Archive for the 'Sovereignty Issues' Category

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

 

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.

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

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“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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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.

Of América Quoted in France’s Le Monde About Honduran Coup

June 29, 2009

LeMonde.fr

This article from France’s Le Monde newspaper, quotes this site on the situation in Honduras. For those of you who read French, here you go:

Honduras : Obama amorce un changement de cap politique
LEMONDE.FR | 29.06.09 | 14h13

epuis 1983, et un coup d’Etat retentissant au Guatemala, l’Amérique centrale n’avait pas connu pareille crise politique. De ce point de vue, la destitution dimanche du président hondurien, Manuel Zelaya, par une junte militaire – et son exil forcé au Costa Rica – marque un nouveau tournant. En particulier pour l’administration américaine, désireuse de donner un nouvel élan à sa diplomatie et d’opérer une rupture manifeste avec l’ère Bush.

//

Barack Obama se savait d’autant plus attendu que les deux pays entretiennent de longue date une étroite collaboration sur le plan militaire, une “task force” (corps expéditionnaire) américaine étant basée non loin de la capitale hondurienne, Tegucigalpa. Sans aller jusqu’à condamner ouvertement le coup d’Etat perpétré contre M. Zelaya, comme l’a fait la communauté internationale, le président américain a tenu des propos mesurés, exprimant sa vive inquiétude et appelant tous les protagonistes “au respect des normes démocratiques, de l’Etat de droit et des principes de la charte démocratique interaméricaine“. “Toutes les tensions et tous les différends qui peuvent exister doivent être résolus pacifiquement par le biais du dialogue et sans ingérence extérieure”, a-t-il affirmé, alors même que le Honduras s’est associé à l’ALBA (Alternative bolivarienne pour les Amériques, alliance politique de gauche). Des propos qui tranchent singulièrement avec ceux de son prédécesseur, George W. Bush.

Car, si sur la forme le verbe est prudent, sur le fond, c’est bien un changement de cap qui semble s’amorcer. En témoignent notamment la volonté de dialogue avec les militaires honduriens et les propos de l’ambassadeur américain à Tegucigalpa, opposé à toute reconnaissance d’un nouveau gouvernement sur place. Le New York Times s’en fait d’ailleurs l’écho lundi : “La condamnation rapide [d’Obama] offre un contraste saisissant avec la façon de faire de l’administration Bush”, souligne le quotidien américain, évoquant l’éphémère tentative de coup d’Etat contre le président vénézuélien Hugo Chavez en avril 2002 ; tentative “soutenue tacitement” par George W. Bush, comme l’ont révélé depuis des documents déclassifiés par la CIA.

Le Time partage cette analyse. Et va même plus loin, en invitant directement Barack Obama à ne pas reproduire les erreurs de son prédécesseur : “Le président Obama doit garder en mémoire combien le souvenir du coup d’Etat avorté de 2002 est encore prégnant en Amérique latine et combien beaucoup, dans la région, demeurent convaincus, non sans raison, que l’administration Bush l’a soutenu.” Pour l’hebdomadaire américain, pas de doute, la stratégie adoptée est la bonne, car elle est la seule à même de briser, ou du moins d’atténuer, la rhétorique “anti-Yankee”. “Son appel contre l’ingérence extérieure et au respect de la souveraineté nationale ce qui apparaissait comme trop souvent ignoré sous l’ère Bush est très subtil”, juge-t-il. “Les gouvernements de gauche d’Amérique latine attendent qu’Obama perde son sang-froid. Mais ce n’est pas le cas […]. Cela les désarçonne complètement”, confirme Michael Shifter, vice-président de l’Inter-American Dialogue (centre d’analyse politique) de Washington, cité par le Time.

Prendre des mesures rapides et ne pas laisser le doute s’installer, c’est aussi ce que recommande Roberto Lovato, éditorialiste reconnu aux Etats-Unis, dans une tribune intitulée “Obama must strongly and unequivocally condemn the coup in Honduras” (“Obama doit condamner fermement et sans équivoque le coup d’Etat au Honduras”). “Si le coup d’Etat représente une formidable occasion de forger de nouvelles relations avec les Amériques, le fait de ne pas le condamner rapidement et sans aucun doute possible nuira considérablement à […] l’image, déjà fragile, des Etats-Unis dans la région”, estime-t-il. Une image d’autant plus écornée, selon lui, qu’elle est encore teintée de soupçons d’implication dans des coups d’Etat en 2006… au Venezuela et en 2008 en Bolivie.

Aymeric Janier

Mision Cumplida Indeed: Salvadorans Inaugurate Funes as They Embark on a Journey Out of Darkness

June 1, 2009

MISION CUMPLIDA

Taken during the celebrations of the historic victory of the FMLN in the recent presidential election, this picture has a power I find hard to describe.

In and of itself, the very simple message hand written on the pancarta -Mission Accomplished: Companeros Fallen in the Struggle- says much about what it took to reach today’s inauguration of Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes. Humble young hands paying homage not to comic book or video game characters, but to heroes from a real-life place: their familia.

The kids in the pic told me that they were there celebrating the life of aunts and uncles who died fighting the Salvadoran government so that they would have a future. In the current context, the sign in the background – “Laboratory, Diagnostic Center”- symbolizes for me the fact that the patient suffering under the cancer of U.S.-sponsored military dictatorship has miraculously improved -and now there’s space for experimentation outside of the rat’s cage of U.S. and corporate domination.

But the clincher for me is the picture’s ciarosucuro effect, the claro-oscuro contrast between the darkness behind the young people, who are the same age as their aunts, uncles and many of the combatants when they fought and died in the 80-‘s and early 90’s, and the light shining on them. The young people are members of the first generation in Salvadoran history that will live free of the darkness of a government dominated by oligarchs and military dictators; The light shining on those kids in the picture has no precedent in either the history of light or the history of children in El Salvador. Mision Cumplida indeed.

