Political talk from outside of the UK
By new puritan
Membership Days Posts
Delightful news:
A court in Guatemala has found former military leader Efrain Rios Montt guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.

A three-judge tribunal sentenced the 86-year-old to 80 years in prison.

Rios Montt was convicted of ordering the deaths of 1,771 people of the Ixil Maya ethnic group during his time in office in 1982 and 1983.

Survivors described horrific abuses committed by the army against those suspected of aiding left-wing rebels.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-22490408" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Shame that other cunt Pinochet didn't get similar treatment.
Good article here on the recent unrest in Brazil.
It’s true: I do think all the signs in Portuguese are a problem for those who wish to understand the protests that are taking place in my country. I hope this article will be useful to shed some light on what is actually happening in Brazil today. You have maybe already heard the superficial reasons for the recent wave of protests as the media has announced them. A rise of 20 cents R$ for a bus ticket, leading to a ticket price of 3,20 R$, which is the equivalent of a modest 1,14 Euro.

The pictures that have decorated the international news pages of most of the world’s important newspapers — images of burning trash cans in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, mass mobilization in São Paulo, tear gas grenades fired by the police, overall just images of violence — do raise the question : all of that for 20 cents? There are many people who have already asked themselves this question. My answer to all of them is: no, “all” of this not just for 20 cents.
http://roarmag.org/2013/06/brazil-prote ... -movement/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
More from the FT.
Brazil’s biggest street protests in a generation spread outwards on Wednesday from the centres of the metropolises to their poorer peripheries and smaller outlying cities.

The protests widened as São Paulo’s mayor, Fernando Haddad, raised the possibility of backing down on a near 7 per cent rise in public transport fares. That issue was what started the protests two weeks ago before they mushroomed into a national movement fed by outrage at police violence.
In mostly peaceful movements, protesters temporarily blocked part of the Anchieta highway, the main conduit for truckers carrying the world’s largest sugar and coffee harvests to the principal port in Santos.

Rallies were also reported in São Sebastião, a smaller port city on the coast of the state of São Paulo, and in the outer suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. The protests spread as the government deployed special police from the federal National Public Security Force to five states to help with policing at the Confederations Cup, a football tournament under way in Brazil this month serving as the dress rehearsal for the World Cup next year.

Protests held near Confederations Cup games over the weekend in the capital Brasília and at the Maracanã stadium in Rio, the spiritual home of Brazilian football, were put down violently by police.
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/55fae2b4-d900 ... z2WhGaTuay" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
By new puritan
Membership Days Posts
Massive teachers' march on Rio tonight.


Bit of background here from WSWS:
On October 8, teachers in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro—on strike for over a month and a half—demonstrated to protest the inadequate salary and benefits package offered by the city’s mayor, as well as insufficient resources for education. They were joined by tens of thousands of supporters, who braved torrential downpours to add their own demands, including improved social services and an end to police brutality.

Teachers at the demonstration explained to reporters that there were other issues in addition to their low salaries, including steady privatization and chronic supply shortages. One teacher said that after six years, “conditions have gotten worse and worse. Every year we have less autonomy.”

A similar mobilization took place in Sao Paulo in support of the teachers. In both cities, masked members of the Black Bloc anarchist alliance—or people claiming to be members—were in attendance as well. When they began vandalizing local businesses and throwing objects, police attacked protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets, and percussion grenades.

The main teachers union in Rio de Janeiro, the Education Professionals State Syndicate (SEPE) released a statement on its website alleging that undercover police, as they had in the past, infiltrated the protest and provoked the violence. In a press conference, SEPE coordinator Marta Moraes refused to comment on questions about the Black Bloc other than to say, “We do not belong to that group, we do not agree with violence, and we have a different ideology than they do.”

A much smaller protest was carried out by striking schoolteachers, postal workers and students in Cuiaba, where FIFA (International Football Association Federation) secretary general Jerome Valcke visited the construction site of the Arena Pantanal, one of 12 venues scheduled to host the 2014 World Cup. The protesters carried signs against the lavish spending on the stadiums and chanted slogans like “FIFA Go Home” and “Less World Cup, more health and education.”
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/10 ... s-o15.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
mojojojo wrote:One of the saddest things I've read in a while.

One for their pope if he's got the balls he reckons he has. It's an absolute fucking outrage.
Venezuela's government seizes electronic goods shops
Hundreds of bargain hunters in Venezuela flocked to the Daka chain of electronics shops after President Nicolas Maduro ordered their seizure.

President Maduro accused the Daka chain of overcharging and said it would now be forced to have "fair prices".

He later announced the seizure of the JVG store in eastern Caracas, saying it was used by the wealthy elites of the city whom he called thieves.

The opposition blames government policies for causing high inflation.

On a speech on Friday night, President Maduro promised to sell off Daka's stock of plasma televisions, washing machines and other merchandise.

"We're doing this for the good of the nation. Leave nothing on the shelves, nothing in the warehouses!" he said.

Bargain hunters were quick to join overnight queues to buy the merchandise, some of it at a quarter of the price listed earlier in the week
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-24883849" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

See also
Nov 9 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government "occupied" a chain of electronics stores on Saturday in a high-profile crackdown on what it views as price-gouging hobbling the country's economy.

Authorities arrested various managers of the five-store, 500-employee Daka chain, sent soldiers into the shops and forced the company to start selling products at cheaper prices.

That brought crowds of bargain-hunters to Daka outlets and sparked looting at one store in the central city of Valencia.

"Inflation's killing us. I'm not sure if this was the right way, but something had to be done," said Carlos Rangel, 37, among about 500 people queuing outside a Daka store in Caracas. "I think it's right to make people sell things at fair prices."

Maduro, who accuses rich businessmen and right-wing political foes backed by Washington of waging an economic "war" against him, said the occupation of Daka was simply the "tip of the iceberg" in a nationwide drive against speculators.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/11/1 ... EN20131110" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
By new puritan
Membership Days Posts
Interesting piece on Venezuela in the Morning Star from Francisco Dominguez (a Chilean exile who fled the country during the Pinochet era).
Mayoral elections are to be held in Venezuela on December 8. Every mayoralty will be contested and, as is the case in Venezuela's vibrant democracy, both the right-wing coalition and Chavista candidates are busily campaigning up and down the country.

These municipal elections take place in a very different context to recent elections in Venezuela - they will be the first held since the death of Hugo Chavez.

They are also the first following the violent response of the right-wing opposition to the presidential election in April.

Venezuela's anti-democratic opposition used the close election results to try to unseat the elected government of Nicolas Maduro. They alleged fraud but failed to provide any evidence.

Nonetheless, their leader Henrique Capriles encouraged opposition supporters to "vent their anger." A wave of violence followed resulting in the death of 13 innocent people as well as the burning of vehicles, attacks on health centres, national electoral council buildings and houses of prominent members of the government.

The opposition also attempted to internationalise its false claim of fraud. Its political leaders travelled around the world linking up with right-wing politicians such as Jovino Novoa, senator for Chile's extreme right Union Democratica Independiente (UDI). The establishment of UDI was encouraged and assisted by Pinochet's dictatorship. Novoa notoriously served as general government undersecretary of the military dictatorship between 1979-1982.

This link with the Chilean right wing makes sense. The opposition in Venezuela is at the moment - just like its counterparts in Chile 40 years ago - waging economic war as a strategy to destabilise and bring down the government of President Maduro.
http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-bdce-T ... oCd5HC-18E" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Mainstream media are scoffing at the idea but the US intelligence services have a long history of economic warfare and incitement to violence across Latin America - including in Venezuela just over a decade ago - so the latest allegations can hardly be dismissed out of hand.
Honduras' far-right government - which came to power in a coup four years ago - is claiming victory in the election there amid claims of electoral fraud and intimidation.
The NLG takes issue with the United States government's characterization of the electoral process as transparent, given the country's recent and pervasive human rights violations: "U.S. government officials should refrain from assessing the validity of the election at this early stage and instead insist on protecting the rights of Honduran civil society," NLG President Azadeh Shahshahani stated. The U.S. has been widely criticized for its early and nearly unilateral endorsement of the 2009 post-coup election, which took place during a period of brutal repression reminiscent of the violence of the 1980s.

NLG observers expressed alarm about consolidation of power over the electoral process by the National Party, which has controlled the judiciary, the military, and the Congress since the 2009 military coup. Militarization of the electoral process included soldiers patrolling each polling center and allegedly transporting ballots.

Additional irregularities were observed throughout the country, including allegations that smaller parties' credentials were sold to National Party supporters for a seat at the voting tables (a TSE official has verified this). This threatens the integrity of the election process as individuals staffing the voting tables were in charge of counting ballots at the end of the day. There were also reports of the distribution of gratuities to National Party supporters. The NLG also documented inconsistencies with voter rolls and vote tabulations.
http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2013/nlg261113.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

There's some very useful background in this Jacobin article from earlier in the year.
From the outset, the coup against Zelaya provided the United States with a diplomatic opportunity to recover some of its influence in the region, which had waned since the 1990s. In its calculated response to the coup, the Obama administration has been careful not to be seen as lending open support while nevertheless subtly undermining Zelaya and the anti-coup resistance. To brazenly champion the violent attack on procedural democracy in Honduras, in a context in which even the moderate governments of the region issued sharp condemnations of it, would have undermined whatever political capital Obama had mustered from the already waning liberal credentials of his early tenure. But this did not gainsay American aspirations to contain Zelaya and the reform movement in Honduras. Through the prism of US diplomacy, the events of June 2009 were framed as a regrettable interruption of the constitutional order in which Zelaya shared much of the blame. Micheletti’s government was depicted as transitional, and the Lobo regime, once established, was celebrated as a democratic godsend.
http://jacobinmag.com/2013/04/honduran-labyrinth/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
More on the alleged intimidation and electoral fraud in Honduras.
In the run up to the election, we saw an intensified campaign by the regime and military against independent and critical media. Thus, the election committee enforced last Thursday a ban on media reporting of election results and tendencies, exit polls and ballot counting from individual voting centres before the election committees own official release. It has become clearer and clearer that this ban was instituted in order to give the regime-aligned election committee absolute control over the election result. At the same time as they forbid exit polls, reporting from individual voting centres and other independent control mechanisms, the election committee gave themselves the previously unheard of right to release “preliminary results” from the ballot counting which the election committee has done continuously since the election.

The importance of this control can be seen by the fact that independent reports from individual voting centres have given the directly opposite picture of the electoral result and given electoral victory to LIBRE and Xiomara Castro with a 4,5 percentage point lead. By securing itself against independent election results reports and at the same time giving itself the right to publish preliminary results, the election committee had set the perfect conditions for electoral fraud. Thus, it is not even safe to say that the election committee has necessarily cheated directly with the votes to achieve the “right” result, although much point toward directly ballot fraud. It would be possible simply to choose carefully which voting centres to count first. In a society as polarised as Honduras it is clear that wealthy areas would give a large majority to the right wing while the poor neighbourhoods would give a vast majority to the left wing. By choosing to count the ballots from the wealthy voting districts first and then continuously publishing preliminary results from those areas it would be possible to create an image of who had won the election without this necessarily having anything to do with the overall reality.

This is exactly what LIBRE supporters fear is happening. Manuel Zelaya has declared that the electoral commission has chosen only to publish results that are positive towards the right wing and the National Party and consciously chosen not to count thousands of ballot boxes from areas thought to be sympathetic towards LIBRE. Among other things, 20% of the votes had not arrived for the central ballot counting and therefor hadn’t been counted into the result. It is precisely from those areas where the left wing has most likely won.

The attacks on the free press have also included the closing of medias. On Election Day itself, the military stormed the studio of the independent and critical radio station Radio Globo and shut down their broadcasting signal. At the same time, the military arrived in a threatening outside the critical stations Channel 11 and Channel 36 in a threatening move.
http://www.marxist.com/honduras-election-fraud-2013.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Interesting piece on Venuzuela...

The truth about Venezuela: a revolt of the well-off, not a 'terror campaign'
John Kerry’s rhetoric is divorced from the reality on the ground, where life goes on – even at the barricades
Mark Weisbrot
theguardian.com, Thursday 20 March 2014 14.35 GMT

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfre ... r-campaign" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
According to documents obtained by the Associated Press and multiple interviews with people involved in the project, the plan was to develop a bare-bones "Cuban Twitter," using cellphone text messaging to evade Cuba's strict control of information and its stranglehold restrictions over the internet. In a play on Twitter, it was called ZunZuneo — slang for a Cuban hummingbird's tweet.

Documents show the US government planned to build a subscriber base through "non-controversial content": news messages on soccer, music, and hurricane updates. Later when the network reached a critical mass of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators would introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organize "smart mobs" — mass gatherings called at a moment's notice that might trigger a Cuban spring, or, as one USAid document put it, "renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society."

At its peak, the project drew in more than 40,000 Cubans to share news and exchange opinions. But its subscribers were never aware it was created by the US government, or that American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/a ... tir-unrest" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

If you don't think Washington is doing the same sort of thing in Venezuela, I've got a bridge to sell you.
Jeremy "Fucking off" Corbyn.


Marina Hyde - woman of fire



Fat chance of that.

Priti Patel

Oops. Priti Patel under fire as 150,000 pol[…]