March 12, 2016 - No. 11

March 13 -- Anniversary of the Founding of The Internationalists

A Call to Take Up the Program that Emerges from the Conditions of Our Times

Celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of The Internationalists, held in
Toronto on March 16, 2013.

Canada's Self-Righteous Attitude on Human Rights
UN Committee Rakes Canada Over the Coals for
Serious Human Rights Failures

Canada's Inadequate Performance in Geneva
Yet Another Fraudulent Conception of Human Rights to Be Championed by Yet Another Fraudulent Human Rights Centre
- Dougal MacDonald -

Photo Review
International Women's Day 2016

U.S. President Barack Obama's Visit to Cuba
Granma Editorial, March 9

Amnesty Bill in Venezuela's National Assembly
Right Wing Confesses to 17 Years of Political Delinquency
- Dr. Francisco Dominguez -

UN Security Council Resolution
Against Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Unjust Sanctions Must Be Withdrawn!
Biggest Ever U.S.-South Korea Provocative Military Exercises

For Your Information
UN Security Council Resolution 2270

March 13 -- Anniversary of the Founding of The Internationalists

A Call to Take Up the Program that Emerges
from the Conditions of Our Times

On March 13, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) celebrates the founding of its precursor organization, The Internationalists, at the University of British Columbia in 1963. In their formative period, The Internationalists inscribed on their banner the aim which was inherent to those conditions which gave birth to the organization. The aim, the conditions and the birth were not separate from one another. This fact points to the great merit of The Internationalists which was that they paid attention to carrying out those tasks which were required by the conditions on the basis of bringing about progressive changes.

From The Internationalists the Party inherited this ability to set a program that emerges from the conditions of our times. This is one of its greatest achievements which today all the Party organizations are called on to master so as to make their work effective.

What is inherent in the present conditions and the aim which is consistent with those conditions? What is the work which the Party has set for itself in this period which has to be taken up in a very determined fashion? It is that millions of people on the world scale have risen demanding change. This movement for change also exists in Canada and, as is the case everywhere, despite setbacks and the twists and turns as a result of unfolding events, it is gaining momentum.

Long before the developments of the current period began, CPC(M-L) analyzed that the world was at a turning point within which no forces could continue to act in the old way. The Party took measures and as a result it was capable of analyzing the situation and pinpointing that in their striving for change, it is the political process which the working class and people want renewed. The leader of the Party at that time, Hardial Bains, pointed out that the renewal of the political process is a question facing the entire polity. This means it favours that class which spearheads it, he pointed out, adding that the striving of the people for change requires the leadership of the working class if it is not to be saddled with the aim which the reactionary forces impose on society to pay the rich and wage a vicious anti-social offensive.

Hardial Bains explained that the Party faces a complexity in this period because it must organize the class while at the same time it must be one with the broad masses of the people for the renewal of the political process. Between the two there is no Chinese Wall, he said, nor the possibility that one should be sacrificed for the sake of the other. In this regard, Hardial Bains emphasized that even if it were possible to renew the political process without the working class being organized, it would not go far nor succeed.

The rich and the governments and agencies in their service have nothing to offer in terms of renovating the political and economic spheres and working out mechanisms which can provide the working class with a means to open a path for itself in the present circumstances. Thus, one of the greatest battles of this period centres on the issue of whose agenda will prevail, that of the ruling class or that of the working people.

The Party sets the agenda of its organizations at all levels to make sure the renewal of the society is successful and favours the people. It is by taking up this agenda that the party organizations and the working people and youth will be able to overcome the damage caused by the official circles which are dead-set against anybody but themselves setting the agenda for the society.

We are living in dangerous times, with chaos in the world economy and the world powers fighting to see who is going to be the sole leader. There is a need for vigilance, particularly to ensure that the dangers are not aggravated by the working class being led into passivity and paralysis while the youth are diverted into dead-ends. The Party must carry its work to eliminate the weaknesses in the working class movement and arouse the workers to take political actions which the youth can join. Such work will also bring about significant improvements to their own conditions and the condition of the society.

The working class, in spearheading the renewal of the political process, will open a path for the further development of the society, and give itself a greater role in the advancement of the society. The more the ruling circles shout that there is no alternative, the more the opportunity presents itself for the working class and its party to prove that there is an alternative to both the political process and the perpetual crisis of the capitalist system. Involving the working people and the youth in working out the alternative to the anti-social offensive and in the program to renew the political process is the crucial factor for the advance of the movement. With this crucial factor present it is impossible that the movement will not develop.

The significance of the work undertaken for the renewal of the political process cannot be overestimated. As this movement develops, the discussion and debate in the society will be broadened. This work is the basis for the deepening and broadening of the consciousness of the people.

On this anniversary of the founding of The Internationalists, CPC(M-L) hails that spirit and feeling of progressive Canadians that emerged from the University of British Columbia in 1963, that spirit which defied everything chauvinistic, backward and reactionary. With The Internationalists, a truly Canadian organization, born out of the conditions of Canada, came into being. It borrowed nothing from anyone else, but stood on its own feet, a characteristic the Party inherited and has practised since it was founded in 1970.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the founding of The Internationalists Hardial Bains called on the Party activists to hold the Party banner high. The issue is not to wave the red flag, he said. It is to show our colours through our deeds. On this occasion, let us once again take up this call by showing that the Communist Party can lead. This is what the working class and the youth want and need from us as a Party!

Red Salute to The Internationalists!
Long Live CPC(M-L)!

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Canada's Self-Righteous Attitude on Human Rights

UN Committee Rakes Canada Over the Coals for Serious Human Rights Failures

Canada was recently taken to task in Geneva by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for its failure to take action on serious issues that the Committee raised during previous reviews of its compliance with human rights treaties. This took place at Canada's sixth periodic review of compliance with the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), during the 57th session of the Committee held in Geneva from  February 22 to March 4.

The opening section of the Committee's Concluding Observations pointed to positive aspects of Canada's performance, but the Committee raked Canada over the coals for its failure to eliminate or take measures against the major problems of gender discrimination, unemployment, poverty, homelessness, food insecurity and denial of rights of Indigenous peoples.

The positive aspects noted included the ratification in 2010 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the recent restoration of health care coverage for refugee claimants; the decision to establish a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women; and the government's commitment to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Committee objected to the fact that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not contain provisions on economic, social and cultural rights and recommended "broadening the interpretation" to "ensure the justiciability of Covenant rights." The Committee expressed its concern that "despite certain promising developments and the Government's commitment to review its litigation strategies, economic, social and cultural rights remain generally non-justiciable in domestic courts." It also expressed concern "at the limited availability of legal remedies for victims in the event of Covenant rights violation, which may disproportionately impact disadvantaged and marginalized groups and individuals, including homeless persons, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities."

Canada has been party to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights since it came into force in 1976 and sends regular reports on its compliance, despite the fact that it has never enshrined any such rights in law or made any pretense of guaranteeing them.

The Committee noted "stagnation in the levels of social spending as a share of Gross Domestic Product," and the "disproportionate impact of austerity measures... on disadvantaged and marginalized groups and individuals." The Committee also noted that "social condition" is not included among the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act.

On the rights of Indigenous peoples, the Committee recommended that Canada "fully recognize the right to free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples in its laws and policies and apply it in practice." The Committee expressed its concern about the conditions of Indigenous people and the failure to guarantee their basic rights, "including housing, education and health-care services," and "the decrease in the already insufficient funding allocated to Indigenous peoples." It also noted the inadequate funding of child welfare services to Indigenous peoples and the prevalence of Indigenous children in foster care.

Another issue noted once again this year was the conduct of corporations registered in Canada that operate abroad, particularly resource monopolies, and the lack of judicial remedies for victims. The same concern was raised in the 2015 review of compliance with the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which the Harper government arrogantly claimed it was not responsible for the actions of monopolies based in Canada abroad. This is a serious matter of concern due to the continued killings and other crimes which have occurred against those who oppose the actions of Canadian monopolies in their countries.

On the rights of women, the Committee noted the "discrimination against women in [Canada] in many areas of economic, social and cultural rights," as well as the persisting wage gap between men and women. It also found that violence against women is exacerbated by the economic insecurity in Canada and there are inadequate and insufficient women's shelters and other forms of support.

The Committee did not object to the persistence of unemployment in Canada but noted its concern that "certain disadvantaged and marginalized groups and individuals continue to be disproportionately affected by unemployment, including persons with disabilities, African-Canadians, youth, recent immigrants, minorities, and indigenous peoples." The Committee said it "is concerned about the decrease in the number of the unemployed who are eligible for employment insurance, as well as at the insufficient levels of these benefits." It also noted that the minimum wage in all provinces, as well as social assistance rates are inadequate and fall short of the cost of living.

The Committee noted "the persistence of a housing crisis" in Canada. This it attributed to the absence of a national housing strategy; insufficient funding for housing; inadequate housing subsidies within social assistance; a shortage of housing units; and increasing evictions due to rental arrears. It further noted its concern at the increasing number of homeless people in Canada, the shortage of emergency shelters and the existence of bylaws criminalizing homelessness.

High food insecurity was also noted, including increasing reliance of Canadians on food banks, and in particular the state of food security in northern Canada.

The Committee expressed its concern that undocumented immigrants in Canada are denied access to health care. On sexual and reproductive health, the Committee expressed concerns about disparities in access to legal abortion services in different parts of the country.

On education, the Committee mentioned the discrimination faced by Indigenous and African-Canadian children in primary and secondary education. It also expressed its concern about the increasing tuition fees in post-secondary education and decreasing government funding. On the matter of cultural rights, it noted that there is inadequate funding for the promotion of national minority art and culture as well as Indigenous languages, many of which are endangered.

Canada's seventh periodic report is to be presented by March 31, 2021. The 57th session of the Committee also considered the reports submitted by Kenya and Namibia.


1. Canada's latest periodic report on its compliance with the ICESCR was submitted October 17, 2012 and published April 22, 2014. The previous report was submitted August 17, 2005. In 2015, Canada underwent a review by the UN Human Rights Committee on its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which also raised serious issues about lack of compliance. See "UN Human Rights Committee Questions Canada's Record," TML Weekly, July 11, 2015 - No. 28.

Canada's 17-member delegation to the meeting of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was comprised of senior public servants, headed by Rachel Wernick, Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy, Planning and Corporate Affairs, Canadian Heritage.

Canada's sixth periodic report "outlines key measures adopted in Canada from January 2005 to December 2009 (with occasional references to developments of special interest that have occurred since) to enhance its implementation of the [ICESCR]."

Ahead of the Committee session, reports were submitted from 46 civil society organizations on the state of economic, social and cultural rights in Canada as well as the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The organizations which submitted information about Canada's compliance with the ICESCR were: Mining Watch; Ligue des droits et Libertés; Assembly of First Nations; Indigenous Rights Centre; Human Rights and Tobacco Control Network; Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children; Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada; Charter Committee on Poverty Issues and Social Rights Advocacy Centre; Canada Without Poverty; Asubpeeschoseewagong / Grassy Narrows First Nation; Amnesty International; The Right to an Adequate Standard of Living in Hamilton; Sierra Club BC; Right to Housing Coalition; Pivot Legal Society; Maytree; Colour of Poverty; International Human Rights Association of American Minorities; Indigenous Bar Association in Canada; Income Security Advocacy Centre; Human Rights Watch; Food Secure Canada; Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action; David Suzuki Foundation; Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation; Social Rights Advocacy Centre; Canadian Council for Refugees; Canadian Civil Liberties Association; Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; Le Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain; African Canadian Legal Clinic; Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights; and Council of Canadians with Disabilities.

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Canada's Inadequate Performance in Geneva

The Liberal government of Canada's contribution to UN meetings in Geneva, Switzerland in late February and early March was replete with all manner of buzzwords and phrases but was inadequate when it comes to showing that they are defending rights. It is all intended to sound good, but what they are actually saying is either not clear or intended to cover up what is and is not being done.

For instance, the Canadian delegation to the UN Economic and Social Council session in February and March in Geneva, Switzerland provided a "Reply to List of Issues" on specific questions raised during the periodic review of Canada on economic, social and cultural rights.

The Committee asked how Canada "is ensuring the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples affected by [resource development] projects in advance to the Government launching these projects."

To this the government said, "governments have a legal duty to consult and, where appropriate, accommodate Indigenous peoples when the Crown contemplates conduct that might adversely impact potential or established Indigenous or treaty rights." Its reply continued on this theme and did not use the term "free, prior and informed consent" which is found in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

A question requesting the government "provide information on the impact of austerity measures... on the actual enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights" received a similar reply. "Past federal government spending restraint measures focused on controlling operating expenses of departments without compromising the delivery of priority services to Canadians," the government said.

The head of Canada's delegation at the meeting, Rachel Wernick (Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy, Planning and Corporate Affairs at Canadian Heritage) gave an opening statement presenting Canada's sixth periodic report on February 28.

Wernick noted that 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation and that this "provides an opportunity to reflect on Canada's long-standing commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights."

"For Canada, this commitment is grounded in three essential characteristics: a pluralistic, inclusive society, inclusive and accountable governance -- with co-operation across all orders of government -- and the vital role of civil society and Indigenous peoples."

Wernick further stated that all governments in Canada "consult with civil society, community groups, Indigenous organizations and other stakeholders on specific policies and programs that serve to implement human rights." She said this "open and co-operative approach is further strengthened by features of Canada's legal system." Jurisdictions "often work together to address challenges in areas such as health, social services, housing and homelessness, family justice, and issues affecting Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities. Where Canadians consider themselves to be subject to a violation of their rights, their avenues to advocate, challenge and seek redress are accessible and well-established," she said.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees equality and non-discrimination, Wernick said. She stated that Canada's Constitution "recognizes and affirms the existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada." Wernick's presentation focused on three areas: "Canada's renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples, Canada's social protection framework, and the protection of migrants and refugees."

On these three areas Wernick made use of a mixture of questionable phrases, citing of measures such as restoring the long-form census, and references to Liberal campaign promises such as to issue its own flavour of child benefit cheques in the upcoming federal budget. All of this was to give the impression that the Government of Canada is concerned with guaranteeing economic, social and cultural rights but nothing could be further from the truth. The use of buzzwords and phrases is paternalistic and does not replace the need to explain what is meant and how it favours the interests of the people.

This same use of hollow phrases was also on display in the speech given by Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion to the the High-level Panel of the 31st Session of the Human Rights Council on March 1. The panel marked the 50th year of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Dion did not speak about the significance of the Covenants but addressed what he called "new challenges emerging and some regressions."

"Violent extremism is rising. Human rights defenders are harassed for daring to speak out against human rights abuses and violations. Sexual minorities are a target of extreme violence and hate. Sexual and gender-based violence is committed against women and girls at alarmingly increasing levels. Fifteen million young girls around the world every year are forced into marriage, which keeps them from reaching their full potential, interrupts their education, jeopardizes their health and makes them vulnerable to violence. Children are abused, exploited and neglected, turned into instruments of war, trafficked or made to labour in inhumane conditions, deprived of an education and adequate health care, and denied an opportunity to just be kids.

"Above all, what we see today is the proliferation of the misguided belief that diversity -- cultural, religious, ethnic, political, social and other forms of diversity -- is a threat."

Dion then said, "Justin Trudeau became prime minister of Canada by saying the exact opposite: that Canada is strong not in spite of its diversity, but because of it. When universal human rights are respected, pluralism is an opportunity, not a danger."

He continued by outlining two areas in which "we have our own set of human rights issues, historically and at present."

"Prime Minister Trudeau has been unequivocal about our commitment to a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples built on a foundation of recognition, rights, respect, cooperation and partnership based on the spirit of reconciliation. [...]

"There is still a gender pay gap in Canada. Recent statistics suggest that women still earn 30 percent less than men. Participation on corporate boards and in our Parliament should also be increased. We must continue to strive toward gender-sensitive policy and improvement in equity in access.

"The government itself must lead by example. That is why the Trudeau cabinet has achieved parity, with 50 percent of ministers being female.

"So Canada recognizes that it has more work to do. Each country should do the same."

Voila! The government has now come clean about what it considers to be Canada's problems and promises that it is very sincere in wishing to adopt policies which will solve them. Others should be as sincere and well-intentioned as Canada, Dion says.

About the serious failures to uphold rights outlined in the periodic review of Canada's compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Dion said, "Last week Canada appeared before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In-depth questions were posed on critical concerns in Canada, including poverty, homelessness, gender equality, Indigenous rights and education, among other areas.

"We firmly believe that governments must be open to criticism. We must be willing to listen when concerns are expressed."

When it comes to the demand of the times to affirm people's rights, the Liberals say they are "willing to listen." They distinguish themselves from the Harper government which did not listen to any of the organizations which advocated for the rights of the people. However, being willing to listen and taking action to make sure injustices are righted are two different things. Canadians want action and this will be the true test of what the Liberals are made of.

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Yet Another Fraudulent Conception of
Human Rights to Be Championed by Yet Another Fraudulent Human Rights Centre

On February 5, Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion met with former federal Liberal Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler to be briefed on Cotler's announcement that he will now focus on his new organization, the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR). It is not clear if the Centre will receive government support and funding but it is clear that it will champion human rights on a selective self-serving basis. This is not surprising given its inspiration is Raoul Wallenberg, who was an agent of the American secret services during World War II sent into Hungary to do deals with the Nazis in return for the release of some Jews selected to go to Israel to contribute to the Zionist project in Palestine.

In fact, all the causes it plans to take up might well come from a list prepared by the U.S. State Department: unqualified support for Israeli state terrorism, including labelling opposition to Israeli war crimes as "anti-semitism;" opposition to the sovereign right of Iran to have its own nuclear program; and support for anyone who has been imprisoned for subversion in any country which refuses to knuckle under to U.S. dictate. These are not human rights issues but part of the U.S. imperialist agenda of world domination.

Stamp issued by Canada Post,
January 17, 2013.

For their own nefarious purposes, the imperialists have elevated Wallenberg to hero status on the stated basis that he opposed the Nazi murders of Jews in Hungary and was said to have been kidnapped and disappeared by the Soviets after the war. What is not said is that Wallenberg was a member of Sweden's richest family which conducted lucrative business with the Nazis throughout the war.

For example, Wallenberg-owned SKF Bearing supplied the Nazi military machine with critically essential ball bearings without which the Occupation of Europe could not have taken place. Not surprisingly, Raoul Wallenberg's main strategy was to make deals with Nazi officials. He was not risking his life to defeat the Nazis, as the resistance fighters and communists were doing; he was engaged in bribery and wheeling and dealing with the ruling circles to further his family's own self-serving interests. This in itself aims to denigrate and discourage the organization of actual resistance to dictatorial power.

Wallenberg was sent to Hungary just ten months before the end of the Second World War, not by his own country, but by the U.S. intelligence agency, the OSS (now the CIA). He arrived with only a few months remaining in the war and after 80 per cent of Hungarian Jews had been deported and murdered. He also arrived long after many others, such as Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz, had already saved far more Jews from deportation to the concentration camps than Wallenberg ever did. These facts suggest that Wallenberg's real mission had much more to do with implementing the post-war agendas of foreign governments and their intelligence agencies than with upholding humanitarian ideals and human rights. In fact, it is clear now that his mission was mainly to do with preserving the Hungarian elite so as to create conditions for a pro-U.S., pro-British Hungary after the war.

According to statements by Cotler in 2015, Wallenberg embodied "Responsibility to Protect." Wallenberg shows "the power of an individual to confront evil and transform history," Cotler says. That is, there is no role for the collective work of the working class and its communist leadership, which is portrayed as another "totalitarianism."

Just as Wallenberg was sent to Hungary in support of the agenda of the U.S. to limit the influence of the anti-fascist united front and communism, today Wallenberg is promoted to push a Cold War definition of rights, oppose the right to conscience and promote causes which favour the geopolitical interests of imperialist powers. Since the end of the bipolar division of the world Canada has joined the U.S. imperialists in a campaign which criminalizes those who do not accept the Anglo-American values that they consider to be the basis of civilization and has worked to block the striving of the world's peoples to realize their social, economic and cultural rights.

Left: MacKenzie-Papineau Brigade; Right; Dr. Norman Bethune beside blood transfusion
truck in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

All this notwithstanding, monuments and statues have been erected to Raoul Wallenberg in the U.S., Israel and Austria. January 17 was declared Raoul Wallenberg Day in Canada in 2001 and he was made an honorary citizen in 1985 by Ministerial Decree without Canadians ever being informed of what he really did and stood for.

This glorification of such a shady character as Wallenberg is a serious matter. It does not serve to unite the people or provide a shining example for them to emulate. There were hundreds of thousands, even millions of people who fought bravely in the anti-fascist resistance, including, of course, many Canadians. Why doesn't Canada have a day or a human rights centre honouring real anti-fascist heroes like the members of the Mackenzie-Papineau Brigade who fought fascism in Spain? In fact, such heroes are not even included in official Remembrance Day ceremonies. Or why are there not a day and a human rights centre honouring world-renowned doctor Norman Bethune? The choice of heroes for Canadians to honour reflects the character of its ruling circles and must be taken far more seriously.


1. For more information about Raoul Wallenberg, see "Why Does Canada Celebrate Raoul Wallenberg Day?" by Pauline Easton and Dougal MacDonald, TML Weekly, February 7, 2015 - No. 6.

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Photo Review

International Women's Day 2016

March 8, International Women's Day was marked with celebrations, rallies and activities throughout Canada and the world.

The themes taken up by events in Canada and internationally show that women are at the forefront of raising the demands of the people and bringing their concerns to light. These included ending violence against women, demands for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the need to humanize the social and natural environment, the defence of the rights of immigrants and refugees, opposition to racism and Islamophobia, opposition to human trafficking and abuse of migrant workers, demands for a $15 an hour minimum wage, the need for modern child care, and support for the Palestinian people and peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean who are resisting U.S. imperialism.

Women workers stood militantly at the head of actions across Canada, raising their flags and slogans affirming that their leadership is essential to the defence and emancipation of the whole working class. Women workers in health care, education and social services and other public sector workers, postal workers, women in the building trades, retail sales, manufacturing, and the arts as well as migrant workers in various sectors forcefully demonstrated their leading role.

March 8 events in Ottawa and contingents at marches in other cities also demanded justice for assassinated Honduran leader Berta Cáceres, who was killed on March 3. This included a demonstration at the Honduran Embassy in Ottawa and a vigil later that night where participants spoke to Berta Cáceres' mother, Berta Flores, by phone from Honduras.










United States

New Haven, U.S.

Los Angeles, U.S.

New York, U.S.

Latin America

Ciego de Avila, Cuba

Nezahualcóyotl, Mexico

San Salvador, El Salvador

Managua, Nicaragua

Caracas, Venezuela

Lima, Peru

Asunción, Paraguay

Buenos Aires, Argentina


Brussels, Belguim

Madrid, Spain

Lisbon, Portugal

Athens, Greece


West Bank, Palestine

Rourkelal, India

Kathmandu, Nepal

Manila, Philippines

Beijing, China

Pyongyang, Korea

Seoul, Korea

Hanoi, Vietnam

Tokyo, Japan


Johannesburg, South Africa

(Photos: TMLW, Femmes Contre Oleoducs, VCSC, Chris G., Fight Back News, Friends of the Earth, A. Aldabi, Cuba Debate, El Sal Presidency, El 19 Digital, Bloque de Patria, R. Mora, O. Zayas, Xinhua, CSC, A. Lujan, CGTP, 902 Portal 01, Active Stills, RMS, Rodon Sinmun, Hankyoreh, VoV, Japan Press Weekly, COSATU.)

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U.S. President Barack Obama's Visit to Cuba

Granma Editorial, March 9

Reopening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC, July 20, 2015.

The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, will make an official visit to Cuba this coming March 20-22.

This will be the second time a U.S. President comes to our archipelago. The first was Calvin Coolidge, who landed in Havana in January of 1928. He arrived aboard a warship to attend the 6th Pan American Conference, which was held at that time under the sponsorship of an infamous local figure, Gerardo Machado.

This will be the first time a President of the United States comes to a Cuba in full possession of her sovereignty and with a Revolution in power, headed by its historic leadership.

This event is part of the process initiated December 17, 2014, when the President of Cuba's Councils of State and Ministers, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, and President Barack Obama simultaneously announced the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations, broken by the United States almost 54 years ago. It is part of the complex process of normalization of bilateral ties, which has barely begun, and has advanced on the only grounds that are possible and just: respect, equality, reciprocity, and the recognition of our government's legitimacy.

This point has been reached, in the very first place, as a result of the Cuban people's heroic resistance and loyalty to principles, the defence of national independence and sovereignty. Such values, which have not been negotiable for 50 years, led the United States government to admit the severe damage the blockade has caused our population, and recognize the failure of the openly hostile policy toward the Revolution. Not with force, economic coercion, or isolation were they able to impose conditions on Cuba which were contrary to our aspirations, forged over almost 150 years of heroic struggle.

The current process undertaken with the United States has been possible also thanks to unwavering international solidarity, in particular from the governments and peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, who put the United States in an unsustainable position of isolation. Strongly united, "like silver in the bedrock of the Andes," as our national hero José Martí said in his essay "Our America," Latin America and the Caribbean demanded a change in policy toward Cuba. This regional demand was made unequivocally clear at the Summits of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2009, and in Cartagena, Colombia, in 2012, when all countries of the region unanimously and categorically demanded the lifting of the blockade, and our country's participation in the 7th hemispheric meeting in Panama, in 2015, which a Cuban delegation, led by Raúl, attended, for the first time.

Since the announcements of December 2014, Cuba and the United States have taken steps toward improving the bilateral context.

On July 20, 2015, diplomatic relations were officially reestablished, along with the commitment to develop them on the basis of respect, cooperation, and observance of the principles of international law.

Two meetings between the Presidents of the countries have taken place, in addition to the exchange of visits by ministers and other contacts between high ranking officials. Cooperation in various areas of mutual benefit are advancing, and new opportunities for discussion have opened up, allowing for dialogue on issues of bilateral and multi-lateral interest, including those about which we have different conceptions.

The U.S. President will be welcomed by the government of Cuba and its people with the hospitality which distinguishes us, and will be treated with all consideration and respect, as befits a head of state.

This will be an opportunity for the President to directly observe a nation immersed in its economic and social development, and in improving its citizens' wellbeing. This people enjoys rights, and can exhibit achievements which are only dreams for many of the world's countries, despite the limitations derived from our condition as an underdeveloped, blockaded country -- which has earned us international recognition and respect.

Figures of international renown such as Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill described this island, in their joint statement released in Havana in February, as "a symbol of hope of the New World." French President François Hollande recently affirmed, "Cuba is respected and heard throughout Latin America," and praised the country's capacity for resistance in the face of the most difficult tests. South African leader Nelson Mandela always had words of profound gratitude for Cuba. In Matanzas, on July 26, 1991, he said, "Those of us in Africa are accustomed to being victims of other countries who want to seize our territory or subvert our sovereignty. In the history of Africa, there is no other example of a people (like the Cubans) who have come to the defense of one of us."

Obama will find himself in a country which actively contributes to regional and world peace and stability, and which shares with other peoples not what we have left over, but the modest resources we possess, making solidarity an essential element of our identity, and humanity's wellbeing -- one of the fundamental objectives of our international policy, as Martí imparted to us.

He will also have the opportunity to meet a noble, friendly, dignified people with an elevated sense of patriotism and national unity, who have always struggled for a better future, despite the adversities we have been obliged to face.

The President of the United States will be received by a revolutionary people with a deeply-rooted political culture, which is the result of a long tradition of struggle for its true, definitive independence, first against Spanish colonialism and later against imperialist domination by the United States -- a struggle in which our best sons and daughters have shed their blood and faced all manner of risks. A people who will never renounce the defense of their principles and the vast work of the Revolution, following without vacillation the examples of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, José Martí, Antonio Maceo, Julio Antonio Mella, Rubén Martínez Villena, Antonio Guiteras and Ernesto Che Guevara, among many others.

This is also a people united by historical, cultural and affective ties with that of the United States, whose emblematic figure, the writer Ernest Hemingway, received the Nobel Prize for literature for a novel set in Cuba. A people which shows its gratitude to those from the United States who, like Thomas Jordan[1], Henry Reeve, Winchester Osgood[2] and Frederick Funston[3], fought with the Liberation Army in our wars of independence against Spain; and those who in the more recent era have opposed aggression against Cuba, like Reverend Lucius Walker who defied the blockade to bring solidarity and help to our people, and supported the return to the homeland of the boy Elián González and the Cuban Five. We learned from Martí to admire the homeland of Lincoln and repudiate Cutting[4].

Worth recalling are the words of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, on September 11, 2001, when he affirmed, "Today is a day of tragedy for the United States. You know very well that hate for the U.S. people has never been sowed here. Perhaps, precisely because of its culture, and lack of complexes, feeling fully free, with a homeland and no master, Cuba is the country where U.S. citizens are treated with more respect. We have never preached any kind of national hate, or things that seem fanatical, that is why we are so strong, because we base our conduct on principles, on ideas, and treat every U.S. citizen who visits us with great respect -- and they perceive this."

This is the people who will receive President Obama, proud of their history, their roots, their national culture, and confident that a better future is possible. A nation that assumes with serenity and determination the current stage of relations with the United States, that recognizes the opportunities, as well as the unresolved problems between the two countries.

The President of the United States' visit will be an important step in the process of normalization of bilateral relations. It must be remembered that Obama, as James Carter did previously, has decided to work toward normalization of ties with Cuba making use of his executive powers, and has consequently taken concrete action in this direction.

Nevertheless, a long, difficult road lies ahead to reach normalization, which will require the solution of key issues which have accumulated over more than five decades, and entrenched the confrontational character of relations between the two countries. Such problems are not resolved overnight, or with a Presidential visit.

To normalize relations with the United States, it is imperative that the economic, commercial, financial blockade -- which causes the Cuban people hardship, and is the principal obstacle to our country's development -- be lifted.

Worthy of recognition are President Obama's reiterated position that the blockade must be eliminated and his call on Congress to lift it. This is also a demand supported by a growing majority of the U.S. public, and almost unanimously by the international community, which on 24 occasions, in the United Nations General Assembly, has approved the Cuban resolution "The necessity of putting an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America on Cuba."

The U.S. President has taken steps to modify the implementation of some aspects of the blockade, which is positive. High-ranking officials of his administration have said that others are being studied. Nevertheless, it has not been possible to implement a good portion of these measures given their limited reach, and because of the continuing existence of other regulations, and the intimidating effect of the blockade as a whole, which has been strictly enforced for 50 years.

It is contradictory that, on the one hand, the government adopts these measures, and on the other, intensifies sanctions against Cuba which affect the daily life of our people.

Reality continues to show that the blockade is being maintained, and is rigorously enforced, with a notable extra-territorial reach, which has a chilling effect on companies and banks in the United States and other countries.

Exemplifying this are the multi-million dollar fines which continue to be levied on U.S. companies and banking institutions, and those of other nationalities, for having relations with Cuba; the denial of services and the blocking of financial operations of international banks with our country; and the freezing of legitimate transfers of funds to and from Cuba, including those in currencies other than the U.S. dollar.

The Cuban people hope that the U.S. President's visit will serve to consolidate his will to be actively involved in a thorough debate in Congress for the lifting of the blockade, and, in the meantime, that he continues to use his executive prerogatives to modify as much as possible its application, without the need for legislative action.

Other issues which are damaging Cuban sovereignty must also be resolved in order to achieve normal relations between the two countries. Territory occupied by the U.S. Naval base in Guantánamo, against the will of our government and people, must be returned to Cuba, to respect the unanimous wish of Cubans, expressed for more than 100 years. Interventionist programs, intended to provoke destabilizing situations and changes in our country's political, economic, social order, must be eliminated. The "regime change" policy must be definitively interred.

At the same time, the pretension of fabricating a domestic political opposition, supported by money from U.S. contributors, must be abandoned. An end must be put to aggressive radio and television broadcasts directed toward Cuba in open violation of international law, and the illegitimate use of telecommunications for political purposes, recognizing that the goal is not to exercise a given influence on Cuban society, but to put technology at the service of development and knowledge.

The preferential migratory treatment our citizens receive, in accordance with the Cuban Adjustment Act and the "wet foot-dry foot" policy, causes the loss of human life, and encourages illegal emigration and trafficking in persons, in addition to generating problems for third countries. This situation must be changed, as must be canceled the "parole" program for Cuban medical professionals which deprives the country of human resources vital to the health of our people, and affects the intended beneficiaries of Cuban cooperation with nations which need our support. Likewise, policies which require Cuban athletes to break ties with their country, in order to play in U.S. leagues, must change.

These policies of the past are incongruent with the new stage which the United States government has initiated with our country. They were all established prior to the administration of President Obama, but he can modify some of them with executive decisions, and eliminate others entirely.

Cuba has assumed the construction of a new relationship with the United States, fully exercising its sovereignty and committed to its ideals of social justice and solidarity. No one can presume that to do so we must renounce a single one of our principles, concede an inch in their defense, or abandon what is declared in our Constitution: "Economic, diplomatic relations with any other state can never be negotiated under aggression, threats, or coercion by a foreign power."

Not even the slightest doubt can be harbored with respect to Cuba's unconditional commitment to its revolutionary and anti-imperialist ideals, and its foreign policy in favor of the world's just causes, the defense of peoples' self-determination, and traditional support to our sister countries.

As was expressed in the latest Revolutionary Government Declaration, our solidarity is, and will be, immutable, with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the government led by President Nicolás Maduro, and the Bolivarian, Chavista people, which are struggling to find their own path, and confront systematic destabilization attempts and unilateral sanctions established by an unfounded, unjust U.S. Executive Order, in March of 2015, which was condemned throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The announcement made this past March 3, extending the so-called "National Emergency" and the sanctions, is an unacceptable, direct intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela and its sovereignty. The Order must be abolished, and this will be a firm, ongoing demand by Cuba.

As Army General Raúl Castro said, "We will not renounce our ideals of independence and social justice, or surrender even a single one of our principles, or concede a millimeter in the defense of our national sovereignty.

"We will not allow ourselves to be pressured in regards to our internal affairs. We have won this sovereign right with great sacrifices and at the cost of great risks."

We reiterate one more time, we have reached this point as a result of our convictions, and because we have reason and justice on our side.

Cuba reaffirms its will to advance in relations with the United States, on the basis of respect for the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and the principles of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by the region's heads of state and government, which include absolute respect for independence, sovereignty, and the inalienable right of every state to choose its own political, economic, social and cultural system without interference of any kind; in addition to equality, and reciprocity.

Cuba reiterates its full disposition to maintain respectful dialogue with the government of the United States, and develop relations of civilized coexistence.

Coexisting does not mean being obliged to renounce the ideas in which we believe and have brought us thus far, or our socialism, our history, our culture.

The profound conceptual differences between Cuba and the United States on political models, social justice, international relations, world peace and stability, among others, will persist.

Cuba defends the indivisibility, interdependence and universality of civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights. We are convinced that it is an obligation of governments to defend and guarantee the right to health, education, social security, equal pay for equal work, the rights of children, as well as the right to food and development. We reject the political manipulation and double standards relating to human rights, which must end. Cuba, which has signed 44 international instruments on this subject, while the United States has only committed to 18, has much to share, to defend, and show.

What our ties with the United States should accomplish is that the two countries respect their differences, and create a relationship which is beneficial for both peoples.

Regardless of the progress which can be achieved in ties with the United States, the Cuban people will continue to move forward. With our own efforts and proven capacity and creativity, we will continue to work for the country's development and the wellbeing of Cubans. We will not desist in the demand that the blockade, which has caused and causes so much harm, be lifted. We will persevere in the process of updating the socio-economic model we have chosen, and the construction of a prosperous, sustainable socialism to consolidate the gains to the Revolution.

A path sovereignly chosen, which will surely be reaffirmed by the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, with Fidel and Raúl victorious.

This is the Cuba which will respectfully welcome President Obama.


1. Major General, head of the Liberation Army's General Staff (1869).

2. Comandante. Killed in combat during the siege of Guáimaro, October 28, 1896.

3. Artillery Colonel, under the command of Calixto García.

4. A figure who in 1886 promoted hate and aggression against Mexico.

(Photos: Granma, TML)

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Amnesty Bill in Venezuela's National Assembly

Right Wing Confesses to 17 Years of
Political Delinquency

Venezuelans in action to oppose the resurgence of reactionary forces at the opening of the National Assembly, January 4, 2016. (TeleSUR)


"A confesion de parte, relevo de prueba."
(Spanish legal expression: "When there is confession, no evidence is required.")

Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes could not imagine how correct he was when he said that the challenge a Latin American writer faced was to produce fiction that was more extraordinary than reality itself.

Venezuela's Right Wing Opposition has just managed to perform an event that surpasses Gabriel Garcia Marquez's magic realism: On 18th February 2016, making use of their majority in the National Assembly, they have passed an Amnesty Bill that seeks to provide legal impunity to acts of political delinquency they and their supporters have perpetrated for 17 years. Venezuela's Right Wing majority in the National Assembly's 'amnesty' bill is not only an admission of guilt for, but also a well-organised catalogue of, the political offences they and their supporters have perpetrated since 1999.

The Bill is upfront about what it seeks to amnesty: "acts defined as crimes, misdemeanours or infringements [...] and other acts provided for herein." (Art. 1) This Bill is the Opposition's colossal Freudian slip since with it they, unwittingly, have admitted their guilt of more than a decade and a half of illegal, violent and undemocratic political felonies.

The Amnesty Bill is not yet law, since it needs to go through several constitutional procedures, including being vetoed by President Nicolás Maduro, who has condemned the Bill in the strongest terms. In the highly likely event of President Maduro vetoing it, the Bill will then be referred to the Supreme Court (TSJ) to get it to issue a ruling on its constitutionality. The TSJ can declare the Bill unconstitutional regardless of the size of the Right Wing majority in the National Assembly (for details of what the Opposition majority in the National Assembly can and cannot do read my article in the Huffington Post, "Right Wing Majority in Venezuela's National Assembly: The Constitutional and Political Stakes").

The Amnesty Bill's Objectives and Scope

The Right Wing Opposition's Amnesty and National Reconciliation Bill (Proyecto de Ley de Amnistía y Reconciliación Nacional, in Spanish) makes its stipulations retroactive to 1st January 1999, and in 45 articles, covers all manner of felonies and crimes committed up to the moment it becomes law (which, in the unlikely event of being approved, might be this year, 2016) when it would be officially promulgated in the country's National Gazette (Art. 2, p. 6). As we shall see below, the political felonies and crimes it covers are comprehensive since the bill's scope ranges from misdemeanour at a public rally to terrorist acts involving explosives and firearms. The choice of period gives the game away since it includes ALL the illegal, criminal and law-breaking political acts perpetrated since 1999 by Opposition leaders and their supporters throughout the governments of both Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro.

The list of felonies to be amnestied is as long as the acts they have perpetrated, and it correlates neatly with the Right Wing Opposition's efforts to illegally overthrow the democratically-elected, constitutional and legitimate government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. They include criminal acts perpetrated during golpista events such as the April 2002 coup d'état; the oil lock-out in 2002-3; the street barricades and street violence (known in Venezuela as guarimbas) that accompanied their 2004 recall referendum campaign against President Chávez; the collusion with Colombian paramilitaries to assault the country's presidential palace and assassinate the president; various other coup d'état attempts (in 2008, 2009 and 2010); the use of guarimbas and hoarding of basic consumption necessities, including food items, during the 2007 constitutional referendum; all false reporting; all activities associated with the economic war; the wanton violence, destruction and loss of life of the guarimbas of April 2013 and February-July 2014 associated with the defeat of Henrique Capriles as presidential candidate and La Salida ("The Ousting") respectively. La Salida was a political campaign led by Leopoldo López, explicitly waged to oust the democratically-elected government (see López's confirmation of this in his own words in Spanish). Plus all acts of violence, including terrorist acts carried out for illegal and unconstitutional political aims.

In its Art. 4, the Bill confirms the above with breath-taking eloquence:

Amnesty shall be granted to acts regarded as crimes or misdemeanours when such acts have been or might have been committed for participating, organizing or calling demonstrations, protests, or meetings for political purposes, expressing ideas or spreading information for political motives, or making or promoting actions, proclamations, political agreements or statements deemed to be aimed at changing the constitutional order or the official government, whether or not accompanied by conspiracy actions. In such cases, amnesty shall be granted to the following criminal acts:

a. Incitement to disobey the law, incitement to hatred and the condoning of crime;
b. Incitement to crime;
c. Assault and battery;
d. Violence or resistance to authority, and disobedience to authority;
e. Causing panic in the community or keeping it under distress by the dissemination of false information;
f. Conspiracy;
g. Obstruction of public roads with the aim to set up fire and other attacks against passing vehicles;
h. Damaging transportation systems as well as public IT and communication;
i. Destruction or damaging of roads and related infrastructure for public communication;
j. Property damage;
k. Conspiracy and terrorism;
l. Importation, manufacture, possession, supply or concealment of explosives or incendiary devices;
m. Disturbance of public peace;
n. Insulting a civil servant, in its various forms;
o. Use of minors to commit crimes;
p. Arson and other crimes involving danger for the public in general, in various forms;
q. Treason and other crimes against the Nation;
r. Rebellion and other related offences;
s. Mutiny, civil rebellion, treason, military rebellion, incitement to military rebellion, uprising, false alarm, attack and insult to the sentry, disclosure of military secrets, offense to military decorum, misuse of badges, medals and military ranks, and theft of items belonging to the Armed Forces;
t. Denial of legally due services;
u. Concealment;
v. Illegal possession and misuse of firearms, and the felony of illegal possession of firearms, illegal possession of a firearm and possession of firearms in public places;
w. Damage to facilities of the National Electric System; and
x. Other related offences or those that appear closely related to any of the above. (Art. 4, pp. 9-10)

The offences included in the above list are specifically identified as felonies in Venezuela's Penal Code in Arts. 128, 129, 132, 134, 140, 141, 143, 163, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 223, 224, 238, 254, 255, 256, 257, 272, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 281, 285, 283, 286, 287, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 296, 296-A, 297, 343, 346, 347, 349, 350, 351, 352, 353, 354, 356, 357, 360, 362, 413, 414, 415, 483, 473, 474, 479, and 506.

Additionally, the 'amnesty' includes offences under: Art. 37 of the Law Against Organized Crime and Financing of Terrorism; Art. 264 on offences against the Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents; Arts.111, 112 and 113 of the Disarmament and Arms and Ammunitions Law dealing with offences regarding the illicit and illegal use and bearing of firearms; Art. 107 of the Law of the Electricity Service identifying deliberate damages to the electricity service; and Arts. 412, 464, 476, 481, 486, 497, 500, 501, 502, 550, 565, 566 and 570 of the Military Justice Code that deals with offences such as military rebellion and instigation to military rebellion.

The above amount to the violation of a staggering total of 82 articles of the Penal Code and other Laws, most of which have to do with political violence. For good measure, and taking advantage of their 'super majority', the Right Wing MPs have also included articles of the Penal Code that deal with offences of corruption in the Law Against Corruption (see Arts. 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 of the 'amnesty' Bill).

Street violence instigated by reactionary right-wing opposition forces in 2014.

This comprehensive crimes list, if approved as law, would leave off the hook the whole of the leadership of the Right Wing Opposition (with no exception) that has been centrally involved in 17 years of destabilization; all the Opposition's operatives and shock groups that have carried out vandalistic acts and caused dozens of deaths and grave injuries to hundreds of people during the guarimbas; all activities associated with the training, arming and military training of armed groups, and with acts associated with attacks with weapons, explosives, firearms; and destruction of public and private property.

It gets better. The Amnesty Bill also includes acts

• reported as defamation or libel, committed by any citizen, political leader, journalist, media managers or editors, editorial boards or any other person, including images, messages through social media (Arts. 8 and 9);

contrary to the established peace and general order, which occurred between April 11th and 14th, 2002 (Art. 10);

contrary to the established peace committed in the framework of the nationwide strike and oil strike, declared and implemented from the last months of 2002 until early 2003. (Art. 11);

related to statements by political leaders on January 23rd, 2014 and subsequent days, through the media and the social networks, in the framework of the proposal called La Salida ("The Ousting" Art. 12);

related to the "National Agreement for Transition" signed by Opposition political leaders on February 11th, 2015 and to the public call to sign or support such agreement. (Art. 13);

of "contempt of court regarding laws on injunctions or protections under constitutional remedies..." (Art. 14);

"deemed individual terrorism as described in Article 52 of the Organic Law Against Organized Crime and Terrorism Financing, committed in 2014 and related to the plans that facilitated the absconding of persons who had been deprived of freedom due to the events mentioned herein, provided that such acts have not damaged the life and physical integrity of people [...]";

regarded as crimes in accordance with Article 52 of the Organic Law Against Organized Crime and Terrorism Financing in the case of allegedly punishable acts committed during protests or demonstrations in 2014, provided that such acts have not damaged the life or physical integrity of people (Art. 15).

Art. 7 of the Amnesty Bill (pp. 12-14) lists the political events during which all the offences to be amnestied were perpetrated: 2002 (failed coup d'état); 2003 (oil lock-out); 2004 (recall referendum); 2006 (presidential election); 2007 (constitutional referendum); 2009 (Right Wing Caracas Mayor, Antonio Ledezma, arbitrarily sacking hundreds of Town Hall workers); 2009 (August, demonstration against the government's Law of Education); 2011 (violent demonstrations in the state of Barinas); 2013 (April, nationwide violent street protests following Opposition's presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles' electoral defeat, leading to the death of 13 people, two of them children); and 2014 (February to July guarimbas unleashed by Leopoldo López aimed at the ousting -- La Salida -- of the democratically elected and legitimate government of President Nicolás Maduro, in which 43 people (see details about the victims and how they died) lost their lives; there were over US$15 billion in destruction of private and public property, including the setting on fire to 15 universities, and over 800 people seriously injured). About La Salida, Art. 7 contains a list of 23 events during which opposition supporters went on the rampage, acts to be amnestied.

The plot thickens even further with the inclusion in the Amnesty Bill of offences such as drug trafficking, kidnapping, embezzlement (Art. 16 and Art. 30), corruption, hoarding, black market speculation, economic boycott, fraudulent product adulteration, selling of items off expire day (Art. 19), financing of terrorism, illicit enrichment (Art. 20), fraud and usury in the selling and construction of private housing, and non-payment of taxes (Art. 35).

In short, not only there is provision in the Bill for every offence committed by their supporters mainly as a result of violent and destabilizing political activities, but the amnesty is extended to include all manner of economic crimes committed by bankers, entrepreneurs, and financiers most of whom have avoided Venezuela's justice system by absconding to Miami, Peru, Panama, etc., claiming to be 'political refugees'.

The Amnesty Bill: A Manual for Golpismo and Impunity

Due to media bias, most people probably believe that the Bolivarian government is animated by an intolerant and sectarian attitude whose authoritarianism inclines it to just punish opponents. This is not correct. On more than one occasion Hugo Chávez issued various amnesties to individuals involved in seditious and illegal actions against his government. Due to media misinformation they also probably think that the Amnesty Bill is actually very popular. It is not: a Hinterlaces poll conducted between 19th and 24th of February 2016 showed that only 9% thought it was a priority to pass an amnesty law.

Likewise, most people probably believe that the supposed intolerant and authoritarian nature of the Bolivarian government is the chief reason for the intense polarization that besets this South American nation. In fact, both Presidents Chávez and Maduro have called upon the Right Wing Opposition on numerous occasions to engage in constructive dialogue. Furthermore, the Venezuelan government has promoted and got support for constructive dialogue with the Opposition through many regional bodies such as MERCOSUR (Common Market of the South), UNASUR (Union of South American Nations), ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), and CELAC (Commonwealth of Latin American and Caribbean States), just to mention the most important ones.

Upon the announcement by the majority Right Wing in the National Assembly of their intention to pass the Amnesty Bill, Chavista MPs proposed instead the setting up of an all-party Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine in detail case by case the whole of the 17 years the Bill seeks to cover. The Commission would, on a consensual basis and after serious and rigorous police, forensic and judicial investigations, determine which case merits a presidential pardon, amnesty or punishment. Chavista MPs stated in unequivocal terms that the Commission would also examine all individuals, members of the security forces and law enforcement officers who may have perpetrated violent crimes, especially those involving the violation of human rights. In no section of the Amnesty Bill is there any manifestation of contrition for the so many acts of political violence carried out, not a single phrase of apology addressed to the victims.

The out of hand rejection of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and their doggedly pressing on with the Amnesty Bill, confirms that the Right Wing majority in the National Assembly have no real interest in Reconciliation, even less in the Truth, thus squandering a golden opportunity to genuinely bring about conditions for national reconciliation. They preferred to opt for their proposed Amnesty Bill, thus revealing their real aim is not peace but impunity, which, if successful, will encourage more "misdemeanours, offences, infringements, and crimes" in future years. Thus, Venezuela's most prominent constitutional lawyer, Hermann Escarrá is absolutely right in pointing out that the Amnesty Bill will generate more violence in the country.

It is difficult not to draw the conclusion that instead the Right Wing are keener to use their 'super majority' to get away with murder.

The Amnesty Bill is unconstitutional since it contravenes a rather large number of the 1999 Constitution's principles and articles but more importantly, it massively undermines an essential principle of any democracy: the rule of law (estado de derecho in Spanish). Worse still, the Bill includes offences committed by many of the very MPs who are sponsoring and have voted for it. One can go through the list of offences included in the Bill article by article and put the name of prominent Opposition members to many of the specific crimes and violent political events described in the Bill. Thus, for example, Art. 7 of the Amnesty Bill, includes "university protests and demonstrations, which took place in Merida state, in May 2006", events during which Nixon Moreno, a high ranking member of the Opposition, was charged with attempted rape against a female officer of the National Guard. Moreno fled to Peru as a "political exile" and there is an Interpol warrant of arrest against him.

Furthermore, it is well-known that substantial sections of the Opposition coalition adhere to extreme right wing views and have repeatedly shown their willingness to resort to all manner of political violence. In this regard for 17 years the government has denounced sections of the Opposition for their collaboration and utilization of Colombian paramilitaries in Venezuela territory.

In fact, the youngest MP of the National Assembly, Robert Serra (27) and his assistant were assassinated by three Colombian paramilitaries who are now in prison after being extradited by Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos at the request of Venezuela's law enforcement authorities. Both Serra and his assistant were stabbed to death in their own house and the paramilitaries declared they used such a brutal form of killing because its silent manner would not alert the neighbours.

Additionally, there are the gory events leading to the dismemberment of the body of Liana Aixa Argueta by two individuals linked to Venezuela's extreme right wing political parties, who confessed to have received military training in clandestine camps in Venezuela and Colombia by opposition retired general Antonio Rivero (see details in Miami Diario).

To all of the above, it must be added that several of the 43 people who died during the La Salida guarimbas (February to July 2014) did so from shots in the head fired by professional marksmen. These deaths were the handy work of highly trained professionals.

Additionally, the Amnesty Bill contravenes many international protocols and conventions on human, social and political rights to which Venezuela is signatory. Hermann Escarrá pointed out that the Amnesty Bill contravenes, among many others, the Inter American Bill of Human Rights, international protocols of civil and political rights, on rights of the child and so forth.

In conclusion, the Amnesty Bill is not at all a mechanism for reconciliation as claimed by the Bill (pp. 1-7) but it is actually an impunity law for political crimes against the nation, the constitution, the country's stability, its laws, its people, its institutions, its government, its installations, its military institutions, its civil servants, its infrastructure and much more. The Bill is actually a Manual for Golpismo and Impunity, but above all, an admission of guilt of 17 years of political delinquency.

Dr Francisco Dominguez is Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University, where he is Head of the Latin American Studies Research Group.

(Huffington Post, March 9, 2016. Slightly edited for grammar by TML.)

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UN Security Council Resolution
Against Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Unjust Sanctions Must Be Withdrawn!

Anti-war picket outside the south Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, February 26, 2016. (SPARK)

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) condemns UN Security Council Resolution 2270 which imposes further economic and political sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), and demands its immediate withdrawal. The resolution was passed on March 2 and was co-sponsored by Canada and other nations. It is aimed at crippling the economy of the DPRK, destabilizing that sovereign country and forcing it to submit to U.S. and other big power dictate.

CPC(M-L) calls on all peace- and justice-loving people in Canada to give serious consideration to how such a resolution can have anything but negative consequences -- for the people of the DPRK who aspire to live in peace, free from foreign interference; for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in East Asia; or for the world's people, including the Canadian people. The role of the UN Security Council is supposedly to ensure peace, but this resolution is an act of aggression against the DPRK and further proof that the UN is mired in crisis under the dictate of the big powers, and the mechanisms through which the principles of the equality, sovereignty and independence of all nations and peoples are realized urgently require renewal.

The justification for the resolution was engineered by the U.S., as has been the case with all previous UN Security Council resolutions against the DPRK -- Resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013) and 2094 (2013). Resolution 2270 is aimed at punishing the DPRK for successfully conducting an underground nuclear test in January and also for its successful launch of the Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite on February 7, which was deliberately misconstrued as a ballistic missile launch to justify these sanctions.

The fact is that the massive stockpiles of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the arsenals of the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France -- the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- are of grave concern to the world's people. In particular, peace- and justice-loving humanity is opposed to U.S. nuclear blackmail and threats around the world. It is the country that atom-bombed the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War and possesses close to 2,000 nuclear weapons, hundreds of which are strategically placed around the world to advance U.S. imperialist dreams of world conquest. Many of these are also to be found in Korean waters, threatening the DPRK and China. It must be asked why the big powers are not held to the same standards as the DPRK -- a small country which is affirming its right to be and taking whatever measures it can to defend its independence and sovereignty? The double standards and disinformation when it comes to the DPRK and other small countries is made clear by the fact that within the last month, the U.S. has held two ballistic missile tests and Japan has launched a satellite, neither of which caused a ripple in the proceedings of the Security Council.

The disinformation about the DPRK by the monopoly media and Anglo-American imperialist spokespersons such as Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion is such that the sincere and repeated efforts by the DPRK over several decades to conclude a permanent peace treaty with the U.S. to formally end the Korean War is never mentioned in their statements. Why not? Would it not help to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula where the U.S. is still an occupying force in south Korea with over 25,000 soldiers, military bases, armaments, aircraft carriers, jets and bombers that can carry nuclear payloads, all threatening the DPRK?

From March 7 to April 30, the U.S. and south Korean militaries are holding the annual Key Resolve/Foal Eagle war games, this year's being the largest iteration to date. It will involve 15,000 U.S. troops, including special forces, twice the number as in previous years. More than 290,000 south Korean troops will also be participating. These annual war games include the massive deployment of air, sea and land operations openly aimed at overthrowing the government of the DPRK. They constitute "planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of wars of aggression" -- the "supreme international crime" under international law. Efforts by the DPRK to get the UN Security Council to intervene to end these acts of aggression against it have been ignored. Under these circumstances what is the DPRK to do except to affirm its right to be by taking all measures to defend its sovereignty and independence?

CPC(M-L) calls on the Canadian people to stand with the people of the DPRK by denouncing the Trudeau Liberals for co-sponsoring this unjust UN Security Council resolution. It is a shameful act of aggression and anti-communist hysteria that the federal government has no basis to carry out against a member nation of the UN that has not attacked Canada or the Canadian people. Far from it, it is Canada that has to make amends for intervening illegally in the Korean War (1950-53), which was a civil war between Koreans to sort out the reunification of their country. The Trudeau Liberals must reverse their hostile and aggressive stand against the DPRK and help to contribute to building peace and stability on the Korean peninsula by developing diplomatic and other relations with the DPRK, work which began in 2001 and has been subsequently sabotaged by Canada.

Withdraw UN Security Council Resolution 2270 Against the DPRK!
Withdraw all Unjust UN Security Council Resolutions Against the DPRK!
U.S. Troops Out of Korea!
U.S. Sign A Peace Treaty With the DPRK Now!

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Biggest Ever U.S.-South Korea Provocative
Military Exercises

The 2016 Key Resolve/Foal Eagle war games began in south Korea on March 7. Key Resolve will continue until March 18 while Foal Eagle will go on until April 30. The military exercises will involve a record number of more than 290,000 south Koreans and 17,000 U.S. troops simulating aggressive actions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

A senior south Korean defence official told the Korea Herald in February, "This year's operations will involve recovering key facilities that are located deep within North Korea, all the way near its northern borders." He added, "The scenario will include the special operations forces being deployed to border areas adjacent to China and Russia," and claimed that the large number of troops are required for a decisive victory so as not to escalate into a war with China and Russia.

RT notes, "The number of Korean troops involved in drills [is] 1.5 times as big as last year, and more than four times as many U.S. Marines and other forces will be involved. Although there have been more numerous joint drills by the two countries, these are the biggest war games since the current format, named Key Resolve/Foal Eagle, was adopted in 2008.

"Traditionally, the two exercises have focused on responding to an invasion, and counter-attacking -- Key Resolve mostly through computer simulations and Foal Eagle through ground drills. This year they have been supplemented by a new doctrine, called OPLAN 5015, in which the joint forces use F-22 superiority fighters, strategic bombers, nuclear-powered submarines, amphibious carriers, and other rapid means of attack to take out potential nuclear sites."

The Key Resolve/Foal Eagle war games follow a provocative joint naval exercise by the U.S. and south Korean armed forces on March 4, said to be aimed at countering "possible terrorist attacks" from the DPRK, according to south Korean news media. This war exercise was carried out two days after an aggressive regime of sanctions was imposed on the DPRK by the UN Security Council.

This war exercise and the media coverage of it are for purposes of sowing disinformation so as to isolate the DPRK, justify the sanctions and oppose peace and justice on the Korean peninsula. A March 4 Xinhua item states:

"The drill assumed a situation that DPRK naval forces hijack a South Korean passenger ferry sailing between border islands in the western waters.

"Nine patrol ships, four high-speed boats, two helicopters and three anti-terror special forces units were mobilized for the drill.

"They trained to approach the DPRK vessel to bring it under [control] and save the hijacked people.

"The exercise came amid growing concerns here about the DPRK's surprise attacks after South Korea's spy agency reported to ruling party lawmakers that top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un had recently ordered officials to muster up capability for anti-South Korea terror attacks.

"Tensions mounted on the Korean peninsula as DPRK forces fired off six short-range projectiles into eastern waters on [March 3] in an apparent show of anger over the adoption of new tougher UN Security Council resolutions on Pyongyang."

The facts show that the threat to south Korean vessels and their passengers has come not from the DPRK but from the carelessness of the south Korean navy, which accidentally sank its own ship, the Cheonan, in 2010 (then tried to blame it on the DPRK); and the callous disregard for human life of the south Korean operators of the Sewol ferry that sank in 2014 and 304 passengers died.

Moreover, the U.S. has for decades threatened the use of force and carried out all manner of espionage, biological warfare and violations of DPRK airspace and territorial waters.

Again, the utmost disinformation is spread that this exercise of the U.S. imperialist doctrine Might Makes Right, with its massive influx of U.S. troops and military hardware onto the Korean peninsula, on top of its existing occupation forces in the south, will somehow bring peace to the region.

(With files from Xinhua, RT)

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For Your Information

UN Security Council Resolution 2270

On March 2, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously passed Resolution 2270, the fifth such resolution that unjustly targets the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) because it will not submit to U.S. imperialist dictate. The UNSC reported that these were the harshest sanctions placed on any member nation in more than two decades. According to the UNSC, "The resolution is intended to levy strong new sanctions aimed at halting Pyongyang's efforts to advance its weapons of mass destruction programs." The current UN Security Council consists of permanent members China, Russia, United States, France and Britain and non-permanent members Angola, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, Ukraine, New Zealand, Senegal, Spain, Venezuela and Uruguay.

While purporting to show concern for the well-being of people of the DPRK, peace on the Korean peninsula, and diplomatic and negotiated settlements to the Korean question, the UNSC nevertheless passed this brutal and unjustifiable resolution against the DPRK. Like all previous anti-DPRK resolutions, Resolution 2270 was openly engineered by the U.S.

UNSC Resolution 2270 is wider in scope than previous anti-DPRK resolutions. Among other things, it sanctions high-handed acts by member countries that violate the sovereignty of the DPRK and the UN Charter. It calls on members states to inspect "cargo within or transiting through their territory, including airports, sea ports and free trade zones, that has originated in the DPRK or that is destined for the DPRK, or has been brokered or facilitated by the DPRK or its nationals." UN members are called upon to "deny permission for any aircraft to take off from, land at or overfly, unless under condition of landing for inspection, their territory, if they have information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that the aircraft contains items the supply, sale, transfer or export of which is prohibited" by previous resolutions.

Resolution 2270 also compels members states to expel "Pyongyang's diplomats, governmental representatives or nationals acting in a governmental capacity who assisted in the evasion of sanctions or the violation of related resolutions," and prohibits them sharing information or technology with DPRK nationals living in their territory that could "contribute to the DPRK's proliferation of sensitive nuclear activities or the development of nuclear-weapon delivery systems."

The resolution goes way beyond previous resolutions imposed on the DPRK to now prohibit the DPRK from exporting "coal, iron, iron ore, gold, titanium ore, vanadium ore, and rare earth minerals," based on the hoax that this will raise revenues that could be used for developing its "nuclear weapons program." Even the sale of sporting goods is targeted as if it were an illicit source of revenue. States are also prohibited from supplying or selling "aviation fuel, including aviation gasoline, naphtha-type jet fuel, kerosene-type jet fuel, and kerosene-type rocket fuel, whether or not originating in their own territory, to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea."

The resolution also expands some of the previous sanctions imposed on the DPRK including its legitimate sale of small arms and other weapons. It proposes to freeze the foreign assets of companies in the DPRK or linked to the Workers' Party of Korea that can be related to the DPRK "nuclear weapons program." A list of DPRK citizens who are living overseas such as in Iran or Syria are also being targeted for expulsion or sanctions on the basis that they are linked to the DPRK's nuclear and ballistics missiles programs.

Sanctions are also to be imposed on the DPRK's shipments of goods or ships that are registered in other countries and fly the DPRK flag.

At the end of the resolution it is stated that the sanctions "are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for the civilian population of the DPRK." It also pays lip service to "the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in north-east Asia at large, and expresses its commitment to a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation and welcomes efforts by the Council members as well as other States to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue and to refrain from any action that might aggravate tensions."

Resolution 2270 in its entirety is precisely aimed at having "adverse humanitarian consequences for the civilian population of the DPRK" and will "aggravate tensions" on the Korean peninsula. Its real aim is to undermine the DPRK and effect regime change there, as well as to justify the further militarization of the Korean peninsula.

While the monopoly media reports that the vote for the UNSC resolution was unanimous -- 15-0 -- the discussion at the UNSC itself reveals that a number of countries, undoubtedly under huge pressure by the U.S., still expressed their reservations about the resolution. The Egyptian representative Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta noted the double standards at the UNSC and the preferential treatment given Israel: "Egypt has repeatedly warned against the use of double standards with regard to challenges to the [Nuclear Proliferation] Treaty and denuclearization. One State in the Middle East remains outside of the Treaty. The members of the Security Council are well aware of the abysmal failure of the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to produce an outcome document, due to the double standards applied by certain influential international parties. Neither Egypt nor the States of the Middle East will ever accept this state of affairs."

The Malaysian delegate Ramlan Bin Ibrahim stated that he would have "preferred ample time to consider the text so as to avoid being presented with a fait accompli," which sheds light on how this resolution was passed.

Elbo Rosselli, the representative of Uruguay pointed out that the sanctions must not have a negative impact on the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the DPRK, a sentiment that was echoed by the representatives of Senegal, Venezuela and Angola.

Both the Chinese and Russian representatives stated that what is needed is a peaceful negotiated settlement to the crisis on the Korean peninsula, and called for the return of all parties to the Six Party Talks as the means of the peaceful resolution of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The Chinese delegate Liu Jaiyi noted as well, "At this moment, all the parties concerned should avoid actions that will further aggravate the tensions on the ground. China opposes the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system on the Korean peninsula because such an action harms the strategic security interests of China and other countries of the region, goes against the goal of maintaining peace, security and stability of the peninsula and will seriously undermine the efforts of the international community to find a political solution on the question of the Korean peninsula." Liu's comments are aimed at the U.S. which is planning to install the THAAD missile defence shield in south Korea to militarily threaten China and the DPRK.

In response to the passing of UNSC Resolution 2270, the DPRK issued a statement condemning the resolution and reaffirming that it would take all measures to affirm its right to be.

(With files from the United Nations Security Council)

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