You are hereSouth America
By Michael Parenti, http://CommonDreams.org
Is President Obama innocent of the events occurring in Honduras, specifically the coup launched by the Honduran military resulting in the abduction and forced deportation of democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya? Obama has denounced the coup and demanded that the rules of democracy be honored. Still, several troubling questions remain.
First, almost all the senior Honduran military officers active in the coup are graduates of the Pentagon's School of the Americas (known to many of us as "School of the Assassins"). The Honduran military is trained, advised, equipped, indoctrinated, and financed by the United States national security state. The generals would never have dared to move without tacit consent from the White House or the Pentagon and CIA.
The National Lawyers Guild calls for concrete action in response to the military coup perpetrated against the democratically-elected government of President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras which included the kidnapping and expulsion of President Zelaya and his Foreign Minister, Patricia Rodas, the detention the Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan ambassadors, blackout of international media, the suspension of constitutional rights of assembly and expression, and the detentions, assassinations and attacks on members of civil society and trade unions who support the restoration of democracy in Honduras.
We appreciate the strong statements coming from President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemning the coup and recognizing
President Zelaya as the duly elected and legitimate president of Honduras and we now call on the Obama administration to halt all
By William Hughes
A surreal event took place on July 7, 2009, at the National Press Club, in Washington, D.C. It was so strange that I thought that the late, great British comedic actor, Peter Sellers, was going to make a cameo appearance! Some of the representatives of the “de facto” regime in Honduras, repeatedly denied that President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup on June 28, 2009. At the beginning of the press conference, protesters staged a brief demonstration. On this video, you will see and hear the spin on the matter from former Honduras Ambassador to the U.S., one Roberto Flores Bermudez. For background on the coup d’etat, see: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/30/world/americas/30honduras.html and http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1907600,00.html and http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1970/68/ and http://www.pasionvioleta.com/en-el-campo-grande-f17/fuera-golpistas-de-honduras-t2937.htm and ttp://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/44258 For a historical perspective, check out Stephen KInzer’s excellent tome, “Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq” at: http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org/cgi-bin/blogs/voices.php/2008/04/01/p24467#more24467 There is a concise chapter in the book dealing with Honduras.
From Robert Naiman:
AP Legitimize Honduran Coup Regime as "Interim Government"
By Eva Golinger, Postcards from the Revolution
FOR THOSE OF YOU IN WASHINGTON, D.C., TRY YOUR BEST TO PROTEST AND MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD AGAINST THE COUP IN HONDURAS!!
IT'S UNACCEPTABLE THAT THE STATE DEPARTMENT ALLOWED COUP LEADERS AND PARTICIPANTS TO ENTER THE UNITED STATES AND ENGAGE IN POLITICAL ACTIVITIES, CONSIDERING THE U.S. GOVERNMENT ALLEGEDLY CONDEMNS THE COUP...
Press release on behalf on Honduran Coup leaders:
Contact: Tom O'Neill, The Cormac Group, +1-202-467-4700, email@example.com, for Honduran National Congress
Obama Must Strongly and Unequivocally Condemn the Coup in Honduras
By Roberto Lovato | AlterNet
Viewed from a distance, the streets of Honduras look, smell and sound like those of Iran: Expressions of popular anger- burning vehicles, large marches and calls for justice in a non-English language - aimed at a constitutional violation of the people's will (the coup took place on the eve of a poll of voters asking if the President's term should be extended); protests repressed by a small, but powerful elite backed by military force; those holding power trying to cut off communications in and out of the country.
These and other similarities between the political situation in Iran and the situation in Honduras, where military and economic and political elites ousted democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya in a military coup condemned around the world, are obvious.
But when viewed from the closer physical (Miami is just 800 miles from Honduras) and historical proximity of the United States, the differences between Iran and Honduras are marked and clear in important ways: the M-16's pointing at this very moment at the thousands of peaceful protesters are paid for with U.S. tax dollars and still carry a "Made in America" label; the military airplane in which they kidnapped and exiled President Zelaya was purchased with the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid the Honduran government has been the benefactor of since the Cold War military build-up that began in 1980's; the leader of the coup, General Romeo Vasquez, and many other military leaders repressing the populace received "counterinsurgency" training at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly known as the infamous "School of the Americas," responsible for training those who perpetrated the greatest atrocities in the Americas.
