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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 19th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Race for the White House: A Call for a Regionally-based Enlightened Foreign Policy toward Latin America.

November 18, 2011

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Fellow and Fulbright Scholar Robert Works.

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

 www.coha.org/the-race-for-the-whi…

COHA is based at the Americas Society on Park Avenue, New York City and provides information to business interests in the US – Latin America and Canada region.
As such there is no surprise that as an organization they favor Republicans over Democrats – but are critical of Republicans as well when they do not do enough to promote US  business interests in the region.

This article seems to favor Governor Romney from among the names tossed around in the 2012 race for the US Presidency.

—————–

With a little under a year remaining until the next U.S. presidential election, a coherent and sustainable area policy toward Latin America remains absent from the campaign literature and both presidential parties’ electoral strategies. In fact, a true U.S.-Latin American foreign policy—one that involves succinct initiatives rather than populist rants or ideological outbursts—has yet to be developed in the 21st century. If one is left to assess the future of U.S.-Latin American foreign policy simply by relying on the last three years of the Obama administration, or the empty rhetoric from the entire Republican field, the future appears rather bleak. Nonetheless, one candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, has detailed a slightly weightier, yet basically ill-informed vision that promotes regional integration and the strengthening of economic ties. His plan is almost entirely dominated by commercial interests and remains in large part focused on securitization. Barely moving beyond a fallow bilateral approach harnessed during the post-World War II years, Romney’s Latin American policy does manage to squeeze out some relatively non-bombastic verbiage.

For his part, President Obama has yet to outline a detailed vision on Latin American issues for his reelection, but the short blurb on the White House policy page indicates a usefully backseat nature that Latin America has held for the current administration. In a few words, U.S. foreign policy toward the region is described by the Democrats as being committed to “a new era of partnership with countries throughout the hemisphere, working on key shared challenges of economic growth and equality, energy and climate futures, and regional and citizen security.” The Obama administration can point to the recent passage of the free trade agreements, negotiated during the Bush administration, to complement this short, rhetorical ‘vision,’ but other than that, the administration’s foreign policy toward Latin America has been frail, if not exiguous.

In defense of President Obama, the Bush Doctrine ignored Latin America as well, but far-right figures in the region were relatively successful in attracting U.S. resources as well as favorable treatment by constructing their foreign policies beneath the umbrella of a specious war on terrorism. While  Colombia (through Plan Colombia) and to a lesser degree Mexico (through the Merida Initiative) successively gained U.S. attention and resources, the newly achieved backing only sought to strengthen the overall security capacity of these anti-drug forces in return for supporting the U.S. global securitization policy. A definitive conclusion regarding the success of this policy has not yet been reached, but the need for a regional vision that would promote strong ties to the U.S. and create regional integration has always been in process.

Thus far, there has been only one plan worthy of a conceptualization being offered to the region that even considers such an approach to Latin American policymaking. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is generally considered intermittently to be Republican frontrunner, and who is running close with President Obama in national polls, has recently laid out a 43-page document detailing his vision for U.S. foreign policy. In a formidable feat for Republican regional policymakers, he actually presents (if nothing more) to address a vision for Latin America, promoting regional integration, over the current bilateral approach directed primarily toward Washington’s allies in the War on Terrorism.

Romney, advised by a committee professedly oriented toward Latin America and headed by a series of pro forma old hands with tired notions, as well as some academics and respectable diplomats, details the creation of a regional institution called the Campaign for Economic Opportunity in Latin America (CEOLA), in order to promote “a vigorous public diplomacy and trade promotion effort in the region.” If this program’s goals remain the same, its specific details will remain vague and uninspiring; that said, the mere offer of such a new template contrasts sharply with the approaches currently being proposed by other candidates and the Obama administration, which has hardly done better in offering much and delivering little. In any case, Romney unsurprisingly presents a heavily business-tilted regional approach to integration that claims to promote a more democratic and economically responsive Latin America. His plan appears to follow the neo-liberal model based on institutionalism, which asserts that U.S. interests are better served through multilateralism and regionalism rather than through bilateralism.

If CEOLA seeks to achieve the creation of a new regional forum integrating South America with Central and North America, a bona fide U.S.-Latin American relationship could be developed in the process. The Romney formula provides a meager platform to discuss a wide array of issues from securitization to economic policy, as well as a methodology that could allow states to develop their own regional approaches for improving records on human rights, alleviating poverty, and other issues plaguing Latin America. The region, once consolidated and integrated, could also pursue a universal approach toward justice, utilizing transnational courts that adhere to cultural and legal traditions while also addressing the shortcomings of fledgling criminal justice systems that characterize the region. If it is unsuccessful however, such a system could add to the region’s woes brought on by endemic corruption.

Obviously, the ultimate success of Romney’s regional policy would rely on a variety of factors, including the level of activism on the part of the U.S. in the development of hemispheric initiatives. Washington must only be involved in the initial creation of big policy and have no greater power than carrying out a formal advisory role. CEOLA would symbolically represent a comprehensive, if not a bold approach for a new path forward in the 21st century, but not an interventionist one. At this point the Romney plan is sufficiently multifaceted to provide him with significant wiggle room, if this is what is really sought. This is not to argue that the post-9/11 policies of securitization are not in need of being replaced by a more developed, regional vision for Latin America. Only the development of a new institution would provide the possibility for new directions with specific goals that are widely accepted.

To his supporters, Romney is the only candidate that has offered a regional vision for Latin America, albeit one at risk of being more of pap and treacle than of sounder stuff. Ironically, it may be more suitable for regimes that are not likely to easily tolerate U.S. intervention of any sort, and have an increasing demand for Latin American sovereignty, to pick and choose their own policies.  President Obama should embrace such a move in order to establish a more integrated, equal, and just Western hemisphere.  Until a new plan that moves beyond securitization is realized, Latin America will remain in the backwaters of policymaking and under the canopy of an overreaching U.S. foreign policy.

In any case, the time for a renewed U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America is not only long overdue, but is also being demanded by the region here and now. Mitt Romney has at least presented a starting point for a 21st century foreign policy that will likely go nowhere.  As wobbly as it is, the other candidates, including the president, could do far more, but will at least have a modest road to build upon with this model.





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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 17th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 The prime minister of Turkey –  Recep Tayyip Erdo?an – accepted the “Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rightsin Tripoli, Libya, on Dec. 1, 2010, for his “distinguished service to humanity.”   … OK – this is the service of Mr. Edogan as judged by Mr. Gaddafi.

In his acceptance speech, Erdo?an said that the award will further encourage him to fight for human rights and that “Islamophobia” is a crime against humanity.

After receiving the award, Erdo?an reported on his meeting with Qaddafi, indicating that ties between the two countries are growing.

The slogan of the “Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights” is “As the sun shines for everyone, freedom is a right for everyone.” Lovely, no, especially at a moment when Mu’ammar al-Qaddafi’s war planes are raining down death and destruction on his own subject people, and when foreign mercenaries are brutalizing the population?

The prize description  of the Al-Gaddafi Prize includes:

The prize is awarded every year to one of the international personalities, bodies or organizations that have distinctively contributed to rendering an outstanding human service and has achieved great actions in defending Human rights, protecting the causes of freedom and supporting peace everywhere in the world. …

The Prize categorically believes that freedom is an indivisible natural right for Man – it is not a gift or grace from anybody, and that safeguarding it is a general human responsibility.

Past recipients of the prize have also included Nelson Mandela (1989), “The Red Indians” (1991), Louis Farrakhan (1996), Fidel Castro (1998), and Hugo Chavez (2004). Will at least Nelson Mandela declare now that the acceptance of that prize was based on misconceptions about the man who funded it?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Overcoming rural poverty depends on a healthy environment, where local people can find sustainable solutions to their challenges. The Equator Initiative was launched in 2002 by UNDP’s Jim McNeil in order to help the search for sustainability by safeguarding biodiversity resources.

Every two years, the Equator Initiative partnership awards prizes to the 25 outstanding community efforts each of which receives $5,000 with five selected for special recognition and an additional $15,000 each. The recipients come from three groups:

AFRICA, ASIA-PACIFIC, and LATIN AMERICA – CARIBBEAN regions.

The announcement was “After an extensive process of evaluation, the Equator Initiative’s Technical Advisory Committee has selected an exceptional subset of 25 winning initiatives, from a total pool of nearly 300 nominations from 66 different countries.”

Africa:

Asia & the Pacific:

Latin America & the Caribbean:

Obviously, we have no problem with the choices, nor with the fact that the large countries of Kenya, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, and Mexico got two prizes each, nor that the two Mega-States got next to nothing – China nothing and India one – but we do wonder how it is that the Independent Pacific Island States, and the Independent Caribbean Island States, coincidentally both groups, got absolutely nothing. Does this mean that the rebelious SIDS and AOSIS, as groups, are in UN disfavor? They happen to be in the Tropics and quite a few are biodiversity very rich!

———-

The judges were:
Her Royal Highness Princess Basma Bint Talal of Jordan
Robert Edward “ted” Turner III, The father of it all and benefactor of The UN Foundation
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Third World Tebtebba Foundation
M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman of the MSSRF Resarch Foundation
Steven J.McCormick, President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Dr. Gro Brubdtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway and mother of it all
Professor Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Laureate.
————–
The two specially honored NGO individuals:
Philippe Cousteau, third generation to the famous family,
Julia Marton-Lefevre, Director General of IUCN.
————-
The three specially honored communities:
Mavis Hatlane for Makuleke Community of Pafuri Camp, South Africa,
Maria Alejandra Velasco for Consejo Regional Tsimane’ Mosetene of Pilon Lajas, Bolivia,
Diep Thi My Hanh for Bambu Village of Phu An, Viet Nam.
====================================
To increase our “puzzlement” – here the announcement how the UN General Assembly intends to treat this year the Small Island States in their deliberations – this was the only time we found a notion for their special problems:
Saturday, 25 September:
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Round table 2 — Enhancing international support for small island developing States.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


China Wants Business with Latin America.
By Mitch Moxley

BEIJING, Aug 18, 2010 (IPS) – China, now the world’s second largest economy with a ferocious appetite for resources, is aggressively strengthening relations with Latin American countries, but this has not been without roadblocks.

According to a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), released in May, China will displace the European Union as the region’s second largest trading partner by the middle of 2011. Latin American countries are actively exploring cooperative arrangements with China in the fields of mining, energy, agriculture, infrastructure and science and technology, the report said.

China has in recent years diversified its investment in Latin America, from natural resources to manufacturing and the services industry, according to a July report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Latin American Studies. China’s interest in Latin America ranges from oil from Venezuela to timber from Guyana and soybeans from Brazil.

Zhang Sengen, executive director of the Institute of Chinese International Economic Relations, said Latin America has dual appeal for China: It has abundant resources, which are needed to fuel China’s future growth, and it is a huge market for Chinese products – with 560 million consumers and a combined Gross Domestic Product of 4 trillion U.S. dollars.

“Latin America is a very attractive spot for Chinese investment,” Zhang said.

China’s foreign direct investment in Latin America reached 24.8 billion dollars in 2008, making up 14.6 percent of China’s total foreign direct investment, according to figures from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Meanwhile, Latin American investment in China hit 112.6 billion dollars, roughly 14 percent of the total foreign capital China absorbed.

Exports from Latin American countries to China are expected to reach 19.3 percent of the total by 2020, up from 7.6 percent in 2009, according to the ECLAC report.

China has prided itself on what it calls a “win-win” relationship with Latin America, in which the region sells China raw materials, such as copper, iron and oil, while Latin American countries receive goods from China, including mobile phones and cars.

But relations have not been altogether smooth. Across the region, a growing wariness about trade with China has also been emerging.

In Brazil and Argentina, manufacturers have accused China of dumping products in their markets, prompting new tariffs on some Chinese importers. Other countries worry about China’s aggressive efforts to win access to energy reserves.

In Peru, a state-owned Chinese company has faced a nearly two-decade long revolt from mine workers, featuring repeated strikes, clashes with police and arson attacks, ‘The New York Times’ reported earlier in August. Disputes at the mine, founded in 1992 by steelmaker Shougang Corp, focus on wages, environmental damage and the company’s treatment of local residents.

Wang Peng, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Latin American Studies, said Chinese companies in Latin America need to do proper risk assessment and better protect the local environment. “There are more NGOs in other countries than in China, and many of them focus on environmental protection,” Wang told IPS. “If our companies violate local environmental laws, no wonder tension happens.”

Despite the problems, relations continue to develop. In April, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Brazil, a move that was heralded in China’s state media as a significant step in cementing relations with Latin America.

“China and Latin American countries, all as developing countries, share extensive common interest. China has always attached great importance to its relations with these countries,” Vice Foreign Minister Li Jinzhang said at a press conference in April, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.

During the meetings, Brazil and China inked a joint action plan for 2010 to 2014 and reached agreements in the fields of culture, energy, finance, science and technology and product quality inspection, according to Xinhua.

China is Brazil’s largest trading partner and biggest export market. Trade with Chile, China’s second largest trading partner in the region, reached a record 17.7 billion dollars in 2009.

Oil-rich Venezuela is China’s fifth largest trading partner in Latin America with a trade volume of 7.15 billion dollars in 2009. In March that year, Su Zhenxing, director of the CAAS’s Institute of Latin American Studies, told ‘Beijing Business Today’ that Latin America will become a leading strategic provider of crude oil.

Jiang Shixue, vice president of the Chinese Association of Latin American Studies and deputy director-general of the Chinese Centre for the Third World Studies, said China’s interest in Latin America is not just economic, but also political.

Of the 23 countries in the world that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, 12 are in Latin America. China can gain leverage over these countries through investment incentives, Jiang said.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

China’s State Capitalism Poses Ethical Challenges.

By Ian Bremmer, Devin T. Stewart

GlobalPost, August 10, 2010

CREDIT: Bert van Dijk (CC).

Earlier this summer, a company owned in part by the Chinese government bought a 5.1 percent stake in the only American-owned provider of enriched uranium for use in civilian nuclear reactors.

The stake is small, but its implications are considerable. The American company, USEC, was involved with the original development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Chinese involvement could raise concerns about national security in Washington, and given China’s opaque form of economic management, the transaction raises other ethical issues around transparency and fairness.

In the long run, however, free market economies like the United States would best serve the cause of individual freedom worldwide by practicing what they preach. They should keep the global flow of money, ideas, and goods open.

As China’s economy grows, its political influence will expand, bringing Beijing into ever-closer contact with the interests of others. As the world’s largest exporter, for example, China will find itself in competition (and sometimes conflict) with a diverse set of multinational companies and governments. Within China, there will be more clashes involving the collision of local rules with foreigners and their business models.

Beijing continues to welcome foreign investment, but recent labor disputes at a Honda Motor factory and a spate of suicides involving workers at Foxconn, a Taiwanese-invested Chinese company that manufactures the Apple iPhone, underline the clash of political and commercial cultures. Sometimes these confrontations produce compromise or even a convergence of standards. At other times, open conflict is the likelier scenario.

