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Posted on on November 30th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Is the Pope Getting the Catholics Ready for an Economic Revolution? (Maybe He Read Marx)


Photo Credit: -  A specter is haunting the Vatican.


November 27, 2013
by Lynn Stuart Parramore, AlterNet

In 1992, the Catholic Church officially apologized for persecuting 17th-century astronomer Galileo, who dared to assert that the Earth revolved around the sun. In 2008, the Vatican even considered putting up a statue of him.

Could a certain 19th-century atheist philosopher be next?

It is true that in 2009, a Vatican newspaper article put a positive spin on one Karl Marx. The author, German historian Georg Sans, praised Marx for his criticism of the alienation and injustice faced by working people in a world where the privileged few own the capital. Sans suggested that Marx’s view was relevant today: “We have to ask ourselves, with Marx, whether the forms of alienation of which he spoke have their origin in the capitalist system….” Indeed.


Pope Benedict XVI certainly sang a different tune, denouncing Marxism as one of the great scourges of the modern age (of course we must always distinguish the “ism” from the man). But Francis is a pope of a different feather. His recent comments on capitalism suggest that he is a man who understands something about economics — specifically the link between unbridled capitalism and inequality.

In an 84-page document released Tuesday, Pope Francis launched a tirade against a brutally unjust economic system that Marx himself would have cheered:


“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills….As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”


Whoa! Where did that come from? To understand the answer, you need to know something about liberation theology, a movement that originated in Pope Francis’s home region of Latin America. Liberation theology, a Catholic phenomenon centered on actively fighting economic and social oppression, is the fascinating place where Karl Marx and the Catholic Church meet.


Though Marx was certainly an atheist, Catholics who support liberation theology understand that his attitude toward religion was nuanced. He saw it as a coin with two sides: a conservative force that could block positive changes as well as a reservoir of energy that could resist and challenge injustice. In the United States, religious movements such as the Social Gospel movement, seen today in the Reverend William Barber’s Moral Monday crusade against right-wing oppression of the poor in North Carolina, express the protest potential of Christianity.


Gustavo Gutiérrez, a Peruvian Catholic priest who grew up in abject poverty, used Marx’s ideas about ideology, class and capitalism to develop a perspective on how Christianity could be used to help the poor while they were on here on Earth rather than simply offer them solace in heaven. As Latin America saw the rise of military dictatorships in the 1960s and ‘70s, Gutiérrez called on Catholics to love their neighbor and to transform society for the better. Followers of the new liberation theology insisted on active engagement in social and economic change. They talked about alternative structures and creative, usually non-violent ways to free the poor from all forms of abuse.


The official Church hierarchy has had a tense relationship with liberation theology, but some Francis watchers detect that a new chapter in that history is opening. In early September, the new Pope had a private meeting with Gutiérrez. Reacting to the event, the Vatican newspaper published an essay arguing that with a Latin American pope guiding the Church, liberation theology could no longer “remain in the shadows to which it has been relegated for some years, at least in Europe.”

The Catholic world has now snapped to attention as the faithful pore over the Pope Francis’s recent communication, which calls upon politicians to guarantee “dignified work, education and healthcare” and blasts the “idolatry of money.” The flock is on notice:  Francis will be talking a great deal about economic inequality and defending the poor. Unfortunately, his opposition to women as priests indicates that he is not yet ready to embrace equal treatment for women, something that would greatly enhance progress on both of those issues, but Francis did take a step forward in saying that women should have more influence in the Church.


While the Vatican has become a cesspool for some of the most shady financiers and corrupt bankers on the planet (see: “ God’s Racket”), Pope Francis has made clear his abhorrence of greed, eschewing the Apostolic Palace for a modest guest house and recently suspending a bishop who blew $41 million on renovations and improvements to his residence, including a $20,000 bathtub.


Catholics, particularly in the United States and Europe, are not sure what to make of all this solidarity with the poor and anti-capitalist rhetoric. For a long time now, many have considered Marx and his critique of capitalism over and done with. But others have watched deregulation, globalization and redistribution toward the rich unleash a particularly nasty and aggressive form of capitalism that seems increasingly at odds with Christian values. Instead of becoming more fair and moderate, capitalism has become more brutal and extreme. Marx, who predicted that capitalism would engender massive inequalities, is looking rather prescient just about now.


Pope Francis may prove himself open to considering Marx’s ideas in order to think about a more human-centered economic system. The American press is already buzzing nervously with the idea: “It would make for some pretty amazing headlines if Pope Francis turned out to be a Marxist,” wrote Helen Horn of the Atlantic, before quickly concluding that, no, “happily for church leaders,” such a thing couldn’t be true.


Maybe not. What is true is that, like his fascinating predecessor, Pope Leo XIII (who presided from 1848-1903), Francis has specifically denounced the complete rule of the market over human beings — the cornerstone of the kind of neoclassical economic theory embraced by Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan and much of the American political establishment. He wrote:


“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacra­lized workings of the prevailing economic system.”


That’s a pretty good start. We’ll take it. 

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of ‘Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.’ She received her Ph.d in English and Cultural Theory from NYU, where she has taught essay writing and semiotics. She is the Director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project.




Op-Ed Columnist


The Pope and the Right




“NOW it’s your turn to be part of the loyal opposition,” a fellow Catholic journalist said to me earlier this year, as Pope Francis’s agenda was beginning to take shape.


Readers’ Comments — Read All Comments (130) »



The friend was a political liberal and lifelong Democrat, accustomed to being on the wrong side of his church’s teaching on issues like abortion, bioethics and same-sex marriage.

Now, he cheerfully suggested, right-leaning Catholics like me would get a taste of the same experience, from a pope who seemed intent on skirting the culture war and stressing the church’s mission to the poor instead.


After Francis’s latest headline-making exhortation, which roves across the entire life of the church but includes a sharp critique of consumer capitalism and financial laissez-faire, politically conservative Catholics have reached for several explanations for why my friend is wrong, and why they aren’t the new “cafeteria Catholics.”

First, they have pointed out that there’s nothing truly novel here, apart from a lazy media narrative that pits Good Pope Francis against his bad reactionary predecessors. (Many of the new pope’s comments track with what Benedict XVI said in his own economic encyclical, and with past papal criticisms of commercial capitalism’s discontents.)

Second, they have sought to depoliticize the pope’s comments, recasting them as a general brief against avarice and consumerism rather than a call for specific government interventions.

And finally, they have insisted on the difference between church teaching on faith and morals, and papal pronouncements on economic issues, noting that there’s nothing that obliges Catholics to believe the pontiff is infallible on questions of public policy.

All three responses have their merits, but they still seem insufficient to the Francis era’s challenge to Catholics on the limited-government, free-market right.

It’s true that there is far more continuity between Francis and Benedict than media accounts suggest. But the new pope clearly intends to foreground the church’s social teaching in new ways, and probably seeks roughly the press coverage he’s getting.

It’s also true that Francis’s framework is pastoral rather than political. But his plain language tilts leftward in ways that no serious reader can deny.

Finally, it’s true that there is no Catholic position on, say, the correct marginal tax rate, and that Catholics are not obliged to heed the pope when he suggests that global inequality is increasing when the statistical evidence suggests otherwise.

But the church’s social teaching is no less an official teaching for allowing room for disagreement on its policy implications. And for Catholics who pride themselves on fidelity to Rome, the burden is on them — on us — to explain why a worldview that inspires left-leaning papal rhetoric also allows for right-of-center conclusions.

That explanation rests, I think, on three ideas. First, that when it comes to lifting the poor out of poverty, global capitalism, faults and all, has a better track record by far than any other system or approach.

Second, that Catholic social teaching, properly understood, emphasizes both solidarity and subsidiarity — that is, a small-c conservative preference for local efforts over national ones, voluntarism over bureaucracy.

Third, that on recent evidence, the most expansive welfare states can crowd out what Christianity considers the most basic human goods — by lowering birthrates, discouraging private charity and restricting the church’s freedom to minister in subtle but increasingly consequential ways.

This Catholic case for limited government, however, is not a case for the Ayn Randian temptation inherent to a capitalism-friendly politics. There is no Catholic warrant for valorizing entrepreneurs at the expense of ordinary workers, or for dismissing all regulation as unnecessary and all redistribution as immoral.

And this is where Francis’s vision should matter to American Catholics who usually cast ballots for Republican politicians. The pope’s words shouldn’t inspire them to convert en masse to liberalism, or to worry that the throne of Peter has been seized by a Marxist anti-pope. But they should encourage a much greater integration of Catholic and conservative ideas than we’ve seen since “compassionate conservatism” collapsed, and inspire Catholics to ask more — often much more — of the Republican Party, on a range of policy issues.

Here my journalist friend’s “loyal opposition” line oversimplified the options for Catholic political engagement. His Catholic liberalism didn’t go into eclipse because it failed to let the Vatican dictate every jot and tittle of its social agenda. Rather, it lost influence because it failed to articulate any kind of clear Catholic difference, within the bigger liberal tent, on issues like abortion, sex and marriage.

Now the challenge for conservative Catholics is to do somewhat better in our turn, and to spend the Francis era not in opposition but seeking integration — meaning an economic vision that remains conservative, but in the details reminds the world that our Catholic faith comes first.



Posted on on November 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Journalist says:
Thank you for discussing this. Anybody that has been to New Haven can tell Woolsey Hall is open to whoever wish to get inside. I asked for information to the policeman and followed him when I was told to. I did not say I was a journalist, but did not hide my personal information. I gave him my passport, my address, my phone number. And I told him I was looking for Mr. Joaquim Barbosa and would wait for him outside the building. But I could not leave, because the policeman hold my passport and informed me I would be arrested. Video footage from the place can prove that what I am saying is true. My newspaper asked it to Yale Law School, but have not received a reply. 9/28/13 7:09pm


The University says:

A Brazilian reporter trying to interview Brazil’s Supreme Court President, Joaquim Barbosa, was arrested for trespassing after she allegedly entered a Yale Law School building on Thursday.

O Estado de S Paulo correspondent Claudia Trevisan claims the University was trying to keep quiet Barbosa’s participation in the 2013 Global Constitutionalism Seminar (one of the University’s “signature international programs“), and denied her request to attend, saying it was held in a private building.

Trevisan says she told Yale Law School communications director Janet Conroy that she would go anyway and wait for Barbosa on the sidewalk.

According to Trevisan, she eventually entered Woolsey Hall, a Yale concert hall, where tourists, students, and pedestrians were walking around, to find out if she was in the right place. She asked a Yale police officer if the seminar was in that building, and he apparently recognized her as a journalist and began questioning her. She says the officer also took her passport, detained her for an hour inside a police car, then handed her over to New Haven Police, where she was held in a cell for more than three hours.   Trevisan was reportedly able to report her arrest over the phone to a diplomat at the Brazilian embassy.

A second reporter for Folha de São Paulo, also there to talk to Barbosa, was apparently better received — a policeman escorted him outside of the building and warned him if he tried to enter again he would be arrested.

A spokesperson for Yale gave a statement to the Guardian, saying that Trevisan was dishonest with police.

“She came onto Yale property, entered the law school without permission, and proceeded to enter another building where the attendees of the seminar were meeting. When asked why she was in the building, she stated that she was looking for a friend she was supposed to meet. She was arrested for trespassing. The police followed normal procedures and Ms Trevisan was not mistreated in any way.

No one answered at the Yale Police Department communications line, but according to the Yale PD website, there was an arrest for trespassing outside Woolsey at 6:44 p.m. Trevisan says she arrived at Yale at 3:30 p.m.

Yale says that because the seminar was a private event closed to the public and the media, Trevisan was not permitted on Yale property. This raises an interesting question since Trevisan claims that the building was open to the general public — and that she was singled out as a journalist merely for entering to ask a cop if she was in the right place. Legally, she was probably fine on the sidewalk, while the building would probably be classified as a “limited public forum”. If other tourists and non-members of the seminar were permitted to ask the cop inside for help or directions, arresting Trevisan for engaging in the same behavior while being a journalist could be illegal.

Either way, the argument will probably never be heard — Yale says it does not intend to pursue the trespassing charges.

Wise Guys Say:

Their statement is irrelevant. If those buildings offered general unrestricted access to the general public, they’d have a hard time justifying just escorting her out, let alone arresting her. She doesn’t need special permission simply because she happens to be a reporter. 9/28/13 9:55pm

If you are in a place you aren’t supposed to be don’t   the authorities to ask. Ask someone that looks like a student not the cops.

Since she had previously contacted them to ask for credentials, I think it’s quite likely (especially if they had give so far as to let cops know who she was) that she was in fact not welcome. She probably would have been better off never having asked ahead of time.   9/28/13 8:12pm

Having said that, arresting, handcuffing and jailing a journalist under these circumstances is a ridiculous abuse of power. On the other hand, her stealth reporting skills need some honing.   9/28/13 8:45pm

If you *bought anything* in the State of São Paulo you´ve paid a sales tax, and 10% of this sales taxes goes directly to the State Universities, including the Universidade de São Paulo.

