What you didn’t know about Alberto Fernández, the new president of Argentina

Source:  Chamosaur

December 19 2019

Critical, even with those who are today his main allies, lover of rock and ‘heavy user’ of social networks, this expert behind the scenes will occupy for the first time the most important position in the life of any politician.

Alberto Ángel Fernández is the new Argentine president since December 10, guaranteeing the return of Peronism to the Casa Rosada. The center-left leader, something unknown abroad, but with a long career behind the scenes of power, arrives at the Executive in order to solve the economic crisis, and reconcile a society divided by a historical ideological gap. But who is he and how did he reach the leadership of the South American country? 
His life
He was born on April 2, 1959 in the Province of Buenos Aires, although he did not have a great relationship with his father. In fact, in several interviews when referring to his father he made reference to his mother’s partner, a judge who was dismissed from office a few weeks after the last military dictatorship began, in 1976.
He spent his childhood and part of adolescence in the neighborhood of Villa del Parque, in the capital of the country, a middle class area with beautiful houses and few buildings. He attended high school at Mariano Moreno School, in the State, and there he was a delegate in the Union of Secondary Students (UES), marking the first Peronist seal on his curriculum. Over the years, he was part of other groups and related to leaders, who later became recognized figures of the Justicialist Party (PJ), identified with General Juan Domingo Perón. Finally, after standing out in various organizations, he also joined the PJ, the most popular and representative front of Argentina. 
Alberto, as everyone calls him, continued on his path along the right path, as did his adoptive father. Thus, in 1983 he graduated as a lawyer with an average of 7.80 at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), where he has been teaching since 1985. In fact, until arriving at the Presidency, he taught General Theory of Crime and Penalty System in that house of studies – public and free – and hundreds of students lined up to take a ‘selfie’ with the future president. From his role as an academic, he said that the referents of the regional center, such as Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Rafael Correa and the new Argentine vice president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, suffer a judicial persecution, which violates the bases of due process. 
His beginnings in politics were during the Government of Raúl Alfonsín, leader of the Radical Civic Union (UCR), another traditional party of that Latin American nation, remembered for the return to democracy in 1983. At that time he was appointed deputy director general of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Economy, and in 1989, under the mandate of the Peronist Carlos Menem, he was in charge of the National Superintendence of Insurance. 
Then, since 1996, he was on the board of directors of companies linked to Banco Provincia, under the Government of Eduardo Duhalde in the Province of Buenos Aires, one of the most respected politicians by Fernández. Until 1999, he continued to be linked to that leader, to later be part of the so-called Calafate Group, the new progressive wave within Peronism that sought to be the alternative to the re-election of Menem, who had left his popular roots to lean toward a neo-liberal model. From there, the candidacy of Nestor Kirchner, who came to the Government in 2003, began to emerge, and Fernandez was appointed Chief of Staff.  
Thus, Alberto held the position until 2008, leaving him during the Government of Cristina, with whom he began a strong distancing, generating crosses and accusations of all kinds, which today are highlighted by the opposition. Beyond that, they made the passes and the most popular leader in Argentina surprised everyone by offering her the presidential candidacy. In this new scenario, both promised not to fight “never again.” In addition, Fernández was considered the “intermediate” aspirant, without positioning himself at any ideological end. Nor did he have major causes of corruption, nor would there be time to build a file against him.  
Pure pragmatism
This Latin American leader may be the best example to explain pragmatism, having gone through several paths until he reached the most important position in his entire career. Although he always stood in Peronism, he knew how to join important figures who, at the time, were clear enemies of Kirchnerism. Thus, the new president is recognized for his frontal way of doing politics, a line that characterized him until today, and that many recognize him as a virtue.
Indeed, while he was able to hold strategic dialogues with Washington and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) before his assumption, he did not hesitate to criticize the White House for its role in the Bolivia crisis: “USA. He returned to the worst times of endorsing coups in Latin America, ”he said. In tune, although he recognizes Brazil as a great trading partner, he always asked for the release of Lula, recently released. Likewise, adaptation to the environment is also reflected in the possible alliance with Mexico to form a progressive axis in the region, where right-wing governments abound. 
Alberto’s curiosities
In the weeks before the seizure of power, he had already become a politician who stood out for some activities, tastes and interests that have little to do with leadership life, although they say a lot about what the president is like in his daily life. Several of those points were exploited by image consultants during the election campaign.
Rocker
Fernández is a guitarist. In fact, at age 14 he took classes to learn to play the instrument with Litto Nebbia, an icon of national rock. In other words, he is a great connoisseur of the genre, and listener to renowned artists of the 70s, when protest music abounded: Luis Alberto Spinetta, another local classic, is one of his favorite exponents. In addition, he came to compose his own songs and appeared in some Buenos Aires boliches. He also recorded a song, ‘The Last Summer’, included in a disc of the group The Super Mice.
The strawberry of dessert to crown the presidential campaign was to disseminate videos interpreting Argentine rock classics.  
Dogs
At times, Alberto’s pets stole the attention of voters. In fact, his dog breed collie was the center of all eyes. His name is Dylan, in honor of Bob Dylan. And he even has his own Instagram profile: “I was born in Pilar (Province of Buenos Aires), my best friend is Alberto Fernández. I am a national and popular collie, ”says his description, making a clear allusion to the typical Kirchner motto. 
But that is not all. The networks explode when photos of Dylan are published with one of his puppies, Prócer, who is named for his resemblance to a dog that appears in a chapter of The Simpsons. Obviously, the virtual community went crazy when he noticed that the then candidate was a faithful follower of the yellow family. 
 Active in networks
Twitter is the social network most used by the politician. This is the channel chosen by Fernández to interact with the ordinary citizen, since he has his personal account, as of May 2010. Thus, until there was time to encourage complicated students with their exams, causing virtual fury . 
Respond to the press
While it is true that Fernandez used to have a good relationship with media companies, compared to leaders like Cristina, he does not hesitate to answer the false news and leave many journalists unemployed. In fact, it is rare for the brand new president to pass ‘fake news’ without denying them, exposing the media that was responsible for publishing them. The new Argentine leader is very careful of his public image. 
He wrote a book about Nestor Kirchner
He considers him the best president of democracy, and he never hid it. Thus, in 2011 he published the book ‘Politically incorrect: Reasons and passions of Nestor Kirchner’, which tells the background of many measures, written in a personal tone.  
Main criticisms
However, not all are flowers, it also has a few detractors. In fact, many highlight some aspects that they consider reprehensible in Alberto’s career, and also his emotional ties.
Old differences with Cristina
Why could one of the president’s toughest critics rule with her? This is one of the main questions of the opposition about the Fernández-Fernández formula. It is that before, Alberto launched comments worthy of an iron opposition: he criticized the memorandum signed with Iran during the Cristina Government, considering that the impunity of the attack on the AMIA was sought, hinted that the then president coerced the Judicial Power in her favor and He even stated that “he threw away everything Nestor did.” In line with the opposition arch, he emphasized with emphasis the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who appeared lifeless in his department before making a complaint against Kirchner before Congress. 
In a 2015 interview with Diaries and News, he highlighted the extension of rights that was achieved in the first term of that leader, but said that in the second period “there are no more elements to ponder.” And he added: “The economy is destroyed, reserves are lost along with the dollar – peso ratio, poverty increases and its existence is denied.” Alberto’s objections were many, but he does not hide them, and argues that criticizing is healthy for democracy.
One of the most tense moments occurred during a report on the C5N channel in 2012, when it was already quite critical. Suddenly, the transmission from the studio was cut, and Alberto publicly argued that the interruption would have occurred on the orders of Cristina officials, although the channel director argued that they had exceeded the time of the live report.  
Alliance with leaders questioned
The local left took care to emphasize that in 2000 that leader integrated a list led by Domingo Cavallo, an economist who brings bad memories to many Argentines. On that occasion, Fernández was elected legislator of the City of Buenos Aires. Before, Cavallo had already been undersecretary of the Interior and president of the Central Bank in the dictatorship. And in the 90s, while neoliberal policies were expanding, he was Minister of Economy.
In the midst of the 2001 crisis, when the Ministry re-directed, Domingo was the architect of the ‘corralito’, a measure that limited the extraction of cash from the population, consummating the largest social outbreak of the last decades. However, Fernández’s participation in his ballot had been a year earlier. 
In turn, the same leftist sectors repudiate the affection that the president shows for Duhalde, his former political partner, who presided over the country on an interim basis when the ‘Avellaneda Massacre’ occurred. On that day in 2002, the Police murdered Maximiliano Kosteki and Darío Santillán, while various social organizations complained in the Province of Buenos Aires for better living conditions, amid galloping poverty. 
Virtual aggressiveness
Prior to becoming the most important politician in the South American country, Fernández was a leader who used to use his spare time to exchange opinions with cybernetters, although diplomacy was not always abundant. In fact, “boludo” overlooking the sea, “written in 2013, was one of the answers that became more viral in recent months. Thus, the old replies on Twitter of the now president, who make militants laugh, were highlighted by the opposition to try to deny the measured position of the Peronist. And the list of insults can continue. 
The family 
The new Argentine president does not comply with the stereotypes of a typical traditional family. Alberto is divorced and has a girlfriend 22 years younger than him, Fabiola Yáñez, an Argentine journalist and actress. With his previous wife he had a son, Estanislao, a young ‘drag queen’ and a transformer, who has great popularity in social networks. 
That boy was the victim of a clear media attack after confirming his father’s candidacy, and even Bolsonaro’s son made fun of his female characterizations. Thus, hundreds of journalists rushed to ask Fernández about his offspring: “He is one of the most creative types I saw in my life. How are you going to fuck me asking about my son? I feel proud for him, ”he replied.  
There is a long way to qualify his administration, but the presidential image has already turned 180 degrees. 
Leandro Lutzky

