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Obama Signs Military Basing Deal with Colombia -- Could Set Stage for Expeditionary Warfare
One of the principal concerns of the pending agreement had been the possibility of the bases’ use for aggression against neighboring countries.
By Moira Birss | AlterNet
After several months of secrecy and controversy, on October 30th the US and Colombia signed an agreement to allow the United States military extensive access to seven Colombian bases, notwithstanding serious concerns about true intentions and eventual consequences of the deal.
Despite pledges by Colombian and U.S. governments about the limitations of the agreement, the text of the deal and U.S. military documents contradict such assurances. One of the principal concerns raised by regional governments after news was leaked of the pending agreement had been the possibility of the bases’ use for aggressions against neighboring countries. In an interview Sunday with the Colombian daily El Tiempo, U.S. Ambassador to Colombia William Brownfield claimed that joint operations aren’t planned outside of Colombia, and that Article IV of the agreement expressly forbids such operations. In fact, a careful review of the text of the agreement, finally made public on November 3, reveals no such prohibition.
Not only that, but similar assurances by Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva that the agreement "has no geopolitical or strategic connotation, other than being more effective in the fight against drug trafficking" are even more hard to believe after reading a recently uncovered Pentagon budget document that expresses clear regional intentions for the Palanquero air base. The document describes the U.S. presence in Palanquero as an “opportunity for conducting full spectrum operations throughout South America,” and confirms the fears of Colombia’s neighbors when it discusses the possibility of using the base to confront the "threat" of what it calls "anti-U.S. governments." The most chilling phrase, however, is the discussion of the potential use of Palanquero to “expand expeditionary warfare capability.” Read more.
There is no way of overestimating the challenge that the emergence of ALBA and the overall reawakening of Latin America pose to the role that the U.S. arrogates to itself as lord of the entire Western Hemisphere. The almost two-century-old Monroe Doctrine exemplifies Washington's claim to exclusive influence over all of North, Central and South America and the Caribbean Basin and its self-claimed right to subordinate them to its own interests. Never before the election victories of anti-neoliberal forces throughout Latin America over the past eleven years has the prospect of a truly democratic, multipolar New World existed as it does now.
It is in response to those developments that the U.S. and its former colonialist allies in NATO are attempting to reassert their influence in the Americas south of the U.S. border.
November 28 will mark five months since the coup led by U.S.-trained commanders deposed the president of Honduras, the next day will see a mock election in the same nation designed to legitimize the junta of Roberto Micheletti, and the day following that will be a month since Washington signed an agreement with the Alvaro Uribe government in Colombia for the use of seven military bases in the country.
While intensifying a full-scale war in South Asia, continuing occupation missions in Iraq and the Balkans, maintaining warships off the coasts of Somalia and Lebanon, and deploying troops and conducting war games in most parts of the world, the United States and its NATO allies have not neglected Latin America.
Central and South America and the Caribbean are receiving a degree of attention from the U.S. and its partners not witnessed since the Cold War and in some ways are the targets of even more intense scrutiny and intervention.
Honduran Accord Solidifies Coup D'Etat Rule
By Stephen Lendman
On October 29, Honduran coup d'etat "president" Roberto Micheletti announced that:
"....a few minutes ago I authorized my negotiating team to sign a final agreement" to let Congress and the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) decide whether or not deposed President Manuel Zelaya may return to office and complete the remaining weeks of his term, expiring on January 27. If he does, will it matter?
Zelaya is a wealthy businessman, a member of the right-wing Liberal Party (PL), a former National Congress Deputy from 1985 - 1998, a former PL Minster for Investment, and president from January 27, 2006 to when he was deposed on June 28.
His 2005 presidential campaign was largely on a law-and-order platform with pledges that, if elected, he'd address Honduras' crime problem with more police programs against and reeducation ones for violent international and local street gang members.
Zelaya also joined Venezuela's Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA) based on fair, not one-sided "free" trade; complementarity, not competition; solidarity, not domination; cooperation, not exploitation; and respect for each nation's sovereign freedom from corporate control.
