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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.
It's been a month since Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was deposed in a military coup. Negotiations on restoring democracy supported by the United States broke down when the coup regime refused to accept a compromise that would allow President Zelaya to return.
The Obama Administration still says it is working for President Zelaya's return, but so far it has not responded to the call from Hondurans for increased U.S. pressure on the coup regime.
Indeed, when President Zelaya tried to increase pressure on the coup regime by threatening to return to Honduras without an agreement, Secretary of State Clinton attacked President Zelaya as "reckless," instead of expressing any concern about repression by the coup regime against President Zelaya's supporters.
National Exclusive...Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, Wife of Ousted Honduran President, Calls on US to Aid Her Husband's Return Home: "We Want Justice, We Want Peace, We Demand the Return to Democracy"
After a failed attempt to return to Honduras over the weekend, ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has complained that US condemnation of the coup against him is waning. Zelaya had tried to cross back into Honduras from Nicaragua on Friday but stayed for less than an hour. We speak with the wife of the ousted Honduran president, First Lady Xiomara Castro de Zelaya. She's spent the past day trying to get to the border with Nicaragua, and she joins us now from the town of Jacaleapa.
Honduran Coup Leader, General Velasquez in Miami THIS Saturday, July 25
Jeff Nall wrote:
Dear fellow activists,
I have just received an email from Just Foreign Policy indicating that General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, the military leader of the coup in Honduras, is scheduled to be in MIAMI THIS SATURDAY, JULY 25th, at the Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach, FL 33139.
Velasquez is scheduled to speak between 9:45am and 10:45am....after “Morning worship.”
By Robert Naiman
It seems too awful or too good to be true, depending on how you look
at it. But according to the web site of "MIGApartners," which I gather is some flavor of Christian organization, General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, the military leader of the coup in Honduras, is going to be in Miami on Saturday morning July 25th, between 9:45am-10:45am, at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
If it is true that General Vasquez is coming to Miami - is he already in the U.S.? - this raises a number of questions.
- this guy is welcome in the U.S.?
- could he not be detained by U.S. authorities?
- how will he be welcomed by the good citizens of Miami?
By Bruce Barnard, Journal of Commerce Online
ITF calls for boycott to protest military coup, flags of convenience
The International Transport Workers Federation called for a worldwide boycott of Honduran-flag merchant ships to protest the military coup in the Central American nation.
London-based ITF said its call for action “is likely to affect the loading and unloading of the 650 ships flying the Honduran flag.”
The ITF called on its 656 member unions to take “peaceful” and “lawful” measures to put pressure on Honduras’s military government, which deposed President Manuel Zelaya in a coup on June 28.
“We have to put real pressure on the Honduran military to allow the country to revert to democracy,” ITF General Secretary David Cockroft said.
Resolution Against the U.S./U.N. Occupation of Haiti
Submitted to the National Antiwar Conference Held at La Roche College in Pittsburgh on July 10-12, 2009
Adopted unanimously by the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupation's national antiwar conference on July 11, 2009
Whereas, Haiti -- the first Black republic, has been subjected to foreign occupations throughout its history, including an almost continuous U.S. occupation since July 29, 1915; and
Whereas, the U.S. promoted two coup d'etats against the legitimately elected president of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide, first on September 30, 1991, and then on February 29, 2004; and
July 9 Update from Honduras Under the Coup
by Andres Conteris
The International Emergency Delegation co-sponsored by Nonviolence International and Code Pink with the participation of members of the National Lawyer's Guild, Global Exchange, Rights Action, School of the Americas Watch, Quixote Center, the Hemispheric Social Alliance has been present in Tegucigalpa since Tuesday, June 30, two days after the coup. Our work has involved bearing witness to the repression that the defacto regime has perpetrated against many facets of Honduran society. We were close by at the time that a military sharpshooter shot and killed an 18 year-old young man in a crowd of tens of thousands on July 5 at the airport when President Manuel Zelaya attempted to land in the airplane that sought to return him to his country.
We met with Nobel Peace Laureate, Rigoberta Menchu, and she asked us to support an effor to call upon civil society organizations and popular movements from around the hemisphere to come to Honduras and accompany those who have most suffered from the violent takeover of the democratically elected government of Manuel Zelaya. A report from the Guatemalan Delegation headed by Rigoberta Mechu which gives great details about the effects of the post coup repression in Honduras is available in Spanish and will soon be translated.
U.S. policy has taken some positive steps to pressure the defacto government, but the U.S. continues to have its ambassador present in Tegucigalpa which in some way gives credibility to the regime in power. On July 9, 20009, five members of the School of the Americas Watch, including the founder of SOAW Fr. Roy Bourgeois, held vigil at the U.S. Embassy to make the following demands:
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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."