10.25.2016 In Depth Look

chile pinochet-Victor_Jara_NichaLATIN AMERICA’S UNDEAD PAST INELUCTABLY RULES THE PRESENT

On the date that represented a temporary triumph for Chilean workers and for real social democracy in South America, the date on which a plurality of Chile’s voters put Salvador Allende in the President’s Palace, for readers today a speech, which that faithful servant delivered to the General Assembly of the United Nations just over two years hence, a presentation that forthrightly and incisively laid the basis for analyzing and resisting the corruption and plunder of international finance capital and the transnational behemoths that serve as the substrate for the militarism, interventionism, dirty tricks, and exceptionalist arrogance that characterize the hegemonistic foreign policies of Uncle Sam, a prototypical devolution to violence and terror that has so typified imperial Washington’s relations with the Spanish-speaking Western Hemisphere that no other region or place has surpassed the proportion of depredation and mayhem and murder that has transpired there, a dynamic that Allende proved in another articulation, his “Final Speech,” delivered by radio to Chilenos as his fascist killers–backed by corporate stooges and Capitalism’s Indispensable Ally in Langley–closed in for the coup de grace—words of a brilliant socialist, fierce and yet gentle and, perhaps too much, non-violent, whose efforts to assist in effectuating a peaceful revolution contrasted with the more successful strategy that transpired in Cuba and which primed the U.S. neocolonial colossus to be ready to pounce, like a spring-loaded beast of fury and death, on any outbreak of revolutionary or even reformist fervor elsewhere in the Hemisphere, an eventuality, on the one hand, that TeleSur contextualizes in a recent essay that examines the legacy and underlying political commitment that Che Guevara actually demonstrated in his life and, on the other hand, that the Electronic Frontier Foundation investigates in a combination of historical and contemporary analysis of the technologies of surveillance and intrusion that have occurred, from well before Operation Condor to the day before yesterday in Plan Colombia or Argentina or Brazil; recollections of past and views of the present that parallel several recent briefings about Colombian voters’ narrow rejection of the peace deal, negotiated in Havana, between Bogota and the revolutionary fighters of Fuerzas Armadas Revolutionario de Colombia (FARC), outnumbered almost a hundred to one by the U.S.-trained-and-financed military behemoth that dominates the Northern flank of South America and oversees the approach to the Panama Canal that crosses the isthmus on territory that Colombians once owned, till a U.S.-backed rebellion ‘created’ a new and independent Panama that would do what the Army Corps

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of engineers wanted, a historical substructure that helps to account  for the ‘rejection’ of peace and the implicit ‘support’ for the bloody flux of ‘Plan Colombia,’ a situation, moreover, that honest accounting such as that in a new Consortium News essay must recognize stems in no small part from U.S.-orchestrated, and funded, P.R. campaigns against the national referendum, itself a template for social conflict and negotiation that takes place in an arena where the ‘King-of-the-No-Votes,’ former President and reactionary puppet Alvaro Uribe, is helping out his brother , who is facing investigation and possible criminal and civil consequences for being a part of rural fascist death squads in defense of latifundian upper class property-holders and their corporate benefactors, a maelstrom of corruption and venality and exploitation and brutality, in other words, that a political delving would reveal, a la the work of World Socialist Website, had roots that had flourished in a soil of plutocracy and imperial impunity, factors that had reached a pinnacle, perhaps, in the benighted jungles and mountains of Gran Colombia itself; a percolating volcano more or less at the center of a region that, however miraculously, has wrested control of some of its own doings from Washington in recent decades, as a report from The Conversation demonstrate in relation to drug policies of the past two years in Bolivia, with reduced use and production of Coca via means of peaceful protocols that aimed at social justice, and as a new article  from Venezuela Analysis shows conclusively when it details criticism by staunch Caracas politicos of new Hillary Clinton ads that have the temerity and ignorance to compare Donald Trump

