Benin to the British: Return the artefacts stolen from us in 1897!

Source:  The Nation

December 22 2018

edofest benin.jpeg

The Edo State government has intensified call for the return of artefacts stolen from Benin Kingdom by the British colonialists in 1897, with an exhibition of photographs of the prized artworks and their locations in Europe and America. 

benin ivory mask

Unveiling the photographs inside a gallery at the palace of the Benin Monarch, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, in Benin City, at the ongoing Edo Festival of Arts and Culture (EDOFEST), Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Osazee Osemwegie-Ero, said that the state government would continue to advocate for the return of the stolen artefacts.

He explained that the state government chose the Edo Festival for Arts and Culture (EDOFEST) event to scale up the campaign, in order to reach more people with the message, adding that “the artefacts represent part of the Benin history.”

He noted that the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration has made provision for N500 million in the 2019 budget of the state, for the establishment of a Benin Royal Museum in collaboration with the Oba Palace, where the artefacts would be kept on return.

Prof. Greg Akenzua commended the organisers of the photo exhibition, and disclosed that the palace of the Benin Monarch, was working with 13 museums to establish the Benin Royal Museum in the state.He maintained that the call for the return of looted artefacts across the world was gaining traction, citing the French President, Emmanuel Macron, who has promised that his country would return some of the stolen artefacts to their original owners.

“We are working with 13 museums who have agreed to work with us in the establishment of the Royal Museum. We have set a timeline of three years to put the structures on ground,” Prof. Akensua added.

Dr. Lutz Mukke, a German journalist and academic, who took the photographs of the looted Benin artefacts, said the photographs were the result of his journalistic investigation into the looted Benin artefacts at different museums around the world.

He disclosed that up to 90 per cent of the important cultural artefacts were taken away from Africa, and suggested that a “new deal” between Africa and the Western world was needed to fast-track the return of the stolen artefacts.

He maintained the stolen Benin artefacts numbering 4,000 to 6,000 could be found in about 60 Western museums with the biggest collections in the British Museum in London, Ethnographical Collections in Berlin, Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York and Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

He also said that the German government has called on all public museums housing about 1000 looted Benin artefacts to return them.

“The photographs shown in the exhibition are from the museums in Boston and New York in the United States of America; Vienna in Austria; Stockholm in Sweden, Con Berlin, Dresden, Munich and Leipzig in Germany and London, United Kingdom.

“The artefacts are of course priceless as cultural heritage, but that does not mean we should forget their pure money value. The stolen Benin artefacts are estimated to be $1 billion” Mukke said

Africa: Return what was stolen from us! New Museum in Senegal drawing crowds

Source:  TeleSUR
December 26 2018

Nearly 50 years in the making, the four-story museum is displaying centuries of African culture and art stolen during the colonial era.

president macky sall cuts ribbon at inauguration of museum

The Museum of Black Civilization is drawing crowds to Dakar, Senegal as hundreds of artifacts return home for a long awaited exhibition.

Nearly 50 years in the making, the four-story museum is displaying centuries of African culture and art stolen during the colonial era.

museum of black civilization 4.jpg

“It’s so overwhelming, I don’t really understand it. Some of it’s familiar, some of it’s not, but it definitely grabs you by the gut,” museum visitor, Soucoumb Diallo, told Al Jazeera.

Keeping our culture

A 148,000 square-foot space of African pride filled with intricately carved masks, pottery, glasswork, carvings surrounded by colorful paintings from regional and Caribbean artists recall the continent’s place as the “cradle of humanity.”

kachireme.jpg“Kachireme” by Cuban artist Leandro Soto finds parallels between Nigerian
ancestral spirits and Native American beliefs

“Keeping our cultures is what has saved African people from attempts made at making of them soulless people without a history. And if culture does link people together, it also stimulates progress,” said President Macky Sall who attended the Museum’s opening ceremony

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Although Senegal’s first post-independence president, Leopold Sedar Senghor, (above) first conceived of a museum honoring black civilization almost half a century ago, its long-delayed completion thanks to an investment of US$34m (£27m) from China comes at a critical moment for African art.

Europe must return artifacts stolen in the colonial era

African governments are stepping up pressure on Western museums to return stolen artefacts following a French government report that urged mass restitutions of objects in France’s national museums that were seized during the colonial era.

Hundreds of thousands of artefacts – believed to represent some 90 percent of Africa’s cultural heritage – now populate exhibitions in European museums and private collections.

Besides Senegal, Nigeria and Benin are also opening new museums meant to serve in part as rejoinders to arguments by European museum directors that Africa lacks the facilities to care for the works.

“The Museum of Black Civilizations is part of a generation of museums that Africa is in the process of building … so that the continent and its diaspora … don’t cease defining their history,” said Ernesto Ramirez, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, at the ceremony in Dakar.

museum of black civilization 5

South Africa: Playing the Guitar During Brain Surgery

Source:  Cubasi
December 24 2018

 

South African jazz artist Musa Manzini has played his music all over the world, but one performance stands out – strumming his guitar while surgeons operated on his brain.

A video of the multi-instrumentalist and university lecturer taken during the six-hour surgery for a brain tumor, shows him lying on his back in the operating theater, surrounded by scrubbed-up medical staff, plucking the strings of his guitar.

This allowed doctors in the South African city of Durban to observe which areas of his brain Manzini used to play music, allowing them to preserve those areas and also restore some movement to his fingers, which were affected by the tumor.

“I felt very awkward and uncomfortable,” Manzini told Reuters a week after the operation. “Being in between general anesthesia and awake and hearing the sounds of a blow torch inside your brain…it’s very difficult to concentrate.”

Doctors opted to keep Manzini awake in order to assess which areas of his brain were functioning as the surgery went on, helping to reduce the risk of neurological damage.

“It was a success in that the biggest risk was paralysis. I’m not paralyzed, and I still have control of my limbs and thus in good spirits and recovering nicely,” he said.

Once fully recovered, Manzini intends to take to the stage again, he said.

US Uses Facebook to Spread Fake News About Cuba

Sources: desbloqueandocuba.com,  mltoday.com
August 12 2018

fakebook

While the United States is making a scandal about the supposed Russian intervention in social networks to influence the 2016 elections won by Donald Trump, today evidence has been uncovered that the US government is using Facebook to spread fake news about Cuba and clandestinely foment dissidence on the island.

The Florida weekly Miami New Times revealed Wednesday that it had access to documents from the government’s Office of Broadcasting to Cuba (OCB), run by Radio and TV Martí. It reveals that the Trump administration has been using Facebook accounts for two years that appear “native” (from real people on the island) to spread propaganda without informing Cuban Facebook users that it is government advertising.

According to the report obtained by the weekly , due to the failure of Radio and TV Martí,

the OCB’s strategy has focused on an offensive through social networks, based on metrics that place YouTube, Google and Facebook among the most visited sites in Cuba. With the use of AVRA (Audio and Video for Radio) technology, Radio Martí’s programs began to be broadcast through Facebook Live along with TV Marti’s programming. This provides OCB with additional efficient and cost-effective distribution output for both its radio (now visual radio) and TV content.

In fiscal year 2018, OCB has been establishing itself with digital island equipment (read “dissidents” paid for by the US) that creates native and “unbranded” Facebook accounts to disseminate information. Native “pages increase the chances of appearing in the news for Cuban Facebook users. The same strategy will be replicated in other preferred social networks.

Miami New Times says that the documents do not explain what federal agents mean by “unbranded” or “native” Facebook pages, but it is clear that they must resemble the pages of regular social network users to persuade Cubans to read propaganda from Radio and TV Martí

$ 800 million from the US taxpayer spent

According to the weekly, both governments broadcasters have spent more than $ 800 million from the US taxpayer over the years in their unsuccessful effort to influence Cuban public opinion.

