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El PRD Critica el Disfraz de "Inmigrante Ilegal" que se Comercializa en Estados Unidos


El legislador mexicano Antonio Mejía Haro calificó hoy de "racista" el disfraz de "inmigrante ilegal" que se está comercializando en Estados Unidos, porque es una burla contra todos los indocumentados en ese país.

En un comunicado difundido en la Ciudad de México, el senador del Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) explicó que en días pasados algunos comercios norteamericanos pusieron a la venta ese disfraz denigrante.
Dijo que el atuendo consiste en una máscara de extraterrestre, con un traje color naranja, parecido al que se utiliza en algunas prisiones estadounidenses, y con una leyenda en el pecho donde se lee "inmigrante ilegal".

El senador dijo que este hecho refleja el rechazo hacia los inmigrantes por parte de las autoridades y habitantes estadounidenses, al considerarlos como un grupo que debe ser marginado y discriminado.

"Baste con recordar la innumerable lista de leyes en contra de este sector, planteadas por el gobierno de Estados Unidos", comentó el senador mexicano.

Añadió que presentará un punto de acuerdo con el fin de solicitar a la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores que emita una nota diplomática al gobierno de Estados Unidos a efecto de rechazar todo tipo de prácticas y conductas que denigren a los inmigrantes.

Mejía Haro condenó esas posturas radicales y xenofóbicas que atribuyen a la inmigración "argumentos y razones de inseguridad ciudadana, competencia desleal en el mercado de trabajo, prostitución y sobrepoblación".

America's Drug Crisis Brought to You by the CIA



Next time you see a junkie sprawled at the curb in the downtown of your nearest city, or read about someone who died of a heroin overdose, just imagine a big yellow sign posted next to him or her saying: “Your Federal Tax Dollars at Work.”

Kudos to the New York Times, and to reporters Dexter Filkins, Mark Mazzetti and James Risen, for their lead article today reporting that Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of Afghanistan’s stunningly corrupt President Hamid Karzai, a leading drug lord in the world’s major opium-producing nation, has for eight years been on the CIA payroll.

Okay, the article was lacking much historical perspective (more on that later), and the dead hand of top editors was evident in the overly cautious tone (I loved the third paragraph, which stated that “The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raises significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House.” Well, duh! It should be raising questions about why we are even in Afghanistan, about who should be going to jail at the CIA, and about how can the government explain this to the over 1000 soldiers and Marines who have died supposedly helping to build a new Afghanistan). But that said, the newspaper that helped cheerlead us into the pointless and criminal Iraq invasion in 2003, and that prevented journalist Risen from running his exposé of the Bush/Cheney administration’s massive warrantless National Security Agency electronic spying operation until after the 2004 presidential election, this time gave a critically important story full play, and even, appropriately, included a teaser in the same front-page story about October being the most deadly month yet for the US in Afghanistan.

What the article didn’t mention at all is that there is a clear historical pattern here. During the Vietnam War, the CIA, and its Air America airline front-company, were neck deep in the Southeast Asian heroin trade. At the time, it was Southeast Asia, not Afghanistan, that was the leading producer and exporter of opium, mostly to the US, where there was a heroin epidemic.

A decade later, in the 1980s, during the Reagan administration, as the late investigative journalist Gary Webb so brilliantly documented first in a series titled “Dark Alliance” in the San Jose Mercury newspaper, and later in a book by that same name, the CIA was deeply involved in the development of and smuggling of cocaine into the US, which was soon engulfed in a crack cocaine epidemic—one that continues to destroy African American and other poor communities across the country. (The Times role here was sordid—it and other leading papers, including the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times—did despicable hit pieces on Webb shamelessly trashing his work and his career, and ultimately driving him to suicide, though his facts have held up. For the whole sordid tale, read Alex Cockburn’s and Jeffrey St. Clair’s Whiteout: the CIA, Drugs and the Press) In this case, Webb showed that the Agency was actually using the drugs as a way to fund arms, which it could use its own planes to ferry down to the Contra forces it was backing to subvert the Sandinista government in Nicaragua at a time Congress had barred the US from supporting the Contras.

And now we have Afghanistan, once a sleepy backwater of the world with little connection to drugs (the Taliban, before their overthrow by US forces in 20001, had, according to the UN, virtually eliminated opium production there), but now responsible for as much as 80 percent of the world’s opium production—this at a time that the US effectively finances and runs the place, with an occupying army that, together with Afghan government forces that it controls, outnumbers the Taliban 12-1 according to a recent AP story.

The real story here is that where the US goes, the drug trade soon follows, and the leading role in developing and nurturing that trade appears to be played by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Your tax dollars at work.

The issue at this point should not be how many troops the US should add to its total in Afghanistan. It shouldn’t even be over whether the US should up the ante or scale back to a more limited goal of hunting terrorists. It should be about how quickly the US can extricate its forces from Afghanistan, how soon the Congress can start hearings into corruption and drug pushing by the CIA, and how soon the Attorney General’s office will impanel a grand jury to probe CIA drug dealing.

Americans, who for years have supported a stupid, blundering and ineffective “War on Drugs” in this country, and who mindlessly back “zero-tolerance” policies towards drugs in schools and on the job, should demand a “zero-tolerance” policy toward drugs and dealing with drug pushers in government and foreign policy, including the CIA.

For years we have been fed the story that the Taliban are being financed by their taxes on opium farmers. That may be partly true, but recently we’ve been learning that it’s not the real story. Taliban forces in Afghanistan, it turns out, have been heavily subsidized by protection money paid to them by civilian aid organizations, including even American government-funded aid programs, and even, reportedly, by the military forces of some of America’s NATO allies (there is currently a scandal in Italy concerning such payments by Italian forces). But beyond that, the opium industry, far from being controlled by the Taliban, has been, to a great extent, controlled by the very warlords with which the US has allied itself, and, as the Times now reports, by Ahmed Wali Karzai, the president’s own brother.

Karzai, we are also told by Filkins, Mazzetti and Risen, was a key player in producing hundreds of thousands of fraudulent ballots for his brother’s election theft earlier this year. Left unsaid is whether the CIA might have played a role in that scam too. In a country where finding printing presses is sure to be difficult, and where transporting bales of counterfeit ballots is risky, you have to wonder whether an agency like the CIA, which has ready access to printers and to helicopters, might have had a hand in keeping its assets in control in Kabul.

Sure that’s idle speculation on my part, but when you learn that America’s spook agency has been keeping not just Karzai, but lots of other unsavory Afghani warlords, on its payroll, such speculation is only logical.

The real attitude of the CIA here was best illustrated by an anonymous quote in the Filkins, Mazzetti and Risen piece, where a “former CIA officer with experience in Afghanistan,” explaining the agency’s backing of Karzai, said, “Virtually every significant Afghan figure has had brushes with the drug trade. If you are looking for Mother Teresa, she doesn’t live in Afghanistan.”

“The end justifies the means” is America’s foreign policy and military motto, clearly.

The Times article exposing the CIA link to Afghanistan’s drug-kingpin presidential brother should be the last straw for Americans. President Obama’s “necessary” war in Afghanistan is nothing but a sick joke.

The opium, and resulting heroin, that is flooding into Europe and America thanks to the CIA’s active support of the industry and its owners in Afghanistan are doing far more grave damage to our societies than any turbaned terrorists armed with suicide bomb vests could hope to inflict.

The Afghanistan War has to be ended now.

Let the prosecution of America’s government drug pushers begin.

A note about Sen. John Kerry: Kerry (D-MA), who went to Afghanistan to press, for the Obama administration, to get his "good friend" President Karzai to agree to a run-off election after Karzai’s earlier theft of the first round, has played a shameful role here. Once, back when he still had an ounce of the principle that he had back when he was a Vietnam vet speaking out against the Indochina War, Kerry held hearings on the CIA's cocaine-for-arms operation in Central America. Now he's hugging the CIA's drug connections.

Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at


Consigna en el Pasado Encuentro Departamental de Servicios Públicos y Pobreza en Medellín (Colombia)

¡Comemos O Pagamos!

Carlos Julio Álvarez


“¡O comemos o pagamos!” es el nombre de una campaña de diferentes organizaciones comunitarias y populares que resume la disyuntiva que, según dicen, padecen muchas familias de Medellín y Antioquia respecto al pago de los servicios públicos. “¡O comemos o pagamos!”, fue de nuevo la consigna en el pasado Encuentro Departamental de Servicios Públicos y Pobreza, realizado en el municipio de El Peñol el pasado lunes , donde se trajo a colación el problema de desconectados en el Valle de Aburrá.

Más de 1.500 personas del Nordeste, el Norte, el Bajo Cauca, el Suroeste, el Oriente antioqueño y Medellín, se hicieron presentes para exigir mecanismos más equitativos de acceso a los servicios públicos domiciliaros como un derecho fundamental del ser humano.

Medellín como epicentro

“El tema de los desconectados, la vulneración de los derechos humanos de las familias y personas desconectadas de la ciudad por no tener con qué pagar. Que en Medellín existan aproximadamente 30.000 familias desconectadas del servicio de agua potable y energía eléctrica, es decir, aproximadamente 200.000 personas”, esas fueron las preocupaciones expuestas para la región metropolitana en el Encuentro, de acuerdo a Carlos Velásquez, de la Red de Organizaciones Comunitarias.

Según dice, otro fenómeno que se presenta actualmente es el de desconexión por acceso, es decir, personas que habitan lugares restringidos para hábitat según el Plan de Ordenamiento Territorial (POT)y que por ello no cuentan con servicio de acueducto, alcantarillado, agua y telefonía.

“Aproximadamente 20.000 familias a las que sólo les llega el servicio de energía a través de pilas comunitarias”, indica el líder comunal, quien agrega que durante el Encuentro, diferentes habitantes de estos sectores del Valle de Aburrá denunciaron irregularidades. “Se les cobra el consumo promedio de estrato 1 en Antioquia, y muchas personas que dijeron vivir solas, afirmaron que les está llegando un promedio entre 50.000 y 60.000 pesos por sólo el servicio de energía, cuando en un estrato dos o tres puede estar costando $50 mil, entonces se nos hace una injusticia del modo de facturación”.

Asimismo, los líderes campesinos, populares y comunitarios, retomaron el tema de Energía Prepago, el cual catalogaron como una máscara que oculta la realidad vivenciada por las familias que deben acogerse a este sistema de pago.

“Hasta antes de implementar la Energía Prepago hablábamos de 60.000 desconectados y hoy estamos hablando de 30.000 hogares, pero para nosotros como organizaciones comunitarias y populares, consideramos que el que cuenta con energía prepago sigue estando desconectado. Así como un día vos tuviste 2.000 para comprar la tarjeta, al otro día no los tienes y estarás desconectado”.

Servicios públicos en Antioquia

“De nuestras aguas surge la energía que nos niegan día a día”, dijeron los ancianos y representantes del Oriente antioqueño, quienes afirmaron que uno de los problemas más grandes de esta región se refiere al acceso con el que no cuentan muchas veredas, “a pesar de que a uno o dos kilómetros de su casa están las grandes represas o que por encima de sus casas pasen los cables de transmisión de la energía eléctrica que nutre a todo el país”, como dice Carlos Velásquez, quien resalta que el Oriente antioqueño produce el 35% de la energía eléctrica de Colombia.

“En el Norte se expuso el caso de Hidroituango, todos los impactos ambientales y poblacionales. Los desplazamiento que hubo para llevar a cabo este proyecto que lleva planteado cerca de 20 años”, indica el líder comunitario.

Por su parte, representantes del Nordeste, en especial de municipios como Anorí y Amalfi, indicaron que hay comunidades aledañas y en las periferias que no cuentan con el servicio de energía eléctrica a pesar de que en la cuenca de su propio río se ubican las Hidroeléctricas Porce II, Porce III y Porce IV.

“En el Suroeste los problemas provienen de los megaproyectos que se van a impulsar en la zona por multinacionales mineras que afectan directamente las fuentes de agua y por ende el servicio de suministro de agua potable en los municipios de Caramanta y Támesis”.

Conclusiones del Encuentro

Carlos Velásquez explica finalmente que entre los propósitos surgidos del Encuentro Departamental de Servicios Públicos y Pobreza, se encabeza una lucha contra las altas tarifas y la privatización de los servicios públicos. De igual forma, la exigencia de tarifas mínimas y unificadas para los territorios que producen los recursos naturales, negarse a pagar el alumbrado público y navideño y exigir energía eléctrica permanente para las comunas y las veredas, aboliendo el servicio de prepago, fueron otros de los propósitos trazados.

What's So Scary About Michael Pollan? Why Corporate Agriculture Tried to Censor His University Speech

By Martha Rosenberg


Agribusiness is trying to combat Pollan's message of sustainable, healthy eating.

Even if agribusiness could shut Michael Pollan up, the outspoken author of Omnivore's Dilemma and a journalism professor at University of California, Berkeley, it still has the Los Angeles Times to contend with.

Last week, the Times blasted California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo for downgrading a scheduled Pollan lecture because it received pressure from David E. Wood, a university donor who happens to be chairman of the Harris Ranch Beef Co.

"Agribusiness gets plenty of opportunities to preach its point of view at agriculture schools such as Cal Poly, where the likes of Monsanto and Cargill fund research," the Times wrote, calling the 800-acre Harris Ranch, near Coalinga, whose "smell assaults passersby long before the panorama of thousands of cattle packed atop layers of their own manure,"--"Cowschwitz." Ouch.

And agribusiness has the University of Wisconsin-Madison to deal with.

The land grant, ag-based university, in the middle of dairyland, clearly doesn't remember its roots. It gave Pollan's In Defense of Food, another anti-agbiz screed according to industry, free to all incoming freshmen as part of its common book read program where everyone reads the same book, Go Big Read, in August.

"I have not seen the students this excited about something in years," Irwin Goodman, horticulture professor and vice dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences told the Associated Press as the James Beard Award-winning book was discussed in French and political science classes and included in an exhibit on the history of food.

Protesting farmers who came to hear Pollan speak at the university's 17,000-seat Kohl Center in September wearing matching green T-shirts which said "In Defense of Farming: Eat Food. Be Healthy. Thank Farmers" were clearly outnumbered. So were bumper stickers reading No Food; No Farms and Don't Criticize Farmers With Your Mouth Full in the parking lot.

Students get all their facts from writers like Pollan, the farmers, who were bussed in by Madison-based feed company Vita Plus, told the Capital Times. They have never visited a farm for first-hand knowledge of food production and don't know what they're talking about.

But efforts to open farms to the public are not always successful.

This month United Egg Producers' "Opening the Barn Doors" media tour at Morning Fresh Farms in northern Colorado, for example, only confirmed the size of today's egg farm that make humane conditions impossible (36 barns; 23,000 birds each, 23 million dozen eggs a year) and raised further questions about environmental blight by showing the press wearing white HazMat suits to enter the barns. (See: You want us to eat WHAT?)

Last month the American Egg Board rolled out a kid-focused "The Good Egg" campaign which includes sponsorship of Sesame Street, a Cookie Monster product placement and a feel good virtual tour to soften public opinion about egg farms. But nowhere does the campaign address the daily grinding up of newborn males even as they hatch at the hatcheries which supply egg farms to provide the industry with only females--a practice that United Egg Producers confirms is routine. Does the Cookie Monster know about that?

Nor can all that crowding and all those chemicals be good for you, Pollan has written and many studies suggest.

But agribusiness is also combating last year's American Institute for Cancer Research and World Cancer Research Fund study that found the link between processed meats and colon cancer so strong, the organizations advised consumers to change their eating habits.

Trent Loos, an outspoken columnist with the agbiz weekly, Feedstuffs, says nitrosamines, found in processed or cured meat and widely believed carcinogenic, may actually be good for you, preventing and treating "cardiovascular and other diseases associated with nitric oxide insufficiency in the diet."

"Nitric oxide is an important signaling molecule in the human body to regulate numerous physiological functions including blood flow to tissues and organs," write Loos of research conducted by Dr. Nathan Bryan at the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Texas, Houston. "The regular intake of nitrite-containing food appears to ensure that blood and tissue levels of nitrite and nitric oxide pools in the body are maintained at adequate levels."

Some of the ag press has even picked up the theory--but don't expect a Pollan book called In Defense of Nitrites anytime soon.

Los Límites del Sistema Representativo

¿Y las Nuevas Instancias de Democracia Directa?

Natalia Brite

Agencia Periodística del Mercosur

Una reforma política profunda debería contemplar el establecimiento de mecanismos de cierta democracia directa, como los son la revocatoria de mandatos y ciertas formas de asambleas populares. Instituciones de semejante naturaleza permitirían que la ciudadanía pudiese actuar en forma eficaz en torno a los grandes temas que hacen a su existencia como tal y al funcionamiento del Estado. Esas y otras consideraciones fueron abordadas, en entrevista con APM, por Roberto Follari, director de Maestría en Estudios Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Nacional de Cuyo (Argentina) y docente de grado y postgrado en varios centros de estudios de este país.

- Para entrar en tema, ¿cómo podría explicarse la cuestión de fondo, que es la representatividad política?

En términos teóricos debemos partir de los que en Grecia se pensaba como democracia directa, que no puede practicarse como tal en una sociedad compleja como la nuestra. La representación, de algún modo, es necesaria. Pero si no se establecen mecanismos muy precisos se da la condición actual de la política argentina, que se vuelto un cambalache. Hay dirigentes que se van de un lado para el otro, recordemos que hasta se dio vuelta el propio vicepresidente, Julio Cobos. Si se respondiera estrictamente al mandato popular, al partido por el que se resultó electo, y no a una decisión personal, habría una mejor relación entre el mandato dado originalmente y lo que se hace. Eso hoy no está garantizado y cada uno va actuando según conveniencias o decisiones, que pueden ser legítimas, pero que no siempre son afines a la condición por la cual se ha llegado al cargo. La representación siempre es problemática, no hay manera de que otro me represente tal cual yo mismo, ese otro tiene un margen de exterioridad en relación a aquel que está siendo representado. Por otro lado no puede haber 40 millones de argentinos, o 200 millones de brasileros gobernando de manera directa el país. Pero la representación, para poder ser medianamente efectiva, debe estar obligada a márgenes de consulta y control. Ello no está fijado hoy en las formas habituales de manejo del sistema político, y esto es así en la mayoría de las llamadas “democracias occidentales”.

- ¿El gran tema sería, entonces, el control sobre este contrato entre representado y representante?

La representación debiera estar sometida a modos bastante más precisos de exigencia. Esto de que el pueblo no delibera ni gobierna sino a través de sus representantes es casi una expropiación, donde los representantes pasan a ser los dueños de decidir lo que les viene en gana, y ni siquiera se sabe bien quiénes son a la hora de votarlos. Pongo como ejemplo el caso de un legislador de Mendoza, que es a las claras un agente del multimedios más grande de la provincia, pero que era uno más en el montón dentro de una lista de candidatos. Más allá de por qué lo votaron termina siendo el representante de un conglomerado económico. Estas cosas no se pueden controlar si no hay exigencias más precisas sobre qué significa representar. Debieran contemplarse mecanismos como la revocatoria de mandato o asambleas populares, mediante los que se pueda ejercer opinión y tomar partido sobre los grandes temas, con un valor vinculante. Algo de esto se vivió en la discusión acerca de la ley de Servicios de Comunicación Audiovisual (recientemente promulgad), oportunidad en la que se percibió una mayoría de la población a favor de la medida pero aún así legisladores que fueron electos por esos sectores finalmente se opusieron. En ese caso no representaron los intereses por los cuales fueron elegidos y no existe ningún medio por el cual se les pueda exigir otro comportamiento. Se pueden pensar métodos de consulta que resulten rápidos y no muy complicados, electrónicos u otros, que corrijan esos perjuicios que sufren los actualmente los representados.

- ¿Cómo se enmarca esa discusión en el escenario de crisis de representación actual?

La crisis de representación, tal cual se expresó el estallido de diciembre de 2001, de algún modo fue superada desde el gobierno de Néstor Kirchner y en el comienzo de éste, de Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Después, sobre todo la acción mediática y los propios errores del gobierno durante el conflicto con las patronales agrarias lesionaron la representatividad gubernamental, la que, sin embargo, sigue siendo importante. De manera que se ha producido una erosión de la representatividad gubernativa, y a la vez no hay ninguna representatividad en la oposición. Los medios han logrado imponer una especie de antikirchnerismo furioso en un sector amplio de la población argentina, pero sin que crear una alternativa. La oposición no tiene otro proyecto que no sea volver a los ajustes, y tampoco tienen alguna personalidad que parezca medianamente atractiva como líder. Entonces, es verdad que hay cierta crisis de representación, pero no es la del 2001, es bastante menor. Los sectores populares, en buena medida, tienen una relación no de plena representación pero sí de cierto margen de aceptabilidad respecto del gobierno nacional. Los sectores medios y altos han quedado a la deriva, y en términos generales no se sienten representados.

- La reforma política, en los términos en los que se expresa por estos días ¿es un debate instalado en la sociedad? ¿Es necesaria?

Creo que una reforma es necesaria, aunque el tema no aparece visible para la población. Quizás si hoy se hace una consulta respecto de qué tema resulta más importante para la sociedad, seguramente cuestiones como el de la seguridad tendrían más relevancia. Sin embargo, reitero que se trata de un punto definitivamente necesario, puesto que desde una mirada integral de lo político resulta claro el distanciamiento existente entre la población y “la política”. En este sentido una reforma colaboraría para modificar esa realidad.

- ¿Cuáles son los límites de una reforma política como la que parece ser impulsada por el gobierno?

Hay que ver cuál es la propuesta y habría que intentar que no se quede empantanada como un instrumento solamente útil de cara a las próximas elecciones, tanto por parte del gobierno como de la oposición. Es importante que los distintos actores políticos estén a la altura de discutir algo que se ubique más allá de lo inmediato. Sin ser ingenuos, en política no se puede no pensar en lo inmediato, pero si la reforma política termina siendo solo una cuestión de ventajas y desventajas para la próxima elección, estaríamos frente a una dirigencia política que está por debajo de lo que acá se requiere; hay que pensarla en un sentido estratégico.

- Se cuestiona el hecho de que no se discutirían el voto electrónico o las listas sábana…

Creo que la discusión respecto del voto electrónico o de las listas sábana no modificaría en mucho el problema de representación. El grado de satisfacción de la población con el sistema político no cambiaría sustancialmente. No estaría mal pretender modificarlo, pero está lejos de ser una gran solución.

- ¿Qué otros puntos deberían ser contemplados en un proyecto de reforma política?

La cantidad de partidos políticos que compiten en cada elección parece poco sensata. Qué peso puede tener, por ejemplo para una minoría, lograr un legislador entre veintiocho bancas; seguramente terminará “vendiendo” su voto a cambio de alguna prebenda. Y si no lo hace es una especie de Robinson Crusoe de la política, sin ninguna capacidad decisoria. Deberíamos poder pensar en la existencia de siete u ocho partidos, no caer en el bipartidismo como el caso chileno, en el cual la izquierda tiene un buen porcentaje de votos pero no accede a la representación parlamentaria. Creo que un partido con un cinco o seis por ciento de electores a favor debe tener representación institucional; ello evitaría la atomización caótica que, en algunos casos, termina siendo hasta grotesco. Para eso se requiere, por ejemplo, ajustar razonablemente las exigencias para conformar partidos nacionales o provinciales. Se evitaría la creación de partidos que son sólo sellos, o que se prestan a negociar una personería para las elecciones, u otros casos en lo que existen partidos solamente en un municipio.

- ¿Podríamos pensarse, al menos en esta etapa, que los partidos tengan una mayor igualdad de oportunidades durante las campañas electorales?

El dinero siempre termina siendo una cuestión de hecho, está bien que desde el Derecho se establezcan límites. Vimos como el empresario Francisco De Narváez hizo campaña de manera ilegal, fuera del tiempo que correspondía, entre otros lugares, en las canchas de fútbol. Si alguien le oponía alguna queja, argumentaba que no era campaña sino propaganda. Siempre, de un modo u otro, se pueden burlar las leyes y pueden aparecer recursos para hacer las cosas por debajo. Esto no es sólo un tema de legalidad sino también de cultura política. Pero está muy bien que se establezcan reglamentos para que el acceso a los recursos por parte de los partidos tienda a ser lo más igualitario y transparente, pero no hay que ser ilusos y creer que con hacer leyes vamos a resolver cuestiones de poder. Los actores sociales que responden a los intereses de la economía concentrada intentarán siempre favorecer a sus expresiones políticas.

- ¿Cómo impactaría la promoción de una mayor participación electoral en el proceso de selección de candidatos?

La idea de hacer un sistema electoral similar a las primarias en Estados Unidos es bastante novedosa para la Argentina. Seguramente puede ser sentida, en parte, como la pérdida de la acción más directa por parte del ciudadano en la elección. Pero tiene una ventaja importante y es que, en una época de alejamiento de la población respecto de lo político, el proceso electivo se hace más rico, más reñido y por lo tanto no resoluble en un solo y simple acto comicial cada un par años; implicaría mucho mayor protagonismo de la ciudadanía.

- ¿En una reforma más profunda, qué medidas ayudarían a resolver el divorcio entre sociedad y política?

Hay ciertos aspectos de reforma política que vale la pena trabajar, como la revocatoria de mandatos -instaurada en Venezuela y utilizada en contra del gobierno que la había impuesto-, el referéndum, la constitución de asambleas populares; todas instituciones que tienden a una mayor participación popular. Implicarían reformas más de fondo, distintas a la simple reforma política superestructural. Aquí, en cambio, lo que se pone en juego es la forma de representación por vía de partidos, la elección de candidatos, el manejo económico de las estructuras partidarias. De cualquier modo eso es importante, aunque no suele ser percibido desde la población como algo muy determinante, hasta tanto, en todo caso, funcione de manera positiva.

Chiapas Government Tries to Pin Narco Arsenal on Peasant Leader

by Kristin Bricker


Conflicting Press Releases Cast Doubt on Government Claims

This past October 16, the Mexican Federal Police transferred Chiapan peasant leader Jose Manuel “Don Chema” Hernandez Martinez to a maximum-security federal prison located in Nayarit, 26 hours from his home. Don Chema is a leader of the Emiliano Zapata Peasant Organization (OCEZ). The government claims that it transferred him “for his own safety.”

On October 9, the government claims to have uncovered a massive weapons stockpile—reportedly the largest weapons seizure in the history of Chiapas, and the biggest weapons seizure in the entire country so far this year. The Chiapas state government says in a press release that “according to statements made by the men detained in this operation, the arsenal would be linked to José Manuel Hernández Martínez.”

The press release, dated October 18, is meant to justify Don Chema’s transfer to a maximum-security federal prison “for his own protection.” The press release continues: “It was detected that people, members of the organization in which Jose Manuel Martinez participates, wanted to cause him physical harm so that he wouldn’t testify to the authorities about this arsenal.” Don Chema’s family was unaware of these threats; they protested his transfer as a government move to isolate him from his family, lawyer, and political support base.

On October 12, the Chiapas government issued a press release regarding the arms seizure. The press release explains how the government arrested three men who then led them to the weapons. The three men are: Juan Rocha Flores from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, and Joel Díaz González and Silverio Osorio López from Huimanguillo, Tabasco. According to the press release, all of the men say they belong to a “criminal organization in the region;” one of the men “said he belongs to an organization called OCEZ or OPEZ that uses ‘social struggle’ as a front.” The press release does not specifically mention Don Chema; the press release mentioned above that justified Don Chema’s transfer to Nayarit makes the explicit link between the weapons stockpile and Don Chema.

On October 13, the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) issued a press release stating that the Chiapan government had transferred the three men to the federal government’s custody for detention, processing, and prosecution. The PGR press release states that the three men admitted to being hitmen and “halcones” (elite fighters) for Los Zetas, the Gulf cartel’s private army that occasionally also works with the Beltran Leyva drug trafficking organization. The PGR press release does not mention the OCEZ nor the OPEZ nor Don Chema. Likewise, the previously issued Chiapas state government press releases to not mention Los Zetas.

Contradictions Outweigh Consistencies

The three press releases (two from the Chiapan government and one from the PGR) include a number of inconsistencies that cast a shadow of doubt over their claims, particularly the so-called evidence that incriminates Don Chema and the OCEZ.

The press releases’ inconsistencies begin with the moment the men are detained. The PGR press release reports that Chiapan State Preventive Police (PEP) stopped the men at a checkpoint. According to the PGR, the men tried to evade the checkpoint. The Chiapan press release states that the men were stopped for a routine inspection (which could be the checkpoint the PGR mentions, but the wording is too vague to be sure) on the highway that connects the cities of Frontera Comalapa and Comitan. Here’s the problem: the Frontera Comalapa-Comitan highway is a federal highway. State police don’t have jurisdiction on federal highways; only federal police and soldiers do. State police can’t make arrests on federal highways unless they’re taking part in a joint federal-state operation (none of the three press releases alludes to a joint operation on that highway at the time). And State police certainly can’t set up checkpoints on federal highways. So why do the government press releases say that state police stopped the men at a checkpoint on a federal highway?

The press releases also give conflicting reasons for why the men were arrested. The Chiapas press release states: “During a routine inspection carried out while they traveled along the highway that runs from Frontera Compalapa to Comitan de Dominguez in a gray Chrysler Ram double-cab pick-up truck, the men responded in a nervous manner and tried to bribe the police officers.” The PGR press release states that the men tried to avoid the highway checkpoint all together.

Even more interestingly, none of the press releases claim that the men had any contraband on them at all at the time of their detention. So aside from the attempted bribe that may or may not have actually occurred, it seems as though the arresting police officers had no evidence against the men. This begs the question: why would the men have tried to bribe the police officers if they had no contraband in their vehicle?

The Organizations

One of the most striking contradictions in the three press releases is the very information that directly incriminates Don Chema and the OCEZ: the three detained men’s testimony regarding who they work for. The Chiapas press release states that the three suspects told police that they are members of the “OCEZ or OPEZ.” It’s odd that the detained men aren’t exactly sure which organization they belong to. What’s even more odd are the two organizations they say they might belong to: the Emiliano Zapata Proletarian Organization (OPEZ) split off from the OCEZ years ago, and the two organizations and their members don’t get along at all. Overlapping membership in the two organizations is highly unlikely.

The men’s OCEZ membership is even more questionable when one considers where the men are from. According to the Chiapas government, the men hail from Tabasco and Tamaulipas, not Chiapas. The complete name of Don Chema’s OCEZ is the Emiliano Zapata Peasant Organization - Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC). “Carranza Region” was added to the name in order to distinguish it from other Chiapan organizations that also call themselves OCEZ. “Carranza Region” refers to the Chiapan county in which the organization is located. In other words, not only does the name “OCEZ” refer to Chiapan organizations, Don Chema’s OCEZ-RC is an organization that exists in a particular Chiapan county. It is unlikely that the OCEZ-RC has Tabascan members, and it is even more unlikely that the OCEZ-RC has members from Tamaulipas, which is located at the other end of the country. Members of Don Chema’s OCEZ are from communities in Carranza county, Chiapas.

Two of the three men also reportedly told police that they spent one month in Guatemala receiving kaibil training. Kaibiles are elite Guatemalan soldiers, holdovers from the dirty war there. They have a reputation for being inhuman monsters; their training reportedly includes biting off the heads of live chickens. Kaibiles have a history of repressing insurgent peasant organizations, not training them. The Mexican government claims that many kaibiles have now allied themselves with Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and train DTO hitmen and private armies.

According to the government, the two men testified that the San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, diocese put them in contact with the kaibiles. Since Don Samuel Ruiz, an indigenous rights supporter and president of the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba), was bishop of the San Cristobal diocese during the Zapatista uprising in 1994, the diocese has been very oriented towards liberation theology. As such, both Frayba and the San Cristobal diocese have been frequent targets of government harassment and smear campaigns. Furthermore, during the Guatemalan dirty wars, the kaibiles and other Guatemalan security forces were known for repressing and killing liberation theologists and catechists, not training them.

But why would the three men incriminate local peasant and religious organizations, some of which they don’t seem to even be vaguely familiar with? The answer could lie in Mexico’s protected witness program: Mexican officials offer detained suspects “protected witness status” which would result in their charges being reduced or dropped if they agree to testify against more important targets, in this case, that could be Don Chema, the OCEZ, and the San Cristobal diocese. This could have been the case with these three men: in a highly unusual move, the Chiapan government press release regarding the men’s arrest and their alleged arsenal only includes pictures of the weapons; the three detainees’ pictures are not included in the press release. The government generally prefers to parade detainees around in front of their alleged arsenals for the press. With this arms seizure being the largest in Chiapan history and the largest in the country this year to date, one would think the government would want to give the press a picture of the men who allegedly lead them to the historic stockpile.

In contrast to the Chiapan government press release, the PGR press release regarding the same men and the same arsenal says that the three men admitted to being Zetas. Oddly, the PGR press release does not mention anything about any “criminal organization that uses ‘social struggle’ as a front,” nor the OCEZ, nor the OPEZ. However, the PGR press release does state that the men testified to the Chiapas State Special Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime that they worked as hitmen and halcones for Los Zetas. If the PGR is to be believed, this seems like important information that the Chiapan government should have taken credit for in its own press release. So why did the Chiapan government neglect this important piece of information, and choose to instead focus on linking the OCEZ and Don Chema to the historic arsenal seizure?

The Arsenal

According to the Chiapas government, during questioning the detained men tipped off authorities to the location of a safe house where arms were stored. There, the Chiapas government found the largest weapons stockpile in Chiapan history. However, the arsenal itself raises questions about the veracity of the government’s claims.

The Chiapas government reports no arrests in the ranch where the arms stockpile was discovered—it found weapons and animals there, but no people. In other words, the Chiapas government wants us to believe that the largest arms cache in Chiapan history was left unguarded.

The arsenal was discovered in Frontera Comalapa, which is located about five hours from Carranza county, where the OCEZ-RC is based. It is imaginable that major drug trafficking organizations, which due to their immense financial resources are arguably better armed than the Mexican government itself, would have an excess weapons stockpile of this size stashed away in a house. However, a poor peasant organization whose members live in tiny cinderblock houses is not likely to hide a weapons arsenal of this size so far from its base of operations—after all, the weapons are useless if they are located a five-hour drive away from home. Furthermore, guns require routine cleaning and maintenance: this is something an insurgent peasant organization could do if their weapons were dispersed and hidden amongst their members, but regular weapon maintenance would be much more difficult if all or most of their weapons were stored in an abandoned ranch five hours from their community.

Peasant organizations are, by definition, too poor to have an excess of armament that they would store hours away from their home base. Case in point: during the Zapatista uprising in 1994, many indigenous members of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) were armed with sticks instead of guns. This is because many indigenous peasants, the poorest of Mexico’s poor, couldn’t afford to buy a gun, even if it meant the difference between life and death. For example, in the below video of the 1994 uprising, at 1:28, 2:09, and 2:32 minutes one can see EZLN soldiers who are armed with sticks or who are completely unarmed. Those who are armed carry obsolete weapons. On EZLN soldier can be seen holding a tear gas launcher as his only weapon.

The typical peasant army arsenal is a far cry from the stockpile allegedly found at the Frontera Comalapa ranch. In addition to 306 mortar rounds, 22 rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and eight landmines, Chiapan police allegedly found nine vehicles and two racing horses. Peasants whose leaders live in two-bedroom cinderblock houses (as is Don Chema’s case) would keep their vehicles close to home for daily use rather than leaving a fleet of them parked at an abandoned ranch. Likewise, most peasants don’t own expensive racing horses; they own beasts of burden.

The Chiapas government also reports that it recovered a jewel-encrusted pistol from the ranch. While it doesn’t show said pistol in the photos it released to the press, a different pistol with what appears to be a gold-and-ivory handle is visible. Jewel- and gold-encrusted pistols are not available off-the-shelf. They must be special ordered and are very expensive. The style is popular amongst rich, high-ranking drug traffickers, which led to jewel- and gold-encrusted pistols being nicknamed “narco-bling.” This historic Chiapas arms seizure is the first time the government has attempted to convince the public that poor peasant guerrilla organizations also possess “narco-bling.” The presence of narco-bling calls the veracity of the government’s claims into question because, again, unlike drug trafficking organizations, insurgent peasant organizations struggle just to arm all of their members with any weapon at all. If by some stroke of luck a peasant guerrilla organization were to obtain a jewel- or gold-encrusted pistol (for example, in a confrontation with drug traffickers), they’d be more likely to strip the weapon of its jewels and gold and sell them in order to purchase more weapons.

Likewise, police report that one of the vehicles recovered at the ranch was armored. Drug traffickers are frequently seen traveling in armored vehicles; peasants rarely have enough money for cheap cars, let alone an armored vehicle.

Police also report that they recovered a trailer at the ranch in Frontera Comalapa. The OCEZ community of 28 de Junio, where Don Chema lives, is located 3 km from the nearest paved road. What would they do with a trailer? It would tip over if they tried to bring it to their community.

Even though police say they recovered mortars and RPGs from the ranch, no grenade launchers appear in the government photos nor in the government’s list of recovered arms. Who owns RPGs and mortars but no weapons with which to shoot them?

Furthermore, the Chiapas government’s photos of the arsenal include eight CB radios. Three of the radios appear to be brand-new; they still have plastic film over their screens. All of the cables that appear with the radios are brand-new: some appear in their original factory zip-ties, while others lack the dirt and grime that would appear on a radio that was installed in a vehicle. Much of Carranza county doesn’t have cell phone reception. Rather than leaving brand-new CB radios stored in an abandoned ranch five hours from home, wouldn’t OCEZ members use them for day-to-day communications?

The Location

The arsenal’s location also raises questions about the Chiapan government’s claim that the weapons belong to the OCEZ. Frontera Comalapa, as previously mentioned, lies about five hours from Carranza county, where Don Chema’s OCEZ faction is based.

Frontera Comalapa is not known for insurgent activity. This arms bust, if it is to be believed, would be the first time the Mexican government has publicly stated that it has detected insurgent activity in the area. However, this is not the first arms bust in Frontera Comalapa.

Frontera Comalapa, as its name suggests, is located along the Chiapas-Guatemala border. This border region is the primary land route for drug traffickers wishing to bring drugs into Mexico. This area is reportedly dominated by Los Zetas.

The Mexican government and press have repeatedly reported Zetas and drug trafficking activity in Frontera Comalapa and the surrounding area.

On October 15, just three days after the Chiapan government issued its press release attributing the arsenal to the OCEZ, the Mexican military seized 40.66 kilos of cocaine in Fronteral Comalapa.

This past July, the Chiapas government reported that alleged Zetas attacked state police with firearms and grenades in Frontera Comalapa in retaliation for the apprehension of a Zetas leader in Chiapas.

And just last year, the Chiapas government reported that it seized another historic arsenal in Frontera Comalapa. This arsenal contained the most grenades seized at one time. The Chiapas state government attributed that arsenal to organized crime, not local insurgents.

Weak Accusations Lead to Useful Results

Frontera Comalapa is drug trafficking territory, not insurgent territory. The arsenal contains items that a peasant guerrilla army would most likely not own or would not stockpile. The massive arsenal and two racing horses (which require food and water) were left unguarded. The federal and state governments cannot agree on the circumstances of the men’s arrest, nor their alleged organizational affiliations. The PGR, which is responsible for prosecuting the men, claims the detainees are Zetas, not insurgents. Something stinks.

But why would the Chiapas state government go to such lengths to link Don Chema and the OCEZ to this arsenal if its story contains so many holes and inconsistencies?

The Chiapan government has unleashed an unprecedented campaign of legal repression against the OCEZ, and as flimsy as the accusations might be, they serve their purpose. The arsenal provided the government with justification to transfer Don Chema, a state prisoner and the OCEZ’s principal leader, to a federal maximum-security prison located at the other end of the country. And just this morning, unidentified police officers broke into the homes of Rocelio de la Cruz Gonzáles and José Manuel de la Torre Hernández, two other OCEZ leaders, and kidnapped those two men. Because the police officers did not present an arrest warrant when they carried off the men, it is unknown what how the government will charge them.

One thing is certain: with the year 2010—the centennial and bicentennial of two Mexican revolutions—just around the corner, the Mexican government is just getting started with its pre-emptive strikes against the opposition.


Se Acerca la Huelga Nacional en México

Los Electricistas están Reuniendo Incontables Apoyos en su Lucha contra el Presidente Calderón

Gonzalo Sánchez


El Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas convocó a la izquierda política, social y sindical mexicana a una Asamblea Nacional de Resistencia Popular. A esta cita acudieron otros sindicatos universitarios, campesinos y obreros, organizaciones políticas como Partido de la Revolución Democrática, Partido de los Trabajadores y Convergencia, miembros del Frente Amplio Progresista y al Movimiento en Defensa de la Economía Popular que ha establecido casas de acopio en todo México DF para que los electricistas, en paro desde el violento cierre de la empresa Luz y Fuerza del Centro, puedan conseguir alimentos para dar de comer a sus familias.

Los electricistas llevan sin cobrar casi 3 semanas, desde que el Gobierno de Felipe Calderón decidiera cerrar sin avisar la empresa pública de electricidad Luz y Fuerza del Centro, dejando a 42.000 trabajadores en la calle.

El FAP y el Movimiento en Defensa de la Economía Popular, liderados por López Obrador, siguieron el mandato de éste para apoyar a los electricistas en todo lo que decidieran para luchar contra el cierre de su empresa. Lucha que ya ha traspado ese objetivo y se ha declarado contra el gobierno de Felipe Calderón.

Por ello en la Asamblea Nacional de Resistencia Popular, Martín Esparza, dirigente del SME ha propuesto elevar las protestas del SME a nivel nacional mediante una huelga nacional y ha llamado a todos los asistentes a sumarse al Frente Nacional contra las Decisiones del Gobierno para presentar batalla al neoliberalismo en todo México. Ante estas propuestas el movimiento político y social que dirige López Obrador ya ha mostrado su apoyo y el resto de sindicatos participantes en la asamblea han acordado consultar a las bases y responder el 5 de novimebre en la próxima asamblea donde se prepararán los detalles para realizar esas propuestas.

Ante llamados de algunos secotres de emprender una lucha violenta, Esparza abogó por la lucha pacífica y llamó a una concentración este viernes para protestar contra el cierre y a llevar a cabo acciones para romper el cerco mediático por el cual los grupos comunicativos afines al gobierno que disponen de la mayoría de los medios de comunicación mexicanos están manipulando a la opinión pública sobre la lucha de los electricistas.

Mind Your Tweets: CIA and European Union Building Social Networking Surveillance System

by Tom Burghardt

Dissident Voice

That social networking sites and applications such as Facebook, Twitter and their competitors can facilitate communication and information sharing amongst diverse groups and individuals is by now a cliché.

It should come as no surprise then, that the secret state and the capitalist grifters whom they serve, have zeroed-in on the explosive growth of these technologies. One can be certain however, securocrats aren’t tweeting their restaurant preferences or finalizing plans for after work drinks.

No, researchers on both sides of the Atlantic are busy as proverbial bees building a “total information” surveillance system, one that will, so they hope, provide police and security agencies with what they euphemistically call “actionable intelligence.”

Build the Perfect Panopticon, Win Fabulous Prizes

In this context, the whistleblowing web site Wikileaks published a remarkable document October 4 by the INDECT Consortium, the Intelligence Information System Supporting Observation, Searching and Detection for Security of Citizens in Urban Environment.

Hardly a catchy acronym, but simply put INDECT is working to put a human face on the billions of emails, text messages, tweets and blog posts that transit cyberspace every day; perhaps your face.

According to Wikileaks, INDECT’s “Work package 4″ is designed “to comb web blogs, chat sites, news reports, and social-networking sites in order to build up automatic dossiers on individuals, organizations and their relationships.” Ponder that phrase again: “automatic dossiers.”

This isn’t the first time that European academics have applied their “knowledge skill sets” to keep the public “safe”–from a meaningful exercise of free speech and the right to assemble, that is.

Last year The Guardian reported that Bath University researchers’ Cityware project covertly tracked “tens of thousands of Britons” through the installation of Bluetooth scanners that capture “radio signals transmitted from devices such as mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras, and using the data to follow unwitting targets without their permission.”

One privacy advocate, Simon Davies, the director of Privacy International, told The Guardian: “This technology could well become the CCTV of the mobile industry. It would not take much adjustment to make this system a ubiquitous surveillance infrastructure over which we have no control.”

Which of course, is precisely the point.

As researchers scramble for a windfall of cash from governments eager to fund these dubious projects, European police and security agencies aren’t far behind their FBI and NSA colleagues in the spy game.

The online privacy advocates, Quintessenz, published a series of leaked documents in 2008 that described the network monitoring and data mining suites designed by Nokia Siemens, Ericsson and Verint.

The Nokia Siemens Intelligence Platform dubbed “intelligence in a box,” integrate tasks generally done by separate security teams and pools the data from sources such as telephone or mobile calls, email and internet activity, bank transactions, insurance records and the like. Call it data mining on steroids.

Ironically enough however, Siemens, the giant German electronics firm was caught up in a global bribery scandal that cost the company some $1.6 billion in fines. Last year, The New York Times described “a web of secret bank accounts and shadowy consultants,” and a culture of “entrenched corruption … at a sprawling, sophisticated corporation that externally embraced the nostrums of a transparent global marketplace built on legitimate transactions.”

According to the Times, “at Siemens, bribery was just a line item.” Which just goes to show, powering the secret state means never having to say you’re sorry!

Social Network Spying, a Growth Industry Fueled by Capitalist Grifters

The trend by security agencies and their corporate partners to spy on their citizens has accelerated greatly in the West since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

This multi-billion industry in general, has been a boon for the largest American and European defense corporations. Among the top ten companies listed by Washington Technology in their annual ranking of the “Top 100″ prime government contractors, all ten–from Lockheed Martin to Booz Allen Hamilton–earned a combined total of $68 billion in 2008 from defense and related homeland security work for the secret state.

And like Siemens, all ten corporations figure prominently on the Project on Government Oversight’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (FCMD), which tracks “contract fraud, environmental, ethics, and labor violations.” Talk about a rigged game!

Designing everything from nuclear missile components to eavesdropping equipment for various government agencies in the United States and abroad, including some of the most repressive regimes on the planet, these firms have moved into manufacturing the hardware and related computer software for social networking surveillance in a big way.

Wired revealed back in 2006 that the National Security Agency “is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks.”

And just this week in an exclusive report published by the British high-tech publication, The Register, it was revealed that “the government has outsourced parts of its biggest ever mass surveillance project to the disaster-prone IT services giant formerly known as EDS.”

That work is being conducted under the auspices of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British state’s equivalent of America’s National Security Agency.

Investigative journalist Chris Williams disclosed that the American computer giant HP, which purchased EDS for some $13.9 billion last year, is “designing and installing the massive computing resources that will be needed to analyse details of who contacts whom, when where and how.”

Work at GCHQ in Cheltenham is being carried out under “a secret project called Mastering the Internet.” In May, a Home Office document surfaced that “ostensibly sought views on whether ISPs should be forced to gather terabytes of data from their networks on the government’s behalf.”

The Register reported earlier this year that telecommunications behemoth Detica and U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin were providing GCHQ with data mining software “which searches bulk data, such as communications records, for patterns … to identify suspects.” (For further details see: Antifascist Calling, “Spying in the UK: GCHQ Awards Lockheed Martin £200m Contract, Promises to ‘Master the Internet’,” May 7, 2009)

It seems however, that INDECT researchers like their GCHQ/NSA kissin’ cousins in Britain and the United States, are burrowing ever-deeper into the nuts-and-bolts of electronic social networking and may be on the verge of an Orwellian surveillance “breakthrough.”

As New Scientist sagely predicted, the secret state most certainly plans to “harness advances in internet technology–specifically the forthcoming ’semantic web’ championed by the web standards organisation W3C –to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals.”

Profiling Internet Dissent

Pretty alarming, but the devil as they say is in the details and INDECT’s release of their “Work package 4″ file makes for a very interesting read. And with a title, “XML Data Corpus: Report on methodology for collection, cleaning and unified representation of large textual data from various sources: news reports, weblogs, chat,” rest assured one must plow through much in the way of geeky gibberish and tech-speak to get to the heartless heart of the matter.

INDECT itself is a rather interesting amalgamation of spooks, cops and academics.

According to their web site, INDECT partners include: the University of Science and Technology, AGH, Poland; Gdansk University of Technology; InnoTech DATA GmbH & Co., Germany; IP Grenoble (Ensimag), France; MSWiA, the General Headquarters of Police, attached to the Ministry of the Interior, Poland; Moviquity, Spain; Products and Systems of Information Technology, PSI, Germany; the Police Service of Northern Ireland, PSNI, United Kingdom (hardly slouches when it comes to stitching-up Republicans and other leftist agitators!); Poznan University of Technology; Universidad Carlos III de Madrid; Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria; University of Wuppertal, Germany; University of York, Great Britain; Technical University of Ostrava, Czech Republic; Technical University of Kosice, Slovakia; X-Art Pro Division G.m.b.H, Austria; and finally, the Fachhochschule Technikum, also in Austria.

I don’t know about you, but I find it rather ironic that the European Union, ostensible guardians of democracy and human rights, have turned for assistance in their surveillance projects to police and spy outfits from the former Soviet bloc, who after all know a thing or two when it comes to monitoring their citizens.

Right up front, York University’s Suresh Manadhar, Ionnis Klapaftis and Shailesh Pandey, the principle authors of the INDECT report, make their intentions clear.

Since “security” as the authors argue, “is becoming a weak point of energy and communications infrastructures, commercial stores, conference centers, airports and sites with high person traffic in general,” they aver that “access control and rapid response to potential dangers are properties that every security system for such environments should have.”

Does INDECT propose building a just and prosperous global society, thus lessening the potential that terrorist killers or other miscreants will exploit a “target rich environment” that may prove deadly for innocent workers who, after all, were the principle victims of the 2004 and 2007 terrorist outrages in Madrid and London? Hardly.

As with their colleagues across the pond, INDECT is hunting for the ever-elusive technological quick-fix, a high-tech magic bullet. One, I might add, that will deliver neither safety nor security but rather, will constrict the democratic space where social justice movements flourish while furthering the reach of unaccountable security agencies.

The document “describes the first deliverable of the work package which gives an overview about the main methodology and description of the XML data corpus schema and describes the methodology for collection, cleaning and unified representation of large textual data from various sources: news reports, weblogs, chat, etc.”

The first order of business “is the study and critical review of the annotation schemes employed so far for the development and evaluation of methods for entity resolution, co-reference resolution and entity attributes identification.”

In other words, how do present technologic capabilities provide police, security agencies and capitalist grifters with the ability to identify who might be speaking to whom and for what purpose. INDECT proposes to introduce “a new annotation scheme that builds upon the strengths of the current-state-of-the-art,” one that “should be extensible and modifiable to the requirements of the project.”

Asserting that “an XML data corpus [can be] extracted from forums and social networks related to specific threats (e.g. hooliganism, terrorism, vandalism, etc.),” the authors claim they will provide “different entity types according to the requirements of the project. The grouping of all references to an entity together. The relationships between different entities” and finally, “the events in which entities participate.”

Why stop there? Why not list the ubiquitous “other” areas of concern to INDECT’s secret state partners? While “hooliganism, terrorism, vandalism, etc.,” may be the ostensible purpose of their “entity attributes identification” project, surely INDECT is well aware that such schemes are just as easily applicable to local citizen groups, socialist and anarchist organizations, or to the innumerable environmental, human rights or consumer campaigners who challenge the dominant free market paradigm of their corporate sponsors.

The authors however, couldn’t be bothered by the sinister applications that may be spawned by their research; indeed, they seem quite proud of it.

“The main achievements of this work” they aver, “allows the identification of several types of entities, groups the same references into one class, while at the same time allows the identification of relationships and events.”

Indeed, the “inclusion of a multi-layered ontology ensures the consistency of the annotation” and will facilitate in the (near) future, “the use of inference mechanisms such as transitivity to allow the development of search engines that go beyond simple keyword search.”

Quite an accomplishment! An enterprising security service or capitalist marketing specialist need only sift through veritable mountains of data available from commercial databases, or mobile calls, tweets, blog posts and internet searches to instantaneously identity “key agitators,” to borrow the FBI’s very 20th century description of political dissidents; individuals who could be detained or “neutralized” should sterner methods be required.

Indeed, a surveillance scheme such as the one INDECT is building could greatly facilitate–and simplify–the already formidable U.S. “Main Core” database that “reportedly collects and stores–without warrants or court orders–the names and detailed data of Americans considered to be threats to national security,” as investigative journalists Tim Shorrock and Christopher Ketchum revealed in two disturbing reports last year.

The scale of “datasets/annotation schemes” exploited by INDECT is truly breathtaking and include: “Automatic Content Extraction” gleaned from “a variety of sources, such as news, broadcast conversations” that identify “relations between entities, and the events in which these participate.”

We next discover what is euphemistically called the “Knowledge Base Population (KBP),” an annotation scheme that “focuses on the identification of entity types of Person (PER), Organization (ORG), and Geo-Political Entity (GPE), Location (LOC), Facility (FAC), Geographical/Social/Political (GPE), Vehicle (VEH) and Weapon (WEA).”

How is this accomplished? Why through an exploitation of open source materials of course!

INDECT researchers readily aver that “a snapshot of Wikipedia infoboxes is used as the original knowledge source. The document collection consists of newswire articles on the order of 1 million. The reference knowledge base includes hundreds of thousands of entities based on articles from an October 2008 dump of English Wikipedia. The annotation scheme in KBP focuses on the identification of entity types of Person (PER), Organization (ORG), and Geo-Political Entity (GPE).”

For what purpose? Mum’s the word as far as INDECT is concerned.

Nothing escapes this panoptic eye. Even popular culture and leisure activities fall under the glare of security agencies and their academic partners in the latest iteration of this truly monstrous privacy-killing scheme. Using the movie rental firm Netflix as a model, INDECT cites the firm’s “100 million ratings from 480 thousand randomly-chosen, anonymous Netflix customers” as “well-suited” to the INDECT surveillance model.

In conclusion, EU surveillance architects propose a “new annotation & knowledge representation scheme” that “is extensible,” one that “allows the addition of new entities, relations, and events, while at the same time avoids duplication and ensures integrity.”

Deploying an ontological methodology that exploits currently available data from open source, driftnet surveillance of news, broadcasts, blog entries and search results, and linkages obtained through a perusal of mobile phone records, credit card purchases, medical records, travel itineraries, etc., INDECT claims that in the near future their research will allow “a search engine to go beyond simple keyword queries by exploiting the semantic information and relations within the ontology.”

And once the scheme is perfected, “the use of expressive logics … becomes an enabler for detecting entity relations on the web.” Or transform it into an “always-on” spy you carry in your pocket or whenever you switch on your computer.

This is how our minders propose to keep us “safe.”

CIA Gets In on the Fun

Not to be outdone, the CIA has entered the lucrative market of social networking surveillance in a big way. In an exclusive published by Wired, we learn that the CIA’s investment arm, In-Q-Tel, “want to read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates–even check out your book reviews on Amazon.”

Investigative journalist Noah Shachtman reveals that In-Q-Tel “is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media. It’s part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using “open source intelligence”–information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.” Wired reported:

Visible crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. (It doesn’t touch closed social networks, like Facebook, at the moment.) Customers get customized, real-time feeds of what’s being said on these sites, based on a series of keywords. (Noah Shachtman, Exclusive: U.S. Spies Buy Stake in Firm that Monitors Blogs, Tweets,” Wired, October 19, 2009)

Although In-Q-Tel spokesperson Donald Tighe told Wired that it wants Visible to monitor foreign social media and give American spooks an “early-warning detection on how issues are playing internationally,” Shachtman points out that “such a tool can also be pointed inward, at domestic bloggers or tweeters.”

According to Wired, the firm already keeps tabs on 2.0 web sites “for Dell, AT&T and Verizon.” And as an added attraction, “Visible is tracking animal-right activists’ online campaigns” against meat processing giant Hormel.

Shachtman reports that “Visible has been trying for nearly a year to break into the government field.” And why wouldn’t they, considering that the heimat security and even spookier black world of the U.S. “intelligence community,” is a veritable cash-cow for enterprising corporations eager to do the state’s bidding.

In 2008 Wired reports, Visible “teamed-up” with the Washington, DC-based consulting firm “Concepts & Strategies, which has handled media monitoring and translation services for U.S. Strategic Command and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others.”

According to a blurb on the firm’s web site they are in hot-pursuit of “social media engagement specialists” with Defense Department experience and “a high proficiency in Arabic, Farsi, French, Urdu or Russian.” Wired reports that Concepts & Strategies “is also looking for an ‘information system security engineer’ who already has a ‘Top Secret SCI [Sensitive Compartmentalized Information] with NSA Full Scope Polygraph’ security clearance.”

In such an environment, nothing escapes the secret state’s lens. Shachtman reveals that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) “maintains an Open Source Center, which combs publicly available information, including web 2.0 sites.”

In 2007, the Center’s director, Doug Naquin, “told an audience of intelligence professionals” that “‘we’re looking now at YouTube, which carries some unique and honest-to-goodness intelligence…. We have groups looking at what they call ‘citizens media’: people taking pictures with their cell phones and posting them on the internet. Then there’s social media, phenomena like MySpace and blogs’.”

But as Steven Aftergood, who maintains the Secrecy News web site for the Federation of American Scientists told Wired, “even if information is openly gathered by intelligence agencies it would still be problematic if it were used for unauthorized domestic investigations or operations. Intelligence agencies or employees might be tempted to use the tools at their disposal to compile information on political figures, critics, journalists or others, and to exploit such information for political advantage. That is not permissible even if all of the information in question is technically ‘open source’.”

But as we have seen across the decades, from COINTELPRO to Operation CHAOS, and from Pentagon media manipulation during the run-up to the Iraq war through driftnet warrantless wiretapping of Americans’ electronic communications, the secret state is a law unto itself, a self-perpetuating bureaucracy that thrives on duplicity, fear and cold, hard cash.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, an independent research and media group of writers, scholars, journalists and activists based in Montreal, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily and Pacific Free Press. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press. Read other articles by Tom, or visit Tom's website.

¿Qué Sentido Tiene: "Primero Liquídense y Después Veremos"?

Enrique Dussel

La Jornada

Esta frase entre comillas aparece en primera página de La Jornada (17/10/09). Nuevamente queremos reflexionar sobre lo que alegremente se dice pero frecuentemente no se tiene conciencia del contenido. En efecto, se dice: "primero liquídense". El político expresó claramente que los miembros del SME deben aceptar que, antes que nada, han dejado de ser empleados de una LFC ya inexistente, y por ello, antes de toda negociación, deben ir a pedir adonde corresponda lo que el derecho vigente estipula en el caso del término de una relación de trabajo. Claro que alguien podría entender las dos palabras en otro sentido: "Primero suicídense", ya que "liquidar" a una persona es igualmente asesinarla, matarla; y si es reflexivo el verbo, el matarse a sí mismo es un suicidio. Y lo que acontece es que la expresión, en los hechos, significa simultáneamente ambas cosas, porque un empleado de una empresa que se intenta disolver, y miembro del sindicato de larga tradición democrática (que es la gran excepción entre todo el sindicalismo charro) de esa empresa, al aceptar la retribución por despido da su acuerdo al acto cumplido por el Estado en la desaparición de su fuente de trabajo. El que acepta la "liquidación" confirma la "liquidación" de la empresa y de sí mismo como empleado: "se liquida", es decir, firma su defunción como obrero y sindicalista.

Esto nos hace pensar en el pretendido diálogo del presidente de facto de Honduras con el presidente legítimo, que como condición del diálogo impone la manera unilateral de que el presidente Zelaya no sea reincorporado en el ejercicio del poder. Es decir, deja fuera del diálogo, de la discusión, el contenido, la materia misma del pretendido diálogo. Es como si dos jóvenes que se dicen necesitados de discutir sobre la posibilidad de su matrimonio, se enfrentara una parte con el supuesto de que la otra parte presenta como condición de la discusión que el otro (o la otra parte) se comprometa primero a contraer matrimonio. Esa condición al diálogo declara absurdo el diálogo mismo. Es un enunciado irracional.

Repitiendo. Si se intenta dialogar sobre el hecho de la extinción de LFC, y por lo tanto del SME, es irracional, o es la negación misma de toda negociación posible, imponer esa extinción como condición de la discusión. El "después veremos" suena a que, en verdad, lo a discutir ya se ha impuesto por la fuerza como condición, y el efecto de esa condición, previa al diálogo, es que deben sufrir los obreros sindicalizados los efectos negativos del suicidio de la manera más benigna posible. Es decir, que el entierro se haga con más o menos flores, que el cajón del muerto sea de primera o segunda, y a quiénes se invita al sepelio. Es simplemente absurdo, o –y es lo más grave– se juega con la palabra "diálogo" para encubrir simplemente la falta de respeto a la otra parte, que intenta (porque le va la vida en la discusión) un auténtico diálogo con validez para las dos partes.

¿Qué es el diálogo, y cómo se alcanza la validez del mismo –que en política justifica la legitimidad de una decisión–? Si se tiene auténtica intención de alcanzar una decisión legítima fruto del diálogo, democrática, no pueden usarse medidas de fuerza, porque la violencia (diría aún J. Habermas) destruye toda posibilidad de un acuerdo racional entre seres humanos libres y responsables. El uso de la violencia para llegar a realizar una decisión unilateral nunca tendrá validez, es decir legitimidad, o, de otra manera, convicción subjetiva plena por parte de todos los involucrados. La llamada democracia no es sino un sistema de legitimación donde se articula el principio subjetivo de legitimidad (la convicción de que los otros son iguales y que debe usarse la razón para llegar a los acuerdos) con las instituciones creadas por la participación simétrica de los ciudadanos que por ello aceptan los dictados objetivos de la autoridad (representantes delegados en el ejercicio del poder de los mismos ciudadanos, que son los únicos soberanos). Es decir, es un sistema de legitimación que tiene condiciones subjetivas y objetivas. Sin legitimidad el Estado pierde el ejercicio efectivo del poder, se divide y antagoniza, se debilita. La mera legalidad (cumplimiento de una ley que puede ser injusta y aplicada por un juez que igualmente puede estar corrompido) no tiene ni la dignidad ni la importancia de la legitimidad. La legitimidad articula y unifica la convicción subjetiva del ciudadano con las instituciones objetivas que encauzan la realización de las acciones acordadas. La mera legalidad puede ser fría, injusta, formalista. Hidalgo fue fusilado bajo el mandato de las Leyes de los Reynos de las Indias, fue legal, pero al mismo tiempo fue un acto ilegítimo a los ojos de los patriotas y futuros mexicanos.

"Primero liquídense" revela un acto violento, con intervención de la fuerza pública que debe ejercerse, con el acuerdo de los ciudadanos, contra los que se oponen a la ley (tal como los que no pagan impuestos de sus gigantescas ganancias, de los criminales, de los pederastas, etcétera), y no contra los movimientos sociales que luchan dentro de la ley (y con legitimidad) en favor de la vida de los afectados. El uso de la violencia contra el propio pueblo necesitado, empobrecido, es un ejercicio ilegítimo de la violencia del Estado, en cuyo caso su monopolio es tiranía, despotismo antidemocrático.

El "después veremos" suena al diálogo de los franciscanos con los sabios aztecas (tlamatinime) en 1525 en la recién tomada y semidestruida México-Tenochtitlán. Una vez destruidos los ejércitos aztecas, derrotada su elite guerrera y conquistados, los franciscanos comenzaron un "diálogo" con los sabios originarios. Poco duró el dicho diálogo; "después" simplemente organizaron el adoctrinamiento sin respeto alguno por sus antiguas tradiciones. Dicho "diálogo" sólo pretendió encubrir la mala conciencia de los españoles, dándole aspecto de buena. Era un acto hipócrita ante los vencidos.

Lo que acontece es que el poco de sindicalismo democrático que hay en México luchará contra la violencia del Estado (porque el monopolio de la coacción legítima del Estado cuando va contra los justos requerimientos de su propio pueblo se transforma en violencia de Estado, simplemente, es manifestación de su fetichismo autorreferente).2

"Primero liquídense, después veremos" es la expresión, fría, indiferente e insensible ante el dolor de 44 mil familias, que la "razón de Estado" (a favor de muy pocos), que para darse tiempo propone un pretendido diálogo que la violencia negó desde su origen. El diálogo debió cumplirse antes de la decisión; es decir, debió pensarse: "Primero dialoguemos, y después veremos". Lo contrario envenena la conciencia del reprimido, oprimido, que se torna en resentimiento que explota en el estado de rebelión, o en lucha fratricida promovida por la decisión antidemocrática que pudo evitarse. La violencia de Estado es mala consejera, y además la historia (magistra vitae) juzga duramente a los que tienen "corazón de piedra" –según la tradición azteca–. Mal parados quedarán en la Memoria del pueblo. En los textos de las pirámides egipcias, los nombres de muchos faraones (siempre envueltos en un círculo, manifestando su divinidad) y sus rostros en las representaciones fueron picados, borrados de las piedras, a punto que de algunos es difícil encontrar testimonios. Fueron aquellos repudiados por la tal Memoria.

1 Filósofo

2 Véase mi obra 20 tesis de política.

Obama's Dirty War on Immigrants

Enforcement First on the Border



Under Bush, immigrant communities lived in a constant state of fear — terrorized by “Homeland Security” agents arresting anyone who appeared Latino and lacked ID. Families were separated, children left parentless, property abandoned, and long-lasting relationships severed.

This scenario — highly reminiscent of the NAZI Gestapo — has changed only slightly under Obama. Some say for the worst. Obama’s campaign promise of undoing Bush’s immigration strategy was, like nearly every other promise he’s made, a blatant lie. Instead, he’s adopted the “enforcement first” immigration approach -- the style of John McCain that Obama once mocked.

The Obama Administration is taking immigration policies created under Bush and expanding them, much like he’s done with Bush’s war policies, bank bailouts, civil right restrictions (the Patriot Act, torture, unlimited/unchallengeable imprisonment, etc.).

Obama’s head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, admits: “We are expanding enforcement, but I think in the right way.” In this case the “right way” is Bush’s way, though modified for public consumption.

While ending the large, media-attracting factory raids that Bush endorsed, Obama is intensifying “…a shift in federal law enforcement that began under George W. Bush and now has taken a particularly callous turn under President Obama.” (Los Angles Times, Oct 3, 2009).
The Los Angles Times refers specifically to the recent firing of 1,800 mostly immigrant workers in Los Angeles, who suffered the same fate as thousands of others around the country victimized by the Obama administration.

Companies that are suspected of hiring immigrants are targeted and closely monitored, “…but instead of concluding with a raid, Immigration and Customs Enforcement simply compels the employers to fire anybody whose papers aren't in order under pain of ruinous civil penalties.” The Los Angles Times concluded, “…the most appalling aspect of the Obama administration's wretched conduct of this affair is its studied indifference to the fate of the men and women it has thrown out of work.”

Well said.

When immigrants are fired from their jobs, they receive no unemployment insurance. Thus, the heavy burden of being jobless during a severe recession is multiplied, and families who’ve lived in the U.S. for years suffer terribly. Obama’s merciless attitude to immigrants was displayed nationally when he proudly declared that, under his health care plan, “illegal immigrants will not qualify.” When asked later about the health care of immigrant children, Obama seemed to show a moment of compassion. Exceptions may be granted, he said, "partly because if you've got children who may be here illegally but are still in playgrounds or at schools, and potentially are passing on illnesses and communicable diseases, that aren't getting vaccinated, that I think is a situation where you may have to make an exception." The President is astonishingly clear: caring for the basic well-being of immigrants or their children is of zero concern.

This coldness is reflected in all aspects of Obama’s immigration approach — programs born from the Bush administration. The New York Times explains:

“… Ms. Napolitano has expanded a program that runs immigration checks on every person booked into local jails in some cities. And she recently announced the expansion of another program…that allows for cooperation between federal immigration agents and state and local police agencies.” (Oct. 18, 2009).

The first policy means that any immigrant that lands in jail for whatever reason faces potential deportation. And although the law was created by Bush to deal with immigrants who committed “serious crimes,” Latino communities have long known this claim to be a fraud. Officers instead arrest immigrants on minor or manufactured charges and alter their lives forever.

The second mentioned program will greatly increase these injustices. Before Bush, immigration laws were enforced by the nationally-run immigration department, with the rationale being that local police were meant to protect and serve communities. Now, local police are being enlisted to hunt down immigrants, most of whom are no danger to anybody and productive members of their communities.

The dangerous result is that immigrant and Latino families will be pushed further into society’s shadows: they will be less willing to call police if they witness or fall victim to serious crimes, suffer from domestic violence, or are victims of hate crimes. If they are not paid by their employer — a very regular occurrence — no one will be held accountable.

These types of crimes will be greatly encouraged with Obama’s new policy, alongside another form of abuse. Many Latino communities have become familiar with police picking up suspected immigrants off the street and sending them to deportation facilities — with no crime committed. Knowing that these racial profiling abuses would likely increase with local police becoming immigration enforcers, the Obama Administration gave lip-service to the increased “oversight” of the expanded policy, but little action is likely to follow, and civil rights violations will almost certainly increase.

Another Bush policy being expanded under Obama is the controversial E-verify system, which gives governmental access to employers' employment records, with the intention of verifying the legitimate documents of employees. Aside from the above-mentioned hardships this is already creating for thousands of families, the system is accused of being highly dysfunctional and error-ridden, like its predecessor the “no match" letter.

"No match" letters were mailed to workers and employers alike to notify them that a worker’s social security number didn’t match — implying that the worker was using a fake number to gain employment. The "no match" system was recently scrapped, likely due to the enormous errors being committed and consequent outcry (this writer can personally attest that the system was flawed, since my Caucasian, Indiana-born domestic partner had such a letter addressed to her).

These policies of Obama’s represent a drastic swerving to the right over immigration. But he’s just following the Democratic Party line, itself becoming hysterically anti-immigrant. High ranking Democrat Charles Schumer is leading the Democrat offensive, helping create a highly punitive “immigration reform” bill that includes Bush-era border militarization.

So far, this bill consists only of “general principles" -- polices agreed upon to appease the section of big business that benefits from immigrant labor. Highly skilled immigrants will be favored, lower skilled deported; some immigrants will be allowed to stay and work, while others are hunted down like animals. This divide and conquer strategy has already won over some immigrant and labor groups, who wrongly view the bill as “a step in the right direction.” The Democrats have spoken at length about their immigration philosophy; they want to provide corporations with sufficient cheap labor while demonizing “undesirable” immigrants.

Why the right turn? Since having taken power of both Congress and the Presidency, the Democrats have proven to be a very proficient tool for the corporate elite, following much of the same polices created by Bush.

The enormous public anger over these policies creates in the Democrats an urgent need for distraction. Rather than focus on the super-rich that are profiting from the recession and the politicians feeding them trillions in tax dollars, the Democrats would rather have our scorn funneled toward society’s most vulnerable population.

Always left out in the immigration discussion is why immigrants enter the U.S. at all. U.S. corporate-controlled foreign policy — under NAFTA and CAFTA — forced cheaply produced U.S. goods into the markets of poor countries to the south. Impoverished farmers and others were forced out of their country (where they would rather have stayed) to feed themselves and their families. U.S. corporations took further advantage of the situation by paying slave wages across the border and by paying immigrants in the U.S. below-poverty wages with no benefits. Speaking out against these injustices equals deportation.

Consequently, wages for both U.S. and Latin American workers are lowered by this divide and conquer tactic. Scapegoating immigrants is absolutely crucial to this strategy working.

Therefore, the only progressive solution to immigration is to unite all workers against the planned corporate offensive: CAFTA and NAFTA must be eliminated, and all workers in the U.S. must be given not only equal rights, but a livable wage. To achieve this, unions must fight harder to organize not only immigrants, but the millions of other workers who have little or no rights on the job. By doing so, corporations will be unable to exploit any worker so as to lower the wages of all workers. These lofty goals would be easier to accomplish if immigrant and labor groups diverted their energy and resources away from the Democratic Party, so that they could be used instead for real social change.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action. He can be reached at


Indígenas de Panamá Exigen Derogar los Contratos Mineros de las Multinacionales


Vítores y aplausos recibieron el 6 de octubre al llegar a la capital, los 150 indígenas que durante 19 días marcharon 370 kilómetros desde San Félix al distrito de Panamá. El punto culminante de la jornada fue su ingreso a la Asamblea Nacional de Diputados, donde fueron acompañados por cerca de mil simpatizantes.

Enarbolando la bandera panameña y la bandera del pueblo Ngöbe, los organizadores de esta caminata, Celio Guerra y Alberto Montezuma, lideraban la caminata. La manifestación coincidió con el 50 aniversario de la Marcha del Hambre y la Desesperación organizada por la población de una provincia de Panamá en 1959.

La dirigencia Ngöbe denunció que están siendo afectados por las concesiones mineras, proyectos hidroeléctricos y desarrollos turísticos. Al llegar a la Asamblea, los indígenas fueron recibidos por la diputada de la comarca Ngöbe Buglé, Crescencia Prado, y el ministro Guillermo Ferrufino.

En la Asamblea se les otorgó cortesía de sala, donde exigieron la derogación de todos los contratos de concesión que provocan expropiación de tierras y desalojos masivos de comunidades por parte de empresas trasnacionales.

El grupo de manifestantes señaló que las empresas transnacionales a las que se les adjudican dichos contratos mineros e hidroeléctricos ignoran las leyes comarcales y devastan la vegetación y la riqueza natural de las tierras que ocupan hace 500 años.

Pliego de peticiones:

* Derogación del contrato de concesión en cerro Petaquilla y cerro Chorcha.
* Derogación de la resolución de concesión minera en cerro Colorado, cerro Pelado, cerro Quema y cerro Tolica.
* Paralización de los proyectos de represa en río Fonseca, río Guaribiara, El Norteño y río Cobre y de todos los que originan desalojos forzados.
* Eliminación de concesiones de turismo residencial que afectan la cultura de las comunidades indígenas. Anulación de los contratos para la instalación de 54 torres eólicas.
* Indemnización de las personas desalojadas producto de la puesta en ejecución de los actuales proyectos mineros e hidroeléctricos.
* Cese de hostigamiento de terratenientes y de capataces de empresas transnacionales contra campesinos e indígenas que rechazan sus métodos de destrucción del medioambiente.

Opponent says Hopi Tribal Council may have a hidden Agenda

By Carol Berry

Indian Country Today

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. – Accusing environmentalists of having an anti-Hopi agenda is a divisive “manufactured lie” by a pro-Peabody Western Coal Company tribal council, said a longstanding advocate for tribal control of Black Mesa, the site of massive strip mining operations.

In fact, the Hopi Tribal Council itself may have a hidden agenda to convert two power plants – one operating, and one currently closed – under clean-coal technology, using an expanded coal mining permit to attract investors, he said.

Vernon Masayesva, 70, a former Hopi tribal chairman, said the present tribal council’s action banning environmental groups from tribal lands is based on a lie that the groups are trying to shut down coal mining operations on the mesa in northern Arizona, noting, “We have never said that.”

Masayesva, who founded the Black Mesa Trust about a decade ago, said the Hopi people “are not out to stop the mining,” but want a complete and open analysis of the environmental and other effects of a pending lease expansion by Peabody Western Coal Co. on 100 square miles of Hopi and Navajo lands.

The Hopi Tribal Council, under fire as to its legitimacy in bitter political infighting, ousted major Native and non-Native environmental groups and local supporting organizations from Hopi tribal lands in late September, declaring them enemies of the Hopi economy who are out to “deprive the tribe of markets for its coal resources.”

In fact, the council’s unspoken agenda may be to join Peabody and Salt River Project representatives, who now own or have operated the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona and defunct Mohave Generating Station in Nevada, to convert one or both into carbon capture and sequestration – “clean-coal-burning” – plants “in order to take advantage of President Obama’s endorsement of clean coal” and some $80 million in related stimulus funds, he said.

“Peabody is not bringing this out into the open, and they may have other plans,” he said. “We want an end to this EIS (Black Mesa Project Environmental Impact Statement) process and start another one, and This time, Peabody, you tell us what the project is that justifies the EIS.”

OSM in 2008 approved an extended permit allowing the renewed mining of about 5,590 acres of remaining coal at Black Mesa on Hopi and Navajo lands. The mining complex includes Kayenta Mine, which supplies coal to the Navajo station and Black Mesa Mine, which supplied Mohave.

The potential millions of tons more coal adds value to Peabody’s portfolio and makes its ventures more attractive to investors, Masayesva said.

“What they’re trying to do with this EIS is to get the right to develop all the coal on Black Mesa by incorporating Black Mesa (Mine) into Kayenta’s (life-of-mine permit),” he said. “It’s deceptive, and it should end – this is our main argument.” The permit was rushed through before former President George Bush left office, he said.

“If they want to reopen Mojave and Navajo under auspices of a clean-coal technology, why don’t they spell it out?

“We have never said to shut down mining, but mining has to be consistent with instructions from our ancestors from thousands of years ago when they were told that within the cupped hand of Black Mesa there was wealth. But they had to meet three conditions – it had to be developed at the right time, in the right way, for the right purposes.

“Peabody has gone against that from the very beginning,” he said, asserting the company “wasted 45 billion gallons of pristine aquifer water for coal slurry (to Mojave Power Plant) before the slurry was shut down.” He is concerned that potential use of the N-Aquifer under present plans remains ambiguous.

From a dollars-and-cents point of view, the life-of-mine permit is a binding agreement between Peabody and the secretary of the Interior to commit Hopi and Navajo coal and water assets to Peabody, with Interior acting as trustee through OSM, which should “analyze impacts from a trustee point of view,” he said.

Although OSM has both regulatory and trustee functions, the agency cannot assume the latter role “unless they’re mandated to do trust responsibility – but they’re only wearing a regulatory hat and by doing that, they treat Navajo and Hopi trust lands as if they’re no different than West Virginia.”

At a rate of only three to five percent, possessory and business taxes would yield the Hopi Tribe “hundreds of millions” instead of present royalties, which are “just pocket change” by comparison, he said. Although the tribe has the constitutional authority to levy taxes, the present council is choosing not to do so, he added.

OSM should be required to do another analysis, taking into account and balancing the potential taxes against present operations for the “true value of the mine,” he said.

Damage has been done to areas on Black Mesa where Hopi people lived and were buried generations ago, and the Fire and Coyote Clans, among their direct descendents, believe the sites should be protected, he said.

To be Hopi “is to be a conservationist, a caretaker and a steward of planet earth. So, by implication, the council has banned all Hopi people from their land,” he concluded.

“To all the members of organizations banned from Hopi I say, ‘Come and visit me.’ I, for one, will not have my civil rights violated.”