Maggie Alarcón

Posts Tagged ‘Hugo Chavez’

Salvar a Venezuela

In CELAC, History, Politics, Politics on April 21, 2017 at 2:03 pm

venezuelalibrecastrocuba

Por Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

La hostilidad del imperialismo estadounidense hacia la Revolución Bolivariana ha sido permanente y multiforme desde que Hugo Chávez resultó electo Presidente. Según avanzaba el proceso de transformaciones sociales promovido por Chávez, siempre respetando las normas constitucionales y la legalidad, el Imperio ensayaba nuevas acciones agresivas violatorias del Derecho Internacional.

La obra revolucionaria rescató a millones de venezolanos de la pobreza absoluta y la miseria, puso fin al analfabetismo, garantizó a todos y todas el acceso a la educación y la atención médica gratuita, les devolvió, en fin, la plena soberanía.

Venezuela ha cambiado sustancialmente. Sus grandes riquezas naturales, por primera vez en la historia, no son para el disfrute exclusivo de una minoría, sino que han sido y son redistribuidas para beneficio de las amplias masas. Pero ha sido una marcha cuesta arriba sorteando obstáculos de todo tipo.

Defender lo mucho que ha logrado y seguir conquistando mayores cotas de justicia constituye un perenne desafío para el pueblo del Libertador. Intentos de golpe de estado, “huelga” petrolera, sabotajes, sanciones económicas, diplomáticas y políticas, amenazas militares y una descomunal, multimillonaria, propaganda para aislarla y pretender justificar la intervención foránea, han sido el pan de cada día impuesto a un pueblo que, en contraste, no sólo no ha atacado ni dañado a nadie sino que se convirtió, al mismo tiempo, en ejemplo de fraternidad para con los otros pueblos del Continente.

Porque si Venezuela ha cambiado mucho, el Imperio no ha cambiado nada. Ayer, Obama, sin temor al ridículo, determinó que Venezuela es “una amenaza inusual y extraordinaria para la seguridad nacional de Estados Unidos”. Ahora Trump blande contra ella la llamada Carta Democrática Interamericana, cuyo texto debemos suponer que no ha leído pues, como se ufana en proclamarlo, el actual mandatario detesta la lectura.

La muerte de Hugo Chávez fue un golpe doloroso que estremeció a su país y al mundo. Desde Bolívar nadie hizo tanto como él por la emancipación de su pueblo, nadie supo hacer de Venezuela paradigma de solidaridad humana y auténtica democracia. Dedicado a su causa hasta el último aliento, antes de despedirse, Chávez propuso como a su sustituto y continuador a Nicolás Maduro, su mejor discípulo, un joven obrero y cercano colaborador, quien, en aquellas dramáticas circunstancias y enfrentando a una poderosa maquinaria de difamación y odio en su contra, resultó vencedor en las elecciones generales.

El gobierno de Maduro no ha conocido un instante de respiro. A la drástica caída en los precios del petróleo en el mercado internacional se ha unido la guerra económica desatada por Washington y en la que participa abiertamente la oligarquía local que especula con las limitaciones materiales y provoca escaseces y malestar. Estos fueron los factores principales que permitieron a la oposición obtener una mayoría de escaños en la Asamblea Nacional.

Hay que recordar que desde la primera elección de Chávez como Presidente en Venezuela se han realizado más elecciones, plebiscitos y otras consultas populares que las que hayan podido efectuarse en los países del Hemisferio que cínicamente quieren erigirse en jueces de la situación venezolana. En la mayoría de esos ejercicios democráticos vencieron las fuerzas del chavismo y cuando no fue así los resultados fueron aceptados por Chávez y por Maduro.

Conviene recordar asimismo que ganar o perder transitoriamente la mayoría de los miembros del órgano legislativo no significa ganar o perder el gobierno en los países de América Latina. Tampoco lo es en Estados Unidos: si tal cosa rigiera en el vecino del Norte la lista de Presidentes despojados de sus cargos sería interminable: por ejemplo Clinton, Bush y Obama, para sólo mencionar los más recientes en una bicentenaria tradición en la que resulta normal ejercer la jefatura del Estado contando con una minoría parlamentaria. Para no hablar de Trump cuya presidencia no es cuestionada -aunque Hillary Clinton lo superó por más de tres millones de votos- y ostenta el mayor índice de desaprobación del que haya memoria en aquel país.

No debe olvidarse, sobre todo, el carácter subversivo, anticonstitucional, proclamado sin ambages por Henry Ramos Allup cuando, al asumir la dirección de la Asamblea, anunció un plan para expulsar de la jefatura del Estado a Nicolás Maduro en seis meses. No formuló un programa legislativo, anunció un golpe de estado. Desde entonces no ha hecho otra cosa que alentar el caos y la inestabilidad institucional.

La OEA en cueros

La conducta ilegítima e irresponsable de la oposición lejos de sumarle apoyo interno ha generado la creciente resistencia de un pueblo que, más allá de las ideologías, necesita y desea la paz y la convivencia frente a la agresión externa. Para derrocar al Gobierno legítimo había que recurrir al exterior y buscar en Washington lo que no pueden encontrar en Caracas.

Entonces aparece, nada más y nada menos, que la llamada Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) y su insólito Secretario General, Luis Almagro.

La historia del “ministerio de colonias yanquis” es sobradamente conocida. Hace más de un siglo, ante los primeros pasos para crear el “panamericanismo”, José Martí advirtió el peligro y llamó a pelear por la independencia verdadera de Nuestra América.

Para Almagro –o sea para el Imperio- el único problema en el Hemisferio es Venezuela. Su enfermiza obsesión antibolivariana los ha arrastrado al punto increíble de dar una suerte de golpe de estado dentro de la propia institución, desconociendo a sus propias autoridades –al representante de Bolivia, Presidente del Consejo Permanente y Decano de sus embajadores y al Vicepresidente que es el representante de Haití- para imponer su estrategia antivenezolana.

Si la OEA tuviese un mínimo de seriedad no le alcanzaría el tiempo para ocuparse de los problemas reales del Continente.

La represión masiva contra los latinoamericanos en Estados Unidos; el infame muro de Trump y sus medidas de proteccionismo comercial; la vergonzosa destitución de Dilma Roussef; la constante aparición de cementerios clandestinos en México y otros lugares; los asesinatos cotidianos de periodistas; los muchachos desaparecidos de Ayotzinapa, las niñas muertas en Guatemala, el incendio del Parlamento paraguayo; las huelgas y protestas populares en Argentina, Brasil y otros países, son parte del largo temario que interesa a los pueblos pero que no existen para Almagro ni para el dócil rebaño que lo sigue.

Porque la OEA no fue creada para bregar con la realidad. Nunca ha sido otra cosa que instrumento para la dominación imperial. Que a estas alturas echen mano a la vieja y desprestigiada herramienta, pisoteando incluso sus reglas y procedimientos, es un llamado de alerta. La agresión imperialista está en marcha y debemos detenerla.

El crimen se está cometiendo a la luz del día, a la vista de todos y contemplarlo en calma sería una complicidad imperdonable.

Urge multiplicar la solidaridad. Hay que salvar a Venezuela.

