Category: Around

NEWS FROM AROUND will look for the stories that concern our community in Canada. We will focus on the stories that other news outlets are not covering, and we will maintain an interest in what our young people are doing to promote their identity in Canada.

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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.

If you are one of them contact us at:

info@surla.org
Subject: News

The Right to Live in Peace; a two day event

THE RIGHT TO LIVE IN PEACE ART EXHIBIT

ALLENDE

A multimedia exhibition to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the CIA-sponsored military coup in Chile which deposed the democratic government of Salvador Allende. The exhibition is an opportunity to reflect on this period in history which for many marked the beginning of the slide to neoliberal economy and politics and to hear voices calling for equity and justice.

Collective Alas rescues and salvages artifacts that at one point were designated subversive, and as a consequence dangerous to the military regime of Agusto Pinochet (1973-1990). Alas gathers magazines, film, newspaper articles, books, audio cassettes, vinyl, and posters that were destroyed by the military. During this period, people risked their lives to preserve these items. Poetry, music and articles were considered subversive because they denounced a dictatorial regime. Alas’ mission is to reflect on our collective memory and work towards greater understanding, justice and human rights for all.

When: Friday, September 13, 2013 @ 7pm

Where: Medium London, 870 Dundas St. East, London, Ontario

THE RIGHT TO LIVE IN PEACE DOCUMENTARY

Victor Jara The Right to Live In Peace

A DOCUMENTARY FILM ON THE LIFE OF CHILEAN SINGER SONGWRITER

VICTOR JARA BY CARMEN LUZ PAROT (English sub-titles)

40 years ago, Victor Jara was brutally tortured and killed in a stadium-turned concentration camp- by Pinochet`s henchmen.
They broke his hands and murdered him but his spirit and his songs live on in the hearts and minds of millions around the world.
Please join us in paying tribute to one of the greatest cultural icons of Latin America.

WHEN: SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14TH, 7 PM
WHERE: KING`S UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, VITALI LOUNGE, 266 EPWORTH AVENUE

FREE ADMISSION. DONATIONS APPRECIATED

Sponsored by the Latin American-Canadian Solidarity Association (LACASA)
King`s University College Centre for Social Concern and
People for Peace London
SURLA ORG

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Construyendo la paz en Colombia; Lecciones de la conferencia de Claudia López

Construyendo la paz en Colombia; Lecciones de la conferencia de Claudia López

Claudia López visito London para la clausura de su corto tour en Ontario, el pasado Martes 2 de Abril  en Western University. En una sala de Kings University College, con más de 80 personas, Claudia López nos conto con cifras y estadísticas sus expectativas hacia las negociaciones de paz que están tomando lugar en La Habana entre la guerrilla de las FARC, y el gobierno colombiano. La mayoría conocemos a Claudia López, pero para los que no la conocen, ella es una de las analistas políticas más importantes de Colombia. Su experiencia en la política desde la sociedad civil tiene una trayectoria de más de dos décadas. Como estudiante de universidad fue promotora y una de las líderes del movimiento Séptima Papeleta, el cual promovió la reforma que llevaría a la instalación de la Asamblea Constituyente que desarrollo  la Constitución de 1991. Como consultora para las Naciones Unidas estuvo a cargo del programa de desarrollo de buen gobierno en más de 10 países de Latinoamérica.  Como periodista desenmascaro la relación entre políticos y grupos paramilitares, lo cual llevo a la captura de más de 25 congresistas colombianos. Y como investigadora de la Corporación Nuevo Arcoíris ha contribuido en la publicación de los reportes más profundos sobre la realidad del conflicto colombiano. En otras palabras, Claudia López es una formadora de opinión comprometida con la promoción de la  democracia y la paz en Colombia.

Lecciones comparativas

En su presentación de más de una hora, Claudia planteo como referencia los más de siete procesos de paz que llevaron a la desmovilización de seis grupos guerrilleros y el grupo paramilitar más grande del hemisferio occidental. Para ella, esta referencia es el punto de partida para explicar que así como Colombia tiene mucha experiencia de guerra, también ha tenido mucha experiencia de paz, o mejor dicho en negociaciones de paz. Es por eso que tenemos que tomar esas experiencias y llevarlas a la práctica en este nuevo proceso que se lleva a cabo con la guerrilla de las FARC, la más antigua y numerosa guerrilla  del continente.

Para Claudia el proceso de paz con el grupo paramilitar AUC es una experiencia particular a seguir comparativamente dada la escala y el tamaño del grupo armado, al igual que la coyuntura nacional. Hay un punto importante que considerar cuando se compara el proceso con las AUC y el proceso reciente con las FARC. Las AUC entraron a la negociación de paz con el gobierno en su momento de mayor auge militar, económico, y político. Las FARC por otro lado están entrando a las negociaciones de paz en su momento más débil, en relación a su capacidad militar y de control territorial. En negociaciones anteriores con grupos guerrilleros el gobierno colombiano ofrecía, efectivamente,  que los grupos armados dejaran las armas y a cambio entraran en política, y por supuesto este es el caso reciente con las FARC. El problema con la negociación con las AUC era, que se les puede ofrecer a un grupo que ya impuso esa representación política con más de 30 senadores en el congreso, 200 alcaldes alrededor del país y 7 gobernadores trabajando para ellos. Lo que se genero entonces con las AUC en Santa Fe de Rialito fue el más descarado e impune proceso de paz y desmovilización de la historia del país.

Santa Fe de Rialito se convirtió en una total farsa donde los grupos paramilitares aliados con políticos pertenecientes a la coalición del gobierno de Álvaro Uribe, crearon un proceso donde saldrían librados judicialmente y donde podrían legalizar su capital, el cual tomaron como botín de guerra después de masacres, desplazamientos y enriquecimiento por medio del narcotráfico.

