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Honduran president calls Jerusalem Israeli capital, not moving embassy yet

MEMO | March 25, 2019

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on Sunday called Jerusalem Israel’s capital, saying the Central American country would open a trade office there, but he stopped short of announcing plans to move his embassy from Tel Aviv, Reuters reports.

Hernandez has in recent months signalled that his government is mulling moving the Honduran embassy to Jerusalem, and made his comments on the holy city during his appearance at a conference on U.S.-Israeli relations in Washington.

“Today I have announced the first step, which is to open a trade office in Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel, and this will be an extension of our embassy in Tel Aviv,” Hernandez said in a statement issued by his government.

“I’ve said that a second step will draw a lot of attacks from the enemies of Israel and the United States, but we will continue along this path,” Hernandez added.

Hernandez’ comments follow the formal recognition by US President Donald Trump of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Last May, Trump moved the U.S. embassy to the disputed city.

Trump’s move was criticized by many foreign governments and caused anger among Palestinians, who with broad international backing seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they want to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

East Jerusalem is still considered occupied under international law, and the city’s status is supposed to be decided as part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

Hernandez, an ally of the United States, said the trade and cooperation office would open immediately in Jerusalem.

His foreign ministry said in a statement that Israel would in a reciprocal gesture open an office for cooperation in Tegucigalpa, giving it diplomatic status.

In 2017, Guatemala and neighbouring Honduras were two of only a handful of countries to join Israel and the United States in voting against a UN resolution calling on Washington to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Guatemala moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in May after the United States, fueling expectations that Hernandez might follow suit.

Honduras and Guatemala are two of the most violent and impoverished countries in the Americas. Both depend economically to a significant degree on U.S. aid and investment, and the leaders of the two have generated significant controversy.

Hernandez’ legitimacy was called into question during his 2017 re-election bid after the official vote count ground to a halt when he appeared to be headed for defeat.

After the count restarted, the trend turned against his opponent and the electoral authority declared him victor, a decision later backed by the United States.

Meanwhile, his Guatemalan counterpart, Jimmy Morales, has clashed with the United Nations for closing down a UN anti-corruption body that sought to have him impeached.

March 25, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Horrific Long-Term Consequences of Regime Change

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | March 15, 2019

84-year-old Emma Thiessen Alvarez has never forgotten the day in 1981 when Guatemalan officials came to her house looking for her daughter, a student leader who had escaped from military custody. Unable to find her, the officials settled for Thiessen’s 14-year-old son. She never saw him again.

Thiesen’s story was highlighted in a recent New York Times article because the Guatemalan legislature is now contemplating granting a blanket amnesty to military officials who participated in the rein of terror that the Guatemalan national-security establishment inflicted on the Guatemalan people for period of some 36 years.

Thiessen and other Guatemalans who were victimized during that period of time are not happy about the proposed amnesty. As Edgar Perez, a human-rights lawyer, put it, “For the victims, the sentence is their certificate of truth. It is their history.”

Guatemalans are not the only ones who have an interest in what is now occurring in that country. So do the American people. That’s because it was the U.S. national-security establishment that set into motion the events that ultimately led to the death of Emma Thiessen Alvarez’s son, along with 200,000 other Guatemalans, as well as to massive human-rights violations at the hands of the Guatemalan national-security establishment.

As Americans reflect on the mass carnage, destruction, and suffering and the hundreds of thousands of deaths produced by U.S. regime-change efforts in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, and Afghanistan, it’s important to also keep in mind the deaths produced by U.S. regime change in Guatemala in 1954. That was when the CIA initiated a military coup that succeeded in destroying Guatemala’s democratic system and replacing it with a brutal, unelected military dictatorship.

Guatemalan voters had democratically elected a socialist named Jacobo Arbenz, a man whose economic philosophy mirrored those of many American politicians today, both Democrat and Republican. U.S. officials concluded that Arbenz was a threat to U.S. national security, not only because of his socialist policies but also owing to his desire to reach out to the communist Soviet Union, including Russia, in a spirt of peace and friendship. By this time, the U.S. national-security establishment was waging its Cold War against the Soviet Union, which ironically had been America’s WWII partner and ally. The Pentagon and the CIA were convinced that the Russians were coming to get us as part of a worldwide communist conspiracy based in Moscow. In the minds of the Pentagon and CIA, Arbenz was part of that communist conspiracy and, therefore, needed to be removed from office before the Reds were able to come and take over the United States.

The CIA targeted Guatemalan officials with assassination. Americans are still not permitted to see which officials were going to be murdered (“national security,” of course), but surely Arbenz was at the top of the list. He was able to escape the country before the CIA could assassinate him.

Not surprisingly, the CIA installed into power a brutal “law and order” military tyrant, one whose military dictatorship proceeded to wage a vicious war against leftist-oriented Guatemalans. As the leftists fought back, the country was thrown into a violent civil war that lasted 36 years. At least 200,000 people were killed, with the full support of the U.S. national-security establishment, which took the position that their military regime was protecting America and the world from the worldwide communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow and that was supposedly coming to get us.

At the time it succeeded in ousting Arbenz and installing a military regime in his stead, the CIA was ecstatic over its success. Internal celebrations were held and medals were awarded. The same thing happened after the CIA’s regime-change operation in Iran in 1953, the year before the Guatemalan regime-change operation. After succeeding in destroying Iran’s democratic system and installing, training, and supporting the viciously brutal tyranny of the Shah, the CIA internally celebrated its success and handed out the medals to those who had brought it about.

Today, more than half-a-century later, Americans, Iranians, and Guatemalans are still living with the horrific long-term consequences of those U.S. regime-change operations. It’s something for Americans to keep in mind as the U.S. national-security establishment continues to effect regime-change operations in various parts of the world today. Just ask 84-year-old Guatemalan Emma Thiessen Alvarez, who still feels the pain of losing her 14-year-old son to U.S.-supported Guatemalan military brutes.

March 15, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Israel citizen to contest Guatemala presidency

MEMO | March 8, 2019

An Israeli is to stand in the upcoming presidential election in Guatemala, the Times of Israel reported.

Yitzhak Farhi, who grew in the Central American country, is among the founders of the National Advancement Party (PAN) which fielded two presidents in the 1990s.

The 58-year-old moved to Israel 12 years ago but will be moving back to Guatemala to fun in the June elections. If he fails in his bid to serve as government chief, Farhi plans to return to Israel, he told Ynet News.

Guatemala opened its embassy to Israel in occupied Jerusalem in early May. The move came after the US announced that it would be moving its embassy from Tel Aviv on the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, when nearly a million Palestinians were forced out of their homes to make way for the creation of the state of Israel. Israel celebrates this as its independence day.

See also:

Guatemala: City to name all streets after places in Israel

March 8, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel to build ‘Embassy Quarter’ in occupied Jerusalem

MEMO | December 12, 2018

Israel is to build an embassy complex in occupied Jerusalem, a year after US President Donald Trump announced his plans to relocate the American Embassy to the city. Israel’s Construction and Housing Ministry announced today that it plans to build a complex with space for nine separate embassies in occupied East Jerusalem, in the belief that more countries will follow the US lead and move their diplomatic missions from Tel Aviv, Arutz Sheva reported.

The complex is to be built on a 25-acre plot of land in East Talpiot, a southern neighbourhood of Jerusalem. Following the Nakba of 1948, East Talpiot became part of no man’s land, next to the 1949 Armistice Line – sometimes known as the Green Line – observed by Israel and Jordan. During the Six Day War of 1967 Israel occupied the neighbourhood, establishing an illegal settlement there in 1973.

The plan to build the complex in East Talpiot is therefore in contravention of international law. As such, any country which chooses to move its embassy into the complex upon its completion would also be violating international law.

The intended construction is being pushed by Israel’s Construction and Housing Minister, Yoav Galant, who said of the plan: “I am convinced that many more countries will relocate their embassies to Jerusalem, which is why I instructed experts in the ministry to come up with an appropriate solution for the embassies in the future, including construction of a special ‘Embassy Quarter’.”

Galant urged the international community to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem. “It is our eternal capital. It is the right thing to do. Make the move quickly; the best places are going to be taken quickly.”

US embassy moved to Jerusalem – Cartoon [Chappatte/Twitter]

Since Trump announced that he would move the US embassy to Jerusalem last December, only Guatemala and Paraguay have followed suit. However, within months of relocating its mission, Paraguay reversed the decision and moved the embassy back to Tel Aviv, citing a desire to support “broad, lasting and just peace” among Israelis and Palestinians.

Other countries have toyed with the idea of moving their embassies to Jerusalem but have been hesitant to follow through with the move. In October, it emerged that Australia was contemplating relocating its embassy, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying that he was “open-minded” about it. “No decision has been made regarding the recognition of a capital or the movement of an embassy […] but at the same time, what we are simply doing is being open to that suggestion,” he explained.

This prompted a furious backlash from Malaysia and Indonesia, two countries that have historically been supportive of the Palestinian cause. Australia has not yet acted on any such plans, with reports emerging yesterday that a decision is “still pending”.

December 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Peace Accords or Political Surrender? Latin America, the Middle East and Ukraine

By James Petras :: 03.18.2017

Introduction

Over thirty year ago a savvy Colombian peasant leader told me, “Whenever I read the word ‘peace accords’ I hear the government sharpening its knives”.

In recent times, ‘peace accords’ (PAs) have become a common refrain across the world. In almost every region or country, which are in the midst of war or invasion, the prospects of negotiating ‘peace accords’ have been raised. In many cases, PA’s were signed and yet did not succeed in ending murder and mayhem at the hands of their US-backed interlocutors.

We will briefly review several past and present peace negotiations and ‘peace accords’ to understand the dynamics of the ‘peace process’ and the subsequent results.

The Peace Process

There are several ongoing negotiations today, purportedly designed to secure peace accords. These include discussions between (1) the Kiev-based US-NATO-backed junta in the west and the eastern ‘Donbas’ leadership opposed to the coup and NATO; (2) the Saudi US-NATO-armed terrorists in Syria and the Syrian government and its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies; (3) the US-backed Israeli colonial regime and the Palestinian independence forces in the West Bank and Gaza; and (4) the US-backed Colombian regime of President Santos and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).

There are also several other peace negotiations taking place, many of which have not received public attention.

Past and Present Outcomes of Peace Accords

Over the past quarter century several PAs were signed – all of which led to the virtual surrender of armed anti-imperialist protagonists and popular mass movements.

The Central-American PA’s, involving Salvador and Guatemala, led to the unilateral disarmament of the resistance movement, the consolidation of oligarchical control over the economy, the growth and proliferation of narco-gangs and unfettered government-sponsored death squads. As a consequence, internal terror escalated. Resistance leaders secured the vote, entered Congress as politicians, and, in the case of El Salvador, were elected to high office. Inequalities remained the same or worsened, and murders matched or exceeded the numbers recorded during the pre-Peace Accord period. Massive numbers of immigrants, often of internal refugees fleeing gang violence, entered the US illegally. The US consolidated its military bases and operations in Central America while the population continued to suffer.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations did not lead to any accord. Instead ‘negotiations’ became a thin cover for increasing annexation of Palestinian land to construct racist ‘Jews-Only’ enclaves, resulting in the illegal settlement of over half a million Jewish settlers. The US-backed the entire farcical peace process, financing the corrupt Palestinian vassal-leaders and providing unconditional diplomatic, military and political support to Israel.

US-Soviet Union: Peace Accord

The Reagan/Bush-Gorbachev ‘peace accords’ were supposed to end the Cold War and secure global peace. Instead the US and the EU established military bases and client regimes/allies throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic and Balkans, pillaged the national assets and took over their denationalized economies. US-based elites dominated the vassal Yeltsin regime and virtually stripped Russia of its resources and wealth. In alliance with gangster-oligarchs, they plundered the economy.

The post-Soviet Yeltsin regime ran elections, promoted multiple parties and presided over a desolate, isolated and increasingly surrounded nation – at least until Vladimir Putin was elected to ‘decolonize’ the State apparatus and partially reconstruct the economy and society.

Ukraine Peace Negotiations

In 2014 a US-sponsored violent coup brought together fascists, oligarchs, generals and pro-EU supporters seizing control of Kiev and the western part of Ukraine. The pro-democracy Eastern regions of the Donbas and Crimean Peninsula organized resistance to the putsch regime. Crimea voted overwhelmingly to re-unite Russia. The industrial centers in Eastern Ukraine (Donbas) formed popular militias to resist the armed forces and neo-Nazi paramilitaries of the US backed-junta. After a few years of mayhem and stalemate, a ‘negotiation process’ unfolded despite which the Kiev regime continued to attack the east. The tentative ‘peace settlement’ became the basis for the ‘Minsk agreement’, brokered by France, Russia and Germany, where the Kiev junta envisioned a disarming of the resistance movement, re-occupation of the Donbas and Crimea and eventual destruction of the cultural, political, economic and military autonomy of the ethnic Russian East Ukraine. As a result, the ‘Minsk Agreement’ has been little more than a failed ploy to secure surrender. Meanwhile, the Kiev junta’s massive pillage of the nation’s economy has turned Ukraine into a failed state with 2.5 million fleeing to Russia and many thousands emigrating to the West to dig potatoes in Poland, or enter the brothels of London and Tel Aviv. The remaining unemployed youth are left to sell their services to Kiev’s paramilitary fascist shock troops.

Colombia: Peace Accord or Graveyard?

Any celebration of the Colombian FARC – President Santos’ ‘Peace Accord’ would be premature if we examine its past incarnations and present experience.

Over the past four decades, Colombian oligarchical regimes, backed by the military, death squads and Washington have invoked innumerable ‘peace commissions’, inaugurated negotiations with the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and proceeded to both break off negotiations and relaunch full-scale wars using ‘peace accords’ as a pretext to decimate and demoralize political activists.

In 1984, then-President Belisario Betancur signed a peace accord with the FARC, known as the ‘Uribe Agreement’. Under this agreement, thousands of FARC activists and supporters demobilized, formed the Patriotic Union (UP), a legal electoral party, and participated in elections. In the 1986 Colombian elections, the UP candidates were elected as Senators, Congress people, mayors and city council members, and their Presidential candidate gained over 20% of the national vote. Over the next 4 years, from 1986-1989, over 5,000 UP leaders, elected officials and Presidential candidates were assassinated in a campaign of nationwide terror. Scores of thousands of peasants, oil workers, miners and plantation laborers were murdered, tortured and driven into exile. Paramilitary death squads and landlord-backed private armies, allied with the Colombian Armed Forces, assassinated thousands of union leaders, workers and their families members. The Colombian military’s ‘paramilitary strategy’ against non-combatants and villagers was developed in the 1960’s by US Army General William Yarborough, Commandant, US Army Special Warfare Center and ‘Father of the Green Beret’ Special Forces.

Within five years of its formation, the Patriotic Union no longer existed: Its surviving members had fled or gone into hiding.

In 1990, newly-elected President Cesar Gaviria proclaimed new peace negotiations with the FARC. Within months of his proclamation, the president ordered the bombing of the ‘Green House’, where the FARC leaders and negotiating team were being lodged. Fortunately, they had fled before the treacherous attack.

President Andrés Pastrana (1998-2001) called for new peace negotiations with the FARC to be held ‘in a demilitarized zone’. Peace talks began in the jungle region of El Caguan in November 1998. President Pastrana had made numerous pledges, concessions and reforms with the FARC and social activists, but, at the same time he had signed a ten-year multi-billion dollar military aid agreement with US President Clinton, known as ‘Plan Colombia’. This practice of ‘double-dealing’ culminated with the Colombian Armed Forces launching a ’scorched earth policy’ against the ‘demilitarized zones’ under the newly elected (and death-squad linked) President Alvaro Uribe Velez. Over the next eight years, President Uribe drove nearly four million Colombian peasants into internal exile. With the multi-billion dollar funding from Washington, Uribe was able to double the size of the Colombian Armed Forces to over 350,000 troops, incorporating members of the death squads into the military. He also oversaw the formation of new paramilitary armies. By 2010 the FARC had declined from eighteen thousand to under ten thousand fighters – with hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties and millions rendered homeless.

In 2010 Uribe’s former Minister of Defense, Juan Manual Santos was elected President. By 2012 Santos initiated another “peace process” with the FARC, which was signed by the end of 2016. Under the new ‘Peace Accord’, signed in Cuba, hundreds of officers implicated in torture, assassinations and forced relocation of peasants were given immunity from prosecution while FARC guerillas were to face trial. The government promised land reform and the right to return for displaced farmers and their families. However, when peasants returned to claim their land they were driven away or even killed.

FARC leaders agreed to demobilize and disarm unilaterally by June 2017. The military and their paramilitary allies would retain their arms and gain total control over previous FARC- liberated zones.

President Santos ensured that the ‘Peace Accord’ would include a series of Presidential Decrees – privatizing the country’s mineral and oil resources and converting small family farms to commercial plantations. Demobilized peasant-rebels were offered plots of infertile marginal lands, without government support or funding for roads, tools, seed and fertilizer or even schools and housing, necessary for the transition. While some FARC leaders secured seats in Congress and the freedom to run in elections unmolested, the young rank and file FARC fighters and peasants were left without many alternatives but to join paramilitary or ‘narco’ gangs.

In summary, the historical record demonstrates that a series of Colombian presidents and regimes have systematically violated all peace agreements and accords, assassinated the rebel signees and retained elite control over the economy and labor force. Before his election, the current President Santos presided over the most deadly decade when he was Uribe’s Defense Minister.

For brokering the peace of the graveyard for scores of thousands of Colombian peasants and activists, President Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In Havana, FARC leaders and negotiators were praised by Cuban President Raul Castro, President Obama, Venezuelan President Maduro and the vast majority of ‘progressives’ and rightists in North and South America and Europe.

Colombia’s bloody history, including the widespread murder of Colombian civil rights activists and peasant leaders, has continued even as the documents finalizing the Peace Accords were being signed. During the first month of 2017, five human right activists were murdered by death squads – linked to the oligarchy and military. In 2015, while the FARC was negotiating over several clauses in the agreement, over 122 peasant and human rights activists were murdered by paramilitary groups who continued to operate freely in areas controlled by Santos’ army. The mass media propaganda mills continue to repeat the lie that ‘200,000 people were killed by the guerillas (FARC) and the government’ when the vast majority of the killings were committed by the government and its allied death squads; a calumny, which guerilla leaders fail to challenge. Prominent Jesuit researcher Javier Giraldo has provided a detailed factual account documenting that over three quarters of the killings were committed by the Army and paramilitary.

We are asked to believe presidential regimes that have murdered and continue to murder over 150,000 Colombian workers, peasants, indigenous leaders and professionals are suddenly transformed into justice-loving partners in peace. During the first three months of this year, activists, sympathetic to the peace agreement with the FARC, continue to be targeted and killed by supposedly demobilized paramilitary murderers.

Social movement leaders report rising political violence by military forces and their allies. Even peace monitors and the UN Human Rights Office admit that state and paramilitary violence are destroying any structure that President Santos could hope to implement the reforms. As the FARC withdraws from regions under popular control, peasants seeking land reform are targeted by private armies. The Santos regime is more concerned with protecting the massive land grabs by big mining consortiums.

As the killing of FARC supporters and human rights activists multiply, as President Santos and Washington look to take advantage of a disarmed and demobilized guerilla army, the ‘historic peace accord’ becomes a great deceit designed to expand imperial power.

Conclusion: Epitaph for Peace Accords

Time and again throughout the world, imperial-brokered peace negotiations and accords have served only one goal: to disarm, demobilize, defeat and demoralize resistance fighters and their allies.

‘Peace Accords’, as we know them, have served to rearm and regroup US-backed forces following tactical setbacks of the guerrilla struggle. ‘PA’s are encouraged to divide the opposition (’salami tactics’) and facilitate conquest. The rhetoric of ‘peace’ as in ‘peace negotiations’ are terms which actually mean ‘unilateral disarmament’ of the resistance fighters, the surrender of territory and the abandonment of civilian sympathizers. The so-called ‘war zones’, which contain fertile lands and valuable mineral reserves are ‘pacified’ by being absorbed by the ‘peace loving’ regime. This serves their privatization programs and promote the pillage of the ‘developmental state’. Negotiated peace settlements are overseen by US officials, who praise and laud the rebel leaders while they sign agreements to be implemented by US vassal regimes . . . The latter will ensure the rejection of any realignment of foreign policy and any structural socio-economic changes.

Some peace accords may allow former guerilla leaders to compete and in some cases win elections as marginal representatives, while their mass base is decimated.

In most cases, during the peace process, and especially after signing ‘peace accords’, social organizations and movements and their supporters among the peasantry and working class, as well as human rights activists, end up being targeted by the military and para-military death-squads operating around government military bases.

Often, the international allies of resistance movements have encouraged them to negotiate PAs, in order to demonstrate to the US that ‘they are responsible’— hoping to secure improved diplomatic and trade relations. Needless to say, ‘responsible negotiations’ will merely strengthen imperial resolve to press for further concessions, and encourage military aggression and new conquests.

Just ‘peace accords’ are based on mutual disarmament, recognition of territorial autonomy and the authority of local insurgent administration over agreed upon land reforms, retaining mineral rights and military-public security.

PA’s should be the first step in the political agendas, implemented under the control of independent rebel military and civil monitors.

The disastrous outcome of unilateral disarmament is due to the non-implementation of progressive, independent foreign policy and structural changes.

Past and present peace negotiations, based on the recognition of the sovereignty of an independent state linked to mass movements, have always ended in the US breaking the agreements. True ‘peace accords’ contradict the imperial goal of conquering via the negotiating table what could not be won through war.

March 19, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Nemeses and Scourges of the Western World

By James Petras | November 5, 2016

Seven is a winning throw of the dice. But in our civil society, seven now signifies the multi-thong scourge, the whip used by the Western world as its instrument of punishment and, in response; seven signifies Nemesis and her sisters, the inescapable agents of the West’s downfall.

The seven scourges of the Western world are used against the people of Asia, Africa, Latin and North America. These whips are constructed, wielded and unleashed especially by the US and the UK.

The seven sisters of Nemesis, the Erinyes, are the Furies who pursue the injustices committed by the Western world against Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe. Those holding the scourge detest and fear Nemesis and the Furies, but are incapable of destroying them. Try as they might, their whip is in corrupt and feeble hands and, of course, it can only follow their orders: Otherwise, it just twitches and remains immobile, while Nemesis pursues the scourgers of humanity.

The Seven-Tailed Scourge of the Western World

The ‘whip’ wielded by the Western world, is used to punish disobedient, ‘rebellious’ people, movements and states. Their multiple lashes have bloodied countless generations and buried millions.

The seven scourges against humanity are unrepentant in their promotion of ‘Western values’ – visible to the terrified world on the red raw backs of oppressed people, their wounds flayed open by the faceless drones proclaiming their gifts of freedom and democracy.

Let us go forward now and describe the pillars holding up the Western empire, the seven-tailed scourge of humanity.

1. Mexico: The Cartel, the Narco-State, US Bankers and Death Squads

Over the last two decades, over a quarter million Mexicans have been murdered by the joint forces of the drug cartels, the Mexican State and its death squads, presided over by the US state and backed by its rapacious financial sector. Cartels and complicit Mexican officials prosper because US banks launder their narco-dollars by the billions. On their part, US corporations grow even richer by relocating their plants to Mexico where terrorized workers can be exploited for 1/5 the cost. Amidst the terror and exploitation, over 11 million Mexican workers and family members have fled to the US running from their local scourges, only to confront the US scourge of deportation. Over 2 million have been imprisoned and expelled under Obama.

2. Honduras and Guatemala: Imperial Wars, Drug Gangs and Narco-Oligarchs

Destitution and state terror are direct products of US–installed regimes in Honduras and Guatemala. Guatemala’s indigenous majority was ravaged by US and Israeli-trained military battalions and death squads. In their wake, scores of narco-gangs, sponsored by local oligarchs and their own private death squads, have emerged. The Honduran people attempted to elect an enlightened liberal President, and were ‘rewarded’ for their peaceful democratic election with a military coup orchestrated by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. They further underscore the lesson of ‘Western values’: Scores of human rights activists and peasant leaders have been murdered and the scourges continue unabated.

3. Colombia: Nobel Prize for Death Squad President

For the past fifteen years, (2001-2016), the Clinton-Bush-Obama regimes launched the seven-billion-dollar ‘Plan Colombia’ terror campaign against the Colombian people. This scourge was so powerful that over two and a half million peasants, Indigenous peoples, and Afro-Colombians have been driven from their homes and villages while, tens of thousands of peasants, trade unionists, human rights activists and civic leaders have been killed. The notorious narco-President Alvaro Uribe and his Vice President Santos worked with the death squads and the Colombian military under the instruction of over one thousand US military advisers and contract mercenaries as they imposed a scorched earth policy – to consolidate a ‘reign of Western values’.

In Colombia, the three-tailed scourge of narco-presidents, death squads and the military decimated rural communities throughout that large and populous nation. They finally induced the FARC guerrillas to submit to a ‘peace’ agreement, which perpetuated the oligarchy. The US remains free to exploit Colombia for its military bases against the rest of Latin America, while foreign corporations exploit its mineral riches. For his part in promoting the ‘peace of the dead’, Colombian President Santos received the Nobel ‘Peace’ Prize.

4. Saudi Arabia: A Household Name Among the Middle East Scourges

No country in the Middle East has financed, organized and directed terrorism in the Middle East, South Asia, North and East Africa, the former Soviet Union and even North America, more than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It currently scourges the tiny nation of Yemen. Using its ISIS mercenaries, backed by jets, missiles, and logistical support from the UK and the USA, the Saudi despots have invaded maimed and murdered tens of thousands of Yemenis, while hundreds of thousands face starvation in a Saudi-imposed blockade.

The Saudi billionaire regime bankrolled thousands of terrorists in Syria and Iraq, giving billions of dollars of business to US and UK arms manufacturers. Saudi monarchs and their extended clans form a parasitic rentier regime unique in the world. They rely on the skills and labor of imported professionals, workers, household servants, mercenary solders, financial managers and even their praetorian guards. They confine their women behind the veil and closed doors, under the absolute rule of male relatives. They chop off the hands, feet and heads of foreign workers and their own citizens for minor offenses, including ‘blasphemy’, criticism of the king or resisting an employer’s abuse. Saudi Arabia, which is totally dependent on Washington’s protection, has become a scourge especially against Muslim people throughout the Middle East and beyond.

5. Israel: The Scourge of Palestine and Free People Near and Far

The Israeli State is the head commanding the tentacles of a far-reaching Zionist Power Configuration operating in the US, Canada, England, France and, to a less degree, in satellite states and institutions. Israel was established on the dispossession and ethnic cleansing of millions of Palestinians from their homes and villages since 1948. For almost 50 years, 600,000 ‘Israeli’ Jews (immigrants given automatic ‘citizenship’ and stolen property based solely on their ‘ethno-religious’ identity) have illegally moved into what remained of historical Palestine, building exclusive ‘Jews-only’ colonial towns on land ripped from its original inhabitants. The Palestinians are herded into apartheid militarized enclaves and squalid camps. Israel invaded and devastated large parts of Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. They have bombed other nations, like Jordan and Iraq, with impunity. The Israeli state uses a virtual fifth column of loyalist organizations and billionaire financiers in the US and EU who ultimately dictate Middle East policy to the ‘elected’ Western politicians. Presidents and Prime Ministers, Cabinet members and legislators must publicly bow to the increasing demands of the overseas Zionist power structure. This has undermined the will and interests of national electorates and democratic procedures. All public discourse on this vital issue has been censored because critics of Israel’s influence are subjected to unremitting campaigns of overt coercion, threats, jailing on trumped up charges, vilification and job loss – within their own countries in the ‘democratic’ West. Meanwhile, Israel has sold its much-vaunted expertise in surveillance, torture and counter-insurgency to its fellow scourgers in Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico and even Afghanistan.

6. Egypt: Modern Scourges of an Ancient People

For decades, Egyptian military dictators have served the Anglo-American Empire and Israel’s ruling colonists in the Middle East, North and East Africa. Generals-turned-‘Presidents’ Hosni Mubarak and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi specialized in murdering, torturing and jailing thousands of Egyptian trade unionists, dissident activists, peasant leaders and the restless urban poor. These violently installed Egyptian rulers are expected to collaborate with Israel and trap millions of desperate Palestinians in the world’s largest open air prison: Gaza. Cairo actively collaborates with the US and Israel in subverting the people and institutions of Gaza, Libya, Somalia and Sudan – guaranteeing that none will be functioning, independent modern states. Egypt’s first and only elected president Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by General Sisi and sentenced to twenty years in a military torture dungeon (a virtual death sentence for a 65 year old) by a kangaroo court under the direction of Washington and Tel Aviv. Egypt, once the epicenter for civil democratic expression — ‘the Arab Spring’ — has become the a major staging area for US-backed jihadi terrorists entering Syria.

7. ISIS, NUSRA Front, Ukraine and Syria: Puppets, Kleptocrats, Fascists and Terrorists

In this very modern Western world, where democratic values are sold to the cheapest buyer, the US, the UK and the EU shop for mercenaries and puppet regimes in order to scourge their critics and adversaries.

The West, led by the Grand Scourger Hillary Clinton, bombed Libya and destroyed its entire modern state apparatus. They opened the floodgates to thousands of mercenaries and terrorist-thugs of all colors and stripes to feed off the carcass of what Mouammar Gaddafi and the modern Libyan state had built over the past 40 years. These criminals, draped in the banners of ‘humanitarian intervention’ or ‘mission civilisatice’, ran amok, killing and ravaging tens of thousands of Libyan citizens and contract workers of sub-Saharan African origin. The tens of thousands of Africans desperately fleeing each year into the Mediterranean are the result of this Western rampage against the Libyan state. The jihadis have moved on… by those who forgot to distinguish between terrorists who support our ‘democratic values’ and those who would attack the West. The West can’t be blamed: Mercenaries change sides so often.

The ethnic cleansing scourges of the past returned to the Ukraine: as (neo) fascists took power in Kiev, storming the Parliament and forcing the President to flee. Nazi-era banners decorated the streets of Kiev under the approving gaze of the US State Department. Neo-Nazi thugs massacred scores of unarmed ethnic Russian citizens in the port city of Odessa when they set fire to the main trade union hall where the trapped men, women and youths were burned alive or bludgeoned while fleeing the flames. The US State Department had spent $5 billion dollars to replace an elected government with a pliant regime in Kiev while large parts of the country fell into civil war. The ethnic Russian populations of the industrialized Donbas region resisted and were invaded by an ethnically cleansed and neo-fascist putschist Ukrainian army – under US-EU supervision. The war has cost tens of thousands of lives, a million refugees fled to Russia and a divided failing state now festers in the heart of Europe. Kleptocrats and Fascists in Kiev oversee an utterly bankrupt economy. The destitute citizens abandon the towns and cities; some fleeing to Poland to pick potatoes as their serf ancestors did a century ago.

Syria has been ravaged by an immense army of mercenary scourges, financed and supplied by the US, EU, Turkey and, of course, Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda had merely to change its battle flags to NUSRA and receive the US benediction as ‘moderate pro-Western democrats’ resisting a Baathist dictatorship in Damascus. In the course of their ‘democratic’ mission they destroyed the ancient, critical cultural and economic center of Aleppo – scourging the Christians and non-jihadi Muslims and other ancient minorities. Over two million Syrians have died or fled the fiery scourge of Anglo-American and Saudi-Turkish terror.

The Seven Sisters: Nemesis and the Furies Confront the Western World

The scourges are falling on hard times: East and West, North and South they face their inescapable Nemesis. Their exposed injustices, crimes and grotesque failures herald their inevitable downfall. The seven furies are even emerging in unusual places:

1. The economic and trade power of China challenges the West throughout world, expanding even into the heartland of the empire. The West’s fear over China’s peaceful economic expansion has led Western political leaders to revive protectionist policies, claiming that barriers against Chinese investors must be raised to prevent takeovers by Beijing. From July 2015 to September 2016, the West blocked nearly $40 billion in productive Chinese investment. This comes after decades of preaching the virtues of foreign investment and the universal benefits of ‘globalization’. Suddenly Western leaders claim that Chinese investment is a ‘threat to national security’ and ‘profits Chinese businesses over Western-owned enterprises.’

Meanwhile, far from this Sino-phobic hysteria, the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America actively seek greater economic ties with China to the detriment of US-EU multinationals. Once servile Asian countries, like the Philippines, have declared unfettered US access to frontline imperial military bases in doubt, as they sign favorable multi-billion trade and investment agreements with China. Western imperial ideology about investment and globalization has boomeranged and met its Nemesis.

2. The Russian Furies: Vladimir Putin

During the 1990s, the US plundered Russia at will. Washington imposed a uni-polar world, celebrated as the New World Order. They bombed and devastated former Russian allies like Yugoslavia and Iraq, setting up ethnically cleansed rump states like Kosovo for their huge military bases. Meanwhile, Washington reduced Russia, under the inebriate Yeltsin regime, to a backwater vassal stripped of its resources, its institutions, scientists, and research centers. In the absence of war, the Russian economy declined by 50% and life expectancy fell below that of Bangladesh. The US celebrated this ‘victory of democracy’ over a helpless, deteriorating state by welcoming the most obscene new gangster oligarchs and pillagers and laundering their bloodstained loot.

The door slammed shut on the pillage with the election of Vladimir Putin and the demise of the Yeltsin gangster-government. Russia was transformed. Putin reversed Russia’s demise: the economy recovered, living standards rose abruptly, employment in all sectors increased, and cultural, educational and scientific centers were restored. Vladimir Putin was elected and re-elected by overwhelming majorities of the Russian electorate despite huge sums of Western money going to his opponents. Russia systematically recovered many strategic sectors of the economy illegally seized by Western-backed Israeli-Russian oligarchs Even more important, Putin restored Russian statecraft and diplomacy – formulating a strategy for an independent, democratic foreign policy and restoring Russia’s defense capability. The loss of this critical vassal state under its dipsomaniacal Boris Yeltsin shook the US EU-NATO alliance to its very core.

In the beginning President Putin did not oppose the US-NATO military invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. It went along with the economic sanctions imposed on Iran. It even maintained its cooperation despite a US-sponsored attack by the government of Georgia against South Ossetia killing scores of Russian peacekeepers. In the wake of those destabilizing disasters, what finally led the Russian government to reverse its complicity with the West was the horrific US-financed invasion of Syria where Russian jihadis from the Caucasus were playing an important role as mercenaries, threatening to return and undermine the stability of Russia. This was quickly followed by the US-sponsored putsch in Ukraine, fomenting a civil war on Russia’s frontiers, threatening is vital naval base in Crimea and repressing millions of ethnic Russian-Ukrainian citizens in the industrialized Donbas region. This blatant aggression finally pushed Putin to challenge the expansionist policies of Washington and the EU.

Putin backed a plebiscite in Crimea and won when its citizens voted overwhelmingly to re-join and preserve the Russian bases. Putin has backed the rebel defense of the Donbas against a NATO-neo-fascist Kiev invasion.

Putin accepted a request for aid from the Syrian government as it battled mercenaries and jihadis to preserve its national integrity. The Russians sent arms, troops and air support for the Syrian Arab Army, rolling back the Western and Saudi armed terrorists.

In response to the Washington-EU economic sanctions against Russia over the Crimean plebiscite, Putin signed multi-billion-dollar trade and investment agreements and joint defense pacts with China – mitigating the impact of the sanctions.

Wherever Washington seeks to seize and control territory and regimes in Eurasia, it now faces the Putin nemesis. In Russia and overseas, in the Middle East and the Caucuses, in the Persian Gulf and Asia, the US meets stalemates at best, and roll-back at worst.

The CIA-stooge Yeltsin and his cronies were evicted from the Kremlin to the indignation of Washington and the EU. Many of the kleptocrats, politicos, thugs and swindlers fled to their new homes in Langley, on Wall Street, in Washington or set up talk-shops at Harvard. Even the gruesome Chechens had their ‘color-coded’ support center (the CIA-American Committee for Peace in Chechnya) based in Boston. Never in modern history has a country so rapidly transformed from degraded vassalage to a dynamic global power as Russia. Never has the US seen its grand imperial design so successfully challenged in so many places at the same time.

The Putin Nemesis has become the inescapable agent of the downfall of the US Empire.

3. The Islamic Republic of Iran became a Muslim-nationalist alternative to the US-Israeli dominated Muslim dictatorships and monarchies in the Middle East. The Iranian Revolutions inspired citizens throughout Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Iraq and Yemen. As a result of its growing influence, Iran was punished by the US and EU with crippling economic sanctions pushed especially by Tel Aviv and its Western agents. Fearful that Iran’s example would destabilize its control, the US invaded Lebanon, promoted the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon and has backed the terrorist campaign to dismember Syria. The results have been dismal for Washington: Iran continues to support the powerful Hezbollah, a major political and military power in Lebanon. The Saudi’s war against Yemen is largely an ethno-religious campaign to destroy Yeminis who favor independence over Saudi-US control and have Iran’s support. Iraq’s Shia resistance forces are leading the attack against the Saudi-funded ISIS terrorists, with Iranian commanders playing a significant role.

Hezbollah, Iran’s ally in Lebanon, drove out the Israeli occupation forces and raised the cost of another invasion by Tel Aviv.

Against all the impotent, corrupt Arab puppets in the Middle East, only Iran has supported the Palestinians. It is the only force capable of retaliating against an Israeli sneak attack – which is why it is demonized.

Iran is the Nemesis against US plans to conquer and dismember Syria. It has provided arms and volunteers on the battlefield against terrorist mercenaries.

Iran effectively negotiated a partial lifting of Western sanctions, overcoming Israeli intransigence and securing billion-dollar trade agreements with Germany, Russia and China. It holds the prospects for productive trade and diplomatic deals in the near future – to the howling consternation of its enemies in Washington, Riyadh, London and Tel Aviv.

For all the efforts by the tentacles of Israel’s fifth column, Iran has survived and emerged as the Nemesis of Anglo-American and Israeli ambitions in the Middle East.

4. Venezuela became the leading proponent for an independent foreign policy in Latin America. For almost twenty years, the US tried repeatedly to overthrow the government in Caracas. They failed. By ballot or by bullet, despite slapping economic sanctions on Venezuela, the US suffered humiliating defeats and failed coups and aborted uprisings. Venezuela remains Washington’s principal Nemesis, thwarting its efforts to make ‘free trade’ pacts and deepen military alliances in Latin America.

5. Upon taking office in June 2016, the Philippines new president Rodrigo Duterte assumed the lead role of Washington’s most colorful ‘Nemesis’ in Southeast Asia. Under his widely popular presidency, he pivoted to China, promising to sharply reduce joint Philippine-US military exercises in the South China Sea directed against Beijing and, in return, he secured the co-operation of several hundred leading Philippine entrepreneurs in winning an initial $13 billion dollar public-private Chinese investment package for critical infrastructure and trade development..

President Duterte has frequently denounced Washington’s interference in his domestic war on drug traffickers – citing the US hypocrisy in its criticism of his human rights record. He has personally held President Obama responsible for meddling in Philippine affairs. Drawing on the history of the bloody US colonial war against the Philippine people in 1898, he holds the US responsible for inciting ethno-religious conflicts in the southern island of Mindanao – Duterte’s home region.

President Duterte’s declaration of independence from Washington (“I am no one’s ‘tuta’ [puppy dog]”)and his foreign policy priority of ‘pivoting’ from US military domination to regional economic co-operation with Beijing has turned the Philippines into Washington’s prime Nemesis in Southeast Asia.

6. The resistance of the Yemeni people, mainly ethnic Houthi freedom fighters, against the onslaught of bombing and missile strikes by the Saudi-US-UK air force, has aroused widespread solidarity throughout the Middle East.

Despite the ongoing massacre of over 10,000 Yeminis, mostly civilians, the Saudi ‘alliance’ has failed to impose a puppet regime. US links with the Saudi dictatorship have undermined its claims of humanitarian concerns for the people of Yemen. The embattled Houthi rebels have secured the support of Iran, Iraq and the majority of people in the Persian Gulf countries. As the war continues, the Saudi’s increasingly rely on military trainers, fighter bombers and logistical experts from the US, UK and NATO to pick the targets and maintain the starvation blockade. Sooner or later the courageous and tenacious resistance of the free people of Yemen against the Saudi overlords will inspire a domestic Saudi uprising against its grotesque and decrepit theocratic-monarchist state. The fall of the Royal House of Saud will bury a major scourge in the Middle East. In a word, the battle for Yemen has become the Nemesis of US-Saudi domination.

7. Everywhere in the Western world the ruling classes and their media outlets fear and loath ‘populists’ – leaders, movements, electorates – who reject their austerity programs designed to deepen inequalities and further enrich the elite. Throughout the European Union and in North and South America, workers and middle class majorities are on the march to oust the ‘free market’ regimes and restore the ‘populist’ welfare state, with its emphasis on social services, living wages and humane working conditions.

From the UK to France, Poland to Portugal, China to North America, Mexico to Argentina, the Nemesis and Furies of populist rollbacks threaten to dislodge the scourge held by the bankers, conglomerates and billionaires. Scattered populists may hold diverse ideologies; some may be nationalists, leftists, workers, farmers, petit bourgeois and public employees, indebted students, ecologists or protectionists. All are both united and divided by disparate interests and beliefs. And all are preparing for the inevitable downfall of the empire of the free market and wars.

Conclusion

Today the world’s greatest global conflicts have lined up the Imperial West and its frontline scourging allies against the Furies and Nemesis emerging on all continents. These are the inescapable agents of the Empire’s downfall.

The scourges of the West have been free to plunder the wealth of subject peoples and launch wars, which ravage both ancient and modern states and cultures while slaughtering and dispossessing scores of millions. The West derives its lifeblood through its seven-tailed scourge. Western elites rule through a chain of scourging puppet states with their bloody accomplices, from narco-murderers, Islamists terrorists, death squads to ordinary ‘piecework’ torturers.

Without resorting too much to the wisdom of the ancient Greek myths, we have come to believe that states, regimes, movements and people finally will emerge to act as the inescapable agents of the justice leading to the downfall of the Western empire. Modern Nemesis and Furies have a dual existence: While bringing down the old order they seek to create alternatives.

