06 October, 2006

it's a free world afterall . . . BUT ". . . it´s important that the people know what can happen if . . ."

Noam Chomsky, Latin America Declares Independence :

"Throughout the region a vibrant array of popular movements provide the basis for a meaningful democracy. The indigenous populations, as if in a rediscovery of their pre-Columbian legacy, are much more active and influential, particularly in Bolivia and Ecuador.

"These developments are in part the result of a phenomenon that has been observed for some years in Latin America: As the elected governments become more formally democratic, citizens express an increasing disillusionment with democratic institutions. They have sought to construct democratic systems based on popular participation rather than elite and foreign domination."

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". . . the Zapatistas have helped to change the homogenizing narrative of "the proletariat." While the Other Campaign is a re-vindication of class struggle, in that it is anticapitalist and looks below to "the simple and humble people who struggle" to solve the crises of Mexico, the proletariat it convenes wears Joseph’s proverbially amazing Technicolor dream coat." Left Turn

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FlashPoints has more live reports from Oaxaca.
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Ecuador's elections:

Rafael Correa, a former finance minister, has promised to shut the US military base in Ecuador, restructure the country's external debt and renegotiate contracts with foreign investors in the oil industry such as Repsol of Spain, Brazil's Petrobras, Andes Petroleum of China and Perenco of France.

While his policy platform has endeared him to voters, it has worried Wall Street and Washington - the price of Ecuador's dollar bonds has been falling with each new rise in his popularity.

Merrill Lynch downgraded the country's weighting in its model portfolio last week for the second time in a month, citing Mr Correa's growing lead in the polls.
. . .
"The political and economic elites have stolen everything from us, but they cannot steal our hope," he begins, in Quichua, the indigenous language of the highlands. "We will take back our oil, our country, our future."
. . .
After leading the polls for many months, Mr Roldós has been steadily dropping a point a week since the start of last month.

Mr Correa has also run a well-crafted campaign that has tapped into Ecuadoreans' hostility both to their own political class and to the US administration of President George W. Bush.

Ecuador's Congress, dominated by traditional parties, is widely loathed, and Mr Correa has declared war on its corrupt "partidocracy".

With less than two weeks to go until the October 15 elections, Mr Correa's support has risen quickly to 33 per cent, against 22 per cent for León Roldós, the centre-leftwinger who is his nearest rival, according to Cedatos, a respected local pollster.

Mr Correa needs 40 per cent of the vote to win outright and avoid a second round run-off in November.

. . . Polls show a slim majority of voters agree with both his opposition to restarting derailed trade talks with the US and his demand that Manta, Washington's only military base in South America, be shut.

"George W. Bush is a terrorist and a warmonger who wants to impose his will on the rest of the world," Lenin Moreno, Mr Correa's vice-presidential candidate, told the Financial Times.

Mr Correa said last week that Mr Chávez's comparison of Mr Bush with Satan was unfair to the devil.
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Nicaragua's elections:

It’s presidential election time in Nicaragua, which means that U.S. officials once again parade about making threats to Nicaraguan voters. As the country enters the final month before its November 5th elections, Congressman Dan Burton, Chair of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the House´s Committee on International Relations, threatened in a press conference that if Nicaraguans elect former president Daniel Ortega, the U.S. could be forced to cut $175 million in aid through the Millenium Challenge Account and prohibit Nicaragua´s participation in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Burton also claimed that Ortega´s promise for the state to take over remittance services would result in families earning "much, much less money"--a grave threat for the many families that depend on remittances.

As a CAFTA enthusiast, Burton hasn't a clue how exclusion from CAFTA might be heard in the countryside.

Burton´s press conference follows a clear pattern of several U.S. officials who have used veiled threats to steer Nicaraguans away from voting for Ortega, fifth-time presidential candidate. This meddling reached an extreme in Ambassador Paul Trivelli´s suggestion to fund primaries among the parties that oppose Ortega in April. In early September, Trivelli claimed that funds from the Millenium Challenge Account could be put in danger if Ortega were to be elected. U.S. officials are upping the ante in response to various polls that have placed Ortega in first place, ahead of runner-up Eduardo Montealegre, banker and U.S.-favored candidate. The opposition to Ortega, which in recent years united behind an electoral alliance in order to win the elections, is uncharacteristically divided.

The fear tactics that Burton used were an obvious attempt to sway voters away from voting for Ortega. Stating that "a return to the past…would put Nicaragua´s excellent relationship with the United States at risk", Burton reminded Nicaraguans of the war-torn decade of the 1980s, in which the US funded a counterrevolutionary force to challenge the National Sandinista Liberation Front (FSLN) government, a revolutionary group that attempted a mixed-economy government. Ortega was president of the country for the FSLN from 1984 to 1990.

Burton declared matter-of-factly, "During the 1980s, under the government of Daniel Ortega, the inflation reached 33,000%…It was a very difficult time because thousands of Nicaraguans lost their lives…it´s important that the people know what can happen if the government returns to the kind of government there was in the 1980s." By referencing this past, Burton is not only creating fear of Ortega, but also blatantly attempting to create fear of U.S. intervention in the case of an Ortega victory. Nicaraguans lost their lives and suffered run-away inflation not only due to Daniel Ortega’s policy decisions, but also because the United States funded an opposition force that created a civil war and imposed an economic blockade that crippled the Nicaraguan economy, contributing to the inflation. For a country whose war wounds are still not completely healed, the threat behind the reminder of the aggression that killed tens of thousands of Nicaraguans will surely be resounding.

Burton similarly threatened Nicaraguans with the loss of remittances, thus taking advantage of Nicaraguans’ economic desperation to bribe them into voting against Ortega. Referring to a campaign promise by Ortega to "make sure that Nicaraguans get 100% of their remittances" (usually private companies such as Western Union take out a healthy commission, hovering around 20%), Burton stated that a state-run remittance program would result in "families receiving much, much less money and a significantly reduced quality of life". Remittances are the primary source of income for many families and for the country itself, equalling 16.9% of the country’s GDP in 2005 and 99% of the total value of the country’s exports.

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Guardian:

The publisher of the Miami Herald resigned today [03.10.06], citing revelations that journalists in the group had been paid by the US government to help undermine Fidel Castro's Cuban regime.
. . .
The Miami Herald itself reported that two staff journalists and a freelance contributor from its sister Spanish-language title, El Nuevo Herald, were among those who received the payments to work for Radio and TV Marti, which is funded by the US Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

All three journalists were fired after the story broke. However, Mr Diaz said the company had offered to rehire the three and would not discipline six others it recently discovered also took payments.


In other words, responsibility has been taken (or was that US taxpayers?) and the propagandists returned to work.

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CIA Spins Spider's Web vs. Cuba, Venezuela:

As a parallel program poised to complement U.S. intelligence activities in Venezuela, the National Endowment for Democracy has distributed some $2.9 million over a four-year period for technical training in organizing of political parties and for voter education. If other Latin American experience holds true, U.S. undercover work will try to influence the media in Venezuela, a fertile field inasmuch as opposition newspapers and television stations there are far from silent. On Aug. 25, for example, a few newspapers throughout Latin America, among them La Nacion of Buenos Aires, carried an article by Simon Romero of Caracas claiming that Venezuela has collaborated with Iran in a uranium enrichment program. [cf US PsyOps: Iranian nuclear weapons for Venezuela?]

Journalists working with that paper and others told the Association of Media Professionals in Argentina that the CIA had fostered that line. They alleged that U.S. "diplomats" had offered them bribes to present the U.S. side in stories covering Venezuela's admission into the Mercosur trade group and Brazilian President Lula da Silva's bid for re-election in October. The exposé by Victor Ego Ducrotto, appearing on the Rebelion web site on Aug. 25, claimed that CIA personnel worked "elbow to elbow" with the representatives of the right-wing Inter American Press Society, based in Miami.

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