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Judi Lynn

Judi Lynn's Journal
Judi Lynn's Journal
December 29, 2023

Caribbean Matters: Democratic Rep. Nydia Velzquez calls for an end to the Monroe Doctrine

Denise Oliver Velez, author
by Denise Oliver Velez for Community Contributors Team
Thursday, December 28, 2023 at 6:59:13a CST

The United States has had a checkered and often ugly history in policies toward and relationships with our Caribbean and Latin American neighbors, going back to our birth as a nation. The Monroe Doctrine, crafted by President James Monroe, a founding father who was also a major slaveholder, and expanded by Theodore Roosevelt in his 1905 Corollary, has shaped the history of U.S. invasions and interventions up to this day.

Before Congress shut down for its year-end break, I was elated to see that Democratic Rep. Nydia Velázquez of New York has raised the issue of ending that age-old policy via a resolution co-sponsored by Reps. Greg Casar of Texas, Jesus G. "Chuy" Garcia and Delia C. Ramirez of Illinois, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

The resolution has been virtually ignored by the U.S. media.

. . .

The Resolution text:

Calling for the annulment of the Monroe Doctrine and the development of a “New Good Neighbor” policy in order to foster improved relations and deeper, more effective cooperation between the United States and our Latin American and Caribbean neighbors.

Whereas, 200 years ago, President James Monroe announced that the United States Government would actively oppose any interference by European powers in the affairs of independent Latin American and Caribbean countries “for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny”;

Whereas, over time, this policy, referred to as the “Monroe Doctrine”, came to be interpreted by many United States policymakers as a mandate for United States interference in the affairs of Latin American and Caribbean countries in order to protect and promote United States economic and political interests, irrespective of tangible threats posed by foreign powers;

Whereas following a period of western expansion of the United States, resulting in the massive forced displacement and genocide of Native peoples who originally inhabited much of North America, United States political and business leaders took an increasingly active interest in the acquisition of raw materials and in investment opportunities in other parts of the Western Hemisphere;

Whereas, after annexing the territory of Texas, the United States invaded Mexico militarily in 1846 and, after defeating the Mexican army and occupying Mexico City, acquired 55 percent of Mexico’s territory through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed in 1848;

Whereas, in 1898, the United States invaded Puerto Rico and Cuba during the Spanish-American War and continues to maintain control of Puerto Rico as well as a piece of territory in Guantánamo, Cuba, to this day;

Whereas, from 1898 to 1934, the United States conducted military interventions in Cuba, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, known as the “Banana Wars”, in order to advance American financial interests that often came at the expense of United States support for dictatorships and flagrant human rights violations;

Whereas, in 1904, President Teddy Roosevelt established the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, whereby the United States could intervene to ensure the protection of United States interests and those of foreign creditors in the region, and declared that the United States could exercise “international police power” in “flagrant cases of such wrongdoing and impotence”;

Whereas, in 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced the establishment of a “Good Neighbor” policy toward the region that sought to emphasize nonintervention, noninterference, and trade in contrast with the previous policy of using military force to advance United States interests;

Whereas, in 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act which created the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and authorized the agency to begin covert action in the region;

Whereas, in 1953, following Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz’s actions targeting United States corporation United Fruit Company, President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized the CIA to begin Operation PBSuccess, a multimillion-dollar project investing in “psychological warfare and political action” that led to the coup against President Arbenz in 1954;

Whereas, in 1961, the United States covertly financed opposition leaders and began seeking military leaders to support the eventual 1964 coup against Brazilian President Joao Goulart which resulted in a 21-year military dictatorship in Brazil;

Whereas the Organization of American States (OAS), headquartered in Washington, DC, and funded in large part by the United States Government, remained largely silent and inactive with regard to the many egregious abuses perpetrated by United States-backed rightwing dictatorships during the decades of the Cold War;

Whereas, in 1962, the United States imposed a full embargo on Cuba, still in place today, which led to tens of billions of dollars in capital losses for the island country;

