2009/11/8

美國費城交通系統工人大罷工要求加薪

宋文靜
國際在線
2009年11月4日

據《華盛頓時報》3日報道,美國費城最大的交通系統工會於當日舉行了大罷工,平均每日因此取消的公交運輸將多達928000次。

罷工於3日凌晨三時啟動,整個城市的巴士、電車和地鐵都被迫停運,上班族們措手不及,該罷工還影響了周邊郊區的客運。

從今年三月起,該工會名下近五千多名司機、操作員和機械師等公交系統員工都在沒有協約保障的情況下值勤。他們平均年薪只有52000美金,目前正力圖將其上調4個百分點,並希望能夠免交占工資1%的醫療保險。而運營費城交通系統的賓夕法尼亞東南交通局(簡稱:SEPTA)發言人則稱,五年來薪酬已經提高了11.5%,退休金也有所提升。

上週末,2009年度世界棒球大賽(World Series)的第三、四站比賽恰在費城舉行,由費城人(Phillies)主場迎戰洋基隊。該工會於10月25日即已投票決定舉行罷工,並曾威脅於大賽期間進行。但賓夕法尼亞州州長發出警告,如果擅自逾越談判桌採取行動,就要做好承擔後果的準備。因此罷工推遲至比賽結束、轉戰紐約之後。

SEPTA和工會雙方於2日舉行的談判直至深夜才結束。該工會理事長稱,最終之所以仍然發動罷工,是因為談判中雙方都表明已無可讓步。

SEPTA的員工於2005年舉行過長達七天的罷工,1998年的罷工則更是持續了四十天之久。

韓數萬工人抗議新勞動法

張樂
新京報
2009年11月8日

11月7日,韓國首爾,韓國工人面戴口罩在首爾立法機關附近示威,抗議政府實施頗具爭議的新勞動法。

數萬韓國工人7日在首都首爾舉行示威遊行,抗議政府明年計劃開始實施的新勞動法。他們指責李明博政府利用此舉來削弱工會勢力。

韓國政府最近表示,明年初開始實施新勞動法。該勞動法規定,允許每個企業組織多個工會同時禁止企業給全職的工會代表支付工資。這兩項條文已經在韓國社會爭論了十年之久,工會組織對此表示反對,使得新勞動法的實施時間一拖再拖。

7日,上萬名反對政府實施新勞動法的民眾在首爾的立法機關附近舉行集會,抗議政府的決定。媒體稱,不少情緒激動的示威者將頭髮剃光,以表達他們反對新勞動法的決心。

「我們將動員一切可能的手段去阻止政府實施新法,如果有必要,我們將組織全國總罷工。」韓國貿易工會聯盟發言人在示威結束後對媒體如此表示。

韓國貿易工會聯盟大約有90萬成員,是韓國兩大主要工會之一,也是這次示威的組織者。媒體稱,如果他們呼籲會員總罷工的話,韓國社會可能會出現動盪。

這位發言人還說,李明博的保守派政府這樣做的目的,就是為了削弱工會的力量。韓國總統府以及勞工部目前尚沒有對7日的萬人示威活動發表看法。

韓國貿易工會聯盟估計,當天的示威共有15萬人參加,不過警方的統計數字則認為,參加示威的民眾只有6萬人。

儘管示威者情緒激動,並高呼反對政府的口號,但他們並沒有和警方發生衝突,示威遊行以和平方式告終。

2009/10/7

Honduras - 100 Days of Repression and Resistance

Tom Loudon
TruthOut
October 6, 2009
Tom Loudon is co-director of the Quixote Center in Washington, DC.
Today marks 100 days since a military coup was carried out against President Zelaya in Honduras. It also marks 100 days of massive, sustained, nonviolent resistance on the part of the Honduran people who are saying no to this brazen attempt to return to the days of dictators.

photo: It has been 100 days since a military coup was carried out in Honduras. Supporters of the deposed president have faced increasingly draconian measures. (Photo: Yamil Gonzales / flickr)

In the face of uncontainable resistance, the coup regime has employed increasingly draconian measures. Most disturbing includes a resurgence of death squad activity, wholesale suspension of constitutional rights and the criminalization of social protest. Currently, over 80 people are detained and face charges of sedition. Conservative estimates document 14 murders in the last 14 weeks; two of those occurred during the last week.

Two weeks ago, on September 21, President Zelaya suddenly surfaced inside the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa. Tens of thousands of supporters immediately flocked to the Embassy from all over the country to celebrate his return. The coup President Micheletti responded by imposing a 5 PM curfew, which thousands of people ignored, holding an all-night vigil in front of the Embassy. At 5:30 the next morning, police and military attacked the crowd with batons, tear gas, and other weapons. Two people were killed and many were injured, including broken arms and legs. Those arrested were taken to a sports stadium, where they were held for extended periods without food or water.

Twenty-four hour curfews were enforced for several days, making it illegal for anyone but authorized individuals to leave their homes. People responded to the curfew by staging neighborhood-based protests. These, too, were repressed, as police and Army went into neighborhoods, firing tear gas and chasing people down inside the homes where they fled.

Infuriated by Zelaya's return, Micheletti mounted a heavy military cordon around the Brazilian Embassy, cut off lights and water and subjected those inside the Embassy and surrounding areas to "sound terrorism." The government of Brazil protested the use of the long-range acoustic device used to send deafening sound waves and provoke hysteria, and demanded the restoration of electricity and water.

Micheletti then gave the Brazilian government a ten-day ultimatum, after which he promised to invade and capture Zelaya. Brazilian President Lula da Silva responded by reminding Micheletti that such an act on the part of the coup government would be considered an act of war. The president of Brazil also called for an emergency session of the UN Security Council to discuss the crisis in Honduras. Micheletti later recanted on his threats to invade the Embassy and in an apparent attempt at damage control said that he would like to give President Lula "a big hug."

However, in what now appears to have been a targeted attack on individuals inside the Embassy, on Friday, September 25, several people reported similar symptoms: nasal bleeding, blood in stools, coughing up blood and severe throat irritations. It was first suspected that this may have been the result of a chemical weapon, however, symptoms did not affect everyone inside the Embassy. Further investigation suggested that these symptoms may have been caused by a sophisticated experimental weapon called a Maser. Apparently, this weapon sends a microwave beam, similar to a laser beam, that impacts the cell functioning of those exposed to its effects.

On Sunday, September 27, four of the five OAS officials who had come as an advance team to begin a dialogue process were expelled. Later that day, faced with increasing inability to contain mounting protests or to control the country, coup President Micheletti issued an executive decree suspending all fundamental constitutional guarantees for 45 days. Rights suspended include the right to assemble, freedom of expression and freedom of movement. The coup regime also granted itself the right to arrest anyone at any moment without reason or an arrest warrant.

At 5:30 AM the next morning, in what the resistance movement now calls "Operation Silence," troops surrounded and entered Radio Globo and Channel 36, the radio and TV stations with national coverage, and confiscated their equipment. The following day, the coup regime announced the suspension of Radio Globo's operating license, severely limiting national news about what is really happening in the country.

The same day that Honduran media outlets were being raided, an emergency meeting of the OAS on Honduras, scheduled to last one hour, ended ten hours later without reaching consensus, largely due to the intransigent position of the United States. The stalemate resulted from the US insistence that elections be held in November, while most countries in the hemisphere believe that conditions do not exist for free and fair elections in Honduras. Interim representative to the OAS, Lewis Amselem, stated that Zelaya's return was "irresponsible" and had "not served" the diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis resulting from the June 28 coup. Amselem repeated these statements to the press subsequent to the meeting, making it clear that his statements were not just made "in the heat of the moment," but apparently reflect the view of the Obama administration.

Amselem's statements lend support to many who suspect that the State Department continues to be unduly influenced by ultra-conservative forces (inside the Department), who, from the beginning, have supported the coup in Honduras. The failure to actually declare it a coup and lack of serious measures against the putsch government certainly indicate at best an ambiguous position, and, more probably, active support for the coup from within the US State Department.

In this context, pro-coup sectors are calling for a dialogue in the interest of reaching a resolution in order to move forward with the elections scheduled for November 29. On Friday, October 2, the advance team from the OAS was finally allowed into the country. Plans are in place for a high level OAS delegation, including Secretary General Insulza and as many as ten foreign ministers to arrive next Wednesday. It was reported in some media outlets that Ambassador Llorens conducted a meeting last week at the Pomerola Air Base outside of Tegucigalpa with "significant actors," including Secretary General Insulza of the OAS.