This plan fits to a long history of attempting to use technology to fit propaganda against Cuba, says University of Pennsylvania professor John S. Nichols.

“There are certainly warning signs here,” says Nichols, co-author of Clandestine Radio Broadcasting: A Study of Revolutionary and Counterrevolutionary Electronic Communication (1987), about OCB’s efforts. “It is the latest plan in a long list of efforts by Radio and TV Martí and their predecessors to try to overcome the laws of physics …. Every time they fail to get their message to Cuba, they say there is a technological solution.

Instead, he adds, Congress “seems to fail to recognize that both stations are a colossal failure. It’s sad because they’re spending taxpayers’ money. But what’s really being wasted is our credibility as a great nation doing this kind of thing, dumb and stupid.

Prominent figures from both sides of the US political spectrum, including Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, have described these OCB programs as counter-productive and a waste of money. Democratic representative Betty McCollum liquidated the AeroMartí platform in 2015 (to transmit to Cuba the broadcasts of Radio and TV Martí) and said that the OCB was an “unnecessary” office.

Cold War artifacts

“Radio and television Martí are old-fashioned Cold War artifacts,” McCollum said in a statement in 2015. “Our taxpayers should not be funding propaganda broadcasts.”

But the programs continue to exist thanks to a handful of anti-Cuban lawmakers, including Miami representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a longtime promoter of Radio and TV Marti, says the Miami New Times.

Earlier this year, Senator Marco Rubio helped install Tomás Regalado, an old friend, as head of the Radio and TV Martí programs. Since then, Regalado has made great promises about how both stations have new plans to reach “5 million” Cuban citizens in the coming years. Regalado appeared last week on the Spanish-speaking MegaTV network to brag about the use of mysterious new technologies that the Cuban government supposedly can not block. He said that 200 Cubans had received receivers that would help in this new attempt.

“It’s a technology that did not exist, and since the government does not know about it, it will be almost impossible to block it,” Regalado told the cameras.

Nichols argued to the Florida weekly that this type of social media propaganda is damaging the US position in the world.

Here comes America again

“Third countries see what we are doing and say, ‘Here comes America again doing this nonsense,’ ‘and he adds,’ It’s low, petty and not worthy of great power. Other countries will say, ‘If the US is willing to violate international law, why should we obey our contract? And given what Radio Martí and TV Martí might be doing right now, we have a hard time complaining about what other countries might be doing against us.

The report that Miami New Times had access to is OCB’s budget request for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. It does not reveal the identities of fake “native” and “unbranded” accounts created on the social network, but Facebook administrators do know what they are . By these extravagant quirks in life, this information coincides with the decision of the social network founded by Marc Zuckerberg to eliminate hundreds of alleged false accounts of Russians and Iranians allegedly involved in several disinformation campaigns.

Will Facebook also eliminate the false accounts created by the US government for regime change in Cuba and will the US Attorney’s Office appoint Robert Mueller or another one of his ilk to investigate these abuses, as it has done to determine alleged Russian interference through Facebook in the 2016 elections?

Failed saga of Radio and TV Martí

  • 1985: Radio Martí began broadcasting, and five years later, the television aggression began when a television transmitter was put into service on board a captive aerostat at an altitude of 3,000 meters in one of the keys in the south of the state of Florida.
  • 2005: Hurricane Dennis disappeared the captive balloon located at 10,000 feet above sea level in Cudjoe Key, from where Television Martí was broadcast. The OCB replaced it with the AeroMartí platform.
  • 2014: OCB created the unwanted text messaging service Pyramid, which failed. Then it tried to smuggle small satellite devices into the island, but the project was aborted because in addition to being expensive, the “dissidents” used the terminals to view pornography.
  • 2015: Deactivation of “AeroMartí”.
  • 2018: President Trump created the Internet Task Force for Cuba, which according to the State Department “will examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding access to the Internet and independent media in Cuba. Clearly, this Task Force has promoted OCB’s digital fantasy.
  • Several investigations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have acknowledged that there is strong evidence that Radio and Television Martí is not heard or seen in Cuba. According to the Miami New Times, this saga has cost the American taxpayer more than $ 800 million.

