Blog

LASC “educating” Pres. Barack Obama

One thing our movement has known for over twenty years is how difficult it is to educate the US public and our representatives in Washington about Latin America: particularly hard because of government policy and the lack of full information in the media. The need to convey truth extends also to Pres. Obama.

The Latin America Solidarity Coalition (LASC) had sent the following memo to then Senator Obama and the Obama campaign staff:

We are writing as the Coordinating Committee for the US-based Latin America Solidarity Coalition. We represent over 2000 local and national groups of US residents working in solidarity with the people of many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. These groups are in all 50 states. Thousands of our members have been exchanging visits with and working closely with different parts of the Region. We have combined their rich experiences at four national LASC conferences and developed analyses and plans for many crisis areas, past, present and potential future crises. (You may see our website at www.lasolidarity.org).

We have studied then Senator Obama’s wide-ranging speech to the Cuban American National Foundation, Miami, May 23, 2008 on US-Latin American relations. We were disappointed in many of the positions he expressed as well as the fact that he chose to make them before an extreme right-wing group whose influence on US policy toward that region is responsible for much of the deterioration in the US image in Latin America. requested a meeting with Pres. Obama to provide him with our ideas for a more positive US policy toward our neighbors to the South. Our hope would be to (1) help him to keep his discussions as accurate as he would like, and (2) help him develop a moral and sustainable US foreign policy in the region.

As you well know, the nations, their cultures, their political-economic situations are complex. As you also know, over the years the US has made mistakes, many of which have threatened our own goals of helping to develop good feelings about our country among the people themselves, helping true democracies to develop, eliminating human rights abuses by the militaries that the US supports and trains, and encouraging strong economies and trade.

The positions of the LASC are:

Close the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, also known as the School of the Americas.
Close the InternationalLawEnforcementAcademy in San Salvador.
Stop funding Plan Colombia and cut off all military aid to that country.
Stop funding the Merida Initiative and the militarization of the US/Mexico border.
Close the National Endowment for Democracy and return USAID to its original foreign aid mission.
Return President Aristide to Haiti, advocate freedom for all political prisoners and support the end of the UN occupation.
End belligerence toward Venezuela and other Latin American countries whose citizens have elected left-leaning governments over the past decade.
End the embargo against Cuba and normalize relations with our island neighbor. Stop initiating “Free Trade“agreements that benefit only corporations while destroying local agriculture and forcing Latin Americans to leave their homeland to work in the US.
Publicly state support for the legitimate elected government of Bolivia, condemn the separatist violence and take no actions to further inflame the crisis there. Extradite the terrorist Luis Posada Carrilles to Venezuela, as required by extradition treaty, to stand trial for the fatal bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that killed 73 people. Free the five Cuban anti-terrorist agents falsely convicted of espionage for infiltrating Cuban exile terrorist groups in Miami whose repeated terrorist attacks have killed over 3,000 Cubans and foreigners in Cuba.
As you well know, the nations, their cultures, their political-economic situations are complex. As you also know, over the years the US has made mistakes, many of which have threatened our own goals of helping to develop good feelings about our country among the people themselves, helping true democracies to develop, eliminating human rights abuses by the militaries that the US supports and trains, and encouraging strong economies and trade.

©2007 Interconnect.org

— Peter Mott

Crisis in Bolivia

Bolivia has long been identified as a place of extreme poverty and social inequality. The landlocked Andean nation is largely divided between the impoverished indigenous majority in the west, based in La Paz, and the wealthy mestizo minority in the east, centered in Santa Cruz. Change is afoot, however: Bolivia is now a leading proponent of the leftist “pink tide” movement currently reshaping the political, economic and social landscape of Latin America. Indeed, Bolivia’s populace has mobilized through the ballot box to address the disparities which have plagued the country for centuries. Garnering a rare majority of the national vote, Evo Morales, a former leader of the coca-growers union, was elected Bolivia’s first indigenous president on December 18, 2005.

As president, Morales has nationalized Bolivia’s vital hydrocarbons sector and seeks to enact land reform. Despite his majority support, however, Morales has faced stubborn opposition. The Santa Cruz Civic Committee, a powerful grouping of business interests, reportedly has been operating an unofficial campaign attempting to de-legitimize the government. Spearheading the political component of this opposition is Rubén Costas, the prefect of Santa Cruz, whose uncompromising rhetoric emboldened four of Bolivia’s nine departments to declare regional autonomy through illegitimate referendums.

Extremist right-wing youth groups, such as the Union Juvenil Cruceñista, represent the radical component of this opposition. Such groups have organized destructive boycotts and violent street demonstrations. They also have been charged with beating, killing, and terrorizing Morales’ supporters.

Relations between Bolivia and the U.S. have grown increasingly tense and unproductive since Morales was elected. In 2007 his administration accused parts of the U.S. government – such as the Office of Transition Initiatives, a subsidiary of the U.S. Agency for International Development – of allocating aid to decentralization projects so as to support dissenting prefectures in their stand against the national government.

Diplomatic tensions have escalated to the point that U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, was expelled from the country on August 10 ,2008 for allegedly providing policy recommendations to opposition prefects. Not to be outdone, Washington expelled his Bolivian counterpart, Gustavo Guzman, soon afterward.

Another point of conflict between the two countries is the unresolved case of former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and his former defense minister, Carlos Sanchez Berzain. The two men fled to and currently live in the U.S., where it is widely believed that they have been granted political asylum. Both seek to escape persecution in Bolivia for their involvement in the bloody suppression of Black October, when government security forces killed and injured scores of indigenous protesters in 2003, which arguably gave rise to the populist movement that elected Morales its leader two years later.

(The author was Chris Sweeney, Research Associate, Council on Hemispheric Affairs. Since his writing, relations with the new Obama Administration have remained tense.)

Also, from the Literature: During the Bush years,

“The US Embassy in Bolivia repeatedly asked Peace Corps volunteers and one Fulbright scholar to spy…The NED (National Endowment for Democracy) has funded activities to destabilize the government.” (The Huffington Post, 9/21/08 by Mark Weisbrot, posted 2/19/08.)

“John McCain has chaired the International Republic Institute (IRI, which is part of the NED) since 1993.” (Upside Down World, 2/22/08.)

“On 9/15/2008, an emergency meeting of Latin American leaders convened to seek a resolution to the conflict in Bolivia. Morales said, ‘I have come to explain…the civic coup d’etat by Governors of some Bolivian states…All of the leaders [even Colombia, a close US ally] backed Morales, condemned the opposition’s violent tactics and emphasized that they won’t recognize separatists in the country….” (Upside Down World, 9/16/08).

“Morales on 9/26 congratulated indigenous groups in Chuquisaca for becoming ‘territory-free of American imperialism’ after deciding to expel USAID.” (AP 9/28/08).

LASC STATEMENT ON BOLIVIA, 2008
The Latin America Solidarity Coalition, a network of US national and local grassroots organizations in solidarity with the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, is deeply concerned about the political crisis in Bolivia and worsening US relations with Latin America. We demand that the US government do nothing to further exacerbate the crisis.

We are in a very dangerous and fluid period regarding US-Latin America relations, highlighted by recent incidents:

1. A civil rebellion led by right-wing separatists in the Bolivia’s “media luna” provinces have taken at least 30 lives and caused hundreds millions of dollars of economic damage in South America’s poorest country.
2. Bolivia expelled US Ambassador Philip Goldberg for his ties to violent separatist leaders.
3. The Bush administration declared Bolivia’s ambassador to the US persona non grata and precipitously booted out his entire family including a daughter in college.
4. Venezuela expelled US Ambassador Patrick Duddy in solidarity with Bolivia and recalled Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez.
5. Honduras and Nicaragua took diplomatic actions in support of Bolivia’s action to expel the US ambassador.
6. 12 heads of state of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) held an emergency summit in Santiago de Chile and adopted a statement demanding respect for legitimate democracy in Bolivia.
7. The Bush administration accused Bolivia and Venezuela of noncooperation in the “war against drugs.”

This is an escalation of worsening relations with Latin America that includes US support for the failed 2002 coup against Venezuelan President Chavez, suspicion in Latin America about US involvement in assassination attempts against Chavez, Bolivian President Evo Morales, and recently revealed coup plots in Venezuela and Paraguay.

Appointments of new ambassadors in the hemisphere are also seen as provocative, especially in Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. In Bolivia, Goldberg was known as the “Ambassador for Ethnic Cleansing” for his role in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia. His role in soliciting Peace Corps volunteers and a Fulbright scholar to spy for the US last year compromised the US mission in Bolivia. In Venezuela Ambassador Duddy oversaw the transfer of tens of millions of dollars to opposition groups through the Office of Transition Initiatives, and the new ambassador to Nicaragua, Robert Callahan, served under John Negroponte in Honduras during the 1980s when the US was pursuing its shameful contra war against the Sandinistas.

These provocations are in addition to electoral interference in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and currently El Salvador. US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are the two agencies primarily responsible for the US efforts to manipulate other countries’ elections. Bolivia is the greatest recipient of USAID money in Latin America and was expelled by one prefecture (state) a few months ago after civil society groups complained of its support for the right-wing and frequently racist’s opposition.

USAID and NED are investing heavily in Venezuela and Nicaragua’s upcoming local elections and are likely involved in El Salvador’s presidential campaign in an effort to stop the election of FMLN candidate Mauricio Funes, who leads in the polls.
Visit www.cispes.org and www.respect4democracy.org for more information.

These incidents are the result of centuries of US policy toward Latin America and specifically the result of reckless policies of the George W. Bush administration.

The Latin America Solidarity Coalition demands:

– that the US government take no further action to exacerbate what are already dangerous situations that could easily spin out of control involving tragic losses of life and spiking oil prices as we in the North enter the heating season – that the US government state support for the Union of South American Nations statement demanding respect for legitimate democracy in Bolivia. – that Congress require the Bush administration to detail the extent of US support for Bolivian separatist groups and to disclose which organizations are receiving US funding through USAID, NED, and the CIA.
Latin America Solidarity Coalition
October 2008

— Peter Mott

Haiti Emergency

“After 25 years spent working in Haiti and having grown up in Florida, I can honestly say that I have never seen anything as painful as what I just witnessed in Gonaives. At least 80% of the estimated 300,000 residents have been displaced or otherwise affected by the flooding…Throughout Haiti bridges, roads, clinics and homes have been washed away.” (Dr. Paul Farmer of Partners in Health, from a 9/10 interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now.)

Please consider sending funds to one of these reliable, tax-deductible organizations listed at :

Campaign for Labor Rights (CLR): Haitian Workers Hurricane Relief Fund
1247 E St SE, Washington, DC 20003 or www.clrlabor.org
CLR is collecting funds for the Confédéderation des Travailleurs Haitiens to distribute to union sisters and brothers and their families for hurricane relief. The CTH has been rebuilding since a US-sponsored coup in 2004 overthrew Haiti’s elected government. According to the CLR, the coup was led by groups funded and trained by the International Republican Institute, whose Board is chaired by John McCain. CTH members were targeted because of their support for Haitian democracy and opposition to foreign intervention.

Haiti Emergency Relief Fund/Vanguard
383 Rhode Island St. Suite 301, San Francisco, CA94103; 415-487-2111. www.haitiaction.net
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund: Since its inception in March 2004, the HERF has given concrete aid to Haiti’s grassroots democratic movement as they attempted to survive the brutal coup and to rebuild shattered development projects. We urge you to contribute generously, not only for this immediate crisis, but in order to support the long-run development of human rights, sustainable agriculture and economic justice in Haiti.
http://www.haitisolidarity.net/article.php?id=238.

Haiti KONPAY – Emergency Hurricane Relief Fund
7 Wall St., Gloucester, MA01930 or www.konpay.org
Focusing on Haitian solutions to environmental, social and economic problems and providing training and funding to grassroots and community-based projects. KONPAY is supporting Haitian-led efforts to reforest Haiti and protect the environment.

Haiti Reborn
PO Box 5206, Hyattsville, MD 20782 www.Haiti.quixote.org
Supporting the growing Kofaviv movement of women demanding an end to violence and rape; establishing the development of a reforestation program, including satellite nurseries; advocating an end to unjust and undemocratic foreign intervention in Haitian democracy and economy; countering the destructive myth of Haitians as helpless victims by highlighting Haiti’s proud history and giving voice to today’s brightest leaders.

MADRE (Emergency & Disaster Relief Fund)
121 West 27th Street #301, New York, NY 10001
http://madre.org/index.html
a New York-based human rights group demanding human rights for women and families throughout the world, and also working on disaster relief with one of its sister organizations in Haiti.

Partners In Health
641 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 www.Pih.org
Their mission is both medical and moral, based on solidarity, rather than charity alone. When a person in rural Haiti falls ill, PIH uses all of the means at their disposal to make them well—from pressuring drug manufacturers, to lobbying policy makers, to providing medical care and social services. PiH is supporting relief and recovery programs in communities affected by the hurricanes.

Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL)
124 Church Rd, SherburneNY 13460 www.oursoil.org
dedicated to empowering communities, building the soil and nourishing the grassroots. SOIL protects soil resources and transforms wastes into resources. SOIL promotes integrated approaches to the problems of poverty, poor public health, agricultural productivity, and environmental destruction.

Summary: reliable agencies for donations.

— Peter Mott

El Salvador: US brands CISPES foreign “agent”

(Ed. note: In March, 2009, the FMLN Party won the presidency of El Salvador. All of us supporters have been celebrating and we wish Pres. Funes all the best. One problem from the Bush Administration in 2008 persists, however. from CISPES below)

Friends,

This is a very serious situation so please stay tuned for more information and alerts about this case as we await response from the Department of Justice. In the meantime, please send this press release around and encourage your contacts in the media to get the story out there. It’s important to expose their dirty tactics and thwart this throwback to illegal FBI harassment of the solidarity movement in the 1980. We can’t let the Bush Administration intimidate CISPES, or other opposition groups working to support grassroots, anti-imperialist struggles around the world!

Adelante,

The CISPES National Office

*********

For immediate release

March 11, 2008

Contact: Burke Stansbury, CISPES – 202 521 2510 ext. 205; burke@cispes.org

Central American Solidarity Activists Dispute Department of Justice Order, Denounce Possible Repeat of Illegal Harassment

Grassroots Group Accused of Being Foreign “Agent” of Leftist Political Party in Lead-up to Contentious Salvadoran Presidential Elections

Washington DC: The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), illegally targeted in the 1980’s by the largest FBI Internal Security investigation of the Reagan era, has in recent months again received threatening communications from the U.S. Department of Justice. Citing the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, a letter sent to CISPES in January questions the organization’s relationship with the leftist Salvadoran political party known as the Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation, or FMLN. CISPES received similar inquiries in the 1980s which eventually led to an illegal FBI investigation into its activities.

The letter cites the organization’s website and an article published in the Washington Post – which does not mention CISPES – following the December 2007 visit of the FMLN’s presidential candidate Mauricio Funes. It states that, “it has come to our attention… that the FMLN, and/or possibly its candidate for El Salvador’s 2009 presidential election, Mauricio Funes, hired your organization for the purposes of conducting a public relations media campaign to include political fundraising…” The Department of Justice gave no other evidence to back up the claim.

According to CISPES Executive Director Burke Stansbury, “CISPES has never had a contractual agreement with the FMLN or Mr. Funes, nor have we taken orders from the party to do publicity work in the U.S. Rather, we have a solidarity relationship based on shared political values that goes back to the struggle for democracy and economic justice that the people of El Salvador fought against a brutal U.S.-backed military regime in the 1980s.” CISPES was founded in 1980 at the height of the civil war between the US-backed Salvadoran government and the FMLN, at that time an internationally recognized guerrilla force.

“That the Department of Justice would wrongly evoke the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) to target this organization at this particular moment demonstrates the Administration’s fear of progressive change sweeping Latin America . It is an effort to intimidate and stifle solidarity groups in the U.S. who oppose the Government’s efforts to install puppet regimes against the will of the people of Latin America,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a lawyer from the Partnership for Civil Justice who is part of the team of attorneys assisting CISPES in this matter.

The Salvadoran FMLN and its candidate Funes have gained broad support 12 months ahead of the 2009 election, in large part due to the failure of U.S.-supported neoliberal policies like the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

“This shows that the Bush Administration is terrified of another Latin American country electing a Left party,” said Stansbury. “People in the region want fair and transparent elections, free of outside intervention, and such actions by the Bush Administration show a dangerous tendency towards once again disrupting the electoral process of a sovereign country.” In 2004, the last time the FMLN had a chance to win the presidency, U.S. government officials issued statements showing clear support for the right-wing ARENA party and threatening to cut off money sent from Salvadorans in the U.S. to their families should the FMLN win.

In 1981 FBI investigated CISPES for allegedly acting as a foreign agent of the FMLN. When that claim proved baseless, the Department of Justice launched a full-scale investigation based on the claim that CISPES was a front for the “terrorist” FMLN. The FBI campaign of surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of CISPES lasted until 1987 and ultimately became a major embarrassment for the Bureau when CISPES and the Center for Constitutional Rights forced the release of FBI files under the Freedom of Information Act. Subsequent Congressional hearings showed the FBI to have conducted numerous illegal operations, led to an internal inquiry by the Bureau, and curtailed the scope of domestic surveillance activities which were later expanded again under the USA Patriot Act.

“In the 1980s the Department of Justice set out to intimidate and repress the powerful Central America solidarity movement,” said Angela Sanbrano, CISPES Executive Director during the FBI investigation of the1980s. “That infamous witch hunt was a complete failure, and yet the Bush Administration has the nerve to return to the original tactics of using an ambiguous law – FARA – to threaten CISPES again.”

CISPES has continued its work of supporting real democracy and human rights in El Salvador by taking delegations of elections observers to El Salvador; touring prominent Salvadoran labor leaders and human rights advocates in the U.S.; and working to prevent a repeat of past U.S. political intervention. CISPES has opposed the opening of the U.S.-sponsored International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA), claiming that it has served to export repressive U.S. policing tactics – including harassment of political activists from opposition groups – to Latin America.

“It’s no coincidence that the Bush Administration is targeting CISPES now for our solidarity with movements in El Salvador,” said Sha Grogan-Brown, CISPES’s Development Director. “As more and more progressive forces take power in Latin America, the State Department is looking for ways to bolster its few remaining allies and to thwart the rise of parties like the FMLN. But their dirty tactics of harassment and intimidation will not stop our solidarity work, as we refuse to submit to their pressure.”

– Go here to view the Department of Justice letter to CISPES

– Go here to view the CISPES response

– Go here for an article on the history of FBI harassment targeting CISPES in the 1980s

**********

It’s vital that CISPES continue its solidarity with El Salvador in the face of this attack – go here to make your tax-deductible contribution today!

If you no longer wish to receive our emails, you may unsubscibe here

© 2008 CISPES – The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador
CISPES National Office | ph. 202-521-2510 | 1525 Newton St. NW, Wash. DC 20010| cispes@cispes.org

— Peter Mott

Haiti II

(Ed. note: Haiti remains, some of us would say, one of the worst examples of US foreign policy gone wrong. As Pres. Obama takes over, we hope for better but the US military coup against democratically elected (twice), Pres. Aristide and the UN Peacekeepers (MINUSTAH, supported by the US, Canada and France) repression of the people, continues. Please see the following letter from Aristide)

Sent: Friday, March 14, 2008 1:47 AM
To: Dear Friends of Haiti 2
Subject: President Aristide Message on Feb. 29th Internat’l Protests – 4 years after the coup

P. Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Pretoria, South Africa

Dear Friends,

May the spirit of International Day in Solidarity with the Haitian People continue to spread!If the more than 10,000 people killed in the 18 months that followed the February 29, 2004 coup d’état could speak, what would they say? Would they join voices with the young women raped and sexually assaulted since the coup? Would they remind us that these women are estimated to constitute half the population of Haiti’s shanty towns? Would they unite with the voices of the 3,200 people imprisoned in a National Penitentiary built to hold 1,200 prisoners? And what of the countless others who were inhumanely abused and now clearly betrayed? What would their message be?

They would rise in chorus with Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine to say Mési, thank you, for the solidarity demonstrated four years later.

Because they cannot, I will: Thank you.

Thank you to each and every participant in the 56 actions organized in 47 cities across four continents as part of the 3rd International Day of Solidarity. Your solidarity strengthens the people’s determination to continue to affirm human dignity and struggle for true democracy, justice and peace. United to all our Haitian sisters and brothers who, on that same day, condemned the kidnapping of February 29, 2004 and called for our return to Haiti, let us continue to drink from this historical stream of solidarity with grateful thanks to our mother Haiti. “Gratitude is the least of the virtues but ingratitude is the worst of the vices.”Ab imo pectore, from the bottom of my heart,

Dr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide Pretoria, March 11, 2008— Peter Mott

 

Educating public, Congress

All of us in the Latin America Solidarity Movement—-and that’s probably over 4000 groups in the US (INTERCONNECT’s mailing list has been over 2000 separate groups in all 50 states, all working in solidarity with the people of some part of Latin America)…We all know that one of our most important functions is education of the public and of Congress. My question is…How do we do it better? We do pretty well with crises: particularly in the Central America solidarity days we could amass 300,000 marchers in DC over and over…against the war in El Salvador, and to prevent a US invasion of Nicaragua during our Contra War. And one can make the case that we won both of those.
We also do well with other crises: eg, closing the SOA (getting close to victory), getting 5 nations to stop sending troops to the SOA.
A delegation here in Rochester NY changed our Congressperson’s views of ending the US Embargo of Cuba.
But we don’t ever seem to get the public or Representatives in Congress to understand the situation more deeply. We activists don’t need to be reeducated about the deeper thinking about US-Latin American affairs —especially the economics but also about the poverty, indigenous people’s rights, how our colleagues in the South feel about “democracy”, religion, ownership of a country’s natural resources (not US corporations!). But I’m not aware that many of us can more deeply educate others.
What works with you? Taking an official along on a delegation for a week in Latin America? Regular visits with updates for your Congressperson about Latin Amer. affairs? Educating the staffs?
Please share your successes. —-Peter

— Peter Mott

Immigration: Causes

Immigration, Mexico to US (excerpted from the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras letter of 3/15/07

“As you know, the corn tortilla is the main item in the Mexican maquila worker’s diet, and the price of tortillas just increased to $1.50 US a kilogram. A family of four consumes three kilograms a day for $4.50. But a maquila worker in a US or Canadian-owned factory only makes $5. for an eight hour work day.
“The living conditions of the maquils workers in the Blanca Navidad shantytown in Nuevo Laredo are the same as those of the maquila workers living in the Strength and Unity shanty town of Matamoros, or in Maclovio Rojas in Tijuana. They have no running water, no sewage or electricity and all the houses are made from cardboard boxes or wooden pallets. Across the country and expecially on the northern border, poverty and hunger are the air that you breathe.
“The workers of Cardinal Brands, a paper company based in Valle Hermoso, whose headquarters is in Kansas, are working 14 hours a day, seven days a week with mandatory overtime. They are exposed to glues, solvents, dyes, and ammonia without an safety equipment. …..
“The lack of decent jobs, housing, and schooling for children are just a few of the challenges workers face every day along with the low wages and unsafe working conditions ….
“…A fair amnesty could help the 10 millions of undocumented people already in the US, but what will happen to the one hundred and twenty million in Mexico who are ready to cross because the choice is either to die of hunger or to risk crossing the border?”

— Peter Mott

 

Haiti Strategy

I would like to know just how much US subversion of Haiti is going on now; who to ask; and what we should do about it.
We know (I believe) this much:
—That the US Marines took the elected Pres. Aristide from the Presidential Palace at 3 am, warned him of a bloodbath of his people by the opposition if he didn’t leave with them, flew him to a destination kept secret from him (the Central African Republic) and apparently have stopped him from returning from South Africa to Haiti.
—That the US, Canada and France have pressured the UN to have their Peacekeeper forces attack and kill Aristide supporters in Cite Soleil several times since.
—That the US blocked international loans to Aristide’s government in the years before this, weakening him (and increasing the suffering of his people).
—Thant the National Endowment for Democracy (outside the US govt. and without Congressional oversight, but paid entirely with taxpayer money)supported planners of the coup.
Questions:
—Is new Pres. Rene Preval subject to similar pressures now? And prevented from opposing neoliberal economic programs?
—Is the UN policy continuing?
—Is the US motivation neoliberal empire, with “fear of the good example”?
—Should we join others in a campaign (eg, restart an ad hoc Working Group for Haiti through the LASC (Latin America Solidarity Coalition)?
—What groups in Haiti need our help; which should be consulted about these questions?
—What should be our aims, goals?
—Which groups in the US should be included (or joined) in this?
Thanks, Peter Mott

— Peter Mott

 

Immigration policy–basic question

US Immigration Policy Change vs. the powers that be

Do you agree with the following (excerpted) view of Prof. Wm. Robinson, U.of California (Santa Barbara) (see complete article in Z-Net 3/10/07 or the summary in our newsletter INTERCONNECT—via this website home page, click on “newsletter”, then “archives”, then the 7/07 issue page 3):
“The powers that want to reorganize the world feel they must control workers worldwide and capture natural resources and labor pools worldwide….(to create) the division of workers into immigrants and citizens—a new axis of inequality worldwide, between citizen and non-citizen. The system…can’t function without this reserve army of immigrant labor. It needs this to maintain the status quo…immigrant labor that is vulnerable, undocumented, deportable…controllable. The aim of the powers that be is not to do away with…immigrants but to exercise repressive control over immigrants…to super-exploit with impunity. Hence, the dual emphasis on guest worker programs alongside criminalization, enforcement and militarization.”

Do you agree? If so, should we continue to try to help build the campaign to change US immigration policy to a humane one…or would this effort be impossible and just patching up the rotten overall system of corporate globalization/free trade/neoliberalism? Should we focus more of closing down NAFTA, the World Bank/IMF/WTO…while expanding humanitarian programs for refugee rights, saving lives at the border, etc.?

What do you think? —-Peter Mott

— Peter Mott

 

Truth Campaign proposed

Is it essential or naive for the Movement to consider a Truth Campaign?

All of us know that, in response to the needs of our colleagues in the South we must change US behavior in this Hemisphere: Foreign policy, economic policy, maybe much of domestic policy.
All of us know that this task will take a major educational campaign for the public and the Congress, and that will take far greater numbers of activists in the US-Latin America solidarity movement.
We would probably agree that all this will take careful planning. Such a large and growing movement, we have learned, should include networking with “equal and independent allies” in a non-hierarchical grouping.
May I suggest that step one should be a Truth Campaign, such as that proposed in my 2006 book, “Cancer in the Body Politic: Diagnosis and Prescription for an America in Decline” (see the home page of this website, or e-mail admin@epica.org and get a copy for $10). From pg. 77:

“Preparing the People for Change: Truth
To prepare the people to share an overall vision of a future, stronger USA, it is necessary to simplify and clarify the information available to the public. Many institutions and groups—schools, churches, agencies, clubs—can share in effecting this. We need both leaders and populace to begin at last to peel off the layers and reach what each citizen can freely decide is his or her truth. We must demand truth from our media, truth in government statements, truth in the cirriculum, especially of true US history, warts and all.
We must have truth. Why would it be considered naive to call for a full Truth Campaign—nationally, by state and region, and locally?

— Peter Mott

Should we start a campaign to end NAFTA?

Is it totally impracticable to try to join in a nationally organized campaign to dispose of NAFTA? Many say “yes” but:
1. All of us working in solidarity with the people of Latin America know that “free” trade is not at all free—-but centrally planned, not by some totalitarian country but by a powerful, global band of multinational corporations, neoliberal governments (with or without their people informed and agreeing), and their international financial institutions (again not at all democratically).
2. Most of us activists know—-and often proclaim—-that NAFTA has failed! It has created billionaires in all three countries but lead to the loss of thousands of good, manufacturing jobs in Canada and the US and created far worse poverty for 26 million Mexicans.
3. It is clear to many that the main cause of today’s immigration crisis in the US is NAFTA’s effects on subsidized US corn forcing millions of small farmers out of work in Mexico, and such retail giants as WalMart (700 of them in Mexico) forcing the closure of over a milliion small businesses there.
4. We know that NAFTA is undemocratic.
5. That it threatens national sovereignty.
6. That it serves as a dangerous model for new trade agreements, eg DR-CAFTA and now the US-Peru “Free” Trade Agreement, and also the sweatshop maquilladas from the Mexican-US border down into much of Central and South America.

FROM THE CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL POLICY (CIP):
“It’s important to reject the erroneous and harmful free-trade model and demand a truly new trade policy for the nation. One thing we learned from the Peru vote is that accepting small modifications in the model allows the policy to proceed unquestioned….devastating to workers in developing countries and in the US. Only a coherent and principled stand against all NAFTA-style Free Trade Agreements and a demand to seriously evaluate and revamp international trade policy can bring about changes that promote development and labor rights for all.

FROM LORI WALLACH, PUBLIC CITIZEN’S GLOBAL TRADE WATCH:
There was little focus on the Peru NAFTA expansion deal in the Senate, but in the House an intense, multi-month debate resulted in a majority of House Democrats, including 12 of 18 House committee chairs, voting against the Peru pact and signaling that it is not an acceptable model for future trade agreements….”

Next step? We’ll ask the Alliance for Responsible Trade where their efforts stand. —-Peter Mott, Co-Editor, INTERCONNECT

— Peter Mott

 

Interconnect blog

Please review the following and let me know your reaction, ideas. —-Peter

Purposes of the Blog:
To help build a national progressive movement which will become increasingly capable of affecting US policy in this hemisphere, we need to thoroughly discuss the following kinds of issues:

1. analysis of many unknowns
a. the truth about US-Latin America relations: the actual history of events
b. the probing of secret US plans for “democracy-building” in Latin America,
c. identification of untruths and how to correct them for the public and for Congress,
d. differing views north and south of democracy, national sovereignty vs. globalization,
e. confusion caused by the war on drugs and the war on terror,
f. current/pending crises affecting each nation to our south.

2. How to change US policy and how to:
a. Educate the media,
b. Educate the Congress and administrations
c. Organize ourselves.

Specific examples of issues which need exploring by blog: 1. send your ideas, please. But some that I think go with critical gaps in our knowledge or unsolved problem areas are: -how could we begin a campaign to terminate NAFTA? -what is the Administration doing currently to undermine Hugo Chavez? -what is the National Endowment for Democracy doing currently in Haiti to avoid any Aristide or Preval moves to decrease neoliberal economic measures? -how could we help the Movement learn to educate Congress to a deeper understanding of the needs of Latin America, and why the people want independence of US policy…re “democracy-building”, self-sufficiency, national sovereignty, fair trade, etc.?

— Peter Mott