A number of informal proposals have already been put forward, including scenarios where neither Micheletti nor Zelaya are leading the country, a permanent seat in Congress for Micheletti, a blanket amnesty for all crimes committed by the coup government and a laundry list of things which are largely unacceptable to the tens of thousands of people who have put their lives on the line to insure that constitutional order be restored in their country. Despite an intense media campaign giving the impression that negotiations are underway, according to informed sources inside the Brazilian Embassy, Zelaya has not been a party to any formal negotiations.

Leaders of the majority of countries in the Hemisphere have stated that conditions do not exist for elections to happen in Honduras in less than two months. The independent party candidate, Carlos H. Reyes, who was attacked by police and had his arm broken, had surgery just this past week, and is far from being able to campaign even if the current state of siege ended tomorrow.

The only viable option to increase the possibility of resolving the crisis in Honduras is a negotiated solution that is acceptable to all parties, followed by a period where some level of normalcy is achieved. Only after this kind of cooling off period is it conceivable to think of holding elections. Elections under current conditions would insure that the regression to military rule, which happened in Honduras on June 28, becomes semi-permanent, and that the resistance and subsequent repression would continue.

2009/9/26

IACHR URGES HONDURAS TO RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF THE PERSONS INSIDE THE EMBASSY OF BRAZIL

Washington, DC, September 25, 2009 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) strongly condemns the operation by agents of the Honduran de facto regime in the area of the Brazil Embassy in Tegucigalpa and urges to respect the human rights of the persons inside the diplomatic building, as well as its inviolability.

According to the information received, security forces of the de facto regime surrounded the Brazilian Embassy and threw unidentified toxic gases, causing intoxications, bleeding, vomiting and dizziness to the persons inside the diplomatic building. The information also indicates that since this operation started this morning, members of the Army have blocked the exit of any person from the Embassy and have prevented doctors from entering, including the International Red Cross.

The IACHR calls urgently on the de facto regime to immediately end this operation and to adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the rights to life, integrity and security of all persons inside the Embassy of Brazil and its surroundings. Moreover, the IACHR urges the de facto authorities to guarantee that doctors are able to enter and provide urgent assistance to the affected persons.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.

2009/9/25

Honduras Updates: Resistance grows as coup regime starts talks

Federico Fuentes, Caracas
Green Left Weekly
September 23,2009

The coup regime in Tegucigalpa is crumbling in the face of growing resistance from Honduran people and international condemnation.

Having seized power in a military coup June 28, the coup regime headed by “president” Robert Micheletti has faced sustained resistance in the streets for three months from the Honduran poor.

However, the situation exploded on September 21 when legitimate President Manuel Zelaya, who was kidnapped at gun point in the co0up and exiled to Costa Rica, stunned the world by announcing he had snuck back into Honduras and was inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.

The dictatorship ordered the police and military to violently repress the thousands who protested outside the Brazilian embassy, as well as the people on the streets across the country. An unknown number of people have been killed, including an eight-year-old girl, and hundreds arrested.

Insurrection
The response of the Honduran poor, determined to see “their” president who had increased the minimum wage by 60% returned to office, was to launch an insurrection in impoverished neighbourhoods.

With street battles raging, and barricades raised, a number of working class neighbourhoods declared themselves “liberated zones”.

Tthe international isolation of the coup regime also worsened when United Nations general-secretary Ban Ki-moon said on September 23 that elections organised by the Micheletti dictatorship would not be “credible” and the UN was withdrawing all assistance (worth US$1.3 million) for a coup regime-organised November 28 poll.

Desperate, the regime has now opened dialogue with Zelaya — something it refused to do for three months.

The resistance plans once again to take to the streets of Tegucigalpa tomorrow (September 25) to demand Zelaya’s reinstatement and the calling of a constituent assembly.

The issue of organising a constituent assembly to redraft the constitution was the detonator for the June 28 coup. That day, a non-binding referendum was meant to be held, asking the people whether they were in favor of a constituent assembly to rewriting the 1982 constitution — put in place by the military dictatorship at the time.

Gilberto Rios, a leader of the National Resistance Front Against the Coup, told Green Left Weekly over the phone from Tegucigalpa: “President Zelaya has meet [today] with a few people from the right wing to see if they could start a process of dialogue.

“It possible that the level of tension will briefly come down, although tomorrow will be a climactic day of mobilisations — boosted by the support we received in the UN.”

Explaining the course of events that day (September 24), Rios said: “The National Front had called on the people to not mobilise in the center of Tegucigalpa. Instead, it was proposed that people should organise protests in their barrios and colonias [poor neighbourhoods], in order to avoid any provocations by the march of the camisas blancas [white shirts, supporters of the coup].”

Many feared the pro-coup march could be used as a trigger for street clashes and further repression. Some had warned of plans to stoke up violent confrontations near the Brazilian embassy, where Zelaya remains.

Resistance activist Ricardo Salgado told GLW that the march was further evidence that “a section of the armed forces and the coup regime are still look to carry out extreme measures” to end the anti-coup resistance.

In the end, the pro-coup march was very small and largely consisted of public servants forced to attend, Rios said.

Dialogue
Both Rios and Salgado confirmed that numerous avenues of dialogue had been opened up between Zelaya and coup representatives over the last 24 hours.

Salgado said: “Last night a representative of the de facto government arrived at the Brazilian embassy to explicitly propose to the president that he resign and that Micheletti would also resign.

“This was considered unacceptable [by Zelaya], as it would basically legitimise the coup.

“Then, this afternoon, Father Juan Jose Pineda, a bishop in Tegucigalpa who is very close to Cardinal Rodriguez, one of the coup plotters” also visited Zelaya, “we suspect to offer some kind of negotiation … on behalf of the de facto government.”

Salgado added, “later on today [Zelaya] will meet with Father Luis Alfonso Santos who is decidedly against the coup and who just released a 12 point declaration [in which he states] his support for the people, constitutional restoration and the recognition of the legitimate right to insurrection of the people have in the face of a government imposed by force”.

He said this seemed to confirm that the Catholic Church would play an important role in any negotiations.

Furthermore, the candidates that stated their intention to run in the November presidential elections met this afternoon (September 24) with Michelleti, and will met with Zelaya later tonight.

Rios said the National Resistance Front “is and has always been open to dialogue, as long as it contemplates the restitution of Zelaya and the jailing of those responsible for the coup”.

“The [plan to organise a] constituent assembly is also non-negotiable. The constitutional order was broken as a result of the coup and the constitution orders that a constitution assembly be held [in such a scenario] so that cannot be up for discussion on the negotiation table.”

He told GLWM that Zelaya “has spoken with the resistance and that we have the same position in regards to what is up for discussion and what is non-negotiable”.

He added that he didn’t think the dialogue would succeed “very easily or quickly”.

“The coup regime has its own internal contradictions”, Salgado said. “Although it has attempted to maintain the facade of a strong regime backed by repression, it is clear that the country is in a very bad state and groups of business owners have said it is necessary to negotiate with the president.

“If we take as our starting point the fact that these business owners are the financiers of the coup, then what we are talking about is sections of the coup regime recognising the need to negotiate.”

Salgado said: “My personal opinion is that while it is true that the resistance forces have not matured enough yet to be able to stage an insurrection capable of overthrowing the coup regime, it has been able to reach a high level of organisation.”

This means that Zelaya “will need to count on the leadership of the National Front for any proposed solution to the current situation, because that is where he finds his social base. His popularity is based on [including] a large range of people, from popular leaders in the barrios, to teachers to supporters of his former party.”



Repression and mobilisation
Rios said: “There continues to be a strong presence of military and police helicopters [circling Tegucigalpa] because the National Resistance Front is meeting.

“So I think that if the dialogue does not begin today, we will probably face a night where we will see a repeat of the last few nights — where there has been a lot of repression in the colonias with many people detained.”

Salgado agreed, saying “the last few nights have been very tense … the military has been carrying out a campaign of attacking the popular barrios and poor colonias. They have approached homes without any warnings and carried out extrajudicial break-ins into — taking the young men out, beating up the parents.

“The exact toll of deaths and those disappeared is difficult to be determine.

“We are expecting that [the coup regime] will announce another curfew for tonight. So what we could expect more repression .

“And no doubt the people will once again mobilise tonight, on the streets in their barrios.”

