Washington’s “Two Track Policy” to Latin America: Marines to Central America and Diplomats to Cuba

Source:  Global Research
(Photos added by JSC)
James Petras (photo)
May 28, 2015

james petrasEveryone, from political pundits in Washington to the Pope in Rome, including most journalists in the mass media and in the alternative press, have focused on the US moves toward ending the economic blockade of Cuba and gradually opening diplomatic relations.  Talk is rife of a ‘major shift’ in US policy toward Latin America with the emphasis on diplomacy and reconciliation.  Even most progressive writers and journals have ceased writing about US imperialism.

However, there is mounting evidence that Washington’s negotiations with Cuba are merely one part of a two-track policy.  There is clearly a major US build-up in Latin America, with increasing reliance on ‘military platforms’, designed to launch direct military interventions in strategic countries.  

Moreover, US policymakers are actively involved in promoting ‘client’ opposition parties, movements and personalities to destabilize independent governments and are intent on re-imposing US domination.

In this essay we will start our discussion with the origins and unfolding of this ‘two track’ policy, its current manifestations, and projections into the future.  We will conclude by evaluating the possibilities of re-establishing US imperial domination in the region.

Origins of the Two Track Policy – JFK after the Cuban revolution

Washington’s pursuit of a ‘two-track policy’, based on combining ‘reformist policies’ toward some political formations, while working to overthrow other regimes and movements by force and military intervention, was practiced by the early Kennedy Administration following the Cuban revolution.

Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress

Kennedy announced a vast new economic program of aid, loans and investments – dubbed the ‘Alliance for Progress’ – to promote development and social reform in Latin American countries willing to align with the US.

jfk's alliance for progress

Venezuelan President Rómulo Betancourt and U.S. President John F. Kennedy at La Morita, Venezuela, during an official meeting for the Alliance for Progress in 1961

kennedy's green beretsAt the same time the Kennedy regime escalated US military aid and joint exercises in the region. Kennedy sponsored a large contingent of Special Forces – ‘Green Berets’ – to engage in counter-insurgency warfare.  The ‘Alliance for Progress’ was designed to counter the mass appeal of the social-revolutionary changes underway in Cuba with its own program of ‘social reform’.  While Kennedy promoted watered-down reforms in Latin America, he launched the ‘secret’ CIA (‘Bay of Pigs’) invasion of Cuba in 1961 and naval blockade in 1962 (the so-called ‘missile crises’).  The two-track policy ended up sacrificing social reforms and strengthening military repression.

‘Two-tracks’ became one – force

U.S. incursion in Dominican Republic, 1965By the mid-1970’s the ‘two-tracks’ became one – force.  The US invaded the Dominican Republic in 1965. It backed a series of military coups throughout the region, effectively isolating Cuba.  As a result, Latin America’s labor force experienced nearly a quarter century of declining living standards.

A shift to highly controlled electoral politics

By the 1980’s US client-dictators had lost their usefulness and Washington once again took up a dual strategy: On one track, the White House wholeheartedly backed their military-client rulers’ neo-liberal agenda and sponsored them as junior partners in Washington’s regional hegemony.  On the other track, they promoted a shift to highly controlled electoral politics, which they described as a ‘democratic transition’, in order to ‘decompress’ mass social pressures against its military clients.  Washington secured the introduction of elections and promoted client politicians willing to continue the neo-liberal socio-economic framework established by the military regimes.

An explosion of mass social discontent and the rise of center-left governments

progressive latam leaders 2By the turn of the new century, the cumulative grievances of thirty years of repressive rule, regressive neo-liberal socio-economic policies and the denationalization and privatization of the national patrimony had caused an explosion of mass social discontent.  This led to the overthrow and electoral defeat of Washington’s neo-liberal client regimes.

