By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.Edited by Walter Lippmann.
In light of the recent and ongoing military activities of the United States in Latin America and the Caribbean, there are increasing reasons to question the claim that --because of the crisis over Ukraine, Syria and the suspension of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians-- the region has lost importance in the imperial strategic design of the superpower.
U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has just visited Guatemala after participating in the Second Conference of Defense Ministers of North America which was held in Mexico.
Mexico's armed forces had been hosting the "Chimaltlalli 2014," international competition, a military training contest for cadets of the United States, Brazil, Colombia, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico held on the premises of the Heroico Colegio Militar de México.
With advice from the U.S. Southern Command, special force units of the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Forces held an air and sea military simulation assault exercise on the supposed headquarters of a drug lord. It was announced that this exercise was part of a larger month-long training exercise designed to strengthen the response capability of the local authorities against terrorist activities.
The "Bravo" joint assault force of the Southern Command, based in Honduras, along with the U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group, executed a very peculiar training session at Lake Yojoa. While the helicopter pilots practiced their overwater operations exercising their capacity to operate at low altitude, the members of the strike force practiced jumping from helicopters at a height of ten feet above water.
By JOSE MANZANEDA– CUBA INFORMACION, April 28th 2014
In the last two months 162 aggressions against Cuban doctors in Venezuela have been registered. A few days ago, the Venezuelan government gave a medal to two of these people, who were almost burnt alive during an opposition attack on a medical centre in Lara state (1).
These attacks are the result of a huge campaign against Cuba created by the private Venezuelan media – 80% of the media in Venezuela, and totally opposition (2). The campaign has then been broadened by ally international mass media. Over the last two months the message of the supposed Cuban interference in Venezuela has intensified (3). The almost daily publication of rumours, accusations without any basis, and testimonies – some quite insane (4) – of supposed ex intelligence agents (5) have lead many people to firmly believe that it is the Cuban government which makes the main political decisions in Venezuela, or that the Cuban doctors are in reality, agents or spies (6).
In Venezuela there are over 30,000 Cuban doctors (7). They treat around 11 million people, mainly in the working class barrios which, years ago, lacked the most basic health services. Even though the doctors were first deployed on a large scale in 2003 with the inauguration of the Mission Barrio Adentro, the first doctors had already arrived in 1999 as humanitarian personnel after the grave floods in Vargas state (8).
www.revolutionarycommunist.org Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 238 April/May 2014
On 9 March, Faribundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren was declared a narrow winner of the presidential election in El Salvador in a run-off against Norman Quijano of the deeply reactionary Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). Ceren’s majority was just 6,600; his victory came despite ARENA death squad intimidation in some communities, employers threatening those voting for the FMLN with dismissal and appeals by ARENA members for military intervention.
A bloody history
From the mid-1970s, the US funded successive Salvadorian governments to use every imaginable method to repress popular demands for basic economic and human rights. The FMLN was formed in response as a coalition of five armed workers’ and peasants’ organisations, to defend the poor and overthrow the US-managed gangster state. By 1989, US imperialism had realised that despite the horrific Carter-Reagan strategy of mass murder, which had accounted for the lives of 100,000 people, mostly the rural poor, its puppet governments could not defeat the FMLN coalition. So it supported negotiations for peace accords which were signed in 1992, ending the 12-year civil war. However this did not stop continued attacks of every type against the working class and small peasantry, and any political party or trend that supported the FMLN. The FMLN consequently struggled to establish itself as one party, but on 15 March 2009, the FMLN’s candidate Mauricio Funes won the presidential elections, and became the first FMLN president.
Juan Pablo Sáenz is an Ecuadorian attorney and representative of the Amazon Defense Coalition (ADC). In 2011 the ADC secured one of the largest judicial victories in environmental litigation history, which saw oil multinational Chevron ordered to pay $9.5 billion in damages for environmental, social and health impacts caused by the operations of Texaco (which Chevron now owns) in Ecuador from the 1960s onwards. Sáenz has received numerous death threats for his role in the ADC legal team.
As Chevron has now disposed of all its assets in Ecuador, the ADC is having to fight for the damages to be paid through courts in the US, Canada, Brazil and Argentina. In March this year the ADC suffered a further setback as a US district judge ruled that ‘corrupt means’ had been used to influence the Ecuadorian court decision. Chevron had utilised more than 60 law firms and 200 legal personnel to counter-sue the ADC team under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (RICO) Act, a law originally designed to deal with organised crime in the United States. If left unchallenged this legal precedent will open the way for corporations to use RICO to see off similar claims for damges in the future. In the meantime the ADC legal team are confident that they will be able to get the damages paid through the Canadian courts.
The introduction below was given at a recent Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! discussion forum in Newcastle following discussion with Colombian comrades from JUCO - Youth Communist Party of Colombia, at the World festival of Youth and Students in Quite, Ecuador in December 2013. It summarizes the history and highlights some key issues in the struggle for national liberation that has raged for decades in Colombia.
What resources does Colombia have? In 2010, the agricultural sector contributed 7 percent of GDP, accounting for almost $20 billion. there are immense plantations of bananas, sugar cane, rice, cotton, soybeans and sorghum, and large cattle farms that produce meat and dairy products.Coffee, Flowers, are also key exports. The production of tropical fruits, palm oil, timber, shrimp, palm hearts and asparagus is increasing rapidly, with significant export potential.The world’s largest open cast coal mine is located on the peninsula of La Guajira and produces nearly 32 million tons per year, making Colombia the world’s 10th largest coal producer. The two primary destinations for Colombian coal are the Netherlands and the United States.Colombia is the third-largest crude oil producer in South America, with an average 915,000 barrels/day in 2011. Exports of oil and derivatives reached $28 billion in 2011, with main destinations being the United States and the Caribbean. Colombia is the 7th largest supplier of crude oil to the U.S.
Private foreign investment has played a key role in the development of Colombia’s energy sector. The Government has promoted this participation through special incentives, including legal stability contracts and special tax deductions. No wonder there has been such a bloodthirsty battle over the control of these resources.
Promotion of Free Trade:
Colombia is an important market for America’s farmers and ranchers. In 2010, the United States exported $832 million of agricultural products to Colombia, the second highest export total in South America. President Uribe and his successor President Santos have been central to promoting free trade in Colombia, pushing many of the agreements.
The U.S.-Colombia trade agreements went into effect on May 15, 2012. immediately eliminated duties on almost 70 percent of U.S. farm exports including wheat, barley, soy-beans, flour, beef, bacon, peanuts, whey, cotton, and the vast majority of processed products.
The International Trade Commission (ITC) has estimated that the Agreement will expand exports of U.S. goods alone by more than $1.1 billion and will increase U.S. GDP by $2.5 billion. (this is from office of the US http://www.ustr.gov/uscolombiatpa/facts)
Group of Three (G-3) UK France ad Germany also have trade agreements with Colombia and signed a similar agreement with the European Union last summer. European Free trade association - EFTA commenced joint free trade negotiations with Colombia and Peru in 2007, which entered into force in 2011, the EFTA is – Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Iceland, Norway)
The effect of this Free Trade – flooding Colombian markets with cheap imports whilst brutally extracting primary resources at favourable prices.Colombian Sen. Jorge Robledo.. "Colombia used to be self-sufficient in food production, but now it is importing around 10 million tons of food" a year, he said. imports are 40 percent cheaper than items produced locally.
.An Oxfam report in 2011 estimates that the with the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement CTPA average income of 1.8 million grossly under-protected small farmers will fall by 16 percent.The study concludes that 400,000 farmers who now live below the minimum wage will see their incomes drop by up to 70 percent and will thus be forced out of their livelihoods.This economic backdrop is exacerbating the causes of the civil war that has raged for over 50 years. The imperialists and their lackeys in the Colombian government are ever more desperate to obliterate insurgency in Colombia and resistance by military means or negotiating them into a corner. The methods depend on the needs at the time, military destruction with proven support from the US is effective but bad for publicity, peace talks provide a cover in order to justify international trade agreements.
Brasilia, 31 March Presna Latina
The "More Doctors" Program will have about 13,235 health experts in April, to assist about 46 million Brazilians, the country's President Dilma Rousseff stated today.We are going to fulfill the objectives proposed almost one year ago, when we conceive the "More Doctors" program, to expand free health care throughout Brazil, Rousseff said in her usual Monday radio program Coffee with the President.
We have now 9,490 physicians distributed in 3,025 municipalities and 31 special indigenous districts, ensuring direct health care to 33 million citizens near their houses, the president stressed.
We will resolve with this the 80 percent of people's health problems, because doctors provide the first medical aid, reducing emergency
services at hospitals.Rousseff stated that recent researches confirm the positive results of this program, which includes national and foreign physicians.
The presence of Cuban physicians in Brazil was achieved after the signing in July of an agreement between the Pan-American health
Organization and authorities from this nation
HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 17 www.cubanews.ain.cu
Some 1 684 Cuban doctors made up the seventh medical contingent to offer services in Brazil, making it up for a total of 11 thousand 430 physicians as agreed to between Cuba and the Brazilian government as part of the program known More Doctors.
Nearly 100 percent of all those Cuban specialists have met internationalist missions in previous occasions, according to Granma newspaper.
During a ceremony with the doctors on Sunday, Cuban Health Minister Roberto Morales said that the professionals have expressed their commitment to their mission, since most of them had just finished their work in Venezuela.
Brazilian health official Angela Cristina Pistelli, who is advisor to the cabinet of the Labor and Education Secretariat at Brazil's Health Ministry stressed the importance of the Cuban mission , which has the support of over 80 percent of the Brazilian people.
The ceremony was attended by the general secretary of the Cuban Workers' Confederation Ulises Guilarte and deputy health minister Marcia Cobas, along Brazilian and Cuban health officials.
Call to action from CISPES - Wednesday 12 March 2014
It’s hard to believe that only two days have passed since the FMLN’s thrilling victory on Sunday night – so much has happened in the meantime. The right-wing is moving swiftly to derail the democratic process and stop Salvador Sanchez Ceren from being announced as president – we need your help.
Join us on Wednesday 5 March for a day of solidarity with the Venezuelan people who are under attack from US imperialism, private media agencies and Latin American right-wing extremists who distort the truth about what is happening in Venezuela.