June 23, 2018 - No. 24

Amendments to the Canada Elections Act

Measures Said to Target
Foreign Interference in Elections


Atlantic Council and Facebook Team Up to Police
Elections Around the World

For Your Information
Remarks of MLPC on Bill C-76 to Commons
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs

Changes to Electoral Law Pertaining to
Foreign Influence in Elections

Uphold the Rights of All!
Actions to Protect Ottawa's Indigenous Sacred Site
Montreal Meeting Demands Status for All

Latin America
What to Expect at São Paulo Forum in Havana
- Bertha Mojena Milián, Daina Caballero, Granma -
Call to the People of Brazil
- Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva -
The Injustice Committed Against Me Is an Injustice
Against the Brazilian People

- Exclusive Interview with Lula, Elson Concepción Pérez, Granma -

Initiatives that Further Promote Peace, Security
and Prosperity on the Korean Peninsula

Relations Between the Democratic People's Republic
of Korea and China Further Strengthened

Cooperation with Russia
DPRK Begins Repatriation of U.S. Soldiers' Remains
South Korean-U.S. Freedom Guardian War Games Suspended

Amendments to the Canada Elections Act

Measures Said to Target
Foreign Interference in Elections

The Liberal government's Bill C-76, the Elections Modernization Act, is said to address the alleged threat of foreign interference in the electoral process, amongst other things. Hardly a day goes by without it being repeated that foreign interference poses a threat to Canada's democracy and political stability. It is usually said that Russia and China pose such a threat and even the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has been mentioned. A lot of allegations have been made about Russian intervention in the 2016 U.S. election. There are also allegations about third parties funnelling foreign funds into the electoral process.

When Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould appeared as a witness before the Committee on Procedure and House Affairs about Bill C-76, she said, "We are strengthening our laws, closing loopholes, and bringing in robust enforcement regimes to make it more difficult for bad actors to influence our elections." She added, "Bill C-76 proposes changes relating to foreign influence and online disruption that can be addressed within the Canada Elections Act."

What does Gould mean when she says "that can be addressed within the Canada Elections Act?" To date, no convincing evidence has been produced to prove allegations in the U.S. about Russian intervention in the 2016 election. Evidence shows that during the election some individuals and organizations monetized social-media platforms by creating sensationalist stories known as Clickbait. They made a lot of money by lowering the level of politics and eliminating political discourse. Recent evidence also indicates that there was a leak about all the dirty tricks that were being played within the Democratic Party against Bernie Sanders by the Clinton campaign. But other than accusations and counter-accusations and sensationalist stories, no evidence of foreign interference has been produced in either the U.S. or Canada.

Despite this, on March 31 of this year, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the expulsion of four Russian diplomats, declaring in a statement that they had been identified "as intelligence officers or individuals who have used their diplomatic status to undermine Canada's security or interfere in our democracy." When Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan was asked by CBC reporters if the expelled Russians had interfered in the 2015 federal election, he answered that the "statement stands on its own" and added "for national security reasons, I can't go into details on that." He also wouldn't answer the question as to why they weren't kicked out earlier if they had actually interfered in the 2015 election. The CBC resorted to interviewing Wesley Wark, a University of Ottawa professor specializing in cyber security and intelligence, who said, "You shouldn't read the message to indicate that the government has evidence specifically of election meddling. On that front it is a shot across the bows." The CBC concluded the expulsion was "meant to send a message to the Russians that Ottawa won't put up with influence operations."

Furthermore, the report issued by the Canadian Communications Security Establishment (CSE) about the cyber security threat to elections in Canada merely reiterated the unfounded allegations made by the FBI, CIA and NSA in the United States.

Given that the government is not providing the people with any facts as to what exactly is at stake here and what the issues are, it is clear that it is using the threat of foreign interference to take measures that are not really about fighting foreign interference. We cannot draw any other conclusion.

It is thus important to know what Bill C-76 proposes in this regard.

At the Committee on Procedure and House Affairs meeting that the Marxist-Leninist Party (MLPC) attended on June 7, another witness was Vivian Krause, a researcher and writer. She refers to a 36-page complaint filed with the Commissioner of Elections by Alberta Conservative MP Michael Cooper alleging that in the 2015 election campaign, the U.S.-based Tides Foundation donated about $700,000 to eight third parties. The complaint has never been published and the Commissioner of Elections has not released any details as to whether or not an investigation is underway. Despite this, Krause told the Committee that third parties have been the agents of those who want to "land-lock the tar sands" in Canada.

When Krause was asked at the Committee meeting precisely what was done during the 2015 election to exercise foreign influence she couldn't say. She suggested that foreign agents operate between elections and by the time an election comes the damage is already done. She argued the law should go further, for example, to ban organizations from getting foreign funds in the same way political parties and candidates can only get contributions from Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

These accusations, which have not been proven, amount to corporate rivalries supporting one side or another of an issue. And on this matter, what is the point of targeting third parties as "funnels," given that corporations can directly intervene as third parties? Any corporation that has operations in Canada can participate in elections as a third party and can also contribute "Canadian funds" to a third party. All of these regulations on money do nothing to actually distinguish what constitutes foreign intervention in an election which has more to do with how the national interest is defined and who defines it.

In the end, Bill C-76 is going to do very little, if anything, to prevent those who want to covertly influence political discourse in Canada by funding promotion of, or opposition to, a particular cause, be it pipelines or anything else. The Chief Electoral Officer, for example, has noted that there is nothing to prevent a foreign entity from giving money to one Canadian entity which can then legally give it to a third party to spend. He suggested there should be even more anti-collusion measures.

There is definitely a chill factor with the increased regulatory burden Bill C-76 imposes on third parties. The increased regulation is said to prevent the "inter-mingling" of foreign contributions with domestic contributions. But at the same time, a foreign-owned corporation with operations in Canada does not have to show where it got its money. There is nothing to stop it from receiving a transfer from a foreign headquarter's slush fund to promote any kind of project in Canada, especially one that is opposed by Canadians.

The new regulatory burden will affect those "third parties" that have fewer funds to make their views heard. Big organizations will be undaunted and will actually be able to spend more as third parties.

There is a real issue here about how far the ruling circles can go in banning political opinion and its expression without coming up against the current limits of the law. Bill C-76 is related to limiting expenditures and the sources of expenditures, whereas the ruling circles are targeting the content of political discourse currently protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What Gould is in fact saying is that measures are being taken elsewhere -- such as in Bill C-59, An Act Respecting national security matters, which enable the CSE to engage in cyber security ops in the name of defending the electoral and political process. These are secret police powers that nobody can contest because they are conducted above the law in the name of "national security." Already strike struggles for health and safety in the operation of railways, community actions related to pipelines and other issues have been declared matters that relate to national security.

Bill C-76 claims to address a problem of foreign interference in federal elections but what this problem is only the security and intelligence agencies seem to know. Such a problem has not been identified by the polity which has to take the word of the security and intelligence agencies. Canadians have often been told in the cases of security certificates that the intelligence agencies cannot show proof or discuss their work in public. This is problematic. How can Canadians accept the proposed amendments, that are said to deal with foreign interference in elections so as to counter the danger this poses to the Canadian democracy, when they have no evidence of any such danger?

If there is a problem of foreign interference in elections, in the end the only defence is to empower the people but this is precisely what the electoral act is not doing. On the contrary, it is increasing regulations that potentially criminalize political participation by those individuals, parties and associations which do not have access to power and privilege and the loopholes through which the rich and powerful promote their interests. Only by developing their own independent politics that contribute to the movement for people's empowerment, can Canadians affirm their right to lay claims on society, a right which belongs to them by virtue of being human.

Only on this basis can Canadians make up their own minds about what foreign interests and interference endangers their quest for a stable economy, political independence, a healthy natural and social environment and peace. In the absence of this, the recommendations to defend elections from foreign interference do not appear to respond to pertinent situations, requirements, or past or present experience. Real measures are being taken elsewhere and they target the right of Canadians to associate and act in a manner which they deem beneficial to themselves and their society. Whether during an election or between elections, Canadians come up against the argument of endangering the national interest. What comprises the national interest and who decides is thus a serious concern.

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Atlantic Council and Facebook Team Up to Police Elections Around the World

The Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) has announced a partnership with Facebook to defend "election integrity" all over the globe. The joint program will "identify, expose, and explain disinformation during elections around the world as part of a broader initiative to provide independent and credible research about the role of social media in elections, as well as democracy more generally." The aim of DFRLab is to "continually track disinformation campaigns, fake news stories, covert military developments, and subversive attempts against democracy while teaching the public skills to identify and expose attempts to pollute the information space." Even though it is teaming up with Facebook, the DFRLab says it will continue to "cast an independent and critical eye on all platforms, including Facebook itself." In this regard, it notes that Facebook already has a dedicated monitoring team expected to reach 20,000 by the end of 2018.

The May 17 announcement by DFRLab states that public debate is at the heart of democracy, and that debate requires information as its foundation. It continues, "Too often in recent years, we have witnessed attacks on this foundation: the deliberate spreading of false information, hostile state actors promoting divisive content, and attacks on fact-based reporting and evidence-based research." It says that "bad actors or aggressive minorities can abuse connections for power, profit, or propaganda."

DFRLab elaborates its mission: "to expose and explain falsehood online and to identify its source and amplifiers." It reports that it is "looking at everything from conflict in Syria, to protests in Russia, to politically motivated automation and bots in Malaysia." It says it will provide "a range of information that we can either prove or disprove and let our audience draw their own conclusions." It emphasizes the parsing of "examples of disinformation into component pieces and explaining the overall challenge because terms like 'fake news' and 'botnets' feel pervasive and more daunting than it has to be."

On June 22-23, the DFRLab convened a Symposium in Berlin entitled "360/OS Welcome to the Digital Engagement Age." It was described as the launch of a project to "harness the power of open source, social media, and digital forensic research." DFRLab says the tools they are creating will "identify the once-unidentifiable and discern the previously indiscernible" to "create and cultivate techniques needed to expose falsehoods and fake news, document human rights abuses, and report the actuality of global events in real time." Guest speakers were described as "policymakers, business and media leaders, journalists, and civil society activists at the helm of the battle against disinformation, deception, and propaganda."

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave a keynote speech on the topic "Democracy Hijacked." The Symposium also featured a "Freedom Awards Dinner" honouring Albright. Chris Krebs, Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, spoke on the topic "For and By the People: A View from the Government," along with Janis Sarts, Director, NATO StratCom Center of Excellence. Speakers from the corporate sector included Facebook's Global Politics and Government Outreach Director Katie Harbath and Microsoft's Director for Cybersecurity Policy Jan Neutze.

The money is flowing from NATO and the monopoly social-media sector to fund these kinds of activities that are creating a network of NATO-led policing of political information on the internet through an alliance of corporate, state security apparatuses and NGOs.

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For Your Information

Remarks of MLPC on Bill C-76 to Commons
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs

The Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada (MLPC) was invited to appear as a witness before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs on June 6, 2018. The MLPC was given five minutes to explain its views on the 352 pages of amendments contained in Bill C-76, the Elections Modernization Act. MLPC National Leader Anna Di Carlo limited herself to introductory remarks on two aspects of Bill C-76. The text of the remarks follows.

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Mr. Chairman;

Esteemed Members of the Committee;

Bill C-76 stands as a missed opportunity to uphold democratic principles and contribute to alleviating the perception that party governments do not have the consent of the governed. The refusal to address this problem will not stand anyone in good stead, neither the political parties that think they may benefit nor the polity as a whole. Bill C-76 does nothing to address the problem of the way elections are conducted. The electoral process and election results do not inspire confidence that a mandate has been provided, supported by the people.

Two problems are the violations of the right to an informed vote and the need to have equality of all those who come forward to be elected. Both are linked. The unequal treatment of candidates resulting from the privileges accorded to so-called major parties violates Canadians' right to an informed vote. Privileged forces decide what the people should hear and why, which is truly self-serving and anti-democratic.

Since the seventies, political equality has been equated with the existence of an even playing field for all parties and candidates. They must all equally meet the same eligibility criteria, respect spending limits, etc.

But this is meaningless when the electoral law accords privileges to some because only the so-called major parties are considered contenders to form governments. Only they deserve to be heard and all others are dismissed as fringe or incidental. Those with power give themselves a privileged role and the electoral law is skewed in their favour. This is not democratic! The only ones who do not see the self-serving nature of these arrangements are those who enact and apply laws to serve themselves. Canadians see it for what it is: a violation of fundamental democratic principles exacerbating the crisis of credibility and legitimacy of the electoral law.

Public funding for parties and candidates was introduced partly in the name of moderating inequalities. Since the law has been and continues to be informed by the aim of giving rise to a party government, the funding regime has been continually reformed to favour the so-called major parties and not to uphold the right to an informed vote and the need to have equality of all those who come forward to be elected.

Bill C-76 maintains this framework. An opportunity to address this problem arose by accepting the recommendation of the Chief Electoral Officer regarding the privilege-based broadcasting allocation formula. For 17 years, Elections Canada has recommended that a public resource of free broadcasting time be increased and allocated equally to all registered political parties. Each time, the recommendation has been rejected. For the next election in 2019, it means the majority of public broadcasting time will once again go to parties in the House of Commons, with the ruling Liberal Party receiving the lion's share. Since free broadcasting is not considered an expense or contribution in kind counted towards spending limits, the allocation regime is another indication of how meaningless the spending limits are in real life.

In regards to Canadians' right to privacy, we stand with the Privacy Commissioner and others who call for the parties to be subject to the privacy laws, with the objective of ensuring the privacy of electors is not violated.

However, great irony arises in the calls for the electoral law to require party attestations to respect the privacy of electors when the law itself violates privacy. In 2006, the Conservative Party was in the vanguard of micro-targeting with its Constituent Information Management Systems (CIMS). The governing party introduced unique identifiers for all electors and bingo cards. It wanted the unique identifier to make data integration and the micro-targeting and surveillance of electors easier. By introducing bingo cards, it turned Elections Canada workers into substitutes for party scrutineers who used to monitor the polls to see who had voted. All the parties in the House supported these measures.

Now, as a matter of course, unique voter identifiers are handed over to political parties without the prior consent of voters. This is just wrong. An affirmative process is needed where electors give prior consent. They must have the option to have their unique identification numbers removed from the list of electors when given to political parties. In addition, it should be their choice to divulge information as to whether or not they voted, that is, to be listed or not on bingo cards.

As it stands, an elector can remove themself by deregistering and reregistering in the next election. But even this is to no avail because when the elector reregisters at the polls, they receive the same unique identifier as before -- the specific tracking identifier remains forever.

Two points are key. The first is that unique identifiers are not required for purposes of maintaining the integrity of the permanent list of electors. Secondly, and more importantly, tracking electors and building profiles about them does nothing to raise the level of political discourse within the polity. It does not enhance the involvement of electors in the political process. The purpose is purely to facilitate the collection of information about electors and target them for the use of the big firms hired to run campaigns. The information is used to nudge electors to vote for the particular party the firm serves or against a rival party or not to vote at all. Nothing politicizing exists with all this. To say tracking electors and building profiles about them enhances democracy or the democratic process just adds to people's feeling that the entire process is self-serving and out of their control.

The privacy debate has focused on the developments in voter surveillance and micro-targeting by firms specialized in the field of data analytics -- such as the infamous Cambridge Analytica to mention only one. Clouded by this focus is how micro-targeting impacts the process, particularly how it relates negatively to political parties fulfilling their purported duties as "primary political organizations" for the polity, to involve electors in discussion and debate about the problems facing society and deciding the agenda and policies the society needs.

In addition, through sleight of hand, the huge expenditures in software and data based technology are not considered an election expense. This absence is yet another mockery of the premise that election spending limits contribute to an even playing field and equality.

In our opinion, the developments warrant a full public inquiry. Certainly modern technology should be used in elections in the 21st century but its use should not violate democratic principles. The time has come to have public deliberations on all the fundamental premises of the electoral process: how mandates are arrived at; how candidates are selected; the use of public funds so that all candidates, regardless of whether they are a member of one or another political party, or no political party at all, stand as equals. We say fund the process not the parties. Use public funds to inform electors of all candidates and end the privileged position of so-called major parties.

I am available to deal with the aspects I have raised or any others as concerns the electoral act with which I am very familiar. I have been involved with it since the Spicer Commission in 1991 and the MLPC has been at the receiving end of all its unfair and anti-democratic measures since 1972, the first year our Party participated in elections. We are well versed in the flaws of the electoral law and what Canadians think of it in practice.

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Changes to Electoral Law Pertaining to
Foreign Influence in Elections

The current Canada Elections Act (CEA) already contains several provisions which are said to address the potential of foreign interference in a federal election. There is a general provision, Section 331, titled "Non-interference by Foreigners," with a subhead "Prohibition -- inducements by non-residents." It states that "No person who does not reside in Canada shall, during an election period, in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate unless the person is (a) a Canadian citizen; or (b) a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act." The current CEA does not define the term "induce."

This provision recognizes the legitimacy of electoral activities by individuals who have a stake in Canada by virtue of citizenship or by virtue of living in the country and prohibits activity by those who do not. It recognizes the right of all people who are citizens, permanent residents, or residents in Canada to participate. Within this, only citizens are entitled to elect and to be elected, while only citizens and permanent residents can make contributions to political parties and candidates.

The CEA does not define what it means for a person to "reside in Canada," unlike its reference to "permanent resident," which is a specific, legally conferred status. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act refers to "foreign nationals" who are conferred "temporary resident status" through work permits, student visa, and extended visitor's permits.

Bill C-76, the Elections Modernization Act, repeals section 331 of the CEA and replaces it with one titled Undue Influence by Foreigners. The new section details the persons and entities captured by the term "foreign" and what activities comprise "undue influence." It also amends other provisions that relate to "foreign third parties" and Canadian third parties, that is any person or organization other than a registered political party or a candidate.

Undue Influence by Foreigners

Bill C-76 defines a "foreigner" as follows:

- an individual who is not a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident, or a resident of Canada;

- "a corporation or entity incorporated, formed or otherwise organized outside Canada that does not carry on business in Canada or whose only activity carried on in Canada during an election period consists of doing anything to influence electors during that period to vote or refrain from voting, or to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate or registered party, at the election;"

- a trade union that does not hold bargaining rights for employees in Canada;

- a foreign political party; or

- a foreign government or an agent or mandatary of a foreign government.

To commit a crime of "undue influence" any of these persons or entities must "knowingly:"

- incur any expense to directly promote or oppose a candidate in that election, a registered party, or the leader of a registered party;

- make or publish a prohibited false statement about any of these entities; or

- do anything to influence an elector to not vote or to vote in a certain way that involves breaking any law enacted by the federal or provincial governments, or related regulations.

The time frame for commission of an offence of "undue influence" is simply "in that election."

The definition of "promoting or opposing" includes: naming a registered party or eligible party, identifying it through other means such as a logo, or providing a link to an internet page that either names the party or shows its logo; in the case of individuals standing as potential candidates, candidates, nomination contestants, or leaders, it means naming, showing a photograph, cartoon or drawing of him or her, and/or identifying the person by name or by logo affiliation, or providing a link to an internet page that does any of this.

False statements prohibited by Bill C-76 are: "(a) a false statement that a candidate, a prospective candidate, the leader of a political party or a public figure associated with a political party has committed an offence under an Act of Parliament or a regulation made under such an Act -- or under an Act of the legislature of a province or a regulation made under such an Act -- or has been charged with or is under investigation for such an offence; or (b) a false statement about the citizenship, place of birth, education, professional qualifications or membership in a group or association of a candidate, a prospective candidate, the leader of a political party or a public figure associated with a political party." These provisions apply not only to foreigners, but to all persons and entities.

Bill C-76 will also make it illegal for any person or entity "to sell any advertising space ... for purposes of enabling [a foreign entity as defined in the law] to unduly influence ..."

Exemptions to Undue Influence

Bill C-76 exempts certain activities from the crime of "undue influence by foreigners." It says there is no prohibition "if the only thing done by the person or entity to influence the elector to vote or refrain from voting ... consists of (a) an expression of their opinion about the outcome or desired outcome of the election; (b) a statement by them that encourages the elector to vote or refrain from voting for any candidate or registered party in the election; or (c) the transmission to the public through broadcasting, or through electronic or print media, of an editorial, a debate, a speech, an interview, a column, a letter, a commentary or news, regardless of the expense incurred in doing so."

It is precisely through these means that the United States, Canada and other countries interfere in the internal affairs of countries such as Venezuela to achieve "regime change." The aim of these exemptions is thus not clear, except inasmuch as they pertain to the domain that comes under print, digital and broadcast media and are thus presumably protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Foreign Third Parties

The current CEA prohibits "foreign third parties" from spending more than $500 for election advertising during the official election campaign period. Bill C-76 bans any spending by them for election advertising, election surveys, or partisan activity both during the pre-writ period (June 30 to the start of the election campaign) and the election campaign. The legislation does not regulate activities outside of this period.

"Foreign third parties" are comprised of the same persons and entities listed under the section on "undue influence by foreigners," with the exception of foreign political parties and foreign governments.

Canadian Third Parties Caught in Proposed Amendments

Currently, the CEA requires any person, corporation, trade union or group to register if they spend more than $500 on election advertising during an election campaign period. They are not allowed to use any foreign funds for electoral advertising and they must file a report listing all contributions they received for the purpose of election advertising starting from six months before the election. Final reports are due six months after the election. The reports must list the name and address of anyone who contributed more than $200 for election advertising.

For third parties, Bill C-76 defines foreign funds as contributions from the same list of persons and entities defined as "foreigners" under the section Undue Influence by Foreigners, with one exception. Funds received from residents of Canada who are not citizens or permanent residents are not allowed to be used, even though the law entitles a resident to register as a third party.

Bill C-76 expands the regulation of activities by third parties to include expenditures not only for election advertising, but also door-to-door canvassing and phone calls. Expenses for election surveys are also included. An "election survey" is defined as "a survey respecting whether persons intend to vote at an election or who they voted for or will vote for at an election or respecting an issue with which a registered party or candidate is associated." As it pertains specifically to third parties, Bill C-76 adds that it is one "whose results [the third party] takes into account (a) in deciding whether or not to organize and carry out partisan activities or to transmit partisan advertising messages or election advertising messages; or (b) in their organization and carrying out of those activities of their transmission of those messages."

During the pre-writ period, "issue advertising," that is, advertising that promotes or opposes an issue with which a political party or candidate may be associated, is exempt so long as it does not tell people how to vote.

Spending during the pre-writ period is set at close to $1 million for third parties, compared to $1.5 million for political parties, but in the case of political parties election surveys are not treated as an expense. During the campaign period, third parties will be allowed to spend approximately $500,000.

The reporting requirements for third parties have been significantly increased. They must file not only post-election reports with Elections Canada, but interim reports as well, the first one being due five days after they register, in which they detail both the election-related activities they have carried out and contributions received to pay for them going back to polling day of the previous election.

Provisions Related to "Fake News" and "Cyber Attacks"

Two components of the alleged threat of foreign influence are commonly referred to as "fake news" and "cyber attacks." Bill C-76 amends the sections of the CEA that pertain to offences involving misleading the public and unauthorized use of computers. It introduces a section titled "Misleading publications." It says it is an offence to publish, transmit or distribute material that purports to be made by a political party, candidate or prospective candidate "with the intent of misleading the public." An exemption is provided for materials "manifestly ... for the purpose of parody or satire."

Under a section titled "Unauthorized use of computer," Bill C-76 makes it an offence for anyone to use computers "fraudulently, and with the intention of affecting the results of an election." This lengthy list includes tampering with a computer system by destroying computer data, rendering data ineffective, or doing anything to obstruct "the lawful use of computer data or deny access to a person or entity ... entitled to access to it," and trafficking in, or permitting access to a password.

Broadcasting from Outside Canada

In addition, there is a provision in the CEA prohibiting the use of a broadcasting station outside of Canada. It states: "No person shall, with intent to influence persons to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate at an election, use, aid, abet, counsel or procure the use of a broadcasting station outside Canada, during an election period, for the broadcasting of any matter having reference to an election." It also specifically prohibits the use of a broadcasting station outside of Canada for election advertising. Bill C-76 creates an exemption in cases where the signal originates in Canada.

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Uphold the Rights of All!

Actions to Protect Ottawa's Indigenous Sacred Site

On June 22, a march took place through the streets of Ottawa at the call of Algonquin elders. A leaflet called on the people of Ottawa of all faiths to join with Indigenous faith leaders on a peaceful walk to demand the return and restoration of the ancient sacred site Akikodjiwan/Ainabka (the Chaudière Falls) and islands to the Anishinabe/Algonquin people.

More than 300 people gathered near the falls on Victoria Island, and walked up Wellington Street to Parliament Hill to voice their opposition to the plans of the National Capital Commission and the City of Ottawa to help finance the private corporation, Windmill Development Group, to build a massive condo project which they call Zibi. The project is advertised as a "World Class sustainable waterfront community in downtown Ottawa and Gatineau that provides condo and town home living with natural surroundings."

The Indigenous elders say that the government and developers are ignoring Indigenous rights to the island and water and are demanding that Akikodjiwan, be returned to its original purpose as a meeting place of peace. They point out that Article 12 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clearly states: "Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, protect and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites."

On Parliament Hill, Albert Dumont, an Alqonquin elder, poet, traditional teacher and one of the organizers, spoke about the importance of the Algonquins' request to defend their sacred site and return it to their care on behalf of all nations.

Mr. Dumont pointed out that Indigenous peoples are still fighting against oppression, to regain their languages, and for a share of the riches being removed from their territories each and every day, so that impoverished communities can grow an economy and build schools. "But it is the struggle to revive our ancient spirituality which is of greatest concern for me and many, many more Algonquins and their supporters. Our spirituality was our way of life! Is it too much to ask to have it there once again for those of us who respect and honour it?" he asked.

Among the other speakers was Douglas Cardinal, a renowned architect  planner, activist, philosopher, artist, and Anishinabe elder. Amongst the many projects Cardinal designed is the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau. He was recently the Presenter of Canada's official entry to the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. He spoke of the important role of women in fighting for Indigenous rights and providing communities with the strength they need to defend their dignity.

This was the third annual "Spirituality Is Unity Walk" to protect Akikodjiwan and the organizers pledge that the fight will be carried on until the Indigenous people have the right to decide what happens on their lands.

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Montreal Meeting Demands Status for All

On June 16, a press conference was organized by Solidarity Across Borders in Montreal's Park Extension area to bring to the fore the plight of migrants in Canada. This was followed by a march to demand status for all. Since 2004, the group and its allies have organized an annual march demanding a comprehensive, ongoing, regularization program for all migrants in Canada without full status and an end to deportations.

At the press conference, Solidarity Across Borders representative Claire Abraham refuted the claim that the Canadian and Quebec governments do not have the means to provide proper care for migrants crossing into Canada from the U.S. She decried the lie that migrants are to blame for the lack of services available to the rest of the population. She said that it is the anti-social offensive that has been unleashed against the population that is to blame, with cuts to health care, education, social programs and the list goes on.

The first to speak at the press conference was Margarita, a Mexican woman who came to Canada in 2009. She fled her home country to escape domestic violence and has been living here without legal status since 2013, as a result of poor advice provided to her by a lawyer. She has been living in fear, concerned that if she tries to legalize her situation she will face deportation. She raised some of the difficulties facing people without status. For example, although she works 13 hours per week, she is only paid $6 per hour. She is provided no labour protection, nor does she have access to health care, even though she suffers from a number of health-related issues, because she fears arrest and deportation.

Margarita recalled that in February 2017 Montreal became a Sanctuary City. She says that this has not improved the lives of migrants here in any concrete way.

The next to speak was Carmelo Monge, from Mexicans United for Regularization. He spoke of the psychological and emotional shock and trauma that migrants suffer as a result of arrest and living in detention centres. He noted the psychological harm this causes in particular to women and children. He cited the recent arrest of Lucy Francineth Granados in Montreal, who fled Guatemala to the U.S., making her way to Canada in 2009. Her application for asylum was refused by Canada and she was ordered deported. She defied that deportation order. In 2017, she filed an application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, which has not yet been heard. Nonetheless, on March 20, after living in Montreal for nine years, four Canadian Border Service Agents forced their way into her home and proceeded to violently arrest her. She was thrown onto a table and then the ground, her arm twisted while an agent held her down with a knee pressed into her back. She was taken to the Laval Detention Centre, detained there until April 13, and then deported to Guatemala.

Serge Bouchereau, spokesperson for the Comité d'action des personnes sans statut, explained that his organization was established after the Harper government lifted the moratorium on deportations to Haiti and Zimbabwe. Through the work of the committee and other like-minded organizations, Bouchereau said that many were finally able to remain in Canada. Last year, as the committee prepared to disband, a great number of migrants began arriving from the U.S., which forced the committee to expand its mandate. He questioned why it was that the two levels of government in Canada have not been able to take measures to welcome migrants, as part of Canada's commitment to the Geneva Convention, following Trump's decision to suspend the temporary protected status of nationals from a number of countries. Bouchereau recalled how Justin Trudeau claimed they would be received with open arms. "To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith," the Prime Minister said. However, Bouchereau's organization, part of Solidarity Across Borders, had to go to the border and denounce the military camp set up there, where people were not even provided such basic necessities as a shower while being vetted by the RCMP.

At 2:00 pm, hundreds of people participated in the lively march through the streets of Park Extension, alerting the people to the grave situation facing migrants and calling upon them to join the struggle in defence of their rights.  

The fight for the recognition of the rights of all is ongoing. Only through the involvement of the people will the rights of all be provided with a guarantee.

It Can Be Done!

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Latin America

What to Expect at São Paulo Forum in Havana

Twenty-five years after the Fourth Meeting of the São Paulo Forum in Havana, Cuba is once again hosting this space for the left forces of the region to coordinate politically, to discuss and establish guidelines for the struggles that unite us. This was confirmed at a press conference by Idalmis Brooks Beltrán, an official of the Department of International Relations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, which attends the São Paulo Forum.

Granma: What is the São Paulo Forum?

Idalmis Brooks Beltrán: It is a forum composed of more than a hundred Latin American and Caribbean left parties and groups, founded in Brazil in 1990 to discuss and join forces for the common good, based on the challenges that were imposed on the left with the collapse of the socialist camp and by the consequences of neo-liberalism in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro and former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva played a decisive role in its development.

Granma: How many meetings have been held?

IBB: There have been 23 meetings, two of which were held in Havana (in 1993 and 2001). The Cuban capital also hosted meetings of the São Paulo Forum Working Group in 1994, 1997, 2000, 2006 and 2013.

Granma: Why this meeting in Havana?

IBB: The 23rd São Paulo Forum in Managua, Nicaragua, in July 2017, concluded with a popular action celebrating the 38th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution. There, then first vice-president of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, affirmed the commitment of our country to the unity and integration of the region. At that time, it was announced that Cuba was prepared to host the 24th meeting of the Forum.

A political convocation was sent to Forum members on May 23, by Commander José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, member of the Secretariat and head of the Department of International Relations of the Communist Party of Cuba. In it he reiterated that for Cuba, hosting the Forum constitutes an internationalist political commitment to forces that make up the Forum and those who share the conviction that it is time to unite ideas and efforts to stop the current counterrevolutionary offensive of the international and regional right against all the political projects that have brought forward changes these last years in favour of a more sovereign, integrated and just Latin America and Caribbean.

23rd São Paulo Forum, Managua, Nicaragua, July 17, 2017.

Granma: What will happen between July 15 and July 17?

IBB: Although the delegates and guests will start arriving in the country some days before, this 24th meeting of the São Paulo Forum will take place in the Convention Centre July 15 to 17.

After its inauguration there will be important plenaries devoted to discussion of the struggle against colonialism and for anti-imperialist solidarity, and the need for Latin American and Caribbean unity and integration. There will also be a special plenary on the thought of Commandante Fidel Castro and its relation to the São Paulo Forum.

There will also be meetings for women, young people and parliamentarians, and two workshops -- closely linked -- on Art and Culture and Political Communication and Media.

As is traditional, the Political Training School of the São Paulo Forum; meetings of its regional secretariats and its Working Group; and a Regional Meeting of the World Federation of Democratic Youth (FMJD) will also take place.

Granma: What is being added on this occasion?

IBB: In addition to the traditional meetings and workshops, the 3rd Meeting between the Party of the European Left and the São Paulo Forum will be held. In this space, both forces will talk about the different realities and ways to build and achieve consensus on different issues that unite us and that affect humanity today.

For the first time in this type of meeting there will also be dialogue between the São Paulo Forum and platforms and organizations of the social and popular movement of the region. This is an opportunity to exchange ideas on the current political situation in Latin America and the Caribbean and draw up strategies that favour the coordination and unity in action of the left of the continent.

Granma: What is expected from the meeting in Havana?

IBB: Cuba hopes that the Latin American and Caribbean left will be able to discuss the urgent situation in the region today, similar to when the São Paulo Forum was created. Therefore, it is necessary to redirect our struggles from the unity and integration of political forces and social movements, to finalizing a plan of action developed together, achievable and measurable in time, that will be included in the Final Declaration of the Meeting.

Granma: What does it mean for Cuba?

IBB: This meeting again offers Cuba the opportunity to be a space where the main issues of the continent are discussed and analyzed, and for a reunion with friends and leaders of the Latin American and Caribbean left who will be present in the plenary sessions and different spaces that have been organized. And, above all, it is a chance for our young people to get to know first hand the important role that the Island plays in the struggles of the region.

Granma: How can one learn about what will happen at the 24th São Paulo Forum?

IBB: The activities taking place during the forum will be widely covered by the national and foreign press. You can keep up to date by consulting the official page of the São Paulo Forum here, as well as its social media accounts. Granma will be providing uninterrupted coverage of this event on its online site, in its printed version, and in its social media profiles.

(June 20, 2018. Translated from original Spanish by TML.)

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Call to the People of Brazil

Lula speaks at rally as Lula for President tour concludes in Paraná, March 28, 2018.

For two months now, I have been unjustly incarcerated without having committed any crime. For two months I have been unable to travel the country I love, bringing the message of hope of a better and more just Brazil, with opportunities for all, as I always did during 45 years of public life.

I am deprived of my daily life with my sons and my daughter, my grandsons and granddaughters, my great-granddaughter, my friends and comrades. But I have no doubt that they have put me here to prevent me from being with my larger family: the Brazilian people. This is what distresses me the most, because I know that outside, every day, more and more families are back to living in the streets, abandoned by the State that should protect them.

From where I am, I want to renew the message of faith in Brazil and in our people. Together, we have been able to overcome difficult times, serious economic, political and social crises. Together, under my government, we overcame hunger, unemployment, recession, the enormous pressures of international capital and its representatives in the country. Together, we reduced the age-old disease of social inequality that marked Brazil's formation: Indigenous genocide, the enslavement of blacks and the exploitation of the workers of the city and the countryside.

We fought injustice tirelessly. With our heads held high, we have come to be considered the most optimistic people in the world. We have deepened our democracy and we have gained international prominence with the creation of UNASUR, CELAC, BRICS and our relationship of solidarity with African countries. Our voice was heard in the G8 and in the most important world fora.

I am sure we can rebuild this country and dream, once again, like a great nation. That's what keeps me fighting.

I will not settle for the suffering of the poorest and the punishment that is falling on our working class, just as I will not settle for my situation.

Those who accused me in Lava Jato [Operation Car Wash] know that they lied because I never owned, never had possession of, nor spent one night in the Guarujá apartment. Those who condemned me, Sérgio Moro and the TRF-4 [Federal Regional Court of the 4th Region] judges, know that they set up a judicial farce to arrest me because I was able to prove my innocence in the case and they were not able to present proof of the crime they accuse me of.

To this day I ask myself: where is the proof?

I was not treated by the prosecutors of Lava Jato, Moro and TRF-4 as a citizen equal to everyone else. I have always been treated as an enemy.

I do not cultivate hatred or hold any grudge, but I doubt my executioners can sleep with a clear conscience.

Against all injustices, I have the constitutional right to appeal out of jail, but this right has been denied to me so far, for the sole reason that my name is Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

That is why I consider myself a political prisoner in my country.

When it became clear that they were going to take me in by force, without crime or evidence, I decided to stay in Brazil and face my jailers. I know my place in history and I know the place reserved for those who persecute me today. I am sure that justice will make truth prevail.

In the caravans around Brazil I recently took part in I saw hope in people's eyes. And I also saw the anguish of those who are suffering the return of hunger and unemployment, malnourishment, school dropouts, workers robbed of rights and the destruction of the constitutionally guaranteed policies of social inclusion, that are now denied in practice.

It is to end the suffering of the people that I am again running for President.

I take on this mission because I have a great responsibility to Brazil and because Brazilians have the right to vote freely for a project of greater solidarity, a more just and sovereign country, and persevering in the project of Latin American integration.

I am a candidate because I sincerely believe that the Electoral Court will be coherent with its judicial precedents going back to 2002 and not bow to the blackmail of exception, just to deny my right and the right of voters to choose who represents them best.

I ran many times during my career, but this race is different: it is my life's commitment. Those who had the privilege of seeing Brazil advance on behalf of the poorest, after centuries of exclusion and abandonment, cannot sit idle during the most difficult time for our people.

I know that my candidacy represents hope, and we will take it to the final outcome, because we have the strength of the people at our side.

We have the right to dream again, after the nightmare that was imposed on us by the 2016 coup.

They lied to overthrow the legitimately elected President Dilma Rousseff. They lied saying that the country would improve if the Workers' Party was ousted from government, that there would be more jobs and more development. They lied to impose the program that was defeated at the polls in 2014. They lied to destroy the project of eradicating extreme poverty that we put in place under my government. They lied to give away the nation's wealth and to favour the economic and financial powers, in a scandalous betrayal of the people's will manifested clearly and unequivocally in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014.

The hour of truth is coming.

I want to be president of Brazil once again because I have already proved that it is possible to build a better Brazil for our people. We proved that the country can grow for the benefit of all when the government places the workers and the poorest at the centre of the concerns, and does not become a slave to the interests of the rich and powerful. And we proved that only the inclusion of millions of poor people can make the economy grow and recover.

We govern for the people and not for the market. It is the opposite of what the government of our opponents is doing, at the service of financiers and multinationals, that abolished the historic rights of workers, reduced real wages, cut off investments in health and education, and is destroying programs like Bolsa Familia, Minha Casa Minha Vida, Pronaf, Luz Para Todos, Prouni, and FIES, some of the many programs aimed at social justice.

I dream of being president of Brazil to end the suffering of those who do not have money anymore to buy gas, who now have to use wood for cooking or, even worse, alcohol and become victims of serious accidents and burns. This is one of the cruellest setbacks caused by the policy of the destruction of Petrobras and our national sovereignty, led by PSDB [Brazilian Social Democracy Party] supporters who backed the 2016 coup.

Petrobras was not created to generate gains for Wall Street speculators in New York, but to ensure oil self-sufficiency in Brazil at prices compatible with the popular economy. Petrobras must be Brazilian again. You can be certain that we are going to end this tale of selling off its assets. It will no longer be hostage to the oil multinationals. It will once again play a strategic role in the country's development, including in directing the pre-salt resources to education, our passport to the future.

You can also be sure that we will prevent the privatization of Eletrobras, Banco do Brasil and Caixa and the emptying of the BNDES [Brazilian Development Bank] and of all the tools available to the country to promote development and social welfare.

I dream of being president of a country where the judge pays more attention to the Constitution and less to the newspaper headlines; where rule of law is the rule, without exceptional measures.

I dream of a country where democracy prevails over anyone's discretion, the monopoly media, prejudice and discrimination.

I dream of being the president of a country where everyone has rights and nobody has privileges; a country where everyone can have three meals a day again; where children can attend school, where everyone has the right to work for dignified wages and with the protection of the law; a country in which every rural worker once again has access to land to produce, with financing and technical assistance; a country where people will once again have confidence in the present and hope for the future.

And which for this very reason is once again respected internationally, that once again promotes Latin American integration and cooperation with Africa, and exercises a sovereign position in international dialogues on trade and the environment, for peace and friendship among peoples.

We know the way to carry out these dreams. Today it is through the holding of free and democratic elections, with the participation of all political forces, with no rules of exception to block a certain candidate.

Only then will we have a government with the legitimacy to face great challenges that can dialogue with all sectors of the nation backed up by the popular vote. It is this mission that I am taking on by accepting my nomination as the presidential candidate of the Workers' Party.

We have demonstrated already that it is possible to achieve a government of national reconciliation, so Brazil takes the path of bringing Brazilians together, especially the poorest and the workers.

My government was one where the poor were included in the budget of the Union, with more income distribution and less hunger; with more health and less child mortality; with more respect and affirmation of the rights of women, of blacks and of diversity, and with less violence; with more education at all levels and fewer children out of school; with more access to universities and technical education and fewer young people excluded from the future; with more popular housing and fewer occupancy conflicts in the cities; with more settlements and land distribution and fewer conflicts over occupations in the countryside; with more respect for the Indigenous peoples and Quilombolas[1], with better wages and guarantees for the rights of workers, with more dialogue with unions, social movements and business organizations and less social conflicts.

It was a time of peace and prosperity, as we have never had before in history.

I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that Brazil can be happy again. And it can advance much more than we already achieved together, when the government was of the people.

In order to achieve this goal, we must unite the democratic forces of all Brazil, respecting the autonomy of the parties and movements, but always having as reference a national project based on more solidarity and being more just, which will rescue the dignity and hope of our suffering people. I am sure we will be together at the end of that path.

From where I am, with the solidarity and energy that comes from all corners of Brazil and the world, I can assure you that I will continue working to transform our dreams into reality. And so I am preparing, with faith in God and a lot of confidence, for the day when I will be reunited with the beloved Brazilian people.

Only if my life is taken will this reunion not come to be.

See you soon, my people.

Long Live Brazil! Long Live Democracy! Long Live the Brazilian People!

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Curitiba, June 8, 2018


1. A name referring to African Brazilians whose ancestors escaped from slavery mainly from areas of the Caribbean, some having become emancipated through slave rebellions. They established communities known as Quilombos in remote areas of Brazil. In English-speaking areas of the Americas these former slaves and their descendants were known as Maroons.

(Alai.net. Edited slightly for style by TML. Photos: PT, R. Stuckert.)

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The Injustice Committed Against Me Is an Injustice Against the Brazilian People

May Day 2018 march in Curitiba, Brazil.

The workers' leader, the man who during his term as President of Brazil pushed for laws and social plans that allowed some 30 million Brazilians to be lifted out of poverty, whom all the polls indicate is the favourite, by a large majority, to win the presidential elections of 2018, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, responded to questions from Granma, with the kind help of a Brazilian friend.

For obvious reasons, a personal and more wide-ranging interview with this journalist could not be conducted. However, the fact that Lula took some of his time while imprisoned to answer our questions makes this interview particularly significant, not only for Cuban readers, but for all those around the world.

Granma: As a candidate for the Presidency of Brazil, with the greatest popular support and all polls indicating you are the favourite to win, how would you describe the persecution and imprisonment to which you have been subjected?

Lula: It's a political process, political imprisonment. The case against me fails to point to a crime, nor is there any evidence. They had to disrespect the Constitution to arrest me. What is becoming increasingly clear to Brazilian society and the world is that they want to take me out of the 2018 elections. The coup in 2016, with the removal of an elected president, indicates that they don't accept that the people vote for whoever they want to vote for.

Granma: For many leaders imprisoned simply for fighting for their people, prison has served as a place for reflection and the organization of ideas to continue the struggle. In your case, how are you dealing with these first days, since you are prevented from being in contact with the people?

L: I'm reading and thinking a lot. It's a moment of much reflection about Brazil and especially everything that has happened in recent times. I am at peace with my conscience and I doubt that all those who lied against me sleep as peacefully as I do.

Of course I would like to be free and doing what I have done all my life: dialoguing with the people. But I am aware that the injustice that is being committed against me is also an injustice against the Brazilian people.

Granma: How important is it for you to know that across all Brazilian states there are thousands of compatriots in favour of your release?

L: The relationship that I have built over decades with the Brazilian people, with social movement organizations, is a very trusting relationship and it is something that I greatly appreciate, because in my entire political career I always insisted on never betraying that trust. And I would not betray that trust for any money, for an apartment, for nothing. That was the case before being president, during my presidency and afterwards. So, for me, that solidarity is something that moves me and encourages me to stand fast.

Granma: How would you define the concept of democracy imposed by the oligarchy to exclude leaders of the left and ensure they don't come to power?

L: Latin America has experienced its strongest moment of democracy and social gains in the last decades. But recently the elites of the region are trying to impose a model where the democratic process is only valid when they win, which, of course, is not democracy. So it is an attempt at democracy without the people. When it doesn't turn out the way they want, they change the rules of the game to benefit the vision of a small minority. That is very serious. And we are not only seeing it in Latin America, but throughout the world, an increase in intolerance and political persecution. It has happened in Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and other countries.

Granma: What message do you send to all those who, in Brazil and around the world, are showing solidarity with you and demanding your immediate release?

L: I really appreciate all the solidarity. It is necessary to be in solidarity with the Brazilian people. Unemployment is rising, more than a million families have returned to cooking with firewood because of the increase in the price of cooking gas, millions who had left poverty behind are once again facing the situation of having nothing to eat, and even the middle class has lost jobs and income.

Brazil was on a path of decades of democratic progress, of political participation, and together with this, social advances, which accelerated with the governments of the PT (Worker's Party), which won four elections in a row.

They have not only dealt the PT a blow. They didn't arrest me just to malign Lula. They did so against a model of national development and social inclusion. The coup was to do away with the rights of workers and retirees, gained over the last 60 years. And the people are realizing that. And we are going to need a lot of organization to return to a popular government in Brazil, with sovereignty, social inclusion and economic development.

The same friend who kindly sent us the answers to this interview, also passed on two special messages: "I take this opportunity to thank compañeros Raúl Castro and Miguel Díaz-Canel for their greetings and solidarity, which were transmitted to me by Frei Betto."

(June 18, 2018. Slightly edited for style by TML.)

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Initiatives that Further Promote Peace,
Security and Prosperity on the Korean Peninsula

Relations Between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and China Further Strengthened

DPRK leader Kim Jong Un is welcomed by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, June 19, 2018.

Kim Jong Un, leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), made his third visit to China this year, from June 19 to 20.

The visit began with a grand welcome ceremony by Chinese President Xi Jinping for Kim Jong Un at the Great Hall of the People that included an honour guard of the People's Liberation Army, Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, reported. This was followed by a meeting in which the two leaders had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on the current development of China-DPRK relations and the situation on the Korean Peninsula, and a banquet.

"We will cooperate closely together in 'one staff department' with our Chinese comrades on the journey of defending socialism and ushering in a new future on the Korean Peninsula and in the region," Rodong Sinmun quoted Kim as saying during the banquet. In response, Xi said that Kim's visit to China had "showed the whole world the invincibility of the relationship between the two countries and parties of China and north Korea."

Kim expressed his "gratitude for the enthusiastic and sincere support and outstanding assistance" given by China in regard to the DPRK-U.S. summit, Rodong Sinmun reported, while Xi said that he "actively supports the north Koreans' position and resolution to achieve denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula."

Xi reiterated China's positive assessment of the DPRK-U.S. Summit and was quoted as saying, "China will continue to play a constructive role in the future as well." Also present at Kim and Xi's meeting from the DPRK side were Kim Yong Chol and Ri Su Yong, both vice chairmen of the Workers' Party of Korea, and Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, who were also present at the meetings in March and May. Present from the Chinese side were Wang Huning, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and member of the CPC Central Committee Secretariat; Ding Xuexiang, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, member of the CPC Central Committee Secretariat and director of the CPC Central Committee General Office; Yang Jiechi, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee; Wang Yi, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Song Tao, head of the International Liaison Department of the CPC Central Committee.

Chairman Kim and President Xi meet on June 20, 2018.

On June 20, the two leaders met at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing where they had another in-depth conversation. Noting that Kim has paid three visits to China to meet with him within 100 days, Xi said the two sides have jointly created a new history of China-DPRK high-level exchanges.

"We are pleased to see that the important consensus reached by China and the DPRK is gradually being implemented, the friendly cooperative relations between the two sides are radiating new vitality, the momentum for dialogue and easing of the situation on the Korean Peninsula has been effectively strengthened, and the Workers' Party of Korea's new strategic route has pushed the DPRK's socialist cause into a new journey," Xi said.

Xi said he believes that under the joint efforts of both sides, China-DPRK relations will certainly benefit the two countries and the two peoples. With the joint efforts of China, the DPRK and related parties, the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia will surely embrace the bright prospects of peace, stability, development and prosperity, said Xi.

Xi also spoke about the recent experience of the Communist Party of China in advancing China's nation-building project. He said that China is willing to share its experience with the DPRK, and strengthen unity and cooperation to jointly create a better future for the socialist cause of the two countries.

Kim said the two countries are as close as family, and help each other, adding that Xi has offered friendly care and support for the DPRK people. "The current visit to China has served as an opportunity to deepen the friendship between comrade General Secretary and I, and advance DPRK-China ties," Kim said.

He pledged to work with Chinese comrades to upgrade bilateral ties to a new high, and play their due roles in safeguarding world and regional peace and stability.

Kim expressed his confidence that the Communist Party of China, under the leadership of its Central Committee and Xi would achieve its objectives for China.

Significance of Developments in DPRK-China Relations

South Korean newspaper the Hankyoreh remarked on the emphasis that Chairman Kim and President Xi placed on DPRK-China relations. This was the first mention of the concepts of "one staff department" by Kim and "invincibility" by Xi during the course of their three summits, the Hankyoreh wrote. Such remarks imply that the DPRK and China are on the same side and are together in all respects, it says. Indeed, the Hankyoreh adds that Kim's statements about DPRK-China relations have grown bolder over time, from "strengthening strategic and tactical collaboration" during his first visit in March, to "moving forward while firmly clasping the hands of our friendly Chinese comrades" during his second visit in May, to "one staff department" in his most recent visit. Xi's remarks about the relationship have changed, too, from "unique in the world" in March, to "a community of destiny, an unchanging relationship of lips and teeth" in May, to "invincibility" on this visit, the Hankyoreh concludes.

(Xinhua, Rodong Sinmun, Hankyoreh. Photos: Xinhua)

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Cooperation with Russia

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands after an agreement for a south Korea-Russia free trade zone, June 22, 2018.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in began a state visit to Russia on June 21. During the visit, President Moon met with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and addressed the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) on June 21 and held a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 22. This was Moon's first visit to Russia as president and the first state visit by a south Korean president since 1999.

South Korea-Russia Summit

Direct high level talks between south Korea and Russia were the main objective of President Moon's trip.

The emphasis of the talks was on economic cooperation, based on the expectation that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will succeed and that sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will be lifted, leading to increased economic cooperation. The two leaders expressed the position that the denuclearization and establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula will ultimately be in both their countries' economic interests.

"The trilateral economic cooperation between south and north Korea and Russia is meant to create a positive feedback loop between a Korean Peninsula peace regime and economic cooperation," explained a key south Korean presidential official. The Hankyoreh explains that the south Korean government predicts that closer economic connections with Russia could avoid the possibility of "New Cold War" antagonisms with south Korea, the U.S., and Japan on one side and the DPRK, China and Russia on the other, given the fraught U.S. relations with China.

In a joint press statement, the two leaders "agreed to strengthen communication and cooperation so that the Korean Peninsula and Eurasia can prosper together" and said that they "plan to diligently implement projects that south Korea and Russia can prioritize to prepare for trilateral cooperation [with the DPRK]."

In their summit that day, the two leaders also agreed to cooperate on a railroad project involving the shared use of the Rajin-Hasan railway to build a Eurasian network linking south Korea with Russia and Europe, while researching and cooperating on a linkage of the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR) and a Trans-Korean Railway (TKR). While the "Rajin-Hasan project" has been halted due to south Korea's sanctions against the DPRK, it is seen as an effort that could potentially help south and north Korea, China, and Russia -- by functioning not only as an area of south Korea-Russia cooperation but as a distribution base for China's northeast, the Hankyoreh reports.

Once linked, the TSR and TKR could also serve as routes for international transportation linking Europe and Asia. Analysts predict south Korea and Russia's agreement on June 22 could lend momentum toward an inter-Korean agreement on linking the Donghae Bukbu railway, the Hankyoreh notes.

Presidents Moon and Putin also agreed to initiate domestic procedures for negotiations toward a bilateral service-investment free trade agreement. President Moon proposed "reaching the priority targets of U.S.$30 billion in trade and one million people in human exchanges by the 30th anniversary of bilateral relations in 2020 for the sake of shared prosperity in the Eurasian era."

The two leaders also agreed to develop an action plan to advance economic cooperation in priority areas including the "nine bridges" proposed by President Moon (natural gas, railways, seaport infrastructure, electricity, Arctic shipping routes, shipbuilding, job creation, agriculture and fisheries) in September 2017.

The south Korea-Russia Summit moves into an expanded format, June 22, 2018.

Following the talks, Presidents Moon and Putin signed a joint agreement on the free trade zone. The Russian Ministry of Economic Development expects this agreement to encourage mutual trade in services, promote Russia's transit possibilities for the transportation of Korean companies' commodities, attract Korean investments and technologies in the energy sector, transport, shipbuilding and the fishing industry, TASS reports.

A memorandum of understanding was also signed between Russia's Ministry of Economic Development and south Korea's Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technologies signed on the establishment of a Russia-south Korea innovation platform.

Another memorandum of understanding, on the establishment of a Russian-south Korean inter-regional cooperation forum, was signed between the Russian Ministry for the Development of the Far East and the south Korean Foreign Ministry.

A total of 19 memoranda of understanding were signed at the summit on areas that include railways, health care, and science and technology.

Address to Russian State Duma

President Moon gave a 20-minute speech to the plenary session of the Russian State Duma on June 21, becoming the first president of south Korea to do so.

"A major change is taking place on the Korean Peninsula," Moon said referring to the deepening inter-Korean relations. "Now, the south, north and U.S. are putting the dark period of war and hostility behind them and heading toward an era of peace and cooperation," he added. The president also expressed his appreciation for Russia's contributions, "The active support and cooperation of the Russian government and people has become a huge force behind this amazing transformation."

Moon also said, "Cooperative relations between south Korea and Russia will become the cornerstone of the Korean Peninsula's peace regime and prosperity in Northeast Asia." President Moon also spoke of the need for a trilateral economic network of south and north Korea and Russia.

"I hope that I would be able to make you understand south Korea's intention to go along with Russia," Moon Jae-in said. "I am sure that our friendship will open doors to new opportunities in Eurasia," he added.

He went on to explain areas of cooperation between the two Koreas and Russia including rail transport, referring to the Siberian railway as a path "that connects the East and the West in the middle of Eurasia. It is the very gateway that opens an era of Eurasia."

President Moon concluded his speech by expressing hope for this concept of Eurasia. "There lies a new hope for humanity in Eurasia where nature and people coexist. Russia and Korea will walk together toward an era of peace and prosperity, moving beyond an era of war."

Russian parliamentarians applauded repeatedly during President Moon's speech, including three standing ovations.

TASS Interview

Prior to this visit to Russia, President Moon on June 20 gave an exclusive interview to TASS First Deputy Director-General Mikhail Gusman for government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta and the Rossiya-24 TV channel. In it he gave an overview of recent developments on the Korean Peninsula, including the summit between the DPRK and the U.S., and prospects for deepening relations with Russia.

President Moon stressed the need to expand an inter-Korean peace regime into a "multilateral peace and security cooperation regime for Northeast Asia as a whole" in the intermediate and long term.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin and I have the same goal in terms of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establishment of a peace regime," President Moon said to TASS.

"Once a Korean Peninsula peace regime has been established, that will mark the opening of an era of full-scale inter-Korean economic cooperation, and that inter-Korean cooperation will need to be trilateral cooperation with Russia also participating," he added.

"In terms of representative projects where trilateral cooperation could start quickly, I could first mention the three areas of railways, natural gas, and electricity," President Moon said.

These proposals for cooperation measures were subsequently raised in Moon's speech to the Duma as well as in discussions with President Putin.

"In the case of railways, linking south and north Korea railways and connecting them to Russia's Siberian railway could allow distribution and travel via rail from south Korea to Europe," he continued, adding that this scenario would "bring large economic gains to north Korea and tremendous profits to south Korea and Russia as well."

President Moon went on to say Russian natural gas "can be supplied to north and south Korea, and even to Japan via undersea pipelines."

"Electricity produced in Russia could be supplied to north and south Korea, and even to Japan," he continued, predicting this would "be a way of really promoting shared prosperity for the Eurasian continent going ahead."

President Moon also addressed the "nine bridges" of south Korea-Russia economic cooperation strategy he mentioned in Vladivostok last September.

"What we will need to do in the future is to quickly develop and implement specific action plans for each of the nine bridges," he said, which he and President Putin later agreed to do.

"There has been a great deal of progress in action plan discussions by the south Korea-Russia joint economic committee, and I anticipate the two sides will be able to sign something at the Eastern Economic Forum [in Russia] this September," he added.

According to the south Korean president, thanks to increasing economic cooperation, bilateral trade grew by 40 per cent in 2017 compared to the previous year, reaching $19 billion. "I believe that it is only the beginning," Moon stated.

President Moon also gave a very positive assessment of the DPRK-U.S. summit. "The results of the [DPRK-U.S.] summit turned out to be impressive," he said to TASS. "The north Korean-U.S. standoff has lasted for 70 years. Now it's time for those two nations to renounce hostility. A new historic moment, when we can establish the system of solid peace in the region, opens before us," he said, adding that the results of the summit have surpassed all expectations.

According to Moon, the DPRK and the U.S. should now immediately fulfill the agreements reached at the summit. "Now talks are underway at a working level between the south and the north, between south Korea and the United States, and measures on implementing these agreements are being drawn up. After the summit the north said it was ready for full denuclearization, and the U.S. confirmed its readiness to provide security guarantees for Pyongyang," he noted.

"The north and the south stopped broadcasting propaganda on the border, south Korea and the U.S. temporarily put off joint military drills, and now a peace process is underway. Such peaceful steps may lay the foundation to further bolster dialogue between the parties concerned," the President stressed.

"I call all the parties concerned to implement these measures as soon as possible. North Korea should take certain steps, and the U.S. should provide comprehensive security guarantees," he said.

In particular, President Moon noted that north Korea had pledged not to conduct further nuclear or missile testing, shut down its Punggye Village nuclear test site, and promised to dismantle its missile engine testing site, while south Korea and the U.S. had made the decision to postpone their large-scale joint military drills.

"I think that north Korea now needs to present a more concrete denuclearization plan, while the U.S. needs to swiftly present and jointly implement comprehensive corresponding measures," he said.

"I also believe north Korea's return of remains of U.S. troops missing from the Korean War will happen shortly," he added.

President Moon went on to say that Kim Jong Un "showed his commitment to willingly abandon nuclear [capabilities] and channel his energies toward economic development if they can receive guarantees on their system in exchange for abandoning nukes, along with a clear commitment to join the south on the path to peace and prosperity."

"Chairman Kim and I also agreed on the need for inter-Korea economic cooperation to lead to trilateral cooperation with Russia," he added.

(Korea.net, Chosun Ilbo, Hankyoreh, TASS. Photos: Presidential Blue House)

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DPRK Begins Repatriation of U.S. Soldiers' Remains

U.S. President Donald Trump said, at a rally in Duluth, Minnesota on June 20, that the remains of 200 U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War had already been repatriated to the U.S. This is one of the agreements reached during the summit between the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un and President Trump.

Citing an American official, the Wall Street Journal reported on June 20 that north Korea would be handing over the remains of more than 250 American soldiers within a couple of days. After a memorial service at Osan Air Base in Gyeonggi Province presided over by Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, the newspaper said the soldiers' remains would be sent to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii for the job of identifying them. Trump's remarks and this report suggest that the DPRK would hand over the remains as early as June 21 or 22, in U.S. time.

Prior efforts to recover and repatriate remains stalled when negotiations between the DPRK and the U.S. broke down. The Hankyoreh explains, "Between 1996 and 2005, for example, a joint team of excavators from north Korea and the U.S. recovered the remains of more than 200 American soldiers in the north. But when north Korea-U.S. relations soured under U.S. President George Bush [who infamously named the DPRK as part of an "axis of evil" -- TML Ed. Note], the work was halted because of concerns about the safety of the American excavation team deployed to the north and because of the money that was flowing into north Korea. The last remains to be repatriated were of six soldiers handed over to Bill Richardson, then governor of New Mexico, in 2007. During a meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, in Oct. 2011, the two countries agreed to resume the search for remains, but this agreement was not carried out after north Korea launched a satellite in April 2012."

The remains of six soldiers are handed over to Bill Richardson, then governor of New Mexico, at the U.S. military’s Yongsan Garrison in April 2007.

The remains being repatriated are reported to have been located by the DPRK on its own over the past few years, but it is expected that joint efforts for this work will resume in the near future.

The Hankyoreh writes, "Once the excavation project gets underway, the expected political result is a considerable lessening of tensions between north Korea and the U.S. If dozens of American soldiers and experts are operating on the ground in north Korea, it is expected to open a channel of dialogue, albeit a minor one, between the U.S. army and the north Korean People's Army (KPA). For the duration of the excavation efforts, an American communication officer will remain in Pyongyang and make reports to the U.S. military authorities every day."

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South Korean-U.S. Freedom Guardian
War Games Suspended

In a June 22 statement released by Pentagon spokesperson Dana White, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has indefinitely suspended select exercises, including "Freedom Guardian along with two Korean Marine Exchange Program training exercises scheduled to occur in the next three months." This suspension was made to "support implementing the outcomes of the Singapore Summit, and in coordination with our Republic of Korea ally," read the statement. It added that "in support of upcoming diplomatic negotiations led by Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo, additional decisions will depend upon the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)] continuing to have productive negotiations in good faith."

The south Korean and U.S. military authorities had already announced on June 19 that this year's Freedom Guardian joint war games scheduled for August would not be held. It is one of several war games held each year around the Korean Peninsula for purposes of threatening the DPRK, despite the U.S. describing them as regular defensive drills. The decision is a working-level follow-up measure to U.S. President Donald Trump's promise following the June 12 DPRK-U.S. summit. A statement from the south Korean Ministry of National Defence also said that it was "set to continue discussions with the U.S. on additional measures," adding that a "decision has not yet been made on other subsequent exercises." The Pentagon released a similar statement the same day.

In a June 19 press briefing, south Korean Ministry of National Defence spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo called Freedom Guardian's suspension a "measure to contribute to continuing the peaceful climate in north Korea-U.S. and inter-Korean dialogue." She added, "We anticipate there will be corresponding action taken by the north Korean side."

This is the third time exercises have been suspended and the first time in 26 years. The Ministry of National Defence noted that joint south Korea-U.S. military exercises were suspended twice, in 1990 and 1992. In 1990, the Ulchi Focus Lens exercise -- the precursor of the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian -- was skipped due to the holding of high-level inter-Korean talks and the U.S. involvement in the Gulf War. In 1992, south Korea and the U.S. suspended their Team Spirit exercise when north Korea agreed to allow nuclear inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Other large-scale south Korea-U.S. war games include Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, held annually in February and March respectively. The Hankyoreh writes, "Freedom Guardian and Key Resolve are scenario-based command post exercises, while Foal Eagle is a field training exercise involving actual troops and equipment. North Korea has voiced extreme displeasure with all three. As such, they are seen as likely to come under focus if the north Korea-U.S. denuclearization talks proceed smoothly and an expansion of the suspension is discussed."

"If you take into account not just the large exercises and training involving the entire Korean Peninsula but also the ones carried out by individual armed forces and at different echelons, joint south Korea-U.S. exercises number in the hundreds," a Ministry of National Defence senior official said.

"We're planning to submit all of them to review as we figure out what to do," the official added.

In the past, the Freedom Guardian exercise has been conducted jointly with the government-level Ulchi war games. Whether the Ulchi exercise will also be halted, the south Korean government on June 19 maintained that "We're leaving it open."

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