Category: All Over

NEWS FROM ALL OVER are the news taking place around the world, especially in the global south.

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OUR NEWS section is a mesh of news selection that our editors have put together to keep our readers updated with what is happening in their community, Canada, Latin America and the world. We not only find news coverage from a number of news organizations, but we find our own stories too. We are interested in the stories from below. The stories that not too many people want to tell. We look for stories that are relevant to our community, and tell it how it is, and how it affects us.

Our team consists of a number of local analysts, partner experts, and organizations that support this collaborative effort to bring you a Latin American perspective of current issues.
We are always looking for new partners and opinion makers to add contributions.

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Subject: News

Cuba’s Other Internationalism: Angola 25 Years Later

By: Kevin Edmonds
NACLA
September 27, 2013

 

Cuba is rightly known worldwide for its many acts of humanitarian internationalism, exemplified by its numerous medical missions across the world.  However, one of Cuba’s greatest accomplishments has often been neglected in most corners of the mainstream press and academia due to a combination of the ongoing efforts to undermine and marginalize revolutionary Cuba and the ongoing legacy of the Cold War imperialist intervention that has largely influenced our collective understanding of history.

This October will mark the 25thanniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale – what Isaac Saney has called “Africa’s Stalingrad” due to its central role in striking a fatal blow against the occupation of South West Africa (now Namibia) and kick-starting negotiations with the African National Congress which would soon put an end to the rule of the racist apartheid system in South Africa.  Writing from prison, Nelson Mandela stressed that the battle of Cuito Cuanvalae “was the turning point for the liberation of our continent—and of my people—from the scourge of apartheid.”

From the eve of Angola’s independence in November 1975, South African Defense Forces, supported by the CIA, sought to assist UNITA (Union for the Total Liberation of Angola) in their attempt to seize power from the revolutionary government of the MLPA (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) by carrying out numerous invasions, incursions and sabotages within Angolan territory.  Given the prospect of potentially “losing” Angola, Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger bluntly proposed that “We might wish to encourage the disintegration of Angola.”  Using Zaire’s (now Congo) Mobutu as a channel for the aid, President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger approved Operation IA-FEATURE, which consisted of $40 million in funding and U.S. military trainers which sought to support UNITA and other anti-MPLA groups.

cuba_africa1_lead

The victory of Angola and Mozambique gaining independence was regarded as a destabilizing force – as the respective revolutionary governments instantly became important allies of anti-apartheid groups operating within South Africa.  Because of this, the apartheid government in South Africa viewed the newly independent countries of Angola and Mozambique as a threat to their hegemony in the region and regarded the United States as a welcome ally.

Responding to the requests of the newly independent Angolan government in 1975, the first contingent of Cuban troops arrived on Angolan soil.  They would be the first of many.  In addition to the deployment of troops and military equipment, Cuban military advice was central in defeating the South Africans at Cuito Cuanavale.

Cutio Cuanavale was a small town in the southeast of Angola located on the Cuito River – but became the site of the most intense fighting during the war. The battle for Cuito Cuanavale lasted roughly six months and at the time was the largest battle on African soil since World War 2.  The fighting took place on both the ground and in the sky, with Cuban pilots taking to the air in combat against the South African air force.  The stakes were so high for the South Africans that it has been revealed that the apartheid government was considering the use of nuclear weapons in an attack against Angola’s capital city of Luanda in order to prevent their own defeat.

Overall, the number of Cuban volunteers (including troops, educators and doctors) who served in Angola from 1975 to 1991 is officially estimated at over 300,000 – 2,000 of which whom lost their lives.

This is primarily the reason why Cuba was the first non-African country visited by Nelson Mandela following his release from prision in 1991.  Later at the 1995 Southern Africa Cuba Solidarity Conference, Mandela remarked that “Cubans came to our region as doctors, teachers, soldiers, agricultural experts, but never as colonizers.  They have shared the same trenches with us in the struggle against colonialism, underdevelopment, and apartheid.  Hundreds of Cubans have given their lives, literally, in a struggle that was, first and foremost, not theirs but ours. As Southern Africans we salute them. We vow never to forget this unparalleled example of selfless internationalism.”

Reflecting on the role of the Cubans in Angola, Ronnie Kasrils remarked that “Those patriots and internationalists were motivated by a single goal—the end of racial rule and genuine African independence.  After thirteen years defending Angolan sovereignty, the Cubans took nothing home except the bones of their fallen and Africa’s gratitude.”

