Thursday, 30 July 2009


There can be no Middle East
settlement without Hamas

By throwing their weight behind repression on the West Bank,
the US and Britain are only making a viable peace
less likely

Seumas Milne
29 July 2009

Barely six months into Barack Obama's presidency and public
tensions between the US and Israel, unthinkable for most of
the past two decades, have already spilled over into open
recriminations. Israel will not take orders or accept
"edicts" from Washington, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
has declared, while reportedly branding two of Obama's most
senior aides – Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod – as
"self-hating Jews".

A posse of Obama emissaries has now been dispatched to
Jerusalem to smooth Israeli feathers with talk of a
"discussion among friends". In the face of intense Israeli
resistance, Obama's demand for a "complete freeze" on
Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories
is now expected to become a fudge about 2,500 more homes
currently under construction.

But all the signs are that Washington is determined to use
pressure to halt settlement expansion, combined with some
gestures of Arab "normalisation" with Israel, to create the
conditions for restarting peace talks later this year.
Assuming that those negotiations flounder, as in the past,
the administration is then expected to produce a peace plan
of its own – perhaps based around a provisional West Bank
state, with the most contentious issues of Jerusalem and
refugees once again postponed till a later date.

If that's the direction of travel, it's not a recipe for
lasting peace but for further conflict. For all the welcome
US shift from its blank-cheque policy towards its closest
Middle Eastern ally, Obama's attempt to balance a freeze on
illegal Israeli settlements in illegally occupied territory
with the kind of diplomatic concessions the Arab world has
always held back for a final peace agreement is a pretty
lopsided kind of exchange.

For Palestinians on the ground, even more urgent than a
halt to settlement expansion is effective pressure on
Israel to take its heel off their windpipe: to lift the
life-choking checkpoints, halt the construction of the
land-grabbing wall, and end the continuing siege of the
Gaza Strip, which has left tens of thousands of people
living in rubble since the destruction and slaughter
unleashed on them in January.

But more fundamentally still, from the point of view of any
lasting settlement, is the continuing veto by the US on
talks with the Palestinians' elected representatives, who
won the closest thing to free elections possible under
military occupation three years ago. Obama acknowledged
support for Hamas in his Cairo speech last month, but
insisted the movement could only "play a role" if it signed
up to conditions he knows it will not accept.

Since Israel's onslaught on Gaza, Hamas has resumed its
earlier ceasefire: last month, only two rockets were fired
into Israel from the strip. And the Hamas leader, Khalid
Mish'al, has reiterated its commitment to an indefinite end
to hostilities in exchange for full withdrawal from the
territories occupied in 1967 and recognition of the
refugees' right to return.

It should be clear enough that no settlement is going to
succeed unless it commands broad support or acquiescence on
both sides: most obviously from the Palestinians, the
victims of dispossession, ethnic cleansing and occupation,
many of whom have little to lose. Recognising that basic
reality, Britain's parliamentary foreign affairs committee
called on the government at the weekend to end its ban on
talking to Hamas – echoing influential voices in the US and
Israel itself.

But the only deal envisaged by the US is one with the
unpopular Mahmoud Abbas, whose term as president expired
last January. As the Democratic chairman of the Senate
foreign relations committee, John Kerry, put it recently:
"Hamas has already won one election – we cannot allow them
to win another."

And far from supporting the Palestinian national unity
necessary to make any peace agreement stick, America and
its allies are doing everything possible to deepen the
split between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah movement. In fact,
the US, Britain and the EU make support for the Palestinian
Authority (PA) dependent on a continuing security crackdown
against Hamas activists in the West Bank – justified as
fighting terrorism – which makes reconciliation between the
two Palestinian parties ever more far-fetched.

As a result, more than 1,000 political prisoners are
reported by human rights groups to be held without trial in
PA jails, while extrajudicial killings, torture and raids
on Hamas-linked social institutions have become routine by
security forces trained and funded by the US and the EU.
And heading the effort to build up Abbas's forces that
carry out these operations is US Lieutenant-General Keith
Dayton – increasingly regarded as the real power in the
West Bank – supported by British officials and the Foreign
Office-sponsored security firm Libra Advisory Group, fresh
from working for the occupation forces in Iraq.

Needless to say, all the governments and security outfits
concerned reject any link with torture and insist their
training is aimed at overcoming human rights violations –
while Hamas has retaliated with its own arrests and abuses
against Fatah members in Gaza. And the destructive impact
of the mobilisation of the PA as an instrument for policing
the Israeli occupation isn't only felt in the split between
Fatah and Hamas, but within Fatah itself, which is holding
its first congress for 20 years next week.

The aim of Abbas, under US and EU guidance, is to complete
the transformation of Fatah from a national liberation
movement into the governing party of a state that doesn't
exist. Money and gerrrymandering are likely to see off
internal opposition, such as from the grassroots West Bank
Fatah leader Hussam Khader, who calls for unity with Hamas
and a twin strategy of resistance and negotiation.

"We expect nothing from Obama," Khader told me yesterday.
Even if Abbas were to sign up to the half-baked collection
of walled-in West Bank bantustans masquerading as an
independent state that currently seems the most the US
might be ready to squeeze out of Israel, he would not be
able to sustain or legitimise it. Until the US feels it
necessary to use its leverage with Israel to deliver
something closer to a genuinely just settlement, the
prospect must be of renewed violence, with ever greater
global consequences.

Sunday, 26 July 2009


Reflections of Fidel

The 30th Sandinista

anniversary and the San José proposal

(Taken from CubaDebate)

THE Honduran coup d’état promoted by the ultra-right wing
of the United States – which was maintaining the structure
created by Bush in Central America – and supported by the
Department of State, was not developing well due to the
energetic resistance of the people. The criminal adventure,
unanimously condemned by world opinion and international
agencies, could not be sustained.

The memory of the atrocities committed in recent decades by
dictatorships that the United States promoted, instructed
and armed in our hemisphere, was still fresh. During the
Clinton administration and in subsequent years the empire’s
efforts were directed toward the plan of imposing the FTA
(Free Trade Agreement) on all the Latin American countries
via the so-called Summits of the Americas.

The intention to compromise the hemisphere with a free
trade agreement failed. The economies of other regions of
the world grew at a good rate and the dollar lost its
exclusive hegemony as a privileged hard currency. The
brutal world financial crisis complicated the situation. It
was in those circumstances that the military coup came
about in Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the
hemisphere. After two weeks of growing popular struggle,
the United States maneuvered to gain time. The Department
of State assigned Oscar Arias, president of Costa Rica, the
task of aiding the military coup in Honduras, under siege
from vigorous but peaceful popular pressure. Never had a
similar action in Latin America met such a response. The
fact that Arias holds the title of Nobel Peace Prize
laureate had weight in the calculations of the government
of the United States.

The real history of Oscar Arias indicates that he is a
neoliberal politician, talented and with a facility for
words, extremely calculated and a loyal ally of the United
States. From the initial years of the triumph of the Cuban
Revolution, the United States government utilized Costa
Rica and assigned it resources in order to present it as a
showcase of the social advances that could be achieved
under capitalism.

That Central American country was utilized as a base for
imperialism for its pirate attacks on Cuba. Thousands of
Cuban technical personnel and university graduates were
extracted from our people, already subjected to a cruel
blockade, to provide services in Costa Rica. Relations
between Costa Rica and Cuba have been reestablished
recently; the country was one of the last two in the
hemisphere to do so, which is a matter of satisfaction for
us, but that should not deter me from expressing what I
think in this historic moment of our America.

Arias, who came from the wealthy and dominant sector of
Costa Rica, studied Law and Economy in a central university
of his country; he studied and subsequently graduated with
a Masters in Political Science from Essex University in the
United Kingdom, where he finally obtained the title of
Doctor of Political Science. With such academic laurels,
President José Figueres Ferrer of the National Liberation
Party made him an advisor in 1970, at the age of 30 and,
shortly afterward, appointed him minister of Planning, a
post in which he was ratified by the president who followed
Ferrer, Daniel Oduber. In 1978 he entered Congress as a
deputy of that party. He rose to general secretary in 1979
and held the office of president for the first time in

Years before the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, an armed
movement of Costa Rica’s national bourgeoisie under the
leadership of José Figueres Ferrer, father of President
Figueres Olsen, had eliminated that country’s small coup
army, and his struggle had the support of the Cubans. When
we were fighting against the Batista dictatorship in the
Sierra Maestra, we received some arms and munitions from
the Liberation Party created by Figueres Ferrer, but it was
too good a friend of the yanquis and soon broke off
relations with us. The OAS meeting in San José, Costa Rica,
which gave rise to the First Declaration of Havana in 1960,
should not be forgotten.

For more than 150 years, since the times of the filibuster
William Walker, who appointed himself president of
Nicaragua in 1856, all of Central America suffered and is
still suffering from the problem of United States
interventionism, which has been constant, although the
heroic people of Nicaragua have attained an independence
that they are prepared to defend to the last breath. It has
not known any support from Costa Rica since it achieved
independence, although there was one government of that
country which, on the eve of the victory of 1979, earned
the glory of being in solidarity with the Sandinista
National Liberation Front. When Nicaragua was bleeding on
account of Reagan’s dirty war, Guatemala and El Salvador
had also paid a high price in lives due to the
interventionist policy of the United States, which supplied
money, weapons, schools and indoctrination for the
repressive troops. Daniel [Ortega] told us that the yanquis
finally promoted formulas that put an end to the
revolutionary resistance of Guatemala and El Salvador.

On more than one occasion Daniel had commented to me, with
bitterness, that Arias, fulfilling instructions from the
United States, had excluded Nicaragua from the peace
negotiations. He met solely with the governments of El
Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala in order to impose
agreements on Nicaragua. For that, Daniel expressed
enormous gratitude to Vinicio Cerezo. He likewise told me
that the first agreement was signed in a convent in
Esquipulas, Guatemala, on August 17, 1987, after two days
of intensive talks between the five Central America
presidents. I have never spoken publicly about that.

But this time, at the commemoration of the 30th anniversary
of the Sandinista victory of July 19, 1979, Daniel
explained everything with impressive clarity, as he did
with all the themes throughout his speech, which was heard
by hundreds of thousands of people and broadcast on radio
and television. I use his words textually: "The yanquis
appointed him a mediator. We have a profound sympathy with
the people of Costa Rica, but I cannot forget that, in
those hard years, that the president of Costa Rica convened
the Central American presidents and did not invite us."
"But the other Central American presidents were more
sensible and they told him: ‘There cannot be any peace plan
here if Nicaragua is not present.’ In the name of historic
truth, the president who had the courage to break the
isolation imposed by the yanquis in Central America – where
the presidents had been forbidden to talk with the
president of Nicaragua and they wanted a military solution
– the man who took that valiant step was the president of
Guatemala, Vinicio Cerezo. That is the true history."

He immediately added: "The yanquis ran in search of
President Oscar Arias, because they know him! to seek a way
of gaining time, so that the coup perpetrators begin to
make demands that are unacceptable. Since when is a coup
leader going to negotiate with a person from whom he is
snatching his constitutional rights? Those rights can not
be negotiated, President Manuel Zelaya simply has to be
reinstated, as stated in the ALBA, Rio Group, SICA, OAS and
United Nations agreements. "In our countries we want
peaceful solutions. The battle being waged by the people of
Honduras at this time is a peaceful battle, in order to
avoid any more pain, which has already come about in
Honduras," Daniel concluded, textually.

By virtue of the dirty war ordered by Reagan and which, in
part – Daniel told me – was financed by drugs sent to the
United States, more than 60,000 people lost their lives and
a further 5,800 were maimed. Reagan’s dirty war gave rise
to the destruction and neglect of 300 schools and 25 health
centers; 150 teachers were killed. The cost rose to tens of
billions of dollars. Nicaragua was left with only 3.5
million inhabitants, it no longer received the fuel that
the USSR was sending it, and the economy became
unsustainable. He convened elections and even brought them
forward, and respected the decision of the people, who had
lost all hope of preserving the conquest of the Revolution.
Almost 17 years later, the Sandinistas victoriously
returned to government; just two days ago, they
commemorated the 30th anniversary of the first victory.

On Saturday, July 18 the Nobel Prize winner proposed the
known seven points of his personal peace initiative, which
detracted authority from the UN and OAS decisions and were
equivalent to an act of rendition on the part of Manuel
Zelaya, which were taking sympathy away from him and would
debilitate popular support. The constitutional president
sent what he qualified as an ultimatum to the coup leaders,
to be presented to them by their representatives, at the
same time announcing his return to Honduras for Sunday,
July 19, entering through any of that country’s

In the early afternoon of that Sunday, the huge Sandinista
event took place, with historic denunciations of the policy
of the United States. They were truths that could not be
anything but transcendental.

The worst thing is that the United States was encountering
resistance from the coup government to its sweetening
maneuver. We still do not know the precise moment at which
the Department of State, for its part, sent a strong
message to Micheletti and whether the military commanders
were advised of the positions of the government of the
United States. The reality is, for anyone who is closely
following the events, that Micheletti was insubordinate to
peace on the Monday. His representative in San José, Carlos
López Conteras, had stated that Arias’ proposal could not
be discussed, given that the first point – that is to say,
the reestablishment of Zelaya – was not negotiable. The
coup civil government had taken its role seriously and
didn’t even realize that Zelaya, deprived of all authority,
did not constitute any risk whatsoever to the oligarchy and
would suffer a heavy blow politically if he accepted the
Costa Rican president’s proposal.

On that same Sunday 19th, when Arias asked for another 72
hours to explain his position, Ms. Clinton spoke by
telephone with Micheletti and maintained what spokesman
Philip Crowley described as a "hard call." Some day we will
know what she said, but it was enough to see Micheletti’s
face when he spoke at a meeting of his government on
Monday, July 20: he really looked like a kindergarten kid
who had been scolded by the teacher. The footage and
speeches of the meeting could be seen via Telesur. Other
footage transmitted was that of the OAS representatives
making their speeches in the heart of that institution,
committing themselves to wait for the final word of the
Nobel Peace laureate on Wednesday. Did they know or not
what Clinton had said to Micheletti? Maybe they did, maybe
they didn’t. Maybe some, but not all of them knew. People,
institutions and concepts had been converted into
instruments of Washington’s high and arrogant politics.
Never did a speech in the heart of the OAS shine out with
such dignity as did the brief but valiant words of Roy
Chaderton, the Venezuelan ambassador, in that meeting.

Tomorrow the stony image of Oscar Arias will appear,
explaining that they have drawn up such and such a proposed
solution in order to avoid violence. I think that even
Arias himself has fallen into the large trap set up by the
Department of State. We shall see what he does tomorrow.

However, it is the people of Honduras who will have the
last word. Representatives of the social organizations and
the new forces are not the instruments of anybody within or
outside of the country, they know the needs and the
suffering of the people; their awareness and their courage
has multiplied; many citizens who were idle have joined
them; and those honest members of the traditional parties
who believe in freedom, justice and human dignity will
judge the leaders on the basis of the position that they
adopted at this historic minute. That attitude of the
military in the face of the yanqui ultimatums is as yet
unknown, or what messages are reaching the officers; there
is only one point of patriotic and honorable reference:
loyalty to the people, who have endured with heroism the
tear gas grenades, blows and shootings.

Without anyone being able to guarantee what the last
caprice of the empire will be; whether, on the basis of the
final decisions adopted, Zelaya will return legally or
illegally, the Hondurans will doubtless give him a great
reception, because it will be a measure of the victory that
they have already achieved with their struggles. Nobody
doubts that only the Honduran people will be capable of
constructing their own history!

Fidel Castro Ruz July 21, 2009 8:55 p.m.

Translated by Granma International


UK MPs urge talks with Hamas

Brown's government says it is open to talks with
but not with Hamas


British legislators have urged the government to talk to
moderates within Hamas, saying the West's policy of
shunning the Palestinian group was showing little sign of

Russia is the only member of the Quartet of Middle East
peace brokers, which also comprises the United States, the
United Nations and the European Union, talking to Hamas.

The British parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee said in
a report on Sunday it stood by a recommendation it first
made two years ago that the government should engage
politically with moderate elements within Hamas, which
rules the Gaza Strip.

"We conclude that there continue to be few signs that the
current policy of non-engagement is achieving the Quartet's
stated objectives," the committee said.

"We further conclude that the credible peace process for
which the Quartet hopes, as part of its strategy for
undercutting Hamas, is likely to be difficult to achieve
without greater co-operation from Hamas itself."


The committee, made up of MPs from all the main political
parties, said it was dismayed that, six months after the
end of fighting in Gaza, there was still no ceasefire
agreement between Israel and Hamas.

There had been little change to several issues that
contributed to the conflict, it said.

"We conclude that this situation makes for an ongoing risk
of insecurity and a renewed escalation of violence," it

The committee said it was concerned the Quartet was failing
to provide Hamas with greater incentives to change its

It said Britain should talk to Hamas moderates as a way of
encouraging the group to meet the Quartet principles.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government changed policy in
March by saying it was open to talks with the political
wing of Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah, but it remains
opposed to talking to Hamas.

Israel invaded Gaza on December 27, 2008 and fighting
continued until January 18, 2009, killing more than 1,000

Friday, 24 July 2009


Obama at Cape Coast Castle, a former slave trading
fort, during his visit to Ghana

Obama n' Ghana

By heart he spoke and his people listened.
However homecoming
it was not, assesses
Gamal Nkrumah

Al-Ahram Weekly

You are straight into it with United States President
Barack Obama, no messing around. His words resonated in the
hearts and minds of his Ghanaian listeners and all
Africans. Those words conveyed as powerfully as they gave
sheer pleasure.

In an age when celebrity and media profile are meant to be
the oxygen of success, Obama's oratory is always eye
opening and salubrious. Africa is not a continent for the
squeamish, and that is something that Obama knows all too
well. According to Obama, the continent has been drifting,
but in the right direction. True, there are at least some
hopeful signs.

However, until it is clear that the continent can drive
through change, foreign investors are likely to remain
wary. This was onus of Obama's speech. Foreign investment
is not seen as the panacea for all of Africa's ills. The
continent, after all, needs technocrats to drive a reform

And who says that the land that spawned Charles Taylor will
easily adopt democracy. Africa must not take the road to
The Hague, where Taylor stands trial. The former, and I
hasten to add, democratically-elected president of Liberia
was singled out for retribution. The Western media
persistently plays that down. The entire question of the
quest for good governance, accountability transparency
ended up in mediocrity. And Taylor never caused the death
of so many innocent civilians as did ex-president George W
Bush in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The sentiments expressed by Obama are ones that resonate
well with Africans. Yet, Africans as impressed as they are
with the attentive US president whose own father is
African, still cannot forget that he is the president of
the United States of America.

There was something of the preacher in Obama's tone.
Proselytising is not becoming, not even coming from Obama.
"The West has often approached Africa as a patron or a
source of resources rather than a partner. But the West is
not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean
economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are
enlisted as combatants. In my father's life, it was partly
tribalism and patronage and nepotism in an independent
Kenya that for a long stretch derailed his career, and we
know that this kind of corruption is still a daily fact of
life for far too many."

For many Africans, the West was indeed responsible for
demonising Robert Mugabe, scaring off investors and
ultimately ruining the Zimbabwean economy. The ensuing
ordeal created another African tragedy, which was not
entirely of Africa's making.

Africa's special relationship with and its cultural bonding
with African Americans was emphasised during Obama's visit
to Ghana. To the Ghanaian parliament Obama was
complimentary. "The people of Ghana have worked hard to put
democracy on a firmer footing, with repeated peaceful
transfers of power even in the wake of closely contested
elections." Yes, that much is true.

"Countries like Kenya had a per capita economy larger than
South Korea's when I was born. They have badly been
outpaced. Disease and conflict have ravaged parts of the
African continent," Obama correctly pointed out. But the
question is what is the solution to the continent's many

"As I said in Cairo, each nation gives life to democracy in
its own way, and in line with its own traditions. But
history offers a clear verdict: Governments that respect
the will of their own people, that govern by consent and
not coercion, are more prosperous, they are more stable and
more successful than governments that do not," the American
president insisted.

One thing, however, that Obama said and that rang true was
that democracy in Africa must be moulded in the African
manner. "This is about more than just holding elections.
It's also about what happens between elections. Repression
can take many forms, and too many nations, even those that
have elections, are plagued by problems that condemn their
people to poverty." And herein lies the answer to Africa's
crises. Poverty must be tackled first before democracy is
instituted. Much has been promised in the way of
humanitarian aid. However, a lack of a cohesive leadership
has hampered the smooth transition from underdeveloped to
developed status in much the same manner as South Korea

There is a certain irony in the fact that in the 1950s-60s
African-American leaders such W E B DuBois, Malcolm X and
Martin Luther King came to Africa in search of inspiration
in the struggle against racism and imperialism, whereas
Obama came to exhort Africans to follow a US- inspired
political agenda. True, much has changed in the past half
century, but for the better? This is what Obama would have
us Africans believe.


Tuesday, 21 July 2009


[Brother Huey Newton]

The Women's Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements

Speech given by Huey Newton, founder of the Black Panthers,
August 15, 1970

History is a Weapon

During the past few years strong movements have developed
among women and among homosexuals seeking their liberation.

There has been some uncertainty about how to relate to
these movements. Whatever your personal opinions and your
insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation
movements among homosexuals and women (and I speak of the
homosexuals and women as oppressed groups), we should try
to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion. I say
"whatever your insecurities are" because as we very well
know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a
homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We
want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid
that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the women
or shut her up because we are afraid that she might
castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to
start with.

We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have
respect and feelings for all oppressed people. We must not
use the racist attitude that the White racists use against
our people because they are Black and poor. Many times the
poorest White person is the most racist because he is
afraid that he might lose something, or discover something
that he does not have. So you're some kind of a threat to
him. This kind of psychology is in operation when we view
oppressed people and we are angry with them because of
their particular kind of behavior, or their particular kind
of deviation from the established norm.

Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value
system; we are only in the process of establishing it. I do
not remember our ever constituting any value that said that
a revolutionary must say offensive things towards
homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that
women do not speak out about their own particular kind of
oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite:
we say that we recognize the women's right to be free. We
have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must
relate to the homosexual movement because it is a real
thing. And I know through reading, and through my life
experience and observations that homosexuals are not given
freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be
the most oppresed people in the society.

[Kima, character in The Wire who happens to be gay]

And what made them homosexual? Perhaps it's a phenomenon
that I don't understand entirely. Some people say that it
is the decadence of capitalism. I don't know if that is the
case; I rather doubt it. But whatever the case is, we know
that homosexuality is a fact that exists, and we must
understand it in its purest form: that is, a person should
have the freedom to use his body in whatever way he wants.

That is not endorsing things in homosexuality that we
wouldn't view as revolutionary. But there is nothing to say
that a homosexual cannot also be a revolutionary. And maybe
I'm now injecting some of my prejudice by saying that "even
a homosexual can be a revolutionary." Quite the contrary,
maybe a homosexual could be the most revolutionary.

When we have revolutionary conferences, rallies, and
demonstrations, there should be full participation of the
gay liberation movement and the women's liberation
movement. Some groups might be more revolutionary than
others. We should not use the actions of a few to say that
they are all reactionary or counterrevolutionary, because
they are not.

We should deal with the factions just as we deal with any
other group or party that claims to be revolutionary. We
should try to judge, somehow, whether they are operating in
a sincere revolutionary fashion and from a really oppressed
situation. (And we will grant that if they are women they
are probably oppressed.) If they do things that are
unrevolutionary or counterrevolutionary, then criticize
that action. If we feel that the group in spirit means to
be revolutionary in practice, but they make mistakes in
interpretation of the revolutionary philosophy, or they do
not understand the dialectics of the social forces in
operation, we should criticize that and not criticize them
because they are women trying to be free. And the same is
true for homosexuals. We should never say a whole movement
is dishonest when in fact they are trying to be honest.
They are just making honest mistakes. Friends are allowed
to make mistakes. The enemy is not allowed to make mistakes
because his whole existence is a mistake, and we suffer
from it. But the women's liberation front and gay
liberation front are our friends, they are our potential
allies, and we need as many allies as possible.

We should be willing to discuss the insecurities that many
people have about homosexuality. When I say "insecurities,"
I mean the fear that they are some kind of threat to our
manhood. I can understand this fear. Because of the long
conditioning process which builds insecurity in the
American male, homosexuality might produce certain hang-ups
in us. I have hang-ups myself about male homosexuality. But
on the other hand, I have no hang-up about female
homosexuality. And that is a phenomenon in itself. I think
it is probably because male homosexuality is a threat to me
and female homosexuality is not.

We should be careful about using those terms that might
turn our friends off. The terms "faggot" and "punk" should
be deleted from our vocabulary, and especially we should
not attach names normally designed for homosexuals to men
who are enemies of the people, such as Nixon or Mitchell.
Homosexuals are not enemies of the people.

We should try to form a working coalition with the gay
liberation and women's liberation groups. We must always
handle social forces in the most appropriate manner.

[Another character from The Wire -Omar - who happens to also be gay]

Monday, 20 July 2009


The Sauce

A former winner of the Miss England competition has condemned the pageant as "the worst experience of my life".

Eleanor Mary Anne Glynn, 23, from Oxford, won the national beauty contest in 2006 and went on to represent England at Miss World in Poland.

While still holding the title of Miss England she campaigned to end size zero at London Fashion Week - and has now attacked the contest.

She said: "I very much got dragged into it [because I was] young and naive.The organisers know this will happen.

"My family forked out god knows how much over the year. And I got in a huge amount of debt - money which slithers into the owners nice warm pockets by exploiting young women.

"[This was] the worst experience of my life [and I] bloody hated it - and that's not because I didn't win. In fact I'm glad I didn't. Unfortunately you're programmed to tell the world how great it is."

She wrote on a Facebook group: 'So now I'm off to Uni to progress with my real career. I plan to stay as far away from the competitions as possible and continue with my studies.

'They wont be duping me again. And I wouldn't advise anyone to enter one or let them use my name to front one.'

Hundreds of feminists are expected to protest at the Miss England at the Hilton Hotel on London's Edgware Road today.

Saturday, 18 July 2009


New Threat By French Staff To Bomb Factory

Sky News Friday, July 17

Construction firm JLG which makes platforms for cranes,
wanted to lay off 43 workers.

Staff responded by placing four cranes worth £216,000 in a
car park, and surrounding them with gas canisters and

The firm caved into the demands and agreed to give each
worker £26,000 euros in compensation.

"It's a shame that we reached this point. If management had
wanted, we could have avoided this tough conflict," said
union representative Christian Amadio.

It is the third time French workers have threatened to
stage bomb attacks against their employers.

Earlier this week staff at Nortel obtained an agreement in
principle to resolve a dispute over severance pay by
stacking gas canisters in the company' factory in

They were asking for £90,000 each in addition to their
standard pay-offs.

And sacked car workers are threatening to blow up the New
Fabris' plant in Chatellerault unless they get improved
redundancy pay.

The 336 employees have been occupying the car plant, which
makes Renault and Peugeot parts, since it went bust a month

The threats mark a new escalation in tactics used by
disgruntled French workers after a spate of "bossnappings"
earlier in the year in which managers were detained on
company premises.

Despite talking tough, the government has been unwilling to
send in police to help resolve the disputes.

Thursday, 16 July 2009


Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi

Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi

Non-Aligned Movement calls for new economic system

Tom Mellen
Morning Star

Cuban President Raul Castro kicked off the 15th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Egypt yesterday by calling for a global financial system "that doesn't depend on the economic stability of only one country."

Mr Castro said that "as usual, the wealthy countries were the source of the current crisis.

"The illogic of an international economic order that depends on blind market principles and consumption and wealth of the few."

The veteran revolutionary leader called for "the creation of a new international financial and economic structure that is based on actual participation of all states and especially developing states."

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was elected by acclamation as chairman of the summit, echoed Mr Castro's comments.

Mr Mubarak said that a "more equitable and balanced order" would "prevent discrimination and double standards and establish democratic dealings between rich and poor states."

The summit's draft declaration calls for the group to co-ordinate with China, which is attending the summit as an observer, to ensure that developing states have a greater say at international financial institutions like the US-dominated International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi called for the UN security council to be democratised in order to enhance the prospects of world peace and told the summit that he will demand a seat for the African Union.

"The security council is terrorism. It does not represent us and it is monopolised by a few countries, which represents a danger toward international peace," he argued.

Belarus, the sole European member of the movement, urged relatively developed NAM countries to facilitate the transfer of affordable clean energy technology to poorer states on favourable terms.

NAM leaders have welcomed Belarus's proposal to establish an international centre and a database for transferring advanced technology and a multilateral fund to finance its development, transfer and application.

Founded in September 1961, NAM now unites 118 member states, 16 observer countries and nine observer organisations.

According to the Havana Declaration of 1979, the movement, which represents nearly two-thirds of UN member states, exists to ensure "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries" in their "struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics."


Wednesday, 15 July 2009


[picture courtesy of Louise Jerfferson]

Sinn Fein re-opens debate on Irish unity in Parliament

Sukant Chandan
Sons of Malcolm
15th July 2009

On the evening of Tuesday 14th July the Grand Committee
Room in Parliament was packed for a public meeting
addressed by Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew MP the Northern
Ireland Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, and
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams MP. The meeting sought to
re-open the debate as to how the Irish Diaspora and the
allies of Irish reunification in Britain can support the
process to a united Ireland.

Chair of the meeting Diane Abbott MP welcomed everyone
including some half dozen MPs and the Irish Ambassador.
Diane Abbott talked of how the Irish freedom struggle was a
defining struggle against colonialism, and that this
struggle raised many issues such as the combination of
nationalist and progressive politics, the issue of armed
struggle, the nature of British Imperialism and the
struggle for civil rights.

Michelle Gildernew spoke of how much of an impact the
struggle of Bobby Sands had on her and so many other people
especially through the huger strikes and his election to
Westminster to which Thatcher and the British government
reacted with contempt and criminalisation. Michelle
Gildernew then went on to explain her responsibilities as
Agricultural and Rural Development Minister, and how on
many levels Irish unity is the only sensible option for
farmers in the Six Counties and Twenty-Six counties. One
such example that was given was the foot and mouth outbreak
which as a new minister Ms Gildernew she helped to ensure
that Irish farmers were not effected by the outbreak and
were able to continue their business with mainland Europe,
and all of this only six weeks into her ministerial job.

Gerry Adams explained that the 'new republic' which Sinn
Fein envisages for Ireland is one which is built upon the
principles of the 1916 Easter Uprising proclamation, a new
republic whereby cultural diversity is welcomes and where
there is social, cultural and political justice. Gerry
Adams called for a new relationship between the peoples of
these islands, and suggested that Scotland may very well
see it's independence before Ireland does but "that's all
good". This last comment raised a little concern amongst
some Labour MPs in the meeting; Diane Abbott addressed this
issue by reminding people that Alex Salmond and the SNP
have contributed to breaking down English opposition to the
dissolution of the Union which relates positively to the
Irish question.

Gerry Adams went on to state that the internationally
binding Good Friday Agreement is the peaceful and
legislative means by which Irish unity can be met, but that
this process is far from inevitable while at the same time
it is a realistic goal and something which can be achieved
in this generation with hard work and struggle. Gerry Adams
reminded people that it is up to the people of England,
Wales and Scotland to work out how they could support Irish
unity, and up to the people of Ireland to chart their own
way to this goal and that 'no conditions should be put on a
peoples struggle for freedom'.

In the questions and answers session several people raised
concerns over what will be the ramifications on Irish
solidarity in Britain after the next general election
whereby Labour may lose to the Tories. Gerry Adams replied
that as far as Sinn Fein are concerned, they will do all
that they can to build the movement to this aim and are
experienced in dealing with British governments of whatever
political party at the helm as what British government's
always have in common is that they have all been unionists.

It is the challenge for those who support an end to British
rule in Ireland to chart how we in England, Scotland and
Wales can contribute to building a new progressive
relationship between the nations and peoples of these


China doubles down in Africa

By Peter Lee
Asia Times Online

"Obama to Africa: Drop Dead," echoing the famous admonition
of president Gerald Ford to a cash-strapped New York City
in the 1970s, was, for all practical purposes, the message
the American president delivered to the African continent
in Ghana on Saturday. Barack Obama, mindful of the shaky
United States domestic constituency even for the bailout of
the American economy, and loath to display favoritism to
his father's home continent, decided against investing any
political capital in a call to provide significant amounts
of assistance to sub-Saharan Africa during the current
global recession.

His rather empty declaration, "We must start from the
simple premise that Africa's future is up to Africans,"
provided little consolation or inspiration for the poorer
nations of Africa, which are reeling from the balance-of-
payments, aid, investment and developmental consequences
of the West's catastrophic exploration of the extremes of
sophisticated financial leverage.

Obama's speech was also a remarkably cynical piece of
diplomatic triage, given what is widely recognized to be
the genuine state of economic affairs on the African

However, China appears to have made a strategic decision to
funnel in more aid and investment, as the West struggles
with the consequences of the global recession and fights a
losing battle to focus on Africa's needs for aid, trade and

For Africa, it couldn't come at a better time.

Even before the current crisis, with optimistic pre-crash
assumptions about exports, inward remittances, financial
reform and reduced capital flight, the United Nations
estimated that sub-Saharan Africa would need tens of
billions of dollars per annum in external funding if it
were to make any headway in its struggle to alleviate
widespread poverty.

Post-crisis, the African Development Bank projects that the
continent's exports will drop a staggering 40% by 2010
compared to pre-crisis projections. This shortfall, a loss
of a quarter trillion dollars in revenues, will throw the
aggregate current account into deficit, create a dire food
and fuel import crisis for cash-strapped countries and put
paid to the idea of servicing any normal external debt for
infrastructure construction.

Therefore, much of the perhaps US$50 billion in
infrastructure investment needed per annum to sustain
Africa's economic growth will have to come from outside in
the form of investment or aid.

However, the message in the alphabet soup of international
finance is not encouraging: Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
and Official Development Aid (ODA), at least from the
Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for
Economic Co-Operation and Development, will not be
forthcoming in significant amounts.

ODA to SSA (sub-Saharan Africa) peaked at $22.5 billion in
2008 and is expected to drop by 15-20% in 2009; forget
about achieving the growth targets announced at the Group
of Eight summit at Gleneagles in 2005.

FDI to SSA looks like it's DOA; it reached $30.6 billion in
2008 but is going way down and nobody knows how far; a
recent estimate pegs the decline in FDI to all emerging
markets at a colossal 60% as commercial banks pull in their

Foreign remittances to the continent - a staple of many
African economies - are expected to drop by a third from
pre-crisis levels of roughly $10 billion per annum.

If billions in desperately needed investment and aid for
Africa is going to materialize in the next two years, it
looks like it will have to come from the BRIC countries
(Brazil, Russia, India and China).

And China is ready to step up.

Since the crisis began, China has announced its intentions
to maintain its existing levels of aid to Africa, promoted
its $1 billion mini development bank, the China-Africa
Development Fund, and sent the Industrial and Commercial
Bank of China - its designated investment bank for Africa
and the 20% partner (at the tune of US$6 billion) in South
Africa's Standard Bank - on the road to look for investable

More notable, China has undertaken significant
post-recession initiatives to advance its interests on the
continent through government-to-government resources,
infrastructure and financial mega-deals.

In recent months, Beijing has taken major steps to secure
its relationships with Zimbabwe, Uganda, the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Zambia, Angola and Botswana.

Its only conspicuous setback to date appears to be a train
wreck of a deal in Nigeria - a $3 billion modernization of
the Lagos-Kano railroad line that mysteriously acquired a
price tag of $8.5 billion under the presidency of Olusegun
Obasanjo and attracted the unfavorable scrutiny of the
incoming administration this year ... and that deal may
even go ahead in a truncated form.

China's willingness to finance resource and infrastructure
projects without the nagging conditions demanded by the
West is well known - and often derided as a willingness to
"deal with dictators". The German government decided to
make that point to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni during
his recent state visit.

In what might be a sign of changing times, Museveni decided
not only to make his disagreement known during the visit;
he publicized his views in a press release on June 17.

In the follow-up entitled "China is not a threat to Africa
- Museveni", the Ugandan media painted an amusing picture
of the Chinese bankers doing everything short of joining
the Ugandan president on the plane to Berlin to demonstrate
their eagerness to cooperate:

[Germany's President Horst] Kohler observed that Africa had
opened its doors wide for Chinese investments because the
Beijing authorities do not put conditions in terms of
democracy or human rights.

Museveni, accompanied by the First Lady, Janet, said unlike
in colonial times, African leaders have identified their
priorities and are capable of protecting the continent's

"Therefore, no power can exploit Africa," a press release
from the State House quoted him.

Kohler's remarks come two days after the Industrial and
Commercial Bank of China expressed interest in building an
oil refinery and pipeline in Uganda. Meeting Museveni at
Entebbe Airport just before his departure for Germany, the
Chinese bank's chairperson also said they were keen on
constructing hydro-power stations and transmission lines.

On July 6, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the target
of Western outrage for his inflationary, power-grabbing
ways, was gratified by China's unconditional extension of a
$950 million credit tranche, even as the United States was
seeking to embarrass and isolate his regime and channel
economic aid directly to [non-governmental organizations]

The Chinese package, the president said, was well meant as
it was coming to the government not NGOs, to assist in
national development and economic revival.

"That is the kind of help we would want to get, and not the
Western dictates," he said.

The president said Western countries never give the
developing world development funds that promote economic
growth and prosperity as that would put them at par with
the West and negate grounds for dominance.

"There is no funding with an investment capacity from the
West that will enable us to move from primary agriculture
to secondary stages of development. They do not want us,
the West, to be that. They do not want us to be their
equals, they enjoy being masters over us and this is what
Zimbabwe rejects," he added.

What is striking about the Chinese experience in Africa is
that it is beginning to look like engagement, and not
simply exploitation. To a significant extent, it is driven
by Beijing's need to deal both with the fallout of the
global recession, and the political and economic
consequences of its push into Africa.

With the collapse in commodity prices, many Chinese
investors who are either fly-by-night or profit-driven,
depending on your point of view - and helped power the
Chinese investment push into Africa in flush times - have
literally disappeared, as the Financial Times reported in
February 2009:

More than 40 Chinese-run copper smelters are standing idle
in the Democratic Republic of Congo after their owners fled
the country without paying taxes or compensating staff at
the end of the commodity boom…

The abrupt downturn has released resentment over the
conduct of some Chinese businesses in Africa, where hard
bargaining and a lack of warmth towards local people won
them few friends.

"Some serious companies remain with metallurgical plants. I
don't have any problem with them. But they are 10% of the
Chinese who were here. Ninety percent have gone," [Governor
of Katanga Province] Mr Katumbi said, dismissing them as

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (previously Zaire), the
Chinese government is not counting on Chinese speculators
to manage its relationship with the DRC's copper industry.

Instead it has pinned its hopes on perhaps its biggest
strategic investment on the continent: a $9 billion project
designed both to produce copper and rebuild the DRC's
war-shattered infrastructure.

The International Monetary Fund, egged on by the United
States, is demanding a renegotiation of the project on the
grounds (which the Chinese deny) that the financing
increases the DRC's sovereign debt.

Fortunately for China, the DRC - which currently has only
enough foreign exchange on hand for a few weeks of import
cover - is maintaining its enthusiasm for the proposed

However, neighboring Zambia, which shares in the immense
bounty of copper ore crossing the southern Congo, presents
a greater challenge for the traditional Chinese way of
doing things in Africa.

The wake-up call for China probably came in 2007, during
the flush years of the commodity boom, when China's
President Hu Jintao was met by protesters in Zambia's
capital of Lusaka, and the government cancelled a trip to a
China-run copper mine at

Chambeshi to spare him the embarrassment of further

For several years, anti-Chinese sentiment has been central
to Zambian opposition leader Michael Sata's electoral

A July 2008 report quoted Sata as follows:

"It is not only Zambia - it's all Cape to Cairo where the
Chinaman is," Sata says. "That's the way they look at us.
They have no regard for us. They have no regard for our
independence. They have no regard for any black person as a
human being. Those are very abnormal conditions, very
abnormal conditions. Very abnormal conditions, which a
civilized society, in this century, cannot accept."

Sata came to the United States to play the human-rights and
democracy card at Harvard, and also threatened to play the
nearly-defunct Taiwan card:

"…the Patriotic Front in Zambia finds it more prudent to
cultivate relations with Taiwan, a democracy and a more
advanced country than China, which can provide high quality
investment and more equitable trading opportunities."

Sata's provocative stance on Taiwan prompted China to make
an exception to its principle of non-interference in local
politics and state. In 2006 there was a chance of severing
relations if Sata was elected.

China is acutely aware that Sata may gain the presidency in
his fourth try, in 2011, and that his defeat in 2006
occasioned anti-Chinese looting and rioting in one of
Sata's electoral strongholds, the capital of Lusaka.

In the midst of the recession - and undoubtedly at the
prodding of President Hu, who is accustomed to very
friendly and deferential welcomes in African capitals -
China has stepped up its efforts to repair the damage and
ingratiate itself with public opinion in Zambia.

Beijing is confronting two hot-button issues for Sata's
base: domination of the domestic textile and garment trade
by Chinese traders and imports, and Chinese abuses in the
Copperbelt, where a combination of generally miserable
working conditions, violent and at times deadly
union-busting at the China-run Chambeshi mine and Sata's
demagoguery have created a toxic atmosphere of resentment
and labor unrest.

A conspicuous political albatross for the pro-Chinese
ruling party has been the closure of the Zambia-China
Mulungushi Textiles enterprise. Originally a symbol of
state-run benevolence, the Chinese interest was turned over
to the Qingdao Textile Corporation in 1997 and run along
time-tested sweatshop principles, including demanding,
abusive managers who locked the employees into the plant at

The plant closed in 2006 amid intense rancor and resentment
against the Chinese management and turned into a symbol of
the Zambian government's unwillingness to protect Zambians
against Chinese exploitation.

In March 2009, Zambia's defense minister (the Ministry of
Defense holds Zambia's interest in the plant) announced
that China and Zambia were jointly studying the re-opening
of the plant and the expected creation of 2,500 presumably
desirable jobs:

"The team of experts have so far captured a comprehensive
factor of what we need to ensure the company is back into
serious business and further strengthened. For us as
government this is a significant development," said Mr
[George] Mpombo.

The defense minister pointed out that Zambia and China
would like to ensure the company is utilized to its full

"For the last two years there have been serious hiccups in
operations and a yawning capacity of that company. That
company has the capacity to export and do miracles for the
country," said Mr Mpombo.

Furthermore, on June 25, it was announced that China
Non-Ferrous Metal Corporation would take over operation of
the Luanshya Copper Mine, which had been shuttered due to
low global copper prices.

The Zambian government was quite frank about the political
background to the transaction:

Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Maxwell Mwale
said at the official handover in Zambia's Luanshya District
on the Copperbelt province that the coming of a new
investor was an indication that the government was
committed to bringing development to the district because
the closure of the mine was turned into a political

China bid $50 million for the controlling foreign interest
in the mine, and promised $400 million in investment,
including the seemingly mandatory hospital, school and
sports facilities infrastructure outlays.

It appears that China's posture in Zambia has quickly
evolved from old-style socialist solidarity to unfettered
Wild West capitalism run by entrepreneurial Chinese
enterprises to adult supervision - strategic engagement
directed by the Chinese government.

It remains to be seen if Beijing's public relations and
financial efforts are enough to stem the Sata tide in 2011.

China also displayed its commitment to strategic engagement
in Angola, site of its most conspicuous triumph in its post
9/11 drive into Africa.

The basic objective of the $6 billion
oil-for-infrastructure deal has been met; as Angola has
joined Saudi Arabia and Iran as one of China's three
biggest suppliers of crude.

The notoriously independent and prickly Angolan government
is determined to keep channels to the West open, and
recently denied China's Sinopec petrochemical corporation
the opportunity to invest in an $8 billion new refinery at
Lobito; instead Angola decided to come up with the money
itself and give the design and build contracts to former US
vice president Dick Cheney's old outfit, KBR.

Nevertheless, since the global recession and the drop in
international oil prices has punched a hole in Angola's
balance sheet, China has stepped forward with new credits:
$1 billion from its Export-Import Bank in December 2008,
and another $1 billion from the China Development Bank in
March of this year.

Additionally, China purchased almost one million barrels of
oil from Angola for its strategic petroleum reserve, which
can be interpreted simultaneously as an opportunistic move
to take advantage of low prices, an attempt to find a
better home for its bloated forex reserves than US T-bills,
and an expansion of oil imports in tough times that Angola
would appreciate.

Nancy Corkin of South Africa's Center for Chinese Studies
at Stellenbosch University writes in the March 2009 China
Monitor that the new credit appears to illustrate Beijing's
efforts to develop policy-driven engagement with Angola
beyond the narrower self-interest that drove the original
oil-backed loans:

"The size of the loans and the eagerness of several Chinese
financial institutions to lend to Angola signify the
strategic importance with which Beijing views Luanda as
Chinese banks vie to engage with Angola to curry favor with
the Chinese State Council."

In a sign that China is interested in promoting indigenous
financial development and integration, and not just writing
checks to interested governments, on June 16 the
ICBC/Standard Bank joint venture concluded the largest
Chinese investment banking transaction to date in Africa -
an $825 million loan (plus $140 million in bridge
financing) to finance the expansion of Botswana's Marupule
power station.

Not unsurprisingly, supply and build for the project will
be handled by China National Electric Equipment

Jiang Jianqing, the president of ICBC - which now bills
itself as the largest bank in the world in terms of market
capitalization - flew out from Beijing for the signing
ceremony to emphasize that China was open for business to
Africa in these tough times:

"Africa is a huge market with massive potential," Jianqing
said. "Africa needs urgent foreign investment, especially
after the impact of the global crisis, so we will look at
more projects to invest [in]."

"The financing of the Morupule B Power Station is just one
of 65 projects that the ICBC is currently funding on the
African continent and is evidence of China's strong
appetite for African investment opportunities," said Jiang.

Hu Jintao's 2009 tour of Africa - which covered the
distinctly non-strategic states of Senegal, Mali, Tanzania
and Mauritius - was apparently designed to demonstrate that
China was not just in Africa for the oil, cobalt and
copper, as Peking University's Zha Daojiang told Reuters:

"The itinerary appears intended to show that we treat all
the African countries, big and small, equally," said Zha.
"There's also the implicit message that China's
relationship with Africa isn't solely defined by resource
and energy investments."

It appears that China hopes to emerge from the global
recession not only with its economic standing intact; it
intends to enhance its position and present itself in
Africa as the responsible, perhaps indispensable
stakeholder that the West has claimed to yearn for but is
perhaps not anxious to see materialize.

Peter Lee writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US foreign policy.


July 4, 2009

The Lines of Chávez

ALBA and the Hour of the Furnaces

Ven-Global News

Today is July 5th, the most significant and patriotic
meaning: 198 years of our Declaration of Independence. On
July 5th, 1811, a historical and decisive rupture occurred.
And what a decisive rupture: our absolute independence was
proclaimed, thus giving birth to our first Republic and the
National state.

It was a rupture with a clear political meaning that had
already been announced on April 19th, 1810.

The spirit of such a rupture was embodied, on the path
towards July 5th, by the revolutionary Patriotic Society,
whose continuous agitating activities and consequent
pressure on our First Congress radicalize things. The
flaming words of Miranda, Bolívar, Ribas, Coto Paúl gave
impetus to the independence cause.

It was a rupture promoted and led by a small group of
Creole. The First Republic lacked the peoples balm. But it
does not diminished, of course, the importance of the year

By the way, it is necessary to pay attention to this lucid
and passionate reflection of Augusto Mijares: "The truth
complete truth is that Venezuela anticipated to give a
legal foundation to its revolution with the same vehemence
it showed later to defend it."

I want to highlight the deep meaning of this date as
reflected by the last verse of a song that became popular
in the streets of Caracas in 1911: "United by bonds/made by
heaven/all America exists as a nation." The feeling of a
whole nation.

The Constitution of 1811, the first of Our America,
established that its precepts were inviolable. But, and
this is important, it was possible to "alter and move these
resolutions according to most of the people of Colombia
wanting to gather in a national body to defend and preserve
their freedom and independence." Colombia: there is the
hand of Miranda. That is to say, Venezuela understood its
existence as a free. sovereign and independent nation
inside a bigger unity, just as we understand it today, thus
resulting in the Bolivarian Alliance ALBA, in UNASUR. Only
united we will be independent! Today is the day of the
Bolivarian Armed Force. I send, through my words, the
testimony of a grateful people that today knows that the
arms of the Republic belong to them. It is a recognition
given to the people by the people: the Day of the
Bolivarian Armed Force if today the Day of the People in

On this great day, I invite the Venezuelan soldiers to
reflect: Look at yourselves in the painful mirror of
Honduras. See the enormous difference between an Armed
Force fraternally united to its people, as people in arms,
and a military force that has been turned into an occupying
army inside its own country and at the service of the
bourgeoisie without Homeland, but with masters in the

The union of Our America becomes stronger, gains momentum
in the concert of nations and takes off the ground with a
liberating fly.

The neo-fascist blow of a group of military gorillas
against President Zelaya... We have to think it over under
the following factor: They want to make the Honduran
government pay for its incorporation into the ALBA, its
identification with those who aspire to have a world with
more dignity and justice; they want to close the doors of a
new history and get with their dark privileges out of the

But in their blindness, they do not realize that they are
trapped by a fatal anachronism and a total lack of
historical sense.

It has been told, as it is true, that the Honduran coup d
État goes against what is embodied by these four letters:
ALBA. The Bolivarian Alliance is not only a historical
urgency, but the inexorable way to face the structural
crisis of capitalism; therefore, it is the unifying tool
with the highest political will when acting in favor of the
unity of our America, which can not be put off.

Thats the reason why they seek to attack, as I have said,
its weakest flank.

Thats the exact reason why the most sickening wing of the
Honduran society, with arms, woke up with a party. With a
stink of powder and arrogance, they believed that they
could break a peoples hope.

But the feeling of the people can not be hidden when they
have decided to be free. The desire for transformation is
felt in the Honduran air; thats the reason why we see on
the TV screens soldiers chasing a ghostly enemy: the
gorillas have ordered them to sow terror because they fear
the people.

These traitors to the homeland will never be able to
understand the sacred fire of Morazan. His yesterdays
accusing words are aimed today against them and everything
they represent. "You men who have violated the most sacred
rights of the people due to your sordid and selfish
interest, I am talking to you, enemies of the independence
and liberty."

Lets recall, in the midst of this battle for the
independence, the voice of young Colonel Simón Bolívar in
his memorable public speech on July 3rd, 1811 in the
Patriotic Society: "Hesitating will make us get lost."

"It is the hour of furnaces," said Martí.

It is the hour of the peoples! It is the hour of the
future! With no hesitation, we will defeat!

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías / July 5th, 2009

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


The universal theology of Liberation:
Views from Muslim history

22 July 2009

Talk and Q&A with Dr. Mohamad Nasrin Nasir and Dr. Daud Abdullah.
With a set by performance poet ‘Truthseeker’

Wednesday 22 July 2009
6.00 – 8.30p.m.

Programme starts with light buffet, tea and coffee
The Library, Islamic Centre of England, 140 Maida Vale, London, W9

Entry is free

Profiles of speakers

Dr. Nasir
is a colleague from Malaysia. His research interests include the spread of the Ibn al-‘Arabi school to southeast Asia, Malay Sufism, Islamic thought in general and the school of Mulla Sadra in particular. He is a co-editor of Palestine Internationalist which is a web based journal focusing on Palestinian affairs. He was formerly Head of the MPW Department at University College Sedaya International in Kuala Lumpur. The Department was responsible for teaching philosophy of Morals as well as Islamic studies and Malaysian Studies. He is also part of the academic staff at the Islamic College for Advanced Studies in the UK.

Dr. Daud Abdullah
is senior researcher at the Palestinian Return Centre ( based in London, UK, and is a well known writer and activist on issues pertaining to Palestine. He is author of A History of Palestinian Resistance, and lectures in Islamic Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Monday, 13 July 2009



International anti-imperialist unity of all oppressed and exploited peoples is the only way to a more progressive future. Militancy plus internationalism is a unstoppable force; vigilance and opposition against racists and the far-right. And how long until 'anti-terror' laws are used against those fighting for their friends and families like these French workers? - Sons of Malcolm


Workers at collapsed French car parts maker New Fabris threatened on Sunday to blow up their factory if they did not receive payouts by July 31 from auto groups Renault and Peugeot to compensate for their lost jobs.

New Fabris was declared to be in liquidation in April, so the 366 workers stand to get no redundancy money, although they are entitled to draw state unemployment benefit.

90% of the work at the factory is for Renault SA and PSA Peugeot Citroen and the workers have demanded that the companies finance a payment of 30,000 euros ($41,800) for each of the 336 staff at the factory, or some 10 million euros in total. PSA and Renault recently funded redundancy packages for 200 workers at another subcontractor, Rencast.

Workers are claiming that there are two million euros worth of parts in the factory and a brand new machine belonging to Renault of similar value. They are threatening to blow up these parts and equipment if they do not receive an acceptable redundancy package.

"The bottles of gas have already been placed at various parts of the factory and are connected with each other," CGT trades union official Guy Eyermann told France Info radio.

"We won't let PSA and Renault wait for August or September to pick up their stock and machinery... If we get nothing then they won't get anything at all." he continued.

A delegation of 150 workers visited PSA headquarters last week and workers have a meeting on Thursday with Renault and at the ministry of employment on Monday. Police also declined to comment on the threat by the workers, who are occupying the New Fabris factory at Chatellerault, near Poitiers in central France.

PSA have released a statement stating their willingness to purchase the parts within the factory but refusing to accept responsibility for the workers. Renault's statement claims that they have been trying to help the company find a buyer as a going concern but that this has not been possible.

The company is the successor to Fabris, founded in 1947 and put into liquidiation in 2007. After liquidation the firm was acquired by ZEN of Italy which retained 380 of the 416 staff.ZEN SpA, based in Albignasego near Padua, makes cast iron parts for vehicles. Florindo Garro, head of ZEN, controls other metal firms in France such as Rencast and SBFM that are also having financial difficulties.

Some French workers have adopted militant tactics in the economic crisis, including "bossnappings" where managers have been held hostage in their offices.

Sunday, 12 July 2009



I am currently reading Jenny Clegg’s brilliant new book “China’s Global Strategy – Towards a Multi-Polar world”, and I will write a review shortly.

One of the excellent points that Jenny makes is that the absence of substantive discussion in the West about China’s historical background, its actual level of development, and the difficulties of ruling such a vast country, then Sinophobic mythology has built up that draws more heavily on “Yellow Peril” images from the colonial era than it does on the reality of modern China. What is more, many from the Western left either do not counter this Sinophobia, or actually collude in it.

Louis Proyect’s recent article is a frankly disgraceful example, but rather than exchange a polemic with Louis, let us refute his arguments by looking at the concrete situation today in Xinjiang province.

The Sinophobic reading of the situation there seems to be that the Chinese government are Han chauvinists, suppressing national minorities, persecuting the Islamic religion, and seeking to swamp Xinjiang with Han settlers. But this analysis simply doesn’t accord with the facts.

Firstly, historically the Chinese state has not been built on ethnicity, but on a Mandarin speaking civil bureaucracy, where Mandarin provided a lingua franca for an ethnically, socially, religiously and linguistically diverse society. Secondly, since the Communist party of China coming to power in 1949, they introduced a nationalities policy that created certain rights and privileges for minorities that met the criteria – for example the right to promote their own language, and in modern China, the very significant complete exemption from the one child policy.

Islam is not in any way persecuted or repressed in modern China. Nowadays in China there are ten national minorities, including the Hui and Uyghur, with a total population of 18 million, whose faith is Islam. There are some 30,000 mosques served by 40,000 Imams and Akhunds. Islamic Association of China is an independent organisation promoting the interests of Muslims. Islamic organisations in China run their own affairs independently and can set up religious schools, publish religious texts and periodicals, and run social and welfare services.

Article 36 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China protects freedom of religious belief as a basic right enjoyed by all citizens, and religious institutions enjoy the rights to own and dispose of property, and to proselytise. Currently Buddhism is enjoying a major revival across China, without any government interference.

It is true that during the Cultural Revolution, there was repression and oppression of all religious faiths – but this has been consciously reversed for thirty years now – and most significantly, the campaign against religious institutions was much more moderate in the Autonomous Regions, like Xinjiang and Tibet than in the main urban centres.

The Hui national minority, who are Muslim, often Turkic peoples, but who speak Mandarin, are integrated into every aspect of life in the People’s republic, and have often played prominent roles, for example Hui Liangyu was Vice President. It is interesting that systematic racist attacks against Hui have characterised both the riots in Tibet last year, and the recent violence by Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

Xinjiang has been part of China since the mid eighteenth century, when its main significance as a poorly populated mainly nomadic region was as part of the land-route between the Middle Kingdom and Europe. The urban centres were built by the Chinese, while the indigenous population were rural, ethnically diverse and often nomadic.

During the early part of the twentieth century, when China was dismembered by colonialists, and invaded by the Japanese Empire, Xinjiang fell under the sway of the warlord Sheng Shicai, (who really was a Han chauvinist, suppressing the Uyghur and Kazakh peoples).

There was a short lived Soviet republic between 1944 and 1949, also known as the Three Districts Rebellion, that reacted to the chauvinism of Sheng’s warlord regime by seeking to drive the Chinese out altogether, but this republic was concentrated in the Kazakh parts of Xinjiang, while the Uyghurs were predominatently under the rule of the Chinese nationalist KMT. The existence of this mini-state was also only possible as the USSR supported it as a buffer between themselves and the Japanese.

In 1949 the East Turkestan Republic agreed to join the People’s republic – somewhat pressurised by Stalin who is believed to have assassinated their government leaders, and the KMT ruled parts of Xinjiang surrendered to the People’s Liberation Army.

The importance of this background is to understand that there is no modern history of a Uyghur nation state, the relative autonomy of Xinjiang can only be understood as the unravelling of stable government under the colonialist onslaught of China, and the rise of warlordism. Xinjiang has always been linguistically and culturally diverse, and the modernisation and urbanisation of the region has occurred entirely within the context of Chinese rule, and Han and Hui have always formed a large part of the urban population. It is not at all uncommon in pre-industrial societies to find the urban centres and the surrounding countryside having different languages and cultures, and in the case of the Chinese Empire the two were united under a Mandarin speaking bureaucratic class.

We need to be very cautious of Uyghur nationalist organisations mythologizing a fictitious pseudo-history of themselves as an oppressed nation. Most obviously, if there was any real intention to swamp the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, then the PRC would not exempt them from the one child policy while enforcing it for the Han.

The biggest area of misunderstanding relates to the “Go West” policy, formally launched in year 2000 as part of the tenth Five Year plan. This was a victory for the left within the Communist Party, to seek to overcome the growing regional inequality, and direct US$200 billion of capital investment into the underdeveloped Western provinces, including the Autonomous Republics of Xinjiang and Tibet. So for example, the previously very poor region of Tibet has achieved economic growth of 13.4%, and the oil and gas fields of Xinyiang have been opened up by improvements of transport infrastructure, But far from being a “colonialist” asset grab, these have involved a massive transfer of wealth and technology to the poorest regions from the Eastern coastal region.

Han migration has increased in Xinjiang, but whereas the Uyghur peoples mainly live south of the mountains of the Tarim basin, the Han migration has been into the previously largely unpopulated region north of the mountains. For example the Karamay region is almost 80% Han.

A further area of ethnic tension has been experience of those involved in the inward migration of Uyghur peoples to the Eastern coastal region, along with the 150 million other rural migrants, who have been sucked into the black economy, but where linguistic and cultural obstacles, as well as their semi-illegal status, severely disadvantage them. The recent violence seems to have been preceded by rapes and murders, and ethnic tensions in Guangdong.

There has been a longstanding Uyghur nationalist movement, that partly expresses legitimate grievances in ethnic rather than economic terms, for example over rural impoverishment, and the relative disadvantage of rural people as opposed to urban dwellers; the relative disadvantage of Uyghar speakers compared to Mandarin speakers in the job market and for social advancement is also a pressing grievance. But Uyghar nationalism has also been clearly linked with Islamist terrorism, and the desire to separate Xinjiang as an Islamic republic away from the PRC, despite the fact that the Uyghur represent only half the population of Xinjiang.

There have been a series of terrorist incidents, including the racist murders of Han and Hui, attempted suicide bombings on an airliner last year, and riots during the Olympics that left 16 members of the People’s Armed Police dead. Both the Chinese and US governments accuse Uyghur separatists of links with Al Qaeda.

The security crackdown by China in Xinjiang is therefore a decisive attempt to restore order, and prevent racial tensions from further developing. It is necessary to understand the imperative drive for China to achieve economic growth in what is still a developing country, where many people still live on a $1 per day. It is also necessary to understand the great historic achievement of defeating the Japanese, throwing out the colonialists and reuniting China as one country.

The division of China is simply non-negotiable for the government in Beijing, and they are correct in seeing the unity of the republic as an important precondition for their economic and political independence, which is itself necessary for developing and improving the living standards of their 1.3 billion population. But they clearly do need to rethink how the “Go West” policy is in practice impacting on the autonomous regions, where an understandable and commendable desire to pull these Western provinces out of extreme poverty has created the unintended side effect of increasing wealth differentials, and ethnic tensions.


One of the comments arising from this article:

Excellent article Andy.

Much of the negative comments in reponse are not at all surprising. The Sinophobia of the Left in the UK (and the west) frankly reeks of yellow peril racism, but when has the British Left ever done anymore than represnt the ‘revolutionary’ wing of the Foreign Office, when it comes to either the socialist countries or former British colonial subjects - for which China qualifies on both counts.

My partner is a Muslim Hui Chinese woman, deeply patriotic, highly educated and generally supportive of the Communist Party leadership (especially the very popular Wen Jiaboa and Hu Jintao - as you will generally find young Chinese in the UK to be) without considering herself to be at all political.

She comes from a family of practising Muslims (although she herself doesnt practise it), so if it were true that Islam is persecuted in China, you would expect her to have some experience of it. The contrary is the case.

Within her family, most are involved in Higer Education, several family members are professors, others are High School teachers. Two are ranking members of the Ministry for State Security. Another works for the Saudi Embassy (a devout Muslim, he studied in Saudi, his wife is a muslim convert who wears the hijab).
Around half her extended family are members of the Communist Party (bear in mind only around 5-10% of applicants for CP membership are accepted).

Were Muslims and ethnic miinorities discrimiated against by the state, it surely would not be likely that this extended (and not untypical) family of ethnic minority Muslim’s would either want to, or be allowed to have such positions within Higher education and the state security? Or want to or be allowed memberahip in the Communist Party?

They go to Mosque, they eat Halal meat from a Muslim butcher, they celebrate Islamic holidays (for which they get extra time off from work), they get guidance from their Imam, hold family funerals in a Muslim a cemetary and they practise their religion without any intereference from the state whatsoever.

In actual fact, ethnic minorites have special priviliges over the majority Han population. For example, along with the aforementioned extra holidays for religious events, they are not subject to the same rules regarding the one-child policy and get extra points in school leavers exams to help ehtnic minorities get better representation in University.

Whether or not you agree with such ‘positive discrimination’ (which does lead to some resentment amongst some Han), it can hardly be said to be representative of some sort of ethnic oppression, or worse, ‘geneocide’ by the State now can it?

For the Left to be, as usual, tailing after the most reactionary, pro-western elements in a developing socialist country isnt unusual. For them to be championing the lumpen, anti-social perpetuators of muderous racist pogroms is a new level of disgrace though.

That street level racism and prejudice exists in China, as in every society, is without doubt. But to suggest against all the facts that it is encouraged by the central government is just an out and out lie.

I would suggest that perhaps some of those people spouting CWI/SWP or whatever bullshit about China actually try and discuss it with Chinese students and workers in the UK (or whom there are several tens of thousand from many ethnic and cultural/religion backgrounds) and see what they think. I think you will substantially find more often than not, that your patronising and ill-informed attempts to ‘educate’ and ‘liberate’ them from their ‘oppression’ will be about as appreciated as a British gun-boat on the Yanstze.