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The massacre of children and others at El Mozote

Garden next to church in El Mozote where hundreds of child victims lie buried.

Thirty-six years ago, from December 10-12, 1981, the armed forces of El Salvador massacred hundreds of children in the town of El Mozote and surrounding communities. Last week El Salvador’s government divulged the results of the first official register of the victims who died in that massacre. Of 978 victims executed, 553 or 57% were under 18 years of age and 477 were 12 and under. Twelve infants died in their mothers wombs. Henceforth, at El Salvador Perspectives, we will refer to this atrocity as the “Massacre of Children and Others at El Mozote.”

As it covers the trial, the online periodical El Faro has offered us another view into the lives of the victims. A photogallery at the site shows ordinary objects of life in the village. The objects were recovered during the course of exhumations locating the bodies of the army’s massacre. Like the artifacts from Pompeii or Joye de Ceren, these items from everyday life give us a glimpse into the pre-disaster lives of the victims.

On this 36th anniversary, president Salvador Sanchez Ceren traveled to El Mozote for the first time during his presidency. In his speech, the president spoke of a debt to the victims, of the government’s efforts to invest in the zone as a form of reparations through public works, a health clinic, and cultural activities. The president indicated there were plans to construct a center devoted to historic memory so the events at El Mozote would not be forgotten. Despite his reference to historic memory, however, the president made no indication that the military would be required to open its archives from the time. He also made no mention of the current trial proceedings where former military commanders are charged with responsibility for the massacre of children and others at El Mozote.

Criminal law in El Salvador talks about those who are the material authors of a crime, the ones who pulled the trigger, and the intellectual authors of a crime, the ones who gave the orders for the crime. There have been previous trials in El Salvador for the material authors of such crimes as the murder of the Jesuits, a housekeeper and her daughter in 1989, or the murders of the four US churchwomen in 1980. But the current trial in the courtroom in San Francisco Gotera is the first full trial of the intellectual authors of atrocities committed during the civil war. For that reason, as well as the magnitude of the crime of a massacre of hundreds of children and others, the trial is historic.

The El Mozote criminal prosecution has developed a momentum and a seriousness not seen in any other case involving war crimes from the time of El Salvador’s civil war. It is a momentum pushed by the zealous efforts of the human rights lawyers for the victims who have called witness after witness to the stand to describe the loss of their families at the time. I have seen the coverage of the suit  and the commentary about it in social media increasing as each new witness takes the stand. In small steps, the country is starting to confront what justice means for a military command which ordered its soldiers to massacre children.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes, Timeless or most popular, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Mayor Killed in Mexico, 3rd in Less Than a Month

teleSUR | December 10, 2017

Mexican Mayor Jose Santos Hernandez was killed on Friday afternoon, the third murder of its kind this month. The other two murders took place in Veracruz.

Officials said gunmen intercepted Santos’ car, forced him from the vehicle – in which he was traveling with family – and killed him.

He is the sixth mayor killed so far this year, an AFP report stated.

Mexico’s murder rate has soared extraordinarily and has put the Latin American country on track to reach a historically high death figure by the closing of 2017, which would surpass 2011 and 2012 ‘war on drug’ numbers.

There have been almost 24,000 murders reported at the end of October.

Data from the National Association of Mayors reveals that approximately 50 mayors have been murdered since 2003 and 82 since 2006.

Half of the murders are committed in the states of Oaxaca, Michoacan, Veracruz and Guerrero.

Veracruz is regarded as one of the most violent states in the country.

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption | , | Leave a comment

Venezuela’s Electoral System Reliable, Says Monitor

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim | Venezuelanalysis | December 8, 2017

Venezuela’s voting system remains one of the most reliable in the world, an international group of electoral experts said Thursday.

The country’s electronic voting system boasts some of the world’s best checks and balances, and is both “safe and reliable”, according to Nicanor Moscoso, the head of the Latin American Council of Electoral Experts (CEELA).

“The results have never been formally refuted. It is the most audited process in the world,” he said.

The comments were made after Moscoso concluded talks with Venezuela’s electoral authority, the CNE.

Praising the work of the CNE, Moscoso said the electoral system is heavily automated and easy for voters to use.

“Venezuelans can be sure that Sunday will deliver the real results of the democratic will,” Moscoso said, referring to upcoming municipal elections this Sunday.

More than 300 mayoral positions nationwide are up for grabs, with the ruling socialist party, the PSUV, hoping to repeat its surprise victory in October’s regional vote. The party secured 18 of the country’s 23 state governorships in the elections.

Ahead of the vote, opposition parties had expected to make major gains, and largely refused to acknowledge the unexpected results once they came in. Prominent opposition parties including Voluntad Popular, Primero Justicia and Vente Venezuela have all vowed to boycott Sunday’s vote.

