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Scotland’s Anti-Colonial Struggle

By Craig Murray | February 22, 2016

I have a meeting today in London with the Ambassadors of Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador to brief them on Scotland’s continuing struggle for Independence. These nations have been at the forefront of the international movement against colonialism, and know all about the sharp end of neo-Imperialism and the evil-doing of the CIA and other western security agencies.

The test of the Independence of a state is nothing to do with domestic or regional government, or even with bilateral arrangements with the state from which it secedes. The test of Independence is, purely and simply, whether or not you are recognised by other states as independent. That is the very clear cut position in international law. For this reason, it is essential that Scotland reaches out, not just within the EU but to the entire international community. Ultimately we need these people to vote and lobby for us in the United Nations and other international institutions.

Frankly, the SNP is rubbish at this. I am doing this meeting because the hierarchy of the SNP spurned the approach from the Ambassadors, as previously detailed on this blog. This reluctance seems part of the hierarchy’s effort to be NATO friendly and thus CIA friendly. The Ambassadors would far rather be meeting with an official SNP representative than a nobody like me. Unfortunately the SNP won’t do it. That is a disgrace.

I can increasingly foresee, as Westminster governments move ever further to the right and encroach more and more on civil liberties, a situation arising where Scotland wishes to claim its independence without the consent of Westminster. In that situation, we will need all the international support we can get, just as the Palestinians have been making headway in UN institutions. Work needs to be put now into laying the foundations for that support. Personally I would characterise Scottish Independence as an anti-colonial struggle; use of Scots as British cannon fodder and integration of the Scots elite into the Metropolitan elite does not make Scotland any less a colony. Rome had an African Emperor, but still her African possessions were colonies.

But even for those who do not accept that analysis, there is no doubt that Scottish Independence would have a highly beneficial impact on the global balance of power. The weakening of the USA’s most powerful sidekick; the lessening of the UK’s ability to participate in illegal neo-imperial invasions and to host weapons of mass destruction; the re-opening of the question of the undemocratic Security Council structure at the UN.

Then there is also the positive role Scotland can play as a major contributor to UN Peacekeeping Forces, and a voice for sanity, reason, human rights and the pre-eminence of international law. An independent Scotland as a state party will be able to request the International Criminal Court to lay war crime charges against Blair and Straw for the illegal invasion of Iraq, which would be a powerful deterrent to future aggressive war.

I am but one man and a private individual. Everything I can do, I shall.

February 23, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Garifuna Communities of Honduras Resist Corporate Land Grabs

FINALLY 2

By Samira Jubis | Council on Hemispheric Affairs | September 23, 2015

The fate of the Garifuna people of Honduras hangs in the balance as they face a Honduran state that is all too eager to accommodate the neoliberal agenda of U.S. and Canadian investors. The current economic development strategy of the Honduran government, in the aftermath of the 2009 coup against the democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya, has not only benefited the political and economic elite in Honduras, but it has also encouraged the usurpation of some of the territories of indigenous peoples of this Central American nation. The often-violent expropriation of indigenous land threatens the Garifuna’s subsistence.

The Garifuna people are descendants of African slaves and two indigenous groups originally from South America—the Arawaks and the Carib Indians. In 1797, the British deported 5,000 Garifuna, also known as Black Caribs, from St. Vincent to Roatán. Since then, the Garifuna people have immigrated throughout North and Central America.[i]

Triunfo de la Cruz and Punta Piedra are home to two of the forty-eight Honduran Garifuna communities along the Honduran Atlantic coast corridor. Due to an ecologically rich geopolitical position, these regions have attracted foreign-backed investments, including tourist and recreational centers, natural resource extraction industries, and self-governing corporate zones. The concept of “self-governing” does not apply to democratic procedures of native citizens, but to the domination of foreign elites who view the Garifuna land as a mere means to the private accumulation of wealth.

Mega development projects have been advertised as a stimulus to economic growth and employment within the country. However, in practice, they have aggravated discrimination and harassment against indigenous and ethnic groups, whom developers generally perceive as obstacles to the expansion of such economic projects. Hence, the Honduran political system, in thrall to ambitious tycoons and foreign interventionism, has infringed on the Garifuna community’s relationship to and management of their ancestral lands. The displacement of these Honduran Afro-descendant communities from their ancestral lands for the development of economic projects accelerated after the coup d’état of June 28, 2009 against the democratically elected President, Manuel Zelaya, and the installment of a U.S. backed golpista regime.