Whereas following the election of Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1970, United States President Richard Nixon directed the CIA to spread propaganda aimed at preventing Allende from taking power, and later, actively worked with and supported Chilean military leaders that carried out the 1973 coup of President Allende resulting in a 15-year-long military dictatorship in which at least 40,000 people were tortured and more than 3,000 killed;

Whereas, from 1975 to 1980, the United States actively supported Operation Condor, a coordinated campaign of political repression and state terrorism that saw the United States work closely with military governments in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay to help kidnap, torture, and kill people who had left their home countries in exile;

Whereas following a regional debt crisis sparked in part by historic Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) vastly expanded its lending portfolio in Latin America;

Whereas the IMF, whose largest shareholder is the United States, promoted austerity, deregulation, and other structural reforms that resulted in stagnant economic growth in much of Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s, following two decades of strong economic growth;

Whereas, in 1983, under the false pretense that the safety of 600 United States medical students in Grenada was under threat, President Ronald Reagan authorized the military invasion of the island country, a move condemned as a “flagrant violation of international law” by the United Nations General Assembly;

Whereas, in the 1980s, the Reagan administration supported security forces in Guatemala that perpetrated a genocide against Mayan indigenous peoples, according to the Commission of Historical Clarification; death squads in El Salvador; rightwing paramilitary militias (Contras) in Nicaragua; and participated in efforts to coverup egregious crimes perpetrated by Central American security forces, such as the massacre of 6 Jesuit priests and 2 other unarmed civilians by an elite United States-backed battalion in El Salvador;

Whereas the United States-backed “dirty wars” of Central America triggered a major wave of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua to the United States in the 1980s and early 1990s;

Whereas the CIA covertly financed units of the Haitian military, whose officers led a violent coup d’état in 1991 that overthrew the country’s first democratically elected President, and then continued to support individuals involved in death squads that targeted supporters of the ousted President;

Whereas, beginning in 2000, the Bush administration blocked development and humanitarian assistance to the Haitian Government and provided financial support to opposition groups culminating in another coup against the elected President in 2004;

Whereas, starting in 2000, the United States provided billions of dollars of funding to Plan Colombia, a joint counter narcotics and counter insurgency initiative which resulted in thousands of civilian casualties, massive human rights abuses perpetrated by military and paramilitary forces, and the forced displacement of millions of mostly Afro-Colombian and indigenous civilians, while failing to reduce the production and trafficking of cocaine;

Whereas the United States-backed drug war, along with economic displacement attributable in part to United States-sponsored free trade agreements, resulted in another major wave of migration from Central America and Mexico during the first two decades of the 2000s;

Whereas, from 1941 to 2003, United States Navy operations in Vieques, Puerto Rico, caused the death of civilians and high rates of lethal illnesses to the population;

Whereas, in 2002, the United States Government provided funding and other support to political actors that carried out a short-lived coup against the democratically elected Government of Venezuela, and subsequently expressed support for the coup;

Whereas, following the 2009 coup in Honduras, the United States continued to support the country’s illegitimate government by providing, between 2009 and 2016, an estimated $200,000,000 in military and police aid to Honduran security forces engaged in violent extrajudicial killings and other human rights crimes targeting protesters, activists, land rights advocates, and other civilians opposed to the regime;

Whereas in a 2013 address to the OAS, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the “Monroe Doctrine era is over … The relationship that we seek and that we have worked hard to foster is not about a United States declaration about how and when it will intervene in the affairs of other American states. It’s about all of our countries viewing one another as equals, sharing responsibilities, cooperating on security issues, and adhering not to doctrine, but to the decisions that we make as partners to advance the values and the interests that we share.”;

Whereas, in 2014, Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announce the thawing of and eventual normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba;

Whereas, in 2017, President Donald Trump threatened to invade Venezuela militarily and imposed broad unilateral sanctions against the country;

Whereas, in 2019, United States National Security Advisor John Bolton announced, “Today we proudly proclaim for all to hear: the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well.”;