Throughout most of Latin America, mass movements were demanding a break with US-centered ‘integration’ programs.  Overt anti-imperialism grew and intensified.  The period saw the emergence of numerous center-left governments in Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Honduras and Nicaragua.  Beyond the regime changes , world economic forces had altered: growing Asian markets, their demand for Latin American raw materials and the global rise of commodity prices helped to stimulate the development of Latin American-centered regional organizations – outside of Washington’s control.

Destabilization of the new governments in Latin America

usaid 1Washington was still embedded in  its 25 year ‘single-track’ policy of backing civil-military authoritarian and imposing neo-liberal policies and was unable to respond and present a reform alternative to the anti-imperialist, center-left challenge to its dominance.  Instead, Washington worked to reverse the new party – power configuration.  Its overseas agencies, the Agency for International Development (AID), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and embassies worked to destabilize the new governments in Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Paraguay and Honduras.  The US ‘single-track’ of intervention and destabilization failed throughout the first decade of the new century (with the exception of Honduras and Paraguay.

Washington remained politically isolated

In the end Washington remained politically isolated.  Its integration schemes were rejected.  Its market shares in Latin America declined. Washington not only lost its automatic majority in the Organization of American States (OAS), but it became a distinct minority.

Washington’s ‘single track’ policy of relying on the ‘stick’ and holding back on the ‘carrot’ was based on several considerations:  The Bush and Obama regimes were deeply influenced by the US’s twenty-five year domination of the region (1975-2000) and the notion that the uprisings and political changes in Latin America in the subsequent decade were ephemeral, vulnerable and easily reversed.  Moreover, Washington, accustomed to over a century of economic domination of markets, resources and labor, took for granted that its hegemony was unalterable.  The White House failed to recognize the power of China’s growing share of the Latin American market.  The State Department ignored the capacity of Latin American governments to integrate their markets and exclude the US.

PetroCaribe and ALBA

US State Department officials never moved beyond the discredited neo-liberal doctrine that they had successfully promoted in the 1990’s.  The White House failed to adopt a ‘reformist’ turn to counter the appeal of radical reformers like Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan President.  This was most evident in the Caribbean and the Andean countries where President Chavez launched his two ‘alliances for progress’:  ‘Petro-Caribe’ (Venezuela’s program of supplying cheap, heavily subsidized, fuel to poor Central American and Caribbean countries and heating oil to poor neighborhoods in the US) and ‘ALBA’ (Chavez’ political-economic union of Andean states, plus Cuba and
chavez y albaNicaragua, designed to promote regional political solidarity and economic ties.)  Both programs were heavily financed by Caracas.  Washington failed to come up with a successful alternative plan.

US-backed coup in Honduras

Unable to win diplomatically or in the ‘battle of  ideas’, Washington resorted to the ‘big stick’ and sought to disrupt Venezuela’s regional economic program rather than compete with Chavez’ generous and beneficial aid packages.  The US’ ‘spoiler tactics’ backfired:  In 2009, the Obama regime backed a military coup in Honduras, ousting the elected liberal reformist President Zelaya and installed a bloody tyrant, a throwback to the 1970s when the US backed Chilean coup brought General Pinochet to power.  Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, in an act of pure political buffoonery, refused to call Zelaya’s violent ouster a coup and moved swiftly to recognize the dictatorship. No other government backed the US in its Honduras policy. There was universal condemnation of the coup, highlighting Washington’s isolation.

US isolated in Latin America

Repeatedly, Washington tried to use its ‘hegemonic card’ but it was roundly outvoted at regional meetings.  At the Summit of the Americas in 2010, Latin American countries overrode US objections and voted to invite Cuba to its next meeting, defying a 50-year old US veto.  The US was left alone in its opposition.

The decade-long commodity boom; avoiding the debt-trap

The position of Washington was further weakened by the decade-long commodity boom (spurred by China’s voracious demand for agro-mineral products).  The ‘mega-cycle’ undermined US Treasury and State Department’s anticipation of a price collapse.  In previous cycles, commodity ‘busts’ had forced center-left governments to run to the US controlled International Monetary Fund (IMF) for highly conditioned balance of payment loans, which the White House used to impose its neo-liberal policies and political dominance.  The ‘mega-cycle’ generated rising revenues and incomes.  This gave the center-left governments enormous leverage to avoid the ‘debt traps’ and to marginalize the IMF.

First Ministerial Meeting Of China-CELAC ForumDecreasing poverty and unemployment

This virtually eliminated US-imposed conditionality and allowed Latin governments to pursue populist-nationalist policies.  These policies decreased poverty and unemployment.  Washington played the ‘crisis card’ and lost.  Nevertheless Washington continued working with extreme right-wing opposition groups to destabilize the progressive governments, in the hope that ‘come the crash’, Washington’s proxies would ‘waltz right in’ and take over.

The Re-Introduction of the ‘Two Track’ Policy

raul y obama panama 2015 1After a decade and a half of hard knocks, repeated failures of its ‘big stick’ policies, rejection of US-centered integration schemes and multiple resounding defeats of its client-politicians at the ballot box, Washington finally began to ‘rethink’ its ‘one track’ policy and tentatively explore a limited ‘two track’ approach.

The ‘two-tracks’, however, encompass polarities clearly marked by the recent past.  While the Obama regime opened negotiations and moved toward establishing relations with Cuba, it escalated the military threats toward Venezuela by absurdly labeling Caracas as a ‘national security threat to the US.’

Washington had woken up to the fact that its bellicose policy toward Cuba had been universally rejected and had left the US isolated from Latin America.

The Obama regime decided to claim some ‘reformist credentials’ by showcasing its opening to Cuba.  The ‘opening to Cuba’ is really part of a wider policy of a more active political intervention in Latin America.  Washington will take full advantage of the increased vulnerability of the center-left governments as the commodity mega-cycle comes to an end and prices collapse.  Washington applauds the fiscal austerity program pursued by Dilma Rousseff’s regime in Brazil.  It wholeheartedly backs newly elected Tabaré Vázquez’s “Broad Front” regime in Uruguay with its free market policies and structural adjustment.  It publicly supports Chilean President Bachelet’s recent appointment of center-right, Christian Democrats to Cabinet posts to accommodate big business.

An ‘opening’ for Washington to pursue a ‘dual track’ policy

These changes within Latin America provide an ‘opening’ for Washington to pursue a ‘dual track’ policy:  On the one hand Washington is increasing political and economic pressure and intensifying its propaganda campaign against ‘state interventionist’ policies and regimes in the immediate period.  On the other hand, the Pentagon is intensifying and escalating  its presence in Central America and its immediate vicinity.  The goal is ultimately to regain leverage over the military command in the rest of the South American continent.

280 US marines sent to Central America without any specific mission or pretext

The Miami Herald (5/10/15) reported that the Obama Administration had sent 280 US marines to Central America without any specific mission or pretext.  Coming so soon after the Summit of the Americas in Panama (April 10 -11, 2015), this action has great symbolic importance.  While the presence of Cuba at the Summit may have been hailed as a diplomatic victory for  reconciliation within the Americas, the dispatch of hundreds of US marines to Central America suggests another scenario in the making.

Ironically, at the Summit meeting, the Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), former Colombian president (1994-98) Ernesto Samper, called for the US to remove all its military bases from Latin America, including Guantanamo:  “A good point in the new agenda of relations in Latin America would be the elimination of the US military bases”.

A return to more robust US military intervention

The point of the US ‘opening’ to Cuba is precisely to signal its greater involvement in Latin America, one that includes a return to more robust US military intervention.  The strategic intent is to restore neo-liberal client regimes, by ballots or bullets.

Conclusion

Washington’s current adoption of a two-track policy is a ‘cheap version’ of the John F. Kennedy policy of combining the ‘Alliance for Progress’ with the ‘Green Berets’.  However, Obama offers little in the way of financial support for modernization and reform to complement his drive to restore neo-liberal dominance.

