– End U.S. overt and covert wars, drone wars, sanction/embargo wars, and death squad assassination wars.
— Close of all U.S. bases on foreign soil. Dismantle all nuclear weapons.
— Bring all U.S. troops home now. Self-determination not military intervention. U.S. hands off the Middle East, Africa, Asia and
Latin America. End military aid to apartheid Israel. Self-determination for Palestine. The U.S. cannot be the cop of the world.
– $Trillions for human needs… for jobs and social services, quality debt-free education and single payer health care. No to anti-
union legislation. For $15 and a Union Now.
– Defend the environment against life-threatening fossil fuel-induced global warming. For a just transition to a 100 percent
clean, sustainable energy system at union wages for all displaced workers.
— No to white supremacy, police brutality/murder. End racist mass incarceration. Black Lives Matter
— No human being is illegal. No to mass deportations. Yes to DACA and TPS (Temporary Protective Status)
The U.S. government and its leading Pentagon generals openly and repeatedly threatened nuclear war or massive military intervention against sovereign nations. Such is the case today with North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. Simultaneously, U.S. military forces are at war in several nations including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. Hundreds of U.S. military bases circle the globe in more than 170 foreign countries at the cost of $trillions while these same $trillions are subtracted from critical social programs at home. $Trillions in tax cuts and corporate bailouts are granted to the super rich while the war at home takes on virulent racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, Islamophobic and homophobic forms.
LATIN AMERICAN CONSENSUS: Perspectives for a political program of agreements of the Left, the popular parties and movements of Latin America & the Caribbean – Sâo Paulo Forum Working Group – Managua, Nicaragua 10 January 2017
Fidel Castro, example of unity and internationalism
Among the incomparable examples left by Fidel as his legacy to the revolutionaries of Latin America & the Caribbean, two stand out as having been decisive in the struggles of our peoples, our parties and movements. They are: unity, and reasoned internationalism.
“The duty of the oppressed and exploited nations to fight for their freedom; the duty of every people to act in solidarity with all the oppressed, colonized, exploited and wounded peoples, regardless of where they are in the world and the geographical distance that separates them…………Being internationalist is a way of paying our debt to
humanity”. (Fidel Castro).
This Sâo Paulo Forum Working Group dedicates the results of its modest efforts to the example and revolutionary integrity of Comandante Fidel Castro.
- Aims of this document (foreword)
- The values and principles that unite us
- The reality we want to change (diagnosis)
- Strategic guidelines. What is to be done?
- The political instrument for change
- Conclusions and recommendations
Aims of this document (foreword):
This document is the result of work based on a set of ideas and concepts designed to contribute to developing progressive and revolutionary processes in the various regions and countries of Latin America & the Caribbean. It is now a collective document, adopted by parties and organizations of the subcontinent. The name refers to unity, both as regards declarations and a program and its associated political practice.
Over 500 years have passed since the start of the European invasion, at Abya Yala, an event which Latin America’s popular movements proclaim as being the beginning of still unfinished indigenous, black and popular resistance. The fight against the conquistadores, the indigenous uprisings of the 18th century, the rebellions of African slaves, the Haitian revolution – the first heroic anti-colonial and anti-slavery campaign to triumph in these lands – and the struggles that produced Latin American independence, are a precious historical legacy which feeds our present battles for emancipation. In his turn, over 200 years ago, in his well-known Letter from Jamaica, Simón Bolívar defined the seminal moment in which, with the new independent republics, a new world was being born, destined to become a great nation.
“The veil has been torn aside: now we have seen the light and they want to send us back to the darkness; the chains have been broken; we have become free; and our enemies are trying to enslave us again”, he wrote, and added with visionary certainty: “Without doubt, what we lack to complete the work of our regeneration is union”, thus completing his description of the triumph of Latin American and Caribbean popular hegemony over its own destiny.
Our Latin American and Caribbean societies have been reshaped and diversified. Our way of organizing ourselves and seeing the world have also been transformed, enhanced by the experience of popular power and of access to extensive social benefits, which have enabled the progressive transformation of our region’s socioeconomic and political realities – a situation reflected in changed perceptions of political and economic efforts and the visions of power.
In its need for survival, capitalism has resorted to predatory behavior in relation to society and nature, placing at risk the progress in the quality of social relations achieved by contemporary society, and especially the advances as regards democracy and the guaranteeing of human rights, engineered by the continent’s progressive governments. Mankind is languishing under the onslaughts of a financially-speculative capitalism in crisis. At the same time, this reflects the worsening of the effects it produces within our societies. These are to do with a sense of neoliberal accumulation under practices that take place in two settings: go for firms of the national states and appropriate the public budgets in order to socialize the losses of the private companies; accordingly, this should be cause for encouragement of our struggles against the system.
Financial capital, the “bankocracy” cited by Karl Marx, performs its role as speculator; it is the tool of neoliberalism which breaks the rules of liberal capitalism; it is the voraciousness of a ruthless model derived from the spirit of capitalism’s epicenter: accumulation. In this corrupting phase of the capital accumulation process which neoliberal imperialism seeks to impose on us, we see this as the moment to build the Latin American Consensus. This Latin American Consensus does not accept the notion of an end to the progressive cycle or that it is the moment for regretting the reverses suffered on the political or electoral plane. It is the moment for constructive self-criticism and for learning from our good decisions and from our mistakes. At every level, we are continuing to struggle for power within all the institutions and to harness it to serve the alternative project, improving the coordination between forces in all the forms of power existing in society.
Taking account of the specific conditions in each country, the entire continent should share and intensify the events manifesting our struggle. We of the progressive and left-wing political parties are keeping up the fight against the system. In this struggle, we are advancing shoulder to shoulder with the social movements of every kind. Despite temporary setbacks and the aggressiveness of today’s capitalism, our fight for power is undeterred. We perceive a shift in the balance of forces in the region, and see the present as a time of political and social deceleration and de-accumulation – the result of an imperial counteroffensive, our own mistakes and a capitalism that shows intensification of certain trends possibly indicating a change in the capitalist cycle within its current phase. In any event, this is not a time for lamenting past political or electoral setbacks; our proposal consequently also reflects our own accumulation, political and social, which creates a joining of forces in favor of the popular democratic camp, to keep up the struggle against unbridled capitalism and towards a socialist horizon. To that end, we need to redefine the role of the individual and society, and the production relations prevailing in today’s world.
This political program is a horizon that encompasses the political concepts, values and perspectives appropriate to the left-wing and progressivism, with the aim of steering the changes in Latin America & the Caribbean. In this context, we should view Latin America & the Caribbean not as an isolated entity, but as an integral part of a worldwide socioeconomic production system with a tendency to multi-
polarity, in the throes of an organic structural crisis of overproduction of goods derived from the development of the forces of production, and that if distributed on the basis of changed relations of production with social justice, these would enable society to prosper.
This political program has the primary aim of promoting unity among the political and social forces and organizations that subscribe to it. In this way, it seeks a broad appeal, based on a wide-ranging approach, free of sectarianism and other attitudes threatening to fragment us. This program must respect and contain ideological diversity, within the limits implied by the shared values enumerated below, and constitutes – by definition – a strategic proposal. The program consequently embraces the ideal of the transformation of our societies, beyond the singularities and specific characteristics of each country and the ideological differences between the political and social organizations involved. Given the scope of its aims, its mobilizing role will be paramount, as regards not only the Sao Paolo Forum forces and organizations but also all the political movements that can and should contribute to this struggle.
With this program, we are aiming to surmount an exploitative system in crisis, responsible for underdevelopment, inequality, destruction of Mother Earth, the alienation and permanent loss of the sovereignty of our peoples. We believe that a better world is possible, that it is already progressing in the freeing of our peoples from imperialist and capitalist domination. Our horizon is a society which seeks to close the ever-widening gap between rich and poor and overcome the inequalities associated with gender, ethnic group and age.
We are witnessing a time of changes in the relations of forces, highlighting the prospects of the Left in Latin America & the Caribbean. Based on our successes and failures, teachings and lessons, we believe we have learned enough to be able to vindicate our struggle and our plans. We are ready to confront and, with resolution and unity, rise above this state of things. It is what our peoples expect of us, and we must channel our efforts, corrections and plans to that end. This political manifesto is based on a priceless historical heritage that spans from the very dawn of the pre-Columbian civilizations to the emancipating struggles against European colonialism and the fighting traditions of our native peoples, of country folk, of laborers, of intellectuals and workers in general. It is intermixed with concepts such as that of “living right”, the humanist, revolutionary, Marxist and progressive currents which emerged in Europe and the authentically Latin American and Caribbean manifestations, not to mention the inheritance of those who were at the forefront in our battle with European colonization: Hatuey, Tekun Uman, Diriangen, Guaicaipuro, Cuauhtémoc, Rumiñahui, Túpac Amaru, Diriangen, Bartolina Sisa, Atahualpa, Túpac Katari and Lautaro; and the thinking of our liberators: Louverture, Bolívar, Manuelita Saenz, Sucre, San Martin, Artigas, Javiera Carrera, Policarpa Salavarriera, Hidalgo, Morazán, Alfaro and Martí in the 19th century; and of Sandino, Farabundo Martí, Mariátegui, Flora Tristán, Zapata, Villa, Cárdenas, Camilo Torres, Manuel Marulanda, Albizu, Allende, Torrijos, Seregni, Manley, Hándal, Kirchner and Chávez in the 20th and 21st centuries. We bring the best teachings and reflections left to us by the revolutions of the 20th century and the collapse of Eastern European “real socialism” and by the kinds of organization offering resistance to dictatorships, fascism, imperialism and the emergence of new popular and unitary structures, fruit of the process of accumulation of forces. In turn, we benefit from the ethical and internationalist legacy of Che Guevara, and from the example of resistance and ideological and humanist stance of the Cuban Revolution, especially the seminal thinking of Fidel Castro. Its complete implementation requires political tools, characterized by discipline, rigor in their application and readiness to cooperate with other organizations with similar aims.
This manifesto is not a specific plan for any particular country or political force. The reality we are seeking to change varies widely from country to country, and also within these, and even among the political and social organizations called on to participate. Nonetheless, it reflects a view of Latin America as a whole, with a common path and destiny. Its validity resides in being a document of reference democratically approved within the Sao Paolo Forum, the regional political body most representative of the revolutionary, progressive and democratic organizations of Latin America & the Caribbean.
In the words of the champion of Cuba’s independence, José Martí: “Our enemy is working to a plan: to unsettle us, scatter us, divide us, stifle us. So we work to a plan of our own: to show the best of ourselves, stand shoulder to shoulder, bind to one another, evade him, and finally make our homeland free. Plan against plan”.
The values and principles that unite us. The countries and peoples that form Latin America & the Caribbean have similarities and differences, but we see ourselves as a community and as a large homeland. The similarities, especially, are the product of socioeconomic and political structures derived from a common history, which in each era have suffered and are still suffering subjugation by the hegemonic powers of the times, be they the European colonists or the American imperialists. The values defended by the Left are our points of reference, and can be summarized as follows:
1- Equality, fairness and social justice. Our aim is that this should exist to the greatest possible extent among our countries, peoples and individuals, under the principle of fairness. Economic and social policy should be designed to ensure a fair distribution of wealth. From each according to his means. The object of economic and social decision-making is mankind: human beings in the most all-embracing and collective sense. The large majority, especially those historically discriminated against, should be the primary object of these policies.
2 – The common good should be our priority and consequently defense of the common assets. Sustainable use of natural resources and care of the environment should be our commitment, as the premise for safeguarding the survival of Mother Earth, the totality formed by the human race and nature. In this context, we emphatically reject the commercialization of such resources.
3 – Democracy and the struggle for freedom. We are at a stage of resistance, fighting also within our own forces (self-criticism). That is why the struggle to regain continuity and progress by the left-wing forces and governments and the progressivist initiatives implies a commitment to democracy, which should of necessity reinforce its popular, direct, participative and community character, and also the building of a Latin American national identity as a mechanism for creating hegemony and people’s and political power. We reject arbitrariness in politics and authoritarian decision-making,
4 – The unity of our forces and organizations and the inseparable relation with our peoples are of paramount importance to the development and dissemination of this Latin American Consensus. Thus it is possible to bring about change despite not being in government, if we are able to discern when people are ready to carry the struggle forward, through the social organizations, and dispute the economy and production with the bourgeoisie, such that these are aligned with organizational structures that ensure fair distribution of wealth.
5 – Ethics, integrity, modesty and being an individual and collective example are values of the left-wing organizations, reflecting the need for mobilizing these in pursuit of our goals. These elements form a substantial part of our ethical principles, since they contribute to ensuring the necessary climate of society’s trust in us and in the work we are defending.
6 – Transparent exercise of government and administration, of public and collective assets, while social control of these must reflect a genuinely left-wing approach. A relentless assault on corruption, as an inherent feature of the system we need to change; this is essential and forms part of our integrity and the ethics in our processes to take measures against the corrupt and show the tools for combating corruption.
7 – Rejection of any manifestation of fascism, racism, xenophobia, discrimination of any origin or nature, and other expressions of exclusion for social, religious, racial, gender or sexual-preference related reasons, should be part of the agenda of the Left.
8 – Solidarity, with other individuals and nations, complementarity between man and nature, is the basis of the humanist vocation of our positions in every sphere.
9 – Full exercise of the right to peace is a prerequisite for enjoyment of all the other human rights and should be a priority for the Left. We reject all forms of terrorism, assassination of social or political leaders, and the arms race, by virtue of the ethical character of our struggle, of our belief in peace, in respect for national sovereignty, for freedom, for human dignity and the guarantees of a decent life.
10 – The right of every country to choose the political and social system democratically determined by its peoples, should be respected. We reject any kind of intervention that breaches the sovereignty of our peoples. As a fundamental premise, we consider that there can be no national sovereignty without comprehensive Latin American sovereignty, implying the requirement for complete institutionalization of the integration mechanisms, such as CELAC, UNASUR, ALBA, Petrocaribe etc.
11 – Pro-Latin American and internationalist sentiment is intimately related to our desire for integration as a major regional bloc, able to preserve everything formally achieved in the last 200 years or more, in an emancipating, liberating, non-subordinated sense. Accordingly, we regard the development of the Community of Latin American & Caribbean States (CELAC) as a strategic aim, and that its proclamation of Latin America & the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, approved at the 2nd summit in Havana in 2014, provides the political and legal framework for uniting us in all our diversity, and defending ourselves.
12 – Patriotism and internationalism should be intrinsic to the Left. One cannot be left-wing and not feel the utmost outrage at any injustice committed against any human being, anywhere in the world, as we were taught by Che Guevara.
13 – Our struggle seeks new ways of living, abjures violence of all kinds, ethnic and social discrimination and especially the daily abuse of women and children.
The reality we want to change (diagnosis)
Imperialism and the oligarchies constitute our primary adversaries and the main factor in our basic problems; they are a growing threat to the foundations of civilization and to survival of the human race. Our region is suffering the effects of a wide-ranging imperialist offensive against progressive governments, designed to undermine the morale of our forces and recover lost ground. They seek to turn back the clock to the worst stages in the implementation of the neoliberal model, with its sequel of impoverishment, subjugation to the large transnationals which reinforce monopoly power and erode sovereignty in their efforts to subjugate our peoples and impose on us the most retrograde and conservative values in the political and ideological landscape We find similarities in our main structural problems, be they of a socioeconomic or political character, beyond certain situations.
The evolution of the progressive and revolutionary processes during the last 15 years has not been sterile. In any case, the present situation can be characterized as open confrontation between the progressive popular forces and the pro-imperialist right wing, as suffering occasional political setbacks but at the same time generalizing the popular movement’s resistance struggles.
The Right has identified the strong and weak points in our proposals, and takes advantage of the systemic crises by venting them on our peoples. The adversary has sought to characterize this moment in history as the end of our processes. And that is totally false. Our commitment addresses new collective lessons and the prospect of reconquering the processes of transformation. In other words, we must make progress in the development and dissemination of our processes of political and social change, to achieve new victories. To this end, our progressive and left-wing movements, organizations and parties should recreate our methods, theories and practices so as to underpin the development of this Latin American Consensus. In this respect, there is a basic need for mass generation of leaders and leaderships able to listen and learn from the experience and wisdom of our peoples.
From the economic point of view, there are no longer any doubts that globalization, which in the economic sphere has been of a neoliberal character and predominantly financial, represents a new chapter in the history of capitalism, distinguished from the initial, basically commercial capitalism which lasted until the 19th century, and the capitalism of a largely industrialist character which occupied almost the whole of the 20th century.
The imperialist model whereby the global economy evolved and continues to evolve is erected basically on a great financial fiction, which in the form of a bubble has spawned the issue of credit and money supply in the most diverse and complex ways, creating a highly fragile system in which the cracks began to appear between 2007 and 2012. All the signs are that its steady demise will continue. There is breakdown of agreements within the societies, including those regarding work and social security. This rupture in the world of work is causing massive unemployment, insecurity among the citizenry and is destroying the social security systems. The end of the welfare state in the industrialized world is a central aspect of the policies pursued in the wake of the crisis in 2008 and also among those governments associated with a right-wing recovery in Latin America. The progressive, left-wing administrations have effectively restored the human rights that neoliberalism has destroyed:
1 – The capitalist system and its history of conquest, colonialism and neocolonialism is the cause of the underdevelopment that characterizes our economies, our societies and the social awareness of individuals. Reproduction of secular backwardness and dependence on power centers outside the region constitute the main obstacle to the achievement of full independence and to progress among our nations.
2 – The subordinate way in which we have participated in globalization poses serious obstacles to modernizing and expanding the industrial and other elements of our production system, increasingly making us mere exporters of raw materials with scant or no value added.
3 – In effect, financial speculation, as the hallmark of the world economy, has a cyclical impact on the prices of those exports, causing spells of ephemeral prosperity, reflecting the existing structural limitations. We should therefore affirm our resistance to the attempts to control international financial capital, typified as the modern expression of a world-wide tyranny, ubiquitous and deregulated.
4 – The reluctance of successive Latin American governments to invest in scientific development, coupled with the obstacles and restrictions applying to access to industrial credit, unfair control of intellectual property by the transnationals and the brain drain and other factors, have hampered the ability to progress independently, contributing to the present degrees of dependence. The contradiction between wide-ranging commercial projects undertaken by major capital, mainly in agroindustry, and self-sufficiency and food sovereignty, can only be resolved when our actions make progress in meeting the need to close the gaps between town and country, between social classes, in equality of rights, based on social distribution. In this context, we should recognize the economic and social imbalances among our countries, in some of which there are national oligarchic groups bigger than the transnationals. Given the above, there is a need for an educational model aimed at accelerated technological innovation.
5 – The dominance of the large transnationals, which impact our economies with little or no state control, which are party to the predation on our societies and the environment – to cite only two of the evils that urgently require remedies – causing the destruction of the labor force and of nature.
6 – The scourge of foreign debt, an eternal burden, far from having been resolved, continues to erode our economies, operating as one of the main tools of imperialist domination. This involves extreme forms of speculation and legalized financial blackmail, such as the workings of the “vulture funds”
7 – The imposition of the FTAs (free-trade agreements) which encumber government purchases, patent rights, intellectual property and jurisdiction over disputes foreign to the parties, while perpetuating relations on unequal terms, tend to intensify subordination, imply loss of sovereignty and make no real contribution to trade, economic or social development, as claimed by their imperialist promoters. A new era of mega-TLCs, such as the Transpacific Partnership for economic cooperation (TPP) or the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), or that negotiated by the US with Europe, are blatant examples of the sort of treatment we can expect.
8 – Capitalism, in its neoliberal phase, is in the throes of a crisis of its own making as another means of accumulation and concentration of capital, while its dynamics result not only in expansion through financialization and transnationalization, but also damage in the form of de-industrialization of national production bases, denationalization of state enterprises, outsourcing of strategic economic sectors, privatization of the land and appropriation of the income generated – mainly in the mining and energy sector.
9 – The political and social bloc seeking change should have a popular, democratic national development plan for direct foreign investment constrained by a state legislative framework designed to ensure that key development areas are prioritized, and that it does not become a mechanism for domination and irrational exploitation of the natural world. The struggle for the surplus is key, enabling the setting up of co-participation and incorporation of various layers in our struggle, and thereby integration of further participants; dealing with issues such as ecology becomes essential. The emphasis in these considerations is on unity, dialectics in the processes and the popular struggle.
10 – Our region, from the Rio Bravo to Patagonia, including the insular Caribbean, is a part of the world blessed with substantial mining-energy and water resources, extensive biodiversity and intellectual and human development, with every potential for becoming an area of sustainable prosperity for its inhabitants, and able to contribute to the well-being of other peoples of the world. We regard natural resources as common assets, use values – not exchange values – which belong to the people, while their administration is a matter for the state. They are not privatized and are managed so as to preserve the balance between society and Mother Earth, seeking harmony and restoration of the diversity of life systems.
11 – The existence and coexistence of various types of plural economy (state, community, cooperative social and private) is recognized, under a planning regime in which the state controls the strategic sectors and organizes their interrelation, with a view to raising the quality of life of the population, food security, redistribution of wealth and Latin American & Caribbean economic integration. Nevertheless, we should respect all the forms of ownership, democratizing the factors of production, defending in a spirit of solidarity the small and medium-sized industrialists and producers, fostering and disseminating the types of state ownership and association which confer greater freedom of production and association.
12 – We recognize the successes of these 20-plus years of work by the Left organized at the Sao Palo Forum, and almost 20 years since the victory of President Hugo Chávez. There are gains from the colossal economic and social battle waged, although we have not yet been able to change the capitalist production relations. We must change the script written by the Right unbridled capitalism and imperialism, rewrite our inclusive manifesto and develop our proposals for building hegemony, establishing new structures for accumulation enabling comprehension and empowerment of the achievements of our governments, in order to meet the needs of the peoples.