The boycott is likely to backfire on the opposition, according to Phil Gunson of the International Crisis Group.

“I don’t think there are many instances in history where governments have been brought down by electoral boycotts,” he told The Guardian.

“I think the very least you can ask of an opposition is that it shows up and puts up a fight,” Gunson added.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Honduran Opposition Seeks Annulment of Election Results

teleSUR | December 2017

The main opposition parties in Honduras independently submitted requests to annul the results of the Nov. 26 presidential election, which they consider fraudulent and skewed in favor of President Juan Orlando Hernández.

Salvador Nasralla, the leader of the Alliance of Opposition Against the Dictatorship, called on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to initiate a total recount of all votes and documents.

Before Nasralla presented his official challenge before the TSE, he warned that 200,000 extra votes had already been counted.

“Honduras has become a global joke,” he told reporters.

The candidate stressed his optimism, claiming that justice will prevail in the end.

“I know the people will defend the result (of the recount),” said Nasralla, who indicated that once the legal bodies perform their duties after the formal challenge, he plans to travel abroad to denounce the “fraud we have found.”

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party secretary, Octavio Pineda, also delivered a formal request to the TSE to annul the results. “Principles have been violated since the current president was allowed to participate in the electoral process when the Constitution forbids it,” he said.

The TSE has up to 10 days to respond to requests for annulment.

The election, which occurred two weeks ago, has left Hondurans unsure of who will be their next president for the next four years. This uncertainty has triggered protests in the Central American country that has left at least 11 dead and 15 wounded.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez Faces Pretrial Detention

Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
teleSUR | December 7, 2017

An Argentine judge has ordered that former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner be put in pretrial detention.

Federal judge Claudio Bonadio alleges that Fernandez committed crimes against the state in trying to “conceal” the possible involvement of five Iranian officials in Argentina in the bombing of the Israeli Argentine Mutualist Association, AMIA, building in Buenos Aires in 1994.

Eighty-six people were killed in the explosion. The bombing remains unsolved.

The judge claims that in signing a memorandum of understanding with Iranian officials in Argentina in 2013, Fernandez agreed to not investigate possible Iranian involvement in the attack, “aggravating” the inquiry and granting the alleged bombers impunity.

The 2013 memorandum was never legally enacted in Iran, but was by the Argentine Congress. However, an Argentine judge ruled the memorandum unconstitutional.

If convicted, Fernandez could face up to 10 to 25 years of jail time or even life in prison.

Fernandez, along with all other 23 newly-elected senators, are set to take up their congressional post this Sunday, Dec. 10. She and the other senators were sworn in last week.

Bonadio also ordered the arrest of former Argentine government official Hector Timerman. Already arrested for alleged involvement in the memorandum is former Secretary General Carlos Zannini, who served under Fernandez. He was questioned about the memorandum by Bonadio in October and denied any wrongdoing.

Also arrested today in the early morning were activists Luis D’Elia and Jorge “Yussuf” Khalil. As officials arrested D’Elía, he yelled “stop the Macri dictatorship!” alluding to current President Mauricio Macri.

Up to 12 other former government officials are suspected of playing a part in the so-called “cover up,” but are not being detained.

Fernandez says the memorandum attempted to advance the investigation and called for the creation of an international commission to investigate the bombing. She says the commission had orders of extradition pending for Interpol to deliver several accused who reside in Iran to Argentina. These extradition orders were never carried out.

An investigation into the memorandum was first ordered by a former attorney general in 2015, but was denied by a federal court in 2016.

December 7, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , | Leave a comment

UN Expert: No Humanitarian Crisis in Venezuela

By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas | Venezuelanalysis | December 6, 2017

An independent United Nations expert has publicly stated that Venezuela is not suffering from a humanitarian crisis following a recent trip to the country.

Alfred De Zayas, an independent expert on International Democratic and Equitable Order at the United Nations (UN), visited Venezuela in late November to assess its social and economic progress.

On arriving back in Geneva Tuesday, the UN official told press that he did not think the country’s current economic problems had given way to a humanitarian crisis.

“I agree with the FAO [UN Food and Agriculture Organization] and CEPAL [Economic Commission for Latin America & the Caribbean] that the so-called humanitarian crisis does not exist in Venezuela, although there are shortages, scarcity, and distribution delays, etc.” he said.

“What is important is to get to know the causes and take measures against contraband, monopolies, hoarding, corruption, manipulation of the currency and the distortions in the economy caused by an economic and financial war which includes [the effects of international] sanctions and pressure,” he added.

Venezuela’s opposition and private media have often alleged that the country is suffering from a humanitarian crisis in a bid to promote international intervention from foreign governments and agencies such as the UN. Opposition leaders have made the “opening of a humanitarian channel” to allow more food and medicine imports into the country one of their chief demands in negotiations with the national government, which began on December 1.

