Obama Not Much Different From McCain

Chavez Says U.S. Ties Would Be No Warmer With Obama
Reuters North American News Service
July 16, 2008

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday his prickly relations with Washington would not improve even if Democrat candidate Barack Obama wins the U.S. presidential election in November.

Chavez, a relentless critic of U.S. foreign policy and President Bush, advocates weakening the influence of the United States and calls the nation "the empire."

Chavez told his supporters not to raise their hopes that relations with the United States would improve if Obama is elected U.S. president, sayingt here was little difference between him and Republican candidate John McCain.

"The two candidates for the U.S. presidency attack us equally, they attack us defending the interests of the empire," Chavez said at a meeting of his socialist party.

"Let's not kid ourselves, it is the empire and the empire must fall. That's the only solution, that it comes to an end."

Obama said earlier in his campaign that he would be prepared to sit down to talk with Chavez. But in recent weeks he has called the leftist Venezuelan leader an enemy of the United States and urged sanctions against him.

Chavez also had previously expressed a hope that the end of the Bush administration would bring warmer ties between the two countries.The United States considers Chavez a negative influence in Latin America and has accused him of being soft on cocaine traffickers and of having ties to Marxist guerrillas in Colombia.

Although Venezuela is one of America's top crude oil suppliers, relations between the two countries have deteriorated since a brief 2002 coup against Chavez that Washington initially welcomed. (Reporting by Patricia Rondon)
Chavez Answers Attack From Obama

In a May 23 Miami speech on Latin America Obama's speech said, "Since the Bush Administration launched a misguided war in Iraq, its policy in the Americas has been negligent toward our friends, ineffective
with our adversaries, disinterested in the challenges that matter in peoples' lives, and incapable of advancing our interests in the region. No wonder, then, that demagogues like Hugo Chavez have stepped into this vacuum. His predictable yet perilous mix of anti-American rhetoric, authoritarian government, and checkbook diplomacy offers the same false promise as the tried and failed ideologies of the past. But the United States is so alienated from the rest of the Americas that this stale vision has gone unchallenged, and has even made inroads from Bolivia to Nicaragua.

And Chavez and his allies are not the only ones filling the vacuum. While the United States fails to address the changing realities in the Americas, others from Europe and Asia – notably China – have stepped up their own engagement. Iran has drawn closer to Venezuela, and just the other day Tehran and Caracas launched a joint bank with their windfall oil profits....In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez is a democratically elected leader.

But we also know that he does not govern democratically. He talks of the people, but his actions just serve his own power."

Police Harrasment of Shawn Brant Exposed

Dear Friends,

Venezuela We Are With You Coalition continues to support Shawn Brant and his community’s efforts to defend themselves against their colonial oppressors, and their struggle to retain their land rights.

Congratulations to Shawn Brant, Tyendinaga Support Committee, and his many supporters for exposing the racist intentions of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and its Chief, Julian Fantino.

The following article from the official media contains important facts on police misconduct in dealing with Shawn Brant. Also check out the revealing CBC news clip below.

Ontario Police and Their Intentions in the 2007 Mohawk Blockades

Newly released court documents show Ontario Provincial Police were just minutes away from moving in to forcibly remove a First Nations blockade that prompted the closure of Highway 401 during last summer's aboriginal day of action.

The documents include wiretap transcripts that feature OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino telling Mohawk protest leader Shawn Brant in a telephone conversation that, "your whole world's going to come crashing down" and threatening to "do everything I can within your community and everywhere to destroy your reputation" during the tense standoff between police and aboriginal protesters at blockade sites in eastern Ontario.The at-times heated comments by the province's top police officer fly in the face of the police force's own conduct guidelines in discussions with aboriginal groups that were recommended in the wake of the police killing of Dudley George at Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995, Brant's lawyer said.

The court documents, released Friday after being freed from a publication ban, are transcripts from Fantino's testimony in August 2007 at Brant's preliminary hearing in a Napanee, Ont., court. Preliminary hearings are held to determine if there is enough evidence to warrant a trial.

Brant is charged with nine counts, including mischief, stemming from the First Nations blockades on Highway 401, Highway 2 and a CN Rail line near the eastern Ontario town of Desoronto on June 29, 2007, which prompted provincial police to close Canada's busiest highway and CN to suspend all rail service on the Montreal-Toronto corridor.
Lawyer calls for provincial review of Fantino's conduct

Brant's defence lawyer, Peter Rosenthal has called on the province to launch a review of the statements and actions of Fantino, who personally came to Napanee at the time of the standoff despite regular contact between protesters and other OPP officers.Fantino testified at the preliminary hearing that he gave Brant a deadline, and was prepared to move in if the protesters didn't lift the blockades. He said he believed the public interest demanded that the highway be reopened.

"There were in fact plans underway at that time for a forced removal of the blockade, were there?" Rosenthal asked him during his testimony.

"Yes, there was," Fantino replied. "There comes a time when the balance of the greater public good shifts, and the feeling was that under the circumstances, this situation could no longer continue, and we were, in fact, preparing to move on the blockades."

The raid ultimately did not happen, and protesters removed the blockades peacefully later in the day. But the closures snarled traffic and brought commercial rail traffic to a standstill for several hours on a day that featured peaceful protests across the country.
'I think we're running out of time, Shawn,' Fantino said

The documents include court transcripts of Rosenthal reading out statements from the secret police wiretaps of at least three conversations between Fantino and Brant in the early hours of June 29 about removing the barriers.

Rosenthal quoted Fantino as saying: "I think we're running out of time, Shawn. You know, we've been back and forth all night on this, and we've got a lot of very angry people who are absolutely beyond themselves with what's going on, and, you know, we just have to close shop here, and we can't go on any longer to be honest with you."

Brant is quoted as replying that he needed to speak with several members of the group in order to reach "consensus" on ending the blockade.

"Sometimes the wheels turn slowly, but, you know, it's important that, you know, we came in here on a consensus and we need to resolve this on a consensus," he is quoted as saying.

Fantino then told Rosenthal he believed that was a "stalling tactic" and that Brant had full control over the protesters.

Rosenthal also brought up the provincial police document titled A Framework for Police Preparedness for Aboriginal Critical Incidents, which was created after the Ipperwash affair.

The document calls for building a "trusting relationship" with "mutual respect" between the culture of aboriginals and police, as well as a need for "special concerns" with respect to aboriginal protests and blockades, given their historical rights.

"And doesn't, though, that document and many other documents speak to the way you should do that in situations involving aboriginal protesters?" Rosenthal asked.

"Mr. Rosenthal, these are guidelines and they're principles," Fantino replied. "They're not a firm and fixed mandated way of doing business."

Police wiretapped calls without judicial approval

The legality of the wiretaps was called into question by Brant's lawyer during his pre- trial hearing, as police did not receive judicial approval for the recordings. Police have said the secret recordings were legal, citing a little-known emergency provision in the Criminal Code of "interception in exceptional circumstances."

But Brant's lawyer said the police's use of wiretapping in the case was "outrageous."

"How often are the OPP using wiretaps without a judge's permission in the province?" Rosenthal told CBC News in an interview outside the courtroom.Fantino testified that he was aware the conversations with Brant were being recorded, but said he had no role in the decision to wiretap the calls.

Det.-Const. Douglas Weiss, the lead investigator in the case against Brant, also couldn't say who in the OPP authorized the wiretaps. He also testified at Brant's pre-trial hearing that he has to this date never heard them and never asked for them to be included as evidence.

The OPP only decided that they would disclose the existence of the wiretaps a week before the pre-trial hearing began, Weiss told the court.

In Canada, proceedings from preliminary hearings are usually protected by publication bans in order to protect the accused person's right to a fair trial, especially when the case might later go before a jury.

However, Brant, whose trial is scheduled to begin in January, waived his right to a publication ban in this case, saying he wanted the testimony from the preliminary hearing to be made public.

The judge imposed a ban anyway, after the Crown requested one, but lifted it Friday in Napanee after a CBC News legal team argued for the right to publish the material.

For more information:TSC[at]masses.tao.ca

UNASUR Equals -- Dialogue and Cooperation in Latin America

Hugo Chavez Spearhead the South American Revolution

Published in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor,
July-August 2008
Interview with Dr. Maria Paez Victor
By Asad Ismi

While European and North American governments wallow in right-wing militarism, Latin American states are leading the world in implementing progressive social change. They are doing this not just within countries, but also on a continental level now that 10 left-wing Latin American governments are in power: in Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Chile and Cuba.

On May 23, at a summit in Brasilia, Brazil, 12 South American countries formally constituted the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), a regional integration initiative which includes a parliament, a presidential forum and a secretariat. The countries are Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, and Uruguay.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a main force behind UNASUR’s creation, stated at the summit: “Some kick and yell, but will not be able to stop the South American revolution...[UNASUR is] a project of the change unleashed in this last decade--which could be the driving force of changes around the world.”UNASUR’s main tasks are eliminating poverty and illiteracy. The UNASUR member states (except for Colombia) also agreed to the formation of a South American Defense Council aimed at ensuring that the countries’ armed forces “are committed to the construction of peace.”

For Chávez, UNASUR is the culmination of Latin America’s two-century-long search for unity. “Only in unity will we later have, progressively, complete political, economic, cultural, scientific, technological, and military independence,” Chavez explained. UNASUR instutionalizes a revolutionary process of South American integration that is becoming a model for the world.

I spoke to Dr. Maria Paez Victor in Toronto about this process. Dr. Paez is a Venezuelan-Canadian sociologist who recently returned from Venezuela, where she observed firsthand the sweeping changes that continue to be brought about by Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution. Paez is now retired after teaching sociology at the University of Toronto and working as a consultant.

Q: Simon Bolivar, who liberated South America from Spanish colonialism, wanted its countries to unite partly to prevent another imperial power, the United States, from dominating them. It appears that today his vision is becoming a reality to some extent and Chavez is behind much of this significant transformation. Tell us about this integration

Paez: It is truly amazing what Chavez has done. The political and economic integration of South America is definitely underway. In addition to UNASUR and the South American Defense Council, it includes the setting up of Banco del Sur (the Bank of the South), PetroAmerica, and Telesur. UNASUR represents 377 million people with a GNP of $1.5 billion, and it signals to the world that South America is ready to control its own destiny.

The formation of UNASUR is a historical event that creates structural pillars for South American unity: it includes an Energy Security Council to diversify and conserve energy and the environment. The South American Defense Council is aimed at creating a military alliance without the United States--an absolutely unprecedented event.

UNASUR emerges as a solution to the imbalances and inefficiencies of the Organization of American States (OAS) and a response to the not-so-veiled threat of Washington which has slapped the sub-continent in the face by reactivating its Fourth Naval Fleet to intimidate South America.

With Banco del Sur (the Bank of the South) and PetroAmerica, an entirely new economy is being created. Latin American countries now have an alternative source of credit, and this means the end of 25 years of U.S.-imposed neoliberalism that reduced these nations to beggars through enforced privatization, free trade, and structural adjustment programs (SAPs).
Whenever they wanted a development project, the countries had to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and/or the World Bank (both U.S.-dominated) which would offer loans at usurious interest rates that the states could not afford. When the countries could not pay back the loans, they had to carry out the IMF’s SAP conditions, which included selling whatever valuable national assets they had to multinational corporations that then controlled their economies. This was known as “the Washington Consensus,” and from 1980 to 2005 it created immense poverty in Latin America.

Then Chavez comes along and says to the Latin American countries, “We’ve got money and we will help you pay these debts.” As you know, Venezuela is the fifth largest exporter of oil to the U.S. Chavez gave money to Argentina, Ecuador, and Bolivia. Ecuador then threw the representatives of the World Bank out of the country, and Bolivia let its loan agreement with the IMF expire. Argentina got $5.1 billion from Venezuela, funding that rescued it from the ravages of the IMF that had destroyed its economy. With the money, Argentina was able to pay off its debt to the IMF.

Chavez has not given away this money. It has to be paid back, but only little by little at a reasonable interest rate that the countries can afford. That is one of the reasons why the financial powers-that-be want to get Chavez: because he hit them where it really hurts, to the point that the World Bank now is in a crisis; it’s downsizing, and the IMF doesn’t know what it’s going to do because nobody wants its loans. This has been absolutely wonderful because it has struck a big blow against this international extortion that these U.S.-controlled organizations are practising.

[Author’s Note: The worth of loans given by the IMF fell to $20 billion in 2008 from almost $100 billion in 2004. According to the U.S. magazine ‘In These Times’, “The IMF has lost almost all influence in Latin America, with lending there plummeting to a paltry $50 million, less than 1% of its global loan portfolio. As recently as 2005, the region had accounted for 80% of its outstanding loans.”]

Q: How does Banco del Sur (the Bank of the South) work?

Paez: Chavez and the Latin American countries have replaced the Washington extortion racket with the Bank of the South, which will finance true development in Latin America by providing loans which, unlike those of the World Bank and IMF, will have no strings attached. The Bank of the South has been formed by Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, and very soon Uruguay will join as well. Each country gives a portion of its GNP to the Bank, which now has assets of $7 billion. This capital is going to be used to promote cooperative development between these countries. For example, for the first time, Venezuela and Brazil are building a refinery in Brazil. Venezuela has oil and Brazil has the expertise to set up refineries, so what do they need the U.S. for?

In the same spirit, Chavez arrived at the empty dockyards of Buenos Aires, Argentina, after its economy had been devastated by the IMF, and gave an order for three oil tankers to be built there. He could have ordered the tankers from the U.S. or Europe, as would have happened in the past under Northern domination. The élites of Latin America had traditionally looked towards their “betters,” the élites in the U.S. So each country thought that whatever they needed had to come from the U.S. or Europe. Never did they think: why don’t we have our ships built by the Argentinians? They never considered each other to be good enough for advanced projects.

Q: In September 2005, Energy ministers from 11 Latin American countries--Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela--agreed to move towards regional integration in the energy field by consolidating the PetroAmérica energy project promoted by Chávez. Rafael Ramírez, the Venezuelan Minister of Energy and Oil at the time, called this agreement the “axis of continental integration.” Can you explain PetroAmerica?

Paez: PetroAmerica is a multinational oil company formed by the state oil companies of Bolivia, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Cuba, and Trinidad. The joint company will control 11.5% of world oil reserves. PetroAmerica is aimed at achieving full energy cooperation within Latin America so that its oil can be used for the development of its people rather than that of Northern countries. As Chavez says, “Petroleum is going to run out eventually, so why are we selling it for the development of countries that are already developed?” We need the oil to develop our own countries, to create a diversified economy that includes an industrial sector and viable agriculture so we can feed and employ our own people. Until now, oil has been Venezuela’s only resource. We have to import most of our food.

Within PetroAmerica, Latin American countries will exploit oil and gas together, help each other set up refineries and petrochemical plants, and carry out conservation plans. PetroAmerica also involves Venezuela sharing its oil with countries that do not have any. Venezuela has given 14 Caribbean countries cheap financing for oil purchases, to be repaid over 25 years. These are countries that often find it difficult to buy oil. Venezuela has also promised $50 million for social programs in the Caribbean and pledged to invest $2 billion to increase refining capacity in Jamaica, Cuba, and Uruguay

For Chavez, the relationship between Cuba and Venezuela is an important example of what relations should be like between sister nations. Venezuela gives Cuba 90,000 barrels of oil a day in exchange for the 20,000 Cuban doctors who are working in the poorest areas of the Venezuela. In every indigenous village in Venezuela, a Cuban doctor is providing primary care that Venezuelan doctors refuse to give because they favour private medicine.

Similarly, Venezuela is exchanging oil for cattle with Uruguay. Such South-South cooperation means a new economic focus on serving the needs of the Southern people, not the greed of multinational corporations and Northern governments.

Q: Tell us about Telesur (which stands for “The New Television Station of the South”).

Paez: Telesur is a television channel formed by the state television broadcasters of Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba, Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. Its function is to allow these countries to communicate directly with one another, and not through CNN. For the first time, Telesur gives Latin Americans a clear vision of each other which is crucial for creating an integrated community. South American integration cannot succeed if we learn about each other through international media that are hostile to us and distort our self-image.

How did we learn about each other’s countries until recently? Through CNN, which, as you know, is part of a media campaign directed against Chavez. We got the news about ourselves through Northern channels, so we looked at ourselves through Northern eyes. How could we change our societies then? Chavez got the Latin American countries together and said, “Let us launch Telesur by combining the state televisions of our countries.” When I was in Cuba, I turned on the TV: there’s Telesur and I’m watching something that’s going on in the Congress of Argentina. I had never seen that before. It was remarkable.Q: Simon Bolivar in the past, and now Chavez and other Latin American leaders, wanted South American countries to unite partly to prevent the United States from dominating them. What has been the U.S. reaction to this process of Southern integration?

Paez: U.S. imperialism has long been the main impediment to South American integration. It operates through a divide-and-conquer strategy. The U.S. tried to overthrow Chavez in 2002 and then attempted to destabilize Venezuela by crippling PDVSA, the public oil company. When all this failed, the U.S. tried to divide Venezuela by promoting the secession of Zulia state, which has the most oil. This also failed, so now the U.S. is trying to use Colombia to spark a regional war and thereby stop integration.

On March 1, the Colombian army and air force invaded Ecuador and killed 24 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a guerrilla movement that is fighting in Colombia for land reform. This was a blatant violation of Ecuador’s sovereignty and threatens all the countries in the region. Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s President, was outraged.

Clearly, Colombia was encouraged to invade Ecuador by the U.S., which may also have participated in the raid. Colombia is the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid, after Israel and Egypt. Colombia also has the worst human rights record in the hemisphere, and its President, Alvaro Uribe, is an international criminal linked to drug traffickers and death squads. Chavez reacted to Colombia’s invasion of Ecuador by rushing battalions to the border Venezuela shares with Colombia, and warning Uribe that, if his troops entered Venezuela, it would be cause for war.

The Latin American Presidents met in the Dominican Republic two days after the raid, and resolved the crisis. They met without the presence of the U.S. or Canada. Chavez was lauded by all the leaders as the main peacemaker. He said to Uribe: “Are you part of us, the Latin Americans? Your history, your culture is also ours. Or are you just a lackey of the U.S.? Because if you are, then you’re excluded from our club.” Uribe saw himself isolated and knew that, if he continued in this way, there would no support for him in Latin America. So he backed down, apologized to Correa, and promised never to violate the sovereignty of any other nation.All the Presidents agreed that, if war were to break out in South America, the only country that would win would be the United States. You can see how perilous the situation was: the Colombian raid was to be the first in a domino process. If Colombia, as an arm of the U.S., had got away with invading Ecuador, then it would have done the same to Venezuela, and a major war would have followed, destabilizing the entire region.

Latin Americans were proud of their Presidents because they resolved an explosive issue through dialogue and cooperation amongst themselves. It showed that, if Latin Americans work together, they can solve their own problems and defeat the machinations of the U.S. empire.
Asad Ismi is the CCPA Monitor's international affairs correspondent. He is author of the highly acclaimed radio documentary, "The Ravaging of Africa" which is about the destructive impact of U.S. imperialism on that continent. For his publications visit www.asadismi.ws.

Cuban Five -- Anti Terrorist Fighters

Canadian members of Parliament demand justice for the Cuban Five
Havana. July 11, 2008

"We cannot allow this extremely painful situation for these five Cubans and their families to drag on," says letter sent to U.S. Attorney General

Fifty-six members of Canada’s Parliament have just signed a petition demanding justice for the Cuban Five, the anti-terrorist fighters arbitrarily sentenced to long prison sentences in the United States since September 12, 1998. "Nothing justifies keeping them behind bars," the petition says.

Arnold August, a member of the Fabio Di Celmo Committee of the Quebec-Cuba Solidarity Committee and the International Committee to Free the Five, told Granma newspaper, "This is good news."

August, a Canadian writer and lecturer who is visiting Havana, said the petition also demands family visitation rights for the relatives of Fernando González, Ramón Labañino, René González, Antonio Guerrero and Gerardo Hernández.The initiative for the petition was introduced by Francine Lalonde, an MP for the Bloque Qubequense por La Pointe-de-l’lle (Montreal), and Libby Davies, a legislator from East Vancouver, and quickly found a hearing among their colleagues, Arnold commented.

The petition — which continues to circulate — was sent to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Canadian Foreign Minister David Emerson, and David Wilkins, U.S. ambassador in Canada.

The action is part of the international campaign to demand freedom for the Cuban Five and to call for compliance with the findings of human rights organizations, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (May 27, 2005) and 110 members of the British parliament, all of them denouncing the conditions of isolation imposed on the Five and their irregular trial in Miami, Florida.

"We cannot allow this extremely painful situation for these five Cubans and their families to drag on," the petition says.

In Quebec, prominent individuals like Claudette Carbonneau, president of the Federation of National Unions, and Elsie Lefebvre, a former member of the Quebec National Assembly, have expressed their support for the cause.

Translated by Granma International
For more information on the Cuban Five: www.freethefive.org/

Canadian Appeal Court: Jailing Indigenous Protesters ‘Too Harsh'

Justice--Colonial or Indigenous?
July 7, 2008

TORONTO — There was no reason to “bring down the hammer” on seven
aboriginals who were incarcerated and fined after protesting against
mining projects in their communities, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled
Monday in calling the six-month sentences “too harsh.”

Six members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation served
almost 10 weeks in jail, while Ardoch Algonquin First Nation leader Bob
Lovelace was jailed 14 weeks for contempt-of-court charges related to
blockades in areas north of Kingston and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

In late May, the Ontario Court of Appeal reduced their six-month
sentences to time served, and today it released its reasons for the
decision, saying imprisoning the protesters only magnified the
“estrangement of aboriginal peoples from the Canadian justice system.”

The court also dismissed the fines of between $10,000 and $25,000 the
protesters faced.

Mr. Lovelace said he was thrilled by the decision, which he hoped would
allay protesters' fears of being jailed when they rally or man blockades
for causes they believe in.

“I did do three-and-a-half months in jail, and that's three-and-a-half
months lost out of my life, but I guess if it brings some clarification
to aboriginal rights, that was time well spent,” Mr. Lovelace said.

“I think it's really significant because it says to people who have a
legitimate cause that when governments are not willing to meet their
obligations or their responsibilities – particularly with First Nations
people, but I think with citizens in general – then it's not the court's
responsibility to punish you. It's really their responsibility to uphold
the rule of law but also to do it in a just and reasonable way.”

The protesters had been trying to stop mining on their traditional lands
and complained the Ontario government had not consulted with the
communities before giving the companies the go-ahead to begin drilling.

A panel of three judges ruled the aboriginals' right to protest “cannot
simply be dismissed as illusory, flawed or weak,” and that Superior
Court Justice George Smith failed to consider their plight and handed
out sentences that were “too harsh.”

“That the court found it necessary to imprison the [protesters] simply
serves to emphasize the gulf between the dominant culture's sense of
justice and this First Nation's sense of justice,” the decision says.
“Imprisonment, far from being a meaningful sanction for the community, had the effect of pitting the community against the justice system.”

The panel said the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that judges must
take into account all available sanctions other than imprisonment
and give particular consideration to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders and the “unique systemic or background factors” that may have spurred their offences.

“[Judge Smith] focused exclusively on punishment and deterrence, both
specific and general,” the decision states. “He said nothing about
promoting reformation and rehabilitation of leaders of a First Nation

Mr. Lovelace said he was relieved the court waived the fines and also
found the protesters were entitled to their costs of the appeal.

“My faith in the Canadian justice system is strengthened,” he said.

Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which
represents 49 Ontario aboriginal communities, said the decision is
meaningful for all First Nations and leaders who are fighting to protect
their land.

“It's a good decision for communities to be able to say no, and they
won't be jailed for doing that,” he said.

But KI First Nation spokesman Sam McKay, who spent 10 weeks in jail,
said the news is promising but doesn't guarantee better relations with
the government.

“They've failed to recognize Supreme Court rulings that they could have
taken into consideration before putting us into jail, so will they want
to recognize this? That's the question.”

Venezuela Reduces Malnutrition in Children to Four Percent

Dear Friends,

One things we appreciate about Venezuela is that amidst all the turmoil, the Bolivarian process marches on. It’s more than just food — Our report from visiting Venezuela explains the programs that are giving children new hope in their future. See post http://venezuelawearewithyou.blogspot.com/2008/12/libertador-pioneer-of-peoples-power.html
98 Percent of Venezuelans Eat Three Times Per Day

by James Suggett

Mérida, July 7, 2008 — According to Venezuela’s National Nutrition Institute (INN), slightly more than 4% of Venezuelan children under the age of 5 suffered malnutrition in 2007 according to the standards set by the World Health Organization WHO).

This represents a reduction of more than 16 percentage points in malnutrition since 1998, the year President Hugo Chávez was elected, when the figure was 21%, says the INN. The WHO has commended this achievement, according to the Bolivarian News Agency.

The INN also reported that 98% of Venezuelans eat three times per day, thanks to the emergence of several government programs for food security. These programs include the subsidized food markets known as MERCAL, and preventative health education promoted by the Barrio Adentro “Mission,” which provides free health care with support from Cuban doctors.WHO representative Pedro Alabajar pointed out during an inter-governmental conference on Chagas Disease in the Andean Region last Friday that Venezuela’s efforts to combat and prevent Chagas Disease continue to be exemplary for the region.

The Pan-American Health Organization also recognizes Venezuela’s efforts, Albajar affirmed. According to the WHO website, Chagas Disease is found only in Latin America.

Alabajar highlighted, however, that since it was discovered that Chagas Disease can be transmitted orally, Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana will face new challenges in fighting the disease.

At a simultaneous conference about preventative health in the workplace last Friday, Labor Minister Roberto Hernández advocated the reduction of the workday nation-wide, and said that workers should be the protagonists in improving their working conditions for preventative health purposes.

The minister said that socialism in Venezuela means increasing the power of civil society over what has traditionally been controlled by private and government entities. “Each People, in accordance with its history, with its culture, creates concrete forms of socialism,” he articulated.

The minister acknowledged that the reduction of the workday was part of the constitutional reform proposal that was voted down last December in a national referendum, but “that does not mean that we cannot do it in another way, like in an ordinary law or even an administrative measure.”
Source: http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/

Bolivia Coca Workers Expel U.S. Agency from Chapare Region

Dear Friends,

Morales has accused United States Agency for International Development (USAID) of financing his opponents in a planned coup, including fanning confrontations between Bolivians with groups promoting regional autonomy from his government.

Chapare coca leader Julio Salazar told The Associated Press, "We want USAID to go. If USAID leaves, we will have aid from Venezuela [a major financial backer of Bolivia], which is unconditioned and in solidarity."
* * * * * * * * * *
Social Organisations of the Tropics Decide to Expel USAID From Chapare Region

Shinahota (Cochabamba), June 24 (ABI) - The social organisations of the tropics of Cochabamba, represented by the six federations of coca producers and peasants, together with the municipalities of this region, decided to expel United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from this part of the country.

In order to achieve this objective, they decided that the municipalities,
social organisations and non government organisations had until June 26 to put an end to any agreement they have with this American entity, accused of conspiring against the government of president Evo Morales.Starting from Wednesday June 25each one of the federations will begin to remove all USAID notices from the different projects done in collaboration with the municipalities and the social organisations themselves. "Not a single vestige of this foreign organisatons should remain in all the tropics" assured the deputy, Asterio Romero [Vice president of Chapare's main coca-growing group], in declarations made to Radio Kawsachun Coca.

"The Chapare has been dignified at the national and international level
because of its struggle in defence of the homeland and the fact that it has been consequent with its fight. We have therefore decided to kick out USAID from the Chapare, by June 26" affirmed the parliamentarian.

He expressed the fact that the coca cultivators and peasants of the region had decided that, starting from that day, there should not be a single piece of evidence left of this project financed by the United States.

"No agreement can remain in place, or one single office, or a billboard, or absolutely anything that mentions its presence in this region" expressed Romero.

Asked about the motives behind this decision, he affirmed that there exist serious indications that USAID is encouraging and promoting groups such as the Cruceñista Youth Union that sowed violence and fear in the departments where consultations on autonomy statutes were held.

"It cannot be that, on one hand, they say they are cooperating and, on the other, they are causing so much damage, fanning confrontations between Bolivians" he pointed out.In this context, Romero denounced that USAID now finds itself involved in the planning of a coup against the government of President Evo Morales.

"They are even looking to end his life, that is why, with that same dignity with which we have begun to the Democratic and Cultural Revolution, we have taken this decision" indicated Romero.

*Translated from ABI

Haiti -- A Nightmare Situation

Canada withheld aid from Haiti and rushed in to support the un-elected opposition when the U.S.-inspired coup uprooted the popularly elected President Aristide in 2004

Today, ten years after the Inter-American Development Bank approved a $54 million loan to provide water supply in Port-au-Prince, 100,000 residents still lack access to potable water. "The situation is horrible right now," said Kevin Pina, an American who has lived in Haiti for the past six years.... It's a nightmare situation and Canada is up to its neck in it."
U.S. behind Haiti’s Water Woes, Rights Activists Charge
June 24, 2008

By Jacqueline Charles

In the overcrowded streets of Port-de-Paix, Haiti, spigots that once gushed with clean drinking water run empty, distribution lines are broken and the only source of potable water is private vendors.

The U.S. government is to blame for the lack of access to drinking water, according to several human rights groups, who on Monday accused American officials of delaying the disbursement of $54 million in loans to improve water access in Port-de-Paix as leverage for political change in the hemisphere’s poorest country.”There is not a question a crime was committed,” said Dr. Evan Lyon, a physician who has worked in Haiti since 1996 and was among several activists who issued the 87-page report. “There was an illegal and political-motivated manipulating of the funds.”

Advocacy Group
Lyon helped prepare the report on behalf of Partners in Health, the Haiti-based healthcare provider founded by Dr. Paul Farmer. Others involved in the report include the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights; Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the New York University School of Law; and Zanmi Lasante, a Haitian advocacy group that Farmer also is involved with. The report looks at the effects of the slowdown of the distribution, noting that 10 years after the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved the $54 million loan, the city’s 100,000 residents still lack access to potable water.

Rob Saliterman, spokesman for International Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, declined to comment, saying he had not seen the report. But he noted that “the U.S. has been extremely supportive of multilateral assistance efforts for Haiti.”

In 1998, the IDB agreed to provide Haiti with a $54 million loan as part of an effort to improve sanitation and water distribution in the cities of Port-de-Paix in the northwest, and Les Cayes in the southwest. Two years later, Haiti’s parliament approved the loan.

According to the report’s authors, e-mails and other documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Treasury Department reveal that there was “a high level of strategic interference by U.S. personnel to stall the disbursement of these loans indefinitely in order to use them as leverage for political change.”

”This was a real calculated attempt to implement a political policy with total disregard for the impact on the ground,” said Monika Varma, director of the RFK Center. “This is a shining example of what we understand is a pretty common practice, U.S. government using its power in multilateral institutions.”

Varma and others involved in the report say they not only want an investigation into what happened but ”regular monitoring of U.S. government” behavior in its dealing with foreign nations like Haiti.

Political Infighting
Though multilateral institutions like the IDB and others have long cited Haiti’s political infighting and turmoil as blame for the slow distribution of funds, Lyon said that was not the case this time around. In 2002, Haitian government officials publicly complained about the aid holdup, prompting members of the Congressional Black Caucus to urge President Bush to release the loan.In Port-de-Paix, contracts were awarded in 2007, funds are being disbursed to contractors and work should be completed by 2009, IDB spokesman Peter Bate said.

”Although we do not comment on internal deliberations involving member states, project execution in Haiti is often delayed in the face of institutional challenges,” he said. “The IDB has worked with the Haitian government and other stakeholders to address such issues. Indeed, the IDB has remained continually engaged in Haiti during the toughest political and economic circumstances.”