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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 149,397

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In defense of Bolivian President Evo Morales

In defense of Bolivian President Evo Morales

Morales has been accused of being a fake radical. But he's actually made some bold reforms.

By Ryan Cooper | June 27, 2014

n what has been billed as an anti-colonial protest, the Bolivian government of President Evo Morales has changed the direction of the clock hands on the Congress building in La Paz. It will now go widdershins.

Max Fisher takes this somewhat silly gesture as more evidence that Morales is a charlatan:

Nothing says "Bolivian President Evo Morales" like a radically leftist but ultimately inconsequential government policy, but the South American leader may have veered a bit into self-caricature with his latest. The big clock on top of the capital city's Congress building has been reversed...this makes no actual difference other than to confuse people in the Bolivian capital of La Paz who want to know what time it is. {Vox}

Is Evo Morales a fake radical? Fisher is right that his policies have been pretty moderate overall, and certainly Latin America (just like the United States) has not lacked for strutting, stuffed-shirt presidents. But if we put him in the context of two centuries of a power-drunk, swaggering U.S. repeatedly laying waste to nations all across Latin America, and fully consider his coca policy, things look much different.

The United States has a gruesome history when it comes to Latin America. There was the time we stole half of Mexico. And the time some guy, with the enthusiastic support of many American elites, repeatedly tried to take over Nicaragua and to install himself at the head of a slavery-based dictatorship. And the time we toppled the democratically elected government of Guatemala and installed a right wing dictatorship, largely to protect the profits of the United Fruit Company (a common theme in the earlier Banana Wars), ushering in a 36-year genocidal civil war in which U.S.-backed military regimes massacred something like 200,000 people. (I could go on, and on, and on.)

Indeed, President Morales has experienced first-hand what happens if you catch the attention of the U.S. when it’s in a bad mood, as Fisher himself explains:

Earlier this month, he called for the abolition of the United Nations Security Council, to help bring "the destruction of world hierarchies" and begin healing "mother Earth." He frequently defies and denounces Western governments, for example in July, when his plane was grounded in Austria and searched for NSA leaker Edward Snowden. {Vox}

Notice the use of the passive voice there: his plane "was grounded." Well, who did the grounding? The United States security apparatus obviously — Morales had previously mentioned that he would consider giving Snowden asylum, which is why his plane was searched. That was a flagrant violation of international law, and a stunning piece of arrogant hypocrisy. You think the American government would tolerate Bolivia swatting down President Obama’s plane so they could look for a domestic criminal?

So you might understand why Morales, as leader of a small and impoverished nation, might be a wee bit hesitant to upset the international order. Don’t want to chance the CIA murdering you and replacing you with a right-wing sociopath who kills half the country.


Brazilian officials warn of “imminent” death of uncontacted Indians

Brazilian officials warn of “imminent” death of Indians
Saturday, 28 June 2014, 10:32 am
Press Release: Survival International
June 26, 2014

Brazilian officials warn of “imminent” death of uncontacted Indians

Brazilian officials have warned that uncontacted Indians face imminent “tragedy” and "death" after a dramatic increase in the number of sightings in the Amazon rainforest near the Peru border.

Experts believe that the Indians have fled over the border from Peru in a bid to escape waves of illegal loggers invading their territory. They are now entering the territory of other isolated Indian groups already living on the Brazil side – and some settled communities.

Ashaninka Indians in Acre state, Brazil, for example, say they recently encountered dozens of uncontacted Indians close to their community, and recent government investigations have revealed more frequent sightings of footprints, temporary camps and food remains left behind by the Indians.

These incidents are raising fears of violent clashes between the various groups, and decimation by contagious diseases to which the uncontacted Indians have no immunity.


Elbit: Exporting Oppression from Palestine to Latin America

Elbit: Exporting Oppression from Palestine to Latin America

by Scott Campbell / June 27th, 2014

Surveillance. It’s in the headlines and on the tips of tongues. As technology offers new possibilities for connection, it also offers new means to keep tabs on people. Surveillance has become seemingly ubiquitous, from the NSA reading emails to drones in the skies. As a nation that has for 66 years been ruling over an indigenous population by force, one of the main countries practicing surveillance is Israel. And it is the Israeli defense industry that has been reaping the profits off of the oppression and surveillance of the Palestinian people.

