Political talk from outside of the UK
By new puritan
Membership Days Posts
Thought Latin American politics probably deserved its own thread. Grim piece here on the situation in Honduras:
According to official records, there were 54 murders in Honduras on Christmas Eve. With a violent death every 74 minutes, a rate that more than doubled over Christmas, the country is four times more dangerous than Mexico. In 2012, 7172 murders were recorded. That’s nearly one per thousand inhabitants, by far the highest murder rate in the world.
The US government meanwhile continues to send aid to Porfirio Lobo’s government and pays only lip service to the fight against police corruption. Instead the violence is blamed on drugs, to which the response is an intensified drugs war. According to William Brownfield, an assistant secretary of state, ‘the bloodshed tends to occur and increase when these trafficking organisations… come under some degree of pressure.’

Human rights and social justice campaigners have suggested other, more cynical motives. First, the US is having difficulty maintaining its military bases in Latin America: Rafael Correa, for example, said he’d allow bases to be kept in Ecuador if he could set one up in Miami. Honduras however remains compliant and continuing violence provides a ready justification, allowing the US to train Honduran security forces and mount deadly joint operations.

Second, elections are due this year and Xiomara Castro, the wife of the deposed president Manuel Zelaya, is leading the opinion polls. She is standing for the overtly left-wing party LIBRE. The continuing violence could convince voters to support hardliners; it may also provide cover for political murders which can be dismissed as related to robbery or drugs. Carlos Fabián Velázquez, one of LIBRE’s mayoral candidates, was killed last week.

Third, if the police are seen to fail, it’s possible that martial law could be declared, cancelling the elections and turning law enforcement over to the military, who have the closest ties to the US.
http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2013/03/23/jo ... 4-minutes/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

For all the criticism of Chavez' human rights record (not all of it unjustified), the US and its cheerleaders in the press seem far less concerned about the human rights of Hondurans. Could it be that the Honduran government is a stooge of US capital? Why yes, I think it could.
By new puritan
Membership Days Posts
Washington's commitment to human rights and democracy surges to the fore again:
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — The U.S. State Department, which spends millions of taxpayer dollars a year on the Honduran National Police, has assured Congress that money only goes to specially vetted and trained units that don't operate under the direct supervision of a police chief once accused of extrajudicial killings and "social cleansing."

But The Associated Press has found that all police units are under the control of Director General Juan Carlos Bonilla, nicknamed the "Tiger," who in 2002 was accused of three extrajudicial killings and links to 11 more deaths and disappearances. He was tried on one killing and acquitted. The rest of the cases were never fully investigated.

Honduran law prohibits any police unit from operating outside the command of the director general, according to a top Honduran government security official, who would only speak on condition of anonymity. He said that is true in practice as well as on paper.
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2013/03 ... quads.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
By new puritan
Membership Days Posts
So Maduro, Chavez' successor, won a fairly narrow victory in the presidential election in Venezuela. The US, naturally, is yet to recognise the result - although Maduro, unlike Bush in 2000, did manage to win the popular vote. It appears the opposition has taken this as an opportunity to start some mischief - there are reports of PSUV offices, cars and pro-government media outlets being torched in various parts of Venezuela.
The White House said today that a 100 percent audit of the votes in Venezuela was “an important, prudent and necessary step.”

Now it is no surprise that the White House would be on the side of the opposition to the Chavistas, which has been the U.S. position even before the military coup that Washington supported in 2002.

The really ominous thing here is that for years the Obama administration has been smart enough not to overtly take sides in an internal struggle within Venezuela. That’s because the Obama team knows that this only helps discredit the opposition.

They know very well that their call for a 100 percent audit will, if it has any influence, make it less likely that the Venezuelan government would support such an audit. This statement will just add fuel to the fire of those who say that the normal election rules, which mandate an audit of 54 percent of the machines (matching the paper ballots), should be respected; and that it would be a violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty to give in to external pressure.
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the ... suspicious" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
By creamer31
Membership Days
reports of bent goings on in that election from friends on both sides of the political spectrum in venezuela

Apparently there was a feeling that a Capriles win wouldn't be well received by the USP and a Maduro voter reported that people associated with both parties were trying to pressurise voters

I wouldn't trust a close result either way

I realise it's all anecdotal but I really don't think that the left does itself any favours with its championing of the USP and if the right wing were pulling off some of these stunts (as it sounds like they could well have been doing as well) the left would be going apeshit
I wouldn't say the PSUV was perfect by any means, but the gains for Venezuelan workers in terms of healthcare, education and living standards made during the Chavez era were far from inconsiderable and are worth defending. Capriles is heir to the old plutocracy which spent decades running that country into the ground and which bears responsibility for the thousands killed in the Caracazo. Despite his liberal facade he is quite clearly a very shady character backed by some very unpleasant elements. The fact he has overt support from the US should also set alarm bells ringing, given Washington's disgraceful track record of interfering in Latin American affairs (Honduras being the most recent example).
More on recent shenanigans in Venezuela from Mark Weisbrot.
But the Obama team's effort failed miserably. On Wednesday, the government of Spain, Washington's only significant ally supporting a "100% audit" reversed its position and recognised Maduro's election. Then the secretary general of the Organisation of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, backed off his prior alignment with the Obama administration and recognised the election result.

It was not just the left governments of Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay and others that had quickly congratulated Maduro on his victory; Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti and other non-left governments had joined them. The Obama administration was completely isolated in the world.

Washington's clumsy efforts also helped highlight the election as an issue of national sovereignty, something that is deeply cherished in the region. "Americans should take care of their own business a little and let us decide our own destiny," said Lula da Silva at a rally in Brazil. Of course, there were screaming ironies: George W Bush "defeated" Gore in 2000, losing the popular vote and "winning" Florida officially by perhaps 900 votes with no official recount.
On Wednesday, secretary of state John Kerry, affirming before Congress the US refusal to recognise Venezuela's elections, referred to Latin America as the United States's "back yard". Oops. Well, the contempt was obvious anyway, no?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... -democracy" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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