Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Morales Claims Assassination Attempt By United States

Bolivia's Evo Morales claimed on Tuesday that the United States has been organizing teams to carry out an assassination attempt against him. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez first brought the issue to attention in a statement last week in which he said Venezuelan intelligence had discovered evidence of an attempt on Morales' life. "I've been informed recently how the U.S. had organized teams - groups to persecute Evo Morales, to kill Evo Morales. They haven't been able to and now we're organized, from unions to this political party and they can't stop us anymore," said Morales.

Murdering and deposing democratically elected Latin American leaders is nothing alien to American policy in the region. In 1973, the United States government sponsored the assassinations of Chilean General René Schneider and Chile's socialist President Salvador Allende. During the 1980's in Nicaragua, after the Sandinistas toppled the Somoza regime, Ronald Reagan illegally funneled money to a group that murdered several members of the government and thousands of civilians.

What prompted both of these anti-democratic terror campaigns? It was the American reaction to socialist economics in Latin America. In the case of Allende, the mining industry had been nationalized to the detriment of several United States corporations. Under the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the government redistributed land and nationalized natural resources. Today in Bolivia one sees a similar situation; Evo Morales announced on May 1st that he would be nationalizing Bolivia's hydrocarbon (natural gas) sector. American and European companies threatened to sue Bolivia and George W. Bush called his actions "anti-democratic". It's only logical to assume that the Bush Administration, with it's reverence for Reaganite foreign policy, will emulate past American policy by making attempts on the life of Morales and the stability of Bolivia's government. "These historical enemies, that privatized our natural resources, especially petroleum, are conspiring, not against Evo Morales but against the changes that we've started," Morales told reporters.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Canadian Union Calls for Boycott of Isreal

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Canada's most powerful union, voted overwhelmingly on on May 27th to support a campaign against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. CUPE's campaign will first focus on tearing down the "apartheid wall" that herds Palestinians into impoverished ghettos. The wall was deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in June of 2004, but as usual Israel ignored international law

CUPE will be using boycotts, strikes, and political pressure to stop Canadian compliance with Israeli terror. Katherine Nastovski, chairwoman of the CUPE Ontario International Solidarity Committee noted, “Boycott, divestment, and sanction worked to end apartheid in South Africa. We believe the same strategy will work to enforce the rights of Palestinian people, including the right of refugees to return to their homes and properties.” CUPE will work to end the free trade pact that Canada has with Israel, and specifically the import of Israeli wines, which are often produced in occupied territories.

The International Solidarity Movement has the full text of the resolution passed by The Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Humala Gains Support from Leftist Groups

Ollanta Humala, the socialist/nationalist Peruvian Presidential candidate, has lost his early momentum in recent weeks on news that Hugo Chavez may have been meddling in Peruvian politics. He has fallen behind former President Alan Garcia in the polls, but with the election looming, many leftist groups in Peru are throwing their weight behind Humala.

The Broad Leftwing Front (FAI) has endorsed Humala's Union por el Peru Party (UPP) for the June 4th elections. Humala and his UPP allies have already received support from unions, the poor, and indigenous Peruvians, but the FAI is an important part of a winning electoral coalition. In a statement the FAI said, "The FAI political organizations have decided to support Humala, in line with the popular will, with no other promise than to ensure fulfillment of the program and its comprehensiveness."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bangladeshi Workers Revolt

Bangladeshi workers set fire to at least seven textile factories on Tuesday after it was discovered that police had shot and killed a 20 year old man demonstrating for better pay and conditions. Over 100 textile workers were injured in the fight with police and private security guards. The riots began after factory managers ordered their guards to stop the peaceful demonstration for workers' rights.

Despite the fact that Bangladesh rakes in over $6billion each year from the textile industry, the average laborer in a textile mill makes as little as $22 per month. Workers are sometimes forced to work around the clock shifts and as many as seven days each week. The workers were asking for a 30% pay increase.

The government is siding with the wealthy garment and textiles executives and will be using its military force to quell the democratic uprisings. Junior Interior Minister Lutfuzzaman Babar told reporters, "The government will do whatever necessary for the protection of the garment industry."

Chavez Visits Bolivia

Hugo Chavez made visited Bolivia this week for the third time since Evo Morales was elected. Chavez and Morales signed a series of treaties regarding education, health care, and economic positions. Chavez has promised to invest nearly $2billion in Bolivia's economy, most notably $1.5billion in the natural gas sector. As part of the deal, Venezuela will send 200,000 barrels of oil into La Paz each month in exchange for soy oil. Bolivia will also be training workers involved in telecommunications and transportation to improve infrastructure between the two nations.

The two leftist leaders are also seeking to promote the People's Trade Agreement and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, alternatives to the U.S. sponsored Free Trade Agreement of the Americas.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Defending Democracy in Latin America

Ever since the nationalization of the hydrocarbon industry on May 1st, President Evo Morales and Bolivian democracy have suffered a barrage of attacks from the media and the ruling class. Echoing the cries of neo-liberal pundits in the Financial Times and The Economist, George Bush launched the latest round of slander against the Morales government this week. At an address to the National Restaurant Association, Bush responded to a question about Bolivia and Venezuela, "Let me just put it bluntly - I'm concerned about the erosion of democracy in the countries you mentioned. I am going to continue to remind our hemisphere that respect for property rights and human rights is essential for all countries in order for there to be prosperity and peace.'' (I would like to pose the question: What the hell is the President of the United States doing at the National Restaurant Association while our soldiers are dying in Iraq and the economy is in a tailspin?)

Bush's comments come at a time when democracy in Latin America is at a unprecedentedly high levels. The governments of Venezuela and Bolivia seem to be the only two nations in the world who have the best interests of their people even partially in mind. The leaders of both countries - Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales - have been elected by far wider margins than almost any American or European leader in memory. The nationalization of major industries for the benefit of the people is in contrast to the actions of America, Great Britain, and China which have been involved in the complete privatization of public services. Democracy is about putting the benefits of people over those of private interests. Leaders like Bush who enjoy approval ratings of less than 30% generally fail to grasp this concept.

Bush's warning against human rights and property rights violations are absurd - nearly comical - at best. America has a human rights history that would make even the most brutal of dictators blush. Whether it's the systematic extermination of the Palestinians, American support for Sadam Hussein, or the funding of terrorists, the United States has every conceivable violation on its resume. Admittedly, Hugo Chavez has had a few run-ins with issues of free speech, but his hands are far cleaner than any American President.

The President is also throwing stones in the metaphorical glass house of property rights. Last summer, the Supreme Court ruled against Susette Kelo in the case of Kelo v. New London Development Corporation. In a landmark decision, the court ruled that the federal government could use eminent domain to seize land for the use of private corporations. To quote Sandra Day O'Connor, "The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory." Both Chavez and Morales have respected the rights of small property owners, while only expropriating unused land belonging to the extremely wealthy.

What this all comes down to is the capitalist version of democracy coming in conflict with socialist democracy. The capitalists intend to use democracy as just another tool for creating profit, while socialists like Chavez and Morales seek to create societies in which profit serves people.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Bolivarian Revolution on 35mm

Director Oliver Stone and producer John Daly are in the process of creating a film based around the 2002 coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. They will be making an official announcement about the film at the Cannes Film Festival. ""They've asked for our permission to announce it today in Cannes, and we've told them yes, that we're interested in that film being made," said Chavez. The film will focus on the anti-Chavez coup attempt carried out by a group of military officers who were likely backed by the Bush Administration. Chavez was put back in power after hundreds of thousands of his supporters took to the streets in protest of the anti-democratic coup.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

This Anti-Imperialist Thing Isn't Over

The corporate media is on the war path against Latin American leftists, and they're willing to use any weapons in the war against socialism. Newsweek's weapon of choice is lies and half-truths, as is displayed in Ruchir Sharma's column entitled This Chavez Thing Is Over. What Sharma and his corporate allies fail to recognize is that this "Chavez thing" isn't about Hugo Chavez at all - it's about liberating Latin America from the grip of multinational corporations and empowering them to determine their own destinies. Sharma's thesis rests on two fallacious planks: the ideas that the leftward tilt of Latin America is a new phenomenon and that this radical shift is over.