The ‘scourgers’ are by their nature specialists in wanton crimes against humanity. Nemesis and her sisters challenge and oust the latter as they construct their own new centers of wealth and power. China, Russia and Iran have gone beyond the role of Nemesis to the West – they are poised to build a new civilization on its ruins.

It remains an open question whether they can avoid becoming the new scourge against the people and nations who have risen in revolt.

November 6, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Guatemala Indicts Top Ex-Military Men for War Crimes and Rape

A family member holds an image of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen, kidnapped and disappeared in 1981 when he was 14 years old.

A family member holds an image of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen, kidnapped and disappeared in 1981 when he was 14 years old. | Photo: EFE
teleSUR | October 25, 2016

Marco Antonio Molina Theissen was kidnapped by the military in 1981 when he was 14 years old. His family never saw him again.

Guatemala made a new breakthrough Tuesday in the decades-old struggle for justice for historical crimes against humanity, including systematic rape, as a court indicted former military chief of staff Manuel Benedicto Lucas Garcia and four other high-ranking officials on a number of crimes linked to the 1981 kidnapping and disappearance of 14-year-old boy Marco Antonio Molina Theissen, including the torture and rape of his sister Emma Guadeloupe.

In the presence of Marco Antonio and Emma Guadeloupe’s mother, Emma Theissen de Molina, in the criminal court, Judge Victor Herrera Rios announced that all five former top military men were involved in crimes against humanity, forced disappearance, and aggravated rape.

Lucas Garcia, the brother of former dictator Romero Lucas Garcia and the four others accused — former commanders Francisco Luis Gordillo and Edilberto Letona and former military intelligence agents Hugo Ramiro Zaldaña and Manuel Antonio Callejas — have been in pre-trial detention since being arrested in January.

Initially, only four were linked to the case. Lucas Garcia — currently facing prosecution along with several other former military officers for the disappearance of at least 558 civilians between 1981 and 1988 — was added when additional charges were announced in August for charges related to his role overseeing counterinsurgency strategy at the time that Emma Guadeloupe was detained and Marco Antonio was disappeared.

In Tuesday’s hearing, the judge established that Lucas Garcia’s role as military chief of staff from 1978 to 1982 held him responsible for the actions of the military brigade under his command in Quetzaltenango, where Molina Theissen was kidnapped in 1981. In that year, Gordilla and Letona were first and second in command, respectively, of the Quetzaltenango army unit, while Zaldaña was the intelligence official to the chief of staff and Callejas was in charge of intelligence at the Quetzaltenango base.

The indictments in the Molina Theissen case are a step toward clarifying the historical truth in brutal crimes carried out at the hands of the military during Guatemala’s bloody 36-year civil war.

In 1981, Emma Guadeloupe, a young activist at the time with the Patriotic Worker Youth, was detained at a military checkpoint for being in possession of items deemed political propaganda. She had previously been detained, tortured and raped by the military officials five years earlier in an incident that saw her boyfriend and two other students killed at the hands of the army.

Intelligence agent Zaldaña, one of the five indicted, was in charge of the checkpoint where Emma Guadeloupe was arrested in 1981. The young leftist — following in the footsteps of other dissidents in her family targeted for speaking out against the military regime — was locked up at the military base in Quetzaltenango.

She managed to run away from the military base nine days later, but the army swiftly retaliated. Just days after her escape, suspected military intelligence agents dressed in plain clothes stormed the Thiessen Molina home, beating the mother and kidnapping 14-year-old Marco Antonio. The family never saw him again.

According to the Washington Office on Latin America, the Molina Theissen family’s attorney has warned that the high-ranking positions of the accused — along with the fact that some of them have been implicated in organized crime operations — raises a risk of witness intimidation and other forms of obstruction of justice in the case, leading him to urge authorities to deny the accused alternative measures.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the Guatemalan state guilty in the Molina Theissen disappearance in 2004, opening the door to a decade-long investigation in hopes of prosecuting the masterminds behind the heinous crimes.

Earlier this year, a landmark sexual slavery trial in Guatemala sentenced two former soldiers to 120 and 240 years in jail and established that rape was systematically used by the military as a weapon of war under the dictatorships. It was the first case of wartime sexual abuse prosecuted in the Central American country, raising hopes among human rights defenders that it could set a precedent for other cases of systematic rape.

The five accused will continue to be held in preventative detention.

October 26, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Justice for the Women of Sepur Zarco

Indigenous women win precedent-setting case against former soldiers in sex slavery trial in Guatemala

The women of Sepur Zarco, forced into sex slavery at the hands of the Guatemalan military in 1982, listen to trial proceedings at the Guatemalan Supreme Court (Photo by Quimy de Leon)

Women of Sepur Zarco, forced into sex slavery at the hands of the Guatemalan military in 1982, listen to trial proceedings at the Guatemalan Supreme Court (Photo by Quimy de Leon)
By Jeff Abbott and Julia Hartviksen – NACLA – 03/11/2016

Nearly 20 years since the signing of Guatemala’s 1996 Peace Accords, justice has finally been served for 15 Indigenous Q’eqchi’ Mayan women of Sepur Zarco, who were forced to become sex slaves for members of Guatemala’s military during the country’s long civil war.

On February 26, Guatemala’s Supreme Court sentenced two former military members, former Lieutenant Coronel Esteelmer Reyes and former Military Commissioner Heriberto Valdez Asij, to prison terms of 120 and 240 years, respectively, for crimes against humanity. Reyes was also found guilty of three assassinations, while Asij was deemed guilty for the forced disappearances of seven men. (Despite the significance of the guilty verdict, prosecutors from the Guatemalan Public Ministry had initially requested that Reyes and Asij be sentenced with 1290 years in prison for war crimes, plus 50 years in prison for each assassination charge.)

On March 2, the perpetrators were also ordered to pay reparations to the victims. Reyes will owe 500,000 Quetzales (about US $65,000) to each of the victim-survivors, and Asij has been ordered to pay 250,000 Quetzales (about US $32,500) for each of the seven forcibly disappeared men.

Judge Yassmín Barrios of the Guatemalan Supreme court made the historic decision following a short, emotional trial, which began February 1 in the Guatemalan Supreme Court in Guatemala City.  The case, the first time in the world where a case of wartime sexual violence was tried in the national courts of the country where the violence occurred, represents a landmark legal decision in Guatemala and a major victory against the impunity for war crimes in the country.

The charges against Reyes and Asij relate to crimes committed in the year 1982, a time when both men were stationed at the Sepur Zarco military base in Alta Verapaz. During this period, the soldiers murdered men in the community, and forced women in the area to work as domestic servants and sexual slaves, subjecting them to degradation, abuse, and rape. In 2010, 12 of those women, all of Mayan Q’eqchi’ descent, brought the case before a mock tribunal meant to address sexual violence during Guatemala’s 36-year-long war. In 2011, the case was brought before a criminal court. Grassroots organizations and international NGOs alike fought to bring the case to the Guatemalan Supreme Court, amidst repeated attempts to derail their efforts.

Lily Muñoz, a sociologist who worked as an independent consultant assisting the legal organization, Mujeres Transformando el Mundo (MTM) on the case, explained the significance of the historic ruling. “It represents justice for war crimes that were committed against women,” she said.

Though the case represents a landmark legal decision for Guatemala, Sepur Zarco is not an exceptional case of sexual violence perpetrated by the military during the war. “This case serves as a precedent not only here in Guatemala, but also on the global scale,” said Lily Muñoz, a sociologist who worked as an independent consultant assisting the legal organization, Mujeres Transformando el Mundo (MTM) on the case.

The case’s success has led to more than 30 Achi’ women from the community of Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, who also suffered from sexual violence at the hands of the military, to begin mobilizing for legal justice for crimes of sexual violence as a tactic of war.

Survivors of the Sepur Zarco sex slavery case at the Supreme Court trial (Photo by Quimy de Leon)

Survivors of the Sepur Zarco sex slavery case at the Supreme Court trial (Photo by Quimy de Leon)

This case also illustrates the gendered dimensions of such brutality – a brutality that preyed upon the vulnerability of indigenous women in rural Guatemala at the height of the internal armed conflict. “It is particularly interesting that sexual violence against women was a part of the sentence, and in the context of an armed conflict. This marks such violence as a war crime, as a crime against humanity. It’s a war crime, but it is a specifically gendered crime, that was tried in the national court of the country where the crimes were committed,” Muñoz said.

She continued: “The military men created conditions of extreme vulnerability for the women of Sepur Zarco. They took their husbands away from them, and they robbed them of their lands and livelihoods – in short, everything they required for social reproduction – and then later, of their sexuality and their ownership over their own bodies.”

As Muñoz explained, Judge Barrios drew on the testimony of a Brazilian anthropologist, Dr. Rita Laura Segato in coming to a decision in the case. Dr. Segato had argued in her testimony that “In the context of the Guatemalan internal armed conflict, women’s bodies were converted into military objects.”

The anthropologist argued that, in this way, that women’s bodies came to represent the “social body,” and for that reason, “the soldiers violated and ‘profaned’ women’s bodies.”

Following Dr. Segato, Muñoz explained that the military sought to “break the community, physically and morally” and did so through sexual violence against women. In this sense, the violence perpetrated against women carried lasting physical, emotional and psychological aspects, and also symbolic meaning for the victim-survivors and other community members. In reading the sentence, Judge Barrios recognized these long-term, destructive impacts the violence of the Sepur Zarco base had on the women who brought the case forward.

The case itself represents a historic shift for the Guatemalan courts, whereby claims of violence brought forth by indigenous women have been recognized by the mainstream justice system, a system that has consistently silenced their voices.  “This case has shown that we can trust the testimonies of the (indigenous) women,” said Ada Valenzuela, the director of the Union Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas (UNAMG). “Even 30 years later, the testimonies of the women were supported through other testimonies, and evidence.”

Despite the fact that the women’s faces were covered during the trial for the purposes of anonymity, it was the women themselves who pushed for the case to move forward, despite being told that it would likely not win. “The women from Sepur Zarco said that if this case were to go to court, then they wanted to go,'” Valnezuela said.  “And we decided that we were going to accompany these women in this process. This was a very valiant decision.”

The women were also accompanied by a coalition of Guatemalan feminist organizations in Guatemala, known as the Alliance to End Silence and Impunity, which includes UNAMG, MTM and the Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial (ECAP). UNAMG and ECAP have worked to provide psychological support for the victims of the internal armed conflict and the women of Sepur Zarco since 2004.

The case also complicates the characterization of the simplified but still all too common narrative of Guatemala’s civil war in which Marxist guerrillas are presented as fighting against state. In fact, in many cases, it was poor rural campesinos, organizing to gain ownership of their own land who suffered the most intense brutality of the conflict.

According to Muñoz, all of the women’s husbands were involved in negotiations with the National Institute for Agrarian Transformation (INTA) to gain legal ownership over land they had lived on for centuries. Many of these lands have since been transformed into fincas for the production of sugar cane and oil palm.

“The conditions that began the war have been maintained today,” said Valenzuela. “The inequality, the question of land, the question of opportunity, (among others), are continuing today. According to Valenzuela, Sepur Zarco “has woken up the women of Guatemala. [It] represents hope for justice for other women who suffered violence during the war.”


Jeff Abbott is an independent journalist currently based out of Guatemala. He has covered human rights and social moments in Central America and Mexico. His work has appeared at VICE News, Truthout, and the Upside Down World. Follow him on twitter @palabrasdeabajo.

Julia Hartviksen is a PhD Candidate at the Gender Institute, at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research focuses on the materiality of violences against women, and the gendered impacts of oil palm in Guatemala’s Northern Transversal Strip. Follow her on twitter @_yulinka_.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Guatemala convicts ex-officers for crimes during civil war

Press TV – February 27, 2016

A court in Guatemala has sentenced two former military officials to over 100 years in prison each for murder, rape and sexual enslavement of the country’s indigenous women during the civil war in 1980s.

On Friday, state media reported that the court found Francisco Reyes Giron and Heriberto Valdéz Asij guilty of crimes carried out during the early 1980s and sentenced them to 120 and 240 years in prison, respectively.

The men were both accused of carrying out “forced disappearances” and forcing 15 indigenous women into sexual and domestic slavery.

Giron was also found guilty of killing one woman and her two daughters, while Valdez Asij was found to be responsible for the forced disappearance of seven men.

According to the unidentified women from the indigenous Q’eqchis community, Guatemala’s military treated them as sexual and domestic slaves during the time period.

“We the judges firmly believe the testimony of the women who were raped in Sepur Zarco,” said Yassmin Barrios, chief judge of the court, adding, “Rape is an instrument or weapon of war, it is a way to attack the country, killing or raping the victims, the woman was seen as a military objective.”

Armed forces reportedly attacked the village of Sepur Zarco a number of times in 1982, killing or abducting Mayan leaders there who had been seeking to apply for land titles.

Lawyers representing the men said the case was fabricated. Moises Galindo, the defense lawyer for Reyes Giron, even claimed his client had never been to the site of the crimes.

“We are going to appeal. We are going to succeed in having this case thrown out,” Galindo said.

Under Guatemalan law, the amount of time a person may spend in prison is 50 years.

February 27, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Sepur Zarco Trial: Guatemala Women Seek Justice for Sex Slavery

genocide_trial_rios_montt.jpg_932480642

teleSUR – January 30, 2016

Fifteen Mayan women who were raped and forced to be sex slaves after their husbands were disappeared are demanding justice 30 years after the abuses.

Guatemala is about to launch a landmark trial against former military officers accused of committing sexual enslavement and forced disappearance during the most brutal years of the country’s 36-year civil war.

Here’s what you need to know about the historic trial that is scheduled to kick off Monday, Feb. 1.

1. Fifteen women were sexual and domestic slaves.

Guatemalan soldiers forcibly disappeared 15 men from an eastern Maya Q’eqchi’ village in 1982. It was one of the bloodiest years of Guatemala’s civil war, when dictator Efrain Rios Montt’s military regime was unleashing a scorched earth campaign targeting rural Mayans. After the army disappeared the men, they came back for their wives.

The women were raped and their belongings destroyed. They were taken captive and forced to live at the Sepur Zarco military base, where they were enslaved as domestic servants for the soldiers and systematically raped. The women were forced to labor in 12 hour “shifts,” an abhorrent system that lasted several months.

Though the enslaved shifts ended at the end of 1983, 11 of the 15 women were forced under military threat to stay at Sepur Zarco doing domestic chores for the soldiers for six years until the base closed in 1988. The other four women managed to flee to the mountains with their children where they endured painful hardship for years, including suffering the deaths of most of their children.

All of the women, now in their 70s and 80s, bear enormous physical and emotional trauma from the experience. They also faced stigma in their communities for the violence they endured, and did not share what had happened to them for 30 years, finally coming forward in 2011 to seek justice.

The trial accuses two defendants, former Sepur Zarco chief Esteelmer Reyes Giron and former regional military commissioner Heriberto Valdez Asij, of committing crimes against humanity, including sexual violence and sexual slavery, domestic violence, murder, and forced disappearance. They have been held in remand since 2014 awaiting the trial.

2. The Sepur Zarco case is an internationally historic trial.

The trial of two former military officers for crimes against humanity marks the first time in history that sexual slavery charges are prosecuted at the national level, in the country where the crimes were committed.

The more internationally high-profile case of sexual slavery during armed conflict, the case of Japan’s “comfort women,” was rejected by a Japanese court. Former comfort women subjected to sexual slavery during World War II put Japan on trial in a mock war crimes tribunal in Tokyo in 2000, but the case never officially went to court in the country.

Guatemala’s Sepur Zarco trial could set a new precedent for prosecuting sexual violence in the context of armed conflict, which rights defenders say is one of the most widespread yet under-recognized violations of human rights.

3. It is also a historic trial for Guatemala.

The Sepur Zarco trial marks the first that that Guatemala will consider a sexual violence case as an international crime, which could set a precedent for future trials.

The crime of sexual slavery has been recognized internationally since the early 1900s, when the 1907 Hague Convention prohibited rape and the use of prisoners of war as slaves. The 1926 Slavery Convention elaborated anti-slavery laws with a definition that applies to sexual slavery. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which came into force in 2002, specifically criminalized sexual slavery.

A standing definition of sexual slavery was detailed in the 1998 U.N. Special Rapporteur’s final report on contemporary forms of slavery, “Systematic Rape, Sexual Slavery, and Slavery-Like Practices During Armed Conflict,” also known as the McDougall Report.

The report defined sexual slavery as “the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised, including sexual access through rape or other forms of sexual violence.” More simply put, the McDougall report explained: “Slavery, when combined with sexual violence, constitutes sexual slavery.”

The trial will consider the crimes committed as war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Rape was widespread during the civil war. The Sepur Zarco case has the potential to be a precedent-setting trial to break the cycle of impunity for sexual violence in Guatemala.

4. Rape was a concerted strategy in the civil war.

In 1999, three years after the peace accords were signed in Guatemala, the U.N.-backed Truth Commission investigating civil war atrocities found that rape was systematic and widespread during the conflict. According to the commission, “the rape of women, during torture or before being murdered, was a common practice aimed at destroying one of the most intimate and vulnerable aspects of the individual’s dignity.”

The Truth Commission also found that violence against women, include rape, torture, and murder, was often motivated by their political affiliations, social participation, and ideals, and often combined with other human rights abuses. The report attributed 93 percent of all recorded human rights violations to the state, 85 percent for which the army was responsible.

Despite the countless cases of sexual violence during the civil war, the Sepur Zarco case is the only one that has gone to trial in the country where impunity for war crimes has long remained the norm.

According to the Guatemalan organization Women Transforming the World, sexual violence continues to be inflicted on women by state security forces in conjunction with other human rights violations, such as forced displacement.

5. The victims in Sepur Zarco were targeted for defending their land.

Maya Q’eqchi’ communities in Guatemala have long suffered deep inequality, poverty, and precarious access to land. Before they were disappeared in 1982, the 15 husbands of the victims in the Sepur Zarco case were fighting for legal titles to defend the land they had lived and worked on for years. Because they were standing up for their land rights, they were despised by local large landowners, labeled as leftist insurgents, and made into targets to be silenced.

Land conflicts and unequal ownership are central to the history of Guatemala’s civil war. In 1954, a CIA-backed coup ousted the democratically elected president and reversed the fledgling agrarian reform program that aimed to expropriate idle lands from elite landowners and redistribute land to campesinos. The coup not only triggered more than three decades of civil war, but also helped to lock in one of the most unequal land distribution patterns in Latin America.

Rios Montt’s U.S.-backed bloodshed was nominally a campaign to crush leftist guerrilla uprisings in Guatemala, but in practice many poor Mayan campesinos were targeted as “insurgents” as the military protected the interests of elite landowners.

Photo credit – Reuters

February 1, 2016 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

U.S. “Aid” plan for Central America will Worsen Inequality, Exacerbate Flight

U.S. Alliance for Prosperity plan aims to stem Central American migration, but critics say the plan falls far short of addressing underlying causes

teleSUR | January 13, 2016

The United States’ plan to more than double its aid package to Central America in the name of increasing security and boosting development is likely to open up the region to U.S. corporate interests without tackling underlying problems of poverty and inequality, CISPES Executive Director Alexis Stoumbelis told teleSUR on Wednesday.

U.S. Congress approved over US$750 million at the end of December to roll out President Barack Obama’s strategy for Central America. The package supports the controversial Alliance for Prosperity, a plan touted as a strategy to stem the massive wave of undocumented migrants from the Northern Triangle of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, but slammed by critics for exacerbating key drivers of the crisis.

According to Stoumbelis, the new increased funding plan continues the same development model based on White House priorities of free trade and foreign direct investment that the U.S. has long promoted in the region.

“The U.S. has had an aggressive neoliberal agenda in Central America for the last 20 years, so this doesn’t really come as a surprise,” Stoumbelis told teleSUR by phone, citing the Central America Free Trade Agreement as an example of the U.S.-backed free trade model that has proven to worsen insecurity and inequality in Central American countries.

“The plan continues to push an agenda much more in line with neoliberal economics than programs proven to improve quality of life,” said Stoumbelis.

While the new aid package has been promoted as a bid to address longstanding issues of poverty, insecurity, and violence, the main pillars of the plan pave the way for increased foreign investment, natural resource extraction, privatization, and militarization while raising serious concerns about human rights and inequality, Stoumbelis added.

“The funding provides backing for governments that have proven time and time against putting human rights at the top of the agenda,” said Stoumbelis, adding that the plan ignores calls from many social movements and advocacy groups to cut security aid to the region instead of rewarding human rights-abusing administrations with more funding.

Although the U.S. funding for Central America includes conditions aimed at addressing human rights concerns raised by social movements and advocates, many remain skeptical that the measures will do enough to counteract dismal human rights records and rampant corruption, especially in Honduras and Guatemala.

“It was a victory to condition the aid … and to convince (U.S.) Congress that its support for human rights-abusing governments needs to be addressed,” said Stoumbelis. He went on to say that even if the aid is subject to human rights guarantees, it is ultimately up to the State Department to sign off on whether Central American countries fulfill the conditions.

Many expect that the new plan will uphold the State Department’s historically inadequate standard on human rights, which in the past has seen human rights approval issued despite evidence of systematic and chronic human rights abuses on the ground in Central America.

The US$750-million aid package will spike funding levels from US$120 million to US$300 million for development, from US$160 million to US$405 million for security, and from US$33 million to over US$66 million for the war on drugs. Funds will be administered by the State Department and by USAID, which have proven to support privatization and the interests of U.S. corporations in the region.

The security funding includes doubling the budget for the Central American Security Initiative, a regional plan that has dramatically increased militarization of security forces in the region and in turn raised concerns about increasing human rights abuses, impunity, and corruption without fulfilling its state’s objectives of tackling insecurity.

According to Stoumbelis, militarization in the name of the war on drugs has largely been a “war on the people,” as poor people are the most vulnerable in the face of insecurity and have largely been the victims of rising levels of violence under CARSI and the security initiative for Mexico, Plan Merida.

The plan is expected to pave the way for increased militarization in the name of “stabilization” and border security, which critics fear will result in increased human rights violations and exacerbate the problems underlying social and economic inequality.

Militarization also tends to result in criminalization of protest movements against neoliberal mega-projects that displace communities, rob indigenous peoples of land, destroy the environment, and undermine food security—a development strategy only set to ramp up under the new regional aid plan.

Despite the challenges, Stoumbelis predicts that such resistance movements will redouble their fight against the model the U.S. aid package proposes to push harder.

“There has been a tremendous challenge to the model,” said Stoumbelis, emphasizing the role of cross-border resistance in the region and the importance of international solidarity.

For Stoumbelis, in the face of increased U.S. aid, solidarity with Central American movements is now more than ever key to resisting the “U.S.-backed corporate onslaught in the region.”

January 14, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

States of hope and states of concern

By Bjorn Hilt | International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War | January 11, 2016

At the UN General assembly last fall there was an essential vote on the future of mankind. Resolution number A/RES/70/33 calling for the international society to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations had been submitted by Austria, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Ireland, Kenya, Lichtenstein, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela. For that, these countries deserve our deep respect and gratitude. The resolution reminds us that all the peoples of  the world have a vital interest in the success of nuclear disarmament negotiations, that all states have the right to participate in disarmament negotiations, and, at the same time, declares support for the UN Secretary – General’s five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament.

The resolution reiterates the universal objective that remains the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons, and emphasizes the importance of addressing issues related to nuclear weapons in a comprehensive, inclusive, interactive and constructive manner, for the advancement of multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. The resolution calls on the UN to establish an Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) of willing and responsible states to bring the negotiations on nuclear disarmament forward in this spirit.

When voted upon at the UNGA a month ago, on December 7, 2015, there was a huge majority of states (75 %) that supported the resolution, namely 138 of the 184 member states that were present. Most of them are from the global south, with majorities in Latin-America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific. After having shown such courage and wisdom, they all deserve to be named among the states of hope, states that want to sustain mankind on earth.

Only 12 states voted against the resolution. Guess who they are: China, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and the United States. What is wrong with them? Well, they are either nuclear-armed states or among the new NATO member states. They are the states of concern in today’s world. It is hypocritical that states that claim to be the protectors of freedom, democracy, and humanity constitute a small minority that refuse to enter into multilateral, inclusive, interactive and constructive negotiations to free the world from nuclear weapons. Among the three other nuclear-armed states, India and Pakistan had the civility to abstain, while the DPRK was the only one to vote “yes.”

Despite the reactionary, dangerous, and irresponsible position of the 12 states of concern and the tepid attitude of the abstainers, the OEWG was established by an overwhelming majority of the UNGA. The OEWG will convene in Geneva for 15 working days during the first half of 2016. The OEWG has no mandate to negotiate treaties to free the world of the inhuman nuclear weapons, but has clearly been asked to discuss and show how it can be achieved. Surely, the nations of hope that voted in favor of the OEWG will take part in the work. We can hope that at least some of the states of concern and some of the abstainers come to their senses and take part in this essential work for the future of mankind.

Participation in the OEWG is open for everyone and blockable by none. No matter what the states of concern do or don’t do, there is good reason to trust that the vast majority of nations of hope together with civil society from all over in the fall will present an outcome to the UNGA that will turn our common dream of a world free of nuclear weapons into a reality—perhaps sooner that we dare to believe.

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment