Sunday, 29 May 2011

Zelaya's Return: Neither Reconciliation nor Democracy in Honduras

Source: NACLA (North American Congress on Latin America), 28 May 2011.

by Adrienne Pine,

Over the past few weeks U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and latter-day media "experts" have hailed Manuel Zelaya's return to Honduras and the pending reintegration of the country into the OAS as a restoration of democracy. Here in Honduras, it is clear that such claims could not be further from the truth. Despite the triumphal language of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, Honduran president Porfirio Lobo, and even Zelaya himself following their signing of the Cartagena Accords, Honduras today is no closer to reconciliation than it was in the months following the June 28, 2009 military coup.

As Dana Frank points out in The Progressive on May 27, the Cartagena Accords ensure the reinstatement of Honduras into the OAS in return for only one "concession" that is not already ostensibly guaranteed: that the trumped-up charges, leveled against Zelaya by the same court that legitimated his unconstitutional expulsion from the country, be dropped. That this should be sufficient for Honduras's return is perplexing, given that the country was expelled under Article 21 of the OAS Democratic Charter, which reads in part:

When the special session of the General Assembly determines that there has been an unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order of a member state, and that diplomatic initiatives have failed, the special session shall take the decision to suspend said member state from the exercise of its right to participate in the OAS by an affirmative vote of two thirds of the member states in accordance with the Charter of the OAS.

Today, the same businessmen, politicians, and military officials who funded, engineered, and carried out the coup are in power, having been guaranteed impunity for their crimes by a coup-supporting president who came to power through an illegal, fraudulent election that was legitimated by the U.S. government. Human rights abuses committed by police and military forces, rather than decreasing with the Lobo presidency, have surged in recent months to levels at or above those just after the coup.

COPINH on Zelaya's return to Honduras

COPINH declaration & call to action upon return of Zelaya
Source:, 27 May 2011,
Translated by Adrienne Pine.

Welcome General Coordinator of the FNRP Compañero Zelaya Rosales

COPINH expresses our happiness to have ex-president and General Coordinator of the FNRP Manuel Zelaya Rosales back on Honduran soil; at the same time we issue the following call to action:

To the Honduran people, to mobilize in order to provide a warm welcome to you, who symbolize the struggle of the Honduran people to create a participatory and human democracy.

To deepen all our efforts at denouncing the criminal dictatorship led by Porfirio Lobo Sosa, peon of the oligarchy and of North American imperialism.

To the entire Honduran population to NOT rest until we have dismantled the structures [and authors] of the coup, that continue to hold power enjoying complete impunity nationally and internationally, against whom we will continue to fight because we are a dignified people who are not disposed to retreat, and who with the strength of our legitimacy energetically condemns the imminent incorporation of the regime into the OAS, to whom we declare: if you think you will wipe the board clean and start over, you are mistaken; you are mistaken in your cold economic calculations, in your political pragmatism, in your urgent desire to serve imperialism in its project of rearranging the continent; you are mistaken in your hypocrisy of recognizing a murderous regime that is the inheritor of a coup d'état and that has not complied with the conditions for return imposed by the OAS itself, for which it was expelled in the first place.

COPINH reaffirms its conviction to fight, alongside the nation, against impunity, and to do everything possible to ensure that there will be punishment for the authors and actors of the criminal coup, in addition to continuing with the historic struggle that we have been undertaking in our communities defending our natural resources, our sovereignty, our self-determination and the creation of a new society, refounded from below, capable of achieving decolonization, emancipation, and a dignified life.

We will not forget, We will not forgive, and WE WILL NOT reconcile!!

With the ancestral force of Lempira Mota and Etempica we raise our voices full of life, justice, liberty, dignity and peace

Issued in Esperanza,
Intibucá, Honduras,
May 27, 2011

Mel Zelaya returns to Honduras

Ousted president Zelaya returns to lead new political party
by AFP, 29 May 2011.

Former president Manuel Zelaya made a triumphal return to Honduras Saturday, as tens of thousands of people cheered and waved banners to welcome him home nearly two years after he was ousted in a coup.

Zelaya, wearing his trademark white cowboy hat, landed in Tegucigalpa with his wife and aides aboard a Venezuelan plane on a flight from Managua, and immediately went to a nearby plaza to rally his supporters. "We arrive full of optimism and hope to search for an exit to this crisis. At one moment we had almost lost it all, but they never defeated us," he told the enthusiastic crowd, dressed mostly in red t-shirts.

Zelaya, 58, thanked his supporters and paid homage to those "who spilled their blood in this plaza," including an 18-year-old shot dead during a protest a week after the coup.

"Their blood was not spilled in vain because we are here still engaged in the struggle," he told the crowd. Several people fainted in the heat waiting for the former president, who was several hours behind schedule.

The end of the former cattle rancher's 16-month exile was part of a deal brokered by several Latin American governments that will end Honduras diplomatic isolation and give the government of President Porfirio Lobo access to foreign investment and aid. The ousted former president is returning to lead the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP), a movement formed after the June 2009 coup to challenge a two party system that has dominated Honduran politics since the early 20th century.

"He was the only president that remembered us, the poor," said Maria Elisa Ferrufino, a 75 year-old farmer who got up at dawn Friday to catch a bus to Tegucigalpa for the rally.

Zelaya "helped the poor people -- no president had done that before," said Arnulfo Mendez, 62, who traveled from a town 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of the capital for the rally. "There is hope that with his leadership we can do something with the Resistance Front." Zelaya's return will allow Honduras to rejoin the Organization of American States (OAS) and gain access to international aid, vital in a country where 70 percent of a population of nearly eight million live on four dollars or less a day.

The deal included a promise that all legal action against Zelaya would be dropped. Lobo and Zelaya signed a reconciliation agreement in Colombia last week, and the two will meet at the presidential palace along with the head of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, and Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez praised Zelaya's return as "a great victory" for the Honduran people in a Twitter message. "Down with dictatorships! Long live popular power, long live true democracy!" Chavez wrote.

Zelaya, who spent most of his exile in the Dominican Republic, was a conservative rancher when he was elected in January 2006, but took a political turn to the left once in office.

He was ousted in a military coup sanctioned by the Honduran legislature and the supreme court after calling for a referendum to rewrite the constitution. His opponents feared he would use it to extend his term in office as his ally Chavez had done in Venezuela. After his ouster, Zelaya secretly returned to Honduras and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy, creating a standoff that lasted four months.

Meanwhile, the interim regime that ousted Zelaya held elections and Lobo took office in January 2010. Despite enjoying broad popular support, Zelaya cannot run in the 2013 presidential elections because the constitution limits presidents to a single term in office.

Supporters want Zelaya's 51 year-old wife Xiomara Castro to run for president.

FNRP on the Cartagena Accord

Announcement by the Political Committee of the National Front for Popular Resistance on the signing of the Cartagena Accord

by Political Committee of the National Front for Popular Resistance (FNRP), Tegucigalpa, M.D.C
Unofficial translation by Chuck Kaufman, Alliance for Global Justice from here.

Monday, May 23, 2011. Announcement No. 1

Today in the city of Cartegena de Indias, Colombia was signed the Accord for National Reconciliation and Consolidation of the Democratic System in the Republic of Honduras by Porfirio Lobo Sosa and Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales for the Republic of Honduras and as witnesses/facilitators the presidents of the Republic of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos and Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

With respect to these recent events we announce the following:

· We appreciate the process of international mediation developed by the presidents mentioned above because we have always held that the civilized mechanisms of humanity including international diplomacy, conciliation, and healthy tolerance are the proper methods for human coexistence and an exit to the crisis generated by the coup d’état en Honduras.

· With respect to the agenda raised by former President of the Republic of Honduras (2006-2010) and General Coordinator of the National Front for Popular Resistance Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales relevant to the four points set out in the mediation:

a. The return of Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales and the exiled associates

b. The respect for human rights in Honduras.

c. The recognition of the National Front for Popular Resistance as a political and belligerent force.

d. The national constitutional assembly.

