WA Delegate: None.
Embassies: The White House, The Pentagon, National Liberation Front, Aztlan, Guatemala City, and 33 others.Lima, Madrid, Angola, The Internationale, The Sovereign Socialist States, The Alternative Left, The Partisan Commune of Naliboki Forest, Alliance of Socialist Nations, Revolutionary Vietnam, The Great Soviet Union, FARC, Machu Picchu, Communist Beach, Filastin, North Pole_, Al Quds, Sucre, Luanda, FMLN, Phnom Penh, Kampuchea, Leipzig, Corporate Profit Alliance, The Neoliberalist Union, Barcelona, Democratic Left, VICTIMS OF CAPITALISM MEMORIAL, Espana, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Autonomous Peoples, Mexcaltitlan, and UNITA ANGOLA.
Managua contains 4 nations.
Today's World Census Report
The Largest Welfare Programs in Managua
Governments ranked highly spend large amounts of money on social welfare programs. Nations ranked low tend to have weak or non-existent government welfare.
As a region, Managua is ranked 1,349th in the world for Largest Welfare Programs.
|1.||The Ejercito Popular Sandinista of Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Managua||Left-wing Utopia||“¡Luchamos para vencer! ¡No pasarán!”|
|2.||The Frente Armada of The Sandinistas||Left-wing Utopia||“Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional”|
|3.||The Pequena Nicaragua of Nicaraguita||Left-wing Utopia||“..ahora que ya sos libre, Nicaraguita, Yo te quiero mas”|
|4.||The Venganza Personal of Tomas Borge||Left-wing Utopia||“Mi venganza personal será entregarte este canto”|
- 5 days ago: Embassy established between UNITA ANGOLA and Managua.
- 9 days ago: The Community of MPLA Guerrillas of the region UNITA ANGOLA agreed to construct embassies.
- 9 days ago: The Ejercito Popular Sandinista of Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Managua proposed constructing embassies with UNITA ANGOLA.
- 26 days ago: The Community of MPLA Guerrillas of the region UNITA ANGOLA proposed constructing embassies.
- 37 days ago: Embassy established between Mexcaltitlan and Managua.
- 38 days ago: The NIGHTMARE COMMUNISM of The Invisible Committee of the region Communists for Communist Communism withdrew an invitation to construct embassies.
- 39 days ago: The NIGHTMARE COMMUNISM of The Invisible Committee of the region Communists for Communist Communism proposed constructing embassies.
- 40 days ago: The Ejercito Popular Sandinista of Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Managua updated the World Factbook entry.
- 40 days ago: The Ejercito Popular Sandinista of Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Managua updated the World Factbook entry.
- 40 days ago: The Ejercito Popular Sandinista of Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Managua agreed to construct embassies with Mexcaltitlan.
Managua Regional Message Board
The Pope and the General: a CounterPunch Special Investigation - Can God Forgive Jorge Mario Bergoglio?
Hugo Chavez vs "The Network"
Thursday, March 14, 2013
By Greg Palast for Vice Magazine
London, February 2002. A tiny, dark and intense woman waited at the end of a lecture until I was alone, brought her face strangely close to mine and whispered, “President Chavez needs you. Right now. To Caracas. Right now. You must come to see him.”
President Who? All I knew about this Hugo Chavez guy was that he was an Latin-American jefe, led a bungled coup and was filled with a lot of populist bullsh** and a lot of oil.
And I also knew that no one at BBC Newsnight was going to blow the budget for me to fly to South America to talk about a nation that 92 percent of our viewers couldn't find on a map and wouldn't want to.
“Send me an email.”
“There will be a coup. March 15.”
“The Ides of March. I like that. Aren't there always coups down there?”
“They'll kill him, undo everything. He needs you to stop it, he wants to explain it to you because he knows you understand.”
Actually, you'd be surprised at the amount I don't understand at all. “So talk.”
She did – for four hours – and wore me down into submission. But back at Newsnight I looked like an idiot when March 15 came and went with just a little gunfire in Caracas.
Three weeks later, the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, was kidnapped and held hostage by the head of Venezuela's Chamber of Commerce. Suddenly the BBC had to get me on a plane.
When I got to the Presidential Palace, Chavez was already back at his desk, though the bullet holes in the palace's walls weren't yet filled in.
Chavez told me that he'd agreed to be taken hostage by gunmen on the condition that his staff and their trapped children would be allowed to escape. He was bundled into a helicopter, and when it swerved out to sea he assumed he would be pushed out: “I was calm. I was ready.”
So who was behind it?
Chavez gave me information on US military attachés who had met with the plotters. While I couldn't verify any specific US directive to seize him, I didn't have to: I had grinning photos of George W Bush's new US Ambassador, Charles Shapiro, congratulating Chavez' kidnappers.
The question was, why? Why the need to eliminate Chavez, by coup, by bullet, by propaganda, embargo, or, as we later discovered, by screwing with Venezuela's vote count?
No doubt that for Bush's oil-o-crats, Chavez' doubling the royalties paid by Exxon and Chevron was worth the price of a bullet; but it was no more than the amount that Sarah Palin would seize from the oil companies when she ruled Alaska. So what was it?
The answer was in the movie Network.
“AM I GETTING THROUGH TO YOU, MR. BEALE? The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now THEY MUST GIVE IT BACK![/b]
“It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity. You are an old man who thinks in terms of national and peoples. THERE ARE NO NATIONS. There are no peoples. There is only ONE HOLISTIC SYSTEM OF SYSTEM, one vast and immense, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars. Electro-dollars. Multi-dollars. IT IS THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM OF CURRENCY which determines the totality of life on this planet. Am I getting through to you?”
Chavez had defied gravity, overpowered the tide. Venezuela earned billions in petro-dollars from the USA – but then, Chavez refused to “give it back”.
Third World nations are not supposed to keep the dollars paid to suck out their oil and mineral blood. For every dollar US consumers pay the Saudis for their oil, about $1.24 is given back as Saudis return the funds by purchasing US Treasury debt or hunks of US banks, CitiCorp for one.
In 2005, the US spent $227 billion in Latin America, sapping its properties and resources. But the money turned right around and, added to the funds sent to Miami by Latin America's elite, immediately became a $379 million loan to the US Treasury and financiers.
Argentina leant the US at 4 percent interest, then had to borrow its own money back at 16 percent – the whirring wheel, this grinder, left school teachers in Buenos Aires hunting in garbage cans for food. Riots followed and – in Peru, Ecuador, Argentina and elsewhere – this led to tanks in the street, currency collapse, crisis and the “rescue” by the IMF. Rescue meant forcing the mass sell-off of state industries, from oil to water systems, to the crushing of labour unions and to swallowing the whole bottle of poisons kept by the elite of the Northern Hemisphere for just such occasions.
And that was the plan. Literally. I've held the proof in my hands, about five thousand pages of financial agreements, all labelled “confidential” and “not to be distributed except by authorized persons”, which bore benign titles like “World Bank Poverty Reduction Strategy, Argentina.”
Why would the IMF, World Bank and the bankers not want to make their wonderful plans for reducing poverty public? It was for the same reason the finance ministers who signed the documents didn't even tell their own presidents: they were in fact “reduce-to-poverty” plans, complete resource surrender.
For these deliberately bankrupted nations, it was sign or starve. Until Hugo Chavez came along. Early on, Chavez withdrew $20 billion of Venezuela's money leant to the US Federal Reserve, to create a giant micro-lending program for his citizens. Then he went a step too far, establishing what the Wall Street Journal called, “a tropical IMF”.
In 2000 and after, when the IMF and banks moved to financially strangle these nations by making their debts unsalable, Hugo Chavez would roll up in his oil-gilded chariot. He effectively underwrote Argentina's debt, providing 250million dollars worth of loans, and assistance to Ecuador. After Enron seized Argentina's water system and Occidental seized Ecuador's oil fields, Argentina's President Nestor Kirchner, followed by Ecuador's Correa, told US banks to go f**k themselves. And the IMF, too.
Then there was the big one: Brazil. The World Bank/IMF “Poverty Reduction Strategy” for Brazil required the nation to close its publicly-owned banks, to sell off its vast oil properties, to give away its power industry and, to please the new foreign owners, slash wages and pensions. But with Chavez prepared to back up its new President, Lula Ignacio de Silva, the mighty little man from the Socialist Workers Party could tell the IMF to stick it where the free market don't shine.
For the first time in contemporary history, resource states refused to give back the money received for their resource. At Chavez' funeral, Lula, former President Ignacio de Silva of Brazil, praised this as Chavez' most revolutionary act.
Now, instead of billions flowing North, Latin American capital was staying in Latin America. It is delicious irony that the European and American financiers, fleeing from the economic conflagration they'd ignited in their home countries, are loading their loot onto planes for Brazil. And that Venezuela's central bank made a mint on its intra-continental loans.
And so, a coup was called for.
In 2002, Chavez' oil company chief, Ali Rodriguez, told me: “America can't let us stay in power. We are the exception to the New Globalization Order. If we succeed, we are an example to all the Americas.”
That you were, Hugo Chavez. That you are, Venezuela. And all the Americas are ready.
Vaya con Dios, Hugo Chàvez, mi Amigo
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
By Greg Palast for Vice Magazine
Venezuelan President Chavez once asked me why the US elite wanted to kill him. My dear Hugo: It's the oil. And it's the Koch Brothers – and it's the ketchup.
Reverend Pat Robertson said,
"Hugo Chavez thinks we're trying to assassinate him. I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."
It was 2005 and Robertson was channeling the frustration of George Bush's State Department.
Despite Bush's providing intelligence, funds and even a note of congratulations to the crew who kidnapped Chavez (we'll get there), Hugo remained in office, reelected and wildly popular.
But why the Bush regime's hate, hate, HATE of the President of Venezuela?
Reverend Pat wasn't coy about the answer: It's the oil.
"This is a dangerous enemy to our South controlling a huge pool of oil."
A really BIG pool of oil. Indeed, according to Guy Caruso, former chief of oil intelligence for the CIA, Venezuela hold a recoverable reserve of 1.36 trillion barrels, that is, a whole lot more than Saudi Arabia.
If we didn't kill Chavez, we'd have to do an "Iraq" on his nation. So the Reverend suggests,
"We don't need another $200 billion war….It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."
Chavez himself told me he was stunned by Bush's attacks: Chavez had been quite chummy with Bush Senior and with Bill Clinton.
So what made Chavez suddenly "a dangerous enemy"? Here's the answer you won't find in The New York Times:
Just after Bush's inauguration in 2001, Chavez' congress voted in a new "Law of Hydrocarbons." Henceforth, Exxon, British Petroleum, Shell Oil and Chevron would get to keep 70% of the sales revenues from the crude they sucked out of Venezuela. Not bad, considering the price of oil was rising toward $100 a barrel.
But to the oil companies, which had bitch-slapped Venezeula's prior government into giving them 84% of the sales price, a cut to 70% was "no bueno." Worse, Venezuela had been charging a joke of a royalty – just one percent – on "heavy" crude from the Orinoco Basin. Chavez told Exxon and friends they'd now have to pay 16.6%.
Clearly, Chavez had to be taught a lesson about the etiquette of dealings with Big Oil.
On April 11, 2002, President Chavez was kidnapped at gunpoint and flown to an island prison in the Caribbean Sea. On April 12, Pedro Carmona, a business partner of the US oil companies and president of the nation's Chamber of Commerce, declared himself President of Venezuela – giving a whole new meaning to the term, "corporate takeover."
U.S. Ambassador Charles Shapiro immediately rushed down from his hilltop embassy to have his picture taken grinning with the self-proclaimed "President" and the leaders of the coup d'état.