 

For more information please read Piero Glijeses’ Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976

 

 

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VICTORY! Nicaragua Withdraws From The SOA

After the profound triumph that SOAW had a few months ago, where president Correa of Ecuador agreed to stop sending military and police personnel to WHINSEC/SOA, a delegation from School of the Americas Watch meets with president Ortega from Nicaragua to discuss why the country should not send its military to WHINSEC/SOA.

 

By:Lisa Sullivan/SOAW.org/September 5, 2012

 

The meeting came our last evening of a 9-day delegation co-sponsored by Nicaragua Network and the SOA Watch with 20 participants from around the US, as well as from Canada and the UK. Among the participants were SOAW Council member Ken Hayes, long time SOA Watch activist Mary Anne Perrone and SOA Watch activantes Amanda Jordan and Alejandro Ramirez. The delegation visited Esteli and Managua and met with many sectors of society, rural and urban communities, women and youth organizations, health and education centers, cooperatives,religious and ex-pat organizations. We also met with government officials, human rights representatives, media and opposition leaders.

In the meeting with the president we shared about how impressed we were with the positive strides to alleviate poverty that were strikingly visible to us: new homes, roofs, roads, water systems, as well as in the very upbeat and positive spirit that seems to permeate the country, especially among women, youth and sectors which were formally marginalized. We also shared that we were concerned that Nicaragua had continued to send troops to the SOA under the current government. This is surprising given the fact that the Somoza dictatorship was held up in large part due to National Guards trained at the SOA. We did note, however, that since our previous meeting with President Ortega in 2008 their numbers of Nicaraguan students had dropped dramatically from 78 in 2008 to 5 in 2011.

President Ortega shared with great honesty what a challenge it is to be such a small and impoverished nation with so much historic economic dependence on the US, while also lacking the natural resources that many nations of South America have. “We are a very fragile nation” he shared. He stressed the importance of the growing unity and support among Latin American nations, and expressed gratitude for their economic solidarity. This is, however, still is not sufficient to allow Nicaragua to be totally independent of the US, a nation that continues to punish Nicaragua for any slight step out of line by withholding their funds while also blocking other international funds destined for Nicaragua.

In spite of these extraordinary challenges, President Ortega affirmed that his country was taking a stand for sovereignty and dignity in many of its decisions, such as their recent decision to withdraw from the military pact of the OAS known as TIAR (Spanish acronym for Interamerican Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance).

In regard to the School of the Americas, President Ortega said: the SOA is an ethical and moral anathema. All of the countries of Latin America have been victims of its graduates. The SOA is a symbol of death, a symbol of terror. We have been gradually reducing our numbers of troops at the SOA, sending only five last year and none this year. We have now entered a new phase and we will NOT continue to send troops to the SOA. This is the least that we can do. We have been its victims.

After a long applause from the group, Alejandro Ramirez of Honduras asked if he could speak. With deep emotion, he thanked President Ortega in the name of his people of Honduras who continue to suffer grave repression under the regime that took power after the 2009 coup organized by SOA graduates. He passed the president a note that he had written before the meeting, saying that this was the greatest expression of solidarity that one Latin American nation could offer to another. He went on to tell him how his father had crossed borders from Honduras to Nicaragua to fight with the Sandinistas in the 70’s, until the 1979 victory. Ortega was visibly moved and gently pocketed the note and sent warm saludos to his father. I asked Ale how he possibly knew that President Ortega was going to respond affirmatively and he told me: I never lose hope, pointing to his shirt. It was a well worn tshirt with the face of Tomas Nativi, the disappeared husband of COFADEH director Bertha Olivia, the light that has given her the strength to stand up for human rights for two decades and counting.

We left the meeting both exuberant for this new victory and mindful that this is the first Central American country to withdraw its troops from the SOA. Once again in history, tiny Nicaragua sends a message of hope, of tenacity of integrity of solidarity and deep courage to Latin America and to the world. Nicaragua, Nicaraguita, ahora que vos sos libre te quiero mucho mas*

* famous song that says: Nicaragua, little Nicaragua, now that you are free, I love you even more

Note folks: Today Daniel’s wife Rosario is going to make the announcement by radio on her show. He asked Miguel D’Escoto (at whose home we met) to help prepare the statement.

