Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

British anti-war activists blockade weapons manufacturing company

Press TV – March 20, 2013

British anti-war activists have sealed off a weapons manufacturing company in Brighton to mark 10 years after the UK government joined the U.S.-led invasion on Iraq on March 2003.

The protesters, who had gathered in front of the EDO MBM weapons manufacturing plant from dawn, fastened themselves to the front gates with superglue and bicycle locks.

Two arrests were made by police forces during the six-hour standoff, but the whole gathering continued without violence, according to British media reports.

The anti-war activists from Smash EDO lashed out at engineers of the factory for churning out millions of pounds worth of bomb racks, arming units and parts for aircraft weapon systems every year.

EDO MBM is one of several companies supplying Paveway missiles used in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a component for U.S. planes carrying cluster bombs banned under an international treaty signed by Britain in 2008.

Smash EDO’s Chloe Marsh described the day’s protest as a memorial to Iraq’s dead as well as a direct action.

“The case for war was put to people in the UK on the basis of an immediate threat from Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction.’

“This turned out, as expected, to be a lie. As a result, according to the Lancet, over a million Iraqi citizens have died.”

Fellow protester Andrew Beckett said: “We are here to commemorate those who died in the aerial bombardment of Iraq and to resist EDO MBM’s continued supply of components to the US/UK military.”

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Comments Off on British anti-war activists blockade weapons manufacturing company

Plan Cóndor: The Search for Justice

By Emily Tarbuck | The Argentina Independent | March 20, 2013

Earlier this month, a trial of monumental historic significance commenced in Argentina. A trial that will see a group of military leaders prosecuted for their involvement in the ‘Plan Cóndor’ campaign; an agreement between the right-wing dictatorships of South America which led to the disappearance and murder of up to 80,000 people during the 1970s and 1980s.

In what is expected to last two years, and call upon over 500 witnesses, the trial represents a significant step towards achieving justice for crimes against humanity committed at the hands of the Southern Cone’s brutal collusion.

The History

The brutal right-wing military dictatorships that raged terror and political oppression across the continent defined the 1970s and 1980s in South America. The exact number of victims is disagreed upon, but it is estimated that the era saw the ‘disappearance’ of over 60,000 people in the fight to eradicate communist influence on the continent.

The sprawling dictatorships across the continent led to the clandestine kidnapping, torture, and murder of thousands of Latin Americans, with the aim of “eliminating Marxist subversion”, from Argentina, to the Augusto Pinochet-ruled Chile.

Targets of the eradication were officially stated as members of left-wing armed groups such as the MIR (Chile), the Montoneros (Argentina), and the Tupamaros (Uruguay), although the operation targeted trade unionists, family members, and anyone remotely considered a ‘political opponent’.

The formation of ‘Plan Cóndor’ – or ‘Operation Condor’ in English– was paramount to the continuation and reach of the dictatorships. The collusion of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Brazil (and later Ecuador and Peru) enabled leaders to obtain resources and allies, thus continuing their left-wing eradication.

Set in the context of the Cold War, there was a palpable communist fear felt across the globe; something that enabled the dictatorships to garner significant funding and assistance from the United States. Declassified CIA documents –thousands of which were released in 1999 (here, here, here, and here)- show the key role the US played in the proliferation of the dictatorships. Politicians such as former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger have been heavily implicated as having been fundamental in the realisation of the kidnapping, torture, and murder of political enemies.

Argentina in particular saw one of the highest cases of ‘disappearances’ during the period of mass military dictatorships, with human rights’ organisations estimating the figure to stand at 30,000. Justice for the crimes against humanity committed during this period of state terrorism arguably began with the Juicio a las Juntas in 1985. The trial proved the crimes of the dictatorship for the first time, and led to the imprisonment of key figures such as Jorge Videla and Emilio Massera, both of whom received life imprisonment sentences, along with numerous others.

However, the work of the historic trial was largely undone, or at least heavily marred, by the amnesty laws passed during Raul Alfonsin’s government, which protected military officers from allegations and prosecution for crimes against humanity. This was followed by President Carlos Menem’s pardoning of the junta leaders in 1989. Protests and campaigning by organisations such as the Madres of Plaza de Mayo were fundamental in the repeal of the amnesty laws by the Argentine Supreme Court in 2005 under the government of Néstor Kirchner.

The Trial

For the first time, the collusion between governments and dictators under the ‘Plan Cóndor’ campaign will be investigated. Twenty five defendants are on trial in Buenos Aires in what has been described as a ‘mega-trial’, expected to last two years and scheduled to hear 500 witness statements. Lawyer Carolina Varsky described the trial as: “historic as it’s the first to deal with the repression coordinated between Latin American dictatorships.”

All suspects being tried are Argentine, with the exception of Uruguayan Manuel Cordero, who is accused of participating in death squads and torture at the Orletti clandestine detention centre in the city. Cordero was extradited by Brazil, where he was living prior to the trial. The list of defendants features 22 Argentine military intelligence officers and agents, including former de facto presidents Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, both of whom are already serving life imprisonment sentences, which they will most likely not outlive.

Argentine political scientist Ariel Raidan spoke with The Argentina Independent about the significance of the commencement of the trial, and said how it signifies the government’s focus on “building a more just society, where truth and justice come first, overcoming years of impunity.”

“The countries of the continent are beginning to revise its tragic past. Both advances and setbacks have occurred in the fight for justice over the years, but this trial has a clear conviction to expose as many facts as possible” continued Raidan.

The trial will investigate the cases of over 170 victims, including 65 who were imprisoned at the infamous Orletti torture centre in Buenos Aires. Victims were often kidnapped from their home country and transported to the facilities of a neighbouring country; a practice made possible by the collusion of governments in the Southern Cone. Much evidence to be examined in the trial, and what prosecutors are heavily basing their case upon, comes from the now declassified US documents, obtained by the non-governmental organisation National Security Archive. Released under the Freedom of Information Act, the documents detail how Henry Kissinger and many other high-ranking officials in the US not only gave full support and funding to the Argentine military junta, but also urged the country to accelerate protocol and finish their operations before the US Congress cut aid. The documents, featuring signatures of many high-ranking officials, have led to accusations that the US was a secret collaborator, partner, and sponsor of the operation.

Additionally, documents identified as the ‘Archives of Terror’, discovered in a police station in 1992, were significant in the uncovering of the role of Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. These countries provided intelligence information that had been requested by ‘Plan Cóndor’ participating countries.

The victims are comprised of approximately 80 Uruguayans, 50 Argentines, 20 Chileans, and a dozen from Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador. The disappearance of two Cuban consulate officials will also form part of the proceedings. Out of the 170 victims, 42 survived the dictatorship’s brutal treatment and many of them are expected to give first hand accounts during their testimonies in court. The remaining victims were murdered or ‘disappeared’ at the hands of the Cóndor agreement.

John Dinges, author of ‘The Condor Years: How Pinochet and his Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents’, said that, “this is historic in the sense that we’re going to hear from 500 witnesses. And really, in the Latin American legal system, it’s unusual. It’s really only coming to the fore now that you hear witnesses, as opposed to just seeing them give their testimony to judges in a closed room, and then later on people like me might go and read those testimonies, but really it doesn’t become public. This is all public. And apparently, a lot of it is being videotaped. So this is the first time that the general public is going to hear the details of this horrible, horrible list of atrocities that killed so many people.”

Alcira Ríos, the lawyer representing a Paraguayan victim whose case is to be tried in the coming months, said “we’re delighted that after years of struggle this has finally come to trial… the ‘disappeared’ deserve justice.”

The Future

Raidan spoke of his hope that “the trial will shed light on the specific articulation and coordination of the military juntas that ruled the countries of the Southern Cone”. The hope of many is to see clandestine details released that have for so long been shrouded in secrecy and cover-ups. The culmination of new documents, evidence, and witness statements has created a strong sense of hope that further justice will be achieved over the course of the trial. “The documents are very useful in establishing a comprehensive analytical framework of what Operation Condor was,” said Pablo Enrique Ouvina, the lead prosecutor in the case.

Miguel Angel Osorio, federal prosecutor in the case, has said that he is convinced of the existence of Operation Condor and that he believes it will be clearly proved, as well as “the actions of those implicated [in the plan] which prove that there was a illicit agreement to move people from one country to another”.

