Category: Latin America
US Imperialism’s failed tactics

  – from Zoltan Zigedy is available at:

US imperialism and its allies learned a hard lesson from their unsuccessful adventure in Vietnam. Escalating US troop involvement to nearly half a million serving at the war’s peak, drawing on forced enlistment (conscription) to rotate nearly three million personnel serving throughout the war, and incurring over 200,000 casualties proved to be a politically destabilizing, consensus-challenging endeavor.

Military planners recognized that unless they were able to generate a broad consensus for war or guarantee a short, decisive duration, the draft risked a politically volatile backlash. Consequently, they opted for developing a volunteer army and a war-friendly culture to legitimize its use.
But they drew an even more important conclusion. Where imperialism fought a foe defending its homeland, the costs were usually far too great for the US public to tolerate. Certainly US engagement in the world-wide, anti-fascist war of 1939-1945 enjoyed unwavering popular support. But US forces never fought on Japanese soil and only briefly in a crippled Germany.
When engaged in supporting a rump regime in Korea, the US military achieved, at best, a stalemate. The same boots-on-the-ground approach in Vietnam collapsed before a people deeply resentful of US occupiers.
After Vietnam, imperialist war planners devised a tactic of relying more and more upon surrogates. Understanding that local populations furiously opposed foreign occupiers, the US sought to impose its objectives by creating and supporting mercenary forces who could claim, at least tenuously, to local status. From supporting UNITA or FNLA in Angola to creating, arming, and aiding the Contra movement in Nicaragua, the US preferred waging aggression with surrogate forces. An effective, massive propaganda effort “legitimized” the client armies as “freedom fighters.”
Probably the most successful use of the post-Vietnam tactic was in Afghanistan, where US covert services armed a reactionary tribal opposition to destabilize a secular, modern government and, as a result, gave a decisive, strong impetus to an emergent Islamic fundamentalist war against secularism of all kinds. The jihadist movement found its legs, its confidence as surrogates against an urban-based Afghanistan government supported by the Soviet Union, then a bulwark against US imperialism.
After the demise of the Soviet state, the US cautiously employed its “professionalized” and volunteer military in Iraq, Afghanistan, and once more in Iraq. Still, military planners hoped to quickly train a surrogate force and just as quickly evacuate US ground forces, leaving client states with militaries sufficiently armed and motivated to crush any domestic resistance to a US-friendly regime.
While the tactic held the promise of minimizing domestic resistance by using a compliant media to construct the false narrative of democratic change and humanitarian intervention and while the tactic hoped to generate tolerable US casualties and minimal material costs, resistance movements once again proved to be far more determined, and stability far more elusive, than the best minds of the military or covert services imagined.
Fourteen years in Afghanistan and twelve years of propping up a client state in Iraq, manufacturing a failed state in Libya, and sparking a devastating civil war in Syria are testament to a failed policy.
More importantly, the failure is part of a continuous, irreversible decline in US imperialism’s ability to impose its will in a world of stiffening anti-imperialist resistance and growing inter-imperialist rivalries.
Nothing underlines this new reality more than the latest events in Afghanistan and Syria.
Despite a massive concentration of weaponry, superior pay, and the best US training, the Afghan surrogate army suffered its worst defeat ever at the hands of the Taliban in the siege and occupation of Kunduz. All reports indicate that the Taliban forces were inferior in numbers and weapons and that the US-trained government forces had little stomach for the fight.
US officials have been obliged to announce a delay in the exit of troops from Afghanistan in the face of this defeat. President Obama has decided to pass on the Afghanistan quagmire to the next President, just as President Bush passed it on to him.
Russian engagement in Syria has inadvertently exposed the lies and failures of US actions in that country. Since the Obama administration began encouraging and assisting the overthrow of Syrian President Assad, the government and the lapdog media have claimed the existence of a democratic, moderate opposition. From late in 2011, US and UK military leaders began planning armed action against Assad. A surrogate army (the Free Syrian Army) was projected as an alternative to the fundamentalist jihadists seeking a feudal-theological state (Qatar and other Gulf states intervened, pretending no such distinctions). Weapons were diverted from Libya and CIA training began in earnest with a projected military force numbering in the tens of thousands.
After the ISIS threat emerged, the US and the other interventionists further pretended that its client fighting forces were equally engaged against ISIS and the many other groups fighting Assad who were designated “terrorist” by the West.
In reality, the US “freedom fighters” were virtually non-existent or collaborating enthusiastically with the jihadists. Their sole target was Assad.
The Obama government has conceded that of thousands vetted by the CIA program only a few hundred remain on the war front. Most have shared their weapons with or joined the jihadists or left Syria with the thousands of immigrants. The half-billion-dollar program is a disaster, with the US administration pledging to pass the remaining weapons and resources on to existing fighting groups in Syria.
The spectrum of the Western media reports that, especially since the Russian intervention, there is extensive cooperation, coordination, and joint action between all elements of the Syrian anti-Assad forces—so much for the ruse of an independent force in opposition to fundamentalism.
As the Wall Street Journal reports: “…the Homs Legion of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army… together with the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham and Nusra Front [Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate] has formed joint command in Northern Homs.” The Washington Post has identified a similar unholy alliance of jihadist and “moderates” that was crafted into a Nusra-led Army of Conquest. Only the most gullible continue to believe that there is a significant difference between Western-backed “freedom fighters” and their jihadist allies.
Western liberals can make believe that US involvement in Syria is for some greater good, but the facts speak clearly. As with Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, tens of thousands are dead, infrastructure is devastated, and the social fabric is irreparably torn simply because imperialist powers seek more compliant, more subservient states. The facts expose the lie that the US and NATO seek the values of democracy, freedom, or the other values that prove so persuasive to those apologizing for self-interested regime change.
Anti-imperialists can draw a small consolation from these tragic, morally repellent aggressions: the US tactics have failed to achieve their goal of creating global fealty to US interests.
Zoltan Zigedy


Border patrol’s alleged abuses go unpunished, ACLU-acquired complaints show
© Mike Blake
Border Patrol agents screening motorists on checkpoints near the Mexican border are being accused of abuses, but the majority of complaints lead to no consequences – and many never get reported by the agency, records obtained by the ACLU show.

The American Civil Rights Union (ACLU) received nearly 6,000 pages of documents from the Department of Homeland Security – the supervising body of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – in recent months, The New York Times reported. They were released after the ACLU of Arizona successfully sued the department for access. Among the documents are 142 complaints, arrest statistics, and other records which collectively portray the CBP as an abusive agency with great authority and little restrictions.

Only one of the complaints seems to have resulted in any sort of disciplinary action. That complaint was filed by the son of a retired Border Patrol agent, who said his car was unjustifiably stopped. The agent responsible received a one day suspension.

The ACLU says the records also confirm that CBP underreports the number of complaints filed against it. A report to Congress for the 2012 fiscal year listed three complaints involving alleged violations of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure. The ACLU documents include 81 such accusations filed during the same period, against just two of the 20 regional divisions which the agency operates on both the southern and northern borders.

Another issue under scrutiny is use-of-force incidents by Border Patrol. Since 2010, 33 people have died in encounters with CBP agents. So far, only one such incident has resulted in federal charges. Agent Lonnie Swartz pleaded not guilty last week in the cross-border killing of 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodríguez.

“CBP’s own records paint a disturbing picture of lawlessness and impunity, in which the agency continually operates without any regard for accepted best practices, and agents commit widespread abuses knowing they won’t be held accountable,” said ACLU lawyer James Lyall.

The accusation comes as the CBP’s new chief, Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, is struggling to reform the agency after taking the position in March 2014. He announced the latest policy updates this month, calling for proper safekeeping of the personal items of apprehended migrants, adequate standards of hygiene and temperature in holding cells, and specific language on gender identity.

Civil rights groups and elected officials believe there is a lot more than needs to be done.

“Citizens, permanent legal residents, people who have lived in the borderlands for generations – that’s who’s making these complaints,” Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.).

“People make the complaints, but their complaints go nowhere. There’s no acknowledgment, absolutely no response,” he said.

The CBP’s highway checkpoints and roving patrols in Arizona and California are meant to stop drugs and illegal persons from going north. Agents rely on sniffer dogs to inspect the thousands of cars passing through. The agency does not keep track on the number of searches it conducts, only on those that result in arrests.

NYT: Experts reject official account of how 43 Mexican students were killed
NYT: Experts Reject Official Account of How 43 Mexican Students Were Killed
In print on September 7, 2015
MEXICO CITY — An international committee of experts reviewing the case of 43 missing college students whose disappearance last fall traumatized Mexico said Sunday that there was no evidence to support the government’s conclusion that the students were executed by a drug gang that then burned the bodies to ashes in a garbage dump.
Not only did physical evidence contradict the government’s version of what happened to the students, but the review showed that federal police and soldiers knew that the students were being attacked by the municipal police and failed to intervene.
The report’s conclusions were a sharp rebuke to the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto, which had sought to put the case to rest. Its release could rekindle the widespread anger and incredulity that flared in the weeks after the students vanished from Iguala in the southern state of Guerrero last Sept. 26.
That episode helped shatter the image that the president had worked hard to establish — as a modern young reformer poised to turbocharge Mexico’s economy, and it thrust the nation’s chronic afflictions of organized crime and corruption back into the public consciousness.
“We ask the Mexican authorities to clarify the disappearance of the students and to make a general reassessment of the entire investigation,” said Carlos Beristain, one of the five members of the panel appointed by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, part of the Organization of American States.
“The brutal actions shows the extent of impunity in which the state security forces acted along with organized crime,” added Mr. Beristain, a Spaniard who has worked on many human rights investigations in Latin America that involved disappearances.
After the report’s release, Mr. Peña Nieto said on Twitter that he had ordered investigators to take into account the experts’ recommendations.
Mexico’s attorney general, Arely Gómez, called the committee’s work “crucial” and added that prosecutors would carefully analyze the findings and ponder whether to incorporate them into the inquiry.
She said that the report’s recommendation for a second forensic investigation at the dump site would be carried out with a new team of “high-quality and prestigious experts.”
According to the government’s account, about 100 students who attended a teachers college in the town of Ayotzinapa went to Iguala to steal buses for transportation to a demonstration.
The authorities say that Iguala’s mayor, José Luis Abarca, ordered his police force to subdue the students. Three students were killed by the police. Forty-three others were taken off the buses and turned over to a drug gang, Guerreros Unidos, that was allied with the mayor, according to the official account.
Six weeks after the disappearance, the Mexican authorities said that the students had been taken to a garbage dump in the neighboring town of Cocula, killed, and cremated in a giant pyre of wood and tires doused with gasoline.
Yet the clearest sign that the government’s version was not true came from the dump itself, according to the report.
“The students simply were not burned in that place,” said Francisco Cox, a Chilean lawyer and another member of the panel. The intense heat needed to burn 43 bodies would have blackened the surrounding vegetation, and, José Torero, a leading fire expert engaged by the panel, agreed that there was no evidence to support the government’s scenario.
The report concluded with a strong recommendation that the Mexican authorities reconsider the entire case based on the investigation’s “clear shortcomings” and “serious inconsistencies.”
That investigation, the report charged, took a haphazard and improvised approach, and much of the case that resulted was based on testimony from police officers and gang members, who later claimed that they had been tortured.
The report did not establish where the students went or even whether they were killed. Only one body has been identified, from a bone that the authorities said was found near the dump. The other 42 should still be considered “disappeared,” the report’s authors said.
Many other questions remain unanswered. Recordings from C4, the communications system that coordinates information for local, state and federal police, as well as the army, were not available to explain critical lapses as events unfolded on Sept. 26 and in the early hours of Sept. 27. Videos from security cameras were lost, and in one case erased. Clothing left behind by the victims was not tested until last month. The dump and other potential crime scenes were left unguarded for days.
Human rights activists who have been following the case offered searing assessments.
“This report provides an utterly damning indictment of Mexico’s handling of the worst human rights atrocity in recent memory,” said José Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director of Human Rights Watch. “Even with the world watching and with substantial resources at hand, the authorities proved unable or unwilling to conduct a serious investigation.”
Santiago Canton, the executive director of RFK Partners for Human Rights at Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, said in an interview that “lives could have been saved and this could have been prevented.”
The report also suggested a possible motive — something that the government had not been able to establish with any specificity.
The region around Iguala is a key source of heroin for the American Midwest, and evidence in a Chicago drug case showed that traffickers use long-distance buses similar to the ones taken that night to smuggle the drug.
One of the five buses that the students took was not examined until months later.
The panel rejected possible motives suggested by the authorities, including that some of the students belonged to a rival narcotics outfit.
At a news conference on Sunday evening, María de Jesús Tlatempa, the mother of one of the missing students, said, “We are the victims of our own government because they lied to us.”
During the news conference, a chant rose repeatedly: “Alive they took them, alive we want them back.”
The Triumph of Fidel Castro and the Success of the Cuban Revolution
| September 7, 2015 | 6:12 pm | Cuba, Fidel Castro, Latin America, political struggle | No comments

Jeremy Diemert 9/6/15

The Triumph of Fidel Castro and The Success of The Cuban Revolution

Viewed through the lens of the modern U.S. epoch, the Cuban Revolution is seen as an utter failure. It is seen as a bloodthirsty, authoritarian campaign whose aim was to reshape America’s playground into a poverty-ridden, anti-democratic dictatorship that aligned itself with America’s perceived enemies, and meant to harm the American people. The fascist regime in Washington would have the average citizen believe that Cuba under Fulgencio Batista’s autocratic leadership provided the nation with an egalitarian utopia of opportunity and healthy economic competition. Very few things could be further from the truth, as Batista’s reign as dictator of Cuba marked an epoch of inequality, dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, anti-egalitarian government movements, and fascist control over the workers of the nation. The Cuban Revolution was not some type of tyrannical movement to make the citizenry of Cuba a subservient state of conformist sheep, it, in fact, was quite the opposite: a liberation movement that sought to destroy inequality, crush American imperialism, and smash fascism. The Cuban Revolution changed the world, for the better or worse is for you to decide, but its impact on international history is undeniable and the social change it inspired has been more impactful than nearly every other movement of the 20th century.

New Year’s Day 1959, the news that Fulgencio Batista had fled from the country echoed across the nation of Cuba, and the victory of the rebel forces, led by Fidel Castro, was inevitable. The international community was immediately divided by this news: American imperialists, fascists, and the bourgeoisie trembled with fear at the thought that their motherland’s overreaching influence was decreasing on a massive scale, while the influence of socialism was increasing on an international level. Immediately after the old regime, one marked by corruption, criminal association, and worker’s suppression, was overthrown. A new Marxist-Leninist government was installed and new policies that favored the people’s rights and direct, as well as representative, democracy became prevalent throughout the nation. Castro, being a Marxist, nationalized the country’s agriculture and returned the farmlands to the peasants that worked them, thereby, taking power and influence away from the capitalist landlords. The newly installed Cuban government also managed to nationalize healthcare, as well as education, deeming them both a natural human right, and providing them to all citizens.

The aforementioned policies all seem to be positive things, at least to any person capable of rational thought. However, the American imperialist machine (both the government and the national media) has demonized Castro and the country’s revolutionary leaders. Not to say that the Cuban government is perfect, it is, in fact, very flawed, however, these (over exaggerated) flaws are all that seem to be pointed out by the U.S. reactionary media. The main reason for this being the fact that Batista was a US backed puppet, a dictator that acted as a financial aid to the United States government. America’s loss of money after Batista’s outing royally pissed the cash-hungry government off, sending them on a bloodthirsty path to avenge their lost dollars. The Bay of Pigs invasion, the U.S. embargo on Cuba, and the hundreds of attempted assassination attempts on Castro’s life prove, not that Castro is evil, but, instead, that he stood up to international imperialism and an evil North American empire that lies right on his country’s shores. This very well may be the greatest act of courage presented by a government in the 20th century, and, in my humble opinion, this act of bravery and international solidarity should not be forgotten and lost among false perceptions of history.

One (gotcha!) question I often get asked while defending Cuba and its leaders is generally a variation of what follows: “If Cuba is so great, why do so many of its citizens swim to America to escape the country?” Well, the answer to that question is quite obvious, and if anyone who asks me this cared to do any research on the matter they would inevitably come to the same conclusion I have. The reason for the massive flood of immigrants from Cuba to America is the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Before the end of the Soviet Union, this embargo did very little to affect the Cuban economy in a negative way. However, after the end of the Soviet Union, Cuba lost its major trading partner, and not being able to sustain itself, an economic crisis began to arise. Fidel Castro and the Cuban Communist Party did all they could to help support the people and their current way of life, but times were hard, difficult, and many Cubans fled in search of the American dream (though, its doubtful they ever found it).

I believe the American government is responsible for a great deal of crimes against Cuba and it people, and simply ending the embargo isn’t enough to pay back that debt. Money is owed, reparations demanded, and negotiations are made essential. Despite the challenges posed by the corrupt government of the United States, the Cuban people have managed to stand together in solidarity and hope for a brighter tomorrow. This is the hope of Cuba, the hope of nations, the hope of revolution. The Cuban Revolution is, deemed by my thinking, to be the most successful and long-lasting progressive revolution of all time. Despite this, constructive criticism of the Cuban government is still necessary and essential to the safety and freedom of the Cuban people. Viva La Revolucion!


Empire Files with Abby Martin

Bernie Sanders’ Powerful Record on Civil and Human Rights

Election 2016

20 Examples of Bernie Sanders’ Powerful Record on Civil and Human Rights Since the 1950sBernie Sanders

From fighting segregation to standing against police violence.

By Zaid Jilani / AlterNet

July 20, 2015

Over the past few months, one lingering attack on Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for the Democratic nomination is his supposed indifference to racial justice and civil rights issues.

But the truth is, Sanders has a 50-year history of standing up for civil and minority rights, as he told the attendants of Netroots Nation after he was interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters. Of course, it’s understandable that they want to bring attention to the movement. Killings of people from Ferguson to New York City to Los Angeles to Atlanta have finally brought important issues like police brutality, systemic racism, mass incarceration and militarization of the police into the center of national dialogue.

It is up to all candidates for the presidency, including every Democrat, every Republican and independent candidates, to address these issues in a forthright manner and to do outreach and communicate with communities that are besieged by these problems. Although his events in Phoenix, Houston and Dallas, where he loudly condemned police brutality and racism were a start, Sanders owes it to pay attention to these activists and listen to the concerns of marginalized groups whose civil rights have historically been suppressed. Sanders does have a record of fighting on these issues, and it should be only natural for him to be able to comfortably address them before a diverse audience.

Here are 20 ways Sanders has stood up for civil and minority rights, starting in the early 1950s up to the present year.

  1. Raising Money For Korean Orphans: International solidarity was an unusual concept for any American to have in the 1950s, let alone a high school student. But one of Sanders’ first campaigns was to run for class president at James Madison High School in New York City. His platform was based around raising scholarship funds for Korean war orphans. Although he lost, the person who did win the campaign decided to endorse Sanders’ campaign, and scholarships were created.
  2. Being Arrested For Desegregation: As a student at the University of Chicago, Sanders was active in both the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1962, he was arrested for protesting segregation in public schools in Chicago; the police came to call him an outside agitator, as he went around putting up flyers around the city detailing police brutality.
  3. Marching In March On Washington:Sanders joined the mega-rally called by the leaders of the civil rights movement, a formative event of his youth.
  4. Calling For Full Gay Equality:40 years ago, Sanders started his political life by running with a radical third party in Vermont called the Liberty Union Party. As a part of the platform, he called for abolishing all laws related to discrimination against homosexuality.
  5. Standing Up For Victims Of U.S. Imperialism In Latin America: While mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Sanders formally protested the Reagan government’s policy of sending arms to Central America to repress left-wing movements. In 1985, he traveled to Nicaragua to condemn the war on people there. He writes about it in his book Outsider In The House: “The trip to Nicaragua was a profoundly emotional experience….I was introduced to a crowd of hundreds of thousands who gathered for the anniversary celebration. I will never forget that in the front row of the huge crowd were dozens and dozens of amputees in wheelchairs – young soldiers, many of them in their teens, who had lost their legs in a war foisted on them and financed by the U.S. government.”
  6. Condemned And Opposed Welfare Reform and Dog Whistle Politics:While President Bill Clinton and most Democrats in Congress supported so-called welfare reform politics, Sanders not only voted against this policy change, but wrote eloquently against the dog whistle politics used to sell it, saying, “The crown jewel of the Republican agenda is their so-called welfare reform proposal. The bill, which combines an assault on the poor, women and children, minorities, and immigrants is the grand slam of scapegoating legislation, and appeals to the frustrations and ignorance of the American people along a wide spectrum of prejudices.”
  7. Vocally Condemned and Opposed Death Penalty and Prisons His Entire Political Career:Sanders has long been a critic of “tough on crime” policies. Here he is in 1991 condemning a crime bill for promoting “state murder” through expansion of the death penalty:

“My friends, we have the highest percentage of people in jail per capita of any nation on earth….What do we have to do, put half the country behind bars? Mister Speaker, instead of talking about punishment and vengeance, let us talk about the real issue. How do we get to the root causes of crime? How do we stop crime? … I’ve got a problem with a president and Congress that allows five million people to go hungry, two million people to sleep out on the street, cities to become breeding grounds for drugs and violence. And they say we’re getting tough on crime. If you want to get tough on crime, let’s deal with the causes of crime. Let’s demand that every man, woman, and child in this country have a decent opportunity and a decent standard of living. Let’s not keep putting more people into jail and disproportionately punishing blacks.”

He also voted for an amendment in the crime bill to eliminate the death penalty with life imprisonment.

  1. Voted Against Cutting Off Prisoners From Federal Education Funds: In the 1990s, there was a successful effort to end the Pell Grant program for prisoners, which was one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism. Only a handful of members of Congress voted against the legislation, and almost all of them were members of the Black Caucus. Sanders was one of the few white members who opposed this effort. It passed by 351 to 39. Of those in the House who opposed that vote, few are still serving; Reps. John Lewis, Jose Serrano, Charlie Rangel, and Bernie Sanders stood together at that time and continue to serve today.
  2. Took  IMF To Task For Oppressing Developing World Workers: In a 1998 committee hearing, Sanderstook Clinton administration official Robert Rubin to task for not enforcing a provision to protect the rights of workers in Indonesia. “Tell the world now that no more IMF money goes to that country, goes to [dictator] Suharto!” he thundered to Rubin, who later went on to be the chief architect of policies that led us to the Great Recession. “The IMF historically does not have a good record in terms of the poor people of various countries,” he noted, standing up for the poorest black and brown people on the planet, tackling an institution few in Congress dare to criticize.
  3. Achieved High Ratings From Leading Civil Rights Organizations: A frequent critique of Sanders is that he is from a very white state. While this is true, he certainly has not ignored issues that matter to people of color. In 2002, he achieved a 93 percent rating from the ACLU and a 97% rating by the NAACP in 2006.
  4. Voted Against the PATRIOT Act:The USA PATRIOT Act was passed in a 98-2 vote in the Senate and a 357-66 vote in the House. Sanders voted against it, and has voted against renewing it every single time. The law has been used to violate the rights of Arab and Muslim Americans, but few know how extensively it has been used in the drug war; from 2009 to 2010, the law was invoked for 3,034 narcotics cases and only 37 terrorism cases.
  5. Opposed Both Iraq Wars on Moral Grounds: Sanders was opposed to U.S. involvement in both Iraq wars. While many simply talked about the war in terms of the impact it would have on the United States, Sanders went further, saying that the “death and destruction caused” would “not be forgotten by the poor people of the Third World.”
  6. Traveled to Costa Rica to Defend Exploited Workers:Sanders traveled to Costa Rica to help organize workers opposing the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). While many critics of trade agreements do so on the grounds that Americans deserve jobs that could be lost to foreign countries, Sanders instead practices a form of solidarity politics, saying that workers in both countries are being exploited by corporations and so we must organize workers in both countries.
  7. Endorsed Jesse Jackson, Spoke Up For Palestinians: In 1988, Jesse Jackson was the first competitive black candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. He came under fierce attack for his advocacy of Palestinian statehood. Sanders came to his aid, organizing Vermonters and winning the state for Jackson. Sanders was asked about Jackson’s comments on Palestine and defended him, saying that the Israeli assault on Palestinians was “reprehensible.”
  8. Strongly Condemned Police Violence Over the Past Year: One criticism of Sanders is that he avoids talking about police violence in favor of talking about the economy. While the economy forms the bulk of his pitch, he has repeatedly condemned police violence during the duration of the Black Lives Matter movement. Here he is in mid-August 2014, before frontrunner Clinton ever spoke about the issue. Here (8/20/14) are (8/24/14) a (8/18/14) few (6/6/2015) more (4/30/2015) examples(6/2015).
  9. Embraced Immigrants When Hillary Clinton Refused To Talk To Them: In 2014, young immigration activists repeatedly tried to talk to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton to ask her about executive action. While Clinton did not talk to them, Bernie Sanders was not only willing to talk, but agreed with their call for executive action.
  10. Defended Voting Rights Against Voter Suppression Efforts: Sanders earned the endorsement of radical rapper Killer Mike by his leadership on defending the Voter Rights Act and calling for expanding voting rights.
  11. Fought Against Employment Discrimination: Sanders was a strong supporter of legislation to end workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans.
  12. Called For End to War On Drugs, For-Profit Prisons and Migrant Detention Quotas:  Sanders supportsdecriminalizing marijuna, and believes the war on drugs to be a failure. Additionally, he has vowed to end for-profit prisons and immigrant detention quotas.
  13. Put Out Detailed Plan to End Economic Crisis in Minority Communities: Many argue that Sanders views the issue of racial justice in too myopic a fashion by focusing on the economy. But polling of both Latinos and African Americans shows that jobs and the economy is either their top concern or tied for their top concern. Gallup polling shows that 13 percent of Hispanics say immigration is their top concern; 47 percent say the economy is. Meanwhile, among black Americans, 13 percent say “race relations” is their top concern, tied with “unemployment/jobs,” an additional 10 percentage points go to the “economy in general.” Combined, economic concerns make up 23 percentage points while race relations compose 13 percent. If you add in healthcare, at 6 percent, another major Sanders theme, it gets you up to 29 percent. Add in poverty at 7 percent and education at 5 percent  and you’re up to 41 percent of African Americans naming Bernie Sanders’ top issues as their top issues.

This validates Sanders’ strategy of looking to the economy as the top concern of minority communities. He has put out a detailed strategy to target unemployment across America and particularly to attack Hispanic and black youth unemployment, which he introduced in August 2014, long before he announced for president.

None of this is to say that the Sanders campaign doesn’t need to do more outreach to a broad array of people; the rallies in Phoenix, Houston and Dallas were a start, as they featured heavy presence of Latino and African Americans. The campaign is reportedly set to meet with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference next week, and will be campaigning heavily in the Southeast starting next month, with an event in New Orleans at the tail end of this month.

But much of the criticism of Sanders seems more rooted in who he is — an old white guy from Vermont — than what he has done. If anything, the fact that he has done so much for civil and minority rights despite the fact that his constituency is not one that would naturally demand it speaks to his character and wide empathy that isn’t shared by many politicians.

Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.

In Fiery Speeches, Francis Excoriates Global Capitalism

Source: New York Times


Pope Francis with children on Friday in Luque, Paraguay, the final leg of his Latin America trip. Credit Andres Stapff/Reuters

Having returned to his native Latin America, Francis has renewed his left-leaning critiques on the inequalities of capitalism, describing it as an underlying cause of global injustice, and a prime cause of climate change. Francis escalated that line last week when he made a historic apology for the crimes of the Roman Catholic Church during the period of Spanish colonialism — even as he called for a global movement against a “new colonialism” rooted in an inequitable economic order.

The Argentine pope seemed to be asking for a social revolution.

“This is not theology as usual; this is him shouting from the mountaintop,” said Stephen F. Schneck, the director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic studies at Catholic University of America in Washington.

The last pope who so boldly placed himself at the center of the global moment was John Paul II, who during the 1980s pushed the church to confront what many saw as the challenge of that era, communism. John Paul II’s anti-Communist messaging dovetailed with the agenda of political conservatives eager for a tougher line against the Soviets and, in turn, aligned part of the church hierarchy with the political right.

Francis has defined the economic challenge of this era as the failure of global capitalism to create fairness, equity and dignified livelihoods for the poor — a social and religious agenda that coincides with a resurgence of the leftist thinking marginalized in the days of John Paul II. Francis’ increasingly sharp critique comes as much of humanity has never been so wealthy or well fed — yet rising inequality and repeated financial crises have unsettled voters, policy makers and economists.