Archive for the 'HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS' Category

Mass Murder in Mexico Demands Greater Awakening in US

October 8, 2014

NEWLOGO

Reading about Mexico reminds me of El Salvador. Older Salvadoran sensations —the smell of rotting flesh mixed with the sweet fragrance of almond trees, the sight of young faces burned into half skeletons that look like the masks our kids wear for Halloween, the unforgettably sad sound of a dead student’s mother screaming without ceasing—  insinuate themselves as I read other stories about the mass graves of Mexican students killed by their government. This news affects me differently from the nonstop reports about the more “sanitized” warfare of drone strikes against “terrorists.” One major difference: my stomach knots as I read the articles about this latest mass killing in Mexico, a country that barely had a military in the 1980′s, when those Salvadoran almond trees became the trees of the knowledge of good and evil.

The difference in reading experience mirrors the difference between our news and perceptions about Mexico and our news and perceptions about other Latin American countries. Even though no country is closer to us in terms of sharing both a border and a massive population of its nationals living here, mass murders by Mexico’s government are reported, read and treated far differently than real and alleged human rights violations in other countries in the hemisphere—all of which spells more terrible news for Mexico, and for many of us here.

jutsicia

In Mexico, our failure to recognize the real dimensions the Mexican crisis means we’re blind to an equally disturbing fact: our government’s continued use of our tax dollars in the Drug War pay for the training, guns and bullets that slaughtered those students. This despite the fact that some of the same former Mexican presidents who received billions to fight that same Drug War now say that that war is a trillion dollar failure of titanic proportions. Less heard are the cries of the families of the students buried in the mass graves of Guerrero, who join Mexico’s more than 80,000 Drug War dead, thousands of whom were journalists, priests, human rights advocates and others whom like the students, were killed by government security forces we help fund. Viewed through a regional hemispheric lens, the children and young people migrating here from Mexico and Central America are walking, talking reminders of our utterly failed and extremely biased policies in the region.

Earlier this year, I traveled to Venezuela several times to cover the widely-reported conflicts there. I did so because I sensed something was not quite kosher about U.S. media reporting on students in Venezuela, who, instead of following the tradition of fighting U.S.-funded projects like those in Mexico, are actually the recipients of U.S. funding. After reading this week’s violence in Mexico, the journalist in me couldn’t  help but ask, “What would happen if police or other security forces of the Venezuelan government killed 43 students and buried them in a mass grave?” 

The journalist’s answer I came up with is informed by what we saw during last summer’s upheavals: high profile denunciations by global human rights organizations, interviews with Venezuelans in Miami and front page headlines with the word “Killings” as the operative verbs next to sentence subjects and objects like “Students” and “Maduro Government.”

On one September day just two weeks ago, an estimated 43 students are alleged to have been disappeared and killed by Mexican police linked to drug cartels. That is equal to the total number of people killed in Venezuela during the 2014 protests—at least half were allegedly killed by paramilitaries and students opposed to the Venezuelan government. All 43 in Venezuela were killed over the course of not one day, but 160 days or four months. Looking at the media coverage and the official responses from government and non-governmental institutions, one would think that Venezuela was Mexico or wartime El Salvador. Such a distorted understanding of regional realities among the citizenry of such a powerful country enables those perpetrating slaughter in Mexico to continue doing so.

Despite all this terrible news, I do think that the radical disproportion in both reporting and policymaking circles will soon face a major challenge: students themselves. In line with the Salvadoran and U.S. youth who altered U.S. policy in El Salvador and following the dynamic activism of students leading social movements around the world, the young people of Mexico are showing great courage before their country’s critical situation. With millions of DREAMers and other U.S. students and others engaged with Mexico through familial relationships, it’s only a matter of time before the same kind of activism that fought and exposed the two million deportations and other devastating immigration policies of the Obama Administration starts to inform Obama and the next U.S. president’s foreign policy in Mexico.

Such a combination —Mexican and U.S. youth joining forces to stop the madness— has the potential to change not just Mexico, but the United States, as we are witnessing with the decline and fall of traditional Republican and Democratic party immigration politics. Increasingly, Latinos are and will continue engaging far and beyond the ballot box, beyond the sterile, suffocating smell of the militarized border as the winds of the south awaken us with a deeper knowledge of the good and evil hidden in the smell of almond trees.

***

Roberto Lovato is a writer and a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for Latino Policy Research. You can follow Roberto on Twitter @robvato.

Why the Media Are Giving a Free Pass to Venezuela’s Neo-Fascist Creeps

April 1, 2014

Luis García Britto
Luis García Britto (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

 

April 1, 2014

 

The novelist, essayist, historian and playwright Luis Britto García is a titan of Latin American literature and thought, though he’s not nearly as well known on this side of the cultural border between “America” the country and América the continent. Many consider this prize-winning author the most important writer and intellectual in Venezuela. In addition to his novels and many other books on language, culture and politics, Britto García has written extensively on the role of the media in Venezuelan politics. Earlier this month,Nation contributor Roberto Lovato met with Britto García, 73, in his home in Caracas to talk about the role of the media in the current conflict.

Roberto Lovato: You’ve written a lot about the media and politics in Venezuela. How are the media behaving in the current conflict?

Luis Britto García: The current situation in Venezuela has a historical context that must be understood. During the previous coup attempt, in 2002, the television networks in particular played a determining role in what amounted to a media coup. The media themselves became political actors, something I’ve documented in my book Media Dictatorship [2012]. Just consider, for example, how the Carmona decree—in which the coup leaders essentially gutted the Constitution—was signed by representatives of the major media. This same media also edited out images, stories and facts that didn’t fit their narrative.  During the coup, the television crews even showed up before the repressive acts were performed by the coup leaders.

And how are things similar or different today?

In this current coup attempt, the television networks have adopted a different tone, but the radio and social media and international press are playing a leading role, using images of repression in Egypt, Syria, the United States and other countries to depict supposed repression in Venezuela. Look, for example, how a few hundred violent students come to symbolize “students,” “youth” and “the country.”

Are you saying images of rock-throwing, tire-burning youth are inaccurate or fake?

No. I’m saying we’re a country of 29 million inhabitants. I’m saying that in Venezuela, nine and a half million Venezuelans are studying. Of these, more than 2.5 million are in higher education. What does that mean? That almost one in ten Venezuelans are in higher education. The overwhelming majority of them are in perpetually free institutions. This whole image that the media try to convey of a “student rebellion,” which [jailed opposition leader] Leopoldo López tries to project—the image that all youth are against the government, against [President Nicolás] Maduro, against Bolivarianism—is absolutely false. Yes, clearly there are young people who are against the government, for various reasons. We’re a free country, and people can think however they like. But it’s just a fraction, a small minority of the entire student population—something the international media aren’t reporting.

And what else do you see being edited out of the current Venezuela story in the media?

There’s an important split in the right that is also not being reported. To begin with, they’ve lost eighteen of the last nineteen major elections—and they’ve protested all of them, except the single referendum that they won. It’s also important to point out that López is being projected as the latest in a long line of messiahs of the right, even though he doesn’t even pull together the vast majority of the [voters] of the right. The right supported [former presidential candidate Henrique] Capriles Radonski in three elections, and he lost all of them. In the internal elections of the right, López ended up in third place; I think he got something like 2 percent of eligible voters. So, like I told you, the right wing in Venezuela is very divided. It plays with a messiah who’s going to hand them an instant paradise, and if he doesn’t do it, they become disillusioned, disenchanted with him, which is precisely what will happen with López, who has a strong rift with Capriles. López and his ally, María Corina Machado, another extreme right-winger, have chosen the option of desperate street violence. Capriles, meanwhile, has cautioned against “generating false expectations of change through street actions.”

So how did Capriles and López come to prominence?

There was a collapse of the traditional parties. From this void emerged the idea of founding another right-wing party. Study the rise of Capriles, López and their right-wing parties, and you see how weird politics in Venezuela are.

What do you mean?

Before becoming leaders of the right, López and Capriles spent part of their youth in an almost comical group called “Tradition, Family and Property.” It was a fanatical fascist group, somewhere between a religious and a political organization. They used to stand out on street corners of urban neighborhoods with large Superman-style red capes, berets, things like that. It was this ultra-super-reactionary, right-wing group. Yes, red-caped, like Superman! From there, they became the right-wing Primero Justicia [Justice First] party, which arose out of a television show begun by a lawyer named Julio Borges [now leader of Primero Justicia].

A television show? You mean that Primero Justicia, one of the most important parties of the right and a party that WikiLeaks cables tell us was partly funded for more than a decade by the United States through the National Endowment for Democracy, actually started thanks to a TV show?

Yes. Out of nowhere, all of the sudden Borges has a show on television that’s calledJustice for All. It was a show where he played the role of a justice of the peace, and plaintiffs were brought before him. These are often neighbors suing each other, and he tries to offer a sort of charismatic mediation of disputes. [In the show they] had the litigants pass through a narrow hallway so that they would run into each other, getting into fights and hitting each other.

Sounds like court shows in the United States.

Yes, it’s copied from reality shows in the United States. The curious thing, however, is that this program was converted into a political party under the leadership of Julio Borges. From Justice for All, Borges and his allies created Primero Justicia. The right needed something like a political right wing, because the social democratic and the social Christian parties that have traditionally dominated Venezuelan politics were so discredited that they didn’t constitute a force any longer. This new party was developed on one side by Capriles, and on the other side by López. So, the media also had a role in helping to create the current leaders and splits in the right.

Are you saying that the strategy and tactics of the right have an element of political and media theater? In a way. Look at the violent actions like grabbing and holding middle-class people prisoners in neighborhoods with barricades called guarimbas. I’ve never understood it. This “strategy” was “invented” by a Cuban-Venezuelan named Robert Alonso, brother of a Hollywood actress, Maria Conchita Alonso, who did a movie with Schwarzenegger. Mr. Alonso invented the guarimba as a way for a fractious minority to gain media attention by shutting off the street. They chuck trash or debris or waste so that their neighbors can’t get in our out. It gets media attention, but also immobilizes the right, a real political marvel. The guarimberos are cutting themselves off from the very people who could support the right. You hear the complaints, but not in the news reports. So what are you thinking, shutting down, burning down your own neighborhoods?

What do you think will happen?

We’ve seen a lot of this before. The cameras like the guarimbas, but, looked at from within the country, it’s a ludicrous political action. Insane. They tried this out before, in 2004, and it failed. They’ve had political messiahs like Leopoldo López, most of whom have been forgotten. You saw the future in the recent Carnaval celebrations. The right called for a boycott of Carnaval. The poor rejected their call and filled the beaches and the streets with their celebrations. Yet again, the international media didn’t take notice. The Colombian novelist William Ospina says that in the entire world, the rich celebrate and the poor protest. Only in Venezuela do the poor celebrate and the rich protest.

Fauxccupy: The Selling and Buying of the Venezuelan Opposition

March 15, 2014

lr

MARCH 13, 2014 BY 
EDITOR’S NOTE: Latino Rebels contributor Roberto Lovato visited Venezuela last week and wrote the following opinion piece. As of this morning, according to reports, the death toll resulting from the protests in Venezuela is at 25. The most recent violent events have occurredin San Cristóbal, near the Venezuela/Colombia border.

Faux1

CARACAS—Reports and imagery coming out of Venezuela in the past weeks would lead the casual observer to conclude that the country’s youthful opposition are “peaceful protesters” following a long line of global youth activism seen during the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement or in other parts of Latin America. Such a conclusion would be false, as the news from Venezuela’s protests contains journalistic practices that are very questionable and on an unprecedented scale.

Consider, for example, how both sides have killed people. The corporate media (both in English and in Spanish) have failed to cover the eight (or more) pro-Chavista victims of student and other opposition violence. No one is investigating claims that the majority of the killings were committed by the opposition. The radical erasure of pro-Chavista victims is astonishing. The following image, for instance, allegedly shows Venezuelan opposition students setting up barbed wire that beheaded an innocent cyclist, 29 year-old Elvis Rafael Durán de La Rosa, whose death eluded most global media.

Faux2

Another example used in the carefully curated Venezuela media reports pertains to the images of rock-bearing youth wearing Guy Fawkes masks, a popular symbol of anti-capitalist movements, thanks to a Hollywood movie and, more recently, the Occupy protests.

Last week, I conducted interviews with opposition members, including dozens of opposition youth. Amost all of the youth were middle- to upper-class university students living in middle-class to ultra-elite neighborhoods of Caracas, the wealthiest in the Americas. Asked it they identified with  ”anarchists,” “Marxists”  or any of the other oppositional ideologies that have historically and which still define most opposition movements in the region, these students uniformly responded in the negative, with some even throwing in a “para nada!” or other Spanish equivalents of “hell no!”

Some interviewed even told me they identified with military men like El Generalísimo Marcos Pérez Jiménez, a much reviled former dictator. They also identified with Venezuela’s opposition, led by three elites —Henrique Capriles, María Corina Machado and Leopoldo Lopez— all of whom have direct familial ties to either the owners or top executives of the most important corporate conglomerates in Venezuela and the entire continent.

So ask the following question: If the Venezuelan opposition is led by millionaires in a poor country and if instead of fighting multi-million dollar US policy initiatives (as do most Latin American opposition movements) the Venezuelan opposition is receiving million$ from US policy, how do we account for all those images of students wearing a symbol associated with and used by leftist movements?

The answer is threefold. One is that the mask-wearing is part of the very sophisticated media training the students (and the opposition) received from OTPOR/CANVAS and other consultants bought with millions of US dollars. Second, students engaging in violent acts or those who fear retribution need cover. Finally, there is the logic of the market—people buying the masks because they’re cool and because someone saw a chance to make a buck, which is what I mostly documented in the photos I took last week.

Faux4RL

fauxccupy-vRL

(Photos: Roberto Lovato)

Without closely analyzing the imagery and careful curation of the Venezuelan opposition, one would conclude that this opposition is just like Che Guevara or Occupy or the Arab Spring. And with Venezuelan student opposition leaders like Yon Goicochea receiving the $500,000 Milton Friedman prize and other funding from private sources as well as from the U.S. government, there’s much more behind the Guy Fawkes masks in Venezuela than meets the media eye. And we may be witnessing the birth of something altogether new and radically different in the insurgent continent of América: Fauxccupy.

***

Roberto Lovato is a writer and dissonant dude. You can read more at his blog. You can also follow him on Twitter @robvato.

 

Venezuela’€™s opposition is united against Maduro, but internally divided

March 7, 2014
ajam
History suggests it may be difficult to overthrow a Venezuelan government without support from the country’€™s have-nots

venezuela

Cristian Hernandez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

CARACAS — His face and muscular arms sweating, hands dirtied from the sand-filled sugar bags he dragged toward the makeshift rampart blocking half of his street, Emilio Palacios’ immediate political struggle was with his mother. “No, Mama, no!” he yelled toward his mother, Maria Bravo, a longtime resident of the Chacaito district of Venezuela’s capital. “No!” he repeated, after hearing her tell Al Jazeera that the purpose of the barricade under construction in front of their apartment was “getting rid of this government.”

Measuring his words, he offered a different explanation. “We’re here as students to protest against the insecurity in the country and scarcity and the killing of students by the National Guard,” said Palacios, an engineering student at Central University. “This is not a protest against the government. We’re sending a message to the government.”

“OK. We have differences,” responded Bravo, a 48-year-old publicity and marketing executive, while sitting in a plastic lounge chair alongside her dog, Bruno, who almost knocked over a makeshift sign saying “Resistencia SOS Venezuela.”

On the anniversary of the death of socialist President Hugo Chavez, his successor, Nicolas Maduro, faces the biggest challenge to his 10-month-old government. Demonstrators frustrated by a long string of electoral defeats in municipal, gubernatorial and presidential election challenges to the Chavistas are exploring new strategies: taking to the streets to demand Maduro’s resignation as a solution for rampant crime and food shortages. But history suggests it may be difficult to overthrow a Venezuelan government without support from the country’s have-nots, and they have yet to be seen mimicking the burning of garbage or smashing of concrete seen in more well-off neighborhoods.

“Yes, we’re here to support the students, to protest the waiting in lines for food like we were in Cuba,” Bravo continued. “But we’ll be in the streets until this nefarious government, until this dictatorship goes, until Maduro renounces!” Asked how the crisis affects her well-groomed mixed sheepdog, she said, “Four kilos of dog food costs 400 bolivares ($63). Four hundred bolivares! Absurdo!”

A visibly tense Emilio raised his eyebrows, nodded his head from left to right and rushed down the street to continue gathering tree trunks and sugar bags to fortify the barricade. The lines of burning garbage, rocks and dead trees were not clearly drawn. Neither are the political divisions within Venezuela’s opposition.

The family argument between Palacios and Bravo reflects wider differences in the opposition involving politics, strategy and tactics over the protests and street clashes that have left 18 dead, including some Chavistas. While Chavez built the base of his movement among Venezuela’s poor and working class, the current protests are centered in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods. The movement challenging Maduro is led by wealthy and privileged individuals, some of whose photographs feature regularly on the society pages of El Universal and other newspapers. And they seem unable to agree on whether change will be achieved via the ballot box and negotiation or through insurrection and violence — and also on who should lead the opposition. What they are united over is their desire to end crime and shortages, but also to reverse the Chavez legacy of major government spending in housing, education and other social programs, limits on profits that can be made by companies and other socialist initiatives.

The most visible leaders of the opposition — former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, the telegenic Harvard-educated former mayor of Chacao Leopoldo Lopez and Lopez’s closest ally, Maria Corina Machado — all hail from families that own or have powerful positions with conglomerates in media, food and other industries. All are connected to middle- and upper-class student groups currently protesting in the streets of Caracas. And WikilLeaks cables suggest that the key protest groups have, over many years, been the beneficiaries of hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. “democracy promotion” assistance.

Despite efforts to project unity at recent rallies and marches, deep differences divide the opposition. Lopez and Machado are seen as promoting the more confrontational street actions to end Chavismo, but other opposition leaders fear that those tactics will alienate the larger public. Some opposition leaders even called for a moratorium on protests out of respect for commemorations of Chavez this week — a call that was ignored by student leaders and Machado.

Capriles and his key allies, including a number of industrialists, are more inclined to press for negotiations with Maduro, signaling discomfort with the more radical approach of the unyielding “Salida” (“Exit”) call by Lopez, Machado and many student groups on the streets who demand Maduro’s ouster. Capriles ally Lorenzo Mendoza, one of the wealthiest people in Venezuela, recently stood alongside Maduro to report on the National Conference for Peace, convened by the president and attended by leaders in politics and industry. “This is a convening to build a peace agenda,” declared a solemn Mendoza to a national audience.

Statements like Mendoza’s also reflect growing discomfort on the right with some of the student violence, like that which ended the life of Santiago Henrique Pedroza Longa. He was a 29-year-old motorcyclist who was beheaded by barbed wire put up by students at the behest of a pro-opposition retired general who had tweeted instructions on how to “neutralize the criminal hordes on bikes.”

And then there are the more radical student activists who distrust the close ties between fellow student groups and well-connected, well-heeled leaders of the political parties. “Leopoldo Lopez is a prefabricated martyr engaged in political theater designed to promote him as the new leader of the opposition,” said Joshua Cespedes, a 20-year-old working-class student protester and member of the Organization of Nationalist Students (ORDEN). “Capriles is the same, but he’s losing ground to him because people on our side are getting desperate and want quick solutions,” he said on Sunday at an opposition protest, standing next to a colleague hiding his face behind large, dark shades and a black poster with big white letters saying “Negotiation = Submission.”

Cespedes and other youth founded ORDEN after concluding that “politics in Venezuela is controlled by international interests. The opposition is controlled by the U.S. and Obama, and the government by Cuba. So the only solution is a nationalist solution.”

ORDEN traces its nationalist legacy to El Generalissimo Marcos Perez Jimenez, a former dictator, whose repressive policies eventually brought about his demise. Many years and several political defeats later, Perez Jimenez’s legacy still brings division to the right. After unfurling a banner with a picture of the smiling generalissimo, members of ORDEN were violently challenged by supporters of rival opposition groups during a widely televised opposition gathering on Jan. 23, 2013. “We were beaten with our own flags, punched, kicked at and dragged out of the conference — all at the hands of our ‘allies,’” said Cespedes. Despite the internal tensions, he said, he and the other members of ORDEN will “continue to organize and agitate in the streets.”

Striking a philosophical pose about the possibility of continued student clashes with Venezuelan government forces, 62-year-old Edith Mujica, Secretary for Organization for Caracas in Primero Justicia — the political party founded by both Lopez and Capriles — worried that the continued confrontation will not yield the desired results. “We may learn that all this excitement in the streets turns out to be an error,” said Mujica. “We might actually end up looking like we don’t want peace. We may even end up strengthening Maduro and the Chavistas. And we all agree we don’t want to do anything to make them stronger than they already are.”

El Turno del Ofendido (The Offended’s Turn): Liberación Consciousness on 4th of July

July 6, 2013

corazon revolucionario

(NOTE: Best read while listening to the hope-filled song that, along with Roque Dalton’s El Turno del Ofendido & the ferocious spiritual and physical freedom fighting of all my Compañer@s de Lucha, inspired these lines, What You Say by Pete Rock & InI <Thanks, Ali!>

Liberacíon consciousness on 4th of July weekend: celebrate the absolutely undeniable, certifiably good and positively righteous fact that, despite the uber, techno-mediafied surveilling Big Mega Corporate-Military-Industrial Money domination of it all, despite the illusory psychological operation of this super duper f…n anti-terrorist-militarized-border-anti-human climate changing empire power, despite all that pointing at each and every single one of us, despite it all, liberation consciousness lives,  Liberacíon movements grow. Millions of us still really really feel “Venceremos” (Victory is Ours) as we fight thru the duration. So, rather than celebrate offensive  “freedom” on this Fourth of July,  “Independence Day” weekend, We, El Pueblo, We hold these truths to be self-evident and celebrate instead the Real Thump and Bump of that heart that still thuds & thunders divinely for the Better Day. Still strong -and living inside the Bestia! We have already torn down that border wall blocking our hearts. You cannot and will not divorce us from global liberation. Neither is global annihilation an option. Really. Lo siento pero, Global Liberacion still lives, it loves and we is fighting back to win.  Es el turno del ofendido. It’s the Offended’s Turn. Solamente, R

 

Revolutionary Mexico Bringing the “Continent of Light” Closer to US Darkness

June 30, 2012

Todos somos Mexico.

Imagining that US elites are none too comfortable having thousands upon thousands of brown youth chanting, “Si hay imposicion habra revolucion!” (If there’s an imposition, there’ll be revolution) just a migration, a phone call, a familia member away.

The sparks of what Jose Marti called “el continente de la luz” (the continent of light) are starting to spill over onto the darkness of these United States, exposing Obama and US elite’s anemic “hope” in all its deathly falsity. Let us shine forth with the rest of América.

Healing the Hurt of War and Violence: Guatemalan Government Apologizes for US-Sponsored Coup of 1954

October 21, 2011

Huge spiritual news from Guatemala. Today’s New York Times reports that

More than a half-century after Guatemala’s elected president Jacobo Arbenz Guzman was overthrown in a coup planned by the C.I.A. and forced into a wandering exile, President Alvaro Colom apologized on Thursday for what he called a “great crime.”

While much of the media adopted the ‘too little, too late’ theme in their headlines ( NYT-An Apology for a Guatemalan Coup, 57 Years Later, BBC’-Guatemala ‘sorry’ for Arbenz coup) I actually saw this story and thought “What a colossally great thing!”  “Great” because, for anyone that has some sense of the staying power of violence-induced trauma in Guatemala and other Central American countries during the wars of the 1980’s, it’s obvious that today’s apology represents a colossal contribution to the necessary  healing of the collective psychic wounds of war & violence. The apology institutionalizes and attacks directly the erasure of memory that keeps these psychic wounds of war and violence perpetually festering. Makes one look (momentarily) past the political calculations that likely inform this move by the failed left (allegedly) government of President Colom.

Nonetheless, this is psychically huge for un pais tan sufrido like Guatemala.

As important is that the United States respond to former President Jacobo Arbenz, who, after the coup, declared “Here started the injustice and I [call on] the United States to recognize their errors.” The US sponsored the military and deployed the CIA in the political and human tragedy that followed the coup:systematic assassinations, disappearances, torture and other crimes against humanity. The US government should follow the lead of the Guatemalan government with a formal apology to the Guatemalan people for its Definitive role in the 54 coup-and its bloody laundry list of crimes against humanity in Guatemala (and throughout the world) One Fine Day.

Still, I join my Guatemalan friends in celebrating this victory of Truth over Amnesia…

To (Re)Gain Latino Voter Trust, Obama Must End SCOMM

October 18, 2011

A piece I wrote about the record-breaking, family-breaking pace of the imprisonment and deportation regime that is the Obama Administration’s preferred policy.

 

 

 

Last Sunday, during a speech made at the dedication of the monument honoring the Reverend Martin Luther King, President Obama declared, in King-like cadences, that the slain civil rights leader “stirred our conscience.”

The president, who is desperately trying to win back Latino votes lost since 2008, went on in the speech to say that King reminds us “to show compassion to the immigrant family, with the knowledge that most of are just a few generations removed from similar hardships.” He has also taken to engaging in high-profile appointments and meetings with Latino media executives, like Univision’s president, César Conde, and Latino superstars like Shakira.

While Obama’s meetings and his words of compassion for immigrant families are most welcome, the president’s deeds – and their effects on immigrant families – provide a stunning and tragic contrast.

As documented in Tuesday’s broadcast of PBS Frontline’s ‘Lost in Detention‘ documentary, President Obama’s policies have led to the record and heart-breaking deportation of more than 1 million immigrants, the separation of thousands of families, and the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands forced to live in subhuman conditions in what some of us are calling “Obama’s Immigrant Gulag.” Detainees fall victim to rape and sexual abuse, racism, having to eat worm-infested and rotten food, physical and psychological abuse, the denial of basic rights and other humiliating conditions.

At the heart of this immigrant tragedy is a radical racial profiling program known as “Secure Communities,” or S-COMM, which turns local and state law enforcement officers into immigration officers who are beginning to ask everyone – citizen and non-citizen – for their papers simply because they look a certain way.

By the tens of thousands, Latinos, one of the groups most profiled under S-COMM, will watch the documentary, which will speak to the concerns about the president’s immigration policies and about which an increasing numbers of us are growing angry and impatient.

Polls, like the Latino Decisions-ImpreMedia, conducted in August 2011, tell us definitively that most Latino voters know one of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Presente.org and its allies in 10 cities will call on the Obama Administration to do away with the rotten fruits of S-COMM and other immigration policies he promised to either alter or abolish altogether. The absolute failure and damage of these immigration policies have been thoroughly documented by lawyers, immigrant rights groups and, increasingly, journalists like those responsible for tonight’s unprecedented documentary.

Trying to cover up and divert the attention of the public, especially the now very fed up Latino voter public, will not work. Trying to blame the failure of S-COMM, a program of the executive branch of government, by handing over responsibility to Congress, the legislative branch, as Cecilia Muñoz, Obama’s top advisor on immigration, has done repeatedly, will not work.

Latinos are not stupid. We will not accept the false statements and diversionary tactics of apologists for the abominable immigration policies of the administration.

To (re)gain trust of Latino voters, Obama must make fundamental changes to the immigration laws he can change at will, as he proved on August 18, when he announced slight changes to immigration policy after groups across the country protested his campaign offices, including his campaign headquarters.

Until President Obama makes more fundamental changes to his dangerous immigration policies, we will take back the slogan that Obama the candidate borrowed from Latinos – “Sí Se Puede/Yes We Can” – and use it for our efforts to both stop S-COMM and abolish Obama’s Immigrant Gulag.

Roberto Lovato is Co-Founder and Strategist at Presente.org.

 

El tiempo está a favor de buenos sueños (Time is on the Side of Good Dreams)

October 15, 2011

Gazing @ the bright red map that is today’s #Occupiedworld, mobilizing w millions of like-spirited humans, breathing in the sigh of gratitude for our heroines & their children, I am reminded that we would not be here were it not for the parents, the teachers, the mentors and, most especially, the martyrs whose breath still inspires (as in “take in spirit”) that which many had already relinquished to the Powers That Be , Real Hope.

 

 

El tiempo está a favor de los pequeñosde los desnudos, de los olvidados.

El tiempo está a favor de buenos sueños

y se pronuncia a golpes apurados.

Of América’s Anthem: Latinoamérica by Calle 13

September 30, 2011

 

For those of you that haven't heard it, this song by the ever-incisive 
Calle 13, speaks to the sensibilities-cultural, political, visionary- that 
inform this blog. Check out the lyrics (below) as you play the vid. One thing 
i would add: include those of us in the new country we're
giving birth to-the United States of América.

Latinoamérica

Soy,
Soy lo que dejaron,
soy toda la sobra de lo que se robaron.
Un pueblo escondido en la cima,
mi piel es de cuero por eso aguanta cualquier clima.
Soy una fábrica de humo,
mano de obra campesina para tu consumo
Frente de frio en el medio del verano,
el amor en los tiempos del cólera, mi hermano.
El sol que nace y el día que muere,
con los mejores atardeceres.
Soy el desarrollo en carne viva,
un discurso político sin saliva.
Las caras más bonitas que he conocido,
soy la fotografía de un desaparecido.
Soy la sangre dentro de tus venas,
soy un pedazo de tierra que vale la pena.
soy una canasta con frijoles ,
soy Maradona contra Inglaterra anotándote dos goles.
Soy lo que sostiene mi bandera,
la espina dorsal del planeta es mi cordillera.
Soy lo que me enseño mi padre,
el que no quiere a su patria no quiere a su madre.
Soy América latina,
un pueblo sin piernas pero que camina.

Tú no puedes comprar al viento.
Tú no puedes comprar al sol.
Tú no puedes comprar la lluvia.
Tú no puedes comprar el calor.
Tú no puedes comprar las nubes.
Tú no puedes comprar los colores.
Tú no puedes comprar mi alegría.
Tú no puedes comprar mis dolores.

