February 11, 2017 - No. 4

Canada-U.S. Relations and Fight to Affirm Rights

Urgent Need to Develop Concrete Work in Defence of the Rights of All

Trudeau Goes to Washington -- Nothing Good Will Come of
Repeating False Ideological Beliefs
- Pauline Easton -
Step Up the Struggle to Get Canada Out of NATO and
All Other Aggressive Military Alliances!

- Margaret Villamizar -

Carleton University Students and Professors Develop Work
in Defence of Rights

Petition Opposes University's Promotion of Use of Police
Powers to Suppress Speech

End Carleton University's Support of Group Promoting Use of
Bill C-51 Against Protesters

Carleton University's Infrastructure Resilience Research Group
What Comprises Critical Infrastructure?
- Sam Heaton -

Opposition to Toronto Meeting of Conference of American Armies
Armed Forces of the Americas Coordinate "Domestic Operations"
An Unacceptable Enterprise 
- Charlie Vita -

Significance of Talk of Balanced and Fair Trade
Between Canada and U.S.

- K.C. Adams -

Fifth Summit of Community of Latin American and Caribbean States
Meeting Reaffirms Latin America and the Caribbean
as a Zone of Peace

Gathering of Social Movements and Political Forces
Never Has It Been More Necessary to Effectively Advance
Along the Path of Unity

- Raúl Castro -

Canada-U.S. Relations and Fight to Affirm Rights

Urgent Need to Develop Concrete Work in
Defence of the Rights of All

Rally outside U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, January 30, 2017, one of many across Canada in
defence of rights, and against use of police powers.

This year has already witnessed important mobilizations of the people in the United States and Canada in defence of rights. The mass mobilizations involving people from all walks of life have been without precedent. People have risen en masse against the use of police powers and the executive orders of U.S. President Donald Trump on immigration, the wall on its southern border and banning entry into the United States by the citizens of seven countries for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days. The events culminated this week in the decision of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a stay of Trump's order discriminating against Muslims. Meanwhile, increased raids in cities across the U.S. by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rounding up for deportation working families, women and children labelled "illegal" have sparked other mass mobilizations in opposition.

Protest against immigration raids in downtown Los Angeles, February 9, 2017.

The mass mobilizations underscore the reality that the peoples are facing an unprecedented danger from the unfettered use of police powers. While Trump is doing everything in his power to break through the limits of the constitution, others are doing their utmost to maintain the constitutional form. Not just in the United States but also in Canada and other countries, arrangements are being pushed that claim legality and justification for the use of police powers to deprive the people of their rights. It is clear that current constitutional forms are anachronistic, unable to sort out the contradictions either within the ruling class or between the rulers and the people. For the people the fight has become to provide democracy with an altogether modern definition which provides rights with a guarantee the people can defend. A democracy which does not permit the people to hold the rulers to account is not a democracy which serves them.

In this issue, TML Weekly is providing information on some of the developments taking place, beginning with Prime Minister Trudeau's visit to Washington and the attempt to divert the attention of Canadians from the need to provide a new direction for the economy and Canada-U.S. relations. TML Weekly also calls on its readers to vigorously support all those who are fighting in Canada for the affirmation of rights against state-sanctioned usurpation. We bring to readers' attention the work of students and professors at Carleton University in Ottawa who are taking further action to stop the use of their university by state and private agencies to deprive people of their rights Canada-wide. On February 8, they launched a petition calling on the university to end its support to a group called the Infrastructure Resilience Research Group (IRRG) coordinating the use of Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 against protestors and activists. The decision to launch a petition was taken at a previous meeting last November 22 when students, joined by several professors, discussed the urgent need to step up opposition to the university permitting Carleton campus to be used for criminalizing speech and the people fighting for rights. The petition was distributed and students decided to begin a campaign of collecting signatures, including holding class talks, contacting professors and circulating it online and wherever students gather.

This week, activists in Toronto also organized opposition to the unacceptable Conference of American Armies held in that city on February 9. The Conference was meant to further coordinate the armed forces of the Americas in conducting "Domestic Operations" against the peoples.

Weekly actions in Vancouver also continue to inform residents of the dangers of Bill C-51 and demand its repeal. These actions bring attention to the Trudeau government's continued support for the enforcement of police powers contained in that legislation, which it argues is necessary.

100th Weekly Action to Repeal Bill C-51, Vancouver, January 30, 2017

TML Weekly calls on the working people and youth and all those who uphold the cause of rights to step up their interventions to ensure the efforts to justify unfettered use of police powers and arrangements to execute them do not succeed. These arrangements criminalize speech and conscience. In the name of high ideals, they turn the conception of rights upside down, destroying acquired civil rights and further disempowering the people.

Arrangements in the form of a social contract and civil society along with representative governments were established some 250 years ago to deprive the autocrats of unfettered power based on alleged divine right. The rising capitalist class required security for its ownership of property and predictability to enter into and protect its business deals. The arrangements which were brought in and definition of rights have since been usurped, first by monopolies and now by even more powerful global oligopolies, depriving the vast majority of the working people of any control over their lives. Definitions and arrangements established over the past 250 years are no longer adequate to meet the needs of the times.

Instead of a renewal of the arrangements and definitions, including the covenant enshrining the conception of rights on which society is based, the current rulers present the people with a government of police powers masquerading as a government of laws. These changes underscore the need for the people to go to the essence of what it means to defend rights to guarantee their security, what it means to uphold the right to conscience and speech, and why this period needs modern definitions and arrangements that uphold the rights of all, which people possess by virtue of being human. How to hold those who govern to account has become the overriding concern of humankind.

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Trudeau Goes to Washington -- Nothing Good Will Come of Repeating False Ideological Beliefs

Prime Minister Trudeau is confirmed to visit Washington, DC and meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday, February 13. Trudeau's decision notably "breaks with tradition" of a newly elected president first visiting Canada. He does not risk having Trump come to Canada where it could be predicted that practically the entire country would protest, creating a security nightmare. The venue for the meeting notwithstanding, Canada's relationship with the United States poses grave dangers to the well-being of the Canadian people as well as contributes to the increasing preparations for a devastating world war.

Canadians are concerned with the developments here and in the U.S., with the direction of the economy, the erosion of the rights of all, the escalating war preparations and the all-round anti-social offensive against the peoples of the world. To divert attention from these serious issues and the domination of the U.S. over Canada, the relations are being touted as being mutually beneficial. Kate Purchase, communications director of the Prime Minister's Office said, "They [Trudeau and Trump] look forward to discussing the unique relationship between Canada and the United States of America and how we can continue to work hard for middle-class Canadians and Americans, together." The main items on the agenda are said to be Canada-U.S. trade, and the military and security relations.

Derek Burney, a former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. and advisor to Trudeau and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, says Trudeau will "make the point that our relations are not like others." To disinform Canadians of the issues at stake, Burney has become a mouthpiece for a government line emphasizing "similarities" between Trudeau and Trump: "Those guys were both not expected to win and they both won. They are both creatures of social media. So they have a lot in common. They don't have an ideology in common but does anybody really know what Donald Trump's ideology is? Even Republicans don't know."

This approach to bolster the image that Trudeau is a match for Trump has as its main concern to promote the view that the problem with Trump is his extreme right-wing ideology, but that as a businessman and negotiator, common ground can be found. This attempts to shore up the disinformation that Trudeau is "progressive" and deserves to have Canadians stand behind him against the dangerous Trump. In fact, the same oligopolies are fighting it out for power within both the United States and Canada and serving those powerful private interests is indeed what both Trudeau and Trump have in common.

Repetition of False Ideological Beliefs to Describe
U.S.-Canada Relations

Two options are said to exist in the negotiations that will take place when Trudeau meets with Trump. Both are based on the repetition of false ideological beliefs that deprive the people of an outlook. They deprive the people of an outlook that serves them in upholding the modern conception that rights belong to people by virtue of being human and that Canada has sovereign rights and is duty-bound as a country to contribute to the cause of the peoples of the world for genuine peace and security. In the fields of security and war preparations, the peoples of Canada and the U.S. stand at opposite ends of the pole to the interests of the financial oligarchy that both the Trudeau and Trump administrations serve. Canadians can expect no good to come out of the stepped up integration into U.S. war preparations presumed to be negotiated with the Trump presidency.

The first option based on false ideological beliefs calls on Trudeau to "stand up" to Trump on the basis of "fighting for Canadian jobs" and to insist that Canadians should not be the target of Trump's executive orders or trade policies.

The second option is said to be for Trudeau to find "common ground" and appease Trump under the notion that this will be more effective at accomplishing the goal of the first option.

Based on false ideological beliefs, irrational discussion abounds that summarily dismisses the important issues of the need to uphold rights, including Canada's sovereignty, and to deliberate within the polity the questions of war and peace.[1] Canada and its people do not need sideline commentators who are content to give views and options on the appropriate conduct of Trudeau towards Trump or on Trump's conduct, outrageous though it is. Canadians want and need discussion on the important issues facing the country and world.

The promotion of false ideological beliefs to deprive the people of a modern outlook takes the place of analysis of the unfolding events. An analysis should provide the people with a guide to action, which arms them to face the dangers that lie ahead and to turn things around in their favour. Instead of analysis, the promotion of false ideological beliefs diverts attention from the fact that what Trudeau is negotiating is the place of the oligopolies in the New Order Trump says he is bringing into being. It obscures how problems pose themselves from the point of view of the working people and their deliberations to find a way forward that defends their rights and the rights of all.

The working people and youth of Canada must come forward themselves to express the direction they need for the economy and deliberate on the crucial matters of war and peace. Canadians need to analyze the unfolding events and inherent dangers from the perspective of how to advance their own unity in action in defence of rights and for an anti-war government.

More and more Trudeau, in the autocratic manner of Trump, says it does not matter what anyone says in Canada, the decisions are his to take and his alone. He claims he was elected to take whatever decisions he deems fit and Canadians can do nothing about this fact of life. He could not be more wrong and Canadians will make that increasingly clear in the coming year. The more self-serving pundits claim that Trudeau and Trump have "radically different approaches," and that one is a "progressive" while the other is a "a right wing populist and white supremacist," and each stands variously for "diversity" or "national security," "openness" or "jobs" and "protectionism" etc, the more life itself and the growing resistance of the people make it clear that neither is fit to govern.


1. See "Who Said What About Prime Minister's Trip to Washington"

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Step Up the Struggle to Get Canada Out of NATO
and All Other Aggressive Military Alliances!

Canadians should beware of deliberate attempts to divert their opposition to the Trudeau war government and Trump war presidency and fight to get Canada out of NATO and dismantle NATO and NORAD. With the advent of Trump to the U.S. presidency, a theme first pushed was that it is up to the people to stand in defence of NATO because Trump will "abandon NATO" and thinks it is "obsolete." Now the theme pushed is that Trump administration officials agree with Canada that strengthening NATO is very important and Canadians should agree to get on board with raising military spending to two per cent of GDP.

This theme has been used in turn to claim that it is up to the Trudeau government to defend the "liberal international order" in the face of the Trump presidency. It is even suggested that it is up to Canada to defend "progressive values" and an "international rules-based system" which is said to include both the United Nations and NATO. In other words, NATO is presented as an armed wing of the United Nations and compatible with the principles of the UN Charter. In fact, this rendering attacks the UN Charter which recognizes all nations' right to self-determination and non-interference in their internal affairs and rejects the use and the threat of force in relations between and amongst countries -- the polar opposite of what NATO represents and does.

Canada's government is embracing the Trump administration's demand for NATO members to "do more" by increasing its participation in NATO in the name of defending a "rules-based system" and even an "international order." On February 10, days after Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan visited Washington, DC to meet with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, the Canadian government announced a $404 million "upgrade" of Canadian Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) to be used "at home and abroad." This is taking place at a time when NATO and the U.S. are building up large numbers of troops on a permanent basis in eastern Europe and the U.S. government is threatening NATO members to contribute more funding and troops to U.S.-led war and military preparation.

Today NATO represents one of the greatest threats to peace and the ability of countries and peoples to sort out differences on a political, rather than military basis. NATO is and always has been an instrument of the Anglo-American imperialists to dictate to other countries what they can and cannot do. It operates outside of and in complete opposition to the rules and norms of international law which the peoples of the world created through their sacrifice in World War II.[1] Those who claim now that Canada should emerge as NATO's defender, as if it is part of upholding peaceful relations between and amongst countries, are participating in a campaign to further embroil Canada in aggression and war, including when it is done in the name of opposing Trump's agenda.

Canadians must stand firm in their opposition to the use of force in international affairs whether through NATO, United Nations "peace operations" or in ad-hoc alliances established by the U.S., as in the case of its war in Syria and Iraq. This is the basis on which Canadians can establish an anti-war government that makes a contribution to the cause of peace internationally.


1. Following World War II the peoples of the world were united in their opposition to fascism. They and their governments that fought in the great anti-fascist war gave rise to the Charter of the United Nations and established that organization on the basis of the Charter in 1945. No sooner was the United Nations established than the Anglo-American imperialists sought to re-divide the world, based on a false dichotomy of democracy and human rights on the one hand and communism on the other, at a time when communism and, in particular, the Soviet Union was standing at the head of the world's peoples' fight for democracy against imperialism, fascism and colonialism.

NATO was established in 1949 as a military and political instrument of this division of the world by the imperialists. It was an alliance of mainly European countries headed by the United States and Britain at the time, organized on an anti-communist basis with the aim of criminalizing the right of the peoples of the world to chart their own path in economic, political and military terms and prevent them from marching towards independence and socialism. NATO was established to destroy the anti-fascist unity of the world's people and the governments that defended this position and the world order that rose out of the ashes of World War II to defend the peace and prevent aggression.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, instead of disbanding, NATO sought a new justification for war and aggression. In April 1999, NATO adopted a New Strategic Concept to interfere in the affairs of sovereign countries, claiming a need to respond to the threat of failing states and to defend "human security" through force when governments of targeted countries do not. It was to become a rapid reaction force around the world to enforce U.S. unipolar domination.

Shortly after, NATO launched a brutal assault on Yugoslavia in the name of "protecting civilians" based on spurious claims of genocide. NATO has continued to adapt as an instrument of imposing U.S. imperialist hegemony, including on the basis of resolutions passed at the United Nations Security Council that violate the UN's own Charter. This was for example the case with wars against Afghanistan in 2001 and against Libya in 2011. NATO continues to attempt to create pretexts for war against Syria in this manner.

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Carleton University Students and Professors Develop Work in Defence of Rights

Petition Opposes University's Promotion of Use of Police Powers to Suppress Speech

The petition launched by Carleton University students and professors on February 8 calls on Carleton University to end all support for the Infrastructure Resilience Research Group (IRRG), an organization with offices on campus that held a Symposium in November 2016 called "The Challenges of Dealing with Natural Resource Development Projects and Activism." The meeting brought together police and CSIS agents, federal lawyers and judges and representatives of security and energy monopolies to take part in workshops on "The Threat Environment," "relevant legal provisions in the Anti-Terrorism Act," "Industry Perspectives and Experiences" and "Private-Public Information Sharing" among other things. According a Globe and Mail report, Martin Rudner, a "security expert" and co-host of the Symposium, said a main focus was on "domestic extremists" and pointed to First Nations protestors in New Brunswick in 2013 and "more militant elements in the Indigenous and environmental communities."

Situation at Carleton Reflects Trend Towards Use of Police Powers

Carleton meeting, February 8, 2017, launches petition.

The first speaker at the launch of the petition pointed out that Carleton's sponsorship of criminalization of dissent and the use of the university to coordinate government and state institutions, private industry and security firms to align methods, work out problems and put things into practice reflects the trend towards police powers as the main form of governance and the response to people fighting for their rights. This is most clearly evident in the new U.S. administration with its barrage of executive orders and promises to use police and military force against anything it sees as a problem. At Carleton, the alignment of methods and practices between energy and security monopolies and state security agencies also means alignment and coordination with the U.S. security establishment to which they are tightly joined through the "Five Eyes" spying alliance under U.S. control and other border and security arrangements that put security under U.S. control, which the Trudeau government is increasingly putting in place.

The Strategic Integrated Plan and Strategic Research Plan 2013-2018, approved by the Carleton University Board of Governors in June 2013 identify "Infrastructure Protection and Security," "Intelligence, security and defense" and "security and protection" as priorities. Carleton University is already known for its connections with the Canadian security establishment, the speaker pointed out, including being home to "Canada's first and -- still -- only university centre dedicated to research in Intelligence and National Security Studies," the Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies (CCISS) founded shortly after September 11, 2001." The founder of the CCISS is also Martin Rudner.

Far from providing a forum where students and academics can discuss issues of security, or where genuine investigation can take place into how society can guarantee security, what security means and questions such as security for whom, the IRRG is simply a coordinating body for the police and private interests. It takes up the crusade against "domestic extremists," "militant elements of the Indigenous and environmental communities," "Islamic extremism," anyone provoking "civil disorder" and other buzz phrases of political policing that make people targets of criminalization. It is the antithesis of academic freedom, freedom of speech, enlightenment or providing solutions to problems facing society today, the first speaker pointed out. Those at the university have a right to deliberate on these matters. To, instead, have the university through the IRRG making behaviour, speech and political views a criminal matter or an issue of terrorism is not right.

Students Affirm Their Rights

The speaker pointed out that matters which concern security, the environment, and the direction of the economy, as well as all questions of war and peace belong to everyone. However, they are told that decisions are made by what are called duly-elected or appointed representatives and on this basis can be made without deliberation among Canadians, Indigenous peoples or any collectives of the people. When people affirm their right to participate in making the decisions which affect their lives they are criminalized, called violent, called "disruptors" and blamed for causing problems.

At Carleton when students and others protested the November 2016 IRRG Symposium promoting state violence against the people, the response of the university administration was to say that it is the protestors who are the ones attacking freedom of speech. On January 12 Carleton President Roseann Runte sent an open letter to some members of the Carleton community arguing that protestors are preventing "duly-elected representatives" and others from carrying out their mandate and exercising their freedom of speech. She says among other things, "These noisy persons fail to recognize that by preventing their duly-elected representatives to carry out their mandate, they themselves are contravening the basic principle of a civil society" and argues "Universities must be home to civil society, welcoming free speech and allowing others to speak."

A very suspect anonymous letter circulated to Carleton's Board of Governors on February 2 claimed that because of protestors, students were denied an opportunity to take part in a "a long-awaited informative event, which would have been of great interest to a large cross-section of students with background studies such as business, science, law, social science, international affairs, journalism, MIPIS, political fields, security, phycology [sic], safety, public affairs, etc. etc." The letter went on, describing all the ways that "students" had suffered in not being able to attend an IRRG event that its own description stated was directed towards "All those with responsibility for infrastructure security and resilience policy, program development and delivery and emergency management."

All of it is covering up that Bill C-51 and the activities of the IRRG and the police powers are to criminalize speech and protest, profile and target all those fighting for their rights, such as Indigenous peoples, Muslims and environmentalists, the first speaker pointed out.

In her letter, Carleton President Runte puts forward a theory on the meaning of Rousseau's Social Contract (written in 1762) and this leads to her "observation" that "At times we see our democratically-elected representatives unable to do the business for which they were chosen by the din of those exercising what they consider to be their right to freedom of speech." Today questions of security, war and peace, climate and environment, economy and people's well-being concern everyone -- not abstractly -- and everyone is concerned and wants a say on these matters. Hiding behind whether officials are "duly-elected" or appointed to administer an institution, does not negate or take away from the fact that all members of the polity or of a body such as a university have the right to deliberate on these matters. Governments and the institutions of society should be providing forums for this to take place but instead everything is being criminalized, from workers' struggles to teachers' struggles, Indigenous peoples' struggles. Students affirmed that to make such claims because of an individual's interpretation of what Rousseau said 254 years ago, and to suggest that the conditions today even remotely resemble the conditions at the time, is unacceptable.

All Out to Oppose Criminalization

An Indigenous student leader also addressing the meeting pointed out that students were defending the freedom of speech to not be persecuted by government, but that this does not mean keeping quiet and not opposing what is unacceptable. The IRRG and those involved in it are attacking Indigenous peoples' freedom of speech when they are made targets, he pointed out. He noted that the university's rhetoric about renewing relationships with Indigenous peoples and its "acknowledgement" of being on unceded Algonquin territory rings hollow so long as they support criminalization of Algonquin people if they affirm their sovereignty. He informed that the Carleton administration is nervous about students' opposition to the IRRG and seeking to meet with student representatives about the issue at the end of February.

A professor attending noted that the students have made an important distinction on the questions of academic freedom and freedom of speech. He pointed out that the issue with the IRRG is Carleton's institutional support and backing for the group, not the beliefs or actions of any professors or instructors. He informed that professors are bringing a motion to their organization, the Carleton University Academic Staff Association to call on the university to clarify that it does not support criminalization of protestors and activists.

The final speaker, a member of Students Against Israeli Apartheid-Carleton, gave an overview of the history of Carleton University attacking students' freedom of speech when they organize in defence of the rights of the Palestinian people. Examples include the banning of a poster advertising Israeli Apartheid Week events in 2009, and the stubborn refusal of Carleton's Board of Governors for years to allow any discussion of Carleton pension plan investments in companies complicit in the occupation of Palestinian territories. He called on students to go all out in support of this new initiative and gave suggestions based on the work that Carleton students have done in defence of Palestine over the course of many years.

Many students at the meeting then gave their views on the issue and suggestions for how to make the petition and students' demands a success. The meeting concluded by noting that the best response of everyone to what is taking place at Carleton and more broadly in Canada is to go all out to end Carleton's support for the IRRG and deal with this critical issue facing the polity.

The petition points out, "The Symposium is the first known instance in Canada of state agencies, private security or representatives of the oil and gas sector proposing the use of powers in the widely-opposed Bill C-51 against protesters and activists." Another Conference organized by the IRRG in May in Toronto will focus on bringing together "Leaders of the security and intelligence community; financial and insurance community; commercial building owners and managers; leaders of the law enforcement community; civic leaders (local/regional/national); [NGOs]; [and] corporate leaders" to "develop new strategies to fight against extremists, violent civil disorder and terrorism/counterterrorism." Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety has been invited as keynote speaker.

Students protest outside meeting of the Carleton University Board of Governors (BoG), the university's highest decision-making body on February 2. The Carleton BoG is primarily
comprised of appointed individuals representing private business interests or government, including Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council. Students opposed the BoG's decison to increase tuition fees by the maximum legal amount for the next two years, opposed the sexual violence policy adopted by the university against the wishes of those advocating on the issue, called on Carleton to shut down the IRRG and denounced statements of Carleton's President Roseann Runte against protestors and the right to freedom of speech.

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End Carleton University's Support to Group Promoting Use of Bill C-51 Against Protesters

Open Letter to the Carleton Community and Administration on the
Infrastructure Resilience Research Group (IRRG)

To view and sign the petition online, click here.


On November 14 and 15 Carleton University and its Infrastructure Resilience Research Group (IRRG) sponsored a Symposium on "The Challenges of Dealing with Natural Resource Development Projects and Activism." The event brought together "prosecutors, lawyers, regulators, law enforcement, industry and industry association representatives" in workshops on "the threat environment, relevant legal provisions in the Anti-Terrorism Act [Bill C-51] and other pertinent elements of the criminal code, the prosecutorial experience in cases involving violent acts targeting critical national infrastructure, the adjudication record, and overall lessons learned." A main target of the Symposium was Indigenous peoples exercising their right to decide over energy and resource development projects on their territories (See Background).

Sponsorship of the IRRG and events such as the Symposium run counter to Carleton's self-professed respect for Indigenous students and Indigenous peoples. It further runs counter to the university as a place where political matters can be discussed and not criminalized. Carleton University must apologize to Indigenous students and end all support for the Infrastructure Resilience Research Group.


To ensure that our campus is not further implicated in unacceptable activities such as those of the IRRG Symposium, we, the undersigned students, faculty, staff, and community members call on Carleton University to immediately:

1. Apologize for sponsoring the "2016 Symposium on Security and Infrastructure Resilience," the Dean's Lecture on November 15 and for allowing the event to take place on the traditional, unceded territories of the Algonquin nation.

2. Disclose relevant information about the IRRG including: a. Funds Carleton University has directed towards the organization; b. Public or private funds that Carleton University has received to support the organization; c. Corporate or state partners in the organization.

3. Cease all funding towards the IRRG, and cease accepting any funds including from corporate donors in the name of supporting the IRRG.

4. Cease rental of 310 Minto Centre to the IRRG and offer the space to Indigenous students to decide on a suitable alternative purpose.


Protest by Carleton students outside closing lecture of  IRRG symposium, November 15, 2016.

The Symposium is the first known instance in Canada of state agencies, private security or representatives of the oil and gas sector proposing the use of powers in the widely-opposed Bill C-51 against protesters and activists. Adopted by the Conservative government in 2015, Bill C-51, Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 changed the mandate of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) from intelligence collection to "disrupting" alleged "threats to the security of Canada" and expanded information sharing, among other things. It was widely opposed by Canadians and Indigenous peoples who pointed out the dangers of these powers being used to criminalize protest and political activism and to target Muslims and other groups.

Students protested the closing Dean's Lecture of the Symposium on November 15. They pointed out that in the context of the brutal violence being used against Indigenous people at Standing Rock, North Dakota opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and similar cases in Canada, it is unacceptable for the university to sponsor or allow such events. Martin Rudner, one of the Symposium organizers and a "Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus" at Carleton told the Globe and Mail on November 14 that Indigenous people exercising their sovereignty or protesting was one of the main concerns of the event.

Carleton University has responded by trying to cover up its sponsorship of criminalizing activism. After the protest, Carleton removed all mention of the event from its website and large portions of the IRRG website, including details of individuals, companies and agencies affiliated with the program, including Martin Rudner. Carleton also temporarily removed the website of the Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies (CCISS), an organization founded by Rudner. According to students present at the November 15 event, which Rudner moderated, he falsely accused students of being violent and made a racist statement that the IRRG is working to "protect Aboriginals from themselves."

Carleton University describes itself as a "noted centre for Aboriginal learning and innovative research" that has "been increasingly active in advancing Aboriginal initiatives in recent years." In November 2011 Carleton adopted an Aboriginal Co-ordinated Strategy "to emphasize its commitment to engaging Aboriginal students, faculty, staff and communities." Carleton announced it is "dedicated to welcoming more Aboriginal students and faculty to campus while increasing community partnerships." Since then Carleton has said it officially "acknowledges the location of its campus on the traditional, unceded territories of the Algonquin nation" and many important initiatives have been launched on campus including Ojigkwanong, a centre for Indigenous students and new degree programs.

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Carleton University's Infrastructure Resilience Research Group

Carleton University's "Infrastructure Resilience Research Group" was founded in 2013 by the Dean of Engineering and Design and Dean of Public Affairs. It describes its role as "to advise and promote interdisciplinary knowledge-building initiatives regarding risks and vulnerabilities pertaining to Critical National Infrastructure in an all-hazards environment, including threat assessments, managerial precepts and risk management solutions." The link from the website to the full "Conceptual Framework" for the group is password-protected. The establishment of the IRRG relates to Carleton's Strategic Integrated Plan and Strategic Research Plan 2013-2018, approved by the Carleton University Board of Governors in June 2013. The Strategic Research Plan identifies as a priority "Infrastructure Protection and Security," "Intelligence, security and defense" while the Strategic Integrated Plan describes one aspect of Carleton's "unifying theme, 'Sustainable Communities -- Global Prosperity,'" as "security and protection."

Carleton is already known for its affiliations with the Canadian security establishment. For instance, Carleton is home to "Canada's first and -- still -- only university centre dedicated to research in Intelligence and National Security Studies," the Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies (CCISS) founded shortly after September 11, 2001. The CCISS says that "By virtue of its location at Carleton University and in the national capital [it] is excellently positioned to help generate national synergy and knowledge building between academics, practitioners and other stakeholders sharing an interest in Intelligence and Security Studies." CCISS was founded by Martin Rudner at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) out of an already-existing NPSIA unit called the Centre for Security and Defence Studies. At least two of the main figures in the IRRG, Martin Rudner and Angela Gendron (managing editor of the IRRG journal) come out of the CCISS.

The IRRG was established at Carleton because of such features as an arrangement between the government and state institutions -- from police to intelligence to the judiciary -- and private industry and security firms to align their methods, work out problems and put things into practice.

The main activities of the IRRG are Symposia and Conferences on particular issues that the security establishment and energy companies are pushing. The IRRG is clear about who its events and activities are directed towards. For instance, the November 2016 IRRG Symposium declared that it was "designed for prosecutors, lawyers, regulators, law enforcement, industry and industry association representatives who must deal with natural resource development projects and protests targeting critical infrastructure." An IRRG Conference to be held in May in Toronto that says it is "bringing together leading experts from around the world to develop new strategies to fight against extremists, violent civil disorder and terrorism/counterterrorism" lists the following as "Who Should Attend:" "Leaders of the security and intelligence community; Financial and Insurance Community; Commercial Building Owners and Managers; Leaders of the law-enforcement community; Civic leaders (local/regional/national); Non-governmental agencies; Corporate leaders."

Its November 2016 Symposium in Ottawa, "The Challenges of Dealing with Natural Resource Development Projects and Activism," featured a former CSIS Assistant Director, lawyers including the Senior General Counsel for the Department of Justice, CEOs and other executives in private security and "threat and risk consulting" firms, a Director of the Canadian Gas Association, a Vice-President of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Director of Corporate Security for Irving Oil and the former Assistant Commissioner of the RCMP. After students opposed the Symposium, the event itself and other information such as individuals affiliated with the IRRG were removed from the Carleton University website. The Agenda for the November 2016 Symposium can be found here.

To muddy the waters, the IRRG conflates things like weather forecasting for purposes of protecting electrical grids and other infrastructure, or techniques to prevent technical failure of certain infrastructure, with "protection" of things like pipelines and large development projects from political opposition and targeting "extremists." To point out this aspect of the IRRG has also been a response of university administrators to dismiss the concerns of students.

The IRRG's Martin Rudner

Martin Rudner, a Professor Emeritus at Carleton University, is one of only two Carleton professors identified as being associated with the IRRG, the other being an adjunct professor who primarily works as a Director of Energy Infrastructure Security for Natural Resources Canada, Felix Kwamena. Besides Deans, the other individuals who were identified as part of the IRRG before the information was removed from the Carleton University website are representatives of state intelligence agencies, government and private industry and security firms. Rudner was co-host, with Kwamena, of the November 2016 IRRG Symposium. When students protested the Symposium on November 15, Rudner called them "violent" and dismissed their concerns about criminalization of Indigenous peoples. According to students present, Rudner replied that the IRRG is trying to protect Aboriginals from themselves.

Rudner is a "security expert" frequently quoted in monopoly-owned media. He habitually claims that Canadian energy and resource developments are threatened by so-called Islamic terrorists. In a November 14, 2016 Globe and Mail article Rudner claimed "there is evidence in some cases that foreign governments -- including Iran -- have supported groups that oppose Canadian resource projects." In October 2014 he told the Vancouver Observer, "It's clear to me that the Islamic State is aiming to harm the oil economies of Western countries ... as part of its strategy for economic jihad..." In July 2012 Rudner told the Toronto Sun that Al Qaeda has identified Canadian oil production as a target. "The real protection isn't passive defence -- armed guards at refineries -- it's proactive use of intelligence and law enforcement," he said. "You I.D. the people who pose a threat," he said.

Rudner was also the sole "expert" government witness against Mohamed Harkat in a 2010 challenge to the constitutionality of Security Certificates -- a system of secret trials and detention used against non-citizens. An alleged expert in terrorism trained at an Israeli university as a specialist on Indonesia and Malaysia, he gave testimony on individuals in Saudi Arabia which the government said supported its bogus case against Harkat. Another witness, Professor Brian Williams, who taught Islamic History at the University of Massachusetts, called Rudner's testimony "outlandish," "staggering" and "inconceivable." The judge in the 2010 security certificate case, who upheld the constitutionality of the system, was Simon Noel, a fellow panelist alongside Rudner at the November 15 IRRG event that students protested.

As an alleged specialist on Indonesia, Rudner appeared in Canadian media to express support for the anti-communist military dictatorship of Suharto which held power from 1968 to 1998 after a U.S.-backed coup. Appearing on CBC Radio in 1996 during a visit by one of Jean Chrétien's "Team Canada" trade junkets to Indonesia, Rudner addressed the massacres committed in East Timor as well as the millions killed by the Indonesian armed forces and CIA-supported anti-communist death squads in 1965-66. The first he justified by saying that in East Timor (population one million) "a Marxist party" held power that "threatened in fact, by implication, neighbouring Indonesia" (population 250 million). The second he said resulted from the fact that there was a "rural uprising" and an "attempted communist coup" but that ethnic Chinese, who he said were a target, have now "prospered financially, have prospered socially, have prospered in family terms."

Other IRRG Affiliates

Among those involved with the IRRG, according to pages removed from Carleton University's website in November 2016, are:

- Paul Adams, President of Newfoundland Transhipment Ltd, an operator of oil tankers.
- Jean-Philippe Caron, Executive Director of Security Operations (SECOPS) at the Privy Council Office and its Departmental Security Officer.
- Tiago De Jesus, listed as an IRRG Associate and member of the Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Design at Carleton. De Jesus is also a Civilian Expert for NATO's "Rapid Response Team" and a former RCMP National Security program specialist.
- Connie Delisle, a member of the Privy Council Office Security Operations Division.
- Rick Garber, Group Leader of Security and Business Integration at the National Energy Board.
- Gaétan Houle, Associate Partner, Advisory Services at Ernst & Young LLP, one of the "big four" neo-liberal accounting firms with a revenue of $30 billion annually.
- Ross Johnson, Senior Manager of Security and Contingency Planning, Capital Power Corporation.
- Alan Jones, former Assistant Director of CSIS.
- Raynald Lampron, Director of Operations at the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada.
- Michael Martin, President of the Valley Associates Group, one of Canada's largest private defence and security contractors.
- Tim O'Neil, Associate at the private firm Oldcastle Security Consulting Inc. and a former CSIS officer.
- John Patterson, an active officer with CSIS and CSIS lead for the "semi-annual Classified Briefings for Energy Stakeholders."
- Doug Powell, Manager of Smart Metering Security, Privacy and Safety for BC Hydro.
- Paul Rietdyk, Vice-President of Engineering, Construction and Storage and Transmission Operations for Union Gas Ltd.
- Sharon Savoie, head of Savoie Security Associates, which runs private training courses on behalf of the IRRG.

Upcoming Conference -- "2017 Urban Security and Resilience Conference, Workshop, and Exhibition"

A Conference to be hosted by the IRRG in Toronto from May 16 to 19 makes clear that this aspect of the IRRG -- to overcome technical problems or prevent failure of various infrastructure systems -- is secondary or a cover for its main role in coordinating between security forces and private interests. The "2017 Urban Security and Resilience Conference, Workshop, and Exhibition: New Realities - New Strategies" notes, "A new administration in the United States, and the deadly attack at a Quebec, City (Canada) Mosque have added new layers of complexity to an already changing urban security landscape."

The IRRG describes the upcoming event as "A major international conference, the first-ever of its kind, [that] will bring together leading experts from around the world to develop strategies to fight against extremists, violent civil disorder and terrorism/counterterrorism." It is "expected to attract 1,200 representatives of the security, intelligence and law enforcement communities, public and private security practitioners, senior government officials, community and corporate leaders, non-governmental agencies, and academia."

The IRRG lists the following as "Who Should Attend":

- Leaders of the security and intelligence community; Financial and Insurance Community; Commercial Building Owners and Managers; Leaders of the law-enforcement community; Civic leaders (local/regional/national); Non-governmental agencies; and Corporate leaders.

The cost of registration is $795 (early bird special), $895 (regular), $1095 (late) and $1195 (last minute).

According to the Conference program, Canada's Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale has been invited as the keynote speaker. Other speakers include:

- Richard Fadden, Former Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and Former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada;
- Alan Jones, Assistant Director (rtd), Canadian Security Intelligence Service;
- Paul Goldenberg, Chairman and CEO, Cardinal Strategies, member of U.S. Homeland Security Advisory Council;
- Anna Carlstedt, National Coordinator, Swedish Government Office to Safeguard Democracy Against Extremism;
- Anne Speckhard, Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Georgetown University, and Director, International Centre for the Study of Violent Extremism;
- Giuliano Zaccardelli, Commissioner (rtd), Royal Canadian Mounted Police;
- Judge Leonie Brinkema, U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Virginia;
- Malcolm Chivers, Director, Corporate Security, Canadian Bankers Association;
- Michael Masters, Director (rtd), Cook County, Office of U.S. Homeland Security;
- Rafik Goubran, Acting Vice President, Research and International Affairs, Carleton University;
- Chief Justice Richard Bell, Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada;
- Roger Brown, Assistant Commissioner (rtd), Royal Canadian Mounted Police;
- Tim Egan, President & Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Gas Association.

To read the program as of February 3, click here.

Private Sponsorship

In conjunction with its upcoming Conference, the Carleton IRRG is selling sponsorship packages to the organizations involved. According to a document on the IRRG web site called "Sponsorship Levels," a $100,000 contribution will result in a company's name and logo being displayed prominently at the Conference, the company's promotional items being distributed, a showcase at the exhibition portion of the event, 15 minutes of guaranteed speaking time for a company representative and other perks. 

There are smaller packages for $80,000, $60,000 and so on, down to $8,000 for acknowledgement at a dinner and $1,500 for acknowledgement at a breakfast.

Students and professors at Carleton University are asking for answers as to the nature of this private funding. All indications are that a university body is soliciting private corporate and perhaps state funding in exchange for guaranteed promotion. Neither Carleton nor the IRRG state their financial relationship to one another, whether Carleton funds the IRRG or the IRRG solicits private funding on behalf of Carleton.

To read about the Carleton IRRG's private sponsorship packages, click here.

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What Comprises Critical Infrastructure?

According to the Mission Statement of the Infrastructure Resilience Research Group (IRRG) at Carleton University, government policy has defined ten critical infrastructure sectors: energy and utilities, finance, food, health, information and communication technology, manufacturing, public safety, transportation, water, and government. "These infrastructures are increasingly interconnected and interdependent, making them more vulnerable to disruption or destruction by natural or man-made threats," the Mission Statement says.

This definition mirrors U.S. measures and integrated approaches to "critical infrastructure." Canada has since September 11, 2001 adopted 10 distinct bills dealing with terrorism-related offences including Bill C-51 in 2015 which had five Acts within it. One aspect of this has been harmonizing the concepts and approach related to "critical infrastructure" with the U.S., something done by all the "Five Eyes" countries that share intelligence with the U.S. and among themselves (U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand).

An example of how this plays out in practical terms can be found in a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa to Washington from November 2005 published by Wikileaks. It noted that the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit Tunnel from Windsor to Detroit are "arguably the two most significant pieces of critical infrastructure along the entire frontier," carrying around 25 per cent of all Canada-U.S. merchandise trade. Their designation as "critical infrastructure" make any obstruction, whether from the Canadian side, by Indigenous peoples or otherwise, a threat to U.S. national security.

The Department of Homeland Security defines critical infrastructure as what "provides the essential services that underpin American society and serve as the backbone of our nation's economy, security, and health. We know it as the power we use in our homes, the water we drink, the transportation that moves us, the stores we shop in, and the communication systems we rely on to stay in touch with friends and family."

This definition is self-serving and does not hold up to scrutiny. Those heroically resisting at Standing Rock, North Dakota are doing so both in defence of treaty rights and sovereignty but also because the development threatens to impact clean water resources for themselves and future generations. The proposed course of the Dakota Access Pipeline had already been moved because the community it was to pass through objected to dangers to their water supply, but Indigenous people were considered an acceptable casualty. The protests at Muskrat Falls in Labrador had the same concern.

In Canada there are 130 drinking water advisories among nearly 90 First Nations. In July 2015, the number was at 133 advisories among 93 First Nations. Justin Trudeau, during the 2015 election campaign said he would ensure that all the advisories are ended before the next election but after one year there has been virtually no progress. There are many examples of infrastructure that is critical to the health and well-being of the people and the guarantee of their economic, social and cultural rights which are not provided let alone given protection by the state and powerful private interests. When it comes to the question of security, Canadian steelworkers who protested against Bill C-51 had the slogan, "What about my pension security?"

For more than 40 years, the people of the Asubpeeschoseewagong or Grassy Narrows First Nation, north of Kenora, Ontario have suffered from a contaminated water supply resulting from the dumping of thousands of kilograms of mercury into river systems by the company that operated a paper mill in nearby Dryden, Ontario. Hundreds of residents have suffered mercury poisoning including permanent damage to infants. The livelihoods of the people, closely tied to fishing and hunting and tourism in the area, have been ruined. A 2005 study found that 79 per cent of 175 people tested in the area between 2002 and 2004 had or may have methylmercury poisoning. The majority have received no compensation and no cleanup has been done to date.

In the 1980s, scientists estimated the cost of cleanup via dredging a river at approximately $200 million but no action has been taken to date. Grassy Narrows First Nation Chief Simon Fobister issued a call to Prime Minister Trudeau on January 17 for his government to "clearly commit in writing to clean our river until our fish are safe to eat." The response of the government was to deny responsibility, saying that the mill, the source of the poisoning, was not on federal lands. Trudeau's response when questioned during a "town hall" in Fredericton, New Brunswick in January was considered to be totally aloof and uninterested by many. "We're working with the province on resolving this issue. My government is committed to ending boil water advisories across this country," Trudeau said.

Fobister said in response, "I'm very frustrated that two levels of government don't take the extra step further to say, after the study, we're committed to cleaning it up, no matter what the costs. [...] I know both levels of government are very supportive of other major industrial activity, like the building of pipelines," he said. "But their credibility suffers at this moment when they haven't even cleaned up this contamination that was caused by industrial activity."

Instead, the main examples of "critical infrastructure" that are given "protection" are enormous resource development projects such as the $9 billion Site C Dam and the $11.4 billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project in British Columbia and the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline in the U.S. The common factor is that they are not critical for the people's well-being, a country's energy needs or even the overall health of the economy. They are the subject of massive state and private investment which demands the use of police powers to guarantee the success of the project and the profit from its transportation and sale overseas, including to overcome opposition.

Police Powers Provide the Definition

The phrase "critical infrastructure" is not defined in Canadian law. Its definition is given through the executive power through ministerial regulations or documents most notably from Public Safety Canada.

The term "Critical Infrastructure" was relatively marginal and only beginning to be discussed in Canada before 9/11. A report on a November 2000 conference called "Future Directions for Critical Infrastructure Protection for Canada" in the Spring 2001 issue of The Journal of Conflict Studies noted the concern that Canada should have a national strategy for "critical infrastructure protection." In February 2001 the Jean Chrétien government created the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness, comprised of Emergency Preparedness Canada, a Critical Infrastructure Protection Task Force and the Government Information Protection Coordination Centre.

Margaret Purdy, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet for Security and Intelligence in the Privy Council Office from the late 1990s until 2001 and Associate Deputy Minister of the Department of National Defence from 2001 to 2003, led the creation of the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness. At that time the government and other players were still working out how to view the issue of Critical Infrastructure. In November 2000 Purdy was asking the "Future Directions" conference questions such as:

"How do we engage the private sector in CIP? Is there a role for auditors and the insurance industry in motivating key players? How do we get government and business to think on 'Internet Time' so they will respond quickly to the fast-changing threat and vulnerability environment? How do we approach the challenge of collecting intelligence on individuals and groups who might attack Canada's CI? How should we characterize CIP -- as a security and intelligence issue, a technology or economic issue, or as an emergency planning issue? Will we be able to achieve the necessary level or horizontal cooperation to meet the CIP challenge?"

At that time the issue of how to characterize protests was also being discussed. Tim Smith, a CSIS agent said at the conference that the "three broad threats" to critical infrastructure were "espionage/sabotage; terrorism;" and what he called "Hacktivism." The latter, he claimed, was the "most common cyber threat, as demonstrated by the recent demonstrations against 'Globalization,' which were mobilized in part by information-sharing among activist groups on the net."

The U.S. "National Infrastructure Protection Centre" (NIPC) was created in 1998. At that time, Katie Tolan, a former CSIS agent was Canada's representative at the NIPC and cooperation took place at this level.

Following September 11, 2001 the term "Critical Infrastructure" became enshrined in U.S. government national security policy and concepts and practices were then imported into Canada. The USA PATRIOT Act signed into law on October 26, 2001 included the Critical Infrastructures Protection Act of 2001. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 established the Department of Homeland Security which oversees protection of critical infrastructure. The Department of Homeland Security was a merging of 187 federal agencies and departments including the National Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Customs and Border Protection, Citizenship and Immigration, the Secret Service and 14 U.S. intelligence agencies.

The creation of Homeland Security was mirrored in Canada by the establishment of the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (now called Public Safety Canada) in 2003 under the Paul Martin Liberal government. This brought together the Canada Border Services Agency, RCMP, CSIS, Correctional Service Canada and the Parole Board of Canada as well as review bodies.

The phrase critical infrastructure only appears in three Canadian laws:

- The Security of Canada Information Sharing Act (2015), part of Bill C-51 which identifies "interference with critical infrastructure" as an "activity that undermines the security of Canada" and authorizes action to be taken by CSIS.

- The Emergency Management Act (2007) which states that "The emergency management responsibilities of each minister accountable to Parliament for a government institution are to identify the risks that are within or related to his or her area of responsibility -- including those related to critical infrastructure -- and to do the following in accordance with the policies, programs and other measures established by the Minister."

- The Remote Sensing Space Systems Act, (2005) which  deems that satellite operators must provide any service through their system to the Canadian government that the Minister of Public Safety "believes on reasonable grounds is desirable for critical infrastructure protection or emergency preparedness."

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Opposition to Toronto Meeting of Conference of American Armies

Armed Forces of the Americas Coordinate on "Domestic Operations"

Action February 9, 2017 at the Conference of American Armies conference in Toronto.

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) condemns the holding of a Conference of American Armies (CAA) Specialized Conference on "domestic operations" in Toronto from February 6 to 10. According to Canada's Department of National Defence, the theme of the meeting was, "Training in the Interagency Environment" and focused on "training for domestic operations with an emphasis on sharing lessons learned and best practices." An army press release informs that among the case studies discussed was the experience of the G20 Summit in Toronto in 2010.

Founded in 1960, one year after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, the CAA served as a coordinating body for the genocidal repression by U.S. imperialism of the workers, peasants and Indigenous peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean in the name of "containment of communism" during the Cold War. Its policy, laid out at its 1973 meeting just days before the September 11 coup d'état in Chile, is that the military forces of member countries bear ultimate responsibility for defeating communism and subversion.

The renewed focus of the CAA on "domestic operations" at this year's meeting is a hostile undertaking to defend the hegemony of U.S. imperialism throughout North, South and Central America and the Caribbean, to coordinate the use of force against the resistance movements of the peoples of the Americas and intensify the policy of state attacks, assassination and subversion against land defenders and Indigenous peoples affirming their sovereignty. It comes in the context of the ongoing brutal repression of people fighting for their rights by the military of Honduras, the increasing use of force against those at Standing Rock, North Dakota protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, the threats of Canada's Minister of Natural Resources to use military force against those protesting pipeline development projects and resistance to the neo-liberal takeovers in Brazil and Argentina. The meeting is a stark reminder of the need for the peoples of the Americas who have made headway in affirming their rights and sovereignty to ensure the armed forces of their countries never again come under U.S. command. It further stands in violation of the proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace adopted at the second Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit in Havana, Cuba in 2014. It must not pass!

CPC(M-L) congratulates those who took the initiative to oppose the CAA meeting in Toronto. On February 9, protestors interrupted the proceedings to denounce the CAA and to point out that many of its member militaries, including Canada's, are involved in the repression of Indigenous peoples and other collectives of people fighting for their rights.

Jayden Lavallee, a Métis organizer who took part in a February 9 demonstration at the Sheraton Hotel where the CAA met, said to the Media Co-Op, "The state, and the military backing it, come down with brutal force on Indigenous peoples asserting their responsibilities to protect the water, as has been so illustrated in the camps of Standing Rock with the involvement of the National Guard. This conference on 'domestic operations' is about armies of colonial states mobilizing to better defend industry from Indigenous people and their allies."

Others noted that among those taking part in the meeting was Honduran Col. Gabriel Rixci Cárcamo Bonilla, responsible for the Honduran Third Infantry Battalion in the northern town of Naco from 2013 to 2014. During that time, the Honduran Military Police of Public Order (PMOP) and Intelligence Troop and Special Security Response Groups (TIGRES) both of which are used to repress the political movements of Hondurans, were trained at the base Bonilla commanded. Karen Spring, Coordinator of the Honduras Solidarity Network, criticized the Canadian government for its "support of the Honduran regime despite in-depth reports and documentation of extremely high levels of human rights violations, impunity and corruption."

In the situation of the anarchy and violence unleashed by U.S. imperialism, now taken to further extremes under the Trump administration, and the counter-attacks of the forces of imperialism against the political movements of the people across the Americas and Caribbean, Canadians do not agree with hosting such meetings. Neither do they agree with reviving Cold War instruments against communism and national liberation as mechanisms to coordinate attacks on the people's resistance today. More than ever, Canadians must deliberate themselves on questions of war and peace and take practical steps to ensure Canada is a force for peace and such activities are not permitted.

Condemn the Conference of American Armies!
All Out to Establish an Anti-War Government to Make Canada a Zone for Peace!

(Photos: M. Toledano, F. Chowdhury)

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An Unacceptable Enterprise

The Conference of American Armies (CAA) was founded in 1960. That year, Major Theodore F. Bogart, head of U.S. Southern Command, invited the military heads of Latin American and Carribean countries in the sphere of U.S. imperialism to meet at a U.S. base in the Panama Canal Zone. The meeting established the CAA as an anti-communist instrument of U.S. imperialism under the name Army Commanders International Organization in the Western Hemisphere. Its first meeting was held under the theme, "The Security of South America," targeting the "common enemy" of communism and the workers' and national liberation movements of the peoples of the Americas. Its stated aim is to "heighten cooperation and integration between the Armies and to contribute from a military thinkers' point of view to the security and democratic development of member countries." From 1960 to 1963 meetings were held at U.S. Fort Amador in Panama and in 1964 moved to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Museum in Chile commemorated those killed
in U.S. backed dirty wars.

The CAA, along with the U.S. School of the Americas, was a main coordinating body for the brutal U.S.-backed dirty wars and state terror against the peoples of Latin America and the Carribean known as Operation Condor. At its second meeting, in 1961, the CAA established a standing committee in the Panama Canal Zone for the exchange of information and intelligence. A network of military attachés called Agremil was established to share common information on "subversives" among intelligence agencies, militaries and death squads. During the meeting of the CAA in Caracas, Venezuela on September 3, 1973 -- eight days before the coup d'état in Chile -- the head of the Brazilian army General Breno Borges Fortes proposed that the struggle against communism must be led by the armed forces of each country, and that "the only effective methods are the exchange of experience and information, plus technical assistance when requested." The CAA decided to "strengthen information exchange in order to counter terrorism and control subversive elements in each country."

At its October 19-26, 1975 meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay, the CAA established a "working meeting on national intelligence services" prepared by Chilean dictator Pinochet's point man against communism Col. Manuel Contreras. That meeting, which took place November 25-December 1, 1975 in Santiago de Chile, created a continental database "similar to the Interpol database in Paris, but specialising in subversion." Operation Condor meetings then continued, parallel to CAA meetings, with many of the same figures attending both.

CAA meetings continued to take place under U.S. guidance as brutal massacres and other crimes in Latin America and the Carribean were met by resistance and wars of national liberation. In 1977 the CAA met in Managua, Nicaragua (a year before the overthrow of the Somoza regime by the Sandinista National Liberation Front), and in 1979 in Bogota, Colombia. The people's victory in Nicaragua encouraged CAA members to standardize and align methods to accelerate the fight against "subversion" and the dirty wars and repression against the peoples of Central and South America intensified. The CAA met in Washington, DC in 1981 shortly after the election of Ronald Reagan as U.S. President. The meeting agreed to renew bilateral information-sharing agreements on "subversives" and create a permanent CAA Secretariat. The Secretariat was established in Santiago de Chile on May 24, 1984. The CAA increasingly came to view all those considered left-wing or subscribing to liberation theology as part of its war against communism.

The Conference of American Armies Permanent Executive Secretariat (PESCAA) for 2016-2017 is based in the United States. Its responsibilities include "Conduct the planning, managing, executing, controlling and evaluating the process that unfolds during the organization's cycle, guided by its aim and whatever accords are adopted by the Commanders for the corresponding cycle."

Its president is U.S. General Mark A. Milley, commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, consisting of 750,000 active Army, Reserve and National Guard soldiers. The CAA Secretary-General is U.S. Major General Clarence K.K. Chinn, the Commanding General of U.S. Army South located at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The U.S. Army South is the army component of USSOUTHCOM, whose stated "area of responsibility" includes the entirety of Central and South America and the Caribbean and its 32 sovereign states. Its Permanent Executive Secretary is Colonel Brian McNaughton.

The current CAA member armies are Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad & Tobago, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela. The five observer armies are Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica and Suriname, while the Special Observer Army is Spain. Two international military organizations also enjoy observer status: the Central American Armed Forces Conference and the Inter-American Defense Board.

Canada's Participation

Canada joined the CAA in 1993. Prior to the latest meeting in Toronto, it has hosted six CAA meetings since joining, the most recent in September 2003 in Ottawa. Since that time, a ministerial order has been adopted entitled "Conference of American Armies Privileges and Immunities Order," granting CAA representatives diplomatic immunity for the duration of the conference. Canada's armed forces identifies its "priority partners" for bilateral military cooperation as Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Jamaica. A Canadian army press release states that Secretary General of the CAA U.S. Major General Clarence K.K. Chinn, Commander of U.S. Army South, welcomes the "opportunity to discuss operations in the interagency environment, saying, 'The reality of the current global state of affairs is increased instability, which now more than ever underpins the importance for our armies to continue to dialogue and work together to protect our interests.'"

The CAA meeting in Toronto from February 6 to 10 had an "overarching theme" of "how armies can work with different levels of organizations in the face of growing challenges to regional defense, while considering the different capabilities, roles and legal frameworks of each country," Natalie Flynn of Canadian Army Public Affairs wrote. "In line with the theme, the Canadian Army's designated topic for the CAA's Specialized Conference focused on the training aspect of interagency operations, which includes large-scale planned activities, such as major athletic events and summits, and unexpected incidents, such as natural disasters. [...]

"According to Lieutenant General Wynnyk, this is an area for which the Canadian Army is well-positioned to provide expertise, given its experiences with major domestic security operations and responses to natural disasters, both domestic and international. Case studies discussed during the Specialized Conference included security for the Vancouver Olympic Games and the G20 summit in Toronto, as well as preparing for a major earthquake on the west coast of Canada."

At the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto, the Canadian military (represented by Canada Command) was part of the Integrated Security Unit which brought under military command all levels of police, intelligence and even private security agencies. It worked directly with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which comes under the control over U.S. Northern Command. These bodies were responsible for violations of the people's rights that included pre-emptive arrest, mass criminalization of dissent, violence and incarceration. Canadians have not forgotten that the G20 summit was precisely used as a training ground for "interagency" operations all under NORAD command. Seven years and several investigations later, including by the Ontario Ombudsman, the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP and the Public Interest Investigation into RCMP Member Conduct Related to the 2010 G8 and G20 Summits, the experience is now presented as a "case study" of "best practices" for repressing the people's movements.

(With files from Armand Mattelart, The Globalization of Surveillance. Polity Press, 2010. J. Patrice McSherry, Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005. Le Monde Diplomatique.)

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Significance of Talk of Balanced and Fair Trade Between Canada and U.S.

A theme emerging since the election of Donald Trump is that Canada will be favoured by the Trump presidency as compared to countries such as Mexico and China. While Mexico and China are presented as being targeted by Trump, trade between Canada and the U.S. is said to be balanced, which is presented as being synonymous with being fair trade or even mutually beneficial trade.

Trump upon removing the U.S. from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) on January 23, said he would pursue fair trade deals. In some cases this move is being cheered by representatives of unions and talked about as something that is good for workers.

NAFTA is also targeted by Trump. Canadian working people are told that while trade between the U.S. and Canada is balanced, trade between the U.S. and Mexico is not. Canada is presented as being in a privileged position and the issue is to keep our heads low. This argument says that trade between Canada and the U.S. is relatively close or balanced as compared to trade between the U.S. and Mexico and the U.S. and China. In some cases it is said that Trump's agenda overall could even benefit Canada, as a perceived trade deficit between Canada and Mexico could be addressed.

Describing the issue of trade debts and deficits Michael Den Tandt wrote on January 23 in the National Post:

"Mexico, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, had two-way goods trade with the United States worth U.S.$531-billion in 2015. The U.S. deficit in that exchange was $58-billion, meaning Americans bought $58 billion more in goods from Mexicans, than they sold to them."

"China had two-way goods trade with the United States of $659.4-billion in 2015. American exports to China amounted to just $116-billion, whereas U.S. goods imports from China were worth $482-billion. The U.S. deficit in that exchange was a whopping $366-billion. It's a huge imbalance.[1]

"[Canada] had two-way goods trade with the United States worth $575-billion in 2015, but in almost even measure -- a deficit for America of just $15 billion. Goods bought (by the U.S.) from Canada are led by mineral fuels, oil and natural gas, to the tune of $70 billion in 2015. The top three categories of American goods bought by Canadians, meantime, were vehicles ($48 billion), machinery ($43 billion) and electrical equipment ($25 billion.)"

Jim Stanford, former Unifor economist and current economics professor at McMaster University reiterated this theme in a January 5 article in The Globe and Mail (TML emphasis):

"U.S. auto trade with Canada is balanced, unlike Mexico. Two-way auto trade between Canada and the U.S. is huge: around $135-billion last year. We sell more vehicles to the U.S. than we import from them, but we buy a lot more parts from the U.S. The resulting imbalance (in Canada's favour) is small, relative to a very large two-way flow. If we include Canadian purchases of auto-related services (such as engineering, marketing, and management payments to U.S. parent firms), and repatriation of profits on Canadian operations, it's a wash. This is one case where trade is actually balanced and mutually beneficial (like the economics textbooks say it should be). This is thanks to the Canada-U.S. Auto Pact, implemented in 1965, which required auto trade to go both ways.

"With Mexico, on the other hand, auto trade (under NAFTA's laissez faire rules) is precariously unbalanced. The U.S. imports more than 10 times as many vehicles from Mexico (2.3 million units in 2015) as it sells there.

"And thanks to our large parts purchases from the U.S., each Canadian-made vehicle contains 50 per cent more U.S.-made components than do Mexican-made vehicles. Any disruption in cross-border auto trade with Canada would hurt the U.S. as much as us."

Readers should note the use in both articles of broad one-nation terms such as "U.S.," "Mexico" and "us Canadians" or "we" or "our" without any reference to the concrete social classes and conditions of the peoples involved according to the relations of production and their social class position of wealth, power, and privilege or absence thereof. Relations of production in the modern world exist mainly between those who sell their capacity to work and those who buy workers' capacity to work. Those who buy workers' capacity to work in the basic sectors are mostly concentrated in oligopolies controlled by billionaire oligarchs.

When discussing trade (or any social, political or economic matter) an analysis must discuss in concrete terms who controls and who benefits from the trade and the social classes involved and how they relate to one another and the productive forces. Otherwise, the discussion descends into obscurantism and anti-worker chauvinism and support for the oligopolies and their plans for dealing with their problems on the backs of the working class.

Broad terms without social class content or historical context can be manipulated to prove a preconceived notion. These terms and the presumptive conclusions derived from them take readers away from concrete analysis of concrete conditions and from making warranted conclusions.

The global oligopolies control auto production in all three North American countries. The recent GM announcement moving auto production from Ingersoll, Ontario eliminating over 600 auto jobs reflects this control without concern for the working class, community or economy wherever they operate. The oligopolies control trade to the point that much of the trade exists internally within a particular ownership group. The working class does not control the auto sector or any other sector. The oligarchs own and control all basic sectors and control the trade. They seize the objective value workers create in all three countries and dictate where that value ends up and how it may be employed. Much of the value in the auto sector has been marshalled into robotics to decrease the amount of work-time necessary to produce vehicles. This has put enormous downward pressure on the working class of all three countries.

Throwing around broad terms without social class content and historical context blocks auto workers and other working people from discussing, investigating, organizing and fighting for a new human-centred direction for the economy where the actual producers of social product and its objective value control production and importantly control how the value they create is distributed and employed.

Stephen Schwarzman is billionaire chief executive of the U.S. investment firm Blackstone Group and head of Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum. After Schwarzman's meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau and his cabinet on January 23, he presented his view to reporters saying: "I think trade between the U.S. and Canada is very much in balance and is a model for the way trade relations should be."

"Because Canada's held in very high regard. We have balanced trade between the U.S. and Canada. That's not the kind of situation where you should be worried."

The meeting and Schwarzman's comments seem to have turned the elected officials of the Trudeau government into grovelling beggars heaping praise on Trump and his team of plutocrats. In response to Schwarzman's remarks, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said: "We're very fortunate to be in that position. We don't take it for granted, and we'll continue to make sure we talk about the integrated nature of our economies."

Trudeau's Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne praised Schwarzman for his "very deep understanding of the relationship between the United States and Canada."

Transport Minister and chair of the Cabinet Committee on U.S. Relations Marc Garneau told CTV: "(Schwarzman) gave us his view on the lay of the land, and it was a very encouraging one . I think that the relationship between the new Trump administration and Canada is going to be a very good one."

The issue presented to the working class and other Canadians to take up is to hope that Trump's team of plutocrats will buy the arguments made by the Trudeau government and various spokespersons of the oligopolies that trade is balanced and even mutually beneficial. With the oligarchs' acceptance of the argument, all will be A-Ok.

If not, then Canadians will be asked to rally behind the Trudeau government in trying to convince the U.S. Congress of the correctness of Canada's position and cause. Especially important, Canadians are told, is to convince those powers-that-be from 35 particular states that they benefit directly from Canadian trade and they should work on Trump and tell him to be good to us because after all those states are said to rely on Canada as their number one partner both for buying and selling goods.

In all cases, the Canadian working people are supposed to appeal to Trump in the hopes he uses the state police powers in a manner that targets Mexico and not Canada. If appeals to Trump fail to convince him of how great a neighbour Canada is, then we should appeal to the U.S. Congress to challenge Trump over whom he targets with those executive orders and police powers.

Chatter About Integration

The Canadian government, various university academics and spokespersons for the monopolies argue that besides this "balanced and mutually beneficially trade" with the U.S., the economies of both countries are so integrated that any tax on imports and exports of Canadian goods would harm the oligopolies. The seizure of a border tax would result in a deduction from profit unless the amount could be passed on in the market price.

Brendan Sweeney, professor at McMaster University in the Automotive Policy Research Centre writes in Open Canada of the just-in-time integrated production techniques of the auto oligopolies: "Over the last half-century, the production and marketing of vehicles became highly integrated between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Today, under NAFTA, automotive supply chains crisscross the continent. Vehicles assembled in any one partner country contain parts produced in all three. Integration permits specialization, efficiencies and productivity gains. (In his enthusiasm, the professor fails to mention the downward pressure on workers' wages and working conditions arising from automation under the control of the financial oligarchy.)

"Vehicle sales in the U.S. and Canada are at record levels, and several models preferred by U.S. customers are produced exclusively in Canada, including the Ford Edge, Chrysler Pacifica, Chevrolet Equinox and Toyota RAV4. Increasing the price of these vehicles to American consumers by taxing vehicles imported from Canada would likely be unpopular."

Chrystia Freeland, as Minister of International Trade, went so far as to say, "Canada was part of the U.S. supply chain" implying clearly that to her Canada is not a sovereign nation but an appendage of the U.S. because the oligopolies operate without borders or any concern for sovereignty.

The oligopolies have established operations in North America that do not recognize the existence of distinct nations and peoples. They speak only of "jurisdictions," which are pitted against one another and manipulated to pay tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in extortion money for the privilege of having operations established in a particular location only to be moved or cratered if those operations no longer fit into their self-serving schemes such as the current GM plan to eliminate 600 jobs in Ingersoll.

This so-called integration of production and sales is presented as something the working people should defend and uphold to preserve their jobs and very existence as a country. In other words the negation of sovereignty and a self-reliant pro-social economy that favours the people is presented as the pre-condition for any discussion about trade, whether free trade favoured by the Trudeau/Freeland/Clinton gang or the protectionist trade of the Trump gang. This itself shows that the discussion is not actually about trade with the U.S. but about how Canada should subordinate itself to U.S. imperialism and the narrow interests of the financial oligarchy.

Concern Over Side-Effects

What are the reasons behind oligarch Trump's open hostility towards Mexico and Mexicans, which could cause problems for certain oligopolies? Relations are deteriorating rapidly with Trump's national and racist insult of building a border wall with Mexico and taxing Mexican imports to pay for it. A section of the oligarchs may see a war with Mexico as an option to complete the U.S. annexation of Mexican territory and people begun in the Mexican-American War of 1846-48 when the U.S. seized vast swaths of Mexican territory including California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and other areas. Some consider a new war with Mexico as a way to quell the gathering storm of civil war within the United States.

In the case of Mexico in particular, the integration of the operations of many oligopolies operating throughout North America means that any tariff or tax on Mexican goods, such as Trump's proposed 20 per cent tariff on all Mexican exports to the U.S., could put downward pressure on the rate of profit. In this sense, under the Trump regime, integration of the Canadian economy with Mexico is presented as a liability while deeper annexation into the U.S. Empire is considered an asset.

Side-effects from Trump's dustup with Mexico may lead to problems that could be avoided according to certain members of the Canadian political elite who propose deeper integration and even complete annexation into the U.S. Empire while distancing Canada from Mexico for the time being.

A report by Robert Fife in The Globe and Mail states: "A senior Canadian government official told The Globe and Mail the signals from Mr. Trump's trade team indicate the trade focus will largely be aimed at Mexico, essentially cutting the United States' southern neighbour out of many NAFTA benefits.

"'The clear indication we have gotten from that side of the operation is that they are targeting Mexico and not us,' the official said. 'We are keeping an open line of communication with them so we know what things they are planning to do with Mexico and that have a major knock-on effect with us'."

Quandary Over Trade and the Keystone XL

Another issue has emerged based on the argument over trade debts and deficits. It lies with Trump's January 23 approval of the Keystone pipeline, as well as with reported demands by Trump's commerce secretary Wilbur Ross that trade deals should be regularly reopened to ensure trade remains fair, at least from the point of view of the U.S. imperialists.

This means the U.S. elite, and Trump's gang in particular with its mania for the "art of the deal," want to automatically open, or regularly negotiate changes to free trade agreements such as NAFTA. Deals would be renegotiated in response to changes in the price of oil or other commodities for example, which could radically change the balance of trade in money and cause debts and deficits to the United States. In effect, the dominant oligopolies would constantly be demanding changes to the terms of trade to suit their private interests.

Following Trump's approval of the Keystone XL, and his demand for a new deal, certain commentators say that the additional oil flowing south from Canada could unbalance Canada/U.S. trade leading to a U.S. trade deficit with Canada. The solution presented is deeper annexation, which would mean that U.S. imports of Canadian oil would not be considered imports at all; Canadian oil reserves would be considered part of the U.S. domestic supply. The solution would be to concede Canadian sovereignty and control over its territory and resources in the name of preserving Canada's export of resources to the U.S. This argument, which for many Canadians is irrational and capitulationist and a complete abandonment of any independence and control over the Canadian economy, would extend to all Canadian resources such as Canada's forests and water. The proposal is officially and legally to turn Canada into a vast storehouse of resources for the U.S.-headquartered oligopolies and their drive for world hegemony.

On January 23, Campbell Clark wrote in The Globe and Mail :

"Approval of Keystone XL could clash with another major aspect of Mr. Trump's trade policy: undoing U.S. trade deficits.

"The U.S. enjoyed an $11.9-billion (U.S.) trade surplus with Canada in 2015. But Keystone XL would wipe out the U.S. trade surplus, and a hike in the price of oil to $75 or $80 a barrel would suddenly turn it to deficit.

"Imagine what that could mean for Canada under a new, rewritten NAFTA that triggers a renegotiation whenever the U.S. develops a trade deficit with Canada: when oil prices go up, trade rules for other goods from cars to cattle could be rewritten, creating uncertainty for exporters.

"If Mr. Trump gets the pipeline he wants, Canada could expect NAFTA to be re-opened again. And again.

"[I]t could be critical for Mr. Trudeau to convince Mr. Trump that he should consider Canadian oil like U.S. oil -- in other words, that the U.S. should not count Canadian oil as an import when they consider their trade balance.

"Mr. Trudeau must work to make the Trump Administration see Canadian oil as part of their own continental supply -- otherwise, in Washington's eyes, a pipeline or a price change could tilt the balance."

In addition to these arguments that are tantamount to U.S. annexation of Canada and liquidation of any notion of an independent Canada, others are being presented to position Canada to have more trade with China as a back-up if things do not go well with the United States. In this regard, following Trump's abandonment of the TPP, Canada begins exploratory talks on a free trade deal with China starting this month. Another proposal being bandied about is to have Canada work closely with Mexico and Latin America to deal jointly with Trump.

In all these cases, the issue presented is that the crisis of uncertainty Trump has created should not be resolved in favour of a new direction for the economy, including international trade that favours the working people. Instead, the proposals and calls to deal with the crisis direct the country towards preserving the domination and control of the financial oligarchy in one way or another. None of the proposals looks to a new direction for the economy and trade based on having an independent diverse self-reliant economy under the control of the actual producers. A human-centred economy in Canada would rely on its own internal strength and extended reproduction to guarantee the rights and well-being of all, and would trade with others for mutual benefit of the peoples involved and the collective peaceful development of all humanity.


1. The capital-centred economic terms in the National Post item carry loaded meanings that can easily be manipulated to promote a thesis. The market prices for Chinese exports are not comparable with the objective value of similar goods produced in the United States or Canada. The U.S. and Canadian importers of Chinese goods are buying them at market prices far below any comparable prices of production for similar goods produced in the United States and Canada. It could be said that the developing countries are subsidizing the imperialist heartlands.

Many of the Chinese goods exported to the U.S. and elsewhere are produced on orders from huge U.S. (or European or Japanese) retailers such as Wal-Mart or on consignment such as Apple iPhones for sale throughout the world. This results in a transfer of objective value from the Chinese working people to the oligarchs in the U.S. This, coupled with U.S. dollar hegemony as the official and dominant reserve and trading currency within the imperialist system of states, forces developing countries such as China and others to buy U.S.-issued dollar denominated treasury bonds merely to facilitate international trade and commerce, and also as a hedge against attacks on their own currencies. The U.S. trade deficits are mostly illusory as they are partly financed with U.S. treasury bonds and a U.S. national debt that is constantly turned over with new debt until an intractable crisis erupts and a global rebellion against U.S. hegemony sweeps the world.

These are major factors currently transferring value into the coffers of the U.S. financial oligarchy allowing U.S. imperialism amongst other things to finance its massive military and political machine around the world with bases and operations everywhere engaged in continuous predatory wars and interference in sovereign countries up to and including regime change and military occupation.

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Fifth Summit of Community of Latin American and Caribbean States

Meeting Reaffirms Latin America and the
Caribbean as a Zone of Peace

The Fifth Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was held at Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic on January 24-25. CELAC's members include every country in the Americas with the exception of Canada, the United States, and colonial holdings of European countries and the U.S. Altogether, the organization encompasses 33 countries representing over 600 million people.

The Summit opened on January 24 with a minute of silence in homage to the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro. In opening the first session, Dominican President Danilo Medina, whose country held CELAC's presidency for 2016, paid tribute to Fidel as "one of the main promoters of the Community and a firm believer throughout his life in the dream of a region united in the path of progress." In reference to CELAC, he said it was "in this alliance of peoples, in this community of brothers, where we must find the ideas, paths, actions and political will to realize the historical destiny of Latin America and the Caribbean."

CELAC conference opens with minute of silence in honour of Fidel.

Reports indicate that representatives of 29 member countries intervened in the plenary session. A number of member countries did not send heads of state, including Brazil and Argentina, while the presidents of Chile, Colombia and Mexico had confirmed attendance but cancelled at the last minute citing pressing domestic issues. At the end of the Summit, President Salvador Sánchez Cerén assumed the Pro-Tempore Presidency of CELAC for 2017 on behalf of El Salvador, saying it represented a great recognition but also an enormous responsibility for his country.[1]

The Summit concluded with the issuing of the Political Declaration of Punta Cana along with 20 Special Declarations and the 2017 CELAC Plan of Action. Foreign ministers as well as representatives from other government ministries will meet throughout the year to discuss areas of cooperation on issues identified in the Plan of Action.

Declaration of Punta Cana

The Declaration states that "dialogue and political agreement on the basis of mutual trust between our governments and respect for differences are essential for further progress towards the political, economic, social and cultural integration of the Community." It also reaffirms member countries' "commitment to the consolidation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, proclaimed at the II Summit, held in Havana in January 2014, as a benchmark for inter-State relations and contributing to the climate of respect, mutual trust and confidence-building among member countries."

In their relations within the region, member countries are called upon to respect the principles of the Declaration "aimed at the settlement of disputes by peaceful means and the recognition of the right of States to have their own political system and economic, social and cultural development as an indispensable basis for promoting peace and harmony in the region."

The Declaration also expresses CELAC's support for the process of national dialogue in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela between the Government and the opposition "within the framework of the constitution and laws of Venezuela and under the principle of respect for non-interference in the internal affairs of States."

With respect to international peace and security it reaffirms member countries' support for the peaceful use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and urges "the international community to avoid and refrain from unilateral acts that are not compatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Law, such as those which aim to subvert societies or create situations with the potential to foment conflicts between States."

It rejects the application of unilateral coercive measures, including lists and certifications applied to countries of Latin America and the Caribbean in violation of international law.

The Declaration reiterates CELAC's concern over the adoption of the Executive Decree of the United States, originally approved on March 9, 2015 and renewed for the second time in January as one of the last acts of outgoing President Barack Obama, that designates Venezuela as an "unusual and extraordinary threat" to U.S. national security and applies unilateral sanctions against government officials of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The Declaration calls on the United States to unconditionally end the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba and to return the territory occupied by its naval base at Guantánamo to Cuba. At the same time it welcomes the progress in relations between the governments of Cuba and the United States, including the immigration agreement reached on January 12, which ended the so-called wet foot-dry foot policy which granted automatic residency to Cubans who set foot on U.S. soil, and the Parole Program which encouraged Cuban doctors to abandon their overseas missions.

On the issue of decolonization the Declaration reiterates the Latin American and Caribbean character of Puerto Rico and, taking note of the decisions adopted by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United Nations, reaffirms that this is a matter of interest to CELAC.

Other issues addressed and which form part of CELAC's work agenda for 2017 include food security, development, gender equality, migration, disaster risk management, climate change and environmental protection, biodiversity, the struggle against corruption, the global drug problem, culture, international cooperation, trade, human and transnational rights and reform of the United Nations.


1. Each year, the country holding the CELAC presidency for that year hosts a Summit of Heads of State and Government which convenes leaders to set the organization's agenda and objectives for the next year. The first Summit was in Chile in 2013, followed by Cuba (2014), Costa Rica (2015) and Ecuador (2016).

(With files from Prensa Latina, Granma International, Cubadebate. Photos: Escambray.)

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Gathering of Social Movements and Political Forces

More than 400 delegates from 15 countries participated in a Meeting of Social Movements and Political Forces at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic January 23 - 24, parallel to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit. Organizers said participants expressed firm support for the work being done by CELAC to promote integration and called for greater participation of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean in these efforts.

The gathering concluded its deliberations with the issuing of The Declaration of Santo Domingo expressing its "support for the Fifth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the [CELAC States], together with the hope that it will further contribute to the consolidation and strengthening of this important mechanism for concentration of joint action by our countries, in defence of the interests and rights of nations and peoples."

Through the Declaration, those gathered expressed their support for the struggles of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean for peaceful relations and in defence of their sovereignty, independence and right to self-determination. For the full Declaration click here.

(With files from Caribflame)

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Never Has It Been More Necessary to Effectively Advance Along the Path of Unity

Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, at the 5th Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic, on January 25, 2017.


Esteemed President Medina;

Esteemed Heads of State and Government of Latin America and the Caribbean;

Distinguished Heads of Delegations and guests:

At the Summit that gave life to this Community, in Caracas in 2011, we expressed the conviction that "unity and the political, economic, social and cultural integration of Latin America and the Caribbean constitute [...] a requirement for the region to successfully confront the challenges before us."

Never has it been more necessary to effectively advance along the path of unity, recognizing that we have many common interests. Working for "unity within diversity" is an urgent need.

To achieve this, strict adherence to the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by Heads of State and Government in Havana in January 2014, is required, in which we commit ourselves "to strict compliance with their obligation not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other State," and to resolve differences in a peaceful manner, as well as to "fully respect the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system."

It is therefore essential that all members of the international community fully respect the principles of the Proclamation in their relations with CELAC countries.

It would be desirable for the new United States government to opt for respect for the region, although it is a matter of concern that intentions have been declared that endanger our interests in the areas of trade, employment, migration and the environment, among others.

It is therefore imperative to establish common courses of action and to make the organization of CELAC more effective.

Furthermore, a return of neoliberalism would increase poverty and unemployment, thus aggravating social conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mr. President:

We reiterate our support to the Venezuelan people and government in the defense of their sovereignty and self-determination in the face of acts against the Bolivarian Revolution.

We will continue to contribute to the extent of our possibilities to the implementation of the Final Peace Accord between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP and to supporting the peace talks with the ELN.

We reaffirm that the nation of Puerto Rico must be free and independent; we will continue to support the demands of Ecuador in the face of the refusal of transnationals to repair the serious environmental damages in the Amazon; we reject the political manipulation against the Bolivian government and the attempts to destabilize the country; we congratulate President Daniel Ortega for his recent re-election as leader of Nicaragua and also Vice President Rosario Murillo.

We reiterate our rejection of the parliamentary-judicial coup d'état perpetrated in Brazil against President Dilma Rousseff, to whom we express our solidarity, as well as to former president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva.

We reaffirm Cuba's support for the sister Caribbean nations in the face of attempts to deprive them of access to financial resources, in the fight against climate change and in their legitimate claim for reparation for the damages of colonialism and slavery.

We reiterate our encouragement for the efforts of the Argentine Republic to recover the Islas Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

Esteemed President:

I wish to express Cuba's willingness to continue negotiating pending bilateral issues with the United States, on the basis of equality, reciprocity and respect for the sovereignty and independence of our country, and to continue the respectful dialogue and cooperation on issues of common interest with the new government of President Donald Trump.

Cuba and the United States can cooperate and coexist in a civilized manner, respecting differences and promoting all that benefits both countries and peoples, but it should not be expected that to do so Cuba will make concessions inherent to its sovereignty and independence.

The economic, commercial and financial blockade persists, which causes considerable hardships and human damages that severely harm our economy and hamper development.

Despite this, we continue immersed in the updating of our economic and social model and we will continue to fight to build a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation.

I would like to express my deep gratitude to President Danilo Medina for his heartfelt tribute in remembrance of the Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, at the opening ceremony of this Summit, as well as to all those who sent us their condolences and messages of solidarity.

Let me conclude by thanking you and the Dominican people for your hospitality and warm welcome, and congratulating you for the work carried out in heading the CELAC Pro Tempore Presidency; and at the same time express our commitment of support and solidarity to El Salvador and its president Salvador Sánchez Cerén, in his administration on leading the Community during 2017.

Thank you very much. [Applause]


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