Encounter with Lula in prison: spirituality and politics

Source:  Cube Network in Defense of Humanity / alainet

by Leonardo Boff
May 23 2018

lula speaks from prison.jpgAs of May 7th, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had spent 30 days in prison. For the first time, he was allowed to receive visits from his friends. I had the honor of being the first to visit him, due to our friendship of more than 30 years, and that we share the same Causa: Liberating the impoverished, and reinforcing life’s spiritual dimension. I fulfilled the evangelical precept: “I was in jail and you visited me”.
Filled with energy

I found him as we knew him before he was imprisoned: the same face, hair, beard… only somewhat more slender. Those who hoped to see him angry or depressed must be disappointed. He is filled with energy and hope. His cell is large, very clean, with built-in-cupboards, and a bathroom and shower in an enclosed space. The first impression is good, even though he lives in isolation because, other than his lawyers and children, he can only talk with the guard, who is of Ukrainian origin, gentle and attentive, who has become his admirer. He brings Lula his food tray, more warm or cool, and coffee whenever he requests it. Lula does not accept the food his children bring him, because he wants to eat as the other prisoners do, without any privileges. He has his time to take in the sun. But lately, when he does that, drones appear overhead. As a precaution Lula leaves, because the purpose of those drones is unknown: to take photos of him, or perhaps something more sinister.

Spirituality

Among our discussions of politics, the most important was our conversation on spirituality… Lula is a religious man, but of the popular religiosity, for which God is existential evidence. I found him reading one of my books, The Lord is my Shepherd, (from editorial Voces) a commentary on the famous Psalm 23, the most read of the Psalms, which is also read by other religions. He felt fortified and confirmed, because the Bible is generally critical of pastor/politicians, and praises those who care for the poor, the orphans and the widows. Lula feels that he belongs in that line, with his social policies that benefited so many millions. He does not accept criticism as being a “populist.” Lula says: “I belong to the people, I come from the people and direct my policies, as much as I can, towards the people”.

At the head of his bed there is a crucifix. He uses the time of solitary confinement to reflect, meditate, to review so many things in his life, and to deepen the fundamental convictions that give meaning to his political actions, all that his mother, Lindu (whom he considers his protector and inspiring angel), often repeated to him: always be honest, and struggle and struggle more. Lula sees in that the meaning of his personal and political life: a struggle that everyone may have a dignified life, and not just a few at the expense of the others. “The greatness of a politician is measured by the greatness of his Causa”, he emphatically told me. And the Causa must be to make a life for everyone, starting with those who have the least. For that reason, Lula does not accept definitive defeat. Nor does he want to fall on his face. He does not want to fail, but to remain always faithful to his basic purpose, and to make of politics a great tool for organizing a life of justice and peace for all, especially for those who live in the hell of hunger and misery.
I am a candidate

This dream has an undeniable ethical and spiritual greatness. It is in the light of these convictions that Lula maintains his tranquility, because he says and reiterates that he lives for that interior truth, one that possesses its own strength, that one day will become evident. “I only hoped”, he commented, “for it to happen after my death, but it is already happening, even now, while I am alive”. He becomes profoundly indignant at the lies spread about him, based on which they have mounted the triplex procedure. He wonders: “How can these persons consciously lie and sleep in peace?” He challenges Judge Sergio Moro: “show me a single shred of evidence that I own the triplex of Guaruja; If you show me one, I will renounce my candidacy to the Presidency”.

He asked me to pass a message on to the press and the people in the encampment: “I am a candidate. I want to carry on with rescuing the poor, and to create social policies in their favor, State policies, and that the costs –that are investments– are in the budgets of the Union. I will radicalize these policies for the poor, with the poor, and to dignify our country”.

Meditation has made him understand that prison has a meaning that transcends him, me, and the political disputes. It must be the same price that Gandhi and Mandela paid, with prison and persecution, to reach what they accomplished. “This I believe, and hope”, he told me, “that this is what I am going through now”.

I who came to encourage him, left encouraged. I hope that others are also encouraged. and shout “Free Lula!”, against a Justice that does not manifest justice.

Nicaragua regains its balance

Source:  Cuba Network in Defense of Humanity

May 2018

by Tortilla con Sal

daniel ortega May 2018Recent disturbances in Nicaragua have served as a kind of who-is-who separating anti-imperialists from cynical phonies both inside and outside the country. The tsunami of disinformation has swamped both the usual suspect mainstream corporate media outlets and their alternative accomplices but also other news sites that are generally anti-imperialist on issues like Syria or Palestine, Russia or Iran.

Like Venezuela, Nicaragua is in the cross hairs of the Western elites and their governments because the country’s Sandinista President Daniel Ortega and his team have successfully implemented socialist inspired policies while also defending the principles of a multi-polar world based on international law.

What happened

The events in Nicaragua resulted from years of frustration and resentment among the country’s political opposition that they cannot win elections. Since 2011, in elections ratified by observers from US government dominated Organization of American States and from the European Union, Nicaragua’s political opposition parties have struggled to win more than around 30% electoral support. In 2016, President Daniel Ortega was re-elected with around 70% of the vote.

In recent months, national and international opinion polls have indicated levels of support for President Ortega at well over 60%, making claims of mass rejection of his government look ridiculous.

The apparent trigger for the sudden explosion of violence between April 18th and April 22nd across the country was the April 16th announcement of reforms to the country’s social security system. Two aspects of that announcement played into the hands of the country’s extremist minority opposition. Firstly, the government mistakenly thought they could announce the reforms due for implementation in July and explain them in detail later to the public. Secondly, the reforms were announced during a university election period with students actively debating and mobilizing around issues of concern to them. That opened the way for the political opposition to mount a vigorous disinformation campaign via social media cynically fooling large numbers of students into public protests by misrepresenting the government’s pro-worker, pro-pensioner proposals while omitting the private business sector’s plan to slash benefits, restrict coverage and privatize public sector clinics.

On Wednesday April 18th, rival groups of students clashed violently in Managua and then student protesters against the government fought with police trying to restore order. The government condemned the protests, which inflamed the demonstrating students, many of whom have supported the Sandinista government’s very successful social and economic programs. Then from April 19th onward, extremist opposition activists hijacked the student protests, attacking hospitals, government and municipal authority offices, public buildings of all kinds, university precincts and even the country’s brand new national baseball stadium. Among many similar incidents, in the small southern town of Diriamba, hundreds of opposition activists attacked and seriously damaged the municipal offices which were defended by just 12 police officers.

Similar attacks occurred in other cities, including Managua and the northern town of Estelí where municipal workers occupied their offices to defend them against possible attacks by extremist opposition activists. Estelí’s municipal offices were attacked on the night of Friday April 20th by over 500 people, most of whom were not from Estelí but including both local students and a number of opportunist delinquents. With police trying to keep order, the attackers fired over 1000 mortar rounds and threw around 17 molotov cocktails trying to destroy the municipal offices and other targets nearby. 18 police and 16 municipal workers were wounded. Among the protesters, two young students were shot dead and numerous people injured. The fighting lasted for five hours, covering an area of around 16 blocks with the attackers using firearms and knives. While the opposition media blame the police for the deaths, local reporters insist it is impossible assign blame in such confused events without a detailed investigation.

Sequels

Nationally, most estimates reckon around 20 people were killed in the violence. Among the dead were two police officers and a Sandinista journalist, while other fatalities include Sandinista and opposition activists as well as bystanders caught up in the violence. The pattern of the attacks suggests a well formulated plan with preparations already in place before the protests started. For example, outside Managua there was no violence reported in important towns like Matagalpa, Jinotega and Ocotal. By focusing on Masaya, León and Estelí, the opposition extremists tried to create false symmetry between their violent offensive and the centers of insurrection against the Somoza dictatorship in 1979.

Obvious questions are who may have funded the very widespread attacks and how they were able to have ready for instant use a quantity of weapons produced on a semi-industrial scale. Overall the attackers fired many thousands of mortar rounds each one costing over US$3. The cost of transport to move hundreds of militants between Managua, Leon and Chinandega, Estelí, and towns around Granada also runs into many thousands of dollars. In Managua, impoverished young delinquents were being paid US$10 to US$15 per day to participate in the attacks. Clearly, the opposition extremists who hijacked the student protests for their own ends were very well organized, funded and prepared before the protests even began.