Boosted by the UN resolution and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s “educational speech [at the UN General Assembly] which reminded us of why we are involved in this resistance movement”, Rios said the resistance will be gathering at 8am tomorrow [September 25] at the Pedagogical University — “for what will be a very climactic mobilisation”.

2009/9/24

Honduras: Street battles rage as military attacks pro-democracy uprising

Federico Fuentes
Greenleft Weekly
September 24, 2009
Introduction: To counteract the capitalist media’s silence about the struggle for democracy and justice in Honduras, the invaluable socialist paper Green Left Weekly has stepped up its coverage of this week’s dramatic developments with frequent web updates. We encourage Socialist Voice readers to follow GLW’s important reports on the Honduran struggle1. The following article was posted on September 24.
September 24 — Street battles are continuing to rage late into the night of September 23 in the poor neighborhoods of the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, after a day marked by a brutal military and police attack on a massive demonstration in support of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

Zelaya, whose pro-poor policies outraged the Honduran elite and US corporations, was overthrown in a June 28 military coup and exiled to Costa Rica. On September 21, Zelaya stunned the world by announcing he had re-entered Honduras and was inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.

This announcement — after 88 straight days of resistance to the coup with strikes, protests and road blockades by the poor majority —set off a renewed wave of mobilisations across the country to demand Zelaya’s reinstatement as the legitimate president.

As battles between unarmed protesters and heavily armed security forces raged on Honduran streets, world leaders condemned the coup regime at the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

However, while governments from across the world called for the immediate restitution of Zelaya, US President Barack Obama managed to go through his entire speech without mentioning the word Honduras once.

This is despite the fact that all officers in the Honduran military, which carried out the coup and was shooting live rounds at unarmed protesters as Obama spoke, are trained by the US military. This military training has not ceased since the coup.

The presentation of the public position of his government — which is desperately seeking a way to end the anti-coup insurrection that has broken out in the impoverished Central American nation —was left to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly.

Dirian Pereira, from the international commission of National Front of Resistance Against the Coup (FNRG) , spoke to Green Left Weekly again over the phone from Tegucigalpa, sounding clearly shaken by the brutality of the repression metered out earlier in the day. Her voice trembling, she said:

“In all honesty, the repression was extreme. There was no contemplation nor respect nor anything for human rights. The repression was extremely strong.

“We still do not know what the coup regime aims to do with the opposition, because as each day passes, the situation becomes more and more intense. Each day is more and more intense.”

Called by the FNRG , the massive protest that began at 8am on September 23 was a strong demonstration of the people’s will to see Zelaya, their elected president, return to the presidential palace.

Due to a spate of lootings caused by the coup regime imposing a total curfew that led to shortages of food and medicine, the regime temporarily lifted between 10am and 5pm today.

Pereira said:

“The mobilisation was extremely large, making use of the fact that the curfew had been lifted. The people spilled out onto the streets en masse …. The police tried to provoke the protestors in order to create chaos, but the resistance ignored them.”

The aim of the protest was to peacefully march to an area close by the Brazil embassy, where Zelaya remains despite the regime cutting off electricity, blocking food and firing tear gas into the compound.

Gilberto Rios, a leader of the FNRG, told GLW over the phone:

“When we got to the zone, the police, without any prior provocation on behalf of the protestors, began launching tear gas canister.

“The march was quickly dispersed. Many had to be taken to hospital and a number of young people were arrested.”

Despite this, the battle on the streets of Tegucigalpa continues.

“Right now, throughout the night, there have been a number of shoot outs in the different colonias [poor neighbourhoods] of the capital,” Pereira said.

“There are parts that are practically in insurrection, there are colonias that have declared themselves liberated zones.

“They are well organised, they have set up three, fours layers of barricades to stop the police entering.”

Both explained that the repression by the regime, which has left an unknown number of people dead and hundreds arrested, had increased support for the resistance.

“Everything is possible”, Rios told GLW.

“There is a strong feeling of rejection towards the Honduran Armed Forces that have been attacking its own people, similarly with the police….

“Where I live, the police came to repress peaceful protests and that caused even more people, who although against the coup had not joined the resistance, to join the street battles.”

However, as the intensity of the situation mounts, “sectors of the population are beginning to feel that some kind of foreign intervention can prevent a bloodbath”.

Rios insisted, however, that “for us, the problem must be resolved internally”.

Pereira said the talk of possible foreign intervention was coming mostly from right-wing forces who are feeling desperate, as they are losing control of the situation.

Rios said the coup leader Robert Micheletti “has explained it in the following terms: they consider themselves to be a ‘little Berlin’, they feel like the Nazis when they were completely surrounded at the end of the war.”



The coup regime has shifted from arguing it was invincible to “now talking about how they are willing to die in the government palace before handing over power”.

Rios had earlier in the night told GLW that the FNRG had not been able to meet due to the confusion and pace of events. However, Pereira later confirmed they had meet.

However, for strategically purposes the resistance has not yet announced what its next steps will be.

When ready, information would be conveyed via Radio Globo, Pereira said. Radio Globo has acted as a voice for the resistance and its broadcasts are often disrupted and sabotaged has by the military.

Pereira called for people around the world to “remain alert to what is occurring, denounce it, hold solidarity actions and remain up to date on news coming out of Honduras, because here the news is changing from hour to hour, it is changing every little while”.

Rios said: “All of this [international solidarity] is important for saving lives.”

Pereira said: “I want to say to the whole world that we continue to stand firm resisting. We are not going to allow this to slip through our hands, because just now, we have the people with us.”

2009/9/21

Zelaya 'will rebuild democracy'

BBC NEWS
September 21, 2009
The ousted president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, has returned to his country after nearly three months in exile following a political coup. Below is the transcript of an interview he gave to the BBC's Latin American service from inside the Brazilian embassy in the capital Tegucigalpa.
photo: Mr Zelaya has based himself in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa

Question: How did you arrive in Honduras?

A: In a peaceful, voluntary manner. I've been supported by various groups but I can't mention them so those people are not hurt. [We travelled] for more than 15 hours... through rivers, mountains, until we reached the capital of Honduras in the early hours of the morning.

We overcame military and police obstacles on the highways, because this country has been kidnapped by the military forces.

Question: What is the international support for your return?

A: I am in the Brazilian Embassy. [Brazilian] President [Luiz Inacio] Lula [da Silva] and Foreign Minister [Celso] Amorim have opened the doors for me. This is useful for us in calling for a dialogue.

I just spoke to Secretary Insulza [Jose Miguel Insulza of the Organization of American States] who will come in the next few hours. The United Nations will also come, in a commission to begin a dialogue to rebuild Honduran democracy.

Question: Which are going to be your next political steps?

A: We are speaking to different sectors of society, with the international community, and we will begin an overture of communication.

Then [we will take] different approaches to solve this problem. Unfortunately, the coup leaders did not previously consider a solution, and I think we should take over the diplomatic side.

Question: Are you planning to meet the de facto leader, Roberto Micheletti face to face?

A: I'm willing to find a solution to this process, and if that solution consists of that, I am willing to do it. There is no impediment from me to searching for an answer to this problem.

Question: Have you established contact with the armed forces of your country?

A: No, not yet, I've only been here for a couple of hours. We haven't had the time to do it.

Question: What would be the conditions for establishing a dialogue with the coup leaders?

A: Well, the main thing is the support of the people, which is essential for starting a dialogue.

Question: Do you think your presence in Tegucigalpa could stoke further demonstrations?

A: Yes, of course, we have started today with more demonstrations. I am a peaceful man, I don't like violence and I call upon the armed forces not to use violence against people. Not against the people.

Question: The Micheletti government has said you would be arrested if you came back?

A: I have no problem with facing any trial or any prosecution they could seek. I will submit myself to any trial because my hands are clean and my chin is up.

Question: Some might say your decision to come back is "irresponsible", because it could trigger violence.

A: I call for peace and non violence. It's the best way to solve problems - problems always have to be solved by calling for democracy and not the weapons.

If there's anything that the international community could do it would be to call for that solution and say 'No' to more violence.

Ousted Honduran President Zalaya returns to Capital

BBC NEWS
23:29 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009

photo: Hundreds of Mr Zelaya's supporters rushed to the Brazilian embassy

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has returned to his country, nearly three months after being deposed.

Mr Zelaya has sought refuge inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa and hundreds of his supporters have gathered outside.

Mr Zelaya said he had crossed mountains and rivers to return to the capital, where he said he was seeking dialogue.

Honduran authorities, who have threatened to arrest Mr Zelaya, have imposed a curfew on the country.