The column begins with a passionate denunciation of the nationalization of natural resources by Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales, and then claims that this economic restructuring isn't indicative of Latin American leftism. This is far from the truth; the socialist economic measures of both Bolivia and Venezuela have been hailed by their populations. Morales and Chavez have both had consistent approval ratings topping 80%. Both leaders are following the will of their people; Morales' nationalization of the hydrocarbon industry was the result of a 2004 referendum in which 95% of Bolivians voted in favor of nationalization. Bolivia's program hasn't been in effect long enough to see the benefits, but Venezuela's state controlled oil industry has reaped huge profits. These profits translate directly into social programs and poverty relief for the average Venezuelan, including programs stressing literacy and public health. Nationalization won't end with Bolivia and Venezuela; Daniel Ortega and Ollanta Humala, running for the presidencies of Nicaragua and Peru respectively, both promise to implement similar plans.

Of course, the concept that this trend towards socialist and radical economies is newfound is absurd. The Latin American socialist saga, and subsequent U.S. repression, began in 1951 with the election of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, who's successful redistribution of corporate land caused the United States to replace the Guatemalan government with a brutal military junta. In 1971, Chile's Salvador Allende nationalized the mining industry and used the revenues to pay for education and food. Allende's plan would have come to full fruition had the United States not backed Augusto Pinochet's overthrow of the Chilean government. Ronald Reagan continued the war against the economic rights of sovereign nations throughout the 1980's by waging a terrorist campaign against the leftist Sandinista Government in Nicaragua. For the past ten years or so, the United States has managed to keep a lid on Latin America's socialist heritage, but the elections of Chavez, Morales, and their kin indicate that we can't keep the lid on people's liberation any longer.

Ruchir Sharma's anti-nationalization hypothesis is clearly not derived from any political reality, but rather from a desire to keep poor Latin Americans in economic shackles so that American corporations can expand their markets and resources. This "Chavez Thing" isn't over, it's only beginning.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Affordable Oil for Africa

Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, is notorious for using oil as a tool to garner support domestically and internationally. After Hurricane Katrina he offered to send discount oil to America's ghettos and poor communities. Late last year, he provided Harlem with affordable oil to heat homes. In April, Chavez made deals with leftist politicians in Nicaragua and El Salvador to provide their impoverished areas with cheap petrol. In talk with Libya's Muammar Gaddafi today, Chavez outlined a plan to help the poorest region on earth: Africa.

Chavez says that he will partner with oil-rich Libya in order to provide much needed petrol to African nations. The two nations will also be working with Cuban medical crews to provide health services to Africans. "Cuba will provide the medical crews, while Libya and Venezuela will support these crews and hospitals financially," said Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalqam. This program, dubbed the "Miracle Mission", has been extremely popular and successful in a number of Latin American nations.

Subcomandante Marcos Talks: Part III

The final installment of Zapatista leader Subcomadante Marco's conversation with La Journada is featured at NarcosNews. Here are a few highlights:

"There are some basic definitions of the left. One definition refers to the economic system. Then there’s the cultural left, against chauvinism, misogyny, homophobia. The political left has to be defined in relationship to the economic system, and it has to be anti-capitalist; it has to define itself fundamentally in terms of holding the system responsible, not just an administration. The Other Campaign locates itself in the anti-capitalist left, and doesn’t go farther than that. That’s why the Other Campaign talks about rebellion, and not about revolution."

"This is the Other Mexico that we are going to unite. All of that mobilization is happening outside of the political parties, because now it’s neither the Democrats nor the Republicans up there; there’s no party for them to go to. And that is part of the political crisis happening all over the world, and in order for those movements to survive there, as they are, with their latino identity, and not just Mexicans, they are also reaching that point of saying, we have to do something. And none of the organizers, none of the convokers, expected this level of participation. Things are happening that the political columnists don’t find in their textbooks, that don’t have anything to do with the traditional balances of power. No one was paying attention to what’s happening down below, no one noticed that, down below, there is a process that doesn’t depend on what is happening up above with the political parties or with the ruling class."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Chavez: Socialism the Solution to Barbarism

Hugo Chavez, the widely popular and democratically elected President, proclaimed on Sunday that, "socialism is the only way to thwart barbarism." Chavez blamed capitalism and it's ideological counterparts for violence and conflict over the last few centuries, and said that socialism is the only remedy to this dangerous path. The Venezuelan firebrand made his statements at a pro-Venezuela meeting in London with British officials including London mayor Ken Livingston. Chavez continued saying, "We are faced with global challenges stemming from the genocidal, immoral, sick, and corrupt elite currently governing the United States, which appear to have no limits.”

