Puebla Group Celebrates Triumph of Gustavo Petro in Colombia

Source: TeleSUR

May 30 2022

Gustavo Petro (L) and Francia Marquez (R), May, 2022. | Photo: Twitter/ @GreenLeftOnline

His victory fills Latin America with hope. The people begin to breathe new airs of dialogue, social equality, and integration,” it said.

On Monday, the Puebla Group welcomed the victory of the Historical Pact candidates Gustavo Petro and Francia Marquez in the first round of the Colombian elections held on May 29. In a statement entitled “Long live Colombia!, the one that begins to live ‘tasty’ from today,” the Latin American intellectuals and politicians described their victory as an expression of “the hopes of change of Colombian progressivism.”

The Puebla Group also celebrated “the democratic spirit and the civic and peaceful will that was expressed on election day, especially due to their participation levels.”

The victory of Historical Pact candidates reflects “the enormous work of young people who dream of a new Colombia, where all the men and women excluded be recognized,” it added.

The Puebla Group also invited to respect the results of the elections in order to “build a fair, democratic, and peaceful Colombia” because the “victory of Gustavo Petro fills Latin America with hope. The people begin to breathe new airs of dialogue, social equality, and integration.”

Prior to the first round, progressive Latin American leaders demanded that President Ivan Duque provide security and stop questioning the legitimacy of the electoral process.

The Puebla Group was founded in 2019 by over 40 progressive Latin American leaders. They include President Alberto Fernandez (Argentina) and former presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva (Brazil), Jose Mujica (Uruguay), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Ernesto Samper (Colombia), Evo Morales (Bolivia). Spain, Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Martin Torrijos (Panama), and Leonel Fernandez (Dominican Republic).

2021 Latin America and the Caribbean in Review: The Pink Tide Rises Again

Photo: Bill Hackwell

Source: Internationalist 360

January 1 2022

By Roger D. Harris

US policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean continued in a seamless transition from Trump to Biden, but the terrain over which it operated shifted left. The balance between the US drive to dominate its “backyard” and its counterpart, the Bolivarian cause of regional independence and integration, continued to tip portside in 2021 with major popular electoral victories in Chile, Honduras, and Peru. These follow the previous year’s reversal of the coup in Bolivia.

Central has been the struggle of the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America) countries – particularly Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua – against the asphyxiating US blockade and other regime-change measures. Presidential candidate Biden pledged to review Trump’s policy of US sanctions against a third of humanity. The presumptive intention of the review was to ameliorate the human suffering caused by these unilateral coercive measures, considered illegal under international law. Following the review, Biden has instead tightened the screws, more effectively weaponizing the COVID crisis.

Andean Nations

The unrelenting US regime-change campaign against Venezuela has had a corrosive effect on Venezuela’s attempt to build socialism. With the economy de facto dollarized, among those hardest hit are government workers, the informal sector, and those without access to dollar remittances from abroad.

Nonetheless, Venezuela’s resistance to the continued US “maximum pressure” hybrid warfare is a triumph in itself. Recent economic indicators have shown an upturn with significant growth in national food and oil production and an end to hyperinflationFurther, the government has built 3.7 million housing units, distributed food to 7 million through the CLAP program, and adroitly handled the COVID pandemic.

When Trump recognized Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela in 2019, the then 35-year-old US security asset had never run for a nationwide office and was unknown to over 80% of the Venezuelans. Back then some 50 of the US’s closest allies recognized Guaidó; now barely a dozen does so. Contrary to campaign trail inuendoes that Biden would enter into dialogue with the democratically elected president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, Biden has continued the embarrassing Guaidó charade.

The November 21 municipal and regional elections were a double triumph for Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution: the ruling Socialist Party (PSUV) won significantly while the extreme right opposition (including Guaidó’s party) was compelled to participate, implicitly recognizing the Maduro government.

