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Judi Lynn

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'The Other 9/11': Progressives Remember Allende's Chile

"On this day in 1973, Salvador Allende's democratically elected socialist government was overthrown in a military coup led by the U.S.-backed fascist Augusto Pinochet."


September 11, 2021

As people reflect on the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, progressives drew attention to another horrifying event less well-known in the U.S. but referred to elsewhere as "the other 9/11": the bombing of Chile's presidential palace on September 11, 1973 by the nation's armed forces during a right-wing coup supported by Washington and other capitalist regimes.

Salvador Allende, Chile's democratically elected socialist president, died during the assault on La Moneda in Santiago, which brought to power Gen. Augusto Pinochet, whose brutal military junta imposed neoliberalism through deadly force, torture, and the "disappearance" of thousands of leftists. Despite its awareness of Pinochet's human rights abuses, including his execution of political opponents, the U.S. continued to support the pro-market dictator during his bloody, 17-year-long reign.

. . .

Journalist Alan Macleod pointed out that "Chile would be ruled by a gruesome fascist dictatorship for decades, the scars of which are still very fresh."

"But people in the West," MacLeod argued, "are largely insulated from the realities of empire thanks to a pliant media, which never shows you the effect of the bombs, sanctions, coups, etc."

Progressive International noted that "Allende was elected Chile's first socialist president in 1970 as the candidate of Popular Unity, a socialist-communist coalition. He quickly went to work reorganizing the society he inherited, characterized by poverty and confined by the greed of international corporations."


Also posted in Editorials and other articles:

The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed:

The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People

a Country from Corporate Greed: A Conversation with Co-authors Robin Broad and John Cavanagh
September 10, 2021 By Holly Sarkissian

The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed: A Conversation with Co-authors Robin Broad and John Cavanagh
by Friday Podcasts From ECSP and MHI

- Podcast at link -

“Many people have watched fights between communities and big corporations around the world. The corporations usually win so those are the Goliath. The Davids usually lose,” says John Cavanagh, co-author of The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed. In this week’s episode of Friday Podcasts, Cavanagh and co-author Robin Broad recount how local activists mobilized a global coalition of religious leaders, labor unions, and environmental activists to block an international corporation from opening a gold mine that threatened El Salvador’s fragile water supply.

“We had no choice but to begin the book with the horrifying realization that murder can be the cost of protecting the environment in many countries around the world,” said Broad. In 2009, three months before Cavanagh’s organization, Institute for Policy Studies, was preparing to present its prestigious annual Human Rights Award to a group of El Salvadoran water defenders, they received news that one of the awardees, teacher and cultural worker, Marcelo Rivera, had been assassinated, his tortured body left at the bottom of a deep dry well.

The Water Defenders tells the story of ordinary people coming together across national and political boundaries to resist powerful corporate interests.

In the early 2000s, mineral prices were on the rise and the Pacific Rim mining company sought to set up new mining operations to tap into El Salvador’s gold reserves, promising new jobs and one percent of their profits to the local government. While assurances of prosperity and profit by the mining company initially sounded inviting to Marcelo and the local community, “they visited a big mine in Honduras, and there they saw the horrible environmental damage that comes from the fact that gold is mined on a large scale, using cyanide to separate the gold from the rock [which is] highly toxic and very hard to contain,” says Cavanagh. In Honduras, cyanide-laced water flowed through the rivers, killing fish and causing skin diseases. The water defenders decided “that short term financial rewards for the few would be way offset by the environmental harms to the broader community,” says Cavanagh.

To expand their coalition of support and raise awareness of the dangers of mining, “they did some of the most creative education and organizing that we’ve ever seen,” says Cavanagh. Marcelo organized with humor, leading marches of laughter where people wore clown noses and involved local community radio stations who performed skits on water. The water defenders expanded their coalition to the global level, creating a network of “international allies” and appealing to the two million Salvadoran diaspora in the United States, and environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Global International Trade Union Confederation, says Cavanagh.