Tengo los lagos, tengo los ríos.
Tengo mis dientes pa` cuando me sonrío.
La nieve que maquilla mis montañas.
Tengo el sol que me seca  y la lluvia que me baña.
Un desierto embriagado con bellos de un trago de pulque.
Para cantar con los coyotes, todo lo que necesito.
Tengo mis pulmones respirando azul clarito.
La altura que sofoca.
Soy las muelas de mi boca mascando coca.
El otoño con sus hojas desmalladas.
Los versos escritos bajo la noche estrellada.
Una viña repleta de uvas.
Un cañaveral bajo el sol en cuba.
Soy el mar Caribe que vigila las casitas,
Haciendo rituales de agua bendita.
El viento que peina mi cabello.
Soy todos los santos que cuelgan de mi cuello.
El jugo de mi lucha no es artificial,
Porque el abono de mi tierra es natural.

Tú no puedes comprar al viento.
Tú no puedes comprar al sol.
Tú no puedes comprar la lluvia.
Tú no puedes comprar el calor.
Tú no puedes comprar las nubes.
Tú no puedes comprar los colores.
Tú no puedes comprar mi alegría.
Tú no puedes comprar mis dolores.

Você não pode comprar o vento
Você não pode comprar o sol
Você não pode comprar chuva
Você não pode comprar o calor
Você não pode comprar as nuvens
Você não pode comprar as cores
Você não pode comprar minha felicidade
Você não pode comprar minha tristeza

Tú no puedes comprar al sol.
Tú no puedes comprar la lluvia.
(Vamos dibujando el camino,
vamos caminando)
No puedes comprar mi vida.
MI TIERRA NO SE VENDE.

Trabajo en bruto pero con orgullo,
Aquí se comparte, lo mío es tuyo.
Este pueblo no se ahoga con marullos,
Y si se derrumba yo lo reconstruyo.
Tampoco pestañeo cuando te miro,
Para q te acuerdes de mi apellido.
La operación cóndor invadiendo mi nido,
¡Perdono pero nunca olvido!

(Vamos caminando)
Aquí se respira lucha.
(Vamos caminando)
Yo canto porque se escucha.

Aquí estamos de pie
¡Que viva Latinoamérica!

No puedes comprar mi vida.

Honduras: ¿quién le paga a Lanny Davis?

July 26, 2009
Lanny Davis
“Si quiere comprender quién es el poder verdadero detrás del golpe de estado” [hondureño], dice Robert White, presidente del Centro de Política Internacional con sede en Washington D.C., en una reciente entrevista, “halle quién le paga a Lanny Davis”.

Davis, un aliado de la familia Clinton mejor conocido como el abogado que defendió a Bill durante los procedimientos de enjuiciamiento presidencial, se presento recientemente en Capitol Hill para cabildear entre miembros del Congreso y prestar testimonio en el Comité de Relaciones Exteriores de la Cámara de Representantes contra el exiliado presidente Manuel Zelaya. White –quien sirvió previamente como embajador de Estados Unidos en El Salvador– creía que esa información sobre quienes eran los clientes de Davis sería “muy dificil de encontrar”.

Pero fue facil. Davis, un socio del bufete de abogados Orrick, Herring, & Sutcliffe, los nombró abiertamente. Sus clientes son los mismos poderosos detrás del golpe de estado militar. “Mis clientes representan CEAL, la sección hondureña del Concejo Empresarial de América Latina”, dijo Davis el jueves pasado en su oficina. “Y no represento al gobierno ni hablo con el presidente [Roberto] Micheletti. Mis principales contactos con Camilo Atala y Jorge Canahuati. Me siento orgulloso de representar a empresarios comprometidos al gobierno de la ley”, dijo Davis. Atala, Canahuati y otras familias con intereses corporativos y que son representados por Davis y la CEAL se hallan en la cúspide de una pirámide económica en la que el 62% de la poblacion vive en la pobreza, de acuerdo con el Banco Mundial.

Jorge Canahuati

Jorge Canahuati

Para muchos hondureños y observadores de Honduras, la confirmación de que Lanny Davis trabaja para familias poderosas y establecidas en Honduras es significativa. Para ellos, demuestra que Davis está al servicio de los intereses empresariales que administraron, reprimieron y pusieron en la ruina a Honduras en las décadas previas al viraje hacia la izquierda del gobierno de Zelaya.

“Los golpes de estado no suceden porque un buen día a algunos militares y políticos se les ocurre una buena idea”, dijo White cuando se enteró para quién trabaja Davis. “Los golpes de estado ocurren porque hay gente muy muy rica que quiere que sucedan y ayudan a que sucedan. Es gente acostumbrada a considerar el pais como una máquina de hacer dinero para ellos y para quienes toda legislación social que beneficie a los pobres como una amenaza sus intereses. El salario medio de un trabajador en zonas libres de impuestos es de 77 centavos la hora”.

“La tragedia es”, agrega White, “que los Canahuatis y los Atalas y otros grandes empresarios no comprenden que es para su beneficio ayudar a que la gente gane decentemente, se reduzca la cesantía y se aumente el salario mínimo”.

Davis no está de acuerdo. Cree que la tragedia de Honduras radica en Zelaya y que el presidente causó el golpe. “Es innegable que Zelaya violó la Constitución. Mi deber es aclarar los hechos”.

Al preguntársele si le molesta representar a empresarios vinculados con gobiernos golpistas denunciados e irreconocidos por Naciones Unidas, la Organización de Estados Americanos y muchos países en todo el mundo, incluyendo Estados Unidos, Davis responde que “hay hechos referentes a Zelaya que el mundo no conoce. Me enorgullece representar clientes que apoyan la decisión de la secretaria de Estado Hillary Clinton de apoyar la mediación del presidente Arias en el conflicto. Pero mi principal preocupación es la seguridad de la gente de Honduras”.

Davis no es el único preocupado con la seguridad de la gente de Honduras. El Comité de Familias de Detenidos-Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH), una ONG de derechos humanos, publicó la semana pasada un informe que documenta más de 1.100 violaciones a los derechos humanos, desde detenciones arbitrarias, ataques físicos, asesinatos y ataques contra los medios de comunicación por parte del gobierno y elementos clandestinos afines a éste. Todos ocurrieron después del golpe del 28 de junio.

COFADEH responsabiliza del golpe y el terror que causó de manera directa a muchos de los fundadores de la Alianza para el Progreso y Desarrollo de Honduras (APROH), un predecesor de CEAL. Aunque ya no existe, APROH unió en sí a varios de los mismos intereses empresariales y militares que componen el núcleo político y económico de la extrema derecha hondureña, incluyendo a los Canahuatis, los Atalas y otras familias y negocios de CEAL representados por Davis.

El prontuario de cumplimiento de los derechos humanos por parte del predecesor de CEAL es menos que estelar. En 1983, el diario hondureño El Tiempo filtró un documento de APROH que recomienda una solución militar para los problemas de Honduras y el resto de Centroamérica, a la Comisión Kissinger de Ronald Reagan, un comité bipartidario que estaba encargado en aquel entonces de formular la política estadounidense en la región. Más revelador aún, APROH es considerado por COFADEH y otras organizaciones de derechos humanos como la eminencia gris detrás de las ejecuciones de los escuadrones de la muerte conocidos como el infame Batallón 316 durante los años ochenta.

Enterado de las declaraciones de Davis, José Luis Galdamez, un periodista de Radio Globo, ríe: “Davis, o ignora Honduras o a sabiendas ensangrenta su nombre y el de los Clinton a cambio de mucho dinero”, dice. Galdamez tuvo que bajar a la clandestinidad recientemente después de que miembros de las fuerzas armadas y elementos paramilitares le agredieron a él y a sus colegas. Los militares cayeron sobre la estación de radio, golpearon a los empleados y les amenazaron por trabajar en uno de los pocos medios de comunicación dispuesto a “informar lo que realmente sucede en Honduras”, dice Galdamez.

“Me gustaría que Davis viniese aqui, donde estoy escondiéndome, para mostrarle cómo se siente estar amenazado, no solamente por [el presidente de facto] Micheletti y el ejército, sino por los Canahuatis y otros grupos de poder que él representa”, dice Galdamez.

Galdamez, así como Gilda Rivera del Centro para Derechos de la Mujer y otros entrevistados para esta historia temen que al contratar al aliado de Clinton Davis, Canahuati, Atala y CEAL utilicen el brillo liberal del partido Demócrata de Estados Unidos para desviar la atención de la historia detrás del actual golpe de estado en Honduras.

Camilo Atala

Camilo Atala

“Los ricos simplemente envían a matarte y matan con impunidad. Jamás investigan quién mató a quién, porque los grupos en el poder controlan los medios de comunicación, el poder judicial y ahora tienen nuevamente el control del gobierno”, dijo Galdamez. “Davis trata de legitimizar a gente que utiliza la violencia y la intimidación psicológica. Representa los intereses de un estado terrorista”.

En una reciente declaración en la que condenaba el golpe, COFADEH describió a sus seguidores como “el mismo grupo que durante los ochenta era conocido como la Alianza para el Progreso y el Desarrollo de Honduras, que mantiene el terror a través de escuadrones de la muerte”. El informe de COFADEH contiene documentos sobre cuatro casos de asesinatos extra judiciales, incluyendo la muerte a tiros, el 5 de julio, del joven Isis Obed Murillo de 19 años, que fue expuesta posteriormente en un vídeo explícito colocado en YouTube.

En cuanto a las violaciones de los derechos humanos cometidas por el gobierno de Micheletti, Davis nuevamente culpa de la crisis a Zelaya. “He investigado los hechos de lo que ocurrió durante la presidencia de Zelaya. El condujo la violencia de la turba y eso se puede ver en un video de YouTube”.

Cuando insisto acerca de la toma estremecedora de la muerte de Isis Murillo, Davis responde: “¿Se ve en el video a quien disparó? Hay que conocer los hechos”. Agrega: “Si me demuestran en los hechos que mis clientes están implicados en violaciones de libertades civiles, renunciaré”.

(Este artículo fue inicialmente publicado en The American Prospect. Gracias a Gabriel Lerner y nuestros amigo(a)s de HispanicLA por su exitosa traduccion del articulo.)

Our Man In Honduras

July 22, 2009

Our Man In Honduras

war

“If you want to understand who the real power behind the [Honduran] coup is” says Robert White, president of the Washington-based Center for International Policy, during a recent interview, “you need to find out who’s paying Lanny Davis.”

Davis, an ally of the Clinton family who is best known as the lawyer who defended Bill during the presidential impeachment proceedings, was recently on Capitol Hill lobbying members of Congress and testifying against exiled President Manuel Zelaya before the House Foreign Relations Committee. White, who previously served as the United States ambassador to El Salvador, thought that such information about Davis’ clients would be “very difficult to find.”

But the answer proved easy to find. Davis, a partner at the law firm Orrick, Herring, & Sutcliffe, openly named them — and his clients are the same powerful Hondurans behind the military coup.

“My clients represent the CEAL, the [Honduras Chapter of] Business Council of Latin America” said Davis when reached at his office last Thursday. “I do not represent the government and do not talk to President [Roberto] Micheletti. My main contacts are Camilo Atala and Jorge Canahuati. I’m proud to represent businessmen who are committed to the rule of law,” said Davis. Atala, Canahuati, and other families that own the corporate interests represented by Davis and the CEAL are at the top of an economic pyramid in which 62 percent of the population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank.

For many Hondurans and Honduras watchers, the confirmation that Davis is working with powerful, old Honduran families like the Atalas and Canahuatis is telling: To them, it proves that Davis serves the powerful business interests that ran, repressed and ruined Honduras during the decades prior to the leftward turn of the Zelaya presidency.

“No coup just happens because some politicians and military men decide one day to simply take over” says White upon hearing who Davis is working for “Coups happen because very wealthy people want them and help to make them happen, people who are used to seeing the country as a money machine and suddenly see social legislation on behalf of the poor as a threat to their interests. The average wage of a worker in free trade zones is 77 cents per hour.”

“The tragedy” adds White, “is that the Canahuatis and the Atalas and the other big businesspeople don’t understand that it’s in their best interest to help to do things like help people make a decent living, reduce unemployment and raise the minimum wage.”

Davis disagrees. He believes that the tragedy of Honduras lies with Zelaya and that the president brought the coup upon himself. “It is an undisputed fact that Mr. Zelaya has violated the constitution. It’s my job to get the facts out.”

Asked if he had qualms about representing business people linked to a coup government denounced and unrecognized by the United Nations, the Organization of American States and many countries across the globe (including the United States), Davis responded, “There are facts about Mr. Zelaya that the world community may not be aware of. I’m proud to represent clients who support the decision of Secretary of State Clinton to back the mediation of President Arias in the conflict [between Zelaya and coup leaders]. But my biggest concern is safety and security of the Honduran people.”

Davis is not the only one concerned about the safety and security the Honduran people. The Committee of Families of Disappeared-Detainees in Honduras (COFADEH), a non-governmental human rights organization, released a report last week documenting over 1,100 human rights violations — arbitrary detentions, physical assaults, murders, and attacks on the media by the government and affiliated clandestine forces — that have occurred since the coup began on June 28.

COFADEH has also placed responsibility for the coup and the terror it has wrought directly on many of the founders of the Alliance for Progress and Development of Honduras (APROH), a predecessor of CEAL. Though now defunct, APROH brought together some of the same business and military interests that compose the political and economic hub of Honduran’s radical right, including the Canahuatis, Atalas and other CEAL families and businesses represented by Davis.

The CEAL predecessor’s track record on human rights has been less than stellar. In 1983, Honduras’ El Tiempo newspaper leaked an internal APROH document that recommended a military solution to problems in Honduras — and the rest of Central America — to Ronald Reagan’s Kissinger Commission, a bipartisan committee charged with formulating U.S. policy in the region. Perhaps more damning, APROH is considered by COFADEH and other human rights organizations as the eminence grise behind the death squad killings conducted by the infamous “Batallion 316” in the 1980s.

Upon hearing Davis’ statements, Jose Luis Galdamez, a journalist for Radio Globo, laughs. “Mr. Davis is either ignorant of Honduras or is knowingly bloodying his name and that of the Clintons for lots of money,” he says. Galdamez recently went into hiding after members of the armed forces and paramilitary organizations harassed him and his colleagues. The military raided his radio station, beat workers there and threatened them for working at one of the few independent media outlets willing to “report about what’s actually happening in Honduras,” says Galdamez.

“I wish Mr. Davis would come here where I’m hiding so I can show him what it’s like to feel threatened not just by [de facto Honduran President] Micheletti and the military, but by the Canahautis and other groups of power he represents,” says Galdamez.

Galdamez, Gilda Rivera of the Center for Women’s Rights, and others interviewed for this story fear that, in hiring Clinton ally Davis, Canahuati, Atala and CEAL are using the liberal sheen of the Democratic party to divert attention from the dark history behind the current Honduran coup.

“The rich simply send you out to kill you and then kill with impunity. They never investigate into who killed who because the groups in power control the media, control the judiciary and now control the government again,” says Galdamez. “Mr. Davis is trying to legitimize people who use psychological intimidation and violence. He’s representing the interests of state terror.”

In a recent statement denouncing the coup, COFADEH described its backers as “the same group that in the 1980s was known as Alliance for Progress and Development of Honduras, which maintains its terror thru death squads.” The COFADEH report documents four cases of extra-judicial killings, including the July 5 shooting of 19 year-old Isis Obed Murillo, captured in a graphic video subsequently posted on YouTube.

Asked about human rights violations by the Micheletti government, Davis again places the onus for the current crisis on Zelaya. “I researched the facts on what occurred during the presidency of Mr. Zelaya. Mr. Zelaya led mob violence and you can see that on a YouTube video.”

When pressed about the grisly footage of the shooting of 19 year-old Isis Murillo, Davis responded, “Is there a video of the shooters? We need to know the facts.” He added, “If you can show me facts proving that my clients are involved in violations of civil liberties, I’ll resign.”

(This article appeared originally in the American Prospect, http://www.prospect.org)

Honduran Women at Forefront of Resistance to Coup

July 22, 2009

http://orhpositivo.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/20090628elpepuint_91.jpg

Honduran Women at Forefront of Resistance to Coup

New America Media, Interview, Roberto Lovato, Posted: Jul 22, 2009

Editor’s Note: For more than a week, Honduran women’s groups backed by more than 5,000 other activists led a takeover of the National Institute of Women (INMU) to protesting the appointment of a coup supporter as director of the organization. NAM contributing editor Roberto Lovato spoke by phone to Gilda Rivera, one of the leaders of the uprising, about the role of women and women’s organizations in the Honduran crisis. Rivera is the director of the Honduran Center for Women’s Rights (CDM).

Q: What motivated you and other women to take over the INMU?

At the center of the coup crisis here in Honduras is fundamentalism – fundamentalist religion, fundamentalist military and fundamentalist business. These are the powers behind the coup, and they also represent the greatest threat to women and women’s rights. They want to cut any and all advances made by women.

This threat is being made concrete by the appointment of coup supporter Maria Martha Díaz Velásquez to head the INMU. We’ve taken this building because we cannot allow the illegitimate government to start pushing its program on women. And we have solidarity of many other sectors that have joined us.

Q: What role are women playing in the opposition to the coup and why don’t we hear more about this participation?

From the very beginning, women have been protagonists in the opposition (to the coup). The main sources of information in the country are owned and run by the backers of the coup.

Of course, you don’t see this in the media reports because the media will only show right wing women in a positive way. If they are depicted at all, before and after the coup women acting on behalf of women in Honduras are depicted in the most negative way as communists, as haters of family.

Q: What is the current situation facing women in opposition to the coup?

Repression increases. Our organization and others have documented more than 1,000 human rights violations in the weeks since the coup started. The [Roberto] Micheletti government and the military are chasing people and going into their homes, including many women’s – they’re restricting movement [of people].

Q: Is your organization being affected and if so, how?

Our offices are being surveilled. Members of our organization have been threatened. The radio show of our organization was taken off the air because it’s considered a threat. Other women’s organizations have also been attacked.

Q: And how is this impacting women in general?

These represent attacks not just on us, but on women in general. Fundamentalist Christian and Catholic church leaders are frontal enemies of women. For years, evangelicals like Vice Chancellor Marta Lorena Alvarado have pushed to oppress women. They have stopped birth control and AIDS prevention programs, closed sex education programs and generally promote a very traditional role for women at home and at work. And in a country run by the military and the oligarchs, who benefits from keeping women in a subservient role?

Q: What should women in the United States know about the situation you and other women in Honduras face?

Women and men in the United States should know that we women in Honduras are standing strong. They should know that we do not think your government or any other government should recognize or deal with illegitimate governments like this one. Nobody should be negotiating with coup leaders. Your government plays a key role and must do more to isolate the coup government. And conservative religious and business groups from here are trying to build support for the coup among their peers in your country.

Q: How are you planning to follow up on the INMU action?

We took over the INMU in order to show that women are angry and active about what is taking place in our country, and we’re still angry. We’re going to continue taking to the streets and will continue resisting until President Zelaya, the democratically elected of the country, is reinstated.

We do not dialogue with sectors supporting the coup. We will continue mobilizations. We are launching national forums to discuss and debate about the coup. Our organization and others are monitoring human rights violations. Many groups are considering a general strike.

Thousands of women have taken to the streets and participated in acts of denunciation. Women have contributed and will continue to contribute to the democratic process of Honduras.

Honduras’ El Libertador Puts Faces-and Names- on “Los Golpistas”, coup ring leaders: BIG BUSINESS

July 21, 2009

El Libertador

image

Considering the repressive conditions under which it was published, this statement by El Libertador demonstrates courage on a scale little known to most. In it, the editors name the names and show the faces of those they believe are the true power behind the coup-powered Micheletti regime in Honduras.

As the Obama Administration starts considering its next steps inl ight of the impending failure of its Arias-led negotiations, some are already calling for tougher measures, measures applied to other regimes, measures like denying the visas and freezing the bank accounts of those found to be both financing and benefiting from state terror as if the government aparatus is some kind of repressive slot machine. Some will probably see the Libertador’s list as a list of whose bank accounts to start freezing, whose visas to revoke.

You can read the statement in its entirety below.

These are the Coup Leaders, They Will be Judged!

(Editorial by the daily El Libertador of Honduras)

These are the coup leaders: 1) Carlos Flores Facussé; 2) Rafael Leonardo Callejas; 3) Cardenal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez; 4) Adolfo Facussé; 5) Armida de López Contreras; 6) Schucry Kafie; 7) Elvin Santos; 8) Emilio Larach; 9) Enrique Ortez Colindres; 10) Pastor Evelio Reyes; 11) Felícito Ávila; 12) José Alfredo Saavedra; 13) Jorge Canahuati; 14) Jorge Yllescas; 15) Juan Ferrera; 16) Juan Ramón Martínez; 17) Carlos López Contreras; 18) Billy Joya; 19) Ana Abarca; 20) Rafael Ferrari; 21) Juan José Pineda; 22) Vilma Morales; 23) Marcia Villeda; 24) Renato Álvarez; 25) Ramón Custodio; 26) Rafael Pineda Ponce; 27) Olban Valladares; 28) Pastor Oswaldo Canales; 29) Ricardo Maduro; 30) Romeo Vásquez Velásquez; 31) Porfirio Lobo Sosa; 32) Ricardo Álvarez; 33) Antonio Rivera; 34) Guillermo Pérez Cadalso; 35) Mauricio Villeda; 36) María Martha Díaz; 37) Antonio Tavel Otero; 38) Luis Rubí; 39) Toribio Aguilera; 40) Ramón Velásquez Nassar; 41) Elán Reyes Pineda; 42) Luz Ernestina Mejía; 43) Martha Lorena Casco; 44) Rodolfo Irías Navas; 45) Rigoberto Chang Castillo; 46) Mirna Castro; 47) Gabriela Núñez; 48) Hugo Llorens.

1. All of these people used their positions to plot, cause, or finance the breakdown of constitutional order with the kidnapping and extradition of President Zelaya, which culminated in the coup.

2.  They are directly responsible for the deaths, injuries, imprisonment, and the unease imposed upon Honduran society; they have destroyed democracy and ruined Honduras’ image nationally and internationally.

3.  The coup leaders reactivated the anti-terrorist and anti-communist organization called the Alliance for Honduras’ Progress (APROH), which operated in the 1980s.  Their greed and lack of culture prevented them from understanding that the people are free to choose the political and ideological system that will offer them security and well-being.

Tegucigapla.  This time their names and faces will go down in history, and Hondurans and citizens of the world will remember them.  They will be judged by society and by national and international courts.

The coup plotters utilized variations on the mechanisms that the Alliance for Honduras’ Progress (APROH) used in the 1980s.  Under the guise of a business organization, it hid clear political doctrine of “low-intensity war against those who opposed the repression of the Sandinista government and against social discontent in Honduras.  United States intelligence financed the organization through the Moon sect.”

“Industrious Businessmen”

Nothing particularly “suspicious” is written in the APROH’s statutes.  A group of businessmen got together to study their problems, with a project to assist other sectors.  The economic model that the associates defended was clear: they advocated laissez faire policies with few mechanisms of control and with many mechanisms to maximize profits.

The associates were required to “guard the confidentiality of the documents and information that they acquired through their participation in APROH activities and that divulging this information could cause harm to its members. [sic]

In the beginning of 1983, soon after its founding, APROH didn’t draw attention to itself.  It was seen as a new attempt to bring together Honduras’ most conservative sectors.  In November of that year, the newspaper “Tiempo” published one of those confidential “documents:” APROH was recommending to the Kissinger Commission, through a personal friend and aid to Kissinger, a military solution for Central America.

Yesterday and Today’s Truth

Military fascism found its place in APROH–then in Gen. Alvarez, the president of that organization, and now [Gen.] Romeo Vasquez.  As now, it was comprised of the country’s far-right business class, although in reality more than being ideological they are corrupt businessmen who have gotten rich because they determine what happens or not in the country.  They are the eternal scroungers who live off financial subsidies, they are the ones who obtain concessions and million-dollar debt forgiveness from the state.  They are the ones who finance and control the political parties and use their influence to have power in the National Congress and in the courts. In short, they are the ones who have the country trapped and don’t allow the advancement of other businessmen and marginalize the people because for them it’s business as usual that they remain ignorant and hungry.  It’s easy for them to manipulate them with the corporate media, as they are doing with this coup.

At the end of 1983, [there was] a rumor that the United States embassy was concerned about what it saw as the consolidation of a pressure group within the country that was very conservative and very vulnerable to criticism, as is the case now.  The coup leaders are once again a problem for the United States.  Then, the APROH was dormant for many years, but it awoke on the morning of June 28, 2009, to carry out its work: overthrow the President, manipulate through the corporate media, extra-judicial executions that no one will know about, repression, and psychological war in order to confuse people.

Who Were the Members?

Gen. Gustavo Alvares was the boss, the man in charge of APROH.  Rafael Leonardo Callejas admitted that when he was the APROH’s Secretary of Student and Worker Affairs–which hoists the flag of anti-communism–he worked so that Osawlado Ramos Soto would be the rector of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH).

The Moon Sect, a well-known religious organization, collaborated with this organization.

The APROH was created by Álvarez Martínez during the Roberto Suazo Córdova administration as the precursor to the Security Doctrine and responsible for dozens of political assassinations and disappearances in the country.  José Rafael Ferrari, Miguel Facussé, Fernando Casanova, Rigoberto Espinal Irías, Benjamín Villanueva and ex-union leaders Andrés Víctor Artiles and Mariano González were also members.

Osmond Maduro, brother of the ex-president and coup leader Ricardo Maduro Joest, was also a member, [as well as] national and international bankers; textile and chemical industry, agribusiness, and television barons; and the technocrats.  All of them were represented in the APROH.

Now look on this page at the coup leaders; they are members of the new APROH.  There is no difference between them and those of the past.  Some of them are even the same: Miguel Facussé, Rafael Leonardo Callejas y José Rafael Ferrari.

_________________________________________


Know the “Brainwashing Codewords” the Coup Leaders Use to Manipulate Hondurans

The coup leaders’ fierce psychological war waged through their corporate media, which are the driving force behind media in this country, reproduces codes of mass manipulation of the population’s mind.  For example, it is legal to kidnap the President, because he is Chavez’s friend.  Micheletti is good, because he hates Fidel and Daniel and Chavez.

by El Libertador

Tegucigalpa.  The brainwashing the coup leaders use as its prototype of Honduran democracy can be decoded as seeing what’s bad as good, illegal as legal, and the usurper as necessary because he loves the country.

The coup as a “constitutional succession” and the hatred of Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega, and Fidel Castro justifies a breakdown of the rule of law and the soldiers’ savagery against protesters who demand a return to constitutional order.  Those who seek the path of a country where the law is respected are rabble-rousers and vandals, and those who support the dictatorship dress in white because they are pure. They are patriots because they sing the national anthem and demand democracy, which is the same as defending Micheletti because he shares the desire for peace and harmony in Honduras.  Many are incapable of understanding that this is how the masses are manipulated by means of the method known as “fool catchers.”  Others who have weak minds belong to families that have gotten rich off of the misery of the majority of the population.

The Democracy Code According to the Coup Leaders:

Democracy = no Chavez-no Fidel-no Ortega;

Democracy = the rich are innocent, the poor are guilty;

Democracy = Yes to he who breaks the law for our own good, no to Mel who breaks the law for the good. [sic]

Democracy = I support Micheletti and I am a peacemaker, you support Mel and you break windows;

Democracy = I love the Cardinal, you forget our father (and you offend the cardinal);

Democracy = corrupt, more or Zelaya [sic], but hate Chavez and hate Fidel [sic]

Democracy = Kidnapping Mel is good, opposition’s bloodshed is good and repression is good, communism is bad.  Mel is a communist.  The coup leaders don’t respect life nor the law because the protect us from bad.

Democracy = Mel is dangerous because of Chavez, Daniel, and Fidel.  Micheletti only seeks the good for everyone.  Micheletti is good, Mel is bad.

Democracy = Chavez and Fidel want to impose strange ideologies on Hondurans.  Mel is Chavez and Fidel’s friend, to loathe Mel, Chavez, and Fidel is good because we are Hondurans.

Source: Popol Nah Foundation for Local Development

¡Estos son los golpistas, el soberano juzgará!

Estos son los golpistas: 1) Carlos Flores Facussé; 2) Rafael Leonardo Callejas; 3) Cardenal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez; 4) Adolfo Facussé; 5) Armida de López Contreras; 6) Schucry Kafie; 7) Elvin Santos; 8) Emilio Larach; 9) Enrique Ortez Colindres; 10) Pastor Evelio Reyes; 11) Felícito Ávila; 12) José Alfredo Saavedra; 13) Jorge Canahuati; 14) Jorge Yllescas; 15) Juan Ferrera; 16) Juan Ramón Martínez; 17) Carlos López Contreras; 18) Billy Joya; 19) Ana Abarca; 20) Rafael Ferrari; 21) Juan José Pineda; 22) Vilma Morales; 23) Marcia Villeda; 24) Renato Álvarez; 25) Ramón Custodio; 26) Rafael Pineda Ponce; 27) Olban Valladares; 28) Pastor Oswaldo Canales; 29) Ricardo Maduro; 30) Romeo Vásquez Velásquez; 31) Porfirio Lobo Sosa; 32) Ricardo Álvarez; 33) Antonio Rivera; 34) Guillermo Pérez Cadalso; 35) Mauricio Villeda; 36) María Martha Díaz; 37) Antonio Tavel Otero; 38) Luis Rubí; 39) Toribio Aguilera; 40) Ramón Velásquez Nassar; 41) Elán Reyes Pineda; 42) Luz Ernestina Mejía; 43) Martha Lorena Casco; 44) Rodolfo Irías Navas; 45) Rigoberto Chang Castillo; 46) Mirna Castro; 47) Gabriela Núñez; 48) Hugo Llorens.

1 Cada una de estas personas desde su posición maquinó, motivó o financió la ruptura del orden constitucional con el secuestro y extradición del Presidente Zelaya, consumando así el golpe de Estado.

2 Son responsables directos de los muertos, heridos, encarcelados y de la zozobra impuesta a la sociedad hondureña; son los que destruyeron la democracia y la imagen del país en el ámbito nacional e internacional.

3 Los golpistas reactivaron la organización antiterrorista y anticomunista que funcionó en la década de 1980 llamada Alianza para el Progreso de Honduras (APROH). La falta de cultura y avaricia les impide razonar que los pueblos son libres de elegir el sistema político e ideológico que le ofrezca seguridad y bienestar.

Redacción / EL LIBERTADOR

Tegucigalpa. Esta vez los nombres y los rostros quedarán para siempre para que la historia y los hondureños y el mundo los conozca, y sean llevados al juzgado de la sanción moral de los ciudadanos y a los tribunales de justicia nacionales e internacionales.

Los urdidores del golpe de Estado contra Zelaya pusieron en marcha una variante de la maquinaria que en la década de 1980 utilizó la Alianza para el Progreso de Honduras (APROH) que bajo un disfraz aparentemente empresarial, pero debajo escondía líneas políticas doctrinarias claras de “guerra de baja intensidad contra los opositores a la represión contra el gobierno sandinista y el descontento social en Honduras. El financiamiento de la organización lo trasladaba la inteligencia de Estados Unidos a través de la secta Moon”.

“EMPRESARIOS LABORIOSOS”

En los estatutos de APROH no aparece nada especialmente “sospechoso”. Un grupo de empresarios se asocian para estudiar sus problemas, con una proyección asistencial hacia otros sectores. El modelo económico que defendían asociados era claro: presionar por políticas de libre empresa con escasos mecanismos de control y con múltiples mecanismos para maximizar la ganancia.

A los socios se les exigía “guardar la debida confidencialidad sobre los documentos o informaciones que conocieran mediante su participación en las actividades de APROH y que la divulgación pudiera causarles perjuicios a sus miembros.

Recién creada, en el primer semestre de 1983, APROH no llamó la atención de nadie. Se veía como un nuevo intento de cohesionar a los sectores más conservadores de Honduras. En noviembre de ese año, diario “Tiempo” publicó uno de esos “documentos” de uso interno: APROH recomendaba a la Comisión Kissinger, a través de un amigo personal y asesor de éste, la solución militar para Centroamérica.

LA VERDAD DE AYER Y HOY

Rata.gifEn APROH se reúnen el fascismo militar que representaba en aquel entonces el general Álvarez -presidente de la Asociación y, ahora Romeo Vásquez. Estaba integrada como ahora por la ultraderecha empresarial del país, aunque en verdad más que ideología son empresarios corruptos enriquecidos porque lo se hace o no en el país lo determinan ellos. Son los eternos vividores de prebendas fiscales, son los que obtienen concesiones y perdones de deudas millonarias con el Estado. Son los que financian y controlan a los partidos políticos e influyen para colocar sus cuadros en el Congreso Nacional y en el Poder Judicial. En suma, son los que tienen atrapado el país y niegan la superación a otros empresarios y marginan al pueblo porque para ellos es negocio que siga ignorante y con hambre, así les resulta fácil manipularlo con sus medios de comunicación como pasa en este momento con el golpe de Estado.

A fines de 1983, los rumores sobre la preocupación con que la embajada de Estados Unidos veía el consolidamiento de un grupo de presión tan conservador y tan vulnerable a la crítica al interior del país, igual que ahora, los golpistas se han vuelto un problema para los mismos Estados Unidos. Entonces la APROH fue dormida por muchos años, pero la despertaron en la madrugada del 28 de junio de 2009 para consumar su trabajo: botar al Presidente, manipular a través de los medios de comunicación, ejecuciones extra judiciales que nadie sabrá, represión a propios y extraños y guerra sicológica para confundir al pueblo.

¿QUIÉNES ERAN LOS MIEMBROS?

El general Gustavo Alvares era el jefe, el hombre a la cabeza de la APROH, Rafael Leonardo Callejas reconoció que cuando era secretario de asuntos obreros y estudiantiles de la Aproh –que enarbolaba la bandera del anticomunismo, se impulsó a Oswaldo Ramos Soto para que llegara a la rectoría de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH).

Es de señalar que la APROH fue creada en el gobierno de Roberto Suazo Córdova por Álvarez Martínez, máximo precursor de la Doctrina de Seguridad y responsable de decenas de asesinatos y desapariciones políticas en el país.

Esta organización contaba con la colaboración de la “Secta Moon”, una organización religiosa conocida en todo el mundo.

Es de señalar que la Aproh fue creada en el gobierno de Roberto Suazo Córdova por Álvarez Martínez, máximo precursor de la Doctrina de Seguridad y responsable de decenas de asesinatos y desapariciones políticas en el país. En la Aproh también estaban José Rafael Ferrari, Miguel Facussé, Fernando Casanova, Rigoberto Espinal Irías, Benjamín Villanueva y los ex dirigentes sindicales Andrés Víctor Artiles y Mariano González.

Esta organización también tenía entre sus miembros a Osmond Maduro, hermano del ex Presidente y golpista Ricardo Maduro Joest. Los personajes de la banca nacional y extranjera, los de las industrias química y textil, los de la agroindustria y la televisión y los de la tecnocracia. Todos estaban representados en APROH.

Ahora usted mire en esta página a los golpistas más representativos, son los miembros de la nueva APROH. No hay diferencia con los del pasado, es más, algunos son los mismos: Miguel Facussé, Rafael Leonardo Callejas y José Rafael Ferrari.

****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Conozca el “código de palabras lava cerebros”

de golpistas para manipular a los hondureños

La feroz guerra sicológica de los golpistas a través de sus medios de comunicación, que son la mayor fuerza mediática del país, reproduce en la mente de la población códigos de manipulación de masa, por ejemplo, es legal secuestrar al Presidente, porque es amigo de Chávez; y micheletti es bueno, porque odia a Fidel a Daniel y a Chávez.

Redacción / EL LIBERTADOR

Tegucigalpa. El prototipo de la democracia hondureña en clave que los golpistas reproducen el cerebro de los hondureños, se descifra como ver lo malo como bueno. Al ilegal como legal, al usurpador como necesario porque ama el país.

El golpe de Estado como “sucesión constitucional”, el odio contra Hugo Chávez, Daniel Ortega y Fidel Castro justifica el rompimiento del Estado de Derecho y el salvajismo de los militares contra los protestantes que reclaman la vuelta al orden constitucional. Los que buscan el camino de un país donde se respeten las leyes son chusma y vándalos, y los que apoyan la dictadura se visten de blanco porque son puros, son patriotas porque cantan el Himno Nacional y claman democracia, eso es igual a defender a Micheletti porque comparte el deseo de paz y armonía en Honduras, pero para muchos la incapacidad de entender que así se manipula a las masas mediante la técnica conocida como “atrapabobos” y otros igual de mentes débiles pertenecen a familias que se han lucrado con la miseria de mayor parte de la población.

LA DEMOCRACIA EN CLAVE DE LOS GOLPISTAS:

Democracia = no Chávez-no Fidel-no Ortega;

Democracia = Rico inocente, Pobre culpable;

Democracia = Sí al que viola la Ley por nuestro bien, no a Mel que viola la Ley por el bien.

Democracia = Yo por Micheletti soy conciliador, tú, por Mel rompes vidrios;

Democracia = yo amo al Cardenal, tú, olvidas el padre nuestro (y ofendes al Cardenal);

Democracia = corrupto, mayor o que Mel, pero odia a Chávez y odia a Fidel;

Democracia = El secuestro de Mel es bueno, el derrame de sangre de los opositores es bueno y la represión es buena, el comunismo es malo: Mel es comunista; los golpistas NO respetan la vida ni la ley porque nos protegen del mal.

Democracia= Mel es peligroso por Chávez, Daniel y Fidel, Micheletti sólo busca el bien de todos; Micheletti es bueno, Mel es malo.

Democracia= Chávez y Fidel quieren imponernos ideologías extrañas a los hondureños; Mel es amigo de Chávez y Fidel; aborrecer a Mel, a Chávez y a Fidel es bueno porque somos hondureños.

Fuente: Fundacion Popol Nah Tun Para el Desarrollo Local

***************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Aline Flores, ha jugado un papel vital

antes y después del golpe de Estado

A La Cámara de Comercio e Industrias de Tegucigalpa (CCIT), cuya presidenta es la empresaria Aline Flores, admite que los empresarios han obligado a su personal a marchar de blanco contra el Presidente Zelaya.

B El gobierno de Zelaya le dio un golpe bajo a la empresa Corporación Flores (representante exclusiva de la marca Toyota en Honduras), propiedad del padre de Aline Flores, y donde ella es la gerente general, al descubrir y demandarla ante los tribunales por la venta de automóviles con dispensas falsificadas el caso sólo lo publicó este periódico con el título “Toyotazo”.

C El padre de Aline Flores, Alan Flores, enfrenta un juicio desde hace más de dos décadas por parte del hermano menor Valentín Flores, que lo acusado de haberse apropiado de manera indebida de la participación accionaria que el papá le dejó y que la influencia de Aline y Alan en el sistema judicial y medios tradicionales de comunicación ha impedido que hasta hoy se haya emitido sentencia final.

Redacción EL LIBERTADOR

ALINE.gifTegucigalpa. La Cámara de Comercio e Industria de Tegucigalpa ha jugado un papel importante antes y después del golpe de Estado. Esta cámara es una versión de federación de cámaras hondureñas. Dos días antes del secuestro del Presidente Zelaya, la presidenta de la cámara, Aline Flores, envió esta nota a personajes de dinero solicitando un apoyo que iba de 1,000 a 3,000 dólares y les dijo: “es necesario que el sector privado de Honduras, tome acciones urgentes encaminadas a apoyar la defensa de la democracia y de las libertades sociales y económicas”.

Además, esa cámara repartió panfletos entre sus afiliados exhortándolos a acudir a un “gran plantón” contra Zelaya, quien según ellos “atenta contra tu libertad”. El panfleto dice: “Esperamos que las empresas se hagan presentes con todo su personal”.

LA CAMARA, ANTES DEL GOLPE

Diferentes dirigentes sociales y otras fuentes privadas en contra del golpe denunciaron que muchas de las marchas realizadas en oposición a Manuel Zelaya antes y después del golpe de Estado han estado llenas de empleados a quienes se les obligaba a marchar, con la amenaza latente que de no hacerlo serán despedidos.
Esta versión, desestimada por la prensa tradicional hondureña y algunos medios internacionales, en realidad es muy fácil de confirmar: La Cámara de Comercio e Industria de Tegucigalpa (CCIT), lo confirma en su grupo de contactos en línea por Facebook.

En Facebook hallamos un panfleto que convoca a los empresarios afiliados a un “gran plantón” el 26 de junio (dos días antes del golpe de Estado) en contra de la encuesta promovida por el Presidente Manuel Zelaya, donde dice: “Participa con tu personal en defensa de la democracia”.

LA CAMARA, DESPUÉS DEL GOLPE

Después del golpe de Estado, la Cámara de Comercio de Tegucigalpa llamó de nuevo “a todos los empresarios y empresarias afiliadas: se les invita a participar en el Gran Plantón a realizarse el día Martes 30 de Junio de 2009 a las 10:00 a.m. en el Parque Central de la Ciudad Capital” en apoyo al gobierno dictatorial de Roberto Micheletti. En el mismo, indican: “esperamos que las empresas se hagan presentes con todo su personal“.
Estas protestas fueron mostradas por los medios locales y las cadenas internacionales como una muestra del “respaldo popular” que supuestamente tenía el gobierno golpista de Micheletti.

What Next For Honduras After Failed Negotiations? GRITtv Interview With Laura Flanders

July 20, 2009

https://i2.wp.com/a.images.blip.tv/Lauraflanders-GRITtvJune112009821.jpg

This interview with Laura Flanders is chock full of information and analysis of the current situation, something abysmally lacking in the reporting in the mainstream media. Joining Laura and me is Democracy Now’s Andres Thomas Conteris who just returned from Honduras, lived there for many years and is one of the more knowledgeable people about the current situation that I know.

Of special note is a preview of an article I’m writing that will appear in the American Prospect later this week. The article explores the little known business interests that have hired Clinton ally Lanny Davis to both lobby on their behalf and to attack exiled Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya. The article includes one of the first and only interviews with Davis about the matter. And, as always, the informed and insightful questions from host Laura Flanders provide a fluid foundation for serious inquiry. If you like the clip below,the rest of the 16 minute interview can be found here.

What Kind of “Hope” is Obama Offering Honduras and Latin America?

July 10, 2009

The image “https://i2.wp.com/waterconsciousness.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/150_alternet_logo1-300x123.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

For a U.S. audience, to watch as the wet, pinkish-red jelly — the brains of Isis Odem Murillo, the young man killed last Sunday by the U.S.-trained Honduran military — spill onto those who carried the Christ-like victim was to watch another tragedy unfold in a far off land.

But for those of us familiar with countries in the region like Honduras and El Salvador, where in 1989 U.S.-trained troops literally shot out the brains of six Jesuit priests, their maid and her young daughter, we see reminders of the possible return of the terror that takes friends, family and colleagues.

Such traumatic memories inform the sense of the past in the Americas, the same past that President Barack Obama recently told his hemispheric audience that he wants to break with. We see this, for example, in repeated references to the “past” Obama made during his important speech before the Summit of the Americas meeting in April (“To move forward, we cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements.” Or: “I didn’t come here to debate the past — I came here to deal with the future.”)

Noticeably absent in the forward-looking Obama’s messages to Latin America is one of the two words we all identify him and his presidency with: hope.

Whatever the reasons for this omission, Obama would do well to remember that, in the bloodied streets of Honduras, and throughout the Americas, there exists a powerful political tradition in which esperanza (Spanish for “hope”) is often defined by overcoming the pro-military policies of the country that took as its own the name given to the entire continent — “America.”

Regardless of the outcome of negotiations to end the standoff in Honduras between the de facto military government and the only recognized leader of the country, President Manuel Zelaya, Obama must view the Honduran crisis as an opportunity to support and negotiate with the forces of esperanza on the continent.

He must do so if he is to overcome the past and move forward as he said in his summit speech: “We have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership.”

In the insurgent region of Central America, tiny Honduras is nothing less than ground zero for the first encounter in the hemisphere between the tradition of esperanza and Obama’s still-untested notions of “hope.”

Contrasted against Obama’s still-being-formulated-as-we-speak notions of “hope” and “change” in the region, the movements flying the ancient banner of esperanza have delivered historic shifts across the Americas, as can be seen in the leaders elected in recent years, leaders with no less startling and inspiring stories as Obama’s. Indigenous leaders such as Bolivia’s Evo Morales; socialist single mothers, and former torture victims, like Chile’s Michelle Bachelet; and former steelworkers like Brazil’s “Lula” — Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

In times of great crisis, times in which Obama has yet to consolidate a sense of “hope” about the U.S. system in terms of things like health care, banking and jobs, the U.S. president has little to offer Latin America in the way of an alternative to the strides toward universal health care as in Venezuela and Cuba, the nationalization oil and other wealth redistribution programs of Bolivia or the democratization efforts of the deposed Zelaya in Honduras.

Until “hope” has some heft besides military heft to back it up, “esperanza” of Latin America will reign supreme — and be defended ferociously.

Once called “America’s Backyard” by Obama’s predecessors, América the continent has torn down the fences of what political scientists call the “unipolar” power of the United States in the region as the forces of esperanza usher in a new, more multipolar moment.

For example, many Latin Americans were not just united in calling for an end to Obama’s continuation of the $42.5 million in economic and military aid for Honduras in 2009. (Obama’s just-announced cuts in Honduran military aid can be viewed as either the victory of esperanza or the negotiation between esperanza and hope). Polls show that Latin Americans are also fairly unified with regard to their skepticism about U.S. motives in the hemisphere.

According to a widely quoted poll by the respected Latinobarometro Corp. in November, Latin Americans have a more favorable opinion of Spain, Japan and the European Union than they do of the United States — an unprecedented development — and two-thirds of all Latin Americans say they “don’t believe that the change of leadership in that country (the U.S.) will change the attitude of that country towards the region (of Latin America).”

China, whose foreign aid is mostly non-military (U.S. foreign aid varies between about one-third to two-thirds mostly military aid, as in the case of Colombia), which makes it one of the most important providers of foreign assistance to the region, is tied with the U.S in popularity ratings (58 percent favorable rating) — and trending upward.

He Li, a political scientist at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., the rising popularity of China reflects a resurgent Latin American sovereignty and independence of action. Writing in the North American Congress on Latin America magazine, Li stated, “the Beijing consensus (in Latin America) represents an attractive alternative to its Washington counterpart, largely because Beijing respects the sovereignty of Latin American nations, not meddling in their affairs and certainly not dictating their policies.”

Plus, when compared with the fact that Latin American families who live and work in the U.S. send $50 billion to their families at home — exponentially more than what the U.S. government gives in aid — the fountain of U.S.-led “hope” in the Americas appears to have dried up in Washington.

In the land of esperanza, Obama must recognize that talk of “hope” that is accompanied by continued military funding for governments like those of Honduras or Colombia rings as hollow. And are as increasingly vapid as the political slogans, such as “Si Se Puede” (Yes We Can), deployed by politicians and corporations pilfering beer, burgers and bad foreign policy.

Although the diplomatic dance between the Obama administration and Latin America has just begun, the initial steps in tiny Honduras may not be taken to the tune of “hope,” but to that of esperanza.

(This article appeared originally in Alternet http://www.alternet.org)

Honduran, Latin American & U.S. Activists Prevail: Obama Cuts Military Aid to Honduran Government Obama

July 9, 2009

This report from Reuters confirms that the Obama Administration will cut military aid to the Honduran government. The announcement represents a major victory for activists in Honduras, Latin America and the U.S., who have demanded such action by the Obama Administration since the coup began in June 28th.

Though the aid represents a small amount- $16.5 million-, the political value of this shift in U.S. policy is enormous. Some will try to interpret the Administration’s acquiesence to popular demands (elites never admit to responding to pressure) thru the foggy lens bureaucratic process. But anyone with any political sense knows that the cutoff of military aid would not have happened without the actions-phone calls, letter writing, protests, marches and other pressures-applied directly and indirectly by individuals, organizations and some governments throughout the hemisphere.

While President Zelaya has not yet been reinstated (negotiations begin today), those of us opposed to the coup, those who are helping the Obama Administration do the right thing, should take at least a brief moment to breathe in a deep appreciation of our work. Despite a media blackout, despite opposing the policies of an extremely popular president, the workings of popular hemispheric power continue. And though we should continue actions, we should should continue them in the knowledge that these actions have an impact. Yes We Will.

Latin América’s Neda: Video of Killing of Isis Oved Murillo

July 6, 2009

The parallels -mass protest against military governments, military killing non-English-speaking millenials, worldwide denunciation-could not be greater. But the differences between coverage and official treatment here in the U.S. of the situation in Iran and the situation in Honduras couldn’t be starker. Why? I am working through a piece on this for later. In the meantime, check out this video and see for yourself what most U.S. media and many elected officials in the U.S. are mum about (Warning: this video is extremely graphic, gut wrenchingly so):

“NUESTRO NEDA”: PIC OF HONDURAN YOUTH KILLED BY US-FUNDED MILITARY

July 6, 2009

Picture of our Neda: boy killed by Honduran military with bullets and M-16’s paid for by the U.S. government.

Death, Detention and the Dream of Legalization: GritTV Panel on Immigration Reform

July 3, 2009

This show about the possibilities of immigration reform this year was deftly done by the folks at GriTV. Host Laura Flanders steered panelists in what I think is one of the better discussions on this topic I’ve seen. Check out show which includes Mallika Dutt, Executive Director of Breakthrough, Ravi Ragbir who spent two years in immigration detention and is a member of Families for Freedom, Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice and yours truly. Issues hidden away in the shadows of the debate are brought to light and the results are really infromative. So, check it out the clip below! And if you like it, then check out the full episode here.