Category Archives: Bolivia

A People’s Vaccine Against a Mutating Virus and Neoliberal Rule

Photo credit: UNICEF Teachers and students were able to return to school in Lao Cai, Viet Nam, in May 2020

A recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that worries about the COVID pandemic in the United States are at their lowest level since it began. Only half of Americans are either “very worried” (15%) or “somewhat worried” (35%) about the virus, while the other half are “not very worried” (30%) or “not worried at all” (20%).

But the news from around the world makes it clear that this pandemic is far from over, and a story from Vietnam highlights the nature of the danger.

Vietnam is a COVID success story, with one of the lowest rates of infection and death in the world. Vietnam’s excellent community-based public health system prevented the virus from spreading beyond isolated cases and localized outbreaks, without a nationwide lockdown. With a population of 98 million people, Vietnam has had only 8,883 cases and 53 deaths.

However, more than half of Vietnam’s cases and deaths have come in the last two months, and three-quarters of the new cases have been infected with a new “hybrid” variant that combines the two mutations detected separately in the Alpha (U.K.) and Delta (India) variants.

Vietnam is a canary in the pandemic coal-mine. The way this new variant has spread so quickly in a country that has defeated every previous form of the virus suggests that this one is much more infectious.

This variant must surely also be spreading in other countries, where it will be harder to detect among thousands of daily cases, and will therefore be widespread by the time public health officials and governments respond to it. There may also be other highly infectious new variants spreading undetected among the millions of cases in Latin America and other parts of the world.

A new study in The Lancet medical journal has found that the Alpha (U.K.), Beta (South Africa) and Delta (India) variants are all more resistant to existing vaccines than the original COVID virus, and the Delta variant is still spreading in countries with aggressive vaccination programs, including the U.K.

The Delta variant accounts for a two-month high in new cases in the U.K. and a new wave of infections in Portugal, just as developed countries ease restrictions before the summer vacation season, almost certainly opening the door to the next wave. The U.K., which has a slightly higher vaccination rate than the United States, had planned a further relaxation of restrictions on June 21st, but that is now in question.

China, Vietnam, New Zealand and other countries defeated the pandemic in its early stages by prioritizing public health over business interests. The United States and Western Europe instead tried to strike a balance between public health and their neoliberal economic systems, breeding a monster that has now killed millions of people. The World Health Organization believes that six to eight million people have died, about twice as many as have been counted in official figures.

Now the WHO is recommending that wealthier countries who have good supplies of vaccines postpone vaccinating healthy young people, and instead prioritize sending vaccines to poorer countries where the virus is running wild.

President Biden has announced that the United States is releasing 25 million doses from its stockpiles, most of which will be distributed through the WHO’s Covax program, with another 55 million to follow by the end of June. But this is a tiny fraction of what is needed.

Biden has also agreed to waive patent rights on vaccines under the WTO’s TRIPS rules (the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), but that has so far been held up at the WTO by Canada and right-wing governments in the U.K., Germany, Brazil, Australia, Japan and Colombia. People have taken to the streets in many countries to insist that a WTO TRIPS Council meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 8-9, must agree to waive patent monopolies.

Since all the countries blocking the TRIPS waiver are U.S. allies, this will be a critical test of the Biden administration’s promised international leadership and diplomacy, which has so far taken a back seat to dangerous saber-rattling against China and Russia, foot-dragging on the JCPOA with Iran and war-crime-fueling weapons-peddling to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Ending international vaccine apartheid is not just a matter of altruism, or even justice. It is a question of whether we will end this pandemic before vaccine-resistant, super-spreading and deadlier variants fuel even more toxic new waves. The only way humanity can win this struggle is to act collectively in our common interest. 

Public Citizen has researched what it would take to vaccinate the world, and concluded that it would cost only $25 billion – 3% of the annual U.S. budget for weapons and war – to set up manufacturing plants and distribution hubs across the world and vaccinate all of humanity within a year. Forty-two Progressives in Congress have signed a letter to President Biden to urge him to fund such a plan.

If the world can agree to make and distribute a People’s Vaccine, it could be the silver lining in this dark cloud, because this ability to act globally and collectively in the public interest is precisely what we need to solve so many of the most serious problems facing humanity.

For example, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) is warning that we are in the midst of a triple crisis of climate change, mass extinction and pollution. Our neoliberal political and economic system has not just failed to solve these problems. It actively works to undermine efforts to do so, granting people, corporations and countries who profit from destroying the natural world the freedom to do so without constraint.

That is the very meaning of laissez-faire, to let the wealthy and powerful do whatever they want, regardless of the consequences for the rest of us, or even for life on Earth. As the economist John Maynard Keynes reputedly said in the 1930s, “Laissez-faire capitalism is the absurd idea that the worst people, for the worst reasons, will do what is best for us all.”

Neoliberalism is the reimposition of 19th century laissez-faire capitalism, with all its injustices, inequality and oppression, on the people of the 21st century, prioritizing markets, profits and wealth over the common welfare of humanity and the natural world our lives depend on.

Berkeley and Princeton political theorist Sheldon Wolin called the U.S. political system, which facilitates this neoliberal economic order, “inverted totalitarianism.” Like classical totalitarianism, it concentrates ever more wealth and power in the hands of a small ruling class, but instead of abolishing parliaments, elections and the superficial trappings of representative government as classical totalitarianism did, it simply co-opts them as tools of plutocracy, which has proved to be a more marketable and sustainable strategy.

But now that neoliberalism has wreaked its chaos for a generation, popular movements are rising up across the world to demand systemic change and to build new systems of politics and economics that can actually solve the huge problems that neoliberalism has produced.

In response to the 2019 uprising in Chile, its rulers were forced to agree to an election for a constitutional assembly, to draft a constitution to replace the one written during the Pinochet dictatorship, one of the vanguards of neoliberalism. That election has now taken place, and the ruling party of President Pinera and other traditional parties won less than a third of the seats. So the constitution will instead be written by a super-majority of citizens committed to radical reform and social, economic and political justice.

In Iraq, which was also swept by a popular uprising in 2019, a new government seated in 2020 has launched an investigation to recover $150 billion in Iraqi oil revenues stolen and smuggled out of the country by the corrupt officials of previous governments.

U.S.-backed former exiles flew into Iraq on the heels of the U.S. invasion in 2003 “with empty pockets to fill,” as a Baghdad taxi driver told a Western reporter at the time. While U.S. forces and U.S.-trained Iraqi death squads destroyed their country, they hunkered down in the Green Zone in Baghdad and controlled and looted Iraq’s oil revenues for the next seventeen years. Now maybe Iraq can recover the stolen money its people so desperately need, and start using its oil wealth to rebuild that shattered country.

In Bolivia, also in 2019, a U.S.-backed coup overthrew its popular indigenous president, Evo Morales. But the people of Bolivia rose up in a general strike to demand a new election, Morales’ MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) Party was restored to power, and Luis Arce, Morales’ former Economy Minister, is now Bolivia’s President.

Around the world, we are witnessing what can happen when people rise up and act collectively for the common good. That is how we will solve the serious problems we face, from the COVID pandemic to the climate crisis to the terminal danger of nuclear war. Humanity’s survival into the twenty-second century and all our hopes for a bright future depend on building new political and economic systems that will simply and genuinely “do what is best for all of us.”

The post A People’s Vaccine Against a Mutating Virus and Neoliberal Rule first appeared on Dissident Voice.

2020 Latin America and the Caribbean in Review: The Pink Tide May Rise Again

The balance between the US drive to dominate Latin America and the Caribbean and its counterpart, the Bolivarian cause of regional independence and integration, tipped portside by year end 2020 with major popular victories, including reversal of the coup in Bolivia and the constitutional referendum in Chile. Central has been the persistence of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution against the asphyxiating US blockade, along with the defiance by Cuba and Nicaragua of US regime-change measures.

The grand struggle played out against the backdrop of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, impacting countries differently depending on their political economies.  As of this writing, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba had COVID death rates per million population of 35, 25, and 12, respectively. In comparison, the death rates in right-leaning neoliberal states of Peru, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Honduras, and Guatemala were respectively 1123, 888, 849, 805, 843, 306, and 263. The manifestly lower rates on the left reflected, in large part, better developed public health systems and social welfare practices.

Andean Nations

Venezuela’s continued resistance to the US “maximum pressure” hybrid warfare campaign is a triumph in itself. Hybrid warfare – a diplomatic, propaganda, and financial offensive along with a crippling illegal blockade and attack on the Venezuelan currency – kills as effectively as open warfare.  “It bleeds the country slowly and is much more devastating than direct bombardment,” observes Vijay Prashad of the Tricontinental Institute.

Venezuela featured prominently in the campaign speeches of Trump and Biden, with both promoting regime change, as they vied for the votes of the right-leaning Venezuelan émigré community in Florida, the second largest Latinx group in that critical swing state. US-anointed fake President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, received a standing ovation at Trump’s State of the Union address in February – about the only thing the Democrats and Republicans agreed on – but received a far less friendly reception back home.

In March, the US falsely charged Venezuela of narco-terrorism, placing multi-million-dollar bounties on the heads of Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro and other officials. A naval armada was sent off the coast of Venezuela under the pretext of interdicting drugs. US government data, however, show the source of the drugs and the countries through which the illicit substances transit to the US are precisely the US client regimes in the region such as Colombia and Honduras.

In May, mercenaries launched an attack from Colombia but were captured, including two US ex-Green Berets. Initially, some Iranian oil tankers evaded the US blockade to bring critically needed fuel to Venezuela, where refining capacity has been impacted by the US sanctions. But later the US seized tankers in international waters, like pirates of yore, having a devastating impact on transport, agriculture, water treatment, and electricity generation in Venezuela.

In another victory in June, federal charges were dropped against the final four embassy protectors, who had defended the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington last year from being usurped by the illegal Guaidó forces. Kevin Zeese, one of the four and a revered progressive movement leader in the US, tragically and unexpectedly died in his sleep in September.

In October, Venezuela adopted controversial anti-blockade measures aimed at facilitating private investment and circumventing the US blockade. The unrelenting US regime-change campaign has had a corrosive effect on Venezuela’s attempt to build socialism. With the economy de facto dollarized, among those hardest hit are government workers, the informal sector, and those without access to dollar remittances from abroad who continue to be paid in the bolivar, now ever more grossly inflated.

Prior to calling the US presidential elections a fraud, Trump made the same accusation regarding the elections for the Venezuelan National Assembly and for the same reason; his preferred candidates would not win. The opposition to the leftist government in Venezuela was divided between an extremist Guaidó faction, which heeded the US directive to boycott the election, and a more moderate grouping opposed to the US blockade, open to dialogue with the Maduro administration, and in favor of US recognition of  the Maduro government. Although turnout was low for the December 6 election, the ruling Socialist Party enjoyed a landslide victory giving them a mandate.

Guaidó, who has become an embarrassment, may be dropped by the new US administration. Biden, however, is expected to “keep using [the] US sanctions weapon but with sharper aim,” as reported by Reuters.

Colombia is the chief regional US client state, distinguished by being the largest recipient of US military aid in the hemisphere and the largest world source of illicit cocaine. With at least seven US military bases, Colombia is a principal staging point for paramilitary attacks on Venezuela. President Iván Duque continues to disregard the 2016 peace agreement with the guerrilla FARC as Colombia endures a pandemic of right-wing violence. In October, the largely indigenous Minga mobilization converged on the capital of Bogotá to protest rampant killings. A national strike followed, called by a broad coalition led by the teachers’ union FECODE. Colombia is the most dangerous country to be a social activist with a leader murdered every other day. The approaching 2022 presidential election could portend a sea change for the popular movement.

Ecuador achieved international notoriety with the streets of Guayaquil littered with dead bodies attributed to mismanagement of the pandemic by President Lenín Moreno. A vice president under leftist Rafael Correa, Moreno turned sharp right after his presidential election in 2017, reversing the anti-imperialist stance of his predecessor. Moreno is prosecuting his former allies and privatizing the state-owned electric and oil companies, while poverty has worsened. Moreno’s popularity rating plummeted to an abysmal 8%, and his administration has been wracked with corruption scandals and popular, anti-neoliberal revolt. Polls for the presidential election, scheduled for this coming February 7, give progressive Andrés Arauz a lead as the Pink Tide may again rise in Ecuador.

Peru. The crises in Peru last year, which saw a succession of corrupt presidents replacing former ones with some sent to prison, were repeated this year. President Martín Vízcarra was dismissed in December, followed by the Manuel Merino presidency of less than a week, followed by the appointment of President Francisco Sagasti. COVID raged in a country, where investment in public health is half that recommended by the World Health Organization, while the youth took to the streets in protest, some demanding a new constitution. A left current is building in Peru as seen with the promising candidacy of Verónika Mendoza in the upcoming April 2021 presidential contest.

Bolivia. Evo Morales returned to Bolivia less than a year after a US-backed coup forced him to escape. Morales had won his reelection bid in October 2019, but the Organization of American States (OAS) conspired with the US and the domestic ultra-right to allege that his victory was fraudulent. Although his reelection was proven fair, the intervention of the OAS gave a patina of legitimacy to the ensuing putsch. Right-wing Senator Jeanine Añez was installed as “interim-president” after Morales was forced to resign by the military and police hierarchy. She presided over two massacres and a campaign of repression against the majority indigenous population and activists of Morales’s party, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). A heroic resistance based on strong grassroots organizing by social movements, unions, and the MAS, forced Añez to call a new presidential election, after she had postponed it three times.

On October 18, MAS presidential candidate Luis Arce won with a landslide 55%. The new government has returned to ALBA, CELAC, and UNASUR – regional bodies founded by Hugo Chávez – but is saddled with a $300M loan from the IMF, made by Añez though not authorized by the Senate. The year closed with the Constitution Court propitiously overruling a domestic law that banned same-sex union as inconsistent with international law, permitting the first legal same-sex marriage in Bolivia.

The Southern Cone

Brazil. Jair Bolsonaro’s second year in office was like the first: dismantling social welfare measures and rewarding multinational corporations, while the Amazon burned and the popular sectors protested. His unscientific belief in coronavirus herd immunity contributed to excessive deaths in Brazil, especially impacting indigenous peoples.

Chile has been in turmoil for most of the year with protests against their corrupt President Sebastian Piñera, incidentally the richest person in the country. Finally, on October 23, the right-wing politicians were forced to allow a plebiscite, which passed with a resounding 78% to replace the constitution imposed on the country by the dictator Pinochet. The vote was preceded by a week of massive demonstrations commemorating the first anniversary of the popular struggle against the neoliberal order. Elections for Constituent Assembly members are scheduled for April and presidential elections are scheduled for November, with Communist Eduardo Artés now leading in the polls.

Argentina. The new President Alberto Fernández and VP Cristina Fernández are slowly recovering Argentina after four years of right-wing governance. On October 17, crowds celebrated Peronist loyalty day in support of the center-left government.  Emilio Pérsico said their movement is revolutionary because “it gave power to those who had no power and incorporated the workers into politics.”

Caribbean

Cuba’s Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for its medical missions combatting the pandemic across the world. Cuba is also producing COVID-19 vaccines and is in the process of distributing them to needy countries, all the while suffering under an intensified US blockade. While decrying foreign interference in US internal affairs, the Trump administration has funded some 54 regime-change groups in Cuba through the USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy. The economy has been severely impacted by the pandemic and tightening of US sanctions, forcing Cuba to take pragmatic economic adjustments.

Puerto Rico, a spoil that the US empire gained in the first war of imperialism, the Spanish-American War of 1898, is today one of the few outright remaining colonies in the world. Emblematic of the neglect of Puerto Rico was the physical collapse on December 1 of the Arecibo Observatory’s giant radio telescope, once the largest in the world and source of pride. Nearly 60% of the island’s children live in poverty.

Haiti has been in nearly continuous popular revolt against US-backed President Jovenal Moïse, who has ruled by decree after cancelling elections. Government repression has been violent and intense, which is ignored in the western press.

Central America and Mexico

Central America was battered by not only the pandemic but two devastating hurricanes that hit just ten days apart in October. As conditions further deteriorate, migrants, especially from the US client states of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, continue to flee to the US. Migrants and asylum seekers, who were then deported back from the US, have been killed, raped, or tortured when they were forced to return, according to human rights groups.

El Salvador. In a flagrant overreach of executive prerogative, President Nayib Bukele sent the military on February 9 into the Legislative Assembly to influence a vote on his proposed security program. Bukele, formerly associated with the left FMLN party, has now turned right, militarizing the border between El Salvador and Honduras to enforce the “safe third country agreements” and joining the pro-US interventionist Lima Group.

Guatemala. Angry citizens burned down Guatemala’s congress building on November 21, after a record high budget passed giving the legislators substantial raises and rewarding multinational corporations but cutting social welfare. A national strike followed demanding the resignation of rightist President Alejandro Giammattei, a former director of the Guatemalan penitentiary system.

Honduras. Eleven years since the US-backed coup overthrew the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya, the country has devolved into a state where current President Juan Orlando Hernández is an unindicted drug smuggler, the intellectual authors who ordered the assassination of indigenous environmental leader Berta Cáceres run free, Afro-descendent people and women are murdered with impunity, gang violence is widespread, and state protection from pandemic and hurricanes is grossly deficient.

Costa Rica. Workers staged a week-long national strike in October against the neoliberal policies of President Carlos Alvarado, who then ignored the people and resumed negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), sparking more popular demonstrations. Despite intervention by the Catholic Church to diffuse the protests, the rebellion against destructive tax increases, cuts to public services, and privatizations “has changed the political dynamics in a country which was formerly seen as ‘the Switzerland of Central America,’” according to journalist Rob Lyons.

Nicaragua. Under the Sandinista government of President Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua enjoys: “reduction of poverty and extreme poverty, eradication of illiteracy, the highest economic growth in the region for a decade, free quality education, change of the energy matrix to 77% renewable energy, [and] from 90th place to number 5 worldwide…in reducing the gender inequality gap.”

Given this “threat of a good example,” US efforts to isolate Nicaragua economically to achieve regime change continued. Reports by the PBS NewsHour, the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal, and the Oakland Institute of alleged abuses to the indigenous and Afro-descendent communities provided evidence in support of boycotting the import of “conflict beef,” which would have had a major impact on the Nicaraguan economy. After the allegations were exposed as unsubstantiated, the accusers hypocritically claimed their actions resulted in the Nicaraguan government correcting itself.

The US State Department has already called the Nicaraguan presidential election a fraud even though it is not scheduled until November 2021. After Venezuela and Cuba, Nicaragua is the hardest hit country in Latin America by US sanctions.

Mexico is the second largest economy in Latin America, the eleventh in the world, and the US’s top trade partner. After decades of right-wing rule, left-of-center Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his new MORENA party have been in office for two years.

A little over a year ago, Mexico flew then President Evo Morales out of Bolivia, when his life was threatened by a rightwing coup, and gave asylum in the Mexican Embassy in La Paz to other deposed Bolivian officials. Mexico has also defied the US blockade of Venezuela, and AMLO has called for the release of whistleblower Julian Assange.

Last spring, AMLO closed factories in response to the pandemic except for those supplying essential services. Workers went on strike when some factory owners defied the government closures. The US intervened forcing border maquiladoras that produce goods for the US military to open.

With high COVID infection rates, AMLO has been criticized for what some characterize as a lax and delayed handling of the health crisis. He was also confronted by protests from the extreme right nationalist coalition FRENA, demanding that the “Bolivarian Dictator” must resign, while a rightist plan called Project BOA outlined a strategy for ousting him from office.

In July, AMLO made an official state visit to Washington. “Under Trump, Mexico has had to navigate abrupt demands to stem illegal migration or face trade tariffs.” As the nineteenth century Mexican President Porfirio Díaz famously lamented: “Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States.”

Campaign for 2021

UN Secretary General Guterres’s plea for a “global ceasefire,” ever more necessitated by “the fury of the virus,” has been ignored by the US. Meanwhile, some 30 nations worldwide, including Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, are suffering under suffocating US sanctions, which are a form of hybrid warfare. These unilateral, coercive measures, impacting a third of humanity, are illegal under the UN Charter. As the “liberator” Simón Bolívar presciently observed in 1829: “The US appears to be destined by providence to plague the Americas with misery in the name of freedom.”

The post 2020 Latin America and the Caribbean in Review: The Pink Tide May Rise Again first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Calling this “our Democracy” is like Slaves referring to “our Plantation”

While Americans are re-programmed every four years for the most important desperately crucial national emergency election since the last one, which will assure that Wall Street, the Pentagon, Israel and billionaires maintain power and control over everything that matters, most eligible voters will choose neither of the ruling power’s candidates and in a sense exercise democratic values by refusing to act as majority puppets.

Meanwhile the people of Bolivia and Chile recently went to the polls and in dramatic contrast to America actually voted on substantial issues that could radically change their country’s futures. Bolivia chose returning to the socialist government that had been overthrown by a U.S. aided capitalist -fascist coup and Chile voted to dump its U.S. influenced fascist-capitalist constitution in favor of a new one to guarantee the rights of all and not just some of their people. However things turn out for them what they did comes far closer to what America needs and democracy can create but what we’ll get is the same system with possibly slightly different actions by the crew of our national model of the Titanic. Escape lifeboats will still be available only to the upper income groups while the rest of us can drown. Sorry, we’re in the “real” world and still being convinced that having a new CEO of a petroleum firm who is a transsexual of color or a bi-polar Semite or a Picasso person with seven eyes and eight breasts is more important than ending dependence on fossil fuels and demanding alternate power sources for the future of our nation and our planet.

With manufactured fears of this multi-billion dollar electoral market being sold as democracy but allegedly threatened by Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, Mexico, Disneyland, Lower Slobovia or other fictional scapegoats, the financial fiasco that grows more criminal and psychotic every day supposedly guarantees freedom to the homeless, the poor, the debtors, the millions without health care and the rest of us to whom everything nature’s corporate capitalism offers is available provided we’ve the market force to buy it. Those of us able to buy are a group getting smaller by the minute with plastic replacing money at a faster clip than ever with debt in the trillions and the only hope of paying it off being prayer, drugs or mass murder.

The bread and circuses of a past empire has its present version in the moral pornography of a rich nation with people living on the street, under highways and bridges and being stepped over by good folks on their way to rescue a dog or cat while massive political fund raising assures the richest minority maintains control of the entire political process. All of this is sanctified by the law of the land, a constitution written by the original 1% to assure that the other 99% would never threaten their power and control, only allowing supposed revolutionary amendments that allow a greater professional servant class and guarantee that the overwhelming majority continue to react to the spectacle of a variety show that passes for an electoral process, as people are convinced that the right to vote is the essence of democracy, with little or no consideration about what there is to vote for. With fears of fascism being charged every minute and attributing that threat to the rich if honest simpleton in the white house, there is also the veneration in the minds of the people that the act of voting is the be all, end all of fictional democracy.

Pssst: the popular depiction of the archfiend fascists of Nazism and Hitler leaves out the fact that they took power through the sacred democratic process of voting, and Germany was generally considered the foremost intellectual and artistic culture of the continent.  Past American dominance of the world was never dependent on our exceeding Canada and Mexico in thought and creativity except when it came to making and using weapons to slaughter millions while proclaiming love for mankind, democracy and other good stuff. The point being that fascism is an aspect of capitalism at an extremely critical crisis during which the most repressive among the ruling class take power and make life better for some and worse for others but in a fashion beyond the usual fake manner which calls attention to poverty, war and social degeneracy as aspects of awful “other” social formations. This is currently the expression of the alleged fascist putz in the white house while his alleged liberal foes engage in the most repressive reactionary politics in the usual guise of democracy in America: Our evil is lesser than their evil. Vote for polio or you’ll get cancer!

Before we were struck by the pandemic spread by market forces, more than half a million Americans were homeless. More than 8 million have since descended into poverty while the billionaire class has expanded its wealth to even more outrageous extremes than before. And while our national situation disintegrates under the moral assault on life and nature called the free market, no less than the World Bank warns of the titanic debt threatening the globe with the poorest countries already facing hardship beyond anything previously experienced in trying to approach paying off debts they owe to richer nations which often got rich by stealing their national wealth through colonialist oppression. The bank warns against global collapse unless the world does something about the fact that the richest 2 thousand people own more wealth than four and a half billion humans combined.

These are not among the issues brought before the American public this election season when Trump’s personal tax figures and sex life take precedence over the fact that his open adoration of Israel and Netanyahu exceeds that of the entire American congress which all but publicly buried its face in his crotch when he spoke to the assembled recipients of Israeli lobby wealth for their political campaigns. Trump openly says he doesn’t need the Israeli lobby’s money so his passion is accepted as sincere where as much of congress and past white house occupants gleefully accept the much needed millions to “democratically” treat the last colonial nation in the world as some divine aspect of humanity.

The outcome of the election may not be known for hours, days or weeks after its conclusion due to the conditions brought about by the pandemic alongside other breakdowns in our political economy. Speculations about whether the post office will sell our ballots to Russia or China or Trump’s family will use them to gain more credit at Amazon or that fascism or civil war will take place are beside the point. Feverish fears or realistic panic, the fact is that Wall Street, the Pentagon, Israel and Billionaires will remain in control of the nation and future acceptance of the lie that this represents democracy will not just make things worse, but much worse than ever before. This needs to be the last vote that accepts the lie of national democracy and must lead to the creation of a new national political party to represent the majority of Americans currently having our lives bargained at a corrupt market and equally corrupt political process over which we exercise no control.

Social conditions may become more dreadful in the short term after this hopefully last exercise of fake democracy. Whatever the lesser evil outcome of the ruling class owned and controlled exercise of the present moment, we need immediate action on the part of the people being bled physically, mentally and spiritually for fictional nonsense we are always fed, never more than during this latest outburst of truly fake democracy. We need the real thing and we need it fast. That struggle has already begun and it needs to take on much greater speed after November 3, 2020.

The post Calling this “our Democracy” is like Slaves referring to “our Plantation" first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Resurgence of Socialism in Bolivia

In Bolivia, the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) – a major leftist political force – has returned to power following a thumping victory in the 2020 elections. The MAS presidential candidate Luis Arce obtained 55.09% of the votes, decisively ahead of the neoliberal candidate Carlos Mesa and the right-wing extremist Luis Fernando Camacho who garnered 28.83% and 14% of the votes, respectively. The triumph of MAS in Bolivia is highly significant since it follows hard on the heels of the 2019 US-backed coup which violently overthrew the MAS president Evo Morales and attempted to re-institute neoliberalism through blood and bullets. Headed by the de facto president Jeanine Áñez (a religious bigot), the fascist coup government genuflected to the American empire, joined the conservative Lima Bloc — a group of 12 Latin American nations determined to subvert the Bolivarian Revolution — exited leftist regional forums, kicked out Cuban doctors and re-established ties with Israel. With the re-election of the MAS, it has been demonstrably shown that Bolivians don’t have any liking for the barbaric blueprint of imperialism and socialism still throbs through the nation’s body.

The Socialist Project

There are many reasons to explain Bolivians’ continued support for the MAS. In spite of state aggression aimed at terrorizing citizens, the oppressed masses remained steadfast in their refusal of neoliberalism and organized sustained mobilizations to resist imperialist forces. Behind this courageous anti-imperialism, we can locate a primary motivating factor: MAS’s socialist project. With the help of this socialist project, the MAS radically re-configured a turbo-capitalist economy, allowing poor people to take hold of their own lives and move beyond the existentially crippling effects of necro-political neoliberalism.

Under Morales’ administration, a new constitution was promulgated in 2009 which proclaimed: “We have left the colonial, republican and neo-liberal State in the past.” With this departure from neoliberalism, changes soon took place within the country. In the first eight years of the Morales administration, national government revenue from hydrocarbons increased nearly sevenfold from $731 million to $4.95 billion, a direct corollary of nationalization and state-led economic re-construction. Earlier, corporate interests used to take over 80% of the profits from Bolivia’s natural gas reserves. Morales effectively reversed this trend with a nationalization decree giving Bolivia more than 80% of industry profits in the form of taxes and royalties.

Increased revenues allowed the government to establish a new welfare state with Conditional Cash Transfers such as: Income Dignity that benefitted every retired Bolivian over 60 years;  Juancito Pinto Bonus given to poor families to send their children to school; and Juana Azurduy voucher that provided free medical support to pregnant and poor mothers. The MAS also established a number of public firms: the telecommunication company Entel, Bolivian Aviation (BOA), Productive Development Bank, the Bolivian Customs Deposits (DAB), the cargo airline company Bolivian Air Transport (TAB), television channel named Bolivia TV; and Quipus for information technology. In the 2006-2016 period, these public firms employed 120,793 people.

The new economic regime instituted by the MAS was clearly distinguishable from the previous system of perpetual exploitation. Under the previous economic architecture, the oppressed people of Bolivia were savagely suppressed by the bourgeoisie to boost profits. To take an example, trade as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) doubled from 10% in 1989 to 18% in 1999; foreign direct investment increased from an average of $38 billion per year from 1993-1997 to $74 billion per year between 1998- 2003. Yet, common citizens did not benefit from this neoliberal growth. They protested against this endless enrichment of the few and the utter dehumanization of the masses. Out of these protests, Morales emerged as a political leader, capable of waging a war of attrition against the ossified structures of oppression.

In 2005, the top 10% of the population had 128 times more income than the bottom 10%; by 2012 this difference decreased to 46 times. From 60% in 2006, the poverty rate has fallen below 35% and the extreme poverty rate is 15.2%, down from 37.7% in 2006. From 2005 to 2015, public investment doubled from 7% of GDP to 14%, expanding the public capital stock from 78.8% to 100.5% of GDP during the same period. Between 2005 and 2019, the gross domestic product increased from $9.574 billion to $40.885 billion. Bolivia’s real per capita GDP has grown at two times the rate for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) since 2006. The annual per capita growth across LAC economies has been 1.6% per year since 2006; Bolivia’s real per capita GDP has grown at an average of 3.2%. This growth was accompanied by a reduction in unemployment which fell from 8.1% in 2005 to 4.2% in 2018. Life expectancy increased by nine years. From 2000 to 2019, minimum national wage increased by 153%.

The MAS government undertook significant land reforms which benefitted 800,000 low-income peasants and indigenous people, enshrined women’s inheritance rights and allowed smallholders to control most of the country’s land for the first time since the Spanish conquest. As part of this agrarian revolution, ten million acres were expropriated for redistribution from expiring logging concessions and big landowners who held lands over the limit of 25,000 acres set by the new agrarian law.

In 2013, the MAS government established state-owned banks and implemented the Financial Services Law (FSL 393) which intervened in credit allocation decisions of private banks, instituted lending quotas to a list of “productive sectors” — industrial manufacturing, agriculture, agribusiness, extraction, processing of metals, minerals, and natural gas — and limited profitability by capping interest rates. FSL 393 was a radical measure taken by the socialist administration. It acted as a counter-tendency to the financial liberalization which the country had been experiencing for many years. This unbridled liberalization included the liberalization of all interest rates in 1985, opening of the capital account, and privatization and closure of state owned banks through the 1980s and 1990s, resulting in a highly dollarized and primarily privately owned financial system by the early 2000s.

The FSL 393 led to increased financial stability, de-dollarization, reserve accumulation and increased public ownership of the economy. All this was made possible due to sustained subaltern pressure from below which combined with the legitimacy of the socialist state to initiate a program of incremental reform that decreased the importance of the private sector in the economy, weakened the power of business interests and thus, reduced the importance of disinvestment threats.

The 2019 Coup and Anti-imperialist Resistance

The 2019 coup against Morales was an imperialist effort to transform Bolivia into a neo-colony and bring a halt to the country’s socialist project. In its “2019 Investment Climate Statements: Bolivia”, the US Department of State said, “U.S. companies interested in investing in Bolivia should note that in 2012 Bolivia abrogated the Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) it signed with the U.S. and a number of other countries.”. BIT is a form of international law that creates legally enforceable rights and entitlements for foreign investors. Under the international system of investor protection created by BITs, private investors can sue for damages while citizens of host states have no way to take direct action. Therefore, BITs are legal instruments of capitalist power consolidation. When Morales came to power, he terminated the BITs. This was an initial indication of the socialist orientation of the MAS government which deeply troubled the US.

In another acknowledgement of MAS’ socialist outlook, the 2019 Investment Climate statement notes that “Environmental regulations can slow projects due to the constitutional requirement of “prior consultation” for any projects that could affect local and indigenous communities. This has affected projects related to the exploitation of natural resources, both renewable and nonrenewable, as well as public works projects.” Natural resources occupy a key position for American companies. According to the Country Commercial Guide (CCG) prepared by the US embassy in Bolivia, the following is one of the top five reasons to consider Bolivia for foreign investment: “Bolivia is rich in non-renewable natural resources. Mining and hydrocarbons are some of Bolivia’s largest export sectors, and there is still room to grow.  In addition to presently mined minerals such as zinc, silver, lead, and tin, Bolivia boasts significant lithium deposits, which remain mostly unexploited.” From this, it is evident that American businesses were salivating at the prospect of accessing lucrative natural resources and the only barrier to this was socialism.

In order to crack open Bolivia’s economy for the unrestricted entry of American corporations, the US orchestrated a capitalist coup in 2019. The coup was designed to overtly facilitate neoliberalism. The US Department of State’s “2020 Investment Climate Statements: Bolivia”– in an implicit acknowledgment of the neoliberal leanings of the coup government – said: “In November 2019, a transitional government came to power that indicated an interest in taking additional steps to attract more FDI…Bolivia does not currently have an investment promotion agency to facilitate foreign investment.  However, the transitional government is working to create such an agency in order to attract investment”.

Apart from subordinating itself to the economic exigencies of capitalism, the coup government simultaneously tried to target public companies. For instance, the new chief executive officer (CEO) of the public sector airline BOA appointed by the Áñez government declared that the airline was running on severe deficit, with no data to substantiate that claim. The new BOA manager was the chief financial officer of Amazonas, a private airline that is BOA’s main rival. Not content with destroying state companies, the new government reduced public investment by 32.5%.

Regardless of the coup government’s efforts to re-institute neoliberalism, US oligarchy’s strategy of imperialistically prying open Bolivia did not go as planned. The proletariat presented a heroic resistance to imperialist violence and continuously strategized to finally defeat it. This was bound to happen. The principal trade union federation in the country, the Bolivian Workers’ Centre (COB), actively supports Morales’s policies and economic reforms, particularly the nationalization of the hydrocarbon industry and the new labor codes and reforms implemented throughout his tenure. The coca growers’ union, known as the Tropic Federation, in the region of Chapare in the north of Cochabamba, is most loyal of all the peasants’ organizations. The Union Federation of Bolivian Mineworkers (FSTMB), an affiliate of the COB and the main union covering workers in the state-owned Bolivian Mining Corporation (COMIBOL), also supports Morales. Thinking that these workers will remain passive in the face of imperialist-fascist incursion is totally naïve.

The victory of the MAS in the 2020 elections has proven that the politico-economic fabric woven by socialist-indigenous movements can’t be torn apart by profit-seeking imperialist forces. While plutocratic putschists tried their best to fracture Bolivia’s internal social structures, the masses did not surrender to imperialism and continued to fearlessly confront the onslaught of neoliberal capitalism. In the current conjuncture, solidarity needs to be shown with the Bolivian people who have once again shown that an independent path, free from the shackles of imperialism, is possible.

The post Resurgence of Socialism in Bolivia first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ending Regime Change in Bolivia and the World

Bolivian woman votes in October 18 election

Less than a year after the United States and the U.S.-backed Organization of American States (OAS) supported a violent military coup to overthrow the government of Bolivia, the Bolivian people have reelected the Movement for Socialism (MAS) and restored it to power.

In the long history of U.S.-backed “regime changes” in countries around the world, rarely have a people and a country so firmly and democratically repudiated U.S. efforts to dictate how they will be governed. Post-coup interim president Jeanine Añez has reportedly requested 350 U.S. visas for herself and others who may face prosecution in Bolivia for their roles in the coup.

The narrative of a rigged election in 2019 that the U.S. and the OAS peddled to support the coup in Bolivia has been thoroughly debunked. MAS’s support is mainly from indigenous Bolivians in the countryside, so it takes longer for their ballots to be collected and counted than those of the better-off city dwellers who support MAS’s right-wing, neoliberal opponents.

As the votes come in from rural areas, there is a swing to MAS in the vote count. By pretending that this predictable and normal pattern in Bolivia’s election results was evidence of election fraud in 2019, the OAS bears responsibility for unleashing a wave of violence against indigenous MAS supporters that, in the end, has only delegitimized the OAS itself.

It is instructive that the failed U.S.-backed coup in Bolivia has led to a more democratic outcome than U.S. regime change operations that succeeded in removing a government from power. Domestic debates over U.S. foreign policy routinely presume that the U.S. has the right, or even an obligation, to deploy an arsenal of military, economic and political weapons to force political change in countries that resist its imperial dictates.

In practice, this means either full-scale war (as in Iraq and Afghanistan), a coup d’etat (as in Haiti in 2004, Honduras in 2009 and Ukraine in 2014), covert and proxy wars (as in Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen) or punitive economic sanctions (as against Cuba, Iran and Venezuela) — all of which violate the sovereignty of the targeted countries and are therefore illegal under international law.

No matter which instrument of regime change the U.S. has deployed, these U.S. interventions have not made life better for the people of any of those countries, nor countless others in the past. William Blum’s brilliant 1995 book, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, catalogues 55 U.S. regime change operations in 50 years between 1945 and 1995. As Blum’s detailed accounts make clear, most of these operations involved U.S. efforts to remove popularly elected governments from power, as in Bolivia, and often replaced them with U.S.-backed dictatorships: like the Shah of Iran; Mobutu in the Congo; Suharto in Indonesia; and General Pinochet in Chile.

Even when the targeted government is a violent, repressive one, U.S. intervention usually leads to even greater violence. Nineteen years after removing the Taliban government in Afghanistan, the United States has dropped 80,000 bombs and missiles on Afghan fighters and civilians, conducted tens of thousands of “kill or capture” night raids, and the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Afghans.

In December 2019, the Washington Post published a trove of Pentagon documents revealing that none of this violence is based on a real strategy to bring peace or stability to Afghanistan — it’s all just a brutal kind of “muddling along,” as U.S. General McChrystal put it. Now the U.S.-backed Afghan government is finally in peace talks with the Taliban on a political power-sharing plan to bring an end to this “endless” war, because only a political solution can provide Afghanistan and its people with the viable, peaceful future that decades of war have denied them.

In Libya, it has been nine years since the U.S. and its NATO and Arab monarchist allies launched a proxy war backed by a covert invasion and NATO bombing campaign that led to the horrific sodomy and assassination of Libya’s long time anti-colonial leader, Muammar Gaddafi. That plunged Libya into chaos and civil war between the various proxy forces that the U.S. and its allies armed, trained and worked with to overthrow Gaddafi.

A parliamentary inquiry in the U.K. found that, “a limited intervention to protect civilians drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change by military means,” which led to “political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of Isil [Islamic State] in north Africa.”

The various Libyan warring factions are now engaged in peace talks aimed at a permanent ceasefire and, according to the UN envoy “holding national elections in the shortest possible timeframe to restore Libya’s sovereignty”—the very sovereignty that the NATO intervention destroyed.

Senator Bernie Sanders’ foreign policy adviser Matthew Duss has called for the next U.S. administration to conduct a comprehensive review of the post-9/11 “War on Terror,” so that we can finally turn the page on this bloody chapter in our history.

Duss wants an independent commission to judge these two decades of war based on “the standards of international humanitarian law that the United States helped to establish after World War II,” which are spelled out in the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions. He hopes that this review will “stimulate vigorous public debate about the conditions and legal authorities under which the United States uses military violence.”

Such a review is overdue and badly needed, but it must confront the reality that, from its very beginning, the “War on Terror” was designed to provide cover for a massive escalation of U.S. “regime change” operations against a diverse range of countries, most of which were governed by secular governments that had nothing to do with the rise of Al Qaeda or the crimes of September 11th.

Notes taken by senior policy official Stephen Cambone from a meeting in the still damaged and smoking Pentagon on the afternoon of September 11, 2001 summarized Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s orders to get “…best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time – not only UBL [Osama Bin Laden]… Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

At the cost of horrific military violence and mass casualties, the resulting global reign of terror has installed quasi-governments in countries around the world that have proved more corrupt, less legitimate and less able to protect their territory and their people than the governments that U.S. actions removed. Instead of consolidating and expanding U.S. imperial power as intended, these illegal and destructive uses of military, diplomatic and financial coercion have had the opposite effect, leaving the U.S. ever more isolated and impotent in an evolving multipolar world.

Today, the U.S., China and the European Union are roughly equal in the size of their economies and international trade, but even their combined activity accounts for less than half of global economic activity and external trade. No single imperial power economically dominates today’s world as overconfident American leaders hoped to do at the end of the Cold War, nor is it divided by a binary struggle between rival empires as during the Cold War. This is the multipolar world we are already living in, not one that may emerge at some point in the future.

This multipolar world has been moving forward, forging new agreements on our most critical common problems, from nuclear and conventional weapons to the climate crisis to the rights of women and children. The United States’ systematic violations of international law and rejection of multilateral treaties have made it an outlier and a problem, certainly not a leader, as American politicians claim.

Joe Biden talks about restoring American international leadership if he is elected, but that will be easier said than done. The American empire rose to international leadership by harnessing its economic and military power to a rules-based international order in the first half of the 20th century, culminating in the post-World War II rules of international law. But the United States has gradually deteriorated through the Cold War and post-Cold War triumphalism to a flailing, decadent empire that now threatens the world with a doctrine of “might makes right” and “my way or the highway.”

When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, much of the world still saw Bush, Cheney and the “War on Terror” as exceptional, rather than a new normal in American policy. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize based on a few speeches and the world’s desperate hopes for a “peace president.” But eight years of Obama, Biden, Terror Tuesdays and Kill Lists followed by four years of Trump, Pence, children in cages and the New Cold War with China have confirmed the world’s worst fears that the dark side of American imperialism seen under Bush and Cheney was no aberration.

Amid America’s botched regime changes and lost wars, the most concrete evidence of its seemingly unshakeable commitment to aggression and militarism is that the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex is still outspending the ten next largest military powers in the world combined, clearly out of all proportion to America’s legitimate defense needs.

So the concrete things we must do if we want peace are to stop bombing and sanctioning our neighbors and trying to overthrow their governments; to withdraw most American troops and close military bases around the world; and to reduce our armed forces and our military budget to what we really need to defend our country, not to wage illegal wars of aggression half-way round the world.

For the sake of people around the world who are building mass movements to overthrow repressive regimes and struggling to construct new models of governing that are not replications of failed neoliberal regimes, we must stop our government — no matter who is in the White House — from trying to impose its will.

Bolivia’s triumph over U.S.-backed regime change is an affirmation of the emerging people-power of our new multipolar world, and the struggle to move the U.S. to a post-imperial future is in the interest of the American people as well. As the late Venezuela leader Hugo Chavez once told a visiting U.S. delegation, “If we work together with oppressed people inside the United States to overcome the empire, we will not only be liberating ourselves, but also the people of Martin Luther King.”

The post Ending Regime Change in Bolivia and the World first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What Can We Learn from Cuba? Medicare-for-All Is a Beginning, Not the End Point

As a coup de grâce to the Bernie Sanders campaign Joe Biden declared that he would veto Medicare-for-All.  This could drive a dedicated health care advocate to relentlessly pursue Med-4-All as a final goal.  However, it is not the final goal. It should be the first step in a complete transformation of medicine which includes combining community medicine with natural medicine and health-care-for-the-world.

Contrasting Cuban changes in medicine during the last 60 years with the US non-system of medical care gives a clear picture of why changes must be all-encompassing.  The concept of Medicare-for-All is deeply intertwined with attacks on Cuba’s global medical “missions” and the opposite responses to Covid-19 in the two countries.

Going Forward or Going Backward?

Immediately after the 1959 revolution Cubans began the task of spreading medical care to those without it.  This included a flurry of building medical clinics and sending doctors to poor parts of cities and to rural areas, both of which were predominantly black.

As the revolution spread medicine from cities to the country, it realized the need to expand medical care across the world.  This included both sending medical staff overseas and bringing others to Cuba for treatment.  Cuba spent 30 years redesigning its health care system, which resulted in the most comprehensive community-based medicine in the world.

Throughout the expansion of health care, both inside the country and internationally, Cuban doctors used “allopathic” medicine (based largely on drugging and cutting, which is the focus of US medical schools).  But they simultaneously incorporated traditional healing and preventive medicine as well as respecting practices of other cultures.

Today, the most critical parts of the Cuban health care system include (1) everyone receives health care as a human right, (2) all parts are fully integrated into a single whole which can quickly respond to crises, (3) everyone in the country has input into the system so that it enjoys their collective experiences and (4) health care is global.

In contrast, the call for Medicare-for-All by the left in Democratic Party is a demand for Allopathy-for-US-Citizens.  It would extend corporate-driven health care, but with no fundamental change towards holistic and community medicine.  Though a necessary beginning, it is a conservative demand which does not recognize that a failure to go forward will inevitably result in market forces pushing health care backward.

There is already a right-wing effort to destroy Medicare and Medicaid in any form and leave people to only receive medical treatment they can pay for.  It is part of the same movement to destroy the US Post Office and eliminate Social Security.  It is funded by the same sources trying to get rid of public education except for a few schools that will prepare the poor to go to prison or be unemployed.  These are neoliberals who believe that Black-Lives-Do-Not-Really-Matter.  They hate all the gains won during the last century-and-a-half and want to overturn any form of environmental protection, any workers’ rights, the eight-hour work day, child labor laws, and civil rights, including voting rights.

Destroying Health Care Advances of the Cuban Revolution

What does the Cuban health care have to do with Medicare-for-All in the US?  Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate and longer life expectancy than the US while spending less than 10% per person annually on health care.  It has provided medical education to so many from other countries that in 1999 it opened the Latin American School of Medicine to bring students from impoverished countries to study and become doctors.  By 2020 it had trained over 30,000 doctors.  It had also trained huge numbers of other health professionals from beyond its shores.

Even before Cuba brought in students, it sent its own professionals on “missions” to help those in other countries.  Over the past six decades more than 400,000 Cuban medical professionals have worked in 164 countries and improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

The US response to this incredible international medical revolution documents that it is not satisfied to stop medical care from improving but has an irresistable urge to reverse gains across the globe.  The US government glommed onto complaints from physicians in multipe countries who whined because Cuban doctors would go to jungles and other dangerous areas where the rich urban doctors refused to venture.  Of course, the US had its own reasons to despise Cuban medical assistance.

Cuba has long done humanitarian work in education as well as medicine which puts its northerm behemoth to shame.  Its actions expose that health care can be done vastly cheaper with better outcomes than corportate medicine, which traumatizes financiers of the sickness industry.

Republicans and Democrats are firmly united with corporate media in hiding Cuban medical accomplishments from the US population.  They defnitely do not want other poor countries to replicate Cuba’s system.  Horrifed at the prospect that Cuban health care would shine as an example, the US went to work to undermine and destroy Cuban medical internationalism in any way it could.

In August 2006 the George W. Bush administration began the “Cuban Medical Professional Parole” program to encourage Cuban medical staff on international missions to desert and move to the US, with no questions asked. Only 2-3% did so; but their departure left those poor countries with less care.

This is in line with any corporate goals to destroy local health care and replace it with profit-based health care across the globe.  Driven by the same market factors that compel extraction, transportation and food production industries to go international, the US sickness industry likely feels the urge to create and control a global market of “health care providers.”  One of its main obstacles will be community health systems, which actually work much better for poor people.

As the knowledge of the success of Cuba’s medical information spread, its detractors flew into a frenzy and clutched onto wild hallucinations.  As accurately explained by Vijay Prashad, they fantasized that Cuba was engaging in “human trafficking” by forcing its doctors to work internationally.  The accusation is blatantly absurd since Cuban doctors always have the choice of whether to broaden their medical knowledge by going abroad and treating diseases that have been eradicated in Cuba or to stay at home.

It is true that its doctors have incredibly low wages (as do all working people in Cuba) due to the destructive effects of the US embargo.  In one of the great ironies of propaganda machines, the US seeks to criminalize Cuba in the eyes of the world by screeching that medical wages are low while itself being the cause of meager pay.

Results of this attacking Cuba during Covid-19 have been murderous.  After Lenín Moreno became president of Ecuador in 2017 he abruptly veered from what he promised and ordered Cuban doctors to leave.  At the same time Venezuela and Cuba had a total of 27 Covid-19 deaths, Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, had an estimated death toll of 7,600.  Similarly, when the neoliberal Jair Bolsonaro took power in Brazil in 2019, he threw out Cuban doctors.  This left the country with rising infant mortality and so unprepared for Covid that even inviting them back was unable to undo the damage.  Following the 2019 anti-democratic coup in Bolivia, the ultra right-wing Jeanine Áñez had herself anointed as president and expelled Cuban doctors, which devastated that country’s health care system.  Although Bolivia is a physically isolated country with a population of only 8.7 million it had 2200 deaths by June 2020.

Who Coped with Covid-19?

The fact that Cuba had gone far, far beyond Medicare-for-All is what allowed it to have such spectacular control over Covid.  Its politicians unified behind the ministry of health which developed a national strategy.  That strategy was in effect before the island’s first victim had succumbed to the disease.  Social distancing, masks and contact tracing were universally accepted.  According to Susana Hurlich, medical students went door-to-door collecting data, distributing homeopathic medication (PrevengHo-Vir), and, most important, finding out what problems people needed help with.

Neighborhood doctors collected data to send to polyclinics and helped make certain that residents’ medical and other needs were met.  Clinic staff met needs that neighborhood doctors could not provide and sent patients they could not care for to hospitals.  Hospital doctors slept at hospitals for 14 day shifts before being quarantined for another 14 days so they would not infect their families or communities.

On July 18, deaths from Covid-19 numbered 140,300 in the US and 87 in Cuba.   Though its population is only 30 times that of Cuba, the US had 1,612 times as many deaths.

As US politicians conspired with corporations to see how much profit could be made from the pandemic, Cuban health care went international.  When northern Italy became the epicenter of Covid-19 cases, one of its hardest hit cities was Crema. On March 26, 2020 Cuba sent 52 doctors and nurses. A smaller and poorer Caribbean nation was one of the few aiding a major European power.

On March 12, 2020 nearly 50 crew members and passengers on the British cruise ship Braemar either had Covid-19 or were showing symptoms as the ship approached the Bahamas, a British Commonwealth nation. During the next five days, the US, the Bahamas, and several other Caribbean countries turned it away.  On March 18, Cuba became the only country to allow the Braemar’s over 1000 crew members and passengers to dock.

The incidents of Crema and the Braemar were hardly without precedent.  They resulted from 60 years of medical internationalism by Cuba.  Just as Cuba’s actions during Covid-19 reflected its development, so the horrible expansion of the disease in the US, Brazil and India showed the lack of concern under reactionary rule.

Capitalism has exterminated hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people in order to consolidate growth and power.  Whether enslaving Africans, or slaughtering native Americans to steal land, or experimenting with nuclear bombs during WWII, or destroying health systems that would prevent mass death during a pandemic, these are merely “costs of doing business” to capitalism.  Driving native peoples off of land is not unique to US in the past, but continues today throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Trump has terribly bungled coping with Covid-19, but the approach of Democrats is not essentially different.  Neither corporate party has any intention of providing Cuban-type care within the US. And they certainly do not even imagine putting protection of the world’s poor from Covid above profit potentials for US corporations.  They never had any intention of telling US public that 72 countries had requested Cuba’s Interferon Alpha 2B for treating Covid-19.  They wanted people to believe that only an American or European country could discover treatment.

Is Thinking Beyond Medicare-for-All Part of the Real World?

Is the idea of a radical health care transformation even worth talking about as right-wingers seem to be on the move across much of the world?  Let’s remember our past.  During the time the reactionary Richard Nixon was president (1969-1974), despite an overwhelming pro-war victory, the following were accomplished under his reign: declaration of an end to the Vietnam War, start of the Food Stamp program, decriminalization of abortion, recognition of China, creation of Environmental Protection Agency, passage of Freedom of Information Act, formal dismantling of FBI’s COINTEL program, creation of Earned Income Tax Credits, formal ban on biological weapons, and passage of the Clean Water Act.

We have never won as many gains since then, even when there was a Democratic House, Senate and president.  The essential difference between then and now was the existence of mass movements.  Perhaps it is the time for today’s movements to ask if a fair and just payment of reparations by the US and western Europe for the pain and suffering they have caused throughout the world should include providing medical care for those billions of people who Cuba cannot afford to help.  Health care is not genuine health care if it fails to be health-care-for-the-world.

Canadian Left rejects Organization of American States

When people say “America” everyone understands they mean one country, the USA. In a similar fashion it is time for all to understand that the Organization of American States (OAS) serves the interests of that country.

In a recent webinar on “Bolivia’s fight to restore democracy and Canada’s role” organized by the Canadian Latin America Alliance and Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, Matthew Green forthrightly criticized Canadian policy in that country and the hemisphere. The NDP MP said “Canada is complicit in the attack on indigeneity in Bolivia” and that “we are an imperialist, extractivist country.” He added that “we ought not be a part of a pseudo-imperialist group like the Lima Group” and criticized “Canada’s involvement in the OAS.”

Green’s statements build on a Jack Harris, the NDP foreign affairs critic, recent comment that the OAS was a “tool of the United States” with “undue influence on other members.” In a Hill Times story titled “NDP, Green MPs raise concern over Canada’s trust in OAS election monitoring in Bolivia“, Paul Manly also criticized the OAS. The Green MP said the Organization is “not a credible, impartial player when it comes to leftist governments in South America. It was established to advance U.S. interests.”

The head of the OAS, Luis Almagro, is promoting extreme pro-Donald Trump positions. Recently, the OAS released a statement condemning protesters in Bolivia calling for elections. The coup government there has repeatedly postponed elections after the country’s first ever indigenous president was ousted partly as a result of a highly politicized OAS criticism of last October’s election. As the Onion recently satirized about Bolivia, the best way to ensure there are no “electoral irregularities” is to avoid elections altogether.

In Nicaragua the OAS has backed those seeking to oust Daniel Ortega’s social democratic government. They’ve repeatedly condemned the Sandinista government, prompting Nicaragua to refuse the OAS entry to the country. At the same time the OAS has largely ignored Nicaragua’s Central American neighbour even though Juan Orlando Hernandez defied the Honduras constitution by running for a second term as president and then brazenly stole the election.

In Haiti Almagro has aggressively championed corrupt, repressive and widely despised President Jovenel Moïse. The Secretary General of the OAS recently stated that Moïse’s mandate expired in February 2022, not February 2021 as most Haitians want and constitutional experts have argued. There is also some evidence to suggest the OAS is setting up to support Moïse’s effort to rig the elections. Recently, Haiti’s entire nine person electoral council resigned in response to Moïse’s pressure and the OAS continues to engage with a process that almost all political actors in Haiti reject.

Haiti’s new foreign minister Claude Joseph (representative of a prime minister appointed extra-constitutionally) recently visited Almagro to discuss Moïse’s mandate and elections. During the trip to Washington Joseph also met with the anti-Venezuela Lima Group ambassadors.

In response Haïti Liberté’s Kim Ives noted, “what could be more ironic and ludicrous than Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse accusing Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro of being ‘illegitimate and dictatorial’ while demanding that he immediately ‘hold free, fair, and transparent general elections’? But that is exactly the position of the Lima Group, a collection of 15 Latin American states and Canada, which Haiti joined in January 2020.”

Almagro is an extremist on Venezuela. Three years ago the former Uruguayan Foreign Minister’s actions as head of the OAS prompted Almagro’s past boss, former Uruguayan president José Mujica, to condemn his bias against the Venezuelan government. In 2017 Almagro appointed long-time critic of Hugo Chavez and vicious anti-Palestinian Canadian politician, Irwin Cotler, and two others to a panel that launched the process of bringing Venezuela to the International Criminal Court. In a Real News Network interview Max Blumenthal described “the hyperbolic and propagandistic nature” of the press conference where the 400-page Canadian-backed report was released at the OAS in Washington. At the event Cotler ridiculously claimed Venezuela’s “government itself was responsible for the worst ever humanitarian crisis in the region.”

A year later Almagro mused about an invasion of Venezuela. He stated, “as for military intervention to overthrow the Nicolas Maduro regime, I think we should not rule out any option … diplomacy remains the first option but we can’t exclude any action.”

The OAS receives between 44% and 57% of its budget from Washington. While it’s now the organization’s second largest contributor, Canada was not part of the OAS for its first 42 years. For decades Canada’s foreign-policy establishment wavered on joining the US-dominated organization. Not long after signing the free-trade agreement with the US, Brian Mulroney’s government joined the OAS in 1990.

The Matthew Green, Paul Manly and Jack Harris criticism of the OAS deserves a wide airing. All opponents of US bullying in the Americas should push for Canada to withdraw from the Organization of American States.

• In an historic event on Thursday, August 20, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza will discuss “Canadian Interference in Venezuela.” You can register for the webinar here.

Era Of US Domination Of Latin America Coming To An End

Marcha en Venezuela contra las sanciones de Trump (Reuters)

Despite its failings at home, the United States intervenes in countries across multiple continents seeking to control their governments and resources.

This week, we look at the US’ latest efforts in Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Bolivia to undermine their independence and force them to serve the interests of the US government and transnational corporations.

In all three countries, the US has displayed a lack of understanding of the people and their support for their revolutionary processes, and as a result, is failing. As US empire fades, so might the Monroe Doctrine come to an end.

Sandanista- FSLN rally in Nicaragua

Nicaragua: USAID Multi-Year Destabilization Plan Exposed

A US Agency for International Development (USAID) document revealed by reporter William Grigsby describes covert plans to overthrow the democratically-elected Nicaraguan government in the next two years. USAID seeks to hire mercenaries “to take charge of the plan . . . to disrupt public order and carry out other [violent] actions before, during, and/or after the 2021 elections.”

USAID is creating Responsive Assistance In Nicaragua (RAIN), allotting $540,000 in grants to remove the Sandinista government in what it calls “Nicaragua’s transition to democracy.” Daniel Ortega won the 2016 election with 72 percent of the vote in what election observers from the Organization of American States (OAS), a US tool, described as taking “place in a calm, smooth and pacific manner, with no large incidents.”

Brian Willson, who has opposed US efforts to dominate Nicaragua since the 1980s Contra war, concludes the US realizes Ortega will win the 2021 election. In fact, this week, a poll showed support for Ortega’s party, FSLN, at 50% and for the opposition at 10%. One of USAID plans, as they tried in Venezuela in 2018, is for the opposition to boycott the election since they know they will lose, then call it illegitimate and create a political and economic crisis.

The real goal is not a democracy but domination so US transnational corporations can profit from the second poorest country in the hemisphere by putting in place a neoliberal economy to privatize public services, cut social services, and purge all traces of the Sandinistas. USAID also plans to “reestablish” the police and military to enforce their rule. Another goal is to stop Nicaragua from being the “threat of a good example” for its economic growth, reduction of inequality, poverty, illiteracy and crime.

Ben Norton points out in the Grayzone that “the 14-page USAID document employed the word ‘transition’ 102 times” making clear the intent is regime change.  A “sudden transition without elections,” a euphemism for a coup, is one of three possible regime change scenarios.

John Perry writes about “US interference in Nicaragua, going back at least as far as William Walker’s assault on its capital and usurpation of the presidency in 1856.” Since the 1979 Sandinista Revolution, the US has sought to take back control of Nicaragua.

USAID and its National Endowment for Democracy (NED) have been funding the opposition. NED financed 54 projects from 2014-17 to lay the groundwork for a 2018 coup attempt, which  also involved USAID. Wiston Lopez writes the US has provided “more than 31 million dollars between the end of 2017 and May 1, 2020.” When the attempted coup in 2018 failed, the US also put in place illegal unilateral coercive measures, known as economic sanctions, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, to try to weaken the country.

The USAID’s RAIN program outlines the usual regime change steps; e.g., remake the police and military as enforcers of the new neoliberal order, move “quickly to dismantle parallel institutions”; i.e., the Sandinista Front, the Sandinista Youth, and other grassroots institutions, and implement “transitional justice measures”; i.e., the prosecution of current government officials and movement leaders.

A new area of attack is a disinformation campaign against Nicaragua’s handling of COVID-19. The opposition misrepresents the government’s response and puts forward false death statistics in an attempt to create chaos. As Wiston López points out, “Since March the US-directed opposition has focused 95% of their actions on attempting to discredit Nicaragua’s prevention, contention, and Covid treatment. However, this only had some success in the international media and is now backfiring since Nicaragua is the country with one of the lowest mortality rates in the continent.”

The US media fails to report on the success of Nicaragua in combating the virus using a community-based health system. Nicaragua has been building its health system for the last 12 years and took rapid action to prepare for the virus. Nicaragua did not impose a lock down because it is a poor country where 80 percent of people are in the informal economy and 40 percent live in rural areas. People must work in order to eat.

Stephen Sefton puts the failure of the United States so far in context. At its root, the US does not understand the people of Nicaragua, their history of fighting US domination, and their ability to overcome right-wing puppets. It also misunderstands what the Sandinista government is doing to better the lives of the people in every sector of the economy. Sefton concludes, “The US government has failed notoriously to meet the needs of its own people during the current pandemic but can still find money to try and destroy a small country whose success makes US social, economic and environmental policy look arbitrary, negligent and criminal.”

Nicolas Maduro kicks out Donald Trump (Photo by Ben Norton

Venezuela: Bipartisan Failed Regime Change

Ever since the 1998 election of Hugo Chavez, successive US administrations have tried and failed to dominate Venezuela. The bipartisan nature of this policy was on display on August 4, when Elliot Abrams, the notorious coup-monger for multiple presidents, testified in Congress. Not a single Senator criticized the attempt to illegally overthrow a democratically-elected government.

Abrams was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for his inability to remove President Maduro from power. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) was most open about the coup attempt describing it as “a case study in diplomatic malpractice” and claiming Trump botched a winning play in a comedy of errors that strengthened Maduro. After the hearing, Murphy posted a series of Tweets admitting the coup and how it could have been done better.

clip from Murphy’s embarrassing comments was shared widely including by the Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez and Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza. When Vijay Prashad asked Arreaza his reaction, he described the US openly admitting crimes and said the “confessions” of Murphy, Gen. John Kelly, John Bolton, and Elliot Abrams “are priceless evidence for the complaint we raised at the International Criminal Court.”

Elliot Abrams testified that he would continue to work very hard to remove Maduro hopefully by the end of the year.  This echoed a statement by President Trump at SouthCom headquarters in Florida. Sen. Murphy’s comments are consistent with those made by Joe Biden who says he would be more effective at removing Maduro than Trump. Biden described Trump as soft on Maduro because he considered talking to him.

Elliot Abrams announced the US will be starting a media war against Venezuela. The reality is the US has been conducting a media war against Venezuela for more than 20 years.

Venezuela is moving ahead with elections for the National Assembly on December 6, 2020. Unlike 2018, more parties are agreeing to participate including the larger Democratic Action and Justice First parties, as well as a new Communist Party alliance and the hard-right Popular Will party, which was US puppet Juan Guaidó’s former party. There will be 105 political parties contesting for 277 National Assembly seats, 110 more than the current term. Venezuela uses a combination of majority winners and proportional representation. Venezuela also requires half the candidates to be female, and they use electronic voting confirmed by paper ballots with a public citizen audit on Election Day.

Juan Guaidó and others allied with the United States said they would boycott the election. Guaidó cannot risk running because he is likely to be defeated. The US is encouraging a boycott and then will claim the election was not legitimate as it did in the last presidential election. After December, Guaidó will not hold any elected office making his fraudulent claim to the presidency even weaker.

These events come after two major embarrassments for the US in Venezuela. Operation Gideon, an attempt by mercenaries to invade Venezuela was foiled on May 4, leading to their arrests and the arrests of their co-conspirators. The State Department abandoned the mercenaries, and this week two former Green Berets were sentenced to 20 years in prison after admitting their guilt. It was evident that Guaidó was heavily involved in this failure adding to his failed presidential takeover and tainting him beyond repair.

The second defeat was Iran and Venezuela working together to deliver oil and equipment for Venezuelan refineries. Five Iranian oil tankers passed by the largest US armada in the Caribbean since the invasion of Panama. Southcom has been repeatedly sending warships into Venezuelan waters. The solidarity of Iran and Venezuela overcame the naval blockade, undermined US sanctions, and sent a shudder through the US by showing other nations they can defy the United States.

Venezuela has a strong history of struggle against imperialism but the US’ economic war is costing their economy hundreds of billions of dollars and leading to the premature death of Venezuelans. In addition, the United Kingdom is refusing to release more than a billion dollars of Venezuelan gold held in the Bank of England that was to be used for food and medicine. The UK court ruled against Venezuela but they are appealing the decision.

Bolivians protest the postponement of the election

Bolivia: US Dictator Fears Democratic Vote

On November 12 2019, a US-backed coup in Bolivia removed President Evo Morales who had just won re-election. The self-proclaimed President Jeanine Añez, a right-wing Christian, leads a de facto government involved in massacres, persecution and imprisonment of political leaders. It is destroying the social and economic model and achievements of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS Party) led by Morales.

The OAS played a crucial role in the coup with their false analysis of Morales’ re-election. The western media reported the false OAS analysis without criticism. Now, studies by MIT and the Center for Economic and Policy Analysis have shown that Morales clearly won the election and should have remained in power. For months the Washington Post claimed Morales’ re-election was a fraud, but finally, in March, it acknowledged the election was legitimate. Similarly, the New York Times admitted in July that Morales won the election.

Many have called this a lithium coup because the element is plentiful in Bolivia and critical for batteries. This was made evident when Elon Musk, the head of Tesla, said on Twitter “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.” Tesla would benefit from cheap and plentiful lithium for electric car batteries.

The people of Bolivia are struggling to restore democracy. The fraudulent report by the OAS led to a three-week conflict between right-wing Bolivians protesting alleged fraud and pro-government, mostly indigenous, demonstrators defending Morales. The military and police sided with the right-wing coup. The coup government threatened legislators and their families while repressing the people. There were racist attacks against the majority Indigenous population and the Wiphala, the indigenous flag, was burned in the streets. When she took power, Áñez, surrounded by right-wing legislators, held up a large leather bible and declared, “The Bible has returned to the palace.”

The US recognized the coup government, similar to its recognition of the failed coup leader, Juan Guaidó in Venezuela. Añez claimed she’d be transitory until the next election, but at the direction of the US, she is putting in place deep roots and has delayed elections.

The repression has galvanized the MAS party, as well as peasant unions and grassroots organizations who continue their struggle to restore Bolivian democracy. The pressure led to elections being scheduled. Initially, Áñez said she would not run but reversed herself and is now a candidate while she is trying to outlaw the MAS party and its candidates.

Elections were scheduled for May 3, but have been postponed twice allegedly due to the pandemic, but really because this is an ongoing coup.

It is true that the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting Bolivia hard with horror stories about people unable to get medical treatment. Immediately after the coup, the Añez government expelled the Cuban doctors. The coup-government is unable to manage the health system. Corruption is rampant in the purchase of medical equipment. The health ministry has had three ministers during the crisis. The situation is dire with overcrowded hospitals, lack of basic supplies, and corpses in the streets and in their homes with nowhere to be buried.

The coup-government is using the virus to try to delay elections because polls show the MAS candidate, Luis Arce, is far ahead and likely to win in the first round of elections with Áñez coming in a distant third. Áñez has sought to prosecute Arce to keep him from running, so far unsuccessfully.  On July 6, the Attorney General of Bolivia charged Evo Morales with terrorism and financing of terrorism from exile and is seeking preventive detention.

Since mid-July, thousands of Bolivians have been protesting the postponement of elections. They are holding sustained protests throughout the country and blocking many roads. Indigenous and peasant groups, agricultural groups, along with women and unions are joining together calling for elections.  Morales, Arce, and the MAS Party have denounced the delay.

Domination Will Not Reverse Decline

Evo Morales said in a recent interview:

The United States is trying to make Latin America its backyard forever. We know about the hard resistance of the peoples of Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua. The struggle of our peoples is very important. The United States wants to divide us in order to plunder our natural resources. The peoples no longer accept domination and plunder. The United States is in decline, and yet it lashes out.

The US is weakening as a global power and its failures in Latin America are both a symptom of this and are causing further decline. The US’ violations of international law are obvious and are being challenged. But the US is an empire and it will not give up the Monroe Doctrine easily.

As citizens of Empire, we have a particular responsibility to demand the US stop its sanctions and illegal interference in Latin America and elsewhere around the world. In this time of multiple global crises, we must demand the US become a cooperative member of the world community and work peacefully to address the pandemic, recession and climate crisis.

Structures to do this exist to help with this such as the global ceasefire and the Paris Climate agreement. And on the anniversary of the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, we must add the Nuclear Ban Treaty as another effort the US must join.

US: Crimes against Humanity at Home and Abroad

Photo Credit:  Albert Eisenstaedt

This month marks the second year since former President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, announced to the world a campaign promoted by a group of Latin American writers and academics to declare August 9 as International Day of US Crimes against Humanity. Appropriately the day is to remember the second nuclear bomb dropped in 1945 on Nagasaki, Japan that came just three days after the first nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Imagine how depraved and cold-blooded the then Democratic President Truman could be to find that he had incinerated 150,000 people on one day and turned right around and did it again in Nagasaki instantly killing 65,000 more human beings. US historical accounts love to turn truth on its head by saying how many lives those nuclear bombs saved when Japan was already defeated before the bombs were dropped after 67 Japanese cities had been leveled to the ground by relentless US aerial fire bombings.

The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were sacrificed as an exclamation point on a proclamation to the world announcing the arrival of the US as the world’s new pre-eminent super power. It also served as an example that the US would commit any murderous crime of any proportion to maintain that imperial position of dominance and they have demonstrated that to be true time and time again. Even now in decline the US has never apologized for this unnecessary crime because that could convey a sign of weakness and a step back from a policy of nuclear blackmail held over the nations of the world. Obama had the chance to do that in the final year of his presidency when he had nothing to lose in a 2016 visit to Hiroshima. Instead of apologizing to the people of Japan or easing tensions in the world Obama, in eloquent fluffy double talk, said, “Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering. But we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.”

The responsibility for the majority of suffering in the world was then, and continues to be, on an imperialist policy and its inherent neoliberal engine that violently throttles the ability of countries to develop in a way that would bring health and prosperity for the benefit of their majorities. In the end it is an unsustainable system that only benefits a sliver of privileged society.

The US crimes against humanity did not begin or end with the dropping of the nuclear bombs on Japan. As militant civil rights leader Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown) pointed out years ago, “Violence is as American as cherry pie.” Since its inception the US has been ingrained with a motor force of violent oppression against everyone and every country that stood in the way of its expansion for control of resources and its entitlement to limitless accumulation of vast wealth for a few.

The original thirteen colonies that rebelled against England were not motivated solely by being taxed without representation but more for the restrictions that King George had placed on the unbridled greed of the white settlers to expand and steal the lands of the indigenous nations and communities and to establish a system of slavery which was the main source of capitalist accumulation especially for the southern colonies. At the time of the revolution close to 20% of the population consisted of Black slaves.  Slavery actually ran contrary to British Common Law so the only way the emerging class of landowners in the colonies could flourish was to secede from the British Empire. In doing so it established a pivotal component of the original DNA of the United States; structural racism as a means to justify any level of discrimination and oppression with a deeply embedded belief in the inferiority of any race not white and Christian. The cries of Black Lives Matter in the streets of all the major cities and towns of the US today are a resounding echo of resistance that comes from the plantations and the slave ships that came from Africa.

The genocide of indigenous people in the US was its initial crime wave against humanity as it expanded westward destined by God to exercise their Manifest Destiny. The early history of this country is littered with hundreds of massacres of the original caretakers of the land from the Atlantic to the Pacific. And that crime continues to this day with Native Americans suffering from the highest infection rates of Covid-19 in the country as a direct result of government neglect and broken treaties that keep the reservations in grinding poverty including in many areas where there is not even running water.

On July 21 Congress passed a $740 billion military appropriations bill, the biggest ever, and $2 billion more than last year. The United States spends more on national defense than the next 11 largest militaries combined.  A well intended but feeble attempt by sections of the Democratic Party to cut 10% of the budget to go to health and human services failed because ultimately funding the 800 US military installations that occupy territory in more than 70 countries around the world takes precedence over something so basic and human as subsidized food programs. Meanwhile approximately 20% of the families in this country are struggling to obtain nutritious food every day just as one example of the growing social and health needs.

Wars and occupations are expensive and that money goes right down the drain. It does not recycle through the economy; rather it is equipment and operations meant to destroy and terrorize, and the only part of it that is reused is the militarization of police forces in the US who are geared out in advanced equipment for the wars at home not even normally seen in theaters of war abroad.

When Obama took over from Bush junior he vowed to end the war in Afghanistan and instead left office with the unique distinction of having had a war going every day of his 8 years in office. He launched airstrikes or military raids in at least seven countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan and Trump came in and did not miss a beat and has carried the war of death, destruction and destabilization of Afghanistan into its twentieth year. The Pentagon knows that the days of outright winning a war are over and relies now on hybrid wars that are perhaps even more criminal. It is now wars of attrition with proxy and contract armies, aerial bombardment, sabotage of infrastructure that turns into endless wars, the intent of which is to make sure that a country is imbalanced, exhausted and does not become independent or develop and use its resources for the benefit of its own people.

This, of course, is not the only type of criminal warfare in the Empire’s arsenal. Economic sanctions are just as much a crime against humanity as military attacks. No one should ever forget the 10 years of the US orchestrated UN sanctions against Iraq in the 1990’s that were responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children.  Primarily through executive order Trump has put some sort of sanctions on around one third of the countries of the world ranging in severity starting with the 60 year old unilateral blockade of Cuba for the crime of insisting on its sovereignty just 90 miles away, to the sanctioning of medicines and food to Venezuela causing the deaths of 40,000 people, the outright stealing of billions of dollars of their assets out of banks, and organizing coup plots against the democratically elected President, Nicolas Maduro.

Now the chickens have come to roost with Trump sending shadowy military units of federal agents into cities like Portland, Seattle and other cities like it was a military invasion of some poor country, barging in uninvited not to bring order and peace but to brutalize, escalate and provoke people in the streets who for months now have been demanding real justice and equality. The combination of the failure of the Trump Administration to confront the pandemic with any sort of will or a national science based plan, the existing economic crisis with its glaring separation of wealth and the endless murdering of people of color as normal police policy has exposed the system like never before. The growing consciousness of a majority of the US population that now seem to be getting that there has to be fundamental change will be the catalyst for real change to happen. It will not come from a government that does not reflect their interests but only through a unity of struggle will we be pointed in a direction that will push US crimes against humanity, at home and abroad, to become a thing of the past.

Bolivian Coup Government Calls for another Canada-backed Foreign Intervention in its Presidential Elections

On July 15, Luis Fernando Camacho, leader of the violent coup against Bolivian president Evo Morales and current candidate for the Bolivian presidency, issued a desperate appeal to the Organization of American States.

According to a poll done by Centro Estratégico Latinoamericano de Geopolítica, which was released on July 7, Camacho is polling at nine per cent. Meanwhile MAS (Movement for Socialism) candidate Luis Arce, Bolivia’s finance minister from 2006 until the coup, is polling at 42 per cent. To surpass Arce’s lead in the polls, Carlos Mesa, the unelected coup president Jeanine Anez, and Camacho would have to consolidate their votes, while two would need to drop out of the race.

In the appeal, Camacho, who has direct connections to the Christo-fascist paramilitary group Unión Juvenil Cruceñista, argued that “we [Bolivia] must not allow the elections to become an act of resurrection” for MAS. This is an open call for the OAS to launch a second coup if Arce wins the presidential election, and violate the sovereignty of Bolivia yet again.

In response to this news, Evo Morales spoke out on Twitter:

Asking the OAS to rule on the suspension of the elections in Bolivia is a new blow against democracy, it is a form of intervention against the sovereignty of the State and the dignity of the people; and furthermore it is being asked by those responsible for the tragic events of 2019

The Bolivian people are not giving up on democracy without a fight. Today, the main Bolivian workers federation, Central Obrera Boliviana (COB) demanded “adhesion to the September 6th election date as adopted by the TSE [Election authority].”

How Canada, the US, and OAS allied to overthrow Morales

On Nov. 29, 2017, Indigenous socialist president Evo Morales won a legal challenge to modify the Bolivian constitution, to allow Morales to run for a fourth term as the Bolivian president.

Two years later, on Oct. 25, 2019, the winner of Bolivia’s presidential election was announced. Evo Morales won 47 per cent of the vote, while the main US-backed candidate, Carlos Mesa, won 36 per cent of the vote. Morales narrowly cleared the 10-point margin of victory required to avoid a second-round runoff election, and it seemed as if Morales was set to serve his fourth term in office.

However, the OAS would have a key role in ensuring this did not happen. The OAS, described as the “U.S Ministry of the Colonies” by former Cuban president Fidel Castro, is supposed to “represent the 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere in defence of peace, equality and national sovereignty.” However, the organization has a long history of openly backing the United States’ imperialist agenda.

In particular, during the US-led 2019 coup attempt against Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro, false claims of election fraud were utilised to try to push the “US puppet” Juan Guaido into power. The (leader), Luis Almagro praised the protests repeatedly, and allowed Canada to set up the Lima Group, an alliance of countries wishing to overthrow the Venezuelan government, without any punishment.

The OAS electoral mission to Bolivia soon claimed that they had found evidence of election fraud in Morales’ victory. Based on the claims of the electoral mission, Canada called for a run-off election to occur. On Oct. 31, the OAS began an audit of the Bolivian election.

The Canadian and United States government ignored a Nov. 8 report from the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, a US-based think tank, who did a statistical analysis of Bolivia’s publicly available voting data which found no evidence of irregularities or fraud.

Meanwhile, Canada refused to condemn the vicious attacks committed by opposition forces against Morales supporters and leftist politicians, led by Luis Camacho.

On Nov. 10, the Bolivian election audit report was released by the OAS, in which they claimed that:

“In the four factors reviewed (technology, chain of custody, integrity of the tally sheets, and statistical projections), irregularities were detected, ranging from very serious to indicative of something wrong.”

The audit team “[could not] validate the results of this election and therefore recommends another electoral process.” They argued that “Any future process should be overseen by new electoral authorities to ensure the conduct of credible elections.”

On the very day, Canada, declared its support for the electoral audit, stating that “It is clear that the will of the Bolivian people and the democratic process were not respected.” A day later, Morales resigned the presidency after pressure was mounted by military chief, Gen. Williams Kaliman, calling for him to immediately quit and permit the “restoration of peace and stability.”

In a press release, Morales said:

I decided to resign from my position so that Carlos Mesa and Luis Camacho stop abusing and harming thousands of brothers … I have the obligation to seek peace and it hurts a lot that we face Bolivians, for this reason, so I will send my letter of resignation to the Plurinational Assembly of Bolivia.

Under severe pressure, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, the president of the Senate, Adriana Salvatierra of the MAS party, and the president of the Chamber of Deputies all resigned. As a result, the line of succession to the Bolivian presidency was broken.

On Nov. 12, a Bolivian senator, Jeanine Áñez, declared herself the interim president of Bolivia in Congress, vowing to promptly hold new elections. Aljazeera reported that “this was done despite a lack of a quorum to appoint her in a legislative session that was boycotted by legislators from former President Evo Morales‘ left-wing party.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo applauded the interim president in a statement on Nov. 13, saying that the U.S. looks forward to working with the OAS to stage “free and fair elections” by the end of 2019.

Two days later, Canada announced its support for Áñez, and laughably called for a “democratic elections as soon as possible”.

Bolivia in shambles without Morales, as elections are delayed until September 2020

In January 2020, a now-deleted racist tweet from “interim president” Áñez was caught, in which she reportedly wrote: “I want a Bolivia free of satanic indigenous rituals. The city is not for the indigenous. They should go to the mountains or plains.” Áñez also called Morales a “poor Indian” in another tweet.

Canadian mining companies have swiftly exploited the coup government’s pro-business stance to resume lithium mining projects, after Morales nationalized South American Silver Corp. lithium mining operation in 2012.

A first-of-its kind deal was struck that month between Bolivia’s state mining company Comibol and Vancouver-based explorer New Pacific Metals, which allowed the company to begin mining for lithium and showed that “Bolivia is open to foreign investment,” according to NPM’s President, Gordon Neal.

Nadia Cruz, Bolivia’s ombudsman, said that charges of “sedition” and “terrorism” are being brought for simply disagreeing with or questioning the Áñez administration.

Michael Shifter, the president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue said, “There is unwillingness on the level of the Trump administration to hold Áñez to account, so she has a lot of room to do what she wants, including what seems to be the carrying out of vendettas.” Journalists have been arrested and intimidated, while Indigenous activists have been severely repressed.

The promise of quick elections proved to be a lie, two months after the coup, that the Bolivian Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which was filled with Anez allies, and purged of former officials, determined the presidential election would occur on May 3. However, the Bolivian electoral court used the COVID-19 pandemic as cover to delay the elections until September 6. Now that Luis Camacho is urging the OAS to interfere in Bolivia’s elections yet again, the stage may be set for a second coup against a Movement for Socialism party’s presidential candidate within the last year.

Even the narrative of flawed elections has fallen apart, as the New York Times and others have reported that the there was no election fraud, in the 2019 election that delivered Morales his fourth term as Bolivia’s president.

Just as in the US-backed coup against Evo Morales and the 2004 US-led coup against Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Canada is almost certain to play a key role in the destruction of Bolivian democracy, staying true to its imperialist foreign policy.