Progressive Calendar 05.20.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 20 May 2008 04:07:22 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   05.20.08

1. Fran Ford      5.20 4pm
2. Iran/CTV       5.20 5pm
3. Legal observer 5.20 6pm
4. Salon/3CupsTea 5.20 6:30pm
5. Lebanon        5.20 7pm
6. 3CD Greens/CTV 5.20 9:30pm

7. Gilles d'Aymery  - Meeting Ralph Nader & Matt Gonzalez
8. Federico Fuentes - The US has lost control: Latin America own area

--------1 of 8--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Fran Ford 5.20 4pm

NOTE from Lydia Howell: Fran Ford used ehr talents as an actor, playwright
& director to create a series of works to make peace more possible. She
was inspired by letters written by military veterans from the Civil War to
the first US war against Iraq;she pushed against the censurship of debate
about the Israel-Palestinian conflict to honor the life of peace activist
Rachel Corrie - killed when she was non-violently protesting Israeli
Defense Forse demolition of Palestinian homes. Fran Ford's passing isa
great loss. Her son writes below about her memorial.

Fran's memorial has been set for May 20th (Tuesday) at 4:00 PM at the St.
Paul Quaker meeting house, 1725 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105
( Please send an e-mail to Barbara Simmonds
(barbarasimmonds [at] if you can attend so she can plan for the
right number of people.

Our Quaker memorial will include an hour of silence to reflect upon Fran's
life.  Throughout the silence, anybody is welcome to stand and speak for a
minute or two on Fran - from memories to dreams to crazy stories -
scripted, scripture or improvised.

--------2 of 8--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Iran/CTV 5.20 5pm

Gracious St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN 15) viewers:

"Our World In Depth" cablecasts in St. Paul on Tuesdays at 5pm, after
DemocracyNow!, midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am.  All households
with basic cable may watch.

** Tues, 5/20, 5pm & midnight and Wed, 5/21, 10am **  "Dr. Shirin Ebadi,
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate".  Iranian author, judge, 2003 Nobel Peace
Prize recipient.  Talk at Hamline U in April.

--------3 of 8--------

From: Niel Ritchie <niel [at]>
Subject: Legal observer 5.20 6pm

As public dissent increases, the attacks on civil liberties and human
rights grows more pronounced. Legal Observers play a crucial role in
witnessing and documenting events where civil rights and human rights
abuses might occur, but there aren't enough! In an effort to respond to a
growing need for trained Legal Observers the Main Street Project has
teamed up with the MN Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild to offer a
"Legal Observer and Know Your Rights Training".

The training is Tuesday, May 20, from 6-8 pm, in our conference room at
2104 Stevens Avenue South in Minneapolis.
A casual dinner will be served.

The event is free but space is limited. If you are interested, please
respond to Kathy Hiltsley by email or phone at:
kathy [at] or call 612.879.7578

--------4 of 8--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Salon/3CupsTea 5.20 6:30pm

Tuesday, 5/20, 6:30 pm, Peace Salon hosts discussion of the book "Three
Cups of Tea" about building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mad
Hatter's Teahouse, 943 W 7th St, St Paul.  651-227-2511.

--------5 of 8--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Lebanon 5.20 7pm

Tuesday, 5/20, 7 pm, Middle East expert Cathy Sultan discusses her new
book "Tragedy in South Lebanon" about the lives of civilians in south
Lebanan and northern Israel during and fter the war of July 2006, Border's
Books, 1501 Plymouth Dr, Minnetonka. or

--------6 of 8--------

From: alforgreens [at]
Subject: 3CD Greens/CTV 5.20 9:30pm

3rd Congressional District Green Party Show
aired on Southwest Cable TV- Edina, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins

Channel 15 - 30 min show
For the month of May - Tuesdays at 9:30 PM and Fridays at 5:30 PM

This month features Ken Pentel gubernatorial candidate for the Green Party
2006. He was the keynote speaker at the Fergus Falls Earth Day event on
April 22.  Only the first half hour of his talk will be shown.

