AFRICOM – Staggering But Not Yet Down For The Count

Source:  Black Agenda Report
February 21 2018

“The AFRICOM serpent has spent more than a decade slithering into almost every African country and establishing a venomous presence.”

africom staggering but.jpg

Even though Donald Trump thinks Africa is a “shit hole” the continent forced its way into his life anyway in October when four U.S. soldiers were killed in Niger. After Trump deflected blame to others and made a soldier’s widow cry, he apparently returned quickly to his fantasies about boatloads of Norwegian immigrants swarming Ellis Island.

The military establishment was not so quick to change the subject. Their detailed investigation of the Niger matter has produced what is reported to be a damning assessment of the capacity of the U.S. military to carry out its imperialist agenda in Africa. The rest of us aren’t allowed to read it yet because, as the New York Times explained: “…public release has been delayed until General [Thomas] Waldhauser [head of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)] appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee to present the command’s annual ‘posture hearing,’ scheduled for the last week of February.”

The New York Times goes on to say: “Defense officials said that the delay in part aims to keep senators from focusing on the Niger ambush during the hearing and, in turn, excoriating General Waldhauser when he testifies before the committee.” The convenient temporary suppression of the report will allow the General to present senators with the usual upbeat AFRICOM propaganda about U.S. soldiers digging wells and bringing medicine to downtrodden African villagers while giving friendly advice to African armies about how to fight terrorism.

“The convenient temporary suppression of the report will allow the General to present senators with the usual upbeat AFRICOM propaganda.”

Findings about failures of the campaign to militarize Africa are welcome news after the AFRICOM serpent has spent more than a decade slithering into almost every African country and establishing a venomous presence. Even better news is that the study reportedly “…calls for the Pentagon to scale back the number of ground missions in West Africa, and to strip commanders in the field of some authority to send troops on potentially high-risk patrols.”

With respect to the military deaths in Niger, the New York Times noted: “…[T]he ambush has exposed holes in the argument that the Pentagon has made under three different administrations: that in many far-flung places, American troops are not actually engaged in combat, but just there to train, advise and assist local troops.” Not only is the U.S. military engaged in combat, it has also formed an unholy alliance with France that gives both countries the opportunity to wreak havoc in Africa tag-team style. For example, in 2012 when one of Mali’s soldiers, who had been trained by AFRICOM, staged a coup that displaced Mali’s democratically elected government, the French military stepped in to try to clean up the mess.

“The study calls for the Pentagon to scale back the number of ground missions in West Africa, and to strip commanders in the field of some authority to send troops on potentially high-risk patrols.”

The U.S. has also had France’s back. State Department documents show that while Muammar Gadhafi lived, France coveted Libya’s oil and wanted desperately to stop plans to create a Pan-African currency backed by Libyan gold. In an effort to satisfy French desires, the U.S. stepped in and did the dirty work of arming vicious Libyan racists and terrorists who, in turn, not only committed a grisly assassination of Gadhafi, but also began a campaign of genocide against blacks in Libya.

In Niger, when French uranium mining operations in Arlit and a military installation in Agadez were attacked in 2013, the U.S. military stepped in, and its continuing involvement there eventually cost the lives of four U.S. soldiers last year. A Guardian article about the 2013 attacks said: “The militants vowed to hit any country that helped France…” Someone apparently made good on that threat.

Meanwhile, U.S. politicians claim they are clueless. Senator Lindsey Graham said: “I didn’t know there were 1,000 troops in Niger. This is an endless war without boundaries, no limitation on time or geography. We don’t know exactly where we’re at in the world militarily and what we’re doing.” Even though Donald Trump is probably less informed than Graham, his administration not only increased the number of drone strikes in Somalia, but also removed limits on drone strikes and commando raids that Barack (The King of Drones) Obama established in 2013.

“The U.S. has formed an unholy alliance with France that gives both countries the opportunity to wreak havoc in Africa tag-team style.”

Nevertheless, AFRICOM itself may already be downsizing. Lauren Ploch, a Congressional Research Service Africa analyst commented: “AFRICOM’s security cooperation spending was down in 2017 from the previous few years.” If the recently completed report on U.S. military engagement in Niger has the expected impact, the U.S. military presence in Africa will be scaled back even more — at least temporarily. But because the long-term interests of the U.S. Empire demand the continuing western capitalist domination of the African continent, the generals and strategists will no doubt huddle and figure out a more effective way to sell the AFRICOM idea, and it will return.

A temporarily scaled-back AFRICOM will present a window of opportunity that will probably close quickly. Those who want to prevent the further military domination of Africa must therefore make haste to do whatever possible to ensure that an already disintegrating AFRICOM project crumbles into dust and is swept away forever by African desert winds.

Mark P. Fancher is an attorney who writes frequently about the U.S. military presence in Africa. He can be contacted at mfancher(at)comcast.net

Occupation and genocide disguised as “discovery”

Source:  Cuba-Network in Defense of Humanity

February 1 2018

by Jerome Duval

occupation and genocide as discovery“We have been told, and still are, that it was the pilgrims of the Mayflower that populated America. Had it been empty before?” Eduardo Galeano.

What was really discovered

“What was really discovered [in 1492] is what Spain really was, the reality of Western culture and that of the Church at that time. (…) They did not discover the other world, they covered it. What was manifested was a ‘discovering of the conquest’, and a ‘violent and violating covering of the conquered populations, their cultures, their religion, the people themselves, their languages. What remains to be done today is to discover what was covered over, and to create a ‘new world’ that is not just the repetition of the old, but which is truly new. Is this possible? Is it pure utopia?” Father Ignacio Ellacuria, a few months before being savagely murdered by the Atlácatl Battalion of the Salvadoran army on 16 November, 1989.

Replacing the colonies of yesterday

The so-called “developing countries” (DC) of today replace the colonies of yesterday: large Western multinational companies settle in former colonies, invest and extort resources to accumulate exorbitant profits which escape into tax havens. All of this is taking place under the approving gaze of corrupt local elites, with the support of northern governments and international financial institutions (IFIs) demanding repayment of odious debts inherited from the colonial period.

By means of debt leverage and the imposed neo-capitalist policies that condition it, the dispossessed populations still pay for the colonial crimes of yesterday and the elites surreptitiously perpetuate them today. This is what is known as neocolonialism. Meanwhile, apart from some late and altogether far too few acknowledgements of the crimes committed, every effort has been made to organize collective amnesia and avoid any debate about possible reparations. For they would pave the way for popular claims, and could set in motion an emancipating memory trail that might lead to demands for restitution, something that should certainly be nipped in the bud!

The demographic catastrophe of genocide

On Friday the 3rd of August, 1492, la Pinta, la Niña and la Santa María, the three ships of Christopher Columbus, left the port of Palos de la Frontera in Andalusia with nearly 90 crew members. Less than three months later, the expedition landed in several parts of the Americas, including Cuba on the 28th of October. 1492 marks the misnamed “discovery of America”, but it is also the year when Spain, after nearly eight centuries, finally overcame the last stronghold of the Muslim religion with the conquest of Granada on 2 January 1492. The Church’s so-called “holy war” against Islam, led by Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, who had unified their rival domains through marriage, was victorious. “Nationalist” exaltation fed a xenophobic impulse based on intolerance.

Three months later, approximately 150,000 Jews who had refused to convert to Roman Catholicism were expelled from Spain (31 March 1492). The warlike culture of the crusades was exported to the new colonies. Queen Isabella, who had patronized the Inquisition, was also consecrated the First Lady of this “New World” by the Spanish Pope Alexander VI. The kingdom of God was extended, and the conquistadors forced the various native peoples, misnamed “Indians”, to convert to the Catholic faith.

At least 10 million people from the Americas were exterminated between 1500 and 1600, with the Vatican’s blessing. But the figures could be much more alarming than this low estimate, if we consider that the Americas were much more heavily populated than has been previously acknowledged. Indeed, many scientists now estimate that “the population of the two American continents before 1492 was somewhere between 90 and 110 million inhabitants (including 5 to 10 million in the Amazon rainforest).

In other words, contrary to what we still learn in history textbooks, more people lived in America than in Europe at that time!” . Taking into account the”septic shock“ upon contact with the first conquistadors: shipments of unknown epidemics in these territories, namely smallpox, influenza, measles, the plague, pneumonia or typhus, spread like wildfire among native populations, decimating 85 to 90% of the Native American population in the century following the arrival of Christopher Columbus.

If we add to that malaria and yellow fever imported by the Europeans to America, the conquest by arms and forced labour, which often led to death, we reach a figure of 95% of Amerindians who disappeared between 1492 and 1600. As Charles C. Mann points out in his works of reference 1491 and 1493, the human and social cost is beyond comprehension; indeed there is no comparable demographic catastrophe in the annals of human history.

A turn to African labour

The massacre was on an immense scale. As there were too few Amerindians left to constitute a durable workforce, the colonial powers had to rely on African labour to pursue the colossal enterprise of the greatest looting of all time. As the aforementioned genocide of Native Americans took place, historian Aline Helg reminds us that 8 to 10 million Africans died “when captured on their land, in the marches to reach African ports and during the long wait in the coastal warehouses” before being crammed into the holds of the slave ships leaving for the “New World”.

Eventually, at least 12 million Africans torn from their homeland were deported to the Americas and the Caribbean between the 16th and the 19th centuries“. But a large number of them, almost 2 million (about 16% of the total) did not survive the trip and died during the transatlantic crossing before reaching the European colonies.

For the survivors, their fate was governed, as far as France was concerned, by the infamous Code noir, drafted by Colbert and enacted in 1685, of which Article 44 declared “slaves are moveable property” thus conferring legal status on the slave trade and slavery. Thousands of African captives landed each year for sale in the slave markets of the Americas.

The decade from 1784 to 1793 was the culmination of the slave trade with imports averaging nearly 91,000 Africans a year. But the absolute record was reached in 1829, when 106,000 captives landed, almost all in Brazil, Cuba and the French Caribbean. Once bought by their masters, the slaves were branded (after earlier branding on the boat or while boarding), suffered all sorts of blows to encourage work, and women were frequently raped.

Attempts to rebel, whether proven or not, were severely repressed by whipping, followed by a sentence of death by torture. Slaves were torn apart by stretching on the wheel, and were mutilated, castrated, hanged or burned alive at the stake. Heads were exhibited, in the public square or in front of the plantations, to set an example. For escape attempts, ears were cut off or the shin sliced. There was no limit to the forms of torture that could be imagined… this list is not exhaustive.

It is important to put these two major events of the year 1492 into context, and to emphasize the fact that they were intrinsically linked. We cannot understand the violence perpetrated in America without perceiving it as the result of the Crusades. Dissociating them from one another, as textbooks do, does not aid our understanding of one of the darkest pages in our history and underestimates the predominant role of the Church on the old continent as in the “New World”. Religious orders also owned slaves, and in the Iberian and French colonies, Roman Catholicism imposed on them evangelization and baptism, whether they were African captives or born in America. Spanish and Portuguese become the languages of conquest, with the Church’s blessing.

Colonial heritage and cultural debt in Africa

Imperial languages, like the Islam and Catholicism, the religions imported by the colonizers, played a major role in the annihilation of local ancestral cultures and prevented their memories from being handed down. We can speak here of cultural debt whose most visible aspect is undoubtedly materialized by the looting of the art objects of these peoples, exhibited in the museums of the colonial West.

At the end of 1996, Jacques Chirac received a terracotta statuette from Mali for his birthday. The work came from a group of objects seized by the police a few years earlier on the grounds of illegal excavation, stolen during their transfer to the Museum of Bamako. After more than a year of negotiations, Mr. Chirac had to return the work to the Malian museum. Apart from some restitutions like this one or that of the three terracotta nok and sokoto originating from illicit excavations in Nigeria and exhibited in April 2000 at the inauguration of the Louvre Museum’s Tribal and Aboriginal Arts gallery in Paris (showcase for the future Quai Branly Art Museum of Indigenous Arts), and finally returned to the Nigerian State, countless works of art still remain outside their country of origin and have not yet been restored. However, many resolutions adopted since 1972 by the UN General Assembly “promot[e] the return of cultural property to its country of origin or its restitution in the case of illegal appropriation”.

