October 22, 2016 - No. 41
One Year of
Government's Logic of
Betray Charter to Authorize Aggression
• Canada Champions U.S. Cause to
to Achieve Regime Change
• General Assembly Briefing on Humanitarian
• Phony Pretexts for Regime Change
• Prospect that Election of a U.S.
Will Unleash War
Rican Independence Struggle
• Mass Rally at White House Demands
Immediate Unconditional Release of Political Prisoner Oscar
• Coup Government's Constitutional
Neo-Liberal Cuts to Social Spending
• Mass Actions
in Defence of Social Programs
• Spurious Case Against Former President Da
Peace Process in
• Ceasefire Extended
• Interview with FARC Commander
• Toronto Rally Affirms Demand
for Peace with Social Justice
to End U.S. Blockade on Cuba
• Worldwide Actions on Eve of Annual
Anniversary of the 1956 Suez Crisis
• Myth of Canada the Peacemaker
One Year of Liberal Rule
Trudeau Government's Logic of National Betrayal
In the anti-national tradition of previous governments,
the first year of the Trudeau government confirms that it is
openly embracing the warmongering, militarism and reaction of
U.S. imperialism. To cover this up, it promotes the image of
Canada as a force for peace, saying that peacemaking is Canada's
main pursuit internationally today. Foreign Minister Stéphane
Dion cites the role played by Canadian Prime Minister Lester B.
Pearson in creating the UN peacekeeping force, known as the Blue
Helmets or Blue Berets, at the time of the Suez Canal crisis in
1956 to say that today, under different circumstances, what
Canada is doing internationally also serves the cause of peace.
Speaking at a meeting of the Montreal Council on Foreign
Relations on October 17, Dion said, "Sixty years, ago, the UN
agreed to deploy the first peacekeeping force in history along
the Suez Canal. The Blue Helmets were born and, the following
year, Lester B. Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize. This
innovation had extraordinary consequences for the world.
Peacekeeping forces have become a vital tool and a part of
Canada's identity on the international stage."
Canada is "a determined
peacebuilder," Dion said.
To perpetuate the myth of Canada as a great
reclaim this image for the Liberal Party today, Dion hides that
Pearson's actions to establish the United Nations Emergency Force
(UNEF) which was deployed to the Suez Canal in November 1956 were
carried out on behalf of U.S. imperialism and that the
"internationalism" of the Liberal Party has always been to defend
the international politics of imperialism. Justin Trudeau's
"internationalism" is of the same character. The bourgeoisie in
Canada identifies the pursuit of its own interests with the
interests of U.S. imperialism and the Justin Trudeau Liberal
"refresh" of Canada's foreign policy is a clear indication of
In the 19th century and into the
20th, Canada's foreign policy was conducted by the Imperial British
Parliament. On behalf of the British Empire, Canadians joined in its
adventure in Crimea and then participated in the Second Boer War as
well as World War I and the subsequent 14-country invasion of Soviet
Russia to overthrow the proletarian state power. But ever since the end
of World War I and the Treaty
of Versailles when it became responsible for its own foreign
relations, no Canadian government has taken any measures
internationally whatsoever, whether in the Security Council or
through other bodies, which would defend democracy or establish
an international order favourable to the interests of the people.
In fact, following World War II when Canada took on the role of
peacekeeper, it became an advocate of Cold War anti-communism and
counter-revolution against the former Soviet Union and people's
democracies as well as the national liberation movements in Asia,
Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Despite this, Stéphane Dion's recent speech to
the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations presents a fairy tale image
of Canada's foreign policy. Referring to the Harper government's
reluctant participation in various international bodies and
initiatives, Dion said that now with the Liberals in power Canada is
"back on the world stage." It was "Not that Canada had left the world,
but it was no longer playing the role expected of it," Dion said. He
then listed all the things which in his mind show that Canada is "back"
in its rightful place.
"We are defending human rights everywhere, and have
an office for this purpose," Dion said. Canada is "especially
helping countries that are choosing a democratic path," he said, adding
that Canada is "attending and playing a
constructive and active role in all the forums where peace is
negotiated, from the Middle East to Colombia." According to Dion,
"Instead of acting alone, we are following the same policy as
NATO and our allies..." and "We have strengthened sanctions
against countries that disturb world order, but we have done so
in cooperation with our allies."
Dion said there is a "common thread" linking these
policies and the "overarching goal is to make Canada a determined
peacebuilder -- peace being defined as more than just the absence of
armed conflict." To explain what this means, Dion elaborated the
differences between the world of today and the world of Lester Pearson
and his "peacekeeping." Canada "plans to return to this great
tradition, but it will do so taking into account new global realities.
We can no longer keep the peace as we did half a century ago," he said.
His explanation included a
self-serving account of the fight against terrorism which hides the
state terrorism of the big powers and their intervention in various
countries such as Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya to secure
their own hegemony and carry out regime change. "[States] are no longer
engaged in conventional and direct warfare with one another," he said,
adding that we owe this "absence of direct war between states" to
"military and diplomatic efforts toward peace."
While wars between states have disappeared, "the
conflicts that persist in the world are asymmetrical," he said, which
means "a state opposing groups of insurgents or rebels, or sometimes
terrorist or criminal networks." Using this self-serving imperialist
definition which recognizes the forces created by the U.S. imperialists
and under their command as legitimate "rebels," and others as
"terrorist or criminal networks," Dion concluded that peacekeepers are
"no longer asked to serve as buffers between states that welcome them."
Instead, "Conflicts today are complex and require a
modern, multi-faceted and comprehensive approach, where military,
diplomatic and humanitarian responses, together with security and
development initiatives, are brought together under a broader umbrella
of 'peace operations,'" Dion said. Peacekeeping now
means "military intervention undertaken in close cooperation with
local authorities and, often, with a range of international and
regional partners such as NATO, the European Union, the African
Union and others." Dion adds that peacekeeping is also now about
the "protection of civilians." This is the same phrase used to
launch imperialist aggression time and time again.
While Pearson's peacekeeping was to undermine the
of Egypt and all the fighting peoples of the Middle East and
change the balance of power in the region in favour of U.S.
imperialism, Dion's is to engage in direct military intervention
in defence of the U.S. imperialist world order.
For a country to play its
role as a peacekeeper, it must have
a foreign policy of positive neutrality, condemning all acts of
aggression and intervention and unjust wars and supporting all
movements which open the path for social progress and lasting
peace in the world. Dion makes no reference whatsoever to such a
need in his speech on Liberal foreign policy, except that the
policy of "peacekeeping" is applauded as if it is a recognized
truth. Far from calling for Canada to get out of NATO and NORAD
and for these aggressive military blocs to be dismantled as is
required to secure peace, the Trudeau government calls for
strengthening the warmongering presence of these military blocs
all over the world, especially to isolate Russia.
A peacekeeper can only have one standard, that of
the conditions for peace without, at the same time, being an
interventionist and aggressor or defender of militarism and
fascism. Positive neutrality under all circumstances must be the
watchword if the role of peacekeeping is to be given substance
and be suitable for the creation of a new world equilibrium. TML
Weekly calls on Canadians to oppose service to
imperialism in the name of peace and to redouble their efforts to
make Canada a zone for peace.
1. The UNEF was not the first UN
"peacekeeping" force. The United Nations Truce Supervision
Organization (UNTSO) was established in 1948 to monitor a
ceasefire in Palestine, while a United Nations Military Observer
Group in India and Pakistan the same year was to monitor a
ceasefire between the two countries. After the Armistice
Agreement in the Korean War in 1953 UN forces remained as
"peacekeepers" on the south side of the Demilitarized Zone until
1967 when U.S. and south Korean troops took over.
Canada Calls on UN Members to
Authorize Aggression Against Syria
Canada Champions U.S. Cause to Prolong War to
Achieve Regime Change
Picket at U.S. Embassy against U.S. aggression
in Syria, Ottawa, October 1, 2016.
The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) calls
on Canadians to condemn the Trudeau government's attempt to use the
United Nations against the sovereignty of Syria and to endorse more
U.S.-led terrorism. At a time that the U.S. imperialists are expressing
serious worries about the inability of their proxy forces in Syria to
successfully fight the Syrian army, Canada is spearheading a new
initiative at the United Nations aiming to prolong the war and step up
the push for regime change. This initiative is being falsely described
as contributing to peace and an end to the conflict while it is in fact
in direct response to the failure of the U.S. imperialists to get
authorization to commit aggression against Syria through the UN
On October 13 the Canadian
to the United Nations
submitted a request for a special meeting of the UN General
Assembly to "explore concerted action to apply pressure on the
parties of the violence [in Syria]." Canada's deputy permanent
representative at the Canadian Mission to the UN, Michael Grant
told media that Canada's initiative was in response to Russia
vetoing on October 8 a French UN Security Council motion to
institute a "no-fly zone" around the city of Aleppo.
An informal plenary session of the General Assembly in
Canada's request was
held on October 20. On that occasion Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
issued a statement calling
for "forward momentum" for war against Syria under the banner of "a
responsibility to protect the world's vulnerable and weak when others
cannot or will not." A
special meeting of the General Assembly has not yet been announced.
Earlier on October 11, three days after the Russian veto
Security Council, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane
Dion spoke about these efforts at a meeting of the Atlantic
Treaty Association, a political front for NATO comprised of
politicians, diplomats, military personnel, academics and
businesspeople. Dion said that Canada is "reaching out on an
urgent basis to see what can be done to address the appalling
situation in Syria in the wake of Russia's veto at the UN
Security Council on [October 8]. This could include action at the
General Assembly to address the unfolding humanitarian crises in
Canada, which is openly campaigning for a UN Security
seat beginning in 2021, is attempting to use the UN General
Assembly to achieve what the U.S. imperialists and their allies
were denied at the Security Council. Canada's initiative is
supported by all the countries on the UN Security Council which
supported the vetoed resolution.
Canada's request comes with support from 71 other UN
states, calling for an emergency session of the full General
Assembly under Resolution 377, known as "Uniting for
Peace." Resolution 377 was
written by the U.S. in 1950 to bypass the authority of the Security
Council and manoeuvre around the Soviet Union which sought to prevent
the imperialists from further use of the UN Security Council to support
the U.S. genocidal war against Korea.
Resolution 377 states that, "where
the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the
permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility
for the maintenance of international peace and security, the
General Assembly shall seize itself of the matter."
Now the failure of the U.S.
imperialists and their allies to
use the UN Security Council for war aims has again resulted in
Resolution 377 being invoked in the name of peace. Media report
that Canada is discussing at least two concrete proposals for how
to use the UN General Assembly to undermine Syria and its now
five-year struggle against U.S.-backed destabilization and
efforts at regime change. One is the suspension of Syria's voting
rights at the UN or its expulsion. Another is to set up a Special
Prosecutor to launch a spurious case against the Syrian
government for war crimes in an illegitimate court.
Canada's initiative at the UN was launched one week
after the ceasefire negotiated between the U.S. and Russia collapsed
due to the U.S. bombing of Syrian troops and because many of the U.S.
proxy forces refused to abide by it. Within one week we are to believe
that Canada all by itself and without connection to anything the U.S.
bloc is up to, including the massive disinformation about the
humanitarian tragedy in Aleppo, assembled 71 states to back its
manoeuvre to expel one of the member states of the United Nations or
"legitimize" aggression against it. It is very telling that while
claiming everything it is doing is for peace, Canada only raised doubts
about Russia and the Syrian governments' unilateral pause in fighting
in Aleppo, from October 18 to 22 to allow civilians as well as
anti-government fighters to evacuate from eastern Aleppo.
Canada's criminal manoeuvre aims to "legitimize" war in
manner not unlike UN Security Council Resolution 1973 that
authorized a "no-fly zone" in Libya in 2011. That resolution was
used by the U.S. and NATO as the "legal" basis for its merciless
destruction of Libya's cities, infrastructure and citizens and
its imposition of a puppet government. Permanent members of the
UN Security Council such as Russia and China subsequently
expressed regret for allowing Resolution 1973 to pass as its
effects went far beyond what was discussed and the result was
further destabilization of North Africa and the Middle East. It
is therefore very difficult for the U.S. to have similar measures
adopted at the Security Council today.
A serious concern is that the U.S. imperialists now aim
to use a UN General Assembly resolution and the claims of dysfunction
at the UN Security Council to justify aggression. The vitriol at the UN
from the U.S. representative, Samantha Power, is such that everything
is blamed on Russia and the post-war arrangements by which Russia was
included as one of five world powers granted a veto at the Security
Council is now declared to be illegitimate due to Russia's obstinance.
Writing for the website LawFare, a pro-war legal analyst
named Mai El-Sadany speculated as to how the U.S. could use a
General Assembly resolution to justify war. In spite of a General
Assembly resolution not carrying the weight of a Security Council
decision, "the time has come for the international community to
explore creative and lesser-known solutions," she said. "The
calamity in Syria has uncovered what many legal scholars have
long criticized as a set of international institutions and legal
constructs that have failed to evolve with the evolving nature of
conflict. It is only by reassessing and deconstructing the status
quo that we can even begin to produce solutions adequate to
addressing the Syrian crisis..." El-Sadany claimed that Canada's
move originates with a foreign-sponsored organization posing as
an interim government called the "Syrian Coalition," and that the
ultimate purpose of a UN General Assembly motion "would be to
recommend non-binding collective measures for the matter at hand,
which can include, but are not limited to, the implementation of
a ceasefire, the use of force, or sanctions."
Canada's call is an attack against the Charter of the
Nations, which upholds the sovereignty and territorial integrity
of member states. Many
states, which have condemned both the overt and covert aggression
of big powers to subvert the Syrian Arab Republic, are also
convinced that such powers' sponsorship of terrorist gangs fall
within the category of official state terrorism. Canada's actions serve
only to further the conflict in Syria and justify foreign intervention
by the U.S. and its allies.
In this regard, Canada and those supporting this
should be careful. What goes around, comes around and, despite
all the back-room screw-tightening, it is far from a given that
UN member states will agree to open the door to measures which
can be used to attack their own sovereignty at any time.
1. Albania, Antigua and Barbadu,
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil,
Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Coatia, Cyprus, Czech
Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France,
Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland,
Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lichtenstein,
Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mexico,
Federated States of Micronesia, Moldova, The Kingdom of the
Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Panama, Peru, Poland,
Portugal, Qatar, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia,
Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand,
Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America and
2. The Soviet Union had earlier been
unable to veto the June 1950 resolution supporting U.S.
intervention in Korea due to its boycott in protest of the
exclusion of the People's Republic of China from the UN.
3. The UN Charter states, under Chapter
I: Purposes and Principles:
"The Organization is based on the principle of the
equality of all its Members." [...]
"All Members shall refrain in their international
from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity
or political independence of any state, or in any other manner
inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."
General Assembly Briefing on
On October 20 a plenary session of the United Nations
General Assembly was held in New York for a briefing on the
humanitarian situation in Syria. The session, which was described as
informal, was called in response to the request by Canada and 70 other
member states for the General Assembly to take up the matter.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, UN Special Envoy for
Syria Staffan de Mistura and John Ging, Director of the Operational
Division of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs addressed the session first. Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister
Stéphane Dion was then the first representative of a member
state to take the floor. He was followed by the representatives of the
Syrian Arab Republic, the U.S., Russia, Iran and several other
In his opening remarks, Ban Ki-moon set the stage for
debate to take up the aim of justifying further foreign
aggression against Syria. Ban conjured up images of situations
where the UN's alleged "failure to act" allowed genocide to be
committed. Ban said people across the world were asking how any
further destruction could be tolerated, if the UN had learned
anything from Srebrenica and Rwanda, and when the international
community would unite to stop the carnage. He called for a
nationwide cessation of hostilities in Syria, for "extremists" to
be "isolated" and said the Syrian Government must agree to ground
its air force over Aleppo. This would require "robust and
credible monitoring and compliance mechanisms," he added,
presumably to be enforced by the U.S. He did not call for the
grounding of the U.S. or other air forces bombing Syrians from
Syrian airspace in flagrant violation of the UN Charter.
Ban also suggested war
crimes and crimes against humanity are
being committed in Syria and concluded by calling for "all of you
to cooperate and fulfill your collective responsibility to
Showing the full-court press mounted by Canada to
pressure for a no-fly zone, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
released a statement just as the meeting was taking place. He too
called for the General Assembly to "act" in the name of a
"collective responsibility to protect."
"I encourage other countries to help generate forward
momentum on Syria, given UN members have a collective responsibility to
protect the world's vulnerable and weak when others cannot or will
not," he said. Such talk is truly criminal as invoking the
"responsibility to protect" is directly aimed at negating the
sovereignty and right to self-determination of Syria against those
forces whose sole aim is regime change and who are fanning the flames
of war inside the country. What kind of momentum is Trudeau trying to
generate in Syria? Canada is one of the parties responsible for having
armed and supported forces inside Syria. It conducted bombings inside
Syria until February 2016 and continues to provide logistical
assistance and perform other duties as part of the U.S. bombing
campaign. Canada has taken no responsibility for inciting war inside
Syria with the aim of regime change but now has the audacity to talk
about the need for the UN to "act."
"I am very proud that our mission at the United
spearheaded by Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard, is leading the
charge to protect the many victims of this tragic conflict,"
Trudeau added, presenting Canada as some sort of a white knight
in shining armour.
Trudeau's comments show clearly that the aim of
initiative in calling the meeting was not to address any problem
facing humanity, but rather to put pressure on Security Council
members to submit to the push for a no-fly zone. "With the
support of 70 other UN countries, Canada is applying as much
diplomatic pressure as possible on the UN Security Council to
break their impasse on Syria," he said. Echoing the pro-war
hysteria seen around Libya in 2011 and countless times before
about the need to "do something," Foreign Minister Dion said in
an interview prior to the meeting "I think it will add to the
pressure for action. Because you will have many countries saying
the same thing, accentuating the sense that inaction is
In his speech Dion pushed for what appears to be Plan
A, an appeal for unity on the Security Council to pass "a strong
resolution." He called the Council's "inability to carry out its
responsibilities... troubling." "We must stop the attempts to block its
efforts," he said.
Dion claimed that the General Assembly "[has] the
responsibility of, collectively, ensuring that international
humanitarian law is respected in the Syrian crisis. All of us
believe in this institution -- in the UN -- and in its ability to
deliver humanitarian aid. Canada is ready to play its part." This
was then used to declare hypocritically, "We cannot allow the
most fundamental rules of our UN system, the rules on which we
all base ourselves and for which we are responsible, to be
disregarded." In other words, Canada claims to uphold
international humanitarian law as the fundamental rule in order
to undermine the UN Charter and founding principles which the
U.S. and its war coalition violate daily in Syria. This is a
cynical attempt to invoke humanitarian principles to justify
military aggression and war.
Dion also referred to Canada's Plan B, a proposal for
the General Assembly to attack its own Charter. "We must also be ready
to use the tools at our disposal to apply pressure and counter attempts
at blocking efforts, including an emergency special session of the UN
General Assembly," he said.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN
Samantha Power made the same
assertion as part of her attempt to demonize the governments of
Russia and Syria. Power referred to Russia and "the Syrian
regime" trampling on the "fundamental principles" the UN was
created to uphold and said that "we" are committed to defending
The UN Ambassador from the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar
Jaafari condemned violations of his country's sovereignty by
those countries such as the U.S., Canada, Britain, Saudi Arabia,
Turkey and others deploying military forces inside Syria without
permission. He also discussed the unilateral pause in bombing
announced by Syria and Russia to evacuate civilians and fighters
from the city of Aleppo via humanitarian corridors.
Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin noted the total
absence of any reference by Secretary-General Ban and Canada to ISIL or
other terrorist groups or to terrorism being an issue in Syria. "What
is happening in this room makes us really puzzled. How come that when
speaking about the situation in Syria, about the toughest humanitarian
situation there, the UN Secretary-General makes no mention about the
terrorist organizations whatsoever -- neither Jebhat al-Nusra nor the
Islamic State? Is tackling terrorism not one of the main goals of the
United Nations?" Churkin said.
Phony Pretexts for Regime Change
Canada's initiative at the United Nations to sanction
aggression against Syria violates the UN Charter which states
that its very raison d'être
is to uphold the sovereignty of
nations. Canada is basing itself on the lie that what it calls
diplomatic options are exhausted. The U.S. imperialists complain
bitterly that Syria has not accepted voluntarily that the U.S.
and NATO countries should dictate its destiny, and that
institutions such as the UN cannot be used to undermine the
sovereignty of its members. As part of creating pretexts for
direct aggression against Syria, the U.S. and its NATO allies are
taking measures that are falsely called diplomatic. These include
sanctions on Syria and Russia, UN Security Council resolutions,
the U.S. feigned commitment to ceasefires involving its sponsored
fighters, as well as fraudulent accusations and provocations
against the Syrian government. When the "diplomatic" measures do
not succeed in accomplishing U.S. aims, the foremost aim of which
is U.S. domination, then the imperialists assert that diplomacy
has failed and aggression is justified.
The hysteria and threats have increased in direct
proportion to the liberation of Syrian territory by the Syrian army and
its allies from foreign-sponsored death squads. The situation in Aleppo
is the particular obsession of the imperialists. There, approximately
1.5 million people live in the government-held western part of the city
and some 250,000 people live under the rule of armed groups in the
east, and the Syrian army is retaking territory lost as far back as
2012. Aleppo is viewed as a prized possession by the imperialists to
use as leverage in devising a "settlement" of the Syria issue based on
dividing the country and parcelling out territory to regional powers
and imposing regime change to install a "friendly" government. Rather
than supporting humanitarian measures such as ceasefires to permit the
evacuation of armed groups and the safe passage of civilians out of
Aleppo, as well as the entry of humanitarian aid, the U.S. is
increasingly desperate to prevent the liberation of the city.
The increasing efforts to create pretexts for
come more than three years after planned U.S. attacks against the
Syrian government fell apart. In August 2012, the U.S.
administration declared a "red line," that it would intervene
militarily if it found "chemical weapons moving around or being
utilized." One year later the pretext came in the form of a sarin
gas attack in a suburb of Damascus, which was immediately blamed
on the Syrian army. However, the "evidence" for the claim was
described as "not a slam dunk" by U.S. intelligence and it became
clear to the world that the attack was a provocation from a
U.S.-supported armed group hoping to trigger military
intervention. Splits within the U.S. ruling elite led to
hesitation and the British government then lost a House of
Commons vote to authorize its military intervention and the U.S.
was forced to back down, instead accepting a proposal for the
Syrian government to relinquish all chemical weapons.
Subsequently the U.S. and NATO member states intervened
in Syria as part of the "Global Coalition to Counter ISIL." Under the
cover of this mission to "degrade" ISIL, U.S. and British special
forces are operating in Syria providing direct assistance to
anti-government rebel groups. Syria has also been subjected to ground
incursions by Turkey and Saudi Arabia and parts of Syrian airspace have
been declared to be under U.S. control. Meanwhile, Syria and others
have questioned the U.S. commitment to fighting ISIL, particularly in
light of the U.S. killing of more than 100 Syrian soldiers in bombings
on September 17, directly assisting ISIL in capturing territory.
The U.S., British and other NATO governments are now
speaking openly about aggression against Syria. British Foreign
Secretary Boris Johnston told the British Parliament's Foreign
Affairs Committee on October 13 that "more kinetic options, the
military options" are being considered. U.S. media report that
officials from the State Department, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs
of Staff have again discussed "limited military strikes"
including bombing of civil and military aviation infrastructure
in the same manner as the first phase of the "no-fly zone" in
Libya in 2011. A "senior administration figure" told U.S. media
that there is "an increased mood in support of kinetic actions
against the regime" and that the liberation of Aleppo by the
Syrian army would "undermine America's counterterrorism goals."
In a taped conversation released by the New York Times on
September 30, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a group
advocating for military intervention in Syria that he supports
launching attacks, but has so far "lost the argument." Another
problem Kerry raised was the lack of a legal basis for the U.S.
to attack the Syrian government. Kerry also lamented the fact
that "A lot of Americans don't believe that we should be fighting
and sending young Americans over to die in another country." One
way to overcome these problems being discussed is to "carry out
the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment," U.S.
Prospect that Election of a U.S. War
Under President Obama the U.S. has conducted bombings
Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen (in
2015 the number of bombs dropped on these countries is estimated to be
23,144, with the vast majority in Iraq and Syria). Extrajudicial
targeted assassinations using drones or other means have become a
mainstay of U.S. foreign policy. As Secretary of State in 2011 Hillary
Clinton championed the U.S. war against Libya and infamously cheered
the assassination of Libya's leader with the macabre phrase, "We came,
we saw, he died."
Hillary Clinton, who is vying to become U.S. war
president in the November 8 elections, has repeatedly called for a
"no-fly zone" in Syria. At the October 19 presidential debate Clinton
stated that she supports the U.S. imposing "a no-fly zone and safe
havens" to "protect the Syrians and prevent the constant outflow of
refugees," and "gain some leverage on both the Syrian government and
the Russians" so as to impose an end to the conflict suitable for the
U.S. Whatever the fraud about the U.S. waging war to protect Syrians,
in a speech to Goldman Sachs bankers in 2013 Clinton was clear that a
"no-fly zone" would "kill a lot of Syrians." Clinton noted, "To have a
no-fly zone you have to take
out all of the air defense, many of which are located in
populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff
missiles so we're not putting our pilots at risk -- you're going
to kill a lot of Syrians... there is still an argument that goes
on inside the administration and inside our friends at NATO and
the Europeans. How [to] intervene -- my view was you intervene as
covertly as is possible for Americans to intervene."
A serious concern is that Clinton thinks that as war
president she can unite the U.S. ruling class and civilian military and
industrial complex around a major war such as against Syria. In this
case, it also poses dangers of World War and an international
confrontation between the big powers threatening humanity itself.
Canadians have a critical role to play to prevent such a conflagration.
End Canada's partnership with U.S. imperialism once and for all by
establishing an anti-war government that gets Canada out of NATO and
NORAD, stands against imperialist aggression and upholds the
sovereignty of nations! Canadians must start now by opposing Canada's
criminal measure at the United Nations, opposing the election of a war
president in the United States and demanding respect for Syria's
Criminalization of Puerto Rican
Mass Rally at White House Demands Immediate
Release of Political Prisoner
Oscar López Rivera
Puerto Rican patriots from Puerto Rico and across
the U.S. held
an Interfaith Freedom Convocation and Cultural Celebration for
Oscar López Rivera at Lafayette Park, in front of the
White House on October 9. The mass rally reiterated the demand
that U.S. President Barack Obama immediately release political
prisoner Oscar López Rivera, who has been unjustly
imprisoned for more than 35 years for his defence of the rights,
dignity and independence of Puerto Rico and its people. The
National Boricua Human Rights Network (Chicago Chapter), one of
the main organizers of the event, informs that more than 2,000
people took part.
Ana M. López, the New York city
coordinator of Free Oscar López Rivera, in a report on the
day's events, described the rally as a "freedom clamor from a
multitude for Oscar López Rivera's unconditional release
[that] made an infinite mark in history. It is an event where 'Oscar
López reports, "People from all walks of life
from more than 30 cities from north to south of the East Coast to
the Midwest and California. Not to mention all that came from
Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. [...]
New York City mobilized 11 buses and a caravan of cars
different parts of the city, where speaker of New York City
Council, Melissa Mark Viverito, urged union workers from
construction, maintenance, hotel, education and health trades to
attend. López writes, "We made our entry by marching
through the streets of DC to the White House, into Lafayette
Park, with 40 [life-]size images of Oscar, chanting "Pres. Obama
listen to me, we want OSCAR LOPEZ FREE!"
Former political prisoners rally
in support of Oscar.
Former Puerto Rican political prisoners including Luis
Ricardo Jimenez, Edwin Cortes (given presidential clemency by
Pres. Bill Clinton) and Felix Rosa -- all of whom have been
relentless in the campaign to Free Oscar -- were present.
writes, "There were many speakers from all walks of life and
representing all political ideologies, a norm for Oscar who has
become the moral power to unify forces. The event was organized
by a coalition in Puerto Rico and the mobilization came from the
Along with ecumenical figures, speakers
included, Congressman Luis Gutiérrez; New York State
representative Adriano Espalliat; New York City Council Speaker
Viverito; candidate for Puerto Rico governor María de
Lourdes Santiago; San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz;
Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union
Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus at Princeton
University Cornel West, who sent a recorded message, and Rene
Perez, El Residente de Calle 13. Danny Rivera, Roy Brown and Tito
Auger and others participated in the cultural event that
followed. Some did interpretations of Juan Antonio Corretjer's
songs and Danny Rivera sang "Tu Pueblo es mi pueblo."
López describes when Oscar's family came onto
stage as the 'high point of the rally.' She writes: "Oscar's
youngest brother, José E. López spoke so eloquently
about the family's desire for 35 years to bring him home. He
related anecdotes of the trials and tribulations and Oscar's
enduring strength that transcended the prison bars to the
Oscar's daughter Clarisa.
Clarisa, Oscar's daughter, said that if all that
on board to work the campaign in the next 105 days -- the number
of days Obama has left in office -- "we can become a force to be
reckoned with and secure Oscar's release."
López concludes, "We called [our event] a
accomplished' in the crunch time of only 5 weeks. Imagine if we
had a year to plan it. We were decolonized in this process
especially when we felt the unity that Oscar promotes and clamor
for freedom he represents.
"We waited to hear from Oscar on this important day, as
are sure he felt all that energy and love. Again, we will record
in our collective memory, the day Oscar was in Pres. Obama's
house. We reiterate, 'Pres. Obama with a stroke of your pen, FREE
Attack on Brazil's Constitution and
Coup Government's Constitutional Amendment Imposes
Cuts to Social Spending
Demonstration in Fortaleza, August 9, 2016 against Temer
government. (Midia Ninja)
The coup government of de facto president Michel Temer
has begun to impose neo-liberal reforms on the broad masses of
Brazilian people through Proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC) 241 as
part of the overall aim of putting all the social wealth at the
disposal of the rich. The first round of voting on PEC 241 took place
in Congress on October 10, passing with a vote of 366 in favour and 111
against, with two abstentions. Changes to PEC 241 were passed on
October 18 by a Special Commission of Congress with the support of 21
legislators against seven opposed. PEC 241 now goes to the Senate
for final approval via two rounds of voting. Mass protests against the
neo-liberal measures continue across the country.
In the days leading up to the first vote in the Chamber
of Deputies, Temer and his supporters whipped up hysteria about a
"catastrophic" situation that will face the country if public spending
is not immediately reined in. On October 9, Temer met with 200
congressmen that back his coup government to bolster support for PEC
241. One of the main arguments given to justify the brutal austerity of
PEC 241 was that it is to spare the people from having to make the
sacrifices that come with a tax increase, Folha de São Paulo reported.
attempted to motivate his base by recounting de facto Finance Minister
Henrique Meireilles' meetings with investors in the U.S., who said they
had faith that the amendment would be approved.
Vermelho, a publication of the Communist Party
of Brazil (PCdoB) points out that Brazil's Constitution, enacted in
1988, is now under the most intense attack by reactionary forces that
have always rejected the economic, political and social advances it
enshrines. In the name of "modernity" they are corrupting the
Constitution to favour powerful private economic interests,
contradicting the need to develop the country and its sovereignty.
PEC 241 amends Brazil's tax system to encourage
and financial speculation, Vermelho explains. It
eliminates the constitutional requirement for public spending on
social programs such as health care and education. Instead,
public spending is now limited to the previous year's inflation
rate for the next 20 years. Meanwhile, interest payments on the
national debt slated in the budget have been left intact. The item from
"The damage to the people is immense. The Constitution
that 18 per cent of federal revenues from taxes should be spent
on education, plus another 25 per cent from the taxes collected
by states and municipalities. In another vital area for people,
health, the mandatory constitutional use of public money
corresponds to a percentage of the country's net revenue going
from the current 13.2 per cent to 15 per cent in 2020. With
regard to education, the National Education Plan states that the
required investments, which are now 7 per cent of GDP should
reach 10 per cent in 2024.
"Another massive attack will be against social
PEC 241 is approved, the damage may exceed or reach R$860
"[...] public debt does not result from private sector
to meet the government's needs. It actually serves the interests
of the financiers to lend to the government so they can snatch up
the extortionate interest paid on the public debt, which
historically ranges between 47 to 50 per cent of the federal
"It is a perverse system in which the state is taken
by financial speculation and profiteering.
"[...] setting a ceiling on public spending will block
development of the country and the people's well-being through
job creation and increased wages. And [PEC 241] favours only high
finance that dominates the country."
Vermelho calls on all progressives and
defend the Constitution and vigorously reject financial
speculation and privileges for the rich.
Background on Brazil's Constitution
The PCdoB explains in an October 5 item the
significance of Brazil's 1988 Constitution, recounting the experience
of Harold Lima, former deputy in the 1988 National Constituent
Assembly, who was very active in work to create the constitution.
"Lima became known at the time the draft constitution
was being debated in Congress. He struggled to incorporate more
democratic proposals and advance some 1,200 amendments, and succeeded
in having several of them approved.
"[... He] pointed out that the Constitution was a great
victory of the Brazilian people and was achieved after many battles in
the 21-year fight against the military dictatorship. 'The Constitution
is the outcome of this struggle, and it is therefore a progressive
victory. It was made at a time when the people were mobilized and
attentive in defence of their rights, in defence of their nationality,'
"[He] cited the fifth chapter of the Constitution which
him is the most complete and up to date in the world regarding
individual and collective rights. This Article extended the
rights of individuals and allowed their protection in various
"'All are equal before the law, without distinction of
kind, guaranteeing to Brazilians and foreigners residing in the
country the inviolable right to life, liberty, equality [...],'
says the accompanying article 78.
"The fifth chapter is the most important contained in
Constitution, also called the 'Citizen
Constitution.' One of its fundamental principles is that of equality."
Lima points out that the Constitution is only realized
when the people are organized on the basis of progressive views. To
demobilize the people and promote backward ideas is to end everything
positive for the people, he said, adding that everyone must celebrate
and collectively defend the current constitution.
Aldo Arantes who served as a federal deputy of the
PCdoB four times, highlights the Constitution as a vital element in
defending the democratic rule of law. He said that the attack on
constitutional rights through PEC 241 is the formalization of the coup
that culminated in the impeachment of President Rousseff.
Aldo points out that the coup government will carry out
further neo-liberal measures to alter the Constitution to meet the
needs of the market, rather than the people.
Aldo urges the people to build their forces to take
action against the neo-liberal offensive: "It is time to focus on the
struggle for democracy, centering on the struggle in defence of the
Constitution against neo-liberal policies, for rights, progressive
labour reforms, tax reform [...]"
Mass Actions in Defence of Social Programs
Demonstration in São Paulo, October 10, 2016.
Members of social movements, political organizations and
collectives, as well as
civil society representatives took part in a mass
demonstration on October 17 in Rio de Janeiro against the Temer
government's Proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC) 241 and its
attack on rights. An estimated 5,000 people took part. This
action followed mass protests in São Paulo on October 10 and
Porto Alegre on October 11 also to denounce PEC 241.
Demonstrators face state repression in Porto Alegre, October 10, 2016.
Meanwhile, highschool students are occupying schools
across the country in protest of the Temer regime's plans to cut
funding for public education. The neo-liberal reforms to public
education were announced in September and are in addition to those
contained in PEC 241. The actions began in the southern state of Parana
on October 3 and spread to other states. As of October 9, students
occupied some 60 schools. The website of the Workers' Party reported on
October 20 that occupations are now taking place in at least 1,000
highschools and more than 20 universities.
High school students occupy schools across the country.
In Parana, the public school teachers' union (APP)
issued a statement October 7 to recognize that the occupations are
aimed at defending quality public education and to voice the concerns
that teachers also share. The union announced it has plans to strike.
"We reject the proposals of Michel Temer's government
threaten education," said teacher and APP President Hermes Leao
in the statement, adding that teachers welcome the students'
actions. "We will not accept a rollback of workers' rights, much
less unilateral and arbitrary decisions to change education."
The Brazilian Union of Secondary Students has called
donations, including food and toiletries, to help sustain the
Students from all campuses of Recôncavo da Bahia University
vote to join the protests, October 20,
Spurious Case Against Former
President Da Silva
The reactionary forces
behind the trumped up impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff of the
Workers' Party (PT) are pursuing a similarly spurious case against
Rousseff's predecessor Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva also of the
PT. Brazil only permits a president to hold office for two
consecutive terms. Thus, despite exceptional popularity amongst the
people, whose living and working conditions greatly improved during his
tenure, Lula stepped down after serving two terms as president, from
2003 to 2010 and is the honorary president of the PT. He is
widely expected to run for president in the next election to defend the
social gains achieved by the workers and people and to build on them.
TML is posting below
an October 8 article by Lula
entitled, "Why They Want to Condemn Me."
For more than 40 years as a public figure, my personal
life has been continuously scrutinized -- by public security agencies,
political adversaries, the press. Because I have worked for the
workers' freedom to organize, I was even arrested and sentenced
for subversion by the infamous National Security Law of the Brazilian
dictatorship. But they have never found a single illegal act from my
I know what I did before, during and after I was
I have never committed a crime, I have never done anything that
might stain my reputation.
Lula speaks at rally against the coup,
June 10, 2016.
I was the president of Brazil with integrity and
dedication because I knew that a worker could not make any mistakes as
president. The false accusations they have made against me were not
intended to harm me as a person, but the political project that I have
always represented: a country with more justice and opportunities for
Now, shortly before my 71st birthday, I see my name at
center of a real judicial hunt. They have investigated my
personal accounts thoroughly, as they did with my wife's and my
children's; they wiretapped my phones and disclosed the contents
of my calls; they invaded my home and forced me to testify in a
bench warrant, without a plausible reason or legal grounds.
They are looking for a crime to accuse me of, but they
haven't found one and they will not find one.
Ever since this hunt began, during the 2014
presidential campaign, I have travelled along the course of Law, but I
never gave up my plans. I still travel across the country, I meet with
labour unions and representatives of social movements and leaders of
political parties to debate and defend the project to change this
I didn't stop to lament nor did I give up the fight for
equality and social justice. In these meetings, I renew my faith
in the Brazilian people and in the future of the country.
I can verify that every achievement we reached during
the PT administrations is still alive in our people's
memory and they include the projects of Bolsa Família, Luz Para
Todos, Minha Casa, Minha Vida, the new Pronaf (National Program to
Strengthen Family Farming), the Program for Food Purchasing, the
appreciation of workers' salaries -- altogether, these programs drove
the biggest social ascension in the history of Brazil.
Our people will never forget the millions of young,
poor people who have obtained more access to a college education.
Brazilians will resist the current setbacks because Brazil wants
more, and not fewer, rights.
I cannot keep quiet, however, when I see the abuses
performed by government agents who use the law as an instrument of
political persecution. That was made clear in the second round of the
municipal elections. All you have to do is to see how the PT has been
the target of a hunt: the acceptance of an accusation
against me, five days after it was presented, and the arrest of two
former ministers of my administration were theatrical episodes that
certainly affected the results of the elections.
I have never performed, authorized or benefited from
illegal acts in Petrobras or any other government sector. Since the
2014 election campaign, we have heard the narrative that the PT is no
longer a political party, but a "criminal organization,"
and that I was the leader of this organization.
This idea has been reinforced over and over again by
newspaper headlines, magazine covers, on the radio and on
television. The idea must be proved by force, as "there aren't
facts, but convictions."
I believe that those who accuse me really believe in
malicious thesis, perhaps judging everybody else according to
their own moral standards. But the fallacy of this story is quite
clear, especially given the difference between the billion dollar
embezzlements under investigation and what they say is the fruit
of the alleged plunder of the "head of the criminal
I also see a dangerous ignorance on the part of agents
law regarding the way the government and the institutions
I reached this conclusion during the testimonies that I
gave and that were written down by police chiefs and public prosecutors
who did not know how a coalition government works, the proceedings of a
provisional measure or of a bidding process, or even how the joint and
technical analyses and approvals of financing in a public bank, such as
the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), work.
Besides, during these testimonies, I was never
questioned on the hypothesis underlying the accusation. I really
have the impression that they were nothing but empty bureaucratic
rites, to perform the official steps and carry out formal
proceedings. Certainly they did not serve the concrete exercise
of the right to a defence.
Two years after these operations, which were always
with much fanfare, they did not manage to find anything they
could use to connect my name to the embezzlements under
Not even a single penny did I fail to declare, nor did
find a front company or a hidden account.
I have lived in the same apartment in São
Bernardo for the
last 20 years. Among the dozens of defendant informers, none of
them said they had any illegal or dishonest business with me, in
spite of the public agents' insistence for them to do so, and
even with the possibility of benefiting from doing so.
The careless, disproportionate accusations, without any
legal grounds, are surprising and disgusting -- in much the same way
the judges process them with diligence.
They don't care for facts, evidence and correct legal
proceedings any more. They accuse and process the accusations
based on mere belief -- and the fact that the higher courts and
agencies of functional control take absolutely no measures
regarding it is very serious.
They have accused me, for example, of having received
apartment from illegal sources -- an apartment that has never
belonged to me simply because I did not want to buy it when the
opportunity arose, not even after it was renovated -- which would
make its price increase, obviously. As it is impossible to
demonstrate that the apartment belongs to me, because it never
did, I have been accused of hiding it, in a surrealistic
I have also been accused of corruption as I allegedly
lectures to companies investigated by the Federal Police's Operation
How can I be accused of corruption if I haven't had a
job since 2011, when I began to give these lectures? And what
relation could there be between the embezzlements in Petrobras
and the lectures, all of them recorded, which I gave to 42
companies and organizations of various sectors, not only the five
under investigation, charging the same price and paying taxes on
Those who accuse me know that I did not steal, that I
was never corrupted and never tried to block investigations -- but they
cannot admit it. They cannot go back after the massacre they have
promoted in the press.
They became prisoners of the lies they created, most of
from factious or poorly investigated news reports. They are
condemned to condemn and they must keep in mind that, if I am not
arrested, they will be demoralized in the eyes of the public.
I try to see this hunt as part of a political dispute,
although it is a disgusting way of fighting. They are not trying
to condemn Lula: they are after the political project that I
represent along with millions of Brazilians.
In their attempt to destroy a way of thinking, they are
destroying the pillars of democracy in Brazil.
We must stress that we, members of the PT,
have always supported the investigations, trials and punishment of
those who embezzle public money, the money that belongs to the people.
That is not a rhetorical statement: we fight corruption in practice.
No other person has done so much to create transparency
mechanisms as well as those to control public funds, to
strengthen the Brazilian Federal Police, the Brazilian Internal
Revenue Agency and the Public Prosecutor's Office. We have worked
hard to approve in Congress more efficient laws against
corruption and organized crime. That was recognized even by the
prosecutors who are accusing us now.
My mind is at ease and I have the Brazilian people's
recognition. I believe that, sooner or later, justice and the
truth will prevail, even if it only occurs in the history
What worries me and all those who truly defend
the continuous violations against the democratic state ruled by
law. It is the shadow of the state of exception that is beginning
to rise in the country.
Peace Process in Colombia
"March of Light" for Peace, Bogotá, Colombia, October 20, 2016.
After the Peace Agreement signed between the government
Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People's
Army (FARC-EP) was narrowly rejected in the October 2 plebiscite,
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the government would
only maintain its side of the bilateral ceasefire until October
31. Then on October 14 Santos announced an extension to December
31. In a televised address, Santos said the decision came after
meeting student leaders who organized marches in support of
peace. "One of the students reminded me that in the army and in
the guerrilla ranks, there are young people waiting to see what
happens, hoping that they don't need to fire another shot," he
In a communiqué the same day, the Central High
Command of FARC-EP welcomed the government's decision and reaffirmed
observance of the ceasefire. The Central High Command informed
that it is putting its full attention behind evaluating the
latest proposals that have been received to advance peace,
"always giving priority to defending the most heartfelt interests
and dignity of the Colombian people." They also pledged to
"confront in the field of ideas all those who try to hinder
Women march for peace in Bogotá.
FARC-EP praised the mass demonstrations that have been
place on a daily basis around Colombia and abroad in support of
peace and for the implementation of the Peace Agreement reached
in Havana without further delay.
National Day for Political Prisoners Observed in
October 15 marked
Colombia's National Day for Political
Prisoners, the History of Resistance and Dignity. It marks the capture
and execution of union leader Luis Carlos Cárdenas
Arbeláez in the city of Medellín by the Colombian state
The date is used to commemorate the thousands of political
prisoners held in Colombian jails and denounce the state's use of
imprisonment and repression as a response to protest. October 15
took on a new significance this year as a result of the
development and implementation of the General Agreement for the
Termination of the Conflict, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace
component and the Amnesty Law for what are classified as
"political and related crimes" associated with the internal armed
conflict contained in the Final Peace Agreement reached between
the FARC-EP and the Colombian government.
The National Secretariat of the FARC-EP noted however
the repressive nature of the state remains, and pointed out that
the Colombian government "introduced the model of U.S. punishment
exported from the Federal Bureau of Prisons of the United States
Department of Justice, implementing... a prison model for the
enforcement of punishment to the growing and legitimate
mobilizations and social protests of Colombians." The National
Secretariat affirmed that despite the setback of the October 2
plebiscite, it holds as "an unavoidable principle, the exit from
prisons of all our comrades and civilian prisoners accused or
convicted of collaborating with the FARC-EP" and insists on
amnesty as a prerequisite for a stable and lasting peace.
The FARC-EP National Secretariat called for October 15
an occasion to "pay special tribute to all women and men whose
imprisonment is another trench of struggle, who display the
highest morality and dignity, and for whom the bars do not dent
their desire for peace with social justice."
Paramilitary Violence Continues
March for the Dignity of the Victims, October 20, 2016, by all those
victimized by the
state terrorism unleashed against the Unión Patriotica Party.
On October 19 rural activist Esneider González, a
member of the Art, Peace and Life Victims' Association and the social
and political movement Marcha Patriotica was the subject of an
assassination attempt at the door of his house in Corinto in the
department of Cauca. He was shot several times by an unknown assailant
but survived and is recovering. González is reported
to have participated earlier this year in a visit by the United
Nations-led Monitoring and Verification mission to a property where
FARC-EP members in the region were to gather for six months in
preparation for re-integration into civilian life and to hand over
their weapons under the terms of the peace accord. There have been
seven human rights defenders assassinated in Cauca so far this year.
Three days earlier Ymer Chavez Rivera was shot and killed outside
his home by hooded men on a motorcycle. Chavez was a member of
the Campesino and People's Guard which worked to protect and
implement peace and justice in rural communities. A statement
from the The Organization for Urban and Campesino Development
which created the Campesino and People's Guards said that despite
the advances in the peace process, "The Department of Cauca has
been affected by an increasing number of attacks and threats
against the men and women who organize the defence of the
Another report from an organization that tracks
human rights defenders in Colombia identified 19 activists who
were killed between July and September, mostly by paramilitaries
where the perpetrators are known. That organization noted that
several attacks were carried out during the campaign for the
plebiscite and pointed out that this kind of intimidation
contributed to the victory of the No camp.
March for Peace, Corozal, Department of Sucre, October 18, 2016.
A separate report presented this week to the UN Human
Council by the Colombia-Europe-United States Coordinator
representing 269 human rights organizations provided evidence of
continuing systematic human and civil rights violations in
Colombia along with insufficient implementation of policies and
legal provisions to address the situation. Commenting on the
report the FARC-EP said that it "raises serious concerns on the
capability of the State to guarantee basic human and civil
rights, the political willingness to overcome the systematic
violation of these rights by the State and paramilitary forces,
and the highly anticipated end of the armed conflict." It also
points out that this is all the more reason for implementation of
the Peace Agreement with victims' rights at its core, not to be
further held up. The Colombian people continue to fill the
streets and main squares of their cities, towns and villages to
raise the same demand, many under the banner "Acuerdo Ya!"
"Garden of Memories" in Bogotá, October 20, 2016, honours the
activists killed by state and paramilitary forces.
Interview with FARC Commander Iván
Mass rally for peace fills Plaza Bolivar in Bogotá, October 20,
2016. (D. Gereda)
TML Weekly is providing below an interview with
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP)
Commander and Secretariat member Iván Márquez, who
was also the head of the FARC-EP Peace Delegation in Havana,
Cuba. The interview was published by BBC Mundo on October 13, eleven
days after a "No" vote prevailed in the plebiscite on the Peace
Agreement between FARC-EP and the Colombian government. It is
republished from the website of the FARC-EP Peace Delegation.
BBC: In the past few weeks, many
occurred regarding the peace process. Do you feel under high
The truth is that we have
worked in a relaxed manner. There's no problem, we understand the
situation that has arisen. There is a technical draw between the
No and Yes in the plebiscite. The No-vote didn't obtain an
absolute majority, but it has an Achilles heel, and that is that
it was constructed on the basis of lies. The head of the No
campaign himself, Mr. Juan Carlos Vélez, has confessed it,
so this left one of the No-vote sectors in a very weak position,
which is Senator Alvaro Uribe's sector.
The No-vote is very diverse. The six million No-votes
don't correspond to Uribe [and] Vélez, but Christians are also
represented there. And other sectors of society that based on their own
reasons and conviction resolved to give a No to the president's
The Havana Final Agreement, signed in Cartagena, is not
judged here, but rather the political action of the President,
because plebiscites don't have any legal reach.
BBC: Which do you consider are the
IM: We are not talking about
non-negotiables. We are pleased to [have] an agreement that contains
sufficient elements to start the construction of a stable and
lasting peace for Colombians.
Achieving peace and reconciliation is what interests us
BBC: But obviously some sort of
will have to begin in order to include some points of the No campaign.
The supporters of this option reject for leaders who
have committed war crimes to not go to jail and be able to be
elected for public office.
IM: The No campaign was based on
There has been an unacceptable manipulation of public opinion
which has been demonstrated. That is how media in Colombia
captured it and some No promoters recognize it. It's the case of
Juan Carlos Vélez.
There will not be impunity. The Special Jurisdiction
Peace does not contemplate the possibility that non-amnesty
eligible and unpardonable crimes go unpunished.
There is a sanction, I want to reiterate. But it is a
restorative sanction, reparative.
I want to underline this. The Special Jurisdiction for
is not just for the FARC, it is for everyone involved in the
conflict, including high ranking politicians, the military,
entrepreneurs, guerrillas, paramilitaries, police, and directors
of mass media that daily promote war.
The Special Jurisdiction
for Peace is for everyone involved
in the conflict, we must start from that base, because otherwise
we can make mistakes in the approaches we have of the Colombian
BBC: But you, Iván
willing to go to jail a few years?
IM: We will provide truth. Your
is out of place because it does not consult the Special
Jurisdiction for Peace. This provides prison for those who don't
provide truth. Those, who refuse to go to the Peace Courts, have
to pay a punitive sanction and should go to jail.
What is the novelty of this jurisdiction? That truth
provided in order to heal wounds, that one will take
responsibility and if the action is framed within what is
non-pardonable, consistent with International Humanitarian
Law, there will be no impunity, but rather be treated with a
novel process that is restorative.
BBC: But if that's not enough not
the No campaign but for a majority of Colombians?
IM: Most Colombians want peace. Have
you seen similar demonstrations to those that have occurred in the
country -- in Bogotá, Medellín, Cali -- to leave behind
years of war, which is what some sectors don't want?
BBC: They want peace, it's evident.
the slogan said: "No, not like that." And there's the problem
that you have.
IM: It is what we have agreed, how
not going to be like that? If the elements that can really lead
us to peace exist. Do they want peace? Well, here we have an
instrument in our hands which is called [the] Final Agreement. Let's
Let's add to it, yes, as you suggested at the beginning
the interview, some approaches to enrich the Final Agreement and
thus have a strong agreement with the support of the whole
For now, what is the No campaign doing and specifically
sector of politicians? They are delaying, delaying the process to
take it to a crossroads, to a situation where the process ends.
And Colombia does not want that.
BBC: How are the troops right now?
IM: No, the mood of the troops --
respond paraphrasing the poet Pablo Neruda: "the spirit and
morale is so high that it touches the invisible chest of the
People are on the lookout, yes, waiting to know the
developments that they know we are trying to realize both in
Bogotá and Havana.
We are working hard to seek legal and political
formulas, because we need to listen to the No and Yes [voters], and we
will also listen to the abstainers -- over 60 per cent who abstained
from voting in Colombia.
It's fair for us to listen but also [remark] on one
thing: that we held thematic forums in which most sectors participated.
We received those opinions in Havana and we reflected them in the
In that aspect, we feel calm and satisfied because we
to take the thought and vision that the Colombian social and
political movement has into the agreements we signed.
BBC: Does the guerrilla feel in a
IM: This situation of uncertainty
be quickly resolved. That is why we reaffirm that the delay that
one of the No sectors intends is to finish the peace process, but
Colombians are not willing to do that. The country has clearly
demonstrated this through its massive demonstrations across the
BBC: Do you [the FARC] fear
IM: Not really. That fear does not
in the FARC leadership. We have been clear and precise, and I say
so especially after [holding] the 10th Conference of the FARC,
where the peace delegation of the FARC in Havana received the
unanimous endorsement of the conducted policy deployed in the
BBC: Under the current conditions,
longer can you [the FARC] continue without having a determined final
IM: What you mention is correct,
in mind that we are not charging taxes to any company at this
time. We are making use of a war economy, of an amount of resources
that we still have in order to maintain an army. That's not easy and it
requires many, many economic resources.
We have many items, such as food, sustenance, provision
guerrilla, health, transport. It is an army and it demands
BBC: You earlier said "we have no
fact, the No campaign used that line against you. Then, the day
before voting, you said that you would pay compensation to the
IM: There was a statement of the
reference to the existence of a war economy. It is obvious that
the FARC has to live on something. We need to cultivate the land.
That may be [considered] a good.
We also have assets, like cattle, where we get milk,
cheese that the guerrillas eat. And some blocks may have some
savings, and that's what we referred to. They are funds that go
into what we call war economy. So that's why we have to speed
this up [peace process], because these can run out. It's not true
that the FARC are a rich organization like these malicious
BBC: Is it an option for you to go
IM: We would not desire to return
Colombia deserves no more wars. I remember the words of the Comandante Alfonso
Cano at the end of the [unsuccessful] peace
talks with the Gaviria administration [early '90s] in Tlaxcala,
Mexico, when he said with sadness: "See
Colombia [cannot] withstand any more victimization; it
to make better efforts to achieve reconciliation, peace.
And as I'm telling you, in the final agreement is the
the formula, is the roadmap to peace, with dignity, which is what
we want. With extensive democracy, as broad as possible, with
BBC: The way you speak, it sounds as
peace process is not in crisis, but to the rest of the world it
seems like it is...
IM: We are optimistic about the
are not discouraged by the problems. We have faced the most
serious ones in all of this history of resistance and this is not
going to discourage us.
We are sure that there are political and legal
will allow this peace process to move forward very soon.
BBC: What's the next step for you?
IM: We will meet again with the
in the next days. Today [October 12] we have a meeting to agree on
the terms of the protocol on definitive cease of fire and of
We are thinking about the possibility of regrouping our
force at some places, so we need to agree on the content of those
protocols in order to ask the United Nations for its tripartite mission
and its monitoring and verification mechanism to begin acting to
preserve the absence of armed confrontation that Colombia experiences
We have to protect this sort of armistice that we
BBC: During these years of
seemed like it was ultimately a process between the government of
Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC, it seems that the former
president Uribe has as much to say as these two actors.
IM: I would not like to talk about
Uribe or his positions. Those are his convictions, we have ours.
We think that Colombia doesn't deserve war.
Uribe had eight years to try to militarily destroy the
and could not do so. If he could not win the war, he should allow
Colombians to make peace. That's what we ask.
BBC: You met with the BBC a year ago
In a year from now, will we see each other here again?
IM: We hope that this situation
resolved soon and we are working in that direction. The
discussion cannot be eternal because we have discussed for over
five years now.
We Colombians are special. Colombia is a great Macondo,
the Macondo of
García Márquez where so many improbable
things happen. And it's implausible for people to rule against
the action of a president who wants peace for Colombia.
1. See "Significance
Villamizar, TML Weekly,
8, 2016 - No. 39.
Weekly, October 8, 2016 - No. 39.
Toronto Rally Affirms Demand for Peace
A vigorous rally was held
in downtown Toronto at Dundas Square on October 16 to affirm the
Colombian people's demand for peace with social justice. The action
made clear that despite the victory of the No vote in the October 2
plebiscite on the peace accord between the Colombian government and the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army, implementation of
the accord remains the order of the day. Moreover, the demand for peace
with social justice belongs to the people who seek the social and
political reforms that address the injustices and oppression that are
at the base of the civil war, and to build national unity. The action
brought together many people of Colombian background and others from
the Latin American community, as well as peace and political activists,
including many youth.
The loud chants of "Peace in Colombia Now!" along with
group of drummers that led a march around the square drew the
attention of passers-by to this important issue.
Organizers of the rally informed that the Colombian
rather than being demoralized by the October 2 result, have taken
to the streets in support of the peace agreement and to urge both
sides to the agreement to maintain the conditions for peace until
the accord is realized.
A letter to the Colombian
government, presented in the form of a long banner to be delivered to
the Colombian Consulate, was signed by many at the rally. It stated in
"We want peace with social justice; we defend the agreement
reached in Havana; we stand together with the victims of the
armed conflict in their search for truth, justice, reparations
and the guarantee of non-repetition; we demand an agreement with
a focus on gender and that guarantees the rights of women; we
want an integral rural reform; we aspire to an opening to the
political system; and we want an agreement that integrates a
culture of reconciliation, to live together in tolerance and
without stigmatization ... and we want it now!"
One of the participants who spoke to TML at the rally decried the
negative role played by reactionary forces in Colombia in the
plebiscite, particularly former President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe. She
pointed out that the most irrational reactionary propaganda was spread
to create hysteria about the peace accord in order to defeat the
plebiscite. Besides this, she pointed to the fact that voter turnout
was low and the plebiscite is non-binding, and so this supposed
rejection of peace is hardly the last word and the people will continue
to work to see that the peace agreement is realized.
All Out to End U.S. Blockade on Cuba
Worldwide Actions on Eve of Annual UN Vote
As the annual vote in the UN General Assembly on Cuba's
resolution "Need to put an end to the economic, commercial and
financial blockade imposed by the United States of America
against Cuba" approaches on October 26, across Cuba, in Canada,
and around the world, actions are being held to once again send a
clear message to the U.S. government to end its illegal blockade
of Cuba immediately. Many of these actions took place on October 17, as
the 2015 Panama Summit of the Peoples has declared the 17th of each
a day to fight the U.S. blockade. Meanwhile, on social media, tweets
with the hashtags #MyVoteVsBlockade #YoVotoVsBloqueo and #CubaVsBloqueo
along with selfies of people holding up slogans opposing the blockade
continue to spread.
Internationally, governments from all continents have
adding to the positive momentum for another overwhelming vote in
Cuba's favour by issuing statements and declarations to demand an
immediate end to the blockade. Last year's vote was 191 to two
(the U.S. and Israel).
For decades, the unjust blockade has attacked the Cuban
people's human rights, including their right to choose their own
destiny free from outside interference, in the name of defending
human rights. Like the rest of the U.S. policies aimed at
undermining Cuba, the blockade has failed to deter the Cuban
people from their conviction in their principles that created
their human-centred society and permit them to carry out
unprecedented acts of internationalist solidarity. The blockade
remains a major outstanding impediment to normalizing
relations between the two countries, which the U.S. has committed
On October 14, U.S. President Barack Obama issued a
to consolidate the changes being made to the U.S. policy on Cuba,
and to make the new policy irreversible. In a press release, the
diplomatic mission described the directive as positive and
significant, but qualified its assessment, saying that the
directive is very limited in its nature and in general, the
new measures are more beneficial to the United States than to the
Cuban people. It denounced the persistence of the blockade and
reiterated the need to end it once and for all.
On October 17, youth and students across Cuba held a day
actions entitled, "Swarm Against the Blockade." The University of
Havana hosted the main events.
Prizes for the winners of the #YoVotoVsBloqueo Selfies
Competition promoted on social networks via @cubavsbloqueo were
also awarded. Meanwhile, three new related cell phone apps,
developed by students and staff at the University of Computer
Sciences, were launched. Cuban television provided live coverage
of the events in Havana.
Jennifer Bello, National President of the Cuban
Student Federation (FEU) said the actions "voice our condemnation
of such a monstrous policy and demand its total elimination." She
spoke to the Cuban News Agency about the program at the
University of Havana. Nearly all university facilities were
turned into tribunes for the day for the youth to condemn the
U.S. policy, in coordination with other Cuban universities.
Visual arts were a major activity with students painting
colourful messages against the blockade on a huge panel. Sports,
audiovisual presentations, book fairs, a camp set up by the children's
Pioneer organization, and other events were also part of the program.
The student leader highlighted the conversation with
general director for the United States at the Cuban Foreign
Ministry Josefina Vidal. Parts of the exchange with Vidal were
uploaded to social media networks.
"We want our message to multiply and reach millions of
and honest people around the world, so that they join in, because
like in many other battles already waged, unity and solidarity
will lead to our victory," said Bello.
A week earlier, on October 12, the 13th Forum of
Organizations of Cuban Civil Society, adopted a statement rejecting the
blockade. The forum included representatives of youth, student,
scientific, cultural and social organizations, as well as religious and
fraternal groups. Sponsored by the Cuban United Nations Association,
the meeting was held in the Raúl Roa García Higher
Institute of International Relations, with the participation of more
than twenty speakers.
Session of 13th Forum of Organizations of Cuban Civil Society, October
Solidarity activists and friends of Cuba held pickets
U.S. diplomatic missions on October 17 to call for an end to the
blockade and the immediate return of Guantánamo. In particular,
activists from Ottawa and Gatineau continued their monthly pickets at
the U.S. Embassy, while activists in Vancouver held their monthly
action at the U.S. Consulate. Members of the Table de concertation de
solidarité Québec-Cuba rallied in Montreal that same day.
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