May 30, 2015 - No. 22

Scrap Bill C-51! Defeat the Harper Conservatives!

All Out for May 30 Day of Action
Against Bill C-51!


Harper Government's Boundless Arrogance
Amendments to Law in Omnibus Bill Snuck in on the Sly
Public Money Spent on  Government's a
Self-Serving Media Monitoring

- Anna Di Carlo -

Government Debt and the Need for a New Direction for the Economy
Destructive Practice of Government Debt to Private Lenders
- K.C. Adams -

Historic Fight to End Colonial Justice
Aboriginal Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Report Underscores Need to End Canada's Colonial Legacy

- Philip Fernandez -

Celebration in Canada of the Life and Work of Ho Chi Minh
Reception and Book Launch on 125th Anniversary of Birth of President Ho Chi Minh

Canadian Network on Cuba Holds 7th Biennial Convention
Public Meeting Features Important Cuban Guests

International News
Expansion of Police Powers in Europe

French and British Governments Adopting
New Anti-Terror Legislation

Criminalization of Political Activism in the U.S.
Website Seeks to "Punish and Deter" Support for Palestine

Puerto Rican Patriot Marks 34 Years of Imprisonment
-- Free Oscar López Rivera Now!

Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez and the United States'
Subjugation of Puerto Rico

- Matt Peppe -

Update on Cuba-U.S. Relations
Cuba Removed from U.S. List of Terrorist States
Seven Key Points
- Granma International -

Eight-Month Anniversary of
Student Teachers' Disappearance in Mexico

Thousands March in Mexico City to Demand Justice for Ayotzinapa

Colombian Government Sabotages Peace Talks
FARC Leader Killed in New Military Attack
FARC Suspends Unilateral Ceasefire
- Secretariat, Central High Command, FARC-EP -
Declaration by Guarantor Countries Cuba and Norway

News from Venezuela, Paraguay and Peru
New Recording Uncovers Another Coup Attempt in Venezuela
Ten Days of Mobilization Against Privatization Bill in Paraguay
General Strike Against Mining Project in Peru

Russia Defends Itself Against Foreign Interference
Law on "Undesirable Foreign Groups" Comes into Effect

European Union Summit in Riga
EU Pulls Away from Ukraine and Its Eastern Partnership
- Alexander Mercouris -

China Resists Attempts at Containment
China Unveils New Military Strategy Amid Regional Tensions
Germany Works with India to Contain China
- -

Opposition to U.S. Threats on Korean Peninsula
Letter to President of United Nations Security Council
- Ja Song Nam, DPRK Ambassador to UN -

Recent Massacre Committed by Terrorists in Palmyra, Syria
Certain States' Support for Terrorists Enabled Massacre
Foreign Ministry Says

- Syrian Arab News Agency -

Harper Government's Boundless Arrogance

Amendments to Law in Omnibus Bill
Snuck in on the Sly

Windsor picket against Harper visit, May 13, 2015. Everywhere Harper goes he is met by the determination of the working people to end his abuse of power and defeat him in 2015.

Harper's Treasury Board President Tony Clement dismissed concerns over items within the latest Conservative omnibus budget bill as useless debate over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

The Harper government has snuck into the omnibus bill now before Parliament amendments to the Ending of the Long Gun Registry Act (ELRA), backdating it to October 2011 when the ELRA was first tabled. The amendments retroactively rewrite history and the law putting the gun registry data destruction law into effect before it was even voted on by Parliament. These amendments to the ELRA effectively disappear any complaints or illegality over the government's handling of the long-gun registry data. This is to cover up that the government ordered the RCMP to destroy the data in 2011, before Parliament passed a bill to end the registry the following year.

Clement in his position as theologian of the royal prerogative says that since the majority government did eventually pass a law to end the registry and destroy the data, any complaints about when that law took effect are simply arcane legal nitpicking and akin to counting angels dancing on a pin. Clement says the "law of the land," to be dictated by the majority government when the omnibus bill passes before the summer recess, will mean the gun registry and its data do not exist anymore.

According to an item in Canadian Press "Legal and parliamentary procedure experts say the Conservative move is unprecedented but that it cannot be stopped under a majority government. The Treasury Board president agreed. 'The sovereignty of Parliament I think trumps in this case,' said Clement."

Clement would be more correct to say that the King in Parliament has exercised his royal prerogative and sovereign right over the people to distort history and with impunity make a legal wrong a legal right.

Federal information commissioner Suzanne Legault begs to differ with Clement and not from a theological aspect but a legal one. Two months ago, Legault recommended that charges be laid against the RCMP for destroying records from the federal long-gun registry in defiance of the access to information laws. Harper rushed to fix the problem by retroactively making the practice legal by backdating the authority with an amendment in the omnibus budget, which, includes countless diverse measures that members of the House of Commons will be asked to vote up or down.

Clement, the theologian, declares this clever absolutist manoeuvre absolves the RCMP and government of any culpability. He denounces anyone suggesting otherwise as theologically insincere or even impious in questioning the rightness of Harper's doctrine and the absolutist authority of Parliament over its subjects, the people.

Legault is having none of the pious nonsense and accuses the government of setting a "perilous precedent." Even the National Post agrees with her and declares, "Rightly so -- what other illegal acts could be retroactively excused in this way?"

In a notice tabled in the House of Commons on May 14, Legault says the "perilous precedent" could be used to retroactively clear government officials of wrongdoing on everything from election fraud to spending scandals. She says the RCMP destroyed the records that were being sought under the access to information laws before the legislation closing the gun registry had taken effect and despite the government's solemn promise to hold off until then. In a letter to the Speakers of both the House of Commons and the Senate, Legault said she was submitting her special report "in the hopes that parliamentarians will carefully consider the implications of Bill C-59," the omnibus budget implementation bill.

Legault had recommended to the Attorney General of Canada last March that an investigation be launched into the RCMP's "wilful destruction of registry data" that was covered by the Access to Information Act -- an investigation that has now been taken on by the Ontario Provincial Police.

The Harper government responded by resorting to one of its favourite tactics: retroactively rewriting the law, backdating the amendments to the day the bill to end the long-gun registry was first introduced in Parliament, burying the changes within the 167-page budget implementation bill and ramming it through Parliament before the summer recess with limited time for debate, forcing MPs to either accept or reject the bill in its entirety.

Legault said the issue goes far beyond the now-defunct gun registry. "We could do the same thing after investigating potential electoral fraud. We could erase these things retroactively," she said in an interview with the National Post. Or the former Liberal government, she said, could have stripped Auditor General Sheila Fraser of her investigative power at the height of the sponsorship scandal. "This is the kind of precedent that we are proposing to set with these proposed amendments. Now that is why this matter is very serious," said Legault.

She said each Member of Parliament "is going to have to look themselves in the mirror and decide whether they can, in their own integrity, actually vote in favour of those proposed amendments."

Legault also filed a suit in Federal Court on May 14, in an effort to preserve the rights of the complainant in the case, who had been seeking copies of the now-defunct, long-gun registry. The omnibus budget bill amendment exempts any "request, complaint, investigation, application, judicial review, appeal or other proceeding under the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act" related to those old records. In her interview with the National Post, Legault revealed that "this is the fourth time she has recommended to the attorney general of Canada that there are grounds for criminal charges under the Access to Information Act. No charges have ever been laid, despite past findings of blatant and illegal political interference in the workings of the system designed to inform Canadians about the activities of their government."

For his part, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the Mounties were just obeying the will of his Conservative majority government. "The government, the Parliament of Canada, has already decided to abolish the long-gun registry," Harper said at an event in Windsor, Ontario. "The RCMP have acted fully within Parliament's intention in destroying the data in the long gun registry."

Canadians will note how loose Harper is with the law, conflating what is legally allowable, even according to his own majority dictate, with his Party's "intentions." According to Harper, the RCMP acted legally in this case because it acted not according to existing law but "within Parliament's intention" to make law in the future.

With similar contempt for legality and the rule of law, Clement dismissed federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault's concerns about a future government using the same after-the-fact tactic to clear itself in the face of an active police investigation.

"I don't think it sets any precedent at all," Clement said. "Lookit, Parliament passed a law. The law that was passed by Parliament was no more long-gun registry."

Public sector workers say the debate is not arcane in the least, for in the same omnibus bill, the Harper dictatorship proposes to abscond with almost one billion dollars from public sector workers outside the collective bargaining process. A Harper minister has even declared this misappropriation as "set in stone."

This abuse of power has become routine and highlights not only a rogue government to be summarily removed next October but a system of governance in desperate need of democratic renewal.

(With files from iPolitics, National Post)

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Public Money Spent on Government's Self-Serving Media Monitoring

The deterioration of the political institutions of Canada is evident everywhere. The entire state apparatus and its bureaucracy are infected with corrupt self-serving activities under the control of the Harperite dictate and the private interests it serves. Even the seemingly routine and simple process of government monitoring of the media reveals this to be the case.

According to Public Works Canada, news monitoring services are contracted for various government departments to "identify and track current and emerging issues, related to departmental policies, programs, services and initiatives." Public Works says Electronic Media Monitoring "negotiates with the content providers who hold exclusive distribution rights to the news content and provides copyright compliant access to approximately 50 electronic news sources. This includes newspapers, newswires and television transcripts, representing both English and French national and regional news sources from across Canada."

Sounds all very benign. Why wouldn't the government and its departments want to, and need to, know what is in the news? The picture is not as simple as it appears on first glance when one looks at the details of the type of monitoring being contracted and the nature of the companies involved.

According to a September 2014 article in the National Post, the government spent more than $20 million to gather information through "media monitoring contracts" in the two-year period following December 2012. More recent comprehensive figures are not yet available. Yet unanswered questions on the extent of media monitoring have been put to the government in the House of Commons.

The National Post article says that the 1,100 pages of information it obtained through Access to Information on media monitoring show "the government keeping an eye on what reporters, critics and its own spokespersons are saying."

The departments and agencies with access to the contracted services provide the topics in which they have a particular interest. According to the National Post article, "The search terms for one department include the Conservative Party of Canada and former Tory MP Dean Del Mastro." In October 2013, Del Mastro was found guilty of violating the Canada Elections Act by over-spending in the 2008 federal election and making illegal contributions to his own campaign fund, and then filing false documents trying to cover it all up. For a while, before his expulsion, he was the parliamentary secretary for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. The agency requested that the terms "Del Mastro," "Conservative Party of Canada" and "Holinshed" (the company implicated in his trial) be included in its reports.

The article informs that "The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development is monitoring media for any mention of the Council of Canadians ....Veterans Affairs Canada is monitoring terms related to the mental health of soldiers and veterans, as well as for mentions of vocal government critics such as former veterans' ombudsman Pat Stogran."

"The Justice Department, meanwhile, is searching media for words such as "whistleblower" that is located near the terms "federal government" or "Justice Department."

The article reports that out of the 1,100 pages of media monitoring search terms, 300 are from Citizenship and Immigration and Employment and Social Development. "Of the government's more than $20-million in media monitoring contracts since December 2012, one of the largest individual contracts was for ethnic media monitoring," the article reported.

The Companies Involved

The Department of National Defence has contracted a company called Nexalogy for the period from March 24, 2015 through to March 31, 2016 ($395,500). The tender calls for "real-time monitoring and analysis of social media content including Twitter, Facebook, blogs, chatrooms, message boards, social networks and video and image sharing websites; and real-time monitoring of Internet news sites."

Nexalogy informs that it models its services on the discoveries of astro-physicist Claude Théoret and his use of algorithms to study black holes and how stars interact with each other. Nexalogy's website boasts, "In 2006, Théoret saw that the algorithms and methods he used to analyze stars could be applied to social data. The result is Nexalogy. Rather than examining stellar data, we analyze the connections between words and the people who write them -- on blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other sources. Instead of finding black holes, we reveal undiscovered risks, opportunities, and hidden intelligence." It elaborates: "Our partnership with the Environics Group enables us to offer a complete suite of traditional market research services that combine with our social data insights to deliver a uniquely powerful perspective on public opinion trends and insights."

Another service provider, iG Intelligence, writes that it provides "24/7 monitoring of any combination of services" and promises to "provide actionable end user intelligence." iG Monitor offers "brand & reputation management." The website explains: "If someone criticizes or attacks your company, school, club, local celebrity or family through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media tools, that criticism can quickly go viral before anyone can be aware of the feedback. That is why social media automated monitoring is required."

Given that the Conservative government has come to be defined by its intolerance for government policy informed by the public interest, the question of what is done with the information gathered through such media monitoring deserves to be answered. There are more than 3,300 government personnel involved in communications, so this material must feed their damage control and assist in its spin and counter-spin. The development of such "media monitoring" shows the increasing collapse of the legitimacy of government and the failure of the party-dominated system of what is called a representative democracy to function as it is supposed to. Members of parliament, who are supposed to be the transmission belt between the government and state institutions and the people, have nothing to do with the people, and the political parties of the establishment are even more disconnected. Canadians deliver their messages every day in a myriad of forms to the government, as in the case of the strong opposition to Bill C-51. The government of Canada, on the other hand, is completely isolated, relying on "media monitoring" to spy on the people and scrambling to figure out how to prevent its imminent defeat.

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Government Debt and the Need for a New Direction for the Economy

Destructive Practice of Government Debt
to Private Lenders

Government debt to private lenders at the federal, provincial and municipal levels is an extremely damaging aspect of the anti-social offensive. Canadian governments annually pour $60 billion of public funds into the coffers of finance capital as unnecessary interest payments. The cumulative tribute has climbed to $1.1 trillion since 1974, when U.S.-led international finance capital dictated an end to government borrowing from the Bank of Canada. The anti-social practice of governments borrowing from private lenders and paying the ongoing interest, resulting in enormous public debts, has become yet another neo-liberal excuse to impose austerity on the people and cut social programs and public services.

Public debt to private mostly international institutional lenders has no reason to exist. It has become an enforced form of tribute within the U.S.-led imperialist system of states. Some Canadians contend this form of tribute paid as a consequence of private lending to governments is illegal and have launched a lawsuit to prohibit the practice. They argue that the publicly-owned Bank of Canada by law is obligated to provide loans to governments at low or zero-interest rates, as was practiced from 1938 to 1974.[1]

Neo-liberals say public loans to governments from the Bank of Canada are inflationary, as they may increase the money supply beyond an increase in the value of the country's goods and services. This argument is deceptive and contrary to the historical experience of capitalism.

The deception arises from the fact that all institutional lending either public or private increases the money supply, as the amount loaned is greater than the reserve of social wealth the institution holds. If the borrowing results in productive employment of the working class, the newly produced value should be greater than the borrowed value. The reason for inflation is not whether government or any borrowing comes from public or private sources but the use to which the borrowed money is put.

The neo-liberal argument regarding inflation is also contrary to the historical record. During the formative period of capitalism, the practice of private entrepreneurs borrowing from private owners of social wealth at interest rates less than the anticipated average profit greatly accelerated the development of the forces of industrial mass production. This modern practice stood in stark opposition to feudalism and its forces of scattered petty production and retrogressive practice of usury, which overwhelmed and captured all profit inhibiting any growth.

With the overthrow of the feudal state, the new capitalist state began the practice of government borrowing not only from public accumulation but also based on the prospect of future production of value greater than the borrowed amount. This method of state borrowing for material and social infrastructure projects became an effective method to advance the aim of nation-building.

Any loan, public or private, that results in workers producing added-value, reproducing the value of their capacity to work, and transferring already-produced value into new production adds to social wealth in excess of the original loan. Such a practice cannot be inflationary.

Any loan, public or private, that results in spending without workers producing new value, such as for war or the buying and continuous transfer of already-produced social wealth in hopes of increasing it without producing anything, does not add to social wealth. Such borrowing practices may increase the money supply beyond an increase in the overall value of the country's goods and services and lead to a cheapening of the currency and rise in prices.

The economic thesis of a general benefit from government borrowing from the Bank of Canada was proved in practice through the post-WWII formative years of Canadian nation-building. The Bank of Canada, a Crown corporation, furnished public funds to the three levels of government mostly for the building of material and social infrastructure and public services, without causing any serious price inflation. The total value of public material and social infrastructure and public services increased enormously in the early post-war period.

This situation existed under the overall conditions of the post-war social contract between the Canadian working class and owners of monopoly capital. The progressive trend demanded by the victorious anti-fascist forces after WWII called for a restriction of the powerful merged monopolies of financial and industrial capital that had caused recurring crises and disasters during the first half of the twentieth century. Important was the demand for the financial sector, not just the Bank of Canada, to become a public utility making funds available at low or zero interest rates throughout the economy for productive development and to strengthen the material and social infrastructure, including health care and education for all.

The reactionary trend refused to accept the anti-fascist verdict of WWII and opposed any restrictions on class privilege and monopoly right. On the financial front, the reactionary trend demanded an overall regression into government borrowing from private institutional sources controlled by the monopolies.

The most powerful owners of social wealth in the U.S. launched an attack in Canada against the verdict of the anti-fascist war using their political, economic, military and social connections and power. At the federal level, the post-war Liberal Party under Louis St. Laurent, Lester B. Pearson and Pierre Elliot Trudeau became their governmental weapon to annex Canada into the U.S.-led imperialist system of states and its international institutions.

In the early 1970s, the Trudeau Liberal Party in power federally directed the Bank of Canada to join the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) an organization of finance capital consisting of sixty countries within the U.S.-led imperialist system of states. The BIS is one of the forms, including the IMF and World Bank that ensnares all into the clutches of finance capital dominated by U.S. imperialism creating conditions for unprecedented flows of tribute to the most powerful owners of social wealth.

The BIS insists on the privatization of government borrowing, which means that Canadian governments contrary to Canadian law and statutes can only borrow from private mostly global monopoly lenders. The dictate of finance capital has led to an unprecedented public debt to private lenders with a continuous flow of public tribute into their coffers.

The people led by a conscious and organized working class with its own independent politics can put an end to finance capital's anti-social austerity agenda and nation-wrecking. The consolidation of an organized force for change based on concrete political work with links on the ground is the key to political renewal, to turning around the anti-social offensive, restricting monopoly right, ending class privilege and building the new.

A new direction for the economy includes extricating Canada's financial institutions from the clutches of U.S.-dominated institutions such as the BIS, IMF and World Bank, restoring government borrowing from the Bank of Canada and realizing the necessity to transform the financial sector into a public utility.

Finance capital imposes unnecessary and onerous demands for tribute without end. Private finance capital is not needed for the productive development of the country. Canada is quite capable of providing investment money from its own public resources based not only on public accumulation but also on the prospect of new value the working class can produce when mobilized and actively working.


1. To see the Amended Statement of Claim against the Minister of Finance and others, click here.

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Historic Fight to End Colonial Justice

Aboriginal Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Report Underscores Need to End Canada's
Colonial Legacy

In Vancouver 70,000 people participated in a reconciliation walk as part of the events surrounding the TRC's hearings in that city, September 22, 2013. A similar walk will take place in Ottawa on May 31, 2015 as part of the final gathering of the Commission.

The final gathering of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) takes place in Ottawa from May 31 to June 2 when it will release its final report. The report will bring to light the need for new constitutional arrangements that close the door to Canada's colonial legacy.

The TRC was authorized by the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement in 2007. The agreement was the result of more than two decades of negotiations between lawyers representing the victims and the churches involved in the residential school systems, organizations such as the Assembly of First Nations and the Canadian government.

The TRC was tasked with investigating what happened to more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children who were systematically abducted by the Canadian state from their families and held captive in residential schools. These abductions began in the 1870s and only ended in 1996 when the last school was closed. The residential schools were funded by the federal government and run by the Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican, United and other churches as part of the Canadian state's racist policy to "kill the Indian in the child," and thereby assimilate Aboriginal peoples and extinguish their hereditary and treaty rights.

The TRC has documented the experiences of more than 7,000 residential school survivors.

The majority of the children suffered severe trauma, physical and sexual abuse, starvation and other inhuman punishment. In some cases they were used as subjects in biological experiments. Some died trying to escape. Many of those who did escape never returned to their homes. Thousands died at the schools because of disease and suicide and many are buried in unmarked graves near the schools. The TRC has established the Missing Children Project to document the deaths and burial places of the children.

Since it began, the Commission has faced many obstacles. The main obstacles have been put up by the Harper government which tried to withhold key documents such as RCMP reports and attempted to turn the Commission into an appendage of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Such was the pressure that Commission Chair Justice Murray Sinclair moved the Commission's headquarters from Ottawa to Winnipeg when he took over after the resignation of the previous chair, Justice Harry Laforme in 2008. As well, the Commission established the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba as a repository for its work and to facilitate further research.

Commissioners listen to witnesses at TRC hearings in Nunavut, March 30, 2011.
Commission Chair Justice Murray Sinclair is seated in the centre.

Justice Sinclair has pointed out repeatedly that the legacy of the residential schools concerns not just Aboriginal peoples, but all Canadians. He has expressed hope that the Commission work will facilitate the reconciliation process in order that Aboriginal peoples and the Canadian people can end the legacy of the residential school system and build a future together based on mutual respect.

As part of the closing events, an art installation called the Witness Blanket is on public display at Ottawa City Hall till July 9. It is made of 800 artifacts gathered from former residential school survivors, residential schools, churches and government departments. For more information on the blanket, click here.

Witness blanket on display at Ottawa City Hall until July 9, 2015.

More than 600 residential school survivors are expected to participate in the three-day finale of the TRC in Ottawa. Included in the activities are a Walk for Reconciliation, a multimedia presentation, speeches from elders and commissioners and cultural activities. All are invited to attend. More information can be found at

Walk for reconciliation, Edmonton, March 30, 2014.

The TRC concludes its work in the context of the ongoing attempts by the Harper government to undermine First Nations' hereditary and treaty rights. These include the racist and colonial laws such as Bill C-27, the First Nations Financial Transparency Act; Omnibus Bill C-45, the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 which includes provision for the surrender of on-reserve lands; Bill S-6, the First Nations Elections Act and others. Should the Harper government manage another electoral coup and return to power, its planned celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Confederation in 2017 will surely be a glorification of Canada's colonial legacy.

This brings to the fore the need for new constitutional arrangements in Canada which recognizes the hereditary and treaty rights of First Nations and other Aboriginal peoples, the Canadian nation and the nation of Quebec. This modern constitution must be brought into being by the Aboriginal peoples, the Canadian people and the Quebec people themselves and is being put on the agenda as we approach the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.

Seven reconciliation walkers, including residential school survivors, are making their way on foot from Cochrane,  Ontario to Ottawa for the final TRC gathering. Photo taken in front of Queen's Park in Toronto, May 13, 2015, where they met with a number of MPPs.

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Celebration in Canada of the Life and Work of Ho Chi Minh

Reception and Book Launch on 125th Anniversary of Birth of President Ho Chi Minh

On May 28, a reception at Vietnam House in Ottawa celebrated the 125th anniversary of the birth of the great leader of the Vietnamese people, President Ho Chi Minh.

The reception was hosted by His Excellency To Anh Dung, Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Canada. A new book, Ho Chi Minh: Unexplored Humanism and the Development of Vietnam by Dr. Julie Dai Trang Nguyen, was launched on this occasion.

The participants at the reception were very happy to receive this new work, which follows the author's first book -- Ho Chi Minh: The Heart and Mind of a Patriot.

In a brief presentation, His Excellency To Anh Dung congratulated Dr. Nguyen for this work which provides valuable perspectives and insights into the leadership role of President Ho Chi Minh during every step in the advance of the Vietnamese people, vividly portrayed through a review of his writings and speeches. Ambassador To Anh Dung gave several examples from the life and work of President Ho Chi Minh which were dedicated to serving the fight for national independence, unification and the nation-building project of the Vietnamese people.

The Ambassador also noted the role of UNESCO which recognized Ho Chi Minh in 1987 as a "Vietnamese hero of national liberation and a great man of culture."

Dr. Nguyen thanked the Ambassador for hosting the reception and book launch. Briefly outlining her thoughts on this second book on the life and work of President Ho Chi Minh, she noted it was based on extensive use of Ho Chi Minh's original writings from 1911 to 1969. She said this was important to ensure that people can become familiar with the advanced thinking and wisdom in all fields of social development that he studied.

In the book's Preface, the author said of her goal for this work:

"It is my desire to provide my own interpretation of the Ho Chi Minh legacy in the past cause of national liberation and the current challenge of national development. In doing so, I encourage the concerned youth in Vietnam and around the world to think about building a sustainable future for themselves and generations to come. I hope to create a more active academic exchange between Vietnam and the rest of the world on topics related to Ho Chi Minh that I find very relevant and important for international cooperation in our contemporary world. After all, it was his wish to contribute his part to the betterment of our world -- and to encourage others to do the same."

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Canadian Network on Cuba Holds 7th Biennial Convention

Public Meeting Features Important Cuban Guests

• Fernando González of the Freed Cuban 5
  • Dr. José de Jesús Portilla Garcia,

Participant of Numerous Cuban Medical International Missions
Saturday, May 30 -- 7:30 pm
Toronto Steelworkers' Hall, 25 Cecil Street

Fernando González Llort (left) and Dr. José de Jesús Portilla Garcia

The Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) will host a very special Cuban guest, anti-terrorist hero, Fernando González Llort, at its 7th Biennial Convention this weekend -- May 30-31 at Toronto City Hall.

Known internationally as one of the "Cuban Five," Fernando served more than 15 years unjustly in a U.S. prison and was released on February 27, 2014. He returned to Cuba and is now Vice-President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). In President Obama's historic announcement of changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba, the last three of the Cuban Five were released on December 17, 2014.

Delegates from 20 CNC member organizations from Halifax to Vancouver will attend the convention, celebrating the victorious world-wide campaign to free the Cuban Five and recognizing the 70 years of Canada-Cuba diplomatic relations.

Fernando González will be the featured speaker at a public meeting on Saturday, May 30 at the Toronto Steelworkers' Hall, 25 Cecil Street at 7:30 pm. He will be joined on the platform by Dr. José de Jesús Portilla Garcia, a participant of numerous Cuban medical international missions. This is the last stop of his two-week speaking tour across Canada.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Isaac Saney or Elizabeth Hill.

Isaac Saney
Spokesperson and Co-chair

Elizabeth Hill
Treasurer and Co-chair
Cell: 416-655-9432

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International News
Expansion of Police Powers in Europe

French and British Governments Adopting
New Anti-Terror Legislation

Paris, May 4, 2015: demonstration against new anti-terror laws.

British and French governments are passing sweeping new anti-terror laws, in the case of the French government, it is the third such bill adopted since 2014. The new British law, announced following the Conservative Party election victory on May 7, is expected to further criminalize thought the government deems radical.

The French government of President François Hollande passed a new anti-terrorism law on May 5 that once more increases the powers of the country's intelligence services. Intelligence agents will now have legal authority to plant cameras and recording devices in private homes and cars, intercept phone conversations without judicial oversight, and install devices that record every keystroke on a targeted computer in real time, news agencies report.

The law is allegedly a response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks that killed 17 people in Paris in January. However, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that the law is needed to give a legal framework to intelligence agents who are already pursuing some of these practices illegally.

The law which Valls called "important progress for our intelligence services and our democracy" was adopted using "emergency" legislative procedure to speed its passage. The bill comes after measures adopted by decree earlier this year, that allow the French government to remove web sites said to support terrorism.

The British bill, which has yet to be introduced in the House of Commons, is expected to contain far-reaching measures including criminalizing activities and ideas the government considers "extremist." According to news reports, the bill will give police authority to impose "disruption orders" and "banning orders," which can be used against individuals and groups engaged in "harmful" behaviour.

Disruption orders are said to include bans on individuals broadcasting their views on television, attending or addressing public gatherings or protests, and a requirement to submit all written publication to police for pre-approval. Banning orders, on the other hand, will allow the government to outlaw any organization it considers "extremist." Government will need the approval of courts, often conducted in secret, to carry out such orders.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, justifying the law, said, "For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone... This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation and bring our country together. That means actively promoting certain values."

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Criminalization of Political Activism in the U.S.

Website Seeks to "Punish and Deter"
Support for Palestine

Actions in San Francisco, July 2014 oppose Israeli aggression against Gaza, Palestine.

A new website, Canary Mission, seeks to intimidate and deter activism in support of Palestine by publicizing the identities of those organizing against the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories.

"College campuses are filled with anti-Semitic and anti-American radicals," explains a promo-video for the site. "It is your duty to ensure that today's radicals are not tomorrow's employees."

The website's specific focus is to "expose" and target campus activists by publishing the names, photos, occupations and resumes of students and university professors. Most of those made public on the site have ties to Students for Justice in Palestine and the growing Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. In California the movements succeeded in passing student-backed resolutions to divest from Israel at UC Irvine and UC San Diego. The universities have so far refused to comply with students' demands, agencies report.

Activists who support the Palestinian fight for justice see the website as another repressive mechanism to "punish and deter people from standing up for what they believe," Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunimah told The Forward.

While Canary Mission claims to tackle "groups that are anti-Freedom, anti-American and anti-Semitic" so as to "protect democratic values," activists say the site is deeply racist and "McCarthyist."

"The website is filled with racist stereotypes about our activism, and intentionally tries to tie a diverse non-violent student movement to anti-Semitism and terror," filmmaker and journalist Rebecca Pierce told the Guardian. Pierce said she will still "stand behind my activism and won't allow racist extremists to intimidate me."


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Puerto Rican Patriot Marks 34 Years Imprisonment
-- Free Oscar López Rivera Now!

Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez and the United States' Subjugation of Puerto Rico

With Eric Holder on his way out the door as Attorney General, many Puerto Ricans are stepping up their calls for President Barack Obama to pardon 71-year-old political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, who has spent the last 33 years behind bars for seditious conspiracy. The holiday season is a common time for Presidents to use their power to grant clemency, but this was not to be in 2014 for the President who has granted the fewest pardons in modern times.

For Puerto Ricans, dismissal of their political demands is emblematic of their subjugation as colonial subjects.

In December, at a concert in San Juan, reggaeton singer René Pérez Joglar of the band Calle 13 brought López's daughter Clarissa on stage to read a letter pleading for her father's release.

After winning the silver medal in judo in the Central American and Caribbean games in November, Augusto Miranda told the press: "I want to use this forum for all the people of Puerto Rico and the United States. It's an abuse what they've done to Oscar López Rivera, political prisoner. It's time to give him his freedom."

The President of the Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR), Uroyoán Ramón Emeterio Walker, joined with students at the university to call for Lopez's release, citing "humanitarian reasons" for what Emeterio called a "disproportionate" sentence.

Human rights activists such as Nobel Peace Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Máiread Corrigan Maguire and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel have called on Obama to release López.

Anti-apartheid hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said that López's "crime" was "conspiracy to free his peoples from the shackles of imperial justice."

Thousands have used social media with the hashtag #FreeOscarLopez to express their support for his cause.

The fact that President Obama's nominee for Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, is awaiting Senate confirmation could adversely impact a ruling on López's clemency petition, noted El Nuevo Dia. The current Attorney General, Eric Holder, was Deputy Attorney General when President Clinton offered clemency to 16 Puerto Rican prisoners in 1999. López was one of those included in Clinton's conditional offer, which would have required him to serve 10 more years in prison. López rejected the offer because it was not extended to all of his fellow nationalist prisoners.

López was sentenced in 1981 to 55 years in prison. The main charge against him, seditious conspiracy, is the same one used to convict Nelson Mandela, who served 27 years in prison.

López was convicted of other charges related to possession of firearms, which López described as "no more than a weapons collector would have at home," and stolen cars.[1]

The government accused López of being a leader in the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña (FALN), a militant nationalist organization that sought independence for the island through armed struggle. The group claimed responsibility for a series of bombings of government and economic targets in New York and Chicago during the '70s and early '80s.

The Chicago Tribune described the FALN bombs as "fortunately so placed and timed as to damage property rather than persons" and said that nationalists "were out to call attention to their cause rather than to shed blood."

The judge said he would sentence López to the "electric chair" if he could, and the Lead Prosecutor said he "would like to see these Puerto Ricans die in jail."[2]

López's political affiliations were clearly the motivating factor in his egregiously excessive sentence.

López himself was never accused of injuring and killing anyone. The government did not charge López in connection with a single bombing incident. In the U.S. justice system, you cannot punish someone for something they haven't been personally tried for in court. Attempts to justify López's sentence by blaming him for acts the FALN claimed responsibility for are nothing more than guilt by association.

Later, López would receive 15 more years for conspiracy to escape, the result of a plot devised by FBI informants placed in his unit.

In his defense, López argued that according to international law he had the status of prisoner of war as an anticolonial fighter. As colonialism is a crime against humanity under international law, and international organizations had determined that Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States, López argued that he should be judged by an international body.[3]

In a 1987 resolution condemning international terrorism, the UN General Assembly purposefully excluded actions by people seeking the "inalienable right to self-determination and independence of all peoples under colonial and racist regimes."

The resolution specified "the right of these peoples to struggle to this end."

The measure passed by a margin of 153-2. Only Israel and the United States voted against it.

A History of Repression

While today roughly only 5% of Puerto Ricans on the island favor independence, this was not always the case. After the United States defeated Spain in the Spanish-American War in 1898, the U.S. assumed possession of Puerto Rico along with Spain's other colonies. The U.S. controlled Puerto Rico's government and gave enormously profitable sugar and coffee plantations to private American corporations. The U.S. government suppressed resistance to colonial occupation and refused all demands to relinquish control of the island.

In 1948, the Puerto Rican Senate passed Law 53. The "Gag Law" criminalized nationalist politics. It prohibited organizing, assembling, writing or speaking to promote independence. It even prohibited displaying the Puerto Rican flag.

Luis Muñoz Marin, the head of the Senate at the time, became Puerto Rico's governor the next year. His Partido Popular Democratico (PPD) passed a new Constitution in 1952 that granted Puerto Rico its Commonwealth status. However, this shed the territory's colonial status in name only.

Independence movements had determined to resort to armed struggle after facing decades of repression politically. They saw the Commonwealth as a euphemism for an illegitimate arrangement that perpetuated the colonial status quo.

Pedro Albizu Campos, leader of Puerto Rico's Nationalist Party [PNP], had been imprisoned along with other nationalists in 1936. He spent 10 years behind bars. After being released, he continued fighting for the liberation of Puerto Rico from colonialism.

In 1954, Lolita Lebrón led an attack with other nationalists on the House of Representatives. Shooting from the gallery of the chamber, they wounded five Congressmen. Lebrón spent 25 years in prison.

She later said "times have changed ... I would not take up arms nowadays, but I acknowledge that the people have a right to use any means available to free themselves."

Puerto Rican nationalist groups were among the first targeted as part of J. Edgar Hoover's notorious FBI Cointelpro illegal spying campaign. Cointelpro became known to the public during the Church Committee hearings in the late 1970s, when it was revealed that the program had been used to illegally spy on civil rights leaders, anti-war protestors, American Indian movements, and other groups who challenged the political status quo.

While most Puerto Ricans do not support independence, most do support decolonization -- whether it is through integration into the United States as a state, or through a sovereign association with the United States similar to that of Marshall Islands.

In a historic November 2012 referendum, Puerto Rican voters decisively rejected the current colonial status with a 54% majority. Only voters on the island were allowed to participate in the referendum. If Puerto Ricans and their descendants in the diaspora -- where independence is more popular -- were included, the number likely would have been much higher.

Today support for López's release is shared by both the pro-status quo PPD and pro-statehood PNP. Puerto Rico's Governor Alejandro García Padilla and lone (non-voting) representative in Congress Pedro Pierluisi -- the former of the PPD and the latter of the PNP -- have both petitioned President Obama for López's freedom.

Latin American countries have expressed solidarity with Puerto Rico on both the causes of decolonization and freedom for López. In his visit to the White House, President of Uruguay José "Pepe" Mujica called for Obama to grant a pardon to López. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has called for Puerto Rico to be able to join the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and for freedom for López.

"The Island of Puerto Rico is not alone in its struggle for dignity and independence," Maduro said.

The two causes also received international backing from the UN Special Committee on Decolonization, which approved a resolution this summer that called on the United States to "end subjugation" of Puerto Rico and to release López.

No Recourse to Political Participation

Although Puerto Ricans are American citizens, Puerto Ricans residing on the island cannot cast a vote in federal elections. Entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare do not apply equally to Puerto Ricans. U.S. businesses are guaranteed the same access to Puerto Rico as to any state under the Interstate Commerce Clause, subverting the island's self-sufficiency. Puerto Rico doesn't have the ability to make foreign policy, enter into trade agreements, impose tariffs, or provide universal public health insurance.

In the Insular Cases, the Supreme Court determined that Puerto Rico and other territories belong to, but are not part of, the United States.

In comparing this to the "Separate but Equal" system established by the Court's Plessy vs. Ferguson decision, Judge Juan R. Torruella says that the Insular Cases created a "Separate and Unequal" system for Puerto Rico. The difference, Torruella notes, is that unlike Plessy, which has been overturned, the Insular Cases created "a regime of de facto political apartheid, which continues in full vigor."

Without any representation in Congress or a vote in Presidential elections, Puerto Ricans have their political rights subjugated to the U.S. government. Even on an issue as popular among Puerto Ricans as the release of Oscar López, they have no recourse to participate in the political process at the federal level.

There is no indication that Obama intends to ever respond to López's clemency plea, much less grant it.

In his speech at Nelson Mandela's funeral, Obama said that "around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs."

The overwhelming opinion among Puerto Ricans is that this description applies precisely to López.

The disregard that Obama has shown for recognizing the will of Puerto Ricans to free Oscar López demonstrates the uphill challenges Puerto Ricans face to shed their second-class status and obtain equal rights. If the President refuses even to grant a simple pardon, what chance do Puerto Ricans have of the U.S. government acting on the 2012 referendum and allowing them to achieve self-determination?

Predictably, the issue has been put on the back burner in Washington. The extent of federal action generated by the referendum is a $2.5 million appropriation to hold another referendum, which would also be non-binding. Only the U.S. Congress can change Puerto Rico's status. And with Republicans in control of both chambers, it is more likely they will dedicate a national holiday to Karl Marx.

There is broad support in Puerto Rico for decolonization, and almost unanimous support for the liberation of Oscar López. But, as has been the case for the last 116 years, Puerto Ricans find themselves at the mercy of first-class citizens on the mainland who control their fate.


1. Rivera, O. L. (2013). Oscar Lopez Rivera: Between Torture and Resistance. PM Press.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

(MintPress, January 19, 2015.)

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Update on Cuba-U.S. Relations

Cuba Removed from U.S. List of Terrorist States

On May 22, Cuba's delegation to the third round of talks on the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the United States released a statement in Washington, DC following the two-day meeting. Led by Josefina Vidal, the Cuban delegation recognized the just decision made by President Obama to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and assessed other important matters.

TML Weekly is reproducing the statement issued by the Cuban delegation on May 22:

"The third round of talks between Cuban and U.S. delegations on the process of reestablishing diplomatic relations, and the opening of embassies, was held in Washington, on May 21 and 22, 2015.

"The Cuban delegation was led by the Ministry of Foreign Relations' General Director for the United States, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, and the U.S. delegation by the State Department's Assistant Secretary for Western Hemispheric Affairs, Roberta S. Jacobson.

"Cuba's representatives recognized the just decision made by President Obama to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, on which the country should never have been placed.

"These talks took place after the U.S. government, in compliance with its obligations established by international law in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, awarded a license to a bank to resume the provision of banking services to the Cuban Interests Section in Washington. Such a license is required by the financial blockade which remains in effect.

"Both delegations agreed to continue the dialogue on aspects related to the functioning of diplomatic missions.

"During the round of talks, the Cuban delegation reaffirmed its willingness to address substantive issues on the bilateral agenda, including among others, ending the blockade, which would allow for progress toward normalization of the relations between Cuba and the United States on a foundation of respect, sovereign equality and reciprocity, once diplomatic relations are reestablished.

"The meeting was conducted in a respectful and professional environment."

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Seven Key Points

Cuban Interests Section, Washington, DC

It has been five months since Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama announced on December 17 their intention to open a new chapter in relations between the United States and Cuba. After an historic meeting between both leaders at the 7th Summit of the Americas, on May 21, the third round of conversations began in Washington, with the goal of advancing toward the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies in both countries.

Although talks between the U.S. and Cuba are already, in themselves, a milestone for two neighboring countries which have lacked formal ties for more than half a century, they only mark the beginning of a much longer and complicated process.

Inaccuracies and distorted information have accompanied this process from the beginning. Granma shares with its readers seven key points which clarify the dimension of what is happening between Havana and Washington and the coming stage.

1. The two Presidents made a decision, now comes the implementation.

On December 17, among other decisions of importance to both peoples, Raúl Castro and Barack Obama simultaneously announced their intention of reestablishing diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, severed more than half a century ago.

However, in order for this step to be realized, the Presidents' decision must now pass through the official channels of their respective countries. This process is being advanced by the delegations which met in Havana and Washington for various rounds of conversations and technical encounters. These meetings are important as they establish the basis on which diplomatic relations will operate, so as not to repeat past mistakes.

2. Neither party has imposed conditions for the reestablishment of relations.

One of the mass media's main lines of attack against the conversations has been to talk of "conditions" imposed by the two parties.

Both the Cuban and U.S. diplomats have clearly stated that the work environment has been marked by respect and professionalism, with conversations taking place in a climate of reciprocity and free from interference. What Cuba has done since the beginning of this process is highlight aspects which must be resolved before further progress can be made; including the end of the country's unjust inclusion on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and the restoration of banking services for its mission in Washington, which has been without these services for more than a year.

Reports indicate that both issues are in the process of being resolved.

U.S. representatives have questioned restrictions on the mobility of their staff at a future embassy in Havana (the movement of Cuban diplomats in Washington is currently limited), as well as Cubans' access to their facilities.

In this regard, Cuba has insisted on the importance of adhering to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, which establishes the importance of observing the laws of the host country and not interfering in its internal affairs.

Members of a mission must be able to interact with citizens of the host country, but also respect local norms, a Cuban diplomat recently explained.

3. Reestablishment of relations is not the same as normalization of relations.

Another common mistake often made, is confusing the process of reestablishing diplomatic relations with normalization, which is a longer and more complex process.

After embassies have been opened in both capitals, the challenging search for "normality" between both countries, which share a tumultuous history, will begin.

Cuban authorities have highlighted various points which they consider to be vital to addressing normalization: the lifting of the blockade; the return of the illegally occupied Guantanamo Naval base territory, an end to subversive radio and television broadcasts; the cancellation of U.S. plans to promote regime change; and compensation for the damages caused to the Cuban people over half a century of aggression, among others.

It has never been stated that these issues need to be resolved in order to open embassies, as some media agencies have erroneously stated, although U.S. authorities have recognized Cuba's position. "Completely normal relations do not include an economic embargo, or economic sanctions," a U.S. State Department official -- who asked to remain anonymous -- recently stated.

Without a doubt, this new stage includes discussion of other important issues for both countries. But Cuba has clearly expressed that it cannot be expected to "give something in exchange." Cuba does not apply any sanctions on the United States, nor does it have military bases in U.S. territory, or promote regime change.

Likewise, Cuba has said that the U.S. can not demand that the country renounce its ideals of independence and social justice, nor cede a millimeter in its defense of national sovereignty.

4. Washington's change of policy is a victory for the Cuban people and Latin American integration.

It wouldn't be conceited to recognize, as the majority of the international community has, that Cuba has arrived at this point as a result of almost half a century of heroic struggle and loyalty to its principles.

Likewise, it wouldn't be possible to analyze a policy change of this magnitude without understanding the new era our region is experiencing, and the firm and courageous demand made by the governments and people of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

In the 2nd CELAC Summit held in Havana, an unprecedented regional document was signed: the declaration of the hemisphere as a Zone of Peace, which recognizes, "The inalienable right of every state to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system, as an essential condition to guarantee peaceful coexistence among nations."

5. The United States has changed its methods, not its objectives.

One of the greatest questions which has followed this process is what does the U.S. policy change entail and how far does it go. There is no easy answer and perhaps it is too early to carry out a thorough analysis. When President Obama made his announcement, he said that after 50 years of a failed policy, it was time to try something new.

Obama speaking in Panama noted -- in reference to Cuba -- that "The United States will not be imprisoned by the past -- we're looking to the future." However, U.S. authorities have stated on various occasions that its methods, not its objectives, are changing. These objectives have been -- since January 1, 1959, to overthrow the Cuban Revolution.

In his speech during the 7th Summit of the Americas, Obama commented, "We're not in the business of regime change," remarks which filled many with hope. However, millions of dollars are still being openly channeled toward financing subversion in Cuba, to which must be added other undeclared funds.

For their part, Cuban authorities have never demonstrated naivety. "No one should dream that the new policy announced means acceptance of the existence of a socialist revolution 90 miles from Florida," said Raúl in his speech during the 3rd CELAC Summit.

6. Obama can do more.

In addition to the December 17 announcement, Obama also implemented a group of measures modifying a small number of blockade regulations, although the aggressive policy remains in force.

Cuba has recognized Obama's decision to engage in a debate with Congress in order to put an end to the blockade, something no other U.S. president has done.

Nonetheless, reports by the media that the President "has done everything possible," are false. If he is determined, Obama can use his broad executive powers to substantially modify the application of the blockade, even without the approval of Congress.

He could -- for example -- permit, in other sectors of the economy, all that he has authorized in the arena of telecommunications, with evident objectives of political influence in Cuba.

7. The issue of sovereignty is no longer off-limits.

One of the lessons of the last five months -- and perhaps the last year and a half of discreet conversations -- has been that Cuba and the U.S. can address any issue as long as it is done within a framework of respect.

Cuba has demonstrated its willingness to discuss topics which have historically been used and manipulated to attack our county, such as democracy, free speech and human rights, about which the nation has much to show and contribute. Perhaps the most important point of all, and that which summarizes this article, is that the greatest challenge facing Cuba and the United States is establishing a relationship of civilized co-existence based on respect for their profound differences.

(May 25, 2015)

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Eight-Month Anniversary of Student Teachers' Disappearance in Mexico

Thousands March in Mexico City to Demand
Justice for Ayotzinapa

At least 15,000 people participated in rallies in Mexico City on May 26 to mark eight months since the 43 student teachers from Ayotzinapa in Guerrero state were forcibly disappeared. Despite police attempts to block the marches from gathering at the capital's main square -- the Zocalo -- supporters and family came together there in front of the Presidential Palace. The rallies began at about 10:00 am and ended at about 8:00 pm.

The rallies, began at four different locations within the city, including the iconic Angel de la Independencia (Angel of Independence), before converging in the Zocalo.

Students from Ayotzinapa addressed the demonstrators, saying they were going back to Guerrero to plan future actions to keep up the pressure on all levels of government to continue the investigations and return their missing schoolmates alive.

The Ayotzinapa students also reminded the crowds that the tragic events of September 26 were not the first such crimes to which they have been subjected. They named a few cases, including two students that were killed in 2011, as well as two more in January 2015.

The students from the teachers college in Ayotzinapa are trained to become teachers in the rural and marginalized areas of the country. Mexico has an illiteracy rate of seven per cent, concentrated in the indigenous and campesino communities.

Ruben Albarran, singer with the internationally known Mexican band Cafe Tacvba, read a statement calling on state and federal authorities to guarantee the safety of students and the families of the 43 Ayotzinapa student teachers.

He called on national and international officials to look into the Ayotzinapa case so that these crimes committed eight months ago do not go unpunished. He added that Mexico ranks high on the list of countries where crimes are committed with impunity.

Albarran also recalled that the former Angel Aguirre government of Guerrero is responsible for the Ayotzinapa case as well as the killing of two more teacher trainees in January, a case for which no-one has been tried or even charged.

Spanish-born actor Daniel Gimenez Cacho told the crowd, "These events are the most recent episode of the systematic violation of human rights in Guerrero." The whole country is in pain due to the Ayotzinapa case, he said, adding, "the missing students must be found alive."

One of the parents of the missing Ayotzinapa students told the crowd, "As parents, we are in profound pain, but we are confident that our family members are still alive."

Estanislao Mendoza, father of disappeared student Miguel Angel Mendoza, said, "We do not want the narco-politics in our country, we reject the narco-politics in Guerrero. If the president [Enrique Peña Nieto] cannot resolve this issue, he should resign."

Despite international attention and condemnation, the Mexican government of Peña Nieto continues to deny any responsibility for the corruption, mass killings and impunity. This is despite the fact that the government has admitted there being more than 23,000 people across the country who have been "disappeared." It has also done everything possible to deny international reports that torture is a widespread practice in the country.

(TeleSUR.. Photos: TeleSUR, L. A. Vargas )

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Colombian Government Sabotages Peace Talks

FARC Leader Killed in New Military Attack

A commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was killed in a military attack May 25, just hours after the guerrilla group's negotiator announced that the government airstrikes represented a "setback" for peace talks.

"Colombia Wants Peace"

Commander Roman Ruiz was killed alongside four other militants, Reuters reports, after government forces bombed their position in the Choco region, adding to the 26 killed earlier this month.

In response, the FARC has suspended a unilateral ceasefire that it had sustained for five months, in a step intended to accelerate the peace process and reduce the intensity of confrontations.

"The Colombian people demand peace. [Colombian President Juan Manuel] Santos was re-elected for a second mandate so he could achieve peace. Our peace delegation was sent by all the guerrillas in the country for the same objective," said FARC negotiator Pablo Catatumbo at the peace dialogues in Havana, Cuba May 25. "This is the wrong path and it is obvious peace will never be reached by escalating the conflict," he said.

In reference to statements made by Colombian authorities and media outlets, Catatumbo criticized the portrayal of the fallen guerrillas as "villains" who were "neutralized," in contrast to government soldiers killed in combat who are characterized as "heroes."

The Colombian government resumed bombing raids on rebel camps after a clash with the FARC killed 11 soldiers in April. The FARC also reiterated its demand for a bilateral ceasefire, a demand echoed by several Colombian politicians.


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FARC Suspends Unilateral Ceasefire

It was not in our plans to suspend the unilateral and indefinite cease-fire proclaimed on December 20, 2014 as a humanitarian gesture of de-escalation of the conflict, but the inconsistency of the Santos government has done this, after five months of attacks on the ground and in the air against our structures throughout the country.

We deplore the joint attack of the Air Force, the army and the police carried out at dawn on Thursday [May 21] against a camp of the 29th Front of the FARC in Guapi (Cauca), during which, according to official sources, 26 guerrilla combatants were killed.

For us, the deaths of guerrilla combatants and soldiers are equally painful; they are children of the same nation and from poor families. We must stop this bleeding.

Against our will, we have to continue the talks in the midst of the confrontation. Although Santos announces that he will continue the offensive, we insist on the need to agree, as soon as possible, for the health of the peace process and to prevent further victimization, on a bilateral ceasefire, insistently requested by national majorities.

We appreciate the work of monitoring and verification of the unilateral ceasefire that was carried out by the Broad Front for Peace and the social and political movements of Colombia during these five months.

Colombian Jungle, May 22, 2015

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Declaration by Guarantor Countries Cuba and Norway

The governments of Cuba and Norway, guarantor countries in the peace talks between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP, express their profound concern at the current escalation of the armed conflict in Colombia. We regret the loss of lives this has caused.

The achievements made at the talks, with important agreements on three agenda ítems, need to be preserved. Never before has Colombia been closer to finding a peaceful solution to the armed conflict.

The escalation of the armed conflict also puts at risk the actions that have been implemented to reduce the levels of violence and build confidence, such as the agreement to start clearing anti personnel landmines, and unexploded ordnance and explosive remnants of war.

We call on the parties to continue their efforts on finding a negotiated solution to the remaining issues, including reaching an agreement on a definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities.

Cuba and Norway reiterate that we are at the full disposal of the parties to contribute to the peace talks and the adoption of a final agreement to end the conflict and to create stable and lasting peace in Colombia.

Havana, May 27, 2015

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News from Venezuela, Paraguay and Peru 

New Recording Uncovers Another Coup Attempt
in Venezuela

A new recording that reveals jailed opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Daniel Ceballos plotting against the Venezuelan government was released May 25 by state-run VTV.

The revelation comes after both opposition leaders declared themselves on a hunger strike May 23. Lopez and Ceballos are being held in Ramo Verde prison after the Venezuelan government charged them with inciting violence during protests which took place in February 2014. The opposition's violent "guarimbas" left 43 civilians dead.

Economic War on Venezuela

Public meeting in Venezuela, January 20, 2015. Banner reads "The Economic War is Against the People."

The recording shows a conversation between Lopez and Ceballos making plans ahead of the hunger strike. Both leaders discuss the strategy behind the move, which would be to launch a series of protests, including the deployment of snipers, so as to repeat the fatal incident of 14 months ago.

"That video has to be recorded tonight," Lopez tells Ceballos. Ceballos responds "and we have to call people to the streets" and Lopez adds "a massive demonstration on Saturday [May 30], against this mess and in favor of the petition [to free the two]."

According to the conversation, preparations were already taking place before the video was released, which included organizing protesters camping outside the United Nations in Caracas.

The actions would be headed by student movements close to Voluntad Popular -- Lopez's party -- which would make them look like student-led protests.

"No, this thing will draw a lot of 'carajitos' (young people prone to violence), our students will make a great effort," explains Lopez.

The plan, as Ceballos explains, would be implemented through precise goals every five days, with the first protest taking place the weekend after their announced hunger strike begins. According to VTV's presenter Miguel Perez Pirela, the timing of each goal corresponds to a biological event related to their hunger strike.

Both leaders refer to planting 'bichos' (bugs), a term that refers to snipers. Since the 2002 coup in Venezuela when this tactic was first used, the opposition has been accused of placing snipers on rooftops to kill people and create confusion amongst protesters.

Lopez confirms that they already have a team coordinating these actions, headed by former Gen. Raul Isaias Baduel and his jailed son Emilio Baduel.

Both politicians agree during their conversation to make their hunger strike video go viral in order to draw enough attention so as to develop momentum. It is of note that the video made by Leopoldo Lopez, announcing he and Ceballos were beginning a hunger strike, was aired by CNN.


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Ten Days of Mobilization Against
Privatization Bill in Paraguay

On May 27, thousands of Paraguayan activists and farmers mobilized across the country for the 10th consecutive day of action to demand authorities repeal a bill authorizing public-private partnerships (P3). The P3 legislation has been widely condemned by public-sector workers and civil society organizations, who are concerned that the law will permit privatization of public services including health and education.

In March 2014, workers launched the country's first general strike in 20 years demanding greater labour protections, higher wages and a stronger social welfare system. The demonstration was organized by various leaders from the Democratic Congress of the People (CDP) created that month. It consists of 20 political parties, unions, student and indigenous movements, among others. The movement aims to be a means to defend the interests of the majority against the government, gathering all the progressive forces of the country. It includes Frente Guasu, the only center-left party that has so far managed to win a presidential election with former priest Fernando Lugo, who was removed from power one year before the end of his presidential term via a parliamentary coup. One of CDP's leaders, Marcial Gomez, said the CDP met with a few Senators requesting that they abrogate the P3 bill because it weakens the country's sovereignty. However, the Senators seemed reluctant to do so. Demonstrators have warned that if those in government do not take into account their demands, they could retaliate with a protest vote of blank or spoiled ballots during the upcoming November municipal elections.

Senators were expected to amend Article 52 of the P3 bill on May 28 in a way that would reduce the powers of the executive, a modification supported by the demonstrators and considered a first step toward its complete abrogation.


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General Strike Against Mining Project in Peru

Forty-eight hour general strike in Peru took place May 27-28, 2015.

On May 27, after 67 days of protests against the Tia Maria mine, a 48-hour general strike began across six regions of southern Peru.

The strike was in solidarity with protests against the Tia Maria mining project in the Tambo Valley of Islay province in the Arequipa region. The northern region of Cajamarca also joined the general strike. The Tia Maria mine is run by the firm Southern Peru, which is Mexican-owned.

Dozens of protesters have been arrested and at least four lives have been lost since the conflict began. The UN Regional Office for Human Rights has called for a de-escalation of tensions.

The strike came four days after President Ollanta Humala declared a 60-day state of emergency in Islay province. The emergency measures restrict citizens' rights to freedom of movement and assembly, and authorize police to enter people's houses without a warrant.

Protests May 22, Cocachacra, Ilay province.

In anticipation of the strike, President Humala ordered the army to be deployed to Arequipa, Cuzco, Puno, Moquegua and Cajamarca, and then to all six regions of southern Peru that were on strike. Several radio journalists accused the police of persecuting them and have fled the area where the state of emergency is in force. All schools in four regions -- Arequipa, Cuzco, Puno and Moquegua -- were closed as a result of the strike.

In the capital city of the Arequipa region more marches took place. March participants pointed out that they are experiencing violations of human rights: officials are entering houses, detaining people, and inflicting atrocities. They called on the international community to speak up about what is happening in the Tambo Valley.

On May 27 in Peru's national capital, Lima, the political party Dignity and Democracy held a press conference. Dignity and Democracy brings together former ruling party officials who broke their alliance with the president after he abandoned his duty to serve the public interest. Together with civil society organizations, they accused the government of making the situation worse.

They demanded the mining project be suspended and the state of emergency be lifted. They also called for the resignation of the Minister of the Interior for his handling of the conflict.

Congresswoman Claudia Coari of Dignity and Democracy stated, "If [the project] is not suspended, there will be more problems as the government is sending the police and the army. In that case, there will be more blood and more death. Nobody wants that. That is why we are alerting the president of the anticipated dangers with this statement and in the [press] conferences."

Organizers of the protests are considering expanding the strikes to other regions, as well as the possibility of continuing the strikes indefinitely.

(TeleSUR.. Photos; TeleSUR, Free Tenharim, Syndicalist)

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Russia Defends Itself Against Foreign Interference

Law on "Undesirable Foreign Groups"
Comes into Effect

The Russian president has signed a bill banning the activities of foreign groups that pose a threat to national security or defence capability, and to punish those who continue to cooperate with such groups.

The bill, initially drafted by two opposition MPs, was passed by both chambers of the Russian parliament on May 19. It tasks the Prosecutor General's Office and the Foreign Ministry with creating a proscribed list of "undesirable foreign organizations" and outlawing their activities in the country. The main criterion for putting a foreign or international NGO on the list is that they pose a "threat to the constitutional order and defense capability, or the security of the Russian state."

Once a group is recognized as undesirable, all its assets in Russia must be frozen, its offices closed and distribution of any of its information materials must be banned.

If the group does not comply with the ban, its leaders and members could face punishment ranging from administrative fines to prison sentences of up to six years for repeated and aggravated offenses. Russian citizens and organizations that continue to work with banned groups could face administrative fines only.

The new law faced criticism from foreign NGOs and the Russian rights community when it was first drafted. Chairman of the Presidential Council for Human Rights Mikhail Fedotov described the new law as "exotic" and said that many foreign groups were "shocked" by it. Another member of the council, lawyer Aleksandr Brod, said in comments to the media that the new law was redundant as there were enough ways in existing legislation to ensure national security and prevent foreign interference with Russian domestic politics.

The European Union and the United States have officially expressed their concern over the new Russian law. The U.S. State Department said in a statement that the move banning cooperation with various foreign groups could bring about the isolation of the Russian people from the outside world.

Russian officials have not yet reacted to these accusations. Previously, the sponsors of the bill have described it as a preventive measure and denied that it targets any specific foreign organizations.

The new law is in line with the "Foreign Agents Law" introduced in Russia in late 2012. That law specifies that all NGOs who receive funding from abroad, and that are even partially engaged in political activities, must register as foreign agents or risk substantial fines. Groups with "foreign agent" status are banned from sponsoring Russian political parties, but otherwise their activities are not restricted.


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European Union Summit in Riga

EU Pulls Away from Ukraine and
Its Eastern Partnership

That the European Union is quietly disengaging from its Ukrainian adventure gains further confirmation from the results of the latest Eastern Partnership summit in Riga.

EU Expansion in Eastern Europe in Doubt

Though Western governments deny it, the Eastern Partnership was set up to stop Eurasian integration by drawing away from Russia former Soviet republics that might otherwise have gravitated back towards Russia. The Association Agreements the EU has signed with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova are products of the Eastern Partnership. To say that the Eastern Partnership has had mixed results would be to rate it too highly and would be far too generous.

Map of EU countries (dark blue) and Eastern Partnership (light blue).

Two former Soviet republics, Belarus and Armenia, while continuing politely to participate, have refused to be drawn away from their historic alignment with Russia. Belarus is a founding member of the Eurasian Union, which Armenia is now also joining. Membership in the Eastern Partnership by these two countries is no more than a formality.

Azerbaijan has long pursued its own independent course, maintaining good relations with both Russia and the West. Perennial Western hopes that Azerbaijan will replace Russia as the main supplier of oil and gas to Europe have always been disappointed.

These three countries which while participating in the Eastern Partnership have maintained their distance from the EU and their links to Russia, are today the most prosperous and politically stable of those involved in the project.

The three countries that have embraced the Eastern Partnership most enthusiastically -- Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine -- have in contrast all run into serious difficulties.

In 2008 Georgia lost Abkhazia and South Ossetia, even if it remains unable to accept the fact. It continues to depend heavily on Russia, which not only remains the major market for its goods, but which continues to be the major source of the remittances that keep its economy afloat. Though the Georgian political class remains united in seeking EU integration, the politician most identified with the policy, former President Saakashvili, is discredited and an exile, wanted in Georgia on criminal charges.

Moldova -- rather like Ukraine before 2013 -- is evenly divided between mutually hostile pro-EU and pro-Russia factions. It also has to contend with a pro-Russian de facto independent state inside its borders in the form of the republic of Transnistria, an area that before the 1917 Revolution belonged to the historically Russian territory of Novorossia.

Though the pro-EU faction is in control of Moldova, as in Ukraine it is deeply factionalised. In the meantime, cut off from its traditional Russian markets by the pro-EU course of its government, Moldova remains one of the poorest countries in Europe.

For Ukraine, the Eastern Partnership has been a total disaster, triggering a descent into civil war and economic collapse.

The latest summit in Riga shows the degree to which following the Ukrainian debacle the whole project is now running out of steam. There is no doubt that when Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine joined the Eastern Partnership they did so in the expectation that they would one day join the EU. Moreover, there is little doubt the European authors of the Eastern Partnership thought the same thing.

In all three of these countries loyalty to "Europe" -- formed in the expectation of eventual EU membership -- has acquired the fanatical quality one normally associates with membership in a religious cult.

During the 2008 war, many noticed from television pictures that Georgia's then President Saakashvili had an EU flag on his desk alongside Georgia's flag -- as if Georgia was already a member of the EU.

In Moldova there has been talk of criminalising any questioning of Moldova's "Euro-Atlantic course".

The protests that led in February 2014 to the toppling of Ukrainian President Yanukovych (triggered by his decision to postpone signing the Association Agreement with the EU) called themselves "EuroMaidan". A news agency set up by the protesters during the protests still calls itself by that name.

The summit in Riga has put a massive dampener on all this.

Prior to the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned former Soviet states that no concrete promises of future EU membership were being made to them. The Eastern Partnership is not an "instrument of enlargement politics for the European Union and we must not make promises that we can't fulfill," Merkel said. Similar warnings were made by other European officials.

On the topic of future membership, EU Commission President Juncker said "they are not ready, we are not ready".

Even as determined an opponent of Russia and supporter of eventual EU membership for the former Soviet states as European Council President Donald Tusk said -- in words some might find cynical -- "They have their right to have a dream, but maybe not membership in the predictable future."

The result, as I predicted in an interview I did for Radio Sputnik on the eve of the summit, is that the summit has produced a long-winded and pompously worded Declaration (link below) that on careful reading commits the EU to absolutely nothing. The nearest it comes to mentioning eventual EU membership is in paragraph 2, where it says:

"In the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership, the Summit participants reaffirm the sovereign right of each partner freely to choose the level of ambition and the goals to which it aspires in its relations with the European Union. It is for the EU and its sovereign partners to decide on how they want to proceed in their relations." (Italics added)

In other words, putting it rather less brutally than Tusk, the former Soviet states have a right to apply for EU membership (something no one has ever disputed), but no right to membership, and there is no obligation on the EU to grant it.

Most disappointing of all, to the Ukrainians especially, is the EU's failure to offer visa free access or any real prospect of it. This was achieved by Moldova in April 2014, at a time when shortly after the Maidan coup hopes for the success of the Eastern Partnership project were riding high. Now that those hopes have been dashed by the Ukrainian disaster, European willingness to grant even this has cooled.

This will be a particularly bitter blow to Ukraine where hopes of gaining visa free access to the EU was critically important in mobilising support for the Maidan movement, especially among young people. The importance of this issue for Ukraine is shown by the fact that Ukrainian President Poroshenko was still saying right up to the eve of the summit that a "political decision" to give Ukraine visa free access would be made at the summit.

That did not happen, and demands by Ukrainian foreign minister Klimkin for Ukraine to be given "concrete assurances" and a roadmap for EU membership went unheeded.

To sweeten the pill, Ukraine has been promised $2 billion in EU aid -- a totally inadequate sum given Ukraine's needs.

Even this promise might turn out to be less than it seems. The wording of paragraph 21 suggests this might simply be money that was promised to Ukraine before.

The EU and the IMF have repeatedly re-announced the same aid packages for Ukraine they announced previously, dressing them up as new ones. The vague wording of paragraph 21 suggests that this might again be the case with this latest announcement.

This aid is, anyway, in the form of a loan, which means it could be withdrawn or cancelled if Ukraine defaults on its debts, which it is likely to do. It also appears to be linked to Ukraine carrying out reforms, which Ukraine has never been able to do, and which in itself calls into question the prospect of this loan money ever being disbursed.

Like everything else that came out of the Riga summit this promise -- like promises of aid made to Ukraine before -- looks symbolic or declaratory rather than real.

This deeply disappointing outcome for Ukraine has elicited a bitter comment from Ukraine's former President Yushchenko, who said: "The world is getting tired of the Ukrainian issue ... they've started swatting Ukraine away like a pesky fly."

As we have previously discussed (see "EU Prepares to Abandon Ukraine," Russia Insider, 22nd May 2015) the terms of the February Minsk Memorandum, the autonomy proposals made with Russia's backing by the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, and reports about the comprehensive re negotiation of Ukraine's Association Agreement with the EU, taken together, all point to the EU looking for ways to extricate itself from the disaster its policies have created in Ukraine.

The results of the Riga summit seem to confirm that, and suggest that the drive to expand the EU into the territory of the former USSR is all but over. However that is dressed up, it inevitably means abandoning Ukraine to its fate. Yushchenko's comment suggests that some Ukrainians are starting to wake up to the fact.

For full text of the Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit click here.

(Russia Insider, May 25, 2015.)

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China Resists Attempts at Containment

China Unveils New Military Strategy Amid
Regional Tensions

The Chinese government on May 26 released its new military strategy white paper, updating the most recent document of this kind that was released in 2013.

The new strategy increases focus on China's territorial seas and on the country's naval force, shifting its attention towards a combination of "offshore waters defense and open seas protection."

The document also increases China's concentration on information warfare and cybersecurity, a current trend in armed forces worldwide.

However, the new strategy maintains the Chinese policy of avoiding preemptive measures, which implies the country will not attack any other nation if it is not attacked first.

"Some countries adopt preemptive strategies, emphasizing preventive intervention and taking the initiative in attack. Ours is totally different," explained Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun at a press conference where the document was revealed.

The new strategy comes as tensions have mounted over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, contested by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia. China also is in a dispute with Japan over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

China's release of the document coincides with the increasing role of the United States military in the region. Last week, the Chinese government denounced spying operations by the U.S. over the South China Sea.

On May 25, Japan confirmed it will participate in joint maritime military exercises with the United States and Australia, further increasing tensions.

The exercise dubbed "Talisman Sabre" will begin in mid-July and include over 30,000 U.S. and Australian personnel.

Last week, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden announced that 60 per cent of the U.S. Navy would be deployed to the Asia Pacific by 2020, a long-term strategy of the Obama administration to direct attention toward the region.

(TeleSUR, May 27, 2015.)

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Germany Works with India to Contain China

On May 26, German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen will begin several days of talks in New Delhi on questions of military and arms policies. India's new armament projects are the immediate reason for von der Leyen's visit. India wants, among other things, to construct German submarines under license, and Berlin is seeking a more intensified cooperation in foreign and military policy. This visit will prepare numerous agreements, within the framework of the German-Indian government consultations, scheduled for October. It takes place in the context of India's efforts to roll back China's influence in the Indian Ocean -- an effort Berlin supports. Sri Lanka is a current point of contention of this power struggle. Over the past few years, this strategically important island nation has begun to ally itself closely with Beijing. To avoid a too strong dependency on China, the new Sri Lankan government -- in office since January -- is seeking to reduce its ties to China and strengthen relations to the West. Last week, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany's Minister of Foreign Affairs, welcomed his Sri Lankan counterpart in Berlin, to reinforce Germany's position in Sri Lanka -- in light of the power struggle with Beijing.

Armaments Projects

German Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen's talks with her Indian counterpart, Manohar Parrikar, May 26, and May 27 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be focused on armaments projects -- particularly on submarines. India's leading dockyards, Mazagon Dock Limited is currently building "Scorpène" class submarines under license of France's DCNS Company. The first one was launched in April and is now being tested. At the same time, the government in New Delhi plans to construct a second type of submarine under license and is interested in cooperation with the ThyssenKrupp Company. Between 1986 and 1994, India's Navy commissioned four German-made submarines, to which more are to be added. According to the Indian press, other armament projects will also be discussed during the German defense minister's visit.[1]

Against China

India's naval arms buildup is aimed directly at its assuring control over the Indian Ocean. This region is not only home to one-third of humanity and 40 percent of the world's oil and gas reserves, also 33 percent of global trade, 50 percent of container ship traffic and 70 percent of the world's oil transports cross this south Asian ocean.[2] Above all however, New Delhi currently finds itself confronted with the fact that the People's Republic of China is generally growing stronger and also expanding its activities particularly in the Indian Ocean. This can be seen in the fact that Beijing is building "an array of commercial ports in countries neighboring India -- Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Myanmar," according to an analysis published last year by the German Ministry of Defense. These will not only serve to expand its trade, but also "China's potential for the military use of these facilities."[3] Therefore, India seeks to consolidate "its presence" in the Indian Ocean "and contain China's growing influence," explains the analysis further.

No Easy Partner

Berlin will support New Delhi in its efforts to push back Beijing -- and not only with arms supplies. Germany and India maintain a "strategic partnership," which, in principle, includes the entire range of foreign and military policy issues.[4] Agreements on these issues are expected during Defense Minister von der Leyen's current talks in New Delhi, in preparation for the German-Indian government consultations in October. Germany whole-heartedly shares India's interests in prohibiting a further expansion of China's power. However, India is "no easy partner for the West," admits the author of the Defense Ministry's analysis. "The idea" that this south Asian country can "be manipulated into becoming a counterweight to China, is an idea that only appeals to extremely few in India's foreign and security policy community."[5] "Indian policymakers want, in no case, to see themselves as puppets of the West, and place great significance on an independent policy," explains the author. Therefore, "over the past few years, New Delhi has positioned itself in the international arena in such a way that it cooperates with all significant major powers, without developing too strong ties to any one country" - not even to the West.[6]

Strategically Important

German-Indian efforts to roll back Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean are currently evident also in Sri Lanka, a strategically highly prominent South Asian country. This island nation, situated near India's southern coast, at the maritime trade routes from East and Southeast Asia to the West, can not only keep an eye on the maritime routes, but also on India's military activities, according to experts.[7] China has greatly enhanced its relations to Sri Lanka over the past few years. The People's Republic of China is not only competing with India's traditional role as Sri Lanka's most important supplier, but is also enhancing its own position through major investments in the Sri Lankan infrastructure. China is upgrading ports in the country's capital, Colombo, and in Hambantota on the island nation's southern coast, enabling Sri Lanka to become an exclusive hub for the important maritime trade passing through the Indian Ocean. Beijing has also begun using the Sri Lankan ports for its navy. Last September, a Chinese Navy submarine docked for the first time in Colombo.

Change of Course in Colombo

India, as well as Western countries, would like to take advantage of last January's change of government in Colombo to roll back China's advances. Sri Lanka's new President Maithripala Sirisena announced his intentions to reduce Beijing's influence in his country. "While President Sirisena recognizes the importance of strong bilateral ties with China, he does not want Sri Lanka to depend solely on one world power," an expert at the analytical firm IHS explained.[8] Therefore his first foreign visit, last February, was to India. Sirisena is also planning to cooperate more closely with Germany. At the end of last week, Sri Lankan Foreign Minster Mangala Samaraweera visited Berlin for talks with his German counterpart and with the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. Following his meeting with Samaraweera, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier declared that Berlin will "strongly support" Sri Lanka, which is on a "path of political and economic consolidation." It is particularly important to intensify economic relations.[9] Germany trails far behind China: whereas direct and indirect German investments in Sri Lanka were 123 Million Euros in 2012, Chinese investments were in the billions, and whereas China's trade with Sri Lanka reached a volume on US $3.1 Billion in 2013, German-Sri Lankan trade had barely reached 700 Million Euros.

Running to Catch Up

"There is still a lot of potential" to foster German-Sri Lankan trade relations, announced Foreign Minister Steinmeier in an interview for the Sri Lankan press, and "potential investors have been contacted."[10] Berlin is running to catch up, with the objective of weakening Beijing's position in the Indian Ocean.


1. Indo-German defence ministers meet next week. 20.05.2015.

2. Manohar Parrikar undocks first indigenously-built Scorpene submarine. 06.04.2015.

3. Sandra Destradi: Regionalmacht in einem schwierigen Umfeld: Indien als sicherheitspolitischer Akteur. 30.05.2014.

4. See Chinas Gegenspieler.

5. Sandra Destradi: Regionalmacht in einem schwierigen Umfeld: Indien als sicherheitspolitischer Akteur. 30.05.2014.

6. See Outlines of a Multipolar World,

7. Srinivas Mazumdaru: Modi seeking to counter China's clout in Indian Ocean. 11.03.2015.

8. Gabriel Domínguez: Sri Lanka's new leader to visit China after scaling back ties. 25.03.2015.

9. Unterstützung für demokratischen Weg Sri Lankas. 22.05.2015.

10. German Foreign Minister says political changes impressive, urges meaningful reconciliation. 13.05.2015.

(May 26, 2015)

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Opposition to U.S. Threats on Korean Peninsula

Letter to President of United Nations Security Council

Demonstration in Seoul against U.S. and south Korea joint military exercises, March 2, 2015.


Upon instructions from my Government, I have the honour to bring your attention to the United States' and south Korea's joint military exercises titled "Key Resolve" and "Foal Eagle" that have been conducted against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea during the months of March and April 2015.

These US-south Korea joint military exercises were real nuclear war games of aggression which mobilized all kinds of the latest means of strategic nuclear strikes with the purpose of occupying Pyongyang, capital of the DPRK, in order to remove the leadership of the DPRK. This clearly shows the aggressive nature of the US-south Korea joint military exercises against the DPRK.

It is, too, natural that the DPRK has to build up its self-defense deterrent against the United States' aggressive military threats. The DPRK's recent underwater test-fire of a ballistic missile from a strategic submarine is a legitimate measure of a sovereign state to bolster its self-defensive capability against the United States' provocative military maneuvers.

In case the Security Council only makes an issue of the DPRK's self-defensive underwater test-fire of a ballistic missile from a strategic submarine, while ignoring the 2 provocative joint military exercises by the United States and south Korea against the DPRK, the Security Council will be proven to be a political tool of the high-handed and arbitrary practice of one Permanent Member, it being against the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

The DPRK Government is of the view that the Security Council should consider the issue of the US-south Korea joint military exercises a root cause of a vicious cycle aggravating the situation on the Korean peninsula as well as a grave threat to the maintenance of international peace and security.

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

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

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

(May 25, 2015. Slightly edited for grammar by TML.)

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Recent Massacre Committed by Terrorists in Palmyra, Syria

Certain States' Support for Terrorists
Enabled Massacre, Foreign Ministry Says

The Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry on May 25 sent identical letters to the head of the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary-General on the recent massacre committed by terrorists in Palmyra.

In the letters, the Ministry said that as part of the continuing terrorist crimes committed against Syria and its people, ISIS terrorists stormed Palmyra, one of the oldest historical cities in the world, wreaking havoc and committing heinous massacres against innocent civilians, with the hordes of ISIS slaughtering dozens of civilians, most of them women, children, and elderly people, preventing thousands from leaving the city, and taking many families and youth to parts unknown.

The Ministry asserted that such terrorist acts wouldn't have happened without the persistence of certain states in providing all sorts of support for over four years to Takfiri terrorist organizations including ISIS, Jabhet al-Nusra -- which is now being called al-Fateh Army, Al Qaeda offshoots, the Free Army, and other criminal terrorists groups that embrace an exclusionist Wahabi mentality and include members from over 90 countries.

The letters said that generous support is provided to those terrorist organizations by regional and international regimes -- primarily Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and Israel -- along with the collusion and feigned ignorance of some Western states that supported these groups to undermine and weaken Syria as part of reckless policies that serve the narrow interests of certain states and their leaders who care nothing for the suffering of Syrians or for the UN charter, international law, and counterterrorism.

The Ministry said that the heinous massacre in Palmyra is a continuation of the terrorists' crimes against humanity and human heritage that started at the beginning of the crisis in Syria with the goal of obliterating the country's heritage.

The letters said that Palmyra is now teeming with terrorists while certain sides that continue to boast of being heroes in combating terrorism remain silent, and other sides assume timid positions just to avoid reproach or give the false impression that they are fighting terrorism.

The Ministry asserted that Syria affirmed in the past and still affirms is readiness to cooperate on bilateral, regional, and international levels to combat terrorism, and that Syria has announced its support for any real international counterterrorism effort that preserves civilians' lives and respects sovereignty and international accords.

The Ministry noted that the declared war on terrorism that some states came up with nearly a year ago failed to achieve any of its announced goals. Rather it allowed ISIS and its affiliates and allies to expand and spread not only in Syria and Iraq, but also in Egypt, Libya, some African states, and even in Saudi Arabia itself, which requires a firm stance on the part of international community against the states that support and fund terrorism. The Ministry added that certain states that claim to fight terrorism and join counterterrorism alliances are actually funding, arming, and harboring terrorists and providing propaganda for them.

The Ministry called on the Security Council to confirm its commitment to combat terrorism and extremist terrorist organizations by implementing its counterterrorism resolutions by word and deed in a manner removed from politicization and double standards and via full cooperation and coordination with the Syrian government which has been fighting terrorism on behalf of the world for a long time.

The letters concluded by asserting the Syrian government's commitment to continue combating terrorism and defending its people as per its constitutional duties, calling on the Security Council and the UN Secretary-General to take the necessary deterrent steps against terrorist organizations and the states that sponsor and support it, particularly the regimes in Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and a number of Western countries, voicing hope that the letters will be adopted as an official document by the Security Council.

(Hazem Sabbagh. Slightly edited for grammar by TML.)

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