Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Letter to the editor The Miami Herald "Let the Haitians Stay"

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Dear Editor,

Your editorial “Let the Haitians stay”, makes a strong case for the necessity to grant a protected status to the thousands of Haitians that have fled to the United States. Refusing to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians has only furthered the long standing discrimination that they have been forced to face in the region, whether it be the systematic discrimination of citizenship rights for Haitian-Dominicans in the Dominican Republic, or the internationally overlooked upheaval following food shortages in 2008. Haitians, like past TPS groups, should be entitled to the same human dignity which international instruments and agreements seek to protect. By recognizing a protected status for the Haitians in the U.S., the calamities of their failed nation, Haiti, which has confronted unremitting natural and man-caused disasters, can be acknowledged. Furthermore, the promotion of human rights and international solidarity for a people who have been dealt a poor hand throughout their history would be clearly recorded. The U.S., as it seeks to champion human rights in the region, must take the critical first step by granting the Haitians greater dignity, which can only reward all concerned.

Andres Ochoa
Research Associate, Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Washington D.C.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Response to "Venezuela's Polarized Society Split by Another Issue"

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The latest polls show significant erosion in Chavez’ popular support. One problem he faces is his reliance on cash disbursements and other transfers to the population, which are based on high oil prices and a reasonably efficient oil industry. This, alas, isn’t what it used to be. Both oil prices and oil industry efficiency are down, and therefore the government is increasingly unable to disburse the cash. The problem is compounded because the rest of the economy is slowly dying as he continues nationalizing portions of the economy using a fairly adhoc method. As the cash flow ceases, the masses don’t support him the way they did, so it’s going to get very interesting in the next few years.

Comment by Braulio Perez

Response to "The Honduran Coup: Was it a Matter of Behind the Scenes Finagling?"

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Articles like this, in which critical links are based on “may” and “it is said” are what characterizes Fox News and other neocon publications. Sadly, it also means they carry little credibility.

Comment by Braulio Perez

Response to "What the Drug War Needs is a Debate"

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Adequate management of drugs requires a worldwide permanent dialoque. There is no permanent solution. And any balancing point will be dynamic. It is like pushing on water.
A string of treaties would be the best framework but is difficult to achieve. Second best is each country working towards a solution model of the same structure. The good news is that such model can be built to handle any type of drug.
At least some LA countries seem to be convinced now that one should not penalize drug consumers. This appears to be close to the Dutch “coffeeshop” model for drugs. By the way, the Dutch are top drugproducers, close to Colombia and Afghanistan. Further, one should not forget alcohol and tobacco. These produce heavier damage than the drugs we talk about here. But they are “accepted” to a certain degree. This shows the way to better management. Demand can only be reduced by information and education. Treatment of health damage can be financed by excise-duties.
Supply follows demand. So, it is not efficient to fight the problem in the production countries. The battle must be won in the consumer markets. We can manage it by making it a state monopoly. This will guarantee quality and control prices.
May be it would be even better to hand out licences to a limited number of private dealers. Their market behavior can be tightly controlled. It is even worthwhile to consider some of the large actual traders. Let them apply and pay for the licence. They are so rich and powerful that pushing them back will be very difficult and costly. Moreover, if we would succeed, they will shift their huge resources to other illegal activities like prostitution, armstrade and slavelabour. That will be the day! Thanks to God these criminals have a propensity to legalize their business if we allow it.
As for the remaining illegal traders, we must be merciless.
Even capital punishment may be involved.

Comment by Charles Janssen

Response to "What the Drug War Needs is a Debate"

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Marijuana Legalization does not require ANY more debate. Polls are showing time and time again that the majority of Americans support legalizing pot. What we need is the Ability to prosecute out Representatives for KNOWINGLY disobeying the will of the people. A law like this would be Good to preserve OUR democracy from lobbyists and crooked politicians.

Comment by Todd

Response to "What the Drug War Needs is a Debate"

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Debaters debate the two wars as if Nixon’s civil war on Woodstock Nation didn’t yet run amok. One need not travel to China to find indigenous cultures lacking human rights or to Cuba for political prisoners. America leads the world in percentile behind bars, thanks to ongoing persecution of hippies, radicals, and non-whites under banner of the war on drugs. If we’re all about spreading liberty abroad, then why mix the message at home? Peace on the home front would enhance global credibility.

The drug czar’s Rx for prison fodder costs dearly, as lives are flushed down expensive tubes. There’s trouble on the border. My shaman’s second opinion is that psychoactive plants are God’s gift. God didn’t screw up. Canadian Marc Emery sold seeds that enable American farmers to outcompete cartels with superior domestic herb. He is being extradited to prison, for doing what government wishes it could do, reduce demand for Mexican.

