Monthly Archives: September 2010

Troops free Ecuadorean president, coup has failed!

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01 Oct 2010

Supporters of Correa clashed with renegade police officers outside a hospital in Quito

Security forces loyal to Ecuador’s president have stormed a hospital in the capital, Quito, where Rafael Correa was trapped by police officers protesting over plans to cut their benefits.

Correa was rushed out of the building after the soldiers moved amid heavy gunfire late on Thursday.

“President Correa is leaving in a wheelchair and a mask so as not to breath in gas,” state media said.

Crowds of supporters celebrated, waving flags and cheering, as Correa appeared on the balcony of the presidential palace in Quito shortly after his release.

Correa had been taken to the hospital after being attacked with tear gas when he tried to speak to officers at a police barracks earlier in the day.

The president had told local media from the hospital that he would not negotiate with the protesters while he was “practically captive” in the hospital.

“I’ll leave here as president or they’ll take me out as a corpse,” Correa said.

“The people who have come to see me are very polite. They’ve told me, ‘We can talk’ and I told them, ‘When I get out of here, we can communicate and I’ll even have lunch with your families to discuss all the police’s problems.

“While this is the situation, there’s nothing to talk about, nothing to agree about. And don’t you dare bring me something to sign.”

Clashes between Correas’s supporters and the protesting police officers outside the hospital left at least one person dead and six others injured on Thursday, according to Miguel Carvajal, the security minister.

Loyal military

The military is currently in charge of public order in the country after a state of emergency was declared, with civil liberties suspended and soldiers authorised to carry out searches without a warrant.

Ecuador’s army chief has demanded that the renegade police officers end an uprising against the government.

General Ernesto Gonzalez, the army chief, has demanded that the renegade officers end their uprising and said those involved “would have their rights respected” if they turned themselves in.

He said that the military remained loyal to Correa. “We are in a state of law. We are loyal to the maximum authority, which is the president,” he told reporters.

Ricardo Patino, Ecuador’s foreign minister, had called on a large crowd gathered outside the presidential palace to “rescue” Correa.

“[He] has said that there are people trying to get in from the roof and attack him,” Patino told the crowd. “I want to invite the brave people here below to go with us to rescue the president.”

Witnesses said there was looting in Quito and in the city of Guayaquil, and that many workers and school students were being sent home.

Police in the cities held protests at their headquarters. Officers in Guayaquil blocked some roads leading to the coastal city, Ecuador’s most populous.

“In front of every police station there are tyres burning with smoke rising into the evening sky,” Stephan Kueffner, a Quito-based journalist, told Al Jazeera.

“The police force guarding the congress building has also joined the strike and therefore there are a few members of the legislature that are in isolation.”

Patino played down the severity of the protests.

“This is not a popular mobilisation, it is not a popular uprising, it is an uprising by the police who are ill-informed,” he told the TV network Telesur.

Diego Borja, the central bank chief, called for calm and urged Ecuadoreans not to withdraw money from banks.

Political impasse

Ecuador, an member with a population of 14 million, has a long history of political instability. Street protests toppled three presidents during economic turmoil in the decade before Correa took power.

A tear gas canister was thrown at Correa as he attempted to address police officers in Quito

“The police are taking advantage of a political crisis in the National Assembly, the congress, in which the ruling party is split over legislation,” Colin Harding, a Latin America expert, told Al Jazeera in London.

“They are taking the opportunity to take to the streets to press their demands.”

Members of Correa’s own left-wing party are blocking legislative proposals aimed at cutting state costs, prompting him to mull disbanding congress, a move that would let him rule by decree until new elections, one of his ministers said.

Ecuador’s two-year-old constitution allows the president to declare a political impasse that could dissolve congress until a new presidential and parliamentary elections can be held.

The measure would, however, have to be approved by the Constitutional Court to take effect.

“This a scenario that nobody would want, but it is a possibility when the conditions for change do not exist,” Doris Solis, the policy minister, said after meeting Correa and other senior officials late on Wednesday.

“A decision still has not been made,” she told reporters.

“Lawmakers in our coalition have the obligation to be coherent with our project for change.”

‘Citizen’s revolution’

More than half of the 124-member Congress are officially allied with Correa, but the president has blasted congressmen from his own Country Alliance party for not going along with his proposals for shrinking the country’s bureaucracy.

Correa, a US trained economist, was first elected in 2006 promising a “citizens’ revolution” aimed at increasing state control of Ecuador’s natural resources and fighting what he calls the country’s corrupt elite.

His government alienated international capital markets when it defaulted on $3.2 billion in global bonds two years ago. Correa described the debt as “illegitimate.”

Cash has been tight since then as the country relies on multilateral loans and bilateral lending to meet its international financing obligations.

Once in power, Correa backed the rewriting of the constitution to tilt the balance of power toward the executive. He easily won re-election under the new constitution in 2009, and he is allowed to stand again in 2013.

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Red Youth & CPGB-ML Solidarity with FRSO

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The following is from the website of Red Youth, the youth organization of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist):

American communists under attack

The oppressed people of the world are striking out against imperialism. Blow after blow, they inflict defeat after defeat. Bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq, the vast resources of US and British imperialism are being squandered fighting a losing battle against the peoples of the earth and the tide of history.

Anti-imperialist struggles are being heroically waged in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, where the people have suffered at the sharp end of imperialism’s vicious assault on human dignity. But in their fight against imperialism, the oppressed peoples of the world are not alone; they are joined by many thousands of progressive and peace-loving people in the centres of imperialism, who understand that every blow against imperialism is a blow against their own ruling classes.

The British anti-war and anti-imperialist movement must stand in solidarity not only with those fighting imperialism at the front line, but with our fellow activists and internationalists in the imperialist centres. The murders aboard the Mavi Marmara serve as a profoundly stark warning to us all about what happens when imperialism is challenged.

In the United States on 24 September, FBI agents began an assault on leaders and activists from the growing anti-imperialist movement that has arisen there in recent years. Comrades involved with a variety of political groups, particularly those connected with Palestine and Colombia solidarity, had their houses raided and their possessions taken. Especially targeted were members of the communist Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

The warrants that were issued attempted to brand those arrested as ‘sympathisers and supporters’ of ‘terrorist’ groups, ie, those that put up resistance to imperialist hegemony. Members of groups such as the Colombia Action Network or Students for a Democratic Society have had all manner of personal items seized, from computers and laptops, to photographs and passports.

Clearly, the US government wants to intimidate people away from joining anti-imperialist activity, and to find any legal technicality they can that will help them brand communists and anti-imperialists as criminals. This is especially important for the US ruling class at a time when the economic crisis is causing it to make tremendous attacks on its own working class, attacks which cannot but radicalise large sections of the population as they find their jobs, houses and social security taken away.

The CPGB-ML stands in whole-hearted solidarity with these comrades. We will do everything in our power to bring the issue to the attention of the British anti-war and anti-imperialist movements. As imperialism slides deeper into crisis, we can expect that the regularity and ferocity of these infringements upon civil liberties will increase.

We take the opportunity to send our comrades in the USA our heartiest congratulations at arousing the fury of the state forces, and we promise to redouble our own efforts here in Britain. As Marx rightly stated many years ago, “No nation that oppresses another can itself be free.” Our futures are bound together. Long live proletarian internationalism!

For more information see:

http://www.fightbacknews.org

http://www.workers.org

Read about how the US deals with internal anti-capitalists:

http://www.cpgb-ml.org/index.php?secName=proletarian&subName=display&art=448

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Coup d’état continues in Ecuador, US connected to coup

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Published 01 October, 2010

Chaos broke out in Ecuador when members of the nation’s military and national police forces turned to violence to protest a new law that reduces their pay and benefits.

The coup d’état has not ended and it has not failed, argued author and lawyer Eva Golinger, who is in Caracas, Venezuela. The coup d’état is ongoing, she said.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said he was attacked by police with tear gas. He has been hospitalized due to injuries.

“President Correa in Ecuador has been sequestered by police and military forces. He is in a military hospital where he was taken after he was attacked by the police forces, but he’s now being detained. He is not there anymore n his own will,” said Golinger.

