Venezuela Rejects ‘Dangerous’ Resolution by the OAS

The Venezuelan government deemed the resolution a "flagrant violation of international law" and a threat to the "people's right to peace."

Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued an official statement Friday in response to a “dangerous” resolution approved Thursday during an extraordinary session of the Organization of American States (OAS).

IN PICTURES: Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro Takes Office Amid Popular Support

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela condemns the measures of coercion used in our region by the United States regime to promote its criminal aggression campaign against the People and government of Venezuela to further its policy of regime change in our country in flagrant violation of international law,” the communique shared by Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza states.

Thursday’s OAS declaration (sponsored by Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the United States, Peru, and Paraguay) seeks to disavow the legitimacy of President Nicolas Maduro, who was elected for a second term in May 2018. His runner up, Henry Falcon obtained only 21 percent of the vote, partly because a section of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition decided to boycott the elections.  

The Venezuelan government also thanked the countries that refused to sign the declaration, knowing that “this judicial manipulation threatens our people’s right to peace and endangers the stability of Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Despite U.S. pressure, the OAS declaration did not manage to gain new supporters. A fact celebrated by Venezuela.

The statement concluded with a defense of the right of Venezuelan people to self-determination and to elect its national authorities. “Sovereignty resides in the Venezuelan people, the only that can grant legitimacy to the powers of the Venezuelan state.”

Venezuela has long been targeted by the OAS. However, on Thursday the spokesperson for the head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said they “will continue working with the government of Venezuela" and stressed it is not their role to recognize or not recognize elected governments.

 
 
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Iranian warships in US’ backyard? Tehran to deploy navy to western Atlantic – commander

Iran will send warships to the western Atlantic Ocean starting in March, a move likely designed to counter US aircraft carriers stationed in the Persian Gulf.

US Navy handout photo of the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier in the Straits of Hormuz

The ambitious deployment was announced by a top Iranian naval commander on Friday, and comes several weeks after the Pentagon sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf. The decision to send naval forces so far west may be motivated by the Islamic Republic’s desire to counter what it sees as an aggressive US naval presence in its own backyard. The operation will begin in March and is expected to last for several months.

“The Atlantic Ocean is far and the operation of the Iranian naval flotilla might take five months,” Rear-Admiral Touraj Hassani told state media.

He added that Sahand, a newly-built destroyer, would be one of the Iranian warships to take part in the flotilla. The new warship has a flight deck for helicopters and is reportedly equipped with anti-aircraft and anti-ship guns, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles. Tehran claims that the destroyer also boasts electronic warfare capabilities.

Tehran previously insisted that the presence of the US carrier group was “insignificant” and vowed to prevent the US warships from entering Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. Notably, Iran’s deputy army chief for coordination affairs, Habibollah Sayyari, said in December that the US navy was allowed to sail in international waters near the Islamic Republic – just as the Iranian navy could sail in the Atlantic Ocean near the US.

“They do not have the courage or ability to take any measures against us. We have enough capabilities to stand against their actions and we have fully rehearsed for that,” Sayyari stressed.

Also on rt.com Iran says navy prepared to protect oil tankers from ‘any threats’ as US sanctions kick in....

In November, the United States unilaterally re-imposed sanctions on Tehran’s oil, shipping and banking industries. The sanctions had been previously lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, which Washington unilaterally withdrew from in May 2018. Although it’s unclear whether other nations will abide by Washington’s diktats, US officials have predicted that Iranian ships will no longer be welcome in international waters.

Iran’s military has stressed that it is “prepared today as in the past” to protect against “any threats,” and to ensure the safe passage of Iranian oil tankers. Tehran has also repeatedly threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz and halt Persian Gulf oil exports if its own oil exports are blocked. In recent months, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has held naval exercises in the Persian Gulf designed to increase preparedness for “confronting possible threats.”

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The U.S. and the Center American Exodus

The migration of Center Americans, mainly toward the United States has won visibility thanks to the current caravan crossing Mexico, but this is an old phenomenon.

In 2017 the UN agency International Organization for Migration informed that 450 thousand migrants, mainly Central Americans, cross Mexico yearly heading for the United States. This phenomenon boomed in the 80’s of the last century as a consequence of Washington’s massive support to the armies and repressive forces of El Salvador and Guatemala in their bloody war against the liberating movements in those countries which, next to Honduras, were deeply affected. The war originated, mainly in El Salvador, a great flow of refugees, among them thousands of young orphans.

It was not the first, neither the last time when the North American imperialism intervened in Central American countries. Since early in the XX century Washington sent several times marines to impose its wishes in that region of our America. It’s well known the heroic deeds of Agusto Cesar Sandino and his “small crazy army” against the Yankee military intervention early on the XX century in Nicaragua.

Decades later, that country and the Sandinista Liberation Front government would suffer an implacable and bloody aggression by Ronald Reagan’s government. An counterrevolutionary army organized and armed illegally by United States was supplied by air from Honduras in a CIA operation, the Iran-Contras, implemented from there by terrorists of Cuban origin. The airplanes came loaded with weapons from North American territory and returned with drugs to that country. At the same time, that agency created the Death Squads which, causing serious human rights violations, kept in line the Honduran revolutionaries. In 1989, George Bush father ordered the deadly Panama invasion with a total of 3000 killed.

In 2009, from the Military Base of Soto Cano, in Honduras, where the Bravo Task Force of the South Command of the United States, this triggered the coup d’état against president Manuel Zelaya. That action is closely related to the facts that have led to the massive migration of Central Americans. Zelaya entered ALBA and established a flowing cooperation relationship with Venezuela with Chavez in power. He was able to get OAS to lift the exclusion of Cuba in a general assembly of that organization and he was attempting to organize a constituent assembly to transfer to the Honduran people control over their national sovereignty as well as their natural resources. None of this was tolerable for Washington that not only ordered the coup but did everything in its power to consolidate it. Ever since every election in Honduras have been a fraud, including the one that elected the current president Juan Orlando Hernández. Zelaya, allied to the Daniel Ortega's Nicaragua would have been an obstacle for the plans of looting and territorial expansion through mining transnational and the so-called Special Economic Zones.

The sparks of the current and unstoppable migratory movement was the stanch application in Central America of the neoliberal politics designed by the so-called Washington Consent which has become more and more bloody and unsustainable. The people of Latin America and the Caribbean are being subjected to a second conquest and colonization, through transnational companies and the militarization displayed by the United States which includes the presence of military bases in our countries. Satellites governments of the imperialism offer every possibility to transnational companies in their expansion plans of accelerated use of natural resources and overexploitation of the labor force. All of it through the spoiling of lands and waters from indigenous communities, afro descendants and peasants, repressed, when they rebel, not only by the security bodies. Also, frequently, by the so-called organized crime well-paid in return. Also the breaking of productive chains that has led to the deindustrialization and loss of dozens of thousands of jobs.

This neoliberal aggression to the previous ways of capitalist productive organization, dragging unemployment and collapse of the social fabric is the main cause of the growing migration and forced exodus of millions of people toward the United States. The unstoppable peak of criminal organizations and brutal violence against peoples and communities makes it worse. The performance map is superimposed to that of the megaprojects of neoliberalism 3.0.

It’s not in Caracas, it’s in Washington, where for some time now is looming the migratory tragedy of Center America and Mexico.

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Withdraw first, ask later: He nuked Russia-US relations, now Bolton arrives in Moscow to talk

The alleged mastermind behind the US pullout from the historic INF treaty, John Bolton will expect a wintry reception in Moscow, with only the embers of the long-forgotten Helsinki summit to warm the parties.

Washington can be commended at least on laying its cards on the table with Friday’s announcement by Donald Trump that he was considering withdrawing from the Gorbachev-Reagan 1987 agreement, which limits both sides from producing intermediate range missiles.

But the news is likely to cast a pall over Bolton’s two-day visit, during which the National Security Advisor will meet not only his Russian counterpart Nikolay Patrushev, but foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and, on Tuesday, likely Vladimir Putin himself, though the face-to-face has not been given final approval by the Kremlin.

 
Pershing IA missile launcher and RSD-10 Pioneer (SS-20) missile. © Wikimedia Commons / RIA Novosti / Sputnik

 

The foreign ministry has already demanded “to hear a coherent explanation” of Washington’s actions, while various senior Russian officials have called the prospect of withdrawal “blackmail”, “a landmine under the nuclear disarmament process”, and a harbinger of “complete chaos in the sphere of nuclear armaments.”

And this is not one Bolton can blame on his boss. Appointed only in March, Bolton has become arguably the most influential US foreign policy architect, and is a long-time critic of arms control treaties. According to senior staff sources who spoke to the Guardian and the Washington Post last week, he personally persuaded Trump to quit INF. Stateside reports indicate that despite Trump’s customarily hazy pronouncements, Bolton will definitively signal US intentions to leave – a six-month notice is required to leave the indefinite-term agreement - during the Russian visit.

For nearly two decades the two states have taken turns claiming the other is violating the treaty, which bars both of them from producing all land-based ballistic and cruise missiles – not just nuclear-tipped ones – with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km. The Pentagon – citing its classified intelligence –claims that Russia has developed an intermediate range missile for the Iskander-M launcher, the existence of which Moscow has never acknowledged. In turn, Russia insists that the launchers that form the US missile defense shield in eastern Europe are themselves capable of firing intermediate range missiles, and should be destroyed under the terms of the agreement.

But the likelihood is, even if Moscow somehow assures Bolton that it is perfectly compliant, Washington is not interested. INF was signed in a two-bloc world that was ending an arms race but, in the intervening years, other world powers have sprung up and developed their own intermediate missiles, while Russia and the US are the only major countries that continue to suffer restrictions. In his oblique manner, Trump hinted at this on Friday, when he said that a new agreement may be possible, but would have to include China.

 
FILE PHOTO.

 

While getting all the three major powers to sign such a self-limiting document in the current conditions seems like a phantom prospect, if Bolton had come bearing a new proposal, he could have at least let all sides save face. Instead, he landed in Moscow with a unilateral decision that – like many others recently taken by Washington – leaves the Russians with little scope for a constructive counter-move.

Meanwhile, a little diplomatic smoothness from the famously straight-shooting veteran hawk would have gone a long way this week. The parties have important international issues to discuss: North Korea, where the US reportedly has no plans to drop its sanctions, Iran in the aftermath of the JCPOA withdrawal by Trump, and Syria, which remains a bloody theater of operations. As well as the fate of the nuclear control New START treaty, which expires in 2021, which neither side will likely dare to mention now. Arranging a new meeting between Putin and Trump, which many speculated had been the buried agenda of such a high-powered series of talks, now also becomes harder, as real opportunities loom during several upcoming international events.

READ MORE: As Bolton heads to Moscow, US charges another Russian with ‘election meddling’

The Helsinki summit in July between Putin and Trump may have been famously short on specifics – though Bolton name-checked it before flying overseas – it did signal a potential warming of relations that a Russian official this week described as being “in dire straits.” But with every action taken by Washington since, the goodwill has dwindled and, instead of making things better, this week both sides will simply hope to avoid aggravating the strife.

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Cuban Mission at UN Warns of US Blockade's Damage

Cuba''s diplomatic mission at UN stressed how the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States, which is now intensifying its actions, is a brake on achieving sustainable development.

That siege is the main obstacle to the development of all Cuban economy's potentialities, the diplomatic representative said through a press release.

The blockade is the main obstacle to the development of the economic, commercial and financial relations between Havana and Washington, and due to its extraterritorial nature, Cuba with the rest of the world, it also stressed.

This policy, which is still in force after 56 years, is a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of the Cuban people and is described as an act of genocide, in accordance with the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted in 1948, the Cuban mission said.

At the same time, it ignores the 26 resolutions adopted by the international community within the framework of the UN General Assembly and that dictate the end, without any conditioning, of its actions on Cuba.

This is also reflected in the most recent report on the damage caused by the blockade on Cuba, a mechanism that violates the Charter of the United Nations and International Law, and represents an obstacle to cooperation.

According to that report, only from April 2017 to March 2018, that hostile policy has caused losses to Cuba valued at $4.32 billion USD.

This is so far the most unjust, severe and prolonged system of unilateral sanctions that has been applied against any country, since it was instituted on February 3, 1962, by John F. Kennedy, who served as the 35th president of the United States.

The increase in the negative effects of the worsening of the blockade on the state economy and the non-state sector of the island are evident as of the serious setback in the bilateral relations, imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump and embodied in the memorandum signed on June 16, 2017.

In November 2017, the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Treasury and State issued new regulations and provisions that strengthened the extraterritorial application of the blockade and intensified the persecution of financial transactions and banking and credit operations with Cuba globally.

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US Blockade on Cuba Is Unfair, WHO Says

The blockade imposed by the United States government on Cuba is unfair, Cristian Morales, representative in Havana of the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO), said today.

Therefore, we join the majority position of the countries at the time of the historic vote at the UN General Assembly, Morales told Prensa Latina in this capital.

That policy damages the development and health of the Cuban people, and forces national authorities to make double and triple efforts to keep the equipment running and guarantee medicines that are needed, he said.

Two thirds of those medicines consumed are produced in Cuba, but sometimes that amount needs raw materials coming from abroad, sometimes becomes a hindrance to this blockade, the UN official said.

There are some medications that are not produced on the island and need to be imported, but instead of being brought from Latin America, or the United States itself, they have to be purchased from China or Europe, he stated.

Also, those companies that sell them, have to make sure they do not have any U.S. component, because they can be subject to sanctions, he said.

In this way, the country is affected, including its health system, because it has to pay more for the same, the PAHO/WHO representative concluded.

The Cuban government will denounce on October 31 the worsening of the blockade at the UN General Assembly.

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Cuba Describes U.S. Blockade as Main Obstacle for Its Development

Havana, Sep 2 (Prensa Latina) The economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States constitutes the main obstacle for the development of Cuba, as it affects plans aimed at the country''s progress, denounced the island's government.

In its most recent report on the impact of the current fence for almost six decades, Havana warned that it slows down the implementation of the Cuban Economic and Social Development Plan and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the latter adopted in 2015 by the 193 member states of the UN.

According to the Cuban Foreign Affairs Ministry, the blockade not only hits the links with the United States, but its extraterritorial nature also attacks economic, commercial and financial exchanges with the rest of the world.

On October 31, the United Nations General Assembly will vote for the twenty-seventh consecutive occasion since 1992 a draft resolution demanding the lifting of sanctions imposed on the island, an initiative similar to the ones that have always been categorically supported by 191 countries in the last three years.

According to the report of the Cuban Foreign Ministry facing the new vote, the blockade accumulates damages that reach 933.6 billion dollars, taking into account the depreciation of the dollar against the value of gold in the international market.

The arrival of Repulican President Donald Trump at the White House in January of 2017, meant an additional hit to the efforts of the Caribbean country in pursuit of its socio-economic development.

'Many foreign counterparts have interpreted that they can not make deals or continue operating with the companies included in the list,' the report stressed.

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Thousands of teachers in Washington state strike over salaries

(Reuters) - Nearly 80,000 students in Washington state were unable to attend the first day of school this week as thousands of teachers went on strike seeking higher salaries, teacher’s unions said.

Educators in seven school districts in southwestern Washington were on strike as early as mid-August and the number of walkouts was expected to rise, according to the Washington Education Association, which represents teachers in the state.

Teachers seeking enhanced education funding also have walked out in recent months in West Virginia, Arizona and Oklahoma.

More Washington educators would walk out next week. Teachers in Seattle - the state’s most-populated city - on Tuesday gave their union authority to call for a strike unless a contract deal is reached before classes resume there on Sept. 5, according to the Seattle Education Association.

Seattle Public Schools officials said the district backs educators and believes it has provided them with fair and competitive salaries, but it said on Wednesday that it must also manage its budget to provide services for students.

“We must balance our desire to support our educators while at the same time sustaining critical services and programs students need and families expect,” Seattle school officials said in a statement. “Even with offering every state dollar, starting in 2019-20 the district is projecting a budget shortfall that will grow over time.”

Contract renegotiation began in most of Washington’s 295 school districts, which serve more than 1 million students, after state lawmakers this year approved an additional $1 billion hike for educators’ salaries for the upcoming school year, according to the Seattle Times.

The Vancouver Education Association union said its proposal for salary increases only includes the money specifically allocated by the state for salaries and that it would not negatively impact students.

“School districts across the state have already settled fair contracts,” the Vancouver union said on its website. “We are currently in the midst of a statewide educator shortage crisis. We cannot afford to have our highly qualified teachers leave for other, more competitive districts.”

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