Aletho News


Latest FARC Proposal for Peace Process in Colombia

Nazih Richani | Cuadernos Colombianos | March 19, 2013

White smoke is rising in Havana, Cuba where the negotiators of the Juan Manuel Santos and the insurgents of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been negotiating since early last year. The two sides have almost agreed on the most important issue on the agenda: the agrarian question. I said almost because of the FARC’s insistence on the expansion of Peasant Zones.

So far, the FARC has clearly demonstrated its commitment to a peaceful compromise provided that the state commits to find a solution of the enduring institutional legacies of Spanish colonialism: the encomienda, which was succeeded by the hacienda system, which in turn gave grounds to the emergence of latifundios (large land ownership)—all of which were sustained by the mita (tribute) system in which the indigenous population were forced to sell their labor of 15 or more days per year to the latifundistas and to the mine owners. The mita system was supplanted by sharecropping which remained an important form of labor exploitation well into the 20th century.

In Colombia, the outcome of these institutions was one of the most skewed land distributions in Latin America, alongside Brazil and Guatemala, where large landowners retained significant political power. The Colombian recalcitrant large landowning elite hindered two previous attempts (1936 and 1968) of land reforms that would have allowed the creation of economies of scale fomenting capitalist development based on large-scale agribusiness and industry. The process was derailed and the peasantry paid the heavy price on top of centuries of exploitation, dispossession, and brutal oppression.

The last attempt at land reform coincided with the emergence of the narcotraffickers in the 1970s through the marijuana “Golden of Santa Marta,” which created the first bonanza of narco-dollars, most of which being invested in land and real estate. This was followed by the second and more significant influx of billions of dollars in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, which was invested in land put to use through cattle ranching. This boosted the landed elite ranks, furthering the concentration of land ownership from 0.80 to 0.85 (where zero is perfect equality and the value 1 indicates that all properties are owned by one person). According to the Geographic Institute Agustín Codazzi (Igag), this translates into a mere 1.62% of landowners owning 43% of the lands.

More important, the emergence of the narcobourgeoisie faction gave a boost to the landowning elite, allowing them to reassert their political and economic power. The narcobourgeoisie invested heavily in land due to the relative ease in using property as a money-laundering scheme, which conflicted with the interests of the peasants and the rebels. This in turn created a class affinity between the narco-bourgeoisie and the traditional landed oligarchy.

The inequitable distribution of land and power cemented class interests and allowed the narcobourgeoisie the economic capacity to build private armies capable of safeguarding the class interests of the entire landed elite. This may explain their success in exercising influence and political power in an economy where the agrarian sector contributes to only (a diminishing) 7% of the GDP, while the service sector contributes 55% and manufacturing 38%.

This is the paradox that Colombia presents to insurgents, academia, and policy makers. It is an interesting case in which pre-capitalist modes of production, as the ones mentioned above, were embedded in new modes and relations of production only to become entangled with a contingency such as narcotrafficking. To this paradox add that Colombia is today the fourth largest economy in Latin America, after Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina.

The FARC, for example, acknowledging the contradictions and mutations of the country’s economic history— colonial and post-colonial—that produced it as a rebel movement, is bringing into the forefront the expansion of “Peasant Zones” to safeguard the peasant economy. The idea is not new. The creation of Peasant Zones was promulgated in Law 160 of 1994, but was never seriously pursued or implemented by the state. Since the introduction of this Law, only 830,000 hectares were redistributed and benefited only 75,000 people. This was while millions of subsistence peasants were exposed to violence, increasing dispossession, and aggressive encroachments of large landowners, narcobourgeoisie, speculators, bio-fuels industries, multinational mining corporations, and oil companies.

The FARC is calling for the expansion of the protection of “Peasant Zones” to include 9,5 million hectares and provide these peasant communities autonomy similar to the ones that the 1991 constitution granted the Afro-Colombian and indigenous groups. This sparked the ire of the reactionary faction of the landed elite, led by the cattle ranchers and political conservatives such as the Minister of Agriculture a descendant of the Antioquia dominant class and coffee elite. Statistics are showing that the peasant economy is more efficient and productive than the so-called capitalist large-scale farming.

Currently the small-scale peasant economy produces more than 60% of the country’s food needs which are cultivated in only 4.9 million hectares. If the peasant zones were to expand on the magnitude suggested by FARC, Colombia will not only secure its food supply, but it will generate enough surpluses improving the standards of livelihood of almost 35% of its population and create a multiplying effect on the overall economy. This may lay down solid foundations for a durable peace and a sustainable development. This is a proposal that merits serious attention.

Friday March 22, two thousand peasants are gathered for their third national meeting in San Vicente del Caguan to push forward the initiative to expand the Peasant Zones. This meeting represents the historical affinity and organic links between the peasantry and the FARC.

Nazih Richani is the Director of Latin American studies at Kean University.

March 24, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | Comments Off on Latest FARC Proposal for Peace Process in Colombia

Obama Doesn’t Seek Israeli Apology for American Youth’s Killing

By Dave Lindorff – This Can’t Be Happening! –  03/23/2013

The American media are full of glowing reports and praise for President Obama for “brokering” a detente between Israel and Turkey, two former allies who have been at loggerheads since May 31, 2010 when heavily armed Israeli forces boarded the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-flagged vessel seeking to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza with non-military supplies, and killed nine unarmed peace flotilla activists.

In the deal arranged by the American president, Israel’s hot-head prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had ordered the raid, apologized “to the Turkish people” for “any mistakes that might have led to the loss of life or injury.”

It was a lame excuse for murder, but it appears that Turkey’s government was ready to bury the hatchet and, as a client state of the US, was also under some pressure from this country too.

It is interesting and indicative of the continuing power of the pro-Israel lobby in the US, that President Obama did not, as part of this brokered deal, bother to demand that Netanyahu include an apology, weak or otherwise, to the American people for the killing of an American national. For one of the nine people slaughtered by Israel in that raid, a 19-year-old young man named Furkan Dogan, was an American citizen — a son of Turkish parents, but born and raised to adulthood in the U.S.

Dogan’s death has never been protested or even investigated or questioned by the US government — an astonishing abrogation of this government’s oft-repeated promise to protect American lives. Indeed, in his first debate in the series of three presidential campaign debates with Republican Mitt Romney last fall, President Obama said, in his first answer to a question from the moderator, that his number on responsibility was to protect Americans.

Furkan Dogan in Turkey before he was killed on a peace voyage to Gaza by Israeli Defense Force boarders

Furkan Dogan in Turkey before he was killed on a peace voyage to Gaza by Israeli Forces

Not young Furkan Dogan, though.

As we reported in ThisCantBeHappening!, the unarmed Dogan, who was filming the IDF boarding of the Mavi Marmara, was beaten and kicked viciously on the deck by two IDF thugs, who then fired at him with their shotguns at point blank range.

As we also reported, the Turkish Council of Forensic Medicine conducted an official autopsy which concluded that Dogan had been killed by two shots to the face fired at close range — this as he lay already gravely wounded on the deck of the ship, having been already shot in the back, leg and foot.

This report, which was conveyed directly to the US Embassy in Ankara in July, 2010, was sat on, covered up and ignored, and went unreported. Turkey later relayed the autopsy report directly to the White House, and finally, when that elicited no response, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned it specifically himself during a state visit to Obama. The Turkish leader later expressed his surprise to reporters following his meeting with the president that the US had not protested the killing of one of its citizens. As he told reporters, ‘I asked President Obama whether the reason he showed no interest in one of his nationals being killed was because [the victim] was [ethnically] Turkish. He didn’t reply.’”

What a freaking outrage!

The idea that this president cannot demand even a mild apology from an Israeli prime minister for the brutal slaughter of an unarmed US citizen, even as he is brokering such an apology for the killing of nine Turkish citizens, is beyond appalling.

Equally, or perhaps even more appalling, is the complete failure of the US corporate media to mention this failure, even as they note that one of the nine killed was a “Turkish-American.”

Actually, he was more than that. He was an American, pure and simple. An American born in America, and you don’t get more American than that.

I guess if you think you have the right to kill US citizens without a trial, as Obama does, you probably figure you don’t have to demand apologies from foreign leaders who order their deaths, too.

The victims are just US citizens after all. No big deal.

March 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on Obama Doesn’t Seek Israeli Apology for American Youth’s Killing

Mass arrest of schoolchildren

CPTnet  | March 24, 2013

Twenty-seven Palestinian children, age seven to 15, were arrested while on their way to school in the West Bank city of Hebron. Three were detained for two days; twenty-four others were held for almost twelve hours.

The principal of the Hebron Public School reported that he was standing at the gate to his school at 7:30 a.m. when about 22 soldiers arrived and immediately began taking children from the street without speaking with the principal, teachers or the children. The street was full of children on their way to five area schools. Several adults arrived and tried to prevent the soldiers from taking the students but soldiers pulled the children away.

Israeli soldiers arrested 29 students, age seven to 15. They made them walk to checkpoint 29 and violently forced them into the jeeps. Some of the children reported injuries. The soldiers drove them to the police station near the Ibrahimi Mosque, brought 27 children inside and released two on a nearby road. They questioned the students without parents, a lawyer or teachers present and without permission from parents or other adults. Eight of the children were in grades one through four.