Perhaps closure will not be fully achieved over the brutal repression and crimes against humanity committed during this era, but there is a palpable sense surrounding the case that some semblance of a resolution will be achieved; that justice will be reached.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Plan Cóndor: The Search for Justice

U.S./Israel Axis of Evil

By Margaret Kimberley | Black Agenda Report  | March 20, 2013

President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel signals nothing but bad news for the Palestinian people and probably the people of the rest of the world too. Every American president who has served since Israel’s founding has put chosen Israeli interests over those of their own people. Israel may kill United States servicemen as it did in attacking the U.SS. Liberty in 1967. American citizen Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli tractor when she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home. Furkan Dogan was assassinated by Israeli soldiers on board a freedom flotilla vessel bound for Gaza. Neither the sailors on board the Liberty, nor Corrie, nor Dogan received any justice from their government. There is very little justice when it comes to Israeli/American relations.

It will be important to keep that in mind while watching Obama’s “listening” trip to Israel, Palestine and Jordan. The president’s first visit to Israel since his election is nothing more than a public relations ruse. Obama will do just as his predecessors did in regards to Israel, that is to say, whatever the Israelis want him to do.

It doesn’t matter that Prime Minister Netanyahu practically endorsed Mitt Romney during his presidential campaign. Romney’s well heeled Zionist supporters wasted their war chests and not just because theirs was a losing effort. They were going to get what they wanted from whomever emerged victorious in November. There was no need to spread around all that cash.

If Obama acts true to form during his trip, he will perform his usual double talk routine. He will say things that make his liberal fans happy, such as making bland comments about Palestinian rights. Such talk should be ignored because Obama loves nothing more than behind the scenes wheeling and dealing with people whom he allegedly opposes.

Just as he gave us sequestration and cuts to entitlement programs, he will mouth the right words but give Israel the go ahead on anything they want. Obama is after all the more effective evil. His common sense tells him that a shooting war against Iran would be difficult to pull off, but he has crushed the Iranian economy with sanctions. Iranians are going without food and medicines because the United States and NATO want them to submit to western dictates on nuclear production and on their very existence as a sovereign nation.

One by one, the dominoes have fallen to the Obama regime. On this tenth anniversary of the occupation of Iraq, it is important to remember that Barack Obama made good on the neo-con dream of an American empire. He has gone where Reagan and the Bush presidents would not. He killed Gaddafi, he is destroying Syria, he is sending troops to occupy the African continent.

If anyone can get away with making Israeli fantasies of regional domination come true, it is Obama.

If the flies on the wall during the Obama and Netanyahu meetings could talk, they would have much to tell us. Netanyahu is likely to get his own version of a sequestration deal. A promise to cease and desist from showing badly made drawings of Iranian bombs in exchange for patience and a certainty that the United States will live up to its promise to be Israel’s best friend. Obama’s diabolical ability to make his supporters believe that he isn’t doing things he clearly is doing will come in handy when dealing with the likes of Netanyahu.

The United States will do as it has done for decades. It will keep vetoing United Nations resolutions which criticize Israel. It will keep arming Israel and agreeing to settlements which steal Palestinian land. When Israel decides to massacre people in Lebanon or Gaza or anywhere else, the United States government will either voice support or be silent.

Obama’s relationship with Israel and its American Zionist supporters is but one example of why the ruling classes chose him for the presidency. As we have pointed out in Black Agenda Report, pax Americana could only succeed if the brand was rebooted. “So much face was lost, it required that the Empire put a new, Black face forward, so as to resume the game under (cosmetically) new circumstances.”

The nonsensical dance goes something like this. Racists attack Obama. Progressives defend Obama. Obama goes behind closed doors to do what progressives say they don’t want. Obama lies and claims he didn’t do what he in fact did. Progressives are happy. The world suffers anew.

Obama is not without pride and ego. He did make Netanyahu wait for a meeting after he so publicly backed Romney. Ultimately though, he does what the system requires of him. In the end, Israel will get a pass or even American help for its next nefarious plan. No listening is needed to make that prediction.

Margaret Kimberley lives in New York City and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Obama’s Still Shopping for a Grand Bargain

By Shamus Cooke | Worker’s Action | March 19, 2013

President Obama’s recent closed-door sessions with Republican congressmen to reach a “grand bargain” has roused suspiciously little attention in the mainstream media. What scant reporting has occurred presents the following narrative: President Obama is a “middle ground” politician attempting to breach political divides with erstwhile Republican opponents. In reality these meetings are not between political opposites, but kindred spirits; perfectly matched ideologies that differ only in implementation, and only by degrees.

Here’s a summary of the meetings by the conservative Economist magazine:

On March 6th he [Obama] took 12 Republican senators out to dinner at a posh hotel in Washington… The [Republican] guests noted with surprise and delight that he [Obama] listened more than he talked…The next day Mr. Obama invited [Republican] Paul Ryan to lunch at the White House…This week he is paying three visits to Congress on three consecutive days, to make his pitch for a grand bargain to each party’s caucus in both chambers.

The article fails to remind us what the definition of a “Grand Bargain” is, nor its political/historical significance. Essentially the Grand Bargain is a bi-partisan plan that does two things: 1) reduces the national deficit by cutting so-called “entitlement programs” (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, etc.) and 2) raises revenue via taxation (not necessarily from the wealthy and corporations).

Does this make Obama a treacherous renegade of the Democratic Party? Not quite.

Many Democrats are leading the attack on popular “entitlement” programs erected under Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal (Social Security) and enhanced by Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs (Medicare). These are the bedrock social programs of the modern Democratic Party. But even bedrock turns into quicksand over time. The Democrats of today have been radically transformed, thanks to a monsoon of corporate cash that has eroded the parties affiliation to its past.

The corporate Democrats in the Senate have been so complicit in the Grand Bargaining that the pro-Democrat New York Times recently congratulated them for putting forth their own proposed budget, in an attempt to separate them from the political fallout that would come if a Grand Bargain actually came to fruition. The New York Times reports:

It’s been four years since the Democrats who control the Senate produced a budget. That has meant four missed opportunities to demonstrate what they stand for, in hard numbers and clear spending priorities. On Wednesday, the chamber’s leaders stiffened their spines and issued a 2014 budget.

In reality it’s not about stiff spines but saved faces. This Grand Bargain conversation has been happening in the media since Obama was elected in 2008, and only now, when the chapter’s final paragraph is being written, do Senate Democrats put forward an alternative ending they know won’t pass.

But what about the progressive caucus Democrats in the House of Representatives? They too are complicit in the crimes of the corporate Blue Dog Democrats. For example, you would be hard pressed to find even the most progressive Democrat publicly denounce Obama’s scheming to cut Social Security and Medicare; instead, these progressive Democrats spend their time pointing out the obvious — that Republicans would like to cut these popular programs.

This type of distraction provides vital political cover for Obama to continue his right wing policies. The progressive caucus thus minimizes or ignores the sins of its leadership, guaranteeing that the rightward drift of the Democrats will continue.

It’s true that the progressive caucus released a progressive budget as an alternative to the Republican’s — and Obama’s — budget. But this budget has no chance of being passed, and progressive caucus Democrats have no intention of building a movement that might give life to such a budget, since it would make their leadership look bad and divide their party.

At the end of the day the progressive Democrats will fall in line with the Democratic leadership, as they typically do. If Obama needs the votes, the progressives will cough them up. One of the first “progressive” Democrats to jump on the Grand Bargain bandwagon is Congressmen Sheldon Whitehouse, who, in speaking about the President’s Grand Bargain hunting said:

We will have your [Obama’s] back, you will have ours, together we will give President Obama all the support he needs during these [Grand Bargain] negotiations.

This progressive caucus complicity was also noted recently by Norman Solomon, (a longtime associate of the media watch group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) who noticed that curiously few progressive caucus members had signed onto a letter that pledged to vote against any budget that included cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The political winds have shifted to the right, and the progressives would like to stay Democrats, which now means supporting cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

This wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who had read the recent article by John Stauber, who traced the origins of the “Progressive Movement,” which was set up by the rich Democrats who lead the party, as a way to counteract the Republicans media savvy. The point of the Progressive Movement and progressive Democrats is not to change society, but to beat Republicans in elections by creating the appearance of a groundswell of support for Democratic Party policies.

At the end of the day a so-called progressive Democrat is still a Democrat, and the Democratic Party has re-made its image to reflect the interests of its new big donors from Wall Street, who now feel as comfortable buying Democrats as they do purchasing a Republican politician.