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Race is Central to Both Revolution and Reaction in Latin America

Source:  Black Agenda Report
November 14 2019

Glen Ford, BAR executive editor

Race is Central to Both Revolution and Reaction in Latin American
Race is Central to Both Revolution and Reaction in Latin American

The world birthed in the near extinction of one-fifth of humanity still exists, in the social relations bequeathed to the Americas by conquistadors and enslavers.

In Latin America, U.S. influence means White Power.”

The events in Bolivia lay bare the central role that racial subjugation has always played in the “New World,” a hemisphere whose “discovery” by Europeans resulted — within the span of only 50 years — in the death by genocide and pandemic of fully a fifth of the Earth’s human population. The Conquistadors frenzied “primitive accumulation” of precious metals, mined by enslaved Natives who died quicker than they could be replenished, created a demand for the capture and importation of millions of Africans with immunities to both European and tropical disease. For centuries, until deep into the 1700s, the vast majority of the Western Hemisphere’s population was Indigenous and Black, with African slaves comprising the great bulk of newcomers to the New World. Thus was laid the material basis for the rise of Europe, the beginnings of capitalism and the global supremacy of whiteness.

“My crime is to be a union leader, to be indigenous…and anti-imperialist,” said Evo Morales, the three-time elected president of South America’s most indigenous nation as he entered exile in Mexico. Bolivia is roughly two-thirds native. Morales’ election victory, October 20 – his fourth since 2005 — was aborted in the ensuing weeks by rampaging gangs of thugs employed by oligarchs based in the whitest – and most fossil fuel-rich – regions of the country who terrorized, beat and kidnapped  government and Movement for Socialism party officials and their families and eventually laid siege to the capital in La Paz, with no resistance from the police and army. Unable to protect his comrades or kinfolk, Morales resigned, and was quickly replaced as president by the leader of the white-dominated minority legislative party. Morales’ party had won absolute majorities in both houses of the legislature, but was left leaderless and terror-struck by the coup. The white rump prevailed.

“Morales’ election victory was aborted by rampaging gangs of thugs employed by oligarchs based in the whitest – and most fossil fuel-rich – regions of the country.”

The United States did not immediately recognize the new government of Senator Jeanine Añez Chavez, but will doubtless soon do so, having schemed incessantly for regime change ever since Morales joined Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez (1998) and Brazil’s Lula da Silva (2003) to set in motion Latin America’s “pink tide.” When Argentina (Cristina Fernández de Kirchner), Nicaragua (Daniel Ortega) and Ecuador (Rafael Correa) elected leftish presidents in 2007, US imperial power sank to its nadir in the hemisphere. But the CIA never sleeps, and neither do the white oligarchs who remained at the commanding heights of the economy and media in the “pink”-led nations of the hemisphere. One by one, the anti-imperialist presidents were removed, with U.S. assistance, in Brazil (2016), Ecuador (2017) and Argentina (2015), for a time leaving only Venezuela and Nicaragua in the anti-imperialist camp – along with, of course, Cuba, which has not had a U.S.-allied oligarchic class to contend with since the revolution of 1959.

Luckily for Morales, in 2018 Mexico elected leftish president Lopez Obrador, who quickly facilitated asylum for Morales – as Mexico had done for countless political exiles throughout its history. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was also returned to power in Argentina, this year . And Brazil’s “Lula” was released from prison earlier this month  pending appeal of his conviction on corruption charges, reinvigorating a demoralized left in the hemisphere’s biggest country.