One of the top occupation profiteers in Israel is the defense firm Elbit Systems. The largest non-governmental defense company in the country, its revenue stood at $2.83 billion in 2010. Using knowledge and expertise gained from assisting in the occupation of Palestine, Elbit has made millions exporting surveillance and defense materiel worldwide – and increasingly so to Latin America. While Israel’s role in arming dictators and oppressive regimes in Latin America during the last century is well known, Elbit is at the forefront of a new wave of Israeli arms industry involvement in countries in the region. Elbit has a presence in at least five Latin American countries, as well as along the US-Mexico border. Far from being benign, the application of its technology should raise concern among those working for human rights in the area.

Elbit in Latin America

In 2008, Mexico acquired two Elbit Hermes 450 drones and one Skylark drone for $25 million. This capability was expanded when in 2012, the government purchased two Hermes 900 drones for $50 million. The Hermes drones can be armed or unarmed and are believed to be in the hands of the Mexican Federal Police. While ostensibly to be used against drug trafficking cartels, since the election of Enrique Peña Nieto, the Mexican state has increased its repression of both social movements and migrants from South and Central America making their way to the US. Using drones to monitor the jungles of Chiapas in a search for Zapatistas or to keep watch over demonstrations in Mexico City does not seem out of the question.

The Colombian Air Force in 2013 acknowledged it was acquiring one Hermes 900 and one Hermes 450. As Colombia’s biggest war is an internal one, surely these will be used in its counterinsurgency efforts against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Army of National Liberation (ELN). Should the peace talks not pan out, the Hermes has multiple payload configurations which may be deployed.


Red Bull settles with U.S. on Cuba violations claims

Source: CNN Money

By Patrick M. Sheridan

Red Bull settles with U.S. on Cuba violations claims

Company traveled to Cuba to film documentary in 2009

UPDATED 9:24 PM MDT Jun 27, 2014

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) —Energy drink maker Red Bull North America has settled claims that it broke rules involving sanctions against Cuba.

The Treasury Department said Friday that the company has agreed to pay $89,775 over allegations it failed to get authorization from the Treasury to travel to Cuba in 2009.

The more than half-century old U.S. boycott of Cuba strictly prohibits businesses from visiting the island without first obtaining a license.

The Treasury says that between June 8 and June 18, 2009, seven representatives of Red Bull North America traveled to Cuba in order to film a documentary, without first obtaining approval.

Read more: http://www.koat.com/project-economy/Red-Bull-settles-with-U-S-on-Cuba-violations-claims/26697310#ixzz35ty99HW0

Map: These Are the Places Central American Child Migrants Are Fleeing

Map: These Are the Places Central American Child Migrants Are Fleeing

—By Ian Gordon

| Fri Jun. 27, 2014 3:48 PM EDT

A recently produced infographic from the Department of Homeland Security shows that the majority of unaccompanied children coming to the United States are from some of the most violent and impoverished parts of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The map documents the origins of child migrants apprehended by the Border Patrol from January 1 to May 14. It was made public by Adam Isaacson of the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights organization, and it includes the following analysis about the surge in child migrants:

…Many Guatemalan children come from rural areas, indicating that they are probably seeking economic opportunities in the US. Salvadoran and Honduran children, on the other hand, come from extremely violent regions where they probably perceive the risk of traveling alone to the US preferable to remaining at home.


Destabiliziation in Latin America

Weekend Edition June 27-29, 2014
ZunZuneo and the U.S. Policy

Destabiliziation in Latin America


News from the AP about the U.S. government’s secret project to create a Cuban Twitter or “ZunZuneo,” to be used for disseminating propaganda and fomenting unrest in Cuba, spurring young people in that country to overthrow their government, comes as no surprise to anyone with even the most cursory understanding of U.S. policy in Cuba and Latin America in general. It is but a tiny part of a 55-year-old, completely unprovoked, genocidal policy against a nation whose only offense is failing to subordinate itself to the will of the U.S. government.