Whereas the migration of Cubans and Venezuelans to the United States has increased dramatically since the imposition (and reimposition) of broad economic sanctions against these countries;

Whereas, in late 2019, a military coup was staged against the elected Government of Bolivia following unfounded claims of electoral fraud made by an OAS Electoral Observation Mission, while the subsequent coup government received support from the Trump administration and OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro;

Whereas President Trump reversed the Obama administration’s policy of normalization with Cuba, imposed new sanctions, and, as one of his last acts in office, put Cuba back on State Sponsors of Terrorism list without justification;

Whereas the United States Government has failed to apologize for its past support for military coups in the region;

Whereas Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions found in United States-backed free trade agreements allow multinational corporations to sue governments before panels of corporate lawyers based on claims that regulatory frameworks, including those designed to protect workers and the environment, will lead to future losses, and whereas thus far Latin American and Caribbean countries have been sued a total of 346 times under ISDS provisions, more than any other region of the world;

Whereas a United States-based company has filed an ISDS claim against the State of Honduras for nearly $11,000,000,000 in alleged future losses, more than a third of the country’s yearly economic output, as a result of the Honduran Government’s announcement that the company can no longer continue to operate as a ZEDE, a territorial area largely governed and controlled by private investors developed under former President Juan Orlando Hernández, who is now awaiting trial in the United States on charges for drug trafficking; and

Whereas President Biden has expressed his strong opposition to ISDS provisions and to their inclusion in future trade agreements: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that—

(1) in order to send a strong signal to the region that the United States Government wishes to turn the page on a long era of political and military interference in the region, the Department of State should formally confirm that the Monroe Doctrine is no longer a part of United States policy toward Latin American and the Caribbean;

(2) in place of the Monroe Doctrine, the Federal Government should develop a “New Good Neighbor” policy, designed to foster improved relations and deepen more effective cooperation with all the countries of the hemisphere, with measures that include—

(A) developing, jointly with the Department of the Treasury, the United States Trade Representative, the Department of State, and the United States Agency for International Development, a new approach to promoting development based on a respect for the integrity of sovereign economic development plans of the region’s governments, support for equitable and sustainable economic transitions through technology transfers and new forms of climate finance that prioritize grantmaking and concessional lending;

(B) terminating all unilateral economic sanctions imposed through Executive orders, and working with Congress to terminate all unilateral sanctions, such as the Cuba embargo, mandated by law;

(C) working with Congress to develop legislation that triggers an automatic review of bilateral assistance to a government whenever there is an extraconstitutional transfer of power, until the United States and a majority of regional governments determine that the new leadership is legitimate under that country’s constitution;

(D) proceeding with the prompt declassification of all United States Government archives that relate to past coups d’état, dictatorships, and periods in the history of Latin American and Caribbean countries that are characterized by a high rate of human rights crimes perpetrated by security forces;

(E) working with Latin American and Caribbean governments on a far-reaching reform of the Organization of American States to—

(i) ensure accountability surrounding any potentially unethical or criminal activities in which the Secretary General or other senior officials have been involved;

(ii) ensure full transparency surrounding the financial and personnel decisions taken by the Secretary General;

(iii) establish an ombudsman’s office that is fully independent from the Secretary General;

(iv) ensure that the Office of American States electoral observation division is independent from the Secretary General and appointed by a majority of Office of American States members; and

(v) ensure that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its rapporteurs are financially independent from the Secretary General’s Office;

(F) working with Congress to secure major, recurrent contributions to the Amazon Fund;

(G) supporting democratic reforms to the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and other international financial institutions to ensure that the developing countries of the region are able to play an equitable role in shaping the lending and grantmaking policies of those institutions;

(H) supporting regular issuances of International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights to help avert balance of payments difficulties and to promote greater fiscal space for regional governments, thereby allowing them to expand investments in health care, education, economic development, and in climate adaptation and mitigation programs; and

(I) supporting the creation of a Loss and Damage Trust, under the auspices of the United Nations, to support climate action in developing countries, and working with Congress to secure major, recurrent contributions to this fund; and

(3) the United States should work with regional bodies such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), and other groups to increase cooperation around the major challenges of our time, including the response to climate change, inequality, arms trafficking, tax evasion, illicit financial flows (particularly those derived from drug trafficking), the protection of workers’ rights, and promoting the rights of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendent communities.

December 27, 2023

How Biden's Economy Puts Money in Workers' Pockets

DECEMBER 26, 2023


Libbi Urban’s co-workers broke into applause at the union hall last year when they learned that their new contract with Cleveland-Cliffs not only increased wages by a whopping 20 percent but provided greater work-life balance and even enabled them to retire earlier than planned.

They’d spent years fighting for some of the improvements. But this time, they wielded extra bargaining power because of the hot economy that President Joe Biden engineered with bold investments and a deep commitment to working people.

Workers in aluminum, auto, steel, tire, mining, paper, heavy equipment, service, health care, and package delivery, among other industries, all racked up historic contract gains as the economy exploded under the current administration.

Biden inherited a nation battered by COVID-19. But under his steady leadership, America turned the tide.

His Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) unleashed $1.2 trillion to upgrade transportation, communications, and energy networks with union labor and union-made materials and parts. His CHIPS and Science Act catalyzed billions more to boost the production of semiconductors and rebuild crucial supply chains.


December 27, 2023

'DEA KNEW' US government 'WAS told' of gun smuggling ahead of failed Venezuela coup by ex-Green Berets

Kassidy Vavra, News Reporter
Published: 12:27 ET, May 7 2020 Updated: 13:46 ET, May 7 2020

THE US government knew weapons were being smuggled to training camps ahead of a failed Venezuela coup led by a former Green Beret, officials told AP.

US officials earlier this week denied knowledge of the “Rambo mercenary plot” led by Jordan Goudreau, 43, to kill or capture President Nicolas Maduro.

Ex-Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, who was allegedly involved in a plan to capture Venezuela's president Credit: Instagram

Weapons reportedly seized that were being smuggled into jungle training campsCredit: Government of Venezuela

Jordan Goudreau, 43, is seen in footage of the president’s campaign rallies in 2018 wearing an earpiece.
However, the DEA was reportedly tipped off about the smuggling earlier this year.

The DEA failed to act on the tip, had no idea who Goudreau was, and did not open a formal probe, the officials told AP.

The agency assumed the weapons were being sent to leftist rebels or criminal gangs in Colombia and passed it on to the Department of Homeland Security.

The report that the US government were informed came after Venezuela arrested two US mercenaries over a plot “to assassinate Maduro.”

December 27, 2023

A couple of prisoners Venezuela gave to Washington had been arrested trying to assassinate Maduro, Trump-backed.

Trump denies ties to Americans linked to Venezuela ‘coup plot’
Two US citizens among dozens arrested by Venezuela after a beach invasion allegedly aimed at overthrowing Maduro.

6 May 2020

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the United States government had nothing to do with an alleged incursion into Venezuela that landed two US citizens behind bars in the crisis-stricken South American country.

Trump said he had just learned of the detention of the pair, accused by Venezuela of being mercenaries. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said they were part of an operation to kill him that was backed by neighbouring Colombia and the US.

“Whatever it is, we’ll let you know,” Trump told reporters in Washington, DC, before departing from the White House to Arizona. “But it has nothing to do with our government.”

Maduro said: “The United States government is fully and completely involved in this defeated raid” and praised members of a fishing village for cornering one group and netting the “professional American mercenaries”.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper echoed Trump’s comments later on Tuesday, saying “The United States government had nothing to do with what’s happened in Venezuela in the last few days.”