Must See Moyers Interview: Mike Davis on “De-globalization,” the Socialist Option and the Role of the U.S. Left

March 22, 2009

Mike Davis, photo by Robin Holland

If we lived in a world in which depth of thought-regardless of political orientation- was publicly recognized and rewarded, my friend and companero (a word he loves), Mike Davis, would have a movie about him called “A Beautiful Mind” (hopefully a better-made, well-acted and ardently personal-is-political version.) One of less than a handful of inspirations for my own preferential option for the Militant Word, Mike is the author of more books than I have time to name here (Late Victorian Holocausts & City of Quartz are among my favorites).

I can think of few thinkers whose depth of analysis, way with words and serious conviction rise to the moment of crisis we face. This interview with Bill Moyers gives Mike the ample space needed for us to appreciate his thought, short of actually reading him.Trust me: you can’t leave listening to Mike without reconfiguring your synapses in some way. Besides introducing concepts like “de-globalizaton,” one of the most interesting things about the interview, which, BTW, Bill conducts nimbly, is that Mike let’s out the lesser-known optimism lurking in his socialist heart. Must Watch Television. Really. Enjoy.

R

CUNY TV Interview on El Salvador Elections

March 22, 2009

This interview with CUNY TV‘s Gary Pierre-Pierre goes over lots of terrain. Thanks to CUNY TV’s Michelle Garcia for conceiving of and developing the idea for what turned out to be a good interview. Enjoy!

Democracy Now! Interview on FMLN Electoral Victory in El Salvador

March 16, 2009

Democracy Now!

You can find what will surely be my most cogent (estoy super cansadisimo, pero contento) interview on yesterday’s elections in El Salvador here at the DN website. Clips from a video interview with President-elect Funes will be forthcoming, depending on what editors tell me. Transcript of interview below. R

Amy Goodman: In El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, of the former rebel FMLN party, has won the country’s presidential election, ending two decades of conservative rule. Funes won 51 percent of the vote to 49 percent for Rodrigo Avila of the ruling right-wing ARENA party. He conceded defeat late on Sunday.

ARENA had won every presidential election since the end of El Salvador’s brutal civil war eighteen years ago. The FMLN was a coalition of rebel guerrillas who fought the U.S.-backed military government during almost two decades in which more than 70,000 people died. Tens of thousands, the majority of those people, died at the hands of the Salvadoran military or paramilitary forces.

Funes is a former television journalist who reported on the years of the conflict and is the first FMLN presidential candidate who is not a former combatant. In his victory speech, he stressed his moderate policies during his campaign and says he intends to maintain good relations with the United States.

President-elect Mauricio Funes: [translated] To strengthen international relations and implement an independent exterior policy based on protection and the boosting the national interest, the integration of Central America and the strengthening of relations with the United States will be aspects of priority on our foreign policy agenda.

Amy Goodman: The Obama government has assured Salvadorans it would work with any leader elected, a departure from the Bush administration, which in 2004 threatened to cut off aid to El Salvador if the FMLN won.

Close U.S. ties saw El Salvador keep troops in Iraq longer than any other Latin American country, with the last of its 6,000 soldiers returning last week. El Salvador had also become a hub of regional cooperation with Washington in the so-called drug war. The country’s economy depends on billions of dollars sent home by 2.5 million Salvadorans who live in the United States.

We go now to San Salvador to speak with Roberto Lovato. He is a contributing associate editor with New America Media and a frequent contributor to The Nation magazine. He blogs at ofamerica.wordpress.com. He met with the President-elect, Mauricio Funes, last night and interviewed him. Roberto Lovato joins us now via Democracy Now! video stream.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Roberto. Can you tell us the climate now in San Salvador?

Roberto Lovato: I would just say — I’ll just quote a song that says, “Y que venga la alegria a lavar el sufrimiento” — “Let the joy come and wash away the suffering.” It’s something on an order I’ve never seen in my life. As a child of Salvadoran immigrants and as someone who’s spent time here and as someone who saw the Obama experience, I really can’t tell you what this is like, when you’re talking about ending not just the ARENA party’s rule, but you’re talking about 130 years of oligarchy and military dictatorship, by and large, that’s just ended last night. You’re talking about $6 billion that the United States used to defeat the FMLN, as you mentioned earlier. You’re talking about one of the most formidable — a formerly political military, now political forces, in the hemisphere, showing the utter failure of not just the ARENA party but of somebody in particular, too, who has a special place in many of our hearts: Ronald Reagan. This is the defeat of Ronald Reagan, nothing less.

AG: Explain what you mean.

RL: Ronald Reagan — well, you mentioned those 70,000 dead. If there’s a single person responsible for the death squad apparatus that pursued many of our family members, that pursued some of us, that killed — according to the United Nations, 95 percent of all the 70,000 to 80,000 people killed were killed by their own government. Ronald Reagan really, really started us along the road to the — what’s even called in Iraq now “the Salvador Option.” And so, $6 billion — it cost Ronald Reagan and the US $6 billion to try to destroy the FMLN.

And now the streets are red, not with the FMLN’s blood, but with young children, boys, girls, elderly people, families dressed in red, joyously celebrating, singing revolutionary songs commemorating a victory that they’ve never known in their lives, coming out of a silence that this country has always known its whole life. And so, I mean, there were tears and not blood in the streets of San Salvador this morning and even now. It’s about 6:00 a.m. You guys got me up a little early, but it’s just something I’ve never seen in my life, and I’m so moved. I wish I had the words to tell you how moved many of us are here right now.

AG: Can you tell us who Mauricio Funes is? Tell us his background.

RL:
Mauricio Funes is, I would say, one of the great symbols of the aspects of democracy brought to El Salvador, thanks to the FMLN bringing the United States and El Salvador to the negotiating table. Freedom of expression was not a possibility under a military dictatorship. And so, the peace accords brought a modicum of political space, in the media, in particular. And so, Mauricio Funes was like a talk-show host who became the biggest media star in El Salvador, one who happened to lean left, who lost a brother during the war, and who is extremely smart, extremely smart.