Aprendiendo de la  experiencia con las AUC y entendiendo que las FARC están en su momento más débil se puede entender que las condiciones para el gobierno son más beneficiosas y lo que se está cocinando en La Habana entre las FARC y el gobierno no podrá ser una receta para la impunidad.

Mejor la negociación de paz que la continuación de la guerra

La paz no llegara simplemente cuando se firme un tratado de paz entre las FARC y el gobierno. La paz empieza a construirse cuando se firma ese tratado, pero el trabajo de ahí en adelante es más duro que llegar a la mesa de negociación. Claudia nos recuerda que van a haber dificultades y errores como lo ha habido en las pasadas negociaciones de paz, pero eso no quiere decir que no sea importante tomar la iniciativa para intentarlo. Se espera con las FARC, que al igual que las bandas neo-paramilitares o BACRIM, haya integrantes de sus filas que no se desmovilicen y se integren a otros grupos armados. Pero Claudia muestra el impacto que podría generar si al menos la mitad de los miembros de las FARC se desmovilizaran. Si eso ocurriera, la fuerza pública (es decir soldados tan campesinos, tan pobres, tan jóvenes, como muchos miembros de las FARC), dejaría de perder al menos 2,000 soldados anuales. Por ende eso ya es un paso muy grande hacia el mejoramiento del conflicto. Pero ese sería solo un paso hacia la paz.

En el proceso de justicia transicional  que se dará, se intentara aplicar una serie de herramientas y mecanismos que se utilizan para llevar a un país de una situación de conflicto, a una resolución pacífica y de transición democrática. Pero la justicia transicional no es un sistema perfecto en el cual todas las personas salen contentas. El hecho es que a lo que se quiere llegar es a un proceso en el que las FARC dejen las armas, se integren a la vida política del país y pare el sufrimiento de una gran parte de la población.

La guerra une, la paz desune

Claudia toma esta frase para referirse a la reciente disputa entre las elites colombianas representadas por el presidente Santos y el ex presidente Uribe. Lo que estamos viendo, dice Claudia, es como el proceso de paz ha sido posible gracias a la división de las elites. Por diez años el enemigo común mantuvo unidas a las elites al son de la guerra contra las FARC, pero en el momento en que se habla de paz con ese grupo insurgente, los dividen y se facilita el dialogo entre antiguos enemigos. Pero esta fricción no va a ser algo que se quiere ver un país que está implementando un proceso de paz. Al contrario, lo que tienen que hacer entonces es unirse para trabajar por esa paz. Para Claudia, los TWITTS de Álvaro Uribe en contra del proceso de paz no nos deberían importar tanto, ya que entenderlo es parte del proceso de paz, en donde una persona por mas sospechas o culpabilidad que puedan tener en el conflicto, pueda opinar sin que se presenten actos de violencia. Es ahí a donde se dará la paz. Cuando podamos hacer política sin violencia.

Si a la Paz en Colombia

Las lecciones que se pueden aprender de Claudia López son muy importantes para entender el conflicto armado colombiano y lo que podemos hacer para contribuir a la paz.
Por mi parte y por medio de SURLA ORG, el grupo que organizo el tour de Claudia López en Ontario, me comprometer a acompañar las negociaciones de paz y seguirlas de cerca para asegurar que se llegue a un acuerdo y se cumplan los mandatos. Desde la sociedad civil se puede trabajar, como lo ha hecho Claudia López por más de dos décadas, luchando sin miedo. Podemos demostrar que sin las armas podemos hacer una Colombia digna, en paz, y con justicia social.

Los invito a unirse a la campaña, SI A LA PAZ EN COLOMBIA, la cual nació en London, Ontario de jóvenes que queremos ver la paz en Colombia. Intégrense por facebook, o escribanos a sialapazencolombia@gmail.com nuestra página web estará disponible en los próximos días.

Nota: El video de la conferencia estará disponible la en: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bopgcc7pw2U

Le enviamos un cordial saludo y agradecimiento a Claudia López por acompañarnos en Ontario, y por todo su trabajo el cual ha inspirado a muchas personas.

Agradecemos también al Centre for Social Concern en Kings University Collge, Transitional Justice Centre en Western University, SURLA@Kings, y Colombia en London.
Juan Diego Castro
Coordinador Nacional
SURLA ORG
www.surla.org

 

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The Week the World Stood Still: The Cuban Missile Crisis and Ownership of the World

By: Noam Chomsky/Tomdispatch.com/October 15, 2012

The world stood still 50 years ago during the last week of October, from the moment when it learned that the Soviet Union had placed nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba until the crisis was officially ended — though unknown to the public, only officially.

The image of the world standing still is the turn of phrase of Sheldon Stern, former historian at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, who published the authoritative version of the tapes of the ExComm meetings where Kennedy and a close circle of advisers debated how to respond to the crisis. Those meetings were secretly recorded by the president, which might bear on the fact that his stand throughout the recorded sessions is relatively temperate compared to other participants, who were unaware that they were speaking to history.

Stern has just published an accessible and accurate review of this critically important documentary record, finally declassified in the late 1990s. I will keep to that here. “Never before or since,” he concludes, “has the survival of human civilization been at stake in a few short weeks of dangerous deliberations,” culminating in “the week the world stood still.”

There was good reason for the global concern. A nuclear war was all too imminent, a war that might “destroy the Northern Hemisphere,” President Dwight Eisenhower had warned. Kennedy’s own judgment was that the probability of war might have been as high as 50%. Estimates became higher as the confrontation reached its peak and the “secret doomsday plan to ensure the survival of the government was put into effect” in Washington, as described by journalist Michael Dobbs in his well-researched bestseller on the crisis (though he doesn’t explain why there would be much point in doing so, given the likely nature of nuclear war).

Dobbs quotes Dino Brugioni, “a key member of the CIA team monitoring the Soviet missile buildup,” who saw no way out except “war and complete destruction” as the clock moved to “one minute to midnight,” the title of his book. Kennedy’s close associate, historian Arthur Schlesinger, described the events as “the most dangerous moment in human history.” Defense Secretary Robert McNamara wondered aloud whether he “would live to see another Saturday night,” and later recognized that “we lucked out” — barely.

“The Most Dangerous Moment”

A closer look at what took place adds grim overtones to these judgments, with reverberations to the present moment.

There are several candidates for “the most dangerous moment.” One is October 27th, when U.S. destroyers enforcing a quarantine around Cuba were dropping depth charges on Soviet submarines. According to Soviet accounts, reported by the National Security Archive, submarine commanders were “rattled enough to talk about firing nuclear torpedoes, whose 15 kiloton explosive yields approximated the bomb that devastated Hiroshima in August 1945.”

In one case, a reported decision to assemble a nuclear torpedo for battle readiness was aborted at the last minute by Second Captain Vasili Arkhipov, who may have saved the world from nuclear disaster. There is little doubt what the U.S. reaction would have been had the torpedo been fired, or how the Russians would have responded as their country was going up in smoke.

Kennedy had already declared the highest nuclear alert short of launch (DEFCON 2), which authorized “NATO aircraft with Turkish pilots … [or others] … to take off, fly to Moscow, and drop a bomb,” according to the well-informed Harvard University strategic analyst Graham Allison, writing in the major establishment journal Foreign Affairs.

Another candidate is October 26th. That day has been selected as “the most dangerous moment” by B-52 pilot Major Don Clawson, who piloted one of those NATO aircraft and provides a hair-raising description of details of the Chrome Dome (CD) missions during the crisis — “B-52s on airborne alert” with nuclear weapons “on board and ready to use.”

October 26th was the day when “the nation was closest to nuclear war,” he writes in his “irreverent anecdotes of an Air Force pilot,” Is That Something the Crew Should Know? On that day, Clawson himself was in a good position to set off a likely terminal cataclysm. He concludes, “We were damned lucky we didn’t blow up the world — and no thanks to the political or military leadership of this country.”

The errors, confusions, near-accidents, and miscomprehension of the leadership that Clawson reports are startling enough, but nothing like the operative command-and-control rules — or lack of them. As Clawson recounts his experiences during the 15 24-hour CD missions he flew, the maximum possible, the official commanders “did not possess the capability to prevent a rogue-crew or crew-member from arming and releasing their thermonuclear weapons,” or even from broadcasting a mission that would have sent off “the entire Airborne Alert force without possibility of recall.” Once the crew was airborne carrying thermonuclear weapons, he writes, “it would have been possible to arm and drop them all with no further input from the ground. There was no inhibitor on any of the systems.”

About one-third of the total force was in the air, according to General David Burchinal, director of plans on the Air Staff at Air Force Headquarters. The Strategic Air Command (SAC), technically in charge, appears to have had little control. And according to Clawson’s account, the civilian National Command Authority was kept in the dark by SAC, which means that the ExComm “deciders” pondering the fate of the world knew even less. General Burchinal’s oral history is no less hair-raising, and reveals even greater contempt for the civilian command. According to him, Russian capitulation was never in doubt. The CD operations were designed to make it crystal clear to the Russians that they were hardly even competing in the military confrontation, and could quickly have been destroyed.

From the ExComm records, Stern concludes that, on October 26th, President Kennedy was “leaning towards military action to eliminate the missiles” in Cuba, to be followed by invasion, according to Pentagon plans. It was evident then that the act might have led to terminal war, a conclusion fortified by much later revelations that tactical nuclear weapons had been deployed and that Russian forces were far greater than U.S. intelligence had reported.

As the ExComm meetings were drawing to a close at 6 p.m. on the 26th, a letter arrived from Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev, sent directly to President Kennedy. His “message seemed clear,” Stern writes: “the missiles would be removed if the U.S. promised not to invade Cuba.”

The next day, at 10 am, the president again turned on the secret tape. He read aloud a wire service report that had just been handed to him: “Premier Khrushchev told President Kennedy in a message today he would withdraw offensive weapons from Cuba if the United States withdrew its rockets from Turkey” — Jupiter missiles with nuclear warheads. The report was soon authenticated.

Though received by the committee as an unexpected bolt from the blue, it had actually been anticipated: “we’ve known this might be coming for a week,” Kennedy informed them. To refuse public acquiescence would be difficult, he realized. These were obsolete missiles, already slated for withdrawal, soon to be replaced by far more lethal and effectively invulnerable Polaris submarines. Kennedy recognized that he would be in an “insupportable position if this becomes [Khrushchev’s] proposal,” both because the Turkish missiles were useless and were being withdrawn anyway, and because “it’s gonna — to any man at the United Nations or any other rational man, it will look like a very fair trade.”

Keeping U.S. Power Unrestrained

The planners therefore faced a serious dilemma. They had in hand two somewhat different proposals from Khrushchev to end the threat of catastrophic war, and each would seem to any “rational man” to be a fair trade. How then to react?

One possibility would have been to breathe a sigh of relief that civilization could survive and to eagerly accept both offers; to announce that the U.S. would adhere to international law and remove any threat to invade Cuba; and to carry forward the withdrawal of the obsolete missiles in Turkey, proceeding as planned to upgrade the nuclear threat against the Soviet Union to a far greater one — only part, of course, of the global encirclement of Russia. But that was unthinkable.

The basic reason why no such thought could be contemplated was spelled out by National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, former Harvard dean and reputedly the brightest star in the Camelot firmament. The world, he insisted, must come to understand that “[t]he current threat to peace is not in Turkey, it is in Cuba,” where missiles were directed against the U.S. A vastly more powerful U.S. missile force trained on the much weaker and more vulnerable Soviet enemy could not possibly be regarded as a threat to peace, because we are Good, as a great many people in the Western hemisphere and beyond could testify — among numerous others, the victims of the ongoing terrorist war that the U.S. was then waging against Cuba, or those swept up in the “campaign of hatred” in the Arab world that so puzzled Eisenhower, though not the National Security Council, which explained it clearly.

Of course, the idea that the U.S. should be restrained by international law was too ridiculous to merit consideration. As explained recently by the respected left-liberal commentator Matthew Yglesias, “one of the main functions of the international institutional order is precisely to legitimate the use of deadly military force by western powers” — meaning the U.S. — so that it is “amazingly naïve,” indeed quite “silly,” to suggest that it should obey international law or other conditions that we impose on the powerless. This was a frank and welcome exposition of operative assumptions, reflexively taken for granted by the ExComm assemblage.

In subsequent colloquy, the president stressed that we would be “in a bad position” if we chose to set off an international conflagration by rejecting proposals that would seem quite reasonable to survivors (if any cared). This “pragmatic” stance was about as far as moral considerations could reach.

In a review of recently released documents on Kennedy-era terror, Harvard University Latin Americanist Jorge Domínguez observes, “Only once in these nearly thousand pages of documentation did a U.S. official raise something that resembled a faint moral objection to U.S.-government sponsored terrorism”: a member of the National Security Council staff suggested that raids that are “haphazard and kill innocents… might mean a bad press in some friendly countries.”

The same attitudes prevailed throughout the internal discussions during the missile crisis, as when Robert Kennedy warned that a full-scale invasion of Cuba would “kill an awful lot of people, and we’re going to take an awful lot of heat on it.” And they prevail to the present, with only the rarest of exceptions, as easily documented.

We might have been “in even a worse position” if the world had known more about what the U.S. was doing at the time. Only recently was it learned that, six months earlier, the U.S. had secretly deployed missiles in Okinawa virtually identical to those the Russians would send to Cuba. These were surely aimed at China at a moment of elevated regional tensions. To this day, Okinawa remains a major offensive U.S. military base over the bitter objections of its inhabitants who, right now, are less than enthusiastic about the dispatch of accident-prone V-22 Osprey helicopters to the Futenma military base, located at the heart of a heavily populated urban center.

An Indecent Disrespect for the Opinions of Humankind

The deliberations that followed are revealing, but I will put them aside here. They did reach a conclusion. The U.S. pledged to withdraw the obsolete missiles from Turkey, but would not do so publicly or put the offer in writing: it was important that Khrushchev be seen to capitulate. An interesting reason was offered, and is accepted as reasonable by scholarship and commentary. As Dobbs puts it, “If it appeared that the United States was dismantling the missile bases unilaterally, under pressure from the Soviet Union, the [NATO] alliance might crack” — or to rephrase a little more accurately, if the U.S. replaced useless missiles with a far more lethal threat, as already planned, in a trade with Russia that any “rational man” would regard as very fair, then the NATO alliance might crack.

To be sure, when Russia withdrew Cuba’s only deterrent against an ongoing U.S. attack — with a severe threat to proceed to direct invasion still in the air — and quietly departed from the scene, the Cubans would be infuriated (as, in fact, they understandably were). But that is an unfair comparison for the standard reasons: we are human beings who matter, while they are merely “unpeople,” to adapt George Orwell’s useful phrase.

Kennedy also made an informal pledge not to invade Cuba, but with conditions: not just the withdrawal of the missiles, but also termination, or at least “a great lessening,” of any Russian military presence. (Unlike Turkey, on Russia’s borders, where nothing of the kind could be contemplated.) When Cuba is no longer an “armed camp,” then “we probably wouldn’t invade,” in the president’s words. He added that, if it hoped to be free from the threat of U.S. invasion, Cuba must end its “political subversion” (Stern’s phrase) in Latin America. “Political subversion” had been a constant theme for years, invoked for example when Eisenhower overthrew the parliamentary government of Guatemala and plunged that tortured country into an abyss from which it has yet to emerge. And these themes remained alive and well right through Ronald Reagan’s vicious terror wars in Central America in the 1980s. Cuba’s “political subversion” consisted of support for those resisting the murderous assaults of the U.S. and its client regimes, and sometimes even perhaps — horror of horrors — providing arms to the victims.

The usage is standard. Thus, in 1955, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had outlined “three basic forms of aggression.” The first was armed attack across a border, that is, aggression as defined in international law. The second was “overt armed attack from within the area of each of the sovereign states,” as when guerrilla forces undertake armed resistance against a regime backed or imposed by Washington, though not of course when “freedom fighters” resist an official enemy. The third: “Aggression other than armed, i.e., political warfare, or subversion.” The primary example at the time was South Vietnam, where the United States was defending a free people from “internal aggression,” as Kennedy’s U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson explained — from “an assault from within” in the president’s words.

Though these assumptions are so deeply embedded in prevailing doctrine as to be virtually invisible, they are occasionally articulated in the internal record. In the case of Cuba, the State Department Policy Planning Council explained that “the primary danger we face in Castro is… in the impact the very existence of his regime has upon the leftist movement in many Latin American countries… The simple fact is that Castro represents a successful defiance of the US, a negation of our whole hemispheric policy of almost a century and a half,” since the Monroe Doctrine announced Washington’s intention, then unrealizable, to dominate the Western hemisphere.