Chavez went on to condemn the United States actions in the Middle East, especially its recent aggression towards Iran, "The outcome of such an aggression is unknown, but the Empire is going to find itself in a worse position than the one they have currently in Iraq, where they do not know what to do with the civil war that has erupted there and can’t find a way out.” He also criticized the American government for accusing others of terrorism while harboring terrorists of our own, "There they have the worst terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles, who is benefiting from US government protection, after having escaped from a Venezuelan prison 20 years ago, [awaiting trial] for his involvement in the bombing of a Cuban airliner."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Carnival of Socialism

Welcome to the 2nd edition of the Carnival of Socialism! Unfortunately, we didn't get as many submissions as we had hoped for, but we found some posts of interest for you all nonetheless. Also, thanks again to Benjamin Solah, who published last week's edition. With that said, let's begin:

-Andrew Rihn expresses his disenchantment with capitalist politics in the form of a poem entitled Dislocate.

-The Starry Plough of the Irish Socialist Republicans remembers the great freedom fighter James Connolly. Connolly led the Dublin Brigade in the 1916 uprising against British Imperialism in Ireland. He was later executed by British soldiers for his involvement, but as the Starry Plough notes, "The job was left unfinished in 1916. The task now falls upon our shoulders. Armed with the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky - and Connolly - we shall not fail!"

-ReasonInRevolt of Fruits of Our Labor recounts his May Day 2006 experience and has a great series of photos from a pro-immigration rally in Ithaca.

-Reasons To be Impossible gives a damning critique of Tory/capitalist politics in Great Britain. To quote RTBI, "we must never underestimate the persistant, consistant, clear and conscious support that so many people give to the main parties and capitalism, we cannot simply brush it aside as false consciousness."

-The Fluffy Economist waxes philosophical on the United States failed attempts to spread top-down democracy around the world.

-Lenin's Tomb attacks the bourgeois fairy-tale that claims, "capitalism is simply the fullest augmentation, the completest development of commercial society. "

-The Sharpener discusses the Respect Coalition's efforts to bring socialism and equality to Great Britain in the horrid New Labour era.

That's it for the second edition of the Carnival of Socialism. Thanks to John Angliss for organizing this effort to spread the word. For more information visit the Carnival of Socialism website.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ending Exploitation

Evo Morales, the socialist President of Bolivia, defended the country's move towards nationalizing major industries at an economic forum in Europe today. Morales has come under great scrutiny for his decision on May 1st to nationalize Bolivia's hydrocarbon industry in order to use the profits for social programs. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has implemented a similar system with the oil industry.

Morales told reporters, "For more than 500 years our natural resources have been pillaged and our primary goods exported. This has to be ended now.” Spain’s Repsol, Britain’s BG Group, and France’s Total will all be compensated for the assets that are being seized by the Bolivian government, but Morales sees no reason to compensate for lost profits since these companies have so richly benefited from hydrocarbons in Bolivia.

Morales and Chavez have attracted criticism from more conservative Latin American leaders, most notably Vicente Fox of Mexico. "Mexico’s position is totally clear, we will strive for greater integration at all levels -- for opening of markets, fair trade, stronger consumer potential that at the same time creates new jobs,” says the Mexican President. Fox has little foundation for criticizing leftist leaders in Latin America, as he has overseen years of oppression and economic collapse in Mexico. Fox may talk a good game by ostensibly endorsing "fair trade", but his support of NAFTA undercuts any credibility he can muster. NAFTA has allowed American corporations to exploit cheap labor, natural resources, and poor citizens in Mexico. Fox is a former executive of Coca-Cola, which has benefited from NAFTA at the expense of Latin Americans. Many have labeled Fox the hispanic Uncle Tom for bowing to Coke and other imperialist companies.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

AP Manipulates Chavez Facts

Whether by poor translation or Machiavellian manipulation, the media got the facts wrong in regards to Hugo Chavez's term limit referendum. Christopher Toothtaker of the Associated Press filed a report on May 6th stating, "Hugo Chavez said Saturday that Venezuelan voters should have the chance to decide whether he should govern the country for the next 25 years." The article goes on to imply that Chavez is seeking to be a elected for a single 25 year term, when the reality is quite different. Chavez proposed to alter the Venezuelan Constitution so that Presidents can serve for more than one six year term. In other words, Chavez would be able to run for President every six years as many times as he chooses, but still have to face reelections and democratic checks on power.

Some believe that the AP has poor Spanish-to-English translators and that the original story simply got tripped up semantically. This is somewhat unlikely, as even a Google Translation of the El Universal says, "President Hugo Chavez reaffirmed today that he could decree referendo to allow his re-election by several periods until 2031." Mr. Toothtaker and the other major news agencies that were involved of the manipulation of this story should issue public apologies and clarifications. I, for one, feel a bit silly since I bought into their lies.

Rare Interview with Subcomandante Marcos

Leader of the Zapatista National Liberation Front (EZLN), Subcomandante Marcos, gave a rare interview to the Mexican channel Televisa earlier this week. Marcos, also known as Delegate Zero, criticized leftist Presidential candidate Lopez Obrador for being a sell-out to the movement and for not offering real solutions to Mexico's problems. Marcos went on to call him simply "mediocre".

Marcos also denied any involvement with street violence in San Salvador Atenco over the past week. Chaos broke out in the city when a group of poor flower vendors were arrested and beaten after trying to set up shop on soon to be Walmart property. The people of Atenco responded by setting up blockades on highways and demonstrating in the streets. Police reacted to protest by arresting 400 activists, raping at least 5 women, and killing a 14 year old boy. Marcos said the anti-government violence was the result of "people's fury" over years of neglect and repression. He also went on to say that the Zapatistas have a peaceful mission in Atenco and that they will use their legal power to have the political prisoners freed.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Indigenious Leaders Ally With Ortega

Brooklin Rivera, leader of the indigenous Nicaraguan Miskito, has endorsed Daniel Ortega of the socialist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) for the upcoming Presidential elections. Rivera says that since Ortega first fell from power in 1990, the current government has "kept us bogged down in abject poverty." The Miskito have long been subjected to colonial aggression, whether it was the Spanish empire or the U.S. backed Contra terrorists.

In a new plan signed between Rivera's Yatama tribe and the FSLN, Ortega promises to guarantee indigenous Nicaraguans "land, autonomy, and self development of the Atlantic Coast." Recently, indigenous populations have also been pivotal in the elections of other leftist Latin American leaders. Evo Morales is Bolivia's first indigenous leader, and in Peru, Ollanta Humala is slated to make a similar achievement in the May elections.

Subcomandante Marcos Speaks Out

After days of fighting in San Salvador Atenco, leader of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), Subcomandante Marcos, has declared a Red Alert. He is urging the closure of Zapatista community centers and a myriad of other security measures. The uprising began in Mexico after police brutally attacked a group of poor flower vendors who were setting up shop on soon to be Walmart property. Protestors responded by blocking off highways and stopping business in Atenco. Thus far, hundreds have been arrested, 5 women raped, and on 14 year old boy murdered by police. The EZLN has vowed to fight for the rights of workers and indigenous peoples inside Atenco and throughout Mexico. Here is Subcomandante Marcos' speech

Companeros and companeras,

A few moments ago we were watching and listening to the media and the manipulation of what was happening, the informational manipulation about what was occurring [in Atenco]. We listened to the commentators on Television Azteca imploring that law be restored, that the military enter to restore order and end what was taking place there. We also listened to the indignation of the viewers who sent letters to the station stating that the commentators pleading for greater public force were idiots.

