A Latin/South American and Caribbean digest

Strapline

Impeachment of Brazil’s President  http://www.democracynow.org/2016/5/25/this_confirms_it_was_a_coup?utm_source=Democracy+Now%21&utm_campaign=cf8f07e07b-Daily_Digest&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fa2346a853-cf8f07e07b-191490461  Coup plot confirmed

Capital, oil and climate change

U.S. destabilising elected governments

Bolivia, Chile and Venezuela

Columbia’s referendum, sponsorships, tobacco companies, the leaked Panama papers, drug cartel money and David Cameron: as footnotes, the 1698 Darien scheme and Scotland’s influence on Jamaica and Argentina.

Ecuador; Peruvian activists; Indigenous and environmental organiser assassinated in Honduras; Debt default for Puerto Rico; Achievements of Costa Rica; Cuba fails to spit out a dummy delivered in error, comic equivalent of a missile crisis …

Updated on November 26th: farewell Castro – Se murió Fidel. Mourning is declared by leaders Evo Morales in Bolivia, Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, all of whom were inspired and helped by a Castro-led Cuba

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Other major South American news this year covered the Rio Olympics, the Zika virus and Brazil, where the President, Dilma  Rousseff, has been suspended from office. Installed in a US-backed coup in 1964, a ruthless right-wing dictatorship ruled in Brazil until 1985.

Lately there’s been a concerted effort by Brazil’s traditional ruling elite, backed by corporate-owned media, to return to the dark days of dictatorship by reversing the result of 2014’s election, won by the Workers Party. e-democracy portal

The agenda is one of destabilisation and regime change; the President’s removal is impeachment, part of a toxic smear campaign. It constitutes a soft coup. Dilma Rousseff hasn’t garnered a cent personally – she is accused of tampering with accounts in order to conceal a budget shortfall, common practice for politicians left and right the world over, misleading electorates with sovereign dual accountancy. Leading the impeachment process has been Brazil’s Speaker of the House, Eduardo Cunha, himself accused of spiriting away $5 million into a Swiss bank account. In the background lurk the corruption-riddled state-owned oil company Petrobras amid U.S. foreign policy-mongers. Their offensives aim to impose austerity measures, combating the election of progressive governments.

The Chilean Popular Unity government was overthrown in a military coup that installed the murderous General Pinochet’s regime in 1973.  https://chrisramsey2013.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/60   Victor Jara article in Blogs.

In 1954, a democratically elected government in Guatemala was overthrown, unleashing decades of horror in that country. In Venezuela a coup attempt backed by the US succeeded for two days before grassroots reaction ousted the plotters in 2002. The U.S. and France, with Canadian connivance, kidnapped the President of Haiti and dispatched him to Central Africa in 2004. In Honduras a military/corporate coup resulted in a reformist President being overthrown in 2009 and an ongoing refugee crisis. The US President-elect has characterized Mexicans as criminals, rapists and killers. If regime change is illegal under international law, why haven’t the U.S. or her malleable allies been prosecuted? Taking many forms, there has been solidarity, strong resistance. Examples follow from Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Uruguay.

‘Evo Morales has led an extraordinary movement in Bolivia, where popular movements are an inspiring phenomenon. The civilised achievements in Latin America are astonishing – against all the odds – constantly subverted by the United States and its clients, and by the bad faith reporting of much of western journalism.’ Edited transcript from a John Pilger webcast.

