Ecuador’s Rafael Correa: CELAC Should Replace OAS

Source: TeleSUR
January 20 2016

rafael correa in Macas.pngEcuadorean President Rafael Correa greets citizens in Macas, Ecuador, during a visit on Jan. 19, 2016. | Photo: Presidency of Ecuador

The Ecuadorean president argued that forcing Latin American countries to travel to Washington to settle disputes is an outdated model for the region.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said Wednesday that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, known as CELAC, should replace the Organization of American States as the regional integration mechanism for Latin America.

“Our perspective is that we hope that CELAC replace the OAS very soon,” said Correa during a press conference in the Presidential Palace in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito.

Correa reiterated his opinion that it is not appropriate that Latin American and Caribbean states have to travel to the OAS headquarters in Washington, instead of being able to settle disputes on their own turf.

IN DEPTH: CELAC: Building Regional Unity

The resurgence of right-wing politics

Correa also warned that the resurgence of right-wing politics in the region threatens to undermine the integration progress made in recent years.

“Experience has shown that beyond the ideological orientation of the government, integration is a common denominator,” said Correa, adding that the regional fight against poverty must continue to be a CELAC priority despite ideological differences between its members.

The president’s comments come ahead of the annual CELAC Summit, to be hosted in Ecuador next week at the UNASUR headquarters north of Quito.

Correa also announced plans to urge CELAC to support a U.N. initiative aimed at holding transnational corporations accountable for human rights abuses.

The proposed mechanism would be similar to the Hague International Court of Justice and act as a counterweight to the World Back investor-state arbitration that allows corporations to sue countries over policies that infringe on their future profits.

CELAC was founded in 2010 and is made up of 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Unlike the OAS, which was founded in 1948, CELAC does not include the U.S. and Canada.

Haiti Calls on CELAC to Oversee Presidential Runoff Election

Source:   TeleSUR
January 27 2016

Lener Renauld Haiti.pngHaiti Minister of Defense Lener Renauld has asked CELAC to send an electoral mission. | Photo: Twitter / El Telegrafo

Haiti has asked CELAC to help the country find a solution to its recent political crisis.

Haiti has called on the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States for help in ensuring its second round of presidential elections are free and transparent.

celac 4th summit logo.jpgSpeaking at the fourth summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, Haiti representative Lener Renauld asked the regional body to send a delegation made up of four representatives from member countries to assist with the electoral process.

Massive accusations of electoral fraud

Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, is facing political unrest due to massive accusations of electoral fraud during the first-round elections in October. The Provisional Electoral Council of Haiti recently cancelled the second round of presidential elections scheduled for Jan. 26 indefinitely due to security concerns as demonstrators burnt cars, barricaded roads and hurled rocks in protest of the alleged fraud.

RELATED: Haiti Cancels Elections Indefinitely

Haiti also asked for some technical assistance from the Organization of American States, despite criticisms from leaders such as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa that the organization works against Latin American integration.

However, the Venezuelan President Nicolas has extended support to Haiti, saying he hopes the Caribbean country can follow “ways of dialogue to resolve the huge conflict it has faced in recent days due to electoral disputes.”

Meanwhile, President Correa said he will send a mission that will collect as much information as they can in order to provide an objective position on the Caribbean nation’s conflict.

Haitians Protest Arrival of ‘Interfering’ OAS

Source:  TeleSUR
January 31 2016

haiti protest.jpg

Protesters march during a demonstration against the electoral process in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. | Photo: Reuters

Protesters argue that the interference of the OAS not only helps the president in his plans but they blame the organization for fomenting instability in Haiti.  Opposition presidential candidates say the visit will deepen the crisis instead of resolving it.

Thousands of protesters filled the streets of Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince once again Sunday against the arrival of the Organization of American States (OAS), which demonstrators say should not interfere with the country’s already contentious elections.

The term of President Michel Martelly ends Feb. 7, but after canceling elections last Sunday the Washington-based OAS have been called in to supervise the resolution of the political crisis.

The delegates are expected to discuss how to conduct the next round of elections which have been indefinitely postponed.

But opposition presidential candidates say the visit will deepen the crisis instead of resolving it.

According to the eight opposition presidential hopefuls, the OAS seek dialogue with those the organization considers to be the “principal social and political representatives” and not with the people in general, who demand electoral justice and a peaceful transition.

“Down with the OAS”

Furthermore, protesters argue that the interference of the OAS not only helps the president in his plans but they blame the organization for fomenting instability in Haiti.

A protester carrying a banner reading “Down with the OAS” told teleSUR. “Martelly had four years to do the elections, but he didn’t do them. He’s got the support of the international community, and he still didn’t do it. Now he has to call the OAS to bring a solution to the crisis. Us Haitians, we are going to find the solution.”

On Wednesday, OAS approved a resolution on sending a special mission to Haiti in order to moderate the ongoing conflict between the opposition and the government, one week before the president is due to leave office.

As the elections last Sunday were canceled at the last minute, current President Michel Martelly asked the Washington-based organization to send a mission in order to avoid a power vacuum and to “preserve democratic rule.”

RELATED: Haiti: 2 State Officials Leave Electoral Council Amid Protests

Martelly supported his request with the Inter American Democratic Charter, as article 17 states that when the “government of a member state considers that its democratic political institutional process or its legitimate exercise of power is at risk, it may request assistance from the Secretary General or the Permanent Council for the strengthening and preservation of its democratic system.”

Although the resolution was officially approved “by consensus” without a vote, during the four-hour debate Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Brazil and Honduras opposed the idea that the OAS made a decision that day, as most Latin American leaders were attending the CELAC Summit in Quito, Ecuador.

WATCH: Haitians Demand President’s Resignation as Elections Postponed Again

$1 Million of FIFA Funds Go Missing from Guatemala’s Fedefut

Source:  TeleSUR
January 30 2016

fifa logo 2.jpgGuatemalan soccer officials were among the world bosses who have been embroiled in the corruption scandal swirling around FIFA.

Almost US$1 million in FIFA soccer funds have apparently disappeared from Guatemala’s soccer federation in 2015 suggesting somebody pocketed the money, according to Reuters, exclusive sources and internal audit information reported Saturday.

fedefut guatemalaLast year, Guatemala’s soccer federation Fedefut received US$1.1 million in a series of nine installments from FIFA, Reuters reported after gaining access to Fedefut accounting documents. But Fedefut’s budget only showed US$250,000 in FIFA funding out of its total US$1.5 million budget at the beginning of 2015. The remainder of the funds were not reported.

Fedefut’s year-end spending report also excluded the remainder of the nine FIFA funding deposits. The general membership of the federation was also not made aware of the deposits.

Former Fedefut chief Jimenez arrested

Bryan  cFormer Fedefut chief Brayan Jimenez was arrested earlier this month after going on the run in December in connection with a bribery scandal.

Guatemalan soccer officials were among the world soccer bosses who have been embroiled in the massive corruption scandal swirling around FIFA. Fedefut head Brayan Jimenez (photo) and Secretary-General Hector Trujillo are accused of accepting a “six-digit bribe” to set up the television rights for the 2018 World Cup qualifying matches.

FIFA committee to oversee Fedefut

A FIFA committee was set up to oversee Fedefut after the local officials’ arrest. The FIFA committee conducted an internal audit and has filed a complaint to Guatemala’s Attorney General’s office over the irregular reporting and missing funds.

In the FIFA scandal that erupted last year, top officials and sports marketers have been charged with racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracies in a years-long scheme involving bribes of  hundreds of millions of dollars.

The findings of the FIFA probe into Fedefut’s reporting are set to be presented to a visiting FIFA official next week.

WATCH: Former FIFA VP Sent to Prison

Oh Haiti! 

 Oh Haiti!

by Michael Heslop

toussaint y dessalines c

Oh Haiti, why do vampires want to kill your fighting spirit?

Do they want you to stop fighting for your land seized by savages?

Oh Haiti, why do they leave you so often in darkness?

Do they not want your children to see their crimes against you?

Oh Haiti, why do they leave your children, those born and those waiting to be born without light?

Tell me Haiti, why do they suffer you so much beautiful Haiti?

Tell me Haiti, when will you free your cherished dignity from the boots of those who stifle your dreams?

Can someone tell me why?

Why do the vampires punish Haiti for so long?

When will Haiti make revolution again to erase its pains and misery?

When will Haiti’s dreams to live like the mighty nation it is be realized again?

Freedom’s fighting for power without knowing the hour to end Haiti’s pain,

Tell me…..someone please tell me….when will the land of Dessalines be free from the vultures?

Those with the blood and spirits of Haiti’s heroes never cease to fight the vultures sometimes in blood stained streets and alleys, too often in elections with known results favoring the merchants who sell Haiti’s soul to the vultures and sometimes with sincere prayers to their Gods trying to win their freedoms from long years of sufferings and indignities imposed by vultures,

Yet

The blood of their martyrs continue to flow and the vultures are still flying high and their servants are still selling Haiti cheap amidst greater oppression and outrage in this valiant land,

When will the children of Dessalines and L’ouverture embrace revolution again to give honor to their ancestors who defeated the mighty armies of slavery and slave masters in 1804?

When will the freedom loving people of Haiti learn the lessons of their ancestors and end the slavery of the vultures and their creole servants in high places?

Tell me……someone please tell me…..when will the oceans of blood of Haiti’s warriors be dignified?

Those who fight for freedom in Haiti will hug on to revolution as their only salvation like their ancestors did, when and only when, they refuse to be ruled by vultures and when vultures are unable to rule them anymore,

Then and only then will every single drop of the rivers of blood of Haiti’s martyrs and every single humiliation of its people be avenged,

Then and only then will Haiti’s dignity be restored to light the darkness of the vultures and their creole merchants!

 

 

 

GMO mosquitoes could be cause of Zika outbreak, critics say

Source:  RT.com
January 30 2016

The latest contagious virus freaking out the globe, particularly women worried about birth defects, may have been caused by the presence of genetically-modified mosquitoes (GMMs) in Brazil.

With international health experts convening in Geneva to discuss the outbreak of and possible cures for the Zika virus, questions are being raised as to whether the GMMs are to blame.

oxitecIn mid-2012, British biotech company Oxitec released the super bugs with the aim of reducing the overall mosquito population that spreads dengue fever, the Zika virus, and chikungunya in northeast Brazil.

 

Concerns raised about GMMs

At the time, concerns were raised about the release of GMMs without further studies into possible side effects.

helen wallace.jpg“It’s a very experimental approach which has not yet been successful and may cause more harm than good,” Dr Helen Wallace (photo), director of GeneWatch, told the Guardian in 2012.

The first cases of Zika in humans were reported in the south American country last May with up to 1.5 million people now thought to be affected by the virus, which Oxitec’s critics note is the same area where the GMMs were released.

Since the outbreak, there have been over 4,000 cases of babies born with microcephaly in Brazil, although various others causes can also be attributed to the rise.

The Aedes aegypti –  the very type Oxitec targeted with its GMMs

The Aedes aegypti mosquito sub-species that carries both the Zika virus and dengue is the very type Oxitec targeted with its GMMs.

The aim of Oxitec’s GM program was to release only male Aedes mosquitoes into the wild and they would in turn produce offspring with their virus carrying female counterparts.

This offspring would then die off before breeding age due to the GM coding in their genes, as long as the antibiotic tetracycline wasn’t present, which would override the GM DNA.

Sounds like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster.

Accidental or a deliberate plan

There is already a known survival rate of up to five percent in these GMMs regardless of the presence of tetracycline.

This antibiotic, which is often used to treat teenage acne, can be found in nature too, showing up in soil, surface water, and food, with some research stating that the GMM survival rate could potentially increase to 15 percent.

READ MORE: Genetically engineered mosquitoes battle Zika virus in Brazil

Oxitec critics also suggest that in the absence of studies into the potential knock-on effects of this in these mutated mosquitoes, it’s possible they could in fact thrive in the wild with unknown mutations taking place in GMMs, which in turn could worsen the spread the Zika virus.

Calls for further studies into GMMs prior to their release by Oxitec to answer such questions went unanswered, however.

While this Jurassic Park-type scenario could have been accidental, the recent UK TV series “Utopia” suggests it could be a deliberate plan to reduce the global population.

‘Justice, Not Charity’: The Poverty of Bill Gates’ Philanthropy

Source:  TeleSUR
January 29 2016

“Its strategy is deepening—and is intended to deepen—the role of multinational companies in global health and agriculture especially, even though these corporations are responsible for much of the poverty and injustice that already plagues the global south,” the report explained.

farmer works field.jpgA farmer works his field on the outskirts of Bangui.  | Photo: Reuters

teleSUR spoke with Global Justice Now’s Alex Scrivener about his group’s new report criticizing the Gates Foundation’s development agenda.

The world’s largest charity needs greater public scrutiny and to be subject to an independent review, a U.K.-based social justice group warned Friday.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has become so large that many “actors in international development” may no longer be capable of voicing criticism of the charity behemoth, according to a newly released report by Global Justice Now.

According to the report, the Gates Foundation’s sheer size and public influence “has not been matched with the corresponding accountability and scrutiny of the public that we have in aid programs run by governments.”

Programs are not subject to independent or public evaluation

“At present, the foundation is obliged to only report its high-level financial figures to the U.S. government and its programs are not subject to independent or public evaluation,” the report explained.

“When we examined the foundation’s grants database, we were amazed that they seem to want to fight hunger in the south by giving money to organizations in the north.”

Since being founded in 2000, the Gates Foundation has grown to hold over US$40 billion in assets, and in 2014 spent over US$3 billion on grants—roughly the same figure as the entire budget for the World Health Organization. In 2013, the foundation spent more on aid than entire countries like Canada and Belgium.

This massive expenditure means the Gates Foundation is “now bigger than the aid programs of most sovereign countries, but has few of the accountability mechanisms that you would expect from a state aid agency,” according to Alex Scrivener, policy officer for Global Justice Now.

“Our argument is that Gates’ influence over international development policy has become strong enough to be considered potentially problematic,” he told teleSUR.

Driven by a staunchly pro-market ideology

The Global Justice Now report argued the Gates Foundation isn’t just about charity, but is driven by a staunchly pro-market ideology. According to the report, an analysis of the Gates Foundation’s projects “shows that the foundation, whose senior staff is overwhelmingly drawn from corporate (U.S.), is promoting multinational corporate interests at the expense of social and economic justice.”

“Its strategy is deepening—and is intended to deepen—the role of multinational companies in global health and agriculture especially, even though these corporations are responsible for much of the poverty and injustice that already plagues the global south,” the report explained.

Combined with its massive size, the foundation’s fiercely pro-market ideology means alternative, non-corporate solutions to development issues and poverty are being sidelined across the world, according to the report’s conclusions.

Pushing for privatization of health and education services

According to Global Justice Now, the Gates Foundation’s “ongoing work significantly depends on the ongoing profitability of corporate (U.S.), something which is not easy to square with genuinely realizing social and economic justice in the global south.”

The report also alleged the Gates Foundation is “pushing for privatization of health and education services” in developing nations—a move that could benefit the private sector, but hurt low-income consumers.

“There is extensive evidence that the promotion of markets in health care leads to an increase in health inequities and inefficiencies. However, despite such evidence, the privatization of the health sector is being vigorously promoted by certain influential donors and corporations,” the report stated.

Global Justice Now isn’t the first to point out the Gates Foundation’s corporate focus. In 2009, the medical journal Lancet found less than 2 percent of the foundation’s grants went to public sector organizations between 1998 and 2007. The same article noted the overwhelming majority of grantees were organizations based in developed nations, with just 37 out of nearly 700 NGO grantees based out of developing or middle income nations.

In 2014, a separate report by agricultural research group Grain concluded the majority of Gates Foundation donations were spent in rich nations like the United States. According to Grain, most of this money was handed to agricultural researchers and promoters of high-tech farming, with just 10 percent of donations heading directly to the African continent.

Fighting hunger in the south by giving money to organizations in the north

At the time, Grain co-founder Henk Hobbelink told the U.K.’s The Guardian, “When we examined the foundation’s grants database, we were amazed that they seem to want to fight hunger in the south by giving money to organizations in the north.”

“The overwhelming majority of its funding goes to hi-tech scientific outfits, not to supporting the solutions that the farmers themselves are developing on the ground,” Hobbelink said.

At the time, the Gates Foundation dismissed Grain’s report as “deliberately misleading.”

Stunting the creation of new ways to address poverty and development

Speaking to teleSUR, Global Justice Now’s Scrivener said he didn’t doubt the Gates’ motives, but said their foundation could be stunting the creation of new ways to address poverty and development.

“I have no doubt that Bill and Melinda Gates genuinely believe that their approach will seriously combat world poverty. And some of their work probably is good … The problem is that their very particular ideological position is squeezing out what, in our opinion, would be more effective alternatives,” he said.

OPINION: Corporate Charity = Corporate Power

However, he emphasized ideology itself isn’t the problem.

“Ideology and charitable aims are not necessarily contradictory. It is perfectly possible to be either anything from a market fundamentalist to a communist and genuinely believe you are making the world a better place,” he explained.

Scrivener added, “The problem lies when a particular ideological viewpoint becomes so powerful that it actually undermines the supposed mission of ending poverty and cuts out alternative viewpoints.”

“In fact, we would say that charity is part of what we need to get away from when talking about global poverty. What we need is justice, not charity,” he said.