So glad the Salvadoran people found a way to protect what should be considered sacred land. Best wishes to them forever.

~ ~ ~

Don't forget the heroic life of Berta Cáceres, indigenous water defender who was assassinated in Honduras for her effort to save a river from corporate murderous greed. Her Wikipedia:

Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈbeɾta isaˈβel ˈkaseɾes ˈfloɾes]; 4 March 1971[1] – 2 March 2016)[2] (Lenca) was a Honduran environmental activist, indigenous leader,[3] and co-founder and coordinator of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH).[4][5][6] She won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015, for "a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam" at the Río Gualcarque.[7][8]

She was assassinated in her home by armed intruders, after years of threats against her life.[9] A former soldier with the US-trained special forces units of the Honduran military asserted that Caceres' name was on their hitlist months before her assassination. As of February 2017, three of the eight arrested people were linked to the US-trained elite military troops: two had been trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, USA, the former School of the Americas (SOA), renamed WHINSEC, linked to thousands of murders and human rights violations in Latin America by its graduates. In November 2017, a team of international legal experts released a report finding "willful negligence by financial institutions." For example, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the Netherlands Development Finance Institution (FMO) and the Finnfund pursued a strategy with shareholders, executives, managers, and employees of DESA, private security companies working for DESA, public officials and State security agencies "to control, neutralize and eliminate any opposition".

Twelve environmental activists were killed in Honduras in 2014, according to research by Global Witness, making it the most dangerous country in the world, relative to its size, for activists protecting forests and rivers.[10] Berta Cáceres' murder was followed by those of two more activists within the same month.

In July 2021, David Castillo, manager of DESA, was found guilty as the intellectual author of her murder.[11]


Bolsonaro Supporters Try to Invade Ministry of Health after Threatening TV Crew

Group forces entry through the ministry's glass doors and windows and chased press teams

Sep.9.2021 12:39PM

A group of supporters of Jair Bolsonaro tried to invade the headquarters of the Ministry of Health in Brasília, this Wednesday morning (8). The event took place the day after the pro-government and coup-supporting demonstrations promoted by the president on the September 7th holiday.

According to a member of the ministry who followed the riots, the protesters surrounded and attacked a man who criticized the movement and, as a result, attacked press teams. The journalists and the man sought shelter in the ministry building.

Images released by the Metrópoles portal show the group advancing on the ministry's door and windows. Workers hastily barred the entrance to prevent invasion.

The Ministry of Health, in a statement, confirmed the attempted invasion of the Ministry's headquarters. "The building's security quickly contained the situation. It should be clarified that there were no injuries."


(Short article, no more at link.)

Brazil suspends beef exports to China after discovery of mad cow disease

ABC Rural / By Warwick Long and Tom Major
Posted 3h ago3 hours ago, updated 1h ago

Brazil has suspended beef exports to China following the discovery of two separate cases of 'atypical' Bovine Spongy Encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease in the country.

Brazil's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, confirmed the two cases of the disease in abattoirs in Brazil in two separate states of the country, Minas Gerais and Mato Grosso.

The discovery of mad cow disease is a blow to Brazil and will restrict beef movements around the world.

"It will make the supply of beef around the world very tight as we come into the strongest period of demand for the year globally," meat industry analyst Simon Quilty said.


~ ~ ~

Brazil's twin thugs, owner of the world's largest meat producing company, the Batista Brothers:

New Brazilian Class Action Targets Corrupt JBS in the Name of Democracy

January 14, 2020 OCM Staff

  • Brazilian class action lawsuit against corrupt meatpacking behemoth JBS lays out the undisputed evidence that through bribing over 1,800 Brazilian politicians, JBS was able to take over U.S. Swift Food, U.S. Smithfield beef group, and Pilgrim’s Pride, launching their takeover of the U.S. meat processing industry and becoming the world’s leading meat processor.

  • The lawsuit demands JBS restore to the Brazilian public nearly a billion U.S. dollars of its ill-gotten gain.

  • Meanwhile, U.S. officials have forked over yet another $10.8 million in taxpayer funds to the shady foreign firm. JBS has now received a whopping $100 million+ in taxpayer cash meant for struggling American farmers.

    The people of Brazil have taken a stand for justice against corrupt meatpacker JBS and its principal owners, the Batista brothers, by filing legal action in the Brazilian court. A discovery application has also been approved which seeks documents located in the U.S. for use in the legal proceeding in Brazil.

    This class action lawsuit, filed on December 20, 2019, comes on the heels of a recent action brought by Brazilian prosecutors evidencing similar claims.

    The litigation lays out the undisputed evidence that through bribing over 1,800 Brazilian politicians, the Batista brothers were able to take over U.S. Swift Food, U.S. Smithfield beef group, and Pilgrim’s Pride, launching their takeover of the U.S. meat processing industry and becoming the world’s leading meat processor.

    The lawsuit demands the Batista brothers, JBS SA, J&F Investimentos, the Batista family’s holding company, restore to the public nearly a billion U.S. dollars of the Batista family’s ill-gotten gain.

    Meanwhile, U.S. officials have forked over yet another $10.8 million in U.S. taxpayer funds to the shady foreign firm. JBS has now received a whopping $100 million+ in taxpayer cash meant for struggling American farmers.


    ~ ~ ~

    Trump administration showers Brazilian crooks with $62M bailout money meant for struggling U.S. farmers
    MAY 16, 2019 AT 4:20 AM

    Joesley and Wesley Batista, owners of Brazil-based meat-packing company JBS SA, are pictured in separate file photos. (AFP/Getty Images)

    The Trump administration has forked over more than $62 million — taxpayer cash that was supposed to be earmarked for struggling American farmers — to a massive meatpacking company owned by a couple of corrupt Brazilian brothers.

    The Department of Agriculture announced a contract in January to purchase $22.3 million worth of pork from plants operated by JBS USA, a Colorado-based subsidiary of Brazil’s JBS SA, which ranks as the largest meatpacker in the world.

    The bailout raised eyebrows from industry insiders at the time, as it was sourced from a $12 billion program meant for American farmers harmed by President Trump’s escalating trade war with China and other countries.

    But previously undisclosed purchase reports obtained by the Daily News this week reveal the administration has since issued at least two more bailouts to JBS, even as Trump’s own Justice Department began investigating the meatpacker, whose owners are Joesley and Wesley Batista — two wealthy brothers who have confessed to bribing hundreds of top officials in Brazil.

    Both brothers have spent time in jail over the sweeping corruption scandal.

    Local prosecutors rescinded the Batistas’ plea deals last year after accusing them of withholding evidence. The seedy brothers aren’t allowed to leave Brazil as their complex cases go to court.


    ~ ~ ~

    This foreign meat company got U.S. tax money. Now it wants to conquer America.

    President Trump delivers remarks in support of farmers and ranchers at the White House in May. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    By Kimberly Kindy
    November 7, 2019

    This story has been updated.Two men in cowboy hats stood behind President Trump in May as he announced a $16 billion agricultural bailout. Trump said the financial relief from his trade war with China would help American farmers, reinforcing an earlier tweet when the president said the funds would help “great Patriot Farmers.”

    But not all beneficiaries of the taxpayer-funded program are American farmers or patriots. JBS, a Brazilian company that is the largest meat producer in the world, has received $78 million in government pork contracts funded with the bailout funds — more than any other U.S. pork producer.

    JBS’s winning hand in securing a quarter of all of the pork bailout contracts is one example of the power a small number of multinational meat companies now hold in the United States. JBS has become a major player in the United States even as it faces price-fixing and other investigations from the federal government.

    The company’s explosive growth through acquisitions over the past decade has been a dominant factor in the consolidation of the meat industry by multinational companies.

    A dozen years ago, JBS did not own a single U.S. meat plant. Today, JBS and three other food companies control about 85 percent of beef production. JBS and Tyson Foods control about 40 percent of the poultry market. And JBS and three other companies control nearly 70 percent of the pork market.

  • In Peru, the Knives Are Already Out for Pedro Castillo


    Pedro Castillo passed his first hurdle as president of Peru recently when he won congressional approval for his left-wing cabinet. To keep his momentum and defeat the right-wing opposition, he now needs to build his popular support in the streets.

    Peruvian president Pedro Castillo delivers a speech during a ceremony on July 29 at Pampa de la Quinua, Ayacucho, where the last battle against the Spanish royalists was won in 1824. (ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP via Getty Images)

    The man with the longest name in the room, Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia, could be forgiven if he did not care too much for Pedro Castillo’s maiden presidential speech. The inauguration of Peru’s new president took place on July 28, 2021, marking the two hundredth anniversary of the country’s proclamation of independence from Spain. King Philip VI of Spain — the man with the long name — looked on glumly as a peasant, rural schoolteacher, community patrol member, and union leader from one of Peru’s poorest provinces assumed the highest office in the country that had once been the crown jewel of the Spanish Empire.

    Wearing his trademark straw hat and a liqui liqui — the traditional northern Andes outfit that has become a staple among Pink Tide heads of state — Castillo took an unconventional approach to the swearing-in speech. Rather than focusing on the drama surrounding his electoral triumph over far-right candidate and notoriously sore loser Keiko Fujimori, Castillo offered a history lesson.

    After greeting his fellow heads of state and “His Majesty the King of Spain,” Castillo spoke on behalf his “brothers of Indigenous ancestry in pre-Hispanic Peru, my Quechua, Aymara, and Amazonian brothers, the Afro-Peruvians and the many communities of immigrant ancestry, as well as the dispossessed minorities in the countryside and in the cities. Today, we all say: kashkaniracmi. We still exist.” He spoke of lands inhabited by “cultures and civilizations” that “for four and a half millennia solved their problems and lived in harmony with what nature offered them,” only to be interrupted by “the men from Castile,” who “established the castes and differences that persist to this day.”

    The speech then traced three centuries of colonial exploitation, resource extraction, and a repressive “racial regime” that “subordinated the majority of the Indigenous inhabitants of this rich country.” Independence and the subsequent 200 years of republican rule hardly improved the lives of the Indigenous majority. That history, Castillo continued, is changing: “This time, a government of the people has arrived to govern with the people and for the people, to build from the bottom up. It is the first time that our country will be governed by a peasant, a person that belongs, like many Peruvians, to the sectors that have been oppressed for so many centuries.”



    “Conquest by hydraulic superiority” helped Wari state expand
    16 APR 2020 BY LIZZIE WADE

    When Wari colonists arrived in the Moquegua Valley of southern Peru some 1400 years ago, people already living there were likely nervous. The Wari state, with its capital city of Huari high in the Andes near what is now Ayacucho, Peru, had been expanding its reach. The Wari takeover was violent in places; the invaders sacrificed local people and displayed their heads as trophies.

    But this time the Wari colonists did something unexpected. Rather than trying to seize the fertile valley floor, where people already lived, the newcomers occupied high, dry land that no one else had figured out how to use. They constructed their government and religious buildings on top of a high mesa, now called Cerro Baúl, and erected canals and aqueducts that carried water much farther than any previously attempted in the valley. They carved mountain slopes into agricultural terraces, which efficiently trapped and distributed water from rain and snowmelt to plots of maize, quinoa, and peppery berries called molle. People from several other regions moved to the new farms and towns, forming a powerful labor force that helped maintain the sprawling water infrastructure.

    Remote Cerro Baúl is home to some of the best preserved Wari canals and terraces, but the remains of their sophisticated water infrastructure have been found in both the Wari heartland and in several of the state's many colonies, including around the Wari center of Pikillacta near present-day Cuzco and in the Huamachuco region, more than 700 kilometers to the north of Huari. Such innovative hydraulic engineering enabled Wari—which some scholars argue was South America's first empire—to expand and thrive for some 400 years despite an often dry, drought-prone climate, recent studies suggest. (Archaeologists refer to this state as "Wari," not "the Wari," similar to the names of modern nations like Peru or France.) Wari colonists and those who joined their community were able to "settle empty zones and make them productive," says Donna Nash, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Archaeologist Patrick Ryan Williams of the Field Museum calls the Wari strategy "conquest by hydraulic superiority."

    Those studying the Wari state's rise and fall, however, confront a puzzle. Its end, about 1000 years ago, appears to have coincided with a severe drought. Across history, the pattern might seem familiar; other ancient civilizations, including the Classic Maya and the Old Kingdom of Egypt, appear to have collapsed in a time of drought. But how could drought have doomed Wari, a society that had been built on learning to take maximum advantage of limited water, and had seemingly even expanded through previous dry spells? To find an answer, researchers are trying to reconstruct two intricate, fragmented narratives—the human and the environmental—and weave them together. The history of climate "in the Andes is extremely complicated," says Benjamin Vining, an environmental archaeologist at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. "And the only thing more complicated is human behavior."


    ~ ~ ~

    Wikiwand from Wikipedia

    Cerro Baúl (Spanish: Cerro "hill", Spanish: Baúl "trunk" (i.e. a place to store treasured items)) is an ancient political outpost and ceremonial center settlement in Peru established by the pre-Incan empire called the Wari. Cerro Baúl is a terraced mountain, 2000 feet above its surroundings, with a settlement on the cliff tops themselves and in the immediate surroundings. Among other finds are the remnants of a brewery and large buildings that may have been used for ceremonial feasting. There is evidence of damage that has been interpreted as a careful and deliberate destruction, by the city's own people, of several buildings prior to the mesa's being vacated.

    Description of site
    The summit of Cerro Baúl is located in the Moquegua Valley. Both Cerro Baúl and the adjacent Cerro Mejia were under Wari control. The Wari had introduced the agricultural technology of terracing the mountainside and digging long canals across the land. A 6.2 mile canal was built from the Torata River through the El Paso Divide between Cerro Baúl and Cerro Mejia, where it split to irrigate the terraces that flanked both hills.[1] Also along the terraced slopes we find the homes of the majority of the center's citizens.[2] At the top of the mountain we find the public and elite living spaces. There are two D-shaped temples, in the Wari style, on the eastern and middle sections of the site. Also along the eastern side are one-story domiciles similar to the ones along the terraces. These are considered to be the artisan residence area by archaeologists. The central sector seems to be the ceremonial core, while the western sector comprises the two story dwellings of the elite.[3] Sprinkled throughout this city we find the most common architectural form used by the Wari civilization, which is an enclosed plaza flanked by impressive stone halls. The halls included residences of governors and wealthy citizens, government offices, and beer houses for state-held parties.

    example of terracing

    Asociación Contisuyo
    Asociación Contisuyo (in Quechua: Kunti Suyu), literally translated to Association "Bias West or West Region", is an assemblage of Peruvian and American scholars with interests in the mapping and excavation of Cerro Baúl. Founded in 1981 directors Robert Pritzker and Dr. Michael Moseley, then of The Field Museum of Natural History combined their resources with the Southern Peru Copper Corporation to further their research at Cerro Baúl.[4] Prior to the first excavations it was believed that the Wari civilization had obtained the area subsequent to Tiwanaku control; however, it is now known from archaeological artifacts found in the area, such as kero (a ceremonial cup), in the hybrid styles of both Wari and Tiwanaku, that they had occupied the areas at the same time. It is believed that the two cultures employed the close space rather peacefully, as there is no evidence of warfare and evidence of shared culture and styles from about A.D. 600 to 1020. The scholars, armed with the annals of a Spanish chronicler and two seasons of excavations, were able to find evidence that supported the Inca siege and capture of the Wari political outpost.

    Wari political outpost and ceremonial center
    The Wari (Spanish: Huari) culture of Peru in the Middle Horizon period (400 AD-1000 AD) was one of several Andean cultures before the rise of the Inca that can be termed "empires." They were not just city states, but actually exerted their influence over neighboring groups (or subjugated them). The Wari area of influence lay in what is now the central highlands of Peru and their area of influence overlapped that of another culture, the Tiwanaku. The Wari made their bold thrust into the Tiwanaku area of control by seizing both Cerro Baúl and the adjacent Cerro Mejia. By terracing and irrigating the areas for the sustainment of the city's populace, they managed to make the Tiwanaku at least partially dependent on their society[1] as the water streaming from the mountain rainstorms had to pass by a Wari canal before it reached Tiwanaku fields. The relationship, however, seemed to be some positive interaction between the two peoples as seen in the Tiwanaku-style drinking vessel used in ceremonies that was among the Wari's most sacred ceremonial offerings found at the site.

    With the demise of the Wari and Tiwanaku civilizations, the people of the Chiribaya culture lived in the area until they were conquered or colonized by the Inca.


    Colombia court refuses to try general accused in 104 murders


    Former Colombian army Gen. Mario Montoya arrives for a hearing in Bogota, Colombia, on Oct. 17, 2018. Bogota’s Superior Tribunal ruled Monday, August 30, 2021, that Montoya is not under the jurisdiction of ordinary courts because he is cooperating with a special tribunal created by the 2016 peace deal between the government and the now disbanded Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. (Fernando Vergara/AP)

    Mario Montoya had appeared at a court hearing last week, where he was going to be charged with murder by the Attorney General's Office. But Bogota's Superior Tribunal stopped prosecutors from pressing charges while they considered the case.

    The court ruled Monday that Montoya is not under the jurisdiction of ordinary courts because he is cooperating with a special tribunal created by the 2016 peace deal between the government and the now disbanded Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

    The ruling will be appealed by relatives of civilians killed by soldiers under Montoya's command, who are hoping that the case sets a powerful precedent.

    . . .

    According to the peace tribunal, at least 6,402 civilians were murdered by the Colombian army and presented as "false positives" between 2002 and 2008, when the killings were first revealed by journalists. In all, an estimated 262,000 people died as a result of the five-decade conflict.


    ~ ~ ~

    Montoya has had an inordinate amount of power and influence for years. Dreadful person.

    Montoya speaking, Uribe listening.

    Colombian Vice President Juan Manuel Santos, George W., Alvaro Uribe,
    General Montoya

    ~ ~ ~

    Rewarding body count, during wartime or not, is a recipe for mass murder.
    By Michael Busch | March 2, 2011

    When Major General Mario Montoya Uribe was appointed commander of the Colombian army in March of 2006, the US embassy in Bogota was largely unaware of his background and bona fides. The American ambassador to Colombia at the time, William Wood, reported in a cable WikiLeaked on Friday, that relatively little was known about Montoya aside from his many decorations as a career military man, his close personal relationship with then-president Alvaro Uribe, and persistent but as yet unsubstantiated rumors that the commander was corrupt and tied to conservative paramilitary forces throughout the country.

    Little was Wood aware that Montoya’s corruption and paramilitary ties would prove to be the least of his offenses. By the time he was relieved of his command eighteen months later, Montoya was widely perceived to be a driving force behind the breathtakingly horrific deal­ings of mil­i­tary per­son­nel in the fight against drug- and guerilla-related inter­nal disturbances.

    As I reported in 2009 when UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution Philip Alston arrived in Bogota to investigate the so-called “false positives” case, over one thou­sand mem­bers of the Colom­bian armed forces were ultimately impli­cated in the mur­ders of count­less inno­cent civil­ians. The details are appalling. In many cases, vic­tims were recruited from poor neigh­bor­hoods and vil­lages through­out the coun­try, promised work oppor­tu­ni­ties else­where, then drugged and sold to mil­i­tary agents who arranged for their exe­cu­tions. The bod­ies were then dressed up in army fatigues, planted with weapons pur­chased on the black market, and claimed as suc­cess­fully elim­i­nated guer­rilla com­bat­ants by mil­i­tary personnel.

    The evi­dence of false pos­i­tive extra­ju­di­cial killings sug­gests their sys­temic nature, a con­clu­sion cor­rob­o­rated by the Coun­cil on Hemi­spheric Affairs, which noted that

    What is appar­ently new about the recent cases is that they have been moti­vated pri­mar­ily by inter­nal mil­i­tary incen­tive struc­tures, rather than polit­i­cal motives…They were killed so that army units and their com­man­ders could demon­strate “results” to their supe­ri­ors, and thereby win both finan­cial rewards and pro­mo­tions. In this war, progress has long been mea­sured by the num­ber of “enemy com­bat­ants” immo­bi­lized, prefer­ably killed, and career prospects often depend on demon­strat­ing such “results”…Investigations have revealed an exten­sive web of recruiter net­works pen­e­trat­ing poor neigh­bor­hoods across the coun­try, oper­at­ing in a shad­owy under­world in col­lu­sion with army con­tract agents. …For dis­patch­ing these appar­ent “positives”…the assas­sins could count on receiv­ing ben­e­fits such as paid hol­i­days, spe­cial courses abroad, pro­mo­tions and pay raises.

    While the leaked cable suggests that the embassy was unaware of Montoya’s connection to these abuses, the phe­nom­e­non of false pos­i­tives was hardly unknown to Amer­i­can intel­li­gence offi­cers and Colom­bian offi­cials, which had been tracking these developments for at least fif­teen years—this accord­ing to recently released documents obtained by the National Secu­rity Archive. And though the inci­dence of extra­ju­di­cial killings increased dur­ing Uribe’s term in office, few accuse Uribe him­self of any first­hand knowl­edge con­cern­ing these cases.

    Which makes the second cable from Bogota that came to light the same day so interesting. In November 2008, right after Montoya resigned his post amidst a story of accusations and investigations, recently arrived Ambassador William Brownfield banged out a report noting that

    Montoya stepped down less than a week after President Uribe’s dismissal of 27 military officers–including two division and three brigade commanders–for their roles in the disappearance and subsequent murders of young men from Soacha and Antioquia. Montoya had been the subject of multiple human rights complaints during his tenure, including alleged abuses committed in Medellin’s poorer neighborhoods during Operation Orion, collusion with paramilitaries, and demanding “body count” as a measure of operational success.

    Colombian press reported statements by Senator Patrick Leahy calling Montoya’s departure a “long overdue and positive step.” Leahy said Montoya “shares responsibility for widespread and systematic abuses by the Colombian military.” Montoya’s recent military successes include the rescue of hostages in Operation Jaque. Some believed he would be a likely successor to Armed Forces Commander General Freddy Padilla de Leon.

    According to the cable, instead of sending a message that Montoya’s human rights abuses would not be tolerated by his administration, Uribe appointed the commander’s protégé—himself no darling of the human rights community—to the post.


    For any trolls lurking who might see this article, the Senator who seriously disliked Montoya was a DEMOCRAT. Right-wing Americans love people like Montoya. Montoya is a war criminal, of course.

    US-led sanctions on Venezuela "devastating" to human rights, says UN report

    By Stefano Pozzebon and Caitlin Hu, CNN

    Updated 7:17 PM ET, Fri February 12, 2021

    (CNN)A United Nations Special Rapporteur has issued a scathing report on the international pressure campaign on Venezuela, calling on the United States, United Kingdom and European Union to lift "devastating" economic sanctions.

    The comments conclude a 12-day trip in the country by Alina Douhan, Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures. Speaking in Caracas on Friday, she said foreign sanctions "constitute violations of international law" and have exacerbated Venezuela's economic crisis with "ineffective and insufficient" carve-outs for humanitarian issues.
    Her preliminary report, released Friday, painted a grim picture of a nation trapped with insufficient food or electricity, water rationing and little or no access to medicines and vaccines.

    Venezuela's state-controlled economy began to decline in 2014 with falling oil prices and has been corroded by mismanagement and corruption. By the time the US first imposed broad economic sanctions in 2017, Venezuela already had the highest inflation in the world and was experiencing chronic shortages of basic goods.

    However, Douhan's report emphasizes that existing "calamities" were exacerbated by "unilateral sanctions increasingly imposed by the United States, the European Union and other countries."
    Such sanctions, she said, wield "a devastating effect...on the broad scope of human rights, especially the right to food, right to health, right to life, right to education and right to development."

    . . .

    The impact of trade sanctions is particularly felt today in the Venezuelan countryside, where agricultural activities have all but stopped since imports of diesel fuel dried up. Venezuela is still capable of refining limited amounts of normal gasoline but cannot refine diesel, used in heavy trucks and agricultural machinery. Many farmers have been forced to leave their fields unattended as their machinery stood still.
    Douhan was particularly critical of sanctions directed at Venezuelan oil exports. Because Venezuela depends on oil exports, a US-imposed embargo since early 2019 has effectively strangled the entire economy and hamstrung any policy solutions.
    She also called on the US, the UK and Portugal to release frozen Venezuelan foreign assets -- estimated at $6 billion -- so that Maduro's government can purchase supplies needed to confront the Covid-19 pandemic.


    The Media Myth of 'Once Prosperous' and Democratic Venezuela Before Chavez

    AUGUST 26, 2021


    The following piece is adapted from the authors’ new book, Extraordinary Threat: The US Empire, the Media and 20 Years of Coup Attempts in Venezuela, published by Monthly Review Press.

    In his State of the Union address on February 6, 2019, Donald Trump said:

    We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom—and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.

    Trump’s ridiculous comment was not considered controversial, because the Western media, including the anti-Trump outlets like the New York Times, have spent many years conveying a lie: that Venezuela had been very prosperous and democratic until Hugo Chávez, and then his successor Nicolás Maduro, came along and ruined everything. If readers believe that, then they may indeed wonder, “Why shouldn’t the US government help Venezuelans return to that prosperous state?”

    But this attitude is the result of common deceptions about Venezuela’s economic history, and it ignores how the rise of Chávez actually brought democratic reform, not regression, to Venezuela. The story the Western media tell should instead make people wonder how Chavismo could have become the dominant political force if everything had once been wonderful in Venezuela.


    Bolsonaro Is Criminalizing the Brazilian Left


    With the help of liberals and centrists, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro has politicized the military and the courts to hold onto power. For Brazil’s establishment, authoritarianism is preferable to socialism.

    President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro during a speech in Brasilia, Brazil, 2021. (Andressa Anholete / Getty Images)

    Throughout his time in office, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has taken many pages from Donald Trump’s playbook. The most recent: the right-wing demagogue has repeatedly claimed that his opponents have rigged the electoral system, and that unless the country moves to a paper ballot, he will not recognize the legitimacy of a defeat. Although Brazil’s congress has managed to block this proposal, the authoritarianism behind Bolsonaro’s effort to change the law should worry us all.

    Threats, intimidation, censorship, and criminalization have been the tools with which Bolsonaro has exercised power over individuals and organizations critical of his government. In the lead up to the vote, Bolsonaro attempted to drum up popular support for the electoral reform by staging a military parade in front of the Federal Congress in Brasília. Close ties between military and political leadership have been a hallmark of Bolsonaro’s authoritarianism since the start of his tenure.

    At times, the president has attempted to leverage his connections to the military in ways that have come close to parody. For instance, in March of this year, Bolsonaro ordered supersonic fighter jets to fly over Brazil’s Supreme Court and shatter the building’s windows as a show of force. The president eventually abandoned the plan but not before high-ranking members of the army, navy, and air force quit in protest.

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