For Your Information
How the Canadian Government Imposed the Band Council System on Indigenous Nations
Posted below is an extract from Part III, Chapter 15 of the book Stolen Continents by Ronald Wright, which is a historical overview of the brutal impact of European colonization on the ancient peoples of the Americas.
When it became clear during the late nineteenth century that the United States would not invade the British colony (Canada), Indian buffer states were no longer required. Canada, knowing that native nations held Aboriginal title to large parts of North America, wanted to get rid of its Indigenous rivals. The best way, short of extermination, was to absorb them. With no Indians, there could be no Aboriginal claims; so the young Canadian parliament passed an Indian Act intended to promote assimilation.
The process could be hastened, Canada thought, by encouraging contact with "civilization" which often involved confining Indian children in missionary boarding schools, and shrinking the reserves, which it had come to regard as mere holding camps for a doomed race. Under the policy of "enfranchisement" Indians were expected to give up membership to their own nations forever in exchange for the privilege of voting in Canadian elections. Males received a lump sum and a piece of land -- essentially a bribe -- snipped from the reserve. Few took the bait. Between 1876 and 1918, only 102 did so, most of them women who had married whites. Such a marriage brought automatic "enfranchisement" even though Canadian women then had no vote.
The Indian Act also aimed to replace Indigenous governments with a uniform system of elected band councillors who would be responsive puppets of the Indian Affairs department. "Hereditary" chiefs (an inaccurate term for Iroquois sachems) would be deposed, and matrilineality -- the reckoning of descent, and hence nationality, through the female line -- would end. In short, the act's purpose was to destroy native nations from within by dissolving their political and family structures.
Canada began by overthrowing traditional governments on the smaller Iroquois territories of Ontario and Quebec. In the mid-1880s, Indian Affairs pressured the Bay of Quinte Mohawks, ostensibly on a trial basis, to replace their condoled chiefs with elected councilmen. The Indians put up with the new system for a couple of years, then rejected it -- the adversarial style of European politics ran counter to their traditions of consensus, as did the exclusion of the women's voice.
But it turned out that the "trial period" was a sham: Canada would not allow the people to restore their own system. The outraged Mohawks sent pleas to the governor general, Queen Victoria's representative in Canada:
"We... do not want our Council Fire extinguished, because it was the custom and manner of our forefathers....
"We will remind you of the Covenant Chain of Peace and Friendship between the English people and the Six Nations. When our forefathers first made the Covenant Chain with the English, both parties engaged to keep the end of it fast in their hands...
"Brother! At the time of the formations of the treaties ... the Six Nations were found and looked upon as a people, and had a systematic constitution ... It was understood by both parties. ... that each should maintain their own constitutions, but in the present instance, it appears that the Silver Chains is now tarnished upon these points.
"The Canadian Government, which does not recognize us fully looks upon the Six Nations as minors and treats them as such.
"Brother! We quote the words of Lord Dufferin, one of your predecessors, saying the people of Canada and the people of Britain will not cease to recognize these obligations ... Never shall the word of Britain, once pledged, be broken ...
"What is your power and authority to rule our people?"
What indeed? But the petitions did no good. Canada recognized only the puppet council and funnelled all rents, annuities, and other funds belonging to the Indians through that body.
Along the St. Lawrence, where the Iroquois first met Cartier and Champlain, are the large Mohawk communities of Kahnawake, opposite Montreal, and Akwesasne, between Montreal and Kingston. Although these had drawn close to the French for a century, they had helped the British conquer New France in 1759-1760 and welcomed large numbers of southern Mohawks during the Revolution.
In 1890, the people of Kahnawake protested, pointing out the Canadian government's lack of jurisdiction and its hypocrisy in opposing "hereditary" chiefs: "Every nation throughout the world retains their own customs, rites, and ceremonies, and according to the British Constitution [there are] Kings, Queens, and Lords and Peers as hereditaries. Brother! We cannot account...why we cannot adhere...to our customs, rights and ceremonies."
Canada's most brutal intervention came at Akwesasne. This territory's very location should remind the United States and Canada that the Mohawk Nation is far older than they, for the map line drawn between them runs through the middle of it. Here, in 1898, the clan mothers wrote a long letter to the governor general, explaining how their system worked and insisted that they had no wish for change. Twice the women prevented elections from being held. An official of the Canadian government, sent to investigate, made a most revealing comment: The Indians, he said in his report, "might as well look for the falling of the sky as to expect recognition of their claim to hold the position of a practically independent state." Very similar words would be uttered ninety-two years later by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The real issue, then as now, was sovereignty. And then, as now, the affair turned violent.
In March 1899, Mounted Police arrived to enforce the
of an election. They were soon besieged by 200 Mohawks. No
Mounties were hurt, but they were sent packing. Two months later
they returned. Michael Mitchell, the present elected chief of
Akwesasne, wrote this account of how the council he heads, and
aims to reform, was installed:
"At 4 am on May 1, 1899, Colonel Sherwood ... came to Akwesasne, leading a contingent of police across the St. Lawrence River. They occupied the Council Hall, where they sent a message to the chiefs to attend a special meeting regarding the buying of stone [to build a bridge]... As the chiefs walked into the council office, they were thrown to the floor and handcuffed. One of the women notified the Head Chief, Jake Fire, and as he came through the door demanding the release of his fellow chiefs he was shot twice, the second shot being fatal. The police marched their prisoners to the tugboat and left the village. Jake Fire was shot down in cold blood while fighting for Mohawk Indian government....
"The seven chiefs...were imprisoned. Five of them were kept in jail for more than a year....
"Immediately after this affair, the representatives of the government took fifteen Indians over to Cornwall and provided them with alcohol. The Indian agents told them each to nominate one of the others present. This was how the elective government under the Indian Act system was implemented at Akwesasne. This is the way Canada introduced our people to the principles of their democracy."
(Part III: Chapter 15 pp 316-319, Ronald Wright. Stolen Continents. Viking Press, 1992.)
The Indian Lands Act, 1924
On April 1924, the Canadian parliament passed The Indian Lands Act, 1924 -- An Act for the settlement of certain questions between the Governments of Canada and Ontario. The architect of the law was the notorious Duncan Campbell Scott -- the same person who expanded the residential school system as Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs, refused to assist Indigenous peoples when a tuberculosis epidemic broke out on a number of reserves and was determined to completely assimilate Indigenous peoples into Canada as the means of solving the "Indian Problem."
The Indian Lands Act, 1924 concerns the manner in which Canada laid claim to the resources on reserve lands. It is premised on a Memorandum of Agreement between Charles Stewart, Superintendent General of Indian Affairs for Canada, and two Ontario ministers James Lyons, Minister of Lands and Forests and Charles McCrea, Minister of Mines. This Memorandum of Agreement was signed in March 1924. Duncan Campbell Scott signed the memorandum on behalf of Canada. Through the provisions of this law, the Canadian state set the stage to lay claim to land, minerals and resources on Indian reserves.
The Indian Lands Act, 1924 notes as the first point: "All Indian reserves in the Province of Ontario heretofore or hereafter set aside shall be administered by the Dominion of Canada for the benefit of the band or bands of Indian to which each may have been or may be allotted; portions thereof may, upon their surrender for the purpose by the said band or bands be sold, leased or otherwise be disposed of by letter patent under the Great Seal of Canada..."
Further, "...the Government of the Dominion of Canada should have full power and authority to sell, lease, and convey title in fee simple or for any less estate to any lands forming part of any Reserve thereafter surrendered by the Indians..."
Additionally, "Any sale, lease or other disposition made...may include or may be limited to the minerals (including precious metals) contained in or under the lands sold, leased or otherwise disposed of..."
This act also gave guidelines on any entity wanting to enter reserve land to prospect for minerals: "Any person authorized under the laws of the Province of Ontario to enter upon land for the purpose of prospecting for minerals thereupon shall be permitted to prospect for minerals in any Indian Reserve upon obtaining permission so to do from the Indian Agent for such Reserve..."
Under the band council system of governance imposed by force on reserves through the Indian Act, the Chief and Council reported to the Indian Agent who was the representative of the Canadian state on a reserve, and were accountable to him, not the members of their community. Needless to say, there was widespread resistance to the band council system, which attempted to displace age-old traditional forms of governance established by the Indigenous peoples themselves.
The law also stated that any royalties from such mining activities will be shared between Canada and Ontario on an equal basis. There is no mention in this law of Indigenous peoples getting any share of the revenues generated from the theft of the resources in their territories.
The Canadian government brought pressure to bear on the reserves in various ways and under the arbitrary rule of the local Indian Agent many Indigenous peoples lost their livelihoods because they could not leave the reserve without permission from the Indian Agent. Little by little band councils were forced to open their reserves to outside development or lost portions of their reserve through forced sales.
In recent times, one such case is the Cree community of Attawapiskat where pressure was brought to bear on the band council and members to permit the South African mining monopoly De Beers to operate a diamond mine in that community. Since the mine opened, the community has received a pittance of the profits, and promises of jobs for local people have not materialized. The same pressure is being applied to the communities surrounding the Ring of Fire in some of the Ojibway and Cree Nations in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation territory in Northern Ontario.
What took place through The Indian Lands Act, 1924
opposite of what Indigenous leaders understood when they signed
treaties, such as the numbered treaties, with the Canadian state.
The Indigenous peoples never viewed their lands as property to be
bought and sold or that could be forfeited, and those Indigenous
leaders who were forced to sign treaties with Canada never
relinquished their hereditary claims. Today, the organized
resistance of the sovereign Indigenous peoples to attempts by the
Canadian state to impose its will on them and steal their
resources or run pipelines through their territories, is broadly
supported by the Canadian people. They want an end to the crimes
that were, and continue to be, committed against Indigenous
peoples, as the Canadian state continues to serve the biggest
resource monopolies in their plunder of the lands and resources,
violating the hereditary rights of the Indigenous
(The Indian Lands Act, 1924. Text taken from https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca)
Ontario Government Appeals Robinson Treaties Ruling
Negotiate, Don't Litigate!
On Monday, February 4, Canada is hosting the 10th ministerial meeting of the group of countries said to number "more than a dozen" known as the Lima Group who since August 2017 have been operating as a private clique in cahoots with U.S. imperialism as it attempts to force regime change on Venezuela.
In a statement on its website announcing the meeting which will take place in Ottawa, Global Affairs Canada notes that foreign ministers from the Lima Group will be joined by participants "from the broader international community." It says they will discuss how to support Juan Guaidó, the hand-picked U.S. puppet who has proclaimed himself the "interim president" of Venezuela and "explore ways in which the international community can further support the people of Venezuela."
In trying to suggest that its gross interference in Venezuela's affairs is somehow a project of "the international community" the Trudeau government is being disingenuous. There are not only many countries but many more people, including people living in the U.S. and Canada, Chile, Colombia, Brazil and other countries whose governments have lined up behind the U.S. project for regime change, who oppose the dirty work their governments are engaging in against the Venezuelan people.
What the U.S., Canada, Britain, Australia and certain others reveal with their pretence of representing "the international community" is that they adhere to the post-World War II racist conception of the Anglo-American imperialists that the English-speaking peoples should decide and rule over the destiny of the world. For them the "international community" includes whoever they deem to be part of it.
Under this racist world view the fact that the U.S.
could not get a resolution recognizing its puppet Guaidó passed
at either the Organization of American States or the UN Security
Council because the majority refused to go along with violating
Venezuela's sovereignty and right to self-determination, is dismissed
as irrelevant. So is the fact that Russia, China, Turkey, South Africa,
India, Iran, Syria, and other UN member states have refused to go along
with the U.S. replacing Venezuela's president with a puppet of its own,
with many expressing full support for Nicolás Maduro as the duly
elected president. No importance is given either to the expression of
solidarity with the Venezuelan people and President Maduro by a ranking
authority of the 55-member African Union, or the fact that many
countries from different parts of Asia have not weighed in thus far.
The scenario operating in the background is similar to the one NATO employed against Libya and before that, Yugoslavia -- just as the twentieth anniversary of NATO's precedent-setting "humanitarian" bombing of that country in March 1999 approaches: engineer the creation of a crisis and use it as the pretext for an invasion. In the case of Venezuela there has been much talk by the U.S. and those it works with of the need to "open up a humanitarian corridor" allegedly to deliver food, medicine and other necessities its economic warfare has deliberately targeted in the country. This aid would be delivered to its puppet "president" in defiance of the authority of the Bolivarian government, requiring the use of force to "open up" and maintain such a swath of territory off-bounds to the sovereign authority of the country.
Talk of this serves another purpose as well -- to
encourage speculation about the prospects of a U.S. military
intervention and how and when that might take place. While preparations
for an invasion are clearly being put in place, with threats of all
kinds issued left and right by the U.S. bully about the military option
being "on the table." (Trump just repeated on television that it
was still "an option.") It was also the main issue raised in a CBC
interview with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan on CBC's Power and
Politics on February 1. Asked specifically if Canada was prepared to
take part in a military intervention against Venezuela should it come
to that, Sajjan refused to give a direct answer, making references
instead to Canada's wish for a "peaceful" coup d'état, using
imperialism's euphemism for it: "transition." After being pressed three
times by the interviewer about what Canada was prepared to do, all he
would say was, "I think it's far too premature to have any discussion
regarding any type of military actions. We need to allow the diplomatic
space and the experts to be able to move forward." All this speculation
about whether or not foreign military action is planned diverts
attention from the central fact which is that regardless of the means
-- whether military or coercion and threats of other types, that Canada
cynically refers to as "diplomacy" -- foreign-inspired regime change by
any name and violation of a people's sovereignty and right to
self-determination are crimes that deserve universal condemnation and
must be unequivocally rejected. Period.
Hands off Venezuela!
Across the country, people continue to organize actions to denounce the U.S.-led attempt at regime change in Venezuela and Canada's unacceptable involvement in this activity.
Torontonians held a spirited rally and march on January 30 to stand with the Venezuelan people in their defence of the Bolivarian Revolution under the leadership of President Nicolás Maduro. The rally was held outside the constituency office of Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland to denounce her role in the infamous Lima Group that is organizing and funding the reactionaries and terrorists who make up the so-called Venezuelan opposition.
After the speeches, the protesters marched along Bloor Street chanting slogans. Many motorists and pedestrians raised their fists and gave the thumbs up to the marchers. At the end of the march, the participants pledged to speak to their neighbours and friends to inform them about the unfolding events in Venezuela, to call on them to stand with the Venezuelan people, and to say to the Canadian government of the illegal acts of aggression being carried out by Canada against Venezuela -- Not In Our Name!
Over 150 people -- activists, women, youth, solidarity groups and many others -- gathered on January 27 at Phillips Square to express their strong opposition to the coup attempt by the U.S. government against Venezuela.
Jooneed Khan, a retired journalist for La Presse, recalled the recent experience of people with regime change in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Haiti, and saluted the Venezuelan people and their determination. Christine Dandenault of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ) denounced the Trudeau government's hypocrisy and its recognition of the nefarious individual who declared himself president. Claude Morin, a history teacher at the University of Montreal, elaborated the legitimacy of the presidential elections in Venezuela and the underhanded and mafia-style financing of the "opposition" and the U.S. designs on its oil resources. Marie Boti, of Anti-Imperialist Women, spoke about the role of Venezuelan women in defence of their homeland, and the pro-social changes implemented by the Bolivarian governments. Yves Engler, a Montreal-based activist and author on Canadian foreign policy issues, also spoke.
Everyone militantly marched to the U.S. Consulate and
then on to the Guy Favreau Complex, a federal government building.
Everyone affirmed their readiness to continue to be in action on this
Statements and Resolutions
The Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), St Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, as well as Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, met with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on January 28 in New York to outline their position and discuss the ongoing socio-political situation in Venezuela.
A statement issued after the talks clearly outlined their fear over the fallout from an external military intervention in the Venezuelan crisis.
"The CARICOM delegation emphasized its commitment to the tenets of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter which calls on states to refrain from the threat or the use of force. CARICOM has been consistent in the critical importance it accords to the key principles of non-interference and non-intervention. CARICOM reaffirmed the view that there was an urgent need for meaningful dialogue leading to a peaceful internal solution for the Venezuelan people. The Caribbean Community is resolute in its belief that it is never too late for dialogue since the consequences of no dialogue will be dire," a joint statement issued by the body said.
The statement also emphasized "the importance of the Caribbean remaining a Zone of Peace," an idea first coined by Maurice Bishop, who came to power in Grenada in a revolution that toppled the government of Eric Gairy in 1979 and was later killed in a bloody invasion of the country by the United States.
"We join with our sister Caribbean nations in re-emphasizing our determination to preserve the Caribbean as a zone of peace, free from military intimidation. We demand the right to build our own processes in our own way, free from outside interference, free from bullying and free from the use or threat of force," the statement said.
The Caribbean's long-held position of "non-intervention and non-interference" has often been reiterated by many of its leaders over the last few decades. If its governments intend to stand by those principles, avoiding the overtures of the world's declining superpower to support their position, it can play an important role in charting a way forward for the hemisphere. The continued destabilization of Venezuela would create chaos and economic, military and social problems many territories are ill-equipped to manage, CARICOM leaders point out.
In related news, several Caribbean leaders decried the Trump administration's declarations of support for the person who proclaimed himself Venezuela’s “interim president,” with Saint Vincent's Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves branding it a "coup d' état" while speaking to the Miami Herald and Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister Gaston Browne calling it "brazen regime change."
"The majority of countries that are in CARICOM do not accept Juan Guaidó as the interim president," Browne said. "In fact, we believe that it is an extremely dangerous precedent... which has absolutely no basis in law, it has no constitutional backing, it has no support of international law, and it's really an affront to democracy within the hemisphere."
Browne also warned the Caribbean should be careful not to be drawn into the ideological war unfolding in Venezuela with the goal of merely removing Maduro from office.
"These people are fighting an ideological war. They believe that socialism in Venezuela would plunge the people into poverty and so on. They want to get rid of these socialist regimes. Okay fine, they can fight their ideological wars, but we have to deal with the practicality and the effects [on the region]," Browne said.
Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley had strong words for U.S. officials, who have attempted to force CARICOM members into changing their position on the conflict. Rowley sent a clear message to the U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago Joseph Mondello, who had said Trinidad and Tobago's continued recognition of the Maduro administration was "deeply concerning."
"We in Trinidad and Tobago under all of our
governments, we have preserved the sovereign position of the people of
Trinidad and Tobago," he added. "Until there is a change of government
in Venezuela, as Mr. Patrick Manning said, when you pick up the phone,
[whoever] answers the phone [is] in charge of Venezuela. What they are
asking us to do is to take sides largely contrived by external forces.
If you are going to have a change of regime in today's world post-World
War Two and you want to do it properly, you're required to go through
UN and sanction it. Trinidad and Tobago will not be invited to take any
interest that would damage our relations with neighbours."
(With files from TeleSUR)
On February 1 Venezuela's Ministry of People's Power for Foreign Affairs informed on its website that the vice president of the African Union, Thomas Kwesi Quartey, sent a message of solidarity with the people of Venezuela and in support of the constitutional president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros. The Ministry noted that the message from the African Union, a political bloc of 55 states, was sent through the Venezuelan ambassador in Ethiopia, Modesto Ruíz.
The Ministry also reported that there were marches in support of the Venezuelan Government in Mali, Tunisia and Namibia on January 30 in which demonstrators denounced "the repeated, savage coup attempts U.S. imperialism has been plotting against Venezuela."
The Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) denounces Washington's campaign of destabilization against the sovereign and legitimate government of Venezuela. The efforts to overthrow the government of President Nicolás Maduro is a flagrant, blatant and unconscionable violation of the right of self-determination of the people of Venezuela.
Ottawa has not been a disinterested party, an innocent bystander. Canada's shameful hand has also been revealed. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has thrown the weight of the Canadian state behind the Trump scheme to re-impose U.S. imperial dominion. The shameful and naked alignment of the Canadian state with the criminal policy of the U.S. is deeply disturbing and alarming. By playing a leading role in orchestrating subversion, Ottawa has become an unapologetic extension of the U.S. State Department, engaged in open collusion and collaboration in the violation of fundamental principles of international law.
A core guiding principle of the CNC and the Canada-Cuba solidarity movement is the affirmation of the inalienable right of all peoples and countries to determine their future and their political, economic and social system without external interference. This right is enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-Operation Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
Washington's frenzied effort to organize a coup has nothing to do with genuine solidarity with the Venezuelan people or democracy, but all to do with negating Venezuela's right to self-determination. The Trump regime's objective is to turn back the wheel of history by reasserting U.S. control and tutelage over that proud South American nation.
Canada's relations with all countries, especially those of the Americas, should be based on mutual respect and equality, not on outmoded colonialist ideas and practices. It is the right and only the right of the people and country of Venezuela -- as for any other people and country -- to determine without foreign intervention or the threat of foreign intervention what political and economic system they wish to live under.
The Canadian Network on Cuba calls on Canadians to reject the policy of subversion and economic aggression that Ottawa is pursuing. Please write to your member of parliament to urge Canada to reject any interference in Venezuela and for an end to economic and political interference. We call for respect for the Maduro government, democratically elected in May 2018. The Canadian people must stand with those countries who resolutely defend their sovereignty and independence rather than submit to imperial diktat and return to imperial dominion.
On behalf of the Canadian Network on Cuba
Isaac Saney, CNC Co-Chair & National Spokesperson
(January 27, 2019)
The Vancouver and District Labour Council (VDLC) condemns the attempted coup taking place in Venezuela, which aims to install unelected opposition figure Juan Guaidó as president of the country.
The Trudeau government's legitimization of Guaidó's absurd self-appointment to the presidency should be a matter of great concern to Canadians who respect democracy and recognize the right of nations to determine their own path.
We call on the government of Canada to chart a foreign policy independent of that of the Trump government in Washington; one based upon diplomacy not interference, and which engages in dialogue rooted in respect for the sovereignty and the democratic will of the Venezuelan people. Doing so must include an immediate end to the recognition of Guaidó's presidency, an end to sanctions targeting the Venezuelan economy.
The following is a motion adopted by the November 2018 regular meeting of the VDLC.
BECAUSE the Federal government joined the Trump administration in the United States in inflicting sanctions on Venezuela in Fall of 2017; and
BECAUSE these sanctions are much broader than those previously imposed by the U.S. under the Obama administration, and are clearly aimed at undermining the Venezuelan economy as a whole; and
BECAUSE these sanctions are a form of economic warfare, aimed at toppling Venezuela's democratically elected United Socialist Party government which has nationalized the country's oil industry and invested in housing, education, and social services for its people; and
BECAUSE the sanctions predominately hurt the working class and the poor, and act as a political support to the even harsher sanctions placed on Venezuela by the Trump administration, and for its ongoing support for opposition forces within Venezuela, some of which have resorted to acts or terrorism against government officials and public facilities;
BECAUSE claims that these sanctions are intended to support human rights fall flat when faced with the reality that these governments continue to support, and sell weapons to, human rights abusing regimes such as the one in Saudi Arabia;
BECAUSE Trump has also spoken on many occasions of the possibility of toppling the Venezuelan government by military force, or through support of a coup;
THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL call upon the Federal government to end its sanctions against Venezuela, and promote dialogue and diplomacy instead of economic interference and threats; and
THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL FURTHER acknowledge the right of all nations to self determination and respect for national sovereignty; and
THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL FINALLY categorically oppose the use of military intervention, and the support of coups or other anti-democratic means of achieving "regime change" in Venezuela.
The Canadian Labour Congress, representing over 3 million Canadian workers, calls on the Government of Canada to promote dialogue to foster a peaceful solution to the Venezuelan crisis.
Canada is among several countries, including the U.S. and Brazil, that endorsed Juan Guaidó, Venezuelan opposition leader and President of the National Assembly, who declared himself interim President of Venezuela last week. Canada further denounced Nicolás Maduro as President and called last year's elections in Venezuela fraudulent and illegitimate.
The CLC is alarmed at the escalation of international interference in the democratic process of a sovereign nation, including the possibility of military intervention. The CLC vehemently rejects a militarized solution to this crisis; the people of Latin America have not forgotten the brutal history of military rule in the region.
"Venezuelans need to resolve their differences through constructive dialogue and democratic processes without resorting to violence," said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.
International intervention is intensifying political divisions and inflaming tensions in the country. There are reports of violence and casualties, including deaths, during protests and demonstrations. The CLC calls on the Government of Canada to abstain from seeking regime change and intervening in the sovereign affairs of Venezuela. Canada's role on the world stage is better suited to promote stability through constructive dialogue with the international community.
The CLC stands in solidarity with the Venezuelan people and supports their right to peaceful self-determination.
(January 30, 2019)
On January 23, Juan Guaidó, Venezuelan opposition leader and president of their national assembly, declared himself to be the interim national president of Venezuela.
The Canadian government was one of the first governments in the world to declare support for Juan Guaidó. In doing so, they have chosen to side with a self-declared leader over President Nicolás Maduro, who was duly elected by the people of Venezuela. They have also chosen to side with Donald Trump and U.S. foreign policy.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) rejects any attempt by the Canadian government to interfere with the democratic processes and sovereignty of the Venezuelan people. Given the history of U.S. involvement in the region, the actions of Guaidó have all the signs of a coup d'état. We warn Prime Minister Justin Trudeau against playing any role in bringing about regime change in another country.
The people of Venezuela have the right to determine their economic and political future. CUPE believes Canada has an important role to play in the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, by providing humanitarian support. We also believe Canada should engage with the international community to foster dialogue and peace between the elected government and the opposition.
CUPE offers our solidarity to the Venezuelan people.
(January 25, 2019)
The forces of peace and democracy, constantly mobilized in support of the Venezuelan people's struggle in defence of their sovereignty, once again strongly repudiate the offensive against the legitimately elected government of President Nicolás Maduro. Showing its eagerness to take interference in Venezuela to its ultimate conclusion, Donald Trump's government on Wednesday, January 23, declared it recognizes the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, who has no popular mandate, as the country's acting president, a position that was supported by allied governments.
Such an outrageous step is an attack on the most essential norms of international relations prized by all the truly democratic forces dedicated to building a world of peace and cooperation. It should be rejected widely, not only by popular entities, but also by institutions that cherish democracy and the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations.
The World Peace Council defends the sovereignty of
nations and mutual respect as pillars of constructive relations between
nations. Therefore, it repudiates, in the strongest terms, this
outrageous announcement of the U.S. government, which is also the
position taken by the countries that adhered to the arrogant statement
issued on behalf of the Lima Group two weeks ago, saying it did not
recognize the legitimacy of the Maduro government, whose mandate was
renewed by popular vote. Most of the governments of this group, as we
said then, suffer from a complete lack of competence to claim to be
promoters of democracy. This is the case, among others, for the
governments of Colombia and Brazil, who also declared they recognize
Guaidó as president.
The coup attempts in Venezuela are incessant and the resistance has been brave, an example for the peoples committed to the defence of their nations' sovereign course. Solving the crisis in the country and correcting course is entirely up to the Venezuelan people, in a dialogue already called for by the government among those who sincerely seek a democratic solution.
The governments of Hugo Chávez and, from the outset, that of President Maduro, backed by the Venezuelan people and patriotic forces, have bravely faced those attempts. Such resistance also sheds light on the continuity of U.S. imperialism's policy of interference, and its willingness to do anything to maintain its dominion over Latin America, trampling over international law and the democracy it claims to defend.
Therefore, we urge the strengthening of international
mobilization in support of the Venezuelan people's struggle in defense
of their sovereignty and democracy, and of the legitimacy, guaranteed
only by the popular vote, of leading the country in a frank and
sovereign dialogue with the democratic opposition, and dealing with the
coup plotters who have been supported by U.S. imperialism and
reactionary forces in the region.
End the imperialist offensive and the coup attempts!
Sovereignty and peace in Venezuela!
Socorro Gomes, President World Peace Council
(January 23, 2019. Slightly edited for
style by TML.)
British Prime Minister Theresa May keeps repeating that because she allegedly is honouring the decision of the June 2016 referendum to leave the European Union (EU), the only choice is between "her" deal, "no deal," or no Brexit. As a result, every move she makes deepens the crisis, chaos and turmoil over Brexit. The latest development is the postponed "meaningful vote" which took place on January 29 which was apparently not so meaningful after all. The result was a motion containing MPs’ amendments that rendered it self-contradictory, but allowed May to say that she would go back to Brussels to seek further tweaking of the Withdrawal Agreement. The EU leaders immediately said this was not possible, which led Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn to say he would talk with the Prime Minister since “no deal” was ostensibly taken off the table.
May has set a number of "red lines" which she refers to as "principles," and which she refuses to set aside in order to seek a resolution of the crisis. Meanwhile, actual principles of working out a solution that favours the people are never considered.
Jeremy Corbyn, for his part, is manoeuvring within the situation, and had demanded that May take the option of "no deal" off the table. He refused to meet with her until she did so. The experience of the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and others who have responded to the overtures of No. 10 Downing Street, including leading trade union general secretaries such as Len McCluskey of Unite, and Dave Prentis of Unison, was that May's conception of negotiation is nothing but to demand that they fall in behind her deal. Her conception was to use their influence to attempt to get her deal, her Plan B (very similar to Plan A), to scrape through the Commons vote.
As Corbyn and others have pointed out, Theresa May is in denial over the depth of the political impasse, over the wiggle-room that the EU leaders and negotiators are prepared to offer, and of the damage that the impasse and political chaos are inflicting on the polity. Not least in effect of this damage is the attempt to polarise the polity and divide it between "Remainers" and "Brexiteers." A Workers' Weekly analysis points out: "Corbyn himself cogently pointed out in his Wakefield speech that the concrete conditions facing both Remainers and Brexiteers are the same, and are not to be sorted out through what amounts to a civil war between them. Indeed, Theresa May, despite her protestations of seeking "social cohesion," is stoking the flames of unrest. It is clear that May is also prepared to use the police powers to underline that the state must preserve itself against the people's rebuke (under the slogan) "Not In Our Name!"
Workers' Weekly writes:
"Neither does May see a General Election as a way out of the impasse, as she clings onto office, having had her fingers burned the last time she was advised to go to the country. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party he leads are using the tactics provided by the Fixed-term Parliament Act 2011, brought in under David Cameron, to maximize the possibility of an imminent General Election. Certainly the ruling elite do not see a General Election as favourable to them. It does seem at this time as though a General Election would bring a Labour government to power, or, if resulting in a hung parliament, would allow Labour to form alliances with other parties at present in opposition and hence form a government. Would this resolve the political crisis? Although naturally Jeremy Corbyn and his allies argue that it would then be plain sailing, he still has vested interests and the European Union bureaucrats to contend with.
"Corbyn has the advantage of having the social movements, of which he has been part, not only as political support, but as an important reservoir of activists and vote bank. But is this sufficient to ensure his policies of 'For the Many, Not the Few' are implementable if a General Election is called and the Labour Party assumes the role of government?
"And what is this European Union? The EU itself is riven with crisis, not least the European project to make the EU a single political entity. To focus on the so-called 'four freedoms',  as though all the 28 EU member states subscribed to a united outlook, is misleading. This project went into crisis some time ago, not least because of the people's opposition to the neo-liberal agenda of the EU. And the prospect of a 'social Europe' within the status quo is looking like a total illusion. It is partly the internal contradictions between the big powers of 'Old Europe' themselves, partly the striving of these powers to dominate the other member states, and partly the movements of the people themselves against austerity, for their rights and to demand a decisive say in the direction of society, that are besetting the EU with its own impasse. Meanwhile, the financial oligarchies demand to maraud wherever they wish, and the U.S. seeks itself to dominate and dictate the agenda for Europe, which also is arousing resistance.
"Within this situation, what should be the outlook of the working class and people of Britain? We are of the opinion that the people cannot get caught in the trap of siding with one of the two warring factions -- Leave and Remain -- in the sense that there is a matter of principle at stake in siding with one or the other, when the working people themselves are not involved in setting the agenda of what it means -- Leave or Remain -- and their consequences. The ruling elite themselves cannot find a champion that convinces the people one way or another, or that favours the private interests that dominate economic and political life, let alone a course of action that favours the people.
"Furthermore, we reject any suggestion that the people are to blame for any aspect of this crisis, whether it is the face of xenophobia, racism or chauvinism that the ruling elite represent. This reaction is being imposed on the people."
In conclusion, Workers' Weekly writes:
"Within this situation, the working class and people must participate in working out themselves what favours their interests. In our opinion, the vantage point that we must adopt is one where it is grasped that the struggle in the real world is between the forces representing what is old and deeply reactionary, and those representing the new and a progressive future in which the interests of the people are firmly put at the centre. It can be seen that the way the battle of Brexit is being fought out, causing deep rifts in the polity, starving the people of information as to what is at stake and creating diversionary categories so that the people are prevented from having their own outlook, is blocking the people from taking the stand: A plague on both houses of the ruling elite! Let us take a stand for our own interests!
"In our view, this is what Brexit is calling on the working people to do. We should fight for the New. In the face of the all-round crisis, we should organize for the alternative. What this means is to recognize how Parliament has become completely dysfunctional, not even recognising what its own norms are and certainly not capable of sorting a way out of the impasse."
The stand must defend the rights of all. It must favour people's empowerment.
1. The free movement of goods, services, capital and persons [or labour] within the EU are the famous "four freedoms" set out in the Treaty of Rome. The same principles are now extended under the "internal market" rules introduced by the Single European Act. The four freedoms are strengthened in the Lisbon Treaty, and by a special Protocol 27.
(Workers' Weekly with files from euABC.com)
Cuba understands the obligations of the government of Canada to protect its diplomatic personnel posted anywhere in the world and to try to find answers to the health symptoms reported in Cuba, however, it considers that Canada's decision made public today is incomprehensible.
Cutting Canada's staff at its Embassy in Cuba and adjusting the mission's programs are actions that do not help find answers to the health symptoms reported by Canadian diplomats, and which will have an impact on the relations.
This decision contrasts with the level, status and presence of Canadian diplomatic staff in other world capitals where they do not enjoy as much safety, tranquility, good health situation, and hospitality as in Cuba.
This behaviour favours those who in the United States use this issue to attack and denigrate Cuba. It is well known that some individuals with high-level positions within U.S. foreign policy are trying very hard to create a climate of bilateral tension seeking to portray our country as a threat.
Since the Canadian Embassy reported the first case, Cuba has offered to cooperate and has worked together with numerous entities in the Canadian government; it has requested information and has provided all evidence available; and has put at their disposal the best Cuban experts in the most diverse fields.
During the exchanges that have been held, it has become clear that there is no evidence that might reveal any brain damage, or that may explain the varied symptoms reported, or that may indicate that these symptoms occurred due to the stay of the affected diplomats in Cuba.
The symptoms reported are varied, with a common denominator which is that they are difficult to measure or verify through technical means.
Unfortunately, the decision made by the Canadian government fuels speculation and contrasts with the exchanges held by both parties on the matter.
Despite Canada's government's decision, Cuba remains committed to keeping the good state of bilateral relations and strengthening the links with a country with which we keep strong bonds of friendship and cooperation.
(January 30, 2019)
At around 8:30 pm on Sunday, January 27 a powerful tornado ripped through an area of eastern Havana, causing severe damages in four municipalities. It is reported to have been the strongest tornado to hit Cuba in nearly 80 years. Four lives were lost and 195 people were injured. The most recent report indicates that 2,699 houses were affected, with 342 of them completely destroyed.
Immediately after the tornado hit, rescue, cleanup and recovery efforts were put into motion by the Cuban government, with brigades of workers from different sectors and students mobilized to assist in the work and neighbours pitching in to help one another. The article that follows provides information on reports given and discussions held the day after the tornado struck.
After 8:00 pm, the evening of January 28, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez chaired another meeting of the Council of Ministers to evaluate progress being made on recovery efforts underway in Havana, after a tornado struck several capital city municipalities, the night of January 27.
"Reinforcing attention to the population at times like these is vital," the President insisted. Work was undertaken promptly, beginning immediately after the disaster, and it is imperative to explain to the people what is being done, he stated.
From this very moment, we must begin to gather all the
experiences we have gained from this weather phenomenon, to
incorporate them in plans for disaster prevention and risk
reduction, he indicated.
Division General Ramón Pardo Guerra, head of the National Civil Defense General Staff, reported that, according to an aerial inspection conducted the morning of January 28, "The tornado developed close to the Casino Deportivo and weakened east of Alamar.
"Estimates indicate that it travelled a distance of 11.5 kilometres, at a speed of 42.6 kilometres an hour, over 16 minutes. It began with an impact diameter of 500 metres, later widening to 1,000 metres at the end of its course," he explained.
At this point, he said, significant damage has been
reported, such as totally and partially collapsed buildings, fallen
trees and utility poles, broken doors and windows, as well as
automobiles and containers that were dragged and turned over by the
strong winds. Expeditious work began early on the clearing and
collection of rubble across the city, he emphasized.
The number of deaths caused by the extreme weather rose to four and a total of 195 injuries had been reported, with these individuals receiving attention in several hospitals, according to Public Health Minister José Ángel Portal Miranda. Material damage is concentrated in the municipalities of Diez de Octubre, Regla, Guanabacoa, and San Miguel, he said, in 11 health care facilities.
The most difficult situation exists at the Hijas de Galicia Maternal Hospital, from which 196 patients were evacuated, 18 of whom were released and are now at home.
Regarding housing, Minister of Construction René Mesa Villafaña confirmed that the greatest amount of damage was to roof tops, which will need to be surveyed to begin deliveries of repair materials.
Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar, Party first secretary in Havana, reported that initial surveys indicate that the number of dwellings affected has reached 1,238, of which 123 have totally collapsed and 625 partially, along with 224 that have lost their roofs entirely, and 124 to a lesser degree.
Given this information, President Díaz-Canel indicated that, as soon as losses are specified, distribution of the necessary resources to the population is to begin -- via the different established means -- so that these problems can be alleviated as soon as possible.
In terms of re-establishing electrical service, Minister of Energy and Mines Raúl García Barreiro reported that the issue should be resolved by January 31. Damage is concentrated in overhead lines, including both transmission and distribution lines, while only two substations remain out of service, those in Berroa and Guanabacoa, he said.
Antonio Rodríguez Rodríguez, president of the National Water Resources Institute, reported that damage to the system has been repaired. Affected neighbourhoods are being served via tank trucks and large water storage tanks have been placed at a variety of points accessible to the population.
More than 13,000 telephone lines have been reported out of operation at this time, informed Jorge Luis Perdomo Di-Lella, minister of Communications, while 12 brigades of 80 power line workers, with specialized vehicles, are already working to re-establish service. Work is underway, as well, on the mobile phone network and WiFi hotspots, as well as outdoor equipment, where the principal damages are concentrated.
The most significant agricultural impact was to tobacco, in the Pinar del Río municipalities of San Juan and San Luis, sector Minister Gustavo Rodríguez Rollero reported. Damage to fields and greenhouses in areas that experienced heavy rain are yet to be accurately determined, he said. Iris Quiñones Rojas, Minister of Food Industry, stated that during the early hours of January 28, bread production was resumed, to ensure the basic regulated supply, despite the fact that 36 bakeries remain without electricity.
Some 48 means of automotive transport are estimated to have suffered some type of damage, said the sector Minister, Eduardo Rodríguez Dávila. At the time of the meeting, he reported that the central rail line had been re-opened, and the Regla ferry was operating by early that morning, an important commuter service for the municipality. Minister of Economy and Planning Alejandro Gil Fernández reported that the main resources needed to begin recovery work are available.
Schools were projected to reopen January 29 at all of the city's educational institutions, with alternate sites being prepared in some cases, to avoid affecting the academic year, said Minister of Education Ena Elsa Velázquez Cobiella.
It was reported that as recovery work advances, the
communications media will continue promptly providing the people
with all details.
(Granma, January 30, 2019. Edited slightly for style and grammar by TML.)
Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment,
Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, has informed that material donations
from outside Cuba, whether from governments, companies,
non-governmental organizations or individuals are welcome, and should
be made through the Cuban embassy in each country, as it is the Cuban
Government which is organizing the tariff-free entry of goods to Cuba
and their distribution to where need exists. Monetary donations can be
made through the International Financial Bank to the account number
Questions regarding donations can be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Website: www.cpcml.ca Email: email@example.com