Both Republicans and Democrats know that a Grand Bargain comes with gigantic political risks, most notably political suicide, since the party that cuts Social Security and Medicare will earn the hatred of 99% of Americans. Their ingenious answer is to blame each other. The progressive Democrats and Tea Party Republicans who stand on the sidelines during this fiasco — without taking any real action to stop it — stand to benefit from the outcome, and will loudly denounce the treachery post-treachery, their own names remaining unbesmirched.

But the majority of people in the U.S. will see through such blatant opportunism, and will trust neither party again. The far right will thus rush to organize a new political party, while the labor and community groups supporting the Democrats will either do the same or continue hitching their fortunes to a flagship sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Obama’s Still Shopping for a Grand Bargain

31% of Americans Have Abandoned News Outlets Due to Perceived Decline in Quality

By Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman | AllGov | March 20, 2013

News organizations have lost a significant share of their audience due to budget cuts that have impacted the quality and quantity of reporting.

A new poll from the Pew Research Center found that 31% of respondents said they had stopped using a particular news outlet because it was no longer providing the same kind of news and information as in the past.

Pew researchers said that those most likely to stop using news sources were better educated, wealthier and older than those who still used them—“in other words, they are people who tend to be most prone to consume and pay for news,” Pew’s The State of the News Media 2013 read.

Losses of subscribers and ad revenues have negatively impacted many news organizations in recent years, forcing layoffs and reduced coverage. Most of the people to whom Pew researchers talked were either largely or entirely unaware of this situation, the survey revealed.

There is, however, a glimmer of hope for the embattled newspaper industry, which has been under financial duress since the onset of the recession in 2007 and growing competition from online news services. The Pew study reports that a trend of stabilizing revenue is evidenced by news organizations’ use of social media to support advertisers, digital pay plans, increased investor interest, and across-the-board advertising growth attributed to a modestly improving economy.

The Pew authors concede, however, that these positive signs “are, for the time being, mostly promise rather than performance,” and that the overall prognosis still appears grim.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Palestinians erect new ‘village’ as Obama lands in Israel

Ma’an – 20/03/2013

BETHLEHEM – Palestinians on Wednesday erected a new “village” encampment in Eizariya to stake their sovereignty and claims to return to their towns and villages.

Activists said they set up 15 tents on a hillside near the original “Bab al-Shams” village that Israeli forces tore down two months earlier.

In a statement, the activists described the initiative as “first, to claim our right as Palestinians to return to our lands and villages, second, to claim our sovereignty over our lands without permission from anyone.”

The action coincided with US President Barack Obama’s arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport.

The activists said it aimed to highlight their opposition to the Obama administration’s policies in the region, saying in the statement that it has been “complicit in Israeli occupation and colonialism.”

“An administration that used the veto 43 times … in support of Israel and against Palestinian rights, an administration that grants military aid to Israel of over three billion dollars annually, can’t have any positive contribution to achieve justice,” the statement said.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Comments Off on Palestinians erect new ‘village’ as Obama lands in Israel

Venezuelan Electoral Authority Rejects U.S. Government Statements

Telesur –  March 19, 2013

Tibisay Lucena, the president of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) rejected statements on Sunday by U.S. State Department Assistant Secretary for Latin America Roberta Jacobson, who said it would be “a little difficult” for Venezuela to have “clean and transparent elections,” next month on April 14.

“We roundly reject the naïve statements of Ms. Roberta Jacobson, for their meddling and disrespectful content,” Lucena said during a speech at the CNE headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela. “Jacobson said that the elections in Venezuela should be free and fair, causing some to believe that Venezuelan elections do not comply with the basic conditions, when our electoral system has been recognized nationally and internationally, both by voters at home and abroad by experts like former President Jimmy Carter, who said that ‘Venezuela has the best electoral system in the world,’” she said.

Lucena called the statements imprudent, “especially when they come from the United States, a country with a fragile and unsafe electoral system that increasingly excludes minorities and low-income sectors.”

She said that Venezuela has an electoral system that guarantees the sovereign decision of voters “and while we audit 54% of the electoral booths at the end of the day, in the United States the results aren’t audited. For a long time, citizens’ groups have been fighting to be allowed to audit three to five percent of the booths after voting.”

She said that Venezuela’s fully automated electoral system, “more than just a technological platform, is the instrument of the expression of all our people.”

Lucena also announced Sunday that tests have already been carried out on the electoral platform ahead of the April 14 presidential vote “and we can guarantee that the machinery is working properly.”

