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

COLOMBIA: US Court Gives FARC Negotiator 60 Years

Fascinating story from “World War 4 Report.” This is a long article, so I am only including two excerpts here. For the full text of the article, double-click on the article title below.

The first excerpt focuses on the bizarre and convoluted path that led to Simon Trinidad’s conviction and sentencing (even the USAID is involved) and the second excerpt is a summary of his hour long statement in court and I guess his version of “History Will Absolve Me.”

FARC negotiator gets Colombia’s max —in US prison

Submitted by WW4 Report on Mon, 01/28/2008 – 23:21.

“Simón Trinidad , the FARC’s well-known prisoner-exchange negotiator, was today sentenced to 60 years in prison in Federal District Court in Washington, DC. Several months ago, Trinidad was found guilty of conspiracy to take three military contractors as hostages, a crime occurring back in 2003. The sentence was determined in a separate proceeding held today.

The 60 year penalty, the maximum allowable under Colombian law, is a relatively new invention. In 2004, under a program funded and administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Colombia reformed its penal code (Law 890, which modified Article 31) to increase the maximum allowable penalty from 40 to 60 years. As one of the first beneficiaries of the legal reform, it seems fitting that the punishment would be calculated in Washington. Even more so because this penalty didn‚t even exist in Colombia back in 2003 when the crime was committed.

The penalty was calculated according to the US federal sentencing guidelines. Factors used to calculate the sentence included whether a demand was made for the release of the hostages, whether a weapon was used, the length of time the hostages were held, whether Trinidad accepted responsibility for the crime, and the relative importance of his role in it. Another factor—and a big one—was whether taking the three contractors prisoner was an act of “terrorism”—i.e., a violent crime intended to intimidate a government and extract a concession from it.

The defense argued that Trinidad’s “agreement”—a conspiracy is essentially an agreement to commit a crime—was limited to taking a letter from FARC commander Raul Reyes to Ecuador, to present to James LeMoyne, a UN official who had brokered the FARC’s negotiations with the government of President Andres Pastrana. Trinidad didn’t have the mens rea, or guilty mental state, had never made any demand for the hostages’ release, had no say in whether they ever would be released, and has never even seen the hostages.

Nevertheless, the judge found against Trinidad for every sentencing factor, indicating the maximum penalty available for this crime, which under US law would be life imprisonment. However, the judge noted that he would respect the wishes of the Colombian government, which asked for the sentence to be limited to 60 years, in accordance with the new law. Judge Lamberth acquiesced and sentenced Trinidad to 60 years without parole.”

“Simon Trinidad’s Statement at his Sentencing Hearing for Hostage Taking

After thanking the judge for his help with medical and other problems he’d had at the DC Jail, and for permitting the meeting with Piedad Cordoba, and thanking the US Marshalls and others working at the court for the respect with which he’s been treated, Simón Trinidad began his statement by saying that he was speaking today as a member of the FARC, an insurgent group that had taken up arms against the Colombian government.

From the moment of its inception, the FARC had struggled to change an oligarchical system that had maintained itself over the years through blood and fire. Beginning on July 20, 1964, the FARC had sought peaceful democratic change through the masses, but the oligarquia had used paid assassins—pajaros, chulavitas, and now paramilitaries—to terrorize the population with the power of the bullet. Nelson Mandela, who founded a guerrilla movement in South Africa and later rose to become president of that country, said it is the oppressor who always dictates the terms of the struggle, not the oppressed. In Colombia, the oppressor is the oligarchy and the use of force against the people is what led to the formation of the FARC.

The FARC, he said, are a part of the Colombian people who express their dissent in various ways to the violent and elitist regime. Founded by campesinos like Manuel Marulanda, the FARC’s efforts have centered on agrarian issues and the protection of campesinos. Created by campesinos and workers, the FARC fights for the improvement of wages, unionization, and has a political strategy against the oppressors.