Venezuelan special envoy Alex Saab was extradited – really kidnapped – to the US on October 16 on the vague and difficult to disprove charge of “conspiracy” to money launder. Swiss authorities, after an exhaustive 3-year investigation, had found no evidence of money laundering. Saab’s real “crime” was trying to bring humanitarian aid to Venezuela via legal international trade but circumventing the illegal US blockade. This egregious example of US extra-territorial judicial overreach is being contested by Saab’s legal defense because, as a diplomat, he has absolute immunity from arrest under the Vienna Convention. His case has become a major cause in Venezuela and internationally.

Meanwhile, Colombia, chief regional US client state, the biggest recipient of US military aid in the hemisphere,  and the largest world source of cocaine, is a staging point for paramilitary attacks on Venezuela. President Iván Duque continues to disregard the 2016 peace agreement with the guerrilla FARC as Colombia endures a pandemic of rightwing violence especially against human rights defenders and former guerillas.

On April 28, Duque’s proposed neoliberal tax bill precipitated a national strike mobilizing a broad coalition of unions, members of indigenous and Afro-descendent communities, social activists, and campesinos. They carried out sustained actions across the country for nearly two months, followed by a renewed national strike wave, starting on August 26. The approaching 2022 presidential election could portend a sea change for the popular movement where leftist Senator Gustavo Petro is leading in the polls.

In Ecuador, Andrés Arauz won the first-round presidential election on February 7 with a 13-point lead over Guillermo Lasso, but short of the 40% or more needed to avoid the April 13 runoff, which he lost. A victim of a massive disinformation campaign, Arauz was a successor of former President Rafael Correa’s leftist Citizen Revolution, which still holds the largest bloc in the National Assembly. The “NGO left,” funded by the US and its European allies, contributed to the electoral reversal. Elements of the indigenous Pachakutik party have allied with the new president, a wealthy banker, to implement a neo-liberal agenda.

In Peru, Pedro Castillo, a rural school teacher and a Marxist, won the presidency in a June 6 runoff against hard-right Keiko Fujimori, daughter of now imprisoned and former president Alberto Fujimori. Castillo won by the slimmest of margins and now faces rightwing lawfare and the possibility of a coup. Just a few weeks into his presidency, he was forced to replace his leftist foreign Minister, Hector Béjar, with someone more favorable to the rightwing opposition and the military.

In Bolivia, a US-backed coup deposed leftist President Evo Morales in 2019 and temporarily installed a rightist. Evo’s Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party successor, Luis Arce, took back the presidency last year in a landslide election. With the rightwing still threatening, a massive weeklong March for the Homeland of Bolivian workers, campesinos, and indigenous rallied in support of the government in late November.

Read full article here

‘Leftist Winds Blow through Latin America’: The Puebla Group

Source: TeleSUR

Published 30 November 2021

Ecuador’s ex-President Rafael Correa (C), Mexico City, Mexico, Nov. 30, 2021. | Photo: Twitter/ @tcanarte

The 2022 presidential elections in Colombia will mark not only the future of democracy but “the difference between peace and war,” former President Samper said.

During the summit held in Mexico City on Tuesday, the Puebla Group congratulated the election of Xiomara Castro as President of Honduras and expressed its confidence in the triumph of popular forces in the presidential elections in Chile and Brazil.

RELATED: Puebla Group’s Seventh Summit Starts In Mexico City

“Xiomara Castro will be the first female president in the history of Honduras. This is very important for Central America, a region that always has many social problems,” Spain’s former President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said.

Paraguay’s former President Fernando Lugo asserted that Castro’s triumph in Honduras cheered the entire continent as it brought with it a “gentle wind that hopefully will become a unstoppable hurricane.”

Rodriguez Zapatero also demonstrated his support for Chile’s leftist presidential candidate Gabriel Boric, who is likely to defeat the far-right candidate Jose Kast in the Dec. 19 run-off elections.

Referring to the presidential elections to be held in Brazil in 2022, the Spanish politician pointed out that “the victory of Lula da Silva will change the continent and the international order.”

Colombia’s former President Ernesto Samper stated that the 2022 presidential elections in his country will mark not only the future of democracy but “the difference between peace and war” in this South American country.

Founded in 2019, the Puebla Group brings together 54 progressive Ibero-American leaders and intellectuals. Also present at the Mexico City summit were former presidents Dilma Rousseff (Brazil) and Rafael Correa (Ecuador). Bolivia’s President Luis Arce and former President Lula da Silva took part by virtual media.

