Progressive Calendar 05.10.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Sun, 11 May 2008 00:00:06 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    05.10.08

1. Stillwater vigil 5.11 1pm
2. MomDay/peace     5.11 1pm
3. Nader: Si? No?   5.11 2pm
4. Vets for peace   5.11 6pm
5. Pray for peace   5.11 6:30pm

6. Venezuela        5.12 9:30am
7. Choice/phone     5.12-15 5:30pm
8. Peace walk       5.12 6pm RiverFalls WI
9. Peace church     5.12 6:30pm
10. Sprogs          5.12 7pm
11. Online tools    5.12 7pm
12. Sami Rasouli    5.12 7:30pm
13. RNC action      5.12

14. Dakota people   - Circle the wagons
15. Matt Kosko      - McCain, Clinton, Obama & the wages of lesser-evilism
16. Dave Lindorff   - Team Clinton: going down ugly
17. Patrick Irelan  - Defending Bolivia; Morales and the Red Ponchos
18. Nikolas Kozloff - El Salvador 2009; yet another win for Hugo Chavez?
19. Marco Dávila    - Salvador/FMLN de Minnesota

--------1 of 19--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 5.11 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------2 of 19--------

From:  Jane Powers  janepow [at]
Subject: MomDay/peace 5.11 1pm

The second annual Mother's Day event at the Lyndale Park Peace Garden near
Lake Harriet featuring live music, crane-folding, and cookies and
lemonade, will be held on Sunday, May 11, from 1 to 4 p.m. Mayor R. T.
Rybak and his wife, Megan O'Hara, will host this free event. Guests of
honor are the designer and architect of the new Peace Bridge, McKnight
Artist of the Year Kinji Akagawa and Jerry Allan, both of the Minneapolis
College of Art and Design.  The vocal ensemble, CARPE DIEM, will perform
show tunes and similar music throughout the afternoon.

Sponsored by the Peace Garden Project Committee, the event will also serve
as a fundraiser for the new Peace Bridge at the Garden. The original
bridge has been torn down as it was deemed unsafe by the park engineer.
The new bridge is in the similar yatsu-hashi design as the original bridge
but is enhanced with black and white marble inlays from Minnesota and
copper blocks, called sasi, in the bridge railing.

For more information:

--------3 of 19--------

From: TDunnwald <tom [at]>
Subject: Nader: Si? or No? 5.11 2pm

PintCounterPint, Nader: Si? or No? or whose franchise is it anyway? Join
those of us not fishing or otherwise engaged with their moms at the 331
Club at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 11, when we will get down to the pint on the
franchise to vote and third parties in a two party world - all by way of
a debate on Ralph. This is debate not idle argument. Our rules allow for
one walk on on each side and questions from the audience so come early and
prepared. Just remember that a battle of wits can be dangerous so come
fully armed. [Most of us will come half-armed -ed] Questions: Tom

--------4 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Vets for peace 5.11 6pm

Sunday, 5/11, 6 to 8:30 pm, Veterans for Peace chapter 27 meets, St
Stephens Church, 2123 Clinton Ave S, Mpls.  (Ring bell on north door.)
John Varone 952-2665.

--------5 of 19--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Pray for peace 5.11 6:30pm

Sunday, May 11: Justice Commission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of
Carondelet and Consociates 11th Day Prayer for Peace. Honoring Mother's
Day. 6:30-7:15 PM at Presentation of Our Lady Chapel, Saint Paul.

--------6 of 19--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Venezuela 5.12 9:30am

Monday, May 12: American Association of University Women Minneapolis
Chapter. 9:30 AM: Venezuela: The Land and the People. 10:45 AM:
Chavez-conomics: The Economics of Venezuela in the Context of the
Economics of the Possible in Latin America. Noon: Lunch. 1:15 PM: Hugo
Chavez, Venezuela, and the New Left in Latin America.

--------7 of 19--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Choice/phone 5.12-15 5:30pm

May 12-15: NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota. Phone Bank to thank legislators
for all their work during the 2008 legislative session. 5:30-8:30 PM at
SEIU Headquarters in the Wright Building, Saint Paul. More info or to
RSVP: Dan.

--------8 of 19--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 5.12 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at]

Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls, Wisconsin 54022

--------9 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Peace church 5.12 6:30pm

Monday, 5/12, 6:30 pm, bimonthly potluck meeting of Every Church a Peace
Church featuring theme "How Do You Raise Compassionate, Peace-Seeking
Children?," Basilica of St Mary, 88 N 17th St, Mpls.  rolsen6376 [at]

--------10 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Sprogs 5.12 7pm

Monday, 5/12, 6:30 coffee, 7 pm program, Network of Spiritual Progressives
meets at Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900 Nicollet, Mpls.

--------11 of 19--------

From: Jonathan Barrentine <jonathan [at]>
Subject: Online tools 5.12 7pm

Our May 12 workshop is Online Tools for Group Collaboration, which will
introduce participants to a variety of free and easy-to-use tools that
enable and enhance collaboration within both small and large groups.

Online Tools for Group Collaboration
Monday, May 12th
7:00 - 8:30 PM
Rondo Community Outreach Library 461 North Dale University & Dale, St.
As always, the workshop is free and all are welcome to attend.

--------12 of 19--------

From: Molly and Steve <msring [at]>
Subject: Sami Rasouli 5.12 7:30pm

Sami Rasouli on what's really happening in Iraq?

Come to Macalester Plymouth United Church on Monday, May 12, at 7:30 p.m.
to hear Sami Rasouli give you the update of life in Iraq that the news
stories omit.

Mr. Rasouli, born in Iraq, is a long-time U.S. citizen and Minnesota
businessman. He returned to Iraq after the war started to form the Muslim
PeaceKeeper Team, a non-profit, non-sectarian organization that teaches
non-violence and human rights, and brings Iraqis from all backgrounds
together to work for the good of the country. He comes back to Minnesota
annually to give updates about the situation behind the news headlines
about life in Iraq.

There is no charge for this program, though a free-will offering will be
accepted. Macalester Plymouth Church is at 1658 Lincoln Street in St. Paul
(corner of Macalester & Lincoln Streets).

This event is cosponsored by the Macalester Plymouth United Church
PeaceMakers, and Pilgrim Lutheran Church.

To find out more about what Mr. Rasouli and other Iraquis encounter, see
these brief articles he filed in February:
--Freezing in Iraq:
--Food and water in Iraq:
--Making a living in Iraq:

--------13 of 19--------

From: Welfare Rights Committee - Alt Email <welfarerights [at]>
Subject: RNC action 5.12

Starting May 12, Tell Saint Paul Mayor Coleman and Twin Cities newspapers:
Anti-war protesters have a right to demonstrate at the RNC.

Then join us on Friday, May 16th: Rally at 1pm in front of the federal
court building in Mpls. then join us inside and pack the hearing room at

Sisters and Brothers,

On May 16 the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War will be in
Federal Court. We are seeking an injunction that forces the City of Saint
Paul to issue permits for our anti-war march on Republican National
Convention September 1. We need your help. Contact Saint Paul's mayor and
send letters to the Twin Cities press.

Starting May 12, we need our supporters and fellow protesters to contact
Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. Urge him to deliver a final permit to the
Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, for us to march from the
State Capitol to the Xcel Center on September 1, 2008. Email Mayor Coleman
at mayor [at] or call him at 651-266-8510. Feel free to use the
talking points mentioned below.

We began seeking permits for this demonstration days after the Republicans
announced they would hold their national convention in Minnesota. While we
have a permit to assemble and rally at the State Capitol, the City of
Saint Paul continues to withhold a permit for a march on the Xcel Center,
where the convention will be held. Saint Paul city government is now
saying "wait and see what we give you on May 31." This is unacceptable.

No important social question is ever settled in the courtroom. Issues that
matter are settled in the streets and in the court of public opinion.  We
need folks across the U.S to demand that we get a permit to go to the Xcel
Center - the site of the RNC. The eyes of the world will be focused there
September 1.

In addition to calling and emailing the Saint Paul mayor's office with the
demand to issue the permits, writing letters to the local newspapers would
really help. We want to make it known that people from all around the
country are coming here and insist that Saint Paul city officials give
permits for our anti-war protest.

The two main local 'mainstream' newspapers are the Star Tribune
(Minneapolis) and the Pioneer Press St Paul). Here is the information on
sending letters.:

    Star Tribune (250 word maximum)
    Submit from their website
    OR... Fax to 612-673-4359
    OR... Mail to Editorial Department, Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av.,
Minneapolis, MN 55488.

    Pioneer Press (150 word maximum)
    Please send your letters in the body of an e-mail, not as an
attachment, to letters [at] Include your full name and your
city of residence for publication. For verification purposes only, and not
for publication, include your street address and daytime telephone number.

    Please keep you letters short and concise. If you only send a letter
to one paper, the Star Tribune is the more important of the two. If you
send the same letter to both, send separate emails.

    We recommend a few talking points for your letters:

    1) Denounce the war. The Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the
War is planning a major anti-war demonstration and the city of Saint Paul
is refusing to grant a permit to go to the site of the RNC - the Xcel

    2) We are planning to march on the RNC. We expect / demand to be at
the Xcel Center September 1.

    3) The Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War is getting the
runaround from the city of Saint Paul. Permit applications have been in
since days after the convention was announced. We have a right to protest
the war. We need the permits now.

    You efforts will help to create the political climate where we get the
permits we need.

    Sincerely, The Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War

Lastly, don't join us on Friday, May 16th: Rally at 1pm in front of the
federal court building in Mpls. then join us inside and pack the hearing
room at 2pm

Welfare Rights Committee PO Box 7266, Mpls MN 55407 (3104 16th Ave S) pho:
612-822-8020 main email: welfarerightsmn [at] alt email:
welfarerights [at]

--------14 of 19--------

From: "DeMuth, Scott R." <SRDEMUTH [at]>
Circle the Wagons

St. Paul, MN, May 10, 2008 - The sesquicentennial wagon train wending
towards the state capital for tomorrow's celebration of Minnesota
statehood, came to an unexpected standstill this morning entering Fort
Snelling when a group of Dakota people gathered in the road to dispel a
few of their cherished myths. "This is a place of genocide, our ancestors
were force marched here in 1862 and interned in the concentration camp for
an entire winter. So many of our people died here, women and children, so
much of our history is ignored and suppressed.  We are here to tell the
truth about this history and challenge the Sesquicentennial celebration,"
said Chris Mato Nunpa, Ph.D..  "All we're asking is to be heard," said Ben
Yahola, amidst protestors holding signs with "We are not invisible,"
"1862," "Site of Dakota Genocide," and "My grandmother died here."

The travelers looked on or away as Dakota speakers addressed them and a
gathering group of other protestors, onlookers, and, soon, many police
officers from the city of Minneapolis. They stood by, some perched atop
horses, for about fifteen minutes before the tensions increased.

Two skittish horses were steered by their mounted officers through the
protestors, endangering everyone in their path, including several small
children. Unsure of what to do, one officer radioed for backup.  As
reinforcements arrived, one officer said, "I thought we came down to do
some thumping."  A sheriff's SUV tried to force its way through the crowd
of protestors to clear a path for the wagon train. Then, two kids and two
women laid down in front of the SUV.  For twenty minutes while protestors
smudged, prayer drums sounded, and speakers addressed their message about
the past's atrocities, officers conferred, debating how best to remove the
blockade. Dakota protestors cried the history of the atrocities committed,
including land theft, ethnic cleansing, bounties placed on Dakota scalps
(up to $200 dollars), the largest mass hanging in US history, the horrors
of the concentration camp at Fort Snelling, and the brutalities of the war
of 1862.

Then the arrests began.

"You are benefiting from the same colonial practices which justified the
genocide of the Dakota people," Waziyatawin stated as she was pressed
against the hood of a patrol car before being led away. "This wagon train
is a fantasy of manifest destiny, as some sort of righteous thing."  Next
to go were her two minor children, Talon and Autumn Cavender-Wilson.
Anita Rae, Chris Mato Nunpa, Jim Anderson and Diane Elliot followed,
before the officers ceased making arrests.

By use of truncheon, officers pushed the protest aside, finally clearing
the way for the wagon train to enter the camp.  Imprisoned protestors were
then released under charges of disorderly conduct.  At least some of the
wagon riders began conversing with protestors, agreeing to the need for
truth telling.  One young man softened his position and even apologized
for his participation in the wagon train.

The protestors will also be present tomorrow at the state capital, where
the kick-off celebration for the Minnesota Sesquicentennial will begin.

For additional information, Contact:
 Chris Mato Nupa, Ph.D. Oceti Sakowin Omniciya Tel: (320) 981-0206
matonunpa [at] <mailto:matonunpa [at]>
 Jim Anderson Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community (763) 753-2833
ander67 [at] <mailto:ander67 [at]>
 Waziyatawin Angela Wilson, Ph.D. Oceti Sakowin Omniciya Tel: (320)
564-4241 waziyatawin [at] <mailto:waziyatawin [at]>
 Scott DeMuth Oceti Sakowin Omniciya srdemuth [at]
<mailto:srdemuth [at]>
 Diane Elliot hecetu1 [at] <mailto:hecetu1 [at]>

Video and picture are available: <> <>

--------15 of 19--------

Is That All There Is?
McCain, Clinton, Obama and the Wages of Lesser-Evilism
May 9, 2008

Leftists both within and without the Democratic Party have been for years
operating under the delusion that, in order to oppose Republican policies,
they must work to help the cause of any candidate that has a "D" after
his/her name, regardless of how personally distasteful the candidate is or
how unappealing the rightward moving Democratic platform is.  This "lesser
of two evils" approach is dangerous, foolish, and damaging to leftist
causes as it keeps many normally progressive people locked into a party
that's tenants and leadership have long ago stopped representing
progressive ideals and instead have furthered the interests of Republicans
and large corporations.

At first glance, "lesser of two evils" voting doesn't seem like such a bad
idea.  We support the candidate who is the "least worst" until such a time
that we can run a real candidate who truly represents us.  However, no one
seems to be able to say who that candidate is and when we will ever see
him or her.  In fact, no one has ever even attempted to explain why a
party that already is ensured the progressive vote under this "Republicans
are worse" mentality will every seek to change, especially since a more
centrist approach has given Democratic candidates a hell of a lot more
financial support from various corporate interests.

But fortunately, in this election, we may be able to break free of this
illusion, not only because it is logically unsound but because, this time,
there truly is no lesser evil to speak of.   Rank-and-file Democrats will
surely be appalled at such a statement.

"Obama/Clinton at all similar to John McCain?  100-year war McCain?
Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran McCain?  Surely, no comparison can be made!"

Unfortunately, a comparison can be easily made.  Stripped of rhetoric and
pomp and laid bare, the political positions of Hillary Clinton, Barack
Obama, and John McCain on a number of issues are largely

On Iran, all three candidates have been firm in their support for the
intimidation, bullying, and possible annihilation of this Middle Eastern
country, with Clinton stating that she would be more than willing to
"obliterate" Iran by raining nuclear destruction down upon it and its 65.9
million people.  Clinton's language is barbarically savage and callous in
its tone and genocidal in its intent.  This is patently obvious to any
observer and you would expect her opponent Obama to issue a harsh
condemnation of recklessly calling for nuclear annihilation; instead,
Obama meekly stated that it was "bluster" and "not the language we need
right now".  Not really that surprising, considering that all three
candidates have insisted that "no option can be taken off the table"
regarding Iran, the same warrior rhetoric used by George Bush.

All candidates have also supported the demonization of Iran by urging the
State Department to consider the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a "terrorist
organization".  The Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which McCain and Clinton
voted for but Obama missed, wasn't the only bill that asked for the Guards
to considered terrorists.  S.970, the "Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of
2007" co-sponsored by Obama, included a suggestion that the ".Secretary of
State should designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a Foreign
Terrorist Organization".  Really, the only difference between the three is
that neither Clinton nor Obama have put their plans for destruction in
song form.

McCain, Obama, and Clinton are also committed in their undying support for
Israel by appearing at AIPAC conventions and forums and supporting all
sorts of Israeli atrocities and aggression.  We've all seen McCain and
Clinton's fanatical dedication to Israel, a dedication that includes
support for the "separation barrier" and the movement of the U.S. embassy
from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but Obama, a relative newcomer, has shown that
he can pander to Israel with the pros.  Obama supported Israel's 2006 war
against Lebanon as a rational reaction and by doing so implicitly condoned
what Amnesty International called the "widespread destruction of
apartments, houses, electricity and water services" which amounted to an
Israeli "policy of punishing both the Lebanese government and the
civilian population".

All the candidates have reiterated, time and time again, that Israel, the
only country in the Middle East that possesses nuclear weapons, faces a
perilous threat from Hamas, Hizbollah, and Iran, often repeating the lie
that Iranian President Ahmadinejad threatened to "wipe Israel off the
map".  Not one of the candidates has ever criticized Israeli policies in
the Occupied Territories, preferring instead to praise them as necessary
defenses against terrorism.  We must then conclude that all the candidates
support brutalization, occupation, murder, torture, arrest, arbitrary
detention, home demolition, humiliation, degradation, property
confiscation, and economic strangulation.

The candidates don't do much better with regards to Iraq.  Both McCain and
Clinton voted for the 2003 Authorization for Use of Military Force and
Obama, while initially opposing the war, stated in 2004 that he was
"unsure" of how he would have voted had he been in the Senate at the time.
Clinton has never apologized for her war vote and, like Obama and McCain,
has refused to promise to end the occupation and completely remove all
U.S. troops from Iraq, despite the fact that the occupation is opposed by
an overwhelming majority of Iraqis and is the main fomenter of violence in
the country.  Not only that, Obama has called Bush's intentions in
starting the war "sincere" but "misguided".  Neither McCain, Clinton, nor
Obama considers the war to be a grandiose atrocity that has resulted in
the deaths of one million people and the displacement of millions more nor
do they acknowledge their own culpability by either authorizing the war or
refusing to stop funding it; no candidate suggests the possibility of war
crimes trials, impeachment of the criminals, or the fact that war had
nothing to do with sincerity or heroic intentions on the part of the Bush
government but was instead a quasi-imperial crusade to preserve American
power and hegemony in the Middle East.

On the domestic front as well, the Democrats fail to distinguish
themselves from McCain in any reasonable way.  Both Clinton and McCain
voted for the assault on American civil liberties through the PATRIOT Act
in 2001 and all three voted for the "improvement and reauthorization" in
2006.  All three candidates also oppose truly universal health care,
preferring instead to involved greedy insurance corporations that wield
life and death over the insured by denying customers critical care and
treatment in order to maximize profits and enrich stockholders and CEOs.
Clinton and Obama claim to have plans for universal health care but in
reality, their plans basically boil down to subsidizing enormous insurance
premiums, something not substantially different from John McCain.  They
claim that there plans will keep premiums low, force insurance companies
to take those with pre-existing conditions, and keep these companies from
dropping customers.  They don't say how they'll do these things; they just
say that they will.  Maybe their opposition to a single payer health
system is what garnered Obama and Clinton combined more than $600,000 from
the healthcare industry in 2008 alone, more than five times the amount
that John McCain received.

Oh, sure, you might quibble, there are minute differences between the
candidates when it comes to social issues like abortion, but these
differences really pale in comparison to the disastrous confluence of
their psychotic foreign policy plans.  And isn't galvanizing the
electorate to vote for a particular political party based entirely on that
party's particular perspective on social issues a trait of the

Instead of voting for Clinton because she supports abortion rights and
then hoping that she doesn't obliterate Iran or voting for Obama because
he is more for gay rights than John McCain and then praying that he
doesn't invade Pakistan, how about we endorse a candidate that supports
abortion rights, civil rights for gays, true universal healthcare through
a single payer system, and doesn't want to export American power and
aggression abroad?

If we don't cease this destructive "lesser of two evils" approach, we will
never see a truly progressive candidate in the White House. [Amen -ed]

Matt Kosko can be reached at: mdk31+ [at]

--------16 of 19--------

The View from Pennsylvania
Team Clinton: Going Down Ugly
May 9, 2008

The results in Tuesday's twin primaries - Barack Obama by 14 percent in
North Carolina and Hillary Clinton by less than 2 percent in
Indiana - confirmed that Clinton is finished as a contender. Barack Obama
will be the Democratic candidate for president this fall.

Clinton, the private-schooled, Wellesley and Yale-educated millionaire
lawyer from Chicago, first tried to present herself as a White House
veteran, and then, in recent weeks, as a NASCAR mom on Food Stamps, and in
Pennsylvania resorted to cheap race-baiting and red-baiting in an effort
to derail her opponent, has failed. Barack Obama, another private-schooled
Harvard and Yale-educated lawyer, but one who actually did have to work
his way up the economic ladder, won decisively in North Carolina, even
drawing a significant number of working-class white voters in a state
where white voters have not traditionally voted for candidates with dark

As a resident of Pennsylvania, I can only express a sense of shame for the
large number of white voters here who bought Clinton's subtle racist
message. North Carolina, my mother's home state, proved to be more
resistant to the Clintons' toxic campaign than my adopted state. Exit
polls suggest that as more than one in five Pennsylvanians voted in the
primary on the basis of race. Now, if half of the 14 percent of the voters
who were black voted for Obama for racial reasons, this still means that
perhaps 14 percent of the state's white voters, or about one in seven,
voted for Hillary simply because her oppponent was black.

I would argue that for a black person to vote for a black candidate
because he is black is qualitatively different from a white person voting
for a white candidate because the other candidate is black. First of all,
blacks have not had the opportunity, ever, to vote for a candidate of
their race who has a real chance at winning the nomination. It is a
historic first. They are not saying they would not vote for a white
candidate, and indeed, if they voted in the past, they probably did vote
for white candidates, since that's all there were on offer. It's akin to
women (and men) voting for Clinton because she is a woman. Obviously they
are not saying they won't vote for men, just that they want a chance to
vote for a woman. A white candidate voting for a white candidate because
they won't vote for a black candidate is simply being racist, just as a
person voting for Obama because Clinton is a woman would be a sexist. What
we had in Pennsvlvania - indeed, accounting for more than Clinton's entire
9 percent victory margin - was white racists voting against a black

Part of the problem for Obama in Pennsylvania, too, was the self-serving
decision by Philadelphia's new African-American mayor, Michael Nutter, to
endorse Clinton instead of Obama. Nutter, clearly looking ahead to
statewide office, when he will need white votes, opted for a candidate
who, with her husband, helped pull the rug out from under many
Philadelphians, white and black, with the Clinton administration's ending
of support for welfare programs on which many of the city's poor and
minority families desperately rely.

But at the same time, Obama himself contributed to his 9-point loss to
Clinton in Pennsylvania by barely campaigning in Philadelphia, and by an
over-reliance on television advertising - a mistake he did not repeat in
Indiana and North Carolina.

In the end, the Clinton end-game strategy of using the race card, and of
trying to recast herself, absurdly, as a working-class hero, may end up
being all to the good for Obama. Clearly it forced him to move away from
his empty "change" and "hope" slogans and to address the issues of
ordinary working-class Americans - something he had largely avoided doing
earlier in the campaign. It also put the issue of race - which the
Republicans can be expected to use even more blatantly in the general
election - out front and center, where it could be exposed to the light of

What seems to be happening is that racist Democrats, those who cannot vote
for a black candidate, are rejecting Obama, and will probably either skip
voting in November, or swing over to McCain, just as they swung over to
Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon before, on different but related issues.
The difference is that Obama seems to be able to reach independent white
voters and even liberal and libertarian Republican voters who are turned
off by the Republicans' overt racism, as well as by many of the
Republicans' so-called "social policy" positions, such as abortion bans,
opposition to gay rights, denial of global warming, etc.

>From here in Pennsylvania, I'd say the outlook for the fall is likely to
be a strong win for Obama in a McCain/Obama match-up. In a funny way, he
will have Pennsylvania, and Hillary's sewer campaign, to thank.

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest
book is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006 and now
available in paperback edition). His work is available at

--------17 of 19--------

Defending Bolivia
Morales and the Red Ponchos
May 10 / 11, 2008

The Bolivian oligarchy has initiated its plan to balkanize the country.
Traditionally, the oligarchy controlled the oil, natural gas, and the best
farmland in Bolivia; and, for the most part, it has never indicated a
desire to share the wealth with the nation's indigenous majority. That
majority, 60 percent of the population, lives primarily in the Andean
highlands of western Bolivia, although in recent decades, the Indians of
those areas have begun moving down to the cities in search of jobs.

With their diseases, their firepower, and their greed, the Euro-Americans
have enjoyed their country's wealth since the founding of Bolivia, and the
Indians think it's about time for a more-equitable division of the
proceeds. They've been waiting half a millennium, and their patience has
begun to drift off somewhere over the Andes, from whence it is unlikely to

Evo Morales is an Aymara Indian. In 2005, he became the first indigenous
president in Bolivia's history, collecting 54 percent of the vote. He
inherited a land-locked and underdeveloped country, the poorest in South
America. But the provinces of the eastern lowlands are blessed with large
reserves of oil and natural gas. They also possess good farmland, although
much of it lies unused by its wealthy owners.

The richest province of the lowlands is Santa Cruz. The light-skinned
elite of Santa Cruz has benefited from the prosperity generated by the
sale of oil and natural gas to foreign petroleum companies, and it fears
any real or imagined threat to that prosperity. Bolivia has a population
of over 9.2 million people, and about 2 million of them live in Santa
Cruz, where the Euro-Americans greatly outnumber the Indians.

Since his election in 2005, President Morales has begun implementing a
plan that he thinks will improve the lives of the poor while ensuring the
well-being of everyone. In 2006, he nationalized Bolivia's oil and natural
gas reserves. This amounted, for the most part, to negotiating a larger
financial return to the country from various foreign oil companies.
Although some members of the oligarchy predicted doom, the opposite
occurred. The portion of oil and gas revenue in Bolivia's GDP grew from 5
percent in 2004 to 13.3 percent in 2006. (New York Times, September 18,

Suddenly, President Morales's political party, the Movement Toward
Socialism (MAS), became a great success story. Investors began putting up
new apartment buildings in the capital city of La Paz. Someone erected a
new Cineplex. The members of the president's cabinet argued about whether
to spend some of the country's $4 billion in foreign currency reserves.
(They decided to hold on to it for the present. These socialists are so

Simultaneously, the state's social programs went into overdrive. Teachers
from Cuba arrived to teach the poor people how to read and write. Cuban
doctors arrived to heal their ailments. New construction created new jobs.
And the nation began planning to redistribute unused farmland to the
indigenous majority. To fund additional social programs, the government
recently announced plans to nationalize four more energy companies and
Entel, Bolivia's major telecommunications company.

And all this has taken place peacefully, lawfully, and democratically. No
one has evicted the rich from their mansions or ordered them to hand over
their expensive toys. Who could complain about all this peace and love? No
one, of course, but the North American empire. Who else?

On December 14, 2007, the Washington Post led the frightened reactionaries
out of the starting gate. In one of its hysterical editorials, the Post
shrieked that Morales wanted to make himself "president-for-life". Both he
and President Rafael Correa of Ecuador were planning "constitutional
coups". And Morales, with his "radical proposals," was about to start a
civil war.

There"s nothing like peaceful change to bring on a mountain of criticism.
The Post and the Bolivian oligarchy didn't like Morales's brand of
success. The oligarchy didn't want to help the poor. It wanted to continue
helping itself. And George Bush wanted to help them continue to let the
good times roll.

Bush had already revealed his plans in 2006 by appointing Philip Goldberg
as the U.S. ambassador to the unfortunate people of Bolivia. Philip
Goldberg, in case it slipped your mind, previously worked for the U.S.
State Department in Yugoslavia during Bill Clinton's administration. We
won't need anyone in Yugoslavia anytime soon, because Goldberg
energetically helped pull the country apart. Then he stepped out onto the
veranda and watched the U.S. Air Force blow the hell out of anyone who
might choose to object.

What do you suppose Goldberg plans to do next? Was it an accident that, on
May 4, Santa Cruz held its referendum to empower its oligarchy to seek
"autonomy" for its juicy province? The elites of three other wealthy
lowland provinces - Tarija, Pando, and Beni - have already indicated their
interest in acquiring autonomy, too. Autonomy looks like the latest craze.
It may soon reach Utah.

U.S.-funded rightwing groups are already handing out propaganda by the
bale in Bolivia. And there are persistent reports that Colombian
paramilitary squads are conducting training operations in the four lowland
provinces. On May 5, Fidel Castro reminded us in his Reflection for that
day that the U.S. Fourth Fleet, mothballed since 1950, is now getting
spiffed up to patrol the waters around Central and South America. "[I]s
interventionist purposes do not need to be demonstrated," he wrote.
(Granma, May 5, 2008)

Bolivia has a long tradition in which military coups have occurred to
solve domestic political disputes. Eduardo Dimas recently pointed out at
Progresso Weekly that the present military high command was not trained in
the United States and has demonstrated an unwillingness to conduct a coup
every afternoon. A recent plot failed to gain the support of the officer

It will come as no surprise that President Morales declared the Santa Cruz
referendum to be entirely illegal and of no official substance.
Nonetheless, he has also said that he welcomes a vote of confidence by the
whole country, which will take place within the next 90 days.

Despite the fraudulent nature of the autonomy vote in Santa Cruz, on the
night of May 4, I found myself searching for news about the event. The
pro-Morales residents had announced a boycott, so I had no doubts
regarding the outcome. I just wondered what else might have happened.

If you live in the United States, it's more difficult to find late-night
news from Bolivia than it is to find an honest voting machine in Florida.
I eventually found someone awake at Al Jazerra. After she read a report
about the vote in Santa Cruz, an announcer switched to a story about the
Red Ponchos, an ancient military group among the indigenous peoples of the
Andes. They include tens of thousands of warriors, and they have promised
a fight to the death if anyone attacks Evo Morales.

The Red Ponchos possess rifles and ammunition. I hope they never have to
use them. Opposing forces would have the best weapons the empire could
give them. Who knows what might happen?

I believe in peaceful change. So does Evo Morales. So did Salvador
Allende, the president of Chile during the Nixon administration. Allende
had weapons available for the workers who elected him, but he had resisted
the impulse to distribute those weapons. By contrast, Gen. Augusto
Pinochet had soldiers, weapons, and Henry Kissinger.

Salvador Allende died defending his country from the forces of darkness
and greed. He believed that the military would not violate Chile's long
history of civilian rule. What might have happened if he could have called
in his own Red Ponchos?

Patrick Irelan is a retired high-school teacher. He is the author of A
Firefly in the Night (Ice Cube Press) and Central Standard: A Time, a
Place, a Family (University of Iowa Press). You can contact him at
pwirelan43 [at]

--------18 of 19--------

Yet Another Feather in the Cap of Hugo Chavez?
El Salvador 2009
May 10 / 11, 2008

An image flashes across the screen of pretty young women.  They're dressed
in red T-shirts, wave a red flag, and run towards the camera.  A voice
intones, "Let us all participate in the great party of hope!  Change is
coming!"  The image then shifts to a dapper young man with glasses who is
thronged by enthusiastic crowds.

Meet Mauricio Funes, bane of the U.S. foreign policy establishment and the
likely next President of El Salvador as of March, 2009.  Funes'. party,
the FMLN (or Farabundo Mart National Liberation Front), is running
television ads such as these in an effort to appeal to the young
generation and roll back the political right which has dominated the
country's politics for decades.

Funes is a former commentator for CNN International and for years had a
popular daily show called The Interview with Mauricio Funes which
wasbroadcast on national television.  Well known amongst his compatriots,
he is arguably El Salvador's most respected journalist. A frequent critic
of government abuses, Funes quickly developed a reputation as a political

As the so-called "Pink Tide" sweeps through South America 2009 is fast
sizing up as a momentous political year for El Salvador, a Massachusetts
sized nation of some six 6 million people.  Like Barack Obama, Funes is
poised, youthful and inspiring.  He even has a similar campaign slogan:
"Cambio" or "Change".  Like the presumptive nominee of the Democratic
Party, Funes is already drawing large crowds.  He is currently leading in
public opinion surveys against his main political rivals.

The U.S. left doesn't know much about Funes, but that's hardly surprising
given the political trends of the past fifteen years.  During the 1980s,
in the midst of the country's civil war, the FMLN was a cause clbre for
the U.S. left.  But once the U.S.-backed counter-insurgency war ended and
FMLN guerrillas demobilized and formed their own political party, radicals
focused their attention elsewhere.  El Salvador dropped off the media

The small Central American nation is about to leap back into the
headlines, however.

A victory for the FMLN would further embolden Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and
continue Central America's drift towards the center left, already underway
with the return of Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista Party in Nicaragua and
the election of lvaro Colom Caballeros in Guatemala.  If a solid
column of smaller nations emerges in the region this could prove to be a
difficult pill for Washington to swallow.

                   ARENA: "The Reds Will Die"

When you consider just how entrenched the right wing has become in El
Salvador, Funes' political rise is even more remarkable.

Ever since 1992, the year El Salvador's horrific civil war ended, ARENA
(or Nationalist Republican Alliance) has reigned supreme in election after
election.  The party was founded by right wing death squad leader Roberto
D'Aubuisson, held to be one of the intellectual authors behind the
assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980.  Many see ARENA, whose
party colors are red, white and blue, as modeled on the U.S. Republican
party but with even stronger nationalist overtones.

The hymn of the party touts El Salvador as the tomb where "the Reds will

By the early 1990s, with the international left now ignoring the political
story in El Salvador, ARENA consolidated its control through the ballot

                         Remaking the Party

Fearing relatiation from Washington, Funes has bent over backwards to
placate the U.S.  He has, for example, met with State Department officials
as well as members of Congress and reassured them that he is no radical.

Meanwhile, Funes has declared that El Salvador should not scrap use of the
dollar by returning to its previous currency, the coln.  Funes says that
"dollarization" and the adoption of the Central American Free Trade
Agreement in 2006 have had negative effects, such as inflation and
unfavorable competition for small-scale farmers, but that it is too late
to scrap these policies.

The former media commentator seeks to remake the FMLN into a pragmatic
political party.  At rallies, he doesn't sing the party's anthem or wear
the traditional red colours, preferring to campaign in a crisp white
guayabera shirt.  It's a symbolic move designed to contrast himself with
many in the party who still wear fatigues and brandish pictures of Che
Guevara and Soviet flags at campaign rallies.

ARENA President Antonio Saca, whose term ends next year, has questioned
the FMLN's supposed moderation. "If it flies like a duck, swims like a
duck and eats like a duck, it's a duck. The FMLN is a communist party. Its
ideas haven't changed," he has remarked.

            Demonizing Funes by Linking Him to Chavez

Despite such dismissive rhetoric, ARENA is fearful that Funes may not go
down to electoral defeat like his FMLN predecessors.  Facing a possible
debacle in March, the Salvadoran right and Washington have gone into
overdrive, trying to tarnish Funes by linking him to Hugo Chavez of
Venezuela.  ARENA in fact has accused Funes of being a "little Chavez".

Earlier this year, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Michael
McConnell warned Congress that he expected Chavez to provide "generous
campaign funding" to Funes.  Similar U.S. national security reports, later
exposed as false and comprised of politically-manipulated intelligence,
were used by the Bush White House to justify its preemptive war against
Iraq in 2003.

Nevertheless, ARENA President Antonio Saca pounced on the report,
remarking that this act of "interference" would be "unacceptable". He even
ordered an investigation into the matter and, in another high profile
move, recalled El Salvador's diplomatic envoy from Caracas.

On the other hand, Saca apparently views electoral intervention by the
United States government as not only acceptable, but welcomed. In a
November 2007 press conference with President Bush, Saca stated that the
U.S. "can help out a lot in preventing citizen support for certain
proposals in the upcoming elections."

Funes has denied any links to the Venezuelan government, and Chavez has
scoffed at McConnell's accusations.  The Venezuelan leader said the FMLN
needed no extra financial support as it was a "solid" and "well-organized"
party with popular backing. Chavez described the "gringo" allegations as
just another U.S. attempt to discredit him and cause divisions in the
region.  "It's a lie," Chavez said.  "We don't need to do that, and they
don't need it".

                      History Repeating Itself

It's not the first time that Bush and the Salvadoran right have played the
Chavez card.

During the 2004 presidential election in El Salvador, the Bush
administration was nervous the left might win as Schafik Handal, the FMLN
candidate, opposed the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and
was threatening to withdraw El Salvador's troops from Iraq.  As payback
for U.S. support for the counter-insurgency war of the 1980s, ARENA sent
381 soldiers to Iraq in the early stages of the war.  Salvadoran troops
generally refrained from front-line fighting and were instead delegated to
humanitarian and reconstruction efforts.

In March, 2003 Special White House Assistant Otto Reich, an implacable
Chavez foe who met with Dictator-For-a-Day Pedro Carmona in the run-up to
the 2002 coup in Venezuela, declared that the United States would
reevaluate its relationship with "an El Salvador led by a person who is an
admirer of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez."  The red-baiting tactics
instilled fear in the Salvadoran electorate, which no doubt worried about
a return to combative relations with the United States.  Handal went down
to crushing defeat, winning just 38% of the vote to ARENA candidate Saca's

                    Entrenched Trade Relationship

With a more charismatic, media-savvy candidate at the helm, 2009 could be
different for the FMLN.  But if Funes were to actually win, what might be
the future of Salvadoran-U.S. relations?

The FMLN leader would find it difficult, if not impossible, to take an
antagonistic position towards the United States.  The young politician
would enter office with El Salvador's trade relations with the United
States already well established: in 2006 the two countries signed a free
trade agreement providing El Salvador with preferential access to U.S.

El Salvador exports everything from textiles to apparel to shoes and
processed foods to the United States, and Funes certainly wouldn't want to
jeopardize such a vital trade relationship. Indeed, right now the U.S. is
El Salvador's most important market, purchasing 57.1% of the Central
American nation's goods.  El Salvador in turn receives more than 40% of
its imports from the U.S.

                 The Iraq-El Salvador Connection

Nevertheless, Funes may take some punitive measures against Washington.
He has stated for example that one of his first decisions as President
would be to withdraw Salvadoran troops from Iraq.  ARENA is now paying a
high political price for its loyalty to Washington: polls have shown that
a majority of the Salvadoran people oppose their country's troop presence
in the Middle East.

While other Central American countries such as Nicaragua and Honduras have
long since withdrawn their forces, El Salvador is holding firm and is
currently the only Latin American country with forces still deployed in
Iraq.  ARENA's position is that Salvadoran forces will continue their
service in Iraq until they "finish what [they have] started".

Were the Salvadoran troops to leave, such a development would prove
insignificant from a military point of view.  However, Funes would succeed
in making a symbolic and political point: that El Salvador is no longer
Washington's lackey in Central America.

            Chavez and FMLN: Furthering Ties through Oil

In another worrying development for Washington, Funes has said that he
would seek friendly ties to Venezuela.  For the two Latin American
nations, oil might prove to be highly instrumental in solidifying ties.
Recently, Chavez has undertaken an alliance with Sandinista leader Daniel
Ortega by agreeing to supply the Central American nation with discounted
oil.  El Salvador is not an oil producer and a Funes administration would
no doubt welcome any Venezuelan assistance to meet its energy needs.

Indeed, the FMLN has been steadily building up its relationship with the
Chavez government over the last several years.  At the local level FMLN
mayors set up ENEPASA, a joint venture energy company which signed an
energy deal with Venezuela in 2006.   The initiative is designed to
provide less expensive fuel to El Salvador's drivers.

Clearly there was more to the deal than just providing cheap gas.

The FMLN seeks to rebuff ARENA President Saca and his neo-liberal
economic approach by laying the groundwork for closer integration through
ALBA, the Bolivarian Alternative to the Americas.  The plan, initiated by
Chavez several years ago, seeks to counteract the corporately driven U.S.
Free Trade Area of the Americas and promote barter trade and solidarity
amongst left wing Latin American countries.

When FMLN mayors signed the agreement in Caracas, Chavez suggested that
money the Salvadoran municipalities saved on energy could be used to
subsidize public transport and food prices. Under the terms of the
agreement, cities pay 60% of their fuel bill within 90 days.  The rest may
be paid in barter for agricultural and other locally made products or in
cash over a 25-year period.

Chavez used the moment to criticize U.S. trade deals like the Central
America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).  "They're making deals with the
devil, the devil himself," Chavez said, in one of his typical rhetorical

Over the past two years, Venezuela has exported thousands of barrels of
diesel to El Salvador under the new deal.  The oil is sold by gas stations
bearing a special non-corporate, "white flag" emblem.

  The Legacy of Neo-Liberalism: Organized Crime and Maquiladoras

There is little doubt that under a Funes administration, much of the
energy integration with Venezuela would continue.  But how likely is a
Pink Tide sweep in Central America in the first place and a decisive FMLN
win in 2009?

Judging from recent political trends, ARENA's political monopoly is
jeopardized.  The Salvadoran people are tired of the right's relentless
charge towards neo-liberal policies including privatization and shredding
of labor protections for public sector workers.  In particular, ARENA's
recent attempt to privatize the health care system proved deeply unpopular
and was beaten back by the likes of doctors and nurses supported by the

Poverty is soaring and organized crime has reached epidemic proportions in
the country.  In response, the police and military have allegedly
organized vigilante groups that orchestrate "social cleansing" of
criminals.  In a move to further emulate the Republican Party in the U.S.,
ARENA instituted draconian anti-terror legislation based on the USA
Patriot Act in 2006.  ARENA uses the anti-terror legislation to pick up
and jail political activists who protest unpopular government moves such
as the privatization of water resources.

The agricultural sector meanwhile has been flooded by cheap goods from
the U.S. and hasn't been able to compete; in desperation cooperative
farmers have been selling off the land and sending their children to the
U.S. to look for work.  Remittances from Salvadorans working in the United
States are an important source of income for many families and total
almost $4 billion a year. According to the United Nations Development
Agency, an estimated 22.3% of families receive such remittances.

For those who don't receive money from their loved ones abroad in the
U.S., one of the few options left is to seek work in the maquiladora sweat
shops.  These dismal sewing factories employ hundreds of thousands of
workers and pay laborers a scant 80 cents an hour.  Employees have been
exposed to horrible conditions such as unhealthy air and water, large
amounts of forced overtime and frequent dismissals for those who get the
wrong idea and support labor unions.

                         The Road to 2009

Because of ARENA's pursuit of such unpopular policies, the stage seems set
for a big left win in March.

What might we expect from a Funes administration?  Though Funes has
distanced himself somewhat from the party rank and file, there is a great
ideological affinity between Venezuela and the FMLN.  Funes would probably
seek to put a break on the neo-liberal policies of the past, and has said
that he supports the notion of government-funded social programs like
those backed by Chavez and his allies.

"Up until now, I haven't been the hunter being hunted," political novice
Funes has said. "But if I myself say that public figures need to be
scrutinized, how can I reject that same scrutiny?"

Expect more than mere scrutiny in the following months.

Having fought for twelve long years to defeat the FMLN militarily,
Washington is not about to give up now.  Count on ARENA and its U.S.
patrons in the White House to launch an all out red-baiting assault to
prevent the FMLN from coming to power through the ballot box and thereby
halting the further spread of the Pink Tide which is sweeping through
Central America.

Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Hugo Chavez: Oil, Politics, and the
Challenge to the U.S. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), and Revolution! South
America and the Rise of the New Left (Palgrave Macmillan, April 2008).

--------19 of 19--------

From: Marco Dávila
Subject: Salvador/FMLN de Minnesota

FMLN stands for Frente Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front. FMLN is
a revolutionary movement that formed after the peace agreements of 1992.
It became a political party in order to fight and defend the rights of the
Salvadoran working class (the majorities).

FMLN de Minnesota has been working since November 10th, 2007. Our
objective is to organize and inform the Salvadoran community and other
communities in Minnesota. Our mission is to make Salvadorans aware of the
neccesity of a change of government in our country. Our vision is fight
for a more humane government. Our committee is actively participating in
different struggles. We organize community events with the purpose of
informing Salvadorans and others about what's going on in El Salvador.

Here is the invitation we would like to make to your audience (English
and Spanish)

FMLN de Minnesota les invita a una recaudación de fondos en la casa del
cubano el día Sábado 17 de Mayo del 2008.
Para mas información mandanos un email: fmlnminnesota [at]
visita nuestro espacio de noticias:

FMLN de Minnesota invites you to a FUNDRAISING party in cubano's house.
When: Saturday May 17th
For more information send us an email: fmlnminnesota [at]
visit our blogspot:

In solidarity Marco of the FMLN


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   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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