Category Archives: Prison System

FARC chooses Ricardo Palmera for peace negotiator

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The following article below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization

September 9, 2012

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) have chosen Ricardo Palmera as one of their negotiators for Colombian peace talks. Professor Palmer is a political prisoner held in solitary confinement by the U.S. government in the Florence, Colorado Supermax prison. Palmera’s supporters in Colombia and around the world are demanding that Palmera be set free and that the U.S. government stop interfering in Colombia’s internal affairs. The FARC put Palmera’s name forward as one of the three main negotiators after peace negotiations were announced last week.

Over the past six months the revolutionaries of FARC have held exploratory talks with Colombian government representatives of President Santos. Negotiations will take place in October in Oslo, Norway, to be followed by more negotiations in Havana, Cuba, with Venezuela and Chile acting as observers. The FARC is advancing a people’s agenda that includes land reform for family farms, good jobs, healthcare, education, housing and the eradication of poverty. There is a great need for guarantees concerning the assassination and murder of trade unionists, community organizers and political candidates.

Tom Burke of the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera said, “The U.S. government has no right to put Colombian revolutionaries on trial or in prison. The U.S. should pursue the crimes against and murders of union workers, poor peasants and indigenous people by Chiquita, Coca-Cola, Drummond Coal and big U.S. oil companies. The U.S. government ignores those crimes while militarily fighting the FARC and wrongfully punishing revolutionary leaders like Professor Palmera. The U.S. government should set Ricardo Palmera free immediately so he can plan a role in negotiations.”

The current FARC/Colombian government agreement advocates “Bilateral and definitive cease of fire and hostilities,” so the FARC proposed a bi-lateral cease-fire this week. President Santos immediately rejected it and demanded a one-sided cease-fire by FARC. President Santos’ negative response makes it likely these negotiations will be a contentious process.

The last time peace negotiations took place in 1998-2002, the FARC continued to wage war against the Colombian military. A decade before that, the FARC called a ceasefire in the mid-1980s while negotiating. This ceasefire led to the formation of Colombia’s most successful left political party, the Patriotic Union. However the Patriotic Union suffered close to 5000 assassinations and murders at the hands of the Colombian military and government death squads over the next few years. It was at this time that Ricardo Palmera left the Patriotic Union and joined the FARC in fighting the corrupt Colombian government. The U.S. government continues to spend nearly $1 billion per year funding, arming, training and directing the Colombian military.

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Syrian rebels committing war crimes, executing POWs

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August 2, 2012

A horrifying amateur video from Syria emerged online, showing an apparent mass execution of Assad supporters in Aleppo at the hands of rebels from the Free Syria Army.

The footage shows several bloodied men stripped down to their underwear being forced to kneel by a wall amidst a throng of excited, machine gun-touting men.

Once their captors open fire, the camera jerks away as the crowd momentarily disperses, seemingly unprepared for the nearly 40 seconds of uninterrupted shooting that follows. As the gunfire dies down, shouts of “Allahu Akbar!” resound as the once skittish onlookers victoriously raise their guns in the air, approaching what appears to be a pile of stripped-down corpses.

One of the victims has been identified as Ali Zein Al-Abidin Al-barri; the rebels accused him and his family of killing 15 FSA soldiers during a truce in Aleppo on Tuesday.

The video depicting the apparent massacre has not been verified, though the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said such vengeance was a crime as Islamic law does not authorize the execution of prisoners.

Clive Baldwin, a senior legal adviser for Human Rights Watch (HRW), told BBC News: “What it looks like is execution of detainees and if that is the case, that would be a war crime.”

Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gennady Gatilov condemned the shooting. “The brutal massacre of government supporters by the opposition in the city of Aleppo shows that human rights violations are being committed by both sides,” he wrote on Twitter.

It is not the first time that reports have emerged of rebels carrying out executions against pro-Assad forces without trial.

Ahmed, a rebel fighter from the Amr bin al-Aas brigade which operates in the Syrian town of Azaz, recounted the execution of a Syrian army sniper named Rami who was shot dead after a graveside “trial,” Reuters reports.

Ahmed says Rami was firing from the top of a high minaret at a local mosque before he was captured.

“We took him right to his grave and, after hearing the witnesses’ statements, we shot him dead,” the agency sites Ahmed as saying.

Ahmed made it clear that his forces often capture “handfuls of soldiers” in battle, saying that his men would create courts for the captured men and execute them.

However, when pressed on the specifics of creating makeshift courts to justify killing those captured in battle, Ahmed remained stoic.

“The culture of lawyers has long passed. I mean a guy like that,” Ahmed said, referring to the slain sniper Rami, “what do you think his fate should be?”

Such extra-judicial killings might be a sign of things to come if the 17-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad spins further out of control.

Asia Times Online correspondent Pepe Escobar told RT that such massacres occur “all the time” in today’s Syria.  He believes, however, that summary executions of this nature will push minorities to fight against the rebels.

“I received this video from a source in Arabic, and then I asked for a translation. This is a very important clan in Northern Aleppo.  Some of them were executed in cold blood, this is what this two and a half minute video shows. This is an extended clan. They have like 20,000 brothers, sisters and extended family in this tribal clan,” Escobar said.

“So this means that all of these people, instead of being recruited to the opposition, now they will fight the opposition because they are being executed in cold blood. This explains, among other things, why Christians all over Syria are taking up arms to defend themselves. Because they know if there is a post-Assad controlled [government] by Sunni hardcore elements, including Salafi jihadists, they are going to be unprotected minorities. At the moment they are protected minorities under the Assad regime,” he continued.

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One Year in Prison: Letter from Julian Conrado to the People

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By Julian Conrado
June 8, 2012

From my trench of dignity

Those of us who turn singing into a manifestation of love for the people, we’re always going to be hated by the enemies of the people. That’s why they insult us, slander us, persecute us, jail us, torture us, make us disappear, and kill us. However we express ourselves, this is what has always happened to those who, because of pure love for the people, struggle for their happiness.

But those who imprison a fighter for the love of the people should know that no one has ever been freer than Antonio Nariño in the Cartegena tombs and Francisco de Miranda in the Spanish empire jail [Translator: both were independence fighters], that no one has ever been freer than the five Cuban heroes, or Simon and Sonia [Colombian guerrillas] in the dungeons of North American imperialism, that no one has ever been freer than [Venezuelan communist singer] Ali Primera in the basements of the DIGEPOL [Venezuela’s Intelligence Service, under previous governments] or Hugo Chavez in the cells of the DIM, the Yare jail or the Orchila island.

Those who kill a fighter for the love of the people should know that no one has ever been so alive as Jesus, crucified on Mount Calvary, that no one has been more alive than Ernesto Che Guevara, shot in La Higuera [Bolivia], that no one has been more alive than Alfonso Cano, bombed in the Colombian mountains… Don’t the indignant of Spain feel Miguel Hernandez and Federico Garica Lorca?  Those Allende-ing in Chile don’t feel [the presence of] Victor Jara and Pablo Neruda?

Isn’t Ali Primera felt Bolivar-ing in Venezuela?

Sisters and brothers with dreams of peace with justice and love:

This 31 May marks a year since I became a prisoner on land of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Since my extradition to Colombia or the United States isn’t fair in any way, now the hairy hand of the oligarchy oppressor that strangles my country, regretting not having killed me the day of my capture, has invented a new plan that consists of killing me in prison.

I want the enemies of peace in my country to know that I am more than just a man, I’m a hymn of the poor of the land, a hymn that now, imprisoned, is sung more, is heard more, is danced to more… so what if they kill me?

But… how will they manage to kill a song that blooms in the heart of the people?

Sisters and brothers: despite my difficult physical problems and the uncomfortableness of imprisonment, morally, I feel fine; like a Guayacan [tree]! This metal and cement cage, I’ve converted it into an unyielding trench of dignity, from where I continue resisting and firing Bolivarian verses for the de-privatisation of the planet and its salvation, as well as for the freedom of the 99% of humanity – enslaved to the point of terror, by the heartless capitalist beast.

With a guitar full of red stars, that the young singer Ali Manaure brought me, visiting hours are a true party of fraternal revolutionary happiness. Here I’ve had the immense honour of singing with Gloria Martin, Lilia Vera, Chiche Manaure, Sol Musset de Primera, Amaranta Pérez, Sandino Primera, Lil Rodríguez, Centauro Saher, Oswaldo Mussett, the poet Neybis Bracho, Gino González, Víctor Moreno of the IVEN band, the poet Elí Briceño, Armando López, the journalists Indira Carpio and Ernesto Navarro, Luis Miguel Badaraco of the Cantera Collective, David Gómez “Lucerna”, Floridimar, the poet Carlos Angúlo, Carlos Ruíz, Tamanaco “tocapalma”, Sandino Márquez, Manuel Azuaje, the photographer Paz Capielo, Aura and Alfredo of Neruda Culture, the Argentine Gerardo “cumbia del sur”, Paula, Jhonalbert and Edwin of the R, who else?, Javier, Cira, Carlitos “comrade”, Daniela… the list peaks and grows longer.

But furthermore, from all the points of light of Venezuela, of Our America, they are sending me loving hugs of solidarity and manifesting their unconditional support to the movement for my freedom and political asylum.

My sisters and brothers,  thank you for so much love, but I ask you for more: I ask you from the bottom of my heart that you help the children of the people of the tormented Colombia to get out of the horrible night that we have been kept in for so many years, by the exploiting classes.

The struggle of the Colombian people is about to return to the light of sublime freedom!

We can’t stand seeing our flag trodden on by the invading military boat of imperialism. We want a national, patriotic, democratic, and Bolivarian government! We want reconciliation and national reconstruction, we want economic and ecological development with social justice, we want, finally, peace, with justice and love.

Now I remember, that night under rain of bombs and bullets… my companion and myself, we kissed. Don’t worry my love, I said, if they kill us, we’ll leave a beautiful example of dignity behind. She told me she thought the same. So then we hugged more strongly and we waited. But such a death didn’t come… surely it was scared of so much love. The same thing happened in the little town of Altamira de Caceres, that other night of terror on the 31 May 2011: Love again defeated parched death!

My people: From prison I send you a liberated hug! Dammit!

Loving, we overcome!

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Victory! Charges against Leslie Feinberg dropped

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June 8, 2012

Comrades Jess Sundin, member of FRSO and Committee to Stop FBI Repression, and Leslie Feinberg celebrate after all charges were dropped during Leslie’s arraignment on June 8, 2012.

Activists in Minneapolis report on today’s arraignment of trans activist and author Leslie Feinberg, arrested for participating in a protest against the racist, transphobic conviction and sentencing of CeCe McDonald:

“The state decided to not press ANY charges against Leslie. However at any time in the next 3 years they can decide to reopen the case and file misdemeanor charges. But the threat of felony charges is now passed. The campaign to win Freedom for CeCe McDonald will continue!”

Thanks everyone who called and put the pressure on Minneapolis prosecutors to drop the charges!

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Leslie Feinberg jailed for solidarity with Chrishaun McDonald

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The following article below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Bail posted, still calling for everyone to “Support CeCe!”

June 6, 2012

Minneapolis, MN – On the evening of June 4, Leslie Feinberg, a renowned transgender activist and author of Stone Butch Blues and Trans Liberation, was arrested for showing solidarity with Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald.

CeCe McDonald is a 24-year-old African American transgender woman who was walking with a group of her friends in Minneapolis on the night of June 5, 2011. As CeCe and her friends walked by the Schooner Tavern, a group of white bar patrons began shouting racist and transphobic slurs at them. One of the women in the group smashed her beer glass across CeCe’s face. In CeCe’s struggle to defend her life from this violent attack, one of her attackers died. CeCe was quickly arrested and charged with two counts of second degree murder. In May 2012, CeCe accepted a plea agreement to a reduced charge of second degree manslaughter by negligence, and on June 4 she received a 41-month prison sentence. On June 5, 2012, she was transferred to a men’s prison in Saint Cloud, Minnesota.

Leslie Feinberg is currently being held in the Hennepin County Jail and has been charged with felony property damage. Bail was posted June 6 and supporters are awaiting Feinberg’s release. At 8:30 a.m. on June 7, Feinberg will appear in court for arraignment.

Feinberg has been a vocal supporter of CeCe’s, showing deep dedication to raising awareness about McDonald’s case and connecting her fight with broader struggles.

Feinberg was arrested almost exactly a year – within the hour – after the attack against CeCe and her friends that led to CeCe’s arrest. Leslie Feinberg and CeCe spent the night of June 4, 2012 in the same jail, before CeCe was transferred to Saint Cloud on the morning of the June 5. Feinberg has been extremely clear that their actions have been in solidarity with CeCe, intended to draw greater attention to the injustice that CeCe is facing.

Victory Against Repression: Carlos Montes Court Case Ends in Victory!

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The following statement below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization:

By Committee to Stop FBI Repression
June 5, 2012

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement from the LA Committee to Stop FBI Repression.

Los Angeles, CA – On June 5, 2012 Carlos Montes’ criminal court prosecution ended in a victory for Carlos and the movement.

Carlos Montes’ home was raided on May 17, 2011, by the combined forces of the LA County Sheriff’s Swat Team and the FBI, by crashing his door down at 5:00 a.m., with automatic assault rifles drawn, almost killing him. He was charged with 6 serious felonies with a possible jail time of up to 18 years.

With local and national support, via solidarity protests, call-in campaigns to President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Holder, local rallies and protests, and an offensive legal strategy, two felonies were dropped – this was a first partial victory. However the District Attorney still stated that they wanted Montes to do at least 5 years in state prison for the 4 felony charges remaining.

The local and national Committees to Stop FBI Repression launched a petition drive and a “Call the D.A.” campaign, with phone banking and a robo call by Carlos to over 4 000 supporters, urging folks to call District Attorney Steve Cooley. The D.A.’s office was flooded with calls and letters.

Montes’ attorney made several motions to get charges dropped on various grounds, but the Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected them. Preparations were made for a trial, knowing well the state judicial system is not ‘fair and impartial.’ Montes and his attorney Jorge Gonzalez got widespread support and media coverage including in the Democracy Now TV show, La Opinion and the Guardian UK newspaper.

The local D.A. on the case then sought for a resolution and proposed to drop three additional felonies, if Carlos pled “no contest” to one count of perjury. This proposal included no jail time, three years of probation and community service. Under advice from supporters, friends and his attorney Montes moved forward with this proposal.

This is a victory for Carlos Montes and the movement against police political repression. A trial had the danger of him being convicted of four felonies with jail time and the additional old felony – a total of 5 felonies. At this point Carlos is out of jail, will continue to organize against repression, for public education, against U.S.-led wars and for immigrant rights. He is already planning to attend the protest at the Republican National Convention on August 27, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.

Next steps: The local committee with supporters and rank-and-file members of SEIU 721 will hold a victory party to thank everyone who worked on this campaign and to help pay off legal expenses. It is set for Saturday, June 23, 7:00 p.m. Details will follow.

Carlos wants to thank all the people, organizations, unions and community people who worked and supported him in this struggle against police/political repression.

The struggle continues to defend the 23 other anti-war and international solidarity activists who are STILL under an FBI investigation for showing solidarity with the oppressed people of the world, especially the Palestinian and Colombian people. Stay updated via: www.stopfbi.net!

When the respectable become extremists, the extremists become respectable: Colombia and the mainstream media

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By James Petras
May 20, 2012

By any historical measure, whether it involves international law, human rights conventions, United Nations protocols, socio economic indicators, the policies and practices of the United States and European Union regimes can be characterized as extremist.

By that we mean that their policies and practices result in large scale long-term systematic destruction of human lives, habitat and likelihood affecting millions of people through the direct application of force and violence. The extremist regimes abhor moderation which implies rejection of total wars in favor of peaceful negotiations. Moderation pursues conflict resolution through diplomacy and compromise and the rejection of state and paramilitary terror, mass dispossession and displacement of civilian populations and the systematic assault on popular sectors of civil society.

The first decade of the 21st century has witnessed the West’s embrace of extremism in all of its manifestation both in domestic and foreign policy. Extremism is a common practice by self-styled conservatives, liberals and social-democrats. In the past, conservative implies preserving the status quo and at most tinkering with change at the margins. Today’s ‘conservatives’ demand the wholesale dismantling of entire social welfare systems, the elimination of traditional legal restraints on labor and environmental abuses. Liberals and social democrats who in the past, occasionally, questioned colonial systems have been in the forefront of prolonged multiple colonial wars which have killed and displaced millions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.

Extremism both in terms of methods, means and goals has obliterated the distinctions between center left, center and rightwing politicians. Moderate opponents to policies subsidizing a dozen major banks and impoverishing tens of millions of workers are called the “hard left”, “extremists” or “radicals”.

In the wake of the extremist policies of public officials, the respectable, prestigious print media have engaged in their own versions of extremism [1]. Colonial wars that devastate civil society and materially and culturally impoverish millions in the colonized country are justified, embellished and made to appear as lawful, humane and furthering secular democratic values. Domestic wars on behalf of oligarchies and against wage and salaried workers, which concentrate wealth and deepen despair of the dispossessed are described as rational, virtuous and necessary. The distinctions between the prudent, balanced, prestigious and serious media and the sensationalist, yellow press have disappeared. The fabrication of facts, blatant omissions and distortions of context are found in one as well as the other.

To illustrate the reign of extremism in officialdom and among the prestigious press, we will examine two case studies: US policies toward and the Financial Times and New York Times reportage on Colombia and Honduras.

Colombia: The “Oldest Democracy in Latin America versus “the Death squad Capital of the World”

Following on the heels of euphoric eulogies of Colombia’s emergence as a poster boy in an April issue of Time, and in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, the Financial Times ran a series of articles including a special insert on Colombia’s political and economic “miracle”, “Investing in Colombia” [2]. According to the FTs leading Latin American journalist, one John Paul Rathbone, Colombia is the “oldest democracy in the hemisphere” [3]. Rathbone’s rapture for Colombia’s President Santos extends from his role as an “emerging power broker” for the South American continent, to making Colombia safe for foreign investors and “exciting the envy” of other less successful regimes in the region. Rathbone gives prominence to one Colombia business leader who claims that Colombia’s second biggest city “Medellín is living through its best of times” [4]. In line with the opinion of the foreign and business elite, the respectable print media describe Colombia as prosperous, peaceful, business friendly-charging the lowest mining royalty payments in the hemisphere – a model of a stable democracy to be emulated by all forward-looking leaders. Colombia under President Santos, has signed a free trade agreement with President Obama, his closes ally in the hemisphere [5]. Under Bush the trade unions, human rights and church groups and the majority of Congressional Democrats were successful in blocking the agreement on the bases of the basis of Colombia’s sustained human rights violations. When Obama embraced the free trade agreement, the AFL-CIO and Democratic opposition evaporated, as President Obama claimed a vast improvement in human rights and the commitment of Santos to ending the murder of trade union leaders and activists [6].

The peace, security and prosperity eulogized by the oil, mining, banking, and agro-business elite are based on the worst human rights record in Latin America. With regard to the murder of trade unionists Colombia exceeds the entire rest of the world. Between 1986-2011 over 60% of the trade unionists assassinated in the world took place in Colombia, by the combined military-police-paramilitary forces, largely at the behest of foreign and domestic corporate leaders [7]. The “peace” that Rathbone and his cohort at the Financial Times praise is at the cost of over 12,000 assassinations and arrests, injuries, disappearances of trade unionists between January 1, 1986 and October 1, 2010[8]. In that time span nearly 3,000 trade union leaders and activists were murdered, hundreds were kidnapped or disappeared. President Santos was the Defense Minister under previous President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010). In those eight years, 762 trade union leaders and activists were murdered, over 95% by the state or allied paramilitary forces [9].

Under Presidents Uribe Santos 2002 – 2012 over 4 million peasants and rural householders were displaced and dispossessed of their homes and their lands were confiscated and taken over by landlords and narco-traffickers [10]. The terror tactics employed by the regimes counter-insurgency strategy served a dual purpose of repressing dissent and accumulating wealth. The Financial Times journalists ignore this chapter in Colombia’s “resurgent growth”. They are especially enthused by the “security” that ensued because large scale foreign investment, over $6 billion dollars, in 2012 flowed into mining and oil regions that were formerly “troubled” by unrest [11].

Leading drug lords, who were closely linked to the Uribe-Santos regime, and were subsequently jailed and extradited to the US, have testified that they financed and elected one-third of the Congress people affiliated with Uribe-Santos party in what Rathbone refers to as Latin America’s “oldest democracy”. According to Salvatore Mancuso, ex-chief of the former 30,000 member United Self-Defense of Colombia paramilitary death squad, he met with then, President Uribe, in different regions of the country and gave him money and logistical support in his re-election campaign of 2006. He also affirmed that many national and multi-national corporations (MNC) financed the growth and expansion of the paramilitary death squads. What Rathbone and his fellow journalists at the FT celebrate as Colombia’s emergence as an investor’s paradise is writ large with the blood and gore of thousands of Colombian peasants, trade unionists and human rights activists. The gory history of the Uribe/Santos reign of terror has been completely omitted from the current account of Colombia’s “success story”. Detailed records of the brutality of the killings and torture by Uribe/Santos sponsored death squads, which describe the use of chain saws to cut limbs from peasants suspected of leftist sympathies, are available to any journalist willing to consult Colombia’s leading human rights organizations [12].

The death squads and military act in concert. The military is trained by over one thousand US Special Forces advisers. They arrive in a village in a wave of US supplied helicopters, secure the region from guerillas and then allow the AUC terrorists to savage the villages, killing, raping and disemboweling men, women and children suspected of being guerilla sympathizers. The terror tactics have driven millions of peasants out of the countryside

Allowing the generals and drug lords to seize their land

Human rights advocates (HRA) are frequently targeted by the military and death squads. President Uribe and Santos first accuse them of being active collaborators of the guerillas for exposing the regime’s crimes against humanity. Once they are labeled, the HRA became “legitimate targets” for armed assaults by the death squads and the military who act with complete impunity. Between 2002-2011, 1,470 acts of violence were perpetrated against HRA, with a record number of 239 in 2011, including 49 assassinations during the Presidency of Santos. [13] Over half of the murdered HRA are Indians and Afro-Colombians.

State terrorism was and continues to be the main instrument of rule under Presidents Uribe and Santos. The Colombian “killing fields” according to the Fiscalia General include tens of thousands of homicides, 1,597 massacres, thousands of forced disappearances between 2005 – 2010 [14].

The practice, revealed in the Colombian press, of “false positives” in which the military kidnaps poor young men, dresses them as guerrillas and then assassinates them, comes across in the respectable US print media as evidence of Santos/Uribe’s military successes against the guerrillas. There are 2,472 documented cases of military false positive murders [15].

Honduras: New York Times and State Terrorism

The New York Times featured an article on Honduras, emphasizing the regime’s “co-operation” with the US drug war.[16] The Times writer Thom Shanker speaks of a “partnership” based on the expansion of three new US military bases and the stationing of US Special Forces in the country.[17]

Shanker describes the successful operation of the Honduras Special Operations forces guided and directed by trainers from the US Special Forces. Shanker mentions a visit by a delegation of Congressional staff members who favorably assessed the local forces respect of human rights, and cites the US ambassador in Honduras as praising the regime as an “eager and capable partners in this joint effort”.[18]

There are insidious parallels between the NY Times white wash of the criminal extremist regime in Honduras and the Financial Times’ crude promotion of Colombia’s death squad democracy.

The current regime headed by “President” Lobos- which invites the Pentagon to expand its military control over swathes of Honduran territory- is a product of a US backed military coup which overthrew an elected liberal President on June 28, 2009, a point Shanker forgets to mention. Lobos, the predator president, retains control by killing, jailing and torturing critics, journalists, human rights defenders and landless rural laborers seeking to reclaim their lands which were violently seized by Lobos’ landlord backers.

Following the military coup, thousands of Honduran pro-democracy demonstrators were killed, beaten and arrested. According to conservative estimates by Human Rights Watch 20 pro-democracy dissidents were murdered by the military and police.[19] Between January 2010 and November 2011 at least 12 journalists critical of the Lobos regime were murdered.

In the countryside, where NY Times reporter Shanker describes a love fest between the US Special Forces and their Honduran counterparts, between January and August 2011,30 farm workers in northern Honduras Bajo Aguan valley were killed by death squads hired by Lobos backed oligarchs .[20] Nary a single military, police and death squad assassin has been judged and jailed. Coup leader Roberto Micheletti and President Lobos, his successor, have repeatedly assaulted pro-democracy demonstrations, especially those led by school teachers, students and trade unionists and have tortured hundreds of jailed political dissidents. Precisely in the same time span as the NY Times publishes its most euphoric article on the friendly relations between the US and Honduras, the death toll among pro-democracy dissidents rose precipitously: eight journalists and a TV commentator have been killed over the first 4 months of 2012. [21] In late March and early April of 2012 nine farmworkers and employees were murdered by pro-Lobos landlords.[22] No arrests, no suspects, impunity reigns in the land of US military bases. The Times follows the Mafia rule of omega-silence and complicity.

Syria: How the FT Absolves Al Qaeda Terrorists

As western backed terrorists savage Syria, the Western press, especially the Financial Times, continues to absolve the terrorists of setting of car bombs killing and maiming hundreds of civilians. With crude cynicism their reporters shrug their shoulders and give credence to the claims of the London based terrorists propaganda mongers, that the Assad regime was engaged in destroying its own cities and security forces. [23]

Conclusion

As the Obama regime and its European backers publically embrace extremism, including state terror, targeted assassinations and the car bombing of crowded cities, the respectable press has followed suit. Extremism takes many forms –from the omission of reports on the use of force and violence in overthrowing adversary regimes to the cover-up of the wholesale murder of tens of thousands of civilians and the dispossession of millions of peasants and farmers. The “educated classes”, the affluent reading public are being indoctrinated by the respectable media to believe that a smiling and pragmatic President Santos and elected President Lobos have succeeded in establishing peace, market based prosperity and securing mutually beneficial free trade and military base concessions with the US—even as the two regimes lead the world in the murder of trade unionists and journalists. Even as I read, on May 15, 2012 that the US Hispanic Congressional caucus has awarded Lobos a leadership in democracy award, the Honduran press reports the murder of the news director of station HMT Alfredo Villatoro, the 25th critical journalist killed between January 27, 2010 and May 15, 2012.[24]

The respectable press’s embrace of extremism, its use of demonological terminology and vitriolic language to describe imperial adversaries is matched by its euphoric and effusive praise of state and pro-western mercenary terrorists. The systematic cover-up practiced by extremist journalism goes far beyond the cases of Colombia and Honduras. The reportage of the Financial Times Michael Peel on the NATO led destruction of Libya, Africa’s most advanced welfare state, and the rise to power of armed gangs of fanatical tribal and Islamic terrorists, is presented as a victory for a democracy over a “brutal dictatorship”[25]. Peel’s mendacity and cant is evident in his outrageous claims that the destruction of the Libyan economy and the mass torture and racial murders which ensued NATOs war, is a victory for the Libyan people.

The totalitarian twist in the respectable press is a direct consequence of its toadying to the extremist policies pursued by the western regimes. Since extremist measures, like the use of force, violence, assassination and torture, have become routinized by the incumbent presidents and prime ministers, the reporters have no choice but to fabricate lies to rationalize these crimes, to spit out a constant flow of highly charged adjectives in order to convert victims into executioners and executioners into victims. Extremism in defense of pro-US regimes has led to the most grotesque accounts imaginable: Colombia and Mexico’s Presidents are the leaders of the most thoroughly narcotized economies in the hemisphere yet they are praised for their war on drugs, while Venezuela the most marginal producer is stigmatized as a major narco pipeline. [26]

Articles with no factual bases, which are worthless as sources of objective information, direct us to seek for an underlying rationale. Colombia has signed a free trade agreement which will benefit US exports over Colombian by over a two to one ratio [27]. Mexico’s free trade policy has benefited US agro-business and giant retailers by a similar ratio.

Extremism in all of its forms permeates Western regimes and finds its justification and rationalization in the respectable media whose job is to indoctrinate civil society and turn citizens into voluntary accomplices to extremism. By endlessly prefacing “reports” on Russia’s Putin as an authoritarian Soviet era tyrant, the respectable media obviate any discussion of his doubling of living standards and the 60% plus electoral triumph. By magnifying an authoritarian past, Gadhafi’s vast public works, social welfare programs and generous immigration and foreign aid programs to sub-Sahara Africa can be relegated to the memory hole. The respectable press’s praise of death squad Presidents Santos and Lobos is part of a large scale long term systematic shift from the hypocritical pretence of pursuing the virtues of a democratic republic to the open embrace of a virulent, murderous empire. The new journalists’ code reads “extremism in defense of empire is no vice”.


[1] There’s a general consensus that the respectable print media include The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

[2] Financial Times (FT) 5/8/12; See also FT (5/4/12)”Colombia looks to consolidate gains in country of complexities”

[3] FT 5/8/12 (p. 1)

[4] FT ibid

[5] BBC News, May 5, 2012

[6] ibid

[7] Renan Vega Cantor Sindicalicidio! Uncuento poco imaginativo) de Terroismo Laboral Bogotá, Feb. 25, 2012.

[8] ibid.

[9] ibid.

[10] Inforrme CODHES Novembre 2010.

[11] FT 5/8/12 p. 4.

[12] See the Annual Reports of CODHES, Reiniciar and Human Rights Watch

[13] Claroscuro Informe Aual 2011; Programa Somos Defensores Bogota 2012; Corporacion Colectivo de Abogados. Jan. – March 2012.

[14] Fiscalia General. Informe 2012

[15] http://www.falsos.positivos.blogspot.com

[16] Thom Shanker “Lessons of Iraq Help US Fight a Drug War in Honduras” New York Times, May 6, 2012.6

[17] ibid

[18] ibid

[19] Human Rights Watch, World Report 2012

[20] Honduran Human Rights, May 12m, 2012.

[21] ibid

[22] ibid

[23] The notorious cover-up of the car bombing is the handiwork of the FT’s star Middle East journalists. See Michael Peel and Abigail Fielding-Smith “At Least 55 Die in two Damascus Explosions: Responsibility for Blasts Disputed”, FT 5/11/12.

[24] Honduras Human Rights, April 24, 2012.

[25] Michael Peel, “The Colonels Last Stand” FT 5/12 – 13/12

[26] One of Colombia’s most notorious paramilitary narco traffickers described the close financial and political ties between the Colombian United Self Defense terrorists and the Uribe-Santos regime. Se La Jornada 5/12/12.

[27] BBC News, 5/15/12. According to the US International Trade Commission estimates the value of US exports to Colombia could rise by $1.1 billion while Colombia’s exports could grow by $487 million.

Source

Statement of the PFLP Central Committee on political developments

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The following statement below was originally published by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

May 22, 2012

The Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine concluded a series of meetings inside and outside Palestine to discuss national, regional and international political developments.

At the conclusion of its meetings, the CC emphasizes that the world is witnessing the emergence of a new and multipolar world order in which groupings of major states (such as the BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are playing a greater role on political and economic fronts, including limiting the sole power of the US that has dominated over the past two decades to dominate the international environment and which has exercised its imperial powers on a global level. The CC particularly noted the key role of the US in the denial of the fair and legitimate rights of our people to liberate our land and win independence, democracy, social progress and development.

The CC noted that we are witnessing uprisings and popular movements throughout the region, and that such prove the ability of the Arab people to secure their rights and win victories over tyranny, corruption and dependency, and can establish democratic and pluralistic Arab states that respect the freedom, dignity and rights of their people, including their democratic, political, social and cultural rights. The CC noted that any attempts at foreign intervention or containment of the results of these uprisings and transitions to democracy, and attempts to undermine and tamper with the destiny of our people require forceful rejection and condemnation. The CC emphasized that the revolutions and the popular movements can achieve their objectives of change, freedom, democracy, justice, and human dignity, and protect the region and its people from further bloodshed or being drawn into civil war, the placement of military bases, and foreign intervention.

The situation of the Palestinian cause will remain central to all Arab peoples, as well as the utter rejection of US and NATO intervention as such intervention does not benefit our people and their legitimate aspirations for freedom, democracy, and social justice. It is clear that the so-called “democratization” promoted by the US is a cover for aggression, terrorism, human rights abuses, intelligence and security states, and criminal assassinations, as well as a cover for the crimes of its strategic ally, the occupation Zionist state, and supports US control over the region’s oil and domination of its wealth.

The CC also addressed the situation of the Palestinian national movement on political, official, diplomatic and resistance levels, denouncing the ‘revolving door’ situation of the parties to the Palestinian division, saying that its continuation has hindered in practice our national movement’s ability to recover and achieve national unity as a necessary objective to confront recurring crises. The inability to confront crisis has reflected negatively on our national institutions and has not supported our people in confronting the Zionist entity, its extremism and increasingly racist governments committed to the absolute denial of the rights of the Palestinian people and commitment to what it calls “the state of the Jewish people” to be built on the ruins of the Palestinian people and their rights.

The CC stressed that:

First, there is an urgent need to end the division and achieve national unity without delay, as the currnent situation is not sufficient to address the needs of the Palestinian national movement and the Palestinian people. Unity is the only option – a single glimmer of hope for national salvation and an exit from the cycle of negotiations and reliance on the US, particularly in light of the increasing and aggressive settlement expansion, the siege on Gaza, and the ongoing denial and liquidation of our people’s hard-earned struggle for freedom, independence and return under the cover of ‘negotiations’ and the ‘revival of the peace process.’

Second, it is urgent to internationalize the case of the prisoners in the framework of international and humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions. The prisoners must be at the top of the political and diplomatic agenda of the Palestinian movement as part of a comprehensive national plan to free the prisoners. This will enhance the success of the heroic battle for freedom and dignity which was fought and continues to be fought by thousands of prisoners against the violations of the Zionist prisons, dungeons and concentration camps. This is a strategic return of the Palestinian cause to the United Nations to protect the Palestinian people and their unsatisfied rights, including the right to full recognition and membership of the State of Palestine.

Third, the CC calls upon the Palestinian leadership to exit all negotiations and security and economic commitments made by reference to the US, and to end reliance on absurd negotiations and agreements, which have reached an utterly dead end and are dangerous and destructive to the national project and support only the crimes and violations of the occupation and its denial of our people’s internationally recognized rights to sovereignty, independence, self-determination and return.

Fourth, all forms of resistance must be protected in word and deed, including promoting popular resistance to confront and expose the aggression, settlements, siege and crimes of the occupation are continuing in full swing, and holding the occupation accountable before international courts. It is urgent to activate the Arab and international boycott of Israel and BDS, as well as the international fight against normalization. This is critical to a sincere and comprehensive national movement in which all can participate. After 64 years of Nakba and occupation and 20 years of sterile negotiations, the emerging shifts on the Arab, regional and international level are leading to the development of a comprehensive national resistance strategy to promote popular steadfastness. It is necessary to rebuild the Palestinian house by holding democratic elections for a new Palestinian National Council and for all Palestinian institutions, trade unions, political and local authorities according to proportional representation, in order to consolidate national unity and restore the status of the PLO as a national reference and the sole legitimate representative of our people.

Fifth, the concession of the Prison Service and the occupation authorities to the will and demands of the prisoners in the battle of the empty stomachs is an important step forward on the path of struggle and victory of the will of the people, in the epic struggle of dignity and freedom undertaken by the prisoners and their leadership. The prisoners’ struggle has involved all sectors of our people – men, women, elders, children, all national and Islamic forces and popular institutions – and the solidarity movement and allies around the world in support of the Palestinian people. The CC congratulated the prisoners’ movement who engaged without hesitation in the battle of empty stomachs, raising slogans of hunger with no surrender, victory or death. Their struggle brought an unprecedented awareness of the human struggle of the prisoners through open hunger strike and popular resistance, and the CC thanked all who contributed to this achievement. The victory of the prisoners is inspiration for our people and proof that unity of purpose, leadership and just struggle will result in victory over injustice and aggression, and that the spirit of initiative, courage and sacrifice is apparent in a leadership worthy of its mission that has earned the confidence of the people on the path of resistance and struggle and victory. The CC saluted the heroic comrades in the prison and the leadership of the prison branch, led by the General Secretary, Comrade Ahmad Sa’adat, and renewed their commitment to continue on their path of struggle.

The CC also saluted the martyrs of the Palestinian revolution and the martyrs of freedom in the world and promised to the martyrs of our people and our nation, the prisoners of freedom and their families, to remain loyal to their blood and sacrifice and to achieve the lofty goals for which they sacrificed and struggled.

May 16, 2012
Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

Virginia: Red Onion prisoners unite in hunger strike protesting abuse

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The following statement below was originally published by Solidarity with Virginia Prison Hunger Strikers

Isis Hodari, hunger strike supporter, presenting the 10 demands in solidarity with the Red Onion prison hunger strikers.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—MAY 21, 2012

Press Contacts:  Solidarity with Virginia Prison Hunger Strikers

John Tuzcu /216.533.9925 / vasolidarity@gmail.com
Adwoa Masozi / 973.494.4266 / vasolidarity@gmail.com

What: Press Conference
When: 11 AM
Where: VA Department of Corrections, 6900 Atmore Dr. Richmond VA (at the DOC sign on the corner of Atmore and Wyck St.)

RICHMOND – On Tuesday May 22 as many as 45 prisoners at Red Onion State Prison, comprising at least 2 segregation pods, will enter the first day of a hunger strike protesting deplorable conditions in the prison and ongoing abuses by prison staff. For the men participating in the strike this is their only recourse to get Red Onion warden Randy Mathena to officially recognize their grievances and make immediate changes to food, sanitation and basic living conditions at the prison.

Supporters from DC and Virginia along with prisoner family members will hold a press conference at 11 AM in front of the VA Department of Corrections, in Richmond at 6900 Atmore Dr., to urge Warden Mathena, the Virginia Department of Corrections under Harold Clarke, Governor Bob McDonell, state Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb and other state and congressional legislators to act on behalf of justice and human rights. ­­

A statement released by one of the hunger strike representatives said, “We’re tired of being treated like animals. There are only two classes at this prison: the oppressor and the oppressed. We, the oppressed, despite divisions of sexual preference, gang affiliation, race and religion, are coming together. We are rival gang members but now are united as revolutionaries.”

Some of the prisoner’s demands include the right to have fully cooked meals, the right to clean cells, the right to be notified of the purpose and duration of their detention in segregation, and a call for the end to indefinite segregation. Red Onion has been repeatedly criticized since it opened in 1998.  A 1999 Human Rights Watch report on Red Onion concluded that the “Virginia Department of Corrections has failed to embrace basic tenets of sound correctional practice and laws protecting inmates from abusive, degrading or cruel treatment.”

After exhausting legal and administrative channels, prisoners are holding this hunger strike to bring these abusive prison conditions to light. This action comes at a time when many are speaking out against the expanding prison system in the United States in an effort to uphold their human dignity and basic human rights.

Letters signed by residents in Congressional District 9 will be delivered to the Senators office later in the week and concerned citizens from across Virginia and the nation will be pressuring the Virginia DOC to meet the prisoner’s demands.

Carlos Montes trial moved to June 20, due to new developments

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The following statement below was originally published by the LA Committee to Stop FBI Repression

Statement from the LA Committee to Stop FBI Repression

May 15, 2012

Los Angeles, CA – Over 100 supporters rallied in front of the Los Angeles Superior Court today, May 15, to demand, “Drop the charges against Carlos Montes.” The supporters included MECHA students, union members, teachers, vendors and community members as well as activists from the anti-war movement.

“With your help we will win this case,” Montes told the crowd. “The repression against me is an attack on all of our movements. Thank you all for your solidarity! Together we will win!”

Following this strong showing of solidarity, supporters then moved in to the packed courtroom. Montes was set for trial. Due to a new development in the case, the trial was moved to Wednesday, June 20, 2012. The new development deals with obtaining information needed to clarify the legal record. The defense lawyer, Montes, and the district attorney agreed to the June 20 date, to give enough time to investigate this information that would help defeat this attack against Montes and our movement.

The struggle continues, we will continue to demand “drop the charges” and await the new findings that will clear the charges, if not we go to trial on June 20.

Carlos Montes is facing multiple felony charges because the FBI claims he is a felon in violation of firearm codes. The FBI claim stems from a 1969 student strike for Black, Chicano and Women’s studies at East L.A. College, where police beat and arrested demonstrators. Montes was arrested on his way home from the protest, accused of assaulting a sheriff’s deputy (with an empty soda can). This charge was sentenced as a misdemeanor according to a recently uncovered court document. District Attorney Steve Cooley, under the guidance of the FBI, is basing his case on this 42-year-old misdemeanor, disguising it as a bogus felony. Without a past felony, all of the charges Montes is facing, relating to his legally purchased firearms, would be dismissed. Both sides agree that no prison time whatsoever was served in the 1969 incident. The legal process is being driven by something other than the facts of the case. It is political repression.

“In the weeks ahead we need to keep putting pressure on the District Attorney to drop the charges,” states Mick Kelly of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. “The prosecution of Carlos Montes is part of a broader attack by the FBI and local police on anti-war and international solidarity activists. We need to do everything in our power to push back.”

For more info about the case, go to stopfbi.net and stopfbila.net