UN Rejects Persistent Attacks on Social Leaders in Colombia

Source: TeleSUR
July 15 2021

THE High Commissioner for Human Rights recorded 56 deaths and 49 alleged victims of rape in the context of last months’ national strike.

A demonstrator argues with a police officer, Popayan, Colombia, May. 14, 2021. | Photo: EFE

On Friday, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) addressed the political violence in the recent protests in Colombia where attacks and threats against human rights activists continued to climb.

RELATED:  Moise Assassination Was Planned in the Dominican Republic

Previously, Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) warned that the South American nation ranks second in the world in terms of violent deaths per day of protest.

UNSC members expressed concerns over “the constant sieges and assassinations” of ex-combatants, who are in the process of reinsertion.

They regretted the repression of the April-June strikes while urging a national dialogue to solve the political and social crisis. 

The UNSC insisted that President Ivan Duque’s government implement an action plan for guaranteeing women leaders, human rights defenders, and ex-combatants protection. 

The Council reiterated the calls for observing the 2016 Peace Accords, which comprehend a rural reform, inclusive political participation, and the fight against illicit drugs.

From April 28 to June 16, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 56 deaths, including 54 civilians and two police officers, and 49 alleged victims of sexual violence.

Colombia: Another Social Leader Killed in Nariño

Source: TeleSur
September 6 2020

 Relatives cry over a coffin of body of Sebastian Quintero, another victim in Samaniego, Colombia), August 17, 2020.

by Arnold August

Thus far this year, 205 social leaders have been killed in this Latin American country.

Indigenous organizations Saturday denounced the murder of Juan Pablo Prado, a social leader who was killed in the Municipality of Tumaco, Nariño Department.

RELATED:  Colombia: New Massacre in El Cauca Leaves 3 People Dead

According to Colombia’s  Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC), the social leader was killed near the school where he worked on September 6 by unidentified men who shot him at least three times. 

Francisco Cortez Guanga, governor of the Piguambí Palangana council said Prado had previously received death threats, and that he had been persecuted. 

“He was killed near the school, in the place where he arrived to park his car. He received death threats before, and in recent days he was a victim of persecution,” Piguambi Palangana Council’s governor Francisco Cortez

RELATED: Colombia: Armed Groups Kill Another Social Leader in Antioquia

“He supported the indigenous guard, he also supported various scenarios within the indigenous reservation. He was attentive to the mobilizations, he was a man who was fully involved in the dreams of the education of the AWA people and their reservation,” Cortez added.

Juan Pablo was originally from the Kokonuco Cauca community but arrived in the Awa Indigenous community various years ago to become a teacher. He first started out as a guide and a counselor for kids in the region. 

So far this year, 14 members of this Indigenous Community have been murdered and 205 social leaders have been killed in Colombia. 

Nicolas Maduro: To the Peoples of the World

March 29 2020

To the peoples of the world,

 

Nicolas Maduro 2016

In greeting you with affection, I take the liberty of addressing you on the occasion of denouncing the severe events taking place against the peace and stability of Venezuela, at a time when the concern of the States and Governments should be focused on the protection of the life and health of their citizens, due to the acceleration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As it is publicly known, last March 26, the government of the United States announced a very serious action against a group of high officials of the Venezuelan state, including the Constitutional President of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro.

This action consisted in the presentation of a formal accusation before the American judicial system, which is not only illegal in itself, but also seeks to support a false accusation of drug trafficking and terrorism, with the sole objective of simulating the alleged prosecution of the Venezuelan authorities.

This American performance includes the unusual offer of an international reward to anyone who provides information about the President and the high Venezuelan officials, leading to a dangerous moment of tension in the continent. I therefore consider it necessary to make an account of the facts, which reveal the perverse plot behind the accusations of the Department of Justice.

Just one day before, on March 25, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela denounced before national and international public opinion the development in Colombian territory of an operation aimed at attempting against the life of President of the Republic Nicolás Maduro Moros, his family members and high State officials; as well as attacking civil and military objectives in our country, accusing Mr. Cliver Alcalá, a retired general of the Venezuelan armed forces, of being the military chief of that operation.

