Archive | June 21st, 2018

Exposing Trump’s lies about Salvadoran migrants

Guerrilla fighter in the Salvadoran civil war. Photo: El Museo de la Palabra e Imagen in San Salvador.

Guerrilla fighter in the Salvadoran civil war. Photo: El Museo de la Palabra e Imagen in San Salvador.


Si hoy por hoy te desvisto

No plagies angustias,

Desnuda tu corazon

Y por tus venas

Bombea libertades”



If I undress you

Do not anguish,

Bare your heart

And pump freedom

Through your veins”

— Leyla Patricia Quintana, nicknamed “Amada Libertad,” was a guerrillera and poet with the Revolutionary People’s Army of El Salvador and died in combat at age 21. This is an excerpt from poem VII in her book “Pueblo.”

My timeline has been flooded with sympathy, love and calls for action for the families being separated on the border. I see  images of children in cages, crying children, masses of people standing in the desert. I also see “El Salvador” flashed in every article shared.

As an activist and organizer, I empathize deeply with the struggles of working people but seeing my fellow Salvis corralled like animals stews a rage within me. There is so much misunderstanding about El Salvador. Growing up, people assumed I was Mexican, and once they heard my family was from El Salvador they either had no idea it was a country or associated me with the MS-13.

Here’s what they didn’t know.

Salvadorans are the fifth largest immigrant group in the U.S. and the second-largest Latinx group, preceded by Mexicans. The Salvadoran civil war and its long-lasting effects have caused this astronomical displacement. Between 1979 and 1992, the span of El Salvador’s civil war, about 25 percent of the Salvadoran population fled or migrated.

My mom was one of those people, along with my uncles, aunts and cousins who have been displaced all over the Americas. My mom was pregnant when she crossed the U.S.-Mexico border as an undocumented person. Even though this was twenty-nine years ago, she will rarely discuss her travels crossing multiple borders, or what her experience was being detained. All she says is that she cleaned the detention center fervently because she wanted to prove her worth.

The right-wing paints immigrants as criminals, rapists and gang members meant to terrorize Americans. My mom isn’t a criminal.  My uncle isn’t a rapist. My cousins aren’t gang members. Lili, a young Honduran woman I grew up with, crossed the Guatemala, Mexico, and the U.S. borders to meet her mom in New Jersey when she was twelve. She’s not a terrorist. So, who are the real terrorists? What countries have deliberately underdeveloped other countries in order to increase profits, extract resources, source cheap labor and maintain control of markets?

To know and understand El Salvador is to confront a history of U.S. military intervention as a way to maintain imperialist domination in Latin America.

U.S. intervention in civil war

U.S. foreign policy in the 1970s reflected violent attempts to detain the spread of socialism to the recently decolonized countries in Africa and Asia.  The Cold War reflected a class struggle on a global scale where the world was divided into two camps — the socialists, led by the Soviet Union, and the imperialists, led by the United States. In Latin America, many people’s movements emerged that received military and political aid from the Soviet Union. These movements were met with the brutality and violence of the U.S. imperialist military machine that supported right-wing dictatorships.

In El Salvador, the people’s movement for socialism took the form of a civil war. On one side was the Marxist-Leninist group called Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and on the other was the Salvadoran right-wing military government. The FMLN was supported by the Nicaraguan, Cuban, and Soviet governments while the U.S. government sent the Salvadoran government more than $4.5 billion over the course of the twelve-year war.

More than 75,000 Salvadorans were murdered during the war at a time when the total population of the country was only 5.4 million.  As a point of comparison, security forces murdered 30,000 civilians in Chile during Augusto Pinochet’s right-wing reign. As part of the peace accord that ended the civil war in 1992, the United Nations Truth Commission found that the government forces, including paramilitaries, death squads and U.S- trained army units, were responsible for over 85 percent of killings, kidnappings and tortures. As in Chile, the murdered civilians included leftists, indigenous people, educators, students, clergy, and anyone outspoken against the military dictatorship.

Pentagon trained Salvadoran death squads

I grew up hearing stories about the esquadrones de la muerte (death squads). The death squads were trained by the U.S. military at The School of the Americas, Ft. Benning, GA,  where the sole goal was anti-communist counterinsurgency training. They were trained to squash revolutionary movements through murder, torture, rape, and permanent “disappearances.”

My mom was in her late teens and early 20s during this time, and she describes how her friends disappeared from one day to the other. One day she saw a dead girl alongside the road with rocks stuffed in her vagina. My father describes underground meetings of leftists called “consciousness meetings.” They were underground because outing yourself as a leftist equated death. My aunt was a student volunteer who was tasked with find the birth records in a town whose inhabitants had been all been massacred. For this she was forced to flee.

Thousands of people had to flee El Salvador due to the civil war and forced poverty. This was not inevitable, but it was because socialism had been defeated as an alternative to overcome colonialism, landlordism and reclaim the country’s natural resources.

MS-13 began in Los Angeles, a consequence of U.S. policies

The Reagan administration refused to recognize those fleeing as refugees, and deported thousands without ever giving them the possibility of applying for refugee status. Instead, they were herded into detention centers and pressured to agree to “voluntarily return.”  This did not stop the mass exodus.

Among those fleeing were young people with no families or extended networks. They were orphans who united to form MS-13 in the streets of Los Angeles to create community and protection. This laid the basis for the transnational gang we know today. We cannot understate the violence that the gang commits against civilians on a daily basis. Its roots, however, are in the U.S., and what it MS-13 has become is a product of U.S. intervention in Central America and U.S. immigration policy.

In 2012, there were truce negotiations between the Salvadoran government, currently run by the FMLN (it should be noted that the FMLN became a united front of various left-wing political tendencies at the end of the civil war), and the MS-13.  This briefly brought the number of homicides in El Salvador to record lows, but then the numbers steadily increased in 2014.

In 2016, the FMLN government took a different approach of “shoot first, ask questions later” to handle the gang presence in El Salvador. That year, the number of murdered swelled to 540 Salvadoran minors, about 1.5 young people a day. This drove a new generation of Salvadorans to flee the United States. In fiscal year 2016, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended a record 17,512 unaccompanied Salvadoran minors escaping the violent conflicts between gangs and the government.

Democrats and Republicans both built deportation apparatus

Since the Reagan administration, the Republican and  Democratic parties have built up the cruel immigration apparatus we see today.  In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act making it easier for the government to deport people convicted of certain crimes including minor ones and crimes committed by permanent residents. The INS Violent Gang Task Force, created in 1992, worked with local police to target immigrant gang members for deportation. In 2005, ICE launched Operation Community Shield to target the MS-13. Anti-crime rhetoric, scapegoating, and criminalization justify these crackdowns that were really meant to target all immigrants.

In the last few days cries of outrage from people of all backgrounds and  nationalities have pressured the Trump administration to defuse its manufactured border crisis. I say manufactured because the government has been prosecuting as criminals asylum seekers who try to enter at the designated points. Now, instead of separating families, families will be detained together. This is but the tiniest victory. At the core is ending all deportations and demanding full rights for all immigrants.

Need for an independent movement

Of course, families should be reunited, but what else do these families need? They want opportunities — opportunities that have been stolen from them by Wall Street’s neoliberal exploitation and the Pentagon’s counterrevolutionary intervention. It is our duty to tell their history so that all might understand who the enemy really is.

We cannot allow the Democratic and Republican parties to keep the initiative on immigration. At best, they will claim they are for “humane” detention centers, “just” deportations or “gentle” military interventions, when there is no such thing. Working and poor people must define our own needs and demands independently. It is up to us to continue the struggle for full rights for all immigrants and an end to deportations.

I take with me the stories of my family members. The lessons of their struggles are not those of  textbook revolutionaries, but of everyday people taking action to fight injustices. This is what changes the course of history.

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The fight must continue! Trump order is a sham, kids still separated, detained

The fight must continue! Trump order is a sham, kids still separated, detained

June 15 protest in Los Angeles against family separation

An intense period of anti-racist mass mobilization has forced Donald Trump to sign an executive order he says will end the practice of separating detained immigrant children from their families. However, the Executive Order does not make a difference for the 2,300 children who have been detained and separated from their parents. It is essential that this mobilization continue to defeat the entirety of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant campaign. Simply jailing entire families together, as Democratic Party-aligned politicians and organizations desire, does not solve the problem — the problem is that they are being held in cages in the first place! Everyone waiting on an application for asylum should be immediately released so that they can pursue their asylum claim in a safe environment free from coercion and with full legal representation in accordance with international law.

As insufficient of a concession as it is, it is even unclear if the Executive Order will truly end future family separations. It only states that the policy will end “where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.” Much of the Executive Order was about reaffirming the hardline policies the administration has in place.

The deportation and detention machine that causes so much terror and suffering is a thoroughly bipartisan creation. Although ICE and Border Patrol’s cruelty has been amplified by the Trump administration’s so-called “zero tolerance” policy, each successive administration since the Clinton presidency has moved to bolster the authority and capabilities of this apparatus. Barack Obama was labeled by the immigrant rights movement as the “Deporter in-Chief” due to the enormous number of undocumented people rounded up and kicked out of the country under his leadership — vastly more than any of his predecessors.

Mass protests for immigrant rights will take place across the country on June 30, including what is likely to be a huge gathering in Washington, D.C. The Party for Socialism and Liberation will do everything we can to mobilize for these and other actions.

No Separations! No Detentions! No Deportations! Full Rights for All!

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‘Turkey’s choice’ is not only Turkey’s

VT Bureau Chief Nahed al Husaini in Istanbul with MHP party leaders June 22, 2018

The questions seen in the West, Turkey’s role in the refugee crisis, their continued participation in NATO and their relationship with Iran and Russia, their closest economic partners, is paramount.

For Turkey, it is domestic issues, the economy, and security issues tied to the Kurdish minority and political parties deemed terrorist by Ankara.

Israel and the US want a puppet in Ankara, one that will join against both Russia and Iran.  Turkey’s strategic position give them considerable sway in regional relations.

From Pravda:

Turkey is gearing up for an important election that is going to take place on June 24th. Turks will choose their new President who will be in office for the next five years and they will also choose their candidates for the new 600-member Turkish Parliament.

'Turkey's choice' is not only Turkey's. 62554.jpeg

Although there is no certainty as to the percentages, many analysts agree that the Cumhur Alliance between incumbent President Erdogan’s AK Party and the nationalist MHP will win a majority in the parliament and a similar result is expected for the Presidential elections.

According to the Turkish election system, candidates need a minimum of 50% votes in order to be elected in the first round. President Erdogan is projected to get between 50% to 54% of the votes according to the latest poll and, it looks like the last-minute developments that will take place before the election will determine the outcome.

President Erdogan and the AK Party have been victorious in 12 elections in the span of the past 15 years and those 12 elections included five general elections, three local elections, three referendums and one presidential election. This success stems from the united front the Turkish people show under President Erdogan’s leadership. When President Erdogan first stood in the Istanbul municipality elections back in 1994, he got only two million votes.

In the latest referendum, his votes had reached 26 million. With every new election, more voters have rushed to his side, which proves that he has a solid, unwavering voter base. Most of those voters showed their loyalty to President Erdogan and the values he represented by pouring out on the streets on the night of the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Unlike the previous ones, this election will generally be a competition between Erdogan and his opponents. So much so, the election campaigns of the opposition have focused mostly on their anti-Erdogan stance rather than talking about their visions and goals. For example, while President Erdogan mentions his targets for 2023 and relevant projects to reach these targets, the other candidates merely talk about how they will stop those projects if they get elected. In this sense, the June 24th elections are poised to be one of the most interesting ones in history.

Although it looks like only Turkey will make the choice on June 24th, the outcome of this election will definitely have important consequences for the region and the world. The personal friendship of Putin-Erdogan-Rhouani has played an important role in the recent Turkish-Iranian-Russian rapprochement and the Qatari Amir benefited greatly from this alliance due to this personal friendship with President Erdogan.

A look at the Western mainstream media easily reveals that this alliance was an important reason behind the current anti-Erdogan stance in the Western world. The British deep state, which has been traditionally against such a united front, now employs all of its propaganda resources and media power with the hopes of affecting the election outcome in Turkey. This deep structure believes that if a Turkey without Erdogan comes out of the elections on June 24, this important alliance, which is a balancing factor for the Middle East, will get weaker and the British deep state will once again get control.

If a plot to achieve this scenario becomes successful and endangers the continued leadership of President Erdogan, the next stage of the plan, which is the division of the region, will almost certainly begin. Even though the main opposition party in Turkey has also been always against the idea of the separation of Turkey, the resulting environment will present a suitable opportunity to those that have been making such sinister plans.

President Erdogan saw this risk a long time ago, and paid great attention both to national unity and the alliance between Russia, Turkey and Iran. However, if the plot against him succeeds, the new leaders will probably fail to understand the importance of such unity or will be forced to do the opposite and Turkey will easily slip back into its previous role, where it was beholden to the Western world. This would lead to a swift separation process for Turkey, followed by the fragmentation of the Middle East.

This is the reason why certain deep circles consider Turkey’s elections crucial. They conspire against President Erdogan using all the resources available to them, while the Turkish people continue to support him with all their might. At a time when the danger is all too real and far too big, this support should be stronger than ever.

Readers will recall that Russia had been once the target of similar plots, but President Putin’s strong stance rendered them ineffective. The sinister projects to divide the Middle East can be stopped only by strong leaders that understand the significance of unity in the Middle East and the Caucasus.

Erdogan and Bahceli

Erdogan and MHP leader Bahçeli built an important alliance for this election, as both leaders think that Turkey is under attack, just like the majority of the Turkish people. They consider the legal coup of December 17-25, the military coup attempt of July 15, and the terror groups dominant in Iraq and Syria as a part of the war waged against Turkey.

For this reason, the Cumhur alliance is important in that it successfully brings together the voters. The recent increases in foreign exchange and interest rates are also seen as another part of this attack.

These leaders know perfectly well that the British deep state always plays the economy card in such sensitive times and credit rating institutions that keep saying ‘don’t invest in Turkey’ are always used for this very purpose. This ruse is definitely not new. Since the Turkish people are well aware of it, no one really thinks that this strange turn of events in the economy will have a significant impact on election outcome.

The June 24th elections are also important for other reasons: the age to be elected and vote has now come down to 18. Turkey has a very young population, with the average age being 28. Therefore, the Turkish youth wishes to vote for the future. 56 million people will cast their votes in the June 24th elections in Turkey, one of the most important democracies in the region.

It is important to note that a strong Turkey will be in the best interests of everyone in the region. The Turkish state and President Erdogan showed recently that Turkey would pursue fair and selfless policies. The continuing stability of Turkey is vital for a permanent peace in the region.

Harun Yahya


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Canadian government to buy stalled Trans Mountain pipeline project

Canadian government to buy stalled Trans Mountain pipeline project

Sept. 9, 2017 protest against Kinder Morgan Pipeline, Vancouver, B.C. By William Chen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

On May 29 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans for the federal government to spend $4.5 billion to acquire the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project from Texas-based oil corporation Kinder Morgan should the government fail to find a buyer for the massive project before July 22. In the process, he has pledged unequivocally that his government is committed to seeing the process through to completion- at a total cost of $7.4 billion, according to Kinder Morgan estimates.

The promise amounts to a bailout for the stalled project, which had been abandoned after meeting with dogged resistance by activists, foremost among them being the First Nations peoples on whose land the pipeline is built. These people are confronted with a very real history of contamination from the pipeline, including a particularly catastrophic spill in 1985 that released an estimated 10,000 barrels of oil into the ground near Edmonton, Alberta, as well as numerous smaller spills in later years. Activists in the province of British Columbia, where the pipeline reaches the sea, have been largely successful in pressuring the provincial government to oppose this project. It is this tension between the federal government’s support and the provincial government of British Columbia’s opposition to the project that caused Kinder Morgan to abandon the massive expansion project, according to a public statement.

This decision has been the culmination of a series of retreats from Trudeau’s 2015 campaign promise to give First Nations veto powers over any such project that would cross their lands. In spite of this promise, the Prime Minister has taken every opportunity to vigorously advance the interests of the capitalist class- within and without the borders of Canada, as this case indicates- over the same First Nations people he promised to empower against just this sort of abuse while he was on the campaign trail. The move also represents a breaking point for Trudeau, who has staked a significant amount of personal credibility on promises to prioritize environmental protection while also moving forward with “economic development” projects.

By moving forward with this pipeline expansion over the explicit objections of environmental activists and the First Nations, Trudeau has shown clearly that environmental concerns will take a backseat to the exploitation of natural resources, even at the expense of the safety of Indigenous people.

The Prime Minister has made the rationale for pushing this expansion forward exceedingly clear. In an interview with Bloomberg in May, Trudeau reiterated, “We are going to ensure that it gets built so that we can get our resources to new markets.”

According to Canada’s National Energy Board, the pipeline leads to several coastal oil refineries (including four in Washington State) as well as to terminals where crude oil is shipped to overseas markets in Asia and on the U.S. West coast. Satisfying the U.S.  oil demand  and the prospect of an overseas market to absorb excess production combine to form a strong incentive for the Canadian capitalist class to drive this project forward.

Trudeau has repeatedly emphasized that the government buyout does not signal an intention for the Canadian government to continue to own and operate the pipeline beyond the short time necessary to find another buyer. Despite these assurances, the fact remains that the Canadian federal government has stepped in to rescue the project and will be the owner and proprietor of a massive and environmentally disastrous oil pipeline for the foreseeable future.

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Puerto Rican anger builds as study reveals 4,654 hurricane deaths


Translation of the sign: The lack of a prompt response by the government caused the death of thousands, while thousand remain without lights .Photo: Lela

Translation of the sign: The lack of a prompt response by the government caused the death of thousands, while thousand remain without lights. Photo: Lela

Hundreds of Puerto Ricans placed the shoes of their dead loved ones on the marble plaza of San Juan’s Capitol building on June 1, in remembrance of the thousands that died due to Hurricane Maria and its aftermath. This was the people’s response to a study released two days earlier revealing the death toll from the hurricane to be 70 times the government’s estimate.

The action was a moving tribute to the 4,654 who lost their lives. It was also an angry protest against the Puerto Rican government of Governor Ricardo Rosselló for denying the magnitude of the deaths, and against La Junta, Puerto Rico’s name for the Washington-appointed board of Wall Street bankers that has imposed harsh austerity on Puerto Rico, holding back the island’s recovery from Maria.

Remembering the cousin, the friend, the aunt who died

Luis Vasquez, who was at the memorial, remembered finding his father’s decomposing body two weeks after the hurricane hit. Vasquez had disposed of his father’s possessions, so he placed his own shoes on the steps. “We already threw all of his shoes away,” Vázquez said, standing barefoot on the hot marble. “So I put my own, and I’m going to leave them there,” he said in an interview with NPR.

In solidarity, Puerto Rican activists convened a Twitter protest using the hashtag #4645Boricuas and asked people on June 1 to individually name those that died. Throughout June 1 and continuing for days, people used the hashtag to remember that cousin that committed suicide several months after Maria hit;  the friend who died alone because no one was able to reach her in time; the father who was found dead for reasons the family will never know.

Serious underestimation of death toll

The memorial and Twitter protest come after a Harvard Study published in the New England Journal of Medicine put the death toll of Hurricane Maria at an estimate of 4,645 deaths from the time the hurricane hit the island on September 20, 2017 to December 31, 2017. Researchers surveyed 3,299 random homes in Puerto Rico and each respondent was asked about death and the causes of death. The result was then compared to the mortality rate from the same period the year before.

The findings revealed a serious underestimation of the hurricane deaths by the government, with the new mortality estimate 70 times the official death toll of 64. In the Harvard study, a third of all deaths were attributed to delayed or interrupted access to proper medical care and the lack of basic utilities such as electricity. These conditions have continued way past December, and are still not resolved, indicating that storm-related deaths continue to this day.

In an interview with Rising Up with Sonali, Rosa Clemente, a mainland-based Puerto Rican activist who made a film exposing the extent of the crisis in Puerto Rico post Maria, recounted that in the months after the Hurricane, hospitals were so overwhelmed with patients and the lack of electricity that they had to prioritize patients who were dying, leaving others to their fate.

Clemente also stated that the lack of access to clean water–something not mentioned directly in the Harvard Study–also contributed to the death toll. “When you don’t have access to clean water, everything else falls apart,” she said.

Eyewitness accounts of Puerto Ricans who have gone from the mainland to do their own investigation of conditions reveal people still living in demolished homes without electricity, as well as contaminated water in many areas and resulting vermin infestations, which bring disease.

Trump, Rosselló have not accepted new figures

Since the Harvard study was published May 30, neither the Puerto Rican government nor the Trump administration has issued a response accepting the new estimates. In fact, Governor Rosselló tried to put the blame on others, exclaiming in a press conference that he would investigate if any agencies were concealing documents.

Back in December, when earlier studies and reports put the death toll at about 1,000, Rosselló refused to accept those estimates and said that the government would conduct its own independent study. Yet to this day the findings of such independent study were never made available to the public, and worse of all, there is no evidence to suggest such a study was even conducted by the government. Eight months after the disaster the official death toll remains 64.

FEMA helps cruise line, not Puerto Ricans

Back in October Trump boasted on Twitter that everything in Puerto Rico was “under control.”  He said that FEMA, the federal disaster relief agency, and the military had done a “great job,’”and all buildings had been inspected for safety. It has recently come out that FEMA paid Carnival Cruise Line $75 million to house about 2,000 federal aid workers in a half empty ship for four months. This is more than it gave Puerto Rican families in direct aid to rebuild their homes during that time frame.

Thousands still without electricity

The Puerto Rican government announced plans to restore power to 95 percent of the island by December 2017, but that did not happen. In April, seven months after Maria hit, most of the island was still without power, and one power outage put the whole island back in the dark. As of June 1, 11,000 remain with no electricity at all, and the fragility of power grid means rolling outages in many places.

Hospitals are overcrowded and have had to deal with shortages of basic medicines and supplies such as oxygen. They cannot provide adequate health care without electricity. Many still do not have the power capacity to consistently run ventilators, sterilize equipment, refrigerate perishables or run operating theaters, among other things. It has been reported that people are dying in hospitals rather than recovering due to the power crisis.

Government’s response is more austerity

The response to this crisis has not been more aid, but more austerity. Rosselló, seen as a puppet of Washington, responded to the power crisis by revealing plans to privatize the Puerto Rican power company PREPA. This would line the pockets of Wall Street banks and corporations, but bring major hikes in utility prices to the people of Puerto Rico.

In fact, the privatization of PREPA is part of La Junta’s plan to defund and privatize what remains of Puerto Rico’s public assets. Proposed cuts target welfare recipients, public sector workers and retirees. Labor “reforms” would weaken worker power and increase unemployment. Moving to privatize education, over 300 schools have been closed, leaving students without schools and teachers without jobs. When teachers and other workers took to the streets to protest on May 1, they were met with brutality by police officers and private security cops under Rosselló ’s direction.

Governor Rosselló, La Junta, and Washington are to blame for the death of the 4,645 Puerto Ricans from September to December and for the thousands more that most surely have died in 2018 from Maria related-causes, and that will continue to die.

What will happen now? When Hurricane Maria hit in September, Puerto Rico did not have an emergency plan in place. Eight months later, with another hurricane season beginning, there is still no plan. Puerto Rico’s recovery from Maria still has a long way to go, and its infrastructure has been even further weakened by U.S. banks.

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Apartheid in action: Nazi parliament blocks vote on equal rights for all

Apartheid in action: Israeli parliament blocks vote on equal rights for all
Apartheid in action: Israeli parliament blocks vote on equal rights for all

Yuli-Yoel Edelstein and Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli leaders and their supporters in the U.S. never tire of proclaiming Israel to be the “only democracy in the Middle East,” while vehemently denying that it is an apartheid state.

But on June 5, the leadership of the Knesset (parliament) voted to not allow even the discussion of a bill calling for equal rights and status for the “Arab and Jewish nationalities” inside the 1948 borders of the Israeli state.

The bill, titled, “State of All Its Citizens,” was introduced by three members of the Balad party, Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoabi and Jouma Azbarga.  Balad is one of the parties representing the approximately 1.5 million Palestinians living inside Israel.

Speaker of the parliament, Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, an immigrant to Israel from Ukraine, called the bill “absurd,” and explained why the indigenous Palestinian population must not, from his point of view, be accorded equal rights:

“We cannot allow a proposal whose goal is to gnaw away at the foundations the State of Israel is built upon to be on the Knesset’s agenda.”

Most of Edelstein’s colleagues were in full agreement. Knesset Legal Adviser Eyad Yinon, stated: “As a matter of principle and in its details, it’s hard not to see this proposal as seeking to negate the State of Israel’s existence as a state of the Jewish people.”

The admissions that a law calling for equal rights for all would “negate” or “gnaw away at the foundations” of Israel are very revealing, reconfirming the racism and exclusivism that has always characterized Zionism, the ideological foundation upon which the state of Israel was constructed.

While the bill would have been overwhelmingly defeated had it come to the Knesset floor, that was an eventuality that Israeli political leaders sought to head-off at all costs. Such a vote would have struck a devastating blow at the much-promoted fiction that Israel is both a democratic and Jewish state.

The contortions needed to maintain this position are illustrated by a June 4 headline in the right-wing Jerusalem Post: “Knesset Refuses to Put Bill Rejecting Jewish, Democratic Israel to a Vote.” In other words, in order to maintain Israel’s “democratic” character,” voting on – or even discussing – such issues as equal rights must be avoided

The corporate mass media in the U.S. “solved” the problem of how to cover this story by simply ignoring it.

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Colombia elections: What’s at stake?

Colombia elections: What’s at stake?

Signing ceremony for the peace accord between the FARC and the Colombian government. Photo: Government of Chile

On June 17, leftist candidate Gustavo Petro will square off against far-right candidate Ivan Duque in a runoff election in Colombia. At stake in the elections is the survival of the peace process and the question of social and economic reform.

In the May 27 presidential elections, the first since the 2016 accords ending the civil war, Petro won 25 percent of the vote and Duque finished first with 39 percent. Because the winning candidate needs a majority to secure victory, run-off elections are now scheduled to take place.

One of the most surprising developments in regards to the election was the percentage of the electorate who voted — 54 percent. For perspective, the estimated voter turnout for the U.S. 2016 election was 55 percent. In Colombia, the 2014 election saw a 40 percent turnout for the first round. The turnout percentage has not risen above 50 percent since 1998, making this the largest voter turnout in two decades.

The two candidates in the run-off, one of whom will take office on August 7, offer very different visions for Colombia’s future.

Duque is an establishment, pro-corporate politician who was born into a wealthy family and has served a number of Colombian presidents. He was anointed by former president Alvaro Uribe, a current senator. Uribe is an infamous right-wing politician with connections to drug trafficking and paramilitary organizations. He is an enemy of the Colombian people’s desires for peace and social justice. Uribe and his protege Duque are loyal servants of U.S. imperialism, which has for decades fueled the country’s war and facilitated right-wing paramilitary terror.

Duque wants to expand corporate privileges in Colombia and “amend” crucial parts of the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to gut the deal and push the country back to war. Specifically, he wants former FARC guerrillas banned from political participation and to be able to incarcerate them. He wants to open Colombia to fracking.

A progressive alternative

Petro is a long-time leftist politician with an entirely different agenda that includes agrarian reform, bolstering social welfare programs, tackling inequality and maintaining the peace accords. Many decades ago he was a leader in the M-19 guerrilla movement. The movement made a series of poor strategic choices — the worst of which occured while Petro was in prison — and relinquished arms to become a political party in the early 1990s. Since 1991, Petro has held a number of political positions, from Congress to diplomatic attache to mayor of Bogota. He has a reputation for being anti-corruption and progressive, although it should also be noted that he has also consistently denounced the revolutionary guerrilla movement.

Combined, the pro-peace forces narrowly carried the election with Petro winning 25.1 percent and a quite popular left moderate candidate Sergio Farjado winning 23.7 percent, joined by the 2.1 percent of the electorate who voted for former president Humberto De la Calle.

The fact that Sergio Fajardo received such a high vote percentage has played out as a battle now for his support and that of the movement he represents, Compromiso Cuidadano or Citizens Compromise. The movement has refused to support either candidate, despite profound pressure to do so. They are trying to navigate a third road — insisting that they are not pro-Uribe, or pro-right wing while not coming out in support for Petro as well.

Opinion polls have shown that Duque is ahead, but Petro is closing the gap. The outcome will have a profound impact on the future of the country. Will the extreme right-wing be able to press their deadly offensive against social movement and progressive leaders, or will the peace process survive and new avenues for struggle and progress open?

Posted in ColombiaComments Off on Colombia elections: What’s at stake?

Korean American activist on Singapore Summit response

Korean American activist on Singapore Summit response

C. Kim is a Korean American anti-war activist and organizer with the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). They posted the following status on their personal Facebook page. 

This is long, but I need to get it off my chest because I am seeing way too many well-meaning folks allowing their opposition to Trump to turn into inadvertent opposition to the reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

Know your history. Korea was colonized by Japan for 35 years. This was a brutally violent occupation. Ex: Koreans were flogged for speaking Korean. Over 100,000 Korean women were abducted and made to be sex slaves for the Japanese Imperial Army.

Then, at the end of WWII, two young U.S. naval officers hastily and arbitrarily divided Korea using a small National Geographic map, thereby forcibly separating millions of families. My family is no exception. My grandmother was in the south but her sisters were north of the 38th parallel at the time. They never saw each other again. My grandmother is now in her 90s. One foreign occupation was replaced by another. You think the U.S. military cared about Koreans? Ha! MacArthur left the Japanese colonial forces in place until U.S. colonial forces could replace them. Read Proclamation No. 1.

Fast forward five years to the Korean War. The U.S. military dropped more bombs on the Korean Peninsula than it did in the entire “Pacific Theater” during WWII. Not a single two-story building was left standing. The U.S. military literally struggled to find more targets to bomb.

For over 60 years, the Korean border has been one of most heavily militarized borders in history with anywhere between 30,000 to 70,000 U.S. troops in South Korea. This is not benevolent protection. This is classic imperialism. Read about the naval base on Jeju Island. Read about THAAD. Read about KorUS FTA.

Meanwhile, North and South Korea share the same unofficial nation anthem (아리랑). “Our Wish is Reunification” is a folk song all Koreans know. Joint sports teams are created to tell the world that Koreans desire self-determination.

The DPRK is not a utopia. But it is not what the media makes it out to be either. When people buy into the anti-DPRK hysteria, those folks are buying into fake news. 6 corporations control 90% of the media in the U.S, and alarmist stories about the DPRK is great clickbait. Koreans who defect from the DPRK to the ROK are often quoted to support this junk news. Interesting that the media leaves out that defectors must adhere to predetermined talking points demonizing the DPRK in order to remain and financially survive in the ROK. And where are the stories about the job crisis in South Korea? Where are the stories about the rise of the men’s rights movement in the south? Where are the stories about how almost every ROK president has landed in jail for rampant corruption?

Am I overjoyed by the prospect of One Korea? Yes, of course! Do I credit Trump? Hell no! Trump doesn’t care about Koreans. He called white supremacists “good people.” His impetus for the Korea Summit is about furthering U.S. capitalist interests in Asia. I credit the activists who have been relentlessly fighting for reunification and an end to the Korean War for decades.

U.S. imperialism has stood in the way of reunification of the Korean Peninsula for the better part of a century. I will not thank the bully for making some vague promise to back off. I will not thank the bully for ceasing to terrorize Koreans with military exercises.

The idea that one cannot support reunification without supporting Trump highlights the shortcomings of liberalism. It boils down to taking the position that (unwarranted) loyalty to the Democratic Party is more important than the basic human right of self-determination.

Posted in USA, North KoreaComments Off on Korean American activist on Singapore Summit response

Korea, China, Syria, Palestine



Pro-GMO Activism and Smears Masquerade as Journalism: From Seralini to Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts the Record Straight

By Colin Todhunter and Aruna Rodrigues, June 17, 2018

Rodrigues accuses Sandhya Ramesh of dubbing anything that is a proper critique of GMOs based on ‘independent’ science (the distinction is important) as the work of ‘anti-GMO’ activists. She argues that a properly researched piece would have entailed weeks of serious research into the various studies carried out by Seralini and his team over the last decade as well as the reappraisal of Bt brinjal (October 2009 to February 2010) ordered by Jairam Ramesh.

Trump Wants to Free America from “Fool Trade” and Flip the Tables on the EU

By Andrew Korybko, June 17, 2018

Tweeting from Singapore after the failed G7 Summit in Canada, the President wrote that “Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal”, before explaining how Canada and Germany “rip off” the US through their own protectionist tariffs and insufficient contributions to NATO, respectively.

Aftermath of the Trump-Kim Summit: Unilateral Denuclearization, Continued US Military Threats, Economic Sanctions

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, June 17, 2018

ROK president Moon had demanded the suspension of the US-ROK war games directed against the DPRK to no avail.

Under the US-ROK combined forces command, all South Korean Forces fall under US command. The South Korean president is not the Commander in Chief and cannot under any circumstances veto the conduct of joint war games.

Trump Approves $50 Billion in Tariffs on Chinese Goods

By Stephen Lendman, June 16, 2018

Reportedly Trump met with his trade officials on Thursday, a decision reached to impose around $50 billion in tariffs on a range of Chinese goods – an announcement of the move expected on Friday or early next week.

Drivers Behind the War on Syria and the Impoverishment of Us All

By Mark Taliano, June 16, 2018

To be blunt, Western policymakers seek to destroy secular democracy in Syria, along with its socially uplifting political economy, with a view to installing a compliant fascist Wahhabi government.

The end result is chaos, the enrichment of the transnational “oligarchs” and the impoverishment of Syria.

What’s in Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’? The Answers Are in Plain Sight

By Jonathan Cook, June 16, 2018

According to Palestinian officials, they are likely to be offered provisional borders over fragments of land comprising about half the occupied territories – or just 11 percent of what was recognised as Palestine under the British mandate.

The Palestinian areas would be demilitarised, and Israel would have control over the borders and airspace.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, China, North Korea, South Korea, SyriaComments Off on Korea, China, Syria, Palestine

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