December 5, 2020 - No. 47
Government's Refusal to Introduce
New Direction for the Economy
Economic Statement Sets a Path
to Even Greater Indebtedness, Impoverishment and Insecurity
Canada's Foreign Policy
• What Canada Is Up To at the UN
Rutchinski and Philip Fernandez -
Despicable Role in Opposing Palestinian Human Rights
- Yi Nicholls -
Self-Serving Invocation of Holocaust Remembrance to Cover Up Crimes
- Louis Lang -
Alarming Developments in the United States
• Presidential Power Used to Attack and
Restructure Federal Workforce
- Kathleen Chandler -
• Congress Threatens Public with
Government Shut Down as COVID-19 Cases Reach Record Levels
• Election Clash Remains Unresolved
December 6 Elections
Hands Off Venezuela!
• Unprecedented Election for a New
• Letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs
- ALBA Social
Movements Canada-Ottawa Chapter -
Developments in Guatemala
• Amid Calls for Resignation, President
Seeks Support of
Organization of American States
Villagrán del Corral -
Trudeau Government's Refusal
to Introduce New Direction for the Economy
The Liberal cartel party in power presented a
Fall Economic Statement to Parliament on November 30, delivered by
Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. The
Statement contains a continuation of programs such as the commercial
rent support program for businesses and a boost to 75 per cent for the
government wage subsidy to employers for their workers with an
additional subsidy of up to 100 per cent of minimum wages to businesses
that hire young workers. The government claims these payments to
companies help workers gain employment but does not present
price of what the government calls short-term stimulus programs over
three years is estimated at around $110 billion. The projected federal
spending will push the annual budget deficit to $381.6 billion in 2021
with additional accumulated deficits totalling $270 billion by 2026.
The spending includes an additional $100 billion for which no details
With the projected annual deficits the federal
debt will soon exceed $1 trillion along with another trillion dollars
in Quebec and provincial debt. The accumulated deficits have come with
unprecedented government borrowing from global institutional
moneylenders. Government borrowing from private moneylenders is a
particularly onerous pay-the-rich practice that the Canadian people
should demand be abolished. It should be replaced with the state
borrowing from itself. The enormous debt to the global oligarchs, who
receive compound interest on the borrowed amount, has already sparked
threats in the mass media and imperialist think tanks of severe
anti-social cutbacks to make the people pay once the pandemic is
Child Care, Pharmacare and Long-Term Care Homes
programs the Liberal government was rumoured to be introducing failed
to materialize in the official statement: an early learning and child
care system (or federal universal day care) and pharmacare. It should
be noted that a policy objective for universal child care has been
associated with the Liberal Party since its "red book" of election
promises in 1993. In lieu of a national child care strategy, Freeland
appeared to ingratiate herself to Quebec by claiming that the federal
government would use the Quebec child care system as a model. Nothing
is said about the fact that this system, said to be universal, is mired
in a lack of spaces for all children who qualify. Furthermore, the
child care workers in Quebec have been protesting their inadequate
working conditions and wages for a very long time. This is typical of
the government whose statements, conclusions and decisions are never
discussed by providing evidence to corroborate what is claimed.
Regarding the desperate situation facing workers
and residents of Canada's long-term care homes, CUPE National President
Mark Hancock points out that the government's offer in the Statement of
$1 billion for the provinces to boost infection control and PPE stock
for those facilities is effectively a subsidy to those in control,
mostly private companies. "This is another piecemeal announcement that
underlines the disappointing lack of progress the federal government
has made on its promise to enact national standards for the sector,"
In fact, this federal health money with "strings
attached" is in opposition to the 1867 Constitution, which declares
health care a provincial responsibility. The Bloc
Québécois and some provincial cartel party
leaders view the "strings attached" to the $1 billion long-term care
money as a provocation. Instead they want a general increase in the
federal Canada Health Transfer so that it reaches at least 33 per cent
of total health care spending for the country. The federal government's
decades-long anti-social offensive of austerity with less spending on
health care in proportion to the population and needs of Canadians has
reduced the Health Transfer from the original 50 per cent of total
spending to around 22 per cent.
Economic Statement Does Not Reveal the Extent of
the Crisis and
Need for a New Direction
The federal government describes its Statement as
a "snapshot" of the economy but nowhere does it even attempt to reveal
and bring forward for discussion or analysis the actual conditions
facing Canadians and the necessity to stop paying the rich and increase
investments in social programs.
people the situation remains tenuous both for those working and those
unemployed with large numbers struggling to make ends meet. Many
Canadians who are working face difficulties with the pandemic at work
and in their daily lives. Governments and employers refuse to mobilize
the working class to take collective action to defend themselves and
society from the pandemic and defeat it. This refusal has made it
particularly difficult for front line workers in health care,
education, mass transit, and agriculture -- especially the thousands of
migrant agricultural workers, and in those industries where workers
work in close proximity to one another.
Statistics Canada reports the numbers of
unemployed in September remained high with 1.8 million workers looking
for work and not finding any and an additional 580,000 unemployed
workers waiting for a sign of some improvement in their prospects to
sell their capacity to work before actively looking for work. The
number of workers who have dropped out of the workforce for various
reasons also continues to be elevated especially among women.
StatCan reports low wage workers, those earning
less than $16 per hour, have been particularly hard hit during this
crisis and continue to face difficulties in finding work. StatCan says
employment among youth aged 15 to 24 remains further from recovery than
other major age groups. Female youth employment in September was still
10.4 per cent below February 2020 levels and male youth 10.2 per cent
Eight million nine hundred thousand Canadians
received a stipend of $500 per week from the Canada Emergency Response
Benefit (CERB), which began last spring and ended on October 3. The
stipend is now over but difficulties remain for many Canadians in
acquiring a living including those considered self-employed. StatCan
says, "The relatively slow recovery of self-employment -- and the
number of hours worked by self-employed Canadians -- is reflected in
the profile of those receiving COVID-19 support payments. In September,
one in five (21.8 per cent) CERB recipients were either currently
self-employed or had been self-employed in the last 12 months. The
proportion of CERB recipients living in a household experiencing
difficulty meeting its necessary expenses increased to 42.0 per cent,
up 4.3 percentage points from August."
poverty and food insecurity have all increased during the crisis with
little easing of the conditions to be seen on the horizon. This is in
addition to the personal tragedies of the many who have directly
suffered or died from the pandemic health crisis and the parallel
The government Statement says private business
investment has collapsed significantly. Reduced demand for goods and
services has left some businesses with more capacity than needed, it
says. Private business investment intentions for the fiscal year have
plunged from $180 billion to $140 billion. This amount is $60 billion
below the private investment peak of $200 billion just prior to the
collapse of oil prices in 2014.
The economic crisis has plunged the economy into a
decline as did the crises in 2008 and 2014. After the pandemic is over,
the economy is expected to stagnate and grow minimally, around 1.4 per
cent a year, with that small growth coming almost exclusively from the
stimulus immigration and the increased demand and additional work-time
and value the new arrivals bring.
Within this situation, private business demand for
government pay-the-rich programs and investments in police powers and
the war economy to serve U.S. imperialism's striving for world hegemony
are sucking public funds away from social programs and human-centred
investment. This can be seen in the pay-the-rich public-private
partnerships to build infrastructure in what the ruling elite
characterize as "green" projects, and for militarized transportation
corridors to facilitate the extraction of strategic minerals from
Canada to feed the U.S. military.
Ruling Elite Cannot Be Allowed to Sideline
Discussion on a
New Direction for the Economy
The cartel parties in government are united in
their opposition to finding a new direction for the economy based on a
program to stop paying the rich, increase investments in social
programs and to develop and build an extensive network of human-centred
enterprises with the explicit aim to serve the people, economy and
society and not the private interests of the oligarchy. The current
direction of throwing money at the rich and their enterprises has
proven in practice to be a failure.
The ruling elite
in governments, mass media and think tanks are obsessed with defending
the status quo of class privilege and the immense wealth of the few.
