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Lefty OBAMA,helping FBI coverup,starting CIA secret torture sites,hurting labor..oh yeah real lefty

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Obama Opposes Min. Wage Increase In Samoa Due To Harmful Effects, Will He Do The Same For U.S.?

Just wondering, wouldn’t the same economic reasoning, evidence, and analysis that motivated President Obama to sign legislation freezing the minimum wage because of its harmful effects on Samoa’s economy also apply to the U.S.? Can we count on President Obama to veto the “Minimum Wage Act” for the harmful effects it would have on the American economy?

Full Article » http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=40397

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Bold and Daring: The Way Progressive News Should Be

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The news that former governor Don Seigelman has been sentenced is, to me, another indictment of Obama. Siegelman was wrongly prosecuted by a Karl Rove supervised DOJ attorney. This case is a tragic and horrendous miscarriage of justice. And Obama could have made it right. He still can. If he fails to do so, it will move me STILL further away from the supportive place I was in 2008. Add this as another ugly blot on Obama's already shameful record. There's no way that liberal apologists can say that Obama has tried his best when it comes to this one. On the contrary, he pushed for the prosecution and actually making the sentence even longer. Shame on Obama.

Rob Kall


I AGREE 110 % ((Gaal))

Edited by Steven Gaal
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I actually agree with Steve about this Seigalman seems to have been set up, a group of over 40 former state AG's about half of whom were Republicans signed a letter questioning his conviction. Obama should have taken steps to release him or at least reinvestigate.

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Google complies with FDA demands to secretly disable Adwords accounts of nutritional detox companies


(NaturalNews) The latest attack on free speech in America comes from the FDA and is supported by Google Adwords. NaturalNews has learned that the FDA is quietly, and without notice to affected companies, commanding Google to disable the full Adwords accounts of nutritional supplement companies offering "detox" or "chelation" nutritional products.

This secret war against nutritional supplement companies is being waged entirely outside the law, as the FDA gives no notice to affected companies and does not give them any opportunity to respond in their defense. No judge, no jury, no notice, no due process. The FDA simply bypasses legal notice requirements and goes straight to Google, which complies by disabling Adwords accounts, shutting off an important source of revenue for nutritional supplement companies.

An economic embargo ordered by the FDA and obeyed by Google Adwords

This action is just the latest round in the FDA's war on nutritional supplement companies, which have been subjected to armed raids, threatening warning letters, product seizures, and even international kidnapping by the FDA itself (http://www.naturalnews.com/027750_Greg_Caton_FDA.html).

In this case, the FDA is conducting an economic embargo on the company known as Global Healing Center (www.GlobalHealingCenter.com), founded by Ed Group III. Dr. Group is not a medical doctor, but he is a globally-recognized formulator of nutritional detoxification products that really work to help eliminate heavy metals from the body.

Ed Group's company has been a long-time advertiser with Google Adwords, using the service to not only bring Google hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in revenue, but more importantly to help reach people with high-quality nutritional products that are revered throughout the industry for their safety, potency and efficacy.

None of this seemed to matter to Google Adwords, which shuttered his entire account without notice, then claimed the FDA told them to do so (see below).

"On June 29th we noticed our sales had dropped off about 25-30% over the previous week," Dr. Group told NaturalNews. "After some research we found it was due to Google blocking our AdWords account from advertising. We tried contacting Google to see why our account had been blocked, but it wasn't until July 27th (almost a month later) that we received the answer below."

He goes on to explain:

The FDA contacted Google and demanded Google shut down our ads containing our heavy metal cleansing keywords. Google then shut down our ENTIRE account including all other non-chemical and heavy cleansing related ads resulting in a loss of approximately $70,000 in sales over a period of 3-4 weeks. The FDA did not contact us directly nor did Google contact us to let us know before shutting down our account. It seems as if the FDA has started a gestapo campaign to attack supplement companies indirectly through Google advertising.

[This was] an intentional campaign by the FDA to take money from our pockets because we never even had a product on our site which mentions chelation and the FDA has never contacted us or issued a warning to us as they are required to do by law. The FDA inspects our facility one to two times each year and have never mentioned any concern to us.

The letter from Google

Here's how Google Adwords finally responded to Global Healing Center, approximately one month after shutting of their Adwords account:

From: adwords-support@google.com

Subject: RE: Phone Call Follow-up

Date: July 27, 2012 6:03:25 AM PDT


I just heard back from the review team and the information that they provided me with is as follows:

* Currently your website is advertising for and selling Dr. Group's Chemical & Heavy Metal Cleanse as a Chelation agent. The FDA considers non-perscrition chelation products to be unnapproved drugs because they are "dangerously misleading" and can cause serious harm to consumers.

* See http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm229320.h... for more information.

Moving forward, once you have removed this product from your website feel free to call me to have your site re-reviewed. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

Have a great day!


Spencer L

Google Inc. - The Google AdWords Team - 1-866-2-GOOGLE - adwords.google.com



• The FDA letter cited by Google Adwords does not even mention Global Healing Center. (Huh?)

• The FDA letter is from 2010. Why is Google Adwords shutting down companies in 2012 while citing a letter from 2010 that doesn't even mention the advertiser?

• The FDA's position that heavy metals chelation products are "unapproved" drugs is absurd. A description that a nutritional product binds with heavy metals is not, by any reasonable logic, a claim to "treat a disease." It's nutritional cause and effect. By the FDA's own admitted logic, a company selling vitamin C cannot claim that vitamin C halts scurvy. That would be an "unapproved drug claim."

Interestingly, NaturalNews agrees with the FDA that there are some fraudulent nutritional products being sold in the market -- in fact, NaturalNews helped expose one of the most outlandish such "detox" products ever marketed on the internet (http://www.naturalnews.com/034005_Adya_Clarity_consumer_alert.html). That product was very high in aluminum and sulfuric acid. It was marketed as a dietary supplement to be consumed with "daily shots" (shot-glass drinks) and it was claimed the product would cause heavy metals to come out of your ears and fingernails, or that large snakes would be emitted out of your colon. (Seriously, I'm not making this up.) That product was clearly fraud.

But the FDA makes no distinction between fraudulent supplements and legitimate, high-quality supplements. To the FDA, all supplements making a detox claim are unapproved drugs and therefore illegal. Such a position grossly demonstrates the FDA's complete lack of nutritional supplement discernment.

Meanwhile, the FDA openly tolerates repeated and willful violations of pharmaceutical off-label marketing, which is the prescribing of medications for health conditions that have never been approved by the FDA. All the major drug companies engage in the (wink-and-nod) off-label marketing of their drugs, and the FDA does absolutely nothing about it. (http://www.naturalnews.com/036417_Glaxo_Merck_fraud.html) Thus, the FDA's position, as stated in this letter, that "companies that market products that claim to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure diseases must file an application with the FDA and provide data that demonstrate their products' safety and effectiveness" is flatly false.

In reality, pharmaceutical companies merely need to receive FDA approval of their drug for any disease, and then they are allowed to market that drug for ALL diseases and health conditions! (http://www.naturalnews.com/025698_drug_FDA_marketing.html) It's not legal, but it's tolerated if you run a multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical company, which is where the FDA derives the bulk of its own operating budget revenue.

Google supporting the FDA is, in many ways, worse than Google supporting China

What's most disturbing in all this is not that the FDA is engaged in economic warfare against the nutritional supplements industry -- that's to be expected of a criminal government regulatory mafia group. What's really disturbing here is that Google Adwords went right along with it.

I can only hope that this is some sort of temporary oversight on the part of some low-level Google Adwords employees who are easily intimidated by the FDA. While none of us wish to see Google Adwords used to promote truly dangerous products, you have to wonder why Adwords is perfectly willing to promoting deadly pharmaceuticals and prescription medications that have been scientifically shown to kill 106,000 Americans each year (http://www.naturalnews.com/036679_doctors_guns_fatalities.html) -- yet at the same time, Google Adwords won't allow the advertising of a nutritional product that can help people eliminate toxic mercury or other heavy metals.

Google, it seems, is increasingly allying itself with the FDA, an organization that can be reasonably and convincingly shown to be a criminal group whose primary purpose is to protect the Big Pharma monopolistic profit racket, even at the expense of destroying public health. (A diseased population, even better, boosts pharma profits.)

If this trend continues, Google will only harm the credibility of its own advertising, because it won't take long for internet users to realize that Adwords ads shown on Google.com are censored to comply with corrupt government guidelines. Adwords is, in other words, being directed by the U.S. government to limit consumer choice rather than expand it. This seems to contradict the very purpose of Google's search engine, which is to put knowledge and information within reach of people everywhere. But what if that knowledge threatens the profits of the pharmaceutical industry? Will Google censor its information offerings in order to help the FDA protect drug industry profits?

China-style censorship is now FDA-style censorship

If all this censorship talk rings a bell, it's because Google was at one time caught up in the question of whether search results should be censored in China in order to keep the Chinese people ignorant of issues like freedom, public protests, democracy and the like.

For many years, Google went along with the Chinese government's censorship requests. "Until March 2010, Google adhered to the Internet censorship policies of China," reports Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_the_People%27s_Re...).

But on January 12 of 2010, Google announced, in response to a hack attempt on Google's servers in an effort to access information about Chinese dissidents, "...we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn"

And yet, Google is willing to censor its results on Google.com right at home in the USA, as long as the FDA tells them to, it seems.

The FDA's attempts to keep the American population ignorant of nutritional supplements perfectly mirrors Communist China's attempts to keep its population ignorant of history. If Google isn't willing to go along with China's censorship, why is it willing to go along with the FDA's?

We must encourage Google to rethink its compliance with corrupt governments

I hope all NaturalNews readers will join me in encouraging Google to rethink its policies of automatically adhering to FDA demands. If the FDA were really an honest organization working on behalf of the People to protect the health and safety of the American public, it might not be such a bad thing to listen to the agency's requests.

But the FDA is no such thing. The FDA threatens and surveils its own scientists, for one thing (http://www.naturalnews.com/036558_FDA_spying_whistleblowers.html). In fact, the FDA hacked the Gmail accounts of suspected whistleblowers, thereby violating Google's own terms of use (http://www.naturalnews.com/034824_FDA_scientists_hacking_whistleblowe...).

The FDA openly allows the electroshock torture of autistic students in the USA (http://www.naturalnews.com/036287_electroshock_torture_students.html), behaving a lot like China and its own secret torture prisons. Maybe that's why U.S. Senators have been trying to overhaul the corrupt agency and force it to reform (http://www.naturalnews.com/035966_Rand_Paul_FDA_censorship.html).

Above all, if Google chooses to ally itself with the FDA, it will irreversibly contradict its longtime motto: "Do no evil." Because when it comes to evil, you can't get more dark, diseased and destructive than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which directly contributes to the mass death of one million Americans each decade (http://www.naturalnews.com/035936_FDA_homicide_victims.html).

Learn more at:


Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/036726_Google_Adwords_FDA_censorship.html#ixzz23EWGwaJi


Edited by Steven Gaal
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Closer Than You Think: Top 15 Things Romney and Obama Agree On


by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Republicans and Democrats, like Romney and Obama are of one mind on many more things than they disagree about. From war and empire to their policies on Big Ag, Big Energy, “clean coal and safe nuclear power,” and the war on drugs their areas of agreement are vast and troubling, and perhaps far more important than the rhetorical and stylistic differences highlighted by US political campaigns.

Closer Than You Think: Top 15 Things Romney and Obama Agree On

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Too much agreement between Republicans and Democrats has always been bad news for those at the bottom of America's class and racial totem poles.

Back in 1875, Frederick Douglass observed that it took a war among the whites to free his people from slavery. What then, he wondered, would an era of peace among the whites bring us? He already knew the answer. Louisiana had its Colfax Massacre two years earlier. A wave of thousands upon thousands of terroristic bombings, shootings, mutilations, murders and threats had driven African Americans from courthouses, city halls, legislatures, from their own farms, businesses and private properties and from the voting rolls across the South. They didn't get the vote back for 80 years, and they never did get the land back. But none of that mattered because on the broad and important questions of those days there was at last peace between white Republicans and white Democrats --- squabbles around the edges about who'd get elected, but wide agreement on the rules of the game.

Like Douglass, the shallow talking heads who cover the 2012 presidential campaign on corporate media have noticed out loud the remarkable absence of disagreement between Republican and Democratic candidates on many matters. They usually mention what the establishment likes to call “foreign policy.” But the list of things Republicans and Democrat presidential candidates agree on, from coddling Wall Street speculators, protecting mortgage fraudsters and corporate wrongdoers to preventing Medicare For All to so-called “foreign policy,” “free trade,” “the deficit” “clean coal and safe nuclear power” and “entitlement reform,” is clearly longer and more important than the few points of mostly race and style, upon which they disagree.


Although unemployment is the highest it's been since the Great Depression, the federal government should NOT enact any sort of WPA-style program to put millions of people back to work. Under Democrat Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s, Depression-era unemployment was tackled head on by direct federal hiring to dig subways, build roads, schools, parks, sewers, recreational facilities and public buildings. Oblivious of this history, Democrat Barack Obama maintains that only the private sector can or should create jobs.


Medicare, Medicaid and social security are “entitlements” that need to be cut to relieve what they call “the deficit.” Republicans have been on record for this since forever, though they claim not to want to mess with the Medicare people already over 65 are getting. One of the first acts of the Obama presidency was to appoint a bipartisan panel stacked with “deficit hawks” like Republican Allan Simpson and Democrat Erskine Bowles to recommend raising retirement ages and cutting back Medicaid, Medicare and social security, and pass a law directing Congress to have an up or down no-amendments vote on its recommendations. Fortunately the “cat food commission”, as it was called, was deadlocked and offered none. But Obama and top Democrats, most recently House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi continue to express their readiness for some kind of “grand compromise” with Republicans on this issue.


Climate change treaties and negotiations that might lead to them should be avoided at all costs. The differences between them are only style. Democrats admit that climate change exists and is man-made, Republicans say it's a myth. But both ignored the Kyoto protocol and Obama like Bush before him, has worked tirelessly to delay, derail and boycott any actual talks that might lead to constructive international climate change agreements.


NAFTA was such a great thing it really should be extended to Central and South America and the entire Pacific rim. Again, there are differences in style. On the 2008 campaign trail, Obama sometimes mumbled about renegotiating parts of NAFTA, and such. But even before the primaries were done, press reports had him assuring the Canadian government this was only campaign rhetoric, raw meat for the rubes. In four years he has pushed NAFTA-like “free trade” corporate rights agreements with South Korea, most of Central America and is now secretly hammering out something called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.


Banksters and Wall Street speculators deserve their bailouts and protection from criminal liability, but underwater and foreclosed homeowners deserve nothing. Well, maybe not exactly nothing. Republicans think underwater homeowners deserve blame for forcing banksters to offer millions of fraudulent high-interest loans were then re-sold to investors around the world. Democrats think underwater homeowners deserve empty promises of help that never quite arrives for most of the foreclosed, the about-to-be foreclosed, their families and communities. But both agree on free money for banksters and speculators but no moratorium on foreclosures and no criminal investigations of mortgage and securities fraud.


Palestinians should be occupied, dispossessed and ignored. Iran should be starved and threatened from all sides. Cuba should be embargoed, and Americans prohibited from going there to see what its people have done in a half century free of Yankee rule. Black and brown babies and their parents, relatives and neighbors should be bombed with drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and similar places. The politicians and corporate commentators have a misleading name for this. They call it “foreign policy.” The realistic term for it is global empire.


Africa should be militarized, destabilized, plundered and where necessary, invaded by proxy armies like those of Rwanda, Ethiopia, Burundi or Kenya, or directly by Western air and ground forces, as in Libya. President Georgia Bush announced the formation of AFRICOM, the US military command for the continent which has officially swallowed all US civilian diplomatic presence. But only a black US president, even under the cover of “humanitarian war” could have invaded an African nation and openly dispatched special forces to Central Africa.


US Presidents can kidnap citizens of their own or any nation on earth from anyplace on the planet for torture, indefinite imprisonment without trial or murder them and neighboring family and bystanders at will. To be perfectly fair, there are distinctions between Republicans and Democrats here that don't amount to differences. Republicans Cheney and Bush got their lawyers to say these things were OK and did them. Democrat Obama got Congress to enact “laws” giving these acts a veneer of fake legality, something a Republican probably could not have done.


Oil and energy companies, and other mega-polluters must be freed to drill offshore almost everywhere, and permitted to poison land and watersheds with fracking to achieve “energy independence”. The Republicans say “drill baby drill” but it seems only Democrats can chill out enough supposed “environmentalists” to make this happen. Obama campaigned on restricting offshore drilling four years ago, and reversed himself just before the BP oil disaster in the Gulf. The White House cooperated with BP in lying to the public about the extent of the disaster and has shielded BO from paying anything like the value of actual damages incurred to livelihoods, human lives and the environment.


The FCC should not and must not regulate telecoms to ensure that poor and rural communities have access to internet, or to guarantee network neutrality. Republicans have always been in favor of digital redlining, against network neutrality. Barack Obama claimed on the campaign trail he'd take a back seat to nobody in guaranteeing network neutrality. But he appointed as FCC chair a man who helped write the infamous Telecommunications Act of 1995, which gave away the government-built internet backbone to a handful of immensely powerful telecoms like AT&T and Comcast, and flatly reversed himself on network neutrality. The Department of Justice was forced to stop the ATT-T-Mobile merger by a storm of public outrage, but approved the Comcast-NBC deal.


Of course there really ARE such things as “clean coal” and “safe nuclear energy”. Again these are things Republicans have always pretended to believe. At the 2008 Democratic convention Democrat Barack Obama joined them, declaring he intended to be the president of “clean coal and safe nuclear energy.” Obama is building a wave of 33 nuclear plants across the country, the first two in mostly black and poor communities of Georgia and South Carolina where leaky existing nukes are causing cancer epidemics. The people know these things are myths. But Republican and Democratic candidates for office, all the way down to state and county officials seem not to.


Immigrants must be jailed and deported in record numbers. To be really fair, one should note that on this issue Republicans talk a mean game about sending them all back and jailing tens or hundreds of thousands along the way. But only President Obama has walked the walk, deporting over a million immigrants in his term in office, often with little or no due process and after housing many for months in atrocious privatized immigration prisons.


No Medicare For All. Forget about it eliminating the Medicare age requirement so that all Americans would qualify.. Republicans never wanted Medicare even for seniors, let alone everybody. Six or seven years ago Illinois State Senator Obama was telling audiences that if they elected Democrats to Congress, the Senate and the White House, they'd get single payer health care. But once in office he excluded Medicare for All from the proposals on the table, and enacted a national version of Massachusetts RomneyCare, requiring everybody to purchase private health insurance or be penalized.


No minimum wage increases for you, no right to form a union, no right to negotiate or strike if you already have a union, and no enforcement or reform of existing labor laws. Again, Republicans have always opposed minimum wage laws. Obama promised to boost the minimum wage his first two years in office, while he still had majorities in the House and Senate. But he didn't do this, or pass legislation beefing up the right to organize unions, which has been eroded under Democrat and Republican administrations alike.


The 40 year war on drugs must continue, and even mention of the prison state is unthinkable. There are 2.3 million people in US prisons and jails today, a per capita total that beats the world. Politicians of both parties wag their fingers in multiple directions. But as Michelle Alexander points out, if the US prison population were rolled back to say, only 1 million, the level it was about 1980, this would mean one million jobs, as contractors, sheriffs, cops, bailiffs, judges and functionaries of all kinds would have to go out and find real jobs.

The rabbit hole goes still deeper. We didn't have to stop at these fifteen points of Democrat-Republican agreement, but you get the idea. Just as in Frederick Douglass's day, the more Democrats and Republicans agree, the worse it is for the rest of us.

There was a time when black America had its own principles, and formed the immovable leftmost rock of the American polity. But in the 21st century, that rock has been dissolved by a tide of corporate money. With the rise of a cohort of black corporate Democrats and a right wing black Democrat in the White House there is no longer even any vaguely leftish influence on Democratic party politics. The House Progressive Caucus is the biggest in Congress, with over seventy members, but is powerless and irrelevant. Except for stylistic flourishes, the music they listen to and the color of some faces, the differences between Republicans and Democrats seem to exist mostly in political marketing campaigns and inside our own heads.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com

Edited by Steven Gaal
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NO !! Colonialist Obama


America’s Shadow Wars in Africa

Secret Wars, Secret Bases, and the Pentagon’s “New Spice Route”

Here’s an odd question: Is it possible that the U.S. military is present in more countries and more places now than at the height of the Cold War? It’s true that the U.S. is reducing its forces and giant bases in Europe and that its troops are out of Iraq (except for that huge, militarized embassy in Baghdad). On the other hand, there’s that massive ground, air, and naval build-up in the Persian Gulf, the Obama administration’s widely publicized “pivot” to Asia (including troops and ships), those new drone bases in the eastern Indian Ocean region, some movement back into Latin America (including a new base in Chile), and don’t forget Africa, where less than a decade ago, the U.S. had almost no military presence at all. Now, as TomDispatch Associate Editor Nick Turse writes in the latest in his “changing face of empire” series, U.S. special operations forces, regular troops, private contractors, and drones are spreading across the continent with remarkable (if little noticed) rapidity.



The Scramble for Africa: Another U.S. Battleground To Challenge, Supplant China

While the US was flexing its muscles in Iraq and Afghanistan (later, in Libya, currently in Syria, and further on other nations), taking a much less outspoken but nonetheless more effective approach of “soft power” penetrated the abandoned regions. The role of the frontrunner among new patrons of the developed world was unambiguously taken by China, which has established itself as the number one trade partner and a prominent investor not only in Africa but also in the region that for centuries had been regarded as the US’ “backyard” – Latin America.

[W]hat is surprising, though, is the fact that a call to Africa not to fall prey to “new colonialism” comes from Washington. Or do US political and business leaders think that the “forgotten continent” is also forgetful and that the people of Africa have forgotten what real colonialism and neocolonialism is, and who were the main bearers of the phenomenon?


####o#### RELATED

A Secret War in 120 Countries: The Pentagon’s New Power Elite



Edited by Steven Gaal
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  • 3 weeks later...


Obama waives sanctions on countries that use child soldiers



" But for the third year in a row, Obama has waived almost all U.S. sanctions that would punish certain countries that use child soldiers, upsetting many in the human rights community.

Late Friday afternoon, Obama issued a presidential memorandum waiving penalties under the Child Soldiers Protection Act of 2008 for Libya, South Sudan, and Yemen, penalties that Congress put in place to prevent U.S. arms sales to countries determined by the State Department to be the worst abusers of child soldiers in their militaries. The president also partially waived sanctions against the Democratic Republic of the Congo to allow some military training and arms sales to that country. "

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In Honduras, the International Criminal Court May Be the Last Hope

Saturday, 27 October 2012 09:35 By Baher Azmy, Truthout | Report

In the two years since the ICC opened its preliminary investigation, Honduras has become the murder capital of the world and among the most dangerous countries in which to be a reporter. It is time for the Court to intervene.

It was killings like that of 19-year-old activist Isis Murillo at the hands of the Honduran military after the 2009 coup that first led the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate evidence of state-sponsored violence and repression in Honduras. It is now two years since the investigation was opened, and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) submitted new documentation showing that the human rights violations continue along with the impunity for crimes like Murillo's murder.

With hundreds of people, including journalists, trade unionists, land activists and human rights lawyers being killed or disappeared since the coup, and mounting calls for action from the Honduran people and international human rights groups, will the new ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, take action to help stem the tide of violence and prevent more lives being lost?

It was only a few days after the coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya when thousands of Hondurans took to the streets to protest Murillo's killing - the first of many casualties of the new regime - and demand a return to democracy. Three years later, it is hard to overestimate the gravity of the situation in Honduras or the courage of those who still dare to resist the status quo.

Honduran activists and human rights defenders are overwhelmed with the ever-mounting threats and violence and talk about feeling under siege and abandoned. Since taking on Murillo's case, we at CCR hear constantly from partners and friends on the ground about the continued police and military involvement in targeted assassinations, arbitrary detentions, kidnappings, political persecution and violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters. Their plight is made all the more difficult by the false narrative repeatedly asserted by the United States, Honduras' closest ally, that things are improving.

As many predicted, the new Lobo administration – "elected" in a process most international observers decried as illegitimate - has ensured that many of the same actors behind the coup remain in power and free of any form of accountability for their actions. Honduran coup leader and former de facto president Roberto Micheletti is now a "legislator for life." Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, the head of the armed forces who carried out the coup, is now the head of the state-owned communications company Hondutel and has announced he’s running for President in 2013.

The Honduran judicial system actually stands in the way of accountability. As Human Rights Watch has reported, the Honduran Supreme Court, found by even the de facto government's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to have been complicit in the coup, has fired judges who publicly questioned the legality of the coup and created a climate among the judiciary in which lower court judges are discouraged from ruling against de facto authorities. As expected, the Supreme Court exonerated officials charged with carrying out the coup.

In these circumstances, efforts toward accountability in Honduras have become a death sentence. Last month, Antonio Trejo and Manuel Diaz, two of the most-prominent human rights attorneys who dared challenge the de facto authorities, were assassinated within 72 hours of each other. As the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said after the killing, "the impunity that surrounds these violations is unacceptable. When the perpetrators know they are very likely to get off scot-free, there is nothing to deter them from killing off more of the country’s finest human rights defenders."

In attempting to avoid a civil case in the United States, Roberto Micheletti unwittingly provided additional evidence that helps establish a necessary prerequisite for the ICC to take action - that the national system is unwilling or unable to genuinely investigate and prosecute the offenses. Among the documents we sent today to the ICC were the declarations of Honduran officials filed by Micheletti in our civil case against him on behalf of Murillo's parents that unequivocally affirm he is not being investigated for Murillo's killing. This is despite the fact that even the government's own TRC concluded that Micheletti bore command responsibility for the teen's death, as well as others.

Recently, ICC Chief Prosecutor Bensouda stated, "My mandate is to investigate and prosecute those most responsible for the world's gravest crimes, where no-one else is doing justice for the victims."

The ongoing human rights crisis in Honduras is exactly what the ICC was created for. Victims of state violence have no place to turn for justice and accountability. For the Honduran people, the ICC is indeed a "court of last resort," and the last hope to stem the tide of post-coup violence before more voices like Isis Murillo's are silenced.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Edited by Steven Gaal
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A Day In Court? Maybe Not In America

Tuesday, 30 October 2012 11:17 By Sudha Setty, The Herald News | Op-Ed

We Americans tend to think that serious grievances deserve a day in court. Yet here in America — unlike some of our allies — courts have eroded access to justice for people injured by misguided national security efforts.

We see the centrality of courts in action every day, from the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare this spring to George Zimmerman facing trial for killing Trayvon Martin in Florida. Getting one’s day in court is not a guarantee of victory. But it is fundamental to holding our government and each other accountable.

On Oct. 29, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Clapper v. Amnesty International, a case about dragnet domestic surveillance unsupported by warrants. The court’s decision will largely determine whether this aspect of counterterrorism will remain subject to courts, or instead be placed above them.

Over the last decade, judges have repeatedly told torture victims that they don’t have the right to a day in court when they seek compensation. Even when victims have substantial publicly available evidence to support their claims, our government and its private contractors have remained above the law.

Under most circumstances, these plaintiffs would have their day in court. Our constitutional and civil rights demand that. But when it comes to national security, the Bush and Obama administrations asked courts to toss these cases, even before plaintiffs have a chance to share their side of the story, invoking the state secrets privilege and other procedural hurdles.

The courts have been entirely complicit, abdicating their role of providing a forum in which these claims can be heard. Instead of examining the facts and applying the law, our courts routinely dismiss cases at the earliest stages.

American courts have been overly formalistic, nervous and sheepish, consistently bowing before government claims that allowing (even potential) accountability for human rights abuses would somehow be tantamount to inviting terrorism.

Even worse, judges have accepted these claims with little question, washing their hands of the tough business of demanding that our government justify its actions. They echo the misplaced judicial deference that affirmed our government’s decision to intern Japanese Americans during World War II.

Yet other countries facing national security issues for decades have already developed successful alternatives. The Israeli Supreme Court has addressed many security-related claims since its founding. It hears a case if at all possible, and deals with issues related to secret information as they arise. None of this guarantees a favorable outcome for a plaintiff, but it does give everyone their day in court.

The Israeli Supreme Court’s reasoning is worth repeating here. In a case challenging an Israeli military action involving targeted killings (another area in which the U.S. government has successfully evaded judicial review), the Israeli Supreme Court rejected claims that security cannot exist if the government is made accountable for its actions, saying that “where the implementation of a security policy involves a violation of human rights, the court should examine the reasonableness” of the government’s actions.

In England, too, courts have pushed back against their own history of deferring to government secrecy. Relying on principles of open justice, courts have held that the government must disclose information on alleged rendition and torture. They bucked tremendous political pressure, from both the British and U.S. governments.

Unlike their American counterparts, judges in England and Israel have made clear that the job of courts is to make a democratic government accountable to the people when political actors do not.

In the Clapper case, the Obama administration won’t disclose whether the plaintiffs were actually under surveillance, but will paradoxically argue before the Court that the plaintiffs don’t deserve a day in court because they can’t prove (due to government secrecy) that they, in particular, were actually monitored.

It would be a shame — for our country, and for our courts in particular — if the administration’s position prevails. We should be skeptical when our government undermines access to justice, especially when some of our allies are able to maintain this right in the face of equally (if not more) serious national security considerations.

In the end, when courts are unwilling to afford people their day in court, it’s not just the individual plaintiffs who suffer, but rather American democracy as a whole.


OCTOBER 30, 2012, 10:41 AM

Secret Surveillance


At the Supreme Court on Monday, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. told the justices that they should not allow judicial review of a secret surveillance program in order "to preserve the separation of powers" among the government's three branches. But if the court lets the executive branch prevail in this dispute, its power will be almost unlimited for surveillance and the power of the judiciary will be gutted: it is possible no court will ever rule on the constitutionality of the program.

Authorized by a 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (which retroactively ratified what the Bush administration had been doing since soon after 9/11) the program empowers the government to intercept every international communication between Americans and non-Americans that potentially contains "foreign intelligence information." Mr. Verrilli contended that the plaintiffs don't even have standing to sue, because they have no hard evidence that they have been subjected to surveillance or suffered any injury.

The trick here is obvious: it is almost impossible for the plaintiffs to have evidence since the program is secret. But since the plaintiffs are lawyers and human rights, labor, legal and media organizations whose work requires them to be in communication with clients, colleagues and others outside the United States, it's likely that the government has intercepted at least some of their emails and phone calls. The plaintiffs contend that the statute violated their rights against illegal searches and seizures, and led some of them to change how they communicate, including by travelling to Afghanistan, Pakistan and other distant places for face-to-face conversations (at considerable expense, a legal injury).

At least some of the justices seemed sympathetic to the plaintiffs' arguments. The statute "greatly expands the government's surveillance power," Justice Elena Kagan said. Justice Anthony Kennedy said "it's hard for me to think that the government isn't using all of the powers under the law." And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg acknowledged the secrecy problem for evidence: "There may be dozens of concrete applications affecting the plaintiffs in this case, but we will never know."

Mr. Verrilli summarized the plaintiffs' case for the justices: "They are asking you to invalidate a vitally important national security statute." But Justice Kagan corrected him: "No, General Verrilli, this is not about the merits of the statute. They might have no claim on the merits at all, and so there would be no question of invalidation. The question is only: Can they make their argument to a court?"

When the executive branch is allowed to spy on its citizens without review it gives in to pressures to overlook potential harms, like invasion of privacy. The separation of powers, of course, is also the nation's system of checks and balances, which the justices must preserve by allowing the case to go forward.

Edited by Steven Gaal
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Clinton visit to Algeria prepares war in Mali

By Kumaran Ira

3 November 2012 world socialist websiye

The Bamako conference is hosting officials from the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and European Union (EU). Opening the conference, Malian defence minister Yamoussa Camara said that war was inevitable, adding: “This conference is a meeting of harmonisation, which must lead to concrete proposals for the adoption of a strategic plan to liberate the north of our country.”

On October 12, a UN Security Council resolution gave ECOWAS until November 26 to offer detailed plans for military intervention in Mali. ECOWAS has already announced the deployment of 3,000 troops in Mali and is awaiting final UN Security Council approval.

The conference is taking place under the aegis of imperialist powers including the US and France, which are pressing for military intervention. They aim to use African troops as proxies against Islamist forces—including Ansar Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), both linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)—that have been active in northern Mali since this March.

At this point, Mali plunged into civil war, after Tuareg forces fleeing US-controlled Libya returned to northern Mali and took control of the region. These Tuareg-nationalist forces are organised in the National Movement for Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA), which joined with Islamist groups in taking control of the region. The rebels’ victory in the North led to a military coup in Bamako, ousting longtime president Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT).

Clinton’s visit to Algiers aimed to secure the support of Algeria, the major regional military power, for war in Mali. She argued strongly for military intervention as the primary strategy. One US official said: “The secretary underscored...that it is very clear that a political process and our counter-terrorism efforts in Mali need to work in parallel.”

Both France and the US see Algerian participation in the military intervention as vital. Before Clinton’s visit, a US State Department official said, “We have an awful lot at stake here, and an awful lot of common interests, and there’s a strong recognition that Algeria has to be a central part of the solution.

After Clinton’s visit, the press reported that Algeria had approved the participation in the intervention in Mali. An Algerian Foreign Affairs Ministry official said, “The discussions between President Bouteflika and Mrs. Clinton addressed more the details of Algeria’s participation than the principle of it.”

Clinton’s visit came after Algeria and the US held a first-ever US-Algerian strategic dialogue in Washington on October 19, focused on strengthening cooperation between both countries at the political, security and economic levels.

The Algerian FLN (National Liberation Front) regime cynically poses at home as a critic of imperialist policies. However, Clinton’s visit underscores that the FLN, 50 years after its independence from France, does not oppose imperialist policies in the region. It is reportedly coordinating military plans with the imperialist powers.

It has deployed more than 25,000 troops along the Malian and Libyan borders and allowed the CIA to install its Maghreb-Sahel regional headquarters in Algeria.

US and French officers and diplomats are holding talks to facilitate intervention plans, provide logistical support for an invasion, and deploy surveillance drones. Top US State Department and US Africa Command (AFRICOM) officials travelled to Paris for a security summit to discuss the Sahel region, in which Mali is located. The EU also announced a “Mali mission,” deploying military experts to train Malian and African troops over a four-to-six-month period.

Preparations for another war are proceeding in defiance of public opinion in both France and the US, which is hostile to wars in Afghanistan and Libya and the ongoing proxy war in Syria.

Washington and Paris cynically present their plans for war in Mali as part of the so-called war on terror. Last week, US defence secretary Leon Panetta vowed to eliminate the threat from “al-Qaeda” in northern Mali, claiming that Al Qaeda would have “no place to hide.”

Such comments are hypocritical. The US and France relied on Al Qaeda forces in the war against Libya to topple Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. In the US-led proxy war to oust Bashar al-Assad government in Syria, US intelligence and its allies arm and rely on the same Al Qaeda and reactionary Islamist forces in stoking civil war.

France’s military intervention in Mali is prepared by the Socialist Party (PS) government of President François Hollande, who has called for an “African-led” military intervention in Mali “as quickly as possible.” Hollande is expected to visit Algeria in December.

French defence officials told AP they plan to send two surveillance drones to western Africa from Afghanistan by the end of 2012. France has deployed Special Forces in the region—including to Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Chad—and contracted out surveillance in Mali to private firms. Intelligence Online reported that France has contracted Luxembourg-based CAE Aviation to monitor parts of north Mali and neighbouring western Niger.

The imperialist intervention is reportedly planned for early next year, in particular before the rainy season. According to Le Monde, its main phases will be “a consolidation of Malian sovereignty in the south of the country and its capital, Bamako; then the preparation of three or four Malian battalions on which African armies and their European allies can rely to face the northern groups. After the retaking of several [northern] cities—Gao, Timbuktu—the stabilisation of the north will follow, in March. The plan includes bombings and the intervention of Special Forces. The United States will furnish intelligence capabilities.”

AP quoted US officials, who said “the US has already expanded its Mali-related intelligence effort with satellite and spy flights over the north to track and map the rebels.”

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Covert US Op: The Paraguayan Coup

By Bill Van Auken

Global Research, July 03, 2012

World Socialist Web Site 3 July 2012

The so-called constitutional coup that ousted Paraguay’s elected President Fernando Lugo on June 22 is another indication of the mounting class tensions that are gripping Latin America and the world as a whole, making democratic forms of rule under capitalism ever more unsustainable.

There is every reason to believe that the hurried impeachment of Lugo—forced through both houses of the Paraguayan parliament in barely 30 hours after he was charged by the two traditional parties of the country’s ruling oligarchy—was carried out with the indispensable complicity of US imperialism.

A former Catholic cleric and proponent of Liberation Theology, Lugo was elected in 2008, promising to combat corruption and promote “socially responsible capitalism.”

Without any party of his own, he came into office on the back of a coalition that joined a combination of left-nationalist groups, peasant and indigenous associations with the Liberal Party, a right-wing instrument of the Paraguayan oligarchy, which had been tolerated as a tame opposition under the 35-year dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner. It was Lugo’s vice president, Liberal Party leader Fernando Franco, who donned the presidential sash after supporting the impeachment of his former running mate.

Committed to the defense of private property and with all the real levers of power remaining in the hands of the Liberals and Stroessner’s Colorados, who ruled the country for six decades before the 2008 election, Lugo was able to carry out little in the way of reforms, while he adapted himself continuously to Paraguayan reaction.

Nonetheless, the ruling oligarchy as well as the transnational agricultural interests found his presidency intolerable, fearing that it was generating false expectations among the masses of Paraguayan workers and oppressed. In particular there was concern that masses of landless peasants, receiving nothing in the way of genuine agrarian reform from the government, would take matters into their own hands. In a country where 2 percent of the population controls more than 75 percent of the land, and where much of this land was expropriated from its owners and handed out to favored Colorado politicians under the Stroessner dictatorship, there is ample reason for such fear.

The principal pretext for the impeachment was a massacre unleashed by Paraguayan security forces as they attempted to evict some 100 peasant farmers occupying the land of a wealthy former Stroessner-era Colorado politician. Eleven peasants and six policemen were killed, while scores more were wounded and arrested. The right-wing parties in the Paraguayan Congress blamed Lugo not for gunning down peasants, but for failing to carry out more thorough repression.

The parallels between the June 2012 coup in Paraguay and the June 2009 coup that toppled the elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, are obvious. In both cases, the political representatives of oligarchical ruling classes threw out presidents who had postured as “lefts,” bitterly opposing even the paltriest reforms as intolerable infringements upon their wealth and power. And in both cases legal and constitutional statutes were twisted to serve wholly antidemocratic ends.

While in Zelaya’s case, troops stormed the presidential palace and hustled the pajama-clad president onto an aircraft that flew him into exile, such methods proved unnecessary in the case of Lugo, who meekly and publicly accepted his impeachment, only joining protests after the fact. In Paraguay as in Honduras, however, the real violence will undoubtedly unfold in the aftermath of the coup, directed against the country’s workers, peasants and students.

The social structures of the two countries also share much in common, with Paraguay the second poorest country in South America and Honduras the second poorest country in Central America and with social inequality driven to unprecedented levels, in large measure due to the penetration of transnational capital.

And both countries have been the focus of attention of the US military and intelligence apparatus, which shares intimate connections with its local counterparts. Security forces in both countries have been trained and advised by the Pentagon and would not support the overthrow of an existing government without its approval.

In Honduras, Washington has installed its largest military base in Latin America. And, in the period leading up to Lugo’s removal from office, US generals were reportedly involved in negotiations for securing a strategic base with the same right-wing politicians who organized Lugo’s impeachment.

In August of last year, ABC Color, Paraguay’s main right-wing daily, reported that Deputy Jose Lopez Chavez, the head of the Commission on Defense of the lower house of the Paraguayan Congress, reported meeting with a group of US generals visiting the country to discuss the installation of an American base in Paraguay’s thinly populated Chaco region. Lopez Chavez is a leader of a dissident faction of the Colorado Party headed by former coup leader and retired general Lino Oviedo and one of the organizers of the parliamentary coup.

While Lugo had sought to placate Washington and allowed US special forces troops into the country to train Paraguayan troops in “counter-terrorism” tactics and “advanced military operations in urban terrain,” he balked at a large-scale exercise proposed by the Pentagon for 2010. A secret US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks reports that embassy officials had sought to “vigorously engage” government ministers and Paraguayan military commanders to force acceptance of the operation, known as “New Horizon.” The cable accused Lugo of getting “cold feet” and of seeking to curry favor with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in order to get a better deal on oil imports.

Other secret cables dating back to 2009 released by WikiLeaks carry titles such as “Paraguayan pols plot parliamentary putsch” and “Lugo impeachment rumors are back.” They indicate that the US embassy was intimately familiar with—and undoubtedly secretly involved in—the conspiracies being hatched by the Paraguayan right.

The Paraguayan coup, following the coup in Honduras and the expanding US involvement in the “drug war” in Mexico and Central America, is another indication that with American capitalism confronting powerful economic rivals in China and Europe, the Obama administration is turning ever more openly to counterrevolutionary conspiracies and military force in the drive to reassert US hegemony in Latin America.

The events in both Paraguay and Honduras have proven once again that working people in Latin America cannot defeat imperialist intervention and the oppression by native ruling classes outside of the independent political mobilization of the working class in struggle for socialism. In both countries, counterrevolutionary operations were facilitated by the political subordination of the workers, peasants and oppressed to capitalist politicians—Lugo and Zelaya—who were in turn under the thumb of right-wing bourgeois parties.


Paraguay: Coup at heart of struggle over Latin America

By Federico Fuentes

Global Research, July 18, 2012

Green Left Weekly 15 July 2012

The June 22 coup carried out against Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was an important blow to progressive movements across Latin America.

The struggle against the coup is far from over, but learning the lessons of the coup are important. This requires placing the coup in the context of the turbulent process of change occurring in Latin America

Latin America is in a period of transition. It is characterised, on the one hand, by the decline of United States influence. This is particularly the case with the unravelling of the neoliberal model implanted that was more firmly implanted more firmly in Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s than in any other region of the South.

On the other hand, left and progressive forces have made significant advances, including winning government in some cases.

This has been accompanied by a growing process of political and economic integration of the region.

Rise of the new left

A key factor is the rise of radical governments in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. With the backing of mass movements, these governments have raised the banner of “21st-century socialism”.

Today, these forces have united in the anti-imperialist Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA).

All of these processes remain in flux and the fate of each is linked to the others. The only certainty is that events in Paraguay have dramatically raised the level of turbulence in the region.

Lugo’s 2008 election in Paraguay did not represent the rise of a socialist to power. But it did mark Paraguay as the seventh country to join what many commentators have dubbed the “pink tide” sweeping through South America.

Starting with Hugo Chavez’s election in Venezuela in 1998, a variety of radical and moderate left candidates have also been elected in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Uruguay.

The politics of these “pink tide” governments have ranged from radical anti-imperialism to moderate reformism. But each, in their own way, reflected the growing popular mood against US-imposed neoliberalism, and for greater national sovereignty and regional integration.

They also represented, at least, a partial fracture in political systems that benefited US corporate interests based on a extremely limited electoral democracy where the power of the ruling elite was never in question.

The significance of Lugo, a pro-poor former priest, was not his radical discourse or the far-reaching nature of the reforms that were demanded of his administration. Neither factors featured in his election campaign.

It lay in the fact that his election marked the end of 130 years of uninterrupted control of the presidency by direct representatives of Paraguay’s oligarchy.

It is through this oligarchy, maintained in power through a reign of terror, that foreign imperialist powers have maintained their domination over Paraguay.

Independent path

The last time Paraguay was not directly ruled by foreign powers and their local allies was about 200 years ago, shortly after Paraguay gained independence from Spain in 1811.

For the next few decades, Paraguay underwent arguably the most profound democratic revolution of any Latin American country during this post-independence period.

Unlike elsewhere in the region, where local oligarchies ensured formal political independence was accompanied by continued foreign subjugation, Paraguay’s government withdrew from global markets and pursued a policy of internal development.

The government’s program included state control over land, protection of newly developed industries, and using the nation’s wealth to fund education and other social programs.

By the 1860s, Paraguay was the most developed economy in the region. It could boast the lowest poverty and highest education levels of any neighbouring country.

But the price inflicted on Paraguay for choosing this path was devastating.

Imperialist attacks

In 1864, the local oligarchies in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, backed by Britain, unleashed the War of the Triple Alliance. It is estimated that 80-90% of the male population was exterminated in the war.

Through a campaign of terror, the triple alliance installed a pliant local oligarchy in power. This allowed Paraguay to re-enter the global market, subjugated to imperialist interests.

For the next 130 years, representatives of the large landowning oligarchy maintained control over the Paraguayan state. In return for ruling in the interests of foreign powers, the oligarchs were given free reign to use the state to enrich themselves and repress dissent. The most infamous phase was the 35-years-long military dictatorship under Alfredo Stroessner, which began in 1954.

Paraguay’s shift from military dictatorship to formal democracy in 1989 did not threaten the ruling elites. Stroessner’s Colorado Party held onto power until Lugo’s election in 2008.

Rather, the transition to formal democracy was driven by the negative impact on US neoliberal plans of holding on to one of Latin America’s longest surviving, and last remaining, dictators.


In Paraguay, the rise of neoliberal policies had four important consequences.

The first was the violent uprooting of Paraguay’s mostly rural population to make way for large multinational corporations, who sought to turn the country into one big soy plantation.

The second was Paraguay’s conversion into an energy exporter through the creation of the two largest hydroelectric dams in the world. Most of the electricity supplies Argentine and Brazilian-based industries.

The third impact of neoliberalism was the creation of a tiny sector of super-exploitative maquiladoras (free trade manufacturing zones).

The fourth structural change was the emergence of large belts of impoverished urban communities. It was made up of those pushed off their land, whose numbers greatly surpassed that of the tiny amount of jobs offered in the maquiladoras.

Many chose to emigrate and send back remittances, which became the main source of income for 10-15% of Paraguayan families.

It was precisely from these sectors poor farmers and impoverished urban sectors that opposition to neoliberalism and corruption emerged.

However, Paraguay never experienced the same level of class struggle as many other South American countries, where social movements succeeded in overthrowing presidents.

Meanwhile, left-wing parties remained fragmented and largely irrelevant.

Within this vacuum emerged Lugo, a moderately progressive priest who maintained links with campesino (peasant) groups.

As an outsider candidate for the 2008 elections, Lugo presented these sectors with an opportunity to break the decades’ long rule of the Colorado Party.

However, to win, Lugo had to rely on an alliance with the other main traditional party, the Liberals.

In return for supporting Lugo, the Liberals were given the right to chose his vice-presidential candidate: Francisco Franco, the man who now been installed as president in the coup.

The fragmentation of left forces, which contesting the election with 11 separate lists, and the important clientalist networks that the Liberals had built up, ensured their candidates made up the overwhelming bulk of Lugo’s parliamentary bench.

The limitations this imposed were immediately obvious after his victory. The Liberals spearheaded by Franco moving to oppose any progressive policy pursued by Lugo.

Ultimately, their votes were crucial in Lugo’s final downfall.

Re-establishing complete control

By removing Lugo, Paraguay’s oligarchy has re-established complete control over all branches of the Paraguayan state. It has set about reversing the small gains made under Lugo.

Within a week of Lugo falling, US oil company Crescent Global Oil — whose oil exploration contract had been terminated by the Lugo government — had met with Franco. After the meeting, it announced plans to invest US$10 million within 60 days to begin oil exploration in the Chaco region.

Another transnational that has benefited from the illegitimate coup is Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA), a Canadian-based division of the British-Australian mining company, Rio Tinto.

Several Liberal ministers in Lugo’s cabinet had been supportive of RTA’s bid to establish an aluminium plant in Paraguay in return for receiving cheap electricity from Paraguay’s huge hydroelectric dams (the main cost in producing aluminium).

The deal, however, was opposed by Lugo and his vice-minister for mines and energy.

With both gone, and an RTA lobbyist appointed vice-minister of industry, the Franco government is moving full steam ahead to sign an agreement that would provide RTA with electricity at a subsidised rate.

Transnational soy companies will also benefit via the approval of certain transgenic products which had been blocked by members of Lugo’s government.

It is true that none of these moves amounted to a radical transformation of Paraguay’s economy. In many cases, business continued as usual for foreign and local capitalist interests.

But Lugo’s election was much less a result of the rise of a powerful left as it was a sign of the beginning of the demise of the political status quo that for so long had benefitted US imperialism and its local allies. It was also a further impetus to the broader process of regional integration in South America.

It reflected the start of a process of transition in Paraguay, one which would inevitably be turbulent given the interests affected and whose ultimately fate would be determined by class struggle.

Lugo constantly vacillated and sought to conciliate with the old elites. But the left in his government were able to use the spaces won in the state to carry out progressive policies and bring the left out of obscurity.

From its position in the state, the left was responsible for placing hurdles in the path of multinationals. They spearheaded other popular measures, such as the introduction of a free public health system, the renegotiation of a better deal for Paraguay regarding revenue received by the state for the two hydroelectric dams and a variety of social programs.

Although the Lugo government did not initiate a radical agrarian reform program, the simple fact it carried out a census of land ownership exposed the extreme inequality in Paraguay. It was a move tantamount to “communism” for large-landowners accustomed to protecting their land at gunpoint.

For Paraguay’s poor, it represented the possibility that someone other than the local oligarchy could run the country — and push their interests.

All these elements contributed to converting Paraguay’s marginalised left into a real force in politics.

To ignore this and only focus on Lugo’s failures is to miss the point. Today, the left and Paraguay’s poor majority are in a stronger position than before Lugo’s election, in part due to their presence in the state.

Unfortunately, the lack of a mass political force uniting the left inside and outside the state, capable of stopping the coup, has led to a new turning point in the turbulent transition process in Paraguay and Latin America as whole.

A new turning point

The first important feature of this new period in Paraguay is the emergence of the Front for the Defence of Democracy, a broad coalition of left parties and social movements that is fighting the illegitimate government in the streets.

Whether they will be able to reverse the coup remains to be seen.

Many on the left see the possibility of creating a new political force out of this movement that can fight in the streets and at the next elections. However, this time the fight could be with a clear political program, and with the benefits of learning from Lugo’s errors.

Ultimately though, the future course of this development will be determined by the Paraguayan masses. Solidarity activists should follow these developments closely, learning from the unfolding process and offering any solidarity we can.

The main solidarity we can offer though is to alert the world to another, extremely dangerous development in Latin America after the successful 2009 US-backed coup in Honduras which should be of grave concern to all.

[Read more articles by Federico Fuentes. With Michael Fox and Roger Burbach, Fuentes is the co-author of the forthcoming book Latin America Turbulent Transitions: The Future of Twenty-First Century Socialism. It will be released in January next year by Zed Books. He also co-authored with Marta Harnecker a book in Spanish on the Paraguayan Left, focusing on the Movement Towards Socialism Party (P-MAS).]

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