ZunZuneo was initiated and run by the ostensibly “humanitarian” U.S. Agency for International Development through a series of shell corporations which were not supposed to be traced back to the government. The project is typical of the type of subversion and interference with another nation that the U.S. government has always felt entitled to undertake, regardless of the principles of sovereignty and self-determination fundamental to international law.

Due to Cuba’s successful revolution in 1959 and their ongoing ability to resist U.S. subversion of their socioeconomic system, U.S. actions against the tiny nation in the Carribean have been harsher than any other victim who fails to recognize the U.S. as its rightful master. Early destabilization efforts included a vicious campaign of terrorism against Cuba, part of a massive CIA effort that later evolved into a policy of providing safe haven to terrorist exile groups and looking the other way as they violate the U.S. Neutrality Act and international law.

The largest act of subversion is, of course, the blockade, euphemistically known in the U.S. as an “embargo.” The U.S. blockade against Cuba has now lasted more than a half century as a punishment for Cuba achieving self-determination. The blockade is an act of warfare, as it is based on the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 (TWEA), which is only applicable during times of war. The blockade has been expanded and strengthened over the years with various violations of international law such as the Helms-Burton Act and the Torricelli Act. The policy of the U.S. blockade has been found to be an illegal violation of international law for 22 straight years by 99% of the world’s nations, who have demanded its end.


The Evil Hour: The Honduras Drug War

Weekend Edition June 27-29, 2014
The Evil Hour

The Honduras Drug War


The inherent imbecility of the War on Drugs can most easily be measured in terms of sheer carnage. There are the decades of mandatory sentencing, racist policing, and inflated prison numbers that have many African Americans living on the economic fringes without voting rights, in what Michelle Alexander correctly labels a new American Jim Crow. Or the gruesome example of Colombia where even conservative estimates number of three million internally displaced paper, helped in part by Bill Clinton’s Plan Colombia, originally intended to simply be a collectively destructive anti-drug policy but with a series of waivers and provisions by Clinton and Bush Jr. puts the U.S. government into direct conjunction with a corrupt military to whom repression and murder are stables. Meanwhile in Mexico another mass grave has recently been found, this one with more than 30 bodies, to add to the over 85,000 people killed violently since the drug war was officially declared there in 2007.

In recent times the spotlight has expanded to include Honduras, now the third poorest country and possessing a murder rate that dwarfs even other high crime territories (Honduras’ homicide rate in 2012 was 90.4 per 100,000. Venezuela and Belize were a distant second and third at 53.7 and 44.7 respectively). The initial flashpoint for this expansion took place in the wetlands of La Moskitia (the Honduras side of the Mosquito Coast named after the Mosquito tribe) in the early morning hours of May 11th 2012, when an anti-drug mission made up of a mix of American DEA agents and Honduras security forces targeting a shipment of 400 kilos of cocaine, gunned down a family sailing upriver to their hometown of Ahuas killing four including a 14 year old boy. Apparently the boat carrying the family was mistaken for a drug boat after the mission managed to get the canoe carrying the cocaine off to a riverbank (the men carrying the shipment pushed it to drift and scattered into the woods to avoid arrest) just as the family sailed into the scene.

It was quite fitting that the incident took place a week after the New York Times proclaimed in a headline “Lessons of Iraq Help U.S. fight a Drug War in Honduras’. A few sentences in the Times summed up the lessons like this:

This offensive, emerging just as the United States military

winds down its conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and is moving

to confront emerging threats, also showcases the nation’s new way

of war: small-footprint missions with limited numbers of troops,

partnerships with foreign military and police forces that take the lead

in security operations, and narrowly defined goals…

A big component of the U.S. government’s effort is the Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team

