Category Archives: Latinamerican

Russian armed forces returning to Latin America

Why Latin American Leaders Are Standing Up To Israel

The frostier their relations are with the US, the more likely they are to sympathize with the Palestinians

By Laura Carlsen

August 18, 2014 “ICH” – “Al Jazeera America” –Since the Israeli offensive against Gaza began, images of Palestinian children murdered in their homes and schools and bombs exploding in neighborhoods have outraged people around the globe. Many governments have followed the United States, making empty declarations against the violence, as if the death dealing were equal and not overwhelmingly of Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli bombs and bullets.

But as the U.S. government backpedals to reconcile its unconditional support of Israel with basic principles of human rights and Europe waffles, one region stands out in its opposition to the siege of Gaza: Latin America. Leaders from across the region have condemned the Israel Defense Forces’ attacks on Gaza as excessive and unfair.

“I think what’s happening in the Gaza Strip is dangerous,” Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff told the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. “I don’t think it’s genocide, but I think it’s a massacre.”

Chile, currently a member of the U.N. Security Council, stated that the Israeli government “does not respect the fundamental norms of international humanitarian law.”

Uruguayan President José Mujica condemned the attacks in a weekly radio show. “The loss of perspective in the response is undermining Israel’s prestige and, I think, sullies the marvelous history of the Jewish people. Hatred and revenge do not work to build civilization,” he said. Bolivia’s Evo Morales went further, saying, “Israel does not guarantee the principle of respect for life and the basic right to live in harmony and peace in the international community,” adding that Israel was “passing onto the list of terrorist states.”

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa joined the criticisms and canceled a planned official visit to Israel later this year.

In addition, at a recent meeting the regional bloc Mercosur issued a statement condemning “the disproportionate use of force on the part of the Israeli armed forces in the Gaza Strip, force which has almost exclusively affected civilians, including many women and children,” while criticizing Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians. Mercosur urged “an immediate lifting of the blockade that is affecting the Gaza population, so that the free movement of people, food, medicine and humanitarian aid can flow freely in and out, both by land and sea” and “an immediate and durable cease-fire.”

Louder than words

The declarations didn’t mince words. But what really called attention to the region’s stance were their governments’ actions. So far, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru have withdrawn their ambassadors from Israel, and Venezuela suspended diplomatic relations.

This drew the ire of Israeli officials. The government blamed Brazil for leading the pack and called the South American regional leader “a diplomatic dwarf.” The Israeli reaction started to look like the behavior of a bully in the schoolyard when Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor added that Brazil was “an irrelevant diplomatic partner, one who creates problems rather than contributes to solutions” and through a clumsy non sequitur recalled the nation’s 7-1 loss in the World Cup just in case the previous insults didn’t sting enough.

And yet the Latin American position wasn’t entirely surprising. Latin American nations have historically shown their support for the Palestinians. In a recent column in El País, Peruvian writer Diego Garcia-Sayan points out that Latin America has defended the Palestinians at key moments in history. He notes that Latin American nations called for withdrawal from occupied territories in the 1967 Six-Day War and drew up what would become Resolution 242. In recent years, nearly all Latin American have recognized the Palestinian state.

A major factor in the forthright tone of current criticism of Israel, though, is Latin America’s relatively newfound independence from U.S. foreign policy. For the first time, a majority of the continent isn’t afraid to offend its northern neighbor.

Country by country, Latin America still breaks along geopolitical fault lines on the Palestinian issue, as on most other foreign policy issues. The nations most tightly tied to the U.S. — Mexico and Colombia, for example — have had muted responses, while center-left governments have come out strong in opposition to Israeli bombings and the occupation of Gaza.

The list of Latin American nations that refuse to recognize the Palestinian state follows to the letter the list of nations with the strongest military and economic ties to the United States: Colombia, Mexico and Panama. These countries receive significant amounts of Israeli arms, which reached at least $107 million in sales to the region in 2012, often with U.S. aid. In the November 2012 vote to admit Palestine to the U.N. as a nonmember observer state, Panama voted no, and Paraguay, Colombia and Guatemala abstained.

Today counter hegemony movements, new regional organizations, like the Union of South American Nations and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, that do not include the United States and a coming of age in global affairs have combined to make Latin America a leading voice. The fact that it has been one of the most economically dynamic regions — with emerging economies, a BRICS member and growth rates that compare very favorably with crisis-bound developed countries’ — doesn’t hurt either.

That’s why the Israeli government lashed out in response to the withdrawal of the Latin American ambassadors. The move sets a dangerous example. The southern countries broke out of the historical and ideological confines that equate any criticism of Israel as an attack on its right to exist and an affront to the U.S. and acted on the basis of human rights and international law. By so doing, Latin America sent a double message: that it supports the Palestinians and it will no longer render diplomatic tribute to the United States.

A Latin America freed from U.S. dictums has the capacity, if not to isolate a wayward state, at least to send a powerful message of opprobrium.

Hopefully, other nations will see the example and follow suit.

Laura Carlsen is the director of the Americas program of the Center for International Policy in Mexico City. She is a frequent commentator on Latin American relations and an international consultant on gender and foreign policy issues.

© 2014 Al Jazeera America, LLC.

Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia Offer Asylum to Edward Snowden

President Maduro offers to protect NSA whistleblower ‘from persecution by the empire’ and rejects US extradition request.

By Jonathan Watts and agencies

July 08, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian“– June 06, 2013 –  Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua have offered asylum to Edward Snowden, the US whistleblower who is believed to have spent the past two weeks at a Moscow airport evading US attempts to extradite him.

The Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, and his Nicaraguan counterpart, Daniel Ortega, made the asylum offers on Friday, shortly after they and other Latin American leaders met to denounce the diversion of a plane carrying the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, due to suspicions that Snowden might have been on board.

Shortly after, Morales also said Bolivia would grant asylum to Snowden, if asked. On Saturday, Venezuela’s offer was given a warm reception by an influential member of the Russian parliament.

In a tweet, Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the Duma foreign affairs committee, said: “Asylum for Snowden in Venezuela would be the best solution.”

The invitations from South America came as Snowden sent out new requests for asylum to six countries, in addition to the 20 he has already contacted, according to WikiLeaks, which claims to be in regular contact with the former National Security Agency contractor.

Most of the countries have refused or given technical reasons why an application is not valid, but several Latin American leaders have rallied together with expressions of solidarity and welcome.

“As head of state of the Bolivarian republic of Venezuela, I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young Snowden … to protect this young man from persecution by the empire,” said Maduro who, along with his predecessor Hugo Chávez, often refers to the US as “the empire”.

The previous day, Maduro told the Telesur TV channel that Venezuela had received an extradition request from the US, which he had already rejected.

A copy of the request, seen by the Guardian, notes that Snowden “unlawfully released classified information and documents to international media outlets” and names the Guardian and the Washington Post. Dated 3 July and sent in English and Spanish, it says: “The United States seeks Snowden’s provisional arrest should Snowden seek to travel to or transit through Venezuela. Snowden is a flight risk because of the substantial charges he is facing and his current and active attempts to remain a fugitive.”

It adds that he is charged with unauthorised disclosure of national defence information, unauthorised disclosure of classified communication intelligence and theft of government property. Each of these three charges carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.

Describing Snowden as “a fugitive who is currently in Russia”, it urges Venezuela to keep him in custody if arrested and to seize all items in his possession for later delivery to the US. It provides a photograph and two alternative passport numbers – one revoked, and one reported lost or stolen.

Maduro said he did not accept the grounds for the charges.

“He has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the US spying on the whole world,” Maduro said in his latest speech. “Who is the guilty one? A young man … who denounces war plans, or the US government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate president, Bashar al-Assad?”

The Bolivian government, which has said it would listen sympathetically to an aslyum request from Snowden, said it too had turned down a pre-emptive US extradition request.

Ortega said Nicaragua had received an asylum request from Snowden and the president gave a guarded acceptance.

“We are an open country, respectful of the right of asylum, and it’s clear that if circumstances permit, we would gladly receive Snowden and give him asylum in Nicaragua,” Ortega told a gathering in Managua.

So far, the countries that have been most vocal in offering support are close allies of Venezuela. Ecuador has also expressed support for Snowden, though the government there has yet to decide whether it would grant aslyum. It is already providing refuge for the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for about a year.

Many in Latin America were furious when the Bolivian president’s flight from Russia was denied airspace by European countries, forcing it to land in Vienna, where Morales had to spend more than half a day waiting to get clearance to continue his journey.

Morales said the Spanish ambassador to Austria arrived at the airport with two embassy personnel and asked to search the plane. He said he refused.

The Spanish foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, acknowledged on Friday that the decision to block Morales plane was based on a tip that Snowden was on board.

“They told us that the information was clear, that he was inside,” he told Spanish TV, without clarifying who the tip was from.

It is assumed the US was behind the diversion, though US officials have said only that they were in contact with the countries on the plane’s route.

France has apologised to Bolivia.

Morales said when he finally arrived in La Paz: “It is an open provocation to the continent, not only to the president; they use the agent of North American imperialism to scare us and intimidate us.”

At a hastily called meeting of the Unasur regional bloc, many governments condemned the action against Morales plane.

“We are not colonies any more,” Uruguay’s president, José Mujica, said. “We deserve respect, and when one of our governments is insulted we feel the insult throughout Latin America.”

The Argentinean president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, was also present, along with a senior representative of President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil.

Regional support may make it easier for the country offering asylum to resist US pressure for extradition. But whether Snowden can make it to South America remains uncertain, as are his current circumstances. He has not been seen or heard in public since he flew to Russia from Hong Kong. WikiLeaks says it is in touch with him and that he has widened his search for aslyum by adding six new countries.

In a tweet, the group said it would not reveal the names of the nations “due to attempted US interference”.

US Attempts to Block Edward Snowden Are ‘Bolstering’ Case for Asylum

As Venezuela and Nicaragua offer help to whistleblower, experts say US actions are strengthening his case for safe haven

By Jamie Doward

July 08, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Observer“— The Observer, Sunday 7 July 2013 Attempts by the US to close down intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden’s asylum options are strengthening his case to seek a safe harbour outside of Russia, legal experts claim.

Snowden, who is believed to be in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, has received provisional offers of asylum from Nicaragua and Venezuela, and last night Bolivia also offered him sanctuary. He has applied to at least six other countries, says the Wikileaks organisation providing legal support.

Michael Bochenek, director of law and policy at Amnesty International, said the American government’s actions were bolstering Snowden’s case. He said claims that the US had sought to reroute the plane of Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, amid reports that the fugitive former analyst for the National Security Agency was on board, and suggestions that vice-president Joe Biden had phoned the Ecuadorean leader, Rafael Correa, to block asylum for Snowden, carried serious implications.

“Interfering with the right to seek asylum is a serious problem in international law,” Bochenek said. “It is further evidence that he [Snowden] has a well-founded fear of persecution. This will be relevant to any state when considering an application. International law says that somebody who fears persecution should not be returned to that country.”

Venezuela’s extradition treaties with the US contain clauses that allow it to reject requests if it believes they are politically motivated. The country’s president, Nicolas Maduro, has praised Snowden for being a “young man who told the truth” and has criticised European countries’ alleged role in the rerouting of Morales’s plane last week .

“The European people have seen the cowardice and the weakness of their governments, which now look like colonies of the US,” he said on Friday.

Spain said it had been warned that Snowden was on the Bolivian presidential plane, the first acknowledgement that the manhunt was linked to the plane’s diversion to Austria. Foreign minister José Manuel Garcia-Margallo said: “They told us that the information was clear, that he was inside.” He did not say who “they” were or whether he had been in contact with the US.

Speaking from Buenos Aires, Bochenek said the US actions were transforming the Snowden affair into a global saga. “In PR terms, opinion here and elsewhere in Latin America has shifted precisely because of the appearance of interference with other governments’ decision-making processes,” he said.

Bochenek said there was no reason why Snowden could not be granted asylum without setting foot in the country that had granted him refuge. The need to be present in the country where asylum is granted is a convention that can be ignored if nations see fit, he said.

“It’s true that a lot of states have that as a rule in their own domestic requirements, but it is not required by international law,” he said.

Neither did placing Snowden on an Interpol “red flag” list mean that states had to hand him over to the US. The procedure is an advisory measure that can be ignored, legal experts said.

A decision to give Snowden refuge has political consequences for Maduro, and provides his critics with ammunition.

Venezuela’s opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, has accused Maduro of using Snowden to distract voters from economic woes at home. “Nicolas, you can’t use asylum to cover up that you stole the election. That doesn’t give you legitimacy, nor make the people forget,” he said on Twitter.

Nicaragua’s president, Daniel Ortega, said he was willing to offer asylum, “if circumstances allow it”, although he did not say what the circumstances would be. Venezuela, though, appears a more likely host.

“Asylum for Snowden in Venezuela would be the best solution,” Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the international affairs committee of Russia’s lower house of parliament, said on Twitter. “That country is in a sharp conflict with the US.”

However, there are no direct commercial flights between Moscow and Caracas, and the usual route involves changing planes in Havana.

It is not clear whether the Cuban authorities would grant Snowden transit. However, Cuba has expressed sympathy for Snowden’s situation and accused the US of “trampling” on other states’ sovereignty.

Meanwhile, spotting Snowden is becoming a popular game among people passing through Sheremetyevo airport.

“I offered my kids $200 to get a picture of him,” said Simon Parry, a Briton who expressed sympathy for Snowden after spending a couple of hours in the airport.

“The wireless internet is appalling, the prices are awful, and people never smile,” Parry said. “So I commend him for making it 24 hours, let alone two weeks. I might rather face trial.”

See also
The U.S. Already Wants Venezuela to Send Snowden Home: The U.S. has pre-emptively sent an extradition request to Venezuela should the hacker find his way to the country after their president offered him a safe haven in the South American country. Hopefully they spelled his middle name right this time.

The Secret Rise of 21st Century Democracy

New economies based on greater democratic control, real representation and citizen participation are on the rise. There is much to be learned from countries like Venezuela that break from the Washington Consensus.

By Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers

February 20, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – If Americans knew the truth about the growth of real democracy in Venezuela and other Latin American countries, we would demand economic democracy and participatory government, which together would threaten the power of concentrated wealth. The seeds of both are beginning to sprout in the US despite efforts to keep Americans ignorant about them. Real democracy creates a huge challenge to the oligarchs and their neoliberal agenda because it is driven by human needs, not corporate greed. That is why major media in the US, which are owned by six corporations, aggressively misinform the public about Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution.

Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research writes, “The Western media reporting has been effective. It has convinced most people outside of Venezuela that the country is run by some kind of dictatorship that has ruined it.” In fact, just the opposite is true. Venezuela, since the election of Chavez, has become one of the most democratic nations on Earth. Its wealth is increasing and being widely shared. But Venezuela has been made so toxic that even the more liberal media outlets propagate distortions to avoid being criticized as too leftist. Venezuela is a front line in the battle between the elites and the people over US-style democracy, as we described in Part I of this series.

We spoke with Mike Fox, who went to Venezuela in 2006 to see for himself what was happening. Fox spent years documenting the rise of participatory democracy in Venezuela and Brazil. He found a grassroots movement creating the economy and government they wanted, often pushing Chavez further than he wanted to go. Venezuelan democracy and economic transformation are bigger than Chavez. Chavez opened a door to achieve the people’s goals: literacy programs in the barrios, more people attending college, universal access to health care, as well as worker-owned businesses and community councils where people make decisions for themselves. Change came through decades of struggle leading to the election of Chavez in 1998, a new constitution and ongoing work to make that constitution a reality.

Challenging American Empire

The subject of Venezuela is taboo because it has been the most successful country to repel the neoliberal assault waged by the US on Latin America. This assault included Operation Condor, launched in 1976, in which the US provided resources and assistance to bring friendly dictators who supported neoliberal policies to power throughout Latin America. These policies involved privatizing national resources and selling them to foreign corporations, de-funding and privatizing public programs such as education and health care, deregulating and reducing trade barriers.

In addition to intense political repression under these dictators between the 1960s and 1980s, which resulted in imprisonment, murder and disappearances of tens of thousands throughout Latin America, neoliberal policies led to increased wealth inequality, greater hardship for the poor and working class, as well as a decline in economic growth.

Neoliberalism in Venezuela arrived through a different path, not through a dictator. Although most of its 20th century was spent under authoritarian rule, Venezuela has had a long history of pro-democracy activism. The last dictator, Marcos Jimenez Perez, was ousted from power in 1958. After that, Venezuelans gained the right to elect their government, but they existed in a state of pseudo-democracy, much like the US currently, in which the wealthy ruled through a managed democracy that ensured the wealthy benefited most from the economy.

As it did in other parts of the world, the US pushed its neoliberal agenda on Venezuela through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. These institutions required Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) as terms for development loans. As John Perkins wrote inConfessions of an Economic Hit Man, great pressure was placed on governments to take out loans for development projects. The money was loaned by the US, but went directly to US corporations who were responsible for the projects, many of which failed, leaving nations in debt and not better off. Then the debt was used as leverage to control the government’s policies so they further favored US interests. Anun Shah explains the role of the IMF and World Bank in more detail in Structural Adjustment – a Major Cause of Poverty.

A turning point in the Venezuelan struggle for real democracy occurred in 1989. President Carlos Andres Perez ran on a platform opposing neoliberalism and promised to reform the market during his second term. But following his re-election in 1988, he reversed himself and continued to implement the “Washington Consensus” of neoliberal policies – privatization and cuts to social services. The last straw came when he ended subsidies for oil. The price of gasoline doubled and public transportation prices rose steeply. Protests erupted in the towns surrounding the capitol, Caracas, and quickly spread into the city itself. President Perez responded by revoking multiple constitutional rights to protest and sending in security forces who killed an estimated 3,000 people, most of them in the barrios. This became known as the “Caracazo” (“the Caracas smash”) and demonstrated that the president stood with the oligarchs, not with the people.

Under President Perez, conditions continued to deteriorate for all but the wealthy in Venezuela. So people organized in their communities and with Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez attempted a civilian-led coup in 1992. Chavez was jailed, and so the people organized for his release. Perez was impeached for embezzlement of 250 million bolivars and the next president, Rafael Caldera, promised to release Chavez when he was elected. Chavez was freed in 1994. He then traveled throughout the country to meet with people in their communities and organizers turned their attention to building a political movement.

Chavez ran for president in 1998 on a platform that promised to hold a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution saying, “I swear before my people that upon this moribund constitution I will drive forth the necessary democratic transformations so that the new republic will have a Magna Carta befitting these new times.” Against the odds, Chavez won the election and became president in 1999.

While his first term was cautious and center-left, including a visit by Chavez to the NY Stock Exchange to show support for capitalism and encourage foreign investment, he kept his promise. Many groups participated in the formation of the new constitution, which was gender-neutral and included new rights for women and for the indigenous, and created a government with five branches adding a people’s and electoral branches. The new constitution was voted into place by a 70 percent majority within the year. Chavez also began to increase funding for the poor and expanded and transformed education.

Since then, Chavez has been re-elected twice. He was removed from power briefly in 2002, jailed and replaced by Pedro Carmona, the head of what is equivalent to the Chamber of Commerce. Fox commented that the media was complicit in the coup by blacking it out and putting out false information. Carmona quickly moved to revoke the constitution and disband the legislature. When the people became aware of what was happening, they rapidly mobilized and surrounded the capitol in Caracas. Chavez was reinstated in less than 48 hours.

One reason the Chavez election is called a Bolivarian Revolution is because Simon Bolivar was a military political leader who freed much of Latin America from the Spanish Empire in the early 1800s. The election of Chavez, the new constitution and the people overcoming the coup set Venezuela on the path to free itself from the US empire. These changes emboldened the transformation to sovereignty, economic democracy and participatory government.

In fact, Venezuela paid its debts to the IMF in full five years ahead of schedule and in 2007 separated from the IMF and World Bank, thus severing the tethers of the Washington Consensus. Instead, Venezuela led the way to create the Bank of the South to provide funds for projects throughout Latin America and allow other countries to free themselves from the chains of the IMF and World Bank too.

The Rise of Real Democracy

The struggle for democracy brought an understanding by the people that change only comes if they create it. The people viewed Chavez as a door that was opened for them to create change. He was able to pass laws that aided them in their work for real democracy and better conditions. And Chavez knew that if the people did not stand with him, the oligarchs could remove him from power as they did for two days in 2002.

With this new understanding and the constitution as a tool, Chavez and the people have continued to progress in the work to rebuild Venezuela based on participatory democracy and freedom from US interference. Chavez refers to the new system as “21st century socialism.” It is very much an incomplete work in progress, but already there is a measurable difference.

Mark Weisbrot of CEPR points out that real GDP per capita in Venezuela expanded by 24 percent since 2004. In the 20 years prior to Chávez, real GDP per person actually fell. Venezuela has low foreign public debt, about 28 percent of GDP, and the interest on it is only 2 percent of GDP. Weisbrot writes: “From 2004-2011, extreme poverty was reduced by about two-thirds. Poverty was reduced by about one-half, and this measures only cash income. It does not count the access to health care that millions now have, or the doubling of college enrollment – with free tuition for many. Access to public pensions tripled. Unemployment is half of what it was when Chávez took office.” Venezuela has reduced unemployment from 20 percent to 7 percent.

Venezuela is making rapid progress on other measures too. It has a high human development index and a low and shrinking index of inequality. Wealth inequality in Venezuela is half of what it is in the United States. It is rated “the fifth-happiest nation in the world” byGallup. And Pepe Escobar writes that,”No less than 22 public universities were built in the past 10 years. The number of teachers went from 65,000 to 350,000. Illiteracy has been eradicated. There is an ongoing agrarian reform.” Venezuela has undertaken significant steps to build food security through land reform and government assistance. New homes are being built, health clinics are opening in underserved areas and cooperatives for agriculture and business are growing.

Venezuelans are very happy with their democracy. On average, they gave their own democracy a score of seven out of ten while the Latin American average was 5.8. Meanwhile, 57 percent of Venezuelans reported being happy with their democracy compared to an average for Latin American countries of 38 percent, according to a poll conducted by Latinobarometro. While 81 percent voted in the last Venezuelan election, only 57.5 percent voted in the recent US election.

This is not to say that the process has been easy or smooth. The new constitution and laws passed by Chavez have provided tools, but the government and media still contain those who are allied with the oligarchy and who resist change. People have had to struggle to see that what is written on paper is made into a reality. For example, Venezuelans now have the right to reclaim urban land that is fallow and use it for food and living. Many attempts have been made to occupy unused land and some have been met by hostility from the community or actual repression from the police. In other cases, attempts to build new universities have been held back by the bureaucratic process.

It takes time to build a new democratic structure from the bottom up. And it takes time to transition from a capitalist culture to one based on solidarity and participation. In “Venezuela Speaks,” one activist, Iraida Morocoima, says “Capitalism left us with so many vices that I think our greatest struggle is against these bad habits that have oppressed us.” She goes on to describe a necessary culture shift as, “We must understand that we are equal, while at the same time we are different, but with the same rights.”

Chavez passed a law in 2006 that united various committees in poor barrios into community councils that qualify for state funds for local projects. In the city, community councils are composed of 200 to 400 families. The councils elect spokespeople and other positions such as executive, financial and “social control” committees. The councilmembers vote on proposals in a general assembly and work with facilitators in the government to carry through on decisions. In this way, priorities are set by the community and funds go directly to those who can carry out the project such as building a road or school. There are currently more than 20,000 community councils in Venezuela creating a grassroots base for participatory government.

A long-term goal is to form regional councils from the community councils and ultimately create a national council. Some community councils already have joined as communes, a group of several councils, which then have the capacity for greater research and to receive greater funds for large projects.

The movement to place greater decision-making capacity and control of local funds in the hands of communities is happening throughout Latin America and the world. It is called participatory budgeting and it began in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1989 and has grown so that as many as 50,000 people now participate each year to decide as much as 20 percent of the city budget. There are more than 1,500 participatory budgets around the world in Latin America, North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Fox produced a documentary, Beyond Elections: Redefining Democracy in the Americas, which explains participatory budgeting in greater detail.

Democracy Is Coming to the USA

Participatory budgeting is a method of participatory government in which people manage public money. In this democratic process, community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. It provides communities with greater control over their economic lives and more input into the investments in their community.

In the US and Canada, participatory budgeting exists primarily at the city level for the municipal budget. It also has been used, however, for counties, states, housing authorities, schools and school systems, universities, coalitions, and other public agencies. The first city to put in place participatory budgeting on a citywide level is Vallejo, CA. Other US cities that have started using it are Chicago and New York.

Chicago was the first city in the US to use this process. Since 2009, residents of Chicago’s diverse 49th Ward have decided how to spend the $1.3 million annual capital budget of Alderman Joe Moore. Capital budgets do not include hiring people, but are for physical improvements to the neighborhood. Residents identify spending ideas and select community representatives in neighborhood assemblies. These representatives develop full project proposals from these ideas, and then residents vote on which projects to fund. The capital spending-budget pie chart has changed dramatically since it went under popular control. It moved from a handful of large projects to four or five times as many small projects, according to Maria Hadden, who was involved in the process and works with the Participatory Budgeting Project. Today, four Chicago aldermen use participatory budgeting.

In New York City in 2011, City Council Members Brad Lander, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Eric Ulrich, and Jumaane D. Williams launched a participatory budgeting process to let residents allocate part of their capital discretionary funds. In 2012, the number of Council Members involved in Participatory Budgeting in New York City doubled to include David Greenfield, Dan Halloran, Stephen Levin, and Mark Weprin, giving the community real decision-making power over approximately $10 million in taxpayer money. The response by participants in the process is very positive. There are many examples of the success of participatory budgeting from around the world.

Here is how the participatory budgeting process works: “Residents brainstorm spending ideas, volunteer budget delegates develop proposals based on these ideas, residents vote on proposals, and the government implements the top projects.” The people are not advisors in this process; they are decision-makers.

Participatory budgeting advocates point to six advantages of the process, which include greater transparency and accountability, greater understanding of both democracy and community needs and stronger connections between members of the community and their city.

Participatory budgeting does not cost the government any extra money. It is a method for deciding how to spend existing funds. To put in place participatory budgeting, political will is required from above, and community support from below. The budget needs to be controlled by someone willing to agree to permit the public to decide how to spend a portion of it. Usually, community organizations are involved to engage people and push the process forward, especially those working with marginalized communities. Participatory budgeting does not usually require any change in law. For more information, see: 72 Frequently Asked Questions about Participatory Budgeting, or attend their May conference, “Building a Democratic City.

In previous articles, we have written about other aspects of economic democracy including worker-directed businesses and cooperatives and community work. Participatory budgeting is another example of the kind of change that creates economic democracy, which is beginning totake root in the United States. Other changes include building sustainable local living economies, democratizing the money supply through alternative currencies and time banks, creating publicly owned banks, creating land trusts for permanently-affordable housing and establishing a universal, publicly-financed single-payer health care system. There is more information about these on our economic democracy web site,

Lessons for Americans and Others

The 21st century is a time to rethink where we are heading. It is time to form new economies based on greater democratic control and to build new formations of government based on modern constitutions that are more democratic, providing real representation as well as direct and participatory democracy. If the US media would stop demonizing Venezuela and other countries that break from the Washington Consensus and instead tell the truth, we could learn from their successes and failures and could vastly improve our own democracy and economy, both of which are doing poorly.

The US Constitution is treated by many with unquestioned reverence. But, in truth, it is a document that needs to be updated. Even a member of the US Supreme Court has made this point. Justice Ruth Ginsburg, when speaking to Egyptians who were considering their new constitution, urged Egyptians to look to other countries’ newer constitutions for guidance saying, “[I] would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” She noted several other models that have emerged and offer more specific and contemporary guarantees of rights and liberties, pointing to South Africa’s constitution, which she called a “really great piece of work” for its embrace of basic human rights and guarantee of an independent judiciary. She also noted Canada’s charter of rights and freedoms and the European Convention of Human Rights.

Thurgood Marshall, before he became a Supreme Court justice, assisted Kenya in writing its constitution, which he modeled after the European Convention on Human Rights. Unlike the US Constitution, the Kenyan document guarantees rights to education, health, welfare and a right to work. Other models of advanced constitutions are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the recent Iceland Constitutionwritten by crowd sourcing of their population and the Venezuelan Constitution. While the US Constitution was the model for the world in the 20th century, today constitutions of the world’s democracies are, on average, less similar to the US Constitution than they were at the end of World War II. Of course, there are excellent parts of the US Constitution, but surely we can learn from others.

The economic transformation of Venezuela is also a learning opportunity for the US, Europe and others. Venezuela is not moving toward Soviet or Chinese communism or centralized socialism, nor is it embracing US big finance-dominated capitalism. It is charting a new course – Chavez’ “21st Century Socialism” that is being built from the bottom up. Richard Gott writes in the Guardian:

The changes in Venezuela have had an effect beyond Venezuela. They have encouraged Argentina to default on its debt; to reorganize its economy thereafter and to renationalize its oil industry. Chávez has helped Evo Morales of Bolivia to run its oil and gas industry for the benefit of the country rather than its foreign shareholders, and more recently to halt the robbery by Spain of the profits of its electricity company. Above all, he has shown the countries of Latin America that there is an alternative to the single neoliberal message that has been endlessly broadcast for decades, by governments and the media in hock to an outdated ideology.

The essential lesson is a rejection of neoliberal policies of privatization, lack of investment in social services and placing the market in charge of the economy. Unfortunately, in the United States the Washington Consensus that destroyed Latin American economies is being applied at home creating a record wealth divide, widespread unemployment and underemployment, inadequate social programs and lack of investment in a new economy.  President Obama and Congress continue to move toward austerity and threaten a deeper recession or worse.

One country that has embraced similar reforms as Venezuela is Ecuador. The Center for Economic and Policy Research issued a report last week that found in Ecuador “possibly the most comprehensive financial reform of any country in the 21st century.” Ecuador’s “New Deal” nationalized the central bank, used the money to invest in infrastructure, housing and co-ops, enacted progressive taxes and capital controls, bargained hard on foreign loans and oil concessions, enforced anti-trust laws to break up the financier-owned media oligopoly, made a counter-cyclical fiscal stimulus of sufficient size, increased spending on health and education and is doing far better than it was before the Great Recession.

Like the Venezuelan experience, the experience in Ecuador should give Americans hope. Ecuadorians went against powerful forces – the US empire and its oligarchy. As the report notes, “A government committed to reform of the financial system, can – with popular support – confront an alliance of powerful, entrenched financial, political, and media interests and win.”

Predictably, the US corporate media, as it has done to Chavez and Venezuela, is attacking Ecuador and its popular president Rafael Correa. President Correa recently experienced a landslide re-election, yet The New York Times published what can only be described as a “hit piece” on him beforehand, headlined “Ecuador’s President Shows Confidence About Re-election, Too Much for Some” describing this populist democrat as authoritarian. Like Venezuela, Ecuador has a new constitution, challenged the oligarchic media and is in the midst of a “citizens’ revolution” that has included throwing the US out of a military base, for a time ending diplomatic relations with the US empire and providing diplomatic protection to Julian Assange.

There are lots of lessons for Americans: Build from the grassroots, keep building no matter who is elected, push your political friends farther than they want to go, don’t trust the corporate media and do question the official consensus of the political and economic class that rules us. In the end, we need to build the two pillars of economic democracy and participatory government to overcome the concentrated wealth and corrupt government that rules through a mirage of managed democracy. That is our task. It is a path of proven success.

You can hear our interview with Mike Fox and Maria Hadden on Participatory Democracy in Venezuela and the US on Clearing the FOG Radio (podcast) or view it on UStream/ItsOurEconomy.

Copyright – Truthout.

USAID applies in Latin America business of subversion: Golinger

USA goes on rampage over Iran’s Latin American ambitions


USA goes on rampage over Iran's Latin American ambitions. 46390.jpeg

Last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a week-long tour of Latin America. The Iranian leader visited Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador.

Ahmadinejad does not have many friends in the world. All of them, except for Syria, are in Latin America. Suffice it to say that it was his fifth visit to the region since 2007. Iran’s friendship with ALBA states (the bloc incudes the above-mentioned countries) is based on common anti-American views and the fund of $200 billion, which was established to struggle against the American imperialism.

According to The Miami Herald, Ahmadinejad embarked on the Latin American tour to raise his authority inside the country against the background of the loss of the support from the spiritual leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The author of the article  also said that Iranian reformers had become more active in Iran recently. It is not clear, though, where exactly the journalist found reformers in the totalitarian state.

As a matter of fact, the Iranian president enjoys high popularity in his country. It will be impossible for the Americans to find the fifth column there. The nuclear program has become the national idea of the country. The Iranians have a special holiday about it on their calendar. People come to the streets to express their protest against the United States. They all remember the Iranian-Iraqi war, when the USA supported Iraq and sold chemical weapons to it.

What was the point of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Latin America?

First and foremost, it goes about the pragmatic question. The Iranian leader toured Latin America to coordinate Iran’s actions with the OPEC  (Venezuela, Ecuador and Iran are OPEC members) and look for closer cooperation in the energy industry. Perhaps, it does not go about only oil. Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba may supposedly produce uranium for Iranian nuclear research. The countries may also ship the nuclear fuel to Iran via third countries. The information about it appeared in a secret report prepared by Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The political motivation of the tour is a very intriguing subject too. According to publications in the Western media, Iran was looking for support in Latin America to avoid international isolation and find approval to its nuclear program there.

First and foremost, there is no isolation. Libya has taught a lesson to Russia and China. However, US President Barack Obama introduced sanctions against those, who wanted to do trade with Iran. Secondly, Iran does not have to look for support in Latin America just because the country already has it.

“The Iranians have a vision of themselves of being a global power, and they feel that they have the momentum,” says Roger Noriega, a Republican foreign policy hawk who headed the U.S. State Department’s Latin American affairs office during the George W. Bush presidency.

“They feel that they blocked the U.S. presence in Iraq, they are angling to undermine the U.S. agreement with Afghanistan, and they want to challenge us in our neighborhood,” he adds.

Indeed, there is a challenge: “You go to the Middle East, and we go to your backyard.”

The scale of the competition is incomparable, of course. However, the Americans are still concerned. U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami labeled Ahmadinejad’s trip “the tour of tyrants.”

“The growing alliances between Iran and anti-American dictatorships in the Western Hemisphere pose a serious threat to democracy and stability in the region. The recent revelation that the Consul General at Venezuela’s Miami office was engaged in illicit activities with the Iranian regime shows that these ties are active and growing,” she said.

According to The Washington Post, Ahmadinejad tries to set up elite units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards known as Al Quds. The newspaper refers to those troops as a “terrorist group” which would be capable of organizing another 9/11 in the USA in return to a possible attack against the nuclear objects of Iran. The publication claims that it was Iranian special services that organized the explosions at Jewish public organizations in Argentina in 1992.

The reasons for the anti-Iranian hysteria in the United States are easy to understand. Barack Obama signed a new defense strategy on December 31, 2011. The strategy names the Asian-Pacific region and the Middle East a priority strategy region of defense presence. Figuratively speaking, Ahmadinejad is like a dangerous wolf for the United States. He is not like Hugo Chavez, whom the US treats like a gnat.

As for Latin American publications, all of them pointed out one interesting detail about all this. The Iranian President did not visit Brazil. Indeed, not so long ago, Brazil was actively supporting Iran. The country even offered its own variant for solving the problems of the Iranian nuclear problem. However, all that was during the time when Lula da Silva was Brazil’s President.

His successor, Dilma Rousseff,  takes a pragmatic position. Brazil’s Estadao newspaper wrote that the whole country took a breath of relief after it became known that Ahmadinejad was not going to visit the country during his trip. However, Brazil should not disregard Iran as a partner, who acts as an important exporter of Brazilian meat.

Brazil does not want to cooperate with Iran much. Brazil’s key trade partner is the USA, not Iran. In addition, Brazil would like not to annoy the US administration that has just lifted a duty for the import of Brazilian ethanol – an important constituent of Brazilian export. Other countries of Latin America prefer to mind their business for similar reasons.

As for the members of the ALBA bloc, they are not afraid of the USA. Foreign Minister of Ecuador, Ricardo Paltino, stated that Ecuador, being a sovereign state, would continue to support its ties with Iran depending on its own interests. Ecuador is not going to follow any instructions or recommendations from the US State Department.

ALBA leaders set out their certainty in the peaceful character of the Iranian nuclear program. They also pointed out the hypocrisy of the Western countries, who condemn Iran supporting the nuclear program of Israel.

The Cuban press said that Ahmadinejad’s visit was more of the economic, rather than of the political character. Most of the Iranian delegation consisted of businessmen and ministers for energy. Iran has been investing in various projects in Latin America during the recent years. In Venezuela, Iran participated in the construction of 14,000 buildings, 26 factories processing agricultural products, a car assembly work and a petrochemical plant.

Iran agreed to support Nicaragua in building small hydroelectric power plants. The country plans investments in the fishing industry, housing development, cement production, automotive production and in the agricultural sector. Cuba built the Middle East’s largest center for genetic engineering and biotechnologies in Teheran in 2001. The project was evaluated at $500, 000. Teheran opened a credit line for the country in the amount of $700 million.

“In my meeting, the Iranian president was highly calm, unstressed and completely indifferent to the Yankees’ threats. He was certain of his nation’s capability to confront any aggression and Iran’s arms capability, weapons that most of them are produced by Iranians to give an unforgivable response to the aggressors,” Fidel Castro said after meeting Ahmadinejad.

Lubov Lulko

600 million vs. USA

600 million vs. USA. 46254.jpeg

In December, the leaders of 33 American countries situated southward of US borders gathered in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas. The leaders signed the agreement about the establishment of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Therefore, Rio Group and the Latin American and Caribbean Summit will not gather any longer. The new organization, which represents the countries with the total population of 600 million, has the largest oil, gas and water reserves in the world. The CELAC may eventually play the role of one of the centers of the multipolar world.

The new organization will deal with developing economic integration and reaching consensus on all regional and world issues. As for the ideology, the organization takes an independent stand. It sees no ties with the Anglo-Saxon “North” and eyes the cooperation with the “South” – China, first and foremost. China supported the establishment of the CELAC.

Interestingly enough, the community of 33 appeared almost immediately after considerable progress in the realization of the idea of the Eurasian Union. It is obvious that the idea of integration still occupies the minds of politicians despite the shattering grounds of the European Union.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff supported the idea of her Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez to create a strong association of various political forces. The goal of the association would be to reduce poverty and stratification of the society with the help of large state-run social programs. The state in this popular Latin American model will play the role of a trade union between business and workers.

The idea for 33 countries to unite appeared a long time ago. It could not be realized at first, because the leaders of Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Chile, Peru and several Caribbean states followed the instructions from Uncle Sam. However, the crisis of neoliberalism made many turn towards the dynamically developing Brazil.

During the first summit, the CELAC members discussed whether the Community was going to cooperate with the Organization of American States, which has the US and Canada as its members. OAS Secretary General Jose Manuel Insulza diplomatically said that he did not have anything against the CELAC. “I think we will complement each other,” the official said. Nearly all leaders of the new organization supported his opinion. Cuban leader Raul Castro stated that the CELAC did not have the goal to either challenge or replace the OAS. Even Hugo Chavez urged the organizations to maintain friendly relations.

A group of Republican Congressmen addressed to the US Congress with a suggestion to stop paying the quota to the OAS, because the organization began to turn into a non-democratic and destabilizing structure, as they said. It does not mean that the United States is going to leave its backyard to the mercy of fate. The US has bigger priorities in the Middle East, of course. However, the US decided to reestablish its Fourth Fleet as soon as the Unasur (Union of South American Nations) created the Defense Council to defend its open oil fields in the eastern shelf.

The OAS was established by the United States. The organization appeared to defend US interests. Cuba used to be a member of the organization as well. The country was used to support South American dictatorships and military coups in Venezuela, Panama and Honduras. Nowadays, the geopolitical situation in the world is completely different. All of those and other countries of the region are ruled by democratically elected governments. Central American island states received independence too.

Colombia and Venezuela established a dialogue; the commodity circulation between the countries began to grow. The sitting Colombian president proved that he was capable of solving problems without the help from the “master.” The OAS will no longer be approving the decisions which the United States needs.

Some specialists believe that the CELAC is another “abbreviation soup” which has appeared on the “menu” consisting of various regional associations Caricom, lAEC, Sica, CAN, Otca, Mercosur, Unasur and so on. However, all of those organizations unite America’s subregions to the south of the United States. It is only the CELAC that unites all countries, including the English-speaking ones (Jamaica, Trinidad, Tobago, etc), the French-speaking Haiti and the Dutch-speaking Surinam.

The Unasur, for example, currently conducts 510 integration projects in the amount of $67 billion dollars. Brazil actively invests in the infrastructure of Argentina, Chile, Peru, Venezuela and other countries. It builds the largest port in Cuba and hydro-electric plants in Haiti and Nicaragua. As for Haiti, the country will receive the plant free of charge, taking into consideration the disastrous state of affairs in the country. There is also an agreement between Brazil, Cuba and Haiti to build medical institutions in Haiti. The investments in the projects are evaluated at $80 million.

Integration has made life easier in the Amazonian region. The hydro-electric power plant in the south of Venezuela provides electricity for Roraima – a remote and least populated Brazilian state. Amazonia’s capital – Manaus – can now use broadband Internet connection via Venezuela’s CANTV company. Many giggled when Chavez put forward the idea to build a gas pipeline across South America. Nowadays, the project is being realized; Russia’s Gazprom takes an active part in it.

Brazil and Argentina increase the volume of settlements in the national currency. Cuba prepares highly qualified medical personnel for the region.

For the time being, the CELAC will operate as a forum for dialogues and consultations. In a year, the participants will have to discuss whether their decisions are going to be made via the consensus or the majority, which may split the organization.

The views and interests in the region are diverse. The economic conditions and the living standards in various countries are also different. Bolivia does not have access to the sea, Costa Rico and Nicaragua have territorial claims to each other, the government of Honduras is not recognized by the majority of states, and so on and so forth.

However, many agree with Hugo Chavez, who stated that the establishment of the CELAC became the most important event, which took place in America during the last 100 years. Similarly to the EU, the CELAC will be governed by three leaders – the presidents of Chile, Cuba and Venezuela. The next summits of the organization will take place in these countries in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Lubov Lulko


To honor the memory of the immortal Che

Che Guevara and the dead who never die

Source: Carta Maior

Eduardo Galeano says when he met Che Guevara, he was a man who said exactly what he thought, and lived exactly what he said. So it would be today. There aren’t many men carved in this wood. As a matter of fact, there isn’t much of that wood in the world. But there are the dead who never die. Like Che.

And of the dead men who never die, we must honor their memory, to deserve his legacy, to be able to understand it. Not on T-shirts: but in dreams, in hopes, in certainties. So they never die.

by Eric Nepomuceno.

On the day they executed Che Guevara in La Higuera, in a hamlet lost in the wilds of Bolivia, Julio Cortazar – who was then working as a translator for UNESCO – was in Algiers. At that time – October 9, 1967 – the news took much more than a day to travel around the world, and still more to get to Algiers from La Higuera.

Twenty days later, back in Paris, where he lived, Cortázar wrote a letter to Cuban poet Roberto Fernandez Retamar telling what he felt: “I let the days go by in a nightmare, buying one newspaper after another, without wanting them to convince me, looking at these pictures that we all look at, reading the same words and entering, one hour after another, in the hardest conformity… It is the truth that I am writing today, and before that, it seems to me the most banal of the arts, a kind of refuge, almost of pretense, replacing the irreplaceable. Che died, and I have nothing more than silence.”

But he wrote:

I had a brother

that was in the mountains

while I was sleeping.

I wanted it my way,

I took his voice

free like water

I walked at times

near his shadow.

We never met

but no matter,

my brother was awake

while I was sleeping,

my brother appearing

behind the night

its chosen star.

Cortazar’s anxiety, the anguish of knowing that there was no other choice but to accept the truth, the fog of a nightmare from which no one could wake up and leave. All this happened again, that October 9th, 1967, for people throughout the world who, like him, had never met Che.

After exactly 44 years had passed from when Che was killed, what comes to mind are the words of Cortazar, the poem I remember in his serious and and definitive voice: “I had a brother, we never met but no matter, my brother was awake while I slept, my brother appeared behind the night, its chosen star.”

The previous day, October 8, 1967, Ernesto Guevara, mistreated, isolated from the world and life, with a leg injured by a bullet and caught loading a gun, surrendered. He looked like a beggar, a pilgrim from one’s own dreams, he was thin, the thinness of the strange and abandoned ones. He was taken to a hut where he was working in a rural school in La Higuera.

The next day he was interrogated. First, by a Bolivian lieutenant named Andres Selich. Then a colonel, also Bolivian, named Joaquin Zenteno Anaya, and a Cuban named Félix Rodríguez, a CIA agent. Then came the final order: General René Barrientos, Bolivia’s president, told them to liquidate the subject.

The choice to execute him was a soldier called Mario Terán. The final instruction: Do not shoot the face. Only from the neck down. First the soldier hit the arms and legs of Che. Then, the chest. The last of the eleven shots were fired at 1:10 that Monday afternoon, October 9, 1967.

Four months and 16 days earlier, Che turned 39 years of age. His last image: the skinny body, lying spread out on a laundry tub in a wretched shack in a miserable hamlet of a miserable country in Latin America. His definitive face, his open eyes – as if looking at a future that he dreamed, but would not see, looking at each one of us, his eyes open forever.

Forty-four years after that Monday, a new man dreamed that it did not happen. Would his ideas fit in today’s world? How would he see what happened and is happening? What would he have thought to learn in that he became a kind of icon of romantic dreams that lost their place?

Would there be a place for Che Guevara in this world that seems to be crumbling, but even so still persists, insists in believing in a future of justice and harmony? Would there be a place for him in these times of meanness, greed, selfishness?

It should have. It must have. Che has become a commonplace icon, a beautiful face printed on T-shirts. But he knew, he knows, that it was much more than that. What existed there, what existed behind that face? This is the question that prevails.

Che lived a short life. More years went by since his death than the years of life that he lived. And the question remains, persistent and stubborn as he is known to be. How would Che Guevara be in these our days of fear? He would perhaps change some ideas without changing one millimeter of his principles.

Eduardo Galeano says he met Che Guevara: he was a man who said exactly what he thought, and lived exactly what he said.

So it would be today.

Now there aren’t many men carved in this wood. In fact, there’s not much of that wood in this world. But there are the dead who never die. Like Che.

And of the dead who never die, it is necessary to honor their memory. His legacy deserves to be known and to be understood. Not on T-shirts, but: in dreams, in hopes, in certainties. So they never die. Like Che.

Latin America: Growth, Stability and Inequalities: Lessons for the US and EU

By James Petras

October 02, 2011 “Information Clearing House” — The image of Latin America portrayed by the mass media and held by the educated public is a region of frequent coups, periodical revolutions, perpetual military dictatorships, alternating boom and bust economies and an ever-present International Monetary Fund (IMF) dictating economic policy.

In contrast the same opinion makers plus their academic counterparts project images of the United States and the European Union as stable societies, with steady economic growth, incremental expansion of social welfare programs, resolving issues via consensual compromises and practicing sound fiscal policies.

In recent times, the better part of the current decade, these images have taken on the character of ideological dogmas – they no longer correspond to reality. In fact a good argument can be made that the roles have been reversed: the US and EU are in perpetual crises and Latin America, at least most of the major countries, have experienced stability and growth which is the envy (or should be) of Washington pundits and financial commentators. This ‘role reversal’ has been recognized by many US, EU and Asian investors and multinationals, even as respectable journalistic hacks for the Financial Times, NY Times and Wall Street Journal still write about vulnerabilities, imbalances and other weaknesses while grudgingly acknowledging the dynamic growth of the region.

Progressive opinion is equally at fault, focusing on the ‘advances’ of the left regimes but overlooking the underlying dynamics affecting most of the region and thus losing sight of the new points of conflict and contention.

We will proceed to outline the contrasting realities between the crises ridden “North” (US/EU) and the sustained growth of the “South” (South America). The analysis will raise questions of whether the South American experience is transferable to the North and what ‘structural adjustments’ would be necessary to pull the US and EU out of the downward spiral of stagnation and violent conflicts which have characterized these regions for the better part of the past decade.

The Lost Decade, US and EU Style

The Latin American countries during the 1980’s experienced a deep and persistent crises, manifested in negative growth, increased poverty levels and heavy indebtedness, which allowed creditors (like the IMF) to impose harsh and regressive austerity measures and “structural adjustment” policies which came to be known as ‘neo-liberalization’. These included the privatization of most strategic, lucrative public enterprises, and the ending of any semblance of state directed industrial strategies. For the peasants and the working and middle class the short-lived neo-liberal “boom” of the 1990’s was a continuation of the ‘lost decade’ of the 1980’s. The neo-liberal policies of the 1990’s were based on fundamentally flawed structural foundations and polarizing income and public expenditures involving huge transfers of income to capital and downward pressures on wages and welfare. The neo-liberal regimes

went into a deep crisis early in 2000 provoking major popular upheavals. The outcome resulted in a new set of political configurations and social power equations, which evolved into new post-neoliberal regimes, at least in most of the major countries in Latin America.

In contrast and in part thanks to the profitable opportunities opened by the debt crises and neo-liberalization of Latin America in the 1990’s (and in the ex-Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and the Baltic/Balkan states) the US and EU prospered. In Latin America over 5,000 lucrative extractive resource based industries, banks, telecommunications and other industries passed into the hands of foreign private MNC and local capital .High returns on bonds and loans and rents from technology transfers enriched the Northern capitalists even as poverty multiplied in the South. The 1990’s was the “golden age” of Western capital as profits rose and leftist parties and the traditional urban trade unions appeared unable to withstand the ‘wave’ of predatory capitalism capturing the commanding heights of the economy.

The very successes of the US and EU countries, the enormous easy gains from pillage, speculation, and exploitation led to the dominance of financial capital and the belief in an irrevocable “new world order”. The dominance of the US and EU was built on their military superiority backed by pliant, collaborative, neo-liberal client regimes. The ‘new order’ lasted less than a decade: the economic crises of 1999/2000 smashed the illusions of a century of imperial grandeur. As markets collapsed so too did the Latin American oligarchic electoral regimes (dubbed “democracies”) which along with the financial elite and the military formed the triple alliance that defined Western supremacy. The final blow was the economic crises of 2001-2002 in the US and EU which steeply eroded their capacity to intervene and prop up their collapsing Latin clients ousted by rebellious masses.

The first decade of the new millennia has been the ‘lost decade’ of the North. Over the course of the past eleven years the North has witnessed stagnation and recessions which have not given way to recoveries. The capitalist states temporarily saved the bankers but were powerless to set in motion economic growth.

The credit rating of the US economy was downgraded by the risk agencies. Unemployment and underemployment hovers close to one-fifth of the labor force, figures comparable to stagnant Third World countries. Social programs are severely slashed in the US and throughout the European Union, reversing decades of incremental gains. Trade and budget deficits in the US have become chronic, while private and public lenders are becoming increasingly reticent to lend in the face of deep-seated recessionary tendencies. The financial sector in the US and EU is rife with large scale fraud, swindles, mismanagement and falsified balance sheets, conditions previously prevalent among Latin economies. Wars proliferate. Military spending far exceeds productive investments, draining the US economy in a fashion reminiscent of the weapons spending during the reign of the warlords of Africa and the military dictators of Latin America. In the EU faced with brutal cuts in wages, pensions and jobs millions of workers and unemployed youth in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy have taken to the streets. General strikes threaten the stability of increasingly isolated regimes, reminiscent of the popular rebellions which resulted in regime changes in Latin America in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. In the US, public protests reflect deepening private discontent: over 75% of the population expresses negative views of the Congress and 60% of the White House. Deepening political alienation of the US electorate is comparable to the loss of popular faith in Latin governments during the “lost decades”, 1980-2000.

Both the US and the EU have been radically transformed for the worse during the ‘lost decade’ of the current century. Economically, politically and socially the ‘North’ has been “Latin Americanized’: Social instability, economic stagnation, political alienation, growing class inequalities and poverty is presided over by corrupt political elites.

Signs of the Better Times: Latin America:

Recently the finance minister of Brazil raised the possibility that the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) might take a hand in a “rescue plan” to prop up the crises ridden economies of Europe. While the statement had greater symbolic rather substantive consequences, it does reflect a certain reality: while the North plunges into deeper, unending crises, the Latin economies are doing reasonably well.

Except for the Latin countries still under US dominance, especially Mexico and most of Central America, the rest of Latin America has not only avoided the crises afflicting the North but have been growing at a healthy rate, three times that of the US over the decade. The new millennium, especially between 2003-2011 (except for a brief interlude in 2009) has been a period of high growth, general prosperity, booming exports, rising imports, greater inter-regional co-operation, and large scale poverty reduction.

Brazil alone has reduced the number of poor by 30 million. Regular elections, relatively honest and competitive, result in stable legitimate transfers of political power. Except for US backed coups in Honduras and intervention in Haiti and Venezuela, violent seizures of power have disappeared, over the past decade. Regional institution – building has prospered with the advent of UNASUR and a Latin American regional bank.

Because of fiscal controls and banking regulations, both results of the lessons learned from the crisis of the lost decades (1980-2000), Latin America was only slightly affected by the US-EU financial crash of 2008-2011. Latin American trade has doubled, especially with Asia, aided by China’s double digit growth. Demand for agro-mineral commodities has tripled. The key to this new export powered growth is Latin America’s growing economic independence. This has led to the diversification of its markets, taking advantage of new opportunities and reducing their dependence on the US. Latin America’s emphasis on economic growth, new markets and investments, has led it to avoid entanglements in the proliferating and costly colonial wars which engage the US and EU.

While the US and EU print more money and increase indebtedness to cover trade deficits, Latin America has quadrupled its foreign reserves. These cushion any downturns and avoid any dependence on the IMF, architect of the lost decades of the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Within Latin America, the issue of poverty reduction has been tackled with varying degrees of effectiveness. With Venezuela under President Chavez leading the way the general direction has been toward increasing social payments, by increments in most cases, but with greater efforts in others. Except for Mexico, nothing resembling the social cuts of the US-EU has taken place in Latin America. The most striking structural advances have occurred in Venezuela and to a lesser degree in Argentina. They have significantly increased the minimum wage and pensions and increased welfare payments to the most vulnerable (single mothers, the disabled, those in extreme poverty).

With the exception of Colombia (the US’s principle military ally in the region) which is still the murder capital of the world for human rights advocates, trade unionists and peasant activists, human rights violations have declined. While the US-EU have vastly increased their human rights violations geometrically via multiple colonial wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and clandestine death squad ‘operations’, Latin America’s overseas human rights violations are largely limited to its occupation forces in Haiti – at the behest of the US and EU. Nevertheless repression of popular movements, especially indigenous peoples and peasant movements and students has increased in Bolivia, Chile, Brazil and elsewhere as the high growth policies on community rights and social expenditures.

Because of Latin America’s current political stability and dynamic growth, institutional and corporate investment is pouring into the region. In contrast the US and EU are suffering from disinvestment and declining rates of private investment. In other words, the development of Latin America is the other side of the coin of the US-EU underdevelopment.

Latin America: New Contradictions

The class struggle is still the motor force in the social progress of Latin America. But unlike EU-US, Latin America’s class struggle is directed at increasing social and monitory wages, even if incrementally, as part of an offensive strategy to capture a greater shares of rising income. In the US and EU the class struggle is ‘defensive’: an effort to stop declining income shares, limit job losses and cuts in pensions.

While militant class action including land occupations, street demonstrations and strikes are still part of the repertory of working class social weapons, they take place within the political parameters of democratic institutions. In Europe the elites have increasingly ignored mass street protests and strikes, largely pursuing austerity policies dictated by non-elected domestic and foreign bankers and creditors.

The limitations and ‘contradictions’ affecting all Latin America countries are located in the internal class inequalities. As national income has increased and exports boom, the inequalities between the ruling investor class and the mass of wage earners has increased. While initially the problem of class inequality was papered over by the general rise in living standards and employment, over time the employed and productive classes are no longer satisfied with incremental gains which barely surpass inflation rates. The rising standards of living have raised expectations. The percentage of poor may have declined but subsisting just above $4 dollars a day is increasingly unacceptable. Growth brings forth its own set of contradictions and a new set of demands. Formerly excluded classes included in the system, but exploited, have only their class organizations as their weapons to advance their socio-economic interests.

This is clearly the case in contemporary Chile where long term growth is accompanied by deeply entrenched inequalities comparable to the worse in the OECD. Beginning in July 2011 massive student protests over the high cost of public and private education and low levels of social expenditures have detonated mass activity from trade unions covering the gamut of economic sectors from teachers to copper miners.

The new and explosive issue confronting rulers and ruled in most of high growth Latin

America is raising incomes for whom? The class issues are front and foremost in the current period and immediate future.

Growth, stability and democratic class struggles characterize most of the major countries, but not all. In several countries, the authoritarian and violent legacy of the dictatorial regimes continues robust. Colombia’s practice of murdering trade unionists, peasant leaders, journalists and human rights activists continues unabated: over 30 trade unionists were murdered during the first 8 months of 2011.

Honduras’ ruling regime, product of a US backed coup and its allies among the paramilitary private armies of landowners, have killed scores of peasants and dozens of pro-democracy political and social activists.

Mexico’s killing fields are notorious: over 40,000 people have been killed by the police, military and drug gangs in a ‘war on drugs’ promoted by Obama and implemented by President Calderon.

What these three retro-regimes have in common is that they continue to follow the dictates of Washington, remain highly militarized states, with a strong US military and police presence in the form of bases, overseas advisers, and an intrusive role in setting policy. All three have failed to diversify markets and continue with a high degree of dependence on the stagnant US market. All have secured or are in the process of signing bi-lateral free trade agreements at the expense of exploring greater links with the dynamic Asian markets.

The 3 retro-regimes have never experienced the kind of popular rebellions and resultant center-left regimes which have emerged in most of Latin America. In Mexico pro-democracy candidates were twice defrauded of electoral victories, first in 1988 and later in 2006. In Honduras, a progressive liberal democratic President seeking to diversify markets was ousted by a military coup backed by the Obama regime in 2010. In Colombia, the murder of 5,000 activists and leaders of the pro-democracy Patriotic Union between 1984-86, the subsequent assassination of several thousand social activists, blocked a democratic opening. The abrupt termination of peace negotiations in 2002 and the total militarization of the country (2002-2011) funded by $6 billion in US military aid precluded the emergence of the political and social changes, which have dynamized the rest of Latin America’s sustained growth and opened the door for ‘democratic class struggle’.

While most of Latin America has forged ahead, thus far largely avoiding the instability and economic crises of the US and EU, past legacies and present inequities present a new set of structural impediments to the consolidation of long-term growth and political and social stability. The biggest structural contradiction is found in the high growth/increasing inequalities, socio-economic model based on the “3 ½ alliance”: foreign capital-national capital-the developmental state and the co-opted trade union/peasant leaders. The profits and investments of this power configuration has been driven by the growth of agro-mineral exports, rising commodity prices, easy consumer credit and state regulation of financial markets. The economic returns on growth have been disproportionately appropriated by the “big three” with incremental payoffs to a minority of better paid organized workers. The ‘residuals’ are used to “lift the poor” from abject poverty to subsistence. These growing inequalities have been “papered over” by the general rise of income, easy credit and improved public services. But rising incomes have set in motion a new set of class conflicts which will be exacerbated when the prices of commodities decline and the governments can no longer fund incremental improvements. Even today, severe conflicts have emerged between predator mining and timber, multi nationals and Indian/peasants in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Chile. These sometimes violent struggles between the state/MNC and peasants in the “periphery of the countryside” can detonate a larger conflict in the central cities, if export revenues decline.

The second contradiction is between the “marginalized working poor” and a new class of local middle and business class investors who have invested their “savings” in shares of the foreign and locally owned mining companies. Conservative and closely aligned with the rapacious multi-nationals, these new middle class investors have enriched themselves on the bases of unregulated plunder of natural resources and contamination of the adjoining rural communities. If and when commodity prices nose dive, the regimes will face a bankrupt hysterical middle class looking for a political savior where none exist, at least among the existing civilian parties.

The rightward drift of the center-left regimes and their opportune links to big business especially in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay has led to corruption in high places. Liberalization and exorbitant executive salaries has been accompanied by “unofficial payoffs” to public officials. Corruptions has eroded the social ethic of center-left politicians and replaced it with the ethos of “bringing in new and bigger investments”, whatever shortcuts and payoffs it requires. Corruption at the top spreads downwards greasing the wheels for foreign investors, but certainly lowering the trust and loyalties of employees and formal and informal workers not in the ‘magic circle’ a bribe takers and givers. “Patronage” and poverty reduction payouts can limit the fallout from corruption in high places among poverty funded recipients. However, in time of economic downturn, it can turn social protests toward political regime change.

The third contradiction is found between the high level of dependency on commodity exports (which heretofore have been the dynamic element of growth) and the relative and absolute decline of manufacturing exports and production. The growth of income from commodities has led to the appreciation of the currency which has lessened the competitiveness of nationally produced manufactured products, leading to a sharp decline in profits and even bankruptcy.

Asian manufacturer-exporters – especially in China and to a lesser extent India and Korea – are increasingly penetrating Latin markets with lower cost finished products “de-industrializing” the Latin economies. In some cases, Latin American capitalists are looking to investing in Asia to lower costs and exporting back to their “home markets”. Brazilian industry which has been hardest hit, has initiated “protectionist” measures including tariffs, 65% local content rules and state subsidies to counter the de-diversification of the economy.

The fourth contradiction is found precisely in the successful economic growth and high returns, which has attracted both speculative and “takeover” capital as well as productive

investments. Speculative capital will flee and destabilize the financial system at the first sign of slowdown. Foreign ownership will lessen the government’s ability to leverage investment decisions in time of crises. Productive investments respond to expanding markets they do not create them.

In summary, Latin America’s decade long dynamic growth has certainly out-performed the US and EU on a whole series of important economic, social and political dimensions. Yet, out of this growth have emerged a new set of contradictions and the need to correct increasingly grave “imbalances”: popular demands for a shift in income distribution, industrialists pressure for a rebalancing of the economy from dependence on finance and commodities to manufacturing and the urban poor demand improved social services especially in public health care and crowded classrooms. These changes require a structural adjustment in the power structure. The economic imbalances reflect the growing concentration of political power among the extractive capitalists, bankers and local middle class investors of the major cities. Public employees, labor, the urban poor, the peasants and environmentally concerned Indians and ecologists, are marginalized from the key economic posts. They need to once again take to the streets with new independent movements which raise two basic questions: What kind of growth and growth for whom?

Lessons Latin America: Listen Yankees and Eurocrats

Can the positive lessons of the dynamic Latin American experience provide a ‘model’ for the US and Europe? Is the “model”, in whole or part, transferable to the North or are the two regions so different that the lessons are not applicable?

Granted there are vast historical, cultural, economic and political differences between the regions yet some lessons from the Latin America’s decade of dynamic growth, provides new ideas to counter the negative, self-defeating economic formulas put forth and practiced by US and EU experts, economists and policymakers.

Let us start from the beginning. The rise of Latin America was precipitated by a deep economic crisis, the breakdown of the economy, large scale unemployment and the impoverishment of the middle class. The crises led to the total discrediting of what has been called alternately the “free market”, “neo-liberal” and “de-regulated” capitalist model. So far so good: the US and EU likewise are experiencing a prolonged and deepening economic crises which has bankrupted Southern Europe, plunged the US into a double dip recession and led to a 20% un and underemployment rate. The entire “political class” in the US and Europe is largely discredited. From there forward the regions diverge.

In Latin America, the crises led to mass protests, popular uprisings and regime changes. Post neo-liberal center-left regimes, under mass pressure, subsequently launched employment generating investments and aid poverty reducing public works programs. Argentina facing a financial crisis similar to Greece, Portugal and Spain today, defaulted on its foreign debt – channeling public revenues into reviving the economy. Because financial speculation linked to Wall Street and the City of London precipitated the crises, the Latin regimes instituted financial controls and regulations which limited financial volatility. The new regimes, influenced by the commodity boom, diversified their trading partners, entering dynamic Asian markets, reaping high returns and stimulating local consumption and public investments. What lessons can the crises ridden US and EU learn from the Latin America’s successful recovery and expansion?

First, the beginning of a successful response depends on a political transformation. Regime change a complete break with the ‘neo-liberal’ free market, and the political leaders and parties who are totally embedded in failed institutions and policies. Regime change presupposes the eruption of dynamic mass organizations, new, old, improvised and organized, capably of moving from protest and resistance to political power.

The object is to rebalance the US and EU economies from ‘financialization’ and “militarism” to large scale, long term investments in manufacturing, applied technology, civilian infrastructure and social services. Direct public investments and loans applied to concrete employment generating projects; total rejection of trickle down, monetary policies which never move from private banks to public works.

The entire militarist- Zionist-permanent war mentality is entirely vulnerable to change: doing so, will create jobs, the top priority for over two-thirds of the US public. The “war on terrorism”, the banner of the warlords in office, is considered a priority by only 3% of Americans. Once again the shift from ‘militarism’ to the civilian economy in Latin America was a result of popular civilian upheavals, via the street and the ballot box.

Of course the Latin American republics had an easier time in rebalancing their economic priorities from failed military rulers and discredited neo-liberal policies. Citizen movements in the US and EU imperial states will have a harder time in closing down hundreds of military bases, ousting militarist politicians backed by powerful domestic and foreign lobbies and converting the empires to productive republics. Yet, Latin American exporters have prospered by avoiding entanglement in overseas imperial wars. They continue to pursue new markets in the Middle East and elsewhere instead of destroying adversaries of Israel as the EU and US have done through colonial wars in Iraq and Libya and sanctions against Iran, Syria and Venezuela.

The contrasting performance between Latin republics and Euro-American empire builders is striking. The US and EU should shed their self-centered images of “successful” developed countries and outdated stereotype of Latin America as a collection of “volatile”, coup prone underdeveloped countries. The US is in deep trouble and it is heading into a deeper, less manageable economic crisis with few resources to counter it. Internationally it is increasingly isolated and in conflict with potential economic partners. Washington sides with Israel, alienating over 1.5 billion rich and poor Islamic peoples, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and all points east, west and south. It antagonizes Brazil via financial pump priming, overpricing the real (Brazilian currency) without helping US recovery.

Domestic and international failures multiply as the crisis deepens and nothing proposed by the blighted incumbents and besotted opposition offers any programmatic solution.

As in Latin America during the first years of this decade we need a popular rebellion: we need a profound regime change; we need to think of productive public investments not monumental loss of capital via Wall Street speculation and the waste of public resources via expenditures in weapons of destruction.

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He is the author of 64 books published in 29 languages, and over 560 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and Journal of Peasant Studies.

He received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Information Clearing House


Latin America at the Crossroads

The political changes in the world in recent decades confirm that the future can only be sustainable under new comprehensive projects, based on progress, social justice and popular democracy. Earlier this year, the joint newsletter of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) announced a decline in unemployment in this region due to the economic results of 2010.

Latin America and the Caribbean had a six percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP), despite the crisis, thanks to domestic economic adjustments in much of the region and the intensification of new global links, particularly with China.

The document of both organizations, pertaining to the United Nations, established that Latin America faces the challenge of creating quality green jobs, defined as those which contribute decisively to promote the transition to an economy with lower carbon emissions.

Thus it is expected to avoid dangerous and irreversible effects of climate change on companies and workers.

The economic recovery of most Latin American and Caribbean countries during the last year allowed unemployment in the region to fall 0.6 percentage points, and a further decline is expected of between 0.2 and 0.4 points in 2011, despite the slower growth expected this year.

But now the scene changes due to the increase in energy and food prices, to the extreme that the director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, demands a soft landing” to the Latin American economy to curb inflation, because “there are worrying signs of reheating appearing.”

Prices are increased, consumer credit is rapidly growing and equity markets are at their peak, which implies higher risks of poverty, social instability and political pressure for most of the most unequal region in the world. CEPAL and OIT attributed improvement at this time to the international commercial and financial conditions and the increase of domestic demand driven by macroeconomic policies that have generated the growth of last year.

In that way, formal jobs were stimulated, increased the occupancy rate and real wages rose moderately, though there was a warning that the performance of countries and subregions were very uneven.

Nevertheless, it was highlighted that economic recovery does not guarantee a decent job with growth in the long run because, “to reinforce the improvement in labor indicators and generate more productive employment and decent work, the region’s countries should strengthen their macroeconomic policies.”

But now Strauss-Kahn proposes “the removal of the macroeconomic stimulus adopted during the crisis,” because “we all know how to end this story if those responsible for formulating public policies do not act early enough.” The Minister of Finance of Brazil, Guido Mantega, has ratified the government of his country has made sharp cuts in public spending, with reductions in defense and social housing, to avoid inflationary pressures.

This represents a decrease of $30 billion in the budget for 2011, in order to slow the economy “without knocking it down,” said Mantega, but with predictable costs to citizens and politicians.

It seems much more advisable to accept the prognosis of CEPAL and OIT to improve the coordination of regional and global policies, identifying and eliminating knots in the labor market and to strengthen the instruments that promote greater equality, the great challenge for Latin America.

It was also pointed out that the region-and throughout the world, faces the challenge of transforming its way to produce and to develop sustainable economies in the long run, and added that climate change and the challenge to develop and strengthen ways of producing and consuming with low carbon emissions will affect the way of working.

Progress and economic development was acknowledged around the so-called green jobs in Costa Rica and Brazil, especially the latter, which increased the production of fuels from biomass and building social housing equipped with solar panels.

It appears that while the transformation to a more sustainable economy in the environmental sphere would mean the destruction of jobs in some economic sectors, it also stimulates others, so that the working world would experience major changes.

But the new scenario does not seem to favor the creation of more decent jobs through this above-mentioned transformation, which is considered to contribute to economic growth, the highest possible levels of equality and protection of the environment.

Despite the predictions, encouraging ones at the moment, CEPAL was establishing the regional GNP growth for this year at 4.2 percent, which already represented a decline compared to 2010, specifically attributable to the effects of the crisis in the developed capitalist world.

More recently, Chinese authorities reduced their growth forecast from eight to seven percent for their country, a fall, so this does not imply no negative effects on Latin America, already affected by the United States and the European Union, in growing magnitude.

It would have to add the foreseeable consequences of war to the American leadership of NATO, especially in North Africa and the Middle East, where the country plans to continue enforcing its energy and geo-strategic goals.

Moreover, Latin America will not abandon old projects, though the way to undertake them will depend on U.S. domestic problems that threaten to create greater instability and national social and political polarization.

In the London futures market the prices for oil for April rose 46 cents on March 1, to $112.60 and opened a question about the impact a constant increase could have on the worldwide economy, in which speculation excels.

Since then, the national consequences will depend, first, whether the country is an exporter or importer of oil and, on the other, on the level of development in which each is located.

For the so-called poor countries, many of which grew in 2010, the main danger is the anticipated increase in inflation, while in developed nations, in economic crisis for more than three years, it will either stop the possible recovery or produce new setbacks.

As a result, the predictions of CEPAL and OIT on employment and the economy of Latin America and the Caribbean region, whose future is expected to become more conditioned because of real enterprising transformations undertaken, becomes less encouraging faced with a more adverse reality.

The extension and intensification of the crisis in the Middle East, with NATO intervention, would have a global chain effect whose consequences no one can completely neutralize, but in all cases, defense of international peace and of public economic policy will determine the future.

At the global crossroads, a higher level of justice is demanded, and the search for peaceful negotiations on the internal conflict in Libya, at the same time, saves the Middle East and the world from disaster.

It also will save Latin America.

* Prensa Latina.

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