The United States and Canada perceived the center-left policies of former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya as an intolerable restraint on American and Canadian investment objectives in Honduras. The alignment of Honduras with the left-leaning Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) and PetroCaribe along with stricter domestic reforms to rein in the damage caused by neoliberal policies, emboldened the U.S.-Canadian intervention in the Honduran political system. The coup brought the golpista regime of Roberto Micheletti (June 28, 2009 to January 27, 2010) to power and was followed by the subsequent election of two right wing presidents. Tegucigalpa has pursued policies that are more obedient to the economic consensus of Washington and Ottawa, reversing its march towards progressive land and labor reforms and opening the doors wide to foreign investors. As a result, Honduras has been the bloody stage for human rights violations against those who have resisted some of the more intrusive features of the neoliberal economic model.

The Garifuna community of Triunfo de la Cruz, for example, possessed title deeds of full ownership to their ancestral territories. However, the U.S. and World Bank-backed 1992 Agrarian Modernization Law not only led to the expansion of Tela’s city boundaries, but also stimulated future transactions of ancestral lands without consent of the Garifuna community members.[ii] Grahame Russell is the director of Rights Action and has devoted his life to protecting human rights in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Russell points out: “All along the north coast, most particularly in the Tela Bay and Trujillo Bay areas, Garifuna villages are being pressured—with false legal documents, with forced sales and with repression—to sell their lands and territories to international tourism operators that are supported by the illegitimate and repressive Honduran regime.”[iii]

The municipality of Tela sold ancestral territories to a corporation called Inversiones y Desarrollos del Triunfo S.A de C.V. The municipality later issued construction permits for the development of tourist projects, such as the Indura Beach and Golf Resort.[iv] Government officials and foreign investors have overlooked the Garifuna people’s opposition to these projects. In turn, there have been frequent territorial disputes between the investors and members of the Garifuna community. In 2014, the Honduran national police and military officials attempted to violently dislodge the Garifuna population from their lands. Despite the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declaring that the Garifuna culture is one of the nineteen Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity (2001), violence and physical force have been constantly used to threaten the livelihood of the Honduran Garifuna communities. Oscar Bregal and Jesus Alvarez, two committed Garifuna leaders, were murdered in 1997 while protesting against the violation of the human and civil rights of the Garifuna communities. Oppression and harsh conditions been the principal causes of displacement and emigration of the Honduran Garifuna inhabitants

According to the Indura Beach investors, the first phase of this US $120 million tourist-complex development has created 400 direct jobs and 800 indirect jobs.[v] The Honduran Tourism Institute insists that these jobs have primarily benefited the communities around the complex, especially the Garifuna communities. These benefits, however, have not reached the hands of the Garifuna population. As a matter of fact, unsustainable tourist projects have threatened the Garifuna people’s food sovereignty. As stated by Miriam Miranda, leader of The Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH), the Garifuna people cannot continue to exist without the land required to grow their subsistence crops. Foods like rice, beans, and yucca not only make up the Garifuna daily diet, but also represent critical components of the Garifuna culture. The women of the communities sow and harvest the land for household consumption and income. The Honduran state’s failure to protect the interests of these Honduran citizens has led Garifuna indigenous communities to request the intervention of international organizations.

From August 24 to August 29, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights held its 53rd period of extraordinary sessions in Honduras. During the sessions, the court visited the Garifuna Communities of Triunfo de la Cruz and Punta Piedra to commence proceedings against the Honduran state. OFRANEH— speaking on behalf of the Garifuna inhabitants of Triunfo de la Cruz, Punta Piedra, and Cayos Cochinos—claimed that Honduras has failed to ensure these communities’ right of land ownership as well as their right to free, prior, and informed consent. Although Honduras has ratified the International Labour Organization Convention no. 169, and the Honduran constitution recognizes the rights of indigenous and ethnic peoples, the Honduran Garifuna communities continue to face discrimination and harassment within the Honduran economic and political systems. The petition of the Honduran Garifuna communities was presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human rights on October 29, 2003. [vi] Following the commission’s hearings, the Honduran state agreed to put in place measures to protect the property rights of the Garifuna people. The state, however, has failed to uphold this agreement.

In February 2013, the commission submitted the case Garifuna Community of “Triunfo de la Cruz” and its Members v. Honduras to the Inter-American court after the Honduran government failed to inform the Commission of the measures it had taken to enforce the property rights of the Triunfo de la Cruz inhabitants.[vii] This case not only confirms state collaboration with the violation of Garifuna people’s rights in Honduras, but it also challenges the effectiveness of the international community—in this case the court’s jurisdiction, in protecting those rights.

It has been 12 years since the petition was presented to the commission and the Honduran Garifuna communities are still living in despair and fear. Do we hear their call for justice in the North? Russell remarks that “while OFRANEH and the Garifuna communities are waiting for the Inter-American Court to render its final decision, which—if justice is to prevail—will find in favor of the Garifuna people, against the actions and omissions of the Honduran State, they are not depending on it.” Furthermore, Russell adds that the Honduran Garifuna communities, “resist peacefully, resolutely, on and on, from one community to the next.”

The usurpation of ancestral territories by multinational corporations backed by the political and security structure of the Honduran state has evoked justified skepticism among the Honduran Garifuna communities in regards to neoliberal economic policies that put profits before human needs and respect for participatory democratic procedures. While the Garifuna communities are still waiting for the court’s final decision on their case against the State of Honduras, they have been committed to voicing their grievances. The leadership and determination of the Honduran Garifuna has encouraged other indigenous and ethnic groups in the western hemisphere to fight against hegemonic neoliberal policies that threaten their ability to live and develop in community.

Featured Photo: Chachahuate, a small Honduran island inhabited by Garifuna communities. From: Dennis Garcia

[i] Escure, Geneviève, and Armin Schwegler. “Garifuna in Belize and Honduras.” In Creoles, Contact, and Language Change Linguistics and Social Implications, 37. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2004. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=622399.

[ii] Brondo, Keri V. “La pérdida de la tierra y el activismo de las mujeres garífunas en la costa norte de Honduras.” Journal of International Women’s Studies, 9, no. 3 (May 2008): 374.

[iii] Grahame Russell, e-mail message to author, September 20, 2015

[iv] IACHR, Merits Report No. 76/12. Case No.12.548, Garífuna Community of “Triunfo de la Cruz” and its Members (Honduras), November 7, 2012, paragraph 159, 160.

[v] Diario El Heraldo Honduras. “Lista Primera Etapa De Indura Beach and Golf Resort.” Accessed September 20, 2015. http://www.elheraldo.hn/alfrente/566419-209/lista-primera-etapa-de-indura-beach-and-golf-resort.

[vi] IACHR, Merits Report No. 76/12. Case No.12.548, Garífuna Community of “Triunfo de la Cruz” and its Members (Honduras), November 7, 2012, paragraph 1.

[vii] The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, (2013). IACHR Takes Case involving Honduras to the Inter-American Court. Available at: http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2013/076.asp [Accessed 22 Sep. 2015].

September 24, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cuba Better Be Careful What It Wishes For

By Andrew Korybko | Sputnik | December 17, 2014

The US and Cuba have reached a historic deal to swap notable prisoners and establish diplomatic relations after decades of mutual hostility. The announcement caught many by surprise, and begs the question: Are there more sinister geopolitical calculations at work behind the U.S.’ olive branch?

The tradeoff largely boils down to this: the US has released the three remaining members of the Cuban Five in exchange for jailed contractor Alan Gross, 53 US-selected “political prisoners,” and an unnamed intelligence source who was imprisoned over 20 years ago. As a result, both countries will now establish diplomatic relations and the decades-long US embargo will be largely eased.

Many people are rightfully cheering what seems to be an imminent end to U.S. hostility towards Cuba, but all of this may just be a deception. The U.S. needs Cuba more than the other way around, since it wants to use the island as a pivot to reverse the Caribbean Basin’s move to multipolarity and prolong Washington’s full control over its historic “lake.”

Regime Change Done Differently

Cuba no longer needs the U.S. as much as it did at the end of the Cold War, when its economy was in despair and the market hardly functioned. It’s come a long way since then, and although it still has its fair share of problems, it’s proved that it can survive on its own while being officially isolated from its massive northern neighbor. While the U.S. had plenty of opportunity to exploit Cuba when it was at its weakest in the 1990s, it missed the chance to do so, driven by the precondition that regime change must happen first.

Now, however, the tables have turned, and the U.S. is pursuing a policy of engagement first in order to facilitate the same regime change goal it’s been trying to pull off for over the past half century.

“I do not expect the changes I’m announcing today to bring about a change in Cuban society overnight,” Obama said, implying that he still wants the U.S. vision of change to occur. The removal of the embargo would only be a victory for the Cuban people if they are able to retain their independence, sovereignty, and preferred form of government afterwards.

Indirect Inroads

Overt hostility hasn’t worked in the past against Cuba, and it likely won’t work in the future. Plus, there’s been a general trend in recent years for the US to pursue its objectives through covert and indirect means. This is where Cuba is most vulnerable in the recent ‘thaw’ in relations. The American economy doesn’t need Cuba at all, really, and Washington’s opening to Havana is a convenient cover to catch Cuba in its social and economic snare to more directly control the inevitable leadership transition process that will occur with Fidel’s passing. It already tried and failed to use USAID to create a ‘revolutionary Twitter’ on the island, as well as its embarrassing follies with anti-government Cuban rappers, to name but the few most recent regime change scandals there. And it must be kept in mind that Mr. Gross was working for the Agency when he was arrested in 2011 for trying to, as Cuban authorities described it, to “promote destabilizing activities and subvert constitutional order” to foster a “Cuban Spring.”

Cuba is also vulnerable to reverse migration, in that dissident and possibly extremist Cuban-Americans may return to the island in order to build a future Color Revolution’s social infrastructure to deploy when the time is right (likely in the aftermath of Fidel’s death). American businesses can fill a valuable development and investment gap on the island, in exchange for making Cuba ever more dependent on the U.S. This would give the U.S. another lever of influence over the island’s affairs, which could be activated in unison with a Color Revolution to create maximum disorder.

Bucking The Trend

The timing of Washington’s “outreach” to Havana isn’t coincidental, as it coincides with major processes going on in the region that the U.S. hopes to reverse. Most recently, the pro-U.S. Prime Minister of Haiti, Laurent Lamothe, was forced to resign last week amid protests and popular outrage over his corruption and ineffectiveness. Backtracking America’s hold on the region even further, the Chinese are slated to begin construction on the Nicaraguan Canal, which when completed, would create a major breach in America’s control of the Caribbean Sea. Finally, Venezuela has been a center of resistance to American hegemony over the hemisphere ever since the leadership of the late President Hugo Chavez.

Cuba is the symbolic leader of the Latin American resistance movement, and its “Cuban Spring” surrender would be disheartening for the other allied states that defy the U.S. via the ALBA grouping. Congress recently passed sanctions against Venezuela (largely overshadowed by the anti-Russian ones), which is the financial engine of the hemispheric resistance, to facilitate a Color Revolution there as well, as President Maduro himself has previously alleged Washington wants to do.

Venezuela’s economy is also hurting because of the recent oil price slump, which may inhibit its ability to subsidize the allied Nicaraguan, Ecuadorian, and Bolivian ones in the future. With Cuba out of the game, and perhaps even Venezuela, there’d be little ideological or economic support keeping Nicaragua, the future key to the Caribbean, from being next (to say nothing of Ecuador and Bolivia) and the Chinese-sponsored canal from becoming a failed infrastructure project. If this happens, then the U.S. would have reasserted its complete control over the Caribbean and begun to penetrate the Andes, thus tightening the containment noose around Brazil and strangling the future of multipolarity in the region.

December 19, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Latin American States Denounce Any Possible Aggression against Syria

Al-Manar | September 8, 2013

AlBAThe nine Latin American states (ALBA) have condemned any possible aggression against Syria and announced the dispatching of humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

“The Bolivarian alliance council in American denounces any possible strike against Syria,” ALBA Secretary General said in a statement from Venezuela.

“ALBA asks the U.S. to refrain from launching a military aggression against the Syrian people and government,” he added, accusing the US administration of resorting to the same strategies that it used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt.

ALBA further decided to dispatch humanitarian aid, including foodstuffs, to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

September 8, 2013 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

ALBA Advances towards “Alternative Economic Model”, Pursues Anti-Imperialist Agenda

By Rachael Boothroyd | Venezuelanalysis.com | February 6th 2012

Caracas  – Member countries of Latin America’s alternative integration bloc, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), met in the Venezuelan capital this weekend in order to discuss the advancement of the organisation at its 11th official summit.

Following a meeting on Friday to draft proposals and set an agenda, the presidents discussed a series of themes relating to ALBA’s role within the regional economy and various foreign policy issues. The body also approved several declarations relating to global political concerns, including pronouncements on Syria and the current diplomatic altercation between the UK and Argentina with relation to the Falkland Islands.

Bank of the ALBA

At the end of the summit’s first day, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that member countries had agreed to contribute 1% of their international reserves towards the bloc’s main bank in order to create a reserve fund.

The Bank of the Alba was established in 2008 with the intention of providing economic support to people-centred regional projects and to contribute to sustainable social and economic development across the region. The Bank is also cited as acting as a continental alternative to the International Monetary Fund.

At the summit, ALBA member countries agreed that the financial reinforcement of the bank would be pivotal to the development of the bloc. Chavez also reaffirmed Venezuela’s commitment to funding regional development projects by announcing his intention to increase petroleum production in the Orinoco Belt to that end.

“We should increase oil production from 3 to 3.5 million barrels a day, and by 2014 we should be at 4 million barrels. This is going to allow us greater flexibility in all of these projects,” said the head of state.

According to Chavez, Venezuela’s contribution to the bank will amount to around US$300 million.

Regional Currency

The heads of state also discussed the possibility of increasing the commercial use of the sucre, the bloc’s virtual currency. The sucre is currently used for direct trading between the ALBA countries, allowing them to circumvent the U.S dollar and minimise the foreign-exchange risk.

According to Ricardo Menendez, Venezuelan Vice-minister of Production and Economy, 431 financial transactions using the sucre were carried out between ALBA countries last year, amounting to over US$216 million worth of trade. However, Ecuadorean president, Rafael Correa, called for the use of the currency to be increased.

“Those free trade agreements, free markets, [with]…zero indemnity, annihilating the weak, that’s suicide for our countries…We should encourage fair trade; unite our reserves and financial capacity in the Bank of the Alba and avoid using foreign currencies,” he urged.

Daniel Ortega, the Sandinista president of Nicaragua, also expressed his desire to boost the use of the bloc’s currency. In statements, Ortega said that he hoped to begin using the sucre within the next few weeks, subject to approval from Nicaragua’s national assembly.

Anti-imperialist Agenda

As well as condemning what it referred to as the “systemic policies of destabilisation and interventionism” currently being implemented in Syria, the bloc also signed a document in support of Puerto Rico’s right to self-determination and full independence.

Further, ALBA reiterated its support for the Argentinean government in its diplomatic dispute with the UK over the Falkland Islands. In a special communication, the bloc called for a negotiated settlement to the Falkland’s question which does not violate the United Nation’s 31/49 resolution. The ALBA’s statements come as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also expressed his solidarity with the Argentinean President Cristina Kirchner on Saturday, stating that the South American nation would “not be alone” in the event of a conflict.

Correa suggested that the bloc should move to impose sanctions against the UK government due to its unwillingness to engage in dialogue with the Argentinean government to resolve the issue. Last week, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, revealed that he had sent a warship to the Falklands as a “routine” measure.

Chavez has confirmed that the ALBA group will now review what sanctions may be taken in response to the “negative dialogue” and “ridiculous military threat” from David Cameron’s coalition government.

The ALBA also struck out against the Organisation of American States for its exclusionary stance with regards to Cuba. In accordance with a proposal from Correa, the bloc said it would consider not attending the Summit of the Americas, due to be held in Colombia this April, if Cuba were not invited.

“We could take this to the host country, which is the Colombian government, with whom we have re-established political and commercial relations… I am in agreement with Rafael Correa, if Cuba isn’t invited, we will consider not attending, it’s a matter of dignity,” concluded Chavez.

Helping Haiti  

As part of the summit, the ALBA agreed to step up its humanitarian assistance to Haiti through the formation of an ALBA-Haiti work plan. The project will be aimed at providing emergency relief and facilitating reconstruction efforts in the Caribbean nation, which is still suffering the effects of the earthquake of January 2010.

Member countries also agreed to establish a Haiti fund in order to execute the projects and provide the country’s energy plants with fuel. Details will be finalised at a foreign ministers meeting in Haiti at the beginning of March.

In comments to the Venezuelan press, Haitian President Michel Martelly thanked the ALBA for its continued efforts to help the Caribbean nation in the wake of its humanitarian catastrophe. He added that the new ALBA plan would go towards alleviating extreme poverty in Haiti. Venezuela and Haiti also signed an independent bilateral agreement to increase cooperation between the two countries.

ALBA Expands

In the final act of the summit, the ALBA ratified St. Lucia and Surinam as two new honorary members to the bloc and confirmed that soon both countries would be full members of Venezuela’s energy integration organisation, Petrocaribe.

Other proposals that the group will now pursue include the creation of regional schools for social movements and the establishment of a communications secretary general; as well as the proposal to create a “defence counsel” for the bloc, which was submitted by Bolivian President Evo Morales.  

Formed in 2004 by Venezuela and Cuba, the ALBA is an alternative to U.S free trade agreements in the region and seeks to address unjust terms of trade by engaging in commerce on the basis of solidarity and cooperation. ALBA nations currently include; Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda. The governments of Haiti, Surinam and St. Lucia also attended the event as “participant observers”.

February 6, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on ALBA Advances towards “Alternative Economic Model”, Pursues Anti-Imperialist Agenda