In images broadcast on national television, a smiling Mr Zelaya wearing his trademark white cowboy hat appeared on the balcony of the Brazilian embassy waving to crowds of his supporters.

Witnesses said a military helicopter flew overhead.

Shortly afterwards officials imposed the 15-hour curfew, starting at 1600 (2200 GMT) on Monday.

[We travelled] for more than 15 hours... through rivers and mountains

Manuel Zelaya Ousted Honduran President
FULL interview with Zelaya >>>
The left-leaning president has been living in exile in Nicaragua since being ousted at gunpoint on 28 June.

The crisis erupted after Mr Zelaya tried to hold a non-binding public consultation to ask people whether they supported moves to change the constitution.

The US has backed Mr Zelaya during his exile and criticised the de facto leaders for failing to restore "democratic, constitutional rule" and the Organization of American States (OAS) has demanded Mr Zelaya's reinstatement.

Dialogue
Speaking to the BBC from inside the Brazilian embassy, Mr Zelaya said he had received support from various quarters in order to return.

TIMELINE: ZELAYA OUSTED
# 28 June: Zelaya forced out of country at gunpoint
# 5 July: A dramatic bid by Zelaya to return home by plane fails after the runway at Tegucigalpa airport is blocked
# 25-26 July: Zelaya briefly crosses into the country at the land border with Nicaragua on two consecutive days, in a symbolic move to demand he be allowed to return
# 21 Sept: Zelaya appears in the Brazilian embassy in Tegulcigalpa


"[We travelled] for more than 15 hours... through rivers and mountains until we reached the capital of Honduras, which we reached in the early hours of the morning," he said.

"We overtook military and police obstacles, all those on the highways here, because this country has been kidnapped by the military forces."

He said he was consulting with sectors of Honduran society and the international community in order "to start the dialogue for the reconstruction of the Honduran democracy".

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim confirmed that Mr Zelaya had been given refuge inside the embassy.

But he said neither his country nor the OAS had played any part in Mr Zelaya's return, Associated Press news agency reported.

Thousands of Zelaya supporters converged on the embassy, after gathering outside UN buildings where he was initially reported to be.

"The government has declared the curfew for the entire country from four in the afternoon until six in the morning to conserve calm in the country," a spokesman for the leadership, Rene Zepeda, told Reuters.

The interim government has repeatedly threatened to arrest Mr Zelaya should he return.

Call for calm
Mr Zelaya urged the armed forces not to use violence against demonstrators.

OAS chief Jose Miguel Insulza also called for calm, telling Honduran authorities they were responsible for the security of Mr Zelaya and the Brazilian embassy.

As reports that Mr Zelaya had surfaced in Tegucigalpa began to come through, de facto leader Mr Micheletti appeared to be caught off-guard, insisting Mr Zelaya had not left neighbouring Nicaragua.

"It's not true. He is in a hotel suite in Nicaragua," Mr Micheletti told a news conference.

Mr Micheletti has vowed to step aside after presidential elections are held as scheduled on 29 November. But he has refused to allow Mr Zelaya to return to office in the interim.

Shortly after June's coup, Mr Zelaya attempted to fly back to Honduras, but failed when the authorities blocked the runway at Tegucigalpa airport.

In July, talks in Costa Rica on resolving the crisis hosted by the country's President Oscar Arias broke down without the parties reaching an agreement.

Later that month, Mr Zelaya briefly crossed into Honduras from Nicaragua - a symbolic move the US described as "reckless".

Ousted Honduran President Zalaya returns to Capital

BBC NEWS
23:29 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009

photo: Hundreds of Mr Zelaya's supporters rushed to the Brazilian embassy

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has returned to his country, nearly three months after being deposed.

Mr Zelaya has sought refuge inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa and hundreds of his supporters have gathered outside.

Mr Zelaya said he had crossed mountains and rivers to return to the capital, where he said he was seeking dialogue.

Honduran authorities, who have threatened to arrest Mr Zelaya, have imposed a curfew on the country.

In images broadcast on national television, a smiling Mr Zelaya wearing his trademark white cowboy hat appeared on the balcony of the Brazilian embassy waving to crowds of his supporters.

Witnesses said a military helicopter flew overhead.

Shortly afterwards officials imposed the 15-hour curfew, starting at 1600 (2200 GMT) on Monday.

[We travelled] for more than 15 hours... through rivers and mountains

Manuel Zelaya Ousted Honduran President
The left-leaning president has been living in exile in Nicaragua since being ousted at gunpoint on 28 June.

The crisis erupted after Mr Zelaya tried to hold a non-binding public consultation to ask people whether they supported moves to change the constitution.

The US has backed Mr Zelaya during his exile and criticised the de facto leaders for failing to restore "democratic, constitutional rule" and the Organization of American States (OAS) has demanded Mr Zelaya's reinstatement.

Dialogue
Speaking to the BBC from inside the Brazilian embassy, Mr Zelaya said he had received support from various quarters in order to return.

TIMELINE: ZELAYA OUSTED
# 28 June: Zelaya forced out of country at gunpoint
# 5 July: A dramatic bid by Zelaya to return home by plane fails after the runway at Tegucigalpa airport is blocked
# 25-26 July: Zelaya briefly crosses into the country at the land border with Nicaragua on two consecutive days, in a symbolic move to demand he be allowed to return
# 21 Sept: Zelaya appears in the Brazilian embassy in Tegulcigalpa


"[We travelled] for more than 15 hours... through rivers and mountains until we reached the capital of Honduras, which we reached in the early hours of the morning," he said.

"We overtook military and police obstacles, all those on the highways here, because this country has been kidnapped by the military forces."

He said he was consulting with sectors of Honduran society and the international community in order "to start the dialogue for the reconstruction of the Honduran democracy".

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim confirmed that Mr Zelaya had been given refuge inside the embassy.

But he said neither his country nor the OAS had played any part in Mr Zelaya's return, Associated Press news agency reported.

Thousands of Zelaya supporters converged on the embassy, after gathering outside UN buildings where he was initially reported to be.

"The government has declared the curfew for the entire country from four in the afternoon until six in the morning to conserve calm in the country," a spokesman for the leadership, Rene Zepeda, told Reuters.

The interim government has repeatedly threatened to arrest Mr Zelaya should he return.

Call for calm
Mr Zelaya urged the armed forces not to use violence against demonstrators.

OAS chief Jose Miguel Insulza also called for calm, telling Honduran authorities they were responsible for the security of Mr Zelaya and the Brazilian embassy.

As reports that Mr Zelaya had surfaced in Tegucigalpa began to come through, de facto leader Mr Micheletti appeared to be caught off-guard, insisting Mr Zelaya had not left neighbouring Nicaragua.

"It's not true. He is in a hotel suite in Nicaragua," Mr Micheletti told a news conference.

Mr Micheletti has vowed to step aside after presidential elections are held as scheduled on 29 November. But he has refused to allow Mr Zelaya to return to office in the interim.

Shortly after June's coup, Mr Zelaya attempted to fly back to Honduras, but failed when the authorities blocked the runway at Tegucigalpa airport.

In July, talks in Costa Rica on resolving the crisis hosted by the country's President Oscar Arias broke down without the parties reaching an agreement.

Later that month, Mr Zelaya briefly crossed into Honduras from Nicaragua - a symbolic move the US described as "reckless".

2009/9/16

Charles Darwin film 'too controversial for religious America'

Anita Singh, Showbusiness Editor
Telegraph UK
Septembber 11 2009
A British film about Charles Darwin has failed to find a US distributor because his theory of evolution is too controversial for American audiences, according to its producer.




Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin's "struggle between faith and reason" as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.

* Creation: Review, background and the facts

The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.

However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.

Movieguide.org, an influential site which reviews films from a Christian perspective, described Darwin as the father of eugenics and denounced him as "a racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder". His "half-baked theory" directly influenced Adolf Hitler and led to "atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering", the site stated.

The film has sparked fierce debate on US Christian websites, with a typical comment dismissing evolution as "a silly theory with a serious lack of evidence to support it despite over a century of trying".

Jeremy Thomas, the Oscar-winning producer of Creation, said he was astonished that such attitudes exist 150 years after On The Origin of Species was published.

"That's what we're up against. In 2009. It's amazing," he said.

"The film has no distributor in America. It has got a deal everywhere else in the world but in the US, and it's because of what the film is about. People have been saying this is the best film they've seen all year, yet nobody in the US has picked it up.