China is the world’s leading practitioner of state capitalism, a system in which governments use state-owned companies and investment vehicles to dominate market activity. The primary difference between this form of capitalism and the Western, more market-driven variety, is that decisions on how assets should be valued and resources allocated are made by political officials (not market forces) with political goals in mind.

In China, robust growth is a good thing, as long as it doesn’t have second-order effects that undermine the leadership’s monopoly hold on political power. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and other governments practice various forms of this system, but China gives state capitalism its global significance.

The political agenda behind China’s state capitalist development is a complicated one. On the one hand, the financial crisis and global market meltdown have bolstered the arguments of those within the Chinese leadership who warn that reliance for economic growth on exports to Europe, America, and Japan exposes China to Western market volatility. In response, Beijing will gradually work to increase domestic demand for Chinese products and to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign consumers. On the other hand, the leadership knows that Chinese companies must adopt Western working standards and management techniques if labor unrest is to be contained.

The cases of Honda and Foxconn, which employs some 800,000 people in China, underline a remarkable trend: Chinese workers are demanding and receiving better working conditions and wages. For example, the Guangdong Provincial People’s Congress may give workers the officially sanctioned right to strike. This marks a positive development in the interaction of state capitalist and market-driven economics, but continued progress won’t come easy. The Chinese leadership will respect labor rights when necessary and ignore them when possible.

The financial crisis and BP’s oil spill remind us that excessive focus on near-term profits continue to plague market-driven capitalism. Yet, state capitalism poses profound ethical challenges of its own.

First, when state-owned companies go abroad in search of new contracts, they are not bound by shareholder opinion or reputational risk. As a result, they can do business in places and with people that their private-sector rivals cannot—and with a high degree of secrecy.

There are familiar examples like Iran, Sudan, and Myanmar. In Guinea last year, just 15 days after soldiers shot down 157 pro-democracy demonstrators, an unnamed Chinese company signed a $7 billion mining contract with the Guinean government. Multinational companies can no longer afford such transactions.

In addition, within free market democracies, courts exist to safeguard the rights of individuals and companies. In state capitalist countries, they exist to legitimize the state’s hold on political power. As a result, when the White House pressures BP to pay damages, the company knows it will have its day in court. In China, a foreign company is unlikely to win a ruling against the government.

In the United States, companies “lawyer up.” In China, they are “Googled out.”

Take Google, for example. When Google executives decided that cyber-attacks on its Gmail accounts from inside China could no longer be tolerated, they decided on open confrontation with China’s government over censorship issues. Google remains a relatively popular brand with Chinese internet users, but there were several reasons why Beijing would rather force Google out than compromise with it.

First, there are other search engine firms that do not challenge the leadership’s right to restrict the flow of information. Second, one of those firms is Baidu, a Chinese company with friends in government and a much larger Chinese market share than Google. The message sent to Google was clear: Lawyer up if you want to, but you have started a war you cannot win.

The clash of market-driven and state-driven capitalism poses other questions. Should U.S. lawmakers allow a company or investment fund owned by a foreign government to own significant stakes in a U.S. financial firm or oil company?

On the one hand, the political firestorm that erupted in Washington when China National Offshore Oil Corporation tried to buy U.S.-owned Unocal in 2005 generated plenty of friction in U.S.-Chinese relations and did lasting damage to America’s reputation as a destination for foreign investment.

Yet, there are good reasons to scrutinize these kinds of proposals. State-owned companies and sovereign wealth funds based in authoritarian countries are often as opaque as their governments. Is it not reasonable to wonder how such a company or fund will manage its new assets before approving a sale with potential security implications?

On the other hand, if relatively free market countries are to compete successfully with state capitalist systems, it won’t be by trying to beat them at their own protectionist game.

The unprecedented cross-border flows of ideas, information, people, money, goods, and services have already done a lot of good for a lot of people. If allowed to develop further, they will eventually open state capitalist systems to a degree of free market competition that will force them to change.

Not all trades are good ones. Some foreign investment might legitimately compromise U.S. national security. But if the goal is to shift power and wealth from authoritarian governments into the hands of private citizens, the game must be played on free market terms.

—————————-

Ian Bremmer is president of Eurasia Group and author of The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations? Devin Stewart is program director and senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, where Bremmer is a trustee.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Hugo Chaves, with rampant inflation in his country and a tanking economy, threatened that if Colombia pursues his friends of the FARC, he will stop exports of oil to the US.

So what? Did he think it over what he said? He exports 44% of Venezuela’s oil to the US which gets just 6% of its imports from Venezuela – this at a time there is plenty of oil in the world market and there will be ample competition to sell to the US.

15% of Venezuela GDP comes from the sales to the US that make up for 25% of its foreign currency in-flow that amounts to $80 million/day. Nothing to sneeze at!

So, will Venezuela tie itself for the long haul to China – the far away market – rather then ponder to the US – the next door buyer?

If he wants to do that – call his bluff now and let him dry on his own words. He just is no armed Ahmedi-nejad less he forgot that – and there is no chance he ever can become one!

1500 FARC rebels are in Venezuela.

——————

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC).

Established in 1964 as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party, the FARC is Colombia’s oldest, largest, most capable, and best-equipped Marxist insurgency. The FARC was governed by a secretariat, led by septuagenarian Manuel Marulanda (a.k.a. “Tirofijo”) and six others, including senior military commander Jorge Briceno (a.k.a. “Mono Jojoy”). In March 2006, Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General of the United States, announced in conjunction with Drug Enforcement Administration and United States Department of Justice officials that the US State Department had placed a $5 million dollar reward on Tirofijo’s head, or for information leading to his capture.[3] But ‘Marulanda’ was never apprehended, and died of a heart attack on March 26, 2008. He was replaced as commander-in-chief by ‘Alfonso Cano‘.

Cano, now chief of FARC said in a video posted this week on an affiliated website. “We are still dedicated to looking for political exits. We hope that the government will reflect, that it won’t deceive the country anymore.”

Cano’s message is his first public reaction to the election of Santos, who as defense minister under President Alvaro UribeRaul Reyes delivered some of the biggest blows against the FARC, including a 2008 air strike in Ecuador that killed Raul Reyes, the guerillas’ No.2 leader.

The FARC is organized along military lines and includes several urban fronts.

In February 2002, the group’s slow-moving peace negotiation process with President Andres Pastrana’s administration was terminated by Bogota following the FARC’s plane hijacking and kidnapping of a Colombian Senator from the aircraft. On 7 August 2002, the FARC launched a large-scale mortar attack on the Presidential Palace where President Alvaro Uribe was being inaugurated. High-level foreign delegations—including the United States—attending the inauguration were not injured, but 21 residents of a poor neighborhood nearby were killed by stray rounds in the attack. President Uribe never forgot this and will pursue them to the last day of his Presidency that ends in 2010. What if he indeed bombs the FARC that hide across the border in Venezuela?

If Chaves reacts as he says – that will be great for alternative energy as well – even with the Republicans howling in US Congress. Will they stand up for Hugo Chaves.

Go Uribe!   Go Chaves!   GREENS are with both of you!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

VENEZUELA
Chronic Oil Leaks Sully Lake Maracaibo, Livelihoods.
By Humberto Márquez

CARACAS, Jul 27, 2010 (IPS) – Dark oil slicks are spreading from the middle of Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo towards the shores — the wetlands, mangroves, beaches and docks. Oil is permeating fishing nets, coating the garbage dumped into the water, killing off wildlife and driving away residents and tourists.

“My sons would set out the nets and at dawn would bring in mullet and corvina fish to sell to small restaurants in Puerto Caballo. They stopped several months ago because what they caught were blackened and damaged,” Adelso Silva, an elderly fisherman from Santa Cruz de Mara, near the city of Maracaibo, capital of Zulia state.

Located in northwest Venezuela and connected by a natural channel to the Caribbean Sea, Lake Maracaibo is the largest in South America, with a surface area of 12,800 square kilometres and a volume of 245 billion cubic metres of water. The shoreline and lakebed have been the sites of intense petroleum production since the second decade of the 20th century.

According to Ricardo Coronado and Ramiro Ramírez, board members of the government-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), there are 6,000 active wells in the lake, producing 700,000 barrels (159 litres each) of crude per day. They are connected by about 45,000 km of pipeline, in a gigantic underwater metallic web. There are another 4,000 inactive wells.

There have always been leaks of petroleum or natural gas from that huge network of pipes, according to sources from the industry, environmentalists and residents of the region. But since May the patches of oil have increased, as has their effect on people who make their livelihood from the lake.

“It’s increasingly difficult to catch a fish that isn’t blemished. Fifteen years ago I would catch up to 90 kilograms of fish in a day. Today, if I’m lucky, it’s 10,” said Javier Araujo, a fisherman from Cabimas, the principal city on the east shore of the lake. He has been spending his evenings using gasoline to clean his crude-soaked nets.

“Some 13,000 fishers are the ones most harmed by this disaster, which is present over eight percent of the lake’s surface. It affects our entire relationship with this body of water, including the decline in oil production,” Eliseo Fermín, president of the Zulia state legislature, and member of the political opposition.

Rafael Ramírez, minister of Energy and Petroleum as well as president of PDVSA, denied that it is a disaster: “It’s a chronic problem. It’s not a spill — they are leaks, and the leaks we have in the lake are no more than eight barrels daily. What is exceptional is that this situation, which has been ongoing, has now been brought to the fore.”

In the last three months, “we have repaired an average of 117 leaks per week” under the water and PDVSA hired some 3,000 fishers to help in collecting the oil and further clean-up, acknowledged the official.

Fisherman Silva said, “They collect scrap metal and garbage, but also quite a bit of crude. Some days I’ve watched them bring in enough to fill some trucks and they take it to PDVSA warehouses.”

“It’s a hard job, it pays 100 bolívares (23 dollars according to the official exchange rate) a day, but without any other benefits, and PDVSA prefers fishers or residents who are with the PSUV,” the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela, he said.

Fermín commented that the fishers “don’t have the expertise, the experience or the equipment needed to collect spilled petroleum and clean up the mangroves and wetlands, which are breeding sites for fish, crabs and prawns.”

The damage and its causes persist whether the leak is one barrel or 100. And the problem has a key word: maintenance,” engineer Diego González told IPS. He has worked in the industry 38 years and is a professor of graduate courses in hydrocarbons in several Venezuelan universities.

“There have always been leaks and spills in the lake, as a problem associated with oil production, but the operating companies used to take immediate action to repair the faults. That no longer happens,” said González.

“In the past, PDVSA and other operators admitted the leaks and paid compensation to the fishers. Now they stopped paying,” he said.

“To recognise 117 repairs a week gives an idea of the number of leaks admitted by Ramírez just 22 days after our complaints. What they have is improvisation and neglect in attending to pipelines that are 50 years old or more,” Gustavo Carrasquel, of the Zulia environmental organisation Azul Ambientalistas, told IPS.

In Fermín’s opinion, “the problem is intimately related to the expropriation — really the confiscation — of dozens of contracting companies (ordered by President Hugo Chávez a year and a half ago) that were the ones doing the maintenance and repairs of the wells in the lake, and which, under PDVSA orders, have stopped operating.”

“A few years ago, 135 boats were going out every day to monitor the installations. Now there are just 15 or so. Since 2003, when the petroleum employees failed in their strike to get Chávez to resign, overflights of the lake have been banned — the helicopters can’t monitor what is happening,” said Fermín.

González agreed that PDVSA “doesn’t carry out the maintenance that the contract companies used to, and an ordinary problem in the industry turns into an extraordinary situation of pollution, a decline in production and loss of income for thousands of people.”

“In addition to the petroleum leaks, there are gas leaks, and that translates into a loss of pressure in the wells, which then run their course more quickly, ultimately reducing production and lowering the country’s current and potential revenues,” said lawmaker Fermín.

According to activist Carrasquel, “the petroleum pollution is just one of the plagues on the lake.”

“Other problems include the dredging of the shipping canal that connects Lake Maracaibo to the Gulf of Venezuela and the Caribbean Sea, with the resulting salinisation; the phosphates that come from fertilisers and insecticides used in farming in the south; and the wastewater from the cities on the eastern shore,” he said.

“The first thing the government should do is let the non-governmental organisations take action. Then it should recognise the problem and, with broad participation, elaborate a management plan — and decide if we want to sacrifice the lake for the production of fossil fuels or vice versa,” stated Carrasquel.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UNEP leads 27 countries of the Wider Caribbean on  “land-based pollution” at an International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting in Panama City based on the ISTAC of Kingston, Jamaica (Interim Scientific, Technical and Advisory Committee to the Cartagena Convention. Will they touch nevertheless the menacing Deep-Water Oil-Well Blow-Out?

from: James Sniffen <sniffenj@un.org>

UNEP/CEP PRESS RELEASE: REGIONAL GOVERNMENT POLLUTION EXPERTS MEET IN PANAMA.

Panama City, 24th May, 2010:

Over 50 pollution control experts from 27 countries of the Wider Caribbean
gather today (Monday 24th May) in Panama City at the invitation of the
United Nations Environment Programme’s Caribbean Environment Programme
(UNEP CEP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The gathering of experts for the 5th Meeting of the Interim Scientific, Technical and Advisory Committee (ISTAC) to the Protocol concerning pollution from land-based sources, commonly known as the LBS Protocol, will last for five days.  The CEP is the Secretariat for this Protocol and is based in Kingston, Jamaica.

The LBS Protocol is one of three agreements under the Convention for the
Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean
Region (the Cartagena Convention).  It establishes regional guidelines and
standards for reducing the impact of pollution on the coastal and marine
environment, and on human health.   Over 80% of the pollution of the marine
environment of the Wider Caribbean is estimated to originate from land
based sources and activities.

Panama, the host country, is one of only six countries to have ratified the LBS Protocol.  The others are Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Saint Lucia, France and the United States.  Discussions during the meeting will focus on measures to increase the region’s commitment to ratify the Protocol, and have it enter into force and become international law as soon as possible.

In support of regional cooperation, UNEP CEP is partnering with the IMO and their joint Regional Activity Centre for Oil Spills (RAC REMPEITC) to bring together experts from environmental agencies, maritime authorities and port administrations for this 5th LBS ISTAC.

Delegates are expected to identify practical measures to improve the implementation of marine environmental agreements including the IMO London Convention on the control of pollution from dumping of wastes at sea and the MARPOL Convention on the prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships.

According to Nelson Andrade, Coordinator of UNEP CEP”   “It is vital that
Governments adopt a more integrated approach to reducing pollution from
land and marine based sources”.  He noted that the continued partnership
between UNEP and IMO will help to effectively implement the Cartagena
Convention and its three Protocols and to reduce marine contamination.

Meeting Participants are also expected to review recent achievements of the
UNEP CEP to reduce and control marine pollution and to endorse a new work
plan and budget for 2010-2011.

For additional information, please contact:

Christopher Corbin,Programme Officer,
Assessment and Management of Environment Pollution (AMEP),
Regional Co-ordinating Unit, UNEP CEP
Kingston, Jamaica
Telephone: (876) 922-9267 — Fax: (876) 922-9292
www.cep.unep.org; cjc@cep.unep.org;

About UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) –  The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) in 1976 under the framework of its Regional Seas Programme.   It was based on the importance and value of the Wider Caribbean Region’s fragile and vulnerable coastal and marine ecosystems including an abundant and mainly endemic flora and fauna,

A Caribbean Action Plan was adopted by the Caribbean countries and led to the adoption, in 1983, of the only current regional, legally-binding agreement for the protection of the marine environment, the Cartagena Convention.  The Convention and its first Protocol (Oil Spill) entered into force in 1986.

Two other protocols were developed by the region – the Protocols on Special Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) and the Control of Pollution from Land Based Sources (LBS) in 1990 and 1999 respectively.

The SPAW Protocol entered into force in 2000, whereas three ratifying countries are still needed for the LBS Protocol.

The Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP-CAR/RCU) serves as the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention and is based in Kingston, Jamaica.

Each Protocol is served by a Regional Activity Centre.  These Centres are
based in the Netherlands Antilles (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency
Information and Training Center for the Wider Caribbean, RAC/REMPEITC) for
the Oil Spills Protocol, Guadeloupe (RAC/SPAW) for the SPAW Protocol, Cuba
(Centre of Engineering and Environmental Management of Coasts and Bays) and
Trinidad & Tobago (Institute of Marine Affairs) for the LBS Protocol.

*****
Jim Sniffen
Programme Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210
info@nyo.unep.org
www.nyo.unep.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 25th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Avatar Shown to UN Forum by Cameron, White Messiah Alleged, “We’re All Indigenous”

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 24 — Avatar was screened by its director James Cameron for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on Saturday night in Manhattan. Afterwards Cameron was asked why the hero had to be a white male, in the tradition of Dances with Wolves and before that Little Big Man.

Cameron replied that he was trying to “wake up Caucasians.” He said both that “we are all indigenous” and that he wants “everyone to be a white Messiah.” While unclear it was heartfelt. At the end an indigenous legislator from Peru steps forward to give him her business card. It’s 2010 and networking is everything.

In fact in the film, networking is central. The enormous trees which the U.S. corporate invaders are seeking to fell have “roots which interconnect,” Signourey Weaver informs us, making up a network. The invaders are not impressed. Echoing Iraq, pointing at a book about the Na’vi, it is said that “when people are sitting on [stuff] that you want, you them then your enemy.”

In another echo of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and post 9/11/01 war, the military villain declaims “we’ll fight terror with terror.” He has looked at the protagonist’s file – “I see you were in Venezuela.” One wonders, is Cameron predicting a US assault on Hugo Chavez, before the time frame of the time?

While the movie was being screened, Cameron did fast one on one interviews with reporters. Inner City Press didn’t ask for one, but heard about at least two. The “we are all White Messiahs” line was side both in private and in public: it is a talking point, for better or worse.

Inner City Press asked the UN how the screening came about and was told

Matthew – The idea for the screening came about as the Secretariat for the Permanent Forum had heard many positive reactions from indigenous representatives on the film and how it was echoing their own stories. Through personal contacts of the Secretariat and the NGO co-sponsors, they contacted James Cameron re the possibility of a screening and it went from there.


Cameron at UNPFII screening: White Messiah?

Since, as Cameron put it, the movie made “$2.7 billion for Rupert Murdoch,” clearly he doesn’t need the publicity. It seems he consented to the event in order to put to rest the residual criticism of the movie as racist — along the “White Messiah” critique has been raised mostly by white Messiahs — and to confirm that his motives weren’t commercial.

Witness Cameron’s support to a protest of a project in Brazil. One wonders what Cameron thinks of President Lula’s policies on the indigenous. Or of Evo Morales’ recent comment that Western food, genetically engineers, leads to “baldness and homosexuality.”

Cameron disclosed that he opposed the invasion of Iraq — very courageous, at this point — and that corporate interests are “plundering if you will.” Yes, they will, including the financiers of the studios distributing Avatar. But if enough business cards are passed, perhaps there will be justice. At least, there will be a sequel. Watch this site.

UN footnote — and the United Nations is increasingly often but a footnote — one wanted to ask Cameron where he thought the UN would be in the conflict he depicted. But the public Q&A session was too short and smacked of pre-determined. If reality’s any guide, the UN would be offering humanitarian assistance on behalf of the invaders, after the invasion.

—————

For commercial potential – please see also – www.sustainabilitank.info/#14805

Are we all virtual AVATARS now? In a virtual game – “The UNITED NATIONS CITIZEN” is set on earth. Participants assume the roles of as AVATARS that strive to enjoy a new virtual world together, with instant gratifications of fun paying jobs, material goods and entertaining events – and the AVATARS are the real thing in our commercial world.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 25th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

nbsp;www.periodico26.cu/english/news_w…

Address: Carlos J. Finlay  s/n Las Tunas, Las Tunas,  Cuba  75100   e-mail   Leonardo Mastrapa | Editor: Maryla García | Webmaster: Reynaldo López |
Fighting to Save the Planet the first WORLD PEOPLE´s conference on climatic change proposed a  new MODEL BASED on solidarity, EQUITY, collective well-being AND A just  balance between economic, social and environmental needs in harmony with  mother earth. COCHABAMBA, Bolivia.— The First World People´s Conference on Climatic Change, brought to a close yesterday in Bolivia, declared the Mother Earth as the life source and proposed raising awareness about the protection of the planet, reported ANSA.

Nearly 35,000 people from 142 countries convened by Bolivian president Evo Morales met in Cochabamba city in an attempt to raise the voice of the International civil society in front of the upcoming Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Change (COP 16). In this conference, to be held in Cancun, Mexico in November, 2010, the final declaration of the “Acuerdo de Cochabamba” (Cochabamba Agreement) will be presented, which was unanimously adopted at the high-level event.

We hope that the upcoming meeting in Mexico is not in vain and that participants take good decisions for everyone,” said Morales on Thursday at the Summit which closed with a popular activity. Attending the act were Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, Cuban vicepresident Esteban Lazo and Nicaraguan commander Tomás Borge.

During the ceremony, Ecuadorian Lina Kawuanski and U.S. Vico Enosti read the main conclusions of the forum in Cochabamba, a document entitled Agreement of the People.

The declaration states that “The Mother Earth is injured and the future of humanity is at stake.” It warns that if the global temperature rises by over 2 degrees, there is a 50 percent chance that the damage will be irreversible.”

The document also points out that the capitalist system “has imposed a logic of competition, unlimited progress and growth,” in efforts to get profits without limit by separating man from nature, establishing a logic of domination and turning every resource into goods.”

“The capitalist system model is going through a crisis and peoples have the alternatives in their hands,” said the Bolivian president.

“Developed countries—–considered the most responsible for environmental pollution—–have been asked to pay their debt for overuse of the atmosphere and implement legal actions toward those who don´t fullfill their obligations,” the text states.

A multilateral agency to manage environmental issues was created. This agency will also care for the international recognition of the Mother Earth’s rights, the non-privatization of knowledge, immigrant’s protection and full respect toward the freedom and guarantees of the indigenous groups.

As a response to the harmful capitalist policies on the environment, this document proposes a new model based on solidarity, equity, collective well being and a just balance of economic, social and environmental needs in harmony with Mother Earth. It also calls for recognition of people for what they are and not for what they have.

In this order, IPS reports that a World Referendum on Climate Change was approved at the closing meeting on Thurday, to be held in April, 2011 for the people of the world to have a say on the situation of the environment on a global scale.

VOICES FOR CHANGE

At the closing act held at the Félix Carriles stadium, Bolivian president Evo Morales highlighted that the main difference between the Copenhaguen and Cochabamba gatherings on climate change is that unlike Denmark where empires gathered to impose their opinions, in Bolivia all peoples gathered to find solutions, reported DPA.

He also said that the Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro pioneered this struggle, as in 1992, Fidel said that the developed countries must pay the climatic debt, which was more important than the foreign debt.

He also expressed his rejection toward US military bases in the region, as they not only damage the environment but also cause death, as happened in Bolivia.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez called on social movements and indigenous organizations to participate in the UN World Summit on Climate slated for December in Cancún Mexico in order to avoid the death of the planet. He also urged putting an end to blackmail and double standards.

“Cochabamba is the continuation of the struggle started in Copenhaguen in order to save the human race. Remember that unfortunately, due to the US plans, the UN Summit in Copenhaguen was a great failure,” he added, ANSA reports.

——————

Evo Condemns Capitalism for Destroying the Planet

Cochabamba, Bolivia.- Bolivian President Evo Morales, condemned the capitalist system, which he described as primarily responsible for the destruction of the planet, reports PL.

THE PRESIDENT MORALES SHOWS ATTENDEES A PLASTIC PLATE, A PRODUCT HE CONSIDERS A POLLUTER OF THE ENVIRONMENT.

At the opening of the First World Peoples Conference on Climate Change, he noted that the consumer system is the main enemy of Mother Earth, for it seeks only profit at the expense of nature.

“Capitalism is the bridge of asymmetries and inequalities in this world,” he said.

Addressing more than 15,000 representatives from the five continents, gathered in the Esteban Ramirez Ecological Stadium, in the town of Tuquipaya, Morales read a letter to future generations to warn that the planet is sick because of capitalism, which tries to convert everything into merchandise.

In the letter, the president noted that an injured Mother Earth gives us warnings; earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones and droughts, hence the need to protect it.

The text also called attention to climate migrants, some 50 million people by 2050, which could rise to 200 million victims of the negative impacts on the environment.

He also criticized the earlier 15th United Nations Summit Conference of the Parties on Climate Change in Copenhagen (Denmark) and the so-called understanding of member nations, for there the demands of social organizations and indigenous peoples were not heeded.

At the Bolivian event, speakers on behalf of the five continents and 130 countries participating in the Climate Summit, also supported the initiative of Bolivia to conduct the upcoming world referendum on the environment on October 12 and set up an International Court of Climate Justice, which would judge governments and businesses that act against life on the planet.

COLORFUL CEREMONY

A colorful religious ceremony and Bolivian music opened the Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.

The Committee on Amautas of Bolivia was in charge of the celebration of an ancient wajata, attended by Andean priests and representatives of indigenous peoples of the five continents.

The sages asked permission from “Father Cosmos” and “Mother Earth” to advocate for consensus positions in defense of nature and humanity to the sound of pututus, flutes and panpipes, Andean traditional instruments.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

“Here is an opportunity for a better future to emerge from Haiti’s suffering,” said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the opening session, noting the over one million Haitians who are still homeless after the January earthquake. “But it will take a commitment from all of us to offer our support in a better way – a smarter way.” For Clinton and the other conference participants, which included co-chairs Spain, Canada, Brazil, France the United States and the European Union, that “smarter way” means investing heavily in Haiti’s hobbled government and “putting Haitians in the driver’s seat.”

To that end, the U.S. pledged 1.15 billion dollars towards “supporting the government of Haiti’s plan to strengthen agriculture, energy, health, and security and governance.” Other major donors include Venezuela and the Inter-American Development Bank, which each pledged around two billion dollars over the next decade.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said the government devised its own redevelopment framework after producing a post-earthquake needs assessment report. According to Bellerive, that plan entails major investment in basic infrastructure along with the short-term reconstitution of the Haitian government, which lost all of its ministry buildings and a quarter of its civil service in the January quake.

Bellerive also stressed that poor central planning and underdevelopment in the country’s peripheral regions led to the overcrowding of the capital, Port-au-Prince – a social and economic phenomenon that was directly responsible for the severity of the earthquake. {that must be the number of casualties and not the geophysics!}

“We need to redeploy people throughout the country,” said Bellerive. “We need strong regions with capable infrastructure of economic development, with a planning process.”

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton, who will co-chair the interim redevelopment committee with Bellerive, was candid in discussing the shortfalls of previous approaches to international development in Haiti, and struck a self-critical note in discussing his pre-quake work as a U.N. Special Envoy, a position he has held since May 2009.

“I was asked…to harass all the donors to see that they honour their commitments. I was a failure at that,” he said, noting that only 30 percent of the funds requested for development in Haiti before the earthquake had actually been dispersed.

The rebuilding process is still fraught with uncertainty, largely because of the possibility that the international community will not follow through on its commitments.

Marc Levin, a professor of sustainable development at Columbia University’s Earth Institute who was in Haiti in the period immediately after the earthquake, told IPS that the rebuilding process will have to play out before the conference can be considered a success.

“A major part of story is going to be about the international community being ready to get really involved with the Haitian people and government and helping to pay for it,” he said. “The donors’ conference doesn’t really give you any clues if that’s going to happen. These are the baby steps of a process that could lead to a great recovery.”

He cited the Marshall Plan, the U.S. government’s programme for restructuring European economies and governments after World War II, as a model for the kind of comprehensive, far-reaching redevelopment that will be needed in Haiti.

He wondered if today’s donors are actually serious about taking up that challenge. “The donor countries have a history of forgetting about [development goals in Haiti] rather rapidly,” he said. “The pledges are nonbinding.”

In a press release, Oxfam spokesperson Philippe Mathieu expressed similar concerns about the donor nations’ commitment. “The last time the region was hit by a natural disaster of this scale, Hurricane Mitch of 1998, only less than a third of the nine billion dollars promised materialised,” he wrote. “This cannot be allowed to happen this time.”

While the future of the redevelopment efforts remains murky, Wednesday’s conference offered more occasions for optimism than pessimism.

Marie St. Fleur, Massachusetts’s first Haitian-American state legislator, received one of the day’s largest ovations for a speech about how the rebuilding process could give Haitians the opportunity to take responsibility for their nation’s future.

“It is up to us to help make real the hard won freedom that the fathers of the Haitian Revolution fought so valiantly for,” she said, referring to the 1804 slave uprising that made Haiti the Western Hemisphere’s second independent state.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Friday, March 26, 2010, the UN University hosted at the UN Headquarters Professor Alejandro Toledo who tried to practice what he teaches, during the years 2001 – 2006 when as President of Peru for a full term.

The advertised topic of the event that was part of the UNU Current Affairs Series – was:

“SOCIAL AGENDA IN LATIN AMERICA.”

The topic is clearly a very up-to-date issue as it is being presented at the UN by leaders of the ALBA group and Professor Toledo does not see exactly eye to eye with them. Our website has taken the position that it is in the interest of the US to develop a closer rapport with the Latin Rio Group and with ALBA. As such the ideas of a previous Peruvian President, an indigenous American, and this is an extremely attractive proposition, someone who has learned facts of life not just as an academic, and can look back indeed at a quite successful presidency, even harboring the intent for a second term in office, he is clearly someone worthwhile to have over as a guest speaker at the UNU – really the only remaining brain trust or open think tank at the UN.

I posted on SustainabiliTank.info nearly exactly to the day – two years ago, the article:

Former Presidents Cesar Gaviria (Columbia) and Alexandro Toledo (Peru) With Former UNDESA USG Ocampo Conclude, At a Meeting of the Latin American Business Association at Columbia Business School, That Latin America, With Markets Of Produce In China, India, and LA, Could Themselves Become A Market Equal To The US, Provided Their Mestizo/Indio Poor Get The Chance To Become Consumers. Was posted  March 30th, 2008

 www.sustainabilitank.info/2008/03…

further postings can be found on www.sustainabilitank.info/?s=Alej…

I will first reintroduce here former President Toledo and provide new content, but please look up also the first article. It is extremely interesting to see how Professor Toledo refuses President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, an ALBA leader, left credentials – as this throws light on the incident at the UN, part of yesterday’s event, which I chose best to let you read from the attached reporting by Matthew Lee from Inner City Press.

But before doing what I just said, let me get to say something about the title of the meeting. It is not just the title of a lecture, rather it comes from the title of a meeting that was held in Estoril, Portugal, November 30, 2009, that established a “SOCIAL AGENDA FOR DEMOCRACY IN LATIN AMERICA FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS.” This lead to “Public and Private Policy Recommendations” and a call for Leadership Beyond Politics and the establishment of a Global Center for Development and Democracy with offices in San Isidro, Lima, Peru; Washington DC: and Madrid, Spain with internet and TV outlets: www.cgdd.org and www.cgdd.tv

The organization has an impressive Board of Directors and an International Advisory Council that though at first look seems heavy on Peruvian former officials, but includes names like Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Goddard and Francis Fukuyama, Shimon Peres, Jacques Chirac, Javier Perez de Cuellar, Muhammad Yunus, Felipe Gonzalez Marquez, Enrique Iglesias, Rodrigo Rato, Nicolas Ardito Barletta, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Vicente Fox, Lionel Jospin, and many others. Their statements in the Executive Summary could be subject for another posting.

In effect, the Washington office, in the presence of three ex- Heads of State or Government, was inaugurated last night:

Ex presidentes inauguraron oficina internacional del Centro Global para el Desarrollo y la Democracia en Washington DC

Ex presidentes inauguraron oficina internacional del Centro Global para el Desarrollo y la Democracia en Washington DC

25 Marzo 2010

Anoche se inauguro con la asistencia de los ex presidentes de Perú, Alejandro Toledo, de México, Vicente Fox, y de España, José María Aznar.

The Address of the Washington office:

505 9th Street N.W, Suite 1000, Washington, D.C. 20004

Teléfono: +1-202-776-7801

E-mail: contacto@cgdd.org

This clearly shows a high level of interest in the UNU meeting of today, Friday.


———————
Dr. ALEXANDRO TOLEDO was democratically elected President of Peru from July 2001-July 2006. He was elected by narrowly defeating former President Alan Garcia. It was Toledo’s second presidential race in just 13 months. A year earlier he ran against incumbent Alberto K. Fujimori. Toledo dropped out of the runoff election amid widespread allegations that the election was rigged in Fujimori’s favor. Months after being reelected, Fujimori fled to his native Japan and resigned via fax after the broadcast of Fujimori’s chief spy, Vladimiro Montesinos, evidently bribing an opposition congressman to switch parties.

Toledo was born in a small and remote village in the Peruvian Andes, 12,000 feet above sea level. He is one of sixteen brothers and sisters from a family of extreme poverty. His father was a bricklayer and his mother sold fish at markets. At the age of six, he worked as a street shoe-shiner and simultaneously sold newspapers and lotteries to supplement the family income.

At age 16, with the guidance of members of the Peace Corps, Toledo enrolled at the University of San Francisco on a one-year scholarship. He continued his education, obtaining a partial soccer scholarship, and making up the difference by pumping gas.

Dr. Toledo started with  BAs in Economics and Business Administration from the University of San Francisco, then proceeded to Stanford for two masters degrees in economics and in Economics of Human Resouces, he earned a Ph.D. in economics with emphasis on Human Resources from Stanford, at that time he met his wife, Elaine Karp and that was a prize also.

They married in 1979. Eliane Chantal Karp Fernenbug was born in Paris, experienced life on a kibbutz in Israel, and did Master’s and Ph.D. work in anthropology at Stanford University, with a minor in Finance and “Economy of Development”.  Karp  first came to Peru in the late 1970s to study Indian (indigenous) communities while working on her Ph.D. Karp speaks seven languages: French, Spanish, English, Hebrew, Dutch, Portuguese, and Quechua, a native Peruvian language. Before her husband was elected president, she gave several campaign speeches in Quechua, which helped her husband’s election campaign. At one rally in the Andean city of Huaraz, Karp declared that the “apus” (mountain gods of Peru’s ancient Indian cultures) had spoken and that Toledo’s election would break a “curse of 500 years” of oppression. When I was in Peru – a friend who knew them both, told me – this is a case of look for the woman that stands behind the man. She gets part of the success but she is also successful on her own. Before going to Peru, at the World Bank she specialized in loans for economic aid programs for developing countries. In Peru, before becoming first lady, she worked for USAID.

Eliane Karp serves on the board of several organizations. She is the Honorary President and Founder of the Fund for Development of Indigenous Communities of Latin America and the Caribbean, and she was once the Honorary President of the National Commission on Andean, Amazon and Afro-Peruvian Communities (CONAPA) of Peru. Karp accompanied Toledo into office with ambitious plans to address social inequality and the needs of Peru’s poor. When she became Peru’s first lady, she promised to shake up the capital’s elite and avoid the socialite duties customary to presidential wives. Toledo later appointed her honorary head of a commission to address multicultural issues.

She published an extensive list of books, papers and articles. During the 2008-2009 academic year, Dr. Karp-Toledo conducted an investigation on the successful struggle of native peoples in three Andean countries to influence the destiny of their nations.
and published a book  on lessons and experiences in implementing public policies that foster the inclusion of indigenous peoples in Latin American countries. She also participates in research on social inclusion and equality in the foundation created by her husband, the Global Center for Development and Democracy  www.cgdd.org). I expanded on this paragraph as Mrs. Karp-Toledo was also present in New York at the UNU event.

Dr. Toledo was able to go from extreme poverty to the most prestigious academic centers of the world, later becoming one of the most prominent democratic leaders of Latin America. He was the first Peruvian president of indigenous descent to be democratically elected in five hundred years.

His most precious dream and work, he says  now, is that other men and women of the large socially excluded Peruvian and Latin American population can also become presidents of their respective countries by having access to quality health care and education.

Dr. Toledo was a visiting Scholar at Harvard University and Research Associate at Wasseda University in Tokyo.

Before becoming President, Dr. Toledo worked for the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, and the United Nations in New York.

On the stump, like the most experienced politicians, Toledo knows how to work a crowd, whether addressing peasants or potential foreign investors. Seamlessly transitioning from a buttoned-down, eloquent economist to a rebel outfitted in jeans, a t-shirt, and a bandana, Toledo is well versed in international trade and promises to give voice to the labor movement.

Mostly, though, Toledo has preached a centrist platform, pledging to award small-business loans to farmers, balance the budget, lure foreign investment, and create jobs. Toledo’s moderate campaign and carefully selected issues have found broad appeal. Let us also remember the academic institution he is now connected with – Stanford University and the Hoover Institution so let us not expect him to be a chess piece of the left.

President Toledo first appeared on the international political scene in 1996 when he formed and led a broad democratic coalition in the streets of Peru to bring down the autocratic regime of Alberto Fujimori. This coalition had the support of the international democratic community.

During the five years of Dr. Toledo’s presidency, the Peruvian economy grew at an average rate of 6 percent, registering as one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. Inflation averaged 1.5 percent and fiscal deficit went as low as 0.2 percent. While markets in China and Thailand were opened, free trade agreement negotiations with the United States, Chile, Mexico and Singapore were about to conclude. These markets were generating new investments and jobs for the most poverty-stricken Peruvians.

Nevertheless the fight against poverty through health and educational investment was the internal central aim of Dr. Toledo’s presidency. As a result of sustained economic growth and deliberate social policies directed to the most poor, extreme poverty was reduced by 25 percent in five years. Employment grew at an average rate of 6 percent from 2004-2006. He started the alleviation of poverty process through investments in healthcare and education.

He is currently an economics professor (on leave) at the University of ESAN in Peru. and from Stanford University, and from the Freeman Spogli Institute’s Center on Democracy, Development and the rule of Law.

He is Founder and President of the Global Center for Development and Democracy (GCDD), which studies the interrelationship between poverty, inequality, and the future of democratic governance. The institute   www.cgdd.org) is housed in Latin America, The US, and the EU as we mentioned earlier. Dr. Toledo is currently a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at SAIS/Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC and also senior Fellow in Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution, and his wife is Visiting Professor in the Department of Anthropology at George Washington University. She teaches classes there on the culture and social organization of indigenous peoples in the Andean countries and their struggle for greater rights and participation in public life and democratic politics. Their base is now in Washington DC.

At the UN, March 26, 2010, Dr. Alejandro Toledo spoke about the relationship between economic growth and democracy – poverty, equality, social institutions – the challenges of achieving sustainable growth.

Democracy is not just about casting votes on election day. The high level of inequality in social institutions leads to low chance to get economic democracy. Poverty undermines economic growth and this in turn will destroy any concept of democracy.

In the streets of Latin America there is discontent that shows up as social unrest which then pushes away investment – everybody loses. Investment that comes in under such conditions has low rate of return. The investors must do their part in conjunction with the local government for their own long term goals.

Dr. Toledo does not share the “trickle down” concept. He wants the government to prioritize and show accountability in transparency conditions. It is all about transparency and education. He says it is not an abstract proposition that one achieves through professorial regression mathematics – it is his own life experience. He says democracy in Latin America is an empty shell to be used only on election day, then discarded – corruption rules and people have empty stomachs. People read statistics and ask – if we do so well – why is my stomach empty?

It takes 18-20 years to train a professional – a lawyer, doctor, engineer. He calls for strong democratic institutions to increase the quality of parliaments and bring about accountability.

He made some populist statements:

– Democracy does not have nationality.

– Human Rights does not have skin color.

– The air we breathe belongs to all of us.

The UN has put forward the goal of reducing poverty by 2015 – some countries will do it. Latin America has the stigma of instability, high inflation, and the foreign debt crisis. Again and again – the Toledo doctrine is that in order to have sustainable growth in Latin America the social aspects of democracy must be tackled in the interest of the people but also in the interest of the investors that are needed to help growth.

From here it opened up to questions and with a lively audience Dr. Toledo showed the hand of a master.

Journalists present wanted to know the Toledo reaction to Chavez and Morales populism and were not disappointed. The answer came that if you get a lot of money because of the increase of oil income – it is easy – but planning gets harder. He does not like the closing of independent TV channels or the jailing of the only opposition leader. This connects to climate change:

(1) But if we compete for investments we have to set clear terms and norms for the environment. You cannot build roads to integrate countries – Bolivia – Peru – Brazil – Paraguay – or build pipelines – without looking on the impact on indigenous people on the way.

(2) We must provide energy for the poor.

(3) But then the alternative to oil – to be cleaner, cheaper and to make the economy less dependent on oil.

Growth based on oil has brought up 3 million people world wide but the fossil crisis brought half a billion down into poverty.

But it could have been even worse if not for new players like Brazil.

Cheap labor is part of growth but the question is the collection of tax. The answer is new economy with indigenous democracy and not neo-liberalism, but without growth it will not work. The arrival of investment starts the chain. Microcredit alone will not do it – though microcredit has helped start small business. One needs then  (a) a project, (b) the microcredit and (c) a market.

Women have proven they can do it and with the result improve the education of their children.

Government and the companies are both responsible for social investment – water, education, more accountability.

Sustainable Development means when people are educated there is environmental concept of quality of life. That requires policies that go beyond political statements and it needs investments – so he talks of environment, less corruption.

If there is corruption, the cost of production increases, the self esteem of the society is lost – there is no faith in government without accountability – this leads to poverty and corruption and corruption is higher in authoritarian regimes.

Now that lead to the Venezuelan intervention that is described further on by Matthew Lee.

I will end here by saying that the Dr. Alejandro Toledo platform is clearly not of the left, rather the Hoover Institution and the Washington houses of SAIS and Brookings. But it is think-tank stuff that can show the way to the ALBA and Rio Groups on how to cooperate with Washington in development of their own people and countries, provided they also put brakes on the deeds of the foreign companies and on their own governments. If this is said in a balanced way, and the corporations want to go to Latin America with long-term goals – not just for the reaping of mineral resources, with responsible governance concepts, a Toledo consultancy in Washington should be weighed in gold. He could thus be more effective there now then at the helm of Peru alone.

I would be interested to get further information from Venezuela of how they would want to be seen as presenters of a different point of view – or simply as defenders of an insulted regime that did indeed jail its opposition and stopped media. But, if they have an argument with those that got silenced, we would like to see how those arguments could improve upon the Toledo presentation.

Regarding the UNU, the event was great. When Venezuela wanted to have its intervention he made it possible and stood firm that in an academic institution there cannot be political censorship – simply said – Venezuela cannot stop at the UN the expression of criticism by anyone – clearly not by another former head of State. Further, it must be noted that when there was a coup in 2003 against President Chavez, then President Toledo and other Latin American Presidents, including Lagos of Chile, spoke up for President Chavez.

* * * * *

At UN, Peru’s Toledo Coy about Election, Blasts Chavez, Draws Venezuelan Protest.

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 26 — Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, reportedly polling at 11% support in the run up to the 2011 election, spoke Friday at the UN in New York. Inner City Press asked him about his poll numbers and plans, including if he might join forces with the leader of the Partido Popular Cristiano, Lourdes Flores Nano, who polls lower at six percent.

“I understand you are a journalist,” Toledo began. “You do your job and I do mine. I am not a candidate, I’m sorry to disappoint you.” He paused. “At least not yet.”

Toledo went on to describe his “heavy burden” as the first president elected in 500 years from “an Andean background… I’m concerned how to implement, how to change lives.”

Describing his life as a professor, he concluded that he’d “lost him mind” once moving from “academia to politics, I’m trying to be care not to commit the same mistake.”

Toledo was also asked, twice, about Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Toledo contrasts a leader flush with oil money with one, implicitly like him, who tries to manage an economy correctly. He denounced the shutting down of media and arrests of political opponents.

A representative of Venezuela’s Mission to the UN ran out into the hallway of the UN’s new Temporary North Lawn Building, clutching his cell phone. Later, a more senior Venezuelan representative, Ms. Medina, entered the room. She was given the last question of the UN University event.

She chided Toledo for criticizing President Chavez without giving any notice to the Venezuelan Mission, calling this “cobardia” or cowardice.


UN’s Ban and Toledo, Hugo Chavez and right of reply not shown

The audience, with many Toledo supporters in attendance, booed the use of this word, and urged the UNU moderator to cut off the question. But Ms. Medina continued, in Spanish, with the colleague who had called her providing a monotone translation.

She said the Toledo had supported the coup against Chavez in 2003. While some argue that it was not a coup at all, Toledo when he responded countered that he had issued a press released condemning the attempt to oust Chavez. He conceded that for a time his popularity had sunk to 8%, but he said this was because he was not “managing for polls.” Ms. Medina rolled her eyes. She said Toledo did not understand democracy.

Afterwards, Ms. Medina was heard to say while in the UN coffee line that “there are going to be problems.” It was unclear if this meant a complaint against UNU. She also told a journalist to be sure to report “objectively.” Or what?

Also after the showdown, sources say that Toledo’s wife complained to the UNU moderator about the Venezuelan intervention, and ask that he deliver a short apology for the camera crew following Toledo. Some surmised a campaign commercial being filmed.

At Friday’s UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Martin Nesirky about the relation between UNU and the UN, and whether UN events held inside UN buildings implied that member states have the “right of reply” as they have in the General Assembly. Nesirky said he’d look into it.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 26th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

nbsp;www.coha.org/the-yanomami-malaria…

The Yanomami: Malaria, Genocide and Policy Prospects.
by By Council On Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) Research Fellow Jared Ritvo

• A Black Mark for Brazil
• The situation couldn’t be more urgent

The Yanomami of the Brazilian Amazon have been decimated in the last 20 years by an incursion of prospect-miners (garimpeiros) who brought diseases (especially malaria) and other maladies to their hitherto relatively isolated communities.  Here we follow the history of the garimpeiros incursion  examining the current  trying situation and make urgent policy suggestions.
Background on the Yanomami Way of Life:
The Yanomami live in an area of approximately 192,000 km² spanning both sides of the Brazil-Venezuela border.  Their land varies in ecological biomes from lowland tropical rainforest in both the Orinoco and Amazon River drainages to mountainous highlands.  The Yanomami numbered approximately 29,000 in 2005 with about 14,000 living within Brazil. They are dispersed throughout this region and live at low population densities.
This research essay primarily concerns the Yanomami who live on the Brazilian side of the border who are being seen as the most affected by both garimpagem (prospecting) intruding on their native lands and malaria epidemics.
Likewise, this situation, is even being termed as a genocide due to the inexcusable behavior of a number of Brazilian government officials who both lent support to the garimpeiros and knowingly adjusted to the spread of disease in order to wreak havoc on the Yanomami people (particularly due to the exposure of the tribe to malaria, against which they did not have immunity).  During the height of the gold rush from 1987 to 1999, it is estimated that the malaria epidemic, combined with the armed battles against garimpeiros, shockingly led to the loss of thirteen percent of the Yanomami population living in the region.
This modern gold rush on Yanomami lands began in the mid-1970s when the Brazilian military dictatorship assessed and identified the value of mineral deposits (including gold) on Yanomami lands under the mapping project Radambrasil.  At the same time, between 1970 and 1980 the international price of gold increased seventeen-fold.  In 1980, an estimated 5,000 garimpeiros moved onto the Yanomami lands at Furo de Santa Rosa.  Garimpeiros generally were destitute men, as a result of protracted urban unemployment, or were landless rural workers. At Furo de Santa Rosa, garimpeiros quickly outnumbered the local Yanomami population of the Shiriana subgroup, twenty-five to one.  According to University of Brasília Anthropologist, Dr. Alcida Ramos, less than six months after the arrival of garimpeiros, the Shiriana began contracting malaria.  There were some deaths and anemia became widespread.
Garimpeiros used the town of Furo de Santa Rosa as the starting point from which they journeyed out onto the tributaries of the Uraricoera River, approaching a National Foundation for the Indian (FUNAI) outpost located at Ericó  Notably, the garimpagem sites were, and are still, almost always accessed by small aircraft using remote jungle airstrips. Without airstrips, garimpagem would not have been feasible due to the lack of other transportation means in the forested Yanomami lands.
In 1986 the Polícia Federal drove most of the garimpeiros out of the region.  Simultaneously, the military began a secret operation in the Northern Brazil’s Northern Amazon called Calha Norte. This intiative has been described by scholars as a covert plan of the military to move settlers into the region to thwart a feared foreign influence.  Under the plan, the Air Force would widen a landing strip at a site called Paapiú without declaring the purpose.  They then would evict the local Yanomami and declare Paapiú a national security area.   However, after this was done, the Air Force did nothing further at the site. The ploy should be understood as a pro-garimpagem (or at least pro-settlement) act due to the absence of any other explanation as to why the Air Force would have built this airstrip in the first place.  This interpretation of the purpose of this act is in accordance with previous findings that Calha Norte was a clandestine operation to settle the region.
This Air Force-improved landing strip at Paapiú soon proved a catalyst for a gold rush.  By August 1987, thousands of garimpeiros had arrived at the airstrip.   From that location, according to Dr. Ramos, they were able to access most of the Yanomami territory.
While the military and FUNAI permitted garimpeiro’s entrance to Yanomami territory, they simultaneously forced the eviction of all medical personnel, anthropologists, other researchers, missionaries and NGO workers.  Dr. Ramos states that for the two years following the expulsion of humanitarians aid-worker contingentsm.the Yanomami became infected with malaria at far higher rates than normal and were increasingly subject to other perils as a result of the incursion of garimpeiros, yet received no assistance.
In December 1987, shortly after the eviction, the President of FUNAI and the Governor of the State of Roraima proclaimed that the “reserves of gold mining” on Yanomami lands could now be legally extracted.
By December 1987, garimpeiros numbered more than 5,000 near Paapiú.  An atmosphere of “gold fever” spread in the Northern Brazilian Amazon, particularly in the capital of Roraima, Boa Vista.  A large portion of Boa Vista residents, including most small farmers and many professionals, left their jobs to head for the placers on Yanomami lands.  By January 1988, garimpeiros numbered approximately 10,000.  By 1989, they numbered 20,000 to 40,000.
The cumulative effect of this incursion is the estimation that from 1987 to early 1999—the height of the gold rush—thirteen percent of the Yanomami residents in the region died due to environmental impact and malaria.  During these years, the pernicious gold rush overwhelmed the Yanomami in the state of Roraima with garimpeiros eventually outnumbering the indigenous population nearly six-fold.
FUNASA’s Model for Delivering Health Care to the Indigenous: Successes and Failures
In order to understand the current successes and failures of the administration of health care to the Yanomami, an examination of the National Health Foundation’s (FUNASA’s) health care delivery model is necessary.  FUNASA first implemented its present model for administering health care to the indigenous people in 1999 with the Lei Arouca.
This model is designed around the Sanitary Indigenous District (DSEI), the organizational structure for the administration of health services. The Yanomami have their own designated Sanitary Indigenous District, which includes Yanomami lands in both the states of Roraima and Amazonas.  The Lei Arouca states that local leaders, anthropologists, indigenous groups, government entities, NGOs and others were consulted in the formation of these districts.
The DSEI is organized around an Indian Health Office in a regional urban center adjacent to the indigenous area.  The Indian Health Office maintains common hospital resources.  The Pole Base is the head office inside the indigenous area and has basic health equipment.  Finally, there are many health posts, which branch out all around the DSEI.  Health posts have very limited infrastructure and are designed to attend to common diseases such as malaria and diarrhea.
The human resources structure for personnel who deliver healthcare in the field in Lei Arouca contains both the Multidisciplinary Teams for Indigenous Health (EMSIs) and the Indigenous Health Agent (AIS).  Relevant to malaria care, the EMSIs consist of doctors, nurses, nurse technicians and lab professionals who work primarily in the Pole Bases. The AISs, accordingly, do the majority of their work in native villages.  FUNASA states that in the past ten years it has done extensive work in training indigenous health agents, and that it has selected them based on specific criteria, including community recommendations.
From the 2009 publication presenting Lei Arouca’s structure, DSEIs appear self-sufficient, or in other words, one would assume that they have contracts with all the personnel who are directly employees of FUNASA.  However, this has not been the case in the Yanomami DSEI.  FUNASA sub-contracted other organizations to deliver health care in the Yanomami DSEI.  These organizations have had varied success with treating malaria epidemics.
The NGO Urihi, sub-contracted from 2000 to 2004, states that it had great success in mitigating malaria among the Yanomami population of Brazil.  Accordingly, malaria cases in the Yanomami DSEI fell almost ninety-nine percent.  However, in 2004 Urihi opted to end its contract due to increased restrictions by FUNASA. This change stipulated in 2004 that contracted organizations (such as Urihi) would simply be personnel providers and all staff would effectively work under FUNASA’s guidelines.  Prior to these restrictions Urihi was more autonomous.   A professional researcher on the Yanomami, Francois Michel Le-Tourneau, confirmed that Urihi was effective in providing excellent care with great monitoring and treatment of anyone in various locations who presented a case of malaria.
Following the termination of the relationship between FUNASA and Urihi, FUNASA subcontracted The University of Brasília Foundation (FUB).  Unfortunately for the Yanomami people, the FUB was not nearly as effective at administering health care despite increased funding.  Corruption rumors circulated in the press regarding FUB’s healthcare management and consequently the public ministry forced FUNASA to abandon the FUB contract.
Consideration of Genocide:
An essential question surrounding the Gold Rush on Yanomami lands, and its related problems, such as the malaria epidemic and environmental degradation is: what, if any, policy or action on the part of individuals or groups can be interpreted as genocide?  If indeed there are potential criminal cases, the parties involved should be indentified and investigated.  Additionally, if consideration of genocide were to resurface with indictments and international news media attention, it would have a profound effect on a future Brazilian government policy for the Terra Indigena Yanomami.  Under these conditions one could expect a new political presence in Brasília to end the current negligence of its politically damaging inadequate delivery of health care to the Yanomami; moreover, better resources for health care would reach the Yanomami and probably, if the new development has the political play to do it, one could witness the eviction of currently resident garimpeiros.
In her book on the Yanomami, Dr. Linda Rabben generally characterizes the two-year period during which would-be aid givers were expelled from Yanomami lands, starting in 1987 by a FUNAI request to the Federal Police to do so.  It was an incredibly suspicious action to expel groups, which were not directly involved in garimpagem activities from the Yanomami lands, and the following will argue that some individuals should be investigated for having committed genocide.
In 1988, after FUNAI made the initial motion to evict would-be aid givers, FUNAI President Romero Jucá made public statements denying that the Yanomami were dying en masse from malaria epidemics.  Only a few months after these statements, Brazilian President José Sarney appointed Jucá governor of the state of Roraima, a newly created political division.  President Sarney by then already had been petitioned by six Brazilian senators to stop what media and NGOs were already calling “the genocide of the Yanomami.”
At that time, genocide protestors already sought demarcation of Yanomami lands to develop a legal basis to expel garimpeiros.  Counter to the Yanomami’s interests, however, FUNAI proposed a delineation of 19 “islands” which they could populate, reversing their former proposal for a 9.4 million hectare continuous Yanomami reserve. Dr. Rabben believes it appears FUNAI acted against the Yanomami’s interests and, deliberately supported garimpeiros by, in effect, banning foreign and domestic aid providers from having a physical presence on Yanomami land.
This gerrymandering-like attempt to restructure the Yanomami’s land reserves to accommodate garimpeiros was put into action when President Sarney ratified the “19-island” scheme. Sarney then further bolstered garimpeiros’ ambitions with decrees that created two national forests within Yanomami lands and prohibited entrance of any “third party” without prior authorization from the Brazilian National Government’s Institute for the Environment and Natural Resources (IBAMA) or FUNAI.
Considering genocide, many environmentalists fervently believe that Sarney should be indicted. He acted counter to the sheer preservation of the Yanomami.  Dr. Rabben notes that Sarney, under international and national pressure to do so, initially signed a decree to expel garimpeiros from the Yanomami lands, but then signed another decree effectively reversing the first.  This second decree was the creation of two reserves for garimpeiros within the Yanomami indigenous lands.  These reserves were publicly defended by Sarney’s Minister of Justice with the dubious assertion that they were meant to prevent the spread of epidemics to other parts of the country.  The federal attorney general responded by drafting impeachment charges against the president for attempting to foil plans to expel garimpeiros.  Sarney left office in 1990 with impeachment accusations still pending.
The international legal definition of genocide provides a compelling legal basis for indicting FUNAI employees (including Jucá), President Sarney, members of the Federal Police or others.  According to Articles II and III of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, genocide must contain both “mental” and “physical elements”.  The mental element is “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, racial or religious group.”  The physical element contains five distinctive acts, three of which are relevant to this case: “(a) killing members of the group, (b) causing bodily or mental harm to members of the group, (c) deliberately inflicting on the group the conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”   Acts punishable and relevant to the case are: “(a) genocide, (b) conspiracy to commit genocide, (c) attempt to commit genocide and (e) complicity in genocide.”
Regarding the mental element, a general anti-indigenous culture can be found in the history of this case among FUNAI officials, President Sarney and, of course, among miners and mining interests in Boa Vista, Roraima.  Indeed, it may not be difficult to prove that in many specific instances there was intent to destroy this ethnic group.  Because President Sarney and others knowingly and repeatedly made decisions that they knew would expose the Yanomami to malaria epidemics and thus a potentially life-threatening illness, a thorough legal investigation of the aforementioned parties would appear to be necessary.
Regarding the physical element, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide definition“(c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” This is most applicable to the decision by FUNAI to expel all would-be aid givers from the Yanomami lands.  President Romero Jucá’s actions as the head of FUNAI should be investigated for genocide based on the application of these terms, as should those of other FUNAI employees’ actions, due to overwhelming evidence that suggests the organization was deliberately placing the Yanomami under such prejudicial conditions.  Their delinquencies are, of course, even more egregious because FUNAI’s raison d’être is supposedly to protect the indigenous.
Policy Suggestions:
The problems identified in reviewing the historical record of this case include: (1) instances of anti-indigenous sentiment in government bodies dealing with the Yanomami, (2) negligence of the Yanomami’s interests and needs, and (3) and the high probability of corruption.  These bureaucratic failures occurred in state and the national government, in FUNAI, FUNASA and in the organizations FUNASA contracted ostensibly to offer the delivery of health care in the field.
Simultaneously, according to interviews with anthropologists who work in the region, as well as reports filed from Urihi, since 2004 malaria has been increasing among the Yanomami.  To stop this recurring outbreak and avoid repeating past mistakes, the government and all parties involved must pursue policies in which the delivery of health care truly focuses on the best interests of the Yanomami and does not misappropriate or fail to provide funds and resources intended for them (as the Yanomami cite in their Manifesto Sobre a Saúde Indígena).   Moreover, it is essential the Yanomami be involved as much as possible in the process of administering their own health care system.  Realistically, the best way to accomplish this is to have Yanomami advocacy organizations, such as Hutukara (the Yanomami-formed organization to advocate their needs) and the District Health Councils, to meet regularly with DSEI administrators.  These organizations should establish a routine procedure for registering formal complaints and suggestions about improving the administration of Yanomami health care.
Suggestions on Improving the Quality of and Access to Health Care to Address Malaria:
Following the grievances and requests made by the Yanomami people, the Brazilian federal government recently created a new body to specifically oversee indigenous health care  under the aegis of the Ministry of Health.  Based on the document Boletim 92 by Commissão Pro-Yanomami, the new government body will structure their health care hierarchy much like FUNASA under Lei Arouca.
Groups such as the Commissão Pro-Yanomami, which was the original NGO formed to address Yanomami needs, and now Hutukara, are examples of organizations on-site in Boa Vista which should have input in any new policy.  Many recommendations for oversight are put forth in their Manifesto Sobre a Saúde Indígena. An overview of the recommendations follows:
(1)    District Health Councils approve of decisions regarding the hiring of candidates for head of the Sanitary Indigenous District.
(2)    District Health Councils approve of any organizations contracted to provide the Yanomami health care in the field.  (Past examples of contracted organizations include: Urihi and FUB.)
(3)    Indigenous Health Agents should have demonstrated their capacity and have at least a high school education with a preference given to persons trained in indigenous human resources, in an effort to decrease negligence and corruption
Recently, under the restructuring that created a new indigenous health sub-section under the ministry of health, a career track was created with a specific training course for persons to be educated in indigenous health.  Indeed this is a positive development because persons delivering health care to the indigenous should be trained in doing so, and should be concerned about their unique needs. This is incorporated in the design of the new indigenous health organization that will replace Lei Arouca.
Another goal for the new policy concerning the Yanomami is that FUNAI and the Polícia Federal should block the illegal entrance of garimpeiros onto the Terra Indigena Yanomami and evict those mining there illegally.  This should be done because garimpeiros environmentally degrade Yanomami land as well as increase the spread of malaria to the Yanomami.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that we will see an increase in this type of enforcement in the future.  This is because the Terra Indigena Yanomami is vast, the agencies responsible for this enforcement (the Polícia Federal and FUNAI) are too understaffed and underfunded, and there is at present little political capital in Brasília to effectively pursue this policy goal.   The only way the Brazilian government would finally evict the garimpeiros and make a wholehearted attempt to keep them out is if investigations are begun and lead to individuals being indicted for committing genocide during the period 1987 to 1990.  This legal attention to the issue would create a desire on the part of the Brazilian government, and from the Brazilian populace in general, to demonstrate to the international community that the perilous situation of the Yanomami is being handled carefully and with responsibility.  Likewise this would inevitably lead to the Yanomami receiving better health care.
In general, although evicting garimpeiros is important, addressing health care is a better option for obstructing the spread of malaria.  There are a number of reasons for this, the foremost one being it is the most feasible solution for malaria epidemics as the disease has already been sufficiently introduced by garimpeiros in the Yanomami lands. Evicting garimpeiros now would not be effective at preventing the spread of malaria epidemics (further research is required to make this determination with any authority).  Also, if the Brazilian government evicts garimpeiros they may simply return, and policing their reentrance into a massive piece of land is quite difficult.  One of the best ways to inhibit garimpeiros’ access to Yanomami lands could be restricting access to airstrips in the region, but this solution also falls prey to issues of patrolling a huge swath of land in light of understaffing on the part of the Brazilian government.   One thing is for certain: past history shows that nothing will happen automatically, and enormous willpower on the government’s part is required if the problem is to seriously be addressed.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 25th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Latin Nations of the Western Hemisphere try to unite and discard the old world and the US and Canada infringement on what they see as their territory. It all started with the ALBA group. The US might try now to mend its ways with Cuba, but the UK is out for confrontation because of Antarctic oil. The US will have to take position when this issue reaches the Security Council. What if Argentina offers China rights to drill in the same areas that they consider part of their territorial waters?


We keep saying – the US will find it difficult to continue with wars in Asia if its backyard “south of the border” gets shaken up.

* * *

From: AS/COA Online <weeklyroundup@as-coa.org>
Date: Wed, Feb 24, 2010
Subject: Weekly Roundup: Latin America’s New Bloc.
* * *
Americas Society/Council of the Americas ascoa.online@as-coa.org
www.as-coa.org
AS/COA Online Weekly Roundup
Argentina brings its dispute over drilling in the Falklands to the UN, Brazil and Mexico move on FTA, and Mayans celebrate 5126. Read these stories and more in the Weekly Roundup.

Stories this week:

This week on AS/COA Online:

Rio Group Pitches New Latin American Body
Leaders at a Rio Group summit proposed a new regional bloc that would exclude the United States and Canada.

——

Haiti and the Dominican Republic Mend Fences
The Dominican Republic rallied to help neighboring Haiti after last month’s devastating earthquake. But Dominican concerns over refugees crossing the border could strain relations.

Americas Society and
Council of the Americas:


The Weekly Roundup summarizes editorials, blogs, and analysis for an overview of news about the Americas.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 7th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

At The Foreign Policy Association, New York, Wednesday, January 13, 2010, in the Grupo Santander building Auditorium, there was a meeting with Dr. Julia E. Sweig who wrote the book: “CUBA: WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW.”

Julia Sweig is Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin American Studies & Director for Latin American Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

She has authored several reports on Latin America and American Foreign Policy. Her book “Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground” of 2002 received an award for the best book of the year by an independent scholar from the American Historical Association.

The meeting was chaired by Ambassador Viktor Polgar, Consul General of Hungary in New York City.

Dr. Sweig started out by saying that she was part of the US culture relating to Latin America – that educated in Spanish language also lots of Cuban students  and studies about Cuba but nothing in Portuguese or Brazil, implying that in the US Cuba got much too thigh attention then it deserved – and Brazil much less attention then it deserved. But even so, in effect Cuba was in a dormant state so far as US direct involvement, until the switch from Fidel to Raoul.

The discussion with Cuba was always difficult. Cuba was focusing on history while the US was looking to the future.

2006 – 2007 changes start in Havana and the Miami Cubans find this important – then 2007-2008 Raoul begins to look at domestic issues in Cuba and starts to talk of dirty laundry of the regime. On February 2008 he takes office in a 34 minutes speech – a novelty to who was used to the unending Fidel rhetoric. He skips the gov’t talk to improve the life and says that inefficiency will be removed. He eliminates control of Cubans travel abroad. There seems to be a new government, new people, new ways of doing things – and expectations started to be high. With the changes in the US – President Obama suggested in april 2009 to open a new chapter.

——-

In Miami, the last decade the Cuban Americans shift from the call for embargo to a people-to-people family oriented approach. This in South Florida more then in New Jersey. Miami is now for the first time ahead of Washington asking for change.

Since 2001 there were exchanges with Cuba, but then they were stopped by the Bush Administration – including the remittances. Then came the war on Iraq and the notion of regime change that ruffled Cuba. All what started before Bush years was now suspicious

President Lula and Spanish PM Zapatero are pushing Washington for change in regard to Cuba. Indeed, in Trinidad the US allowed the return of Cuba to the OAS, and in Congress there is now a bill to remove travel restrictions and to take Cuba of the terrorism lists.

Clearly, the US is not the final decider in Cuba – but it has a role to play in Cuba changing.

Former Congressman John Brandemas said that President Bush restricted Microsoft and Google in regards to Cuba, as Cuba also reacted with restrictions. In effect the same day as this meeting at the FPA, the New York Times had an article about a communications contractor who was arested in Cuba, Alan P. Gross, who was working with local groups to make sure they are capable of using internet communication.

Questions abunded about how long will it take to get to “YES WE CAN.” It was pointed out that $9,000 gets a Congressman’s vote and this is a reason for the bottleneck. The Cuban Americans still hold the game, even though they would like to see change.

The facts are that after the US and Canada, Cuba is third on medical issues in the hemisphere. Cuba helped Chavez consolidate his power and they like him to take out oxygen of Latin America.

—————

Further, let us recommens CUBA – La Isla Grande, Edited by Martino Fagiuoli, a 2007, Fall River Press, New York, printed in China, an album about Cuba with photos taken in the 1990s. The country seems to be ready to stick it out until the US changes its attitude towards the island.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

US Oil Imports From Western Hemisphere Countries To The US Are Dropping:

Mexico Petroleum Supply, Exports to U.S. and Net Exports. Source: EIA. Chart by Chris Nelder.

= = = =

Venezuela Petroleum Supply, Exports to U.S. and Net Exports. Source: EIA. Chart by Chris Nelder.

= = = =

Combined Annual Net Oil Exports From Canada, Mexico and Venezuela. Source: Jeffrey J. Brown, Samuel Foucher, PhD, Jorge Silveus.

= = = =

The Oil Export Crisis Has Unofficially Arrived.
By Chris Nelder | Friday, February 5th, 2010

Last March, his study of the effect of peak oil on U.S. imports had
brought Mexico to the forefront. “As our #3 source of imports, the
crashing of its supergiant Cantarell field had put the future of our
oil supply in serious jeopardy.”

The possibility that Mexico’s oil and gas exports to the U.S. could go
to zero within seven years looked very real.

As I explained in that piece, rising domestic consumption coupled with
declining supply puts an ever-tightening squeeze on imports. I have
found no evidence that policymakers are paying any attention to this
critically important dynamic, but it is the very point of the peak oil
spear.

Were it not for the market meltdown and recession, it would have
pierced our vital organs. Instead we felt a pinprick. Hardly anybody
realized what it really was, and most ran off on a wild goose chase
for evil oil speculators.

Now Venezuela has appeared on my radar for similar reasons… only
this time, we’re really going to feel it.

Let’s begin with a review of Mexico’s exports.

Mexico:

Shortly after publishing that article, I casually remarked to my
friend and fellow energy analyst Gregor Macdonald that Cantarell’s
production could fall to under 0.5 million barrels per day (mbpd) by
the end of the year.

I arrived at this somewhat startling conclusion by calculating the
effect of its decline rate — 38% at the time and accelerating — on
production of 0.77 mbpd in January, down precipitously from its 2.1
mbpd peak in 2003.

Gregor’s recent data sleuthing on Cantarell found its production in
December 2009 was 0.527688 mbpd, just a hair above my estimate.

To update the data on Mexico, it’s now our #2 source of imported
petroleum because Saudi Arabia has fallen from #2 to #4.

As of November 2009 (the latest data available) the U.S. imported 1.08
mbpd of crude and finished petroleum products from Mexico. Its exports
to the U.S. peaked at 1.46 mbpd in 2004, the same year as its
production peaked. Net exports (production minus consumption) fell to
1.06 mbpd in 2008.

For the years 2005-2008, Mexico’s exports to the U.S. declined by 0.51
barrels per day. In 2010, supply is expected to fall to 2.5 mbpd —
nearly half a million barrels per day less than 2009.

Mexico nationalized its petroleum operations in 1938 in a
constitutional amendment and handed over total control to the state
oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), with predictable results.

Oil now provides more than 40% of the country’s revenues, which have
been used to pay for a vast array of public services and line the
pockets of the oligarchy while starving investment in both upstream
activities (new oil supply) and downstream (finished products).

Consequently, Mexico’s oil reserves have decreased by more than 75% in
two decades (owing partly to the correction of a previous,
ridiculously inflated figure), production has begun to decline and
exports are falling fast.

It now imports $4.5 billion a year worth of gasoline, $10 billion a
year in petrochemicals, and 25% of its natural gas, mostly from the
U.S. This despite having nearly 13 billion barrels of proven oil
reserves and more than 50 billion barrels of (unproven) reserve
potential.

Mexico would be in a far better position, were it not for its hostile
stance on foreign participation. PEMEX simply lacks the technical
ability to develop its more difficult, remaining resources —
particularly deep water.

Venezuela:

As of November, the U.S. was importing 0.9 mbpd from Venezuela, making
it our #3 source. Its exports to the U.S. peaked at 1.8 mbpd in 1997,
the same year as its production peaked. Net exports (production minus
consumption) have fallen 38% from the 1997 peak of 3.1 mbpd to 1.9
mbpd in 2008.

Venezuela’s oil exports to the U.S. have been declining markedly since
2004, after a long period of relative stability. From 2004 through
2009, Venezuelan petroleum exports fell 0.7 mbpd.

Like Mexico, Venezuela is endowed with enormous energy resources and
could be producing at a far higher level. Estimates of its oil
reserves range from 153 billion barrels of certified proven; to 513
billion barrels technically recoverable in the USGS’ January estimate;
to 1.5 trillion barrels in offshore potential, if you believe the
effervescent Dr. Marcio Mello of Brazil.

Most of it is heavy oil, a low-grade which must be upgraded to synthetic crude.

And like Mexico, President Hugo Chavez has exiled the Western oil
companies who might have made the investment to bring those resources
to market.

A Nation in Free Fall

The good times rolled for Chavez in the first years after his election
in 1998. His socialist programs to rebuild the country and raise its
standard of living were popular but expensive, and soon began to fail
under the crush of declining energy supply.

Oil revenues make up 90% of Venezuela’s foreign earnings, so its
dependence on oil exports is extreme.

Billions of dollars in profits from the national oil company,
Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) were diverted to welfare programs
and into the pockets of oligarchs, while investment in future
petroleum and power supply languished.

The precipitous drop in oil prices since mid-2008 only compounded the
revenue shortfall.

Oil production has fallen 25% since Chavez was elected, and a long,
devastating drought has cut into its hydropower supply, of which 73%
comes from the massive Guri Dam.

Chavez responded by nationalizing most of its petroleum operations and
its grid in 2007.

In 2009, another 76 oil services companies on the Maracaibo Lake were
taken over. The projects now sit abandoned, waiting for PDVSA to
compensate the displaced operators and put them back into operation.

Almost half a million hectares of land were seized in 2009 with the
rationalization that it was underused.

Measures to counter the declining hydro supply have been implemented
in a haphazard fashion, resulting in frequent, unscheduled blackouts,
including seven national blackouts since 2007. Malls and government
offices have had their hours of operation cut and water rationing has
been imposed.

“Some people sing in the bath for half an hour,” Chávez cried at a
cabinet session in October. “What kind of communism is that? Three
minutes is more than enough!”

In January, a wave of public protest erupted, prompting Chavez to
implement a rapid series of desperate measures.

Rolling blackouts were imposed in the capital city of Caracas. After a
few days of protests, Chavez lifted the blackouts and fired the
electricity minister. Blackouts are expected to be reinstated in an
effort to keep hydro reservoir levels from falling to the point of
collapse.
A recent report gave the power shortage a paradoxical twist,
indicating that power from one of the state refineries may have to be
diverted to the grid, cutting distillate output by 200,000 barrels per
day — or more. This will result in less heating oil for China, who
will make up the loss by burning more coal.
Chavez devalued Venezuela’s bolivar currency by half; the president
went on to nationalize a chain of French-owned supermarkets over
alleged price gouging.
He ordered cutbacks in the operation of state-run steel and aluminum
manufacturing operations, which account for up to 20% of the country’s
power demand.
This week he turned to Cuba for help on how to cope with the power
shortage, since Cuba has been through similar problems. The island
nation is providing tens of thousands of energy-efficient lightbulbs
and cloud-seeding technology to Venezuela.
Last weekend, he forced six television channels off the air for
failing to broadcast one of his speeches — up to six hours in length —
in a continuation of his campaign for “communicational hegemony.”
Since December, all radio and television networks are required by law
to broadcast his speeches live, whenever he chooses to make one.
Nationwide student marches have been met by troops armed with rubber
bullets, and at least two deaths have been recorded.
Chavez has said he’s prepared to take “radical measures” should the
situation worsen, begging the unsettling question of what could be
more radical than what he has already done.

Looking East, Not North

Now Chavez is turning east for help in developing his nation’s oil and
gas resources. Recent agreements include a $20 billion joint venture
with Russia to develop the Junin 6 field in the Orinoco oil belt, with
a potential top production rate of 450,000 barrels per day.

China has agreed to build a refinery and develop the Orinoco heavy oil
fields, and Venezuela has guaranteed 560,000 barrels per day to China
this year.

Venezuela has launched its first major auction for drilling rights in
more than a decade, for access to areas east of the existing
operations in the Orinoco. Developing the leases will be expensive
because of their distance from the existing infrastructure, and
winning bidders are expected to make offers in the $10 billion-plus
range including early payments of at least $1 billion, financing
plans, and commitments to build the necessary roads, pipelines, ports,
and upgraders. Potential bidders include Spain’s Repsol, Japan’s
Mitsubishi, the UK’s BP, and Chevron.

Given the sheer size of its resources, it’s too soon to declare the
end of Venezuela’s glory days in the oil patch. However, it does seem
likely that the new barrels it brings to market will be headed east —
not north — and Western producers will have very little stake in the
projects.


Chavez will put exports to the U.S. on a short path to zero the first
chance he gets.

—————–

Oh Imports, Where Art Thou?

The combined decline in imports from Mexico and Venezuela for 2005
through 2008 is 0.89 mbpd. If the trend continues in 2009, then over 1
mbpd will have disappeared from the U.S. import stream in the last
five years — a decline of 8% from 2004 levels.

Since 2007, the loss of production from Cantarell alone was 0.7 mbpd,
but the recession cut U.S. demand by 2 mbpd, effectively masking the
decline. This raises the question: If U.S. demand rises from here,
where will those barrels come from… and how much will they cost?

The U.S. is not only in first place worldwide in its demand for oil,
but in paying the market rate for it. Nobody else buys 8.5 mbpd of
crude at retail.

Drivers in Venezuela are still filling up for 25 cents a gallon, even
as their exports decline.

Mexico’s gasoline prices are more on par with the U.S., but its
consumption has been rising steadily since 1997 and continues to cut
into exports.

Saudi Arabia’s domestic consumption is currently growing at the rate
of 7% per year, following a trend of more than three decades. It uses
a whopping 1.5 mbpd — 1.8% of total world oil supply! — to desalinate
water, at the equivalent of 7 cents a gallon.

Before the OPEC cuts of 2009, its exports to the U.S. had essentially
flatlined at 1.5 mbpd since 2004.

Exports from our #5 source, Nigeria, have also declined — from 1.17
mbpd in 2005 to 0.98 mbpd in 2008.

In fact, of the top five oil exporting countries to the U.S.,
representing 63% of our crude imports, only Canada posted an increase
(of 0.2 mbpd).

The combined annual net oil exports from our top three exporting
countries — Canada, Mexico and Venezuela — illustrate our situation:

Given the very modest increases from unconventional domestic production and Canada, the decline of imports from Mexico and Venezuela means the U.S. will be increasingly forced to depend on suppliers farther afield — the very same suppliers that China has been buying into in size. The “collision course with China” that I wrote about in July 2005 has nearly reached the point of impact.

It also means that when oil prices rise again, the pain will be far greater for the U.S. than it is for our top suppliers. Next time, the spear of declining oil exports will puncture a lung.

The oil export crisis has arrived… We just haven’t felt it yet.

Production, consumption, and export data herein is the latest available from the EIA.

Until next time,
Chris

Thanks to the following individuals for their contributions to this
article: Venezuelan oil expert Carlos Rossi for sharing excerpts from
his forthcoming book, The Completion of the Oil Era: The Economic
Impact; Gregor Macdonald for sharing his data on Cantarell; and
Jeffrey Brown and Samuel Foucher, for their work on net exports data
and the Export Land Model.

Investor’s Note: While declining oil imports from Mexico and Venezuela
paint a nightmare scenario for meeting future U.S. demand, all hope
isn’t lost… In fact, one U.S. oil play is developing at a breakneck
pace. You’re likely aware of the Bakken oil formation. But you may not
realize fully how the Bakken has single-handedly thrust North Dakota
into the international investment spotlight.

Of course, members of the $20 Trillion Report know how profitable the
Bakken oil formation is. So far, they’ve raked in gains of 305%, 249%
and 130%! We want you to share in their success.

—————————-

Our reaction to the above goes in two directions:

To every straights there is also the possibility for an answer that provides for new opportunities. in this case:

(1) it becomes even clearer that the US has here an opportunity to make policy accommodations with its neighbors to the south.

(2) the US does not have to – and will not – continue its dependence on oil alone as its source for energy. The US can go for novel and mostly renewable sources of energy, then the Saudis might also discover sun and wind as good replacement for this insanity of using 25% of their oil to provide their water needs. Whatever – energy independence – or at least oil imports reduction for the US – is not an excuse for  a “drill baby drill” US energy policy. Actually, put a carbon tax on the use of oil in the US as a good way to tell the world that the US is capable to detoxify from its addiction to oil imports.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

“Full-body scanners on display at Reagan National Airport: Many experts say the full-body scanners would have detected the explosives carried aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day, but the
machines have also raised privacy concerns over the detailed body image that is displayed as part of the screening.”

TSA – Transportation and Security Administration – tries to assuage privacy concerns about full-body scans.

By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 4, 2010
It has come to this.

Already shoeless, beltless and waterless, more beleaguered air passengers will be holding their legs apart, raising their arms and effectively baring it all as they pass through U.S. airport security
checkpoints.

Add the “full-body scan” to the list of indignities that some travelers are confronting in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, era of vigilance.

Federal authorities, working to close security gaps exposed by the thwarted Christmas Day terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, are multiplying the number of imaging machines at the nation’s biggest
airports. The devices scan passengers’ bodies and produce X-ray-like images that can reveal objects concealed beneath clothes…….

– – – – – –

now add the “me-au” from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, ADC Legal Director   nshora at adc.org

Washington, D.C. | January 5, 2010 | www.adc.org |

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is deeply concerned by the new Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) directives, which went into effect on January 4th at midnight.  According to news sources, these directives will require citizens from 14 countries, all Arab or Muslim countries, with the exception of Cuba, to go through enhanced security screening. Such screening can include full pat-downs, scans, delays, and anything associated with secondary screening – an extra search of the passenger’s carry-on luggage may also be required.  News sources also stated that the directives are applicable to any travelers, including US CITIZENS, who have passed through one of these 14 countries, or who have taken flights that have originated from these 14 countries.

ADC is very troubled as such directives will have negative ramifications on Arab-Americans, citizens of the 14 countries, and all Americans who visit these countries. A disparate segment of the Arab-American community will be scrutinized because of these new guidelines. The blanket labeling of hundreds of millions of civilians based solely on their country of citizenship or travel is not only unfairly discriminatory based on national origin, but also improperly labels millions of innocent people as somehow suspect or possible terrorists.

The new directives came following the Christmas Day attempted airline attack that threatened our national security, and which ADC has strongly condemned. Implementing an effective and productive counterterrorism tool is paramount. However, casting a wide net against individuals based on their country of origin, race or religion is not an effective counterterrorism tool. During the past decade, similar racial, ethnic and religious profiling tactics and practices have time and again misdirected precious counterterrorism resources, damaged foreign relations with key allies, fueled the fires of extremists by giving them an excuse, stigmatized communities, and most importantly did not have any discernible impact on security. Based on precedent, these new directives will be no different than these past practices and their adverse consequences; and while such directives may appear to make us feel safer, the reality is that they discriminate against innocent persons and divert attention from real threats.

Resources must instead be focused on high-risk individuals based on proper intelligence, better coordination and communication between different governmental agencies. In addition, continued engagement with the Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian community groups must be strengthened, and must not be discouraged by ethnic profiling tactics.

ADC has been in contact with TSA and the Department Homeland Security (DHS) and is planning to file a complaint and request for additional information with the Department.  ADC urges all travelers affected by these new guidelines to always comply with the Transportation Security Officer’s (TSO’s) request.  In the event of any abuse or misuse of authority, please request the TSO’s name and badge number, and file a complaint with ADC’s Legal Department at  legal at adc.org.

==============

Honestly, I feel the pain of decent members of the ADC, but am appalled at the chutzpah to announce the complaints of that organization without a single word attached saying that as loyal citizens to this country they are ready to organize themselves in units of informers when it comes to transgressions by people from their country of birth, that are endangering the security of the country that gave to the ADC members the privilege of life under a secular democracy.

Yes, I know that the ADC has members that are Muslim, Christian or atheists. I know they have no Jews in ADC, but that is not the issue. The Arab countries, other Asian countries, and the African Arabized countries, on the list of 13, are all Islamic countries – in all of them Christians and Jews face very serious difficulties. Further, I know of good Muslims in the US and overseas, that participate with enlightened Jews in order to build bridges between communities. in Copenhagen I actually participated during the Climate conference at a pilgrimage that took us to places of worship that were Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim (that last meeting was held in the rooms of a Danish humanist society) – in this time sequence. Yes – good relationships are possible, but that will happen only when, and if, there is a clear understanding, and voiced recognition, that Islamic terrorism originates with Muslim individuals, and that in order to safeguard ourselves, profiling in search of instruments of terror is not a dirty word, but a means of self defense.

Also, in order to avoid needless friction, I suggest that the ADC moves front and center in the global effort to disengage from the addiction to oil.

And one more item – this website does speak up for Cuba as they surely are not part of the group of countries responsible for Islamicists performing acts of terror. So, they do not belong on that list of 14.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

As we wrote about Copenhagen, ALBA crystallized there as the clearest US opposing group of countries in the international arena. ALBA is led by four Latin American and two Caribbean Islands Heads of State. As expressed by Presidents Morales of Bolivia and Chavez of Venezuela, the Obama intervention on that final Friday the 18th was clearly not a UN consensus building move. Obama did not play democracy to non-Democratic States, but then there was something in his behavior that could also be likened to the battleship diplomacy of old empire building colonialism – you find your allies and you set the rules of the game for others to follow. We said it many times that we agreed with Obama’s moves, but we also had an ear to the Morales and Chavez statements, and we believe that the ALBA attack will continue until the day the US is ready to sit down with the individual countries of that group and effectively co-opt them into a new Western Hemisphere alliance that pays respect also to countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. In effect we believe that these countries do have also helpful ideas and not just the rhetoric for which they are famous. Further, Nicaragua and Honduras used to belong to this group and Brazil is also close to its leaders.

OK, so how is this related to our 2009/2010 New Year’s Eve celebration in New York City?

This story starts with my having picked up a Financial Times on the flight back from Copenhagen and in the Guide – Arts around the World section I saw mentioned – “New York – Noche Flamenca” and it said that from Christmas Eve until January 16, Noche Flamenca will be performed at the Lucille Lortel Theater in Greenwich Village and that judging by the reviews the company, with its stars dancers Ms. Soledad Barrio and Juan Ogalla, the star singer Manuel Gago and guitarist Eugenio Iglesias are the most authentic flamenco touring company.

Further, already with the above in mind, I saw the December 26th Alaistair Macaulay Dance Review in the New York Times “Drama Whose Subject Is Both Nothing and Everything.” He writes – “Ms. Barrio’s intensity is striking, even when she’s standing still or walking slowly around the stage… she seemed to be brooding on the darkest spiritual concerns … the attention of her face and upper body riveted on the floor. She might have been mourning the death of a child or contemplating the augury that announced the overthrow of her nation… Her face tends to be wonderfully bleak.”

I decided that I want to experience this Latin intensity, but then the clincher came when I read that the program includes a piece called “ALBA” choreographed by Ms. Marrio’s husband and partner in Noche Flamenca, Mr Martin Santangelo. Alba is about “some extremely unspecific aspect of the Spanish Civil War.” I sensed that I may find here some explanation to the Hugo Chavez anger and his ALBA.

Every other year me and my wife, we use to travel somewhere for the Christmas – New Year time span, as in her work she alternates with another person in her office, who will take of during those days. This year was actually her time to go away, but she chose to spend her vacation in New York and the difficulties with transport and flights were an important part of this decision. So I had to decide where we will be part of a community when slipping into twenty-ten. Going to see Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca was thus our decision – I had the further goal also to get some understanding about ALBA.

Having decided on the show, I went down to the Theater at 121 Christopher Street in the Village, and looked at the neighborhood restaurants and settled fortunately for HAVANA – ALMA DE CUBA at 94 Christopher Street, that promised excellent mojitos, great food, a bottle of CAVA Champagne, New Year eve paraphernalia, Cuban music and cigars. And that is important – Cuba is the first ALBA!

Looking now more closely at Noche Flamenca, which obviously has its home in Spain, I found that they see flamenco as a form of art that is based on song (cante), music (toque), and dance born of “ancestral cultural repression and racial expulsion.” and that 2009-2010 they launch an arts education program in New York City public schools that embodies the three flamenco disciplines: dance, guitar, and song. Their target are the culturally diverse communities of New York City, and they have already lined up a very impressive list of backers to this experiment.

Andalucia in southern Spain absorbed throughout the centuries Romans, Jews and Moors. As far as flamenco is concerned, the most significant arrival was in the 15th century when tribes of nomadic Gypsies settled her. Their arrival coincided with Ferdinand and Isabella’s conquest of Granada, the last bastion of the Moors, and the subsequent expulsion of Jews and Arabs, from Spain – the Jews were massacred, the Gypsies humiliated and persecuted, the Arabs exterminated, the Moriscos (converted Arabs) expelled, and the Andalucians generally exploited – if we do not relate the music to brutality, repression, hunger, fear, menace, inferiority, resistance, and secrecy, then we shall not find the reality of cante flamenco – it is a storm of exasperation and grief. This is the background of the evolution of flamenco as per historian Felix Grande’s review of the 15th-17th centuries.

In the 19th century there were two types of singing in Andalucia – the cante gitano and the cante andaluz, then an Andaluz of Italian orifin, Silverio Franconetti, at first a singer of cante gitano, proceeded in combining the two shaping what became the cante flamenco.

The “deep song” or the cante jondo, resembles the mournful wail of the chant of the exiled Sephardic Jews and its poetry is that of existential angst and philosophical questioning common in Arabic poetry. The dance that evolved and fully blossomed by 1840s combines the repetitive key symbol prevalent in Islam, the trance-inducing rhythms of Africa and the stubborn search of Jewish music as mentioned above.

With the above in mind, let us see now what the Noche Flamenca say about their creation called ALBA:

Choreographer Martin Santangelo says that the piece was inspired by the archives of The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. Now let us remember that the Spanish Civil War 1936 – 1939 was the training ground for what became WWII.

45,000 people from over 50 different countries, ignoring their own governments’ failure to respond to the threats of fascism, volunteered to support democratic Spain. The US volunteers came to be known as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, but Franco, backed by Hitler and Mussolini defeated the democrats – eventually fascism was defeated by 1945 but Franco was left to rule over Spain.

The program notes that many of the Abraham Lincoln Brigaders that survived remained lifelong activists and have continued to support progressive causes, including the Civil Rights Movement in the US and protests against the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. Spain of today feels a profound gratitude for these heroic individuals.

The song used by the choreographer in setting ALBA is a poem by Miguel Hernandez To the International Soldier Fallen in Spain:

If there are men who contain a soul without frontiers
a brow scattered with universal hair
covered with horizons, ships, and mountain chains,
with sand and snow, then you are one of those.

Fatherlands called to you with all their banners,
so that your breath filled with beautiful movements.
You wanted to quench the thirst of panthers
and fluttered full against their abuses.

With a taste of suns and seas,
Spain beckons you because in her you realize
your majesty like a tree that embraces a continent.

Around your bones, the olive groves will grow,
unfolding their iron roots in the ground,
embracing men universally, faithfully.

What the choreographer Martin Santangelo tried to convey with the members of his troupe – all male – singers, guitarists and dancers, and a bunch of walking sticks as props, was sort of a Greek corus telling about the travel of those that came from afar and the fact that their spirits were not broken. They did not give up even when beaten and continued a life of walking and fighting.

That is what I saw in that piece and I wonder how dance reviewer Alastair Macaulay saw nothing of this with his own eyes. All what he says is that it “is about some extremely unspecific aspect of the Spanish Civil War. Flamenco isn’t enriched by tackling any one particular drama; it’s diminished.” Then he adds later – “No. ‘Alba’ is not a disaster; it’s just nebulous, unclear, earnest. Obviously, though, it’s small fry compared with the greater meat of the evening.”

Sorry Mr. Macaulay, you did not understand the sonnet or you did not read it. You also did not notice those walking sticks or just did not ask yourself why walking sticks? You may think that art is only technique, but some of your readers are also capable of relating to content and to this readership the Spanish Civil War has meaning beyond plain dance. Granted that you are a dance critic and not a political pages reporter, nevertheless, you just saw an honest attempt, as you say yourself, of tackling content, so you should have given the credit these artists deserve for trying to use their art form in order to inspire the public of their theater in ways that are no different from what they will be attempting to do in our public schools with children that can be helped by art to become better citizens. In the ALBA case, I feel that understanding the Lincoln brigade volunteers could actually help in formulating opinions about issues of these days when we continue to see injustice in the world and dictators encroaching upon democracy and human rights. Yes, I am aware that there was also a Stalin involvement in Spain, and I read “The God That Failed” but all of that is secondary to my disagreement with this part of your review – the issue is really the meaning and purpose of art – I believe that there can be a purpose and you clearly disagree.

Further, in the second half of the program there was a second topical choreography by Martin Santongelo titled “Refugiados” that included the whole company. It was inspired by literature and poetry of refugee children from Somalia and Zimbabwe identified by UN agencies and receiving emergency assistance. You did not mention this piece and I wonder if your choice for criticism was rather dependent on content as this latter piece may be dealing with a subject that is less open for criticism – you do not kick children but politics are made for kicking. Sorry, and please forgive if I am here on the wrong track.

But then back to our declared real interest in Noche Flamenca as said was the title ALBA of that particular dance about the Spanish Civil War – why was it called ALBA?

Aha – I found!

Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives
A non-profit organization devoted to the preservation and dissemination of the history of the North American role in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).
 www.alba-valb.org

So ALBA means ABRAHAM LINCOLN BRIGADE ARCHIVES and ALBA is the name of the group of countries in Latin America that have a bone with the US of America.

Could one say that Hugo Chavez sees himself as a continuation of the progressive Americans that went to Spain to fight fascism? This is an intriguing idea! Is it not?

But then there is also a second meaning for ALBA

Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas – Wikipedia, the free … – 12/19/09
The meeting in congress for the removal of Honduras from the ALBA is still … ” ALBA pasa a ser Alianza Bolivariana de los Pueblos de América” (in es). …
 en.wikipedia.org

So here we talk of Alianza Bolivariana or in short ALBA – this based on the Spanish form of the Bolivarian Alliance.

and even –

ALBA: Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean …
Teresa ArreazaA summary of the basic ideas behind Venezuela’s alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
 www.venezuelanalysis.com › Documents

So, let us attach here what we gleaned from the web about the group of ALBA:


The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (Spanish: Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América, or ALBA) is an international cooperation organization based on the idea of social, political, and economic integration between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. It is associated with socialist andsocial democratic governments and is an attempt at regional economic integration based on a vision of social welfare, bartering and mutual economic aid, rather than trade liberalization as with free trade agreements. ALBA nations are in the process of introducing a new regional currency, the SUCRE. It is intended to be the common virtual currency by 2010 and eventually a hard currency.
The name initially contained “Alternative” instead of “Alliance”, but was changed on June 24, 2009. ALBA also means “dawn” in Spanish.

Member states

Common name
?
Official name Date joined
?
Population
?
Area (km²)
?
GDP PPP (US$ bn)
?
Capital
?
Antigua and Barbuda Antigua and Barbuda 24 June 2009 85,632 442 1.546 St. John’s
Bolivia Plurinational State of Bolivia 29 April 2006 9,119,152 1,098,581 43.424 Sucre
Cuba Republic of Cuba 14 December 2004 11,451,652 110,861 108.2 Havana
Dominica Commonwealth of Dominica 20 January 2008 72,660 754 .72 Roseau
Ecuador Republic of Ecuador 24 June 2009 14,573,101 256,370 106.993 Quito
Honduras Republic of Honduras 9 October 2008 7,483,763 112,492 32.725 Tegucigalpa
Nicaragua Republic of Nicaragua 23 February 2007 5,891,199 129,495 15.89 Managua
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 24 June 2009 120,000 389 1.085 Kingstown
Venezuela Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela 14 December 2004 28,199,825 916,445 358.623
ALBA Totals 9 Countries 73,453,238 2,625,829 669.206
Observer states of the organisation include Haiti, Iran and Uruguay
—————————–

main page

November 27, 2008
08:30

NEWS

CARACAS.Dmitry Medvedev took part in a meeting of the leaders of the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America.

The organisation was set up at the end of 2004 on the initiative of Cuba and Venezuela. This association also includes Bolivia, Honduras, Dominica and Nicaragua; Haiti, Iran, Uruguay and Ecuador are among its observers.

During the meeting Mr Medvedev raised the question of developing cooperation between Russia and Latin American countries.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, President Evo Morales of Bolivia, President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit, and Vice President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba Ricardo Cabrisas took part in the meeting.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

This amazing article was penned by Fidel Castro himself, then later we watched how Presidents Morales of Bolivia and Chavez of Venezuela spoke in the Copenhagen plenary similar words to these, in the name of the ALBA group of Latin and Caribbean States, on that very important Friday-the eighteenth.

Today, when finally writing about this, I also wonder if besides Simon Bolivar and Jose Marti, Chavez is not ready to accept also Abraham Lincoln as a third member of a historic triumvirate intended to set the Western Hemisphere apart from global machinations, provided President Obama does indeed stretch out a friendly hand to Cuba? I believe that this is within the realm of possibilities, and perhaps the easiest way for the US to free itself of the tyranny of oil and the influence of the oil lobby of Washington. I believe that our times start looking more and more like the pre-WWII days. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade that went to Spain had among its people some of the best the US had to offer. They were not stupid and recognized the Stalinist stealth-riders, as well as the fascist opponents, and remained true to democracy ideals that brought them there. Climate change provides the world the same opportunity as fighting for democracy did in those years. If Obama is ready to rein in the US extremists when it comes to economic relations with the countries of the Southern part of the Western Hemisphere, new line-ups are possible based on new agreed common goals of helping in the sustainable development of these countries, rather then continuing to regard them only as source of raw materials. Had the US done so earlier the world might have been a friendlier place to America – at least in that part that fell into the geopolitical Western Hemisphere Monrovian design.

Clearly, Castro and Chavez will criticize the US when being held at bay by the stick of US corporations, but when approached as partners for change they might actually be ready for political compromise. The reality is that even though they do not apply democracy to their States, the did eradicate analphabetism, hunger, and established health care systems, ahead of the US. Venezuela can help fund such positive activities thanks to its income from oil, but they seem ready to help fund also other positive activities if offered a place at the American table. The way they show pride in their baseball culture that derived from the US via Cuba, shows to me that I am not dreaming about pie in the sky.

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 monthlyreview.org/castro/2009/10/…

Reflections of Fidel: The ALBA and Copenhagen.

The festivities associated with the 7th ALBA Summit, held in the historic Bolivian region of Cochabamba, showed the rich culture of the Latin American peoples and the joy elicited in children, young people and adults in general by the singing, the dancing, the costumes and rich expressions of the human beings of all ethnic groups, colors and shades: aborigine, black, white and mixed people. We could see there thousands of years of human history and precious culture that explain the determination with which the leaders of various Caribbean, Central and South American peoples convened that summit.

The meeting was a great success. Bolivia was the venue. I recently wrote on the excellent prospects of that country, an heir to the Aymara-Quechua culture. A small group of peoples from that area are bent on proving that a better world is possible. The ALBA – created by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Cuba, inspired by Bolivar’s and Marti’s ideas, as an unprecedented example of revolutionary solidarity- has showed how much could be done in barely five years of peaceful cooperation. This started shortly after Hugo Chavez’s political and democratic victory. Imperialism underestimated him, and deliberately tried to oust him and remove him. The fact that for a good part of the 20th century Venezuela had been the world’s largest oil-producer, practically owned by the Yankee transnationals, made the chosen path particularly rough to pursue.

The powerful adversary had neoliberalism and the FTAA [Free Trade Area of the Americas]; two instruments of domination always used after the Cuban Revolution to crush resistance in the hemisphere.

It is irritating to think of the shameless and disrespectful way in which the US administration imposed the government of millionaire Pedro Carmona and tried to have elected President Hugo Chavez removed, at a time when the USSR had disappeared and the People’s Republic of China was a few years away from becoming the economic and commercial power it is today, after two decades of over 10 percent growth. The Venezuelan people, like that of Cuba, resisted the brutal thrust. The Sandinistas recovered, and the struggle for sovereignty, independence and socialism gained ground in Bolivia and Ecuador. Honduras, which had joined the ALBA, was the target of a brutal coup d’etat inspired by the Yankee ambassador and propelled from the US military base in Palmerola.

Today, there are four Latin American countries that have completely eradicated illiteracy: Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua. A fifth country, Ecuador, is quickly advancing towards that goal. The comprehensive healthcare programs are underway in the five countries at an unprecedented pace in the Third World. The programs of economic development with social justice have become projects of these five states, which already enjoy great prestige in the world for their brave position in the face of the empire’s economic, military and media power. Three English speaking Caribbean countries of black ancestry, determined to fight for their development, have also joined the ALBA.

This alone would be a great political merit if in today’s world that were the only big problem of man’s history.

The economic and political system that in a short historical period has led to the existence of more than one billion hungry people, and many more hundreds of millions whose lives are hardly longer than half the average of those in the wealthy and privileged countries, was until now the main problem for mankind. But, a new and extremely serious problem was strongly discussed at the ALBA Summit: climate change. A danger of such magnitude had never been known in human history.

As Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and Daniel Ortega waved the people goodbye in the streets of Cochabamba yesterday, Sunday, that same day, according to news spread by BBC World, Gordon Brown was chairing in London a session of the Major Economies Forum mostly made up by the highest developed capitalist countries, the main culprits for the carbon dioxide emissions, that is, the gas causing the greenhouse effect.

The significance of Brown’s remarks is that they have not been made by a representative of ALBA or one of the 150 emerging or underdeveloped countries on the planet but of Great Britain, the country where industrial development started and one of those which have released most carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The British Prime Minister warned that if an agreement is not reached at the UN Summit in Copenhagen, the consequences will be ‘devastating.’

Some of the ‘catastrophic’ consequences would be floods, droughts and lethal heat waves claimed the environmental group Nature World Fund referring to Brown’s assertion. “The climate change will be out of control within the next five to ten years if the CO2 emissions are not drastically cut down. There will not be a plan B if Copenhagen fails.”

The same news source claims that: “BBC specialist James Landale has explained that not everything is happening as expected.”

Newsweek reported that “it seems more unlikely every day that the states will commit to something in Copenhagen.”

According to reports from the major American press outlet, the chairman of the session, Gordon Brown, said that “if no agreement is reached, there is no doubt that the damage of the uncontrolled emissions will not be repaired with a future agreement.” He then went on to mention such conflicts as “unchecked migration and 1.8 billion people afflicted by water shortage.”

Actually, as the Cuban delegation claimed in Bangkok, the United States led the highest industrialized countries most opposed to the necessary reduction of emissions.

At the Cochabamba meeting, a new ALBA Summit was convened. The timetable will be: December 6, elections in Bolivia; December 13, ALBA summit in Havana; December 16, participation in the UN Copenhagen Summit. The small group of ALBA nations will be there. The issue is no longer “Homeland or Death”; it is truly and without exaggeration a matter of “Life or Death” for the human race.

The capitalist system is not only oppressing and plundering our countries; the wealthiest industrial nations wish to impose to the rest of the world the bulk of the burden in the struggle on climate change. Who are they trying to fool with that? In Copenhagen, the ALBA and the Third World countries will be struggling for the survival of the species.

Fidel Castro Ruz
October 19, 2009
6:05 PM

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 28th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Our title sounds crazy – we know it – but so were Lula’s embrace,  and the Cuban, Venezuelan, and Malaysian votes at the IAEA. When world leaders tell us that enhancing nuclear will have to be part of the energy mix of the future, they just allow for these phenomena.
IRAN DEFENDS SEIZING NOBEL LAUREATE’S ASSETS
27 November 2009, From The SanFranciscoSentinel.com
BY NAZILA FATHI
The New York Times

Iran on Friday denounced charges by the Norwegian government that it had illegally confiscated a Nobel Peace Prize winner’s medal and frozen her bank account, the IRNA news agency reported. Iran called the action an interference into its internal affairs and said the winner, Shirin Ebadi, owed money to the government in taxes.

“We are surprised that Norwegian officials can make such hasty and biased comments and disregard the laws and regulations of other countries,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, was quoted as saying, adding that Ms. Ebadi, a human rights lawyer, had refused to pay taxes on her prize.

nobel-nov-27
Nobel Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi

Mr. Mehmanparast denied that Ms. Ebadi’s medal, which she won in 2003, had been confiscated, but his comments indicated that her assets had been frozen.

“We do not understand how Norwegian officials are trying to justify people’s negligence to pay tax,” he said.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said Thursday that Iran had confiscated Ms. Ebadi’s Nobel medal and her diploma from a bank box and confiscated her account. It summoned Iran’s chargé d’affaires to protest the confiscation and expressed “grave concern” about the treatment of Ms. Ebadi’s husband, Javad Tavassolian, who it said had been arrested and severely beaten in Tehran.

Iran has demanded about $400,000 in taxes on Ms. Ebadi’s prize money, which amounted to $1.3 million. Ms. Ebadi has said that under Iranian law, there are no taxes on such prizes.

The measure appears to be an effort by the government to pressure Ms. Ebadi, 62, who is an outspoken critic of the government and human rights violations.

She left Iran shortly before the disputed June 12 election won by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which set off the largest protests in the country since the 1979 revolution.

Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a lawyer in Tehran and a founding member of Ms. Ebadi’s human rights group, said Ms. Ebadi’s prize money was used to help prisoners of conscience and their families, according to Agence France-Presse.

“The account has been blocked by the officials and they do not allow withdrawals,” Mr. Dadkhah said. “This is illegal as blocking and confiscation should be the decision of a court where evidence is presented for such an act. It is politicized.”

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