This denunciation was made with all responsibility, after a control operation in the road to the north of Colombia, near the border with Venezuela, was announced on March 24, in which the police of that country captured a batch of war weapons in a civilian vehicle.

The investigations revealed that it was a sophisticated arsenal aimed at a group of former Venezuelan and Colombian military and paramilitary personnel who were training in camps located in Colombian territory.

On March 26, the aforementioned Cliver Alcalá, gave a statement to a Colombian media outlet – from his residence in the city of Barranquilla, Colombia – in which he confirmed his participation in the reported events, confessing to being the military leader of the operation and revealing that the weapons were purchased by order of Mr. Juan Guaidó, national deputy, who calls himself interim President of Venezuela and serves as Washington’s operator in the country. He also confirmed that the weapons were intended to carry out a military operation to assassinate senior members of the Venezuelan State and Government and to produce a coup d´état in Venezuela.

Mr. Alcalá clarified that the weapons were purchased through a contract signed by himself, Mr. Juan Guaidó, U.S. advisors and Mr. Juan José Rendón, political advisor to President Iván Duque, and carried out with the knowledge of Colombian government authorities.

In the face of this confession, the unusual response of the United States government has been the publication of the accusations mentioned at the beginning of this letter, with the extravagant inclusion of the name of Mr. Alcalá, as if he were part of the Venezuelan authorities and not a mercenary hired by the United States to carry out a terrorist operation against the Venezuelan government.

As a demonstration of this statement, I need no more proof than to mention the alleged capture of Mr. Alcalá by Colombian security forces and his immediate surrender to U.S. DEA authorities, in a curious act in which the prisoner, without handcuffs, was shaking hands with his captors, right in front of the stairs of the plane that would take him on a special VIP flight to the United States, which shows that in reality this whole set-up is about the rescue of someone they consider a U.S. agent.

It must be stressed that the unsuccessful armed operation was originally designed to be executed at the end of this month, while all of Venezuela is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Actually, this is precisely the main battle that concerns humanity today.

A battle that our nation is successfully waging, having managed to stop the contagion curve, reinforcing health provisions and keeping the population in a massive quarantine, with a low number of positive cases and deaths.

For all these reasons, the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela alerts our brothers and sisters of political organizations and social movements around the world about the reckless and criminal steps being taken by the administration of Donald Trump which, despite the frightening acceleration of the growth of COVID-19 affecting the American people, seems determined to deepen its policy of aggression against sovereign states in the region, and especially against the Venezuelan people.

During the pandemic, the U.S. government, instead of focusing on policies of global cooperation in health and prevention, has increased unilateral coercive measures, has rejected the requests from the international community to lift or make flexible medicines, medical equipment and food.

At the same time, it has banned humanitarian flights from the United States to Venezuela to repatriate hundreds of Venezuelans trapped in the economic and health crisis in the northern country.

By denouncing these serious facts, Venezuela ratifies its unwavering will to maintain a relationship of respect and cooperation with all nations, especially in this unprecedented circumstance that obliges responsible governments to work together and put aside their differences, as is the case with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under such serious circumstances, I request your invaluable support in the face of this unusual and arbitrary persecution, executed through a new version of that rancid McCarthyism unleashed after World War II. At that time, they willingly labeled their adversaries as Communists in order to persecute them; today they do so by means of the whimsical categories of terrorists or drug traffickers, without having any evidence whatsoever.

Condemning and neutralizing today these unjustifiable attacks against Venezuela will be very useful to prevent Washington from launching similar campaigns against other peoples and governments of the world tomorrow. We must adhere to the principles of the United Nations Charter, to prevent excessive unilateralism from leading to international chaos.

Brothers and sisters of the world, you can be absolutely sure that Venezuela will stand firm in its fight for peace and that, under any circumstances, it will prevail. No imperialist aggression, however ferocious it may be, will divert us from the sovereign and independent path that we have forged for 200 years, nor will it distance us from the sacred obligation to preserve the life and health of our people in the face of the frightening global pandemic of COVID-19.

