The Pro-Evo Upheaval in Bolivia: How is it Affecting the Canadian Political Scene?

On November 11, 2019, following the violent, racist, U.S.-led coup in Bolivia against Evo Morales — which was supported from the outset by Canada’s Justin Trudeau government —  I posted an appeal (in English, French, and Spanish) on YouTube denouncing the green light given by Trudeau on October 29 to Donald Trump’s plan. Just a few hours after the coup was consummated, Trudeau declared his support for it.

What right does Canada have to elect the government of Bolivia, to intervene in that country’s internal affairs? 

RELATED: Bolivia to Hold New General Elections in March 2020

The YouTube appeal was especially directed at New Democratic Party (NDP) MPs, who were elected with the support of the trade unions. “I’m appealing to the unions and the workers of Canada to put pressure on the NDP to take a stand against the Trudeau government, which is supporting this racist attack against Evo Morales.”

The appeal was also directed at the Bloc Québécois, which won more Quebec seats in Canada’s Parliament then Trudeau’s own Liberal Party. 

“We the people of Quebec and Canada, along with our Indigenous brothers and sisters in Canada cannot turn our back on the Indigenous people of Bolivia. Especially when some in Bolivia are burning the Wiphala flag, which is not only the symbol of the original peoples of Bolivia but the emblem of the whole region.”

“How would we feel if somebody somewhere decided to burn the Quebec or the Canadian flag? We must defend the people of Bolivia and take a strong position against Justin Trudeau’s interventionist, pro-imperialist policy,” I concluded.

Further to these and other appeals and comments on the social networks, responses started coming in. The first one of note appeared on the Facebook page of Natalia d’Agnese, an activist with Quebec’s left-wing Québec Solidaire party. She wrote: “Totally agree. The Canadian government is supporting a coup by a far-right, evangelistic, racist component of the opposition. Some Latin American countries have begun taking positions, including Mexico, Uruguay, the Argentine senate and its new president, and others.”

The Durham Region Labour Council (@DurhamRegionLC), representing the members of many affiliated unions of this Ontario city, announced: “We will be submitting an emergency resolution to be discussed at the @OFLabour convention in a few weeks to denounce @cafreeland's support of a coup in Bolivia. #ElMundoConEvo #GolpeDeEstadoBolivia”

Canada’s largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), with over 680,000 members throughout the country, published a statement of its “concern about the developing situation in Bolivia, which has led to a coup.

“CUPE calls on the Government of Canada to recognize and respect the sovereignty of the Bolivian people to determine their own political future, without military or foreign interference. We further call on the Liberals to stop taking their foreign policy cues from some of the world’s most right-wing governments.

“We extend our solidarity and support to the Bolivian people who will be most affected by the social or economic instability that accompanies this attack on their democratic rights.”

The situation concerning this Latin American country is developing minute by minute. It is too early to draw conclusions; however, the initial reaction proves what has been stated in previous articles about Latin America: that a large majority of Canadians oppose US imperialism and its allies.

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Trudeau Defends Support for Foreigners in the USA

Washington, March 16 (Prensa Latina) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recalled the need today to support foreigners during the performance of a musical at a theater in Broadway, New York.

'The world gets to see what it is to lean on each other and be there for each other through the darkest times,' he said when introducing the play on the reception in his country of about seven thousand passengers whose flights were diverted from the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Along with his wife, Sophie, and Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the American president Donald Trump, Trudeau enjoyed the musical 'Come from away' in Gerald Schoenfeld Theater of Broadway, that exhibits it from last Sunday.

The musical, written by the Canadian couple Irene Sankoff and David Heinse, addresses how the residents of the city of Gander, Newfoundland, took in about six thousand 600 passengers and crew of 38 commercial flights that were forced to land at the local airport.

US authorities diverted a total of more than 200 aircraft to Canada when they closed down US air space after the Twin Towers terrorist attacks, which resulted in more than 3,000 deaths and 6,000 injuries, mostly in New York.

When the capacities of hotels were filled, schools, fire stations and churches, took in passengers, while food and general services were provided by the residents of that small town of about 10,000 inhabitants.

Through her Twitter account, Ivanka Trump wrote that she was honored to accompany the head of government and his wife in an emotional tribute to the way the international community joined after September 11.

The media often point to the contrasts between Trudeau government, which has so far welcomed 40,000 Syrian refugees, and the policies of the US president, who promotes a four-month ban on the entry of refugees from any country.

The head of state also wants to avoid for 90 days the arrival of nationals of six Muslim-majority countries through an order that was to enter into force today, but which was blocked temporarily last night by a judge in Hawaii.

  • Published in Culture

Jeff Sessions, Trump's new attorney general dogged by controversy

President Donald Trump's choice of Senator Jeff Sessions as his attorney general was initially dogged by allegations of past racism.

The controversy has now moved on to meetings Mr Sessions had with the Russian ambassador during Mr Trump's election campaign.

Mr Sessions was one of Mr Trump's earliest supporters in his White House bid. As a key loyalist, he was a senior adviser to the New York tycoon on politics, national security and policy.

He was also a vice-chairman on the Trump presidential transition team.

'Lying under oath'

Mr Trump's campaign was dogged by allegations that some of his team had met with Russian officials and that Moscow had interfered in the election on his behalf.

Mr Sessions was revealed by the Washington Post to have met Ambassador Sergei Kislyak twice, despite telling his January confirmation hearing that he had had no contacts with the Russians during the campaign.

Democrats have accused him of "lying under oath" and say he must resign.

Russia: The scandal Trump can't shake

They have also called on him to step aside from an investigation by the FBI - which he oversees as attorney general - into the alleged Russian interference.

kislyakMr Sessions met Mr Kislyak twice during the campaign / AP 

Mr Sessions insists he "never met any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign". Mr Kislyak was one of 25 foreign ambassadors he met as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee last year.

They held a private conversation in Mr Sessions's office in September and had spoken earlier in the summer, along with several other ambassadors, the Post said.

The KKK joke

The latest controversy follows that of alleged racist remarks by Mr Sessions in the past, which proved a roadblock in his political career and put him under fresh scrutiny for the attorney general post.

A Senate committee denied Mr Sessions a federal judgeship in 1989 after lawmakers heard testimony that he had used a racial slur.

Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump during a national security meetingMr Sessions was an early supporter of Mr Trump / AP

He had also joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were OK until he heard they smoked marijuana.

The Alabama senator told the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation testimony that allegations he had once supported the KKK were "damnably false".

Mr Sessions was also accused of calling a black assistant US attorney "boy" and telling him to be careful about how he spoke to "white folks".

He denied to the committee ever having called the lawyer "boy" and insisted he had merely advised him to be cautious about what he said to "folks".

Mr Sessions also rejected claims he had labelled the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People "un-American".

Democrats were outraged when Senator Elizabeth Warren, who opposed Mr Sessions' appointment as attorney general, was silenced by Republicans while trying to read a letter by Coretta Scott King that criticised him.

Writing in 1986, the civil rights activist alleged that he had "used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters".

Mr Sessions' supporters deny he is a racist, pointing to his votes to extend the Voting Rights Act and to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Rosa Parks.

Immigration 'hoax'

Mr Sessions has spent much of his career fighting immigration battles, ranging from amnesty bills on creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants to visa programmes for foreign workers.

Mr Sessions supports limiting legal immigration, arguing that it protects American jobs.

He also backs Mr Trump's plan to build a wall along the US-Mexican border.

In a 2005 Washington Post op-ed, he argued that, "legal immigration is the primary source of low-wage immigration into the United States".

The government, he argued, should be focused on "slowing the pace of new arrivals so that wages can rise, welfare rolls can shrink and the forces of assimilation can knit us all more closely together".

His strident views on immigration were laid out last year in his 25-page manifesto, "Immigration Handbook for the New Republican Majority". In the report, he argues immigration was responsible for job losses and welfare dependency.

He called claims by technology entrepreneurs that immigrant workers with elite skills were part of the innovation process a "hoax".

What's his background?

Born Jefferson Beauregard "Jeff" Sessions III, he became Alabama's attorney general before he joined the Senate in 1996.

He sat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the Budget Committee.

The lawmaker, who helped Mr Trump craft his foreign policy plan, was one of the few Republicans to come to his defence after he proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US.

A year book showing a photo of Jeff Sessions in his graduating Wilcox County High SchoolMr Sessions shown during his graduating year at Wilcox County High School / AP

When asked if he supported a temporary ban in his hearing, Mr Sessions said he did "not support the idea that Muslims as a religious group should be denied admission to the United States".

He has backed Mr Trump's amended proposal, now an executive order, banning individuals from countries with a history of terrorism, which is now being challenged in court.

Gay marriage opposition

Like many Republicans, Mr Sessions has opposed the LGBT-rights movement, and in particular the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

In 2000 and 2009 he voted against legislation which would expand the definition of a hate crime to include offences based on sexual orientation.

In 2015 after the Supreme Court voted to allow same-sex marriage across the US, he dubbed the decision an "effort to secularise, by force and intimidation".

But Mr Sessions testified in Tuesday's hearing he would follow the law of the land on gay rights.

As Alabama's attorney general in 1996, he fought vigorously to prevent an LGBT-rights conference from meeting at the University of Alabama.

He promised to prosecute school administrators under a state law passed in 1992 that made it illegal for public universities to fund a group that promotes "actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws".

When the university pledged to allow the conference to meet, he sought a court order to prevent it, but ultimately the 1992 order was overturned by a federal judge.

What about Guantanamo?

Mr Sessions has challenged calls to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and he has also questioned whether terrorism suspects have the right to be tried in civilian courts.

During his confirmation hearing, Mr Sessions said he accepted the law "absolutely" prohibits waterboarding.

He also said Guantanamo Bay was a "safe place" that fits the purpose of keeping prisoners "marvellously well".

Gun crime

The National Rifle Association (NRA) applauded Mr Sessions' appointment as America's top prosecutor, saying he would "make America a safer place by prosecuting violent criminals while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners".

Mr Sessions is rated A+ by the group, indicating that he has a pro-gun voting record.

He has previously voted against background checks at gun shows, and in favour of banning lawsuits against gun manufacturers, and allowing firearms in checked baggage on trains.

In a statement at his confirmation hearing he promised a crackdown on gun violence, saying: "If I am confirmed, we will systematically prosecute criminals who use guns in committing crimes."

Many in the law enforcement community have voiced support for Mr Sessions, believing he will be a strong advocate for the police.

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Mexican Actor Gael Garcia Bernal Slams Trump's Border Wall at Oscars

The Mexican star has blasted Trump in the past, and the Oscars were no exception.

Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal used his time on the Oscar’s stage Sunday to criticize President Donald Trump and his border wall plan as one of many celebrities to raise political themes during the Academy Awards ceremony.

RELATED: Gael Garcia Bernal, Lila Downs Back Teachers Not Mexican Govt

Presenting the Oscar for best animated film, Garcia Bernal slammed Trump’s promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Flesh and blood actors are migrant workers. We travel all over the world, we build families, we construct stories, we build life that cannot be divided,” he said.

“As a Mexican, as a Latin-American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I’m against any form of wall that wants to separate us.”

Garcia Bernal, known for his performance in films including "The Motorcycle Diaries" and "Amores Perros" as well as the web television series "Mozart in the Jungle," has spoken out about Trump in the past.

After Trump’s Nov. 8 election, Garcia Bernal tweeted in Spanish, "Build your fucking wall. History will take care of the failed plan to make Mexico pay. And to open the holes that there will always be.”

RELATED: Latin American Music Artists React to Trump's Election

Weeks earlier, he told “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” that although Trump’s run for president was initially seen as a “joke” by Mexicans, his popularity eventually sparked “nervousness, fear and anger” — sentiments that have only increased since the reality TV star-turn-president took over the White House.

In another interview when Trump first launched his presidential campaign in 2015, Garcia Bernal told the Guardian that Trump characterization of Mexicans as “rapists and drug dealers” was “close-minded and fucking ignorant.”

“We started to give Donald Trump so much space, and we started to validate his opinion, as if it’s like, ‘You know, it’s a valid opinion.’ No, it’s not valid,” he continued. "It’s hate discourse, and what follows next is genocide or civil war. I mean, that’s how it begins.”

Garcia Bernal has starred in films depicting the plight of migrants on the perilous journey attempting to cross the U.S. border, including “Desierto” and “Who Is Dayani Cristal?” He also produced the 2009 film “Sin Nombre” about two desperate teens struggling to cross Mexico to reach the United States.

  • Published in Culture
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