July 18, 2020 - No. 26

Matters of Concern to the Polity

Growing Concern with the
Direction of the Economy

Quebec Chartwell Group Private Seniors' Residences on Strike

No to "Business As Usual" in Seniors' Care!
Private Seniors' Care Institutions Must Be Held to Account!

- Louis Lang -

United States of North American Oligopolies

Mexican President Goes to Washington

- Pablo Moctezuma Barragán -

Trump's July 3 Mount Rushmore Speech

An Obsolete Definition of Who Is a Citizen

- Kathleen Chandler -

• People Rely on Themselves, Not the State,
to Bring About Change That Favours Them

- Voice of Revolution -

The Story Behind Mount Rushmore

Continuing Protests Across U.S.

Nationwide Strike for Black Lives to Be Held on July 20
Photo Review

Hands Off Venezuela!

Inexcusable Provocation by U.S. Southern
Command in Venezuela's Contiguous Zone

- Ministry of Peoples' Power for Foreign Affairs of the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela -

• Anti-Maduro Political Garbage

- Pino Arlacch -

The Naval Siege at the Centre of U.S. Strategy Against Venezuela

- Ernesto Cazal -

Impact of the Economic War on Venezuela

- Pasqualina Curcio -

Discussion on Federal Government "Fiscal Snapshot"

• How the Problem of Public Revenue Poses Itself

- K.C. Adams -

Matters of Concern to the Polity

Growing Concern with the Direction
of the Economy

The economic crisis that exploded this year into massive unemployment, shutdowns and bankruptcies is causing great concern among the people. The current crisis follows the economic crisis in 2008-09 and the oil price drop in 2014 and subsequent upheaval in the economy in Alberta and elsewhere that the present crisis has worsened. The disquiet among the people has deepened because they have no confidence that the ruling elite in control are either capable or willing to tackle the root of the problem in the economy. A new pro-social direction and aim for the economy are required to resolve its problems.

Since the great economic crisis in the 1930s and with each subsequent crisis, those in control revert to similar responses that have proved incapable of solving problems and preventing crises from recurring. Economic crises have become "opportunities" for wealthy oligarchs to enlarge their holdings and control over the economy, wipe out smaller competitors and put working people on the defensive as they struggle to defend their jobs, terms of employment and standard of living. With each succeeding crisis, oligopolies seize more of what is considered the public good, interest, enterprise and control. Under their aegis, nation-building projects lie in tatters.

The people's consciousness of the absolute control exercised by those who own the economy has grown from the image of a company town where everyone has to buy from the company store to that of a company country where global cartels own and control all the major sectors of the economy and demand complete subservience to their will.

Merle Travis, the son of a Kentucky coal miner captured the conception of a company town in his 1946 song Sixteen Tons:

I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said "Well, a-bless my soul"

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

After reading the federal government's Fiscal Snapshot of the current crisis and thinking of all that has happened since 1946, Canadians may well sing:

We load sixteen tons, what do we get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call us 'cause we can't go
We owe our souls to the oligarchs' store

The rich have extended their reach from control of the company store to control of the global economy. No matter how many tons the working people produce, they end up more and more indebted to global private interests and with increasing real insecurity and uncertainty for their jobs, living conditions and future.

The motivation of those in control of the economy in the Kentucky mining town was to plunder the mine and fleece the miners, not to sort out the problems of a mining town and certainly not the problems of those who produced the coal and their desire for a stable life for their families in the present and future. When crisis struck, the miners paid with loss of their jobs yet still saddled with their debts to the company store. Today, the working class pays with the loss of millions of jobs, personal tragedies and stupendous collective debts to the oligarchs' store.

Today everything throughout the economy is organized to pay the rich and serve their private interests starting from the usurpation of the state and its institutions by these private interests. Governments have become arms of the private interests. They borrow from the rich; they use the money they borrow to pay the rich, to buy from the rich, to contract the rich to build this and that, and to use the value workers produce to service the debt to the rich and generally fatten their coffers at the expense of everyone else and society.

The concern of the working people is palpable. Where is all this heading? We do not want "business as usual" of cutbacks, "austerity agendas," bankruptcy protection frauds, loss of our pensions, reinvention of companies who hire back the same people at half their wages and the like. The economy goes round and round while those in authority are increasingly self-serving. They do not even pretend to resolve its problems.

The workers through their work-time on the means of production produce all the value in the economy but in the end they are individually and collectively in debt to the rich for having created the value the rich control. And now, the ruling elite are warning the people to prepare themselves for further privatization of all fields of endeavour as if this is the solution to the problems. Canadians will foot the bill to pay even more to the rich through higher taxes, privatized social programs, a lower standard of living, and insecurity in retirement.

Already consumption and personal taxes are going up. Such taxes represent a cut in wages, a loss in spending power, a reduction in the standard of living. The collective debt to global private interests is seen as a panacea and irrevocable because that is the law according to the rich where the rich get richer and the poor poorer and the cartel parties and governments do not care if it all falls apart because they have cushy jobs waiting for them with the private interests they serve so well.

Where is all this concentration of wealth and power in fewer hands heading if not to war? Canada's economy has been integrated within that of the United States of North American Oligopoly Interests. The contradictions in their ranks are such they are planning very possibly to attack Venezuela in the hopes of wiping out Cuba in the process. It is not an unlikely scenario for which they are preparing with their ridiculous accusations that the Venezuelan president and government are drug traffickers or that they are interfering with the freedom of the seas and their increasing threats to attack any ship headed for Venezuela.

Can they unite the military bureaucracy with such an attack? Not likely, but this does not mean they will not launch such an attack in their desperation to divert from the contradictions in their ranks within the country, dragging in tow Canada and its Lima Group alleging they are upholding multilateralism in another farcical coalition of the willing.

New Direction for the Economy

The narrow private interests which control the economy control the decision-making power and this has to change. Canadians must speak out to oppose the pay-the-rich schemes the government is embroiling them in.

The new direction for the economy to open a path to progress is for the value workers produce to stay in their hands to organize the economy and life in a sensible manner without crises. To demand such a direction for the economy would be a great achievement.

The immediate step needed is to step up opposition to the anti-social offensive with its inherent usurpation of the state including governments by narrow private interests. This step forward requires opposing the special police powers governments at all levels have given themselves to dictate wages, working conditions and the destruction of unions and criminalization of the workers' resistance struggles as well as taking Canada to war through NATO and imperialist coalitions which claim to defend democracy and human rights to overthrow governments or take them over. It means fighting for the rights of all on all fronts, whether against state-organized racist attacks, human trafficking, police violence and impunity, criminalization of labour and all who resist attacks on their rights, recruitment of youth to "volunteer" for imperialist projects at home and abroad and for war, and all other retrogressive programs governments are funding along with NGOs backed by shady interests. All the organizations pushed by these private interests are to make sure the peoples have no organizations of their own and, in time of crisis, they are left defenceless, at the mercy of those who do not wish them well.

Organizations which defend people's rights and claims within the situation of imperialist control and a debtors' purgatory are necessary to mobilize and energize our collective strength.

Demand a moratorium on debt servicing of government debt and make illegal state borrowing from private interests!

Organize for political renewal by setting the people's line of march against the anti-social offensive and to develop a pro-social direction.

The youth and working people are quite capable of consciously organizing and developing a political march forward to a new pro-social aim and direction for the economy on the basis of political renewal to ensure a bright future for all.

It Can Be Done! It Must Be Done!

Discussion on Federal Government "Fiscal Snapshot"

How the Problem of Public Revenue
Poses Itself

- K.C. Adams -

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Quebec Chartwell Group Private Seniors' Residences on Strike

No to "Business As Usual" in Seniors' Care!
Private Seniors' Care Institutions
Must Be Held to Account!

On July 10, workers at seven private seniors' residences went on indefinite strike against their employer. The workers are members of the Quebec Union of Service Employees (SQEES-FTQ) and include nurses and care attendants, kitchen, maintenance and housekeeping workers and employees providing various other services. The residences on strike are in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and the National Capital Region.

Chartwell's "business as usual" can be found on its website, where it describes itself as "an unincorporated, open-ended real estate trust which indirectly owns and operates a complete range of seniors housing communities, from independent supportive living through assisted living to long-term care. It is the largest operator in the Canadian seniors living sector with over 200 quality retirement communities in four provinces, including properties under development." As of June 25, 2018, Chartwell's market capitalization is CAD$3.23 billion having more than CAD$3.01 billion of assets. In 2018, the value of the enterprise is approximately CAD$5 billion."[1]

Fifteen collective agreements are being negotiated, some of which expired as long ago as December 2018. The refusal of the corporation to negotiate in good faith is not only shameless but also cruel given the conditions of the pandemic and the trauma these workers have experienced due to the fact that 87 per cent of deaths from COVID-19 have taken place in understaffed seniors' homes, most of them private.

To add insult to injury, the chair of Chartwell's board is none other than Mike Harris, who as Premier of Ontario unleashed the anti-social offensive in Canada in the 1995-2002 period. In the name of opening Ontario to business, he introduced the policy of paying the rich for the debt and deficits, undermining regulations and inspections in the name of "eliminating red tape," and attacking unions as "greedy" and an unnecessary impediment to efficiency. He opened the doors wide to the privatization of education and health care, including long-term care. He subjected the population to the Thatcherite notion that there is no such thing as "society" and social responsibility. All individuals must fend for themselves.

The strike was triggered after Chartwell systematically refused to consider the demands of its employees or to even present counter-proposals.

Picket outside Chartwell seniors' residence, July 11, 2020.

In terms of wages, workers are demanding a flat rate of at least $15 for all upon hiring and an increase of $1 per hour per year over the next three years. Many of these workers earn less than $15 an hour at present, with many attaining the $13.10 minimum wage only because they are receiving bonuses. Their wage situation is deplorable and does not allow them to live decently, nor is it conducive to retaining and attracting staff in the private retirement home sector. The situation has become particularly intolerable with employees working under the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have devoted themselves body and soul to the protection of residents, often at the risk of their own health, yet their important contribution has received no recognition at all, neither from the private owners nor from governments which permit this to happen.

"The last few months have shown how essential those working with seniors are," said SQEES-FTQ President Sylvie Nelson. "This is true not only for nurses, nursing assistants and orderlies, but also for all auxiliary services such as those working in kitchens, table service, housekeeping, reception... However the largest seniors' private residences in Quebec and Canada, the Chartwell Residences, refuses to respect its workers."

One Chartwell spokesperson shamefully declared that the strikers' wage demands are "disproportionate." "Their monetary demands exceed 25 per cent over three years, and no company can assume increases of this magnitude," she said. Showing the self-serving nature of this "business-model" of seniors' care, she made it clear that the profits of the private investors and owners would not take a hit. Any increase in wages will be passed on to the residents and their families: "We also have to consider the impact of the increases on fees paid by our residents," she said. Residents' fees are the exorbitant "rents" that Chartwell imposes on residents.

The fact is that if a wage demand as modest as the one presented by the workers represents a 25 per cent increase in overall wages, it says a lot about the ruthless exploitation these workers are facing.

Chartwell's arrogant rejection of the needs of the workers and refusal to negotiate wages and working conditions gave the union no choice other than to use its strike mandate. The SQEES-FTQ also holds an unlimited strike mandate for the fall if no progress is made in addressing the needs of the workers.

The demands of the workers address serious issues of understaffing and the imposition of minimum wages on workers who carry out essential duties to look after seniors who have no other line of defence for their well being. The neglect of workers and their working conditions in seniors' homes is the direct outcome of the greed of private owners and their motive to reap the highest possible profit. It is high time the federal and provincial governments set standards for seniors' care. They are also duty-bound to themselves create sufficient facilities for seniors at the highest standards society has attained so that people are not forced into private care, with its exorbitant costs and where they then suffer the owners' mistreatment and neglect.

Picket July 10, 2020 at Chartwell seniors' residence.

Long before the pandemic, nurses and workers and their organizations raised the alarm over and over again about the unacceptable treatment of health care workers and the horrible living conditions of seniors in their care. Neither the government nor the private for-profit corporations paid any attention. When COVID-19 hit long-term care residences far too many of these homes did not implement protocols for a pandemic situation, despite the fact that such protocols are mandatory for seniors' homes, which are repeatedly hit with the flu and contagions of various kinds.

The refusal of Chartwell to recognize the demands of the workers means that the intention of the ruling elite is to carry on "business as usual" as if this an option. To ignore the lessons learned during the pandemic is not an option! Chartwell says it cannot reap the level of profits it desires if it pays the workers what they demand and refuses to negotiate. It must not pass!

Chartwell must be made to negotiate and institute working conditions where there are enough workers, where they are full-time and they are paid a living wage.

The union has a pro-social stand against this "business-model" of seniors' care.

"We must all mobilize against this business model, which -- as we saw during the COVID crisis -- does not reflect the values of sharing and equity that drive Quebec," writes union president Sylvie Nelson. "That model consists of: buying land, constructing buildings, filling them to the brim, cutting costs down to the last penny and making maximum profit for their shareholders on the Toronto Stock Exchange. All at the expense of those -- 80 per cent of whom are women -- who, day after day, often to the detriment of their family life, ensure the well-being of our seniors. This is also done at the expense of Chartwell residents who must challenge indecent rent increases. That's not what we want for our seniors. Chartwell has a long way to go in becoming a responsible corporate citizen."

Chartwell nurses and workers deserve the full support of Canadians. Their fight is our fight! Their fight for working conditions acceptable to themselves and defence of their rights is the fight for the living conditions and defence of the rights of our seniors. These institutions based on narrow private interests must not be permitted to return to "business as usual" and governments must be held to account for permitting this. It shows the utter disregard of governments for their duty to uphold the interests of the people. It shows their utter hypocrisy about being concerned about what happened in long-term care centres during the first phase of the pandemic and they must not be permitted to get away with it. For governments to permit private interests to maintain inhuman conditions at their facilities for both residents and health care workers and professionals should be considered criminal, as are the actions of the private owners of these facilities.

The demands the workers are putting forward point to the need for the empowerment of the working people to determine their working conditions so that they are able to perform their duties and treat people with the dignity they deserve.

No to "Business As Usual" in Seniors' Care! Private Senior's Care Institutions Must be Held to Account!


1. Wikipedia: Chartwell Retirement Residences "is the largest participant in the Canadian seniors housing sector, with over 200 locations (March 31, 2020) across Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. [...] 

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United States of North American Oligopolies

Mexican President Goes to Washington

The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) spoke next to U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington on Wednesday, July 8. It was the first international visit of Mexico's head of state and it was carried out in the context of the approval of the new North American trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico, known in Mexico as T-MEC (CUSMA in Canada). Justin Trudeau had previously declined to participate in the meeting. He was not interested in talking about the Canadian renewable energy projects that were canceled by Mexico, nor about the complaints in Canada of human rights organizations denouncing the deplorable working and housing conditions of Mexican seasonal agricultural workers and the Canadian government's lack of attention to them. To date, more than a thousand agricultural workers have been infected with COVID-19 and three have died.

AMLO said they were going to celebrate the entry into force of the Agreement, which he says is a great achievement for the benefit of the three nations and their peoples. AMLO surprisingly began his speech as a member of a region and not as a representative of a country. He said: "North America is one of the most important economic regions on the planet. However, our region is suffering an inexplicable deficit when it comes to trade; we export $3,579,000,000,000 to the rest of the world, but we import $4,190,000,000,000. That is, we have a deficit of $611 billion, which translates into capital flight, fewer opportunities for companies and the loss of employment sources."

He stated that the new Agreement "specifically seeks to reverse this imbalance by further integrating our economies and improving the functioning of supply chains to regain the economic presence that North America has lost over the last five decades. Suffice it to say that in 1970 the region accounted for 40.4 per cent of world output, and now its share of the global economy has dropped to 27.8 per cent." He added that "the Agreement is a great option for production, creating jobs and fostering trade without having to go as far from our homes, cities, states and nations." So he opted for joining a regional bloc headed by U.S. corporations.

López Obrador stated, "In other words, the volumes our countries import from the rest of the world can be produced in North America with lower transportation costs, reliable suppliers for businesses and using the region's labour force. ... taking full advantage of all the region offers us as well as applying a good development cooperation policy. ... attracting investment from other parts of the hemisphere. (It should be remembered that the word hemisphere describes one half of the globe, and he did not specify which hemisphere he was referring to. North-South? East-West?).

"This Agreement makes it possible to attract investments to our countries from other parts of the hemisphere, he continued -- as long as the principles are adhered to of producing goods with high regional content and ensuring fair wages and working conditions for the workers in countries that export or import consumer goods." In this way, Mexico joined the U.S. trade war against China, along with Canada. 

It should be remembered that for centuries Mexico identified as a Latin American country. Starting in 1994 with NAFTA, the first Agreement, the neo-liberal governments from Salinas on labelled Mexico as part of North America. That first agreement led to the destruction of the Mexican economy, abandonment of the countryside, the loss of energy sovereignty and the beginning of rapacious mining in Mexico that contaminates and steals water from communities and plunders our wealth, in exchange for nothing. The first agreement marked the beginning of worldwide crime; migration and drug trafficking shot up and destroyed economic sovereignty. It was a deal between the shark and the sardine. The U.S. has a Gross Domestic Product 20 times larger than Mexico's and 10 times larger than Canada's. And this new Agreement is even worse than the first.

AMLO affirmed that the three countries end up complementing each other and that what Mexico contributes is its workforce -- good workers with a work ethic. At no time did he refer to the way these workers are treated in the United States and Canada, where they truly suffer modern slavery.

But AMLO called to put differences aside and to resolve them with dialogue and mutual respect. However that dialogue did not take place because the word "migrant" or "wall" was never heard. No respect was seen either: On July 6, a day before AMLO's arrival, to the surprise of his own people and others, Trump had proudly exhibited in a tweet four photos of himself on the Arizona wall, a symbol of segregation against Mexicans.

In those days it was reported that he would continue to try to overturn the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy (DACA) that protects 800,000 migrants who came as children to the United States and are studying. And to top it off, at the same time he attacked Chicago and New York, sanctuary cities, saying that they protect "criminals," since he wants to carry out raids against migrants. And if that were not enough, it was announced that the number of beds in migrant shelters and detention centres is going to be reduced by 60 per cent. So his phobia against migrants -- mostly Mexicans -- did not stop ahead of the Mexican president's visit; rather, he blatantly reaffirmed his anti-migrant policies.

Regarding the history of U.S. aggression against Mexico, from whom the U.S. stole more than half its territory, and against whom it is now building a wall -- something similar to what Israel is doing to the Palestinians -- the Mexican president commented, "For certain in the history of our relations we have had disagreements and there are grievances that are not yet forgotten, but we have also been able to establish tacit or explicit agreements of cooperation and coexistence." And he gave as one of his examples that during the Second World War Mexico helped satisfy the United States' need for raw materials and supported it with the labour of migrant workers, who were known as "braceros" (day labourers). "Since then and to date, we have been consolidating our economic and trade relations, as well as our peculiar coexistence, at times as distant neighbours and at other times as close friends." He did not mention that it has also been a relationship of imposition, abuse, exploitation and violence.

At another point when dealing with migration, which skyrocketed with the impositions of the International Monetary Fund from 1977 on, and with the signing of NAFTA in 1992 that drove 12 million Mexicans from the country due to the economic devastation that the first Agreement gave rise to, AMLO said it was "history, geopolitics, regional and economic circumstances which fueled migration."

"A community was formed here of about 38 million people, including the children of Mexican parents. It is a community of good and hard-working people who came to earn a living in an honest way and that has contributed a lot to the development of this great nation," López Obrador said forgetting to mention how that community of good and hard-working people is mistreated and that we are not 38 million Mexicans in the U.S., but 15 million more than this who are made "invisible" because they are branded as "illegal," and that none of their human rights are recognized for the crime of looking for work there that cannot be found in Mexico. And that they are deported after years of living in the United States, being locked in cages, separating families and ripping children from their homes.

AMLO mentioned that more Americans (one and a half million) live in Mexico and are part of our society than in any other part of the world, and concluded, "So we are united more than by geographic proximity by our various economic, trade, social, cultural and friendship ties." He did not comment on how Mexicans are treated in the U.S. compared to how Usians are treated in Mexico. 

And then he went on to praise President Trump: "Like in times when our political relations were at their best, during my mandate as President of Mexico, instead of insults directed towards me and, what I consider most important, towards my country, we have received understanding and respect from you."

And closing his eyes, he affirmed, "I believe that in the future there will be no reason or need to break our good political relations or the friendship between our governments." That is how he spoke in Washington from whence Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Palestine, Iran and China are attacked, assaulted and invaded. AMLO spoke as if he were facing a respectful, kind and considerate neighbour. He forgot that Trump had just threatened to intervene in Mexico against the "bad boys," and about the century-long history of the Yankee Empire.

He recalled that Franklin Roosevelt did not intervene openly against the Oil Expropriation of 1938 and thanked him, yes ... he thanked him for being "increasingly respectful of our Mexican countrymen," thanked him for his understanding and his help on matters of trade, of oil, with acquiring medical equipment to treat patients with COVID-19.

And going to the extreme, he expressed his appreciation that Trump has, according to him, never sought to impose anything on us that violates or infringes on our sovereignty. Claiming that he has abandoned the Monroe Doctrine, he claimed the tycoon Trump  has never treated Mexico as a colony, but "has honoured our status as an independent nation ... and has behaved towards us with kindness and respect." AMLO forgot that Trump threatened to impose brutal tariffs on Mexican goods if Mexico did not look after its southern border with its National Guard to prevent the entry of migrants from Central America, and that, in practice, Mexico has become a "third country" in charge of retaining migrants in its territory so they do not enter the U.S., and that today in the south of Mexico there is another virtual wall against migrants.

Finally, it seems that Trump and López Obrador have a common enemy: the Democrats and former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, and that they agree on revealing the crime called "Fast and Furious" in which the Obama administration sent Mexico, with Calderón's agreement, 2,000 high-powered weapons to hand over to criminal drug cartels. If this scandal breaks out, it benefits both leaders. It is not known whether deep down this was the real interest of both in meeting, regardless of the fact that in both countries the COVID-19 pandemic is at its most complicated moment.

On this trip to Washington, the current government showed that basically it follows the same line as the previous governments of the PRI and the PAN: the construction of an integrated United States of North American Oligopolies. It will be the peoples of the United States, Canada and Mexico who take charge of their sovereignty, defend the interests of the peoples and workers of the three countries against narrow private interests of the oligopolies and their governments, and construct their independent and free development, with justice, peace and democracy under the banner of "Integration NO, Sovereignty, YES!" 

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Trump's July 3 Mount Rushmore Speech

An Obsolete Definition of Who Is a Citizen

Indigenous land defenders block road through Black Hills to Mount Rushmore, July 3, 2020.

President Trump's July 3 speech at Mount Rushmore, in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, was indicative of many things, not least of which is his racist, anti-worker and anti-communist outlook. What Trump said boils down to repeating that the U.S. is the main force for equality in the world, the greatest nation on earth and that it is indispensable -- at a time many millions in the U.S. and worldwide are demonstrating just how illegitimate such claims are. Along with saying that July 4 is the "most important day in the history of nations," the speech is imbued with the denigration of the peoples of the world and their contributions. Referring to the presidents whose faces are sculpted on the face of Mount Rushmore -- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt -- Trump said:

"They enshrined a divine truth that changed the world forever when they said: 'all men are created equal.' [...]

"Before these figures were immortalized in stone, they were American giants in full flesh and blood, gallant men whose intrepid deeds unleashed the greatest leap of human advancement the world has ever known. [...]

"We will state the truth in full, without apology: We declare that the United States of America is the most just and exceptional nation ever to exist on Earth."

Besides noting the extreme chauvinism and racist spirit of the speech, at the heart of the matter is a major concern of the people of the United States: Who gets to define citizenship in the United States?

According to Trump, he gets to define who is and who is not a citizen in "his America." Despite his particularly narrow and racist definition which is rejected by everyone except a very few self-serving bigots of his ilk, the real issue is the practice in the United States where it is the state which defines the citizen, not the citizens who define the state. Ipso facto, it is not the people who define their own rights and duties by virtue of their being.

Should the being, qualities and beliefs of citizens be determined by those who have usurped the monopoly on the use of force and coercion, backed up by an obsolete Constitution and laws which seek to give this legitimacy? No, they should not. It is the people who should define citizenship and give it a content consistent with their needs and the requirements of the times in a manner which favours them.

The location of the July 3 speech and the speech itself were used to attack the mass movement which continues in the United States. It is clear that Trump is using the oft-repeated declaration that he is a law-and-order president to oppose the people's striving for empowerment. But the clash between the exploiters and the oppressed over where the country is headed, anger with the government's failures concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and categorical rejection of police violence and impunity ring ever louder. The demand for equality and accountability cannot be silenced by Trump's threats of suppression through the use of force.

Despite differences in the ranks of the ruling elite for and against Trump, each claims to represent the Constitution and under its aegis, the ruling class as a whole is eager to block the emergence of a modern conception of rights and citizenship which the people's striving for empowerment is giving rise to. Their differences are over how to appear to govern on behalf of the nation while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Differences also pertain to who they can put in the office of the president who can best give an air of legitimacy to their monopoly over the use of force. If Trump cannot do it and quell the revolt within the ranks of the elite and between the elite and the people, then they need someone who can. It is the search for such a person we see in the run-up to the Democratic and Republican Conventions, planned for August 17-20 and August 24-27 respectively, and the ongoing election campaign.The obsolete Constitution cannot help them to sort out what's what because the conditions it was devised to deal with no longer exist.

A modern conception of rights declares that all those who make up the body politic are equal members with equal rights to decide the quality and shape of that body politic. A body politic can no longer tolerate a hierarchy of privileges given out by those with the right connections. It can no longer tolerate being divided between those who govern and those who are governed, those who rule and have the monopoly over the use of force and those who are ruled and have nothing.

Repeatedly in the Mount Rushmore speech, Trump emphasized that to be considered American, one must believe in what the state decides. This means supporting the military and its wars, evidenced in part by having both the state Air National Guard and the Air Force's Blue Angels fly over. When he proclaimed July 4 as "the most important day in the history of nations," he said that "every American heart should swell with pride. Every American family should cheer with delight." Implicit is the threat that should they not, they will be dealt with swiftly and deserve whatever they get.

"Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children," Trump said. "Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities. Many of these people have no idea why they are doing this, but some know exactly what they are doing. They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive," he said.

Those standing up against state-organized racist assaults, against the slave power and its Confederacy that defended the system of slave labour, against the violence and impunity of the police and military today, are the "they." This "they" stands outside of "the American people," Trump says. On the basis of this claim, this "they" can legitimately be targeted as "the enemy." It is neither mistaken phrasing on his part, nor an exaggeration about how those who seek to give rise to a modern definition of rights are categorized. The theme is repeated throughout the speech.

"Those who seek to erase our heritage want Americans to forget our pride and our great dignity, so that we can no longer understand ourselves or America's destiny," Trump said. "We will expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation's children, end this radical assault, and preserve our beloved American way of life," he said.

The "American way of life" and "destiny" Trump and the rulers are striving to protect is precisely what is being questioned by the mass movement of unprecedented size, scope, vigour and determination. Neither Trump nor any of the pundits commenting on the speech have any intention of dwelling on the fact that this "way of life" is responsible for hundreds of years of enslavement and genocide of Africans and Indigenous peoples (that Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln all enforced) which continues to this day. It is to cover up the use of armed force against Mexico and pretend that half of U.S. territory was not stolen from Mexico. It is to divert attention from the continued and stepped up discrimination against Mexican Americans, the colonization of Puerto Rico that continues to this day and discrimination against peoples of Latin American, Caribbean and Asian origin, and the "destiny" of the U.S. as a world imperialist power responsible for untold wars, occupations, massacres and genocide on a world scale, of which Teddy Roosevelt was a major architect.

While the people are demanding that the defunct liberal institutions of governance be replaced with modern institutions which are in accord with the needs of the times, Trump also once again targeted governors and mayors who will not do his bidding. This reflects the deep divisions among the rulers and their military bureaucracy and policing agencies, as to how the U.S. can maintain its monopoly on the use of force to maintain its domination at home and abroad.

"The violent mayhem we have seen in the streets of cities that are run by liberal Democrats, in every case, is the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism, and other cultural institutions," Trump said. "My fellow Americans, it is time to speak up loudly and strongly and powerfully and defend the integrity of our country," he said.

Who are the "fellow Americans" Trump is trying to rally? Calculations put the number of people directly participating in current protests at 15-20 million. Their "America" is not the one Trump describes. What the people in the United States want is inscribed on their signs, murals and street paintings and expressed in their slogans. Signs carried in demonstrations, especially those involving immigration and separation of families, and those against police impunity show clearly that Trump's America is not the "America" of the people. While Trump's conception of "the people" is consistent with that contained in the U.S. Constitution, it is not the conception of the millions who are coming forward to speak in their own name and who represent themselves. They do not accept a polity in which those who govern represent narrow private interests and exist above those who are governed.

The rulers fear the growing consciousness that the "way of life" the elites praise -- of which Trump's is just one variant -- and the governing arrangements that protect it do not represent the people, do not serve the interests of the peoples of the world or of the U.S. The rulers have no intention of providing a new direction which provides a way forward because all of them serve narrow private interests. For the elites, the liberal democratic institutions are the end of history, the pinnacle of what human civilization has given rise to. This is why many within the ruling class who oppose Trump say he is deviating from the constitution and the liberal democratic institutions must prevail. They hide the fact that both these institutions and the Constitution are obsolete. They can no longer sort out the contradictions within the ranks of the rulers or between the rulers and the people who are demanding arrangements consistent with the times and their needs.

The people of the United States are striving to take democracy beyond the limits imposed at the time of the American revolution, the Civil War and subsequent developments. They seek to put in place a democracy of the people's own making that empowers them to govern and take the decisions which affect their lives.

Sioux land defenders and their supporters blocked the road to Mount Rushmore hours before Trump's speech, July 3, 2020, affirming that Trump was not welcome and that the Mount Rushmore monument is built on stolen lands.

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People Rely on Themselves, Not the State,
to Bring About Change That Favours Them

Longshore workers organize massive rally and march in Oakland, California to mark Juneteenth, and similar actions were organized by workers at other ports around the U.S.

People in their millions across the country are demanding that the broken liberal institutions of governance be replaced with modern institutions which are in accord with the needs of the times. To contend with this growing resistance, one aspect of the rulers' disinformation campaign in the United States is that the only role for "the people" is to appeal to the state, and its governments in place at any particular time, to bring about the changes the polity requires. People are to limit their battles to pressuring those in power to do what is right and just. However, the culture of resistance evident in the U.S., present and past, actually reveals the opposite: it was the enslaved people themselves who were the heart of winning their liberation at the time of the U.S. Civil War, fighting alongside working people south and north to eliminate the slave power and for their right to participate in the political life of the country.

The movement today, with African American workers and youth and working people from all walks of life playing a main role, is also not satisfied with reforming the old order. It is demanding fundamental changes and beginning to define what they are. Many actions are being taken in communities across the U.S. to inform and mobilize people to give expression to the changes people want. The people are relying on their own organized forces to bring about changes that favour them.

So too Indigenous peoples continue to defend their lands and fight for the recognition of their rights. Trump chose to speak at Mount Rushmore, which sits on unceded Sioux land. Wounded Knee, site of a U.S. massacre of hundreds of children, women and men in 1890, is only about 75 miles away. It is also the site of repeated FBI-organized raids against Native Americans demanding that their rights be upheld in the 1970s, including the killing of dozens of people. Organizer Leonard Peltier was framed for murder during a 1975 raid. He remains today one of the longest serving political prisoners in U.S. jails. Peltier was deported from Canada despite evidence that he was being framed under the hoax that the U.S. demand for his extradition met the requirements of the Canada-U.S. extradition treaty. The U.S. state refuses to release Peltier because he will not renounce the struggle of Indigenous peoples and continues to join in organizing efforts.[1]

The more recent struggle of the water protectors at Standing Rock, joined by people from across the country and even the world, is yet another example of the determined and undaunted quality of the resistance of the Indigenous peoples in the United States and the demand for the recognition of their rights, as defined by them, not the genocidal U.S. state.

For New Relations and a Modern Democracy

The conceptions promoted by the rulers that the state determines society and the constitution determines democracy and the democratic institutions and that these are the best in the world and eternal are promoted to hide the ensemble of social relations between humans and humans and humans and nature. They hide what these relations reveal which is the need for people's empowerment in order to open society's path to progress.

It is society, with its ensemble of human relations between humans and humans and humans and nature, that provides the basis for the state, not the other way around. The claim is made that the state is separate from and external to, what goes on in our lives. In fact, the rulers established a state which comes out on top of everyone's life and enters every aspect of life, as is abundantly clear today. Nonetheless, on the basis of the self-serving conception of the neutral, external, perfectly conceived state, the human relations existing in society are ignored. People are instead supposed to look to the state, its governments and institutions and the Constitution as the source of change.

What needs to be looked at is the direct relation people have to producing their way of life, their relations with nature and with all humans. These relations are revealing that the existing relations of power that keep the people out of decision-making must change.

The outcome of the current battles will depend on how far the people see and grasp this necessity for change, the necessity to bring about the deep-going transformations demanded by history. Trump, the elections, the disinformation that the state determines the citizen and the rights of citizenship, are designed to block even looking at this necessity for political power and for fighting for decision-making in the here and now. It is up to the people to determine what is needed, in both content and form, to provide equal membership in the body politic. Membership by virtue of being in that body politic is sufficient to be a citizen, to be that person who enjoys equal rights and duties in that body politic.

The necessity for change means that the people must arm themselves with their own way of looking at the world and all its human relations, their own outlook, politics and institutions. Only in this way can they see and bring into being a bright future for themselves as an integral part of humanity itself.

Voice of Revolution is a publication of the U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization.


1. Peltier has been part of current protests as have other political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose presence in the current movement sweeping the United States is felt in myriad ways. Abu-Jamal is a journalist and political activist framed in 1982 for the killing of a police officer in Philadelphia. He was convicted for murder, sentenced to death and after concerted struggle, condemned to life in prison. Many people, especially women, in Trump's detention camps have also expressed their support and demands through hunger strikes and other means.

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The Story Behind Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore, in South Dakota, is promoted for the carvings of the four presidents on the face of the mountain: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, said to have decided the destiny of the United States and its people. But facts are stubborn things and they tell another story.

Six Grandfathers mountain in 1905.
(National Park Service)

The mountain that was chosen for the site of the monument is known as "The Six Grandfathers" (Tȟuŋkášila Šákpe) by Lakota peoples, named after the Earth, the Sky, and the four directions.

It is a sacred place, and the land around it is unceded Indigenous territory. The seven tribes of the Great Sioux Nation never agreed to sign away their rights to this land; the Fort Laramie Treaty in 1868, which the tribes did sign, guaranteed them "undisturbed use and occupation" of the land the Six Grandfathers, or Mount Rushmore, is on.

Just nine years later, the United States government broke the treaty and violently seized the Black Hills (Pahá Sápa in Lakota) in order to mine for gold and other resources. Many attempts to hold the U.S. government accountable have been tried, including a 1970 protest where 23 Indigenous activists climbed to the top of the monument.

In 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court finally agreed with the Great Sioux Nation, ruling that the land was illegally taken, and they granted the Nation $102 million in a trust.

The trust is now worth over $1 billion, but the money has not been collected. The tribes refuse the money because to collect it would equate to a sales transaction, one that they never consented to.

Oglala Lakota Sioux President Julian Bear Runner called for the monument's removal on June 30. Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Fraizer did the same on June 25.[1]

It is not a coincidence that Trump spoke at Mount Rushmore on July 3. The sculptures of the four presidents were created by a man called Gutzon Borglum who "fretted about a 'mongrel horde' overrunning the 'Nordic' purity of the West," which is what Trump repeated on July 3. Borglum is also quoted as saying, "I would not trust an Indian, off-hand, 9 out of 10, where I would not trust a white man 1 out of 10." 

Borglum is known to have been associated with the Ku Klux Klan, "an organization which was reborn in a torch-light ceremony atop Stone Mountain in Georgia, in 1915."[2] Borglum was also hired to build a Confederate statue on Stone Mountain, named for Confederate General Stonewall Jackson which to this day remains a symbol for the KKK, defenders of the Confederacy and slave power and other state-organized racist forces. There is no proof that Borglum officially joined the Klan, which helped fund the Mount Rushmore project, but "he nonetheless became deeply involved in Klan politics," writes John Taliaferro who wrote the history of Mount Rushmore.[3]

Protests rejecting efforts to divide and divert the people and upholding the rights of all have been organized at both Mount Rushmore and Stone Mountain. Efforts are being made to rename Stone Mountain and remove the carving celebrating the Confederacy. Militant protests took place against Trump and the state-organized racist attacks and dispossession of the Indigenous peoples at Mount Rushmore on July 3.

Protest against dispossession of the Indigenous peoples on road to  Mount Rushmore,
July 3, 2020.


1. Information from Unicorn Riot article, July 3, 2020.

2. smithsonian.com

3. John Taliaferro, Great White Fathers, 2002.

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Continuing Protests Across U.S.

Nationwide Strike for Black Lives
to Be Held on July 20

"Today, in this national moment of reckoning, working people are demanding fundamental changes to America's broken system. They're coming together in the Strike for Black Lives to declare that until Black people can thrive, none of our communities can thrive." - Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Fast-food, nursing home, rideshare, farm, airport workers and many other workers will go on Strike for Black Lives on Monday, July 20, joined by thousands more who will walk off their jobs for eight minutes, 46 seconds to remember George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and other Black people killed by police, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) informs. Across the country, youth and climate activists will join in the actions, the union informs. The actions will "confront the triple threat of white supremacy, public health emergency, broken economy," the union says.

Major national labour organizations, including the SEIU, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the American Federation of Teachers, United Farm Workers, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Fight for $15 and a Union will join forces with leading racial and social justice groups like the Movement for Black Lives; the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival; March On; Future Coalition; U.S. Youth Climate Strike Coalition; Center for Popular Democracy; Jobs with Justice; and One Fair Wage.

An excerpt from the union's press release follows:

"Companies like McDonald's cannot on the one hand tweet that 'Black Lives Matter' and on the other pay us poverty wages and fail to provide sick days and adequate PPE," said Angely Rodriguez Lambert, an Oakland McDonald's worker and leader in the Fight for $15 and a Union. "We're going on strike because McDonald's and other fast-food companies have failed to protect us in a pandemic that has ravaged Black and brown communities across the country. We're going to keep joining together and speaking out until McDonald's and other companies respond with actions that show they really value our lives."

In Missouri, striking workers will rally at the McDonald's in Ferguson, followed by a march to the memorial for Michael Brown, who was killed by police in 2014. Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, a former leader in the Fight for $15 and a Union, will join strikers. In Detroit, striking McDonald's and other fast-food workers will rally with nursing home workers from across the city who will walk off their jobs to call out the industry's failure to protect its largely Black workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic and respect workers for the essential work they perform. In the Twin Cities, where Floyd was killed, striking nursing home workers will participate in a caravan that will include a stop at the airport, where they'll be joined in protest by airport workers including wheelchair attendants and cabin cleaners who are demanding $15/hr and a just and safe plan to bring people back into public and travel spaces. And in Los Angeles, striking fast-food and nursing home workers will join with Uber and Lyft drivers and Postmates [delivery] workers, janitorial, security and other workers in a car caravan that begins at a McDonald's, with stops at the LAUSD [Los Angeles Unified School District] and the University of Southern California, where they will demand the nation's second-largest school district and the University drop their use of the LAPD [Los Angeles Police Department] on campuses.

Strikes and protests will also take place in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Durham, Harrisburg, Hartford, Houston, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, New Martinsville, Oakland, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, Sacramento, Scranton, Seattle, St. Paul, Toledo, Yakima and more.

"Here in Detroit, us nursing home workers are at the centre of the COVID-19 crisis. We're putting our lives on the line every single day without proper PPE, paid sick days or safe staffing levels," said Trece Andrews, a nursing home worker from Detroit, Michigan. "Thousands of workers and residents have needlessly lost their lives. I've seen firsthand how this virus is devastating the Black community, exposing the systemic racism that has always existed. That's why I'm going on Strike for Black Lives: to demand greater protections for my coworkers, our residents and working people across the nation."

Dismantling Racist Policies

Workers are demanding solutions from government and corporations that centre communities of color and dismantle racist policies to make sure every family is healthy, safe, and secure, no matter their race, immigration status, job, or where they live. Specifically striking workers are demanding:

Justice for Black communities, with an unequivocal declaration that Black Lives Matter, as a necessary first step to winning justice for all workers.

Elected officials and candidates at every level must use their executive, legislative, and regulatory authority to begin to rewrite the rules and reimagine our economy and democracy so that communities of every race can thrive.

Corporations take immediate action to dismantle racism, white supremacy, and economic exploitation wherever it exists, including in our workplaces. This includes corporations raising wages, allowing workers to form unions, providing health care, sick leave and expanded health care coverage to people who are uninsured or have lost coverage as the result of losing their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, child care support and more, to disrupt the multigenerational cycle of poverty created by their anti-worker attacks.

Every worker must have the opportunity to form a union, no matter where they work.

"We cannot achieve economic justice without racial justice," said Mary Kay Henry, President of SEIU. "From our nation's founding, white supremacy and economic exploitation have been inextricably linked. Today, in this national moment of reckoning, working people are demanding fundamental changes to America's broken system. They're coming together in the Strike for Black Lives to declare that until Black people can thrive, none of our communities can thrive."

Why We're Striking for Black Lives

In this moment of national reckoning, working people from across the nation and allies in the interconnected fights for justice are standing together in the Strike for Black Lives.

Rev. Dr. William Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival: "We must show the nation that if you scratch a liar, you find a thief. If you scratch a racist, you find a thief who will steal health care, steal living wages and give those to corporate interests, treating corporations like people and people like things. We can't talk about racial justice in this moment without addressing income inequality. We must push toward economic uplift for everybody -- poor and low-income Black people, white people, brown people, indigenous people, and Asian people. In other words: everybody in, nobody out."

Sandra Ellington, janitor in Ohio: "Despite all this pain, I'm hopeful because this time is different. This time is a movement! People don't want to say it. I'm not shy: it's a revolution! As a mother, it got stuck in my head George Floyd's last words calling for his mother, every time I remember it my heart shatters. I think about my own son, I want him safe, seen as what he is: a human being."

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Co-Executive Director of Highlander Research and Education Center and member of the Movement for Black Lives policy and strategy tables: "Corporate giants such as Walmart and McDonald's profit off racial injustice and inequity. They claim to support Black lives, but their business model functions by exploiting Black labor -- passing off pennies as 'living wages' and pretending to be shocked when COVID-19 sickens those Black people who make up their essential workers. They do this without consequence. Our economy, both past, and present, is dependent on Black servitude, yet we are robbed of wages, health care, paid sick time, and so much more. Corporate power is a threat to racial justice, and the only way to usher in a new economy is by tackling those forces that aren't fully committed to dismantling racism."

James P. Hoffa, International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President: "We're demanding action from corporations and government to dismantle white supremacy and to ensure the health, safety, and economic well-being of every worker. This is a moment of reckoning, a chance to decide who we are as a nation. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the deadly impacts of structural racism in America's economy and democracy."

Adam Neville, National Coordinator, XR Youth U.S.: "Young people have made it clear: we will not sit around and watch our futures be destroyed in front of our eyes. We are determined to mark this moment as the turning point for justice. Returning to business as usual is complicity in the murder, freedom, and future of Black people, and our collective liberation requires all movements fighting for the protection of Black lives. The youth-led climate movement stands hand-in-hand with the Strike for Black Lives, and will be showing up in full force on July 20 because reimagining our future is our only choice."

Sonja Ogburn, Building Services Manager at Montgomery County Public Schools in Bethesda, Maryland: "Everyone should feel safe and have the right to live in this world. When we talk about justice and equality, it doesn't mean just for the rich and white, it's for everyone. And it's not just Black people fighting; folks of every race, creed, and color are fighting together."

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers: "We are living in a time of three great crises -- a health crisis, an economic recession and systemic racism, all made worse by a president who fans the flames and wants to divide, not heal. The global health pandemic, racism and the recession are exposing and exacerbating long-standing and persistent inequities. The AFT supports our sisters and brothers who are Striking for Black Lives. We cannot turn a blind eye to the deleterious impact of structural racism, and we will stand with our allies to demand justice and to build a more equitable future for all."

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Photo Review

Boston, Massachusetts

Baltimore, Maryland
Statue of Columbus is torn down, July 4, 2020.

New York City

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Columbus, Ohio

Washington, DC

St. Paul, Minnesota

National Mothers March Against Police Violence, July 12, 2020, brought together families of about 180 people killed by police from different parts of the U.S.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Detroit, Michigan
Rally and march, July 11,2020 in response to police killing that day of 19-year-old African American man Hakim Littleton.

Grosse Point, Michigan

Rally and march July 15, 2020 demands justice for Priscilla Slater, who died in police custody
a month earlier.

Lansing, Michigan

Chicago, Illinois

Richmond, Virginia

Indianapolis, Indiana

Louisville, Kentucky

A protest on the front lawn of Kentucky Attorney General demanded charges be brought against the three police officers who killed Breonna Taylor. Police arrested 87 people on Class D felony charges for "intimidating" a participant in a legal proceeding.

Recently unveiled mural honours Breonna and others who have been killed by police.

Charleston, South Carolina

Nashville, Tennessee

Atlanta, Georgia

Dallas, Texas

Houston, Texas

Austin, Texas

South Dakota

Members of different Indigenous peoples and activists block Mount Rushmore National Monument before Donald Trump's speech, July 3, 2020.

Phoenix, Arizona

Carson City, Nevada

Aurora, Colorado

Oakland, California

Ventura, California

Portland, Oregon

Seattle, Washington

(Photos: S.J. Jackson, Left Voice, Queers Nac NYC, D. Rivoli, S. Cassesse, Unicorn Riot, Becker 1999, C. Modi, Literary Mouse, V. Asparagus, D. Schuman,  16K Foundation, C. John, A. Azikiwe, S. Eckert, K. Aasa, The Most Fun Thing, S. Leibell, E. Acevedo, mlk radical, J. Miller, HR Highnews, I. McCullough, L. Dennisii, T. Fakile, C. Staard, G.A. Griggs, M.F. Goatman, irllyhatecops, beefquesorito, E.E. Barnett, T. Balagtas, C. Daly, Silver State Voices, J. Wind, S. Belle Lin, bighceese87, P. Forsyth, E. Gardner, Portland Independent Documentarians, A. Garland, eyes2future.)

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Hands Off Venezuela!

Inexcusable Provocation by U.S. Southern Command in Venezuela's Contiguous Zone

Hamilton, February 20, 2020.

In a press release on July 15, U.S. Southern Command stated that one of its warships, allegedly engaged in an "enhanced counter-narcotics operations" in the Caribbean had "challenged Venezuela's excessive maritime claim in international waters" in what it called a freedom of navigation operation. In response, the Venezuelan government has issued the following communiqué:

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela addresses the national and international community on the occasion of its denouncing of the infamous statements issued by the United States Southern Command through its official social media accounts, in which it points out that Venezuela is exercising "excessive control" over its jurisdictional waters, while the war vessel USS PINCKNEY (DDG-91) was sailing in our Contiguous Zone at a distance of sixteen point one (16.1) nautical miles from the Venezuelan coast.

The illegal entry of the U.S. vessel into Venezuelan jurisdictional waters is a clear violation of International Maritime Law and can only be described as an inexcusable act of provocation -- erratic and childish -- which is being carried out as a result of the recent visit of Donald Trump to the aforementioned military command in Florida, in his desperate campaign to attract the Latino vote in that state in exchange for permanent and illegal aggression against Venezuela.

The institutions of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, particularly its Bolivarian National Armed Forces, will ensure respect for the sacred sovereignty and territorial integrity of Venezuela at all costs according to international law, contemplating all actions deemed necessary, without falling into absurd provocations intended to affect the peace and tranquility of Venezuelans, as well as the Latin American and Caribbean peoples.

Caracas, July 16, 2020

(Slightly edited for grammar by TML)

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Anti-Maduro Political Garbage

 Pino Arlacch is a former UN Deputy Secretary and Executive Director of the UN's anti-drug program, UNODC (1997-2002). He is presently a Member of the European Parliament for Southern Italy.

The news of the accusation against President Maduro and members of his government of drug trafficking has left me speechless. I have seen many things but watching the persecution against Venezuela, I honestly did not think that the criminal association in power in the United States would go this far.

After stealing $5 billion of Venezuela's financial resources deposited in banks in 15 countries. After establishing a blockade of the entire country's economy through atrocious sanctions, with the objective of hitting the civilian population to push them to rebel (unsuccessfully) against their government. And after a couple of failed coup attempts, here is the final shot, the most infamous slander.

The coup is so out of proportion that I don't think it has any relevant consequences. Neither the United Nations, nor the European Union, nor the majority of the states on the planet that voted in favour of Venezuela's current executive and its president during the UN General Assembly last September will give the least weight to this episode of asymmetrical warfare.

Nothing will happen because there is not the slightest evidence to support the slander that Venezuela has flooded the United States with cocaine in recent years.

I have also been puzzled because I have been dealing with anti-drugs for 40 years, and Venezuela has never crossed my path. Before, during and after my position as Executive Director of UNODC (1997-2002), the UN's anti-drug program, I have never had the opportunity to visit that country because Venezuela has always been outside the main cocaine trafficking circuits: between Colombia, the main country, the producer, and the United States, the main consumer.

Except in the sick fantasy of Trump and his associates, there is no illegal narcotics trade between Venezuela and the United States. One need only consult the two most important sources on the subject, the latest UNODC report on drugs[1] and the latest document from the DEA, the U.S. drug police, dated December 2019.[2]

According to the latter, 90 per cent of the cocaine introduced into the U.S. comes from Colombia, 6 percent from Peru and the rest from unknown origins. You can be sure that if any scent of Venezuela existed in that remaining 4 percent, it would not have gone unnoticed.

But it is the UN report that provides the most detailed picture, mentioning Mexico, Guatemala and Ecuador as the places of transit of drugs to the United States. And the DEA assessment cites the famous Mexican narcos as the major suppliers to the U.S. market.

There is no trace of Venezuela on either page of the two documents. And in no other material from U.S. anti-crime agencies in the last 15 years (I know the subject very well) is there any mention of facts that might indirectly lead to the accusations being made against the legitimate president of Venezuela and against his government.

Therefore, it is exclusively political garbage, which I hope will be treated as such outside of the U.S. political media system.


1. World Drug Report 2019.

2. National Drug Threat Assessment 2019.

(TelesurTV, July 12, 2020. Translated from original Spanish by TML.)

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The Naval Siege at the Centre of
U.S. Strategy Against Venezuela

The scenario of economic-financial-commercial asphyxiation imposed by the United States government on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is one more piece of the puzzle in the strategy of unrestricted warfare it is carrying out against the Caribbean Basin country.

Specifically, it has repercussions on the navigation chart of ships that are from Venezuela or have commercial and other relations with the state and private companies. To support such a suffocating agenda, the U.S. Navy has multiple deployments around the globe, functioning as military police and mobile units stationed for naval operations and military exercises of various kinds.

"By sea we can get to the site faster, stay there longer, take with us everything we need, and we don't have to ask anyone for permission," reads the Navy's 21st Century Naval Force Cooperation Strategy.

The Pentagon's full-spectrum doctrine contemplates a privateering for itself and its most trusted allies, and a military restriction on anything sailing under Treasury Department-sanctioned flags or threatening to castrate its plans, as well as those of the White House itself.

In recent years, Venezuela has been harassed by this strategy, which, together with the blockade imposed by Washington and its consequences, and other operations in support of "regime change," have led to a siege on the high seas and the Caribbean coast.

The Main Target: the Oil Industry

Recently, Reuters reported that oil tankers with cargoes of oil ready to be marketed "have been trapped" for almost two months on the high seas due to the fact that "the world's refineries are shunning the South American country's oil to avoid falling into U.S. sanctions, according to industry sources, PDVSA documents and shipping data".

PDVSA's oil exports are Washington's main target.

At the same time that the Treasury Department blacklists ships and traders involved in the trade and transportation of Venezuelan oil, it threatens to add more to its list of "sanctioned" entities.

Reuters quotes Refinitiv Eikon data:

"At least 16 oil tankers carrying 18.1 million barrels of Venezuelan oil are trapped in waters around the world, while buyers avoid them to avoid sanctions. That's almost two months of production at Venezuela's current rate".

The agency says that some of the vessels "have been at sea for more than six months and have sailed to various ports but have not been able to unload. Oil cargoes are rarely loaded without a buyer. Those that are in the water without a buyer usually sell at a discount".

The financial burden on each tanker adds up to large losses as the daily delay in unloading oil continues. The cost of a ship carrying Venezuelan oil is at least $30,000 per day.

The oil companies that have PDVSA as a client have not been able to find a buyer as a result of the unilateral coercive measures. "Even PDVSA's long-standing clients are struggling to complete transactions that are allowed under sanctions, for debt payment or food exchange," one executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

This is a critical situation for Venezuelan exports, at a time when most oil-producing countries continue to have difficulty trading their high inventories in an over-supplied market.

All of this is helping the United States to reduce the appetite of many buyers for Venezuelan oil.

Basically what the Donald Trump government has achieved is to mount a naval siege on the Venezuelan crude oil trade, preventing the state led by Nicolás Maduro from being able to supply itself with foreign currency for essential goods and services to the Bolivarian Republic and its population, while at the same time undermining the oil industry managed by PDVSA.

That goal was clear from the outset, when Trump decided to issue an executive order last year that deepened the picture of economic, financial and trade "sanctions" against Venezuela. The latest events confirm this thesis.

A Blow to Venezuela's Trade and Technological Cooperation

A month ago, when the first ships from Iran were crossing the Atlantic to the Caribbean coast to supply the Venezuelan oil industry with gasoline and technology, U.S. spokespersons had threatened to prevent them from unloading through the harassment of Iranian cargo ships by the Navy.

But it is one thing to intimidate one country and another to do so against two, especially if one of them controls the Strait of Hormuz, the main commercial artery of oil in the world, where one of every five barrels in the world passes through daily. That is why the cargo ships arrived at their destination without any problems beyond poorly executed psychological operations.

In this case, due to the emerging dynamic in which there is a bloc in ascent that challenges the Anglo-imperial hegemony, an effectiveness subordinated to Washington's interests was not allowed in relation to the sanctioning strategy.

But what happens with other countries and companies worldwide is a very different case. Let us take, for example, the Venezuelan crude oil cargo ships that set sail for Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia or Togo, countries where the US presence is very strong and which have not been able to buy oil produced by PDVSA as a result of the unilateral coercive measures of the White House and the naval surveillance conducted in those latitudes.

It is in these cases that coordination between the Navy and the United States Department of the Treasury is necessary, albeit informally.

Due to this strategy, up until February 2020, Venezuela estimated 116 billion dollars in losses due to the blockade.


In view of the latest developments, we can conclude that the much heralded naval blockade against Venezuela sponsored by the Trump Administration has been deployed in an informal manner. It no longer functions in a frontal manner as it did in 1902, when German, British and Italian ships surrounded the country then presided over by Cipriano Castro, or even as they did against Cuba in the 1960s, when the United States determined that island sovereignty could not be erected in its "backyard."

By early April, a new phase of escalation of the naval blockade had begun with the U.S. Navy's "counter-narcotics operations" in the Western Hemisphere, opening up space for large-scale psychological operations in the Caribbean and for coordination of Southern Command forces and intelligence with Pentagon partner countries, especially Colombia and Brazil.

It is in this context that the navigation of a U.S. Navy destroyer near the Venezuelan coast last Tuesday, June 23, should also be understood, which General Vladimir Padrino López, Venezuela's Defense Minister, calls "an act of provocation."

Padrino López warned that if U.S. ship operations occur in Venezuelan waters there will be a "forceful" response from the Bolivarian National Armed Forces. "Don't dare to sail your warships in our jurisdictional waters, to carry out military operations," the general added.

Although provocations are a tactic that the U.S. naval army usually uses against its adversaries, crossing foreign maritime boundaries not only in the Caribbean but also in other parts of the world (such as the South China Sea or the Persian Gulf itself), gringo generals generally authorize this type of operation to gather intelligence and to cause concern. For which objectives: military, commercial or even both?

Without a doubt, the pressure of the Southern Command and its destroyers marauding in the Caribbean, combined with the strategy of the Treasury Department, are building an encirclement high and wide along the coasts that puts the Bolivarian Republic on alert and economically injures the majority of us who live in Venezuela.

(Misión Verdad, June 25, 2020. Translated from original Spanish by Internationalist 360°.)

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Impact of the Economic War on Venezuela

It would be impossible to count each and every one of the ways in which the war declared by imperialism on Venezuela has harmed the country. The aggressions that we, the Venezuelans, have experienced since 1999 have been not only economic; they have been psychological as well. There is no way to measure the consequences of the hate sown by the anti-democratic opposition, with its anti-socialist propaganda; it has extended to the point of burning people alive for looking like Chavistas. The outrage felt by the Venezuelan people towards those who have sold out their native land while calling themselves Venezuelan is also immeasurable.

Having said that, but focusing on the economic effects, we have updated the calculations we did in March 2019. Up to that point the economic war had caused losses that reached $125,000,000,000. We have calculated the corresponding damages for the year 2019 as totaling $68,000,000,000. Thus, the total economic losses between 2016 and 2019 were $194,000,000,000. For Venezuelans, these $194 billion are equivalent to approximately 16 months of national production. With that money we would have been able to pay off our entire foreign debt, which is $110 billion, according to the Central Bank of Venezuela. Or we could have had enough resources to import food and medicine for 45 years.

The breakdown of these losses is as follows: $25 billion corresponds to the money and assets that have been looted from us, while $169 billion represents what we have been unable to produce from 2016 to 2019 as a result of the attack on Petróleos de Venezuela SA ($64 billion) and the attack on the Venezuelan bolivar ($105 billion). John Bolton confessed in January of 2019 that "We froze all the assets in U.S. territory of the state enterprise Petróleos de Venezuela SA (Citgo). Today's measure totals $7 billion in assets blocked at this time, plus over $11 billion lost in projected earnings from exports over the next year."

According to the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the U.S. and its allies have looted $25 billion from us. They disguise this as "sanctions" while others elegantly call it unilateral coercive measures, but it is nothing more than a barefaced daylight robbery and an act of piracy. About $5.4 billion are held in 50 banks, including the 31 tons of gold that the Bank of England has retained. The assets and dividends of Citgo, amounting to $18 billion, are also included.

They have not only robbed us but, in addition, in January 2019, the U.S. State Department announced that they turned the assets, property, and goods in bank accounts belonging to the Venezuelan government over to Guaidó, meaning he has been responsible for the administration of these resources. We would like to know just how many of these dollars have been spent to protect the people of Venezuela in these times of quarantine? What is very clear to us is that $200 million of those dollars were allocated for a contract with SilverCorp for the purpose of paying mercenaries to kill Venezuelans.

With regard to the gold held by the Bank of England, we must say that the bank is required to return it to its owner immediately upon request. Now it seems, according to the English, that the owner is Guaidó, who they say is the "interim president" of Venezuela. This is such a crude robbery that no one in their right mind would believe anything so absurd. The whole world knows that it is not Guaidó who is seated in the UN General Assembly, nor in the UN Human Rights Council, nor in the UN Security Council, nor in the meetings of OPEC. Obviously he is not seated in the presidential palace of Miraflores either, nor does he give orders to the National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela.

Is it Guaidó who is confronting COVID-19 in Venezuela and coordinating medical aid and protocols with the world Health Organization?

William Brownfield, ex-ambassador of the U.S. in Venezuela, admitted, "If we are going to sanction PDVSA, this will have an impact on the entire people, on the ordinary citizen. The counter-argument is that the people are suffering so much from the lack of food, security, medicines, public health, that at this moment perhaps the greatest resolution would be to accelerate the collapse even if it produces a period of suffering of months or perhaps years."

The attack on Petróleos de Venezuela is not being done casually; it is a premeditated and precisely aimed action. Anything that affects the oil industry will have repercussions not only in the industry itself, but chiefly on the national economy and thus on the Venezuelan people.

The oil industry generates 95 per cent of the hard currency that enters Venezuela as a result of exports. The decrease of these exports, whether due to a fall in the levels of petroleum production or by a decrease in petroleum prices, affects the influx of hard currency, and thus the imports of supplies, spare parts, machinery for national production. Petróleos de Venezuela is the catalyst for our domestic production.

The price of oil fell for four consecutive years for the first time in history, making for a 65 per cent decrease. In addition, the commercial and financial blockade against Petróleos de Venezuela, the difficulty or impossibility of getting supplies and spare parts, and the financial obstacles, among other reasons, have affected petroleum production, which has decreased by 64 per cent -- going from 2.8 million barrels a day in 2013 to one million in 2019. This has resulted in a 78 per cent fall in petroleum exports, which went from $85 billion annually in 2013 to $19 billion in 2019.

Republican Virginia State Senator Richard Black admitted, referring to Venezuela, "We demonetized their currency and, through the international banking system, we made the Venezuelan currency worthless and then we go and say: 'Look how bad this government is, its currency is worthless.' Well, it wasn't them; it was us who made their currency useless." (Sputnik 09-12-2019).

The attack on the Venezuelan bolivar, a main weapon of the economic war, not only induced hyperinflation and with this the loss of the buying power of the working class, it also shrunk national production. As wage earners see their buying power diminish due to a rapid and disproportionate rise in prices, this also decreases the demand for goods and causes a decrease in production by sellers.

Since 2013, imperialism has caused a criminal depreciation of the Venezuelan bolivar by 241,657 million per cent, which has given rise to an increase in prices by 11,500 million per cent from that year to this.

Each person can come to their own conclusions about what these economic losses of $194 billion mean in terms of anguish, outrage, quality of life and lives of Venezuelans. Draw your own conclusions as well about the immeasurable level of consciousness and thus of resistance shown by the Venezuelan people who have confronted the enemies of their country with high morale and with the best of strategies: civilian-military union.

(Ultimas Noticias, July 6, 2020. Translation by Resumen Latinoamericano North America Bureau, slightly edited by TML)

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