 

Publicado originalmente en Punto Final

We are all Diosdado

In Politics, US, Venezuela on June 2, 2015 at 1:10 pm

by Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

Issued on March 9, President Obama’s Executive Order tagging Venezuela as “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the US national security” and declaring “a national emergency to deal with this threat” caused justified alarm and widespread rejection throughout the Continent and beyond. It was not the first time that Washington used a language as arrogant as it is irrational. History is brimming with examples of how the Empire has made use of such accusations to launch military attacks and break international law in various ways. They used similar words to justify their brutal armed invasions of Panama and the tiny island of Granada, among other outrageous acts which crushed defenseless populations and brought death and destruction to nations stripped of their independence as a result.

Despite worldwide disapproval, the number of media campaigns against Venezuela has increased since then through a US-led propaganda apparatus that is now especially concentrating its attacks on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello. They are accusing him of being linked to international drug trafficking, a slanderous and yet unproved charge rapidly echoed by hundreds of newspapers and other media from all over the world.

Who is Diosdado Cabello and why is he under attack?

Ever since he was a young officer, he joined Hugo Chavez in the struggle against the abuse and corruption that marked the Fourth Republic and after that, in the peaceful transformation conducted by the Bolivarian Revolution. He played a key role in the popular movement of resistance that thwarted the fascist coup in 2002 and returned Chavez back being head of State for which he had been democratically-elected by most Venezuelans.

In a clumsy maneuver to divide Chavismo, and following Chavez’s unfortunate death, the same hardcore right-wingers who are now vilifying him tried to make him President of the Republic, but he adamantly refused. Diosdado Cabello gave a remarkable example of revolutionary firmness and spirit of unity, proving that he is moved by flattery no more than he is by threats.

Neither the conservative right nor imperialism forgives his attitude, as it embodies the will of a people bent on remaining independent and sovereign. To defend Diosdado Cabello is to defend Venezuela, it is to pay back the great excusable debt of  solidarity to all of Latin America. Because we are all Diosdado!


A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs4382.html

Diosdado somos todos

In Politics, US, Venezuela on May 29, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

 

La Orden Ejecutiva del Presidente Obama definiendo a Venezuela como “una inusual y extraordinaria amenaza a la seguridad nacional de los Estados Unidos” y declarando “una emergencia nacional para tratar con esta amenaza” el pasado 9 de marzo provocó la alarma justificada y el rechazo unánime en todo el Continente y más allá. No era la primera vez que Washington empleaba un lenguaje tan arrogante como irracional. La historia está repleta de agresiones militares y otras violaciones al derecho internacional cometidas por el Imperio valiéndose de semejante formulación. Con esas palabras justificaron brutales invasiones armadas contra Panamá y la diminuta isla de Granada entre otros atropellos con los que aplastaron pueblos inermes y causaron muerte y destrucción en naciones que fueron despojadas de su independencia.

Pese a la desaprobación universal, desde esa fecha se ha intensificado la campaña mediática contra Venezuela. El aparato propagandístico dirigido por Estados Unidos concentra ahora sus ataques especialmente contra Diosdado Cabello, Presidente de la Asamblea Nacional de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela a quien acusan calumniosamente de vínculos con el narcotráfico internacional. Sin presentar prueba alguna el infundio es repetido rápidamente por centenares de periódicos y otros medios de comunicación en todo el mundo.

¿Quién es Diosdado Cabello y por qué lo atacan?

Unido a Hugo Chávez desde que era un joven oficial lo acompañó en su lucha contra los desmanes y la corrupción de la Cuarta República y después en la obra transformadora y pacífica de la Revolución Bolivariana. Fue pieza clave en la resistencia popular que en 2002 derrotó al golpe fascista y reinstauró a Chávez en la jefatura del Estado para la que había sido elegido democráticamente con el voto de la mayoría de los venezolanos.

Cuando se produjo la desgraciada desaparición física de Chávez y la misma derecha ultramontana que ahora lo denigra quiso, en una torpe maniobra para dividir al chavismo, que Diosdado asumiera la Presidencia de la República encontró en él el rechazo más vigoroso. Diosdado Cabello dio un ejemplo extraordinario de firmeza revolucionaria y espíritu unitario. Demostró que no lo doblegan las lisonjas ni las amenazas.

La derecha reaccionaria y el imperialismo no le perdonaron una conducta que lo hace hoy sintetizar la voluntad de un pueblo dispuesto a preservar la independencia y la soberanía. Defender a Diosdado Cabello es defender a Venezuela, es cumplir un deber de solidaridad inexcusable para todo latinoamericano. Porque Diosdado somos todos.

“Intervención” para Evo , Rafael , Kristina , “Pepe” , Dilma, Fidel, Hugo, et al de America Latina y el Caribe ante los Jefes de Estado de la CEE

In Economics, History, Politics on August 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Con lenguaje simple,  trasmitido en traducción simultánea a más de un centenar de Jefes de Estado y dignatarios de la Comunidad Europea, cualquier  Presidente de la región lograria  inquietar a su audiencia con estas palabras del intelectual venezolano Luis Britto García cuando dijo: 

“Aquí pues yo, ______________, he venido a encontrar a los que celebran el encuentro.

Aquí pues yo, descendiente de los que poblaron la América hace cuarenta mil años, he venido a encontrar a los que la encontraron hace solo quinientos años. Aquí pues, nos encontramos todos. Sabemos lo que somos, y es bastante.

Nunca tendremos otra cosa.

El hermano aduanero europeo me pide papel escrito con visa para poder descubrir a los que me descubrieron.

El hermano usurero europeo me pide pago de una deuda contraída por Judas, a quien nunca autoricé a venderme.

El hermano leguleyo europeo me explica que toda deuda se paga con intereses aunque sea vendiendo seres humanos y países enteros sin pedirles consentimiento.

Yo los voy descubriendo. También yo puedo reclamar pagos y también puedo reclamar intereses. Consta en el Archivo de Indias, papel sobre papel, recibo sobre recibo y firma sobre firma, que solamente entre el año 1503 y 1660 llegaron a San Lucas de Barrameda 185 mil kilos de oro y 16 millones de kilos de plata provenientes de América.

¿Saqueo? ¡No lo creyera yo! Porque sería pensar que los hermanos cristianos faltaron a su Séptimo Mandamiento.

¿Expoliación? ¡Guárdeme Tanatzin de figurarme que los europeos, como Caín, matan y niegan la sangre de su hermano!

¿Genocidio? Eso sería dar crédito a los calumniadores, como Bartolomé de las Casas, que califican al encuentro como de destrucción de las Indias, o a ultrosos como Arturo Uslar Pietri, que afirma que el arranque del capitalismo y la actual civilización europea se deben a la inundación de metales preciosos!

¡No! Esos 185 mil kilos de oro y 16 millones de kilos de plata deben ser considerados como el primero de muchos otros préstamos amigables de América, destinados al desarrollo de Europa. Lo contrario sería presumir la existencia de crímenes de guerra, lo que daría derecho no sólo a exigir la devolución inmediata, sino la indemnización por daños y perjuicios.

Yo, Evo Morales, prefiero pensar en la menos ofensiva de estas hipótesis.
Tan fabulosa exportación de capitales no fueron más que el inicio de un plan ‘MARSHALLTESUMA”, para garantizar la reconstrucción de la bárbara Europa, arruinada por sus deplorables guerras contra los cultos musulmanes, creadores del álgebra, la poligamia, el baño cotidiano y otros logros superiores de la civilización.

Por eso, al celebrar el Quinto Centenario del Empréstito, podremos preguntarnos: ¿Han hecho los hermanos europeos un uso racional, responsable o por lo menos productivo de los fondos tan generosamente adelantados por el Fondo Indoamericano Internacional? Deploramos decir que no.

En lo estratégico, lo dilapidaron en las batallas de Lepanto, en armadas invencibles, en terceros reichs y otras formas de exterminio mutuo, sin otro destino que terminar ocupados por las tropas gringas de la OTAN, como en Panamá, pero sin canal.

En lo financiero, han sido incapaces, después de una moratoria de 500 años, tanto de cancelar el capital y sus intereses, cuanto de independizarse de las rentas líquidas, las materias primas y la energía barata que les exporta y provee todo el Tercer Mundo.

Este deplorable cuadro corrobora la afirmación de Milton Friedman según la cual una economía subsidiada jamás puede funcionar y nos obliga a reclamarles, para su propio bien, el pago del capital y los intereses que, tan generosamente hemos demorado todos estos siglos en cobrar.

Al decir esto, aclaramos que no nos rebajaremos a cobrarles a nuestros hermanos europeos las viles y sanguinarias tasas del 20 y hasta el 30 por ciento de interés, que los hermanos europeos le cobran a los pueblos del Tercer Mundo. Nos limitaremos a exigir la devolución de los metales preciosos adelantados, más el módico interés fijo del 10 por ciento, acumulado sólo durante los últimos 300 años, con 200 años de gracia.

Sobre esta base, y aplicando la fórmula europea del interés compuesto, informamos a los descubridores que nos deben, como primer pago de su deuda, una masa de 185 mil kilos de oro y 16 millones de plata, ambas cifras elevadas a la potencia de 300.

Es decir, un número para cuya expresión total, serían necesarias más de 300 cifras, y que supera ampliamente el peso total del planeta Tierra.
Muy pesadas son esas moles de oro y plata. ¿Cuánto pesarían, calculadas en sangre?

Aducir que Europa, en medio milenio, no ha podido generar riquezas suficientes para cancelar ese módico interés, sería tanto como admitir su absoluto fracaso financiero y/o la demencial irracionalidad de los supuestos del capitalismo.

Tales cuestiones metafísicas, desde luego, no nos inquietan a los indoamericanos.

Pero sí exigimos la firma de una Carta de Intención que discipline a los pueblos deudores del Viejo Continente, y que los obligue a cumplir su compromiso mediante una pronta privatización o reconversión de Europa, que les permita entregárnosla entera, como primer pago de la deuda histórica…’”

Tomado de http://www.sicnoticias.cl

Spring is in the air

In Alan Gross, CAFE, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban 5 on April 19, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Margarita Alarcón Perea

Spring is in the air. It is a constant much like Pi, happens every March 21st whether it’s snowing or raining or bright and sunny.  Its striking  that on this same date,  March 21st, was also the birth of Benito Juarez, known as the Benemerito of the Americas, title bestowed on him by the people and government of Colombia on May 1st of the year 1865, because of his unrelenting struggle to free Mexico and gain independence.

While president of Mexico, Juarez had a maxim that lives on today in the Mexican nation: “Among individuals and nations alike, respect for the rights of other people is what constitutes peace”. This statement always comes to mind when I think of the place Cuba has held in the region since its independence from Spain in the XIX century.

Cuba’s rights as a nation have never been respected by other nations or individuals, ever.  After the island garnered its independence from Spain the Paris Treaty left the island at the bequest of the Government of the United States and it remained so till 1959 when the Revolution of Fidel Castro triumphed establishing a socialist government in the country. Although the Cuban Revolution brought about much needed change on a social level, educating the uneducated, bettering conditions outside of the capital and establishing universal health care as the main government strategies to help its people, the country still depended because of an embargo imposed by the US on the next best option, the Soviet Union, and again, Cuba depended on someone else and much of its sovereignty was put on hold. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union as a country and a concept, Cuba was left stranded economically, politically and even socially.

Those were very difficult times, but the social benefits that still existed on the island were still stronger than the hardship and the Cuban people continued in their strife to advance, even if alone. The embargo against the island continued as it does today, but the rest of the world began to slowly open up to Cuba, and not just because of His Holiness John Paul II desire that this be so.  Cuba had proven over the years that it had something to offer and that sovereignty and independence were not to be gambled with. Cuba has never been a satellite of the Venezuelan Bolivarian Revolution, although the relationship with it  and with Hugo Chavez was strong. The difference between the two moments in time is simple: during the first forty some years of the Revolution the country had to build itself up from scratch, by the time Chavez and his oil and social justice powered revolution came to power, Cuba already had sufficient bargaining chips to stand on its own and level the playing field. No longer were the stakes as lopsided as they had been in the past.

The Soviet Union is no longer around, neither is Chavez,  and his Revolution looks to be walking on unsteady ground, which is sad not only for Cuba on a personal and national note, it is also sad for the rest of Latin America as a whole. For no matter what one may opine on President Chavez, he did put the continent on the forefront and he did bring much needed changes to both the nation of Bolivar and the rest of the region. Yet the one thing that has not changed, the one thing that remains the same, is not just spring on the 21st of March. The one thing that remains the same is that on April 30th, well into spring, the secretary of state of the United States will have to submit his recommendation to the president on whether to keep Cuba on the list of terrorist nations or not.  Keeping Cuba on the list means no chance on earth of giving the president even the slightest chance of moving forward on bettering relations. Relations which if were to compare to a tennis ball, are now, and have been on the White House´s court for a number of years now.

More recently during the last Congressional visit to the island when President Raul Castro told US Congress members that a sit down with all cards on the table was in the offer.

It is true, Cuba has Alan Gross in jail. But he is being detained because he came down with an agenda to help undermine the Cuban government or regime, however you want to put it. Cuba has the same although slightly different situation in the US. Five Cuban intelligence agents are still in prison in the US. But their crime was never trying to undermine the US government to which they not only had no access, they also had no intention of doing, and quite frankly it would have been the most foolish of intentions.

The Cuban Five were in the US collecting information from US based paramilitary terrorist organizations in Miami which have been plotting, conspiring and bringing about terrorist acts against the Cuban people for over 50 years. They not only plot against Cuba and its people on the island, they also plot and have achieved to harm, destroy, terrorize and kill those who, whether Cuban or not, have the interest in forging better more rational relations with the island.  These terrorist groups have names, Omega 7, Alpha 66, Vigilia Mambisa, Brothers to the Rescue  and others. They have henchmen and they have leaders, one of which is infamously well known in Miami as one of the cities proud citizens, Luis Posada Carriles, a man who has more blood on his hands than most have running through their veins.  The Cuban Five infiltrated the US under false identities, this is true. They also infiltrated these terrorist organizations under false pretenses  But they did all of this in order to protect Cuba and those who want a normal life between Cuba and the US. News flash: they also, did most if not all of this, with the acquiescence of both the US government and the FBI.