We reaffirm our support for what has been done and propose to build cooperation, consolidating our forces for change, the working class, farmworkers, small producers, the self-employed, self-management projects, individuals organized in cooperatives, addressing the new problems that arise and ensuring organization and action by area or locality, such that these units can move up the value chain, recouping the gains that the system deprives them of through the market. From the social point of view:
1 – Our region is still the world’s most unequal place, despite the notable social progress achieved in recent years by the progressive and left-wing governments.
2 – The concentration of wealth associated with the above is the main reason for the persistence of poverty and social marginalization, phenomena impossible to overcome without a new basis for the distribution of wealth that recognizes the work contributed – very different from the redistribution processes we have seen so far, based on the market. A radical review of the existing taxation and financial systems is essential.
3 – Poverty has a lasting impact on the quality of life of our citizens, both male and female, even in the middle or rich segments, to the extent that the exploitation of capital affects us all via the market, the intensification of insecurity, trade and trafficking in persons, organized grime and trafficking in narcotics, among other problems. At the same time, we should see these conditions as incentives for progressing political and social change, reforming the state and designing a new economic framework that favors the interests of the large excluded majorities.
4 – Health as a basic human right, is far from showing encouraging indicators. It is unaccountable that despite the notable advances in the development of medical sciences, we are still seeing high rates of infant and maternal mortality and of deaths from preventable diseases. The hospital and general medical infrastructure remains inadequate.
5 – The education situation is also worrying. Millions of Latin Americans and people of the Caribbean are still in an age-old condition of backwardness, reflected in hundreds of thousands of illiterates and semi-literates. Education in general remains poor, as does the quality of instruction in the schools and universities. A shortage of teachers at both secondary and primary levels, and their low salaries and poor preparation, are factors in this problematic situation.
6 – Access to decent employment, providing wages that are fair and based on skill level, without discrimination on grounds of gender, race or origins, is still a right whose full enjoyment is denied to millions of women and men in our region, who have access only to informal employment, jobs on precarious terms and poorly-paid, in which their basic rights as workers are not respected.
7 – As an aside, we should reflect on the serious downgrading implied in the neoliberal concept of work, the material and subjective effects generated at the grassroots level in today’s production relations, also implying new kinds of exploitation of human beings, entirely regardless of whether those exploited are adults, young people or children. We must establish, at the heart of our societies, discussion of the impact of the new technologies on the world of work. The replacement of manpower caused by robotization and the applications of the new information and communication technologies (ICTs), and how we are to retrain these excluded workers for new areas, and analyze the impact on social security, including retirement pensions and similar benefits.
8 – Social security has been severely affected by the neoliberal policies. The insurance companies and pension funds, mostly privatized, remain a mechanism for extortion from the workers and for financing the bourgeoisies and economic groups that control activity. This causes insecurity and hopelessness among hundreds of millions of people who are consequently not guaranteed a decent life in the future.
9 – Access to resources and technology capable of mitigating the repercussions of climate change remains restricted and with strings attached for our countries. The centuries-long indiscriminate use of fossil fuels by the capitalist industrial model has led to the phenomenon of global warming, an escalating threat to life on the planet. This situation is aggravated by the pollution of the atmosphere, seas, bodies of water and “úselos” resulting from lack of planning in the rational use of natural resources; the predatory practices of the transnationals, especially those in the mining and petrochemical sectors; the destruction of woodlands, and runaway desertification. This highly irresponsible and destructive confrontation with Mother Earth by major economic interests is leading to impoverishment and insecurity among numerous countries and peoples, reaching an extreme whereby climate change threatens to cause the partial or complete disappearance of Caribbean insular states and territories. From the political point of view:
1 – Latin America & the Caribbean is marked by the colonial domination of various peoples by a number of European powers and by the United States. Colonialism represents a shameful historical anachronism which has been repeatedly condemned by the international community. Contributing to the final, total elimination of colonial domination in Latin America is one of the great challenges and responsibilities of the Latin American & Caribbean Left.
2 – The current political and electoral systems, established in the wake of the wars of independence, bear the stamp of liberal bourgeois democracy and with the passage of time have become tainted by authoritarian practices, that of obtaining votes in return for government posts etc., and other types of habitual fraud undermining the interests of the voters.
3 – The powers that be have demonstrated the ability to control the legal and electoral system. Any scheme for purported separation of powers generally conceals concentration of political power in the hands of elites elected by no-one. The reactionary offensive does not stop at trying to derail progressive and left-wing policies: it threatens the entire Left in any country; it is a plan to eliminate any emancipating alternative that opposes imperialist domination.
4 – The politics crisis, and the merger and transnationalization of the media concerns has led to consolidation by the mass media of their role as a source and wing of power. The results include the imposition on the peoples of a homogenization of information and cultural expression. The traditional transnational media and the new media players that emerged from the revolution in information and telecommunications technologies, promote imperialist interests by simplifying the language, trivializing the political message and imposing a pensée unique. At the same time, these mechanisms are being used as a means of denunciation and resistance which we should support and disseminate with technological independence and sovereignty.
5 – Culture is a battlefield, of resistance to invasion and manipulation by imperialism and the local oligarchies. This occurs not only in the arena of the mass media, but also in the form of the “global entertainment industry”, carrier of a colonizing message that discounts our history, aimed at domesticating awareness and against any critical or emancipating thinking. At the same time, the global market in art and literature has established itself as the judge and jury in matters of dissemination. The aim of this cultural war against our peoples is to underpin imperial hegemony.
6 – Imperialism and the local oligarchies have undertaken an offensive directed from Washington targeting the countries with left-wing administrations. It is applied via a route that seeks changes of government in short order, or undermines them by forcing them back to the polls. These policies underline the concept that the main enemy of the Left and of our peoples is imperialism.
7 – Transnational organized crime, including femicides, which have increased in several countries in the region, associated with the trafficking networks and the drug consumption markets, traffic in migrants and illegal trade in persons for the purposes of exploitation as workers or of sexual exploitation, with the arms trade, with contraband, with financial crimes and terrorist acts, has become a tool of blackmail and political domination at the service of the global hegemonic powers. Its devastating effects on social cohesion and its promotion of a new scale of anti-values threaten the fragmentation and virtual collapse of the national states, under the premise that reducing them to chaos will facilitate the plans of subjugation and national and regional plundering of our wealth
8 – The efforts in our region towards integration are at risk of failure if we cannot create a majority social awareness in its favor. Undertaking this task, sharing the ideal of unity in diversity, is a priority task of the progressive and left-wing political and social forces.
Strategic guidelines. What is to be done?
The transformations needed to change and develop Latin America & the Caribbean and contribute to the ideal of a better world go beyond any national program; the requirement is for development of a common set of general aims and principles on which the changes should be founded. Those aims and principles should be adopted jointly, by all of us who are committed to such change, with recognition of national differences but in an integrationist and internationalist spirit. On the economic plane:
1 – In this context, the emphasis should be on liberating – not subordinated – integration, with a view to the economic and social development of Latin America, obtaining the greatest possible degree of coordination among the countries. Promotion of international enterprises and associations could be a good starting point, by enabling deployment of economic strengths such as the available natural resources, and technological and scientific development of the workforce in each zone, country or group of nations. An essential step will be to draw up an infrastructure plan to improve connectivity, communications, transport and supply, and also setting out in detail the industrial, trade and financial proposals between our countries and developing countries elsewhere in the world.
2 – A comprehensive economic and social integration process, addressing not just the markets, is key to guaranteeing our sovereignty, seen in a patriotic light, and also as a prerequisite for our insertion into a globalized world, preserving the capacity for decision-making on our future.
3 – We should develop an internal regional market favoring the sustainability of the economic model we plan to adopt and as an alternative to the instability of the external market. This does not imply isolating ourselves from the world, but creating links based on a better position in terms of economics, social development and preservation of our independence.
4 – We need autonomous financial systems, also as part of the integration process. We should establish a Latin American & Caribbean development bank and introduce a common currency – instruments potentially contributing to such independence. Initiatives such as the Bank of the South, the Banco de ALBA and the existence of SUCRE are practical experiments for consideration, without affecting national plans for development banks.
5 – There is a need to work towards consensus economic planning at regional levels, enabling the countries of Latin America & the Caribbean to act as an independent bloc in dealings with the rest of the world’s economic actors. The aim should be full employment, which is basic to development of society. The political parties and popular and left-wing movements should support this call to their governments, on a permanent
6. Any development plan must seek to replace the policies that favor mono-culture and exclusive export of raw materials and basic products. Other priorities include modernizing strategic sectors in industry, renewable energy sources or those that ensure food and technological sovereignty, among others. This will necessitate maximum deployment of science and its practical application to economic processes.
7 – The repercussions of neoliberalism create an imperative need to generate productive, prosperous, sustainable economies, with equitable distribution of wealth. In this context, it is especially important to restore agrarian reform to the political agenda. The new society to which we aspire cannot be built on poverty, incompetence and inequality.
8 – Regional integration should include the building of a new trade, economic and financial architecture, using our own institutions and financial resources, thereby capable of financing development projects, industrial coordination and ensuring the region’s economic and financial stability. To that end, we must revive the strategy for industrialization, reindustrialization and agro-industrialization, replacing imports, to counter the effects of de-nationalization and de-industrialization caused by the dominance of the neoliberal model in our countries.
9 – A post-capitalist economy should adopt as a principle the search for quality, by applying plans that ensure high levels of productivity, efficiency and effectiveness in the production processes. Redesign of taxation policies should bring progress in the redistribution of wealth. Fiscal reforms and the role of direct taxation on production and consumption should have an effect in the reduction of purchase taxes as a basic priority, based on their impact on the basic shopping basket and on the adverse effects they produce for wide sectors of society; policies should be developed for replacing purchase taxes with progressive taxes on income and wealth.
10 – The state should play the basic role of directing and regulating economic activity; consequently it should ensure fair distribution of wealth and implement plans for economic and social development that enjoy popular support and are consistent with the Latin America & the Caribbean regional integration program. The state should have enterprises that are productive, efficient and healthy, especially in strategic sectors such as energy, finance and telecommunications. The profits generated by these should be used to stimulate the economic and social development of our countries on a self-financing basis.
11 – Our progressive and left-wing governments have demonstrated the possibility of initiating a process of gradually transferring to civil society certain management functions hitherto reserved exclusively to itself by the state. The aim is to strengthen the role of the people’s power, to reinforce and empower the social fabric, and promote active participation in the form of co-management and self-management, while accepting the importance of leaving the function of allocating resources in the hands of the state.
12 – This does not exclude the role of the private sectors, either national or foreign, but in all cases under the guidance of a national development plan aimed at strengthening the internal market, at value-added exporting, aligned with a regional integration process and compliant with the labor, environmental and other areas of legislation. A long-term development strategy should prioritize structural transformation and technological change compatible with macroeconomic balance and focused on the goals of human development, equality and environmental sustainability. This strategy implies giving the state a central role in setting objectives and in determining systems of incentives and the building of ideologies and values; its role will consequently not be to replace the various social actors, but to secure wide-ranging consensus and lead the process of institutional construction, based on the development of a dense network of institutions and diverse forms of organization of civil society.
13 – There is an imperative and urgent need to formulate and resource a new economic and social model, whose central aim is “zero poverty”. On the social plane
1 – The fair distribution of wealth is a hallmark of a left-wing program. Fiscal policies should be designed and applied under the principle that there can be no genuine development without the greatest possible social inclusion, equality of opportunity and access by all citizens of both sexes to the socially-produced goods and services, according to the contribution of each.
2 – The education and health services must be accessible by every citizen, designed under principles reflecting humanism and solidarity.
3- Education should be a public policy, compulsory, free, secular and scientific; and it should extend from the beginnings of infancy to the higher level, passing through the basic and middle-higher levels. A higher level of public investment in early-infancy education is needed. Girls, boys and young people should be the priority beneficiaries of the development and progress achieved by progressive and left-wing administrations.
4- The most recent discoveries in the field of nutritional research and the neurosciences indicate the urgent need to provide a diet for children marked by extremely high levels of proteins and neuronutrients, essential to growth and development in this formative stage of the brain, and also early education from pre-conception, the prenatal stage and early infancy, in a setting rich in stimuli; this will ensure our children enjoy comprehensive growth, with the aim of enhancing the development and the societies and countries of Latin America.
5- The progressive and left-wing movements, organizations and parties, as well as the governments, should commit to higher levels of public investment in science and technology.
6 – In applying its public policies, the state should be constantly concerned to eradicate the neoliberal scourges of poverty, indigence, drug addition, social alienation, and neglect of the disabled, elderly, children and the other most vulnerable sectors, women, people of African descent, aboriginal peoples, the LGBTI community and others historically victims of discrimination, among other evils.
7 – The state must guarantee respect for the social interests of all its citizens, both male and female, giving greater weight to those decisions that favor the large majorities.
8 – Dialectic balance between the need for development and the rights of nature is an aspiration which must be realized. We are heirs of centuries-old processes that ignored this approach, and we must now commit ourselves to adopting it. Our development must be sustainable, as distinct from the fabrications of “green capitalism” and the developmentalist vision of society.
9 – The economic and social precariousness prevalent in numerous countries of Latin America & the Caribbean has obliged millions of people to emigrate to other countries in our region or to America. These migration flows turn the migrants into second-class citizens or victims of transnational crime. Even the left-wing governments have not been able to change the socioeconomic, political and security conditions which stimulate these flows; these governments need to adopt safe migration policies that guarantee in law and in reality full enjoyment of the human rights of their citizens of both sexes.
10 – The existence of organized crime is a threat to every democratic state. The head-on fight against the traffic in narcotics and organized crime requires comprehensive policies that include punitive state action, while recognizing the social dimension of these phenomena and seeking to apply salutary measures in resolving the problems. Special policies are needed, for instance, to remedy the poverty and marginalization in the precarious urban concentrations where these evils flourish.
On the political and ideological plane:
1 – In our perception of the winning of power, we must look beyond the recovery of its symbolic trappings – the presidency and government of a country – and develop strategies for its devolution it to the various levels – borough, province, state, nation – emphasize the role of parliaments, public debate, and ways of protecting and promoting the success of public enterprises and the forms of collective management and ownership. Similarly, we must prevent the use of judicial power in ways that serve the interests of the Right. We need to democratize and subordinate the military command structures and forces of law and order to the political power freely instituted by the will of the people and to serve national interests. These bodies are the guarantors of the processes of Latin America’s liberation, sovereignty and independence.
2 – We must work every day to strengthen and defend our conquests, understand that our adversaries will hinder or sabotage them, learn that the oligarchies always act in concert at local and regional level and in close alliance with imperialism and its local representatives. This includes the adoption of (partial or total) constitutional reforms wherever possible, which enable the institutional obstacles created by the system introduced under the predominance of the bourgeoisie to be overcome.
3 – In this context, there is a need to confront the mechanisms used by imperialism to undermine, destabilize or replace the legitimately elected governments, involving the use of all the means at their disposal, including military and parliamentary coups d’état, judicialization of politics, and ultimately through subordination of judicial power to its interventionist policies.
4 – A left-wing government which lacks absolute respect for the human condition and human and social rights is unthinkable. In this respect, the role of the state in guaranteeing the enjoyment of human rights – which are universal, indivisible and interdependent – is irreplaceable.
5 – Building and consolidation of the people’s power in the economic and political spheres is fundamental. As a prerequisite for implementing the program and the strategic aims of necessary structural changes that enable grassroots democratization of institutionalism, aligned in all cases with the particular conditions in each country or region.
6 – It is equally necessary that the organization, structure and working of the parties of the Left – both those in government and those in opposition – each adapted to its own reality, respect the autonomous agenda of the people’s power, its open and participative character. The People’s Power as a programmatic national expression of the totality of local and social dual powers, is the foundation of a new kind of political and ideological relations between the governing and the governed, in all sections of society. It is a concrete expression of hegemony at a given time. The People’s Power is the fount of legitimacy. As a people organized in permanent self-construction and formation it is also a guarantee of proper performance and operation of the progressive and left-wing governments, and the antidote to “soft coups” and other means of destabilization.
7 – We also need to modify the rhetoric and the political language, based on new codes, which include an appropriate class- and gender-related approach, which maintains honesty, direct and reliable communication with people, able to listen and reflect their worries and interests, which contributes to the development of independent thinking, committed to revolutionary change.
8 – We need radical changes in matters of communication. This inevitably implies confronting the processes of information concentration, the media and culture. There is a need for far-reaching reforms that democratize access to information and respect diversity of opinion, culture and history, that are at the service of our peoples. While the presence of the traditional mass media is being extended, we should increase the involvement of the new media, in particular the internet-based social networks, where our technological disadvantages are apparent.
9 – We must progress the development, strengthening, dissemination and enhancement of our peoples’ cultural wealth, thereby equipping us for an all-out cultural battle against the alienating values of capitalism; we must work to establish a front of intellectually-mobilizing thinking of the kind that has been excluded by the hegemonic power and is able to generate content of a truly decolonializing character, endowing people with solid cultural references in a world increasingly overrun by consumerism and banality.
10 – The continuous building and maintaining of social consensus and trust in the left-wing agenda are key to the sustainability of our plans. Consensus is built through permanent dialogue with society and the peoples, ensuring the prevalence of accords over differences, with a clear intention of uniting in order to grow and progress, on the basis that the struggle for truth and justice must be permanent and can never be abandoned.
11 -The Left’s foreign policy should be founded on the universally recognized values of international law enshrined in the UN charter, and should be expressed in solidarity, the desire for peace, and coexistence and cooperation between nations. It should include a profound anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist commitment, which vindicates the peoples’ right to independence, sovereignty and self-determination.
12 – We hold onto the dream of Latin American nationhood, unique and indissoluble, in accordance with the ideals of our ancestors. Our plan should propose models for promoting and stimulating a regional integration that is not subordinating but liberating. This is why we strongly advocate promotion of the integration processes under way in our region, through UNASUR, MERCOSUR, SICA, CARICOM, ALBA-TCP and other mechanisms. In these circumstances, the Community of Latin American & Caribbean States (CELAC) occupies a position of particular significance, constituting the most important and far-reaching of all the integration initiatives undertaken. It is imperative that we demand that our progressive and left-wing governments progress the integration process, derived from a plan adopted by all the popular and left-wing parties and movements. There is consequently an urgent need to draw up a plan for integration of the Latin American nation.
13 – We advocate a stronger role for gatherings such as the Sao Paolo Forum and other platforms for debate, among both the political forces and the popular social organizations, and for building alternative ways of combating the advances of imperialism. The political instrument for change We must equip ourselves with the political instruments needed to implement this program. The bases for organizing these will differ from country to country and place to place, based on accumulated experience, the history of struggle and the concrete reality of the location. This does not imply the existence of a single organization, should this prove impossible, but rather to apply predetermined principles in seeking the best forms of association for effective, comprehensive use of our knowledge and our experience of struggle.
Despite diversity, a set of valid principles can be adduced for creating political organizations able to meet the challenges that face us, lead the processes of change and achieve the aims embodied in these proposals.
1 – Collective building of a political program is needed. History has shown that any proposal outside the formally-agreed political program ends up as some individual’s pet project with limited prospects.
2 – No political force can survive without a permanent unitary policy. Division, sectarianism and the cult of personality, among other diversions, contribute to exacerbating [sic] the interests of our adversaries.
3 – The vitality of a political force resides primarily in the form and content of its basic structures, depositories of the democratic vocation of that organization and guarantee of permanent interrelation with the people. In this context, it is vitally important to promote, develop and reinforce the grassroots interchange between left-wing governments, popular parties and movements in the economic and social as well as political arenas.
4 – To the extent permitted by the possibilities and concrete reality, we need local and national administrations dedicated full time to this important task.
5 – The ability to summon and mobilize should find the way to generate propaganda and use the networks and other mass media to persuade with direct and customized messages. Neither should be mechanically supplanted by the other.
6 – A political force that fails to develop permanent relations with popular organizations or social movements has little chance of implementing a political manifesto of this nature. A true popular, left-wing force should have specific policies towards such social sectors as the workers, small and medium-sized enterprises, young people, students, women, excluded minorities. It should also have specific policies addressing all the state’s institutional sectors.
7 – The social and popular movements have a wealth of experience in struggles and resistance against the predatory patriarchal capitalist model, and imperialism’s hegemonic policy. Their organizational structures vary widely, are plural and general reflect their sectoral origins and character as vehicles of protest. However, they do constitute legitimate expressions of popular demand for radical social change. The essence of the indispensable relations of tactical and strategic coordination between the political organizations and the social movements resides in the necessity for these to be based on an open relationship that preserves identities and autonomy.
8 – Unity of action is needed, coupled with trust, to enable our adversaries’ manipulation of legitimate social demands to be detected and neutralized. The political practices of favors for votes and welfarism must be replaced by joint responsibility. The organized peoples possess the strength to undertake transformation, embed the process of change and ensure its success.
9 – We reiterate that popular mobilization is capable of winning and maintaining power for the people. We are convinced that there is a dialectical relation according to which, to the extent that our policies fully reflected the great aspirations of the masses, we will receive greater and lasting support by these. In this context, the left-wing governments should have policies for all the people and for every class and social sector. In this respect, it is especially important to develop policies addressing all the state institutions, so as to orient their working to defend a sovereign national and regionally integrated agenda. Only an organized and aware people can be the originator of a new history, a history of freedom, equality, fraternity, justice, democracy and happiness.
10 – A political force needs at its heart a permanent debate, but when resolutions have been passed, it must undertake to implement them to the full.
11 – The political training of leaders, with special reference to youth, is essential to the most effective working and a guarantee for the future, including that of cultural development. The political leader is the backbone of any of our left-wing organizations. He or she should feel the constant need to progress in every way, have a sense of the historical moment, clarity of mind and analysis, and the ability to work in tandem with all the other representatives of the Left. His or her training, and that of his/her deputies and alternates, coupled with their mutual defense and integration, is an ineluctable responsibility. And this training should include the ability to develop and direct social and production processes.
12 – A permanent political and ideological educational effort addressing the population should be maintained. This assumes greater importance when in government. The link with the people cannot be lost. The political and electoral setbacks we suffered should enable us to learn from our mistakes, and then renew the debate, basically with the young people, who are part of a generation that has theoretical and practical knowledge based on having experienced the development stage of our governments, but should take into account the historical background to our initiatives for change.
13- The great challenge for any political instrument is to secure, by political and ideological work and persuasion by its leaders and militants, the participation of the entire people in the tasks involved in making the changes to society aimed at ensuring economic and social wellbeing. Add and multiply. Never divide or take away. A basic element of this challenge is the need for greater knowledge and skill in communicating the ideas underlying our plan and program, and especially in integrating them into our peoples’ daily practice.
14 – One of our priorities is to learn how those to whom our message is addressed – especially the younger generation – see life and their objective and subjective needs. Active and militant participation by the new generations in the struggle for better societies is an urgent need. Youth is already in the vanguard in several scenarios and we must recognize the importance of their participation as one of the primary historical subjects; we must consequently fight to prevent the enemy from de-politicizing or neutralizing or taking control of this large sector of society.
15 – An effective electoral strategy is required, to enable access to the present era’s various entities of government. It should include proactive, ambitious approaches and avoid short-termism, voluntarism and the discouraging effects of the beguiling postmodernist debate. Our strategies for fighting elections, building the People’s Power and exercising government should include both the rational and emotional elements.
16 – Our need for efficiency in the electoral arena requires that we prioritize territorial presence, precisely where the electors are; however, reality has shown that in the places we govern, it is wise to establish basic structures in strategic locations, such as large companies, universities and other places where politics is a daily phenomenon. Experience has shown us that in the places we govern or establish people’s power, there is a need to organize permanent basic structures, for example in the large companies, the universities, areas of customary concentration and other places where politics is a daily phenomenon.
17 – The changes in certain Latin American societies have generated new needs among the citizens who benefit from economic development, and are paving the way for building collective identities with a new vision of well-being and of life. Today’s social subjects rely on a far-reaching alliance between various sectors of society which come together in the search for a new social paradigm. They aspire to a change in the qualities of the individual in his or her collective life, as well as struggling for material well-being. They are constructed, transforming simultaneously reality and themselves. Conclusions and recommendations We, the continent’s progressive and left-wing political parties and social organizations and movements are called upon to achieve and consolidate unity in diversity. Putting our shared views above our cultural, regional, ethnic, religious and other differences must be the banner under which we prevail, over the destabilizing and interventionist attempts of the empire The popular and left-wing parties and movements have the responsibility of reinforcing our political organization at regional level, equipping it to take on the task of steering and leading revolutionary Latin America, the true builder of the Great Homeland and a post-capitalist society free of exploitation and injustice Experience of social revolutions, of popular parties and movements which have reached government on our continent, constitute a body of lessons that merit in-depth analysis. We recommend that the Sao Paolo Forum should contribute to the systemizing and socializing of the experience in building people’s power and social economy in Latin America.
In our turn, the political organizations and social movements should promote the creation of our own political, social and economic indicators, above and beyond those proposed by the international organizations. An immediate task is to convert this document into an instrument of debate and political action, circulating it and submitting it for elaboration by our political bases and the social movements. With the guide, the teachings and example handed down, we have a single option: Fight and grow. Fight and win. Fight till victory. Always!
EQUIPO DE SERVICIOS DE TRADUCTORES E INTÉRPRETES
The Barbados born Jackie Opel – one of the most important architects of Jamaica’s Ska beat; creator of Barbados’ Spouge beat; and arguably the Caribbean’s greatest musical innovator – died on the 9th of March 1970, some 44 years ago. And in those 44 years, the governments and musical establishments of both Jamaica and Barbados have shamed themselves by failing to acknowledge Opel’s seminal contributions and to confer upon him the honour, acclaim and respect that he so richly deserves!
A typical example of this shameful neglect can be seen in ex-Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga’s recent publication on the history of Jamaican music – “Reggae’s Golden Jubilee: The origins of Jamaican Popular Music”. Mr. Seaga’s essay was published in 2012 to coincide with the celebration of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of Independence, and constitutes the core historical text that accompanies a four compact disc aural retrospective of fifty years of musical development in Jamaica.
One will search Mr. Seaga’s fifty page text from top to bottom and not find a single reference to the great Jackie Opel– the Barbadian multi-dimensional singer, dancer, composer, musician, arranger and musical inventor who was brought to Jamaica by the late Byron Lee at the beginning of the 1960’s! And what makes Mr. Seaga’s omission all the more glaring and inexcusable is that Seaga– as owner of the WIRL recording company in 1960’s Jamaica– was one of a handful of record producers who recorded the late Jackie Opel back in the 1960’s. (The others were Leslie Kong, Coxsone Dodd and Justin Yap.)
But Jackie Opel has not been treated any better in his own homeland of Barbados! Back in December 2013 I took it upon myself to write to the General Manager of the government of Barbados’ radio and television company– the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)– pointing out Barbados’ shameful neglect of Jackie Opel, and requesting that CBC make a special effort during the month of March 2014 (the month of Jackie Opel’s tragic death in a car accident) to share Jackie’s story and his awesome musical legacy with the people of Barbados. Needless-to-say, I did not even receive a letter of acknowledgement, much less a positive response.
And of course, it is not only me who has publicly complained about Barbados’ neglect of their greatest musical son! Such doyens of the Barbadian entertainment industry as Richard Stoute, Mark Williams and Al Gilkes have long denounced the shabby treatment of the ‘poor boy’ from the inner city “ghetto” of Chapman Lane who bestowed upon Barbados the inestimable gift of a national musical genre known as “Spouge”.
In my letter to the General manger of the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation , I tried to explain Jackie Opel’s historical significance to him as follows:-
“I recently met Bunny Wailer – the last surviving member of the Bob Marley / Peter Tosh / Bunny Wailer trio – and I asked him about Jackie Opel. His response was to gush that Jackie Opel was the greatest ofthem all; that the Wailers provided backing vocals for many of Jackie’s recordings; and that the only act that dared to take the stage after a Jackie Opel performance in Jamaica was the Wailers. The legendary Bunny Wailer was paying respect to an artist that he considered to be greater than himself, and yet, in Jackie’s own homeland he is relatively unknown and under-appreciated.
Jackie’s significance and genius can be seen from the following:-
(1) He was the lead singer of the legendary Jamaican band known as “The Skatalites” — the band that was primarily responsible for developing the Ska beat– the music that went on to spawn reggae.
(2) Jackie was the composer of many of the songs of the Skatalites . And, along with Roland Alphonso, was the band’s musical arranger.
(3) Jackie is reputed to have composed more than 700 songs in the genres of Ska, Rhythm & Blues, Soul, Gospel, Calypso and Spouge, in spite of his early death at the age of 32 years.
(4) He was voted “Entertainer of the year” in Jamaica on several occasions.
(5) Jackie was one of the few persons in history to develop a new genre of music — Spouge.
Jackie Opel died on the 8th of March 1970 , and has never been given his rightful place in the annals of Barbadian history.”
Perhaps the reason I did not get a response to my letter is that what I was saying sounded so fantastical that CBC’s General Manager didn’t quite believe me! But trust me- it is not only me (or Bunny Wailer) who testify to Jackie Opel’s greatness! Listen, for example, to the testimony of legendary Jamaican artist, Desmond Dekker, as recorded in “The Encyclopedia of Reggae”:-
“ According to vocalist Desmond Dekker, Opel “just come and dominate the scene”…Dekker also commented that this occurred to such an extent that other singers on Kong’s Beverly’s Record label, including Bob Marley, sought different producers…”
The international music Journalist, Greg Burgess, also tries to convey a sense of Jackie Opel’s unique multi-faceted brilliance in his essay “The Jackie Opel Story” as follows :-
“Alton Ellis says to see Jackie Opel was a life affirming event – he was a performer in the style of young Jackie Wilson…Opel would spin and fall to the ground in a crescendo of legs drooping and flailing arms, a small man in stature but a big man in heart and personality…his talent was such that he could turn up at a studio and write songs on demand, seemingly with little preparation…he could also sing anything, in any key and with perfect timing”
But the best way to get a sense of the genius of Jackie Opel is to actually listen to his classic compositions and performances across a range of no less than seven different genres of music – Calypso, Gospel, Rhythm &Blues, Ska, Rock Steady, Soul and Spouge. Listen, for example, to such classic Ska recordings as Old Rocking Chair, My Sweet Lover and Say Say Business. Listen to Jackie’s searing soul renditions of Cry Me A River, Shelter The Storm, Wipe These Tears and Forever And Ever, and to such magnificent Rhythm and Blues compositions as Eternal Love, Don’t let Me Die, Every Word I Say Is True, and One More Chance.
And then of course there is Spouge — the totally new beat that Jackie invented and launched just prior to his untimely death in 1970. Jackie’s Spouge runs the gamut from the slow and groovy Welcome You Back Home to the hard- driving You’re No Good and You Got to Pay. It is just such a pity that Jackie was not around to nurture and guide the development of the new Barbadian beat in the years after its launch at the commencement of the 1970’s.
No objective analyst can doubt the genius and historical significance of Jackie Opel! And so, the question must arise – “Why has he been written out of the history of Jamaican music”? Greg Burgess thinks he has found an answer to the question, and expresses it as follows:-
“The subsequent years have not been kind to the memory of this great, great singer…he is only a footnote in the history of Jamaican music. Maybe his Barbadian origins are held against him…”
If Mr. Burgess is correct, this is indeed a great shame, for Jackie Opel is a member of an historic trio of great Barbadians who lived in and served Jamaica, and who identified with Jamaica as much as they identified with their own Barbadian homeland. The other two are the great cricketer, Sir Frank Worrell, and the great poet/historian/educator/culture scholar, Kamau Brathwaite.
But if that is Jamaica’s excuse for neglecting and marginalizing the great Jackie Opel, what can Barbados’ possibly be?
Clement Payne Movement of Barbados
Marvel and Walt Disney’s blockbuster “The Black Panther” has already raked in $922 million globally and is soon expected to blow past the billon mark. So far the film ranks as the ninth-biggest domestic moneymaker of all time.
With a dazzling, predominantly black cast; a compelling futuristic vision of a mythical African country untouched by colonial predation; a kickass regiment of bald female warriors; gorgeous men shrink-wrapped into panther suits; and a brilliant female scientist carrying the torch for the character Q of the James Bond series, there’s a lot to enjoy in Marvel’s high-adrenaline adventure. (The Black Panther character first appeared in Marvel Comics in July 1966.)
There’s a plot point, however, that is leaving some moviegoers a bit puzzled. In the film, agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) is a white CIA operative (spoiler!) whose selfless heroics help the Wakandans save their kingdom. However given the intelligence agency’s checkered history, especially in Africa, the CIA’s star billing and heroic turn in a celebration of black empowerment feels a touch off-key.
The CIA’s star billing and heroic turn in a celebration of black empowerment feels a touch off-key.
The character of Ross debuted in a 1998 Black Panther comic as a bumbling State Department attorney. Christopher Priest, one of the comic’s most influential writers,has stated that Ross, based on the Chandler Bing character from the TV program “Friends,” was enlisted to help bring in white audiences — the primary readers of Marvel comics. Not until the character made the leap to film in “Captain America, Civil War” (2016), was Ross reinvented as a skillful CIA operative.
The agency, as Tricia Jenkins explains in her 2016 book “The CIA in Hollywood,” has a long history of partnering with Tinsel Town, dating back to the 1950s. During the Cold War, movies helped win over foreign audiences, shape U.S. foreign policy and promote a rosy view of American life. The agency would often push for script adjustments, to make the United States look less racially divided.
Before the 1990s, CIA agents in film and on TV were either bad guys (“Three Days of the Condor”) or comical screw-ups (“Get Smart”). That was partly the result of stunning revelations from the Church Committee, a 1975-6 Senate panel chaired by Idaho Sen. Frank Church that investigated abuses by U.S. intelligence agencies. The committee revealed that, among other things, the CIA and FBI had been spying on and harassing American civil rights leaders and anti-war protesters. In response, some Democrats, like Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, went so far as to call for the abolition of the CIA. Congress demanded greater transparency and oversight of its spying operations.
By the end of the Cold War, the agency needed an image makeover. So it hired Chase Brandon, a veteran secret operative, to help it get cozy with filmmakers, actors and producers. CIA agents in the movies soon became heroes working for a highly moral organization desperately needed in the world.
The 1990s saw the birth of the Tom Clancy film franchise, with Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck portraying intrepid CIA agent Jack Ryan. Since 9/11, the CIA has worked directly on programs like “24” and “Homeland.” Jennifer Garner, who played agent Sydney Bristow in the TV show “Alias,” even did a CIA recruitment commercial. The moviemakers behind “Zero Dark Thirty,” a film about hunting down Osama bin Laden, worked closely with the agency.
Indeed since 9/11, as author Nicholas Schou laid out in his article, “How the CIA Hoodwinked Hollywood,” the agency has been working overtime with moviemakers to bolster its image. Langley regularly grants special access and favors to movie people at its headquarters — access often denied to journalists.
So while it’s not so surprising that a CIA agent is a hero on the screen, what does it mean in this particular movie?
“The Black Panther” tells the tale of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the new king of Wakanda, an independent country that possesses the most potent mineral on Earth. T’Challa is confronted by Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordon), a black revolutionary whose violent creed puts not only Wakanda, but the whole world at risk. T’Challa and his people must team up with Agent Ross to save the day.
Since 9/11, the agency has been working overtime with moviemakers to bolster its image. Langley regularly grants special access and favors to movie people at its headquarters.
The CIA’s long history of involvement in the affairs of African nations presents a contrasting backdrop, however. Take what happened in the Congo in the early 1960s, when independence was stirring on the African continent, a region long battered and looted by colonialists and profiteers.
Patrice Lumumba, a young intellectual and Pan-African nationalist, was elected the first prime minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1960. He was determined to make the mineral-rich country an African success. But Lumumba got on the wrong side of Washington by being friendlier to the Soviets than was thought acceptable to U.S. interests. Declassified documents reveal that the CIA engaged in covert actions in the country, including plans to replace Lumumba with a more pro-Western leader. The agency even allegedly cooked up a scheme to poison his toothpaste. Then in 1961, Lumumba was captured by a secessionist group and brutally murdered.
In 2002, the former colonial power Belgium admitted involvement in the killing. But there has never been a full explanation of the U.S. role.
The CIA is also widely believed to have meddled heavily in the governments of Chad and Angola. The 1962 arrest of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela was claimed by ex-CIA agent Donald Rickard to have come as a result of a CIA tip-off. At the time, Mandela was considered a communist enemy of the U.S. and a dangerous revolutionary. He spent 27 years behind bars before his release and election as South Africa’s first black president.
Writing for “Esquire,” Steven Thrasher asks, “Does the film ask its audience to root for the wrong character?”
Not surprisingly, the fact that a black revolutionary leader in “The Black Panther” is the bad guy, while the CIA agent is a good guy, rubs some black audiences the wrong way. Writing for “Esquire,” Steven Thrasher asks, “Does the film ask its audience to root for the wrong character?”
“Killmonger wants to use Wakanda’s weapons to stop the suffering of black people globally, and we, the audience, are manipulated into rooting against this because we live in an ideology in which nonviolence is always expected of black people no matter what,” Thrasher writes. “I could not bring myself to root against Killmonger’s desire to help the black diaspora any more than I could begrudge him wanting to take the throne of… the child of the man who’d killed his father.”
Thrasher also quotes author James Baldwin, who believed white people wanted to think of black people as nonviolent because “white men do not want their lives, their self-image, or their property threatened.”
It should be noted that the CIA tried to influence the writing of many authors and artists, including Baldwin, through the Congress for Cultural Freedom. This organization, founded by intellectuals in 1950, was later revealed to be secretly sponsored by the agency.
If there’s a new stage in the rapprochement between Hollywood, American liberals, and the national security state, Agent Ross’s leap from an inept comic book character to an adroit film persona may capture it.
Thrasher is critical of how Killmonger is morally contrasted with Ross aka “your friendly neighborhood CIA agent,” noting that the agent prevents “Killmonger’s crew from exporting weapons from Wakanda to help black people.” Ross, Thrasher argues, is therefore used tovalidate and excuse U.S. imperialism, “granting cover to how the CIA (in our Wakanda-less world) has been arming African countries and playing them against each other for decades.”
There’s also a Twitter hashtag, #TeamKillmonger, that expresses the views of filmgoers like Thrasher, who are more sympathetic to the anti-hero than the dull-by-comparison heir to Wakanda.
The movie also seems to track with a political realignment in regards to U.S. intelligence. Since the Ronald Reagan era, Republicans have typically viewed the CIA as the movie treats agent Ross: the ultimate good guy. By contrast, many Democrats have often been far more skeptical.
In the Trump era, however, these positions have been essentially reversed. Conflicts between the president and the national security apparatus appear to have encouraged many Democrats’ friendlier stance toward to the agency.
If there’s a new stage in the rapprochement between Hollywood, American liberals, and the national security state, Agent Ross’s leap from an inept comic book character to an adroit film persona may capture it. “The Black Panther” takes moviegoers for a ride — but perhaps not quite as liberating as it promises.
Lynn Stuart Parramore is a cultural theorist who studies the intersection between culture and economics. Her work has appeared at Reuters, Quartz, Lapham’s Quarterly, Salon, VICE, Huffington Post and others.
Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples
In the park that bears the name of the Generalísimo Máximo Gómez, in the city of Baní and with a large presence of local residents, students of the schools, authorities of the Peravia province and the Campaign of Solidarity with Cuba, was commemorated the historic date of February 24, beginning of the Necessary War in Cuba.
The Cuban Ambassador in the Dominican Republic, Carlos de la Nuez, read a congratulatory letter sent by the President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), Fernando González Llort, to the Máximo Gómez Foundation, which coincidentally arrived at its 3 years of creation.
The Foundation culminated a week of tributes which included the presentation of the book “The Insomnia of a Machete: Máximo Gómez and the Cuban Lyric” of the Cuban writers Lorenzo Suárez and Irma Rodríguez, talks and conversations.
The President of the Foundation, Yvan Peña, presented in a tight summary the recount of the tasks and events developed by the institution during its short existence.
He highlighted the rehabilitation of the house-museum of Montecristi in 2015, the construction in 2016 of the replica of the hut of the Generalissimo´s birthplace in Baní, the publication of the cartoon La Primera Carga al Machete and the Diario de Campaña by Máximo Gómez in 2017 and the activities of the present year.
On the occasion, the schools that last November, in the 181 Anniversary of the Birthday of Máximo Gómez, made reading days of the “Campaign Diary” in the schools and other institutions of the city were recognized.
Finally, a plaque was unveiled in which the names of people and institutions that collaborated in the construction of the replica of the Generalissimo’s hut on November 18, 2016, on the 180th Anniversary of his birth and a picture with the names of the participants in its construction appear. (Always with Cuba)
Young Cubans vote for Cuba in social networks
The support of the Cuban youth for the general elections was evidenced in the Vote for Cuba tweet, organized by the Young Communists League (UJC) and the University Student Federation (Feu) from different parts of the country. From the tent mounted in the parking lot of the Coppelia ice cream parlor, in the central street 23 of Vedado, the young people sent messages through social networks about the national reality and the Cuban election process. The purpose of the tweet is to reach millions of Internet users in the world so that they know the truth of what is happening in Cuba.
More than 17 thousand students will collaborate in upcoming elections
More than 17,000 students of secondary and higher education will participate as collaborators in the general elections of March 11 in Cuba, Gil Ramón González, member of the National Electoral Commission (CEN) said. He explained that on that day, which will vote to elect delegates to the Provincial Assemblies, and deputies to the National Assembly, will be involved more than seven thousand university students and about 10 thousand young people from high school.
80 percent of prosecutors in Cuba are women
In Cuba, eight out of every 10 prosecutors are women, as well as 75 percent of the directors of the Office of the General Attorney of the Republic, according to a meeting between representatives of that institution and the Cuban Women Federation (FMC). In the national headquarters of the FMC its general secretary, Teresa Amarelle Boué, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba, said that with this initiative the campaign for the International Women’s Day began, which is celebrated every 8th of March.
Open to the public the National Capitol of Cuba
The main facilities of the National Capitol were opened since Thursday, after being subjected to a long and complex process of restoration that renovated their original splendor. After climbing the main staircase visitors can appreciate the interior of this palace, the most important in Cuba, and appreciated worldwide.
Tribute to Alberto Alonso in Meeting of Ballet Academies
With an artistic gala dedicated to the late choreographer and dancer of the National Ballet of Cuba, Alberto Alonso, the XXIV International Meeting of Ballet Academies will begin on March 25 at the Sala Avellaneda of the National Theater of Cuba.
The International Day of the Francophonie in Cuba will return
To continue strengthening the cultural alliance between the Island and the countries of the French-speaking community, the Day of Francophonie in Cuba will return with artistic proposals organized in the provinces of Havana, Matanzas and Santiago de Cuba for the entire month of March. The day has been set as goals this year, in addition to the promotion of the French language and cultural and linguistic diversity, the promotion of cooperation at the service of sustainable development and world peace.
Delegates from the XX Habano Festival visited La Corona factory
Participants in the XX Habano Festival appreciated in a visit to the cigar factory La Corona, the process of elaboration entirely by hand of the Cuban Premium cigars of the Romeo and Juliet brands, San Cristóbal de La Habana, and El Rey del Mundo . During the tour, delegates from 70 countries observed the skills and verified the experience of the cigar rollers in the development of the best cigars in the world. Another of the centers selected for the tour was the Partagas factory, which in this twentieth edition of the Festival presents the Maduro line, of which new vitolas are exhibited.
Prevention: vital antidote to prevent liver cancer
At the 2018 Hepatocarcinoma Convention, which concluded in Havana, Cuban specialists and scientists agreed on the importance of early diagnosis in the fight against liver cancer, which is among the 10 leading causes of malignant tumors in the world. This type of cancer is in third place in mortality, and this is mainly due to the diagnosis at a very advanced stage.
ETECSA: Effective technological deployment will guarantee 3G service quality
The process of computerization of Cuban society had a very significant moment in 2017. By 2018, one of the fundamental challenges of the Telecommunications Company of Cuba, ETECSA, already announced, is the exit of the data service for Cubans to have Internet in mobile phones.
(With information from ACN)
TODAY´S NEWS No. 54 Year VIII, Information Service, March 06, 2018 Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples
Washington, Mar 5 (Prensa Latina) The Alianza Martiana coalition, which brings together various organizations of Cuban emigration in the US city of Miami, Florida, called today to protest against the recent decision of the United States on its embassy in Havana.
Three days ago, the State Department announced that the reduction of the personnel of that headquarters will be permanently maintained, despite the calls of several groups to allow the return of diplomats and officials.
Since Monday, an official statement said, comes into force a new personnel plan by which the embassy will continue to operate with the minimum workers necessary to perform basic consular and diplomatic tasks.
The number of people left in the legation will be similar to the level of emergency maintained after the September 29 departure order when Washington withdrew more than half of its officials on the grounds of health incidents reported by them.
In order to reject this decision, the Martian Alliance plans to hold a motorcade on March 10 through important avenues in Miami.
In the call, Andrés Gómez, national coordinator of the Antonio Maceo Brigade, member of that entity, pointed out that the US determination is due to a crazy plan of presidents Donald Trump and his allies of the Cuban-American extreme right.
They want to prevent, he maintained, the entry of Cubans into the United States, and provoke the eventual rupture of relations between the two countries.
They also expelled, for no reason, 17 diplomats from the Cuban Embassy in Washington, which makes difficult the consular procedures essential for us to travel to visit relatives in Cuba, he said. (PL)
History of the Day
International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe.
Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women’s movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.
- 1909 The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.
- 1910 The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women’s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance.
- 1911 As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.
- 1913-1914 International Women’s Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. As part of the peace movement, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists.
- 1917 Against the backdrop of the war, women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for “Bread and Peace” on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.
- 1975 During International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on 8 March.
- 1995 The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments, focused on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisioned a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
- 2014 The 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) – the annual gathering of States to address critical issues related to gender equality and women’s rights — focused on “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”. UN entities and accredited NGOs from around the world took stock of progress and remaining challenges towards meeting the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs have played an important role in galvanizing attention on and resources for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The UN and Gender Equality
The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men. Since then, the UN has helped create a historic legacy of internationally-agreed strategies, standards, programmes and goals to advance the status of women worldwide.
Over the years, the UN and its technical agencies have promoted the participation of women as equal partners with men in achieving sustainable development, peace, security, and full respect for human rights. The empowerment of women continues to be a central feature of the UN’s efforts to address social, economic and political challenges across the globe.
We strongly reject the very serious escalation of aggressions against the democracy and sovereignty of Venezuela by the warmongering government of Donald Trump, the global corporate powers and the military industrial apparatus of United Statesimperialism, which intend to overthrow the legitimate Government of Venezuela, destroy the project of Bolivarian democracy, and seize the resources of the Venezuelan homeland.
In this regard, we welcome the scheduling of presidential, state lawmakers and councilmen elections for May 20th 2018, which is the result of a political agreement with a sector of the Venezuelan opposition. The Venezuelan people will transparently and sovereignly decide the course of the Venezuelan Homeland by these absolutely legitimate and constitutional elections.
We welcome and endorse the Declaration of the Presidential Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA-TCP) that categorically rejects the exclusion of Venezuela from the next Summit of the Americas slated to be held in Lima, Peru. Likewise, we support all the diplomatic and political actions undertaken by governments, countries, and peoples to defend the political plurality and diversity of our continent, and to safeguard the sovereignty and self-determination of our peoples.
We are all Venezuela!
We shall prevail!
Caracas, March 7th, 2018
by Paul Works
Jamaicans did not vote for you to represent your self-interest, and mislead and misrepresent Jamaica. Jamaica is a country with a sense of history. Jamaica stands up for its principles, unlike what you are currently doing.
- You gave our highest honour to the racist Prime Minister of the Dominican Republic who deported 300,000 Haitians because of the color of skin.
- You abstained from voting on Israel declaring Jerusalem as its Capital. Did not you know that Israel has practiced apart-hate racism against Palestine from 1948 up to the present time?
- You betrayed a friendly sovereign country, Venezuela, using Jamaica as a launching pad for the imperialists Tillerson and Trump, who called people of African descent “shitholes”, to verbally attack the democratically elected Bolivarian Revolutionary Government, which has never done anything against the Jamaican people.
- Under your leadership, Jamaica sided with imperialist aggression against Venezuela at the recent OAS meeting in Washington, USA.
I speak for a lot of voiceless people. We are not sleeping. We are wide awake to what you are doing. You should ponder on this quote from Hon. Michael Manley:
“The enslavement of the body which endured till 1938 was nothing to the enslavement of the mind which persisted since………”
Our contributor Paul Works is a trade unionist and peace activist.
Before Putin spoke this morning (Thursday, March 1, 2018), we knew we were living in a world where the U.S. and NATO reserved the right, to be used at their discretion, to deliver a first nuclear strike on any selected foe. President Trump during his election campaign was heard wondering aloud why his country had nuclear weapons if it didn’t use them. When he became president, ignoring the fact that his predecessor had embraced the same first-strike doctrine, some of his fellow citizens and people in other parts of the world began to recoil in fear of nuclear war being unleashed.
Rising tensions were now expressed in and provoked by the West’s war drills which had become almost perpetual and were being practised closer and closer to the territories of Russia, China and North Korea. This latter country, in defiance of the U.N.’s prohibition, continued to improve its nuclear status, thus making the U.S. increasingly angry but with reduced options for reacting militarily, an awkward situation for an “exceptionally great power.”
Faced, on the one hand, with his country’s propensity for having recourse to war, and with his own predisposition to condone his military’s use of nuclear weapons or ones fashioned from depleted uranium, and, on the other, with the abhorrence of nuclear weapons held by much of humanity, President Trump decided to make the use of nuclear weapons more palatable. As part of his Nuclear Posture Review announced this past January, he proposed new entry-level low-yield nuclear weapons—retro-designed to be “nice” mini ones, going back in yield to the days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
That former explosive power would now be possible, redesigned and repackaged, following the same esthetic inspiration as those hand guns that Smith and Wesson produce for lady shooters, or like the piece of chocolate cake Trump proudly fed to Premier Xi while he carried out the bombing of Al Shayrat airbase in Syria.
This earlier scale of destruction of human lives and property would seem “mercifully” lower than that resulting from his vaunted “fire and fury”. The same relatively “humanitarian” line of thinking is perhaps encouraging Trump to appreciate and be inspired by the fact that, by his linking the new bombs to the past (1945), the new ones will seem as if they have been used before and thus be endowed with a comfortable familiarity. If they are used again, say against Venezuela—provided they are kept well away from the rich oil fields and the human victims would appear to be from one of those countries recently described by the leader of the “free world” in the way in which he wants the rest of the imperialist world to see us—a nuclear war using his small new bombs will come to seem no more inconvenient than did hurricane María. The goal of making nuclear war into conventional war will then have been achieved.
“Not so fast,” Vladimir Putin intimated on March 1. The defensive and retaliatory arsenal he showed as ready or nearly ready to respond to any attack by a nuclear weapon has re-magnified Hiroshima, bringing back to people’s ears the “Oh horrors” slowly pronounced by my grandfather in 1945. What is more, the inescapable silo-emptying response would be applied to any nuclear foe not only of Russia but also of its allies. Putin named for the first time, in this military context, only one of these allies: China. In this climactic part of his speech, he displayed unusual passion, as if the torrent of insults against him and Russia and the constant threats and provocations against his allies were becoming too much to bear.
Putin added to his statement about Russia’s new nuclear capabilities that they were also new to the world, for their speed, power, length of engagement and maneuverability, feats that require entirely new materials in their manufacture. These new nuclear capabilities, the Russian leader said, were not intended to frighten his adversaries but to establish a state of nuclear parity. The weaponry will at the same time be tightly defensive and in a position to punish aggressors against Russia and its allies, “regardless of the consequences”. His words seemed to have brought palpable happiness to his large audience. Thanks to the first-rate and dedicated work that is being done by scientists young and old, their achievements are being carried out at the same time as increased social spending in Russia aims to bring marked improvement to such indices as health care and life expectancy in the largest country in the world. It is useful to remember that the Russian military is currently functioning on a budget of $50 billion while that of the U.S. has been demanding $700 billion, perhaps more now.
Some weeks ago Putin warned Trump not to make war on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. How many China-like defensive agreements are there to be revealed? (The Venezuelan government is right now widely publicizing Putin’s speech in Spanish translation.) Are we on the way to permanent peace, beginning with talks on restoring arms control agreements?
These new creations of nuclear defensive weaponry are so difficult to breach, even with a first-strike advantage, that an adversary would think many times before attempting to do so. And the response to an attempt would be so difficult to defend against that the risk of trying would hardly be worthwhile. In summary, the good news from Putin’s speech is that the progress in Russian military science, unmatched by the imperialists, is an enormous contribution to peace.
21st death anniversary
…memorial service held at Anna Regina
The collaboration of 20 editors of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre saw the publishing of a new journal which reflects on the life of late President of Guyana, Cheddi Jagan. Published in observance of the former leader’s 21st death anniversary, the journal called “The Thinker” examines how critical a thinker Jagan was during his time as President of Guyana.
The journal is expected to give expression to progressive thinking, to defend human right to democracy and to hold up the proverbial mirror to happenings of our society. As history is replete with publications, the journal was created to keep the legacy of Jagan alive.
“The Thinker” explored Jagan as an internationalist and showed how his formative years were influenced by his years of living and studying in the United States, his linkages and alliances, his vision and his leadership.
It also covers issues such as the ongoing tragedy unleashed on the sugar workers at Wales, Rose Hall, Enmore and Skeldon.
Dr Frank Anthony, who gave an overview of the journal, noted that some might not agree with some of the articles, however, the journal looks to reveal truth.
President of the Guyana Peace Council (GPC) – which was founded by Jagan – Clement Rohee, in his remarks, noted that the journal is intended to stimulate debate in our country which is currently lacking in Guyana.
“Critical debate, intellectual debate and discussions, a group of us came together with the intent of reviving the spirit of debate and discussions and as such we created the journal to be a tribute for those kinds of discussions in our country,” Rohee said of the ‘journal with a difference’.
Jagan was described as being influenced by many world leaders who made significant contributions such as Charles Baird, an American progressive writer.
Former President Donald Ramotar called Jagan a profound thinker who came up with broad ideas. He reflected on projects undertaken by the late leader, which according to him, showed how he thought; an example being the conceptualisation of the University of Guyana.
“Today, 21 years later, we are still standing on some of the foundations that he left behind us. The University of Guyana, the Guyana School of Agriculture, the Bank of Guyana, the question of expanding the productive sector of the economy… these are some of the things that he did while in Government,” Ramotar reflected.
According to the former President, Jagan was of the custom of building models which he executed himself until he came up “with something that can work”.
Following the launching ceremony and observance, a copy of the journal which is to cost $1500 was handed out to members of the PPP/C.
In the meanwhile, a memorial service was held at the Cheddi Jagan Play Park, Anna Regina, Essequibo Coast. In his tribute to the late President, Regional Chairman Devanand Ramdatt reflected on the life, teachings and struggles of Jagan, who he explained sacrificed his entire life for the poor working class of this country.
At the wreath -laying ceremony, wreaths were laid by the Regional Chairman, Regional Vice Chairman, Mayor of the Town of Anna Regina, representatives of the PPP, the WPO, PYO and other groups.
The Guyana Peace Council (GPC) founded in 1974 by late President, Dr Cheddi Jagan was on Tuesday afternoon re-launched at Red House, High Street, Georgetown.
Elected President of the Council is Member of Parliament Clement Rohee, with the Vice President being Juan Edghill. The Treasurer was named Mark Constantine along with Executive members Bhisram Kuppen, O Satyanard, Bibi Shadick, Andrew Bishop, Mitra Alli, Hydar Ali, Carvil Duncan and Badri Persaud. The Council began operations since August 17, 2016, but was officially re-launched on Wednesday.
Under the theme “In pursuit of peace”, the objective of the Council is to encourage people from around the world to work together to contribute to peace, progress and development.
According to Rohee, there are many issues that divide peace and solidarity around Guyana and around the world, which prompted the re-launch of the Council.
“In our view, our preference is to find a harmonious blend of the national and international. After all, our mission in this peace movement is to educate and enlighten Guyanese about war and peace. We would be failing in our responsibility if we did not do so. It is a huge task but we must in the end fulfil our mandate. There is also the need to involve both young and old persons in the peace and solidarity movement,” Rohee explained.
Rohee added that the GPC will work in solidarity with peace movements around the world advocating for the reduction of military budget, the freezing of armed sales and the conversion of military spending etc.
February 20 is observed around the world as International World Day. Member of the Local Government Commission, Norman Whitaker, said the objective was the decision to re-launch the GPC.
“The United Nations General Assembly named February 20 as the Annual World Day of Social Justice. The overriding objectives behind this decision were discussed and agreed on, that is among the representatives of the member states, and to make the conquest of poverty and full employment, as well as stable safe and just society, the overriding objectives and so also the need to put people at the centre of development plans” Whitaker said in his address.
Member of the GPC and former President of Guyana, Donald Ramotar in his remarks reflected on the life of Dr Cheddi Jagan, “The re-launching of the peace council is something that Jagan gave a lot of his strength and energies toward promoting and throughout his life, he continued to fight not only for social justice in Guyana but for social justice for the world as a whole and he was a champion for world peace”.
For the year, over 12 activities have already been planned by the Council, that list of activities concluding with Human Rights Day to be observed in December.
Declaration Approved at the 15th ALBA-TCP Summit in Caracas, March 5th, 2018.
The Heads of States and Government of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-Trade Treaty of the Peoples (ALBA-TCP) member nations are gathered in Caracas by the inspiration by the ideas of the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz and Commander Hugo Chavez Frias whose thinking and work are embodied in the true ideals of the integration of Latin American and the Caribbean.
We reaffirm the principles of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Peace Zone, signed by the Heads of States and/or Government at the 2nd CELAC Summit held in Havana on January 28th and 29th, 2014.
We demand the strict observance of the Objectives and Principles of the UN Charter and International Law, among others, in the peaceful solution to controversies, the prohibition of the use and threats of force, respect to self-determination, sovereignty, territorial integration and the non-interference in the internal affairs of each nation.
We ratify the validity, in the current context of aggressions against progressive nations in the region, of the Declaration of the 14th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the ALBA-TCP on March 5 th 2017.
We reiterate the decision to continue constructing a new just and inclusive, multi-centric and plural-polar international order, in contrast to hegemonic and unilateral tendencies, with strict respect to the people, to institutions elected by them and the cultural diversity that exists in our planet.
We denounce attempts to revive the Monroe Doctrine in addition to military threats and attempts of military coups against the constitutional government of Venezuela.
We highlight the lack of moral authority of third States to offer lessons regarding democracy and human rights to the regional countries and we demand respect to the sovereignty and self-determination of the Venezuelan people.
We reject the intervention policy of the General Secretary of the Organization of American States (OAS) and some countries of that organization against the progressive nations of the region.
We reiterate our commitment with Latin American and Caribbean unity in the search for its own destiny, independence and sovereignty, without interference that affect our peoples and development, we defend our own commitment with the genuine integration and Caribbean processes in entities like CELAC, UNASUR, PETROCARIBE, CARICOM and ALBA-TCP to guarantee sovereignty, independence, equality and self-determination of our peoples.
We express our disagreement with the announcement of a group of countries in the continent, issued on February 13th 2018 in Lima, Peru constituting an interference in the internal affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. We condemn the exclusion of the sister nation of Venezuela and its President Nicolas Maduro Moros to the 8th Summit of the Americas. We consider the Summit to be a meeting point for all States in the continent and a space to express our ideas, reach consensus, debate and dissent regarding our diversity.
We demand respect to the legality to the organization of the Summit of the Americas, in this sense, we demand the right for Venezuela’s participation in the event and we propose to exercise diplomatic and political measures to guarantee our goal.
We urge the international community to abstain from any type of coercive exercises against the political independence and territorial integrity of Venezuela as an incompatible practice of International Law and the UN Charter and contrary to the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Peace Zone.
We reject unilateral coercive measures and sanctions imposed against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela that affects the life and development of the noble people of Venezuela and the enjoyment of their rights.
We reaffirm our firm support to the Constitutional President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro Moros and his Government and democratic process that he leads.
We recognize the inalienable rights of the Venezuelan people to hold and participate in Presidential and Legislative elections on the national, state and municipal levels in compliance with their norms and internal procedures.
We support the efforts of the Venezuelan authorities and people to find their own answers to their political and economic challenges.
We denounce the advances of the political and economic corruption in the region expressed by the growing inequality in the distribution of its resources, social exclusion of the most humble sectors, and the financial influence of a large capital in political campaigns, the capital flight and safe refuge of corrupt politicians to third nations that receive them.
We reaffirm the political commitment in the fight against corruption and compliance to the international commitment in the field, while we call on all the regional nations to continue fighting against corruption and organized transnational crime with the objective of guaranteeing the well-being and development of our peoples.
We reaffirm the need to strengthen CELAC, as a privileged space for political agreement in Our America declared a Peace Zone during the 2 nd CELAC Summit in Havana.
We express our unconditional support of Bolivia in their upcoming exercise as Pro Tempore President of CELAC and UNASUR, as mechanisms of dialog to consolidate integration in our region.
We reiterate the international community’s demand for the unconditional lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba, whose extraterritoriality affects all States. We also condemn the new measures that reinforce the blockade and the recent unilateral decisions of the US government that affect the Cuban people, US citizens and relations with Cuba.
We highlight the commitment of the Bolivian Government and people in peacefully searching for solutions through International Law, negotiations and successful dialog in their maritime problem that affect regional integration and impedes their development.
We congratulate and greet the Ecuadorean people for their participation in the popular consultation and referendum of February 4th, 2018 in addition to the majority support to President Lenin Moreno which has allowed strengthening democracy.
We reiterate our support to our brothers in the Caribbean, victims of natural disasters and climate change and we will contribute in an active manner to overcome the damages provoked by recent hurricanes. We demand a just and differentiated treatment for the Caribbean States. We reaffirm our solidarity before the so-called “graduation” and the actions of countries outside the region against several Caribbean nations declaring them non-cooperative jurisdictions and we join the demands of compensation for the horrors of slavery and slave trade.
We call on all social and political organizations in the continent to participate in forums and activities of social movements and progressive forces that will be held in 2018.
We defend the unity of the diversity in Our America. We condemn the embarrassing exclusion and intervention.
Unity of our People is not only an ideal of humanity….but an infallible decree of destiny.
“Let us unite and we will be invincible”
2018-03-06 11:13:27 / email@example.com
Cooperative Jackson, an organization from Mississippi, organized a forum with activists and academics to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the passing of President Hugo Chávez, the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution.
During his speech, Kali Akuno, the organization’s president, highlighted the role played the revolutionary project as a dignified example of sovereignty and solidarity with the peoples of the world. Akuno stressed the support given to some of the poorest people in the U.S. through the energy policy which gave heating oil to over 2 million people through Citgo. He also reiterated that given the crisis Venezuela is going through due to the blockade from the United States and Europe, the response from the people of the United States should be to deepen solidarity.
For his part, Carlos Ron, the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Venezuela in the U.S, detailed, via videoconference, the dozens of aggressions the Venezuelan people have been subject to in the past three years, particularly with the financial, pharmaceutical and food blockade, as well as political sanctions.
Venezuela: A full democracy
Mr. Ron also reaffirmed that the Bolivarian Government has been deepening democracy through concrete actions. One of these is the dialogue spurred by President Maduro in the face of an opposition that last year left nearly two hundred people dead when they rejected peace and resorted to violent acts such as burning Afro-Venezuelans alive, and setting fire to schools and hospitals. Secondly, the country held three elections last year: the election of members of the National Constituent Assembly, gubernatorial elections and elections for mayoralties. Venezuela is set to hold a presidential election in May, in which part of the opposition will participate after coming to an agreement with the government.
The Chargé d’Affairs added that despite the widening of democratic guarantees, the reaction has been unbelievable given that opposition candidate Henri Falcón has been threatened with sanctions by the Trump administration for participating, which is an indicator of their shameless intervention in the domestic affairs of Venezuela.
For his part, Jesús “Chucho” García, Venezuela’s Consul General in New Orleans, emphasized the importance of the role played by Chávez in reconfiguring the geopolitics of Latin America and the Caribbean by spurring mechanisms for integration such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Unasur, Alba and Petrocaribe, as well as establishing more direct relations with countries in Africa.
As the former Venezuelan ambassador to Angola and Mali, García put Chávez’s guidelines and solidarity into practice by promoting the education of thousands of young Africans and spurring mutual aid between Venezuela and Africa.
Regarding the concern by some audience members over the shortages of food and medicine, which has been the focus of corporate media, García denounced that “nobody ever says that the pharmaceutical companies, like Merck, Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer and Bayer left Venezuela and provoked the crisis, just like food industries, where Venezuelan businesspeople received dollars from the government at a preferential rate to produce food, but the bandits left with the dollars to this country, which provides shelter to the most perverse corrupt people of Latin America.”
He further added that “the worst of all this is that we have wanted to buy medicine and the order from the United States and Europe has been not to sell to us… and that is a crime; that is where we need to look for the causes of this situation, which we spoke about in the U.S. Congress recently.”
The Consul clarified that there is no doubt that the rentier model has been a failure and the country faces an urgent need to accelerate the construction of a new productive model, not rentierism. He noted that more care should be taken regarding the support given to producer and that there should be a de-bureaucratization of the process for people’s participation in order to achieve desired levels of production and fight inflation.
No to military intervention
A group of Venezuelan citizens who support the opposition and attended the forum had a chance to explain their perspective on the crisis and called for U.S. military intervention in Venezuela as the way to defeat Maduro.
Other forum attendees replied, such as Mr. Dambala Hougan, who explained that it was tragic that they would propose this since it was clear they had no idea what a military intervention would entail. He noted that unfortunately the U.S. has left millions of dead and wounded by invading countries, which also includes black and poor U.S. citizens, some of who have come back wounded, others in bodies bags. “We cannot have this and we reject this type of proposal; the crisis in Venezuela has to be resolved by Venezuelans in pace,” Hougan stressed.
Hugo Chavez burst on the scene in the early 1990’s at a time when Venezuela, and literally the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean was in the debilitating and degrading clutches of a seemingly rampant United States and Western European neo-liberal, imperialist system.
And this young army officer responded by consciously taking upon himself the mission of completing the revolution that the great liberator, Simon Bolivar, had embarked upon two hundred years earlier!
As a result, Chavez set out to unify Latin America and to secure its sovereignty and independence; to resurrect Latin American nationalism and to augment it with a 21st century brand of Socialism that would equip it to uplift and empower the hitherto marginalized components of the Latin American population; to nationalize Venezuela’s vast petroleum resources and to put them to work on behalf of the poor and the disenfranchised; to construct Third World solidarity and concrete South:South cooperation; to develop a new anti-capitalist and humanist approach to international relations; to righteously and aggressively confront “Imperialism” wherever and whenever it raised its ugly head; and — most importantly for us in the Caribbean– to build a bridge of friendship and mutual respect between Latin America and the Caribbean.
AND, AS AMBITIOUS AS THIS AGENDA WAS AND IS , THE AMAZING THING IS THAT CHAVEZ SUCCEEDED!
Concrete evidence of his success can be found in the current elevated levels of literally all of Venezuela’s social indicators as compared with the pre-Chavez years; in the fact that during the “Chavez era” a very significant number of Socialist and Nationalist political parties and movements came to power in Latin American countries ranging from Argentina in the south of the continent to Nicaragua in the north; in the existence of the Bolivarian Alliance of The Americas (ALBA), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Africa-South America Summit, the Petro-Caribe Energy Cooperation Agreement, the Bank of the South (Bancosur), the Television Network of the South (Telesur), and the list goes on and on.
Additional evidence can also be found in the intangible quality of hope and optimism that Hugo Chavez inspired in hundreds of millions of breasts all across the globe— hope that a different and better world was indeed possible; hope that the noble, life-affirming political philosophy of Socialism would have a new lease on life in the 21st century; hope that men and women of goodwill could reach across boundaries of race, gender and nationality and embrace each other as brothers and sisters, as members of a unique and sacred human family.
Chavez’s Legacy Around the World
And for us in the islands of the Caribbean– what type of future would we have had if Chavez had not played a critical role in mobilizing opposition to the devastating “Free Trade Area of the Americas” (FTAA) that U.S. imperialism was poised to impose upon our nations ? Indeed, it was Chavez, more than anyone else, who played the key role in defeating the “beggar thy neighbor” FTAA and substituting the alternative “prosper thy neighbor” ALBA for it!
Furthermore, how would our vulnerable Caribbean island economies have stayed afloat in the terrible years of international economic crisis between 2008 and 2012 were it not for the Petro Caribe lifeline that Chavez threw out to all and sundry across the Caribbean sea?
The evidence is clear for all to see that Hugo Chavez was one of the greatest and most genuine friends that our Caribbean region has ever had!
Hugo Chavez Frias may have died at the relatively young age of 58 years, but what a blazing, illuminating, enlivening and ennobling impact he had in that short life-span! He gave of himself— nay— he spent himself in the service of his Venezuelan country-men and women; in the service of his beloved Latin America and the Caribbean region; and in the service of a battered and bruised humanity.
By his brilliant and sacrificial living he has changed the world, and he will never be forgotten.
David Comissiong is president of the People’s Empowerment Party of Barbados and is president and founder of the Clement Payne Movement. Also, he is the author of the 2013 book It’s the Healing of the Nation: The Case For Reparations In An Era of Recession and Re-colonisation.
Caribbean Peace Movement
The Caribbean Movement for Peace is concerned about a series of articles in the Jamaica Observer, which is being construed by some regional commentators as a distinct attempt at “meddling” in the upcoming elections in Antigua and Barbuda. Interestingly, these articles coincide with an ongoing tax dispute between Sandals Resorts International (SRI) owned by Mr. Gordon “Butch” Stewart and the government of Antigua and Barbuda, which came to a head during the course of 2017.
The articles in the Jamaica Observer, a newspaper also owned by Mr. Butch Stewart, consistently belittle and vilify Prime Minister Gaston Browne as the March 21, 2018 polls draw nigh. Listed below is a sample of biased headlines of some of the articles which were recently published by the Jamaica Observer:
- Antiguans suffering under Gaston Browne’s inept leadership, March 1, 2018
- Antigua’s Browne goes to the polls with bribery cloud over his head, February 26, 2018
- ONLINE READERS COMMENT: Sir Lester gets it, can’t say the same for Gaston Browne, February 15, 2018
- Lester Bird, Opposition UPP bemoan drop in Antigua’s tourism under Gaston Browne, February 7, 2018
- A travesty to compare the ghastly Gaston Browne with ‘Butch’ Stewart, February 4, 2018
- Gaston Browne is like a broken, badly scratched record, January 25, 2018
- ’Butch’ Stewart not in the same class with egotist Gaston Browne, January 23, 2018
It is quite noticeable that no other foreign leader, not even Donald Trump who has demeaned and berated Haitians and people of African ancestry with his racist “Shithole” remark, has received this level of negative attention from the Jamaica Observer, a newspaper based in a nation of predominantly African descendants. The disproportionately unfavorable attention that PM Gaston Browne has been receiving in Mr. Stewart’s newspaper raises the question as to whether there is a particular agenda in relation to Prime Minster Gaston Browne. It seems quite clear that this series of articles could have the effect of discrediting him to the electorate and therefore influence the results of the imminent elections.
Given the concerns expressed above, the Caribbean Peace Movement calls on the professional journalists and editors of the Jamaica Observer to protect the integrity of the newspaper, by adhering to the high standards and principles of journalism that are rooted in the practice of fairness, due diligence and objectivity in reporting.
We in the Caribbean Peace Movement, further call upon the CARICOM leaders, other regional integration bodies and the United Nations to take note of this worrying trend, which may be indicative of interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign Caribbean nation with a view to influencing regime change via elections.
We further express our staunch support for the rights of the people of Antigua and Barbuda to vote for the party and government of their choice – that they believe will protect their sovereignty and self-determination through a development strategy that prioritizes the socio-economic interests of the people of the twin island state. We believe that the people should be able to fairly and freely, without any form of interference no matter how subtle, choose the government that will provide effective political leadership in the rebuilding of Barbuda, with its tourism based economy, that was almost totally destroyed as a result of the devastating hurricane Irma in September last year.
By Trevor Brown
The co-opting of Jamaica, St Lucia and Guyana in the regime change agenda of the USA against our sister Bolivarian republic of Venezuela, is a classic case of the ‘divide and rule’ tactic be used and marks a historical low in the relations of our CARICOM member states.
So eager were the latter two countries to confirm their newfound ‘choir boy’ status, that they were prepared to join the so-called ‘Lima group’ which is a purview for Latin American countries and the rouge leader USA, in flouting article 36/103 of the United Nations which deals with the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of States. The other members of the Lima group include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Canada , Colombia, Guatemala Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Mexico and Peru.
What is equally galling and shameless in this ‘spanish machete’ action by the renegade leaders of these three Caribbean states, is that it’s happening in the midst of Black History Month, where the predominant majority of their population have ancestral roots in Africa, that have been so derisively dismissed as one of the ‘shithole countries’ by US president Donald Trump.
It therefore begs the question as to what is the ‘carrot’ that their jingoistic masters in the US would have ‘dangled’ in the faces of our 3 supine Caribbean leaders, or equivalently, the ‘big stick’ that was held over their collective heads, ala recent vote in United Nation to transfer Israel capital to Jerusalem.
Could it be the US aid to the region which in 2016 amounted to US$437.6 million being shared among 14 ‘sovereign’ states with Haiti receiving the lion’s share of US$376.7 million, the balance divided among the other 13 countries namely Jamaica US$28,9, Guyana US$9.6,Belize US$8.6, BarbadosUS$5.4,BahamasUS$3.2,St LuciaUS$38,000, SurinameUS$232,672,Trinidad and TobagoUS$302.775, St. Vincent and the GrenadinesUS$616,000,Antigua and BarbudaUS$635,781.
When you Juxtapose these aid figures against a trade surplus of US$4.58 bllion which is over 10 times the amount of aid given to the 14 above-named countries, is a clear indication of who benefits from this unequal and inequitable relations with Uncle Sam and why it boggles my mind for why the genuflection of the leadership of the Jamaica, Guyana and St Lucia.
Our region has been cited by none other than the head of gendarme of international finance capital , IMF Christine Lagarde, who on her last visit to Jamaica in November of last year, said ‘”youth unemployment in the Caribbean is the highest in the world , fuelling criminality” which further negatively impacts our beleaguered economies at a rate of 4% of gross domestic product per year.
If you add a bone-chilling murderous rampage which has seen Jamaica ‘s body count being equated to that of a war zone( over 200 since the beginning of the year) which is a clear and present danger to tourism our #2 foreign exchange earner , coupled with a wider Caribbean problem of the devastating impact category 5 hurricanes becoming the norm as a consequence of climate change , the ever present energy security issues, should leave us with little time ‘fi faas inna’ our sister Bolivarian Republic business.
A sovereign country that has one of the fairest electoral systems in the world, according to former US president Jimmy Carter, that controls its god-given natural resource, oil and harnessed its profits for the benefit of the majority of the poor and dispossessed with over 5 million homes being built since 2005 , as one such indicator. Oil resources that they have willing shared with our energy-dependent regional states in a model ‘one of a kind’ arrangement, such as Petro Caribe.
Black history month gives us cause to reflect on our past, as one way of looking ahead to the future. As a people lets heed the words of Bob Marley in the song ‘So much things to say” by not being equated with ‘selling out Marcus Garvey for Rice’( and Peas), which our 3 Caribbean leader represent.
An emergency move from the Dutch government on Feb. 6 to dissolve the local authority of its Caribbean island, St. Eustatius, is bringing new urgency to the Statian struggle for decolonization.
The power shuffle comes after a damning report from the national State Secretary accusing the administration of the island — which has special Dutch municipal status — of lawlessness, financial mismanagement, discrimination and intimidation. With parliamentary backing but no prior consultation with the local population, a government commission was deployed to replace the island’s council and college board.
“They don’t abide by Dutch laws, and as a result they fall outside Dutch law and order. No government can accept that,” Jan Fransen, one of the report’s authors, told Dutch public broadcaster NPO2. “They want to apply their own laws because they believe they have the right to govern the island themselves.”
The move was met with a silent protest march on the island, also known as Statia, over what activists see as a colonial power grab that undermines their sovereignty.
“The takeover wasn’t really a surprise,” said Glenn Schmidt, co-founder of the activist group Pro Statia which advocates for autonomy of the island. “The possibility of Dutch intervention in Statia was hanging over our heads for some time now because of the disturbed relationship between our local government and The Hague. But what was shocking is the extent of it — that they put the entire democratically-elected government aside.”
Tensions between the central government and Statian authority had been running high since last September when the military was restoring order on Dutch Caribbean islands wrecked by Hurricane Irma. Clyde van Putten, head of the Progressive Labor Party and coalition leader of the local council, had reportedly threatened then Dutch Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk, saying “If you bring the military with you, then we will kill them and we will burn them on the streets of Statia.”
But more than just a provocateur, Van Putten has also been a long-time vocal opponent of the island’s special municipal status, which it got in 2010 with the dissolution of the Dutch Antilles. Curacao and St. Martin joined Aruba as autonomous lands under the Dutch Kingdom while smaller islands Saba, Bonaire and St. Eustatius became special municipalities.
“The people of Statia never opted for this status,” said Xiomara Balentina, co-founder and leader of the Brighter Path Foundation, an activist group pushing for a popular referendum. “We have no direct representation in the Dutch Parliament, and get fewer social benefits. There is no equality, political or economic.”
Pro Statia and Brighter Path Foundation are the two grassroots organizations that since 2012 have become a political force in the fight for Statia’s autonomy. Through town hall meetings, seminars and rallies they have been educating and mobilizing the island of 3,400 inhabitants to “bring awareness to our people about our constitutional status and to encourage conversations about the type of constitutional relationship they envision for the future,” Balentina said.
In 2014 their organizing work succeeded in pressuring the local government to hold a popular referendum on the island’s constitutional status. Although 65 percent backed becoming autonomous within the kingdom, the total voter turnout was well below the threshold to be considered binding.
Autonomy within the Dutch Kingdom would mean Statians can take government and legislation into their own hands even as the Netherlands maintains financial oversight as well as control over the military and foreign affairs.
“We believe us Statians can and must grow to handle most of our own internal affairs,” Schmidt explained. “The attitude of the Dutch government seems to be more in the direction of we must sit quiet while they ‘do it for us.’ We reject this idea. We want to be rulers on our island and develop a community for our Caribbean people, not for Statia to become a European outpost for Europeans.”
The Statian struggle for autonomy continues a longer historic trail of denied democracy and freedom from Dutch rulers. A colonial possession that switched hands between Dutch and British empires since 1636, Statia was a central port in the transatlantic slave and arms trade. It was also known as the “golden rock” for its sugarcane and tobacco plantations, which were exploited with slave labor.
Slavery was officially abolished in 1863, but it wasn’t until 1948 — with the end of World War II and Indonesian independence — that men on the island could vote. Women couldn’t vote until 1963, more than 20 years after Dutch women in the mainland. The Dutch Colonial Council justified withholding democracy from their colonies by saying its people weren’t sufficiently “ripe” or “properly developed,” and so required “pure colonial governance.”
This colonial logic seems to persist today as Statians seek to achieve greater freedom. When Van Putten formally petitioned for autonomy with the central government in January last year, Prime Minister Rutte never responded.
Van Putten’s move to seek dialogue with the Dutch government had come directly from a strategic plan laid out by a constitutional committee that representatives from Pro Statia and the Brighter Path Foundation joined after 2014. The activists also released a white paper to present their case for autonomy, drafted a constitution for popular consultation, and lobbied with the U.N. for the island’s reenlistment as non-self-governing territory.
But for Francio Guadeloupe, a social anthropology professor at Amsterdam University and former president of the University of St. Martin, these are political tactics that seem to evade the more pressing issue of economic inequality gripping the island.
“These islands and the people living there did not choose to become Dutch, they are part of a tragedy called imperialism,” Guadeloupe explained. “We can all say this is wrong. But to reduce the situation to a political struggle between two administrations is forgetting the people feeling the brunt, working for, or below minimum wage. A referendum won’t immediately solve their concerns.”
St. Eustatius, like its neighboring Caribbean islands with special municipal status, face higher poverty rates than those on the Dutch mainland, despite being part of the same kingdom. Since the dissolution of the Antilles, the costs of living have risen dramatically while wages and welfare have stayed the same. When it comes to the rights of Dutch people in the Caribbean, the Netherlands applies a double standard, a 2016 report from the Dutch College of Human Rights concluded.
“Let’s start with that — solving their concerns — then we can think about creating a structure that is more equal,” Guadeloupe added. “If people live a decent life they are better able to choose what political administration they want, what political leaders they want to support. Asking them to do so when they can hardly survive is disingenuous.”
For activists on the ground, however, they say their priority is now set on continuing to protest Dutch interventionism and making sure their elections in 2019 go ahead as scheduled.
“People have an intrinsic need to be free. All people, at some point in their lives, want to govern themselves,” Balentina said. “The Netherlands at one point in its history was dominated by Spain, the Dutch fought for its independence. So why can’t we?”
Ignoring decades of the peoples’ struggle against weapons of mass destruction, the imperialist powers gathered in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and their major leader, the USA, do not even flinch before putting nuclear weapons in the center of their policy. There are currently almost 15,000 nuclear warheads spread around the world and the modest reduction of this arsenal does not mean less danger. Our mobilization remains urgent.
Recently, on the eve of another UN Conference on Disarmament, US President Donald Trump felt it right to declare the US “nuclear posture review” to threaten the world with the use of these weapons, sowing terror and inciting an escalation of global tensions, towards a generalized war. The US has been promoting the “modernization” of its arsenal to make it easier to deploy it – still with hugely destructive effects, especially given the banalization of this threat.
The World Peace Council, since its foundation, and several other popular movements and organizations have repudiated nuclear weapons. The US inaugurated the catastrophic implementation of this threat with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in 1945, killing over 200,000 people in Japan – a heinous crime against humanity for which those responsible remain unaccountable.
Since then, the political forces, honestly committed to peace, have pledged resolute opposition to the policy of widespread menace based on the development, “modernization” and facilitated use of weapons of mass destruction, such as the nuclear weapons. Although these measures are promoted especially by the US, it is countries such as Iran, the People’s Republic of Korea and Russia that are the targets of sanctions and world condemnation for, seeing themselves under threat on a daily basis, they are reacting.
In 1950, the WPC launched the Stockholm Appeal, which was endorsed by hundreds of millions of people around the world. In 1979, the UN decided to hold annual Conferences on Disarmament, “as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community.” In 2017, we have commemorated the adoption – although by a limited group of countries that does not include the nuclear powers – of the treaty on the prohibition of these weapons. But this struggle is far from victorious.
Considering that the almost 15,000 existing nuclear warheads in the world are also based on NATO member countries in Europe and on the border with Asia (in Turkey), that dozens of them are owned by an aggressor state such as Israel, and that the missiles carrying them are in ongoing development, with an ever longer range, it is not an exaggeration to say that the peoples all over the word are targets for destruction and annihilation.
Given the growing tension in various regions of the planet and of the aggressiveness of US imperialism, the scenario of generalized armed conflict is not exaggerated either.
Therefore, the peace-loving peoples strengthen their mobilization and reiterate their firmest repudiation of an international system of threats, aggression, oppression and war.
A system such as this, dominated by an imperialist power that declares its ability to use its arsenal of nuclear weapons, even against countries that do not own such weapons, reveals the great danger that the militarist escalation promoted by the USA is pushing the world towards a situation of generalized catastrophe.
It is up to us to intensify the struggle for the elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. To make the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons effective is a commitment of utmost importance, to guarantee this goal.
The appeal launched by the founding President of the World Peace Council in 1950, Frederic Juliot Curie, is still a contemporary imperative:
“We demand the absolute banning of the atomic bomb, weapons of terror and mass extermination of populations. We demand the establishment of strict international control to ensure the implementation of this ban. We consider that the first Government to use the atomic weapon against any country whatsoever would be committing a crime against humanity and should be dealt with as a war criminal. We call on all men of goodwill throughout the world to sign this Appeal.”
There is no other way to eliminate nuclear weapons and to build a lasting peace, than to increase our efforts for unity and struggle .
President of the World Peace Council
CARIBBEAN PEACE MOVEMENT
Dear Heads of Government of CARICOM,
As CARICOM citizens, we are writing to you to express our deep concerns about the ongoing imperialist assaults against our sister nation of Venezuela, and also about the very troubling stance of some Heads of Government of our regional body.
We wish to make it unmistakably clear to you– our Heads of Government– that as CARICOM citizens we stand unwaveringly with our embattled sister nation of Venezuela in defense of its sovereignty and its right to choose its own political path to self-determination and development.
Unfortunately, at the recently held Organization of American States (OAS) meeting in Washington DC, some of our CARICOM member states — specifically Jamaica, St. Lucia, Barbados, the Bahamas and Guyana — chose to abandon the principles of collective leadership enshrined in the foundational document of the Treaty of Chaguaramas which have historically guided CARICOM’s foreign policy positions in relation to other countries.
The unprincipled actions of the referenced member states led them to side with United States (US) imperialism by voting for a Resolution that is premised on the fraudulent notion that there is a breakdown of democratic order, rule of law, and social peace in Venezuela, and that the Presidential elections that are scheduled for the 22nd of April 2018 will not be democratic, transparent and fair.
The said “Resolution of infamy” also encourages and portends an illegal and subversive intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela with its demand that the Venezuelan Government postpone the Presidential election and open the country up to interventionist so-called “assistance” from OAS member states that are hostile to the Bolivarian Government.
We believe that this unprincipled vote on the part of Jamaica, St. Lucia, Barbados, the Bahamas and Guyana is not only a despicable betrayal of CARICOM’s traditional principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations and respect for other nations’ right to self-determination, but that it is also a betrayal of a friend who has extended to us badly needed assistance through the Petro Caribe Energy Cooperation Agreement and other forms of aid to foster development and the prosperity of our peoples.
We therefore condemn in the strongest terms the machinations of these five CARICOM member states that have shredded the principles of CARICOM in order to assist the largest and most menacing imperialist nation of our hemisphere to achieve one of its prized geopolitical objectives, namely, the isolation and overthrow of Venezuela’s anti-imperialist revolution.
We also profoundly regret that the Governments of Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Haiti, St Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago chose to sit on the fence at the OAS meeting by either abstaining in the vote or by absenting themselves from the Meeting, instead of voting in favor of upholding the principles of sovereignty and self-determination in relation to our sister nation of Venezuela.
It is our belief that at a time when US imperialism is openly pushing for ‘a military coup” and military intervention against the sovereign government and people of Venezuela, to abstain from voting against an openly anti-Venezuela interventionist Resolution in the OAS is to renege on a sacred responsibility to defend our region from the evils of Imperialism and to uphold the notion of the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.
In this regard, we salute the Governments and political leaders of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and Suriname for their dignified votes at the OAS meeting not only in support of sovereignty and self-determination in Venezuela, but also in defense of the principles of self-determination and sovereignty of CARICOM itself.
In closing, we unapologetically reiterate our solidarity with the anti-imperialist Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela and respectfully call upon all the Heads of Government of CARICOM to staunchly defend the principles of self-determination, sovereignty, freedom, and the non-interference in the affairs of other countries.
Needless-to-say, it is our unbending belief that to defend these principles in Venezuela and all other states is to defend them in our CARICOM states as well.
As such, we appeal to all CARICOM Heads of Government to recognize that the inherent dignity of our nations demand that we fully embrace the fundamental International Law principles that underlie our Caribbean Community– principles that enjoin us to unite to defend a sister nation against an imperial aggressor .
We recognize that Venezuela’s anti-imperialist revolution has already borne impressive successes in education, health care, and housing, and in the reduction of poverty, hunger and unemployment. We further recognize that Venezuela could have achieved even more gains in making the economy work for the majority of its people had the country not had to contend with unlawfully imposed US sanctions and other forms of subversion.
We are only too well aware that Venezuela’s battles against Imperialism and oligarchy are going to be our challenges and tribulations as well whenever our people in CARICOM decide to fundamentally confront the dependent Capitalism that is so deeply entrenched in our countries. Indeed, we already have bitter evidence and confirmation of this in the form of the attempts of Grenada’s New Jewel Movement under the late Maurice Bishop between 1979 and 1983 and of Jamaica’s Peoples National Party under the late Michael Manley between 1972-1980. And when the time for our test comes once again we will want the support and solidarity of all decent, principled, and law abiding nations.
Long live CARICOM Unity!
Long live CARICOM-VENEZUELA UNITY!
Long live. PEACE in our Region!
Long live Sovereignty and Self-determination!
Long live the Venezuelan Revolution!
Long live Bolivar, Chavez and Maduro!
In 1999, under the leadership of former President Hugo Chavez and 131 members of the constituent assembly, a new progressive constitution was drafted and approved for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. It challenged the existing system of dominance by the elite and established systems for popular participation in decision-making.
The rights which are enshrined in the constitution are summarized in an article posted on the Venezuela Analysis website on December 16, 2014:
1. Rights of Indigenous Nations’ Ancestral Lands and Identities
2. Defense of Venezuelan Sovereignty. This protects some of Venezuela’s most valuable resources such as petroleum from foreign interests
3. Freedom from all forms of discrimination.
4. Popular and Democratic Participation in Public Affairs, that is, the right of all citizens to participate in the management of the country.
5. Rights of Children, Youth and the Elderly – which includes the rights to job opportunities, education and recreational activities for youth and children, and recognizes the state’s responsibility to protect the elderly and provide social security, pensions, and proper work if senior citizens want to and can work.
6. Free Healthcare for all
7. Free and High Quality Education
8. The Right to a Home
9. Prohibition of Monopolies, effectively declaring monopolies unconstitutional.
10. Creation of a Society in Balance with Mother Nature by protecting nature and the environment
11. Dedication to Latin American and Caribbean Integration as the Key to Independence of the nations in the region.
12. Community Power, which aims to ensure that political authority is exercised by organized communities directly, rather than through elected representatives or politicians.
Under former President Hugo Chavez and current President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has made tremendous advances in fulfilling the principles enshrined in its constitution. It has nationalized its rich petroleum industry and is steadily improving the lives of the people in areas such as literacy, general education, health and housing. Venezuela is a strong force in the regional integration movement through organisations such as ALBA, CELAC and UNASUR which have as their primary goals unity, cooperation, peace, and economic and social advancement among member nations. In keeping with these goals, Venezuela conceived the Petrocaribe agreement which has served as a buffer to regional economies against the difficulties caused by increasing oil prices. Venezuela, along with Cuba, has also participated in and spearheaded various initiatives to improve healthcare and literacy across the region and in other Third World countries.
Unfortunately, this kind of progress is perceived as counter to their interests by a small but powerful minority in and outside Venezuela. This has resulted in continuous efforts at economic and political destabilization of the society with a view to overthrowing the government and restoring the old order in Venezuela. This would include abrogation of the Petrocaribe agreement.
The government of Jamaica has on many occasions endorsed the initiatives which began under Hugo Chavez’s presidency and are continued by President Maduro. As a people, we are familiar with the destabilization process having experienced it here in the 1970s and witnessed it in Chile, where it resulted in the overthrow and murder of President Salvador Allende in 1973. Therefore, we should endeavor to stay abreast of and expose the continued attempts at overthrowing the duly elected government of Venezuela and let our voices be heard in all relevant regional and international fora. We must insist on preservation of our region as a zone of peace, and respect for the sovereignty of all our nations. We know the Bolivarian Revolution is strong and the Venezuelan people are determined to defend the gains they have made. We know they will resist and thwart these attacks. But, they need our support. In supporting Venezuela, Cuba and progressive developments in the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America, we are safeguarding our own future. It is not an option. It is an absolute necessity.
Message written for presentation on behalf of the Jamaica Cuba Friendship Association at an event commemorating the life of Comandante Hugo Chavez.
On Tuesday March 5, 2013 we received the news that we desperately hoped we would not have to face anytime soon. One of our most valiant fighters, a champion of the poor, succumbed to cancer at a relatively young age. If ever there was a modern revolutionary who embodied the mission and dreams of the great freedom fighters of the world, it was Comandante Hugo Chavez. We are aware of the depth of the grief that you, the people of Venezuela, feel at this time. We grieve with you because of your loss and because our nation has lost a true friend and a firm comrade.
Chavez was spearheading a major transformation of your homeland, Venezuela, which was consistent with Fidel Castro’s vision that another world is possible. He boldly challenged the system in which capital reigns supreme to the detriment of the masses, who are made to bear the burden of its perpetual cyclical crises. Under his leadership, poverty was reduced from 70.8% (1996) to 21% (2010) and extreme poverty was reduced from 40% (1996) to a very low level of 7.3% (2010). Spending on social programs was increased by 60.6%. Education is free from daycare to University. The infant mortality rate dropped from 25 per 1000 (1990) to only 13/1000 (2010). 1.5 million Venezuelans had their eyesight restored through collaboration between Venezuela and Cuba under the Miracle eye-care program. (Source: The Achievements of Hugo Chavez by CARLES MUNTANER, JOAN BENACH, MARIA PAEZ VICTOR). We could go on and on listing advancements that took place under Chavez. But you know the facts better than us, because you were an integral part of the process.
Walking in step with the laws of social development, Chavez defended the sovereignty of your country, and marshalled its resources for national development and for assistance to other developing nations, and the poor in the United States of America. Were it not for Venezuela’s assistance under the leadership of Chavez, poor people in some of the inner cities of the United States of America would probably freeze to death in the winter. Were it not for the benefits of the Petrocaribe agreement masterminded by Chavez with the support of the revolutionary people of Venezuela, the economic crises faced by Jamaica and other Caribbean nations would be even more crippling. Were it not for Venezuela’s contribution under Chavez’s leadership, 51,000 people, from all over the world, including thousands of Jamaicans, may not have been able to travel to Cuba to have their eyesight corrected or restored through the Miracle Eye-care programme.
As a committed integrationist, Chavez was one of the chief architects of ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas) and CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), the quintessential manifestation of Simon Bolivar’s dream of unifying nations of the region to bolster their economies and protect them from external domination. It was a triumphant Chavez who declared at the opening ceremony of CELAC on December 1, 2011, “Only unity will make us free…………………….This is the path: Unity, unity, unity!”
Hospitalized for the final time in Cuba, Hugo Chavez could not attend Havana’s Third Conference on World Balance in memory of Jose Marti, January 28 to 30, 2013. However, his fervent spirit was ever present and was periodically brought forcefully to attention by the spirited chants of the Venezuelan delegation, affirming your hope for his recovery and your confidence in his leadership. Two gifts received from members of the delegation will be forever cherished by the representative of YESCuba and the Jamaican solidarity network who attended that conference. One is a music CD by the revolutionary singers’ front of Venezuela, “Lloviznando Cantos” which included their national anthem and songs in praise of Chavez, Simon Bolivar, Fidel Castro and the revolutionary process underway in Venezuela. The other is a button, adorned with a red, yellow and blue ribbon painted in the shape of a heart, which they called “the heart of Chavez”.
Hugo Chavez died a champion and a hero. He will live forever in our memories. He has shown what is possible when a country uses its natural resources for the well-being of mankind, rather than for greedy hegemonic ambitions. We feel confident that his ideas will continue to be vibrant among you the people of Venezuela and in all countries which choose the path of genuine independence and peaceful cooperation.
To those who think that Venezuela will be a walk-over with the loss of Chavez, we say that the revolution was led but not achieved by one man. The strength of the revolution comes from an awakened and enlightened population which is committed to the principles of your hero, Simon Bolivar, brought to life by Hugo Chavez. You are well aware of the “before” and “after” picture and we feel certain that you will resist any attempt by vested interests to restore the “before” picture which would mean privatization of entities which have been nationalized, foreign domination of your natural resources, and interruption or reversal of the economic and social advancements achieved under Chavez. You are fully aware of the results of the so-called “liberation” of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya which has destroyed their infrastructure and wreaked devastation and suffering on the people. We are confident that you the people of Venezuela will defend the legacy of Hugo Chavez and continue the process he was leading. We are forever indebted to you for supporting his ideas and sharing him with the world.
We salute the incoming president, Nicolás Maduro Moros. We are heartened by the fact that he has signalled his intention of continuing in Chavez’s footsteps.
Viva Hugo Chavez!
La lucha sigue!
Hasta la victoria siempre!
This message was written on behalf of YESCuba in 2013 and expresses the sentiments held by the Jamaica Peace Council.
Published: Jamaica Gleaner, Saturday, March 3, 2018
Photo source: s1picwalls.com
THE EDITOR, Sir:
We are aware that the USA has the most liberal gun laws among developed countries and many middle-income countries. We are now being informed that there are more guns in private possession in the USA than in many other countries in the world. The USA also has the highest homicide rate, five per 100,000, among developed countries, with most of these being gun related.
It is interesting to note that the countries in proximity to the USA, with, perhaps, the exception of Canada, have the highest annual homicide rates per 100,000 persons in the world. These are estimated as follows:
Honduras , 90; El Salvador , 41; Guatemala , 40; Jamaica , 39; Belize , 31; Bahamas , 30; Dominican Republic , 25; Mexico ,24; and Panama , 22.
In these countries, the weapon of choice is the gun, and they are not significant gun producers. The USA is.
Let us hope that on this occasion, following the recent shootings in Florida, there will be meaningful gun-control measures adopted in the USA.
Such measures could contribute to the security of all of us.
The USA needs to acknowledge that its lax gun laws have an impact beyond its borders.
I think it’s important from a start to realize that the crisis conditions in Puerto Rico in the wake and aftermath of hurricanes Maria and Irma, were not brought about extraneously this past fall, but are rooted in the systemic inequalities that were already in place and were the root cause of the humanitarian disaster that’s grown and intensified since the back-to-back Category 4 hurricanes decimated the island.
Puerto Rican people were already suffering terribly because of U.S. colonialist laws and exploitation that had been crippling the economy and had resulted in an insupportable unpayable public debt of $96 billion. Finance capital, real estate markets and hedge fund profiteers had railroaded the island nation into insufferable social and economic conditions. Similar to what happened with the 2008 housing bubble crisis, hedge fund profiteers buy up bonds at pennies on the dollar, give loans to people that are desperate then demand 100% repayment at very high interest rates, and with the full power of the U.S. legal, political and economic system behind them.
Puerto Rico had no right to do anything about the looming economic crisis because the economic stranglehold is built into the colonialist system. No recourse to address it, and even the vote taken in a referendum in favor statehood, (although with only a 23% turnout) as a means to get relief from this situation, was ignored by Congress – where the final say always rests.
One of the tenets of capitalism is the concept of taking big risks to try to win big financial gains. The propaganda hype is that you reap big financial rewards because you took big risks. But in reality, it’s turned on its head, especially under a colonialist relationship, investments pay out regardless. If an investment is a bad one, the corporations make their millions and the people pay through austerity measures. Who pays in Puerto Rico? The local economy, the university and public schools, healthcare, workers’ pensions, workers’ wages, and communities.
These were the cutbacks dictated by PROMESA , the US federal law that established a fiscal oversight board to restructure the massive debt. Who is on the board? Among others, a private equity manager and former bank president, another banker, a member of the right-wing think tank American Enterprise Institute, a conservative corporate law professor. No surprise that measures included: close 184 schools, try to implement a minimum wage of $4.25 an hour for 25-year-olds and younger, order Puerto Rico to implement 10 percent cutbacks in its public pension system, massive layoffs in the tens of thousands of workers, cuts that include $1 billion in health services, $300 million from the university budget, $350 million in aid to municipalities, eliminate environmental protections, privatize and sell off public lands.
So, why doesn’t Puerto Rico declare bankruptcy to try to resolve some of the problem of this debt built up over decades at usurer interest rates that have rendered it unpayable? Puerto Rico tried – and made an effort based on its Puerto Rican Recovery law, to allow public utilities to restructure $20 billion in debt with some creditors. The case went to the Supreme Court and in 2016 the Court struck down the Puerto Rican law, arguing that Puerto Rico is not a sovereign state, it has no legal right to make this decision – (one of the tipping points in public thinking that would dissolve any notion that free associated state is nothing more than a euphemism for United States colony).
Only the U.S. Congress may enact bankruptcy laws – the upshot here is that for purposes of relief to the population, the applicable laws are determined by Congress, but for the purposes of GOP tax reform, Puerto Rico is treated like a foreign country, and levied a “sovereign country” export tax on manufacturing, in effect further crippling its local economy.
I want to share that Puerto Rican Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote on this decision ”the Recovery Act is the only existing legal option for Puerto Rico to restructure debts that could cripple its citizens.”
“Soon, Puerto Rico will be unable to pay for things like fuel to generate electricity, which will lead to rolling blackouts” and “other vital public services will be imperiled, including the utilities’ ability to provide safe drinking water, maintain roads and operate public transportation.” She said the majority Court’s approach is a deceptive argument and leaves Puerto Rico “powerless and with no legal process to help” its citizens. Key word Powerless – and in Crisis.
As Communists, we don’t believe restructuring is a viable solution to the debt crisis. We must demand the debt be cancelled. It has been paid many times over through the plunder of the island’s resources and exploitation of its workforce. Instead of cooking up restructuring schemes and going down a road of further impoverishment and capitalist profiteering, we say cook up a “debt picadillo”, let’s make mincemeat out of the debt!
All of this, all of the above was before Irma and Maria.
So, when Maria and Irma ravaged the island last fall, the framework for further oppression and profiteering was already in place and steering fast toward a humanitarian disaster.
For advanced capitalism, Maria was the perfect storm of the capitalist greed: a combination of structural colonialist stranglehold, and climate change devastation. In other words, it’s what one of our prospective speakers at a scheduled CPUSA roundtables, Natasha Bannon, calls the convergence of the three C’s: capitalism, colonialism and climate change.
The devastation of the hurricane has been in many ways dwarfed by the crisis caused in the aftermath due to #45’s and the GOP Congress’ refusal to fully fund recovery and rebuilding. There was the contemptuous scene of #45 tossing rolls of paper towels at a group of people in in Puerto Rico and then justifying the slow response by claiming logistical issues,
FEMA’s threatening to cut off water and food aid in order to stimulate private economy is part of the criminal response – Heroic San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz pleaded ‘we are dying“ and the slow negligent response to the destruction and the need were steps toward genocide. There have now been thousands of deaths – deaths of diabetic and sick patients stranded without electricity and a means to refrigerate medicine, patients unable to operate dialysis equipment, people drinking from creeks and rivers and contracting bacterial diseases that come from animal carcasses contaminating the water. Today’s growing suicide rate among young people suffering depression and desperation are the tragic consequences of Trump’s racist negligent and criminal response.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand invited Mayor Yulin Cruz to the SOTU address last week. “The administration has caused lasting pain and even more havoc than the hurricanes themselves,” Yulin Cruz said. The idea that “FEMA is leaving because the situation is stabilized is ridiculous “anyone who comes can see nothing is stable.”
We have to keep the pressure on for actions that keep Puerto Rico in the news like the position taken by Gillibrand. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, Illinois Representative Luis Guttierrez have repeatedly made trips and spoken up and called out the lies in the GOP spin. Representative Ted Lieu of California and Representative Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands propose that Puerto Rico’s electric grid be rebuilt with wind, solar and a network of micro-grids.
We need to rebuild with solar power, said Mayor Yulin, “I’ve seen solar street lights knocked down by the hurricane, but the light is still on – if we rebuild with grid, the same will happen again.”
Speaking about Congressional Democrats who voted for Promesa the mayor said ”They were confused, they drank the kool-aid and thought it would help – but it is not helping. Promesa and the fiscal control board took away $350 million from municipalities, $175 million this year and $175 million next year. Keep it in the news and not as a ‘good news’ story.”
She continued: “The entire island nation needs massive amounts of attention, but in Loiza on the Eastern side and in Vieques and Culebra, we don’t even know yet how many people are dead. We should be talking about the deaths, not the debt.”
This past week Yulin asked UN and UNICEF to speak out on behalf of people of Puerto Rico. She argued that access to drinking water is a human right, access to food, to education is a human right and denying them because of “logistics issues” or because “you can’t hack it” is unacceptable – noting that hundreds of volunteer relief workers from the labor movement, including SEIU, UAW, teamsters, machinists, nurses, teachers have given vacation time to come help.
She says that this shows the real spirit of the American people so “I asked the UN, UNICEF and any other international organization to stand up for Puerto Rico. Latin nations use your ambassadors… demand that what the US demands of other countries, they do here. Demand that as citizens of the world that the UN send a delegation here. This is a human rights issue and a human rights violation issue.”
In 1951, communist leader, William Patterson, and the Civil Rights Congress, presented a historic petition to the UN General Assembly. The We Charge Genocide petition. It said in part: “…The oppressed Negro citizens, segregated, discriminated against and long the target of violence, suffer from genocide as the result of the consistent, conscious, unified policies of every branch of government.”
The petition specified that It is sometimes incorrectly thought that genocide means the complete and definitive destruction of a race or people. The Genocide Convention, however, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, defines genocide to include any intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, racial, ethnic, or religious group. Thus, the Convention states, “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group,” is genocide as well as “killing members of the group”. I was surprised to find that a section of the historic petition addresses:
“the cruel and inhuman policy of this government toward the people of Puerto Rico, the wanton exploitation and oppression by gigantic American concerns, through merciless frame-up and imprisonment of hundreds of its sons and daughters, this colony of the rulers of the United States reveals the moral bankruptcy of this government and those who control its home and foreign policies.
“History has shown that the racist theory of government of the USA is not the private affair of Americans, but the concern of mankind everywhere.” These are the words of the petition. I would add that the fact that hundreds of thousands are forced to leave their homes, because conditions are intolerable, that in itself is a form of genocide. The UN Special Committee on Decolonization has for many years placed Puerto Rican Independence and self-determination on the agenda of the UN.
Capitalism is not restorative and will not relinquish colonialism unless we fight with urgency and bold actions of mass struggle that can thwart the colonialist schemes. We should take up the issue of UN involvement into the situation in Puerto Rico as a result of the hurricanes and their aftermath.
We should kick off a nationwide campaign to demand our cities and public institutions divest from Puerto Rico’s creditors.
Last week activists at Yale demanded that the university stop investing in one of Puerto Rico’s biggest creditors. The group Hedge Clippers protests large companies that they say are trying to profit off Puerto Rico’s troubles. Activist Julio Lopez Varona says that Yale is investing in the Baupost Group, that demands the island settle its debts. “The pattern of investors in Puerto Rico over the last ten years has been a pattern of you give Puerto Rico terrible debt, you push Puerto Rico to pay and when Puerto Rico cannot pay, they push terrible austerity measures.”
Activists sent letters to 13 universities asking them to divest from Puerto Rico’s creditors last fall. In New York City, through a long divestiture campaign and actions, we saw that pressure resulted in New York City beginning to divest from the fossil fuel industry.
“Paradise Performs” is the tagline today of the Department of Economic Development to encourage corporations in Puerto Rico.
The Communist Party has a long history of condemning colonialist plunder in Puerto Rico. William Z. Foster reported three quarters of century ago on a visit to the island’s impoverished areas. He wrote, ”I saw sights and heard stories of extreme poverty that will stay with me forever until my dying day. I burned with shame that such outrageous conditions exist in Puerto Rico and are caused by us.” Nearly 75 years later people again have no water, no light, infestations that threaten health and life of children and families. From its inception colonialism has meant that U.S. government agencies control all political, economic and social activities.
The U.S. Congress exercises exclusive jurisdiction over Puerto Rico’s foreign relations, citizenship, travel, armed forces, military recruitment, foreign commerce, customs, transportation, exchange notes, post offices, radio, television, bankruptcy proceedings, patents, quarantine laws, and the administration of courts.sssssss US -appointed agencies can prohibit the entry of any product into Puerto Rico. They regulate sea and air transportation. All sea traffic must be in United States-owned ships, this is the Jones Act – the law that impedes relief to Puerto Rico and has kept the cost of living high due to the exorbitant cost of shipping goods to the island. Neighboring Caribbean countries could not send aid after the hurricanes; Dominican Republic, Cuba, Latin American countries offering desperately needed help and prevented by the laws of the colonialist power.
The struggle against colonialism in Puerto Rico has been a movement for independence and self-determination. For decades Puerto Ricans have marched, picketed, organized labor strikes, university sit-ins and shut-downs, boycotted, demonstrated, testified, petitioned, rallied and protested, they have been arrested, been beaten, imprisoned, tortured, gone on hunger strikes, shot at and murdered. This is the legacy of the martyrs and heroes of the resistance, among whom is Oscar Lopez Rivera, political prisoner with his sentence commuted by President Obama after imprisonment for 35 years. Oscar Lopez Rivera is living in Puerto Rico and traveling widely as international voice of the people. Colonial oppression intensified by environmental disaster led to the mass exodus of hurricane refugees.
As conditions worsen, families are displaced, forced to migrate to the U.S. mainland, starting life over from zero – facing further hardships as hurricane refugees in hotels. Cities have made educational accommodations in classrooms, but housing is a continuing crisis– families moving several times from homeless shelter hotels, to relatives’ homes.
Maria destroyed around 75,000 houses and damaged around 300,000 others. The deadline set by FEMA to cut housing aid is March 20,2018. People don’t know where they will go, homeless hotels say there is no room. Even in cities like New York, were schools have taken measures to assist children, the education is disrupted throughout the school year attending multiple schools.
Many young people have been recruited and sought employment in the Midwest. One young woman, a university student when the hurricane struck, and whose story appeared in the Washington Post, accepted a job from a recruiter in Kentucky – in a poultry processing plant. Long hours with no benefits and low wages. The company pays the airfare and housing and then garners the wages for repayment: super exploitation and modern day indentured servitude.
When hurricanes Irma and Harvey devastated parts of Florida and Texas, federal aid and resources poured in with reasonable efficiency. The FEMA response made a major difference, but after Irma hit Puerto Rico, Trump harped on debts as a pretext for not sending aid. The full force of the military could have been used for air-dropping food and water, for setting up temporary towers for communication. Instead, as people struggled and set up makeshift water-pipe hookups, drank from streams and rivers, the presence of the military was more of a message than a massive force for help … more of a show of force than of aid. A message from the oppressor that you can be resilient, but not revolutionary.
“There is ethnic cleansing in Puerto Rico,” charged activist Harvey Wasserman. “Not enough food, water, medicine and medical care. People dying in hospitals Why? Because they are black and brown people who speak another language. While the GOP tax bill gives the rich a $1.5 trillion tax cut, Republicans do not want to spend $90 billion rebuilding the Caribbean,” he said.
FEMA was due to shut down, but the public outcry forced them to extend, “But from the beginning, says Yulin Cruz, “they were asking people to apply for aid online … people without electricity. They kept asking for memo after memo to be written as a prerequisite for aid. It was as if this were the first disaster they had ever encountered.” People stopped hoping “’they’re coming to help’. They realized ‘they were coming to control us”.
As the exodus of refugees continues, it creates a billionaire’s playground and converts the island into a billionaire’s paradise-ethnic cleansing for the super-rich.
The Pentagon expropriated lands
In Vieques, for 60 years the U.S. Navy used the small island as a bombing range and military training, contaminating the island with toxic chemicals, Agent Orange and causing a health crisis. The US peace movement and climate action supported the struggle of Puerto Rico and the military was forced to withdraw.
Events like the Washington, DC Puerto Rican solidarity roundtable being planned for March with activist brothers and sisters in the movement can raise public consciousness about colonialism – when Maria struck, half of the American population did not even know that Puerto Ricans are American citizens. As well, these actions and connections can help grow the Party.
We can play a unifying role – bring Puerto Rico solidarity work into our work in the labor movement, the peace movement, climate action movement, international liberation and solidarity movements. Dock workers played a pivotal role in anti-apartheid struggles when they refused to unload ships. There are Puerto Rican workers in the ILWU in Florida, where the international cargo for Puerto Rico is unloaded and then reloaded on US ships. Including a leader in the union in Puerto Rico and a comrade in the ILWU in Philadelphia. How can we contribute to build class consciousness and Puerto Rico solidarity among the ILWU membership and pressure union leadership?
The actions we are taking in support of the Teacher’s Union Federation is having an impact in terms of the educational and humanitarian crisis. YCLer’s took a leadership role in the Party and movement to establish close ties with the teachers’ union in Puerto Rico. They subsequently formed the Solidarity Campaign that is sending school supplies directly to the union to benefit 2,000 public school students.
Bold, consistent actions to support Puerto Rico can help to create a tipping point in the resistance, turn the tide and force the hand of big business and result in tangible relief and changes for Puerto Ricans on the island and the refugee population. Puerto Rico solidarity events take place almost daily throughout the country.
In Connecticut, Puerto Rican Rally and Lobby Day will take place at the State Capitol. Comrades there have been working with the CT Puerto Rican Agenda, Make the Road CT and allies and supporters in the community as well as social media to ensure participation in large numbers. A resolution requested and approved by the Brooklyn Progressive Action Network was written by comrades, highlighting our common class enemies in the struggle of working-class New Yorkers and the Puerto Rican people.
The decisiveness of this moment is evident, when you consider that today even the hedge fund vultures are now in competition with a whole new breed of virtual finance vultures, looking to create on the island what they are calling a cryptoutopia – a new city where money is virtual. They call themselves PuertoUtopians –These crypto currency vultures had been searching for a location and after Maria decimated Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and cryptocurrency prices began to soar, they saw their opportunity to build their “paradise.”
They take over hotels, a children’s museum in Old San Juan to set up the first cryptocurrency bank. Literally start a city in Puerto Rico to have their own cryptoworld, describing themselves as “benevolent capitalists.” Because it is in essence a Ponzi scheme, what started as bitcoin using laptops now requires huge and ever-increasing amounts of electricity to operate on ever increasing networks of computers, depleting the energy resources of the island. The bitcoin mining network now consumes more electricity than 159 countries of the world. “Puerto Rico has been a hidden gem,” says the director of bitcoin and now founder of a start-up which owns a custom virtual currency whose value of tokens is around $6.5 billion – he has ties to Steve Bannon and has been sued for fraud. Yet, the Puerto Rican Department of Economic Development and Governor Rosello is set to speak in March at a Puerto Crypto summit .
Puerto crypto’s compete with hedge fund managers to buy up hundreds of thousands of acres, like modern day robber barons. “We are the tax playground for the rich “says Andria Satz, of the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico. “Outsiders get tax exemptions and locals can’t get permits.”
Under the umbrella of a “Just Recovery and Relief Aid Package for Puerto Rico”, grassroots leadership on the island has developed a set of demands in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. We should support the call for massive funding to deal with the deadly shortages of water, food, medicine and other basic needs. In addition, support the demands in the full “Just Recovery and Relief Aid Package” that would put the island on a path toward regenerative energy, economic democracy, food sovereignty, control over land use, and community autonomy, as delineated in conjunction with the Climate Action Alliance.
Support for Puerto Rico is part of the resistance movement and we have to frame it as such in our political work. We have to fight for Puerto Rico and fight to win. I’d like to end with Mayor Yulin Cruz quoting Rosa Parks, “The more we obeyed, the worse they treated us.”
Image: Wikipedia Commons
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“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development … you have failed to contain Russia,” he said.
He accused the West of “ignoring us. Nobody listened to us. Well listen to us now.”
Other new weapons include the Avangard — an intercontinental hypersonic missile that would fly to targets at a speed 20 times the speed of sound — and a weapons system called Kinzhal, already deployed in southern Russia, that uses hypersonic missiles that can strike targets 1,250 miles away.
Putin insisted Russia had “no plans to be an aggressor.”
“We are not going to take anything away from anybody. We have everything we need,” he said. “Russia’s strong military is a guarantor of peace on our planet.”
Prime Minister Gaston Browne (L) and Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart
ST JOHN’S, Antigua — In the latest in a series of articles vilifying Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne and his government, the Jamaica Observer ran yet another “story” on Tuesday (after last weekend’s announcement of early general elections on March 21) replete with false claims and assertions.
Given that the Observer is owned by Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, who also owns Sandals Resorts International (SRI), with whom Brown has been engaged in a long-running battle over the nonpayment of taxes owed to the government, the newspaper is clearly acting as Stewart’s mouthpiece in yet another attempt to meddle in regional elections.
Regional commentator, Melanius Alphonse, who first raised the issue in October last year in an op-ed piece entitled “Is Butch Stewart hacking regional elections… again?” responded to the latest Observer article, saying, “Democracy and the rule of law are severely threatened when Stewart manipulates a newspaper he owns for his narrow, selfish, financial ends.”
Specifically, the Observer claims, without any supporting evidence, that “Browne’s Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) is rapidly losing popularity among voters, having nothing to show after almost four years in office – during which he famously antagonised investors in the country.”
In reality, a recent CADRES poll has Browne as the most popular leader of a political party and the ABLP comfortably retaining power.
Furthermore, when the Observer refers to “investors”, this is merely a pseudonym for Sandals, which is “antagonised because Brown has insisted that Stewart and his resort group start paying Antigua and Barbuda Sales tax (ABST), the nonpayment of which Browne has described as an all out theft by Sandals and Stewart.
Furthermore, Browne has been outspoken in his criticism of the Sandals’ all-inclusive resort model, calling it instead the “all exclusive” model because what it does is exclude everyone but the owners.
“So it is more of an all exclusive model because they just don’t support the local economy. We have, for example, hoteliers who are involved with backward and forward integration, so they won’t buy the local rum; in some instances it is not even the local water that they’ll buy, they produce their own water,” Browne told Caribbean News Now in an interview last year.
Especially revealing in this respect was a demand by Sandals to import 75 so-called limousines duty- and tax-free, which Browne rejected because Sandals refused to include local stakeholders in the purchase and operation of the vehicles.
“I think that is a most disempowering act. In other words, nobody else must live but them. As I said, it’s all exclusive, not all inclusive,” he pointed out.
Interestingly, a similar demand made by Sandals was accepted without demur by the government of Saint Lucia although, according to audio material obtained by Caribbean News Now, a deliberate effort to disguise the extent of the agreement with Sandals was later employed. [More on the close relationship between Stewart and Saint Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet in a future article.]
The Observer’s claim that “Browne’s scorched earth policy has succeeded in driving out investors” also has absolutely no basis in reality, except by reading “investors” as “Sandals”, which in July 2017 indeed closed down its Antigua property “for maintenance purposes” without forewarning to the government or the employees of Sandals and left guests who booked their vacations without a destination and with no meaningful explanation.
In actual fact, as Alphonse points out, new housing projects are ongoing, the port redevelopment has commenced, new hotels planned, and infrastructure development is underway, all representing billions of dollars of new investment in Antigua and Barbuda.
The Observer also resurrects false and thoroughly debunked accusations against Browne in relation to “Brazilian construction firm, Odebrecht, which has been alleged to bribe numerous heads of government in Latin America to cover up or facilitate money laundering activities.”
At the time, Browne described the accusations as not only false, but demonstrably false, and they were later retracted by the media outlets that carried them without first substantiating their truth.
Unsurprisingly, the Observer does not mention similar proven accusations against Sandals and Stewart and especially that, in early 2013, Sandals was forced to pay US$12 million to the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) government to avoid criminal prosecution and/or admission of civil liability in relation to unspecified wrongdoing.
Furthermore, in November 2011, The Tribune newspaper in The Bahamas revealed the existence of an investigation conducted by US government officials into the wire transfer of funds totaling some $1.65 million from accounts belonging to SRI into the hands of former TCI premier Michael Misick and his political party, using his brothers’ firms. One million dollars of the funds from Sandals was reportedly used to pay debts and obligations of Misick himself.
According to intelligence sources in London, the questionable relationship between Sandals and successive TCI governments is likely to be the subject of a new investigation by the British government, given persistent reports that Stewart may have contributed (possibly illegally, given the TCI’s fairly strict campaign finance laws) to the election campaign of the current government in the British territory.
The relationship between Stewart and the current TCI premier, Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, will also be examined in future articles, along with the involvement in the last election in the TCI of Saint Lucia Prime Minister Chastanet, as a proxy for Stewart, flying in on his (Stewart’s) private plane on several occasions to support the election campaign for Cartwright-Robinson’s Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).
When, on the 5th of March 2013, the great and heroic Commander Hugo Chavez passed off this mortal coil,the people of Venezuela lost a “father” of their nation; the people of Latin America lost an “architect” of their Civilization; the people of the Caribbean lost one of their most sincere friends and benefactors; the people of the so-called Third World lost their preeminent freedom-fighter; and the people of the world lost a legendary humanist, a veritable lover of human-kind!
Hugo Chavez burst on the scene in the early 1990’s at a time when Venezuela, and literally the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean was in the debilitating and degrading clutches of a seemingly rampant United States and Western European neo-liberal, imperialist system.
And this young army officer responded by consciously taking upon himself the mission of completing the revolution that the great liberator, Simon Bolivar, had embarked upon two hundred years earlier!
As a result, Chavez set out to unify Latin America and to secure its sovereignty and independence; to resurrect Latin American nationalism and to augment it with a 21st century brand of Socialism that would equip it to uplift and empower the hitherto marginalized components of the Latin American population; to nationalize Venezuela’s vast petroleum resources and to put them to work on behalf of the poor and the disenfranchised; to construct Third World solidarity and concrete South:South cooperation; to develop a new anti-capitalist and humanist approach to international relations; to righteously and aggressively confront “Imperialism” where ever and whenever it raised its ugly head; and — most importantly for us in the Caribbean– to build a bridge of friendship and mutual respect between Latin America and the Caribbean.
AND, AS AMBITIOUS AS THIS AGENDA WAS AND IS , THE AMAZING THING IS THAT CHAVEZ SUCCEEDED!
Concrete evidence of his success can be found in the current elevated levels of literally all of Venezuela’s social indicators as compared with the pre-Chavez years; in the fact that during the “Chavez era” a very significant number of Socialist and Nationalist political parties and movements came to power in Latin American countries ranging from Argentina in the south of the continent to Nicaragua in the north; in the existence of the Bolivarian Alliance of The Americas (ALBA), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Africa-South America Summit, the Petro-Caribe Energy Cooperation Agreement, the Bank of the South (Bancosur), the Television Network of the South (Telesur), and the list goes on and on.
Additional evidence can also be found in the intangible quality of hope and optimism that Hugo Chavez inspired in hundreds of millions of breasts all across the globe— hope that a different and better world was indeed possible; hope that the noble, life-affirming political philosophy of Socialism would have a new lease on life in the 21st century; hope that men and women of good-will could reach across boundaries of race, gender and nationality and embrace each other as brothers and sisters, as members of a unique and sacred human family.
And for us in the islands of the Caribbean– what type of future would we have had if Chavez had not played a critical role in mobilizing opposition to the devastating “Free Trade Area of the Americas” (FTAA) that US imperialism was poised to impose upon our nations ? Indeed, it was Chavez, more than any one else, who played the key role in defeating the “beggar thy neighbor” FTAA and substituting the alternative “prosper thy neighbor” ALBA for it !
Furthermore, how would our vulnerable Caribbean island economies have stayed afloat in the terrible years of international economic crisis between 2008 and 2012 were it not for the Petro Caribe lifeline that Chavez threw out to all and sundry across the Caribbean sea?
The evidence is clear for all to see that Hugo Chavez was one of the greatest and most genuine friends that our Caribbean region has ever had !
Hugo Chavez Frias may have died at the relatively young age of 58 years, but what a blazing, illuminating, enlivening and ennobling impact he had in that short life-span! He gave of himself— nay— he spent himself in the service of his Venezuelan country-men and women; in the service of his beloved Latin America and the Caribbean region; and in the service of a battered and bruised humanity.
By his brilliant and sacrificial living he has changed the world, and he will never be forgotten!
Clement Payne Movement
International Network In Defense of Humanity
by Bongo on behalf of Jamaica Peace Council (JPC)
To put it mildly, the US empire and the local oligarchy in Venezuela are unhappy with the anti-imperialist revolution that has been unfolding in that South American country since 1998 with the election of Hugo Chavez as President.
As a sovereign country Venezuela, previously under President Chavez and now under President Maduro has exercised control over its resources particularly its petroleum resources with the explicit purpose of using its proceeds to benefit its population particularly its poorest citizens.
In this regard, President Chavez nationalized the oil fields of his country in 2007 with compensation to the multinational oil companies like Exxon, BP and others that have made tens of billions of dollars at the expense of the people of Venezuela for decades prior to the revolution.
However, the compensation was based on the book value as opposed to the market value of the assets of these companies.For example, the book value of Exxon’s assets was $1 billion whereas its market value was $10 billion. The courts sided with Chavez’s compensation based on Exxon’s book value of $1 billion. So Exxon Mobil got $1 billion for its assets in Venezuela at that time in keeping with the book value compensation to all the other oil companies.
Interestingly, it was the current US Secretary of State, Mr. Tillerson who was the Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil during that battle that he lost with the Venezuelan revolution to receive the market value of his corporation’s assets as his desired compensation. Indeed, it’s important to note that among the multinational oil companies, Exxon Mobil under Tillerson’s leadership was the only one which resisted to accept the book value compensation for its assets to the very end.
The latter is significant because as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson launched his recent sojourn to five (5) right wing regimes in Latin America including Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Jamaica in the Caribbean with a speech at his Alma Meter, the University of Texas in which he openly encouraged “a military coup” against the sovereign government of President Maduro.
Secretary of State Tillerson’s message was understandably indistinct from that of the US empire throughout his trip to the governments of the cited countries, namely, his promotion of and encouragement of “a military coup” against the constitutionally elected and sovereign government of President Maduro.
Why does Secretary of State Tillerson and the US empire that he represents are so actively co-opting the cited five (5) governments to achieve one of its most important geopolitical goals , namely, the overthrow of the sovereign and elected government of Venezuela?
Is there a relationship between the loss to Secretary of State Tillerson’s of $9 billion as the CEO of Exxon Mobil for the market value of his company due to the nationalization of Venezuela’s oil fields by President Chavez and his revengeful promotion and encouragement of ‘a military coup” against the elected government of President of Maduro?
Why would the right wing governments in Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Jamaica who are presumably sovereign governments sell their souls to the US empire to collaborate in the overthrow of the sovereign and democratically elected government of President Maduro?
Where is the shame and the manhood of presidents Enrique Pena Nieto (Mexico), Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (Peru), Mauricio Macri (Argentina), Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia) and Prime Minister Andrew Holness (Jamaica)given their willingness to serve as the geopolitical lapdogs for the US empire against Venezuela, a fellow Latin American country, whose “only crime”is to exercise its sovereignty over its resources and to pursue an independent domestic and foreign policy instead of shamefully only talking about it as the lapdogs do?
The Bolivarian revolution needs peace and stability to grow and develop so as to deepen the tentacles of the revolution through the delivery of more education, more health care services, more housing, more jobs, more roads, highways, running water and other infrastructure to serve the people as well as private, public and cooperative businesses in all spheres of the society.
Further, the Venezuelan people, all of them including those who for whatever reasons support the right-wing opposition need peace and stability not chaos and instability to address the serious economic, social and political challenges such as hyperinflation, currency manipulation, the US sanctions, crime and the medium to long term diversity of the economy among others that are facing their country.
The fact is that despite the political divisions among Venezuelans, their country remains a sovereign nation and they are a sovereign people who should be allowed to resolve their internal differences by themselves and at their pace with NO foreign interference.
Clearly, none of the aforementioned problems can be resolved in a state of civil war among Venezuelans and with the local oligarchy and their imperial masters having political and economic power over the people.
The primary reason for the latter claim is a simple empirical fact that unfortunately is too often lost or minimized in the many discourses about the unfolding revolution in Venezuela. That simple fact is that the oligarchy and imperialism have had power in Venezuela for decades indeed centuries though they have failed miserably to address the problems of the working people and the poor in the country. They had centuries or at least decades to mobilize the country’s resources including its petrol-dollars and tax dollars to build schools and teach the illiterates to read and write, to build hospitals and doctors to serve the people, to provide scholarships for the children of workers and the forgotten poor to study, housing for those who for decades lived in shovels in the shantytowns of Caracas and other cities even when the country earned billions of dollars from its oil exports.
Where did those hundreds of billions of dollars go? How many billions went into US banks? How many billions into French, Swiss and other Western capitalist banks? How many corrupted Venezuelan politicians and other state functionaries became multi-millionaires and billionaires while their people particularly the super-poor languish in unacceptable levels of misery and poverty in the pre-Chavez-Maduro era?
Why were the right-wing “lovers of freedom and democracy” in the region not tried to overthrow the bourgeois governments of the country during that epoch before Chavez-Maduro when tens of millions of Venezuelans lived and died in poverty, had no shelter, no health care services no education and other basic human rights?
Why weren’t the imperial presidents of the USA threatening the governments of Venezuela at the time to remove them from power as they did with the constitutionally elected President Chavez and now with the constitutionally elected President Maduro?
Why weren’t there any artificially created shortages of foods, toilet tissue, cooking oil, toothpaste, sanitary napkins and a range of other consumer items by the merchants to punish the people at that time? Why didn’t the US presidents at the time impose economic sanctions and travel bans on the pro-capitalist, pre-Chavez-Maduro leaders of Venezuela?
Clearly, the referenced questions are rhetorical in nature since the answers are stunningly obvious, namely, the pre-Chavez-Maduro governments were pro-status quo and favored the rich, the super-rich, the oligarchy and imperialism against the vast majority of working and poor Venezuelans.
Consequently, those who wielded power inside and outside the Bolivarian country were at peace with the exploitation and abuses meted out to ordinary Venezuelans. They were at peace and wanted stability for the domination of foreign corporations in their country.
These bastards celebrated the underdevelopment and poverty that the dependent capitalism foisted on their country by imperialism fostered for decades until Hugo Chavez was overwhelmingly elected president of the country in 1998.
Since those historic elections the political balance of power shifted against the former ruling classes in Venezuela and policy actions began to be adopted decisively in the interests of those Venezuelans who were ignored and neglected by the oligarchy and imperialism. That’s why the forces of the old Venezuela declared war on the new Venezuela led initially by Chavez and now by Maduro.
President Maduro is firmly carrying on the Bolivarian revolution though under even more challenging circumstances than his comrade predecessor Chavez faced. For example, the significant decline in petroleum price on the global market which has multiple implications for the growth and development of the country did not obtain under Chavez’s presidency.
Some of these implications include the pace of investment in the various sectors of the economy, the growth of its foreign reserves, the stability of its currency, the country’s ability to import foods and other consumer goods, medicines, spare parts, fertilizers among others.
Critically, the comparatively low world price for oil as well as the mounting sanctions from the Trump administration also will slow down one of the paramount challenges of the revolution namely, the diversification of the economy away from petroleum.
For example, there are no credible reasons to believe that Venezuela could not have a striving agricultural sector, a viable industrial sector and a strong tourist sector instead of the persistent dominant reliance on oil exports.
However, the diversification of the economy must also necessarily involve renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, thermal and others to simultaneously protect the climate that the production of fossil fuels has destroyed for decades in Venezuela and the globe but also to minimize the effects of climate change on its economy and people.There is no doubt that the political leadership of the revolution recognizes the imperative of making this transition from a fossil fuel based economy to a more diversified one. In fact Hugo Chavez gave a speech about it at the UN in which he said that the producers and consumers of fossil fuels must get together to wean the world economy off fossil fuels which are so destructive. However, not much if anything has been done to diversify the economy in that direction throughout his presidency and even now under President Maduro.
It seems clear that the diversification of the Venezuelan economy has to be a priority not only for the reasons stated above but also to minimize the vulnerability of the economy to the oil embargoes and other punitive measures of the US empire.
In closing, it should be clear that given the multiple challenges confronting the Bolivarian revolution, the very last thing the people of Venezuela and their revolution need is “a military coup” that is being promoted by Secretary of State Tillerson and the shameless lapdog governments of Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Jamaica. Those in the so-called “ Lima Group” have even declared that the sovereign President of Venezuela is not welcomed to the Lima Summit in Peru in another of their undignified service as lapdogs to the US empire.
Thus, instead of promoting “military coup”and economic and social destabilization and the attempts to isolate Venezuela diplomatically by the “Lima Group” and the OAS, if the US Secretary of State and the US empire truly believe in elections and democracy as the way forward to promote peace and stability in the embattled South American country, they should be strongly promoting the elections that, Nicholas Maduro, the elected president of Venezuela has scheduled for April 22nd 2018.
However, it appears patently clear that the reasons why the US empire and its lapdogs are already discrediting the legitimacy of the scheduled elections and are in fact rejecting its results even prior to the elections are held are two fold.
First, they are well aware that the pro-US right-wing political parties in Venezuela are in political and organizational disarray and are unlikely to win the elections in April. Second, they are scared to death that Maduro’s socialist party is in an advantageous position to win the elections that would provide Maduro’s party with another six (6) years to consolidate power and make the changes such as the diversification of the economy though under difficulty conditions that would potentially reduce the chances of the empire and the oligarchy to compete electorally to win back the government in the near future.
As such, the empire and its allies inside and outside of Venezuela are planning for extra-electoral actions such as “military coup” and even military invasion from neighboring countries.
Hands off Venezuela Secretary Tillerson!
Hands off Venezuela President Trump!
Viva la Paz en Venezuela!
Viva la Revolucion en Venezuela!
Viva el pueblo Venezuelano!
“You never know what is possible until you fight for what is desirable”Michael Lerner
Hands off Venezuela Rexxon and Exxon!! Sovereignty by Bongo
For the sake of their dignity the people of Bolivar are making a revolution,
They refuse to be on bended knees to beg for crumbs from those who steal their wealth,
For freedom they fight to feed themselves to be free of parasites,
For freedom they fight to be sovereign in the land of Bolivar and Chavez,
For freedom they fight like soldiers do to defend their land from the bigots of their freedom,
For freedom they fight to live in peace,
For life they fight to live that right,
For life they fight to be free,
For freedom they fight to rid themselves of empire’s rule,
For dignity they live to be free,
For freedom they fight for their right to be free,
For justice they fight to live in peace,
For justice they fight to slay injustice,
For sovereignty they fight against Rexxon’s plea for coup,
They will keep fighting in Bolivar’s name to light the path that freedom blaze,
For survival they will keep fighting with the stoic spirits of Hugo and Fidel so deeply etched in their will to win against the empire,
Their flames 🔥 of freedom are out of control and the empire’s water only ignite their flames 🔥
Their burning flames 🔥 for their sovereign land only egg on their tired soldiers to fight against Rexxon’s coup plan,
They shout in louder voices vibrating with grit in unison with Maduro to defeat the empire’s plans!!
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba energetically rejects the announcement by a group of nations in the hemisphere, released February 13 in Lima, that constitutes unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of the Bolivarian Republic de Venezuela, and at the same time categorically rejects the decision to reconsider the participation of the Venezuelan government in the 8th Summit of the Americas, to be held this coming month of April, in Peru.
A few days ago, the U.S. Secretary of State, on a tour of several countries in the region, stated that continuing in effect is the Monroe Doctrine, the most notorious interventionist policy of U.S. imperialism in our region. He called for a military coup against the constitutional government of Venezuela and advocated strengthening sanctions on the country. The decision adopted is not unrelated to these declarations and actions.
In this context, Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalls the arbitrary and aggressive U.S. Executive Order, renewed in January of 2017, that describes Venezuela as “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy” of the superpower, and President Donald Trump’s most recent warning about utilizing “a possible military option, if necessary.”
It is unprecedented and incredible that now being used as a pretext is an alleged “unconstitutional rupture of the democratic order,” precisely in a country which has held, within a few months time, municipal, regional, and Constituent Assembly elections, and has just called Presidential elections, precisely as has been demanded, including via external interference and unconstitutional, violent methods.
Cuba denounces this statement and the exclusion of Venezuela from the Summit of the Americas as contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by heads of state and government of countries which are members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirms Cuba’s unwavering solidarity with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the military-civic union of its people, led by constitutional President Nicolás Maduro Moros.
Absolutely relevant are the words of Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, on July 14, 2017, when he said, “Aggression and coup violence against Venezuela hurt all of Our America and only benefit the interests of those who attempt to divide us, in order to assert their dominance over our peoples, regardless of the incalculable consequences for the region, like those we are witnessing in different parts of the world. We warn those who today attempt to overthrow the Bolivarian Chavista revolution, using unconstitutional, violent, coup-plotting methods, that they are assuming a serious, responsibility before history.”
Havana, February 14, 2018
At this link you will find videos of presentations at the Conference Against U.S. Foreign Military which was held in Baltimore, USA held January 12-14, 2018.
FYI: There are approximately 73 US military bases in Latin America and the Caribbean, and about 13 of them located near to Venezuela.
By Michael Heslop
The article entitled “Stop the Illegal Guns and Ammunitions Coming Into Jamaica” written by Mr.Johnson accurately identifies the primary source of most of the guns and bullets flowing into Jamaica to be USA even when these deadly weapons arrive into our country from third countries.
Indeed, the evidence that the US is the primary source of these deadly weapons that over the years have killed and maimed and continue to kill and maim thousands of Jamaicans is confirmed by the periodic staches of these weapons that are captured by the island’s port officials.
The flow of guns and bullets from the shores of the US also requires strategic thinking and lobbying action not only by the Jamaica Peace Council (JPC) and other national groups like the PSOJ but importantly on the part of the Jamaican government as well.
The fact is that Jamaica does not produce guns and bullets yet gun crime and violence and the resulting murder rate are escalating out of control.
As a matter of fact, Jamaica is currently ranked at 6th among the 25 countries with the highest murder rate in the world with a 39.3% per 100,000 homicides per year.
It is for the foregoing reasons that the JPC, the PSOJ and the Jamaican government are required to seriously formulate strategies to lobby the US lawmakers and the the advocates for gun control legislation to hopefully assist us at least in the short to medium term to stem the flow of these deadly weapons into our country.
The urgency for the government, the JPC and the PSOJ to form common alliances to address the flow of these weapons into our country is vital for several reasons.
First, albeit for the short to medium term such collaboration is of paramount importance to stem the flow of these weapons to begin to abate the rapidly escalating crime and violence in our country. The fact is that without actions to stem the flow of these deadly weapons there will be no way to even dent the current wave of crime and violence.
Hopefully, though its prospects with the Trump administration is highly doubtful, it can only be hoped that PM Holness would have forcefully raised the flow of these weapons with Mr. Trump’s emissary, Mr.Tillerson on his mission to promote a “military coup” against the Venezuelan government.
Second, such collaboration is also important to aggressively combat the drug trafficking and money laundering problems afflicting our country. The latter problems are not only related to the massive flow of these deadly weapons that are used to fight for drug turfs and payment of drug debts but like the crime and violence that they perpetuate, they also contribute to the social, cultural, economic and political instability of our country.
Furthermore, not only are the escalating crime and violence, drug trafficking and money laundering destabilizing the country by themselves but they also have negative impacts on the economy in terms of domestic and the already relatively small foreign investment particularly in the tourist sector.
Which investor, local or foreign , ,would want to invest in a country where crime and violence not only potentially threatens his/her wellbeing and that of his her/her family as well as the wellbeing of their workers?
Which tourist or investor in the tourist sector is willing to risk visiting or investing in a country where going for a walk off the property of an all inclusive hotel or any resort or going to seal a deal with a contractor or a banker to expand an investment in a hotel or to establish a new hotel could pose risk to their lives?
Consequently, it is increasingly clear that the Jamaican government, JPC, PSOJ and other social groups must rally together as a matter of necessity united under a common short to medium term plan to bring the crime and violence under control as a matter of priority for our nation.
This short to medium term plan needs to have at least four (4) multidimensional components. First, to invest resources in the intelligence agencies of the security forces to aggressively but creatively penetrate the gangs and those connected to them to get information not only about their locations, movements and gun connections in the US and elsewhere but also the location of their weapons. Clearly, the latter will be no easy pursuit but life itself is not an easy pursuit though life continues despite its many challenges.
Fighting the current wave of crime and violence in Jamaica is in some ways, a challenge for our very survival as a people thus we have no option but to fight it with all the smarts we can muster. Secondly, the security forces too will have to take a smarter approach to fighting crime as clearly the previous approaches of killing and brutalizing criminals have not worked as evidenced by the worsening wave of crime and violence in the country. The security forces despite the pronouncements of Mr. Renata Adams and his supporters among the population will never be able to kill or brutalize its way to peace in the country. There is no evidence for the efficacy of this approach to crime fighting no where in the world and Jamaica is not and will never be the exception to that rule.
Presumably, if the intelligence agencies of the security forces provide them with accurate and timely information about the criminal gangs, their locations ,movements, weapons etc. there should be minimal use of unwarranted force in capturing, jailing and confiscating their weapons. Third, as previously stated, there is an urgent need for the Jamaican government, the JOC, PSOJ and several other mass organizations of our people to aggressively lobby the US Congress and US advocacy groups in support of gun control legislation to take actions to stem the flow of these deadly weapons into our country in order to save lives and bring stability to our country as a burning priority.
Finally, to effectively fight crime and violence any short to medium term plan must necessarily include a development plan. The reason is that crime fighting itself is a developmental or a multidimensional challenge in all spheres of life economic, social, political, psychological, cultural among others that play a role in the causation of crime and violence.
Consequently, those same multidimensional causes of crime and violence will inevitably have to play a role in curbing and eventually eliminating the material basis for crime and violence as a threat to our people and society.
However, it is necessary to underscore that all the foregoing measures as important and necessary as they are to abate the current rising wave of crime and violence in Jamaica in the short and medium term are not capable of ending the multidimensional root causes for crime and violence.
That is because the real reasons for the persistence of crime and violence in Jamaica and elsewhere in the region are rooted in the systemic logic and character of capitalism and imperialism in putting profits before people.
Thus that logic of capitalism including dependent capitalism which is the dominant type of capitalism in Jamaica and the Caribbean is precisely the fundamental reason that explains the inadequacy of opportunities for the majority of Jamaicans and Caribbean people.
The fact is that the capitalist accumulation process defines the very core of the ways in which capitalists cream off the surpluses (profits) that are created by working people to expand their wealth and improve their welfare which suppress the expansion of opportunities for working people and youths. Many of the latter groups desperate for opportunities to survive end up in criminal activities. As such until the capitalist system itself is uprooted crime and violence will persist because capitalism is systemically unable to create opportunities for those that it currently maintains in a state of material dispossession.
Groups advocating stricter gun laws are organising Americans who want to channel anger into action after the deadly Florida school shooting.
Everytown for Gun Safety says it has received $800,000 in unsolicited donations since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It calls it a precursor for midterm elections in 2018, which it hopes will turn the tide in gun politics.
John Feinblatt, president of the Everytown group, says: “It’s time to elect leaders who will finally act to save lives from gun violence”.
The five-point action plan includes pledging to vote according to candidates’ positions on gun safety, letting leaders know the money they’ve taken from the National Rifle Association will determine one’s vote, registering friends to vote, getting candidates to state their conditions on the record, and finally, running for office to become a champion for sensible gun laws.
Shannon Watts, who founded the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said: “Many of our lawmakers have failed us, but that’s why we have elections.”
This is a riveting and informative interview that explains the development of the Black Panther Party and its positive role in organizing black communities to overcome the problems they faced. The video that follows explains the use of counterintelligence in framing black leaders and promoting crime and violence. In the third video Sekou Odingo talks about Tupac, the Shakur family, Malcolm X and other black leaders.
The Black Panther Ten-Point Program
- We Want Freedom. We Want Power To Determine
The Destiny Of Our Black Community.
We believe that Black people will not be free until we are able to determine our destiny.
- We Want Full Employment For Our People.
We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every man employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the White American businessmen will not give full employment, then the means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.
- We Want An End To The Robbery By The Capitalists Of Our Black Community.
We believe that this racist government has robbed us, and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules were promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The Germans are now aiding the Jews in Israel for the genocide of the Jewish people. The Germans murdered six million Jews. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of over fifty million Black people; therefore, we feel that this is a modest demand that we make.
- We Want Decent Housing Fit For The Shelter Of Human Beings.
We believe that if the White Landlords will not give decent housing to our Black community, then the housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that our community, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for its people.
- We Want Education For Our People That ExposesThe True Nature Of This Decadent American Society./We Want Education That Teaches Us Our True History And Our Role In The Present-Day Society.
We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.
- We Want All Black Men To Be Exempt From Military Service.
We believe that Black people should not be forced to fight in the military service to defend a racist government that does not protect us. We will not fight and kill other people of color in the world who, like Black people, are being victimized by the White racist government of America. We will protect ourselves from the force and violence of the racist police and the racist military, by whatever means necessary.
- We Want An Immediate End To Police Brutality And Murder Of Black People.
We believe we can end police brutality in our Black community by organizing Black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States gives a right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all Black people should arm themselves for self- defense.
- We Want Freedom For All Black Men Held In Federal, State, County And City Prisons And Jails.
We believe that all Black people should be released from the many jails and prisons because they have not received a fair and impartial trial.
- We Want All Black People When Brought To Trial To Be Tried In
Court By A Jury Of Their Peer Group Or People From Their Black
Communities, As Defined By The Constitution Of The United States.
We believe that the courts should follow the United States Constitution so that Black people will receive fair trials. The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives a man a right to be tried by his peer group. A peer is a person from a similar economic, social, religious, geographical, environmental, historical and racial background. To do this the court will be forced to select a jury from the Black community from which the Black defendant came. We have been, and are being, tried by all-White juries that have no understanding of the “average reasoning man” of the Black community.
- We Want Land, Bread, Housing, Education,Clothing, Justice And Peace.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect of the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
Written: October 15, 1966
Source: War Against the Panthers, by Huey P. Newton, 1980
Transcription/Markup & corrections: MIM/Brian Baggins
Online Version: Marxist History Archive (marxists.org) 2001
As the dust created by the whirlwind of public outrage settles on the appointment of the acting chief justice, and the terms of the acting unequivocally stated as supervisory probation by the prime minister, the chief executive officer of the state, I wish to make my two cents’ contribution.
The cacophony of barking from multiple watchdogs of the Jamaican Constitution, including close to 100 judges, regarding the chief justice appointment debacle, was unprecedented. We have become a better and more mature democracy based on the unheeded voices who called a spade a spade in denouncing the prime minister’s blunder. In marine affairs, you cannot know the strength of a vessel until she has traversed troubled waters. Similarly, our freedom of speech was tested and found to be in good health over the past fortnight. The strength of people power was well played out in 2017 in support of the preservation of the Cockpit Country, and now, already, in 2018, regarding the independence of the judiciary.
The issue is of such importance, regarding governance in general, that it must be allowed debate. We do not have a parliamentary democracy. Rather, we have a constitutional arrangement where that document is supreme. So, when laws passed by our Parliament, or action, taken by the executive (prime minister), are out of line with the Constitution, its guardian, the courts, can strike the blunder down.
A NEW GENERATION
The minority voice in support of the prime minister’s action said they felt he represented a new generation where accountability was the panacea of good governance. In 1975, the Privy Council respectfully contemplated this misguided approach and declared in the case of Hinds, when the Gun Court Act was challenged, in the words of Lord Diplock, that:
“A breach of a constitutional restriction is not excused by the good intention with which the legislative power has been exceeded …”
Similarly, the constitutional breach by Prime Minister Holness is not excused by any good intention he may have entertained when he made the full appointment of Justice Sykes indefinite, uncertain, and subject to his own supervision.
Because the prime minister is a layman in relation to the law, I am prepared to place the blame at the feet of his adviser(s) – if he sought advice prior to making his ill-advised acting appointment. He cannot rest on the excuse of bad advice if he turned a blind eye to the letter of the Constitution, electing to prefer in its stead ‘accountability’. It is timely advice that the prime minister’s mandate in our democracy is allegiance to the oath he took in front of the very governor general, to whom he passed erroneous instructions two weeks ago to fill a clear chief justice vacancy with an ‘actor’. He swore on March 3, 2016, to “uphold the Constitution”. Later, on the March 10, 2016, he told the newly-sworn-in ministers of Parliament – with reference to we, the people – that, “We are their servants, not their bosses”. Two years later, he would have learnt the lesson that we, the people, have spoken, directing him that he is subject to and ruled by our Constitution.
– Bert S. Samuels, an attorney-at-law.
New post on Gregory Elich
An assortment of guns and ammunition.
The issue that is bothering most Jamaicans at this time is the rapidly rising violence and murder rate.
Today I heard that we have reached nearly 200 murders since the start of the year. That is mind-boggling!
From the reports on the types and brand names of guns and ammunition that have been seized or found by the police a significant amount seems to originate in the USA, regardless of the route by which they may have arrived here. One of the solutions, therefore, seems to be to attack the problem at the source.
Powerful individuals in the USA are opposed to gun control and have used their power and influence to block laws from being passed to tighten gun control. In the interest of our nation, and the many other nations suffering from the scourge of crime, violence and murder, I believe our Government should lead a resolution at the United Nations calling on the Government of the USA to implement stringent gun control measures and to take all necessary action, using the full might of their Homeland Security mechanisms, to stop the flow of illegal weapons to Jamaica and all other countries. They can do this with the sophisticated scanning systems at all their ports. If the demand comes via the United Nations, maybe the powerful lobbyists against gun control will back down and comply with the wishes of people all over the world.
The whole world would breathe a sigh of relief if the USA would take this action to stem the problem from their end. Their own citizens would feel safer with tighter gun control measures because it would lead to a reduction in the numerous mass shootings that occur there.
Source: Jamaica Observer: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/stop-the-illegal-guns-and_125378?profile=1234
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) is calling on the Police High Command and INDECOM to launch an immediate investigation into reports of an unprovoked assault by the police on newspaper photographer Rudolph Brown on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.
According to the PAJ, Brown reported that while in the Cross Roads area, he witnessed a commotion apparently caused by attempts by the police to arrest a man. He started to use his phone to record the incident. On being told to stop by the police sergeant on location, he says he clearly identified himself as a member of the media, both verbally and by showing his company ID card which was around his neck.
“Brown says he continued to record the proceedings and heard the police sergeant tell a constable to pepper spray him. He says the police constable sprayed pepper spray directly into his eyes, causing him severe pain and distress, which continued for hours and worsened later in the evening,” the PAJ statement under the signature of president Dionne Jackson Miller stated.
The Press Association of Jamaica condemns unequivocally this blatant abuse of force by the police, and calls for an immediate investigation and response by the Police High Command and INDECOM.