After a decade and a half of political retreat, diplomatic isolation and relative loss of military leverage, the Obama regime has taken over six years to recognize the depth of its isolation.  When Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta Jacobson, claimed she was ‘surprised and disappointed’ when every Latin American country opposed Obama’s claim that Venezuela represented a ‘national security threat to the United States’, she exposed just how ignorant and out-of-touch the State Department has become with regard to Washington’s capacity to influence Latin America in support of its imperial agenda of intervention.

Destabilization campaign against Venezuela.

With the decline and retreat of the center-left, the Obama regime has been eager to exploit the two-track strategy.  As long as the FARC-President Santos peace talks in Colombia advance, Washington is likely to recalibrate its military presence in Colombia to emphasize its destabilization campaign against Venezuela.  The State Department will increase diplomatic overtures to Bolivia.  The National Endowment for Democracy will intensify its intervention in this year’s Argentine elections.

Varied and changing circumstances dictate flexible tactics.  Hovering over Washington’s tactical shifts is an ominous strategic outlook directed toward increasing military leverage.  As the peace negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas advance toward an accord, the pretext for maintaining seven US military bases and several thousand US military and Special Forces troops diminishes.  However, Colombian President Santos has given no indication that a ‘peace agreement’ would be conditioned on the withdrawal of US troops or closing of its bases.

US Southern Command would retain a vital military platform and infrastructure

In other words, the US Southern Command would retain a vital military platform and infrastructure capable of launching attacks against Venezuela, Ecuador, Central America and the Caribbean. With military bases throughout the region, in Colombia, Cuba (Guantanamo), Honduras (Soto Cano in Palmerola), Curacao, Aruba and Peru, Washington can quickly mobilize interventionary forces.  Military ties with the armed forces of Uruguay, Paraguay, and Chile ensure continued joint exercises and close co-ordination of so-called ‘security’ policies in the ‘Southern Cone’ of Latin America.  This strategy is specifically designed to prepare for internal repression against popular movements, whenever and wherever class struggle intensifies in Latin America.  The two-track policy, in force today, plays out through political-diplomatic and military strategies.

Washington pursues a policy of political, diplomatic and economic intervention and pressure

In the immediate period throughout most of the region, Washington pursues a policy of political, diplomatic and economic intervention and pressure.  The White House is counting on the ‘right-wing swing’ of former center-left governments to facilitate the return to power of unabashedly neo-liberal client-regimes in future elections. This is especially true with regard to Brazil and Argentina.

The ‘political-diplomatic track’ is evident in Washington’s moves to re-establish relations with Bolivia and to strengthen allies elsewhere in order to leverage favorable policies in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Cuba.  Washington proposes to offer diplomatic and trade agreements in exchange for a ‘toning down’ of anti-imperialist criticism and weakening the ‘Chavez-era’ programs of regional integration.

Domestic terrorist sabotage of the power grid and food distribution system

The ‘two-track approach’, as applied to Venezuela, has a more overt military component than elsewhere.  Washington will continue to subsidize violent paramilitary border crossings from Colombia.  It will continue to encourage domestic terrorist sabotage of the power grid and food distribution system.  The strategic goal is to erode the electoral base of the Maduro government, in preparation for the legislative elections in the fall of 2015.  When it comes to Venezuela, Washington is pursuing a ‘four step’ strategy:

  • Indirect violent intervention to erode the electoral support of the government
  • Large-scale financing of the electoral campaign of the legislative opposition to secure a majority in Congress
  • A massive media campaign in favor of a Congressional vote for a referendum impeaching the President
  • A large-scale financial, political and media campaign to secure a majority vote for impeachment by referendum.

The Pentagon would prepare a rapid military intervention

In the likelihood of a close vote, the Pentagon would prepare a rapid military intervention with its domestic collaborators – seeking a ‘Honduras-style’ overthrow of Maduro.

