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Time for Latin America & the Caribbean to come first

Photo: SAG

The policy of “America first” defended by the current U.S. administration constitutes a declaration of principles.

If Washington once fantasized about a world in its own image and likeness, in which progress would spread to countries that did not challenge its hegemony, it is now clear that there is only room for one country at the top. And anyone who disputes U.S. dominance must face “fire and fury.”

What can Latin America and the Caribbean expect of their northern neighbor? The next meeting of the continent’s heads of state, in mid-April in Lima, Peru, will be an opportunity to see.

With the opening of the 8th Summit of the Americas – an initiative of Bill Clinton’s administration to promote free trade – a month off, the White House must prepare the ground.

OAS Council meeting in Washington

This is the task of Vice President Mike Pence today, during the Organization of American States Council meeting in Washington, where he will offer an unusual speech on his government’s priorities in relation to the continent.

Pence will be the first U.S. Vice President to address the body since Democrat Al Gore did so in 1994, reflecting the lack of importance Washington gives this “council of colonies,” except when the U.S. is looking to attack or promote coups in sovereign countries.

U.S. officials have already announced plans to redouble aggression against Venezuela, with the overthrow of its government an obsession for this administration, as it attempts to extend an olive branch to others countries in the region and soften its offences.

Summit in Lima

The Summit in Lima will be the first time Trump comes face to face with his Latin American and Caribbean counterparts, who still hold fresh in their memories the xenophobic rhetoric he used in his 2016 election campaign; his threats to make Mexico pay for a border wall; his description of Haiti and El Salvador as “shithole countries” and immigrants from the region as “murderers and rapists.”

As Pence speaks to the OAS in Washington, meeting in Lima will be representatives of civil society from across the continent, in what is being called a Hemispheric Dialogue, to address issues like forced disappearances, neoliberal austerity measures, lay-offs and pension cuts, murders of journalists, corruption, and the “soft” coups taking place in our region.

Simultaneously in Cuba, a Thinking the Americas Forum will take on the challenge of addressing the diversity and richness of Cuban civil society in times of change, to pave the way for a prosperous and sustainable socialism.

Three events in three distinct locations, at a key moment in the region, again facing the confrontation of two Americas, two different historical projects, on the same continent.

As our emancipators did 200 years ago, this appears to be the time to say: “Latin America and the Caribbean first.”

Havana is home to the most African embassies in Latin America

Source:  Granma

Photo: cadenagramonte.cu

Despite the geographical distance and economic limitations, regionally Cuba is home to the most African embassies, a continent with which it shares many historic and cultural ties.
With the opening of the Kenyan Embassy in the Cuban capital, set to take place this Friday March 16, there will now be 22 nations from Sub-Saharan Africa with diplomatic missions in the country, according to information by the Cuban Foreign Ministry.
Although African countries have embassies located throughout the region, there are less than a dozen missions in bigger and economically stronger nations on our continent, like Mexico and Brazil.

The Republic of the Seychelles

Meanwhile, an important event occurred in April last year with the opening of the Embassy of the Republic of the Seychelles in Havana, the island’s first in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Attending the inauguration was the country’s President Danny Faure, who studied Political Science in Cuba.

In addition to Africa’s roots in Cuban society, culture and history, the 1959 Revolution also inspired and supported anti-colonial struggles on the continent.
Cuban soldiers for example, gave their lives to help several African countries secure their freedom, while tens of thousands of doctors, athletes, and teachers have contributed, and continue contributing, to the social and economic development of these nations.

In addition to the vast number of young Africans currently studying on the island, Cuba has also trained thousands of students from that continent who now hold important and even senior political positions in their countries of origin



Knowledge knows no borders

Source:  Granma
March 20 2018

U.S. orthopedic surgeon Xavier Duralde collaborates with Cuban doctors at Havana’s Ameijeiras Hospital

Dr. Xavier Duralde from the United States (center), with doctors Horacio Tabares Neyra and Osvaldo García Martínez, course coordinators representing the Cuban Orthopedics and Traumatology Society. Photo: Nuria Barbosa León

Despite obstacles imposed by the current U.S. administration to hamper relations with Cuba, including claims of alleged “sonic attacks” against its diplomatic personnel on the island, and issuing of an unfounded travel advisory against the Caribbean nation, recommending that its population “reconsider” visiting Cuba, U.S. citizens continue wanting to experience the island and help build bridges between the two nations.

Such is the case of Dr. Xavier Duralde from the United States, experienced orthopedic surgeon and renowned professor who gave an international course on arthroscopic diagnosis and treatment of injuries to shoulder and elbow joints to Cuban colleagues at Havana’s Hermanos Ameijeiras Surgical Clinical Hospital.

