Protests

Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).

The Meaning of January 6 (message from the American Studies Association President)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 4:50am in

Letter from UC Riverside professor Dylan Rodriguez to the ASA community:

Dear Colleagues, Friends, and Loved Ones,

 

There has been an expected wave of statements from higher education administrators, academic departments, research centers, and prominent individuals affiliated with our fields of work regarding the armed deadly takeover of the United States Capitol by self-declared “patriots” on January 6, 2021.  I must be honest that i dread adding to this noise, which is why i have waited a few days to send this note.  I do not write on behalf of the ASA or its leadership body, but rather out of a humble sense of accountability to the communities of radical and abolitionist movement that nourish me.

 

Last week’s spectacular white nationalist coup attempt may have been exceptional in form, but (for many of us) was entirely familiar—utterly “American”—in content.  It is misleading, historically inaccurate, and politically dangerous to frame this event—and the condition that produced it—as an isolated or extremist exception to the foundational and sustained violence that constitutes the United States.  As the surging neo-Confederates in the Capitol building made clear, there is a long tradition of (fully armed) populist, extra-state, and (ostensibly) extra-legal reactionary movement that holds a lasting claim of entitlement on the nation and its edifices of official power. 

 

Further, the steady trickle of information from January 6 indicates that police power—including the prominent presence of (former) police and “Blue Lives Matter” in the coup itself—animated and populated this white nationalist siege.  Contrary to prevailing accounts, this event was not defined by a failure of police power, but rather was a militant expression of it. 

 

People in the extended ASA community have organized their lifework around practices of freedom, knowledge, and teaching that unapologetically confront this physical and figurative mob in, before, and beyond 2021.  I write as your colleague, comrade, and “ASA President” to urge you to invigorate and expand your scholarly, activist, and creative labors in this time of turmoil.  The ASA is but one modest apparatus at your disposal.

 

Finally, i encourage a collective embrace of an ethic and practice that is common to some, though underdiscussed by far too many:  collective, communal self-defense.  This robust ethic and practice is not only central to abolitionist, liberationist, Black (feminist, queer, trans) radical, and Indigenous self-determination traditions of mutual aid and community building, but is also a necessary aspect of “campus life” for many of us in the ASA.  The need to develop well-deliberated, mutually accountable forms of self-defense cannot be abstracted, caricatured, or trivialized in this moment of asymmetrical vulnerability to illness and terror.  Get your back, and get each other’s backs, in whatever way you can. 

 

Peace

 

dylan

@font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;}@font-face {font-family:DengXian; panose-1:2 1 6 0 3 1 1 1 1 1; mso-font-alt:等线; mso-font-charset:134; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-1610612033 953122042 22 0 262159 0;}@font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-469750017 -1073732485 9 0 511 0;}@font-face {font-family:"\@DengXian"; panose-1:2 1 6 0 3 1 1 1 1 1; mso-font-charset:134; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-1610612033 953122042 22 0 262159 0;}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:DengXian; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}.MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:DengXian; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}

The ‘Empire Files’ on the Plot to Attack Iran

This is an excellent little video that explains Trump’s and the US state and military’s hostility to Iran and the real reasons behind the latest attacks. This ultimately goes back to western imperial control over the country’s oil industry. From 1908 until 1951 the Iranian oil industry was owned and controlled by a British company, Anglo-Persian Oil, now BP. It was nationalised by the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadeq, who was consequently overthrown in a CIA-backed coup. The Shah was installed as an absolute monarch, ruling by terror through the secret police, SAVAK. Which the CIA also helped to set up.

Causes of American Hostility

The Shah’s oppression was eventually too much, and he was overthrown in the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and the American state has resented the country ever since. Iran and Israel were America’s bulldogs in the Middle East, so the US lost an important locus of influence in the region. Iran is now politically independent, and is one of the leaders of the group of non-aligned nations. This was set up for countries that did not wish to align themselves either with America or the Soviet Union, but after the Fall of Communism is now simply for nations not aligned with America. America is also unable to control what Iran does with its own oil, from which American companies are excluded from profiting. Another major cause for America’s hostility may be that Iran and Syria are obstacles to Israel’s territorial expansion and the creation of a greater Israel.

Trump’s Attacks on Iran

The Empire Files is a Tele Sur show dedicated to exposing the horrors and crimes of American imperialism. Presented by Abby Martin, it was originally on RT. In this edition, she talks to Dan Kovalik, a human rights lawyer and author of the book The Plot to Attack Iran. The show was originally broadcast in January this year, 2020, when there had been a series of incidents, including Trump’s assassination of the Iranian general, Soleimani, which many feared would bring about a possible war. As tensions and reprisals increased, many Americans also took to the streets to protest against a possible war. The tensions had begun when Trump unilaterally reneged on an agreement with the Iranians over the enrichment of nuclear materials. Barack Obama had made this agreement with the Iranians, in which they pledged only to enrich it to levels suitable for civilian use but not for the creation of weapons. In return, Obama had agreed to lift the sanctions imposed on them. The Iranians had kept to their side of the agreement, but Trump had abandoned it because he wanted to impose further conditions containing Iran. For their part, it had been a year before the Iranians had reacted to the agreement’s failure. The EU had been keen to keep the agreement, despite American withdrawal, but now were unable or unwilling to do so. Kovalik states that Iran doesn’t want nukes. In the 1950s America and General Electric were helping the country set up nuclear power for electricity production. The Ayatollah Khomeini also issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons, condemning them as ‘unIslamic’. The claim that Iran is now a threat to America is based on intelligence, which claims in turn that Iran had a list of American targets in Syria. As a result American troops, ships, missiles and planes were moved to the Gulf. It was also claimed that the Iranians had attacked three civilian ships. Some of these are very dubious. One of the attacked vessels was Japanese, and the ship’s owners deny that any attack occurred. The attack also makes no sense as at the time it was supposed to have happened, the Japanese and Iranians were in negotiations to reduce tensions. Kovalik states here how devastating any war with Iran is likely to be. According to retired General Williamson, a war with Iran would be ten times more expensive in financial cost and lives than the Iraq War. It also has the potential to become a world war, as Russia and China are also dependent on Iranian oil.

Iran Potential Ally, Not Threat

Trump has also re-imposed sanctions on Iran at their previous level before the nuclear agreement. As a result, the Iranians are unable to sell their oil. They are thus unable to buy imported foodstuffs or medicines, or the raw materials to manufacture medicines, which is naturally causing great hardship. Kovalik and Martin are also very clear that Iran doesn’t pose a threat to America. It doesn’t pose a threat to American civilians, and the country was actually a partner with the US in the War on Terror. Well, that was until George W. declared them to be an ‘axis of evil’ along with North Korea and Saddam Hussein. This disappointed the Iranians, whom Martin and Kovalik consider may be potential allies. America wishes to overthrow the current regime because the 1979 Revolution showed countries could defy America and topple a ruler imposed by the US. Although America may resent the country’s freedom to do what it wishes with its oil, the US doesn’t actually need it. America is an exporter of oil, and so one goal of US foreign policy may simply be to wreck independent oil-producing nations, like Iran, Libya and Venezuela, in order to remove them as competition.

The programme also attacks the claims that Iran is a supporter of terrorism. This is hypocritical, as 73 per cent of the world’s dictatorships are supported by the US. This includes the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia, which in turn supports al-Qaeda and ISIS. Iran does support Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine, but most political analysts don’t consider them terrorist organisations. They’re elected. The American state really objects to Iran having influence in its own region, but it is the Iranians here who are under threat. They are encircled by countries allied with the US.

Iran anti-Israel, Not Anti-Semitic Country

Kovalik also personally visited Iran in 2017, and he goes on to dispel some misconceptions about the country. Such as that it’s particularly backward and its people personally hostile to Americans. In fact Iran has the largest state-supported condom factory in the Middle East. Alcohol’s banned, but everyone has it. The country also prides itself on being a pluralist society with minorities of Jews, Armenian Christians and Zoroastrians, the country’s ancient religion. And contrary to the claims of Israel and the American right, it’s got the second largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside Israel, and Jews are actually well treated. Kovalik describes meeting a Jewish shopkeeper while visiting the bazaar in Isfahan. He noticed the man was wearing a yarmulka, the Jewish skullcap, and went up to talk to him. In answer to his inquiries, the man told him he was Jewish, and didn’t want to leave Iran. He also told Kovalik that there was a synagogue, and led him a mile up the road to see it. Despite the regime’s genocidal rhetoric, when polled most Iranian Jews said they wish to stay in Iran. There’s a Jewish-run hospital in Tehran, which receives funding from the government. After the Revolution, the Ayatollah also issued a fatwa demanding the Jews be protected. The status of women is also good. Education, including female education, is valued and women are active in all sectors of the economy, including science.

Large Social Safety Net

And the Iranian people are actually open and welcoming to Americans. Martin describes how, when she was there, she saw John Stuart of the Daily Show. The people not only knew who he was, but were delighted he was there. Kovalik agrees that the people actually love Americans, and that if you meet them and they have some English, they’ll try to speak it to show you they can. Martin and Kovalik make the point that Iran is like many other nations, including those of South America, who are able to distinguish between enemy governments and their peoples. They consider America unique in that Americans are unable to do this. Kovalik believes that it comes from American exceptionalism. America is uniquely just and democratic, and so has the right to impose itself and rule the globe. Other countries don’t have this attitude. They’re just happy to be left alone. But America and its citizens believe it, and so get pulled into supporting one war after another. They also make the point the point that Iran has a large social safety net. The mullahs take seriously the view that Islamic values demand supporting the poor. Women enjoy maternity leave, medicine is largely free and food is provided to people, who are unable to obtain it themselves. In this respect, Iran is superior to America. Kovalik states that while he was in Iran, he never saw the depths of poverty that he saw in U.S. cities like Los Angeles. These are supposed to be First World cities, but parts of America increasingly resemble the Third World. He admits, however, that the US-imposed sanctions are making it difficult for the Iranians to take care of people.

British Imperialism and Oil

The programme then turns to the country and its history. It states that it has never been overrun, and has a history going back 4,000 years. As a result, the country has preserved a wealth of monuments and antiquities, in contrast to many of the other, surrounding countries, where they have been destroyed by the US and Britain. Iran was never a formal part of the British empire, but it was dominated by us. Oil was first discovered there in 1908, and Britain moved quickly to acquire it for its own military. The oil company set up favoured British workers and managers, and the profits went to Britain. This was bitterly resented at a time when 90 per cent of the Iranian population was grindingly poor. People wore rags, and some oil workers actually slept in the oil fields. Conditions reached a nadir from 1917-1919 when Britain contributed to a famine that killed 8-10 million people. Those, who know about it, consider it one of the worst genocides.

The Iranian oil industry was nationalised by Mossadeq, who gained power as part of the decolonisation movement sweeping the subject territories of the former empires. Mossadeq offered Britain compensation, but no deal was made before he was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup. Details of the coup came to light a few years ago with the publication of official records. It was the first such coup undertaken by the intelligence agency, but it set the rules and strategy for subsequent operations against other nations.

CIA Coup

The CIA paid protesters to demonstrate against the government, and they were particularly keen that these were violent. They wished to provoke Mossadeq into clamping down on the protests, which they could then use as a pretext for overthrowing him. But Mossadeq was actually a mild individual, who didn’t want to use excessive force. He was only convinced to do so when the CIA turned the Iranian tradition of hospitality against him. They told him Americans were being attacked. Mossadeq was so mortified that this should happen in his country, that he promptly did what the CIA had been preparing for. The Shah was reinstalled as Iran’s absolute monarch with General Zadegi as the new prime minister. Zadegi got the job because he was extremely anti-Communist. In fact, he’d been a Nazi collaborator during the War. After the restoration of the Shah in 1953, there were some Nazi-like pageants in Tehran. The CIA assisted in the creation of SAVAK, the Shah’s brutal secret police. They gave them torture techniques, which had been learned in turn from the Nazis. By 1979, thanks to SAVAK, Amnesty International and other organisations had claimed Iran was the worst human rights abuser in the world.

Reagan, the Hostage Crisis and Iran-Contra

The attack on the left meant that it was the Islamicists, who became the leaders of the Revolution as revolutionary organisation could only be done in the mosques. The left also played a role, particularly in the organisation of the workers. The pair also discuss the hostage crisis. This was when a group of students took the staff at the American embassy hostage, although the regime also took responsibility for it later. This was in response to the Americans inviting the Shah to come for medical treatment. The last time the Shah had done this had been in the 1950s before the coup. The hostage-takers released the women and non-Whites, keeping only the White men. The crisis was also manipulated by Ronald Reagan and the Republicans. They undercut Jimmy Carter’s attempts to free the hostages by persuading the Iranians to keep them until after the US election. America also funded and supplied arms to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War, which left a million people dead. They also supplied arms to Iran. This was partly a way of gaining money for the Contras in Nicaragua, as the US Congress had twice stopped government funding to them. It was also partly to stop Saddam Hussein and Iraq becoming too powerful. Kovalik notes that even in the conduct of this war, the Iranians showed considerable restraint. They had inherited chemical weapons from the Shah, and the Iraqis were using gas. However, Khomeini had issued a fatwa against it and so Iranians didn’t use them.

The pair also observe that Trump is bringing back into his government the figures and officials, like John Bolton, who have been involved in previous attacks on Iran. This raises the possibility of war. Kovalik believes that Trump is a brinksman, which means that there is always the danger of someone calling his bluff. He believes that the American military doesn’t want war, but it’s still a possibility. The American public need to protest to stop Trump getting re-elected as a war president.

Stop War, But Leave Iranians to Change their Regime

This raises the question of how to oppose militarism and support progressive politics in Iran. Iranian Communists, the Tudeh are secular socialists, who hate the Islamicists. They state that it is up to them to overthrow the Islamic regime, not America or its government. They just want Americans to stop their country invading and destroying Iran. External pressure from foreign nations like America through sanctions and military threats actually only makes matters worse, as it allows the Islamic government to crack down on the secular opposition. However, Kovalik believes that the American government doesn’t want reform, but to turn Iran back into its puppet. The video finally ends with the slogan ‘No War on Iran’.

The Plot to Attack Iran – Myths, Oil & Revolution – YouTube

Readers of this blog will know exactly what I think about the Iranian regime. It is a brutal, oppressive theocracy. However, it is very clear that Iran is the wronged party. It has been the victim of western – British and US imperialism, and will be so again if the warmongers Trump has recruited have their way.

Events have moved on since this video was made, and despite Trump’s complaints and accusations of electoral fraud, it can’t really be doubted that he lost the US election. But it really does look like he means to start some kind of confrontation with Iran. And even with his departure from the White House, I don’t doubt that there will still be pressure from the Neocons all demanding more action against Iran, and telling us the same old lies. That Iran’s going to have nuclear weapons, and is going to attack Israel, or some such nonsense.

And if we go to war with Iran, it will be for western multinationals to destroy and loot another Middle Eastern country. The video is right about western oil companies wanting the regime overthrown because they can’t profit from its oil. Under Iranian law, foreign companies can’t buy up their industries. A few years ago Forbes was whining about how tyrannical and oppressive Iran was because of this rule. I think the Iranians are entirely justified, and wish our government did the same with our utilities. I think about 50 per cent of the country’s economy is owned or controlled by the state. Which is clearly another target for western companies wishing to grab a slice of them, just as they wanted to seize Iraqi state enterprises.

And at least in Iran medicines are largely free, and food is being provided to those who can’t obtain it themselves. They’ve got something like a welfare state. Ours is being destroyed. We now have millions forced to use food banks instead of the welfare state to stop themselves starving to death, and the Tories would dearly love to privatise the NHS and turn it into a private service financed through private health insurance. The Iraq invasion destroyed their health service. It also destroyed their secular state and the freedom of Iraqi women to work outside the home.

We’ve got absolutely no business doing this. It shouldn’t have been done to Iraq. Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen to Iran.

(Dis)solving the “Problem” of Immigration

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 03/12/2020 - 6:41am in

Photo Credit: Beatrice Puddu Italian food is venerated by Italians and tourists alike. Being Italian, I am frequently told by...

Read More

France’s New Security Law May Have Just Sparked a “George Floyd” Moment

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/12/2020 - 5:56am in

Award-winning Syrian photographer Ameer Alhalbi lies dazed on the ground. His head is heavily bruised and bandaged, blood covers his face, arms, and much of his body. Lengths of cotton wool have been stuffed up his broken nose, giving him an almost comical appearance. Alhalbi has been badly beaten by police. But this is not Syria, it is Paris, where he was covering — ironically — huge, nationwide protests against police brutality this weekend.

Perhaps even more concerning is that new laws pushed through by the government of Emmanuel Macron and passed by France’s National Assembly (akin to the U.S. House of Representatives) mean that sharing images of Alhalbi or other victims of police brutality might soon be considered illegal.

Article 24 of the country’s new national security bill, which now only needs to be ratified by the Senate, specifically outlaws the publishing and dissemination of images of police that undermine their physical or psychological “integrity,” and is punishable with a fine of up to €45,000 and up to one year in jail. The bill specifically states that filming police in such a manner would be against the law, but questions have been raised about how liberally authorities would interpret the nebulous language of the new edict. Media unions and human rights groups warn that it could prevent journalists from documenting police abuses.

The National Assembly’s decision to approve the law last week sparked large protests in many major cities around France, including Bordeaux, Lille, Montpellier, and Nantes. However, an incident caught on camera on Saturday threw large amounts of fuel on the fire of resentment, drastically increasing the demonstrations’ size and intensity.

Images from mobile phones and closed-circuit television showed an unprovoked police attack on a young black music producer at his place of work. A group of four officers can be seen chasing after Michel Zecler, following him from outside into his studio, where they kick, punch and beat him with truncheons. Zecler also alleges they shouted racial abuse while they assailed him.

Before the videos went viral on social media, the officers testified that Zecler had, in fact, attacked them, and was resisting arrest. The officers have now been charged with “deliberate violence” and with “falsifying statements.” Two of the gang of four, including a 44-year-old senior officer with the rank of brigadier, remain in custody, while two others have been released.

The viral images provoked a storm of condemnation across the country this weekend, and propelled as many as 500,000 people into the streets, with demonstrations in dozens of cities. Protestors marched through the streets, setting light to cars, damaging buildings, and clashing with police, of whom a reported 98 were injured nationwide. Many of Paris’ iconic boulevards resembled a war zone as thousands of demonstrators pitched battle with lines of police in riot gear.

President Macron said he was “very shocked” by the footage of the police attack on Zecler, yet continues to be a driving force behind the new security law, under which many have noted that the images might never have come to light, given as they essentially identify the Parisien officers and clearly undermine their integrity or authority. Without the footage, it is possible that Zecler would have been facing prosecution himself.

Although the bill and the protests against it are dominating French politics, the story has been covered sparsely in the American corporate press, with no coverage whatsoever in MSNBC, CBS News, or CNBC. Fox News, meanwhile, reprinted one Associated Press article, featuring an egregious, uncorrected error in its subheadline, asserting that protestors were shooting tear gas at themselves.

While foreign desks have been seriously cut in recent years, huge demonstrations in central Paris should not have been too difficult to cover. Lebanese political commentator Sarah Abdallah suggested that if the rallies had been happening in countries antagonistic to the United States, they would have been front-page news. Certainly, similar protests in Iran and Hong Kong dominated the news cycles last year, prompting constant reaction from Mike Pompeo. The Secretary of State is yet to comment on the events in France, suggesting that they are not at the front and center of his thoughts.

President Macron came to power in 2017, winning in the final round of the election against far-right challenger Marine Le Pen. A strong believer in neoliberalism and an admirer of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he has insisted that France must not merely be reformed, but transformed, and has attempted to radically alter the shape of French society, away from a social democratic model to one more resembling the United States. Almost immediately after gaining the presidency, however, his average approval rating tumbled and has not risen above 40% since.

Indeed, the 42-year-old former investment banker has faced almost constant resistance to his agenda from the general public. His attempts to increase the cost of fuel in 2018 sparked the Yellow Vest movement across the country. Meanwhile, his plans to raise the age of retirement and reform France’s pension system was met with a months-long general strike that paralyzed the country last winter. Despite losing over 50,000 people to the coronavirus pandemic, he has seen his popularity increase this year due to the government’s financial response to the virus, which included aid to small businesses and paying employees to stay home. Despite this, it appears possible that France might be headed for its own “George Floyd” moment, where its racial injustices are finally reckoned with.

Feature photo | Assa Traore, center, sister of Adama Traore attends a demonstration against a security law that would restrict sharing images of police, Nov. 28, 2020 in Paris. Francois Mori | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post France’s New Security Law May Have Just Sparked a “George Floyd” Moment appeared first on MintPress News.

Jama’at-i Islami – The Pakistani Islamic Party Pushing for Theocracy

Pakistan was founded as an explicitly Muslim country. It’s a democracy, but there is a section of its parliament, if I remember correctly, that’s made up of Muslim clergy, who scrutinise legislation passed by the lower house to make sure it accords with Islamic law. Since the 1970s and the regime of the dictator, Zia al-Haqq, Islam has become increasingly powerful in Pakistani politics. I believe the current president, Imran Khan, is the leader of an Islamic party. Pakistan was one of the nations that experienced protests against France over the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and there have been official denunciations of the cartoons and President Macron’s attempts to combat Muslim radicalism.

The force behind the growth of political Islam in Pakistan appears to be the Jama’at-i Islami, whose name translates as ‘The Islamic Society.’ The article about them in The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions runs as follows

A highly disciplined and well-organised Muslim political party, founded in 1941 by Abul al-A’la Mawdudi. it aims at establishing an observant Islamic state in Pakistan. The Jam’at’s political platform offers an alternative to teh secularists and modernists, and in this lies its appeal (especially since 1977). The Ja’amat advocates that Pakistan should be a theocratic state, ruled by a single man whose tenure of office and power are limited only by his faithfulness to Islam. The ruler should be assisted by a shura (advisory council), with no political parties and no provision for an opposition. General Zia al-Haqq, the military leader after the overthrow of Z. Bhutto (1977)., used the Jama’at as a political prop for his ‘back to Islam’ campaign. The Jama’at has influence among the military, the middle classes, and the college and university students. It publishes a monthly magazine, Tarjuman al-Quran, in Lahore that has a high circulation. On the international level, the Jama’at was on good terms with Imam Khumayni and the oil rich Arab states; the Saudis have supported the movement since the early 1970s. (p. 489).

This looks like an attempt to create a kind of caliphate, and the Dictionary notes that there is considerable support for its return in Pakistan. I also wonder about the movement’s influence in British Islam, as there has been a problem with fire-breathing radicals immigrating to Britain to supply the shortage of imams for British mosques. Which is why moderate Muslims in this country have demanded government assistance in training Muslim Brits, who have grown up in our ostensibly democratic culture, as imams and community leaders.

I’m not a secularist, and believe that people of faith have a right to have their voices heard in politics and parliament, but this is just a movement for religious tyranny. In Pakistan as it is there’s persecution, including violence and pogroms against religious minorities. We’ve seen Christians murdered and imprisoned following accusations of blasphemy. There have also been riots and murders of the Ahmadiyya. Apparently even pious Muslims have been murdered because of comments they have made, which have been interpreted by others as blasphemous. There are 200 people on Pakistan’s Death Row accused of blasphemy. Many of these accusations are spurious, cynically levelled because of other disputes between the parties concerned. If a theocracy was established in Pakistan, it would only cause more oppression and violence.

I also believe that it wouldn’t be good for Islam either. Atheist sites on the web have reported that there has been a massive increase in atheism in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Iran. Six years or so ago Saudi news reported that a large number of Qurans had been found thrown into a sewer. A few days ago Iranian media reported that this had also happened in their country. A poll conducted of 50,000 Iranians found that 38 per cent of the population is either atheist or has no religion. If this is true, then it’s probably the result of people becoming fed up of the repression they are experiencing from their theocratic governments. The religious violence of the Islamist extremists, al-Qaeda and Daesh, are undoubtedly another factor. A few years ago I read a book by a French anthropologist, who came to the conclusion that the Islamist movements were the response of Muslim societies as the experienced the transition to modernity. This was comparable to the way radical, militant Christian movements had appeared in Europe in the 17th century, such as those in the British Civil War. Now Islam was experiencing the same.

My guess is that if the Jama’at ever succeeded in creating a theocracy in Pakistan, it would be massively unstable as the various sects excluded from the regime’s view of what was properly Islamic were oppressed and rebelled. I don’t believe that the Jama’at and other extreme, theocratic movements have anything to offer Muslims or anyone else anything except more oppression and violence.

‘I’ Article on Revelations about Police Unit Set Up to Infiltrate Protest Groups

Tuesday’s I, for 3rd November 2020, also carried a story by Margaret Davis, ‘Secretive police unit ‘infiltrated a range of groups’, about information about the Special Demonstration Squad and its activities that has come out in the Undercover Policing Inquiry. The article runs

A shadowy and controversial Metropolitan Police unit was originally set up amid protests over the Vietnam War in the late 60s, a public inquiry has been told.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry, which has cost £30m so far, began hearing evidence yesterday about undercover policing in England and Wales between 1968 and 2008.

The counsel to the inquiry, David Barr QC, said that the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) was set up because there were official concerns that public anger over the conflict and unrest in Europe, particularly in Paris, signalled that far-left groups in England and Wales were planning disorder in the UK.

It has emerged that for decades undercover police officers infiltrated a significant number of political and other activist groups, in deployments which typically lasted for years.

“The information reported by these undercover police officers was extensive. It covered the activities of the groups and their members. It also extended to the groups and individuals with whom they came into contact, including elected representatives.

“Groups mainly on the far left but also the far right of the political spectrum were infiltrated, as well as groups campaigning for social, environmental or other change.”

The-then home secretary, Theresa May, set up the inquiry in 2015 after widespread condemnation of the tactics used by secret units. “The inquiry will be seeking out the truth,” Mr Barr said. “Publicly wherever that is possible, so the full facts become known and appropriate recommendations can be made for the future conduct of undercover policing.”

Some of the methods employed included using names of dead children as undercover identities without their families’ consent.

A number of women, including at least one who had a child with an undercover officer, were deceived into sexual relationships.

Initially the SDS, also known as the Special Operations Squad and nicknamed “the Hairies” because of undercover officers’ hippie appearance, targeted only far-left groups and those associated with Irish civil rights campaigns.

Now it was quite right for the state to set up groups to infiltrate some of these groups. The late 60s were the time when the Weathermen were blowing up things across America and in Europe there were radical, ‘Maoist’ Marxist organisations also committing terrorist outrages. I still remember the Bader-Meinhof Gang in the 1970s in Germany. Over here, apart from the IRA and other Northern Irish terrorist groups, there were other, smaller groups that were taking up violence. One of these was the Angry Brigade, who blew the door off the house of a Tory MP with a bomb. Although no-one was fortunately killed, they were arrested before they could go further. The One Show a few years ago had an item on them and their bombing campaign, and in the opinion of one of the cops interviewed on the programme, they would have gone on to kill people.

The problem isn’t that the cops infiltrated and disrupted genuinely extremist, violent groups but that they also infiltrated other, mainstream left-wing organisations in order to destroy them and smear their members. And as the scandal over the wretched Institute for Statecraft and the Democracy Initiative shows, the British state is still determined to smear the left, and recent Tory legislation trying to define what is a subversive group includes even some of the most innocuous organisations.

The SDS and similar organisations are out of control and a real threat to democratic left-wing politics and organisations, and they’ve been seeking to disrupt and undermine them for a very long time. It will be very interesting to see what else comes out about this branch of Met during this inquiry.

Trump’s Accusations of Electoral Fraud and the Elections that Put the Fascists in Government

Yesterday Trump started flinging around accusations of voter fraud. He had already won, he declared, and so counting should stop. He also claimed that there was massive electoral fraud in states like Nevada and Georgia, where he’d lost to Biden, and stated that he was taking legal action against those states over the result and demanding recounts. These accusations seem to be utterly false, and his proposed lawsuit against Georgia has already been thrown out by the supreme court or whatever. There’s absolutely no basis to these accusations. They’re just an attempt by the megalomaniac man-baby to hang on to power any way he can. But it’s provoked demonstrations by his supporters up and down America, who are demanding that the authorities do exactly as he says.

This is all absolutely astonishing. It amazes me, because it’s less like the actions of an accomplished politician so much as a petulant child demanding that they’ve won a game and that everyone should therefore give in to them. Because. But it’s also a logical progression of Republican attitudes and policies towards voting. I put up a post a week or so ago reproducing and commenting on an article in the I, which reported that in some southern states like Mississippi Blacks and other sections of the population were being prevented from exercising their democratic rights by local legislation. Some of this dated from the era of Jim Crow, and was deliberately intended to limit the Black vote. A few years ago, The Young Turks put up a video attacking legislation the Republicans had put in place. This was ostensibly to combat voter fraud, but there was no real need for it. It’s real purpose was to exclude the poor, Blacks and students from voting. One southern Republican even gave the game away by saying that they passed these laws to stop the Democrats getting in.

It reminds me somewhat of the supposedly democratic election in Italy in the 1920s which saw Mussolini’s Fascists voted into power. At the time none of the parties in the Italian parliament had a clear majority. It had been hoped by Italy’s ruling liberal politicians that by inviting into government, they could form a coalition sufficiently strong to break this deadlock. But Mussolini didn’t want to be a junior partner. He wanted all of it. And so legislation was passed that defined Italy as a single constituency. Whichever party got the most votes nationally, would take something like three-quarters or so of the seats in parliament. The rest would be shared among the other parties. The Fascists won the election, though in many places they lost spectacularly. One of these, ironically, was Mussolini’s home town of Predappia, where he only got 2 per cent of the vote or less. Well, he had an obvious disadvantage there: they knew him.

But the result was that the Fascists became the overwhelmingly dominant party, and Italy began its journey towards dictatorship.

Mussolini had used constitutional methods, as well as brutal force, to gain power. Hitler did the same later in Germany, when the German president similarly hoped that he could break a similar political deadlock there by including the Nazis in a coalition government.

Trump’s wild, unsubstantiated accusations of electoral fraud and demands that voting should be stopped are an attack on democracy. They aren’t as flagrant or grotesque as the colossal gerrymandering that gave Mussolini control of Italy, but they’re definitely on the way there.

I don’t think Trump will get his way with his demands. But they do mark another stage in the gradual undermining of American democracy. And I’m afraid that if Trump does win, he will try to put in place legislation that will further further weaken it so that the Republicans can keep on winning unfairly. And the endpoint of all this, as in Germany and Italy, will be a right-wing dictatorship.

But it will be cloaked in the language of democracy, and protecting the will of the people.

Meet the Obama-Era Neoliberals Advising State Governments on Election Day Security

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 03/11/2020 - 5:48am in

Tags 

News, Protests

For months, officials across the country have been war-gaming the 2020 election through so-called ‘tabletop exercises’ that projected various outcomes for the electoral contest now less than 24 hours away. Organized by DHS and others since February, one of these scenarios is likely to play out tomorrow, and one group, in particular, is making sure that state and local authorities have all the legal resources they need to face what promises to be a pivotal – and perhaps, historically violent – U.S. presidential election.

Across the nation, businesses are preparing for a repeat of the mayhem that spread throughout the country during the George Floyd protests. Lumber and hardware stores in major cities are seeing a considerable spike in business as other retail establishments board up their storefronts.

election violence

Laborers board up windows at the Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills ahead of the contentious presidential election on Tuesday. Chris Pizzello | AP

In Seattle, demand for plywood has skyrocketed in just the past two weeks. Nearby Portland, Oregon, where nightly protests have continued uninterrupted since May, is also gearing up for intensified civil unrest. The preparations at the state level go far beyond concern over a few broken windows, however.

A neoliberal think tank filled to the brim with Obama-era national security officials, called the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) at Georgetown Law Center, has been advising government officials via states’ District Attorney Offices (DAO) throughout the nation since the summer. ICAP has been churning out “critical resources to help local governments and community members across the country protect public safety” in partnership with the Anti-defamation League (ADL) and a “coalition of the nation’s leading law firms”, which have been working pro-bono to offer “legal principles, best practices, and creative solutions for local jurisdictions” to confront “political violence” according to a July press release.

The outfit’s legal director, Mary McCord, spurred the creation of a special task force to fight “voter suppression” in Philadelphia, to “work alongside the City Commissioners and our partners in law enforcement, government, and community to ensure that no Philadelphian is intimidated, misled, threatened, or harmed as they cast their ballot,” as Philly DA Larry Krasner revealed in early October.

Pennsylvania is likely to see its fair share of civil unrest, given the critical role it played in the 2016 election and other notable factors, such as the Transition Integrity Project (TIP), recently covered by Whitney Webb and Ryan Christian. But, according to McCord, other parts of the country – particularly the northwest – could be primed for more serious problems. “There’s a great potential for civil unrest in Washington [state],” due to the large number of paramilitary units in the region, McCord told In Homeland Security, in a recent article about the prospect of Gov. Inslee deploying National Guard troops at the polls.

She warned of groups like People’s Rights, which was founded by anti-government activist Ammon Bundy, who captured the national spotlight in 2016 when he led the occupation of the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. The organization boasts over 26,000 members in 15 states but counts Washington as its largest stronghold.

 

Hair-trigger

Washington – along with Oregon and Pennsylvania – is among five states identified as “at risk” of increased militia activity around election time in an ostensibly independent report published two weeks ago by a U.S. non-profit called the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), which like ICAP’s nationwide campaign, launched its “US Crisis Monitor” project to “provide real-time data on political violence and demonstrations in America” last July.

As these various election security projects were getting underway, the George Floyd protests in Seattle were culminating with the arrest of 30 people during the violent take-down of the so-called “autonomous zone,” in what was one of the largest instances of civil disobedience outside of Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

Seattle’s Democratic mayor, Jenny Durkan, politicized tensions when she sided with the protestors’ call to penalize the police department in what remains a tug of war between city officials over her proposed budget cuts and police downsizing, many of which were vetoed by the City Council in September after negotiations between the mayor, Seattle Police Department (SPD) and council members broke down. On Friday, they unveiled a new plan to cut funding to the SPD by 17% as police officers leave the department in droves.

While Durkan continues to rake political mileage from the ongoing issue by refusing to appoint a new police chief after former Seattle police chief Carmen Best resigned in August, the rest of Washington is in a similar state of uneasiness, due in part to the disastrous intervention by DHS and fallout in nearby Portland, Oregon, as well as that state’s notorious links to white nationalist ideologues and armed militias.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declined to state whether the 300 National Guard soldiers it is training to join hundreds of previously trained Guard members, will be deployed on election day. U.S. Attorney Brian Moran of the Western District of Washington, nevertheless confirmed that “robust preparations” have been made to protect “the bedrock of our democracy” come November 3rd and beyond.

 

Bad advice

The state of Washington is getting their ducks in a row for what many see as a referendum on the country’s ideological direction. A common theme of any election campaign, to be sure, but one which seems especially fraught with danger at this particularly volatile moment in history where deep political divisions are intersecting with a pandemic crisis, that has – in turn – brought on a frightening display of government power and top-down control over practically every aspect of normal life.

Preparations at the state and municipal level in Washington beyond have been significantly aided by ICAP, which has been pumping out copious amounts of materials – information packets, publications, and reports – to “help prevent unlawful paramilitary conduct and voter intimidation” on the eve of the election.

One such publication features nine bullet points, which describe what officials should be looking out for when identifying “voter intimidation.” The document also cites multiple instances of case law and sections of the U.S. code that apply to questions like free speech and its limits. In September, the Center put out fact sheets on “unlawful militias” across the country to help all 50 states “prepare for possible unlawful militia” actions at the polls.

Militias

Source | Washington state Fact Sheet on identifying Unlawful Militias

 

NatSec sabotage hawks

McCord’s opinion about what the 2020 elections could bring might be taken with a grain of salt if not for her central role in the historic 2016 election and its aftermath. McCord was the Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the Justice Department between October 2016 – installed by Obama only days before Trump’s victory – until April 2017, when she left in the midst of one of the administration’s early purges, which had not yet filled the vacancies at the DoJ.

It was none other than McCord who led the DoJ’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the election and the Trump campaign’s suspected ties to Russian oligarchs. She was also a key player in the FBI’s initial investigation into the Trump campaign, code-named “Crossfire Hurricane,” and was one of the high-level Justice officials who reviewed the controversial FISA warrant renewals against Carter Page; two of which were deemed invalid by Bill Barr’s Justice Department in January.

Mary McCord

McCord speaks during a news conference announces charges against alleged Russian security officers for a data breach at Yahoo. Susan Walsh | AP

ICAP’s board is chaired by an asset manager from a notorious private equity firm with ties to a coronavirus surveillance system backed by Jared Kushner, and led on the faculty side by John Ashcroft’s lead defense attorney, Neal Katyal, who successfully challenged a lower court ruling in the Supreme Court on behalf of the former Attorney General, shelving a law that would have allowed civil suits against Bush’s former AG for abuses on “war on terror.”

Other faculty members, along with McCord and Katyal, include Executive Director Joshua Geltzer, former Senior Director for Counterterrorism at the National Security Council and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. From 2013 to 2015, Geltzer served as Counsel to the then Assistant Attorney General for National Security Division at the Justice Department, John P. Carlin, who in his capacity at the DoJ’s NSD, is suspected of covering up FISA abuses that were knowingly under review by the Inspector General at the time in order to move the Carter Page warrant forward. After he quietly resigned days after submitting his fraudulent annual certifications under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, Mary McCord would replace John Carlin.

Rounding out the election operatives on ICAP’s board of directors is a former Israeli Defense Forces serviceman and Tel-Aviv University graduate named Arik Ben-Zvi, who was also chief communications consultant on national and local elections in Israel, Bulgaria, and the British Virgin Islands. Ben-Zvi is also co-founder of the Glover Park Group lobbying firm, which was hired by Egypt’s military coup regime in 2013 to do its bidding in Washington D.C. Ben-Zvi currently runs Breakwater Strategy, which is described on its own website as “a strategic communications and insights consultancy focused on navigating change, crisis, and the complex moments that make or break reputations.”

By and large, however, it is through Mary McCord that ICAP channels its drive and purpose. In April, she published an op-ed in the Washington Post condemning Trump’s alleged incitement to violence via social media and declared, outright, that the president’s tweets should not be considered “protected free speech.” McCord goes even further and suggests that the presidential tweets might even constitute a crime under federal law.

Despite vacillating over the answer to that question, McCord seems relentless in her pursuit of a casus belli that will not only justify the abrogation of freedom of speech but of public assembly and other constitutional rights.

Feature photo | The White House is visible behind a large security fence as uniformed Secret Service and FBI agents stand on the street in front of Lafayette Park in the morning hours in Washington. Federal and state law enforcement officials have begun expanded preparations for the possibility of widespread unrest at the polls on Election Day. Andrew Harnik | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post Meet the Obama-Era Neoliberals Advising State Governments on Election Day Security appeared first on MintPress News.

This is Why Israel’s Mass Protest Movement Will Never Lead to Change

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/10/2020 - 5:43am in

Since November of 2019, Israelis have been protesting to demand the resignation of indicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Since the spring of 2020, these protests have escalated to the point where thousands of Israelis take to the streets every week to demand his resignation. However, Netanyahu, who has been in power for over a decade, will not budge.

 

Democracy?

A system where a politician can remain in power even after losing an election can hardly be called democratic. In Israel, however, this has happened several times in the past decade. Prime Minister Netanyahu lost the elections numerous times and through underhanded backroom horse-trading, was able to create coalitions that kept him in power.

During the last election, he created an upset that was probably the most impressive of them all. It was clear that the opposition block headed by former IDF chief General Benny Gantz had a solid majority. Yet even then, Netanyahu was able to get Gantz to capitulate at the last minute and allow him to lead the government with Ganz working for him as defense minister.

Since those fateful elections and the humiliating capitulation of retired IDF general Gantz, who, by the way, promised voters he would never serve in a government led by Netanyahu, Israelis have taken to the streets. Netanyahu’s indictment, paired with the huge impact of the coronavirus and the Israeli government’s inability to control the spread of the disease, has brought about civil unrest the likes of which Israel has never seen.

However, even though thousands are taking to the streets week after week, there has been little reporting on the protests in the United States and no impact on Netanyahu, who is protected by coalition agreements and a political reality that promises to keep him in the PM’s seat.

 

Protests throughout the country

The popular movement’s focal point has been a protest encampment across from the prime minister’s Jerusalem residence on Balfour Street. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that protesters have taken to the streets throughout the country. In one case, about 200 anti-Netanyahu protesters marched for eight days from the city of Kiryat Tivon in the north to the protest camp, “receiving upwards of 100 police tickets for violating public health along the way.”


Protesters march during a protest against Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Oct. 6, 2020, during a nationwide lockdown. Ariel Schalit | AP

The government has tried to use emergency regulations to limit the protests, and the Israeli police have been using heavy-handed tactics against them to no avail. There are reports of arrests, tear gas, and even stun grenades being used against the protesters, who nevertheless violate the regulations and continue to march without permits.

Anti-Netanyahu demonstrators holding posters emblazoned with the slogans, “Crime Minister,” “Bibi Go!” and “We are the Hope” stand on one side of the street as pro-Netanyahu groups, far smaller, but louder and more prone to violence, stand on the other. Pro-Netanyahu groups are often heard shouting “traitors” and “You are not Jewish” to their counterparts on the other side of the street.

 

Violence directed at the Ultra-Orthodox

Hatred of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, not to be confused with orthodox Zionist groups who practice an entirely different brand of Judaism, is commonplace among Israelis. Not unlike their counterparts in the U.S., they are more vulnerable to the coronavirus and have been hit hard by the disease. In many cases, they have been accused of not following safety guidelines.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews, by and large, reject the State of Israel and understandably distrust state institutions. Israel has been persecuting them from its very foundation, and the enmity between the government and Ultra-Orthodox communities has a long and violent history.

Enter COVID-19. The Ultra-Orthodox community rejects the internet, television, and any other form of communication that is not from within the community. Many still refuse to speak Hebrew and use only Yiddish. Socializing is a crucial part of their life, be it during study, prayer, family gatherings, or large community gatherings like weddings or other festivities.

The state, which for decades has been interfering with their chosen way of life in an attempt to secularize them and turn them into Zionist soldiers, now sends riot police into their homes, synagogues, and community gatherings, once again trying to deny them the right to gather, worship and celebrate. No effort has been made to reach out and provide them with the information they need to remain safe and clashes between the two sides are quite simply horrifying.

Protests have been erupting from within these communities and police are using all forms of brutality, including brutal beatings, tear gas, and water cannons to quell them. Protesters have even been run over by police vehicles. As expected, the Israeli government’s success in reducing the virus’s spread within this community has been dismal.

 

No budget

As hard as it may be to believe, and even though Israel has held three elections in less than two years, there is already talk of new elections.

The Israeli daily Maariv reports that Netanyahu is now blocking efforts to pass a budget, leaving government agencies with no idea what their budgets will be for 2021. Members of Netanyahu’s own coalition are rightfully nervous and demanding a budget for 2020-2021 be released. Netanyahu, on the other hand, is in no rush. He is stalling for as long as he can and prefers not to commit to a budget but instead to appropriate funds to his cronies based on their support. Furthermore, chaos is good for Netanyahu, and there are speculations that he wants to hold new elections soon and blame it on his partners in the coalition government.

Israel Mass protests

A torn poster depicting Netanyahu lies at the bottom of a fountain during a protest in Tel Aviv, Oct. 8, 2020. Ariel Schalit | AP

The lack of ability to function by Israeli government institutions was already apparent before COVID-19. Now, government agencies are functioning even less, with health care and education in a state of collapse. Add to that the lack of financial stability, or even a financial plan, and, according to Maariv, Netanyahu has a good case to call for new elections.

If there is one thing that Netanyahu knows he can rely on, it is the support of the “Right Block.” This “Block” is made of West Bank settlers, “National Religious” parties, and other neofascists. They have a right-wing agenda and can rely on Netanyahu to respond to their every whim and wish. The Block openly calls for pushing Palestinians out of Palestine, destroying the Holy Sanctuary, and building a temple to replace the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is an agenda that Netanyahu is happy to pursue. Indeed, one of his cabinet ministers, Rafi Peretz, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, is part of the movement to build the “Third Temple.”

Perhaps it is needless to mention, but none of the Right Block’s supporters participate in the anti-Netanyahu protests. In fact, there is at least one group that consistently shows up to disrupt the demonstrations and engage in violence. This group, called “La Familia,” originated as fans of the Beitar-Jerusalem soccer team. Beitar has a reputation for cultivating violent right-wing gangs, and quite naturally, they are Netanyahu supporters.

 

It all leads to nothing

While mass movements may, from time to time, lead to real change, it is unlikely that will be the case in Israel. As in the United States where anti-Trump and anti-fascist protests lead to little immediate political change, the Israeli political system has created a protected zone in which Netanyahu’s place is secure.

Furthermore, demands (if one can call them that) made by anti-Netanyahu groups for him to resign are weak and have little political backing. Unlike the clear agenda set forth by neofascist Zionists and the religious-Zionist settlers, the so-called Israeli “center-left” has no clear agenda, no real principles, and no ability to bring about change. They are weak politically and lack the ability to outsmart the man who has shown time and time again that he is the greatest horse trader in the business, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Feature photo | Israeli protesters chant slogans during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu In Jerusalem, Oct. 14, 2020. Sebastian Scheiner | AP

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post This is Why Israel’s Mass Protest Movement Will Never Lead to Change appeared first on MintPress News.

Protests Against Greed and Inequality Are Spreading Like Wildfire Through Latin America

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 22/10/2020 - 4:52am in

With attention fixed on this week’s events in Bolivia, you would be excused for not realizing that much of the rest of the region has for weeks also been ablaze in the flames of protest.

In Costa Rica, the neoliberal coalition government of Carlos Alverado attempted to force through a $1.75 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to deal with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. As has been its modus operandi this year, the organization offered the money attached to a host of free-market changes, including tax changes, cuts to public services, and privatization of state-owned assets, something Alverado was more than happy to do.

Yet the people of Costa Rica clearly did not consent to the measures, launching a weeks-long general strike that paralyzed the country. Taking to the streets, they shut down dozens of the country’s principal transport arteries, fighting with many of the nation’s 30,000 strong police force.

The rebellion has resulted in a victory for the protesters, as Alverado announced the cessation of IMF negotiations.

 

Colombia

Meanwhile, a little south in Colombia, the country is today heading into the second day of a national strike, with the country’s highly organized teachers’ union FECODE announcing a 48-hour work stoppage in opposition to conservative president Ivan Duque’s plans to reopen schools and other educational institutions with few protective measures, despite a COVID-19 pandemic raging through the country, killing between 100 and 200 people daily. The teachers join students, trade unions, and a host of other organizations in collective action against Duque’s government.

There is a wide range of grievances on display. Indigenous protesters are out in great numbers, demonstrating against the Duque administration’s treatment of them. Others are protesting against the country’s appalling human rights record. Colombia has long been the most dangerous place in the world to be an activist. Four more indigenous leaders were killed on Monday and Tuesday, with two narrowly escaping death. Their murders are rumored to be a retaliation for the mobilizations in Bogota, as thousands have traveled to the nation’s capital to voice their displeasure.

 

Chile

Much of Chile was ablaze this time last year, with citizens attempting to force the conservative government of Sebastian Piñera (the country’s richest man) to concede a vote on the country’s outdated, fascist-era constitution. The initial spark for the nationwide action was a hike in Santiago’s subway fares in order to subsidize private transport companies, but soon snowballed into much more. “It is an outrage that nearly 30 years since the end of the dictatorship, Chile should still have this Pinochet-era constitution in place,” founder and co-editor of Alborada Magazine Pablo Navarette told MintPress last year.

Chile’s referendum will take place on Sunday, with opinion polls suggesting that the people will overwhelmingly vote for change. The country has seen weeks of protest, some turning violent. Earlier this month, a police officer was filmed throwing a 16-year-old protester off a bridge, where he was left face down in the water with serious injuries. At the weekend tens of thousands of Chileans gathered in central Santiago to mark the one year anniversary of the protests that began the process of change, and to rally support for a “yes” vote this Sunday. They were met with force by the police, the resulting violence forcing the closure of at least 15 metro stations.

 

Haiti

Meanwhile, in Haiti, U.S.-backed President Jovenal Moise is facing fresh waves of near-continuous protest, ever since he canceled elections and began ruling by decree. This weekend saw new demonstrations in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, blocking roads and calling for Moise’s resignation. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd, injuring many.

However, none of these protests have been given much attention at all in the Western press, who prefer to concentrate on demonstrations happening in enemy nations against adversarial governments. The 2019 protests in Hong Kong, for example, were given over 50 times the amount of coverage in The New York Times and CNN than the far deadlier and longer-lasting Haitian uprising.

 

Bolivia

Those out on the streets this week will no doubt draw inspiration from the events in Bolivia, where the government of Jeanine Añez suffered a catastrophic electoral defeat on Sunday at the hands of the grassroots Movement to Socialism (MAS) party. Añez, who came to power in a coup in November, insisted she was merely an “interim president.” Despite this, she postponed elections three times, while brutally suppressing organized resistance to her rule. However, a week-long general strike paralyzed the country in August, forcing Añez to concede to elections in October. Despite constant intimidation, the MAS won a resounding victory, setting the stage for the return of democracy to the Andean nation.

2020 has been an extremely turbulent year for the people of Latin America. While the region has suffered greatly thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, organized protest once again offers hope that a better world is possible. And with the Bolivian example fresh in their minds, the people might truly believe it is within their grasp.

Feature photo | Fire from a molotov cocktail explodes in front of police as a police vehicle shoots water at protesters who marched against the commemoration of the discovery of the Americas, organized by Indigenous groups demanding autonomy and the recovery of ancestral land in Santiago, Chile, Oct. 12, 2020. Esteban Felix | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, Common Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Protests Against Greed and Inequality Are Spreading Like Wildfire Through Latin America appeared first on MintPress News.

Pages