Exchanging them for Alan Gross may not seem like the logical thing to do, but not on the US side, after all, Gross was accused of something he did do and something which is illegal not only in Cuba and the rest of the world, it is also illegal in the US: in theory, you are not allowed to openly try to topple foreign regimes in the United States of America. Heck, even Alan Gross accepts responsibility for his actions and recommends he be exchanged for the Cuban Five.

Now,  Secretary John Kerry has to decide if Cuba, an island that has never committed a terrorist act against the US or any other nation for that matter, should remain on an infamous obscene list.  Cuba deserves to be treated with the same respect it does its neighbors and colleagues in the world arena, it doesn’t set standards, it doesn’t disrespect others rights to decide, it thus, should be commended for its desire, as put by Juarez , to establish peace.

Unlike the unvarying Cherry Blossoms in DC and Pi, let’s hope Mr Kerry’s decision breaks one constant this Spring.

Conspicuous Isolation

In Politics, US, Venezuela on April 12, 2013 at 12:21 pm

BHpzsbKCcAEQcWi.jpg large

By Tom Hayden 

Venezuelans are expected to elect Nicholas Maduro, an ally and foreign minister of Hugo Chavez, in national elections this Sunday, preserving for now – “por ahora” – the Chavez legacy. Venezuela’s program of “21st century socialism” will continue, as will its project of integrating Latin America into a progressive power bloc, even an “OPEC of natural resources” in an increasingly multipolar world.

Most importantly, the Chavez legacy will continue to live on in the misiones, or social services projects, invested to alleviate hopeless poverty. One, Barrio Adentro, involves 67 local clinics offering medical treatment to 15 million people. Poverty under Chavez was reduced by half. Food subsidies supported half the population. Literacy has been increased significantly. Cooperatives have received credit and technical support. High-school dropouts have taken night courses and obtained subsidies to new universities. Community-based councils have empowered the poor in a kind of participatory democracy never before seen.

Assuming Maduro wins, Cuba also will continue to receive 95,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil every day, while Cuba deploys 20,000 medical personnel to work in community centers.

Yet a deep US hostility to Venezuela persists, not only from the State Department but from nearly all mainstream journalists and academics. Offended by Chavez’s strident anti-imperialism and his cult of personality, the critics typically see an incipient dictatorship and downplay the repeated electoral victories Chavez was able to amass for more than a decade. The critics are not wrong in all their charges, but seem stubbornly devoted to regime change rather than productive peaceful coexistence, leading to the spiral of tensions.

The US conflict with Chavez suggests that American foreign policy is influenced by sharply divided elites. The first has been represented by Barack Obama’s periodic gestures toward direct diplomacy with adversaries, as when he and Chavez shook hands in a famous photograph at the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad. According to eyewitnesses present, Obama said words to the effect of “I need time” in their brief hallway conversation – having significantly waived off his American handler. Maduro was present with Chavez in that spontaneous encounter, and both were very encouraged. But immediately thereafter, Jeffrey Davidow, the veteran State Department official in charge of the proceedings, threw cold water on the amicable opening by slamming Chavez for seeking a photo-op.

As Obama turned his attention to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, decisions returned to the old Cold Warriors at State and the Pentagon. The next disastrous incident came during the September 2009 Honduras coup against elected president Manuel Zelaya, which Obama at first called by its right name – a coup – then was forced into an embarrassing retraction, leaving Hondurans living under the new Lobo regime which most Hondurans considered illegitimate. A main purpose of the US-supported Honduras’ coup was to prevent “another Venezuela” in the region.

As recently as five months ago, secret talks were taking place between the State Department and Nicholas Maduro, aimed at putting the bilateral relationship on a better footing. Then in December in Miami, Obama gave a speech containing no reference to Chavez’s health crisis but criticizing Venezuelan “authoritarianism.” An angry Maduro called off the talks. Weeks later, former US Congressman William Delahunt (D-MA), often a contact with the Venezuelans, tried to explain the president’s speech as merely “reading talking points” prepared by his staff.

Finally, when heads of state from Latin America and around the world were gathering in Caracas for the Chavez funeral, Obama could only dispatch Delahunt and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), not vice-president Joseph Biden or Secretary of State John Kerry. Obama also released a statement expressing hope for a “constructive” relationship with Venezuela based on human rights, the rule of law, and democracy promotion, a clear criticism of the president who lay in state.

While the fallen body of Hugo Chavez was given love and respect by the region’s leaders, the US government remained conspicuously isolated. Notably present at the funeral were Cuba’s leaders, presumably blocked from receiving any official US regards during the occasion. On Cuba, American strategy seems to rest on the premise that “regime change” will occur only after the funerals of 82-year old Raul and 86-year old Fidel Castro.

Latin America After Chávez

In CAFE, CELAC, Latin America, Social Justice on March 8, 2013 at 12:09 pm

 

By LUIZ INÁCIO LULA da SILVA

 

HISTORY will affirm, justifiably, the role Hugo Chávez played in the integration of Latin America, and the significance of his 14-year presidency to the poor people of Venezuela, where he died on Tuesday after a long struggle with cancer.

However, before history is allowed to dictate our interpretation of the past, we must first have a clear understanding of Mr. Chávez’s significance, in both the domestic and international political contexts. Only then can the leaders and peoples of South America, arguably the world’s most dynamic continent today, clearly define the tasks ahead of us so that we might consolidate the advances toward international unity achieved in the past decade. Those tasks have gained new importance now that we are without the help of Mr. Chávez’s boundless energy; his deep belief in the potential for the integration of the nations of Latin America; and his commitment to the social transformations needed to ameliorate the misery of his people.

Mr. Chávez’s social campaigns, especially in the areas of public health, housing and education, succeeded in improving the standard of living of tens of millions of Venezuelans.

One need not agree with everything Mr. Chávez said or did. There is no denying that he was a controversial, often polarizing, figure, one who never fled from debate and for whom no topic was taboo. I must admit I often felt that it would have been more prudent for Mr. Chávez not to have said all that he did. But this was a personal characteristic of his that should not, even from afar, discredit his qualities.

One might also disagree with Mr. Chávez’s ideology, and a political style that his critics viewed as autocratic. He did not make easy political choices and he never wavered in his decisions.

However, no remotely honest person, not even his fiercest opponent, can deny the level of camaraderie, of trust and even of love that Mr. Chávez felt for the poor of Venezuela and for the cause of Latin American integration. Of the many power brokers and political leaders I have met in my life, few have believed so much in the unity of our continent and its diverse peoples — indigenous Indians, descendants of Europeans and Africans, recent immigrants — as he did.