Duralde described the exchange with his Cuban counterparts as beneficial for both parties given marked interest in the development of minimally invasive surgery – or arthroscopic surgery within orthopedics – on the island, used to correct ankle, knee, hip, elbow, shoulder and wrist conditions.

Sharing new ideas

The specialist highlighted how performing this type of surgery benefits Cuban doctors, as well as the need to extend it to shoulder procedures. “I have come to share new ideas in these types of techniques so that their use can be extended here,” he noted.

The U.S. specialist also emphasized his marked interest in visiting the island given the lack of knowledge in his country about contemporary Cuban society. I am very proud to be visiting for the first time and to be sharing with colleagues on these issues, stated the U.S. medical professional.

Xavier Duralde, who graduated from the University of Columbia and currently works at Northside and Predmont hospitals in Atlanta, is also an associate adjunct professor at the Emory University School of Medicine in this U.S. state and orthopedic surgeon for the Atlanta Braves baseball team. He is also a member of the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons Society; Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons; as well as the Major League Baseball Physicians Association.

An improvement in collaborative relations

The surgeon explained that the opportunity to give the course arose after he met Dr. Horacio Tabares Neyra, president of the Cuban Orthopedics and Traumatology Society, at an international specialist event.

He also noted that he wishes to repeat the experience and thus hopes to see an improvement in collaborative relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Meanwhile, Tabares Neyra noted that the course was divided into three sessions and attended by orthopedic and rheumatology specialists from the country’s 15 provinces as well as all hospitals in the capital, with theoretic and practical sessions and demonstrations of live surgeries performed on real patients.

Xavier Duralde “is an expert in the theoretical and practical elements of these treatments, and his help is very valuable to extending arthroscopic shoulder surgery throughout the country,” stated Tabares Neyra, who went on to note that the program was designed by Duralde himself and given in Spanish, which helped understanding.

Regarding the Cuban Orthopedics and Traumatology Society, Tabares Neyra explained that the institution was founded in the 1940s, currently has over 2,000 members, and was presided for various decades by national and internationally renowned professor Dr. Rodrigo Álvarez Cambra.

Among other efforts, the Society aims to contribute to scientific work; disseminate key achievements of its professionals; introduce modern technologies and new prophylactic and therapeutic methods within the specialty through frequent exchanges and debates on individual and collective experiences. It also maintains links with similar national and international scientific institutions, with the potential for scientific-technical and educational exchanges in this field.

In figures

In 2017, 989,209 general surgeries using traditional methods were performed in Cuba, some 5,326 more than the previous year. During this period, 52,017 procedures using minimally invasive techniques were carried out, an increase of around 6,000 as compared to 2016. Minimally invasive surgery is practiced in 53 hospitals and by 13 medical specialties in Cuba.

Brazil: Media Trying to Whitewash and Exploit Marielle Franco’s Political Radicalism

Source:  The Intercept

by Glenn Greenwald

marielle franco 3.jpgVereadora Marielle Franco was the fifth most voted of the last elections and
was based in the favela of Maré

ON SUNDAY NIGHT, Brazil’s most powerful television outlet, Rede Globo, devoted 45 minutes of its highly watched “Fantastico” program to the assassination of Rio City Council Member Marielle Franco and the killing of her driver, Anderson Gomes. This story has dominated headlines in Brazil for a full week, and, as protests proliferate around the country, it continues to be covered as a major story by news outlets around the world.

This was not a case in which Globo has elevated a story to major prominence. This was the opposite: Globo trying to take hold of a story that has exploded through citizen-driven online activism and anger without any need for bolstering from major media outlets.

Major media relegated to bystander

For once, Brazil’s major media has been a bystander in this story, not its driver. Globo could see that the reaction to Marielle’s killing was growing, getting stronger, moving in directions that make many Brazilian elites extremely uncomfortable. Last night’s “Fantastico” coverage was Globo’s attempt to get this story under control — under its control.

There were parts of “Fantastico’s” reporting that were genuinely informative and journalistically excellent — particularly Sonia Bridi’s detailed, evidence-based exposition of how this horrific crime was carried out with such chilling professionalism and competence, convincingly showing that whoever engineered the murders knew exactly how police would investigate and exactly how to prevent detection.

That terrorizing fact is an important piece of the puzzle when understanding who ordered Marielle to be killed; whoever killed the activist who devoted herself to denouncing police abuses is intimately familiar with how the police function.

