Category: Latin America
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.

Ecuador Fights for Survival – Against its Elites

Date: Jul 4, 2015 6:36 PM

“US and Local Elites United Against Ecuador”

To overlook tremendous progress that Ecuador registered under the current administration, would take great determination and discipline.

New airports, highways, hospitals and culture centers are everywhere, and they are impressive. Cities are counting with wide sidewalks, and public parks are equipped with all sorts of playgrounds for children, some extremely innovative.

There are public libraries in some of the parks, armed with free Wi-Fi zones. Buses and trolleybuses are running on dedicated lanes and are heavily subsidized (25 cents per ride), while Quito is planning to build its first line of metro.

Government puts great emphasis on health, education and culture.

You want to check your pulse before a powerwalk in the park, or are you a single mother who wants to talk to a nutritionist? Help is always there, available. Not only at the hospitals, but in small, modern health centers. And help is always free!

While, when I used to live in this part of the world some two decades ago, most theatres were out of reach for indigenous people, now cultural institutions, including the National Theatre, are celebrating great culture of the original owners of this land. 85% of all cultural events in Ecuador are free of charge and even those that are charging some entry fee are heavily subsidized.

But above all, it is confidence and optimism on the faces of common people that is impressive. While in 1990’s it was all doom and gloom, young and old people coming from once deprived neighborhoods of the cities, as well as countryside, are now smiling assertively. Once again, this is their country, and their home!


It is great news for majority of Ecuadorian citizens – but terrible nightmare for the ‘elites’.

They no longer feel unique, no longer is this country their huge, private playground and a milking cow. The ‘elites’ still have money and their villas, as well as servants, luxury cars and regular trips to those lands they are faithfully serving – North America and Europe.

But their status is diminishing. No longer they feel admired, no longer they are feared. Increasingly they are forced to play by rules and to respect local laws. That would be unimaginable just ten years ago. For some, this is the end of the world!

The rich, the ‘elites’, are sour losers. In fact, they have no idea how to accept defeat. Never before in the history of this country they actually had to. To them this is new reality, this nation ruled by the government, which is working on behalf of the people. The ‘elites’ feel let down, cheated, even humiliated. They have no idea how to respect democracy (rule of the people). They only know how to make decisions, and to give orders, and to loot.

This could lead to inevitable conflict, and Ecuador is not an exception. To greater or smaller extend, the same is happening in Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and even in Chile. Immediately after people vote a socialist government in, immediately after the government begins working for the majority, the elites start reacting. Their goal is clear and predictable: to discredit the administration and to reverse the course.

Attacks can be performed through ‘nonviolent’ means, including protests, disinformation campaign through mass media, even hunger strikes. Or they can be conducted by extremely aggressive means: economic sabotage, creation of shortages; things that extreme right wing used so successfully against the socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile, before the 1973 military coup.

If everything else fails, ‘elites’ unite their forces with the military and with the West, commit treason, and attempt to overthrow legitimate left-wing government, through direct actions.

This happened on several occasions in Venezuela, and now, such violent scenario could not be excluded in Ecuador and elsewhere.


Lately, in Ecuador, right-wing ‘elites’ are continuously protesting against the administration, accusing it of corruption and other ills.

The latest chapter was related to proposed progressive inheritance tax law, which would order those who own houses priced over 1 million dollars, to pay 70 percent to the state. Poor people would pay nothing, if their houses cost lesser than 35.000 dollars. Those whose dwellings are priced under US$100.000 would still pay very little.

Rich Ecuadoreans see this as unacceptable. They began stalking government offices. They protested all over the capital. They launched tremendous propaganda campaign against the government. And they threatened to disrupt the visit of the Pope Francis, to Ecuador. Fearing huge scandal, the government postponed passing of the law. That calmed down passions for a day or two, but in no time the protesters returned to the streets of Quito.

“We will not rest until this government collapses!” A man taking his family to one of protest sites told me. Entire family dressed in black, crosses hanging on their chests.

And then again, before leaving Ecuador, I was approached by a well to do family, as I was walking towards my hotel:

“Please, our daughter is writing an essay in English… It is her homework, for her English language class… Private school, you know… She was asked to approach a foreigner, and encourage him or her to describe everything negative that is happening in this country.”

How did they know I was a foreigner? Oh yes, I was holding a novel written in English.

I patted their cute private-school daughter on the head.

“I will teach you a nice song”, I said, in Spanish.

Then I clenched my right fist and began singing “International”, loudly and clearly, in Russian.

In horror, they fled. One passer-by applauded.


Corruption is one of the main rallying cries of the ‘elites’. They claim that the government is mismanaging the country.

They can get away with such statements only because they are controlling mass media – most of the television networks and newspapers. Otherwise, entire country would die from laugher.

When right wing was in charge, it grabbed everything. Like in Paraguay where 2% of the population is still controlling well over 75% of land. Like in Chile, where, after Pinochet was forced to step down, his country was suffering from the greatest income disparity in South America. Like in Venezuela, where, before Hugo Chavez became the President, ‘elites’ grabbed billions, using oil deposits as collateral for insane loans that were happily supplied by the West and its institutions. Corruption and theft had been synonymous with the upper class rule, everywhere in Latin America.

It should not be forgotten that John Perkins, author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”, was actually working mainly in Ecuador and Indonesia, when he was administering sex, alcohol and cash as tools to persuade local elites to take more and more unnecessary loans, because indebted nation is easy to control from Washington or London.

Entire nations, including Ecuador, were robbed, plundered, forced into perpetual underdevelopment. By whom?! By those damned elites who are now talking about corruption in the government ranks!

Instead of being grateful that they are not facing treason trials, ‘elites’ in places like Ecuador are now, once again, on the offensive, selling their souls and their country to the Empire!


In an indigenous city of Riobamba, I speak to Pablo Narvaez, director of culture, and to his wife Carina.

Pablo and Carina created impressive regional youth orchestra, not unlike those in Venezuela. But here, they did it first with almost no help, by training poor boys and girls from the villages, turning them into impressive professional musicians.

Local house of culture, under their management, is inspiring, as a building but mainly because of what it is offering: high quality art, most of it political: pigs devouring dollar bills, while poor indigenous children are watching in desperation and spite. In another room, great satirical painting demonstrates that indigenous people from Amazonia are not pure, anymore, squeezing their VAIO computers and mobile phones.

After discussing local art, we all walk to the market, where countless cheeky women serve local delicacy – suckling pigs.

“Hey!” they scream at me and at my friend Walter Bustos, who used to be part of the government, and who is still deeply involved in the ‘process’. “Hey, eat my pig and then marry me!”

These are not shy, depressed indigenous women, anymore. These are confident good-hearted matrons living in the country that gave them back their dignity, and sense of humor.

Pablo, originally concert pianist and professor, is not always holding the same political line as the President of Ecuador, but they agree on many issues:

“Ideologically, I come from the left. But I do not belong to any political party. We are all human beings, and so I intuitively believe in equality. I share many believes with the government, when it comes to social inclusivity and education, as well as the infrastructure. The process is long, we all have to be patient…”

We talk about the progress that had been already made: great improvement in health, water supply, electricity, education and culture.

Riobamba has only over 200.000 people. Before Pablo and his wife came on board, the city had 50 live events annually.

“Now we arrange over 750 events per year”, says Pablo. “We utilize all infrastructure that we have here: theatres, museums, even churches…. Markets, too, as well as public squares.”

Culture and arts always form important part of the Latin American revolutions. On this continent, it is not only about ideology, ideas and hard work; it is also about heart and dreams.

“And what about the taxes?” I ask, before we part. I know that Carina used to work in this field. I told her, that on the way to Riobamba, we stopped in a village, where people complained even about symbolic one dollar per month taxation.

Carina smiles: “Taxes always existed. I used to help collecting them. But now they are formalizing the tax system. Here, until now, there is no ‘culture’ of paying taxes, formally…”

And this is what the right wing is using for its own political gains. Their propaganda shouts: “Let us win and you will pay nothing!” They dare to say this to the poor whom they were robbing for centuries!

Before we leave, youth orchestra is blasting old traditional Quechua tune, to celebrate out visit. It is all touching and we all feel optimistic.

Pablo gives me several books of poetry published in Riobamba, his own and those of other poets. All of them are published in two languages: in Spanish and in local language – Quechua.

We drive back to Quito, part of our long journey on a perfect, new 6-lane highway.

Countryside is stunning. On the left, spectacular volcano Cotopaxi, one of the highest in the world, is hiding its snow-capped peak in the clouds. Ecuador, President Correa often says, is like a paradise on earth. It has tall mountains, stunning coastline, jungle of Amazonian basin, and Galapagos Islands, overflowing with pristine fauna and flora.

It also has natural great resources. If there is no sabotage from ‘elites’, if there is no intervention from the West, this country could continue flourishing under progressive, people-oriented, socialist government.

But there is sabotage, there is subversion, and there are interventions.

And all this could collapse, if not defended!


Back in Quito, I speak to Sonya Maria Bustos and her husband Norberto Fuertes, both journalists, now working for the magnificent Ecuadorian Cultural Center.

They offer to connect me to some top government officials, including Oscar Bonillo, the secretary general of Allianza.

I refuse. Next time, yes, but during this visit I want to travel and see with my own eyes; I want to hear directly what people of Ecuador have to say.

Sonya is sad:

“Because of ‘elites’, country is now unstable, despite the fact that so many things changed for better! No more hospitals full of poor children! Do you remember – before, sick people were everywhere! New hospitals are growing all over the country. But some very rich people are trying to get into the government – to infiltrate it…. In order to stop the progress.”

She pauses. We are both lost in thoughts. Then she continues:

“Now rich people get out of their Hummers in order to protest. 8 years of great progress, but they are still protesting. They have no shame… People like Guillermo Lasso, who has definitely some sort of contract with the United States…”


My friend Tamara Pearson, an Australian journalist who spent many years living in and covering Venezuela, is now working for TeleSUR in Quito. Like myself, she is impressed by developments in Ecuador, under Correa:

“If you ask people in Ecuador: in Quito, in the big and small towns around it, how they feel about the current government, almost all of them are positive – in stark contrast to the people in Honduras and Guatemala, for example. Often the first thing they’ll mention is the roads: a lot of infrastructure has been improved, and roads mean a lot to so many communities, many of them indigenous, that were cut off and isolated with only harsh dirt roads, often broken up by landslides from the constant rain, to connect them to larger towns and to food and gas supplies. Though there is much still to do, poverty has decreased, corruption has notably decreased, and people feel that things are decent, dignified, and stable and want that to continue. Most remember the greedy presidents of the past who lied and stole, and unlike Correa, did not speak Quechua, and don’t want to return to those days. Like Chavez, Correa has his weekly show (though on Saturdays
here – in Venezuela it was on Sunday mornings). The show goes for hours, and Correa discusses issues and provides information on what the government is doing. A summary is given in Quechua at the end. Though there is much less of a push towards political participation here than in Venezuela – I’d say almost none – its clear that this is a government that puts people first, the poor majority first, and Correa at least prioritizes informing people of what the government is doing, – something the Australian government for example, doesn’t even bother to do.”

But many others, including Walter Bustos, worry about the future. Walter worries that President Correa does not have the military covering his back. He also worries that dollarization of Ecuadorean economy could prove to be a weak point for political resistance against the West. He worries that many young people are turning into technocrats, and that, at the end, as long as they keep their good jobs, they wouldn’t care for whom they are working, for Correa or for someone else.

His friend Paola Pabon, Assembly member representing Pichincha, worries as well. She supports President Correa, and she sees him as a great regional leader, but she also admits that Ecuadorian revolution is fragile, and that there is lack of unity between the government and the military.

Both agree that the US is behind the recent protests.


At the end of my work in Ecuador, I fly to Cuenca, to that beautiful colonial city, and from there I hire a car and drive to the hard of Cañari land, to Ingapirca, where massive Inca castle still dominates gentle landscape, and where old Inca and pre-Inca road systems are still connecting villages and towns.

Miguel, a local comrade, is travelling with me. He also translates when we enter deep villages that are lost at the bottom of valleys, or are hugging steep green hills.

“Spaniards robbed everyone here,” I am told. “They took everything. They destroyed castles and settlements. Then capitalism took the rest.”

“People were forced into Christianity”, I say. “They were ruined by Christianity. Do they really still believe in it?”

I am told that Christianity is just a ritual, for the majority here. People do not attach much importance to it, anymore. Their lives go on, and their original culture is once again prevailing.

Near Ingapirca I am witnessing people celebrating The Inti Raymi, “Festival of the Sun”, dating back to Inca Empire.

I am told about determined government drinking water projects and schemes, and about improvements in both health and education. Most of the people here, as well as around Riobamba, are benefiting from those revolutionary changes.

But many are not able to formulate their support for Correa. They take recent developments for granted.

And Correa and his men and women are not very good at propaganda, or with mobilizing the people, definitely not as good as President Chavez used to be in Venezuela.

Here, the revolution is gentle and shy, as is the accent of Cañari people near Cuenca.

And there lies the danger.

Ecuadorean ‘elites’ are not gentle at all. Their arrogance, greed and selfishness are ready to smash all achievements of the revolution. Their message is clear: to hell with Ecuadorian people, especially those who are poor, as long as we can keep our villas, Hummers and our kids in those private schools!

Just recently, President Correa warned that the plan of destabilizing the government is being put in action.

Leaders of the “opposition” will wait until arrival of Pope Francis, or perhaps they will wait bit longer, until his departure from Ecuador. Then they will hit. And they will hit hard. The mayor of Quito leads the anti-government forces in the capital.

The government should not follow the path of President Allende. It has to counter-attack, before it is too late! Treason is serious crime in all societies. And treason is exactly what Ecuadorean elites are now committing!

children in public park
Children in public park.

public art exhibitions
Public art exhibitions.

young dancers rehearsing
Young dancers rehearsing.

buy my pork and marry me
Buy my pork and marry me.

Youth Orchestra in Riobamba
Youth orchestra in Riobamba.

for these children Ecuador should not be allowed to fall
For these children Ecuador should not be allowed to fall.

Inti Raymi near Ingapirca
Inti Raymi near Ingapirca.

public free medical post
Free public medical post.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”.Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

Thousands of Guatemalans Protest, Demand Resignation of Their President
| June 15, 2015 | 7:29 pm | Latin America, political struggle | No comments


According to reports, up to 60,000 Guatemalans took to the streets of the capital and other cities on Saturday to demand that President Otto Perez step down., 10:57 17.05.2015 (updated 11:00 17.05.2015)

Thousands of Guatemalans took part in protests on Saturday, demanding the resignation of President Otto Perez and the country’s top tax officials, following the earlier resignation of hiss vice-president due to a corruption scandal, which was first reported last month.

Demonstrators gathered on the streets of Guatemala City and other cities across the country, which has a population of around 15 million.

Reports of the number of demonstrators ranged from 30,000 to 60,000; protesters responded to a call from organizers of the ‘Citizens’ Movement Against Corruption in Guatemala,’ an umbrella group of more than 20 organizations which was established on Friday with the aim of fighting corruption in the country.

“Our decision to establish the Citizens’ Movement Against Corruption, a permanent instrument both institutionally and long-term, will have the sole purpose of taking concrete steps to combat corruption and achieve the ethical management of resources in Guatemala,” the organization announced in a statement released on Friday, ahead of Saturday’s protests.

On May 8 Guatemalan Vice-President Roxana Baldetti resigned after public prosecutors revealed a customs fraud and bribery ring operating in the country’s federal tax agency, following an investigation by the UN’s international Commission against Impunity in Guatemala.
The bribery scheme was first uncovered by prosecutors on April 16, and protestors first gathered in front of the National Palace of Culture on April 25 to demand Baldetti’s resignation, after police revealed that Baldetti’s personal secretary would be the main suspect in the investigation.

In addition to Baldetti and her aide, at least 50 people, including public servants, have been implicated in the scheme, including the country’s top current and former tax officials.