“The CIA never sleeps, and neither do the white oligarchs.”

Of the U.S. presidential candidates, only Bernie Sanders expressed alarm over the forced ouster of the democratically elected president in Bolivia. “I am very concerned,” Sanders tweeted, “about what appears to be a coup in Bolivia, where the military, after weeks of political unrest, intervened to remove President Evo Morales. The U.S. must call for an end to violence and support Bolivia’s democratic institutions.”

Given that Sanders once called Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez a “dead dictator ” and slandered current president Nicholas Maduro as a “vicious tyrant ” as recently as last September’s presidential debate, that’s a great improvement. But a president Sanders might find himself seeking asylum in Mexico if he tried to radically reform U.S. policy in Latin America, which is intimately allied with the maintenance of white elite rule in the region in collaboration with multinational capitalIn Latin America, U.S. influence means White Power.

When white secessionists began a drive to form their own nation in the natural gas fields of eastern Bolivia, they were befriended by the U.S. ambassador , who had previously been a key player in prying the province of Kosovo from Serbia.

“Sanders might find himself seeking asylum in Mexico if he tried to radically reform U.S. policy in Latin America.”

In Brazil, where the African-descended majority won affirmative action in public higher education and unprecedented recognition under presidents Lula da Silva and Dilma Rouusseff, the U.S. contributed the espionage underlying the prosecution and impeachment, respectively, of both Workers Party leaders. The grand scheme between the Obama and, later, Trump administrations and the white Brazilian elite culminated in the election of ultra-racist Jair Bolsonaro, who dismantled protections for Amerindians and their lands, threatened to reduce racial “quotas,” and declared that the police did not “kill enough” — in a nation where one out of every 12 encounters with police ends in death, and where hundreds of young Black men are killed by cops in a month in the megacities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiero. Under the “Trump” of Latin America, indigenous rights workers in Amazonia are now fair game for assassination by land grabbers. Brazilian politics is all about race, and is a perfect match with U.S. imperialism.

In Ecuador, indigenous protesters forced the neoliberal successor to leftish president Correa to withdraw an International Monetary Fund-imposed economic austerity program , after shutting down the capital city and forcing president Lenin Moreno to flee to the coast. That’s the second time in this century that Ecuadorian natives, who number about a quarter of the nation’s mostly mestizo population, have forced the government to retreat. Back in 2005, indigenous protests led to the ouster of president Lucio Gutiérrez when he tried to impose an IMF austerity regime. Indigenous leaders vow that they’ll return to the streets if Moreno reneges on the agreement.

“The grand scheme between Obama and, later, Trump and the white Brazilian elite culminated in the election of ultra-racist Jair Bolsonaro.”

Colombian politics also revolves around race – although neither the left nor the right will acknowledge it. Colombia has the highest number of displaced persons in the world : 7.7 million, according to the United Nations – even more than Syria, with 6.2 million. The majority of Colombia’s displaced people are Afro-descendants and indigenous, displaced by war and corporate land grabbers that operate in league with paramilitaries. The government refuses to enforce agreements recognizing the traditional land rights of both Blacks and indigenous people, and Afro-Colombians say FARC anti-government guerillas have never respected native and Black land rights, either. If the war in Colombia is a fight over land, then it is a war against Blacks and natives.

One glimpse at photos showing the racial composition of pro- and anti-government legislators in Venezuela, is enough to tell the tale. The violent opposition that has been trying to bring down the government for 20 years, with U.S. help, is overwhelmingly white, while the socialist government legislators look like the nation as a whole: largely Black, brown and native — like the late president Hugo Chavez, himself. Oligarch-owned newspapers brazenly published cartoons depicting Chavez as a monkey, and got away with it. U.S.-subsidized, mostly white rioters burned a young Black man alive in the streets of Caracas, assuming he was a Chavista. Racists in Venezuela don’t bite their tongues – nor do expatriate white Venezuelans in the U.S., a mob of whom, reinforced by racists from elsewhere in Latin America, surrounded the Venezuelan embassy in DC, last spring. American friends of Venezuela had occupied the building, with the blessing of the government in Caracas, to safeguard it against takeover by Donald Trump’s choice as pretend-president, Juan Guaido. The mob screamed racist and sexist threats  and taunts, day and night, for weeks, while the (largely Black) DC police stood by or abetted them. The U.S. American occupiers were eventually arrested, and face possible imprisonment .

There were Cubans, or the sons and daughters of exiled Cubans, in the mob, too, a reminder that Cuba is believed to have lost half her white population after the revolution – which is the best evidence that pre-revolutionary Cuba was a profoundly racist society.

The rest of Latin America has not undergone anything so sweeping – including Mexico, whose 1910-1920 revolution failed to achieve transformative results. The world birthed in the near extinction of one-fifth of humanity still exists, in the social relations bequeathed to the Americas by conquistadors and enslavers – and which U.S. imperialism is determined to preserve and defend.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

CFK Will Not Be Jailed Despite Preventive Detention Order

Source:  TeleSUR
March 7 2019

cfk will not be jailed“There are have already been 15 inquiries (against former President Fernandez).
12 ordered by Bonadío and 10 by Stornelli. | Photo: EFE

The former leftist president is now a Senator in Argentina which gives her parliamentary immunity.

The Argentine Supreme Court of Justice rejected, on Thursday, an appeal from former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s (CFK) legal team, against a trial with preventive prison, in the “Memorandum with Iran” case.

RELATED:  Argentine Judge: ‘No Evidence’ in Cristina Fernandez’s Case

This sentence of preventive prison, which is not a final sentence in the case, will not take effect, as CFK is now a Senator in Argentina which gives her parliamentary immunity.

The former president’s legal team presented the appeal to the Supreme Court, after the fourth chamber of the Federal Chamber of Criminal Cassation rejected this legal recourse, which made them present an appeal to the highest court in the country.

“The extraordinary appeal, whose denial motivated this complaint, is not directed against a final or comparable sentence,” states the sentence signed by the Supreme Court authorities.

“There are have already been 15 inquiries (against former President Fernandez). 12 ordered by Bonadío and 10 by Stornelli. Something unprecedented in Argentina’s judicial history,” stated former President CFK on her official Twitter account.

“Yes, the prosecutor who was photographed, filmed, recorded and caught on Whatsapp, with D’Alessio extorting businessmen in the “photocopies case,” did not show to trial, to give an investigatory statement in which these extortion maneuvers are investigated. He did not turn in his phone either.”

In Septembre 2018 and in December 2017 Judge Claudio Bonadio ordered pre-trial detention for former Argentine President and Senator Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner for another case of “illicit association.” The current case against CFK awaits trial by the Federal Oral Court No. 8.The origin is in the complaint of the late prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who denounced Cristina to use the memorandum with Iran to cover up the attack of the AMIA, which on July 18, 1994, 85 victims were charged.

Also on Thursday prosecutor Carlos Stornelli refused to give his statement in the case that investigates him for illegal association. This caused the indignation of former president and current Senator CFK, “Today Stornelli decided not to appear, to not give an investigatory statement in the judicial process in which he is accused, along with others, of being part of an illegal association for extortion and illegal espionage.”

According to CFK, “only during the dictatorships was a system so clearly exposed that the opponents of the regime have neither constitutional rights nor guarantees and the ruling parties all the political, judicial and media impunity.”

Argentina:  Roberto Guevara, Che’s brother, passed away

Source:  La Santa Mambisa

September 18 2018

By: Lois Pérez Leira.

He died on Saturday September 15 in Buenos Aires, at 86 years Roberto Guevara, brother of Che. Roberto was the fourth son of the Guevara de la Serna family.

As Ernesto and his other brothers he grew up in a progressive family. This influence will lead him to become involved in the Argentine left, even more so when his brother Ernesto “Che” Guevara becomes one of the Commanders of the Cuban Revolution.

His younger brother Juan Martín remembers his two brothers:  “Roberto and Ernesto were very close until adolescence. They moved with the same bar of friends. Roberto was not as touched or a vagabond as Ernesto. He was sedentary, reasonable. He was always a good student, he became a lawyer, he married a young girl with a good family Matilde Lezica, with whom he had five children; settled in San Isidro; Later, she separated, remarried and had two other children. Like every good lawyer, everything was done according to the rules. “

Just as Ernesto pursues a career in medicine to help sick people, Roberto dreams of defending the most needy, of the injustices that were committed and decides to study law.

Then upon receiving, he tries to put a study. The task was not easy, because it lacked resources. It is there that what was the “Nana” of the children of the Guevara, the “Gallega” Carmen Arias and her husband Alfredo Gabela, lends him the money to rent the office and furnish it. This Galician was the one that had given her the nickname “Tete” to Ernestito when they lived in the yerbatera plantation in Misiones.

The Guevara, despite the myths that they were from a wealthy family, were very far from that reality. They always lived as a middle class family, even impoverished.

Roberto manages to reunite with his brother the “Che”, when he made his trip to Punta del Este. There several of his brothers and relatives accompanied him during some days in Uruguay. This would be the last time both brothers saw each other. With the assassination of Ernesto Guevara in Bolivia in 1967, Roberto moved to this country on October 11, as a representative of the family and as a lawyer, in order to verify the truth of his death. The Bolivian military authorities hide the body and Roberto returns with many doubts about the veracity of his death. For this reason, he travels to Cuba and meets with Fidel Castro, who confirms that his brother was murdered on October 9.

During the 70s, he joined the PRT-ERP with his brother Juan Martín, an Argentine Guevarist organization run by Roberto Santucho.

Juan Martín was arrested on March 5, 1975, becoming hostage of the military after the coup d’état. During his prison, it was Roberto who practiced as his lawyer, at very difficult times, for those who defended political prisoners.

It was not until March 10, 1983 that he was released. While Roberto left for exile, after Videla’s coup d’etat. In these circumstances he was named Secretary General of the PRT, by one of the fractions in which this party was divided.

In October of 1981 Roberto is arrested in Mexico accused of participating in the kidnapping of the niece of the candidate for the presidency by the National Action Party (rightist), Pablo Emilio Madero. A few days later on October 28 he is released.

Upon returning from European exile, Roberto and his other companions founded the Movement in Defense of National Heritage (MODEPA). This small organization was closely linked to the Argentine Communist Party, forming part of the foundation of the People’s Front.

Since the death of Che the family made a pact of silence. Just a few years ago, Juan Martín became the family spokesperson. While Roberto and his sister Celia avoided any public declaration.

A few years ago breaking with this family commitment of silence, Roberto received me in his office in the Courts area, with the agreement previously agreed to speak only of the “Gallega” Carmen Arias. At that time I was making a documentary about the life of Che’s Nana. Another requirement was not to take pictures or film. Only record the audio of the interview.

As always in these cases, Che’s goblin was around in the interview.

In these last years I tried without luck, to be able to interview him again. As it happens in many cases, his death won me by the hand.

On behalf of the Guevarista International we tell you.

Roberto Guevara

Ever onward to victory.!!!!

US Interventions in Latin America Continue and Intensify

Source:  The Real News Network
May 6 2018

Transcript

GREG WILPERT: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Greg Wilpert coming to you from Quito, Ecuador.

Ten years ago, most of Latin America was governed by center-left progressive or even leftist governments. For example, Cristina Fernandez in Argentina, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, and Lula da Silva in Brazil, just as an example. And Hugo Chavez, of course, in Venezuela. Since then, the so-called ‘pink tide’ has receded quite dramatically. Of these 10 governments that were left of center, only four remain. Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia, Vazquez in Uruguay, and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. What happened? Some would argue that the U.S. played an important role in at least some of these changes.

Joining me to explore the role of the U.S. in Latin America is Mark Weisbrot. Mark is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and is the author of the book “Failed: What the Experts Got Wrong About the Global Economy.” He’s also the president of the organization Just Foreign Policy. Thanks for being here again, Mark.

MARK WEISBROT: Thanks, Greg. Thanks for having me.

GREG WILPERT: So before we get into the role of the U.S. in Latin America, it’s useful maybe to take a quick look at the impact that the leftist or center-left governments had on Latin America. What would you say were the main achievements or the main consequences of their governments in some of those countries?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, if you look at the region as a whole, the poverty rate dropped from 44 to 28 percent. That was from around 2003-2013. And that was after the two decades prior where poverty had actually increased, there was no progress at all. So that was a huge change, and it was accomplished in different countries in different ways. You know, there were large increases in public investment in Bolivia and Ecuador. In Brazil you had also some increase in public investment , big increases in the minimum wage. You know, every country did different things to help bring healthcare, and increase, in some countries, education, access to education. And there were a whole lot of reforms. Changes in macroeconomic policy. Getting rid of the IMF.

So there were a lot of different things that these governments did that prior governments were either unable or unwilling to do to improve people’s living standards during a period of higher economic growth, which they also contributed to.

GREG WILPERT: And so how has Latin America changed now since then, when right-wing governments took over most of the continent?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, you have different things that have changed. I mean, one is, of course, they’re implementing, as you would expect, right-wing reforms. Trying to cut pension system, the pension in Brazil, passing a constitutional amendment which, you know, even most economists in the world wouldn’t support in Brazil, which prohibits the government from increasing spending beyond the rate of inflation. You have, you know, huge increases in utility prices in Argentina, laying off thousands of public sector workers. So everywhere where the right has come back, you do have some regressive changes.