Citing Ciro Trujillo and Hernando Gomez Acosta, Trinidad said the FARC
respects indigenous and womens’ organizations, and believes in a pluralistic and democratic Colombia. Latin America, he continued, is a region of great economic disparity and is third in the world in social disparity. The FARC supports the basic human rights that everyone needs to lead a dignified life, including access to nutrition, education, potable water, electricity, dignified living conditions, recreation and rest. Some 54% of Colombians, he said, or 24 million people, live below the poverty line, living on just $1-2 dollars a day.

A variety of fertile lands and climates would permit the harvesting of crops in Colombia 12 months of the year, providing enough for all Colombians as well as a surplus for export. Colombia is also rich, he said, in mineral resources, including gold, nickel, coal, salt and oil. Colombia’s biodiversity, in flora and fauna, the fish in its rivers, and a wealth in human resources make Colombia a very rich country able to provide for all of its inhabitants.

Nevertheless, a small group of people, the petty governing class, has monopolized these resources, taken the best lands, controlled the economy, and kept the rest of Colombia in poverty. Leaders of both Liberal and Conservative parties have legalized these monopolies for the benefit of the rich, and by the same token, handed over Colombia’s resources to foreign capitalists for their own enrichment.

The oligarchy’s policy of violence utilizes murder, torture and disappearances as tools against their opponents to keep themselves in power. Examples range from the genocide of the Gaitanista movement in the 1940s to the extermination of the Union Patriotica in the late 1980s. The three branches of power in the government have granted themselves impunity for all of their crimes, as well as those of the military and paramilitaries.

The unjust character of the government, where immorality and cynicism have been the norm, and its corruption are shown through the management of the people’s money paid as taxes, and the mismanagement of state-run industries. The government has abused its power by selling the nation’s resources to foreigners. It’s true that in Colombia, those who govern are elected every four years, but democracy isn’t just voting, and 65% of Colombians typically abstain from voting anyway. Large numbers of votes are bought. Voters are promised a job. Dead people vote. Others vote more than once. The electoral process in Colombia is illegitimate and a farce.

In the last 14 years, the presidency of Colombia has been manipulated by drug traffickers. The Cali cartel contributed $6.5 million dollars to the campaign of Ernesto Samper. Andres Pastrana was furious when he didn‚t receive the support of this cartel, and it took him four more years to become President. An August 2, 2002 report of the US Defense Intelligence Agency describing Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel lists both
Fidel Castaño and Alvaro Uribe as members. After his election, Uribe gave public contracts and political offices to his friends in an effort to reform the constitution so he could be re-elected a second time automatically. This is the best picture that can be drawn of Colombian democracy. It is a paper democracy, but what is described in the papers is far from the truth.

Colombia has been at war for more than 60 years, with a growing participation of the USA. Today the war against the insurgents is disguised behind other arguments. The war on drug trafficking is a disguise the US uses for greater interference in the Colombian conflict, sending advisors, spies, weapons, and investing millions of dollars in the war. This financial and military support emboldens the oligarchy and sustains the conditions that cause the Colombian conflict, but provides no solutions. Simon Bolivar said that “the destiny of the US was to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.”

The US government, and some members of the US Congress have misunderstood the Colombian conflict as being centered around drugs. Although in Colombia there are no serious ethnic, religious, or separatist divisions, the conflict has deep social and historical roots that have nothing to do with drug trafficking. The FARC do not share the Colombian government’s belief in a military solution to the conflict. This conflict is harmful to the dignity of the Colombian people. Instead, the FARC advocates social investment and the participation of communities in the planning of agriculture and crop substitution. The military strategy should be changed. The US and Colombian governments should work together to confront the challenges that face humanity. No country has the exclusive power to lead the fight in this area. The international community must have a greater participation, particularly countries where drugs are

Simon Trinidad said he was quite surprised when the Department of Justice introduced clumsily altered videos, made by the Colombian military, to try to prove that he was a member of the Secretariado of the FARC. He said he was sorry he never saw the letter sent by the US authorities to the Colombian government, because he was sure that a serious complaint must have been made about this mockery of justice. If the Colombian army can shamelessly lie to the people who provide them with so much money, just
imagine what they are doing in Colombia.

Trinidad said his trial was political. The political nature of his trial proves the political nature of the FARC. Politics, he said, is an expression of economics, and war was the expresion of politics by other means. His trial was political from beginning to end. At least, he said, his trial allowed him the opportunity to explain the FARC’s revolutionary philosophy and the position of its Secretariado on various issues, and he is satisfied that despite great efforts, the jury could not find him guilty of supporting a terrorist organization, because the United States had erroneously classified the FARC as a terrorist organization.

Trinidad said that because he and his organization, the FARC, had been labelled a terrorist organization, he wanted to take the opportunity to condemn all terrorism, regardless of the source. Don’t forget, he said, that the terrorist faction of the state was what brought him to become a member of the FARC to combat it. Based on his own principles and ideological conviction, he could not condone terrorism. Like the FARC, he felt that any force that wants to rise to power cannot engage in terrorism.

By the same token, though, he rejects the extradition of Colombians to be tried in other countries. This is a neo-colonial practice that undermines the sovereignty of the country. It is used as a weapon to blackmail men and women fighting for a just cause, including Sonia and himself.

In Colombia there is a war, with prisoners taken on both sides. This is a very real problem that demands a solution. The political order that came from Trinidad’s superiors was a first step to carry out a humanitarian action meant to benefit prisoners on both sides. “My conscience absolves me. I join the ranks of those that history can and has absolved.”

Trinidad said he was also satisfied with the letter he wrote to Manuel Marulanda requesting proof of life of the three Americans, and still he does not want to be an obstacle for the exchange of prisoners. He is convinced that this will be an important factor in achieving peace with social justice in Colombia. The first point on the FARC’s political platform is to find a political solution to the conflict.

Trinidad said it was his sincerest wish that the three Americans are returned safe and sound to the bosoms of their loved ones. He had already met with officials from the State Department, and would be willing to have further meetings to continue the dialog. He said that when he joined the FARC, he knew he could lose his life and liberty fighting for justice and peace in his country.

Finally, Trinidad thanked the Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera and quoted the Cuban revolutionary Jose Marti: “What Bolivar didn’t do remains undone today.” Trinidad concluded his statement with the following words, which he spoke in the same tone of voice as the rest:

Long live Manuel Marulanda
Long live the FARC
Long live Simon Bolivar, whose sword of freedom continues to run through America.

After hearing all this, Judge Lamberth looked Trinidad in the eyes, said he respected Trinidad’s intelligence, sincerity, and eloquence, and then proceeded to sentence him to 60 years, the longest sentence ever imposed on a Colombian. Trinidad had gone over the line, explained the judge, when he joined this conspiracy. His crime was terrorism, a heinous and barbaric crime that violated the law of nations. No civilized nation will tolerate terrorism, he concluded, and this was a court of law. The maximum sentence allowed for hostage taking was life imprisonment, said the judge, but he would abide by the wishes of the Colombian government and only impose a term of 60 years. “Good luck to you, Mr. Palmera Piñeda.”

Paul Wolf on the scene in Washington DC”

February 2, 2008 Posted by | Colombia, Ecuador, Imperialism, Latin America, US, USAID | , , , | 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

MEXICO: The NAFTA, crude oil and something else

January 17-23, 2008
México: The NAFTA, crude oil and something else

“Without corn there is no homeland, neither without bean.” And without

By Eduardo Dimas

Ordinarily, little is said in the international media about the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada and
Mexico, which became effective Jan. 1, 1994.

Recently, more has been printed about the ASPNA (Alliance for the Security
and Prosperity of North America), a monstrosity intended to strengthen the
neoliberal model and U.S. domination over the other two partners.

The enactment of the NAFTA coincided with the uprising of the Zapatistas in
Chiapas and a major crisis in the Mexican economy, which provoked an urgent
intervention by the government of William Clinton, which provided a loan of
more than $14 billion so Mexico could get out of its mess.

The consequences of that economic disaster (“the tequila effect”) lasted for
a long time. Today, 14 years and a few days later, very few people remember
those events. The Zapatistas make the headlines once in a while.

Now, the NAFTA has again attracted the attention of the media, as one of the
clauses of the treaty takes effect in Mexico. That clause frees from import
tariffs several agricultural products from the United States and Mexico,
among them corn and beans, two of the main products of Mexican agriculture.