Bush's White House spokesman admitted that Chavez was, "democratically elected," but, he added, "Legitimacy is something that is conferred not by just the majority of voters." I see.
With an armed and angry citizenry marching on the Presidential Palace in Caracas ready to string up the coup plotters, Carmona, the Pretend President from Exxon returned his captive Chavez back to his desk within 48 hours. (How? Get The Assassination of Hugo Chavez, the film, expanding on my reports for BBC Television. You can download it for free for the next few days.)
Chavez had provoked the coup not just by clawing back some of the bloated royalties of the oil companies. It's what he did with that oil money that drove Venezuela's One Percent to violence.
In Caracas, I ran into the reporter for a TV station whose owner is generally credited with plotting the coup against the president. While doing a publicity photo shoot, leaning back against a tree, showing her wide-open legs nearly up to where they met, the reporter pointed down the hill to the "ranchos," the slums above Caracas, where shacks, once made of cardboard and tin, where quickly transforming into homes of cinder blocks and cement.
"He [Chavez] gives them bread and bricks, so they vote for him, of course." She was disgusted by "them," the 80% of Venezuelans who are negro e indio (Black and Indian)—and poor. Chavez, himself negro e indio, had, for the first time in Venezuela's history, shifted the oil wealth from the privileged class that called themselves "Spanish," to the dark-skinned masses.
While trolling around the poor housing blocks of Caracas, I ran into a local, Arturo Quiran, a merchant seaman and no big fan of Chavez. But over a beer at his kitchen table, he told me,
"Fifteen years ago under [then-President] Carlos Andrés Pérez, there was a lot of oil money in Venezuela. The ‘oil boom' we called it. Here in Venezuela there was a lot of money, but we didn't see it."
But then came Hugo Chavez, and now the poor in his neighborhood, he said, "get medical attention, free operations, x-rays, medicines; education also. People who never knew how to write now know how to sign their own papers."
Chavez' Robin Hood thing, shifting oil money from the rich to the poor, would have been grudgingly tolerated by the US. But Chavez, who told me, "We are no longer an oil colony," went further…too much further, in the eyes of the American corporate elite.
Venezuela had landless citizens by the millions – and unused land by the millions of acres tied up, untilled, on which a tiny elite of plantation owners squatted. Chavez' congress passed in a law in 2001 requiring untilled land to be sold to the landless. It was a program long promised by Venezuela's politicians at the urging of John F. Kennedy as part of his "Alliance for Progress."
Plantation owner Heinz Corporation didn't like that one bit. In retaliation, Heinz closed its ketchup plant in the state of Maturin and fired all the workers. Chavez seized Heinz' plant and put the workers back on the job. Chavez didn't realize that he'd just squeezed the tomatoes of America's powerful Heinz family and Mrs. Heinz' husband, Senator John Kerry, now U.S. Secretary of State.
Or, knowing Chavez as I do, he didn't give a damn.
Chavez could survive the ketchup coup, the Exxon "presidency," even his taking back a piece of the windfall of oil company profits, but he dangerously tried the patience of America's least forgiving billionaires: The Koch Brothers.
How? Well, that's another story for another day. [Watch this space. Or read about it in the book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits. Go to BallotBandits.org).
Elected presidents who annoy Big Oil have ended up in exile—or coffins: Mossadegh of Iran after he nationalized BP's fields (1953), Elchibey, President of Azerbaijan, after he refused demands of BP for his Caspian fields (1993), President Alfredo Palacio of Ecuador after he terminated Occidental's drilling concession (2005).
"It's a chess game, Mr. Palast," Chavez told me. He was showing me a very long, and very sharp sword once owned by Simon Bolivar, the Great Liberator. "And I am," Chavez said, "a very good chess player."
In the film The Seventh Seal, a medieval knight bets his life on a game of chess with the Grim Reaper. Death cheats, of course, and takes the knight. No mortal can indefinitely outplay Death who, this week, Chavez must know, will checkmate the new Bolivar of Venezuela.
But in one last move, the Bolivarian grandmaster played a brilliant endgame, naming Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, as good and decent a man as they come, as heir to the fight for those in the "ranchos." The One Percent of Venezuela, planning on Chavez's death to return them the power and riches they couldn't win in an election, are livid with the choice of Maduro.
Chavez sent Maduro to meet me in my downtown New York office back in 2004. In our run-down detective digs on Second Avenue, Maduro and I traded information on assassination plots and oil policy.
Even then, Chavez was carefully preparing for the day when Venezuela's negros e indios would lose their king—but still stay in the game.
Class war on a chessboard. Even in death, I wouldn't bet against Hugo Chavez.
* * * * * * * *
Investigative reporter Greg Palast covered Venezuela for BBC Television Newsnight and Harper’s Magazine.
Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.
Police Death Squads in Honduras - Then and Now
Torture Victims in El Salvador Speak Out
Alberto Patishtán and Solidarity with the Voice of el Amate, a Cry for Justice
Honduras is Open for Business and Repression
Written by Grahame Russell, Photos by Camila Rich
Monday, 01 April 2013 12:05
Report from a March 16-23 Rights Action educational-solidarity delegation
The June 2009 military coup that ousted the democratically-elected government of Honduras brought to power the military-backed regime of President Pepe Lobo that favours the interests of the powerful economic sectors of Honduras ... and the interests of global companies and investors, while using repression against the Honduran people's pro-democracy movement and against members of the newly formed LIBRE political party.
Already a weak democracy with a fragile administration of justice before the 2009 coup, the overall living conditions of a majority of Hondurans have spiraled considerably worse. Today, Honduras is known as the 'murder capital of the world' and a 'repression capital of the Americas'.
Repression and violence have spiked since the 2009 coup, even as global business and investors have increased their economic activities in Honduras, in effect benefiting from the violence and repression, corruption and impunity.
Before heading off on a 6-day road trip, our group met with Berta Oliva of COFADEH (Committee of Family members of the Disappeared - http://www.cofadeh.hn/), who described the repression, violence, corruption and impunity. Since the 2009 coup, hundreds of civilians have been the victims of targeted assassinations. In the Aguan region alone, where we are headed to in northern Honduras, over 90 campesinos have been killed. No justice has been done for this campaign of repression; Honduran courts are dysfunctional at best, and deeply corrupted in favour of the interests of the pro-coup sectors at worst. Oliva compares Honduras today to the years of US-backed military repression in the 1980s and early 90s.
THE ECONOMICS OF REPRESSION
From March 16-23, Grahame Russell and Karen Spring of Rights Action led an educational solidarity delegation of 23 people from the US, Canada and Costa Rica on a 6-day road trip, meeting with Honduran human rights activists and experts and visiting:
people and communities affected by the "San Martin" open-pit, cyanide-leaching mine that Goldcorp Inc. operated in central Honduras from 2000-2008, leaving widespread and now endemic health harms in its wake, on top of a wrecked local economy and poisoned environment in the Siria Valley;
indigenous Garifuna communities along the north Caribbean coast that are being harmed, threatened and forcibly evicted from their communities and ancestral lands to make way for the expanding tourism industry (that caters to North American and European travelers) and quite possibly for the forthcoming "model cities" that will, if enacted, cater to global businesses and investors;
people (mainly women) working in exploitative and oftentimes abusive conditions in the 'maquiladora' sweat shop clothing industry;
campesino communities in the northern Aguan region suffering violent attacks by large landowners (backed by repressive private and State forces) to force them from their lands to make way for the production of African palm trees destined for the emerging 'green energy' markets for bio-fuels.
During the trip, we met with family members of people who have been killed. We met with people and communities who have suffered and survived repression and health harms, and who continue to work and struggle in defense of their families and communities, in defense of their environment and community development, for truth and justice, and for the restoration of their democracy and the re-founding of their State and society.
It is an enormous struggle, not only against a repressive regime serving the interests of Honduras' elites, but also against the interests of global companies and investors who see opportunity in the increasingly desperate situation in Honduras.
GOLDCORP AND CHRONIC HEALTH SUFFERING IN THE SIRIA VALLEY
In our bus, Rodolfo Arteaga - found by 2007 government urine and blood studies (that were covered up for over four years by the government and Goldcorp) to have dangerous levels of arsenic and lead in his blood - points at Goldcorp's 'heap-leach' pile that, though mining was suspended in 2008, is still giving off cyanide and dangerous quantities of certain heavy metals (lead, mercury, arsenic) into the air and local water sources.
Cover-up: Though the blood and urine studies done by a government random sampling process in 2007 found that over 66% of the population living by Goldcorp's mine in the Siria Valley are experiencing some degree of blood poisoning, no medical attention or compensation have been provided to the mine harmed people by the government or Goldcorp. Goldcorp continues to deny any responsibility whatsoever for the health harms, blaming them on a "lack of hygiene" in the local population.
Five years after suspension of the cyanide-leaching gold mining operation, re-vegetation has still not taken, though Goldcorp claims it has completed its mine closure plan and restored the local environment.
We visited Panchita in her home. She has chronic, painful skin problems. When the rashes disappear from one part of her body, they crop up soon in another.
Carol received us in her family home. At the age of 19, her twin babies were born prematurely (at 6 months) and died within 4 minutes of birth. The 2007 government blood and urine studies found she had dangerous levels of lead, arsenic and mercury in her blood.
As we walked through the communities of El Pedernal and El Escanito, near Goldcorp's mine, led by Rodolfo and Olga (left side of photo) of the Siria Valley Environmental Defense Committee (https://www.facebook.com/ComiteAmbientalDelValleDeSiria?ref=ts&fref=ts), people came spontaneously out of their homes to show us family members suffering chronic health harms.
"The health of our youth and of Mother Nature are integral, and have no price. ... No to transnational mining companies."
ROBBING FROM THE POOR TO GIVE TO THE RICH
Since the early 2000s, Goldcorp has denied all claims of harms and violations, arguing repeatedly that it has brought "development" to the Siria Valley, knowing that it can be held legally accountable neither in Honduran nor Canadian courts.
The Canadian government has remained complicitely silent. During this same time period, Goldcorp and its multi-millionaire executives have given well publicized "charitable" donations of tens of millions of dollars to the University of Ottawa, Simon Fraser University, University of British Colombia, and more.
OWN A "PIECE OF THE CARIBBEAN":
A slow ethnocide against the indigenous Garifuna people
Along Honduras' northern Caribbean coast, we visited the indigenous Garifuna communities of Triunfo de la Cruz and Sambo Creek. Here, Adolfo Lopez explains how the Triunfo community recently knocked down this cement wall that wealthy land invaders had installed, after effectively stealing their coastal land, with the hopes of building a tourism enclave.
For over 20 years, Alfredo and the Triunfo community have led a peaceful, relentless struggle in defense of their communal lands that they have lived on, uninterrupted, since the late 1700s. For his community defense work, Adolfo spent 7 years (1997-2004) in jail on trumped up criminal charges of being a narco-trafficker - one more example of how the wealthy sectors use the legal and penal systems as a tool of repression to criminalize community and human rights defenders.
Early the next morning, Alfredo and his partner Teresa brought us coconuts to drink before we headed off to visit the destructive "Micos Golf and Beach Resort" project (part of the larger "Tela Bay" tourism project) that is disappearing, in whole or in part, the Garifuna communities of Miami, Tornabe, Barra Vieja and San Juan. The Honduran regime hopes for the Tela Bay tourism project to be the "Honduran Cancun".
Inside this fence, that illegally blocks the Garifuna off from their ancestral beach front lands, one finds a monument ...
... announcing the inauguration of the "Tela Bay Tourist Project" during the period of government of the now militarily ousted President Zelaya. Repression and violence against the Garifuna people did not begin with the 2009 coup; they have gotten worse since then.