December 27, 2023

How the Campaign to Free Venezuelan Political Prisoner Alex Saab Succeeded

by Roger D. Harris / December 21st, 2023

Alex Saab was freed from US captivity in what Venezuelan Prof. Maria Victor Paez described as “a triumph of Venezuelan diplomacy.” The diplomat had been imprisoned for trying to bring humanitarian supplies to Venezuela in legal international trade but in circumvention of Washington’s illegal economic coercive measures, also known as sanctions.

Negotiated prisoner exchange

In a prisoner exchange, Venezuela released ten US citizens and some other nationals to free Alex Saab after his over three years of imprisonment.

Saab’s plane landed in Venezuela on December 20. He was tearfully greeted by his family, friends, and Venezuela’s primera combatiente Cilia Flores, wife of the president. Shortly after, President Nicolás Maduro made a triumphal public address with Alex Saab at his side at the presidential palace.

Unlike Maduro, US President Biden made no such public address with his releasees beside him. Had he done so, he would have had to stand with “Fat Leonard” Francis, who had escaped US captivity after being convicted in a major US Navy corruption case implicating some sixty admirals. The US badly wanted him back in their custody. He knew too much about officials in high places.

The White House has so far declined to reveal the full list of those released. John Kirby, US Security Council spokesperson, tweeted, “Sometimes tough decisions have to be made to rescue Americans overseas.” Among the others released were mercenaries Luke Deman and Airan Berry, who were captured after the “Bay of Piglets” attempt to assassinate the Venezuelan president.

December 26, 2023

What Lies Beneath the Vatican of the Zapotecs?

An archaeological expedition in Mexico seeks what’s left of the sprawling, centuries-old catacombs hidden below the ruins of Mitla.

A caretaker is halfway descended down stairs in a square hole in a courtyard area of Zapotec ruins surrounded by stone steps and walls on a bright sunny day.
Ramiro Ruiz, a caretaker of the archaeological grounds of San Pablo Villa de Mitla in southern Mexico, descends into
a tomb belonging to the site’s ancient Zapotec ruins.

By Franz LidzPhotographs by Meghan Dhaliwal
Reporting from San Pablo Villa de Mitla, Mexico

Dec. 23, 2023
Leer en español

The ruins of Mitla sit about 30 miles from Oaxaca in the mountains of southern Mexico, built on a high valley floor as a gateway between the world of the living and the dead. The site was established in roughly 200 A.D. as a fortified village, and then as a burial ground by the Zapotecs, the so-called Cloud People, who settled in the region around 1,500 B.C.

Five main sets of ruins are scattered throughout the small modern tourist hub that is San Pablo Villa de Mitla. Some are royal houses and ceremonial centers featuring central plazas. One is a crumbling pyramid, and another is a domed Spanish church with adjoining Zapotec courtyards. Elaborate mosaics cover the walls, meandering geometric friezes resembling carved lace; “petrified weaving” is how Aldous Huxley described them in his 1934 travelogue, “Beyond the Mexique Bay.” Traces of color linger on masonry that was once slathered in bright red paint made by grinding cochinillas, wood lice that live on nopal cactuses.

Spanish chroniclers christened Mitla the Vatican of the Zapotec religion, and its wonders were said to continue underground. The Zapotecs, known for their metaphysical connection to rain, thunder and lightning, believed that they could commune with gods and ancestral spirits in an earthen cavity below their city, which led to a netherworld known as Lyobaa, the “place of rest.”

In 1674, Francisco de Burgoa, a Dominican friar, wrote an account, based largely on church documents, of Spanish missionaries who had explored a sprawling labyrinth of tunnels and burial chambers beneath the ruins of a monumental palace. A century earlier, secular clergy had blocked the doorways to the sunken complex with bricks and mortar, presumably either to keep the masses out or the ghosts in.

“The Spanish believed that demons performed black magic in the underground tombs,” said Denisse Argote, a researcher at the National Institute of History and Anthropology in Mexico. In September, Dr. Argote and a team of 13 geophysicists, engineers and archaeologists spent a week at Mitla for the second season of an ambitious exploration to determine what remains of the Zapotec’s long-abandoned catacombs. In the still, steady calm of morning, they lugged around enough electronic ganglia to jump-start the Bride of Frankenstein.

