Progressive Calendar 03.20.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2008 05:05:53 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    03.20.08

1. New Hope demo      3.20 4:30pm
2. Eagan vigil        3.20 4:30pm
3. Northtown vigil    3.20 5pm
4. BrooklynPark cops  3.20 5pm
5. Green careers      3.20 6pm
6. Developing ctrys   3.20 7pm
7. Amnesty Intl       3.20 7:15pm
8. Freya Manfred      3.20 7:30pm
9. Brecht play        3.20 8pm

10. Green jobs/KFAI   3.21 11am
11. Anti-war rally    3.21 5:30pm Duluth MN
12. Full frontal moon 3.21 7pm
13. DU poison dust    3.21 8pm Duluth MN
14. Moyers/war        3.21 9pm
15. Atheists convene  3.21-23

16. Robert Jensen    - Beyond peace
17. PC Roberts       - Bankrupt: The collapse of American power
18. Federico Fuentes - Latin America rejects Bush Doctrine

--------1 of 18--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: New Hope demo 3.20 4:30pm

NWN4P-New Hope demonstration every Thursday 4:30 to 6 PM at the corner
of Winnetka and 42nd.  You may park near Walgreens or in the larger lot
near McDonalds; we will be on all four corners.  Bring your own or use
our signs.

--------2 of 18--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan vigil 3.20 4:30pm

CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest
corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs
and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends
south of the river speaking out against war.

--------3 of 18--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 3.20 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------4 of 18--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: BrooklynPark cops 3.20 5pm


Brooklyn Park cops have always been on our radar screen.  For as long as
we've had the hotline, BP is the suburb we get the most complaints about.
At times, they outranked St. Paul (before Harrington became St. Paul's
police chief).  So there has always been a problem with racially
insensitive and outright thuggish cops in BP.

Their latest move has been to target and attempt to criminalize youth of
color and white youth who stand with them.  We are working on a number of
these cases, in which youth have been arrested standing in the front yard
of their own homes, harassed and arrested at school, etc.  In one case,
some youth were at school when a fight broke out at the end of the day.
These young people were not in the fight and had nothing to do with it.
As they tried to leave the school, the cop assigned to the school demanded
to know the names of the kids involved in the fight.  When these youth
told the cop they didn't know the names, they were arrested and brought up
on false charges, which have changed several times.  This is just one of
several incidents.  Youth in these various incidents will be going to
court soon but we need to send a strong message to the BP cops now: "hands
off our kids!"

Please join us for a little "education" session with the BP cops.  We'll
be holding signs in front of the Brooklyn Park police department at rush
hour on a busy main artery:

Thursday, March 20
5:00 p.m.
Brooklyn Park Municipal Plaza
5400 85th Street (Intersection with Regent)
Brooklyn Park

--------5 of 18--------

From: Do it Green! <Do_it_Green [at]>
Subject: Green careers 3.20 6pm

Green career opportunities are unlimited but how do you snag one? What
can you do now to get on your green career track and start working for
a sustainable world? Barbara Parks from Green Career Tracks will help
you answer these questions and get you started on creating your own
customized green career plan.

Thursday, March 20th: Green Careers with Barbara Parks of Green Career
Time: 6-8 PM
Location: North Regional Public Library (1315 Lowry Ave. N., Mpls)

--------6 of 18--------

From: Joe Schwartzberg <schwa004 [at]>
Subject: Developing ctrys 3.20 7pm

Free and open to the public.
Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church,
511 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis (at Lyndale &
Hennepin) Park in church lot.

Thursday, March 20, 7-9pm.


"Developing" and "developed" countries face different challenges and their
perspectives are thus frequently at odds. This session will provide an
overview of the nature of key problems faced by developing countries and
of the historical and geographic contexts in which they arose and it will
help us to know what to look for in interpreting international conflict
and advocate effective and just solutions.  It will raise controversial
hypotheses on the relationships between developing and developed countries
that have led to conflict and will offer some ideas for solutions.

Presenter: PROFESSOR GAIL HUGHES. Dr. Hughes' eclectic background includes
service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho and as an Independent
Volunteer teaching development studies in Botswana; Ph.D studies at the U.
of M. with a specialization in curriculum studies; a year of post-graduate
research at the East-West Center in Hawaii; twelve years as a program
evaluator with the Minnesota Community College System; teaching
interdisciplinary social science and sociology at St. Cloud State
University (in part in the Honors Program); and, at present, teaching
graduate courses in the School of Education at Capella University. Dr.
Hughes is also a Board Member of CGS, Minnesota.

--------7 of 18--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 3.20 7:15pm

AIUSA Group 315 (Wayzata area) meets Thursday, March 20th, at 7:15 p.m.
St. Luke Presbyterian Church, 3121 Groveland School Road, Wayzata (near
the intersection of Rt. 101 and Minnetonka Blvd). For further information,
contact Richard Bopp at Richard_C_Bopp [at]

--------8 of 18--------

From: Freya Manfred and Thomas Pope <manfredandpope [at]>
Subject: Freya Manfred 3.20 7:30pm

I'd love to have you join us at THE LOFT in Mpls on Thursday, March 20th,
at 7:30 p.m.  I'm reading from my new book, SWIMMING WITH A HUNDRED YEAR
OLD SNAPPING TURTLE (Red Dragonfly Press)  and Louis Jenkins, the Duluth
prose poet whose work is hilarious, unexpected, and profound will read

--------9 of 18--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Brecht play 3.20 8pm

CONTACT: Frank Theatre, 612 724 3760, info [at]

Minneapolis, MN-- Frank Theatre presents Bertolt Brecht's PUNTILA AND HIS
HIRED MAN MATTI March 20-April 13 at the Bridge Building in the City of
Minneapolis Public Works yard located at 26th and Hiawatha in south
Minneapolis (1907 East 27th Street).  Performances are March 20
(preview)-April 13, Thurs-Sat. at 8:00, and Sundays at 2:00. (Sunday,
March 23 is a pay-what-you-can performance, with a suggested donation of
$12.) Please call for information on our audio described performance.
The Sunday performances are followed by a post-show panel discussion with
members of the community. Tickets are $14-20; for reservations and
information, call (612) 724 3760, or visit the theatre's website at

PUNTILA AND HIS HIRED MAN MATTI is based on a story by Finnish writer
Hella Wuolijoki, whom Brecht met while living in exile in Finland.
Subtitled "A People's Play," PUNTILA revolves around the misadventures of
Mr. Puntila, a wealth landowner, and his chauffeur, Matti. Puntila is
fun-loving, humane and generous when he is inebriated, but when he suffers
his stone-cold "attacks of sobriety," he becomes mean, petty and selfish.
A "vivacious" daughter unhappily engaged to an Attaché (who is marrying
her to pay off his debts), four bawdy working women who are just looking
for a good time and "bit of slap and tickle," the delicate facades of the
upper-class, and a "hired man" who sees through it all combine to make
this a bawdy, raucous "folk play" that deliciously pokes at the gap
between the haves and the have-nots. Brecht was a great admirer of Charlie
Chaplin, and PUNTILA echoes Chaplin's The Tramp and the Millionaire in
his film City Lights. By using broad humor to turn issues of class upside
down, PUNTILA is a bawdy comedy that echoes Brecht's experience living in

For further information, please contact Frank Theatre at (612) 724 3760,
or at info [at] or check us out at

--------10 of 18--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Green jobs/KFAI 3.21 11am

Fri.Mar. 21, 11am on KFAI Radio

Tune in to hear a conversation about Environmental Justice & Green Jobs.
In Pittsburg last week, the Blue-Green Alliance (Sierra Club and the
United Steelworkers union) hosted a conference on Green Jobs. Two Twin
Cities activists were there: Karen Monahan of EJAM/Environmentqal Justice
Activists MN and ELEONOR WESSERLE of the WEI/Women's Environmental
Institute.  The coalition between environmentalists and labor is a crucial
development for both addressing the climate crisis, the need for
renewable, non-carbon energy and serious, continuing job losses across the
country. But, will everyone be included in the new "Green economy" that
was excluded in the old "pollution economy"?  Environmental justice was
only marginal to this conference and that's one of many questions raised
in this report-back. Interview by CATALYST host Lydia Howell.

CATALYST:politics & culture every Friday, 11am followed at 11:30am by
KFAI Radio, 90.3fm Mpls 106.7fm St. Paul
All shows archived for 2 weeks after broadcast at

--------11 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Anti-war rally 3.21 5:30pm Duluth MN

Friday, 3/21, 5:30 pm, march, rally and film showing "5 Years Too Many!"
March from Lake Ave and Superior St, Washington Center, for a march to the
YWCA with indoor rally, potluck, and mini-film fest at the YWCA Trepanier
Hall, Duluth. or 715-394-6660.

--------12 of 18--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Full frontal moon 3.21 7pm

Good Friday Full Moon Walk Around the Coldwater Area

Friday, March 21, 7:00 p.m. Minnehaha Park, 54th Street South, Minneapolis
(South End of the Pay Parking Lot). Daffodils and tulips are pushing up,
days are longer than nights now. This is the time of the storm moon and
it's just past Spring Equinox. Celebrate the return of long days and green
dreams. Traditional group howl! FFI: Visit <>.

--------13 of 18--------

From: Nukewatch <nukewatch [at]>
Subject: DU poison dust 3.21 8pm Duluth MN

The documentary film "Poison Dust: A New Look at U.S. Radioactive Weapons"
- highlighting the effects of uranium weapons on veterans returning from
Iraq - will be shown 8:00 p.m. Friday, March 21 at the Duluth YWCA, 202 W
2nd St., Duluth, MN.

Part of the Northland Anti-war Coalition's Anti-war march, rally,
potluck and film fest.
Assemble at 5:30 p.m. at the MN Power Plaza [Lake Ave. & Superior St.,
Duluth] for a march to the YWCA's Trepanier Hall - where there'll be an
indoor rally at 6:15 p.m., a potluck/social and silent auction at 7 p.m.,
and a mini-film fest starting at 8pm.
Information: <>

--------14 of 18--------

From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at]>
Subject: Moyers/war 3.21 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | Casualty of War

This week on Bill Moyers Journal, "former talk show host Phil Donahue and
Ellen Spiro on the true cost of war and their documentary, 'Body of War,'
depicting the moving story of one veteran dealing with the aftermath of

--------15 of 18--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Atheists convene 3.21-23

March 21-23, American Atheists 34th Convention. Minneapolis Marriott City
Center, 30 South 7th Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402. Speakers
include Richard Dawkins. Online registration at

--------16 of 18--------

Beyond Peace
By Robert Jensen
March 19, 2008
ZNet Commentary

[The following essay was written in response to a request from students at
a Massachusetts middle school for essays about peace contributing to what
they hope will be "the largest book in the world on the subject of peace."
For more information about the project, go to]

It has long been a staple of the antiwar movement that there can be no
meaningful peace without justice on a global scale. Those of us living in
the First World, especially in the United States, cannot pretend to be
working for peace unless we also are working for a more just and equitable
distribution of the world's resources.

The antiwar/peace movement, therefore, must also be a movement focused on
the grotesque inequalities in a predatory corporate capitalist system. In
a world where half the population lives on less than $2 a day, it's clear
that (a) the global economy is itself a form of war on billions of people,
sometimes as destructive as shooting wars, and (b) that in such an
profoundly unjust world, armed conflict is inevitable because there always
will be resistance to this inequality, and powerful states will respond
militarily to any threat, real or perceived, to their dominance.

In other words: No justice, no peace.

Now it's time for those of us in the peace-and-justice movement in the
First World, especially in the United States, to take the next step: We
must recognize that there can be no justice over the long term without
sustainability, and creating a sustainable world will require not only
radical change in systems and structures of power but also a radical
change in the way we in affluent societies live. It's time to recognize
that if we are serious about the values of equality that we claim to be
the core of our politics, we must scale back the level at which we live.

In other words: No reduction in First World consumption, no justice; and
no justice, no peace.

Put simply: One cannot be a serious peace activist without putting peace
in the context of justice and sustainability, and the
high-energy/high-tech lifestyle of the First World is not sustainable and
not compatible with the demands of justice. Meaningful peace requires real
justice, which means we must learn to live with less.

We could start to move toward the changes necessary by applying a "Golden
Rule" of consumption. Working from the common moral principle that we
should follow a path based on rules that we would be willing to apply to
all (and some version of this Golden Rule exists in all ethical and
theological systems), we could begin with this: Consume at a level that,
if applied throughout the world, would allow all people a decent life
consistent with long-term sustainability. That doesn't prescribe a
destination but suggests a direction; instead of anyone sanctimoniously
dictating a specific lifestyle, we can collectively recognize that we must
move toward living lower on the food chain, using far less energy,
consuming far fewer of the planet's limited resources, generating far less
toxic waste. (For a more detailed exploration of this argument, see "What
is a moral level of consumption?"

While some might see this as a sacrifice - and in some sense, of course,
we will have to give up material things that we have come to rely on and
enjoy - this moment in history also provides us with a chance to redefine
what it means to live a good life. Rather than accept the mad scramble to
accumulate goods and insulate ourselves from the natural world - the good
life as defined in a consumer capitalist society awash in high-tech toys
and mass-mediated entertainment - we can reorient ourselves toward the
traditional definition of a good life in terms of community and connection
with others, service and sacrifice for others, and a deeper sense of
meaning for ourselves.

Eloquent calls for peace are easy to make from the material comfort of the
First World. Moving beyond that to a demand for meaningful justice gets us
closer to the goal. A commitment to moving toward a sustainable level of
consumption should be at the core of this work. It will be a struggle, of
course, often confusing and sometimes painful. But we can remember that
there is joy in the struggle for a better world, which is always at the
same time a struggle to become more fully human.

 Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at
Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center His latest book is Getting Off: Pornography
and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007). Jensen is also the author of
The Heart of Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege and Citizens of
the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (both from City Lights
Books); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the
Mainstream (Peter Lang). He can be reached at rjensen [at]
and his articles can be found online at

--------17 of 18--------

A Bankrupt Superpower
The Collapse of American Power
March 18, 2008

In his famous book, The Collapse of British Power (1972), Correlli Barnett
reports that in the opening days of World War II Great Britain only had
enough gold and foreign exchange to finance war expenditures for a few
months. The British turned to the Americans to finance their ability to
wage war. Barnett writes that this dependency signaled the end of British

From their inception, America's 21st century wars against Afghanistan and
Iraq have been red ink wars financed by foreigners, principally the
Chinese and Japanese, who purchase the US Treasury bonds that the US
government issues to finance its red ink budgets.

The Bush administration forecasts a $410 billion federal budget deficit
for this year, an indication that, as the US saving rate is approximately
zero, the US is not only dependent on foreigners to finance its wars but
also dependent on foreigners to finance part of the US government's
domestic expenditures. Foreign borrowing is paying US government
salaries - perhaps that of the President himself - or funding the
expenditures of the various cabinet departments. Financially, the US is
not an independent country.

The Bush administration's $410 billion deficit forecast is based on the
unrealistic assumption of 2.7% GDP growth in 2008, whereas in actual fact
the US economy has fallen into a recession that could be severe. There
will be no 2.7% growth, and the actual deficit will be substantially
larger than $410 billion.

Just as the government's budget is in disarray, so is the US dollar which
continues to decline in value in relation to other currencies. The dollar
is under pressure not only from budget deficits, but also from very large
trade deficits and from inflation expectations resulting from the Federal
Reserve's effort to stabilize the very troubled financial system with
large injections of liquidity.

A troubled currency and financial system and large budget and trade
deficits do not present an attractive face to creditors. Yet Washington in
its hubris seems to believe that the US can forever rely on the Chinese,
Japanese and Saudis to finance America's life beyond its means. Imagine
the shock when the day arrives that a US Treasury auction of new debt
instruments is not fully subscribed.

The US has squandered $500 billion dollars on a war that serves no
American purpose. Moreover, the $500 billion is only the out-of-pocket
costs. It does not include the replacement cost of the destroyed
equipment, the future costs of care for veterans, the cost of the
interests on the loans that have financed the war, or the lost US GDP from
diverting scarce resources to war. Experts who are not part of the
government's spin machine estimate the cost of the Iraq war to be as much
as $3 trillion.

The Republican candidate for President said he would be content to
continue the war for 100 years. With what resources? When America's
creditors consider our behavior they see total fiscal irresponsibility.
They see a deluded country that acts as if it is a privilege for
foreigners to lend to it, and a deluded country that believes that
foreigners will continue to accumulate US debt until the end of time.

The fact of the matter is that the US is bankrupt. David M. Walker,
Comptroller General of the US and head of the Government Accountability
Office, in his December 17, 2007, report to the US Congress on the
financial statements of the US government noted that "the federal
government did not maintain effective internal control over financial
reporting (including safeguarding assets) and compliance with significant
laws and regulations as of September 30, 2007." In everyday language, the
US government cannot pass an audit.

Moreover, the GAO report pointed out that the accrued liabilities of the
federal government "totaled approximately $53 trillion as of September 30,
2007." No funds have been set aside against this mind boggling liability.

Just so the reader understands, $53 trillion is $53,000 billion.

Frustrated by speaking to deaf ears, Walker recently resigned as head of
the Government Accountability Office.

As of March 17, 2008, one Swiss franc is worth more than $1 dollar. In
1970, the exchange rate was 4.2 Swiss francs to the dollar. In 1970, $1
purchased 360 Japanese yen. Today $1 dollar purchases less than 100 yen.

If you were a creditor, would you want to hold debt in a currency that has
such a poor record against the currency of a small island country that was
nuked and defeated in WW II, or against a small landlocked European
country that clings to its independence and is not a member of the EU?

Would you want to hold the debt of a country whose imports exceed its
industrial production? According to the latest US statistics as reported
in the February 28 issue of Manufacturing and Technology News, in 2007
imports were 14 percent of US GDP and US manufacturing comprised 12% of US
GDP. A country whose imports exceed its industrial production cannot close
its trade deficit by exporting more.

The dollar has even collapsed in value against the euro, the currency of a
make-believe country that does not exist: the European Union. France,
Germany, Italy, England and the other members of the EU still exist as
sovereign nations. England even retains its own currency. Yet the euro
hits new highs daily against the dollar.

Noam Chomsky recently wrote that America thinks that it owns the world.
That is definitely the view of the neoconized Bush administration. But the
fact of the matter is that the US owes the world. The US "superpower"
cannot even finance its own domestic operations, much less its gratuitous
wars except via the kindness of foreigners to lend it money that cannot be

The US will never repay the loans. The American economy has been
devastated by offshoring, by foreign competition, and by the importation
of foreigners on work visas, while it holds to a free trade ideology that
benefits corporate fat cats and shareholders at the expense of American
labor. The dollar is failing in its role as reserve currency and will soon
be abandoned.

When the dollar ceases to be the reserve currency, the US will no longer
be able to pay its bills by borrowing more from foreigners.

I sometimes wonder if the bankrupt "superpower" will be able to scrape
together the resources to bring home the troops stationed in its hundreds
of bases overseas, or whether they will just be abandoned.

["Hey, Frank, how are we getting home?" "Beats me Fred - maybe we swim?"]

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan
administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal
editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor
of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:
PaulCraigRoberts [at]

--------18 of 18--------

Latin America rejects Bush Doctrine     [Up yours, W!]
By Federico Fuentes
March 18, 2008
Federico Fuentes's ZSpace Page

(Caracas, 14 March 2008) Reeling from the blow that it received in the
aftermath of the Colombian military's illegal incursion on March 1 into
Ecuador - which resulted in the brutal massacre of a number of civilians
and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC),
including its chief negotiator Raul Reyes - US imperialism has once again
raised the ante in its struggle to undermine the growing process of Latin
American integration.

Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution, led by President Hugo Chavez whose
government is spearheading the push to unite Latin American nations to
counter US domination, is being specifically targeted.

"The region is facing an increasingly stark choice: to quietly accept the
vision of the terrorists and the demagogues, or to actively support
democratic leaders", US President George Bush stated on March 12. Bush
said his government was studying whether or not Venezuela should be added
to its list of countries that "sponsor terrorism".

In Washington's Orwellian world view - where war is peace and elected
leaders are dictators - his comments were aimed at Venezuela's
democratically-elected government that is offering its services to assist
with a negotiated peaceful solution to Colombia's more than four
decade-long civil war.

Venezuela's representative in the Organization of American States (OAS),
Jorge Valero, hit back that same day, calling the US government "the
terrorist government par excellence".

Valero argued it was "an absolutely stupid thing to say from the
government of Mr Bush - that practices state terrorism, that has invaded
Iraq and Afghanistan without respect for international law, that commits
genocidal practices in various parts of the world, that has invaded Latin
American and Caribbean countries ."

Having viewed Latin America as its own backyard for decades, Washington is
becoming increasingly concerned about developments south of its border.
Its biggest headache is Venezuela, whose government has been making
important headway in bring together governments of Latin America, as well
as undermining capitalism inside Venezuela.

Washington has waged a constant public campaign (similar to its campaign
against Iraq before the invasion) attempting to link Venezuela with
narcotrafficking, terrorism, promoting an arms race, money laundering and
threats to regional security.

US-Venezuelan lawyer Eva Golinger argued on the Venezuelan TV show La
Hojilla that this campaign is aimed at containing Chavez's influence and
undermining Latin American integration - a process aided by the election
of a number of governments that, to varying degrees, have proven willing
to exercise independence from Washington and pursue closer regional

For Dario Azzellini, author of several books about US military
intervention into the region, Colombia's illegal cross-border attack
(publicly supported by the US government, which funds and arms the
Colombian military) was the first step in carrying out more serious
military infractions across its border in order to provoke a response from
Venezuela and lay the blame for the subsequent conflict at their feet.

"Their aim is to create massive destabilisation in a region where Colombia
would play a similar role to that of Israel in the Middle East", Azzellini
told Green Left Weekly.

"The Colombian government said that they had the coordinates of Reyes
whereabouts for month, during which we can suppose that he moved between
Colombian, Venezuelan and Ecuadorian territory as part of the current
negotiations by the FARC in releasing prisoners. So the question is why
did they choose to carry it out in Ecuador?

"It was a test, they wanted to do it in Ecuadorian territory and not in
Venezuela to see what the international reaction would be."

Luis Bilbao, director of Latin American magazine America XXI, told GLW US
imperialism had two aims in mind with Colombia's attack (which was clearly
coordinated with the US) - put a halt to the hopes for humanitarian accord
with the FARC, who only days before had released four prisoners
unilaterally, and sabotage the growing South American convergence.

Finding a political solution to Colombia's current conflict is a danger to
Washington, which has used it as justification to build up their military
presence in Colombia. This is why the issue of peace in Colombia is so
closely intertwined with the process of Latin American integration.

Colombia's attack came just days before global protests in favour of a
peaceful solution to Colombia's civil war and against state and
paramilitary violence, which targets political activists, with more trade
unionists killed in Colombia every year than any other country. On March
6, hundreds of thousands marched across Colombia, defying threats of
reprisals from paramilitaries.

Associated Press reported on March 14 that six organisers of the march had
been murdered, and two dozen more received death threats from the Black
Eagles death squad.

Moreover, Bilbao pointed out that in the immediate aftermath of this
event, it seemed unthinkable that the meeting of the South American
Community of Nations (Unasur, formed in April 2002 with the aim of
creating a European Union-style body across South America) that had been
scheduled to take place in Colombia at the end of the month could have
gone ahead.

Such a turn of events would suit Washington, as the development of Unasur
threatens the ability of the US to exert its control over the region on
behalf of US corporate interests.

Bilbao argued that the action was nonetheless a big mistake on the part of
Colombia. Bilbao argued that "they didn't attack Venezuela", as Venezuelan
foreign minister Nicolas Maduro had stated Venezuela expected, "because of
the firm stance that Venezuela has taken and instead attacked Ecuador
expecting a timid response - setting a precedent for further repeat
actions in Ecuador and to extend this to Venezuela".

However the firm stance by both Ecuador and Venezuela - both of whose
governments broke diplomatic ties and moved troops to their Colombian
borders - put Colombia on the back foot.

In fact, rather than reverse the trend towards integration, the response
to Colombia's attack could mark an important regional realignment -
assisting the process of regional integration.

The most significant event was the summit of the Group of Rio held on
March 6 and 7. Televised live across the whole continent, representatives
of all Latin American governments debated the issue without the presence
of the US government.

After a fiery debate, the meeting came to a unanimous decision to reject
the actions of the Colombian government and any further violation of the
sovereignty of another country. Crucially, the vote was a rejection of the
doctrine of "preventive war" that the US has pushed since the September
11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Ecuador and Colombia are pushing for the March 17 meeting of the OAS (of
which the US is a member) to ratify the Group of Rio's motion. Ecuadorian
President Rafael Correa has stated bluntly that if the OAS meeting did not
condemn the aggression, that it should be thrown "in the dustbin of

Arguing that it would be "difficult for the US government to oppose such a
resolution", Valero asserted that "I don't believe the United States has
sufficient strength to crush the will of the Rio Group countries".


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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                                Up yours W!

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