Knowing and acknowledging past genocidal horror helps to understand, on the one hand, how North America was propelled into becoming a new capitalist empire and, on the other, the impasse of false development into which the imperialist West has led the subjugated Southern countries.

Cuba-Network in Defense of Humanity

The Chavistas Who Toppled Columbus: Venezuela’s Fight Against Colonialism

Source:  TeleSUR
October 11 2017

the chavistas who toppled columbusVenezuelan demonstrators use ropes to take down a Christopher Columbus
statue in Caracas, Venezuela, October 12, 2004. | Photo: Reuters

Long before the statues were taken down in the U.S., social movements in Venezuela removed all monuments from Caracas.

Five centuries ago, Christopher Columbus embarked on his third voyage of conquest, planting the flag of Spain in the Paria Peninsula — now present-day Venezuela — on August 1, 1498

After 506 years, on October 12, 2004 — the Day of Indigenous Resistance, previously marked in Columbus’ honor — the Italian colonizer was “brought to trial” in the streets of the country where he first landed.

RELATED: Anti-Columbus Protests Sweep the Americas
On that day, a 9-meter high statue of Columbus, in downtown Caracas, was toppled from where it had stood for decades.

 

Mock trial of Columbus

Several social movements held a mock trial and “prosecuted” Columbus, declared him “guilty”, demolished his stone incarnate, bathed it in red paint and dragged it to the nearby Teresa Carreno Theater, where it was hung.

Long before activists would take to doing the same to Columbus statues in the United States, their counterparts in Caracas had set the stage: by 2009, every monument dedicated to the conqueror in the Venezuelan capital had been removed.

It was in 2004 that the late socialist President and leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez, changed October 12 from the day that celebrated Columbus and the history of colonialism, to the Day of Indigenous Resistance.

It was in reaction to this move that social movements in the city took to topple the statue.

“There was a very strong revolutionary spirit in Venezuela at that time,” Katrina Kozarek, a reporter at Venezuela Analysis, who along with Cooperativa Calle Y Media created a documentary about the event, told teleSUR.

“People wanted concrete action, not just symbolic,” she added.

Cooperativa Calle Y Media’s film, titled, “Down With Colonialism: Pachamama Libre”

Still, the action held tremendous significance for many.

“It was an act of symbolic justice,”  Angel Montiel, a member of the Organization of Indigenous Youth of Venezuela said at the time. “It represented invasion and genocide in our land.”

Soon after the statue’s destruction, hundreds of Indigenous people and their allies took to the streets to sing and dance to commemorate the act of resistance, chanting “Justice for the people, justice for the people!”

Protesters had drawn parallels between Columbus and then-U.S. president George W. Bush, calling on both to “get out” of Venezuela.

On that day, Indigenous groups also presented a formal request to the city’s mayor to have the decimated statue replaced with that of the Indigenous chief Guaicaipuro — who five centuries ago had led the resistance against Spanish colonialism — a promise that was fulfilled in 2015 under President Nicolas Maduro.

nicolas maduro 2017.jpg

Police, however, who at that time were “very much a reactionary force, still in the hands of the opposition”, explained Kozarek, responded by spraying tear gas at the crowd. Five people were also arrested for taking part.

In response to the arrests, a statement released by the 90 people who claimed responsibility for the act, declared, “We respond by saying that accusations of vandalism, wherever they come from, we reject them absolutely.”

chavistas topple columbus' statue.jpgProtesters prepare to topple the statue.
| Photo: courtesy of Katrina Kozarek

“We are absolutely proud of what we have done, since it is finally destroyed … one of the strongest symbols of what has been the genocidal, exploitative, dehumanizing, deconstructive and truly vandalic exercise of all the imperialisms that have plagued this planet of misery,” it continued. “And in particular the processes of conquest and extermination of more than 70 million human beings … and the death of more than 30 million original inhabitants of Africa, brought as slaves, from the day that this Spanish ‘national hero’ put his boots on these lands.”

Chavez’s response

Still, it was also Chavez who initially rejected the act as one of “anarchy”.

The Venezuelan leader’s main concern at the time, however, explained Kozarek, was “reaction from the opposition”, who supported keeping statues of Columbus.

“The country was just coming out of the coup d’etat,” she explained, adding that the Bolivarian government had viewed the toppling as a surprising, risky act given the response it could have incited from the opposition, following their attempts to oust the government in 2002.

Later, Chavez would come out to approve the action, praising it and calling Columbus “genocidal.”

hugo chavez 1.jpgThe leader of the country’s Bolivarian revolution had always repudiated Columbus, having also called the figure “genocidal” in the past.

“They taught us to admire Christopher Columbus,” Chavez later said in a 2007 televised address. “In Europe, they still speak of the ‘discovery’ of America and want us to celebrate the day.”

That year, the Venezuelan leader revised the nation’s education curriculum to emphasize that the Spanish conquest of the country was destructive, rather than heroic.

Indigenous rights and the Constituent Assembly

The Bolivarian Constitution of 1999 recognized, for the first time ever in the country’s history, the Indigenous population’s right to exist, its languages, cultures, and territories.

With Venezuela’s current National Constituent Assembly, ANC, process underway — which Maduro called to bring the country towards dialogue, in the face of U.S.-backed violence and threats of foreign intervention — Indigenous people are again putting their demands forward.

RELATED:  Social Media Blasts Racist ‘Columbus Day’ in Favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day

In July of this year, 1250 different community assemblies elected eight Indigenous representatives to the Assembly, who were tasked with gathering input from their communities in the redrafting of the Constitution.

The main objectives for the Indigenous candidates will be to create an Indigenous Electoral Registration Law and improve access to education. They will also be tasked with preserving and disseminating their respective languages, histories and cultural heritage.

“The spirit of what happened (to the Columbus statue) and the spirit of what is happening now with the Constituent Assembly is similar,” said Kozarek.

“Popular movements emphasize that the revolution cannot be just rhetoric,” she added. “People have placed faith in the Constituent Assembly process, (optimistic) that this will not happen.”

So Long Columbus – Latin Americas Sticks to Its Roots and Celebrates Indigenous Resistance

Source:  TeleSUR
October 11 2017

so long columbus 1Choco, home to large Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities, is
currently the poorest department in the country. Some 65.9 percent of Choco’s population now live below the poverty line, according to Colombia Reports
Photo AFP.

In the recent years, the world has seen massive protests against the commemoration of Christopher Columbus day on October 9 with many nations replacing it with a celebration of Indigenous communities.

RELATEDTrinidad Joins World Protests Against Columbus Day, Statue Defaced

The ongoing demonstrations denouce the fifteenth century explorer as the man responsible for decimating the first peoples of the Americas.

Indigenous communities make up about 13 percent of the total population in Latin America in countries including Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador and Brazil.

Continental Conference on Five Hundred Years of Indigenous Resistance

In 1990, Ecuador hosted the first ever Continental Conference on Five Hundred Years of Indigenous Resistance that was attended by nearly 400 people from 120 Indian Nations, International organizations, and a historic Declaration of Quito was signed.

“Genocide and ethnocide have been committed against us Indian people by European invaders in the name of “God, civilization and democracy” the statement said.

“The Indians of America have never abandoned our constant struggle against the conditions of oppression, discrimination and exploitation which were imposed upon us as a result of the European invasion of our ancestral territories,” it added.

The days of Indigenous resistance now recognized

Apart from Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua are the other Latin American countries that have officially recognized the days of Indigenous resistance under different names.

For example, Bolivia’s first Indigenous president, Evo Morales, changed the day’s name to “Day of Mourning for the Misery, Diseases and Hunger Brought by the European Invasion of America.”

While Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa initiated a “Day of Inter-culturality and Pluri-nationality.”

Argentina named it as the “Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity.” Nicaragua and Venezuela on the other hand adopted the day as “The Day of Indigenous Resistance.”

“Our struggle is not a mere conjunctural reflection of the memory of 500 years of oppression which the invaders, in complicity with the “democratic” governments of our countries, want to turn into events of jubilation and celebration,” the 1990 Quito Declaration said.

“Our Indian People, Nations and Nationalities are basing our struggle on our identity, which shall lead us to true liberation. We are responding aggressively, and-commit ourselves to reject this “celebration,” it added.

RELATEDOctober 12: Day of Indigenous Resistance

Many cities in the U.S. have also ditched Columbus day for a celebration of Native American culture and life.

Columbus Day replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day

52 cities across the country have now replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Inspired by the Quito Declaration, one of the first cities to make the move was Berkeley, California.

Others include Amherst, Northampton in Massachusetts,  Los Angeles, San Fernando, Santa Cruz in California, San Antonio, Texas; Albuquerque, N.M.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Lawrence, Kansas.; Boulder, Colorado, Portland and Seattle.

Palestine Thanks Latin America for Solidarity with Gaza

chile protest in support of palestineProtesters throughout Latin America protested against the Israeli atrocities against Gaza. In the photo, a demonstration a few weeks ago in Chile. (Photo: Reuters)

Source:  TeleSUR

Palestinian officials recognized that Latin American countries were the first to condemn the Israeli onslaught against Gaza.

The Palestinian National Council (PNC), which is the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Wednesday thanked Latin America for its solidarity with the people of Gaza and its condemnation of the seven-week Israeli massacre  in the enclave.

An inheritance of patriots like Jose Marti and Simon Bolivar

marti y bolivarDuring a PNC meeting, the Palestinian leaders said the solidarity of Latin America with Palestinians “is an inheritance of patriots like Jose Marti and Simon Bolivar.”

The legislators also made a contrasting comparison between the strong condemnation by Latin American and Caribbean governments of the Israeli attacks, with the support of U.S., Europe and their allies to the government of Tel Aviv.

They also recognized the fact that Latin Americans launched a shout of protest against Israel while other nations opened up their military warehouses to replenish the Tel Aviv  regime with the weapons it used in the bloody attacks against Gaza.

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Fidel Castro: True Friendship

Source:  Granma International

by Fidel Castro

Yesterday I received a visit from the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who made a trip abroad related to the defense of his country’s important oil interests.

fidel y maduroDuring his stop in Cuba, he took the opportunity to make contact with me and greet me personally, as he had promised, on August 13 of this year, when I had the privilege of reaching 88 years of age. That day he presented me with some fruits, among them, some small pearl like ones, which I had never even seen before and which taste excellent. He also presented me with a sports uniform, a gift from the Venezuelan athletes seeking to win laurels for their country.

I was extraordinarily happy that he made the visit so soon, not only for the honor which his presence and quick action imply, when he is involved in the difficult task of carrying out the epic struggle of Hugo Chavez, as well as the exceptional actions he is carrying out.

Who governs who?

Our world is experiencing an extraordinary and unique moment and every day the number of people who are conscious of this increases. Among the events being experienced, one of the most dramatic is the genocide being carried out in the Gaza Strip, where 1.8 million human beings live trapped between the desert, the sea and the military power of a Middle Eastern country, where the most powerful empire which has ever existed has created – over more than half a century, and at a cost, according to some estimates, of almost 100 billion dollars – a sophisticated and at the same time irresponsible, military nuclear power. Many people wonder: Who governs who, does the United States govern Israel, or Israel the United States?

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Fidel Castro: Palestinian Holocaust in Gaza

fidel its timeto learnI again request that Granma not use the front page for these relatively brief lines about the genocide of Palestinians being committed.

I am writing them rapidly, to state only that which requires deep reflection.

I think that a new, repugnant form of fascism is emerging with notable strength, at this time in human history when more that seven billion inhabitants are struggling for their survival.

None of these circumstances have anything to do with the creation of the Roman Empire, around 2,400 years ago, or with the U.S. empire which, in this region only 200 years ago, was described by Simón Bolívar who exclaimed, “…the United States appears to be destined by providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.”

England was the first true colonial power to use its dominion over a large part of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, North America, and many Caribbean islands, in the first half of the 20th century.

A just idea in the depth of a cave

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