VENEZUELA: WHAT ACTIVISTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE US-LED COUP

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance

| , NEWSLETTER

Above photo: John Zangas, DC Media Group.

Two things stand out about the US coup in Venezuela. First, it is unusually open. Typically, the US tries to hide its coups. Second, the coup is built on a series of obvious falsehoods, yet the bi-partisans in Washington, with a few exceptions, keep repeating them.

First, we will correct the falsehoods so readers are all working from the same facts. Second, we will describe how this coup is being defeated. It will be another major embarrassment for the Trump administration and US foreign policy.

It is important to understand Venezuela has become a geopolitical conflict as Russia and China are closely allied with Venezuela. China and Russia coming into the backyard of the United States challenges the antiquated Monroe Doctrine.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and the second largest gold reserves, as well as diamonds and other minerals such as coltan (needed for electronic devices). And, Venezuela is taking over as president of OPEC and will be in a position to push for oil payments in non-dollar currencies or in cryptocurrencies, a major threat to the US dollar.

A protest outside the United States Consulate in Sydney on January 23 to demand no US intervention in Venezuela. Photo: Peter Boyle

Correcting the Record

There are a series of false statements repeated by DC officials and corporate media to justify the coup that are so obvious, it is hard to believe they are not intentional. In his two-paragraph comment on the coup, even Senator Bernie Sanders repeated them.

1. Truth: President Nicolás Maduro is the legitimate president.

President Maduro was re-elected on May 20, 2018, in response to the opposition demanding an early election. The legitimacy of the election of Maduro is so evident that it must be assumed those who say he is illegitimate are either intentionally false or ignorant. The election was scheduled consistent with the Venezuelan Constitution and in consultation with opposition parties. When it became evident that the opposition could not win the election, they decided, under pressure from the United States, to boycott the election in order to undermine its legitimacy. The facts are 9,389,056 people voted, 46% of eligible voters. Sixteen parties participated in the election with six candidates competing for the presidency.

The electoral process was observed by more than 150 election observers. This included 14 electoral commissions from eight countries among them the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America; two technical electoral missions; and 18 journalists from different parts of the world, among others. According to the international observers, “the elections were very transparent and complied with international parameters and national legislation.”

Venezuela has one of the best electoral systems in the world. Voter fraud is not possible as identification and fingerprints are required for each voter. Voting machines are audited before and immediately after the election. Venezuela does something no other country in the world does — a public, citizen’s audit of a random sample of 53% of voting machines that is televised. All 18 parties signed the audits.

Maduro won by a wide margin, obtaining 6,248,864 votes, 67.84%; followed by Henri Falcón with 1,927,958, 20.93%; Javier Bertucci with 1,015,895, 10.82%; and Reinaldo Quijada, who obtained 36,246 votes, 0.39% of the total.

This same voting system has been used in elections that Maduro’s party has lost in governor’s and legislative elections. Venezuela is a real democracy with transparent elections. The United States could learn a good deal about real democracy from Venezuela.

2. Truth: The economic crisis is caused by outside intervention, internal sabotage and the decline in oil prices.

There is no doubt the economic situation in Venezuela is dire. The cause is the economic war conducted by the United States, the major decline in oil prices and economic sabotage by the opposition. In essence, the United States and opposition created problems in the Venezuelan economy and now say Maduro must be replaced because of problems they created.

Oil was discovered in Venezuela in the early part of the 20th Century and has dominated the economy since then. The Dutch Disease, the negative impact of an economy based on one natural resource, causes a sharp inflow of foreign currency, which raises the value of the country’s currency, making the country’s other products less price competitive. It is cheaper to import products rather than create them. This makes it more difficult for segments of the economy like agriculture and manufacturing to develop.

Chavez/Maduro sought to diversify the economy. They put in place thousands of communes and hundreds of thousands of people working in cooperatives to build agriculture and manufacturing. When the global price of oil was cut by more than half, it collapsed Venezuela’s public finances undermining these efforts. The economic war by the US made it difficult for Venezuela to borrow and trade with some countries.

Economic sanctions against Venezuela began under President Obama, and the Trump administration escalated them with financial sanctions. United States sanctions cost Venezuela some $6 billion since August, according to an October analysis. Measures against the nation’s oil industry have prohibited the Venezuelan majority-owned company, CITGO, from sending profits back to Venezuela, a $1 billion loss to the government yearly. Now, the Bank of England is refusing to return $1.2 billion in gold reserves after US officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, lobbied them to cut Venezuela off from its overseas assets.

The US economic war and sabotage of the economy by business interests has been exposed as part of the effort to remove Maduro by creating social unrest and lack of confidence in the government.  This has included hoarding of goods, storing essentials in warehouses and selling Venezuelan goods in Colombia.

In September 2018, Venezuela pointed to a false media campaign exaggerating migration from Venezuela. They highlighted statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to affirm that Venezuela has the fewest volunteer migrants in the continent. They pointed out 5.6 million Colombians have fled violence in their country and live in Venezuela. Venezuela has programs that have helped thousands of Venezuelans return home.

Socialism strengthens economies, as demonstrated in Portugal. Indeed, one criticism of Venezuela is that the Bolivarian Process is moving too slowly to put in place a socialist economy. There is a need for more sectors to be nationalized and put under democratic control of the people.