Not the Russians of that moment then, but rather the right to dominate, a leading principle of foreign policy found almost everywhere, though typically concealed in defensive terms: during the Cold War years, routinely by invoking the “Russian threat,” even when Russians were nowhere in sight. An example of great contemporary import is revealed in Iran scholar Ervand Abrahamian’s important upcoming book of the U.S.-U.K. coup that overthrew the parliamentary regime of Iran in 1953. With scrupulous examination of internal records, he shows convincingly that standard accounts cannot be sustained. The primary causes were not Cold War concerns, nor Iranian irrationality that undermined Washington’s “benign intentions,” nor even access to oil or profits, but rather the way the U.S. demand for “overall controls” — with its broader implications for global dominance — was threatened by independent nationalism.

That is what we discover over and over by investigating particular cases, including Cuba (not surprisingly) though the fanaticism in that particular case might merit examination. U.S. policy towards Cuba is harshly condemned throughout Latin America and indeed most of the world, but “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind” is understood to be meaningless rhetoric intoned mindlessly on July 4th. Ever since polls have been taken on the matter, a considerable majority of the U.S. population has favored normalization of relations with Cuba, but that too is insignificant.

Dismissal of public opinion is of course quite normal. What is interesting in this case is dismissal of powerful sectors of U.S. economic power, which also favor normalization, and are usually highly influential in setting policy: energy, agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, and others. That suggests that, in addition to the cultural factors revealed in the hysteria of the Camelot intellectuals, there is a powerful state interest involved in punishing Cubans.

Saving the World from the Threat of Nuclear Destruction

The missile crisis officially ended on October 28th. The outcome was not obscure. That evening, in a special CBS News broadcast, Charles Collingwood reported that the world had come out “from under the most terrible threat of nuclear holocaust since World War II” with a “humiliating defeat for Soviet policy.” Dobbs comments that the Russians tried to pretend that the outcome was “yet another triumph for Moscow’s peace-loving foreign policy over warmongering imperialists,” and that “[t]he supremely wise, always reasonable Soviet leadership had saved the world from the threat of nuclear destruction.”

Extricating the basic facts from the fashionable ridicule, Khrushchev’s agreement to capitulate had indeed “saved the world from the threat of nuclear destruction.”

The crisis, however, was not over. On November 8th, the Pentagon announced that all known Soviet missile bases had been dismantled. On the same day, Stern reports, “a sabotage team carried out an attack on a Cuban factory,” though Kennedy’s terror campaign, Operation Mongoose, had been formally curtailed at the peak of the crisis. The November 8th terror attack lends support to Bundy’s observation that the threat to peace was Cuba, not Turkey, where the Russians were not continuing a lethal assault — though that was certainly not what Bundy had in mind or could have understood.

More details are added by the highly respected scholar Raymond Garthoff, who also had rich experience within the government, in his careful 1987 account of the missile crisis. On November 8th, he writes, “a Cuban covert action sabotage team dispatched from the United States successfully blew up a Cuban industrial facility,” killing 400 workers according to a Cuban government letter to the U.N. Secretary General.

Garthoff comments: “The Soviets could only see [the attack] as an effort to backpedal on what was, for them, the key question remaining: American assurances not to attack Cuba,” particularly since the terrorist attack was launched from the U.S. These and other “third party actions” reveal again, he concludes, “that the risk and danger to both sides could have been extreme, and catastrophe not excluded.” Garthoff also reviews the murderous and destructive operations of Kennedy’s terrorist campaign, which we would certainly regard as more than ample justification for war, if the U.S. or its allies or clients were victims, not perpetrators.

From the same source we learn further that, on August 23, 1962, the president had issued National Security Memorandum No. 181, “a directive to engineer an internal revolt that would be followed by U.S. military intervention,” involving “significant U.S. military plans, maneuvers, and movement of forces and equipment” that were surely known to Cuba and Russia. Also in August, terrorist attacks were intensified, including speedboat strafing attacks on a Cuban seaside hotel “where Soviet military technicians were known to congregate, killing a score of Russians and Cubans”; attacks on British and Cuban cargo ships; the contamination of sugar shipments; and other atrocities and sabotage, mostly carried out by Cuban exile organizations permitted to operate freely in Florida. Shortly after came “the most dangerous moment in human history,” not exactly out of the blue.

Kennedy officially renewed the terrorist operations after the crisis ebbed. Ten days before his assassination he approved a CIA plan for “destruction operations” by U.S. proxy forces “against a large oil refinery and storage facilities, a large electric plant, sugar refineries, railroad bridges, harbor facilities, and underwater demolition of docks and ships.” A plot to assassinate Castro was apparently initiated on the day of the Kennedy assassination. The terrorist campaign was called off in 1965, but reports Garthoff, “one of Nixon’s first acts in office in 1969 was to direct the CIA to intensify covert operations against Cuba.”

We can, at last, hear the voices of the victims in Canadian historian Keith Bolender’s Voices From the Other Side, the first oral history of the terror campaign — one of many books unlikely to receive more than casual notice, if that, in the West because the contents are too revealing.

In the current issue of Political Science Quarterly, the professional journal of the association of American political scientists, Montague Kern observes that the Cuban missile crisis is one of those “full-bore crises… in which an ideological enemy (the Soviet Union) is universally perceived to have gone on the attack, leading to a rally-’round-the-flag effect that greatly expands support for a president, increasing his policy options.”

Kern is right that it is “universally perceived” that way, apart from those who have escaped sufficiently from the ideological shackles to pay some attention to the facts. Kern is, in fact, one of them. Another is Sheldon Stern, who recognizes what has long been known to such deviants. As he writes, we now know that “Khrushchev’s original explanation for shipping missiles to Cuba had been fundamentally true: the Soviet leader had never intended these weapons as a threat to the security of the United States, but rather considered their deployment a defensive move to protect his Cuban allies from American attacks and as a desperate effort to give the U.S.S.R. the appearance of equality in the nuclear balance of power.” Dobbs, too, recognizes that “Castro and his Soviet patrons had real reasons to fear American attempts at regime change, including, as a last resort, a U.S. invasion of Cuba… [Khrushchev] was also sincere in his desire to defend the Cuban revolution from the mighty neighbor to the north.”

“Terrors of the Earth”

The American attacks are often dismissed in U.S. commentary as silly pranks, CIA shenanigans that got out of hand. That is far from the truth. The best and the brightest had reacted to the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion with near hysteria, including the president, who solemnly informed the country: “The complacent, the self-indulgent, the soft societies are about to be swept away with the debris of history. Only the strong… can possibly survive.” And they could only survive, he evidently believed, by massive terror — though that addendum was kept secret, and is still not known to loyalists who perceive the ideological enemy as having “gone on the attack” (the near universal perception, as Kern observes). After the Bay of Pigs defeat, historian Piero Gleijeses writes, JFK launched a crushing embargo to punish the Cubans for defeating a U.S.-run invasion, and “asked his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, to lead the top-level interagency group that oversaw Operation Mongoose, a program of paramilitary operations, economic warfare, and sabotage he launched in late 1961 to visit the ‘terrors of the earth’ on Fidel Castro and, more prosaically, to topple him.”

The phrase “terrors of the earth” is Arthur Schlesinger’s, in his quasi-official biography of Robert Kennedy, who was assigned responsibility for conducting the terrorist war, and informed the CIA that the Cuban problem carries “[t]he top priority in the United States Government — all else is secondary — no time, no effort, or manpower is to be spared” in the effort to overthrow the Castro regime. The Mongoose operations were run by Edward Lansdale, who had ample experience in “counterinsurgency” — a standard term for terrorism that we direct. He provided a timetable leading to “open revolt and overthrow of the Communist regime” in October 1962. The “final definition” of the program recognized that “final success will require decisive U.S. military intervention,” after terrorism and subversion had laid the basis. The implication is that U.S. military intervention would take place in October 1962 — when the missile crisis erupted. The events just reviewed help explain why Cuba and Russia had good reason to take such threats seriously.

Years later, Robert McNamara recognized that Cuba was justified in fearing an attack. “If I were in Cuban or Soviet shoes, I would have thought so, too,” he observed at a major conference on the missile crisis on the 40th anniversary.

As for Russia’s “desperate effort to give the U.S.S.R. the appearance of equality,” to which Stern refers, recall that Kennedy’s very narrow victory in the 1960 election relied heavily on a fabricated “missile gap” concocted to terrify the country and to condemn the Eisenhower administration as soft on national security. There was indeed a “missile gap,” but strongly in favor of the U.S.

The first “public, unequivocal administration statement” on the true facts, according to strategic analyst Desmond Ball in his authoritative study of the Kennedy missile program, was in October 1961, when Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric informed the Business Council that “the U.S. would have a larger nuclear delivery system left after a surprise attack than the nuclear force which the Soviet Union could employ in its first strike.” The Russians of course were well aware of their relative weakness and vulnerability. They were also aware of Kennedy’s reaction when Khrushchev offered to sharply reduce offensive military capacity and proceeded to do so unilaterally. The president failed to respond, undertaking instead a huge armaments program.

Owning the World, Then and Now

The two most crucial questions about the missile crisis are: How did it begin, and how did it end? It began with Kennedy’s terrorist attack against Cuba, with a threat of invasion in October 1962. It ended with the president’s rejection of Russian offers that would seem fair to a rational person, but were unthinkable because they would have undermined the fundamental principle that the U.S. has the unilateral right to deploy nuclear missiles anywhere, aimed at China or Russia or anyone else, and right on their borders; and the accompanying principle that Cuba had no right to have missiles for defense against what appeared to be an imminent U.S. invasion. To establish these principles firmly it was entirely proper to face a high risk of war of unimaginable destruction, and to reject simple and admittedly fair ways to end the threat.

Garthoff observes that “in the United States, there was almost universal approbation for President Kennedy’s handling of the crisis.” Dobbs writes, “The relentlessly upbeat tone was established by the court historian, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., who wrote that Kennedy had ‘dazzled the world’ through a ‘combination of toughness and restraint, of will, nerve and wisdom, so brilliantly controlled, so matchlessly calibrated.'” Rather more soberly, Stern partially agrees, noting that Kennedy repeatedly rejected the militant advice of his advisers and associates who called for military force and the dismissal of peaceful options. The events of October 1962 are widely hailed as Kennedy’s finest hour. Graham Allison joins many others in presenting them as “a guide for how to defuse conflicts, manage great-power relationships, and make sound decisions about foreign policy in general.”

In a very narrow sense, that judgment seems reasonable. The ExComm tapes reveal that the president stood apart from others, sometimes almost all others, in rejecting premature violence. There is, however, a further question: How should JFK’s relative moderation in the management of the crisis be evaluated against the background of the broader considerations just reviewed? But that question does not arise in a disciplined intellectual and moral culture, which accepts without question the basic principle that the U.S. effectively owns the world by right, and is by definition a force for good despite occasional errors and misunderstandings, one in which it is plainly entirely proper for the U.S. to deploy massive offensive force all over the world while it is an outrage for others (allies and clients apart) to make even the slightest gesture in that direction or even to think of deterring the threatened use of violence by the benign global hegemon.

That doctrine is the primary official charge against Iran today: it might pose a deterrent to U.S. and Israeli force. It was a consideration during the missile crisis as well. In internal discussion, the Kennedy brothers expressed their fears that Cuban missiles might deter a U.S. invasion of Venezuela, then under consideration. So “the Bay of Pigs was really right,” JFK concluded.

These principles still contribute to the constant risk of nuclear war. There has been no shortage of severe dangers since the missile crisis. Ten years later, during the 1973 Israel-Arab war, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger called a high-level nuclear alert (DEFCON 3) to warn the Russians to keep their hands off while he was secretly authorizing Israel to violate the cease-fire imposed by the U.S. and Russia. When Reagan came into office a few years later, the U.S. launched operations probing Russian defenses and simulating air and naval attacks, while placing Pershing missiles in Germany with a five-minute flight time to Russian targets, providing what the CIA called a “super-sudden first strike” capability. Naturally this caused great alarm in Russia, which unlike the U.S. has repeatedly been invaded and virtually destroyed. That led to a major war scare in 1983. There have been hundreds of cases when human intervention aborted a first strike minutes before launch, after automated systems gave false alarms. We don’t have Russian records, but there’s no doubt that their systems are far more accident-prone.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan have come close to nuclear war several times, and the sources of the conflict remain. Both have refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, along with Israel, and have received U.S. support for development of their nuclear weapons programs — until today in the case of India, now a U.S. ally. War threats in the Middle East, which might become reality very soon, once again escalate the dangers.

In 1962, war was avoided by Khrushchev’s willingness to accept Kennedy’s hegemonic demands. But we can hardly count on such sanity forever. It’s a near miracle that nuclear war has so far been avoided. There is more reason than ever to attend to the warning of Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, almost 60 years ago, that we must face a choice that is “stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?”

 

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A New Tradition spreads the word in T.O

By: Juan Diego Castro/surla.org/September 5, 2012

“Spread the word, ancient texts have arisen bringing into fruition…A NEW TRADITION…”

With these words Ruben ‘Beny’ Esguerra the creative mind behind the music, lyrics and concept of A New Tradition, closed his CD Release Jam, last Thursday, August 30th , held at Lula Lounge in downtown Toronto.

The event, as it was expected, brought together some of the most talented youth from the city in an eclectic evening with a mix of music, live painting, and dance performances that included traditional Colombian cumbia, hip hop, and break dancing courtesy of the F.A.M (Future Art Movement).

Accompanying Ruben Esguerra, was a 13 member band directed by a New Tradition’s Luisito Obregoso who is the producer, arranger, percussionist, lead and back vocals.

This musical project which has been in the works for more than a year is a fusion of “contemporary sounds [like hip hop], inflected with ‘older traditions’ and played in unique and innovative ways”. For Esguerra, his music is “woven with the spoken word poetry [to] form a rich interplay that compliment[s] and bind[s] into melodies, rhythms and rhymes to tell stories that resonate and stimulates the listener on multiple levels”.

In a way, A New Tradition epitomises the struggle for identity, culture, and politics that many young Latin@s go through while growing up in Canada. Many people believe that amalgamating into Canadian society sometimes means that you put your identity and culture on the chop-line. But Benny Esguerra shows us that being part Canada is not about assimilating but it should be rather about sharing your ancestry, identity, traditions, and the politics attached to your culture.

Through his lyrics, Benny Esguerra managed to bring a message of resistance to spark critical consciousness in dealing with issues that affect our community in Canada, and Latin America. Music and culture then, becomes the vehicle used to reflect and act as a community, as he reminds us with the lyrics from his song “Se han tomado el mundo”: “La resistencia cultural si es pacifica pero nunca pasiva…”, “The cultural resistance is a pacific but not passive”.

The future of our community is expressed through artist like Benny Esguerra. We must then continue to support local artists who contribute to the preservation and development of our identity as Latin@s in Canada.

Check out A New Tradition Music at www.newtraditionmusic.com

Check out our interview with Benny Esguerra:

An interview with spoken word artist Benny Esguerra from SURLA ORG on Vimeo.

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Extractive Industry Tarnishes Canada’s Reputation

Press release/Latin America and Caribbean Solidarity Network/July 31, 2012

 

On August 1st 2012, there will be a Continental Day of Action to highlight the exploitive practices of Canada’s extractive industry including oil, gas, mining of precious metals and energy resources. Close to 70 organizations representing impacted communities, labour, students, NGOs, solidarity groups, and environmental organizations in 35 cities across the Americas will conduct coordinated actions. The aim of this campaign is to raise public awareness about the negative impacts of Canada’s extractive industry on indigenous and farming communities both globally and here in Canada.

Canada is a global mining giant that leaves a massive ecological footprint on the earth’s surface.  Sixty per cent of the world’s exploration and mining companies are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. These corporations account for over 3200 projects around the world.

“We are a mining union.  We support responsible mining with well-paid jobs, good health and safety records, protection of the environment and respect for the communities, “says Ken Neumann, the United Steelworkers’ National Director for Canada. “But that is not how mining is been done in other parts of the world.”

Across Canada, on August 1st, there will be letter-writing campaigns to public forums, street protests and theatre.

This unprecedented action demonstrates the broad and collective opposition to Harpers corporate driven polices and points to a
growing and diverse coordinated hemispheric movement to hold the extractive industry accountable for systematic abuses. Increasingly, this industry, which lacks binding legislative regulation and operates under a self-regulated banner of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), is contributing to human rights violations, environmental degradation and the tarnishing of Canada’s global reputation.