Guided by Alfredo Lopez, we crossed the fence that illegally closed off not only ancestral community property but also the shoreline to local citizens. We walked along the beach to where the Micos golf course is being built. The entire Micos projects (5 star hotels, pools, time-shares, tennis, golf) is being built illegally inside the Jeannette Kawas National Park, named after Jeannette Kawas, an environmental defender who was assassinated in 1995, for trying to preserve the coastal environment from large-scale "development" projects!
The Micos project is trucking in earth to fill in large extensions of wetlands and a lagoon, in order to build the golf course. (Golf legend Gary Player of South Africa has endorsed the building of this highly destructive golf course.) Major investors and supporters of this "development" project include the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank.
In Sambo Creek, Miriam Miranda, long-time president of OFRANEH (Organization of Black and Garifuna People of Honduras - http://ofraneh.org/ofraneh/index.html), spoke with us. Last year, Miriam was the target of a violent attack by the Honduran police that left her hospitalized.
Miriam explained that Garifuna communities are living through a worsening time of slow, deliberate ethnocide, due to the global tourism industry, including the interests of the infamous Canadian tycoon, Randy Jorgensen dubbed the "porn king" by Canada's MacLeans magazine in 1993; and due to the recently conceived "model cities", more aptly described as 'gated communities on steroids'.
"From Banana Republic to Model Cities. In 1911, Honduras was invaded by Manuel Bonilla, father of the actual National Party, and [American] Sam Zemurray, resulting in the dishonorable Banana Republic of the 20th century. Zemmurray said: "In Honduras, a mule is worth more than a member of congress."
"In June 2009, Honduras suffered a coup promoted by Congress, the Supreme Court, the economic elites, with the support of the Southern Command of the United States.
"One century after the invasion of Zemurray-Bonilla, the current Congress has approved the RED law (special development regions) or "model cities" with the goal of handing over pieces of water front territories to foreign investors.
"For a Honduras free of neo-colonialism and mining, NO to the model cities."
KILLING AND EVICTING, IN THE NAME OF 'GREEN ENERGY'
In Tegucigalpa, members of our delegation visited with a judge of the corrupted Supreme Court of Justice, handing him a letter concerning the on-going incarceration of Jose Isabel Morales Lopez ("Chavelo"), a political prisoner jailed on trumped up charges due to his work in defense of his home community.
Along the north coast, near the city of La Ceiba, we entered the prison to speak directly with "Chavelo". Efforts continue to secure his release from this unjust jailing. Information:http://freechavelo.wordpress.com/.
In the Aguan region, near the city of Tocoa, we visited two communities that had suffered direct and deadly repression linked to Miguel Facusse, the largest land-holder in Honduras. A military coup supporter and uncle of a former Honduran President, Miguel Facusse's Dinant Corporation receives investments from the World Bank as he tries to increase production of African palm trees, destined for the production of 'green energy' bio-fuels, and uses military and police forces and his own armed men to attack local communities, pressuring them to leave their lands.
This first community we visited, San Isidrio, recently won a (very rare) court case confirming they were the owners of the San Isidrio African palm plantation (photo above). This case serves as a precedent for countless other land struggles in the Aguan region, wherein Facusse is using extreme violence and falsified legal arguments to try and take over vaste stretches of community owned property.
In September 2012, after the San Isidrio legal victory, their lawyer - Antonio Trejo - was assassinated. Early in 2013, Trejo's brother Jose was also assassinated while investigating his murder.
Here, one sees the lean-tos where San Isidrio villagers camp out. They take turns living on their plantation so as to sound the alarm if and when Miguel Facusse again orders his armed forces to force them from their land.
On the San Isidrio plantation, Filiberto Lopez shows our group where he had been operated on to remove a bullet after he had been shot in the back by armed forces that shot and wounded 5 members of the San Isidrio community on July 29, 2012.
Jose Chavez received us on his family property in the Panama community. He recounted how, on July 2, 2012, his brother, Gregorio Chavez, was illegally kidnapped from their family property, beaten to death and then dumped in a clandestine grave on property under the control of Miguel Facusse and his armed men. It was five days later that the family was able to locate and recover Gregorio's body.
Gregorio's children, Melki and Glenda (on right), spoke with our group about their father and about the Panama community struggle to keep their lands and community intact.
In the middle of the Panama community's African palm plantation, Pedro Angel Lobo told us how his son was killed on August 14, 2011, and that his son's body was recovered on lands under control of Miguel Facusse's armed men. "At least", he said, "I was able to get my son's body back and give him a proper burial."
Besides the people killed over the past few years, there are at least 3 other members of the Panama community who have been "disappeared" by Facusse linked armed men since 2007 - their bodies as yet unrecovered.
Community kitchen - "la cocina" - on the Panama plantation. Food and rest for Panama community members working the plantation or taking their turn guarding the property.
EXPLOITATION AND LABOUR RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE 'SWEATSHOP' INDUSTRY
Driving back from the north coast torwards Tegucigalpa, Maria Luisa Regalado of CODEMUH (Colectiva de Mujeres Hondureñas) spoke of the systematic labour and human rights violations occurring at sweat-shop companies owned by Hanes Brand Inc., Gildan Activewear, and other textile companies. For information about the wide range of human rights and health issues CODEMUH is working on: http://www.codemuh.net/.
From mining, tourism and so-called "green energy", to Hanes underwear and Gildan t-shirts, these are global stories of economic exploitation benefiting from repression and impunity in Honduras. While the roots of all this go back at least through the US-backed militarism and repression of the 1970s, 80s and early 90s, violence and repression have again returned to all time high levels since the 2009 coup.
2013 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
Despite this, there is a chance for some positive political change in 2013. The wife of the militarily ousted President Zelaya has been chosen to lead of a new political party - LIBRE. Whereas many Hondurans, now in the National Resistance Front, were not Zelaya supporters before the coup, they have been moved by the dignified and courageous positions that Mel Zelaya and Xiomara took since the day of the coup.
The 2013 presidential elections will pit the pro-coup, pro-oligarchy parties (to be backed openly or indirectly by the governments of the US and Canada and by global investors and companies) against the LIBRE party that has grown out of civil society's courageous opposition to the military coup and on-going repression, and out of the desire of Hondurans to re-found their State and society and restore a truly democratic order.
LIBRE would win truly democratic elections, given the chance. However, these elections will undoubtedly be characterized by electoral corruption and are already characterized by threats against and killings of people aligned with the LIBRE party.
This is at once a struggle for democracy and human rights in Honduras and across Latin America. It is also, deeply, a struggle for North Americans to hold our governments, companies and investors to account for 'legitimizing' the illegitimate, for empowering a repressive and undemocratic regime.
WHAT TO DO?
1- North Americans must pressure and keep on pressuring our elected politicians and government officials, and our companies and investors. Public pressure on and shaming of North American governments and businesses is vital if we are to stop empowering and 'legitimizing' the illegitimate Honduran regime. This is particularly important in this 2013 election year.
2- It is crucial to provide funding and material aid (computers, phones, cameras) to civil society groups in Honduras that are courageously struggling to denounce the abuses and human rights violations, all the while working to restore their democratic order and to re-found the State and society.
3- And, it is crucial to organize as many human rights accompanier projects and solidarity-educational delegations to Honduras as possible, on an on-going basis.
[Grahame Russell is a non-practicing Canadian lawyer, author, adjunct professor at the University of Northern British Columbia and, since 1995, co-director of Rights Action]
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The roots of Rights Action's work go back to 1983 in Guatemala. Since then, and particularly since 1995, Rights Action has been funding grassroots organizations working for community development and the environment, for disaster relief, for truth, memory, justice and human rights, and for democracy and peaceful resolution of conflicts in Guatemala and Honduras, as well as in southern Mexico and El Salvador. The Canadian Rights Action Foundation, founded in 1999, is independent from Rights Action (USA). Grahame Russell and Annie Bird are co-directors of Rights Action (USA); Grahame is director of Rights Action (Canada).
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Will Obama’s Legacy Be a Death Squad Government in Honduras?
Written by Mark Weisbrot
Thursday, 04 April 2013 09:02
Source: The Guardian Unlimited
In Honduras, Reagan-era atrocities are back as the Obama administration funds a state implicated in murdering opponents.
The video, caught randomly on a warehouse security camera, is chilling. Five young men are walking down a quiet street in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. A big black SUV pulls up, followed by another vehicle. Two masked men with bullet proof vests jump quickly out of the lead car, with AK-47’s raised. The two youths who are closest to the vehicles see that they have no chance of running, so they freeze and put their hands in the air. The other three break into a sprint, with bullets chasing, and the second team of assassins firing. Miraculously, they escape, with one injured – but the two who surrendered are forced to lie face down on the ground. The two students, who were brothers 18 and 20 years old, are quickly murdered in front of the camera with bullets to the back of the head. In less than 40 seconds after their arrival, the assassins are driving away, never to be found.
The high level of professional training and modus operandi of the assassins have led many observers to conclude that this was a government operation. The video was posted by the newspaper El Heraldo last month; the murder took place in November of last year. There have been no arrests.
Now the Obama administration is coming under fire for its role in arming and funding murderous Honduran police, in violation of U.S. law. Under the “Leahy Law,” named after Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the U.S. government is not allowed to fund foreign military units who have committed gross human rights violations with impunity. The Director General of Honduras’ national police force, Juan Carlos Bonilla, is himself implicated in death squad killings; and members of the U.S. Congress have been complaining about it since Bonilla was appointed in May last year. Thanks to some excellent investigative reporting by the Associated Press in the last couple of weeks – showing that all police units are in fact under Bonilla’s command -- it has become clearer that U.S. funding of Honduran police is illegal.
Now we will see if the “rule of law” or the “separation of powers” means very much here in the capital of the country that likes to lecture “less developed” countries about these principles.
Why would the Obama administration be so stubborn as to deceive and defy Congress in order to support death squad government in Honduras? To answer this question we have to look at how the current government of Honduras got to power, and how big a role its violent repression of political opposition plays in keeping it there.
The government of Honduran President Pepe Lobo was “elected” after a military coup overthrew the democratically elected government of President Mel Zelaya in June of 2009. Zelaya later told the press that Washington was involved in the coup itself; this is very believable, given the circumstantial evidence. But what we know for sure is that the Obama administration was heavily involved in helping the coup government survive and legitimize itself. Washington supported Lobo’s election in November 2009 against the opposition of almost the entire hemisphere. The Organization of American States and the European Union refused to send observers to an election that most of the world viewed as obviously illegitimate.
The coup unleashed a wave of violence against political dissent that continues to this day. Even the Truth and Reconciliation Commission established by the coup government itself found that it had “undertaken political persecution. . . and that it was responsible for a number of killings committed by state agents and those acting at their behest, in addition to the widespread and violent repression of rights to speech, assembly, association . ..”
This was noted by the Center for Constitutional Rights (New York) and the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights, in a report [PDF] submitted to the International Criminal Court. The CCR/FIDH report also identifies “over 100 killings, most of which are selective, or targeted killings, occurring even after two truth commissions concluded their investigations. …” Their report goes through October 2012.
“The killings are one horrific manifestation of the broader attack which is also characterized by death threats against activists, lawyers, journalists, trade unionists, and campesinos, as well as attempted killings, torture, sexual violence, arbitrary arrests and detentions. The True Commission [the second, independent Truth Commission] described the regime’s “attack” as one of using terror as a means of social control ….”
Which brings us the elections that are scheduled for later this year. There is once again a social democratic party in the race, including people who courageously defended democracy against the military coup of 2009. Its presidential candidate is Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the wife of the president that Washington worked so hard to get rid of. This party is among the victims of the government’s political repression: in November, LIBRE mayoral candidate Edgardo Adalid Motiño was gunned down after attending a rally for Xiomara Zelaya.
So there you have it. A death squad government may not be the Obama administration’s first choice for Honduras, but they prefer it to another left government that people might elect if they were able to organize in a free election. The current government belongs to Washington, as does the U.S. military base that the Pentagon would like to keep there indefinitely.
If all that sounds disgusting, and reminiscent of President Reagan’s death squad governments in Central America of the 1980s, it’s because it is both. The question right now is what are members of the U.S. Congress going to do about it?
Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. He is also president of Just Foreign Policy.
"The question right now is what are members of the U.S. Congress going to do about it? - Mark Weisbrot
Say that again? Only it sounds like he expects members of the U.S. Congress to do something about the U.S. Policy in Central and South America which has remained unchanged since the implementation of the Monroe Doctrine resulting in widespread murder, maiming and the support of murderous cabrones in order to further the interest of multinational corporations and U.S. imperialist interests.
Campaign for Presidency Kicks-off in Venezuela: An Interview with Carmen Hidalgo
Written by Jody McIntyre
Thursday, 04 April 2013 09:01
It is Tuesday, April 2nd; music and people fill the streets of Caracas. This is the official opening day of the campaign for Presidential elections in Venezuela, due to take place on April 14th after the death of Hugo Chavez, a popular leader who had won a total of fifteen elections during his fourteen years of rule. Nicolas Maduro, former bus driver, ex-Vice-President and the man Chavez personally named as his successor, kicks off his tour of the country in Barinas, the state where Chavez was born and the heart of the Venezuelan countryside. Henrique Capriles, the main opposition candidate who lost to Chavez last November, had originally announced that he would start in the same place, but changed his plans after his local team warned of the tensions such a clash of dates could cause. But, as journalist Reinaldo Iturriza once told me, these are not “normal elections” that take place here in Venezuela. From the beginning, the political campaigns are vibrant, colorful and visible everywhere you turn.
Carmen Hidalgo, aged 23, was born in Barinas, but currently lives and studies in the Andean city of Merida. She has worked for Mision Ribas, an educational program set-up by the government in 2003 to provide classes and qualifications for people who had never completed high school. Carmen describes her home-town as “tender and sweet Barinas, full of friendly and very hard-working people. Where the struggle every-day is to grow, and not only economically but also intelligently, always united together.” Huge crowds turned out to greet Maduro in Barinas on Tuesday, a sign that opposition claims that the Bolivarian project will cease to exist without Chavez may not be as accurate as they wish to portray. Nevertheless, Chavez’ images does continue to dominate the government’s re-election bid; indeed, their campaign is named after him!
A couple of weeks before we spoke, Capriles had visited and spoke in Merida. In reality, neither candidate waited for the date of April 2nd to begin rallying their troops. In Carmen’s view, Capriles’ speech was “Chavez, but without the socialism.”
"Capriles understands that the majority of people like socialism; that is why we speak of a system of “inclusion.” We remember that in the governments of the Fourth Republic [i.e. before the first election of Chavez in 1998] the country was full of exclusion and few had the opportunity to live well, due to the robbing of the country’s money and resources. First [Capriles’ election campaign] has chosen to use the name Simon Bolivar.” This suggests that they approve of “Bolivarianism,” whilst in the coup of April 2002, in which Capriles participated in the attack on the Cuban embassy, the first thing they did was to remove the word “Bolivarian” from the name of the country. Secondly, they are using a t-shirt withCapriles eyes and signature, exactly the same as the Chavez t-shirt we designed during the last election campaign. A political leader should be more serious and not copy the designs of the sovereign people.”
Many people believe that the opposition know that they will not win the upcoming elections. Indeed, every single poll in the last two weeks, including those conducted by firms traditionally considered as opposition supporters, have given Maduro a lead of between ten and twenty-three points. Accusations of external forces attempting to use the elections as an opportunity to destabilize the country flared up once again when US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson recently stated that although they were not favouring either candidate, “Capriles would make a good President”. Venezuela Foreign Minister Elias Jaua responded by breaking off communication with the US, adding, “Mrs. Jacobson, when you learn that we are a sovereign country, then give us a call.”
Carmen says that everyone knows that Capriles is “totally immersed” with the US government, and claims the opposition candidate recently travelled to the country to “plan a campaign of destabilization”.
Nevertheless, it is largely a spirit of positivity that has been prevalent in Caracas in recent days. On April 14th, millions of Venezuelans will go out to vote for their next President, possibly in larger numbers than ever before. The central hope is that the results of the elections will be adhered to and respected.
Jody McIntyre is a journalist and political activist. He has written for the the New Internationalist, The Independent, The Guardian, The Observer, Al Akhbar English, the New Statesman, Electronic Intifada and Disability Now. He was Guest Editor for the October 2012 issue of the New Internationalist.
He is also the co-director of a forthcoming documentary on the Venezuelan ‘Hip-Hop Revolucion’ movement with Pablo Navarrete. For updates, please follow twitter.com/jodymcintyre.
“We’re Witnessing a Reactivation of the Death Squads of the ‘80s” in Honduras: An Interview with Bertha Oliva of COFADEH
Written by Alex Main, CEPR
Tuesday, 09 April 2013 09:44
Source: The Americas Blog
Bertha Oliva is the General Coordinator of COFADEH, the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared and Detained in Honduras. Bertha’s husband was "disappeared" in 1981, a period when death squads were active in Honduras. She founded COFADEH together with other women who lost their loved ones, in order to seek justice and compensation for the families of the hundreds of dissidents that were "disappeared" between 1979 and 1989. Since then Bertha and COFADEH have taken on some of the country’s most emblematic human rights cases and were a strong voice in opposition to the 2009 coup d’Etat and the repression that followed. We interviewed her in Washington, D.C. on March 15th, shortly after she participated in a hearing on the human rights situation in Honduras at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). During the hearing she said that death squads are targeting social leaders, lawyers, journalists and other groups and called on the IACHR to visit Honduras in the next six months to take stock of the human rights situation ahead of the November general elections (Bertha’s testimony can be viewed here, beginning at 17:40).
Q: On various occasions you’ve said that what you’re seeing today in Honduras is reminiscent of the difficult times you experienced in the ‘80s and I’d like you to elaborate on that.
In the ‘80s we had armed forces that were excessively empowered. Today Honduras is extremely similar, with military officers exercising control over many of the country’s institutions. The military is now in the streets playing a security role – often substituting for the work of the police forces of the country.
In the ‘80s we also witnessed the practice of forced disappearances and assassinations. In that era it was clear that they were killing social leaders, political opponents, but they also assassinated people who had no ties to dissident groups in order to generate confusion in public opinion and try to disqualify our denunciations of the killings of family members who were political opponents.
Today they assassinate young people in a more atrocious fashion than in the ‘80s and we’re seeing a marked pattern of assassinations of women and youth. And within this mass of people that are assassinated there are political opponents. We refuse to dismiss these assassinations as simply a result of the extreme violence that we’re experiencing, as they try to tell the country. We say that it is a product of impunity and Honduras’ historical debt for failing to resolve cases perpetrated by state agents…
In the ‘80s the presence of the U.S. in the country was extremely significant. Today it’s the same. New bases have opened as a result of an anti-drug cooperation agreement signed between Honduras and the U.S.
In the ‘80s it was clear that political opponents were being eliminated. Today they’re also eliminating those who claim land rights, as exemplified in the Bajo Aguán. More than 98 land rights activists have been assassinated. The campesino sector in the Bajo Aguán has been psychologically and emotionally tortured on top of the physical torture that certain campesino leaders have been subjected to.
Q: Today in the hearing on human rights in Honduras at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights you discussed death squads. Death squads were active in the ‘80s and now you believe that this sinister phenomenon is coming back.
It’s certain that death squads are a product of the impunity that we’ve seen in Honduras. The death squads of the past were never really dismantled. What we’re witnessing is a reactivation of these death squads. And we’re seeing it quite clearly. We’ve seen videos of incidents in the street where masked men with military training and unmarked vehicles assassinate young people. There is the recent case of the journalist Julio Ernesto Alvarado who gave up his news program from 10pm to midnight on Radio Globo because members of a death squad came to kill him, and to save his own life he had to stop doing his program.
In Honduras we had a military coup d’Etat and this resulted in persecution, an implosion of the state’s institutions which has left us with a dysfunctional judicial system and this has provided cover to those who wish to break the law.
And, what’s worse, state agents seem to have no political interest in improving and changing the situation. What we’re witnessing is a growing professionalization of the capacity to justify illegal acts: authorities’ assertion that they intend to investigate these acts, when that’s simply not true. In reality it seems the intention is to continue terrorizing the Honduran people, to make them submissive so as to undermine citizen action.
What we’d like to see in Honduras is real action to try to prevent crime rather than continued justification of the lack of progress of investigations into crimes.
Q: COFADEH is providing legal counsel to the victims and the families of the victims of the emblematic case that took place in May of last year in Ahuas, in which there was a police operation that involved U.S. agents and Honduran security agents that killed four people and injured a few others. Can you discuss the status of that case, over ten months after the killings took place?
Yes, we are the legal representatives of the victims in this case and, on the one hand, we are filing a complaint with Honduras’ judicial authorities to show or verify the responsibility of Honduran agents and DEA agents that participated in this incident.
But we’re also trying to reach out to the general public so that the case is better known and debated as this is the only real recourse we human rights defenders have: publicly denouncing the incident to see whether this will allow for some protection of the victims and of ourselves. But legally we see this as a very difficult case to move forward and this is where we can see that the authorities aren’t interested in investigating, let alone sanctioning, those responsible. The crime of the tragic attack against this indigenous community has been compounded by the crime of violating due process in the investigation.
We the legal representatives of the victims should have access to the case file. The Public Ministry [equivalent to the Attorney General’s Office in the U.S. – ed.] shouldn’t allow any obstacle to come in the way of our access to the file. They can’t legally prevent us from learning about the actions that have been taken in the course of the investigation because we are part of the defense. It is prohibited for either of the parties to be denied access to the case file. The file can be classified with regard to the general public, but not with regard to the parties representing the victims and the accused.
We haven’t seen all the files in this case. They haven’t been inserted in a binder [as is normally the case] in order to allow them to remove information when we ask for the file. How can we participate effectively in a trial when we can’t see all of the case file?
Q: And what evidence do you have of their having removed parts of the case file before sharing it with you?
One is that when we’ve been shown the case file it basically only contains documents that we’ve produced. We know the Public Ministry has carried out its own investigations; it has carried out the exhumation and autopsies of the deceased victims’ bodies for instance. As a side note, we weren’t informed that they were carrying out the exhumations of the victims. We’re left with the impression that the intention isn’t to find evidence but rather to remove [borrar] evidence… Our Public Ministry should be called a “Public Laundromat” because they’re engaged in destroying evidence.
Q: So you didn’t see the reports on the exhumations and autopsies of the victims in the Ahuas case file?
We haven’t seen them, just as we didn’t see the report that was sent by [Honduran Attorney General equivalent] Luís Alberto Rubi to the State Department of the United States. This indicates to us that they remove information and documentation from the case file that they don’t want us to see.
The Public Prosecutor [Attorney General equivalent] sent a report to a representative of the State Department, Maria Otero, with – for instance – the names of the Honduran police agents and military personnel that participated in the operation, though not the names of the DEA agents, with the apparent goal of barring them from any sort of responsibility.
Q: But you did end up managing to see the Public Ministry report sent to the State Department?
Yes, but not through the Public Ministry, but thanks to people outside Honduras who managed to get hold of a copy.
Q: In this report there is information based on testimony provided to the Public Ministry by police agents that participated in the Ahuas operation. Have you been able to see any of this original testimony?
No, we haven’t seen any of the testimony of the police agents.