“We guarantee trustworthy, transparent results and the integrity of the Venezuelan electoral system,” she said.

During the testing of the voting equipment, Lucena added, electoral accompaniers were present from the Inter-American Union of Electoral Bodies (UNIORE) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

The CNE announced the date of the upcoming elections on March 9, and began accepting candidacies the next day. Campaigning will occur from April 2 to 11 at midnight.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Comments Off on Venezuelan Electoral Authority Rejects U.S. Government Statements

Former Argentine Dictator Calls for Coup Against Cristina Kirchner’s Government

By Sara Kozameh | CEPR Americas Blog | March 19, 2013

On Saturday March 16th, a weekly newspaper from Spain, Cambio16, published an interview with jailed former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla. Videla is serving two life sentences, another 50-year sentence, and continues to stand trial, for crimes against humanity, kidnapping, torture, and the unlawful appropriation of babies (that were taken from female prisoners who gave birth in captivity before they were murdered). These were crimes that he and fellow junta leaders committed following the 1976 coup d’état that they directed and that was responsible for the kidnapping, torture and deaths of an estimated 30,000 Argentines.

When his interviewer, Ricardo Angoso, whom Página/12 points out is a stated opponent of the Kirchner government and far-right journalist, asked him what he would say to his “comrades” also serving time in prison for similar convictions, he stated:

I want to remind each one of them, especially the younger ones, who today on average fall between the ages of 58-68, and are still physically capable of combat, that in the case that this unjust imprisonment and slandering of the republic’s basic values continues, you reserve the duty of arming yourselves again in defense of the republic’s basic institutions, which are today being trampled upon by the Kirchner regime, led by president Cristina and her henchmen.*

According to Página/12, Videla also accuses the current government of wanting to turn towards a “failed communism of the Cuban sort.” He then declares that “it will again be the security and armed forces who, along with the people –from which they [the security and armed forces] originate- will impede it”.

As most people who pay attention to international economics can easily tell, the Kirchners’ economic and social policies fall far from this characterization of “failed communism,” and are in actuality those of a democratic western-style capitalist economy with some elements of a social-democratic state.

But that did not stop Videla from calling the armed forces to combat:  he issued a plea for the “citizenry to reject the dictators of Kirchnerism and its henchmen” and to make the “sole totalitarianism that currently governs… bite the dust forever” in Argentina. Finally, he called out the current opposition, accusing them of having “succumbed to fear and the bribes that the government imposes in all areas”.

Videla’s comments come at a time when Argentina and its government are being praised internationally for human rights trials that have convicted and brought to justice scores of perpetrators of human rights abuses during the dictatorship. Most recently, the trial against perpetrators of “Plan Condor” –a coordinated effort by the militaries of several South American countries to wipe out all opposition to their dictatorships- is under way as Argentina’s largest human rights trial yet.

Major news outlets from all ends of the political spectrum in Argentina covered Videla’s interview, with headlines such as “A golpista provocation by Videla from Prison” in the conservative and opposition newspaper El Clarín, and “Videla Called for an Armed Uprising by the Armed Forces” in the anti-government La Nación.

Former dictator Videla has also been in the news lately as the election of the new pope, from Argentina, has revived debate over accusations against Pope Francis and his ties to the dictatorship, and the well-established complicity of much of the Argentine Catholic Church in the regime’s repression.

*All translations were made by the author of this post.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Former Argentine Dictator Calls for Coup Against Cristina Kirchner’s Government

Genocide trial of former Guatemala dictator Rios Montt opens

Press TV – March 20, 2013

The trial of former Guatemalan dictator Gen. Efrain Rios Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity has finally started in the Central American country.

The trial for crimes, which the US-backed strongman allegedly committed during his 1982-1983 rule, opened on Tuesday in a Guatemala City courtroom. The three-judge panel is hearing the case.

“It’s historic,” Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz said ahead of the trial. “We cannot leave thousands of deaths unpunished. We must deliver justice to the victims.”

Rios Montt was not prosecuted for decades since he was protected as a congressman by a law that grants immunity to public officials in Guatemala.

The 86-year-old left Congress in January 2012 and was ordered to stand trial. On January 26, 2012, Rios Montt appeared in court and was formally indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Prosecutors allege Rios Montt turned a blind eye as army soldiers used rape, torture, and arson against leftist rebels of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) and targeted indigenous people during a counterinsurgency offensive that killed at least 1,771 members of the Ixil group of Mayan Indians.

Prosecutors argued that Rios Montt’s regime put indigenous people in concentration camps and ordered soldiers to use rape and torture as a means of terrifying the population.

Rios Montt’s defense lawyer accused one of the judges of being hostile to his client. Francisco Garcia Gudiel was dismissed from the case by chief judge Iris Yasmin Barrios.

More than 200,000 civilians, most of them of Mayan descent, were killed during the 1960-1996 civil war.

“This is the first time anywhere in the world that a former head of state is being put on trial for genocide by a national tribunal,” United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Until quite recently, no one believed a trial like this could possibly take place in Guatemala, and the fact that it is happening there… should give encouragement to victims of human rights violations all over the world,” she added.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Comments Off on Genocide trial of former Guatemala dictator Rios Montt opens

Nato gets information about region from Qatar: Official

By Azmat Haroon | The Peninsula | March 20, 2013

Doha: Nato receives important strategic information about this region from Qatar, a Nato official said yesterday.

“Qatar is considered to be a very positive partner from this region. It has knowledge about this region that Nato doesn’t have in Brussels,” Lieutenant General Arne Bard Dalhaug, Commandant of Nato Defence College told The Peninsula yesterday.

He was leading an 80-member delegation to Qatar for a conference organised by the Qatar Armed Forces at the Hilton Hotel.

The delegation, arrived here from Rome, will visit Abu Dhabi today, followed by stopovers in Paris, London and Berlin.

General Dalhaug said the Nato Defence College often trains Qatari students on strategic issues. “We are an educational institute, so we provide different courses on strategic education, which is theoretical. We have Qatari students who come to our college quite often,” he said.

Students receive study materials and lectures on different issues at the college.

The General also revealed that the Denfence College has one student from Qatar this year.

Qatar spent over QR5bn in foreign aid projects, Dr Hassan Ibrahim Al Mohanadi, Director of the Diplomatic Institute at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a lecture at the conference.

Over QR3.7bn was spent in support mission for governments while non-governmental groups received some QR606m from Qatar.

Speaking about the foreign policy of Qatar, Al Mohannadi said that a large sum of this fund was spent to support poor countries in Africa. He said some part of the aid was directly provided to governments, while other funds were given in consultation with the UNDP.

Answering a question about Qatar supporting efforts to resolve border disputes between some countries, he said Qatar was ready to provide assistance to countries if they asked for it.

“Qatar has negotiating teams, which can provide assistance to states, if they wish,” Al Mohannadi said.

Brigadier Sanad Ali Rashid Al Naimi, In-charge of the Strategic Research Centre, spoke about the transformations in the Mena countries and their impact on international security in the region.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Nato gets information about region from Qatar: Official

NATO commander reveals plans for intervention in Syria

Press TV – March 20, 2013

NATO’s supreme commander says the alliance is drawing up contingency plans for a possible military intervention in Syria.

Admiral James Stavridis, commander of US European Command, said at the Senate Armed Services Committee that US military would be ready to take part in the aggression, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Stavridis also serves as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

The United States is “looking at a variety of operations. We are prepared if called upon to be engaged,” he said.

The US commander said the 28-member military alliance is also looking into the option of assisting the foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government.

Stavridis further added that the negotiations within the NATO member states also concentrated on imposing a no-fly zone over Syria and providing lethal support to the militants.

The official confirmed that targeting Syria’s air defenses would also be taken into consideration.

On March 18, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington would not ‘stand in the way’ of Europeans if they decide to arm the militants fighting against the Syrian government.

The Los Angeles Times reported on March 16 that the CIA is considering a secret contingency plan to expand the US assassination drone strikes to Syria, according to former and current US officials.

The US publicly claims that its role in Syria is merely limited to providing food and medical supplies to the anti-government militants, but the Croatian daily Jutarnji List revealed on March 7 that the US has coordinated shipments of weapons from Croatia to the militants in Syria.

The report said 3,000 tons of weapons in 75 planeloads have been transferred from Zagreb to the militants in Syria via Jordan and Turkey. The weapons were reportedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the request of the US.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | 2 Comments