The first point mentioned in the agenda will be completely obtained with the return of Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales and exiled associates when they return this Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 11am at the Toncontin International Airport.

In the human rights sphere there is no progress because the Lobo regime is not committed to it, neither guaranteeing the application of justice to the violators of human rights, nor the trusteeship of the human rights of the people in resistance. This is a challenge for the National Front for Popular Resistance.

As far as the recognition of the National Front for Popular Resistance as a political and belligerent force, it is progress in the sense that the regime is committed to fulfill the registration of the FNRP by the Supreme Electoral Court in the light of the laws for democratic participation in the electoral political processes of Honduras and so that it can integrate official electoral political organisms in conditions of equality.

On the subject of the constituent assembly that is one of the great objectives of the National Front for Popular Resistance, the right to the consultation for the National Constituent Assembly has been achieved. In this way we affirm that with the strength of sovereign principles and ideas, we triumph over the petty interests of the power groups that have denied us the right to participatory democracy.

It is due to all of that mentioned above that this internationally mediated accord permits us to end the exile, strengthen our process for the refounding of Honduras and go on to recover our homeland, that we are able to make, in the name of all the members of the resistance at the national and international level, a united call for a great mobilization to receive and welcome our leader and General Coordinator of the FNRP Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales this Saturday, May 2011 at 11am a the Toncontin International Airport.

We Resist and We Will Overcome

The Case of the Cuban Five and the Media

Source: CubaDebate
Translation: by Machetera and Tlaxcala

by Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, May 3, 2011

When the U.S. Government rejected Gerardo Hernández Nordelo’s Habeas Corpus petition on April 25, it did so very categorically, without leaving any margin of doubt. Washington wants the court in Miami to declare his petition inadmissible and to do so summarily, without holding a hearing to examine its merits, without hearing Gerardo, without presenting the evidence it is hiding. This is how it responded to the last legal recourse of a human being sentenced to two life terms plus 15 years.

Washington asked for the appeals for Antonio Guerrero and René González to be dismissed in a similar manner.

These are three practically simultaneous actions that reveal the profoundly arbitrary and unjust nature of the U.S. system. They took place one week ago but have not become news, save for the mentions in our media.

The media dictatorship is probably currently the most efficient instrument in imperialism’s political hegemony. It largely dominates information on a global scale, determining what people are allowed to know and blocking whatever it wishes to conceal, with an iron fist.

The battle for the freedom of our Five compatriots can only be won if we understand this essential fact in today’s world, and are capable of acting accordingly.

Such iron-clad censorship is not accidental. Part of Gerardo’s appeal is based precisely on the concealment of evidence and the perverse function of the so-called information media.

It has to do with a case that practically no-one outside of Miami is aware of. The great media corporations imposed total silence toward the outside world while their correspondents in that city joined with the local media with their dubious reputation, in order to unleash a virulent campaign against the accused which contributed to creating what three judges from the Court of Appeals described as a “perfect storm” of prejudice and hostility, on which basis they decided to dismiss the trial.

Judge Lenard herself repeatedly protested the provocative actions that these supposed journalists were carrying out which created fear among the jurors who felt threatened.

In 2006 it was revealed that these provocateurs had received payments from the U.S. government to perform their dirty work. Since that date, various organizations in the United States have called on Washington to turn over the data it is hiding regarding the reach of the conspiracy whose existence is more than sufficient to prove the scandalous prevarication of the authorities.

For five years, those friends in the U.S. have engaged in efforts as noble as they are lonely, which have been completely unreported by the corporate media and very little has filtered out through those who consider themselves their alternative.

And so it has not been difficult for the U.S. government to maintain its obstinate position and continue imposing secrecy.

Nor has it found it particularly difficult to keep the satellite imagery it jealously guards from public view about the incident of February 24, 1996. Fifteen years ago it did not allow the investigators from the International Civil Aviation Organization to view them, it refused to present them to the court in Miami, and now it has reiterated its refusal. Its attitude of impeding others from seeing the proof that only Washington can access is so obvious and suspicious that in its lengthy 123 page argument with three appendices against Gerardo, it barely alludes to the matter in a twisted five line paragraph.

Allow me a brief review. Gerardo Hernández Nordelo had absolutely nothing to do with the downing of the aircraft on February 24, 1996. The U.S. government itself, that of W. Bush, acknowledged the lack of proof to sustain its accusation against Gerardo and asked to withdraw it at the last minute. It did so in an official document, titled “Emergency Petition” and which, according to they themselves, constituted an unprecedented action in the history of that country.

Here is the document, dated May 25, 2001, soon it will be ten years old, but as far as those who call themselves “information media” it does not exist. I have inherited a certain tendency toward obstinacy from my Andalucian ancestors, and that’s why I carry it with me from time to time, because even gypsies believe in chance. You never know. Maybe one day someone will discover that this document exists.

Returning to the event of February 24, 1996. No U.S. court had jurisdiction over the matter, unless it had occurred in international airspace. The investigation performed by the ICAO revealed something surprising. Despite being warned beforehand by their government, the U.S. radar stations either did not register the event or offered contradictory data or destroyed the data. The only proof supplied by U.S. authorities is the testimony from the captain of a boat that operated – by coincidence? – out of Miami.

And so, the interest, first by the ICAO and later by Gerardo’s defense team, in the satellite imagery. The U.S. government never denied the existence of these images, it admitted having them, but it put a fifteen year prohibition on allowing anyone else to see them.

How can it be explained that they have successfully managed to hide them for such a long time? Simply because their revealing conduct has never become news, because they have been able to count on the complicity of the enormous media corporations, but also, it must be said, on our own laziness.

The worst enemy of press freedom is the media dictatorship exercised by the huge corporations which manipulate information and substitute an industry of deceit.

This dictatorship imposes the news menu that circulates through our newsrooms, its codes of language and interpretation circulating along with it. If we wish to develop truthful journalism, capable of transforming itself into a real alternative, it’s essential to go beyond the menu and find the truth in other sources. It is a professional necessity but also a duty of solidarity with those who, lacking resources, are waging hard battles alone. Assisting in the articulation of their scattered efforts is the obligation of a revolutionary press. It’s also the best recipe for curing the infection from those codes that circulate, often inadvertently, among ourselves.

Acting this way, we can also make news. Without inventing it or fabricating it, like the inventions and fabrications that are so abundant on the menu we are served day and night. By breaking the chains that lock up the truths such as those I’ve allowed myself to mention here. We ought to be, finally, like Julio Antonio Mella wanted us to be: “Thinking beings not driven ones.”

Text read as part of a speech given on May 3, 2011, in an event held jointly by the FELAP (Latin American Federation of Journalists) and the UPEC (Cuban Association of Journalists) for Día de la Libertad de Prensa [Press Freedom Day].

Happy birthday Gerardo and Ramón!

Source: National Committee to Free the Cuban Five

Send a birthday greeting to: Gerardo Hernández and Ramón Labañino!

Gerardo and Ramón have birthdays in June.

Be sure to send them a birthday greeting!

You can write to them directly at the prison, (address below) and also transmit a greeting to our email address below. We will then mail Ramón and Gerardo your greeting which you e-mail us.

Gerardo Hernández was born June 4, 1965.
His address is:
Gerardo Hernández, #58739-004
U.S.P. Victorville
P.O. Box 5300
Adelanto, CA 92301
Ramón Labañino was born June 9, 1963.
He is registered in prison as Luis Medina, so you
have to address the envelope as:
Luis Medina, #58734-004
F.C.I. Jesup
2680 301 South
Jesup, GA 31599
Then inside the cards and letters, you can write to him as Ramón.

Much has happened in the last year, in the struggle for the Cuban Five. Gerardo's habeas corpus appeal is currently underway. His attorneys will file a reply in July to the government's response to his appeal memorandum.

Ramón's habeas corpus appeal memorandum will be filed soon. Antonio Guerrero's appeals are also currently in process. In the meantime, you can read the latest developments on the mobilizing efforts for the Five Cuban Heroes, as well as their legal appeals.