Q: What is the current situation of the surviving victims of the Ahuas incident, and of the families of the victims?
The situation of the families, of the survivors, of the community is really very critical. They are emotionally and psychologically affected. Being on the receiving end of an armed aerial attack is a shock for a remote community that never expected an attack of this nature. Some of the community members were woken up by armed agents, were physically attacked and had certain belongings stolen.
I think that those that survived are no longer directly threatened but not all of them have recovered their physical abilities. For instance, a young man sustained a serious injury to his hand requiring an operation that cost 100,000 lempiras [over $5,000 – ed.]. Where can this boy, who doesn’t have anything, find this kind of money?
COFADEH ended up having to take care of him and he’s still in treatment in Tegucigalpa, far from his community. We are paying for his treatment and lodging him, feeding him and paying for his studies. This is the responsibility of the state and it has refused to assume this responsibility even though we requested urgent protective measures from the state. The state is good at providing technically well-designed reports before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, but it has been incapable of dealing with the needs of the survivors of this attack.
This sort of thing is a clear demonstration of their lack of interest in resolving and combatting the insecurity we’re experiencing, the political violence and the high level of impunity.
Q: What about the other injured victims?
We’ve had to bring them to Tegucigalpa to be treated. In the case of one boy they left studs [clavos] jutting out of his arm. He almost lost his arm because after the operation they sent him back to his community but with no medicine.
We’ve also had to provide care for other relatives of the survivors and the deceased victims. It’s impressive the level of neglect of these victims on the part of the state.
We [the human rights defenders] return to our country with the fear that the attacks will extend to us as a result of our decision to come and denounce a state that has shown itself incapable of assuming its responsibility.
Q: COFADEH has received threats and recently its offices were raided. Can you talk to me about your situation, your vulnerability, and what people in the U.S. can do to help?
Our situation isn’t good at all. I confess that we’re frightened because we love life, that’s why we dedicate ourselves to defending the lives of others. And I don’t want to die or be tortured. And I don’t want to have to confront state agents. But despite their machinery of hate and actions against us, they should know that they can’t stop us.
Fortunately we can count on support from people in the U.S. and the rest of the world, and I can reaffirm today that this support and this commitment of people abroad inspires us and makes us feel less alone. Because the worst that can happen for a human rights defender facing threats is to feel alone. That’s why we call on you to continue supporting us to defend the life and liberty of the citizens that need our help.
Honduras: Organizations Condemn Military-Landowner Violence and Slander Against Campesinos
Written by La Voz de los de Abajo, Translation by Greg McCain and Brigitte Gynther
Tuesday, 09 April 2013 09:36
Below is a new communique from the Aguan campesino organizations condemning the escalation of violence and the propaganda to justify violence against the campesinos of Aguan. In recent weeks there have been more assassinations and there have been attempts against spokespersons for the Campesinos Movement and Resistance in the Aguan. The military recently released a video of armed groups in the Aguan implying that the campesinos are involved in such groups - however it was the campesino organizations that denounced these armed groups back in 2011.
La Voz de los de Abajo condemns the statements issued by Colonel Germán Alfaro Esclante of the Honduran military in command in the Aguan. We condemn the big landowners such as Miguel Facusse whose private paramilitary guards are implicated in most of the murders and violence in the region. We strongly condemn the fact that the U.S. Government continues to fund and support the militarization of Honduras despite the obvious consequences and death squad connections of the National Police and Honduran Military.
The Regional Agrarian Platform of the Aguan Valley communicates the following to the Honduran people and the international community:
1- We condemn the systematic, dirty, and malicious campaign of the landowners in the Aguan, through the La Prensa newspaper and their spokesmen, including Colonel Germán Alfaro Escalante, head of the Xatruch III Operation, who was trained at the U.S. School of the Americas in 1984 to protect the interests of capital.
2- This campaign seeks to prepare the conditions to continue the murders of the organized campesinos in the Bajo Aguan with impunity and to pressure the judicial system to rule in favor of the landowners in the case of the La Trinidad, La Despertar and San Isidro cooperatives, which belong to MARCA. They were given legally given to the campesinos on June 29, 2012 by the judicial authorities when a Francisco Morazan court issued a final judgement about the land. So we are not land invaders.
3- We make clear that the farms La Confianza, La Aurora, La Lempira, La Concepción, Marañones, Isla I and Isla II, which add up to 3,962 hectares of land, were acquired by signed agreements between the government and MUCA on April 13, 2010. The agreements are for 11,000 hectares, of which the government still owes 7,038 hectares to MUCA. Similarly, MARCA signed agreements on May 24, 2011 for 1,600 hectares of land, of which only 667 hectares in the San Esteban farm have been handed over; the government still owes 933 hectares.
4- We reject the assertions, through fake videos and publications by the La Prensa newspaper, which seek to make us look like armed groups with high caliber weapons such as AK-47s, M-16s, and .223 guns. On April 26, 2011, we denounced armed groups under the command of paramilitary leaders, which clearly coincides with the photograph published in the La Prensa newspaper today (April 3, 2013).
5- We condemn the plan of Operation Xatruch, commanded by Col. Alfaro Escalante, which seeks to assassinate campesino leaders such as Juan Ramón Chinchilla, Yoni Rivas, Vitalino Álvarez, and Wilfredo Paz, the spokesperson for the Permanent Observatory of Human Rights in the Aguán in Tocoa, Colon.
6- We make clear that the problems of land tenure in the Bajo Aguan were provoked by former President Rafael Leonardo Callejas, when he approved the fatal and unconstitutional Agricultural Modernization and Development Act, which contradicts articles 344 to 350 of the Constitution.
7- We call on national and international human rights organizations to be attentive for any situation which could occur in the coming days against the humanity of the campesino leaders.
We are not birds to live in the air, we are not fish to live in the water, we are campesinos who need to live on the land.
April 3, 2013.
Under the International Spotlight, Mexican Government Asks for "Friendly Solution" After Perpetrating Sexual Torture
Thatcher, amiga de Reagan está muerto.
Tener fiesta y celebración.
Rot in hell, señora Thatcher. Reagan saved a place for you to privatise.
This month marks the 30th Anniversary of The Concert for peace, held in Managua in 1983 in Solidarity with the Nicaraguan people, and all people in Central and South America suffering and resisting the US's continued implementation of The Monroe Doctrine, a plan to subjugate the Americas in the name of US imperialist and corporate exploitation, enforced by the support and arming of murderous Fascist dictators and lackeys and death squads which raped, maimed and murdered across Central and South America, whether man, woman or child to ensure The Monroe Doctrine was not threatened or opposed by such trival things as the political and civil rights of the peoples of Central and South America, or any notion of justice, peace, dignity, respect and equality and emancipation.
The concert saw participation by many Musicians, including Amparo Ochoa, the brothers Carlos and Luis Enrique Mejia Godoy, Silvio Rodríguez, Daniel Viglietti, Ali Primera and others.
Managua presents to you the concert.
Abril en Managua
From 'What Uncle Sam Really Wants' - Noam Chomsky's account of the US-backed contra counter-insurgency in Nicaragua against the left-wing government brought to power on the back of a popular mass movement from below.
It wasn't just the events in El Salvador that were ignored by the mainstream US media during the 1970s. In the ten years prior to the overthrow of the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979, US television - all networks - devoted exactly one hour to Nicaragua, and that was entirely on the Managua earthquake of 1972.
From 1960 through 1978, the New York Times had three editorials on Nicaragua. It's not that nothing was happening there - it's just that whatever was happening was unremarkable. Nicaragua was of no concern at all, as long as Somoza's tyrannical rule wasn't challenged.
When his rule was challenged, by the [popular, left-wing] Sandinistas in the late 1970s, the US first tried to institute what was called "Somocismo [Somoza-ism] without Somoza" - that is, the whole corrupt system intact, but with somebody else at the top. That didn't work, so President Carter tried to maintain Somoza's National Guard as a base for US power.
The National Guard had always been remarkably brutal and sadistic. By June 1979, it was carrying out massive atrocities in the war against the Sandinistas, bombing residential neighbourhoods in Managua, killing tens of thousands of people. At that point, the US ambassador sent a cable to the White House saying it would be "ill-advised" to tell the Guard to call off the bombing, because that might interfere with the policy of keeping them in power and the Sandinistas out.
Our ambassador to the Organisation of American States also spoke in favour of "Somocismo without Somoza," but the OAS rejected the suggestion flat out. A few days later, Somoza flew off to Miami with what was left of the Nicaraguan national treasury, and the Guard collapsed.
The Carter administration flew Guard commanders out of the country in planes with Red Cross markings (a war crime), and began to reconstitute the Guard on Nicaragua's borders. They also used Argentina as a proxy. (At that time, Argentina was under the rule of neo-Nazi generals, but they took a little time off from torturing and murdering their own population to help re-establish the Guard - soon to be renamed the contras, or "freedom fighters.")
Ronald Reagan used them to launch a large-scale terrorist war against Nicaragua, combined with economic warfare that was even more lethal. We also intimidated other countries so they wouldn't send aid either.
And yet, despite astronomical levels of military support, the United States failed to create a viable military force in Nicaragua. That's quite remarkable, if you think about it. No real guerrillas anywhere in the world have ever had resources even remotely like what the United States gave the contras. You could probably start a guerrilla insurgency in mountain regions of the US with comparable funding.
Why did the US go to such lengths in Nicaragua? The international development organisation Oxfam explained the real reasons, stating that, from its experience of working in 76 developing countries, "Nicaragua was...exceptional in the strength of that government's commitment...to improving the condition of the people and encouraging their active participation in the development process."
Of the four Central American countries where Oxfam had a significant presence (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua), only in Nicaragua was there a substantial effort to address inequities in land ownership and to extend health, educational and agricultural services to poor peasant families.
Other agencies told a similar story. In the early 1980s, the World Bank called its projects "extraordinarily successful in Nicaragua in some sectors, better than anywhere else in the world." In 1983, The Inter-American Development Bank concluded that "Nicaragua has made noteworthy progress in the social sector, which is laying the basis for long-term socio-economic development."
The success of the Sandinista reforms terrified US planners. They were aware that - as José Figueres, the father of Costa Rican democracy, put it - "for the first time, Nicaragua has a government that cares for its people." (Although Figueres was the leading democratic figure in Central America for forty years, his unacceptable insights into the real world were completely censored from the US media.)
The hatred that was elicited by the Sandinistas for trying to direct resources to the poor (and even succeeding at it) was truly wondrous to behold. Just about all US policymakers shared it, and it reached virtual frenzy.
Back in 1981, a State Department insider boasted that we would "turn Nicaragua into the Albania of Central America" - that is, poor, isolated and politically radical - so that the Sandinista dream of creating a new, more exemplary political model for Latin America would be in ruins.
George Shultz called the Sandinistas a "cancer, right here on our land mass," that has to be destroyed. At the other end of the political spectrum, leading Senate liberal Alan Cranston said that if it turned out not to be possible to destroy the Sandinistas, then we'd just have to let them "fester in [their] own juices."
So the US launched a three-fold attack against Nicaragua. First, we exerted extreme pressure to compel the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank to terminate all projects and assistance.
Second, we launched the contra war along with an illegal economic war to terminate what Oxfam rightly called "the threat of a good example." The contras' vicious terrorist attacks against "soft targets" under US orders did help, along with the boycott, to end any hope of economic development and social reform. US terror ensured that Nicaragua couldn't demobilise its army and divert its pitifully poor and limited resources to reconstructing the ruins that were left by the US-backed dictators and Reaganite crimes. The contras were even funded by the US selling arms to Iran, in what became known as the Iran-Contra Affair.
One of the most respected Central America correspondents, Julia Preston (who was then working for the Boston Globe), reported that "Administration officials said they are content to see the contras debilitate the Sandinistas by forcing them to divert scarce resources toward the war and away from social programs." That's crucial, since the social programs were at the heart of the good example that might have infected other countries in the region and eroded the American system of [much higher-grade] exploitation and robbery.
We even refused to send disaster relief. After the 1972 earthquake, the US sent an enormous amount of aid to Nicaragua, most of which was stolen by our buddy Somoza. In October 1988, an even worse natural disaster struck Nicaragua - Hurricane Joan. We didn't send a penny for that, because if we had, it would probably have gotten to the people, not just into the pockets of some rich thug. We also pressured our allies to send very little aid.
This devastating hurricane, with its welcome prospects of mass starvation and long-term ecological damage, reinforced our efforts. We wanted Nicaraguans to starve so we could accuse the Sandinistas of economic mismanagement. Because they weren't under our control, Nicaraguans had to suffer and die.
Third, we used diplomatic fakery to crush Nicaragua. As Tony Avirgan wrote in the Costa Rican journal Mesoamerica, "the Sandinistas fell for a scam perpetrated by Costa Rican president Oscar Arias and the other Central American Presidents, which cost them the February  elections."
For Nicaragua, the peace plan of August 1987 was a good deal, Avrigan wrote: they would move the scheduled national elections forward by a few months and allow international observation, as they had in 1984, "in exchange for having the contras demobilised and the war brought to an end...." The Nicaraguan government did what it was required to do under the peace plan, but no one else paid the slightest attention to it.
Arias, the White House and Congress never had the slightest intention of implementing any aspect of the plan. The US virtually tripled CIA supply flights to the contras. Within a couple of months the peace plan was totally dead.
As the election campaign opened, the US made it clear that the embargo that was strangling the country and the contra terror would continue if the Sandinistas won the election. You have to be some kind of Nazi or unreconstructed Stalinist to regard an election conducted under such conditions as free and fair - and south of the border, few succumbed to such delusions.
If anything like that were ever done by our enemies... I leave the media reaction to your imagination. The amazing part of it was that the Sandinistas still got 40% of the vote, while New York Times headlines proclaimed that Americans were "United in Joy" over this "Victory for US Fair Play."
US achievements in Central America in the past fifteen years are a major tragedy, not just because of the appalling human cost, but because a decade ago there were prospects for real progress towards meaningful democracy and meeting human needs, with early successes in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
These efforts might have worked and might have taught useful lessons to others plagued with similar problems - which, of course, was exactly what US planners feared. The threat has been successfully aborted, perhaps forever.
- Noam Chomsky.
On the Contras - Noam Chomsky debates with John Silber, The Ten O'Clock News, 1986
25 years ago: Reagan increases aid to Contras
On September 10, 1987 the Reagan administration requested a further $270 million from Congress to fund the Contra dirty war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The proposal aimed to sink a recently concluded Central American peace plan.
On August 7, the presidents of five Central American governmentsNicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Costa Ricahad signed the plan drafted by Costa Rican president Oscar Arias. The plan opposed foreign insurgents, lumping the US-backed Contra terrorists in Nicaragua with the popularly supported liberation movement in El Salvador, the Faribundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). The pact was engineered by the four US-supported Central American regimes as a way to pressure the Sandinista government in Nicaragua to the right.
Two days after the request for money for the contras, on September 12, Reagan made an about-face from his original praise for the peace plan and announced that the US would not accept any proposal which stood in the way of its declared goal of overthrowing the Sandinista government. Reagan declared the Sandinistas to be a totalitarian Marxist-Leninist dictatorship and a Soviet beachhead on this continent, only 2,000 miles from the Texas border. US imperialism never forgave the Sandinistas for their 1979 overthrow of the 45-year Somoza dictatorship, which was loyal to the US.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega called Reagan a dangerous fool and demanded the administration immediately withdraw its request for the $270 million for the mercenary contras if it is serious about helping to find peace ... and does not want to keep staining itself with the blood of Central America. Ortegas government appealed to the US in other ways, including by releasing right-wing terrorists from prison and returning property holdings to the rich landholders who were forced into exile in 1979.
Reagan: Killer, Coward, Con-man
by Greg Palast
You're not going to like this. You shouldn't speak ill of the dead. But in this case, someone's got to.
On the 100th Anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth, as we suffer a week of Reagan-kitcheria and pukey paeans, let us remember:
Reagan was a con-man. Reagan was a coward. Reagan was a killer.
In 1987, I found myself stuck in a crappy little town in Nicaragua named Chaguitillo. The people were kind enough, though hungry, except for one surly young man. His wife had just died of tuberculosis.
People don't die of TB if they get some antibiotics. But Ronald Reagan, big-hearted guy that he was, had put a lock-down embargo on medicine to Nicaragua because he didn't like the government that the people there had elected.
Ronnie grinned and cracked jokes while the young woman's lungs filled up and she stopped breathing. Reagan flashed that B-movie grin while they buried the mother of three.
And when Hezbollah terrorists struck and murdered hundreds of American marines in their sleep in Lebanon, the TV warrior ran away like a whipped dog then turned around and invaded Grenada. That little Club Med war was a murderous PR stunt so Ronnie could hold parades for gunning down Cubans building an airport.
I remember Nancy, a skull and crossbones prancing around in designer dresses, some of the "gifts" that flowed to the Reagans from hats to million-dollar homes from cronies well compensated with government loot. It used to be called bribery.
And all the while, Grandpa grinned, the grandfather who bleated on about "family values" but didn't bother to see his own grandchildren.
The New York Times, in its canned obit, wrote that Reagan projected, "faith in small town America" and "old-time values."
"Values" my ass. It was union-busting and a declaration of war on the poor and anyone who couldn't buy designer dresses. It was the New Meanness, bringing starvation back to America so that every millionaire could get another million.
"Small town" values? From the movie star of the Pacific Palisades, the Malibu mogul? I want to throw up.
And all the while, in the White House basement, as his brain boiled away, Reagan's last conscious act was to condone a coup d'état against our elected Congress. Reagan's Defense Secretary Casper the Ghost Weinberger with the crazed Colonel, Ollie North, plotted to give guns to the Monster of the Mideast, Ayatolla Khomeini.
Reagan's boys called Jimmy Carter a weanie and a wuss although Carter wouldn't give an inch to the Ayatollah. Reagan, with that film-fantasy tough-guy con in front of cameras, went begging like a coward cockroach to Khomeini, pleading on bended knee for the release of our hostages.
Ollie North flew into Iran with a birthday cake for the maniac mullah no kidding in the shape of a key. The key to Ronnie's heart.
Then the Reagan roaches mixed their cowardice with crime: taking cash from the hostage-takers to buy guns for the "contras" the drug-runners of Nicaragua posing as freedom fighters.
I remember as a student in Berkeley the words screeching out of the bullhorn, "The Governor of the State of California, Ronald Reagan, hereby orders this demonstration to disperse" and then came the teargas and the truncheons. And all the while, that fang-hiding grin from the Gipper.
In Chaguitillo, all night long, the farmers stayed awake to guard their kids from attack from Reagan's Contra terrorists. The farmers weren't even Sandinistas, those 'Commies' that our cracked-brained President told us were 'only a 48-hour drive from Texas.' What the hell would they want with Texas, anyway?
Nevertheless, the farmers, and their families, were Ronnie's targets.
In the deserted darkness of Chaguitillo, a TV blared. Weirdly, it was that third-rate gangster movie, "Brother Rat." Starring Ronald Reagan.
Well, mis amigos, your kids can sleep easy tonight. The Rat is dead.
All week you're going to hear about how Reagan restored America's sense of patriotism - as if heartless slaughter, Club Med wars and making racism respectable are patriotic . (When they said "small town values" you know the color of the town, don't you?).
I wonder if the Reaganauts can recognize any of the weapons they sold the mullahs when they see students gunned down in Teheran.
I do plan a memorial, for the victims, not the victimizer.
Please join me in commemorating the ill star that brought us a celluloid cowboy on his movie-set horsey by lighting a candle for a mom from Chaguitillo.
This obituary was originally published in The London Observer on Reagan's death in 2004.
The author received close to 150 death threats and suggestions for acrobatic acts of intercourse with beasts and relatives.
Nicaragua: A Nation's Right to Survive (1983) - A Documentary by John Pilger
The rising of Latin America - the genesis of 'The War On Democracy'
13 June 2007
In the 1960s, when I first went to Latin America, I travelled up the cone of the continent from Chile across the Altiplano to Peru, mostly in rickety buses and single-carriage trains. It was an experience my memory stored for life, especially the spectacle of the movement of people.
They moved through the dust of a snow-capped wilderness, along roads that were ribbons of red mud, and they lived in shanties that defied gravity. "We are invisible," said one man; another used the term abandonados; an indigenous woman in Bolivia unforgettably described her poverty as a commodity for the rich.
When I later saw Sebastiao Salgado's photographs of Latin America's working people, I recognised the people at the roadside, the gold miners and the coffee workers and the silhouettes framed in crosses in the cemeteries. Perhaps the idea for a cinema film began then, or when I reported Ronald Reagan's murderous assault on Central America; or when I first read the words of Victor Jara's ballads and heard Sam Cooke's anthem A Change Is Gonna Come.
The War On Democracy is my first film for cinema. It follows more than 55 documentary films for television, which began with The Quiet Mutiny, set in Vietnam. Most of my films have told stories of people's struggles against rapacious power and of attempts to subvert and control our historical memory. It is this control, this organised forgetting, that has always intrigued me both as a film-maker and a journalist. Described by Harold Pinter as a great silence unbroken by the incessant din of the media age, it assures the powerful in the west that the struggle of whole societies against their crimes is merely "superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged... It never happened. Even while it was happening it never happened. It didn't matter. It was of no interest".
This was true of Nicaragua in the early 1980s, when a popular revolution began to turn back poverty and bring literacy and hope to a country long dismissed as a banana republic. In the United States, the Sandinista government was successfully portrayed as communist and a threat, and crushed. After all, Richard Nixon had said of all of Latin America: "No one gives a sh*t about the place." The War On Democracy is meant as an antidote to this.
Modern fictional cinema rarely seems to break political silences. The very fine Motorcycle Diaries was a generation too late. In this country, where Hollywood sets the liberal boundaries, the work of Ken Loach and a few others is an honourable exception. However, the cinema is changing as if by default. The documentary has returned to the big screen and is being embraced by the public, in the US and all over. They were still clapping Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 two months after it opened in this country. Why? The answer is uncomplicated. It was a powerful film that helped people make sense of news that no longer made sense. It did not present the usual phoney "balance" as a pretence for presenting an establishment consensus. It was not riddled with the cliches, platitudes and power assumptions that permeate "current affairs". It was realist cinema, as important as The Grapes of Wrath was in the 1930s, and people devoured it.
The War On Democracy is not the same. It comes out of a British commercial television tradition that is too often passed over: the pioneering of bold factual journalism that treated other societies not as post-imperial curios, as useful or expendable to "us", but extraordinary and important in their own terms. Granada's World in Action, where I began, was a prime example. It would report and film in ways that the BBC would not dare. These days, with misnamed "reality" programmes consuming much of television like a plague of cane toads, cinema has been handed a timely opportunity. Such are the dangers imposed on us all today by a rampant, neo-fascist superpower, and so urgent is our need for uncontaminated information that people are prepared to buy a cinema ticket to get it.
The War On Democracy examines the false democracy that comes with western corporations and financial institutions and a war waged, materially and as propaganda, against popular democracy. It is the story of the people I first saw 40 years ago; but they are no longer invisible; they are a mighty political movement, reclaiming noble concepts distorted by corporatism and they are defending the most basic human rights in a war being waged against all of us.
Cinema and television production are closely related, of course, but the differences, I have learned, are critical. Cinema allows a panorama to unfold, giving a sense of place that only the big screen captures. In The War On Democracy, the camera sweeps across the Andes in Bolivia to the highest and poorest city on earth, El Alto, then follows Juan Delfin, a priest and a taxi driver, into a cemetery where children are buried. That Bolivia has been asset-stripped by multinational companies, aided by a corrupt elite, is an epic story described by this one man and this spectacle. That the people of Bolivia have stood up, expelled the foreign consortium that took their water resources, even the water that fell from the sky, is understood as the camera pans across a giant mural that Juan Delfin painted. This is cinema, a moving mural of ordinary lives and triumphs.
Chris Martin and I (we made the film as a partnership) used two crews and two very different cinematographers, Preston Clothier and Rupert Binsley. They shot in high-definition stock, which then had to be converted to 35mm film - one of cinema's wonderful anachronisms.
The film was backed by the impresario Michael Watt, a supporter of anti-poverty projects all over the world, who had told producer Wayne Young that he wanted to put my TV work in the cinema. Granada provided additional support, and ITV will broadcast the film later in the year. The extra funding also allowed me to persuade the late Sam Cooke's New York agents to license A Change Is Gonna Come, one of the finest, most lyrical pieces of black music ever written and performed. I was in the southern United States when it was released. It was the time of the civil-rights movement, and Cooke's song spoke to and for all people struggling to be free. The same is true of the ballads of the Chilean Victor Jara, whose songs celebrated the popular democracy of Salvador Allende before Pinochet and the CIA extinguished it.
We filmed in the National Stadium in Santiago, Chile, where Jara was taken along with thousands of other political prisoners. By all accounts, he was a source of strength for his comrades, singing for them until soldiers beat him to the ground and smashed his hands. He wrote his last song there and it was smuggled out on scraps of paper. These are the words:
What horror the face of fascism creates
They carry out their plans with knife-like precision ...
For them, blood equals medals ...
How hard it is to sing
When I must sing of horror ...
In which silence and screams
Are the end of my song.
After two days of torture, they killed him. The War On Democracy is about such courage and a warning to us all that "for them" nothing has changed, that "blood equals medals".
The War On Democracy
'The War On Democracy' (2007) was John Pilger's first for cinema. It explores the current and past relationship of Washington with Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Chile.
Using archive footage sourced by Michael Moore's archivist Carl Deal, the film shows how serial US intervention, overt and covert, has toppled a series of legitimate governments in the Latin American region since the 1950s. The democratically elected Chilean government of Salvador Allende, for example, was ousted by a US backed coup in 1973 and replaced by the military dictatorship of General Pinochet. Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador have all been invaded by the United States.
John Pilger interviews several ex-CIA agents who took part in secret campaigns against democratic countries in the region. He investigates the School of the Americas in the US state of Georgia, where Pinochets torture squads were trained along with tyrants and death squad leaders in Haiti, El Salvador, Brazil and Argentina.
The film unearths the real story behind the attempted overthrow of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez in 2002 and how the people of the barrios of Caracas rose up to force his return to power.
It also looks at the wider rise of populist governments across South America lead by indigenous leaders intent on loosening the shackles of Washington and a fairer redistribution of the continent's natural wealth.
John Pilger says: "[The film] is about the struggle of people to free themselves from a modern form of slavery". These people, he says, "describe a world not as American presidents like to see it as useful or expendable, they describe the power of courage and humanity among people with next to nothing. They reclaim noble words like democracy, freedom, liberation, justice, and in doing so they are defending the most basic human rights of all of us in a war being waged against all of us."
'The War On Democracy' was a Youngheart Entertainment, Granada and Michael Watt production. It was released in UK cinemas on 15 June 2007 and broadcast on ITV1, 20 August 2007. Directors: John Pilger and Chris Martin. Producers: Chris Martin and Wayne Young. Editor: Joe Frost. The film was made with the support of the humanitarian financier Michael Watt.
Awards: Best Documentary Award, 2008 One World Awards, London. The panel's citation read: "There are six criteria the judges are asked to use to select the winner of this award: the film's impact on public opinion, its appeal to a wide audience, its inclusion of voices from the developing world, its high journalistic or production standards, its success in conveying the impact of the actions of the world's rich on the lives of the poor and the extent to which it draws attention to possible solutions. One film met every one of these. It was the winner of the award: John Pilger's 'The War on Democracy'."
The War On Democracy (versión en español)
2007. La historia del manipulación de países latinoamericanos por Estados Unidos durante los últimos 50 años, inclusive la verdad detrás del derrocamiento procurado del Presidente de Venezuela Hugo Chávez en 2002.
South of The Border - A Documentary by Oliver Stone
A road trip across five countries to explore the social and political movements as well as the mainstream media's misperception of South America while interviewing seven of its elected presidents.
CIA Covert Operations and U.S. Interventions Since World War II - Full documentary
100 years ago: US marines and navy confront Nicaraguan rebels
On 25 September, 1912, 700 Nicaraguan rebels under the leadership of General Luis Mena surrendered after being confronted by 2,700 US marines and navy personnel. The US intervention followed a period of protracted instability and infighting in the Nicaraguan political establishment.
In August 1910, Liberal president Jose Santos Zelaya had been forced into exile, after angering Washington and Nicaraguan conservatives by pursuing a relatively independent foreign policy. He was replaced by his vice president, Juan Jose Estrada, who led an unstable government that remained in power largely due to Washingtons support. Adolfo Diaz, Estradas vice president, was elevated to the presidency in 1911.
In June 1911, Diaz signed the Knox-Castrillo treaty with Washington, stipulating a $15 million loan from American bankers J. and W. Seligman and Brown Brothers, on the condition that the money would pay existing claims against the Nicaraguan government and finance a railway to the east coast. The treaty, which would have essentially placed the customs of Nicaragua under the control of Washington and American bankers, failed to pass the US senate, as a result of opposition from elements in the Democratic Party.
Diaz procured a loan directly from the American bankers, placing the Nicaraguan National Bank and the state-owned Pacific railway under majority American control. The loan met with opposition from broad sections of the Nicaraguan political establishment, including the Liberals, and Diazs minister of war, General Mena. When Mena was dismissed from Diazs government in July, he launched a rebellion which gained broad support, including from Liberals who had supported the Zelaya government. In response to requests for aid from Diaz, 100 American marines were sent to Nicaragua in August, followed by 2,700 in September.
According to historian Edward S. Kaplan, There is little question that without the American marines the Diaz government would have been overthrown, and the [William Howard] Taft administration could not have allowed that to happen.
The US intervention in Nicaragua was part of a broader aggressive policy being pursued by Washington in South and Central America. On September 24, 750 US marines were dispatched to the Dominican Republic, intervening in the ongoing civil war there to protect American interests.
"Sandinistas are a democratically elected government which originally led a popular revolution to overthrow a dictatorship based on slavery...
US foreign policy could be best defined as follows: kiss my arse or I'll kick your head in.
It is as simple and as crude as that.
It can hardly be said to be a complicated foreign policy. What is interesting about it is that it is so incredibly successful.
It possesses the structures of disinformation, use of rhetoric, distortion of language, which are very persuasive,
but are actually a pack of lies. It is very successful propaganda.
They have the money, they have the technology, they have all the means to get away with it, and they do.
I find the ignorance in this country, Britain, and certainly the US, really quite deep. It is not only the Republican Party and government in the US which are responsible for this state of affairs, but I see the Democrats as only differing by degrees."
- Harold Pinter, British playwright, actor and theatre director.
"These events don't constitute assassinations because as far as we are concerned assassinations are only those of heads of state."
- Duane Clarridge, CIA division chief in charge of Nicaraguan paramilitary operations in Congressional briefing in 1983, on the murders of "civilians and Sandinista officials heads of cooperatives, nurses, doctors, and judges" by CIA supported Contras; as quoted in Washington's War on Nicaragua (1988) by Holly Sklar, p. 186.
"The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps."
- Thomas L. Friedman
"I spent 33 years in the Marines. Most of my time being a high-classed muscle man for Big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street...."
- Smedley D. Butler (1881-1940) Major General (U.S. Marine Corps)
"Nicaragua. What's happening in Nicaragua today is covert action. It's a classic de-stabilization program. In November 16, 1981, President Reagan allocated 19 million dollars to form an army, a force of contras, they're called, ex-Somoza national guards, the monsters who were doing the torture and terror in Nicaragua that made the Nicaraguan people rise up and throw out the dictator, and throw out the guard. We went back to create an army of these people. We are killing, and killing, and terrorizing people. Not only in Nicaragua but the Congress has leaked to the press - reported in the New York Times, that there are 50 covert actions going around the world today, CIA covert actions going on around the world today.
You have to be asking yourself, why are we destabilizing 50 corners of the troubled world? Why are we about to go to war in Nicaragua, the Central American war? It is the function, I suggest, of the CIA, with its 50 de-stabilization programs going around the world today, to keep the world unstable, and to propagandize the American people to hate, so we will let the establishment spend any amount of money on arms....
....Nicaragua is not the biggest covert action, it is the most famous one. Afghanistan is, we spent several hundred million dollars in Afghanistan. We've spent somewhat less than that, but close, in Nicaragua....
[When the U.S. doesn't like a government], they send the CIA in, with its resources and activists, hiring people, hiring agents, to tear apart the social and economic fabric of the country, as a technique for putting pressure on the government, hoping that they can make the government come to the U.S.'s terms, or the government will collapse altogether and they can engineer a coup d'etat, and have the thing wind up with their own choice of people in power.
Now ripping apart the economic and social fabric of course is fairly textbook-ish. What we're talking about is going in and deliberately creating conditions where the farmer can't get his produce to market, where children can't go to school, where women are terrified inside their homes as well as outside their homes, where government administration and programs grind to a complete halt, where the hospitals are treating wounded people instead of sick people, where international capital is scared away and the country goes bankrupt. If you ask the state department today what is their official explanation of the purpose of the Contras, they say it's to attack economic targets, meaning, break up the economy of the country. Of course, they're attacking a lot more.
To destabilize Nicaragua beginning in 1981, we began funding this force of Somoza's ex-national guardsmen, calling them the contras (the counter-revolutionaries). We created this force, it did not exist until we allocated money. We've armed them, put uniforms on their backs, boots on their feet, given them camps in Honduras to live in, medical supplies, doctors, training, leadership, direction, as we've sent them in to de-stabilize Nicaragua. Under our direction they have systematically been blowing up graineries, saw mills, bridges, government offices, schools, health centers. They ambush trucks so the produce can't get to market. They raid farms and villages. The farmer has to carry a gun while he tries to plow, if he can plow at all.
If you want one example of hard proof of the CIA's involvement in this, and their approach to it, dig up `The Sabotage Manual', that they were circulating throughout Nicaragua, a comic-book type of a paper, with visual explanations of what you can do to bring a society to a halt, how you can gum up typewriters, what you can pour in a gas tank to burn up engines, what you can stuff in a sewage to stop up the sewage so it won't work, things you can do to make a society simply cease to function.
Systematically, the contras have been assassinating religious workers, teachers, health workers, elected officials, government administrators. You remember the assassination manual? that surfaced in 1984. It caused such a stir that President Reagan had to address it himself in the presidential debates with Walter Mondale. They use terror. This is a technique that they're using to traumatize the society so that it can't function.
I don't mean to abuse you with verbal violence, but you have to understand what your government and its agents are doing. They go into villages, they haul out families. With the children forced to watch they castrate the father, they peel the skin off his face, they put a grenade in his mouth and pull the pin. With the children forced to watch they gang-rape the mother, and slash her breasts off. And sometimes for variety, they make the parents watch while they do these things to the children.