Years ago here, in the Plaza of Three Cultures [Tlatelolco] there was a massacre and in response to this the government claimed that the army had been attacked. And much time passed until someone asked what the army had been doing at a student meeting in the first place. And now over those same means of communication, including radio, it does not occur to reporters to ask what the public forces were doing in San Salvador Atenco.

And what they were doing there was enforcing this alliance that was made between the PRD and the PRI in order to oust a few flower vendors because the municipal president of Texcoco thinks they deface the city; because he wants to put a shopping center there, a Wal-Mart in Texcoco and the small merchants bother him and because the PRD aligned there with the PRI at the state level and with the PAN at the national level, and now they will have to be accountable for this death.

As the 6th Commission of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, signatory to the Other Campaign, we are asking, soliciting respectfully the regional and sub-regional coordinators throughout the entire country to execute actions and mobilizations in support of the Frente de Los Pueblos en Defensa de La Tierra [Salvador Atenco] beginning at 0800, eight in the morning tomorrow, the fourth of May, 2006.

As the Sixth Commission we are declaring a red alert. The troops of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation have already been declared under red alert and from that point onwards the Caracoles and Autonomous Zapatista Rebel Municipalities will be closed. Beginning at that moment, from that moment on, the new chain of command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation will be in place. Whatever may happen to me, there is now someone else in place to make decisions. We don’t know about everyone else, but today, we, the Zapatistas, are Atenco!

We are going to be attentive to their demands. We call for the holding of meetings by sector, by region, as you all see fit. As the Sixth Commission we are canceling all of our participation in programmed activities and we are waiting for the cue from the Frente de Los Pueblos en Defensa de La Tierra. If it needs our presence there, we will go there. If not, we will participate directly in the actions that you all program tomorrow beginning at 0800, eight in the morning.

Close the highways, close the streets, fly, paint, whatever occurs to you, in a civil and peaceful manner. Atenco cannot be left all to itself. We will not cease these actions and this situation until the companeros of the Frente de Los Pueblos en Defensa de La Tierra indicate so to us.

We are not going to pay attention to any piece of information that doesn’t arrive directly from them. For us, they, those who comprise the Frente de Los Pueblos en Defensa de La Tierra are the Other campaign in those lands. We will respect their decisions. We will go wherever they tell us to go. They have been clear in their demands: immediate liberation of those detained and total withdrawal of the government forces that are invading their lands.

This is our message companeros and companeras. Not only for the Other Campaign in this Other Mexico, in this Other Mexico City that is rising up. It is our message to the Other Campaign in the entire country. From Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Campeche, until the two Baja Californias, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon. From the north to the south, from the east to the west so that the Other Campaign echoes in Atenco and let there be justice for those that have fallen! Thank you companeros, thank you companeras.”

Monday, May 08, 2006

Ortega Warns of Social Outbreak

Daniel Ortega, Presidential Candidate for the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), today said that the repression of medical unions in Nicaragua may cause a "social outbreak". Ortega's comments come after the Medical Federation last week began protesting abnormally low wages for doctors and nurses in Nicaragua, which run between $200 to $500 a month. When Physicians peacefully occupied the Finance Ministry last week to demand higher pay and better benefits last week, police were sent in to stop the protest. Twenty demonstrators were wounded and 88 others arrested. Elio Artola of the Medical Federation said that the union would go on general strike if doctors didn't receive a 30% pay increase.

Ortega, who was instrumental in toppling the Somoza dictatorship in 1979, said that the strike busting represented a great overstep of Presidential power, as the police were carrying out the work of the executive branch. "The Nicaraguan government is the only responsible for such regrettable, reprehensible events," said the FSLN leader. The Sandinistas will be using their legal and political influence to free the political prisoners being held by the Nicaraguan government. This ordeal is likely to boost support for Ortega in the upcoming elections.

In light of yesterday's news that Hugo Chavez will be pushing for a 25 year term as Venezuela's President, Ortega gives us great hope as a truly democratic leader in Latin America. After crushing the Somoza Dynasty in 1979, the Sandinistas held free and internationally certified elections in which Daniel Ortega was a decisive winner. In 1990, when Ortega was voted out of office he respectfully stepped down as Nicaragua's Head of State, and allowed for a peaceful transition of democratic power. Ortega had the military might needed to stay in power had he wanted to, but he respected the will his people. Chavez needs to rethink his 25 year term limit proposal and take a page from the Sandinista handbook.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

EZLN Declares "Red Alert"

The Mexican government has unleashed another wave of violence and repression against supporters of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). This past week, Mexican police arrested several pro-Zapatista journalists working for during a immigrants rights protest on May Day. On May 3rd, after a group of poor flower vendors set up stands in a market in Texcoco, police beat and arrested seven of them. The citizens of San Salvador Atenco, a historically autonomous and leftist city, responded to the brutality by blocking off the highways surrounding the city. Vicente Fox sent in more than 3,000 soldiers and police to Atenco, who have now arrested at least 400 protesters. Besides arresting dissenters, police have also been involved in the rape of five women and the murder of a 14 year old boy in Atenco.

Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos has called for EZLN supporters to flock to Atenco to support workers' rights and political prisoners there. Marcos himself has focused his efforts on freeing Atenco and the political prisoners being held there. "You are not alone," Marcos said, "We will continue carrying out mobilizations across the country until all the political prisoners are freed."

Trouble in the Bolivarian Revolution

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made an troubling announcement today; he plans to propose a new law that would allow him a 25 year term as President. Chavez is best know for the economic progress he has sparked by nationalizing the oil industry and implementing robust social programs that provide the poor with food, education, and medicine. Unfortunately, the man who many on the Left had put so must hope in has trampled on the spirit of the Bolivarian Revolution he claims to support. In a speech to supporters in Caracas, Chavez said, "I am going to ask you, all the people, if you agree with Chavez being president until 2031."

Chavez's pronouncement is causing outrage throughout the libertarian left, who believe that any socialist economy requires a democratic political system. We can only hope that the Venezuelan people see through Chavez's political power grab and reject his nullification of term limits. The Bolivarian Revolution is not about Hugo Chavez, it's about the people of Venezuela and their economic and social rights. They don't need leaders like Chavez to stop American imperialism in Latin America, that can be done through organized resistance like that we see in Mexico.

While criticizing Chavez, we must be careful not to endorse U.S. intervention in the region, as that will inevitably make the situation even worse. If Venezuelans want Chavez to be President until 2031, they have that right, it's not for anyone in America or Europe to decide. Instead of supporting Chavez, American radicals must show solidarity with Latin American workers.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Fear of Democracy

Until recently, most American politicos dismissed Latin American leftists as a minor political force with little consequence on the course of current events. Look at the front page of today's Financial Times and one can see that the corporate class is finally waking up to the realities of democracy in Latin America.

For decades, American and European companies dictated foreign policy towards Latin America. When United Fruit wanted more bananas, we toppled the democratically elected socialist government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatamala. But honestly, what's democracy without phallic yellow fruit? In 1973, Richard Nixon's Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, overthrew Chile's socialist democracy and instituted a brutal fascist regime under Augusto Pinochet. Kissinger is noted as saying to Nixon, "I don't see why a country should be allowed to go Communist through the irresponsibility of its own people." The trend continued into the 1980's, when the CIA backed the Contras, a murderous group of druglords and thugs, in order to topple the democratically elected Sandinista government.

With the resurgence of democracy and revolutionary politics in Latin America after years of repression, many in America are realizing that democracy in the region means an end to United States neo-liberal imperialism. This backlash against American colonialism is no more apparent than in Bolivia's nationalization of its natural gas industry. As we recounted yesterday, Bolivians have been at the frontlines of the war against the privatization of public resources, and as a result they are using their newfound democratic powers to seize the profits away from the hands of capitalist exploiters.

Multinational corporations, which have exploited the vast natural resources of Latin America for decades, are naturally afraid. They are using all their media prowess and economic might to crush the democratic institutions that Latin America is finally obtaining. In the Financial Times and a myriad of other news sources, so-called journalists are accusing Evo Morales of being a dictator, despite the fact that not only was he elected with 54% of the vote, but that he retains an 80% approval rating amongst Bolivians. The plans of Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez, and others to nationalize major industries is indeed one of the most democratic steps any government has taken in years. In claiming that Morales' acquisition of hydrocarbons in Bolivia is authoritarian, the media is not only slandering Morales, but also the Bolivian people, of whom 95% voted to nationalize natural resources in a 2004 referendum.

It all comes full circle, and American corporations are getting the short end of the karmic stick. They should probably consider that before they draft plans to overthrow anymore more Latin American democracies.

Media Repression in Mexico

On May 1st, as millions marched in the streets demanding fair treatment for workers and immigrants around the world, the Mexican government didn't fail to continue its repression of liberation movements. During what was dubbed "The Other May 1st", thousands poured on to the streets Oaxaca to support the Zapatista movement led by Subcomandante Marcos and the EZLN's campaign for indigenous rights. The Mexican Special Operations Police Unit arrested seven marchers, including the two pro-Zapatista journalists Dulce Estrella Santamaría Robles and James Daria. Both of them are affiliated with NarcoNews, one of the best independent sources of Latin American news. Of the five others arrested two were anarchists from the Somos Resistencia collective, and the other three were recording audio and video of the event. NarcoNews calls the arrests and intimidation of pro-Zapatista journalists "part of a process of criminalization of the Other Campaign on the part of government and police authorities."

We call upon all adherents to the Other Campaign and the Sixth Declaration for solidarity, upon all social fighters of conscience to support us in our demand for the immediate release of our seven arbitrarily detained comrades. We call upon you to keep watch for what might happen, as our foreign compañeros could be expelled from the country, and the rest forced to pay large fines.

-Narco News

Visit NarcoNews to find out how you can help these political prisoners!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Morales Nationalizes Natural Gas Industry

Evo Morales, socialist President of Bolivia, today followed in the footsteps of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez by nationalizing the country's natural gas resources. Morales will use the revenue to benefit Bolivia's impoverished citizens.

Bolivia has a long and difficult history with the privatization of natural resources. During the 1990's, conservative leaders ignored the outcries of Bolivia's poor and privatized the hydrocarbon industry, which effectively gave multinational gas giants such as British Gas and Respol free reign over Bolivia's economic future and diverted billions out of the hands of the masses.

In 1999 the World Bank coerced Bolivia's leadership into giving American corporation Bechtel a 40 year lease to all the water - even rainwater - in Cochabamba, Bolivia's third largest city. Water privatization tripled the water bills of 500,000 Bolivians to nearly one third of their monthly income. Protests ensued, and President Hugo Banzer was forced to backdown on the deal and deprivatize the water industry. Under Morales, Bolivia's Attorney General has even gone so far as to file charges against the former Presidents involved in privatizing Bolivian resources.

"The time has come, the awaited day, a historic day in which Bolivia retakes absolute control of our natural resources." - Evo Morales, May 1st, 2006

In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez has harnessed the profits of the nationalized oil company, PDVSA, to provide everything from food to education to the poor. Morales has taken the first step to alleviating rampant poverty in Bolivia, and the trend is likely to continue in other Latin American nations as the proletariat react to western corporate imperialism.

International Workers' Day

On May 1st, 1884 the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions gave the United States government an ultimatum: an eight hour work day for all American workers by May 1st, 1886. When corporate and government leaders failed to listen to the masses, labor leaders called for a general strike. The strike soon escalated into riots in Chicago and other major cities. After the Chicago police murdered two innocent strikers from the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company on their own picket line, a group of anarchists called for a pro-worker rally at Haymarket Square to be held on May 4th, 1886. August Spies, a leader of the Chicago anarchist movement, spoke to the crowd that gathered at Haymarket and encouraged them to stand up for their rights. Police soon broke up the peaceful rally, but the workers fought back in the name of free speech.

"The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today." - August Spies

The courts prosecuted 8 individuals in connection with the violence at Haymarket Square and the killing of 7 policemen, despite the fact that the government had no evidence against the eight freedom fighters. Seven of them were condemned to death. On November 11th, 1887 four of them were hung before a public audience. August Spies, Albert Parsons, Adolph Fischer, and George Engel all sang "La Marseillaise", a revolutionary anthem, as they walked to the gallows.