Category: Latin America
Latin America not US backyard

John Wight is a writer and commentator specializing in geopolitics, UK domestic politics, culture and sport.

Published time: April 10, 2015 10:52

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Cuban President Raul Castro (Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach)

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Cuban President Raul Castro (Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach)

The Summit of the Americas, being held this year in Panama, is a reminder that contrary to what many in the US like to think, the United States constitutes just one of many nations on the American continent.

International media attention will understandably be focused on the prospects of a meeting between President Obama and Cuban leader, Raul Castro, during the summit. Hopefully, if and when such a meeting takes place, agreement is reached over the lifting of a decades-long US embargo of the island, which despite being in place since the early 1960s has categorically failed to break the will of the Cuban people in their resistance to the writ of Washington. Indeed every day the Cuban Revolution survives, it does so as a beacon of strength and defiance of US imperialism.

The Obama administration deserves credit for being the first to finally submit to the absurdity of the failed US attempt to isolate Cuba with the re-establishment of diplomatic relations. However this credit must be tempered by a sober understanding of the motives of US ideologues in apparently reaching out to Havana after many decades spent doing their utmost to violate Cuban sovereignty and the rights of the Cuban people to dignity, independence, and self determination. The embargo remains in place, as does US determination to bring about an end to Cuba’s socialist system, and therefore it would be folly to allow ourselves to believe that Cuba can now be considered wholly safe from US aggression. On the contrary a part of the island, Guantanamo, remains under US occupation, and it must be returned to its rightful owners if anything approaching normalization based on mutual respect is the aim.

Ironically, given the recent thawing of relations between Havana and Washington, Cuba has never wavered in its solidarity with Venezuela, whose government and its Bolivarian Revolution – started by Hugo Chavez in 1998 and who, even in death, remains its towering inspiration – finds itself under unremitting pressure from a determined opposition at home and an increasingly bellicose US government. In this regard, the recent decision of the Obama administration to place sanctions against the government of President Nicolas Maduro is proof that the United States remains a prisoner of hypocrisy and a ‘might-is-right’ worldview.

The Venezuelan economy, based on the country’s massive oil reserves, was susceptible to exactly the kind of steep drop in global energy prices that we’ve seen over the past year. Control of the revenue generated from this commodity is key to the country’s political direction and future. It was part of this revenue that funded the sweeping reforms of the Chavez government that reversed the generations-long emphasis on supporting the interests of the rich. Under Chavez, for the first time in the nation’s tortured history, Venezuela’s poor started to see their lives transformed on the back of government-funded programs in education, housing, health, and land reform.

Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, having failed to persuade fellow OPEC members to reduce production, has seen his government engulfed in chaos as the country has found meeting its external debt obligations while maintaining economic stability at home an impossible task. This economic crisis has led inexorably to a political crisis, which a reinvigorated opposition at home has gone all out to exploit with the tacit, if not implicit, support of Washington.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

With this in mind, the recent decision by the Obama administration to introduce sanctions against the Maduro government, based on the outrageous claim that Venezuela posed an “extraordinary threat” to US national security, gives us cause to doubt the motives behind Washington’s apparent opening up to Cuba. Is there some game being played here? It would seem so.

It also leaves no doubt that as far as the US is concerned the right to interfere, subvert, and violate the rights of its Latin American neighbors is not about to be relinquished anytime soon. As far back as the Monroe Doctrine, formulated in 1823, US administrations have viewed Latin America as its own backyard, theirs to dominate and control however they see fit. The result has been an ignoble history of funding, arming, and supporting some of the most vile and brutal dictatorships ever known, responsible for the torture and murder of hundreds of thousands of people in their time.

It is a regressive tradition that rests on foundations of colonial entitlement and continues in the second decade of the 21st century.

But the days of Venezuela and its neighbors being dictated to by a US president are over. This is why the petition against US sanctions against the country, which President Maduro will take to the summit to present to President Obama, has the support of the entire region.

Someday, perhaps, we will live to see a world in which the only sanctions being introduced are against the US and its allies. If and when such a day comes, we will know that justice finally reigns.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Partido Comunista rechaza maniobras militares en Puerto Rico

  • El Partido Comunista de Puerto Rico rechaza la presencia militar de EE.UU. en la isla caribeña.

    El Partido Comunista de Puerto Rico rechaza la presencia militar de EE.UU. en la isla caribeña. | Foto: EFE

Publicado 13 marzo 2015 (Hace 21 horas 38 minutos)

La organización comunista asegura que esas maniobras responden a un ensayo para luego imponer el orden militar cuando se desplome el poder colonial impuesto por Estados Unidos en Puerto Rico.

El Partido Comunista de Puerto Rico (PCPR) rechazó este viernes los ejercicios militares que realizará la próxima semana la Guardia Nacional con la presencia de soldados estadounidenses.

A través de un comunicado, la organización comunista lamentó que Puerto Rico sea utilizado como el centro de entrenamientos militares de Estados Unidos.

“Resulta inexplicable, desde la perspectiva humanitaria, que se militarice a Puerto Rico ante eventuales catástrofes naturales, cuando la respuesta del Estado (federal y colonial) debería ser simulacros de las agencias encargadas de protección y socorro de la población”, subraya la comunicación.

El PCPR lamentó que la denominada Operación Respuesta Borinqueña conformada por soldados puertorriqueños y unos mil efectivos de los estados de Nebraska, Vermont, West Virginia y Washington sean enviados a realizar esas actividades en vez de promover la paz y la integración entre los pueblos.

Asimismo, el partido advirtió que estos ejercicios que se realizarán en San Juan (capital de Puerto Rico) y otros municipios del país caribeño responden a las recientes amenazas del presidente estadounidense Barack Obama contra Venezuela.

“Los ejercicios se realizan como parte de la política norteamericana de usar a Puerto Rico como plataforma de lanzamientos de agresiones militares contra los gobiernos de Latinoamérica”, añade el texto firmado por la dirección del PCPR.

Colombian Government Asks United States to Consider Repatriating Ricardo Palmera/Simon Trinidad


Alliance for Global Justice

Colombian Government Asks United States to Consider Repatriating Ricardo Palmera / Simon Trinidad

An Opportunity for Peace–Please Take Action!

The news that the Colombian government has asked the United States to consider returning Simón Trinidad aka Ricardo Palmera to his home country is a major step forward for the likelihood of securing a lasting accord to end five decades of war. All peace loving persons must urge the US government to do what is necessary so that Trinidad / Palmera can take his place at the negotiating table.

Trinidad / Palmera is one of the primary negotiators for the Revolutionary Armed Forces in Colombia (FARC). The FARC have made clear that Trinidad must be consulted before a peace accord can be finalized. Trinidad is held in solitary confinement in the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, having been extradited to the United States in a process that undermines Colombian sovereignty and that is motivated by political considerations. By repatriating Trinidad, the US government can show a commitment to peace in Colombia that is based on actual deeds and not just words.

TWO Actions you can take:

1)  Call the Colombia Desk of the State Department and urge that the US government repatriate Ricardo Palmera (Simón Trinidad) in accordance with the request of the Colombian government. Calls are more effective than emails, so please take this step if you can! Use the sample email/script below as a guide. THE PHONE NUMBER IS: (202) 647-3142

2) CLICK HERE to send the following email to the White House and State Department. The form is editable, so if you have time, please feel free to add your own words.


The United States has the opportunity to take action in a real and meaningful way to help bring peace to Colombia and end more than five decades of war. The Colombian government has requested that the US consider repatriating Ricardo Palmera aka Simon Trinidad to Colombia. Palmera is one of the primary negotiators for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and is currently being held in solitary confinement at the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. The FARC have made clear that Palmera’s presence is required for any final peace accord to be achieved. The Colombian government’s request underscores how important is his participation. I urge the White House and State Department to take whatever actions are necessary to repatriate Palmera and assure that a meaningful and durable peace agreement can be reached. I also urge the US to end the tactic of requesting the extraditions of both insurgents and paramilitary members. This practice undermines Colombia’s own sovereignty as well as the peace process and investigations into paramilitary ties to Colombian politicians and government officials.

Click HERE to take a stand for peac in Colombia! And if you can, be sure and call the State Department Colombia desk to ask that the US government repatriate Ricardo Palmera to Colombia. The phone number is: (202) 647-3142

Background Information:

The imprisonment of Simon Trinidad, aka Ricardo Palmera, in the United States is a very particular obstacle to the negotiations. Trinidad was a university professor and belonged to a Leftist teachers’ organization. All but two of its members were murdered for their activities. One survivor, Imelda Daza Cotes, went into exile in Sweden. The other survivor, Trinidad, joined the FARC in 1987.

The CIA seized Trinidad in Ecuador, while he was traveling under terms of “safe passage”. Trinidad was on his way to meet an aide to UN chief Kofi Annan so they could discuss terms of a prisoner release by the FARC. Trinidad was extradited from Colombia to the US on Dec. 31, 2004 to face terrorism, hostage-taking and drug charges. The terrorism and hostage-taking charges stemmed from a Feb. 13, 2003 incident in which three US mercenaries were taken prisoner after their plane crashed inside FARC-controlled territory. Trinidad himself had nothing to do with this and was charged entirely on the basis of his membership in the FARC. In fact, the prosecutor at one point identified 20,000 FARC members as co-conspirators, later reducing it to 50 FARC officers. Trinidad was convicted on one count of hostage-taking and sentenced to 60 years. Prosecutors were unable to get convictions on the other counts.

According to journalist Hernán Camacho, writing for the Colombian newspaper Voz, “Simón Trinidad was chosen as an envoy and negotiator of this guerrilla army in the peace dialogues in Havana, Cuba because of his profound knowledge of the regional and national economy, his political capacity and boldness, in addition to his experience as a negotiator in the Caguán peace process [1999 – 2002]. Today Simón Trinidad passes his hours in the federal prison of Florence, Colorado (United States), with only one hour of sunlight per day. He is a political prisoner held in unjust captivity.”

The rightful place of Simón Trinidad is not in solitary confinement in the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, but at the negotiating table in Havana.

For more information:

Free Ricardo Palmera!

Could Ricardo Palmera be Released to Participate in Colombia’s Peace Negotiations?


Send an email in support of peace in Colombia!

Venezuela Continues to be Chavista, According to New Poll

Caracas, March 2, 2015 According to a new poll released by International Consulting Services (ICS), approximately 57% of Venezuelans have confidence that the Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro will improve the economy.
The poll also featured several results which suggest that Chavismo continues to be the preferred political option for the country’s citizens.
In the midst of an economic crisis triggered by crashing oil prices and economic war in which basic goods remain scarce, only one fourth of Venezuelans regard scarcities as the country’s biggest problem. This finding contradicts the image of widespread hunger and desperation among Venezuelans projected by the international media.
Moreover, in the face of an inflation rate fast approaching 70%, only 1 in 10 Venezuelans consider inflation as the nation’s principal issue. Rather, insecurity, a perennial problem in Venezuela, remains the top concern for half of the country’s citizens.
The study also contained some unexpected findings regarding upcoming parliamentary elections. Contrary to international predictions of a landslide victory for the opposition, 43.6% of Venezuelans said they would vote for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and its allied parties if elections were held today.
This figure means that even in the midst of acute economic difficulties, the PSUV retains a strong lead over the opposition, which was the preference of less than 32% of poll respondents.
Additionally, the poll found that on the eve of the second anniversary of the death of Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, around 62% of Venezuelans consider themselves chavistas, or “partisans… of the ideals” of the late Venezuelan leader. This result attests to the ongoing majoritarian popularity of the Bolivarian project initiated by Chávez, even despite his physical absence.
Furthermore, in the area of human rights, the survey discovered that 80% of Venezuelans believe that respect for human rights is guaranteed in the Bolivarian republic. This figure stands at odds with statements by the U.S. government and international media, regarding alleged “human rights violations” committed by the government of Nicolas Maduro.
The poll was conducted between February 10 and February 20 and included a sample of 1300 respondents drawn from every state in the country. The figures were reported with a confidence level of 95%.
U.S. Behind Coup d’Etat Attempt in Venezuela
U.S. Behind Coup d’Etat Attempt in Venezuela
Pretoria, Feb 19 (Prensa Latina) Venezuelan ambassador to South Africa Mairin Moreno today reiterated that the hand of the US Goverment was behind the latest coup d” etat attempt in her country, and stressed that they will not stop condemning it.

Just a week ago, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro uncovered this new coup d’ etat that was planned for last February 12, when the Youth Day was celebrated in Venezuela, said Morena in an interview with Prensa Latina.

The ambassador warned that the plan was orchestrated by the opposion and funded by the US Government and included a series of violent acts.

Moreno recalled that the coup was planned meticulously, and they tried to buy the support of Venezuelan top ranking military officials for that purpose.

However, thanks to the consolidated Venezuelan Armed Forces and the Intelligence services, the new coup d’etat was uncovered, stressed the ambassador.

Moreno said that Venezuela will not stop denouncing to the world the atrocities that have been attempted against the Bolivarian Revolution.

The diplomat added that they planned to bomb with Tucano warplanes some of the main Government headquarters, such as the Miraflores Palace, Telesur television channel, and some ministries.

She added that Venezuelan leaders, as it is the case of Robert Serra, have been killed in desperate acts staged by the opposition and forces from abroad to overthrow the Venezuelan revolutionary process.

The ambassador also noted that the chaos created in the country through the increase in prices, smuggled goods, stockpiling activities, are part of the constant attack against the Venezuelan people.


Modificado el ( jueves, 19 de febrero de 2015 )
A Book that was Missing

Havana, February 13, 2015
Remarks at the presentation of the book ¿Quién mató al Che?
Cómo la CIA logró salir impune del asesinato by Michael Ratner
and Michael Steven Smith, Social Sciences Publishing House, Cuba.
[Spanish translation of Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder]

Unofficial translation by Susana Hurlich, Havana
A Book that was Missing
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

Michael Ratner and Michael Steven Smith, in addition to being eminent lawyers, are active participants in the most important battles of the North American people for justice and freedom. Their book, dedicated to Leonard Weinglass – who, up to his last breath, devoted his life to the liberation of the Five Cuban anti-terrorists who served long years of unjust and cruel imprisonment in the United States – pays well-deserved tribute to our mutual friend when our heroes have now returned free to the Homeland.

To fight for justice in that country means, above all, to seek the truth and make it known in the most difficult of circumstances, confronting the concealment and manipulation of a powerful machinery determined to impose nothing else but ignorance on millions of people. This is a task that Lenny as well as Ratner and Smith have known how to carry out assiduously and consistently.

To prove that Ernesto Guevara was assassinated by the CIA, that his death was a war crime – a crime that never perishes – and that this deed was entirely the responsibility of the U.S. government called for an unremitting search.

After many years of demanding that the authorities comply with their own laws with respect to public access to information, today we can read documents that, despite the crossings-out and deletions that still seek to conceal numerous facts, allow the reader to discover that the official versions about Ernesto Guevara’s final combat were deliberately distorted.

It’s all about trying to make us believe that Washington preferred that Che, defeated and taken prisoner, would continue to live and that the crime was the result of unilateral decisions made by soldiers of the Bolivian Army who were then a docile instrument of the Empire.

Much has been written about Che and his epic Bolivian campaign and there are many authors who echoed the interpretation fabricated by the exponents of “plausible deniability.” At this stage, when both selective and massive assassination and the practice of torture and extrajudicial executions have become a generalized practice of a new way of making war, the book by Ratner and Smith is an opportune reminder that such treatment has a long trajectory.

It is as old as that of using servile armies and assassins – uniformed or not – as simple tools causing countless suffering to the peoples of Latin America under military dictatorships that the United States equipped, trained and managed.

In an earlier book, published in 1997 and the result of an equally relentless pursuit, the authors had revealed how the FBI tracked Ernesto Guevara’s activities in Guatemala and Mexico when he was not yet Che. In this book that they offer us now it can be confirmed that during his Bolivian campaign he was obsessively followed at the highest levels in Washington.

The U.S. Government’s Central Intelligence Agency was responsible for the cold-blooded murder of a wounded and unarmed young prisoner by the name of Ernesto Guervara. The actual perpetrators of the cowardly act were soldiers who acted under the control of the CIA and obeyed their orders without batting an eye.

Some are still walking, however, on the streets of Miami or are in their offices at Langley, mulling over their frustration. Because they could not kill Che. Che continued to live and his message returned victorious in a new Bolivia and in a Latin America that confidently moves ahead towards complete emancipation.

Because Che fought all his life leading the list of those named as essential by Bertolt Brecht. Essential are those who are never missing when they are most needed, those who are present, always on the front line, when the struggle is harder and more complex.

That is why Che lives. Because we need him now more than ever.

The Cuban edition of this book appears in a new juncture in which we greatly need the Guevarian light. Now we are entering a stage that poses new challenges that we must face with wisdom and firmness. The historic enemy of our people has not changed its nature or its strategy of domination, only its tactics. Because its crude and violent policy – and it is recognized as such – of half a century failed, now it will test methods that intend to be more subtle to achieve the same ends.

We must accept the challenge and advance down that path without ever abandoning our principles. And always remembering Che’s visionary warning. Do not trust the imperialists “not even a little bit, not in anything.”

Exclusive: Interview With Maximilien Sánchez Arveláiz, Venezuelan Ambassador-Designate to the U.S.

Posted: Updated:
Dan Kovalik
Human rights attorney

Photo of Maximilien Sánchez Arveláiz (Courtesy of Venezuelan Embassy)

Dan: I was just reading that, even with the economic problems in Venezuela, the government has decided to press forward in fully funding its social programs.

MA: Yes definitely, we want to keep and maintain our social programs, and that is our priority, to take care of Venezuelan families. We already have some progress to show and we want to maintain that. . . . [W]hat’s going on in Venezuela for the last 10 years, and longer, and in the rest of the region, is a bit like The New Deal . . . and to a certain extent the Civil Rights Movement. We are talking about economic, social inclusion and political inclusion. . . .

Dan: And there has been a real decline in poverty and extreme poverty in Venezuela in the last 15 years?

MA: Yes, definitely. Remember when Chavez was elected in 1999, at that time . . . the poverty rate at that time stood around 42-45% and I think right now it has been reduced to 25%. And extreme poverty rate that fell [from 23.4%] to 7% and I think it was last year when the UN Food and Agriculture Organization recognized Venezuela as the leader in Latin America for the eradication of hunger. I think in 2014 again you have this Gini coefficient . . . [t]hat shows again that inequality fell even more in 2014. So, we are moving in the right direction. . . . See, World Bank figures.

Dan: I have recently been reading comparisons between Venezuela now and Chile in 1973, and I wonder if you think that is a fair comparison.

MA: Definitely, you know that wonderful documentary done by Patricio Guzman, The Battle of Chile? Maybe at that time it was in black and white, and now it is in color. But if you see some of the images, some of the sequences on that documentary and you look to Caracas now, you could find some similarities . . . for example, what President Maduro just denounced – the sabotage; the same recipe with the same ingredient. So, right now, they are trying to promote a coup on our economy. For the last two years, we have been facing hording, contraband and many forms of fraud in order to destabilize the distribution of food and obviously create the sensation of chaos and then you have all these pictures of people in long queues waiting to go the market. Again, the same trick. . . . I hope that we will not be able to make a “Battle of Venezuela,” or, if yes, the result in the end would be better.

Dan: Can you talk about the U.S.’s recently-imposed sanctions against Venezuela?

M.A.: In Venezuela, the sanctions could be seen as a green light for certain sectors of the opposition. So we will see what happens. In April, we will have the Summit of the Americas in Panama. So that’s going to be quite interesting to see where we are then. A few days ago at the CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean states) meeting in Costa Rica, there was a unanimous resolution condemning the unilateral imposition of sanctions by the U.S. upon Venezuela. All of the governments, all of the delegations, that were part of that summit, we are talking about all of the regions of Latin America, condemn it. . . .

Dan: I wonder if you could comment on Noam Chomsky’s statement that Chavez led the historic liberation of Latin America.

M.A.: I understand what Chomsky was saying, but I think that Chavez did not think of himself as a leader of the movement, but rather as a part of a cultural struggle to bring progress and provide for the basic necessities of the Venezuelan, and to some extent, all of the Latin American people. Now, it was true that when Chavez was elected in 1999, we were maybe the only ones in the region, with the clear exception of Cuba, who saw themselves as part of this struggle. But then after Chavez, and maybe because we were the avant-garde to some extent, you had other leaders who were elected — like Lula in Brazil, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Evo Morales in Bolivia — leaders that have been promoting social and political inclusion which are key elements to guaranteeing social development and democracy. So, yes, Chavez was an amazing leader. . . . You know, he was born in a mud hut. . . . He came from the very lower classes, and he never forgot where he came from. And, all his life he dedicated himself to help the poor and to improve their lives, and to some extent we can say that he died because of that and for them. . . . Similarly, Nicolas Maduro was a bus driver, he had a working class background, and he is somebody again who knows where he comes from as well, and will never forget that. . . . And, it is unfortunate that some people can’t accept that somebody that doesn’t come from the higher classes can lead their country.

Dan: When you refer to the Civil Rights Movement, it reminds me that when I was in Caracas during the elections in April 2013, I witnessed a pro-Maduro rally and what struck me was that nearly everyone at that rally was black. People in this country don’t think about the historic oppression of Afro-Venezuelans, and what the Chavista revolution has done for them.

MA: Yes, we are talking about people who were disenfranchised citizens, second-class citizens and they have now become a real part of society. Again, when we are talking about the Civil Rights movement in the 60’s it was quite violent actually here the reaction against this movement. Yes, you know, so you can understand how you could have sectors of Venezuelan society who might react in a certain violent manner against this process of inclusion. . . .