Brazil Protests Execution of Rights Activist Marielle Franco

Source:  TeleSUR
March 18 2018

While the World Social Forum is taking place in Brazil this week, thousands of Brazilians marched to protest the execution of Marielle Franco, a prominent social leader, human rights activist and councilwoman.

Franco was shot and killed in Rio de Janeiro Wednesday night by unknown gunmen along with her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes, while her advisor was injured.

One of Brazil’s prominent defenders of human rights

Being a young Black Brazilian who grew up in a favela, Franco became one of Brazil’s prominent defenders of human rights, focusing on the impoverished favelas that are often the target of gang and militias violence.

The day before she was murdered, Marielle complained about the violence in the city in a post on her personal Twitter account. In the post, she questioned the action of the Military Police. “One more homicide of a young man who may be coming in for the PM’s account… How many more will have to die for this war to end?”

brazil protests 1.jpg

After Marielle was murdered, people attending the forum and Brazil’s
population marched against violence demanding justice.  Photo:Mídia NINJA

brazil protests marielle 2.jpg

Your blood on the floor will not go unpunished! Thousands of people are now in
the square in Rio de Janeiro to protest against violence and war that kills black
and poor people every day and also their leadership. Justice for the death of
Marielle Franco and Anderson Gomes. #Mariellepresente.  Photo:Mídia NINJA

More photos:  Brazil protests Execution of Rights Activist Marielle Franco 

Brazil Activists, Politicians React to ‘Barbaric’ Assassination of Marielle Franco

Source:  TeleSUR
March 15 2018

  • Marielle Franco, a Black activist and city councilwoman in Rio de Janeiro, was assassinated on her way home last night.
 Marielle Franco, a Black activist and city councilwoman in Rio de Janeiro,
was assassinated on her way home last night.
| Photo: Twitter / @mariellefranco
Black activist and city councilwoman Marielle Franco was killed, along with her driver, on her way home from an event in central Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil’s Workers’ Party, or PT, of Rio de Janeiro released a public statement condemning the assassination of 38-year-old Black activist and city councilwoman Marielle Franco in central Rio de Janeiro Wednesday night.

RELATED: Brazilian Rights Activist Marielle Franco Assassinated in Rio

The statement said the leftist party “expresses great sorrow for the tragedy” that occurred last night. “Marielle, a combative councilwoman and activist for human rights and social equality, leaves us precariously” within the “struggle in favor of the people and a just, equitable society.”

PT Congressman, Wadih Damous, wrote on his Twitter account that “Marielle was executed. The assassination was consummated today but it’s the result of a plot forged by the barbaric nature that has taken hold of Brazil. Under fascism, extermination groups act in complete freedom. Meanwhile, the military intervention (in Rio de Janeiro state) search book sacks of kids who live in favelas.”

A member of the Socialism and Liberty Party, or PSOL, Franco was returning home from an event called “Young Black People Moving the Structures” in Lapa neighborhood when, according to witnesses, her vehicle was approached by another car. At least nine bullets were fired, killing the councilwoman and her driver. Her advisor, Fernanda Chaves, who was also in the vehicle, survived the attack.

PSOL also released a public statement saying that Franco’s “activities as a councilwoman and human rights activist makes all PSOL militants proud.” It went on to note that the left-wing party demands an “immediate and rigorous” investigation by authorities to discover the culprits and motives involved.

RELATED:  After Rio, Brazil’s Temer Weighs Military ‘Coup’ Intervention in More States

Franco’s assassination comes two weeks after she was named a rapporteur in the special commission established by the city council to monitor the military intervention in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Three days ago she denounced the deaths of two youths during a military police operation in Acari community.

“We must speak loudly so that everybody knows what is happening in Acari right now. The 41st Military Police Battalion of Rio de Janeiro is terrorizing and violating Acari residents. This week two youths were killed and tossed in a ditch. Today, the police walked the streets threatening residents. This has always happened and with the (military) intervention things have gotten worse,” she wrote on her Twitter.

Protests have been organized in the cities of Recife, Belem, Salvador, Natal, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Juiz de Fora, Porto Alegre, Florianopolis, Curitiba and elsewhere to condemn Franco’s killing.

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.

‘Black Panther’ Galvanizes Afro-Brazilians to Take on Segregation

Source:  TeleSUR
February 26 2018

black panther movie and brazil.pngA man greets Manoel Seabra, 94, a descendant of African slaves, during a
Afro-Brazilian culture celebration marking .the anniversary of the abolition
of slavery in Brazil. | Photo: Reuters

Activists planned a ‘Rolezinho’ protest, which translated to ‘Black Stroll’ in a mall in the white Brazilian neighborhood, Leblon, surrounded by slums.

