Category Archives: Haiti

Shame on NDP for supporting imperialism in Haiti

Which is the Canadian political party most likely to stand up to the world’s rich and powerful? Which is willing to help the poorest of the poor gain a semblance of dignity and respect? Which can proudly proclaim, we stand for what is right, not just what is easy and expedient?

Unfortunately, the answer is not the Conservatives, Liberals or the NDP.

When it comes to Canada’s most flagrantly racist and colonial alliance NDP truly does stand for No Difference Party.

In response to a Canadian Foreign Policy Institute election questionnaire asking, “Does your party support ‘greater’, ‘same’, ‘less’ or ‘no’ focus on Haiti Core Group”? The NDP answered “same”. It’s a remarkable endorsement of imperialism, racism and Canadian policy in Haiti.

The Core Group is a coalition of foreign representatives (US, Canada, France, Spain, Germany, Brazil, UN and OAS) that periodically releases collective statements on Haitian affairs. They also meet among themselves and with Haitian officials. Recently, the Core Group propped up an unpopular president and effectively appointed Haiti’s de-facto prime minister. On Thursday Madame Boukman-Justice 4 Haiti tweeted, “international law bars foreign embassies from meddling in the internal affairs of nations. But in Haiti, a group of ambassadors from the US, France, Canada, Spain, Germany, EU, UN, OAS formed a bloc called CORE GROUP that literally controls the country and chooses its leaders.”

The Core Group was officially established by a UN Security Council resolution on April 30, 2004. That resolution replaced the two-month-old Multinational Interim Force — created after US, Canadian and French troops invaded to overthrow the elected government — with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which occupied the country for 15 years. Point 5 of the resolution “supports the establishment of a Core Group chaired by the Special Representative and comprising also his/her Deputies, the Force Commander, representatives of OAS and CARICOM, other regional and sub-regional organizations, international financial institutions and other major stakeholders, in order to facilitate the implementation of MINUSTAH’s mandate, promote interaction with the Haitian authorities as partners, and to enhance the effectiveness of the international community’s response in Haiti.”

While it is specifically cited in the UN resolution, CARICOM (Caribbean Community) hasn’t played much of a role in the Core Group, John Reginald Dumas recently explained. He is a Trinidadian diplomat who was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Haiti at the time of the Core Group’s creation.

Unofficially, the Core Group traces its roots to the 2003 “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti” meeting. In a rare major media look at that private meeting, Radio Canada’s Enquête pointed out that the Core Group was spawned at the “Ottawa initiative on Haiti”. Held at the Meech Lake government resort on January 31 and February 1, 2003, no Haitian officials were invited to a gathering where US, French, OAS and Canadian officials discussed overthrowing Haiti’s elected government, putting the country under UN trusteeship and recreating the Haitian military, which largely transpired a year later.

The 2004 coup and UN occupation that spurred the Core Group has been an unmitigated disaster for most Haitians. An individual who had been living in Florida for 15 years, Gerard Latortue, was installed as prime minister for two years and thousands were killed by the post-coup regime. Besides their role in political repression, UN occupation forces disregard for Haitian life caused a major cholera outbreak, which left more than 10,000 dead and one million ill.

In a sign of the disintegration of Haitian political life under Core Group direction, two months ago the (de facto) president was assassinated in the middle of the night by other elements of the government. While there were thousands of elected officials before the overthrow of the elected government in 2004, today Haiti doesn’t have a single functioning elected body (10 senators mandates have not expired but it’s not enough for a quorum).

By basically any metric, 17 years of Core Group influence in Haiti has been a disaster. But even if that were not the case the NDP should oppose the nakedly imperialistic alliance on principle. Just imagine the Jamaican, Congolese, Guatemalan and Filipino ambassadors releasing a collective statement on who should be prime minister of Canada. How would Canadians feel about that?

Remarking on the racial dimension, Haitians on social media often contrast the skin tone of Core Group ambassadors to most Haitians. Above a video of the German ambassador speaking on behalf of the alliance, last week Madame Boukman noted on Twitter, “The media deceptively covers up Haiti’s reality as a modern colonial project, where a German ambassador can boldly announce the country’s future under the control of a CORE GROUP of white supremacist ambassadors from the US, Canada, France, Brazil, Spain, Germany, EU, UN & OAS.”

While the alliance may not be widely known in Canada, this country’s role in the Core Group has been publicly contested. Solidarity Québec Haiti has long criticized the Core Group. A February public letter signed by numerous prominent individuals, including NDP MPs Leah Gazan and Alexandre Boulerice, criticized the Core Group. I have written about the alliance on multiple occasions.

Every NDP member should be ashamed of their party’s endorsement of Canadian colonialism in Haiti.

Haitian Lives Matter!

The post Shame on NDP for supporting imperialism in Haiti first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Trumpism with a Biden Face: US Haitian Policy

With that orange haired brute of a president supposedly ushered out of the White House with moralising delight, the Biden administration was all keen to turn over a new leaf.  There would be more diplomacy, and still more diplomacy.  There would be a more humanitarian approach to refugees and asylum seekers – forget, he claimed, the Border Wall.  Kindness would come over border officials and guards of the imperium.

Instead, we have had secret diplomacy culminating in the trilateral security pact of AUKUS, one reached unbeknownst to allies in Europe, Asia and the Indo-Pacific.  And we have had a particularly ugly spectacle concerning Haitian refugees, with many being bundled into planes to be sent back to their country, having been taken from the burgeoning border camp around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.

Having been blooded in the mass evacuation exercise from Afghanistan, the Biden administration was now doing the reverse in an exercise of expulsion, promising the deportation of 14,000 Haitians over a period of three weeks.  The jarring contrast was not lost on Nicole Melaku, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans.  “When you contrast the welcome mat that was rolled out for many Afghan refugees who are deserving – of course – of our support and resettlement, with the deplorable treatment of Black migrants on our home soil, it is just an unfathomable contrast.”

At the Rio Grande River, US border agents, crowned by cowboy hats and sporting a thuggish élan, left a remarkable impression of ugliness by their free use of reins in pushing migrants back across the river.  Many members of their quarry had made the journey to obtain food.  “I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki expressed with the sort of wonder that is becoming her hallmark style.  “But I don’t have additional details and certainly I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.”

Political atmosphere and atmospherics is everything, and while Psaki might be puzzled, her colleagues in the Biden administration are happy to maintain a firm line against mischievous incursions.  The US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has been firm.  “If you come to the United States illegally,” he declared on September 20, “you will be returned.  Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life.”

Such conduct did not sit well with the May announcement by Secretary Mayorkas that Haiti had been designated for Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for 18 months.  “Haiti is currently experiencing serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayorkas stated at the time.

Despite that official characterisation, the administration has taken comfort in using Title 42 of the United States code Section 265, a public health statute freely employed by the Trump administration, to prohibit “the introduction of persons or property, in whole or in part, from Mexico and Canada” into the US for fears of pandemic spread.  The liberal use of the statue has received judicial excoriation, with US District Judge Emmet Sullivan claiming it “collectively deprived” asylum seekers and refugees facing “real threats of violence and persecution” of “certain statutory procedures”.

Public health officials have also been disconcerted.  As Dr Ronald Waldman of the human rights group Doctors of the World remarks, “The prohibition for crossing the border has been applied selectively to asylum seekers”.  It certainly has not been applied to students and those doing business.

In a sober assessment of Biden’s report card so far, Natasha Lennard of The Intercept points out that the Trump administration’s use of the law saw half a million people removed. During the short tenure of the Biden administration, the current number stands at 700,000.  Over the course of January, 62,530 migrants were expelled according to the figures of Customs and Border Protection. For the month of April, it was 110,846.

In a resounding judgment of Biden’s policy towards Haitians and Haiti in general, Washington’s envoy to the country, Daniel Foote, has resigned.  His September 22 letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was an effort of extrication from “the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life.”

Foote also took a stab at a long standing practice of US foreign policy: that habitual meddling in the affairs of a country that had “consistently produced catastrophic results”.  The de facto, unelected prime minister Ariel Henry had received yet “another public statement of support as interim leader of Haiti” from the US embassy, among others. They had continued touting “his ‘political agreement’ over another broader, earlier accord shepherded by civil society.”  The now resigned envoy, sniping at this policy of backing “winners”, stated the essential heresy of the imperium: What Haitians needed was “the opportunity to chart their own course, without international puppeteering and favoured candidates, but with genuine support for the cause.”

In response to the resignation, US State Department spokesman Ned Price was a picture of regret and hollow advice. “It is unfortunate that, instead of participating in a solutions-oriented policy process, Special Envoy Foote has both resigned and mischaracterised the circumstances.”

Psaki was icily dismissive.  “Special Envoy Foote had ample opportunity to raise concerns about immigration during his tenure.  He never once did so.” Such bitchiness is a nice summation of the Biden administration so far: policies that continue to furnish us the acceptable face of Trumpism.

The post Trumpism with a Biden Face: US Haitian Policy first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Afghanistan:  a military and an “aid” failure

While recent events have destroyed the credibility of militarists who pushed for the invasion and 20-year-long occupation of Afghanistan, the moral bankruptcy of their supporters in the aid industry has also been stunningly revealed.

A quick Taliban victory over the foreign trained “Afghan army” at least (momentarily) embarrassed Canadian militarists. But what about their camp followers in the NGO universe?

Over the past two decades Ottawa has plowed over $3.6 billion in “aid” into Afghanistan. During this period the central Asian country has been the top recipient of official assistance, receiving about twice the next biggest destination, another victim of Canadian foreign policy, Haiti.

While Afghanistan is undoubtedly deserving of aid, 10 countries have a lower GDP per capita and 20 countries have a lower life expectancy. So why the focus on Afghanistan? Because it was the place where policymakers thought aid was most likely to have positive results? Of course not. The aid was delivered to support the Canadian, US, and NATO military occupation.

Canadian personnel repeatedly linked development work in Afghanistan to the counterinsurgency effort. “It’s a useful counterinsurgency tool,” is how Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Doucette, commander of Canada’s provincial reconstruction team, described the Canadian International Development Agency’s work in Afghanistan. Development assistance, for instance, was sometimes given to communities in exchange for information on combatants. After a roadside bomb hit his convoy in September 2009, Canadian General Jonathan Vance spent 50 minutes berating village elders for not preventing the attack. “If we keep blowing up on the roads,” he told them, “I’m going to stop doing development.”

The CF worked closely with NGOs in Afghanistan. A 2007 parliamentary report explained that some NGOs “work intimately with military support already in the field.” Another government report noted that the “Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) platoon made up of Army Reserve soldiers organizes meetings with local decision-makers and international NGOs to determine whether they need help with security.”

The aid was also a public relations exercise. At politically sensitive moments in the war Canadian officials sought to showcase newly built schools or dams to divert attention from more unsavory sides of military conflict. Alarmed about a growing casualty list and other negative news, in fall 2006, the Prime Minister’s Office directed the military to “push” reconstruction stories on journalists embedded with the military. Through an access to information request the Globe and Mail obtained an email from Major Norbert Cyr saying, “the major concern [at Privy Council Office] is whether we are pushing development issues with embeds.” In an interview with Jane’s Defence Weekly’s Canadian correspondent, a journalist described what this meant on the ground. “We’ve been invited on countless village medical outreach visits, ribbon-cutting ceremonies, and similar events.” The hope was that reporters embedded at the Canadian base in Kandahar would file more stories about development projects and fewer negative subjects.

At a broader level aid was used to reinforce the foreign occupation. The aim was to support the Afghan forces allied with the US-led occupation. Canada’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan led to a drop in aid, and now that US forces have withdrawn, Canadian aid will likely dry up.

Historically, military intervention elicits aid. Call it the ‘intervention-equals-aid’ principle or ‘wherever Canadian or US troops kill, Ottawa provides aid’ principle.

Ottawa delivered $7.25 million to South Korea during the early 1950s Korean War. Tens of millions of dollars in Canadian aid supported US policy in South Vietnam in the 1960s and during the 1990-91 Iraq war Canada provided $75 million in assistance to people in countries affected by the Gulf crisis. Amidst the NATO bombing in 1999-2000 the former Yugoslavia was the top recipient of Canadian assistance. After the 2003 US invasion of Iraq Canada announced a $300 million aid package to that country.

As mentioned above, Haiti has been the second largest recipient of Canadian aid over the past two decades. While an elected, pro-poor government was in place between 2001 and 2004 Canadian aid to Haiti was reduced to a trickle. But after the US, French and Canadian invasion ousted thousands of elected officials in 2004, hundreds of millions of dollars flowed into Haiti. Throughout the 15-year UN occupation, Canadian aid continued to flow.

In the years after invasions by foreign troops, Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti were the top recipients of Canadian “aid”. The thread that connected those three countries was the presence of Canadian or US troops.

Should it even be called aid when it comes along with foreign soldiers? A better description would be the “break it and you pay for it” principle.

Where is the discussion of all this in the NGO world? Canada’s international assistance policy gets a free ride — of course, we’re a force for good — in the mainstream media. But does anyone really believe it’s good for “aid” to be tied to military occupation?

Will those who uncritically promote increased Canadian “aid” discuss its ties to the disaster in Afghanistan? Are any of the NGOs that followed foreign troops to Afghanistan speaking out about their error?

• Yves Engler’s Stand on Guard For Whom?  A People’s History of the Canadian Military is now available.

The post Afghanistan:  a military and an “aid” failure first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Earthquake Devastates Haiti

With “friends” like Canada, Haiti is in deep trouble.

Justin Trudeau’s statement that this country was “standing ready” to assist after a massive earthquake rocked the western part of Haiti Saturday is not reassuring. Over the past two decades Canada has done too much to undermine Haitian sovereignty, democracy and living standards to be considered trustworthy amidst this tragedy.

Canada is a country with immense resources to help with a 7.2 magnitude earthquake and it’s not too far geographically from Haiti. Undoubtedly, the Caribbean nation requires international solidarity to assist with an earthquake that’s killed over 700, injured thousands and left many more homeless. But Canada should definitely not deploy troops to the impoverished Caribbean nation and we must be suspicious of NGOs seeking to fundraise off of the tragedy.

Adding to the need for caution are statements from Washington. The head of USAID, Samantha Power, tweeted that she talked to the head of US Southern Command about how the US Department of Defense could assist Haiti.

In a worse humanitarian situation, a decade ago, Ottawa dispatched soldiers to dominate that country. Immediately after a horrific quake hit Port-au-Prince in 2010 decision makers in Ottawa were more concerned with controlling Haiti than assisting victims. To police Haiti’s traumatized and suffering population, 2,050 Canadian troops were deployed alongside 12,000 US soldiers (8,000 UN soldiers were already there). Though Ottawa rapidly deployed 2,050 troops they ignored calls to dispatch this country’s Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR) Teams, which are trained to “locate trapped persons in collapsed structures.”

According to internal government documents the Canadian Press examined a year after the disaster, officials in Ottawa feared a post-earthquake power vacuum could lead to a “popular uprising.” One briefing note marked “secret” explained: “Political fragility has increased, the risks of a popular uprising, and has fed the rumour that ex-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, currently in exile in South Africa, wants to organize a return to power.” Six years earlier the US, France and Canada ousted the elected president.

Canada and the US’ indifference/contempt towards Haitian sovereignty was also on display in the reconstruction effort. Thirteen days after the quake Canada organized a high profile Ministerial Preparatory Conference on Haiti for major international donors. Two months later Canada co-chaired the New York International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti. At these conferences Haitian officials played a tertiary role in the discussions. Subsequently, the US, France and Canada demanded the Haitian parliament pass an 18-month long state of emergency law that effectively gave up government control over the reconstruction. They held up money to ensure international control of the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti, authorized to spend billions of dollars in reconstruction money.

Most of the money that was distributed went to foreign aid workers who received relatively extravagant salaries/living costs or to expensive contracts gobbled up by Western/Haitian elite owned companies. According to an Associated Press assessment of the aid the US delivered in the two months after the quake, one cent on the dollar went to the Haitian government (thirty-three cents went to the US military). Canadian aid patterns were similar. Author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster Jonathan Katz writes, “Canada disbursed $657 million from the quake to September 2012 ‘for Haiti,’ but only about 2% went to the Haitian government.”

Other investigations found equally startling numbers. Having raised $500 million for Haiti and publicly boasted about its housing efforts, the US Red Cross built only six permanent homes in the country.

Not viewing the René Preval government as fully compliant, the US, France and Canada pushed for elections months after the earthquake. (Six weeks before the quake, according to a cable released by Wikileaks, Canadian and EU officials complained that Préval “emasculated” the country’s right-wing. In response, they proposed to “purchase radio airtime for opposition politicians to plug their candidacies” or they may “cease to be much of a meaningful force in the next government.”) With rubble throughout Port au Prince and hundreds of thousands living in camps, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon demanded Préval hold elections by the end of the year. In May 2010 Cannon said, “the international community wants to see a commitment, a solid, serious commitment to have an election by the end of this year.” (With far fewer logistical hurdles, it took two years to hold elections after the 2004 US/France/Canada coup.)

As a result of various obstacles tied to the earthquake and a devastating cholera outbreak introduced to the country by negligent UN troops in October 2010, hundreds of thousands were unable to vote during the first round of the November 28, 2010, election. After the first round of the presidential election the US and Canada forced Préval party’s candidate out of the runoff in favor of third place candidate, Michel Martelly. A supporter of the 1991 and 2004 coups against Aristide, Martelly was a teenaged member of the Duvalier dictatorship’s Ton Ton Macoutes death squad. As president he stole millions of dollars as part of the massive Petrocaribe corruption scandal and imposed as his successor the repressive and corrupt Jovenel Moïse who was recently assassinated. The assassination of president Moïse reflects the disintegration of Haitian politics after a decade of foreign intervention that has strengthened the most regressive and murderous elements of Haitian society.

After the 2010 earthquake there was an outpouring of empathy and solidarity from ordinary Canadians. But officials in Ottawa saw the disaster as a political crisis to manage and an opportunity to expand their economic and political influence over Haiti.

Let’s not allow that to happen again. Unfortunately, when the prime minister says Canada is “standing ready” it sounds more like a threat than an offer of real assistance.

The post Earthquake Devastates Haiti first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Washington Beats the Drum of Regime Change, but Cuba Responds to Its Own Revolutionary Rhythm

Préfète Duffaut (Haiti), Le Générale Canson, 1950.

In 1963, the Trinidadian writer CLR James released a second edition of his classic 1938 study of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. For the new edition, James wrote an appendix with the suggestive title ‘From Toussaint L’Ouverture to Fidel Castro’. In the opening page of the appendix, he located the twin Revolutions of Haiti (1804) and Cuba (1959) in the context of the West Indian islands: ‘The people who made them, the problems and the attempts to solve them, are peculiarly West Indian, the product of a peculiar origin and a peculiar history’. Thrice James uses the word ‘peculiar’, which emerges from the Latin peculiaris for ‘private property’ (pecu is the Latin word for ‘cattle’, the essence of ancient property).

Property is at the heart of the origin and history of the modern West Indies. By the end of the 17th century, the European conquistadors and colonialists had massacred the inhabitants of the West Indies. On St. Kitts in 1626, English and French colonialists massacred between two and four thousand Caribs – including Chief Tegremond – in the Kalinago genocide, which Jean-Baptiste Du Tertre wrote about in 1654. Having annihilated the island’s native people, the Europeans brought in African men and women who had been captured and enslaved. What unites the West Indian islands is not language and culture, but the wretchedness of slavery, rooted in an oppressive plantation economy. Both Haiti and Cuba are products of this ‘peculiarity’, the one being bold enough to break the shackles in 1804 and the other able to follow a century and a half later.

Osmond Watson (Jamaica), City Life, 1968.

Today, crisis is the hour in the Caribbean.

On 7 July, just outside of Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, gunmen broke into the home of President Jovenel Moïse, assassinated him in cold blood, and then fled. The country – already wracked by social upheaval sparked by the late president’s policies – has now plunged even deeper into crisis. Already, Moïse had forcefully extended his presidential mandate beyond his term as the country struggled with the burdens of being dependent on international agencies, trapped by a century-long economic crisis, and struck hard by the pandemic. Protests had become commonplace across Haiti as the prices of everything skyrocketed and as no effective government came to the aid of a population in despair. But Moïse was not killed because of this proximate crisis. More mysterious forces are at work: US-based Haitian religious leaders, narco-traffickers, and Colombian mercenaries. This is a saga that is best written as a fictional thriller.

Four days after Moïse’s assassination, Cuba experienced a set of protests from people expressing their frustration with shortages of goods and a recent spike of COVID-19 infections. Within hours of receiving the news that the protests had emerged, Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel went to the streets of San Antonio de los Baños, south of Havana, to march with the protestors. Díaz-Canel and his government reminded the eleven million Cubans that the country has suffered greatly from the six-decade-long illegal US blockade, that it is in the grip of Trump’s 243 additional ‘coercive measures’, and that it will fight off the twin problems of COVID-19 and a debt crisis with its characteristic resolve.

Nonetheless, a malicious social media campaign attempted to use these protests as a sign that the government of Díaz-Canel and the Cuban Revolution should be overthrown. It was clarified a few days later that this campaign was run from Miami, Florida, in the United States. From Washington, DC, the drums of regime change sounded loudly. But they have not found find much of an echo in Cuba. Cuba has its own revolutionary rhythms.

Eduardo Abela (Cuba), Los Guajiros (1938).

In 1804, the Haitian Revolution – a rebellion of the plantation proletariat who struck against the agricultural factories that produced sugar and profit – sent up a flare of freedom across the colonised world. A century and a half later, the Cubans fired their own flare.

The response to each of these revolutions from the fossilised magnates of Paris and Washington was the same: suffocate the stirrings of freedom by indemnities and blockades. In 1825, the French demanded through force that the Haitians pay 150 million francs for the loss of property (namely human beings). Alone in the Caribbean, the Haitians felt that they had no choice but to pay up, which they did to France (until 1893) and then to the United States (until 1947). The total bill over the 122 years amounts to $21 billion. When Haiti’s President Jean-Bertrand Aristide tried to recover those billions from France in 2003, he was removed from office by a coup d’état.

After the United States occupied Cuba in 1898, it ran the island like a gangster’s playground. Any attempt by the Cubans to exercise their sovereignty was squashed with terrible force, including invasions by US forces in 1906-1909, 1912, 1917-1922, and 1933. The United States backed General Fulgencio Batista (1940-1944 and 1952-1959) despite all the evidence of his brutality. After all, Batista protected US interests, and US firms owned two-thirds of the country’s sugar industry and almost its entire service sector.

The Cuban Revolution of 1959 stands against this wretched history – a history of slavery and imperial domination. How did the US react? By imposing an economic blockade on the country from 19 October 1960 that lasts to this day, which has targeted everything from access to medical supplies, food, and financing to barring Cuban imports and coercing third-party countries to do the same. It is a vindictive attack against a people who – like the Haitians – are trying to exercise their sovereignty. Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez reported that between April 2019 and December 2020, the government lost $9.1 billion due to the blockade ($436 million per month). ‘At current prices’, he said, ‘the accumulated damages in six decades amount to over $147.8 billion, and against the price of gold, it amounts to over $1.3 trillion’.

None of this information would be available without the presence of media outlets such as Peoples Dispatch, which celebrates its three-year anniversary this week. We send our warmest greetings to the team and hope that you will bookmark their page to visit it several times a day for world news rooted in people’s struggles.

Bernadette Persaud (Guyana), Gentlemen Under the Sky (Gulf War), 1991.

On 17 July, tens of thousands of Cubans took to the streets to defend their Revolution and demand an end to the US blockade. President Díaz-Canel said that the Cuba of ‘love, peace, unity, [and] solidarity’ had asserted itself. In solidarity with this unwavering affirmation, we have launched a call for participation in the exhibition Let Cuba Live. The submission deadline is 24 July for the online exhibition launch on 26 July – the anniversary of the revolutionary movement that brought Cuba to Revolution in 1959 – but we encourage ongoing submissions. We are inviting international artists and militants to participate in this flash exhibition as we continue to amplify the campaign #LetCubaLive to end the blockade.

A few weeks before the most recent attack on Cuba and the assassination in Haiti, the United States armed forces conducted a major military exercise in Guyana called Tradewinds 2021 and another exercise in Panama called Panamax 2021. Under the authority of the United States, a set of European militaries (France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) – each with colonies in the region – joined Brazil and Canada to conduct Tradewinds with seven Caribbean countries (The Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago). In a show of force, the US demanded that Iran cancel the movement of its ships to Venezuela in June ahead of the US-sponsored military exercise.

The United States is eager to turn the Caribbean into its sea, subordinating the sovereignty of the islands. It was curious that Guyana’s Prime Minister Mark Phillips said that these US-led war games strengthen the ‘Caribbean regional security system’. What they do, as our recent dossier on US and French military bases in Africa shows, is to subordinate the Caribbean states to US interests. The US is using its increased military presence in Colombia and Guyana to increase pressure on Venezuela.

Elsa Gramcko (Venezuela), El ojo de la cerradura (‘The Keyhole’), 1964.

Sovereign regionalism is not alien to the Caribbean, which has made four attempts to build a platform: the West Indian Federation (1958-1962), Caribbean Free Trade Association (1965-1973), Caribbean Community (1973-1989), and CARICOM (1989 to the present). What began as an anti-imperialist union has now devolved into a trade association that attempts to better integrate the region into world trade. The politics of the Caribbean are increasingly being drawn into orbit of the US. In 2010, the US created the Caribbean Basic Security Initiative, whose agenda is shaped by Washington.

In 2011, our old friend Shridath Ramphal, Guyana’s foreign minister from 1972 to 1975, repeated the words of the great Grenadian radical T. A. Marryshow: ‘The West Indies must be West Indian’. In his article ‘Is the West Indies West Indian?’, he insisted that the conscious spelling of ‘The West Indies’ with a capitalised ‘T’ aims to signify the unity of the region. Without unity, the old imperialist pressures will prevail as they often do.

In 1975, the Cuban poet Nancy Morejón published a landmark poem called “Mujer Negra” (“Black Woman”). The poem opens with the terrible trade of human beings by the European colonialists, touches on the war of independence, and then settles on the remarkable Cuban Revolution of 1959:

I came down from the Sierra

to put an end to capital and usurer,
to generals and to the bourgeoisie.
Now I exist: only today do we own, do we create.
Nothing is alien to us.
The land is ours.
Ours are the sea and sky,
the magic and vision.
My fellow people, here I see you dance
around the tree we are planting for communism.
Its prodigal wood already resounds.

The land is ours. Sovereignty is ours too. Our destiny is not to live as the subordinate beings of others. That is the message of Morejón and of the Cuban people who are building their sovereign lives, and it is the message of the Haitian people who want to advance their great Revolution of 1804.

The post Washington Beats the Drum of Regime Change, but Cuba Responds to Its Own Revolutionary Rhythm first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Washington Beats the Drum of Regime Change, but Cuba Responds to Its Own Revolutionary Rhythm

Préfète Duffaut (Haiti), Le Générale Canson, 1950.

In 1963, the Trinidadian writer CLR James released a second edition of his classic 1938 study of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. For the new edition, James wrote an appendix with the suggestive title ‘From Toussaint L’Ouverture to Fidel Castro’. In the opening page of the appendix, he located the twin Revolutions of Haiti (1804) and Cuba (1959) in the context of the West Indian islands: ‘The people who made them, the problems and the attempts to solve them, are peculiarly West Indian, the product of a peculiar origin and a peculiar history’. Thrice James uses the word ‘peculiar’, which emerges from the Latin peculiaris for ‘private property’ (pecu is the Latin word for ‘cattle’, the essence of ancient property).

Property is at the heart of the origin and history of the modern West Indies. By the end of the 17th century, the European conquistadors and colonialists had massacred the inhabitants of the West Indies. On St. Kitts in 1626, English and French colonialists massacred between two and four thousand Caribs – including Chief Tegremond – in the Kalinago genocide, which Jean-Baptiste Du Tertre wrote about in 1654. Having annihilated the island’s native people, the Europeans brought in African men and women who had been captured and enslaved. What unites the West Indian islands is not language and culture, but the wretchedness of slavery, rooted in an oppressive plantation economy. Both Haiti and Cuba are products of this ‘peculiarity’, the one being bold enough to break the shackles in 1804 and the other able to follow a century and a half later.

Osmond Watson (Jamaica), City Life, 1968.

Today, crisis is the hour in the Caribbean.

On 7 July, just outside of Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, gunmen broke into the home of President Jovenel Moïse, assassinated him in cold blood, and then fled. The country – already wracked by social upheaval sparked by the late president’s policies – has now plunged even deeper into crisis. Already, Moïse had forcefully extended his presidential mandate beyond his term as the country struggled with the burdens of being dependent on international agencies, trapped by a century-long economic crisis, and struck hard by the pandemic. Protests had become commonplace across Haiti as the prices of everything skyrocketed and as no effective government came to the aid of a population in despair. But Moïse was not killed because of this proximate crisis. More mysterious forces are at work: US-based Haitian religious leaders, narco-traffickers, and Colombian mercenaries. This is a saga that is best written as a fictional thriller.

Four days after Moïse’s assassination, Cuba experienced a set of protests from people expressing their frustration with shortages of goods and a recent spike of COVID-19 infections. Within hours of receiving the news that the protests had emerged, Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel went to the streets of San Antonio de los Baños, south of Havana, to march with the protestors. Díaz-Canel and his government reminded the eleven million Cubans that the country has suffered greatly from the six-decade-long illegal US blockade, that it is in the grip of Trump’s 243 additional ‘coercive measures’, and that it will fight off the twin problems of COVID-19 and a debt crisis with its characteristic resolve.

Nonetheless, a malicious social media campaign attempted to use these protests as a sign that the government of Díaz-Canel and the Cuban Revolution should be overthrown. It was clarified a few days later that this campaign was run from Miami, Florida, in the United States. From Washington, DC, the drums of regime change sounded loudly. But they have not found find much of an echo in Cuba. Cuba has its own revolutionary rhythms.

Eduardo Abela (Cuba), Los Guajiros (1938).

In 1804, the Haitian Revolution – a rebellion of the plantation proletariat who struck against the agricultural factories that produced sugar and profit – sent up a flare of freedom across the colonised world. A century and a half later, the Cubans fired their own flare.

The response to each of these revolutions from the fossilised magnates of Paris and Washington was the same: suffocate the stirrings of freedom by indemnities and blockades. In 1825, the French demanded through force that the Haitians pay 150 million francs for the loss of property (namely human beings). Alone in the Caribbean, the Haitians felt that they had no choice but to pay up, which they did to France (until 1893) and then to the United States (until 1947). The total bill over the 122 years amounts to $21 billion. When Haiti’s President Jean-Bertrand Aristide tried to recover those billions from France in 2003, he was removed from office by a coup d’état.

After the United States occupied Cuba in 1898, it ran the island like a gangster’s playground. Any attempt by the Cubans to exercise their sovereignty was squashed with terrible force, including invasions by US forces in 1906-1909, 1912, 1917-1922, and 1933. The United States backed General Fulgencio Batista (1940-1944 and 1952-1959) despite all the evidence of his brutality. After all, Batista protected US interests, and US firms owned two-thirds of the country’s sugar industry and almost its entire service sector.

The Cuban Revolution of 1959 stands against this wretched history – a history of slavery and imperial domination. How did the US react? By imposing an economic blockade on the country from 19 October 1960 that lasts to this day, which has targeted everything from access to medical supplies, food, and financing to barring Cuban imports and coercing third-party countries to do the same. It is a vindictive attack against a people who – like the Haitians – are trying to exercise their sovereignty. Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez reported that between April 2019 and December 2020, the government lost $9.1 billion due to the blockade ($436 million per month). ‘At current prices’, he said, ‘the accumulated damages in six decades amount to over $147.8 billion, and against the price of gold, it amounts to over $1.3 trillion’.

None of this information would be available without the presence of media outlets such as Peoples Dispatch, which celebrates its three-year anniversary this week. We send our warmest greetings to the team and hope that you will bookmark their page to visit it several times a day for world news rooted in people’s struggles.

Bernadette Persaud (Guyana), Gentlemen Under the Sky (Gulf War), 1991.

On 17 July, tens of thousands of Cubans took to the streets to defend their Revolution and demand an end to the US blockade. President Díaz-Canel said that the Cuba of ‘love, peace, unity, [and] solidarity’ had asserted itself. In solidarity with this unwavering affirmation, we have launched a call for participation in the exhibition Let Cuba Live. The submission deadline is 24 July for the online exhibition launch on 26 July – the anniversary of the revolutionary movement that brought Cuba to Revolution in 1959 – but we encourage ongoing submissions. We are inviting international artists and militants to participate in this flash exhibition as we continue to amplify the campaign #LetCubaLive to end the blockade.

A few weeks before the most recent attack on Cuba and the assassination in Haiti, the United States armed forces conducted a major military exercise in Guyana called Tradewinds 2021 and another exercise in Panama called Panamax 2021. Under the authority of the United States, a set of European militaries (France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) – each with colonies in the region – joined Brazil and Canada to conduct Tradewinds with seven Caribbean countries (The Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago). In a show of force, the US demanded that Iran cancel the movement of its ships to Venezuela in June ahead of the US-sponsored military exercise.

The United States is eager to turn the Caribbean into its sea, subordinating the sovereignty of the islands. It was curious that Guyana’s Prime Minister Mark Phillips said that these US-led war games strengthen the ‘Caribbean regional security system’. What they do, as our recent dossier on US and French military bases in Africa shows, is to subordinate the Caribbean states to US interests. The US is using its increased military presence in Colombia and Guyana to increase pressure on Venezuela.

Elsa Gramcko (Venezuela), El ojo de la cerradura (‘The Keyhole’), 1964.

Sovereign regionalism is not alien to the Caribbean, which has made four attempts to build a platform: the West Indian Federation (1958-1962), Caribbean Free Trade Association (1965-1973), Caribbean Community (1973-1989), and CARICOM (1989 to the present). What began as an anti-imperialist union has now devolved into a trade association that attempts to better integrate the region into world trade. The politics of the Caribbean are increasingly being drawn into orbit of the US. In 2010, the US created the Caribbean Basic Security Initiative, whose agenda is shaped by Washington.

In 2011, our old friend Shridath Ramphal, Guyana’s foreign minister from 1972 to 1975, repeated the words of the great Grenadian radical T. A. Marryshow: ‘The West Indies must be West Indian’. In his article ‘Is the West Indies West Indian?’, he insisted that the conscious spelling of ‘The West Indies’ with a capitalised ‘T’ aims to signify the unity of the region. Without unity, the old imperialist pressures will prevail as they often do.

In 1975, the Cuban poet Nancy Morejón published a landmark poem called “Mujer Negra” (“Black Woman”). The poem opens with the terrible trade of human beings by the European colonialists, touches on the war of independence, and then settles on the remarkable Cuban Revolution of 1959:

I came down from the Sierra

to put an end to capital and usurer,
to generals and to the bourgeoisie.
Now I exist: only today do we own, do we create.
Nothing is alien to us.
The land is ours.
Ours are the sea and sky,
the magic and vision.
My fellow people, here I see you dance
around the tree we are planting for communism.
Its prodigal wood already resounds.

The land is ours. Sovereignty is ours too. Our destiny is not to live as the subordinate beings of others. That is the message of Morejón and of the Cuban people who are building their sovereign lives, and it is the message of the Haitian people who want to advance their great Revolution of 1804.

The post Washington Beats the Drum of Regime Change, but Cuba Responds to Its Own Revolutionary Rhythm first appeared on Dissident Voice.

More Attacks on Palestine Solidarity from Green Party Leadership

Annamie Paul’s team have once again smeared Green MPs and party members as anti-Semitic for opposing the dispossessing of Palestinians. These ongoing attacks are part of the Green leader’s broader commitment to Canadian imperialism.

Last week Paul appointed Richard Zurawski to her shadow cabinet. Three weeks earlier the new party critic for Green Recovery publicly denounced “BDS terrorists” and strongly implied Green MP Paul Manly and now former MP Jenica Atwin were anti-Semitic. On Facebook Zurawski wrote, “she [Paul] makes the hard choices Shimon, and that is why I support her. She is pushing hard against the anti-Semitic factions, like the BDS terrorist group, within the GPC [Green Party of Canada] that is using the Middle East as a wedge to isolate and spread misinformation, hijacking the GPC mandate. It is sad to see their agendas being promoted by Manly and Atwin.”

In 2016 when Green members voted for a resolution supporting the long-oppressed Palestinians, Zurawski was quoted in numerous media outlets disparaging the party. He said, “when we specifically single out Israelis, I worry about the buzzwords and subtext and code language, which is anti-Semitic.” Zurawski also told the press that the members’ democratic decision was “destructive for the party”.

Appointing Zurawski to her shadow cabinet after he called Greens “BDS terrorists,” follows on the heels of her senior adviser, Noah Zatzman, repeatedly smearing Green MPs, members and other politicians opposing Palestinian subjugation. Paul has also attacked Green members in a similar fashion. During and just after the leadership race Paul was quoted by GlobalTimes of IsraelHa’aretzJewish IndependentCanadian Jewish Record and others labeling party members as anti-Semitic. In a July 2020 Canadian Jewish Record commentary she wrote, “My loyalty to Canada has also been called into question, and I have been accused of taking bribes from Israel, leading a Zionist take-over of the Green Party of Canada and of spreading hasbarah.”

Paul’s anti-Palestinianism appears to be motivated by familial ties, religious conviction and careerism. But, it is also part of her broader imperialist worldview. As I detailed a month ago in “Annamie Paul’s failure to confront international racism”, she backed the coup against Bolivia’s first ever indigenous president Evo Morales and has stoked Sinophobia. Ten days ago Paul met Latvia’s ambassador to Canada Kārlis Eihenbaums. According to his account of the virtual get-together, “Paul stressed the importance of international organisations like NATO, the significance of Canada’s international engagements and role.” In the discussion Paul apparently endorsed Canada’s role in the nuclear armed NATO alliance and stationing 500 Canadian troops on Russia’s border as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia.

But, after an unpopular Canadian-backed tyrant was recently killed in Haiti, Paul claimed to be committed to “nonviolence”. On Wednesday Paul tweeted, “as the leader of a party committed to non-violence, I strongly condemn the assassination of Haitian President Moïse, and urge local authorities and international partners to do all they can to prioritize the protection of civilians and to prevent further casualties.” To the best of my knowledge this is Paul’s first public comment on Haiti. She was quiet when reporter Diego Charles and activist Antoinette Duclair were killed on June 29 in Port-au-Prince. She also ignored a recent Harvard Law report documenting a couple hundred killed in “brutal attacks” by government-backed gangs. Paul was also quiet about Moïse ruling by decree and his lack of constitutional legitimacy. Paul failed to raise her voice five months ago when Green MP Paul Manly, environmentalists David Suzuki and Naomi Klein, as well as Stephen Lewis, Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters, George Elliott Clarke and other prominent individuals called on Canada to “stop propping up a repressive and corrupt dictatorship in Haiti.”

In response to Paul’s tweet about Moïse a number of individuals highlighted the hypocritical nature of her message considering her indifference to Israeli violence against Palestinians. “I wish you demonstrated as much concern for the murder of Palestinians as you do for the murder of a dictator”, noted one. A more perceptive commentator noted Paul’s status quo outlook: “Why is it that every time Trudeau tweets something about global affairs, you tweet the same exact message?” A former Global Affairs Canada employee, Paul’s resume demonstrates rock solid support for the US led global order.

On July 20 the Green Party’s federal council will vote on whether to give members the opportunity to decide if Paul should continue to lead the party. The federal council should allow the members to vote. My bet is that the vast majority of Greens are fed up with attacks from Paul and her team on members who promote the Green party’s official policy on Palestine.

The post More Attacks on Palestine Solidarity from Green Party Leadership first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why Human Rights in China and Tigray but Not in Haiti, Palestine, or Colombia?

U.S. President Joe Biden and the Democrats have been playing the “Black Lives Matter” tune on their fiddle. Biden even raised the issue of Black Lives Matter during his presidential campaign. But, just days after Biden was sworn into office, his administration lent support for the Haitian dictator, Jovenel Moïse, who stayed in office past his term to the dismay of the Haitian people, who flooded the streets in protest.

Now, Moïse is dead and the United Nations has decided who will be the new president of Haiti. We see the racist irony. The people of Haiti have not been allowed to weigh in. The white rulers have made their decision, as the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) stated in its July 9 press release.

And while the director of Colombia’s National Intelligence Agency and the director of its national police’s Intelligence Division are in Haiti to investigate the role of Colombia in the assassination, those agencies have not launched investigations into police forces and paramilitary elements involved in the recent killings of peaceful protesters in Colombia, a client state of the United States.

Accepting the recommendation from the United Nations Special Envoy for Haiti that contested Prime Minister Claude Joseph would be the new president is the ultimate in Western arrogance. The white West is continuing its white-supremacist narrative that the predominately African/Black population of Haiti cannot govern itself. What is really going on is the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination is working through the “Core Group” to ensure Haiti remains subordinate to its interests. The United States remains in the lead of that axis.

That is why we say Biden and Democrats could care less about Black lives.

In fact, Biden was quoted in 1994 as saying, “If Haiti just quietly sunk into the Caribbean or rose up 300 feet, it wouldn’t matter a whole lot in terms of our interest.”

Is this the man and are Democrats the people Africans and other colonized people around the world are supposed to trust with our lives?

No, they are committed to one thing: The perpetuation of the pan-European colonial-capitalist project that has been underway for more than 500 years. That ideological foundation explains why they do not believe in the inherent dignity of all human beings. Hence, the double standard in place: The pretense of democracy and the rule of law for them and colonial fascism for the nations and peoples of the global South.

This is why the white West’s deployment of “humanitarian intervention” because of the “Responsibility to Protect” is so cynical. The West is responsible for the barbaric treatment and conditions colonized peoples have faced for centuries. The U.S. ruling class has shown nothing but contempt for the lives of workers inside its borders and for the millions worldwide who live in abject poverty as a result of the global U.S.-dominated capitalist-imperialist system.

Why the concern about Muslims in China while Biden and Democrats greenlight Israel’s war crimes against predominately Muslim Palestinians?

Whenever the United States raises humanitarian issues—be it in the Horn of Africa or in China—we know it can only mean one thing: The United States has strategic interests that have nothing to do with the humanity of the people they pretend to care about.

That is why BAP will continue to tell the truth, no matter the consequences.

The post Why Human Rights in China and Tigray but Not in Haiti, Palestine, or Colombia? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse

Unknown assailants overnight assassinating Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was a horrific act that should be condemned in no uncertain terms. Unfortunately, such violence is unsurprising. As the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) noted in its July 6 press release, Moïse’s actions since usurping power have brought Haiti to a boiling point, with heavily armed gangs being unleashed, both supported by and enabled by the Haitian elite and those international “friends” of Haiti, including the United States, the United Nations, the Core Group and the Organization of American States.

What happens now is the question. Will the Biden administration and other political players use this moment as the pretext for military intervention, as was done in 1915? Will interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph attempt to consolidate power under the pretext of the current state of siege? Will the Core Group find a new willing puppet, more pliable than Moïse, to bring “stability”?

Whatever happens, the Black Alliance for Peace remains steadfast in our call against foreign intervention and occupation of Haiti. And we call on all anti-imperialist and Black internationalist forces to stand with the Haitian people and oppose U.S. and European interventions deployed under the guise of the “Responsibility to Protect.”

The post The Assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Recognizing Lies about Latin America: Seven Tips

Headlines from two major Venezuelan newspapers (Photo Credit:  Laura Wells)

Even when we’re being lied to by almost every available source across the media and political spectrum, we can still become better lie detectors.

A focus on lies about Latin America is important because we do care about how the US treats other people, and we also need hope that things can improve in the US, in healthcare, housing, education, justice, the arts, and in the whole system of democracy. Some Latin American countries are lied about a lot, not because of oil, but because they represent to the powers-that-be what Noam Chomsky calls the “threat of a good example.” To the rest of us, they can represent the “hope of a good example.” Life can actually improve when governments are on the side of regular people.

Here are seven tips for recognizing when you’re probably being lied to. We need basic guidelines because we can never do enough research, or check enough sources, or click enough links.

(1) Words like dictator, authoritarian, regime, strong-man, and tyrant are used to describe the non-US-aligned governments, whereas for US allies the words are straightforward: president, leader, administration.

On the last day of a trip to Venezuela, I remembered to take a photo of two major newspapers. The headlines demonstrate the lie that Hugo Chavez supposedly suppressed “freedom of press.” Would a dictator allow major newspapers to shout out DICTADOR in all-caps on the front page? Character assassination is a mainstay of media and government lies, whether the story is about non-aligned Latin American presidents, or whistleblowers, or other truth-tellers and activists.

(2) Sanctions have been imposed on the country. Media and politicians do not mention sanctions, however, when the nation is described as a “failed state” or a “broken socialist state.” The UN charter prohibits these “unilateral coercive measures.” Of the more than 30 nations suffering under some form of sanctions by the US, the ones south of the border are Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Haiti, in other words, Trump’s “Troika of Tyranny” plus Haiti. Significantly, in 1804 Haiti became the only state in history ever established by a successful slave revolt.

If a nation is on this sanctions list, (which is not totally up-to-date), there is good reason to doubt the truth of any stories heard from media and the US government. Sanctions have a huge effect on a nation’s ability to maintain their infrastructure, benefit from tourism, and even to feed their people and obtain medicines. These coercive measures have been especially criminal during the COVID-19 pandemic.

End US sanctions and other foreign interference, and then talk about how well sovereign nations address their own problems.

(3) Fraud is alleged when presidents are — or might be — elected who are not the first choice of the US. And “US” in this case means the military-industrial-financial-congressional-prison-pharmaceutical-media-complex, not regular folks in the US. Who lives in fear of Venezuela? Is Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to the national security of the US, as declared by Obama in 2015 and ramped up by Trump afterward?

“Fraud” in elections is easily alleged, often in advance of the elections, and then widely repeated, which allows future reports to say “widely perceived as fraudulent.” No evidence is used to back up the claims, and, in fact, evidence countering the allegations of fraud is ignored.

(4) The country is accused of human rights abuses, while other countries with much worse records are not targeted. Modern day “soft coups” are replacing the disfavored military coups, are very complex to unravel, and are very effective. Because reports of human rights abuses are often from credible sources, it’s hard to disbelieve them — unless one happens to be a Latin American organizer or journalist in a targeted country. They can see clearly it is not just the CIA, DEA, NED, IMF or OAS; there are a slew of other acronyms and organizations that are causing them problems. The best tip is to “consider the source” — consider if the organizations are based in and funded by the US and Europe, the imperialist and colonial powers of recent centuries.

“Soft coups” work much like character assassination. The accusations aim for the soft spots in our hearts, such as the treatment of women, indigenous, and the environment, and the good old standby of anti-corruption. Even insignificant and unsubstantiated accusations work. An old-fashioned coup d’etat was about sending in the Marines and training the Contras. The new soft coups send in “student protesters”, the judiciary, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The hypocrisy is extreme. Can anyone believe US policy is the gold standard on the environment, workers rights, elections and democracy (two recent US presidents have taken office after they lost the popular vote), human rights, gender equality and indigenous rights?

(5) The country has no US military bases. This tip is tricky, because it is difficult to get a definitive list of US military bases around the world. The more sources you check the more confused you become. The “Troika of Tyranny” nations Venezuela and Nicaragua do not have US bases, although the neighboring countries certainly do. And Guantanamo in Cuba has still not been shut down. This source, describes a “temporary” base, which means it doesn’t count as a base, in Honduras since 1982.

(6) Officials and supporters of the non-aligned governments are rarely quoted. The opposition and their privately-owned media are treated as the only sources needed.

(7) Media outlets and politicians cannot afford to tell the whole truth. This is the saddest tip. If politicians and media are too far “out in left field,” they will lose their funding, especially if they rely on corporate donations or advertising, but even if they are corporate-free. In addition to funding, politicians and media risk losing their credibility and their more moderate supporters if they go too far with uncomfortable truths. Their survival is safer if they only aim to be “better than” the others. PBS, for example, is considered to be “very liberal” and yet citizens of Venezuela and Nicaragua can easily see the PBS bias against them. After reading stories about Venezuela, here is a valuable English language website that gives a fuller context, and it even includes internal critiques.

There are many examples. Journalists Chris Hedges and Glenn Greenwald worked for the “liberal” newspapers New York Times and Britain’s Guardian, respectively, until their investigative journalism became impossible within mainstream media. The US is now pulling out all the stops, including character assassination, to punish Julian Assange for publishing documents that laid bare truths we were not supposed to know. Sadly, the major newspapers that have used Wikileaks material are not defending Assange’s right to journalistic freedom.

As an example involving Nicaragua, journalist Gary Webb ran into trouble when he investigated the CIA’s role in the 1980s in getting crack cocaine to the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles to get money and weapons to the Contras to fight against the Sandinistas. And so it goes.

*****

The countries and their leaders are not perfect. They are, however, sovereign nations, and the people of those nations will be much better off when the US honors the UN charter, and stops the economic, military, and information wars against them. As to Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, the people and their leaders are aiming toward benefits for regular folks, rather than benefits for the oligarchs of their country and the world. The better we are at telling when we’re being lied to, the easier it will be to achieve success in that huge challenge. We can be inspired by the “power of a good example.” Rather than continue having our expectations for ourselves and our children be diminished, we can find reasons to allow our expectations to rise.

The post Recognizing Lies about Latin America: Seven Tips first appeared on Dissident Voice.