However, according to De Zayas, international solidarity is what is needed to help Venezuela overcome the current crisis. He also said that mainstream media coverage of the country is often “theatrical” and “does not help to resolve the problems” that the country faces.

During his visit, De Zayas met with government representatives, including Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, as well as with opposition leaders and civil society organizations. He also accompanied the initial talks held between the government and opposition in the Dominican Republic on December 1-2.

The UN expert said he would formulate a series of constructive recommendations to address Venezuela’s crisis and present them as a report to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2018. He has now departed to Ecuador, where he will be carrying out a similar visit.

Venezuela’s economy has been severely hit by the decline in global oil prices since 2014, directly impacting on the state’s ability to import the same quantity of food and medicine as in previous years.

The Trump administration imposed economic sanctions on Venezuela in August, prohibiting US financial agencies from negotiating debt relief with the beleaguered country. Canada has also passed sanctions against individual government officials.

December 7, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Remembering Brazil’s Leftist President João Goulart on Anniversary of His Death

João Vicente Goulart holds a portrait of himself, his father, João Goulart, and his sister, Denize. | Photo: João Vicente Goulart
By Edu Montesanti | teleSUR | December 6, 2017

“Jango was my best friend, a great partner, and the best father to my children. It is still hard to forget,” Jango’s widow, Maria Theresa Goulart told teleSUR.

On Dec. 6, 1976, former Brazilian President João Goulart, popularly known as “Jango,” passed away at 57 years old in his exile with family in Mercedes, Argentina. Officially, he died of a cardiac attack, but evidence points to poisoning.

“There are still some available tissue samples at the Federal Police Criminal Institute of Brazil for a new investigation, as new evidence is expected if we can have more documents declassified and testimonies that would bring new information,” João Vicente Goulart, Jango’s son told teleSUR.

“In the first results analyzed, a substance appeared in tiny amounts which should not be in a human body, called pentaerythritol tetranitrate or erythrin tetranitrate, also known as pentrite,” said Goulart. “It is a chemical with characteristics and end of explosives that, at the time, was only controlled as an exclusive weapon used by the American army,” added Jango’s son, pointing out that secret agents used to infiltrate the family’s house in exile.

“It has been proven that spies removed my father’s documents, they could have easily changed his heart medicine for a poison.”

Jango speaks to a large crowd accompanied by his wife, Maria Theresa Goulart. Photo: João Vicente Goulart

Jango’s body did not undergo an autopsy at the time of his death. His body was buried in São Borja, Brazil, after the assurance that the coffin would not be opened. According to Goulart, “There was severe military repression at my father’s funeral.” There were military officials everywhere, monitoring Jango’s coffin so it could not be opened. In 2006, Mario Neira, a former Uruguayan secret agent, told Goulart that his father had been poisoned.

Overthrown from the Brazilian presidency by a military coup d’état on April 1, 1964, the democratically-elected João Goulart, with more than 70 percent of an approval rating, was exiled three days later with family to Uruguay. In 1973, President Juan Domingo Peron welcomed him. The Goularts were constantly threatened in exile, so the son, João Vicente and Denize, the Goularts’ daughter, left to study in London. Some friends warned former president Jango several times, that he could be killed.

On March 13, 1964, 18 days before the coup, President João Goulart gave a speech to more than 200,000 people in Central do Brasil square in Rio de Janeiro, with his wife Maria Theresa Goulart beside him, for the first time since assuming the presidency. He promised an agrarian reform, reducing remittances of profits overseas, extending democratic rights, along with other very popular reforms.

“Goulart committed the crime of reforming the economy. That was more than (U.S. President) Lyndon Johnson could tolerate and he opted to destabilize the economy and assist a right-wing military takeover,” said the U.S. historian Peter Kuznick to teleSUR.

“The 1964 coup that toppled Goulart’s government was extremely significant,” added Kuznick. “Oliver Stone and I began our documentary about the invasion of Vietnam with a discussion of that coup. We then talk about the Dominican Republic, Greece, Indonesia, and Chile to show that the Vietnam War was part of a pattern.

“A National Intelligence Estimate in the summer of 1963 had warned that Goulart might be establishing ‘an extreme leftist regime, with a strongly anti-U.S. character.’ Johnson’s appointment in December of Thomas Mann as assistant secretary of state to coordinate Latin American affairs was another nail in the Goulart government’s coffin.

“When Goulart responded the next year to U.S. demands to impose austerity on the Brazilian people by instead offering land reform and control of foreign capital and by recognizing Cuba, the U.S. moved quickly to destabilize the economy. Goulart seized U.S. properties.

“Ambassador Lincoln Gordon and U.S. embassy officials urged right-wing Brazilian officers to overthrow Goulart. The U.S. backed Army Chief of Staff General Humberto Castelo Branco. The CIA assisted behind the scenes,” observed Kuznick, who is the director of the Institute of Nuclear Studies at the American University.

The Brazilian historian Victor Schincariol told teleSUR that in order to preserve national peace and people’s security, President Jango didn’t call for a military intervention to protect him. “Goulart was genuinely committed to democracy and social peace. He said that he could not tolerate the death of Brazilians in a virtual civil war.

“At the same time, he knew that the U.S. would support the right-wing forces, which would make the case for the defense of democracy very hard indeed to win,” added the Brazilian researcher at the University of ABC in São Paulo.

On Dec. 18, in the presence of the heads of the military and President Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian Congress symbolically returned President João Goulart’s mandate, as the OAS exhorted Brazil in 2010 for the crimes against humanity never punished, committed by the military dictatorship that killed 475 people, left 144 “disappeared,” and tortured more than 30,000 people.

There is an Amnesty Act in Brazil, elaborated and passed in 1979 by Brazilian military officials themselves — never addressed in the country by politicians, mainstream media and local elites — that acquits the dictators of the crimes committed between 1964 and 1985.

“Goulart’s and Varga’s legacy was erased, physically and ideologically, by the military dictatorship between 1964-1985. The economy was “globalized;” the case for an industrialization with national capitals, social justice and national independence was substituted by dependence, fascist policies and censorship; the democratic and left-wing forces were imprisoned, killed or left the nation,” said Professor Doctor Schincariol.

“The most important legacy Jango left to Brazil was his tireless fight for workers’ right and social justice,” Jango’s widow, Maria Theresa Goulart told teleSUR. “And for us, his family, his generosity and partnership.”

December 6, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Honduran opposition urges total vote recount or run-off

Press TV – December 6, 2017

Honduras’ opposition presidential candidate has demanded either an entire vote recount or a run-off poll following a controversial vote-counting process that resulted in favor of incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez by a low margin but no declared winner.

Salvador Nasralla, who had earlier demanded a recount of at least one-third of the votes, said in a Twitter post on Tuesday that the electoral tribunal now had to review all the voting cards.

“If you don’t agree with that, let’s go to a run-off between (Hernandez) and Salvador Nasralla,” he added.

It took Honduran authorities more than a week to count the votes from the November 26 presidential election in the country of only nine million people.

Early on Monday, electoral authorities said Hernandez had won 42.98 percent of the votes, compared with Nasralla’s 41.39 percent. But the authorities stopped short of declaring a winner.

As the results began to trickle in last week, Nasralla was in the lead with a significant margin before a 24-hour hiatus in the official vote count reversed that trend. The opposition candidate soon alleged fraud and called on his supporters to take to the streets. Tens of thousands took to the streets on Sunday in a show of support for Nasralla, a former TV star.

Former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, who was toppled in a US-backed coup in 2009 and now supports Nasralla, also declared through a Twitter message that the opposition was seeking a total recount of the vote, or legislation to allow for a run-off.

Meanwhile, police forces rebelled against the Hernandez administration on Monday, refusing to take part in a crackdown on protesters and calling on the government to address the political stalemate.

A top official at the Honduran electoral tribunal, David Matamoros, invited the opposition to compare their copies of voter tally sheets with the official body’s versions. He also said the tribunal would extend a deadline for legal challenges from Wednesday to Friday.

Meanwhile, protest rallies in favor of Nasralla that started last week continued on Tuesday afternoon as scores of people, including police officers, converged at the Tegucigalpa headquarters of Honduras’ elite police force yelling “Out, JOH,” using President Hernandez’s initials.

Hernandez, who has been commended by the US for his crackdown on violent street gangs, has also claimed victory a number of times since the election but avoided making the claim in remarks broadcast on Monday and Tuesday.

December 6, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Honduran police refuse to obey government orders to curb protest

Press TV – December 5, 2017

Officers of the Honduras National Police have refused to enforce a curfew after days of deadly violence triggered by allegations of electoral fraud.

Honduran police announced on Monday night that they will refuse to obey orders from the government of the incumbent president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, and will remain in their barracks until a political crisis triggered by last Sunday’s contested presidential election has been resolved.

According to reports, all national police as well as hundreds of members of riot police force known as Cobras were refusing to obey the government’s orders during the protests in the capital, Tegucigalpa and instead are striking.

“We want peace, and we will not follow government orders – we’re tired of this,” said a spokesman outside the national police headquarters in Tegucigalpa.

“We aren’t with a political ideology. We can’t keep confronting people, and we don’t want to repress and violate the rights of the Honduran people.”

Crowds of anti-government protesters greeted the announcement with cheers.

The small Central American nation of 10 million, which suffers from chronic violence and prolific gang activity, held the presidential vote last Sunday.

Rival candidate Salvador Nasralla has cried foul and his supporters have been on the streets protesting.

Tensions have been high since shortly afterwards. Nasralla was in the lead with a significant margin before a 24-hour hiatus in the official vote count reversed that trend last week. The opposition candidate soon alleged fraud and called on his supporters to take to the streets.

In recent days, Tens of thousands took to the streets in a show of support for Nasralla, a former TV star.

Authorities then restricted the freedom of movement in the country in an attempt to control widening unrest.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Monday reported that they have received preliminary information on the deaths of 11 Hondurans during the protests.

Meanwhile, the electoral tribunal in Honduras has finished counting votes in the country’s contentious presidential election after more than a week, with incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez having received more votes in the official tally.

Early on Monday, electoral authorities said Hernandez had won 42.98 percent of the votes, compared with opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla’s 41.39 percent, based on 99.96 percent of the votes counted.

But the authorities stopped short of declaring a winner.

December 5, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment

Honduras: Teenage Girl Killed as Army Enforces Curfew

teleSUR | December 2, 2017

Three people – including a teenaged girl – have so far been killed in violent clashes following the disputed Honduran elections, as the armed forces opened fire on unarmed opposition supporters while enforcing a 10-day curfew imposed by the government late Friday.

One man was killed in the port city of La Ceiba on Friday and 19-year-old Kimberly Dayana Fonseca was shot in the head early Saturday in Tegucigalpa as soldiers busted up protesters’ blockades, a spokesman for the national police said, bringing the total death toll to three.

In a brief statement to the press, the head of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) David Matamoros announced late Saturday that the scrutiny of more than 1,000 disputed ballots would resume Sunday 9:30am local time.

He also noted that screening more than 5,000 ballots, as requested by the Opposition Alliance, would have taken 12 to 15 days. “We appreciate your presence, but there will be nothing else here today, I reiterate that we will call for tomorrow at 09h30 local time,” the magistrate said.

In response, Opposition Alliance leader Salvador Nasralla accused the TSE of deliberately excluding the towns of Lempira, La Paz and Intebuca after he requested they be reviewed when the turnout was abnormally high (75 percent) compared with the rest of the country (50 percent).

Nasralla insisted it was mathematically impossible that Hernandez could win the election with 30 percent of the votes still uncounted before the electronic system collapsed.

“We want what the Honduran people want,” he told teleSUR in a televised interview. “If the people want, we will run for another election. If they want, I won’t participate if Juan Orlando Hernandez doesn’t either.

“If (electoral authorities) refuse to recount, let’s hold the elections again, but with an international tribunal: that’s our position,” he concluded, describing the situation as “a coup d’etat.”

He also said the leadership of the armed forces had “sold themselves” in shirking their constitutional duties “against a tyrant who forcefully wants to stay in power,” and accused the government of infiltrating opposition protests in order to loot local stores and discredit the movement.

Human rights organizations have denounced the curfew, blaming “excessive force” by state troops. The U.S.-based Action Network has sent an open letter to the U.S: Congress and State Department, expressing “deep concern about reports of fraud and state violence” and calling for the immediate suspension of all U.S. police and military aid to Honduras.

The Venezuelan government firmly condemned on Saturday the “latest attempted blow against democracy from sectors of the Honduran oligarchy. The people’s will and human rights of the people of Honduras must be respected,” said Jorge Arreaza on Twitter.

In a communique, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry also slammed the “repression and the excessive use of force by State security forces,” accusing “the same actors” responsible for the 2009 coup against the constitutional President Manuel Zelaya.

The Honduran Ministry of Justice ordered the suspension of citizens’ constitutional rights shortly before 11pm Friday. On Saturday, the Committee of the Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (Dodafeh) confirmed 11 people have been injured in Tegucigalpa since late Saturday and 41 arrested, six of whom are minors.

The government, controlled by current president and electoral candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez, claims the move is to counter what they call “violent protests” by supporters of presidential candidate and Opposition Alliance leader Nasralla.

The Honduran Roundtable for Human Rights (HRHR) said “excessive force” is being used by Honduran military and state security forces. Nasralla said the suspension of constitutional guarantees is part of a Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) plan to “steal” his “victory,” claiming the electrobal body has committed electoral fraud since polls closed Sunday night.

The HRHR, in a formal statement, said the Armed Forces are creating a “terrorist state” against peaceful protesters, killing at least two people with rubber bullets and injuring dozens. National police forces have “arbitrarily arrested” citizens, intimidated media and thrown tear gas at marchers.

Bolivian President Evo Morales reprimanded the United States and Organization of the American States (OAS) for their alleged complicity: “Nearly a week since the Honduran elections. Why are the U.S. and OAS silently complicit regarding the elections and death of citizens in Honduras? Democracy is in danger in a neighboring country?”