The strategic and tactical weakness of the two-track policy is the absence of any sustained and comprehensive economic aid, trade and investment program that would attract and hold middle class voters.  Washington is counting more on the negative effects of the crisis to restore its neo-liberal clients.  The problem with this approach is that the pro-US forces can only promise a return to orthodox austerity programs, reversing social and public welfare programs , while making large-scale economic concessions to major foreign investors and bankers.  The implementation of such regressive programs are going to ignite and intensify class, community-based and ethnic conflicts.

Why and where the US strategic military build-up comes into play

The ‘electoral transition’ strategy of the US is a temporary expedient, in light of the highly unpopular economic policies, which it would surely implement.  The complete absence of any substantial US socio-economic aid to cushion the adverse effects on working families means that the US client-electoral victories will not last long.  That is why and where the US strategic military build-up comes into play:  The success of track-one, the pursuit of political-diplomatic tactics, will inevitably polarize Latin American society and heighten prospects for class struggle.  Washington hopes that it will have its political-military client-allies ready to respond with violent repression.  Direct intervention and heightened domestic repression will come into play to secure US dominance.

The ‘two-track strategy’ will, once again, evolve into a ‘one-track strategy’ designed to return Latin America as a satellite region, ripe for pillage by extractive multi-nationals and financial speculators.

As we have seen over the past decade and a half, ‘one-track policies’ lead to social upheavals.  And the next time around the results may go far beyond progressive center-left regimes toward truly social-revolutionary governments!

Epilogue

US empire-builders have clearly demonstrated throughout the world their inability to intervene and produce stable, prosperous and productive client states (Iraq and Libya are prime examples). There is no reason to believe, even if the US ‘two-track policy’ leads to temporary electoral victories, that Washington’s efforts to restore dominance will succeed in Latin America, least of all because its strategy lacks any mechanism for economic aid and social reforms that could maintain a pro-US elite in power.  For example, how could the US possibly offset China’s $50 billion aid package to Brazil – except through violence and repression.

It is important to analyze how the rise of China, Russia, strong  regional markets and new centers of finance have severely weakened the efforts by client regimes to realign with the US.  Military coups and free markets are no longer guaranteed formulas for success in Latin America: Their past failures are too recent to forget.

Finally the ‘financialization’ of the US economy, what even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) describes as the negative impact of ‘too much finance’ (Financial Times 5/13/15, p 4), means that the US cannot allocate capital resources to develop productive activity in Latin America.  The imperial state can only serve as a violent debt collector for its banks in the context of large-scale unemployment.  Financial and extractive imperialism is a politico-economic cocktail for detonating social revolution on a continent-wide basis – far beyond the capacity of the US marines to prevent or suppress.

Source  Washington’s “Two Track Policy” to Latin America: Marines to Central America and Diplomats to Cuba  Global Research

Barbados: The “Old Colonial System” Is Still Choking Us!

Source:  Carib Flame

David ComissiongDavid Comissiong, President of the Clement Payne Movement /Photo: Carib Flame

Our nation will be celebrating 50 years of “Independence” next year, but there is overwhelming evidence that crucial components of the “Old Colonial System” are still very much alive and well in today’s Barbados ! And one particularly odious remnant is that aspect of the “Old Colonial System” that traditionally permitted elite white Barbadian businessmen to be granted and to enjoy preferential business and commercial arrangements that allowed them to feed on the substance of the Barbadian state and the mass of predominantly black taxpayers and consumers.

Barbados is still holding on to old colonial practices

The sad reality in today’s Barbados is that 49 years after achieving formal political Independence, the predominantly black Government of Barbados is still holding on to old colonial practices and granting amazingly preferential government contracts to elite white Barbadian businessmen– contracts that they would never dream of conferring upon black Barbadian business people!

But if you doubt my assertion, then let us examine in detail one example of this disturbing phenomenon that is at the core of the current public controversy swirling around the Private Waste Haulers and the Ministry of the Environment.

Read more at:  Carib Flame:  “The Old Colonial System” is choking us

Cuba finally removed from list of state sponsors of terrorism

The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signed the final order to rescind Cuba’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, effective today, May 29

Source:  Granma

May 29, 2015

Washington, May 29; a Press Statement by U.S. State Department spokesman, Jeff Rathke, informed of Cuba’s official removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

In the official statement, the State Department spokesman noted that “The 45-day Congressional pre-notification period has expired, and the Secretary of State has made the final decision to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, effective today, May 29, 2015.”

Cuba has been included on the unilateral list drawn up by Washington since 1982.

In the statement he also noted that “While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation.”

In order to come into effect, the decision must be published in the Federal Register (the daily newspaper of the Federal government), although the diplomatic office has assured that the decision is effective immediately.

Source:  Cuba removed from list of state sponsors of terrorism  Granma

Pele and Cosmos will arrive in Havana next Sunday

Football great Pele to join New York Cosmos on trip to Cuba

Source:  Cuban News Agency

May 28 2015

pele and dilma2Pele, the legendary Brazilian footballer who popularized the number 10 in the game, will join his former club, the New York Cosmos, as they become the first professional US soccer club to play on the island in 37 years.

The Cosmos will arrive in Havana on Sunday to face on Tuesday, June 2nd  the Cuban national team, which is training for the match on June 10 against Curacao for the CONCACAF qualifiers towards Russia 2018 World Cup and the Gold Cup in the United States (July).

russia 2018The Cuban Football Association have confirmed that the Cosmos line-up will include the internationally experienced Spanish striker Raul Gonzalez Blanco -one of the idols of Real Madrid- and Spanish-Brazilian midfielder Marco Senna.

“It’s the first time I go to Cuba and it is very exciting, because it will be a historic match for the Cosmos and me. I hope to repeat and that other US teams to play against squads from Cuba ” said the Spanish striker in a video released by the American side.

The Cosmos, now in the second division of US professional soccer, have scheduled the first match of an American professional sports team in Cuba since the December rapprochement between Cuba and the United States.

The Cosmos became a sensation in the 1970s when they signed Pele and other international stars to play in the North American Soccer League. The league folded in the 1980s and was re-established in late 2009 as the second tier of U.S. club football, below Major League Soccer (MLS).

Today’s Cosmos get their star power from former Real Madrid striker and Spain captain, Raul Gonzalez, 37.

Marco Senna2Pele, 74, whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, won three World Cups with Brazil, and was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee.

Sources:

Venezuela among 29 countries worldwide that has dramatically reduced hunger

Source:  Agencia Venezolana de Noticias

May 28 2015

FAO-emblem_enThere are currently 795 million hungry people in the world, according to figures from the latest report released Wednesday by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Program (WFP), which also shows that only 29 countries, among which is Venezuela, have met the target of halving the number of undernourished people for this 2015.

Although the percentage has fallen since 1992, 216 million fewer hungry people worldwide, according to latest edition of FAO’s annual hunger report, only “72 countries have achieved the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of chronically undernourished people.”

The report states that a group of 29 countries have met the goal laid out at the World Food Summit, held in 1996, which was to halve the number of undernourished people in each country before 2015, as Venezuela managed to do it.

FAO recognized Venezuela

In June 2013, in Rome, Italy, FAO recognized Venezuela for being, according to estimates by the organization, in the group of 15 countries (including Cuba, Nicaragua, Guyana, Peru, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil) that have made exceptional progress by reducing undernourishment from 13.5% in the period 1990-1992, to less than 5%, during the period 2010-2012.

UN awards Venezuela

June 2013: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, poses with FAO director Jose Graziano da Silva. The FAO, awarded Venezuela a special certificate for reducing hunger by half

In 2014, Food Mission also received recognition for being a social program that distributes food at fair prices in the 22,000 stores of the national public network.

