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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 147,806

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A National Strike Has Reignited in Colombia -- and Is Winning Some Victories



A protester seen shouting the 72 names of the victims assassinated by police in front of the Tequendama Hotel, where the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) met with union leaders on June 9, 2021.
ANTONIO CASCIO / SOPA IMAGES / LIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY IMAGES

BY
John Walsh, Truthout
PUBLISHED
June 12, 2021

Since April 28, people in Colombia’s cities and towns have engaged in an ongoing national strike, el paro nacional. Originally called in November 2019 by the major labor federations in opposition to a package of neoliberal tax, health care, pension and education legislation emerging from the right-wing national government, the strike went dormant for a stretch after the pandemic hit Colombia, but now has resurfaced stronger than ever — and activists are starting to win some national and local victories.

Thousands have taken to the streets across the country in marches and rallies. Truck drivers have halted the movement of merchandise. Where support for the strike is strongest — in lower-income neighborhoods of cities such as Cali and Bogotá — points of resistance have formed, where by day, community and cultural activities take place, and by night, too often, police and paramilitary attacks occur, met by the opposition of the primera linea, the frontline force of low-income young people who confront “less-lethal” munitions and live gunfire with shields made from chemical drums and rocks.

Each act of protest, whether march, rally or resistance point, has its own composition and forms of expression, reflecting the diversity of contexts underlying the strike. In the city centers, artistic actions and manifestations of gender diversity have opened new spaces, while in the forgotten neighborhoods neglected by public institutions, agency is exercised by pelados/peladas, low-income young people, many from Black or campesino (peasant) families displaced from the countryside to urban areas and forced into underground economies that fill the void of economic opportunities — a generation and population without a future, unless they themselves create it, a realization which steels their resolve.



A march during the one-month mark of the national strike, Cali, Colombia, on May 28, 2021.
JOHN WALSH

Retaliatory repression by the Colombian state is violent, lawless and lethal. Statistical reports are certainly undercounts, both because of the chaotic situation and, more importantly, because victims know that being identified publicly could bring them or those close to them more harm. Even with those limitations, in the city of Cali alone, the civil society group Comisión por la Vida documented, from April 28 through May 22, 46 people killed, 93 disappeared and 240 detained by the National Police or the special riot squad, the ESMAD (Escuadron Móvil Anti-Disturbios). The number of wounded in the protests is unknown, since a portion of them do not seek treatment in clinics or hospitals for fear of being “disappeared” by the authorities lurking there — or because they have heard the reports of people being denied care once the circumstances of their being injured were known.

More:
https://truthout.org/articles/a-national-strike-has-reignited-in-colombia-and-is-winning-some-victories/

Santos: Military Killed Thousands of Civilians in Colombia



A handout photo made available by the Truth Commission of Colombia shows former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (L) speaking at the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition, in Bogota, Colombia, 11 June 2021. | Photo: EFE

Published 11 June 2021 (13 hours 55 minutes ago)

Juan Manuel Santos acknowledged Friday that thousands of civilians were executed by the military in Colombia because of the pressure they received to produce results in the fight against the guerrillas

Former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos acknowledged Friday that thousands of civilians were executed by the military in Colombia because of the pressure they received to produce results in the fight against the guerrillas and asked for forgiveness for those crimes.

"There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that the original sin, what in the end gave rise to these atrocities, was the pressure to produce casualties" as well as "the rewards for achieving it," Santos said in a voluntary statement to the Truth Commission investigating the half-century conflict with the now-defunct FARC.

The commission is an extrajudicial body created under the 2016 peace accords pushed by Santos that led to the disarmament of the rebels.

Santos held power between 2010 and 2018 and previously served as defense minister under Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), under whose rule thousands of civilian killings were perpetrated and then presented as guerrillas killed in combat.

More:
https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Santos-Military-Killed-Thousands-of-Civilians-in-Colombia-20210611-0024.html

Leftist close to victory in Peru, despite U.S. opposition and cascade of media slander

Medea Benjamin 28 mins ago

With his wide-brimmed peasant hat and oversized teacher's pencil held high, Peru's Pedro Castillo has been traveling the country exhorting voters to get behind a call that has been particularly urgent during this devastating pandemic: "No más pobres en un país rico" — No more poor people in a rich country. In a cliffhanger of an election with a huge urban-rural and class divide, it appears that the rural teacher, farmer and union leader is about to make history by defeating — by less than one-half of 1 percent, according to the nearly-complete vote count — powerful far-right candidate Keiko Fujimori, scion of the country's political "Fujimori dynasty."

Fujimori is challenging the election's results, alleging widespread fraud. Her campaign has only presented evidence of isolated irregularities, and so far there is nothing to suggest a tainted vote. She can challenge some of the votes to delay the final results, however, and as in the U.S., even an allegation of fraud by the losing candidate will cause uncertainty and raise tensions in the country.

Castillo's victory will be remarkable not only because he is a leftist teacher who is the son of illiterate peasants and his campaign was grossly outspent by Fujimori, but because there was a relentless propaganda attack against him that touched on historical fears of Peru's middle class and elites. It was similar to what happened recently to progressive candidate Andrés Arauz, who narrowly lost Ecuador's elections, but even more intense.

Grupo El Comercio, a media conglomerate that controls 80% of Peru's newspapers, led the charge against Castillo. They accused him of being a terrorist with links to the Shining Path, a guerrilla group whose conflict with the state between 1980 and 2002 led to tens of thousands of deaths and left the population traumatized. Castillo's link to the Shining Path is flimsy: While a leader with Sutep, an education worker's union, Castillo is said to have been friendly with Movadef, the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights, a group alleged to have been the political wing of the Shining Path. In reality, Castillo himself was a rondero when the insurgency was most active. Ronderos were peasant self-defense groups that protected their communities from the guerrillas and continue to provide security against crime and violence.

More:
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/leftist-close-to-victory-in-peru-despite-u-s-opposition-and-cascade-of-media-slander/ar-AAKXk7Y?ocid=msedgntp

Brazil: Bolsonaro's Conservative Government Brings Hunger Back

Wednesday, 9 June 2021, 10:58 am
Article: Lateinamerika Nachrichten
Originally posted at https://scoop.me/brazil-bolsonaros-hunger/

By Lateinamerika Nachrichten / Claudia Fix, Julia Ganter

At the end of April, the official number of covid deaths in Brazil surpassed 400,000. Measured by the number of inhabitants, no country in the Americas has seen more people die from infection with the coronavirus. But it is not only this number that is shocking. Meanwhile, the social impact of the Bolsonaro government’s failed pandemic policy is also becoming increasingly clear. By Claudia Fix & Julia Ganter for Lateinamerika Nachrichten

“Hunger is back,” recent studies note. The crisis threatens to undo the successful fight against hunger and absolute poverty between 2003 and 2013. And yet Brazil is the world’s third-largest food exporter.

Brazil had experienced a success story: In 2014, the proportion of Brazilians suffering from hunger fell to less than five percent and the country disappeared from the United Nations’ world hunger map for the first time. For the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, this was already reason enough in an interview with El País in 2019 to declare the statement that people in Brazil still suffer from hunger to be a “lie” and “populist talk.“

But whether the president wants to admit it or not, the country is far from having solved the problem of hunger. Brazil was already rapidly moving back onto the world hunger map in 2019. According to the Nationwide Household Sample Survey (PNAD, comparable to the German microcensus), the percentage of households with food insecurity increased by 63 percent between 2013 and 2018. In absolute terms, this means that by the beginning of 2018, some 85 million Brazilians were already worried about their future access to food, it was already limited, or they were going hungry – a shocking record since data collection began in 2004.

. . .

The “fight against hunger” was one of the most important campaign promises of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva’s presidential campaign. In his inaugural speech in 2003, he proclaimed, “If, at the end of my term, all Brazilians can eat a meal three times a day, then I will have fulfilled the mission of my presidency.” In just his first 30 days, his government launched the “Zero Hunger” program, and between 2004 and 2013, the number of hungry people halved to 7.2 million.

More:
https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL2106/S00025/brazil-bolsonaros-conservative-government-brings-hunger-back.htm

Even The New York Times Now Admits That It's US Sanctions, Not Socialism, That's Destroying Venezuel

JUNE 8, 2021
Even The New York Times Now Admits That It’s US Sanctions, Not Socialism, That’s Destroying Venezuela

BY PETER BOLTON

The facile right-wing talking point that the economic crisis facing Venezuela “proves” that “socialism always ends in failure” has become so hackneyed by overuse that it has attained its own tongue-in-cheek name. The ad Venezuelum, as it has come to be known, has slowly developed into such a tedious and predictable right-wing tactic that it seems to now serve as an all-purpose retort to try to discredit even the most modest of left-of-center proposals. In October 2018, for instance, then-President Trump responded to a plan by progressive Democrats in congress to introduce a bill to establish a system of universal public healthcare – something which every industrialized country other than the US already has – by stating: “It’s going to be a disaster for our country. It will turn our country into a Venezuela.”

Analysts on the left have long toiled against the ad Venezuelum by pointing out the myriad genuine explanations behind the economic crisis that has been roiling the country since around 2014. Caleb Maupin, for instance, has argued that falling oil prices were a key factor in the collapse of Venezuela’s economy. This is hardly a controversial point given that Venezuela’s dependence on oil, which was first discovered in the 1920s, has led to a highly unstable economy featuring regular bouts of economic chaos caused by a sudden drop in the price of crude. In the early 1980s, during the government of Luis Herrera (of the right-wing COPEI party), for example, there was a huge economic crisis with many of the same features as the one confronting the country today. Needless to say, no one at the time tried to pass this off as proof that capitalism doesn’t work.

Ryan Mallet-Outtrim, who himself lived in Venezuela for several years, has argued that the government’s monetary policy has been one of the main factors behind the crisis. In particular, he pointed out that the fixed exchange rate, which of course is hardly socialistic in nature, had an unintended effect on demand for currency that in turn led to an inflationary spiral. He is not alone is his criticism of the fixed exchange rate; economist Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), who like Mallet-Outtrim is broadly sympathetic to the Chavista government, has argued for years that Venezuela should drop it in favor of a floating exchange rate.

I myself argued in a 2016 essay for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs that an economic war waged by a domestic societal elite, and abetted by the United States, has been a major cause of the crisis. Though dismissed by critics of Chavismo as a conspiracy theory, there is, in fact, ample evidence of an economic war against the Venezuelan government ever since Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1998. The so-called oil strike, for instance, (in reality a management-led lockout) was a transparent attempt to bring about regime change by crippling the economy. Cases of hoarding goods and deliberately disrupting supply chains on the part of the opposition-friendly private business sector, meanwhile, have been well-documented.

More:
https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/06/08/even-the-new-york-times-now-admits-that-its-us-sanctions-not-socialism-thats-destroying-venezuela/

U.S. Imperialists Deprive Cuba of Syringes That Are Needed Now

JUNE 4, 2021

BY W. T. WHITNEY

Cuba, the first Latin America country to develop its own COVID-19 vaccines, presently is short of syringes for immunizing its population against the virus. It’s not feasible for Cuba to make its own syringes. The U.S. blockade prevents Cuba from importing them from abroad.

Syringes are lacking all over. The New York Times estimates an overall need of between “eight billion and 10 billion syringes for Covid-19 vaccinations alone.” Manufacturing capabilities are increasing, but that’s of no use to Cuba.

According to Global Health Partners, “Cuba needs roughly 30 million syringes for their mass Covid vaccination campaign and they’re short 20 million.” Solidarity organizations are seeking donated funds to buy syringes and ship them to Cuba. (Readers may donate by contacting Global Health Partners or visiting here.)

The shortage of syringes poses great hardship for the Cuban people. That’s not new. Calling for economic blockade in 1960, State Department official Lester Mallory was confident that making Cubans suffer would push them toward overthrowing their government.

More:
https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/06/04/u-s-imperialists-deprive-cuba-of-syringes-that-are-needed-now/

Peru Has a Choice: Democracy or a Return to Dictatorship


The country’s elections this weekend offer two stark choices: a deepening of democracy or a return to right-wing dictatorship.

2 HOURS AGO

On January 6, 2021, Americans were horrified to witness Donald Trump’s right-wing supporters storm the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn the presidential election. Their attempted insurrection against American democracy colossally failed, but the riot served as a reminder to Americans that democracy is fragile — and is a system that must be constantly defended.

I’m currently in Lima, Peru with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) to serve as an election observer for the country’s June 6 presidential runoff election. This Sunday, Peruvians will choose between leftist candidate Pedro Castillo, an educator and union leader, and Keiko Fujimori, a career politician and daughter of former dictator Alberto Fujimori.

I’ve served as a poll watcher in local and national US elections, but the stakes have never been as high as they currently are here in Peru.

In the past two days, all four groups that DSA’s observer delegation has met with have expressed serious concerns about the possibility of a right-wing coup attempt should Pedro Castillo win. Castillo is currently leading in the polls. The four organisations — made up of indigenous leaders, lawyers, human rights experts, and trade union leaders — also expressed fears that Keiko Fujimori and her supporters in the military, courts, legislature, and media would engage in fraud or violence to secure her victory at any cost.

Legal experts with Peru’s Mesa de Abogados Por La Democracia (Lawyer’s Table for Democracy) shared their fear that this election could result in a return to Fujimorismo, the term used to describe the right-wing authoritarianism and violence of Alberto Fujimori’s ten-year dictatorship. Fujimori’s government forcibly sterilized 272,028 mostly indigenous, rural, and poor women and murdered thousands of Peruvians in terrible acts of state-sponsored terrorism. Mass graves around the country have still yet to be uncovered.

More:
https://thewire.in/world/peru-has-a-choice-democracy-or-a-return-to-dictatorship

Colombia turns on media amid barrage of lies and propaganda


by Adriaan Alsema May 26, 2021

Public support for Colombia’s mass media has plummeted as they persistently contradict citizen reporting, a poll confirmed.

According to pollster Invamer, public approval of the news media dropped from 41% to 31% since ongoing anti-government protests began on April 28.

The approval of “the media” in Colombia has been dropping for a decade, but plummeted in May after a wave of social media reports on police brutality was blatantly contradicted by mass media.

Colombians become their own reporters

While citizens reported extreme violence by the security forces on social media, Colombia’s mass media almost exclusively reported on incidents of vandalism by “protesters.”

On some days, citizens were literally begging the international community for help while media were replicating a government conspiracy theory that the largely peaceful protests would be coordinated by guerrilla groups.


More:
https://colombiareports.com/colombia-turns-on-media-amid-barrage-of-lies-and-propaganda/

Moments after delivering his Battle of Pichincha address in Loja in 1981, President Jaime Rolds die

Moments after delivering his Battle of Pichincha address in Loja in 1981, President Jaime Roldós died in a plane crash.
Did the CIA assassinate him?
May 23, 2021 | 15 comments



León Roldós (left) was appointed vice president a few days after his brother, Jaime Roldós, died in a
1981 plane crash. Osvaldo Hurtado Larrea (center) carries Jaime Roldós’ coffin.

By Sylvan Hardy

Those who knew him remember his May 24, 1981 speech commemorating the Battle of Pichincha and Ecuador’s independence from Spain as being one of President Jaime Roldós’ most passionate. He said Ecuador should not become involved in “inconsequential entanglements”, a reference to pressure by the U.S. to oppose leftist insurgencies in Latin America. Instead, he said the country must pick its battles wisely, as it did in 1822, and should pursue a “humanist” agenda to improve the lives of its citizens.

Within a hour of the speech, Roldós and his wife Martha Bucaram were dead as their airplane exploded in mid-air, crashing into Huairapungo Mountain, 15 kilometers from Loja.

Did the U.S. government play a role in the tragedy? Was his death an assassination aimed eliminating Latin American governments not in lockstep with the U.S. Cold War strategy of fighting communism? More than seven years after Ecuador’s former attorney general Galo Chiriboga opened an investigation to determine the cause of the explosion that killed Roldós, there is no definitive answer.



Jaime Roldos and his wife Martha shortly before they boarded the presidential aircraft on
May 24, 1881, in Loja.

A CIA document released in 2014 reveals that Ecuador, like other South American countries, was part in the U.S.-backed Operation Condor plan from the 1970s to the mid-1980s. The U.S. State Department document said the plan was intended to maintain Latin America as the “backyard for the U.S.”

The document states that Ecuador, then under a military dictatorship, became part of Operation Condor in 1978, joining the dictatorships of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay in endorsing state-sponsored terror to control what was perceived to be the threat of communism and to “eliminate subversive sectors of society.”

More:
https://cuencahighlife.com/ecuador-investigates-the-death-of-president-jaime-roldos-attorney-general-says-that-it-could-be-tied-to-the-cias-operation-condor/

Colombia trying to cover up attempted indigenous massacre

by Adriaan Alsema May 10, 2021

Colombia’s mass media and the Cali Police Department tried to cover up an attempted massacre of native Colombians by far-right supporters of President Ivan Duque.

At least eight indigenous protesters were injured on Sunday when heavily armed supporters of the increasingly authoritarian president indiscriminately opened fire on the buses they were driving.

The armed residents from an upscale neighborhood in the south of Cali received help from at least one policeman while preparing the massacre, according to video footage.

In order to cover up the attempted massacre, Cali Police chief Juan Carlos Rodriguez falsely accused the victims of incinerating two vehicle and falsely claimed that some were carrying firearms.

La FM director journalist Luis Carlos Velez subsequently reported that locals blamed native Colombians for breaking into their housing complex and vandalized vehicles.

More:
https://colombiareports.com/colombia-trying-to-cover-up-attempted-indigenous-massacre/
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