The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) joins with the international community in denunciation of the military coup in Honduras.
We join with all who call for an immediate end to the violence and repression against the people of Honduras who are resisting. We express our solidarity with the Honduran trade unions and all democratic forces waging a heroic defense of democracy against the military coup.
We call on the U.S. government - the White House, State Department and Members of Congress - to denounce unambiguously the coup and call for the immediate return of the democratically elected President of Honduras, withhold recognition of the coup leaders, and cut all military aid until democracy is restored. We urge all to contact their Member of Congress, the U.S. State Department and White House to convey this message.
The first coup d’etat in Central America in more than a quarter-century occurred last Sunday in Honduras. Honduran soldiers roused democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya from his bed and flew him into exile in Costa Rica. The coup, led by the Honduran Gen. Romeo Vasquez, has been condemned by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, the Organization of American States and all of Honduras’ immediate national neighbors. Mass protests have erupted on the streets of Honduras, with reports that elements in the military loyal to Zelaya are rebelling against the coup.
The United States has a long history of domination in the hemisphere. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can chart a new course, away from the dark days of military dictatorship, repression and murder. Obama indicated such a direction when he spoke in April at the Summit of the Americas: “[A]t times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations.”
Two who know well the history of dictated U.S. terms are Dr. Juan Almendares, a medical doctor and award-winning human rights activist in Honduras, and the American clergyman Father Roy Bourgeois, a priest who for years has fought to close the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Ga. Both men link the coup in Honduras to the SOA.
The SOA, renamed in 2000 the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), is the U.S. military facility that trains Latin American soldiers. The SOA has trained more than 60,000 soldiers, many of whom have returned home and committed human rights abuses, torture, extrajudicial execution and massacres. Read more.
Please join me in solidarity with the people of Honduras to determine their own future.
I urge all to support the citizens of Honduras in their demand that President Manuel Zelaya be restored immediately to his constitutionally elected post and authority as President of Honduras. It is imperative that citizens across the United States write and call upon President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to quickly execute every available influence to ensure that President Zelaya is safely returned to his post.
Your voices are urgently needed to encourage our government to exercise its influence to ensure that the Ambassadors of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua who have been violently kidnapped are not harmed and are immediately safely returned.
Our emergency international delegation to Honduras, organized from the United States by CODEPINK, Global Exchange and Non-Violence International, began its fact-finding mission in the wake of the June 28 coup that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya.
We started out with a briefing by the Network of Sustainable Development (Red de Desarrollo Sostenible, a 15-year-old organization devoted to the exchange of information about sustainable development. It has now become a center for exchanging information about the coup. Using blogspot, facebook, twitter, myspace, flickr and youtube, the Network's network is abuzz with hour-by-hour accounts of political developments. Their communication system has become a critical way for Honduras to get information, since the coup leaders have muzzled the press.
The Network has a history of being objective and staying above politics, but the staff is outraged by the coup. "This was just over the top," said National Coordinator Raquel Isaura, who is being targeted by the right for some anti-coup internet messages posted under her name. "A military coup in this day and age must be condemned by all sectors of civil society." Read more.
Denounce the Human Rights Abuses in Honduras | Press Release
WASHINGTON - June 30 - The situation in Honduras turned violent when over 10,000 people gathered in the streets to protest the coup Monday evening. Using tear gas, high-powered water and guns (it is still not clear whether soldiers were armed with rubber bullets or otherwise) many people were wounded and there has been one confirmed death in the capital, Tegucigalpa. In the capital, pro-coup marches are occurring, defended by the police and national guard. As of Tuesday morning, the resistance movement to the coup is gathering in Tegucigalpa, to determine how and where to take to the streets. Therefore, there is anticipation of violence today, as soldiers are expected to react violently today to protesters as they did yesterday.
By Linda Milazzo
As a critic of media, in particular of cable/satellite "news," I'm troubled by American corporate-media, specifically CNN's near non-stop coverage of the turmoil in Iran. Not because the story isn't important. It's critically important and warrants the personal coverage it's getting from the Iranian people as they bypass corporate channels to tell their stories on facebook, youtube, flickr and twitter.
Thanks to Iran's tech-savvy society, old-time corporate media is now relegated to the position of new-media aggregator, whoring its visibility to co-opt the Iranian people's new-media messages to America and the world. Old-media, and specifically CNN, are learning the difficult lesson that with or without their vast resources and state of the art studios, the Iranians' stories will be told. And they'll be told to tens of millions more viewers than cable and satellite programs tend to reach.
AMID THE media frenzy and speculation over the disappearance of Air France's ill-fated Flight 447, the loss of two of the world's most prominent figures in the war on the illegal arms trade and international drug trafficking has been virtually overlooked.
Pablo Dreyfus, a 39-year-old Argentine who was travelling with his wife Ana Carolina Rodrigues aboard the doomed flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, had worked tirelessly with the Brazilian authorities to stem the flow of arms and ammunition that for years has fuelled the bloody turf wars waged by drug gangs in Rio's sprawling favelas.
Also travelling with Dreyfus on the doomed flight was his friend and colleague Ronald Dreyer, a Swiss diplomat and co-ordinator of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence who had worked with UN missions in El Salvador, Mozambique, Azerbaijan, Kosovo and Angola. Both men were consultants at the Small Arms Survey, an independent think tank based at Geneva's Graduate Institute of International Studies. The Survey said on its website that Dryer had helped mobilise the support of more than 100 countries to the cause of disarmament and development....
Dreyfus and Dreyer were on their way to Geneva to present the latest edition of the Small Arms Survey handbook, of which Dreyfus was a joint editor. It was to have been their latest step in their relentless fight against evil. Read more.
President Hugo Chavez says he has a new book for President Barack Obama: "What is to be Done?" by communist Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet state.
Chavez says he'll "give it to Obama at the next meeting."
"What is to be Done?" is Lenin's political treatise on the role of intellectuals and the proletariat in promoting revolution, written more than a decade before he led the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1917.
Chavez gave Obama a copy of "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent" by Eduardo Galeano at an April summit.
The book jumped the next day to the No. 2 seller on Amazon.com. Read more.
Media Coverage of Haiti's Sham Elections
By Stephen Lendman
What if a national election was held and virtually no one showed up? That's precisely what happened in Haiti. On April 19, scheduled senatorial elections were to fill 12 open seats. However, after majority Fanmi Lavalas (FL) candidates were disqualified on a first time ever procedural technicality, party leaders called for a national boycott, and Haitians responded overwhelmingly with estimates of as few as 3% of eligible voters participating.
According to Rene Civil, one of the boycott's leaders:
"What we (saw was) the non-violent resistance of the Haitian people to undemocratic elections. There is no way they will be able to call Senators elected in this process legitimate. You cannot hold elections with the majority political party" excluded.
Ronald Fareau, another leader, added:
"We want to congratulate the international community for their hypocrisy in these elections. They spent over $17 million on another electoral fraud in Haiti while our people continue to suffer from malnutrition and illiteracy."
In 2005, coup-ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide said:
"The people of Haiti want life and not death. They want peace and not violence. They want democracy and not repression."
Haitians Overwhelmingly Reject Electoral Sham
by Stephen Lendman
On April 19, sham elections were held to fill 12 open seats in the 30-member Haitian Senate, but most Haitians refused to go along.
Earlier in February on procedural grounds, Haiti's Provisional Election Council (CEP) disqualified Fanmi Lavalas (FL) candidates from participating, the party most Haitians support.
Mass outrage and apprehension showed up in Priorities Project (HPP) pre-election polls with only 5% of eligible voters stating an intention to participate.
HPP's Jacob Francois told Inter Press Service (IPS):
"We organized our census primarily through town hall meetings, where organizers spoke to people in groups and individually. From this we tallied the opinions of what we estimated to be 65,000 from an eight million population." From this sampling, a 5% participation rate was calculated.
By Dave Lindorff
President Obama deserves credit for breaking the half-century-long taboo in American politics of dealing with Cuba, and meeting with Raul Castro, Cuba’s current leader. He also deserves credit for dealing in a friendly manner with Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
But what is this crap about “talking with” our enemies or with countries that have been “hostile” towards us?
It is certainly be true that America doesn’t like Communism, and doesn’t like having properties owned by its citizens taken over, which happened in the wake of the Cuban revolution, but nationalization is a right that many sovereign nations have exercised in their national interest, and besides that, what has Cuba ever done that would show it to be an enemy of the US?
What if Barack Obama had picked the Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel or Democracy Now! anchor Amy Goodman to advise him at the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago this week? Unlikely, to say the least, but 75 years ago President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did something just like that, tapping a former Nation editor and fierce critic of U.S. militarism to advise his administration on Latin American policy. As a result -- consider this your curious, yet little known, fact of the day -- anti-imperialism saved the American empire.
FDR took office in 1933 looking not just to stabilize the U.S. economy, but to calm a world inflamed: Japan had invaded Manchuria the year before; the Nazis had seized power in Germany; European imperialists were tightening their holds over their colonies; and the Soviet Union had declared its militant "third period" strategy, imagining that global capitalism, plunged into the Great Depression, was in its last throes.
Last Wednesday, the front page of the Wall Street Journal pulled no punches. The lead headline was: "Global Slump Seen Deepening." ("The outlook for the global economy worsened on the eve of a summit of the world's 20 biggest economic powers…") A chart just beneath that headline, labeled "Gloomier Outlook" and showing World Bank economic projections, was nothing short of dramatic. The graph line for world trade simply plunged off a visual cliff and, like an arrow heading for a target, went straight down. The last paragraph of the piece quoted World Bank President Robert Zoellick this way: "In London, Washington, and Paris, people talk of bonuses or no bonuses. In parts of Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, the struggle is for food or no food."
CARACAS, Venezuela (CNN) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he would be willing to accept prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention center, which U.S. President Barack Obama has said he will close, the Venezuelan government said Thursday.
Chavez also said he hopes the United States will give Cuba back the land on which the naval base is located, the government said in a news release.
"We would not have any problem receiving a human being," the government release quoted Chavez as saying in an interview Wednesday with Al Jazeera TV.
The United States obtained the Guantanamo base in 1903, after Spain's surrender in the Spanish-American War of 1898. In 2002, then-President George W. Bush opened the detention center to hold what the Bush administration categorized as enemy combatants captured in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Seymour Hersh: Secret U.S. Forces Carried Out Assassinations in 'a Lot of' Countries, Including in Latin America
Seymour Hersh: Secret U.S. Forces Carried Out Assassinations in 'a Lot of' Countries, Including in Latin America
The investigative journalist for The New Yorker explains his recent bombshell revelation about Dick Cheney's "executive assassination" squads.
By Amy Goodman | Democracy Now! | March 31, 2009
Amy Goodman: Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh created a stir last month when he said the Bush administration ran an executive assassination ring that reported directly to Vice President Dick Cheney. Hersh made the comment during a speech at the University of Minnesota on March 10th.
Seymour Hersh: Congress has no oversight of it. It's an executive assassination wing, essentially. And it's been going on and on and on. And just today in the Times there was a story saying that its leader, a three-star admiral named McRaven, ordered a stop to certain activities because there were so many collateral deaths. It's been going in -- under President Bush's authority, they've been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or to the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving.
Hopeful Change In El Salvador?
By Stephen Lendman
Like other Latin American nations, El Salvador has had a long and troubled history, ruled from one decade to the next by successive military dictatorships, then since 1989 by the right wing National Republican Alliance or ARENA Party.
Long-suffering Salvadorans recall the 1980s struggles when the Farabudo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) failed to end what the civil-military Junta leader, Jose Napoleon Duarte, told New York Times reporter Raymond Bonner in 1980:
"Fifty years of lies, fifty years of injustice, fifty years of frustration. (El Salvador's) history (is pockmarked by) people starving to death, living in misery. For fifty years, the same people had all the power, all the money, all the jobs, all the education, all the opportunities." Finally they rebelled but failed.
Report: Russia may base bombers in Cuba | MSNBC
Venezuela also temporarily offers island site as Moscow eyes Caribbean
Russian strategic bombers may be based in Cuba in the future, a Russian Air Force chief told Interfax news agency on Saturday.
Maj. Gen. Anatoly Zhikharev, chief of staff of Russia's long-range aviation, said Cuba had air bases with four or five suitable runways.
Interfax reported that he said Cuba could be used to base Russian bombers if the two countries "display a political will", adding "we are ready to fly there."
Zhikharev also said that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has offered an island as a temporary base for Russian planes.
Zhikharev said Chavez had offered "a whole island with an airdrome, which we can use as a temporary base for strategic bombers," the agency reported. "If there is a corresponding political decision, then the use of the island ... by the Russian Air Force is possible."
Thank you, President Obama. At long last - better late than never - a high-level official of the Obama Administration has clearly affirmed U.S. neutrality ahead of Sunday's Presidential election in El Salvador.
Voice of America reports:
Friday in Washington, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Tom Shannon said the United States supports the democratic process in El Salvador and will work with whomever is elected.
Also on Friday, Rep. Howard Berman, (D-CA), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, affirmed that neither Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans in the U.S. nor remittance flows from the U.S. to El Salvador would be affected by the outcome of the election. From the Committee website:
Last week, more than 30 Members of Congress joined Rep. Raul Grijalva in asking President Obama to affirm U.S. neutrality in El Salvador's Presidential election on Sunday March 15, to stop the recycling in El Salvador of US threats when Salvadorans voted in 2004. But there has been no high-level response from the Obama Administration, Rep. Grijalva told Democracy Now! yesterday.
But right-wing Republicans in Congress have not been quiet. Upside Down News reports:
President Obama wants, quite reasonably, to "reset" relations with Russia. He also said, quite reasonably, he would "go through the federal budget line by line, programs that don't work, we cut."
Our relations with Colombia also need to be reset. "Plan Colombia," which was supposedly going to cut the flow of Colombian cocaine into the U.S., doesn't work, neither to reduce the flow of illegal drugs, nor to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Colombia. Since Plan Colombia doesn't work, it should be cut.
An October report from the Government Accountability Office found that coca-leaf production in Colombia had increased by 15% and cocaine production had increased by 4% between 2000 and 2006, and recommended cutting funding. Plan Colombia has cost U.S. taxpayers over $6 billion.
We all know that President Obama has a lot on his plate. On the other hand, as candidate Obama reminded us, "words matter," especially the words spoken by the President of the United States, and with El Salvador facing a watershed Presidential election on March 15, President Obama could do a lot for the people of El Salvador and the future of U.S. relations with Latin America simply by saying something along the following lines between now and March 15:
"The United States government will remain neutral in El Salvador's March 15 presidential race, will respect the election results, and will work toward a positive relationship with whichever party is elected."
If you haven't been following the recent history of U.S. relations with Central America in general and El Salvador in particular, that might seem like a pretty banal statement. But in the context of the actual history of massive U.S. interference in the region's political processes, such a statement would be revolutionary.
Bolivarianism Triumphs in Referendum Vote
by Stephen Lendman
On February 15, Venezuelans voted on whether to let presidents, National Assembly representatives, governors, mayors, and state legislators run indefinitely for re-election after Chavez last December proposed a national referendum for constitutional change - so voters, not politicians could decide.
Sunday they spoke decisively in favor by a 54.4% to 45.6% margin with over 94% of votes counted. Chavez didn't win. Venezuelans did for Bolivarian continuity and against oligarch dominance, no democracy, and back to an impoverished state.
Since 1999, Chavez transformed Venezuela to what it is today:
- a Bolivarian republic based on "solidarity, fraternity, love, justice, liberty and equality" beyond the "free-market" model of worker exploitation for capital;
SAO PAULO -- General Motors plans to invest $1 billion in Brazil to avoid the kind of problems the U.S. automaker is facing in its home market, said the beleaguered car maker.
According to the president of GM Brazil-Mercosur, Jaime Ardila, the funding will come from the package of financial aid that the manufacturer will receive from the U.S. government and will be used to "complete the renovation of the line of products up to 2012."
"It wouldn't be logical to withdraw the investment from where we're growing, and our goal is to protect investments in emerging markets," he said in a statement published by the business daily Gazeta Mercantil.
Bashing Venezuelan Democracy
by Stephen Lendman
In November/December 2006, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting's (FAIR) Steve Rendall explained that "Hugo Chavez never had a chance with the US press." It's been a constant since his December 1998 election, and hasn't let up to this day, with language all too familiar:
Michael Munk reports: Media reports, which barely acknowledged this program when it began in 2004, seemed happy to claim that lower oil prices forced Venezuela to cancel it. For example, NYTimes' "Venezuela Suspends Heating Aid to the U.S" by the dedicated critic of Venezuela, Simon Romero, begins: "Venezuela’s national oil company is suspending a program that provides discounted heating oil to poor communities in the United States, as officials here struggle to find ways of preserving hard currency reserves amid a plunge in oil revenues."