The government has reiterated that it will continue to work to address the economic war in the country and ensure supply to all Venezuelans.

Venezuela to be recognized again next July

On May 16 the representative of FAO, Marcelo Resende, confirmed the progress that has taken the country’s food security and sovereignty, which is why President Nicolas Maduro will receive next July, in Rome another recognition for the Venezuelan progress in reducing hunger.

Source: Venezuela among 29 countries worldwide that has dramatically reduced hunger Agencia Venezolana de Noticias

Related articles:

Washington Wages War on International Soccer

Source:  Global Research

May 28, 2015

Is there more to what’s going on than meets the eye? In January 2011, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly MutkoSepp Blatter and Russian Sports minister Vitaly Mulko (photo) signed a declaration on Russia’s official status as 2018 World Cup host nation.

At the time, Vladimir Putin said Russia would “use the experience…already gained in preparing for the Sochi Olympics in 2014.”

Blatter expressed “certain(ty) that the World Cup (would) be held at the highest level and…turn into a truly magnificent event.”

After Russia won bid, influential US senators wrote Blatter 

Russia won out over Britain, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. It plans to host the event in 13 cities. It intends making it first-class world event.

In April, 13 US influential senators wrote Blatter “strongly encourag(ing)” him to replace Russia with another host country,” saying:

US concerned over bolstering the prestige of Putin’s government

“Allowing Russia to host the FIFA World Cup inappropriately bolsters the prestige of the Putin regime at a time when it should be condemned and provides economic relief at a time when much of the international community is imposing economic sanctions.”

FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer responded, saying:

“History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems.”

The World Cup “can achieve positive change in the world, but football cannot be seen as a solution for all issues, particularly those related to world politics.”

Blatter said “the World Cup in Russia will be able to stabilize all the situation in this region of Europe that is suffering now.”

A thinly veiled scheme against Russia?

Vladimir PutinIs charging 14 current and former FIFA officials with various criminal offenses a thinly veiled scheme to continue bashing and trying to isolate Russia?

Everything done so far failed. Master chess player Putin outmatches his US counterpart. However charges against current and former FIFA officials are resolved, expect Russia to remain 2018 World Cup nation likely matching its successful 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Palestinian Football Association want Israel suspended

Another issue is Israel. Palestinian officials want it suspended from FIFA participation because of systematically violating Palestinian footballer rights – including harassment, travel restrictions, lawless arrests, and other racist apartheid actions.

Last March, the Palestinian Football Federation (PFA) submitted a motion to FIFA calling for Israel’s suspension until it complies with the following conditions:

  • letting football participants and all equipment related to the sport  move freely in, out and within Palestine;
  • no longer obstruct or otherwise prevent the building and maintenance of Palestinian football facilities;
  • banning football clubs in illegal Israeli settlements from Israeli Football Federation (IFA) competitions;
  • requiring IFA to take firm action to eliminate racist, apartheid practices within its own leagues; and
  • requiring IFA to recognize the PFA as the sole governing body for football within Palestine.

These conditions address longstanding grievances – so far without resolution. Palestinian officials say suspending Israel is needed to change things.

Washington targets FIFA

Instead of going after war criminals, CIA and Pentagon torturers, banker mega-crooks, other corporate thieves, corrupt politicians on the take, dirty cops, and other major US offenders demanding prosecution, Washington targeted the Zurich, Switzerland-based International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) outside its jurisdiction.

It’s pressuring Swiss authorities to extradite FIFA officials to America to face criminal corruption charges.

The timing of the indictments and arrests wasn’t coincidental – two days before FIFA’s annual general meeting with its officials in one place at a luxury Zurich hotel.

Blatter is up for reelection. So far he’s not charged. According to US officials, he’s not cleared yet. Whether what’s ongoing affects his reelection remains to be seen.

