 to 2003, a war to control gold fields in northeast Congo resulted in the deaths of more than 60,000 persons along with “ethnic slaughter, executions, torture, rape and arbitrary arrest…”

The report goes on to attribute significant responsibility for this carnage to two foreign corporations that financed and fueled the conflict. They were Metalor Technologies, a Swiss refinery; and AngloGold Ashanti, a multinational corporation that, notwithstanding its name, is overwhelmingly directed and managed by non-Africans.

All of this raises critical questions of whether, with Africom, the U.S. is now positioning itself to become more directly involved – with or without proxies – in protecting corporate access to Africa’s resources. In many other parts of the world, the U.S. has engaged in “regime change” as a matter of course for more than a century as a method of protecting the interests of the corporate world.

What’s Really At Stake?

The list of Africa’s valuable mineral resources is endless: gold, diamonds, chromium, copper, etc. However, the continent’s vast oil reserves have attracted perhaps the most attention from the U.S. government. In 2002, Walter Kansteiner, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa, declared: “African oil is of strategic national interest to us and it will increase and become more important to us as we go forward.”

It is easy to understand why that perception exists.
Currently, the amount of oil imported by the U.S. from the Persian Gulf is about 16 percent of its total imports. By the year 2015, it is projected that 25 percent of U.S. oil imports will be from West Africa.

It is clear that, on this issue, the U.S. puts its money where its mouth is. There is a stark correlation between U.S. aid to African countries and the oil producing potential of recipient African states. To be more concrete, as the two largest oil producers on the continent, Nigeria and Angola receive the most U.S. aid.

More disturbing however (particularly for purposes of this discussion) is the level of U.S. military involvement in the protection of access to Africa’s oil. The U.S. spends about $250 million a year on military assistance programs in Africa.

This assistance is not only in the form of “peacekeeping training” but it also involves direct arms sales. As a major oil and natural gas supplier Algeria has been allowed to acquire large quantities of counter-insurgency weapons.

Why the U.S. concern with “security” for Africa’s oil? U.S. access is threatened for various reasons, but one that has been of great concern is guerrilla activity in the Niger Delta.

An organization calling itself the Movement to Emancipate the Niger Delta (MEND) has, in recent times, been accused of destroying oil pipelines, kidnapping oil company personnel, stealing oil and assorted other acts. MEND has complained of oil industry economic exploitation and environmental destruction. It was reported that during the last year, many oil fields were shut down because of the attacks, and oil production fell short by more than 340 million barrels.

All of this prompts NCBL to view with great suspicion U.S. military statements that imply that the security objectives of Africom will be focused on Al Qaeda or other organizations that fit popular contemporary notions of terrorism. It will be all too easy for Africom to target groups like MEND, or even other political formations in Africa that pose no direct threat to oil operations, but which in a broader sense threaten corporate hegemony in Africa.

NCBL has been quite clear about its interest in eliminating the domination of Africa’s natural resources by foreign corporations, and the idea that organizations that may engage in political work to bring about that objective might somehow become the targets of U.S. military operations is

The Legal Concerns

As an association of lawyers and legal activists, NCBL is particularly concerned about the potential Africom presents for routine and ongoing violations of international law.

With disturbing frequency, the U.S. has in recent decades launched unprovoked military attacks on other countries, or intervened in the internal affairs of other countries through the use of mercenaries or covert action designed to destabilize foreign governments or the economic, political or social order.

Notions of self-determination and sovereign integrity are closely intertwined, and international law has attempted to protect both by proscribing military aggression and other actions that constitute crimes against peace. In fact, the treaty that governs the International Criminal Court has designated aggression as one of “…the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole.”

Nevertheless, the International Criminal Court is currently unable to punish the international law crimes committed by the U.S. because the Bush Administration has steadfastly refused to submit to that court’s jurisdiction.

The absence of a method of prosecuting such crimes only heightens NCBL’s concerns about the likelihood that Africom will engage in criminal acts with impunity.

The United Nations Charter is one of the most authoritative sources of international law, and it explicitly acknowledges the sovereign equality of all countries and provides that aggression which threatens international peace and the territorial integrity and independence of sovereign states is prohibited.

So strong is this concern about respect for independence that the United Nations even prohibits itself from injecting the U.N. into the internal affairs of member states unless very specific circumstances are present.

However, even with those purported safeguards in the U.N. Charter, serious questions have been raised about the legality and usefulness of certain U.N. interventions over the years, providing additional reasons for the acute concerns about Africom, a far less restricted entity.

The U.S. claims that Africom is a response to African countries’ continuing requests for assistance with security. However, this is at best a distortion given the cold shoulder that Africom has been given by most African countries.

If assistance has been requested, there is apparently little interest in such assistance coming in the form of Africom. This means that if the U.S. goes forward with Africom, even without malicious intent, it will essentially become an unsolicited, unwelcome intrusion that threatens the ability of African states to exercise rights to self-determination.

It is more likely however that the ulterior motives of the U.S. that have been suggested by various commentators are the driving force behind Africom, and it will be difficult for that agenda to be carried out without military action, either by U.S. troops, or by surrogates.

This threat to the peace, independence and stability of Africa is inconsistent with both the letter and spirit of applicable provisions of the U.N. Charter, and NCBL is therefore compelled to oppose Africom on legal as well as policy grounds.

What is to be done?

While NCBL will continue to call upon all people of good will to voice their strongest opposition to Africom, there is also a practical realization that the Africom train has already traveled a good distance down the track and the chances of it being voluntarily recalled are somewhat remote.

It is with that fact in mind that NCBL assumes a posture comparable to that which it assumed with respect to the Iraq war. NCBL strongly encourages Black youth to decline any recruiters’ requests to enlist in the U.S. military. If Africom cannot be stopped at the outset, then certainly there is no reason for Africans born in America to participate in the destabilization and exploitation of a continent from whence their ancestors were kidnapped for purposes of enslavement.

The call for Black youth to boycott the military has been raised not only by NCBL, but also by countless unnamed ministers, educators, youth counselors and other leaders in the Black community. There is also evidence that these pleas have not fallen on deaf ears. Whereas, Blacks constituted approximately 25 percent of Army personnel until the year 2000, by 2004, less than 16 percent of the Army’s recruits were of African ancestry.

In a study conducted by the Army itself, the conclusion was reached that the continuing decline can be largely attributed to the unpopularity of the Iraq war among members of the Black community who are respected by the youths. This has had a significant impact on the military’s ability to maintain troop levels in Iraq.

Finally, for those persons of African descent who are potential recruits, or who are already members of the U.S. armed forces, NCBL pledges to make its best efforts to arrange for pro bono legal representation if they are threatened, disciplined or prosecuted for refusing Africom assignments, or for exercising their right to conscientiously object to military service.

———————————————————– afr
********* Related Web Sites ************

January 17, 2008 Posted by | Africa, AFRICOM, CIA, Guinea, Imperialism, Senegal, South Africa, US | , | Leave a comment

AFRICA/CUBA: Trade Unions Recognize Cuba’s Solidarity with Africa

Trade Unions Recognize Cuba’s Solidarity with Africa

Havana, Jan 15 (acn) The World Trade Union Federation and African workers’
leaders thanked Cuba for its support and solidarity with the peoples of
Africa in the areas of health, education and training of professionals
during the Second Presidential Council of this international organization
that concludes today in Khartoum, Sudan.

Participating in the event are the vice presidents of this world trade union
body as well as the top representatives of its secretariats in all

During his speech, Salvador Valdes Mesa, General Secretary of the Cuban
Workers’ Confederation (CTC), said that CTC members as well as the Cuban
people and Revolution have historic and many other reasons to continue
supporting the African people.

He also thanked African trade unions and governments for their support in
the Cuban struggle against the US economic blockade of the island and in
favor of the release of five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters who remain
unjustly imprisoned in the United States.

Participants in this meeting in Khartoum have discussed topics such as the
drawing up of common actions against neoliberal globalization. They have
also stressed that African peoples should not only have political
discussions but they should also fight for their rights in the fields of
health, education and other basic rights.

January 15, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Cuba | , | Leave a comment

OBAMA: Who Do You Represent and What Are You Not Saying?

A while back, I wrote a post on another blog of mine, Haiti-Cuba-Venezuela Analysis about Senator Obama’s “Cuba Policy.” It’s predictable reactionary fare. I was thinking about writing another post on this blog about who Obama is and what he does or does not represent. Thank goodness, I was saved this task by this week’s issue of The Black Commentator, an intelligent, highly analytical publication. Before you contemplate Obama a second longer, PLEASE read the following two articles. Kudos to the authors!



The Black Commentator is published weekly on Thursdays and always offers an insightful look at our world.

January 10, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Cuba, US | , , | Leave a comment

Pan-African Roots Establishes a Resourceful Blog for Activists


Pan-African Roots’ new blog, Blog, is a great new resource on the web that will be of invaluable assistance to progressive and revolutionary activists across the globe. Please see the announcement of the new blog by its co-directors, Bob Brown and Banbose Shango. Then, check out the blog yourself!

“We are sending you this email to wish you and your family a Happy New Year, and to introduce you to Blog, a new kid on the web. It is still under construction! Please excuse our rough edges. There is much, much, much more to come. Blog is a revolutionary, Pan-African and International network, an aggregator and distributor of commentary, news, information and features by and about progressive and revolutionary governments, movements, organizations, activities and events in every corner of Africa, the African Diaspora, and the World. It seeks to create strategic alliances and links with other progressive and revolutionary bloggers, websites and webportals worldwide, in order to expand it’s content and reach.
Check us out at If you like what you see, subscribe, link your blog, webpage or website to ours, and make a contribution via our secure, online donation page.
Pan-African Roots, the parent entity of Blog, is a 501c3 tax-exempt project of the Alliance for Global Justice.”
Stay Strong!
Bob Brown and Banbose Shango, co-directors

January 6, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Cuba, Guinea, Imperialism, Latin America, Palestine, Venezuela, Zimbabwe | | Leave a comment

VENEZUELA: Chavez Grants Amnesty for 2002 Coup Participants Plus Video and Interview with Fidel

If you are not familiar with the 2002 coup in Venezuela, it is a fascinating story. Below is the You Tube version of the definitive documentary about the coup, “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” in Spanish with English subtitles and about 75 minutes in length. In addition, check out an utterly incredible interview with Fidel Castro in which he reveals that, with the help of Chavez’ daughter, he negotiated President Chavez’ release from the prison he was kept in during the coup!

Further below is an article on the amnesty decree.

Venezuelan President’s Amnesty for Coup Participants is Praised and Criticised
January 3rd 2008, by Kiraz Janicke –
Coup president Pedro Carmona swears himself into office on April 12, 2002 (Archive)

Caracas, January 3, 2008, ( – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez granted amnesty on Monday to a number of opposition leaders connected to the shortlived military coup against his government in April 2002 and a two month oil industry shutdown which caused an estimated $10 billion dollars damage to the economy and ended in January 2003.

Chavez said he hoped the amnesty decree would “send a message to the country that we can live together despite our differences.”

However, he rejected opposition claims that those charged and convicted in relation to the coup are victims of political persecution, saying, “It is false that anyone in Venezuela is imprisoned for their political ideas.”
Among the beneficiaries of the amnesty are those who wrote and signed the infamous “Carmona decree” of the 48 hour coup government which dissolved a number of democratically elected public institutions such as the Supreme Court and the National Assembly.

The measure also covers those charged with the illegal arrest and detention of former Interior Minister, Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, the forced entry of the residence of National Assembly Deputy Iris Valera and the illegal takeover of the Governorships of Merida and Tachira, and the Court of Justice in Tachira, as well as those responsible for the closure of state owned VTV, the takeover of oil tankers during the oil industry shutdown, and those accused of inciting civil rebellion up to December 2, 2007.

Chavez made clear that the decree does not cover “those persons who have committed crimes against humanity, grave violations of human rights, and crimes of war,” or “those who are fugitives from justice, those who never wanted to recognize Venezuelan institutions.”

This rules out amnesty for businessman Pedro Carmona Estanga, who illegally declared himself president during the coup; union boss Carlos Ortega, who led the oil industry shutdown, and ex-governor of Miranda, Enrique Mondoza, who closed down VTV during the coup and went into hiding rather than face charges, ex-governor of Yaracuy, Eduardo Lapi, and a number of Generals and other military officials.

Also excluded from the amnesty are eleven Metropolitan police officers facing charges relating to the coup including crimes against humanity and violation of human rights.

In an attack that triggered the coup, Metropolitan police officers aligned with the oppostion, opened fire with long-range rifles, sub-machine guns, and other weapons, on groups of pro- and anti-government protesters in Avenida Baralt and Puente Llaguno, near the presidential palace on April 11, 2002. Nineteen people were shot dead and a futher 200 were injured during the confrontation.

Former director of the Metropolitian police, Henry Vivas and officers Lázaro Forero and Iván Simonovis are accused of co-ordinating the attack and a further eight Metropolitan police officers are also charged with participating in the shootings.

The decree has sparked a debate throughout the country, with sectors of the opposition, including the heirarchy of the Catholic Church, arguing that although the amnesty is a “positive step” it is also “discriminatory” and should broadened to cover the eleven police officers as well as third parties facing charges not directly related to the coup, such as 40 year old opposition student leader Nixon Moreno, who is wanted in relation to the attempted rape of a female police officer in Merida.

Cardenal Jorge Urosa said, “I believe that it is important that Siminovis, Vivas, and Forero, who have been imprisoned for three years, with trials that have not finished, can recuperate their liberty. The crimes of which they are accused are very confusing.”

Mónica Fernández, representative lawyers group, Foro Penal Venezolano, also called for the amnesty to be broadened to include “political exiles” such as Carmona Estanga and Ortega.
Fernández herself is a beneficiary of the decree. A former judge, Fernández was charged in December 2004

with the crimes of “illegal deprivation of liberty” and “abuse of authority” for having ordered the illegal arrest of ex-Interior Minister Ramón Rodríguez Chacín during the coup.

Sectors that support Chavez have also rejected the decree, arguing that the opposition sectors that carried out the coup and oil industry shutdown have not shown any remorse or will to rectify their actions.

Manuel Rodríguez, told ABN that the president should not have signed the decree. “Where were our human rights when they [the oppostion] paralyzed the country?” he asked.

David Alvarado agreed, the amnesty decree should take into account the rights of the people affected by the coup and oil industry shutdown, he argued.

However, other sectors have manifested their support for Chavez’s decision, saying he aims to maintain peace and promote coexistance and peaceful debate with the oppostion.

Yesenia Fuentes, a Chavez supporter who was shot in the face by a Metropolitan police unit during the coup, expressed relief that those charged with crimes against humanity and violations of human rights would not be granted amnesty.

“Our slogan since 2002 is ‘Without justice there will never be peace,’ and we will carry this banner until we see these eleven criminals, including Forero, Vivas and Simonovis, in a maximum security prison like common prisoners,” she said.

Antonio Molina, a lawyer representing the Association of Victims of the April 11, 2002 coup, condemned opposition calls to extend the amnesty to cover the eleven police officers.

The opposition campaign aims to convince public opinion that the police officers are being discriminated against, Molina said. Rather, he clarified, it is the serious nature of the charges, including crimes against humanity and violations of human rights, that impedes any amnesty.

“The Venezuelan state cannot, under any circumstance, grant any type of beneficial treatment to these people, because that would imply impunity,” Molina explained.

In a second decree Chavez also pardoned 36 prisoners convicted of various crimes, a number of prisoners diagnosed with AIDS were pardoned for humanitarian reasons and others for good behaviour and having completed more than half their sentence.

January 4, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Cuba, Imperialism, Latin America, US, Venezuela | , , | Leave a comment