You know, I interviewed him for about twenty-five minutes last night, and I find him to be a very, you know, smart guy, in terms of foreign, domestic policies, and speaks with great details and not the usual inanities and simplistic nonsense that most Salvadoran politicians I’ve spoken of — about for most of Salvadoran life. And so, he came as a breath of fresh air, to the point where even 46 percent of the evangelical vote in El Salvador — an extremely conservative evangelical vote, I might add — voted for him.

AG: Explain, finally, Roberto Lovato, speaking to us from San Salvador, the significance of this election of Mauricio Funes, of the FMLN party, for Latin America.

RL: Well, this is a continuation of the red and pink tide that’s taken hold in the hemisphere. The big difference is that it brings us even closer to the north. It brings us even closer to the border wall. Remember, there are more Salvadorans here than there are most — in the United States than there are any other South American country. So the Salvadoran population was here in force, as were many North Americans. People that — like, I’m sure many in your audience, Amy, have supported the people of El Salvador since the 1980s, doing solidarity work, doing sanctuary work. So all of those people’s hearts were moved last night. I’m sure a lot of people in the United States cried with joy. I’m sure a lot of people in United States know and are going to be committed to El Salvador. And so, you bring a tiny Latin American country with one of the most powerful solidarity movements in the United States right now. So, this is major.

This is major also because the Summit of the Americas is coming up, and now Barack Obama is going to have to deal with another Latin American country that has turned away from the United States agenda and that he’s going to have to try to woo somehow, to back into some conversation and not confrontation with the US.

AG: Roberto Lovato, we’re going to leave it there, though we will continue to cover these developments. Again, the FMLN presidential candidate of El Salvador has won. Mauricio Funes is his name. Roberto Lovato, our guest, contributing associate editor with New America Media, frequent contributor to The Nation magazine, blogs at ofamerica.wordpress.com, in San Salvador covering the elections.

Salvadoran Elections Provoke Cautious Optimism On U.S. Relations

March 13, 2009

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Editor’s Note: El Salvador’s elections this Sunday, March 15 has Salvadorans and observers in Latin America wondering, not just about the outcome, but also about the future of United States relations with this Central American country in the new era of Pres. Barack Obama. NAM contributor Roberto Lovato reports from the capital city.

SAN SALVADOR– El Salvador’s election on March 15 is an occasion for Salvadorans to consider future relations with the United States and the new Obama Administration. How the new president and his advisers respond to these elections could be an early measure of U.S.-Latin American relations. And it may also be an opportunity for Obama to begin fulfilling his campaign promise to “lead the hemisphere into the 21st Century.”

As much as he appreciates the change of U.S. administrations, philosophy student Carlos Ramirez, 24, who was sitting beneath a tree near the central plaza of his school, the University of El Salvador in San Salvador, expressed concern that the administration has only made a brief statement of neutrality on the widely-watched elections here. Ramirez and others, including more than 33 U.S. congressmembers who sent Obama a dear-colleague letter about the Salvadoran elections, fear a repeat of 2004. Then, Bush Administration officials intervened in the Salvadoran elections, suggesting that a victory by the opposition party would endanger the legal status of Salvadoran immigrants in the United States and would prohibit remittances they send home.

“I want Obama to understand that there are some students here–a minority, I would say–who still have the ‘80’s attitude of permanent confrontation with the United States that we see in campus protests against the Iraq war, CAFTA [Central American Free Trade Agreement] and other policies,” said Ramirez. “But most of us are open to re-thinking the relationship with the United States. We all recognize that all of us, including the United States, are in a profound crisis and extremely interdependent, as you can see in issues like immigration, trade and security. We’re open and now it’s up to Obama to define his position, and the elections are a good place to start.”

Ramirez’ open-but-cautious attitude is the product of both political maturity and the Bush era policies toward Latin America that bred alienation from the United States. Viewed from this perspective, Sunday’s elections have significance beyond the tiny country of 7 million. How the Obama Administration deals with El Salvador’s hotly contested elections and their aftermath will communicate much about what this country and Latin America can expect from him.

The policies of post-World War II presidents in the United States, both Republican and Democratic, make many Salvadorans wary of Obama, even though they give him high popularity ratings, says Edgardo Herrera, an international relations expert at the university.

“If it is truly committed to improving relations with El Salvador and the rest of Latin America, the Obama Administration should remember what we say about justice here,” said Herrera. “Justice is like a snake. It only bites the barefoot poor, not the rich who have shoes.” He thinks the United States is not in sync with ideas about justice on the Salvadoran street. He cites an annual opinion poll conducted by Central American University since 2003. “Every year Salvadorans are telling the United States they do not like its policies, including the Iraq war, the CAFTA and the dollarization of the country’s currency,” Herrera said. “Rejection of these policies has turned the Salvadoran electorate against the ARENA government-and the United States.”

For Robert White, former ambassador to El Salvador in the Carter Administration and President of the Center for International Policy, the challenge of U.S.-El Salvador policy before and after Sunday’s elections is to foster autonomy and self-determination. “Although the country may be small and its economy heavily dependent on remittances from the United States,” White said, “it is still important for that country to demonstrate its policy independence. Many questions have been raised by some of the Salvadoran government’s past actions.”

White, who is monitoring the elections in El Salvador from Washington, D.C., recalled how the Bush Administration influenced El Salvador’s “extraordinary rapid recognition of the 2002 coup regime in Venezuela, which I believe lasted less than 48 hours.” The leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) is leading the right-wing ARENA party, which dominated politics for 20 years. Should the FMLN win, White said the U.S. should “treat it as a normal event in a democracy.”

Ramirez agreed. “The best thing Obama can do is to engage us in this time of transition and expectation,” he said. “If he were to visit us, he would see immediately that what he needs to do is simply help us reconstruct the campus and the country as the Uniteds States did in Europe and Japan after World War II.”

