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Against Intervention in Venezuela: The Case of the Caribbean Community

By Maximilian Forte | Zero Anthropology | February 6, 2019

As discussed in the previous article, the membership of the Organization of American States is in fact not at all united around support for foreign intervention and recognition of an alternative second “president” (Juán Guaidó). Standing opposed to the denial of recognition of Maduro’s legitimacy as the elected leader are not just Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and for now Mexico and Uruguay, but also Caribbean states such as Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname. Trinidad and Tobago, St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Belize abstained from the OAS resolution—which, it turns out, does not mean the same as indifference. The action by the OAS implicitly threatened all governments in the region, which has already significantly damaged the organization’s integrity, as discussed below.

CARICOM Heads of Government

CARICOM

Caribbean states, including those that abstained from voting on the OAS resolution, stood firmly on anti-interventionist principles that respected Venezuela’s sovereignty. Leaders of the member states of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) held an emergency meeting to discuss Venezuela on January 24. The heads of government of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Foreign Ministers of Grenada and Suriname, participated in the meeting. Guyana, which has a long standing territorial dispute with Venezuela, nonetheless endorsed the CARICOM position the next day. The resulting statement “reaffirmed” the members’ “principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for human rights and democracy”. In addition, they insisted that the crisis should only be “resolved peacefully through meaningful dialogue and diplomacy”. Without naming the US and the Trump administration, CARICOM heads explicitly rejected foreign intervention in Venezuela’s affairs, and threats of violence against the country:

“Reaffirming their commitment to the tenets of Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter which calls for Members States to refrain from the threat or the use of force and Article 21 of the Charter of the Organization of American States which refers to territorial inviolability, the Heads of Government emphasized the importance of the Caribbean remaining a Zone of Peace”.

Taking aim again at US policy, CARICOM,

“called on external forces to refrain from doing anything to destabilize the situation and…called on all actors, internal and external, to avoid actions which would escalate an already explosive situation to the detriment of the people of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and which could have far-reaching negative consequences for the wider region”.

Trinidad & Tobago and CARICOM vs. the OAS

Within CARICOM, the case of Trinidad & Tobago deserves special mention. First, Trinidad, mere miles from Venezuela with which it has long historical and demographic ties, is now home to a growing number of Venezuelan refugees. Recent events have triggered fears of an even larger refugee crisis in the making. The media make it clear that many locals neither like nor trust the Venezuelans entering their country, and resent their presence. In addition, Venezuelans protesting in the capital, Port of Spain, against Maduro and demanding that the government of Prime Minister Keith Rowley recognize Guaidó instead, faced a mixed reaction at best. Aside from being denounced by Trinidadian commenters, the protesters drew a sharp rebuke from the leader of one of the parties in parliament, David Abdulah:

“Citizens of Venezuela can appeal to the Government of Venezuela and the parties in Venezuela but Venezuelans here in Trinidad and Tobago cannot determine what the foreign policy of Trinidad and Tobago ought to be. It is the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago ultimately and the governments of Caricom and the citizens of Caricom who must determine the foreign policy of Trinidad and Tobago and of Caricom”.

Abdulah also took exception with the protesters claim that Guaidó had popular support, while Maduro was isolated as a dictator. Abdulah said Maduro got significant support at the February 2nd  demonstration in Venezuela, which was much bigger than Guaidó’s rally:

“So it is not as if President Maduro is clinging on to power by himself and so on and the vast majority of the Venezuelans are against him. That is not the case”.

Moreover, Abdulah condemned the opposition:

Dr. Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago

“Very regrettably, but not surprising, Guaido has taken the consistent right-wing line of the opposition rejecting any talks, rejecting any mediation and simply wanting for [sic] resolve the thing by force backed, of course, by the United States and some other coun­tries”.

Squaring off against his domestic opposition, Prime Minister Keith Rowley took direct aim at the United National Congress in parliament, which is pro-US and pro-interventionist. Rowley openly called them “traitors” for trying to undermine CARICOM’s mission of mediation.

Luís Almagro, Secretary-General of the OAS

Prime Minister Rowley has also clashed with the leadership of the OAS, precisely on the question of Venezuela, well before this latest crisis erupted. Back in 2017, Rowley called for the dismissal of OAS secretary-general Luís Almagro. Prime Minister Rowley’s point, which was correct, is that the OAS was compromised by taking an interventionist stance towards Venezuela, and delegitimizing its duly elected leader. Rowley further accused the OAS leadership saying that the result was that, “the OAS has now removed itself from any meaningful participation and has deteriorated now into partisan attacks”.