GREG WILPERT: And so how has the U.S. contributed to these changes, and what goals would you say is the U.S. pursuing in the area?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, I think the U.S. has contributed in so many ways it would take an hour at least to summarize just some of this history. But I think the U.S. has been involved in, in most of these countries in various ways. Obviously in Venezuela they’ve been involved since the coup in 2002, and they tried to overthrow the government and tried to help people topple the government on several occasions there. In Brazil they supported the coup against Dilma, the parliamentary coup. So they didn’t do that strongly, but they sent enough signals, for example, I’ve mentioned this before on this show, right as the House was voting to impeach Dilma without actually presenting a crime that she committed, the head of the Foreign Relations Committee from the Senate came and met with the number three official from the U.S. State Department, Tom Shannon. And then of course in August of that year, the Secretary of State John Kerry went down there and had a press conference with the Acting Foreign Minister Jose Serra. And they, of course, talked about how great relations with the U.S. were going to be before Dilma was actually removed from office. So these were ways of endorsing the coup.

And of course, the Department of Justice contributed to , the FBI, the Department of Justice contributed to the investigation that was instrumental in imprisoning Lula. Now, what they did in that investigation we don’t know exactly, but we do know enough about it to know that it wasn’t a neutral investigation. That is, the investigation did end up decapitating the Workers’ Party for now, first helping get rid of Dilma, but more importantly, or more substantially, in terms of its contribution, they they helped put Lula in prison and prevent him from running for office.

And in other countries, in Paraguay, the U.S. helped in the consolidation of that parliamentary coup by organizing within the Organization of American States. In Honduras is probably the biggest role that the U.S. has played, both in consolidating the military coup in 2009, Hillary Clinton acknowledged her role in making sure that President Zelaya, the democratically elected president, would not return to office, and then more recently in November they helped consolidate the results of an election which pretty much all observers regarded as stolen.

Those are just a few of the examples. I mean, I guess I didn’t even mention Argentina, where other branches of government were involved as well as the executive, but the executive cut off lending from multilateral development banks such as the Inter-American Development Bank, and tried to block loans at the World Bank, as well. And they restored everything as soon as the right-wing government was elected. And then there was Judge Griesa in New York, who took all of Argentina’s, over 90 percent of Argentina’s creditors, hostage in order to squeeze them so that the government would pay off the vulture funds. And this was very political, because he also lifted the injunction as soon as you had the right-wing government.

And I think this is very important, because obviously it’s not necessarily a conspiracy of all these branches of government. The legislative branch was involved in this as well, in the United States. But they all have the same mindset, and they’re all trying to get rid of these left governments, and they had a massive contribution. I mean, Argentina, that did contribute to the downfall of Cristina Kirchner. It contributed to balance of payments problems that they had there. So this was important, and it’s totally ignored here in the United States.

GREG WILPERT: And then why was it ignored in the United States? I mean, what is it about U.S. media coverage, and why is there so little coverage of U.S. role and Latin America?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, you know, maybe you should interview some of the reporters who cover it, if they’re willing to answer that question. I think that it’s it’s complicated in some ways, but in some ways it’s very simple. First of all, for U.S. intervention anywhere in the world they have a kind of a smoking gun standard. So you know, we have in our criminal justice system the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. But this is a much higher standard. So nothing is really discussed in terms of U.S. intervention unless it’s really a smoking gun, where they’re caught red-handed in a way that nobody could deny. And that almost never happens.

So in Venezuela, for example, in 2002 when you had the coup, you had State Department and CIA documents which documented the involvement of the United States. They helped fund and train the people who did the coup, and they made statements following the coup that they knew were false in order to help the coup consolidate itself, and they failed in that case. But you know, in Haiti in 2004, which I hadn’t even mentioned, they took the president and put him on a rendition plane, and flew him out of the country. That was in broad daylight.

But in any case, they have a story that’s not at all believable, and the press kind of accepts that and never looks back. Whenever they mentioned, you know, Chavez complained about the coup, and it was a major obvious source of bad relations with Venezuela, but they always just reported it as an allegation of a figure that they of course were discrediting at every turn.

So that’s kind of how they report all of these. When they report the facts at all, they put it in the context that makes it look like there wasn’t any intent, or any real effect of U.S. policy in the region. But mostly it’s like reporting on Ukraine and never mentioning Russia, you know, it’s as if the United States doesn’t have any real influence in the Americas, and of course anybody knows they have an enormous influence.

GREG WILPERT: So what would you say are some of the implications for the foreseeable future of this U.S. policy towards Latin America?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, right now, of course, they’re still involved. And you have intervention in Mexico, for example. U.S. officials have already said how worried they are that AMLO, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is the frontrunner in the upcoming election in July. And he’s probably going to win, but they’re already trying to undermine him, lobbying accusations of Russia involvement, which is the new trend. Of course, completely unsubstantiated. In Venezuela they’re doing something probably never done in the last 50 years, openly calling for a military coup, and actually a financial embargo they’ve put in place, and threatening even a worse embargo if they don’t get rid of the current government. So that’s, I think, a more aggressive form of intervention than you had even under the prior administrations.

And they’re pretty open about it. And again, most of the media seems to treat it as a non-issue. In fact, that’s actually a very important example, because there’s an election going to take place in a couple of weeks, and the media is pretending that it’s not really an election. But you have a credible opposition candidate who’s leading in the polls, and they’ve reached agreement with the government on a set of procedures which are similar to almost all the other elections they’ve had for hte last 20 years, and a set of guarantees, which of course, the candidate Falcon won’t recognize the election if they don’t follow them. So you have a real contested election, but the U.S. government has decided they don’t want that, and the hard-right opposition is in line with them, and so they’re all pretending there’s no election at all, because they’re committed to a strategy of violence, of regime change.

GREG WILPERT: OK. We’ll certainly continue to follow this, especially the U.S. role in Latin America. I was speaking to Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Thanks again, Mark, for joining us today.

MARK WEISBROT: Thank you, Gregory.

GREG WILPERT: And thank you for joining the Real News Network.

The End of Electoral Contests in Latin America?

Source:  La Santa Mambisa

March 12 2018

by Alfredo Serrano Mancilla

(Translated by Keith Ellis)

the end of electoral politics.jpeg The contest in Latin America is no longer primarily electoral. The conservative rollback has other mechanisms that are not necessarily the ballot box. The chosen route is almost always something else.  Each case is different: it all depends on the country in question.  They use one tool or another depending on the scenario and on what tools are available.