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2430237/bolivia-capitalism-must-be-destroyed-to-solve-climate-change?utm_medium=email&utm_term=&utm_cont  Bolivia and climate change

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/12/10/from_south_america_to_africa_market   Democracy Now article on climate change

https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/stephan-lefebvre-jeanette-bonifaz/lessons-from-bolivia-renationalising-hydrocarbon-indust    Renationalisation in Bolivia

‘On March 20th 1974, when Bob Fulton arrived for work at the Rolls-Royce factory in East Kilbride, Scotland, he noticed something out of the ordinary – a cargo of Avon aircraft engines had arrived for repair bearing Chilean insignia. These engines were from the Hawker Hunter aircraft that attacked Chile’s presidential palace during a right-wing coup six months earlier: Fulton refused to work on the engines. The 4,000 workers at the Rolls-Royce plant joined him in solidarity. For four years the warplane engines lay – defiantly unworked upon – until they disappeared in the middle of the night, leaving the workers in the dark about what happened to them. Back in Chile, the Scottish boycott became a celebrated moment in the struggle against the ruthless Pinochet regime.’ From ‘A story of solidarity that stretched from Scotland to Santiago’ by Peter Geoghegan, writing in The National.

‘Obama announced that he would begin to normalise relations with Cuba, yet the 54 year-old trade embargo is maintained. An image of Venezuela as the new country to be sanctioned is created. How it’s read in Latin America is, once again, the U.S. and big stick diplomacy intervene. The notion that the U.S. does not support coups is ludicrous; we’ve had the 2009 coup in Honduras, Lugo in Paraguay a couple of years later. From Guatemala to the Dominican Republic, Chile in 1973, to support for military dictatorships in Argentine and Brazil, to 2002 in Venezuela, when the U.S. supported a coup against the democratically elected Hugo Chávez, the shortest coup in history..’  Miguel Tinker Salas, a professor at Pomona College in Claremont and author of ‘The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture and Society in Venezuela’ and a forthcoming book, ‘Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know’.

http://www.democracynow.org/2015/3/11/is_venezuela_really_an_extraordinary_threat  The threat from Venezuela

http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-48c4-Venezuelans-back-Maduros-vision-of-a-socialist-future#.Vtb3KH2LSig   Post-Chavez

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/14/venezuela-president-declares-60-day-state-of-emergency-blaming-us-for-instability?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=172154&subid=7712449&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2   State of emergency

‘Gilberto Torres was visiting Edinburgh as part of a ‘Fossil Free’ tour. Torres was abducted and tortured while working on the Ocensa pipeline in Colombia. BP used the pipeline to transport its oil, as well as owning a 15.2% share of the pipeline. Many workers and union organisers disappeared while working on the pipeline, with Torres the only one to be returned alive after huge strikes against his abduction effectively stopped production. He is now taking BP to court over its alleged involvement in his abduction. Upon his release from captivity in 2002, Sr Torres said ‘solidarity is the strength that the powerless need’. We took action in solidarity with him, with others affected by BP’s actions around the work, and with all those suffering the effects of the global climate crisis. We ask for BP to be dropped as a sponsor of the portrait awards and for the Scottish National Gallery to put pressure on the National Gallery down in London to refuse oil money. People have largely forgotten now, but before they were the ‘BP Portrait Awards’, the awards were sponsored by John Player, a tobacco company.’  https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/alys-mumford/why-bp-has-no-place-in-our-arts    Sponsorship and corporate responsibilties

Panama hit the headlines this year as a prime mover and shady fave powerhouse place for capitalists and others to stash cash. As well as a tax haven, Panama has huge geo-political significance, sharing a border with Columbia, linking Asia and Europe via the Canal, strategically sited between North and South America, and ideally positioned for the Caribbean. It’s a coveted location – Scottish history reminds us that the 1698 Darien project was an ill-fated scheme to create a colony on the Panama isthmus.

http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2016/04/09/blairmore-and-the-panamanian-heat  Leaked Panama papers, Columbian drug money, David Cameron and the Darien scheme

http://www.scottishreview.net/AndrewHook29a.html    ‘Darien – a Journey in search of Empire’ by John McKendrick

http://www.scotsman.com/heritage/people-places/scotland-s-influence-on-argentina-russia-and-jamaica-1-4111597    Scotland’s influence on Jamaica and Argentina

South America is trying to break free from foreign domination. Through Economic Partnership Agreements, the EU imposes dictatorial pressure on weaker Caribbean economies. Yet the government in OPEC-member Venezuela has declared a state of emergency, Kirchner is facing charges in Argentina for causing a financial abyss; Brazil’s Da Silva, the former president, and Dilma Rousseff, the incumbent until her recent impeachment, were accused of malpractice. Colombia’s civil war, which began in 1964, has claimed some 220,000 lives. More than 5 million people are estimated to have been displaced. In the autumn of 2016 a referendum brokered to make peace with FARC resulted in narrow rejection of the deal. Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, has lost a referendum that would have eased his maintenance of power.

Meanwhile, Ecuador’s military flexes its muscles, as President Correa faces formidable budgetary challenges due to the low price of oil, which comprises 40% of the nation’s revenues. Essential welfare expenditure has been blamed for the impending recession by the International Monetary Fund. Correa is trying to steer a polarised society through high unemployment, rising violence and rampant drug trafficking. In 2015, the government seized 79.2 tons of cocaine, which had entered the country from Colombia in the north and Peru to the south. Most of South America’s white marching powder is consumed by affluent European hedonists and gibbering Yanks with more money than sense.

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/12/3/ecuadorean_authorities_seize_climate_caravan_bus   A caravan of environmental activists travelling to the United Nations climate summit in Lima, Peru, has been stopped by authorities in Ecuador and had their bus seized. Activists with the group Yasunidos departed from Quito to denounce the extraction of oil from Yasuní National Park, an area of the Amazon renowned for its biological diversity.

To thwart its dwindling influence and isolate Venezuela, Obama visited Cuba as the U.S. thawed relations, prompting Fidel Castro to comment that: ‘From the Bay of Pigs invasion to the economic embargo, we don’t need the empire to give us anything.’ Cuba was delivered a U.S.-bound, laser-guided, air-to-surface Hellfire missile in 2014. Lockheed Martin was authorised to export the dummy weapon after a NATO training exercise in Spain. Freight forwarders mistakenly shipped it from Europe to Cuba.

Cuba plans to drill exploratory deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico by the end of 2016. The country is on the cusp of a tourism and consumer boom. The U.S. has refused to give up control of its Navy base and military prison at Guantánamo Bay.

sw-castroMajor Cuban news in 2016 was former President Fidel Castro’s death in November at the age of 90. He survived 11 U.S. presidents and allegedly 638 assassination attempts, many orchestrated by the CIA. U.S. tactics included blatant destabilisation and an ever-tightening economic embargo. Mourning for Castro was declared by leaders Evo Morales in Bolivia, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, all of whose people were inspired and helped by Cubans. Hundreds of thousands gathered in the Plaza de la Revolución in the eastern Cuban city of Santiago on December 3rd, cheering speeches by the heads of state-run groups of small farmers, women, revolutionary veterans and neighborhood watch committee members. The event was attended by former Brazilian presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva.

The leader of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola said Castro was like Nelson Mandela. South African President Jacob Zuma thanked Castro for his help and distinguished support in overthrowing apartheid. “President Castro identified with our struggle against apartheid. He inspired the Cuban people to join us,” Zuma said.

In March 2016 environmentalist Berta Cáceres was assassinated in her Honduras home. She was a leading organiser for indigenous land rights. In 1993, she co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras. For years the group faced death threats and repression as they stood up to mining and dam projects that threatened to destroy their community. Last year Cáceres was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize.

In a crisis that echoes Greece’s battle to restructure debt, Puerto Rico’s Senate and House of Representatives have authorised suspension of payments totalling $72billion – setting up a dramatic showdown between Puerto Rico and the hedge funds: Puerto Rico has incurred huge bond defaults. The suspension will protect public welfare by using government funds first and foremost for services, particularly its beleaguered healthcare system.  A group of hedge funds sued to freeze the assets of Puerto Rico’s Government Development Bank in efforts to stop the bank from spending money that the hedge funds wanted to go towards meeting upcoming debt ‘obligations’. In what is viewed as a colonial takeover, a U.S. debt bill for the island proposes a seven-member oversight board with dictatorial powers, geared to protecting bondholders and making massive cuts to public services. In April 2016 Senator Jim Inhofe proposed reopening a U.S. military base in Puerto Rico as U.S. Congress considers legislation to address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. For decades, Puerto Rico was host to a slew of military bases: the U.S. Navy conducted bombing practices and war games, dumping old munitions, napalming the island and leading to lasting environmental damage.

Costa Rica has shown extraordinary courage in pursuing alternative policies, becoming the first nation in the world to abolish its military back in 1949, in spite of the volatility of the region. Consequently, having invested in programs of social uplift instead of armaments, Costa Rica has achieved the highest rating of Well-being in the world, with a life expectancy greater than the United States, according to the New Economics Foundation. Receiving little attention in the Western media, a documentary film, ‘A Bold Peace’, has been produced that highlights these remarkable achievements. There’s a film trailer on our YouTube channel.

While mapping subversion, plus the overthrow of elected governments in Latin America and the clawing, asset-stripping tentacles of big business, mining and oil in particular, let’s not forget what befell the Popular Front Spanish government in 1930’s Europe, closer to home. On 18th July 1936 in colonial Morocco, and in mainland Spain the day after, Generals opposed to the republican government staged a military coup with the intention of its overthrow. Recall the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, the Suez debacle of 1956, the invasions of Iraq in 1916, 1941 and 2003.

Nor should we ignore Capital challenging the result at the ballot box in recent times, for instance the Troika – EU Commissioners, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – undermining and overriding the Greek government’s popular anti-austerity programme, German bullying, a narrative demanding a neoliberal agenda and debt repayments, in full and on time. For Britain, the cost of the 1976 IMF bailout loan resonates to this day. Post 2010, witness what the IMF calls ‘fiscal consolidation’ being imposed on heavily-indebted states – Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Basically the money lenders or global investors can render electorates redundant. Rather than risk confidence, states become impotent. For investors in Britain, read the financial sector centred on the city of London.

I found the following links revelant and of interest.

http://www.thenational.scot/comment/george-kerevan-moves-to-impeach-brazils-rouseff-could-signal-return-of-dictatorship-to-one-of-worlds-largest-economies.16442    President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/5/25/this_confirms_it_was_a_coup?utm_source=Democracy+Now%21&utm_campaign=cf8f07e07b-Daily_Digest&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fa2346a853-cf8f07e07b-191490461    Brazil – coup plot confirmed

Fidel Castro wanted no personality cult after his death – no public monuments, no images of himself on posters or T-shirts. Of the 82 freedom fighters who disembarked to take on Batista, only 17 escaped an ambush to flee to the mountains and begin their liberation campaign in 1959. Camilo Cienfuegos (1932-1959) is one of the five heroes of the Cuban Revolution along with Fidel and Raúl Castro, Ché Guevara, and Juan Almeida Bosque. http://www.globalresearch.ca/cubas-national-hero-camilo-cienfuegos/5484970    Camilo Cienfuegos

http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/apr/30/ernesto-guevara-motorbike-tours-cuba?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=169790&subid=7712449&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2     Motorcycle tours of Cuba

http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/apr/30/cuba-havana-music-art-restaurants-tech-tattoos?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=169790&subid=7712449&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2    Cuban shopping

https://chrisramsey2013.wordpress.com/2014/12/12/jose-mujica   Uruguay and Jose Mujica: blog article. Legalization of marijuana.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/geoffrey-heptonstall/latin-lessons-latin-america-can-teach-us-about-faith-in-society     Faith and Latin America

https://www.facebook.com/TheHookOfficial/videos/1619254381473347 Customs clearance into the US – spoof video

http://www.redpepper.org.uk/by/eliane-correa  Eliane Correa – ‘A Cuban view on Fidel Castro’s legacy’

 

 

 

 

 

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