August 27, 2016 - No. 33

Denounce the Intransigence of Canada Post!

Defend the Right of Postal Workers to a Say
on Their Working Conditions!

All Out to Establish an Anti-War Government!

No to War and Imperialist Divide and Rule in the Name of Peace!
- Enver Villamizar -

Trudeau Government Launches New Program to Meddle
in the Affairs of Other Countries
Canada Prowling For a Military Role in Africa

Colombia Peace Agreement
Congratulations on an Historic Achievement!
The Most Beautiful of All Battles
- Ivan Marquez, Head of the Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP -
Joint Communique #93 -- Government of the
Republic of Colombia and FARC-EP

Fora Temer!
Brazilians Vigorously Oppose Coup President During Rio Olympics

U.S. Imperialist Destabilization Attempts in El Salvador
Supreme Court Decisions Support Neo-Liberal and U.S. Interests
Unfolding Events Since the Signing of the Peace Accords
- Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front -
U.S. Senator's Outrageous Remarks Lead to Reopening of Investigation into FMLN Leader

Korean People's Opposition to U.S. War Preparations
Huge U.S.-South Korean War Exercises Underway
DPRK Permanent Representative to the UN Security Council
Opposes Aggressive "Ulji Freedom Guardian (UFG)" War Exercises

Week Five of Opposition to U.S. Missile Defence --
"Seongju Is Korea and Korea Is Seongju"

- Hyun Lee -

Denounce the Intransigence of Canada Post!

Defend the Right of Postal Workers to a Say on
Their Working Conditions!

On Thursday, August 25 the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) postponed a press conference and after an all-day meeting of its National Executive Board announced that it was issuing a 72-hour notice of strike action. In a bulletin to its members CUPW stated, "Based on Canada Post's refusal to agree to the 24-hour extension of our strike mandate, we have issued our 72-hour notice of strike activity. We will be in a legal strike position as of 11:59 pm Sunday, August 28, 2016. The NEB will inform everyone if, when and what strike activities will occur. Please monitor all communication channels so that you are informed."

CUPW had no choice but to issue the notice because the strike mandate from the membership expired at midnight on August 25, 2016. Without the mandate the union would not have been able to defend its members from attacks of the corporation such as threats of lockout and unilateral changes in working conditions and benefits. These are methods of intimidation which Canada Post has been using all along in these negotiations in order to force the workers and CUPW to accept severe rollbacks in working conditions and benefits. In reality no real negotiations have taken place since January of this year. Instead the corporation has used every delaying tactic it could to bring the negotiations period to an end so that it could use the threat of lockout to force the union to make concessions.

During the last round of negotiations in 2011, after a few days of rotating strikes, Canada Post locked out postal workers nationally and the Harper government used back-to-work legislation to impose a contract on the workers, which included a final offer selection process of arbitration which was heavily biased in favour of the corporation. CUPW challenged the legality of the federal legislation under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, claiming that the legislation violated the rights of workers to freedom of association and freedom of expression.

The court challenge was heard in October 2015 and, subsequently, in April 2016, Justice J. Firestone of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice rendered his decision, "Based on the evidentiary record there can be no question that, on the facts of this case, the Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act abrogated the right to strike of CUPW members." He went on at length to explain how the Act violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He said, "The Act abrogated the right to strike of CUPW members. The effect of this abrogation was to substantially interfere with -- and to disrupt the balance of -- a meaningful process of collective bargaining between CUPW and Canada Post. I find accordingly that the Act infringed the s.2(d) freedom of association of union members and must be justified under s.1 of the Charter." Justice Firestone further found that the Act was in fact not a "reasonable limitation" on rights and not justifiable under this section.

In this round of negotiations postal workers are faced with the same difficult situation: severe rollbacks and the corporation refusing to negotiate in good faith and using threats and intimidation to achieve their goal of further privatization and gutting what is left of the contract. This includes: precarious part-time and temporary employment, no improvements in staffing, and the ability to close all 493 protected CUPW staffed retail locations which would eliminate up to 1,200 full-time jobs. The attacks on retirement security continue with demands to increase the cost of retiree benefits and to change to a defined contribution pension plan for all new regular employees. It also includes demands to change the working conditions for all Urban employees. Canada Post's proposal on pay equity for Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMCs) was nothing more than an attempt to complicate and delay that process.

The union has participated in several meetings where representatives of the Trudeau government were involved in the discussions between the two parties. On Friday, August 19, Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board, along with senior officials from Employment and Social Development Canada met with CUPW negotiating Committee and Canada Post officials but no advance was made. Similarly CUPW negotiators were very disappointed with the results of a meeting on Tuesday, August 23, when the Minister of Labour and her officials attended a negotiations session.

Montreal postal workers demonstrate against back-to-work legislation, June 20, 2011.

Throughout the process of failed negotiations the Trudeau government has been pretending that it has no responsibility for what is going on. Prime Minister Trudeau has simply avoided the issue by making declarations about his belief in "good faith negotiations that happen around the bargaining table," and even declared that his government is "not considering back-to-work legislation."

But this pretense of being an innocent bystander cannot go on for much longer.

After all, the Prime Minister must recognize the fact that the Government of Canada is the sole shareholder of Canada Post Corporation and is ultimately responsible for the conduct of Canada Post officials.

When Canada Post threatened to lock out the workers in July and force them to work without a contract and under unilaterally imposed conditions, Trudeau did not say a word and left postal workers hanging out to dry. It is difficult to believe Trudeau when he says that he doesn't want to interfere in negotiations since it is his cabinet that initiated a mandate review in the middle of crucial negotiations. This mandate review is being used to float all kinds of unsubstantiated claims about the "dire financial situation of Canada Post."

The so-called consultation with Canadians is not to give anyone an opportunity to say what kind of Post Office we want but to present people with a fait accompli that because of the "financial crisis," people should decide which of their postal services they want eliminated.

In the coming days, postal workers and the Canadian people will be presented with another crisis -- the disruption of postal service from one end of the country to the other. This is the direct result of the intransigence of Canada Post and their refusal to respect the right of workers to negotiate their wages and working conditions. Solving this problem will be extremely difficult for the workers and their defence organization but it will be even more difficult if the workers go into this fight with illusions about the role of the Trudeau Liberals at this time.

To talk about "the rogue Chopra," and say that the "Harper appointees" are the main culprits in sabotaging negotiations is to create illusions about the role of the Trudeau cabinet. How does this type of discussion help postal workers get ready for the coming battle with the corporation and the government?

Does anyone seriously think that it will be easier for postal workers to negotiate with Treasury Board than Canada Post? The PSAC components who are fighting tooth and nail to save their sick leave benefits know that the Trudeau Liberals have not brought any "fresh air" into those negotiations.

Yes, Chopra, "the Harper appointee," is out to carve Canada Post into pieces and hand it over to the private sector. But this latest rush to privatization was initiated by Moya Greene who was appointed by the Paul Martin Liberal government. Postal workers know from bitter experience that so-called negotiations with Canada Post during this period have been disastrous regardless of which of the two parties were in power.

And who can ever forget that it was Pierre Elliott Trudeau Sr. who was responsible for the jailing of CUPW National President Jean-Claude Parrot, when he refused to direct postal workers to obey federal legislation and return to work.

As this latest struggle of postal workers for dignity and the right to have a say in their wages and working conditions reaches its most crucial stage, workers cannot have any illusions that those who are the source of the problems will somehow come to their rescue.

Our collective memory teaches us that workers must rely on their own strength, organization and determination in the fight to defend their rights.

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All Out to Establish an Anti-War Government!

No to War and Imperialist Divide and Rule
in the Name of Peace!

Demonstration in Ottawa, March 19, 2016 marks 13th anniversary of U.S. invasion of Iraq.

During the 2015 federal election, the Liberals' campaign tried to create the impression in the minds of Canadians that electing the Liberals meant that in international affairs, Canada would play a role for peace, rather than for war. However, since being elected, the Liberals have stepped up participation in U.S.-led war-making and war preparations.

Since the Trudeau Liberals have come to power there has been a constant stream of excited gossip in the media that soon, very soon, Canada will send soldiers to Africa. No one knows yet to which countries, the monopoly journalists say, but it could be Mali, or the Central African Republic, among other countries and this is very good because people speak French there. Supposedly these will be "peace operations" but now things have changed and "peacekeeping" also involves counterinsurgency and training military and police forces. People are told they should be very glad that finally there is an opportunity for Canada to take its place again on "the world stage."

Prime Minister Trudeau said in a statement on "National Peacekeepers Day," August 9, "Moving forward, we will increase Canada's support to United Nations peace operations..." The term "peace operation" is being used to fool people into believing that such interventions are to prevent or stop conflict. In fact "peace operation" is a blanket term increasingly being used to describe whatever those using it want it to mean. It has no objective basis in international law or international affairs and has become a catch-all phrase for any military operation which the aggressors say will create peace and/or stability. Intervening in a sovereign country with military forces as was done in Haiti after the U.S., Canadian and French-led coup d'etat in 2004 -- an operation that continues to this day -- is called a "peacekeeping operation" by those who wish to cover up that it is to facilitate imperialist regime change and suppress any resistance to it.

In this regard, the Liberals are also trying to resuscitate the same so-called 3D approach -- Defence, Diplomacy and Development -- unleashed on Afghanistan to conceal their aim and suppress any resistance to U.S. imperialist domination. For example, Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan said in July that if Canada does become engaged in an African mission, potentially the army will be involved not only in peacekeeping as traditionally conceived, but also in "capacity building" -- typically code for sending Canadian military and police forces to train local military and police and assist them in repressing the people -- and in "controlling the spread of Islamic militants across the Middle East and Africa." Here we can see that "peace operations" will include fighting a war against not only the nebulous ISIS but whosoever can be deemed "extremists."

Sajjan visited various African countries in early August for a week-long "fact-finding mission," shopping for a conflict to which Canadian troops and materiel can be deployed. While in Ethiopia, he told media, "I think we can definitely say what we used to have as peacekeeping, before, is no longer. We don't have two parties that have agreed on peace and there's a peacekeeping force in between. Those peacekeeping days, those realities, do not exist now and we need to understand the reality of today."

This is being repeated by other spokespersons for "reform" to UN peacekeeping in the most self-serving fashion as they try to breathe new life into the imperialist program of presenting regime change and foreign interference as "protecting civilians" and "stabilization."

The peoples of Africa, who won their independence in huge wars and struggles of resistance against empire-builders from the time of colonization up to the 1990s, are now facing increased dangers from the big powers and particularly U.S. imperialism. In recent years the U.S., along with France and Britain, has greatly increased its military presence and bases throughout the continent. Already these forces are participating in the open overthrow of governments that defy their dictate, such as in Côte d'Ivoire where in 2011 the President was arrested and the government overthrown by French troops.

Likewise, the U.S. and other NATO countries are violating Syria's sovereignty, sending in warplanes and thousands of special forces. What began as an attempt to carry out regime change and failed has morphed into an all-out war to rip the country apart. The U.S. has declared an "exclusion zone" in northern Syria, a new code-word for "no fly zone" and declared to the Syrian Arab Republic that its planes and those of its allies will be shot upon "trespassing." This is part of Sajjan's "reality of today." If peace is the aim, should the UN not intervene to uphold the international rule of law and block the U.S. and its "coalition" from its current war against Syria? Would this not be a stand for peace in international affairs rather than seeking a new existence by meddling in the affairs of Africa? The U.S. imperialists will not agree to peacekeeping of this nature because they are the aggressor and not interested in peace if it will not get rid of governments they target for regime change.

This is not the problem Sajjan is talking about when he says "we don't have two parties that have agreed on peace and there's a peacekeeping force in between them." Sajjan is trying to justify U.S. aggression in the name of "peace," legitimized by the United Nations.

Canada under the Harper government, with the support of the Liberals, took a lead role in the U.S./NATO-led destruction of Libya. What kind of role Canada will play now and with what aim is not discussed. Instead we are simply told that involvement in UN missions or anything with the word "peace" is good, and not being involved is bad. Did the UN not rubber stamp the illegal U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after it began? Did the UN Security Council not authorize no-fly zones over Libya in the name of "protecting civilians" that ensured only NATO planes could carry out their attacks and shielded NATO-backed rebels? Did any of this lead to peace and security for the peoples of those countries or others? Canadians are not so naive as to give up their own anti-war sentiments and ignore their own direct experience when it comes to assessing the role played by the UN in such cases.

The mask is off. What Obama and Trudeau want is a UN in which the big powers, so long as they all agree or no other power tries to stop them, are able to trample the rights of other nations with impunity, based on Might Makes Right but now under the guise of "peace operations."

Canadians rejected the fraudulent imperialist doctrine of responsibility to protect and, no sooner than it had been uttered, they also rejected the Liberals' Responsible Conviction (which fell flat on its face and has scarcely been spoken about since). So too Canadians stand against meddling in other countries' affairs in the name of "peace operations."

For more information read "Revamping Peacekeeping to Meet War Aims" in TML Weekly, November 21, 2015.

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Trudeau Government Launches New Program to Meddle in the Affairs of Other Countries

On August 26 the Trudeau government announced the establishment of the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP). A news release from Global Affairs Canada describes the program as a "comprehensive approach to support Canadian interests and UN peace efforts." The announcement comes shortly after Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan led a Canadian delegation to five African countries to seek out "facts on the ground" to help decide on a new military adventure appropriate for Canada within the U.S. imperialist push for new "peace operations" worldwide.

According to a government backgrounder the program is also aimed at giving Canada "a stronger voice on the world stage," something the Liberals said they would do once elected.

The government announced $450 million in funding to the PSOP and 600 Canadian Armed Forces "for possible deployment to UN peace operations." Canada's "peace and stabilization operations" and "future contributions will focus more on the areas of early warning, conflict prevention, dialogue, mediation and peacebuilding, and the empowerment of women in decision-making for peace and security." Beneath the high-sounding phrases is the fact that Canada has allocated 600 soldiers tasked with using force to intervene in internal conflicts according to what the government deems to be "Canadian interests."

A CBC report the same day stated, "The Liberal government was required to make the specific commitment as prerequisite to get into the upcoming international UN peacekeeping conference in London, which will take place [in September.]"

Responsibilities of "PSOP"

The Peace and Stabilization Operations Program has "three core responsibilities:"

1. "Leadership on stabilization and fragile states policy." The program will "support Canadian efforts to influence and shape dialogue and collective action among allies and partners, particularly at the UN."

2. "Support coordinated responses by the Government of Canada to conflicts and crises abroad." This means the PSOP will "coordinate whole-of-government responses to catastrophic natural disasters and complex political crises abroad."

"For political crises in particular, PSOPs will serve as a focal point for information sharing, joint analysis and the coordination of diplomatic, military, security and development efforts to ensure that they are mutually reinforcing and are coherent with and supportive of broader, collective efforts of the international community."

3. "Design and deliver catalytic stabilization initiatives." This allegedly means to "manage the deployment of Canadian police officers and civilian experts to areas in need." We are informed that PSOPs will be used to fund sending Canadian police, in particular the RCMP, to participate in "peacekeeping." Examples of this provided are:

"- strengthening Ukraine's security sector;
"- reducing tensions among communities hosting Syrian refugees in Lebanon;
"- supporting the implementation of Colombia's peace process;
"- supporting anti-Daesh coalition efforts and stabilization operations in Iraq, among others;
"- expert deployments, for which $17 million per year has been allocated; they will include the deployment of Canadian police officers, managed in conjunction with Public Safety Canada and the RCMP through the International Police Peacekeeping and Peace Operations program, as well as the deployment of civilian experts for technical support to external organizations or for rapid response to crises and natural disasters."

In other words, countries targeted by U.S. imperialism will receive Canadian militarized police agents, spies and other security officers and this is called peacekeeping.

Canada's role in "peace operations" will be a "whole-of-government effort," using "the full range of Canada's military and police as well as other capabilities in integrated responses." It is telling that when speaking about the "whole of government effort" the government mentions the military and police only. This is another indication that with this program Canada is at the disposal of those who want the United Nations to be reformed in a manner that violates its founding Charter so as to serve the contention of the big powers to ensure that international conflicts are resolved in their favour.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion gave a tortured explanation of why Canada must line up behind new U.S. imperialist interventions around the world:

"Now, more than ever, is the time for our country to choose engagement over isolation, a time to redouble our combined efforts to address the world's toughest challenges, from complex emergencies to climate change and security. Based on our unparalleled experience in building a peaceful and inclusive society, our bilingualism and our diversity, Canada will do what is needed to support the international community in bravely fighting for justice and security on the global stage; in promoting humanitarian assistance, development, training and capacity building; and in protecting gender equality and all human rights."

Canada's "unparalleled experience in building a peaceful and inclusive society" is an age-old fraud of the Liberals to cover up the experience in Canada of state-organized racist and fascist attacks, repression of the workers' resistance as well as the resistance of the people of Quebec and Indigenous nations. Since U.S. President Obama declared in the Canadian Parliament that "the world needs more Canada," the Liberals have drunk the kool-aid and are beginning to believe their own lies.

Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale gave his own perverse twist to promote the deployment of RCMP to interfere in the affairs of other countries and peoples. "Peacekeeping has been a long-standing tradition for Canada, and we are taking concrete steps to build a more secure world through police participation in international peace support and stabilization missions. The RCMP, in collaboration with officers from police forces across the country, will help strengthen local policing, improve security and build capacity in fragile and conflict-affected states," he said.

Is this the kind of peacekeeping Goodale thinks Canadians want? Do the Liberals think that Canadians see problems faced by other peoples around the world and think that if they only had Canadian police things would be better? Is that the experience of Canadians? Goodale is no doubt aware of the actions of police in Canada to organize terror plots today and in the past, their abuses against Indigenous women; as well as abuse and killing of Canadians at the hands of police. Goodale is also surely aware of the Sûreté du Québec officers accused of sexual misconduct while on duty in Haiti as UN peacekeepers, where the Police Commissioner of the illegitimate UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is an RCMP officer. Is this the kind of local policing they will help strengthen?

The Trudeau Liberals' new Peace and Stabilization Operations Program is another attempt to eke out an existence in international affairs. Canada's "voice on the world stage" is based on better serving U.S. imperialist aims in the countries it has targeted for regime change, destabilization and domination. Now is the time for Canadians to step up their demands that Canada actively oppose the use of force to settle conflicts in international affairs.

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Canada Prowling For a Military Role in Africa

It is being widely reported that Canada is looking for a new "peace operation" to join or possibly lead in Africa.

From August 10-16, Canada's Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan carried out a "fact-finding" trip to Africa, which is part of the preparations for a new role for Canada in Africa. Sajjan was accompanied by retired Liberal Senator and Lieutenant-General from the Canadian Armed Forces Roméo Dallaire (Dallaire was also Force Commander of United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda from 1993-1994); Retired Supreme Court Justice and former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Louise Arbour; and Canada's Ambassador to the United Nations, Marc-André Blanchard. In the particular case of Dallaire and Arbour, they are key point people in the international campaign to justify the intervention of imperialist states in the internal affairs of other nations in the name of stopping genocide or war crimes. This is then used to justify war crimes by the imperialists. Their participation in the Canadian delegation indicates that similar pretexts will be created for meddling in Africa.

During the trip, the delegation traveled to Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In the five African countries they visited, they met with Sajjan's ministerial counterparts and a number of other ministers, top military officials and heads of state. It is also reported that he met with representatives from the United Nations, the African Union and NGOs "to better understand the nature of conflict on the ground and the work currently being done by African partners and NGOs." Canada appears to be positioning to involve itself in "conflict" in Africa which it is presenting as a "peace operation." This indicates that Canada is positioning itself to play a more dirty role in the divide-and-rule politics of imperialism, which has caused immense damage and destruction on the African continent and which the peoples of Africa have fought to overcome. This whole shift was articulated during U.S. President Barack Obama's speech to Parliament in which he called on Canada to act more forcefully to uphold "common values" internationally -- a direct appeal for Canada to embroil itself in U.S. intervention in the affairs of other countries in the name of "human rights," "protecting women and children" etc.

This re-engagement in Africa is intended to demonstrate that Canada is playing its role in the United Nations, which the Liberals assert the Harper government did not do. It is also likely linked to the Trudeau government's announcement of its intention to bid for a United Nations Security Council seat, with a two-year term beginning in 2021.

Upon his return to Canada, Sajjan stated: "My meetings with African partners were an important opportunity to learn the ground truth about security issues affecting the continent. The information gathered during these meetings has helped us get a better understanding of the situation on the ground, and will inform future partnerships as Canada looks to re-engage in a full spectrum of multilateral peace operations." Canada's concern for "security issues" and "gathering information on the ground" appears to be more about cherry-picking a country where it can flex its muscle most effectively than about assisting the peoples of Africa.


1. A statement issued on August 16 by the Department of National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces reports that while he was in Ethiopia on August 10-11, Minister Sajjan toured the Ethiopian International Peacekeeping Training Center and participated in a series of roundtable meetings with NGOs, think tanks, and UN representatives. He also met with African ambassadors currently hosting or contributing troops to peace support operations, as well as with ambassadors from countries funding United Nations and African Union peace operations. His visit concluded with a meeting with representatives from the African Union Peace and Security Department, "where he received a comprehensive presentation on their current efforts and capabilities."

On August 12 in Nairobi, Kenya, Sajjan visited the International Peace Support Training Centre, among other places. In Uganda the next day, he met with representatives of UNICEF and the World Food Programme "to discuss the protection of vulnerable children in armed conflict." On August 14 in Tanzania, he met with representatives from the Aga Khan Development Network, discussed construction of the Aga Khan University and toured the Aga Khan Hospital. The statement indicates that since 2000 Canada has provided over $320 million to the Aga Khan Foundation Canada "in support of development and humanitarian assistance activities" in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

On August 15-16 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sajjan met with political and military representatives of the UN Stabilization Mission in the country (MONUSCO) and representatives from the Special Police Squadron for the Protection of Women and Children. He also visited a hospital run by the International Committee of the Red Cross and toured a shelter for demobilized children supported by UNICEF and Canada.

(Open Canada, CBC, Globe and Mail)

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Colombia Peace Agreement

Congratulations on an Historic Achievement!

Press conference on conclusion of peace agreement in Havana, August 24, 2016. (Farc-EP)

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) sends its heartiest congratulations to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP) for reaching an historic peace agreement signed with the Government of Colombia on August 24, 2016. This ends the 50-year-old armed conflict in Colombia and opens up serious prospects of peace and reconciliation as well as social progress, for the first time.

On June 23, a significant milestone in the peace dialogues was reached with the signing in Havana of the agreement on a definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities. Then on August 24 a final, full and definitive agreement was signed on all the points contained in the Agenda of the General Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace in Colombia, established at the outset of the talks in 2012. The final agreement must now be approved by the 10th national Conference of the FARC-EP which will take place September 13-19, after which it will be submitted to a national plebiscite on October 2 for final acceptance or rejection.

CPC(M-L) takes this occasion to pay deepest respects to all the fighters who have laid down their lives to see such an historic achievement, as well as all the victims of the conflict. The peaceful resolution of armed conflict is the deepest desire of peoples all over the world. The FARC-EP has achieved it by upholding the principles of human dignity for which it fought all these years. Congratulations!

The conflict was fuelled from the outset in the 1950s by the U.S. imperialist rampage to "contain communism," which was subsequently turned into "Plan Colombia" to wage a phony "War on Drugs" and "War on Terrorism." This historic peace agreement defeats all the attempts of U.S. imperialism and its agents in Colombia to undermine any political resolution to the conflict by trying to terrorize and divide the Colombian people through the use of assassination, defamation and untold crimes against humanity. By achieving peace in Colombia, the Colombian people with the support of other peace-loving peoples and governments have also made an important contribution to making Latin America and the Caribbean a zone of peace.

To its shame the Canadian state has taken its lead from the U.S. and done everything possible to undermine the search for peace and fuel the internal conflict in Colombia. It now presents itself as wanting to contribute to peace by “help[ing] the Government of Colombia implement peace in the most conflict-affected parts of the country." This reflects what Obama said in his speech to Parliament after the North American Leaders' Summit on June 29 that “the nations of North America will be an important partner to Colombia going forward.” For some time Canada has been involved in training Colombian police and military forces and is now said  to be considering participating in a UN peacekeeping mission in the country. The record of Canadian training missions in law enforcement in the name of “peacekeeping” is not great in Haiti and other countries where it has made such a contribution.

Canadians must continue to hold the government to account and make sure the nefarious impacts of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement signed by the Harper government in 2011 do not undermine the peace process. This free-trade agreement was signed shortly after the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement in the hopes of ensuring Canadian mining and other monopolies are not disadvantaged in the race to exploit Colombia's land and resources that is displacing its people and violating their rights in the process.

In 2013, right in the midst of the peace dialogues, the Canadian government approved the sale of automatic assault weapons, banned for sale in Canada, to the Colombian government. This is on top of sales of Light Armoured Vehicles to the Colombian military like those the Liberals recently approved for export to Saudi Arabia. Before that there were helicopters and engines for the Tucano attack airplanes used in counterinsurgency operations. All of this was used politically and materially by the Colombian state and its military and possibly also its paramilitary associates to carry out the repression of the Colombian people in the service of the foreign monopolies that want to use the country for their own ends.

The interference of the United States and Canada to undermine sovereign governments in Latin America and the Caribbean continues unabated, as in the case of Haiti, Venezuela, Brazil, Honduras and now El Salvador. Canadians must be aware of the dangers that lie ahead for the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean and do their utmost to make sure the Colombians' profound desire for peace, justice and prosperity by establishing sovereignty over the use of their own resources succeeds.

CPC(M-L) is confident that just as they have done heroically for the past 50 years, the politically organized Colombian people will foil the attempts by pro-war forces to divide the public opinion that has been created for the building of a lasting peace and a new Colombia.

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The Most Beautiful of All Battles

Havana, August 24, 2016

Today in Havana, Cuba we have concluded Colombia's much longed-for peace agreement.

Land, democracy, victims, politics without arms, implementation of agreements with international monitoring, are, among other things, the elements of an agreement that will have to sooner rather than later be turned into rock-solid legislation by its primary constituent, guaranteeing a future of dignity for all.

We can proclaim that the war with arms ends and the debate of ideas begins. We have concluded the most beautiful of all battles: of laying the foundations for peace and coexistence.

The peace agreement is not an end point but the starting point for a multiethnic and multicultural people, united under the banner of inclusion, to be the goldsmith and sculptor of the change and social transformation the majorities clamour for.

Today we are handing over to the Colombian people the transforming power we have been building during a half century of rebellion, so that with it, and with the strength of the union, the people can begin to build the society of the future, the one of our collective dreams, a sanctuary dedicated to democracy, to social justice, to sovereignty and to fraternal and respectful relations with everyone.

We have signed commitments on the six points that make up the Agenda of the General Agreement:

Agreement "Towards a new Colombian countryside: Comprehensive Rural Reform," which pursues the transformation of the conditions of misery and inequality prevailing in the agricultural areas of our country, providing plans and programs for good living conditions and development, beginning with the titling of lands held by rural communities.

Agreement "Political participation: democratic opening for peace," in which the emphasis is on the elimination of exclusion, beginning from the expansion of democracy that will allow broad citizen participation in defining the country's destiny.

Agreement "Solution to the problem of illicit drugs," which designs a new policy to fight against illicitly used drugs, taking into account its social connotations and providing an approach with an emphasis on human rights that overcomes the shortcomings of the failed "war on drugs."

Agreement on Victims, consisting of a "Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition," a "Special Jurisdiction for Peace," a Unit for the search for persons missing in the context of and due to the conflict, plans for comprehensive reparation, land restitution measures and guarantees of non-repetition, among others.

Agreements on the point End of Conflict: "1. The Bilateral and Final Ceasefire and Cessation of hostilities; 2. The Laying Down of Arms; 3. The Monitoring and Verification Mechanism launched by the United Nations with the deployment of observers from countries of CELAC; 4. Agreements were defined on security guarantees and dismantling of the phenomenon of paramilitarism, creating a unit for the investigation and dismantling of criminal organizations, including those that have been considered successors of paramilitarism and their support networks ..., but with a vision that is not militaristic but rather one of seeking solutions to avoid further bloodshed and pain; and as a fifth aspect, the most recently reached, were agreements on the Reincorporation of the FARC-EP into civilian life -- in economic, social and political terms, which, starting from a pardon and the broadest political amnesty, will open the door for us to become a legal political party or movement in the new social scenario that will emerge from the entire set of peace agreements.

We also have an Agreement on Implementation, Confirmation and Verification, which provides guarantees for planning, funding and budgets, such as for the creation of regulatory changes that will allow for the realization of the commitments.

During the treatment of each point, the Gender Subcommission worked in parallel on the analysis of all the agreed texts and issues under debate, providing input to open the way for the full affirmation of the human being.

We have fulfilled the task. In the coming days we will be in Colombia, holding the National Guerilla Conference, our highest body of authority, to which we are subordinate and must submit for its verdict on the political work represented by the Special Agreement for Peace in Havana.

We confess that it has been a tough task, full of difficulties, with lights and shadows perhaps, but addressed with a heart full of love for the motherland and the poor in Colombia. We are convinced that we have faithfully interpreted the sentiment of our comrades in arms and ideas, who always fought in the spirit of finding a political solution to the conflict, and above all, the possibility of a just homeland, without the horrifying abyss that today stands between development and poverty.

To the comrades held in prisons and jails in the country and across borders, goes our message of love with the hope of soon having you free, building the New Colombia envisioned by our founding fathers.

To the people of Colombia goes our embrace with all the strength of our heart to reaffirm to you that the guerrilla struggle that was staged in all parts of the national territory was for no other reason than to dignify human life, in keeping with the universal right that falls to all peoples of the world to take up arms against injustice and oppression. Unfortunately, in every war, but especially in those of a long duration, errors are committed and these unintentionally affect the population. With the signing of the peace agreement, which implies a commitment to Non-Repetition, we hope to definitively eliminate the risk of weapons being turned against citizens.

Peace is for everyone and embraces all strata of our society, calling for reflection, for solidarity, and tells us that it is possible to take the country forward. To the sector of society surviving in the catacombs of despair, neglect and official abandonment we say that it is possible, relying on the inner strength and determination that we all carry inside, to rise out of misery and poverty. While we have life, everything is possible, and much better if we do it with organization. There are the youth of Colombia, from cloisters and universities, always generous, ready to help in the collective search for solutions to social problems.

To the peasants, men and women full of humility and purity, seeking with their labour and sweat food sovereignty for Colombia in the furrows, we offer a place for struggle in the agreed Comprehensive Rural Reform. To the Afro communities in Colombia, to the indigenous peoples: we invite you to see the differentiated ethnic approach in everything that was agreed to, won with your own struggle. To women, we say that we will enforce the gender approach that breathes through the Special Peace Agreement.

It will not be possible to stop the powerful force of change originating in the dreams and hopes of a people claiming their rights. Nothing can lead us astray. The people of Colombia demand answers to their concerns and the government must provide them, with tangible action.

There will be international monitoring of the commitments of both parties, not only of the guerrillas, as some would like, but also of the Government's commitments on fundamental issues of the end of conflict, such as the reincorporation in political, economic and social terms, on safety guarantees, and on the transition of the guerrilla into a legal political movement.

We have great expectations about the development of the commitment to institutional reforms and adjustments needed to meet the challenges of peace-building. To do this, we believe the ground should be opened after the plebiscite by the GREAT NATIONAL POLITICAL PACT, proposed by the parties, to which we invite the active forces of the nation so that in this new space we can all think of a new framework for political and social coexistence that will guarantee tranquility to the coming generations.

We will have peace if the agreements are respected. The people must become the main guarantor of their implementation. The Special Peace Agreement and the people should be one like the sea and the waves, where the agreements are the sea and the people are the persistent waves demanding compliance.

On behalf of the FARC-EP I turn to the nations of the world asking the peoples and governments for their solidarity, their support in every sense so that the longest conflict on the continent will become a reference point and issue of the past that no people should repeat.

To the Government of the United States that for such a long time supported the State's war against the guerrillas and against social nonconformity, we ask you to continue in a transparent way supporting Colombian efforts to restore peace, and are expecting humanitarian gestures from Washington consistent with the kindness that characterizes the majority of the American people, who are friends of harmony and solidarity. We are waiting for Simón Trinidad.[1]

We hope the ELN can find a way towards peace so that the peace we long for can be complete, involving all Colombians.

Finally, the FARC-EP expresses its deepest appreciation to the government led by General Raul Castro Ruz and to the people of Cuba, for everything they have done for peace in Colombia; eternal gratitude to the homeland of Martí.

Thank-you also to the Kingdom and the people of Norway for their generous contribution and accompaniment as guarantor to the efforts of reconciliation in our country.

Our appreciation and affection go to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, for its permanent assistance to its sister Colombia, in the realization of the peace agreement. Thank-you Nicolás Maduro for continuing the work entrusted to you by President Chávez.

A thank-you to President Michelle Bachelet and the people of Chile for their extraordinary accompaniment to a peace that, they know only too well, is essential to consolidate peace on the continent.

Allow us to pay heartfelt tribute to the fallen in this long fratricidal confrontation. To the families, mothers, widows, brothers, children and friends, our condolences for the grief and sadness of the war.

Let us join hands and voices to shout NEVER AGAIN, NEVER AGAIN.

From the Havana conclave, white smoke has emerged.

Habemus Pacem, we have peace. Viva Colombia! Long live peace!


1. Simón Trinidad refers to Ricardo Palmera, a senior member of the FARC imprisoned in solitary confinement in the U.S. Florence SuperMax prison in Colorado.

(English translation edited for accuracy and style by TML Weekly. Photos: FARC-EP)

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Joint Communique #93 -- Government of
the Republic of Colombia and FARC-EP

Havana, Cuba, 24 August 2016

The delegations of the National Government and the FARC-EP announce that we have reached a final, comprehensive and definitive agreement on all the points of the agenda of the General Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace in Colombia.


Recalling that the talks in Havana between delegates of the National Government, headed by President Juan Manuel Santos and the delegates of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army, with the mutual decision to end the national armed conflict, took place as a result of the Exploratory Meeting in the capital of the Republic of Cuba between February 23 and August 26, 2012;

Bearing in mind that as a result of the aforementioned exploratory talks a General Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace was agreed to and signed on the last mentioned date before national witnesses and delegates of the Republic of Cuba and the Kingdom of Norway, who also served as witnesses and have assented to the process as guarantor countries since then;

Bearing in mind that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Republic of Chile have been prepared at all times to lend their good offices as accompanying countries;

Recalling that in the development of the agenda adopted in the agreement in question, the Negotiating Table was established on October 18 of 2012 in the city of Oslo, the capital of the Kingdom of Norway, to then continue in Havana without interruption until today when the Final Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace is signed;

Underlining that the Final Agreement entered into today corresponds to the free expression of the will of the National Government and the FARC-EP, having both acted in good faith and with the full intent of complying with what has been agreed;

Bearing in mind that Article 22 of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Colombia holds that peace is a right and a mandatory duty; that Article 95 states that the quality of being Colombian ennobles all members of the national community and therefore it is the duty of all to enhance and dignify it; that the exercise of the rights and liberties recognized in the Constitution implies responsibilities, among them to pursue the achievement and maintenance of peace;

Emphasizing that peace has come to be universally qualified as a human right and a necessary condition for the exercise of all other rights and duties of persons and citizens;

Bearing in mind that the Final Agreement contains all of the agreements reached on the Agenda of the General Agreement signed in Havana in August 2012; and that to achieve it, both the National Government and the FARC-EP have always and every time adhered to the spirit and respect for the Constitution, the principles of International Law, the International Law of Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law (Conventions and protocols), the mandate of the Rome Statute (International Criminal Law), of the rulings handed down by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights concerning conflicts and their termination, and other judgments by universally recognized competent authorities and authoritative rulings concerning the matters at hand;

Recalling that Article 94 states that "the enunciation of rights and guarantees contained in the Constitution and in international agreements in force, shall not be intended as a denial of others which, being inherent to the human person, are not expressly contained therein," that treaties on human rights approved by Congress, and which cannot be suspended even during states of exception, prevail in domestic order;

Taking into consideration that the totality of the agreements that form the Final Agreement contribute to the satisfaction of fundamental rights such as political, social, economic and cultural rights, and the rights of the victims of the conflict to truth, justice and reparation; the right of children and adolescents, the fundamental individual or collective right to legal security and physical security, and the fundamental right of every individual in particular and of society in general, without distinction, to non-repetition of the tragedy of the internal armed conflict which this Agreement aims to overcome;

Underlining that the Final Agreement pays special attention to the fundamental rights of women, vulnerable social groups such as Indigenous peoples, children and adolescents, Afro-descendant communities and other ethnically distinct groups; the fundamental rights of the peasants, the essential rights of persons with disabilities and those displaced because of the conflict; the fundamental rights of older persons and the LGBTI population;

Considering that in the opinion of the National Government the transformations involved in implementing this Agreement must contribute to reversing the effects of the conflict and changing the conditions that have facilitated the persistence of violence in the territory; and that in the opinion of the FARC-EP these changes must contribute to solving the historical causes of the conflict, such as the unresolved issue of land ownership and particularly its concentration, the exclusion of the peasantry and the backwardness of rural communities, that especially affect women and children.

Valuing and honouring the fact that the central axis of peace is to promote the presence and effective action of the State throughout the national territory, especially in many regions crippled today by abandonment, by the lack of an effective civil service, and by the effects of the internal armed conflict itself; that an essential goal of national reconciliation is the construction of a new paradigm of development and territorial welfare for the benefit of broad sectors of the population thus far victims of exclusion and despair;

Recognizing the rights of society to comprehensive human security with participation of the civil authorities;

Honouring and enshrining a prospective justice to recognize essential fundamental rights for new and future generations such as the right to a land that has been preserved, the right to the preservation of the human species, the right to know one's origins and identity, the right to exemption from liability for actions committed by previous generations, the right to the preservation of freedom of choice, and other rights, without prejudicing the rights of the victims to the truth, justice and reparation;

Recalling that on June 23 this year, the delegations of the National Government and the FARC-EP signed in Havana agreements on a Bilateral and Definitive Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostilities and the Laying Down of Arms and Security Guarantees, in the presence of the President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, the Secretary General of the United Nations, the President of the General Assembly of the UN, the President of the Security Council of the same organization, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway, the Heads of State of the accompanying countries, Heads of Government of countries in the region, the Special Envoy of the United States of America and the Special Representative of the European Union;

Accepting that the rules of customary international law continue to govern questions related to fundamental rights not mentioned in the Final Agreement, including the binding mandate which instructs that "in cases unforeseen by the law in force, the human person remains under the protection of the principles of humanity and the demands of the public conscience;"

Recognizing the constitutional mandate stating that it corresponds to the President of the Republic as Head of State, Head of Government and supreme administrative authority to agree and ratify peace agreements;

The Government of the Republic of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army, have agreed:

To sign this Final Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace, understanding that its enforcement will end in a definitive way the armed conflict that has lasted over fifty years.

This Final Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace is signed by the National Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP), as a Special Agreement under the terms of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

The National Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP), sign seven originals including their annexes, one for each of the parties, one for each of the guarantor countries and one for each of the facilitating countries. The seventh original copy will be deposited immediately upon signature with the Swiss Federal Council in Bern or with the body that replaces it in the future as depository of the Geneva Conventions.


After a confrontation of more than half a century, the National Government and the FARC-EP have agreed to end the internal armed conflict in a definitive manner.

The termination of the armed conflict will mean, in first place, the end of the enormous suffering that the conflict has caused. Millions of Colombians have been forcibly displaced, hundreds of thousands have died, tens of thousands are missing, not to mention the large number of populations that have been affected in one way or another throughout the territory, including women, children and adolescents, rural communities, Indigenous, Afro-Colombians, black, palenqueras, native islanders and Roma, political parties, social movements and trade unions, business associations, among others. We do not want another victim in Colombia.

Second, the end of the conflict will open a new chapter in our history. It means the beginning of a transition phase that will contribute to the greater integration of our territories, greater social inclusion especially of those who have lived on the margins of development and have suffered from the conflict and that will strengthen our democracy so it extends throughout the entire country and ensure that social conflicts are processed through institutional channels, with full guarantees for those involved in politics.

It is about building a stable and lasting peace, with the participation of all Colombians. With that purpose, to end once and for all the historical cycles of violence and lay the foundation for peace, we agreed to the points on the Agenda of the General Agreement of August 2012, which this Agreement develops.

The Agreement consists of a series of agreements, which nevertheless constitute an indissoluble whole, because they are permeated by the same rights approach, so that the measures agreed here contribute to the realization of the constitutional rights of Colombians; by the same differential and gender approach to ensure that implementation is carried out taking into account gender, ethnic and cultural diversity, and that measures will be taken for the poorest and most vulnerable populations and collectives, especially children and girls, women, persons with disabilities and victims; and especially by the same territorial approach.

The territorial approach of the Agreement is to recognize and take into account the needs, economic, cultural and social characteristics and particularities of the territories and communities, ensuring social and environmental sustainability; and seeks to implement the various measures in a comprehensive and coordinated manner with the active participation of citizens. Implementation will be carried out from the regions and territories and with the participation of local authorities and the various sectors of society.

Citizen participation is the foundation of all agreements that constitute the Final Agreement: participation of the society in general in building peace and participation in particular in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the plans and programs in the territories, which is also a guarantee of transparency.

In addition, participation and dialogue among the different sectors of society contributes to building confidence and promoting a culture of tolerance, respect and coexistence in general, which is a goal of all the agreements. Decades of conflict have opened gaps of distrust within the society, especially in the areas most affected by the conflict. To break these barriers, spaces must be opened for the most diverse citizen participation along with spaces that promote the recognition of victims, recognition and establishment of responsibilities, and in general, the recognition by the whole society of what happened and the need to seize the opportunity for peace.

Therefore, the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP, with the aim to further consolidate the foundations on which peace and national reconciliation will be built, shall, after the plebiscite has taken place, convene all parties, social and political movements and active forces of the country to arrive at a great NATIONAL POLITICAL AGREEMENT aimed at defining the reforms and institutional adjustments needed to meet the challenges that peace demands, launching a new framework for political and social coexistence.


The Final Agreement contains the following points with their corresponding agreements, which aim to contribute towards the necessary transformations to lay the foundations for a stable and lasting peace.

Point 1 contains the "Comprehensive Rural Reform," which will contribute to the structural transformation of the countryside, closing the gaps between rural and urban areas and creating conditions for the welfare and good living of the rural population. The "Comprehensive Rural Reform" should integrate the regions, helping to eradicate poverty, promote equality and ensure the full enjoyment of citizenship rights.

Point 2 contains the agreement "Political Participation: Democratic Opening to Build Peace." The construction and consolidation of peace within the framework of the end of the conflict requires a democratic expansion that allows the emergence of new forces in the political arena to enrich the debate and deliberation about major national issues and thereby strengthen pluralism and hence the representation of different visions and interests in the society, with the appropriate guarantees for political participation and inclusion.

In particular, the implementation of the Final Agreement will contribute to the broadening and deepening of democracy as it will involve the laying down of arms and the proscription of violence as a method of political action for all Colombians, allowing to move to a scenario in which democracy prevails, with full guarantees for those involved in politics, and thus opening new spaces for participation.

Point 3 contains the agreements on "Bilateral and Definitive Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostilities and the Laying Down of Arms" which aim to permanently end offensive actions between the Public Forces and the FARC-EP, and in general the hostilities and any action contemplated in the rules that govern the ceasefire, including effects on the population, and thus create the conditions for beginning the implementation of the Final Agreement and the laying down of arms and preparing the institutional framework and the country for the reincorporation of the FARC-EP into civilian life.

Point 3 also contains the agreement on "Reincorporation of the FARC-EP into civilian life in social, economic, political terms -- in keeping with their interests." Laying the basis for building a stable and lasting peace requires the effective reincorporation of the FARC-EP into the social, economic and political life of the country. Reincorporation confirms the commitment of the FARC-EP to close the chapter of internal conflict, to become a valid actor in the democracy and to decidedly contribute to the consolidation of peaceful coexistence and non-repetition, and to transforming the conditions that facilitated the persistence of violence in the territory.

Point 3 also includes the agreement on "Ensuring security and the fight against criminal organizations responsible for killings and massacres or that attack human rights defenders, social movements and political movements, including the criminal organizations that have been called the successors of paramilitarism and their support networks, and the prosecution of criminal behaviour that threatens the implementation of the agreements and peace building." To achieve this end, the agreement includes measures such as the National Political Pact; the National Commission on Security Assurances; the Special Investigation Unit; the Elite Corps in the National Police; the Comprehensive Security System for the Exercise of Politics; the Comprehensive Security and Protection Program for Communities and Organizations in the Territories; and Measures for the Prevention and Fight against Corruption.

Point 4 contains the agreement "Solution to the Problem of Illicit Drugs." To build peace it is necessary to find a definitive solution to the problem of illicit drugs, including illicit crops and the production and marketing of illicit drugs. For which a new vision is promoted, that gives a different and differentiated treatment to the phenomenon of consumption, the problem of illicit crops, and to the organized crime associated with drug trafficking, ensuring a general human rights and public health approach, one that is differentiated and has a gender perspective.

Point 5 contains the "Victims" agreement. From the Exploratory Meeting of 2012, we agreed that compensation for victims should be at the core of any agreement. The agreement creates the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition, that contributes to the fight against impunity combining judicial mechanisms for the investigation and punishment of serious violations of human rights and grave breaches of International Humanitarian Law with complementary extra-judicial mechanisms that contribute to clarifying the truth about what occurred, the search for missing loved ones and reparation of the damage caused to individuals, collectives and entire territories.

The Comprehensive System is composed of the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition; the Special Unit for the search for missing persons in the context of and due to the armed conflict; the Special Jurisdiction for Peace; the Measures for Comprehensive Reparation for peace building; and the Guarantees for Non-Repetition.

Point 6 contains the "Implementation and Verification Mechanisms" agreement in which a "Commission for the implementation, monitoring and verification of the Final Peace Agreement and resolution of differences" is created, composed of representatives of the National Government and the FARC-EP in order, inter alia, to track the components of the Agreement and verify their fulfilment, serve as an entity for resolving differences and promoting and monitoring the legislative implementation.

Additionally, it creates a mechanism of accompaniment for the international community to contribute in different ways to guarantee the implementation of the Final Agreement; and with respect to verification, a model is initiated with an international component to be made up of the countries that during the process have assumed the role of guarantors and accompanying countries, and two international spokespeople, all supported technically by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies Project of the University of Notre Dame, United States.


The delegations of the National Government and the FARC-EP reiterate our profound gratitude to all the victims, social and human rights organizations, communities, including ethnic groups, women's organizations, peasants, youth, academia, business people, the church and faith communities, and all citizens who actively participated and who through their proposals contributed to the Final Agreement. With their participation we will achieve the building of a stable and lasting peace.

(English translation taken from, edited for accuracy and style by TML Weekly. Photos: Cuba Debate)

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Fora Temer!

Brazilians Vigorously Oppose Coup President
During Rio Olympics

Demonstration against Coup in Rio De Janeiro during the Olympic Games.

During the Olympic Games in Rio and other cities Brazilians vigorously expressed their opposition to the coup presidency of Michel Temer and his backers.

The impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff initiated by the Brazilian oligarchy and the imperialists that stand behind them is now in its final stage. They had hoped "interim President" Temer's presence at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics would strike a blow to the people's opposition and keep it from bursting out onto the world stage. However the opposite happened and the people used every opportunity, including the Opening Ceremony, to say No to him and to the coup.

The people have been holding large demonstrations in cities around the country, including during the pre-Games Torch Relay. They also refused to have their voices silenced during the Olympics, using the Games as a venue to show their rejection of the coup and its leaders. "Fora Temer!" (Temer, Out!) was seen and heard everywhere in Rio and beyond. It was on banners at the front of mass rallies, on signs held up by spectators in the stands, on people's T-shirts and written on their bodies as well as shouted in stadiums. Things got so bad for the coup president that he was accorded only the most perfunctory of roles in the August 5 Opening Ceremony seen around the world -- of declaring the games open, the traditional function of the host country's head of state. Even the few seconds it took for him to do that and sit down again were met with loud and sustained booing from the audience. At the Closing Ceremony on August 21 Temer was nowhere to be seen.

During the first few days of the Games, police, soldiers and Olympic volunteers moved in to remove those who in any way protested inside Olympic venues. This was said to be in response to a policy of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which attempted to justify the actions in the name of the "clean arena policy" in line with the IOC Charter's ban on "political, religious, or racial propaganda in any Olympic site."

During a women's soccer match between the United States and France at the Mineirão stadium in Belo Horizonte, nine spectators wearing t-shirts spelling out Fora Temer were told they had to take them off or leave the stadium.

One Olympic Games volunteer is reported to have became outraged when he saw commandos grab a seated man at an archery event and remove him for holding up a sign with the same slogan. The incident was caught on camera and shared on Facebook millions of times. Rather than being asked to carry out a similar order, the man who was the coordinator of a group of 30 volunteers at the venue quit.

"For the IOC to decide what we can and cannot do in my country is not right," he said. "Freedom of speech is guaranteed in our constitution, and the committee can't do anything against that."

On August 9 this stand was affirmed by a federal judge who issued an injunction forbidding police or security from removing fans from Olympic events for protesting peacefully by wearing T-shirts, waving signs or chanting slogans. Judge João Augusto Carneiro Araújo ruled that Brazilians do not forfeit their constitutionally protected right to free speech just by attending Olympic games and set a fine of 10,000 reales (US$3,000) for each violation of his ruling.

Mass actions against the coup and impeachment proceedings against President Rouseff
were held August 9 in (top to bottom) São Paulo, Fortaleza and Natal, as well as other cities.

Impeachment Process Coming to a Head

Brazil's Senate is presently hearing arguments in an impeachment trial to determine whether to permanently remove President Dilma Rousseff from power for allegedly manipulating the national budget to conceal a fiscal shortfall prior to her 2014 re-election, or to reinstate her. Dilma has been suspended since May, with Vice-President Michel Temer installed as acting president for a maximum of 180 days while the impeachment process runs its course in Congress. An investigation by the Federal Prosecutor's office in July has already concluded that Rousseff did not violate any fiscal laws, nor does what she is accused of constitute an impeachable offence. However the oligarchy has continued trying to hide their own corruption and escape prosecution by carrying out a parliamentary coup d'etat against the legitimate president. It is reported for example that of the 81 members of Brazil's Senate (59 of whom voted earlier this month to proceed with the impeachment trial), 60 percent have cases against them for bribery, money laundering and other crimes. Five face criminal charges and 24 have been placed under investigation by the Supreme Court. Additionally, three of the cabinet ministers appointed by "interim President" Temer had to resign within a period of one month because of evidence coming to light of their involvement in bribery and corruption as part of what has become called the "Car Wash," a scandal connected with the national oil company Petrobras.

President Dilma Rousseff attends event August 23, 2016.

The parties of the Brazilian oligarchy are desperately hoping to have their coup against Dilma rubber-stamped by a favourable vote in the Senate expected on August 30 or 31 when the impeachment trial concludes. Their attempts to tie Dilma to one or another scandal, which have been unsuccessful, are also aimed at former President Luiz  Inácio "Lula" da Silva. They fear Lula will run again for the presidency in the next election under the banner of the Workers' Party and if elected will block their attempts to impose a vicious new anti-social offensive in Brazil and use the country as a base for U.S. imperialism. Proof of their intentions is that as soon as he took over as "interim president" while Dilma's case wound its way through the Congress, Michel Temer immediately set about appointing his own cabinet and changing government policy to reflect the oligarchy's demands for privatization, harsher austerity measures, attacking workers' rights and making changes to foreign policy.

Dilma for her part says she is the subject of a fraudulent political trial, is guilty of nothing and has no intention of giving up the fight or resigning. Nor are the Brazilian people fooled by the attempts of the coup government to use the issue of corruption allegations to whitewash the corruption of the oligarchy and their political representatives. They continue to be in action to say NO to the coup and its despised leaders.

(Photos: PT, M. Ninja, CUT)

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U.S. Imperialist Destabilization Attempts in El Salvador

Supreme Court Decisions Support Neo-Liberal
and U.S. Interests

Rally against attempts to destabilize the government of El Salvador, July 16, 2016.

The people of El Salvador are rejecting rulings by the Constitutional Chamber of the country's Supreme Court on July 11 which go against the interests of the people, interfere in governance and aim to destabilize the government led by the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). These rulings of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court favour the interests of the neo-liberal oligarchic forces and U.S. imperialism and coincide with other attacks by those who would see El Salvador once again subservient to U.S. interests. The Salvadoran people are organizing and mobilizing against the corruption in the Supreme Court and to affirm their confidence in the FMLN government and its pro-social program.

Ruling to Repeal 1993 Amnesty Law

The FMLN defended the people through a 12-year armed struggle against the oligarchic forces and a government and the most brutal death squads funded and trained by U.S. imperialism. When the historic peace accords were signed in 1992, the FMLN continued to represent the aspirations of the Salvadoran people and was elected to the presidency in 2009.

One of the outcomes of the 1992 peace accords was the 1993 Amnesty Law. The Amnesty Law barred investigation and prosecution of crimes committed during the 1980 to 1992 civil war. It was considered problematic as it shielded perpetrators of atrocities from being brought to justice.

The Constitutional Chamber on July 11 ruled the Amnesty Law unconstitutional, stating that it denied Salvadorans the right to justice and compensation for war crimes.

President Salvador Sánchez Cerén in televised comments following the ruling affirmed the government's commitment to restitution for the victims of the war and the protection of human rights. However, he pointed out that the court's decision does not address "the real and current problems of the country" and could threaten society's unity. "Far from helping to resolve the day-to-day problems of Salvadorans," Sánchez Cerén said, the court ruling "aggravates" them and will not contribute to "strengthening institutionality." In 2010, then President Mauricio Funes of the FMLN made an historic apology on behalf of the state for crimes committed by the U.S.-backed dictatorship during the civil war.

During the war in El Salvador the state and paramilitary death squads carried out unspeakable atrocities and state terror against the people. During El Salvador's Truth Commission after the cessation of hostilities, 95 per cent of all complaints received were directed at the state and its agents for their crimes against the people.

Today there is concern that the decision to overturn the Amnesty Law aims to target those who fought for the people during the civil war and who today continue to fight for the people's interests in the FMLN government against U.S. imperialist and neo-liberal forces. Meanwhile, the U.S., the main backer of the crimes during the civil war, remains unpunished.

Ruling to Declare $900 Million in Government Bonds Unconstitutional

Protest against corruption in the Supreme Court, August 19, 2016.

In another July 11 decision, the Constitutional Chamber ruled that the approval of $900 million in government bonds by the National Assembly was unconstitutional. The bonds are intended to provide funding for Plan El Salvador Seguro, the government's program to improve the justice system, including prisons and rehabilitation programs, and improve living conditions and increase opportunities for youth in high crime areas.

U.S. blogger on El Salvador Tim Muth explains the particulars of the decision in a July 20 post excerpted below:

"The $900 million in bonding originally failed to pass by one vote of the super majority needed to approve such borrowing. The measure was then removed from the legislative calendar and sent to archive. Later that night, the GANA [Grand Alliance for National Unity] deputy who had abstained from voting for the measure departed. A back-up deputy (diputado suplente) from GANA took her place. The bond approval measure was recalled to the floor where the back-up deputy cast his vote for the measure, allowing it to pass by one vote.

"The decision by the Constitutional Chamber ruled that the manner in which the two-thirds majority was achieved to approve the bonds was unconstitutional. In doing so, the court went in an unexpected direction. It threw out the votes of diputados suplentes because those deputies had not been elected in a popular election. While the primary deputies are subject to individual election by Salvadoran voters, the backup deputies are appointed by party leadership.[...]

"In order to avoid throwing into question all previous legislation passed with the votes of back-up legislators, the Chamber ruled that its decision would have prospective application only.

"The decision overturns long-standing practice and was criticized by many legislators. The court's ruling would seem to be in tension with various references to the existence of diputados suplentes found in provisions of El Salvador's constitution. [...]

"In the second decision, the Constitutional Chamber agreed to hear a challenge to a 13% surcharge to electricity bills which the executive branch wanted to impose. The surcharge was supposedly to help pay for improvements to the power infrastructure including work on a hydro-electric dam. The court agreed to hear the challenge which alleges that the surcharge was in reality a tax which should have been passed by the legislature and not imposed by executive fiat. The Chamber entered an injunction prohibiting the collection of the energy surcharge while the appeal is being decided.

"The FMLN issued a strongly-worded communique calling it highly suspicious that the Constitutional Chamber would suddenly decide to issue these decisions, along with the repeal of the Amnesty Law, all on the same day. The FMLN called its militants out to the streets in a rally in San Salvador on Saturday [July 16]. According to the FMLN, the court had to know this combination of rulings would have a destabilizing effect, and that this was the court's plan all along [...]"

The question the Salvadoran people are asking is whose interests are served by such decisions of the court? Blocking improvements to social programs and public services and to the country's basic infrastructure undermines the people's well-being while serving the interests of the neo-liberal oligarchic forces who seek to line their own pockets and put El Salvador at the mercy of foreign exploitation once again. The people will never accept this undermining of their aspirations to build a bright future for themselves or attacks on the legitimate authority of the FMLN government to carry out its mandate to serve the people.

(With files from Truth Commissions Digital Collection: Reports: El Salvador, United States Institute of Peace; Reuters; Tim Muth. Photos: FMLN.)

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Unfolding Events Since the Signing of
the Peace Accords

Since the signing of the peace accords, El Salvador has made progress in building a democratic society with the separation of powers, strengthening of its institutions, and an armed forces respectful of the existing legal framework, without a political role.

In this context, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) states to the Salvadoran people and national and international public opinion:

1. A recent combination of rulings issued by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, through which the state's access to funds is being blocked and the Legislative Assembly attacked, represent a clear confrontational and irresponsible act with serious political, social and economic consequences and demonstrate perverse political intentions that over and above any legal considerations are against the country's stability and the rule of law.

2. With their latest decisions they are not only blocking funds for security and the social programs that benefit the people, but with the stroke of a pen attacking the country's institutionality by eliminating the constitutional entity Alternate Deputy (art. 129 and 131 of the Constitution) and violating the popular will expressed at the polls. This ruling represents the de facto dismantling of an organ of the state, a very serious act that, we must point out, is part of an agenda of destabilization.

3. With this action, by presuming to put themselves above the other branches of government, this group of judges of the Constitutional Court, whose electoral process has been and remains strongly questioned, are showing themselves for what they really are: political operators of powerful oligarchic sectors who never have accepted losing control of the Legislature and Executive since 2009, and today, through conspiracy and the strategy of the soft coup d'etat, seek to destabilize the government in hopes of recovering their privileges.

4. The FMLN calls on the Salvadoran people to step up their struggle in defence of democracy and the social gains that have been achieved. Despite these destabilizing activities, we will continue working for El Salvador to move forward in the struggle for security, employment, education and the right to a better life. We defend and will defend the constitutional and social rule of law that we continue to build thanks to the sacrifice of thousands of men and women throughout the history of this heroic people.

(July 19, 2016. Translated from the original Spanish by TML.)

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U.S. Senator's Outrageous Remarks Lead to Reopening of Investigation into FMLN Leader

On June 29, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio slandered the progressive forces in Venezuela, El Salvador and Colombia during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on global corruption, specifically naming José Luis Merino, one of the historic leaders of the Faribundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), which currently holds the presidency of El Salvador.

Rubio stated, "[...] you've got the right hand man of the president of El Salvador, José Luis Merino. This guy is a top-notch, world class money launderer, armed smuggler for the FARC, as well as corrupt Venezuelan officials, why is this guy not sanctioned?" Rubio is part of the anti-Cuba mafia in Miami, Florida, a former contender for the Republican Party's presidential candidacy and known for his virulent anti-Cuba, anti-Venezuela and anti-communist views.

Rubio's accusations are a repetition of spurious accusations against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and others based on files contained in laptops the Colombian government of then-President Alvaro Uribe supposedly seized in a 2008 raid in which its military violated Ecuadoran territory and led to a serious diplomatic incident. These computers were ridiculed as "magical laptops" for the information they conveniently provided to attack the FARC and the progressive governments of Ecuador and Venezuela, and also to interfere in El Salvador's 2009 presidential election in which the FMLN nonetheless prevailed.

Shortly after Rubio's attempts to defame Merino, Attorney General of El Salvador Douglas Melendez said he was reopening a 2014 investigation into Merino to which he would add the accusations made by Rubio. Melendez was appointed by El Salvador's Congress in January, but his statements to reporters make it clear his mandate comes from the U.S.: "Given these statements from a public official of another country, and given that they are addressing a politician and public official of our country, we can't not investigate," he claimed.

The FMLN has expressed its full support for Merino. FMLN Secretary General Medardo González on August 23 highlighted Merino's work over the years as a social activist, politician and now as an advisor to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) to boost social programs. Merino is a "historic leader of our party, who works tenaciously to improve the living conditions of the Salvadoran people, a self-sacrificing man who has been working from his youth," said Merdado.

(With files from,,,

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Korean People's Opposition to U.S. War Preparations

Huge U.S.-South Korean War Exercises Underway

Koreans from north and south Korea as well as all peace-loving people around the world are demanding an end to the annual U.S.-south Korean Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) war exercises being carried out from August 22 to September 2. UFG is one of the largest military exercises in the world. It is reported that 50,000 south Korean troops and 25,000 U.S. troops are participating in exercises that simulate a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) followed by the military occupation of that country. An additional 2,500 troops from Australia, Colombia, Denmark, France, Italy, the Philippines, Britain, New Zealand and Canada are also involved.

The U.S. Forces Korea spuriously claims that these exercises "are non-provocative" in nature and that they "highlight the longstanding military partnership, commitment and enduring friendship between the two nations; help to ensure peace and security on the peninsula..." The peace-loving Korean people who have first-hand knowledge of the true nature of the U.S. imperialists as warmongers as a result of the Korean War and since, beg to differ.

Besides widespread opposition to these war exercises, the Korean people are also united in opposing the decision of the U.S. and south Korean Park regime to install a terminal high altitude area defence (THAAD) anti-missile system in the village of Seongju, south Korea. The people of Seongju are in the 6th week of their protest and have sworn to continue until the decision is rescinded and the THAAD is barred from Korean soil. In their courageous stand they have been joined by compatriots from cities and towns in the south, compatriots in the north and anti-war and peace activists the world over.

In response to the U.S. overall hostile policy toward the DPRK including the aggressive UFG war exercises and the refusal to sign a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War, the DPRK successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile on August 24. Monopoly media, the U.S., its allies and others raised a hue and cry about the missile launch, but did not condemn the massive war games and other threats to the DPRK.

U.S. nuclear blackmail, that includes the UFG war games, targets independent countries like the DPRK to deny them the right to be. It puts them in terrible danger of annihilation, not to mention the dangers to all the peoples of the region. Time and time again, the DPRK has been put in an impossible position -- that it give up its right to be and all the sacrifices it has made to take an independent path free from U.S. imperialism and defend the interests of the Korean nation, or submit to a foreign power and all that this entails for the people. What should a country in this position do when all of its attempts to negotiate peace have been sabotaged or rebuffed? How should the DPRK defend itself under these circumstances when the irrationality of U.S. nuclear blackmail threatens to wipe out the DPRK or even all of humanity?

It is noteworthy that the monopoly media in Canada and the world called the DPRK missile test a "provocation" and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is once again deciding on what further sanctions to take against the DPRK. In the meantime, a letter of appeal to the UNSC by DPRK Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ja Song Nam calling on the UNSC to take action to stop the UFG exercises, which are an act of aggression against the DPRK and contribute to destabilization of the Korean peninsula, has gone unmentioned.

TML Weekly calls on the peace-loving Canadian people to consider these developments and strengthen their support for the Korean people in their right to live in peace. The Trudeau Liberal government must be held accountable for Canada's participation in these war games which in international law are crimes against peace -- defined by the Nuremberg Tribunal as the supreme war crime. Canada had no business being embroiled in the Korean War -- a war of aggression against the Korean people to keep them divided and under the yoke of U.S. imperialism. Canada has no business participating in UFG 2016 and preparing for another Korean War. It must not pass!

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DPRK Permanent Representative to the
UN Security Council Opposes Aggressive
"Ulji Freedom Guardian (UFG)" War Exercises

New York, 23 August 2016


Upon instructions from my Government, I have the honour to bring to your attention the aggressive joint military exercise so-called "Ulji Freedom Guardian (UFG)" which is now being conducted by the United States in south Korea against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The U.S.-led large-scale joint military exercise in collusion with the south Korean forces despite repeated warnings of the DPRK is a grave military provocation aimed to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on the DPRK and a challenge to regional peace and stability in every way.

In particular, this joint military exercise is an unpardonable criminal act of pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a war as the situation has become unprecedentedly unstable due to the introduction of nuclear strategic bombers, the anti-ballistic missile system of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and other strategic assets by the U.S. to the Korean peninsula and its vicinity.

The U.S. war games clearly prove that it is the U.S. which instigates the vicious cycles of escalating confrontation and tension and creating the danger of war on the Korean peninsula. Peace, security and relaxation of tension on the Korean peninsula and in the region are unthinkable unless the U.S.-south Korea aggressive joint military exercises are totally halted.

The U.S.-south Korea joint military exercises constitute a grave threat to the DPRK as well as international peace and security and deserve urgent consideration by the Security Council.

Therefore, I request that the issue of the U.S.-south Korea joint military exercises, be placed on the Security Council agenda, and that a meeting of the Security Council be urgently held in accordance with Articles 34 and 35 of the Charter of the United Nations.

I would like to remind you that the Security Council has unjustifiably ignored the DPRK's several requests to place the issue of the U.S.-south Korea joint military exercises on the agenda of the Council.

Should the Security Council again ignore the DPRK's just request to discuss the U.S.-south Korea joint military exercises, that in itself will expose that it is not only giving up its primary mission of maintaining international peace and security, but also becoming a political tool of an individual power, only serving the interests of the United States.

It is the consistent stand of the DPRK government to fundamentally terminate the danger of a nuclear war posed by the U.S. by dint of powerful nuclear deterrence and defending regional and global peace.

I should be grateful if you would have the present letter circulated as an official document of the Security Council.

The identical letter has been sent to the Secretary-General, requesting this letter be circulated as an official document of the General Assembly and of the Security Council.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

JA Song Nam,
Permanent Representative

(Edited slightly for grammar by TML Weekly)

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Week Five of Opposition to U.S. Missile Defence -- "Seongju Is Korea and Korea Is Seongju"

On August 15 in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, 908 people sat in rows of chairs and waited for their heads to be shaved as an act of protest against the U.S.-South Korean decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defence system in their hometown. Even Confucian scholars, who regard all parts of the human body as a gift from one's parents and their hair as precious as their lives, sat stoically, willing to join the symbolic act against the deployment of the controversial weapons system. As the ceremony began and clumps of hair fell to the ground, onlookers gasped and even dabbed tears from their cheeks.

But the moment of anguish was brief. As soon as the ceremony concluded, everyone quietly tied their headbands behind their heads and shouted "No THAAD!" as they headed to a demonstration.

Petition to White House Surpasses 100,000

Since a U.S. and South Korean joint working group announced the small agricultural town of Seongju as the designated site for THAAD deployment on July 13, the people of Seongju, mostly melon farmers, have become the front line in the fight against missile defence in Korea. And in just a few weeks, they have organized themselves into a force to be reckoned with. The online "We the People" petition against THAAD deployment surpassed its goal of 100,000 signatures on August 10. The Seongju residents gathered for their 29th nightly candlelight vigil that evening were beaming with joy. The emcee shouted, "What day is today?" and the residents shouted back in unison, "The day we reached 100,000!"

According to the White House petition website, any petition that garners 100,000 signatures in 30 days triggers an official response from the White House within 60 days of the date that the goal is reached. To be sure, waging an online petition campaign in Seongju was no easy task. Most residents don't have computers nor read English. The petition requires an email verification step, but most didn't have email accounts. College students set up booths at the nightly candlelight vigils and patiently helped older residents through the process, starting with opening an email account.

The residents made clear that they are not appealing for sympathy from the White House. The petition campaign was a process of organizing the entire country beyond Seongju to demand that the United States rescind its THAAD decision and exert pressure on the White House.

"Until when do we hold the rain ceremony?" asked Lee Jae-dong, the chair of the Seongju branch of the Korean Peasants League and the emcee of the nightly candlelight vigils. "Until it rains!" replied the crowd. "Until when do we fight THAAD deployment?" he asked. "Until it's rescinded!" replied Seongju residents in unison.

Seongju Residents Walk Out on Defence Minister

The relentless opposition in Seongju prompted a visit by defence Minister Han Min-koo on August 17. He met with the Seongju Task Force against THAAD Deployment, but the meeting ended with no substantive result. The Task Force demanded a detailed explanation of how the U.S. and South Korean joint working group decided to deploy the THAAD system in Seongju, but Minister Han only fanned the residents' indignation by offering a cursory response.

The meeting abruptly came to a close when Han started to discuss the possibility of changing the location of the THAAD deployment to a different site. According to members of the Task Force, Saenuri Party Representative Lee Wan-young, who represents Seongju in the National Assembly, requested the Defence Minister consider deploying the THAAD system at a different location within Seongju County, and Minister Han replied, "If the residents request it, I will consider it."

At this point, members of the Task Force walked out of the meeting after declaring, "Our official position is to oppose THAAD deployment on the Korean peninsula." At a press conference after the meeting, they stated, "Changing the location of THAAD deployment is not the official position of the Task Force, so it was not part of the discussion at today's meeting." When Seongju residents, who had gathered outside the meeting, heard the news that changing the location of THAAD deployment was being discussed inside, they yelled, "We hereby declare this meeting invalid!"

Meanwhile, on the road to Seongju, the police blocked two buses carrying residents of nearby Gimcheon, a site being discussed as a potential new site for THAAD deployment. The residents were on their way to protest the meeting with Minister Han when the police refused to let them through. "The police should be upholding the law, but they are illegally holding up traffic!" said Gimcheon City Council member Lee Woo-cheong, who had joined the residents on the bus.

Defending Seongju for Future Generations

Defence Minister Han Min-koo must not have read the Seongju residents' resolution released on August 15. Had he read it, he would have known better than to try to appease the Seongju residents with offers to discuss a new site for the THAAD deployment. In the collective declaration, the Seongju residents remembered the struggle of their ancestors against Japanese occupation and vowed to pass down a land of peace to their next generation.

In 1905, the Japanese colonizers opened the Seoul-Busan railway. Colonial Japan used the railway as a transport line to expropriate materials from Joseon, and wherever the railway passed, traditional societies collapsed. With the same sense of urgency as we feel today, countless Seongju residents, including Confucian scholars, stood up and ultimately defended their hometown from foreign imperialists.

Today, the residents of Seongju face yet another challenge from foreigners. The foreign power that our ancestors faced was not easier than what we face today. Our forebears did not kneel or retreat in the face of the terrifying might of the foreign power and defended their hometown. We are the residents of that land that our forbears defended and their proud descendants. We have a duty to defend this precious land and pass it down to our future generations.

We cannot give Seongsan, the sacred land of Seongju, to be forever used as a military base by foreigners. Nor can we pass down the disgraceful THAAD to our children. Just as our forebears did, we will defend Seongsan and Seongju even if it means putting our lives on the line. We will stop the THAAD deployment, make Seongsan a symbol of peace and proudly pass it down to our future generations.

THAAD Fight Calls into Question U.S.-ROK Alliance

As the THAAD fight wages on, scholars and lawmakers are openly raising questions about the uneven nature of the U.S.-South Korean alliance. At a forum at Yonsei University on August 18, Professor Lee Nam-ju of Sungkonghoe University warned that a regional arms race and military confrontation could become unavoidable if China considers South Korea the key cause of a strategic threat.

"Pointing to the so-called Iranian threat, the United States tried to construct missile defence in Eastern Europe, and this became the cause of marked deterioration in relations between Europe and Russia. That should be a lesson to us," Lee said. "The attitude that we have no choice but to accept all the negative side-effects of the THAAD deployment decision in the interest of the U.S.-ROK alliance is the ultimate obstacle in the THAAD fight," he added, "The THAAD issue begs the question -- should the U.S.-ROK alliance always be considered unconditional?"

Representative Seol Hun of the Minjoo Party agreed. "Until now, anything carried out in the name of the U.S.-ROK alliance was given an automatic green light," he said, "But the THAAD issue clearly demonstrates that U.S. and South Korean interests are not always aligned."

The scholars and lawmakers at the forum also agreed that the decision to deploy the THAAD system in Korea should go through a ratification process in the National Assembly.

Professor Song Gi-chun of the North Jeolla University School of Law denounced the Park Geun-hye administration for railroading a unilateral decision without the consent of the National Assembly and refuted the administration's argument that the Mutual Defence Treaty between the United States and South Korea gave it the right to do so. Song referenced article 60 of the South Korean constitution, which states that the National Assembly has the right to "consent to the conclusion and ratification of treaties pertaining to mutual assistance or mutual security" and "treaties which would incur grave financial burden on the state or people," and argued that the THAAD deployment decision needs to be ratified by the National Assembly.

"The THAAD deployment decision is an agreement between two countries that would significantly transform the security environment of South Korea," Song noted, "It goes beyond the framework of the Mutual Defence Treaty and is an agreement of serious import that will cause fissures in the balance of military powers in the Northeast Asian region. An agreement that goes beyond the framework of the existing treaty and outlines new rights and responsibilities between countries should, of course, be approved by the National Assembly."

People's Party Representative Choi Gyeong-hwan, who served as the last secretary to the late President Kim Dae-jung, agreed. "Through a ratification process in the National Assembly, we have to empower the Assembly to oversee military matters," he said and committed to do all he can in the National Assembly to oppose the THAAD deployment, including calling for a ratification process and the impeachment of the Defence Minister, as well as creating a special committee of all opposition parties.

Seongju Is Korea and Korea Is Seongju

As the fight against THAAD enters its sixth week, Seongju residents are appealing for candlelight vigils around the country to oppose the THAAD deployment. "You don't have to come to Seongju to give us support," said Park Su-gyu, the publicity coordinator for the Seongju Task Force, "We, the residents of Seongju, will defend Seongju. You can raise your candles wherever you are. Whether it's three people or five people, raise your candles. That way, we can be unified in the fight to stop the THAAD system from being deployed anywhere in Korea."

One hundred and forty-five civil society organizations came together on August 18 to form the National Action to Oppose THAAD Deployment in Korea and announced plans to answer Seongju's call. It plans to hold simultaneous candlelight vigils in 50 cities around the country on August 26, which marks the 50th nightly candlelight vigil in Seongju, then 100 cities on October 20, the date of the 100th candlelight vigil in Seongju. The newly formed coalition embraced the slogan that has become the battle cry of the anti-THAAD struggle -- "Seongju is Korea and Korea is Seongju."

(Zoom in Korea. Photos Ohmy News, Y. Gwanslk. Edited slightly for grammar by TML Weekly.)

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