Each context determines the method of intervention chosen to block or eliminate the progressive forces.  If they still have control of the Judicial Power, that path is used to proceed against them.  If what they enjoy is Legislative Power, a parliamentary coup is what is resorted to.  And always, wherever it may be, Economic Power and the Power of the Media act in unison.  The first will use all its weapons to disrupt whatever economic and social equilibrium has been achieved; and the second will undermine the image with falsehoods or fake news that end up being part of the destructive common sense.  And from this list of powers the Power of the “International Community” is never missing, for it is always ready to apply all the possible forms of pressure to delegitimize progressive options, whenever they can, or legitimize undemocratic options that are suitable for their interests.

  • In Brazil, the stupid judicial excuse they are putting forward shows that they are clearly not going to allow Lula to take part in the elections. Before that, they had already removed Dilma from the presidency, by means of a parliamentary coup using the ridiculous pretext of “fiscal manipulation.”  Judicial and Legislative Powers, together with Economic and Media Powers, and with the power of international complicity, are all combined for a “win” without them having to go through polls.  Temer governs as a democrat despite not having to present himself as a presidential candidate.
  • Ecuador, a different scenario and different methods. Correa’s successor was used to prevent his party, the “Revolution of the Citizenry,” from continuing in power.  Thanks to a pact between the current president Lenin and the old democratic party, there was an agreement made, without consulting the Constitutional Court, that had the sole objective of preventing Correa from participating in a new presidential contest. Thus, a new model: the rollback from within.  The opposition took part in the elections and lost.  But that was no obstacle to its winning the political battle, thanks to the resentment—of Lenin and of a certain part of his party—against Correa.  The banking sector and all the media joined the new rollback consensus with the intention of ending the progressive cycle embodied in the figure of Correa.
  • In Argentina, there was quite a notable communicational and economic onslaught, but the electoral route was sufficient to put an end to the Kirchner period. The opposition had an advantage: Scioli, her successor, not Cristina, was the candidate.  The opposition just barely won.  And then quickly brought on judicial arrests, open trials, biased press coverage.  It is still too early to know how the presidential dispute will turn out in 2019.  But if it is necessary to prevent Cristina, or any other potentially winning candidate, from contesting the election, let no one doubt that the attempt will be made to do it in a judicial or parliamentary way.
  • In Venezuela everything is being amplified.  The latest development has been the most evident: the opposition has definitely decided not to participate in the elections.  It has thus demonstrated that it has no interest in the electoral route for achieving political power.  In fact, in this country, in 2002, an orthodox coup d’état was attempteda running unconventional coup has been tried, along with a sustained high-intensity economic war (via prices and shortages); there has been violence in the street causing many deaths; social uprising has been tried in order to overthrow the president; there have been US decrees, threats and a blockade; the whole gang has been deployed (OAS, European Parliament, Lima Group, Mercosur, Country Risk, International Banking). And now, finally, they have the idea of not participating in elections.  Strange democrats these, who do not believe in democratic rules when they anticipate losing.  The interesting thing about this case is that in Venezuela, the current government is fully aware that the field of dispute is as much in the electoral as in other areas.  And this allows Maduro to be a “survivor” in this new phase.
  • In Bolivia,something similar happened.  The recall referendum was obstructed by a reality show that hurt the popularity of Evo.  The heavy artillery will come ahead of the presidential election in 2019.  However, the president has understood for some time, since the attempts at democratic interruption at the stage of the Constituent Assembly, that this dispute is multifaceted. It does not mean that it will be easy, and everything is possible from now on.  But so far, Evo aims to be the other “survivor” to this rollback onslaught.  He has overcome the last great obstacle: finding the legal mechanism that would allow him to stand for re-election.  He was aware that, because of it, he would be criticized, but he preferred this to putting in jeopardy the continuity of the project.  It was a wise decision to continue moving forward with the approval of the Bolivian people.

We are definitely facing another historical phase of the 21st century in this “Contested Latin America”. The electoral aspect counts, but it is not the only path chosen in order to end the progressive cycle.  Some have always known it, and others have learned it by having suffered it in their own experience. The field of political dispute is more and more complex: votes are necessary, but so are economic, media, legislative, judicial and international power. And military power, although it seems a matter of the past, we should never ignore it, because it is always more present than we imagine.

Resisting US Military Bases and Pentagon Strategies in Latin America

Source teleSur
by James Patric Jordan


The anti-bases movement in Latin America is strong and a manifestation of the people’s will.

Bolivar’s prophetic words

simon bolivar 2.jpg

Statue of Simon Bolivar in Kingston, Jamaica

“The United States appear to be destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.” Those words were written by Simón Bolivar, 189 years ago. The Great Liberator understood that liberation and the U.S.’ concept of liberty are not the same. When imperialists talk about liberty, they mean access to land, water, and other natural resources for private development and profit.

Six years before Bolivar penned his prescient words, the Monroe Doctrine said to European governments that any attempt to interfere in Latin America would be deemed “dangerous to our peace and safety….. we could not view any interposition…by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.”

Ana Esther Ceceña, in a piece published by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Defense in 2013, describes the objectives of the United States in Latin America and the world. She says the U.S. has “two general objectives: to guarantee the maintenance of capitalism and within it, the primacy of the United States; and to guarantee the availability of all the riches of the world as the material base for the functioning of the system, assuring that its hierarchies and dynamics of power are maintained.”

By emphasizing this interference as “an unfriendly disposition toward the United States,” the Monroe Doctrine portrayed Latin American independence within a context of U.S. interests and influence. Since the establishment of the Monroe Doctrine, U.S. history in Latin America has been marked by invasions and occupations and proxy wars and outright theft of land such as occurred in the War against Mexico.

This has made it difficult for the U.S. to establish full-on military bases in Latin America. The Mexican public especially maintains an aversion to U.S. military presence within its borders. Unfortunately, the country’s oligarchy ignores this aversion and betrays the people’s national pride.

US bases in Latin America

Nevertheless, the U.S. has been successful in establishing bases in several countries throughout Latin America, with formally recognized bases in El Salvador, occupied Cuba, Aruba, Curacao, Antigua and Barbuda, Andros Island in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and even a micro-base, or “Lily Pad” in Costa Rica that the Costa Rican government officially denies.

However, until recently, the momentum had been against U.S. bases. Starting in 1999, when the U.S. lost the Howard Air Base in Panama, the number of U.S. bases had steadily declined. In 2008 the Colombian government had agreed to grant U.S. access to seven bases, but this was struck down by the constitutional court in 2010. The reality is that the U.S. continues to access and use these bases based on other agreements. The court decision was against a permanent foreign presence, but “permanency” is a somewhat amorphous concept open to interpretation. It is safe to say that U.S. access to these bases is relatively unfettered and continuous.