"It is unbelievable to us that this is still a really hot potato in America. There's still a great belief that He made the world in six days. It's quite difficult for we in the UK to imagine religion in America. We live in a country which is no longer so religious. But in the US, outside of New York and LA, religion rules.

"Charles Darwin is, I suppose, the hero of the film. But we tried to make the film in a very even-handed way. Darwin wasn't saying 'kill all religion', he never said such a thing, but he is a totem for people."

Creation was developed by BBC Films and the UK Film Council, and stars Bettany's real-life wife Jennifer Connelly as Darwin's deeply religious wife, Emma. It is based on the book, Annie's Box, by Darwin's great-great-grandson, Randal Keynes, and portrays the naturalist as a family man tormented by the death in 1851 of Annie, his favourite child. She is played in the film by 10-year-old newcomer Martha West, the daughter of The Wire star Dominic West.

Early reviews have raved about the film. The Hollywood Reporter said: "It would be a great shame if those with religious convictions spurned the film out of hand as they will find it even-handed and wise."

Mr Thomas, whose previous films include The Last Emperor and Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, said he hoped the reviews would help to secure a distributor. In the UK, special screenings have been set up for Christian groups.

2009/9/14

Interview with two ex-US soldiers in combat in Venezuela

Eva Golinger
September 8, 2009
"Venezuela is the one spot in the world where there is optimism."

Interview with Josh Simpson and Benji Lewis, two ex US soldiers who fought in combat in Iraq and now publicly oppose Washington’s Global War on Terror
Eva Golinger (EG): Why did you join the Armed Forces in the United States?

Josh: I was really interested in history, in a patriotic sense, World War II, Vietnam.

EG: A romantic vision?

Josh: Yes, even Vietnam, I thought it was a one time thing. I didn’t know about CIA involvement in Latin America, or Mossadegh – that’s common, most people from the US don’t know those things, especially when you are 17. I ended up joining the military also for economic reasons. I joined in July 2001 and was in basic training when Sept. 11th happened, and everything changed.

EG: What did you think?

Josh: I was nervous but excited. I happened to join the military when something big in history was happening. I didn’t understand why 9/11 happened, why we were attacked. I guess that people just hated us for being for Americans. If I had to go to war to defend my country I was totally prepared to do that. I didn’t end up going to Afganistan because I was in the second striker brigade, and so by the time I ended up going to Iraq I was already against the war. Today I believe they are all imperialist wars, but then I didn’t support the war, but figured I would still go because I had to go and I didn’t know people were resisting.

EG: Do you mean soldiers resisting or people against the war?

Josh: I didn’t know there was an anti-war movement. I was in the desert in California on a military base, and in the military we never knew there was a huge opposition to the war in the US, the media didn’t cover it. I think there were tactical errors made in the US by the antiwar movement, if people would have stopped military shipments from leaving the country instead of just marching in the streets, if people would have blocked railroad tracks and ports, this war would have never started.

EG: Benji, why did you join the military?

Benji: I came from a military family. I was encouraged by my mother and father join. I joined the military to help people. I entered boot camp in the Marine Corp in March 2003. I was 17 ½ years old. Once I joined I realized it was a bad idea and thought, what did I do?

EG: When the war started?

Benji: As I was in bootcamp the invasion was happening and we would see video clips of it set to heavy metal music to get us riled up. It was disturbing. Before every class in bootcamp they would show videos of people getting shot, killed, set to heavy metal music, and then as we were invading Fallujah, the PSYOPS (pyschological operations) units weren’t pointing the speakers at the people in Fallujah, they were pointing the speakers at us, playing the same music as they did in bootcamp. I distinctly remember being agitated and edgy before we invaded the city. It became clear to me that military indoctrination is much deeper than it appears to be on the surface.

EG: When did you go to Iraq, Josh?

Josh: September 2004 to September 2005.

EG: What did you think when you were going there?

Josh: I was against the war but at the same time figured we already started the war and so should see it through and help the country rebuild. It was hard to think about. I was in charge of interrogations in Irak. And Source Operations, running sources to get information. I was in Mosul, Iraq. In Iraq, 95% of those detained and interrogated were innocent. The interrogations agitate the population against you. If they weren’t terrorists or insurgents when detained, they will be afterward! The reason why 95% are innocent and still detained is because the way to measure succes in Iraq, unlike in Vietnam where it was a body count, is based on the number of detainees. It doesn’t matter if they are women or children or innocent. I didn’t participate in physical torture and beat detainees. But I did participate in psychological torture.

EG: But you knew torture took place?

Josh: I saw the victims of the torture. The bruises and lashes all over their bodies came from somewhere. We would send the detainees to the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Militia that were working with us and they would do the torture for us. I had concerns about that especially because torture doesn’t work well for getting information.

EG: Benji, you were in Fallujah during the Blackwater scandal?

Benji: Right after. I was sent to Fallujah and there was excitement because it was right after the Blackwater scandal and we were on a mission of revenge. No one told us what had really happened except that US citizens had been killed by the Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah. So I was excited because I was going to be in a mortar unit and would be able to do what I was trained to do, we were going to utilize our mortars. We thought we were going to Fallujah to neutralize an insurrection, but they didn’t tell us that the entire city had already been bombed by the US for about a week and a third of the population was already displaced or dead. We were being told that this was a mission of revenge, we didn’t know they were Blackwater mercenaries that had been killed, we were told they were just US citizens. Several batallions of marines were unleashed on the city from every angle. It was a seige. There were thousands of us that assaulted Fallujah. We surrounded them and cut off their electricity and water, we bombed Mosques.

EG: The military wasn’t giving the soldiers any kind of information?

Benji: Hearts and Minds is double rhetoric. You have to first control the hearts and minds of the troops committing these atrocities before sending them to war. You have to lie to them otherwise you can’t fight these kinds of wars.

EG: How did you perceive the resistance of the Iraqi people?

Josh: They were terrorists, radical, islamic fundamentalists, not people fighting for their country, that’s what we were told.

Benji: The military indoctrination is so sophisticated – you are even cut off from members of your own batallion, you can’t ask questions, the only thing that matters is to protect yourself and your batallion. There are no politics. The first thing you learn is not to question, keep your thoughts to yourself.

EG: Didn’t you know it was a war for oil?

Benji: The only reason you are there is to protect the person to the left and right of you. Everyone knew about the oil but your only mission is staying alive and keeping your friends alive.

Josh: You think you’re helping the Iraqis. That’s what you’re told.

EG: Why did you leave the military?

Josh: I was active duty for 5 years then I signed up for another 3 years as a reservist. I didn’t want to go back to Irak. I was told that if you join the reserves you can get a nice bonus and you won’t be deployed for two years. I was naive thinking the war in Irak would be over in two years.

EG: Why would you join the reserves and train people to go to war in Iraq if you were against the war?

Josh: I justified that by thinking I was keeping them safe by training them well. They had to go anyway. But it got to a point when I couldn’t look myself in the mirror anymore, I was disgusted with myself. I was basically stuck in a moral dilemna. I want to be proud of my actions, proud of what I am doing, but honestly, I wasn’t. I started college at the same time. I was studying political economy at Evergreen University, learning about US imperialism.

EG: Did people in your class know you were in the military? What did they say to you?

Josh: Yes, but people knew I was opposed to the war.

Benji: The “support the troops” campaign has altered everyone’s perception.

Josh: I’m actually opposed to that campaign. People should have been more confrontational with the troops.

粗體EG: Like in Vietnam.

Benji: The “support the troops” campaign was engineered to allow for indirect acceptance of the war.

Josh: People are scared to criticize the troops, it’s considered the most blasphemous thing in the world. At the same time, if you are never criticized than you will never know that what you are doing is wrong.

Benji: You can’t criticize the troops. It’s a poverty draft, these kids just do it because they have no other way out of poverty.

Josh: But you have to criticize them, because they will say they are just following orders, but that’s bullshit, the Nazis were just following orders too. The military is fascist, it’s basically blind, unquestioning obedience. Then they try to tell you that the blind obedience is some form of courage and bravery. It’s much easier to go with the current than against it. While I was at Evergreen I was learning something different than what I was told in the military. I got to the point where morally I couldn’t just be opposed to the war, I also couldn’t even participate in the military or train other soldiers to go kill people in a racist war. I was told in January 2008 that I was going to be deployed to Irak and I decided I wasn’t going to go back. I was already speaking out against the war and blocking military shipments, I was active in direct action against the war. I was building barricades in the streets of Olympia to block military shipments from going out of the US ports to Irak, and for the first time I felt like I was fighting for something I actually believed in. It makes me cry to think about this. I was in the military for five years and never had the chance to fight for something I believed in.