The constitutionality of the CSA (Controlled Substances Act of 1970) derives from an interstate commerce clause. Only by this authority does it reincarnate Al Capone, endanger homeland security, and throw good money after bad. Official policy is to eradicate, not tax, the number-one cash crop in the land. America rejected prohibition, but it’s back. Apparently, SWAT teams don’t need no stinking amendment. Father, forgive those who make it their business to know not what they do.

Nixon promised that the Schafer Commission would support the criminalization of his enemies, but it didn’t. No matter, the witch-hunt was on. No amendments can assure due process under an anti-science law without due process itself. Psychology hailed the breakthrough potential of LSD, until the CSA halted all research and pronounced that marijuana has no medical use, period.

The RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993) allows Native American Church members to eat peyote, which functions like LSD. Americans shouldn’t need a specific church membership to obtain their birthright freedom of religion. Denial of entheogen sacrament to any American, for mediation of communion with his or her maker, precludes free exercise of religious liberty.

Freedom of speech presupposes freedom of thought. The Constitution doesn’t enumerate any governmental power to embargo diverse states of mind. How and when did government usurp this power to coerce conformity? The Mayflower sailed to escape coerced conformity. Legislators who would limit cognitive liberty lack jurisdiction.

Common-law must hold that adults are the legal owners of their own bodies. The Founding Fathers decreed that the right to the pursuit of happiness is inalienable. Socrates said to know your self. Mortal lawmakers should not presume to thwart the intelligent design that molecular keys unlock spiritual doors. Persons who appreciate their own free choice of path in life should tolerate seekers’ self-exploration.

Comment by Bill Harris

Response to "What the Drug War Needs is a Debate"

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The current focus of the drug war in the Americas must change. The existing direction, one held for the previous forty plus years has been ineffective and wasteful for all economies involved. While hundreds of billions of dollars have been dumped into this black hole of a policy, Hundreds of billions more are directed in profit towards gangs and cartels in every country. This improvident policy ignored all of the lessons of the prohibition of Alcohol in the United States during the period from 1920 to 1933. What the U.S. learned from their failed attempt at prohibiting their citizens’ access to a vice was the vice would multiply many times over previous levels. Second the emergence of gangs and organized crime syndicates would flourish and profit from filling the supply chain disrupted by laws and restrictions. This current policy does little more than create alternative methods for people to obtain their drugs. Without draconian measures, most in violation of the tenets of the United States Constitution, it will be impossible to eradicate drug use in this country.
In contrast a managed narcotic distribution program would supply the product to those who desire, tax revenue to those countries producing and selling, and withhold from the cartels the life blood of their crime families. It has taken well over six decades to weaken the stranglehold organized crime had over the political process of the U.S., and it will take several decades more to unseat the crime cartels of Latin America from their positions of political control, both within and outside of their countries. One quick method is to restrict their flow of hard currency. By legalizing possession, and licensing distribution and point of sale with methods currently used for the sale of alcohol, a system can quickly be put in place. One large requirement would be to ensure that the product has an equal profit distribution chain as well as providing medical support for those addicts who wish to end their addiction.
Too little thought has been given to the policies desired by the people of the Americas, and too much to the desires of those who profit from warfare and bloodshed. This isn’t a simple problem to fix, but dialogue on the subject is the best place to begin.

Comment by Mario Minichino

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Response to "Washington's Double Standard on Cuba"

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Double standards exemplified:Air Cubana flight 455, see,inter alia:

(Although not mentioned in the description on this site, it is reputed that Captain Perez ditched the airliner in Payne’s bay on the West coast of the island rather than landing at Barbados’ airport in order to spare the lives of Barbadians on the ground.)

Comment from Clive Lewis

Response to "The Honduran Coup: Was it a Matter of Behind the Scenes Finagling?"

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The Arcadia Foundation has been a champion of democracy and an advocate for rule of law. When the President of any nation illegally attempts to prolong their executive position, it is a clear indicator of someone disregarding constitutional law and in this case, symbolizes corruption at the highest level of government. Robert Carmona-Borjas and the Arcadia Foundation believe that democracy is crucial for the effective exercise of fundamental freedoms and human rights in their universality. The OAS charter indeed states that ‘ representative democracy is an indispensable condition for stability, peace and development ‘ within the regions of the Americas.

The Arcadia Foundation will be building an open forum where we look forward to regularly engaging with those interested in the processes of combating corruption and promoting the values of democracy.

Comment by The Arcadia Foundation

Response to "Obama Wrong on Latin America, Wrong on Cuba"

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Obama is doing something as possible , George W did what we have now.

Comment by Jose

Response to "The Honduran Coup: Was it a Matter of Behind the Scenes Finagling?"

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I see nothing wrong with well informed speculation, especially given the recent history of US-American involvement in Central America and of those people mentioned in this article.

Whoever claims that Zelaya violated the Honduran constitution is either promoting the coup maker’s agenda, or has swallowed the propaganda of the de facto government, and the people that support Michelettis illegitimate government.

The policies Zelaya was implementing before the coup were perfectly legal. He was not trying to get reelected. He was trying to perform a non-binding survey, with the intention of finding out if Hondurans wanted a fourth ballot-box in November’s elections. This fourth ballot-box would have to be approved by Congress and it would decide on the establishment of a National Constituent Assembly, like the one suggested by de facto president Micheletti in 1985 to reelect president Suazo, and the one set up by the Honduran military and the Americans in 1982 to write a new Constitution as a part of their counter-insurgency programs (Honduras’ 12th constitution). It is a perfectly legal and democratic procedure to write a new constitution, which is not equivalent to reforming the current constitution. The reason is that according to the constitution, Honduran people and their will are above the constitution itself. Zelaya was trying to legally open up for citizen participation in a rigid and undemocratic political system that Hondurans have not created themselves. His opponents violated the law to get rid of him. Colonel Bayardo Inestroza, the legal advisor of the military has accepted this in interviews with The Miami Herald and El Faro. A very good analysis made by a Spanish lawyer Enrique Santiago is available here: The decrees that support Zelaya’s policies are also available in the Internet: PCM- 05-2009, PCM 019-2009, PCM 20-2009, PCM 27-2009. None of those decrees speak about reelection. I am all for well informed speculation, and we can speculate about Zelaya’s intention, but there this does not mean we can legally convict him for his actions. By the way, there hasn’t been a due process to establish guilt. He was kidnapped and flown off. Why?

Another interesting fact that is not mentioned here is that this coup parallels what happened in Haiti in 2004, when President Jean Bertrand Aristide was ousted after being kidnapped and flown out of the country.

There has also been a lot of speculation about the involvement of American right wing extremists in the 2004 coup against Aristide.

According to an article by Naomi Klein, published in The Nation Magazine in 2005, Jean Bertrand Aristide told her in person that the reason there was a coup against him was that he told Washington he would not privatize TeleCo, Haiti’s telecommunications company. Just as Arcadia Foundation and among others Otto Reich staged a propaganda campaign against president Zelaya in Honduras before the coup, accusing him of corruption in Hondutel, there had been a propaganda campaign that accused Aristide of corruption before the coup in Haiti.

Answering a comment above, companies are privatized because investors are always after more profit.

It is important to remember that in 1987 the Comptroller General of the United States found that public funds had been misused by the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean to finance a “white propaganda” campaign against the government of Nicaragua. The House Foreign Affairs Committee called this office a propaganda operation against the Sandinistas. This office was led by Mr. Otto Reich, who is mentioned in this analysis.

Arcadia Foundation is run by a Venezuelan exile, involved in the 2002 coup against Venezuela. He had bee campaigning in Honduras against Zelaya before the coup.

These are all important facts and they raise relevant and legitimate questions. It doesn’t have to do with being from the right or the left (the democratic and peaceful versions, that is).

Hopefully the resolution of events in Honduras will eventually answer these questions. In the meantime there will always be short minded people that are afraid to speculate and brush off this information and confuse foreign policy and geopolitical interests with “conspiracy theories”. Such a naïve view of politics has no historical conscience.

Comment by Alberto Valiente Thoresen

Response to "The Honduran Coup: Was it a Matter of Behind the Scenes Finagling?"

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IRI’s work is not focused on privatization or the telecommunications industry. IRI, as does the National Democratic Institute, supports the strengthening of democratic institutions and processes. The bulk of IRI’s programming in Honduras is concentrated on helping city governments better serve their citizens. Our program and record is very clear and transparent there. We encourage those who are interested to learn more about our governance programming at: The other aspect to our program in Honduras seeks to help encourage political parties and civil society focus on substantive issues such as healthcare, roads, education and economic development. IRI stands by that work as well.

Comment by Lisa

Response to "The Honduran Coup: Was it a Matter of Behind the Scenes Finagling?"

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So finally the IRI’s cover has been blown and it is glaringly clear that once again the U.S. will protect its interests, meaning business interests who are friendly with U.S. Senators. Could just have well been the National Endowment for Democracy – same agenda. The first respondent is correct, in a way this is old news because the U.S. State Dept cannot resist demands from big business, never has, never will. The third respondent throws in the straw man of Hugo Chavez. So let me get this right, either Latin American countries have to turn over ALL state assets to someone like Mexico’s Carlos Slim who immediately buys out the competition to create a monopoly – or they are Chavezistas or Fidelistas and deserve to be ousted by the military? Give me a break. I wonder whether on the CNN program tonight anyone will ask a question concerning Otto Reich – McCain’s handmaiden – and his role in getting the terrorist Orlando Bosch released from a Venezuelan jail where he was incarcerated for blowing up 73 people in an airliner in 1976. Bosch now lives in Florida, a location to which the “war on terror” doesn’t extend.

Comment by Jonathan

Response to "The Honduran Coup: Was it a Matter of Behind the Scenes Finagling?"

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My comment referred to the second from “A.B.” I want to add and to tell him that the credibility of U.S. policy is since long at stake and so is the coverage by U.S. mainstream medias. Thanks to Internet everybody can research by him- or herself when honestly searching for the facts and compare them to each other.
I am a German woman engaged in the campaign to free the Cuban Five which is shared by millions all over the globe.
As Ricardo Alarcón, president of the Cuban Parliament, recently and complete correctly said: “Many Americans do not know about the Cuban Five because they have not been permitted to know.
Not only was the long trial of the Five maintained in the dark, Americans have not even been allowed to know that this case has been very much in the minds of many millions around the globe. The big corporate media that didn’t report their legal battle threw a similar curtain of silence around the wide, ever growing, movement of solidarity that the Cuban Five have received practically everywhere from Ireland to Tasmania, from Canada to Namibia. Churches, parliaments, human rights organizations, labor unions, writers, lawyers and peoples from all walks of life have expressed their concern and interest in all languages, English included.
But the Supreme Court did not bother to listen.” Neither do the U.S. mainstream medias, so far.

Comment by Josie Michel-Brüning

Response to "The Honduran Coup: Was it a Matter of Behind the Scenes Finagling?"

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All of COHA’s “investigations” on Honduras since June 28 have been so blatantly partialized and they have spread so much false information that they would have made Joseph Goebbels proud. Zelaya was altering the Constitution by summoning a Constituent Assembly that very same day by an exuctive decree that would have dissolved Congress and the Political Parties. Apart from all the violations Zelaya did in three years, he planned to dismantle the Constitution. It was not a coup. It was a legitimmate Constitutional Succession based on Article 239 of the Constitution that states that any attempt to modify articles of the Constitution relating to form and duration of government is high treason and the leader who does it ceases in office. Is Noam Chomsky dictating U.S. foreign policy and writing for COHA? I never thought I’d see the day that the Republican Party would be more democratic, legal and informed than the Democrats.

Comment by Victor Vallejo

Response to "The Honduran Coup: Was it a Matter of Behind the Scenes Finagling?"

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Dear Michaela D’Ambrosio,
I am appreciating your article very much! However, the last comments show very clear to me how difficult it must be in “God’s own land”, the USA, to tell the truth or even to ask such challenging questions for people with respective, from generation to generation transmitted views, because of the profit of few, the “elite”. Thank you for your courage to do so! And thanks to Larry Burns for having posted it.
May be, Obama needs such support by your information when wanting to keep to his promise of “change”.
I want to add a quotation of one of the political prisoners in the USA, apart from the Cuban 5 having fought against the US Mafia, there is the Indian one, Leonard Peltier (perhaps he is right?):
“September 11-13, 2009
A CounterPunch Exclusive
The Denial of My Parole
I am Barack Obama’s political prisoner now, and I hope and pray that he will adhere to the ideals that impelled him to run for president. But as Obama himself would acknowledge, if we are expecting him to solve our problems, we missed the point of his campaign. Only by organizing in our own communities and pressuring our supposed leaders can we bring about the changes that we all so desperately need. Please support the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee in our effort to hold the United States government to its own words.
I thank you all who have stood by me all these years, but to name anyone would be to exclude many more. We must never lose hope in our struggle for freedom.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier
Leonard Peltier #89637-132
US Penitentiary
PO Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837
For more information on Leonard Peltier visit the Leonard Peltier Defense-Offense Committee website.”
Best wishes for Obama and all of us!

Comment by Josie Michel-Brüning

Response to "The Honduran Coup: Was it a Matter of Behind the Scenes Finagling?"

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Wow! Yet another Conspiracy Theory.

How about this one? Zelaya wanted to stay in power as he himself stated on national TV. He was warned by Hondurans that he would be arrested but he continued, so the Honduran Supreme Court arrested him.

There is a National Telephone Company plus 3 private mega companies and about 20 other minor ones. Who needs to nationalize an outdated phone company when you can start up a new one, if you have the cash for any of this?

But those courts in Florida, USA must have it wrong that Zelaya’s cousin and buddies had been payed off. Justice in the States sucks I guess is what you mean.

So, yeah. Venezuelan justice must have it right, so let’s follow their lead.

Where do you people in COHA find these guys? At least, they should get complete facts.

Comment by J Gallardo

Response to "The Honduran Coup: Was it a Matter of Behind the Scenes Finagling?"

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COHA nevers ceases to amaze me with their claims about “non-partisanship.” Have we defined the word “Coup” all of a sudden? The military is NOT in power in Honduras. The Honduran Supreme Court ordered Zelaya outsted and his VICE-PRESIDENT placed in his place, according to the Honduran Constitution. Zelaya attempted to install a Chavez-like rule about the president running for life and the Honduran people, legislators, and Supreme Court would not hear of it.

What is it that makes this a “coup”??? The same political party is still in power.

Is it perhaps because Zelaya is a leftist like Chavez and Obama, that he’s getting all this support from COHA and the State Department????


Comment from A.B.

Response to "The Honduran Coup: Was it a Matter of Behind the Scenes Finagling?"

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Whilst your article contains a certain amount of speculation it is uncanny how the US relationships with Central America seem to repeat themselves. Arbenz in 1954; the Contra business, etc. One wonders if the Israelis were involved in some way in the recent Honduras mess as they were in the late 1970s/early 1980s in Guatemala when they armed the military and the associated death squads.

Comment from John Carnegie

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Response to "A Constructive Engagement with Cuba"

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Dear Mr. Hayes,
where do you get your information about Cuba from?
Your comment seems to be the repetition of
the so-called “public diplomacy” of somebody like Otto Reich is.
Have you ever been in Cuba, I guess you were not, because you were not allowed to travel to Cuba until now?
“Cuba is the hell,” they tell you, “but you’re not allowed to see yourself, what it is about in such propaganda.
Being a German woman, I am allowed to travel to Cuba, and I did so since more than 10 years frequently. I found out, circumstances are much different there than I was told by our mass medias at home also.
Did you ever read the reports by the UNESCO about Cuban health care, education and about its agricultural sustainable achievements?
And of course you never read reports by your own international well-known and appreciated compatriots, authors and scientists. – Did you ever read John Dinges, “The Condor years – How Pinochet and his Allies brought Terrorism to three Continents”? The manipulators had been within your successive governments, promoting the coups and the tortures …
Did you ever read declassified information about those events?
Apart from that, terrorism was carried out against Cuba by the exile Cubans in Miami causing 3.478 deaths and 2099 invalid people …
For having tried to prevent those acts, 5 Cubans are incarcerated in your country since 11 years. …

Post by Josie Michel-Brüning

Response to "Washington's Double Standard on Cuba"

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Dear Brandon Bloch,

thank you very much for your interesting, comprehensive and well-founded article including at the same time a listing up, what Washington is blaming Cuba for.
In response and to confirm your explanations, I would like to quote another one of your international well-known and appreciated U.S. authors, William Blum. He wrote in 1999 the following:
“Cuba 1959 to present: Fidel Castro came to power at the beginning of 1959. A U.S. National Security Council meeting of 10 March 1959 included on its agenda the feasibility of bringing “another government to power in Cuba.” There followed 40 years of terrorist attacks, bombings, full-scale military invasion, sanctions, embargos, isolation, assassinations … Cuba had carried out The Unforgivable Revolution, a very serious threat of setting a “good example” in Latin America.
The saddest part of this is that the world will never know what kind of society Cuba could have produced if left alone, if not constantly under the gun and the threat of invasion, if allowed to relax its control at home. The idealism, the vision, the talent, the internationalism were all there. But we’ll never know. And that of course was the idea.”
Cuba had had and has still, as your article shows, much more reasons for defending itself, than the USA ever had.
Within all these years, Cuba, nevertheless, tried to support the suppressed people – Nelson Mandela is in his own words still grateful to Fidel Castro for having helped him to come out of his imprisonment on Robin Island after 27 years. Referring to your mentioning that “the Cuban government provides refuge to Joanne Chesimard, who was a member of the Black Liberation Army wanted for the 1973 murder of a New Jersey State Trooper and viewed as notorious by U.S. authorities.” Until now she claims being innocent, not guilty for having committed murder nor even trying to kill a policeman. There is another famous case for example: Mimi Abu Jamul, although the alleged witness of the murder revoke his former testifying after 10 years. Mumia has – after about 30 years – still to fear his execution. Therefore, Cuba does not extradite its refugee on humanitarian grounds.
In addition, another quotation from an article by Leonard Peltier CounterPunch (090912): “The truth is the government wants me to falsely confess in order to validate a rather sloppy frame-up operation, one whose exposure would open the door to an investigation of the United States’ role in training and equipping goon squads to suppress a grassroots movement on Pine Ridge against a puppet dictatorship.
In America, there can by definition be no political prisoners, only those duly judged guilty in a court of law. It is deemed too controversial to even publicly contemplate that the federal government might fabricate and suppress evidence to defeat those deemed political enemies. But it is a demonstrable fact at every stage of my case.”

Being very grateful for your explanations I am going to copy your article and would like to translate it for my friends.