Grijalva Appointment to Interior Department Would Bring Ecological-and Political- Balance to Obama Cabinet

December 6, 2008

AlterNet

Anyone who has visited a national park or traversed the country’s diverse wilderness comes home with gorgeous, yet distressing images of it; those returning from a visit to one of the more than 562 tribes the federal government recognizes and is supposed to assist also bring back sad stories about it; and those of us who enjoy camping or fishing or hunting inevitably return home talking about it. “It” is the scenery and life found on the millions of acres of federal land left blemished and vulnerable by Bush Administration’s Department of the Interior (DOI).

As urbanization, economic restructuring and the insatiable lust for land and natural resources continue to threaten the still-astonishingly beautiful and rich land of this country, we should all care about whom President-elect Obama chooses to lead the DOI. The urgency of these issues came home twice this week as the Bush Administration delivered two parting gifts to big mining interests by rescinding two important regulations — one requiring the DOI to prevent mining companies from dumping waste near public streams and another protecting federal land near the Grand Canyon from mining and oil and gas development.

In order to deal with such challenges to the land and people under the purview of the Department, which is charged with managing most federally-owned land as well as with managing relationships with Native American peoples, the Obama Administration must appoint someone with the experience, expertise and political sophistication to lead nothing less than a New Deal for the land and people our government deals with.

Of all the candidates being vetted by the Obama transition team for this complex and challenging responsibility, none can match the unique qualifications of Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ). Grijalva, who was the leading voice denouncing this week’s most recent giveaway to mining companies by the Bush Administration, will bring urgently needed balance and poise to a federal land management bureaucracy that has pushed we the people into dangerous disequilibrium with the land we live on- and love. Appointing Grijalva, who was elected Co-Chair the Congressional Progressive Caucus, will also bring more and much-needed political balance to the Obama cabinet than some of the Republican-lite Democrats also being considered for the DOI post like California Blue Dog Democrat, Mike Thompson.

Like almost all of the previous Secretaries of the Interior, Grijalva hails from the West, more specifically Arizona, where his 7th Congressional district seat has provided him with the kind of experience and leadership we will need in a DOI Secretary.

Grijalva’s willingness to reverse the values and practices instituted by the Bush Administration’s Department of the Interior are well-illustrated by his leadership of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee of the 110th Congress. Most recently, he spearheaded efforts to stop the planned re-mining of the Black Mesa, located in northern Arizona. In a recent letter to current DOI Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, Grijalva called on the Bush Administration to restore some semblance of the natural balance between the diverse interests DOI must manage: “Mining at Black Mesa has caused springs on Hopi lands to dry up and jeopardized the sole source of drinking water for many Hopis and Navajos.”

This same will to balance informs the National Landscape Conservation System, and the Environment Congressional Task Force Co-Chair Grijalva’s efforts to craft urgently needed legislation to reform the very outdated General Mining Law of 1872. Environmentalists, scientists and other advocates believe this law must be changed if the wilderness of the west and of our national parks, forests and public lands systems are to return to sustainability. Such actions have secured very strong support for Grijalva’s DOI bid from environmental, scientific and other groups, including the National Conservation Association, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees and the U.S. Humane Society, to name a few. A letter to President-elect Obama in support of Grijalva was signed by more than 50 prominent scholars specializing in biology, conservation and other disciplines. In the letter, the scholars called him a “broad thinker” and praised the Congressman’s “Report on the Bush Administration Assault on Our National Parks, Forests and Public Lands” as the work of “someone who understands and values science.”

No less effusive are the statements of support Grijalva is receiving from Native American leaders like Ned Norris, who as tribal Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation-one of 7 tribes in Grijalva’s district- says he has “enjoyed an extensive and extremely positive relationship with the Congressman for many years.” Asked what appeals most to tribes like his about a possibility of a Grijalva-led DOI, Norris answered “He has a deep understanding of and respect for relationship between tribes and U.S. government.” Norris also pointed to the Congressman’s sophistication and success in settling a 30 year-old water and resource dispute between the Tahono O’odham tribe and the federal government.

In his efforts to foster change and hope with regard to both the stewardship of federal land and the management of relations with Indian nations, President-elect Obama will bring urgency and much-needed balance to these important government functions by appointing Congressman Raul Grijalva Secretary of the Interior.


This piece was first published on Alternet.org

What Will Obama do About Terror Incognita: Immigrants and the Homeland Security State?

November 17, 2008

Before anything, my apologies for not notifying you about my hiatus. I was in China and thought I’d be able tp post from there-and I was wrong. In any case,I’m back and ready to deal. Best, R.

Check out this must-read issue of the NACLA Report on the Americas, which looks at something we’ve been looking at for some time: how immigrants are being used to build up the national security state. The impetus for the issue was this piece, which I wrote for Political Research Associates several months ago and which turns out to be one of the more widely circulated and read pieces I’ve written. NACLA and I revised, amended and shortened the PRA piece for publication now. As the immigrant rights movement and those concerned with human rights search for measures of President-elect Obama’s commitment to immigrant rights, issues discussed in this still-quite-relevant analysis might provide a good starting point. If Obama fails to do something in short order about stopping the terror wrought by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, that should give more than a few of us a clear signal of his willingness to continue the bi-partisan support for the the machinery of death and destruction. We should at that point end the Latino honeymoon in short order.

Over the course of this longest of campaigns ever, I’ve interviewed several of Obama’s and the Democratic party’s operatives, more than a few of whom told me -off-the-record- about dealing with the raids through “executive orders” in which the President simply calls for an immediate end to the ICE raids. While that would be a welcome start towards returning us to the problems of the pre-9-11 period, I have serious doubts about the willingness of the Obama operatives and the Democrats to deliver. I hope I’m really, really wrong about this one. Really wrong. Veremos. In any case, do read the NACLA issue as it touches on things we’ll still be facing after January 20th. R

Building the Homeland Security State

by Roberto Lovato

Lost in debates around immigration, as the United States enters its greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, is any sense of the historical connection between immigration policy and increased government control—of citizens. Following a pattern established at the foundation of the republic, immigrants today are again being used to justify government responses the economic and political crises. Consider, for example, the establishment in November 2002 of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the largest, most important restructuring of the federal government since the end of World War II.1 The following March, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was dismantled and replaced with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency under the newly established DHS. ICE’s rapid expansion—16,500-plus employees and near $5 billion budget—quickly transformed it into DHS’s largest investigative component, accounting for more than one fifth of the multibillion-dollar DHS budget. ICE is also the second-largest investigative agency in the federal government, after the FBI, responsible for enforcing more than 400 statutes, and is arguably the most militarized federal entity after the Pentagon.2 Not long after its inception, ICE began to wage what many advocates have called a “war on immigrants.”

