December 21, 2019 - No. 32

Matters of Serious Concern for Canadians

Canada's Integration into the U.S. Imperialist War Economy

For Your Information

Production and Sale of War Materiel

Global War Economy

Sun Never Sets on Canadian Military

- Yves Engler -

United States

Impeachment, Accountability and the Battle of Democracy

• Rights Organizations Fight to End Detentions, Deportations and Militarization of the U.S.-Mexico Border

Social Conditions Deteriorate in the United States

- Voice of Revolution -

Developments in Latin America and the Caribbean

Fifteen Years in Defence of Unity, Peace and Integration

- Declaration of the XVII Summit of ALBA-TCP
Heads of State and Government -

• Our America in the Face of the Onslaught of
Imperialism and the Oligarchies

- Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs -

30th Anniversary of U.S. Invasion of Panama

- Carlos Pérez Morales -


Resounding Defeat of the U.S. in the Organization of American States After Adoption of Caribbean Resolution

- Cubadebate -


• Bolivarian Government Rejects U.S. Law to
Deepen Aggression Against the Venezuelan People

- Statement of the Government of the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela -

New U.S. Law Sharpens Unilateral Coercive Measures

- Misión Verdad -

Supreme Court Justice Rejects Self-Declared President's
Attempt to Install a "Virtual Congress"


More than 200,000 Unidentified Bodies Found in Secret Graves

Matters of Serious Concern for Canadians

Canada's Integration into the
U.S. Imperialist War Economy

Canada's integration into the U.S. imperialist war economy is a serious matter of concern for Canadians. The U.S. war economy has tentacles into every U.S. state as well as Canada and countless other places abroad. The war economy encompasses production and sales of military goods and services to military customers domestically and internationally and all the fixed and circulating value it requires to operate such as buildings and fuel. The war economy includes thousands of military bases, airports, colleges, research centres, intelligence agencies, testing facilities and a vast army of active duty and reservist military personnel and services to veterans.

As policing has become more militarized under Homeland Security and other factors, police forces have emerged as important consumers of war materiel. A significant aspect of the war economy is propaganda generated in the general culture to promote the imperialist military and its contribution to life and the pushing of state-organized violence to defend the property and interests of the financial oligarchs and their striving for global hegemony in opposition to the peoples of the world.

The U.S. war economy exists within a relation with the aim of the U.S.-centred financial oligarchy for worldwide hegemony. U.S. imperialist theft of social wealth from the peoples of the world and its competition with other big powers feed the war economy and in turn generate increased instability, violence and war.

The war economy would shrink considerably if U.S. overseas' bases were closed and troops returned home. Such a transformation is favoured by the insistence of the people within the U.S., Canada and worldwide to demand a new direction for the economy to meet the needs of the people and develop trade on the basis of mutual benefit. This requires breaking the relation between the domestic economy and the striving of the financial oligarchy for global hegemony through active military intervention abroad against competitors or those who refuse to submit, the instigation of war and threats of war, regime change and the organizing of military Special Operations to capture markets, sources of raw material, places to invest and working people to exploit.

A new aim for the economy is necessary that replaces the current anti-social aim where a small class of rich oligarchs conspire and compete to expropriate maximum profit from the social wealth that working people produce at home and abroad.

A new pro-social aim for the economy would be in conformity with the modern socialized productive forces and have fidelity to the ensemble of human relations and what they reveal. Working people produce social wealth collectively. By vesting themselves with decision-making power, they will prohibit the exploitation of those who produce the social wealth, affirm the rights of all, humanize the social and natural environment and ensure the country is a zone for peace.

To prevail over the war economy and the financial oligarchy that profits from it means that in 2020 the peoples everywhere will continue to mobilize themselves to fulfill the aims they set for the economy and the country. By organizing themselves politically to change the direction of the economy and the political and social conditions in ways that favour them and not the rich oligarchs, headway is forthcoming.

The transition away from a war economy would not be as difficult as some suggest. The war economy essentially consumes already produced social wealth in exchange for war materiel and the human factor necessary to wage war. Imperialist war and its war materiel are instruments of destruction and oppression and do not contribute to the well-being of the people and Mother Earth. Much of the social wealth used in exchange to pay for the war economy comes from taxation, as governments are the main organizer and paymaster. With a pro-social aim and new direction for the economy, other uses can be found for that social wealth and the human productive force released from the war economy. Needless to say, the suggestions to humanize the social and natural environment are unlimited in their scope.

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For Your Information

Production and Sale of War Materiel

The U.S. and other governments generally contract for the purchase of war materiel from private companies. This means political control is fundamentally important for those who profit from the production of war materiel and services. A recent example of the importance of political control is Amazon losing a $10 billion Pentagon "cloud" contract to its competitor Microsoft. Amazon immediately launched a legal challenge to the decision and directly attacked the Trump administration accusing it of interference in the awarding of the contract. The antagonism between President Trump and Amazon and in particular its CEO Jeff Bezos, the owner and publisher of the Washington Post is intense.[1]

Many of the largest companies involved in the war economy use the guaranteed state military contracts as a base to build their sales in non-military goods and services. An example is Boeing, the second-largest arms producer in the world. It registered $29.2 billion in arms sales at home and abroad in 2018, which acted as a 29 per cent anchor or platform for its total realized gross income from sales of $101.1 billion.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) annually compiles data on global military sales, excluding China. The data for 2018 show 43 companies based in the U.S. had a total gross income of $246 billion from the sale of military goods and services at home and abroad. This represents a 7.2 per cent increase in sales compared with 2017 and accounts for 59 per cent of the total gross income from arms sales of the largest 100 companies worldwide. The data does not include the research, production and sales at government owned military enterprises or "in-house" maintenance of military assets.

Regarding the significance of arms sales in relation to total military spending, SIPRI writes, "In general, spending on weapons, weapons systems and platforms, and other specifically military equipment (including the research and development for such equipment) forms no more than a third of military spending, and much less in non-arms producing countries. In the USA, procurement and research and development have usually accounted for about 30 per cent of total 'National Defense' outlays since 2005."

The five biggest arms producers in the world are based in the United States and alone accounted for $148 billion in gross income and 35 percent of the total arms sales of the top 100 companies in 2018. They are:

Lockheed Martin Corp. $47.26 billion in military gross income: Lockheed Martin, the largest arms producer in the world saw its arms sales grow 5.2 per cent in 2018, which amounted to 11 per cent of the gross income of the top 100 companies worldwide. Lockheed Martin produces the F-35 combat aircraft purchased by many countries within the U.S.-led imperialist system of states.

Boeing $29.15 billion: The arms sales of Boeing, the second-largest arms producer in the world, grew 5.7 per cent in 2018 and totalled 6.9 per cent of global sales of the 100 biggest companies.

Northrop Grumman Corp. $26.19 billion: Northrop Grumman's arms sales grew by 14 per cent in 2018, an increase of $3.3 billion. This was driven in part by its acquisition of arms producer Orbital-ATK and strong domestic and international demand for its weapons, including intercontinental ballistic missiles and missile defence systems.[2]

Arms sales by Raytheon at $23.44 billion (ranked fourth) rose by 3.9 per cent.

Arms sales at General Dynamics Corp climbed 10 per cent to $22 billion (ranked fifth).


1. The newspaper Business Insider headlined on December 9, "Amazon recently lost out to Microsoft on a $10 billion cloud-computing contract for the Department of Defense.

"Amazon has challenged the decision on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, alleging in court that President Donald Trump's bias against Amazon played a role in the decision.

"In documents made public Monday, Amazon said Trump led ‘repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks' to ensure Amazon didn't get the contract in order to harm CEO Jeff Bezos, ‘his perceived political enemy.'

"Trump has not hidden his dislike of Amazon: He's accused the company of 'getting away with murder on tax' and accused Bezos of using the publication he owns, the Washington Post, as a 'lobbyist weapon.'"

2. A development in the U.S. arms industry in 2018 was the growing trend in consolidations among some of the largest arms producers. For example, two of the top five, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, made multibillion-dollar acquisitions in 2018. SIPRI writes, "'U.S. companies are preparing for the new arms modernization programme that was announced in 2017 by President Trump,' says Aude Fleurant, Director of SIPRI's Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. 'Large U.S. companies are merging to be able to produce the new generation of weapon systems and therefore be in a better position to win contracts from the U.S. Government.'

"The summary of the U.S. 2018 National Defense Strategy published by the administration of President Donald J. Trump stated that the current security environment was characterized by ‘Inter-state strategic competition' and that the U.S. military advantage had atrophied and needed to be rebuilt in order to address the strategic competition from China and Russia. This document emphasized the USA's commitment to continue with and strengthen its large-scale arms modernization programme announced in 2017. Following this announcement, several U.S. arms companies included in the Top 100 merged or acquired other companies' business segments in 2017 and 2018, partly with the aim of gaining an advantage over their competitors. The larger deals included Northrop Grumman's acquisition of Orbital-ATK, United Technologies' acquisition of Rockwell Collins, and General Dynamics' acquisition of CSRA. There were also transactions of a smaller scale such as CACI International's acquisition of a business unit of General Dynamics, and Engility's acquisition of the information technology (IT) segment of SAIC."

"The main motivation for the consolidations in 2017 and 2018 was the USA's comprehensive and ambitious arms modernization programme aimed at designing and producing a new generation of weapon systems."

3. In addition to details on the 100 largest arms-producing and military services companies: "SIPRI has information on total military expenditure for each country with a specific category for spending on arms. Military expenditure is defined as spending on the military in general, including spending on personnel (i.e. the salaries and benefits of troops and civilian staff), operations and maintenance (i.e. spending on general supplies, services and transport), equipment (e.g. arms, other military equipment and non-military equipment), construction (e.g. of military bases) and research and development."

For the full report from SIPRI for 2018, click here

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Global War Economy

The global gross income from arms sales of the 100 largest arms-producing and military services companies in the world excluding China was $420 billion in 2018, an increase of 4.6 per cent compared with 2017. This annual total using a constant 2018 dollar was 47 per cent higher than in 2002. The growth from 2017 to 2018 occurred mainly in sales by the top five U.S. companies, which the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says, "can be correlated to increases in global military expenditure, particularly the rise in U.S. spending from 2017 to 2018."

Seventy companies based in the USA and Europe accounted for 83 per cent of total Top 100 arms sales. At $348 billion in 2018, their combined arms sales were 5.2 per cent higher than in 2017 with most of the growth in U.S. companies. Arms sales of companies based in Europe in the Top 100 totalled $102 billion in 2018 with some of that production in the United States. For example, the arms sales of the USA-based subsidiary of BAE Systems were approximately $10 billion in 2018, equivalent to a 48 per cent share of BAE Systems' total arms sales of $21.2 billion.

Ten companies in Russia were listed in the Top 100 with combined gross income of $36.2 billion. SIPRI reports that while this figure remained largely unchanged from 2017, their share of total Top 100 arms sales dropped from 9.7 per cent to 8.6 per cent in 2018 because of "the substantial growth in the combined arms sales of U.S. and European companies."

Russia's largest arms producer, Almaz-Antey, was the only Russian company ranked in the top 10 (at 9th position) and accounted for 27 per cent of the total arms sales of Russian companies in the Top 100. Almaz-Antey's arms sales rose by 18 per cent in 2018, to $9.6 billion "due not only to strong domestic demand, but also to continued growth in sales to other countries, particularly of the S-400 air defence system," writes SIPRI researcher Alexandra Kuimova.

Twenty Top 100 companies are found outside the U.S., Europe and Russia with six based in Japan, three each in Israel, India and the Republic of Korea (south Korea), two in Turkey and one each in Singapore, Australia and Canada (CAE Inc. at 87th position with $1.01 billion in arms sales, a one year growth of 19 per cent).

The six Japanese companies had a combined gross income from the sale of arms of $9.9 billion accounting for 2.4 per cent of the Top 100 total.

The three Israeli companies' arms sales of $8.7 billion accounted for 2.1 per cent of the Top 100 total.

The combined arms sales of the three Indian arms companies listed in the Top 100 were $5.9 billion in 2018.

The three companies based in south Korea had combined arms sales of $5.2 billion in 2018, equivalent to 1.2 per cent of the Top 100 total.

Arms sales by the two Turkish companies listed in the Top 100 increased by 22 per cent in 2018, to $2.8 billion. SIPRI writes, "Turkey aims to develop and modernize its arms industry and Turkish companies continued to benefit from these efforts in 2018."

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Sun Never Sets on Canadian Military

Most Canadians would be surprised to learn that the sun never sets on the military their taxes pay for.

This country is not formally at war yet more than 2,100 Canadian troops are sprinkled across the globe. According to the Armed Forces, these soldiers are involved in 28 international missions.

There are 850 Canadian troops in Iraq and its environs. Two hundred highly skilled special forces have provided training and combat support to Kurdish forces often accused of ethnic cleansing areas of Iraq they captured. A tactical helicopter detachment, intelligence officers and a combat hospital, as well as 200 Canadians at a base in Kuwait, support the special forces in Iraq.

Alongside the special forces mission, Canada commands the NATO mission in Iraq. Canadian Brigadier General Jennifer Carrigan commands nearly 600 NATO troops, including 250 Canadians.

A comparable number of troops are stationed on Russia's borders. About 600 Canadians are part of a Canadian-led NATO mission in Latvia while 200 troops are part of a training effort in the Ukraine. Seventy-five Canadian Air Force personnel are currently in Romania.

Some of the smaller operations are also highly political. Through Operation Proteus a dozen troops contribute to the Office of the United States Security Coordinator, which is supporting a security apparatus to protect the Palestinian Authority from popular disgust over its compliance in the face of ongoing Israeli settlement building.

Through Operation Foundation 15 troops are contributing to a U.S. counter-terrorism effort in the Middle East, North Africa and Southwest Asia. As part of Operation Foundation, Brigadier-General A. R. Day, for instance, directs the Combined Aerospace Operations Center at the U.S. military's Al Udeid base in Qatar.

The 2,100 number offered up by the military doesn't count the hundreds, maybe a thousand, naval personnel patrolling hot spots across the globe. Recently one or two Canadian naval vessels -- with about 200 personnel each -- has patrolled in East Asia. The ships are helping the U.S.-led campaign to isolate north Korea and enforce UN sanctions. These Canadian vessels have also been involved in belligerent "freedom of navigation" exercises through international waters that Beijing claims in the South China Sea, Strait of Taiwan and East China Sea.

A Canadian vessel is also patrolling in the Persian Gulf/Arabian Sea. Recently Canadian vessels have also entered the Black Sea, which borders Russia. And Canadian vessels regularly deploy to the Caribbean.

Nor does the 2,100 number count the colonels supported by sergeants and sometimes a second officer who are defence attachés based in 30 diplomatic posts around the world (with cross-accreditation to neighbouring countries). Another 150 Canadian military personnel are stationed at the North American Aerospace Defense Command headquarters in Colorado and a smaller number at NORAD's hub near Tampa Bay, Florida. These bases assist U.S. airstrikes in a number of places.

Dozens of Canadian soldiers are also stationed at NATO headquarters in Brussels. They assist that organization in its international deployments.

There may be other deployments not listed here. Dozens of Canadian soldiers are on exchange programs with the U.S. and other militaries and some of them may be part of deployments abroad. Additionally, Canadian Special forces can be deployed without public announcement, which has taken place on numerous occasions.

The scope of the military's international footprint is hard to square with the idea of a force defending Canada. That's why military types promote the importance of "forward defence". The government's 2017 "Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada's Defence Policy" claims Canada has to "actively address threats abroad for stability at home" and that "defending Canada and Canadian interests ... requires active engagement abroad."

That logic, of course, can be used to justify participating in endless U.S.-led military endeavors. That is the real reason the sun never sets on the Canadian military.

(, December 6, 2019)

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United States

Impeachment, Accountability and
the Battle of Democracy

On December 18, the House of Representatives, where the Democratic Party representatives form a majority, voted to impeach President Donald Trump by passing two motions: one charges Trump with abuse of power and the other with obstruction of Congress. Under Senate rules, a Senate impeachment trial starts the day after the House provides it with the articles of impeachment, unless that day is a Sunday. To start the process the Senate must first vote on rules for its own impeachment trial and what witnesses will be invited/permitted. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and 67 votes are required to convict a president.

However, after voting to impeach the president, House Democrats took a decision to delay transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi cited concerns that the Republicans in control of the Senate would not hold a "fair trial." In other words, the Democrats do not agree with the rules the Republicans are seeking to set for the Senate trial nor the witnesses proposed, if any. This is the first time the impeachment of a president takes place at a time both houses of Congress are not under the command of the same party. It is not clear whether the horse trading taking place will get either party the votes it wants in this matter. Given how the vying factions among the rulers and their representatives are currently lining up, few think the impeachment of the president will succeed. Meanwhile, both Houses are scheduled to take a two-week break for the holidays.

What is nonetheless clear from the on-going spectacle in the House of Representatives is that impeachment does not in fact hold the president accountable for his actions and the entire thing serves to deprive the American people of a vantage point which favours their striving for empowerment.

Pelosi has emphasized that "The president must be held accountable, and no one is above the law." Impeachment is presented as a mechanism for accountability, and more generally the effort is supposed to send the message to the public that the "system works" when it comes to this problem. They do not need to fight for new arrangements.

In fact the current arrangements are not sorting out the fighting between the factions of the ruling class. The civil war scenario between the ruling factions in the U.S., as well as the very limited articles of impeachment being presented -- for abuse of power, but only concerning the Ukraine/Biden affair, and obstruction of justice -- create doubt that impeachment will hold President Trump accountable.

This is clearly true for the crimes of greatest concern to the people, completely absent from the articles of impeachment even though there is far more evidence. These include the crimes of family separation and detention camps of children, even babies. They include the war crimes, such as those against Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan, through use of drones and chemical weapons and more. They include collective punishment of whole populations using sanctions, such as against Venezuela, Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran and many others. 

Voice of Revolution, newspaper of the U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization, notes that people across the country, joined by many abroad have persisted in waging battles for rights and demanding change on these matters.[1] It writes:

"Impeachment provides no accountability for government refusal to do so. The many actions included thousands more worldwide actions to defend Mother Earth, November 29, and continuing weekly demonstrations across the country in many places; continuing united actions both sides of the southern border defending migrants as well as the recent not guilty verdict of an activist who aided two young migrants crossing the desert in Arizona; anti-war actions, including those against NATO in London, New York City and elsewhere; strikes by teachers taking social responsibility for problems like homelessness and lack of counselors and nurses in their schools; and many more.

"These battles for democracy contribute to the efforts all across the country to give voice to the demands of the people and to affirm their rights. They also raise the central issue of today's battle of democracy, of who decides, the minority or the majority? The battle of democracy is the battle to advance the content and form of democracy and the institutions for it so as to bring it on a par with modern times. Empowering the people, the majority to govern and decide, is required. That is the democracy that would put in place the means to have the anti-war, pro-social will of the people -- readily apparent in the many united actions, meetings, petitions, strikes -- implemented. This is precisely what the rulers are striving to prevent. Impeachment is part of this effort to embroil everyone for and against while attempting to divert the drive of the people to themselves be decision-makers.

"U.S.-style democracy ensures a small minority rules over the majority, a problem impeachment does not solve. Nor does it solve the problem of accountability. The Constitution and existing law provide no mechanism for the people to hold the president accountable for crimes. The Justice Department has long said it is unconstitutional to charge a sitting president and has not done so. Nor can a citizen's arrest be made of a sitting president, given that any such effort would be blocked by the Secret Service and the citizen charged.

"The need to have a mechanism in the hands of the people to hold the president accountable for crimes brings to the fore this need to advance the battle of democracy -- the battle for new institutions of governance, a new constitution that does provide for accountability. People very much despise the ability of government, especially the president, to commit crimes with impunity. Even elections, given as the way to deal with this issue, do not provide a means to bring criminal charges. Indeed, like impeachment, they are yet another mechanism where the people do not decide the outcome; the rulers, the minority do.

"The battle of democracy is the battle of political power, the battle for new arrangements that empower the people to govern and decide. A new constitution and institutions should serve to harmonize the many human relations of the present, the whole ensemble of relations between humans and humans and humans and nature. Harmonizing and providing for accountability are interrelated, so this issue too must be addressed. Steps in this direction today include stepping up organized efforts for the people, as individuals and collectives, to speak out in their own name, voice their concerns, stick to their own agenda for the change needed. It includes discussing and debating this problem of accountability, what is needed for it and how achieving it is related to advancing the battle of the people to govern and decide."


1. Voice of Revolution, December 13, 2019.

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Rights Organizations Fight to End Detentions, Deportations and Militarization of the
U.S.-Mexico Border

Through a variety of means, immigration rights organizations are speaking out and taking their stands against detentions, deportations and the militarization of the border, which still includes thousands of troops on the border. Efforts include demonstrations, proposals to "re-envision" the approach to immigration and provide legislation that recognizes rights, legal and humanitarian aid on the ground, such as providing food and water to those forced to cross the desert, court cases and more.

Demands include an immediate moratorium on deportations and detentions and their elimination. The call is to "centre the rights of working people," at home and abroad, recognizing immigration as a global issue where the U.S. greatly contributes to the violence and devastation imposed on peoples here and abroad. There is recognition that the detentions and many of the deportations, actions also carried out under Bush and Obama, are crimes. The government continues to act with impunity and no one is held accountable for the deaths, violence and family separations daily occurring.

People in cities across the country have repeatedly stood against family separation and detention, especially of children. Many are saying "This is not my America" and joining in the struggles for rights and a new direction for the country, one that is pro-social and pro-humanity.

Contrary to this demand of the public, detention camps continue to expand, an indication that they are not only for immigrants and refugees, but potentially for those organizing, who the government targets as "threats." Or, as has already happened, are charged with human smuggling simply for providing aid to undocumented immigrants. That is, not only is the government not held accountable for crimes, but those organizing for rights are being criminalized. The increasing militarization of the border and detention camps at military facilities is a further indication that far from solving any problems, the government is further criminalizing resistance, which includes providing humanitarian aid.

The various organizations standing up for the rights of all at home and abroad are contributing to a path forward that defends the interests of the peoples. It is this spirit and stand that no one is illegal, we are one humanity with one struggle for our rights, that will further strengthen the work being organized.

(Voice of Revolution, December 13, 2019)

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Social Conditions Deteriorate in the United States

The necessity for the independent politics of the working class and an
anti-war pro-social direction for the economy

In a series of articles, the mass media have presented lurid exposures of inhumane living conditions in the United States. Social conditions for many in cities in California, the Northwest, New York and elsewhere are shown to have become untenable. Thousands of people in city after city live outside on sidewalks and parks with little access to sanitation and other public services. The housing situation for workers in Silicon Valley is said to be so desperate that the Apple Corporation has decided to invest $2.5 billion to build rental housing for its workers and others on land it owns in San Francisco.

The New York Times has detailed serious social problems in health care, education, and housing and the corrupting influence of big money in the cartel party system of the Democratic and Republican Parties. The items suggest inequality of social wealth between the rich and poor is the root problem and not a symptom of a deeper issue, and that redistribution of accumulated wealth is necessary if social problems are to be solved.

Other articles refute this approach and declare the "American Dream" to become rich and to "fend for yourself" have made the nation dominant in world affairs, while state redistribution of wealth is contrary to the "American way." The dispute is often presented as a conflict of outlooks and policy objectives between the two established cartel parties and within the Democratic Party itself.

The articles on inequality of wealth, amongst other sources, rely on recent research from economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman,found in their book, The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay. They argue the concentration of wealth in a few hands has become so great as to be untenable, resulting in unresolved social problems that only increased taxes on the rich can resolve.

The data reveals that 400 rich U.S. households currently own more social wealth than the entire population of those of African descent, around 48 million, plus a quarter of those of Latin American and Hispanic descent, another 14 million people. The richest top 0.1 per cent has seen its grasp of U.S. social wealth nearly triple from seven per cent to 20 per cent between the late 1970s and 2016, while the bottom 90 per cent has seen its share of wealth decline from 35 per cent to 25 per cent in that same period.

The richest 130,000 families in the U.S. now hold nearly as much social wealth as the bottom 117 million families combined. The top one per cent own 42 per cent of the country's entire social wealth. The articles do not break this down as to what constitutes wealth other than general references to stocks, bonds, ownership of companies and property, houses, cars, disposable income etc.

From this mass of accumulated wealth and investments, ownership of property and companies and from positions as executives and directors, the richest individuals constituting one per cent of the total population realize annual incomes amounting to 20 per cent of the total reported income in the United States. In contrast, the reported income for the vast majority of working people comes not from investments and ownership of property but from selling their capacity to work to those who own and control the socialized economy.

According to the tax research of Saez and Zucman, the families in the top 0.1 per cent are projected to owe 3.2 per cent of their total wealth and income in federal, state, and local taxes for the year 2019, while the bottom 99 per cent are projected to owe 7.2 per cent of their accumulated wealth and income.

The data and subsequent analysis concentrate on the possession and distribution of social wealth in money form. From this, the analysis arrives at the conclusion that increased taxes on the rich will solve the problems facing the people. But is a lack of money the cause of the dreadful social conditions and problems?

Saez and Zucman point to a period in U.S. history from the beginning of WWII into the 1970s when the rich paid much higher taxes and their share of wealth was one-third relative to what they control of the total today. However, the situation during the earlier period did not result in the realization of the right of all to health care, education, housing, proper sanitation, and security in retirement and when injured, sick or disabled. The increased funds in government hands relative to the total social wealth during and after World War II led to militarization of the U.S. economy. The U.S. ruling elite did not use the increased funds to guarantee the rights of the people with extensive social programs and free public services but to establish thousands of military bases within the U.S. and around the world, wage continuous wars under the imperialist banner of "containment of communism," and build its war arsenal of modern weaponry, including naval armadas, warplanes, tanks, artillery, assault rifles and vast numbers of nuclear bombs and missiles.

The U.S. state does not have a lack of money. It has an annual war budget of around a trillion dollars plus billions more for "homeland security," countless internal and external spy and police agencies, money for "diplomatic" interference in the sovereign affairs of others, pay-the-rich schemes for big business, and money to pay for pro-war imperialist propaganda, armed mercenaries and prisons to incarcerate over two million of its own people.

The research and series of articles in the mass media leading to the conclusion of a lack of money to solve problems ignore the outmoded relations of production between the working class and financial oligarchy and the contradiction between a socialized economy and its control by competing private interests, which are the root of the problem of inequality and powerlessness of the working people to deal with the conditions they face. Those who do the work and sell their capacity to work to the rich have no economic or political control over the economy and have access only to that portion of the new value they produce paid to them in wages and whatever social programs that may exist in exchange for their capacity to work.

The rich who own and control the productive forces, the direction of the economy and the cartel party political system of the Democratic and Republican Parties expropriate added-value from the new value workers produce. Taxation has become a broad method of the financial oligarchy to take back from working people what they have been paid in exchange for their capacity to work. The ruling elite of competing factions of the financial oligarchy and their political representatives have control over how that value is distributed and used. The prevailing relations of production dictate the control of the ruling imperialists over the economy and its direction. The politics of the cartel party system of the Democratic and Republican parties reflect the control and domination of competing factions of the ruling elite.

Most social programs such as education and health care result in increased value of the capacity to work of the working class. The companies that consume this value should pay for it not through taxes but by directly paying the institutions that produce the value. To increase individual and social reproduced-value demands action to bring into being increased investments in social programs and free public services, higher wages, pensions and benefits for workers, an end to paying the rich, and a new anti-war pro-social direction of the economy.

The U.S. working class is faced with a class struggle to organize itself as a viable social force capable of defending its rights, forcing the rich to increase the reproduced-value working people receive in exchange for their capacity to work, and through its own independent politics open a path forward to democratic renewal and a new direction for the economy.

An independent political program and nation-building project of the working class and its allies to empower themselves through democratic renewal include increased investments in social programs and free public services to guarantee the rights of all, and actions to stop paying the rich and to dismantle the war economy and give it a new pro-social direction. This can be accomplished through the development of the organized independent politics of the working class and its own thinking, outlook and agenda in opposition to the politics, outlook and agenda of the rich and their cartel party political system of competing factions of the financial oligarchy.

The working class and its allies must develop their own independent politics, media, voice and democratic personality. They cannot rely on the rich and their political representatives within the cartel party system and mass media to act or speak on their behalf, solve the social problems facing the country, chart a new anti-war pro-social direction for the economy and country, and open a path forward to the emancipation of the working class.

(VOR, December 13, 2019. Photos: VOR, Future Boston All)

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Developments in Latin America and the Caribbean

Fifteen Years in Defence of Unity,
Peace and Integration

1. The Heads of State and Government and the Heads of Delegations of the member countries and invited guests of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-Peoples' Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP), met in Havana on December 14, 2019 to commemorate the 15th Anniversary of the Alliance, founded by Commanders Fidel Castro Ruz and Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, with a firm commitment to strengthen it, as an expression of the aspirations for regional independence and a bulwark of genuine Latin American and Caribbean integration in the face of growing threats to regional self-determination, sovereignty, peace and stability.[1]

2. We defend the ideas of Bolívar, Martí, San Martín, Sucre, O' Higgins, Petión, Morazán, Sandino, Maurice Bishop, Garvey, Túpac Katari, Bartolina Sisa, Chatoyer and other heroes of Latin American and Caribbean independence.

3. We emphasize that regional unity and integration are the only way to confront the domination exercised by hegemonic structures of world power, which have left our peoples in a historical condition of political, economic and cultural subordination and vulnerability.

4. We express that ALBA-TCP is the first genuine Latin American and Caribbean integration front, based on principles of solidarity, social justice, defense of independence and sovereignty, self-determination of peoples, economic cooperation and complementarity, a fruit of the deep integrationist vocation of its members and of its political will to advance together towards sustainable development, in order to satisfy the needs of our countries and people.

5. We highlight the social achievements of ALBA-TCP, which have been aimed at human beings, regardless of race, socioeconomic background, creed or political position, allowing millions of Latin American and Caribbean People to benefit from the social policies promoted by the Alliance.

6. We especially stress the Literacy Program, the Milagro Mission, the Care Program for Persons with Disabilities, the Latin American Children's Cardiology Hospital, the training of comprehensive doctors at the Latin American School of Medicine-ELAM in Cuba and Venezuela and PetroCaribe, as well as the Casas del ALBA, the ALBA Sports Games, teleSUR and Radio del Sur.

7. We point out the progress made by ALBA-TCP in the economic and financial sphere, especially after 11 years since the establishment of the Banco del ALBA, during which time various infrastructure, production and service projects have been developed in the different countries of the region.

8. We ratify our commitment to the construction of an alternative model of economic sovereignty, expressed in a New Financial Architecture, in order to consolidate a system of exchange and reciprocal, supportive, participatory and complementary cooperation that strengthens our economic and commercial freedom.

9. We reaffirm our willingness to continue working and cooperating in confronting climate change, a phenomenon that is a product of the capitalist system, with its irrational patterns of production and consumption, which attack our Mother Earth and increase the frequency and intensity of natural phenomena that cause regrettable human and material losses.

10. We emphasize the participation and full presence of social movements, solidarity movements and popular sectors in our integration process, in order to advance in the construction of inclusive, culturally diverse and environmentally responsible societies that exclude the exploitation of human beings.

11. We condemn the aggressive and interventionist policy of the United States government, which, with the complicity of national oligarchies and the corporate media, combined with the consequences of the harsh application of inhumane neo-liberal models, are the fundamental causes of dangerous regional instability.

12. We reaffirm that the current policy of the United States Government towards Our America poses challenges that generate clear violations of the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and International Law, as well as the postulates of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.

13. We reject the threats of the use of force by the United States Government against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the maintenance and expansion of criminal unilateral coercive measures against its people, which continue to be the main threat to peace in Latin America and the Caribbean. We support the Bolivarian Revolution, the Venezuelan People's Civic-Military Union and the Constitutional President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

14. We reject the activation of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela that represents a danger to peace, which could facilitate the fabrication of a pretext and establish the bases for a possible military intervention against the Bolivarian people.

15. We condemn the coup d'état against the constitutional government of comrade Evo Morales Ayma in Bolivia, which constitutes a clear expression of the imperialist strategy of the United States in the Western Hemisphere and its permanent intention to violate the self-determination of our peoples according to their hegemonic pretenses. The complicity of the Bolivian oligarchy in the violent interruption of democratic institutions in the country, and the indulgent support of other oligarchies in the region for this flagrant violation of the rule of law and human rights leaves no room for doubt.

16. We emphasize that for the purpose of recovering the spaces conquered by the peoples with progressive governments, the United States Government, in collusion with the oligarchies of the region, revives methods that seemed to have been overcome in the history of Latin America and applies new formulas of the so-called unconventional warfare.

17. We denounce that intolerance, racism and brutal repression against social movements and native peoples have multiplied in Bolivia, with the clear determination to revert the achievements by its people during the presidency of comrade Evo Morales Ayma.

18. We denounce that the threats and the repeated destabilizing attempts against the legitimate government of the sisterly Republic of Nicaragua are a profound violation of International Law. The Sandinista Government of Nicaragua and its President, Daniel Ortega Saavedra, have our solidarity and support.

19. We express our solidarity with the people of the sisterly Commonwealth of Dominica, and congratulate Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on his re-election last December 6, with broad popular support.

20. We reject interfering actions against the political process in Suriname and attempts to destabilize that country. The Constitutional Government of Suriname and its President, Desire Bouterse, have our solidarity and support.

21. We firmly reject the application of the Monroe Doctrine. We demand respect for the self-determination of our peoples, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the domestic affairs of each State, the peaceful settlement of international disputes, the rejection of the threat or use of force in international relations, while denouncing the use of unconventional methods of warfare to overthrow legitimate governments and the imposition of unilateral coercive measures against Latin American and Caribbean countries.

22. We state that the rise of neo-liberal governments to political power in the region has led to a clear reversing of social welfare policies in several countries, increasing poverty rates, deep social inequalities and the marginalization of broad sectors of the population.

23. We declare that the growing corruption of neo-liberal governments, their exercise of power to maximize the profits of transnational corporations and a tiny minority of privileged elites, violence and police brutality, have caused the outbreak of massive demonstrations in Our America.

24. We denounce false statements of the U.S., attributing to members of this Alliance the responsibility in the organization of the massive popular protests that have spread throughout the region, which aim to conceal that the failure of the efforts of neo-liberal governments are due to the requirements imposed by Washington.

25. We reject the shameful distortion of Latin American reality by the United States and the oligarchic elites of the region that seek to conceal the true origin of popular demonstrations.

26. We reject the self-proclaimed champions of human rights and democracy, who increasingly resort to militarization and repression to sustain the neo-liberal model in crisis. The numbers of dead, wounded and mutilated speak for themselves of the disproportionate use of force by repressive bodies. The support of several governments for the brutal repression in several countries and the complicit silence of others is unacceptable.

27. We condemn the systematic actions of the United States government to discredit and sabotage the international cooperation provided by Cuba in the area of healthcare in dozens of countries, which has benefited millions of people, as well as the blatant pressure exerted against several governments to interrupt the acceptance of Cuban supportive cooperation, to the detriment of the right to life and access to medical services for their citizens.

28. We emphasize the recent adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations of the resolution entitled "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba" by 187 votes in favor, which once again demonstrated the overwhelming isolation of the U.S. government, within the context of an international community committed to truth, justice and respect for International Law. The regrettable decision of the Brazilian government to vote against and the Colombian government to abstain confirm the hijacking of their policies by sectors that are openly servile to the interests of the White House.

Political-cultural program in celebration of the 15th anniversary of ALBA-TCP,
December 14, 2019 at University of Havana’s Grand Stairway.

29. We express our solidarity with the brotherly Caribbean countries, which suffered genocide against their native population, the horrors of slavery, the transatlantic slave trade and colonial and neocolonial plundering; today they face the challenges resulting from climate change, natural disasters and the unjust financial system that endangers their small economies. We reaffirm the right of Caribbean countries to receive fair, special and differential treatment. The Caribbean will always find in ALBA-TCP a platform for articulation, cooperation and complementarity to defend its just claims and for reparations.

30. We express our desire for unity and integration that confirms the importance of preserving the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), a genuine mechanism to promote the common interests of our nations through political agreement with respect for diversity. In this regard, we commit ourselves to support Mexico in its exercise of the Pro Tempore Presidency of the Community.

31. We welcome the incorporation of Antigua and Barbuda as a full member of the Banco del ALBA on 4 November 2019.

32. The challenges we face reaffirm the need to close ranks in the face of external threats, interference and aggression, with full confidence in victory. United we will confront interventionism and the coup plotters. We are sustained by the deep conviction that the construction of the better future for Our America that we desire and work for, is and will increasingly be in the strong, firm hands of the free peoples.

33. Let us ensure the realization of the rights to life, peace, self-determination and development to which our peoples are entitled. Let us unite! The victory of the just causes we defend depends on our unity.

"We seek solidarity not as an end but as a means to fulfill Our America's universal mission" -- José Martí, Our America

Havana, December 14, 2019

Meeting of the Ottawa chapter of ALBA Social Movements, November 9, 2019, discusses the struggles of the peoples in Latin America against imperialism and neo-liberalism.


1. Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Nicaragua, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Venezuela are currently members of ALBA-TCP

(Granma. Slightly edited for style by TML. Photos: A. Paredes, Radio Havana, Minrex)

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Our America in the Face of the Onslaught of Imperialism and the Oligarchies

Rally at the Art Gallery in Vancouver, December 3, 2019, in support of the struggles of the Chilean people and others in Latin America against neo-liberalism and state repression.

The most recent events in the region confirm that the U.S. government and the reactionary oligarchies bear the primary responsibility for the dangerous unrest and political and social instability that broke out in Latin America and the Caribbean.

As was anticipated by the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, on January 1, 2019: Those who entertained the illusion of the restoration of imperialist domination in our region should understand that Latin America and the Caribbean have changed and so has the world […] The region resembles a large prairie in times of drought. A single spark could cause an uncontrollable fire that would damage the national interests of all."

President Donald Trump proclaims the validity of the Monroe Doctrine and resorts to McCarthyism to maintain the imperialist domination over the natural resources of the region; prevent the exercise of the national sovereignty and the aspirations of regional  integration and cooperation; attempt to re-establish his unipolar and hemispheric hegemony; eliminate progressive, revolutionary and alternative models to wild capitalism; revert political and social achievements and impose neo-liberal models, with full disregard for International Law, the rules of the game of representative democracy, the environment or the wellbeing of peoples.

This Monday, December 2, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threateningly accused Cuba and Venezuela of benefiting from and helping to stir up unrest in the countries of the region. He distorts and manipulates reality and conceals the main reason for the instability in the region, which is the U.S. permanent interference in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The legitimate protests and peoples’ massive demonstrations  that are going on in the continent, particularly in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil are caused by poverty and the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth; the certainty that neo-liberal formulas are worsening the exclusive and unsustainable situation of  social vulnerability; the absence or precarious situation of health care, education and social security services; the abuses against human dignity; unemployment and restriction of labor rights; privatization; the increasing cost and cancellation of public services and the increased public insecurity.

Demonstrations in Montreal, December 1, 2019 (top) and Calgary, October 26, 2019, are two of  many held across the country in support of the Chilean people's courageous fight to affirm their rights in the face of brutal repression unleashed against them by the Chilean state.

They reveal the crisis of political systems, the lack of true democracy, the discredit of traditional conservative parties, the protest against the typical historical corruption of military dictatorships and right-wing governments, the scarce popular support to official authorities, the lack of confidence in institutions and the system of justice.

They also protest against the brutal police repression, the militarization of it using as a pretext the protection of critical infrastructures; the exemption of repressors from criminal liability; the use of military and anti-riot weapons that cause deaths, serious injuries, including hundreds of youths suffering from irreversible eye injuries caused by pellet guns; the criminalization of demonstrations; violations, beatings and violence against detainees , among them minors; and even the assassination of social leaders, demobilized guerrillas and journalists.

The United States advocates and supports repression against demonstrators under the pretext of safeguarding the alleged "democratic order." The complicit silence of several governments, institutions and personalities, that turn out to be very active and critical against the left, is a shame. The complicity of the big corporate media is shameful.

Peoples are very rightly wondering: Where is democracy and the rule of law? What are the institutions that are supposedly devoted to the protection of human rights doing? Where is the justice system whose independence is so much trumpeted?

Let’s review some facts. In March, 2015, President Barack Obama signed an unheard-of Executive Order declaring the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as an "unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, the economy and foreign policy" of that big power. In November, 2015, the costly electoral defeat of the left-wing in Argentina occurred.

The neo-liberal offensive had its momentum in August, 2016, with the judicial and parliamentary coup in Brazil against President Dilma Rousseff; the criminalization and incarceration of the leaders of the Workers’ Party and later on of ex President Luis Inacio Lula Da Silva himself; the prompt participation of the Department of Justice of the United States, by virtue of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, to install a dependent government, ready to revert important social achievements through neo-liberal adjustments, introduce a nefarious change in the development model, allow the destruction of national businesses and a predatory privatization and  sell  the resources and infrastructure of the country to American transnationals at a cheap price.

By the end of 2017 there was a protest against the electoral results in Honduras that was terribly repressed.

In January, 2018, the United States aborted the signing of an agreement between the government of Venezuela and the Washington-controlled opposition. One month later, the Secretary of State proclaimed the validity of the Monroe Doctrine and called for a military coup against the Bolivarian and Chavista Revolution.

In March, 2018, the Brazilian councilwoman Marielle Franco was atrociously murdered. This action aroused a wave of anger in her country and the whole world. The obscure involvement of the powers that be in this event has not been disclosed.  In April, Lula is sent to prison through spurious judicial maneuvers.  There is abundant evidence of the U.S. interference in the Brazilian elections through specialized companies using technologies such as "big data" and polymetry to manipulate, on a case by case basis, the will of voters, such as the ones used by the ultra-reactionary Steve Bannon and others designed by Israel.

During this period, legal proceedings were initiated against ex presidents Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Rafael Correa. In April, 2018, there was an attempt to destabilize Nicaragua through foreign interference and the implementation of unilateral coercive measures.

On August 4, 2018, an attempt against the life of President Nicolas Maduro Moros was perpetrated.  In January, 2019, the self-proclamation of the barely-known and corrupt Juan Guaidó, organized in Washington, took place.  In March, 2019, president Trump ratified the Executive Order considering Venezuela a threat.  On April 30 there was an attempted military coup in Caracas, which happened to be a resounding failure, and the United States, in revenge, escalated its non-conventional war against that South American nation that has been putting up a tenacious and heroic resistance based on the civic and military union of its people.

Demonstration in Toronto, February 4, 2019, denounces Canada's leadership in the Lima group and demands "Hands Off Venezuela."

During this whole period, the U.S. government has been applying savage anti-immigrant policies and has adopted an aggressive behavior, full of hatred, to fuel fear and division among voters.  It is attempting to build a xenophobic wall in the border with Mexico and is threatening this country and the entire Central America with the imposition of terrible tariffs and sanctions if they do not stop those who flee from poverty and insecurity.  It has also increased deportations.  It cruelly separates thousands of children from their parents; it has arrested 69 000 minors and is trying to expel the children of immigrant parents who were born and raised in the U.S. territory.

The ultra right-wing government of Brazil, headed by Jair Bolsonaro, showing a shameful subordination to the United States, has resorted to lies and a xenophobic, racist, misogynist and homophobic discourse, combined with delirious  projections about social and political phenomena, such as climate change, indigenous populations, the Amazon fires and emigration, which have aroused the rejection of numerous leaders and organizations. Under his government, the social policies that led Brazil to dramatically reduce the levels of poverty and social exclusion under the Workers’ Party governments are being dismantled.

Since May, 2019, tens of thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets to protest against budget cuts in education, the reforms to the pension system, the discriminatory policies and gender violence.

The Brazilian government has interfered in the internal affairs of neighboring countries, such as Venezuela, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay and has adopted hostile positions against Cuba in violation of International Law.  As was published by the Brazilian media in April, 2019, the foreign ministry of that country instructed 15 of its embassies to coordinate with U.S. embassies with the purpose of encouraging recipient governments to condemn Cuba at international fora.

For the first time since 1992, Brazil, only joined by the United States and Israel, voted this year against the UN General Assembly Resolution calling for an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade -- that the U.S. has further tightened against Cuba -- and the cessation of the extraterritorial implementation of U laws against third States.

In the same vein, the government of Colombia abstained in the vote of the resolution it had supported since 1992 which calls for the ceasing of the genocidal blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba –at a moment when it is being tightened- and its extraterritorial character. In order to justify such reprehensible decision, the authorities of that country has resorted to the politically motivated and ungrateful manipulation of the altruistic, dedicated, discreet and unquestionable contribution of Cuba to peace in Colombia, for which our country’s behavior has received universal recognition. It is well known that this decision generated a broad and critical debate in that nation but, despite all odds, we will continue to accompany that nation in its efforts to achieve peace.

The U.S. slander attributing Cuba alleged responsibilities in the organization of popular demonstrations against neo-liberalism in South America is a barely credible excuse to justify and tighten the blockade and the hostile policy against our people. It is likewise useless to conceal the failure of the capitalist system, protect teetering and repressive governments, conceal parliamentary, judicial and police coups; and stir up the ghost of socialism to terrify peoples.  By doing this it also intends to justify repression and the criminalization of social protests.

Cuba’s only responsibility is the one that emanates  from the example set by its heroic people in the defense of their sovereignty, in their resistance against the most brutal and systematic aggressions, in the invariable practice of solidarity and cooperation with all sister nations of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Imperialism is hurting because Cuba has proved that another world is certainly possible and that it is indeed possible to build an alternative model to neo-liberalism, based on solidarity, cooperation, dignity, a fair distribution of wealth, equitable access to professional upgrading, citizens’ safety and protection and the absolute freedom of human beings.

 Discussion on the current situation in Cuba, December 4, 2019, with Her Excellency Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, the Republic of Cuba's Ambassador to Canada, at the CÉGEP de l'Outaouais.

The Cuban Revolution has also been a proof that a people that is closely united, that has become the owner of their country and institutions, living in a permanent and profound democracy, can successfully resist and develop in the face of  the longest-lasting  aggression and blockade in history.

The coup d’état in Bolivia, orchestrated by the United States, using  the local oligarchy and the OAS as an instrument, is an evidence of the aggressive character of the imperialist onslaught.  Cuba once again condemns the coup d’état and the brutal repression that has been unleashed in that country and expresses its solidarity with comrade Evo Morales Ayma and the Bolivian people.

While the U.S. government continues its non-conventional war to attempt to overthrow the legitimate government of President Nicolás Maduro Moros and invokes the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), Cuba ratifies its unshakable determination to maintain its cooperation with the government and the people of Venezuela.

We reiterate our solidarity with the Sandinista government and people of Nicaragua, led by President Daniel Ortega, who is facing the U.S. attempts of destabilization and unilateral coercive measures.

The legitimate government of the Commonwealth o Dominica and its Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit deserve international solidarity and can, as from now, count on the solidarity of the Cuban people at a moment when that island nation is a victim of foreign interference that is already causing violence and is attempting to thwart the electoral process.

In this complex scenario, the government headed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico is coping with neo-liberalism and defending the principles of non-interference and respect for the national sovereignty, while the election of Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández as President and Vice-president of Argentina evidence the unequivocal rejection of that nation against neo-liberal formulas that impoverished and indebted that nation and seriously harmed its people. Lula’s release from prison is a victory of all peoples and Cuba, once again, calls for a global mobilization to demand his complete freedom and the reinstatement of his innocence and his political rights.

The corruption that characterizes the behavior of the current U.S. administration can be hidden no more.  Its impact on the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean has taken a toll on human lives and has caused hardships, instability and economic damages.

In view of the tragic juncture that the region and the world are going through, Cuba reaffirms the principles of sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs of other States and the right of every people to freely choose and create a political system of their own, in a climate of peace, stability and justice, without threats or aggressions or unilateral coercive measures;  and encourages compliance with the principles enshrined in  the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.

Cuba will continue to work towards the integration of Our America, which includes all efforts so that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which will be very soon presided over by Mexico, would continue to promote the common interests of our nations by strengthening unity amidst diversity.

In the face of the implacable onslaught of the most reactionary forces in the hemisphere, Cuba will oppose the unshakable resistance of its people and its determination to defend the unity of the nation, its social achievements, its sovereignty and independence and socialism whatever the cost.  We do it with the unswerving optimism and confidence in victory that we inherited from the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, under the leadership of the First Secretary of our Party, Army General Raúl Castro and the guidance of President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

(Minrex, Havana, December 3, 2019)

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30th Anniversary of U.S. Invasion of Panama

Graphic posted to Venezuelan president Maduro's twitter account in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama.

Christmas of 1989 is keenly remembered in Panama for the brutal military invasion by the United States. Twenty-seven thousand U.S. soldiers, plus 12,000 more who were stationed at the 14 U.S. military bases in the former "Canal Zone" mercilessly attacked this small Central American republic.

According to the United States, in the words of its president George Bush, the reason for the invasion was to protect "American" lives and overthrow the government of dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega. We know that to overthrow the Noriega dictatorship, a military invasion of that nature was not justified. Only a small military command was needed to eliminate Noriega from the Panamanian government.

Other methods could also have been used without spilling a single drop of blood. Today we also know that the invasion, which caused more than six thousand (6,000) Panamanian deaths, really had other aims.

The United States wanted to regain its hegemony in the region. Secondly, the invasion had as one of its purposes the elimination of the Panama Defence Forces, established by General Manuel Antonio Noriega. Thirdly, it was a rehearsal for the total war model, without regard for the scope of the experiment. In it, new weapons were tested such as: Stealth F-11 bombers, 2,000-pound bombs, Hellfire missiles, Blackhawk, Apache AH-64 and Cobra helicopters and missile launchers, A-37 assault aircraft, 30 mm rapid-fire cannons and M-16 rifles with infrared sights.

Another powerful reason is that in January 1990, it was up to Noriega to appoint the [Panama] Canal Administrator, as established in the Torrijos-Carter Treaties.

The attack on Panama began from Ancon Hill towards the poor neighbourhood of El Chorrillo. This neighbourhood was burned down by the United States military and several thousand people died, including women and children. To this day we do not know how many people died in that attack, since U.S. soldiers dragged many bodies into the old "Canal Zone," where they were buried in common graves.

The merciless attack continued in other areas of the city, where more than 400 bombs were dropped during the invasion. The United States attacked other places that it considered of utmost importance in the Republic of Panama. "The country went bankrupt and in the following months there were mass layoffs of public employees and workers of private companies." (Ecured, 2009).

The United States government swore in Guillermo David Endara Galimany as president of Panama and Ricardo Arias Calderón as vice president on one of its military bases in the former Canal Zone. President Endara served as the "puppet" president of the United States in Panama. He was always at the service of the imperial power of the United States, following its orders. An immediate consequence of the invasion was the reinstatement in power of the oligarchy.

As Latin Americans, we cannot forget this act of aggression against Panama carried out by the U.S. empire.

Carlos Pérez Morales is a Puerto Rican historian.

(Nodal, December 20, 2019. Translated from original Spanish by TML.)

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Resounding Defeat of the U.S. in the
Organization of American States After
Adoption of Caribbean Resolution

On December 18, the U.S. and Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro suffered a resounding defeat in the OAS, when the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) succeeded in getting a resolution on Bolivia adopted in the Permanent Council.

Before the meeting of the Permanent Council, the Bolivian representative had proposed amendments to the CARICOM draft resolution. Grenada opened the meeting by pointing out that the Bolivian proposal did not constitute amendments to the CARICOM Project, but a new draft Resolution.

The representative of the coup government of Bolivia responded that he did not agree, that it was not a new document. He thought the draft CARICOM Resolution could have been more constructive if, instead of supporting the intention of setting the country on fire as Evo Morales wishes, it contributed to pacifying it. He added that many are not interested in what happened in Bolivia, which was not actions taken against the Indigenous people, but actions by armed groups that supported Evo Morales, as well as his call to cut off the cities.

Belize put forward a point of order proposing that the draft amendment proposed by Bolivia be put to a vote.

The result of the vote on the Bolivian amendment was as follows:

In favour, 8: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, USA, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay and Venezuela.

Against, 17: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Uruguay, Bahamas, Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Abstentions, 8: Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Peru and Honduras.

Absent, 1: Haiti.

The Bolivian amendment was therefore defeated.

Then the ambassador of the United States proposed that a vote be taken on the draft CARICOM Resolution, which resulted in the following:

In favour, 18: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Uruguay and Panama.

Against, 4: Bolivia, Colombia, USA, Venezuela (the representative of the self-proclaimed president Guaidó).

Abstentions, 11: Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru, Honduras, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.

Absent, 1: Haiti.

As a result, the Resolution "Rejection of Violence and Call for Full Respect for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Plurinational State of Bolivia" was approved.

An explanation of their vote by several delegations appeared as footnotes. Among them what the Colombian ambassador said stood out for its aggressive and even offensive language against the sponsors of the resolution and those who supported it. Both the representative of Colombia and of the USA attacked Venezuela, while the representative of Guaidó also attacked Nicaragua.

Permanent Council Resolution

"Rejection of Violence and Call For Full Respect For the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Plurinational State of Bolivia" moved by the members states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM):


TAKING INTO ACCOUNT the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and those of the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS);

BEARING IN MIND that international and hemispheric conventions on Human Rights contain the values and principles of liberty, equality and social justice that are intrinsic to democracy.

HIGHLIGHTING the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which in its Article 1 states that "Indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Human Rights Law"; the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (AG/RES. 2888 (XLVI-O/16), which, in Article XII, states that "Indigenous peoples have the right not to be the object of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, or related intolerance. States shall adopt the preventive and corrective measures necessary for the full and effective protection of that right."  

TAKING NOTE of the deep concerns about the human right situation, including violence in racist and discriminatory ways, expressed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in its preliminary observations on December 10, 2019, after its visit to Bolivia;

ALSO NOTING the findings of the IACHR that, following the electoral process a wave of violence occurred, and serious allegations were made of human rights violations, including arbitrary detentions and arrests, massacres and murder, wounding of the civilian population, criminalization and persecution of political opponents, violations of freedom of expression.

RECALLING the declaration, "Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas" [AG/DEC. 79(XLIV-O/14)], which reaffirms that progress in promoting and effectively protecting the rights of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas is a priority for the OAS;

RECALLING ALSO Article 9 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter which states that "The elimination of all forms of discrimination, especially gender, ethnic and race discrimination, as well as diverse forms of intolerance, the promotion and protection of human rights of Indigenous peoples and migrants, and respect for ethnic, cultural and religious diversity in the Americas contribute to strengthening democracy and citizen participation;"

RECOGNIZING that, notwithstanding improvements over the last decade, the Indigenous peoples in Bolivia have suffered from historic injustices as a result of, inter alia, their colonization and the dispossession of their lands, territories and resources thus preventing them from fully exercising, in particular, their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests;

EMPHASIZING THAT the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples in Bolivia, which derive from their political, economic, and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources, must be respected and promoted;

REAFFIRMING that Indigenous peoples, in the exercise of their rights, should be free from discrimination of any kind.

CONSIDERING the importance of eliminating all forms of racial discrimination and/or violence that may emanate therefrom that may affect citizens of the Americas including and especially Indigenous peoples, and taking into account the responsibility of States to combat them;

AFFIRMING that any existing doctrines, policies and practices based on advocating superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racist ideas, religious, ethnic or cultural differences, are scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust;

WELCOMING the agreement signed between Bolivian authorities and the IACHR to install an independent group of international experts to investigate the acts of violence that occurred between September and December 2019.


1. CONDEMN the human rights violations and the use of violence against any citizen of Bolivia, especially any and all forms of violence and intimidation against Bolivians of Indigenous origin;

2. FURTHER CONDEMN intolerance of symbols, traditional vestige, religious practices and unequal treatment or mention of any element of Indigenous civilization;

3. UNDERSCORE the need for the authorities of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to fulfil their inherent responsibility as a part of the community of nations to protect all human rights for everyone in Bolivia;

4. URGE the authorities of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to respect, comply with and effectively implement all their obligations under international law as they apply to Indigenous peoples, particularly those related to human rights;

5. REITERATE the  call made by the Permanent Council of the OAS on November 20, 2019,  in CP/RES. 1140 (2259/19) rev. 1, to all political and civil actors in Bolivia, including all authorities, civil society, the military and security forces, and the general public, to immediately cease from violence, preserve peace, and seek a frank dialogue to promote national democratic reconciliation; and

6. CALL UPON the Bolivian authorities to ensure full and unrestricted observance and protection of human rights and to ensure that any violators thereof are held to account, in accordance with international human rights law as reflected in Resolution, CP/RES. 1140 (2259/19) rev. 1, of the OAS Permanent Council.

(December 18, 2019. Translated from original Spanish by TML; Permanent Council Resolution  from OAS website.)

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Bolivarian Government Rejects U.S. Law to Deepen Aggression Against the Venezuelan People

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela categorically rejects the new interventionist aggression undertaken by the ruling elite of the United States of America, this time by attempting to pass legislation ironically baptized as the Emergency Assistance, Democracy and Development Assistance for Venezuela Act, designed to deepen the attacks against the Venezuelan people and ignore our sovereignty and our internal constitutional order.

Behind this chain of euphemisms, an instrument is hidden that aims to accentuate the implementation of unilateral coercive measures, which are illegal, while violating the Charter of the United Nations, insofar as they undermine the human rights of more of 30 million Venezuelans. Additionally, in a delirium of imperial arrogance, the U.S. Congress intends, through this legislation, to arrogate to itself the right to punish countries that maintain commercial relations with Venezuela.

In short, this law seeks only the restoration of neo-liberalism in Venezuela and the plundering of its resources, for which it openly proposes an alleged regime of legal guardianship over Venezuela, in which even its sell-out political allies in the Venezuelan opposition would be bound by the opinions and "recommendations" of the U.S. government.

Far from solving the problem in their country of more than 50 million people living in conditions of poverty or reversing the serious violation of the human rights of more than 5,000 migrant families who have been separated so far this year, the U.S. Congress intends to waste its taxpayers' money to finance the destabilization of Venezuela and deliver resources to its satellite governments that are accomplices of its strategy.

In the face of this new aggression, the People and the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela remain firmly on the road of legality, peace and the heroic effort to build social justice, always ready to defend, in any scenario and in any modality, its Constitution and its participatory and protagonist democracy from illegal coercive measures and from acts of war and destabilization.

The dignity of the people of Bolivar will remain intact in the face of any supremacist attack, as well as their will to remain free, sovereign and to live in peace.

(December 19, 2019. Translated from original Spanish by TML.)

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New U.S. Law Sharpens Unilateral
Coercive Measures

While the U.S. increases its coercive measures against Venezuela, the United Nations accepts the credentials of the Bolivarian Government of President Nicolás Maduro, December 18, 2019, validating it as the only representative of Venezuela at the UN.

The Venezuela Emergency Relief bill, Democracy Assistance and Development Act, or the VERDAD Act, its acronym in English, was approved on December 16 by the Senate Foreign Relations Commission, and on December 19, by the full Senate.

U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (Republican) and Bob Menendez (Democrat), the main architects of the siege of Venezuela from the U.S. Congress, are the visible faces of this initiative, which also involves Democratic representatives for Florida, such as Donna Shalala, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

This bill is a bipartisan and bicameral initiative, which represents a maneuver by the U.S. deep state to legally shield and perpetuate the siege and strategy of asphyxiating the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The VERDAD [meaning truth, in English -- TML Ed. note] Act seeks to escalate and sharpen unilateral coercive measures against the country. Although its scope of application supposedly falls on the leading layer of the Bolivarian Government, it actually aims to strengthen the economic asphyxiation measures and the all-out blockade of the Venezuelan economy.

It also provides for expanding the resources allocated to the vaunted "restoration of democracy in Venezuela." Translation: they are trying to strengthen the allocation of resources for the destabilization of the country through Congress.

Money and Background

In June 2018, the Senate approved $20 million and the House of Representatives approved an additional $15 million for these purposes.

To this set of resources must be added the 400 million dollars that will be destined under the VERDAD Act to the Venezuelan coup leaders led by Popular Will (Voluntad Popular), using the traditional cover of providing supposed "humanitarian aid", which is how this expenditure is indexed in the Budget for the fiscal year 2020.

And still there are journalists, analysts and other social media personalities who ask where Juan Guaidó & Company get all the resources for their travels abroad and luxuries that have been exposed, apart from their much talked-about corruption schemes.

Because of its similarities, for being a bipartisan initiative, with sponsorship in both houses, for its allocation of resources for destabilization, for creating a false legal framework to apply an economic blockade, the VERDAD Act is similar to the Helms-Burton Law that has been applied against Cuba since 1995.

The VERDAD Act also bears similarities to the law approved in 2015 by the U.S. Congress, under which war was authorized against the Islamic State in Syria. In that one they referred to alleged human rights violations by the Bashar al-Assad government to wage a war on two fronts and allocate resources for "the restoration of democracy" in the Arab country.

That is, the similarity between the two decrees also lies in channeling resources to an opposition ready to take the armed road and insurrection as a method of political combat.

In relation to Venezuela, the said law obliges the State Department to work in coordination with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), "independent" media and the National Assembly (in the majority anti-Chavista), with the objective of politically undermining Chavismo and the Bolivarian Government.

Those resources will be allocated to these "civil" arms and instruments of U.S. interventionism in order to strengthen the case that points to the government of Nicolás Maduro as one that commits "human rights violations" and "crimes against humanity."

The United States strategy is to finance the construction of a custom-made case to demonize the Chavista leadership, for the purpose of in the medium term prosecuting it in international instances, such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague (Netherlands).

Institutional Damage Control

The VERDAD Act would be the first in the U.S. Congress to sanction a cryptocurrency, in this case the Petro, launched by the Venezuelan State in 2018 to underpin the country's economic recovery from its strangulation by Washington's financial sanctions.

It is a "novelty" in legal and political terms in U.S. foreign policy, in that it turns the Venezuelan Petro into a means for applying restrictions to a new international financial order on the rise, based on cryptocurrencies and challenges to the punitive control of U.S. corporate banking.

It also authorizes special financial investigations to restrict, control and seize "Venezuelan assets" that have allegedly been co-opted by the "corruption of the Maduro regime." In this way, the looting of Venezuelan national assets is legally protected, based on the false interim status of Deputy Juan Guaidó.

In addition, it establishes that individual sanctions will be removed from all government officials who withdraw their support for the legitimate government of Venezuela, thus offering an incentive for the fracture of Venezuelan institutions.

The VERDAD Act also obliges the State Department to work closely with governments allied with the United States (European Union and Latin American countries joined in the phantasmagoric Lima Group) to expand the sanctions against Venezuela.

Along the same lines, it can also be seen as a means for putting pressure on China and Russia, aimed at getting them to withdraw their support for the Maduro government in the medium term.

With the VERDAD Act the appetite for a conventional military intervention in Venezuela in the short and medium term is reduced, since it replaces the hard power route with one of soft power, using NGOs, sanctions, communications media and the National Assembly as political, economic and institutional means of combat tailored to an unconventional war.

All this only confirms the failure of the White House hawks' and Washington national security establishment's plan against Venezuela.

Seen this way, the VERDAD Act is an exercise in damage control that the War Party (the sum of the warmongers among Democrats and Republicans) is undertaking in the institutional sphere to save the U.S. empire's credibility in the face of the Venezuelan resistance.

Venezuela at the U.S. Crossroads

The fall of Chavismo was offered by these actors (Rubio, Menendez) as a "war trophy" that would immediately result in the election of Donald Trump in the strategic state of Florida, where the Cuban-Venezuelan diaspora which demands a fatricidal war against Venezuela resides.

Taking advantage of Trump's focus on the impeachment process, the Democratic Party seeks to take control of the foreign policy towards Venezuela in Congress using sanctions and economic pressure as soft power mechanisms to consummate the coup under the narrative of pursuing a "peaceful and diplomatic negotiation."

In terms of domestic policy, Florida's Democrats seek to undermine the monopoly that Republicans have exercised over foreign policy towards Venezuela since Trump's rise, offering with the VERDAD Act a "more effective" route than that of the Republican president, in an attempt to translate such a manoeuvre into hard votes against the current occupant of the White House ahead of the 2020 elections.

Consequently, Venezuela could reconfirm its role as the political centre of the continental diatribe in a stage of escalation and pressures that will be framed by the fight for the U.S. presidency.

This means that 2020 will be a year of increased pressure, where Congress and the Democratic Party's institutional war against Trump will be defining features.

For the purposes of Venezuelan internal politics, the U.S. Congress is trying to recalibrate the failure of the Venezuelan opposition.

Divided, involved in innumerable cases of corruption, delegitimized and unable to consummate the coup d'état, now the U.S. Congress comes "to the rescue", promoting these mechanisms to revive the pressures and accentuate the resources for destabilization, supporting the figure of Juan Guaidó .

Even though the VERDAD Act is projected as a triumph of bipartisanship and those involved in coup plotting against Venezuela, the internal problems between U.S. factions suggest otherwise.

This same year, the draft Temporary Protection Status Act (HR549), the Venezuela Arms Restriction Act (HR920), the Humanitarian Assistance to the Venezuelan People Act (HR854) and the Russian-Venezuelan Threat Mitigation Act (HR1477), have not prospered due to the control that Republicans exercise in the Senate.

The VERDAD Act is the last project that can be realized with the previous four having failed.

The long-term problem of the so-called VERDAD Act will be that it precludes political agreements and discretionary actions of the U.S. Executive, whether by the Trump Administration or another, from decreasing or repealing the blockade against Venezuela.

The inconveniences experienced by Barack Obama's administration in its managing of the detente with Cuba subject to the Helms-Burton Act stand out as the best example of that.

This shows how the U.S. Congress uses its power to regulate, block and reorient the actions of the Trump presidency and the coming ones, giving an air of legality to the anti-Chavista crusade.

It is a big political problem for Venezuela, given the prolongation and perpetuity of the factors of the U.S. deep state as essential elements that control the levers and discourse of the U.S. establishment, protecting its geopolitical war plans from any change in direction by the White House.

(December 20, 2019. Translated from original Spanish by TML.)

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Supreme Court Justice Rejects Self-Declared President's Attempt to Install a "Virtual Congress"

The National Assembly of Venezuela, in contempt of laws it is duty-bound to uphold, amended regulations to allow fugitive lawmakers living abroad to vote in parliamentary sessions via the Internet.

Venezuela's Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) Judge Juan José Mendoza, who is the Constitutional Chamber president, on December 19 ruled  that lawmakers of the National Assembly in contempt cannot cast their vote in parliamentary debates if they are not present in the country.

"We declare the nullity of any modification that the National Assembly in contempt has made to the norm that regulates parliamentary debates," Judge Mendoza said.

The day before, Bolivarian lawmakers, who are part of the "Homeland Block" that rejoined the National Assembly in September, asked the TSJ to annul a modification of the debate law which allows exiled or fugitive lawmakers living abroad to vote as if they were physically present in Venezuela. In response to this request, the Supreme Court judge indicated that, besides being unconstitutional, such a modification is an absurdity without precedent in comparable law.

"There is no virtual parliament anywhere in the world. All of them have physical headquarters," the judge said.

The Homeland Block also warned that this modification is part of a strategy of opposition politicians, who seek to boycott the 2020 parliamentary elections, to stay in power.

Currently, Venezuelan legal norms establish that when the absence of lawmakers occurs, their respective substitutes must assume their seats to participate in legislative actions.

In this context, the opposition-backed "Distance Voting" proposal represents an obvious attempt to prevent lawmakers from being replaced by their substitutes.

"The right-wing politicians seek to overthrow a legitimate and constitutional government. We reject intentions of violating the Constitution approved by the Venezuelan people," lawmaker Julio Chavez said.

The amendment to the internal regulations of the National Assembly in contempt was approved by the U.S.-backed lawmaker Juan Guaidó. 

(Telesur English, December 19, 2019.)

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More than 200,000 Unidentified Bodies
Found in Secret Graves

The crimes of Colombia's military during more than half a century of armed conflict are being exposed with the discovery mass graves in which unidentified bodies were dumped. The latest was uncovered on December 14 in the municipality of Dabeiba in the Las Mercedes de Dabeiba Catholic cemetery in the department of Antioquia. The newspaper El País writes: "There the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the court born of the agreements between the State and the FARC to investigate the most serious crimes of the war, is searching for the bodies of at least 50 victims of extrajudicial executions perpetrated by the military between 2005 and 2007. The Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science has so far received information about 17 cases. But the dimension of the drama of disappearances goes further. The country faces, according to calculations of this public body, the exhumation of around 200,000 unidentified bodies."

Claudia García, director of the forensic institute, pointed out that these are the staggering figures. "In recent years we have surveyed all legal cemeteries, and -- let's put it this way -- burials that are not legal in these clandestine graves, and we believe that the challenge we are facing is looking for the country's disappeared among more or less 200,000 bodies," she said on Caracol Radio. "The challenge is very great and we will have work for many years from the scientific point of view," she added, stressing the importance of the government's involvement in carrying out that task.

At present, the forensic institute is focusing on the pit found in Dabeida, first by autopsying the exhumed bodies. The team will then cross-check data with the information of relatives of missing persons, to compare genetic profiles. "We will work without interruption and by the third week of January we will have made the first steps, rather than finishing the job because it is complex," Garcia said.

The report in El País continues:

"Systematic disappearances still embody the most vivid memory of the conflict and affect thousands of families. That is why the work of institutions such as the JEP or the Search Unit is key to trying to close the wound. Extrajudicial executions, wrongly called false positives, only represent a percentage of those cases. As highlighted by the head of the Institute for Legal Medicine, it will be the investigations of the justice system that establish if they were civilians assassinated by soldiers and then presented as guerrillas killed in combat in exchange for awards and compensation. In the midst of an amalgamation of estimates on the thousands of victims of this procedure, official data offered by the Prosecutor's Office indicate that between 1998 and 2014 there were more than 2,200 executions of this type. The vast majority took place during the two terms of former president Álvaro Uribe."

Further on the newspaper writes:

"The spectre of the crimes committed in the past by the Armed Forces returned this year to shock Colombia and became again, for the first time since the signing of the peace and the beginning of the demobilization of the FARC, a central focus of the political debate. The succession of complaints -- from a directive, already withdrawn, that opened the door to a system of incentives to improve statistics in the Army, the accusations against the commander of the ground force, to the concealment of the death of minors in a bombardment of dissidents of the former guerrillas -- cost Defence Minister Guillermo Botero his job a month and a half ago. His successor, former Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, has asked to guarantee the protection of former military officers who cooperated with the JEP and whose testimony was decisive in locating this mass grave."

The newspaper quotes the JEP as saying that "preliminary indications are that these were men between 15 and 56 years old, residing in Medellín, among whom would be found people with disabilities." It concludes: "Since the proceedings began last June, the judge has heard 160 testimonies from uniformed men who voluntarily came forward to help clarify what happened. Thanks to their stories, nearly 400 victims of extrajudicial executions have been identified."

(Based on El Pais article as reported in Orinoco Tribune, December 20, 2019. Quotations translated from original Spanish by TML.)

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