I take this opportunity to express my solidarity and that of the people of Venezuela, to all the people who today also suffer consequences from the effects of the pandemic. If we are obliged to draw any lesson from all this difficult experience, it is precisely that only together we can move forward. The political and economic models that advocate selfishness and individualism have demonstrated their total failure to face this situation. Let us firmly advance towards a new World with Justice and social equality, in which the happiness and fulfillment of the human being is the center of our actions.

I appreciate the solidarity that you have permanently expressed towards my country and my people, denouncing the criminal blockade to which we and many other nations are subjected. I take this opportunity to reiterate my respect and affection, and to invite you to continue united, plowing a future of hope and dignity.

Nicolás Maduro Moros

Caracas, 29th March 2020

The Latin American and Caribbean Left in 2019

Source:  Popular Resistance

December 28 2019

By Angel Guerra Cabrera, La Jornada, translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau
RESIST!

Image result for bolsonaro and macri

Macri and Bolsonaro

A gang of bandits arrived in Brazil’s Government thanks to that coup. The same as the Macri Administration in Argentina, they immediately started to govern for the one percent and the defense of the national sovereignty and social welfare set up by the Workers’ Party was taken to pieces.  Uncontrolled financial speculation was unleashed, as well as selling natural resources and public goods to transnational companies. Though these were the most devastating defeats for the left in this analyzed period, they were not the only ones. In 2009, the Manuel Zelaya Administration was ousted by a military coup openly orchestrated by the United States, for having joined the Petrocaribe oil alliance, the ALBA treaty, and fostering a decent and sovereign foreign policy for Honduras. Four years later, Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo was overthrown by a parliamentary-media coup. He was a prominent progressive supporter.It was confirmed in 2019 that the end of the progressive cycle in Latin America and the Caribbean was nothing but a fallacy. The overwhelming victories of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico and Alberto Fernandez in Argentina would be enough to refute it. Nevertheless, the alleged end of this cycle was based on real and very sad but at the same time exemplary facts for popular, progressive, and revolutionary forces. After all, popular governments in this region following Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in 1999 seemed to be not only moving backward but at a standstill as two very serious defeats were suffered by Our America’s popular movement by 2016: The victory of a neoliberal and pro-imperialist coalition headed by Mauricio Macri in Argentina; and a media-judicial-parliamentary coup d’état staged against Dilma Rousseff in Brazil on August 2016.

Moreover, Lenin Moreno’s treason to his comrades of the Citizen Revolution, the Ecuadorian people, and to his own rhetoric since he joined Rafael Correa’s first term in office until he was elected President himself, moving his country back to neoliberalism and unprecedentedly surrendering to Washington. Similarly, Brazilian ex-president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was unfairly and evilly sentenced to prison on April 2019, an evident maneuver of the U.S. Empire and local oligarchies to prevent his certain victory on the October presidential elections taking place that same year. As a result of it, Jair Bolsonaro came to be a reinforcement of extreme right-wing positions not only in the region but around the world; as well as to the deepening of neoliberal policies and even more servile behavior towards imperialism, brought to their own countries by Chile’s Sebastian Piñera and Colombia’s Ivan Duque.

Regional organizations such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR)—today dissolved—and the intergovernmental mechanism for dialogue and political agreement CELAC—at a standstill—also suffered hard blows as a consequence of these events. Coming to existence after 2004, they had been able to help make important steps towards unity, integration, and achieving of sovereign policies in Latin America and the Caribbean. Meanwhile, Petrocaribe and ALBA were impacted by the decline in oil prices and, above all, by the increasing economic war staged by the United States against Venezuela and Cuba.

But three highly significant events can be described as the most outstanding issues during this year and they represent undeniable victories for the revolutionary and progressive forces, besides the two mentioned above victories in Mexico and Argentina. First, large people’s protests across the continent since the first quarter of the year, cornering governments in several countries of the region, particularly Chile’s Piñera and Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe-Ivan Duque. The stability and public order existing in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Mexico are opposite to the lack of unpopular right-wing governments, all of them hanging by a thread and basically sustained with the United States’ support. The fact is that neoliberalism cannot govern south of the Rio Grande without brutally violating the rules of liberal democracy. A second issue is Cuba’s and Venezuela’s brave resistance and struggle for their own development, each of them with their own set of circumstances against Washington’s relentless and increasing economic war, marked in Venezuelan by an ongoing coup and serious violent counter-revolutionary events. Third, the relevant role played by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) defending the principles of the rule of law, evidenced on December 19 when the United States and Luis Almagro were defeated in the Organization of American States (OAS), as well as other events along this year. Bolivia’s coup d’état, the defeat of Uruguay’s Broad Front, and some other issues are pending for our next article.

Colombia Holds National Strike, Concert & Marches in Medellin

Source:  TeleSUR
December 22 2019

“Medellín Resists Singing”, was born after a first version held in Bogota
on December 8th | Photo: Reuters

Three types of marches took place in Medellin this week, including the concert “Medellin Resiste Cantando”, which gave the right tone to this Sunday’s event.

After 30 days of a nationwide strike in Colombia due to the approval of the new tax law, the protests continued, although with less intensity, in Medellin, where the concert “Medellin Resiste Cantando” was also held.

RELATED:  Colombian Gov’t Responsible for Crimes Committed by ESMAD

Three types of marches took place in Medellin this week, including the concert “Medellin Resiste Cantando”, which gave the right tone to this Sunday’s event.

The mayor’s office in that city prepared a security operation through the national police, despite the peaceful and artistic nature of the demonstrations.

The Secretary of Security, Andrés Tobón, said that the demonstrations would have a positive behavior; however, he noted the police presence behind the three mobilizations that walked the city.

During the event, mobilizations went on in complete normality, according to the first report released by the Unified Command Post, the place where Medellín authorities meet to follow up on this type of event.

Pre-march gatherings began at 9 a.m. locally at “El parque del Poblado, Parque de los Deseos, and the San Javier Cemetery, respectively.

From there, the peaceful demonstrators followed the established routes until they reached San Juan, between Ferrocarril and Carabobo roundabout where the concert began at approximately at 2pm.

“Medellin Resiste Cantando”, as the organizers called the event, was born after a first version held in Bogota last December 8th with the participation of thousands of people. In fact, several of the artists who accompanied that concert were also in Medellín’s.

Colombia: Protests Against Tax Reform and Police Repression

Source:  TeleSUR English

December 19 2019

The protestants affirm that these changes will fundamentally harm “those on foot” and assert that this will also be disastrous. The protestants affirm that these changes will fundamentally harm
“those on foot” and assert that this will also be disastrous. | Photo: Reuters

Hundreds of university students among representatives from other sectors went out to reject their Government’s behavior regarding violence against protesters by the National Police, as well as to alert of the consequences of the new tax legislation.

Student groups, currently under constant mobilization in the country, demanded the repeal of the Tax Reform and the ending of repression by the National Police.

RELATED:  Colombia: Duque Ignores the National Strike Committee Requests

Holding banners with the face of Dilan Cruz, a young man who died as a result of the impact of an artifact on his head launched by agents of the Mobile Riot Squadron, hundreds of university students rejected the approval of the Executive for this kind of practices.

They also repudiated the Colombian justice decision that determined that the Dilan case should be investigated by a military court: “this type of announcements is outrageous, there is a high probability that the case will go unpunished,” a protester added.

RELATED:  Riot Police Attack Peaceful Protesters in Colombian Capital

For their part, a group of citizens concentrated around Hippies Park (located north of Bogotá), conducted an educational campaign to explain tax reform and the negative impacts that it brings to the popular sectors.

Minute of silence for Dilan Cruz, in front of the National Pedagogical University. We are clear that the destiny of our generation is tied to the memory of him and that of all the victims of the corrupt regime of Uribe, Duke and the same as always.

The Tax Reform will replace the Financing Law that struck down by the Constitutional Court. The project already has a total of 158 articles

RELATED:  Colombia: Social Unrest Against Duque Begins 3rd Week in a Row