Cuba: Sharing in solidarity where other bring weapons

Source:  Granma

December 16 2019

Photo: Estudios Revolución

Speech by Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of the Republic of Cuba, during the political-cultural event commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Bolivarian Alliance for the peoples of Our America-Peoples Trade Agreement, at the University of Havana’s Grand Stairway, December 14, 2019, Year 61 of the Revolution

(Transcript: Presidency of the Republic)

Good evening.

This event is turned around: Maduro, Ralf and Daniel spoke just a bit and now I am going to have to speak a little more. (Laughter)

Dear Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee;

Dear ALBA-TCP heads of state and government;

Dear heads of delegations and guests:

Students of our universities, the present and future of the Cuban nation. To you and to all young people of Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean, we address you today!

Fidel & young Chavez

We have come here, to our glorious Grand Stairway, to celebrate 15 years of ALBA-TCP, because this alliance has its roots in the first meeting of two giants of Our America: the Comandante en jefe of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, and the then (young) leader of the Bolivarian Movement 200, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías.

That meeting, which changed the history of Latin America and the Caribbean and impacted the world, took place December 13-15, 1994.

As is occurring today, we were living complex, uncertain days for the region and the world. And it was here nearby, in the University of Havana’s Aula Magna, where for the first time the analyses and premonitory proposals were heard of what, with time, joint effort, and the advance of progressive governments, would emerge in 2004 as this paradigm of solidary integration that we know as ALBA-TCP.

We also choose the Stairway, the door to our University, one of the oldest in America, because the present and future of Cuba and much of the rest of the world pass through here every day, young people from sister nations, students who share classrooms and dreams with our sons and daughters.

We firmly believe that universities cannot be disconnected from our world or its pressing problems. Here Fidel became a revolutionary, here he spoke to his Latin American contemporaries, with Hugo Chávez, here we study and think about the best possible world that we revolutionaries have set out to set our minds to winning.

Sisters and brothers:

Exactly one year ago, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America met with the objective of establishing common positions in the face of the evident intensification of aggression against our nations. The forecasts of that moment were not exaggerated.

US destabilization campaign

The government of the United States and its allies launched, and insist on continuing, a ferocious, unscrupulous destabilization campaign in the region.

They are doing so by resuming the brutal application of the Monroe Doctrine, to which the current administration in Washington has openly and arrogantly committed itself.

They have escalated their actions against the sister Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, violating the most elementary principles of international law. They have gone so far as to designate who can speak on behalf of Venezuela and make decisions on the country’s funds and real estate outside its territory. Never before in history has democracy been so offended, speaking in the name of democracy while trampling it.

The recent invocation against Venezuela of the obsolete Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) – which never served to safeguard the interests of the region – is another warning that peace, democracy and security are being threatened.

What else is the purpose of reviving an institution like TIAR, which backed coups, established military dictatorships and was unable to support one of its members when an extra-regional power occupied its territory and unleashed a war?

The determination of the Venezuelan people

The United States coordinated attacks on the homeland of Bolívar and Chávez without understanding that the determination of its people is strengthened even more in the face of foreign aggression. They failed and will continue to fail before the solid civil-military union and the courage of millions of Venezuelans, who have always sworn to be loyal, and never traitors. (Applause)

Photo: Angélica Paredes

Here is our brother Nicolás Maduro, representing that victorious, firm union.

Long live the Bolivarian Revolution! (Exclamations of: Viva!)

We reiterate our solidarity with the Sandinista Popular Revolution, which with its president at the forefront, Comandante Daniel Ortega Saavedra, is resisting imperial attacks on Nicaragua, despite the threats, and advancing on the path of reconciliation, peace and just development for its country.

Long live the Sandinista Revolution! (Exclamations of: Viva!)

We celebrate the release of the Brazilian workers’ leader and former President of that country, compañero Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, and at the same time we call on everyone to continue demanding his full freedom, the recognition of his innocence and the restitution of all his political rights.

Despite imperial conspiracies and the politicization of judicial systems, corruption, and the discrediting of politics by agents of imperialism, neoliberalism and the media, Lula’s example shows that we will always find a way to fight for truth, dignity and solidarity in order to defeat lies.

Bolivia, the absent brother, deserves special mention.

The faithful pawn of the US:  the OAS

The coup against constitutional President Evo Morales Ayma confirmed that the United States and reactionary forces do not hesitate to violate, by any means, the people’s freedoms and human rights to reverse emancipatory processes in the region. As always, they used their faithful pawn: the Organization of American States (OAS).

It is no surprise that the first foreign policy move by the coup plotters in Bolivia, following the imperialists’ script, was to leave ALBA.

In countries like Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil, we watch with pain and indignation as the number of deaths rises and injuries reach thousands, with eye injuries increasing to hundreds of young people, as a result of repression as brutal as that we remember from the dark days of military dictatorships. Social activists, journalists and former guerrillas are murdered. Cases of violence, torture and rape of detainees now number in the hundreds.

Several of the military and police authorities who today are the protagonists of this horrible repression were trained at the now defunct School of the Americas. Those who persecute leftist and progressive leaders were trained in the current International Academy for Law Enforcement, also made in the USA.

The people’s resistance

Day by day, we follow with admiration the dramatic course of the people’s resistance and the growing mobilizations.

From this podium, we emphatically denounce the complicit, shameful silence of many, the distortion and cover-up of what occurred in Bolivia by the corporate, oligarchic media.

And here today, Cuba reaffirms our support and solidarity with compañero Evo Morales Ayma. (Applause) Long live the governments and peoples who uphold dignity and sovereignty by welcoming and supporting the persecuted leaders! (Exclamations of: Vivan!)

Our health personnel who served in Bolivia are closely acquainted with the brutality of the coup plotters, whose repressive forces, led directly by the United States, physically assaulted two collaborators, while 54 were unjustly detained, some for several days.

Members of the Cuban Medical Brigade were, for absolutely no reason, humiliated, searched and stripped of their belongings. The coup authorities incited hatred against Cubans.

The cowardice of these repressors contrasted sharply with the dignity and courage of our self-sacrificing professionals, who deserve recognition for their unwavering stance, a product of Cuba’s internationalist tradition. (Applause)

They are all back, ready to defend the homeland, and take on the next mission.

Once again, “the tiger lurks”

The events that have transpired in Bolivia sound the alarm and alert us. Once again “the tiger lurks,” as Martí said in his magnificent essay Our America:

“The colony continued to live within the republic; and our America is being saved from its great errors (…) by the superior virtue, fertilized with necessary blood, of the republic that fights against the colony. The tiger waits, behind every tree, crouched in every corner”.

In our recent visit to Argentina, to attend the inauguration of Alberto and Cristina, we held a valuable dialogue with important intellectuals and artists in that country.

From all of them, we heard the most formidable criticism of neoliberalism “the tiger that lurks” and its serious consequences for the peoples of America that have been destroyed by neoliberal experiments.

Argentine filmmaker and current Minister of Culture Tristán Bauer has just documented the serious social costs of neoliberalism in the four years of the Macri administration, in a documentary titled: Tierra arrasada.

Others present recalled that these processes are supported by a powerful media network that progressive projects must confront in an unequal battle. And proposals were made to promote a kind of cultural strategy that addresses this asymmetry.

What remains of the colonial mentality in America must disappear before our peoples disappear, with their dreams of emancipation and integration, postponed since Bolivar’s times.

Disseminating ideas and values to defend our conquests

It is essential to disseminate ideas and values to defend our conquests. And it is also necessary to join together in the area of communication so that the colonial mentality does not engulf us with its ammunition of false symbols, like the mirrors that the conquerors gave to our noble, original inhabitants, in exchange for the natural wealth with which they have built their power.

The magnificent ideas that were presented in just two hours, during the meeting with Argentine friends, confirm the enormous potential of the imaginative Latin American intelligentsia, whose best exponents have always been allies in the battle for social justice.

Compañeras and compañeros:

Even in the face of the most brutal U.S. pressure, Cuba won a resounding victory at the United Nations, when 187 countries voted in favor of our resolution condemning the U.S. economic, commercial and financial blockade.

Those who did not have the courage to resist U.S. pressure and did not dare to condemn the blockade of Cuba bear the responsibility of supporting a policy that no people on earth approves, because it is criminal, because it violates the human rights of millions, because it is extraterritorial, illegal and outrageous.

And because what they are doing to Cuba, today, they will do tomorrow to other nations, as has been proven more than once in recent years. No one is exempt from the empire’s whip, and to allow others to be beaten is to open the way to lashings for all.

We are pleased to know that this attitude does not reflect what the fraternal peoples of Brazil and Colombia truly feel.

In victories such as the UN condemnation of the blockade, ALBA has been and must continue to be a front of unity and resistance to the empire, to coups and to interventionist positions that shame the honorable men and women of our continent.

Progressive victories in Mexico and Argentina

Likewise, we salute and are encouraged by progressive victories in Mexico and Argentina, where new governments have already shown, in a very short period, their commitment to peace, democracy, development and social justice for the peoples, and to the genuine unity and integration of Our America.

In recent months we have heard ridiculous accusations of the Cuban and Bolivarian revolutions, in a malicious attempt to justify what they refuse to understand: the profound reasons for popular revolts against neoliberalism that continue to take place in several countries of the region. They do not surprise us.

The popular demonstrations are the result of struggles against inequality and social injustices accumulated over the years. And they are here to stay, and will increase if their causes are not addressed.

Pushing the “de-historization” of time

Those who repress refuse to see in these demonstrations the real causes, because, in order to maintain power, neoliberalism attempts to prevent us from developing historical consciousness, pushing the “de-historization” of time. That is why ideologues, like Francis Fukuyama, insist that history has ended.

They try to tell us that capitalism is eternal. So, they want to perpetuate social inequality, misery, exclusion. Time is history! And ours is based on Bolívar, San Martín, Sucre, Martí, Che, Fidel, Chávez, Sandino, the struggle against slavery, against Spanish domination, against invasions and against the blockade of Cuba by genocidal imperialism.

Neoliberalism has forced the world economy to move from production to speculation. While the world Gross Domestic Product is growing at an annual average of 1% to 2%, financial profits grows more than 5% a year. While eight hundred and twenty million people are threatened with death by hunger, twenty trillion dollars are stashed in tax havens!

Brutal dehumanization and global colonization

Neoliberalism produces what Marx foresaw: people have no value as human being, but on the basis of the commodities they hold. This is brutal dehumanization.

Neoliberalism does not promote globalization, but global colonization. Its purpose is to make the world a great market to which only the rich have access, the rest are excluded; they are disposable beings, condemned to an early death.

Neoliberalism is based on competition, socialism on solidarity. Neoliberalism in the private accumulation of wealth; socialism in the sharing of wealth. Neoliberalism in defending the interests of capital; socialism, human rights and those of nature.

The United States and the Latin American oligarchies cannot forgive us for constructing models that are inclusive and committed to the people despite pressure and the sieges of sanctions and blockades.

Building solidarity models

We can give them the formula: We don’t build models for the 1%. We don’t build exclusion models. We are building solidarity models and practicing integration. (Applause)

And we are not forgiven for uniting in solidarity as Latin Americans and Caribbeans without imperial tutelage.

They do not forgive us not only for choosing to assert independence, freedom, sovereignty over our resources and self-determination, but also for demonstrating that we are capable of defending this choice.

Sharing in solidarity where other bring weapons

They do not forgive Cuba for defending the philosophy of sharing in solidarity what we have, of taking health and literacy where others bring weapons, of teaching people to read and write, or restoring sight and saving the lives of those who have never had quality health services.

Now, when in some countries Cuban cooperation has been interrupted, as a result of imperialist and oligarchic conspiracies, we note with concern that millions of Latin Americans have been stripped of their human right to health. The oligarchies don’t care and they bend under pressure from the pathological Yankee campaign.

The only military and security forces that interfere in the internal affairs of countries and threaten Latin America and the Caribbean are those of the United States.

Cuba will resist all threats. We have been hardened in the struggle. We have a united people. We count on the solidarity of the world, of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, and especially of our brothers and sisters in ALBA.

We will not renounce socialism! We will not renounce solidarity! We will not renounce friendship! We will not renounce dignity! (Applause)

ALBA compañeros:

I reiterate the embrace of this noble, courageous and solidary people, in this beautiful city that has just completed 500 years of history and struggle. A city to which you can always return to receive the affection of those who do not surrender, will not surrender, and will continue the vibrant Revolution that brought us thus far.

Let us conclude as such events always do, on this historic stairway, with a celebration of life, of the future that is prepared here to make possible the better world for which so many generations have given their blood and their very lives.

We are Cuba!

And we are also Latin America and the Caribbean, all united by ALBA-TCP!

Always onward to victory!

(Ovation)

Race is Central to Both Revolution and Reaction in Latin America

Source:  Black Agenda Report
November 14 2019

Glen Ford, BAR executive editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lighting a dark night with a stroke of love

Source:  Granma
November 25 2019

We must keep Fidel present in our hearts and minds. Photo: Granma Archives

He would have exploded with indignation before the attacks by the oligarchy and military against Evo Morales and Bolivia’s process of change; he would be following the popular mobilizations challenging neoliberal dictates in Chile that traveled from north to south in Salvador Allende’s time; and would share the determination of the vast majority of Venezuelans, who with the leadership of Nicolás Maduro and the inspiration of his dear friend Hugo Chávez, do not yield to the desires of imperialism and their lackeys.

Across the length and breadth of our archipelago, he and his ministers would travel through provinces and communities, talk with people on the street, learn the population’s demands and needs first-hand, discuss every proposal until the most fair and precise was found, and keep attention focused on problems, be they serious and large, or small and incidental.

And he would of course be leading his people’s resistance to the brutal escalation of the empire’s efforts to asphyxiate us. Army General Raúl Castro reaffirmed this in Santiago de Cuba, during the commemoration of the Revolution’s 60th anniversary:“Sixty years after the victory, we can state that we are cured of fear, we are not intimidated by the language of force or threats. We were not intimidated when the revolutionary process was not yet consolidated, and will not be, even remotely, now that the unity of the people is an indestructible reality, because if yesterday we were few, today we are an entire people defending our Revolution.

”Fidel survives. No doubt about it. He survives in the continuity of the process, in its constant, unstoppable renewal, in new initiatives that are launched, in our unwavering solidarity with the most noble causes, in the tireless work to make socialism a real possibility.If we want to be faithful to Fidel, we must assume his absolute commitment to human improvement and social justice.

See ourselves in the boy who reacted early against inequality, growing up in Birán; in the young rebel who, during his trial following the Moncada assault, based his self-defense on irrefutable arguments about the terrible consequences of exploitation and the lack of opportunities for the dispossessed; and in the victorious leader who, immediately after defeating the dictatorship, implemented the Agrarian Reform and organized the massive presence of campesinos in the capital; in the Comandante who, on the eve of Playa Girón, called for the defense of “this Revolution of the humble, by the humble, and for the humble.”We need to keep Fidel in our minds and hearts, because as the poet said in a lucid metaphor, he embodies the fight “against the dark night, like a stroke of love.”

Journalism of the left in times of the right

Source:  Granma
March 13 2019

The truth can be silenced, if it does not reach everyone, or is drowned out by lies shouted louder

walter martinez telesur.jpgWalter Martínez is one of those journalists who struggles everyday to spread the truth on his teleSUR program. Photo: panorama.com.ve

As children, one of the first things we learned was that there is strength in unity. Be it from “Once upon a time” tales or the stories of Mama Oca, we came to understand that all together we could move mountains, while alone, the road was steeper.

Later, something simple, that could be so easily understood at an early age, became increasing complicated as the years went by, as we divided ourselves as independent, sometimes selfish, beings, in search of our own wellbeing.

What may appear as no more than a bedtime story is applicable in all spheres of life, even politics, as the people of Latin America should know.

The conservative restoration

The years when Hugo Chávez began a project in Venezuela to put those who were last first – joined by 11 progressive governments across Latin America and the Caribbean, beginning in 1998 – may seem like a long time ago, given the current panorama.

But, as Basque political analyst and journalist Katu Arkonada said on teleSUR: “The 2009 coup against Mel Zelaya in Honduras; the parliamentary coup against Fernando Lugo in Paraguay in 2012; the 2016 impeachment of Dilma in Brazil; and the electoral victory of Macri in Argentina, allowed the attempted conservative restoration to be partially accomplished.”

A restoration which now includes Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian Trump, as the new head of state is known, who is creating a military government, according to the eminent intellectual Frei Betto.

In Ecuador, since the end of Rafael Correa’s administration, the left has been split, and the Citizens Revolution social project dismantled.

Venezuela, for its part, is facing a difficult moment and a fierce media campaign intended to create confusion and fear, to destabilize the country and discredit the government of Nicolás Maduro, democratically elected by a clear majority.

The role of committed media and journalists

So, given this discouraging panorama, what is the role of committed media and journalists? How can we advance the struggle when giant media corporations like O Globo, in Brazil, or Clarín, in Argentina, defend capitalist interests?

Surrender will never be the solution. We must fight, use our revolutionary self-criticism, reach the people; portray the governments that have reduced poverty, provided health, education, and jobs.

This lesson is a pending issue for the left in countries where today neoliberalism is being imposed on our peoples.

Argentine journalist and intellectual Stella Calloni, in an interview with Granma, noted that the left is going through a difficult moment; that in her country telling the truth can be very expensive, as the 3,000 media workers dismissed for “ideological differences” know well.

This is happening in Brazil, too, where television broadcaster O Globo controls 80% of the country’s stations. Journalist Beto Almeida, told Granma, that reporters are suffering persecution, highlighting the case of his two colleagues Juca Kfouri and Jean Wyllys, whose lives have been threatened.

Venezuela offers another example of the damage that new media can do if used maliciously. The truth, if it does not reach everyone, and is drowned out by lies shouted louder, can be silenced. Infamous fake news reports, spread by unethical professionals who prioritize impact over accuracy, influence individuals with manipulative, manufactured scenarios.

The need for journalists of the left to come together

Given this reality, Stella Calloni emphasizes the need for journalists of the left to come together to tell the stories that don’t make the headlines, “We are coming up with ways nows, for example, bringing together all individuals who have web sites to struggle as alternative media, bringing them together to have an amalgam of voices to tell what is happening and is not known.”

Brazilian sports reporter Juca Kfouri commented, “Journalism is characterized by its attempt to make a better world,” and given this premise, he continues to denounce what is going on in his country, despite the threats, using football to raise consciousness.

It is clear that, in the current scenario, more than ever the courage is needed to open the eyes of readers, viewers, radio listeners, knowing how to use media weapons is an urgent challenge. Calloni, in comments made during the International Journalism Forum, emphasized that information is a weapon of war, and reaffirmed that we are facing a cultural battle, with painful results, in which discredit is stronger than a bullet. The right knows how to use these weapons well. The facts show it. Numerous studies show that WhatsApp played a key role in Bolsonaro’s electoral victory. A similar case is that of U.S. President Donald Trump. As journalist Rosa Miriam Elizalde expressed in a recent lecture: “We are facing a new media architecture. While the mass media imposes the agenda, others deal with the personal and emotional base. Today public opinion is not built exclusively with published opinion, but with shared opinion. ”Social media move emotions, which in turn move voters who go to the polls without confirming what they read, accepting Facebook posts as unquestionable truth.

Thus the importance of finding new ways of communicating, while preserving ethical practices of the trade, without resorting to crude manipulations. Seeking, as Calloni said, “a creative way to resist.”

Life online and offline

IN CONTEXT:Many times the debate within the left is lost, counterpoising taking the street versus taking the internet, as if they were mutually exclusive. If there is a central task on the left, it is to understand that life online and offline are not separate, they are a continuum, part of a single body, and the internet can be many things, except an intangible, ethereal world apart. Cyberspace is the heart of a supranational system that is directly related to physical space, in at least three dimensions. First, its communication routes, nodes, and servers (physical infrastructure) are located somewhere geographically. Second, the protocols or rules of the game that allow people to connect – domains – have a national identity and involve zones of sovereignty, state control, and their own language. And third, cyberspace emphasizes physical geography in a special way: with services, navigation devices, technical gadgets, and mobile devices, which create an interactive map of interconnected channels of information, technology, and people. People have nationality, obey laws, and are also physically present somewhere.

It is not chaos, there are laws. This scenario is regulated by hierarchies and the main network nodes (internet) located in a specific physical spot, which accentuate the disparities of contemporary society, establishing a new map in which center and periphery are clearly located. Of course, notions of time and space, of power and freedom, the individual and the collective, the public and private, national and international culture, and the productive and unproductive, but all within this hegemonic capitalist framework. Within this structure, the development of new models of mediation is encouraged, impacting subsystems of production, distribution, and consumption, on the one hand, and the mechanisms of social reproduction and power, on the other.

Source: Lecture by Rosa Miriam Elizalde during the International Journalism Forum, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Cuba’s Mission Truth and the foundation of Prensa Latina.

Hugo Chavez’s Memory Lives on in the Hearts of Latin Americans

Source:  TeleSUR
March 5 2019

hugo chavez lives onHugo Chavez’s presidency in Venezuela extended from 1999 to 2013, but his
presence still remains in the streets and the heart of the country. | Photo: EFE

Hugo Chavez’s presidency in Venezuela extended from 1999 to 2013,
but his presence still remains in the streets and the heart of the country. | Photo: EFE

Published 5 March 2019 (13 hours 5 minutes ago)

Chavez’s spirit was contagious and empowered the region with a passion for Latin America and its colorful history.

Six years since his passing and the memory of Hugo Chavez still remains not only in the hearts of Venezuelans but of Latin Americans around the globe.

RELATED: John Pilger: The War on Venezuela Is Built on Lies

His leadership and legacy revolutionized the state of Venezuela, like no other administration in the nation’s history, cutting the chord from imperialist countries in the north, taking the reins and changing South America’s future.

After centuries of passivity, under Chavez’s administration, Venezuela bloomed into one of the strongest, most independent nations on the continent.

Over the 14 years of his presidency, Chavez made it his mission to bring equality to lower classes from mediating race discrimination to increasing employment opportunities and introducing social programs.

By exploring the expenditure of Venezuela’s oil industry, the former president was able to allocate funds for free housing, literacy, and health care initiatives. Pensions for the elderly surged, jumping from 400,000 to over two million; some 1.5 million Venezuelans benefited from the Mission Robinson I and learned to read and write.

Under Chavez’s policies, poverty rates were cut in half and the level of extreme poverty decreased by two-thirds; child malnutrition decreased and the amount of safe, clean drinking water grew.

In an article published by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Roger D. Harris, Task Force on the Americas, said, “Venezuela went from being among one of the most economically unequal nations in Latin America to being among the most equal through the exercise of state power for the populace.”

Chavez’s spirit was contagious and empowered the region with a passion for Latin America and its colorful history.

His experience was pivotal in the creation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) which united Venezuelan and Cuba in 2003 in a mutually respectful and reciprocal fair trade arrangement. What started as a two-member agreement, soon grew into an 11-member nation concord.

IN DEPTH:  Venezuela Confronts US-backed Right-wing Coup

A second initiative, PetroCaribe, made waves in 2005 when 17 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean joined together to secure a steady energy supply, without overdue interference from Canada or the United States.

Similarly, The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) were created again as a means to break from centuries of tradition and submission orchestrated by the Northern Hemisphere.

The progress realized in Venezuela over the last decade and a half hardly make it surprising that the United States is desperate to instate a Washington-approved head of state.

Over the last few months, the U.S. has increased its efforts to dislodge Chavez’s democratically elected successor, Nicolas Maduro. In its most recent attempt, the U.S. sent “humanitarian aid” to Colombia in a show of solidarity with the Venezuelan opposition and the “suffering boys and girls.” However, violence- perpetrated by opposition forces- broke out along the border and resulted in the injury of numerous state police officials.

This “philanthropic” ploy was denounced by Venezuelan government officials before an international delegation at the United Nations last week, when Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza revealed that the trucks of “food” were carrying equipment for barricades and anti-government movements lodged by the opposition.

Despite these hardships, Maduro’s government continues Chavez’s mission, founding new social programs to boost the economy and employment opportunities, while still ensuring the heart and spirit of “Chavismo” is reflected in modern-day Venezuela.

The Coup in Venezuela Explained

The Coup in Venezuela, Explained

As crisis engulfs Venezuela, Aaron Bastani looks at the political and economic history of the country since Hugo Chavez won power in 1998. His conclusion? That sanctions and oil prices are to blame for the country’s economic plight, while it boasts a far greater tradition of democracy than critics often realise let alone dare to admit.

Related: Venezuela Estimates $38B in Losses from US Sanctions

 

An Open Letter to the American People from President Nicolás Maduro

Source:  Tony Seed’s Weblog
February 7 2019

maduro's open letter to the american people

If I know anything, it is about peoples, such as you. I am a man of the people. I was born and raised in a poor neighborhood of Caracas. I forged myself in the heat of popular and union struggles in a Venezuela submerged in exclusion and inequality. I am not a tycoon, I am a worker of reason and heart. Today I have the great privilege of presiding over the new Venezuela, rooted in a model of inclusive development and social equality, which was forged by Commander Hugo Chávez since 1998 inspired by the Bolivarian legacy.

We live today a historical trance. There are days that will define the future of our countries between war and peace. Your national representatives of Washington want to bring to their borders the same hatred that they planted in Vietnam. They want to invade and intervene in Venezuela – they say, as they said then – in the name of democracy and freedom. But it’s not like that. The history of the usurpation of power in Venezuela is as false as the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It is a false case, but it can have dramatic consequences for our entire region.

Venezuela is a country that, by virtue of its 1999 Constitution, has broadly expanded the participatory and protagonist democracy of the people, and that is unprecedented today, as one of the countries with the largest number of electoral processes in its last 20 years. You might not like our ideology, or our appearance, but we exist and we are millions.

I address these words to the people of the United States of America to warn of the gravity and danger that intend some sectors in the White House to invade Venezuela with unpredictable consequences for my country and for the entire American region. President Donald Trump also intends to disturb noble dialogue initiatives promoted by Uruguay and Mexico with the support of CARICOM for a peaceful solution and dialogue in favour of Venezuela. We know that for the good of Venezuela we have to sit down and talk, because to refuse to dialogue is to choose strength as a way. Keep in mind the words of John F. Kennedy: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate”. Are those who do not want to dialogue afraid of the truth?

The political intolerance towards the Venezuelan Bolivarian model and the desires for our immense oil resources, minerals and other great riches, has prompted an international coalition headed by the US government to commit the serious insanity of militarily attacking Venezuela under the false excuse of a non-existent humanitarian crisis.

The people of Venezuela have suffered painfully social wounds caused by a criminal commercial and financial blockade, which has been aggravated by the dispossession and robbery of our financial resources and assets in countries aligned with this demented onslaught.

And yet, thanks to a new system of social protection, of direct attention to the most vulnerable sectors, we proudly continue to be a country with high human development index and lower inequality in the Americas.

The American people must know that this complex multiform aggression is carried out with total impunity and in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations, which expressly outlaws the threat or use of force, among other principles and purposes for the sake of peace and the friendly relations between the Nations.

We want to continue being business partners of the people of the United States, as we have been throughout our history. Their politicians in Washington, on the other hand, are willing to send their sons and daughters to die in an absurd war, instead of respecting the sacred right of the Venezuelan people to self-determination and safeguarding their sovereignty.

Like you, people of the United States, we Venezuelans are patriots. And we shall defend our homeland with all the pieces of our soul. Today Venezuela is united in a single clamor: we demand the cessation of the aggression that seeks to suffocate our economy and socially suffocate our people, as well as the cessation of the serious and dangerous threats of military intervention against Venezuela. We appeal to the good soul of the American society, victim of its own leaders, to join our call for peace, let us be all one people against warmongering and war.

Long live the peoples of America!

Nicolás Maduro

President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela