Thursday, October 31, 2013

Take Action to Support the Five

Please add your support to a major new online campaign for the Cuban Five

Voices for the Five is a major new campaigning website bringing together international personalities and campaigners from all corners of the world to call for freedom for the Miami Five. René González, other family members and international personalities including actress Emma Thomspon, former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Rowan Williams, and author John Le Carré have already signed up to this online call for justice for the Five. You can add your name alongside them today here.

It takes less than 10 seconds to add your name, and in just a few seconds more you can leave a personal message and picture, or video message too.

Visit today to see the full list of endorsers and messages from international supporters, to add your own name, and to find out how you can also attend and support the International Commission of Inquiry in to the Case of the Miami Five  at the Law Society in London on 7-8 March 2014.
“In the court we know we will never find justice. This is a political case. But we trust in the power of solidarity. Only a jury of one million people, people like you, can bring justice to these men.”
Elizabeth Palmiero, wife of Ramon Labaniño

The remaining four prisoners have been in US prisons for more than fifteen years. International campaigners need to join together today so that our voices are heard in the White House and the men are reunited with their families in Cuba.

Please add your name today and support the International Commission of Inquiry in March 2014. Here 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stopping the Tortures

From November 22-24, 2013, SOA Watch will carry their protest to the place where the killers are still being trained: the School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), a U.S. military training school for Latin American soldiers at Fort Benning, Georgia. Join social movement activists from Chile, Guatemala,Mexico, El Salvador, Colombia and from across the Americas and take a stand against the SOA/WHINSEC,U.S. militarization, and oppressive U.S. foreign policy.

The November Vigil has grown from a handful of people into one of the largest and most dynamic multi-generational annual gatherings against militarization. Thousands have been educated and mobilized to take a stand against Pentagon-driven U.S. foreign policy and to engage in nonviolent direct action. 

New layers of activists are joining the movement, including numerous youth and students from multinational, working-class communities. Thousands will converge at the gates of the SOA, where we continue to reaffirm life and our creativity in the face of Empire. We will come together as a community to mourn, resist, learn, heal, and celebrate. We need everyone’s energy and creativity. 

The ongoing repression in Honduras following the SOA graduate-led military coup, the expansion of U.S. military bases in Colombia and Panama, and the militarization of the U.S./Mexico border are grim examples of what we are up against. We must come together to reaffirm our commitment to ending militarization and injustice. We see hope as movements throughout the hemisphere are standing up for dignity and self-determination. The Syria crisis showed that the American people are decisively rejecting the “military solutions” approach of the Pentagon- driven U.S. foreign policy.

Checkout the Flyer 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Latin American Countries Put Up Front Against Corporate Lawsuits

Latin American countries are challenging rules on how to arbitrate disputes over trade agreements.
Bolivian President Evo Morales pictured with Cuba’s Raul Castro for the inauguration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, April  2013. Boliva, Cuba and Venezuela are among 12 Latin American countries to push for new rules for resolving trade agreement disputes with multinational corporations. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
A bloc of a dozen Latin American countries have agreed to take collective action to oppose a spate of crippling lawsuits increasingly brought by multinational corporations against the governments of developing countries for alleged violations of trade agreements.

Advocates of fair trade and stricter corporate accountability say the decision, taken last week at a ministerial summit in Ecuador, offers a significant precedent for a nascent movement by developing countries increasingly pushing back against what they view as unfair trade terms in investment treaties.

“It’s incredibly exciting that 12 countries have pulled together to look at what has become a very serious issue,” Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, a network of anti-poverty and anti-debt groups and a counterpart to one of the organizations that negotiated the new agreement, told Mint Press News.

“It’s not rocket science – this is about multinational corporations being able to hold countries hostage through continuous litigation, to litigate them into submission. Now, however, the space that’s being created offers ways to start to establish laws to limit this type of litigation and move to resolution.”

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Venezuela has strong words for US at UN General Assembly

Foreign Minister Elias Jaua has slammed the United States at the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), labeling Washington and its allies as “hawks of war”.

“We are here to report a kidnapping”, Jaua stated during his address to the UNGA last Friday.

“The kidnapper has many faces...but are still the same: imperialism”, he said.

Accusing Washington of violating the UN charter, Jaua called on UN member states to stand up against “leaders of the United States and those that follow blindly behind them”. Much of the minister’s speech focused on allegations of US aggression, including against Syria.

“Mr. President, Article 2, paragraph 4, of the Charter of the United Nations, exhaustive- ly expressed that members of this organization ‘shall refrain

Accusing Washington of violating the UN charter, Jaua called on UN member states to stand up against “leaders of the United States and those that follow blindly behind them”. Much of the minister’s speech focused on allegations of US aggression, including against Syria. “The Charter of the United Nations exhaustively expresses that members of this organization ‘shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or independence of any state’” from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or independence of any state’”, Jaua stated.

“However, the US President...threatens to bomb a particular country, if they don’t fulfill their unilateral demands”, he said.

Jaua further took a swipe at US support for Syria’s armed opposition movement amid international calls for peace in the civil war stricken country.

“How do some members of the Security Council of the UN think we can achieve this purpose [peace], by arming and protecting terrorist groups such as the Al-Nusra Front and Al Qaeda?”, he asked the assembly.

“Many of these groups, linked to such heinous acts as the destruction of the Twin Towers  in  this  city,  deny the existence of anyone who thinks differently to them- be they Christians, Muslims or Jews and express a particular hatred...of women”, he said.

Responding to Obama
Jaua also responded to US President Barack Obama’s ad- dress to the UNGA last week. During his speech, Obama de- fended US exceptionalism while justifying his administration’s previous calls for international military strikes on Syria.

“Some may disagree, but I believe [the United States of ] America is exceptional, in part because we have shown a willingness, to the sacrifice of blood and treasure to stand up, not only for our own interests, but for the interests of all”, Obama stated.

“Our charter of the United Nations, speaks of “equality of nations large and small”, [but] the US president said, just two days ago, that they are ‘exceptional’, that they are not the same as the other 192 countries that are represented here”, Jaua responded.

The minister described this “inconsistency” as “alarming”. “Why not consider the use of drones...which have caused [the deaths of] tens of thousands of innocent victims, including children and elderly in northern Africa, the Middle East or in regions of Asia as crimes against humanity?” he asked. “Why not apply sanctions to a government that has for 50 years held an illegal economic blockade against the Cuban people?” Jaua said.

He further criticized UN failure to establish an “independent Palestinian state”, and British  refusal  to  negotiate with Argentina over the Malvinas/Falkland Islands. “Is it because the elite United States and some of its allies are exceptional?” Jaua asked.

“Seven years ago our Comandante Hugo Chavez said that it “smells of sulfur here”, and today, unfortunately, we must say that even those considered “exceptional” are smelling of sulfur”, he said.

Maduro  Absent Due To “Security Concerns”
President Nicolas Maduro was originally slated to speak at the UNGA, but at the last minute he canceled his planned trip to New York, stating his life may have been in danger.

“There were two serious provocations, one more serious than the other, how I understand it”, Maduro stated at the time.

“As you know, President Maduro is not present in the General Assembly, due to a combination of delays, obstacles, constraints and lack of guarantees for himself and members of his delegation by the government of the United States, in flagrant violation of its obligations under the Head- quarters Agreement of this organization”, Jaua said.

According to the foreign minister, the alleged threat to Maduro was part of a long- running US campaign against Venezuela.

“Countries such as Venezuela, who have chosen the path of deepening democracy with the socialist model of organization and popular inclusion, which enables us to meet the Millennium development goals established by this organization, are constantly harassed, demonized and disrupted in our political and social stability”, he said.

Jaua wasn’t alone in his condemnation of US.

Earlier in the week, Latin American leaders from Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay and Argentina all delivered speeches condemning international aggression.

“Those who decide wars are large arms industries, the financial system and the oil companies. Plutocracy has replaced democracy”, Bolivian President Evo Morales stated during his address to the UNGA.

Washington copped further criticism from its southern neighbors the day before Jaua’s speech.

On Thursday, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) issued a formal complaint to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, alleging that Washington imposed undue conditions on international delegations heading to New York.

The complaint  describes US treatment of some delegations as “inimical and irresponsible”.

On the same day, Jaua stated that Venezuelan diplomats had been subject to extended questioning by US authorities.

In a press release, ALBA stated there is an “obvious need to discuss the possibility of changing [the location of ] the United Nations head- quarters”.

The statement also calls for “solidarity” with Syria, and condemns alleged US international spying.

Yesterday, ALBA met again, this time in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

On Monday, Maduro stated that at the meeting representatives would discuss “AL- BA’s consolidation strategy in South America and the Caribbean”.

“We need to meet to discuss economic policies, production policies, the integration of South America, how to speed up the work of the various councils in South America [and] how to expand the market for our products”, Morales said.