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U.S. offensive in Latin America: A continent resists

Published Aug 20, 2009 8:07 PM

Hondurans continue the struggle in the streets. Defying criminal police and military who repress, arrest and shoot tear and pepper gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition at them, the people have protested the military coup regime every day for seven long weeks.

Through marches, cultural gatherings of resistance, assemblies and the multiple other ways the collective ingeniousness has been displayed, the National Popular Front of Resistance Against the Coup D’état has fought. The labor movement, women and men, young and old, the Afro-Honduran Garifuna people and the Indigenous peoples have given the world a revolutionary lesson in united resilience and determination.

They have earned the name, “Los Incansables” (the tireless ones), whose main slogan is “Nos tienen miedo porque no tenemos miedo” (They are afraid of us because we are unafraid).

Their only weapons are matches to set tires on fire and rocks, stones and sticks to defend themselves from the rifle and machinegun toting repressive forces of the coup regime. This brave people have taken on a historic task—defending their right to have the kind of government that they want and desperately need.

They are aware that their struggle will determine the future not only for Honduras, but for all Latin America. They know that their struggle is not only against coup leader Roberto Micheletti’s illegal and criminal regime, but against U.S. imperialism as well. Through the coup in Honduras and other recent offensive moves on the continent, Washington is trying to reverse the progressive processes unfolding throughout Latin America.

On Aug. 16 at the latest of a series of meetings and assemblies the Beverage Workers Union (STIBYS) has held to organize the resistance and report about developments, the Popular Front shared the following information:

• An international delegation of human rights observers read their final report documenting an extensive list of the coup regime’s violations.

• A representative of the Popular Labor Union Federation of Brazil called the coup a threat to all Latin America and said that his organization was joining the Honduran struggle.

• Artists affiliated with the Popular Front announced a political-cultural concert for Aug. 23.

• Regional sections of the Popular Front have been established in several cities.

• The Human Rights International Commission of the OAS will arrive on Monday to witness the violations. And a commission of foreign ministers of the OAS countries is supposed to arrive soon also. The resistance hopes that the findings of these commissions will force the United States to pressure the Micheletti’s government into resigning.

Washington tries to revive Monroe Doctrine

The Democratic administration in Washington has made public statements supporting legitimate Honduran President Manuel Zelaya’s right to return to office. The administration has also denied that seven military bases set for Colombia will be U.S. bases. Both statements are sheer hypocrisy, and both events are part of a deliberate plan carefully orchestrated by the Pentagon to regain control of the region.

With growing frustration, Washington has witnessed how Latin American countries are detaching themselves from the North’s imperialist control and asserting their sovereignty. Even countries like Brazil, with a moderate president, have often questioned U.S. policies toward Latin America. Washington has watched with horror as Latin American countries establish relations and trade with China, Iran and Russia.

To the U.S. rulers, these moves toward sovereignty are a danger for “national security,” meaning their freedom to freely exploit the continent.

For example, Brazil, with the largest economy of the region, has had since 1990 a strategic alliance with China. According to an article in the Aug. 14 Mexican daily La Jornada, “20 years ago China was the 12th trading partner for Latin America, with just $8 billion in trade; but since 2007 it has been in second place, with more than $100 billion in trade. And this year China was the first trading partner of Brazil, surpassing the United States. It has also strengthened ties with Venezuela, Argentina and Ecuador.”

So, what does Washington do to try to contain these advances? What the U.S. does best: militarize! Last year the U.S. resurrected the infamous IV Fleet, which now dangerously roams throughout the waters off Latin America, and goes as far as into the heart of the countries, through their rivers. The Plan Mérida, a copy of military Plan Colombia, but this time targeting Mexico, was signed into law on June 30, 2008.

The most recent and most dangerous military maneuver is the Pentagon Southern Command’s use of seven military bases in Colombia. This move has faced the firmest opposition from Latin American countries and movements, who see this military expansion as an enormous threat to the region, particularly to Colombia’s neighboring countries of Ecuador and Venezuela, whose governments consider the Pentagon’s takeover of the bases as an act of war.

Ecuador broke relations with Colombia after the Colombian military in 2008 bombed a FARC diplomatic camp inside Ecuador. Just now Venezuela stopped trade with Colombia after Colombia accused Venezuela of providing weapons to the FARC, a charge that both Venezuela and the FARC deny.

The question of these U.S. bases in Colombia was a major topic at a UNASUR meeting in Ecuador on Aug. 10. Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, anticipating broad condemnation, refused to attend the meeting. Instead he toured seven countries—Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay—to give his spin regarding the bases and at the same time gather support for his accusations against Venezuela.

Except for his stop in Peru, a country already politically in line with Colombia and the U.S., Uribe’s efforts were wasted. During the UNASUR meeting the countries present called an urgent and special meeting in Argentina for Aug. 28, which Uribe will be forced to attend to discuss the issue of the bases.

Brazilian President Lula Da Silva added that UNASUR should talk directly with U.S. President Barack Obama to let him know about “our opinion and disgust.” Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández also addressed the need to meet with the U.S. to clarify that country’s relationship with Latin America. (Telesurtv.net)

Ecuador, the Citizens’ Revolution advances

An example of the advances that Washington opposes is Ecuador’s. Last Aug. 10, the same day as the UNASUR meeting, Ecuador was celebrating the 200th anniversary of its independence and the second term in office of President Rafael Correa, mandated by the new constitution. The day before, Correa participated in an Indigenous ceremony accompanied by Guatamalan Nobelist Rigoberta Menchú and Bolivian President Evo Morales, where Correa was given a symbolic baton of leadership crafted by the community.

In his speech, Ecuador’s leader repeated what he has been trying to practice through his administration: that “preferential option for the poor, the young and ancestral peoples ... for whom justice has been too long delayed.” (Reuter, Aug. 9)

Correa initiates his second term in office with 66-percent popularity in a country that previously had seven presidents in 10 years. He spoke vehemently and movingly at the three events of the day: during the UNASUR meeting where he succeeded Chilean President Michelle Bachelet in the presidency of that organization, at the official ceremony and at the evening popular celebration.

Correa gave an overview of the accomplishments of his government and presented his plans for the new term. He spoke about the deepening of the revolution, the path of Ecuador towards “21st century socialism,” and the formation of Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, among many other topics. Correa has an excellent relation with Ecuador’s people. He and they demonstrate mutual respect and admiration.

Saying, “This Revolution belongs to the people,” Correa got great applause when he added, “Human beings are above capital and will never again be victims of the neoliberal machine and savage capitalism.” (Earth Times, Aug. 10)

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