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Judi Lynn

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Elections in Venezuela and Chile Advance Left Agenda and Latin American Economic Integration

Elections in Venezuela and Chile Advance Left Agenda and Latin American Economic Integration
Jan 16 2014
Roger Burbach

The elections in Venezuela and Chile in December provided new momentum for the left-leaning governments in Latin America and the ascent of post-neoliberal policies. Over the past decade and a half, the rise of the left has been inextricably tied to the electoral process. In Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador, under the governments of Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa, the electorate has gone to the polls on an average of once a year, voting on referendums, constituent assemblies as well as elections for national offices.

In late November, it appeared the right might be taking the initiative, as the oligarchy and the conservative political parties in Honduras backed by the United States used repression and the manipulation of balloting to keep control of the presidency. And in Venezuela, it was feared the right would come out on top in the December 8 municipal elections. After Maduro's narrow victory margin of 1.5% in the presidential elections in April, the opposition went on the offensive, declaring fraud and waging economic war. If the opposition coalition had won in the municipal elections, or even come close in the popular vote, it was poised to mount militant demonstrations to destabilize and topple the Maduro government. But the decisive victory of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in the municipal elections gave a boost to the presidency of Nicolas Maduro, enabling him to advance the twenty-first century socialism of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez. The PSUV and allied parties won control of 72% of the municipalities and bested the opposition in the popular vote by 54% to 44%.

A class war is going on that is focused on the economy, particularly over who will control the revenue coming from its large petroleum resources that account for over 95% of the country's exports. With no new electoral challenge until the parliamentary elections in late 2015, Maduro now has the political space to take the initiative in dealing with the country's economic problems and to pursue a socialist agenda. As Maduro said on the night of the elections, “we are going to deepen the economic offensive to help the working class and protect the middle class....We're going in with guns blazing, keep an eye out.”

At the other end of the continent, Michele Bachelet one week later won a resounding victory in the Chilean presidential race with 62% of the vote. She has put forth an ambitious package of proposals that would increase corporate taxes from 20% to 25%, dramatically expand access to higher education, improve public health care and overhaul the 1980 Constitution imposed by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Chile has the highest level of income inequality among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s 34 member countries. Within her first hundred days, Bachelet has promised to draft legislation to increase tax revenues by about 3 percent of gross domestic product. On election night Bachelet proclaimed: "Chile has looked at itself, has looked at its path, its recent history, its wounds, its feats, its unfinished business and thus Chile has decided it is the time to start deep transformations," Bachelet proclaimed on election night." There is no question about it: profits can't be the motor behind education because education isn't merchandise and because dreams aren't a consumer good."

More:
https://nacla.org/news/2014/1/16/elections-venezuela-and-chile-advance-left-agenda-and-latin-american-economic-integra

America’s Rogue Government

January 15, 2014
They Don't Mean Well

America’s Rogue Government

by SHELDON RICHMAN

Americans have a strange need to believe that their “leaders” mean well. Nowhere is this more true than in foreign policy. Even when the horror of some government operation is revealed (usually after being kept from the American people), solemn pundits and elder statesmen will drone on about unintended consequences and the fog of war, while admonishing against “pointless” recriminations. Typically, the harshest accusation leveled against those responsible for a calamity is incompetence, and even that’s rare.

Yet when one examines the U.S. government’s bloody record in foreign affairs, it is tough to come away thinking that the long trail of death, mayhem, and devastation is anything but the result of malevolence in the pursuit of political and economic interest.

In a recent article for CounterPunch, former 60 Minutes producer Barry Lando describes the horror inflicted on the Iraqi people by American officials, beginning in 1990 with the George H. W. Bush administration. Officials actually began making life hell for Iraqis well before that, as Lando discusses in this interview with Scott Horton. The U.S. government (specifically, the CIA) not only helped to bring Saddam Hussein to power, it supplied him the means and intelligence to use chemical weapons in his aggressive war against Iran in the 1980s. (The Iranians have not forgotten.) Collusion with Saddam continued right up until he invaded Kuwait, as U.S. officials helped instigate that event by meddling on both sides of the dispute.

“The last thing the U.S. should do is become militarily embroiled in the conflict raging again in Iraq,” Lando writes. “But for Americans to shake their heads in lofty disdain and turn away, as if they have no responsibility for the continued bloodletting, is outrageous. Why? Because America bears a large part of the blame for turning Iraq into the basket case it’s become.”

More:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/15/americas-rogue-government/

Israel’s Hand in Guatemala’s Genocide

Israel’s Hand in Guatemala’s Genocide

January 14, 2014

From the Archive: As world leaders struggle to praise the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, infamous for abetting the 1982 massacre of Palestinian civilians at Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon, another grim chapter of Sharon’s history was his role in the Guatemalan genocide, Robert Parry wrote in 2013.



By Robert Parry (Originally published on May 23, 2013)

At the height of Guatemala’s mass slaughters in the 1980s, including genocide against the Ixil Indians, the Reagan administration worked with Israeli officials to provide helicopters that the Guatemalan army used to hunt down fleeing villagers, according to documentary and eyewitness evidence. During testimony at the recent genocide trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, one surprise was how often massacre survivors cited the Army’s use of helicopters in the scorched-earth offensives.

Journalist Allan Nairn, who covered the war in Guatemala and attended the Rios Montt trial, said in an interview, “one interesting thing that came out in the trial, as witness after witness testified, was a very substantial number of them talked about fleeing into the mountains and being bombed, attacked and machine gunned from U.S. planes and helicopters.

“At the time this was going on, I was aware this was happening in some cases, but from the testimony of the witnesses, it sounded like these attacks from U.S. planes and helicopters were more frequent than we realized at the time. That’s an example of how we don’t know the whole story yet – how extensive the U.S. complicity was in these crimes.”

Part of the mystery was where did Guatemala’s UH-1H “Huey” helicopters come from, since the U.S. Congress continued to resist military sales to Guatemala because of its wretched human rights record. The answer appears to be that some helicopters were arranged secretly by President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council staff through Israeli intelligence networks.

More:
http://consortiumnews.com/2014/01/14/israels-hand-in-guatemalas-genocide-2/

The Right to Health in Ecuador

January 15, 2014
A Constitutional Aim

The Right to Health in Ecuador

by CARINA VANCE

After two decades of social and political upheavals that nearly bankrupted the government on several occasions, Ecuador is now enjoying the most stable period in its history. This new calmer context has enabled the country to break with the priorities of previous governments. Rafael Correa’s government has rehabilitated public services, placing fundamental issues such as education and health, previously the preserve of the technocrats, back at the core of politics and citizenship.

Ecuador’s new constitution, approved by referendum in 2008, gives an important place to public health. It recognises the need for a far-reaching structural reform of the sector, not only the government’s management of it, but more broadly its many social, economic and cultural ramifications through a radical review of the country’s health policy based on a new social contract.

Article 32 of the new constitution states: “Health is a right guaranteed by the state and whose fulfilment is linked to the exercise of other rights, including the right to water, food, education, sport, work, social security, a healthy environment and everything that promotes well-being. The state shall guarantee this right by implementing economic social, cultural, educational and environmental policies. It shall guarantee permanent, timely and non-exclusive access to programmes, actions and services promoting and providing comprehensive healthcare and reproductive health. The provision of healthcare services shall be governed by the principles of equity, universality, solidarity, interculturalism, quality, efficiency, effectiveness, prevention, and bioethics with a fair gender and generational approach.”

Article 32 highlights the government’s multi-disciplinary approach. In addition to direct action, the goal is to combine healthcare policy with various related social issues — such as access to potable water — and lay down some fundamental principles to guide the state in the management of its services.

More:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/15/the-right-to-health-in-ecuador/

New Memo: Kissinger Gave the "Green Light" for Argentina's Dirty War

New Memo: Kissinger Gave the "Green Light" for Argentina's Dirty War

—By David Corn

| Tue Jan. 14, 2014 12:23 PM GMT

Only a few months ago, Henry Kissinger was dancing with Stephen Colbert in a funny bit on the latter's Comedy Central show. But for years, the former secretary of state has sidestepped judgment for his complicity in horrific human rights abuses abroad, and a new memo has emerged that provides clear evidence that in 1976 Kissinger gave Argentina's neofascist military junta the "green light" for the dirty war it was conducting against civilian and militant leftists that resulted in the disappearance—that is, deaths—of an estimated 30,000 people.

In April 1977, Patt Derian, a onetime civil rights activist whom President Jimmy Carter had recently appointed assistant secretary of state for human rights, met with the US ambassador in Buenos Aires, Robert Hill. A memo recording that conversation has been unearthed by Martin Anderson, who in 1987 first reported that Kissinger had told the Argentine generals to proceed with their terror campaign against leftists (whom the junta routinely referred to as "terrorists". The memo notes that Hill told Derian about a meeting Kissinger held with Argentine Foreign Minister Cesar Augusto Guzzetti the previous June. What the two men discussed was revealed in 2004 when the National Security Archive obtained and released the secret memorandum of conversation for that get-together. Guzzetti, according to that document, told Kissinger, "our main problem in Argentina is terrorism." Kissinger replied, "If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly. But you must get back quickly to normal procedures." In other words, go ahead with your killing crusade against the leftists.

The new document shows that Kissinger was even more explicit in encouraging the Argentine junta. The memo recounts Hill describing the Kissinger-Guzzetti discussion this way:

The Argentines were very worried that Kissinger would lecture to them on human rights. Guzzetti and Kissinger had a very long breakfast but the Secretary did not raise the subject. Finally Guzzetti did. Kissinger asked how long will it take you (the Argentines) to clean up the problem. Guzzetti replied that it would be done by the end of the year. Kissinger approved.

In other words, Ambassador Hill explained, Kissinger gave the Argentines the green light.

That's a damning statement: a US ambassador saying a secretary of state had egged on a repressive regime that was engaged in a killing spree.

More:
http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/01/new-memo-kissinger-gave-green-light-argentina-dirty-war?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Motherjones%2Fmojoblog+%28MotherJones.com+%7C+MoJoBlog%29

World Bank's ethics under scrutiny after Honduras loan investigation

World Bank's ethics under scrutiny after Honduras loan investigation

Private lending arm lent millions to palm oil company accused of links to assassinations and forced evictions, audit reveals

Posted by
Nina Lakhani

Monday 13 January 2014 11.07 EST

The verdict could not have been clearer: the World Bank's private lending arm failed to comply with its own ethical standards when it lent millions of dollars to a Honduran palm oil company accused of links to assassinations and forced evictions.

This was the damning verdict by the World Bank's Office of the Compliance Adviser/ Ombudsman (CAO) on Friday. It had investigated whether a $30m (£18.2m) loan by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to Corporation Dinant, an agribusiness owned by one of Honduras's richest and most powerful men Miguel Facussé, was made after proper environmental and social due diligence.

The investigation was triggered by local NGOs accusing Dinant of direct and indirect involvement in a campaign of terror against campesinos, or peasant farmers, in the fertile Bajo Aguán valley in the north. Dinant claimed any violence was either unconnected to the company or legitimate self-defence.

The audit, one of the most critical issued by the Bank's internal watchdog, was unequivocal. The IFC failed to spot the serious social, political and human rights context in which Dinant operates, or if it did, failed to act effectively on the information; and failed to disclose vital project information, consult with local communities, or to identify the project as a high-risk investment.

More:
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/jan/13/world-bank-ethics-scrutiny-honduras-loan-investigation

Cuba: 55 Years of Ideas and Truth

Weekend Edition January 10-12, 2014
An Ongoing Revolution

Cuba: 55 Years of Ideas and Truth
by W.T. WHITNEY

On January 1, Cubans 2014 marked the 55th anniversary of their revolution’s victory. Fidel Castro’s words spoken May 1, 2000 cropped up in President Raul Castro’s speech in Santiago de Cuba. Revolution, they said, is “to believe deeply there’s no force in the world capable of crushing the force of truth and ideas.”

Commentator Ángel Guerra Cabrera recalls one idea: “To understand the conflict between Cuba and the United States it’s necessary to study Latin American history. It shows the superpower has never tolerated our countries developing internal or external politics separate from its dictates.”

Raul Castro articulated another: “[N]ew generations of leaders … never will be able to forget that this is the socialist Revolution of the humble, by the humble, and for the humble. This is the essential premise and effective antidote for not falling for the siren songs of the enemy.”

Political talkers sometimes label ideas as utopian, among them that of ending the anti-Cuban U.S. blockade now. “Cuba [however] is still embracing utopia in year 55 of the triumph of its revolution,” affirms Guerra Cabrera.

More:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/10/cuba-55-years-of-ideas-and-truth/

World Bank's Lending Arm Linked To Deadly Honduras Conflict

World Bank's Lending Arm Linked To Deadly Honduras Conflict
By Kate Woodsome
Posted: 01/10/2014 5:36 pm EST | Updated: 01/10/2014 6:28 pm EST
World Bank's Lending Arm Linked To Deadly Honduras Conflict

The World Bank's private lending arm failed to apply its own ethical standards in disbursing millions of dollars to a palm oil company accused of turning a region of Honduras into a war zone, according to an internal bank investigation.
The audit, released Friday by the World Bank’s Office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, says IFC staff underestimated the social and environmental risks related to the security and land conflict associated with its investment in palm oil giant Corporacion Dinant.

~snip~
That “risk environment” involved the killing, kidnapping and forced eviction of farmers, journalists and lawyers in Honduras’ northern Aguan Valley. Washington-based Rights Action and other advocacy groups accuse Dinant, owned by powerful businessman Miguel Facusse, of turning the area into a war zone. The CAO cites allegations that 102 members of subsistence farming associations in the Aguán Valley have been murdered in the last four years. Forty of the deaths were associated with Dinant property or its security guards. Dinant denies wrongdoing and says its staff are the victim of attacks by armed farmers.

The deteriorating risk environment noted by the CAO was caused in large part by the July 2009 overthrow of Manuel Zelaya, the left-leaning president who visited the Aguan Valley promising land reforms just days before his ouster. Subsistence farmers, without a political ally, took matters into their own hands in December 2009, illegally occupying land owned by Facusse that they say was wrongfully taken from them.

Dinant spokesman Roger Pineda denies Facusse, the uncle of a former president and one of the richest, most powerful men in Honduras, was knowingly involved in the political upheaval. U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks say Facusse backed the coup and that his plane was used to fly Zelaya’s foreign minister out of Honduras.

More:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/10/world-bank-honduras_n_4577861.html

U.S. acts to keep minority, disabled students out of jail

Source: Reuters

U.S. acts to keep minority, disabled students out of jail
WASHINGTON Wed Jan 8, 2014 12:02am EST

(Reuters) - The Justice and Education departments unveiled guidelines on Wednesday to prevent schools from violating civil rights laws and keep students out of jail after data found minorities and the disabled were more likely than others to face discipline or arrest.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the guidelines were aimed at giving direction to school law enforcement officers, protecting the civil rights of students, and keeping kids in the classroom.

"A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal's office, not in a police precinct," Holder said in a statement.

The guidelines came after the Justice Department sued Mississippi state and local officials in 2012 over what it called a "school-to-prison pipeline" that violated the rights of children, especially black and disabled youths.



Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/08/us-usa-education-discipline-idUSBREA0705S20140108?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=politicsNews&rpc=401

Nations come knocking on Uruguay’s door to buy cannabis

Nations come knocking on Uruguay’s door to buy cannabis

  • Canada, Chile and Israel express interest in purchasing marijuana for medicinal purposes

  • Alejandro Rebossio Buenos Aires 7 ENE 2014 - 17:42 CET


    Pharmacies in Canada, Chile and Israel have been lining up to inquire about the possibilities of purchasing marijuana from the government of Uruguay, which just two weeks ago became the first country in the world to legalize the sale and harvest of cannabis for its citizens.

    Uruguay’s experiment to begin regulating marijuana sales is in response to the failed policies and laws aimed at cracking down on the drug trade, President José Mujica has insisted.

    According to the Montevideo daily El Observador, government officials and laboratories in Canada, as well as pharmaceutical companies in Chile and Israel, have contacted the Mujica administration to begin holding talks on the purchase of marijuana supplies to be used in those countries for medicinal purposes.

    The controversial law, which was passed last month despite fierce opposition, does not address export sales of cannabis but nor does it prohibit them.

    More:
    http://elpais.com/elpais/2014/01/07/inenglish/1389112706_401489.html
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