CC BY-NC-ND by izahorsky
CC BY-NC-ND by izahorsky

to Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro; a complicated skein of history and political economy and empire’s predatory proclivities that scrappy scribes and stalwart citizens, if they value anything that even roughly resembles peace and social justice and they decry anything that moves congruently with mass murder and manipulated fear and loathing, ought to ponder fulsomely and wonder about relentlessly, since the seeds of what we say we fear and detest lie precisely in these scenes of manipulated turmoil and tawdry barbarity, as an account from JustMeans clarifies as part of a series about the evolution and meaning of 9/11 and the so-called ‘War on Terror,’ the upshot of which is that what goes around comes around and the past is not only not dead, but it is also not even dead: “I come from Chile, a small country but one where today any citizen is free to express himself as he so desires.  A country of unlimited cultural, religious and ideological tolerance and where there is no room for racial discrimination.  A country with its working class united in a single trade union organization, where universal and secret suffrage is the vehicle of determination of a multiparty regime, with a Parliament that has been operating constantly since it was created 160 years ago; where the courts of justice are independent of the executive and where the constitution has only been changed once since 1833, and has almost always been in effect.  A country where public life is organized in civilian institutions and where the armed forces are of a proven professional background and deep democratic spirit.  A country with a population of almost 10,000,000 people that in one generation has had two first-place Nobel Prize winners in literature, Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda, both children of simple workers.  In my country, history, land and man are united in a great national feeling.jara-etc chile protest
But Chile is also a country whose retarded economy has been subjected and even alienated to foreign capitalists firms, resulting in a foreign debt of more than US $4,000 million whose yearly services represent more than 30 per cent of the value of the country’s exports; whose economy is extremely sensitive to the external situation, suffering from chronic stagnation and inflation; and where millions of people have been forced to live amidst conditions of exploitation and misery, of open or concealed unemployment.  (In response to this oppression, Chilenos have embarked on a revolutionary and democratic path to reform and popular power; to this the reaction of banks and other fiscal agents has been horror and resistance; to this multinational companies have responded with fear and hatred and corruption and division).
(As a professional economist and policy expert), (a)t the third U(nited) N(ations) C(onference on) T (rade) A(nd) D(evelopment) I was able to discuss the phenomenon of the transnational corporations.  I mentioned the great growth in their economic power, political influence and corrupting action.  That is the reason for the alarm with which world opinion should react in the face of a reality of this kind.  The power of these corporations is so great that it goes beyond all borders.  The foreign investments of US companies alone reached US $32,000 million.  Between 1950 and 1970 they grew at a rate of 10 per cent a year, while that nation’s exports only increased by 5 per cent . They make huge profits and drain off tremendous resources from the developing countries.
In just one year, these firms withdrew profits from the Third World that represented net transfers in their favour of US $1,743 million: US $1,013 million from Latin America; US $280 million from Africa; US $376 million from the Far East; and US $74 million from the Middle East.  Their influence and their radius of action are upsetting the traditional trade practices of technological transfer among states, the transmission of resources among nations and labour relations.  We are faced by a direct confrontation between the large transnational corporations and the states.  The corporations are interfering in the fundamental political, economic and military decisions of the states.  The corporations are global organizations that do not depend on any state and whose activities are not controlled by, nor are they accountable to any parliament or any other institution representative of the collective interest.  In short, all the world political structure is being undermined.  The dealer’s don’t have a country.  The place where they may be does not constitute any kind of link; the only thing they are interested in is where they make profits.  This is not something I say; they are Jefferson’s words.money
The large transnational firms are prejudicial to the genuine interests of the developing countries and their dominating and uncontrolled action is also carried out in the industrialized countries, where they are based.  This has recently been denounced in Europe and in the United States and resulted in a US Senate investigation.  The developed nations are just as threatened by this danger as the underdeveloped ones.  It is a phenomenon that has already given rise to the growing mobilization of organized workers including the large trade union organizations that exist in the world.  Once again the action of the international solidarity of workers must face a common enemy: imperialism.  In the main, it was those acts that led the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations–following the denunciation made by Chile–to unanimously approve, last July, a resolution that called for a group of world figures to meet and study the effects and function of transnational corporations in the process of development, especially in the developing countries, and their repercussions on international relations, and present recommendations for appropriate international action.

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CC BY by ToGa Wanderings

Ours is not an isolated or a unique problem.  It is the local expression of a reality that overwhelms us, a reality that covers Latin America and the Third World.  In varying degrees of intensity, with unique features, all the peripheral countries are threatened by something similar.  The spokesman for the African group at the Trade and Development Board a few weeks ago announced the position of those countries towards the denunciation made by Chile of Kennecott’s aggression, reporting that his group fully supported Chile, because it was a problem which did not affect only one nation but, potentially, all of the developing world.  These words have great value, because they represent the recognition of an entire continent that through the Chilean case, a new stage in the battle between imperialism and the weak countries of the Third World is being waged.”—Marxists.Org

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CC BY-SA by Elvert Barnes
        “(Leaving behind a life of privilege, not to mention the comfort of being a medical doctor, Che embraced the Cuban Revolution.  As one of its most effective thinkers and actors both before and after 1959, in following) years, Guevara took posts as the director of the Industrialization program of the National Agrarian Reform Institute, INRA, head of the National Bank of Cuba, and later when the INRA became the Ministry of Industry, Guevara was appointed its minister.  It was in this role, (Helen) Yaffe explained(having interviewed many who worked with him in her research as a London School of Economics professor), that the guerrilla-leader-turned-economist carried out his Marxist policies, writing extensively about them, and leading by example in these actions.

‘If you’re in a position of power, what practical policies can you develop that will affect how people think about their role in society?’ said Yaffe, of Guevara’s central focus, which was getting the working class to develop a consciousness such that people worked for the benefit of society and from that received their reward, as opposed to working for a material gain.  Yaffe explained Guevara was constantly looking for solutions to stop the alienation workers felt from their labor.  And it seems that this idea still reverberates in Cuba, and those in solidarity with the island today.che guevara socialist communist cuba
As a teenager in the mid-1990s, the LSE professor participated in what was the first brigade of the solidarity campaign, ‘Rock Around the Blockade’ to Cuba from London, where she met other young people volunteering their labor in agriculture camps.  When she probed as to why they were participating, the young Cubans told her, ‘Our country needs us.  We need to defend the revolution and socialism.’  The brigades continue today, with different groups organizing different brigades ever since the first years of the Revolution.  Drew Garvie, secretary general of the Young Communist League, YCL, in Canada, who participated in one such brigade last year, told teleSUR how the movement has captured Che’s legacy.

As the living standards of Cubans from before to after the Revolution rose, the U.S. blockade on the country in the wake of the Cold War posed a significant challenge.  ‘He never blamed the blockade,’ Yaffe pressed, stating that his endeavor to stray from being dependent on the Soviet Union during this era was certainly frustrated by the blockade, but perhaps helped Guevara’s aims instead. ‘The blockade probably pushed him to develop a planned economy much quicker.’  Not afraid to be openly critical of the Soviet Union, as indicative in his 1967 “Message to the Tricontinental,” he was not of the opinion that Cuba should just copy the Soviet system. …
(He emphasized as most crucial Pan-Latin solidarity and anti-imperialism).  Speaking on this facet of Guevara’s thoughts, (Eren Cervantes, an Indio Mexican thinker and organizer), said, ‘(Che) was white.  These points of privilege stick out to me as an Indigenous woman.’  While she is reluctant to glorify him, as she has written previously about, a lot of his principles resonate with her still today, especially his ideas of ‘freedom beyond neoliberalism.’  As Latin America faces two tides of movement towards the left, as well as the right, Guevara’s work in Cuba still inspires the left to advance in liberation struggles.

By Jialiang Gao www.peace-on-earth.org
By Jialiang Gao www.peace-on-earth.org

‘There have been enormous advances towards sovereignty and democracy across Latin America, that I’m sure Che would have been very supportive of.  However there has also been a reaction, led by the U.S. government and the capitalist class that is tied to imperialism in Latin America,’ (Drew) Gravie, (the Secretary-General of Canada’s Young Communist League), said.  ‘We now see a dangerous offensive taking place with the shock treatment that Argentina is going through under Macri, the coup against Dilma in Brazil and what is looking more and more like another coup attempt developing in Venezuela.  Che’s goals are perhaps closer to being realized today, but there are also great dangers.'”—TeleSur

        “(Working with multiple partners and from a deeply engaged point of view that examined both present and past), EFF took that research and other recent papers, and produced a broader report that compares surveillance laws and practices in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Uruguay.  Moreover, together with Derechos Digitales, we published a legal analysis for the 13 Necessary and Proportionate Principles, explaining the legal and conceptual basis of each of the Principles in light of the inter-american human rights standards.  Finally, we published Who Can Spy On Us? A Visual Guide of the state of communications surveillance in Latin America. …
In December 1992, following a hastily-drawn sketch of a map given to him by a whistleblower, the Paraguayan lawyer Martin Almada drove to an obscure police station in the suburb of Lambaré, near Asunción.  Behind the police offices, in a run-down office building, he discovered a cache of 700,000 documents, piled nearly to the ceiling.  This was the ‘Terror Archive,’ an almost complete record of the interrogations, torture, and surveillance (and murder) conducted by the Paraguayan military dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner.  The files reported details of ‘Operation Condor,’ a clandestine program between the military dictatorships in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Brazil between the 1970s and 1980s.  The military governments of those nations agreed to cooperate in sending teams into other countries to track, monitor, and kill their political opponents.  The files listed more than 50,000 deaths and 400,000 political prisoners throughout Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela.

Damian/cc/flickr
Damian/cc/flickr

Stroessner’s secret police used informants, telephoto cameras, and wiretaps to build a paper database on everyone that was viewed as a threat, plus their friends and associates.  The Terror Archive shows how far a country’s government might sink when unchecked by judicial authorities, public oversight bodies, and the knowledge of the general public. …A modern Operation Condor would have far more powerful tools at hand than just ring-binders, cameras, and wiretapped phones.  Today’s digital surveillance technology leaves the techniques documented in the Terror Archive in the dust. …When new surveillance or cyber-security laws are passed, they are written (to) paper over existing practice, or to widen existing powers—such as data retention laws that force phone and Internet companies to log and retain even more data for state use.   Each of these new powers is a ticking time-bomb, waiting for abuse. …
Unfortunately, legislators and judges within Latin America and beyond have little insight into how existing surveillance law is flawed or how it might be fixed.  To assist in that imposing task, EFF has released ‘Unblinking Eyes: The State of Communications Surveillance in Latin America.’  For over a year, we have worked with partner organizations across Latin America (Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, Fundación Karisma, TEDIC, Hiperderecho, Centro de Estudios en Libertad de Expresión y Acceso a la Información,  Derechos Digitales, InternetLab, Fundación Acceso) to shed a light on the current state of surveillance in the region both in law and in practice.  We’ve carefully documented existing laws in 13 countries, and gathered evidence of the misapplication of those laws.  Our aim is to understand the legal situation in each country, and contrast them with existing human rights standards.  For this work, we analyzed publicly available laws and practices in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay, and the United States and published individual reports documenting the state of communications surveillance in each of these countries.  Then, we took that research and produced a broader report that compares surveillance laws and practices throughout the entire region.  Our project was not limited to legal research, however.  We mixed our legal and policy work with on-site training throughout the region for digital rights activists, traditional human rights lawyers, investigative journalists, activists, and policy makers.”—Electronic Frontier Foundation

        “According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Colombia’s profit rate for foreign direct investments (FDI) fell from a 12 percent average between 2010 and 2014 to 4 percent in 2015, particularly because of the fall in commodity prices.  Total FDI inflows fell 26 percent last year.  High inflation has led to decreasing real salaries this year.  Unemployment has increased and public debt is now approaching 45% of GDP, while tax income is falling for a second year in a row.credit card debt money monopoly
In this context, the peace accords become a political cover for austerity, militarism and a sharp worsening of the social crisis in the country, all signs of political and economic weakness.  The Santos administration was not constitutionally required to hold a referendum, but calculated that a ‘yes’ vote would provide the government with the political legitimacy required to carry out stronger social cuts and militarization.

(In such an arena, the rulers themselves wanted the ‘peace referendum,’ the failure of which has led to all sorts of excoriation of democracy.  Such views) expresse the anti-democratic outlook of the financial aristocracy and its public relations representatives at the New York Times.   The violent suppression of social opposition throughout Latin America by US imperialism over the last century proves that democracy must be done away with whenever it poses an obstacle to the profit margins of the banks and multinational corporations.  The Financial Times also wrote that the bank HSBC stated, ‘This political defeat could also lower the chance of Congress passing the much-needed tax reform ahead of year-end… notwithstanding the government’s assurance that spending cuts in the 2017 budget (particularly on public investment) will be enough to comply with the fiscal goals.’

(The referendum legitimized FARC and gave it a ‘place at the table.’)  The accord also would provide impunity for FARC guerrillas, who have carried out kidnappings, extortion and murders as the backbone of its bankrupt guerrilla program.  The crimes of the FARC, however, are outweighed only by those committed by the government and its right-wing paramilitary supporters who are responsible for about three-fourths of the estimated 177,000 civilian deaths throughout the decades-long civil war.  Regardless of how the ‘peace’ process resolves in the short term, Colombia is a crucial part of the US government’s ‘pivot to Latin America.’  US funding and direct military assistance have allowed Colombia to build the largest military force in South America with 445,000 members.  Currently, the FARC report having just 5,800 fighters across the country, compared to the estimated 19,000 they had when Alvaro Uribe became president in 2002.

CC BY-SA by joelogon
CC BY-SA by joelogon

The US-backed militarization of Colombia gives the lie to the government’s claims to want ‘peace.’  According to calculations made by the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), the sum of US military and police aid and US arms sales to Colombia has had a sustained increase from less than $900 million in 1997-1999 to $2.5 billion in 2012-2014.  New taxes and budget reallocation have ensured that the Colombian workers and peasants are forced to pay a greater share of the buildup of the repressive apparatus.”—World Socialist Website

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CC BY-SA by joelogon
        “(The intricacies of empire seemed manageable after World War Two.  Vietnam proved a huge comeuppance, however).  As one might expect in looking into any complicated phenomenon, this ‘falling-apart’ of one way of doing business had many components.  One could pick and choose among dozens of eventualities, or more, that help to explicate how things worked out as they did, why certain choices seemed attractive or even inevitable.  For purposes of this (segment in the) series, the focus falls on events in the Western hemisphere early in September, 1973.

Rebellions in Central America had long been heating up, regardless of the self-congratulation that typified U.S. agents’ beliefs about ‘successes’ in undercover operations–murder and mayhem, incorporated–in Guatemala and elsewhere over the years.  At the same time, further South, Chile had evinced the temerity to elect a socialist, Salvador Allende, who preached that he needn’t overthrow capitalism since he had won an election that allowed him to establish a constitutional socialist agenda.mountains andes chile
Financiers and industrialists found the idea nauseating that, not only could a daring and savvy revolutionary fighter, such as Fidel Castro, once in a while win a bout with the mightiest nation on earth, but that elections themselves–which were so firmly under control stateside–might soon produce similar effects as had emanated from armed conflict.  In the course of 1973, these upper-crust malcontents made common cause with the higher strata of Chile’s military, which felt similar discontent at the developing radicalism of Chilean society.  In the event, roughly twenty-eight years after the conclusion of the slaughter of WWII, which in turn left the U.S. master of the whole world, the boards of directors and top bureaucrats of government secretariats–who, by the way, were almost to a man(or an occasional woman)exactly the same people–had little choice, in their view of the priorities in play, but to unleash a brutal unhinging of Salvador Allende and his companeras y companeros.   Senor Allende and many others faced summary execution on that day, 9/11/1973.

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This gruesome torture and homicidal mania ultimately killed in excess of ten thousand, possibly many more, solidifying the idea in popular thinking  of the ‘desaparicidos,’ those who have simply vanished from the world.  Alberto Bolano, the masterful Chilean novelist and poet, writes about them, pushed from planes, taken on terminal jaunts into deserts and jungles, bundled up and trundled away to eliminate messy evidence of murder.  Thus, the ‘masters-of-the-universe’ in charge of America began a new chapter with thuggish killing many times greater than what took place a decade ago in New York and Washington.


(Shortly thereafter), (t)he Iran-Contra chicanery, a vile and vicious hoax that supplied drug-financed ordnance for the decimation of tens of thousands of Nicaraguans who had demonstrated the insolence of seeking a democracy to replace U.S. corporate henchmen and killers like Anastasio Somoza, involved the highest levels of multiple executive departments of the U.S. Government.  A few, like Oliver North, were convicted of felonies–though North’s ‘sentence’ was ‘a fine, community service, and probation’–and some spent time in prison, though they now reap thousands per appearance on a lecture circuit that celebrates criminal conspiracy in the name of anti-communism.propaganda anti communist red commie
The invasion of Panama continued this trend, albeit in a slightly different vein.  The removal of Manuel Noriega from power occurred after he threatened to unleash torrents of information about the hypocrisy, venality, and misrepresentation that underpinned both the War on Drugs and our relations with Latin America generally, without doubt clouded now by ‘corruptions of memory.’ …(Such a) quick accounting (as this) deserves a much deeper attention and a complete unveiling of the as-yet ‘classified’ materials that continue to hide big sections of what actually makes up our past.  And many other cases remain to tell, so soon as citizens insist on the real story of their lives.  Finding new ways to practice death-worship and new techniques for perfecting theft and corruption, however, could not forestall the economic wreckage of the 1970’s, which is another characteristic of the new phase of things, for which Salvador Allende and countless others paid with their lives.”—Just Means