As Harper said at the recent summit of the Americans in Cartagena, Colombia, “Looking to the future, we see increased Canadian mining investment throughout the Americas – something that will be good for our mutual prosperity and is therefore a priority of our government.”
Not everyone agrees with Harpers vision of prosperity.
According to Raul Burbano from Common Frontiers and one of the organizers of the Continental Day of Action, 
“It’s exactly these types of corporate-driven policies that we are confronting. Looking to the future, what many communities see is increased displacement, re-militarization, destruction of community-based  livelihoods, human rights violations, lack of community consultation, long -term health impacts and irreversible loss of biodiversity.’’

Events and actions are planned across eleven cities in Canada. In Toronto, a carnival-style solidarity event will be held at on the south side of Queens Park on August 1st from 12.00 p.m. to 2.00 p.m. Organizers across Canada will educate people about the injustices  of Canada’s extractive industry, the urgent need for legally-binding  accountability, an end to abuses and the need to put people before profits.

WHY CANADA?

• 60% of the world’s publicly traded mining companies are listed  on the Toronto Stock Exchange. These corporations account for over 3200  exploitation projects in over 100 countries. Canada is the largest stakeholder  in the resource extraction industry in the Americas accounting for 37% of the  total investment.

•Canadian financial markets in Toronto and Vancouver are the  world’s largest source of equity capital for mining companies undertaking  exploration and development.

•Canadian-based mining operations have deeply impacted  territories, communities, and life. Resource exploration and exploitation  activities have caused displacement, widespread destruction of livelihoods (compromising water and food security), caused long- term health issues ,  disregarded sacred indigenous territories and rights, exacerbated human rights  violations especially in contexts of internal conflict, and contributed to the  criminalization of artisanal miners, union and environmental activists and  community activists. Large-scale mining explorations and exploitations have also  led to an irreversible loss in biodiversity.

•Despite the fact that large-scale mining is usually presented as a driving force of sustainable development by mining companies, governments throughout the Americas, and international institutions such as the World Bank,  the long-term negative impacts on peoples and territories contrast with the  vague promises of jobs, and national economic growth and development.

OUR DEMANDS:

Divestment: The Canadian government should  divest public funds from resource extraction industries. (i.e pension funds invested in GoldCorp and other corporations) and call for public funds to be invested in social programs like free education, affordable housing and universal healthcare.

 Regulation: The Canadian government should enable legislation that establishes corporate accountability standards for
Canadian corporations operating abroad. This legislation should penalize corporations linked to human rights violations and should allow foreign nationals to pursue legal action for damages in Canadian courts (Bills C-300 and C-323).

Stop Complicity: Stop utilizing public institutions to assist with high profile public relations campaigns conducted by resource extraction companies (such as the Museum of Natural History in Ottawa, Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto, York University, CIDA-funded projects such as the Devonshire initiative.

Binding Community Consent Mechanisms: That governments and courts of the region respect and adhere to the internationally recognized right of free prior and informed consent for Indigenous communities.

People Before Profit: End free trade agreements and  bilateral investment treaties that enshrine the right of corporations over  citizens and communities.

 

LIST OF ACTIONS ACROSS CANADA:

  • Toronto, Ontario- Queen Park (south side) Common Frontiers, United SteelWorkers, LACSN, MISN and other solidarity groups. A carnival type solidarity event will be held with street theatre and interactive games for the whole family www.facebook.com/events/219956138127157/
  • London, Ontario – The Latin American-Canadian Solidarity Association (LACASA) will be delivering the verdict issued by the People’s International Health Tribunal against Goldcorp to the offices of local MP’s – Susan Truppe’s office 546 King St. (at William, one block west of Adelaide, north side) @ 11:30 and Ed Holder office 390 Commissioners Rd (south, near Wonderland @ 3:00 pm
  • Guelph, Ontario Community group – Film and discussion from Mountain top removal to the mega quarry – 86 Wyndham Street N @ Today 6:30- 8-30 pm
  • Vancouver B.C – Mining Justice Alliance – Gathering outside GOLDCORP’s corporate headquarters 666 Burrard Street Vancouver, @ 4:30 PM at 666 Burrard St. www.miningjusticealliance.wordpress.com/
  • Vancouver, Sunshine Coast – Community Groups will gather at Brookman Park, Davis Bay – on the bridge across Chapman Creek @ 5 PM www.facebook.com/events/500858113263175/
  • Prince Albert, Saskatchewan – Discussion and screening of Under Rich Earth
  • Montreal, Quebec, – Le Comite pour les droits humans en amerique Latine (CDHAL) et le Project Accompagnement Quebec Guatemala (PAQG) 2055 Rue Peel @ 6 pm www.facebook.com/events/136100973197156/
  • Montreal, Quebec – Le Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC) and CLASSE- Conférences: “Des raisons de s’indigner…y’en – Les conférences auront lieu au CEDA (Comité d’Éducation aux Adultes de la Petite-Bourgone et St-Henri, 2515 rue Delisle à Montréal. Près du métro Lionel-Groulx.) @ 7pm www.bloquonslahausse.com/calendrier/conferences/
  • Quebec City, Quebec – Community groups – Gathering Latin America Park at the end of a walk from the Assemblée nationale parliament building @ 2:00PM www.reseauforum.org/grille-calendrier/node/6405
  • Fredericton, NB – Various anti-shale gas/fracking groups will rally at the Legislature grounds, corner of Queen St & St John St) (early August ) @ 2:30 www.knowshalegasnb.ca/
CONTACT:

Raul Burbano Common  Frontiers Coordinator 416 522  8615

Caren Weisbart Maritimes-Guatemala  Solidarity Network 647  466 6643

 

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