(FAST). FAST has its roots in Afghanistan (another theater in the war on drugs where American policy has been to wage war on Afghan farmers best cash crop- a policy they once shared with the Taliban) where the original unit gained some fame with the arrest of Afghan drug lord Haji Bagato. In the words of a New Yorker story from earlier this year (A Mission Gone Wrong by Mattathias Schwartz) the unit is ‘part special-forces manhunters, part detectives, FAST operators were trained to kick doors down, work informants, and collect evidence’. It wasn’t long before the DEA asked Congress to fund two more FAST squads for the Western Hemisphere. Since then the Mosquito Coast is a ‘battlespace’ with Honduras itself being described as ‘downrange’. In 2011 the Pentagon increased its contract spending up 71 percent to $53.8 million.


Colombia’s left must reorganize, unite: Patriotic Union president

Colombia’s left must reorganize, unite: Patriotic Union president
Jun 27, 2014 posted by Nicolas Bedoya

Former Colombian vice-presidential candidate Aida Avella announced that her left-wing Patriotic Union Party must reorganize and unite in order to achieve its goals. The long time UP member, who assumed the presidency of her party on Thursday, told Colombia Reports that she finds her party in a state of restructuring, and that Colombia’s left, in general, is very fractured.

“There is a necessity to unite to be able to achieve our goals,” Avella said, adding that “our essence is to look for unity of the left.”

Avella said her focus as party president will be “first to continue with the reorganization of the party at a national level. Second, look to contribute to the Broad Front for peace and democracy, that is made up of Colombia’s most progressive sectors. Third, look into how we are going to approach the 2015 regional and local elections united with Colombia’s left and local community movements.”

The Patriotic Union Party was formed as the political arm of Colombia’s largest rebel group, FARC; however, once the party proved to be politically successful in the 1980s, a systematic extermination of its members was carried-out in a bloody campaign of assassinations.


On-location video: Can a cable car save this lost Inca ruin?

On-location video: Can a cable car save this lost Inca ruin?

[font size=1]
The Peruvian government wants to build a $50-million cable car to bring more visitors to Choquequirao, or Cradle of Gold, which rivals Machu Picchu but gets a fraction of the visitors. (Photo by GlobalPost)[/font]

By Simeon Tegel and Oscar Durand, GlobalPost
Posted: 06/25/14, 11:01 AM PDT | Updated: 1 day ago

CHOQUEQUIRAO, Peru — In a remote corner of Peruvian cloud forest lie the ruins of a mysterious Inca citadel, Choquequirao, which translates as Cradle of Gold from the native Quechua language. Perched high above the Apurimac canyon, one of the deepest in the world, its solitude offers a welcome break from the crowded tourist trail to its better-known cousin, Machu Picchu.

But that is about to change. The Peruvian government wants to build a $50-million cable car to bring more visitors here. It’s part of a national plan to take the pressure off Machu Picchu and raise money to preserve Peru’s dozens of other dazzling but little known archaeological sites. But some worry the effort to save Choquequirao will end up ruining it.

Video: http://player.vimeo.com/video/97461599


President Bachelet Promises To Buy, Return Disputed Lands To Chile's Tribes

President Bachelet Promises To Buy, Return Disputed Lands To Chile's Tribes

SANTIAGO, June 25 (BERNAMA-NNN-MERCOPRESS) -- President Michelle Bachelet announced a plan to buy and return disputed ancestral lands to Chile's indigenous communities as part of a strategy to better incorporate them into the country's political process and economic development.

Chile's indigenous peoples, which include the Mapuche, Aymara and Diaguita, have an underweight representation in Congress and often face a harsh economic reality in what is otherwise one of Latin America's wealthiest countries.

Years of conflict over land claims have increasingly flared into violence between the Mapuche, the largest indigenous group, and local farmers, forestry companies and police, putting pressure on the government to act.

"It has been nearly 25 years since we got back our democracy" Bachelet said at the presidential palace in Santiago, flanked by representatives of indigenous communities.

"It is time to have the courage to take new steps with a view not to the short-term, but rather the (long-term) development that has been so difficult to obtain for our indigenous sisters and brothers."

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