Archive | December 2014

Spanish Police also getting Training from Israel*

Spanish Police also getting Training from Israel*

Spanish police travel to Israel to get military training, explicitly the training is to be used to control protests and civil unrest, and include combat techniques that are known to be lethal. The government departments involved include the National Police, Civil Police, Regional Catalan Police force, Ministry of Defence & Ministry of Interior.

The inappropriateness of the training is illustrated by the amount of ammunition used in the 15 day period. In the course of the two weeks, each participant can fire up-to 2500 rounds of bullets. While currently in Spain the current allocation is 75 per year for armed police. The Spanish public pays for this pleasure, with the courses starting from 4000 euros per person.

Are the Spanish public aware that their citizens are being exposed to techniques similar to those that result in so many Palestinian deaths.

“when your police come back, you become their enemy”

The many harrowing cases of police brutality emerging from the USA show the dangers of a militarised police. Do we want to see this in Europe? Eran Efrati warned that Israel’s training of American police is dangerous. Their methods are developed in a context, where the “citizens” are seen and treated as an enemy to be crushed. As he explains, “when your police come back, you become their enemy”.

Although London’s police have confirmed they are travelling to Israel it is not yet known why.

This reports was largely extracted from the following two videos and a freedom of information requests to the London Metropolitan police.

 

Source*

Related Topics:

London’s Metropolitan Police and Operation Protective Edge*

No Debate on Congress Passing Police Unlimited Access to Citizens’ Private Communications*

Undercover Cops Inciting Violence in anti-Police Brutality Demos*

Utah Police Responsible for More Killings than Criminals*

Deputy Police Chief Identified as KKK by the FBI*

Pro-Israelis Finance U.S. Police Training*

The U.S. Connection to the Violence in Mexico*

1.8mn Catalonians Rally for Independence from Spain*

Israel Imprisons an 11-month Old*

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Village by Village Iraqis Push Back ISIS

Village by Village Iraqis Push Back ISIS*

Everywhere, Iraq is a war front; it’s only a matter of choice, a geographical menu. In Baghdad, the south and parts of the east, it’s a war of suicide bombings; in Al-Anbar, Saladin, part of Diyala, Kurdistan and of course Mosul, it’s a war of liberation. Both are being fought between the same rivals — the Iraqi government and its allies on one side and on the other ISIS, which has managed to take control of almost 45% of the country over the last six months.

In Salahuddin province, north of Baghdad, shelling and shooting became the soundtrack. Life here is all about fighting and mourning. There are no more tears to shed for young fighters, soldiers or volunteers, who lose their lives on the front. Black lost its significance as the color women here wear during mourning; it simply became the color of everyday.

“I came from Basra to fight those terrorists, I came before the month of Ramadan [in June 2014],” said Abu Ghazwan, a Shiite commander whom Al-Monitor met at the village of Zor El-Bakr, near Balad air base, known as LSA Anaconda during the US occupation and Bakr air base during Saddam’s reign. Abu Ghazwan is commanding a group of 200 volunteers who decided to fight alongside the army and the federal police against IS.

“I don’t have any intention to go back to my family or town before this battle is over, I’ve been here for almost six months and I’m ready to die, so another six months here won’t mean anything,” he said.

IS fighters are only 1 kilometer (0.62 mile) from where we stand, and there’s nothing that says they are there except for the shots and shells from their side aimed at the village. “Beware of the sniper” is the most used phrase here:

“No one here wants to be killed by those lunatics,” said Hassan, a former taxi driver turned fighter.

“I prefer dying in a different way, yet I’m ready to fight as far as this could help in defeating them; they aren’t an easy enemy. They fight until the last bullet.”

While we talk, a barrage is seen from Balad air base: 107 mm rockets are unleashed, the fighters start cheering as they see the smoke rising from the IS positions. It’s a game of war where winners and losers master the art of interaction, here or there the secret phrase is “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great.”

“Wait till the Iranian rockets hit the skies, the sound alone is fearful,” said Abu Mohammed, a fighter from the area whose remarks seemed to intimidate his comrades.

“Everyone is helping Iraq in this battle; imagine the Americans and the Iranians together,” laughs Abu Mohammed. He whispers to me,

“I heard all of them are here at the base — the Iranians, the Americans and our army, but everyone is working on his own. What I care about is that they are helping us.”

from Zor El-Bakr, we precede to an area called “the graveyard,” and it is a graveyard, indeed: an open area that fronts three villages that are under IS control — Zor Boheshma, Al-Qadisiyah and Yathreb. The three are at that moment under IS’ control; they are also under heavy shelling that leaves towers of smoke rising above each village.

It was difficult to differentiate between fighters and soldiers since they all looked alike, except that government forces had the Iraqi flag on their uniform while nongovernment fighters, volunteers and militias wore badges with religious slogans.

“The main goal of this battle is to retake Balad district as a whole,” said Capt. Dirgham al-Hillay of the Iraqi federal police. “Daesh [IS] is using this area as a transit zone. They use to it to transfer arms and personnel to Diyala and Baghdad, it’s important to uproot them from here so that our next tasks would be easier.”

As the day came to an end and the sun set behind the towers of smoke, fighters continued their tasks and villagers await the news of those who died. A loud sound was heard as a big rocket was launched — something similar to what Abu Mohammed described that caused his comrades to be afraid. It goes high, beneath a drone that can be seen in the sky, then disappears. A few seconds later a mushroom of smoke could be seen from Yathreb. It was a clear sign that the battle here was heading toward an end.

