Monthly Archives: January 2010

Nicaragua, ALBA, and Intellectual Betrayal

By Toni Solo writing for Venezuela Analysis

People in Latin America have frequently found themselves fighting regular forces and mercenary contractors coordinated ultimately by the United States Southern Command, the State Department and related US government bodies. That was true in Central America in the 1980s. It has been the case in Colombia for many years. On a smaller scale it is happening now in Honduras. Shortly, they may well find themselves fighting regular forces and mercenary contractors coordinated by NATO.

2009 marked the transition via a practically seamless continuity in US government foreign policy in Latin America from one gangster US government administration to another. The international intellectual and information-media manager classes have failed to report assertively and adequately the US government’s escalating war on the peoples of Latin America. For overstretched US military forces, anxious to apply pressure to perceived enemies in Latin America, resorting to NATO’s mutual defence Article 5 – as they have in Afghanistan – is an attractive option. With its new military bases in Colombia, the US government can readily provoke an incident as they did fifty years ago in the Tonkin Gulf.

The Venezuelan government recently expressed concern about the intentions of the US government in relation to its bases in the Dutch Antilles- Aruba and Curacao. Holland is a member country of NATO. The well known NATO war games known as Plan Balboa posited unequivocally a joint NATO operation against Venezuela. Despite this, leading US intellectuals like Noam Chomsky dismiss the chances of a US government-led aggression against Venezuela. (1) Their failure of imagination only makes sense in the broad economic, political and propaganda context of the Americas. Read the rest of this entry

The Kidnapping of Haiti

In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the “swift and crude” appropriation of earthquake-ravaged Haiti by the militarised Obama administration. With George W. Bush attending to the “relief effort” and Bill Clinton the UN’s man, The Comedians, Graham Greene’s dark novel about exploted Haiti comes to mind.

The theft of Haiti has been swift and crude. On 22 January, the United States secured “formal approval” from the United Nations to take over all air and sea ports in Haiti, and to “secure” roads. No Haitian signed the agreement, which has no basis in law. Power rules in an American naval blockade and the arrival of 13,000 marines, special forces, spooks and mercenaries, none with humanitarian relief training.

The airport in the capital, Port-au-Prince, is now an American military base and relief flights have been re-routed to the Dominican Republic. All flights stopped for three hours for the arrival of Hillary Clinton. Critically injured Haitians waited unaided as 800 American residents in Haiti were fed, watered and evacuated. Six days passed before the US Air Force dropped bottled water to people suffering thirst and dehydration.

The first TV reports played a critical role, giving the impression of widespread criminal mayhem. Matt Frei, the BBC reporter dispatched from Washington, seemed on the point of hyperventilation as he brayed about the “violence” and need for “security”. In spite of the demonstrable dignity of the earthquake victims, and evidence of citizens’ groups toiling unaided to rescue people, and even an American general’s assessment that the violence in Haiti was considerably less than before the earthquake, Frei claimed that “looting is the only industry” and “the dignity of Haiti’s past is long forgotten.” Thus, a history of unerring US violence and exploitation in Haiti was consigned to the victims. “There’s no doubt,” reported Frei in the aftermath of America’s bloody invasion of Iraq in 2003, “that the desire to bring good, to bring American values to the rest of the world, and especially now to the Middle East… is now increasingly tied up with military power.” Read the rest of this entry

Ecuador’s President Correa Faces Off With Indigenous and Social Movements

By Roger Burbach. Roger Burbach is the director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA). This article first appeared on the NACLA Web page.

Quito, Ecuador. Beginning his fourth year as president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa confronts a major challenge from some of the very social actors that propelled him into office. In an address to the country in early January, Correa expressed his ire with a “coming series of conflicts this month, including indigenous mobilizations, workers, media communications, and even a level of the armed forces.”

While the country, amidst the global crisis, is facing a downturn in the economy and chronic electrical outages, the roots of the current confrontation run much deeper, to the growing disenchantment with the “Citizens Revolution” that propelled Correa into office in 2007 and formed the basis for his political organization, the Alianza Pais, or Country Alliance. Correa promised to re-found the country with a new magna carta and to rid the country of the corrupt partidocracia comprised of the financial and political elites that had imposed disastrous neoliberal economic policies on Ecuador for almost two decades.

Early on he enacted a series of social spending programs that have in part tapped the country’s oil revenues to assist the poorest and convened a constituent assembly that drafted a pluri-national constitution providing for ample public participation in the country’s social and economic institutions. Reelected president under the new constitution, he declared in his inaugural address last August 10 that the Citizens Revolution “adheres to the socialist revolution of the twenty-first century.” Read the rest of this entry