Comment from Josie Michel-Brüning

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Response to "A Constructive Engagement with Cuba"

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Dear Mr. Katz,
I agree it is healthy that the US is moving to become reengaged diplomatically with other nations in this hemisphere, and the broader world. When other nations are truly open to a meaningful dialogue and to reciprocal learning, that is.
In the case of Cuba, there are grave reasons to doubt that there is any intention to reciprocate, let alone to learn. Our nation’s record on human rights, while admittedly not perfect, has been improving over that last fifty years to a point that many nations were disappointed and outraged by the conduct of the Bush Administration, as well as its’ prevalent attitude when contrasted with that of former Presidents, including Mr.Bush’s own father. There must be many reasons so many choose to immigrate to the US, by legal or by other means.
Regarding Cuba, the Human and Civil Rights record for all but the Castro family, its’ chums, and the Communist Part elite is dismal, and factually, deteriorating on the whole. There are no signs that Raul Castro has any intention of doing more than paying lip service to this value, and the state of freedom of the press, personal expression, freedom to worship or to not participate in independant religion, the economy, and the infreedom of the political process itself in a single party state where only one candidate runs for a given office…there are no signs that the region’s teeming masses are struggling to immigrate to Cuba for any reason. Twenty million Mexicans can’t be wrong, perhaps many of us here in the US need to get back to our humb;er forbear’s immigrant roots and learn some lessons from more recent immigrants about other intransigent neighboring countries?

The condition of medical care in Cuba is one area in which the government has made some positive effort to care for the well being literally- of the people. arguably, more effectively than we have caused our government to help us care for ourselves.

Education, sadly, is not a laudable public service in Cuba, since government bureaucrats directly choose for each young person what they may study, and for what career, vocation, or job they must train. You, sir, are a journalist of some stead. How would you feel had the George Bush Admin. told you it was mandatory that you train to work in municipal sanitation, and only that being a garbageman would help you truly serve the Revolution and the People, and that you’d beimprisoned if you disagreed and attempted to pursue other studies and a different career?

A Response to "Venezuela's Polarized Society Split by Another Issue"

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The language prohibited in schools now includes things such as Jesus’ admonition that money-changers must leave the temple, the Beatitudes–feed the hungry, clothe the poor, clothe the naked, love thy neighbor as you seek to be loved yourself, etc., as well as factual reporting of floods, seismic events, etc..
All one has to do is watch any of the Government Controlled TV stations, basically all but Globovision, to learn the language of violence and schadenfreude.
Indoctrination a la Fidelismo is replacing all of this, much for the worse. We’ll probably be seeing this person who says he or she grew up in Barquisimeto here in the US in several years when Chavez has finally managed to totally collapse the economy and has sown widespread civil strife and unrest, whihc is all part of the Dialectic Programme to create a new human being free of the alleged taint of pre-socialist-worker society, just as we have seen formerly fervid pro-Fidel Cubans emigrate to Miami, a number of Fidel’s siblings and his own kids among them.

Here is a telling socio-economic fact. Before Chavez, Venezuela had mostly inept and corrupt presidents, but a few very good and effective ones, as well. Among the masses of self-serving bureaucrats, there were also a vew effective and dedicated public servants who were visionary. After the nationalization of the petroleum indiustry, the country, despite all its’ problems and faults, reduced poverty to under thirty percent, and was develpping plans and institutions to help that thirty percent. Evidently, that was not rapid enough to help poor people like this commentor. No percentage of pverty is acceptible, unless one happens to not be among that percentage, to borrow from Harry Truman. Post Chavez’ glorious Bolivarian Revolution, the actual poverty rate is now climbing past 65%, public hospitals have no medicines, inflation is now over 3% per month, even basic foodstuffs such as rice and beans are frequently not available and alwyas priced too high for most working consumers, and so on. There was a huge protest in Venezuela last week before Labor Day in the US, over the new Education Law, the Law for Protection of Minors, and a few others that are interwoven. Basically, all children are now wards of the satate, and parents have no right to teach traditional values, customs, ideas to their own kids, and kids now have incentives to rat out mom and dad if they do. Big Brother is alive and well in Cubazuela.

A Response to "Plan Ecuador"

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Necesito recursos, soy una madre ciudadana ecuatoriana que luego de haber REALIZADO EL ENCUENTRO INTERNACIONAL “La Educación Holística es Posible”, siento que necesito ser PROTEGIDA porque evidencié que LA CALIDAD MORAL DE LOS FUNCIONARIOS PÚBLICOS está afectando la integridad de los ciudadanos que no creemos en la violencia ni en la FRAGMENTACIÓN. Este pueblo ecuatoriano está muy CONTAMINADO y se han perdido ciertos valores como EL RESPETO Y LA LEALTAD. Los funcionarios publicos son UNO DE LOS PRINCIPALES PROBLEMAS PARA EL PRESIDENTE él y sus MINISTROS no tienen gente en quién confiar. Para el 28 de septiembre estoy coordinano una “Jornada por la Paz y la No violencia” pero necesito un respaldo de gente conciente que entiende la necesidad de VIVIR EN ARMONÌA CON LA NATURALEZA y CON EL PLANETA TIERRA. Aquí no hay ese nivel de conciencia…

Cuenca y la Región 6
“Hacia Una Cultura de Paz”

“La Marcha Mundial por la Paz”
Marlon Ovando

Saludos cordiales,

Es un motivo de mucha satisfacción hacerte llegar este testimonio de adhesión a la Marcha Mundial por la Paz:

La Fundación Holos es una institución sin fines de lucro, establecida en Cuenca-Ecuador, con el objeto de promover el desarrollo humano integral a través de la aplicación de las teorías, métodos y prácticas educativas de naturaleza holística, alternativa e inclusiva, para el beneficio de la comunidad educativa del país y la región, para así fomentar el diálogo interdisciplinario y el establecimiento de una ciudadanía global de paz.