This is nobody's propaganda. There have been over 100,000 American witnesses for peace who have gone down there and they have filmed and photographed and witnessed these atrocities immediately after they've happened, and documented 13,000 people killed this way, mostly women and children. These are the activities done by these contras. The contras are the people president Reagan calls `freedom fighters'. He says they're the moral equivalent of our founding fathers."
- John Stockwell, former CIA Agent, speaking in October 1987 at a lecture on the inner workings of the national security council and the CIA's convert actions in Angola, Central America and Vietnam.
The Secret Wars of the CIA - John Stockwell
A lecture by John Stockwell given in October, 1987 on the inner workings of the national security council and the CIA's convert actions in Angola, Central America and Vietnam.
John Stockwell is the highest-ranking CIA official ever to leave the agency and go public. He ran a CIA intelligence-gathering post in Vietnam, was the task-force commander of the CIA's secret war in Angola in 1975 and 1976, and was awarded the Medal of Merit before he resigned. Stockwell's book In Search of Enemies, published by W.W. Norton 1978, is an international best-seller.
Tomas Borge who was a Nicaraguan Sandinista leader who fought Somoza's National Guard and the army of Contra murderers armed and funded by Do-Ron-Ron Reagan in order to try and terrorise Nicaraguans as punishment for overthrowing the US-backed Somoza.
Tomas Borge was tortured by the Contras.
He was forced to watch his wife being gang-raped and then murdered by them.
He went on to write this poem with Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy about forgiveness and what would be his sweetest revenge:
My Personal Revenge
My personal revenge will be the right
of your children to school and to flowers;
My personal revenge will be to offer you
this florid song without fears;
My personal revenge will be to show you
the good there is in the eyes of my people,
always unyielding in combat
and most steadfast and generous in victory.
My personal revenge will be to say to you
good morning, without beggars in the streets,
when instead of jailing you I intend
you shake the sorrow from your eyes;
when you, practitioner of torture,
can no longer so much as lift your gaze,
my personal revenge will be to offer you
these hands you once maltreated
without being able to make them forsake tenderness.
And it was the people who hated you most
when the song was a language of violence;
But the people today beneath its skin
of red and black* has its heart uplifted.
* The colours of the Sandinista flag.
Lest we forget: remembering Ronald Reagan for what he was.
In English and then Spanish. En inglés y despues en español.
A personal memory by Paul Laverty who worked as a human rights lawyer in Nicaragua in the 1980s and is the screenwriter for five Ken Loach films.
As history is being rewritten before our eyes and the great and the good, past and present, from Thatcher and Gorbachev to Clinton and Bush mourn the death of ex President Ronald Reagan, it has been fascinating to see how this man has been virtually canonised. On news of his death the world’s media have repeated some of his best known jokes and folksie one liners – even his “let's bomb Russia” seemed harmless - as if the nation’s favourite Grandfather, though perhaps slightly disconnected, really was the embodiment of freedom.
I too have my favourite memories of the Great Communicator. Since I was based in Managua, Nicaragua, working for a human rights organisation, I particularly appreciated the man’s genius for persuasion when he declared Nicaragua – then with a population of 3 million – to be a major security threat to the existence of the United States. After all, it was only “two days march from Texas.”
It also brought to mind my first funeral in a town called Esteli; an eight year old boy on yellow plastic seat, shaking and inconsolable, as deep atavistic sobs wracked his tiny body. He then rushed to grasp the coffin, which held his favourite uncle, just 18 years old. I remember the day a human rights report that came in from the North. The Contra forces attacked a cooperative. In the chaos a mother heard them torturing her daughter during the hours of darkness. In the morning they found her mutilated corpse in a ditch with her breasts cut off. The bodies mounted up faster than the human rights reports; literally, one abomination more vicious than the next which were beyond the imagination in their inventive cruelty.
Can I make one very simple point. On each occasion, before a vote in the US Congress seeking further financial support for the Contras, major human rights organisations, including Amnesty and Americas Watch, provided detailed and corroborated evidence of systematic murder and torture by the US funded Contras against the civilian population. That young woman’s fate was not some isolated aberration, but the fine detail of a campaign of terror.
I remember interviewing a teenage Contra arrested by the Sandinistas. He told me how he finished off the survivors of an ambush with his knife, mutilating them beyond recognition. President Reagan invited this boy’s leaders into the White House and in a cordial press conference declared them to be “freedom fighters” and “the equivalent of our founding fathers”.
All the evidence is there, easily accessible on the internet. It is inconceivable that Ronald Reagan did not know that the Contras he created with the help of William Casey, then head of the CIA, were torturers and murderers. He was their most important financier and champion. If there was any real justice, he would have been tried for his crimes against humanity, but it does raise important questions about why such a reasonable proposition is light years away from our current political reality.
But surely the least we can do to honour the dead – strange how only certain dead are worth remembering - is to call this man by his correct title. He may well have been an ex President, but he was also a terrorist who supported murder and torture. As Ronald Reagan is laid in State I can’t help but remember the child tossed into the ditch.
RONALD REAGAN – UN RECUERDO PERSONAL
Mientras la historia está siendo reescrita delante de nuestros ojos y los grandes hombres y mujeres, del pasado y del presente, desde Thatcher y Gorbachov a Clinton y Bush lloran la muerte del ex presidente Ronald Reagan, está siendo fascinante ver cómo este hombre ha sido casi canonizado. Los medios de comunicación del mundo entero han repetido algunas de sus bromas más conocidas y frases célebres al dar la noticia de su muerte- incluso su “vamos a bombardear Rusia” parecía inofensivo- como si el abuelo favorito de la nación, aunque quizá un poco desconectado, fuera realmente la materialización de la libertad.
Yo también tengo mis recuerdos favoritos del Gran Comunicador. Mientras trabajaba en una organización para los Derechos Humanos en Managua, Nicaragua, aprecié particularmente el genio de este hombre para la persuasión cuando declaró que Nicaragua –entonces con una población de 3 millones- era una gran amenaza para la existencia de los Estados Unidos. Al fin y al cabo, estaba a tan sólo “dos días de marcha de Tejas”.
También me viene a la mente el primer funeral que presencié, en un pueblo llamado Esteli; la imagen de un niño de ocho años, sobre una silla de plástico amarilla, temblando y sin consuelo mientras unos sollozos profundos y ancestrales sacudían su cuerpo menudo, y cómo de pronto se avalanzó sobre el ataúd en el que estaba su tío favorito de tan sólo 18 años. También recuerdo el día en que un informe de derechos humanos llegó del norte. Las fuerzas de la Contra habían atacado una cooperativa. En medio del caos una madre había oído cómo torturaban a su hija durante horas en la oscuridad. A la mañana siguiente encontraron el cadáver mutilado de la niña en una zanja, con los pechos cortados. Los cuerpos se acumulaban más rápido que los informes de derechos humanos; literalmente, una abominación más cruel que la siguiente más allá de lo que la imaginación pue de alcanzar en su máxima crueldad.
Voy a hacer un simple comentario: En cada ocasión, antes de un voto favorable en el Congreso de los Estados Unidos para buscar más apoyo financiero para la Contra, las grandes agencias de derechos humanos, incluyendo Amnistía Internacional y Americas Watch, aportaban evidencias detalladas y corroboradas de asesinatos y torturas sistemáticas por parte de la Contra (fundada por Estados Unidos) contra la población civil. El destino de esa joven no era una aberración aislada, sino el perfecto detalle en una diseñada campaña de terror.
Recuerdo una entrevista que hice a un adolescente de la Contra que había sido arrestado por los Sandinistas. Me contó cómo acabó con los supervivientes de una emboscada con su cuchillo, mutilándolos hasta que quedaron irreconocibles. El presidente Reagan invitó a los jefes de este chico a la Casa Blanca y en una cordial rueda de prensa los declaró “luchadores por la libertad” y “el equivalente a nuestros grandes hombres de Estado".
Todas las evidencias están ahí, fácilmente accesibles en Internet. Es inconcebible que Ronald Reagan no supiera que la Contra que él mismo creó con la ayuda de William Casey, el jefe de la CIA, eran torturadores y asesinos. Él era su fuente de financiación más importante. Si hubiera algo parecido a la justicia real, Reagan habría sido juzgado por sus crímenes contra la humanidad, pero el hecho de que esa opción tan razonable se encuntre a años luz de nuestra realidad politica actual plantea importantes preguntas.
Lo que al menos sí podemos hacer para salvaguardar el honor de esos muertos (sus nombres están en los informes) –qué extraño cómo sólo ciertos muertos merecen la pena ser recordados- es llamar a este señor por su nombre correcto. Es verdad que era un ex presidente, pero también que era un terrorista que apoyó asesinatos y torturas. Mientr as Ronald Reagan tiene un funeral de Estado, yo no puedo dejar de recordar esa chica que fue arrojada a la zanja.
Remembering those who died as a result of the Thatcher government foreign policy
Among the torrent of news coverage of Margaret Thatcher’s death there has been little mention of the deadly consequences of her policies on the countries of the South. When Ronald Reagan died in 2004 Margaret Thatcher applauded her great friend and fellow ideologue by commenting that he was ‘responsible for winning the cold war without firing a shot'. Behind this world view, uncluttered by facts, lies the reality of the deaths of millions of people.
In Central America alone an estimated 300,000 people lost their lives as the Reagan administration attempted to drive ‘communist’ influence out of its ‘backyard’- aided and the abetted by the special relationship that Thatcher enjoyed with Reagan. In the case of Nicaragua, the Thatcher government was the key European ally in US attempts to destroy the Sandinista government.
In 1981, Ronald Reagan set about destroying the Sandinistas – who came to power in a popular insurrection to oust a US-backed dictator – by unleashing a war on all fronts: paramilitary, political, diplomatic, ideological, economic and psychological. This included arming, funding and training a mercenary force known as the "contras". For Reagan, the means – however illegal, murky and morally reprehensible – justified the ends. Former CIA director Stansfield Turner testified to Congress that the actions of the contras 'have to be classified as terrorism, state-sponsored terrorism'. Neil Kinnock in a speech to Labour Party conference in 1986 stated: ‘How can a president who is rightly the enemy of terrorism sponsor the terrorism of the contra in Central America?’
In 1986 the Iran-contra scandal erupted: the Reagan administration illegally sold arms to Iran and used the proceeds to fund the contras during a period from 1984-86 when Congress had imposed a ban. The Tower Commission report into the scandal revealed UK involvement in a network providing arms to the contra through KMS, a London based security firm.
In 1986 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found the US guilty of breaches of international law including arming and training of an illegal paramilitary organisation, mining Nicaragua’s harbours, and imposing a trade embargo. The US refused to accept the jurisdiction of the Court or to pay the estimated $17bn damage to the country's infrastructure. Although the UK had accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ, when Nicaragua called on the US to abide by the ruling in the UN Security Council and Assembly the UK abstained. The British representative to the UN accused Nicaragua of using the Court for ‘narrow political ends’ and added that the crisis facing Nicaragua was ‘largely of its own making.’
Throughout the 1980s the Thatcher government supported the US strangulation of the Nicaraguan economy by dramatically reducing or cutting aid and trade. A document leaked from the Overseas Development Administration – now the Department for International Development – dated 12 October 1984 reveals the voting policy of UK in international lending institutions: ’we continue to oppose proposals for Nicaragua by finding technical reasons for doing so’.
As Margaret Thatcher’s funeral takes place in London this Wednesday our thoughts are with the tens of thousands of Nicaraguans who suffered the consequences of US foreign policy – aided and abetted by the Thatcher government.
Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign
15 April, 2013