Beginning in fall 2006, ICE launched a campaign of workplace and home raids aimed at “getting tough on immigrants.” Thousands of heavily armed ICE agents were deployed in these high-profile raids designed, we were told, to find and deport undocumented immigrants. Since 2006, hundreds of thousands of immigrants have been detained in jails that constitute the fastest-growing part of the prison system in the country. The speed with which the militarization of migration policy took place left many questions. Why, for example, did the Bush administration move the citizenship-processing and immigration-enforcement functions of government from the more domestic, policing-oriented Department of Justice to the more militarized, anti-terrorist bureaucracy of the Department of Homeland Security? Most explanations view this transfer, and the relentless pursuit of undocumented immigrants that it enabled, as a response to the continuing pressures of angry, mostly white, citizens. Widespread fear and xenophobia following the September 11 attacks, together with the “anti-immigrant climate” fostered thereafter by civic groups like the Minutemen, Republican politicos, and media personalities like CNN’s Lou Dobbs, we are told, has led directly to the massive new government bureaucracy for policing immigrants. The Washington Post, for example, told us in 2006 that the rise of the Minutemen and their armed citizen patrols along the U.S.-Mexico border was “credited with helping to ignite the debate that has dominated Washington in recent months.”3

But while many can believe that there were ulterior motives behind the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, few consider that there are non-immigration-related motives behind ICE’s Al Qaeda-ization of immigrants and immigration policy: building a domestic security apparatus, one made possible by multibillion-dollar contracts to military-industrial companies like Boeing, General Electric, and Halliburton for “virtual” border walls, migrant detention centers, drones, ground-based sensors, and other surveillance technology for use in the Arizona desert that was originally designed for Middle Eastern war zones. Not to mention the de facto militarization of immigration policy through the deployment of 6,000 additional National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border; thousands of raids across the country; and the passage of hundreds of punitive, anti-migrant state and federal laws like the Military Commissions Act, which denies the habeas corpus rights of even legal residents who are suspected of providing “material support” to terrorist groups.4

This is not to say that public pressure from the anti-immigrant right played no role in the Bush administration’s immigrant crackdown. And another interpretation of the increased repression against immigrants is articulated by journalist David Bacon, who posits that the crackdown is purposefully meant to trigger an immigrant-labor shortage, which will eventually enable the government to establish the migration policy it’s been pushing for all along: a temporary guest-worker program.5 While that is surely part of the government’s response, such conclusions fail to explain why the government needs to deploy its military might to deal with gardeners, maids, and meatpackers. Such explanations fail to consider how reasons of state, the logic of government, figure heavily in the Bush administration’s historic and massive government restructuring. By framing such militaristic measures as targeting noncitizen immigrants makes it easier for citizens to swallow the increased domestic militarism inherent in increasing numbers of uniformed men and women with guns in their midst. As David Cole put it in his Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism (The New Press, 2005): “What we are willing to allow our government to do to immigrants today creates a template for how it will treat citizens tomorrow.” Constant reports of raids on the homes of the undocumented immigrants normalize the idea of government intrusion into the homes of legal residents.

In order to understand how and why ICE now constitutes an important part of the ascendant national security bureaucracy, we must first look at the intimate relationship between national security policy and homeland security policy. In July 2002, the Bush administration introduced its “National Strategy for Homeland Security,” a document that outlines how to “mobilize and organize our Nation to secure the U.S. homeland from terrorist attacks.” Two months later, the administration released the more geopolitically focused “National Security Strategy of the United States of America,” whose purpose is to “help make the world not just safer but better.” September 11 provided the impetus to create a bureaucratic and policy environment dominated by security imperatives laid out in two of these documents, two of the most definitive of our time, which outline strategies that “together take precedence over all other national strategies, programs, and plans”—including immigration policy, which receives considerable attention, especially in the section on homeland security strategy.

By placing other government functions under the purview of the national security imperatives laid out in the two documents, the Bush administration enabled and deepened the militarization of government bureaucracies like ICE. At the same time, immigrants provided the Bush administration a way to facilitate the transfer of public wealth to military-industrial contractors through government contracts in a kind of Homeland Security Keynesianism. The role of the private sector is also made explicit on a DHS webpage called “Information Sharing and Analysis,” which says that the department “is responsible for assessing the nation’s vulnerabilities” and that “the private sector is central to this task.”

Such dealings are provided for in the two Homeland Security strategy papers, which call for DHS to “establish a national laboratory for homeland security” that solicits “independent and private analysis for science and technology research.” This materialized in ICE’s budget, which has resources for research and development of technologies for surveilling, capturing, detaining, and generally combating what politicos and Minutemen alike paint as the Malthusian monster of immigration. Immigrants not only justify but make possible such massive state expenditures—at great human cost.

*

Shortly after the September 11 attacks and the creation of DHS, the Bush administration used immigrants and fear of outsiders to tighten border restrictions, pass repressive laws, and increase budgets to put more drones, weapons, and troops inside the country. Government actions since 9/11 point clearly to how the U.S. government has set up a new Pentagon-like bureaucracy to fight a new kind of protracted domestic war against a new kind of domestic enemy, undocumented immigrants.