The conflict between CARICOM, and Trinidad & Tobago in particular, and the head of the OAS was reignited with the latest crisis. CARICOM, and Trinidad’s Minister of National Security, expressed shock that Almagro would dare to speak for all OAS members in personally denouncing Maduro. In a January 31 letter to the OAS’ Almagro, CARICOM’s leadership instructed Almagro that the OAS does not speak for CARICOM members on this issue. The letter from CARICOM’s chairman, Prime Minister Timothy Harris of St Kitts and Nevis, stated:

“The Heads of Government consider it imperative that you publicly clarify that you did not speak on behalf of all the member states of the Organisation of American States….We are aware that this is not the only occasion on which you have made public utterances in the name of the organisation without authority”.

CARICOM described Almagro’s actions as a “clear departure of from normal practice and cause for great concern”. Almagro has gone as far as advocating a foreign military invasion of Venezuela. Journalists noted that, “the OAS website lists media and press releases for the month of January and there is nothing about the OAS’s support for Guaido”. Trinidad & Tobago joined a CARICOM team to meet in Uruguay on February 7, as part of a mediation effort led by Mexico and Uruguay. Calls for dialogue continue to be flatly rejected by Guaidó, echoing the same line taken by Trump and his team.

Meeting in Montevideo

The meeting of 15 Caribbean nations plus Mexico, Uruguay, and parties in Venezuela, taking place in Montevideo tomorrow, represents the formation of a bloc that can act as a significant counterweight to the so-called “Lima Group” of US dependents in Latin America and neocolonial states such as Canada. Unlike the Lima Group, no foreign media have been banned in advance— the Canadian government blocked Russian and Venezuelan media from covering the Lima Group meeting in Ottawa on February 4, an act of suppression of press freedoms that occasioned no outcry at all in Canada.

The largely right wing “Lima Group” that opposed Maduro itself consisted of a range of shady and extreme characters tarred by their involvement in corruption scandals and with ties to death squads, along with Canada with its liberal authoritarian tradition and its penchant for necolonial violence. Once again, none of the “decolonial” crowd, fashionable as they are in academia, has drawn any of the logical and historical connections between Canada’s internal colonialism and its external neocolonialism, which are united by the same principles and interests, even the very same parties and actors. This failure of intellect is not an accident either, but is a subject best explored at another time.

In the meantime, I strongly recommend that you listen carefully to the full interview of RT with Nicolás Maduro:

February 6, 2019 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Uruguayan Deputy Sheds Light on Decades-Long CIA Backed Espionage

Sputnik – October 27, 2017

A massive CIA-backed espionage network operated for decades in Uruguay, deputy Gerardo Nunez, chairman of the parliamentary commission investigating the plot has told Sputnik, unveiling the details of systematic leaks of classified information that took place in the Latin American country after the end of the dictatorship.

The disclosure of a three million-page archive shed light on the immense power the Armed Forces of Uruguay had exercised between 1985 and 2004: the documents revealed how members of a CIA-backed espionage network infiltrated political parties, trade unions, and social movements.

Following the release of the secret papers, the reform of the national intelligence system has become a centerpiece of the Uruguayan parliamentary session. Gerardo Nunez, chairman of the Investigating Commission on Military Espionage at the Chamber of Deputies of Uruguay, explained to Sputnik Mundo how the spies operated.

The collection of documents entitled “The CIA’s operation in Uruguay” suggests that besides direct payments, the intelligence agents were also granted with overseas trips, paid vacations for them and their families and real estate, according to Nunes.

For its part, the CIA gave at least 37 monetary bribes to officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay in exchange for secret information, the Uruguayan politician said. Despite the fact that the spy mechanisms used by Washington have been uncovered, it is still unclear what data was handed to the US.

The Commission, led by Nines, wrote a letter to the Uruguayan Interior Ministry asking to assess the possibility of summoning US Ambassador Kelly Keiderling for an explanation.The first pages of the archive were discovered in 2005, when The Broad Front, an Uruguayan center-left coalition of parties, came to power. Some of the documents were found in Defense Ministry facilities. It was called the “Berrutti Archive” after then Minister of Defense Azucena Berrutti. Other documents were discovered during a search at the house of Elmar Castiglioni, a colonel of the Army of Uruguay.

“There are a lot of documents but we still do not know where they originate from. We have learned about espionage methods exploited by the US, but we want to know the causes behind this systematic, well-planned and orchestrated work,” Nunes, the deputy of the Communist party, told Sputnik.

The agents and informants were mostly military men. They obtained data from public organizations, with some of the intelligence agents infiltrating the entities. According to Nunes, some of the spies not only handed over secret information but also tried to undermine the organizations from within, for example, by causing riots during demonstrations.The documents also mention illegal searches conducted by the secret agents disguised as plumbers, which allowed them to enter houses of party members and organizations under the pretext of fixing broken appliances.

“They made a sort of itinerary of everything that was in the house: paintings, books, flags. That [allowed] them to make an ideological profile of the family and figure out whether the members of the family were Marxists-Leninists or Broad Front participants [who worked underground in times of dictatorship in Uruguay],” the deputy explained.

Sometimes the agents conducted a technical inspection of buildings, which was done “for further intelligence operations,” he noted.

The Commission is expected to continue investigating the matter until December 2017, but given the enormous amount of documents, it may be extended for a longer period, according to the deputy.

“While we have obtained convincing arguments, we need to sort the things out to present clear evidence of violations of the Constitution, laws, rights, and freedoms of ordinary Uruguayans to the judiciary,” Nunes emphasized.

Commenting on the discovery of confiscated files on the bulky archive at the residence of Elmar Castiglioni, Samuel Blixen, a journalist who had been engaged in the investigation for the newspaper Brecha, told Sputnik in 2016 that the discovery revealed that “that the military intelligence strategy and policy has not changed with the transition from dictatorship to democracy [in Uruguay] in 1985.”The military dictatorship of Uruguay ruled the country for twelve years, from June 27, 1973, following the coup d’état, to February 28, 1985. In 1985 military and political leaders negotiated the return to a constitutional government.

October 28, 2017 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Uruguay Prepares Mission to Monitor Colombia-FARC Ceasefire

Sputnik – 23.06.2016

Military observers from Uruguay are ready to go to Colombia to monitor the newly-achieved ceasefire between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group, Uruguay’s Deputy Defense Ministry Jorge Menendez told Sputnik.

The government of Colombia announced on Wednesday that a deal had been reached on a ceasefire with FARC.

“This is a political mission, there is a display of quotas, unarmed personnel who will carry out tasks of observation and verification of the ceasefire,” Menendez said.

The Colombian government and FARC have been engaged in peace talks since November 2012 and have reached a number of important agreements including on landmine removal, land reform, transitional justice and an end to illegal drug trafficking.

FARC was formed in 1964 as the military wing of Colombia’s Communist Party.

June 23, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

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

Uruguay’s Withdrawal From TiSA Trade Deal in Country’s Interests

Sputnik – 15.10.2015

Uruguay’s most important services are transport and tourism, “and these are already liberalized,” therefore the country has “much to lose and little to gain” in the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) free trade deal, according to an Uruguayan senator.

Uruguay’s withdrawal from the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) free trade agreement talks was in the country’s interests, as the proposed deal is designed to serve mainly the United States and the large corporations, an Uruguayan senator told Sputnik.

TiSA is a proposed international trade deal between 24 parties, initiated by the United States and EU member states, to open up trade in services to a greater degree than allowed by the current General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Last month, Uruguay announced that it had pulled out of the multilateral negotiations. Paraguay followed suit shortly afterwards.

“It is not convenient to participate in these kinds of treaties as they mainly follow the line of interests of the United States and transnational [corporations],” Frente Amplio’s Marcos Otegui said, adding that the decision to abandon the talks was supported by a “large majority.”

According to the senator, Uruguay’s most important services are transport and tourism, “and these are already liberalized,” therefore the country has “much to lose and little to gain” in this deal.

Uruguay is betting on regional integration, but is open to the world, the senator stressed

“Today Uruguay deals with more than 160 countries… during much of the 20th century it only traded with 40 countries, therefore regional integration does not put a limit on trading with the world,” he said.

TiSA opponents argue that the controversial deal only seeks to tear down trade barriers to services Washington wants to sell abroad and paves the way for supranational labor laws, as well as finance and industrial policies that will undermine a national government’s ability to protect its citizens.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

The CIA Against Latin America, the Special Case of Ecuador

teleSUR | March 6, 2015

Imprisoned on various occasions and subjected to numerous interrogations, Dr. Jaime Galarza Zavala is one of the estimated 120 direct victims of the CIA’s record in Ecuador.

