|Progressive Calendar 04.18.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2008 20:24:21 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 04.18.08 1. NOW/immigrants 4.19 8:30am FergusFalls MN 2. Choice 4.19 8:30am 3. EarthDay/FarmMkt 4.19 10am 4. MPIRG issues 4.19 10am 5. End of empire/f 4.19 10:30am 6. NWN4P Mkta 4.19 11am 7. Free plants 4.19 11am 8. Homeless out? 4.19 12noon 9. Env action 4.19 1pm 10. Northtown vigil 4.19 2pm 11. Energy problem 4.19 2pm 12. Palestine 4.19 5pm 13. Peace site 4.19 6pm 14. Cuba/Mexico/CTV 4.19 9pm 15. Robert Weissman - Philip Morris' new plans to spread death and disease 16. John Ross - Losing Latin America: the Bush legacy 17. James Petras - Venezuela: democracy, socialism and imperialism pt1 --------1 of 17-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: NOW/immigrants 4.19 8:30am FergusFalls MN Saturday, April 19: Minnesota NOW. Annual State Conference: Immigrant Women - Then & NOW. AmericInn, 526 Western Avenue, Fergus Falls. 8:30 AM-4 PM. Morning Keynote Address: A History of Immigration in Otter Tail County by Melissa Hermes, Otter Tail County Historical Society Education Coordinator. Afternoon Keynote Address: Immigrants in a Small Community with Joan Jarvis Ellison, freelance writer, graduate degree in biophysical sciences & works with the immigrant community in Pelican Rapids. $15-$50. More info: 651/222-1605. --------2 of 17-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: Choice 4.19 8:30am April 19: Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. "Keeping It Real", a Faith Based Model for Teen Dialogue on Sex & Sexuality Facilitator Training. 8:30 AM-4:30 PM at the Minnesota Women's Building, St. Paul. Free. Continental Breakfast & lunch are provided. More info. --------3 of 17-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: EarthDay/FarmMkt 4.19 10am Meet the farmers who grow the foods you love! To celebrate Earth Day, Farm in the Market will have these farmers/producers in store & doing sampling/ demos on Saturday April 19th: 10:00 - 4:00pm: *Dave & Florence Minar - Cedar Summit Dairy *Jim & LeAnn VanDerPol - Pastures A' Plenty pork *Todd Lien - Thousand hills Cattle Co. *Larry Schultz- Schultz organic eggs & chicken *Alan Callister - Callister Farm *Catherin Friend & Melissa Peteler - Rising Moon lamb *Representative of - Hope Creamery *Joe Sherman - Northern Lights Foods - Blue cheese *Steven Reed - Shepherds Way - cheese *Sandy Hall - Talking Oak Farm - Honey *Doris Schleusner - Nanny Pops pop corn *Star Prairie Trout *Brad Donnay - Donnay cheese *North Star Bison *Laurie McCann ? Golden Fig *Venison America FITM will also have representatives on hand from Slow Food Minnesota and The Land Stewardship Project to discuss public policy, connecting to local producers of good, clean, fair food and what you can do to help support the local foods initiative. Farm in the Market will be sponsoring cooking demos throughout the day. We are honored to have three of the Twin Cities best chefs who are well known for promoting and supporting small local farmers. They are: *Jenny Breen is a professional chef and nutrition educator in the Twin Cities. She has been working with issues of local sustainable food for over 20 years and is also working to develop more access to healthy food and nutrition education for all people. She also co-owns one of the only sustainable and green catering companies in the Midwest. She also teaches classes at the MN Landscape Arboretum. *Ken Goff is best known for his Upper Midwest regional cuisine style of cooking. He was chef at The Dakota Bar & Grill for many years, currently chef/instructor at the LeCordon Bleu culinary school in Minneapolis. His talents have been recognized in publications such as: Gourmet, Cook's and The New York Times. Ken is actively involved in the local foods movement through Slow Food Minnesota and other non profit agencies. *Lucia Watson has owned and operated her very popular and successful, Lucia?s in the Uptown area of Minneapolis for nearly 25 years. She is a pioneer in supporting small local farmers. Cooking schedule: 10:00 - noon: Jenny Breen Noon - 2:00: Ken Goff 2:00 - 4:00: Lucia Watson Farm in the Market is owned by farmers Alan and Lori Callister of West Concord, MN. and their partner George Seebach of Minneapolis. The store sells over 700 locally grown products from over 70 farms. We are located in the Midtown Global Market at 920 E. Lake St. Minneapolis, MN. 612-870-2908 Wayne Martin Coordinator Alternative Livestock Systems Program Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) University of Minnesota 385 AnSc/VetMed Bldg, 1988 Fitch Ave St Paul, MN 55108 (O)612-625-6224 Fax 612-625-1210 --------4 of 17-------- From: Jennifer Nguyen <jnguyen [at] mpirg.org> Subject: MPIRG issues 4.19 10am Come and let your voice be heard at the Issues & Actions event brought to you by MPIRG (Minnesota Public Interest Research Group). Issues & Actions Mississippi Room (3rd floor) in Coffman Memorial Union, (Minneapolis) University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Saturday April 19, 2008 from 10:00am to 3:00pm MPIRG is choosing our new campaigns and strategies for the next year and we would like you to be a part of it. There will be a presentation of the proposals, Q&A, discussion and voting. Proposals range from environmental consciousness, affordable housing, human rights, etc. We'd love to hear what you have to say. MPIRG is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization established in 1971 at the University of Minnesota. We have been working on environmental and social justice issues. Our mission is to empower youth and to make substantial changes towards erasing social injustices. --------5 of 17-------- From: Leslie Reindl <alteravista [at] usfamily.net> Subject: End of empire/f 4.19 10:30am WHAT A WAY TO GO: LIFE AT THE END OF EMPIRE, written and directed by Tim Bennett http://www.whatawaytogomovie.com/ FREE Saturday, April 19, 10:30am-1:30pm. Merriam Park Library, downstairs. Corner of Fairview and Marshall in St. Paul. Easy to get to by bus. Street parking. Come one, come all. 'elicit the choir to gather others. - As someone said, the "Choir" is getting bigger. Here is an opportunity for people to see a DVD that gives information about real dire possibility in the near future - grim as it may seem, or as filled with possibility as it may seem. It is time to look. To wake up to the plight of Earth and her inhabitants. It is time to stop pretending that the Earth has infinite capacity to withstand the ignorance of the human species. Persuade someone, who is teetering on the edge of waking up, TO WAKE UP! Send this announcement to people whom you think might benefit from its message. Bring your own refreshments; we will have some sustenance there, like chocolate, cookies, tea. Presented by Wilderness Connections, Inc. --------6 of 17-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NWN4P Mkta 4.19 11am NWN4P-Minnetonka demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, at Hwy. 7 and 101. Park in the Target Greatland lot; meet near the fountain. We will walk along the public sidewalk. Signs available. -------7 of 17--------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Free plants 4.19 11am Youth Farm Perennial Give Away! *Asters *Yarrow *Echanatia Many more perennials to be identified! Saturday April 19th, 11-3pm Baha'i Center, the middle of the block between 36th street and 37th street on Chicago Avenue. Come dig out a few perennials for your garden. Bring a shovel (some will be provided) and a way to transport your new plants (garbage bag, planting pot, bucket). Feel free to hang around and help us dig up our beds or chat about the lovely spring. --------8 of 17-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com> Subject: Homeless out? 4.19 12noon HOMELESS PEOPLE UNDER ATTACK! TIME TO FIGHT BACK! EMERGENCY PLANNING MEETING: Saturday, April 19 12:00 noon Walker Church 3100 16th Ave S, Minneapolis Minneapolis is seeking a quick way to push homeless people out of the area of the new stadium and they're using the License Division to do the hatchet job. A hearing is scheduled on April 25th on renewal of permits for facilities that serve homeless in the area. The city claims there are problems with "security" but what we've seen from over a year of concentrated copwatch in that area is that police routinely rough up, search and arrest people on false charges. If there's any kind of a security issue, it's that homeless and poor people are not secure from police brutality! Join CUAPB and others at an emergency meeting to develop plans to stop the routing of homeless out of the new stadium area. We understand that people have issues with some of the shelter providers and how some have made their money off the backs of the homeless. This is not an effort to support particular providers. It is an effort to demand that space currently being used to serve the needs of homeless people not be taken over as "prime real estate" for bars, parking and other "stadium needs." Let's make it clear to the city: THE PROBLEM IS HOMELESSNESS, NOT THE HOMELESS! SHELTER FOUNDER: HOMERS VS. HOMELESS? By STEVE BRANDT, Star Tribune April 11, 2008 http://www.startribune.com/local/17460274.html?page=2&c=y Saying God is on her side, Sharing and Caring Hands founder Mary Jo Copeland said Thursday that Minneapolis officials are trying to drive the homeless people she serves away from the Twins ballpark rising nearby. But city licensing officials say they've held up the license Copeland needs to serve meals because she has resisted their entreaties to put in place a security plan to reduce drug dealing and other problems. Copeland runs a family housing shelter and drop-in meals and other programs virtually across N. 7th Street from the new ballpark. The facility's license is one of thousands up for renewal by the city; an April 25 meeting is scheduled. She launched a pre-emptive strike with a Bible-quoting news conference Thursday to denounce the city. She said she's willing to abide by reasonable requirements. "I don't go into people's meetings if I know they're going to harass me," she said, before ending the conference with the "Hail Mary." The city takes the issue seriously enough that Mayor R.T. Rybak met with Copeland a year ago, but did not resolve the issue. "They were having trouble getting through to her," said Rybak spokesman Jeremy Hanson. "She once told him that when he's going against her, he's going against God." "They came in almost like Gestapo," said Dick Copeland, Mary Jo's husband. "The truth is they don't want us here." The need for land near transportation and people has drawn both sports and homeless facilities to the fringes of downtown. People Serving People's family shelter sits two blocks from the Metrodome, and a cluster of shelters and more permanent housing for the homeless sit as close as a block from the Target Center. In St. Paul, Catholic Charities operates Dorothy Day Center for homeless people across from Xcel Center. None of the others reported problems with the city. "Absolutely not," said Rebecca Lentz, spokeswoman for Catholic Charities, which runs a 250-mat shelter a block from Target Center on Currie Avenue. "We have a good working relationship with Target Center and the Timberwolves," said Bill Miller, who runs Salvation Army's Harbor Light, which offers programs for homeless people, also on Currie. At People Serving People, two blocks from the Metrodome, the Twins donate tickets for an annual fundraiser, and for kids to attend games. But there are "serious security issues" at Sharing and Caring Hands, reported Ricardo Cervantes, the city's deputy director for licenses and consumer services. "Sharing and Caring hands has been on my radar since I walked in the door," said Cervantes, who has held his post for three years. Problems include illicit drugs, disorderly conduct, loitering and public nuisance infractions, he said. Police made 17 arrests at Sharing and Caring Hands for drug offenses in 2006 after making undercover buys of marijuana and crack cocaine. Cervantes told of watching one young man go in and out of the center, then roll a marijuana joint; when questioned by an accompanying officer, he pulled out an ID and sex offender papers. The city is holding people accountable for their behavior, said Don Samuels, the area's council member. "Should a place that serves the poor and homeless be guaranteed an exemption?" he asked. "I don't think we should do that because these strategies were designed to keep people safe, and who should be kept more safe than the vulnerable?" Dick Copeland showed off the 17 cameras at Sharing and Caring Hands that are monitored by one of three security workers. He said the facility has a security plan; it's just not written. The family shelter has a controlled entrance. He said the city didn't give the Copelands much help after his wife began operations nearby in 1985. He said that city pressure stepped up in spring 2007, just before ballpark construction began. "All of the sudden the city's concerned we're not doing this right," Copeland said. But Cervantes said that the city took action only after years of having Copeland ignore requests. The Copelands don't blame the Twins. The team has donated posters and also clothing collected from players and their families as they pack up after the season, according to Kevin Smith, the Twins' executive director of public affairs. "Mary's Place and Sharing and Caring Hands are as much a part of Twins Territory as any place," he said, using a team marketing term. The team also has talked to Salvation Army representatives about employing some of its residents in concession and other ballpark jobs, said team official Bryan Donaldson, who serves on the advisory board for Harbor Light. "We know the neighborhood we're moving into," he said. Copeland said her facility is the safest place in the city and said she's praying for a change of heart by city officials. But she claimed a trump card: "The power of almighty God runs this city." Steve Brandt 612-673-4438 [And odds are there is some big buck biz that wants that spot cleared out so they can build. Odds are too that that biz is *real* friendly with important Mpls officials. If in doubt, bet on corruption from top to bottom. It's how the rich get and stay rich. -ed] --------9 of 17-------- From: Human Rights Center Development Desk <hrcfund [at] umn.edu> Subject: Env action 4.19 1pm April 19, 2008 - Chalchiutlicue: Environmental Action Training. Time: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.. Cost: Free. Adults, youth, parents and grandparents, come and spend some time learning and doing fun activities that improve our environment. Make your own cleaning products to take home, increase your recycling know how, reduce your weekly garbage drop. Learn how to talk to friends and neighbors about what we can do protect our environment. The Chalchiutlicue Environmental Action Training will build skills to share knowledge about what is happening in our earth, water and air, and what we can do to restore the balance. To register or for more information please call: (612) 370 - 4960 This new program is offered in collaboration with Ce Tempoxcalli, Powderhorn Park and greenguardian.com, a Community Power Grant from Solid Waste Management Coordination Board with additional support from the Headwaters Foundation. The program is free and open to adults, youth and adult-accompanied children. Location: Powderhorn Park Recreation Center, Minneapolis, MN --------10 of 17-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 4.19 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------11 of 17-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Energy problem 4.19 2pm Forum - The Energy Problem: Choices for an Uncertain Future April 19, 2008, 2:00-3:30 p.m. East Lake Public Library, 2727 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, Minnesota Contact: Melinda Ludwiczak, Phone: 612-630-6246, E-mail: mludwiczak [at] hclib.org This will be a citizen-based discussion that seeks to come to an agreement on how to address the energy problem. Join skilled facilitators for a deliberative discussion based on the National Issues Forums model that invites people to consider the following approaches: Approach #1: Reduce our dependence on foreign energy and make all possible use of domestic energy sources, Approach #2: Get out of the fossil-fuel predicament and get serious about developing alternative energy sources such as wind farms and solar power, and Approach #3: Curb our appetite and reduce our demand for energy. Participants need only an interest in the topic and a commitment to discussing possible solutions. Pick up an eight-page printed discussion guide at East Lake Library or click here to access and print out the discussion guide. --------12 of 17-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Palestine 4.19 5pm Saturday, 4/19, 5 to 8 pm, Palestine Day at Columbia Heights High School, with art/food/refreshments, 1440 - 49th Ave NE, Columbia Heights. $5 or $25 per family. info [at] aqsamn.org or 612-986-9982. --------13 of 17-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Peace site 4.19 6pm Saturday, 4/19, 6 pm, Peace Site dedication and concert, Basilica of St Mary, between 16th and 17th Streets on Hennepin Ave, Mpls. http://www.mary.org --------14 of 17-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Cuba/Mexico/CTV 4.19 9pm Sat, 4/19, 9pm and Tues, 4/22, 8am "Thinking Outside the Borders" Interview of Patrick Leet, an American activist who shares insights from his recent years living in Cuba and Mexico. Hosted by Karen Redleaf. (repeat) --------15 of 17-------- [Here, unadorned, is how the ruling class *really* operates. It's where most of the world's misery poverty war etc come from, have always come from, and will always come from until we the people boot them out and institute democracy equality socialism. The rich as a class suck; but they pay lots of good money to put lipstick on their snouts and rare-skin shoes on their cloven feet, so they don't *look* like swine. -ed] Philip Morris International Commences New Plans to Spread Death andDisease by Robert Weissman / April 15th, 2008 Philip Morris International today starts business as an independent company, no longer affiliated with Philip Morris USA or the parent company, Altria. Philip Morris USA will sell Marlboro and other cigarettes in the United States. Philip Morris International will trample over the rest of the world. Public health advocates have worried and speculated over the past year about what this move may mean, but Philip Morris International has now removed all doubts. The world is about to meet a Philip Morris International that will be even more predatory in pushing its toxic products worldwide. The new Philip Morris International will be unconstrained by public opinion in the United States . the home country and largest market of the old, unified Philip Morris . and will no longer fear lawsuits in the United States. As a result, Thomas Russo of the investment fund Gardner Russo & Gardner tells Bloomberg, the company .won.t have to worry about getting pre-approval from the U.S. for things that are perfectly acceptable in foreign markets.. Russo.s firm owns 5.7 million shares of Altria and now Philip Morris International. A commentator for The Motley Fool investment advice service writes, .the Marlboro Man is finally free to roam the globe unfettered by the legal and marketing shackles of the U.S. domestic market.. In February, the World Health Organization issued a new report on the global tobacco epidemic. WHO estimates the Big Tobacco-fueled epidemic now kills more than 5 million people every year. Five million people. By 2030, WHO estimates 8 million will die a year from tobacco-related disease, 80 percent in the developing world. The WHO report emphasizes that known and proven public health policies can dramatically reduce smoking rates. These policies include indoor smoke-free policies; bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; heightened taxes; effective warnings; and cessation programs. These .strategies are within the reach of every country, rich or poor and, when combined as a package, offer us the best chance of reversing this growing epidemic,. says WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. Most countries have failed to adopt these policies, thanks in no small part to decades-long efforts by Philip Morris and the rest of Big Tobacco to deploy political power to block public health initiatives. Thanks to the momentum surrounding a global tobacco treaty, known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, adopted in 2005, this is starting to change. There.s a long way to go, but countries are increasingly adopting sound public health measures to combat Big Tobacco. Now Philip Morris International has signaled its initial plans to subvert these policies. The company has announced plans to inflict on the world an array of new products, packages and marketing efforts. These are designed to undermine smoke-free workplace rules, defeat tobacco taxes, segment markets with specially flavored products, offer flavored cigarettes sure to appeal to youth, and overcome marketing restrictions. The Chief Operating Officer of Philip Morris International, Andre Calantzopoulos, detailed in a March investor presentation two new products, Marlboro Wides, .a shorter cigarette with a wider diameter,.and Marlboro Intense, .a rich, flavorful, shorter cigarette.. Sounds innocent enough, as far as these things go. That.s only to the innocent mind. The Wall Street Journal reported on Philip Morris International.s underlying objective: .The idea behind Intense is to appeal to customers who, due to indoor smoking bans, want to dash outside for a quick nicotine hit but don.t always finish a full-size cigarette.. Workplace and indoor smoke-free rules protect people from second-hand smoke, but also make it harder for smokers to smoke. The inconvenience (and stigma of needing to leave the office or restaurant to smoke) helps smokers smoke less and, often, quit. Subverting smoke-free bans will damage an important tool to reduce smoking. Philip Morris International says it can adapt to high taxes. If applied per pack (or per cigarette), rather than as a percentage of price, high taxes more severely impact low-priced brands (and can help shift smokers to premium brands like Marlboro). But taxes based on price hurt Philip Morris International. Philip Morris International.s response? .Other Tobacco Products,. which Calantzopoulos describes as .tax-driven substitutes for low-price cigarettes.. These include, says Calantzopoulos, .the .tobacco block,.which I would describe as the perfect make-your-own cigarette device.. In Germany, roll-your-own cigarettes are taxed far less than manufactured cigarettes, and Philip Morris International.s .tobacco block. is rapidly gaining market share. One of the great industry deceptions over the last several decades is selling cigarettes called .lights. (as in Marlboro Lights), .low.or .mild. . all designed to deceive smokers into thinking they are safer. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control says these inherently misleading terms should be barred. Like other companies in this regard, Philip Morris has been moving to replace the names with color coding . aiming to convey the same ideas, without the now-controversial terms. Calantzopoulos says Philip Morris International will work to more clearly differentiate Marlboro Gold (lights) from Marlboro Red (traditional) to .increase their appeal to consumer groups and segments that Marlboro has not traditionally addressed.. Another, related initiative is Marlboro Filter Plus, which claims to reduce tar levels. First launched in Korea, in 2006, Calantzopoulos says it has recorded .an impressive 22 percent share. among what the company designates as .Young Adult Smokers.. Philip Morris International also is unrolling a range of new Marlboro products with obvious attraction for youth. These include Marlboro Ice Mint, Marlboro Crisp Mint and Marlboro Fresh Mint, introduced into Japan and Hong Kong last year. It is exporting clove products from Indonesia. Responding to increasing advertising restrictions and large, pictorial warnings required on packs, Marlboro is focusing increased attention on packaging. Fancy slide packs make the package more of a marketing device than ever before, and may be able to obscure warning labels. Most worrisome of all may be the company.s forays into China, the biggest cigarette market in the world, which has largely been closed to foreign multinationals. Philip Morris International has hooked up with the China National Tobacco Company, which controls sales in China. Philip Morris International will sell Chinese brands in Europe. Much more importantly, licensed versions of Marlboro are expected to be available in China starting this summer. The Chinese aren.t letting Philip Morris International in quickly . Calantzopoulos says .we do not foresee a material impact on our volume and profitability in the near future.. But, he adds, .we believe this long-term strategic cooperation will prove to be mutually beneficial and form the foundation for strong long-term growth.. What does long-term growth mean? In part, it means gaining market share among China.s 350 million smokers. But it also means expanding the market, by selling to girls and women. About 60 percent of men in China smoke; only 2 or 3 percent of women do so. The global vilification of Big Tobacco over the last decade and a half is one of the world.s great public health stories. Directly connected to that vilification has been a reduction in smoking, and adoption of life-saving policies that will avert millions of deaths. Yet here comes Philip Morris International, now the world.s largest nongovernmental tobacco company. It is permitted to break off from Altria with no regulatory restraint. It proceeds to announce plans to subvert the public health policies that offer the best hope for reducing the toll of tobacco-related death and disease. The markets applaud, governments are mute. What an extraordinary commentary on the political and ideological potency of the multinational corporation . and the idea that corporations should presumptively be free to do what they want, with only the most minimal of restraints. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, and director of Essential Action. Copyright 2007 Robert Weissman Read other articles by Robert, or visit Robert's website. This article was posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2008 at 4:59 am and is filed under Consumer Advocacy, Drug Wars, Health/Medical. Send to a friend. --------16 of 17-------- Losing Latin America ... All the Way to Tierra del Fuego [huzzah!] The Bush Legacy By JOHN ROSS CounterPunch Apri1 18, 2008 Mexico City. For George Bush, the March 1 anti-terror strike by the Colombian air force under U.S. guidance on a FARC guerrilla camp deep in the Ecuadorian jungle had everything to do with legacy. During eight years in the White House, Bush's war on Iraq so absorbed his attention that for once in three centuries of Yanqui hegemony, Latin America has breathing room to shore up common defenses against the Colossus of the North, build alliances, as the pendulum swings left from neoliberalism, and even elect some social democratic presidents. "We're back!" U.S. Undersecretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Tom Shannon greeted the crowd at the Council of the Americas in New York on April 2, signaling renewed Bush government interest in the Western Hemisphere. Not that the U.S. had ever really been away: "Our influence is not diminishing - it's just changing," the undersecretary argued before his well-heeled audience, most with serious fiduciary interests south of the border. Shannon conceded that the administration's temporary inattention had created a vacuum that "offered an enormous opportunity to articulate one vision" - a long-winded euphemism for the hated Hugo Chavez. But now Chavez's space was "shrinking," and with Colombia (the key U.S. proxy on the continent), Brazil (neutered by Lula's ambition), Peru, Chile and Mexico back on board, "together we can overcome our recent history." What seemed most significant on Shannon's shopping list of new and old accomplices were the absences: Argentina, for example, the third largest economy in Latin America and an important player in the southern continent's tilt to the left, where Peronist Social Democrat Cristina Fernndez de Kirchner succeeds her Social Democrat husband Nestor. The Kirchners have been in the Bush doghouse since they helped torpedo his neoliberal pipedream ALCA (Free Trade Treaty of the Americas) at a 2005 Summit of the Americas in Mar de Plata. To complicate Cristina Kirchner's investiture, U.S. authorities in Miami and Washington charged that the dreaded Chavez had financed her campaign. The scenario was a twisted one. On the eve of Cristina's inauguration last November, Argentinean customs agents in Buenos Aires confiscated $800,000 from a Venezuelan "businessman" living in Florida, Guido Antonini Wilson. The ultimate destination of the money was obscure. Although the investigation into the origins of the boodle was strictly within Argentinean jurisdiction, FBI agents in Miami promptly arrested four Venezuelans suspected to have been involved in the affair for failure to register as Chavez's agents. Wilson himself was not indicted, having worn an FBI wire in order to implicate the others. Despite the lack of credible evidence, the story that Washington is broadcasting to the continent is that Hugo Chavez, the Saddam of South America, bought the Argentine presidency for Cristina Kirchner. "We're back!" Tom Shannon declared, and Cristina Kirchner's first 100 days were troubled by mischief that had a distinctly made-in-U.S.A. whiff. As the 32nd anniversary of the installation of the military junta - that set off years of dirty war in which as many as 30,000 Argentinean leftists disappeared - approached, agribusiness tycoons, miffed at a 9 per cent tax Kirchner had slapped on soaring soy exports, hired armies of goons to block the nation's highways and shut down commercial traffic in and out of Argentina. The shelves of Buenos Aires supermarkets quickly went bare. Thirty two years ago, according to an account by the Argentinean journalist Stella Callone, one of the organizers of the lockout, Sociedad Rural (Rural Society), financed the military junta that seized power on March 23, 1976. The road blockades brought back bad dreams. The 1976 coup had been preceded by a similar lockout. "Pintas" (wall slogans) were slapped on the walls of Buenos Aires: "Volvere Videla!". General Videla headed the junta. On March 23-24, 2008 the anniversary of the junta's coup, thousands of upscale housewives gathered in the Plaza de Mayo in front of the Casa Rosada, the Argentine White House, and staged a "cacerolazo" - beating on pots and pans in support of the striking tycoons. The cacerolazos brought back memories of middle class housewives' marches in Santiago that led up to the 1973 assassination of Chilean socialist President Salvador Allende, a U.S.-overseen enterprise. More recently, in Bolivia and Venezuela, the CIA's apptoach has been to encourage such mobilizations of the "gente decente" (the "decent people") against the socialist regimes of Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez. Curiously, as the cacerolazos clattered in the plazas of Buenos Aires, leaders of the Latin American right were gathered in Rosario Argentina at an "Encounter of Young Leaders," hosted by former right-wing Spanish Premier Jose Mara Aznar. Among his guests were Bolivian ex-president Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga; the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, now a Spanish citizen; and Roger Noriega who once occupied Shannon's post and was the late Jesse Helm's hatchet man in Latin America. Tuto's stay in Rosario struck a familiar chord. Well-to-do agroindustrialists in Bolivia's four breakaway eastern provinces, known collectively as the Media Luna (half moon), had been blocking roads and borders for days to protest President Evo Morales' edict banning exports of cooking oil until domestic demand was met. The secessionist provinces - Santa Cruz, Tariya, Beni, and Pando - hold much of Bolivia's natural gas wealth, the second largest such deposits in Latin America, and wield clout in Washington. Demanding autonomy from the central government, provincial leaders who represent the oligarchy and are universally white in a majority Indian nation, reject Morales' new constitution and have put Bolivia on a civil war footing. One item gaining traction in the Latin press has the bloodthirsty Colombian paramilitary AUC (Autonomous Units of Colombia) training secessionist troops for eventual hostilities. Both the Catholic Church and Bolivia's immediate neighbors seek a negotiated settlement, but the secessionists have refused talks. Across the Chaco to the east, U.S. Special Forces are garrisoned at Mariscal Estagarribia, [Paraguay, strategically positioned to keep an eye on the purportedly terrorist-ridden Triple Frontier (Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay) at Iguazu Falls, the largest fresh water reserve on the continent, and the breakaway Bolivian provinces. Much to Shannon and President Bush's consternation, Paraguay, with the deepest income divide in the southern hemisphere, may well become Latin America's latest left domino in upcoming April 20 presidential elections, as former Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo is favored to upset the Colorado Party, the longest ruling dynasty (61 years) in the Americas. On a Mexican swing last fall, Lugo insisted that if elected, he would shut down the U.S. military operation in Paraguay much as Ecuador's Rafael Correa has vowed to do with the U.S. drug war installation at Manta. The of losing bases on the Latin mainland naturally causes alarm in Washington, D.C. In a desperate maneuver to keep Lugo from the presidency, the U.S. Embassy generated alarm by charging that the Colombian FARC is operating in San Pedro, the ex-Bishop's ex-diocese. Although Lugo has advertised his support for Hillary Clinton and Venezuela's Chavez hopes that relations with the White House will improve once the present occupant has departed, a change in mindset at the Casa Blanca seems unlikely. Bush's potential successors have had little to say about the future of bilateral relations with the countries of the south. All three denounce Chavez. Republican John McCain calls him a "thug" and has promised to topple the Venezuelan strongman if elected. The White House's aggressiveness in pushing for a free-trade agreement with Colombia is payback for years of loyal service as Washington's most assiduous proxy in the region. As did Bill Clinton (still lobbying hard for it), the present commander-in-chief regards the trade agreement as a crucial matter of national security and tries to frame the debate for passage in Cold War terms: the Free Market vs. Chavez's 21st Century Socialism. Democrats who won't support the FTA are redbaited as Chavistas and supporters of narco-terrorists. But, despite the risks, many Dems are reluctant to give in on Free Trade. Big Labor has conditioned its support for the candidates on a continuing "No" vote. Just how deeply the FTA issue has contaminated Clinton's campaign was embarrassingly spotlighted by the resignation of Mark Penn as Hillary's chief advisor. The departure of Penn, chief of the powerful PR lobbyshop Burson-Marsteller, who had signed on with Colombia to lobby the Free Trade Agreement through congress despite his boss's outspoken opposition (at least in rust bowl states like Ohio and Pennsylvania) has Clinton's campaign in a tizzy. Failure to move the FTA through the U.S. Congress will put one more tear in George Bush's tattered Latin legacy. Bush desperately needs passage to validate not only his doctrine in Latin America but James Monroe's as well. But George Bush's real legacy continues to exhort the Latin masses from the balconies of Miraflores Palace in downtown Caracas. Despite eight years of foiled plots to remove Chavez from office, to fund the opposition and foment coups, and even kidnap the comandante, he remains at the helm of state, and Shannon's "shrinking space" seems delusionary. Painted by the Bushites as a totalitarian, when ambushed by a "No" vote on a cherished referendum that would have extended his stay in power, Chavez chose to accept the "No" to underscore his democratic credentials. Chavez's people are wary. "This is Bush's most dangerous moment," worries Venezuelan Communications Minister Andres Izarra. Prospects for a Bay of Pigs or Panama Deception-like invasion are still on the White House drawing board, although all sides know that such a desperate aggression would spell suicide - Venezuela provides Bush with 1.5 million barrels of black gold daily and is Washington's fourth largest supplier. Indeed, without Chavez's oil, Bush's war in Iraq would be grounded. In times of stress, President Chavez has often threatened a cutoff of U.S. shipments, his ultimate weapon. Meanwhile, threats of a new aggression by Washington may well be met by Venezuela with a demand for payment in euros and not worthless US dollars. Meanwhile, Hugo Chavez remains politically incorrect - at least in Washington's vision - financing elections of left candidates up and down the continent, underwriting Mercosur, and re-nationalizing industries that were once privatized, with zeal. Two Mexican billionaires have been recently buffeted - Lorenzo Zembrano, whose CEMEX cement conglomerate the comandante nationalized in preparation for a major housing program, and Carlos Slim, Forbes magazine's richest [although, he is not magazine's richest man, but he is richest man according to this magazine] man on earth, who last year lost the recently purchased CANTV phone company to Chavez. Arriving for a state visit in Mexico on April 11, the sixth anniversary of the failed U.S. coup against his ally Chavez, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa cautioned Washington: "I hope they understand that Latin America has changed and that change is irreversible." John Ross is in Mexico City and can be reached at johnross [at] igc.org. --------17 of 17-------- Venezuela: Democracy, Socialism and Imperialism pt1 by James Petras / April 18th, 2008 Dissident Voice Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez remains the world's leading secular, democratically elected political leader who has consistently and publicly opposed imperialist wars in the Middle East, attacked extra-territorial intervention and US and European Union complicity in kidnapping and torture. Venezuela plays the major role in sharply reducing the price of oil for the poorest countries in the Caribbean region and Central America, thus substantially aiding them in their balance of payments, without attaching any "strings" to this vital assistance. Venezuela has been in the forefront in supporting free elections and opposing human right abuses in the Middle East, Latin America and South Asia by pro-US client regimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Colombia. No other country in the Americas has done more to break down the racial barriers to social mobility and the acquisition of land for Afro-Latin and Indio Americans. President Chavez has been on the cutting edge of efforts toward greater Latin American integration - despite opposition from the United States and several regional regimes, who have opted for bilateral free trade agreements with the US. Even more significant, President Chavez is the only elected president to reverse a US backed military coup (in 48 hours), defeat a (US-backed) bosses. lockout, and return the economy to double-digit growth over the subsequent 4 years.1 President Chavez is the only elected leader in the history of Latin America to successfully win eleven straight electoral contests against US-financed political parties and almost the entire private mass media over a nine-year period. Finally, President Chavez is the only leader in the last half-century who came within 1% of having a popular referendum for a "socialist transformation" approved, a particularly surprising result in a country in which less than 30% of the work force is made up of peasants and factory workers. President Chavez has drastically reduced long-term poverty faster than any regime in the region,2 demonstrating that a nationalist-welfare regime is much more effective in ending endemic social ills than its neo-liberal counterparts. A rigorous, empirical study of the socio-economic performance of the Chavez government demonstrates its success in a whole series of indicators after the defeat of the counter-revolutionary coup and lockout and after the nationalization of petroleum (2003). GDP has grown by more than 87% with only a small part of the growth being in oil. The poverty rate has been cut in half (from 54% in 2003 at the height of the bosses. lockout to 27% in 2007; and extreme poverty has been reduced from 43% in 1996 to 9% in 2007), and unemployment by more than half (from 17% in 1998 to 7% in 2007). The economy has created jobs at a rate nearly three times that of the United States during its most recent economic expansion. Accessible health care for the poor has been successfully expanded with the number of primary care physicians in the public sector increasing from 1,628 in 1998 to 19,571 by early 2007. About 40% of the population now has access to subsidized food. Access to education, especially higher education, has also been greatly expanded for poor families. Real (inflation adjusted) social spending per person has increased by more than 300%.3 His policies have once and for all refuted the notion that the competitive demands of "globalization" (deep and extensive insertion in the world market) are incompatible with large-scale social welfare policies. Chavez has demonstrated that links to the world market are compatible with the construction of a more developed welfare state under a popularly-based government. The large-scale, long-term practical accomplishments of the Chavez government, however have been overlooked by liberal and social democratic academics in Venezuela and their colleagues in the US and Europe, who prefer to criticize secondary institutional and policy weaknesses, failing to take into account the world-historic significance of the changes taking place in the context of a hostile, aggressively militarist-driven empire.4 No reasonable and rigorous contemporary analysis can seriously provide an accurate assessment of Venezuela while glossing over the tremendous accomplishments achieved during the Hugo Chavez presidency. It is within the framework of Chavez' innovative and courageous political-social breakthroughs that we should proceed to an analysis of the advances, contradictions and negative aspects of specific political, economic, social and cultural policies, practices and institutions. The Advances and Limitations of Economic Policy Venezuela has made tremendous advances in the economy since the failed coup of April 11, 2002 and the employers' lockout of December 2002-February 2003, which led to a 24% decline in the GDP.5 Under President Chavez' leadership and with favorable terms of trade, Venezuela grew by over 10% during the past 5 years, decreasing poverty levels from over 50% to less than 28%, surpassing any country in the world in terms of the rate of poverty-reduction. The economy has, in contrast to the past, accumulated over $35 billion dollars in foreign exchange reserves despite a vast increase in social spending and has totally freed itself of dependence on the onerous terms imposed by the self-styled "international banks" (IMF, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank) by paying off its debt.6 The government has nationalized strategic enterprises in the oil and gas industries, steel, cement, food production and distribution, telecommunications and electricity industries. It has passed new excess profits taxes, doubling its revenues. It has signed new petroleum and gas joint ventures with over a dozen European, Asian and Latin American multinationals giving the Venezuelan state majority control. It has expropriated several million acres of uncultivated farm land from speculators and absentee owners and, more recently, an additional 32 under-producing plantations.7 The importance of these structural changes cannot be understated. In the first place they increased the capacity of the Chavez government to make or influence strategic decisions regarding investment, re-investment, pricing and marketing. The increase in state ownership increases the flow of revenues and profits into the federal treasury, enhancing financing of productive investments, social programs and downstream processing plants and services. The government is slowly diversifying its petroleum markets from a hostile adversary (the USA) to trade and investment with countries like China, Brazil, Iran and Russia, thus reducing Venezuela's vulnerability to arbitrary economic boycotts. The government has started a large-scale, long-term project to diversify the economy, and especially to become food self-sufficient in staples like milk, meat, vegetables and poultry.8 Equally important investments in processing raw petroleum into value-added products like fertilizers and plastics are now operative, albeit at a slow pace. New refineries are on schedule to substitute dependence on US-based operations and to add value to their exports. New public transport systems are advancing as is visible in the new metro being built in Caracas, which will lessen the traffic jams and air pollution. Over 2.5 billion Strong Bolivars, the new Venezuelan currency (over $1 billion dollars) has been allocated in the form of incentives, credit and subsidies to promote the increase in agricultural production and processing.9 Investments in new lines of production linked to social programs are underway, including new enterprises manufacturing 15,000 prefabricated houses per year.10 Venezuela, like the rest of the world (China, EU, USA, Australia and so on) is deeply affected by inflation, especially of imported food. Inflation has escalated over the last 3 years rising from 14% in 2005, to 17% in 2006 and 22% in 2007, threatening to undermine the gains in living standards made over the last 5 years.6 Government attempts to impose price controls has had limited effect, as big food producers have cut back on production, food distributors have decreased shipments and even hoarded essential goods and retail sellers have traded on the black market. On the surface, the problem is that consumer power has increased faster than productivity, increasing demand relative to supply. However, the deeper structural reason is the decline in capitalist investment in production and distribution - despite high profits. Many capitalist food producers and food processors have diverted their profits into investments in speculative activity, including imports of luxury goods and real estate where there is a higher rate of return. Some have lessened investment because of opposition to the government, others because of fears of agrarian reform, while all complain about "price controls" leading to a "profit squeeze". These complaints do not account for low productivity, which existed before price controls and continued even after the government lifted the controls. Inflation and the resultant negative impact is one of the principle reasons for popular abstention during the December 2007 referendum and is the cause of popular discontent today in Venezuela. Both the far right and the ultra-left (especially in some neighborhoods and trade unions) have been exploiting this discontent. Inflation is one of the principle reasons for the decline of the popularity of various regimes (Left, Center and Right) throughout history in Europe, as well as in Latin America.11 In large part this is because the great majority of workers in Venezuela are self-employed and have no organization or wage and income indexes to keep up with the rise in prices. In Venezuela, even the major industries, like petroleum, steel and aluminum, have "sub-contracted" most of their workers who lack any power to negotiate for wage increases tied to inflation. Government subsidies and promotional incentives to industrial and agricultural capitalists to promote productivity has led to increased profits - without commensurate increases in wage income. During the period from February to April 2008, the state intervened directly in the productive process, through the takeover of unproductive companies and farms. New worker and peasant demands include "opening the books" of the profitable firms and farms in pursuit of wage and collective bargaining negotiations, re-opening closed firms and investments in new public enterprises. Chavez recognized that the problem of production (supply) will continue to lead to too many Bolivars chasing too few consumer goods - inflation, discontent and political vulnerability - unless he accelerates the nationalization process and deepens public ownership. To effectively intervene and take control of strategic economic sectors, the government requires working class organizations, cadres and leaders able to co-manage the enterprises, "opening the books" on investments, profits and wages and establish work discipline. Under present capital-labor relations, capitalists totally neglect investment in technology and innovations, employ temporary or contingent workers under precarious conditions and depend on the Venezuelan state to enforce harsh labor codes. In advancing the Bolivarian road to Socialism, President Chavez has to deal with incompetent and reactionary officials in his own government. For example, prior to Chavez. nationalization of the major steel multinational SIDOR, the Minister of Labor, an incompetent and inexperienced functionary with no prior relation to labor, sided with the company and approved of the Governor of the state of Bolivar in calling out the National Guard to break the strike. Throughout 2007-2008, management of SIDOR refused to negotiate in good faith with the unions, which provoked strikes in January in February and March 2008. The intransigence of the steel bosses increased the militancy of the workers and led to Chavez' intervention. In defense of his order to nationalize, Chavez cited the positive role of the steel workers in opposing the coup, the "slave-like" work conditions and the export strategies, which denied the domestic construction industry the steel it needed for high-priority homebuilding. He called on the nationalized industry to be run under "workers councils" in a efficient and productive manner.12 Government repression of strikes provoked regional union solidarity and worker-led marches against the National Guard and calls for the resignation of the ineffective Labor Minister. After Chavez nationalized steel, trade unions from major industrial sectors met to coordinate support for President Chavez and press for further moves toward public ownership. Equally ominous, brutality and excess use of force ordered by the general in charge of the National Guard is indicative of a profoundly anti-working class, pro-big business bias of the Guard officers, a potentially dangerous threat to the Chavez government in the future.13 By confronting the problem of inflation and the overvalued, strong Venezuelan Bolivar, Chavez is dealing with an issue that is real and deeply felt by most workers. Failure by the government to deal with its structural roots makes it vulnerable to demagogic appeals by the right and the sectarian ultra-left and its principle beneficiary, the US imperialism. New public investments in fertilizer plants, prefabricated housing, positive measures reducing inflation by one third in the first 2 months of 2008 and policies sharply increasing food supply by 20% indicate that the Chavez government is beginning to confront some of the economy's weak points. In visits to several public and private retail markets during the last part of February and early March, we did not find any shortages of essential items, contrary to the opposition, and the US and European media reports. An opposition organized protest of shortages of liquid gas in Catia (a popular neighborhood in Caracas) was front-page news (with blown-up photos) in the opposition daily, El Universal, but with no follow up reports when the government sent in supplies the next day.14 By the beginning of 2008, public spending, which is not always efficiently invested or entirely free of corruption, reduced unemployment 8.5%, the lowest in decades.15 However a government goal of 5.5% seems over optimistic, especially in light of the fall-out from the US recession and decline in European demand. The big challenge to Chavez' economic policy in 2008, a year of important state and local elections in November, is to ensure that the inevitable mid-year increase in public spending is directed toward productive investments and not to populist short-term programs, which will ignite another wave of inflation. We can expect that, as the elections approach, the capitalist class will once again resort to "planned shortages", distribution blockages, as well as other politically induced economic problems in order to blame and discredit the government. Unless the government reduces its reliance on the private sector for investments, employment, production, finance and distribution, they will be forced into taking costly and improvised measures to avoid electoral losses and popular abstention. The indivisible ties between private business control over strategic economic decisions and their paramount interest in pursuing political measures designed to undermine the Chavez government, means that the government will remain under constant threat unless it takes control of the commanding heights of the economy. In recognition of those structural factors, Chavez has announced plans to nationalize strategic sectors. The Chavez government has become pro-active, anticipating shocks from the economic elite and displacing them from power. Depending on the private sector, will force the government to continue to be "reactive", improvising responses to economic attacks during and after the fact and suffering the negative political consequences. =end part 1= notes 1. Weisbrot, Mark and Luis Sandoval 2008, .Update: The Venezuelan Economy in the Chavez Years., Washington D.C. Center for Economic and Policy Research. # 2. Mark Weisbrot, .An Empty Research Agenda: The Creation of Myths About Venezuela:, March 2008. Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington D.C. # 3. Ibid. Also see .Letter From Venezuela.s Communication Minister to the Washington Post., March 26, 2008 by Andres Izarra printed on March 28, 2008. # 4. A good example can be found in the Socialist Register 2008. For an example of rampant propaganda disguised as .scholarship, see Francisco Rodriguez, .An Empty Revolution: The Unfulfilled Promises of Hugo Chavez., Foreign Affairs March/April 2008. # 5. Weisbrot, Op cit. page 10. # 6. Weisbrot, Op cit. # # # # 7. Interview with peasant leaders of the Frente Nacional Campesino Eqzquiel Zamora in Caracas, Feb. 27, 2008. Boston Globe, April 11, 2008. # 8. Interview with President Chavez, Caracas, March 2, 2008. # 9. Dario Vea, February 25, 2008 p.2. # 10. Interview with President Chavez, March 2, 2008. # 11. Hyperinflation brought down the social democratic Alfonsin regimes in Argentina (1989) and Garcia in Peru (1990); weakened the Allende regime in 1973 and led to right wing take over. Hyperinflation has also led to the collapse of right wing regimes in China (1945-49) and the rise of Communism as well as regime change in Brazil in the 1990.s. # 12. Reuters News Service April 9, 2008; BBC News, April 2, 2008. # 13. .La grave represion de los trabajadores sidergicos. Argenpress, March 24, 2008. # 14. El Universal, March 5, 2008. page 1. # 15. Izarra, Op cit. # == This article was posted on Friday, April 18th, 2008 at 5:05 am and is filed under Colombia, Culture, Democracy, Human Rights, Imperialism, Labor, Socialism, South America, Venezuela. Send to a friend ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney
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