In the process of restructuring the immigration bureaucracy, national security concerns regarding threats from external terrorist enemies got mixed in with domestic concerns about immigrant “invaders” denounced by a growing galaxy of anti-immigrant interests. This should not have come as a surprise: In times of heightened (and often exaggerated) fears about national security, immigration and immigrants are no longer just wedge issues in electoral politics; they transform into dangerous others who fill the need for new domestic enemies. Immigrants can provide the rationale for expanding the government policing bureaucracy in times of political crisis, economic distress, and major geopolitical shifts. At a time when less than 18% of the U.S. population believes it is living the American Dream, according to one poll, the state needs many reasons to reassert control over the populace by putting more gun-wielding government agents among the citizenry.6

A brief look at historical precedents for this kind of government anti-immigrant action yields the conclusion that this instrumentalizing of immigrants to build up government policing and military capabilities is, in fact, a standard practice of the art of statecraft. The historical record provides ample evidence of how national security experts, politicians, elected officials, bureaucrats and other managers of the state have used immigrants and anti-immigrant sentiments and policies as a way of normalizing and advancing militarization within the borders of the United States.

Long before the Patriot Act, DHS, and ICE, policies linking immigrants to the security of the country formed an important part of U.S. statecraft. Like many of the newly established countries suffering some of the political and economic shocks of economic and political modernization in the late 18th century, the fledgling United States and its leaders needed to simultaneously consolidate the nation-state established constitutionally in 1787 while also maneuvering for a position on a global map dominated by the warring powers of France and England. Central to accomplishing this were immigrants, who provided both a means of rallying and aligning segments of the populace while also legitimating massive expenditures toward the construction of the militarized bureaucracies meant to defend against domestic threats to “national” security, threats that linked external enemies, real and perceived. In response to the devastating effects of economic transformations, thousands of French, German, Irish, and other immigrants led uprisings like the Whiskey Rebellion and Shay’s Rebellion, which were viewed as threats by elites, especially the Federalists.

In the face of both popular unrest and competition for political power, and in an effort to consolidate the state and the globally oriented mercantile and pre-industrial capitalist economy, Alexander Hamilton and then president John Adams did what has, since their time, become a standard operating procedure in the art of U.S. statecraft: build the state and insert its control apparatus in the larger populace by scapegoating immigrants as threats to national security. The period before and after the passage of the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts, which gave Adams, the father of the national security state, unprecedented powers. Fearful of Jacobinism’s influence, Adams secured the authority to unilaterally deport any immigrant he deemed a threat to national security. According to historian John Morton Smith, the internal security program adopted by the Federalists during the Adams administration “was designed not only to deal with potential dangers from foreign invasion . . . but also to repress domestic political opposition.”7 In this context, immigrants became the domestic expression of the threat represented by the French Jacobins, the subversive threat of the early 19th century. Indeed, the modern use of the word terror first enters the language when Edmund Burke gazed across the English Channel and, in his Thoughts on the Prospect of a Regicide Peace (1796), used it to describe the actions of the Jacobin state. Burke’s conservative U.S. cousins then adopted the term and applied it to French-influenced immigrants and others considered subversive.

Another major buildup of the government policing apparatus took place during the Red Scare of 1919. The U.S. government faced several economic and political pressures, including the end of World War I, the demobilization of the army, returning troops, joblessness, depression, unemployment, and growing inflation. The precarious situation gave rise to increased elite fear of Jewish, Italian, and other immigrant workers in the era of the Bolshevik revolution and an increasingly powerful, and militant, labor movement. Socialists, Wobblies, and other activists staged 3,600 labor strikes involving 4 million workers, many of whom were led by and were immigrants. Government and big business had to watch as fully one-fifth of the manufacturing workforce staged actions.8 Massive organizing by Jamaican immigrant Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association and race riots in northern cities further stoked elite fears.

Like other national governments of the period—and in contrast to today’s era of outsourcing—the United States had begun intensifying the centralization of functions formerly carried out by the private sector, including keeping labor and other dissidents in check. In the words of Regin Schmidt, author of The FBI and the Origins of Anti-Communism in the United States (Museum Tusculanum Press, 2000): “In response to social problems caused by industrialization, urbanization and immigration and the potential political threats to the existing order posed by the Socialist Party, the IWW and, in 1919, the Communist parties, industrial and political leaders began to look to the federal government, with its growing and powerful bureaucratic organizations to monitor, and control political opposition.”

FBI historian John A. Noakes concludes that “the domestic unrest during this period presented the Bureau of Investigation the opportunity to expand its domain and increase its power.”9 Major expansion of the state through the building of new bureaucracies (Bureau of Corporations, Department of Labor, Federal Trade Commission, etc.) and bureaucratic infighting for government resources and jurisdiction turned the largely immigrant-led unrest into an unprecedented opportunity for A. Mitchell Palmer and his lieutenant, J. Edgar Hoover, who just five years after the scare went on to serve as the director of the Bureau of Investigation, later to become the FBI, where he became the most powerful nonelected official in U.S. history.

During the raids, thousands of immigrants were surveilled, rounded up, and deported during the Red Scare’s Palmer Raids. In what sounds like a precursor to the current ICE raids, local police and federal agents collaborated around immigration. According to FBI historian Kenneth D. Ackerman, in his Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties (Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2007): “Backed by local police and volunteer vigilantes, federal agents hit in dozens of cities and arrested more than 10,000 suspected communists and fellow travelers. They burst into homes, classrooms and meeting halls, seizing everyone in sight, breaking doors and heads with abandon. The agents ignored legal niceties such as search warrants or arrest warrants. They questioned suspects in secret, imposed prohibitive bail and kept them locked up for months in foul, overcrowded, makeshift prisons.”

Sound familiar? Ackerman concludes: “Almost 90 years later, today’s war on terror exists in an echo chamber of the 1919 Red scare.” It was in the era of the Red Scare that talk of establishing a border patrol began, after Immigration Service authorities were overwhelmed by the tasks demanded of them after the United States entered World War I in 1917. “Thus,” concludes Joseph Nevins in Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Remaking of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary (Routledge, 2001), “the roots of the U.S. Border Patrol are to be found not only in concerns about unauthorized immigration, but also (and perhaps more so) in a preoccupation with matters of national security as related to the boundary.”