Persecuted by the CIA for his political organizing, Galarza described to teleSUR English that “they told me that I was working as a guerrilla in the Dominican Republic. I, to this day, have never visited the Dominican Republic. But they accused me of being a guerrilla leader in the Dominican Republic. And this was a common theme with various interrogations.”

He added that, “while they interrogated me, there was somebody that called every now and then from another room. Afterward, they told me that this person they were talking with was a gringo, a North American, who never presented himself to me. But he gave them instructions as to how to continue the interrogation,” said Galarza.

A fierce critic of U.S foreign policy in the region, Galarza recently published a book titled, “The CIA Against Latin America, the Special Case of Ecuador,” co-authored by Francisco Herrera Arauz.

In an interview with teleSUR English on CIA actions in Ecuador, Herrera said,“First, they destroyed our democracy. Second, they worked with undivided attention against our citizens. They persecuted our citizens for thinking differently. People were killed, injured, there are victims of this violence, there are families that were harmed, there are exiles, the honor of some people has been ruined, there are destroyed families, and all of this was caused by the CIA’s actions.”

Both authors have previously interviewed Philip Agee, the ex-CIA operations officer whose name became internationally known when he wrote the book “Inside the Company: CIA Diary” in 1975, detailing his time working in Ecuador, Uruguay, and Mexico from 1960 to 1968 and denouncing actions undertaken by the CIA during this period.

In his testimonies of that period, Agee said that when he operated in Ecuador from 1960 to 1963, the CIA oversaw: the overthrow of two presidents; the infiltration of various political parties and organizations; and the planting of bombs in front of churches and other emblematic sites to frame leftist groups; among other actions.

At an event celebrating the new book, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño said, “These secret policies continue in Latin America today. Nothing that Philip Agee denounced as CIA actions in the past have been discarded by the espionage seen in the present.”

To raise public awareness of the atrocities committed within Ecuador and the long-term damage caused by CIA interventions throughout Latin America, Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry has printed and widely distributed copies of the book in Spanish and English.

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Champion of the poor president: Uruguay’s Mujica steps down with 65% approval rating

RT | March 1, 2015

Uruguay’s president, Jose “Pepe” Mujica, a former guerrilla who lives on a farm and gives most of his salary to charity, is stepping down after five years in office, ending his term as one of the world’s most popular leaders ever.

Mujica, 79, is leaving office with a 65 percent approval rating. He is constitutionally prohibited from serving consecutive terms.

“I became president filled with idealism, but then reality hit,” Mujica said in an interview with a local newspaper earlier this week, according to AFP.

Some call him “the world’s poorest president.” Others the “president every other country would like to have.” But Mujica says “there’s still so much to do” and hopes that the next government, led by Tabare Vazquez (who was elected president for a second time last November) will be “better than mine and will have greater success.”

Mujica said he succeeded in putting Uruguay on the world map. He managed to turn the cattle-ranching country, home to 3,4 million people, into an energy-exporting nation, Brazil being Uruguay’s top export market (followed by China, Argentina, Venezuela and the US.)

Uruguay’s $55 billion economy has grown an average 5.7 percent annually since 2005, according to the World Bank. Uruguay has maintained its decreasing trend in public debt-to-GDP ratio – from 100 percent in 2003 to 60 percent by 2014. It has also managed to decrease the cost of its debt, and reduce dollarization – from 80 percent in 2002 to 50 percent in 2014.

“We’ve had positive years for equality. Ten years ago, about 39 percent of Uruguayans lived below the poverty line; we’ve brought that down to under 11 percent and we’ve reduced extreme poverty from 5 percent to only 0.5 percent,” Mujica told the Guardian in November.

After Latin America’s anti-drug war proved a failure, the South American country became the first in the world to fully legalize marijuana, with Mujica arguing that drug trafficking is in fact more dangerous than marijuana itself.

One of the most progressive leaders in Latin America. Muijica also legalized abortion and same-sex marriage and agreed to take in detainees once held at the notorious Guantanamo Bay. Six former US detainees, who were never charged with a crime, came to Uruguay in December as refugees. The six included four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian. Although they were cleared for release back in 2009, the US was not able to discharge them until Uruguayan President offered to receive them.

Mujica, a former leftist Tupamaro guerrilla leader, spent 13 years in jail during the years of Uruguay’s military dictatorship. He survived torture and endless months of solitary confinement. Majica said he never regretted his time in jail, which he believes helped shape his character.

Mujica’s kindness speaks volumes: He refused to move to Uruguay’s luxurious presidential mansion to live in a farm outside Montevideo with his wife and a three-legged dog named Manuela. Pepe gives away about 90 percent of his salary to charity, saying he simply doesn’t need it. He drives an 1987 Volkswagen Beetle.

Last year, Mujica turned down a $1 million offer from an Arab sheik who offered to buy his blue car. Pepe refused to sell the vehicle, saying it would offend “all those friends who pooled together to buy it for us.”

In January, a young Uruguayan man posted a message on his Facebook page recounting how Mujica and his wife picked him up while he was hitchhiking.

“On Monday, I was looking for a ride from Conchilla and guess who picked me up on the road?” Gerhald Acosta wrote on his Facebook post January 7. “They were the only ones who would stop!”

“When I got out, I thanked them profusely because not everyone helps someone out on the road, and much less a president,” the man told Uruguay’s El Observador newspaper.

March 1, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

US regime releases six Guantanamo detainees to Uruguay

Reprieve | December 7, 2014

Six cleared Guantanamo prisoners – including Reprieve client Abu Wa’el Dhiab – have today been released to Uruguay.

Mr Dhiab, a 43-year-old Syrian who was cleared by the US Government in 2009, had been on a peaceful hunger strike since early 2013 to protest his detention without charge. As a result, he had been repeatedly subjected to force-feeding, which continued into at least November this year, according to the Department of Defense.

Mr Dhiab had also been engaged in litigation – supported by his lawyers at international legal NGO Reprieve – challenging abusive force-feeding practices at Guantanamo. The case resulted in an order by a federal judge that video tapes showing his force-feeding must be released. The Obama Administration appealed the order last week, and the case remains ongoing.

The US military’s force-feeding techniques, in which a six-member riot squad tackle a detainee and strap them into a multi-point restraint chair, have been condemned by the UN and national and international medical organizations. So far, only Mr Dhiab’s security-cleared lawyers at Reprieve and the court have been allowed to see the tapes showing his force-feeding and a process known as ‘Forcible Cell Extraction’ (FCE). However, 16 major US media organisations – including ABC, AP, CBS, McClatchy, The New York Times, Reuters and the Washington Post – have intervened in the case demanding that the tapes be released in the public interest.

Mr Dhiab, whose wife and three children are Syrian refugees from the ongoing armed conflict, has previously said he would gratefully accept any country’s offer of hospitality. He has also said Americans should be permitted to see the videos of his force-feeding, stating: “I want Americans to see what is going on at the prison today, so they will understand why we are hunger-striking, and why the prison should be closed. If the American people stand for freedom, they should watch these tapes. If they truly believe in human rights, they need to see these tapes.”

Cori Crider, a Director at Reprieve and a lawyer for Mr Dhiab, said: “We are grateful to the government of Uruguay – and President Mujica in particular – for this historic stand. Very few people can truly comprehend what the cleared men in Guantánamo suffer every day, but I believe Mr. Mujica is one of them. Like President Mujica, Mr Dhiab spent over a dozen years as a political prisoner. Mr Dhiab was never charged, never tried. President Mujica spent two years at the bottom of a well; for most of the past two years, Mr Dhiab has had a team of US soldiers truss him up like an animal, haul him to a restraint chair, and force-feed him through a tube in his nose. The President’s compassion has ended that torture.

“Despite years of suffering, Mr Dhiab is focused on building a positive future for himself in Uruguay. He looks forward to being reunited with his family and beginning his life again. Let’s not forget that Mr Dhiab and the others freed today leave behind many men just like them: cleared prisoners warehoused in Guantánamo for years.”

Full details of Reprieve’s force-feeding litigation can be found at the Reprieve US website.

December 7, 2014 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Interview with Uruguay’s Carlos Alejandro: Uruguay Elections

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teleSUR | November 28, 2014

UPDATE: Vazquez wins Uruguayan presidential election

teleSUR talks to the Broad Front’s Carlos Alejandro, to understand in more depth the elections and their consequences.

teleSur: Carlos, what have been the standout points of the Broad Front’s campaign?

Carlos Alejandro: There is no political debate in the second round of elections. Really, the right wing has been knocked back, they experienced a serious setback in the first round. They really thought that polls would be right, and that the Broad Front wouldn’t get more than 45 percent of the votes.

The main point of this campaign is to uphold the Broad Front government’s achievements in all areas, especially those related to freedom and equality.

Over the past 10 years, we’ve approved a series of laws, like establishing the 7-hour work day for rural workers; a domestic worker law limiting the number hours they are allowed to work.; the same sex marriage act, a sexual and reproductive health law, which includes legislation on abortion. We want to clarify that it is not an abortion law, because that is one of the themes being debated.

Also being debated is the widening of political engagement among the population; a freedom of information law; the barriers to education; the role of women in politics; all of these are central to the election debate, coming above even economic matters. It’s a rare thing when the economy gets overshadowed in an election … it’s the only political debate they are having in Brazil.

Here in Uruguay what we’re debating is how to better ourselves, how to create better conditions, which is a debate we don’t want to have with the right wing, because they’ve shown us for the past 150 years that they cannot take care of those problems, problems we are resolving, and laying the ground work to have that debate with the people who will truly benefit from these policies.

TS: You have said that if Vazquez is re-elected, he would carry on with the Broad Front’s policies. However, there are many controversial policies that Jose Mujica implemented, like abortion, and the marijuana law, which Vazquez is known to oppose. What will happen if he is elected with regard to these topics?

CA: Tabare was against these projects. He didn’t support them, and furthermore, during his last administration, he vetoed the same law that was later approved under Mujica. But as they are both from the Broad Front, which passed the law, it’s not up for discussion. Nothing will change from the way it was approved during Mujica’s government. There is no political sign that suggests that Tabare will erase what Mujica did.

Regarding the marijuana law in particular, it is very clear within the party, that it is a law still being studied and analyzed, that can and will be corrected if necessary; it is new not only for Uruguay, but in the whole world; we know there are other places who have had similar experiences, like in some of the states in the U.S., but in our case, we want to resolve the drug problem, take the market for marijuana away from organized crime, and create conditions to rehabilitate not only marijuana users, but hard drugs too.

In this sense, our aim is to deepen the changes we have already made, improve what has been done, and improve what has been done badly.

TS: How is Vazquez viewed in Uruguay?

CA: Tabare is a man of the people, what we call “de a pie,” down to earth. He comes from a similar humble background as many other Uruguayans.. The Right cannot forgive him for paving the way —via his education and intellect— for the Left to get into power.

Tabare is a man of the Left, even though the political pragmatism he uses makes him seem more centrist, and not as left-wing as many would like; but he has a great feel for politics, and what both he and Mujica can do effectively is scope out what the people want, but in different ways.

Tabare ended his term with approximately 68 percent of approval, which shows that, beyond the problems that existed during that administration, Tabare ultimately received approval for what he did during his term. And I believe that the result of the October 26 elections shows that the Uruguayan people support his candidacy again.

TS: And how is right wing perceived the Uruguayan people?

CA: I think that the clearest example is that the Right didn’t have a clue how to face the second round of the elections. I’ll reiterate what I said before, they relied too heavily on the polls; they thought they were doing well, so did not work to create the conditions in case the scenario changed.

TS: Do you think that the Brazilian election result might influence the results in Uruguay?

CA: Not for this runoff, but yes, I do believe that the political change in the last days in the Brazil elections, with Marina Silva leading in the polls for so many months, and the possibility that the PT could lose the elections, caused some to be nervous, and a little bit worried. Not only us left-wing activists, but among people who would not necessarily identify themselves as left-wing.

TS: What challenges would a new Broad Front government face?

CA: I have said for many years that the most important thing is to not let down the electorate which voted for us and gave us the opportunity to govern. We have developed all of our policies that aim to improve the quality of people’s lives based on this basis; where we can keep generating societal change and evolution, and most importantly, within a region which is our neighborhood. Latin America is our neighborhood from which we relate to the rest of the world. In this sense, our internal policies have an external objective; to project the country within the region, prioritizing regional integration.

TS: So a Tabare Vazquez government would strengthen regional integration?

CA: Yes, definitely. We’re trying to create the conditions to solidify existing regional integration effortslike MERCOSUR, UNASUR, CELAC, ALBA … those projects are here to stay, and we want to make them robust.

We have shown we are a serious political party, dealing with, for example, the case of the Syrian refugees, and the problem of the Guantanamo prisoners. Doing so doesn’t mean we’re trying to cover-up for, or save Obama’s administration, but instead we are trying to resolve the situation for the prisoners, and help Guantanamo to go back to being part of Cuba.

TS: The case of the Syrian refugees is very interesting…

CA: Let me tell you an anecdote. The union for bank workers has a place for the children of its members to live in Montevideo if they go there to study. When President Mujica announced that Syrian families — who were refugees in Lebanese camps — would come to Uruguay, the young people living in the union’s accommodation talked to the leadership, and offered to share their bedrooms with the Lebanese translators who are there to help the Syrians with their Spanish, and adapting to life in Uruguay. For us, that gesture is not only seen as a humanitarian act, but it means that our youth is getting involved in a political issue that does not directly affect them, far away from our borders. That is very important to us, that they get involved, and understand what is it about.

This also shows the possibility and the capability that we have to resolve these issues. To welcome these Syrian families in Uruguay, so they can work here, have a life here. And it is the same with Guantanamo, a topic that Pepe [Mujica] said was not suspended, but on hold until November 30; and that after the elections, regardless who is the new president, he would continue to advocate for, and engage in, negotiations, so those six prisoners without a sentence can come to Uruguay and be free here. This is a very important political gesture by the Broad Front that needs to be highlighted, and it will reverberate with future governments.

Carlos Alejandro is the Broad Front’s director of international relations, as well as member of the Broad Front Commitment group. A member of the Broad Front since 1983, he has a background of union activism.

November 30, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , | Leave a comment

A Step Toward Justice in the Long “War on Terror”: Uruguay Offers to Welcome Guantanamo Detainees

By Benjamin Dangl | Toward Freedom | March 21, 2014

0-1-0-Mujica.2Under the Presidency of José “Pepe” Mujica, Uruguay has made a number of international headlines in recent years for progressive moves such as legalizing same sex marriage, abortion and marijuana cultivation and trade, as well as withdrawing its troops from Haiti. This week, Mujica offered to welcome detainees from the US’s detention center at its base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The Uruguayan president accepted a proposal from the Obama administration to host the detainees. “They are coming as refugees and there will be a place for them in Uruguay if they want to bring their families,” Mujica explained. “If they want to make their nests and work in Uruguay, they can remain in the country.”

“I was imprisoned for many years and I know how it is,” he said. The left-leaning president is a former revolutionary guerilla who was jailed for 14 years before and during Uruguay’s 1973-1985 dictatorship. After his release, he ended his guerilla activities and entered politics, becoming the Minister of Agriculture in 2005 under the Tabaré Vázquez administration, and was elected to the presidency in 2010.

Mujica, who has been touted as the “world’s poorest president” due to his frugal lifestyle and the fact that he donates about 90% of his presidential salary to charities and social programs, still lives on a flower farm with his wife outside the capital, and drives a beat up Volkswagen Beetle to work. Earlier this year, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his progressive marijuana legalization program and views against excessive consumerism. His newest move against the human rights abuses of the “war on terror” has put him back in the global spotlight.

Standing Against a Symbol of the “War on Terror”

The detention center at the US base in Guantánamo Bay has long been a symbol of the human rights abuses that have come to define the so-called “war on terror.” After 9/11, the George W. Bush administration began using the facility to detain suspected terrorists. It quickly became notorious as a site of inhumane treatment, torture, and lawlessness; a decade later, many of the detainees have been held without charges or a trial.

Roughly 800 men and boys have been kept in Guantánamo as part of the US’s terror suspect roundup. Now only 154 remain, and the Obama administration, with support from Congress, is trying to make good on its promise to shut the detention center down. As part of those moves, Washington is seeking new countries to host the released detainees.

Uruguay is the first Latin American nation to accept Obama’s offer to welcome former prisoners onto its soil. Since Obama’s election, 38 Guantánamo detainees have been released to their home countries, and 43 have been resettled in 17 other countries. According to Human Rights Watch, the US wants to send detainees to countries that can provide the security the US seeks under the terms of the transfer. Uruguayan press reports that the transfer would likely involve five detainees who would have to stay within Uruguay for at least two years.

While Mujica and the US Ambassador are clear that the plans surrounding the transfer are not finalized, Mujica’s reasons for hosting the men are a sign that Uruguay is taking important steps toward justice against Washington’s long-standing “war on terror.”

For years, countless activists, governments and human rights groups have called for the closure of the US detention center in Guantánamo Bay. Last July, activist Andrés Conteris, who has worked for decades on human rights issues in Latin America,went on a hunger strike for over three months in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners in Guantánamo Bay.

The strike denounced the inhumane and unlawful treatment of the detainees; numerous cases of physical, psychological, religious and medical torture against prisoners have been widely reported over the years. It is this treatment that President Mujica is standing against in his welcoming of the detainees.

“Given Pepe Mujica’s experience with long-term torture,” Conteris explained to me, referencing Mujica’s own imprisonment, “this gesture offering to resettle Guantánamo prisoners in Uruguay not only expresses his country’s commitment to human rights, but it shows a personal connection this president has with those suffering inhuman treatment perpetrated by military forces.”

***

Benjamin Dangl has worked as a journalist throughout Latin America, covering social movements and politics in the region for over a decade. He is the author of the books Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America, and The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia. Dangl is currently a doctoral candidate in Latin American History at McGill University, and edits UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America, and TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events. Email: BenDangl(at)gmail(dot)com.

March 22, 2014 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Stop lying’: Uruguay president chides UN official over marijuana law

RT | December 14, 2013

Uruguay’s president has accused the head of the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) of lying and double standards, after the official claimed the country did not consult the anti-drug body before legalizing marijuana.

Earlier this week, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize both the sale and production of marijuana.

INCB chief Raymond Yans has slammed the “surprising” move, accusing the South American state of legalizing the drug without first discussing it with the UN organization.

Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, rejected the criticism on Friday, saying that he’s ready to discuss the law with anyone.

“Tell that old man to stop lying,” Mujica said in an interview with Uruguay’s Canal 4.

“Let him come to Uruguay and meet me whenever he wishes… Anybody can meet and talk to me, and whoever says he couldn’t meet with me tells lies, blatant lies.”

“Because he sits in a comfortable international platform, he believes he can say whatever nonsense,” he added.

Yans has accused Uruguay of “pirate attitudes” for knowingly violating the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which the South American country is part of.

But Mujica reminded that Yans did not say a word about the US states of Colorado and Washington, which also legalized marijuana.

“Does he have different rules: one for Uruguay and other for the world’s strong countries?” he asked.

First lady Lucia Topolansky, a member of the Uruguayan Senate, has fully backed her husband on the issue.

“Who is this fellow who likes to call names to countries?” she said of Yans. “I think he’s crossed the line, but anyhow I believe that he has had problems with other countries, Sweden, Denmark, Holland and they will be meeting him sometime in March.”

“But to be honest, marijuana is not the heart of life or earthly issues,” Topolansky added.

The law, which allows for a government-controlled marijuana market, was passed by the Uruguayan Senate on Monday.

According to the legislation, those wishing to smoke cannabis recreationally need to register with the authorities and limit their consumption to 40 grams per month.

President Mujica and his supporters argue that regulating marijuana consumption and production will remove profits from criminals and allow less money to be spent on soldiers and police, who are ultimately unable to prevent Uruguayan citizens from using the drug.

December 15, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

South America: UNASUR To Build Fibre-Optic ‘Mega Ring’

By Chelsea Gray | The Argentina Independent | August 21, 2013

unasurThe Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) has approved plans for an optic fibre mega-ring which will break its members’ “dependence on the US, and provide a safer and cheaper means of communication.”

The fibre optic ring will become part of a ten-year plan to physically integrate all 12 UNASUR member states. The line, which will reach up to 10,000 kilometres long and will be managed by state enterprises from each country it crosses, is expected to interconnect South America through higher coverage and cheaper internet connections.

Industrial Minister of Uruguay, Roberto Kreimerman, explained that “it is about having a connection with great capacity that allows us to unite our countries together with the developed world.”

He continued to say, “We are considering that, at most, in a couple of years we will have one of these rings finalised.” He also added that ”I think the economy, security, and integration are the three important things we need in countries where Internet use is advancing exponentially.”

At the moment, up to 80% of Latin America’s communications go through the US. However, plans for an independent communication line comes shortly after the US was discovered to have been spying on Latin American data. The National Security Agency (NSA) were revealed to have been monitoring emails and intercepting telephone logs, spying on energy, military, politics, and terror activity across the continent.

UNASUR is made up of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

August 21, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment