A workshop presented by Margaret Flowers, Rich Whitney and Kevin Zeese at the 2020 Green Party Annual National Meeting
LETTER FROM PRESIDENT MADURO
– Coat of Arms –
Caracas, 29th March 2020
To the Peoples of the World
In greeting you, with affection, I take the liberty of addressing you on the occasion of denouncing the severe events taking place against the peace and stability of Venezuela, at a time when the concern of the States and Governments should be focused on the protection of the life and health of their citizens, due to the acceleration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As it is publicly known, last March 26, the government of the United States announced a very serious action against a group of high officials of the Venezuelan State, including the Constitutional President of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro.
This action consisted in the presentation of a formal accusation before the American judicial system, which is not only by illegal in itself, by also seeks to support a false accusation of drug trafficking and terrorism, with the sole objective of simulating the alleged judicialization of the Venezuelan authorities.
This American performance includes the unusual offer of an international reward to anyone who provides information about the President and the high Venezuelan officials, leading to a dangerous moment of tension in the continent. I therefore consider it necessary to make an account of the facts, which reveal the perverse plot behind the accusations of the Department of Justice.
Just one day before, on March 25, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela denounced before national and international public opinion the development in Colombian territory of a operation aimed at attempting against the life of President of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro Moros, his family members and high State officials; as well as attacking civil and military objectives in our country, accusing Mr. Clíver Alcalá, a retired general of the Venezuelan armed forces, of being the military chief of that operation.
This denounce was made with all responsibility, after a control operation in the road to the north of Colombia, near the border with Venezuela, was announced on March 24, in which the police of that country captured a batch or war weapons in a civilian vehicle.
The investigations revealed that it was a sophisticated arsenal aimed at a group of former Venezuelan and Colombian military and paramilitary personnel who were training in camps located in Colombian territory.
On March 26, the aforementioned Clíver Alcalá, gave a statement to a Colombian media outlet -from his residence in the city of Barranquilla, Colombia- in which he confirmed his participation in the reported events, confessing to being the military leader of the operation and revealing that the weapons were purchased by order of Mr. Juan Guaidó, national deputy, who calls himself interim President of Venezuela and serves as Washington’s operator in the country. He also confirmed that the weapons were intended to carry out a military operation to assassinate senior members of the Venezuelan State and Government and to produce a coup d’état in Venezuela.
Mr. Alcalá clarified that the weapons were purchased through a contract signed by himself, Mr. Juan Guaidó, U.S. advisors and Mr. Juan José Rendón, political advisor to President Iván Duque, and carried out with the knowledge of Colombian government authorities.
In the face of this confession, the unusual response of the United States government has been the publication of the accusations mentioned at the beginning of this letter, with the extravagant inclusion of the name of Mr. Alcalá, as if he were part of the Venezuelan aucthorities and not a mercenary hired by the United States to carry out a terrorist operation against the Venezuelan government.
As a demonstration of this statement, I need no more proof than to mention the alleged capture of Mr. Alcalá by Colombian security forces and his immediate surrender to U.S. DEA authorities, in a curious act in which the prisoner, without handcuffs, was shaking hands with his captors, right in front of the stairs of the plane that would take him on a special VIP flight to the United States, which shows that in reality this whole set-up is about the rescue of someone they consider a U.S. agent.
It must be stressed that the unsuccessful armed operation was originally designed to be executed at the end of this month, while all of Venezuela is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Actually, this is precisely the main battle that concerns humanity today.
A battle that our nation is successfully waging, having managed to stop the contagion curve, reinforcing health provisions and keeping the population in a massive quarantine, with a low number of positive cases and deaths.
For all these reasons, the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela alerts our brothers and sisters of political organizations and social movements around the world about the reckless and criminal steps being taken by the administration of Donald Trump which, despite the frightening acceleration of the growth of COVID-19 affecting the American people, seems determined to deepen its policy of aggression against sovereign states in the region, and especially against the Venezuelan people.
During the pandemic, the U.S. government, instead of focusing on policies of global cooperation in health and prevention, has increased unilateral coercive measures, has rejected the requests from the international community to lift or make flexible the illegal sanctions that prevent Venezuela from accessing medicines, medical equipment and food.
At the same time, it has banned humanitarian flights from the United States to Venezuela to repatriate hundreds of Venezuelans trapped in the economic and health crisis in the northern country.
By denouncing these serious facts, Venezuela ratifies its unwavering will to maintain a relationship of respect and cooperation with all nations, especially in this unprecedented circumstance that forces responsible governments to work together and put aside their differences, as is the case with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under such serious circumstances, I request your invaluable support in the face of this unusual and arbitrary persecution, executed through a new version of that rancid McCarthyism unleashed after World War II. At that time, they willingly labeled their adversaries as Communists in order to persecute them; today they do so by means of the whimsical categories of terrorists or drug traffickers, without having any evidence whatsoever.
Condemning and neutralizing today these unjustifiable attacks against Venezuela will be very useful to prevent Washington from launching similar campaigns against other peoples and governments of the world tomorrow. We must all adhere to the principles of the United Nations Charter, to prevent excessive unilateralism from leading to international chaos.
Brothers and sisters of the world, you can be absolutely sure that Venezuela will stand firm in its fight for peace and that, under any circumstances, it will prevail. No imperialist aggression, however ferocious it may be, will divert us from the sovereign and independent path that we have forged for 200 years, nor will it distance us from the sacred obligation to preserve the life and health of our people in the face of the frightening global pandemic of COVID-19.
I take this opportunity to express my solidarity and that of the people of Venezuela to all the peoples who today also suffer serious consequences from the effects of the pandemic. If we are obliged to draw any lesson from all this difficult experience, it is precisely that only together we can move forward. The political and economic models that advocate selfishness and individualism have demonstrated their total failure to face this situation. Let us firmly advance towards a new World with justice and social equality, in which the happiness and fullness of the human being is the center of our actions.
I appreciate the solidarity that you have permanently expressed towards my country and my people, denouncing the criminal blockade to which we and many other nations are subjected. I take this opportunity to reiterate my respect and affection, and to invite you to continue united, plowing a future of hope and dignity.
– Seal of the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela –
Nicolás Maduro Moros
Interview with a Political Activist in El Alto
[Note: The following interview with a Bolivian activist in El Alto, whose name is being withheld for obvious security reasons, was conducted by The Organizer editorial board member Alan Benjamin on Sunday, November 17. The interview is reprinted from the November-December 2019 issue of The Organizer.]
Question: What is the situation in Bolivia in the aftermath of the coup? How is the resistance to the coup being organized?
Answer: After the conspiracy of the police, the military, and the right-wing leaders that led to the November 10 resignation of Evo Morales and placed the coup-plotters in the governmental palace, their first measure was to burn the Whipala, the flag that represents the Quechua-Aymara peoples and that is recognized as one of the nation’s two flags in the 2009 Political Constitution of the State.
The burning of the Whipala means the return to the heinous racism and discrimination by the traditional right wing. This action by the coup government, together with the self-proclamation by supposed “president” Jeanine Añez, has triggered the mobilization of scores of popular sectors, neighborhood councils, and youth from the city of El Alto, the main bastion of the struggles of October 2003 and 2005 that succeeded in ousting then-president Gustavo Sanchez de Lozada, known as the “Gringo Goni.” Workers and youth at that time had mobilized against Goni’s Hydrocarbons Law with protests that were met with large-scale repression, resulting in 60 deaths.
Since Monday, November 11, massive marches of people have descended every day from the city of El Alto to the seat of government in La Paz. Hundreds of police, military and armored cars have sealed off the Plaza Murillo (where the government palace is located), repressing the population with tear gas and arresting people who were not even participating in the mobilizations. People have been apprehended just for carrying a Whipala.
Likewise, the peasants and neighbors of the poorest areas around the southern zone of La Paz have been repressed savagely. Two people have been killed, as the local authorities have had to acknowledge.
Relatives of the killed activists have reported in the social media how the military are breaking into people’s homes and beating the activists and their families indiscriminately.
The media are silent, but the social networks are flooded with videos and images that show the savagery that has been unleashed against the population.
The most recent repression occurred on Friday, November 15, when peasants from the Cochabamba region were heading towards the center of that city in a peaceful march, but were intercepted at the Huayllani Bridge, in the Sacaba region, by the military and police forces, which fired lethal weapons at the unarmed population.
The result of this police-military operation was nine deaths and hundreds of wounded and arrested. The media have sought to present this as an “armed confrontation” between the military and the demonstrators — but the fact is that not a single police officer, not a single soldier, was killed.
The media have ignored the statement by Cochabamba public defender Nelson Cox, who declared: “Visiting the hospitals, we have not found a single wounded policeman or soldier. There can be no talk of confrontation when what occurred was an action by the military and police that harmed the lives of the civilians who were mobilizing peacefully.” (statement posted on the website of Chasqui Clandestina)
On the following day, Saturday, November 16, a widely attended Cabildo [a town-hall meeting, or popular assembly – Tr. note] took place in the city of El Alto. Neighbors, workers, and young people gathered behind the Whipala with a black emblem attached to it, to signify the people’s outrage over the repression by the military and police forces which, so far, has taken the lives of 23 people, with hundreds of people seriously wounded and/or arrested.
All 14 districts that make up the city of El Alto were represented at the Cabildo. Peasant representatives from the 20 provinces of the department of La Paz were also present, as were rural teacher delegations from Alto Beni (which is the eastern sector of Bolivia), among other sectors.
The leaders of the Federation of Neighborhood Councils (FEJUVE) of El Alto were disavowed on the grounds that they are corrupt and do not represent the interests of the people of El Alto. As a consequence a new leadership of the FEJUVE has been formed.
Among its main decisions, the Cabildo called for the resignation of self-proclaimed president Jeanine Añez and the immediate release of all detainees nationwide. It also declared an indefinite strike with the blockade of 1,000 street corners.
As the workers and people were gathered in the Cabildo in El Alto, the so-called president issued Supreme Decree 4078, which authorizes the armed forces and police to “restore internal order” without having to be held accountable for their criminal actions. This is nothing but a license to kill.
As we speak [Sunday, November 17] popular sectors, carrying out the decisions of the Cabildo, are currently taking up their positions at the designated blockade points. We don’t yet have information about what is happening with the blockades. We are certainly not going to get reports from the national media, which has been assigned the task of turning a blind eye to the savage repression and making the anger of the population at the measures of the so-called president Jeanine Añez invisible.
Question: What has been the policy of the Bolivian Workers Central — the historic COB confederation — in relation to the recent coup, and, more recently, to the resistance? Have there been discussions within the COB and/or its affiliates regarding the November 10 COB statement, which we in the United States found shocking, calling for Evo’s resignation “for the sake of the health of the nation”?
Answer: On November 10, as you point out, the main leader of the COB, Juan Carlos Guarachi, called for the resignation of Evo Morales in the name of “preserving the peace in the country.” A similar statement was issued by Orlando Gutierrez, leader of the National Mineworkers Federation (FSTMB), the backbone of the COB. This marked a right-wing break by the COB and its main affiliate with the government of Evo Morales.
In the aftermath of the resignation of Morales and in response to the ongoing popular mobilizations, the COB issued a resolution dated November 12 stating that the powers-that-be had 48 hours to come up with a “constitutional solution,” otherwise they would declare an indefinite general strike.
But what kind of “constitutional solution” can be reached when you have a self-appointed president, supported by the armed forces, who has trampled upon the Constitution? She cannot even muster a sufficient quorum in the Congress to have herself declared a rightful president. The COB has remained silent until now, even though the 48-hour deadline has come and gone.
Having said that, there is growing dissension in the union ranks.
Prior to the coup, mineworkers in the State sector — in Huanuni, Vinto, Coro Coro, and Colquir — denounced the fact that behind the “Citizen Mobilizations” lurked the old right-wing parties.
Recently, on November 12, the most combative union of the FSTMB — the mine workers’ union in Huanuni — adopted a resolution denouncing all those who have lent a hand to the right wing, highlighting the leader of Santa Cruz Civic Committee billionaire Luis Fernando Camacho as a racist. The resolution affirms that, “the struggle has begun” and that “a state of emergency has been declared in Huanuni” — but to date the union has not called for mobilization.
Question: Any further comments?
Answer: At this moment, the main demand of the mobilized sectors of the population — a demand with which I concur fully — is the resignation of Jeanine Añez, who symbolizes the return of the gorilla and racist right wing. If the COB and FSTMB were to join the mobilizations, this would mark a real show of strength by the workers’ and people’s organizations against the perpetrators of the coup.
He and I decided to go into the old city of Jerusalem yesterday. Because Yasser and his cousin, Lama, were both at work we went via the bus system. From Al-Ram, where Yasser and Lama live, there is no route to Jerusalem without having to pass through the Israeli military checkpoint located near the Qalandiya refugee camp, a well-known center of Palestinian resistance to Israel’s illegal occupation.
The distance between Al-Ram and Jerusalem is about 6 miles. Our journey took us nearly 2 hours. What we experienced is common for Palestinian people without cars. And on that day there were no additional delays imposed by the Israeli military at the checkpoints— just the “usual” waiting in long lines.
We left Yasser’s at around 9:00 am and were walking down the hill to the bus stop located on the town’s main street when a man in a car stopped and asked us where we were heading. We told him, he beckoned us to get in, we did, and he drove us to the bus stop, only a short distance away. A small bus was waiting, and once we learned it was heading to Qalandiya checkpoint, the first leg of our journey, we got on.
The buses that take passengers to the checkpoint are yellow mini-vans that hold up to 7 people. Like the majority of vehicles in the smaller towns in the West Bank, they tend to be battered—dusty inside and out, worn shocks, the upholstery clean but stained. Sometimes there are seatbelts, sometimes none are apparent or are broken or ripped. I never saw anyone wear one.
The driver (who was maybe in his 40’s) didn’t interact with his passengers, except to collect the bus fare and return any change to a hand at the front that passed it back to the paying passenger. Because I had a good view of the driver in the rear view mirror, I could see his face—I thought his dark eyes and face looked worn and tired, maybe bored, too, with deep creases across his forehead and along the sides of his cheeks and mouth. The exception was when a small child got on at one of the stops. His face brightened, his eyes lit up, and a small smile formed at the corners of his mouth. As everywhere, children here offer a spark of life—perhaps it’s even such momentary joy a child’s presence brings that helps keep total despair at bay.
For some unknown reason, the driver didn’t drop He and me off until we were about a ¼ mile past the checkpoint. He asked a man in one of the many shops on the street for directions. With the help of his Arabic phrase book, He managed to ask “How do we to get to Qalandiya checkpoint?”, and with hand gestures waving and pointing, the man directed us.
We turned back and headed down the shop-lined road, crowded with cars, vans, buses and pedestrians. But for one bright splash of a rose bougainvillea, it was dusty and bleak—stone rubble and trash on both sides of the road, a cement-block building with a demolished second floor, exposed rusted spines of steel holding the carcass together. We soon saw many other people heading in a particular way, so we followed.
At first we walked on the right side of the road, directly towards the gates where cars pass, but we heard a sharp whistle to get our attention, and a female soldier waved at us to move to the left side of the area. We climbed over and around temporary cement blocks and barriers and met another soldier—a young man, dark-skinned, small in stature, with a smile that softened the effect of his being fully equipped with weapons used to threaten, wound or kill. He gave us additional directions to the pedestrian Qalandiya checkpoint.
Later I remembered that not so long ago (September 2019) at this same checkpoint, a young Muslim woman had similarly seemed confused about where to go to reach the bus section. Apparently she did not turn back when warned, and so the private security guards hired by Israel chased her, shot her several times and then left her bleeding—medics of the Palestinian Red Crescent were prevented from getting to her to provide first aid. She later died in an Israeli hospital in East Jerusalem. Israel claimed she was carrying a knife.
We continued on to an official looking one-story white building with two Israeli flags flying from the flat roof—the location of the Qalandiya checkpoint that demarcates a boundary between the West Bank and East Jerusalem. With many others, mostly young or old and seemingly poorer Palestinians, we walked up the steps and into the front entrance. We then needed to pass through a winding and walled, single-person-width passageway into a large room that branched into three separate smaller rooms. We stayed in the middle room designated for people going to Jerusalem.
An elderly couple with a battered piece of luggage and large black plastic bags looked around, clearly uneasy, and uncertain about where to go. The woman in traditional Muslim dress with a hijab (headscarf that covers the head and neck) and brown, unadorned thob (a long, full robe-like dress) took the lead and walked around examining the rooms and signs. After a brief and quiet discussion with her husband, the couple moved to the room on the right.
The next step in passing through the checkpoint was to go through a floor-to-ceiling metal turnstile big enough for one person at a time that allowed only a certain number of people to pass through before it stopped turning. As we exited, we were directed to another turnstile (similar to those for getting onto a train in a subway) where we were required to show our passport to an armed guard. Palestinians were required to show their ID card.
We moved through yet another floor-to-ceiling turnstile before we were required to put our backpacks, jewelry and other metal items onto an airport-type conveyor belt that moved through a machine checking for dangerous items stowed in the bags. And we, too, had to walk through a metal-detecting device so the Israeli guards could be ensured that we posed no security threat.
From that point, we were allowed to exit the building and go to the bus station, a large dirt-packed parking area with white coach-sized buses for passengers wanting to travel to the East Jerusalem bus station. Two full buses later, we were able to get onto a bus with vacant seats. And at 11:00 we arrived at the East Jerusalem bus station, 2 hours after leaving Yasser’s.
Such is the daily life for many Palestinians.
Sending this with love and with the commitment to work for the freedom and human rights of the Palestinian people,
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance
The People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet is two weeks away. The “People’s Mobe” will be held from September 20 to 23 in New York City during the United Nations General Assembly.
Members of the Venezuelan Embassy Protection Collective started organizing the People’s Mobe in May. Organizers sought to bring the issue of US violations of international law, such as when the State Department violated the Vienna Convention by raiding the Venezuelan Embassy on May 16, to the UN General Assembly and began to plan around September 21, the International Day of Peace. Organizers wrote:
At a time when all of the world leaders gather, we will say we’ve had enough of the US War Machine.
We demand the US be held accountable for its destructive acts. It’s time for the US government to obey the United Nations Charter by stopping regime change operations, ending the use of unilateral coercive measures (aka sanctions) and ceasing military attacks.
We demand the US sign the nuclear weapons ban treaty, rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement and Paris climate treaty, disband NATO and close bases and outposts around the world.
We demand an immediate transition to a peace economy that uses our resources to meet human needs and protect the planet.
The People’s Mobe begins with the Climate Strike on Friday, September 20, an international day of action on the climate crisis, and ends with a solidarity evening uniting countries and popular movements around opposition to US intervention and respect for international laws that uphold sovereignty, human rights and protection of the planet.
The weekend will also focus on decolonization joining a protest for the liberation of Puerto Rico and black resistance to racism and militarism in the “Americas.”
Schedule of Events for the People’s Mobilization Against the US War Machine
Friday, September 20 – People’s Climate Strike. Starts at Foley Square at noon, then a march to Battery Park for a rally at 3:00 pm. We’ll bring messages connecting militarism and the climate crisis.
Saturday, September 21 – Puerto Rico Independence Rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at the UN. It’s time to decolonize Puerto Rico! Time TBA.
Saturday, September 21 – Race, Militarism and Black Resistance in the “America’s” from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at the Green Worker Cooperative, 1231 Lafayette Ave in the Bronx.
Sunday, September 22 – People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet Rally and March, Herald Square near 34th St.and 6th Ave., 2:00 pm. Featuring Cornel West, Roger Waters, members of the Embassy Protection Collective, Chairman Omali Yeshitela, music by Ben Grosscup plus many solidarity, climate crisis, and resistance groups. More special guests to be announced.
Monday, September 23 – Solidarity evening with UN representatives from countries targeted by US sanctions and intervention. “A Path to International Peace: Realizing the Vision of the United Nations Charter.” Location: Community Church of New York 40 East 35th St., New York City, 10016. Hear from UN representatives and social movements. The Peace Memorial Prize will be awarded and David Rovics will perform. Time: 6:30 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm). You must register in advance. Register at http://bit.ly/RSVPapathtopeace. The event is free but we will accept donations to help cover the costs.
People’s Mobilization Shows Interconnections At Historical Moment
The People’s Mobe is connecting the issues of militarism, climate crisis, racism, and decolonization. We cannot achieve economic, racial and environmental justice or peace without forming a united people’s force that demands international law be obeyed by the greatest violator of laws, the United States.
We face multiple crisis issues that are reaching their breaking points. We are in a climate emergency as fires, hurricanes, flooding, and drought are becoming common experiences, destroying communities and causing hundreds of thousands of deaths annually. Even if the US government ignores climate science, people understand it and realize these conditions are worsening. As a result, the Global Climate Strike from September 20-27 was called. Popular Resistance will participate in the Strike in NYC; other peace activists are joining the Shut-Down DC Climate Strike. We urge peace activists throughout the country to support the Climate Strike and demonstrate the connection between militarism and climate.
The role of the US military in climate change is massive as oil is essential for the war machine. There is no such thing as a Green War. We cannot confront climate change without confronting US militarism.
Even though the US military produces more climate pollution than 140 countries combined, the US-made sure the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change from 1997, the first international accord to limit global warming emissions, excluded fossil fuel emissions by the military. Even the Paris Agreement, which Trump withdrew from, still enabled the US to avoid reporting Pentagon emissions.
As a result, the greatest fossil fuel polluter on the planet is excluded despite the fact that the US military accounts for 25% of the total US consumption of oil, which is itself 25% of the total world consumption. US military fossil fuel pollution is equivalent to 25 million additional cars on US roads. The US Air Force is the single largest consumer of jet fuel in the world.
The US and allies learned in World War II that controlling the oil supply and cutting off Germany’s access to oil was essential to defeating Hitler. Since then, domination of oil reserves has been a central goal of US policy to ensure its role as the global superpower. Even with the rapid increase in US fossil fuel production, denying China access to oil from Iran, Venezuela, Russia, and other sources is critical to remaining the world’s dominant power. The US and its war machine drive the rise in greenhouse gases.
The ties between war and racism have been evident throughout US history since the “Indian Wars” of Manifest Destiny and the theft of one-fifth of Mexico during the US war with Mexico, which gave the US control of much of North America. As the US expanded its empire beyond the continent, the US fought wars against people of color all over the world and today is rapidly militarizing Africa.
As happens with empires, the empire turns against its own people to take as much as it can from its poor and working classes for the wealthiest. Not only has this resulted in an immense wealth divide and widespread poverty, homelessness and inadequate education for many people in the US, but it has also led to militarized police forces that use weapons and techniques of war against the people in the United States. The prime targets of domestic militarized police are communities of color, which have been left destitute from neglect and the funneling of wealth upwards in a racially-biased manner.
Part of being the largest empire in world history not only includes an empire of bases and dollar domination of trade and the global economy, but also the US remains a colonizer nation. While decolonization created scores of independent nations from 1945-1960, the United States did not decolonize. As a result states like Hawaii, which was an independent nation throughout most of its history, did not become independent and territories like Puerto Rico, which had broken from Spanish colonization only to be captured as a US colony, remain.
Uniting To End Empire and Militarization, and put People and Planet First
The Peoples Mobilization comes at a time when all of these fronts of struggle are coming together. Climate activists realize that ending wars for oil, closing bases and making serious cuts to military funding are essential for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and financing a global Green New Deal. Anti-war activists recognize that keeping fossil fuels in the ground is essential for stopping endless wars.
It is time to stop the US war machine and for the US government to stop its global gangsterism. The US must obey international law and be held accountable for illegal and destructive acts. The Non-Aligned Movement countries made a commitment to do what they can this past July. Now, we need a global popular movement that pushes to make peace, justice, and a livable future a reality.
If you agree, sign onto the Global Appeal for Peace. We plan to deliver it to the United Nations while they are in session. Beyond that, we will continue to build a global solidarity movement to Stop The US War Machine and Save the Planet.
Private concerns are gutting the Amazon rainforest, contributing to fires, the loss of plant and animal species, and global warming through the release of carbon as trees are cleared. More than 74,000 fires have burned approximately 7,200 square miles this year in the Brazilian portion of the rainforest.
“Brazilian politicians are lobbying U.S. businesses like Cargill and Burger King for contracts by promoting the Amazon region for reckless and exploitative ranching, logging and mining operations,” said Craig Seeman, member of the Green Party’s Animal Rights Committee.
Green Party of the United States
For Immediate Release:
August 28, 2019
“The cattle sector of the Brazilian Amazon, incentivized by the international beef and leather trades, has been responsible for about 80% of all deforestation in the region. The lax enforcement of rules and regulations by leaders in Brazil and the United States have set the tone for widespread pillage of protected areas in both countries.”
Among other things, scientists recommend that we restore ecosystems and stop burning fossil fuels to avoid “irreversible loss in land ecosystem services required for food, health and habitable settlements.”
“Greens have been at the forefront in calling for a strong international climate treaty,” said Steve Newman, Secretary of the Green Party of Florida and a member of the Green Party of the U.S. Eco-Action Committee. “The climate treaty reached in Paris in 2015 is inadequate to address the climate change crisis, and the current impasse at the international level displays a dangerous lack of commitment toward addressing a climate emergency. The Green Party calls for legally binding commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2020 and a 95% reduction by 2030 over 1990 levels.”
The Green Party further calls for:
- the elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels, nuclear power, biomass and waste incineration and biofuels;
- acknowledge that the bulk of the U.S. military budget is an indirect subsidy for oil & gas corporations, and redirect that spending into sustainable energy production regenerative agriculture and “green jobs”;
- work to provide a carbon neutral development path for developing countries to help them avoid burning cheap fossil fuels;
- a move to convert our food production to small-scale organic, regenerative agriculture (agroecology) systems to restore soil health, sequester carbon, foster biodiversity, discourage the currently unsustainable level of meat consumption, and secure robust ecosystem services for a sustainable future;
- acknowledgement and support the role of indigenous people and other local Brazilian activists who are fighting to save the rainforest. According to Amazon Watch’s Moira Birss: “Indigenous people of the Amazon have been sounding the alarm about risks to the rainforest for years and resisting the destruction — sometimes at the cost of their own lives. Now that the world is finally paying attention, it’s important to also understand that governments and companies around the world are emboldening Bolsonaro’s toxic policies when they enter trade agreements with his government or invest in agribusiness companies operating in the Amazon.”
Photograph: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov using data from August 27, 2019
6 charts show why thousands of fires in the Amazon rainforest matter to the world
Sergent, James; Elizabeth Lawrence, George Petras. USA Today, Aug. 23, 2019
Fires are devouring the Amazon. And Jair Bolsonaro is to blame
Miranda, David. The Guardian, Aug, 26, 201
Amazon: “Global Emergency”
Mendonca, Maria Luisa; Christopher Poitier, Moira Birss. Institute for Public Accuracy, Aug. 27, 2019
GOP Lobbyists Help Brazil Recruit U.S. Companies To Exploit The Amazon
Fang, Lee. The Intercept, Aug 23, 2019
Fires in the Amazon could be part of a doomsday scenario that sees the rainforest spewing carbon into the atmosphere and speeding up climate change even more
Baker, Sinead. Business Insider, Aug. 22, 2019
Cattle Ranching in the Amazon Region
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Global Forest Atlas
You And Meat Can Save The Planet
Rowland, Michael Pellman. Forbes, Aug. 23, 2019
The Amazon Fires Reveal the Dysfunction of the Global Community
Foer, Franklin. Defense One, Aug. 25, 2019
2018 Outside Spending, by Donors’ Industries
Center for Responsive Politics. OpenSecrets
Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines
Ceballos, Gerardo; Paul R. EHrlich, Rodolfo Dirzo. PNAS, Mar. 28, 2017
With Amazon Rainforest Ablaze, Brazil Faces Global Backlash
Andreoni, Manuela; Leticia Casado, Ernest Londono. NY Times, Aug. 22, 23, 2019
Although battles are still raging in Hodeidah, people displaced from the port city have already begun returning to their homes from Sanaa, as they struggle to feed their families in the Yemeni capital.
Since pro-Yemeni government forces began their assault on the highly strategic Red Sea city a year ago, the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) in Sanaa has played the leading role in providing Hodeidah’s displaced with monthly food packages.
However, the WFP suspended aid distribution in Sanaa last month after disputes with the Houthis over the agency’s biometric system introduced to prevent the rebel movement from diverting aid.
The decision affects 850,000 people in the capital Sanaa, including Hodeidah displaced.
Staring at the prospect of starvation in the capital, some Yemenis have returned to their war-torn homes where they are more likely to secure their monthly rations.
Mohammed al-Boraie, 43, fled his house in Hodeidah’s al-Rabasah neighbourhood in June 2018 after hearing there were organisations in Sanaa that could help the displaced there. He left everything behind, prioritising the safety of his seven family members.
“A friend rented a house for me in Sanaa and that was the first step towards stability,” Boraie told Middle East Eye.
WFP aid suspension
displaced back home
With starvation threats looming, Yemenis are trickling back from Sanaa to find a battle-ravaged city
in Hodeidah, Yemen
Published date: 1 July 2019 13:45 UTC
“Then the sheikh of the neighbourhood registered my name as a beneficiary for WFP aid and I have been receiving food aid from the WFP since August 2018.”
Boraie used to work as a bus driver, but when he arrived in Sanaa he could not find any work and his family struggled with basic services and proper healthcare.
“During the last year, we were depending on WFP food aid and the food was enough for the whole month,” he said.
“If not for the WFP aid, my children would starve to death.”
Boraie never thought that the WFP would stop providing his family with the much-needed food – and was shocked when they did.
“When the sheikh told me that the WFP would not provide us with food, I changed all our plans as we cannot stay in Sanaa without it,” he said.
“We knew from the sheikh that the WFP would continue to distribute food aid in Hodeidah and they only suspended it in Sanaa, so there was no choice but to return to our house in Hodeidah.”
Boraie borrowed money for transportation from a friend and took his family back to Hodeidah on 23 June.
When he arrived, he found the city in a better state than it had been last year – regular life has returned to some extent, despite ongoing battles in the outskirts.
In fact, Boraie said, anxiety he faced about the fighting last year has been replaced by fears his family will die of starvation instead.
There are 3.3 million people internally displaced in Yemen, while the humanitarian crisis there remains the worst in the world.
Nearly four years of conflict and severe economic decline have driven the country to the brink of famine and exacerbated needs in all sectors, according to the UN.
An estimated 80 percent of the population – 24 million people – require some form of humanitarian or protection assistance. Some 14.3 million of those are in acute need.
Meanwhile, the number of people in acute need has grown 27 percent over the past year. Two-thirds of all provinces in the country are in a pre-famine state.
A reviving city
Last year the streets of Hodeidah were almost emptied of people, and many shops and companies were shuttered as residents fled the fighting.
Hodeidah’s port is the conduit through which the majority of Yemen’s imports arrive to the country, and fighting there threatened to significantly worsen the humanitarian situation and catapult millions in famine.
UN-led efforts have helped alleviate the fighting, and in turn residents have gradually been trickling back to the city.
Around Hodeidah the sounds of clashes can be heard, and occasional shelling hits residential areas. Yet Yemenis are managing to regain a sense of normalcy all the same.
“Residents of Hodeidah do not care about the battles as they believe clashes aren’t going to stop any time soon. Besides, they are working hard to find food,” said Mubarak al-Otomi, a 35-year-old resident of the city.
“I was displaced but I returned to Hodeidah after suffering in Sanaa because of a lack of basic services and food.”
If the displaced had proper services in displacement, they would not return to the city amid fighting
– Mubarak al-Otomi, Hodeidah resident
Otomi said opportunities for employment in Hodeidah were much greater than before, and relief organisations were doing their best to help people.
“I believe that life in our home is better than displacement – no one thinks about fleeing the city again even if battles arrive at our houses,” he added.
“If the displaced had proper services in displacement, they would not return to the city amid fighting.”
Fighting usually intensifies at night, and for a long time people rarely ventured out after dark.
As things have improved, however, men, women and children are increasingly seen out in the evenings, and have adapted to the ferocious sounds of war in the distance.
Abdulkhaleq al-Sawa, 53, is from Hodeidah but now living in Sanaa.
He told MEE that many displaced people like him haven’t returned home yet, but the suspension meant they could soon head back to Hodeidah
“No one can deny the role of the WFP in helping displaced people in Sanaa and I am one of them – I became dependent on organisations,” Sawa said.
Sawa has been living in his brother’s house in Sanaa since July 2018 but he believes it’s time to go home and resume his regular life.
“In Hodeidah I can find work again as an accountant with a local corporation, as I used to do before the war,” he said.
He added that his return to Hodeidah had been delayed due to the sweltering temperatures in the city. Without electricity to return to, cooling his Hodeidah home would be impossible, so it’s better to wait a couple of months until the climate chills somewhat.
“The battles are not a threat as we have already adapted to them, but it is difficult for children to enjoy their lives in the hot weather,” he said.
Back in Hodeidah, Boraie said he had been pleased to find his hometown so full of people when he returned.
“War changed our life for the worse,” he said. “I hope warring parties stop this war, so we can resume our work and children can resume their studies in a safe environment.”
By Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
Above photo: Embassy Protection Collective members before they were arrested: Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese, Adrienne Pine and David Paul from the People’s Dispatch. All four voted for Stein-Baraka in 2016.
One of the things the final four people in the Venezuelan Embassy who were arrested had in common was that they all voted for Stein-Baraka in 2016. Two of us were Greens (Margaret Flowers and me) and two were independents. The participation of Greens in the Embassy Protection Collective once again shows how the Green Party of the United States is the party of the popular movement in the United States.
The Embassy Protection Collective was a unique event in US history. US peace activists going into a foreign embassy in Washington, DC to protect Venezuela from a US coup. We issued a Declaration of the Embassy Protection Collective that explains why we took the actions we did. Three days before the police violated international law to illegally evict and arrest us we told the State Department there was a legal path to resolving this dispute, i.e. mutual Protecting Power Agreements between the US and Venezuela to allow a third country to protect the vacant US embassy in Caracas and the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC. We still hope such a mutual agreement will be put in place.
Margaret is a co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and ran for US Senate in 2016. I have been a Green since 2000, a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Green Party and a Green Party US Senate candidate in 2006. Margaret and I were not the only Greens involved in the Embassy Protection Collective. Many Greens were involved both inside and outside of the embassy. The Collective included Greens and non-Greens, often the role of Green Party activists goes unnoticed in the media, so I want to highlight some of the work of Greens in this initiative.
The Secret Service allowed a pro-coup mob to surround the embassy, assault, threaten and try to intimidate members of the Collective into leaving, and let them block food entering the embassy. During this siege I noticed there were Greens from multiple states including Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, Greens joined us outside from Connecticut, DC, and Virginia. We were not there as Greens but as people who are part of the movement for economic, racial and environmental justice, as well as peace. The Green Party takes strong positions against militarism and anti-imperialism and many of its members are part of peace and justice movements.
Past Two Vice Presidential Candidates Show Up to Provide Food, Water and Flowers
In fact, both Green Party vice presidential candidates in the 2016 and 2012 elections, Ajamu Baraka the national coordinator of the Black Alliance for Peace and Cheri Honkala of the Poor People’s Economic and Human Rights Campaign, played leadership roles in the Collective outside of the embassy.
Honkala came with the Poor Peoples Army and attempted to get food into the embassy as well as bring us flowers on Mother’s Day. They attempted to put food in a bag we had thrown from a second-floor window. The rope was grabbed by both the pro-coup protesters and the police. The police cut the rope and the food was not able to be delivered. After the attempt, the Poor People’s Army had a confrontation with police outside the embassy where they accused them of violating the human rights of Embassy Protectors. They argued that denial of food, water and electricity was putting people at risk, many of the same challenges poor people face every day.
In addition, the Poor People’s Army protested at PEPCO, the DC power company that shut off the electricity in the embassy, which also resulted in the electric pumps needed for water being unable to operate. The people inside the embassy noted the aggressive action of Honkala and her team. On the morning we were arrested, we heard the Poor People’s Army was making a return visit and we were looking forward to seeing their support and showing our love for their efforts on our behalf. Unfortunately, we were arrested before they arrived.
The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) played an integral role in the Collective. In the early phases of our living in the embassy when we are holding nightly forums and cultural events, members of the Black Alliance for Peace who are members of Pan-African Community Action(PACA) joined us for a forum on the militarization of Africa and then need to end Africom, the US Africa Command.
Members were regular attendees at the forums and also were part of the outside Collective. They consistently joined activists on a daily basis to show support for stopping the US coup and protecting the Venezuelan Embassy from takeover.
Earlier this year we traveled to Venezuela with Ajamu Baraka as part of a peace delegationorganized by the US Peace Council. Ajamu is a close ally and advisor to Popular Resistance who has been integral in our work that led to stopping the Trump Military Parade, developing the Peace Congress, building the US Coalition Against Foreign Military Basesand with the United National Antiwar Coalition.
Baraka was at the embassy the day that Rev. Jesse Jackson came to support us. Baraka knows Jackson from his two presidential runs and joined him and other members of the Collective in helping to deliver food to the embassy. As you can see in the video below, there was a scuffle with a pro-coup supporter who tried to pull a bag of food out of Jackson’s hands as well as wrapped the rope to pull the bag to the second floor around his arms. Baraka can be seen battling with the pro-couper along with another Maryland Green Party member, Paul Pumphrey of Friends of the Congo, and others in order to successfully deliver four bags of food into the embassy.
Colorado Green, Andrea Mérida Cuéllar, who is also a co-chair of the Green Party of the United States, summarized the role of Greens and our former vice presidential candidates in a Facebook post, writing:
“It was Greens from all over the eastern seaboard who held space outside and fought the police and the Venezuelan expatriate gusano fascists to bring food to the defenders. It was a Green Vice Presidential candidate who fought with the power company to turn the electricity back on. It was another Green Vice Presidential candidate who dragged the fascists away so that Jesse Jackson could deliver sustenance to our defenders.”
Green Presidential Nominee Front-Runner, Howie Hawkins, Speaks Out Against US Imperialism
One of the founders of the Green Party, Howie Hawkins, who is currently exploring a run for president in 2020, wrote three blog posts on his website supporting the Embassy Protection Collective and opposing the US coup in Venezuela.
On April 24, two weeks after we entered the embassy, Hawkins, who is known for being the first candidate to run on a full-fledged Green New Deal, wrote about how the US should not be threatening war against Venezuela for oil especially during a time of climate crisis. Hawkins wrote more clearly than any presidential candidate about the US economic war, theft of Venezuela’s wealth, the impact of sanctions, opposition to the US coup as well as US threats of war. Hawkins strongly opposed US imperialism against Venezuela which he correctly described as bi-partisan. He described Trump’s open comments about stealing Venezuelan oil from early in his presidency and put his false comments on Venezuela in context, writing:
All Trump talk about restoring human rights and democracy in Venezuela are just more lies. Trump doesn’t support them in the US. He orders the violation of human rights against asylum seekers at the US border. He constantly spouts racist tropes and incites violence against minorities and political opponents. He supports voter suppression and opposes verifiable vote-counting laws.
The next day, Hawkins highlighted a study released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research that found that there were 40,000 deaths from 2017 to 2018 as a result of US economic sanctions which are illegal under international law.
The day we were arrested, April 16, Hawkins put out an excellent statement describing how international law had been violated by the US invading the embassy. He mentioned Margaret Flowers and me since we are both volunteering for his exploratory campaign, and put the US action in historical context writing;
The arrests show that the US is a rogue state. Violating the diplomatic immunity of the Venezuelan embassy takes the US back before the 1200s, when Genghis Khan’s Eurasian empire brought the notion of inviolable diplomatic immunity to a West that was riddled at the time with endemic warfare and banditry among the feuding feudal fiefdoms. Trump—and his Republican and Democratic minions alike—have taken us back nearly a millennium to the Dark Ages.
We are grateful that the Green Party is likely to have a nominee in the 2020 election cycle who understands the importance of international law and stands against US imperialism and empire.
In 2020 We Must Make US Regime Change Unacceptable and Work To End US Empire
We intend to build on the action at the embassy so that the political consensus in the United States opposes the US coup and threats of military action against Venezuela. The Green Party will be speaking out in 2020 as they always have been against war, militarism and regime change. We will be calling for cuts to the military budget and putting the necessities of the people and planet before war.
The Embassy Protectors and our allies intend to build a movement that will make it impossible for any candidate of any party to support the US coup in Venezuela. We will be escalating our actions against the US coup and organizing national and international days of action leading to a mass protest on September 21 in New York City when the UN General Assembly is meeting.
This campaign against the Venezuela coup and threats of militarism around the world is part of an ongoing effort to end US empire as quickly and responsibly as possible so the US stops creating global chaos and destruction. The people of the United States need to understand that the Empire Economy does not work for them or the people of the world and needs to come to an end.