She explained that members of Correa’s government and his supports have attempted to gain access to the President, but the military is denying them access. Meanwhile, opposition groups have spoken out in favor of the Coup d’état and are calling for Correa’s resignation.

“The law that apparently the police were protesting seems to be just be an excuse for some plans that were already underway to execute a coup against Correa,” Golinger said.

In a telephone interview earlier in the day, Correa said there were forces working to assassinate him, but he insisted that even if he is killed his policies will continue in his absence.

Correa’s government and policies have been in conflict with the United States for years, including his rejection of a US based that had been located in the country. Today the US still maintains a presence through the US Agency for International Development and the National Endowment for Democracy.

”Some of the groups coming out calling for the president’s resignation are known as groups receiving funding from these US agencies. So, again there is an indications already in just the beginning moments of this coup that’s underway of backing from different US agencies,” said Golinger.

Coup attempts in Latin America in recent years took place in nations that are or were members of the Bolivarian Alliance, which works to oppose US hegemony in the region.

“It seems to be that this is an attempt to deter Latin American integration and independence,” said Golinger.

Author and journalist Marc Saint Upéry in Quito, Ecuador said, if it is indeed a coup d’état it is very poorly organized. He said what is happening is a rebellion by the police forces over the reduction in their benefits and pay. The Correa government has said however that benefits have not been cut, and that pay has actually been increased.

“It’s the kind over reaction which makes real political manipulation. What I don’t see is a real big consideration with strategically thinking. I think if it is a coup d’état, I think it’s a very badly organized coup d’état,” said Upéry.

It has been reported that Correa said there was an attempt on his life.

“That’s not exactly what he said,” said Upéry. “He went to talk to the policemen in one of their camps and there he said, ‘well if you want to kill me, kill me’. The fact is they didn’t kill him.”

But, when the president left some policemen used a noxious gas which did impact him.

“If they wanted to kill him, they could have killed him very easily,” said Upéry.

He explained that he is still not sure what the policemen want, their only demands have been that the law be changed to return the benefits they feel they have lost.

The national army has however issued a declaration in support of Correa and issued a state of emergency, placing them in charge.

“What should happen is that the army intervenes to free the president,” said Upéry.

However, Upéry said that such an incident would be a very delicate because the army does not want to have to take lives or shed the blood of police members.

The people of Ecuador have come out in strong support for the president. The people want the police to stop and the president to be released, even though some do understand the concerns of the police force, said Upéry.

As this goes on, crime has suddenly risen and armed gangs have taken to the streets since there are no ongoing police patrols.

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Fidel Castro’s reflections on the coup attempt against President Correa

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Havana, Sep 30 (Prensa Latina) “Unbelievable News” is the most recent reflection by the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro.

Prensa Latina provides the full text below:

Unbelievable News

When I was finishing a reflection about the destitution of Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba, unbelievable reports began to circulate from Ecuador. I’ve spent hours listening to them. As the minutes go by, the turmoil grows.

At 5:12pm, Cuban time, the condemnation to the coup multiplies. The most prestigious Latin American leaders, like Chavez and Evo, voice their strong denunciations. An assembled OAS is without alternative. Its members get angry and even Chinchilla protests; and Colombia’s new president has said he supports Correa.

President Rafael Correa is firm and unwavering. The people are much more organized. The coup, to my judgement, is already lost.

Even Obama and Clinton will have no other choice but to condemn it.

Fidel Castro

September 30, 2010

5:38 pm

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Coup Attempt in Ecuador Is a Result of Sec. Clinton’s Cowardice in Honduras

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By Al Giordano

Oh, crap. Another year, another coup in Latin America. And while today’s attempt by police forces in Ecuador went so far as to fire tear gas at elected president Rafael Correa, the military brass in the South American country have sided with the democratic order – its top general is on TV right now strongly backing the elected government – and this one isn’t likely to go as well for the anti-democracy forces as last year’s did in Honduras.

First, because the Ecuadorean people are far more advanced in social and community organization than their counterparts in Honduras were last year. Second, because the events last year in Honduras caused other center-left governments in the hemisphere to prepare for what everybody saw would be more coup attempts against them in more countries.

Additionally, we can expect in the coming hours that the police leaders responsible for todays events – you don’t need to understand Spanish to get a pretty good idea of what went down this morning by watching the above video – will be rounded up and brought to justice, as would happen in any other country, including the United States.

But, kind reader, do you know why this is even happening? Because the same unholy alliance of Latin American oligarchs who can’t stomach the rising wave of democracy in their countries – from the ex-Cubans of Miami to the ex-Venezuelans and others who have joined them in recent years – along with international crime organizations seeking new refuges and members of extreme rightist groups in the United States and elsewhere, saw their scheme work in 2009 in Honduras and took note of how quickly, after US President Barack Obama denounced the Honduras coup, his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began playing both sides of it.

It was this newspaper, through reporter Bill Conroy’s investigations, that broke the story last August that the State Department-controlled Millennium Challenge Corporation had poured extraordinary amounts of money into Honduras in the months leading up to the June 29, 2009 coup d’etat. And in story after story, we demonstrated with documented fact how Clinton’s Millennium Challenge Corporation went so far as to violate the ban on US aid to the Honduran coup regime. Clinton’s later endorsement of farcical presidential elections and her over-reaching attempts to pretend nothing had happened in Honduras are precisely the signals that were received by today’s coup plotters in Ecuador when they made a run at toppling the democratic government there.

At present, thankfully, the coup in Ecuador seems more likely to fail than to succeed. And there will be hell to pay for those behind it. But it didn’t have to get that far. That only happened because, last year, the US Secretary of State pulled off a kind of “silent coup” in US foreign policy while her commander in chief was buried with the urgent domestic tasks stemming off economic collapse and, as everyone knows, small nations get little attention almost always anyway.

This time, the White House would do well to put a much shorter leash on its Secretary of State, because her horrendous and unforgivable anti-democratic behavior regarding the Honduras coup only fueled, and continues to fuel, understandable speculation that if the United States doesn’t walk its talk about opposing coups d’etat, then it must have been an active participant in plotting it. The mishandling of the Honduras situation last year did lasting damage to President Obama’s stated hopes to turn the page in US relations with its closest neighbors after decades of abuse and neglect. A single misstep by Secretary Clinton today and in the future regarding the events in Ecuador, like those she repeatedly made regarding Honduras, now that the hemispheric coup plotters have moved from Central America to larger South America, will further erode the cause of democracy in the entire hemisphere. I don’t trust her. Nobody south of the border does. And nor should you, Mr. President.

Update: Narco News has translated today’s Statement from the Office of President Rafael Correa.

Update II: If it holds, this will be the first time in the history of the hemisphere that the Armed Forces of a country stood up against a coup d’etat from the first moment. Now, that would be democracy at work.

Update III: The situation in Ecuador today is further complicated by the disillusion that the very social forces that elected President Correa have with his actions in office. The CONAIE (Federation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) is the leading national indigenous movement with strong alliances with labor and other social forces) held a press conference today to say that it is neither with the police forces nor with President Correa. The CONAIE and its hundreds of thousands of participants is not only responsible for Correa’s election, but its mobilizations caused the rapid-fire resignations of previous presidents of Ecuador in this century.

The situation thus also shines a light on the growing rift in the hemisphere between the statist left and the indigenous left and related autonomy and labor movements. The CONAIE is basically saying to Correa, “you want our support, then enact the agenda you were elected on.” Whether one sees this as a dangerous game of brinkmanship or something that actually strengthens Correa’s hand by placing him in the middle zone ideologically, it is worth seeing this at face value and beware of getting led astray by some of the usual suspect conspiracy theorists of the statist left who are predictably out there barking that the CONAIE is somehow an agent of imperialism, dropping rumors of US AID funding but never seeming to exhibit the hard evidence. Sigh. What Johnny-One-Notes! They wouldn’t know nuance if it slapped them in the face. For them, you either line up lock-step with THE STATE (if it is “their” state) or you’re a running dog of capitalism. That kind of Stalinist purge mentality should have died with the previous century.

The CONAIE’s grievances happen to be very legitimate. Of course, they do not justify a coup d’etat, but the CONAIE is not participating in or supporting the coup d’etat. It is saying to Correa; we’ll have your back, when you have ours. This, like the Armed Forces support for Correa, is also a historical first in the region. And the plot thickens…

Update IV: A boilerplate statement from the US State Department:

We are closely following events in Ecuador. The United States deplores violence and lawlessness and we express our full support for President Rafael Correa, and the institutions of democratic government in that country.

We urge all Ecuadorians to come together and to work within the framework of Ecuador’s democratic institutions to reach a rapid and peaceful restoration of order.

Now let’s see if they walk that talk…

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Chavez Warns Of Coup Attempt On Correa; Offers Support

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By Dan Molinski

CARACAS (Dow Jones)–Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, responding to unrest in Ecuador Thursday, said via his Twitter account that forces are aiming to “take down” President Rafael Correa.

A statement from Venezuela’s Communications Ministry confirmed the Twitter message and said Chavez expressed his “absolute support” to Correa as he faces the “coup attempt.”

“They’re trying to take down President Correa,” Chavez said on the social-networking site, where he has about 900,000 followers. “Long live Correa.”

Chavez didn’t say who or what groups he believes are specifically trying for a coup against Correa, but urged fellow leftists in the region to “be on alert.”

Correa, one of Chavez’ close allies in South America, said earlier Thursday that widespread protests by police and others were an attempt to destabilize his government.

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Ecuador in turmoil as president denounces ‘coup attempt’

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By Alexander Martinez (AFP)

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa (C), wearing a gas mask, is helped to evacuate the Regimiento Quito barracks

QUITO — Ecuador was plunged into political crisis Thursday as troops seized the country’s main airport and stormed the Congress building in what President Rafael Correa denounced as an attempted coup.

About 150 renegade troops seized a runway at Ecuador’s international airport in the capital of the South American nation, as dozens of police protested on the streets against a new law which would strip them of some pay bonuses.

Dozens of police units took over government buildings in the country’s other two main cities, Guayaquil and Cuenca, and Foreign Minister Ricardo Pitino blamed the insurrection on “sectors aiming to overthrow the government.”

The uprising occurred as Correa was in the hospital recovering from an operation on his knee, and the president said he was seeking refuge in the building fearing for his life.

“It is a coup attempt led by the opposition and certain sections of the armed forces and the police,” Correa told local television.

“Whatever happens to me I want to express my love for my family and my homeland.”

Correa charged some police had tried to storm his hospital room Thursday.

The Ecuadoran leader has vowed he will not bow in face of the protests, as the army chief threw his weight behind the Ecuadoran leader and vowed to restore order.

Rebellious police personnel shout slogans at the Regimiento Quito barracks

“No, I will not step back, if they want to seize the barracks, if they want to leave the citizens defenseless and betray their mission,” Correa said earlier in a speech to soldiers from Quito’s main regiment.

The largest demonstrations erupted in Quito where tear gas was used to try to disperse the crowds.

“The troops united will never be defeated,” the demonstrators chanted, with some calling on the troops to join in the demonstrations.

But army chief Ernesto Gonzalez on Thursday threw his full support behind Correa, who was said to be considering dissolving Congress and holding snap elections to resolve the political crisis.

“We live in a state which is governed by laws, and we are subordinate to the highest authority which is the president of the republic,” Gonzalez told a press conference.

“We will take whatever appropriate action the government decides on,” he added.

Police chief Freddy Martinez also rushed to the scene of the demonstrations to call for calm, but was met with a hostile reception.

The leftist Correa was re-elected last year to a second term as president of the country of some 14.5 million people, which is bordered by Colombia and Peru.

International election observers at the time criticized Correa’s “dominant” media presence in the run up to the vote, which they said had damaged the poll’s fairness.

Since first coming to power in 2006, Correa has proven controversial because of his close ties to regional leftists like Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The US-educated economist took a tough stance with investors and refused to repay foreign debt, in moves welcomed by supporters who blamed the effects of the economic crisis on foreign liberalism.

Correa had nearly two years left of his current term, but a new constitution approved in 2008 let him bid to start over again.

Correa promised to pursue popular social programs funded by oil wealth in the OPEC nation where 38 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

His reelection was seen as giving some stability to the world’s top banana exporter that has seen three of its previous presidents — between 1996 and 2006 — ousted before the end of their terms.

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NATO Kills Four Children in Afghan Attack

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A district government official in Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province is confirming today that NATO attack helicopters targeted a group of civilians in an orchard near the town of Andar, killing four children and wounding three other civilians.

The attack came after unknown insurgents fired on the troops. NATO had initially claimed that all four children killed in the attack were “insurgents” but now says it is investigating the local government’s reports to the contrary.

It is the second major attack invoving civilian deaths this week. On Sunday NATO launched air strikes in two provinces, and despite initially claiming that only “70 Taliban” were killed it was later revealed that one of the strikes had actually hit a civilian target, killing at least 13.

Civilian deaths have been on the rise for months in Afghanistan, with fighting between insurgent and occupation forces taking an increasing toll on those caught in between them. The Afghan government has repeatedly complained about civilian killings by NATO troops, but the recent trend has been toward relaxing the rules of engagement amid claims it was harming morale.

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Reconstituting Nepal

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By Martin Searle
September 29, 2010

In Thamel, the tourist centre of Kathmandu, haggling is a production on par with the imitation Bollywood climaxes of Nepal’s stunted film industry. It pays to show some local knowledge while negotiating for a yak-bone statuette, or an authentic pashmina woven from the hair of the changthangi. Right now the street hawkers are mostly interested in pouring scorn on politicians as they fail again and again to elect a new prime minister.

Nepal’s three major parties can agree on very little, but the Nepali Congress Party and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) accord on at least one issue: keeping the Maoists away from power. As parties with core constituencies among the social and economic elite, Congress and the UML fret over the Maoist plan to redistribute land. Somewhat paradoxically, the Maoists intend the redistribution to transform Nepal’s feudal economy into a capitalist one—it is only after a prolonged period of capitalism that they will progress down Marx’s historical continuum to their “communist utopia.” Furthermore, Congress and the UML are worried about the continued existence of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army—a legacy from the recent civil war.

According to the stipulations of Nepal’s interim constitution, Congress and the UML have the ability to block the Maoists from forming a government; alone, however, they remain unable to form a workable administration capable of achieving the task for which the public elected them: drafting a new constitution. This can only happen with Maoist support as it is the largest party in the Constituent Assembly, Nepal’s interim parliament.

Similarly the Maoists need the support of the other parties to make progress writing the constitution; yet they continue to alienate Congress and the UML by denouncing their opponents’ “feudal tendencies,” and by proposing unworkable rights, such as a right to basic health care when Nepal has only 1,300 doctors in the public system. Seven attempts have been made to elect a new prime minister in the last three months. The people grow ever more frustrated.

Nepal has had six constitutions over the last six decades. Its latest attempt to reconstitute itself follows a civil war that lasted from 1996 to 2006 between the Maoists and the state. During this time, the Maoists took over effective control of vast swaths of the country, expelling the state and administering government themselves. Despite the end of hostilities and entry of the Maoists into mainstream politics in the 2008 election (in which they gained an overwhelming majority), the ineffectiveness of the state is still manifested in many areas.

The UN’s chosen proxy for state reach—the presence of Village Development Committee (VDC) secretaries—shows that as of December 2009 only 42 percent of VDCs have a full-time VDC secretary present in the duty station, and 39 percent of VDC secretaries are either partially present or providing services from district headquarters. As such, the state is inadequately represented, or completely unrepresented, in over half of the country.

Furthermore, even where there are normal functioning VDCs—the lowest level of the state edifice—they remain irrelevant to the daily life of most Nepalese people. Village government generally consists of informal groups organised by villagers themselves, often along caste or gender lines. In Mattikhan Village, just outside Nepal’s economic second city of Pokhara, Brahmin and Dalit women’s groups take turns tidying the village; men’s groups have implemented savings cooperatives to provide some social security; a school is being built, and teachers recruited, with no state involvement; families all organize employment for their sons abroad. In short, people routinely have very little interaction with the state.

This situation is familiar for Nepal. The Nepalese state has probably never wielded the exclusive sovereignty and authority that Max Weber required of modern states: it has never successfully “nationalized” the use of violence or political administration. For most of its history, what we now call Nepal was a network of kingdoms, fiefdoms, and city-states inhabited by peoples of a variety of cultures, and often with quite different histories and religions. Due to the mountainous terrain, even groups that lived in close proximity often had comparatively little contact with one another and evolved remarkably independently over expansive periods of time.

From 1744–1769, these distinct entities were conquered one by one by Prithvi Narayan Shah, the Hindu King of Gorkha, and united into a single state. For approximately 100 bloody years the kingship was earned through intrigue and ruthless murder within the royal family, rather than inherited through direct lineage. Ultimately, the office of king was usurped by that of prime minister when Jung Bahadur Rana seized the latter position, declared it hereditary, and took de facto power. In this way, the monarchy was made purely ceremonial, ending the Shah reign and ushering in the Rana dynasty. But crucially, perhaps in acknowledgment of the huge cultural diversity that was carried over into the young state (or because its central concern was simple allegiance rather than governance), the Rana regime happily continued the subcontracting of critical state functions such as levying taxes or administering justice to local agents.

A popular movement ended the Rana dynasty in 1951 and installed a short-lived democratic system. The democracy’s failure to function adequately moved the people to accept the old monarchy’s return to power in 1960. This heralded the beginning of a one-party system known as the Panchayat regime, which thoroughly subscribed to modernization theory and sought to shape Nepal accordingly. In its quest for development, the Panchayat regime proceeded to deny Nepal’s cultural diversity by suppressing what came to be constructed as the “indigenous peoples.” They did this by imposing a unitary “Nepali” identity modeled on the identity of the high-caste Hindu elite, labeling other value systems and other ways of life as backward. Thus the high-caste Hindus were advantaged considerably, and this legacy persists today.

While it is certainly true that many economic indicators improved somewhat during this period, the extension and centralization of the state remained incomplete. For example, while a nationwide courts system was introduced, justice often remained within the purview of local communities and was realized in line with customary norms and practices. Once again the state did not wield extensive sovereignty. Indeed, with the official suppression of cultural difference, the propensity to enforce local values was arguably enhanced and even performed as a demonstration of resistance. The popularity of the Maoist insurgency, which grew despite the return of democracy to Nepal in 1991, and which was compounded by King Gyanendra’s seizure of absolute power in 2002, was due in large part to this suppression and elite dominance.

Given these historical and contemporary vacuums of state power, the Nepalese people have become accustomed to functioning with insufficient or absent state government, and imperfect but effective non-state methods of government have become entrenched. Some villages largely govern themselves, and the state’s inability to provide regular policing and security in parts of the country has prompted other organizations, predominantly political parties, to fill the gap. The Young Communist League (YCL), the youth wing of the Maoist party, more or less is the police force in Maoist strongholds. In such jurisdictions the public largely ignores the regular police and instead approaches the YCL directly to report crimes. For example, the YCL violently punished a number of Kirat Janabadi Workers Party agents for extorting local businessmen in Bhojpur. The UML has now created its own “Youth Front” for a similar “policing” purpose, and Congress is seemingly on the verge of doing the same.

These observations are crucial, as they provide a context to which the future state institutions must be sensitive. If and when Nepal does finally promulgate its constitution, the newly constructed institutions could potentially be in competition with these non-state service providers. The state is at a sizable disadvantage in this contest. First, it has been irrelevant to the lives of many people and these alternative governance mechanisms appear well entrenched. Second, where the state’s presence has been felt, it remains tainted by the legacy of the homogeneous identity it imposed, and by atrocities it committed during the decade-long civil war. Consequently, communities continue to be alienated from it. Third, if the Nepalese state seeks to monopolize the provision of security, in the short term it will risk undermining the effectiveness currently provided by non-state groups. If this happens, the state will be held responsible by the public for undermining service provision. As such, it will likely lose legitimacy while seeking to overcome these parallel state structures.

As such, any attempt to extend the state runs the risk of provoking fierce resistance. This needs to be kept in mind as the drafters of Nepal’s constitution, and any development experts guiding them, shape the new state. While the existence of parallel state structures might be considered destabilizing (and provoke alarm given the potential of Maoist ideology to produce totalitarian regimes), there may be little alternative, at least in the short term.

Thus Nepal’s experience leads us to challenge the straightforward transplant approach to state reconstruction: The dynamics of legitimacy prevent a simple recreation of a Western state structure in a recipient country from scratch. This is a common lesson from the globalization of ideas: Context is important. But in Nepal, contextual sensitivity is forcing us to countenance a further concern. Successful state-building in Nepal—an ethical demand in itself—may require the state to coexist in the short term (and possibly beyond) with morally arbitrary (or even clearly immoral) non-state service-providers. This poses an ethical dilemma that demands a political solution.

Yet Nepal’s politicians continue to take their cue from the country’s street traders and haggle unreasonably over the position of prime minister. If progress is not made soon, these concerns over state structuring, and others like them, may be decided through more violent means.

Source

First of May Anarchist Alliance on FRSO-FB Raids: We Have Their Backs

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The following was received by the Kasama Project.

Hands off the Anti-War movement! Defend FRSO

Anarchist Solidarity against the Political Police

We stand firmly opposed to the raids carried out by the FBI, America’s political police, against a number of anti-war and labor activists across the country on Friday, September 24th, 2010. We give our solidarity to those threatened by these raids and to those subpoenaed to appear before a government Grand Jury next month. These attacks must be resisted.

The FBI claims the raids were done in order to combat terrorism. We reject that lie. We know many of the activists attacked personally and have shared the frontlines with them in struggles against war and poverty and for freedom and justice. We have had, and will continue to have, serious disagreements with them. But let no one doubt – WE HAVE THEIR BACKS.

The FBI, and the government they serve, are the real terrorists. It was the FBI that carried out a program of assassination, repression, and disruption of the Black Panther Party and other movements for Black Liberation. It was the FBI that waged a brutal campaign of harassment, intimidation and murder against the American Indian Movement and other Native activists.

It is the U.S. government that operates as an empire with military occupations of countries all over the world like Iraq, Afghanistan, & Haiti and underwriting repression and occupation in Palestine, Colombia, Somalia and elsewhere.

The U.S. empire and their agents have no moral standing whatsoever to label these activists “terrorists” – and no right to dictate to anyone who around the world we can and cannot visit, dialogue with, or support.

It should be clear to those with open eyes that the Obama regime has more in common than not with Bush. They both serve the same capitalist system and imperial state. Obama’s government has now extended the undemocratic attacks begun under Bush against Muslim communities and organizations to groups and networks of the Left.

We should carefully analyze the government’s choice of timing and targets, and also begin building solidarity and defense. We must make it clear that “An Injury to One is an Injury to All”. We must give our friends the resources and support to fight this unjust harassment – and also begin preparing or re-preparing our communities and organizations for social self-defense against this kind of repression, including the basic principal that we do not co-operate with or talk to the FBI.

The dedicated organizing in defense of the RNC 8 in Minnesota is a good example that can be built upon. We should begin discussing what it would take to unite all those (excluding the fascists and white supremacists) that have faced state repression into some common action. From the Muslim community, to the targets of the “Green Scare”, to the spied upon anti war activists in Iowa, to those activists hit by these most recent raids – we need to push back together.

Solidarity!

First of May Anarchist Alliance
m1aa@riseup.net

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First of May Anarchist Alliance is a new anarchist organization being built on four pillars:

1) a commitment to revolution
2) an orientation to the working classes
3) a non-doctrinaire brand of anarchism and
4) a non-sectarian and multi-layered approach to organization.