Contact Us
email: info[at], phone: 415-821-6545

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Venezuela’s Chavez increases funding for social programs

Source: Correo del Orinoco International, 29 April 2011.

Taking advantage of an international rise in oil prices spurred by unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, President Hugo Chavez signed a new decree last Thursday that will direct a greater portion of state revenues to a range of social programs designed to improve living standards for the Venezuelan people. The decree, announced by the President during the television show La Hojilla, modifies current legislation, known as a Windfall Tax, that dedicates money generated from elevated oil prices to social welfare programs in areas such as housing, education, and employment benefits.

Previously, when the price of oil reached between $70 and $100 per barrel on the international market, 50 percent of the price difference was funneled to the government’s National Development Fund (Fonden) to be put to use for social projects. With the new law signed last week, 80 percent of the price difference between $70 and $90 per barrel will now be destined to Fonden, translating into more concrete benefits for residents of the OPEC nation. Ninety percent of the difference will likewise be handed over to social programs when the price rests between $90 and $100 and anytime the price reaches over $100, a full 95 percent of the revenue difference will be deposited in the nation’s development fund.

Last week, the price of Venezuelan crude reached more than $108, the highest level since August 2008. In 2011, the Venezuelan government formulated its budget with the price of oil calculated at $40. With the recent spike in prices, the average price for 2012 is now just under $95 per barrel. “This is a law that creates a new mechanism so that the people receive much more. It also brings us to terms with the reality of the exorbitant oil prices”, Chavez said of the new decree during a call to La Hojilla.

Venezuela, the fifth largest producer of crude in the world, exports some 2.5 million barrels a day and counts on the revenue generated from the oil industry for the majority of national income. Since Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999, the government has been using this wealth, traditionally concentrated in the hands of an elite minority, to fund anti-poverty and educational initiatives as well as a vast array of other social programs, known as missions.

Through these missions, the government has been able to reduce poverty by more than half over the past 12 years. Similarly, the Chavez administration has been responsible for eliminating illiteracy in the country, providing free health care to all residents, increasing university enrollment to one of the highest rates in the world, guaranteeing the availability of affordable food staples, and slashing unemployment rates. The new law, signed last week, will ensure that this trend of redistributing the nation’s oil wealth continues, Chavez affirmed, as billions of dollars will be directed towards social spending. Housing, food sovereignty initiatives and an increase in the nation’s minimum wage will form part of the costs that willbe covered by the higher oil revenues.

In addition to the signing of the new decree, on Thursday night, the Venezuelan head of state also reported that he has approved 422.8 million bolivars ($98.3 million) for housing construction across the country. Chavez also announced that the launching of the government’s new program, Mission Housing, will take place on April 30th. The new “Mega Mission” plans to construct 2 million affordable homes in the country by 2017.

Venezuela condemns US sanctions

Venezuela condemns US ''imperialist'' sanctions
By Rachael Boothroyd, 25 May 2011.

The Venezuelan government criticised the Obama administration’s move to impose sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company Pdvsa, calling the sanctions an “imperialist attack” against Venezuela. The U.S. State Department enforced the sanctions in an attempt to put further pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear programme by penalising companies which continue to trade with the Islamic Republic.

U.S. Vice Secretary of State James Steinberg, who made the announcement to journalists on Tuesday, said that in approving the sanctions the U.S. wanted to send a “clear message” to companies which continue to “irresponsibly support Iran” – “they will suffer serious consequences,” he said.

Between December 2010 and March 2011 Venezuela, which has friendly bilateral relations with Iran, exported $50 million worth of a fuel additive to Iran. The U.S. government deemed the trade relations to be in breach of the 1996 Iran Sanctions Act.

“The U.S. needs to move quickly to cut off Chávez’s source of revenue, and bring an end to both his influence in Latin America and his dangerous relationship with the terrorist-supporting Iranian regime before it’s too late,” said U.S Congressman and Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Connie Mack.

The measures will also affect other smaller companies including Jersey, Monaco, firms in the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Singapore.

Although Pdvsa will continue to sell oil on the U.S. market, the sanctions – which will last two years – prevent the company from entering into contracts with the U.S. government, as well as barring it from import-export finance programmes and obtaining licenses for U.S. oil processing technology. None of the company’s subsidiaries will be affected.

Venezuelan Government: “Sovereign Nation”
In a press conference on Tuesday, Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Relations Nicolas Maduro said: “We are not afraid of these sanctions, nor are we going to debate the reasons that the North American government may have, but Venezuela is sovereign in making its decisions.”

An official document rejecting the sanctions was drafted and signed by pro-Chavez Venezuelan ministers, but opposition politicians refused to sign it. “This shows once again that these politicians are representatives of North American imperialism,” said Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez.

Ramirez also stated: “The imperialist powers are hoping to dictate the rules to us. They will have to go without, because we are going to keep advancing towards creating unity between oil-producing countries.”

Pdvsa Workers Stage Day of Action
In the early hours of this morning Pdvsa workers initiated a day of action in defence of the company, taking part in demonstrations, take-overs of oil refineries, cultural activities and convoking a popular assembly in order to manifest their support for the government’s foreign policy.

Workers have been engaged in activities in Anzoátegui, Carabobo, Monagas and other states throughout the day. A female worker in Monagas, Chiquín Yánez, said that the workers “will not accept Yankee imperialist interference in the sovereignty of Venezuela. The new Pdvsa is an independent company and the workers of this national company do not obey Yankee imperialism”.

Expressing a similar sentiment, Domingo Franco, who works in Pdvsa, reiterated the workers’ rejection of North American interventionism, stating: “We reject this latest North American interference in Venezuelan matters. The workers are at the ready to defend our oil industry. Our call is to defend the Orinoco [Oil] Belt. The imperial powers want our natural riches and we will defend our resources even with our life”.

Women’s and peasant organisations, alternative media, and community councils also organised a march in Caracas in response to the sanctions. Socialist women’s activist Anais Arismendi said the popular movement condemned “the unilateral decisions taken by a criminal state such as the U.S.A, which don’t respect international conventions,” adding that the U.S. was trying to “organise another right-wing offensive against the processes and countries which are currently liberating their own people”.

Iran Reaction
Although Iranian President Ahmadinejad maintains that the programme is purely for supplying energy to civilians, the U.S. claims that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad has previously accused “nuclear nations” of “monopolising” science and technology in order to protect their own interests and also of prohibiting other countries from the “peaceful use of nuclear energy”. In a speech following the inauguration of an oil production project in the city of Abadan on Tuesday, Ahmadinejad accused the U.S. government of supporting dictators in the region. However, he did not comment on the newly imposed sanctions.

“Anywhere there is a dictator he is supported by you...he is your stooge...” he said in direct reference to Washington.

Sanctions against Iran have formed an integral part of U.S. foreign policy since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, with broader sanctions coming into effect during the Clinton administration in the 1990s and from 2005 under President Bush – who also launched banking sanctions. Prior to 1979 Washington and Europe supported and provided assistance for the development of a nuclear plan under the Shah.

In an official statement the Venezuelan government said it would undertake a “general assessment of the situation to determine how these sanctions affect the operational capacity of our oil industry and, therefore, the supply of 1.2 million barrels of oil per day to the U.S.”

See also: Declaration of Rejection to US Sanctions Against Venezuela's PDVSA, Friends of Venezuela, May 25th 2011.

Cuba Reports Washington Maneuvers against ALBA

Source: Prensa Latina, 18 May 2011.
by Ana Luisa Brown.

The organization of a right-wing extremist summit on Capitol Hill in Washington to attacking Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba and Nicaragua was denounced on Wednesday.

The event will take place on May 26 under the slogan: Legitimacy Lost? How 21st Century Socialism Subverts Democracy in Latin America. The chair of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, is behind the maneuvers against the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).