The Obsession with and Lies about Nicaragua

Source: brianwilson.com
December 17 2018

daniel ortega y esposa 2.gifThe intense focus on the “ills” of Nicaragua completely misses the deep issues of continued US intervention – imperial neocolonialism – into the sovereign lives of other countries, as here with Nicaragua. Whether you love or hate Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, their personalities and personal lives are not the issue, whatsoever.

For US Americans to be so closely scrutinizing clearly the most progressive government in Central America, ignoring the new US friendly but unpopular president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado Quesada; the systematic violence in the streets of El Salvador which is directly related to the US funded death squad governments of the 1980s; the repressive and illegal President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez; and the repressive and corrupt government of Guatemala under President Jimmy Morales, is very interesting, and disturbing.

US-orchestrated coup attempt

The elaborate, well-planned conspiracy behind the April-July 2018 US-orchestrated coup attempt against Nicaragua, included most of the church hierarchy, many wealthy ex-Somocistas, many NGOs including the European-funded CENIDH, the NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and USAID, and a couple thousand young Nicaraguans trained over 4 years in the use of social media to blitzkrieg an agenda-loaded propaganda campaign when the right opportunity arose. It had been in the works since at least 2011 when Nicaraguan Felix Maradiaga teamed up with Colombian narco-trafficker Julio Cesar Paz Varela to develop a drug distribution network in Nicaragua, many of the proceeds of which were to be devoted to overthrow the Sandinista government.

Related:  US Government Admits It’s Making Fake Social Media Accounts to Spread Propaganda in Cuba

The facts are that the few NGOs (of over 4,000 NGOs in the country) who have recently been curtailed by the Nicaraguan government, are in this position because of their support of various criminal activities designed to overthrow the government. Their accountability to the law was long overdue. The same goes for several TV stations (funded largely by NED), the internet news outlet Confidencial (funded by the NED), and La Prensa (funded by NED) which have openly supported opposition “terrorist” activities (yes, that is correct), something that would never be tolerated in the US or in virtually any country. Many of the hundreds participating in dozens of murders, arsons, destruction of buildings, tortures, and destruction of equipment (including over 50 ambulances), etc., committed by Opposition members, are fortunately now on trial or in jail. Over 200 fugitives remain in Costa Rica.

US has no moral authority with 80000 prisoners in solitary confinement 

It is also ironical, that those people in the US who are so condemnatory of the Nicaraguan government, remain comfortably removed from the terror campaign, April-July, which was awful as I can attest as a resident, while I was forced to read and view, with rage and anger, the spew of scripted lies days after day on social media, and major media outlets, not based on any actual investigative reporting. Ironic, because the US is one of the most oligarchic, non-democratic countries on the planet, and its citizens possess no legal or moral authority to judge others. The US possesses the largest prison per capita population in the world, with 80,000 of prisoners in solitary confinement; it produces the most waste and pollution; it has military troops in 150 countries, and war  planes and ships everywhere; it is the wholesale terrorist force on the Planet; it has on average 3 citizens a day murdered by US police; it has a president who has been accused by over 15 women of sexual misconduct/assault, a president who lies multiple times each day; it is a country where student debt keeps graduates in a kind of servitude for life to the banks; it has thousands of homeless living in tents and abandoned cars in virtually every city; it is a country without accessible health care for millions of its citizens; etc. It has a political election process unreliable due to systematic voter suppression, gerrymandered Congressional districts every ten years, privatization of the voter counting process, while the process itself is literally owned by the millions and billions of dollars of the rich and mighty, headed by the military industrial complex that makes obscene profits on intervening everywhere.