During the Great Depression, Mexicans in the United States were scapegoated for the economic hard times, as public xenophobia for the first time turned against them (having previously been fixated on the Chinese and “undesirable” Europeans). According to historians Francisco E. Balderrama and Raymond Rodríguez in their history of this program, Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s (University of New Mexico Press, 1995), calls to “get rid of the Mexicans” resulted in the INS’s Mexican repatriation program (1929–37), which, like today’s war on immigrants, relied heavily on warrantless mass raids and arrests—which “assumed the logistics of full-scale paramilitary operation,” according to a history of the program—with detainees routinely held incommunicado before being shipped off to Mexico. According to California’s Apology Act for the 1930s Mexican Repatriation Program, passed in 2005, about 400,000 U.S. citizens and legal Mexican residents were forcibly removed in California alone; nationwide, an estimated 2 million people of Mexican descent were forcibly relocated to Mexico.

Complaints of INS abuse were legion, and a 1932 government commission on the matter concluded: “The apprehension and examination of supposed aliens are often characterized by methods [which are] unconstitutional, tyrranic and oppressive,” as quoted in Decade of Betrayal. The program represented the INS’s entry into the national security realm. This was cemented in 1940, when the Roosevelt administration transferred the agency from the Labor Department to Justice, home of the FBI. Indeed, Roosevelt, who a year later would begin detaining and interning Japanese Americans en masse, played a key role in framing immigration and the border as a national security issue. In the context of World War II, this often centered on keeping out “enemy aliens,” and as Nevins notes, for this reason, the Border Patrol personnel was almost doubled and played a role in the war, managing enemy alien detainment camps and helping defend the east coast. Again, we see the ways in which immigrants—in this case Japanese and Mexican immigrants—provide the state with the means to circumvent laws designed to protect the people from their government.

*

As shown in the examples from U.S. history, immigrants provide the state with ample excuse to expand, especially in times of geopolitical and domestic crisis. During the post-revolutionary period, the pursuit of alleged immigrant subversives led to the massive funding of the Navy and to the expansion of state power through laws like the Alien and Seditions Acts. Similarly, the crisis following the end of World War I led to the creation of the FBI and to unprecedented government repression and expansion embodied by the Palmer raids. Viewed from a historical perspective, it is no surprise that the government should respond to the geopolitical and domestic crisis in the United States with expanded government power and bureaucracy. Rather than view the placement of ICE under DHS as solely about controlling immigrant labor or about political (and electoral) opportunism disguised as government policy (both are, in fact, part of the equation), it is important to connect the creation of ICE and its placement under DHS to the perpetual drive of government to expand its powers, especially its repressive apparatus and other mechanisms of social control.

From this perspective, the current framing of the issue of immigration as a “national security” concern—one requiring the bureaucratic shift toward “Homeland Security”—fits well within historical practices that extend government power to control not just immigrants, but those born here, most of whom don’t see immigration policy affecting them. One of the things that makes the current politico-bureaucratic moment different, however, is the fluidity and increasing precariousness of the state itself. Like other nation states, the United States suffers from strains wrought by the free hand of global corporations that have abandoned large segments of its workforce. Such a situation necessitates the institutionalization of the war on immigrants in order to get as many armed government agents into a society that may be teetering on even more serious collapse as seen in the recession and economic crisis devastating core components of the American Dream like education, health care, and home ownership.

Perhaps the most salient difference between today’s security state and those of the past is the central importance of the private sector. And unlike the previous periods, the creation of massive bureaucracies superseded the need to surveil, arrest, and deport migrants. Today, there appears to be a move to make permanent the capacity of the state to pursue, jail and deport migrants in order to sustain what we might call the migration-military-industrial complex, following Deepa Fernandes, Targeted: National Security and the Business of Immigration (Seven Stories Press, 2007). Several indicators make clear that we are well on our way to making the war on immigrants a permanent feature of a government in crisis.

Multibillion-dollar contracts for border security from DHS have created an important new market for aerospace companies like General Electric, Lockheed, and Boeing, which secured a $2.5 billion contract for the Secure Borders Initiative, a DHS program to build surveillance and other technological capabilities (see “Barricading the Border”).10 That some saw in 9/11 an opportunity to expand and grow government technological capabilities—and private sector patronage—through such contracts, can be seen in DHS’s “national laboratory for homeland security.”

Like its predecessor, the military-industrial complex, the migrant-military-industrial complex tries to integrate federal, state, and local economic interests as increasing numbers of companies bid for, and become dependent on, big contracts like the Boeing contract or the $385 million DHS contract for the construction of immigrant prisons.11 Like its military-industrial cousin, the migrant-military-industrial complex has its own web of relationships between corporations, government contracts, and elected officials. Nowhere is this connection clearer than in the case of James Sensenbrenner, the anti-immigrant godfather, who sponsored HR 4437, which criminalized immigrants and those who would help them. According to his 2005 financial disclosure statement, Sensenbrenner held $86,500 in Halliburton stocks and $563,536 in General Electric; Boeing is among the top contributors to the congressman’s PAC (Sensenbrenner also owns stocks in the Olive Garden restaurant chain, which hires undocumented workers.)12 The current war on immigrants is grounded in the need to build and maintain massive policing bureaucracies like ICE and DHS. The immigrant-rights movement must clearly understand this if it is to succeed in its strategies for the right to migrate, the right to work, and the right of migrants to share the fruits of their own labor.


Roberto Lovato is an associate editor with New America Media. A New York–based journalist, he contributes frequently to The Huffington Post and The Nation.


1. This article is a revised, updated version of “One Raid at a Time: How Immigrant Crackdowns Build the National Security State,” which appeared on publiceye.org, the website of Political Research Associates, in March.2. “Special Report: Homeland Security Appropriations for FY 2005 (House & Senate) and California Implications,” the California Institute for Federal Policy Research, September 16, 2004.

3. Alec MacGillis, “Minutemen Assail Amnesty Idea,” The Washington Post, May 13, 2006.

4. “Militarizing the Border: Bush Calls for 6,000 National Guard Troops to Deploy to U.S.-Mexican Border,” Democracy Now!, May 16, 2006.

5. David Bacon, “The Real Political Purpose of the ICE Raids,” Dollars & Sense, January/February 2007.

6. “The American Dream Survey 2006,” Lake Partners Research, August 28, 2006.

7. John Morton Smith, “President John Adams, Thomas Cooper, and Sedition: A Case Study in Suppression,” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 42, no. 3 (December 1955): 438–65.

8. Todd J. Pfannestiel, Rethinking the Red Scare: The Lusk Committee and New York’s Crusade Against Radicalism, 1919–1923 (Routledge, 2003).

9. John A. Noakes, “Enforcing Domestic Tranquility: State Building and the Origin of the FBI,” Qualitative Sociology 18, no. 2 (June 1995): 271–86.

10. Martie Cenkci, “At Technology’s Front Line,” Air Force Outreach Program Office, Outreach Prospective 5, no. 4 (Fall–Winter 2006): 10–11.

11. Alexandra Walker, “Sensenbrenner: Immigration Profiteer,” The Real Costs of Prison weblog, October 5, 2006.

12. Roberto Lovato, “Sensenbrenner Under Fire—Does Congressman Profit From Undocumented Labor?” New America Media, October 6, 2006.

Infomercials, Hatemercials and the Multi-mediagenic Presidency: GRITtv Panel Analyzes Elections & Media

October 31, 2008

http://a5.vox.com/6a00cd970c86034cd500fa967c8fb50002-500pi

This was a fun and informative panel. Always-thoghtful host Laura Flanders gets her guests -the New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg, Chris Rabb of Afronetizen and mois- to spill the media beans on this breathtaking political moment. Don’t miss a minute!

R

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1421941&dest=-1]

“The Dramatic Equivalent of the Collapse of the Soviet Union”: Historian Hobsbawm Predicts New Age of Mixed Economies

October 22, 2008

https://i2.wp.com/www.elpais.com/recorte/20080121elpepucul_26/LCO340/Ies/historiador_Eric_Hobsbawm_pasado_otono_Barcelona.jpg

Looking for some wisdom in the funk-filled mist of the Democrat’s fog and the smog of the Republicans? If so, then please do listen to this scintillating BBC interview with one of the pre-eminent cartographers of our global past, Eric Hobsbawm.

Even when he delivers bad news (ie; , “..in the 1930’s the net political effect of the Great Depression was to strengthen the right” ..but there’s much potential good too!), 91 year-old Hobsbawm makes you feel that urgent need to dust off your history books. His often startling thoughts about such issues as the possibility of a new era of mixed economies, the “rediscovery of Marx,” and other quite relevant matters are worth the 14 minutes of your consciousness. The return on mental investment is a safer, more profitable use of your time than devaluing your mind with the inanities of many public and corporate media outlets here in the U.S., many of whom are largely concerned with reproducing the excruciatingly strained apologies for the bankrupt economic and ideological system we inhabit. So, please do check it out here.

Bretton Woods II? Time to (Re-) Interrogate -& Challenge- Big Capitalism

October 20, 2008

Pyramid of Capitalist System

We have entered an era in which 60, 70 and even 85 year-olds are coming out of retirement to find the work they need simply to survive.

Such reports will sadly and surely multiply as the disintegration of economic, political and social life as we know it proceeds. Without a doubt, the root of such sad reports is to be found in the depths of this most recent crisis of capitalism we find ourselves in. For the Lead Political Cheerleaders of Big Capitalism like French President Nicolas Sarkozy to find themselves forced to defend not just deadly economic policies, but capitalism itself, should give us pause; Pause so we think about how we may insert human values into this most vulnerable moment in political and economic history; Just listen to the loud thump of the ideological sandbags “Sarko the American” has to put up to before the abysmal pressures facing capitalism itself:

“Le laissez-faire, c’est fini,” Sarkozy said. “The financial crisis is not the crisis of capitalism. It is the crisis of a system that has distanced itself from the most fundamental values of capitalism, which betrayed the spirit of capitalism.”

Doesn’t that first phrase –“Le laissez-faire, c’est finii”- roll off the tongue in a wonderfully sublime way? It graces the palate with much more good taste and reality than those vomit-inducing war chants like the pathetic calls to “Eat Freedom Fries instead of French Fries!”, no? Sarkozy, who doesn’t much like poor, migrant and colored folks in la Belle France or in greater Europe, has also moved to organize a top-down global response through what some are calling a Bretton Woods Conference II, one that includes leaders of G-8 and other industrialized countries whose mission is nothing less than to salvage and reconfigure capitalism. Such a crisis-laden meeting carries with it great danger and opportunity if we consider that the first Bretton Woods conference established the International Monetary Fund and many of the primary instruments of the global economic domination that forced 60-70 and 80 year-olds throughout the post-war “Third World” to seek work to simply survive.

Time to do what we did during the battle of Seattle: confront big capital and confront them frontally, forcefully and globally through as many means as possible. I myself am not at this time advocating violent means, however. But looking at elderly people like my parents coming out of retirement and gazing at the babies coming out of the dark womb of their tender past must drive us to consider and exercise any and all non-violent means to alter the course of current history.

Every student knows that Roosevelt only agreed to the New Deal after looking at and listening to the loud calls coming from the radical below So, let us meditate deeply on the opportunity, while being vigilant of the dangers “our leaders” are preparing to foist on us in their own efforts to survive. We forget their fear and vulnerability at our own risk; Doing so will keep us on the path of the same sheepish lot that allowed elites to steal not 1, but 2 elections. So, let us also join the armies of the planet that are, according to this piece from the Times UK, re-arming themselves with Das Capital & other writings of Karl Marx as well as other tools with which to analyze and influence the New Direction from the bottom-up. And don’t let the Pavlovian, anti-Marxist conditioning of our decadent system close you off to what are still thought-provoking and critically important resources that can help us give shape to whatever the new era portends. Our ability to analyze and critique capitalism must inform our own policies and political actions if we are not to move beyond the economic, environmental and spiritual devastation wrought by Big Capital and its political cheerleaders.