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Reflections of Fidel: Chavez, Evo and Obama

Here’s the complete article written by Fidel Castro, and published in two parts by Granma, 26 and 27 September 2011.

I am halting the tasks which have been totally occupying my time recently to dedicate some words to the singular opportunity presented to political science by the 60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The annual event demands a singular effort on the part of those holding the highest political responsibilities in many countries. For them, it constitutes a difficult test; for the aficionados of this art, more than a few given that it vitally affects everyone, it is hard to resist the temptation to observe the interminable but instructive spectacle.

In the first place, there exists an infinity of thorny issues and conflicts of interest. For a large number of participants, it is necessary to take a position on events which constitute flagrant violations of principles. For example: what position to adopt on the NATO genocide in Libya? Do some persons wish to place on record that under their leadership the government of their country supported the monstrous crime perpetrated by the United States and its NATO allies, whose sophisticated fighter planes, piloted or non-piloted, executed more than 20,000 attack missions on a small Third World state of barely six million inhabitants, alleging the same reasons as those previously used to attack and invade Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan and which are now threatening to do so in Syria or any other country in the world?

Was it not precisely the government of the UN host state which ordered the butchery in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the mercenary Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba, the invasion of the Dominican Republic, the “dirty war” in Nicaragua, the occupation of Grenada and Panama by the U.S. military forces and the massacre of Panamanians in El Chorillo? Who promoted the military coups and genocide in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, which resulted in tens of thousands of dead and disappeared? I am not talking about things which happened 500 years ago, when the Spaniards initiated genocide in the Americas, or 200 years ago, when the yankees exterminated native Indians in the United States or enslaved Africans, in spite of “all men are created equal,” as stated in the Declaration of Philadelphia. I am talking about acts that have taken place in recent decades and which are taking place today.

These acts must be recalled and reiterated when an event of the importance and prominence of the meeting underway in the United Nations takes place, and where the political integrity and ethics of governments is put to the test.

Many of them represent small and poor countries in need of support and international cooperation, technology, markets and credits, which the developed capitalist powers have manipulated as they please.

Despite the shameless monopoly of the news media and the fascist methods used by the United States and its allies to confuse and deceive world opinion, the resistance of the peoples is growing, and this can be appreciated in the debates taking place in the United Nations.

More than a few Third World leaders, in spite of the obstacles and contradictions indicated, have expressed their ideas with courage. The very voices emanating from the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean no longer contain the servile and embarrassing accent of the OAS, which characterized pronouncements of heads of state in past decades. Two of them have addressed this forum; both of them, Bolivarian President Hugo Chávez, a mix of the races which comprise the people of Venezuela, and Evo Morales, of pure millenary indigenous origin, stated their ideas in the meeting, one in a message and the other directly, in response to the speech of the yankee President.

Telesur broadcast the three speeches. Thanks to the network, in the night of Tuesday the 20th we heard President Chávez’ message, read carefully by Walter Martínez during his “Dossier” program. As head of state of the UN host nation, Obama gave his speech on Wednesday morning and Evo gave his during the early hours of the afternoon of the same day. For the sake of brevity I will take essential paragraphs from each text.

Chávez was unable to attend the United Nations Summit in person, after 12 years of untiring struggle without resting for a single day, which placed his life at risk and affected his health, and who is now fighting selflessly for his full recovery. However, his message could not but approach the most decisive issue of the historical meeting. I transcribe it virtually in full:

“I address these words to the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization […] to confirm, on this day and in this forum, Venezuela’s total support of Palestinian statehood: the right of Palestine to become a free, sovereign and independent country. It is an act of historical justice to a people who have carried within themselves, always, all the pain and suffering of the world.

“The great French philosopher Gilles Deleuze […] states with the tone of truth: ‘The Palestinian cause is above all the compound of injustices which this people has endured and continues to endure.’ And it is also, I dare to add, a constant and unyielding will of resistance which is already written in the heroic memory of the human condition. […] Mahmoud Darwish, the infinite voice of the potential Palestine, speaks to us from the sentiment of the awareness of this love: ‘We do not need the memory/because Mount Carmel is within us/ and the grass of Galilee is on our eyelids/ Don’t say: let us run to my country like the river! / Don’t say it! / Because we are in the flesh of our country/ and she is in us.’

“Against those who fallaciously maintain that what has happened to the Palestinian people is not genocide, Deleuze argues with implacable lucidity, ‘In all cases there is an attempt to act as if the Palestinian people not only should not exist, but have never existed. It is, in other words, the degree zero of genocide: to decree that a people do not exist; to deny them the right to existence.’”

“[…] the resolution of the conflict in the Middle East must of necessity move through doing justice to the Palestinian people; this is the only way of winning the peace.

“It pains and angers us that those who suffered one of the worst genocides in history have become the hangmen of the Palestinian people; it pains and angers us that the inheritance of the Holocaust is the Nakba. And it angers us, bluntly, that Zionism continues to utilize the accusation of anti-semitism against those who oppose its outrages and its crimes. Israel has exploited and is exploiting, blatantly and vilely, the memory of the victims. And it is doing so to act, with total impunity, against Palestine. In passing, it is worth noting that anti-Semitism is a Western, European misfortune, in which Arabs do not participate. Let us not forget, moreover, that it is the Palestinian Semite people who are suffering the ethnic cleansing being practiced by the colonial Israeli state.”

“[…] It is one thing to reject anti-Semitism, and it is a very different thing to passively accept that Zionist barbarity is imposing an apartheid regime upon the Palestinian people. From an ethical point of view, whoever rejects the former, has to condemn the latter.”

“[…] Zionism, as a view of the world, is absolutely racist. In their terrifying cynicism, the words of Golda Meir are irrefutable evidence of that: ‘How are we going to return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to. There is no such thing as Palestinians. It was not, as is thought, that a people called Palestinian existed, that considers itself as Palestinian, and that we arrived, threw them out and took their country from them. They did not exist.’”

“Read and reread the document historically known as the Balfour Declaration of 1917: the British government assumed the legal authority of promising the Jews a national home in Palestine, deliberately ignoring the presence and will of its inhabitants. It should be noted that for centuries, Christians and Muslims lived together in peace in the Holy Land, until Zionism began to claim it as its entire and exclusive property.”

“At the end of World War II, the tragedy of the Palestinian people was exacerbated, consummated by their expulsion from their territory and, at the same time, from history. In 1947, the ominous and illegal United Nations Resolution 181 recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state and a zone under international control (Jerusalem and Bethlehem).

[…] 56% of the territory was granted to Zionism for the constitution of its state. In fact, this resolution was in violation of international law and flagrantly ignored the will of the large Arab majorities: the right to self-determination of the peoples became a dead letter.”

“[…] as opposed to what Israel and the United States would have the world believe via the communication transnationals, what took place and is still taking place in Palestine, let us say it with [Edward] Said, is not a religious conflict: it is a political conflict, of a colonial and imperialist stamp; it is not a millenary but a contemporary conflict; it is not a conflict that was born in the Middle East but in Europe.

“What was and what continues to be the crux of the conflict? The discussion and consideration of Israel’s security, but not in any way that of Palestine. This can be confirmed by recent history: suffice it to recall the latest genocidal episode unleashed by Israel with Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

“The security of Palestine cannot be reduced to the simple recognition of limited self-government and police control in its enclaves of the West Bank of the Jordan Rover and in the Gaza Strip, leaving aside not only the creation of the Palestine state based on pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, the rights of its nationals and their self-determination as a people, but also compensation and the consequent return to the homeland of 50% of the Palestinian population dispersed throughout the entire world, as established in Resolution 194.

“It is incredible that a country (Israel), which owes its existence to a General Assembly resolution, can be so disdainful of resolutions emanating from the United Nations, denounced Father Miguel D’Escoto, calling for an end to the massacre of the people of Gaza at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009.”

“It is impossible to ignore the crisis of the United Nations. Before this same General Assembly in 2005 we sustained that the United Nations model had been exhausted. The fact that the debate on the Palestinian question has been postponed and that it is being overtly sabotaged, is yet another confirmation of this.

“For a number of days now Washington has been stating that it will veto in the Security Council what will be the majority resolution of the General Assembly: the recognition of Palestine as a full member of the UN. Together with the sister nations which comprise the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), in the statement of recognition of Palestinian statehood, we have already deplored the fact that such a just aspiration could be blockaded in this way. As we know, the empire, in this and in other cases, is trying to impose a double standard on the world stage: it is the yankee double standard which violates international law in Libya, but allows Israel to do what it wants, thus making itself the principal accomplice of Palestinian genocide at the hands of Zionist barbarity. Let us recall some words of Said, which hit the nail on the head: ‘Due to Israeli interests in the United States, the policy of this country in terms of the Middle East is, therefore, Israeli-centric.’”

“I want to end with the voice of Mahmoud Darwish in his memorable poem:

‘On this earth there is something worth living for: on this earth is the lady of the earth, the mother of beginnings/the mother of ends. She was called Palestine. She is still called Palestine. / Lady: I deserve to live, because you are my lady, I deserve to live.’”

“She will continue to be called Palestine: Palestine will live and will win! Long life to free, sovereign and independent Palestine!

“Hugo Chávez Frías.

“President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

When the meeting began the following morning, his words were already present in the hearts and minds of those assembled there.

The Bolivarian leader has never been an enemy of the Jewish people. A man of particular sensitivity, he profoundly detests the brutal crimes committed by the Nazis against children, women and men, young and old alike in the concentration camps where Gypsies were also victims of atrocious crimes and an extermination attempt, which no one, however, remembers or mentions. Thousands of Russians likewise perished in those camps, as an inferior race within the Nazi racial framework.

When Chávez returned to his country from Cuba, the evening of Thursday, September 22, he spoke indignantly of Barack Obama’s speech at the United Nations. Very rarely have I heard him speak with such vehemence about the leader whom he has treated with the utmost respect, given his history as a victim of racial discrimination in the United States. He never considered Obama capable of behaving as George Bush had and appreciatively preserved the memory of the words they had exchanged when they met in Trinidad and Tobago.

“Yesterday we were listening to an assortment of speeches, the day before yesterday as well, there in the United Nations, precise speeches such as that of President Dilma Rousseff; a speech of great moral value such as that of President Evo Morales; a speech which we could describe as a monument to cynicism, the speech of President Obama which his own face betrayed, his own face was a poem; a man calling for peace, just imagine. Obama calling for peace. With what moral authority? An historic monument to cynicism, the speech of President Obama.

“We were listening to precise speeches, clarifying ones, that of President Lugo, that of the President of Argentina, taking valiant positions before the world.”

When the New York meeting began on the morning of Wednesday, September 21 – after the comments by the President of Brazil opening the discussion and the introduction de rigueur – the President of the United States took the podium and began his speech.

He began, “Over nearly seven decades, even as the United Nations helped avert a third world war, we still live in a world scarred by conflict and plagued by poverty. Even as we proclaim our love for peace and our hatred of war, there are still convulsions in our world that endanger us all.”

It is not clear at what point the UN may have prevented the outbreak of a World War III.

“I took office at a time of two wars for the United States. Moreover, the violent extremists who drew us into war in the first place – Osama bin Laden, and his al Qaeda organization – remained at large. Today, we have set a new direction.

At the end of this year, America’s military operation in Iraq will be over. We will have a normal relationship with a sovereign nation that is a member of the community of nations. That equal partnership will be strengthened by our support for Iraq – for its government and Security Forces; for its people and their aspirations.”

What country is Obama really talking about?

“As we end the war in Iraq, the United States and our coalition partners have begun a transition in Afghanistan. Between now and 2014, an increasingly capable Afghan government and security forces will step forward to take responsibility for the future of their country. As they do, we are drawing down our own forces, while building an enduring partnership with the Afghan people. So let there be no doubt: The tide of war is receding.

“When I took office, roughly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year, that number will be cut in half, and it will continue to decline. This is critical for the sovereignty of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s also critical to the strength of the United States as we build our nation at home. Ten years ago, there was an open wound and twisted steel, a broken heart in the center of this city. Today, as a new tower is rising at Ground Zero, it symbolizes New York’s renewal, even as al Qaeda is under more pressure than ever before. Its leadership has been degraded. And Osama bin Laden, a man who murdered thousands of people from dozens of countries, will never endanger the peace of the world again.”

Who was Bin Laden’s ally? Who trained him and armed him to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan? It wasn’t the socialists, or revolutionaries from anyplace in the world.

“So, yes, this has been a difficult decade. But today, we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace. To do so, we must return to the wisdom of those who created this institution. The United Nations’ Founding Charter calls upon us, ‘to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.’”

Who has military bases all over the world? Who is the largest exporter of weapons? Who has thousands of spy satellites? Who invests more than one billion dollars a year in military spending.

“This year has been a time of extraordinary transformation. More nations have stepped forward to maintain international peace and security. And more individuals are claiming their universal right to live in freedom and dignity.”

He then cites the situations in South Sudan and Ivory Coast. He doesn’t say that in the first instance, U.S. transnationals have descended upon the oil reserves of this new country, whose president in this very UN General Assembly said that it was a valuable, but finite, resource which he plans to use rationally and optimally.

Nor did Obama indicate that peace was established in the Ivory Coast with the support of colonialist soldiers from an eminent member of the bellicose NATO alliance which has just dropped thousands of bombs on Libya.

A bit later he mentions Tunisia and takes credit for the popular movement which overthrew the government in that country, which was an ally of imperialism.

Even more astonishingly, Obama fails to acknowledge that the Untied States was responsible for the installation of the tyrannical, corrupt government in Egypt of Hosni Mubarak who, absconding with the principles of Nasser, allied himself with the imperialists, stole billions from his country and tyrannized his valiant people.

“One year ago,” Obama said, “Egypt had known one President for nearly 30 years. But for 18 days, the eyes of the world were glued to Tahrir Square, where Egyptians from all walks of life — men and women, young and old, Muslim and Christian — demanded their universal rights. We saw in those protesters the moral force of non-violence that has lit the world from Delhi to Warsaw, from Selma to South Africa — and we knew that change had come to Egypt and to the Arab world.

“Day after day, in the face of bullets and bombs, the Libyan people refused to give back that freedom. And when they were threatened by the kind of mass atrocity that often went unchallenged in the last century, the United Nations lived up to its charter. The Security Council authorized all necessary measures to prevent a massacre. The Arab League called for this effort; Arab nations joined a NATO-led coalition that halted Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks.

“Yesterday, the leaders of a new Libya took their rightful place beside us, and this week, the United States is reopening our embassy in Tripoli.

“This is how the international community is supposed to work — nations standing together for the sake of peace and security, and individuals claiming their rights.

“All of us have a responsibility to support the new Libya — the new Libyan government as they confront the challenge of turning this moment of promise into a just and lasting peace for all Libyans.

“The Qaddafi regime is over. Gbagbo, Ben Ali, Mubarak are no longer in power. Osama bin Laden is gone, and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him.”

Notice the poetic language with which Obama dispatches the subject of Bin Laden, despite whatever the responsibility this one-time ally might have been, shot in the face before his wife and children, his body thrown into the ocean from an aircraft carrier, ignoring the customs and religious traditions of more than a billion believers, as well as elementary principles recognized by all legal systems. These are not methods which are, or will ever be, conducive to peace

“Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way that they will be. The humiliating grip of corruption and tyranny is being pried open. Dictators are on notice. Technology is putting power into the hands of the people. The youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship, and rejecting the lie that some races, some peoples, some religions, some ethnicities do not desire democracy.

“The promise written down on paper – ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’ – is closer at hand. The measure of our success must be whether people can live in sustained freedom, dignity, and security. And the United Nations and its member states must do their part to support those basic aspirations. And we have more work to do.”

He immediately takes up another Islamic country where, as is well known, his intelligence services along with those of Israel, systematically assassinate the most outstanding scientists involved in military technology.

Next he threatens Syria, where U.S. belligerency could lead to a massacre even more frightening than that of Libya.

“As we meet here today, men and women and children are being tortured, detained and murdered by the Syrian regime. Thousands have been killed, many during the holy time of Ramadan. Thousands more have poured across Syria’s borders.
“The Syrian people have shown dignity and courage in their pursuit of justice — protesting peacefully, standing silently in the streets, dying for the same values that this institution is supposed to stand for. And the question for us is clear: Will we stand with the Syrian people, or with their oppressors? The United States has imposed strong sanctions on Syria’s leaders. We supported a transfer of power that is responsive to the Syrian people. And many of our allies have joined in this effort. But for the sake of Syria — and the peace and security of the world — we must speak with one voice. There’s no excuse for inaction. Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime, and to stand with the Syrian people.”

Has, by chance, any country been exempted from the belligerent threats of this illustrious defender of international security and peace? Who granted the United States such prerogatives?

“Throughout the region, we will have to respond to the calls for change. In Yemen, men, women and children gather by the thousands in towns and city squares every day with the hope that their determination and spilled blood will prevail over a corrupt system. America supports those aspirations. We must work with Yemen’s neighbors and our partners around the world to seek a path that allows for a peaceful transition of power from President Saleh, and a movement to free and fair elections as soon as possible.

“In Bahrain, steps have been taken toward reform and accountability. We’re pleased with that, but more is required. America is a close friend of Bahrain, and we will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc — the Wifaq — to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people. We believe the patriotism that binds Bahrainis together must be more powerful than the sectarian forces that would tear them apart. It will be hard, but it is possible.”
He does not mention at all that one of the region’s largest military bases is located there and that U.S. transnationals control and access at will the vast oil and gas reserves of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“We believe that each nation must chart its own course to fulfil the aspirations of its people, and America does not expect to agree with every party or person who expresses themselves politically. But we will always stand up for the universal rights that were embraced by this Assembly. Those rights depend on elections that are free and fair; on governance that is transparent and accountable; respect for the rights of women and minorities; justice that is equal and fair. That is what our people deserve. Those are the elements of peace that can last.

“Moreover, the United States will continue to support those nations that transition to democracy — with greater trade and investment — so that freedom is followed by opportunity. We will pursue a deeper engagement with governments, but also with civil society — students and entrepreneurs, political parties and the press.

“We have banned those who abuse human rights from traveling to our country. And we’ve sanctioned those who trample on human rights abroad. And we will always serve as a voice for those who’ve been silenced.”

After this extended lecture, the eminent Nobel Prize winner delves into the thorny issue of his alliance with Israel which, of course, is not among the privileged owners of advanced systems of nuclear weapons and the means to reach distant targets. He knows perfectly well how arbitrary and unpopular this policy is.

“I know, particularly this week, that for many in this hall, there’s one issue that stands as a test for these principles and a test for American foreign policy, and that is the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine. I believed then, and I believe now, that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that a genuine peace can only be realized between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May of this year. That basis is clear. It’s well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state. Now, I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. I assure you, so am I. But the question isn’t the goal that we seek - the question is how do we reach that goal.”

He then launches into a long lecture explaining and justifying the inexplicable and unjustifiable.

“Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations — if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.  Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians — not us –- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem. Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied.
“There’s no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. It is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and so much effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can deliver a Palestinian state. But understand this as well: America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. “The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth…

“Each side has legitimate aspirations — and that’s part of what makes peace so hard. And the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in the other’s shoes; each side can see the world through the other’s eyes. That’s what we should be encouraging. That’s what we should be promoting.”

In the meantime, the Palestinians remain exiled in their own land, their homes are destroyed by monstrous machines and a hateful wall, much higher than the one in Berlin, separates some Palestinians from others. The least Obama could have done was acknowledge that Israel’s own citizens are tired of the squandering of resources invested in the military, denying them peace and access to the basic means of life. Like the Palestinians, they are suffering the consequences of policies imposed by the United States and the most bellicose, reactionary sectors of the Zionist state.

“Even as we confront these challenges of conflict and revolution, we must also recognize – we must also remind ourselves – that peace is not just the absence of war. True peace depends on creating the opportunity that makes life worth living. And to do that, we must confront the common enemies of humanity: nuclear weapons and poverty, ignorance and disease.”

Who understands this gibberish from the President of the United States before the General Assembly?

He immediately thereafter presents an unintelligible philosophy:

“To lift the specter of mass destruction, we must come together to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Over the last two years, we’ve begun to walk down that path. Since our Nuclear Security Summit in Washington nearly 50 nations have taken steps to secure nuclear materials from terrorists and smugglers.”

Is there greater terrorism than the aggressive, bellicose policy of a country with an arsenal of nuclear weapons which could destroy human life on the planet several times over?

“America will continue to work for a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons and the production of fissile material needed to make them,” Obama continued promising us, “and so we have begun to move in the right direction.

“And the United States is committed to meeting our obligations. But even as we meet our obligations, we’ve strengthened the treaties and institutions that help stop the spread of these weapons. And to do so, we must continue to hold accountable those nations that flout them. … The Iranian government cannot demonstrate that its program is peaceful.”

He’s back to the upbraiding. This time, Iran is not alone, the Democratic Republic of Korea is included.

“North Korea has yet to take concrete steps towards abandoning its weapons and continues belligerent action against the South. There’s a future of greater opportunity for the people of these nations if their governments meet their international obligations.  But if they continue down a path that is outside international law, they must be met with greater pressure and isolation. That is what our commitment to peace and security demands.”

I will continue tomorrow.

Fidel Castro Ruz
September 25, 2011
7:36 p.m.

Translated by Granma International

Part Two:

If our Nobel Prize winner is deceiving himself – something that has yet to be established – that perhaps explains the incredible contradictions in his reasoning and the confusion sowed among his listeners.

There is not a drop of morality, not even of politics, in his attempt to justify his announced decision to veto any resolution approved supporting the recognition of Palestine as an independent state and a member of the United Nations. Even politicians who in no way share socialist ideas and lead parties which were closely allied with Augusto Pinochet support Palestine’s right to full membership in the UN.

Barrack Obama’s words on the main topic of discussion today in the organization’s General Assembly can only be applauded by NATO, with its artillery, missiles and bombings.

The rest of his speech consisted of empty words, lacking moral authority and making no sense. Let us observe, for example, how just how vacuous they were. In a starving world, plundered by transnational corporations and the consumerism of developed capitalist countries, Obama proclaimed, “To stop disease that spreads across borders, we must strengthen our system of public health. We will continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We will focus on the health of mothers and of children. And we must come together to prevent, and detect, and fight every kind of biological danger - whether it’s a pandemic like H1N1, or a terrorist threat, or a treatable disease

“To preserve our planet, we must not put off action that climate change demands. We have to tap the power of science to save those resources that are scarce. And together, we must continue our work to build on the progress made in Copenhagen and Cancun, so that all the major economies here today follow through on the commitments that were made. Together, we must work to transform the energy that powers our economies, and support others as they move down that path. That is what our commitment to the next generation demands. And to make sure our societies reach their potential, we must allow our citizens to reach theirs.”

Everyone knows that the United States did not sign the Kyoto Protocol and has sabotaged all efforts to protect humanity from the terrible consequences of climate change, despite being the country which consumes a considerable, disproportionate part of the world’s oil and natural resources.

Let us make a record of the idyllic words with which he attempted to beguile the state leaders assembled there, “I know there’s no straight line to that progress, no single path to success. We come from different cultures, and carry with us different histories. But let us never forget that even as we gather here as heads of different governments, we represent citizens who share the same basic aspirations – to live with dignity and freedom; to get an education and pursue opportunity; to love our families, and love and worship our God; to live in the kind of peace that makes life worth living. It is the nature of our imperfect world that we are forced to learn these lessons over and over again.

“… Because those who came before us believed that peace is preferable to war, and freedom is preferable to suppression, and prosperity is preferable to poverty. That’s the message that comes not from capitals, but from citizens, from our people. And when the cornerstone of this very building was put in place, President Truman came here to New York and said, “The United Nations is essentially an expression of the moral nature of man’s aspirations.” The moral nature of man’s aspirations. As we live in a world that is changing at a breathtaking pace, that’s a lesson that we must never forget.

“Peace is hard, but we know that it is possible. So, together, let us be resolved to see that it is defined by our hopes and not by our fears. Together, let us make peace, but a peace, most importantly, that will last.

“Thank you very much.”

Listening to this until the very end is worthy of more than gratitude; it merits a medal.

As I have already indicated, early in the afternoon, it befell the President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales Ayma, to take the floor and immediately address the essential issues.

“…There is a clear difference over the culture of life and the culture of death. There is a clear difference over the truth in the face of falsehoods, a profound difference over peace as opposed to war.

“… I believe it is going to be difficult to understand each other with economic policies which concentrate capital in the hands of a few. The facts show that 1% of the world’s population holds 50% of the wealth. If such profound differences exist, how can poverty be reduced? And if we do not eliminate poverty, how can we guarantee a lasting peace?

“I remember perfectly well how as a child whenever there was a rebellion of the people against the capitalist system, against the economic model based on the permanent plunder of our natural resources, the union leaders, the political leaders of the left were accused of being communists and arrested. The popular movements were attacked militarily: arrests, exile, massacres, persecution, incarceration, accused of being communists, socialists, Maoists, Marxist-Leninists. But now, they have other tools, they make accusations of drug trafficking and terrorism.

“… they plan interventions whenever a president, a government, a people are not pro-capitalist or pro-imperialist.

“… A lasting peace is spoken of. How can there be lasting peace with U.S. military bases? How can there be lasting peace with military interventions?

“Of what use is the United Nations if a group of nations here decides on interventions, massacres?

“If we want this organization, the United Nations, to have the authority to have its resolutions respected, well, we have to begin thinking about re-founding the United Nations…

“Every year the United Nations – practically 100% of the countries, with the exception of the United States and Israel – decides to lift the blockade, end the economic blockade of Cuba. And who respects this? Of course, the Security Council is never going to respect this United Nations resolution… I cannot understand how, in an organization including all of the world’s nations, resolutions are not respected. What is the United Nations?

“I would like to tell you that Bolivia is not turning its back on the recognition of Palestine in the United Nations. Our position is that Bolivia welcomes Palestine to the United Nations.

“You all know, dear listeners, that I come from the Indigenous Campesino Movement and when our families talk about a company, we assume that that company has a lot of money, holds a lot of money, they’re millionaires. We can’t understand how a company could ask the state to lend it money for its investments.

“That’s why I say that these international financial entities are the ones who do business through private companies, but who has to pay for it? Of course, it is the people, the states.

“… Bolivia has a historic demand, of Chile, to return to the sea, to retake sovereign access to the Pacific, with sovereignty. Therefore Bolivia has made the decision to resort to international tribunals, to demand useful, sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean.

“Resolution 37/10 of the UN General Assembly, November 15, 1982, establishes that ‘recourse to judicial settlement of legal disputes, particularly

Referral to the International Court of Justice, should not be considered an unfriendly act between States.’

“Bolivia is protected by law and by right has recourse to an International Court because its confinement is the result of an unjust war, an invasion. Demanding a solution in the international arena represents for Bolivia the reparation of a historic injustice.

“Bolivia is a peaceful state which favors dialogue with neighboring countries, and for that reason maintains open channels of bilateral negotiation with Chile, without renouncing its right to have recourse to an International Court…”

“The peoples are not responsible for the maritime confinement of Bolivia, those responsible are the oligarchies, the transnationals which, as always, appropriate the peoples’ natural resources.

“The 1904 Treaty did not contribute to peace or friendship; it caused Bolivia’s lack of access to a sovereign port for more than one century.”

“…in the region of the Americas another movement of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean is being organized, I would say a new OAS without the United States, in order to liberate ourselves from certain impositions, fortunately, with the little experience that we have acquired in UNASUR. [... ] If there is a conflict between countries, we no longer need [...] persons coming from above and outside to impose order.”

“I also want to take advantage of this opportunity to address a central issue: combating drug trafficking. Combating drug trafficking is being utilized by U.S. imperialism for purely political ends. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Bolivia was not combating drug trafficking, it was controlling drug trafficking for political ends. If there was a labor leader, or an anti-imperialist political leader, that’s why the DEA was there: to implicate him or her. We saved many leaders, many politicians from that kind of dirty work by the empire to implicate us in drug trafficking. They are still attempting to do just that.”

“In recent weeks certain media from the United States were saying that the presidential plane had been detained in the United States due to traces of cocaine. How untrue! They are trying to confuse the population, trying to promote a dirty campaign against the government, even against the state. However, what is the United States doing? Decertifying Bolivia and Venezuela. What moral authority does the United States have to certify or decertify countries in South America or in Latin America, when the United States is the world’s prime consumer of drugs, the prime producer of marijuana in the world? [... ] What authority does it have to certify or decertify? It is another means of frightening or intimidating countries, trying to teach countries a lesson. However, Bolivia is, very responsibly, fighting drug trafficking.

“In the same U.S. report; that is to say, of the Department of State of the United States acknowledges a net reduction of coca cultivation; that the interdiction has improved.

“But, where is the market? The market is the origin of drug trafficking and the market is here. And who decertifies the United States because it has not reduced the market?

“This morning, President Calderón of Mexico said that the drug market is still growing and asked why there is no responsibility taken for eradicating the market. [... ] Let’s fight under a shared co-responsibility. [... ] In Bolivia, we’re not afraid, and we have to end secret banking if we want to make a frontal assault on drug trafficking.”

“… One of the crises, on the margins of the crisis of capitalism, is the food crisis. [... ] We have a little experience in Bolivia: giving credits with zero interest to rice, corn, wheat and soy producers, and they can also pay their debts with their products, such as food; or accessible credits to encourage production. However, the international banks never take small producers into account, never take associations, cooperatives into account and these can make a very good contribution if they are given the opportunity. [... ] We have to end commerce which is based on competitiveness.

“In a competition, who wins? The most powerful, the one with the most advantages, always the transnationals, and who are the small producers, who are these families who wish to rise up through their own efforts? [... ] Within a policy of competition we are certainly not going to solve the issue of poverty.

“But, finally, to end this speech, I want to state that the crisis of capitalism is already unpayable. [... ] The economic crisis of capitalism is not circumstantial, but structural and what are the capitalist or imperialist countries doing? Seeking any pretext for intervening in a country in order to recoup its natural resources.

“This morning, the President of the United States said that Iraq has been liberated and that they are going to govern themselves. The Iraqis are going to be able to govern themselves, but in whose hands is the Iraqis’ oil now?

“They welcomed it, they said that autocracy in Libya was over, now it’s a democracy; it can be a democracy, but in whose hands is Libya’s oil going to be now? [... ] the bombardments were not the fault of Gaddafi, the fault of certain rebels, but because of seeking Libya’s oil.”

“…Therefore, they want to overcome it, their crisis, the crisis of capitalism, they want to rectify it by recouping our natural resources, on the basis of our oil, on the basis of our gas, our natural resources.

“… we have an enormous responsibility: defending the rights of Mother Earth.”

“…the best way of defending human rights today is by defending the rights of Mother Earth [...] here we have an enormous responsibility in approving the rights of Mother Earth. Just over 60 years ago the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was approved. Just over 60 years ago it was recognized in the United Nations that human beings have their rights as well. After political rights, economic rights, the rights of the indigenous peoples, now we have the enormous responsibility of how to defend the rights of Mother Earth.

“We are also convinced that infinite growth on a finite planet is unsustainable and impossible, the limits on growth are the degeneration of the Earth’s ecosystems. [... ] We are calling for [...] a new decalogue of social demands: in financial systems, over natural resources, over basic services, over production, over dignity and sovereignty and, on this basis, to begin to re-found the United Nations, so that the United Nations becomes the highest body for solving issues of peace, issues of poverty, issues of the dignity and sovereignty of the peoples of the world.”

“We hope that this experience as a President might serve for something for all of us, as I also have come to learn from many of you in order to continue working for the equality and dignity of the Bolivian people.”

“Thank you very much indeed.”

After the essential concepts of Evo Morales, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, who was granted speaking rights two days ago, set out the dramatic sufferings of the inhabitants of Palestine: “…the crass historical injustice perpetrated against our people, for whom it was deemed convenient to establish the state of Palestine in just 22% of the territory of Palestine and, above all, the Palestinian territory which Israel occupied in 1967. Taking that historic step, which was applauded by the states of the world, allowed an excessive acquiescence in order to achieve a historical contemporization, which would allow peace to be attained in the land of peace.”

“[... ] Our people will continue popular, peaceful resistance to the Israeli occupation, its settlements and its policy of apartheid, as well as the construction of the racist wall of annexation [... ] armed with dreams, courage, hope and mottoes in the face of tanks, teargas, bulldozers and bullets.”

“… we want to extend a hand to the Israeli government and people for the establishment of peace, and I say to you: let us build together, in an urgent way, a future for our sons and daughters in which they can enjoy peace, security and prosperity. [... ] Let us build relations of cooperation based on parity, equity and friendship between two neighboring states, Palestine and Israel, instead of policies of occupation, settlements, war and the elimination of the other.”

Almost half a century has passed since that brutal occupation promoted and supported by the United States. However, barely a day passes without the wall rising, monstrous mechanical equipment destroying Palestinian homes and some young or even adolescent Palestinian falling injured or dead.

What profound truths were contained in Evo’s words!

Fidel Castro Ruz
September 26, 2011
10:32 p.m.

Translated by Granma International

Looking out for western business and investor rights: why the West approves military interventions to topple one Arab government and prop up another

Via What’s Left

By Stephen Gowans

In a previous article I pointed to three factors to explain the West’s decision to intervene militarily in Libya to prevent the government there from putting down an armed rebellion while it tacitly approves the Gulf Cooperation Council’s military intervention in Bahrain to put down a peaceful rebellion there. The double-standard, I argued, reflects dramatic differences between Libya and Bahrain in their relationship with the United States and its dominant investor and corporate class.

Bahrain is the home of the US Fifth Fleet, has long-standing warm relations with Washington, and strongly caters to western corporate and investor interests. Since the Khalifa regime supports US corporate profit-making and military interests, and a new regime might not do the same to the same degree, Washington is prepared to allow Saudi and other GCC troops and tanks to assist Bahraini authorities in violently quelling a peaceful rebellion.

Libya, I pointed out, doesn’t provide bases for the US or other western militaries, hasn’t had long-standing warm relations with Washington, and isn’t particularly accommodating of western corporate and investor interests. From a neo-colonialist standpoint, western powers could do better in Libya.

Some readers objected, arguing that in recent years Libya has sought to open itself to western corporations and investors and has struck a number of deals with western oil companies. It cannot be concluded, they continued, that the West’s decision to intervene military in Libya was motivated by western profit-making considerations, for Libya is already catering to western business interests.

To be sure, Libya has opened itself to the West, but doing deals with western corporations is not the same as engineering a wholesale subordination of domestic interests to those of foreign bankers and corporations — typically, what corporate-and investor-oriented western governments look for in third-world ‘partners’. For the wealthy scouring the globe for investment opportunities and corporations seeking export markets, an opening door in Libya doesn’t necessarily mean that Libya’s business climate is fully conducive to maximising profits.

That Libya allows some western corporations to operate in the country doesn’t guarantee that investments are safe from expropriation, that performance requirements aren’t imposed on foreign investments, that repatriation of profits isn’t controlled, that taxes aren’t high, or that there is a commitment to labor market ‘flexibility’. In short, the Gaddafi government may, in recent years, have sought to expand western access to investment opportunities in Libya, but that alone doesn’t mean that the conditions of access were regarded by corporations and investors as being as desirable as they could be, or as desirable, for example, as those provided by the government of Bahrain, or a desirable as those a future government might provide.

The Heritage Foundation provides a guide to how accommodating countries are to the profit-making interests of US corporations and investors. Every year the foundation publishes an Index of Economic Freedom, which ranks countries on how open they are to exports and foreign investment, how low their taxes are, how committed they are to protecting property rights, and so on; in short, how strongly a country favors foreign businesses and investors over its own people.

Significantly, governments that are perennially targets of US government regime change efforts rank at or near the bottom of the index. This year’s list identifies the following 10 countries as the least economically free (ie, least accommodating to foreign businesses), in order, from worst to slightly better:

  • North Korea
  • Zimbabwe
  • Cuba
  • Eritrea
  • Venezuela
  • Myanmar
  • Libya
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Iran
  • Timor-Leste

Seven of the bottom 10 (North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela, Myanmar, Libya and Iran) are the targets of open regime change operations by the United States and its allies, carried out ostensibly because the targeted countries are not protecting human rights, threaten regional stability, or in the case of Libya, because the government is said to be attacking its own people.

That these countries happen to be considered the least accommodating of foreign business profit-making points to an ulterior motive on the part of western governments to bring about regime change, and to use human-rights and humanitarian rhetoric as a cover for pursuing the economic interests of western corporate and investor elites.

Significantly, not one country in the top 10 is a target of western regime change efforts. If regime change were linked to human-rights concerns and not unfavorable investment and export conditions, we might expect to find regime change targets scattered throughout the rankings, rather than bunched up at the bottom.

One counter-explanation is that economically free countries tend to respect human rights, which is why the worst offenders on both counts are found at the bottom of the list. However, this couldn’t possibly be true, for the United States, which has an atrocious human rights record (Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, torture and rendition of prisoners, arrest and detention without charge, extrajudicial assassination, weakening of Miranda rights, spying on its own citizens, restrictions on travel to Cuba, and so on) ranks as the ninth freest country in the world in economic terms, and Saudi Arabia, the least free country in terms of political and civil liberties and perhaps the most contemptuous of human rights, ranks in the top half.

Bahrain, as it turns out, is ranked number 10 of 179 countries on the Heritage Foundation list, next to the United States. Regionally, Bahrain is top ranked in North Africa and West Asia, while Libya, ranked 173 over all countries, falls dead last in regional rankings.

Bahrain’s higher ranking is based on an array of government policies aimed to please foreign businesses. Property ownership is secure and expropriation is unlikely, whereas in Libya foreign companies are vulnerable to expropriation. Bahrain welcomes foreign investment and allows new businesses to be 100 percent foreign owned and controlled, while Libya screens foreign investment, imposes performance requirements on foreign investors that domestic investors are not required to meet, and demands that Libyans have a 35 percent stake in foreign companies that operate in the country. And while Bahrain imposes no restrictions on repatriation of profits, Libya does.

On trade, Bahrain imposes few restrictions on imports, while Libya maintains a variety of tariff and non-tariff barriers to help local firms develop. With the exception of oil companies, businesses that operate in Bahrain pay no corporate tax, while businesses in Libya are subject to a tax rate as high as 40 percent. Personal income tax is extremely low in Bahrain, but can reach as high as 90 percent in Libya. And while Bahrain provides businesses maximum flexibility in dealing with employees, even allowing them to pay desperation-level wages, Libya demands that businesses meet minimum standards on pay and working conditions.

In short, the Bahraini monarchy runs a foreign-investment- and import-friendly regime, while Libya’s economic policies favour local investors and businesses and provide a minimal standard of protection for labor. A government that was more like Bahrain’s, and less like Gaddafi’s, would unquestionably be congenial to foreign business interests.

Heritage Foundations 2011 evaluation of economic freedom in Bahrain and Libya

Heritage Foundation's 2011 evaluation of economic freedom in Bahrain and Libya

Some readers contend that western military intervention in Libya is aimed at preventing the slaughter of Libyan civilians. But a stronger case can be made that western military intervention is aimed at regime change, and that, far from protecting civilians, Nato bombing is only setting the stage for a prolonged civil war by weakening loyalist forces and thereby allowing the rebels to contest for power.

There are a number of reasons why the Nato operation in Libya can be seen as a regime change effort, apart from the motivation of replacing the current government with one more congenial to western profit-making interests, as discussed above.

First, the decision of the French government to recognise the rebel opposition as the legitimate government was a declaration that France, at least, is manoeuvring to install a new government in Libya. (1) Indeed, both France and Britain have acknowledged that they are seeking the ouster of Gaddafi. (2)

Second, US secretary of state Hilary Clinton said “Gaddafi’s ouster was the ultimate goal of the UN resolution” (3), and while US president Barack Obama denied this, he did say that the military “campaign will likely continue as long as Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is in power”. (4) If the intervention’s goal is to protect civilians and not install a new government, how can the aims of France and Britain and the comments of Clinton and Obama be reconciled?

Third, Washington hopes that sanctions “combined with Nato air power, will be enough to turn the tide militarily”. While the UN Security Council resolution authorises the use of military means to protect civilians, it doesn’t authorise the use of military means to aid rebel forces. Yet newspapers on 23 March 2011 were full of stories on how fresh airstrikes were allowing rebel forces to recover lost ground. For example, the Wall Street Journal commented that,

“The hope for the West is that a continuation of military pressure on Col Gaddafi’s forces, even at somewhat lower levels in coming days, combined with continued forward movement by the rebels, will be enough to make the Libyan army either buckle or turn on the Libyan leader. That would produce the outcome the West hopes for – the removal of Col Gaddafi.” (5)

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that “the airstrikes have lifted the rebels back from the brink of defeat in the eastern city of Benghazi and enabled them to rush west along the coast past their farthest gains of the previous peak weeks ago”. (6)

It is clear that the intention of the military intervention, which was authorised when the rebels’ defeat by loyalist forces was imminent, was to weaken the government side to allow the rebels to rally and seize the momentum. This hardly favors a quick resolution of the conflict. The conflict could go on for some time, perhaps taking more lives than would have been lost had the UN sent a fact-finding mission in return for a cease-fire, or had loyalist forces successfully put down the uprising weeks ago.

The potential for the conflict to drag on, fuelled by the aid Nato provides the rebels through its airstrikes, was acknowledged by US secretary of defense Robert Gates. The Pentagon boss said “he couldn’t be sure Nato would have finished its mission by year-end”. (7)

The idea, then, that the UN Security Council authorised military intervention to protect civilians has no substance. Furthermore, the idea that the intervention is protecting civilians, whether that is the real intention of the intervention or not, seems unlikely, since the outcome so far has been to create the conditions for a protracted civil war – one moreover, that will be worsened by civilian deaths caused by Nato bombing on behalf of rebel forces.

If the rebel forces prevail and extend their control to all of Libya, or eventually settle for partition of the country, we can expect the economic policies of the future government to be closer to those of Bahrain, and therefore closer to the profit-making interests of western corporations and investors. In this sense, the UN Security Council, and the military operation it authorises, can be seen as investments in making Libya a more attractive place to do business in.

Finally, it might be pointed out, as Johnstone has, (8) that the Gaddafi government has invested a considerable part of its oil revenues in sub-Saharan Africa, contrary to the usual practice among Arab oil states of shipping the proceeds of their oil sales to New York investment banks, the London stock exchange, and US arms manufacturers. These practices are more conducive to western business interests than Gaddafi’s investments in Africa, and might be expected to become the standard practice in Libya if the rebel movement succeeds in ousting Gaddafi.

NOTES
1. ‘Why are they making war on Libya?’ by Diana Johnstone, Counterpunch, 24 March 2011
2. ‘Obama bets on limited engagement’ by Jay Solomon and Carol E Lee, Wall Street Journal, 24 March 2011
3. ‘Allies rally against Gadhafi’ by Keith Johnson, Yaroslav Trofimov and Sam Dagher, Wall Street Journal, 19 March 2011
4. ‘Allies strain to mend split’ by Nathan Hodge, Sam Dagher, Stephen Fidler and Stacy Meichtry, Wall Street Journal, 23 March 2011
5. ‘Fresh airstrikes aid rebels’ by Sam Dagher and Stephen Fiddler, Wall Street Journal, 28 March 2011
6. ‘Libyan rebels march toward Qaddafi stronghold’ by David D Kirkpatrick and Kareem Fahim, New York Times, 27 March 2011
7. ‘Fresh airstrikes aid rebels’ by Sam Dagher and Stephen Fiddler, Wall Street Journal, 28 March 2011
8. ‘Why are they making war on Libya?’ by Diana Johnstone, Counterpunch, 24 March 2011

Condolences for Comrade Jack

We reproduce below various condolences received from fraternal comrades and parties for our much missed honorary president, Comrade Jack Shapiro.

Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)

Tribute letter can be read here.

Union of Romanian Communists

Dear Comrades!

On behalf of the Central Committee of the Union of Romanian Communists (UCR) I express the profound grief upon the death of a British socialist comrade.

We are by your side and we are certain that you will carry on his never-ending battle till the final victory of socialism in the world.

Comradely yours,
Comrade C

First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Union of Romanian Communists
Official delegate of the Korean Friendship Association to Romania

All-African People’s Revolutionary Party

Please accept out sincere condolences. We are pleased that we were able to see him speak in full flow. We can best honour him by continuing the struggle. Please pass on our message to your members and his family.

Comrade A, on behalf of the AAPRP

An American comrade

Comrades,

I would like to thank Comrade Vijay for his tribute to Howard Zinn and the comrades of the CPGB-ML for their tribute to both Jack and Michael Shapiro. It is difficult to lose comrades that are truly courageous fighters in the class struggle.

One of the many songs that rose out of the resistance to Apartheid was a song recognised and praised by many South African freedom fighters and activists titled ASIMBONANGA, sung and performed by Johhny Clegg and Savuka. The music of this song is very stirring and I apologise that I cannot produce the music here, but I will share the lyrics in recognition to all our fallen comrades the world over:

Chorus:
Asimbonanga
(We have not seen him)
Asimbonanga’ um Mandela thina
(We have not seen Mandela…)
Laph’ ekhona
(in the place where he is…)
Laph’ ehleli khona
(in the where he is kept)

Oh the sea is cold and the sky is grey
Look across the island into the bay
We are all islands till comes the day
We cross the burning water

Chorus:  …….

A seagull wings across the sea
Broken silence is what I dream
Who has the words to close the distance
Between you and me

Chorus:  ……

Steven Biko?
Asimbonanga
(We have not seen him….)
Asimbonanga’umfowethu thina
(We have not seen our brother…)
Laph’ ekhona
(In the place where he is…)
La wafela khona
(In the place where he died…)

Victoria Mxgenge?
(Repeat above chorus)

Neil Aggett?
(Repeat above chorus)

Hey wena
(Hey you…)
Hey wena nawe
(Hey you and you as well)
Sizofik a nina la’
Siyakhona
(When will we arrive at our true destination?)

To Howard Zinn and the Shapiros we can sing the chorus in recognition of their loyal fight in the class struggle and against revisionism and opportunism.

Another song of resistance to come out of the struggle against Apartheid performed by Johnny Clegg and Savuka that recognised the growing numbers of freedom fighters in this class struggle was titled THIRD WORLD CHILD. I would like to relate this song to all Marxist Leninists and freedom fighters the world over in recognition of your faithful fight in the class struggle and all forms of revisionism and opportunism, which is scourge of the class struggle that must be emphatically exposed and overthrown in order for the socialist struggle to be victorious. If we want to honor all the comrades before us and their sacrifice … then that is our task.

Bits of songs and broken drums
Are all he could recall
So he spoke to me
In a bastard tongue
Carried on the silence of the guns

It’s been a long time
Since they first came
And marched thru’ our village
They taught us to forget our past
And live the future in their image

They said
You should learn to
Speak a little English
Don’t be scared of a suit and tie
Learn to walk in the
Dreams of the foreigner
I am a third world child

The outworld’s dreams
Are the currency
That grip the city streets
I live them out
But I have my own
Hidden somewhere deep
Inside of me

In between my father’s fields
And the citadel of the rule
Lies a no-man’s land which
I must cross to find my stolen jewel

They said I should learn to speak a little bit of English
Maybe practice birth control
Keep away from controversial politics
So to save my third world soul

They said
You should learn to speak a little bit of English
Don’t be scared of a suit and tie
Learn to walk in the dreams of the foreigner
I am a third world child

Wo ilanga lobunzima
Nalo liyashona
Ukuthinini asazi
Musa ukuhala
Mntanami

Bits of songs and broken drums
Are all he could recall
But the future calls his name out loud
Carried on the violence of the guns

I can speak a little bit of English
I am the seed that has survived
I am the fire that has been woken
I am a third world child
Mao reminds us about the class struggle in very clear and direct terms:

“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”
(’Report on an investigation of the peasant movement in Hunan’, March 1927, Selected Works, Vol I)

Fraternally
Comrade M

Two British comrades

Dear comrades

I wish to send condolences to the CPGB-ML and the family of comrade Jack Shapiro.

Jack Shapiro was a sincere communist and revolutionary fighter who came from an ordinary working-class family in London’s East End.He was a great internationalist who defended the Korean and Chinese revolutions. He was a good friend of the DPRK.

Despite his advanced age he continuined to fight tirelessly for the communist cause when many younger than him had become ‘tired’ and dropped out.

We were saddening to learn of his passing.

Yours fraternally
Comrade D

Dear Comrades,

May I offer to your Central Committee and to the membership of the CPGB-ML my deepest condolences upon the passing away of Comrade Jack Shapiro.

Jack Shapiro’s whole life was devoted to the noble cause of advancing the goals of the working class, towards the promotion of socialism. Comrade Shapiro was a model proletarian revolutionary, a staunch Marxist Leninist to the last. Jack Shapiro was a consistent friend of the Democartic People’s Republic of Korea and of the People’s Republic of China throughout the decades.

May the Beloved memory of Comrade Jack Shaprio live on the hearts and minds of the workers both here in Britain and throughout the world!

GLORY TO JACK SHAPRIO!
WORKERS OF ALL LANDS, UNITE!

Yours fraternally
Comrade S

Statement: Earthquake disaster in China

For the second time in as many years, the People’s Republic of China has been hit by a devastating earthquake causing substantial loss of life and massive damage.

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck in the morning of Wednesday 14 April and so far more than 400 people are confirmed dead and 10,000 are known to be injured. The numbers of both dead and injured are expected to rise substantially.

The quake struck in the province of Qinghai, with the worst affected area being Yushu, a Tibetan autonomous prefecture. 93 percent of the local population are of Tibetan nationality.

Although this is a sparsely populated area, casualties will be high, due to the area’s remoteness, high altitude, low level of economic development, the fact that many local people are still living in poverty, a large number of aftershocks, bad weather conditions, and the logistical and infrastructural problems that all these factors create. Most of Yushu county is remote and inaccessible mountainous terrain, with an average altitude of 4,493 metres, which makes rescue work even more grueling due to the shortage of oxygen.

Many people are trapped in the rubble of homes and schools, most of which were made from wood and mud. The quake also toppled temples, petrol stations and electricity supply lines, triggered landslides, damaged roads, cut power supplies and disrupted telecommunications. A reservoir developed cracks which workers are trying to repair. Roads leading to the local airport have been damaged, hampering relief efforts, temperatures are below freezing, with snow, sleet and rain all forecast for the coming days. Currently all local electricity and gas supplies have been cut off.

In this bleak situation, the hope of the local Tibetan people, as with people of all nationalities across the vast land of China, rests as ever with the Communist Party, the People’s Government, the People’s Liberation Army and the working class.

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao immediately ordered local authorities to spare no effort in search and rescue operations and in caring for the victims. Thousands of soldiers and rescue workers have been dispatched to the area. Vice Premier Hui Liangyu rushed to the quake-hit region to supervise rescue operations on behalf of the party and government.

Last night on CCTV9, China’s English-language TV station, a seismology expert, said that it is at times like this that the world must see the Chinese people at their best, sparing no effort and pulling together as one family. His words speak to the essence of socialism, which Comrade Mao Zedong pointed out long ago is the only thing that can save China. In its Thursday 15 April edition, the China Daily noted that the existence of an airport near the quake epicentre was of considerable help to relief efforts, adding that this demonstrated “the importance of building more small airports in remote regions of China, despite their limited economic potential.” The paper went on to quote a leading civil aviation official:

“Railway or road transport would be a slower way to move supplies and rescuers, and, once one point is blocked, the whole line becomes useless…

“Small airports may lose money in general, but their strategic importance cannot be gauged by money.” (Airport vital lifeline to relief effort)

At this moment, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) shares the grief and anguish of our class sisters and brothers in China. We, too, believe that only socialism can save China and all humanity, and we extend our solidarity to the heroic People’s Liberation Army, the saviours of the masses of Tibetan people for more than half a century, and all the brave and selfless comrades participating in the relief effort. No hardship or challenge has ever daunted the great Chinese people and this present tragedy will be no exception.

There is one further point which we feel compelled to make. The majority of those killed and otherwise affected by this tragedy are of Tibetan nationality. And the quake-hit area lies within what the Dalai Lama refers to as “Greater Tibet”, as part of the attempts by this disgusting feudal relic to break up China at the behest of his imperialist masters. But whilst the people of all nationalities in China, led by the Communist Party and the People’s Government, once again rally to the rescue of their Tibetan compatriots, what will the Dalai Lama, his feudal coterie and his well-heeled followers in the West do to ease the people’s suffering? Will the naïve Hollywood liberals who seem to feel some mystic aura emanating from clerical robes donate even five minutes of their income to rebuilding homes and schools? Facts once again show who are the true friends of the Tibetan people. It is high time that people in the West realised the truth and rejected the deceitful propaganda of the Dalai Lama and his supporters.

The CPGB-ML, in sending condolences to the Chinese people, also takes this opportunity to reaffirm our unyielding support for their national integrity and socialist construction.

Closure of Cadburys Somerdale site

It is over two years since Cadburys told the workforce on its Somerdale site in Keynsham that their chocolate factory was going to close, with the loss of 500+ jobs. The news that this longstanding operation, dating all the way back to the 1930s, was for the chop at once triggered a community-wide wave of anger and dismay. Workers on the site initiated a campaign to save their jobs, and it seemed for a while that everyone agreed with them. Hundreds of Keep Cadburys Keynsham T-shirts were manufactured, Dan Norris (the local Labour MP) and sundry councillors associated themselves with the campaign, and Bristol Evening Post gave it lots of coverage, with plenty of rose-tinted articles about the “good old days” of Quaker paternalism which today’s hardnosed Cadbury management was betraying. It seemed for a time as if the bandwagon was so stuffed with the “great and the good” that its forward progress could not be resisted.

Two years on, the picture looks very different. The combative spirit of the workforce was allowed slowly to waste away whilst everyone held their breath for Norris and his chums to pull some compromise deal out of the bag. The workforce were encouraged to be “realistic” in their demands. This soon turned out to mean that they should resign themselves to the likely loss of their jobs and concentrate more on petitioning Cadburys to give guarantees that the attached social club and playing fields would be preserved for community use. Then, just as most people were getting resigned to eventual redundancy, US food giant Kraft began its campaign to take over Cadburys. In its effort to win public opinion over to its bid, Kraft dropped heavy hints that the Somerdale site would be retained, to the surprise and gratification of the workforce. No sooner was the deal done, however, than Kraft confirmed that Cadbury’s original plan remained in place: Somerdale is to close and its operation transferred to Poland.

Right on cue, Norris called a local meeting to let people say how “cross” they were about this double betrayal and to decide “how best to move on”, yet again offering himself as an intermediary in further negotiations with Kraft, the local authorities etc. His biggest concern seemed to be that Kraft had come along and stirred things up again just when everyone had been more or less persuaded to give up! Challenged by workers enraged at their treatment at the hands of big business, he offered the opinion: “Well, that’s capitalism”. However, when asked why the government, which had no hesitation in nationalising vast amounts of bank debt, could not also nationalise Cadburys operations and put the workforce to work producing whatever is required to satisfy the needs of society, not the profit-hunger of big business, he ducked the question.

Yes, “that’s capitalism” all right, and Labour imperialists like Dan Norris are its most slavish servants, however plentifully flow the crocodile tears. Workers in Keynsham are dead right to be enraged at the shabby treatment they have had at the hands of first Cadburys and now Kraft, unceremoniously dumping them and relocating the operation to the low-wage economy of Poland. But we need to understand that this vandalism is not something accidental, but is driven by the growing crisis that is central to all modern capitalist development. What we are witnessing in industry after industry is a global battle for markets being fought out between rival bands of capitalists, for whom losing the competitive edge spells not a modest decline in profit share but corporate extinction. Behind the greed lies desperation, and beneath both seethes the overproduction crisis of capitalism.

Condolences from the CPA(ML) regarding Comrade Jack Shapiro

This letter was received from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) on 31 January

Our British Correspondent leaves a rich legacy

The world communist movement has lost a great fighter and thinker. Jack Shapiro, known over decades to Vanguard readers as “Our British Correspondent”, died on January 29 at the age of 93. Jack was the Honorary Chairman of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and a much loved friend of our party.

Jack truly embodied what the word ‘communist’ means. He dedicated his entire life to the service of the ordinary people of the world. He knew that if they were led by a working class imbued with Marxism-Leninism, they were an unstoppable force. But he knew that this would not happen spontaneously, that without the guidance of communist parties, organised and steeled in the particular struggles of their own countries, capitalism would continue to triumph.

Jack, alongside his wife and comrade Marie, made an inestimable contribution to the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist), through his numerous articles which were a model to other Vanguard contributors in their incisive and thorough analysis of the facts, and in his unwavering commitment to Marxism-Leninism as a science which must be deeply studied and constantly tested against reality in order to be developed.

Comrade Ted Hill, the founding Chairman of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) formed in 1963, deeply respected and drew strength from Jack’s sharp Marxist-Leninist analyses during their discussions on his visits to London.

The CPA (M-L) extends its deepest sympathy to his family and friends, and to the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist). Jack Shapiro will be long remembered for his great service to the Australian people. May his example inspire us all.

The next issue of Vanguard will contain a more detailed article on Jack’s enormous contribution.

In solidarity,

Central Committee

Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)

Seamus Milne: Terror is the price of support for despots and dictators

Via The Guardian

If an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor had gone on hunger strike in support of a besieged people in another part of the world, and hundreds of mostly western protesters had been stoned and beaten by police, you can be sure we’d have heard all about it. But because that is what’s been happening in western-backed Egypt, rather than Iran, and the people the protesters are supporting are the Palestinians of Gaza instead of, say, Tibetans, most people in Europe and north America know nothing about it.

For the last fortnight, two groups of hundreds of activists have been battling with Egyptian police and officials to cross into the Gaza Strip to show solidarity with the blockaded population on the first anniversary of Israel’s devastating onslaught. Last night, George Galloway’s Viva Palestina 500-strong convoy of medical aid was finally allowed in, minus 50 of its 200 vehicles, after being repeatedly blocked, diverted and intimidated by Egyptian security – including a violent assault in the Egyptian port of El Arish on Tuesday night which left dozens injured, despite the participation of one British and 10 Turkish MPs.

That followed an attempted “Gaza freedom march” by 1,400 protesters from more than 40 countries, only 84 of whom were allowed across the border – which is what led Hedy Epstein, both of whose parents died in Auschwitz, to refuse food in Cairo, as the group’s demonstrations were violently broken up and Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was feted nearby. Yesterday, demonstrations by Palestinians on the Gazan side of the border against the harassment of the aid convoy led to violent clashes with Egyptian security forces in which an Egyptian soldier was killed and many Palestinians injured.

But although the confrontation has been largely ignored in the west, it has been a major media event in the Middle East which has only damaged Egypt. And while the Egyptian government claims it is simply upholding its national sovereignty, the saga has instead starkly exposed its complicity in the US- and European-backed blockade of Gaza and the collective punishment of its one and a half million people.

The main protagonist of the siege, Israel, controls only three sides of the Strip. Without Egypt, which polices the fourth, it would be ineffective. But, having tolerated the tunnels that have saved Gazans from utter beggary, the Cairo regime is now building a deep underground steel wall – known as the “wall of shame” to many Egyptians – under close US supervision, to make the blockade complete.

That’s partly because the ageing Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, fears cross-border contamination from Gaza’s elected Hamas administration, whose ideological allies in the banned Muslim Brotherhood would be likely to win free elections in Egypt.

But two other factors seem to have been decisive in convincing Cairo to bend to American and Israeli pressure and close the vice on Gaza’s Palestinians, along with those who support them. The first was a US threat to cut hundreds of millions of dollars of aid unless it cracked down on arms and other smuggling. The second is the need for US acquiescence in the widely expected hereditary succession of Mubarak’s ex-banker son, Gamal, to the presidency. So, far from protecting its sovereignty, the Egyptian government has sold it for continued foreign subsidy and despotic dynastic rule, sacrificing any pretence to its historic role of Arab leadership in the process.

From the wider international perspective, it is precisely this western embrace of repressive and unrepresentative regimes such as Egypt’s, along with unwavering backing for Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land, that is at the heart of the crisis in the Middle East and Muslim world.

Decades of oil-hungry backing for despots, from Iran to Oman, Egypt to Saudi Arabia, along with the failure of Arab nationalism to complete the decolonisation of the region, fuelled first the rise of Islamism and then the eruption of al-Qaida-style terror more than a decade ago. But, far from addressing the natural hostility to foreign control of the area and its resources at the centre of the conflict, the disastrous US-led response was to expand the western presence still further, with new and yet more destructive invasions and occupations, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. And the Bush administration’s brief flirtation with democratisation in client states such as Egypt was quickly abandoned once it became clear who was likely to be elected.

The poisonous logic of this imperial quagmire is now leading inexorably to the spread of war under Barack Obama. Following the failed bomb attack of a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day, the US president this week announced two new fronts in the war on terror, faithfully echoed by Gordon Brown: Yemen, where the would-be bomber was allegedly trained; and Somalia, where al-Qaida has also put down roots in the swamp of chronic civil war and social disintegration.

Greater western military intervention in both countries will certainly make the problem worse. In Somalia, it has already done so, after the US-backed Ethiopian invasion of 2006 overthrew the relatively pragmatic Islamic Courts Union and spawned the more extreme, al-Qaida-linked Shabab movement, now in control of large parts of the country. Increased US backing for the unpopular Yemeni government, already facing armed rebellion in the north and the threat of secession from the restive south – which only finally succeeded in forcing out British colonial rule in 1967 – is bound to throw petrol on the flames.

The British prime minister tried this week to claim that the growth of al-Qaida in Yemen and Somalia showed western strategy was “working”, because the escalation of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan had forced it to look for sanctuaries elsewhere. In reality, it is a measure of the grotesque failure of the entire war on terror. Since its launch in October 2001, al-Qaida has spread from the mountains of Afghanistan across the region, to Iraq, Pakistan, the horn of Africa, and far beyond.

Instead of scaling down the western support for dictatorship and occupation that fuels al-Qaida-style terror, and concentrating resources on police action to counter it, the US and its allies have been drawn inexorably into repeating and extending the monstrosities that sparked it in the first place. It’s the recipe for a war on terror without end.

Joti Brar quoted in Daily Star (Lebanon)

Viva Palestina campaign sees 86 aid vehicles destined for Gaza

By Richard Hall

Via the Daily Star

BEIRUT: It was a typically cold London day in January earlier this year when, in front of thousands of people demonstrating against the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, British MP George Galloway announced a convoy of aid would be travelling from London to Gaza under the banner “Viva Palestina.”

Almost a year later and after two successful convoys, 86 vehicles of all shapes and sizes are currently making their way through Turkey, hoping to deliver humanitarian aid to the population of the Gaza Strip.

The first Viva Palestina convoy made the journey in March this year, travelling by land to Italy where it crossed the Mediterranean by ferry to Greece. From there it made its way through Turkey, Syria, Jordan, finally entering Gaza at the Rafah border crossing in Egypt. The current convoy, dubbed “Return to Gaza,” will take the same route. The second convoy from the United States departed on July 4 this year, flying into Cairo before also crossing in Rafah.

Viva Palestina organizers aim to highlight the blockade’s damaging effect, while delivering much-needed aid to Gazans.

“The people of Gaza are dying because of a siege imposed for no other reason than that, in a free and fair election, they voted for a party that the big powers and the Israelis didn’t like. We think that’s immoral, so if our government will not do something about it, we will,” Galloway told The Daily Star.

Following the election of Hamas in 2006, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza. Only basic humanitarian supplies were allowed to enter the territory, causing a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the words of commissioner general of UNRWA, Karen Abu Zayd.

This blockade was tightened following the Israeli invasion in December last year.

The convoy aims to cross into Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt on December 27, the one year anniversary of “Operation Cast Lead.” The Israeli military operation, which began with air strikes, caused the death of over 1,400 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians, and 13 Israelis, including three civilians.

Approximately 260 members of the British public departed with the convoy on December 3, among the volunteers are hairdressers, mechanics, chefs, unemployed and retired, with many more joining along the way.

“We stayed in our cars and tents in car parks, we had a night on a boat and we slept in a sports stadium, who knows where we will stay next,” said Joti Brar, a web producer from the United Kingdom taking part in the convoy.

Joti, who decided to take part in the convoy at the last minute, says she was surprised at the generosity of the general public when fundraising for her trip.

“It wasn’t only the amount people were giving, what amazed me was the kind of people who were willing to give – non-political people, people who you would never expect. I think a lot of people in Britain have been touched by what happened to the Palestinians, and are very pleased to know they can do something,” she said.

Joti’s own reason for getting involved was that the Palestinians “are victims of an unjust situation that isn’t of their making,” a sentiment she says is shared among other volunteers on the convoy.

Organizers say the name “Viva Palestina” was inspired by the British “Aid to Spain” movement of the 1930s, where labor organizations sent medical supplies and personnel to Republicans fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

All those taking part have spent the past few weeks fundraising for the voyage, relying on donations from well-wishers to pay for the supplies they have taken with them.

“We brought all sorts of things, mostly medicine and medical supplies. Then there’s blankets, clothes, toys for children, pens and pencils. We have brought as much as we can fit into the vehicles. Hopefully what we’ve brought is things that are useful,” said Joti.

Organizers have emphasized that, more than just delivering supplies, the convoy aims to show solidarity with the people of Gaza. On the day of its departure, Galloway spoke of the convoy’s “symbolic” and “totemic” value, designed to “inspire public opinion to demand an end to the siege.”

However, it is not only public opinion the convoy aims to inspire, says Galloway, but those taking part.

“The chances are that the people taking part have a life changing experience. They go to the Gaza Strip, they see the situation, and they are determined to come back. That is what happened to me. In 1977 I visited Lebanon for the first time, I went to the Palestinian camps there and 35 years later I’m still involved.”

There are worries among volunteers as to whether the Egyptian government will allow the convoy to pass into Gaza.

Both previous convoys faced problems entering the territory, with the US contingent having to wait 10 days before being allowed to enter.

Organizers and participants alike say they will not return home until they are given permission to deliver the aid.

“We will stay at the border until we are allowed in. The fact that we have come this far shows we are committed,” insisted Brar.

Galloway echoed that sentiment, urging the Egyptian government to allow them entry.

“I hope they have no problems. I think it would be a big mistake for the Egyptian government to divert attention from where it should be: on Israel, on the anniversary of its infamous attacks on the Gaza Strip. Who knows, but one lives in hope.”

As the third Viva Palestina convoy nears its destination, plans are already afoot for several more.

“Next year we will bring a Viva Palestina Hugo Chavez convoy from Venezuela, maybe one from Iran which we are currently discussing. And people from other countries such as Australia and South Africa are also asking if they can get involved,” said Galloway, adding that the convoy may also travel to Lebanon.

“If we can save a day in Turkey and a day in Syria, then we may try and send the convoy for one day into Lebanon and then back out again into Syria.”

Joti Brar joins Viva Palestina convoy

CPGB-ML member Joti Brar has joined the Viva Palestina aid convoy to Gaza. You can read details on her site: http://joti2gaza.org/.

Joti is also on Twitter: https://twitter.com/joti2gaza

If you would like to make a donation, please do so here: http://joti2gaza.org/donate/

Housmans Press Release: Radical booksellers take on Amazon

Fifty years ago, in the aftermath of World War Two, a group of pacifists opened Housmans radical bookshop at its current address at 5 Caledonian Road, in London’s Kings’ Cross. Ever since, Housmans has worked hard to continue its mission of promoting ideas of peace, human rights and a more equitable economy by which future wars, and all their inherent suffering, might be avoided. At a time when independent bookshops are closing down left, right and centre, it is reassuring that Housmans is still holding its corner.

The biggest threat to independent bookshops has been the rise to dominance of the online bookseller Amazon.com. Amazon has achieved an unrivalled supremacy over the marketplace, but this near-monopoly wasn’t achieved without the usual unethical practices that are so common to the world’s biggest corporations.

What is wrong with using Amazon?

In 2001 the Guardian first reported on the poor working conditions in Amazon’s warehouses, and nothing much has changed since. In December 2008, a Sunday Times reporter went undercover to their Marston Gate warehouse near Milton Keynes and discovered that staff were required to work seven days a week and were punished for taking sick leave, even if they had a note from their doctor. According to Unite the Union, Amazon continues not to see trade union representation as illegitimate.

But it’s not just Amazon workers who suffer at the hands of the multi-national corporation. Publishers are also squeezed for every penny, as Amazon forces them to supply them at rates so low that it leaves authors and publishers out of pocket – particularly damaging smaller publishing houses. Amazon’s dominance of the market means that publishers have little choice but to comply with their demands. Aside from the ethical considerations, this effects readers in reduced output from small presses, and diminished availability of radical titles.

Providing an ethical alternative

And so into this arena steps Housmans Bookshop. Housmans, in conjunction with Gardners Books, has just launched its own online bookshop to rival Amazon. Although still prioritising their stock of radical interest and progressive politics, the site is also able to provide around half a million general titles.

“Many of our most politically conscious colleagues use Amazon, and when asked why, it’s because they know of no alternative. But now, wherever they live, people will be able to support independent and progressive bookselling from the comfort of their own home. I think it’s essential that we are able to provide an alternative to help dent Amazon’s monopoly,” explains co-manager Nik Gorecki. “It’s up to sympathetic book buyers to do the right thing, and buy their books elsewhere.”

“This year Housmans celebrates fifty years of trading from our Caledonian Road address, but in order for us to be here another fifty years we have to stand up for ourselves, and trust in ethically-minded book-buyers to support independents. The staff at Housmans has fought many battles over the years for causes we believe in, and this is one battle we can’t afford to lose. Please support the shop that supports your campaigns!”

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For more information regarding this please contact Nik Gorecki on 07950 269 286 or alternatively by email: nik@housmans.com

Housmans Bookshop
5 Caledonian Road
King’s Cross
London N1 9DX
Tel: 020 7837 4473

www.housmans.com