Instead of pouring public money into the private hands of the rich,
many ask why not begin a discussion at least on a new direction to
serve the people. The working class is ready for something different
than this crisis-ridden economy. Some even in the small business sector
would be willing to discuss a new direction where their talents and
energy could be channelled into something constructive and stable both
for themselves and the economy and people, a direction that would
tackle and solve many of the problems plaguing the country and its
economy and social and natural environment.
Not many would disagree that the country needs
universal early learning centres, better and truly free and universal
health care and education for all, housing and other social programs
and services. Why not pour the billions now being spent on pay-the-rich
schemes and the U.S. war economy into building human-centred
enterprises in strategic locations throughout the big cities and in all
the smaller and medium-sized cities? Those human-centred enterprises
accountable to the people would be dedicated to solving social and
natural problems, achieving self-reliance in the economy and meeting
the needs of all and their security.
Human-centred enterprises could be built in
campus-style settings with early learning to grade twelve facilities,
long-term care centres, post-secondary colleges and universities,
recreation and cultural facilities for all ages with centralized
cafeterias with acclaimed chefs knowledgeable in all styles and types
of food. The campus could be connected with app-assisted mass transit
and distribution coordinated with nearby residents. Children,
workers and cooked food could be safely transported each day from the
campus to housing in the area in an organized way.
The campuses could be associated with
human-centred manufacturing enterprises accountable to the people to
produce essential and other commodities in a self-reliant way that
pours the new value workers produce back into the local regions and
economy and trades with others Canada-wide and globally for mutual
benefit, friendship and development.
Problems have to be taken up as they present
themselves and extensive discussion engaged in to build public opinion
for a new direction that solves problems. The cartel parties and the
rich who do not want their class privilege and status quo disturbed
should not be allowed to sideline the people's discussion of a new
direction and the necessary practical steps to be taken.
The key problem
that presently exists is political namely the institutional and
constitutional disempowerment of the people. Out with the
Old, in with the New! should become a slogan. The current
outmoded political system dominated by the cartel parties and
imperialist media block discussion and any movement towards democratic
renewal. Working people have to confront this problem of disempowerment
in an organized fashion with a clear conscience and determined actions
with analysis that build public opinion towards constitutional and
institutional renewal that favours the people. Out with the Old! March
towards the New with confidence in your capacity to meet the challenges!
Canadians should denounce and reject with contempt
the mind numbing, discussion destroying, diversionary statements, and
empty platitudes and policy objectives of the Trudeau government and
others in the cartel parties. They are a disservice to the people and a
block to opening a path forward. A modern society deserves and demands
The people themselves must shape the modern world
consciously. The watchword is to learn warfare through warfare and for
this to happen a path must be opened to discussion and actions with
analysis that reject all that is moribund, decrepit and corrupt. Enough
of these recurring economic crises, mounting social and natural
problems and a political block on the people from taking action in
their own interest. Working people must step up their efforts to
challenge the rich oligarchs and their servile vassals by holding high
their claims on what belongs to them by right and refusing to accept
Democratic renewal is the order of the day.
Empower yourself now! Problems can be solved; the modern socialized
economy can be made to serve the people without crises and war! The
social and natural environment can be humanized!
The time is now to organize, discuss and fight for
a new direction for the economy and politics! It can be done!
Canada's Foreign Policy
Canada is up to no good at the United Nations
where it is very active in promoting imperialist definitions of rights
and cajoling countries to adopt those definitions of rights under
threat of retaliation by imperialist financial, military and political
institutions. Canada's aim is to push through a restructuring in the
field of international relations in a manner which serves
U.S. imperialist interests.
The appointment of the tried and true point man of
the Anglo-Canadian state, Bob Rae, as Canada's Ambassador to the United
Nations is for purposes of achieving these nefarious aims. Undaunted by
its failure to be elected to the Security Council, Canada's
announcement of Rae's appointment was accompanied with much ado about
his being a champion of multilateralism, human rights and peace. A
briefing note from the Prime Minister's Office described Rae as a fine
choice to "continue to engage our international partners and promote
the Canadian values of peace, freedom, democracy, and human rights as
we move forward in a time of global uncertainty."
Deeds, however, provide clarity as to what Canada
stands for when it comes to "values of peace, freedom, democracy, and
human rights." Canada's foreign policy is based on the domination of
the world by the western imperialist system of states, led by
Anglo-American imperialism and using NATO as the enforcer. The policy
is not new, based as it is on a narcissistic resuscitation of the
self-serving doctrine called "middlepowerhood" promoted as the guide to
Canadian diplomacy in the service of U.S. imperialism in the Cold War
Rae fits right in as a trusted champion of
Anglo-American imperialism. His track record on matters which continue
to be of concern reveals very well that there is nothing remotely
progressive about what Canada is up to.
In 2004, Rae supported Canada's involvement,
together with France, in the U.S.-led coup in Haiti and overthrow of
the popular democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide government.
With true gangster logic, Rae said it was Aristide's "ineffectiveness
and gross corruption" that led to the coup that overthrew his
government, not the illegal intervention by the U.S., Canada and France.
Rae is an ardent
Zionist and an unabashed supporter of Israel's abuse of its
responsibilities as an occupying power consistently standing against
the Palestinian people's rights. He served on the steering committee of
the "Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism" convened
in 2009, which sought to undermine the rights of the Palestinian people
by criminalizing and silencing those who oppose Israeli crimes against
the Palestinians by branding them anti-Semites.
It is noteworthy that regarding Gaza and the
Occupied Territories, which have been turned into the world's largest
open-air prison and where crimes against the peace and against humanity
are committed every day by the Zionist state of Israel, Canada and its
UN Ambassador have nothing to say! Nay more, this year Canada is
actively opposing the investigation of Israeli war crimes and crimes
against humanity by the International Criminal Court. This is Canada's
"human rights" agenda in action!
In 2010, Rae allied with the Harper government to
support an increased military deployment in Afghanistan. He opposed a
scheduled Canadian troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and called for
Harper to "see this through."
In 2011, Rae was the Liberal Party's Foreign
Affairs Critic in the Parliament. He called for regime change in Libya
and supported Canada's participation in the savage NATO bombing which
destroyed that country and unleashed the violence, instability and
insecurity that has since spread southward to Mali and across the Sahel.
When Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez
died in March 2013, Rae tweeted his "condolences, and hopes for
democratic future." When President Nicolás Maduro was
elected by the people of Venezuela in 2013, Rae called for Harper to
impose tougher measures against Venezuela. As recently as January 2020,
he added, "Chávez and Maduro have abused their power
terribly, impoverished their people and created the greatest
humanitarian and refugee crisis in modern Latin American history. The
romanticization of their regime and ideology is a disgrace."
Canada is using "middlepowerhood" and a
long-standing foreign policy in favour of multilateralism to protect
Anglo-American imperialist interests, under the leadership of the
United States and backed by NATO "hard power," cobbling together
"coalitions of the willing" as necessary.
In a CTV interview in July, Rae put it this way:
"The basic fundamentals of how we approach life, how we approach
politics, how we approach international relations, those foundations
are strong," he said, "And I don't want to see us throw any babies out
with the bathwater."
The recent Halifax International Security Forum,
which Canada helped fund and once again played host to, had a special
session on the role "middle powers" can play, including a topic "Go
Canada!" The Forum also unveiled a so-called Handbook for Democracies,
entitled China vs Democracy: The Greatest Game,
"While the United States remains the free world's
natural leader, alliances and partnerships among democracies will be
different than those of the twentieth century. Reimagining democratic
alliances that are fit for the 21st century is the most urgent task of
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at
the Nixon Library this past summer, put it this way: "The challenge of
China demands exertion, energy from democracies -- those in Europe,
those in Africa, those in South America, and especially those in the
Indo-Pacific region. And if we don't act now ultimately the CCP
[Chinese Communist Party] will erode our freedoms and subvert the
rules-based order that our societies have worked so hard to build. If
we bend the knee now, our children's children may be at the mercy of
the Chinese Communist Party, whose actions are the primary challenge
today in the free world. [...] So we can't face this challenge alone.
The United Nations, NATO, the G7 countries, the G20, our combined
economic, diplomatic, and military power is surely enough to meet this
challenge if we direct it clearly and with great courage."
Canada is an instrument of precisely these
reactionary politics at the UN: "reimagining democratic alliances that
are fit for the 21st century," at the expense of the UN itself if
necessary; conspiring with like-minded "international partners" to
block nations from pursuing their own nation-building projects; and
turning UN forums into battlegrounds against those considered rivals,
are all par for the course.
In an October 23 Globe and Mail
interview, Rae alluded to the kind of "reimagining" Canada has in mind.
"Sovereignty," he said, "is not the only principle recognized in the
[UN ] Charter, and over the last 70-odd years we've created, not only
the Universal Declaration, but a number of institutions to focus on
human rights." He accused Russia and China of "making a strict
interpretation of the UN Charter" to pit "sovereignty" against "human
rights." Rae must have in mind the imperialist Responsibility to
Protect (R2P) thesis, which Canada crafted and which the U.S. and NATO
use to run roughshod over the UN Charter. For example, R2P was used by
Canada to justify the destruction of Yugoslavia and Libya.
Just ahead of the Halifax International Security
Forum this year, Canada joined a group of 39 countries organized by the
United States to accuse China of "human rights violations" and
"genocide" against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. Britain presented a
joint statement to this effect. As Canada's Ambassador to the UN, Rae
stated that he could not produce evidence to substantiate the claims,
but called on the UN Human Rights Council to investigate to see if
something could be found.
The UN has already substantiated evidence that Canada mistreats
Indigenous nations. Would Rae support a "colour revolution" to
bring about "regime change" in Canada and inspire covert terrorist acts
in Canada as is done against China? No discussion is permitted on the
basis of the UN system which recognizes all countries as equal, big or
small, based on sovereignty. Adding doctrines like R2P in the
name of protecting human rights is a pragmatic and unjustifiable move
which destroys the principled basis of international relations to
permit crimes against the peace.
As for peace and
upholding the principles of the UN Charter, at an October 24 Security
Council meeting regarding Syria, Rae turned truth on its head, accusing
Russia of prolonging the conflict in Syria by using its veto against
further U.S. intervention. The war in Syria was begun by U.S.
imperialism, Canada and other NATO allies in violation of the UN
Charter. Terrorist bands inflicted huge damage upon the people of
Syria, under the watchful eye of a U.S. and NATO occupation. This
includes the so-called White Helmets, private military contractors
Canada pays for and protects under cover of a humanitarian agency. The
U.S. has even outright seized control of Syrian oil reserves but Canada
presents discussion of any substantive issues as taboo. It is
past-master at creating mechanisms which make sure no discussion takes
Just this past week, on November 27, more than 70
countries at the UN called for an immediate end to unilateral coercive
measures -- i.e., sanctions and embargoes which the U.S. primarily has
imposed on various countries. Such measures were condemned as a
violation of human rights and the sovereignty of nations, particularly
in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada however did not
participate or pronounce its opposition to unilateral coercive measures.
These are but some of the latest examples of what
Canada is up to at the UN under Bob Rae's stewardship. Attempts to
"reimagine" alliances that fit the U.S. imperialist agenda for the 21st
century are unacceptable. They exist in the heads of those who do not
want to accept reality as it is. They think that the conditions which
have far outstripped their 19th century games still prevail.
Afghanistan remains as elusive as it was then and to charge into the
Valley of Death like the Light Brigade did is just as disastrous a
course today. It is pathetic that Justin Trudeau, Chrystia Freeland and
Bob Rae have not learned that duty, today, is not to "King and
Country." It is to the peoples of the world and the well-being of the
natural and social environment. It is for the realization of the
peoples' cause for peace, freedom and democracy in the 21st century.
Going up against a force 6 billion-strong is not only openly foolish;
it is reckless indeed.
Giovanni Botero, a mayor of Milan in the 15th
century, defined a "middle power" as an actor with sufficient strength
and authority to stand on its own without the need for help from
others. Since then, the concept of middle power has been consistently
mentioned in the field of international relations. The "grading" of
state actors first became a subject of diplomatic debates at the peace
settlement of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. It was then that a class of
middle powers was formally recognized, among them the states of Germany.
The concept of middle powers received serious
examination in the final stages of World War II in relation to Canada
and Australia. The two countries tried to find ways of enhancing their
influence based on their contributions to the Allies. At the early
stages of the establishment of the United Nations, Canadian Prime
Minister Mackenzie King insisted that middle power countries should
co-operate with each other, with an eye to securing their influence in
international society, suggesting the concept of "Middlepowerhood" in
1944. In Australia, Minister for External Affairs Herbert Evatt
discussed the concept of middle powers with a view to secure his
country's national interest in a new world order after World War II.
Since then, the concept of middle power has become a trademark of the
foreign policy of the two countries.
Critical Review of the Concept of Middle Power" by Dong-min Shin,
E-International Relations, December 4, 2015.)
2. In 1942, Canadian diplomat Hume Wrong
emphasized that international society should respect Canada's role as a
middle power in three functional criteria: extent of involvement,
interest, and ability.
The behavioural perspective holds the view that a
country is a middle power if it plays certain roles considered as those
of a middle power or if it identifies itself as such. Professor Andrew
F. Cooper and his colleagues proposed that pursuing multilateral
solutions to international problems, preferring compromise positions in
international disputes and embracing notions of good international
citizenship constitute the typical behaviour of a middle power.
The third approach is the hierarchical perspective
which ranks and categorizes states by applying standards relating to
their capabilities. It tends to use statistical indices for
categorizing countries such as size of territory, GDP, the volume of
trade and foreign currency reserves, population, and number of
soldiers. Countries with medium-range capabilities are grouped as
middle powers, and great powers and weak powers can be categorized in
the same manner.
February 1, 2020. Montreal demonstration stands with Palestinian people
against U.S. so-called Deal of the Century.
On November 19, Canada voted along with 162 other
countries in favour of a draft UN resolution affirming the Palestinian
right to self-determination. The resolution emphasized "the right of
the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to
their independent State of Palestine" and "stressed the urgency of
achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in
1967 and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement between the
Palestinian and Israeli sides," based on a two-state solution.
passed 163 to five with 10 abstentions. In addition to Israel and the
U.S., the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Nauru also voted against the
resolution. Australia, Cameroon, Guatemala, Honduras, Kiribati, Palau,
Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Togo and Tonga all abstained.
In previous years Canada voted with Israel against
the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination but for the
second straight year, prompted by the U.S. Secretary of
State's decision last year to reverse the position of the State
Department's legal opinion that deemed Israeli settlements to be
illegal, it voted for the resolution. At the same time, it voted
against 15 other resolutions affirming Palestinian rights, all raising
substantial issues which relate to the implementation of the first
Canada is playing games unworthy of any country
which claims to stand for rights. In fact, for the past 20
years Canada's voting record on Palestinian issues has moved
consistently in a direction which defends Israel's violation of its
duties as an occupying power. This trend coincided with then Prime
Minister Paul Martin's appointment of the Zionist Irwin Cotler as
Minister of Justice. This was followed by the adoption of extremist
Zionist positions by the Harper government, which the Trudeau Liberals
are continuing to implement. Trudeau's appointment of the self-avowed
Zionist, Bob Rae, as Canada's Ambassador to the United Nations is par
for the course and also reveals the path Canada has chosen in
international affairs, to take up every reactionary
counterrevolutionary cause which pushes the U.S. as so-called
indispensable nation while claiming to be humanitarian and the greatest
defender of peace, democracy and rights.
past week the Trudeau Government named Irwin Cotler as Canada's
"Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting
Anti-Semitism." It is well known that Cotler has been advocating
internationally on behalf of the International Holocaust Remembrance
Alliance whose definition of the "new anti-Semitism" labels any
criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. To reward with this appointment
the despicable activities of Cotler and his attacks on the struggles of
the Palestinian people and their supporters around the world for basic
human rights is a clear indication that the pretense of the Trudeau
Liberals of being on the side of human rights and freedom in defence of
the Palestinian people is hollow.
The vote on the resolution affirming Palestine's
right to self-determination took place on the UN's Third Committee
which, each year, considers a package of 16 resolutions on important
issues facing the Palestinian people. The resolutions, listed below,
now go to the UN General Assembly for debate and vote in plenary
session in December. Click on the abbreviated titles below to see more
Resources: "Permanent sovereignty of the
Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including
East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan
over their natural resources"
In brief: Brings attention to the inalienable
rights of the Palestinian people and of the population of the occupied
Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land, water and
energy resources, and demands that Israel stops damaging or exploiting
"The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination"
In brief: Reaffirms the right of the Palestinian
people to self-determination, including the right to their independent
State of Palestine.
"Assistance to the Palestinian people"
In brief: Calls on the international community to
increase humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians.
Practices: "Israeli practices affecting the human
rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,
including East Jerusalem"
In brief: Demands that Israel stops violating
international law in the occupied territories, and calls for
international protection of the Palestinian civilian population.
"Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including
East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan"
In brief: Reaffirms that Israeli settlements are
illegal and an obstacle to peace, and urges UN member states to
distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between Israel proper and its
Geneva: "Applicability of the Geneva Convention
relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War,
of August 12, 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory,
including East Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories"
In brief: Reaffirms that the Geneva Convention is
applicable to Israel's occupation, and urges Israel to comply with the
provisions of international law.
Committee: "Work of the Special Committee to
Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the
Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories"
In brief: Tells the UN's "Special Committee" on
this issue to continue to investigate Israeli policies and practices in
the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Properties: "Palestine refugees' properties and
In brief: Reaffirms that Palestinian refugees are
entitled to their property, and asks the UN to protect Arab assets and
property rights in Israel.
"Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East" (UNRWA)
In brief: Recognizes the work of
the UNRWA, which is the agency responsible for Palestinian
refugees, and urges the international community to support it.
Persons 1967: "Persons displaced as a result of the
June 1967 and subsequent hostilities"
In brief: Reaffirms the right of all persons
displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities to
return to their homes or former places of residence in the territories
occupied by Israel since 1967.
Assistance: "Assistance to Palestine refugees"
In brief: Extends the mandate of
of East Jerusalem: "Jerusalem"
In brief: Condemns Israel's occupation of East
Jerusalem as illegal, calls for a just and lasting solution that takes
into account the legitimate concerns of both Israelis and Palestinians,
and calls on all parties to respect the historic status quo in regard
to holy places.
Settlement: "Peaceful settlement of the question of
In brief: Calls for a comprehensive, just and
lasting peace in the Middle East, calls for Israel to withdraw from the
Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem,
and urges the international community not to recognize any unilateral
changes to the pre-1967 borders.
Info Program: "Special information program on the
question of Palestine of the Department of Global Communications of the
In brief: Extends the mandate of the "special
information program on the question of Palestine," which is undertaken
by the UN Secretariat's Department of Global Communications (formerly
the Department of Public Information (DPI)). Under this program, the
department collects, archives, and distributes extensive information
about Palestine, including related UN activities.
"Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat"
In brief: Renews the mandate of the UN
Secretariat's Division for Palestinian Rights, which monitors
developments in Palestine, organizes meetings and events, and maintains
the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine
"Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian
In brief: Renews the mandate of the Committee on
the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The
committee was established in 1975, and has a mandate to promote the
realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. It
organizes meetings and events and has a variety of information and
To see the UN Dashboard on Canada's voting
On November 25, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
named Irwin Cotler Canada's "Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust
Remembrance and Combatting Anti-Semitism." The announcement
from the Prime Minister's Office stated: "With a longstanding record of
leadership in the fight against racism, anti-Semitism, and hate, and
extensive experience in human rights and justice including in cases
related to mass atrocities, Mr. Cotler will lead the Government of
Canada's delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
Canadians cannot accept the statement from the PMO
as it is full of contradictions and not based on facts. The pretentious
claims of fighting against hate and intolerance, and defending human
rights are being used by the Canadian government to cover up the fact
that its main priority has been and continues to be the defence of
Israeli Zionism. As far as Mr. Cotler is concerned, the claims of his
"extensive experience in human rights and justice" does not stand up to
Far from fighting racism and anti-Semitism,
Trudeau's appointment of Cotler serves to further promote his
activities internationally advocating for the "new anti-Semitism"
movement which seeks to label criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. As
one of the main backers of the Canadian government's labelling of the
Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian human rights
as anti-Semitic, Cotler has also shown his disregard for human rights.
As head of Canada's delegation to the IHRA, Cotler
has the government's approval to pursue the campaign to implement the
IHRA redefinition of anti-Semitism. The IHRA already has a long track
record of suppressing the voices of Palestinian human rights supporters
around the world and seeks to extend the definition to silence more
The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is as follows:
"Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews,
which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical
manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or
non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community
institutions and religious facilities."
Two of the activities that the IHRA alleges to be
anti-Semitic behaviour are:
"Claiming that the existence of a State of Israel
is a racist endeavour," and
"Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli
policy to that of the Nazis."
Cotler attempts to justify the need for this new
definition by claiming that a new form of anti-Semitism exists. In a
2010 item for the National Post, Cotler stated:
"In a word, classical anti-Semitism is the
discrimination against, denial of, or assault upon the rights of Jews
to live as equal members of whatever society they inhabit. The new
anti-Semitism involves the discrimination against, denial of, or
assault upon the right of the Jewish people to live as an equal member
of the family of nations, with Israel as the targeted collective Jew
On November 30, Trudeau said that Cotler "will
support advocacy and outreach efforts with Canadians, civil society and
academia to advance the implementation of this definition across the
country and its adoption internationally."
This entire argument is self-serving and dishonest
because Zionism, which is a state ideology, is being attributed to
Jewish people as a whole. It is doubly dishonest because these
so-called defenders of the right to self-determination do not have a
word to say about the ongoing violation of the human rights of the
Palestinian people other than to label their just struggle as terrorism.
Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) is documenting
examples in several countries where the IHRA definition has been used
-- or attempts have been made -- to cancel events or silence Palestine
As Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human
Rights, Cotler has further exposed himself as an apologist for
imperialist violations of the sovereignty of nations in the quest for
world domination. Under the guise of defending human rights and the
Chairmanship of Cotler, the Wallenberg Centre is actively promoting the
imperialist doctrine of "responsibility to protect" (R2P), which is
being used to justify regime change and foreign interference against
any country which does not submit to imperialist dictate.
In an article co-authored by Cotler, published by
the New York Times on February 28, 2011, titled
"Libya and the Responsibility to Protect," he says:
"The situation in Libya is a test case for the
Security Council and its implementation of the [R2P] doctrine. Yet it
remains the case that, as the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, put
it, 'loss of time means more loss of lives.' The Security Council must
do more -- and fast. It is our collective responsibility to ensure
[R2P] is an effective approach to protect people and human rights.'"
It is now well known that many of those "mass
atrocities" of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, so vehemently condemned
by Cotler, were nothing but fabrications designed to justify military
aggression which resulted in the wholesale destruction of Libya by the
U.S. and NATO member states including Canada.
Now, Cotler continues to play his nefarious role
trying to justify U.S. imperialist ambitions in Venezuela. Foreign
Policy magazine carried an article co-authored by Irwin
Cotler on February 6, 2019, titled, "Recognizing Juan Guaidó
as Venezuela's Leader Isn't a Coup. It's an Embrace of Democracy." Once
again Cotler poses as the saviour of the people against what he calls
"Maduro's brutal and criminal assault on the liberal democratic order,"
and says U.S. imperialism is justified to use any means necessary to
"transition to democratic governance."
The appointment of Cotler comes as crimes are
being committed against the Palestinian people in the occupied
territories, especially in Gaza, where for the past 14 years the people
have suffered continuous bombing and military attacks against civilians
by the Israeli Army. Israel has turned Gaza into the largest open air
prison in the world where over 2 million people are under attack and
forced to live in inhuman conditions.
These barbaric acts are being condemned by people
all over the world and Israel is desperate to divert attention from its
responsibilities as an Occupying Power and from its continuous
construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land. An Occupying
Power is required to provide public
safety, sufficient hygiene and public health standards, as
well as the food and medical care to the population under occupation.
Collective punishment, regularly carried out by Israel, is prohibited.
With the passing of the "Nation State Law" Israel
has become an officially discriminatory state on the basis of religion
and Israel's policy of systematically destroying Palestinian houses in
East Jerusalem while building illegal settlements in the occupied
Palestinian territories, one of the methods of ethnic cleansing it has
used since 1948 to drive Palestinians off their lands. These criminal
acts and violations of international law are what Irwin Cotler will
continue to try to cover up and he will use his position as Canada's
"Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance" to turn truth on
its head to suggest that the Zionist state is the victim of
This must not be allowed to pass! The Canadian
government brings shame on itself by invokingthe memory of the European
Holocaust to justify inflicting such suffering on the Palestinian
Furthermore, to associate Cotler's name with
Holocaust Remembrance is an insult to Holocaust survivors and their
families whose suffering is being used to promote the same
unbridled racism and obscurantist mentality of the Zionists
which has caused so much oppression and misery in the past.
According to its website, "The IHRA (formerly the Task Force for
International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and
Research, or ITF) was initiated in 1998 by former Swedish Prime
Minister Göran Persson. Today the IHRA's membership consists
of 34 member countries, each of whom recognizes that international
political coordination is imperative to strengthen the moral commitment
of societies and to combat growing Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.
"The IHRA's network of trusted experts share their
knowledge on early warning signs of present-day genocide and education
on the Holocaust. This knowledge supports policymakers and educational
multipliers in their efforts to develop effective curricula, and it
informs government officials and NGOs active in global initiatives for
"The Declaration of the Stockholm International
Forum on the Holocaust (or "Stockholm Declaration") is the founding
document of the IHRA and it continues to serve as an ongoing
affirmation of each IHRA member country's commitment to shared
"The declaration was the outcome of the
International Forum convened in Stockholm between January 27-29, 2000
by former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson. The Forum was
attended by the representatives of 46 governments including: 23 Heads
of State or Prime Ministers and 14 Deputy Prime Ministers or Ministers.
"Their vision has remained intact, unaltered
throughout the ensuing years, demonstrating its universal and enduring
IJV document can be found here.
National State Law is the main legislation that bases rights on
religion. These are the three main points of the law:
i) The "right to exercise national
self-determination" in Israel is "unique to the Jewish people."
ii) Hebrew is Israel's official language. Arabic
-- the language widely spoken by Arab Israelis -- is reduced to a
iii) It recognizes "Jewish settlement" as a
"national value" and mandates that the state "will labour to encourage
and promote its establishment and development."
The most recent application of the Nation State
Law was in Karmiel. The newspaper Haaretz carried
the following report on December 1, 2020:
"In November 2020, using the law as justification,
the Israeli magistrate's court ruled that Karmiel is 'Jewish city' and
that Arabic-language schools or funding transport for Arab
schoolchildren are liable to alter city's demographic balance and
damage its character, essentially blocking access to schools for Arab
children in the northern city of Karmiel. The court implied that
facilitating this access would incentivize Palestinian Arab citizens of
Israel to move into the city, thus damaging its 'Jewish character.'"
A Haaretz editorial discussing
the ruling stated: "The nation-state law has legalized racism and
Jewish supremacy, and allows the state to discriminate against Arab
citizens in order to keep them from living where they choose under
equal conditions, thus deepening ethnic segregation in Israel."
Alarming Developments in the
In October, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an
executive order calling for perhaps hundreds of thousands of federal
workers to be re-classified in a manner that would basically render
them "at-will" workers. It allows the executive to fire the workers
without cause or recourse, hire without regard to existing contracts
and standards, and deny other protections. They would also be denied
union representation. All federal workers considered to be serving in
"policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions,"
are to be reclassified into this new "excepted service" hiring
authority, called Schedule F. President-Elect Biden has so far not said
if he will try to rescind the executive order.
Trump called on department heads to identify all
such workers no later than January 19, the day before he is scheduled,
at this point, to leave office. On November 23 it was reported that the
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will reclassify 88 per cent of
its workforce (425 workers) to Schedule F. While OMB is relatively
small, it plays a significant role in proposing and managing budget
affairs. The change gives the president greater authority in such
matters. Generally the process is being fast tracked and the Energy
Department is also said to be moving quickly to reclassify workers.
The executive order makes clear that the aim is to
remove existing barriers to the executive arbitrarily hiring and firing
federal workers, including senior workers: "To effectively carry out
the broad array of activities assigned to the executive branch under
law ... requires that the President have appropriate management
oversight regarding this select cadre of professionals. [... A]gencies
should have a greater degree of appointment flexibility with respect to
these employees than is afforded by the existing competitive service
process. [...] Agencies need the flexibility to expeditiously remove
poorly performing employees from these positions without facing
extensive delays or litigation."
The action is a direct takeover by narrow private
interests of the civil society arrangements. It is an attack on the
unionized federal workforce, removing agreed practices for hiring and
firing and performance standards. It also serves as a threat to all
workers and imposes downward pressure on their working conditions. As
is occurring more generally, a contract is no longer a contract, and
service is no longer for the public good.
Federal workers have protested the executive order
and called on Congress to block it. The President of the American
Federation of Government Employees, the largest union for federal
workers covering 670,000 workers said: "This is the most profound
undermining of the civil service in our lifetimes. The president has
doubled down on his effort to politicize and corrupt the professional
service. This executive order strips due process rights and protections
from perhaps hundreds of thousands of federal employees and will enable
political appointees and other officials to hire and fire these workers
at will." The National Treasury Employees Union, which includes the OMB
workers, has filed a lawsuit saying the Executive Order is illegal as
it supersedes existing law.
The process involves the heads of the many
government departments deciding which workers fall into the new
category. Their recommendations are then sent to the Office of
Personnel Management (OPM) which has the final say. However the
definition for what constitutes "policy-determining, policy-making, or
policy-advocating positions" is not provided. A memo issued by the OPM
giving guidelines states: "Neither the U.S. Code nor judicial
precedents precisely define these terms in the context of their
statutory usage." It then repeats the generalizations provided in the
executive order, which are very broad. They include any worker
conducting "collective bargaining negotiations," "viewing, circulating
or otherwise working with proposed regulations, guidance, executive
orders, or other non-public policy proposals or deliberations,"
"substantive participation in the development or drafting of
regulations," or "substantive policy-related work in an agency."
Participation in any one of these would mean reclassification. The OPM
could authorize firings even before January 19, based on
recommendations from department heads.
Commonly the vast civil service bureaucracy
remains in place from one administration to the next. This includes,
for example, most of the 760,000 civilian workers at the Pentagon and
many of the 240,000 at the Department of Homeland Security. The
executive order is not simply creating an "at-will" workforce. It is
also restructuring this bureaucracy so that it is unstable and,
according to the self-serving calculations of those mandating this
executive order, less of a force for the executive to contend with. It
also serves to remove the memory an established workforce carries with
it in regard to standards for themselves and for governance more
generally, including those for accountability.
There are currently proposals in Congress not to
fund the executive order, though that is not likely to prevent various
department heads from moving forward with it or block the start of
Letters have been sent to Congress opposing the
executive order. They bring out its restructuring quality and
strengthening of the executive power. Speaking to hiring and firing
protections, one letter states that current arrangements "do not exist
for the sake of the civil servants themselves, but rather to ensure the
government delivers services insulated from undue political influence.
They ensure continuity of government through changing administrations,
preserving institutional knowledge and expertise within the government.
They safeguard the rule of law, protecting employees choosing adherence
to the Constitution rather than political party. The need for Congress
to act is urgent, especially as we are in the midst of a transition.
Failing to act will set a dangerous precedent, signaling congressional
indifference to a substantial expansion of executive power. The
executive order upends a longstanding legislative framework that
ensures a nonpartisan civil service -- a framework that assures the
laws Congress passes will be implemented as written, and the funds they
appropriate will be disbursed as directed. If Congress remains silent,
it indicates acceptance not just of this executive order, but of future
administrative actions to dismantle the legislative framework
supporting a nonpartisan civil service."
President Trump's mission as president was to
break the bonds of existing governing structures and rule of law at
home and abroad, following Obama's deportations and drone warfare.
Trump's actions with child detention camps at the border, repression of
demonstrators using federal forces, and more recently disregard for
transition norms are just a few examples. He has consolidated a
government of police powers by eliminating limitations on these police
powers and applying them more openly at home, as well as abroad. The
more the executive concentrates the monopoly of the use of force in his
hands, the greater his ability to act with impunity, which is to be
considered "normal." The executive order is one such example of
attempting to broadly attack the federal workforce and restructure it
in a manner that favours executive police powers. It is part of
destroying even the concept of a civil service dedicated to serving the
public good -- something made all the more obvious as many of these
workers are critical to providing needed health and welfare services
during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All of it shows that workers in every walk of life
and field of endeavour must create new forms of organization and
resistance given that everything the president is doing is not outside
the Constitution. It is crucial to not permit the space for change to
be occupied by arch reactionaries who are hell-bent on turning the
entire workforce over to narrow private interests, accountable to no
To avoid a government shutdown on December 11,
the U.S. Congress now has less than a week to pass either their giant
$1.4 trillion omnibus budget bill or a stop-gap continuing resolution.
In conditions where COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths
are at record highs, the inability of Congress to pass a budget is a
horrific threat to the public. Hundreds of thousands of federal
workers, many critical to providing health and welfare services, could
be laid off and services in general curtailed.
The National Defense Authorization Act,
which provides $740 billion yearly for war, has also not passed. It has
readily passed for the past 59 years, every year with large majorities
-- an indication of the common support among the rulers for U.S. wars
of aggression and interference abroad.
There has been no
progress on providing funds for COVID-19 relief. Failures on all fronts
underline that conflicts among the rulers remain unresolved and that
service to what constitutes "the public" and the conception of "public
good" and what constitutes "public interest" are obsolete.
The dysfunction serves to underscore that the
concentration of arbitrary power in the Office of the President is also
not solving problems. Trump's threats to veto bills is a main factor in
the current confrontation and reflect his efforts to strengthen
executive powers over budget matters. He has threatened to veto these
three bills before Congress dealing with budgetary matters if they do
not include his demands. Even Senate head Mitch McConnell, a key Trump
ally, drew this conclusion -- speaking to Congressional representatives
McConnell said, "I like to remind everybody that the way you get
results is, you have to have a president's signature." In 2018 Trump's
refusal to sign the budget bill triggered the longest government
shutdown to date.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard
Shelby (Alabama) indicated December 2 that a "stop-gap" continuing
resolution looks likely for the budget. A "stimulus" bill may also be
included in such a measure. However the White House has said it will
not guarantee Trump will sign such a bill and avert a
A new proposal for $908 billion in "stimulus"
funding is now being discussed, far less than the $2.2 trillion passed
in a House bill but not debated in the Senate. The new proposal does
not include any direct funds for individuals, $300 instead of $600 per
week for extended unemployment funds and none of the related funds for
protective gear and testing. McConnell and the White House are calling
for only $332.7 billion. Budget bills had been a means to divide public
funds among the contending monopoly forces to lessen conflicts --
another mechanism that no longer functions.
For the National
Defense Authorization Act, a 4,500-page "conference
report" which reconciles the Senate and House bills and allows for no
amendments, has now been released. It is expected to pass both Houses
this coming week. It reflects differences, including within the
Republican coalition, on issues like maintaining troops in Germany and
Afghanistan, renaming military bases honouring Confederate Generals and
the use of unidentified federal forces against demonstrators. Trump has
continued to say he will veto it.
Another issue Trump has raised is eliminating a
portion of a federal law known as Section 230. It protects companies
like Facebook and Twitter from liability for posts by their users.
Conflict over how and whether such internet giants should remove or
censor content, or mark it as "in dispute," has increased with the
election conflict and Trump's repeated claims of fraud. The conference
report does not eliminate Section 230 and Republicans are saying "230
has nothing to do with the military." Senator Jim Inhofe (Oklahoma),
the Republican Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said it
was not part of the bill. This is an indication that alliances within
and between Democrats and Republicans and Congress and the president
operate more like coalitions -- both contending and coalescing -- and
are fluid rather than fixed.
Whether or not one or another
of these bills passes, the dysfunction of Congress and the usual
mechanisms for resolving conflicts -- such as dividing the budget, and
the election itself -- remain. COVID-19 relief for the public is
urgent. But in terms of politics and political relations of governance
-- which include public needs and provide for negotiations to reach
settlements -- there has been nothing since the Coronavirus
Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) back in
March. Even agreement on ensuring that $455 billion in remaining funds
from the CARES Act reach the public is not possible. Add in Trump's
efforts to further undermine Congress as a legislative body while
usurping more power for the presidency and it is evident that the
existing set-up can only bring more crises and dysfunction. It is the
people, left out of the equation in all these conflicts, who are
decisive in bringing about the changes needed for new governing
institutions that put the people and their rights, at home and abroad,
at the centre.
President Trump still refuses to concede. The
main battleground states, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and
Nevada, have all certified the vote. Enough other states have done so
to officially give Biden more than the 270 Electoral College votes
needed for election. Even so, Trump released a 46-minute video on
social media claiming fraud.
"This is probably the most fraudulent election
that anyone's ever seen," Trump said. Saying that the results should be
overturned and that the Supreme Court should intervene, he added:
"Hopefully, they will do what's right for our country because our
country can't live with this kind of an election."
Trump has also said he will not participate in
Biden's swearing-in on Inauguration Day, a significant part of the
traditional "peaceful transition" of power. Whether he will leave
office without conceding or take action of some kind to declare a
national emergency and block the transition remains to be seen.
While Trump has
persisted, others in his administration have conceded. Attorney General
William Barr said the Justice Department had uncovered no evidence of
widespread voter fraud that could change the election outcome.
Christopher Krebs, Director of the Department of Homeland Security's
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, also voiced
confidence in the integrity of the election. Since being fired by
Trump, he has said in public appearances, "The American people should
have 100 per cent confidence in their votes," and that Trump's claims
are "farcical" and "nonsense."
The majority of Republicans in Congress have said
nothing, while also accepting Congressional elections as valid. Trump
has attacked Republican Governors and Secretaries of State, such as
those in Georgia and Arizona, for certifying their elections in favour
of Biden. Both Governors had been supported by Trump.
In Georgia the situation is particularly complex,
as two run-off elections for U.S. Senators take place January 5.
Trump's allies in the state have used language like "treason" against
the Secretary of State and said election officials should be shot or
hung. Still people are supposed to get out and vote. One of the
lawsuits by Trump's allies is blocking election officials from
preparing voting machines for the January 5 election. The Governor and
Secretary of State have asked the court to allow them to proceed but no
ruling has occurred. All of this creates an irrational situation for
The many contending authorities at the federal and
state level have created a situation where not only do the results
remain in dispute but the entire process has been discredited.
Certification, for example, has made clear that a handful of people
from the Republicans and Democrats decide whether to certify or not.
And final certification still rests with Congress on January 6. Trump
is evidently going to continue until then, even though the slates
certified for the Electoral College in Biden's favour meet December 14.
The results are then forwarded to Congress. It remains to be seen if a
government shutdown will take place on December 11, a very real
possibility, and how this impacts that vote.
To speak of
treason is civil war talk and a violent outbreak remains possible. It
appears though, that with forces like Barr conceding and top level
businessmen demanding it, the rulers will succeed in preventing that
for now by getting Trump to leave office, whether he concedes or not.
Biden, however, still lacks authority. Because of this and the
usurpation by the presidential authority of matters the Constitution
allots to states, conflict and contention will remain, not only between
state and federal authorities but also within and between the president
and military and civilian bureaucracy. Forces on all sides are still
talking about treason.
Whatever their conflicts, the ruling oligarchs all
act to keep the people out of power and the rich in power. Reforms
being suggested are all in this vein, trying to restore credibility to
the election process while keeping intact the basic fraud that this
process actually keeps the people out of power and does not reflect
their interests and drive for a pro-social, anti-war direction for the
country. The elections have further revealed that it is the existing
relations of power that must be changed and it is the people
themselves, through their many fights for rights, that are organizing
to bring this change about.
December 6 Elections in
December 5-6 Pickets:
Results of Venezuelan Elections Must Be Respected
On Sunday, December 6, the Venezuelan people will
elect a new legislature. There are 20.7 million registered voters in
Venezuela entitled to go to the polls to elect members of the National
Assembly. There are 14,400 candidates from 107 political organizations
presenting themselves for election. In spite of the international
campaign spearheaded by the U.S., Canada and the European Union to
discredit that country's electoral process, Venezuela will follow its
constitutional process to the letter.
Unfortunately, Canada heads the reactionary
organization called the Lima Group. This organization is inspired by
the U.S.-led secret agencies and think tanks plotting to overthrow the
Bolivarian nation-building project so as the impose U.S. hegemony over
TML Weekly calls on Canadians
to demand that Canada uphold the democratic decision-making process of
the Venezuelan people and respect a verdict which is reached, without
foreign interference and fraud.
December 3, 2020. Mass rally in the streets of Caracas as the election
campaign draws to a close.
The election being held December 6 was called in
keeping with Venezuela's constitution, which requires that a new
National Assembly be elected before the term of the current one expires
on January 5, 2021.
The National Assembly is one of five independent
branches of the state. Its role includes passing legislation
and constitutional reforms, approving public budgets, auditing and/or
removing public officials and ministers, approving international
agreements, appointing the public powers -- such as rectors of the
National Electoral Council and Supreme Court judges -- and authorizing
any deployment outside the country of the National Bolivarian Armed
Forces and inside the country of foreign military missions.
There are 20.7 million registered voters and a
total of 277 deputies, 111 more than in the current legislature, to be
elected. Forty-eight of these will be elected on a new national list
system and 96 on regional lists, both via the D'Hondt proportional
representation method. There will also be 130 deputies from 67
geographical constituencies elected through a first-past-the-post
system and three Indigenous deputies chosen by their communities. All
will serve for five years, from January 5, 2021 to January 5, 2026.
International observers inspect Venezuelan
Voting will take place using new
domestically-built electronic touchscreen machines. In March of this
year over 49,000 voting machines -- almost all of the country's supply
-- were destroyed in an arson attack on the warehouse where they were
being stored. After an individual votes using the touchscreen, the
system prints a paper ballot showing their selection(s), which the
voter can verify before depositing the paper in the ballot box. The
voter then signs and leaves a fingerprint in a record book, making it
extremely difficult for fraud to be committed. The paper ballots can
also be compared to electronic tallies in an audit of the results.
Venezuela's voting system is widely regarded as one of the most
technologically advanced, transparent and reliable in the world.
The election is being conducted in keeping with
World Health Organization biosafety guidelines. Face masks will be
mandatory for voters and officials and there will be sanitizer at all
voting stations. The touchscreen machines will be disinfected after
every vote. The Bolivarian Militia are charged with seeing to it that
physical distancing protocols are maintained inside and outside polling
places, and electoral staff are required to test negative for COVID-19
before assuming their duties.
The President of the National Electoral Council,
Indira Alfonzo, announced this week that over 200 international
electoral observers from 34 countries, along with the Council of Latin
American Electoral Experts, will be involved in monitoring the vote.
The European Union declined the invitation to send an observer mission
after conditions it attempted to impose, including that the election be
postponed, were not accepted by Venezuela.
December 4, 2020. International observers in Venezuela to monitor the
The U.S. government -- with support from both
Republicans and Democrats -- has been actively interfering in this
election as part of its unrelenting regime change agenda. On top of its
brutal economic sanctions and theft of the Venezuelan people's
resources, it has sanctioned more officials of the Venezuelan
government and two officials of the National Electoral Council,
including its president, Indira Alfonzo, accusing them of "election
interference" for refusing to allow Venezuela's constitution, laws and
sovereignty to be set aside so the U.S. can decide for Venezuelans what
a "free and fair" election looks like!
The coalition of U.S.-backed opposition parties --
referred to as the "G4,'' which includes Juan Guaidó's
Popular Will party, along with Justice First, Democratic Action and A
New Era -- are predictably boycotting the election and calling on
Venezuelans to do the same. However sections of some G4 parties have
rejected the boycott campaign and are participating in the election
with candidates, clearly fed up with their leaders' preference for
violent coup attempts over elections and support for the U.S. economic
war against their country. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on five of
these opposition leaders who broke with the G4, accusing them of
"complicity" with the government.
In sync with the U.S. imperialists, the Trudeau
government continues to disgrace itself by singing the praises of the
hapless Juan Guaidó, referring to the U.S. puppet as the
"legitimate" president of Venezuela interested only in "restoring
democracy" in the country, despite overwhelming evidence to the
contrary. Canada also reflexively declared the December 6 election to
be "illegitimate," as it has every other election since the last
parliamentary election in 2015, which a coalition of opposition parties
won with a large majority. That opposition-controlled National
Assembly, whose term is coming to an end, is the only branch of the
Venezuelan state Canada considers "legitimate" even though one of its
first acts was to defy a Supreme Court order to suspend three deputies
accused of vote buying. After that the National Assembly went on to
pass laws deemed unconstitutional, leading the Supreme Court to declare
it in contempt of the law, and render its decisions null.
From the outset, the opposition coalition engaged
in one illegal manoeuvre after another to try to oust President
Nicolás Maduro from his elected position. When that failed
the Assembly became a base for creating the fictitious "interim
presidency" of deputy Juan Guaidó as the U.S and Canada
attempted to foist an illegal parallel government on the Venezuelan
people. It was also used treacherously to promote the U.S-led economic
war against them, which Canada and the EU are also part of.
Stakes are therefore very high in the December 6
election. There are 107 political parties and an unprecedented 14,400
candidates vying for seats in an enlarged National Assembly. The
parties are grouped mainly in five blocs. One is the Great Patriotic
Pole, comprised of the governing United Socialist Party (PSUV) plus
seven other parties. Another alliance of parties, the Popular
Revolutionary Alternative, also identifies as Chavista and part of the
Bolivarian Revolution. Anti-Chavista opposition parties, unable to
unite in a single coalition this time, are divided among three separate
December 3, 2020, Caracas.
The opposition faction headed by Guaidó
and Leopoldo López recently announced that along with
boycotting the election it will hold its own "popular consultation"
from December 6-12. These gangsters who were behind at least two failed
attempts to install themselves in power through a violent coup
d'état, and who have all along supported the murderous U.S.
sanctions, are asking Venezuelans, including those living outside the
country, to answer three survey questions: Do you demand the end of the
usurpation of the presidency by Nicolás Maduro and call for
free, fair and verifiable presidential and parliamentary elections? Do
you reject the event of December 6 and ask the international community
to ignore it? Do you demand that the necessary steps be taken before
the international community to activate cooperation, accompaniment and
assistance to rescue our democracy?
But the Venezuelan people have not resisted every
manner of perfidy and hardship, even at the cost of their lives, to
defend their Bolivarian Revolution only to do an about-face and agree
that the solution to the country's problems lies in handing over
control of its institutions and resources to self-serving local and
foreign oligarchs so they can advance their own private interests at
the expense of the Venezuelan nation and people -- a
counterrevolutionary neo-liberal agenda these elements have tried but
so far failed to impose by force.
To the contrary, the organized people of Venezuela
have shown themselves to be staunch defenders of their right to
self-determination and sovereignty, the international rule of law, and
the right of all peoples to live in peace, solving their differences
politically rather than through war and coercion. The example of
elections in Venezuela, along with those of Colombia, Bolivia,
Argentina and Ecuador, among others, are providing the peoples of Our
America with profound lessons about the need for the peoples to acquire
political power to be able to exercise their sovereignty. The U.S.
imperialists and their toadies, like the Trudeau government, will never
recognize any result which does not permit them to do whatever they
want in a country and to a country. They are past masters at
engineering colour revolutions, constitutional coups and all manner of
brutal acts, such as took place in Bolivia during the year of the coup
they engineered in that country, and which continue in Haiti, Honduras,
Colombia and other countries thanks to their criminal use of
subversion, interference, assassinations and other mostly covert
methods to undermine any attempts of the people to exercise their
sovereign decision-making power.
Canadians stand as one with the people of
Venezuela and sincerely hope the results of the December 6 elections
favour them. No to the interference of the U.S. imperialists, the
Organization of American States and Canada's bogus Lima Group
and all other "multilateral" fora used as platforms to attack the
Bolivarian revolution and the nation-building project of the people of
The following letter was sent to
Canada's Foreign Minister on December 5 demanding that Canada respect
the results of the Venezuelan election.
Elections to choose a new enlarged National
Assembly are underway in Venezuela and will be held on Sunday, December
6, 2020. A total of 107 political organizations are running for 277
Parliamentary seats for a five-year term beginning January 5, 2021.
Fourteen thousand, four hundred candidates campaigned, taking the
necessary precautions against COVID-19. More than 20 million citizens
are eligible to vote.
New electoral authorities have made an effort to
secure an ample international mission to oversee the election,
including the UN, CARICOM and the African Union. The European Union has
turned down the invitation after its demand that the vote be postponed
was rejected by Venezuela on the grounds that it is constitutionally
bound to hold the elections before the end of 2020. More than 300
invitations have gone out to international personalities and regional
multilateral organizations to observe the elections. The electoral
process will be subject to 16 audits witnessed by party representatives
and international observers.
In spite of a terrorist arson attack which
destroyed 99 per cent of Venezuela's electronic electoral machines,
these have been replaced by 49,539 new, more modern machines designed
in Venezuela by Venezuelan technicians.
No sooner were elections in the offing than U.S.
authorities stated that they will not recognize the elections, even
before they are held. Juan Guaidó, former National
Assembly President and self-proclaimed "interim president" of
Venezuela, called for a boycott and rejected the
elections. Guaidó also called for "street
violence," which -- as the experience of the Venezuelan people shows --
means acts of violence committed against the Venezuelan people and
infrastructure. His calls are being rejected by the vast majority of
opposition parties. The latter question the extremism of factions of
the opposition who call for abstentions and promote sanctions against
the country to advance their political agenda. Most opposition
formations are defending the electoral route as the only valid means to
resolve political differences. Furthermore, Washington has levied
sanctions against certain of these opposition leaders who decided to
participate in the electoral process. On September 22, the Treasury
Department sanctioned five opposition leaders, accusing them of
"complicity" with the government.
The object of this letter is to call upon the
Canadian government to dissociate itself from all these condemnable,
anti-democratic and illegal activities against Venezuela. What possible
reason could there be for Canada not to recognize the Venezuelan
December 6 elections? We call upon the Canadian government to side with
democracy, the rule of law and respect for the sovereign decisions of
the Venezuelan nation, free from foreign interference and aggression.
Developments in Guatemala
November 21, 2020. Rally in Plaza de la Constitución.
Thousands of Guatemalans are still in the streets
demanding the resignation of conservative President Alejandro
Giammattei, whom they accuse of not allocating sufficient resources to
combat poverty and inequality, while he continues harsh repression and
has invoked the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
Approved in 2001, this charter implements a series
of measures to restore democratic order in the nations that invoke it,
and to guarantee respect for fundamental human rights. Giammattei added
that he had communicated with the Secretary General of the Organization
of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, to ensure dialogue, and
expressed his openness to an inclusive negotiation that would lead to
an understanding between sectors of society.
The situation of great political instability
erupted after a huge popular demonstration held on November 21 in the
historic part of Guatemala City, the capital, ended with numerous
incidents and the burning of part of the building where the Parliament
November 21, 2020. Fire at legislative building in Guatemala City.
There are suspicions that it was a planned
operation by the government to undermine the legitimacy of the
protests. Those who assaulted the legislative building were dressed in
black and carried sticks to break the building's windows,
but they were not arrested by the police present at the scene,
according to the Guatemalan newspaper El Periódico.
suspicion arose from the fact that the Congress was not fenced off, as
it had been hours before the budget was approved. Political and social
references in the country expressed that the vandalism to the
Parliament was intended to discredit the legitimacy of the huge
demonstration, which took place in a general climate of tranquillity
until the violent attack by the police.
According to official figures, one in two children
under five in the country suffers from chronic malnutrition, and almost
60 per cent of the Guatemalan population lives below the poverty line.
The president announced that the acts of protest
are but a means through which minority groups are attempting to carry
out a real coup d'état. In an earlier statement, the OAS
recognized the right to protest, but spoke out against the vandalism
denounced by authorities, which has been denied by spokespersons for
The Alliance for Reforms, which brings together 40
social organizations, demanded the resignation of Interior Minister
Gendri Reyes, following the repression of November 21. The
vice-president, Guillermo Castillo, who had distanced himself from
Giammattei and demanded his resignation, asked the public prosecutor's
office to investigate the burning of congressional offices as well as
the police repression.
November 28, 2020.
The approved budget leaves ample room for
corruption -- a deeply entrenched evil in the country -- because it
does not stipulate appropriate control mechanisms to ensure the proper
use of resources, granting more resources to ministries that have been
the focus of huge irregularities in recent years, such as
Communications, Infrastructure and Housing.
The protest on November 21 left at least 15
demonstrators and 12 police officers injured, and more than 30
detained. Police repression extended to several departments of the
Congress approved loans of more than $3.8 billion
to address the pandemic, but barely 15 per cent of those resources
reached Guatemalans. COVID-19 has left nearly 120,000 people infected
and over 4,000 dead in this country of 17 million inhabitants.
The Reason for the Protests
Congress, made up mostly of the ruling
party and related parties, approved a budget of nearly $12.8 billion
for 2021, a 25 per cent increase over this year. Most of the funds are
directed to infrastructure with the private sector and do not provide
for increases for health or education, or for combatting poverty and
Congress also designated about $65,000 for meals
for deputies, something that outraged the population because at that
time Hurricane Iota was entering the country and causing destruction,
leaving poor communities cut off and without food -- communities
already affected by the recent passing of another powerful hurricane,
Eta, which left 59 dead and almost 100 missing.
This all occurred in a context in which hospitals
are without medicines, doctors without pay and the numbers affected by
the pandemic are rising. The economy has suffered, tens of thousands of
people have lost their jobs and the price of food and other goods has
For this reason, calls were given to demonstrate
in various squares across the country, including the "Plaza de la
Constitución" (formerly Central Park), demanding the
resignation of the president and the congressmen, an end to corruption
and the cancellation of the 2021 budget. But thousands of placards
demanding a Constituent Assembly were also carried.
November 21, 2020. Protest in Antigua.
The questions are repeated: Are we on the verge of
another cycle of protests similar to that of 2015, when massive
demonstrations against the corruption of the government of Otto
Pérez Molina and Roxana Baldetti occurred? Will it reach
levels of violent confrontation?
What is clear is that there is a feeling of anger
and indignation against the government, which was expressed in various
ways (peaceful and violent), while it cannot and does not wish to
respond to citizens' demands and is attempting to use the OAS to
"democratically" repress the people.
Gerardo Villagrán del Corral
is a Mexican anthropologist and economist, associated with the Latin
American Centre for Strategic Analysis (CLAE).
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