You – and everyone else – had the right to walk there.

Universidade de São Paulo is a public university, where there is no tuition fees and where even the food is subsidized by the taxpayer. 9/28/13 9:07pm

I was just at Yale recently and they didn’t bar me from entering this exact same space. 9/30/13 1:37am

If it helps, Woolsey Hall is part of a complex. The central building, which is what you enter from the street, houses the War Memorial. It has doors on both sides, and is commonly used as a thoroughfare between Bienecke Plaza (part of the Yale campus) and the public streets that lead to other parts of Yale’s campus.

Joaquim Barbosa, the Brazilian Supreme Court Justice, faces problems in his own country, and he did not wanted to talk with reporters. From what
I read in Portuguese and from what understand of US Law and American universities, Yale would not have requested the arrest of the journalists had Barbosa not request it.  (I hope that´s not some kind of exchange program for SC justices or something like that). 9/29/13 1:10am

Considering that The Guardian covered this story – this is saucy indeed and may fit the general view that US justice has dreated for itself overseas.


Posted on on November 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

I had recently the chance to speak with an advanced Brazilian and realized how important to Brazil the following article is!


Mismatch: why are human rights NGOs in emerging powers not emerging?

Nader ImageThere is a perverse see-saw effect in place within the BRICS countries. In Brazil, as the government grows in prominence and companies become more global and voracious, human rights NGOs face a sustainability crisis and find their budgets shrinking. Are these two developments connected?       PortuguêsEspañol 

Middle-income BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries are becoming more politically prominent, appearing on the covers of magazines and newspapers in the developed world, and being taken more seriously by the big investment banks.

This increasing clout is also reflected in international human rights arenas. In the marble corridors of the U.N. Human Rights Council, I often hear that it is now necessary to “have Brazil on board” to pass this or that resolution.

It would be healthy to expect that human rights NGOs in the BRICS are also gaining in strength. Surprisingly, this is not so. The mismatch between strong economic growth and fragile local human rights organizations is now very apparent in Brazil.

Historically dependent on both public and international funding, many Brazilian organizations now find themselves in a “funding vacuum,” an unanticipated victim of their country’s remarkable economic success. 

Consumers before citizens

Brazil has democratic institutions, reasonable economic growth and social policies that have enabled millions to rise above the poverty line and to begin consuming goods and services. Despite all this, citizens do not have access to basic human rights. Long-standing violations, such as the systematic torture of prisoners and displacement of indigenous groups to make way for hydroelectric dam construction, continue apace.

Anti-Belo Monte graffiti in Altamira, Brazil. Karen Hoffmann/Demotix. All rights Reserved.

A recent newspaper headline reported that people living in northeastern Brazil, the country’s poorest region, are buying washing machines even though they do not have running water, a basic human right and a state responsibility.

Alas, the consumer has come before the citizen, and Brazilian human rights organizations are at a critical juncture: They must continue their national struggle while at the same time consider internationalizing. This involves building closer relations with organizations from other countries, monitoring and influencing the foreign policy of the Brazilian state, and tracking the activities of Brazilian companies overseas. Most important, perhaps, Brazilian human rights NGOs must continue to help channel social demands into progressive advocacy and policies.  

But this is possible only with sustainable and predictable funding.

The funding crisis triad

Three factors contribute to the financial erosion of human-rights organizations in Brazil: dwindling international funds, inequitable public funds, and scant private funds.

Historically, human rights organizations in Brazil depended on international funding, particularly from bilateral cooperation agencies and development organizations linked to churches and political parties in the Northern Hemisphere. In the 1980s and ‘90s, experts claimed that some 80 percent of Brazilian human rights NGO budgets came from international funding – even if there is no reliable data to support this number.

Over the past decade, however, international assistance to Brazilian rights groups has suffered. After the global financial crisis of 2008 and Brazil’s graduation to middle-income status, at least 10 agencies withdrew their financial support, reformulated their priorities, or drastically reduced their allocations.

Other organizations began to focus on specific issues – especially the environment and agriculture – and concentrated their grants among a small group of organizations, or opted for partnerships with “more efficient” government organizations.

Today, experts estimate that between 40 percent and 50 percent of Brazilian human rights NGOs’ budgets come from international funding. Again, this number is debatable, but the downward trend is clear. Some agencies and foundations continue investing in Brazilian human rights groups, including the OAK Foundation, Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Canadian International Development Research Center, and the Open Society Foundations. Some also are investing in strengthening the ability of civil society in Southern countries to act internationally. Such, for example, is the aim of the Ford Foundation’s “Strengthen Human Rights Worldwide” initiative. Still, less international funds are available today for human rights work in Brazil.

Public funds in Brazil are also not a sustainable funding source. Today, less than 5 percent of the funds transferred by the Brazilian government to civil society are allocated to human-rights organizations. The rest goes to organizations that do social work or fill gaps in health, education, and the like. In addition, organizations that receive public funding are subject to extremely bureaucratic processes, and find it hard to maintain their independence and autonomy.

The situation would not be so difficult if Brazilian philanthropy had “emerged” at the same pace as the country’s international political and economic prominence. Brazilian companies invest $3-4 billion per year (U.S.) in social projects, but this is not enough, given the size of Brazil´s social problems. Furthermore, only 30 percent of this money is allocated to grant making for independent organizations. The rest is spent on corporate social responsibility projects run by the companies themselves. 

National philanthropy: a necessary (and long-term) commitment

The current weakness of the Brazilian international-public-private triad has led many local human rights organizations to rethink their fund-raising strategies and sustainability models.

Clearly, an increase in international funding would be welcome. This would have to involve not only an increase in dollars but also greater grant predictability and duration. One major challenge today is for international grant-makers to understand that when a Brazilian NGO wants to act legally and responsibly, its operating costs are much higher than they used to be. Legal fees, salaries, real estate, and other costs are rising in emerging economies, and are often even higher than in the global North.

There is no doubt that Brazilian private foundations could strengthen their support to human rights causes and organizations, as well as that public funds should be distributed more equitably and transparently to civil society organizations. The state must also boost its social investments, making sure that at least some of this new money finds its way to organizations that challenge the status quo, as human rights groups often do. This requires a review of the legal framework and an overhaul of the archaic practices that still govern state-society relations in Brazil. 

Brazilian citizens must also develop a more robust tradition of philanthropy. The country currently ranks 83rd among 147 countries listed in the World Giving Index, which uses Gallup polling data to measure national populations’ propensity to donate time and money to charitable activities and help strangers. To improve their country’s ranking, Brazilians must increase the amount they donate.

Human rights have a bad name

Many Brazilians see the country’s human-rights organizations as contributing to the high rates of murder and overall urban violence. The reasoning goes as follows: Brazil currently has around 50,000 murders per year – a number that exceeds the casualty counts in several international conflicts. By attempting to reduce police violence, prison overcrowding and torture, human-rights organizations are perceived as “protecting” impunity and generally contributing to societal fears and insecurities. Reversing this perception will be no easy task.

Human-rights organizations have several challenges ahead. They must redefine their funding priorities and improve their fund-raising operations, and they must become better communicators about the positive impact of their work.

National fund-raising must become a pillar of organizational development, integral to human-rights groups’ strategic planning. It’s essential to rethink fund-raising “know-how” – beyond such initiatives as crowd-funding and other new tools. New fund-raising capacities are vital, especially with regard to the Brazilian economic elite. There is no magic bullet: Human rights groups need money to restructure and learn how to raise more money locally. Sadly, it’s hard to focus on growing an organization’s fund-raising capacities in an era of austerity, where most available funds are tied to specific projects.

All this should be accompanied by innovation and investment in new communications strategies. Human-rights organizations must move from the defensive to the offensive, and focus on winning over more allies to the cause. This is not impossible: After all, younger generations seem to be looking for a cause as shown in the massive street protests that recently took over Brazilian streets.

There is one more challenge, and it’s about building mutual trust. The lack of national private funding for human-rights organizations, in a format that maintains their autonomy and independence, severely impedes their ability to be “anchored” in their own societies. They need not only financial support but also domestic constituencies. Human rights organizations must emerge not only from the funding vacuum, but also from a vacuum of public trust and political support.


Conectas receives funds from some of the foundations cited in this article.


Posted on on November 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (



Trophy touches down in Israel and Palestine Sunday 10 November 2013
Trophy touches down in Israel and Palestine

© Getty Images

The FIFA World Cup Trophy has been steadily making its way around the globe through the planned 90 countries, and having just completed its Caribbean tour, it has now landed in the Middle East for the first time.

Bringing the joy of football to the region, FIFA together with Coca-Cola have brought the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour to Israel and Palestine for two days, before heading off to Jordan. Accompanying the trophy for this trip is special guest, former FIFA World Cup™ participant and Argentina national team player and coach Gabriel Calderon. He will be with the trophy through all the local activities that the tour is planning for the coming two stops, where kids from schools, universities and local football clubs will have the opportunity to experience the magic of most powerful symbol in world football.

“I think it’s extremely important that every child gets the same opportunities to enjoy the world’s game. Playing regularly when I was young is what shaped me into the player I turned out to be,” Gabriel said as he arrived in Israel for his first stop. “I am extremely honoured that I have been asked to be part of the tour, and especially to visit this historical region, as it is a cause I truly believe in, and I am happy to play my part.” added the former Argentina star.

Joining Gabriel on the tour in Palestine and Jordan is FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein who is very excited to be welcoming the trophy to his home for the first time.

I think it’s extremely important that every child gets the same opportunities to enjoy the world’s game.
Gabriel Calderon, former Argentina midfielder and coach

The situation in the Middle East has prompted a mandate to be received by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter during the 63rd FIFA Congress. This mandate was brought about by several years of conflict and unrest, making it challenging to improve and develop the game, and as part of FIFA’s statutes to develop the game. The President took this matter to heart to ensure that everyone has equal access and opportunities to play football, and the tour is another sign of the commitment which FIFA and its Partners have outlined to develop the sport in the Middle East.

A special FIFA Task Force, chaired by the FIFA President, was created with the aim to help improve the situation of football in Palestine and Israel, more specifically to analyse different bilateral matters including facilitating the movement of players, referees and equipment in and out of and within Palestine. The ultimate objective is to improve the situation of football in the region, particularly so that FIFA can implement its mission of developing and promoting the game in accordance with the FIFA Statutes.

As a result of the historical meeting, the football associations of Israel and Palestine will implement a mechanism under the umbrella of FIFA that will facilitate the movement of persons and goods. This mechanism includes the modalities and notification requirements as well as the appointment of liaison officers within each association. A meeting will be held under the auspices of FIFA within four months to assess the level of cooperation, with a view to signing a memorandum of understanding at the 2014 FIFA Congress.

To find out more about the stops, the stars and the trophy, visit the official trophy tour’s Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.

FOLLOWING THE 2014 SERIES IN BRAZIL – the home of World Soccer...

Those that qualified for the 2014 games are:

Iran is thus the only Middle East State (or World Cup team – this being different as England is a player rather then the UK) to participate in Brazil.  Israel had to play in the European preliminaries as it is impossible to match it with an Arab State.



Posted on on October 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Looking backwards – we find the following Al-Jezeera Guide to Delegates to this year’s UN General Assembly pretty accurate.

The Al-Jezeera UN watch: Four names to keep tabs on at the general assembly.

The 68th United Nations General Assembly kicked off as what United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon described one of the highest turnouts in UN history. This Tuesday the United Nations General Assembly debate will begin with issues paramount to international security and peace. The Security Council, made up of five permanent members–US, Britain, France, Russia and China–will continue their meetings this week. Key matters being discussed include the Syria crisis and Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The meeting will begin with a statement from Ban Ki-Moon followed by remarks from the President of the 68th Session of the UNGA, John Ashe.

With over 130 representatives and leaders to attend the UNGA this year, Al Jazeera America profiles four world leaders to watch as the General Assembly and Security Council debates unfold.



Dilma Rousseff

Brazilian President Rousseff to speak first opening the UNGA general debate Tuesday
Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images

Country: Brazil

Title: President

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is scheduled to open the 68th United Nations General Assembly debate on Tuesday. Her attendance coincides with mounting tension between her country and the United States, after it was revealed that the U.S. had spied on her personal communications and those of other Brazilian citizens. Last week, Rousseff called off a planned state visit to Washington, and she may use her speech to criticize the U.S.’ global intelligence gathering. On the other hand, Rousseff could completely ignore Obama for lack of a formal apology for or response to investigations into the U.S. spying in Brazil. She faced the most dramatic challenge of her presidency this past summer amid massive social protests that erupted nationwide, focused on bus-fare increases but also challenging government corruption. Her U.N. speech offers her an opportunity to move beyond a tough domestic political environment and assert Brazilian interests and leadership on the global stage.

Rousseff, who began her career as a civil servant, and was arrested and tortured as a leftist guerilla fighter in the 1960s, became the first woman president of Brazil when she took office in 2011. The challenges Rousseff has faced lend credence to the reputation she has earned as Brazil’s ‘iron lady,’ characterized by her hard-hitting politics and assertive manner. In the past, she has held influential positions in municipal and state governments, eventually serving former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as chief of staff. In that position, Rousseff worked closely with oil giant Petrobras and helped draft a legislative framework for offshore drilling.

In 2011, just months after taking office, Rousseff became the first woman to open the debate at the 66th U.N. General Assembly. This year, Forbes named her the second most powerful woman in the world – behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Rouhani and President Obama anticipated to meet this week in New York

Country: Iran

Title: President

Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s newly-elected president, succeeded firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was known for his combative rhetoric and grandstanding hostility towards the West. Unlike the former president, Rouhani has adopted a more conciliatory posture towards the international community. Since entering office, he has made several diplomatic gestures, including an op-ed published in the The Washington Post asking world leaders “to respond genuinely to my government’s efforts to engage in constructive dialogue.”

Rouhani will address the assembly on Tuesday, but all eyes are on what he does on the sidelines of the event – specifically, whether he meets with President Barack Obama. They recently exchanged letters, igniting speculation that the two leaders will meet at the General Assembly. The meeting would be the first between a U.S. and Iranian president in more than 30 years, signaling a desire on both sides to find a diplomatic solution to the protracted standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.

The Glasgow-educated Rouhani’s experience working in Iran’s National Security Council and the backing for his diplomatic outreach by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, could be useful in continuing a diplomatic approach.

Viewed as a moderate, Rouhani began his career as a revolutionary activist before the 1979 overthrow of the Shah, and after the founding of the Islamic Republic took key roles in the Political, Defense, and Security Committee of the Expediency Council. He also served as a nuclear negotiator as the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for 16 years before assuming the presidency.

John Ashe

Ashe will play crucial role in sustainable development and Millennium Development Goals this session
Getty Images

Country: Antigua and Barbuda

Title: President, 68th United Nations General Assembly

The president of the 68th  United Nations General Assembly, John Ashe hails from the tiny Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. But while his country may not wield much international influence, Ashe takes on the responsibility of pressing the power players at the international body to focus on the pressing concerns of the majority of its members – most importantly, addressing climate change.

Ashe has been at the forefront of international efforts to address environmental challenges, and has made it an objective to push Goal 7, to ensure environmental sustainability on the Millennium Development Goals road map for the session this year.

The Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said Ashe will lead one of the most important assemblies to push forward MDG’s and sustainability with confidence. “He shares my passion for sustainable development — and my concern about the problem of climate change,” Ban said. “He demonstrated his commitment by serving on the governing bodies of major U.N. environmental agreements.”

Ashe’s efforts this year could help promote MDG’s sustainability goals in partnership  with the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, considered one of the largest in the history of the United Nations. In addition, his efforts this year could influence next year’s UN Conference on Small Island Developing States, set forth by a UNGA resolution to address key environmental concerns affecting island nations.

Ashe has served in many roles chiefly as a United Nations diplomat. Previously, he served as the Chairman of the 13th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development at the United Nations in 2005 and chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol.

Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov will play crucial role in the Security Council meetings over the crisis in Syria
Getty Images

Country: Russia

Title: Foreign Minister

Russian foreign minister Lavrov began serving in the Soviet foreign ministry in 1973, a year after graduating Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He has held positions for the Soviet mission to the United Nations in New York City in 1981 and since then, has continued to play an instrumental part in both the foreign ministry and Russia Permanent Mission for the past 30 years. Lavrov has functioned as the president of the Security Council seven times throughout his diplomatic career. His experience within the Security Council, Russia’s close relationship with Syria and its position as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council made Lavrov a key player in the Syria crisis, brokering the chemical-weapons deal that has, at least for now, avoided U.S. military action against the Assad regime.

The deal, however, remains fragile. On Saturday, Syria disclosed details of chemical weapons to meet the deadline Russia and the U.S. had set, but Moscow and Washington continue to struggle over whether force should be threatened if Syria fails to keep its obligations.

Lavrov has publicly stated on many occasions that Russia would veto any resolution approving the use of force in case of Syrian violations. Kerry is in strong support of a resolution for military reinforcement should Syria violate its compliance to destroy chemical weapons. The resolution would fall under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which allows the international body to approve military action. The five permanent members of the Security Council – Russia, United States, China, United Kingdom and France – will meet this week.


Posted on on September 27th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (



julia sweig

25/09/2013 -   Folha de S.Paulo

Perguntas retrospectivas.


Ouvir o texto

Visualize o cenário nos bastidores do dia de abertura da Assembleia-Geral das Nações Unidas, ontem. Enquanto Dilma e Obama aguardavam juntos para fazer seus discursos, será que Obama indicou estar aberto ao chamado dela de reconhecer o direito à privacidade como direito humano, civil, e soberano?

Terá Dilma desejado sorte a Obama na busca de apoio por uma resolução sobre a Síria? Duvido. As divergências deles em relação a questões importantes de governança global e segurança internacional parecem pronunciadas, novamente.

Longe das câmeras, porém, quem sabe eles tenham se cumprimentado até calorosamente, com um suspiro de alívio –felizes, por motivos diferentes, por terem “adiado” a visita de Estado e o jantar oficial.

Dilma não precisa mais se preocupar com a inevitável e superficial crítica da imprensa ao seu vestido de baile. Mais seriamente, não precisa sentir-se frustrada pelo fato de a agenda bilateral, mesmo antes do escândalo da NSA, não possuir a ambição substantiva à qual faria jus um evento tão carregado de simbolismo. E Obama, conhecido por sua aversão às exigências sociais da Presidência, talvez se alegre com a perspectiva de passar uma noite tranquila com Michelle e suas filhas ou cuidando de questões mais importantes para seu legado.

O escândalo da NSA, a resposta da Casa Branca e a decisão de Dilma de cancelar a visita revelaram a fraqueza do relacionamento EUA-Brasil. Tirando grandes empresas, nem Dilma nem Obama têm bases eleitorais que estejam pedindo o fortalecimento dos laços. Com notáveis exceções, a linguagem corporal das burocracias de Washington e Brasília agora corre o risco de reverter para a de uma era anterior, marcada pelo ceticismo mútuo.

Terá Brasília novamente concluído que Washington se opõe fortemente à ascensão do Brasil? Terá Washington voltado a supor que o Brasil prefira exercer o papel de alternativa à hegemonia americana –quer seja em relação à governança da internet, na América Latina ou em uma série de questões globais? Espero que não, mas a percepção corre o risco de virar realidade.

Uma análise retrospectiva do “adiamento” da visita impõe o reconhecimento de verdades difíceis: Obama não pediu desculpas ao povo ou às empresas americanas pela espionagem da NSA. Ele demorou a reconhecer os excessos e violações de privacidade cometidos e de maneira alguma obrigou a NSA a suspender a espionagem. É difícil imaginar o Brasil recebendo resposta melhor que a que a população americana recebeu até agora.

Em vista do legado de espionagem de Estado no Brasil –cometida por um regime militar apoiado pelos EUA–, será que autoridades americanas esperavam que os brasileiros se orgulhassem da espionagem da NSA, enxergando-a como sinal da importância que Washington atribui ao Brasil no sistema global?

Com relação à vigilância da NSA, Washington tem uma divergência política séria com o Brasil e várias outras democracias importantes. A diplomacia não poderia resolver essa diferença. Mas, em vista da importância do Brasil como centro de passagem de cabos transatlânticos de fibra ótica, Dilma e Obama realmente têm o que discutir.

DivulgaçãoJulia Sweig é diretora do programa de América Latina e do Programa Brasil do Council on Foreign Relations, centro de estudos da política internacional dos EUA. Escreve às quartas-feiras, a cada duas semanas na versão impressa do caderno de ‘Mundo’.


Postmortem Questions

Author: Julia E. Sweig, Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies and Director for Latin America Studies
September 25, 2013
Folha de Sao Paulo

Originally published in Portuguese on Folha de Sao Paulo:

Picture the scene back stage at the opening day of the United Nations General Assembly yesterday. As Dilma and Obama waited together to give their speeches, did Obama indicate an open mind to Dilma’s call the right to privacy as a civil, human, and sovereign right? Did Dilma wish Obama well in rallying support for a Syria resolution? I doubt it. These days their differences over major issues in global governance and international security again appear pronounced.

Away from the cameras, however, who knows if they greeted one another even warmly, with a knowing sigh of relief, happy, for different reasons, to have “postponed” the State visit and dinner. Dilma doesn’t have to worry about the inevitable, superficial press criticism of her ball gown. More seriously, she doesn’t have to feel frustrated that the bilateral agenda, even before the NSA scandal, lacked the substantive ambition to match such a symbolic event. Obama too, known for his distaste for the social demands of the presidency, might look forward to a quiet evening with Michelle and their daughters, or tend to issues of more legacy-defining consequence.

The NSA scandal, the White House’s response to it, and Dilma’s decision to cancel the state visit, have revealed the weakness of the US-Brazil relationship. Other than big business, neither Dilma nor Obama have constituents clamoring for stronger ties. With notable exceptions, the body language of bureaucracies in Washington and Brasilia now risks reverting to that of another era, when mutual skepticism prevailed.

Has Brasilia again concluded that Washington is dead set against Brazil’s rise? Has Washington reverted to the assumption that Brazil prefers to play the role of an alternative to American hegemony—whether on internet governance, in Latin America, or on a slew of global issues? I hope not, but perception, the cliché suggests, risks becoming reality.

A post mortem of the State visit’s “postponement” requires hard truths: President Obama hasn’t apologized to the American people or American companies for NSA spying. He has been slow to acknowledge the overreach and violations of privacy, and certainly has not compelled the NSA to stop its surveillance. It is hard to imagine Brazil achieving a better response than the American people have to date.

Given the legacy of state surveillance in Brazil—by a U.S.-supported military régime—did U.S. officials expect Brazilians to take pride in the NSA spying as a sign of just how important Washington regards Brazil’s place in the global system?

On NSA surveillance, Washington has a serious policy difference with Brazil and a number of other major democracies. Diplomacy couldn’t bridge the divide. But given Brazil’s importance as a hub for transatlantic fiber optic cables, Dilma and Obama really do have something to talk about.



Posted on on September 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

When several months ago I expressed my outrage at a Brazil-America Business meeting – both sides said that his was common practice – maybe on Wall Street – but I did not accept their self serving argument.
I am glad thus that Dilma does take a principled position and maybe President Obama will tell his agencies that there are limits to US Oil.<

Germany is yet to express their own disgust – but then they have elections so they think this is an excuse.


Brazil’s Leader Postpones State Visit to Washington Over Spying.

Published: September 17, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, said Tuesday that she was postponing a state visit to the United States, delivering a sharp rebuke to the Obama administration over revelations that the National Security Agency had spied on her, her inner circle of top aides and Brazil’s largest company, the oil giant Petrobras.

Snowden Among Nominees for a European Human Rights Prize (September 18, 2013)
N.S.A. Spied on Brazilian Oil Company, Report Says (September 9, 2013)
N.S.A. Able to Foil Basic Safeguards of Privacy on Web (September 6, 2013)

The move by Ms. Rousseff showed how the disclosures of United States surveillance practices by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor, were aggravating Washington’s ties with an array of nations, including European allies like Germany.

In the case of Brazil, Latin America’s largest nation, the move to effectively suspend a state visit to the United States — a remarkably rare decision in the annals of diplomacy — threatens to unravel years of Washington’s efforts to recognize Brazil’s rising profile in the developing world and blunt the growing influence of China, which has surpassed the United States as Brazil’s top trading partner.

President Obama spoke with Ms. Rousseff by telephone for 20 minutes on Monday night, but failed to persuade her to go through with the visit, which had been scheduled for late October. A series of news reports about N.S.A. spying in Brazil had clearly irked Ms. Rousseff in recent weeks, and her government demanded a full explanation from Washington.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had called Ms. Rousseff to try to ease tension over the spying revelations, and Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Brazil to discuss the matter, with officials in Brasília publicly criticizing his explanations as unsatisfactory. Susan E. Rice, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, said last week that reports about the N.S.A.’s activities in Brazil had raised “legitimate questions,” a statement falling short of Brazil’s expectations.

“Washington doesn’t do contrition very well,” said Julia E. Sweig, director for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, emphasizing how the relationship between United States and Brazil was still not strong enough to withstand the turmoil over the N.S.A. revelations.

The White House insisted in a statement on Tuesday that the “broad relationship” between Brazil and the United States “should not be overshadowed by a single bilateral issue, no matter how important or challenging the issue may be.” For that reason, the statement said, Mr. Obama and Ms. Rousseff agreed to postpone the visit to an undetermined time.

In addition to their telephone conversation on Monday night, Ms. Rousseff and Mr. Obama had discussed the N.S.A. revelations during the meeting of Group of 20 leaders in St. Petersburg, Russia, this month, the White House pointed out.

“The president has said that he understands and regrets the concerns that disclosures of alleged U.S. intelligence activities have generated in Brazil and made clear that he is committed to working together with President Rousseff and her government in diplomatic channels to move beyond this issue as a source of tension in our bilateral relationship,” the statement said.

The White House also said that a broad review of the American intelligence posture would take several months to complete, and that the leaders had agreed that the visit should be delayed until the spying issue was resolved.

Meanwhile, while commerce is still thriving between Brazil and the United States, business leaders and trade experts in both countries were trying to gauge how putting the visit off would affect efforts to bolster ties.

“It’s simply disappointing to see this turn in policy,” said Christian Lohbauer, a political scientist at the University of São Paulo who has represented Brazilian exporters of orange juice. “The diplomatic agenda should be focused on what’s practical for both nations, which in Brazil’s case is developing its economy through strong relations with a country like the United States.”

But even before Ms. Rousseff’s announcement, expectations were low for the concrete results of the state visit. No major trade agreement was anticipated, and Washington has refrained from explicitly supporting Brazil’s bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, as Mr. Obama did for India in 2010.

Ahead of 2014 elections, Ms. Rousseff stands to gain among some elements within the governing Workers Party by meeting their demands for a strong response on the spying issue, but political analysts here pointed out that Brazil’s move was still relatively mild, and avoided the expulsion of United States diplomats or limits on investments by American companies.

“It’s a friction point in relations but not a breakup,” said Geraldo Zahran, a specialist on Brazil’s ties with the United States at Pontifical Catholic University in São Paulo.

Still, others assailed Washington’s response to Brazil in the face of growing ire over the espionage revelations, reports of which have been televised nationally for weeks. As resentment festered in Brasília, the Obama administration seemed to put the tension with Brazil on the back burner, focusing on other issues like Syria.

“The inaction in the face of such an overreach has proved costly,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington policy group, about the administration’s efforts to offset the damage caused by the spying. “Washington would be wise to reflect on what this means for its most crucial diplomatic efforts in this hemisphere.”

Michael D. Shear contributed reporting from Washington.


Posted on on September 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Significant New NSA Stories to Be Published Imminently.

By Glenn Greenwald, Guardian UK

September 8, 2013

The implications of the prior week’s reporting of NSA stories continue to grow.

I’m currently working on what I believe are several significant new NSA stories, to be published imminently here, as well as one very consequential story about NSA spying in Brazil that will first be broadcast Sunday night on the Brazilian television program Fantastico (because the report has worldwide implications, far beyond Brazil, it will be translated into English and then quickly published on the internet). Until then, I’m posting below the video of the 30-minute interview I did yesterday on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez about our NSA encryption story and ongoing US/UK attacks on press freedom (the transcript of that interview is here).

There has been some excellent commentary on the implications of the NSA/GCHQ encryption story we published this week. The LA Times’ Jim Healey says the story is “the most frightening” yet, and explains why he thinks that. The Bloomberg technology columnist David Meyer’s analysis of what this all means is worth reading in its entirety. In the Guardian, security expert Bruce Schneier, who has worked with us on a couple of soon-to-be-published stories, identifies 5 ways to maintain the privacy of your internet communications notwithstanding the efforts of the NSA and GCHQ to induce companies to build vulnerabilities into certain types of encryption.

As for Brazil, the fallout continues from our report last week on Fantastico revealing the NSA’s very personal and specific surveillance targeting of Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff and then-leading-candidate (now Mexican president) Enrique Peña Nieto (the NSA documents we published about those activities are here). In an interview this week with The Hindu’s Shobhan Saxena, Brazil’s highly popular ex-president Lula vehemently condemned NSA spying abuses and said Obama should “personally apologize to the world”. The New York Times’ Simon Romero has a good article from yesterday on the thus-far-unsuccessful attempts by Obama to placate the anger in the region from this report. As for the new report coming Sunday night in Brazil, please take note of this adamant statement last week from the NSA, as reported by the Washington Post [asterisks in original]:

“US intelligence services are making routine use around the world of government-built malware that differs little in function from the ‘advanced persistent threats’ that US officials attribute to China. The principal difference, US officials told The Post, is that China steals US corporate secrets for financial gain.

‘The Department of Defense does engage’ in computer network exploitation, according to an e-mailed statement from an NSA spokesman, whose agency is part of the Defense Department. ‘The department does ***not*** engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.’”

In Europe this week, President Obama has been making similar claims when asked about NSA spying, repeatedly assuring people that NSA surveillance is overwhelmingly devoted to stopping terrorism threats.

One big problem the NSA and US government generally have had since our reporting began is that their defenses offered in response to each individual story are quickly proven to be false by the next story, which just further undermines their credibility around the world. That NSA denial I just excerpted above has already been disproven by several reports (see, for instance, the letter published in this article, or the last document published here), but after Sunday, I think it will prove to be perhaps the NSA’s most misleading statement yet.


N.S.A. Spied on Brazilian Oil Company, Report Says

From Rio de Janeiro for The New York Times
Published: September 9, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO — The National Security Agency spied on Petrobras, Brazil’s giant national oil company, according to a report here on Sunday night by the Globo television network, in the latest revelation of the agency’s surveillance methods that have raised tension between Brazil and the United States.
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Still, details were sparse in the report as to precisely what information the N.S.A. may have obtained from spying on Petrobras, raising questions about what objectives the agency could have in targeting the company, which is controlled by Brazil’s government and ranks among the world’s largest oil producers.

The report, based on documents obtained from Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor, said Petrobras figured among other prominent N.S.A. targets, including Google; the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift, a consortium based in Belgium that aims to allow banks around the world to securely exchange financial information; and France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It was the latest in a series of reports here in which Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist living in Rio de Janeiro who is working with Globo, has shed light on N.S.A. activities in Latin America from documents given to him by Mr. Snowden.

In a report last week, Globo revealed that the N.S.A. had spied on the presidents of Brazil and Mexico and their top aides, producing an angry reaction from Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, who held out the possibility of canceling a state visit to Washington in October that was arranged to recognize Brazil’s importance to the United States.

In a statement issued after the Globo report was aired, James R. Clapper, the Obama administration’s director of national intelligence, said that it was no secret that the United States government collected intelligence about financial matters. Mr. Clapper said that doing so was needed to gather insight into the economic policies of other countries.

“What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line,” Mr. Clapper said in the statement.

Petrobras did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the televised report on Sunday night.

Globo acknowledged in its report that it was unclear what information the N.S.A. was seeking by spying on Petrobras, but the television network emphasized that the company controlled vast quantities of data on Brazil’s offshore oil fields. Brazil is planning to auction exploration licenses in October that would allow foreign oil companies to form ventures with Petrobras to explore for oil in deep-sea areas.

Petrobras has symbolized Brazil’s ambition of emerging as a global energy powerhouse after discoveries over the last decade of large offshore oil reserves, but the sprawling company has recently struggled with delays of major oil projects, soaring debt and declining production at some of its older offshore oil fields.

In contrast to some other major oil-producing countries like Mexico and Saudi Arabia, where state-controlled oil companies hold monopolies, Brazil already allows international oil companies to have extensive operations. While Petrobras still wields by far the most influence in Brazil’s oil industry, American, Chinese and European energy companies have been seeking to expand here.


Further pearls you find at… There you get info on how the UN covers some of these topics.


Posted on on July 29th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

This posting is based on the reporting of our friend Matthew Russell Lee on
His observations were titled: “As Brazil Gets Olympic Baton, No Questions on Spending, UK Lobbied by Saudi.”

UNITED NATIONS, July 29, 2013 — UN’s Ban Ki-moon presided at the event – the transfer of the Summer Olympics baton from UK to Brazil – that was held at 3pm today in front of room #2 in the North Building (the previously temporary building) at UN Headquarters in New York. Lucky UN Secretary General – finally someone actually asked for his help in an important Inter-National procedure.

Ban Ki-moon, fresh from issuing a statement about the attack on a building housing Turkish personnel in Mogadishu, arrived and the speeches began.

A range of Permanent Representatives showed up: Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg and her counterparts Costa Rica’s Eduardo Ulibarri-Bilbao, Bolivia’s Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz, Gabon’s Nelson Messone, New Zealand’s Jim Mclay, Kazakhstan’s Byrganym Aitimova (an Olympian, who also spoke at China’s Li Baodong’s farewell), Saudi Arabia’s Abdallah Yahya A. Al-Mouallimi and Kenya’s Macharia Kamau.

The main actors were nevertheless the pair: UK’s Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant and Brazil’s new Permanent Representative Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado who is one of our favorites because he saved the UN last year at the RIO+20 Conference that without his accoutrement could have sounded the practical end of these Non-united Nations.

Ambassador Lyall Grant joked about “Big Ban” in front of Big Ben; Ban used the opportunity to talk up the 2018 Winter Olympics in his native South Korea, which Yonhap says he will visit for six days in late August, and Brazil’s Ambassador Figueiredo Machado talked about trying to live up to London’s standard.

The UK Mission to the UN asked journalists accredited by the UN system to RSVP and put it in the UN Media Alert – this unlike the morning’s General Assembly briefing on Syria that seemingly nobody at the UN wanted to publicize.

A riser for camera-persons had been set up; there were speakers for sound and UNTV was there. We were not there but it seems the event was just something to see but not to ask any questions about – that is what angered Mr. Lee and it shows clearly in his report. Investigative journalists have difficulty in situations engineered by the UN where you cannot put up questions. In the end this decreases media coverage.

What Mr. Lee would have wanted to ask relates to spending on the Olympics, the location of newly built stadiums and Sustainability. He also had prepared questions about FIFA who gave the World Cup to Qatar, with talk now turning to holding it in the winter due to heat. Or does Ban Ki-moon think it’s “sustainable” to try to air-condition an outdoor stadium?

Oh well – not able to ask questions he just used his eyes and saw at the end of the event, Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative Abdallah Yahya A. Al-Mouallimi, who spoke earlier in the day about Syria, was seen chatting now up Lyall Grant. Inner City Press asked Kenya’s Permanent Representative Macharia Kamau what brought him to the event. “We always do well,” he joked, “we need commitments to get good starting places,” he said.

At the UN the games are always on – the Olympics are only a sometime thing.


N.S.A. Spied on Brazilian Oil Company, Report Says
Published: September 9, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO — The National Security Agency spied on Petrobras, Brazil’s giant national oil company, according to a report here on Sunday night by the Globo television network, in the latest revelation of the agency’s surveillance methods that have raised tension between Brazil and the United States.
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Still, details were sparse in the report as to precisely what information the N.S.A. may have obtained from spying on Petrobras, raising questions about what objectives the agency could have in targeting the company, which is controlled by Brazil’s government and ranks among the world’s largest oil producers.

The report, based on documents obtained from Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor, said Petrobras figured among other prominent N.S.A. targets, including Google; the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift, a consortium based in Belgium that aims to allow banks around the world to securely exchange financial information; and France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It was the latest in a series of reports here in which Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist living in Rio de Janeiro who is working with Globo, has shed light on N.S.A. activities in Latin America from documents given to him by Mr. Snowden.

In a report last week, Globo revealed that the N.S.A. had spied on the presidents of Brazil and Mexico and their top aides, producing an angry reaction from Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, who held out the possibility of canceling a state visit to Washington in October that was arranged to recognize Brazil’s importance to the United States.

In a statement issued after the Globo report was aired, James R. Clapper, the Obama administration’s director of national intelligence, said that it was no secret that the United States government collected intelligence about financial matters. Mr. Clapper said that doing so was needed to gather insight into the economic policies of other countries.

“What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line,” Mr. Clapper said in the statement.

Petrobras did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the televised report on Sunday night.

Globo acknowledged in its report that it was unclear what information the N.S.A. was seeking by spying on Petrobras, but the television network emphasized that the company controlled vast quantities of data on Brazil’s offshore oil fields. Brazil is planning to auction exploration licenses in October that would allow foreign oil companies to form ventures with Petrobras to explore for oil in deep-sea areas.

Petrobras has symbolized Brazil’s ambition of emerging as a global energy powerhouse after discoveries over the last decade of large offshore oil reserves, but the sprawling company has recently struggled with delays of major oil projects, soaring debt and declining production at some of its older offshore oil fields.

In contrast to some other major oil-producing countries like Mexico and Saudi Arabia, where state-controlled oil companies hold monopolies, Brazil already allows international oil companies to have extensive operations. While Petrobras still wields by far the most influence in Brazil’s oil industry, American, Chinese and European energy companies have been seeking to expand here.


Matthew Russell Lee also writes that the “Club des Chefs des Chefs” — literally, 25 of those who cook for heads of state — will set up shop in room S-310 – the room the UN gives to the UN Correspondents Association (UNCA), along with an also locked-up pantry.

There is something rotten cooking in this kitchen, alongside the gushed-out presence of “White House top chef Chisteta Comerford and, yes, “Her Majesty the Queen’s chef Mark Flanagan.”

We really know nothing more then that, and wonder if this is part of the UN preoccupation with poverty and hunger in the world. These Chefs surely can help when it comes to bake that famous French Queen’s cake – seems like another feat of good diplomacy – this time wrapped in secrecy.


Posted on on July 28th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

The reports say that at the final event on Copacabana beach there were THREE MILLION PEOPLE IN ATTENDANCE.…

With pope in Rio, sin-city revelry yields to piety.

By Juan Forero, Published: July 27, 2013 for The Americas in The Washington Post

IN RIO DE JANEIRO — Temptation is obvious everywhere — there are the beaches and the bikinis, the sultry samba beat and, as even the visiting Pope Francis cautioned in a memorable quip, the local sugar-cane-based liquor, cachaca, which packs a wallop.

Rio’s enthralling attributes weren’t lost on Carlos Carrillo, a 37-year-old American pilgrim who said he was well aware of the place’s ribald reputation before he arrived here for the pope’s first overseas journey. “This is sin city,” said Carrillo, a cargo screener who traveled with seven other Catholics from his California parish.

But during the pontiff’s visit, which ends Sunday with a final Mass on the usually hedonistic Copacabana beach, the bawdy Rio of samba nightclubs and Carnival gave way to a different kind of festival. That would be the week-long annual World Youth Day, a gathering of young Catholics from around the globe who this year came to Brazil to renew their faith with Francis at the dawn of his papacy.

Think of it as Woodstock for Catholics, minus Jimi Hendrix, the free love and the marijuana.

“Show your love for Christ,” Francis exhorted, and they have, coming from nearly 180 countries to atone for sins and strengthen their bond with the Church. That they are doing it in Rio — a city world-famous for its wild and often drunken revelry, which has earned it the church’s censure over the years — at first might seem to be a contradiction.

But while Rio may be known for luring partygoers, it also has long attracted missionaries, preachers and all manner of Christian soldiers who know they’ll find folks in need of spiritual cleansing here — sinners of every stripe. The proof is in the elaborate evangelical churches in the city, among the world’s biggest, the myriad soapbox preachers and the strong presence of the Catholic Church.

“Biblically speaking, Christ always goes to the darkest places,” Carrillo said. “The way I see it, he’s reeling in people, in that sense.”

Many young Catholics said they came to focus on their faith, not Rio’s enticements. Camila Lara, 18, from Parana state in Brazil’s south, said she was especially drawn by the chance to show contrition, made easy here by the Catholic Church’s “we’ll come to you” strategy.

She asked for forgiveness, like many others, at Rio’s Quinta da Boa Vista Park, where priests and the pope listened to penitents in makeshift confessionals (Francis heard from three Brazilians, a Venezuelan and an Italian).

“Sincerely, for me, it was the best confession I ever had,” Lara said.

For the Rev. Antoine d’Eudeville, a priest from Paris who heard confessions in the park, it was an unusually gratifying experience. He had just heard the pope speak Friday night from an elaborate stage on the beach at Copacabana and was reflecting on a spirited week packed with religious events.

“For us priests, it’s a special time, because it’s not usual to have young people come to us asking for forgiveness,” d’Eudeville said. “Some people don’t go for years.”

Indeed, a recent poll on religious trends in Brazil showed that, among Catholics, 48 percent had not been to church even once in the last month, another blow for a church that once had a virtual lock on the Brazilian soul. Also sobering was the revelation that fewer than 45 percent of Brazilians between the ages of 16 and 24 identify themselves as Catholics.

But with Francis here, the Catholic Church reigns supreme — at least for now — with organizers estimating that 2 million people flooded the beach at Copacabana on Saturday night to see the pope, the Associated Press reported. That is twice as many as were on hand during the last world youth day, in Madrid two years ago.

D’Eudeville, in fact, commented on how Catholicism in Brazil seems to be so much “more a part of people’s lives, more so than in France.”

He was especially moved, he said, by the young Catholics seeking absolution. “Young people here are strengthened in their faith, in their trust in God,” he said. “They dare go to confession and go to a priest and say heavy things, unload heavy burdens.”

Young Catholics interviewed in the streets of Copacabana, their countries’ flags draped across their shoulders, said they were heeding the pontiff’s message. And Francis, who has been lauded for his plain-spoken ways, told his followers: “Jesus never tires of forgiving us.”

“Everyone’s a sinner,” said Denise Ramos, 22, a university student from Brasilia, the capital. “It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. You can always confess. You can always come closer to God.”

Ramos did, and she said it made her feel “relief.”

“I feel very pure,” she said, standing on a street corner, surrounded by friends nodding in agreement. “I feel almost lighter.”

Ramos, like other college-age visitors to one of the world’s great cities, said she’s well aware of Rio’s secular offerings.

“I’ve been already to Lapa and bars there,” she said, referring to the famous downtown district and its samba clubs. “But going to samba concerts doesn’t mean that I’m a sinner.”

Young Catholics, she said, need to find an equilibrium between religion and the pleasures of youth. “We need to know how to do this, know how to live in the world of today without abandoning being Catholics,” she said.

The organizers seem to have recognized that. So people who went to Copacabana to see an elaborate reenactment of Jesus’s crucifixion presided over by Francis could also hear Catholic rock bands jam on the sand.

The faithful also took in the sights. Carrillo, the cargo screener from California, recounted a tour to the Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio’s white-sand beaches and its eclectic neighborhoods.

A friend of his from California, Miguel Galindo, 19, nodded in agreement.

“The way I see it,” he said, “Rio has the right balance. You have your fun, and you have your spirituality.”


Posted on on July 25th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

from:  pschierl at

The 7th Latin American and Caribbean Carbon Forum (LACCF) will take place August 28–30, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The conference, the foremost event for knowledge sharing and networking on current and future carbon trends, is expected to attract a wide range of government officials, business experts, major international investors and local financial institutions to share experiences on low emissions development, innovative climate finance instruments and domestic initiatives.

While the focus is on the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, the agenda will also take stock of global climate policy and market developments such as the mapping of carbon pricing initiatives at regional and domestic levels to put a price on carbon to stimulate climate-smart investments, as well as carbon taxation and what is needed to make the market more attractive for the private sector.

For details on the event and for free registration, visit the website -…

The Latin American and Caribbean Carbon Forum (LACCF) is a free of charge regional conference and exhibition platform established in 2006 to promote knowledge and information sharing while facilitating business opportunity environments among main carbon market stakeholders.

Building on the success of six previous editions, the 2013 Latin American & Caribbean Carbon Forum (LACCF) will be held on 28-30 August, at the Windsor Barra Hotel, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This annual Conference and Exhibition is jointly organized by the World Bank, the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and its UNEP Risø Centre, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

With over 800 local, regional and international participants from private, public and the financial sectors and this unique mix of co-organizers, the LACCF is the pre-eminent regional ‘Pulse Taking’ and ‘Business to Business’ platform. It brings together leading individuals and organizations in the field to share knowledge and information, discuss new tendencies, propose solutions, and identify business opportunities in a rapidly changing area towards low carbon economies and societies.

This event occurs at a crucial moment for global carbon markets:


With the widespread uncertainty as to the architecture of the carbon market post-2012.

The increasing fragmentation of the market.

The abundance of emerging mechanisms and sources of climate finance.


The core objective of the
LACCF is to bring together main stakeholders of the climate change mitigation arena and the carbon markets such as:


Designated National Authorities (DNAs), national climate change focal points, investment promotion agencies;

Project owners, project developers and potential CDM sectoral institutions;

Financial institutions, national development banks, stock exchanges, service providers and intermediary companies.

The LACCF promotes a discussion and exchange of experiences among these stakeholders and provide participants with the latest developments regarding emissions trading schemes, low emission development and the future of the carbon markets .

The Forum also facilitates debates around the international and national climate change mitigation policies to promote greenhouse gases (GHG) emission reductions. Finally the LACCF seeks new impulses for increasing a higher volume of low carbon investments in Latin American and the Caribbean.

Specifically, the VII Latin American Carbon Forum aims to:

* Updating on the different views of the challenges associated with global climate change, and the most recent developments in the international carbon market;
* Discussing with project developers and technical specialists of a wide range of sectors and technologies arising from best practices and lessons learned for the implementation of CDM projects and Programmatic CDM in Latin America and the Caribbean region;
* Learning from the most respected experts from the public and private sector on strategies and measures aimed to reduce GHG and to promote the benefits of the CDM in the region;
* Discussing about the potentialities of the carbon markets under the upcoming mitigation efforts to be implemented at international and national levels;
* Developing the understanding of NAMAs and and Low Carbon Development Strategies;
* Advancing the understanding of new market mechanisms;
* Learning on climate financing and green investments in Latin America and the Caribbean region;
* Holding bilateral meetings, both as attendance and by virtual means, between the national CDM offices, project owners, buyers of carbon credits, etc., during the business sessions; and
* Seize opportunities to establish contacts throughout the Forum.


The Forum is hosted by the Government of the State of Rio de Janeiro and is convened once again by a partnership amongst the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and its Risø Centre, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Bank.


Posted on on July 19th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Future of U.S. Surveillance

NSA Revelations an Opportunity for United States and Brazil.

Julia E. Sweig

Although revelations of NSA spying provoked an angry reaction last week in Brazil, the United States and Brazil should treat the crisis as an opportunity. Read the Op-Ed…

Meekly – the CFR said:

We are now three months away from President Dilma’s state visit to Washington. For the last few years, the big unfinished items on the bilateral agenda have been trade and the Security Council. Not so defense.

A defense cooperation agreement signed in 2010, even as tension over Iran might well have thwarted it, has created some profitable long term opportunities for Brazilian and American defense firms to enter one another’s markets. Progress in this space is remarkable, if for some uncomfortable, given the history of mutual suspicion when it comes to security affairs.

Now the arena of cyber security and internet governance—sovereign and global—also has the potential to create some very interesting presidential conversations about the tensions these two leaders face between privacy, human rights, civil liberties and security, and about the differences and potential synergies in our cultures of innovation and industrial policy. The topic also opens a door into the global personalities of the two countries, in this case regarding the merits and demerits of multilateral institutions for governing the internet.

Finally, are there any lessons to be learned regarding South America and regional security? Brazil’s experience with SIVAM is an example not only of extensive cooperation and technology sharing between Brazil and the United States—in this case via the defense giant Raytheon—but also an instance wherein Brazil seems to have avoided provoking its neighbors with a sovereign surveillance system, the potential impact of which need not be limited to Brazil’s territorial borders. Although the parallels are imperfect, it might be instructive for the presidents of the two biggest democracies in the Americas to recall the positive SIVAM experience when having the inevitable heart to heart about the NSA disclosures.”

The issue is what will be said behind closed doors and how the US will explain that massive surveillance that clearly had nothing to do with security?


Will Snowden Come Between United States and Latin America?

Christopher Sabatini

Recent revelations about U.S. surveillance activities in Latin America have provoked a range of negative responses from regional leaders, but the practical consequences will be marginal. Read the Interview…

Recent leaks reveal that U.S. surveillance programs extended into Latin America, going beyond security and military affairs into commercial enterprises as well. How surprising is this?

It’s surprising that in most of the cases, the United States was spying on some of its closest allies in the region. Mexico, Colombia, Brazil—these weren’t places that were hotbeds of terrorism or where we were even spying or gathering information on matters of terrorism. If proven true, [the allegations] reveal that we were gathering information that extended beyond the supposed justification for the NSA program.

Second, while all countries spy on each other, what’s different is the type of spying. We were massively collecting information, potentially even on their citizens communicating with each other. That has triggered an understandable reaction from these governments for the United States to explain what it was doing. This isn’t government-to-government spying, or even government spying on people they suspect could place our national interests at risk. This is casting a very wide net both in terms of the people whose information is being collected and also the topics around which it’s being collected. If proven to be true, this surveillance may very much violate the U.S. congressional justification under which a lot of this had occurred. A third surprising element, if proven true, is that the United States was doing this with the complicity of telecom companies in Brazil—though the U.S. ambassador to Brazil denies these reports.

Some critics have accused some of these countries of hypocrisy for denouncing the United States, because they have their own domestic wiretapping programs. So to what extent is this about privacy, or are the reactions more about sovereignty?

First, there was a lot of heated rhetoric from some leaders even before the allegations came out—about the asylum-seeking, about the unfortunate grounding of President Morales’s plane—that goes far beyond the legitimate concerns of what the spying actually entailed. That rhetoric spilled over in ways that are not very constructive, to the point where you even had Mercosur, a trade association, promise to pull its ambassadors out of Europe—a move that goes far beyond the actual functions of a supposed customs union.

Additionally, two presidential summits have been dedicated to this in Latin America—the Unasur summit that brought together [Rafael] Correa, [Nicolas] Maduro, and [Cristina] Kirchner to denounce the grounding of Evo Morales’s plane, and then Mercosur. It seems disproportionate that so much of these presidents’ time, especially in countries that are facing very severe economic news, would be dedicated to this at a summit level. That’s unprecedented when compared to other regions.

Second, it is largely a sovereignty issue. For a number of these countries, the memories of authoritarian regimes spying on citizens, rounding up activists and opposition, are still very fresh. [Brazilian president] Dilma Rousseff was tortured and detained during the military regime. Mexico dissidents and leaders were also spied on by the PRI [Institutional Revolutionary Party] before 2001. The reactions need to be understood in that sense.

The other thing is, yes, the United States has helped some of these countries set up surveillance programs. Washington was instrumental in helping Colombia set up the programs it uses to monitor FARC [paramilitary group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], but the United States has always tried to separate those efforts from spying on citizens for political reasons. But once the equipment and know-how has been turned over, anything can happen. That’s what we’ve seen in the case of Panama, for example, where it became known fairly early on that the government has a tendency to eavesdrop on perceived political opponents. That’s where we do need to understand that the alleged NSA revelations are a different kettle of fish. In some ways, it’s “they’re our citizens; we get to spy on them, but you don’t.”

Are there clear distinctions in the ways that Latin American countries have reacted?

There is a range of differences: some reactions are serious, some are performative, and some are simply taking advantage of this. In countries that have taken this as a serious matter—Mexico, Colombia, and Chile—there has been that level of “let’s get to the bottom of it,” couched within a legitimate sense of national sovereignty and protecting their citizens. And the responses have been delivered [to the United States] through diplomatic channels.

In between, you have countries like Brazil, which, for reasons perhaps very much tied to recent history, has made moves outside the realm of typical diplomatic activity, and has called the U.S. ambassador to testify before the Brazilian congress.

Countries on the other end of this spectrum [Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua] were already trying to make hay even before the revelations, by offering asylum to Snowden, which, in some ways, has become somewhat of a red herring. Oddly enough, with the exception of Venezuela, those are not the countries where most of the alleged spying occurred. So it’s completely out of proportion to their level of legitimate victimization—with the exception of Morales’s plane getting grounded.

“[P]olitical leaders may use this for domestic political advantage, [but] it certainly doesn’t play as well as many think.”

Having said that, most citizens of these countries—and we see this in surveys—retain very positive views of the United States. As much as political leaders may use this for domestic political advantage, it certainly doesn’t play as well as many think. Popular opinions hinge much more on domestic issues. A classic example right now is that Rousseff’s popularity went from 57 percent to about 30 percent—that has to do with protests and unmet economic demands; that has nothing to do with spying. These reactions make for good political theater, but I’m not sure they make for good political campaigns.

Are there any concrete consequences for U.S.-Latin American relations? Rousseff recently said the leaks would not affect her planned October trip to Washington.

The practical implications will be minimal, in part because the United States has such a multifaceted relationship with these countries on everything from immigration to education, cultural exchanges, and economic ties. Those things reflect a very diverse relationship that goes far beyond the diplomatic government-to-government activities.

But there are two implications for U.S. relations in the region that are important. One is that the U.S. is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Latin America that will bring together economies from most of the Asia-Pacific region with Latin America, except for Colombia and Central America. When telecommunications comes down as one of the areas they are talking about, a lot of those negotiating parties are going to take a very close look at what’s in there and that there are safeguards that protect potential intervention and the flow of communication.

“The United States’ moral standing on being able to talk about issues like freedom of expression has taken a serious hit.”

The second is that the United States’ moral standing on being able to talk about issues like freedom of expression and access to information has taken a serious hit at a time when a number of countries are challenging domestic laws and regional norms concerning these very issues. That’s clearly why we see leaders like Correa, Maduro, Morales, [Nicaragua's Daniel] Ortega—none of whom are paragons of freedom of expression—suddenly become these champions of transparency. It’s ironic, and it also means that the ability of the United States, and in some cases U.S.-based organizations, to speak out in some of these cases is going to be a little more difficult.

On the asylum requests from Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, it does appear Snowden is trying to get to Latin America. What are realistic possibilities for him as far as ending up there?

I may be proven wrong on this, but I still find it to be a very difficult practical matter that he can find his way to these countries. As much as these leaders have been saying out loud that he is welcome if he can get there, none of them are actually offering to lend their presidential jets to fly him down. For now, it just remains an empty gesture.

[Furthermore,] these governments are elected, however imperfectly. Let’s imagine Snowden has a good, healthy lifespan. I find it hard to believe that a chavista government is going to stay in power in Venezuela for fifty years—the same goes for the Morales and Ortega governments. So [asylum in these countries] may provide him a temporary respite, but it’s no permanent guarantee. Sadly, he is being manipulated for international public opinion by these leaders, and who knows when he himself could become a bargaining chip?

What can the United States can do to ease tensions in the coming weeks?

This is going to be resolved quietly and diplomatically, as a couple of leaders have said—[Colombian president Juan Manuel] Santos has said this; [Mexican president Enrique] Pena Nieto implied the same. Explanations and sharing of details as to the extent of the [surveillance] program and the like hopefully will be addressed. Rather than engage in megaphone diplomacy with the generally aggrieved countries, the United States is handling this quietly. On the other matters of asylum and other things, I think the United States is just letting these countries engage in their own megaphone diplomacy, and when the dust settles, their rantings will probably not have amounted to much.


The Ongoing Domestic Debate.

Both the Bush and Obama administrations have sought to justify controversial domestic surveillance programs amid pointed criticism from Congress and civil rights activists. Read the Backgrounder.…



Posted on on July 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks in Burgas, Bulgaria and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Press Statement to the Western Hemisphere, Europe and Eurasia lists of the US Department of State.
Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 18, 2013

The United States notes that July 18 marks the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, that claimed the lives of six innocent civilians and the 19 year anniversary of the attack in Buenos Aires, Argentina that killed 85 innocent victims. We extend our condolences to the people of Bulgaria, Argentina, and Israel for the tragic loss of life and call for the perpetrators of these attacks to be brought to justice.


Posted on on July 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

At the beginning of this year we posted the following:

2013 Brazil Economic and Political Outlook – A Breakfast Seminar Panel in Manhattan for Thursday, January 24, 2013;

and Brazil, the EU at large, The old Bretton Woods – the World Economy ahead of us – will make appearances in New York City on Monday, February 25, 2013 – Tuesday, February 26, 2013. Posted on Saturday, February 23rd, 2013.

Brazil was at the center of things – was working on becoming a major supplier of oil, and won to be host to major sports competitions. Then came the tremors – a revolt of young people that basically said to the Brazilian government and the world – We Want More.

We posted Brazil and Protests on June 23, 2013,
Old Commodities and the Fate of Eike Batista on June 24, 2013;
and Bill Keller’s The Revolt of the Rising Class on July 1, 2013.

Then on July 7th we posted about the US spying “en-masse” in Brazil (the O’Globo-British Guardian article) and predicted that this was business espionage that will eventually come to hunt the US.

The New York City based Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. organized a series of panels:

on Thursday July 11, 2013 on “CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS in BRAZIL” with Professor Albert Fishlow moderating a panel that included Peter Hakim of the Inter-American Dialogue, Vivianne Rodrigues of the Financial Times, and Marcos Troyjo of Columbia University’s BRICLAB.

And yesterday – July 17, 2013, the panel – “Brazil: Midyear Economic and Political Outlook.” The event was held at the Manhattan offices of Debevoise & Plimpton and had the media sponsorship of the Financial Times. The moderator was Paulo Vieira Da Cunha who was Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Brazil. The main speaker was Paul Rudel of the host firm, and the other participants were – Maria Claudia Ribeiro of OppenheimerFunds, Christopher Garman of the Eurasia Group’s Latin America practice, and Paulo Miguel of Quest Investmentos.

On July 25th there will be a third event – a Discussion on the Expansion of Credit in Brazil. This as part of what Wall Street sees as the direction Brazil is taking.

I will thus digest the situation to the best of my understanding and will start by saying that all of his points rather to a US problem and not a Brazil problem.

Let us remember that the audience and membership of Chamber of Commerce are working mainly with American firms centered around Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. Nevertheless, we must give them credit for looking at the Financial Times as media of choice rather then the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. So – this is about business and the main business principle they accept is DON’T Rock The Boat.

Marcio Garcia described the 1994 Real Plan and the 1999 inflation targeting that moved unemployment from 12.7% to 6.7% and to practically full employment today. This without denying crises during the way, but saying that if there is any problem today it is nothing worse then a first step in a cyclic situation.

It is China “rebalancing” that may be the first step in a depression that is not a Brazil creation.

What we have said before is that the situation in the US, that has decreased the US market for foreign products, is the real cause for this need for rebalancing and for China making efforts to increase its own internal market.

Brazil was never a true tiger, and its growth at 7,5% in 2010 was stimulated by the government, and led to increase in the upward mobile class.

We have learned now that when you unleash appetites you cannot hope that people will stop wanting to see it continue – so the issue is – how to pass the economy from the Lula stage to the Dilma stage – something that will be facilitated by the fact that Ms. Dilma Rousseff is an economist and can be expected to turn to rules of economy as played out by Wall Street. That does not mean the New York Wall Street audience is enthused by the Workers’ Party in Brazil, but they are ready to accept Dilma with the hope that she will turn to the private sector, and to a system that uses private-public partnerships.

So this is the way to study now investment in Brazil – this in anticipation that Brazil will invite such private investment.

Commodity prices, because of consumer frugality globally, will decline, so investments in Brazil will have to go into infrastructure building. There is expected an end to the political super-cycle of Lula and a return to economic constraints.

That is how Christopher Garman put it. He also looked at the politics and looking at the October 19, 2014 elections in Brazil, he wonders if these changes are possible before the elections.

2005-2013 was a time of a Rise of Quality of Life Agenda. How will needed changes reflect at the Polls? Are the protests just an issue of the Economy Stupid kind, or is it more to it. Here we get to the expectation that the rise has created and the need for follow up – this rather then a true rebellion that really has no justification. So the consensus is that Dilma continues to sit at the head of the table unless Lula decides to return – something nobody thinks that he will want to do.

Education, transportation etc. should have become issues earlier. That was a mistake – but now they will. People whose standard of living has improved want now health care for the family, education for the children, and if you buy a car you do not want to be stuck in the traffic.

Peter Hakim opened his presentation by saying that he thought he will start by talking on the protest movement but a lot else happened i.e. the spying – but then he refused to enlarge on this topic saying that everybody does it. On my question if it might not turn out that some in Brazil will not be upset at this because the amount of spying points at it not as a security issue, but as business snooping, he and Marcos Troyjo were not ready to step into this subject. This leaves me where I started from – the realization the US does not look into depth when creating an image – specially right here in its backyard – the Southern part of its Hemisphere. In the end – it will be hard to deal with the Far East, the Near East, and all the Asia in between, without having Latin America safely in its back.

Peter Hakim pointed out that upheavals in Turkey or Egypt have very specific issues but this is not the case in Brazil. Nevertheless, when they were called to protest – everybody showed up! Lula and Dilma are very popular, but watching other countries protest, got the Brazilians as well in the mood to go to the streets.

And they got their answer from Dilma who said “We will spend more on education, health, welfare” this without looking where the money will come from.”You want it now – we will give it to you.” The protest was not partisan or anti-government but a call for less government corruption he said. The political parties have not spoken up yet and the tassle before elections has not started yet – it might not start before the end of this year.

Troyjo put it so that Brazil’s new position in global affair has led to a feeling of super-power – but others say to Brazil that they may may be taking the risk of missing the train to the future. To repair this there is now a new look of instituting taxes in the State Capitals. In order to get back to a 5% growth Brazil will have to put at least 1% of GDP into R&D he said.

He further said that the protesters know what they want but the politicians have not figured out yet how to filter this into their response. He expects Brazil to become more market friendly and have more capitalism.

Professor Fishlow also said that economics has not entered yet the discussion and he wonders how after the growth of 14 years income could double by 2020 as Dilma promised. The regional differences – the North, the North-East and the South are growing and Dilma’s popularity is greater in the North then in the South.With 24 parties in Congress and a government of 40 cabinet ministries, the bureaucracy is bloated and there is no chance of changing this before the elections. It looks like Greece he said.At the same time, Petrobras is experiencing loses for the first time in its history. Congress can deal with distribution of profits if Petrobras provides the funds. In short – the future will have to provide the priorities for a restructured government and political system in general.

What above says is that Brazil is dependent on growth of its petroleum industry and that might be the wrong idea. Oil provided funds mainly to the few rather then as described to the government kitty. We assume that part of the US espionage in Brazil has to do with the seeking of information about the intent in Brazil of what to do in the energy sector. We doubt that Brazil is well advised if it were to push for growth via oil. Brazil has much more appropriate potential in the alternate energy sector that could help the country as a whole and though we agree that Brazil ought to open its doors to foreign investment, it better keep control on the sectors that open up – this because what is good for the gender may not be good for the goose.


Posted on on July 17th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality.

Media Note
Office of the US Department of State Spokesperson.
Washington, DC
July 17, 2013

The United States and Brazil will hold a steering group meeting of the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality (Joint Action Plan) on July 18-19, 2013 in Brasilia.

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta S. Jacobson will lead the U.S. Government delegation. Officials from the Departments of Education, Commerce, Justice, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Health and Human Services, in addition to officials from U.S. Embassy Brasilia, will also participate.

The government meetings and panel discussions will include members of civil society and will allow Brazilian and U.S. participants to address issues relating to the promotion of racial and ethnic equality in both countries. The primary goals of the meeting include seeking greater opportunities for access to education and expanding academic opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and historically underserved populations; eliminating racial health disparities in the United States and Brazil; mitigating environmental impacts in rural and urban communities of African descent; addressing challenges in the criminal justice system; and guaranteeing equal access to economic opportunities ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic games. The meeting will also focus on accomplishments since the signing of the Joint Action Plan and will develop a plan of action for the next year.

The Joint Action Plan, signed in March 2008, pledges ongoing collaboration between the two governments to eliminate racial and ethnic discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity for all.

For more information, visit the Joint Action Plan website.


Posted on on July 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Countries Agree on Novel Formula for High-level Forum to Boost Follow-up of Rio+20 Outcomes on Sustainable Development

New York, 9 July— United Nations Member States agreed today to establish a new High-Level Political Forum to boost efforts to achieve global sustainable development that will improve people’s economic and social well-being while protecting the environment. The decision by the General Assembly follows up on a key recommendation of ‘The Future We Want,’ the outcome document of last year’s Rio+20 Conference in Rio de Janeiro.

The Forum will convene annually at the ministerial level under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council and, every four years, it will bring together Heads of State to provide added momentum for sustainable development.

“Establishing the Forum marks a major step forward in implementing ‘The Future We Want,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The Forum can provide the political leadership and action-oriented recommendations we need to follow up on all the Rio recommendations and meet urgent global economic, social and environmental challenges. Countries must do their utmost to realize the Forum’s potential.”

“We are simply not doing enough to meet the fundamental challenges of our time: to end extreme poverty in this generation and significantly narrow the global gap between rich and poor, without inflicting irreparable damage to the environmental basis for our survival,” said UN General Assembly President Vuk Jeremi?. “The new Forum must be more than just a meeting place—it must be the place where countries and civil society generate the momentum for change.”

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said “This is a great opportunity to advance the sustainable development agenda. There is so much that we need to do in concert—to accelerate action on the Millennium Development Goals, to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity, to ensure that everyone has a chance for a better life, while addressing important environmental challenges that threaten progress, such as climate change and biodiversity loss and developing a new set of sustainable development goals.”

The High-Level Political Forum will replace the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. The Commission, formed after the 1992 Earth Summit, helped generate action on a range of issues that led to international agreements or treaties. The Commission was also in the forefront in promoting the involvement of civil society in its work. However, governments and civil society actors came to share a belief that a higher-profile body was needed to guide sustainable development towards the future we want.

The Forum will review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments, enhance the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development—economic, social and environmental –focus on themes consistent with the post-2015 development agenda and ensure that new sustainable development challenges are properly addressed.

The General Assembly resolution stresses the need to enhance the role and participation of major groups of society and other stakeholders, while retaining the intergovernmental character of the forum. The first meeting of the Forum will be held in September, during the Assembly’s forthcoming 68th session.

For interviews and more information, contact Dan Shepard of the UN Department of Public Information,
1-212-963-9495,  shepard at

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Posted in Africa, Archives, Brazil, Copenhagen COP15, Costa Rica, Eco Friendly Tourism, Future Events, Futurism, IBSA, Islands & SIDS, Peoples without a UN Seat, Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York, UN Commission on Sustainable Development, Vienna


Posted on on July 7th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

The NSA’s Mass and Indiscriminate Spying on Brazilians

By Glenn Greenwald, Guardian UK

07 July 13

As it does in many non-adversarial countries, the surveillance agency is bulk collecting the communications of millions of citizens of Brazil.

We’ve written an article on NSA surveillance for the front page of the Sunday edition of O Globo, the large Brazilian newspaper based in Rio de Janeiro. The article is headlined (translated) “US spied on millions of emails and calls of Brazilians”, and I co-wrote it with Globo reporters Roberto Kaz and Jose Casado. The rough translation of the article into English is here. The main page of Globo’s website lists related NSA stories: here.

As the headline suggests, the crux of the main article details how the NSA has, for years, systematically tapped into the Brazilian telecommunication network and indiscriminately intercepted, collected and stored the email and telephone records of millions of Brazilians. The story follows an article in Der Spiegel last week, written by Laura Poitras and reporters from that paper, detailing the NSA’s mass and indiscriminate collection of the electronic communications of millions of Germans. There are many more populations of non-adversarial countries which have been subjected to the same type of mass surveillance net by the NSA: indeed, the list of those which haven’t been are shorter than those which have. The claim that any other nation is engaging in anything remotely approaching indiscriminate worldwide surveillance of this sort is baseless.

As those two articles detail, all of this bulk, indiscriminate surveillance aimed at populations of friendly foreign nations is part of the NSA’s “FAIRVIEW” program. Under that program, the NSA partners with a large US telecommunications company, the identity of which is currently unknown, and that US company then partners with telecoms in the foreign countries. Those partnerships allow the US company access to those countries’ telecommunications systems, and that access is then exploited to direct traffic to the NSA’s repositories. Both articles are based on top secret documents provided by Edward Snowden; O Globo published several of them.

The vast majority of the GuardianUS’s revelations thus far have concerned NSA domestic spying: the bulk collection of telephone records, the PRISM program, Obama’s presidential directive that authorizes domestic use of cyber-operations, the Boundless Informant data detailing billions of records collected from US systems, the serial falsehoods publicly voiced by top Obama officials about the NSA’s surveillance schemes, and most recently, the bulk collection of email and internet metadata records for Americans. Future stories in the GuardianUS will largely continue to focus on the NSA’s domestic spying.

But contrary to what some want to suggest, the privacy rights of Americans aren’t the only ones that matter. That the US government – in complete secrecy – is constructing a ubiquitous spying apparatus aimed not only at its own citizens, but all of the world’s citizens, has profound consequences. It erodes, if not eliminates, the ability to use the internet with any remnant of privacy or personal security. It vests the US government with boundless power over those to whom it has no accountability. It permits allies of the US – including aggressively oppressive ones – to benefit from indiscriminate spying on their citizens’ communications. It radically alters the balance of power between the US and ordinary citizens of the world. And it sends an unmistakable signal to the world that while the US very minimally values the privacy rights of Americans, it assigns zero value to the privacy of everyone else on the planet.

This development – the construction of a worldwide, ubiquitous electronic surveillance apparatus – is self-evidently newsworthy, extreme, and dangerous. It deserves transparency. People around the world have no idea that all of their telephonic and internet communications are being collected, stored and analyzed by a distant government. But that’s exactly what is happening, in secrecy and with virtually no accountability. And it is inexorably growing, all in the dark. At the very least, it merits public understanding and debate. That is now possible thanks solely to these disclosures.
The Guardian’s reporting

One brief note on the Guardian is merited here: I’ve been continuously amazed by how intrepid, fearless and committed the Guardian’s editors have been in reporting these NSA stories as effectively and aggressively as possible. They have never flinched in reporting these stories, have spared no expense in pursuing them, have refused to allow vague and baseless government assertions to suppress any of the newsworthy revelations, have devoted extraordinary resources to ensure accuracy and potency, and have generally been animated by exactly the kind of adversarial journalistic ethos that has been all too lacking over the last decade or so (see this Atlantic article from yesterday highlighting the role played by the Guardian US’s editor-in-chief, Janine Gibson).

I don’t need to say any of this, but do so only because it’s so true and impressive: they deserve a lot of credit for the impact these stories have had. To underscore that: because we’re currently working on so many articles involving NSA domestic spying, it would have been weeks, at least, before we would have been able to publish this story about indiscriminate NSA surveillance of Brazilians. Rather than sit on such a newsworthy story – especially at a time when Latin America, for several reasons, is so focused on these revelations – they were enthused about my partnering with O Globo, where it could produce the most impact. In other words, they sacrificed short-term competitive advantage for the sake of the story by encouraging me to write this story with O Globo. I don’t think many media outlets would have made that choice, but that’s the kind of journalistic virtue that has driven the paper’s editors from the start of this story.

This has been a Guardian story from the start and will continue to be. Snowden came to us before coming to any other media outlet, and I’ll continue to write virtually all NSA stories right in this very space. But the O Globo story will resonate greatly in Brazil and more broadly in Latin America, where most people had no idea that their electronic communications were being collected in bulk by this highly secretive US agency. For more on how the Guardian’s editors have overseen the reporting of the NSA stories, see this informative interview on the Charlie Rose Show from last week with Gibson and Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger.


Fareed Zakaria’s CNN/GPS program today – Sunday July 7, 2013 had three distinguished guests – Former US Carter Age Powerhouse and co-founder of The Trilateral Commission, Zbigniew Brzezinsky, Richard Haas- the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Brent Scowcroft – the United States National Security Advisor under U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush – all with good Washington pedigree – they sang in unison that Snowden is no Daniel Elsberg because the latter stayed on to defend himself in US courts while Snowden defected to US potential adversaries.

THIS WAS A VERY WEAK PROGRAM – the first time ever that I write off Zaharia’s guests. This piece about Brazil, and a previous one about Germany, show that Snowden has not emptied his bags yet and his intent is nothing less then reorganization of US alliances on a sounder base.


Posted on on July 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Venezuela’s Independence Day

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 3, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Venezuela as you commemorate the day that Venezuela declared its independence 202 years ago.

Venezuela and the United States have much in common. For example, revolutionary leader General Francisco de Miranda also played a part in our own struggle for independence, participating in the Battle of Pensacola in 1781. His contribution is forever memorialized in a monument that stands in the heart of Philadelphia, the original capital of the United States. When a devastating earthquake struck Venezuela in 1812 the United States sent the Venezuelan people the first humanitarian assistance it ever provided to a foreign country. These two examples demonstrate that Venezuela and the United States have shared ties of friendship and common values since the birth of our two nations, and the ties between our people endure.

I wish Venezuelans everywhere health, happiness, and hope on the anniversary of your independence.


The Washington Post of July 5, 2013 tells us:

““As head of state, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden so that he can live in the homeland” of independence leader Simon Bolivar and the late President Hugo Chavez without “persecution from the empire,” Maduro said, referring to the United States.

He made the offer during a speech marking the anniversary of Venezuela’s independence. It was not immediately clear if there were any conditions to Venezuela’s offer.

Maduro added that several other Latin American governments have also expressed their intention of taking a similar stance by offering asylum for the cause of “dignity.”

In Nicaragua, Ortega said he was willing to make the same offer “if circumstances allow it.” Ortega didn’t say what the right circumstances would be when he spoke during a speech in Managua.

He said the Nicaraguan embassy in Moscow received Snowden’s application for asylum and that it is studying the request.

“We have the sovereign right to help a person who felt remorse after finding out how the United States was using technology to spy on the whole world, and especially its European allies,” Ortega said.

The offers came following a flap about the rerouting of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane in Europe earlier this week amid reports that Snowden might have been aboard.

Spain on Friday said it had been warned along with other European countries that Snowden, a former U.S. intelligence worker, was aboard the Bolivian presidential plane, an acknowledgement that the manhunt for the fugitive leaker had something to do with the plane’s unexpected diversion to Austria.

It is unclear whether the United States, which has told its European allies that it wants Snowden back, warned Madrid about the Bolivian president’s plane. U.S. officials will not detail their conversations with European countries, except to say that they have stated the U.S.’s general position that it wants Snowden back.

Maduro joined other leftist South American presidents Thursday in Cochabamba, Bolivia, to rally behind Morales and denounce the rerouting incident.

President Barack Obama has publicly displayed a relaxed attitude toward Snowden’s movements, saying last month that he wouldn’t be “scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”

But the drama surrounding the flight of Morales, whose plane was abruptly rerouted to Vienna after apparently being denied permission to fly over France, suggests that pressure is being applied behind the scenes.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told Spanish National Television that “they told us that the information was clear, that he was inside.”

He did not identify who “they” were and declined to say whether he had been in contact with the U.S. But he said that European countries’ decisions were based on the tip. France has since sent a letter of apology to the Bolivian government.”


The bottom line is as reported by the Guardian:

“We are not colonies any more,” Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, said. “We deserve respect, and when one of our governments is insulted we feel the insult throughout Latin America.”

Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, said on Thursday he and other leaders were offering full support to Morales and called the rerouting of the plane an aggression against the Americas.

Cristina Fernandez of Argentina said Latin Americans treasured freedom after fighting for independence from Europe in the 19th century and then surviving Washington’s 20th-century history of backing repressive regimes in the Americas. She demanded an apology for the plane ordeal.

“I’m asking those who violated the law in calm but serious manner, to take responsibility for the errors made, it’s the least they can do,” Fernandez said. “To apologize for once in their life, to say they’re sorry for what they’ve done.”

Morales has said that while the plane was parked in Vienna, the Spanish ambassador to Austria arrived with two embassy personnel and they asked to search the plane. He said he denied them permission.

“Who takes the decision to attack the president of a South American nation?” Maduro asked. Spanish prime minister Mariano “Rajoy has been abusive by trying to search Morales’ plane in Spain. He has no right to breach international law.”


It seems like time has come for a US face-saving diplomacy before true craters open up at US borders – East, West, and South.

We have previously outlined a draft that we did not publish – but think now that the airplane flap justifies a US Presidential pardon to Snowden – just to get the issue of the World table – the damage was done and no sense for the US to dig itself deeper into the hole it created.


US senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told little Ecuadoran that he would block the import of vegetables and flowers from Ecuador if Ecuador gives asylum to Edward Snowden. The cost to Ecuador would be one billion dollars in lost revenues. Will he also forbid trips from the US to the Galapagos?

Will he be consistent and close US imports of Venezuela oil? Of Latin oil in general?
Ecuador and Venezuela happen to be also members of OPEC which Bolivia is not. A policy of threats presents many interesting angles and possibilities.
Will there be ways to enlarge this with some reaction to what happens in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia, some more grand-standing anyone?


Thursday the leaders of Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina and Uruguay joined Bolivia’s President Morales in Cochabamba, for a special meeting to address the diplomatic row.

At the end of the summit a statement was issued demanding answers from France, Portugal, Italy and Spain. The United States was not mentioned in the statement.

“Europe broke all the rules of the game,” Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro said shortly after arriving at Cochabamba airport. “We’re here to tell president Evo Morales that he can count on us. Whoever picks a fight with Bolivia, picks a fight with Venezuela.”

Maduro said an unnamed European government minister had told Venezuela the CIA was behind the incident.

“We are not colonies any more,” Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, said. “We deserve respect, and when one of our governments is insulted we feel the insult throughout Latin America.”

Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, said on Thursday he and other leaders were offering full support to Morales and called the rerouting of the plane an aggression against the Americas.

Cristina Fernandez of Argentina said Latin Americans treasured freedom after fighting for independence from Europe in the 19th century and then surviving Washington’s 20th-century history of backing repressive regimes in the Americas. She demanded an apology for the plane ordeal.

“I’m asking those who violated the law in calm but serious manner, to take responsibility for the errors made, it’s the least they can do,” Fernandez said. “To apologise for once in their life, to say they’re sorry for what they’ve done.”

Morales has said that while the plane was parked in Vienna, the Spanish ambassador to Austria arrived with two embassy personnel and they asked to search the plane. He said he denied them permission.

“Who takes the decision to attack the president of a South American nation?” Maduro asked. Spanish prime minister Mariano “Rajoy has been abusive by trying to search Morales’ plane in Spain. He has no right to breach international law.”

Before the meeting, Morales said his ordeal was part of a US plot to intimidate him and other Latin American leaders.

He urged European nations to “free themselves” from the United States. “The United States is using its agent [Snowden] and the president [of Bolivia] to intimidate the whole region,” he said.

France sent an apology to the Bolivian government. But Morales said “apologies are not enough because the stance is that international treaties must be respected”.

Spain’s foreign affairs minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, said his country did not bar Morales from landing in its territory.

Amid the tensions, the US embassy in La Paz cancelled Independence Day celebrations scheduled for Thursday. In the eastern city of Santa Cruz, Bolivian government sympathisers painted protest slogans on the doors of the American consulate.

Bolivia has said it will summon the French and Italian ambassadors and the Portuguese consul to demand explanations.

Brazil was represented by Marco Aurelio Garcia, President Dilma Rousseff’s top international adviser. The presidents of Colombia, Chile and Peru, who have strong ties to the US, were not attending.

Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, said earlier on Thursday he supported Morales, but asked other leaders to remain cool and avoid an escalating dispute between Latin America and the European Union.

“We’re in solidarity with Evo Morales because what they did to him is unheard-of, but let’s not let this turn into a diplomatic crisis for Latin America and the EU,” Santos tweeted on Thursday.


Our draft started: Thanks to the Egyptian military – their intervention got off the media front line the Snowden, Assage, Manning, WikiLeaks Warning Lighthouses – and replaced them with a renewed attention to the Islamic potential for acts of terror.

Furthermore – Latin America seems split between the go it alone States of the ALBA group – Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela, their new friends – Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and now Nicaragua – and their opponents – the strong US connected, Chile, Colombia, Peru and the Southern European States Italy, France, Spain, Portugal that acted out on unsightly pressure from the White House, and perhaps even Austria – if it turns out to be true that they searched the Bolivian President’s plane. What about Mexico? Will they want to be seen as residing in the US vest-pocket?

Today it seems that just the Greens, the so called Pirates, and some other non-political fringe parties, are left in Europe to stand up for Democracy – The Reds, Blacks, Blues, Yellow, Orange, and Purple – all established political parties – have abandoned the Democracy ship because of the Transatlantic breeze from the Potomac. Europe seems anew like the Europe of the thirties with governments worried about their business-ties. Any infringements of democratic inalienable rights are not noted now, like they were not noted then. But this is totally misleading – just read the Guardian where all these stories started. This at a time the voters in quite a few European States do take position on this – and we would not be surprised if Austria as well took back its “Neutral Mantle” to declare that they too are ready to give refuge to Snowden. The coming days will tell.


And as if nothing happened – a US hand to the people of Argentina as if they have now no elected government?:

Western Hemisphere: Argentina’s Independence Day

07/05/2013 02:31 PM EDT

Argentina’s Independence Day

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 5, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I send best wishes to the people of Argentina as they celebrate their Independence Day this July 9.

The citizens of our two nations have a long history of productive and friendly relations, highlighted by educational and cultural exchanges and fruitful collaboration in the fields of science, technology, health, space, and energy.

The determination expressed by the patriots gathered at the Casa de Tucuman, to forge a free and independent nation, is a fundamental human longing, and one we share.

On this day, the United States wishes Argentina a happy celebration.

We look forward to working together to cultivate a strong bilateral relationship in the years to come.


Posted on on July 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Uri Avnery

July 6, 2013

A Human Spring

LET ME come back to the story about Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Communist leader. When asked what he thought about the French Revolution, he famously answered: “It’s too early to say.”

This was considered a typical piece of ancient Chinese wisdom – until somebody pointed out that Zhou did not mean the revolution of 1789, but the events of May 1968, which happened not long before the interview in question.

Even now it may be too early to judge that upheaval, when students tore up the cobblestones of Paris, confronted the brutal police and proclaimed a new era. It was an early forerunner of what is happening today all over the world.

QUESTIONS ABOUND. Why? Why now? Why in so many totally different countries? Why in Brazil, Turkey and Egypt at the same time?

We know how it started. In the souk of Tunis, of all places. I have been there many times, when Yasser Arafat was staying in that city. The market always struck me as a happy place, full of noise, eager shopkeepers, haggling tourists and local men with jasmine flowers behind their ears.

It was there that a policewoman confronted a fruit vendor and overturned his cart. He was mortally insulted, set himself on fire and set in motion a process that now involves many millions of people around the world.

The Tunis example was taken up by the Egyptian masses, who assembled in Tahrir Square and eventually overturned their dictator. Then it was our turn, and almost half a million Israelis went out into the streets to protest the price of cottage cheese. Then there were upheavals in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and other Arab states, collectively known as the Arab Spring. In the US, the Occupy Wall Street movement staged its own Tahrir Square in New York. And now millions are demonstrating in Turkey and Brazil, and Egypt is aflame again. One may add Iran and other places.

How did this come about? How does it work? What is the hidden mechanism?

And especially: why at this point in time?

I CAN think of two interrelated phenomena in contemporary life that make the uprisings possible and probable: television and the social media.

Television informs viewers in Kamchatka about events in Timbuktu within minutes. The huge demonstrations in Istanbul’s Taksim Square could be followed in real time by people in Rio de Janeiro.

Once upon a time, it took weeks for people in Piccadilly Circus in London to hear about events in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. After the battle of Waterloo, the Rothschilds made their killing by using messenger pigeons. In 1848, when revolution spread from Paris throughout Europe, it took its time, too.

Not any more. Brazilian youngsters saw what was happening in Gezi Park, Istanbul, and asked themselves: why not here? They saw that determined young men and women could withstand water cannon, tear gas and batons, and felt that they could do it, too.

The other instrument is facebook, Twitter and the other “social media”. Five young men sitting in a Cairo café and talking about the situation could decide to launch an online petition for the removal of the incumbent president, and within a few days tens of millions of citizens signed. Never before in history was such a thing possible, or even imaginable.

This is a new form of direct democracy. People don’t have to wait anymore for the next elections, which may be years away. They can act immediately, and when the groundswell is powerful enough, it can develop into a tsunami.

HOWEVER, REVOLUTIONS are not made by technologies, but by people. What is it that arouses so many different people in so many different cultures to do the same thing at the same time?

For example, the rise of religious fundamentalism. In recent decades, this has happened in several countries and with several religions. Jewish fundamentalism is setting up settlements in the Occupied West Bank and threatening Israeli democracy. All over the Arab world and many other Muslim countries, Islamic fundamentalism raises its head, causing havoc. In the US, evangelical fundamentalism has created the Tea Party and is dragging the Republican Party to the extreme right, much against its own interest.

I don’t know about other religions, but there are news stories about Buddhists attacking Muslims in several countries. Buddhists? I always though that this was an exceptionally peaceful creed!

How to explain these simultaneous and parallel symptoms? Commentators use the German philosophical expression, Zeitgeist (“spirit of the times”). This explains everything and nothing. Like that other great human invention, God.

So is the Zeitgeist behind the upheavals now? Don’t ask me.

THERE ARE many curious similarities between the mass revolts in different countries.

They are all made by young people of the so-called middle class. Not by the poor, not by the rich. Poor people do not make revolutions – they are too busy trying to feed their children. The Bolshevik revolution of 1917 was not made by the workers and peasants. It was made by disaffected intellectuals, many of them Jewish.

When you see a group of demonstrators in a newspaper picture, you do not know at first glance whether they are Egyptians, Israelis, Turks, Iranians or Americans. They all belong to the same social class. Young people alienated by a heartless globalization, confronted by a labor market that no longer offers the bright prospects they expect, university students for whose skills there is little demand. People with jobs, but who find it hard to “finish the month”’ as we say in Hebrew.

The immediate causes are varied. Israelis demonstrated against the price of cottage cheese and new apartments. Turks protest against the plan to turn a popular Istanbul park into a commercial project. Brazilians rise up against a small increase in bus fares. Egyptians are now protesting against the efforts of politicized religion to take over the state.

But at root, all these protests express a common disgust with politics and politicians, with a power elite that is seen as remote from ordinary people, with the immense power of a tiny group of the ultra-rich, with a barely understood globalization.

THE SAME mechanism that makes these revolutions possible also produces their outstanding weakness.

The model was already apparent in the Paris events of May 1968. These started with a student protest which was joined by millions of workers. There was no organization, no common ideology, no plan, no overall leadership. Activists gathered in a theater, debated endlessly, giving voice to all sorts of possible and impossible ideas. In the end there were no concrete results.

There was a certain spirit. Claude Lanzmann, the writer and director of the monumental film Shoah, once described it to me this way: The students were burning cars. So every evening I spent a lot of time finding a secure place for my car. Until I suddenly said to myself: What the hell! What do I need a car for? Let them burn it!

This spirit lingered for some time. But life went on, and the great event was soon just a memory.

This may happen again now. Again the same thing is happening everywhere: No organization, no leadership, no program, no ideology.

<strong>The very fact that everyone has a voice on facebook seems to make it easier to agree on “against” than on “for”. The young protesters are anarchist by nature. They abhor leaders, organizations, political parties, hierarchies, programs, ideologies.

You can call a demonstration on facebook, but you cannot hammer out a joint ideology that way. But, as Lenin once remarked, without a political ideology there is no political action. And he was an expert on the art of revolution.

There is a great danger that all these huge demonstrations will fade away some day – Zeitgeist again – without leaving anything behind, except some memories.

This has already happened in Israel. The mass demonstrations had some influence on this year’s elections, but the new parties are indistinguishable from the old ones. New politicians have taken the place of old politicians. But nothing real has changed. Neither on the national nor on the social level.

IN ANY democracy, real change can only take place through new political parties which enter parliament and make new laws. For this you need political leaders – now, in the era of TV, more than ever. It is not enough to generate a lot of steam – you need an engine to make the steam do useful work.

The tragedy in Egypt – a country I love – demonstrates this perfectly. The revolution overthrew the dictatorship, but in the elections that followed, the revolutionaries were unable to unite, create a joint political force, elect leaders. Victory was snatched by the Muslim Brotherhood, who were well organized with a solid leadership.

The brotherhood has failed. Power, after decades of persecution, went to their heads. They threw away caution.

Instead of building a new state on moderation, compromise and inclusion, they could not wait. So they may lose all.

The democratic revolutionaries have yet to prove that they are able to lead a country – in Egypt or anywhere else. They may yet launch a world-wide Human Spring. Or they may leave nothing behind, except a vague longing.

It’s up to them.


Posted on on July 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

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