Also, Elane Spivak Rodriguez recorded the entire meeting. It was excellent.

Abrazos,
Lisa Sullivan

 

***For more information of SOAW visit www.soaw.org

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Noam Chomsky: Why America and Israel Are the Greatest Threats to Peace

 

 

By: Noam Chomsky/Alternet.org/September 3, 2012

It is not easy to escape from one’s skin, to see the world differently from the way it is presented to us day after day. But it is useful to try. Let’s take a few examples.The war drums are beating ever more loudly over Iran. Imagine the situation to be reversed.

Iran is carrying out a murderous and destructive low-level war against Israel with great-power participation. Its leaders announce that negotiations are going nowhere. Israel refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow inspections, as Iran has done. Israel continues to defy the overwhelming international call for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region. Throughout, Iran enjoys the support of its superpower patron.

Iranian leaders are therefore announcing their intention to bomb Israel, and prominent Iranian military analysts report that the attack may happen before the U.S. elections.

Iran can use its powerful air force and new submarines sent by Germany, armed with nuclear missiles and stationed off the coast of Israel. Whatever the timetable, Iran is counting on its superpower backer to join if not lead the assault. U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta says that while we do not favor such an attack, as a sovereign country Iran will act in its best interests.

All unimaginable, of course, though it is actually happening, with the cast of characters reversed. True, analogies are never exact, and this one is unfair – to Iran.

Like its patron, Israel resorts to violence at will. It persists in illegal settlement in occupied territory, some annexed, all in brazen defiance of international law and the U.N. Security Council. It has repeatedly carried out brutal attacks against Lebanon and the imprisoned people of Gaza, killing tens of thousands without credible pretext.

Thirty years ago Israel destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor, an act that has recently been praised, avoiding the strong evidence, even from U.S. intelligence, that the bombing did not end Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program but rather initiated it. Bombing of Iran might have the same effect.

Iran too has carried out aggression – but during the past several hundred years, only under the U.S.-backed regime of the shah, when it conquered Arab islands in the Persian Gulf.

Iran engaged in nuclear development programs under the shah, with the strong support of official Washington. The Iranian government is brutal and repressive, as are Washington’s allies in the region. The most important ally, Saudi Arabia, is the most extreme Islamic fundamentalist regime, and spends enormous funds spreading its radical Wahhabist doctrines elsewhere. The gulf dictatorships, also favored U.S. allies, have harshly repressed any popular effort to join the Arab Spring.

The Nonaligned Movement – the governments of most of the world’s population – is now meeting in Teheran. The group has vigorously endorsed Iran’s right to enrich uranium, and some members – India, for example – adhere to the harsh U.S. sanctions program only partially and reluctantly.

The NAM delegates doubtless recognize the threat that dominates discussion in the West, lucidly articulated by Gen. Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command: “It is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East,” one nation should arm itself with nuclear weapons, which “inspires other nations to do so.”

Butler is not referring to Iran, but to Israel, which is regarded in the Arab countries and in Europe as posing the greatest threat to peace In the Arab world, the United States is ranked second as a threat, while Iran, though disliked, is far less feared. Indeed in many polls majorities hold that the region would be more
secure if Iran had nuclear weapons to balance the threats they perceive.

If Iran is indeed moving toward nuclear-weapons capability – this is still unknown to U.S. intelligence – that may be because it is “inspired to do so” by the U.S.-Israeli threats, regularly issued in explicit violation of the U.N. Charter.

Why then is Iran the greatest threat to world peace, as seen in official Western discourse? The primary reason is acknowledged by U.S. military and intelligence and their Israeli counterparts: Iran might deter the resort to force by the United States and Israel.

Furthermore Iran must be punished for its “successful defiance,” which was Washington’s charge against Cuba half a century ago, and still the driving force for the U.S. assault against Cuba that continues despite international condemnation.

Other events featured on the front pages might also benefit from a different perspective. Suppose that Julian Assange had leaked Russian documents revealing important information that Moscow wanted to conceal from the public, and that circumstances were otherwise identical.

Sweden would not hesitate to pursue its sole announced concern, accepting the offer to interrogate Assange in London. It would declare that if Assange returned to Sweden (as he has agreed to do), he would not be extradited to Russia, where chances of a fair trial would be slight.

Sweden would be honored for this principled stand. Assange would be praised for performing a public service – which, of course, would not obviate the need to take the accusations against him as seriously as in all such cases.

The most prominent news story of the day here is the U.S. election. An appropriate perspective was provided by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who held that “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”

Guided by that insight, coverage of the election should focus on the impact of wealth on policy, extensively analyzed in the recent study “Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America” by Martin Gilens. He found that the vast majority are “powerless to shape government policy” when their preferences diverge from the affluent, who pretty much get what they want when it matters to them.

Small wonder, then, that in a recent ranking of the 31 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of social justice, the United States placed 27th, despite its extraordinary advantages.

Or that rational treatment of issues tends to evaporate in the electoral campaign, in ways sometimes verging on comedy.

To take one case, Paul Krugman reports that the much-admired Big Thinker of the Republican Party, Paul Ryan, declares that he derives his ideas about the financial system from a character in a fantasy novel – “Atlas Shrugged” – who calls for the use of gold coins instead of paper currency.

It only remains to draw from a really distinguished writer, Jonathan Swift. In “Gulliver’s Travels,” his sages of Lagado carry all their goods with them in packs on their backs, and thus could use them for barter without the encumbrance of gold. Then the economy and democracy could truly flourish – and best of all, inequality would sharply decline, a gift to the spirit of Justice Brandeis.

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School Out? Not Yet…The New York Times and the School of Assassins

By: Joan Roelofs/Counterpunch.org/August 19, 2012

 

On Saturday, August 11, The New York Times printed a front page article about the nun, Sister Megan Rice, age 82, who committed civil disobedience at the Oak Ridge Tennessee nuclear reservation in a protest against nuclear weapons.  The article also informs us that she had been arrested in 1998 protesting at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia.  The Times then notes that some of the trainees from that school “went on to commit human rights abuses.”  You might think of denials of same-sex partner medical benefits, or censorship of soldiers’ mail; in fact, the abuses were (and still are) assassination, torture, and military overthrow of elected governments.

The  Times then states: “The school has since been closed.”  This is not the case at all.  The name has been changed to Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, with the same curriculum.

The SOA, aka WHISC, is probably the best known locale of foreign military training, because of the vigil and civil disobedience organized every November by the School of the Americas Watch organization.  Some mainstream news sources note this event; The New York Timesusually ignores it.  Perhaps that is why they think the school is closed; if it is not in the NYT, it can’t possibly exist.

SOA graduates include the murderers of Jesuit priests, the lay missionary and 3 nuns, Archbishop Romero, and the El Mazote massacre of 900 civilians in El Salvador; and many other victims. SOA training manuals advocate torture. The recent overthrow of Honduras government was the work of graduates of SOA.  Other alumni are Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia.

Ecuador, Costa Rica, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela have withdrawn participation in SOA.

“Multicultural” education doesn’t stop with the SOA.  More than 200 institutions in the US train foreign military personnel, and US military sponsored training occurs all over the world, in our overseas institutions and in situ. The 571 page State Department Report on Foreign Military Training for 2010 indicates that approximately 67,100 students from 159 countries participated.

“Education” is offered through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program, and activities funded through Defense and State Departments. All armament sales are accompanied by training.  The State Department International Military Education and Training (IMET) is a major offering. The Expanded IMET (E-IMET) program (arising from criticism of our past trainees’ post-graduate projects—assassination, torture, military takeovers, etc.) is supposed to teach respect for civilian control of the military, human rights, and belief in the rule of law.

Among the DOD programs is Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET).  US Special Operations Forces (SOF) train “with friendly foreign forces. . . The primary purpose of JCET is always the training of US SOF personnel, although incidental training benefits may accrue to the foreign forces.”

Programs exist for combating terrorism, counter-narcotics training, humanitarian demining, and a whole university of military and civilian subjects.  Civilian government leaders of many countries are also invited and participate in the trainings.

The WHISC brags that it teaches peaceful skills such as public administration, but the purpose is clear: when the troops take over a country they have to know how to do it.  Perhaps the DOD has learned from the experience of Lawrence of Arabia: his men captured Damascus, but didn’t have any public administration skills, so lost it.

Each branch of the military has its own network of schools, the military academies have exchange programs, there are regional centers, and civilian institutions have foreign military students. Even military prep schools can get into the picture; some start at pre-Kindergarten. Private contractors also perform training.

Some examples of participating institutions among the 200 are the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (In D.C., Senegal, and Ethiopia); the US Army JFK Special Warfare Center and School, Fort Bragg, NC for Special Forces training (Green Berets); and the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies (Marshall Center).

Land-grant universities were originally planned to include military training, and they are today important centers for these programs. Indonesian special forces—Kopassus—were trained at Norwich University in Vermont. When this was revealed by a reporter, a scandal ensued, the reporter was fired from her newspaper, and the program was shut down. However, the University’s president recently announced that the relationship was resuming.

Among the many countries participating in our military training are Sweden and Switzerland, sometimes thought to be neutral.  They are affiliated with NATO, in a “Partnership for Peace” status.  So also is Russia, and its troops joined ours in anti-terrorism training this May in Colorado.  Another odd grantee is the tiny Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, as Lora Lumpe points out in her excellent 2002 Report on military training.

One goal of these programs is to enable foreign military forces to support combined operations and “interoperability” with US forces. Military hardware is also advertised and demonstrated, being an important part of US exports.

The larger picture is positioning the US as a “holding company” for all the world’s militaries. These are also being groomed to penetrate civilian governments, in some cases by the old fashioned military coup. More sinister is the influence our past trainees, now heavily represented in foreign defense ministries, exert on the temporary elected governments in countries considered democracies—especially those considered the most democratic, such as Sweden and Denmark. Currently fashionable “networking” is indeed a potent technique of US domination.

Joan Roelofs is Professor Emerita of Political Science, Keene State College, New Hampshire. She is the translator of Victor Considerant’s Principles of Socialism (Maisonneuve Press, 2006), and author of Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (SUNY Press, 2003) and Greening Cities (Rowman and Littlefield, 1996). Web site: www.joanroelofs.wordpress.com Contact: joan.roelofs@myfairpoint.net

 

 

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Assange calls on US to end ‘witchhunt’

Source: Aljazeera

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has called on the United States to end what he described as a “witchhunt” against him in a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he is living under political asylum.

Assange, who sought shelter inside the embassy on June 19, was on Thursday granted asylum by Ecuador as he seeks to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over sexual misconduct allegations.

Speaking on Sunday from a balcony off a room in the embassy, Assange thanked Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa for the “courage he has shown” in granting him asylum.

Assange has said his extradition to Sweden is the first step in a process that will see him sent to the United States, where he believes he will be prosecuted for espionage in connection with the volumes of US government documents which WikiLeaks has released.

Britain has pledged not to let Assange leave the country, but has shied away from suggestions it could detain him while he remains inside the embassy, though police officers are stationed both outside and inside the building that houses the embassy’s offices.

Ecuador has said it is “deeply shocked” by “threats” to enter the embassy to seize Assange, and neighbouring countries have backed Ecuador in its war of words with Britain.

Foreign ministers from the Union of South American Nations bloc strongly supported Correa’s government, saying diplomatic missions must be protected and condemning Britain’s “threat to use force” after the foreign office warned it could raid the embassy.

“We show our solidarity and back the government of the Republic of Ecuador against the threat to violate the premises of its diplomatic mission,” the Secretary-General of UNASUR, Ali Rodrigez, read in an emergency session on Sunday.

Assange also called for the release of Bradley Manning, a US soldier who is awaiting trial after being charged with spying for passing secret files to WikiLeaks.

“If Bradley Manning did as he is accused, he is a hero and an example to all of us and one of the world’s foremost political prisoners,” Assange said. “The US administration’s war on whistle-blowers must end.”

‘Unity in repression’

The 41-year-old Australian also highlighted the cases of Bahraini rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who was sentenced last week to three years for participating in “unauthorised” protests, and Russian punk activist group Pussy Riot, whose members were given a two year-sentence on charges “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”.

“There is unity in the oppression,” said Assange. “There must be absolute unity and determination in the response.”

Assange jumped bail and took sanctuary in the embassy after losing appeals in British courts against his extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual offences against two women.

Correa says there is sufficient reason to fear Assange would be denied due process in the United States and could face life in prison or even the death penalty.

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said his country had not yet decided whether to appeal to the United Nations over the dispute. He said it would await the outcome of a meeting set for Friday in Washington of foreign ministers of the Organization of American States, which includes the United States and Canada.

The US State Department said the struggle over Assange’s status was a matter between Ecuador, Britain and Sweden, and Washington had no plans to interject itself into the dispute.

Assange has not yet been formally charged with any crimes in either Sweden or the US.

 

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