All posts by Kevin Zeese

Arresting Members Of The Embassy Protection Collective Would Be Unlawful

We have told the State Department that if they enter the Venezuelan Embassy they are violating international law and if they arrest members of the Collective for trespass or unlawful entry these will be unlawful arrests. Members of the Collective are in the embassy with the permission of the elected government of Venezuela.

In two messages to the State Department today, the Collective explained that we are not violating the law and if there are unlawful arrests we will pursue legal action to hold people responsible for ordering arrests or making arrests.

We made this clear in writing to the State Department even before April 24th but we reiterated this today after the Secret Service came to the embassy and photographed the outside building to prepare plans to illegally enter the building and make unlawful arrests.

Tonight when the Collective held an amazing forum with John Kiriakou, a former CIA official who spoke about an “Insiders View of US Regime Change,”  outside there were Secret Service and DC police. This act of intimidation included not only the threat of arrest but also intimidated journalists some of whom were asked for photo identification and press information. View the forum with John Kiriakou here. During this forum both Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, our lawyer from the Partnership for Civil Justice, and I publicly made the points below so there was a video record of our concerns with the threats from the State Department police and the illegality of any arrests of Collective members.

We were not intimidated because members of the Collective are not breaking ANY laws.

In my second message to the State Department, I wrote in the Subject Line: “Any arrest in the Venezuelan embassy would be unlawful” and wrote:

Members of the Embassy Protection Collective are writing to make it expressly clear and ensure all personnel are put on notice that any arrest of persons inside the embassy would constitute an unlawful arrest. We understand from our communications with your office that you are threatening to arrest persons inside the Venezuelan embassy.

Not only are we here at the invitation of persons lawfully in charge of the premises but we are also here as people with lawful rights under Washington, DC tenancy law.

It is our intention to hold responsible any person who orders or effectuates any unlawful actions against us.

We have received no eviction notice and due process opportunity to challenge any attempted eviction as is required by law.

An earlier message to the State Department focused on three issues:

(1) The US will be violating international law if they enter the embassy and do not protect it from takeover by the fraudulent puppet government the US is trying to install despite the democratically elected legitimate government of President Maduro.

(2) President Maduro was elected in an election where more than 150 international election observers unanimously agreed that the election was legitimate by international standards.

(3) The US puppet president Juan Guaido’s self-appointment violated the Venezuelan Constitution in multiple ways.

The State Department is on public notice that it will be violating the law if it enters the embassy. Below are messages I sent to the State Department.

I am with the Embassy Protection Collective. We are inside the embassy with the permission of the Venezuela government. We have not entered unlawfully nor are we trespassing.

We saw the Secret Service outside today taking pictures and I spoke with the officers who told us to stay in touch with David Noordeloos who told me to contact you.

I am writing to find out about your plans. I will serve as the police liaison between the Collective and law enforcement if you decide to approach the embassy to remove us.

I shared with Noordeloos the information below that indicates that entering the embassy would be a violation of international law, Juan Guaido is not the interim-president and has violated Venezuela law and has no governmental authority. Further, Nicolas Maduro is the legitimately elected president of Venezuela and is recognized by the United Nations and the vast majority of world governments. I hope the US government will respect international law, Venezuelan law and the sovereignty of Venezuela.

Kevin Zeese

Please let decision-makers know that there is a legitimate government of Venezuela that has been democratically elected. The Maduro government is recognized by the United Nations. We are in the embassy with the permission of that government. Any trespass by US authorities or the illegal fake government or opposition would violate the law.

The entire world knows that recognizing Juan Guaido is a farce. He does not have the power of the Venezuelan government, cannot issue passports or visas, negotiate any agreements and literally does not function as a government.

The information below clarifies that invading the embassy, the equivalent of invading Venezuelan territory, would be a violation of law.

Kevin Zeese, Esq.

International Law Protects Foreign Embassies Located In The United States

According to Article 22 of the 1961 Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations, foreign embassies should be protected by the United States government and their space should not be violated by the US government. Specifically, international law requires:

  1. The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving Statemay not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.
  2. The receiving Stateis under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.
  3. The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

The Trump Administration would be violating the Vienna Convention if it allowed the illegal seizure of the Venezuela embassy. The Election Protection Collective is supporting the people of Venezuela by taking responsibility to ensure that Article 22 of the Vienna Convention is not violated.

The Elected Government of President Maduro Remains In Power

The government of President Nicolás Maduro was re-elected on May 20, 2018 in response to the opposition demanding an early election. The election was held consistent with the Venezuelan Constitution, in consultation with opposition parties and as determined by the National Electoral Council, an independent branch of the Venezuelan government.

Sixteen parties participated in the election with six candidates competing for the presidency. President 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. A total of 9,389,056 people voted, 46% of eligible voters.

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 international observers, “the elections were very transparent and complied with international parameters and national legislation.”

In a letter to the European Union correcting some of the false statements made about the election, election observers wrote: “We were unanimous in concluding that the elections were conducted fairly, that the election conditions were not biased, that genuine irregularities were exceptionally few and of a very minor nature.”

Voting machines were 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 52 to 54% of voting machines at each precinct. The Citizen’s Audit is observed by the media, the public, and all opposition parties, who sign the audits. The audits showed that the election results accurately reflected the will of the voters.

The Invalid Self-Appointment of Juan Guaidó Violated Venezuelan Law

Juan Guaidó’s self-appointment as interim president violated the Constitution of Venezuela. The language of the Venezuelan Constitution is clear regarding when the president of the National Assembly can become president and none of the conditions in the Constitution have been met.

The opposition relies on Article 233 of the Constitution, which allows the National Assembly president to serve as interim president only if the president-elect has not yet been inaugurated. Guaidó’s self-appointment occurred after President Maduro had been inaugurated.

Article 233 allows the president of the National Assembly to become president only if the president-elect:

become[s] permanently unavailable to serve by reason of any of the following events: death; resignation; removal from office by decision of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice [equivalent of impeachment]; permanent physical or mental disability certified by a medical board designated by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice with the approval of the National Assembly; abandonment of his position, duly declared by the National Assembly; and recall by popular vote.

None of these conditions were met.

If Guaidó had met the above conditions, Article 233 allows him to serve for only 30 consecutive days pending election and inauguration of the new President. Guaidó’s self-appointment and fraudulent inauguration occurred more than 30 days ago and no election has been scheduled.

In a press briefing, Elliot Abrams, the US Special Representative for Venezuela, could not explain these violations of law by Guaidó and admitted that Guaidó is not “able to exercise the powers of the office because Maduro still is there.” Even Abrams admits that Guaidó is not the president. Therefore, he has no authority over the Venezuelan embassy.

If the US proceeds to violate the property of the Venezuelan Embassy it will send a message to all the countries in the world that their embassies are not protected by international law in the United States. The US wants to install a coup puppet government and is willing to violate the law to do so. That is a message the United States should not send to governments around the world.

We are making this correspondence public so that there is an open record that the State Department has been put on notice and that their threats to unlawfully arrest and evict members of the Collective from a building, where we are tenants or guests with the permission of the Venezuelan government, are public. We are prepared for the Secret Service and DC police to come to the embassy tomorrow and are not intimidated by their threats. We know that we are not violating any laws.

Ukraine: Why “OU” Lost By A Landslide

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (L) speaks with presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky (R) during a presidential election debate at Olimpiyski stadium in Kiev on April 19, 2019 (Photo by Sergei CHUZAVKOV AFP, Getty Images)

With the landslide victory of Volodymyr Zelensky, who won 73 percent of the vote, the comedian will become the president of Ukraine. Understanding how this occurred becomes easy when people review US government documents published by Wikileaks about the outgoing president.

Who is “OU”? Our Ukraine. In a classified diplomatic cable from 2006 released by Wikileaks.org, U.S. officials refer to Poroshenko as “Our Ukraine (OU) insider Petro Poroshenko.” “Our Ukraine” has been in the pocket of the US government for 13 years.

The US government knew he was corrupt. A separate cable also released by Wikileaks makes that clear. The May 2006 cable states “Poroshenko was tainted by credible corruption allegations, but wielded significant influence within OU; Poroshenko’s price had to be paid.” The US government knew he was corrupt, but allowing his corruption was a price the US was willing to pay to have Our Ukraine serving as president.

The document also describes the “bad blood” between Poroshenko and  Yuliya Tymoshenko. This bad blood continues to this day as Tymoshenko came in third in the first round of the elections, and it seemed to continue through the General Election, as those who voted for her, voted for Zelensky — or against Poroshenko. The memo describes the Tymoshenko-Poroshenko relationship writing, “there is a thin line between love and hate,” and describing how  “Tymoshenko and Poroshenko might appear in public, shake hands, agree to ‘do business’ together” but a coalition between them was unlikely to last.

Joe Biden, who is expected to announce a run for president, is emblematic of the corruption of the US in Ukraine. Wikileaks reports, Biden pledged US financial and technical assistance to Ukraine for “unconventional” gas resources (i.e. fracking). And, not only was his son Hunter put on the board of the largest private gas company in Ukraine (along with a long-time Kerry family friend and financier) but when that gas company was threatened with investigation, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 saying that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion. Biden claimed he gave the country six hours to fire the prosecutor before he left Ukraine or he would bankrupt the country. OU fired him.

Why did Biden want him fired? The prosecutor was leading a wide-ranging corruption investigation into the natural gas firm – while Biden’s son, Hunter, sat on the board of directors. Corruption is a major problem in Ukraine, and Biden contributed to it, bringing US corruption to Ukraine. After Poroshenko replaced the prosecutor with one to Biden’s liking a Wikileaks document shows he was prepared to move forward with the signing of the third $1 billion loan guarantee agreement

Now the two pro-US politicians, Tymoshenko and Poroshenko, have been replaced by a political unknown in Zelensky, or “Ze,” as he’s more popularly known. The incoming president has been vague on what policies he will pursue but says he wants to negotiate peace with Russia over eastern Ukraine, saying he was prepared to negotiate directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine is sick of corruption. Adding to Poroshenko’s corruption, the US brought more corruption. Not surprisingly, corruption under Poroshenko worsened. The country is tired of the conflict between Kiev and East Ukraine and Zelensky said he would try to end the war. And, the country has become the poorest in Europe as the promise of close ties with the US have not resulted in the benefits promised.

While the country has gotten poorer, Poroshenko remains one of the wealthiest men in Ukraine. He has been surrounded by corruption scandals as various businessmen close to him have been caught up in scandals involving corruption. The common view is Ukraine has gotten poorer as Poroshenko has gotten richer.

All this was predictable with what the US knew about OU, and thanks to Wikileaks should not be a surprise to anyone.

Greens Say “No to NATO” While War Parties Give Standing Ovations to NATO

Greens are political activists and can be found in every movement for economic, racial and environmental justice as well as peace. They do not organize as Greens but as people who are part of the popular movement. The article below about the week of protests against NATO highlights Greens who participated, often as organizers with other peace and justice activists. There were many more Greens at these events than are mentioned. I apologize to those who are omitted. 

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Last week was one of contrast over the issue of war and militarism as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) came to Washington, DC. “No to NATO” protests began on March 30 and continued until the meeting of NATO foreign ministers on April 4. While people were opposing NATO’s aggressive militarism, the two Wall Street and war parties were giving the NATO General Secretary standing ovations.

Many Greens, working with other peace and anti-imperialist activists, helped to organize the week of actions and many other Greens participated. The Green Party showed itself to be the alternative to the two-winged War Party of the Democrats and Republicans, a party that stands for an end to militarism and imperialism.

The protests began on March 30, 2019, with a mass rally and march across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park. The event was organized by the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) whose national co-coordinator is Joe Lombardo, a Green Party member from Albany, NY. Lombardo, an antiwar organizer since the Vietnam War era, immediately announced a response to NATO when their meeting was made public. Lombardo framed the protest as stopping wars abroad and at home emphasizing the wars at home when the April 4 date was chosen by NATO. It was important to highlight militarized police and police abuse in communities of color, especially on the anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. being killed by the government in 1968 and his important speech, “Beyond Vietnam“, which called for an end to war given one year before his murder.

Ajamu Baraka (center) and the Black Alliance or Peace (BAP) at No to NATO protest on March 30, 2019, in Washington, DC. On left Paul Pumphrey of the Maryland Green Party and Friends of the Congo, to the right of, Ajamu Baraka, YahNé Ndgo formerly of the Pennsylvania Greens currently a traveling Green and Asantewaa Mawusi Nkrumah-Ture of the Pennsylvania Greens active in BAP and the Poor People’s Economic and Human Rights Campaign Campaign.

Ajamu Baraka, the former Green Party vice presidential candidate who is the national organizer of Black Alliance for Peace (BAP), was also involved in organizing the week of events. BAP had a large presence at the events and on the evening of April 4 held a commemoration of BAP’s founding two years ago. Baraka emphasized that the working class, black and white, should not be risking their lives to defend western capitalism. Baraka called for an end to US imperialism around the world with a special emphasis on Venezuela, which is now being threatened by the United States that is conducting an economic war against it.

The 2012 vice presidential nominee also participated in the events. Cheri Honkala (pictured in the featured image holding the banner) leads the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC). She decried the mass spending on militarism when there are many unmet human needs including poverty, homelessness, and economic insecurity. At the NATO protests, PPEHRC announced the Poor People’s Army that will advocate for a shift in spending from weapons and war to housing, healthcare, ending poverty and free education from pre-K through college.

These views were consistent with those expressed by Howie Hawkins, who just announced an exploratory committee for the Green presidential nomination. He scheduled his announcement so he could be in Washington, DC to be part of the NATO protests. Hawkins joined in calling for the end of NATO and at least a 50% cut in federal spending on the military. At a rally at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Hawkins called for an Economic Bill of Rights that would confront the triple evils identified by King — racism, militarism, and capitalism — in the context of an ecosocialist Green New Deal. Hawkins was the first person to run a campaign calling for a Green New Deal when he ran for governor of New York in 2010.


Video by Tony Ndege of the North Carolina Green Party and a co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.

Pat Elder, a Green from Maryland who ran against Steny Hoyer in 2018 and a leader with World Beyond War, helped to organize a Peace Festival on April 3 and the protests at the State Department and Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on the 4th. Pat’s work with Civilian Exposure focuses on how the military poisons the environment. He described how NATO poisons the Earth by using chemicals at military bases that cause genetic mutations.

Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese along with Jan Weinberg take the street outside the State Department by sitting-in when ordered to move by the police. On the right is Tighe Barry of the Statehood-Green Party, on the left is Medea Benjamin of CODE PINK who is Green-friendly. Also photographed Ariel Gold of CODE PINK.

Popular Resistance, which I co-direct with Margaret Flowers, MD, also helped to organize the week of events through the newly organized Peace Congress, which formed out of the successful campaign to stop the Trump military parade. The Peace Congress worked for unity around the NATO protests to ensure the multiple peace groups involved in the planning worked together to form a cohesive peace force against NATO.

Flowers, a 2016 Green Party US Senate candidate and co-chair of the Green Party of the United States, said:

We need a strong unified peace movement at this time of never-ending war and record-setting military budgets. The United States is a fading empire that continues to cause chaos and destruction around the world. It is time for the transformation of US foreign policy from war and domination to diplomacy and cooperation with other countries.

Tom Violett and Diane Moxley, Greens from New Jersey along with independent Jan Weinberg were also at the week of actions. They are all members of the Peace Congress and are organizing a New Jersey Peace Congress meeting this June.

The Green Party has long been an anti-militarist party whose platform calls for peace and disarmament. This includes the abolishment of nuclear and chemical weapons, a no-first-strike policy and a major reduction in military spending as well as a prohibition on arms sales to foreign governments. Peace is one of the four pillars on which the Green Party is built.

Greens who were involved in organizing the ‘No To NATO’ protests are one example of many that demonstrate that Greens are leading organizers of political movements for economic, racial and environmental justice as well as peace. Greens who run for office bring those views into elections and impact the priorities of the nation. The Green Party strives to be the political party of the popular movement for transformational change.

US and Puppet Guaido Implicated in Terrorism Plot Against Venezuela PLOT

The US coup with the self-proclaimed Venezuelan puppet president Juan Guaidó has been failing. Right-wing Latin American countries and the European Union, while willing to go along with the charade farce president, have not been willing to take military action against Venezuela.

This week the US was caught seeking to create violent chaos with imported mercenaries disguised as Venezuelan military, funded by assets seized from Venezuela as part of the US economic war. Telesur reports the government unveiled telephone conversations and other evidence between leaders of the right planning violence against the country that came from a Guaidó aide.

Earlier this week Guaido’s ‘chief of staff,’ Roberto Marrero was arrested along with his bodyguard. In announcing the arrest, Minister of Interior Justice and Peace Nestor Reverol said that Venezuela had dismantled a “terrorist cell” that planned to attack and destabilize Venezuela. As a result of that arrest evidence has been uncovered about a terror campaign planned against Venezuela.

The arrest uncovered new evidence about the terror campaign planned by the US and the Venezuelan opposition. Mission Verdad reports on a press conference by Jorge Rodríguez, Minister of Communication and Information which described how the arrest of Marrero led to the discovery of widespread terrorist plans. The new evidence points to a plot funded by assets seized by the United States from Venezuela and channeled into bank accounts through Colombia.

Reporting on the Rodríguez press conference, Mission Verdad describes how eight to ten teams of assassins were being brought to Venezuela from Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador and being trained in Colombia to carry out terrorist acts in Venezuela. They planned selective assassinations of high-profile figures of the Venezuelan State and attacks on the country’s public services. Half these groups had entered the country, while others were blocked by the shutdown of the borders over the phony attempt to deliver humanitarian aid.

The objectives of the terrorist plot were shown in a slide by Jorge Rodríguez. Mission Verdad reports the slide described how Operation Libertad (or Operation Freedom) planned:

  • Selective killings of government officials
  • New sabotage to the Caracas Metro, the Cable Car and the electric service
  • False-positive operations or false flags by people disguised as military deserters
  • A general strike, an assault on Miraflores and terrorist actions such as the assassination of President Maduro

The mercenary teams planned to conduct their terrorist acts disguised as deserters of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces to portray them as “military deserters.”  They sought to show a non-existent conflict between the Venezuelan military and the legitimately elected government.

They also report that among the material seized from Marrero were cell phones that allowed investigators access to conversations, which showed $500,000 and $700,000 being spent per day to pay these assassins and to bribe members of the military to desert and join them. The money was deposited by NGOs created in January and February in accounts of Banesco and Bank of America by the government of Iván Duque after a request from Juan Guaidó. The communications indicate the funds came from money seized from Venezuelan companies by the United States. The money stolen from Venezuela that would be used to finance this operation would amount to $1 billion.

To add further to the hypocrisy of the United States, the Department of the Treasury sanctioned the Economic and Social Development Bank of Venezuela when Guaidó’s terrorist aide was arrested on suspicion of terrorism.

Mission Verdad reports Guaidó himself and right-wing leader, Leopoldo Lopez, who is under house arrest for previous violence, were implicated, writing, “On Marrero’s phone, conversations were also found in a group called ‘the General Staff,’ made up of members of the Voluntad Popular party. Among them, Leopoldo López is identified, in charge of his leadership; Freddy Guevara, in charge of advising on the discursive line of Guaidó; Marrero, the deputies Freddy Superlano and Sergio Vergara, and Juan Guaidó himself.”

Guaidó has described “Operation Freedom” which is consistent with these plans. Freddy Guevara describes how the operation is moving “from a strategy of siege to one of assault” with selective assassinations and attacks against public services. This is all consistent with Guaidó’s comments at a rally on March 22 in El Tigre, Anzoátegui state, where he said: “Venezuelans do not beg for our rights, so soon we are going together to Miraflores to rescue the office of all Venezuelans,” and told his followers “we must organize because the dictator will not go out kindly.”

In a speech at the Mobilization for Peace outside of the Miraflores Palace on Saturday, President Maduro described how the country is facing “the strongest imperialist aggressions that the Republic has ever survived in 200 years.” Maduro said the people continue to be “the greatest guarantee of peace, democracy, and sovereignty of the Fatherland” against the attacks perpetrated by the Venezuelan right-wing and the US. Regarding the plans of the terrorist cell described in the article below, he assured the people: “We are going to capture them and hand them over to Justice.”

The long-time US effort to put in place a US friendly government in Venezuela is reaching new aggressiveness and violence under the Trump administration led by National Security Advisor John Bolton, Special Assistant Elliot Abrams and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. President Trump has openly called for military action since August 2017. Those opposed to US intervention in Venezuela will be holding a mass protest at the White House on August 30 to kick-of a week of action against NATO and the war against Venezuela.

On 65th Anniversary Of Korean Truce, Activists Criticize US For Delaying Real Peace

South Korean ‘Youth Resistance’ protests at the US embassy in Seoul demanding a permanent peace treaty and normalizing relations with North Korea.

South Korean peace and justice activists have been writing to us at Popular Resistance complaining that the United States is not responding to the positive steps being taken by North Korea before and after the meeting between President Trump and Chairman Kim. They have sent us information about protests they are organizing in South Korea against the United States as well as in Washington, DC.

Their views show a great divide between the United States and the calls for a permanent peace which includes removal of US troops as just last week the Congress passed a National Defense Authorization Act which forbids removal of US troops from Korea. The John S. McCain Act states the “significant removal” of US troops is “a non-negotiable item as it relates to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization” of North Korea..

The activists argue that the temporary halt in war games which practice nuclear and other military attacks on North Korea are insufficient. They want to see movement toward a real peace treaty and removal of economic sanctions, especially allowing South Korea and North Korea to normalize relations. And, they want US military forces out of Korea, permanently.

On July 27, in a protest in front of the White House, South Korean activists claimed the June 12 agreement between North Korea and the United States called for normalizing relations between North Korea and the US and establishing a permanent and solid peace regime in Korea. They believe that to conclude North Korea-US peace treaty includes withdrawal of the US military from Korea as the core. They call on the Trump administration to fully implement the June 12 declaration and immediately withdraw US troops from South Korea. They pledge all-out national resistance against the United States, to advance the realization of the world where US troops are withdrawn, the Korean people are masters of their country, and the nation is reunified.

They report on a protest held at the US embassy in South Korea on July 29th. Two members of Youth Resistance, “a democratic peace group of patriotic youths formed in October last year for anti-war, peace and national independence,” strongly condemned the United States for its continued military presence in South Korea. This was the ninth protest they have held at the US Embassy in Gwanghwamun next to the Seoul Museum of History.

In the protest, Seo Hyeong-hoon and Min Ji-won rushed toward the US embassy shouting slogans demanding the United States to get out of South Korea. They unfurled a banner that said “Permanently Withdraw United States Forces in Korea” and threw leaflets into the air. Police violently responded, Seo Hyung-hoon head was pushed onto the ground, his arm held backward, and his face slammed to the ground by the police. Allies at the protest witnessed the violence and took photos and video. They report that these events were witnessed by many foreign tourists in the area.

The two peace advocates were taken into custody and brought to the Jongno Police Station. They and their allies are protesting against violent suppression of legitimate demonstrations.  The two protesters condemned the US for failing to fulfill the June 12th Singapore Declaration signed by President Trump and Chairman Kim. Protests were held throughout the night to get them released from custody.

Seo Hyung-hoon wrote:

North Korea has not carried out nuclear tests and missile launches in the past nine months. They have abandoned thePunggye-rie nuclear test center and released three American criminals. In contrast, the US has done very little beyond the temporary and conditional interruption of war exercises. No action has taken place on the threat of US nuclear missile attacks. The US is preventing progress on substantive dialogue with their excuse that a denuclearization timetable is needed. Trump’s actions show he did not genuinely engage in this dialogue, as the sanctions for North Korea have been extended for another year.

The United States has made a military colony in South Korea and established a puppet regime. We seek peace for our nation and the people of Korea.  We want a peace treaty that will last and defeat US imperialism. We understand these high-level talks will not develop on their own and the people must take action. We seek peace because we will be the first to be hit by a US military attack. Our destiny should not be controlled by the presidents of the other countries. We are our own masters and must struggle with our voices and actions to achieve a lasting peace.  There is no peace without a peace agreement that includes US military forces leaving the country!

They argue that the US must convert the unstable armistice agreement to a stable peace treaty. Under Clause 60 of Article 4 of the Armistice Agreement that was signed on July 27th, 1953, it says that within three months a conference of both sides will “settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement” of issues between the countries. Instead, on October 1st, the US signed a mutual defense treaty with the South Korean government which neutralized the armistice agreement and institutionalized the long-term presence of the US military.

After the embassy protest, Youth Resistance member of the Min Ji-won said:

It has been a month since the meeting between President Trump and Chairman Kim in Sentosa Island, Singapore, but there is still tension with the United States. We strive for the promise of a new relationship, a permanent and solid peace regime. North Korea has canceled the Punggye-rie nuclear test site and returned US military soldiers remains. What is the US doing in return?

In 1945, when the Korean people enjoyed the joy of liberation from Japan, the United States entered our land as an occupying military force. Since then, their unilateral occupation has continued. The United States joined the armistice agreement, which was signed on July 27, 65 years ago. As long as US forces remain on this land, the pain of the war will not disappear and our people cannot achieve justice. The Koreans are no longer deceived by the United States, which is pouring cold water into the atmosphere of peace and unity.

It is US soldiers who undermine our independence and democracy which are the long-time desires of the Korean people. US military abuses are not being overlooked by Koreans, no matter how much they try to hide their aggression and violations of human rights. Our people are no longer deceived by the United States. Now that the people’s aspirations for unification are swelling up, US forces must leave the country. It is time to write a new history that will mark the end of the 73-year-long history of the United States trampling on Korea. Youth Resistance is on the path of glorious struggle to demolish US forces and open the horizons of self-reliance, democracy, and unification. Youth activism reveals the light of the nation and our passion shows the pulse of the nation to rise against US militarism.

On July 27, at dawn, Lee-Jeok who is the permanent representative of Peace Treaty Movement Headquarters and others held a candlelight ceremony of the General MacArthur statue. The Korean people rage against MacArthur as he came to South Korea as the occupier in 1945, divided Korea, and threatened a nuclear attack in the Korean War. Following the ceremony, a coalition of groups held a rally in front of the US Embassy to demand the immediate signing of a Peace Treaty and permanent withdrawal of US military forces.

At protests occurring in South Korea, the Democratic People’s Party (Welfare Party for Democracy) has been conducting demonstrations for 122 days in front of the White House and at the US Embassy. The Democratic Party’s chairman Lee Sang-hoon said, “The Max Thunder war games must permanently be suspended. The peace agreement with the United States must be concluded!. The US Army must leave Korea”

Violent Coup Fails In Nicaragua, US Continues Regime Change Efforts

Nicaraguans celebrate 39th Anniversary of the 1979 Nicaraguan Revolution in Managua, July 2018 (Source Redvolution)

Note: Before the update on Nicaragua, I am providing two recent interviews that provide a context for what is happening in Nicaragua.

First, is an interview I did with Lee Camp, the lead writer, and host of Redacted Tonight, “US Pushing for Regime Change in Nicaragua,” where we discuss the economic and political situation in Nicaragua as well as who is behind the coup and the government response. This interview discusses the issues raised in an article by me and Nils McCune.

On Clearing The FOG radio and podcast, Margaret Flowers and I interviewed Stephen Sefton, who lives in Nicaragua and is a founder of Tortilla con Sal. He names the names behind the violence and describes what is happening in Nicaragua.

Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega arrives at the celebration of the Sandinista Revolution (Photo by Alfred Zeniga for AP)

Lessons Learned from the Failed Violent Coup in Nicaragua and Next Steps

The violent coup in Nicaragua has failed. This does not mean the United States and oligarchs are giving up, but this phase of their effort to remove the government did not succeed.  The coup exposed the alliances who are working with the United States to put in place a neoliberal government that is controlled by the United States and serves the interests of the wealthy. People celebrated the failure of the coup but realize work needs to be done to protect the gains of the Sandinista revolution.

People Celebrate Revolution, Call For Peace, Show Support for Government

The people of Nicaragua showed their support for the democratically-elected government of Daniel Ortega with a massive outpouring in Managua in a celebration of the 39th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution. In addition to the mass protest in Managua, various cities had their own, in some cases very sizeable ones.

People have wanted peace to return to Nicaragua. They have also wanted the roadblocks removed, which have resulted in closed businesses, job loss and loss of mobility. Roadblocks have been removed, even in the opposition stronghold of Masaya. There were two opposition deaths and one police officer killed in the removal. There was also an earlier death of a policeman in Masaya, captured when he was off-duty, tortured and burnt to death. This brings the total of police killed since April up to at least 21 with hundreds injured. With the opening of the main road on the east side of Masaya, all Nicaragua’s main routes are open to traffic and buses, etc., are operating normally.

At the rally, President Ortega called on the people of Nicaragua to defend peace and reinstate the unity that existed in the nation before the violent opposition protests. He described how the violent coup attempted to destabilize the country and ended the peace that has existed through the eleven years of his time in office. He said, “Peace must be defended every day to avoid situations like these being repeated.”

He also criticized the Catholic Bishops for their role in the failed violent coup. Ortega described the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua as “coup leaders” for collaborating with the opposition during the protests. Not only did the Catholic leadership side with the opposition during the national dialogue, but priests were involved in kidnapping and torture. Pope Francis has a lot of work to do to reign in the Catholic Church in Nicaragua. If their role in these violent protests and opposition to an economy for the people is not stopped, this will become a scandal for the Catholic Church.

Other Latin American leaders spoke out against involvement in the coup. Bolivian President Evo Morales condemned US “interference” in Nicaragua, denouncing the “criminal strategies” used against the government of Daniel Ortega. Morales accused the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) of “openly supporting violence” in Nicaragua. Also at the celebration were the foreign ministers of Cuba and Venezuela, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, and Jorge Arreza, all supporting Nicaragua over the violent coup of the United States and oligarchs.

The United States is Escalating Economic War and Support for Opposition

The United States is not giving up. Also on the anniversary of the revolution, the NICA Act, designed to escalate the economic war against Nicaragua, was introduced in the Senate. It has already been passed by the US House of Representatives. The Senate bill, called the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anti-corruption Act of 2018, imposes sanctions, calls for early elections and escalates US intelligence involvement in Nicaragua. It is a law that ensures continued US efforts to remove the democratically-elected government.

At the same time, USAID announced an additional $1.5 million for Nicaragua to build opposition to the government. This will fund the NGOs that participated in the protests, human rights groups that falsely reported the situation, media to produce the regime change narrative and other support for the opposition.

The coordination between Nicaraguan opposition and the United States was shown by Max Blumenthal‘s attempted visit to an organization that funnels USAID and NED money to the opposition. He visited the Managua offices of the Institute of Strategic Studies and Public Policies (IEEPP in Spanish), but it was closed because its director, Felix Maradiaga, who was at the heart of the violent unrest, was in Washington, DC seeking more funding from USAID.

On July 18, the US-dominated OAS passed a resolution concerning “The Situation in Nicaragua.” An earlier effort to endorse a report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) was so biased that it failed. The report ignored the opposition’s widespread violence and only reported on the defensive violence of the government. The resolution approving the IACHR report was supported by only ten out of 34 countries.

The resolution, which was finally passed by the OAS, condemned violence on all sides and urged Nicaragua to pursue all options including the national dialogue to seek peace begun by Ortega. On the issue of elections, the resolution urged Nicaragua “to support an electoral calendar jointly agreed to in the context of the National Dialogue process.” Only this mainly symbolic resolution could pass muster in the OAS, despite US domination.

What Happened and What Was Learned

In our article “Correcting the Record: What Is Really Happening In Nicaragua,” Nils McCune and I describe what was behind the violent coup attempt. We reported that there was a lot of misinformation on what was occurring in Nicaragua, indeed the false narrative of regime change was part of the tactics of the failed coup. Perhaps most importantly we described the alignment of forces behind the coup.

The coup was a class war turned upside down. The Ortega government includes none of the oligarchic families, a first in the history of Nicaragua. He has put in place a bottom-up economy that has lifted people out of poverty, provided access to health care and education, given micro-loans to entrepreneurs and small businesses and created an economy energized by public spending. Ortega expanded coverage of the social security system; as a result, a new formula was required to ensure fiscal stability.

Ortega made a counter-proposal to the IMF/business proposal, which would cut social security and raise the retirement age. He proposed no cuts to social security and increasing employer contributions by 3.5% to pension and health funds, while only slightly increasing worker contributions by 0.75% and shifting 5% of pensioners’ cash transfer into their healthcare fund.  These reforms were the trigger as it was the business lobby who called for the protests.

The forces aligned with the violent coup included the oligarchs, big business interests, foreign investors (e.g. Colombian financiers), the US-funded NGO’s and the Catholic Church, a long-term ally of the wealthy. Also involved was the Movement for Renovation of Sandinismo (MRS), a tiny Sandinista offshoot party, of former Sandanistas who left the party when Ortega lost an election in 1990 who are aligned with the US State Department.

Regarding students, there were already student protests around university elections, and these were redirected by the violent coup effort and supported by a small minority of students from private universities, the April 19th Movement. Some of these students had been brought to the US by the Freedom House, which has long ties to the CIA and met with far-right interventionist members of the US Congress, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Ted Cruz.

These groups acted in opposition to the bulk of Nicaraguan society and showed their true colors. This includes:

  • Being tied to and subservient to the US government.
  • Being led by oligarchs and big business interests that are out of power and cannot win elections.
  • Using violence as a strategy of creating chaos and trapping the government into responding with violence to restore order.
  • Spreading false propaganda through oligarch-controlled media, often funded by NED, as well as highly-manipulated social media echoed by western media, especially The New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post and cable TV news outlets.

No doubt more will come out about this in the future as the coup is researched and analyzed. As the facts become clear, the opposition will lose more political power and be even less likely to win elections. The blockades of roads with violence undermined the economy and had a negative impact on the poor and working class. If it becomes evident that this was a strategy of the opposition, they will lose power. NGO’s that are funded by the US and run by members of the MRS will be noted for their dishonest narrative and will be seen as an arm of the United States and not trusted by the people of Nicaragua. Media outside of Nicaragua will come to understand that human rights groups and NGOs are not reliable sources of information but need to be questioned. They need to be pushed to break their ties with the United States.

This does not mean all is well on the Sandinista side of the alliance of forces. The coup is an opportunity for self-reflection and self-criticism that is already happening, as seen in this list of 20 results from the coup, which begins with “A more consolidated and United FSLN.” In addition, the Action Group of the Solidarity with Nicaragua Campaign put forward seven propositions to unify around. The protest took advantage of challenges the Nicaraguan government faces in continuing to lift up the poor and economically insecure. It shows their need to build their capacity to quickly let the public know their side of the story. And, it shows the need for planning for a post-Ortega Sandinista government, as the president is in his third term.

The anniversary of the revolution was a good beginning at strengthening the unity of the Sandinista movement and celebration of the defeat of the coup, but there will be challenges ahead. Nicaragua is a poor country that needs foreign investment. If the United States escalates the economic war, which seems to be the intent, it will make it challenging to continue the social and economic programs that are lifting up the poor. Nicaragua had relied on investment from Venezuela, but it is also in the midst of an economic war, which along with the low oil prices has created economic challenges for them. Nicaragua has begun to build economic relationships with China, Russia, Iran and other countries; these will likely need to expand.

The misinformation was deep and widespread. Inside Nicaragua, there were stories of students being killed that never happened but that escalated the protests. The opposition claimed to be nonviolent when their strategy was to use violence to force regime change while the government quartered the National Police. False news and videos of attacks on neighborhoods and universities never stopped being manufactured.  One example, students calling for help and claiming they were under attack, was later exposed in a video showing the students practicing the false social media narrative.

Peace and justice activists in the United States and western nations have learned they need to be much more careful believing reports on what is occurring in Nicaragua. The US-funding of NGOs involved in women’s issues, environmental protection and human rights in Nicaragua make them questionable sources of information for justice advocates. In addition, US-funded regime change efforts are getting more sophisticated at social media; and thus, care must be taken as social media has it is abused by regime change advocates. We must look to other sources that have shown the ability to report accurately; e.g., Tortilla con Sal, Telesur, Redvolucion.  Peace and justice advocates must be grounded in anti-imperialism and nonintervention by the United States.

Venezuela Defeats US In Election, Now Must Build Independent Economy

Upon returning to the United States from Venezuela and reading the terrible media reporting of the election, it was evident that the people of the United States are being lied to. The Intrepid News Fund and Venezuela Analysis invited me and others to come to Venezuela for the election to see first hand what actually happened so we could report what we saw and break the media blockade against Venezuela.

The US is leading an economic war against Venezuela that is causing tremendous damage, but there is also a media blockade preventing the truth from being told. Mayor Carlos Alcala Cordones of Vargas, speaking to foreign delegations, told us the media blockade was more damaging than the economic blockade.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) summarized the biased and inaccurate media coverage, writing,

‘Western media have taken an entirely different outlook to the [elections], unanimously presenting them as seriously flawed, at best, and at worst a complete sham presided over by a dictator. The New York Times (5/20/18) presented the election as ‘a contest that critics said was heavily rigged in his favor,’ Huffington Post (5/21/18) christened it ‘a vote denounced as a farce cementing autocracy in the crisis-stricken OPEC nation,’ while NPR (5/21/18) stated: ‘Nicholas [sic] Maduro has easily won a second term, but his main rivals have refused to accept the results, calling the polling fraudulent—a view shared by the United States and many independent observers.’ [Emphasis in original]

In reality, Venezuela had free, fair and transparent elections and manages the most sophisticated and accurate voting system in the world. Former President Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Center has a Democracy Program, said, “As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” This is consistent with others who have monitored Venezuelan elections. In the recent election, there were 150 international observers from over 30 countries who also noted the advanced nature of the election system and validated the results.

The opposition and the United States faced two choices in this election: (1) run against President Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution, or (2) seek to undermine the election by not participating. The US decided the latter approach was the best alternative and directed its vassals in Venezuela to boycott. Henri Falcon, the leading opposition candidate, did poorly, falsely declaring the election a fraud. Not only did the boycott hurt him, but he also advocated succumbing to the United States; e.g., dollarize the economy and seek loans from the IMF and western financiers. This was not popular because such loans end up being a disaster for national sovereignty as the financiers dictate neoliberal policies that send money to the capitalists while cutting essential services for the people

Despite the boycott, Maduro received the vote of 28% of the eligible electorate, around the same as Barack Obama received in 2008 and more than he got in 2012 or Trump in 2016. The 46% turnout is similar to US turnout and much higher than countries like Chile and Switzerland.

The economic punishment is not related to democracy. There is no economic blockade of Honduras, where a coup was followed by questionable elections, or Brazil, where there was a coup, or Saudi Arabia, a monarchy without national elections. Granma, the official voice of Cuba, which has a lot of experience with US economic war, describes ten examples of efforts to destabilize the government since the election.

Graffiti opposing US imperialism in Venezuela. Photo credit: Aljazeera.com

Why Maduro was supported by the electorate in the midst of an economic crisis

The people of Venezuela are suffering from serious impacts of the economic war being fought against them. The US sanctions combined with the drop in oil prices has sent the Venezuelan economy reeling. This election was important because Venezuela withstood the attack of the US and western powers, who refused to accept the election and tried to oust Maduro.

The Venezuelan people are well aware of who is causing their problems. When we took a tour of the Metro Cable, a Chavez-built gondola that brings people in poor neighborhoods down the hillside, we were stopped by a grandmother who had a message she wanted us to share with people in the United States. She said, “We know you want our oil, but stop punishing the people of Venezuela.”

When the Bolivarian Revolution had money from high oil prices, it was used to improve the lives of the poor. The results were marked decreases in poverty and illiteracy and increased access to health care and housing. The economic war has put stress on all of these programs, but Maduro persists despite it.

One of the great successes of the Maduro era is the Housing Mission which built two million homes for the poor. Each home houses four to five people, meaning eight to ten million people received housing, which included furniture. This is quite an accomplishment in a nation of 32 million people. The program began in 2011 after there were devastating mudslides and hopes to reach 3 million homes by 2019.

Compare this to the United States, which is in a housing crisis, where 2,461 people are evicted every day, and poor and middle-class families are housing-insecure. Consider the US response to the storms in Puerto Rico, where nine months later the island is still in crisis, or cities like my hometown of Baltimore, where we have thousands of homeless and 16,000 abandoned homes.

The economic sanctions are creating food shortages in Venezuela with blockades of food and medicine purchases and with some wealthy Venezuelans adding to the problem by hiding food or sending it to Colombia.  In response, Maduro announced an expansion of the Local Provision and Production Committees (CLAPs), to distribute food to six million people.

The Bolivarian Revolution is seeking food sovereignty in response to the injustices of the global food supply system, a goal made more difficult but also more essential due to the economic war. Food production is a long-term problem in Venezuela due to its oil-based economy, which caused farmers to move to urban areas in the 20th Century.

Maduro has also fought off agribusiness by banning GMO’s and the privatizing of seeds, protecting indigenous food knowledge from corporate capture and seeking to create a democratic food system.  Venezuela is an example of ecosocialism, where food systems are socialized and developed in an economically sensible and sustainable way.

These are just some of the social programs that Venezuela has sought to expand under Maduro. Maduro has also tried to break the financial blockade with oil-backed cryptocurrency.

US sanctions have had the effect of causing the people to blame the United States and unify around Maduro and the current government.

Maduro speaking to crowd. Source AFP

Deep Democracy Not Dictatorship

US leaders and the media describe Maduro as a dictator. It is absurd on its face when the election history of Venezuela is examined. Not only does Venezuela have lots of elections, but it is seeking to develop participatory democracy at the local level.

The Chavistas have won almost all elections since 1998, but lost two national elections. In 2007, the opposition defeated Chavez-supported constitutional amendments. In 2015, the opposition won the national assembly. In the last presidential election, Maduro narrowly defeated Henrique Capriles by 1.49%. This history shows consistently free and fair elections, not a dictatorship.

The National Constituent Assembly is pointed to as an example of dictatorship. When the opposition won a large majority, they showed their true colors by removing portraits of Hugo Chavez and Simon Bolivar. Then they passed an amnesty law for themselves where they listed all 17 years of crimes in seeking to overthrow the government. This law was found unconstitutional by the court.

The opposition promised removal of Maduro within six months and incarceration of Chavista leaders when they took power. Violent opposition protests followed that led to over 125 deaths. The Supreme Court found that three of the right wing legislators were elected by fraud and until they left, the Assembly could not act. The Assembly refused the court’s decision and in the midst of a stalemate, Maduro used his constitutional power to activate the National Constituent Assembly. The opposition tried to block the vote and 200 polling stations were besieged on election day, but it went forward. Chavistas were elected but the opposition claimed the turnout of over eight million voters was “too high” to be credible.

The National Constituent Assembly has an interesting democratic makeup. Two-thirds of the members are geographically based and one-third represent different constituencies, including trade unions, communal councils, indigenous groups, farmers, students, disabled people, and pensioners. They are currently writing amendments to the constitution, which will be voted on.

The communal councils show the participatory nature of Venezuelan democracy. The 2006 law on Community Councils allowed groups of citizens to form Citizen Assemblies that represent 150 to 400 families in urban areas, 20 families in rural areas, and 10 in indigenous communities. More than 19,000 councils have been registered. They elect their leadership, meet and decide on projects needed for the community.  They have received $1 billion in funding for various projects and have established nearly 300 communal banks, which provide micro-loans. Communes are combinations of local councils that work on larger projects.

These councils are the frontline of participatory democracy, but are ignored by the western media, as they are inconsistent with the claims of ‘dictatorship.’ For the Bolivarian Revolution, the councils are intended to ultimately replace the democratic liberal state by bringing together citizens, social movements, and community organizations, to practice direct participatory self-governance. They are a main pillar in the transition to an ecosocialist, communal state. They are a work in progress, striving toward these goals based on a belief in the sovereignty of the people, which take on more functions of the public sector as they demonstrate competence. Maduro recognizes Venezuela is still a capitalist-based economy and has identified the commune as the centerpiece of democratic socialist governance.

The example of creating real democracy, working to break from capitalism and moving to a socialized economy by and for the people, is what the United States and oligarchs fear. That is why Maduro is called a dictator and the US calls for a military coup “to restore democracy”, which really means restore the pre-1998 oligarchy and protect capitalism.

The presidential election, originally scheduled for the end of 2018, was moved up to April when the US State Department, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, other regional conservative governments and opposition parties called for 2018 presidential elections to be brought forward. Then, they claimed April was too soon. To appease the opposition, the government agreed to move the elections to May 20, signing an agreement with right-wing candidates Henri Falcon and Javier Bertucci that included a host of electoral guarantees. Despite this, the US and its allies said the elections were illegitimate. In the end, the elections went forward and Maduro won an easy victory.

Source ANSWER Coalition

Maduro Takes First Steps After Election

While Maduro won the election against Venezuelan candidates, he was really running against US imperialsim. Maduro overcame great challenges to win a mandate to continue the Bolivarian Revolution. After the election, he urged dialogue with the opposition, seeking to move Venezuela to peace. Maduro also ordered the US Charge d’Affaires Todd Robinson and head of political affairs (who he described as the head of the CIA), Brian Naranjo, to leave Venezuela.  He accused them of being involved in “a military conspiracy” against Venezuela. This is consistent with calls for a military coup by former Secretary of State Tillerson and Senator Rubio as well as Trump’s claims of a military option for Venezuela.

Maduro must confront the economic war and build an independent economy, alongside and often led by the communes. Grassroots activists are calling for a National Emergency Plan on food, the electric system and Internet, health care and education. China and Russia recognized Maduro’s victory. He needs their support for major projects.

Maduro and the Venezuelans still face significant obstacles. The internal traitors, who seek a return to the pre-Chavez era, have been exposed as more loyal to the US and international finance than to Venezuela will need to be held accountable. The problems of corruption and crime will continue. And, Maduro will be under threat of attacks from US-allied Colombia and Brazil.

To show solidarity, people in the US should call for an end to sanctions and threats of regime change in Venezuela. Let Venezuela be independent and pursue its Bolivarian revolutionary path. We may learn something about democracy from them.

Defendants Acquitted Based on Climate Necessity Defense

Massachusetts – On March 27, 13 defendants went into the West Roxbury District courthouse to answer charges related to their arrests protesting the West Roxbury Massachusetts Lateral Pipeline. They expected to have charges against them reduced to civil infractions — the equivalent of a parking ticket. While finding no grounds to deny that motion from the prosecution, the judge chose to let each defendant testify briefly on the necessity of their actions.

The defendants collectively presented a powerful and comprehensive argument for why it was necessary to engage in civil disobedience to stop the imminent local and global harms of this fracked gas pipeline. Following their testimony, the judge acquitted ALL the defendants by reason of necessity.

While defendants in this case were still denied a jury trial and the possibility of presenting a full necessity defense, this was the first time that we know of that defendants were acquitted based on climate necessity. The defendants told the story of the campaign against the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline and how their actions were justified by the threat of climate change.

Lawyers for the 13 activists suggested there may even have been a “cause and effect” – that charges were reduced in order to avoid the trial for which the defendants, their legal team, eight expert witnesses, and many supporters had prepared.

Activists said they were disappointed that they would not get the chance to present their case to a jury of their peers, but not disheartened. “The attempt to take these cases to trial was a long shot,” said Marla Marcum, co-founder of the Climate Disobedience Center and a spokesperson for the group. “As climate activists in 2018, we know that long shots and moral imagination are some of the most promising tools for culture-shifting transformation.”

With the judge dismissing the charges, the campaign was a success even without the trial. As Nathan Phillips, a professor in the Earth and Environment Department at Boston University and one of the defendants, said “We forced Spectra to admit to the judge that they did not have and do not have a safety plan for the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline and likely any projects going forward.”

The result in this case is an important part of building power to fight the fossil fuel industry. Climate justice advocates told their story not just in court but from the way they created their protest, which included “Digging Mass Graves” to highlight the dangers of climate change.

“What we stood for is true, and that truth is in the process of coming to light, regardless of the fact that the system is unable to fully hear it right now,” said Karenna Gore, daughter of former Vice President Al Gore and Director of the Center for Earth Ethics of at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

Activists continued to tell their story after the protest. See this blog from Tim DeChristopher, and by Rev. Lara Hoke. The participants consistently made the point that they restated before the court — there is an urgent necessity to stop building carbon infrastructure as climate change will kill millions of people and cause immense environmental damage.

This protest and refusal to accept a plea bargain built the movement’s power and demonstrated the violence of carbon energy infrastructure projects.

The defendants were among roughly 200 protesters who had been arrested as part of a massive campaign against this pipeline, beginning in mid 2015. Initially concerned with local  safety– the risk of locating a high pressure facility in a densely-populated neighborhood and across the street from an active blasting quarry—protesters gained support from Boston Mayor Walsh and the entire Boston City Council, Congressman Lynch, Senators Markey and Warren, State Representative Coppinger and State Senator Rush, as well as residents and officials from the Town of Dedham through which the pipeline also runs.

This is not just one protest but part of a national resistance movement for climate justice with activists taking action across the country to stop carbon energy infrastructure and extraction of oil and gas. We urge you to share this report so tens of thousands of people will see principled climate disobedience actions as one kind of necessary leadership in a time when our regulatory systems and our government are owned by the fossil fuel industry. We hope this action will inspire more people to take direct action, risk arrest, and pursue novel legal strategies.

The Climate Disobedience Center provides a guide for activists on how to use the tool of the necessity defense in climate cases. It defines climate necessity as: “The climate necessity defense is an argument made by a criminal defendant to justify action taken on behalf of the planet. It’s offered by activists who have been arrested for protesting fossil fuel extraction and government inaction on climate policy.” [Emphasis in original] The necessity defense is a long-time defense used in civil disobedience cases where activists argue that their violation of the law should not result in conviction because they were acting out of necessity to prevent a greater harm. In climate cases, the argument is the impacts of climate change are so serious that breaking the law is necessary to avert them.

The trial was supported by Climate Disobedience Center, the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers GuildClimate Defense Project, and 198 Methods.

For more information visit the Climate Disobedience Center and Stop the West Roxbury Lateral. The above report is based in part on the press release from the defendants.

Defendants Acquitted Based On Climate Necessity Defense

Roxbury climate necessity defendants. (By Peter Bowden)

Massachusetts – On March 27, 13 defendants went into the West Roxbury District courthouse to answer charges related to their arrests protesting the West Roxbury Massachusetts Lateral Pipeline. They expected to have charges against them reduced to civil infractions — the equivalent of a parking ticket. While finding no grounds to deny that motion from the prosecution, the judge chose to let each defendant testify briefly on the necessity of their actions.

The defendants collectively presented a powerful and comprehensive argument for why it was necessary to engage in civil disobedience to stop the imminent local and global harms of this fracked gas pipeline. Following their testimony, the judge acquitted ALL the defendants by reason of necessity.

While defendants in this case were still denied a jury trial and the possibility of presenting a full necessity defense, this was the first time that we know of that defendants were acquitted based on climate necessity. The defendants told the story of the campaign against the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline and how their actions were justified by the threat of climate change.

Lawyers for the 13 activists suggested there may even have been a “cause and effect” – that charges were reduced in order to avoid the trial for which the defendants, their legal team, eight expert witnesses, and many supporters had prepared.

Activists said they were disappointed that they would not get the chance to present their case to a jury of their peers, but not disheartened. “The attempt to take these cases to trial was a long shot,” said Marla Marcum, co-founder of the Climate Disobedience Center and a spokesperson for the group. “As climate activists in 2018, we know that long shots and moral imagination are some of the most promising tools for culture-shifting transformation.”

With the judge dismissing the charges, the campaign was a success even without the trial. As Nathan Phillips, a professor in the Earth and Environment Department at Boston University and one of the defendants, said “We forced Spectra to admit to the judge that they did not have and do not have a safety plan for the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline and likely any projects going forward.”

The result in this case is an important part of building power to fight the fossil fuel industry. Climate justice advocates told their story not just in court but from the way they created their protest, which included “Digging Mass Graves” to highlight the dangers of climate change.

Wampanoag Territory: West Roxbury Protectors ExoneratedJudge completely dismisses all civil charges in favor of Necessity Defense. Start Video At 4 Minutes In…Statements From:-Attourney Josh Raisler-Tim DeChristopher-Marla Marcum-Karenna Gore-Nathan Phillips -Brown Pulliam-Warren Senders -Nora Collins -Mary Boyle -Diane Martin -Calista Womick-Catherine Hoffman Climate Action RI • 350 RIClimate Disobedience CenterShare, educate and inspire…Mitakuye Oyasin,Standing Bear ~ John Gonzalez#MniWičoni#WaterIsLife#ProtectTheSacred#StopSpectra#OčetiOyate#AllNations

Posted by John Gonzalez on Tuesday, March 27, 2018

 

Roxbury protesters arrive to show the moral imperative of stopping climate infrastructure due to climate change.

Roxbury pipeline protest dramatized the mass deaths that climate change will occur and the necessity of stopping climate infrastructure.

Digging Mass Graves in West Roxbury from Kori Feener on Vimeo.

“What we stood for is true, and that truth is in the process of coming to light, regardless of the fact that the system is unable to fully hear it right now,” said Karenna Gore, daughter of former Vice President Al Gore and Director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

Activists continued to tell their story after the protest. See this blog from Tim DeChristopher, and by Rev. Lara Hoke. The participants consistently made the point that they restated before the court — there is an urgent necessity to stop building carbon infrastructure as climate change will kill millions of people and cause immense environmental damage.

This protest and refusal to accept a plea bargain built the movement’s power and demonstrated the violence of carbon energy infrastructure projects.

The defendants were among roughly 200 protesters who had been arrested as part of a massive campaign against this pipeline, beginning in mid 2015. Initially concerned with local  safety – the risk of locating a high pressure facility in a densely-populated neighborhood and across the street from an active blasting quarry—protesters gained support from Boston Mayor Walsh and the entire Boston City Council, Congressman Lynch, Senators Markey and Warren, State Representative Coppinger and State Senator Rush, as well as residents and officials from the Town of Dedham through which the pipeline also runs.

This is not just one protest but part of a national resistance movement for climate justice with activists taking action across the country to stop carbon energy infrastructure and extraction of oil and gas. We urge you to share this report so tens of thousands of people will see principled climate disobedience actions as one kind of necessary leadership in a time when our regulatory systems and our government are owned by the fossil fuel industry. We hope this action will inspire more people to take direct action, risk arrest, and pursue novel legal strategies.

The Climate Disobedience Center provides a guide for activists on how to use the tool of the necessity defense in climate cases. It defines climate necessity as: “The climate necessity defense is an argument made by a criminal defendant to justify action taken on behalf of the planet. It’s offered by activists who have been arrested for protesting fossil fuel extraction and government inaction on climate policy.” [Emphasis in original] The necessity defense is a long-time defense used in civil disobedience cases where activists argue that their violation of the law should not result in conviction because they were acting out of necessity to prevent a greater harm. In climate cases, the argument is the impacts of climate change are so serious that breaking the law is necessary to avert them.

The trial was supported by Climate Disobedience Center, the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Climate Defense Project, and 198 Methods.

For more information visit the Climate Disobedience Center and Stop the West Roxbury Lateral. The above report is based in part on the press release from the defendants.

US Misses Opportunity For Peace Progress At Olympics

The unified Korean team marches in the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Credit James Hill for The New York Times.

Despite President Moon’s Efforts to Encourage Diplomacy, Childish Anti-Diplomatic Behavior of Vice President Pence Undermines Opportunity for Peace Diplomacy

President Moon said at a carefully planned dinner to honor Kim Yong Nam, the North Korean president’s sister and Vice President Mike Pence that he hoped the Winter Olympics would be remembered as the “day peace began.” But, Vice President Mike Pence did his best to make sure that did not happen. He missed the opportunity to further peace on the Olympic peninsula created by Moon. The historic opening created by North and South Korea at the Olympics was an opportunity but Pence handled the situation like a childish teenager.

At a dinner dinner reception where President Moon sought an opportunity for dialogue between the US and North Korea, Pence went through great lengths to avoid talking to the North Koreans. According to Reuters, when Pence arrived late to the reception he told Moon he planned to leave directly after a photo session but Moon asked him to “come and say hello to friends.” Moon was trying to create a dialogue to advance peace but Pence went around the table and shook hands with everyone except Kim Yong Nam of North Korea.

Reuters reports that Moon said “There are some who would not want to be in the same room together if it wasn’t for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. But what is more important than anything is that we are together.” That seemed to be a statement that described the behavior of Pence. The mainstream political media outlet Politico described it as a close call for Pence:

Vice President Mike Pence’s Olympic visit to Pyeongchang, South Korea, began Friday with a close call with the North Korean officials, whom the vice president appeared to avoid at a diplomatic reception before the opening ceremonies.

Since Pence arrived at the dinner late the seating plan was shuffled, Pence again missing an opportunity created by Moon. Originally, the seating plan showed Pence, with his wife to the left and Moon to his right, seated across the round table from Kim, who was nestled between U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and International Olympics Committee President Thomas Bach’s wife. Kim’s visit is significant as she is the first member of North Korea’s ruling family to enter South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Who knows what kind of conversation could have occurred that furthered the peace process, but Pence avoided the opportunity. Pence left the event after five minutes.

Reuters reports that Pence missed the symbolic desert called “A Plate of Hope,” a “dark chocolate tempered in the shape of barbed wire lay over a map of the Korean peninsula rendered in thin blue chocolate, a representation of the heavily militarized border that separates Games host South Korea and its old enemy in the North.”

Reuters reports the diplomatic response of the Moon administration’s reaction to the avoidance antics of Pence: “A source in the Moon administration said Pence’s absence at the reception was a ‘mere bump’ in an otherwise successful diplomatic event.”

At the stadium Pence sat one row in front of the North Koreans. While Kim Jong Yo was so close to her he never even tried to speak to her.  The pool report for the media was that Pence had “no interaction” with Kim Jong Yo. New York Magazine described it as Pence “avoiding eye contact” with the Korean leader.  Another missed opportunty for peace.

Vice President Pence, so close and yet so far from North Korea’s Kim Jong Yo. The two never even made eye contact.

Vice president Mike Pence, second from bottom right, sits between second lady Karen Pence, third from from bottom left, and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Behind Pence is Kim Jong Yo of North Korea. To the left is President Moon of South Korea and his wife.

While Pence was present, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo Jong, creating a historic moment and a photograph that gave hopes to many for peace between North and South Korea and movement toward unification and an end of hostilities.

Another show of unity was when two members of the Unified Korean Hockey Team, one from the north and one from the south, carried the Olympic torch up the final flight of stairs in the opening ceremonies. They handed the torch over to figure skater Yuna Kim, a South Korean who won the gold medal in 2010 and the silver medal in 2014 who lit the Olympic cauldron.

A historic moment of unity, two women who play on the unified Korean ice hockey team carried the Olympic torch for the last leg of its journey at the opening ceremony for the 2018 PyeongChang Games. Park Jong-ah of South Korea and Jong Su-hyon of North Korea carried the flame together across the stage and up a steep flight of stairs to the base of the Olympic cauldron.

We recognize that these images of North and South Korea shaking hands and being friendly toward each other as well as of South and North Korean athletes walking into the Olympic stadium together do not ensure peace on the Korean peninsula. It is a long hard road to peace, much needs to be negotiated. Peace is made more difficult with the US threatening a ‘bloody nose’, teenage bully talk for a military first strike, against North Korea. Pence exemplified the worst of US foreign policy with his childish behavior at the Olympics.

North Korean Olympic delegation athletes holding flag of unification before entering Olympic stadium.