Category: Latin America
Ecuador Fights for Survival – Against its Elites

Date: Jul 4, 2015 6:36 PM

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/03/ecuador-fights-for-survival-against-its-elites/print

WEEKEND EDITION JULY 3-5, 2015
“US and Local Elites United Against Ecuador”

by ANDRE VLTCHEK
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

http://ideologicalfightback.com/thousands-of-guatemalans-protest-demand-resignation-of-their-president/
 

 

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.

 

SputnikNews.com, 10:57 17.05.2015 (updated 11:00 17.05.2015)

http://sputniknews.com/latam/20150517/1022234086.html

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.

Latin America not US backyard

John Wight is a writer and commentator specializing in geopolitics, UK domestic politics, culture and sport.
 http://rt.com/op-edge/248509-america-summit-us-cuba-venezuela/

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

http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/7315/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1322922

 

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.

SAMPLE EMAIL TEXT:

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.

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Modificado el ( jueves, 19 de febrero de 2015 )