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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 149,397

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Venezuela: it’s the opposition that’s anti-democratic

Venezuela: it’s the opposition that’s anti-democratic
by Jerome Roos on February 21, 2014

I’ve been away for the past week so I wasn’t able to write anything on the unfolding turmoil in Venezuela, but I’ve been following the situation closely and in recent days have grown increasingly frustrated with (a) the total lack of balanced reporting on Venezuela in the international media, including left-liberal publications like The Guardian; (b) the seeming ease with which comrades on the libertarian left ignore the events in Venezuela as if it were somehow “irrelevant” to our cause, simply because we’re not supposed to have any close ideological affinity with chavismo; and (c) the ill-informed basis on which many activists and even several major movement pages have taken the side of the protesters against the government, unquestioningly sharing the propaganda of the right-wing opposition and echoing dangerously superficial and wrongheaded interpretations about the protests. I intend to write more on this later, but here are some initial reflections:

1. Just because there’s people in the streets doesn’t mean they’re on our side. We live in the era of the protester, and violent protest has become a media spectacle par excellence. In the wake of Tahrir and Occupy, we have been conditioned to automatically feel sympathy for all men and women taking to the streets and facing down lines of riot police. Now there’s a YouTube clip floating around the web of a Venezuelan girl with an obnoxious upper-class American accent recounting the story of Venezuela’s heroic student uprising against an “illegitimate government”. At first sight, the video — which garnered over 2 million views so far — seems to neatly fit the narrative of the global uprisings. But anyone who cares to do some fact-checking or background research will quickly discover that the protests in Venezuela are rather different from Occupy or the Chilean student movement.

2. The protests in Venezuela are (at least partly) orchestrated by the right-wing oligarchy. Let’s get the facts straight: plenty of Venezuelans are taking to the streets with legitimate grievances about violent crime, high inflation and food shortages — and there is no doubt that the Venezuelan riot police are indeed behaving violently towards many of these protesters. All police brutality should be roundly condemned. The people of Venezuela should be allowed to freely express their indignation in public without fear of repression. But it bears emphasizing in this respect that at least two of the protesters’ main grievances have been deliberately escalated by the oligarchic elite itself: through extensive hoarding and smuggling of consumer products (giving rise to shortages and fueling price inflation) and massive speculation on the foreign currency market (pushing down the Bolívar and feeding into further inflation). This is precisely the type of economic warfare that the US-backed Chilean opposition drew upon prior to the overthrow of Salvador Allende in 1973.

Moreover, even though the protests initially began as a student mobilization on Venezuela’s national Youth Day (February 12), they have in the past week become effectively subsumed under the leadership of the most right-wing section of the opposition alliance, Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), led by Maria Corina Machado and Leopoldo López. As the firebrand leaders of the most anti-democratic faction of the oligarchic elite, López and Machado have been actively calling for the overthrow of Nicolas Maduro’s democratically-elected government and have urged the continuation of violent protest until he resigns. In the last 15 years, these people have shown themselves to be intent on restoring their class privilege at any costs, even if it requires casualties among the general population. They are deliberately fueling violence and social unrest in order to delegitimize and oust the government.


Bolivia president marks Aymara Indian new year with citizens

Bolivia president marks Aymara Indian new year with citizens

June 22, 2014 - 6:30:37 am

LA PAZ: With chants and offerings, several thousand Bolivians marked the Aymara Indian new year yesterday at ceremonies across the South American country.

President Evo Morales, himself boasting Aymara roots, led rituals at Samaipata. He raised the palm of his hands at the Unesco world heritage site to feel the energy of the sun as day broke at precisely 6:44 am.

“My great wish is national unity,” Morales told reporters after the ceremony.

For the Aymara natives, yesterday — also the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere —marked the start of the year 5522.

The date is based on the five 1,000-year cycles of the indigenous population plus the 522 years since Christopher Columbus arrived in America in 1492, according to popular interpretation among natives.

Vice President Alvaro Garcia led a separate ceremony at Tiwanaku, also called Taipikala, the capital of a vast Andean empire that once stretched from the western part of Bolivia to Argentina and the northeastern coast of Chile.


Evo Morales’ message of global solidarity

Evo Morales’ message of global solidarity
Richard Fidler | June 21st 2014

The Summit of the Group of 77 plus China, marking the alliance’s 50th anniversary, closed in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on June 15 with the adoption of a Declaration containing 242 articles, entitled “For a New World Order for Living Well.”
The Summit set a record for high-level participation, with the presence of 13 presidents, 4 prime ministers, 5 vice-presidents and 8 foreign ministers among the delegates of the 104 countries in attendance out of the 133 of the global South that now make up the Group of 77 plus China (also known as G77+China). The Plurinational State of Bolivia is chairing the alliance this year, and its president Evo Morales hosted the Summit.

The choice of Santa Cruz as the venue had particular significance in Bolivia. In 2008, this eastern lowland city, with a population of predominantly European origin, was in violent rebellion against the Morales government and Bolivia’s new constitution, which for the first time in the country’s history had recognized the 34 distinct languages and the national rights of Bolivia’s indigenous peoples who make up a majority of the population. Sharing the platform with Morales at the Summit’s opening ceremony this month were leaders of that separatist uprising — a striking manifestation of the degree to which the Bolivian government, led by Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism, has since then established its hegemony throughout the country.

There are two different but complementary dimensions to the adopted Declaration, writes Katu Arkonada, a Bolivian of Basque origin, in Rebelión. The first, focused on reform of institutions, sets out sustainable development objectives to replace the United Nations’ Millenium Goals. It points to the need for an approach integrating economic, social and environmental strategies that promote sovereign control of natural resources in harmony with nature and “Mother Earth.” The document’s proposals for confronting the challenge of climate change are particularly notable — not least because they would, if implemented, mark a significant departure from current international practices, including by many G77 member states.

The second dimension of the Declaration is addressed to the construction of “that other possible world, a world of sovereignty for the global South, free of all forms of colonialism and imperialism.” It calls for a radical reconfiguration of international political and financial institutions to correspond to the geopolitical realities of an emerging multipolar world “based on the principles of respect for sovereignty, independence, equality, unconditionality, non-interference in the internal affairs of states and mutual benefit.”


Protest in Venezuela: The Difference Between the Violent and Nonviolent Right Is Smaller Than You Ma

Protest in Venezuela: The Difference Between the Violent and Nonviolent Right Is Smaller Than You May Think
Friday, 20 June 2014 11:52
By Steve Ellner, North American Congress on Latin America | News Analysis

Schemes designed to demonstrate that governments considered hostile to U.S. interests are ruthless and undemocratic span many decades and continents. There is one highly effective type of manipulation that is frequently employed: Peaceful protests are combined with violent ones as the media and opposition conflate the tactics used by security forces against the former and the justified use of force against the latter. The key actors in this display of deception know exactly what their role is and how to act in order to ensure success. Often, support for regime change opens opportunities for blatantly anti-democratic political movements, some of which employ terrorist tactics.

Consider the following examples. In Chile under Salvador Allende, upper-class women gathered to bang on pots and pans while in their shadows members of the right-wing paramilitary group Patria y Libertad used violence to provoke security forces. The message was clear: The Marxist government of Allende did not tolerate free expression of opinion and, in addition, Communists beat up on decent, respectable women.

More recently, uprisings in Libya, Syria, and Ukraine were all preceded by a first phase of mass protests, which in some cases put forward legitimate grievances. The media, Washington spokespeople, and human rights NGOs uniformly condemned the government’s violation of basic democratic rights and soon expressed sympathy for those who engaged in violence and called for regime change. In the case of Ukraine, the second phase of mass protest consisted of armed revolt that included a large contingent of neo-fascists. In Syria, the second phase involved a diversity of terrorist groups including Ahrar al-Sham tied to Al Qaeda, but the U.S. narrative singled out the government as the true “bad guy.” Indeed, Washington has put forward the implausible argument that material support for the “good” rebels committed to democracy will allow them to gain the upper hand against the “bad” ones, that is, terrorists.

The sanctions against Venezuela approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee in May must be seen in this larger context. Pro-sanctions lawmakers make no reference to the violence perpetrated by Venezuelan government adversaries, thus fitting a decades-old pattern that ignores any evidence of wrongdoing by those considered to be friends. Moreover, the congresspeople who favor sanctions claim that the measure would force the Maduro government to come to the bargaining table to negotiate in earnest, thus leaving the impression that it is the Chavistas, and not opposition leaders, who are refusing to talk.


Injured men sue Vancouver company after Guatemalan mine shooting

Injured men sue Vancouver company after Guatemalan mine shooting
By Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press June 18, 2014

VANCOUVER - A Vancouver company at the centre of ongoing clashes between anti-mining protesters and its silver mine in Guatemala is now being challenged on Canadian soil.

The incident that prompted the lawsuit occurred last year during a turbulent two-week period that saw the country's government declare a state of emergency and ban public gatherings in four townships. The men's statement of claim — which contains unproven allegations that haven't been tested in court — lays out a series events they allege happened during the evening of April 27, 2013.

The men claim they were peacefully protesting on a public road in front of the mine gates when security guards donning riot gear emerged and proceeded to open fire at close range, the document says.

Adolfo Garcia was shot in the back while retreating, with the projectile lodging near his spine, the statement of claim says. Luis Monroy was shot in the face, ultimately losing his sense of smell, the document says. The other men, farmers and a student who ranged in age from 17 to their late 40s, were struck in the legs, knee and foot, the document says. The statement of claim alleges the weapons included shotguns, pepper spray, buck shot and rubber bullets.

The statement of claim alleges the shooting was planned and directed by the company's manager of security, Alberto Rotondo Dall'Orso, who was carrying out a campaign to "suppress" local opposition to the mine. The document also alleges the manager instructed his guards to "falsify accounts of the shooting and destroy or cover up evidence."


Neoliberalism and the Subjugation of Latin America

Neoliberalism and the Subjugation of Latin America

by Mateo Pimentel / June 18th, 2014

From the late 1940s to the early 1970s, Latin America proved to the world that it was poised to grow. Its collective determination for social equality and economic reform promised many viable alternatives to alignment with Washington. Despite the fact that the region was by no means a fabric of interwoven utopias, Latin America was still able to distribute wealth and to sustainably grow sans the flavor of capitalism espoused by the US. The effects of this period in Latin American history had a global reach, inspiring countless other developing nations around the world to explore their economic options. For this reason, Latin America’s economic sovereignty was perceived as a threat to US hegemony everywhere. In order to maintain its hemispheric supremacy, and to send the world a message vis-à-vis nonalignment, the US intruded, subverted, usurped, couped, warred and assassinated in perhaps every way imaginable. In fact, the precedent America set in its own back yard during this epoch would become the general norm for managing future decades of global dominance. No place on Earth since has gone unaffected by US international, political and economic caprice; the current status of locales such as Eurasia or the Middle East shows this to be true. As for US interference with Latin America’s moment of heightened growth and trending social equality, it had only one true raison d’être: The US sought to economically indenture an impoverished albeit resource rich Latin America ad infinitum.

After so many coups, bombings and puppet regime installations, America became increasingly more aggressive with its economic weapons. Neoliberalism midwifed many policies that helped the US reach its financial ends in Latin America with new inroads. ‘Free trade’, one of the biggest hallmarks of neoliberalism, received much bipartisan political support under Reagan. After Reagan, Bill Clinton took neoliberal efforts, and especially free trade, to unprecedented extremes. Globalization took on new dimensions, becoming a veritable vertebra in the backbone of Clinton’s foreign policy. Two economically indelible outcomes thus manifested during his presidency: the infamous North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the World Trade Organization (WTO). They have affected Latin America from the moment of their inception. The ensuing consequences for Latin America, its sovereignty and its economic freedoms were unparalleled in their destructivity; there was to be no recalibration or balancing of development and private enterprise in Latin America ever again. After both Reagan and Clinton, only corporate and property rights were to be protected. Every president since has in some way or other upheld this agenda.

Ratifying free trade and establishing a more rapacious species of international commercial law left Latin America pigeonholed. The region experienced some of the greatest cases of dispossession in its history for the sake of profiting foreign interest and contrived politics. Countries, whose state industries lacked sufficient capital, green-lighted disadvantageous laissez-faire policies through legislation; new policy and laws left them desperate to attract foreign investment and other forms of capital. The region also assumed that the US would make good on its promises of investment, thinking that America might comply with its vocalized desire to help. Even though the US pledged assistance with badly needed technology and capital, nothing materialized. Instead, many nationalists and socialists suffered a great deal of retribution for their political activity. The violence that many proponents of heterodox economics suffered during this period was largely symptomatic of the alterations made to the international legal landscape that affected Latin American nations. Ultimately, the costs of challenging Washington’s economic yoke became bloodier with the passage of time.

How did some of Latin America’s countries grow so poor from the forced adoption of laissez-faire neoliberal policies, especially after such an incredible twenty-year economic upturn? The answer begins in part with Reagan’s acting job at the 1981 International Meeting on Cooperation and Development in México. At the meeting, Reagan delivered the system that America envisioned for its neighbors and itself. Latin America was to ultimately become an experimental cadaver for the untested free market debauchery. As a result, the region largely became the economic Frankenstein that it is today. Moreover, much of the strife that Latin America experienced after Reagan’s presentation, whether economic, political or otherwise, predestined the region to be a financial stepping-stone for the US as globalization metastasized in other spheres.


Uruguay Delivers President Obama's Message To Cuba On Trade Embargo

Uruguay Delivers President Obama's Message To Cuba On Trade Embargo

MONTEVIDEO, June 20 (BERNAMA-NNN-MERCOPRESS) -- Uruguay's president Jose Mujica delivered a message from US President Barak Obama to Cuba's Raul Castro proposing the opening of dialogue to discuss the blockade, reported the Montevideo media on Thursday.

The occasion was the recent G77 summit held in Bolivia.

According to the weekly Busqueda, which regularly reports on Mujica's activities, the Uruguayan president met with Castro in Santa Cruz de la Sierra last 14 June and delivered the message which was coordinated when Mujica visited the White House last May.

Allegedly the message was that the US government was prepared to reach an "agreement" with Cuba, for among other things lifting the trade embargo which has been standing for 54 years.

"Castro showed great interest in the proposal" according to the report and Mujica left the meeting with Raul Castro, "quite optimistic". Castro had a positive attitude towards the proposal as long as there were 'no conditions' from Washington.


Peru's Congress backs probe finding Garcia offered pardons to narcos

Peru's Congress backs probe finding Garcia offered pardons to narcos
By Franklin Briceno, The Associated Press June 20, 2014 9:33 PM

LIMA, Peru - Peru's Congress has endorsed a special commission's findings that former President Alan Garcia broke the law by pardoning or reducing the sentences of more than 3,200 convicted drug traffickers.

The 53-to-7 vote on Thursday with seven abstentions sends the case to two small committees that will decide whether Garcia should face criminal prosecution and/or be barred from politics.

Although he has not stated his intentions, many believe Garcia wants to run for president in 2016. He has served two terms, most recently from 2006-2011.

Commission head Rep. Sergio Tejada said Friday the evidence includes letters Garcia wrote to convicted traffickers inviting them to seek pardons or commutations. He said the commission determined that 400 of the beneficiaries belonged to major drug-trafficking organizations.



Peru's Alan "Two Breakfasts" Garcia, Colombia's Alvaro Uribe[/center]

Paramilitary Violence, Dismemberment in Buenaventura Escalates Into a 'Humanitarian Crisis'

Paramilitary Violence, Dismemberment in Buenaventura Escalates Into a 'Humanitarian Crisis'
By Nicole Akoukou Thompson (n.thompson@latinpost.com)
First Posted: May 31, 2014 09:44 AM EDT

Buenaventura is a seaport city on the Pacific coast of Colombia. Home to a large Afro-Colombian population, it's also the setting for violence so severe that it's driven more than 5 million people from their homes. Spanish for "good fortune," Buenaventura hosts the second largest population of internally displaced people in the entire world, and for each of the past three years, it has led all Colombian municipalities with the number of newly displaced people. A new report from Human Rights Watch, "The Crisis in Buenaventura: Disappearances, Dismemberment, and Displacement in Colombia's Main Pacific Port," documents the violence and terror, the widespread abuses and the sweeping displacement of an entire population.

Entire neighborhoods of the city have been seized and dominated by powerful paramilitary groups, known as the Urabeños and the Empresa. They restrict the movements of residents, recruit children, extort businesses and commit horrific acts when defied. They are responsible for the disappearance of hundreds of residents and dismembering countless others, then dumping their parts into the bay along the mangrove-covered shores or burying them in unmarked graves. The slaughters and dismemberments occur in casas de pique (or "chop-up houses". Killings often go unreported due to fear of reprisal. One resident told Human Rights Watch he'd heard what he believed to be screams from someone being dismembered, but he didn't report the crime.

"No matter how much screaming you hear, the fear prevents you from doing anything. ... People know where the chop-up houses are but do not do anything about it because the fear is absolute," a Buenaventura resident said.

Between January 2010 and December 2013, more than 150 people have gone missing, presumed abducted or disappeared, twice as many than any other Colombian municipality. Historically, violence in Buenaventura has been orchestrated by left-wing guerrillas in rural areas, but currently violence and displacement is concentrated in the area's urban center, where 90 percent of the municipality's population lives. In 2009, Colombia's Constitutional Court found that the displaced Afro-Colombian population's fundamental rights have been "massively and continuously ignored," naming Buenaventura as an emblematic case. U.N. representatives have stated that the city was experiencing a "humanitarian crisis." Nonetheless, violence persists.


Colombia: Realities

Colombia: Realities
Posted: 20/06/2014 15:47

I am tired. I am weary. I have been in Colombia three years. I have lived in both city and village. I have had enough.

Foreigners are funny,. They never want to know the truth about this place. I've seen this before. People from the developed world often want to claim a part of the third world as if it were their own.

I lived in Cuba for two years and it was the same. You can insult their country. But don't dare insult their adopted place. While almost every Colombian I know not only agrees with me but almost universally wants to leave. They all do the same thing when I say any of this: Nod silently and sadly and then tell me I'm right.

I have grown to hate gringos. Well, not gringos. Just some of their attitudes. Many of those I meet here see the positives but ignore the negatives. Or they simply can't see them. Or refuse to. This is playground for gringos. You can do anything at an affordable price. Anything! And remain oblvious to reality. That is Colombia's danger - much of what is really going on is happening beneath the surface.And what is really happening is often frightening.

To see some of the realities here you don't have to go very far. I was taken to a hospital in January and held against my will in one of the worst areas of the city. I had to pay to get out. I hesitate to say I was kidnapped but I can think of no other word for it. I did need treatment but I lived over 60 blocks away. And there was a hospital four blocks from my apartment. But instead the ambulance took me La L - also called the Bronx. And once there I was held against my will under armed guard in a place comparable to hell. The hospital is called Santa Clara.

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