According to supporters like Alejandra Fernandez, a Honduran student, he also:
"raised the minimum wage, gave out free school lunches, provided milk for the babies and pensions for the elderly, distributed energy-saving light bulbs, decreased the price of public transportation, (and) made more scholarships available for students." In addition, he built roads and schools in rural areas. "That's why the elite classes can't stand him and why we want him back. This is really a class struggle." One the Resistance is determined to win and hardliners aim to crush.
House Resolution Designates Venezuela a State Sponsor of Terrorism
By Stephen Lendman
At a time of growing US poverty, hunger, homelessness, and despair, imperial wars without end, and the Obama administration even worse than its predecessor, Venezuela:
- is a model participatory democracy;
- holds free, fair and open elections;
- respects the rule of law, civil liberties, and human rights;
- doesn't intimidate its neighbors;
- uses its resources responsibly for the people;
- provides essential social services for the needy;
- champions judicial fairness and the rule of law;
- has a model free and open media;
- wages no foreign wars;
- doesn't torture or imprison its adversaries;
- conducts effective operations to halt illicit drugs trafficking;
- promotes global peace, solidarity, equality and social justice; and
- its only threat is its good example that shames its northern neighbor.
Honduran Human Rights Defender Bertha Oliva to Come to the November Vigil to Close the SOA in Georgia
SOA's Hendrik Voss wrote:
Honduran Human Rights Defender Bertha Oliva to Come to the November Vigil to Close the SOA in Georgia
We just talked with Human Rights Defender Bertha Oliva from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She is planning to come to the United States to stand with thousands and to speak out at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia during the November Vigil to close the SOA (November 10-22, 2009). She will bring the call for accountability and the anti-coup resistance to the place where the coup plotters received their training: the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC)!
Bertha wanted to relay her gratitude for all that people here are doing in solidarity with Honduras. We have kept her abreast of our efforts, and she senses the outpouring of solidarity, along with concrete actions.
She told us that, although she and everyone else are exhausted, and a few pounds lighter, that they are exhilarated at the energy and hope and spirit of the resistance movement. She feels so proud of her people at this moment.
I asked Bertha how we could be of help in addition to what we are doing. Her response was: Send concrete reports (photos, places, statements) about Honduran solidarity events that have taken place in the U.S. International solidarity is having a huge impact on Honduran society, and is putting pressure on the coup govt. By sending info about these expressions of solidarity throughout the U.S., you would make a huge contribution, according to Bertha. COFADEH's press team is very effective in getting things out widely there, as Father Roy and Lisa Sullivan have experienced in several visits, and they would get this info out. She mentioned several times that this would be very helpful.
Argentine Senate overwhelmingly approves media law
Argentine Senate approves law dismantling media monopolies, president to sign
by Mayra Pertossi, Associated Press Writer | Google News
Argentina's Senate overwhelmingly approved a law that will transform the nation's media landscape on Saturday, and President Cristina Fernandez quickly signed it into law.
Senators voted by a surprisingly high 44-24 margin for the law, celebrating the end of dictatorship-era rules that enabled a few companies to dominate Argentine media. Opponents say it instead gives the government too much power and will curtail freedom of speech.
The new law preserves two-thirds of the radio and TV spectrum for noncommercial stations, and requires channels to use more Argentine content. It also forces Grupo Clarin, the country's leading media company, to sell off many of its properties.
"The initiative is moderate and democratic," said Sen. Miguel Angel Pichetto, a ruling party leader, during nearly 20 hours of uninterrupted debate that ended Saturday morning. "It allows for companies to have an adequate position, but not a dominant one."
Opponents say the new law simply replaces a media oligopoly with a state monopoly — and will enable investors with close ties to the president and her husband, former president Nestor Kirchner, to snap up media properties at low prices in forced sales.
Outside Congress, thousands of supporters celebrated in the plaza with chants, applause, fireworks and booming drums. The demonstration was organized by government supporters and included political activist Maximo Kirchner, son of the first couple.