Two researchers in gray-tan shirts and black hats look at a display screen on the top of sophisticated equipment attached to what looks like the push-handle of a lawnmower on the grounds of an archaeological site.
Manuel Ortiz Osio, left, a graduate student with Project Lyobaa, and Gerardo Cifuentes Nava, a geophysicist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, worked with ground-penetrating radar at the Mitla site in September.



December 25, 2023

The Modern-Day Nativity Scene: A Concertina Wire Christmas

DECEMBER 25, 2023


I am at the Stanton Street Bridge between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, where one year ago I watched groups of people wade through the shallow water to “pedir posada,” the Spanish-language term used for Joseph and Mary asking for refuge in Bethlehem 2,023 years ago. This year, there are no people below me, at least not right now, and the Rio Grande is a greenish, contaminated trickle that will dry up completely just east of El Paso, and then be replenished by the Rio Conchos 200 miles downriver in Presidio, Texas. On the other side of the bridge, you can see that the holiday season is in full gear as the line of people entering the United States coming from Ciudad Juárez extends up to the top of the bridge, exactly above the river. Surrounding the river are the props of the modern-day nativity scene: coiling razor wire, 30-foot walls, Texas Army National Guard troops and their armored jeeps, armed U.S. Border Patrol agents in their green-striped trucks, drone surveillance, camera surveillance, biometric systems. Partially, this is the result of the most money ever put toward federal border and immigration enforcement (as we reported this year, 2023 was $29.8 billion, a record number, which adds to the more than $400 billion since 2003). Partially, this is because Texas’s spending on Operation Lone Star, courtesy of Governor Greg Abbott and his right-wing, un-Christian justification machine, which has added up to $4.5 billion over the last two years. And this has been the response of the United States for people “pidiendo posada” for 30 years since Operation Blockade/Hold the Line began a border-building spree that has not ceased: there is no room at the inn.

I think of that cold night on the ground in a stable that is depicted in so many places this time of year as I walk past shivering refugees in heavy coats sitting outside against the Sagrado Corazón church in El Paso a few blocks from the border. I am reminded of the hundreds upon hundreds of people arriving to the Arizona border, as Melissa reported on earlier this week. I am reminded of the young Guatemalan mother I met myself at the border wall in late November as she tended to her two-month-old under the 30-foot border wall. They had been waiting there for two days. The infant was sick, and the nights were cold. The rest of the group, from the coast of Guatemala, built a fire to keep warm. When were the wise men going to arrive, the kings, the angels? The humanitarians did arrive, as they do, day after day (see Melissa’s reporting on that). I am reminded of being in Bethlehem myself a few years back, visiting the Aida refugee camp of Palestinians, which was surrounded by a tall concrete wall that had an embedded “pill box,” or a tower where snipers could point their assault rifles located mere miles from that stable where Mary gave birth on the cold ground. The Christmas story is playing out all around us, as lawyer and anthropologist Petra Molnar pointed out for us just yesterday. Where Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus had to flee Bethlehem when King Herod started to wield authoritarian power, the long trek to Egypt fleeing persecution is happening right now, throughout the world, such as in the Darién Gap in Colombia and Panama, as discussed in Melissa’s two interviews with anthropologist Caitlyn Yates—one podcast in December, one in August. Or the equivalent might be in the Mediterranean, as we discussed with Lauren Markham last June after a ship capsized near Greece, killing 600 people, or the countless places across the world where people struggle with a huge enforcement apparatus, which Anna Lekas Miller wrote about in her book Love Across Borders. We have spent the year doing our best to give you insight into what is happening on our borders.

I love this time of year, December, because things start to slow down, the frenetic pace starts to wane. For me, this becomes a more reflective period. Yet this modern Christmas story is anything but reflective. On television sets, commercials remind us of the holiday spirit (and to buy as much as we can), and movies have heartwarming tales of people coming together. Yet hospitality is scoffed at in words and policy, no matter what president, no matter what political party. Melissa has reported time and time again about the dehumanizing rhetoric; earlier this week, she wrote about a Fox News reporter talking about invaders and invasions and “credible fear thresholds.” This discourse abounds, with stories of people “taking advantage of our asylum system,” and claims that the United States can’t absorb any more people. Did Mary and Joseph hear similar soundbites on their journeys?

In these stories, we rarely hear about U.S. foreign policy, both historical and current. Take, for example, the Monroe Doctrine’s effect in Latin America: the centuries of upholding dictatorships, training generals, arming militaries—and, lately, creating border guards—and influencing politics, as well as the economic domination, in which corporate power and extractive industries enjoy a borderless world and can travel anywhere and take anything they want (see NAFTA, see CAFTA), from precious resources to cheap labor. Meanwhile, regular people—sometimes the very people displaced by corporate power—face harsher and harsher border regimes that extend throughout the continent. The same thing the Greg Abbotts of the world accuse undocumented people of doing here, corporate power is doing there. Studies have continually shown how a migrant labor force bolsters the U.S. economy in myriad, even critical ways (see, for example, the film A Day without a Mexican), yet border crossers get blamed for the big societal problems as if they had the power to set policy in corporate board rooms and in Washington. In the halls of power, debates stagnate over whether people are refugees or economic migrants—creating more divisions between the people most affected by the entrenched borders.


December 23, 2023

US Media Suppressed Their Government's Role in Ousting Brazil's Government

DECEMBER 20, 2023


In a new peer-reviewed academic article in Latin American Perspectives (11/19/23), “Anticorruption and Imperialist Blind Spots: The Role of the United States in Brazil’s Long Coup,” Sean T. Mitchell, Rafael Ioris, Kathy Swart, Bryan Pitts and I prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the US Department of Justice was a key actor in what we call Brazil’s “long coup.” This was the period from 2014, beginning with the lead up to the illegitimate 2016 impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, to the November 2019 release of then-former, now-current President Lula da Silva from political imprisonment.

“For over half a century, intervening against democratically elected governments has been only half the story,” we wrote; “the second half involves justifying, minimizing or denying US involvement.” The article criticized US scholars on Latin America for ignoring a significant body of evidence of this involvement. It called on Latin Americanists to return to the anti-imperialist tradition that established their field as a leading source of informed criticism of US foreign policy.

In this article, I will make the same call to US journalists who lived in Brazil during this period who remained silent about their government’s role in removing Brazil’s front-running presidential candidate in the 2018 elections, opening the door for the right-wing extremist No. 2 candidate, Jair Bolsonaro.

For nearly five years, Brazil’s huge anti-corruption investigation, called Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato in Portuguese), received glowing coverage in US media (FAIR.org, 3/8/21). Articles treated investigation and trial judge Sergio Moro as a heroic, anti-corruption crusader, rarely challenging the public prosecutors’ official narrative. Media failed to question judicial overreach, even when prosecutors did things like illegally wiretap former President Lula da Silva’s defense team’s law offices (Consultor Jurídico, 12/19/19).

This narrative began to crack in 2019, thanks to a long, slowly released series of articles in the Intercept, based on a huge archive of hacked Telegram chats revealed by hacker Walter Neto Delgatti. The texts showed collusion between the Operation Car Wash taskforce and Judge Sergio Moro, and revealed, among other things, that they knew they didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute Lula in a fair trial (Intercept, 6/9/19).


December 22, 2023

Panamanians remember 1989 US invasion and continue to demand justice and accountability

Dec. 20 is a national day of mourning in Panama in memory of the victims of the 1989 US invasion of the country. At the time, it was the largest invasion since Vietnam and the first after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the US, it was heralded as liberating the country from dictator Manuel Noriega, a former US ally. But in Panama, many saw it as something much different. The victims of the US action are still demanding justice.