Obaida Babyeh, age 15, a student at the Ibrahimi School, was one of the two released near the station. He said, “We were passing to go to our school and they arrested us. The soldiers pushed us into the jeep, then they took us away from the school checkpoint. They hit me on my knee. Then the commander came and talked with them in Hebrew. The commander slapped me and my friend on the face and let us go.”

Teachers from the school came to the police station but were not allowed in. Soldiers told the teachers that they were checking the children against photographs and would release children whose photos they did not have.

At 2:00 p.m. soldiers released the eight youngest children and transported the remaining 19 to the Jabarah and Junaid military stations where they continued to question them. Some were questioned at both locations. The students were fingerprinted, photographed and questioned multiple times without the presence or consent of family, lawyers or teachers. Throughout the incident the children were held together with adult detainees.

Ahmad Abed Al Ra’aoof Sudky Burqan, age 14 and a student at Hebron public elementary school, said, “I was in a small store with my friend on our way to school. When we came out of the market to go to our school the soldiers grabbed us from behind. They took us to checkpoint 29, and then pushed us into the jeep. They took us to the first police station [Ja’abra], then to another one [Junied]. They questioned us, and took our finger prints. I was there from 7:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.”

At 7:00 p.m. soldiers released twelve of the students and transported seven to Ofer military prison. Soldiers released four of them from the prison late on the night of 20 March. Three of the children remain in Ofer.  Israel is currently detaining 195 Palestinian children, 93 of them in Ofer prison.

For several weeks prior to the incident, members of Christian Peacemaker Teams and other internationals monitoring checkpoints near the schools observed soldiers asking children about photos on a camera before allowing them to pass through to their schools. Students attending school near the Old City must pass through military checkpoints each day as they walk to and from school.

On 20 March, Israeli officials committed at least four clear violations of rights guaranteed to these children under international law:

Parents or legal guardians should be informed of the arrest of children within the shortest possible time thereafter, in a language understood by the child and the parents or legal guardians. (The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), article 9 (1) and (2); Beijing Rules, Rule 10.1)

All children should be free from compulsory self-incrimination, which includes the right to silence. ‘Compulsory’ should be interpreted broadly and not limited to physical force. The age of the child and the length of the interrogation, the child’s lack of understanding and the fear of unknown consequences may all lead a child to give a confession that is not true. (Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) article 40(2)(b) (iv); CRC General Comment No. 10, paragraphs 56-58; Convention against Torture, article 15; ICCPR, article 14(3)(g) and (4); Geneva IV, article 31)

There must be independent scrutiny of the methods of interrogation of children. This should include the presence of a lawyer and relative or legal guardian and audio-visual recording of all interrogations involving children (CRC, art 40(2)(b0(ii) and (iv); CRC General Comment no. 10, para 58; ICCPT, art. 14(3)(b); HRC General Comment no. 20, para 11; HRC Concluding Observations, Israel (29 July 2010), ICCPR/C/ISR/CO/3, para 22; Convention against Torture, art. 2; UN Committee against Torture, General Comment No. 2, para 14, and Concluding Observations, Israel (14 May 2009), CAT/C/ISR/CO/4, paras 15, 16, 27 and 28)

Children should not be held with an adult population while in custody. Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, parties should establish separate facilities for children deprived of their liberty, including distinct, child-centered staff, personnel, policies and practices.

According to UNICEF (Children in Israeli Military Detention; Observations and Recommendations, February 2012),  approximately 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17 are arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli army, police and security agents each year. In the past ten years approximately 7,000 children have been detained, interrogated, prosecuted and/or imprisoned within the Israeli military justice system. This is an average of two children each day.

March 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , | Comments Off on Mass arrest of schoolchildren

How police Agent Provocateur frame people

Video clip (apparently filmed in 2002) demonstrates clearly how agent provocateur-police officers frame peaceful demonstrators to get them arrested.
On this video, an undercover cop pushes a non-violent bystander (a journalist according to the video) against uniformed police officers to get him arrested, and then the masked provocateur leaves the scene without the cops bothering him/her.


Police (at least) in the UK, Canada, US, Italy, Greece have been caught using provocateurs at demonstrations. This is done to get an excuse to put an end to the demonstration, and to restrict people’s right to protest in the future.

You can find videos of some of these events by searching the internet, use the words “police agent provocateurs + name of the country”.

Not every police officer is in on this. This is mainly being orchestrated by a relatively small group of corrupt insiders who in reality work for high-level organized crime, usually called the “shadow government” or “deep state”.

“Police agent provocateurs” are also the reason why violent-activism is counter productive: If there isn’t enough radical behavior at demonstrations, the police might actually stage some. So if there is a far-right/left group willing to stage riots against the establishment, the “deep state” controlling the establishment is getting just what THEY WANT out of the these extreme-groups.

March 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , | Comments Off on How police Agent Provocateur frame people