Benji: Which is why you join the military, to fight for something you believe in!

Josh: The fact that I was finally fighting for something I believed in, against the war, was such a great feeling. I joined Iraq Veterans Against the War and other resistance groups against the war. I helped start the GI coffee house, Coffee Strong. The GI coffee house is right off the military base Fort Lewis in Washington.

EG: Benji, why did you leave the military?

Benji: After my first tour in Iraq I was disillusioned and after my second deployment it was obvious. We referred to our ourselves as occupiers. When I got back from the second tour I was convinced that I wouldn’t go back. I volunteered to be an Urban Combat Instructor. I trained several urban combat batallions and one of my teams ended up in Haditha, massacring hundreds of innocent Iraquis in a 3-day exercise. That’s on my conscience. And it’s really sad, people in the marine corp are doing cocaine before morning exercises. After a year, I decided I didn’t want to go back to Irak. I had no idea there was a resistance movement. When you get out, you want to put it all behind you. You don’t want to think about it, you don’t want to remember it, you just want to live a small, quiet life.

Benji: I moved to Oregon and met people from Veterans for Peace. I learned that you don’t have to go back, you can resist. I joined Courage to Resist and I began to broaden my work and speak out against the wars in Afganistan and Iraq.

EG: Why did you come to Venezuela?

Benji: South America is in a position to resist the economic collapse in the US. We also have plans to set up a safety net for friends and people in the US in case the US does turn into a bigger police state domestically. If there is a larger war coming on the planet the people have to choose sides and this is the side I want to be on.

Josh: Venezuela is the one spot in the world where there is optimism. This country is moving in a good direction. In Venezuela there is a lot of really great work going on.

EG: What would you say to the Venezuelan people about the US military buildup in Colombia?

Josh: Be prepared. Neighborhood and popular militias are the most effective way to deter the US – it’s working in Irak, and Afganistan. People with rifles can hold out forever. You’re not going to be able to defeat the US military with tanks and airplanes because they have more than all countries in the world combined. Live up to the creed, socialismo o muerte! Capitalism is in a major state of decline and it’s going to lash out. We have to fight it however we can, it’s the only way to exist. If Venezuela was attacked, and there was an Abraham Lincoln Brigade to defend Venezuela, I would come here in a heartbeat.

Benji: To me it’s obvious the US is gunning for Latin America. Latin America is one big resource for the US, that’s all they see, they see the people as a nuisance. The only thing the US is good at is invading other countries, that’s the only export the US still has, invasion.

Josh: It’s the war that never ends.


PROFILES

Josh Simpson, 27 years old, was a Sargeant in the US Army Counterintelligence Division. He was in charge of interrogations and source operations in Mosul, Iraq from 2004-2005. His actions resulted indirectly in the deaths of hundreds of Iraquis. Today, Josh is the president of the Fort Lewis Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and is co-founder of Coffee Strong, a GI Coffee Shop that seeks to mobilize soldiers against the war. Josh earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Economy from Evergreen University in 2008 and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Teaching at the same institution. He speaks across the US against the war and US imperialism and is very active in blocking military shipments from leaving the US as a form of direct action war resistance.

Benji Lewis, 24 years old, is an ex Marine Infantry soldier who did two tours in Iraq, both to Fallujah from 2004-2005. His M-16 mortars killed over 500 people in Fallujah during a three month period. Today, Benji is an outspoken anti-war, anti-Empire activist in Oregon. He is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and Courage to Resist. He speaks throughout the US against the war and organizes soldiers to resist deployment to Iraq and Afganistan. Benji is studying English Literature and Philosophy at Lynn-Benton Community College in Corvallis, Oregon and plans to learn Spanish.

This interview was conducted during their first visit to Venezuela as part of an anti-war, pro-peace delegation from the Portland Latin America Solidarity Coalition.

2009/9/6

A Time to Unite and March Together

Fidel Castro
September 6, 2009
(Translation by Socialist Voice)
“The establishment of seven U.S. military bases in Colombia poses a direct threat to the sovereignty and integrity of the other peoples of South and Central America with which our national heroes dreamed of creating the great Latin American homeland.”
U.S. Air Base at Manta, Ecuador to be eliminated when its 30 year lease expires in 2009
(Photo: Defendamerica.mil)

This Reflection is addressed not to the governments but to the fraternal peoples of Latin America.

Tomorrow, August 28, the summit of UNASUR [Union of South American Nations] will convene in Argentina, and its significance cannot be overlooked. The conference must analyze the granting of seven military bases in Colombian territory to the U.S. superpower. The two governments kept their preparatory discussions a rigorous secret, so that the accord could be presented to the world as a fait accompli.

In the early morning hours of March 1, 2008, the Colombian Armed Forces – trained and equipped by the United States – attacked with precision bombs a guerrilla group which had entered a remote area of the Ecuadorian territory. At dawn, airborne elite Colombian troops occupied the small camp, killed the wounded and carried off with them the dead body of guerrilla leader Raul Reyes.

Apparently, he had been meeting with young visitors from other countries who were interested in the experience of the guerrillas engaged in armed struggle since the death of Liberal leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán more than 50 years ago. Among the victims were college students from Mexico and Ecuador; they were not carrying weapons. It was a brutal action in Yankee style. The government of Ecuador had not received any advance notice of the attack.

This event was a humiliating action against the small and heroic South American nation engaged in a democratic political process. Suspicion is strong that the U.S. air base of Manta [in Ecuador] had supplied information and cooperated with the aggressors. President Rafael Correa made the brave decision to demand the return of the territory occupied by the Manta military base, in strict compliance with the terms of the military agreement with the United States, and recalled his ambassador from Bogotá.

photo on the left: Demostration Against the air field in Colombia

Seven U.S. bases in Colombia
The concession of territory for the establishment of seven U.S. military bases in Colombia poses a direct threat to the sovereignty and integrity of the other peoples of South and Central America with which our national heroes dreamed of creating the great Latin American homeland.

The Yankee imperialism is a hundred times more powerful than the colonial empires of Spain and Portugal, and a complete stranger to the origin, customs, and culture of our peoples.

It is not a matter of narrow chauvinism. “Homeland is humanity,” as Martí stated, but never under the domination of an empire which has imposed a bloody tyranny on the world. This is demonstrated beyond question in our own hemisphere by the hundreds of thousands of Latin American compatriots who were killed, tortured, and secretly murdered in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and other countries of Our America through the past five decades by coups d’état and other actions promoted or supported by the United States.

Cynical pretexts
As I analyze the arguments of the United States to try to justify the granting of military bases in Colombian territory, I can only characterize its pretexts as cynical. The U.S. claims that these bases are needed to aid the struggle against drug trafficking, terrorism, arms trafficking, illegal migration, the possession of weapons of mass destruction, nationalist outbursts, and natural disasters.

This powerful country is the largest drug purchaser and consumer on the planet. An analysis of the paper money circulating in the U.S. capital, Washington, has shown that 95 per cent of the bills have been in the hands of drug consumers. The U.S. is the largest market for and the main supplier of weapons to organized crime in Latin America, the same weapons that have killed tens of thousands of people every year south of its own borders.

It is the largest terrorist state that has ever existed. It dropped bombs on the civilian cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and caused the death of millions of people with such imperialist wars as those carried out against Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries located thousands of miles away. What is more, it is also the largest producer and holder of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction.

The Colombian paramilitary, many of them former members of the Armed Forces, are part of their reserves and are the drug-traffickers’ best allies and protectors.

The so-called civilian personnel that would accompany the troops in the Colombian bases are, as a rule, expertly trained former American soldiers hired by such private companies as Blackwater, widely known for its crimes in Iraq and elsewhere in the world.

A country with self-respect needs no U.S. mercenaries, troops, or military bases to fight drug trafficking, protect the people in case of natural disasters or to provide humanitarian cooperation to other peoples.

Cuba is a country that does not have a drug problem or high rates of violent deaths – in fact the rate of such deaths decreases every year.

Threat to all Latin America
The only purpose of these bases for the United States is to place Latin America within reach of its troops in a matter of hours. The top military commanders of Brazil were very upset by the unexpected news of the agreement to establish U.S. military bases in Colombia. The Palanquero base is very close to the Brazilian border.

These bases and those in the Islas Malvinas [Falkland Islands], Paraguay, Peru, Honduras, Aruba, Curacao and others leave not a single location in Brazil and the rest of South America beyond reach of the U.S. Southern Command. Using its most advanced carrier aircraft, it can be on the spot within hours with troops and sophisticated combat equipment.

The best experts on the subject have provided all necessary data to prove the military scope of the Yankee-Colombian accord. This program, including the reactivation of the Fourth Fleet, was designed by Bush and inherited by the current U.S. administration. Some South American leaders are asking due clarification of U.S. military policy in Latin America. Nuclear aircraft-carriers are not required to combat drugs.

The most immediate objective of that plan is to eliminate the Bolivarian revolutionary process and to assure U.S. control over Venezuela’s oil and other natural resources. Moreover, the empire does not accept the competition of new emerging economies in its backyard or the existence of truly independent countries in Latin America. And it counts on the reactionary oligarchy, the fascist Right, and its control over the most important media, both internally and externally. It will never grant support to anything resembling true equity and social justice.

The Latin American migration to the United States is the consequence of underdevelopment, the result of U.S. plundering of our countries and of unequal exchange with the industrialized countries.

Mexico was forcibly removed from Latin America through the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Canada. Most of the 12 million illegal immigrants in the USA are Mexicans, as are most of the hundreds who perish every year along the fence separating these nations.

Amid the current international economic crisis, the rate of extreme poverty in Mexico – a country with a population of 107 million – has reached 18 per cent, while more than half of the population lives in poverty.

Martí’s insight
During the life of Marti, the apostle of our independence, his major source of concern was annexation to the United States. After 1889 he became aware that this was the greatest danger for Latin America. He always dreamed of the Grand Homeland, from the Rio Bravo to Patagonia; and he died for it and for Cuba.

On January 10, 1891 he published an essay in the New York Illustrated Review under the title “Our America,” in which he wrote the unforgettable words, “The trees must form ranks to hold back the giant with seven-league boots! It is the time to gather and to march together, as closely united as the veins of silver at the roots of the Andes.”

Four years later, after his landing at Playitas in the eastern province of Cuba, territory held by the insurrectionists, he met on May 2, 1895, with the Herald journalist George E. Bryson, who told him that, in an interview with the celebrated General Arsenio Martinez Campos, the Spanish officer had said that he would rather surrender Cuba to the United States than accept its independence.

Marti was so impressed by the news that on May 18 he sent his Mexican friend Manuel Mercado the renowned posthumous letter where he wrote of “the road that is to be blocked off, and is being blocked off by our blood – the road of annexing our American nations to the brutal and turbulent North, which despises them.”

The following day, heedless of the advice of General Máximo Gomez, who advised that he should stay with the rearguard, he asked his assistant for a revolver and charged on a well-positioned Spanish force. He died in combat.

“I have lived in the monster and I know its entrails,” he wrote in his last letter.

(published in CubaDebate,1 August 27, 2009. Socialist Voice translation based on a translation published in the Cuban newspaper Granma2.)

Oliver Stone heads 'South of the Border' to chat up Chavez and others

Reed Johnson
Los Angels Times
September 1, 2009
The director's new documentary seeks to change U.S. perceptions of South America's leftist leaders.
South of the Border
Directed by Oliver Stone
Produced by Oliver Stone
Written by Tariq Ali
Cinematography Carlos Marcovich, Albert Maysles
Editing by Alexis Chavez
Release date(s) September, 2009
Running time 102 minutes
Country United States
Language English

In his new documentary "South of the Border," Oliver Stone is shown warmly embracing Hugo Chávez, nibbling coca leaves with Evo Morales and gently teasing Cristina Elizabeth Fernández de Kirchner about how many pairs of shoes she owns.

These amiable, off-the-cuff snapshots of the presidents of Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina, respectively, contrast with the way these left-leaning leaders often are depicted in U.S. political and mass media circles. That's especially true of Chávez, the former military officer turned democratically elected socialist leader, who has become the ideological heir apparent to Fidel Castro and the bête noire of Bush administration foreign policy officials.

In setting out to make "South of the Border," which is scheduled to have its world premiere this week at the Venice Film Festival, Stone, a lightning-rod figure himself for the better part of three decades, says that he wanted to supply a counterpoint to the prevailing U.S. image of Chávez, who's frequently represented in stateside op-ed pieces and political cartoons as a bellicose dictator-cum-comic opera figure.

"I think he's an extremely dynamic and charismatic figure. He's open and warmhearted and big, and a fascinating character," says the director of "JFK" and "Wall Street," speaking by phone from New York, where he's working on a much-publicized "Wall Street" sequel. "But when I go back to the States I keep hearing these horror stories about 'dictator,' 'bad guy,' 'menace to American society.' I think the project started as something about the American media demonizing Latin leaders. It became more than that as we got more involved."

In addition to Chávez, Stone sought to flesh out several other South American leaders whose policies and personalities generally get scant media attention in the United States and Europe: Morales; Cristina Kirchner and her husband, Argentine former president Néstor Kirchner; Rafael Correa of Ecuador; Raúl Castro of Cuba; Fernando Lugo Méndez of Paraguay; and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil.

"The press in America, I think you're aware, has divided the Latin continent into the 'bad Left' and the 'good Left,' " Stone says. "They've now listed Correa as the bad Left, along with Morales and with Chávez. They call . . . Lula, the good Left. I don't know what they make of Kirchner yet, because they go back and forth, but I think they're turning against Kirchner more and more. You get this distinction, and I think it's a false distinction."

Both Stone and the film's writer, the Pakistani-British historian, novelist and commentator Tariq Ali, say that the roughly 90-minute documentary isn't intended to be a comprehensive analysis of current South American political trends. It doesn't try to parse the radically divergent views of a figure as polarizing as Chávez. Nor does it substantially address the ongoing criticisms of his incendiary rhetoric (he once called Bush the devil), his frequent dust-ups with Venezuela's opposition media (which supported a 2002 coup against him), or his disputed role in aiding leftist rebels fighting the government of neighboring Colombia.

"We had not set out in the spirit of, like, making this a contentious debate," says Stone, who first met the Venezuelan president in 2007. "When you try to get into every single rightist argument against Chávez, you're never going to win. You're going to bore the audience."

Instead, the filmmakers decided to make what Ali calls "a political road movie" by visiting Chávez's peers throughout the hemisphere and asking what they think of him. Stone and his crew travel from the Caribbean down the spine of the Andes trying to explain the Chávez phenomenon and account for the continent's recent leftward tilt.

A big part of the explanation the film advances is that the free-market economic policies pushed by the U.S. and the International Monetary Fund over the last several years largely have failed to alleviate Latin America's chronic income inequality. The film suggests that financial calamities such as the Argentine peso collapse of 2001, combined with Latin suspicions of U.S. drug-eradication efforts and resentment over the selling off of natural resources through multinational companies, also have contributed to the rise of socialist and social-democratic leaders across the region.

Ali believes that many United States foreign policy officials still are operating on a Cold War paradigm that prevents them from grasping the changing social realities that have brought a new generation of politicians to power.

"These changes that are taking place are not coming about through armed struggle or guerrilla warfare or Che Guevara," Ali says, speaking from London. "All these changes have come about through democratic elections. And that makes it a very, very significant development in that continent."

For some viewers and critics, the political nuances in "South of the Border" may register less than the sight of Stone playfully kicking a soccer ball with Morales or listening empathetically as Chávez articulates his dream of spreading what he calls his "Bolivarian Revolution" across the continent. Stone was roundly criticized for taking too chummy a tone with Fidel Castro in his 2003 documentary "Comandante." He then produced a harder-edged follow-up, "Looking for Fidel," in which he pressed the Cuban leader about his treatment of dissidents and other sensitive matters.

In an era when few Hollywood directors bother to deal with historical or political topics at all, Stone frequently has been targeted for playing loose with historical facts in movies including "JFK" and "Alexander," about Alexander the Great. On this score, he vigorously defends his record.

"You do your homework, you do your research, we always did, whatever you think of my work," he says. "Even going back to 'JFK,' I've always done as much research as we could. And there's mistakes made, but there's a lot of truth, you know, as much as we can put into these movies."

He's alert to accusations of "being soft-hearted or human-hearted" to politicians with whom he sympathizes. But he freely acknowledges where his sympathies lie in "South of the Border."

"I'm rooting for this Bolivarian movement," he says. "I'm rooting for their independence because I think that America has a new role to play in this world, and that's not of an oppressor, but that of a cooperative and, let's call it equal, partner."

The director says that the broader theme behind "South of the Border," and much of his other film work, is the question of "why does America reach out to make enemies." He plans to develop this theme in a 10-part cable TV documentary series "The Secret History of America" that is scheduled to premiere in 2010.

"I'm fascinated by that subject, whether it's the Taliban or whether it's Iran or whether it's South Vietnam, going back to those days," Stone says. "As a young man I [was] brainwashed into believing we had enemies left and right. And now that I've traveled the world, I mean you have to wonder why. Why do we constantly do this? Where is this paranoia born in us?"

Official Trailer : South of the Border

2009/8/30

Struggle in Iran

Field, Place, Trajectory
Milad S.
Khiaban No. 36
August 11, 2009
This is a translation of another analytical article by Milad S., a regular contributor to the Khiaban (The Street) newspaper. This article was first published in Khiaban #36 (August 11, 2009).
1. September
We are witnessing a gradual transformation and redirecting of the slogans. It took less than two months for the people to move from the annulment of the elections to the collective realization that the real nature and the legal framework of this republic are the real obstacles in the way of the movement. The more elaborate forms of mass meetings, organization of thousands of small cells, the increase in capabilities for printing and distributing nightly fliers and news bulletins -- these are all indicative of a widened field for movement. With the joining in of different regions, the movement is also redefined at each stage: the widening of the local protests against Naziabad, 17th of Shahrivar (southern neighborhood of Tehran with a dominantly poor population), is an example of the spreading of the struggle from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Alongside the evolving field of struggle and the spreading of movement from one neighborhood, one place to another, the trajectory and the possible horizons of this movement too undergo changes. The widening of the popular protests is not merely quantitative, just as the rising number of organized groups or the increased facility in printing and distributing two-page night fliers are not merely an improved dissemination of the news. The slogans and the forms of dissent as well as the demands being raised can encompass yet larger segments of the material social reality. This is a movement in which we can already see the capability for the claims, and the inevitability of returning to the basic demands, of the 1978-79 revolution. The experience of the period of 1977-81 means understanding solidarity as organized popular demands. Along this trajectory, the process of popular self-organization at any given place, the communists walk alongside the people.

If the people gradually reach the conclusion that the corrupt police patrols are not protectors of the people but aggressors against their lives and livelihoods, the worst kind of hoodlums, and if they realize from their own practical experience that self-management over their local affairs is a better guarantee for more security, peace and human life; then this practical realization and the end of the humiliation, will mean the practical discovery of a common cause. The experience of the winter of 1357 (late 1978- early 1979), the spectacular fall of criminality, the practical distribution of needed goods in different neighborhoods, particularly in working class and southern districts of cities, all are experiences still remembered today due not only to the mass mobilization of the people but especially due to people's foresight in forming neighborhood committees. The communists stand alongside the people so that this time around nobody shall hijack these committees in the name of ideology or for any particular economic interests.

2. Communists
"Communists" means the collective practice of all those working for connecting the mass struggle for particular and localized demands, with social justice as their horizon, and with a belief in the possibility of self-management/control in places of work and living. Based on these principles communists expend effort in organizing the laboring forces and the people. Acting among the people, in small groups, means multiplying the communist ideals. I believe that this definition helps best in overcoming many obstacles. Communism is an old ideal. In this land of Iran, those in the Mazdaki insurrection (c. 496 AD) were among the forerunners of this ideal. This ideal is based on a single thought: By sharing the collectively produced wealth, by participation of all in the running of society, we will achieve social justice, legal and real equality, and the possibility of growth and freedom for each individual, regardless of color, creed or religion.

This old ideal, with the dawn of capitalism and the development of culture and sciences, nowadays is not only a possible vantage point, but a necessary way out of the existing misery. Our world does not have much forte left for speculative total destruction and private benefit of a few. It is enough to look at the torched earth of Africa, abandoned by Capital, or to look at the destroyed environments in Iran or all over the world. This ideal, today more than ever, is attainable; it is enough to just see that humanity today has achieved levels of science and innovation unparalleled in human history. Production and intellect are intimately connected. Even for farming a plot of land, you need at least some years of schooling. Such were inconceivable only two hundred years ago. The fact that capitalism had a progressive role in this development is not disputed, at least not by communists who have read Marx. The point, though, is that this progressive function is relative and historical, not eternal. And the last two hundred years have shown clearly that Capital's governing logic is today not only insufficient and unfeasible, but is in fact a detriment to both creativity and people's wellbeing. Shantytowns and slums, governance by corruption, torture camps such as Kahrizak and Aslavié industrial complex (a remote petro-industrial complex, infamous for its inhuman working conditions_ trans. note), the Basiji's, and the last thirty years of Iranian history, all attest to this.

Furthermore, I think that the specific form for struggle should be a function of the ideal. Political parties were one of the basic forms in the struggles during the 20th century. Political party formation in its widest social sense, not only in Iran but in the majority of places in the world, was synonymous to communists’ commitment. This, however, in my opinion, does not necessarily mean that this form is extra-historical. Based on historical conditions, and the dominant social relations, including security considerations, we must responsibly ask: Is this form efficient today, does it contribute to multiplication and dissemination of the communist ideal and to organization of the people?

3. Analysis for doing what?
I think that the criteria for any concept, be it grand or small, about the world, the era or Iran, is the conjectural conclusions of the communists' efforts and organizing experience; otherwise, abstract thinking will waste your labor, and academism will have us happily busy with rearranging and recomposing successive draft evaluatings. Understanding capital's mechanisms and dynamics, understanding the present antagonisms and the current movement's place within the world and the region, all these must be discussions and arguments that, just like tools of labor, aim at societal intervention. So, perhaps the most appropriate thing to do is to ask questions whose meaningful absence is an obstacle in the path of the new generation of communists.

Will the mercantilist capitalists, those in the House of Trade [Otaaqh-e Baazargaani] and Merchants' Associations [Hey'ate Mo'talefe], still exist if this state falls, or will they perish? Why will they perish? If the state were their representative and not the other way around, why would their existence be dependent on that state? Why is it that for the last thirty years, except for the war years, we have faced a constant and increasing growth of the service sector, educational sector, and financial capital? What is the exact nature of the foundations [bonyaad's_ government run, formally 'private' corporations run crony-capitalist style _ trans. note] and the Revolutionary Guards? Why is it that the Iranian banking system can be bankrupt, according to the official sources of the regime itself, yet some capitalists, whom some friends have generously given the honorary label of bourgeoisie, exist? Why didn’t they react? Is it because it is still a weakling of a class, in transition? If that is the case, then where does all this huge volume of liquidity in circulation come from, where does it become capital, and where does it go; where is the circulation of capital?

The experiential givens and tangible facts, which fit our lived experiences and are observable in the available data, must be relevant for our analyses. Why have some friends fallen so in love with "Iran's transition from something to something," or with "Iran's capitalist malformation"? Malformation can only mean that there is a prototype somewhere else. I think one problem is the frequently misunderstood phrase, 'a capitalist society'. Nowhere on earth is the society limited to capitalism, nor is capitalism a laboratory experimental phenomenon. Capital has its own logic, which is fundamentally alien to human considerations. It is the closed circuit of production, distribution and accumulation: neither humans nor their environment find any place in its calculations, unless they are factors for increase or stabilization of the rate of profit. The civil legal codes of a European society (if this is what the notion of malformed Iranian capitalism refers to) is not the exact copy of capital's logic, but the outcome of a long struggle between capital and the laboring forces, affecting the legal institutions of those societies.

Also, analysis must not be merely a 'know-it-all' type of expression. The objective is to better understand how Ahmadinejads can be reproduced in the heart of this society, and how these creatures and the state apparatus is connected to the world capitalist system. And from those two questions, firstly to arrive at conclusions that make it impossible for a system of oppression to exist, and secondly to designate the material conditions of possibility for communism.

In a forthcoming writing, I will return to these questions. In the current situation, I believe that the most important principle must be the readiness, with open eyes, to accompany the movement and to render blunt and ineffective the dreadful and oppressive violence. Wherever the machinery of oppression thinks they have driven us back, we have just avoided the range of their bullets, in order to set up new spaces in our next steps. The cooperation of the street and work place, the neighborhoods and places of work will change the directions taken by the movement. The changes of direction, in order to become stable forms of self-management, will need the knowledge and the effort of those who, in practice, believe in freedom and people's equality, regardless of color or creed.