The right-wing assembly will claim that progressive Latin American countries have joined together to undermine rule of law and that they systematically violate rights of their the citizens, Granma newspaper reported. It remarked the meeting is being promoted by the Americas Forum, a group that spreads dirty propaganda and misinformation against countries that do not obey the instructions of the US State Department.

The extremists and coup-plotters include Venezuelan mercenary Moises Naim, part of the Carlos Andres Perez administration during the massacre of El Caracazo.

U.S. Representative Connie Mack, the right-hand man of Ros-Lehtinen, will also be there; he suggested assassinating Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during another right-wing meeting. Mack is developing a campaign for Venezuela to appear on the list of countries the United States considers sponsors as state sponsors of terrorism.

Cuban doctors treated 0.5m Rwandans

Rwanda: Cuban Medics End Two-Year Duty Tour
by Edwin Musoni, 10 March 2011.
Source: The New Times

Twenty nine Cuban volunteer specialist doctors, Tuesday, ended their two-year tour of duty in Rwanda where they treated over 500,000 patients from various hospitals across the country.

The doctors also trained Rwandan medical practitioners. The Minister of Health, Dr Richard Sezibera acknowledged the work done by the Cubans.

“You have done a lot and we are very grateful. You did not only treat thousands of Rwandans but also did community outreach programmes which have promoted health in our country,” Dr Sezibera said. “I commend the manner in which you executed your work; you also helped Rwandan clinics in your free time.”

Sezibera thanked the South African and Cuban governments for what he termed as a “South to South Cooperation” with Rwanda. “This is the third brigade and you replaced a number of your colleagues who were here before. I want to say that this mode of cooperation is indeed a model of south to south cooperation,” said Sezibera.

He noted that the agreement Rwanda had with South Africa and Cuba has expired but the government is in talks with the two countries to renew it. Dr. David Lazarus, a Cuban oncologist hailed the partnership his country has with Rwanda and said that during their stay in Rwanda the team worked with commitment and had left a significant impact to many lives.

Mali Inaugurates Ophthalmologic Center

Mali Inaugurates Ophthalmologic Center with Cuban Assistance
Source:, 21 November 2010.

With the help of Cuba, Mali is retaking cataract operations and the treatment of other eye diseases with the inauguration of a new ophthalmologic center in Bamako, the country’s capital.

According to the website of the Cuban Foreign Ministry (, these procedures came to a halt in 2008 in order to build the new center, which is now in better conditions to continue with the Cuba-Mali cooperation health project.

Until 2008, Cuban specialists had performed eye surgery on more than 6,000 people from this African nation and the diagnosis of patients in need of surgery continued during the construction period.

Today, there are 124 Cuban health professionals in working Mali, including 11 at the new ophthalmologic center. As part of a bilateral cooperation program, there are other Cuban professionals working in this African country: 16 professors teaching at the Arts Conservatory and 14 sports trainers.

Cuba also contributes to the training of medicine students from Mali; nowadays there are more than 150 Malian youths studying different majors in the island.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Honduras: Zelaya signs 'historic Cartagena agreement'

Zelaya: Agreement with Porfirio Lobo "Historic"
Source: Prensa Latina, 23 May 2011.

Steps have been taken toward a new Constituent Assembly and referendum, former president Manuel Zelaya said after signing an agreement with current President Porfirio Lobo to end the political crisis in Honduras.

"It is a very important and historical advance restoring democratic rights for all Hondurans," Zelaya commented, referring to the commitment for "national reconciliation and democracy" signed on Sunday in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

Zelaya also said the agreement ensured recognition and respect for human rights, and provides victims of the military coup with an official body for compensation.

He also said that he now has every right to return to his homeland with full guaranties of freedom, as do his former cabinet members and all Hondurans in exile.

Recognition of the Peoples National Resistance Front (PNRF) [FNRP - ed.] as a legal political force was also accepted.

The agreement was signed with the mediation of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, and marks the end of a series of events following the military coup that overthrew Zelaya on June 28, 2009.

On his regular television program Alo President, Chavez also praised the deal between Lobo and Zelaya to restore a normal political situation in this Central American nation, and warned that he would be watching its fulfilment.

What Now for a Post-Coup Honduras?

by Alexander Main, 19 May 2011.
: Common

Will the Cartagena mediation process help resolve the crisis in Honduras?

Many Latin America watchers were thrown for a loop last month when a bilateral meeting in Cartagena, Colombia between Presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia suddenly metamorphosed into a trilateral encounter that included Porfirio Lobo, the controversial president of Honduras. It was hard enough grappling with the image of Chavez and Santos, considered to be arch-enemies only a year ago, slapping one another on the back and heralding warm relations between their countries. Now it appeared that Chavez had also warmed up to Lobo, the leader of a government that Venezuela and many other South American countries had refused to recognize since the coup of June 28, 2009 that toppled democratically-elected president Manuel Zelaya.

Various media outlets were quick to suggest that, as a result of the friendly meeting, Chavez was prepared to back the return of Honduras to the Organization of American States (OAS). Since Venezuela had been the most outspoken critic of Honduras’ post-coup governments, it seemed conceivable that in no time the country would recover the seat that it had lost by unanimous decision of the OAS’ thirty-three members following the 2009 coup.

But soon more details emerged from the meeting that suggested that there were still significant hurdles ahead for Lobo. Chávez had not in fact agreed to support Honduras’ immediate return to the OAS. Instead the three leaders had drawn up a road map for Honduras’ possible return with the direct input of exiled former president Mel Zelaya, who was reached by phone during the meeting. As had occurred in previous negotiations, a series of conditions were put forward with the understanding that their fulfillment would open the door to OAS re-entry.

Manuel Zelaya return to Honduras announced

Juan Barahona, Sub-Coordinator of the FNRP confirms the date and time for the return of Manuel Zelaya
Source:, 19 May 2011.

Juan Barahona, Sub FNRP coordinator, has confirmed today by telephone from Managua, Nicaragua that on Saturday May 28 former President Manuel Zelaya will be arriving in this capital city; "we finished a meeting with Manuel Zelaya and have decided that his return will be on Saturday May 28 at 11 am for the airport Toncontín "said Barahona.

Barahona reported that the ex-president and General Coordinator of FNRP will be accompanied by all the exiles who so far have been in different countries of Latin America and Europe. Similarly he will be accompanied by several foreign ministers and representatives of parliaments of Central and South America.

Expressions of happiness for the return of Manuel Zelaya have not been long in coming and already caravans from all over the country have been announced. A massive mobilization to welcome the ousted president is expected.

Juan Barahona has called on the resistance across the country to mobilise at the international airport of Toncontin in Tegucigalpa. From this point they will deploy to the Plaza Isy Obed Murillo, south of the airport, where the FNRP will make a political - cultural welcome in honor of the martyrs who fell after the military coup of June 28, 2009.

1.3m Latin Americans treated under Mision Milagro (Operation Miracle)

Operation Miracle Benefitted 496,000 Venezuelans
Source: Prensa Latina, 23 May 2011.

A total of 496,071 Venezuelans have benefited in seven years with the Operation Miracle, implemented in that country to treat visual impairment, said Monday the coordinator of the Ophthalmology Center in the department of Vargas, Carlos Padilla.

Padilla explained to Venezolana de Television that the social program was born on 8 July 2004 as a result of an agreement between the governments of Venezuela and Cuba for ensuring free eye treatment to low-income persons.

The initiative was formalized a year later, on August 21, 2005, through the Sandino Commitment, signed in the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio, between the Venezuelan and Cuban presidents, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, respectively.

In December of that year, the program expanded to other countries in Latin America and since then more than 1,324,000 patients from 12 Latin American countries have been treated, said Padilla.

According to the report of Padilla, out-patient consultations exceeded 15,539,000 up to 2011 and more than 21 million eyeglasses were provided.

Campesinos in Aguán assassinated

Campesino in Aguán assassinated by gunmen, one of several murdered in recent days
Source: Honduras Human Rights, 18 May 2011.

Sixto Ramos (45), a member of the campesino cooperative Nueva Suyapa, of the Peasant Movement of Aguán, MCA, was murdered at about eight o’clock on Wednesday, 18 May, shot several times from a passing car, when he was going to his organization.

This is one of several murders in recent days. On May 9, Roney Diaz (34) was killed and Manuel Vasquez was injured when they were violently evicted from the cooperative Despertar, by military and police forces. They were both leaders a peasant organization, Movimiento Auténtico Reivindicador Campesino, MARCA. On May 10, Pablo Lemus , 44, was also shot; he was a partner with the Brisas del Eden company of the Aguan Peasant Movement, MCA.

Another incident is the disappearance of Francisco Lopez Pascual, 38, who has been missing since May 15 when he was herding cows near the Rigores settlement in Aguan. So far his body is missing, even though his friends and relatives have searched for him is several areas.

According to a statement released by FIAN Honduras on May 16, blood, bullet caps and bullet holes on nearby trees were found where he was last seen. However, the police did not follow trail beyond 200 “fathoms” (about 350 meters) because they “did not believe it prudent to continue the search in private property” and advised the farmers to request authorization from the Public Ministry.

Earlier this year in March, an international mission with Cofadeh, Fian-Honduras and the Center for Women’s Rights, visited the area and documented serious human rights violations.

SOURCE: Desde vehículo asesinan otro campesino en el Aguán (Defensores en línea)

From the Caracazo to the Bolivarian Revolution

Maria and Sam McGill, Venezuela correspondent for Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI), chart the development of Venezuela from the Caracazo in 1989 to the victory of Chavez in the 2003 referendum.

written for RATB, 23 May 2011.

The Caracazo [1]
The Caracazo (Caracas explosion) which occurred 21 years ago was the start of the Bolivarian Revolution. It happened due to the people's dissatisfaction and frustration with the overnight rise in the cost of transportation and in the deterioration of life, especially among the poorer people during the crisis created by the fall in the oil prices in 1989.

The resulting repression cost the lives of thousands of Venezuelans and thousand were injured. The repression was carried out by the governmental forces especially in the poorer parts of the capital. On 27 February there was a popular fight. It was the clamour and desperation of repressed people who displayed slogans like: ‘there are no sold people here’ and ‘street democracy is developed’.

It all started in Guarenas city, a suburb of Caracas, but it spread quickly across the capital, because a package of measures was introduced, that beheld the liberalisation of prices that generated a very abrupt readjustment for people on lower incomes.

This was a popular fight and it changed the way of thinking of people that were extremely fed up with 40 years of Neoliberal governments. Poor people came down from the hills and as a spontaneous response to such grave economic crisis, the suppressed fury exploded. The men and the women that today form the Bolivarian revolution woke up. Blood scattered can not be forgotten and this work up the people’s conscience. February 27th was the day of former President Carlos Andres Perez’s massacre. The biggest genocide in Venezuela in the 20th century. After three days of violence and ransacking, the managerial firms sent the army to the streets to repress the people with the order to shoot to kill.

After the Caracazo
What happened to the dead and the missing during the Caracazo? According to official figures given, there were 276 dead, several injured, a few missing and many material losses. These figures were discredited with the discovery of mass graves. Most of the deaths were due to indiscriminate shooting carried out by Venezuelan state police. There was hiding and destruction of evidence as well as the use of institutional mechanisms to assure immunity for the murderous police.

During the incidents of February and March 1989, the State used High Executive powers to proceed with the burial of unidentified people in mass graves located in the sector called The Pest, in Cementerio General del Sur Caracas (the General Cemetery of South Caracas), an infringement of legal and administrative procedures. Civil servants denied the existence of such graves.

On 23 October 1990, COFAVIC, a human rights group, and other people reported to the Public Ministry about supposed irregular burials of non-identified corpses in the
Cementerio del Sur, between 27 February 1989 and 15 October 1990. This matter was referred to the 10th Penal Court of First Instance [High Court – ed.] under the Law for the Safeguard of Public Patrimony for the judicial circumscription [denominated geographic area] of the metropolitan area of Caracas. An investigation was started on 30 October 1990. On 5 November judicial inspections of the cemetery were carried out to determine if there were any irregularities.

It was claimed that there was no evidence in the record books of people buried in the northern Sector 6 of the
Cementerio del Sur, from the massacres of 27 February 1989. Later on, the same court ordered the exhumation of corpses from the Cementerio del Sur, which started on 30 November 1990 under the direction of a multidisciplinary team of the General Division of Medicine.

On 28 November, news of the disappeared people was released o the general public, based on the exhumation of several corpses. 68 corpses were of people whose deaths occurred between February and March 1989. 64 corpses were identified and returned to their families.

By 1991 the process of corpse exhumation was stopped. In 1997, the same Penal Court of First Instance decided to have the investigation re-opened until all the perpetrators and killers were identified.

Since 1989 there have been several ‘investigations’, from the homicides to the irregular burials of corpses. Investigation involved questioning of various members of the public, army and NGOs and in some cases by investigations carried out by instruction organisms. The penal investigations were kept secret and the victims families were never allowed access to them. Today there are still 437 cases open and these are still at the preliminary phase.

Ecuador 2011 Referendum result announced

Ecuador Referendum in New Stage
Source: Prensa Latina, 23 May 2011.

The official announcement this week of the outcome of the national referendum, where the Yes vote clearly won all 10 questions, brings Ecuador to a new stage, marked by the implementation of the people´s will at the polls.

Over four million citizens voted Yes, and in the counting of the valid votes on May 7, as established by the Constitution, support for the proposals of the Rafael Correa administration reached 53.4 percent, while 46.6 percent went to the No vote.

According to Correa himsel, speaking on his regular radio/television program, the Yes vote represents about 500,000 votes more than what he won in the 2009 presidential elections, which was 51.99 percent of the vote.

The national leader of the Alianza PAIS Movement, Gustavo Baroja, recently said that this referendum is the beginning of strengthening the main principles of the Citizens' Revolution: justice, solidarity and transparency.

Even though the victory of the referendum will make it possible to change the inefficient judicial system, reinforce the fight against corruption and illegal enrichment, and end conflicts of interest among bankers and the media, its implementation will be complex.

The first five questions had the nature of a referendum and refer to constitutional amendments, some of which will require new laws, such one on the judicial system, and require a simple majority of 63 votes in the Parliament.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Álvaro Uribe Velez in London

Photo: RATB, 21 May 2011 anti-Uribe picket, London, UK.

Source: Polo Democratico Alternativo, 20 May 2011.


On Saturday 21 May, former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe Velez, will be in London at the invitation of the London Business School .

The presence of the former Colombian president in cities across the United States and Europe has been strongly denounced by protestors who reject attempts to impose an academic label on a man who does not merit it and who’s name, and that of his family, are so closely linked to criminal activities in Colombia . This is not only an insult to the intelligence; it is an affront to the peoples’ dignity.

The existence of direct links between the former president, and many members of this family, with the Colombian narco-paramilitary organisations is an open secret. His cousin and political mentor Mario Uribe has been sentenced to prison by Colombian justice system for involvement with paramilitary activities. His brother Santiago Uribe is being investigated for the same crimes while hundreds of Congressional representatives from his party are in prison or under investigation for drug-trafficking and for assisting paramilitary organisations. Recently many high ranking members of his government have been sent to prison on charges of corruption. Some media have even declared that no more Uribista politicians will fit in Colombian goals, which are full of his followers.

Uribe was the broker in a perverse political strategy which, during his eight years in government, resulted in thousands of forced disappearances, thousands of torture victims, hundreds of massacres, thousands of political murders (including hundreds of trade unionists), millions forcefully displaced, thousands exiled and disgraceful impunity for all of these crimes.

Uribe was behind huge corruption scandals that have involved his officials and even his own sons. During his terms he imposed open and illegal repression, institutionalising the most abhorrent crime, including the so-called ‘false positives’ (extrajudicial killings of civilians attributed to the Colombian Army); he violated the principles of international law by ordering military incursions, bombings and kidnappings in neighbouring countries. He was the only Latin American president who gave complete support to the US/British invasion of Iraq . During his term as president, and even now that he has stood down, his criticisms of dozens of human rights defenders has led them to receive death threats signed by paramilitary groups called 'Black Eagles'.