--------7 of 8--------

Meeting Ralph Nader & Matt Gonzalez
by Gilles d'Aymery

"What did you learn in school today, Ralph? Did you learn how to believe
or did you learn how to think?"

-Nathra Nader (Ralph's father - Ralph was about 10 years old)

(Swans - May 19, 2008)  "Gosh, I am nervous," said Jan as we were standing
in front of the Pier 5 Law Offices on Broadway (at Kearny) in San
Francisco, readying ourselves to attend a fundraising event for the
Nader-Gonzalez 2008 presidential campaign in which the candidates were
scheduled to address a small gathering of donors before going to a much
bigger "People Fighting Back" event at the Roxie Theater at 16th and
Valencia in the evening of May 11, 2008. "So am I," I answered grabbing
her hand and resolutely walking up the steps to the front door. Long-time
readers are aware that neither of us particularly fit what could be
described as an activist profile. Actually, this was a big first time.
First time we attended a political event of this nature; first time we
have contributed money to a presidential campaign; first time we have
placed a bumper sticker on the back of our cars, proudly affirming our
support for Nader-Gonzalez '08. Even though we express our views in
writing and have supported Ralph Nader in both 2000 and 2004 on Swans, we
tend to be the private kind, quite uncomfortable in public gatherings. So,
indeed we were quite nervous, but we were very excited by the opportunity
to meet the candidates.

[Begin pitch: Both Jan and I had sent a small contribution to the
campaign. It's quite easy to do. You can open your checkbook, write in the
amount of your own choosing up to $2,300 (or $4,600 for a couple) made to
"Nader for President 2008" and mail it to P.O. Box 34103, Washington, D.C.
20043. Or, if you like plastic, you can go to a secure site where you can
make a contribution on line by credit card. Try it. As said, it's quite
easy. End pitch]

Having sent a contribution, our names were dutifully entered in the
campaign's donor database and thus we received an e-mail invitation to
attend that fundraiser at a minimum $100 donation per person. A phone
number was provided to confirm our willingness to participate. "Let's go,
Gilles. Let's go meet Ralph Nader," Jan said. She called, was given
directions and advised that there would only be about fifteen to twenty
people there, and so we went, dressed up for the occasion and wondering
how Nader and Gonzalez could take the time and the effort to stop by and
talk to such a small number of people and how lamentable it was that the
number would be so small. What we saw, and were a part of, was a
quintessential American experience in participatory democracy - that
character trait that in spite of so many attacks by the reactionary forces
that dominate our political system refuses to die or be discarded
altogether - the America we love and strive for, the America of the

The location matched the occasion to a T. Pier 5 Law Offices is a
community of sole practitioner attorneys who, according to their Web site,
"have shared office space for over 40 years." They proudly fight injustice
(criminal justice system, civil rights, etc.) with an "unparalleled
commitment to progressive causes" (medical marijuana, environment, civil
liberties...). At the top of the stairs we were greeted with a smiling
"Welcome folks. The toilets are on the left. You'll find food and
refreshments in the back, to the right. Ralph and Matt will soon join us."

We entered the main lobby and looked at each other in puzzlement. Here
were some 70 people (by a quick head count) of all ages, dressed for the
most part casually - no Armani suits, Hermes ties, or Rolex watches in
that crowd, no sir! That big room, with a handful of small working
cubicles in the middle, was decorated with colorful murals, Tibetan prayer
flags hanging across the ceiling, and countless photos (Abbie Hoffman,
Malcolm X...) and posters (Impeach Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld; Drop
Acid, Not Bombs...), framed and hung along the walls. We had driven all
the way from Boonville on an empty stomach. We served ourselves with
quesadillas and fresh veggies - "help yourself, dude..." - walked around
in sheer amazement amidst a humming buzz in a bon enfant atmosphere, which
abated the moment Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez showed up. Silence fell,
quickly replaced by a huge round of applause.

For a few minutes, Ralph went around and greeted familiar faces and old
friends, and within minutes we were in business, but I couldn't fail to
remark to myself how frail he looked, an impression that a moment later,
when he began speaking, was quickly dissipated. We sat in the second row
of chairs, a few feet from a standing microphone where a lively dressed,
long-white-haired elder made the introduction. He was the legendary civil
rights attorney and famous war dissenter Tony Serra. That's the time,
friends, when it dawned on me I was utterly out of my league, in the
presence of towering figures that have been at the forefront of the fight
for social justice for decades. I felt I was out of place and should have
stayed in Boonville - but since I was there I endeavored to make the best
out of that extraordinary experience in participatory democracy and
community activism.

Tony spoke sparely, welcoming us all with good humor, introduced Matt
Gonzalez, and exited the stage to sound applause from the audience.

Matt dresses modestly and looks quite unassuming, but like one ought not
judge a book by its cover his appearance is deceptive. Wealth is to be
found elsewhere in overwhelming fashion when you look at his eyes and
listen to him speak. The man exudes intelligence and a keen understanding
of the dire issues our country faces. He speaks slowly, with equanimity,
without much rhetorical flourishes. He speaks to the right side of the
brain. He's been known for years for his quiet, almost placid demeanor.
Matt took on debunking the other candidates. He talked about Obama being
an establishment candidate, supporting the Energy Policy Act that gave tax
breaks to energy companies and the like, voting for all war appropriations
bills - the poster boy of post-partisanship, which as always moves the
entire body politics toward the right and further erodes liberal values.
He also talked about Nancy Pelosi taking office on a message of change and
antiwar rhetoric and subsequently voting for each and every increase in
war appropriations with the constant support of the Democrats in the
Senate, under the lame excuse that they did not have the votes to overcome
a presidential veto. Matt was at his best when he logically took apart
that lame excuse.

The Democrats keep saying that they don't have the vote to stop war
appropriations for Afghanistan and Iraq - only 50, at most 51 votes -
and therefore have to reluctantly and pragmatically accept the status quo.
They then, of course, say (as they said in 2006) that things will change
in 2009 when a Democrat is in the White House and they have a bigger
majority in Congress. But Matt, fully cognizant of the arcane rules of the
Senate, convincingly argued that all the Democrats needed was to secure 41
votes to block any legislation. Indeed, if a two-thirds majority in each
house is required to overcome a presidential veto, only 41 Senate votes
are needed to block a bill from being sent to the Oval Office. In other
words, the wars can be defunded by 41 resolute senators. Matt throws an
almost mischievous smile at the company, his sparkling eyes beaming all
over the room as though he wanted to ask the assembly: So, are they really
against the war? Is that the "change" that Clinton and Obama are
advocating for 2009? You know the answer to these two questions. Instead
he went on to introduce a man who truly needs no introduction, Ralph

Watching him get to the microphone, I thought of the plumber who two days
earlier had performed some work at our place in Boonville. I had asked him
about his voting intention in the fall and he had answered that it made
little difference which party was in power in Congress and in the White
House. Good, I thought, and proceeded to ask him, "then, why not vote for
Ralph Nader?" "Who?" he replied. "Ralph Nader..." "Who is he?" he asked.
Astounded, dumbfounded, flabbergasted, I only managed to say: He is an
American patriot who has garnered over almost half a century a larger body
of legislative accomplishments than any member of Congress has without
ever being a member of Congress. He spearheaded and facilitated the
passage of many legislations, like, just to cite a few, the Environmental
Protection Agency, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Occupational Safety
and Health Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the
Freedom of Information Act. He's been a consumer and people's advocate for
decades, and he's running for president...the most qualified candidate in
the field - trustworthy, ethical, right on the issues, a real agent of
positive change for the country as a whole...all the while having Gore
Vidal's famous expression cross my mind - The United States of Amnesia.

The moment Ralph took charge, any impression of frailty dissipated. While
Matt Gonzalez speaks in monochromatic tones, Nader is like a thundering,
multichromatic tenor, reaching effortlessly to both the left and right
sides of the brain, able to move from one octave to the other without
missing a note, speaking softly at times, rousing the crowd at others. He
began where Matt had ended, contrasting their campaign (N-G) with those of
the Democrats and the Republicans (D-R):

- Single Payer National Health Insurance: N-G, for - D-R, against.

- Total US military and corporate withdrawal from Iraq: N-G, for - D-R,

- Deep cuts in the military budget: N-G, for - D-R, against.

- Crackdown on corporate crime and corporate welfare: N-G, for - D-R,

- Solar and wind power instead of nuclear power: N-G, for - D-R, against.

And on, and on, and on. Here and there he injected some humor, as when he
told the audience that his father once asked him why capitalism would
always survive, and as he would not get a satisfactory response, answered
his own question: "Capitalism will always survive because socialism will
always be around to save it." (Chuckles...) Or, when he related Eugene V.
Debs's answer to the question, "what's your biggest regret?" According to
Nader, Debs noted: " Under our Constitution, the American people can have
almost everything they want... My biggest regret is they don't seem to
want very much..."

He then turned the audience's attention to two topics that have been his
signature issues for decades: The nefarious effects of corporate
personhood, and the absolute need to see people involved in the political
process. I've covered more than once the corporate takeover of America
that began in the late 1800s (the last time, when I discussed the poor
state of democracy in America). To put it succinctly, Corporate America
literally owns the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court. The
People have been banished, exiled, disposed, thrown to pasture. The three
branches of government have become wholly-owned subsidiaries of America's
boardrooms. Less than one percent of America controls 100 percent of
people's power and lives. If we do not take back control of what is
legitimately ours there is no way we will ever fix America's ills. Giant
corporate power and its takeover of our government is for Nader "the
central political issue of our time." Corporations should not have
constitutional rights, only human beings... That's when he begins talking
about the people and his voice turns into a political aria - I'd dare say
Pavarotti-like. This is without any doubt his most powerful message.
People matter. People count. You won't ever obtain anything without
demanding it. Social justice, the improvement of the whole, won't happen
if we do not fight for it. History is replete with examples of subjugation
by the few for the lack of struggle by the many. People need to get
involved in the name of their fore parents and for the sake of their
descendents. To some people his pitch may look rather romantic and
quixotic, but when you listen to him in person, you truly hear the call to
arms (metaphorically speaking). You can sense that from his early days
Ralph Nader gave all he could to that cause - the People. Listening to
him was not just enlightening and enriching, it was empowering - not the
Obama's "Yes we can" platitude, but the "Yes we do" certitude that Ralph
Nader has epitomized forever.

He stopped and gave the floor to an old friend and long-time supporter,
Gregory Kafoury, assuring the audience that he would be back for a Q & A
session. Seventy people or so exploded in applause, asking for "more,
Ralph, more..." More, he again assured, would come.

Gregory Kafoury, with his curly grayish hair and gregarious smile, took to
the stage. He was proactive, positive, funny, serious too, and ultimately
a fundraiser (notice that until that time no one had asked for money). A
tort attorney in Oregon, Kafoury and his partner have jeopardized their
legal practice time and again in order to support the issues that Ralph
Nader has always represented. He reiterated the importance of people
power, the ardent need to be united in order to advance one's agenda. He
took as an example the shutting down of a nuclear power plant in Oregon
that resulted from grassroots engagement in the matter. He moved on to
explaining the importance of getting the right analysis of a problem if
one wanted to devise the right solution. Here too, he took an example:
Barack Obama. The Democratic candidate wants, he says, to end the war in
Iraq, but his analysis leads to a clear and unfortunate solution. He will
keep about 60,000 troops in the theater of operation and won't remove the
privateers that roam that land (about 130,000). Want a real solution, asks
Kafoury, ask the proper questions and make the right analysis.

Then he became a fundraiser using the auctioneering technique. We need
money. What about $2,300, do I hear $2,300, is there $2,300, here, there,
now? YES, here is a $2,300 donor. Give him a big round of applause. Any
other $2,300? What about $2,000? Silence. What about $1,500? Silence. What
about $1,000? Yes, here, and here, give them a big round of applause. What
about...? I raise my hand: Can't do $1,000 but my wife and I can do $500,
showing off the written check. $500, $500, here is $500. Give these folks
a big round of applause. Who's next? $500 once, $500 twice....and on and
on down to $100. All the while keeping smiling and taunting the audience.
You guys are great. Many thanks. We cannot do it without you. Ralph will
be signing a copy of The Good Fight for each donor. Here back is Ralph, to
answer all your questions!!! (Huge applause.) And remember, think, demand,
seek, and fight! (You can see a few pictures of the entire occasion.)

Greg has been on the record for having bluntly stated that Nader is "the
only guy who's run for president who's overqualified." To listen to the Q
& A session reinforced that statement. Nader is in knowledgeable control
of pretty much all issues. He is a political encyclopedia with the right
analysis and the proper solutions. It's truly mind-blowing - an
exceptional man, not just an unreasonable man (actually, he is quite
reasonable). There is no question he left unanswered, and no question he
did not answer most intelligently and clearly, from nuclear power to
alternative energy, from Iraq to Israel, from our dilapidated
infrastructure to our dying education system, from people activism to the
duty we all have to carry the torch of our forefathers in the name of our
children and grandchildren. He gets it all.

Time came to fold the event. He had to move on to the Roxie Theater and
address a much larger crowd. He left the stage and sat on a couch where he
began signing books. When my time came, one of Ralph's long-time
operatives (if that's the proper term), Matthew Zawisky, asked me: Are you
Gilles d'Aymery of Swans? Yes I am, I answered with a bit of incredulity.
He turned toward Ralph and told him something like: "this guy puts out a
great publication online. I've been reading it for five years...just
great, Ralph, just great..." "Do you have a card?" Ralph asked, and a card
I gladly offered.

Maybe Matthew overdid it a tad but I will always be grateful to him for
the look and smile I garnered from Ralph Nader. That look and smile will
remain engraved in my mind to the day of reckoning.

Lastly, let me comment about the recurring accusation thrown at Ralph
that, yes, he's been a great consumer advocate but he has turned out to
become a spoiler and, worse, keeps running out of an inflated ego. Katha
Pollitt of The Nation is but one example of the shallow and mean spirited
attack dogs that have barked and barked again, in the most possible
demeaning way, at Ralph Nader. I'll tell you what: Watching Ralph as he
goes from one place to the other (the previous day he was in Southern
California; the following day he attended a meeting at Google's
headquarters in Mountain View; then on to Oregon, etc.) what I saw was a
man who would be quite happy to stay home and enjoy a well-deserved
retirement if any politician, Democrat, Republican, or Martian, were to
take on the baton of our age-old race for justice. In the absence of any
positive alternative he keeps at it and tries to groom the next generation
(cf. Matt Gonzalez) of the brothers and sisters who will keep fighting
with our help for the benefit of all. I'd say with total tranquility and
peace of mind: "Spit on the guard dogs and the naysayers. Our time will
come! Our time will come!"

We left the premises of the Pier 5 Law Offices with both gratitude and a
sense of regeneration. We were not alone, after all.

We drove back to the apartment to take care of the dogs, then headed out
again to the Roxie Theater, which was filled with supporters, including
Cindy Sheehan. We stayed only briefly, as it was getting late. It had been
a long, long day (I can imagine Ralph and Matt, and all, smiling at this
remark, they who had had a much longer day...), though we were
reinvigorated by the passion of Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez and the
notion that our vision of America does indeed still exist.

We drove back home, greeted Priam and Mestor again (our dogs), walked
around the block with them so that they could do their affairs, and on to
bed we went to rest.

We had a peaceful night...dreaming of our America - dreams that are so
perfectly represented by the likes of Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez.

(Note: There are two critical issues regarding the Nader-Gonzalez
campaign: We need to get them on the ballot [in California alone, 158,372
valid signatures are required to gain ballot access] and we need to get
them on TV and in the presidential debates. I'll address those matters in
two weeks. Meantime, please do your part, send them some money, and get on
their mailing list.)

External Resources Nader-Gonzalez 08 Web site
Vote Nader 08: 80+ Videos on YouTube
Ralph Nader: The Road to Corporate Fascism (Essential 55m video on Free
Speech TV)
Taming The Giant Corporation
Center for Corporate Policy
Center for Study of Responsive Law

Internal Resources
Ralph Nader's The Seventeen Traditions - Gilles d'Aymery - December 2007
The Essential Significance Of Ralph Nader, Or, Who's the Idiot, Markos
Moulitsas Zniga? - Gilles d'Aymery - July 2007
Ralph Nader: If Not Now, When - Editorial by Gilles d'Aymery & Jan
Baughman - March 2004

Green & Independent Politics
US Elections & Democracy
America the 'beautiful'
Patterns which Connect

About the Author
Gilles d'Aymery on Swans (with bio). He is Swans' publisher and co-editor.

--------8 of 8--------

The US Has Lost Control: Latin America Has "Created its Own Neighbourhood"
by Federico Fuentes
Green Left Weekly
May 19th 2008

The drums of war are once again beginning to sound, as US imperialism
steps up its propaganda attack on Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution.

The new offensive has centered on the supposed documents found on the
laptops retrieved from the site of the illegal military assault by
Colombia that massacred over 20 people at a Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia (FARC) campsite inside Ecuador in early March. This is despite
clear evidence of Colombian government interference with the laptops
before handing them over, which many accept would rule such evidence as

On May 16, the Venezuelan government denounced as a "provocation" the
incursion of 60 Colombian soldiers into Venezuelan territory, intercepted
800 metres over the border. This occurred at the same time as the US Navy
has decided to reactivate, after 58 years, its Fourth Fleet to patrol
Latin American waters.


The Interpol report released on May 15 verified that the material
allegedly found on the "magical" laptops that somehow survived the intense
bombing of the FARC camp backs up Colombian and US claims of links between
the guerrillas and the Venezuelan government.

The day before, speaking to a group of uniformed soldiers, Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez warned that "Colombia is launching a threat of war
at us". He described Colombia's proposal to establish a US military base
on its Venezuelan border as an act of "aggression".

Chavez used the opportunity to insist that "the Colombian government will
surely announce tomorrow that the documents retrieved from [FARC
negotiator killed in the attack] Raul Reyes' computer are authentic and,
therefore, Chavez supports terrorism", he stated.

Following the Interpol announcement, Chavez stated that the Venezuelan
government would revise diplomatic, economic and political relations with

Tension between the two countries boiled over following Colombia's illegal
incursion onto Ecuadorian soil. Ecuador and Venezuela both broke relations
and set troops to their respective Colombian borders.

In the immediate aftermath, several meetings of the Organization of
American States and the Group of Rio, comprised of most of the countries
of Latin America, declared their rejection of Colombia's actions, which
were backed only by the US.

While a clear blow to Washington's war plans in the region, recent events
show that imperialism's offensive has not ended.

                           *Lost control*

Eva Golinger, a US-Venezuelan lawyer who has dedicated herself to exposing
US intervention in Venezuela and is the author Chavez vs Bush, explained
to Green Left Weekly that behind these events was the fact that the US
"have lost control in this region, and this is something that is
incredible threatening for the US empire".

"They are seeking out a way to divide and create conflict in the region",
said Golinger "in order to impede integration in the region".

"The backyard of the US has gone; it's created its own neighbourhood, and
the US isn't part of it", commented Golinger.

The events in Ecuador occurred only weeks before the second meeting of the
Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), one of the numerous initiatives
of the Venezuelan government aimed towards increasing Latin American

For Golinger, this latest phase of the campaign against Chavez - which
intensified several years ago with statements such as those of US
Secretary of State Condelezza Rice of the need to create an international
"united front" against Venezuela - can be linked to the steps being
promoted by Chavez for a humanitarian accord between the FARC and the
Colombian government.

Last September, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe invited Chavez to act as
a mediator in the humanitarian accords and then in November "unilaterally
cut off his role with no important reason to terminate", Golinger

Golinger argued that the US-backed Colombian regime did not want Chavez to
continue in his role, as it saw that he was actually making progress
towards the release of FARC-held prisoners - "which was going to look
good for Chavez, good for [Venezuela's revolutionary] process, and bad for
the US, bad for the Colombian government".

According to Golinger, the policy of Colombian government was never to
promote a serious negotiation to release hostages and "give the FARC some
kind of political platform in the country". She argued it was always a
manouevre aimed at working towards the goal of "eliminating the FARC".

Demonstrating his position on the internal conflict, Uribe announced the
extradiction of 14 warlords involved with right-wing Colombian
paramilitaries that were facing charges in Colombia to the US. There, they
will not face the charges of murder against them in Colombia, but merely
drug trafficking.

"What was extradited was the truth", Teresita Gaviria, a leader of the
Mothers of La Candelaria that represents the families of more than 530
victims of the paramilitaries, told the Christian Science Monitor on May

Aiming to put a halt to the humanitarian exchange process, which was a
direct threat to the continuation of Plan Colombia - the US's project of
the militarisation of the region under the guise of fighting
"narco-terrorists" - the Colombian government carried out its attack on
Ecuadorian soil that killed Reyes, the main contact point not only for the
Venezuelan but also the French government in its attempts to secure the
release of hostages, specifically French-Colombian prisoner Ingrid

                         *Struggle for peace*

While communication with the FARC was severed with the murder of its chief
negotiator, Chavez announced on May 14, in a telephone call to French
President Nicolas Sarkozy, that he promised to "continue to do everything
possible" to continue to proceed towards finding a political solution to
the conflict.

On his May 11 Alo Presidente weekly show, Chavez warned that Colombia
might be trying to generate a conflict with Venezuela in order to take the
focus off the ongoing "para-politics" scandal inside Colombia. reported the following day, "Since 2006, many
government officials and close allies of President Uribe have been
indicted for suspicions of colluding with armed paramilitary forces. As
many as 33 lawmakers, and most recently President Uribe's cousin Mario
Uribe Escobar, are currently in jail awaiting trial."

Golinger pointed out that there is not only the issue of Uribe's problems
but also the fact that current US president George W Bush is in his last
year of power. "As we get into the final days of Bush we are going to see
more desperate moves from Washington to let Bush go out with a bang ... he
would like to have some type of success, given Iraq has been such a
failure, and Latin America has always been a kind of easy scapegoat of the
US government."

Asked if the November US presidential elections could signal a change in
Venezuela-US relations, Golinger replied: "I don't see much chance of
change for the moment. I think that until Venezuela is able to somehow get
its view across and get accurate information to US public opinion on a
massive level, on a mainstream level, there's not going to be much change.

"I think all of the candidates have made statements referring to President
Chavez as a tyrant or dictator", Golinger commentated. "All of them would
back the continued funding of the opposition, and all of them would reject
the socialist model."

Golinger argued: "It's not a question of whether it is an ultra right-wing
Republican or a moderate Democrat. They are all still promoting a
capitalist consumerist model, and that's in direct conflict to the
Venezuelan model of socialism and democracy."

The biggest challenge faced in building solidarity with Venezuela against
US attacks in this context is the "huge media wall" that blocks accurate
information about what is happening in Venezuela.

Moreover, added Golinger, even much of the US left has been confused by
the campaign of the Venezuelan opposition and the Bush administration and
Democrats alike, who have an agenda against Venezuela.

"That is why we see most of the respectable publications on the left, like
Nation magazine, publishing articles that are incredibly critical and
manipulative of what is happening in Venezuela, and that type of
information over the years has been published in that magazine and others.

"Its hard to find allies on the US left that are willing to extend
themselves in a public way to express solidarity and support for Venezuela
and that's troubling because how can we expect [Venezuela] to have a
relationship with the Democratic Party when we don't even have such a
relationship with what's left of the left - the progressive more radical
sectors in the US."

"In this sense a lot more work has to be done" to win over these sectors,
Golinger said.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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