Disney-Marvel’s “Black Panther” movie which has gained traction for its empowering notes on Black power ruled the box office for the second weekend collecting a whopping US$108 million at over 4,000 U.S. locations, but the movie’s reach and power is uplifting Black and Brown communities worldwide.

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In Brazil, the organizers of the Black collective, “Coletivo Preto” along with the Grupo Emu, which “investigates black aesthetics as a theatrical language, conciliating a dialogue of the racial question with contemporaneity” marked their protest against the deeply entrenched segregation plaguing the nation which has a rich Black history.

On Feb. 19, activists planned a “Rolezinho,” a form of protest by the Afro-Brazilian communities which roughly translates to “Black Stroll”, in a mall in the white Brazilian neighborhood, Leblon, which is surrounded by favelas, or slums, like Vidigal, Rocinha, Cruzada, and Cantagalo.

Lucinio Januar, an Afro-Brazilian actor, told the Intercept, “When we come here we almost never see any of our people in this kind of place. It’s as though the place was only meant for white people. So when we have a film written by a Black man, with Black actors and Black producers, we felt it is our duty to occupy this space, so we could serve as an example.”

“It makes me want to win, it makes me want to fight, it makes me like myself more, like my skin tone, like my kind of my hair, like the shape of my nose … Because you start to see people who are like you … empowered, happy with themselves, and you start to like yourself more. And you see there’s nothing wrong with you. That really Black is beautiful, Black is capable, Black is incredible, and Blackness needs to be respected,” one of the Afro-Brazilian actors told the Intercept.

Such Black-led protests have been prevented in the past. The Intercept quoted an unidentified person during a 2014 interview by EFE Brasil, after an impeded ‘Rolezinho’ outside of Shopping Mall, Leblon.

“I think that the rolezinhos reveal how racist the Brazilian society and elite actually are. They reveal a fear that is unjustifiable. They reveal that as long as Brazilian racism is able to ‘keep everyone in their places’ there is no problem. The problem is, since the ‘90s, thanks to the efforts of the Black movement, Blacks have begun to enter into spaces that they hadn’t previously occupied.”

According to a survey by the National Cinema Agency, Ancine, Black people constitute only 7 percent of professionals in the film industry in Brazil, a country with extremely rich African heritage.

In Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and biggest film industry, people in large numbers went to watch the movie sporting ethnic gear. “Black Panther is a film that celebrates black excellence. Bringing it to Nigeria is especially exciting,” Bolaji Kekere-Ekun, a 33-year-old filmmaker, told Reuters.

Aleida Guevara: “In Cuba, the people are the only masters we serve”

Source:  The Dawn
October 2017

aleida guevara jan 208.jpgPhoto Credit: El Diario

Interview with Aleida Guevara March (1)

Interview conducted by Andrea Duffour *

-How is it that a Cuban doctor is taking part in humanitarian missions in Africa and taking interest in agrarian reforms in Brazil?

In Cuba doctors are educated to care for the people, the only master we serve. From the beginning of my career I accepted the international character of my calling and that is why it is normal that I should be prepared to go and work wherever I am needed.

Already for more than 25 years I have been working with the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement in Brazil, and I am very proud of it. As a Latin American woman I think it is one of the most consistent popular movements we have, and again, as a doctor, I think of the need for adequate nourishment, especially for the children. The agrarian reform is essential for the people to be able to feed themselves; it needs to turn into reality our dream of being owners of what we produce, free from theft and plunder of our natural resources.

-What role could Che and Fidel play in the cultural struggle between capitalism and socialism today?

Che and Fidel are examples of cultured men who knew the important role cultural education plays in the struggle for liberation. Knowledge frees you, enables you to understand what it is that you need, and what you can do to fulfill these needs. Their lives are inspiring examples that push us forward. If they could succeed, why shouldn’t we?

-“Crear riquezas con la conciencia, no conciencia con las riquezas “ (Create riches, with conscience, not conscience concerned only with wealth) said late Fernando Martinez Heredia (2), great expert on Che and Fidel, who we’ve just lost…

We should realize the dream of a human being aware of its membership in a specs, capable of practicing solidarity and not brutality, compassionate and not indifferent, capable of understanding that the greatest wealth is knowing how to share what we have, even, for example, smiles. We are trying to turn this dream into reality, but we are constantly being taught that every day of our life we should be more and more individualistic, and forget that by nature we are social beings, who live in community with others. What is worst, by doing so we are destroying our foundations and are heading for a void.

-The Late Francois Houtart (3) has analysed the concept of a good life, of the indigenous peoples of the Andes, el sumak kawsay, which has been incorporated into the constitution of Ecuador. Is there anything comparable in the thoughts of Che?

Che was very clear in his thoughts and very consistent. His entire life showed what he thought. He is the best communist I know; what was important for him, throughout his work, is the well being of mankind, well being with dignity; that is why we talk of the right to work, the right to decent living accommodations, free healthcare and education as the inalienable rights of all human beings. We talk of respect, knowing that it must be won through hard work and struggle against great opposition, but we must be prepared to defend it.

-How would you define a revolutionary?

I think that our Fidel defined the revolutionary when he created the concept of Revolution: he must possess understanding of ethics, honesty, compassion, respect for the people, dedication to his goal, and a great capacity for love.

-In the film, Cuba Si! (Chris Marker, 1961), young Fidel explains that the French must understand that political parties have not resolved a single major problem, and that dominant classes might be moving in the direction of fascism, while the revolution in Cuba is on the side of socialism. In view of the social situation in France today, has this claim lost any of its relevance?

It is important to know how the French people feel. Are they happy with what they have? Do they feel safe? How do they see their future?

I live in a different society that is not perfect but concentrates on human beings and allows us to grow up learning from our mistakes, as we do so correcting them.

There are no parties in our elections – there are only the people; that fact defines the candidates and the people are without doubt the greatest participants. Perhaps it would be good to analyse the role of people’s scrutiny of candidates they name from the left. I have considerable sympathies for the workers party of Belgium, which will grow because people are able to sense the coming change. The times we are living in require that we should have fate in people. They should be shown clearly what we want, and why it is important that we do so. What do we need? Education accessible to all, which we must not allow to be privatized. For our patients, free high quality health care for all. Why do you allow, in your countries, public hospitals to be closed, or not to function as they should, forcing people to take their health problems to the private sector? And housing? If your government provides you with these, and with much more than all these, then you are happy, because otherwise you would have to look for other solutions, and only you can do that.

-If that is the case, are we in Europe usurping the world socialist?

I do not want to be too strict, but whenever I am in these regions I do not see any unity, we allow ourselves the luxury of divisions. When we are so few, what the devil are we doing? Socialism means respect for different peoples, fulfilled lives, and more than anything else unity, otherwise where can we find the strength that we need to change reality?

-Some friends from Cuba tell me that you have only one party, but that it protects the interests of the people, and that in Europe there are many parties bearing different names, but that they all represent only one party, the party of capital.

I agree.

-Frei Betto said “We have to make up our mind whether we want to save the capitalist system, or mankind” (4). What are the alternatives to capitalism in the world today?

Since the disappearance of European socialism, especially the Soviet Union, capitalism has turned into the most unscrupulous and brutal system. It no longer has any competition close by, and it is therefore not interested in preserving the public health care system, and certainly not the free high quality education; social achievements that took decades of workers’ struggle to achieve are being privatized and the worst thing of all is the indifference of the working classes that preceded this…

Do you ask yourself why it is that the World Health Organization came to my country to ask for help in trying to control the Ebola epidemic? It is because my people are educated on ethical values, solidarity, dignity and love. That is the reason why Cuban doctors risk their lives, because we are aware that the sacrifice of one man or one people is not important, if what is at stake is the fate of mankind.

-Aleida, how do you see the Cuban youth, born with all the benefits of the Revolution and perhaps taking them all for granted?

It is necessary to work with the young continuously, it is necessary to listen to them and show them the way, but always by personal example! The young are our hope, but they are, unfortunately, always put under the greatest pressure by those who wish to do harm to the revolutionary process. It is important that all the necessary information reaches them and is available to them; for example, watching recently an excellent television program about the struggle against the bandits who revolted after the victory of the Revolution, they recognized themselves in their fathers and grandfathers who had taken part in the epopee of the Revolution. The young were full of respect and admiration for our peasants, our army and the militia. I believe it is a healthy youth, compassionate, hugely patriotic and with revolutionary inclinations.

-In December of 2016 I also asked Fernando Martinez Heredia is there any reason for concern about the possible disillusionment or de-politicization of Cuban youth, comparable to the one that affected the young in the West. The Cuban philosopher agreed that capitalism is working on de-politicization and debilitation of the masses, to make sure they do not have unified ideas but by imposition no ideas at all, but he reassured me that Cuban youth is critically inclined and prepared. After the physical disappearance of Commandant Fidel, he said, many spontaneously proclaimed: “I am Fidel”.

Our dear friend was a wise man….

We are moving forward and it is true that the pain of losing the great father of all Cubans is turning into strength and creative energy; one day we will have to be prepared to say to people like them: You are gone, knowing that there is no retreat from our Revolution. Be continent, we are continuing your work and the future is secure.

-How wonderful it is to hear these words!

In 1964 one journalist (5) on the Francophone Swiss television asked Che whether anything had changed in the relationship of the US and Western Europe to Cuba. I am asking you the same question.

No, they are still dreaming of annexing the great part of the Antilles and do not understand that it is better for us to drown in the sea than betray the glory that we have lived. If you look into the documents published by the US admiral at the time when Cuba was still a Spanish colony, you will see that they were using the same methods as today, economic and naval blockades that were to destroy the island through famine and disease, decimate the population and prepare it for a take it over, because they knew us to be rebellious and invincible people.

-Can we talk about the most recent attacks, for example, the attempts to co-opt the young students and revolutionaries in Cuba, or carry out a soft coup d’état as in Venezuela, organized as usual by the US in collaboration with our European media?

They are not new attacks. They simply continue, using money as a means of subversion, a strategy to which only people with no ethics succumb. We must be aware of the strength of the enemy, Che said; North American imperialism must not be trusted at all. The case of Venezuela is a different matter; it is evidence of despair and proof that the people involved are completely without ethics. Can you imagine what it means to set fire to a children’s hospital? Can that be done by human beings? For my people, the life of a child is sacred. I do not understand and do not accept anything that jeopardizes the life of a child, so do not make me face such people because I would be in danger of losing control.

-How do the Cuban’s understand the Arab spring or the opposition in Syria?

First of all, we could ask any European how he would feel if the army of any country from the Third World interfered in their internal affairs. How would they feel if bombs started falling from the sky on their houses and hospitals? What would they think of the people who watch every day horrible scenes from those attacks and are unable to ask their governments to stop economic support for those responsible for those atrocities? The internal problems of a country can be solved only by its people and no one has the right to influence them. Our Benito Juarez has said “Respect for the rights of others means peace”. Manipulation of our lives and misinformation create confusion among people. Respect is essential; we can and we must live in peace.

-I have to ask you for help. Here in Europe we have lost all values and have become so poor that the only thing left to us is money. Che spoke of the creation of a new man (6) and of values not made of metal. How did you create this new man in Cuba? Is it possible to rise above one’s circumstances?

Dear friends, as Che has explained, the new man will never be a finished product; every time we improve society we must be prepared to improve ourselves as human beings; that would be the guarantee that everything that needs to be changed will change. That is our goal, and we are working on it.


* Andrea Duffour is member of the national Committee of the Friendship Association Switzerland – Cuba, http://www.cuba-si.ch

  1. (1)  Aleida Guevara is a medical doctor, allergy specialist, working at the William Soler Pediatric Hospital in Havana. Among other things she is the author of documentaries Chavez, Venezuela and the New Latin America (2004), Present Absences (2006), MST: Seed of Hope (2008), interview given to Joao Pedro Stédile, national leader of the Brazilian MST. She is the daughter of Aleida March and Che Guevara, and is the director of the Che Guevara Study Centre.
  2. (2)  Historian, essayist, philosopher, at the University of Havana, director of the Cuban magazine Critical Thought (Pensamiento Crítico). He died on June 12, 2017, several hours after completing his homage to Francois Houtart.
  3. (3)  Francois Houtart: cuba-si.ch/apres-le-capitalisme-quelles-alternatives-pourquoi-je-soutiens- lexperience-cubaine
  1. (5)  rts.ch/archives/tv/interview-du-che J.Dulmur, only interview in French,esp: cubadebate.cu/especiales/2017/06/16/entrevista-inedita-al-che-guevara-en-frances-1964
  2. (6)  Text by Che Guevara, written in the form of a letter in 1964, published as Socialism and Man in Cuba.

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.

Cuba expresses solidarity with Lula

Source:  Granma

January 25, 2018

declaracion minix cuba

Photo: Enviada por Ively Valdés Marfil

Ministry of Foreign Affairs releases statement regarding ruling by Brazilian court on conviction of former President and leader of the Workers’ Party, Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has learned of the ruling by a second level Brazilian court on the conviction of former President and leader of the Workers’ Party, Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterates its support and solidarity with Lula, who has been the object of fierce political and judicial persecution, directed toward preventing his candidacy in Presidential elections.

Lula caravan of hope 4

Former President and leader of the Workers’ Party, Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva campaigning for the upcoming elections