Other parts were genuinely moving and beautifully presented, particularly the interviews with Marielle’s devastated widow Mônica, and, separately, with Marielle’s 19-year-old daughter, her parents, and her sister. The prominent inclusion of Anderson’s life and death, and the delicately handled and wrenching interview with his grieving widow, was commendable given the temptation to forget about the death of Marielle’s driver.

Marielle’s remarkable life trajectory

The show also did justice to how remarkable and inspiring was the trajectory of Marielle’s life: from poverty, deprivation, and single motherhood at 19 as a black woman in a favela to a master’s degree in sociology, human rights activism, and political empowerment through massive voter support in her 2016 election to the City Council.

marielle franco's widow.jpg“Fantastico” interview with Marielle’s widow, Mônica.   YouTube/Fantastico

This was not an insignificant media moment in Brazil. A black, leftist lesbian from the sprawling Maré favela, and from the socialist PSOL party, was honored and glorified on one of Globo’s most important media platforms, while millions of ordinary Brazilians around the country, far away from Rio and São Paulo, watched. They prominently featured, rather than hid, Marielle’s wife.

The perspectives of prominent leftist politicians and activists were respectfully included. And they condemned and vilified the right-wing politicians and judges who have used the internet to spread disgusting lies about Marielle designed to malign her with toxic stereotypes of black women from favelas (she was pregnant at 16, married to a notorious drug dealer, supported in her election by a drug gang: all demonstrable lies). All of that is worth celebrating.

A political person

BUT MARIELLE WAS, first and foremost, a political person: a radical in the best and most noble sense of that word. It’s her radicalism that made her such an inspiration to so many ordinary and voiceless citizens, and a threat to so many powerful and corrupt factions. Her political activism, her political beliefs, were Marielle’s core, a major part of her identity, the centerpiece of what made her a figure of such singular force and power.

The crime that ended her life was also purely political. There is no way to meaningfully understand Marielle’s life and assassination without a candid, clear, and honest discussion of her politics. What makes her story such big news is her politics, which in turn produced the political motives that caused powerful people to want her dead.

These are the most difficult, most complicated, and most important subjects to cover when reporting on Marielle’s life and death: her relentless and brave activism against the most lawless police battalions, her opposition to military intervention, and, most threateningly of all, her growing power as a black, gay woman from the favela seeking not to join Brazil’s power structure, but to subvert it.

What “Fantastico” avoided almost entirely

It’s not a coincidence that the last event she attended, the one where she was followed and then killed upon leaving, was titled, “Young Black Women Changing Power Structures.”

And it was these subjects that “Fantastico” avoided almost entirely — except when they brazenly manipulated them for its own purposes. The only segment purporting to describe Marielle’s politics was an extremely banal, condescending discussion of the definition of “human rights,” which “Fantastico” basically reduced to an anodyne, uncontroversial declaration that all humans are born free and should be treated equally: propositions that virtually every Brazilian politician from right to left would happily endorse. They drained Marielle’s politics of its vibrancy, radicalism, and force, and converted it into a simplistic comic book of empty clichés that nobody would find objectionable.

Extinguishing Marielle’s real political sensibilities were necessary to achieve Globo’s real objectives here. The emotions from Marielle’s brutal assassination are overwhelming and powerful. The question is, to what ends will those emotions be directed? What outcomes will they foster? What views and movements will they strengthen?

Ultimately, what “Fantastico” was really up to here became extremely clear by the end of its coverage. They took the still-expanding power of Marielle’s story and tried to reduce its power — limit it — to a simple, apolitical human interest story, something that made you cry and feel sad and empathetic and maybe angry, but not in any way that would make you embrace Marielle’s causes or crusades for justice or devote yourself to the political agenda she symbolized.

Awakening  traditionally powerless people

Globo and its comrades in elite culture see a serious danger in the aftermath of Marielle’s killing, for good reason. They see that it is awakening — emboldening — traditionally powerless people to the cruelties of extreme societal inequality and the intolerable racist criminality of its police forces.

It is galvanizing favela residents to organize and mobilize. It is pointing an accusatory finger not at drug traffickers and ordinary criminals — the favored Globo narrative — but at the very forces used by the country’s elite to impose its will and secure its privileges: its military, its police, and its traditionally white, male, rich political system.

It was those factions and those policies which Marielle had devoted her life to fighting — not just in defense of the pleasing, unchallenging, clichéd notions of “human rights” that “Fantastico” centered. Those who feel threatened by Marielle’s activism and political principles see that her death is strengthening those things — and desperately want to re-direct these powerful emotions away from what she believed and inspired, toward something less disruptive, less threatening to status quo power.

That’s why “Fantastico” went heavy on the powerful human emotions of this story — the grieving, weeping relatives, the killing of a hardworking father who supported his baby by working as a driver, the anger we all feel when human life is violently extinguished, the mournful music that made us feel tearful — and ignored the scarier political aspects of Marielle’s life.

Globo knows it can’t stop or limit the powerful emotions, so it wants to render them apolitical and thus, harmless. It wants all of this sadness and indignation to fall into a black hole of political irrelevance, like one of the TV network’s emotion-heavy soap operas, in which Marielle’s killing has no meaning beyond just making people angrier still about the violence plaguing Brazil.

Trying to exploit Marielle to reinforce support for a policy that Marielle despised

But far worse than the suppression of Marielle’s political beliefs was “Fantastico’s” one attempt to politicize her death — by trying to exploit Marielle to reinforce support for a policy that Marielle despised: Michel Temer’s recent military “intervention” in Rio de Janeiro, the first time since the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship in 1985 that the military is occupying a major city.

After 45 minutes of building emotional sadness and anger over Marielle’s death, “Fantastico” tried to channel that into manipulating, exploiting, and subverting Marielle’s political causes. Immediately following the segments about Marielle, “Fantastico” devoted one segment to the horrific killing of a child last week in a Rio slum, the Complexo do Alemão, and then immediately went live to one of its reporters in Brasília, describing how Temer was meeting that very moment with ministers to consider more funding for the military invention.

marielle franco 4 fist saluteWomen raise their hands in protest of the death of Marielle in Rio de Janeiro on March 15, 2018.  Photo: Ian Cheibub/AGIF/AP

And it was at that moment “Fantastico’s” odious, menacing agenda became crystal clear. It wasn’t just to stomp out the possibility that Marielle’s killing would galvanize support for her life’s political project. It was far worse: to try to ensure that Marielle’s death could be exploited to strengthen everything she fought to subvert. The message from “Fantastico” was as obvious as it was odious: Now that we just spent all this time making you so sad and angry about Marielle’s brutal assassination, you must see why Temer’s military intervention is so justified.

PSOL officials and other left-wing activists instantly recognized the ugly agenda at play and denounced it on social media by pointing out that Marielle vehemently opposed military occupation as a gross waste of resources that would solve nothing and make everything worse, while directly threatening democracy.

Making MLK unthreatening

PERHAPS THE REASON I’m particularly sensitive to this distortion scheme is because I’ve seen exactly this reprehensible media tactic used so effectively in the U.S. During the 1990s, a vicious, ugly debate consumed the U.S. over whether to declare Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday.

And it was easy to understand why this was so controversial. King was a true radical, hated by many. He railed against the evils of capitalism. He urged the most oppressed populations to rise up. He uncompromisingly condemened U.S. imperialism. In a speech given one year before he was killed, devoted to denouncing the U.S. role Vietnam War, he called the U.S. government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” as well as the leading exponent of “the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long.”

So, if you’re an American political or economic elite, and know that you can’t erase the memory of someone with such threatening, disruptive views, what do you do? You erase all the views that you find threatening when allowing him to be celebrated, and convert what he symbolizes into something simplistic, clichéd, and unthreatening. On King’s holiday, his contempt for capitalism and denunciations of U.S. imperialism are rarely mentioned. Few Americans know about them now. He is instead just spoken of as a symbol of elementary, vague conceptions of racial equality that few people outside of malicious fringes openly reject: He has been reduced to his lowest common denominator and the genuinely disruptive parts of his worldview and activism have been deliberately erased from his history.

Marielle opposed military intervention in Rio

And just as “Fantastico” tried last night to exploit Marielle’s memory into support for a policy she had spent the last month of her life opposing — military intervention in Rio — the U.S. government now exploits the pleasant memory of MLK into support for militarism and imperialism, something he hated with all of his being. The U.S. military actually uses King’s name and image in its propaganda, as if the mere fact that its killing force is now racially integrated would make King proud and supportive of U.S. violence and its various killing machines:

This is what many in Brazilian media and political elites are now trying to do with Marielle. They know she will not be forgotten, and that the anger and disgust at her brutal assassination is not going away. So the project is now underway to drain her of her radicalism and disruptive energy and instead, convert her into a generic and pleasant symbol, so that they can exploit her for their own ends, including to generate support for status quo-perpetuating policies that she loathed.

Last night’s “Fantastico” episode was the first step in that project. It’s the responsibility of those who believe in Marielle’s vision and activism — not just in Brazil, but around the world — not to allow this gross revisionism and exploitation to succeed.

Brazilian Presidential Candidate Lula on Facing Jail as He Runs for President Again

Source:   truth-out.org / Democracy Now!
March 19 2018

by Amy GoodmanDemocracy Now! | Video Interview

We continue our conversation with former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the highly popular former union leader who is running for president in this year’s election even as he is facing a possible prison term on what many believe to be trumped-up corruption charges tied to the sprawling probe known as “Operation Car Wash.” Lula was convicted of accepting a beachside apartment from an engineering firm vying for contracts at the state oil company Petrobras. But many of Lula’s supporters say the conviction was politically motivated. President Lula responds to the charges against him. “We’re awaiting for the accusers to show at least some piece of evidence that indicates that I committed any crime,” he notes.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, as we continue our exclusive, a conversation with Brazil’s former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as Lula. The highly popular former union leader is running for president in this year’s election but is facing a possible prison term on what many believe to be trumped-up corruption charges tied to a sprawling probe known as “Operation Car Wash.” Lula was convicted of accepting a beachside apartment from an engineering firm vying for contracts at the state oil company Petrobras, but many of Lula’s supporters say the conviction was politically motivated.

The Intercept recently reported, quote, “The indictment against Lula is rife with problems. The apartment’s title was never transferred to Lula or his associates; he and his wife never used the property; the prosecution could not identify an explicit quid pro quo or benefit related to Petrobras; no official or internal documentation linking Lula to the apartment was produced; and the case rests almost entirely on the testimony of the executive who hoped to gain sentencing leniency for his cooperation,” unquote.

During the interview on Friday, President Lula responded to the charges and conviction against him.


LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] I was not accused of corruption. I was accused because of a lie in a police investigation, a lie in an indictment by the Office of the Attorney General, and in the judgment of Judge Moro, because there is only one evidence, of my innocence, in this entire trial, which my defense counsel explained in a magisterial manner. We are awaiting the accusers, for the accusers to show at least some piece of evidence that indicates that I committed any crime during the period that I was in the presidency.

Now, what is behind that is the attempt to criminalize my political party. What is behind that is the interest in a part of the political elite in Brazil, together with a part of the press, reinforced by the role of the judiciary, in preventing Lula from becoming a candidate in the 2018 elections. And I continue challenging the federal police, the Office of the Attorney General. I continue challenging Judge Moro and the appellate court to show the world and to show Brazil a single piece of evidence of a crime committed by me. The behavior of the judiciary in this instance is a political form of behavior.

AMY GOODMAN: Mr. President, last year, the ousted President Dilma Rousseff said, “The first chapter of the coup was my impeachment. But there’s a second chapter, and that is stopping President Lula from becoming a candidate for next year’s elections.” Do you see it the same way, that this is the final chapter of the coup, if your conviction is upheld, that you will be prevented from running in the October elections?

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] Amy, the Workers’ Party, in 12 years in the government, at the helm of the government in Brazil, was able to do many things that had never been done at any time in the 20th century. In this country, in 12 years, we brought 40 million people into the middle class. We drew 36 million people out of poverty. While Europe was shedding 62 million jobs as of the 2000 date, we created 20 million jobs in the formal sector in this country. For 12 years, all Brazilian workers were able to overcome inflation. It was the time of the greatest economic growth in the history of Brazil. It was the most distribution of income in the history of Brazil. To give you an idea, in 12 years, 70 million people began to use the banking system who had never walked into a bank.

And when they got rid of Dilma, they did want Lula to come back, because they know that the relationship between the Brazilian people and President Lula was the strongest relationship that the people of Brazil had ever had with a president in the entire history of the country. And even more important, they know I am absolutely certain that the best way to ensure economic recovery in Brazil is to lift up the working people of this country. They know that I know how to do that. Now that the poor people had jobs, had a salary, were studying, were eating better, were living — had better housing, when that happens, the economy grows again, and we can become the most optimistic country in the world and the happiest people in the world. And, Amy, that is why I want to be candidate for the presidency of Brazil, to show that a mechanic who doesn’t have a university degree knows better how to take care of the Brazilian people than the Brazilian elite, who never looked after the welfare of the Brazilian people.

AMY GOODMAN: President Lula, why did you decide to run for president again?

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] The truth is, I have still not decided, Amy. The ones who are deciding are the Brazilian people. Look, all of the public opinion polls in Brazil, month after month — and there are several of them — in all of them, I’m in first place. And so, I’m beginning to be the candidate who has the lowest negatives and the possibility of becoming a candidate and winning on the first round, and this is making my adversaries very uncomfortable. And I am sure, Amy, that at the Supreme Court I will be acquitted and that I will be candidate, and Brazil could once again be a protagonist in international policy, the economy could grow again, create jobs and improve the quality of life of the people. This is something I know how to do very well.

AMY GOODMAN: If the case does not go well for you in the Supreme Court, would you consider stepping aside?

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] First of all, Amy, I’m very optimistic, very optimistic. Now, if that were to happen and I was not able — were not able to be a candidate, if my name is not on the ballot, I think that the party would call a convention and discuss what to do. I am going to require that and call for justice to be done in the country.

Now, if my innocence is proven, then Judge Moro should be removed from his position, because you can’t have a judge who is lying in the judgment and pronouncing as guilty someone who he knows is innocent. He knows that it’s not my apartment. He knows that I didn’t buy it. He knows that I didn’t pay anything. He knows that I never went there. He knows that I don’t have money from Petrobras. The thing is that because he subordinated himself to the media, I said, in the first hearing with him, “You are not in a position to acquit me, because the lies have gone too far.” And the disgrace is that the one who does the first lie continues lying and lying and lying to justify the first lie. And I am going to prove that he has been lying.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, you raise two issues, President Lula: the media as prosecutor and the judge as prosecutor. Can you talk about both? Start with the media.

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] Well, Amy, it’s important that you come to Brazil to see what’s happening with the Brazilian press. I was president for eight years. Dilma was president for four years. And for 12 years, all the press did was to try to destroy my image and her image and the image of my party. I have more negative subject matter about me in the leading television news program of Brazil than all of the presidents in the whole history of Brazil. In other words, it’s a daily attempt to massacre me, to tell untruths about Lula, about Lula’s family. And the only weapon that I have is to confront them. And they’re irritated, because after they massacred me for four years, any opinion poll by any polling institute showed that Lula was going win the elections in Brazil.

Now, second, the Office of the Attorney General and the Car Wash scandal. I respect very much the institution. I was a member of the constitutional assembly, and I helped to strengthen the role of the Office of the Attorney General. But it created a task force, organized by a prosecutor, who went to television to show a PowerPoint, and said that the PT, the Workers’ Party, was established to be a criminal organization, that the fact that Lula was the most important person in the PT meant that he was the head of a criminal organization.

And on concluding the indictment, he simply said the following: “I don’t have evidence. I don’t have evidence. I have conviction.” I don’t want to be judged by the conviction of the prosecutor. He can keep his convictions to himself. I want whoever is prosecuting me to come forward in the proceeding and to tell the people of Brazil what crime I committed. The only thing, Amy, that I really want now is for the merits of my trial to be judged. I want him to discuss it. I want him to read the prosecutorial brief and the defense brief, and then make a decision. What I really want at this time is that justice be done in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: The candidate polling second in Brazil’s elections is a far-right-wing congressman and former soldier named Jair Bolsonaro. He’s been called the “Brazilian Trump.” Can you talk about who he is, what he represents, and if you understand there’s any communication between him and the US government right now?

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] I cannot. I cannot level accusations against an adversary. The only thing that I would like is to have the right to run in the elections here in Brazil, to win the elections and to recover the right of the Brazilian people to live well. I cannot pass judgment on the president of the United States, just as I cannot pass judgment on the president of Uruguay, and much less can I pass judgment on my adversaries.

AMY GOODMAN: But if you can explain what he represents, how you differ from him?

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] He is a member of the federal Congress. He was an Army captain in the Brazilian Army. The information that we have is that he was expelled from the Brazilian army. And his behavior is far-right-wing, fascist. He is very much prejudiced against women, against blacks, against indigenous persons, against human rights. He believes that everything can be resolved with violence. So, I don’t think he has a future in Brazilian politics. He has the right to run. He speaks. He projects a certain image to please a part of the society that is of the extreme right. But I don’t believe that the Brazilian people have an interest in electing someone with his sort of behavior to serve as president of the republic.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think he was happy with Marielle’s death?

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] I think so, because he’s preaching violence every day. He preaches violence. He believes that those who defend human rights are doing a disservice to democracy. He thinks that those who defend women’s rights are doing a disservice to democracy, likewise those who defend the rights of the black community. He is against everything that is discussed when one is talking about human rights.

AMY GOODMAN: We continue with Brazilian presidential candidate, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in 30 seconds.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.


Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on more than 1,100 public television and radio stations worldwide. Time Magazine named Democracy Now! its “Pick of the Podcasts,” along with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”


Uncovering a C.L.R. James treasure trove

Paul Buhle is the authorized biographer of C.L.R. James and responsible for numerous books, including The Young C.L.R. James, co-edited with Lawrence Ware and drawn by Milton Knight. Here, he reviews C.L.R. James and Revolutionary Marxism, a collection of essential, but often little-known, essays by the legendary Trinidadian Marxist.


C.L.R. James speaks in London's Trafalgar Square in support of the Ethiopian anti-colonial struggleC.L.R. James speaks in London’s Trafalgar Square
in support of the Ethiopian anti-colonial struggle

THE SMALLISH crowd of C.L.R. James’ admirers at the time of his 1989 death was notable for its scattered global character, its sports fans, its Pan African devotees and also its socialists with Trotskyist leanings.

From India to the Anglophone Caribbean, from the UK to Canada, James continued to hold readers rapt with Beyond a Boundary (1963), a history of cricket that was also a quasi-memoir of youth in Trinidad during the first decades of the century. Early and late, he had worked and written for anti-colonial movements.

The socialist part of his life remained, at his passing, the least understood. This volume of essays and documents, reprinted by Haymarket from a rather obscure publication in 1994, restores to readers a valuable and interesting text that is both relevant today and a part of socialist history that is barely understood.

Its editors, Scott McLemee and Paul Le Blanc, are past masters of left history relevant to the subject and volume: Le Blanc with an updated essay on James in Left Americana and McLemee with a separate volume titled C.L.R. James On the Negro Question.

Let us turn quickly, in this brief review, to the matter at hand: James’ own view of Revolutionary Marxism.

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THE INTRODUCTION and Afterword both highlight an essential point: James’ history of the Haitian revolt, Black Jacobins (1938), very much inspired by Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, opened up the unknown saga of slave uprisings, but also of mass production in what amounted almost to modern agri-factory conditions.

So few whites managed so many slaves that much of the skilled labor–the thinking on the job–was inevitably carried out by slaves themselves, a vital point. They had already made history (in the most valuable economic site of the time) and did again in their revolt, without being guided by any nonwhite movement or party.

The same C.L.R. James wrote, around the same time, A History of the Negro Revolt, a powerful if smallish book, and World Revolution, a thick volume described in the UK, where it was published, as a “Bible of Trotskyism.”

James had by that time become a most unique Trotskyist, ready to remove himself from Britain to the U.S. in 1939, and he remained a singular Marxist and world figure for the next 60 years, until his passing.

The most unique and hitherto little-seen essays in this book come from the 1940s Trotskyist press. James was not the only luminous intellectual of these circles, nor did he become a leader of more than a small faction (with his partners, Raya Dunayevskaya and Grace Lee) within the diverse and divided Trotskyist field.

James had in his writing, nevertheless, a remarkable sweep, resting upon a view of civilization at large, a striking originality of thought and, of course, a special feeling for the potential of African Americans within the left and society at large.

I am not so sure that he was well served by being a vigorous debater (I remember anarcho-ecologist Murray Bookchin, another former Trotskyist, saying to me in 1970: “That James…he could HOLD A POSITION”), because so much energy went into disputations. But a fresh reading of these mostly wartime texts lends a fine view of global society seeking to wrench free of war and capitalism.

It also shows us what socialist prose can be: James is marvelously fluent, on almost any subject, and he offers readers deep insights without talking down to them. Any young writer today would benefit from studying how James uses his prose, how he dedicates his sweeping intellect to the particular tasks of socialist transformation, and how he lets us understand his own depth without becoming pedantic in the slightest.

Scott McLemee, in the Afterword, closes in part by acutely suggesting that James had a proto-New Left view, an observation that we might adjust to 2018.

James was very firm in his understanding that the institutions of liberalism were passing into crisis, and that the “state capitalist” (his phrase for Stalinist) societies had no answer for this crisis. He did not (quite) live to see the Eastern Bloc fall, but he would have understood that only a mighty movement from below, marked by direct mass action as well as strategic planning, could finish off a class system.

Following Lenin, James insisted that the socialist society creates itself in no small part by breaking up the state–as he thought, late in his life, that Polish Solidarity was doing; a renewal of the promise to him, of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and of course, the Russian Revolution itself.

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DOUBTLESS THE most familiar text reprinted here is “The Revolutionary Answer to the Negro Problem,” a resolution prepared for the 1948 convention of the Socialist Workers Party.

It is, for me, above all an appeal to socialists themselves to watch the masses in motion, in politics and daily life, and to grasp what they are doing as radical potential–something socialists lost in theoretical speculation have often been prone to miss when it comes to music, sports and other seemingly non-political actions. James also, of course, anticipated Black Power.

Least familiar to the general reader is certainly “Trotsky’s Place in History.” No summary will do justice to the spirit of this essay, and I believe that many readers of SW will come away from it with conclusions richer than my own.

But consider that James, himself a historian of great significance, is seeking here to put Leon Trotsky’s work in the light of the great 19th century historians Gibbon and Michelet, also in the light of Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire, concluding that The History of the Russian Revolution “will remain a bridge between the long line which leads from the Old Testament and Homer, the Greek tragedy, Dante and Cervantes.”

All this James attributed to the strengthening of ordinary humans’ growing confidence in themselves, their right and their capacity to reorganize the world.

James’ actual criticisms of Trotsky, here and elsewhere within this volume, are appropriately modest and helpful, but come down to the kindly observation that if Lenin loved the rough play of political warfare, Trotsky would rather spend his time in his study, as the remarkable scholar that he was.

He could be wrong on particulars, but–to borrow a phrase he directed at other Trotskyists–if Trotsky was mistaken, on the Stalinized Russian state in particular, he was never confused.

There is so much more here in the pages of this volume that readers will readily find their own favorite essays, likely their own favorite sentences and paragraphs–because James’ prose so often sparkles with style and also with complications.

A small complaint: I do not think his criticism of Herbert Aptheker, the Communist historian of African American life, is entirely fair. By dint of research on slave revolts, Aptheker went far in a field with little existing scholarship. Later generations of left-wing scholars, notably Robin D.G. Kelley, have lauded Aptheker’s strengths, acknowledging his weaknesses.

This seems no matter of great significance to the rest of Revolutionary Marxism. Readers of C.L.R. James will relish what they find here and look elsewhere for the other works of James, early and late.

The voices of the Haitian slaves rising up have yet to be heard fully, but future revolutionary generations of every culture will yet hear them–of that we may be sure. They will thank James for his contribution on this and other subjects, and we thank Scott McLemee and Paul Le Blanc for their efforts in making this unique anthology available.

Saint Lucian Ambassador highlights collaboration ties with Cuba

Source:  Granma
March 12 2018

Ambassador of Saint Lucia Malachia Fontenelle highlighted her country’s interest in strengthening ties with Cuba. Photo: Karoly Emerson (ICAP)

Malachia Fontenelle, Ambassador of Saint Lucia to Cuba, speaking to Granma International, reaffirmed her country’s willingness to strengthen relations with the largest island of the Antilles.

The diplomat highlighted the existence of bilateral cooperation agreements benefiting both countries, including those which have seen youth from Saint Lucia come to study different professions in Cuban universities, chiefly at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM).

She also emphasized the many people from her country who have received medical treatment in Cuban institutions, and praised the extraordinary health promotion and disease prevention work being carried out by a medical brigade from the island, offering healthcare services to remote communities in Saint Lucia.

I am an example

“I am an example of my own words; I studied at the University of Medical Sciences in Cienfuegos and graduated in 2008. Today, I am a doctor and feel very proud to form part of the relations between the two nations,” stated Malachia Fontenelle.
The regional official went on to highlight her government’s interest in expanding trade ties, which currently include food imports and other products from Saint Lucia which are sold in the country’s network of retail outlets; noting that new bilateral agreements should be signed shortly.

Regarding her time in Cuba as a student at ELAM, she noted that as well as her profession, she also learned Spanish and how to manage financial and material resources, in addition to meeting people who have become like family to her

“There is much to learn from the levels of citizen safety achieved in Cuba. For example, sometimes I work late and am never afraid that I or any of my colleagues will be victims of crime,” stated Malachia Fontenelle, who went on to note the interest expressed by ministers from her country in visiting Cuba.

edmund estepahane st lucia

Minister of Youth Development and Sports of Saint Lucia, Edmund Estepahane, visited Cuba to learn about experiences in the field of sports and physical education. Photo: Karoly Emerson (ICAP)

Warm welcome

Meanwhile, Edmund Estepahane, Saint Lucia’s minister of Youth Development and Sports, during his first ever visit to Cuba, highlighted the warm welcome he received from Cuban authorities, who provided him with detailed information regarding the selection and training process for athletes in the country.
“I’m visiting Cuba because I want to learn about the methods applied to athletes and be able to obtain the same results as Cuba has achieved in international competitions. I think we should change the structure of this sector and place greater emphasis on the physical development of the population at the community level,” noted the minister.

He also praised progress made by Cuba in this field which has seen the island become a reference for other nations. According to Edmund Estepahane, the aim of this first visit to Cuba is to observe and learn from the island’s experiences before proposing bilateral exchanges and signing