Mr. Chávez was instrumental in the 2008 treaty that established the Union of South American Nations, a 12-member intergovernmental organization that might someday move the continent toward the model of the European Union. In 2010, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States lept from theory to practice, providing a political forum alongside the Organization of American States. (It does not include the United States and Canada, as the O.A.S. does.) The Bank of the South, a new lending institution, independent of the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, also would not have been possible without Mr. Chávez’s leadership. Finally, he was vitally interested in fostering closer Latin American ties with Africa and the Arab world.

If a public figure dies without leaving ideas, his legacy and his spirit come to an end as well. This was not the case for Mr. Chávez, a strong, dynamic and unforgettable figure whose ideas will be discussed for decades in universities, labor unions, political parties and anyplace where people are concerned with social justice, the alleviation of misery and the fairer distribution of power among the peoples of the world. Perhaps his ideas will come to inspire young people in the future, much as the life of Simón Bolívar, the great liberator of Latin America, inspired Mr. Chávez himself.

Mr. Chávez’s legacy in the realm of ideas will need further work if they are to become a reality in the messy world of politics, where ideas are debated and contested. A world without him will require other leaders to display the effort and force of will he did, so that his dreams will not be remembered only on paper.

To maintain his legacy, Mr. Chávez’s sympathizers in Venezuela have much work ahead of them to construct and strengthen democratic institutions. They will have to help make the political system more organic and transparent; to make political participation more accessible; to enhance dialogue with opposition parties; and to strengthen unions and civil society groups. Venezuelan unity, and the survival of Mr. Chávez’s hard-won achievements, will require this.

It is without a doubt the aspiration of all Venezuelans — whether aligned with or opposed to Mr. Chávez, whether soldier or civilian, Catholic or evangelical, rich or poor — to realize the potential of a nation as promising as theirs. Only peace and democracy can make those aspirations a reality.

The multilateral institutions Mr. Chávez helped create will also help ensure the consecration of South American unity. He will no longer be present at South American summit meetings, but his ideals, and the Venezuelan government, will continue to be represented. Democratic camaraderie among the leaders of Latin America and the Caribbean is the best guarantee of the political, economic, social and cultural unity that our peoples want and need.

In moving toward unity, we are at a point of no return. But however steadfast we are, we must be even more so in negotiating our nations’ participation in international forums like the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. These institutions, born from the ashes of World War II, have not been sufficiently responsive to the realities of today’s multipolar world.

Charismatic and idiosyncratic, capable of building friendships, communicating to the masses as few other leaders ever have, Mr. Chávez will be missed. I will always cherish the friendship and partnership that, during the eight years in which we worked together as presidents, produced such benefits for Brazil and for Venezuela and our peoples.

 

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil from 2003 through 2010, is the honorary president of the Instituto Lula, which focuses on Brazil’s relations with Africa. This essay was translated by Benjamin Legg and Robert M. Sarwark from the Portuguese.

 

President Hugo Chavez, a Non-MSM Primer

In Politics, Press, Social Justice, US on January 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm

 

By Vivien Lesnik Weisman

 

Originally published in the Huffington Post

In order to understand the media coverage of the situation in Venezuela one must look at the antecedents. It is instructive to revisit this NYTeditorial on the occasion of the 2002 coup.

April 13, 2002 “Hugo Chavez Departs”
With yesterday’s resignation of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chávez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona.

 

The U.S. quickly recognized the coup leaders as the legitimate government of Venezuela in spite of the fact that their first acts where to dissolve the legislature and judiciary and suspend the Constitution. After all, the perpetrator of the coup was not a charismatic self-proclaimed socialist mestizo but a “respected business leader” who was also not incidentally of European extraction and a member of the ruling oligarchy. The constitution in question had recently been created by a Constitutional Assembly which the people had called for with a 92 percent mandate and ratified by popular referendum with 71.8 percent of the vote; not exactly an undemocratic document.

Leaving aside the substantial evidence that the coup was U.S. hatched with ample evidence hereand here, what crimes did the democratically elected president of Venezuela commit to deserve such a description and the ire of the U.S.?

Well for one, Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, Saudi Arabia has the second and it is the fourth most important U.S. supplier. Yes, largest reserves in the world. And Venezuela is not far away in the Middle East, but in our hemisphere, in what has traditionally been considered our “sphere of influence” (read: with a government and an oligarchy that puts the interests of the United States and the U.S. corporations before that of their people).

Put simply, oil rich Venezuela under Chavez refused to conform to the Latin American model of the client state. No matter how many times President Chavez is elected and re-elected and given mandates by popular referendums, refusing to bow down to U.S. interests is his capital crime and that crime is never forgiven; Cuba being a case in point.

Speaking of capital, what did President Chavez do with all that oil money? Surely he did the traditional thing and divided it up nicely between his friends and cronies and sent the rest to Citibank. Wrong. First he payed back the Venezuelan debt to the IMF and asked them to get out of town, and next he helped pay down his friend’s debt, Argentina. Next he helped Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador pay down their debt. Thanks to Chavez the IMF’s portfolio is down in the region to less than 1 percent from 80 percent in 2005. With no IMF and its partner institution, the World Bank, in the region the sway of policies such as unfettered markets with limited government spending greatly restricting social programs is kept to a minimum. In other words, the policies of the Washington Consensus that has been so detrimental to the economies and the people of developing nations in Latin America and so lucrative for the U.S. and transnational corporations is no more.

He also set up a regional exchange — Banco del Sur or Bank of the South — where partner nations can borrow money for social projects and infrastructure development funded by Venezuela, and the member countries. And of course there is the all important Mercosur, a kind of Latin American European Union to integrate the markets and work together rather than in isolation like in the past, making it easier to be pressured by external forces, i.e. the U.S. Oh, and the discounted oil to Cuba alleviating the sting of the 50-year-old U.S. embargo really rubs us the wrong way. WTF, this guy is really messing with the world order now.

But, the most capital of his offenses is his innovative social experiment, that goes by the name of the Bolivarian Revolution. God we hate that R word. You see this has a transcendence beyond their borders, beyond the region, right smack to our front yard; or should I say Zuccotti Park? A charismatic leader is in many ways the antithesis of the horizontal anarchic structure of the Occupy movement, but still the experiment in collectivization and citizen participation, direct democracy, and worker and neighborhood councils that many in the Occupy movement are working toward and that we find so very difficult to organize in the U.S. is being lived in Venezuela.

rally of hundreds of thousands is easily mobilized, as was in evidence on January 10th as Vice President Nicolas Maduro and officials from around the world, including several presidents of Latin America, turned out. The people wore the presidential sash and chanted “We are all Chavez now” in solidarity with their absent president. This degree of participation and engagement is not unusual in Venezuela where voting is usually in the 90 percent range. And they don’t vote every four years and go home as is often the case here with our low voter turnout and where many of us feel we are voting for the lesser of two evils. The opposition party, the party of the oligarchy, offers a clear political and economic alternative but there seems to be no turning back this social revolution.

Venezuelan civil society is not only highly politicized but the people feel that they are participants in the decision-making process and in the affairs that concern their lives.

MSM fueled ignorance of this exciting and innovative social justice oriented society that is being created in Venezuela as well as other Latin American countries seems purposeful and targeted at keeping us tethered not only to cruel but failed economic models. The lack of accurate information on alternatives to market capitalism — or whatever this unfair, un-engaging, unfriendly system is called — keeps us in despair, balkanized and directionless, anesthetized by junk culture and television; spectators rather than participants in our own lives.

The Venezuelan example of bringing resources under public control and using the revenue for the betterment of all offers a model that cannot be replicated everywhere. But it is seen as a dangerous model because one of the places it can be replicated is in the United States. We too have vast oil and gas reserves and vast natural resources. We too could have free higher education and health care, not to mention student debt forgiveness. How about a truly democratic form of government where the citizenry decides not just whether to vote for Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee, but whether to go to war or live in peace and go to college; whether to have clean air and water and non-GMO pesticide free foods and sustainable agriculture or Big Agra.

Hmmm… I’m liking this. Develop alternative forms of energy and ban fracking forever? Stimulate the economy by building new roads and cool schools, music centers, hospitals, theatre, animation and computer clubs, relaxation centers, urban gardens, water parks, beach clubs and fun centers rather than stimulating the economy by making war and selling weapons? How about meaningful work and leisurely time rather than wage slavery? I can hear all the detractors screaming idealist, dreamer. I’ll take that. But really, if ordinary Venezuelans can displace the ruling oligarchy and be the architects of their own destiny then why can’t we too overturn the oligarchical structures of the corporate state? Why are we the only significant oil producing country that does not own the oil and gas on our land? Nationalization of natural resources such as oil and natural gas is not only just; it’s practical. If Venezuela can cut poverty in half and offer higher education gratis and healthcare for all, imagine what we can do with all that oil in Texas.

______This post focused on the astonishing expansion of economic rights, citizen participation and the democratization of Venezuela under President Hugo Chavez; his effects on the region and what we can learn from it. Venezuela is a society in the throes of transformation and factors contributing toward centralization rather than evolving into decentralization are said to be undermining the independence of separate branches of government and the media. Here too there is much disinformation and will be the subject of separate posts.

“Soy del pueblo, sólo vengo de allí…”

In Politics on January 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm

 

Entrevista concedida a AjiacoMix por Salim Lamrani

“El secreto de la libertad yace en educar  al   pueblo,  

en cambio el  secreto de la tiranía es  mantenerlo en la ignorancia.” 

Maximilien Robespierre

 

 

Háblanos un poco de la situación en Francia.

Como el resto del mundo Francia sufre de la grave crisis económica sistémica que afecta no sólo a las categorías más vulnerables de la sociedad sino también a las clases medias. Desgraciadamente, en vez de adoptar políticas voluntaristas para estimular la economía, Francia ha elegido la vía de la austeridad.

¿ Y el resto de Europa?

Conviene recordar las políticas de austeridad promovidas por la Unión Europea –con la Alemania de Angela Merkel a la cabeza–, el Fondo Monetario Internacional y el Banco Central Europeo llevan a un callejón sin salida. En efecto son políticamente impopulares, económicamente ineficaces y socialmente desastrosas. En todos los países donde se aplicaron, sea en Grecia, Irlanda, Italia, Portugal o España – sin excepción– fracasaron con un aumento de la pobreza y el desempleo, crecimiento de la deuda pública, desmantelamiento del Estado de Bienestar con la destrucción de los servicios públicos y una disminución drástica de los ingresos del Estado.

El caso de la crisis de la deuda griega  es un caso de manual e ilustra el fracaso total de las políticas neoliberales. En efecto, a pesar de la intervención de la Unión Europea, del Fondo Monetario Internacional y del Banco Central Europeo, a pesar de la aplicación de nueve planes de austeridad extrema  –alza masiva de los impuestos, entre ellos el IVA, alza de los precios, reducción de los salarios (¡hasta un 32% sobre el salario mínimo!) y de las pensiones de retiro, retraso de la edad legal de la jubilación, destrucción de los servicios públicos de primera necesidad como la educación y la salud, supresión de las ayudas sociales y privatizaciones de los sectores estratégicos de la economía nacional (puertos, aeropuertos, ferrocarril, gas, agua, petróleo– que han doblegado a la población, hoy la deuda es superior a lo que era antes de la intervención de las instituciones financieras internacionales en 2010.

No obstante, la crisis griega habría podido evitarse.

¿Aquí entra a jugar o no, su papel el BCE?

En efecto, habría bastado con que el Banco Central Europeo hubiera prestado directamente a Atenas las sumas necesarias, con la misma tasa de interés con la que presta a los bancos privados, es decir entre el 0% y el 1%, lo que hubiese impedido toda especulación sobre la deuda por parte del mundo financiero. Ahora bien, el Tratado de Lisboa redactado por Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, prohíbe esta posibilidad por razones difícilmente comprensibles si uno se basa en el postulado según el cual el Banco Central Europeo actúa en el interés de los ciudadanos.

En realidad el BCE sirve directamente a los intereses del mundo financiero. Así, los bancos privados contrataron un préstamo al BCE con la tasa baja de un 0% al 1% y luego especularon sobre la deuda y prestaron ese mismo dinero a Grecia con tasas que van del 6% al 18%, agravando así la crisis de la deuda, que ahora es matemáticamente impagable, ya que Atenas se encuentra en la obligación de contratar préstamos sólo para pagar los intereses de la deuda. Peor aún, el BCE vende a Grecia títulos de su propia deuda a precio de oro, es decir al 100% de su valor, mientras que los adquirió a un 50%, y especula así sobre el drama de una nación.

Por esas razones, resulta imprescindible reformar en profundidad el Tratado Europeo con el fin de autorizar al BCE a prestar directamente a los Estados y evitar así los ataques especulativos del mundo financiero sobre las deudas soberanas, como ha sido el caso en Grecia, Irlanda, España, Portugal e Italia, por citar sólo algunos.

 A  la América latina la excluyen en temas económicos por haber sido históricamente el “patio trasero”, ¿Vez cambios en este aspecto? 

A su llegada al poder en 2007, el Presidente Rafael Correa redujo el servicio de la deuda a un 25% del presupuesto y creó una Comisión para la Auditoría Integral del Crédito Público, con el fin de evaluar la legitimidad de la deuda. La Comisión publicó su informe y consideró que la deuda comercial ecuatoriana era ilegítima. En noviembre de 2008, el presidente Correa procedió a la suspensión del pago de un 70% de la deuda pública.

Consecuencia lógica, el valor de la deuda ecuatoriana perdió un 80% de su valor en el mercado secundario. Quito aprovechó la ocasión para comprar 3.000 millones de su propia deuda por una suma de 800 millones de dólares, realizando así un ahorro de 7.000 millones de dólares de intereses que el país habría pagado hasta 2030.

Así, mediante una simple auditoría, Ecuador redujo, sin gasto alguno, su deuda de cerca de 10.000 millones de dólares. La deuda pública pasó de un 25% del PIB en 2006 a un 15% en 2010. En el mismo tiempo, los gastos sociales (educación, salud, cultura, etc.) pasaron de un 12% a un 25%.

¿Vez esta experiencia como ejemplo válido para el resto del mundo?

Para volver al tema de la deuda, Europa tiene mucho que aprender de la nueva América Latina. Ecuador logró disminuir la deuda de un 24% a un 11% del PIB sin aplicar medidas de austeridad. Dicha deuda, contratada en los años 1970 por regímenes dictatoriales, era por esencia ilegítima y entraba en la categoría de deuda llamada “odiosa”.

Entre 1970 y 2009, Ecuador rembolsó 172 veces el monto de la deuda de 1970. No obstante, debido a los intereses exorbitantes que se impusieron a la nación, el volumen de ésta se multiplicó por 53. Del mismo modo, entre 1990 y 2007 el Banco Mundial prestó 1.440 millones de dólares y Ecuador rembolsó a esta institución la suma de 2.510 millones. El servicio de la deuda representaba entre 1980 y 2005 el 50% del presupuesto nacional, en detrimento de todos los programas sociales.

¿Por qué Europa, especialmente España y Grecia que vivieron muchos años bajo regímenes dictatoriales, no podrían hacer lo mismo?

En efecto, hay dos opciones para resolver la crisis económica: disminuir los gastos públicos y aplicar políticas de austeridad, con los resultados que conocemos – un fracaso total –, o aumentar los ingresos del Estado mediante el alza de los impuestos de las categorías más adineradas, aumentar el salario mínimo y realizar inversiones masivas por parte del Estado. La ideología dominante que reina en los medios informativos elude minuciosamente abordar la segunda posibilidad porque significaría tocar los intereses de los más privilegiados.

¿Por qué hay que aumentar el salario mínimo?

El aumento del salario mínimo constituye la base del programa del FDG y reviste un doble objetivo. Primero, permitirá mejorar el nivel de vida de una parte sustancial de los ciudadanos franceses, una inmensa mayoría mujeres (80%), que sobrevive difícilmente con semejantes ingresos. Además, 8 millones de franceses viven por debajo del umbral de la pobreza (fijado en 970€ mensuales) en la quinta potencia mundial, mientras que el país es dos veces más rico que en 1990 (2,56 billones de euros de riqueza producida al año).

Luego permitirá estimular la economía. En efecto, el aumento del SMIC alentará automáticamente el consumo de esta categoría de la población cuyas necesidades son importantes, y de rebote llenará el libro de pedidos de las empresas. Ésas, a su vez, reclutarán a la mano de obra necesaria para satisfacer esta nueva demanda, lo que tendrá un impacto positivo en la tasa de desempleo que lógicamente se reducirá. Así, el Estado verá crecer sus recursos gracias a la contribución tributaria de los nuevos asalariados, y disminuir sus gastos dedicados a las ayudas al paro, creando así un «círculo virtuoso».

¿Pasemos a otro tema, como llegas a Cuba?

La lectura del magnífico libro del historiador y profesor estadounidense Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States tuvo una importancia decisiva. Empecé por interesarme a la política exterior de Estados Unidos e inevitablemente descubrí los trabajos de Noam Chomsky. Él ha escrito excelentes libros sobre la política exterior de Washington. Me interesaba mucho América Latina y descubrí Cuba, su lucha por la independencia, la Revolución Cubana, la figura del Che y sobre todo su peculiar relación con Estados Unidos. Decidí especializarme en el tema e hice mis estudios doctorales sobre la política exterior de Estados Unidos hacia Cuba durante la guerra de liberación nacional entre 1956 y 1959. Ahora dedico la mayor parte de mis investigaciones universitarias a las relaciones entre ambas naciones.

¿Y Cuba y el periodismo  cómo encajan  en esto?

Mi experiencia periodística empezó con una constatación: hay un abismo que separa la imagen de Cuba en Occidente de la realidad de la Isla. Cuando uno lee la prensa occidental tiene la impresión de que Cuba es el infierno de Dante. En cambio, todas las instituciones internacionales elogian el excelente sistema social cubano, la educación, la salud, el internacionalismo humanitario, la prevención de la delincuencia, la protección de la infancia, el desarrollo de la agricultura urbana, la Defensa civil, etc… Llegué al periodismo porque, como millones de ciudadanos del mundo no estaba satisfecho con la imagen de Cuba que transmitían y que siguen transmitiendo los medios informativos, que me parecía parcial, desequilibrada, engañosa e ideológicamente orientada. Los medios de comunicación, con la minucia de un relojero, silencian todos los aspectos positivos que tiene la sociedad cubana y magnifican todos los aspectos negativos – que pasarían desapercibidas si se encontraran en otra parte de mundo, violando los principios básicos del periodismo.

Nunca he creído que Cuba era Alicia en el país de las maravillas. Tampoco creo que sea la antecámara del infierno como la presenta la prensa.

¿Cuánto conoces de la literatura Latino Americana?

Soy profesor de historia y civilización latinoamericana. Durante mi carrera universitaria estudié literatura tanto española como latinoamericana. He leído los grandes clásicos de la literatura latinoamericana desde Miguel ángel Asturias, Jorge Luis Borges, Gionconda Belli, Gabriela Mistral, el inolvidable Pablo Neruda, José María Arguedas, Alejo Carpentier, Octavio Paz, Augusto Roa Bastos, César Vallejo y Mario Vargas Llosa – brillante escritor y despreciable político a la vez. Me gustan más la novela de tipo social y los escritores comprometidos con los desafíos de su tiempo.

¿Cómo te catalogarías si tuvieras que hacerlo?

Te responderé citando a Maximilien de Robespierre, nuestro Libertador, el que debería ser considerado como el Héroe Nacional de Francia, el Padre de nuestra Patria a quien le debemos nuestra divisa  « libertad, igualdad y fraternidad »: “Soy del pueblo, sólo vengo de allí, no quiero ser más que eso y desprecio a cualquiera que tenga la pretensión de ser algo más”. Siempre me ubicaré al lado del pueblo y de los desposeídos.

¿ Entonces el rescate de la historia de la América latina de hoy te cautiva un poco por todo eso, no?

Hablando de Robespierre, permíteme una reflexión. Cuba logró rescatar la figura de su Héroe Nacional José Martí. Venezuela, gracias a Hugo Chávez, logró rescatar la figura del Libertador Simón Bolívar. En Francia nos toca la tarea de rescatar a Maximilien de Robespierre, el incorruptible, que era a la vez un visionario y un hombre de su tiempo. Robespierre entendió muy temprano que el principal enemigo del pueblo, de la República, de la Patria y del Estado de bienestar era el poder del dinero. Por ello fue tan vilipendiado, ofendido y asociado a la época del Terror y presentado como un hombre sanguinario, como si hubiera tenido el poder judicial. Ello que carece de sentido pues Robespierre ni siquiera pudo enjuiciar a sus más connotados enemigos, que traicionaron los ideales de la Revolución. Además, hablando de terror, conviene evocar las cifras. Los archivos del Tribunal Revolucionario de París demuestran que hubo menos de 3000 ejecuciones en la capital (en total 17,000 en toda Francia), en un contexto de guerra civil, y de guerra de todas las monarquías de Europa contra la Revolución y la Repúbica.  A guisa de comparación, durante la Comuna de París en 1871, ¡los Versailleses (Versailles) fusilaron en una semana a 20,000 personas sin juicio!

Es un bochorno que Robespierre, el más puro patriota de la historia de Francia, la figura principal de la Revolución, el defensor de la soberanía popular, no descanse en el Phantéon donde reposan los restos de nuestros grandes próceres desde Víctor Hugo hasta Jean Jaurès. Ni siquiera tiene una estatua en París. También es una vergüenza que el 22 de septiembre, día de la Fundación de nuestra República por Robespierre y sus compañeros, no sea una fecha celebrada en Francia.

The Latin American Gorilla

In Blockade, CAFE, Cuba, Cuba/US, Economics, Politics on November 21, 2012 at 5:46 am

 

By Arturo Lopez-Levy

Originally in Foreign Policy in Focus

 

It has become commonplace to say that Latin America was absent from the 2012 election campaign in the United States. It is understandable, because the region was mentioned only once in the candidates’ foreign policy debate (by Governor Romney, when he referred to the potential of free-trade agreements in the hemisphere), and it got almost no attention in campaign speeches.

However, as with much conventional wisdom, the devil is in the definitions. If Latin America’s impact on U.S. politics is viewed in terms of relations between governments, the statement is correct; if, on the other hand, the concept includes the public, then the region was present like never before in the elections.

It is time to think about Latin American policy within a broader framework than old-fashioned nationalism. The political borders of transnational societies in the United States and the rest of the hemisphere have little to do with their legal boundaries. Latin America and the United States do not start or end with the Rio Grande or the Caribbean Sea. With their many, non-exclusive identities, Latin American and Caribbean Diaspora populations are increasingly important in the United States and in their home countries. The rigid divide between “Latin America” and the United States needs to be revised.

A New Calculus

It is symptomatic that oft-proposed solutions to the most emblematic problems of inter-hemispheric relations (free trade, energy, immigration, organized crime, and Cuba) have been dependent on the balance of power in American domestic politics. Insofar as the vote of important U.S. Latino groups changed those political calculations, Latin America’s role in the U.S. elections was extremely important. The emerging dynamic could have a major impact on U.S. policy toward the region.

By casting 71 percent of their votes for President Obama, few electoral blocs can claim more credit for Barack Obama’s reelection than Latinos. This is the highest percentage of ballots Latinos have cast for a Democratic candidate since 1996, when Bill Clinton got 72 percent. Had Romney managed to match George W. Bush’s 40-percent showing among Hispanics, he probably would be the president-elect today. Even more painful for the Republicans, Latinos are now 10 percent of the electorate and rising.

But the Republicans’ problem with the Latino electorate is not just demographic; it is first and foremost ideological. Several Republican leaders made offensive statements on the immigration issue. For the rest of his life, Romney will regret his strident support of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, his promise to veto the Dream Act, and his “self-deportation” proposal for undocumented immigrants. Although Latino voters have numerous concerns—often very similar to those of the average voter—their sensitivity to the immigration issue is unique. They have common connections and histories with the immigrant population and the native countries of their social group. The discriminatory statements of conservative politicians against minorities, especially Hispanics, created a moral pressure within Latino communities to vote.

MSNBC’s Steve Schmidt, who directed Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, summed up the 2012 message for the Republican Party: if it does not change its attitude toward the country’s new demographic reality, “it may be left wandering in the dark for a generation.”

The Democrats cannot take the Latino vote for granted. Before this past summer, when the president signed the executive order authorizing temporary residence for more than 1 million young immigrants, Obama’s approval rating among Latinos had fallen significantly to below 50 percent. Accordingly, immigration reform is now at the top of the national agenda.

If the Romney campaign’s movement toward the center after the first presidential debate works as a prelude to a more general Republican repositioning, then the possibility of immigration reform getting passed in Congress is greater. The popularity of a reelected president tends to increase in the first year of the second term, providing Obama with more political capital. Additionally, the next discussion of immigration reform will occur in the context of modest Democratic gains in both houses of Congress, and a Republican Party that has been criticized for obstructionism, bias, and a resistance to compromise.

Few political acts would have a greater effect on U.S.-Latin American relations than the naturalization of millions of Hispanics over the next decade. President Obama announced that immigration reform would be a legislative priority in his second term during the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena. It is not only a domestic but a foreign policy promise. The countries that have the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the United States are the same ones that have free-trade agreements: Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. These are also the countries with the greatest need for a coordinated effort against organized crime and drug and arms trafficking.

Establishing a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants would make border control more manageable, and it would also lead to greater demand for the legal immigration of families and circular movement between the United States and immigrants’ countries of origin. Comprehensive U.S. immigration reform would have a very significant positive impact on tourism, remittances, investment, and the voting preferences of expatriates from those countries.

Room to Maneuver on Cuba?

Another example of how changes in U.S. Latino groups can change the context of policymaking occurred in Cuban-American Miami. For years, Cuban-Americans have voted Republican for president and sent to Congress pro-embargo legislators like Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, who oppose Cuban-American travel to the island, and Senator Marco Rubio, who has filibustered presidential nominations in retaliation for alleged “abuse” of people-to-people travel.

But Obama won a record share of the Cuban-American vote (47percent to Romney’s 48 percent), showing the power of a new bloc of Cubans consisting both of recent immigrants and Americans of more distant Cuban descent. This bloc rejected the McCarthyist propaganda of the pro-embargo right-wing forces, enabling the president to campaign on more liberal U.S. policies toward the island.

For the first time, the election resulted in victories for candidates favorable to greater contact between the Cuban-American community and the island. In one closely contested House race, Democrat Joe García defeated Republican Rep. David Rivera, one of the most fervent supporters of the embargo. The evolution of García, a former director of the Cuban American National Foundation who now supports Cuban-American cultural exchanges, is evidence of the moderation now prevailing among a major component of the Cuban-American elite.

The same tendency was seen in the election to the Florida state legislature of José Javier Rodriguez, a Democrat who supports exchanges between the Cuban-American community and the island. Garcia will enter the House just as Rep. Ros-Lehtinen leaves the chairmanship of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in line with the Republican caucus’s term limits.

Outside of Florida, the elections had ambiguous results. In Texas, voters elected Republican Ted Cruz, a Cuban American who will join fellow embargo supporters Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in the Senate. On the Cuba issue, however, Cruz’s victory is offset by that of Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, who has been the most consistent anti-embargo voice in the U.S. House in the past decade.

All told, Obama owes nothing to the pro-embargo lobbyists who accused his administration of “unilateral appeasement” towards Havana and paid for spurious campaign ads connecting the president with Raul Castro’s daughter and Hugo Chavez. Now it’s payback time. Anti-embargo groups should work to ensure that the virtuous cycle represented by increased travel and the creation of communities who are interested in new ties with Cuba can continue for four more years.

The messages that have been sent out from a more plural Miami, combined with greater flexibility in Obama’s second term, offer the president more maneuvering room for a rational treatment of the Cuba issue. Taking Cuba off the State Department list of terrorist countries would be a symbolic first step in the right direction.

Cuba, as the rest of Latin America, was not absent from the election; the voters put it into play.

Arturo Lopez-Levy is a PhD Candidate at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies of the University of Denver.

You can follow him on Twitter @turylevy.