3. Truth: The opposition is violent, not the Maduro government.

Opposition protesters have been extremely violent. One tactic of the opposition was to be violent and then film the government’s response to make the government look violent. When Abby Martin was confronted by opposition protesters, they told her, “Do not film anything that we do. Just film what the government does to us.” She reported on the violence saying, “the vast majority has been caused by either indirect or direct violence by the opposition.”

Martin reports the opposition attacked hospitals, burned down the Housing Ministry, assassinated Chavistas and attacked citizen communes such as an art commune that gave free dance and music lessons to local children. Afro-Venezuelans were burned alive. Protesters pulled drivers out of buses and torched the buses. When photos and videos of opposition violence were put on social media, Martin and her colleague, Mike Prysner, became the target of a false media campaign on social media. The opposition did all they could to prevent them from reporting the truth using hundreds of death threats and threats they would be lynched.

In 2017, Venezuela Analysis reported that violent opposition protests included an attack on a maternity hospital endangering the lives of more than 50 newborn babies. Another report described the opposition using snipers to shoot government officials and civilians. Opposition newspapers urged that blunt objects be used to “neutralize” pro-government protesters, resulting in serious injuries and death.

Steve Ellner also reported that violence was coming from the opposition. He pointed to attacks at grocery stores, banks, buses, and government buildings.  Other commentators described specific incidents of violence by the opposition including killing people. Maduro ordered the arrest of a retired general who tweeted how to use wire to decapitate people on motorcycles, which happened, and how to attack armored vehicles with Molotov cocktails.

Documents show that violence was the opposition’s strategy. They sought to “Create situations of crisis in the streets that will facilitate US intervention, as well as NATO forces, with the support of the Colombian government. Whenever possible, the violence should result in deaths or injuries.”

The tales of government violence are rooted in lies. The government’s response was Maduro calling for a peace conference describing it as “a national peace conference with all the country’s political sectors … so we Venezuelans can try to neutralize violent groups.”

4. Truth: The National Assembly acted in violation of the law and is in contempt of court.

The National Assembly is not the only democratic body in Venezuela. Indeed, its actions since the opposition won a majority have violated the law and protected the violence of the opposition with an embarrassing amnesty bill.

On December 6, 2015, the opposition won a parliamentary majority in the Assembly. There were allegations of vote buying in Amazonas state that were investigated by the National Electoral Council, another branch of the government. The Supreme Court barred four legislators from Amazonas taking office, two from the opposition, one allied with the opposition and one from the ruling party. The National Assembly allowed three candidates to take office. The Assembly has been held in contempt of court since July 2016 and their decisions were nullified.

Before the court ruling, the Assembly passed an amazing amnesty law, which granted amnesty for crimes the opposition has committed since 1999 (Chavez’ election). The law is an admission of guilt and provides a well-organized catalog of crimes including felonies, crimes committed at public rallies, terrorist acts involving explosives and firearms and undermining the economy. They essentially admitted exactly what Chavez/Maduro have claimed — crimes to overthrow the government for 17 years. Venezuela’s Supreme Court ruled the amnesty law was unconstitutional. Inaccurately, the Trump administration calls the Assembly Venezuela’s only remaining democratic institution.

This January, a subsidiary of the state oil company asked the Assembly to intervene claiming the president cannot make reforms to mixed public-private oil businesses without the prior approval of the National Assembly. On January 16, the court ruled that the Assembly was still in contempt of court and could not act. This is also when the Assembly elected Juan Guaidó as their president, who would later appoint himself President of Venezuela, as part of the US-led coup. Guaidó’s election to head the legislature was illegal and nullified by the court.

The Assembly still exists but remains in a state of contempt of the judiciary. It can rectify the situation by removing the lawmakers accused of electoral fraud. The Assembly refuses to do so because their goal is to remove Maduro from office and they need a super-majority to do so.

Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK disrupts Mike Pompeo at the OAS. Press TV.

A Timeline of the US Coup in Venezuela

In “Anti-Maduro Coalition Grew from Secret Talks,” the Associated Press explains the coup was “only possible because of strong support from the Trump administration, which led a chorus of mostly conservative Latin American governments that immediately recognized Guaidó.”

Since August 2017, Donald Trump has been saying that military interventionagainst Venezuela was a distinct possibility. AP describes this as a “watershed moment” in the coup planning. They report Trump pressuring aides and Latin American countries to invade Venezuela. In September, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration had been meeting with coup plotters since mid-2017.

The Wall Street Journal reports Trump has long viewed Venezuela as one of his top-three foreign policy priorities, with Iran and North Korea. Trump requested a briefing on Venezuela on his second day in office, talking of the immense potential of Venezuela to become a rich nation through its oil reserves. AP reports that Trump “personally sparked” this as he brought up regime change in Venezuela in every meeting with Latin American leaders.

After Maduro was re-elected, administration plans began taking shape, driven in part by key members in the National Security Council and anti-Maduro advocates in Congress like extreme interventionist Senator Marco Rubio.

On November 1, John Bolton zeroed in on Latin America, calling Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela a “troika of tyranny.” On January 2, Bolton met with his Brazilian and Colombian counterparts to collaborate to “return Venezuela to its democratic heritage.”

On January 10, Maduro was sworn in for his second term, Pompeo spoke with opposition leader Guaidó, pledging support. Canada also played a key role, AP reports that Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to Guaidó the night before Maduro’s inauguration offering Canada’s support. This was 13 days before Guaidó announced he was president of Venezuela.

On January 12, the State Department backed Guaidó’s move to invoke his authority as president of the assembly, saying, “It is time to begin the orderly transition to a new government.” On January 15, the National Assembly declared Maduro as illegitimate. The Trump administration worked to get allies lined up to support Guaidó’. By January 18, the Venezuela Foreign Minister was describing a US coup in progress.

The night before Guaidó’s announcement on January 23, Vice President Mike Pence put out a video message encouraging Venezuelans to overthrow their government, saying, “We are with you. We stand with you, and we will stay with you.” Guaidó also received a phone call from Pence the night before he appointed himself president where he pledged that the U.S. would back Guaidó.

Guaidó declared that Maduro’s government was illegitimate and he was assuming the presidency. In a well-coordinated charade, almost instantly, Trump recognized Guaidó as the country’s rightful leader. To further demonstrate the preconceived, tightly coordinated and efficiently carried out the coup, US allies, among them Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Peru, quickly recognized the coup president.

The Trump administration is claiming Guaidó represents the lawful government and is entitled to all Venezuelan revenues. The State Department notified the Federal Reserve that Guaidó is the agent for access to Venezuelan assets in US banks.

Nearly as quickly, Maduro drew statements of support from Russia, China, Turkey, Mexico, Cuba, Bolivia, and others. The Venezuelan Supreme Court called for an investigation into the National Assembly and Guaidó, regarding the illegal usurpation of Executive power. The Venezuelan military announced it supported Maduro and Russia warned the US not to intervene militarily.

On January 25, the Organization of American States, which is traditionally a US tool, rejected a resolution to recognize Guaidó. Medea Benjamin of CODE PINK interrupted Pompeo at the OAS holding a sign that said: “a coup is not a democratic transition!” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza thanked Benjamin, saying, “With her protest, she revealed the macabre coup plan against Venezuela, we will always prevail, thank you!” Eighteen countries defeated the proposal.

At the UN Security Council meeting on January 26, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the United States of attempting “to engineer a coup d’etat.” He demanded to know whether the Trump administration “is ready to use military force” against Venezuela. European countries gave Venezuela eight days to hold an election, a suggestion Venezuela rejected. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Venezuela an “illegitimate mafia state.” He accused Russia and China of trying “to prop up Maduro.”

Both China and Russia have told the US not to intervene in Venezuela’s internal affairs. In December, Russia sent two nuclear-capable strategic Tu-160 bombers to Venezuela along with an An-124 heavy military transport plane and an II-62 long-haul plane. As of December, Russia has one brigade in Venezuela and was discussing sending a second military brigade to Venezuela even before the coup due to the continued threat of intervention from the United States.

China has lent over $50 billion to Venezuela through oil-for-loan agreements over the past decade and has become a partner in the Venezuelan oil industry. In December, seven months since signing a financial business venture with China, Venezuela’s oil production has doubled to 130,000 barrels per day. The take-over of Venezuela’s oil would also be an attack on China. China and Venezuela signed 28 bilateral strategic cooperation agreements on September 14 in the areas of oil, mining, security, technology, finance, and health.

Demonstrating the nature of the coup president, the first acts that Guaidó took were to seek a loan from the International Monetary Fund, which would put Venezuela in debt to western bankers and under their control, and to privatize the Venezuelan oil industry, which would rob Venezuela of the funds being used to lift up the poor and working class.

The appointment by Mike Pompeo of Elliott Abrams as the person in charge of overseeing operations “to restore democracy in Venezuela” is an ominous sign. It is scandalous and demonstrates the most extreme elements of the US establishment are leading the charge. Abrams was convicted during the Iran-Contra scandalsupported US-backed death squads in Guatemala and El Salvador in the 1980s, played a key role in the Reagan administration support for the murderous Contras in Nicaragua and was the person who gave approval for the US-backed coup in Venezuela in 2002.

Analyst Vijay Prashad writes the coup violated the charters of the United Nations and of the Organisation of American States and describes efforts to call on the military to rise up against the government have failed. The Trump administration is now threatening a total oil embargo on Venezuela and is leaving the “military option” open.

The concerted campaign by the US and Canada to install Juan Guaidó as the new ‘self-declared’ interim President of Venezuela has been met with initial failure. Unfortunately, the illegal and undemocratic attempts to destabilize the country and overthrow the democratically-elected President will continue with harmful consequences. The people of Venezuela are rising once again to defend their country against hostile foreign intervention. It is essential that we support them in this fight. Many groups are holding solidarity rallies and issuing statements of support. Find rallies and protests here and here.

While Sanders got all the facts wrong about Venezuela, he did reach the right conclusion: “The United States has a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries. We must not go down that road again.” People in the United States have an important role to play in supporting Venezuela and defeating the coup.

Original article: https://popularresistance.org/venezuela-what-activists-need-to-know-about-the-us-led-coup/ 

Yemen, Historic Political Coverage, Will the Stockholm Ceasefire in Yemen Hold?

Will the Stockholm Ceasefire in Yemen Hold?

BRAVE NEW WORLD

John Harrison

A fragile truce between the Hadi government and Houthi forces in Yemen was secured in December after weeklong negotiations in Sweden. A small UN monitoring mission was rushed to the Yemeni port of Al Hudaydah to observe the agreement. Will the ceasefire hold in the context of Yemen’s very complex history?

Jay Tharappel, a Ph.D candidate at the University of Sydney explains the situation.

Jay says that according to the UN’s envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, both sides are largely adhering to the ceasefire… For the UN, the ceasefire is successful as it is allowing aid workers to come in and help the millions of Yemenis who are starving. “…As to whether the ceasefire will hold until late January when the next talks are held in Kuwait, I believe that it can even though there are constant violations it can still hold as long as the front line does not change much.”

One major issue is whether the customs revenues from the Al Hudaydah port are to go to the Yemen central bank in Aden run by the Hadi government, or instead to remain with Houthis’ banks. Jay says: “Let’s be very clear here, what ‘mutual troop withdrawal’ amounts to is the ending of the National Salvation Government (NSG); that is demanding that the Houthis concede control of the only port city that they have under their control. At present, most of the city is controlled by Houthis, which means that they have an interest in maintaining the ceasefire as long as possible, because that will allow food aid to flow in, whereas the Saudis have different interests, they want to seize control of Al Hudaydah because that would allow them to cut the NSG off from the sea. Roughly 75% of the population in Yemen lives under the control of the NSG, and they rely on the Al Hudaydah port for access to the sea. The Saudis would therefore like a ‘mutual troop withdrawal’  …The NSG has every right to believe that if they move out of Al Hudaydah, the Saudis will move in, as the Saudis have a track record of believing that might is right….The major issue is one of trust, whether the NSG can trust the Saudis or not. If they pull out, how do they know that the Saudis will not use their 150,000 troops to storm in claim victory?”

In the second part of the program, Jay gives a very concise history of Yemen starting with pre-WWI days when Yemen was to all intents and purpose split into two, with the Ottoman Empire controlling the northern part and the southern part being a British protectorate, right through to the present day. Jay also discusses the way that different cultural practices between peoples in different parts of Yemen manifest in varying religious practices and the way that people make money.

Jay denounces the claim that the outcome of the Yemen war is decided upon exclusively by outside forces. “Let’s ask the question: Which side can claim greater indigenous support? The Hadi government is based in Saudi Arabia, whereas the NSG is based in Yemen. The plain reality is that the bulk of the Yemeni state is behind the Houthis. The NSG is entirely indigenous. Some 150,000 troops are fighting alongside some 20,000 Al-Qaida fighters with weapons flown in from the US., Australia, Canada, and Britain, even the AP was forced to admit the following: ‘To win the Civil War against the Houthis, Al-Qaida are effectively on the same side as the United States.’ But how many people in the west know that? You have to ask yourself: Which side is more indigenous, and by far the largest side are native people, called rebels. But it is not a rebellion, it is a unification government.” Host John Harrison points out that semantics are very powerful, and once the word: ‘rebel’ is used, then all sorts of negative connotations are automatically assumed, and these connotations usually last for a long time whether justified or not.

We’d love to get your feedback at radio@sputniknews.com

original post: https://sputniknews.com/radio_brave_new_world/201901111071393719-stockholm-ceasefire-yemen/

U.S. Bases in Okinawa Are a Threat to Freedom

AsiaBasesBigotryEnvironmentNorth America

By David Swanson, Director, World BEYOND War
Remarks at Rally outside White House, January 7, 2019.

There are a number of problems with the idea that maintaining and expanding giant military bases in other people’s countries protects freedom in the U.S. or in the occupied land.

For one thing, the United States maintains these bases in everything from the most brutal dictatorships to the most liberal so-called democracies. Are the U.S. troops in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia protecting the same freedoms as those in Italy and Germany? What freedoms might those be?

For another thing, few, if any, nations occupied by U.S. bases are actually credibly threatened with invasion and overthrow. For North Korea to effectively invade and occupy either Japan or the United States, much less both of them, even if those countries were unarmed and completely unaware of nonviolent resistance tactics that have become mainstream (boycotts, strikes, sit-ins, etc.), would require the complete abandonment of North Korea by a population universally recruited into the military and multiplied by some sort of rapid cloning.

China has also expressed zero interest in occupying and reducing freedoms in Japan or the United States, would eliminate hundreds of millions of customers for its products in the process, and has responded in kind to reduced or increased U.S. militarism and hostility. In other words, occupying Okinawa with tens of thousands of armed U.S. troops does nothing positive for freedom.

But it does do something negative. The people of Okinawa are denied the freedom not to be a prime target for attack, the freedom not to have their water poisoned, the freedom to live without noise pollution and crashing airplanes and drunken vandals and rapists and massive environmental destruction. Over and over again they tell pollsters and elect governments to shut down these bases. And over and over again more bases are built in the name of spreading democracy.

The people of Okinawa don’t just vote; they organize and act nonviolently; they risk prison and injury and death. They pull in activists from around the globe to help them in their cause — a struggle against the U.S. government whose people imagine it is protecting democracy, while polls find global opinion to be just the opposite.

And of course, during all of this military buildup and the counterproductive wars and threats of wars, the people of the United States see their own freedoms eroded in the name of the militarism that is supposedly aimed at protecting their freedoms.

Okinawa ought to be independent and not Japanese, but Japan claims ownership of Okinawa, and the people of Japan are more accepting of the U.S. occupation of Okinawa, though many of them seem to be getting tired of it or at least of paying for it financially. And a lot of them are protesting in solidarity with the people of Okinawa. But the people of Japan have never been allowed to vote on the U.S. occupation of Okinawa. Nor have the people of the United States. Lay out for either population the counterproductive, endangering nature of these bases, the environmental cost, the financial cost, and the risk of provoking nuclear apocalypse, and I’d be willing to go with the resulting public vote.

But what of the idea that the bases protect not freedom but safety, that the threat is not invasion and freedom reductions but deadly attack? There are two main problems with this idea, either of which is sufficient to reject it. First, the evidence is overwhelming that this sort of militarism is counterproductive, that it generates hostility rather than deterring it. Second, even if you believe in the logic of deterrence through the threat of mass murder and destruction, current technology allows the United States to accomplish that anywhere on earth without nearby bases. This means both that the bases in Okinawa are not needed for what they claim to be for, and that they are actually kept there for some other reason or reasons. Combine this fact with the revelations made by Edward Snowden that the United States has sabotaged Japanese infrastructure in order to be able to extensively damage Japan should it choose to, and I will leave it to the people of Japan to reason out what the bases are really for.

In reality there is no upside to these bases that can be weighed against poisoning the groundwater of Okinawa with cancer-causing chemicals, raping Okinawan girls, or destroying coral that protects us all from an actual danger while creating another. Environmental collapse and nuclear war are the twin catastrophes we face. Militarism is a top cause of the first, the sole cause of the second, and the pit into which unfathomable resources are dumped instead of being put to actually protective use.

Of course, U.S. military bases poison ground water all over the United States as well, and poison U.S. troops at foreign bases, but my friend Pat Elder has noted that some people are far less accepting of being given cancer than Americans are. We cannot afford, any of us, to be accepting of increasing the risks of global catastrophe. There is no such thing as isolated climate destruction or isolated nuclear war.

We need the people of Japan and of the world to change course, uphold Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, and renounce the idea of wars, militaries, and bases. You may have heard the U.S. government is shut down. Not a single war or base or ship has been shut down. Open up the non-military U.S. government! Shut down all the military bases!

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Is Trump Really Curtailing US Empire?

Abby and Robbie wrap up 2018 by discussing bizarre holiday antics at the White House their favorite Christmas movies, Liz Wahl running for Congress, and how inhumane US border policy is literally killing kids. The second half of the episode they discuss the notion that Trump is “curtailing US empire” by withdrawing the troops he himself added from Afghanistan and Syria, despite expanding the US military to its largest size, while increasing bombing 400% and civilian casualties nearly 300%.

*Conversation about Trump’s troop withdrawal at 48:00

Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast please consider donating to Media Roots Radio on Patreon: www.patreon.com/mediarootsradio

FOLLOW // twitter.com/AbbyMartin // twitter.com/FluorescentGrey

SOA Action, Deanna, Jacqui and Tom on the Mexican Side


More pictures below info!

Event Info:

Dear Friends,We are excited to welcome you to our 3rd Encuentro, with the theme this year, “Dismantle Border Imperialism!  Fight, Create, Power to the People.”

We have an exciting weekend planned with workshops, actions, and a concert in Mexico. One of the critical events of our time together will include a vigil at Eloy Detention Center – one of the deadliest detention facilities in the United States. Check out the weekend’s events here and check out our social media for livestreams of workshops and other updates.

During this year’s Encuentro, we will also uplift and remember the Salvadoran martyrs that gave their lives speaking truth to power 29 years ago today – six Jesuits priests, Elba and Celina Ramos were murdered at the University of Central America by the Salvadoran army, trained at the School of the Americas.  It is with their spirit that we send the message that when our communities are under attack, we stand up and fight back.

Beyond the activities planned, this weekend will also be a time for our community to connect, resist, and build the power of our movement. Moreover, this weekend will  be a chance for us to stand united in our resolve to fight back – and most importantly to win – because we know that nothing is stronger than the power of the people.

As the asylum seekers’ caravan from Honduras and other countries across Central America approaches the U.S. border, our collective message of ending border imperialism could not be more important.  We urge you to join us however you can – in person or online to uplift our message of solidarity and collective liberation.  With escalating attacks from the Trump administration towards Black and Brown communities our united voices will signal that the fight is far from over.

We hope to see you throughout the weekend and we stand in solidarity with our communities far and near who are standing against U.S. imperialism.

¡Ya basta!
SOA Watch

ENCUENTRO TRAVEL TIPS

– Don’t forget to register for the Encuentro. If your organization would like to endorse the Encuentro, please do so here.
– Bring a form of identification (US Passport, Driver’s License, LPR Card, Work Permit, etc)
– Wear comfortable walking shoes and WARM clothing. Temperatures are dropping, so check the weather forecast to pack accordingly!
– Wear sun protection and bring a water bottle. Remember you are coming to the Sonora Desert. Stay hydrated. Water is life.
– For any and all legal questions, please contact the Legal Collective at southernarizona@nlg.org. There will be a 24-hour legal hotline throughout the weekend: 520-462-3440 
– For any other questions, please contact SOA Watch at 202-234-3440

ENCUENTRO WEEKEND INFORMATION

– Weekend Schedule of Events here
– Download the full Encuentro Program here
– Full schedule of workshops & Panels* here

*While crossing from the US into Mexico does not require much time, crossing from Mexico into the US does (on weekends, the lines can take up to 2 hours or more). Please keep this in mind as you view the weekend schedule of events and make your decisions accordingly. 

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11/17/2018 8:40 AM

Hi all,

Just a quick check in to let you know we are safe and **BUSY**!!! I have a few minutes this morning that I thought I would share what has been going on so far here in Nogales.

Yesterday was a packed day.  We mingled with and met people from all around the country yesterday morning the Hotel Americana in Nogales. At 1:00 we caravanned to Tucson to protest Milkor USA (milkorusa.com – it’s a disgusting website) at the subcontractor in Tucson, called Abrams Airborne Manufacturing. Milkor partnered with them to created the major components of the a 40mm multi-shot grenade launcher). The protest went well – there were about 200 people and George Martin was there! The Tucson Police actually came and helped out due to the crowd size and they even decided to shut down the part of the street we were on to do an impromptu march.

After that we caravanned to Eloy, AZ to hold a rally and vigil a the ICE Detention Center.  There was music, art, poetry, speakers, signing, dancing.  Two of the speakers had actually spent time in the Eloy detention center and are now speaking out in their activism.  At the end all 300-400 people lined the sidewalk in front of the detention center, sang and made noise. we could see people inside jumping up and down and sending us signals of acknowledgement in various ways. They knew we were there and felt the love and support. This rally/vigil portion of the day lasted 3 hours.  We then travelled back to Nogales and crashed!

Today we are starting off the day with a walk to the border led by Veterans for Peace (they have a strong presence here) at 7:30am. Today is tabling and workshop day that will go to about 6pm.  Our GPUS/GPAX table is on the Mexico side. Then at 7:30pm is a concert at the Border wall with a lineup of great artists and featuring Rebel Diaz, a hip hop artist who has been affected personally by the issues.

Tomorrow all the activities take place at the border wall.  Father Roy Bourgeois will be speaking along with many others.  I will report out on that when I can.  We will be leaving Nogales tomorrow after the Border Encuentro closing to head back to Salt Lake, stopping for the night in Flagstaff and then finishing our journey on Monday.

The entire schedule of activities is at this link (it is a pdf):  http://www.soaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/2018_SOAW_ENCUENTO_PROGRAM__LINEAR_PDF_WITH_PAGINATION.pdf

I took the liberty of having 10 lawn signs made that split up what is on our banner (attached). I have the banner, but I wasn’t sure how two of us would be able to use it in the various activities, so I had this done to at least have something with GPAX on it to hold/display.  I also had a table runner done by my sign guy and it is absolutely gorgeous.  He even threw in a green table cloth to put under it.  I will be sure to take a pic today and share. One of the attached photos is of me holding one of the signs, standing beside Georg, at the afternoon protest.

Whew!

Peace,

Dee

Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases!

Thank you all and we love you for all that you have done and do!
Please join in tomorrow in the Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases! And see how you can make a difference doing your local `plan below, saving life on earth now, working w/humanity’s options!

Home

Due to YouTube’s 8 hour limitation on continuous streaming, we had to split the streaming into three separate channels, one for each day.

Live Streaming has now been set up in three parts on each of these links:
New YouTube links for streaming:

Friday November 16, 2018:

Saturday November 17, 2018:

Sunday November 18, 2018:

Here are additional links to the Live Stream for the Conference:

Global Campaign Web Site:
http://NoUSNATOBases.org (3 parts)

USPC Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/USPeaceCouncil/ (3 parts)

Please publicize widely and place on your websites and share on your Facebook and other Pages.

Thank you for peace can be real!

Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases

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Please see what you can take part in now as together we efficiently rethink and mindfully act, as we reach out w/your help to all and share humanity’s options now, for each to do one’s local `plan, w/neighbors and gain healthy working communities, as together we save life on earth and clean it and space up ASAP!

http://i-come-to-talk-story.3220728.n2.nabble.com

Thank you for this read!
Peace is real! love kara
speaking for our combined `effect at `i come to talk story
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Green Party Endorses School of the Americas Annual Border Encuentro

Antinuclear Resisters at Büchel Airbase in Germany

By Pat Elder, July 4, 2018

The German Luftwaffe’s Panavia Tornado fighter jet.

WBW’s Pat Elder is encamped with antinuclear resisters just outside the gate of Büchel Airbase in Germany and he sends us this report.

Early in the morning, when I approached this sprawling airbase that employs 2,000 civilians and soldiers, the bucolic setting was reminiscent of the rolling foothills of the Blueridge Mountains in western Maryland and Virginia. Scattered large, well-kept farmhouses amid the beautiful rolling land planted in wheat and corn reflected this prosperous and peaceful country.

The Airbase (Der Fliegerhorst Büchel) is located in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of western Germany, about 60 km from the border with Belgium and Luxembourg. About 20 US thermonuclear nuclear weapons, fitted to the German Luftwaffe’s Panavia Tornado fighter jet, are ready to be deployed in a moment’s notice. German pilots will take off with these weapons if the order comes from President Trump through NATO. The Germans will drop them on their targets, presumably in Russia.  The Tornado is capable of delivering the B-61 nuclear bomb with a yield of up to 180 kilotons.  That’s 12 times the size of the Hiroshima blast.

Everything seemed normal very early this morning until I reached the access road to the main gate of the base located off a sleepy country road. A stream of cars carrying German soldiers and civilians proceeded into the base at a snail’s pace. As the traffic that engulfed me inched closer, I heard the deafening noise of the Tornado as it lifted off the runway just a few hundred meters away. It is a ghastly and frightening assault to the ears, Like Dylan described,

I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world.

After several minutes of single-lane bumper-to-bumper traffic I came within a hundred meters of the main gate and took a sudden and sharp right into the Peace Camp. This is one of the most extraordinary places on earth.

A prototype B61-12 with its newly designed GPS-guided tail-kit.

The Peace Camp is located on public land adjacent to the base, completely shrouded by a healthy hedge of brush and trees. It has been here, on an acre of land, for five years. There are several camper-trailers and a few large tents with bathrooms and a kitchen. The place has a solar panel that provides electricity to power the satellite and electronic devices. The internet these peaceniks have developed is lightning fast.  Leave it to Germans. I’m impressed with this country. Everything is better here.

I think this Peace Camp and the Peace Park, on the corner at the entrance to the base, demonstrate the guilty conscience of the German people. These great people, perhaps the pinnacle of human civilization, have learned many lessons in their tumultuous history, but this may be beyond their comprehension and/or resolve. They don’t have the courage to stand up to the American empire.

The organization behind the Peace Camp and the Peace Park is the Nonviolent Action Nuclear Weapons Abolition (Gewaltfreien Aktion Atomwaffen Abschaffen, GAAA). It has organized a remarkable twenty weeks of actions to represent the twenty nuclear bombs readied to kill millions. Vigils, rallies, prayer services, flyering, mass demonstrations and civil disobedience actions have been planned for the period that extends to August 9, 2018, Nagasaki Day. People and groups from throughout the continent check in and out. These peace warriors and prophets were greatly encouraged by the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). The leaders, including Marion Kuepker, say they are emboldened by the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This coming weekend a half-dozen local churches, with a healthy mix of Catholics and Protestants, are expected to bring 500 parishioners to the main gate for religious services. Last year, a Catholic Mass brought 60 to the main gate.

The Peace Park is positioned on the corner off the main road that all traffic must pass when it enters the base. The Peace Park carries a strong religious message, reflecting the region’s Catholic identity.

This Catholic shrine in the Peace Park is seen by 2,000 soldiers and civilians as they enter Büchel every day. It is just 200 meters from the main gate.

The shrine depicts Jesus breaking a gun in two. It says, “Think – Atomic weapons are a crime against God and Humanity.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trump administration is in the process of  upgrading the nuclear arsenal at Büchel. The Americans plan to produce the new B 61-12 nuclear weapon by 2020. The B 61-12 will also be deployed with NATO forces in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, and Turkey.

The B 61-12’s thermonuclear warhead will reportedly have a maximum yield of approximately 50 kilotons, (three times Hiroshima) but war planners are expected to be able to reduce that using a so-called “dial-a-yield” feature that effectively limits the extent of the nuclear reaction when the weapon detonates. The weapons may be as small as 0.3 kilotons – about 2% of the size of the 15-kiloton bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima. This feature makes nuclear warfare much more likely – and much more attractive for use as a strategic weapon.

There is often confusion between “tactical” nuclear weapons and the traditional “strategic” nuclear weapon. The new B 61-12 may be considered a tactical nuclear weapon because its blast is generally smaller, and it is designed to be used on a battlefield after a ground war has begun. A strategic nuclear weapon may be several hundred times larger than a tactical weapon and is designed to completely destroy an enemy’s ability to exist or wage war. The largest strategic weapon in the US stockpile is the B-83 with a yield of 1.2 megatons, about 80 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb.

Since the end of World War II, the Germans have dealt heavily with matters of conscience. Germany committed itself in the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970 and all fractions of the Bundestag voted in 2010 for the disarmament of nuclear weapons. Last year 122 states voted for a UN nuclear weapons ban, while Germany abstained.

Nonviolent Action Nuclear Weapons Abolition calls for the German federal government to withdraw all nuclear weapons from Büchel and all nuclear weapons from German soil.  The overwhelming majority of Germans – a staggering 93%  – want nuclear weapons to be banned just as chemical and biological weapons have been banned, according to an opinion poll commissioned by the German chapter of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).

About 50 German peace groups are involved in a long-term campaign to prevent the switch to the more user-friendly B 61-12. There is a deep and genuine fear of this new weapon. The core element of the campaign is the Declaration of Commitment signature campaign where people declare
on the website:

I will come to Büchel once a year and take part in an action until nuclear weapons are withdrawn, and I will actively commit to seeking a nuclear weapons-free world in the place where I am living.”

The brilliant German organizers are holding an international week of action next week, from July 10th to the 18th.  If you are interested in joining, please contact: Marion Kuepker: mariongaaa@gmx.de

World BEYOND War is honored to be associated with these actions.

Speaking of nuclear weapons, Pope Francis has categorically condemned not only “the threat of their use” but also “their very possession.”

Original article here: https://worldbeyondwar.org/antinuclear-resisters-at-buchel-airbase-in-germany

 

COMBAT VET, WEST POINT GRAD FORCED TO RESIGN FOR SUPPORTING ECONOMIC & RACIAL JUSTICE

By Spenser Rapone, Truthdig.com
RESIST!
Original Link: https://popularresistance.org/combat-vet-west-point-grad-forced-to-resign-for-supporting-economic-racial-justice/

Above Photo: Fist raised, Spenser Rapone displays a slogan written inside his cap after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in May 2016. (Courtesy of Spenser Rapone via AP)

Editor’s note: On the outside, Spenser Rapone’s West Point graduation uniform looked like all the other cadets’. Underneath his dress uniform, however, was evidence of his political views: a T-shirt bearing Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara’s image, and a cap that read, inside, “Communism will win.”

The shirt and hat made waves in the U.S. military community after Rapone posted photos of them on social media in September, and now he has been given an “other than honorable” discharge. According to The Associated Press, he was charged with “conduct unbecoming of an officer” after an Army investigation determined that he “went online to promote a socialist revolution and disparage high-ranking officers.”

In the following statement for Truthdig, Rapone explains his political beliefs.

I am a combat veteran with the First Ranger Battalion, a recent graduate of West Point and a former second lieutenant who was stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y. Since identifying myself as a socialist, there has been much controversy generated by a number of my public statements.

It began with my post on social media, in which I expressed my full and enthusiastic support of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his fight against racial injustice, white supremacy and police brutality. After revealing a picture of myself in uniform with the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick, I was met by solidarity from my fellow soldiers, as well as harsh blowback from my chain of command.

To this day, I stand by my convictions, despite the efforts of ranking officers to pressure me into silence. I believe that standing up for the exploited and the oppressed is the most honorable thing we can do as people. No job should hinder or repress this pursuit, which is why I decided to resign my commission as an officer in the United States Army. My conditional resignation was denied by the secretary of the Army. Instead, the military forced me into either submitting an unconditional resignation or appearing before a board of inquiry—an adversarial trial in which a jury of senior officers would determine my fate. Rather than submit to the antics of what amounts to a show trial at best, I tendered my unconditional resignation. Passing judgment on me one last time, the military determined the character of my service to be “other than honorable.” Despite the brass prolonging my time in service, I have come to the conclusion that leaving the military altogether, whatever the circumstances, is the only moral way forward. During this ordeal, I have learned that I am far from alone in my feelings of disillusionment and betrayal within the rank and file of the U.S. military.

As a teenager, I believed the United States military was a force of good for the world. I thought that I signed up to fight for freedom and democracy, to protect my loved ones and my country from harm. My experiences showed me otherwise.

After bearing witness to the senseless destruction in Afghanistan during my combat deployment to Khost Province in the summer of 2011, I knew that our wars must be stopped. I was assigned to my platoon as an assistant machine-gunner. I took part in missions where human beings were killed, captured and terrorized. However, the horror wrought by the U.S. military’s overseas ventures is not limited to combat engagements alone. Some nights, we barely did anything at all but walk through a village. As such, the longer I was there, the more it became apparent that the mere presence of an occupying force was a form of violence. My actions overseas did not help or protect anybody. I felt like I was little more than a bully, surrounded by the most well-armed and technologically advanced military in history, in one of the poorest countries in the world. I saw many of my fellow soldiers all too eager to carry out violence for the sake of violence. There is no honor in such bloodlust; quite the contrary. I saw firsthand how U.S. foreign policy sought to carry out the subjugation of poor, brown people in order to steal natural resources, expand American hegemony and extinguish the self-determination of any group that dare oppose the empire. Idealistic and without a coherent worldview yet, I thought that perhaps pursuing an officer’s commission would allow me to change things and help put a stop to the madness. I was wrong.

It soon dawned on me how pervasive the military-industrial complex is. I studied, examined my own experiences and began to grasp more completely the horrors and impact of U.S. imperialism. Learning that over a million people have lost their lives since 9/11—the vast majority being innocent civilians—began to haunt me. Seeing that up to a trillion dollars a year were being diverted from education, health care and infrastructure in the U.S. to support our 800 military bases around the world began to feel increasingly maddening. Within the Army itself, one out of three women are sexually assaulted. The death of football player and later soldier Pat Tillman by friendly fire was covered up to sell a war. Generals responsible for war crimes—from the unbridled destruction of Afghan and Iraqi villages to the construction of torture prisons—are rewarded with accolades and political power. These sad and dishonorable truths increasingly grew impossible to ignore. The military was not the noble and selfless institution the commercials and Hollywood movies made it out to be—far from it.

At West Point, I soon found myself at odds with my future role as someone tasked with the responsibility of leading soldiers into battle. However, leaving West Point after my junior year would have meant returning to the enlisted ranks or finding a way to come up with a quarter-million dollars to pay the academy back. So I stuck it out, hoping I would find a way to reconcile this contradiction. Again, I was wrong. Upon returning to Fort Benning, Ga., to begin my training as an infantry officer following graduation, I was filled with dread. It was like I was in a place simultaneously familiar and unknown. There were things I noticed that my 18-year-old self could not have recognized before. Most strikingly, I observed the scope of the brainwashing within the ranks, from bald, buzz-cut, mostly teenage infantrymen fresh out of training, to college graduates eager to lead those naïve soldiers into America’s next war. I felt witness to a collective delusion—one that I was once a part of, but had somehow miraculously escaped. After nearly a year there, as I prepared to move to my new duty station at Fort Drum, one thing became clear: I cannot be a part of this any longer. I cannot kill or die for the U.S. military—no one should.

I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. My feelings and experiences are not an anomaly. I know, because I have had conversations with others who have expressed the same sentiments.

You are out there, and should you take the same steps that I have, I am with you. While the prospect is daunting, united together we have far more power than all of the generals and politicians combined. We possess the ability to grind this entire military machine to a halt. It is high time we live up to the trust and respect bestowed upon us by the people. Let our mutual love of humanity and our desire for liberation and peace be our guiding principles.

Most importantly, let us find common cause with the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Libya and so many others who have suffered at the behest of the United States. To those soldiers who I’ve heard from, and to those I haven’t yet, I hope that you too find the courage to lay your weapons down with me, and refuse your orders to kill and die for the benefit of a handful of ruling-class elites at the great expense of the rest of us. Freedom lies on the other side. Together, let us fight to put a stop to these endless trillion-dollar wars, and let us join our brothers and sisters around the world in putting a stop to all forms of exploitation, oppression and senseless violence.