From Sunday April 22nd onward, numerous sectors, including religious and business sectors, reacted against the violence increasingly calling for it to stop. In Managua, thousands of ordinary people mobilized extensively to defend their neighborhoods from marauding looters. That day, President Ortega announced the withdrawal of the proposed Social Security reforms and the start of an inclusive national dialogue. In towns outside Managua, life abruptly returned to something like normal as if someone had thrown a switch. On Monday, funerals for the dead, as well as protest marches in Managua and elsewhere, went off peacefully. Despite inflated opposition claims, independent media like El Nuevo Diario reported numbers similar to other big opposition demonstrations of recent years.

National Dialogue

Scheduled to start over the weekend of April 28th-29th, the national dialogue is planned to include all sectors of Nicaraguan society and will be mediated by the Catholic Church led by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes. The government and the country’s other authorities are supporting the dialogue by means of a public investigation into the deaths, injuries and damage to property by the country’s Public Prosecution service. The official Legal Office for the Defense of Human Rights is establishing a nationwide Committee of Victims for Punishment and Reparations to support people affected by the disturbances. The country’s legislature, the National Assembly, has established a Truth Commission to give a hearing to conflicting accounts of the disturbances.

Together with the national dialogue process, these initiatives will help inform people inside and outside Nicaragua of what really happened during the violent incidents that began last April 18th. many people in Nicaragua think what will emerge will radically contradict the sinister fictions and false beliefs massively propagated by opposition social media and Western corporate media and NGOs. As the facts emerge, the extremist opposition minority and their agenda promoting US intervention will probably find even more widespread abhorrence and rejection than exists already of what they have done to damage Nicaragua’s hard won social peace and economic well-being.

Brazil: Media Trying to Whitewash and Exploit Marielle Franco’s Political Radicalism

Source:  The Intercept

by Glenn Greenwald

marielle franco 3.jpgVereadora Marielle Franco was the fifth most voted of the last elections and
was based in the favela of Maré

ON SUNDAY NIGHT, Brazil’s most powerful television outlet, Rede Globo, devoted 45 minutes of its highly watched “Fantastico” program to the assassination of Rio City Council Member Marielle Franco and the killing of her driver, Anderson Gomes. This story has dominated headlines in Brazil for a full week, and, as protests proliferate around the country, it continues to be covered as a major story by news outlets around the world.

This was not a case in which Globo has elevated a story to major prominence. This was the opposite: Globo trying to take hold of a story that has exploded through citizen-driven online activism and anger without any need for bolstering from major media outlets.

Major media relegated to bystander

For once, Brazil’s major media has been a bystander in this story, not its driver. Globo could see that the reaction to Marielle’s killing was growing, getting stronger, moving in directions that make many Brazilian elites extremely uncomfortable. Last night’s “Fantastico” coverage was Globo’s attempt to get this story under control — under its control.

There were parts of “Fantastico’s” reporting that were genuinely informative and journalistically excellent — particularly Sonia Bridi’s detailed, evidence-based exposition of how this horrific crime was carried out with such chilling professionalism and competence, convincingly showing that whoever engineered the murders knew exactly how police would investigate and exactly how to prevent detection.

That terrorizing fact is an important piece of the puzzle when understanding who ordered Marielle to be killed; whoever killed the activist who devoted herself to denouncing police abuses is intimately familiar with how the police function.

Other parts were genuinely moving and beautifully presented, particularly the interviews with Marielle’s devastated widow Mônica, and, separately, with Marielle’s 19-year-old daughter, her parents, and her sister. The prominent inclusion of Anderson’s life and death, and the delicately handled and wrenching interview with his grieving widow, was commendable given the temptation to forget about the death of Marielle’s driver.

Marielle’s remarkable life trajectory

The show also did justice to how remarkable and inspiring was the trajectory of Marielle’s life: from poverty, deprivation, and single motherhood at 19 as a black woman in a favela to a master’s degree in sociology, human rights activism, and political empowerment through massive voter support in her 2016 election to the City Council.

marielle franco's widow.jpg“Fantastico” interview with Marielle’s widow, Mônica.   YouTube/Fantastico

This was not an insignificant media moment in Brazil. A black, leftist lesbian from the sprawling Maré favela, and from the socialist PSOL party, was honored and glorified on one of Globo’s most important media platforms, while millions of ordinary Brazilians around the country, far away from Rio and São Paulo, watched. They prominently featured, rather than hid, Marielle’s wife.

The perspectives of prominent leftist politicians and activists were respectfully included. And they condemned and vilified the right-wing politicians and judges who have used the internet to spread disgusting lies about Marielle designed to malign her with toxic stereotypes of black women from favelas (she was pregnant at 16, married to a notorious drug dealer, supported in her election by a drug gang: all demonstrable lies). All of that is worth celebrating.

A political person

BUT MARIELLE WAS, first and foremost, a political person: a radical in the best and most noble sense of that word. It’s her radicalism that made her such an inspiration to so many ordinary and voiceless citizens, and a threat to so many powerful and corrupt factions. Her political activism, her political beliefs, were Marielle’s core, a major part of her identity, the centerpiece of what made her a figure of such singular force and power.

The crime that ended her life was also purely political. There is no way to meaningfully understand Marielle’s life and assassination without a candid, clear, and honest discussion of her politics. What makes her story such big news is her politics, which in turn produced the political motives that caused powerful people to want her dead.

These are the most difficult, most complicated, and most important subjects to cover when reporting on Marielle’s life and death: her relentless and brave activism against the most lawless police battalions, her opposition to military intervention, and, most threateningly of all, her growing power as a black, gay woman from the favela seeking not to join Brazil’s power structure, but to subvert it.

What “Fantastico” avoided almost entirely

It’s not a coincidence that the last event she attended, the one where she was followed and then killed upon leaving, was titled, “Young Black Women Changing Power Structures.”

And it was these subjects that “Fantastico” avoided almost entirely — except when they brazenly manipulated them for its own purposes. The only segment purporting to describe Marielle’s politics was an extremely banal, condescending discussion of the definition of “human rights,” which “Fantastico” basically reduced to an anodyne, uncontroversial declaration that all humans are born free and should be treated equally: propositions that virtually every Brazilian politician from right to left would happily endorse. They drained Marielle’s politics of its vibrancy, radicalism, and force, and converted it into a simplistic comic book of empty clichés that nobody would find objectionable.

Extinguishing Marielle’s real political sensibilities were necessary to achieve Globo’s real objectives here. The emotions from Marielle’s brutal assassination are overwhelming and powerful. The question is, to what ends will those emotions be directed? What outcomes will they foster? What views and movements will they strengthen?

Ultimately, what “Fantastico” was really up to here became extremely clear by the end of its coverage. They took the still-expanding power of Marielle’s story and tried to reduce its power — limit it — to a simple, apolitical human interest story, something that made you cry and feel sad and empathetic and maybe angry, but not in any way that would make you embrace Marielle’s causes or crusades for justice or devote yourself to the political agenda she symbolized.

Awakening  traditionally powerless people

Globo and its comrades in elite culture see a serious danger in the aftermath of Marielle’s killing, for good reason. They see that it is awakening — emboldening — traditionally powerless people to the cruelties of extreme societal inequality and the intolerable racist criminality of its police forces.

It is galvanizing favela residents to organize and mobilize. It is pointing an accusatory finger not at drug traffickers and ordinary criminals — the favored Globo narrative — but at the very forces used by the country’s elite to impose its will and secure its privileges: its military, its police, and its traditionally white, male, rich political system.

It was those factions and those policies which Marielle had devoted her life to fighting — not just in defense of the pleasing, unchallenging, clichéd notions of “human rights” that “Fantastico” centered. Those who feel threatened by Marielle’s activism and political principles see that her death is strengthening those things — and desperately want to re-direct these powerful emotions away from what she believed and inspired, toward something less disruptive, less threatening to status quo power.

That’s why “Fantastico” went heavy on the powerful human emotions of this story — the grieving, weeping relatives, the killing of a hardworking father who supported his baby by working as a driver, the anger we all feel when human life is violently extinguished, the mournful music that made us feel tearful — and ignored the scarier political aspects of Marielle’s life.

Globo knows it can’t stop or limit the powerful emotions, so it wants to render them apolitical and thus, harmless. It wants all of this sadness and indignation to fall into a black hole of political irrelevance, like one of the TV network’s emotion-heavy soap operas, in which Marielle’s killing has no meaning beyond just making people angrier still about the violence plaguing Brazil.

Trying to exploit Marielle to reinforce support for a policy that Marielle despised

But far worse than the suppression of Marielle’s political beliefs was “Fantastico’s” one attempt to politicize her death — by trying to exploit Marielle to reinforce support for a policy that Marielle despised: Michel Temer’s recent military “intervention” in Rio de Janeiro, the first time since the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship in 1985 that the military is occupying a major city.

After 45 minutes of building emotional sadness and anger over Marielle’s death, “Fantastico” tried to channel that into manipulating, exploiting, and subverting Marielle’s political causes. Immediately following the segments about Marielle, “Fantastico” devoted one segment to the horrific killing of a child last week in a Rio slum, the Complexo do Alemão, and then immediately went live to one of its reporters in Brasília, describing how Temer was meeting that very moment with ministers to consider more funding for the military invention.

marielle franco 4 fist saluteWomen raise their hands in protest of the death of Marielle in Rio de Janeiro on March 15, 2018.  Photo: Ian Cheibub/AGIF/AP

And it was at that moment “Fantastico’s” odious, menacing agenda became crystal clear. It wasn’t just to stomp out the possibility that Marielle’s killing would galvanize support for her life’s political project. It was far worse: to try to ensure that Marielle’s death could be exploited to strengthen everything she fought to subvert. The message from “Fantastico” was as obvious as it was odious: Now that we just spent all this time making you so sad and angry about Marielle’s brutal assassination, you must see why Temer’s military intervention is so justified.

PSOL officials and other left-wing activists instantly recognized the ugly agenda at play and denounced it on social media by pointing out that Marielle vehemently opposed military occupation as a gross waste of resources that would solve nothing and make everything worse, while directly threatening democracy.


Making MLK unthreatening

PERHAPS THE REASON I’m particularly sensitive to this distortion scheme is because I’ve seen exactly this reprehensible media tactic used so effectively in the U.S. During the 1990s, a vicious, ugly debate consumed the U.S. over whether to declare Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday.

And it was easy to understand why this was so controversial. King was a true radical, hated by many. He railed against the evils of capitalism. He urged the most oppressed populations to rise up. He uncompromisingly condemened U.S. imperialism. In a speech given one year before he was killed, devoted to denouncing the U.S. role Vietnam War, he called the U.S. government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” as well as the leading exponent of “the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long.”

So, if you’re an American political or economic elite, and know that you can’t erase the memory of someone with such threatening, disruptive views, what do you do? You erase all the views that you find threatening when allowing him to be celebrated, and convert what he symbolizes into something simplistic, clichéd, and unthreatening. On King’s holiday, his contempt for capitalism and denunciations of U.S. imperialism are rarely mentioned. Few Americans know about them now. He is instead just spoken of as a symbol of elementary, vague conceptions of racial equality that few people outside of malicious fringes openly reject: He has been reduced to his lowest common denominator and the genuinely disruptive parts of his worldview and activism have been deliberately erased from his history.

Marielle opposed military intervention in Rio

And just as “Fantastico” tried last night to exploit Marielle’s memory into support for a policy she had spent the last month of her life opposing — military intervention in Rio — the U.S. government now exploits the pleasant memory of MLK into support for militarism and imperialism, something he hated with all of his being. The U.S. military actually uses King’s name and image in its propaganda, as if the mere fact that its killing force is now racially integrated would make King proud and supportive of U.S. violence and its various killing machines:

This is what many in Brazilian media and political elites are now trying to do with Marielle. They know she will not be forgotten, and that the anger and disgust at her brutal assassination is not going away. So the project is now underway to drain her of her radicalism and disruptive energy and instead, convert her into a generic and pleasant symbol, so that they can exploit her for their own ends, including to generate support for status quo-perpetuating policies that she loathed.

Last night’s “Fantastico” episode was the first step in that project. It’s the responsibility of those who believe in Marielle’s vision and activism — not just in Brazil, but around the world — not to allow this gross revisionism and exploitation to succeed.

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

Source:  TeleSUR
March 15 2018

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

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

RELATED: Brazilian Rights Activist Marielle Franco Assassinated in Rio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The End of Electoral Contests in Latin America?

Source:  La Santa Mambisa

March 12 2018

by Alfredo Serrano Mancilla

(Translated by Keith Ellis)

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

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

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

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

Venezuela: Maduro invites opposition to meet with government

Source:  Granma
December 4 2017

nicolas maduro nov 2017 2

“On 372 occasions I have called for a national dialogue,” said the president. | Photo: @PresidencialVen

Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro, invited opposition members to meet with government representatives at Miraflores Palace, in order to strengthen formal talks and review the six point agenda agreed upon by both parties in talks held December 1-2 in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic.

“I want to invite Deputy Julio Borges, Deputy Luis Florido, Deputy Timoteo Zambrano and Deputy Luis Aquiles Moreno, representing opposition parties, Justice First, People’s Will, Democratic Action, and A New Time, to Miraflores Palace this week,” Maduro stated during the 98th episode of the weekly television program he hosts on VTV, Los Domingos con Maduro.

The head of state recalled that the Venezuelan government maintains a constant dialogue with all the country’s productive and social sectors, and highlighted the importance of consolidating formal talks with all political sectors for the well-being of the country.

“Now we need a political dialogue with all the country’s political actors, with all political forces and factions, I have insisted a great deal on there being dialogue and a permanent system of transparent dialogue regarding the country with the opposition,” he stated, according to AVN.

Maduro also highlighted the repeated calls he has made to oppositions sectors to participate in talks in order to achieve peace. “I have called for national dialogue on 372 occasions,” he stressed.

Zimbabwe Ruling Party Replaces Mugabe as Leader with Ousted VP

Source:  TeleSUR
November 19 2017

Robert Mugabe 5.jpg
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. | Photo: Reuters FILE

Grace Mugabe has been expelled from the ZANU-PF party as well.

Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF has removed President Robert Mugabe as head of the party, replacing him with Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had recently been ousted as the country’s vice president. Mugabe remains the president of the country.

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Grace Mugabe, the president’s wife, as well as Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Ignatius Chombo and Patrick Zhuwao, Mugabe’s nephew, were expelled from the party.

The meeting, held by ZANU-PF’s Central Committee, the highest decision-making body in the party, comes one day after a march of tens of thousands of people, in favor of ousting the long-serving leader. Protesters waved Zimbabwean flags and hoisted placards with slogans like, “Mugabe Must Rest Now,” and “No to a Mugabe Dynasty.”

However, the army reiterated that their action is “not a coup” and “not against President Mugabe,” but against “criminals” within his sphere and those who support Grace Mugabe’s political ambitions, which splintered the party ahead of its upcoming national congress to select a new leader before planned presidential elections in 2018.

Regarded across Africa and the diaspora as one of the last liberation fighters against European colonialism on the continent, a struggle epitomized in Bob Marley’s song “Zimbabwe,” Mugabe is said to have asked to serve the rest of his presidential term until next year’s elections when he will voluntarily step down. Mugabe made a public appearance days after the army came onto the streets and was seen in photos shaking hands and smiling with the army general who led the military action.

The Zimbabwe parliament

Military leaders are also set to meet with Mugabe later on Sunday, with a Catholic priest expected to mediate between the army and president, who has rejected a deal to step down, CNN reported, citing an official.

The Zimbabwe parliament is set to meet on Tuesday and could vote to start impeachment proceedings against Mugabe.

On Wednesday, the army seized power in the capital, Harare, but denied they had carried out a coup stating they were attempting to strike a deal with the president to resign.

The elder statesman put the African nation into a tailspin after firing his Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was tipped as his successor.

Zimbabwe’s Indigenization Minister Patrick Zhuwao said the veteran leader “is willing to die for his principles.” Mugabe has been the elected leader of Zimbabwe for 37 years.

RELATED: Mugabe Stripped of WHO Goodwill Ambassadorship

Ousting former president Ian Smith

After having been imprisoned for over a decade by colonial forces, as well as being prohibited from attending the funeral of his three-year-old son, Michael Nhamodzenyika, Mugabe helped lead the Chimurenga Bush War from Mozambique to oust former president Ian Smith and his white minority government.

He’d come under fire for reclaiming land to distribute more equitably among his compatriots. By 2013, despite the British government withholding the white farmer’s compensation package, Mugabe had lived up to his end of the bargain, expropriating or confirming for redistribution most of their land.

The United States imposed a credit freeze on Zimbabwe in 2001. The European Union followed suit in 2002 by imposing sanctions in the form of an asset freeze and travel ban. The measures led to a major trade deficit and adversely affected the country’s healthcare system.redistribution