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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 150,198

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Biden Should Agree To Request From Rep. McGovern, To End US Sanctions Against Venezuela - OpEd

June 18, 2021 CEPR

Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and chair of the powerful House Rules Committee, released a letter on Monday calling for an end to “all secondary and sectoral sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the Trump Administration.”

This refers to economic sanctions that killed tens of thousands of Venezuelans in just their first year (2017–18), and almost certainly tens of thousands more since then. McGovern’s letter cites estimates that more than 7 million people are “in need of humanitarian assistance,” and that poverty increased “from 48% in 2014 to 96% in 2019, with 80% in extreme poverty.”

“There is no longer any way to hide the fact, which every economist knows, that the terrible suffering and death that Venezuela has experienced in recent years is overwhelmingly a result of economic collapse and deprivation caused by US sanctions,” said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that Venezuela has lost more than 72 percent of its GDP per person since 2015. A collapse of this magnitude is practically unprecedented, even during some of the most destructive wars.


The Coup That is Taking Place in Peru

JUNE 15, 2021


Pedro Castillo of the Perú Libre party has already begun to receive congratulations from around the world. It is beyond doubt that he won the June 6 presidential election. The Peruvian Electoral Authority – ONPE – announced the final results: Castillo won 50.137% of the vote (8.83 million votes), while his opponent in the second round Keiko Fujimori of Fuerza Popular won 49.893% (8.78 million votes). This is with 100% of the votes. By all accounts, Fujimori has lost the election.

However, Fujimori – the candidate of the right – has refused to concede. In fact, she has hired the very best of Peru’s legal minds to challenge the election results. Within hours of the election tallies being available, Fujimori’s team filed 134 challenges within the window of opportunity; they have another 811 challenges in hand. Anyone who knows the Peruvian legal fraternity will realize that some of the most important names are on the Fujimori roster: Echecopar; Gersi; Miranda & Amado; Payet, Rey, Cauvi, Pérez; Rodrigo, Elías & Medrano; Rubio Leguía Normand; Rebaza, Alcázar & De las Casas. In Lima alone the team had over thirty lawyers at work. The Fujimori team had assembledthese lawyers before the vote, anticipating the possibility of a Castillo victory and the need to tie him up in the courts. The white collar legal army put in place a racist lawfare strategy; their entire game has been to invalidate the votes that are at the core of Castillo’s support base, namely the indigeous communities of Peru.

The United States appointed a new ambassador to Peru. Her name is Lisa Kenna, a former advisor to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a nine-year veteran at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and a US Secretary of State official in Iraq. Just before the election, Ambassador Kenna released a video, in which she spoke of the close ties between the US and Peru and of the need for a peaceful transition from one president to another. The “presidential transition sets an example for the whole region,” she said, as if anticipating a serious challenge. If anyone would know about interference in the electoral process in Latin America, it would be the United States.

It would also be key members inside the team of Keiko Fujimori, such as Fernando Rospigliosi. Rospigliosi, a former interior minister under President Alejandro Toledo, joined the Fujimori team for just this kind of contest (for years, Rospigliosi had been very critical of the crimes committed by Fujimori’s father, President Alberto Fujimori, who is now serving a prison sentence). Working with the US embassy is on the resume of Rospigliosi. In 2005, the former left-leaning military officer Ollanta Humala was set to enter the presidential race in April 2006. Every indication suggested that Humala, who had attempted a coup against Keiko Fujimori’s father President Alberto Fujimori in 2000, has mass support. Some even thought that Humala would follow both Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales to draw Peru leftwards. In that period, Rospigliosi went to the US embassy to seek support in preventing a Humala victory in 2006.


Stashing cash, Peru's urban elite panics as a socialist looks set to clinch presidency

June 15, 2021
5:06 AM CDT
Last Updated 6 hours ago
Marcelo Rochabrun

5 minute read

LIMA, June 15 (Reuters) - In Peruvian capital Lima, fear is spreading among the city’s small but powerful urban elite about the likely election win of a little-known socialist teacher.

Pedro Castillo is poised to be named president ahead of conservative rival Keiko Fujimori. With almost all votes tallied, Castillo's lead over Fujimori is narrow but looks to be enough, though the final result could take days or even weeks as legal challenges play out.

During campaigning, Castillo pledged to sharply hike taxes on mining in the world's no. 2 copper producer to pay for social spending and redraft the constitution to give the government more muscle in running the economy. He has also hinted at potential land reforms.

Fujimori's conservatives were quick to play up fears about the rise of "communism" and to stir up old ghosts of land grabs and a Venezuela-style collapse. Lit-up signs appeared in the capital warning, "Think about your future, say no to communism." They did not mention Castillo by name and no-one has claimed responsibility.

. . .

"It's collective hysteria," said Ramiro Llona, a prominent artist who been critical of Fujimori, the daughter of divisive former President Alberto Fujimori. Llona said that fear and bias was driving some of the push-back against Castillo, the son of peasant farmers from Peru's rural north.

"I strongly belief that there is a component of racism at play here... fear that a person from the Andes might win."



BY ERIK LOOMIS / ON JUNE 13, 2021 / AT 12:17 PM /

Those of you who are very old on the internets remember that right-wing hack Josh Trevino, former Bush speechwriter and then who ran the Tacitus blog. He was discredited after it turned out he was a paid agent of Malaysia and then openly called for the murder of Americans who defended Palestinians. I think he’s somewhere in the wingnut welfare world today. Anyway, back in the olden days of yore, one of the first time people got super made at me on the internets was when I used to blog about how Texas was the only state to commit treason in defense of slavery twice. This absolutely infuriated Trevino, who would say I was the worst historian in the country and the like. He was sure that the Texas Revolution was all about rights and had nothing to do with white supremacy. This was, of course, insane. I mean, even if you take out slavery as part of it, which would make no sense since that was the whole point of what happened in 1836, the leading Tejano supporters of the Texas Revolution were in exile back in Mexico by the late 1830s once they started standing up for the rights of fellow Mexicans now in Texas. Anyway, I’ve always had the right enemies and Trevino’s fury made me laugh.

I thought about all this for the first time in awhile when reading this story about the tremendously flawed popular understanding of The Alamo, which completely erases slavery from the narrative, even to the point of the claim that the Mexicans killed everyone inside. This was not true, for there were slaves inside and not only were they not killed, they were freed.

Yet, the legend of the Alamo is a Texas tall tale run amok. The actual story is one of White American immigrants to Texas revolting in large part over Mexican attempts to end slavery. Far from heroically fighting for a noble cause, they fought to defend the most odious of practices. Our newfound understanding of this history presents Americans with a long-overlooked opportunity to correct a racist myth surrounding this monument.

Anglo settlers began arriving in Texas from the United States in the 1820s, when it was part of Spanish Mexico.The Spanish government wanted them as a bulwark against the Comanche, but these new Texans had another agenda. They wanted to take advantage of thousands of acres of land in the Brazos River Valley that was available cheap for White settlers, some of which was used to cultivate cotton.


A National Strike Has Reignited in Colombia -- and Is Winning Some Victories

A protester seen shouting the 72 names of the victims assassinated by police in front of the Tequendama Hotel, where the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) met with union leaders on June 9, 2021.

John Walsh, Truthout
June 12, 2021

Since April 28, people in Colombia’s cities and towns have engaged in an ongoing national strike, el paro nacional. Originally called in November 2019 by the major labor federations in opposition to a package of neoliberal tax, health care, pension and education legislation emerging from the right-wing national government, the strike went dormant for a stretch after the pandemic hit Colombia, but now has resurfaced stronger than ever — and activists are starting to win some national and local victories.

Thousands have taken to the streets across the country in marches and rallies. Truck drivers have halted the movement of merchandise. Where support for the strike is strongest — in lower-income neighborhoods of cities such as Cali and Bogotá — points of resistance have formed, where by day, community and cultural activities take place, and by night, too often, police and paramilitary attacks occur, met by the opposition of the primera linea, the frontline force of low-income young people who confront “less-lethal” munitions and live gunfire with shields made from chemical drums and rocks.

Each act of protest, whether march, rally or resistance point, has its own composition and forms of expression, reflecting the diversity of contexts underlying the strike. In the city centers, artistic actions and manifestations of gender diversity have opened new spaces, while in the forgotten neighborhoods neglected by public institutions, agency is exercised by pelados/peladas, low-income young people, many from Black or campesino (peasant) families displaced from the countryside to urban areas and forced into underground economies that fill the void of economic opportunities — a generation and population without a future, unless they themselves create it, a realization which steels their resolve.

A march during the one-month mark of the national strike, Cali, Colombia, on May 28, 2021.

Retaliatory repression by the Colombian state is violent, lawless and lethal. Statistical reports are certainly undercounts, both because of the chaotic situation and, more importantly, because victims know that being identified publicly could bring them or those close to them more harm. Even with those limitations, in the city of Cali alone, the civil society group Comisión por la Vida documented, from April 28 through May 22, 46 people killed, 93 disappeared and 240 detained by the National Police or the special riot squad, the ESMAD (Escuadron Móvil Anti-Disturbios). The number of wounded in the protests is unknown, since a portion of them do not seek treatment in clinics or hospitals for fear of being “disappeared” by the authorities lurking there — or because they have heard the reports of people being denied care once the circumstances of their being injured were known.


Santos: Military Killed Thousands of Civilians in Colombia

A handout photo made available by the Truth Commission of Colombia shows former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (L) speaking at the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition, in Bogota, Colombia, 11 June 2021. | Photo: EFE

Published 11 June 2021 (13 hours 55 minutes ago)

Juan Manuel Santos acknowledged Friday that thousands of civilians were executed by the military in Colombia because of the pressure they received to produce results in the fight against the guerrillas

Former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos acknowledged Friday that thousands of civilians were executed by the military in Colombia because of the pressure they received to produce results in the fight against the guerrillas and asked for forgiveness for those crimes.

"There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that the original sin, what in the end gave rise to these atrocities, was the pressure to produce casualties" as well as "the rewards for achieving it," Santos said in a voluntary statement to the Truth Commission investigating the half-century conflict with the now-defunct FARC.

The commission is an extrajudicial body created under the 2016 peace accords pushed by Santos that led to the disarmament of the rebels.

Santos held power between 2010 and 2018 and previously served as defense minister under Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), under whose rule thousands of civilian killings were perpetrated and then presented as guerrillas killed in combat.


Leftist close to victory in Peru, despite U.S. opposition and cascade of media slander

Medea Benjamin 28 mins ago

With his wide-brimmed peasant hat and oversized teacher's pencil held high, Peru's Pedro Castillo has been traveling the country exhorting voters to get behind a call that has been particularly urgent during this devastating pandemic: "No más pobres en un país rico" — No more poor people in a rich country. In a cliffhanger of an election with a huge urban-rural and class divide, it appears that the rural teacher, farmer and union leader is about to make history by defeating — by less than one-half of 1 percent, according to the nearly-complete vote count — powerful far-right candidate Keiko Fujimori, scion of the country's political "Fujimori dynasty."

Fujimori is challenging the election's results, alleging widespread fraud. Her campaign has only presented evidence of isolated irregularities, and so far there is nothing to suggest a tainted vote. She can challenge some of the votes to delay the final results, however, and as in the U.S., even an allegation of fraud by the losing candidate will cause uncertainty and raise tensions in the country.

Castillo's victory will be remarkable not only because he is a leftist teacher who is the son of illiterate peasants and his campaign was grossly outspent by Fujimori, but because there was a relentless propaganda attack against him that touched on historical fears of Peru's middle class and elites. It was similar to what happened recently to progressive candidate Andrés Arauz, who narrowly lost Ecuador's elections, but even more intense.

Grupo El Comercio, a media conglomerate that controls 80% of Peru's newspapers, led the charge against Castillo. They accused him of being a terrorist with links to the Shining Path, a guerrilla group whose conflict with the state between 1980 and 2002 led to tens of thousands of deaths and left the population traumatized. Castillo's link to the Shining Path is flimsy: While a leader with Sutep, an education worker's union, Castillo is said to have been friendly with Movadef, the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights, a group alleged to have been the political wing of the Shining Path. In reality, Castillo himself was a rondero when the insurgency was most active. Ronderos were peasant self-defense groups that protected their communities from the guerrillas and continue to provide security against crime and violence.


Brazil: Bolsonaro's Conservative Government Brings Hunger Back

Wednesday, 9 June 2021, 10:58 am
Article: Lateinamerika Nachrichten
Originally posted at https://scoop.me/brazil-bolsonaros-hunger/

By Lateinamerika Nachrichten / Claudia Fix, Julia Ganter

At the end of April, the official number of covid deaths in Brazil surpassed 400,000. Measured by the number of inhabitants, no country in the Americas has seen more people die from infection with the coronavirus. But it is not only this number that is shocking. Meanwhile, the social impact of the Bolsonaro government’s failed pandemic policy is also becoming increasingly clear. By Claudia Fix & Julia Ganter for Lateinamerika Nachrichten

“Hunger is back,” recent studies note. The crisis threatens to undo the successful fight against hunger and absolute poverty between 2003 and 2013. And yet Brazil is the world’s third-largest food exporter.

Brazil had experienced a success story: In 2014, the proportion of Brazilians suffering from hunger fell to less than five percent and the country disappeared from the United Nations’ world hunger map for the first time. For the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, this was already reason enough in an interview with El País in 2019 to declare the statement that people in Brazil still suffer from hunger to be a “lie” and “populist talk.“

But whether the president wants to admit it or not, the country is far from having solved the problem of hunger. Brazil was already rapidly moving back onto the world hunger map in 2019. According to the Nationwide Household Sample Survey (PNAD, comparable to the German microcensus), the percentage of households with food insecurity increased by 63 percent between 2013 and 2018. In absolute terms, this means that by the beginning of 2018, some 85 million Brazilians were already worried about their future access to food, it was already limited, or they were going hungry – a shocking record since data collection began in 2004.

. . .

The “fight against hunger” was one of the most important campaign promises of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva’s presidential campaign. In his inaugural speech in 2003, he proclaimed, “If, at the end of my term, all Brazilians can eat a meal three times a day, then I will have fulfilled the mission of my presidency.” In just his first 30 days, his government launched the “Zero Hunger” program, and between 2004 and 2013, the number of hungry people halved to 7.2 million.


Even The New York Times Now Admits That It's US Sanctions, Not Socialism, That's Destroying Venezuel

JUNE 8, 2021
Even The New York Times Now Admits That It’s US Sanctions, Not Socialism, That’s Destroying Venezuela


The facile right-wing talking point that the economic crisis facing Venezuela “proves” that “socialism always ends in failure” has become so hackneyed by overuse that it has attained its own tongue-in-cheek name. The ad Venezuelum, as it has come to be known, has slowly developed into such a tedious and predictable right-wing tactic that it seems to now serve as an all-purpose retort to try to discredit even the most modest of left-of-center proposals. In October 2018, for instance, then-President Trump responded to a plan by progressive Democrats in congress to introduce a bill to establish a system of universal public healthcare – something which every industrialized country other than the US already has – by stating: “It’s going to be a disaster for our country. It will turn our country into a Venezuela.”

Analysts on the left have long toiled against the ad Venezuelum by pointing out the myriad genuine explanations behind the economic crisis that has been roiling the country since around 2014. Caleb Maupin, for instance, has argued that falling oil prices were a key factor in the collapse of Venezuela’s economy. This is hardly a controversial point given that Venezuela’s dependence on oil, which was first discovered in the 1920s, has led to a highly unstable economy featuring regular bouts of economic chaos caused by a sudden drop in the price of crude. In the early 1980s, during the government of Luis Herrera (of the right-wing COPEI party), for example, there was a huge economic crisis with many of the same features as the one confronting the country today. Needless to say, no one at the time tried to pass this off as proof that capitalism doesn’t work.

Ryan Mallet-Outtrim, who himself lived in Venezuela for several years, has argued that the government’s monetary policy has been one of the main factors behind the crisis. In particular, he pointed out that the fixed exchange rate, which of course is hardly socialistic in nature, had an unintended effect on demand for currency that in turn led to an inflationary spiral. He is not alone is his criticism of the fixed exchange rate; economist Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), who like Mallet-Outtrim is broadly sympathetic to the Chavista government, has argued for years that Venezuela should drop it in favor of a floating exchange rate.

I myself argued in a 2016 essay for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs that an economic war waged by a domestic societal elite, and abetted by the United States, has been a major cause of the crisis. Though dismissed by critics of Chavismo as a conspiracy theory, there is, in fact, ample evidence of an economic war against the Venezuelan government ever since Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1998. The so-called oil strike, for instance, (in reality a management-led lockout) was a transparent attempt to bring about regime change by crippling the economy. Cases of hoarding goods and deliberately disrupting supply chains on the part of the opposition-friendly private business sector, meanwhile, have been well-documented.


U.S. Imperialists Deprive Cuba of Syringes That Are Needed Now

JUNE 4, 2021


Cuba, the first Latin America country to develop its own COVID-19 vaccines, presently is short of syringes for immunizing its population against the virus. It’s not feasible for Cuba to make its own syringes. The U.S. blockade prevents Cuba from importing them from abroad.

Syringes are lacking all over. The New York Times estimates an overall need of between “eight billion and 10 billion syringes for Covid-19 vaccinations alone.” Manufacturing capabilities are increasing, but that’s of no use to Cuba.

According to Global Health Partners, “Cuba needs roughly 30 million syringes for their mass Covid vaccination campaign and they’re short 20 million.” Solidarity organizations are seeking donated funds to buy syringes and ship them to Cuba. (Readers may donate by contacting Global Health Partners or visiting here.)

The shortage of syringes poses great hardship for the Cuban people. That’s not new. Calling for economic blockade in 1960, State Department official Lester Mallory was confident that making Cubans suffer would push them toward overthrowing their government.

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