Monthly Archives: March 2011

Venezuelan Government Involves Communal Councils in Combating Food Hoarding

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By TAMARA PEARSON – VENEZUELANALYSIS.COM

Indepabis workers during an operation in Caracas to identify which shops aren’t complying with the regulated prices (YVKE).

Mérida, March 29th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Indepabis, the government Institute for the Defence of People’s Access to Goods and Services, is issuing fines, promoting a free denunciation phone number, and calling for greater communal council involvement in order to combat current scarcities being experienced in Venezuela.

While the scarcities vary according to region, milk and sanitary product are scarce nationwide.

In Merida, for example, powdered milk (the source of milk for most Venezuelans because it is cheaper than its liquid alternative) has been very difficult to get for the last six months. Oil, diapers, and sanitary pads have also been quite scarce, and coffee has sometimes been scarce.

Indepabis president Augosto Montiel, speaking on YVKE Mundial radio yesterday, said the Venezuelan government, through the institution, would work with organized communities under a model of “social auditing” to defend the rights of consumers against speculation of prices and other illegal economic activity.

Indepabis has also been encouraging the formation of food security committees within communal councils so as to involve the community directly in the monitoring, denunciation, and resolution of food hoarding problems.

It also provides a free phone number for denunciations and has been inspecting shops to make sure they are complying with regulated prices. Those who don’t comply will receive fines but will not be shut down, “because the aim is not to affect the consumer but rather the speculator,” Montiel said.

He said organised communities had already played an important role in denouncing real estate abuses and specific housing construction companies who trick people into buying unfinished houses.

“It’s a complex process and we have to use the law to establish fines standardised in the Law for the Defence of People’s Access to Goods and Services, fines which should be in accordance with the type of irregularity or crime committed. In the case of the organisation of some construction companies … many are obliged to return the money they charged illegally,” Montiel said.

He added that a few of those denounced were now in prison and that some had fled the country with the “savings of the cheated families”.

Article 132 of the law outlines fines for speculation and hoarding, which range from 100 to 5,000 tax units. One tax unit is currently 76 bolivars ($US 17.70).

Montiel said there are also some shop owners who don’t sell products in their shops because they don’t want to comply with the regulated prices, and then they re-sell the products at inflated prices by hiring people in the informal market.

“The national government guarantees food sovereignty and all agents that make up the networks of distribution, production and selling should respect the right of the community to have access to all food products- the regulated ones as much as the non-regulated ones,” he said.

Regarding the scarcity of personal hygiene products such as sanitary pads and nappies, Montiel said there was no good reason for such a lack of supply and that Indepabis was conducting an investigation.

“The importers haven’t complained of a lack of access to the dollar,” he said. Because of the government’s controls of the exchange rate, companies must apply for U.S dollars in order to be able to import.

“They have been given the required dollars needed for the buying of material and for production, there shouldn’t be any complaints in that respect, but it turns out that they aren’t distributing those items.”

He suggested the lack of such products in the stores implied hoarding in order to create an “irregular situation” by “fraudulently or artificially modifying the conditions of demand”, implying an increase in prices.

Opposition spokespeople and their press generally try blame the scarcity of products on the Chavez government, citing regulated prices and that some suppliers, producers, or supermarkets have been expropriated as the cause of the problem.

At the end of 2007 and start of 2008 there was a more serious food shortage, with a large proportion of basic products such as milk, rice, pasta, sugar, eggs, and toilet paper difficult to find. Some analysts went as far as to blame the issue, which was causing a lot of discontent, on the defeat of the proposed constitutional reforms of December 2007.

At that time there were a range of factors involved in the food scarcity, including exaggerated discontent provoked by the private media causing people to stock up on products, general increased consumption as a result of increased government social spending, increased global food prices, deliberate hoarding by private food companies, and the selling of regulated goods on the black market (or in neighboring Colombia) by both private companies and corrupt officials working in government food supply chains.

In immediate response to the discontent expressed by the people, the government removed price controls on all but 20 products. Previously some 400 products were subject to controls in an attempt to assist consumers.

In the long term, in response to this issue as well as part of the government’s plan for food sovereignty, the government has also nationalised some supermarket chains to create its “bicentenary markets”, expanded its own subsidised food markets Mercal and PDVAL, has nationalised and created new food factories, and launched the mission Agro Venezuela to try to increase local production, among other efforts.

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African American truck driver brutalized by Long Beach police speaks out

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By Doug Kauffman
March 30, 2011

Shannon Bell

Liberation conducted this interview with Shannon Bell, the owner/operator of Bell Trucking Company, who was brutalized by the Long Beach Police Department in 2009 at his home in the Belmont Shore neighborhood.

Liberation: First, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Shannon Bell: My name is Shannon Bell and I’m 37 years old. I was born June 8, 1973, and I grew up in Wilmington, Calif., just a couple miles away from Long Beach. I’m an owner/operator who used to be contracted to do work hauling loads in and out of the Long Beach port. I have two kids; a 16-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter.

Liberation: What were your thoughts of the police when you were growing up?

SB: The earliest memory I have of the cops was them arresting my uncle. Growing up, before I had gotten the good job that I have now, I was involved in gangs and I remember seeing how crooked the police were because frequently they would rob people of their money or beat people in the street. When I changed my life around, I thought that I wouldn’t ever encounter any of that type of stuff anymore.

Liberation: How then did you feel about the police immediately before the incident, after you had become successful as a truck driver?

SB: My father-in-law was an LAPD sergeant. I embraced him personally and I had let go of my past. I was assured by my ex-wife that I was a business owner and the police were no longer out to get me. I felt good. I didn’t worry too much about the police.

Liberation: Have you ever had an incident with the Long Beach Police Department prior to the attack in January of 2009?

SB: Yes. Once I went to get some cans of corn and I was going back home when I was pulled over by an undercover. The cop acted as though I was a criminal immediately. He told me to get my ID out and I informed him that I was in a bucket seat and couldn’t reach my wallet and that I had to get out to give him the ID. The cop pulled me out of the car and told me to “Sit on the curb.”

I replied, “If I was a white guy would you be putting me on the curb?” Then the cop responded, “Do you want to go to jail?” Luckily, my neighbors had witnessed what was happening and notified my ex-wife who was only about a block away in our house. The cop ran my ID and started talking to me about my past, implying that I was a criminal. That is when my ex-wife walked up and explained that I lived around the corner, and the officer wrote the ticket after searching my car.

Liberation: Can you please tell us what happened on the day of the incident?

SB: It was January 4, 2009, and me and my now ex-wife were arguing loudly with each other. A next-door neighbor heard us yelling at one another and thought something more was happening so she called the police. The next thing I remember is a loud pounding on the door, and we both knew it was the police. When I opened the door, I opened it to a sea of police officers, several of whom already had their tasers drawn.

I was told to come out with my hands up, and I complied. I was told to get on the ground by one of the officers, and I asked, “What for?” Then an officer who was hidden behind my opened door stepped out and threw me down the porch steps onto my car, which was parked in the driveway. When I was against the car, I was told repeatedly that I was resisting after they shot me with a taser in the chest and began poking me with another prod-like taser.

They continued beating me as I fell forward down the front of the lawn into some garden planters and trees. They were screaming at me to put my hands behind my back as they tased me a couple more times but I couldn’t and I was pinned up against a tree and couldn’t roll over. Then they dragged me by the ankles into the street gutter and cuffed me. I asked, “Officer, why was I tased?”

The officer responded, “Shut up” and tased me again while in handcuffs in the gutter. My ex-wife caught this portion on tape with her cell phone. They arrested me for “obstructing justice” but never filed any charges. The officers came to the hospital and one of them told me, “We didn’t know what to do because you’re a big Black guy and we didn’t know you were nice.”

Liberation: Have you had any other problems with LBPD since the incident?

SB: Yes. I was harassed at one of my court appearances for a ticket by one of the officers who had participated in the jumping. I also got pulled over in north Long Beach on the way to a club with a friend who had just been released on parole. We were pulled over right in front of the club.

The same thing happened, I told the cop I couldn’t reach my ID and I had to get out and give it to them. They checked me and my friend’s records. I was told to “Sit on the curb” again but I refused because the ground was wet from it being a very rainy night and they cuffed me and threw me in the back. The officers then tore my car to pieces searching for nothing. The case was dropped when the cops refused to show up in court.

Liberation: What do you think about the LBPD now?

SB: I’d say the majority of LBPD officers are rotten to the bone. They are not good people. When I’m walking around downtown Long Beach and I see cops moving toward me, I leave. I would say I’m definitely avoiding the LBPD now.

Liberation: What would you say to other victims of police violence here in Long Beach or anywhere else for that matter?

SB: It’s important to not just accept it. Somebody has to stand up for it to change. This has been happening for a long time. I’ve lived in the area for nearly 20 years and have always heard about LBPD violence. I’ve heard about them tasing, shooting, beating unarmed people minding their own business just because they may have said something the officer didn’t like. I don’t understand why the City Council or the mayor aren’t doing anything about it. They must not understand how the police unleash force on our communities all the time.

Liberation: How do you feel to be a part of the ANSWER Coalition [Act Now to Stop War and End Racism] and Party for Socialism and Liberation’s city-wide movement to end police violence?

SB: I am honored to be working on the campaign. It feels great to be a part of it. When I was a kid and even when I was in the streets, I always followed what my grandmother told me: “Right is right and wrong is wrong.” I’ve paid for crimes I didn’t even commit in this injustice system. I’m hoping that LBPD will pay for their crimes. The community doesn’t deserve what they’re doing to us.

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Snatched Gaza engineer appears in Israeli court

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March 31, 2011

Gazan engineer Dirar Abu Sisi (C) talks to the press at the Petah Tikvah Magistrates' Court for a hearing to set the date for his indictment on March 31, 2011.

PETAH TIKVAH, Israel (AFP) — A Gazan engineer who was snatched from the Ukraine appeared on Thursday before an Israeli court as officials confirmed he was interrogated over the missing soldier Gilad Shalit.

Dirar Abu Sisi, who disappeared while traveling on a train in Ukraine last month, appeared before Petah Tikvah Magistrates Court for a hearing at which the court extended his remand in custody and set April 4 as the date for his indictment.

“The court extended the remand of my client by five days and should indict him on Monday morning,” said his lawyer Smadar Ben-Natan.

As he arrived at the courthouse, Abu Sisi said a few words in English, telling reporters: “I do not know anything about Gilad Shalit,” before making other remarks in Arabic, which were relayed to AFP by his lawyer.

“He declared his innocence and said he had been kidnapped in Ukraine. He also said that the allegations published about him were lies,” she said.

Sisi was referring to a report in Germany’s Spiegel magazine which said Israeli agents had snatched him because they believed he had valuable information about the whereabouts of Shalit, an Israeli soldier abducted by Gaza militants in 2006.

“He has no information about Gilad Shalit,” Ben-Natan told AFP. “It is very probable that this is the reason why he was taken, but it was a complete mistake as he has no such information.”

The 42-year-old engineer, who is the technical director at Gaza’s sole electricity plant, is being held at Shikma prison in the southern port city of Ashkelon, although there is a gag order on details of his case.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday said that although Abu Sisi had no “direct” ties with Shalit, he had “intimate information” about his situation in an apparent confirmation that the engineer had been interrogated over the missing soldier.

“We are not talking about a direct link [with Shalit],” Barak told public radio, there was no question that Abu Sisi had been involved in guarding the soldier or even in his capture.

“But he is a man who has information — intimate, internal information about what happens within Hamas, and it has value, not only with respect to Gilad Shalit but with regards to a lot of other things,” he said, describing his arrest as “justified.”

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, however, made a statement Thursday saying the engineer had “nothing to do with Hamas,” and said the party was holding the Ukraine responsible for his abduction.

Commenting on the case during a live Q&A session on YouTube late on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alleged Abu Sisi belonged to the Islamist Hamas movement and had provided his interrogators with “useful information.”

“Abu Sisi is from Hamas, he is in custody in Israel, held legally in accordance with all the rules,” Netanyahu said. “I don’t want to comment on a connection with Gilad Shalit or anything else, I can only say that he has divulged useful information.”

Gaza militants captured Shalit in a cross-border raid into Israel in 2006. He remains captive somewhere in Gaza, and Hamas has demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return for freeing him.

Family says abduction retribution for power innovations

Speaking with Ma’an, Abu Sisi’s family said the abduction had little to do with Shalit, and accused Israseli officials of detainnig Dirar because he had been able to engineer a switch in fuel source for the Gaza Power Plant.

At the close of 2010, the Gaza Strip halted its import of Israeli industrial diesel, and initiated a trial run using purified fuel brought in through the smuggling tunnels from Egypt.

Abu Sisi’s sister Suzanne said “Israel was provoked because my brother was able to operate the plant without fuel from their pumps, Israel tries to lay siege to us in every way, but they cannot lay siege to our brains and our creativity.”

Suzanne said her brother was “not linked in any way to any political faction, he was working as the head of the operations of the plant before Hamas came to power, and he continues his work as a university professor.”

Hamas holds Ukraine responsible

Abu Sisi, father of six and the husband of a Ukrainian woman, disappeared while traveling between Kiev and the eastern city of Kharkov on the night of Feb. 18-19.

His wife Veronica said train attendants told her that her husband had been taken away by two men posing as officers of the Ukrainian secret service.

Earlier this year, Israel was accused by Tehran of being responsible for the kidnapping of a former deputy defense minister who went missing in Turkey in 2007.

Ali Reza Asghari went missing after checking in to an Istanbul hotel in February 2007, with Israeli press reports suggesting he had been abducted by the Mossad spy agency.

In January, various Israeli news website briefly reported that Asghari had committed suicide in an Israeli prison, but the reports were later removed.

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Interview with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in Havana, Cuba

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By: Arleen Rodríguez Derivet
March 31, 2011

James Carter in Havana. Photo: Alex Castro

Arleen Rodríguez: Hello! A greeting to all of those who are watching Cuban Television right now. I welcome all of you, along with the former President of the United States, James Carter, who just moments before leaving to return to his country has graciously agreed to give us an interview, and an exclusive statement for our television broadcast.

Welcome. Thank you for accepting our invitation.

Jimmy Carter: It’s a great pleasure to return to Cuba, to Havana.

Rodríguez: It’s a great pleasure to have you here as well. You told me that you’d like to say something to the Cuban people before our interview.

Carter: Yes.

Rodríguez: The camera is yours.

Carter: To the people of Cuba I would like to say that I am very grateful for the chance to return to your wonderful country once again. My wife and I enjoy being here with the Cuban people, to meet with the government leaders, to meet with some of those Cuban citizens who disagree with the government. We met with all of them. We are very excited about the prospects for the upcoming Congress that will begin next month. We also had a chance to meet with the parents of the so-called Cuban Five, with two of the mothers and also with the wives.

My hope is that in the future we will see normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States. I would like to see at the time all the restraints on travel from the United States to Cuba and Cuba to the United States lifted, and also have freedoms in both our countries, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom to travel as you wish, these are very important for the entire world and for the people of Cuba.

We had meetings with the foreign minister, with the President of the National Assembly, with President Castro, with the former President, Fidel Castro, an old friend of mine, to learn all we can about the economic changes in Cuba.

This morning I was also able to meet with Mr. Gross, who has been sentenced to a long term in prison in Cuba, and we believe he is innocent of any crime. I hope in the future we’ll see his freedom along with the freedom of the so-called Cuban Five who have now spent 12 years in prison in the United States.

In the future I hope that we can see unimpeded trade and commerce as well as travel back and forth between our two countries and I’d like to see the economic embargo lifted completely…it doesn’t just affect the government but it hurts the people. My views on the Cuban American relationship are that it needs to change.

When I became president I immediately lifted the travel restraints between both my country and Cuba and I have worked very closely with your former President Fidel Castro to establish diplomatic exchange through Interests Sections. Now the United States and Cuba have about 300 people employed in the Interests Sections, both in the United States as well as in Cuba, and there are Cubans who work in the Interests Section in Cuba and vice-versa, and I think that this can contribute to normal diplomatic relations between the two countries.

This has been a good opportunity that I’ve been given by Cuban TV to address you and say how marvelous your country is.

Rodríguez: Thanks.

I’d like to take advantage of this opportunity to ask you a few questions.

First of all, I’d like to congratulate you for the respect and sympathy that you’ve generated as the only U.S. President in 50 years to do something to normalize relations. You recalled some of the important steps. Also for the fact that you have come to Cuba twice already, and for doing so with your hand extended and with respect. The Cuban people, who have a lot of pride and dignity, receive such visitors sympathetically.

I believe that, getting down to the substance of this interview, you’ve relieved me of having to do an introduction, by expressing once again your desire and willingness for the blockade against Cuba to be lifted. It’s known that there’s a majority consensus in U.S. society on this, even among the Cuban community in the United States, and that, furthermore, the international community has overwhelmingly demanded this for the last twenty years, the same way that its efforts are supported by a vast majority in Cuba and the United States.

As you yourself acknowledge, the blockade remains in place, and the Cuban people know, furthermore, that it remains in place as stiffly as ever, sometimes even more rigorous than before.

I ask: What prospects do you see for relations between Cuba and the United States and for this blockade, that the whole world opposes?

Carter: As you know, the majority of Cubans want to have normal relations with the United States, and the overwhelming majority of North Americans also want to have normal relationships with Cuba. Unfortunately there are a few radical leaders in my country, some in prominent positions in Congress, mostly Cuban Americans, who insist on keeping the relationship between our two countries separate, these representatives of the old Cuban American community, whose main goal was to overthrow the Castro regime; even among the Cuban Americans now in my country they are a small minority now, but they’re very powerful, in our political circles. I believe that in the last few years, I’ve seen public opinion polls even inside Miami … testifying that the younger members of that community want to move the economic blockade against Cuba and want to have normal opportunities to travel in both directions: from the United States to Cuba and also from Cuba to the United States. This is a change. In my opinion, it’s a change that is going to continue into the future and I hope that my small voice, and the opinion of many American, can make this a reality.

Rodríguez: Mr. Carter, I was very moved as I listened to you in the press conference, and here in your statement, when I heard you also ask for, demand, freedom for the Five Cuban Heroes imprisoned in the States, who Cuba considers heroes, because they faced terrorist groups and were able to prevent the list of 2,099 wounded and 3,478 dead from terrorist attacks on our country from growing any larger.

I don’t know how aware you are of how deeply the Cuban people feel about the demand that the Five be released. However, I didn’t hear you say they should be pardoned.

You said that according to U.S. law you expected that they would be freed. They have appealed to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear their case, despite the fact that more than 10 Nobel laureates and hundreds of political personalities and intellectuals around the world had demanded it. In other words, all the legal steps have been exhausted.

The process has been extremely arbitrary, as you said, judges have acknowledged this, and two of them have been subjected to the additional punishment of being denied regular visits from their wives, as well as having the visits from their family members made very difficult.

To arrive at this point with the Supreme Court and not allow even for the review of such a complex case is what made these Nobel prizewinners and political personalities demand that Obama grant a pardon.

You were the President of the United States. You exercised the right to pardon, as a humanitarian gesture, that I tell you – as a Cuban – the Cuban people would deeply appreciate a pardon. Are you inclined to add your name to the other Nobel prizewinners who are asking Obama to pardon the Five?

Carter: As you know, I’m not only a former president, but I’m also a Nobel laureate.

Rodríguez: That’s why.

Carter: Well, in my private talks to President Bush and also with President Obama, I have urged the release of these prisoners.

I recognize the restraints within the American judicial system, and my hope is that the president might grant a pardon, but you have to realize that this is a decision that could only be made by the president himself, it would be presumptuous of me to try to tell another president what to do; but the presidents, now and before this, have known that my own opinion is that the original trial of the Cuban Five was very doubtful, it violated standards, and also some of the restraints on their visitation were extreme.

Now I know that all of the people have been able to visit them in jail, and it is my wish in the future that before a pardon might be granted is that there could be more access by these families to these prisoners .

I have been informed by officials, for instance, that the shooting down of the small planes over Havana, that caused the death of two pilots, was done after the President of the United States informed Cuban leaders that no more flights would take place. And I was informed by Cuban officials that they notified the President of the United States, very clearly, that they could not permit a plane to fly over their capital city…dropping leaflets…but that they would protect the sovereignty of Cuba. So even those more serious, allegations, in my opinion are very doubtful, about their need or cause of the extensive sentences that have been granted to one of the prisoners; but in every way, in my private report with Obama when I return to the United States, in my public statements like today, in my previous conversations with American leaders, I’ve called for the release of the Cuban Five. One of the reasons is that, guilty or not, is they’ve served a long prison sentence already, more than 12 years, and the fact that they’ve been punished adequately, even if they are guilty.

Rodríguez: Recently a person very closely connected to the case, who you knew very well, Leonard Weinglass, passed away. I know that you know he was a man with a love for justice, who fought for justice, and his last words, his last work, even, on his deathbed, was to prove that the Five had nothing to do with the downing of the planes.

Carter: Yes, I know.

Rodríguez: To go further into the case would make this conversation much longer, but what the Cuban people know, what can be proven, what is known, even by U.S. authorities, through the reports that Cuba sent, is that the only thing these young people were doing was looking for information to prevent terrorist actions.

I am confident that you will be able to convey the insistence on a pardon, as a humanitarian gesture. These men have suffered a lot, and have lost family members without being able to be at their side; finally, I don’t insist, I thank you for your interest and your statements in the name of the Cuban people.

Mr. Carter, you also said this morning at the press conference that you had a friendly meeting with Comandante Fidel Castro, who has expressed in his Reflections a great deal of anguish about the risks faced by the human species, about the huge nuclear arsenals that keep on growing and that are capable of destroying the world several times over, and also about the nefarious consequences that climate change might have for the human species. These are subjects in which I believe you have broad agreement.

As a nuclear physicist, you know what nuclear weapons mean for the human species, when you were President, you worked hard to educate your people against consumer culture, promoted rational policies, defended the environment, even though it made you unpopular among certain sectors.