Related:  Slavery in Libya: Thanks NATO

2009 US sanctioned coup of President Zelaya

So, Nicaragua is an easy center of focus. If any one of us, or any other Central American government, was subjected to the intense efforts to destroy us, or any country, then one can predict the likely consequences. Neighboring Honduras has not yet recovered from the 2009 US sanctioned coup of President Zelaya. The fear and the repression there is horrendous, but it seems that with those in the US, including in the government, nobody gives a shit? The NICA Act should be the HICA Act for Honduras instead of Nicaragua. But Honduras is a safe Cry Uncle government, despite the fact that the people live in constant fear.

And the idea of name calling people as usual is not helpful in the discussion. Catherine Cusic, who has called Camilo Mejia a liar, has called me several times as an idiot – then, in the past, and now.  Not too constructive for healthy debate.

Lies, lies, more lies

When will the issue of US imperialism be taken seriously, and a recognition that the US political economy is so destructive it is on a path to destroy the planet? And, yet, the most progressive country in Central America (where there really is NOT repression) – Nicaragua –  with no friends in the Senate or House of Representatives, very little support in the solidarity community, and only supported by the ALBA countries of Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia, is targeted for destruction. Lies, lies, more lies. Disgusting beyond disgusting. The truth as I have documented is virtually the exact opposite of what most social media and major media organs spew as if reading from a script.

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, is famous for saying that a lie told enough times becomes the truth. Goebbels principle has come once again to haunt Nicaragua. And the US govt. has spent millions of dollars through NED, US AID, NGOs, etc., at least since 2014, getting ready for the overthrow of a progressive government, primarily because it IS progressive compared to the other Central American governments. It is not a Cry Uncle government. And despite the lies, the Sandinista government remains popular with a majority of the people, similar to Assad in Syria despite intense western media propaganda against him.

Preposterous yet it is official US policy

So, Libya, The Ivory Coast, the Ukraine, Venezuela, Russia, and on and on, are touted as enemies, subject to the “exceptional” US to seek their overthrow to “correct” matters,  if they haven’t already succeeded. It is interesting that Trump’s fanatical security adviser, John Bolton, has identified the Troika of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua (and soon Bolivia) to be targets as threats to the national security of the US. So preposterous yet it is official US policy.

Related:  George H.W. Bush, Luis Posada Carriles, and the dirty war against Cuba

Astonishing, absurd, and criminal. So continue, folks, focusing on the issues you have with Ortega-Murillo, while the US continues on an uncontrolled imperial savagery. Meanwhile, feel smug with your support of “humanitarian intervention” by the most dangerous country on Earth.

Respect the Sovereignty of the People of Venezuela

Source:  mltoday.com
December 20 2018

By the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity, U.S. Chapter

Respect Venezuelan Sovereignty.jpg

The sixth presidential election in the contemporary history of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela took place on May 20. Nicolás Maduro Moros was elected Constitutional President of Venezuela who according to the Venezuelan Constitution will take office for a new presidential term on January 10, 2019.

The election took place in a climate of peace and tranquility with a participation of 46.02% of the total electoral voters, very similar to percentage in the US elections.

Candidates of different political party participated in the electoral contest, such as Henry Falcón, leader of the Advanced Progressive Party, and Javier Bertucci, leader of the El Cambio party, both opponents of the currently constituted government. It should be noted that of the total turnout 67.84% of voters cast their ballots for Frente Amplio de la Patria and its elected candidate Nicolás Maduro. This represents 6,245,862 valid votes. The opposition party with the next most votes was Henry Falcón who received only 20.93% of the votes, which represented 1,927,387 votes.

The electoral result and the democratic response of the Venezuelan people resulted in their decision to continue a path of democratic construction as their destiny.

During the last 5 years, different U.S. administrations have been implementing a sophisticated destabilization plan against Venezuela to overthrow a democratic elected government through an electoral system that even former U.S. President Jimmy Carter described as the best in the world.

The U.S. government’s attitude of regime change systematically violates the sovereignty and self-determination of the Venezuelan people.

In March 2015, under an Executive Order the U.S. Government declared Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” declaring a “national emergency in order to confront that threat. Another Executive Order in August 2017 requires the Treasury Department to implement “irreversible” sanctions against the Venezuelan economy and financial system, a set of unilateral coercive measures unacceptable under international law.

With these legal frameworks, the economic siege has been activated against the recovery plans of the Venezuelan economy, affected by the collapse in oil price beginning summer 2014.

Compounded by the economic blockade of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the backbone of the Venezuelan economy, the commercial and financial blockade is hitting hard the quality of life of the Venezuelan people. William Brownfield, former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela referring to the South America Country declared in October of this year that… “At this moment perhaps the best solution would be to accelerate the collapse, even if it produces a period of suffering to the population of months or perhaps years”.

Using the monopoly of media power, the United States is manipulating world public opinion by imposing the narrative matrix of a “humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela, thereby seeking to justify a military intervention disguised as “humanitarian intervention”. In September of this year, Trump openly told the media at the United Nations that when it comes to Venezuela, “all options are on the table….”

In 2016, the document “Venezuela Freedom-2 Operation” of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) signed by Commanding officer Admiral Kurt W. Tidd was published, where the plan for the implosion-collapse with a set of policies aimed at overthrowing the Venezuelan Government was outlined, using a broad-spectrum strategy where simultaneous, combined and continuous operations were developed in the period 2016-2018.

The United States and a group of governments obedient to the orders of the White House are preparing to ignore the legitimacy of the mandate conferred on President Nicolás Maduro Moros as of January 10.

Given this fact we call upon the people of the United States and the international community not to intervene, and to recognize and respect the sovereign will of the Venezuelan people, who continue to chart their own path of peace, guided by their inalienable right to self-determination and independence.

Ecuador: Social Movements Mobilize Against Economic Measures

Source:  TeleSUR
December 21 2018

ecuador social orgs mobilizeThe price of fuel in Ecuador is expected to rise by $0.37 per gallon with the
government’s new economic measures. | Photo: Reuters

Teachers, health professionals, and transport workers who make up the National Citizens’ Assembly, announced protests against the government’s new policies.

Social movements and unions such as the Ecuador’s Workers Unity Front (FUT) and the National Citizens’ Assembly have announced plans to protest against new measures announced by the government of Lenin Moreno, including a reduction in gasoline subsidies. One such demonstration is expected to take place next Thursday in Quito, the country’s capital.

RELATED: Ecuador: Government Announces More Neo-Liberal Policies

“We announce to the country the progressive start of mobilizations until the government of businessmen repeals the increase in the price of gasoline and eliminate all neoliberal economic policies that affect Ecuador, ” said Wilmer Santacruz, a representative of a teachers’ network.

On Tuesday, Moreno’s government announced new budgetary adjustment measures, such as a hike in gasoline prices for lesser octane fuels (Extra and Ecopais), the elimination of 25,000 public vacancies and a reduction in the salary of senior officials. This is the second hike in the prices of gasoline from the government of Lenin Moreno during 2018.

The decision came after the super gasoline subsidy was suspended. The price of gasoline was at US$1.48 per gallon. However, with the new economic measures, the new price will be US$1.85.

“By mandate of President Lenin Moreno we have decided to put an end to these types of absurdities, such as subsidies… that prevent us from continuing with social projects,” said the minister of finances Richard Martinez.

According to Martinez, the measure is part of an “optimization of the state” process led by Ecuadorean President Moreno.

In August, when the first hike in prices happened, the government said that in order to maintain subsidies the state would have to seek outside loans. Since that first increase in gasoline prices, Moreno’s government reached an agreement of US$900 million in credit loans from China. Despite the development, the government is still proceeding to scraped the subsidies.