The media attention is directed not so much at the activation of that clause
but at the protests it has raised among peasant organizations and agrarian
labor unions, which see competition from U.S. and Canadian products as a
serious threat to their economies.

To them, it is impossible to compete, because of the differences in
technical development and because U.S. agricultural products are subsidized.
In 2006 alone, the U.S. government distributed $18 billion among U.S.

According to leaders of peasant organizations, since the NAFTA was signed,
two million jobs have been lost in Mexican farms, the prices of farm
products fell between 40 percent and 70 percent, and Mexico’s alimentary
dependence on the United States rose by 40 percent in 2006.

So far, the mobilization of farmers throughout Mexico to demand a
renegotiation of the NAFTA, including a demonstration in the capital and a
human wall in the city of Juárez, on the border with the U.S., have been

Through its Secretary of Agriculture, the Mexican government has said that
the NAFTA has brought more benefits than ills, and that Mexican production
and the agricultural industry are doing well. Many analysts and observers
counter that that assertion is either wrong or does not match reality.

According to some critics of the Mexican governments (from Salinas de
Gortari to this date), it was no coincidence that the signing of the NAFTA
was preceded by an amendment to Article 27 of the Constitution, which
forbade the sale of the “ejidos,” or communal lands.

Those critics say that the objective of Salinas de Gortari, Zedillo, Fox and
now Felipe Calderón was — and is — to remove the largest possible number
of people from the countryside, thus permitting the food transnational
corporations to assume control of the Mexican agricultural industry.

Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but if we analyze how the big U.S.
food producers and marketers today control the distribution of food in
Mexico, it might be true. Only one of those companies is Mexican-owned.

In an article published in the daily La Jornada, titled “Agriculture and
free trade: a fallacy,” journalist Luis Hernández Serrano points out that
“According to information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the
agricultural food trade balance between Mexico and the United States clearly
represents a deficit for our country. It has been so ever since the start of
the NAFTA. Until October 2007, Mexican imports totaled more than $10.487
billion, while exports barely added up to $8.479 billion.

“The same has happened since 1994. National purchases of food products to
our neighbor totaled about $10.881 billion in 2006 and sales rose to $9.39
billion. In 2005, we imported $9.429 billion and exported $8.33 billion.”

Hernández Serrano adds that what somewhat saves Mexico’s food trade balance
with the United States is the sale of beer, which in 2006 amounted to $1.3
billion. One might inquire if beer production remains in Mexican hands or if
it went to foreign hands, like almost all other industries.

Even before the clause on the most sensitive farm products went into effect,
the NAFTA had caused the ruination of 40 percent of Mexican farmers, several
million people and a massive exodus from the countryside to the cities. Not
to mention an increase in the number of people who want to enter the U.S.

According to some Mexican media, beginning in 1994, the Mexican authorities
permitted the importation of corn and beans from the United States and
Canada without charging tariffs, thus violating the rules established in the
NAFTA itself. The same happened with rice, cotton and milk, products that
Mexico used to export.

So, it is difficult to think that the current Mexican government will
renegotiate the NAFTA with the United States and Canada. Rather, it may do
everything possible to comply with the accord, no matter what the

The small and midsize farmer (with less than 100 hectares of land) is
sentenced to ruination, because he cannot compete with U.S. farmers,
particularly with the big producers and marketers of food, who are investing
large sums of money in the Mexican agriculture.

Another issue at hand is the complaint by Mexican farmers about the use of
genetically modified seeds, to the detriment of the homegrown seeds, which
are beginning to disappear. To utilize those seeds means to depend, from now
on, on companies like Monsanto, Cargill, Bayer or BASF, because the
resulting product is a hybrid seed, that is, it cannot be planted again.

If you think of a policy designed so that the big transnational corporations
may control Mexican agriculture, in collusion with the Mexican oligarchy,
you will not be far from the truth. The NAFTA is the best expression of
neoliberalism; the ASPNA is its purest application.

“The fields can take no more,” says one of the slogans of the peasant
protests. The next most used is “without corn, there is no country; without
beans, the same.” The slogans are accurate. But, what about without crude

For years now, Mexican personalities from all political parties have been
denouncing the systematic policy of the government to privatize Petróleos
Mexicanos (PEMEX), an endeavor prohibited by the Constitution and something
that no government has convinced the Congress to amend.

Nevertheless, the different governments have created the conditions for such
a privatization in a not-too-distant future. For example, little by little,
they have postponed the necessary repairs and expansions of the industries
that carry out the extraction, transportation and refinement of crude oil
and natural gas.

They have also plunged PEMEX into debt, with the objective of eventually
provoking the “necessary” intervetion of private enterprises. Last year,
PEMEX’s debt amounted to $107 billion. A paradoxical fact about that policy
of privatization is that PEMEX contributes more than 50 percent of the state

On Jan. 9, the Coordinating Commission for the Defense of Petroleum (CCDP)
called for a national movement to denounce the delivery of Mexican crude to
the foreign transnational corporations, even when the Constitution forbids

The reason for the call was the enactment of a contract given to Energy
Maintenance to provide security to more than half of PEMEX’s oil pipeline.
According to the CCDP, the transaction initiated the transfer of PEMEX’s
strategic zones to private companies — a concession that violates the
Mexican Constitution.

The CCDP also pointed out that, for the past 25 years, the neoliberal
governments have been looking for a pretext to privatize crude oil and
electricity and that now they are drafting laws to permit a greater private
participation in that industry.

The most significant aspect of the complaint is that PEMEX’s leadership has
kept secret its links to five foreign oil companies. PEMEX directors even
made a commitment to those foreign firms not to report those links to the
Federal Institute of Access to Information.

According to the CCDP, PEMEX signed the accords and agreed to pay a fine if
it broke its pact of silence with Royal Dutch Shell (Anglo-Dutch), Chevron

(U.S.), Nexen (Canada) and Statoil (Norway).I think you will agree with me that PEMEX”s privatization is closer at hand
than most people think, unless the Mexican people and progressive
organizations form a common front to prevent that event.

The tendency of some sectors of the oligarchy and bourgeoisie to sell their
country away is surprising. But let’s not forget what happened in Argentina
during the military dictatorship and later, during the 10 years of Carlos
Menem’s administration. They simply sold everything to foreign companies.

Sometimes we forget that neoliberalism is not only an economic model. It is
also an ideology that places the free market, business, above any other
consideration, be it nationalist or patriotic.

If the alimentary transnationals manage to control the Mexican agriculture
and oil is privatized, how much economic and political independence would
Mexico retain? It would become practically annexed to the United States, but
with a dividing wall that would prevent Mexicans from crossing the border.
The people of Juárez do not deserve that fate.

January 17, 2008 Posted by | Imperialism, Latin America, Mexico, US | , | Leave a comment

Haiti-Cuba-Venezuela: Nothing Recent on Global Voices Online, But Maybe That’s Best

GVO has had almost no posts on these three countries since the end of last year. So, this gives me a chance to share a substantive article on each country rather than the usual GVO fare: recipes for the holiday, having hope at Christmas time, or right-wing rants about Cuba and Venezuela. Happy New Year all.

HAITI: “Disturbing the Peace in Haiti and New Orleans,” by Brian Concannon


“Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, a Catholic priest from Haiti, just does not know when to shut up. In the 1970s he saw his people starved and persecuted while Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier lived in opulence, so he organized for change. The Duvalier regime responded as dictatorships do, and kicked him out of the country.

When he reached Miami, Fr. Gerry saw that the safety he found there did not extend to immigrants locked up in detention centers or sent back to face torture or worse in Haiti and countries like it. So he organized there for change. He founded Florida’s Haitian Refugee Center to bring the struggle for justice to the U.S. courts, and coordinated demonstrations to bring the struggle to the streets.

The United States responded as democracies should: It let Fr. Gerry do his work, as long as he did not break the law. He did not win all the battles here that he should have – our laws and our courts are not perfect. But he was at least able to criticize and mobilize without fear of persecution, and sometimes even win.

Bill Quigley, a Catholic law professor from New Orleans, cannot stop helping people organizing for change. He has been a leading advocate for the victims of Katrina since he weathered the storm in a New Orleans hospital where his wife Debbie, a nurse, works, trying to help. The hospital patients did not need a lawyer then, but the families still without homes and the kids still without good schools need one now, so Bill is busy. In 30 years of public interest lawyering, Bill has stood up for a whole spectrum of people fighting for social justice, including peace protestors, death-row inmates and advocates for fair education, healthcare and housing.”

CUBA: “Cuban Survivor of Guernica Massacre Tells the Story”

VENEZUELA: “Venezuela: A Dictionary of Euphemisms of the Liberal Opposition”

Venezuela: A Dictionary of Euphemisms of the Liberal Opposition

January 7, 2008 Posted by | Cuba, Haiti, Imperialism, Latin America, US, Venezuela | , , , , | 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

HAITI: “Christmas in Hell” by John Maxwell

Because of my interest in Haiti, it was one of the first things that I looked up on Global Voices Online. What a disappointment. Most of its blog entries were from a blog for an organization called “Haiti Innovation.” Supposedly, Haiti Innovation is an NGO staffed by former Peace Corps workers in Haiti. I’m not sure about the nature of their work, but in their blog posts never once reflected the fact that Haiti had a coup d’etat in 2004 and since then between 8,000 and 10,000 people have been killed.

I wrote GVO a few times to give them the URL for a blog written by a young Haitian journalist who is doing some very insightful writing about Haiti – the UN occupation, the new government, the poor, etc. GVO never picked up on Wadner Pierre’s blog.

NOW, for the main attraction. John Maxwell, who writes a column for the Jamaica Observer called “Common Sense,” has a way of hitting nails directly on the head. He reminds us of things we should never forget. He leads us down paths we might never choose. He reveals connections we thought didn’t exist. Most of all, for me, he NEVER forgets Ayiti.


Common Sense

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas in Jamaica is bad enough. One good thing about Christmas Day is that it means the end of weeks of aural assaults by mindless rhymesters perverting songs of worship to paeans of praise for hucksters of all kinds, from shopkeepers to banks, from auto-parts dealers to purveyors of cheap, non-returnable, eminently breakable, non-biodegradable trash tricked out in plastic, tinsel and lead paint to lure innocent children and entrap their parents.

And, as a bonus, there are the sound-system parties, which allow you to dance in your own home to music played two miles away.


If you think this is bad, consider another scenario.

Consider that you are a citizen of another land, one steeped in history – a history of resistance to oppression, a history that includes the first proclamation on earth that all people were equal, including women and children.

This land, which for convenience we’ll call Ayiti, was introduced to Christianity by a bunch of marauding savages bearing swords and caparisoned in the fierce colours of their leader, a Genoese adventurer named Cristobal Colon, aka Christopher Columbus. This character had induced Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, the monarchs of two Spanish kingdoms – Aragon and Castile – to bet their farms on the discovery of a new route to China, then as now, the fabulous land of magical herbs, spices and other goods, which would make life bearable for the inhabitants of Europe, just emerging from the Dark Ages.

Our hero had managed to convince Ferdinand and Isabella, on the basis of a map obtained from an African who claimed to know the way to China aka Cipangu. If the Spanish got to Cipangu before their European cousins, great wealth and power would be theirs; all the tea in China would be theirs for the asking, in addition to carpets, silks and luxuries only dreamt of in Europe.

When Columbus’ “doom-burdened caravels” hove to in Ayiti, the million or so people who welcomed him could never have guessed that they would soon be history.

Within 30 years, the populations of the West Indies had been so reduced that in the four larger islands, now re-christened the Greater Antilles, less than a thousand remained alive in 1519. This is according to the testimony of Bartolomeo de las Casas, a Spanish monk who came with the conquistadors and was an eyewitness to the conquest. Another historian, Gonzalo Oviedo, estimated that of the one million Indians on Ayiti when the Spaniards arrived, less than 500 remained half a century later- the “natives and . the progeny and lineage ” of those who first occupied the land.

‘They died in heaps, like bedbugs .’

In the Caribbean and in Mexico, Peru and Colombia, smallpox and other diseases introduced by the Spaniards killed the ‘Indians’ by the million. Relatively small Spanish expeditions were able to conquer huge empires because the native populations were swept away by diseases, to which they had never been exposed and for which they had no immunity.

Toribio Motolina, another Spanish priest, wrote that in most provinces in Mexico “more than one-half the population died; in others the proportion was a little less; they died in heaps, like bedbugs.”

More than 100 years after Motolina, a German missionary writing in 1699, said the so-called Indians “die so easily that the bare look and smell of a Spaniard causes them to give up the ghost.”

The destruction of the ‘American Indian’ populations and cultures has meant an incalculable loss to human ethnic and cultural diversity. It was they who gave us words like barbecue, canoe, hammock, and hurricane, and crops like corn, potatoes, cassava, and tomatoes.

The people of ancient Egypt, the pyramid builders seem very far away in time; the Olmecs, Maya, Aztecs, and Incas, who also built pyramids and played games very much like basketball, soccer and Jai alai, seem much closer.

To Jamaicans and people of the Caribbean, the sense of loss is almost palpable in relation to the lost civilisations of Africa, destroyed by the slave trade, which, like globalisation, set brother against brother, tribe against tribe and nation against nation.

Africa was targeted because the Europeans knew that their own people could not survive for long in the hot, humid, mosquito-ridden Indies and that sugar, replacing gold as the commodity most likely to make men rich, was too hard a work for them.

Turning to Africa meant the devastation of many ancient civilisations – many disappearing almost without trace, further impoverishing mankind’s cultural diversity and robbing Africa of the populations and skills it needed for its own development.

Although the Europeans found large quantities of gold, silver and copper in the ‘New World’, gold was never as lucrative as sugar and the cotton and rubber extracted from the plantations of the Americas. And nothing was as lucrative as the slave trade.

As Sybille Fischer remarks in her book Modernity Disavowed: “Colonialism in the Caribbean had produced societies where brutality combined with licentiousness in ways unknown in Europe.

The sugar plantations in the New World were expanding rapidly and had an apparently limitless hunger for slaves.”


One of the modern Jamaicans’ favourite hymns at funerals is Amazing Grace penned by a slave trader after he retired from the trade, rich and comfortable. It was his way of atoning for his crimes, and perhaps, of saying thanks to God.

Nothing can atone for the misery and degradation imposed on the 25 million or more people transported into slavery or the millions more slaughtered when they fought to avoid capture. Nothing can atone for 500 years of racist victimisation, nor the 500 years of brutality and dangerous behaviours, beaten, inculcated and burned into the psyches of the enslaved and their descendants.

The inhabitants of Ayiti, now almost all African, like the people of all the enslaved islands and lands of the Americas, were engaged in an unending struggle to destroy slavery.

In Suriname, in Barbados, and Grenada, in the United States of America, in Nicaragua and in the Caribbean the slaves rose time after time to break their chains.

In Jamaica, they had some success. The Maroons fought the much better armed British to a standstill and wrested from them a treaty of non-aggression and non-interference in 1739. It was a treaty soon broken by the British.

Desperation and the will to be free fuelled the Tacky rebellion of 1760. This rebellion dwarfed the Maroon Wars and was an islandwide conspiracy, which lasted six months. The aims of the leaders included driving out the white population, and partitioning Jamaica into principalities in the tradition of the Akan-speaking Koromanti who were at the heart of the rebellion.

One of them, a man called Bouckman, fled to Ayiti when the rebellion was finally crushed. There, in Ayiti, he ignited a struggle for freedom, which ended with the expulsion of the last foreign soldiers from Ayisien soil.

In 1804, after 10 years of warfare, the rebel slaves and their free allies defeated the armies of Napoleon (twice), and of Britain and Spain. Dessalines declared Ayiti independent and free and declared the country a refuge from slavery anywhere.

He also pronounced the first known declaration of universal human rights, giving legal equality to all human beings, men, women, and children. More…

It was 144 years later, in 1948, that the world caught up with Ayiti in producing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Next December 10, almost exactly a year from now, the world will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the United Nations proclamation of the Universal Declaration.

The preamble to the Declaration is not very well known. It goes like this:

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts, which have outraged the conscience of mankind;

And the advent of a world, in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realisation of this pledge,

“Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms, and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”

The declaration then proceeds to list the basic principles of the declaration beginning with Article 1, which says that:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

And it continues to explain in Article 2 that

“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional, or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty”.

The declaration is intended to be universal, as was Dessalines’ declaration in 1804. Unfortunately, for us there are billions of people in this world including many in this country, who do not enjoy all the benefits of this universal declaration.

But some are much worse off than others. Among those are the people of Iraq, of Palestine, and right next door to us, the people of Ayiti, that imaginary place where slavery was abolished by the slaves themselves.

In Ayiti, aka Haiti, these rights, and the Universal Declaration do not apply.

Rather like the captured Islamists in neighbouring Guantanamo Bay, a little to their northwest, the Haitians, all 8 million of them, live in a concentration camp.

The Haitian version is designed to stifle their freedoms and liberties and engineered to prevent them from being led by leaders of their own choice.

Nearly four years after US Marines landed there for the third time in 100 years, the freely elected president of Ayiti is an exile in South Africa.

He was kidnapped from the presidential palace by US Marines led by the US Ambassador to Haiti and transported, as “cargo” with his family to the Central African Republic – the American idea of hell on earth. From there he was rescued in a mission led by the black US congresswoman Maxine Waters and TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson.

They chartered a plane and headed off to the Central African Republic themselves to bring President Aristide and his wife Mildred and their two daughters back to the Caribbean. It took them hours of negotiating with the country’s dictator to get him to release the Aristides.

President Aristide came to Jamaica where the government felt constrained by tradition and popular sentiment, to welcome him, but found itself unable to resist US pressure to get him out of the Caribbean.

Aristide’s sin was to want to fulfil the mission of his ancestors, to build a paradise on the dungheap left behind by Haiti’s colonisers and exploiters.

Nearly four years later a Haitian president is in office, but Aristide’s and his people’s enemies are in power.

The country is ruled by the US Ambassador, and is policed by a so-called United Nations force – MINUSTAH whose second commander, a Brazilian general, killed himself after a friendly chat with leaders of the Haitian elite.

MINUSTAH’s only distinctions are killing a large number of women and children in their pursuit of so-called bandits who seem to be mainly pro-Aristide youth, and the rape and other sexual abuse of young Haitian children, some as young as ten.


From the earliest days as an independent nation, the Americans have feared and dreaded Haiti. As an asylum for escaped slaves, it threatened the slave system in the American south. And after France extorted billions of dollars in gold from Haiti in ‘compensation’ for the loss of capital (slaves) and land, in Haiti, the US lent money to the Haitians to pay the debt and ruined them with the interest.

As I have said before: while arms never subdued Haiti, it was defeated by the power of financiers in a sinister preview of the modern tactics of the IMF and the World Bank.

Despite all the harassment, the 10,000 murders of activists and leaders, the Haitian people, united in the Fanmi Lavalas, have continued to support their leaders and their culture. A few months ago, one of their leaders, Dr Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, was kidnapped after a meeting with some Americans. He has not been heard from since. A few weeks later another leader, Dr Marlyse Narcisse, was kidnapped but released when there was a tremendous howl of Haitian and international outrage that apparently embarrassed the powers that rule Haiti. And so, the Haitians survive, without rights, at the mercy of a United Nations corrupted and intimidated by the power of the United States, Canada, and France acting in concert.

The United States, Canada, France, and Haiti all signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

They all agreed that “. disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts, which have outraged the conscience of mankind”, and they promised to make the world a more civilised place.

The spectacle of these three self-styled democracies combining to crush the rights and hopes of eight million poor people is obscene, but perhaps not as revolting as the fact that Haiti’s relatives and friends in the Caribbean, Jamaica and the others, but especially Jamaica, can sit and watch the Haitians’ sojourn in hell as if they were watching a Disney fantasia or a Christmas pantomime.

Copyright©2007 John Maxwell

December 30, 2007 Posted by | Canada, France, Haiti, Latin America, US | , , , , | Leave a comment