The World
December 20, 2023 · 11:30 AM EST
By Michael Fox

In the poor Panama City neighborhood of El Chorrillo, the wounds of the 1989 US invasion are still written on the walls.

“Do you see this? This remains as a memory of the shots fired,” El Chorrillo resident Efrain Guerrero said. He points to the bullet hole left in the wall from the invasion, down the street from his house. Guerrero has dedicated recent years to telling the story of El Chorrillo’s past. “Right here. There was a downed helicopter," he said.

Overnight on Dec. 20, 1989, nearly 30,000 US soldiers attacked positions across Panama. The neighborhood of El Chorrillo was ground zero.

One video, shot by a US soldier during the invasion, shows flames engulfing homes as planes and helicopters fly overhead. El Chorrillo surrounded the main military barracks for the Panama Defense Forces. When US soldiers attacked, they leveled entire city blocks.

. . .

Many were buried in mass graves.


~ ~ ~

The Panama Deception


The Panama Deception
is a 1992 American documentary film, critical of the 1989 United States invasion of Panama.[1]

The film was directed by Barbara Trent, written and edited by David Kasper, and narrated by actress Elizabeth Montgomery. It was a production of the Empowerment Project, and won the 1992 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The film recounts the events which led to the invasion, the death and destruction caused by the invasion, and the aftermath. The film is critical of the actions of the United States Armed Forces. It also highlights the media bias within the United States, showing events that were unreported or systematically misreported, including downplaying of the number of civilian casualties.[2] The film also argued that the true purpose of the invasion was to prevent the then-scheduled retrocession of the Panama Canal Zone to Panama as agreed in the Torrijos–Carter Treaties, rather than the stated justification of removing Manuel Noriega from power due to his indictment in U.S. courts on racketeering and drugs trafficking charges. Panama ultimately gained full control over the Canal Zone on December 31, 1999, fulfilling the terms of the Torrijos-Carter agreements.

The film states that the U.S. government invaded Panama in order to destroy the PDF, the Panama Defense Forces, which were perceived as a threat to U.S. control over Panama, and install a government which would be friendly to U.S. interests. The film includes footage of what are claimed to be mass graves uncovered after the American troops had withdrawn and footage of burned-down neighborhoods, refers to the alleged use of experimental weapons including supposed secret laser weapons, and presents depictions of some of the 20,000 refugees who fled the fighting.

December 22, 2023

Schutz's Angels and the Other Christmas Oratorio

DECEMBER 22, 2023


Matthias Grünewald, Nativity Scene from the Isenheim Altarpiece, Unterlinden Museum, c. 1515.

Forget the Christmas tree and Saint Nic’s suit, it is music that marks Germany’s greatest contributions to the holiday. Aside from any number of carols, there is the ubiquitous Messiah, like Handel himself, to be thought of as a Teutonic export. Long since migrated from its original Springtime calendar setting, the overdone oratorio is a Christmas interloper now overshadowing all other classical yuletide offerings, even Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

If you’ve had your fill of these classical chestnuts this holiday season, turn your listening attention to Heinrich Schütz’s Christmas Story (Historia der Geburt Jesu Christi). This revered master of the German baroque was born exactly a century before Bach and Handel and lived almost long enough to overlap with their births. Schütz’s influence on Lutheran music and education was pervasive and felt in innumerable ways by both Bach and Handel. Standard music histories often claim that Schütz’s music “culminates” in the works of Bach and Handel. But this progressive view of history is obliterated by the breadth and profundity of Schütz’s creations. They are their own zenith.

Whereas the oratorios by Bach and Handel both last a good two hours, Schütz’s Christmas Story comes in at around forty minutes. That duration speaks to the economy with which Schütz’s music sets its familiar text. His Christmas tale is packed with vibrant vocal and instrumental sonorities and literally star-studded, images. It radiates warmth and wonder like a Nativity scene by the greatest German colorist painter of the early sixteenth century, Matthias Grünewald.

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