Dismantling Unasur Would Be a 'Historical Error': Ex-Chief

Samper argued the regional integration body is more necessary today in the face of threats by 'foolish Donald Trump.' 

Ernesto Samper, the former secretary general of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), has warned that allowing the regional integration body to be dismantled or disappear would be a “historical error,” and would “weaken our countries when it is most needed to face the threats to the region and the world since the foolish Donald Trump presides over the United States.”  

ANALYSIS: How Lima Group Undermines Unasur's Regional Sovereignty Mission

Unasur entered a prolonged impasse in late April when six countries, all belonging to the United States aligned Lima Group, announced they were temporarily withdrawing from the South American integration body.

According to a joint letter sent to Bolivia, which holds the pro-tempore presidency of Unasur, the withdrawal was a response to the incapacity of Unasur countries to choose a secretary general since early 2017 when Samper, a former Colombian president (1994-1998), ended his term.

In an op-ed written for EFE, Samper detailed U.S. policies that threaten the region and said destroying Unasur will be akin to suicide.  

“Trump’s ‘axe of war’ contemplates the expulsion of Latino migrants who have lived in the United States for years; the construction of divisive walls in the border with Mexico; non-compliance with environmental regulation, that due to global warming increases the risk of natural disasters in the Caribbean; increasing taxes for our key exports; or questioning Colombia’s peace accords,” Samper explains.

RELATED: Ex-Unasur Chief: 'Aggressive' US Threatens Regional Integration 

“To disregard the joint response to such challenges is like jumping overboard when the storm rages,” Samper said.   

Despite the formal justification, some fear the intention is to dismantle Unasur. In a previous interview, Samper acknowledged the United States would prefer to have the Organization of American States as the only regional body.

The creation of Unasur did not only represent a regional body that excluded the U.S., but it also challenged U.S. military hegemony in the region.

The South American Defense Council “reiterated its commitment against foreign military bases in South America when former president Alvaro Uribe authorized the presence of several bases in the border between Colombia and Venezuela. Its implementation could’ve taken us to the brink of unseen levels of hemispheric conflict” Samper explained.

After presenting other Unasur accomplishments in the fields of migration, health, and education, Samper warned: “Lowering our guard against what has been achieved over the years, transforming what is now a space of integration into a field of controversy would be, as well as unforgivable, a serious historical error.”

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Peru: People's Summit Begins Against Neoliberal 'Counteroffensive'

The Peoples' Summit is an alternative to the Summit fo the Americas in which social movements and progressives gather to counter neoliberal policies. 

The Peoples’ Summit was set to start Tuesday in Lima as the region’s social movements, progressive political parties, Indigenous peoples, students and workers gather in a parallel summit to the high-level VIII Summit of the Americas.  

 

RELATED: Peru's New President: Summit of Americas to Continue as Planned

 

Between April 10 and 14, they will discuss how to confront neoliberal policies and discourse, the role the United States plays in the region, and the future for regional integration in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This year’s agenda is focused on several issues, among them the court’s decision to imprison former Brazilian president and Workers’ Party candidate for the 2018 presidential elections Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, U.S. economic and diplomatic hostilities against Venezuela, and Honduras’ post-electoral crisis, among others.    

“We are facing a strong neoconservative counteroffensive from the continental right-wing promoted and financed from the U.S. empire. The traditional economic and political elites impose austerity measures of a frontal attack against our rights,” the People Summit’s official declaration states. Argentina and Brazil are currently facing harsh austerity measures after progressive governments were defeated or illegally removed.

Geronimo Lopez, Secretary General of Peru’s General Confederation of Workers and one of this year’s organizers, told Cuban press the event will be “a great act of continental solidarity.” He also announced they will issue a statement in support of Lula, explaining the sentence against Lula is part of a strategy by the U.S. “to stop the achievements by Latin American countries during progressive governments.”  

 

IN PICTURES: Massive Argentine Protests Against Macri Austerity

 

Costa Rican intellectual, Jorge Coronado, said the summit will also discuss the situation in “Honduras, where there is a government as a result of electoral fraud, recognized by the Organization of American States (OAS) and that is not included in the agenda of the VIII Summit of the Americas.”

The Summit has also organized an anti-imperialist march for April 12, hours after U.S. President Donald Trump was scheduled to arrive under the banner “Trump, Get Out of Peru.” However, Washington announced later Tuesday that Trump will not go to Lima, saying the U.S. president will remain in the White House to oversee U.S. response to Syria. 

In 2005, the Peoples’ Summit led by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner and former Brazilian President Lula, defeated the reiterated attempts by the U.S. of create the Free Trade Area of the Americas, opposed by social movements in the region.

Today, country’s delegations to the alternative summit “will stimulate the rearticulation of popular struggles in the continent, militant solidarity, and the confluence of left-wing and progressive forces in the region, in order to stop neoconservative counteroffensive, defeat it and reopen a transformative perspective for the benefit of the excluded majorities.”

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Cuba rejects OAS remarks on Cuba's democratic system

Cuba rejected on Tuesday recent statements made by Luis Almagro, secretary-general of the Organization of America States (OAS), on the island's democratic system, saying he had no "credibility" to speak about Cuba.

Speaking to local media, Rogelio Sierra, Cuba's deputy foreign minister, stated Almagro's remarks about Cuba were made in Miami city in U.S. Florida state where he met with a group of people who "defend, support and encourage aggressive actions" against Cuba, including terrorism and the U.S. economic blockade.

"Almagro has no credibility, moral or ethics, to judge what the Cuban government and its people do. He makes a big mistake in ignoring our decision to be sovereign and independent," said Sierra.

The OAS official visited Miami last Saturday to visit a Cuban dissident group. He used the occasion to call for "democratic reforms" and demanded that Havana hold Western-style elections to choose its next leader as actual president, Raul Castro, will step down in April.

Havana's deputy foreign minister pointed out that Almagro tried to delegitimize Cuba's sovereignty and independence to decide its political system while supporting "illegal opposition groups and their allies in the U.S."

"He met in Miami with a sector of the Cuban community in the United States, which still dreams of overthrowing the Revolution. On the contrary, he has not said a word about recent remarks made by the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who supported a military coup against Venezuela," said Sierra.

Despite being a founding member of the OAS, Cuba was suspended in 1962. In June 2009, foreign ministers of OAS member countries lifted Cuba's suspension.

Havana, however, has reiterated it would not return to the OAS.

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OAS Calls for Honduran Election to be Redone

“The people of Honduras deserve an electoral process that confers them democratic quality and guarantees,” said OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro in a statement.

The Organization of American States, OAS, called for a new round of elections Sunday to guarantee voter rights are being respected and the procedure is being observed.RELATED: Honduras Election Court Sides With 'Fraud' Candidate Hernandez as Protests Rage On

The Electoral Tribunal announced Sunday, the results of the recount, saying presidential candidate and incumbent leader, Juan Orlando Hernandez had won by 1.53 percentage points. 

However, the OAS electoral observer mission said Sunday that though it could not confirm that the election had been “intentionally manipulated”, the process was filled with suspicious inconsistencies.

“The people of Honduras deserve an electoral process that confers them democratic quality and guarantees,” said OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro in a statement. He added: “The electoral process that the tribunal concluded today clearly did not provide that."

The OAS said the only way for the Hondurans to be properly represented and for the victor to reflect the votes of the people would be to conduct a new election that adheres to the strictest measure of the law.

The inconsistencies of the TSE’s review process were discussed during a late press conference with the Electoral Observation Mission (EOM). According to the foreign delegation, the 82 experts had not ensured that the necessary precautions had not been taken to guarantee it’s integrity.

The OAS observers encouraged Hondurans to “remain calm and act responsibly”, assuring that the issue will be resolved, denouncing the number of deaths and injuries which have resulted from a series of violent protests around the nation.

However, the European Union election observers have stated they did not encounter any irregularities in the process.

RELATED: Nasralla: Fraud Before, During and After the Elections

“After comparing a large random sample of voting records provided to us by the Alliance and the original records published on the tribunal’s website, the mission observed that the results presented practically no differences,” said Jose Antonio de Gabriel, the adjunct head of the EU’s mission.

For his part, the opposition candidate, Santiago Nasralla, expressed through a video posted on Facebook that "It is clear that there was fraud before, during and after the elections. (...) The President of the Republic at this moment is an impostor, and the Honduran people know it ".

Nasralla called for a resurgence of protests Monday. The leftist candidate arrives in the United States and plans to meet with Almagro as well as members of the State Department and human rights organizations to denounce the alleged fraudulent elections and solve the current political crisis.

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US Black Group Lauds Caricom's Stance on Venezuela

The IBW urged Caricom nations to resist pressure from Washington and the OAS, and continue to stand firm in their principled position concerning Venezuela.

On Saturday, New York-based Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) said it was “very concerned about reports of racist violence by right-wing, anti-Government forces targeting members of the Afro-Venezuelan community.”

RELATED: Morales Slams Supporters of Venezuela's Opposition Plebiscite

IBW called on the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus to investigate these reports and to support the Caribbean Community's (Caricom) position by demanding that U.S. President Donald Trump's Administration “cease and desist interfering in Venezuela's domestic affairs, and in undermining its national sovereignty.”

The group also condemned recent efforts by the Organization of American States' (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro and a “small group of powerful states in the OAS who are relentlessly attacking the Venezuelan Government, openly supporting the Opposition forces, and are attempting to divide and weaken the solidarity of the 15 Caricom member states of the OAS on their stance towards the crisis in Venezuela.”

IBW lauded the prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, for upholding “Article 15 of the OAS Charter, which says that 'no state, or group of states, has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other state.'”

The OAS Charter says “this principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements.”

The Institute of the Black World 21st Century urged all Caricom countries to “resist pressure from Washington and from the OAS, and continue to stand firm in their united and principled position concerning the crisis in Venezuela.”

In a statement from the conclusion of recently concluded 38th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom, held in Grenada earlier this month, Caricom leaders “reaffirmed their guiding principles of adherence to the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy, as well as for the fundamental principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.”

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A "male prostitute" at OAS: Luis Almagro

Washington and its Organization of American States (OAS) show Venezuela as hell, while silencing the Brazilian debacle.

Thus published on Thursday The New York Times in a report by journalists Simon Romero and Dom Phillips.

They wrote from Rio de Janeiro that President Michel Temer, besieged by the complex situation of the country, deployed Wednesday federal troops in the capital, Brasilia.

Previously, they said that hundreds of protesters had clashed with the security forces, with people injured, beaten and detained.

Afterwards, Brazilian Defense Minister Raul Jugmann assured that when Temer ordered street patrols, he only tried to “restore order”.

Journalists Romero and Phillips added that the protesters set fire to the Agriculture Ministry and other government offices were looted.

According to estimates by regional officials, the newspaper indicated that around 35,000 people participated in Wednesday’s protests in Rio de Janeiro alone.

"A protest that should have been peaceful deteriorated into violence, vandalism and disrespect”, Jungmann said.

For their part, Romero and Phillips recalled that the use of the armed forces Brazil is something very sensitive for those who hate the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. Historical brutal scenario where thousands of Brazilians were detained, tortured, murdered and disappeared.

One of those victims was Dilma Rousseff, today’s former president who is seeing her enemies involved in corruption acts now. Tensions rise in Brazil, sped up by a scandal linked to Temer.

What happened? An entrepreneur recorded a dialogue with the latter, where he approved to pay bribes to buy silences and to obstruct anticorruption probes.

The disclosure of those recordings on May 18 prompted the collapse of Brazil’s financial markets, a probe against Temer and widespread calls for his resignation.

Victor Guimarães, a 26-year-old activist from the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement, said he was in front of Congress, when the police attacked them (protesters).

"The largest contingent of the protest hadn’t reached the place yet, and even so, they shot grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets”, he added.

"The police wanted to expel everyone from the esplanade", assured Guimarães, who was hit on the head by a bullet.

The report by Romero and Phillips added that "Temer has also been accused of receiving millions of dollars in bribes and illegal payments".

Meanwhile, scholars specializing in the history of Brazil bet that tensions will continue there.

However, important US outlets do not dedicate the same space, continuity or language, when they publish them.

What would happen, for example, should Venezuela’s armed forces take the streets of its main cities, as it happened in Rio de Janeiro?

Something that, of course, has deserved no word of rejection from the illustrious Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro.

                                                               

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff






A "male prostitute" at OAS: Luis Almagro

Washington and its Organization of American States (OAS) show Venezuela as hell, while silencing the Brazilian debacle.

Thus published on Thursday The New York Times in a report by journalists Simon Romero and Dom Phillips.

They wrote from Rio de Janeiro that President Michel Temer, besieged by the complex situation of the country, deployed Wednesday federal troops in the capital, Brasilia.

Previously, they said that hundreds of protesters had clashed with the security forces, with people injured, beaten and detained.

Afterwards, Brazilian Defense Minister Raul Jugmann assured that when Temer ordered street patrols, he only tried to “restore order”.

Journalists Romero and Phillips added that the protesters set fire to the Agriculture Ministry and other government offices were looted.

According to estimates by regional officials, the newspaper indicated that around 35,000 people participated in Wednesday’s protests in Rio de Janeiro alone.

"A protest that should have been peaceful deteriorated into violence, vandalism and disrespect”, Jungmann said.

For their part, Romero and Phillips recalled that the use of the armed forces Brazil is something very sensitive for those who hate the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. Historical brutal scenario where thousands of Brazilians were detained, tortured, murdered and disappeared.

One of those victims was Dilma Rousseff, today’s former president who is seeing her enemies involved in corruption acts now. Tensions rise in Brazil, sped up by a scandal linked to Temer.

What happened? An entrepreneur recorded a dialogue with the latter, where he approved to pay bribes to buy silences and to obstruct anticorruption probes.

The disclosure of those recordings on May 18 prompted the collapse of Brazil’s financial markets, a probe against Temer and widespread calls for his resignation.

Victor Guimarães, a 26-year-old activist from the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement, said he was in front of Congress, when the police attacked them (protesters).

"The largest contingent of the protest hadn’t reached the place yet, and even so, they shot grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets”, he added.

"The police wanted to expel everyone from the esplanade", assured Guimarães, who was hit on the head by a bullet.

The report by Romero and Phillips added that "Temer has also been accused of receiving millions of dollars in bribes and illegal payments".

Meanwhile, scholars specializing in the history of Brazil bet that tensions will continue there.

However, important US outlets do not dedicate the same space, continuity or language, when they publish them.

What would happen, for example, should Venezuela’s armed forces take the streets of its main cities, as it happened in Rio de Janeiro?

Something that, of course, has deserved no word of rejection from the illustrious Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro.

                                                               

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff






Exaggerated Dangers in Venezuela

Caracas, Apr 10 (Prensa Latina) Exaggerating the dangers that exist today in Venezuela seems to be part of the strategy to root the image of insecurity in order to justify a foreign intervention that will allegedly save the country's stability.

How true or false is the situation they are trying to sell to the large masses who are alarmingly observing the manipulated domestic situation, as part of a scenario that has been described as catastrophic by people like the secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro?

A communiqué issued by Almagro refers to 'a killed demonstrator and dozens of wounded and arrested as the initial result of repression (on Friday), aimed at suffocating the demand for free elections, the only solution for a country devastated by the political crisis and looting.'

The peaceful protest and the right to the freedom of peaceful association, he noted, are universal rights that any government, especially the democratic governments, must respect. That shows again that there is no democracy in Venezuela and that human rights are violated regularly, the OAS chief said.

None of this fits reality. First, there is freedom to demonstrate, but authorities have the right to limit the places to prevent clashes between opposite forces, according to observers.

The violent demonstrations, according to what this correspondent has observed, are promoted by groups opposed to the government that are closely linked to 'the democrats of the continent', as Almagro calls those who 'will not accept to pay with Venezuelan blood the debts of democracy, freedoms, prosperity, the Constitution and the rights that its rulers have contracted at the people's expense,' something that these advocates cause and manipulate.

The communiqué, which was issued after Almagro met on Thursday in Washington with the speaker of the Venezuelan National Assembly, the opposition leader Julio Borges, shows that the so-called soft coup against President Nicolas Maduro is being cooked in the U.S. capital, with support from local opponents.

Big media organizations have described events that do not match reality, as they are trying to depict an explosive image throughout the country.

For example, here, at the foot of Mountain Avila, there were sporadic expressions of violence in the areas of Altamira and Chacaito, known as the capital's bastions of the country's right-wing opposition and the bourgeoisie, while in other zones in the east, west and south, there is tension, but there is no violence as predicted and announced by media opposed to the government.

That atmosphere of insecurity and violence is fueled by events like this one: 'Venezuelan tennis players had to go to Miami to compete in the Davis Cup against El Salvador. Not a single game will take place in Venezuela, because the International Federation considered that it was dangerous. But no one, either the International Tennis Federation or the IND or Min-Deportes say anything', the commentator Eleazar Diaz Rangel said.

Logically, the manipulation of the situation contributes to the atmosphere of insecurity. Everything can have an interpretation here.

For example, at 08:00 hours, local time, on Sunday, a squad of soldiers wearing the olive green uniforms of the Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB) was deployed at the steps of the Financiero Latino building, in Urdaneta and Avenida Fuerzas Armadas.

Anyone would think that it was a scenario of violence, because the headquarters of the Ombudsman is located nearby, but it was merely a preventive exercise. The danger does not exist.

It does not mean that the country is not in tension, there is tension, ordinary people are concerned about their country and the threats coming from abroad, but so far, it has not gone beyond that, unless foreign forces attack the homeland of Simon Bolivar and Hugo Chavez. Then, there will be a dangerous situation.

However, there are still voices like that of UNASUR Secretary-General Ernesto Samper, who noted that an explicit electoral program is the best way to solve the political crisis. It was said by someone who participated in the talks between the two parties and who has promoted dialogue.

Likewise, but on the opposite direction, there is howling like that by Argentine President Mauricio Macri, who speaks about 'violations of human rights' in Venezuela and calls 'to exert pressure' to cause the explosion of a bomb that can affect the entire Latin America.

In that regard, the interpretation of the dangers may change, everything depends on being at the wrong moment and at the wrong time in the sequence of a situation.

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