Source*

Related Topics:

Right on Cue: Australia Like Canada’s False ISIS Flag Brings in NWO Laws*

The Damascus Terror Conference and Israeli Control of America

The Irreligiosity of IS, ISIS/ISIL*

Iraqi Army Discovers Huge Depots of Israel-Made Munitions*

U.S. Used Al-Qaeda to Blackmail Yemen*

US Planes Supplying ISIL with Weapons and Food*

Change the Story, Change the World*

The U.S. – ISIS Can’t Get the Story Right!*

German Group Files War Crimes Against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Other CIA Officials*

German Group Files War Crimes Against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Other CIA Officials*

By Ryan Denson

If President Obama won’t do it, someone else will. Thankfully, a human rights group in Berlin, The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, has begun the process of indicting members of the Bush Administration by filing criminal complaints against the architects of the Admin’s torture program.

Calls for an immediate investigation by the German human rights group was started after outrage ensued on the case of a German citizen, Khalid El-Masri, who had been captured by CIA agents in 2004  because of a mistaken identity mix-up and was tortured at a secret prison in Afghanistan.

Wolfgang Kaleck, the general secretary of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, said:

“By investigating members of the Bush administration, Germany can help to ensure that those responsible for abduction, abuse and illegal detention do not go unpunished.”

In an interview with “Democracy Now,” Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and chairman of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, said that he believes Cheney, among others, have no defense for torturous actions and should be indicted:

“I strongly disagree that Bush, Cheney, et al., would have a defense. This wasn’t like these memos just appeared independently from the Justice Department. These memos were facilitated by the very people — Cheney, etc. — who we believe should be indicted. This was part of a conspiracy so they could get away with torture. But that’s not the subject here now.”

“Secondly, whatever we think of those memos, they’re of uselessness in Europe. Europe doesn’t accept this, quote, ‘golden shield’ of a legal defense. Either it’s torture or it’s not. Either you did it or you didn’t. And that’s one of the reasons, among others, why we’re going to Europe and why we went to Europe to bring these cases through the European Center.”

Ratner then hit the nail on the head regarding America’s dangerous exceptionalism path down the road:

“But, of course, you know, Cheney just showed us exactly why you have to — have to prosecute torture. Because if you don’t prosecute it, the next guy down the line is going to torture again. And that’s what Cheney said: ‘I would do it again.’”

Khalid El-Masri was on vacation in Skopje, in Macedonia, when he was pulled off of a bus by government agents, sodomized with a drug, and taken to the secret base that was identified only as Cobalt in the CIA torture report. After four months, and after the United States learned of the mistaken identity, they left him there and continued to torture him. They held him further because the U.S. realized they had been torturing the wrong man. Afterwards, they released him, dropping him off somewhere to resume his life.

El-Masri in his own words, in the same interview with “Democracy Now:”

[translated] I was the only one in this prison in Kabul who was actually treated slightly better than the other inmates. But it was known among the prisoners that other prisoners were constantly tortured with blasts of loud music, exposed to constant onslaughts of loud music. And they were—for up to five days, they were just sort of left hanging from the ceiling, completely naked in ice-cold conditions. The man from Tanzania, whom I mentioned before, had his arm broken in three places. He had injuries, trauma to the head, and his teeth had been damaged. They also locked him up in a suitcase for long periods of time, foul-smelling suitcase that made him vomit all the time. Other people experienced forms of torture whereby their heads were being pushed down and held under water.

He finished the interview with some pretty damning words that should make George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld shutter:

“And let me just say, Germany — whatever happened before, between the NSA spying on Germany and the fact that their citizen has now been revealed to have been kept in a torture place, when it was known that he was innocent, I’m pretty sure that Germany is going to take this very seriously.

Source*

Related Topics:

Occupy World: Judge Pursues Probe against Bush and Cheney*

Blair, Bush and Cameron: Deluded in their Hi-jack of God*

Evidence Immaterial: Netanyahu’s wants to be Added to the Bush-Blair Club of War Criminals*

Hillary Clinton George W. Bush’s Sister in Law*

Heavenly Signs: Pluto Discloses

Zapatistas Organize a Festival of Resistance and Rebellion*

Zapatistas Organize a Festival of Resistance and Rebellion*

One can see a lot of obstacles with ensuing scenarios to make sure it doesn’t come off and/or that whatever outcome is directed to serve the very forces they wish to rebel against…

By Leonidas Oikonomakis

This month, the Zapatistas are organizing a major international meeting in Chiapas: the World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion against Capitalism.

They don’t say “how are you?” Instead, they prefer to ask “what does your heart say?” If you are well, you respond “jun ko’on” (my heart is united). If not, you have to respond that your heart is in pieces (“chkat ko’on“). And you have to be honest.

The verb “to struggle” does not exist in their language. Instead, they use the phrase “to form the word.” If one wants to understand the Zapatista struggle, it is important that first you understand their language.

They are the tsotsiles Zapatistas of the Los Altos region and the Caracol II of Oventik, and they are getting ready to host the first World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion against Capitalism. The festival will take place between December 3 and January 3, and the main  celebration (which will also be the commemoration of the Zapatista rebellion of January 1, 1994) will be hosted here in Oventik on December 31.

“Oventik, lindo Oventik…”

The caracol II of Oventik, the caracol of “Resistance and Rebellion for Humanity” as the Zapatistas call it, lies in the mountainous region of Los Altos. This region is inhabited by indigenous Mayan people — Tsotsiles mostly, but a minority of Tseltales as well. The Oventik caracol is the one closest to the city of San Cristobal de las Casas, which probably also makes it the caracol most visited by the internacionales, the international compas who happen to visit Chiapas.

It is also a caracol that is extremely well organized when it comes to questions of education. Each caracol and each region has its own autonomous system of education, formed by the very people of each zone, from below, according to their own needs and dreams. The Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Education System of National Liberation of the Highlands of Chiapas (SERAZLN, ZACH — Sistema Educativo Rebelde Autónomo Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, Zona de Los Altos de Chiapas) consists of three autonomous projects:

– The EPRAZ (Escuelas Primarias Rebeldes Autónomas Zapatistas), the Zapatista Autonomous Primary Schools that now exist in every Zapatista community;

– The ESRAZ (Escuela Secundaria Rebelde Autónoma Zapatista), the Zapatista Autonomous Secondary School, a boarding school — the only one in Chiapas — that is located inside the Caracol of Oventik;

– The CELMRAZ (Centro de Español y Lenguas Mayas Rebelde Autónomo Zapatista), the Zapatista Autonomous Center of Spanish and Mayan languages.

The latter centre lies inside the caracol, and through its activities generates resources that are necessary for the sustainability of the primary and secondary schools. Here, people from all over the world who share the Zapatista principles of democracy, liberty and justice can come and learn Spanish or Tsotsil, living together with the other Zapatista students and promotores, and exchanging experiences, stories and songs. In other words, the enter is a meeting point of cultural exchange for all the people of the world.

“En este caracol yo de ti me enamoré…”

Participating even for a short while in the Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Education System of the Los Altos region, one cannot fail to notice “a silent revolution” that has been taking place in these lands ever since the Zapatista uprising of 1994: that of the emancipation of the women.

Here, the compañeras study, work and share all the responsibilities with the compañeros — ranging from cooking to participating in the Good Governance Councils. In addition, the compañeras also live and study in the secondary boarding school, away from their families, sometimes many kilometers away from their communities, and for a long time.

They live together, study together, watch movies in the legendary Cine Pirata, and sometimes even sing together, sharing their music and culture with the international alumni of CELMRAZ. All this in a land where women would in the past be “exchanged” for cows in wedding arrangements, or where women were not allowed to choose their partners — they were chosen for them by their male family members.

A few years ago, a Basque friend who had been in these lands back in 1996, two years after the rebellion, told me that what struck him back then was the position of women in the society. He recounted that women, Zapatista women even, used to walk a hundred meters behind their husbands, and when the men would stop to talk to somebody, the women also had to stop and wait — carefully maintaining their distance.

Twenty years later, when he returned, the thing that surprised him most was the women did not only work with the men, as equals at all levels, but also that they would now openly ask him to dance together in local concerts. He would probably have danced to the tunes of Otros Amores, a Zapatista band named in honor of the LGBTQ communities all over the world, which Zapatismo refers to with the term “other loves.” All the above have been achieved thanks in part to the Zapatista Autonomous Education System.

First World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism

It’s been a long time since the Zapatistas last organized a major international meeting like this one.

However, at a time when people all over the world — from the squares of Spain and Greece to Zucotti Park, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Mexico and beyond — all turn their gaze towards Chiapas looking for an autonomous, direct democratic and horizontal system of self-governance from below, while the only alternative we are being offered back home is the same old parliamentary democracy, the Zapatistas respond by saying: “come and we’ll find our way together, without leaders and hierarchical structures.”

Maybe at the time when we need them the most, the Zapatistas (together with the National Indigenous Congress) invite the people of the world to Mexico once again — to meet, discuss, organize and decide the way forward towards our own emancipation. Just as the women and men of Chiapas have been doing for the past twenty years.

The programme of the Festival can be found here.

Source*

Related Topics:

Colonial Governance Slaughter of the Human Spirit – The Zapatista*

Peruvian Woman Wins Battle against Multinational Mining Corporation*

The U.S. Connection to the Violence in Mexico*

Rising Up Against Neo-Colonial Rule in Burkino Faso*

U.S. Wants to Extradite from Cuba FBI’s Most Wanted*

Haitian U.S. Puppet PM Lamothe Resigns Amid Protests*

The U.S. Connection to the Violence in Mexico*

The U.S. Connection to the Violence in Mexico*

By Jim Cohen

The disappearance and likely massacre of 43 students from the rural teachers’ school of Ayotzinapa in Mexico September 26 has provoked shock and outrage internationally.

Within Mexico, in addition to unprecedented levels of public anger, it has raised serious doubts about the sustainability of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s mode of government, with its aggressively neoliberal economic program and levels of violence as high/higher than under his predecessor, Felipe Calderón, who initiated the drug war in 2006 with US collaboration.

Professor of law and political science at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, John Ackerman explores the sources of growing dissatisfaction in Mexico and sheds light on how the US connection perpetuates Mexico’s social inequalities, endemic violence and authoritarian government.

Ackerman is also editor-in-chief of the Mexican Law Review and a columnist for Proceso magazine and La Jornada newspaper. A leading public intellectual in Mexico, he is a frequent contributor to the international media. For the academic year 2014-2015, he is a visiting professor at the Institute of Latin American Studies (University of Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle) and at Sciences Po (PSIA).

Jim Cohen: How long have you been living in Mexico, and what does your work consist of at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)?

John Ackerman: I’ve been based in Mexico since 1993. I’ve been a Mexican citizen since 2000, and you might say as well that I’m a Mexican nationalist. I work at the Institute for Legal Research of the UNAM and teach with the law and political science faculties. One of my classes is on constitutional theory, but it’s actually about the Mexican revolution of 1910 and the origins of Mexico’s world-historical 1917 constitution.

You’re not just a Mexican citizen, but also a nationalist: Could you elaborate on that?

Jim Cohen: Nationalism is a much-abused term, but I’m using it in what I think is the best sense. In the US or European perspective, it is often associated with ethnic exclusionism, but Mexican nationalism is more of the civic sort – very open, democratic, plural, inclusive and forward-looking.

John Ackerman: You emphasize in many of your writings and speeches the positive legacy of the Mexican revolution, and in particular, the 1917 Constitution, whose principles you see as still very pertinent to our times.

 

Jim Cohen: Yes. This is the perfect moment for the revival of the principles of the Mexican Revolution, and of the constitution that arose from it. It is a product of an earlier period, prior to the Cold War and even to the Russian Revolution, when social reformers had a much broader menu of options.

The Cold War closed down options on both sides of the divide. In contrast, the constitution that emerged from the revolution is very open and plural. Some of it was directly inspired by the radical rationalist ideals of Flores Magón, an anarcho-syndicalist, as well as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. In short, in Mexico there is a plural and even subversive understanding of what “liberalism” means. It provides a very useful way to rethink new directions for progressive politics today.

The US political and ideological establishment, and liberal democracy in general, have been left celebrating their “victory” of 1989 without being able to create new visions for the 21st century.

John Ackerman: Over the past 20 years, it has become clear that the end of the Cold War has meant more of a defeat for (neo)liberalism than for progressive thought. Many people thought that progressive thought was defeated in 1989 because we no longer had the communist referent and the cleavage in politics that it represented; political discourse is dominated by liberal, or rather neoliberal “democracy.” In my view, it’s quite the opposite: Liberalism itself has become hollowed out over the past 20 years. It’s not so easy to claim that “really existing democracy” is about liberty and freedom when the communist adversary has disappeared.

This “democracy” hasn’t gone through any innovation. In a recent speech, Obama declared that his foreign policy is in complete continuity with that of Bush and that the United States must be “just as much of a leader tomorrow as in the 20thcentury” by continuing “to defend the values of freedom, democracy, competition.”

Jim Cohen: This is pure nostalgia. The US political and ideological establishment, and liberal democracy in general, have been left celebrating their “victory” of 1989 without being able to create new visions for the 21st century. As for the left, it has the world open to it. It has more flexibility than in the past because the communist referent was very constraining; one was either for – or against – it.

John Ackerman: Today there is complete freedom to explore new possibilities and that is beginning to happen, as we can see in a whole range of struggles, from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street to recent movements in Brazil and Turkey.

Jim Cohen: We are experimenting with new ways of understanding politics and power. There is Podemos in Spain, for instance. The left is ahead of the game, whereas liberal democrats – and I’m not sure how liberal and democratic they are any more – are just playing the same old record over and over again.

 

That is why what is happening in Mexico today is so powerful. [President Enrique] Peña Nieto, with his reforms, was supposedly the poster child of the international press and foreign investors for a supposedly triumphant liberal democratic project.

For the Financial Times he was the perfect president, “the answer to Chávez” and the “populism” of the South. They even said he was going to revive the “Washington consensus.” But after less than two years in office, that project has come tumbling down and been exposed in all its hollowness. The people of Mexico and the world are demanding something else. In Mexico, these demands are made more powerful and pregnant by the revolutionary legacy.

The oil expropriation of 1938 was not about ideology or even so much about oil – it was about labor! It was carried out in response to blackmail by international oil companies, which refused to recognize collective bargaining and Mexican labor legislation.

People are wondering who is going to lead today’s uprising in Mexico. How will it be channeled? Will a new political party arise? I’m not so concerned about that, precisely because of the legacy of the Mexican Revolution. When you listen to the people who are taking to the streets today and their leaders, in particular those in the state of Guerrero – they’re democratic and humble leaders – they are looking to recover the revolutionary ideals and promises of equality, justice, rational and egalitarian development, sovereignty and separation of church and state. We don’t really need a new ideology when so much of it is there already!

Yaqui Indians of northern Mexico who have been captured after uprising against unjust seizure of their land. Sold as debt peons slaves to the infamous henequen (for rope and twine) plantations in the Valle Nacional,Yucatan where they faced a life expectancy of 6 months. It was cheaper to buy more Indian slaves than to keep them alive.Yanqi Indians made up a large part of the army of Obregon and fought with a desperate fury. Conditions such as these lead to the Mexican Revolution .Photo from the muckraker book Barbarous Mexico by John Kenneth Turner

John Ackerman: The 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa were training to be teachers in a rural teachers’ school in Guerrero. That state has a particular history of social struggles in which these schools have played an important role. How exceptional, then, is the case of Guerrero?

Jim Cohen: There are a few dozen such schools in Oaxaca, Michoacán and other states. But Guerrero has been very special ever since the days of independence and the revolution, a particularly intense place of struggle, because it has a more sophisticated political consciousness than elsewhere. It’s one of the poorest states in the country, but critical consciousness has very deep roots there. People claim their ties to indigenous traditions, but also to national, revolutionary and independence traditions.

John Ackerman: Speaking of these traditions, could you say more about the legacy of President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-40), of whom you’re an admirer?

Jim Cohen: Today’s “techno-saurs” – that is, technocrats who are actually dinosaurs – think of Lázaro Cárdenas as the representative of the “old guard,” as if he were Stalin in person – statist, authoritarian, “populist.” He’s supposedly a figure of another era, which “modern” Mexico needs to escape . . . through liberal, democratic, market-based reforms. That is an enormous mistake.

 

Cárdenas is a very special figure. The closest equivalent in the US would be Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was a state-builder and could be even considered the “father” of the modern Mexican state. He gave material form to the promises of the revolution and Mexican independence. Without him, it would be impossible to imagine the exceptional stability of the Mexican regime from 1940 to the present, with elections with alternation of power every six years. Many other Latin American countries have had civil wars and coups. Mexico has been authoritarian, and, since the creation of the Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI) in 1946, neoliberal, elitist and exclusionary, but entirely stable.

The oil expropriation of 1938 was not about ideology or even so much about oil – it was about labor! It was carried out in response to blackmail by international oil companies, which refused to recognize collective bargaining and Mexican labor legislation.

The Mexican Supreme Court threw out their case and [the companies] decided to suspend oil production if they weren’t allowed to operate by their own rules. Cárdenas said no – either I accept an enclave in my country or I make my country whole in terms of the rule of law.

If he hadn’t expropriated oil in 1938, Mexico would never have been able to defend its sovereignty as it did throughout the 20th century, and subordination to US interests would have advanced much more rapidly. Oil would have been privatized a long time ago; we would have US military bases all over the country today. There would be much more poverty, much less development.

With the birth of the PRI in the year he took office, the revolution was transformed from a project and a compass for political action into pure ideology and state myth-making.

Enrique Peña Nieto, upon entering office in 2012, proclaimed his “Pact for Mexico.” One of his central objectives was to declare war on the legacy of the Mexican Revolution and Lázaro Cárdenas. In June 2014, about three months before the students’ disappearance, I wrote an article for La Jornada saying that this attack on the Mexican revolution and the Cardenas legacy would have unexpected consequences and suggesting that Peña Nieto might not even be able to finish out his term of office. That is not an implausible outcome.

John Ackerman: After Cárdenas left office in 1940, how was his legacy lost? How did the process of growing dependency on the US and US capital advance?

Jim Cohen: The first step was World War II. Already in the 1930s, Mexico cooperated in the US war economy through a combination of coercion and willingness. But the break from the revolutionary sovereign legacy of Mexico really began in 1946 with President Miguel Alemán (1946-52). The first civilian president after a series of generals, he was a young technocrat and an early neoliberal. With the birth of the PRI in the year he took office, the revolution was transformed from a project and a compass for political action into pure ideology and state myth-making. The Mexican political class, now fully allied with Washington, used the revolution’s legacy to support its own legitimacy while undermining in practice all the revolution’s principles.

 

Alemán was famous for purchasing his suits in Hollywood and his Rolls Royce in London. He was an actor of global financial capitalism. He was also perhaps Mexico’s most corrupt president to date; the comparison with Peña Nieto is striking.

He was a union-buster who sent the military to break up a strike of the oil workers’ union; he attacked the railroad workers’ union and placed the corrupt Fidel Velázquez at the head of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), where he remained until his death in 1997. That is how pro-US neoliberal authoritarianism in revolutionary packaging was born.

In contrast, the fable we’re told today is that up until the 1980s we had a supposedly nationalistic, anti-American political class, and that the change took place beginning in the late 1980s, with presidents de la Madrid, Salinas and Zedillo. No! These three presidents have followed in Alemán’s footsteps.

In Mexico, perhaps more than anywhere else in the world, the US will always favor authoritarian stability over democracy fueled by popular movements and demands.

The PRI as such has always been pro-American and has always covered that over with revolutionary mythology. The economic growth in the years of the “Mexican miracle” (1950s and ’60s) was very much linked to foreign capital. There was some import substitution industrialization, but never extreme protectionism. All the presidents had close ties with the US government. The US government was complicit in the 1968 student massacre.

What remained unattractive from the dominant US perspective were the PRI’s “peak organizations” of unions of workers and peasants, inherited from the revolution. These were top-heavy, highly corrupt and clientelistic, but they did assure some sort of accountability of the politicians to workers and peasants. Progressively since 1946 these popular gains have been peeled away.

The official democratic transition was celebrated in 2000 with the first clean presidential elections, in which the PRI lost to the Party of National Action (PAN). But Calderón of the PAN won an extremely dubious victory in 2006, and there are also doubts about 2012, when the PRI returned to power using lots of material incentives to corrupt the vote.

The so-called “democratic transition” is little more than a separation between the political class and the people. The standard view of Mexico considers the PRI’s peaceful acceptance of its loss in the 2000 presidential elections to be proof of the democratic nature of the new regime.

Regarding US policy in Mexico with regard to the drug war, the central objective is to make sure that the violence stays south of the border.

However, the celebration of elections and peaceful alternation of presidential power were already the norm in Mexico. I look at the 2000 election as just another changing of the guard. The new coalition led by the PAN on the basis of “neoliberal spoils” in the early 1990s had to present itself as “different” without empowering citizens in the slightest. The 2000 elections were no more “free and fair” nor less authoritarian than earlier ones, from 1940 on.

 

John Ackerman: How do you see the progressive parties that have come along since then? First the PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution, founded in 1989) and, recently, Morena (Movement for National Regeneration), founded by Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his followers, who quit the PRD and condemned it for reproducing the opportunism it claimed to be opposing?

Jim Cohen: We’ll see what happens with Morena, but institutional politics as such has run out of steam. One of its great weaknesses has been its inability to link together social struggles and political action, or to provide adequate connections between the local, national and international dimensions of resistance. The left needs to take stock of these weaknesses if it is to generate new spaces of convergence for a broad range of talented people and interesting proposals, while refusing the corrupt clientelism of the parties, the self-interested “solidarity” of the NGOs and the intolerant sectarian politics of the ultra-left.

John Ackerman: How would you characterize the role of the US throughout the transition you’ve described?

Jim Cohen: The United States has been trying to make sure that Mexico’s transition doesn’t “get out of hand.” It has always supported the political class and the institutions, while never actively opposing the corruption and the human rights abuses. In Mexico, perhaps more than anywhere else in the world, the US will always favor authoritarian stability over democracy fueled by popular movements and demands.

Calderón’s war on the drug cartels upon taking office in 2006 caused the levels of violence to spike, which gave the US an opening to provide military and security “aid.” How would you fit this recent chapter into the broader story of US military policy?

Calderón’s legitimacy problem due to the circumstances of the 2006 election, which pushed him to militarize the drug war, is comparable to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq after the 2000 elections. Both covered over legitimacy problems by rolling out the military.

Regarding US policy in Mexico with regard to the drug war, the central objective is to make sure that the violence stays south of the border. There’s much less interest in reducing the violence as such, or even in cutting the flow of drugs. It’s absolutely logical from a US national security perspective: They don’t want beheadings and disappeared students north of border; they want them south!

The real problem is more on the Mexican side. The Mexican government has no humanitarian concern about its own people. The Mexican state has assumed the US’ priorities in the “drug war,” under Peña Nieto, just as under Calderón. The US government would not allow a similar strategy in its own country, precisely because of all the violence it would engender.

The US offers technical, intelligence and direct military support which the Mexican government is happy to receive because it means money, intelligence information and increased power in the hands of those Mexicans who manage the helicopters, the weapons and the intelligence.

There is complicity between Mexican leaders in their impunity and the “national security” concerns of the United States, and that is what leads to this dead-end street.

It gives them enormous power to conduct surveillance and shoot people at will. Those involved want more political power, not less. That leads to complicity between the corrupt, authoritarian Mexican political class and the Pentagon. This has been creating disaster in the country. Neither Obama nor the US Senate have said much about human rights violations or corruption in Mexico – they’re off the table – even though it’s internationally recognized that Mexico is among the most corrupt countries with the worst human rights violations in the world.

Pancho Villa (June 5, 1878 – July 20, 1923)

John Ackerman: Doesn’t the US State Department’s website carry information on human rights violations in Mexico?

Jim Cohen: Yes, there is an annual report on the situation of human rights that they have to do for any country that receives military support, and Mexico is in that report, but that’s where it stays.

When Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, Congress tried to impose some conditionality on the reauthorizing of those funds, but that never got very far. There is never clear intervention in favour of human rights and against corruption in Mexico. The word on the street is that the former US ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual (2009-2011) was kicked out because he was too interested in investigating corruption.

In short, there is complicity between Mexican leaders in their impunity and the “national security” concerns of the United States, and that is what leads to this dead-end street in which nobody can move, because the United States is totally invested in the drug war and present on the ground. Recently the Wall Street Journal ran some exposés about how US Marshalls dress up as Mexican Marines for special missions such as the capture of drug lord “El Chapo” Guzmán in February 2014. In 2011, CIA agents were shot and wounded by Mexican federal police in Morelos. Drone flights over Mexican territory began under Obama in 2010.

In Mexico, the United States hasn’t dared try a Colombia-type solution with actual military bases, but they do have so-called “fusion centers” throughout the country for intelligence-gathering.

In short then, the Mexicans offer the US what it wants: keeping the violence to the south of the border; the Americans offer the Mexicans what they want, which is power – including power over specific drug gangs, on behalf of other drug gangs.

 

In the economic domain, it’s the same: The Mexican oligarchs are very interested in having good relations with US corporations because it gives them power and influence, and US corporations are also very interested in that relationship because they can insert themselves into the Mexican system and make big profits. Nobody is actually fighting for the Mexican people. The Mexican economic and political transition is comparable to that of Russia, with the same concentration of wealth and power among a handful of oligarchs, starting with Carlos Slim.

What NAFTA has clearly done is destabilize the countryside by making it increasingly difficult for small peasant producers to make a living, while increasing the power of agribusiness.

The transition, in short, has been mostly about the growing isolation of the political class and the concentration of oligarchic power, as both groups get closer and closer to the Pentagon and Wall Street. This has created a sclerotic, lifeless system. Today, with a mass movement building, the system is having a “heart attack.” You can get over one heart attack, but the next one may be more deadly – which would be a good thing, because this system needs to die and the prospect of its death raises great hope.

John Ackerman: What, in theory, would replace today’s system in crisis?

Jim Cohen: The contemporary opposition movement in Mexico is not based on religious fundamentalism or on fascism, but on radical democratic social liberalism, which traces its source to the Mexican Revolution. That’s what is coming to the surface now, and that’s why everyone should support the new Mexican Revolution. It’s about inclusion, democracy, sovereignty and healthy relations with the United States. Nobody in Mexico is talking about cutting off relations with the US and building walls – they want the walls to come down! They want to support their brothers and sisters in the US. Everything about these new grassroots social forces challenging the existing system of US-Mexico relations is positive – I see almost no risks.

John Ackerman: Could you talk about NAFTA and its effects on Mexican society?

Jim Cohen: I’m not an economist by specialty, but what NAFTA has clearly done is destabilize the countryside by making it increasingly difficult for small peasant producers to make a living, while increasing the power of agribusiness. Its direct effect on Mexico’s sluggish economic growth over the past two decades is a separate question that I’m not qualified to answer, but socially it has meant an enormous displacement of people from the countryside and increased migration to the US. Migration has decreased recently, but in the first decade of the 21st century, there were half a million people crossing every year. That in turn has fed narcotrafficking, because in these same regions, the youth need to find some option, and if the militarized border makes migration more difficult, how are you going to make a living?

Reinforcing the border with more walls and Border Patrol agents increases the income of the polleros who take the migrants across. It’s gotten harder and more expensive to get across, which increases the role of human traffickers, some of whom are also narcotraffickers and violent assassins.

 

All of this illustrates why violence in Mexico is so much the result of US policy. Beyond the complicities between dominant economic and political actors on both sides, there is the money of US drug users coming into Mexico and funding the narcos; the laundering of money through the banking system, which the banks themselves encourage, as is well documented. Then you have the tens of thousands of guns crossing the border into Mexico each year, with the backing of the gun lobby. Obama tried a few years ago to institute increased reporting requirements for gun sellers, but it was total window dressing.

The mass deportation of undocumented immigrants from the US also feeds the fire, in two ways. First, as Obama himself said when announcing his recent executive order, the US will now only send back the criminals, which of course will further boost criminality. Second, reinforcing the border with more walls and Border Patrol agents increases the income of the polleros who take the migrants across. It’s gotten harder and more expensive to across, which increases the role of human traffickers, some of whom are also narcotraffickers and violent assassins. There’s a perfect (or imperfect!) storm brewing; it’s hard to imagine that this is sustainable.

John Ackerman: Does Mexico, as a partner to NAFTA, still belong to Latin America? What does the North American referent actually mean to Mexico?

Jim Cohen: Although it borders the US, Mexico – the political class included – has always thought of itself as part of Latin America, and even as a buffer against US imperialism in the region. But since Peña Nieto, the message has been, rather, “Let’s not even call ourselves Latin Americans, we are North American!” A few days before his inauguration in December 2012, he wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post (11/23/2012) calling for greater integration and even for “North American energy independence.” No Mexican politician, even the most neoliberal, had ever gone so far in speaking of Mexico as part of North America rather than Latin America. I’m against this. Mexico is and should remain a Latin American country.

And yet, if we’re going to take North America seriously, let’s take it seriously! How many Mexicans live in North America? About 120 million in Mexico and over 30 million in the US. “Non-Hispanic whites” in the US number less than 200 million – only slightly more than 60 percent – and they are very mixed in terms of ethnicity or national origin. In that sense Mexicans make up a much more unified population than whites.

Canada’s population is small. If we’re going to talk about a North American region, it should take seriously the interests and the democratic vision of Mexicans! There is an enormous potential for solidarity between Mexicans in the US and Mexicans in Mexico. That could really change North America for the better. If it’s only the Mexican people battling against its own political class allied with the US, that’s a lot of weight on the shoulders of the Mexican people, but if they have the support of Mexicans and others in the US, that could be the way out of the impasse.

Last December 3, protest actions were held in 43 US cities in solidarity with the 43 missing students. This involved not just Mexican-Americans and Latinos, of course. We are reliving the moment of solidarity with Latin America in the ’70s and ’80s, at the time of the Chilean coup and the Reagan administration’s interventions in Central America, only now it involves a close neighbor. Such solidarity can really make a difference.

John Ackerman: What would you reply to someone who says that it’s not for US citizens to decide how Mexicans run their government and that criticism of the Mexican government simply reproduces imperialist relations?

Jim Cohen: After the coup d’état in Honduras in 2009, Obama declared that it was hypocritical to criticize the US both for intervening and for not intervening. It was his way of justifying the US’s inaction against the coup. My response: The idea that the US can somehow “not intervene” in Latin America is a fantasy! The question is not whether they intervene or not but how they intervene. Militarily? In favor of authoritarian regimes? Or rather in favor of democratic social movements?

Many people have told me that Secretary of State John Kerry doesn’t have a minute to think about Latin America because he’s too worried about the Middle East. I find this very hard to believe. The US is always fully involved in Latin America; it’s just a question of how that involvement is directed. Yes, the US should withdraw all military and security funding for the Mexican government – Colombia also. But instead, let’s have a Marshall Plan! Let’s support development, progress and democracy, instead of covert CIA missions.

Source*

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Ask Senator McConnell Why the War-on-Drugs was never a ‘War’*

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Mexico signing away a Sustainable Energy Future*

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Mexico Protest Blacked Out By Media

Peruvian Woman Wins Battle against Multinational Mining Corporation*

Peruvian Woman Wins Battle against Multinational Mining Corporation*

Indigenous Peruvian farmworker Maxima Acuña de Chaupe withstood violent eviction attempts, beatings, and a legal battle to protect her land from being turned into an open-pit gold mine

By Sarah Lazare

Acuña de Chaupe at her property in front of the Blue Lagoon (Photo: Jorge Chávez Ortiz)

For over three years, indigenous Peruvian farmworker Maxima Acuña de Chaupe has refused to allow a U.S.-based multinational corporation to turn her land into an open-pit gold mine, withstanding multiple violent eviction attempts by corporate and state agents.

On Wednesday, Acuña de Chaupe finally saw victory when a Peruvian appeals court struck down a lawsuit levied by the Yanacocha mine—which is 51 percent owned by Colorado’s Newmont Mining Corporation—that had sought to expel and imprison the family for “invading” their own land.

The ruling is an important win in a case that has become a rallying point for local resistance to multinational plunder.

In 1994, Acuña de Chaupe and her family built their home in Tragadero Grande in the region of Cajamarca next to the Blue Lagoon of Celendin. This lake was sought after for the building of the open-pit Conga gold mining project—an extension of the one at Yanacocha.

This mine is widely opposed by peasant, worker, and indigenous peoples in the region, who have protested its resource extraction, exploitation, displacement, and environmental harm with with mass marches and general strikes.

When Yanacocha sought to buy Acuña de Chaupe’s land in 2011, she refused, in a bid to protect the environment and her family’s home.

I may be poor. I may be illiterate, but I know that our mountain lakes are our real treasure,” Acuña de Chaupe told New Internationalist Magazine two years ago.

“From them, I can get fresh and clean water for my children, for my husband and for my animals!”

“Yet, are we expected to sacrifice our water and our land so that the Yanacocha people can take gold back to their country? Are we supposed to sit quietly and just let them poison our land and water?” Acuña de Chaupe continued.

What ensued, according to Acuña de Chaupe, was a corporate intimidation campaign, orchestrated by the mining company with the aid of private security and the Peruvian state.

Acuña de Chaupe says she and her family have faced at least three violent eviction attempts by the company, aided by Peruvian police and soldiers. One beating left Acuña de Chaupe and her daughter unconscious and landed her son in the hospital.

The plight of Acuña de Chaupe and her family sparked outrage and support from regional and international organizations, including the Women’s Movement of Peru and World March of Women. At the recent People’s Summit in Lima, Peru, climate justice advocates held a large rally in solidarity with Acuña de Chaupe.

Here is a video of Acuña de Chaupe telling her story:

During the legal process, Maxima repeatedly claimed to have been a victim of police aggression. In January of 2013, approximately 60 agents from the Division of Special Operations invaded her property, and beat her up, her husband and her son.

After the verdict , Maxima’s lawyer announced that “it has been determined that there is no evidence to prove what the mining company has been saying, that they [Maxima and her family] are usurpers that took their land by beating the police. All those lies have proven unsuccessful … Justice has prevailed thanks to perseverance. What was happening to [Maxima’s Family] was an act of injustice.”

Maxima also made public statements after the acquittal, saying, “I want to thank the judges of the court of justice of Cajamarca for being impartial and applying justice. And for not permitting that we the farmworkers suffer at the hands of Yanacocha. I pray to God to take care of them. During the four years this process has lasted, many authorities tortured me, defamed me, and persecuted me. But here we have good authorities.”

Wednesday’s ruling is being celebrated by people across Cajamarca, where a recent election resulted in the victory of a candidate whose main campaign agenda opposes the expansion of mining in the area.

When Acuña de Chaupe refused to give in, Yanacocha sued her and her family on charges they were illegally occupying their own land. In August, a judge sentenced four members of her family to “to two years and eight months of suspended imprisonment for not vacating the land,” Telesur reports. “The judge also ordered the family to pay close to US$2,000 in penalties.”

Wednesday’s ruling, however, tosses out all of these sentences.

“I want to thank the judges of the court of justice of Cajamarca for being impartial and applying justice and for not permitting that we the farmworkers suffer at the hands of Yanacocha,” Acuña de Chaupe declared following her acquittal. “I pray to God to take care of them. During the four years this process has lasted, many authorities tortured me, defamed me, and persecuted me. But here we have good authorities.”

Source*

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Israel Resumes Airstrikes on Gaza*

Israel Resumes Airstrikes on Gaza*

Israel launches airstrike on Gaza in apparent retaliation for rocket attack

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories are expected to heighten after Israeli aircraft bombed a site in the Khan Younis area of the southern Gaza Strip on Friday (December 19).

The target is believed to have been a Hamas base.

A Palestinian man whose house was destroyed organizes his tent in the West Bank village of Khirbet al-Makhoul, Jordan Valley

According to a spokesperson for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), the attack was in response to a rocket fired from Gaza, which hit an open area in the south of Israel.

There are no reports of casualties following either strike.

Israel’s attacks are the first since a seven-week war on Gaza ended three months ago.

The incident is expected to put a further strain on an already tense Israeli-Palestinian relationship.

Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Israeli-occupied West Bank have all seen months of violent clashes.

A day before the strikes, Israel denounced a Palestinian-proposed UN Security Council draft resolution for peace.

In addition to calling for peace within a year, the resolution proposes an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories by 2017.

Commenting on the proposal, Yuval Steinitz, Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs, said:

“This Palestinian move is a hostile and extremely unfriendly step against Israel. It’s not a step towards peace, it’s a step towards war.”

However, Assem Araura, a resident of the West Bank city of Ramallah, was enthusiastic about the motion:

“This is a good step towards ending the occupation under very complicated security conditions, under the barbaric actions of the (Israeli) occupation against Palestinians. And, God willing, we reach a solution to end the Palestinian case and we end the Israeli presence in the Palestinian territories.”

The draft resolution follows the April 2014 breakdown of US-mediated talks on Palestinian statehood.

Source*

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While Waging War on Gaza Israel Expands Settlement Construction on West Bank and Jerusalem*

Pathological Israeli Security Forces Spray Raw Sewage on Palestinian Homes

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Egypt Seizes Newspaper that States it has Never Executed any Israeli Spy*

Canada and Israel Partners in Racial and Humanitarian Crimes*

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