Nosotros creemos en que sí es posible alcanzar la paz y la armonía universales, vemos a la educación holística como un mecanismo que prepara al ser humano “completo” para mejorar el mundo. Deseamos contagiar la necesidad de desarrollar una mirada interior que permita a cada adulto ser responsable de su existencia y así contribuir desde cada uno en la construcción de “un mundo mejor”, que las interrelaciones sociales no se basen más en el separatismo y orgullo propio sino en la unión y confianza mutua.

Cualquier civilización que se fundamenta en dividir a las personas, lleva la semilla de su propia destrucción en sí misma. La educación apropiada dentro de un sistema de valores correcto abrirá la mirada interior y hará que las personas vean la verdad.

“La Marcha Mundial por la Paz” es una gran iniciativa que hace de cada adulto y de cada persona que adhiera un EDUCADOR ACTIVO, la infancia aprende de lo que ve no de lo que le dicen. Juntos por UN MUNDO MEJOR unidos somos UNO.

María Rosa Darquea
Cuenca – Ecuador

Thursday, September 10, 2009


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COHA Staff

A Response to "Obama and the Honduran Crisis"

Read the original article here.

I was in Honduras for two weeks immediately after Zelaya's removal and kept close watch on the country through my job both before and after the removal. I had close personal access to the best information about most of what was happening in the country at the time. I expected to get down there and see exactly what all the media stereotypes portrayed in the first few days' aftermath: lots of violence, rioting, repression, etc. I could not have been more mistaken, and it was the shock of my life, to be honest.

Things were so normal that you wouldn't believe it. The city was not on lock-down, and life as usual continued. Yes there was a curfew, but Hondurans I spoke to at great length were completely fine with this- it reduced criminal violence for the period it was in place, a nice respite from the heightening crescendo of delinquency during the Zelaya years. In fact, I saw very, very few military or police personnel anywhere on the streets, even in nicer areas where you'd expect them to be omnipresent to prevent problems for the privileged folks that supposedly all back Michelletti once he assumed the presidency.

And the country was not/is not on the verge of civil war, and anyone who says that is not spending enough time on the ground there AND is not owning up to the fact that Central America is no longer in the 1980s. And even if Honduras did somehow devolve into civil conflict, it would have nada to do with Zelaya- he's called for an insurrection how many times, and it hasn't happened yet, has it? That'e because they don't like Zelaya, he has few supporters, and he's a political has-been who Hondurans are perfectly content to have out of country and no longer directly involved in their domestic politics. They felt he was a national embarrassment- his cheap antics with Honduran melons, his whole-family photo ops with former Pres Bush, his naming of a 29-year old model as ambassador to Mexico, the cowboy hat and boots, the popular vernacular and outdated anti-imperialist catch phrases all marked Zelaya as an anachronism for the times, and Hondurans knew it. Add to that his total inconsistency in domestic and foreign policy, his total personal unpredictability, and other stunts that befuddled and embarrassed Hondurans all over. I'm not just talking about rich Hondurans- I traveled around and spoke to poor ones, too. The ones who allegedly all support Zelaya in some folk's antiguated view of polarized Latin America from the Cold War. The poor ones I did meet who liked Zelaya had really bizarre reasons for it: they thought Michelletti was an Arab, for example, and that as president he would allow Iran (?!) to take over Honduras, for instance. So I don't have a lot of faith in Zelaya supporters and if they're any reflection of the man himself, then he's truly poorly suited to lead anything, let alone a country.

There were protests, but for the most part they were all bluster. The protestors- nearly all of which were Zelayistas and a large number of which were paid to protest- did a lot of wrecking of private property and public infrastructure, but generally did not attack the military/police and the security forces, in turn, seldom had any reason to act against the protesters. Most of the pro-Zelaya camp were exceedingly lazy at protests and usually left after getting their free food, a benefit of showing up for demonstrations. I have videos of this as evidence. Thus there was no repression becuase there was no one to repress. I used to sit and watch the CNN and Fox reports moments after something happened in front of me, and they were almost invariably wrong and draped in more drama than actually occurred on the streets. Those military or police personnel who got out of hand were isolated and did not represent a state-sponsored strategy. I happen to know for a fact that military and police personnel who got out of hand during the July 5 riots at the airport and subsequent ones were held to account by the interim government. The military are not thugs, the military is not the government, the government is not using the military to keep order any more than Zelaya tried using it to suit his own personal agenda at various moments. In fact, though I know Michelletti is no saint, he's done a far more admirable job of using the military keep public order during the crisis than Zelaya did his entire time in office, during which crime spiralled out of control and security forces were generally used not to keep order but to promote aspects of Zelaya's personal agenda- like paying protesters to surge against the legislature building, then pay cops to storm in threatenign violence, then Zelaya would show up and resolve the "crisis" and seem like a hero- even though he had personally orchestrated it.

The police are not torturing people who they detain for being out after the curfew, and there are no vast and widespread violations of human rights. The police, actually, detain people out after the curfew, hold them over night (they are not arrested in the formal sense- so no permanent criminal record), and report detainees to the local human rights ombudsman so that records are kept for liability purposes, since they know they'll be shrilly accused of abuses, et al.

The US did not instigate a coup or back it, and had zilch to do with most of what happened in the country after the fact. In fact, I can personanly vouch for the fact that the US was just as surprised and confused as anyone else when Zelaya was removed from country. The US did not see a coup coming- and the US line to any Honduran who ever remotely hinted at removing Zelaya was that whatever was done by Honduras, was be done by Hondurans... But if they expected the US to even consider supporting them, it had to be done legally and constitutionally. Hondurans opposed to Zelaya in high levels of government seemed contact to leave it at that. The idea that the US has some sort of special control over Honduras is erroneous- that ended quite a while ago, and even at its height it was never as all-consuming as people think it was. The US does not have magical power over other countries, even poor and otherwise powerless ones like Honduras. The US does not have most of the power so frequently attributed to it on this site's articles or on any other site. Hondurans are perfectly capable of messing themselves up without CIA or Pentagon authorization or instigation. Hillary Clinton is not serving Chiquita Banana and while the buck does stop with Obama, Honduras isn't Obama's responsibility and, at any rate, he has his plate full with other pressing issues.


Friday, September 04, 2009

A Reponse to "Haiti's Minimum Wage Battle"

Read the original article here

Hello good folks at COHA,

I'm writing concerning one bit in an otherwise quite excellent analysis of the recent struggle over Haiti's minimum wage. What got stuck in my craw was this line:

"Préval’s supporters, despite his calls for nonviolence and respect for the rule of law, took to the streets of Port-au-Prince in large and violent protests against evidence of voting fraud."

The article goes on to state that the CEP aimed to "quell the violence" of Preval's supporters, etc. My problem is that, having followed rather closely the elections in February 2006, I don't recall coming across any evidence of violence on the part of the protesters. There were huge marches and flaming barricades that virtually paralyzed the capital, but the only violence I read about was on two separate occasions where UN troops shot dead protestors manning a barricade.

The protests were militant but incredibly disciplined; one account by a priest travelling with Desmond Tutu who was at the Hotel Montana (the election HQ of the CEP) when it was stormed by Preval supporters, and was impressed by the fact that there was no looting or vandalism by the demonstrators. The mood was clearly one of jubilation, judging by the images of the protestors swimming in the hotel's pool, enjoying a privilege usually reserved for the elite and their foreign accomplices.

Now, it's possible I missed some real incidents in my monitoring of the media at the time, but the only sources that claimed any "violence" were those elite Haitians like Lannec Hurbon (who was in France at the time) expressing their horror at how the country was being given over to "mob rule". In my opinion, the accusations of "violence" are nothing more than pure elite hysteria of the sort typically provoked by popular mobilizations in highly class-divided societies such as Haiti.

These kinds of delusions are all too common in the mainstream media concerning the Lavalas movement, and indeed for over 200 years the Haitian masses have been slandered as "violent" . But COHA has been one of the few consistently critical voices on Haiti, which makes me doubt the error was intentional on the part of COHA's researcher and is why I opted to point it out, hoping for an explanation, or failing that, a correction. Thanks for your attention to this matter.


Nik Barry-Shaw
Haiti Action Montreal, of the Canada-Haiti Action Network

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A Response to Nidya Sarria's Small Arms in Latin America Piece

Read the original article here

Thanks very much for that. The part of the book you referred me to clarified what you were saying. As it turned out the weapons came from an unexpected source: the Honduran military officials, hoping to cash in on the debris of Nicaragua's civil war, had raided weapons caches left over by the CIA in their country. These arms originally were intended for the Contras as Congress was preparing to cut off funding. When the Contras faded from the scene, the weapons lay unused but secured. With the assistance of professional arms dealers, they found their way to left-wing rebels in El Salvador.)

I have added what I think were some missing bits in what you wrote that now make more sense. Sorry to be a pain, but the Honduran military being helpful by supplying arms to the FMLN is beyond imagining. The Honduran military being corrupt and selling weapons in the black market is more realistic. The Honduran military were in no way "supplying" the FMLN and really I think it is politically ludicrous and even offensive to link the two structures. Or to link the CIA to supplying Nicaragua when they were in fact attacking Nicaragua.

Linda Seaborn
Tasmania, Australia