Ruling party Sen. Liliana Fellner said the law does away with a vestige of Argentina's 1976-83 military dictatorship.
"We are settling an old debt with democracy," she said. Read more.
By Cindy Sheehan
Today, a President of the largest violently military empire in the world, won the Nobel Peace Prize while his nation is mired in wars in three countries where his actions have oftentimes made things worse.
Let’s also make this clear that the Nobel prizes are supposed to be awarded for work done the previous year (2008), so that means Obama was awarded the prize for campaigning for the presidency of the USA, where his “vision” (platform) was consistently pro-more war. The nominations are also due by February 1st. Ten days after the inauguration and about a week after a drone in Pakistan killed over 3 dozen innocent people.
He was awarded the prize for his “vision” for a “nuclear free world.”
A U.S. senator and three congressmen plan to meet Friday with Honduras' interim leader in defiance of official Washington policy barring contact with the architects of the military coup that ousted the nation's president.
South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint intends to meet with interim President Roberto Micheletti as well as members of the Central American nation's Supreme Court, election officials and business and civic leaders during the fact-finding trip, said Wesley Denton, a spokesman for the senator.
The visit comes as President Barack Obama's administration seeks to isolate the interim government and use other forms of pressure — including suspending aid and canceling the visas of some members of the country's wealthy elite — in hopes of returning ousted President Manuel Zelaya to serve the remaining months of his term.
DeMint, one of a number of U.S. conservatives who have defended Zelaya's ouster on June 28 in Central America's first coup in more than a decade, supports the interim government plan to hold elections Nov. 29.
"The best solution to the crisis in Honduras is free and fair democratic elections that allow the Honduran people to decide their own future," DeMint said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press. Read more.
Chavez: Bush tried to kill me.
Hugo Chavez on Larry King Pt. 1
More "below the fold." Click "Read more."
Deposed President Manuel Zelaya defied threats of arrest and returned home to Honduras Monday, three months after he was forced into exile at gunpoint.
Seeking safety at the Brazilian Embassy, Zelaya called on his countrymen to come to the capital for peaceful protest.
"It is the moment of reconciliation," he said Monday during a televised speech that featured Zelaya's voice but not his image.
His surprise arrival sparked demonstrations in the streets outside the embassy as supporters, who have protested for months since his ouster, cheered his return.
"We are all happy, because he is the constitutional president of Honduras," teacher Alfredo Rodriguez Escobar told The Associated Press. Overhead a police helicopter hovered over the growing crowd.
The return sharply and suddenly escalates the country's political crisis — challenging the government installed by the coup to make good on its promise to arrest Zelaya and making him a polarizing figure for demonstrations — for and against _directly in the country's capital. Read more.
September 15 - Central American Independence Day; Neocolonialism Meets Resistance in Honduras
By Tom Loudon | Truthout | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
On the 80th day of the coup, both the de facto government and the resistance movement against the coup held marches to celebrate the anniversary of Central America's independence from Spain. At a military parade, de facto President Roberto Micheletti defiantly insisted that it would take a military intervention to remove him. Meanwhile, thousands of coup resisters, with elected President Manuel Zelaya's wife at the head, marched through the central park of Tegucigalpa, where last month police and military attacked peaceful protesters and passers-by. The massive resistance movement in Honduras continues to grow, denouncing the violent coup as an illegal takeover on the part of neocolonial economic and military interests.
The EU used the occasion of the anniversary to promise further sanctions if there was not a return to constitutional order. Secretary of State Clinton merely lamented "the turmoil and political differences that have ... divided Honduras."
During the month of August, the coup government of Honduras suffered a number of setbacks on the international level. First, was the release of an Amnesty International Report highlighting "serious human rights concerns which should be addressed as a matter of urgency." The report corroborated "increasingly disproportionate and excessive use of force being used by the police and military to repress legitimate and peaceful protests across the country." Read more.
Obama extends Cuba embargo 1 year
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has extended the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba for one year, the White House said in a statement released on Monday.
The extension was expected and has been the practice of all U.S. presidents dating to the 1970s under a section of the so-called "Trading With the Enemy Act."
Obama extended the embargo even though he has made reaching out to old U.S. foes a key plank in his foreign policy.
There have been signs of a possible thaw in U.S.-Cuban ties since Raul Castro early last year took over as president from his ailing brother Fidel. Fidel Castro had held the post since heading the revolution that ousted the U.S.-backed Batista regime on Jan. 1, 1959.
OpedNews Journalist and Protesters Charged With Criminal Conspiracy After Arrest At "Army Experience Center"
By Linda Milazzo
Philadelphia, PA, September 13, 2009: Six members of various anti-war groups, including World Can't Wait and Military Families Speak Out, and an OpedNews journalist, were arrested on Saturday, September 12, 2009, at approximately 3pm (ET) at a protest organized to shut down The Army Experience Center, located in Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, PA. They were released early Sunday morning and charged with Criminal Conspiracy and Failure To Disperse. Their arraignment is scheduled for September 23, 2009 at 11:30am (ET) at Philadelphia Municipal Court,1301 Filbert Street.
OpedNews Journalist and Six Protesters Arrested At "Army Experience Center" In Philadelphia (Updated 9/13/09)
By Linda Milazzo
UPDATED - 9/13/09: The six women, including OpedNews journalist Cheryl Biren, and one man, who has now been identified as Richard Marini of World Can't Wait, arrested yesterday at the Army Experience Center, were released early this morning, September 13, 2009. All were charged with Criminal Conspiracy and Failure to Disperse. Their arraignment is scheduled for September 23, 2009 at 11:30am (ET).
Philadelphia, PA, September 12, 2009: Six members of various anti-war groups, including World Can't Wait and Military Families Speak Out, and an OpedNews journalist, were arrested today at approximately 3:00pm (ET) at a protest organized to shut down The Army Experience Center, located in Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, PA.
Venezuela has agreed to export petrol to Iran, in a sign of closer ties between two of America's most vocal adversaries.
At the end of a two-day visit to Iran, President Hugo Chavez said Venezuela would supply 20,000 barrels of petrol a day to the country.
Iran is a major oil exporter but lacks domestic refining capability.
Iranian leaders expressed support for the Venezuelan socialist leader's anti-American policies.
Mr Chavez has been using Venezuela's oil wealth to counter US influence in Latin America and to boost ties with nations not friendly with Washington.
"Venezuela has agreed to export 20,000 barrels of petrol daily to Iran from October in a deal worth $800 millon (£485m)," he was quoted as saying by Iranian media.
He added: "This amount will be deposited in a fund established in Iran and will be used to finance purchase of machinery and technology from Iran." Read more.
The resistance to the military coup in Honduras has entered its 71st straight day of direct action in the streets of that country. Meanwhile, the United States Department of State still has yet to officially declare the events a 'military coup', an identification that would require, under US law, the cutting of all financial aid and diplomatic ties. For this reason and others, Manuel Zelaya came back to Washington to get additional commitments from Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. While Clinton did make some commitments on suspending more visas and not recognizing the upcoming elections in Honduras, the story of the US involvement in resolving the coup is still dominated by the support the US provides to the de facto regime. This was further deepened by the revelation that the International Monetary Fund, itself largely controlled by the US Treasury Department, has allocated $150 million to the coup government. Zelaya spoke to George Washington University about his view of Honduran democracy and why that led to his forced expulsion from his country.
Brazil Calls for Stronger U.S. Action on Honduras
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called U.S.
President Barack Obama on Friday, in a bid to ask for a
stronger U.S. action on the Honduran issue, local media
According to Lula, a less tolerant attitude from the
United States would not only facilitate the return of
ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to his position
but also contribute to improve the U.S. relations with
"The President said that this is not about the U.S.
interfering in Honduras," said Brazilian Foreign
Minister Celso Amorim.
However, according to Amorim, the United States are in
condition to put an adequate amount of pressure over the
new Honduran administration since the country's economy
is highly dependent on the United States, thus the U.S.
attitude may make a difference in the matter.
On Friday nearly 100 Latin America scholars and experts sent an open letter to Human Rights Watch urging HRW to speak up about human rights violations in Honduras under the coup regime and to conduct its own investigation of these abuses. The letters' signers include Honduras experts Dana Frank and Adrienne Pine, Latin America experts Eric Hershberg, John Womack, and Greg Grandin, and noted authors Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein.
There has been very little attention in the U.S. press to repression in Honduras under the coup regime. Hopefully, that will now change: Amnesty International issued a report today documenting "serious ill-treatment by police and military of peaceful protesters" in Honduras, warning that "beatings and mass arrests are being used as a way of punishing people for voicing their opposition" to the coup.
An Amnesty International delegation interviewed people who were detained after police and military broke up a peaceful demonstration July 30. Most detainees had injuries as a consequence of police beatings.
Esther Major, Central America researcher at Amnesty International, said:
Global Depression and Regional Wars - Reviewing James Petras' New Book: Part II
By Stephen Lendman
Part II continues Petras' analysis of the global depression, regional wars, and the decline of America's empire.
Obama's Latin American Policy
At all times under all administrations, policy, not rhetoric, defines priorities, and it's no different for Obama. With regards to Latin America and its people, he's been hostile and dismissive by:
- allocating half a billion dollars "in military and related aid" to aid the right wing Calderon regime and militarizing the US - Mexican border;
- on the pretext of fighting drugs trafficking and regional security, funding to Mexico and Colombia goes for military purposes; Colombia gets the most - billions under Plan Colombia; economic aid is ignored;
- beyond the timeline of Petras' book, Hugo Chavez and other regional leaders voiced concern over Washington's intention to supply Colombia with new weapons and technology, continued billions for the hardline "Uribe doctrine," and of greatest concern the plan to access seven new military bases - three airfields, two naval installations, and two army bases besides nine others currently stationing US forces all supplemented by the reactivated Fourth Fleet in April 2008;
- continuing US trade policies that have been devastating to regional farmers and peasants; likely new protectionist measures will hurt them more;
- practicing the same Bush anti-Latino immigrant policies with talk now about new legislation to harden them and establish a new bracero policy;
- targeting regional left of center regimes, including Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba; the latter's long-standing embargo remains in place despite some relaxed travel and other restrictions; and
- maintaining a three-fold regional strategy:
Religious and Grassroots Leaders Urge Clinton to Suspend Military Base Talks with Colombia Bases
deal “presents enormous dangers for entire hemisphere”
For Immediate Release
Over one hundred religious, national, community organizations and leaders and academics today called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to “suspend negotiations for expanded U.S. military access or operations in Colombia,” a plan that has generated a swell of protest among Latin American countries, including Colombia, the largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the hemisphere.
“It is rational for regional leaders to see the installation of several U.S. military sites in Colombia as a potential threat to their security,” the groups said, because of U.S. support for trans-border attacks from Colombia, reported violations of the expiring base agreement with Ecuador, a Pentagon statement that it seeks access for “contingency operations” in the region, and the painful history of U.S. military intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“To broaden relationships with South America and value respect for human rights, the United States should not create a fortress in Colombia in concert with the region’s worst rights violators, the Colombian military,” the letter said.
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
Global Depression and Regional Wars - Reviewing James Petras' New Book: Part I
By Stephen Lendman
James Petras is Binghamton University, New York Professor Emeritus of Sociology. Besides his long and distinguished academic career, he's a noted figure on the left, a well-respected Latin American expert, and a longtime chronicler of the region' popular struggles. He's also a prolific author of hundreds of articles and dozens of books, most recently his new one titled, "Global Depression and Regional Wars" addressing America, Latin America and the Middle East.
Part I - Global Depression
Variety's famous October 30, 1929 headline is again relevant: "Wall Street Lays an Egg," or as economist Rick Wolff puts it: "Capitalism hit the fan" following a familiar pattern of boom and bust cycles punctuated by bubbles that always burst. Petras explains it this way:
"All the idols of capitalism over the past three decades have crashed. The assumptions and presumptions, paradigms and prognosis of indefinite progress under liberal free market capitalism have been tested and have failed. We are living the end of an entire epoch (and bearing witness to) the collapse of the US and world financial system."
Grim prospects are ahead:
- a world depression with one-fourth of the labor force unemployed;
- global trade in free fall;
- a proliferation of bankruptcies with General Motors a metaphor for a decaying system;
- free-market capitalism in disrepute; and
- "planning, public ownership, nationalization(s and other) socialist alternatives have become almost respectable" because most sacred cow "truisms" and solutions have failed.
This week Representative Raul Grijalva and 15 other Democrats sent a letter to President Obama urging him to do more to reverse the coup in Honduras. Specifically, it urged him to speak up against human rights abuses under the coup regime: at least ten Hondurans have been killed since the coup (not 2, mainstream media.) The sixteen Democrats also urged Obama to cancel U.S. visas and freeze bank accounts of officials of the coup regime.
The good news is that Latin American criticism of the Obama Administration's failure to pressure the coup regime in Honduras has reached the level that Obama himself can no longer ignore it. The bad news is that Obama's response so far seems to be to stay the course: talk left, act right.
President Barack Obama said on Friday that he has no quick way to resolve the political crisis in Honduras, where supporters of a coup are refusing to let ousted President Manuel Zelaya return to power.
"I can't press a button and suddenly reinstate Mr. Zelaya," Obama said.
Will Venezuelan Destabilization Follow the Honduran Coup?
By Stephen Lendman
After ten and a half years in office, Hugo Chavez is very savvy about America's intentions. On January 17, even before Obama's inauguration, he said "Barack Obama has the 'stench' of his predecessor as US president and was at risk of being killed if he tries to change the American 'empire.' "
He added that frayed ties with Washington were unlikely to improve despite the departure of Bush, the man he called the 'devil.' Now there's a new "devil" with his fingerprints all over the June 28 Honduran coup. More on that below.
At a January political rally on a historic Venezuela battlefield, Chavez said "I hope I am wrong, but I believe Obama brings the same stench, to not say another word" and do little to change his predecessor's policies.
More than half a year after the departure of the George W. Bush administration the United States is embroiled in its largest combat operation since the second attack on Fallujah in November of 2004 and the most extensive and lengthy offensive in its nearly eight-year-old war in Afghanistan.
It has also announced plans to intensify its involvement in the 45-year counterinsurgency war in Colombia with deployments of 1,400 additional soldiers and contractors to five more military bases there.
Democracy Now! EXCLUSIVE: Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya Speaks from Nicaraguan Border on Who's Behind the Coup
Democracy Now! EXCLUSIVE: Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya Speaks from Nicaraguan Border on Who's Behind the Coup, His Attempts to Return Home, the Role of the United States and More *
In a Democracy Now! national broadcast exclusive, ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya joins us from the Nicaragua-Honduras border for a wide-ranging interview on his attempts to return home, who's behind the coup, the role of the United States, and much more. "I think the United States is going to lose a great deal of influence in Latin America if it does not turn the coup d'etat around," Zeleya says. "It will not be able to put forth its idea about democracy. It won't be credible before anyone." On his message to the Honduran people, Zelaya says they should "maintain their resistance against those who want to take their rights away so that no one will be able to disrespect them, which is what the coup regime is doing today."
November 20-22, 2009 - Converge on Fort Benning, Georgia
Mass Mobilization to Shut Down the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC)!
The military coup by SOA graduates in Honduras has once again exposed the destabilizing and deadly effects that the School of the Americas has on Latin America. The actions of the school's graduates are unmasking the Pentagon rhetoric and reveal the anti-democratic results of U.S. policies. It is time for a change towards justice.
From November 20-22, 2209, thousands will vigil at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, to stand up for justice, to shut down the School of the Americas and to end the oppressive U.S. foreign policy that the school represents.