Booted out of Ecuador

And in 2008 the government of Ecuador booted the U.S. from its Manta base. Ernesto Samper, head of Unasur (the Union of South American Nations) has said that U.S. military bases should “leave the continent”.

Now the pendulum is swinging the other way, which is one reason we need this anti-bases movement. The coup in Honduras in 2009 occurred shortly after the elected president Manuel Zelaya had proposed converting the Palmerola (or Soto Cano) Air Force Base into a civilian airport. The U.S. and Honduras had both used the base since the 80s when it was an important component of the Contra war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Since the coup, the U.S. has undertaken new construction on the base and increased the number of troops, including stationing some 250 U.S. Marines there. Today there are more than 1,300 U.S. military and civilian employees, dwarfing the population of 300 persons at the Honduran Air Force Academy. Also since the coup, the U.S. military has built a base at Catarasca in Honduras’ Mosquitia region, and in Guanaja, the U.S. Navy has built a facility for the Honduran Navy that reportedly hosts both US and Honduran aircraft.

Peru, Brazil, Argentina – growing closer to US military

And that is just Honduras. At the end of 2016, Peru’s regional government in Amazonas approved a partnership with SouthCom, the U.S. military’s Southern Command, and Pentagon Contratistas to build a new base in that country.

With the legislative coup against the government of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and the right wing electoral victory in Argentina, both those countries are growing closer to the U.S. military, showing an openness to new U.S. military bases. Brazilian President Michel Temer has invited the U.S. to use the Alcantara missile and rocket launching base. (Samuel Pinheiro Guimaraes, Brazil’s former General Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Strategic Affairs, posits that “The Americans’ main objective is to have a military base in Brazilian territory with which it can exercise its sovereignty outside the laws of the Brazilian authorities…. The location of Alcantara in the Brazilian northeast facing West Africa is ideal for the United States for its political and military operations in South America and Africa.”).

In Argentina, neoliberal President Mauricio Macri reached an agreement with the U.S. in May, 2016, to let the U.S. build two bases, one in Tierra del Fuego and the other, the Guaraní base, on the triple border of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, in the area of the world’s largest reservoir of drinkable, fresh water.

Speaking of water and natural resources, if we look at how the bases and military activities and presences are spread throughout Latin America, we can see that they are located in and around concentrations of mineral and oil deposits, big agribusiness centers, and large reservoirs of water. The combined water resources of Brazil, Colombia, and Peru dwarf the resources of the next most water-rich countries and regions.

Despite these setbacks, the anti-bases movement in Latin America is strong and a manifestation of the people’s will. Furthermore, these bases not only threaten Latin America and especially Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, and the ALBA countries that form a bulwark against U.S. interventionism. They threaten the world. From the Palenquero base in Colombia – one of the seven Colombia bases where the U.S. is constantly… but not “permanently”… present, with no or just one refueling stop, jets can reach any country in Latin America, as well as Africa and the Middle East.

Only one component

The presence of U.S. military bases is only one component of the infrastructure of Empire. We know that U.S. military invasions, occupations, base constructions and accords are almost always followed by the passage of laws undermining traditional farming, the diversion of water resources, the exploitation of mineral and oil wealth, the militarization of police and borders, and the construction of and redesign of penitentiary systems on a U.S. mass incarceration model.

In terms of U.S. military activities in Latin America, the issue of the bases is really the tip of the iceberg. We must also consider the reactivation of the 4th Fleet in the Caribbean, the rapid increase in joint military exercises throughout the hemisphere which often result in the deployment of temporary, and therefore mobile, bases, and the constant flow of military advisors. One of the most effective methods to get around the anti-bases movement is via what might be called a puppet sovereignty, wherein nations pursue activities, policies, and accords that appear independent of the U.S. but in reality further U.S. strategies and designs.

Ana Cecena writes about how the Pentagon’s global command system guarantees “… a more detailed supervision of the lands, seas, glaciers, and populations that make up the Earth in its entirety.” These commands effectively put the militaries and security apparatuses of most other nations under the coordination of the Pentagon.

The testing ground for puppet sovereignty

These “Commands” only represent one aspect of this phenomenon. As is so often the case, Colombia is the testing ground for this puppet sovereignty. For instance, in 2012, the U.S. and Colombia signed an agreement of military cooperation that has had Colombia undertaking joint patrols with the U.S. in Central America and West Africa. The U.S. has promoted a partnership between NATO and Colombia. Colombia has become heavily involved in the training of military, police, court, and prison personnel around the world.

Over the last decade, Colombia has trained well over 25,000 persons in other countries. Half have been in Mexico, with the other leading recipients being Honduras, Guatemala, and Panama. It must be added that when we speak of “puppet sovereignty,” this is not meant to imply that the Colombian military is less capable or less professional than their U.S. military colleagues. Clearly, Colombian military personnel are quite educated and experienced in their craft and equal to their U.S. counterparts. In fact, the U.S. has spent billions of dollars in tax monies precisely to ensure the development of the Colombian military as a highly effective stand-in for U.S. objectives.

General John Kelly is President Donald Trump’s current Chief of Staff and was formerly head of Homeland Security. Before that, he was the commander of Southcom. Testifying before the U.S. Congress on April 29, 2014, Kelly made a startlingly honest and revealing statement: “The beauty of having a Colombia – they’re such good partners, particularly in the military realm…. When we ask them to go somewhere else and train the Mexicans, the Hondurans, the Guatemalans, the Panamanians, they will do it almost without asking. And they’ll do it on their own… That’s why it’s important for them to go because I’m–at least on the military side–restricted from working with some of these countries because of limitations that are, that are really based on past sins. And I’ll let it go at that.”

A model 

The U.S.-Colombia relationship has been so successful, it has become a model for U.S. relations with Mexico. This includes the development of Plan Mexico and the North American Alliance for Security and Prosperity, a military accord that binds Canada and Mexico more closely to the Pentagon.

The Mexican military has a history of nonintervention internationally. But at a conference in October 2016, Rebecca Chavez, Deputy Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs during the Obama administration and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, revealed that “Both the United States and Mexico…have taken steps that have resulted in a transformation of the strategic relationship.” Chavez explained that Mexico as the 15th largest economy in the world, has a growing role in world affairs, including the military sphere. She noted that Mexico has expanded its military mission with attaches in Indonesia, Iran, Egypt, South Africa, and several other countries and that it participated in peacekeeping missions in Haiti and Lebanon. Chavez sites Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for reevaluating the role of the Mexican military, saying, “Even before the shift, Mexico engaged in approximately 40 external activities to support around 25 different partners…. Our first step has been to expand the dialogue and relationship from just a narrow internal security focus… Other potential areas of cooperation are Central America and working together to strengthen the Inter-American Defense System.”

It is a very good idea for us to participate in the global movement against foreign U.S. and NATO military bases. But any victories we win will be short-sighted if we don’t connect to the larger movement against imperialism and for liberation. The designs of the Pentagon are adaptable. Military agreements, joint exercises, coordinated commands, are among the ways to augment and even replace the expansion of foreign bases.

Liberation from Empire

Ultimately, our struggle against foreign bases must be part of an even larger and overarching struggle, the struggle for liberation from Empire. If we get rid of the bases, but not the Empire, we are merely changing its forms. In the final analysis, the only answer is to shake off the yoke of U.S./capitalist domination and put something better in its place, that is with participatory democracy and socialism.
Whenever we raise the cry of No More Bases, then let us answer that cry with a shout of solidarity with Venezuela, solidarity with Cuba, solidarity with Bolivia, solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico and every occupied territory – solidarity with every popular movement and government that stands in the way of the forward march of Empire until that Empire is utterly and completely dismantled.

The anti-bases movement in Latin America is strong

Despite these setbacks, the anti-bases movement in Latin America is strong and a manifestation of the people’s will. Furthermore, these bases not only threaten Latin America and especially Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, and the ALBA countries that form a bulwark against U.S. interventionism. They threaten the world. From the Palenquero base in Colombia – one of the seven Colombia bases where the U.S. is constantly… but not “permanently”… present, with no or just one refueling stop, jets can reach any country in Latin America, as well as Africa and the Middle East.

The military bases is only one component

The presence of U.S. military bases is only one component of the infrastructure of Empire. We know that U.S. military invasions, occupations, base constructions and accords are almost always followed by the passage of laws undermining traditional farming, the diversion of water resources, the exploitation of mineral and oil wealth, the militarization of police and borders, and the construction of and redesign of penitentiary systems on a U.S. mass incarceration model.

The reactivation of the 4th Fleet in the Caribbean

In terms of U.S. military activities in Latin America, the issue of the bases is really the tip of the iceberg. We must also consider the reactivation of the 4th Fleet in the Caribbean, the rapid increase in joint military exercises throughout the hemisphere which often result in the deployment of temporary, and therefore mobile, bases, and the constant flow of military advisors. One of the most effective methods to get around the anti-bases movement is via what might be called a puppet sovereignty, wherein nations pursue activities, policies, and accords that appear independent of the U.S. but in reality further U.S. strategies and designs.

Ana Cecena writes about how the Pentagon’s global command system guarantees “… a more detailed supervision of the lands, seas, glaciers, and populations that make up the Earth in its entirety.” These commands effectively put the militaries and security apparatuses of most other nations under the coordination of the Pentagon.

US, NATO and Colombia

These “Commands” only represent one aspect of this phenomenon. As is so often the case, Colombia is the testing ground for this puppet sovereignty. For instance, in 2012, the U.S. and Colombia signed an agreement of military cooperation that has had Colombia undertaking joint patrols with the U.S. in Central America and West Africa. The U.S. has promoted a partnership between NATO and Colombia. Colombia has become heavily involved in the training of military, police, court, and prison personnel around the world.

Over the last decade, Colombia has trained well over 25,000 persons in other countries. Half have been in Mexico, with the other leading recipients being Honduras, Guatemala, and Panama. It must be added that when we speak of “puppet sovereignty,” this is not meant to imply that the Colombian military is less capable or less professional than their U.S. military colleagues. Clearly, Colombian military personnel are quite educated and experienced in their craft and equal to their U.S. counterparts. In fact, the U.S. has spent billions of dollars in tax monies precisely to ensure the development of the Colombian military as a highly effective stand-in for U.S. objectives.

General John Kelly is President Donald Trump’s current Chief of Staff and was formerly head of Homeland Security. Before that, he was the commander of Southcom. Testifying before the U.S. Congress on April 29, 2014, Kelly made a startlingly honest and revealing statement: “The beauty of having a Colombia – they’re such good partners, particularly in the military realm…. When we ask them to go somewhere else and train the Mexicans, the Hondurans, the Guatemalans, the Panamanians, they will do it almost without asking. And they’ll do it on their own… That’s why it’s important for them to go because I’m–at least on the military side–restricted from working with some of these countries because of limitations that are, that are really based on past sins. And I’ll let it go at that.”

Mexico

The U.S.-Colombia relationship has been so successful, it has become a model for U.S. relations with Mexico. This includes the development of Plan Mexico and the North American Alliance for Security and Prosperity, a military accord that binds Canada and Mexico more closely to the Pentagon.

The Mexican military has a history of nonintervention internationally. But at a conference in October 2016, Rebecca Chavez, Deputy Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs during the Obama administration and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, revealed that “Both the United States and Mexico…have taken steps that have resulted in a transformation of the strategic relationship.” Chavez explained that Mexico as the 15th largest economy in the world, has a growing role in world affairs, including the military sphere. She noted that Mexico has expanded its military mission with attaches in Indonesia, Iran, Egypt, South Africa, and several other countries and that it participated in peacekeeping missions in Haiti and Lebanon.

Chavez sites Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for reevaluating the role of the Mexican military, saying, “Even before the shift, Mexico engaged in approximately 40 external activities to support around 25 different partners…. Our first step has been to expand the dialogue and relationship from just a narrow internal security focus… Other potential areas of cooperation are Central America and working together to strengthen the Inter-American Defense System.”

It is a very good idea for us to participate in the global movement against foreign U.S. and NATO military bases. But any victories we win will be short-sighted if we don’t connect to the larger movement against imperialism and for liberation. The designs of the Pentagon are adaptable. Military agreements, joint exercises, coordinated commands, are among the ways to augment and even replace the expansion of foreign bases.

Not just the bases, but liberation from the Empire

Ultimately, our struggle against foreign bases must be part of an even larger and overarching struggle, the struggle for liberation from Empire. If we get rid of the bases, but not the Empire, we are merely changing its forms. In the final analysis, the only answer is to shake off the yoke of U.S./capitalist domination and put something better in its place, that is with participatory democracy and socialism.

Whenever we raise the cry of No More Bases, then let us answer that cry with a shout of solidarity with Venezuela, solidarity with Cuba, solidarity with Bolivia, solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico and every occupied territory – solidarity with every popular movement and government that stands in the way of the forward march of Empire until that Empire is utterly and completely dismantled.

James Patrick Jordan is the National Co-Coordinator, Alliance for Global Justice and member of the People’s Human Rights Observatory-PHRO. This article was given as a presentation given at the No Foreign U.S. and Nato Bases Conference. Anahit Aharonian, a PHRO member from Uruguay, provided important background material and edited the Spanish version.