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Nuclear waste barrels remain strewn across floor of English Channel – report

RT | April 12, 2013

German journalists have found barrels of radioactive waste in an underwater valley in the English Channel, which were dumped there half a century ago. Politicians in Germany have called for the potentially harmful containers to be removed.

28,500 containers of low level radioactive waste were dumped into the English Channel by the British and the Belgians between 1950 and 1963. Most of them were sunk in an underwater channel near the island of Alderney, known as Hurd’s Deep. Several barrels were found by a team of the joint Franco-German public broadcaster ARTE in an investigative report set to air later in April.

As part of the investigation, the German Public broadcaster SWR sent an unmanned remote controlled submarine into the Channel’s depths. The team discovered two barrels just 124 meters deep, a few kilometers from the French coast.

Experts had assumed that the sea had rusted open the barrels and the contents had dissipated throughout the ocean, thus making the hazard innocuous.

According to the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), the containers hold an estimated 17,224 metric tons of low-level radioactive waste. The British barrels are estimated to contain the equivalent to 58 trillion becquerels (units of radioactivity), while the Belgian barrels are thought to hold 2.4 trillion becquerels. The European Unions’ limit for drinking water is 10 becquerels per liter.

“We think that there are still many more undamaged barrels below,” Thomas Reutter, a SWR journalist, told Spiegel Online. He added that it was likely there were other containers that the expedition hadn’t located.

Members of Germany’s Green Party have called for the barrels to be removed from the channel.

“I believe that at such shallow depths these barrels pose a high potential for danger. And it’s not for nothing that dumping in the ocean has been forbidden in the last 20 years,” Sylvia Kotting-Uhl, a Green Party member of parliament and nuclear policy spokesman, told SWR.

April 12, 2013 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , | Comments Off on Nuclear waste barrels remain strewn across floor of English Channel – report

‘Israel behind US hypocrisy in Mideast’

PressTVGlobalNews | April 12, 2013

US President Barak Obama has presented congress an almost 4 trillion dollar budget plan: Amongst his requests: more funds, in the billions, to modernize US’s nuclear weapons. This is while he will cut payments to Medicare not to mention cutbacks to its Social Security pensions and other government programs.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Mark Dankof, a political commentator from San Antonio, to further examine why the US – who has the lead in the possession of nuclear weapons and has advocated nuclear non-proliferation – feels the need to modernize its weapons of mass of destruction, which also goes against the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The video also offers the opinions of one additional guest: Charlie Wolf who is a writer and broadcaster from London.

The following is a partial and approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: Do you not think that we have our guest there Charlie Wolf thinking that the Iranian government is pursuing weaponization of its program; Iran has clearly come out and said we want a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and at the same time, countries like the US are coming out and using nuclear weapons as, they claim to be deterrent but really to use and enforce power. What is your reaction there?

Dankof: A couple of things. One, I am not a nuclear expert but let me simply say this. If we take the director of National Intelligence of the United States James Clapper at his word, if we take the 16 intelligence agencies of the United States that produce the national intelligence estimate at their word, Iran is in fact not pursuing a weaponized nuclear program.

And I add it to that of course is the situation where the United States’ chief ally in the region Israel is a nuclear power and going back to something that the Times of Israel published earlier this week back in the 1970s, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yigal Allon then the foreign minister of Israel were repeatedly lying to the president of the United States and the senator Howard Baker of Tennessee and Mac Mathias of Maryland in regard to their Dimona Operation, in regard to their weaponized nuclear program and in regard to the fact that they already were in the 1970s in possession of nuclear weapons.

When you look at that Times of Israel’s report and then consider that Israel is the chief driving force behind what the United States is presently doing in the Middle East and what President Obama and John Kerry are insisting that Iran do in the Middle East and with their nuclear research program, I think the word hypocrisy does apply.

Press TV: Eight billion dollars for this most recent upgrade; Mark Dankoff, the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron just recently came out and he called the ownership of nuclear weapons, in response to North Korea threats ‘the ultimate insurance policy’. This is the kind of feeling that generally some people are feeling when it comes to the US president coming out with 8 billion dollars for what he calls upgrades. I mean, one nuclear bomb should be enough unless there is different types of bombs with lesser degrees or higher degrees. Again I know you said that you are not a nuclear technician. It does not give much merit to the president’s claim that it is for nuclear nonproliferation.

Dankof: That is right and I will say something again and this gets back to something Charlie [Wolf, the other guest on the show] was commenting on because I am not a nuclear expert, I do not know the extent to this budget upgrade by the president represents an attempt to merely keep the present stockpiles safe and workable and to keep it from being involved in some sort of accident or malfunction and to what extent it actually represents an upgrade in the expulsive capacity of these so-called weapons of mass destruction. I simply do not have that knowledge of my disposal.

But it does seem to me that when we look at the president’s actions, at least symbolically, when you look at what has happened since 9/11 with American foreign policy, the draconian increases in defense spending across the board, the ongoing military intervention of the United States and NATO and all kinds of circumstances around the globe of which Libya and Syria are only the latest and when you look at the kinds of things that the US is clearly doing in regard to the deployment of the aircraft carrier, Task Force Groups, black operations inside Iranian borders, draconian economic sanctions and so forth and so on, the Iranians could well be forgiven for interpreting all of these actions on the part of the United States as particularly bellicose.

I would like to say one other thing that Charlie commented on that I do disagree with. President Ahmadinejad is often quoted as saying that either he or Iran would wipe Israel off the map. That is not what the man said. That is what an Israeli translation service called MEMRI said that he said.

President Ahmadinejad’s remarks, properly translated as I understand it, indicated that he simply thought that the Zionist state would eventually fade from history because of all of the internal contradictions within it. That is more than a slight shift in nuance in regard to meaning. I do not think that the president of Iran said the things that had been repeatedly said that he said about wanting to annihilate Israel militarily.

I think that is a bad translation and a false translation and one that again was offered by a Middle East research institute that has no links to the Israeli intelligence community.

Press TV: I am trying to steer this debate to focus on Obama’s proposal to upgrade its nuclear arsenal. We seem to keep going back to the Middle East and Iran. So Mark Dankoff, let’s go along the line of why the US president feels for this upgrade and one deduction has been the US military industrial complex: companies such as GE of which there has been lots of money to be made here. Could this be part of the push by them?

Dankof: I think when you look at the American defense posture generally, it is hard to get away from this perception. After all, when you look at the power of these defense contractors, the amount of money that is involved, the influence that they have on Capitol Hill with people in both of the major political parties, certainly this has to factor into this without question.

There is an additional political context to all of this however that I think does go back to 1945. It is noteworthy that the United States is the only nation on earth that has ever used these weapons in wartime. It used them against two Japanese cities, as we all know, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to me the most chilling aspect of all of this is that my father’s old boss, General Curtis Lemay, the father of the Strategic Air Command said after the war that the American utilization of all those weapons against those cities had nothing to do with ending the war or getting Japan to surrender which is what we were always taught in American schools growing up for years after 1945.

But that had everything to do with simply showing the Soviet Union what we had and that using the Japanese as the victims of the demonstration. So with that as a beginning to this whole tragedy of nuclear weaponry, it seems that over the course of the last 70 years or so that we cannot get away from the political context of all of this and the perception on the part of most of the people of the world that when it comes to issues of nuclear proliferation and non-proliferation that the United States will play by one set of rules; the other nuclear powers will play by one set of rules and everyone else gets to play by the rules and guidelines that are said done by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

This is perceived as inherently unfair and I do not think that we can separate the technical issues involved in this debate and the budgetary issues from the issue of the profit motive of these armament companies and also the whole question of the fact that some people want to have their cake and eat it too in terms of possessing these weapons and denying the right to these weapons to other people. It is a vexing situation.

Press TV: What is your response to Charlie Wolf’s remarks?

Dankof: As a matter of fact, we now know through a series of things that have been declassified that the Japanese had already agreed to surrender that Truman would not allow them to surrender because of his so-called unconditional Surrender Doctrine. What all the Japanese were asking for was that we kept our hands off of the emperor.

In fact, we went ahead and used these weapons and then turned around and basically agreed to the back channel demand that the Japanese had made after the destruction of both of those cities. So I would take issue with that.

I also in terms of Mr. Ahmadinejad would compare him with the current leadership of the nation of Israel. It is also a fact. Why do we not go back and take a look at what General Lemay and Admiral Nimitz and General Eisenhower had to say on this subject years after the war and a series of the things that have subsequently been declassified.

Press TV: Obama’s nuclear vision or is it an illusion?

Dankof: I think it is an illusion and it is interesting to me again that we are talking about a man of the Democratic Party and a man who is perceived on the left end of the Democratic Party spectrum who has been involved in a series of things and making him look to me like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney ranging from the drone strikes to agreeing to put out the war through his secretary of state that the United States is prepared to take preemptive military action against Iran or allow Israel to do so.

Under Obama’s presidency, the United States and Israel have been using the Mujahedin-E-Khalq or the MEK to conduct these assassinations of these Iranian nuclear scientists. With what all of that implies – and of course the president was very much involved in getting NATO to intervene in Libya – the president is now clearly involved as the United States is and as the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation States are in financing the attempted overthrow of this government in Syria with all of these al-Qaeda elements in it. This does not sound like liberal to me.

April 12, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Video, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Evictions in the Polochic Valley, Children of the Earth

Caracolproducciones

Alberto Alonso-Fradejas:

In the last ten years, the expansion of corporate sugarcane and oil palm plantations in northern Guatemala has encroached on the lands of Maya Q’eqchi’ indigenous people—many of whom fled to this region during the country’s 36-year genocidal war. These plantations have already displaced hundreds of families—even entire communities—leading to increased poverty, hunger, unemployment, and landlessness in the region. The companies grabbing land are controlled by European-descendent Guatemalan oligarchs who are benefitting from rising global commodity prices for food, animal feed, and fuel (biodiesel and ethanol). In the face of violent expulsion and incorporation into an exploitative system, peasant families are struggling to access land and defend their resources as the basis of their collective identity as Q’eqchi’ peoples or R’al Ch’och (“sons and daughters of the earth”).

More information:

http://www.congcoop.org.gt/

http://caracolproducciones.org/

http://caracolproducciones.blogspot.com/

http://valledelpolochic.wordpress.com/

April 12, 2013 Posted by | Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Evictions in the Polochic Valley, Children of the Earth

Controlled Opposition

By GILAD ATZMON | April 12, 2013

In his new book, “The Invention of the Land of Israel”, Israeli academic Shlomo Sand, manages to present conclusive evidence of the far fetched nature of the Zionist historical narrative – that the Jewish Exile is a myth as is the Jewish people and even the Land of Israel.

Yet, Sand and many others fail to address the most important question: If Zionism is based on myth, how do the Zionists manage to get away with their lies, and for so long?

If the Jewish ‘homecoming’ and the demand for a Jewish national homeland cannot be historically substantiated, why has it been supported by both Jews and the West for so long? How does the Jewish state manage for so long to celebrate its racist expansionist ideology and at the expense of the Palestinian and Arab peoples?

Jewish power is obviously one answer, but, what is Jewish power? Can we ask this question without being accused of being anti-Semitic? Can we ever discuss its meaning and scrutinize its politics? Is Jewish power a dark force, managed and maneuvered by some conspiratorial power? Is it something of which Jews themselves are shy? Quite the opposite – Jewish power, in most cases, is celebrated right in front of our eyes. As we know, AIPAC is far from being quiet about its agenda, its practices or its achievements. AIPAC, CFI in the UK and CRIF in France are operating in the most open manner and often openly brag about their success.

Furthermore, we are by now accustomed to watch our democratically elected leaders shamelessly queuing to kneel before their pay-masters. Neocons certainly didn’t seem to feel the need to hide their close Zionist affiliations. Abe Foxman’s Anti Defamation League (ADL) works openly towards the Judification of the Western discourse, chasing and harassing anyone who dares voice any kind of criticism of Israel or even of Jewish choseness. And of course, the same applies to the media, banking and Hollywood. We know about the many powerful Jews who are not in the slightest bit shy about their bond with Israel and their commitment to Israeli security, the Zionist ideology, the primacy of Jewish suffering, Israeli expansionism and even outright Jewish exceptionalism.

But, as ubiquitous as they are, AIPAC, CFI, ADL, Bernie Madoff, ‘liberator’ Bernard Henri-Levy, war-advocate David Aaronovitch, free market prophet Milton Friedman, Steven Spielberg, Haim Saban, Lord Levy and many other Zionist enthusiasts and Hasbara advocates are not necessarily the core or the driving force behind Jewish power, but are merely symptoms. Jewish power is actually far more sophisticated than simply a list of Jewish lobbies or individuals performing highly developed manipulative skills. Jewish power is the unique capacity to stop us from discussing or even contemplating Jewish power. It is the capacity to determine the boundaries of the political discourse and criticism in particular.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not ‘right wing’ Zionists who facilitate Jewish power, It is actually the ‘good’, the ‘enlightened’ and the ‘progressive’ who make Jewish power the most effective and forceful power in the land. It is the ‘progressives’ who confound our ability to identify the Judeocentric tribal politics at the heart of Neoconservatism, American contemporary imperialism and foreign policy. It is the so-called ‘anti’ Zionist who goes out of his or her way to divert our attention from the fact that Israel defines itself as the Jewish State and blinds us to the fact that its tanks are decorated with Jewish symbols. It was the Jewish Left intellectuals who rushed to denounce Professors Mersheimer and Walt, Jeff Blankfort and James Petras’ work on the Jewish Lobby. And it is no secret that Occupy AIPAC, the campaign against the most dangerous political Lobby in America, is dominated by a few righteous members of the chosen tribe. We need to face up to the fact that our dissident voices are far from being free. Quite the opposite, we are dealing here with an institutional case of controlled opposition.

In George Orwell’s 1984, it is perhaps Emmanuel Goldstein who is the pivotal character. Orwell’s Goldstein is a Jewish revolutionary, a fictional Leon Trotsky. He is depicted as the head of a mysterious anti-party organization called “The Brotherhood” and is also the author of the most subversive revolutionary text (The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism). Goldstein is the ‘dissenting voice’, the one who actually tells the truth. Yet, as we delve into Orwell’s text, we find out from the Party’s ‘Inner Circle’ O’Brien that Goldstein was actually invented by Big Brother in a clear attempt to control the opposition and the possible boundaries of dissidence.

Orwell’s personal account of the Spanish Civil War “Homage To Catalonia” clearly presaged the creation of Emmanuel Goldstein. It was what Orwell witnessed in Spain that, a decade later, matured into a profound understanding of dissent as a form of controlled opposition. My guess is that, by the late 1940’s, Orwell had understood the depth of intolerance, and tyrannical and conspiratorial tendencies that lay at the heart of ‘Big Brother-ish’ Left politics and praxis.

Surprisingly enough, an attempt to examine our contemporaneous controlled opposition within the Left and the Progressive reveals that it is far from being conspiratorial. As in the case of the Jewish Lobby, the so-called ‘opposition’ hardly attempts to disguise its ethnocentric tribal interests, spiritual and ideological orientation and affiliation.

A brief examination of the list of organisations founded by George Soros’ Open Society Institute (OSI) presents a grim picture – pretty much the entire American progressive network is funded, partially or largely by a liberal Zionist, philanthropic billionaire who supports very many good and important causes that are also very good for the Jews. And yet, like staunch Zionist Haim Saban, Soros does not operate clandestinely. His Open Society Institute proudly provides all the necessary information regarding the vast amount of shekels it spreads on its good and important causes.

So one can’t accuse Soros or the Open Society Institute of any sinister vetting of the political discourse, stifling of free speech or even of ‘controlling the opposition’. All Soros does is to support a wide variety of ‘humanitarian causes’: Human Rights, Women’s Rights, Gay Rights, equality, democracy, Arab ‘Spring’, Arab Winter, the oppressed, the oppressor, tolerance, intolerance, Palestine, Israel, anti war, pro-war (only when really needed), and so on.

As with Orwell’s Big Brother that frames the boundaries of dissent by means of controlled opposition, Soros’ Open Society also determines, either consciously or unconsciously, the limits of critical thought. Yet, unlike in 1984, where it is the Party that invents its own opposition and write its texts, within our ‘progressive’ discourse, it is our own voices of dissent, willingly and consciously, that compromise their principles.

Soros may have read Orwell – he clearly believes his message – because from time to time he even supports opposing forces. For instance, he funds the Zionist-lite J Street as well as Palestinian NGO organisations. And guess what? It never takes long for the Palestinian beneficiaries to, compromise their own, most precious principles so they fit nicely into their paymaster’s worldview.

The Visible Hand

The invisible hand of the market is a metaphor coined by Adam Smith to describe the self-regulating behaviour of the marketplace. In contemporary politics. The visible hand is a similar metaphor which describes the self-regulating tendency of the political-fund beneficiary, to fully integrate the world view of its benefactor into its political agenda.

Democracy Now, the most important American dissident outlet has never discussed the Jewish Lobby with Mersheimer, Walt, Petras or Blankfort – the four leading experts who could have informed the American people about the USA’s foreign policy domination by the Jewish Lobby. For the same reasons, Democracy Now wouldn’t explore the Neocon’s Judeo-centric agenda nor would it ever discuss Jewish Identity politics with yours truly. Democracy Now will host Noam Chomsky or Norman Finkelstein, it may even let Finkelstein chew up Zionist caricature Alan Dershowitz – all very good, but not good enough.

Is the fact that Democracy Now is heavily funded by Soros relevant? I’ll let you judge.

If I’m correct (and I think I am) we have a serious problem here. As things stand, it is actually the progressive discourse, or at a least large part of it  that sustains Jewish Power. If this is indeed the case, and I am convinced it is, then the occupied progressive discourse, rather than Zionism, is the primary obstacle that must be confronted.

It is no coincidence that the ‘progressive’ take on ‘antisemitism’ is suspiciously similar to the Zionist one. Like Zionists, many progressive institutes and activists adhere to the bizarre suggestion that opposition to Jewish power is ‘racially motivated’ and embedded in some ‘reactionary’ Goyish tendency. Consequently, Zionists are often supported by some ‘progressives’ in their crusade against critics of Israel and Jewish power. Is this peculiar alliance between these allegedly opposing schools of thoughts, the outcome of a possible ideological continuum between these two seemingly opposed political ideologies? Maybe, after all, progressiveness like Zionism is driven by a peculiar inclination towards ‘choseness’. After all, being progressive somehow implies that someone else must be ‘reactionary’. It is those self-centric elements of exceptionalism and choseness that have made progressiveness so attractive to secular and emancipated Jews. But the main reason the ‘progressives’ adopted the Zionist take on antisemitism, may well be because of the work of that visible hand that miraculously shapes the progressive take on race, racism and the primacy of Jewish suffering.

We may have to face up to the fact that the progressive discourse effectively operates as Israel’s longest arm – it certainly acts as a gatekeeper and as protection for Zionism and Jewish tribal interests. If Israel and its supporters would ever be confronted with real opposition it might lead to some long-overdue self-reflection. But at the moment, Israel and Zionist lobbies meet only insipid, watered-down, progressively-vetted resistance that, in practice, sustains Israeli occupation, oppression and an endless list of human rights abuses.

Instead of mass opposition to the Jewish State and its aggressive lobby, our ‘resistance’ is reduced into a chain of badge-wearing, keffiyeh-clad, placard-waving mini-gatherings with the occasional tantrum from some neurotic Jewess while being videoed by another good Jew. If anyone believes that a few badges, a load of amateur youtube clips celebrating Jewish righteousness are going to evolve into a mass anti-Israel global movement, they are either naïve or stupid.

In fact, a recent Gallup poll revealed that current Americans’ sympathy for Israel has reached an All-Time High. 64% of Americans sympathise with the Jewish State, while only 12% feel for the Palestinians. This is no surprise and our conclusion should be clear. As far as Palestine is concerned,  ‘progressive’ ideology and praxis have led us precisely nowhere. Rather than advance the Palestinian cause, it only locates the ‘good’ Jew at the centre of the solidarity discourse.

When was the last time a Palestinian freedom fighter appeared on your TV screen? Twenty years ago the Palestinians were set to become the new Che Guevaras. Okay, so the Palestinian freedom fighter didn’t necessarily speak perfect English and wasn’t a graduate of an English public school, but he was free, authentic and determined. He or she spoke about their land being taken and of their willingness to give what it takes to get it back. But now, the Palestinian has been ‘saved’, he or she doesn’t have to fight for his or her land, the ‘progressive’ is taking care of it all.

This ‘progressive’ voice speaks on behalf of the Palestinian and, at the same time, takes the opportunity to also push marginal politics, fight ‘Islamism’ and ‘religious radicalisation’ and occasionally even supports the odd interventionst war and, of course, always, always, always fights antisemitism. The controlled opposition has turned the Palestinian plight into just one more ‘progressive’ commodity, lying on the back shelf of its ever-growing ‘good-cause’ campaign store.

For the Jewish progressive discourse, the purpose behind pro-Palestinian support is clear. It is to present an impression of pluralism within the Jewish community. It is there to suggest that not all Jews are bad Zionists. Philip Weiss, the founder of the most popular progressive pro-Palestinian blog was even brave enough to admit to me that it is Jewish self -interests that stood at the core of his pro Palestinian activity.

Jewish self-love is a fascinating topic. But even more fascinating is Jewish progressives loving themselves at the expense of the Palestinians. With billionaires such as Soros maintaining the discourse, solidarity is now an industry, concerned with profit and power rather than ethics or values and it is a spectacle both amusing and tragic as the Palestinians become a side issue within their own solidarity discourse.

So, perhaps before we discuss the ‘liberation of Palestine’, we first may have to liberate ourselves.

Gilad Atzmon’s latest book is: The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics

April 12, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Honduras: Terror in the Aguán

By Greg McCain | Upside Down World | April 11, 2013

During the first week of April, the Honduran daily newspaper La Prensa ran a series of articles that included photos, a video and a link to a montage of past articles entitled Terror en el Bajo Aguán. The major thrust of the series is that there are heavily armed clandestine groups of men training in the region. The photos and video show them with AK47s, M16s, and .223 assault rifles, all of which are military issue. All of the men are wearing ski masks over their faces and they appear to be playing to the camera, running in defensive stances, crawling on the ground and being sure to showoff their heavy firepower, all at the direction of whoever is holding the camera. An April 1 article states that there have been more than 90 deaths in the Aguán attributed to people with high caliber arms like the ones shown in the photos. It states that the latest one was a campesino, but it fails to point out that these more than 90 deaths since the coup in 2009 were all campesinos who have been murdered by sicarios: assassins who mainly perform drive by shootings.

Not unexpectedly, the new propaganda campaign being orchestrated by Colonel German Alfaro, commander of Operation Xatruch III and graduate of the School of the Americas, has been carried out with the help of the pro-ruling elite, pro-coup mainstream media. In a further attempt to criminalize the campesino movements, the La Prensa series, by implication and by direct assertions, links the struggles of the campesinos to acquire land that is rightfully and legally theirs to these mysterious armed groups that are roving the Aguán and allegedly terrorizing the private security forces of the rich landowners.

The video of the alleged training maneuvers would be laughable in its obvious staging if the repression that has befallen the campesinos at the hands of the private security guards, the Honduran military, and the National police wasn’t so tragic and ever present. These forces are not just working side-by-side, but are also interchangeable since the security companies that Dinant contracts often hire police and military personnel.

Colonel Alfaro states several times to La Prensa that the identities of these clandestine groups are known and that they even know who the leaders are. In a March 1, 2013 La Prensa article, he asserts that they are being trained by Nicaraguans’ with combat training. He declares that these groups go into the fincas owned by the rich landowners, such as Miguel Facussé’s Paso Aguán, “to terrorize and scare off the security guards. Later, the campesinos go into the plantations to steal the fruit and then money is exchanged at some later date.” No explanation is given as to why it is that campesinos are being killed in overwhelming numbers if this symbiotic relationship truly exists.

The La Prensa “exposé” raises more questions than it answers. If it is the security guards who are being terrorized then why aren’t there huge numbers of their deaths? Furthermore, why are they only a tiny fraction of the campesino deaths, and often found to be the result of infighting among the guards? Why are the campesinos from MARCA who have successfully fought in the courts to retain possession of their land being assassinated? Their lawyer, Antonio Trejo, was assassinated last November in Tegucigalpa after successfully winning the case that secured the land for three of MARCA’s collectives. His brother was later assassinated in Tocoa while investigating his murder. While denying any responsibility, Facussé told an L.A. Times reporter in a December 21, 2012 interview that he certainly had reason to see the lawyer dead. The National Police have attempted to raise spurious claims that the Trejo’s were involved with different less than desirable elements, creating red herrings to take the focus off of Facussé.

There are further questions raised by Alfaro’s claims of there being a connection between armed groups and campesinos.  Why are the leaders of MUCA being stopped at every police checkpoint as they drive from Tocoa on their way to a meeting in Siguatepeque in the south. At one checkpoint an officer said to another, “It’s them… they are here.” Later, when they decide that it is safer not to drive any further, they stop at a hotel to rest and then take a bus at 3am to their destination. A group of armed men was seen by the campesino’s driver, who stayed behind, pulling up to the hotel at 3:30 a.m. and question the receptionist about them. Further, why are Facusse’s guards and police and military on a regular basis harassing the MUCA collectives. A truck full of soldiers drove through the community of La Confiansa on the eve of the internal elections shouting out “we’re hunting for Tacamiches” a derogatory term used by the upper classes and police and military to denote campesinos? Why have the military been surrounding the campesino community of La Panama, which borders the Paso Aguán finca, and in which two bodies of members of the community have been dug up near where the private security guards camped? Meanwhile, more are suspected buried there, but why won’t the police and private security, and indeed, the military allow the community to search for the bodies of those missing?

These are questions that neither the mainstream media will ask, nor will Colonel Alfaro answer. Instead they work in concert to manufacture a connection between alleged criminal groups and the campesinos. Alfaro’s motives are made clear when he states that they are there to protect the property and the palm fruit of the rich landowners. Soldiers are often seen riding in or along side Facusse’s Dinant trucks and they along with the National Police intermingle on a regular basis with Facussé’s and the other rich landowner’s guards, who have often been described by those living in the Aguán as paramilitaries.

Alfaro claims that, after the National Congress passed a decree in 2012 that banned all firearms from being possessed except by the police, military and private security, they captured 200 weapons in the first month (he does not specify if they were of high caliber like AK47s or if they were .22 rifles or handguns), and then an average of about 14 per month since then. It is evident from his boast that the military has greatly disarmed the general public, while it is evident just by driving up and down the roads between Tocoa and Trujillo that the arms of gruesome caliber, as the newspaper describes them, are in the hands of the police, military and paramilitary of Facussé and the other rich landlords.

There are both police and military checkpoints that randomly stop cars and buses along the main road between these two cities. When a bus is stopped all the men are told to leave and keep their bags and backpacks on board along with the women. The men are then told to press up against the bus with arms and legs spread while the very young soldiers of the 15th Battalion, with their rifles strapped across their chests, do a body pat down while looking at IDs. Other soldiers search the personal belongings on the bus. Off to the side of the road is a military personnel carrier that has a mounted machine gun pointed toward the street.  Alfaro doesn’t explain if this is the method that has led to the discovery and confiscation of so many weapons, but it has been successful in labeling every citizen as a potential criminal and preparing the streets for Martial Law as the country prepares for the general elections in November.

In late February, several hundred police, military, and security guards surrounded the community of La Panama, as they have done various subsequent times since then. They proceeded to knock down a security gate that had been erected to keep the paramilitary guards from invading the community. In July of 2012, La Panama found it necessary to put up the gate after one of the community’s leaders, Gregorio Chavez, was disappeared and his corpse later found in the Paso Aguán. His shallow grave was a ten-minute walk from where Facussé’s paramilitary guards had set up an encampment. The community, after pleading with police to accompany them onto the finca, and after international human rights observers had visited and taken testimonies from the community, finally were allowed access. As Señor Chavez’ son and brother pulled the cadaver from the ground it was apparent from marks on the body that he had been tortured. Previous to Chavez’ murder the guards had been harassing him, shooting his chickens, and threatening to do the same to him and his family. They often drove up and down the road that goes through the community with their guns pointing out at the children who played in the yards.

Dinant had put up a building in the middle of the community that functioned as both a guardhouse and a parking space for their palm fruit trucks. A week before his disappearance Gregorio Chavez had gone to this building to complain to someone in charge about the threats and the killing of his chickens. It was also in this building that many in the community had seen the bicycle of one of the disappeared after he went missing.  It is suspected that he is buried in the Paso Aguán. It could be the remains that were recently found on April 3. A security guard who had connections to the community tipped them off as to where they could find the body. The community is hoping, with the help of COFADEH and other human rights groups, to get an international forensic team to positively identify who it is.

This latest news was revealed at a press conference in Tegucigalpa held on the April 3 by the Agrarian Platform of the Campesinos of the Aguán (PARCA, in its Spanish acronym). PARCA is a new initiative formed by 13 campesino movements to better support each other as they face ever-increasing threats to their rights to the land. The press conference was called in response to the La Prensa stories. Yoni Rivas, Secretary General of MUCA, reasserted that the campesinos have no connection to any armed groups. In fact, it was the campesinos who had gone to the press in 2011 to point out that there were armed thugs killing campesinos in the Aguán and he showed pictures of armed men with automatic weapons wearing uniforms that matched the clothes worn by Dinant’s security forces.

The ultimate question is, if Colonel Alfaro and Operation Xatruch are simply doing what they say they are, “maintaining the peace and harmony of the people of Colon,” then why is he conducting press conferences denouncing both Honduran and international human rights groups? On February 18, 2013, in a clear act of aggression toward these groups and in a further attempt at criminalization of the campesinos, he called out human rights observers and campesino leaders. He published the phone numbers of international human rights observers in the US and Europe, and attempted to set up a confrontation between what he refers to as the “Laboriosa población,” the hard working people of the department of Colon against the aforementioned campesino groups referring to them as “a minority”, who create permanent friction and a constant problem of disrespect for the legally established laws and legal authorities. Alfaro’s and the Honduran military’s disdain for the campesinos is further illustrated in the report, Human Rights Violations Attributed to Military Forces in the Bajo Aguan Valley in Honduras written by Annie Bird of Rights Action where she states that her report, “describe[es] the abuses, many of them grave human rights violations, in which soldiers from the 15th Battalion were present and/ or direct participants [in the killings of campesinos]; in either case the 15th Battalion is a responsible party to the violations.” The 15th Battalion is where Xatruch III and Colonel Alfaro are stationed.

In a further indictment of Alfaro’s disingenuousness, during Xatruch’s raid of La Panama in February, there was, coincidentally, a human rights delegation from the US-El Salvador Sister Cities organization visiting the community. This forced the military, police and security guards to retreat. Much of the military force moved into the Paso Aguán finca. Later, members of the community who didn’t want their names made public stated that Alfaro attempted to “negotiate” with the community, but told them to stop talking to human rights groups. They of course denied his request. Today, the tensions between the community and the heavily armed forces continue as the military remain in the finca protecting Facussé’s palm fruit.

April 12, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Honduras: Terror in the Aguán

Official Honduran Report on May 11 Shooting Incident is a New Injustice to Victims

By Dan Beeton | CEPR Americas Blog | April 11, 2013

CEPR has released a new paper, along with the human rights organization Rights Action, examining the Honduran Public Ministry’s official report on the May 11, 2012 shooting incident last year in which four local villagers were killed in Ahuas in Honduras’ Moskitia region during a counternarcotics operation involving U.S. and Honduran agents. This is also the first time that the Public Ministry’s report has been made available to the public, posted to Scribd in English here, and Spanish here.

The Honduran Public Ministry’s report deserves special scrutiny because thus far it represents the official version of events according to the Honduran authorities. And since the U.S. government has declined to conduct its own investigation – despite the wishes of 58 members of Congress – it also represents by default the version of events tacitly endorsed by U.S. authorities as well. The DEA and State Department didn’t allow Honduran investigators to question the U.S. agents and contractors that participated in the May 11 operation. At the same time a U.S. police detective working for the U.S. Embassy reportedly participated in the Public Ministry’s investigation, so the U.S. also bears some responsibility for the report’s flaws.

The CEPR/Rights Action paper found that the Public Ministry’s report:

  • Makes “observations” (not conclusions) that are not supported by the evidence cited;
  • Omits key testimony, that would implicate the DEA, from police who were involved in the May 11 incident;
  • Relies on incomplete forensic examinations of the weapons involved, improper forensic examinations of the victims’ bodies and other improperly gathered evidence;
  • Does not attempt to establish who is ultimately responsible for the killings;
  • Ignores eyewitness reports claiming that at least one State Department-titled helicopter fired on the passenger boat carrying the shooting victims;
  • Does not attempt to establish whether the victims were “in any way involved in drug trafficking” as both Honduran and U.S. officials originally alleged;
  • Does not attempt to establish what authority was actually in charge of the operation;
  • Appears to be focused on absolving the DEA of all responsibility in the killings.

The CEPR/Rights Action report represents the first such public critique of the Public Ministry’s report. As we have previously noted, there are significant discrepancies between different accounts of the May 11 events, including those of Honduran police officers who participated in (and say the DEA was in charge of) the operation. These discrepancies – cited in a separate report published by the Honduras National Commission of Human Rights (CONADEH) – are not mentioned in the Public Ministry report. Nor does the report include police testimony indicating that a DEA agent ordered one of the State Department helicopters to open fire on the passenger boat in which four people were killed.

The report concludes by calling for the U.S. government to carry out its own investigation of the Ahuas incident to better determine what occurred and to determine what responsibility, if any, DEA agents had in the killings. It also calls on the U.S. government to cease being an obstacle to an already flawed investigation by making the relevant DEA agents, weapons and documents – including an aerial surveillance video of the Ahuas operation in its entirety – available to investigators.

The new CEPR/Rights Action paper follows the “Collateral Damage of a Drug War” report released last year which was based on eyewitness testimony and other evidence the authors obtained in Honduras and concluded that the DEA played a central role in the shooting incident.

April 12, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Official Honduran Report on May 11 Shooting Incident is a New Injustice to Victims