Well, quickly, I’d like to know if you still think there is a chance to do something to save humankind.

Carter: Well, when I was president, we negotiated with the Soviet Union to reduce the level of nuclear weapons, through the so-called SALT II Treaty, and since then I’ve been a strong advocate of reducing productions in nuclear arsenals on both sides. Also I believe very strongly that there is a real threat to the wellbeing of all human beings through global warming, and as you probably know, President Obama and his predecessor, President Bush, attempted to work with other nuclear powers on reducing arsenals, and that they have been monitoring very closely the agreements that have been signed by these governments.

I think the United States has not been adequately strong in its potential leadership in addressing the global warming issue. Cuban officials, since I’ve been here, have pointed out me that the old city in Havana is in danger of destruction… I have been to Bolivia to meet with Evo Morales, and maybe Bolivia will be the first country that will have major damage to its economy, because the glaciers in the mountains of Bolivia are melting…their source of drinking water. So I’m hoping that in the future, this issue, and the global warming issue, can be addressed by my country and all nations, and I know that Fidel Castro is addressing this now, at least in his Reflections. I talked to him about inviting … more definitively about his actions at present, as related to the United States … what goes on in current affairs, and he wants to use his voice as a senior statesman for the wellbeing of all humankind. We’ve had good conversations, we basically agree on many things, and above all, we also talked about global warming, and I believe that there might be a possibility between our two countries. Now I’m afraid I have to leave, to get on my airplane, I don’t have an Air Force One any more.

Rodríguez: I’m very grateful for your time. Thank you. Every time you come to Cuba, hope is awakened, although the blockade continues to make relations so difficult.

Carter: Espero que podemos volver otra vez, muchas veces. En la oportunidad traer toda mi familia. Hay muchos de nuestra familia. Tenemos treinta y seis miembros… [I hope that we can return again, many times. I’d like to bring all my family. There are a lot of us. We have thirty-six members…] grandchildren, great grandchildren, spouses, children, we’d like to have all of us come to Cuba.

Thank you very much.

Rodríguez: Thank you, Mr. Carter, very much.

James Carter visit Fidel Castro in Havana. Photo: Alex Castro

Carter, his wife Rosalynn and Fidel in Havana. Photo: Alex Castro

James Carter during an interview with Arleen Rodríguez. Photo: Jenny Muñoa

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North Carolina youths protest attack on Libya

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By Andy Koch
Mar 30, 2011

March 23 anti-war protest.

Youth activists and community members gathered in front of North Carolina’s Federal Building in Raleigh on March 23 to denounce the war on Washington’s newest target of aggression: the North African state of Libya.

North Carolina, home to the enormous U.S. army base at Fort Bragg, is often touted by state officials as “the most military-friendly state.” The slogan is part of a public relations push to expand existing bases and make North Carolina even more dependent on military money.

Despite this dependence, supportive motorists sent continual honks and shout-outs to the demonstrators. Those North Carolina residents were no doubt disturbed by the strong feeling of militaristic deja-vu brought on by the news of the 118 U.S. cruise missiles unleashed on Libya only days before. It wasn’t mentioned much on CNN or Fox News, but the recent blitz of firepower on the African nation came on the eighth anniversary of the start of the United States’ war on Iraq, another oil-rich former colony.

Members of Raleigh FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together) held handmade signs and chanted “No justice, no peace! U.S. out of the Middle East!” Addressing the group, activist Kosta Harlan highlighted the connection between endless war abroad and poverty and repression at home. “How can they tell us that there’s no money for people’s needs, that we need to cut back,” Harlan said, “when each of the missiles they are pounding Libya with right now costs over $1 million? It’s insane!”

As a local organizer for the Committe to Stop FBI Repression, Harlan reminded the demonstrators that in the past year the government has stepped up its efforts to jail and silence anti-war activists with raids, subpoenas and the Federal Grand Jury system. “We need a strong anti-war movement now more than ever,” Harlan said, “and we aren’t going to let the FBI stop us.”

Students for a Democratic Society at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill endorsed and sent people, as did NC HEAT, the group fighting against resegregation of the schools, and Raleigh Fruit Cakes, an lesbian/gay/bi/trans/queer organization.

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N.Korea Reaffirms Position on Cheonan Case

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Pyongyang, Mar 31 (Prensa Latina) North Korea on Thursday called on the South to stop its campaign of confrontation, in which it insists on implicating this country in the sinking of a warship last year, an accusation rejected once again by Pyongyang.

“We have clarified again that we have nothing to do with the Cheonan case,” said a spokesman for the inspection group from the National Defense Committee, referring to the events of the night of March 25, 2010.

The spokesman added that if the South Korean authorities ignore that reality and insist on involving North Korea with that event, it will be proof of their confrontation attempts, aggravating their poor relations with North Korea.

In the statement quoted by the KNCA news agency, the spokesman also refuted accusations of responsibility for the incident that occurred on November 23 on Yonphyong Island.

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From socialist Afghanistan to socialist Libya: al-CIAda are back in business!

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“Imperialism and NATO – seriously concerned about the revolutionary wave unleashed in the Arab world, which produces a large portion of the oil sustaining the consumer economies of the rich, developed countries – could not miss the opportunity to take advantage of Libya’s internal conflict to promote a military intervention. The statements formulated by the United States government from early on were clearly in this vein.”

-Fidel Castro (NATO’s inevitable war)

by BJ Murphy

After over a month of deciding whether or not the Libyan rebel opposition are a legitimate “democratic” movement, or whether or not Gaddafi is really on the side of imperialism, despite the best efforts of both mainstream press and so-called “revolutionary leftists” to paint such an environment, quite the opposite has been revealed.

Editorial picture regarding the invasion of Libya.

According to The New York Times, the CIA have “..inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and make contacts with rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces.”1 This has also been slightly confirmed by the rebels, where “Maj Gen Suleiman Mahmoud, the second-in-command for the rebels, told the BBC that rebels forces needed time, patience and help to organise themselves,” and that “..allied liaison officers were working with the rebels to organise raids.”2

In addition to the American CIA, we have British officials stating that “..dozens of British special forces and MI6 intelligence officers are working inside Libya.”3 All while British media, the BBC, are stating that both the “US and Britain have suggested the UN resolution authorising international action in Libya could also permit the supply of weapons.”4

On March 27, President Obama had laid down a live speech to the American people on the US’s current role in Libya. Despite what we now know, with the CIA taking part in covert missions with the Libyan opposition, Obama tried claiming that “..America’s role would be limited; that we would not put ground troops into Libya; that we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation and that we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners. Tonight, we are fulfilling that pledge.”5

Of course, this wasn’t the only misleading statement made by Obama through this speech.

Al Qaeda and the rebel opposition

“I’ve made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies and our core interests. That’s why we’re going after al Qaeda wherever they seek a foothold. That is why we continue to fight in Afghanistan,” said President Obama.6 And of course, he’s also implying the same towards Libya as well.

The problem with this assertion of his is that, despite his claim of “going after al Qaeda,” in truth, the US are aiding al Qaeda against Libya’s President Gaddafi. This was all according to Libyan rebel commander Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, placing al Qaeda in a good light, stating that “members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader.”7 One can only guess as to who they mean “the invader”. My guess is that they’re talking about the US in Afghanistan. Of course, this then only makes such actions irrelevant, given the clear aid being received by those exact same invaders.

This was, of course, first mentioned and warned by Col. Gaddafi that the rebel opposition were fighting alongside with al-Qaeda.8 Though, the media had only then twisted his words as nothing more than mere conspiracy theories.

What’s interesting of this link between the US’s CIA and al-Qaeda working together to overthrow a regime that doesn’t fit well with the West’s foreign interests is that we’re witnessing nothing more than déjà vu. And by déjà vu, I mean with the history of Afghanistan during its socialist leadership by the People’s Democratic Party (PDPA).9

Where the US’s CIA funded and trained Osama Bin Laden and the Mujahideen (what would later split into two known terrorist organizations – the Taliban and al-Qaeda) in order to overthrow the govt. of socialist Afghanistan, we’re now witnessing history repeat itself as the CIA are aiding both al-Qaeda and the rebel opposition against the govt. of socialist Libya, in what now seems pretty clear of being the end goal – regime change.

Who are leading the rebel opposition?

Through a single article posted by The Washington Post, we were able to gather up enough information to realize who were members of the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO) – the “transitional council” that’s leading the rebel opposition. According to the Post, “the rebels have created a government-in-waiting known as the National Transitional Council. […] The group includes activists who have fought Gaddafi for decades and recent defectors.”10

‘That’s nothing!’ you may say. Of course, there’s more:

“Other national council members include a U.S.-educated political science professor, a well-known youth leader and a relative of Libya’s former monarch who spent 31 years in prison for allegedly participating in a coup attempt against Gaddafi. The council has also tapped experienced diplomats who defected to represent them in Western and Arab capitals.

“Mahmoud Jibril, a U.S.-educated professor and former head of Libya’s National Economic Development Board, is the rebel leadership’s foreign affairs representative and is expected to meet with Clinton in Cairo. A 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks and written by the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, described Jibril as “a serious interlocutor who ‘gets’ the U.S. perspective.”11

So, not only do we have a rebel opposition being aided by both the CIA and al-Qaeda, we also have a “transitional council” leading said rebels who contain Western-educated Professors who “gets the U.S. perspective” and family members of the ousted royal family of former Libyan King Idris as members of said council.

What makes the “transitional council” even more interesting is the fact that the imperialist countries currently waging a war against Libya’s independence had also recognized the council as the “legitimate govt.” of Libya.12 Completely disregarding the current, true govt. of Libya being led by Col. Gaddafi.

Why have the coalition forces invaded Libya?

What began as a coalition force conducting a no-fly zone over Libya and air-strikes on several cities held by the pro-Gaddafi forces, and now turning into a NATO-led war (can somebody say Yugoslavia?13), what is unclear, at least in the eyes of the mainstream press and liberal/conservatives who are not conscious enough to even remotely understand what’s going on in Libya, is the reason behind the invasion in the first place.

According to President Obama:

“Qaddafi chose to escalate his attacks, launching a military campaign against the Libyan people. Innocent people were targeted for killing. […] Military jets and helicopter gunships were unleashed upon people who had no means to defend themselves against assaults from the air.

[…]

“Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. […] And so at my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass a historic resolution that authorized a no-fly zone to stop the regime’s attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.”14

Of course, like everything else Obama had stated in his speech, this wasn’t exactly accurate.

According to the Western think-tank “international intelligence” International Institute for Strategic Studies, through an hour long military briefing, it was stated:

“When the globalist policy wonks speak frankly, outside the short attention span of the general public, they talk of Qaddafi’s professional forces taking special care to avoid civilian casualties knowing full well it will fuel calls for Western intervention.”15

When asked on whether or not there was any confirmation to the media claims of Libyan civilians were being killed by pro-Gaddafi forces through air-strikes, Sec. Gates stated that he'd "seen the press reports, but we have no confirmation of that."

Though, that’s not all. During a Department of Defense news briefing with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, when asked on whether or not there was any confirmation to the media claims of Libyan civilians were being killed by pro-Gaddafi forces through air-strikes, both Sec. Gates and Adm. Mullen stated that they’d “..seen no confirmation whatsoever.”16

What only makes the reports claiming the contrary even more confusing, according to Russian military intelligence, during the first month of civil-war conflict in Libya, there were no use of air-strikes whatsoever. This was all, according to them, confirmed via satellite.17

So, since we can pretty much scratch off “civilian air-strike casualties” as reason for the coalition/NATO invasion, what else could’ve led them to want to overthrow the current govt. of Libya? OH! That’s right, oil!

On March 16, just a day before the US announced that they were not only going to support a no-fly zone in Libya, but also air-strikes,18 Col. Gaddafi had announced what Western powers long feared:

“We do not believe the West any longer, that is why we invite Russian, Chinese and Indian companies to invest in Libya’s oil and construction spheres. […] We do not trust their firms – they took part in the conspiracy against us.”19

To top it all off, since 2009, Col. Gaddafi had been wanting to nationalize the Libyan oil industry, reason being due to loss of profits because of privatization under foreign interests.20

And what are the rebel opposition doing about this? According to BBC News, the rebels have signed an oil export deal with Qatar – one of the known imperialist forces fighting with the coalition against Col. Gaddafi.21

So, clearly, Gaddafi began placing a large barrier between the West’s private corporations and the large oil supply located in Libya. And by what means do the West go by to reaffirm control over said supply? Regime change.

Do the Libyan people stand with imperialism or independence?

During the first month of the civil-war conflict taking place in Libya, media reports were coming in that Col. Gaddafi was paying off “mercenaries” to kill members of the rebel opposition. What first became clear was that the so-called “mercenaries” were actually African migrants who were known for crossing to Libya to find work.22

Thousands of Libyans stand as human shields against the U.S./European imperialist bombing of the Libyan state.

From then on, we started receiving reports of the rebel opposition waging a racist campaign of executing,23 lynching,24 and imprisoning these African migrants.25

Of course, what came as no surprise to those who actually paid attention to the events of Libya, according to Human Rights Watch, they had found no evidence of there being “mercenaries” in Libya whatsoever.26

So, what started as a story of the “Libyan people vs. mercenaries”, then evolved into what we now realize as a civil war between the people of Libya – those loyal to Col. Gaddafi vs. those against him.

According to President Obama, “Qaddafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead,” and so, because of such, Col. Gaddafi “..needed to step down from power.”27 But has Col. Gaddafi really lost the confidence of his people, overall that is?

Well, according to a report by Stratfor, a pro-imperialist, anti-Gaddafi “global intelligence” company:

“According to the narrative, Gadhafi should quickly have been overwhelmed — but he wasn’t. He actually had substantial support among some tribes and within the army. All of these supporters had a great deal to lose if he was overthrown. Therefore, they proved far stronger collectively than the opposition, even if they were taken aback by the initial opposition successes. To everyone’s surprise, Gadhafi not only didn’t flee, he counterattacked and repulsed his enemies.

[…]

“One of the parts of the narrative is that the tyrant is surviving only by force and that the democratic rising readily routs him. The fact is that the tyrant had a lot of support in this case, the opposition wasn’t particularly democratic, much less organized or cohesive, and it was Gadhafi who routed them.”28

Not too long ago, we had been given word that the largest known tribe in Libya – the Warfalla tribe – were siding with Gaddafi, demanding for reconciliation instead of a civil war:

“Some are youths who want things but have been exploited. Do they want to divide the country? No, we will not agree to that. Do they want a constitution? The majority must agree. No one wants to replace Muammar Gaddafi. But the problem is a conspiracy against Libya.”29

Not long ago, what originally was thought to be a rebel stronghold, pro-Gaddafi forces had risen up in protest in Benghazi, despite known imprisonment and executions by the Libyan rebels against those deemed “pro-Gaddafi”. This was the sign of might and courage amongst the pro-Gaddafi forces:

So, as we can clearly see, Gaddafi not only still attains confidence among a section of his people, the confidence has grown to the vast majority of the Libyan people. Contradicting President Obama’s speech of Col. Gaddafi losing said confidence. Thus, losing justification among his claim of Col. Gaddafi “needing to step down from power.”

As the coalition continue to try and thwart the pro-Gaddafi forces from pushing forward towards the last key city Benghazi, and the rebel opposition continue to fail in pushing forward themselves, given the clear, overall, lack of support among the Libyan people, the civil war has yet to see an end. With socialist Libya long past being in the cross-hairs of imperialism, their independence is being threatened and are now, more than ever, needing the support and solidarity of all people around the world, and not just by Marxist-Leninists.

Long Live the Independence of Libya! Down With Western Imperialism!

Red Love & Salutes!

**UPDATE** Since first publishing this article, two major events have taken place that’ll only further my analysis over the Libyan rebels. According to the U.S. State Department, the “rebel government in control of the eastern part of Libya has made its first sale of oil from territory it controls” to a U.S. oil refiner known as Tesoro.30 The other major event took place only a few days before, in which it was announced that the Libyan rebels were going to officially recognize the Zionist state of Israel,31 a move that was never done by Col. Gaddafi, despite past concessions with that of the imperialists.

1. Mazzetti, M. and Schmitt, E., “C.I.A. in Libya Aiding Rebels, U.S. Officials Say”, The New York Times, March 30, 2011.

2. “Libya: Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa ‘defects to UK'”, BBC News, March 30, 2011.

3. Mazzetti and Schmitt.

4. BBC News, March 30, 2011.

5. “Transcript Of Obama’s Speech On Libya”, News One, March 28, 2011.

6. Ibid.

7. Swami, P., “Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links”, The Telegraph, March 25, 2011.

8. Kumar Sen, A., “Gadhafi blames al Qaeda for uprising in Libya”, The Washington Times, February 24, 2011.

9. Dixon, N., “How the CIA created Osama bin Laden”, Green Left, September 19, 2011.

10. Raghavan, S., “Rebel council seeks to transform Libya”, The Washington Post, March 15, 2011.

11. Ibid.

12. “Libya: France recognises rebels as government”, BBC News, March 10, 2011.

13. Chossudovsky, M., “YUGOSLAVIA VERSUS LIBYA: NATO’s War of Aggression against Yugoslavia”, Global Researcher, March 24, 2011.

14. News One, March 28, 2011.

15. “The Conflict In Libya And Military Options For The International Community”, Youtube, March 16, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5AEEbuV8Hg&feature=player_embedded

16. “DOD News Briefing with Secretary Gates and Adm. Mullen from the Pentagon”, U.S. Department of Defense, March 1, 2011.

Q: Do you see any evidence that he actually has fired on his own people from the air? There were reports of it, but do you have independent confirmation? If so, to what extent?

SEC. GATES: We’ve seen the press reports, but we have no confirmation of that.

ADM. MULLEN: That’s correct. We’ve seen no confirmation whatsoever.”

17. ““Airstrikes in Libya did not take place” – Russian military”, Russia Today, March 1, 2011.

18. Nicholas, P., “U.S. considers action beyond no-fly zone”, The Spokesman-Review, March 17, 2011.

19. “‘The West is to be forgotten. We will not give them our oil’ – Gaddafi”, Russia Today, March 16, 2011.

20. “Reason for war? Gaddafi wanted to nationalise oil”, Pravda.ru, March 25, 2011.

21. “Libyan rebels ‘sign oil export deal with Qatar'”, BBC News, March 27, 2011.

22. “Libya: African migrants, no mercenaries!”, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, March 16, 2011.

23. “LIBYA: Rebels execute black immigrants while forces kidnap others”, Somaliland Press, March 4, 2011.

24. Martins Aresa, F., “World And Press Watch As Africans Are Lynched In Libya”, Sahara Reporters, March 1, 2011.

25. Smith, G. “In a rebel prison, any African is a mercenary”, The Globe and Mail, March 28, 2011.

26. “HRW: No mercenaries in eastern Libya”, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, March 2, 2011.

27. News One, March 28, 2011.

28. Friedman, G., “Libya, the West and the Narrative of Democracy”, Stratfor Global Intelligence, March 21, 2011.

29. Black, I., “Libya’s biggest tribe joins march of reconciliation to Benghazi”, Guardian, March 23, 2011.

30. Crawford, J., “Libyan rebel group sells first oil to U.S.”, CNN, June 8, 2011.

31. “Libyan rebels will recognise Israel, Bernard-Henri Lévy tells Netanyahu”, Radio France Internationale, June 2, 2011.

C.I.A. in Libya Aiding Rebels, U.S. Officials Say

Standard

By MARK MAZZETTI and ERIC SCHMITT
March 30, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency has inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and make contacts with rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, according to American officials.

While President Obama has insisted that no American ground troops join in the Libyan campaign, small groups of C.I.A. operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks and are part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help set back Colonel Qaddafi’s military, the officials said.

The C.I.A. presence comprises an unknown number of American officers who had worked at the spy agency’s station in Tripoli and those who arrived more recently. In addition, current and former British officials said, dozens of British special forces and MI6 intelligence officers are working inside Libya. The British operatives have been directing airstrikes from British Tornado jets and gathering intelligence about the whereabouts of Libyan government tank columns, artillery pieces, and missile installations, the officials said.

By meeting with rebel groups, the Americans hope to fill in gaps in understanding who the leaders are of the groups opposed Colonel Qaddafi, and what their allegiances are, according to United States government officials speaking only on condition of anonymity because the actions of C.I.A. operatives are classified. The C.I.A. has declined to comment.

The United States and its allies in the NATO-led military intervention have scrambled over the last several weeks to gather detailed information on the location and abilities of Libyan infantry and armored forces, intelligence that normally takes months of painstaking analysis.

“We didn’t have great data,” Gen. Carter F. Ham, who handed over control of the Libya mission to NATO on Wednesday, said in an e-mail earlier this week. “Libya hasn’t been a country we focused on a lot over past few years,” he said.

American officials cautioned that the Western operatives are not working in close coordination with the rebel force, and there was little evidence on Wednesday that allied airstrikes were being used to cover the rebel retreat.

Because the publicly stated goal of the Libyan campaign is not to overthrow Colonel Qaddafi’s government, the clandestine effort now going on is significantly different from the Afghan campaign to drive the Taliban from power in 2001. Back then, American C.I.A. and Special Forces troops armed a collection of Afghan militias and called in airstrikes that paved the rebel advances on strategically important cities like Kabul and Kandahar.

Still, the American officials hope that information gathered by intelligence officers in Libya — from the location of Colonel Qaddafi’s munitions depots to the clusters of government troops inside Libyan towns — might help weaken Libya’s military enough to encourage defections within its ranks.

The American military is also monitoring Libyan troops with U-2 spy planes and a high-altitude Global Hawk drone, as well as a special aircraft, JSTARS, that tracks the movements of large groups of troops. Military officials said that the Air Force also has Predator drones, similar to those now operating in Afghanistan, in reserve.

Over the weekend, the United States also began flying AC-130 gunships, which attacked Libyan tanks and armored vehicles on the coastal road near Brega and Surt with 40-millimeter and 105-millimeter cannons, an American military officer said Wednesday.

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