A 47-count indictment charges 14  individuals with racketeering, bribery and more

A 47-count indictment charges 14  individuals with racketeering, bribery, wire fraud and money laundering among other offenses as part of “a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer,” according to the Justice Department.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said “(t)he indictment spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”

“Today’s action makes clear that this Department of Justice intends to end any such corrupt practices, to root out misconduct, and to bring wrongdoers to justice – and we look forward to continuing to work with other countries in this effort.”

America and Switzerland have an extradition treaty. A Swiss judge will decide what happens next. Even if extradition is ordered, individuals affected can appeal.

So-called “dual criminality” is a requirement many countries observe – namely that crimes alleged by one nation are recognized as such by the other before extradition can be considered.

The legal process in this case is expected to take months to work its way through Switzerland’s judicial process – maybe much longer if appeals are made.

Some earlier cases dragged on for years. If extradition is rejected, Washington would likely issue so-called “red notices” to authorities in other countries – meaning individuals charged would risk arrest and extradition to America if they travel abroad.

According to international law experts, Switzerland is one of the world’s toughest places to win extradition cases – especially on tax related charges.

Some high-profile individuals successfully contested US extradition requests – notably film director Roman Polanski.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry responded sharply to Washington’s indictments – saying it extended its legal authority improperly “far beyond its borders.”

Illegal extraterritorial use of US law

“Without going into the details of the accusations…this is clearly another case of illegal extraterritorial use of US law.”

“We hope that this will not in any way be used to cast a shadow on the international football organization as a whole and its decisions.”

“Once again we are calling on Washington to stop attempts to make justice far beyond its borders using its legal norms and to follow the generally accepted international legal procedures.”

Putin called FIFA indictments “an obvious attempt to spread (US) jurisdiction to other states (and) prevent Mr. Blatter’s reelection…which is a gross violation of the principle of functioning international organizations.”

“(T)he United States has no relation to” FIFA affairs. The individuals charged “are not US citizens, and if some event has taken place, it happened not on US soil…”

FIFA and Olympic competition are more about profiteering, exploitation and corruption than sport. Yet little is done to change things.

So why now? Why target FIFA – especially at this time? Draw your own conclusions.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. 

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Source:  Washington Wages War on International Soccer  Global Research

Related articles:

Serbian President concludes visit, fulfills dream of meeting Fidel

Source:  Granma

President Nikolic awarded Fidel the Order of the Republic of Serbia. The visiting President reported that upon receiving the honorary sash, Fidel commented that he would treasure it always.

On the afternoon of May 20, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution received the honorable Tomislav Nikolić, President of Serbia, who was making an official visit to the country.

Fidel y tomislav nikolic serbian president 1During the fraternal meeting, the distinguished guest presented Fidel with an honorary medal and sash awarded by the Republic of Serbia in a decoration decree citing Fidel’s extraordinary efforts to develop and strengthen relations between Cuba and Serbia.

According to Serbia’s official gazette, Fidel received the decoration in recognition of “his exceptional merits in developing and strengthening the relationship of friendship and cooperation shared by the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Cuba.”

Fidel y tomislav nikolic serbian president 4President Nikolic reported that upon receiving the honorary sash, Fidel commented that he would treasure it always.

In a lively conversation, Fidel and Nikolić recalled the historic ties shared by the two countries, and discussed other issues on the international agenda.

fidel y tito

Fidel and Yugoslavian President Tito

At the conclusion of the encounter, Fidel thanked the Serbian President for the decoration and the amicable conversation.

Fidel y tomislav nikolic serbian president 5

Nikolic:  A fantastic visit, I have fulfilled my dream 

“It has been a fantastic visit. I’ve been with my friends, with the people, who like the Serbian, know how to appreciate their freedom,” said Tomislav Nikolic, as his official visit came to an end.  “I have fulfilled my dream of meeting Comandante Fidel.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Rogelio Sierra bid the distinguished guest farewell at Havana’s José Martí International Airport.

Sources: