Ecuador is working to rescue and promote the use of indigenous languages.
As reparation for historical injustices and as a means to strengthen the nation’s intercultural identity, the Ecuadorean government and citizens are prioritizing the recuperation of the country’s 14 indigenous languages.
Human migration and societies stigmatization of their tounge are two factors which have led to the near disappearance of some languages in recent years. Studies have shown that in 1950 14 percent of the population spoke an indigenous language, with that number plummeting to be 3.7 percent in 1990.
Director of the Center for Economic and Social Rights Eduardo Pichilingue told teleSUR English, “I think that language is fundamental for creating a group, so that it has identity. I work with the Waorani indigenous group, the Waorani thankfully have a relatively healthy language still, they were contacted not too long ago, this makes the change in their language not as drastic as in other nationalities.”
Giving a space to those previously excluded and ignored indigenous voices is the Ecuador Educational Coordination of Popular Radio. With the objective of democratizing communication, it allows Kichwa-speaking producers to design their own programs, and report on both national and international events.
“On behalf of the government I think there has been an effort above all else to strengthen processes of cultural exchange. I believe the government is working hard in communication processes between people and nationalities. 18 community radios have been implemented at a national level to strengthen processes of communication between people from distinct nationalities,” said Sandy Chavez, the Coordinator of Networks at CORAPE.
She went on to say, “From us as an institution, a great success has been incorporating producers, young people who did not speak Kichwa, into our educational initiative and transmit in the Kichwa language. So our first success has been that these young people are not embarrassed to speak in the language, but that they are part of this initiative to rescue indigenous languages, and this has been the first.”
A country with more than 10 indigenous nationalities, the 2008 constitution of Ecuador declares it a plurinational and intercultural state. The Foreign Ministry has expressed that it is willing to foster diplomatic relationships with these distinct nationalities within Ecuador, as a way to strengthen national identity as the country continues working to save and further the use of indigenous languages.
The Colombian military will stop bombing FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) camps for one month, President Juan Manuel Santos announced Tuesday.
The President emphasized that this is a temporary measure to try to de-escalate the more than 50 year conflict in the country, however he did not rule out the possibility of extending the one month deadline.
The FARC – the country’s largest guerrilla group – declared a unilateral ceasefire in December 2014, which it has so far honored, but the Colombian government has been slow to reciprocate.
Santos’ decision is an attempt to support ongoing peace talks, however he was specific in saying the bombing of camps would stop and did not mention ground troop deployment.
“To promote the de-escalation of the conflict, I decided to order the defense minister (Juan Carlos Pinzón) and the commanders of the forces to cease the bombing of the FARC camp for a month,” said the president.
“After that time we will further review the implementation of the unilateral termination by the FARC and, according to its results, decide whether to continue with the measure or not. In any case we will not waive the bombing if we see an imminent threat of a population,” he added.
The FARC and the Colombian government have been undergoing peace talks in Havana, Cuba since November of 2012 in an attempt to find a solution to the decades long conflict that has killed and displaced millions of Colombians.
One of the most popular pieces of “information” that is being circulated on the internet and newspapers in my own country of birth, Italy, is an announcement of the imminent arrival of ISIS fighters on our shores. According to United States intelligence agencies, which are not exactly impartial or neutral sources, throngs of Islamic terrorists are about to be shipped to our boot-shaped Mediterranean country from Libya. Panic. Fear. Insecurity. These are the words that are being thrown around like stale bread to the birds. Few column inches in the Italian national press, and elsewhere for that matter, have been devoted to any analysis of the validity of the threats or their inherent origins. Alas, this is a well-known technique: capitalize on those points that suit the needs of international interests and national politicians, and omit the information that really matters. It’s a dirty trick that causes entire populations to be plagued by short-term memory loss.
Sponsoring proxy armies
ISIS was founded in 1999 by a shadowy figure, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He has been reported killed and resurrected numerous times, as has been its successor. Let us not dwell on the first 12 years of ISIS, when it was a spinoff of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Instead, let us fast forward to 2011, when the NATO powers, led by France and the UK, engaged in an aerial offensive against Libya to topple Gaddafi and replace him with a pro-West government. This approach has been standard geopolitical operating procedure for the US and its Western-European allies for decades in places such as Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil, Vietnam, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, Chile and many more, where despotic regimes have been installed after Western-engineered coups. Often, the major powers do not get directly involved or send their own troops to die on foreign lands, because this would have severe repercussions on the standing of politicians in the public opinion. The praxis is to sponsor, fund and arm ruthless bands of “rebels” to fight against an established government. These groups are first funded to serve geopolitical interests, and when they are unwilling to do so any longer, they become an excuse to invade. Once in power, in fact, these groups tend to believe that they can stand on their own two feet without the support of their previous benefactors and often turn against them. Power beckons, and history indeed repeats itself. This is precisely the case with ISIS.
Libya: using the pretext of the Arab Spring
The meteoric rise of ISIS to power is not a coincidence or byproduct of innocent geopolitical mistakes. ISIS was initially created, for the sake of foreign-policy interests, to remove uncooperative governments like those in Libya, and then Syria which arguably became the pivotal point for the rise of ISIS. Until 2011 Libya was largely secular, sovereign, and fairly prosperous; now this country lies in ruins and is portrayed as having been invaded by a horde of foreign “Islamists”. The reality, however, is that France, Italy, the UK, and the US sponsored a small group of discontents to fight Gaddafi in 2011. They called themselves the Shabab, and they later constituted the “Libyan Transitional Council” which is now in government. The Libyan rebels were portrayed to the Western public as being “freedom fighters” who sought greater government accountability and increased liberties. In reality, it almost immediately became apparent that Islamic extremists had taken the leadership of the movement; the western powers were certainly aware of this.
Numerous reports warned that many of the fighters were affiliated with Al-Qaeda, another organization originally made powerful by the US to fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. From the start, the global left had denounced these pseudo-revolutionaries as being violent as well as extreme in their religious zeal: in short, bad news for everybody. Nobody heeded their calls. The demonization of Gaddafi continued in the mainstream Western media, and the glorification and support for the rebels grew to the point when NATO’s governments felt secure that their public would support bombing Libya. So they did. Let us also remember that the Libyan army was sufficiently well trained and disciplined to have almost neutralized the opposition, and it would have done so if NATO had not intervened. In short, if Gaddafi’s government existed today, ISIS might not.
It was not made widely public that many of Libya’s rebels were not Libyans but Iraqis from Al-Qaeda in Iraq. This organization cleverly re-branded itself to confuse the public, and it became ISIS. Abdel Hakim-Belhadj was the commander of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group that helped NATO to depose Gaddafi. It is almost unknown that Hakim-Belhadj was in fact an al-Qaeda lieutenant, turned double agent after being in the care of the CIA, and released back into operation. “The US was fully aware of and facilitating the delivery of weapons to the Al Qaeda-dominated rebel militias throughout the 2011 rebellion”, as stated by The Citizen’s Commission on Benghazi’s interim report. Far from the US being able to claim ignorance, this program was run and administered by Hillary Clinton, then the Secretary of State.
With NATO’s air support, the Libyan rebels captured Gaddafi (he was murdered by the rebels in a horror show that the mainstream media did not hesitate to broadcast). With Gaddafi gone, Hakim-Belhadj was rewarded by NATO and Washington with the title of Governor of Tripoli. With this position, he ensured the recruitment of Jihadists into Libya and the smuggling of hundreds of them to Syria through Turkey. This would create the backbone of what would eventually, and ironically, be named the “Free Syrian Army”. There is no equivocation on the fact that the very same members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were flying the Al-Qaeda and ISIS flags following the murder of Gaddafi. This happened “before and during the time they were shipped on to fight in Syria against Bashar al Assad’s government forces – on behalf of those very same NATO-allied agencies” as reported by the 21st Century Wire.
Syria: toppling Assad
One year later, the Free Syrian Army arguably brought us to the brink of World War III by using chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, and they attempted to frame Assad for it. They are the same fighters who were using weapons shipped by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with logistic support from the CIA operating in Jordan, and they were also funded by the Saudis, Qataris and Americans. All of this, despite their benefactors’ knowledge that the weapons were falling in the hands of the Jihadists rather than the secular opposition. With help from the CIA, these governments and that of Turkey sharply increased their support for the Syrian rebels throughout 2013, expanding exponentially an airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against Assad.
With the Jihadization of Damascus having failed, ISIS was born, led by the infamous al-Baghdadi, who was being sponsored just a few months before by the US to fight against Assad. This was achieved through missions coordinated by the likes of John McCain, who to this day maintains that he “knows these people very well” and they “are not terrorists”. The cognitive dissonance does not register in the minds of the majority of the western public. It is not understood that the people who are being paid by the US and NATO in Syria to get rid of Assad are the same people that we must supposedly fight in Libya. Politicians lie, the media parrots, and the populace believes. The infamous “Caliph” al-Baghdadi is now the new bogeyman, the new Bin Laden, the new scapegoat upon which the neocons of the world can capitalize. With Jeb Bush poised to be the leading US Republican candidate for the presidency, the parallels with his brother George W. Bush and his crusade against Al-Qaeda to justify the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are simply too sinister to ignore. It hardly matters whether one believes that ISIS is under direct control of the US or not. The point is that ISIS has achieved its primary role: that of creating an atmosphere of fear that can be exploited and manipulated to justify military and political interventions abroad.
We have to wonder about the goal of ISIS in bombing in Libya. If ISIS really wants to attack Rome, it can easily do so with home-grown members rather than risk the laborious task of smuggling fighters from Libya. Could it be to influence the US elections in favor of a neoconservative? Or to pretend to be fighting ISIS while bombing the pro-Gaddafi militias that have re-taken most of the southern regions of Libya? Whatever the reason, it appears that the support from the US to the supposed enemies of the US is allegedly not waning. The Pentagon is set to send 1,000 troops to aid the Syrian rebels, and in June 2014 Obama requested $500 million from the US Congress to train and arm the group that potentially includes ISIS combatants. This comes amidst claims from an alleged Islamic State commander in Pakistan that the US is directly funding ISIS fighters on the ground there, and from the Iraqi parliament that their army has downed two British military planes that were carrying weapons and explosives to be allegedly air-dropped on ISIS-controlled areas. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and the NATO powers are not the only ones who have at least indirectly supported ISIS; Israel too has also thrown its lot with these unsavory characters. For 18 months the Israeli “Defense” Forces provided medical and technical help to opposition groups fighting inside Syria, as observed by the UN peacekeeping missions in the Golan Heights.
If a hand strikes you, do you blame the hand that hit you or the mind that commanded it? The situation with ISIS is similar, and so the real question to be asked is the following: Who is the greatest enemy to our security here, ISIS or the US? For those willing to see, the truth is in plain sight.
On March 9, Iran’s U.N. mission circulated the following press release detailing Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s reaction to the GOP letter on a nuclear deal.
Asked about the open letter of 47 US Senators to Iranian leaders, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, responded that “in our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy. It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history. This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.”
Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration. He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.
Foreign Minister Zarif added that “I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.”
The Iranian Foreign Minister added that “change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.” He continued “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with ‘the stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.” He emphasized that if the current negotiation with P5+1 [Britain, China, France, Germany Russia and the United States] results in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.
Zarif expressed the hope that his comments “may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not ‘modify the terms of the agreement at any time’ as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of US obligations.”
The Foreign Minister also informed the authors that the majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as “mere executive agreements” and not treaties ratified by the Senate. He reminded them that “their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such ‘mere executive agreements’ that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.”
Zarif concluded by stating that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has entered these negotiations in good faith and with the political will to reach an agreement, and it is imperative for our counterparts to prove similar good faith and political will in order to make an agreement possible.”
Photo credit: Robin Wright
The Colombian government and the FARC rebels have reached a deal to remove the country’s land mines and discarded explosives, which have killed thousands of people in rural areas in the past 25 years.
The government and rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia “have agreed to ask (Norwegian People’s Aid) to lead and coordinate a cleanup and decontamination operation for mines in rural areas,” both sides said in a statement after they ended the latest round of peace talks in the Cuban capital Havana on Saturday.
Cuba and Norway are guarantors of Colombia’s peace negotiations.
“Our goal is to put an end to the conflict… so the demining proposal is a first step, but a giant one toward peace,” top government mediator Humberto de la Calle said.
Land mines killed or wounded 11,043 people, including 4,226 civilians, between 1990 and 2015, the Colombian government says.
FARC representatives said on Saturday that progress is also being made on the issue of a bilateral ceasefire.
“The technical sub-commission, which handles such overwhelmingly important topics as a definitive bilateral ceasefire and the mutual agreement to disarm, has begun to move forward at a good pace,” said Ivan Marquez, the FARC lead negotiator.
The peace talks between the Colombian government and the rebels began in November 2012 in Havana.
The negotiations have produced partial agreements on several issues, but have not resulted in a final deal.
FARC is Latin America’s oldest rebel group and has been fighting the government since 1964.
Bogota estimates that 220,000 people have been killed and more than 4.5 million others have been displaced due to Latin America’s longest insurgency.
An Islamic State commander injured in a bomb attack in northern Syria is being treated in a Turkish hospital in the border province of Antakya.
Emrah C., a Turkish national, was admitted to Pamukkale University Hospital on Feb. 28, according to a statement released by Denizli province Governor’s office.
The statement also confirmed the Turkish ISIL commander has full rights to health services benefits in the country.
“Judicial procedures regarding his injury were carried out when he crossed into Turkey from Syria. His treatment is still underway in Denizli in accordance with the right to receive medical attention, just like a normal citizen,” the statement said.
Turkey has been heavily criticized for allowing foreign fighters to pass through its territory to neighboring Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State. It has also been facing backlash for its reluctance to join US-led coalition efforts to fight the militant group, indicating an ideological link between some Turkish officials and the ISIL.
Last September, Turkish daily Aydinlik reported that the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government opened a 75 bed-capacity hospital in the southeastern Turkish province Gaziantep to treat jihadists injured while fighting in Syria.
By supporting South Sudan’s independence from Sudan, the US, UK and Norway have created conditions for the civil war, which broke out in the world’s youngest country in 2013, leaked documents from an inquiry by the African Union allege.
In 2005, the US, UK, Norway and the East African trading bloc, IGAD, pushed through a peace deal, which legitimized the South Sudanese rebels, and paved the way for the country’s independence in 2011.
According to a draft of the African Union inquiry obtained by Reuters, the actions of the Western powers helped establish “a politically unchallenged armed power in South Sudan” that acted with impunity and legitimized “rule of the gun.”
At least 10,000 people were killed and another 1.5 million have been displaced since July 2013 when the fighting between the forces loyal to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, and the militants led by his sacked deputy Riek Machar began.
The findings of the inquiry were to be presented to the African Union’s Peace and Security Council in late January, but it was decided the document will be shelved.
According to a Reuters source, it was done due to concerns the publication may disrupt the talks on forming a transitional government in South Sudan, which are currently underway between Kiir and Machar.
The inquiry suggested that South Sudan’s president and his rival should “be barred from participation in the transitional executive,” and the oil producer should be effectively placed under African Union control for a period of five years.
The investigation, led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, said that Kiir and Machar are responsible for the political crisis in December 2013 and “the organized massacres and the large-scale violence that followed.”
Officials from the US, UK and Norway said that they won’t comment on the document, which they haven’t seen.
“I think that the investigation that the African Union has started and the commission’s position, it needs to be made public,” Borge Brende, Norway’s Foreign Minister, told NRK broadcaster.
The call to make the inquiry public is supported by Washington, London and the UN Security Council.
Iran has once again announced its readiness to allow the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) to visit a site in the country’s western region of Marivan.
Reza Najafi, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, said in a Thursday statement that Tehran has already asked the agency to visit the site to clear allegations of large-scale experiments on explosives.
According to the statement, the international body rejected the offer.
Najafi said the agency cannot cover up its mistake regarding false accusations against Iran by simply rejecting the Islamic Republic’s offer.
He said Iran has repeatedly dismissed the accusations as baseless and fabricated.
A 2011 IAEA report claimed that it had information indicating large-scale high-explosive experiments at the site, which is located more than 700 kilometers west of the Iranian capital, Tehran.
On November 20, 2014, Najafi said Iran will, on a “voluntarily basis,” give the Vienna-based IAEA access to the Marivan site.
Iran has been cooperating with the IAEA as part of efforts to provide more transparency on the country’s peaceful nuclear program on a voluntary basis.
A team from the United Nations nuclear watchdog, headed by Tero Varjoranta, IAEA’s deputy director general and head of the Department of Safeguards, is due in Tehran later in the month for technical talks.
The last technical meeting between the two sides was held in November.
Iran says it has granted the IAEA access to the sites that the agency claims need to be investigated in order to clarify outstanding issues.
The Islamic Republic has time and again emphasized its readiness for full cooperation with the IAEA.
Separately, Iran and the P5+1 group – Russia, China, France, Britain, the United States and Germany – are negotiating to narrow their differences over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program ahead of a July 1 deadline for a comprehensive agreement.
CYPRUS – FOREIGN MINISTER Ioannis Kasoulides has hit back at the US government, after officials in Washington expressed displeasure at a recent trip to Moscow by President Nicos Anastasiades.
“The [US] discontent focused on the fact that they believe that Putin’s government should be isolated by the 28 EU Member States and all other members of the North Atlantic Alliance”, Kasoulides was quoted as telling CyBC, by Russian agency Sputnik.
But he added that the United States is not “entitled to be displeased,” as Washington does not seem to be concerned by the aggressive policy of Turkey toward Cyprus, at the same time blaming Moscow for the crisis in Ukraine.
Washington rebuked Anastasiades on Monday after his widely publicised trip to Russia last week.
The US signaled how angry it is with Cyprus when Marie Harf, the Deputy Spokesperson for the US Department of State said this is not the time for “business as usual with Russia”.
She made the unusually sharp remark after being asked to comment on the recent visit of Anastasiades to Moscow and St Petersburg.
The visit came amid strong Russia-West tensions over Ukraine, the worst since the Cold War.
The United States and Cuba have held another round of talks to reestablish diplomatic relations and explore the possibility of opening embassies in Washington and Havana.
However, the Friday talks left a serious issue unresolved as Washington has failed to remove Cuba from its list of “state sponsors of terrorism” so far.
The US said it was still reviewing Cuba’s place on the list maintaining that the issue is separate from the talks and won’t affect the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.
However, the head of the Cuban delegation, Josefina Vidal, said that the removal from the terror list was a “very important issue” and a priority for Havana.
“It would be difficult to explain that Cuba and the US have re-established normal diplomatic relations while Cuba is kept on that list that we believe we have never belonged to,” Vidal said.
The US State Department says the process is more complicated than it seems. If President Barack Obama wants to remove Cuba from the list, he must forward that to Congress and it cannot take effect for 45 days according to the law.
Following the talks, the head of the US delegation expressed optimism that the two countries could re-open embassies before a regional summit in April.
On December 17, Obama announced that Washington will start talks with Cuba to normalize diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in US foreign policy towards the communist country in over 50 years.
Several Republican lawmakers have criticized Obama for trying to restore relations with Cuba because they say it could provide the Caribbean nation with legitimacy and money while it continues with its alleged human rights violations.
An Argentine judge has dismissed cover-up charges against the country’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in the 1994 AMIA case.
Federal Judge Daniel Rafecas said there were no elements to justify continuation of an investigation on an alleged political effort by President Kirchner to cover up the role claimed to have been played by Iran in the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center.
The documents against Kirchner failed to meet “the minimal conditions needed to launch a formal court investigation,” the judge added.
Argentina’s Federal Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita is expected to appeal the ruling.
Pollicita replaced Alberto Nisman who was found dead in the bathroom of his apartment in the capital, Buenos Aires, on January 18.
The initial police report said Nisman had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Nisman’s death came hours before he was to testify in a congressional hearing about the AMIA attack.
The prosecutor had accused a number of high-ranking Argentine officials including President Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and lawmaker Andrés “Cuervo” Larroqu of trying to ‘protect Iranians’ in the case.
The Argentinean president has frequently dismissed the claim against Iran, saying the late prosecutor’s allegations were baseless and absurd.
The “real move against the government was the prosecutor’s death…. They used him while he was alive and then they needed him dead. It is that sad and terrible,” the Buenos Aires Herald quoted Kirchner as saying on January 22.
In July 1994, a car bomb exploded at the building of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, also known as AMIA, in Buenos Aires. Eighty-five people died and some 300 were injured.
The Israeli regime accuses Tehran of masterminding the terrorist attack. The Islamic Republic of Iran has strongly denied any involvement in the incident.
France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has slammed a move by three French lawmakers to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“I want to condemn this initiative with the greatest strength,” Valls said on Thursday.
“For parliamentarians to go without warning to meet a butcher…. I think it was a moral failing,” he said.
A French Parliamentary delegation headed by French Senator Jean-Pierre Vial, Chairman of the Syrian-French friendship Committee, met with Assad on Wednesday.
“We met Bashar al-Assad for a good hour. It went very well,” Jacques Myard, an MP from the opposition Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) party, also said.
The French lawmaker described the trip as “a personal mission to see what is going on, to hear [and] listen.”
According to the Syrian state television, the two sides had discussed “the state of Syrian-French relations, as well as the developments in the Arab world and Europe, especially with regard to terrorism.”
During the meeting, Assad said fighting terrorism demands real political will and belief in the fact that the outcome will be in the interest of all people while the dangers will threaten all countries.
“If this issue could be tackled based on this principle, surely we will soon witness tangible positive results,” added the president.
France cut diplomatic ties with Syria in 2012 and supports the militants in Syria, who seek the removal of Assad from power.
The US and its allies, including France, have been throwing their weight behind Takfiri ISIL militants, currently wreaking havoc on Syria and Iraq, in past years.
Reports say US military instructors trained the militants at a secret base in Jordan in 2012. According to reports, some 1,000 French nationals from a wide range of backgrounds are estimated to have left the European country to join the Takfiri militants in Iraq and Syria. Some 400 of them are thought to be currently operating on the ground, while almost 50 were killed.