In economic terms, Uribe left the country with 68% of the population living in poverty or destitution (indigence). More than 8 million people live in indigence and 20 million live in poverty. Acute malnutrition kills 20,000 children under the age of 5 years old every year. Today Colombia has the 11th highest social inequality in the world, and is more unequal than any other country in the Americas . It has the second highest number of displaced people in the world.

'We reject the attempts to turn Uribe into a respectable academic figure. This will not wipe clean his blood stained record. Join us to tell the London Business School not to give a platform to the perpetrators of state terror'.

Join us to make sure that Uribe knows he is not welcome in London!!

Photo: RATB, 21 May 2011 anti-Uribe picket, London, UK.

The first picket is from 4pm to 7pm on Saturday 21 May at the Latin American Business Forum at the RCOG, 27 Sussex Place, Regent's Park, London NW1, nearest tube: Baker Street.

The second picket is from 5pm to 8pm, Monday 23 May at the LSE Campus, Houghton Street, London WC2. Nearest tubes: Covent Garden, Holborn, Temple

Convened by: Polo Democratico Alternativo.
Supported by: ASLADOPEA, Todas las Voces Todas, Movimiento 22, Rock Around the Blockade (RATB), Movimiento Ecuador en el Reino Unido (MERU).

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

"Creating Incidents" in Cuba: America's design to trigger "Regime Change"

by Arnold August, 17 May 2011.

The Granma Editorial – A Key Question for Cuba and her Real Friends

I have read with a great deal of interest and enthusiasm the Granma newspaper Editorial entitled Fabricating Pretexts, dated May 15, 2011. I was following with much concern the latest provocations from Madrid, Miami and Washington. On April 1, 2011 Aznar*, whose roots are to be found in the worst of the Franco tradition, was complaining according to Europa Press that “it is not fair to do one thing in Libya and the opposite in Cuba… to protect lives.” Cuba’s enemies never have let up in their pernicious activities against the Cuban people. However, since this latest statement, a new series of equally aggressive actions just as defamatory has begun. For example, the program of Telephone Without Fear (Háblalo Sin Miedo) was set up by mercenary bloggers in the US and Cuba in order to give the impression that “disturbances” are taking place in Cuba and that “the Cubans” are clamoring for help from Washington and its allies.

There is also the latest program of “civic activism” being developed by mercenaries in Madrid, Miami and Cuba. Some of its representatives had recently visited Washington to solicit support. The goal is to create incidents in Cuba. Amongst those most involved are those who had recently been released from prison and their collaborators.

Who can believe that in Cuba there are pacific “dissidents” or mercenaries? In the first place the violation of Cuban laws has the objective, as they themselves have openly declared on more than one occasion, of “regime change” in Cuba. This is far from constituting a pacific goal. Secondly, the participation of almost all the tendencies in the “opposition” in one way or another in this “civic activism” activity shows that there exists a new phase of provocation which is characterized by a danger of violence. And so the Granma newspaper has every right to ask the following:

In the past, there have been attempts to isolate Cuba or provoke internal disorders in order to create a pretext for U.S. intervention. What is the object of these campaigns? Just to denigrate or something worse? Could it be that those pulling the strings and their paid internal agents would be delighted to invoke the “protection of civilians” in order to bomb Havana?

Based on 52 years of experience and heroic struggle, Cuba knows how to respond with serenity and firmness in the face of mercenary actions. In the same manner, honest people throughout the planet support the right to self-determination of Cuba, an entitlement which should apply to any nation in the world even though this displeases the heads of the Imperial powers.

These questions raised by Granma, which are crucial [for] Cuba, are also fundamental for the world: there is no room for vacillations with respect to the defense of Cuba in the confrontation with the forces of the Imperial powers.

Peoples and governments which are genuinely moved by a spirit of respect for international justice on all continents, insist that Washington and its allies respect the sovereignty of Cuba. Once again, as always, today we are not leaving Cuba alone.

* Fomer Spanish Prime Minister Aznar is on the board of directors of Rupert Murdoch's News International Ltd. a British media publisher/corporation, owner of The Times, The Sun, The News of the World and the US Fox Broadcasting Company.

Fabricating pretexts

Source: Granma International, EDITORIAL, 16 May 2011.

THE Cuban Revolution has been the object of hundreds of disinformation campaigns, usually orchestrated by the U.S. government with the complicity of European allies in conjunction with the powerful forces and interests which control the corporate media. However, they have not been able to divert Cubans from their ideals of independence and socialism, nor confuse the peoples of the planet who, despite everything, are led by wisdom and instinct to the truth. They are campaigns without political or ethical constraints which come up against the moral force of Cuba and merely tarnish their authors.

The most recent, which came from their prizewinning informants, was deflated in 72 hours. Lying politicians, the media which slandered out of political interest and journalists who reported an incident which never took place without even attempting to confirm it, must not be given impunity. At the very least, they should admit their error and apologize to the family whose grief they failed to respect.

Curiously, all of them remain silent in the face of the millions of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan which they define as “collateral damage,” as well as in the face of extrajudicial executions with drone aircraft in sovereign countries.

They have maintained a prudent silence in relation to the use of torture, have covered up the existence of secret U.S. prisons in Europe, have prevented investigations into the crimes committed in Abu Ghraib and the Guantánamo Naval Base – this latter usurped from Cuba – and the CIA secret flights transporting persons kidnapped in other states.

They remain unmoved at the brutal way in which European governments are inflicting the consequences of the economic crisis on the poorest members of society and immigrants. They look the other way when the unemployed or students in those wealthy societies are repressed with exceptional violence.

However, they are constantly hunting out pretexts for denigrating Cuba, and when these are lacking, they fabricate them.

They shamelessly converted a case of acute pancreatitis into political murder; a justified detention by police of less than three hours for public order offenses without any use of force into a fatal beating; a person with a criminal record sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for a common crime into a political dissident and the victim of a lengthy prison term.

The Cuban people share the protests of the family whose pain has been offended and the indignation of doctors virtually accused of complicity in a homicide. The world has more than sufficient examples of the humanistic vocation of our doctors, who have been unstinting in their efforts and, risking their own lives, have provided and are providing health services in many parts of the world.

American legislator David Rivera, famous for electoral corruption and his extremist campaigns to eliminate the right of émigré Cubans to travel to their country of origin, and who just a few weeks ago, accused former President Carter of being a Cuban agent, affirmed under oath in the U.S. Congress that the dead man was beaten to death in Villa Clara’s central Vidal Park last Sunday.

He didn’t even take the trouble to verify what even the most ill-intentioned acknowledge, that the deceased was in the park before and after his brief detention on Thursday, May 5, not on Sunday, when he was already in hospital. It is not surprising that Rivera should lie, but that he should do so with such stupidity.

Salafranca, a Euro deputy from Spain’s Partido Popular (PP), known for his anti-Cuban and pro-yankee attitudes, and who has said that reports on the CIA secret flights do not contribute any additional information and refrains from any condemnation of them, affirmed in the European Parliament that the individual “died after his detention and from a beating by the Cuban police.”

El País, from the Spain of the Prisa Group and PP conspiracies, published a cable titled “Cuba dissident dies after police beating.” The ABC, historically in the service of the worst causes, stated “Cuban opposition member dies after a beating from Castro’s police.” They are not interested in confirming the veracity of the alleged incidents and have not even bothered to disguise the conspiracy with different titles.

Even President Barack Obama himself, in response to a question from the highly tendentious Univisión network in Miami, referred to the events in Vidal Park which never took place, while stating that the details were not as yet clear.

It is strange that Obama, always so busy, retained in his memory the case of a person arrested in a Cuban park to which he was able to return shortly afterwards. However, he has not said anything and possibly does not even recall the anguished face or the account of young Iraqi Samar Hassan, published in The New York Times on May 7, concerning the terrible experience of the murder of her parents by a U.S. patrol when they were returning from the hospital after her little brother had received treatment for injuries.

But, in the case of Cuba, the worst offense is not the constant fabrication and reproduction of lies. What is unpardonable is the censuring of the great truths and the history of a heroic and blockaded people, who have been capable of achieving what for the great majority of humanity is still a dream.

In the past, there have been attempts to isolate Cuba or provoke internal disorders in order to create a pretext for U.S. intervention. What is the object of these campaigns? Just to denigrate or something worse? Could it be that those pulling the strings and their paid internal agents would be delighted to invoke the “protection of civilians” in order to bomb Havana?

Our people will not allow themselves to be confused by internal counterrevolutionaries who are seeking a media pretext in order to promote a conflict with the United States, and they know how to respond with serenity and firmness to the actions of these mercenaries.

The arguments of the Cuban Revolution are not fabricated like the lies of our enemies, they are constructed with the dignity and integrity of our people, who have learnt that the truth is the cleanest weapon of humanity.

Translated by Granma International

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Murder of campesinos in Aguan continues

Kidnapping and Murder of Campesinos in Aguan Continue
by the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), Colon, 16 May 2011.
Source:, Translated by La Voz de Abajo.

From the National Front of Popular Resistance in the Province of Colon to the national and international public and to the national and international human rights organizations, we declare the following:
1. On May 9 at 7:30 am, the campesino Pablo Lemus, member of the Campesino Movement of Aguan (MCA) in the settlement of Guadalupe Karney, in the municipality of Trujillo, was assassinated as he left the community of Los Leones. He was fired on from a moving vehicle and died instantly from 6 shots to his body from heavy caliber arms.

2. On May 10th of this year at 10 a.m. the campesino Alejandro Gomez, member of the campesino cooperative of La Trinidad, a base of the campesino movement, MARCA was kidnapped as he was moving down a dirt road close to the lands that are being recuperated. He was about 100 meters ahead of two companions where there is a turn in the road and there the agribusiness owners’ guards were waiting for them. They put him in their vehicle and transported him to another palm plantation distant from the community of Los Leones in the municipality of Trujillo in Colon. Alejandro was savagely tortured. The guards asked him for information about the campesino leaders, asked who are the guerrerillas accompanying the campesinos, where are their weapons and where do they hide them when they are evicted from the lands. He saved his life by telling them that he is not a campesino but an employee of a nearby plantation. After three days they dumped him to die of his beatings but he was able to communicate with his family.

3. Authorities from the Fifth Battalion of the infantry located about 15 minutes away from the land recuperation at La Trinidad and guards working for the big land-owning businessmen, together with the National Preventative Police prepare for a nocturnal attack against the campesinos, and are also calling on people who are not afraind TO KILL to contract them, offering salaries above 15 thousand lempiras, with medical insurance and life insurance if they fall during combat against the campesinos.

4. The campesino settlement, La Lempira, part of the Unified Campesinos Movement of Aguan (MUCA) was the object of an attack today, May 13th at 2 pm and again at 9:30pm from two vehicles identified as belonging to Miguel Facusse’s security force. They fired an enormous number of shots for five minutes at the temporary huts that the campesinos have installed; there were no wounded.

5. On May 10th, North American military deployed towards the left bank of the Aguan River, an area of agrarian conflict, were united with a military unit from the naval base at Puerto Castillo and military from the battalion at the Claro River. Later they left the zone, but according to the campesinos, a displacement of the campesinos is being prepared, regardless of the cost.

6. Suspended teachers from the Province of Colon, on May 12th took over the facilities of the provincial education department. When the municipal police from Trujillo arrived and saw professor Wilfredo Paz they said that they would “take him down” taking advantage of the opportunity since he is responsible for all the problems in Aguan, “there is the number one agitator” they said, and disgracefully insulted the educator

7. On May 12 of this year, two Patrol cars from the National Preventative Police pursued and stopped a vehicle marked with the national flag of Honduras belonging to the regional office of the National Agrarian Institute (INA) and in which employees of this agency, affiliated to the union, SITRAINA, were traveling to the community of Ocotes, on the left bank of the Aguan River. The police then said it was a false alarm but none the less they were on the brink of firing against the people in the car, reported a union leader, Mario Lopez. He states that the responsibility for anything happening to the trade union members to be the current minister of the INA, Mr. Cesar Ham, for obliging them to use this vehicle; he knows that there is a problem around the use of this car and he took the other regional vehicle to Tegucigalpa and he has kept it there with members of his Democratic Unification Party who are holding posts in the regional office as “employees of confidence” whom he has kept in the capital for more than two weeks.

8. We call for maintaining a high alert situation given what can happen due to the permanent violation of human rights that prevails in this region and we ask that you declare solidarity with those who suffer for the struggle for their rights.

Blood of Martyrs, Seeds of Liberation!
We demand the return of our exiles!
In Aguan, We Resist and We Will Win!
We demand the safe return of our National Coordinator, Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales!

From the Popular Network of Aguan, the Network that Informs the World.

Honduras teachers on hunger strike

Suspended Teachers extend their voluntary fast and declare an indefinate hunger strike
by Red Morazanica de Informacion
Source:, 09 May 2011

Various teachers suspended from their jobs for one, two and six months began a voluntary fast for 24 hours on May 4 and have now declared themselves to be on an indefinate hunger strike and in a state of calamity.

The educators who began the fast on Wednesday (May 4) outside of the National Congress were evicted at midnight by the police and had to continue their protest in the Plaza La Merced; they have stated their willingness to maintain this method of pressure until the regime of Lobo Sosa returns to the negotiating table where negotiations were initiated last April and have remained suspended without any answer from the head of the regime.

Educators from the Province of Francisco Morazan and from Comayagua have joined the protest initiated by educators from the Province of Colon and it is expected that teachers from the rest of the country will join in the coming days.

Through an emergency decree, the regime put into effect the suspension of 305 teachers out of the total who participated last March and April in the peaceful protests demand[ing] back pay, the cessation of privatization of education, payment of the debt that the State owes to the National Institute of Teachers' Benefits (Instituto Nacional de Previsión del Magisterio) and respect for the Teachers Statute (the law governing teachers' salaries and benefits- translators' note).

8 Margarita Belen killers convicted in Argentina

8 Argentine officers convicted for dictatorship-era crimes
Source: CNN, 17 May 2011.

An Argentine court convicted and sentenced eight former army officers to life in prison for human rights violations during the country's so-called Dirty War. One officer was acquitted.

The case involved some of the most infamous abuses of the 1976-1983 dictatorship. It is known as the "Margarita Belen" case, named after the town where the abuses took place. The ruling came down Monday.

The officers were convicted of aggravated murder of 11 victims, and with their illegal detention and forced disappearances.

Up to 30,000 students, labor leaders, intellectuals and leftists who ran afoul of the dictatorship because of their political views disappeared or were held in secret jails and torture centers during the nation's eight-year Dirty War.
The convicted officers were Athos Gustavo Renes, Horacio Losito, Aldo Martínez Segon, Jorge Daniel Carnero Sabol, Ricardo Guillermo Reyes, German Emilio Riquelme, Ernesto Jorge Simoni and Luis Alberto Patetta. Alfredo Luis Chas was found not guilty.

The massacre of Margarita Belen, as it is known, happened on December 13, 1976. According to historians, a group of prisoners, mostly belonging to the urban guerrilla group known as the Montoneros, were gathered together and executed while being transported to another prison. According to those accounts, authorities claimed falsely that their convoy came under attack.

Argentina Arrests Pilots Believed to be Responsible for 1977 “Death Flights”
Source: Latin America News Dispatch, 12 May 2011.

Three former pilots for the Argentine Coast Guard were brought before Federal Judge Sergio Torres on Tuesday to face charges for their involvement in death flights that killed hundreds of political prisoners during Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

Enrique José De Saint Georges, Mario Daniel Arru and Alejandro Domingo D’Agostino are accused of flying the military planes from which political dissidents and social activists were thrown alive into the sea, including a flight that carried two French nuns and the founder of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo to their deaths in December 1977. The men are suspected of participating in 20 such flights. Until they were suspended last month, both Saint Georges and Arru worked as pilots for Aerolíneas Argentinas.

Torres also ordered the detention of former Navy official Ricardo Rubén Ormello and lawyer Gonzalo Dalmacio Torres de Toloza for their connections to the death flights and to the clandestine detention center at the Navy Mechanics School in Buenos Aires (ESMA), a notorious torture site where thousands of political opponents of the military regime were disappeared.

The three pilots were ordered detained in April by judge Eduardo Taiano, who said the men flew a Skyvan plane out of Jorge Newberry Airport on December 14, 1977 after picking up a dozen political prisoners from ESMA for “transfer”, the military’s euphemism for execution. The plane returned to Buenos Aires three hours and ten minutes later.

On December 20, 1977, bodies washed up on the beaches of Buenos Aires province and were buried in unmarked graves by the authorities in the town of General Lavalle without further investigation. It wasn’t until 2005 that the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team discovered and identified the remains of those killed.

Azucena Villaflor, a founding member of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, María Ponce de Bianco, Esther Ballestrina de Careaga, Angela Aguad and Sister Léonie Duquet were all discovered in the mass grave in General Lavalle. Sister Alice Domon was never found. The women, who had published the names of disappeared Argentines in the newspaper, were among twelve people captured between December 8 and 10, 1977, when Navy officer Alfredo Astiz infiltrated the group at the Church of Santa Cruz after the women took him under their wing, unaware of his true identity. The women were detained and tortured at ESMA before they were killed.

Astiz, 59, may face a life sentence for the murders and was tried in absentia by the French government for the deaths of Duquet and Domon. The nuns were last seen in a staged photograph taken at ESMA on December 14, 1977, posing in front of a flag for the Montoneros, a leftist guerrilla group.

According to the judicial unit coordinating human rights investigations on behalf of the Argentine Attorney General, 2758 death flights occurred in Argentina between 1976 and 1978. Human rights groups say that some 30,000 people were disappeared during the country’s dictatorship.

On April 30, the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo commemorated the 34th anniversary of the rights group’s first march in front of the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires in 1977, where Villaflor’s remains are now buried.

US blocks Argentina dictatorship files

Rights activists dismayed by US congress’ vote against revealing Argentine dictatorship files
by Associated Press, Source: Washington Post May 13 2011.

An effort to declassify U.S. documents on Argentina’s dictatorship failed Friday in the U.S. Congress, disappointing rights activists in the Argentine capital who believe the secret files could help them identify young people stolen as babies by the military junta.

The amendment by Rep. Maurice Hinchey, a Democrat from New York, was rejected by a vote of 214-194. It would have compelled U.S. intelligence agencies to declassify their files on the 1976-1983 dictatorship, which was closely monitored by U.S. security and intelligence forces.

A similar amendment by Hinchey in 1999 resulted in the Chile declassification project under President Bill Clinton, which led to the publication of more than 24,000 documents that helped prosecute crimes against humanity committed during the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Most of the U.S. files on Argentina still remain secret, and some of those voting against the measure said it’s best they stay that way. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican from Alabama, said declassifying them would distract U.S. spies from the fight against al-Qaida.

But Alan Iud, an attorney representing the rights group known as Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, said, “I can’t understand how a country can proclaim itself a defender of human rights while its congress puts obstacles in the way of a grandmother reuniting with her grandchild.”

The rights group has helped 104 people, now adults between 30-35 years old, recover their identities after being stolen at birth from detainees who were later killed. They’re still searching for 400 others who may have been born in clandestine torture centers and adopted illegally. Two former dictators are on trial in the baby thefts. All together, as many as 30,000 people were killed or disappeared, activists say.

“For the Grandmothers, it’s very important to be able to access this information that can help find the grandchildren,” Iud said. Hinchey called it a missed opportunity.

“The United States can play a vital role in lifting the veil of secrecy that has shrouded the terrible human rights abuses of the despotic military regime that ruled Argentina,” he said in a statement. “Our intelligence community may hold the key to helping unlock some of the mysteries behind the identities of hundreds of Argentine citizens who were separated from their biological families as a result of the atrocities.”

This is not the first time Hinchey has sought to make public the U.S. intelligence agencies’ role in and knowledge of human rights abuses in Latin America. His Argentina amendment won House approval three times before, only to fail in the Senate.

The Chile files revealed that the United States government had been deeply involved in the destabilization of Chile’s government and economy for nearly two decades.

Response to Financial Times article ‘Cuba Libre?’

by Helen Yaffe, 08 May 2011.

Here is my unprinted response to the whole-page article about recent developments in Cuba which appeared in the Financial Times, 25 April 2011:

With typical journalistic hyperbole you claim that changes to the employment structure in Cuba amount to ‘a structural adjustment so harsh it would make even advocates of the “shock therapy” meted out in the former Soviet bloc wince’ (John Rathbone and Marc Frank, ‘Cuba Libre?’ 25 April 2011). You are mistaken.

Cuba’s workforce is 5.2 million. The one million workers identified as ‘surplus’ or unproductive will not be abandoned as prescribed by neoliberal ‘shock therapy’, but given the option to take up employment in agriculture (state, cooperative or private), construction or industry, join cooperatives or enter self-employment. State institutions must provide these alternatives. Their sluggishness in doing so prompted Cuban trade unions to demand (and achieve) a delay in restructuring.

Prior to the changes, 15.4% of Cubans worked in the non-state sector, most in agricultural cooperatives whose production features in the central plan. Just 140,000 Cubans or 2.7% of the total workforce were self-employed. Add the 200,000 new licenses issued since October 2010 and still less than 7% of Cubans will be self-employed, all in non strategic or marginal occupations, from pet-grooming to trades.

Cuba’s ‘bloated’ payrolls are the legacy of the crisis following the collapse of the Soviet bloc which exacerbated the US blockade. The loss of 80% of trade and investments saw GDP plummet 35%. It was politically and socially important for the government to maintain employment, even as production contracted and infrastructure ground-down. The correlation between salaries and productivity was lost. Then-President Fidel Castro began introducing measures to redress this in 2005, the year that Cuban GNP recovered its pre-crisis levels. He set Cuba on the path to achieving ‘the dream of everyone being able to live on their salary or on their adequate pension’ (Fidel, 17 November 2005), echoing Marx’s vision that under socialism ‘the individual producer receives back from society – after deductions have been made – exactly what he gives to it.’

Fidel revealed the long-term plan of eliminating the ration book, undermining the parasitic layer in Cuban society, those who can work but won’t and announced that state subsidies would be reduced, while medical provision, education and so on would remain free and universal. Measures announced by Raul Castro consolidate that process. It is erroneous to assert that Raul has a ‘desire to assert his differences from Fidel’.

The introduction to the reform document approved by the Cuban Communist Party Congress, which you describe as introducing a ‘more market-orientated system’ states that ‘planning will be supreme, not the market.’ Following public debates about the proposed reforms in the three months prior to the Congress modifications were made most of the proposals.

Behind the current measures is a long-run improvement in the Cuban economy, coupled with the short-term balance of payment crisis since 2007/8, resulting from world food and fuel price rises, three devastating hurricanes and the fall in Cuba’s export earnings.

In the former USSR, once the profit motive becoming the determinant of production and distribution, state welfare disintegrated. In ten years, life expectancy fell by 15 years. Conversely, during Cuba’s crisis in the 1990s the proportion of GDP spent on social programs increased by 34%. The number of doctors increased 76% and day-care centres for older people by 107%; worth considering as we brace ourselves for the dismantling of welfare provision in Britain. Cuba resisted the neoliberal option during a far more severe crisis in the 1990s. It will continue to resist ‘shock therapy’ today.