Official election results on the TSE website have remained unchanged since Friday morning, with Hernandez leading by less than one percentage point over Nasralla. Over 94 percent of ballots are counted.

The decree now in effect until Dec. 11 says that people can move about freely only from 6am until 6pm. Outside of that time, they are not allowed to be on highways or in any public space, otherwise they are “putting their lives in danger.” The decree gives the military the right to patrol the streets and detain anyone “violating” the curfew.

December 3, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Argentine ‘death flight’ pilots get life for 100s of junta opponents thrown into ocean

Images of junta victims at ESMA Museum in Buenos Aires © espaciomemoria / YouTube
RT | November 30, 2017

Judges in Argentina have given life sentences to the former ‘death flights’ pilots after hundreds of people opposing the country’s 1976-83 military junta – including a close friend of Pope Francis – were thrown into the ocean.

A major ruling on Wednesday marked the “first” such Argentinian judgment against pilots involved in the notorious ‘death flights,’ local media reports. During the operations, opponents of Argentina’s military regime that ruled the country from 1976 until 1983 were thrown into the waters of the Atlantic.

According to the verdict, the announcement of which lasted almost four hours, 29 former service members were sentenced to life imprisonment, 19 were sentenced to eight to 25 years, and six were acquitted, local media report.

There are 54 defendants in the major trial. It also involves cases of 789 victims of a secret detention center – known as the Navy Mechanics Higher School (ESMA) – where up to 5,000 people opposing the repressive junta regime are believed to have been vanished.

The five-year trial – called the ‘mega cause’ in Argentina – exposed the chilling practices of systematic torture and the killing of thousands of people, including left-wing opponents of the regime and members of Argentina’s urban guerrilla groups, but also human rights activists and relatives of those forcibly disappeared by junta forces.

In a series of hearings, it emerged that numerous victims were drugged, loaded onto ‘death flight’ aircraft, and thrown into the freezing waters of the southern Atlantic Ocean. Among ESMA victims was Esther Careaga, a close friend of Jorge Bergoglio, who later became Pope Francis. Careaga was thrown to her death from a plane one night in December 1977, along with two French nuns and nine others.

“Careaga was a good friend and a great woman,” Beroglio said when the body was identified in 2003. The future pontiff met Careaga, a biochemist and his boss at the time, when he worked as an apprentice at a pharmaceutical laboratory in Buenos Aires in the early 1950s.

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Bolivia’s TIPNIS Dispute: How Liberal-Left Alternative Media Becomes a Conveyor Belt for US Regime Change Propaganda

Chicago ALBA Solidarity / November 30, 2017

As has become a standard operating procedure, an array of Western environmental NGOs, advocates of indigenous rights and liberal-left alternative media cover up the US role in attempts to overturn the anti-imperialist and anti-neoliberal governments of Rafael Correa in Ecuador[1] and Evo Morales in Bolivia.

This NACLA article[2] provides an excellent example. Bolivia’s TIPNIS (Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure) dispute arose over the Evo Morales government’s project to complete a road through the park, opposed by some indigenous and environmental groups.

As is NACLA modus operandi, the article says not one word about US and rightwing funding and coordination with the indigenous and environmental groups behind the TIPNIS anti-highway protests. (This does not delegitimize the protests, but it does deliberately mislead people about the issues involved).

In doing so, these kinds of articles cover up US interventionist regime change plans, be that their intention or not.

NACLA is not alone in what is in fact apologetics for US interventionism. Include the Guardian, UpsideDownWorld, [3] Amazon Watch, so-called “Marxist” Jeffery Weber,[4] Jacobin, ROAR, [5] Intercontinentalcry, Avaaz, In These Times, in a short list of examples. We can add to this simply by picking up any articles about oil drilling in Ecuador’s Yasuni during Rafael Correa’s presidency, or the protests in Bolivia’s TIPNIS and see what they say about US funding of protests, if they even mention it.

This is not simply an oversight, it is a cover-up.

What this Liberal Left Media Covers Up

On the issue of the TIPNIS highway, we find on numerous liberal-left alternative media and environmental websites claiming to defend the indigenous concealing that:

  1. The leading indigenous group of the TIPNIS 2011-2012 protests was being funded by USAID. The Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of the Bolivian East (CIDOB) had no qualms about working with USAID — it boasted on its website that it received training programs from USAID. CIDOB president Adolfo Chavez, thanked the “information and training acquired via different programs financed by external collaborators, in this case USAID”. [6]
  1. The 2011 TIPNIS march was coordinated with the US Embassy, specifically Eliseo Abelo. His phone conversations with the march leaders – some even made right before the march set out — were intercepted by the Bolivian counter-espionage agency and made public.[7]
  1. “The TIPNIS marchers were openly supported by right wing Santa Cruz agrobusiness interests and their main political representatives, the Santa Cruz governorship and Santa Cruz Civic Committee.” [8] In June 2011 indigenous deputies and right wing parties in the Santa Cruz departmental council formed an alliance against the MAS (Movement for Socialism, Evo Morales’s party). CIDOB then received a $3.5 million grant by the governorship for development projects in its communities.
  1. Over a year after the TIPNIS protests, one of the protest leaders announced he was joining a rightwing anti-Evo Morales political party.[9]
  1. The protest leaders of the TIPNIS march supported REDD (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). The Avaaz petition (below) criticizing Evo Morales for his claimed anti-environmental actions also covered this up. As far back as 2009 “CIDOB leaders were participating there in a USAID-promoted workshop to talk up the imperialist-sponsored REDD project they were pursuing together with USAID-funded NGOs.” [10]

REDD was a Western “environmental” program seeking to privatize forests by converting them into “carbon offsets” that allow Western corporations to continue polluting. That REDD would give Western NGOs and these indigenous groups funds for monitoring forests in their areas.

  1. These liberal-left alternative media and environmental NGOs falsely presented the TIPNIS conflict as one between indigenous/environmentalist groups against the Evo Morales government. (e.g. the TIPNIS highway was “a project universally[!] condemned by local indigenous tribes and urban populations alike”)[11] Fred Fuentes pointed out that more than 350 Bolivian organizations, including indigenous organizations and communities, even within TIPNIS, supported the proposed highway.

CONISUR (Consejo de Indígenas del Sur), consisting of a number of indigenous and peasant communities within TIPNIS, backed by Bolivia’s three largest national indigenous campesino organizations, organized a march to support of the road. They argued that the highway is essential to integrating Bolivia’s Amazonia with the rest of the country, as well as providing local communities with access to basic services and markets. [12]

The overwhelming majority of people in the West who know about the TIPNIS protests, or the Yasuni protests in Ecuador, where a similar division between indigenous groups took place, never learned either from the liberal-left media or the corporate media, that indigenous groups marched in support of the highway or in support of oil drilling.

  1. The TIPNIS conflict is falsely presented as Evo Morales wanting to build a highway through the TIPNIS wilderness (“cutting it in half” as they dramatically claim). There are in fact two roads that exist there now, which will be paved and connected to each other. Nor was it wilderness: 20,000 settlers lived there by 2010.[13]
  1. Anti- highway march leaders actually defended industrial-scale logging within TIPNIS. Two logging companies operated 70,000 hectares within the national park and have signed 20-year contracts with local communities.[14]
  1. They often fail to note that the TIPNIS marchers, when they reached La Paz, sought to instigate violence, demanding Evo Morales removal. Their plot was blocked by mobilization of local indigenous supporters of Evo’s government.

If we do not read Fred Fuentes in Green Left Weekly, we don’t find most of this information. Now, it is true that some of the media articles did mention that there were also TIPNIS protests and marches demanding the highway be built. Some do mention USAID, but phrase it as “Evo Morales claimed that those protesting his highway received USAID funding.”

Avaaz Petition Attacking Evo Morales over TIPNIS

The TIPNIS campaign, which became a tool in the US regime change strategy, was taken up in a petition by Avaaz. It included 61 signing groups. Only two from Bolivia! US signers included Amazon Watch, Biofuelwatch, Democracy Center, Food and Water Watch, Global Exchange, NACLA, Rainforest Action Network.[15]  Whether they knew it, whether they wanted to know it, they signed on to a false account of the TIPNIS conflict, placed the blame on the Bolivian government, target of US regime change, and hid the role of the US.US collaborators in Bolivia and Ecuador are painted as defenders of free expression, defenders of nature, defenders of the indigenous. The US government’s “talking points” against the progressive ALBA bloc countries have worked their way into liberal-left alternative media, which echo the attacks on these governments by organizations there receiving US funds.  That does not mean Amazon Watch, Upside Down World or NACLA are themselves funded by the US government – if it somehow exculpates them that they do this work for free. Even worse, much of this propaganda against Evo and Correa appears only in the liberal-left alternative press, what we consider our press.

The USAID budget for Latin America is said to be $750 million, but estimates show that the funding may total twice that. [16] Maria Augusta Calle of Ecuador’s National Assembly, said in 2015 the US Congress allocated $2 billion to destabilize targeted Latin American countries.[17]

This information, how much money it is, what organizations in the different countries receive it, how it is spent, ought to be a central focus of any liberal-left alternative media purporting to stand up for the oppressed peoples of the Americas.

Yet, as Fuentes points out:  “Overwhelmingly, solidarity activists uncritically supported the anti-highway march. Many argued that only social movements — not governments — can guarantee the success of [Bolivia’s] process of change…. with most articles written by solidarity activists, [they] downplay the role of United States imperialism…. Others went further, denying any connection between the protesters and US imperialism.”[18]

Why do they let themselves become conveyer belts for US regime change propaganda?

Why did this liberal-left media and NGOs let themselves become conveyer belts for US propaganda for regime change, legitimizing this US campaign to smear the Evo Morales government?

Some of it lies in the liberalish refusal to admit that all international issues can only be understood in the context of the role and the actions of the US Empire. As if conflicts related to countries the US deems hostile to its interests can be understood without taking the US role into account. Some liberal-left writers and groups do understand this, just as they do understand they may risk their positions and funding by looking to closely into it.

It seems easier to not see the role the Empire plays and simply present a liberal-left “critique” of the pluses and minuses of some progressive government targeted by the US. That is how these alternative media sources end up actually advocating for indigenous groups and environmental NGOs which are US and corporate funded. They even criticize countries for defending national sovereignty by shutting down these non-governmental organizations, what Bolivian Vice-President Linera exposes as “foreign government financed organizations” operating in their countries.

Some of it lies in the widely held anti-authoritarian feeling in the US that social movements “from below” are inherently good and that the government/the state is inherently bad. The reporting can be informative on social movements in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia where the people struggle against state repression. But when these social movements in Ecuador or Bolivia were able to win elections and gain hold of some real state power, reporting soon becomes hostile and misleading. “Support social movements when they struggle against governmental power; oppose them once they win government power,” they seem to say. Their reporting slides into disinformation, undermining our solidarity with other struggles, and covering up US regime change efforts. UpsideDownWorld is an excellent example of this.

Some of it lies in what many who call themselves “left” still have not come to terms with: their own arrogant white attitude they share with Western colonizers and present day ruling elites: we know better than you what is good for you, we are the best interpreters and defenders of your socialism, your democracy, your human rights. They repeatedly critique real or imagined failures of progressive Third World governments – targets of the US.

Genuine solidarity with the peoples of the Third World means basing yourself in opposition to the Empire’s interference and exposing how it attempts to undermine movements seeking to break free from the Western domination.

Some of it lies in deep-rooted white racist paternalism in their romanticizing the indigenous as some “noble savage” living at one with nature, in some Garden of Eden. Providing these people with schools, health clinics, modern conveniences we have, is somehow felt not to be in their best interests.

A serious analysis of a Third World country must begin with the role the West has played. To not point out imperialism’s historic and continuing exploitive role is simply dishonest, it is apologetics, it shows a basic lack of human feeling for the peoples of the Third World.

A function of corporate media is to conceal Western pillaging of Third World countries, to cheerlead efforts to restore neocolonial-neoliberal governments to power. However, for liberal-left media and organizations to do likewise, even if halfway, is nothing other than supporting imperialist interference.

[1] https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/16/propaganda-as-news-ecuador-sells-out-indigenous-tribes-and-the-environment-to-china/

[2] https://nacla.org/blog/2017/08/22/why-evo-morales-reviving-bolivia%E2%80%99s-controversial-tipnis-road

[3] http://upsidedownworld.org/main/bolivia-archives-31/4864-bolivias-conamaq-indigenous-movement-we-will-not-sell-ourselves-to-any-government-or-political-party

[4] https://mronline.org/2011/08/20/separating-fact-from-fantasy-in-bolivia-a-review-of-jeffery-r-webbers-from-rebellion-to-reform-in-bolivia/

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2012/03/28/the-morales-government-neoliberalism-in-disguise/

[5] https://roarmag.org/essays/bolivia-authoritarianism-mas-elections/

[6] Fred Fuentes, Bolivia: Solidarity activists need to support revolutionary process; Rumble over jungle far from over http://links.org.au/node/2611

[7]   http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/09/26/end-to-usaid-spying-looms-in-latin-america.html

[8] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2012/03/28/the-morales-government-neoliberalism-in-disguise/

[9] http://www.la-razon.com/nacional/Pedro-Nuni-lideres-regionales-proyecto_0_1946805357.html

[10] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2012/03/28/the-morales-government-neoliberalism-in-disguise/

[11] http://www.coha.org/corrupted-idealism-bolivias-compromise-between-development-and-the-environment/

[12] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2012/03/28/the-morales-government-neoliberalism-in-disguise/

[13] Linda C.  Farthing, Benjamin H. Kohl Evo’s Bolivia: Continuity and Change (2014: 52)

[14] http://links.org.au/node/2611

[15] http://amazonwatch.org/news/2011/0921-appeal-to-bolivian-president-evo-morales-protect-the-rights-of-the-indigenous-peoples-of-tipnis

[16] http://www.globalresearch.ca/usaid-spying-in-latin-america/5306679

[17] http://www.hispantv.com/noticias/ecuador/37659/eeuu-destino-$2000-millones-para-desestabilizar-america-latina

[18] http://links.org.au/node/2611

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Environmentalism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment