JOURNAL OF THE 24TH YEAR
Japan's Fukushima Disaster
The Shura Case
Death Row Inmates Exonerated
NUGGETS FROM THE NUT HOUSE
From Netanyahu to Mladic
Edward S. Herman
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
Veterans Support Manning
Double Dip Recession
Iara Lee's Culture of Resistance
Len Weinglass (1933-2011)
Michael Steven Smith
Checkmate In The Great Game
Nicolas J.S. Davies
The Colonial Predator Legacy
Against Corporatocracy Rule
Bruce E. Levine
The Mideast & South Central Asia
Bin Laden and the Arab "Awakening"
From Poppies to Fentanyl Lollipops
The Lacandon Jungle and the Carbon Market
Displacing People for Profit
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Ecuador's Referendum Reveals a Fragmented Country
In a referendum on May 7, Ecuadorians voted on ten questions relating to constitutional, judicial, political, and social issues. In the run-up to the vote, many observers saw the election as a plebiscite on President Rafael Correa’s four years in office and his prospects of winning reelection in 2013, rather than a contest over any specific issues that the referendum raised.
Exit polls initially indicated that Rafael Correa had walked away with his sixth sequential electoral victory since initially winning the presidency in 2006. Social movement activists and left dissidents quickly insisted that the exit polling firms had distorted the data. The race was much closer than some believed, they contended.
For Correa, a clear and strong political rationale fueled his decision to hold the referendum. Following a surge of popularity in the aftermath of a failed September 30, 2010 police uprising that threatened his political position, a win in the referendum would allow Correa to hold on to power.
The referendum began as a single issue of reforming the penal code to extend the period of pre-trial detention for criminals in order to address issues of public security. It then expanded to a total of ten issues. The first five questions would amend the new 2008 constitution and the remaining five touched on issues of wide ranging social, political, and economic significance.
The key questions in the referendum were about reforming a judicial system that Correa saw as corrupt and inefficient, as well as allowing an expansion of the president’s executive power. Passage of the first two questions would cancel the constitutional limit on the length of preventive detention, with a goal of accelerating the pace of criminal cases in the judicial system. The third question would limit the overlap between media companies and the banking sector, in particular restricting private banks from owning other companies and forbidding private media companies from participating in other economic ventures in order to prevent conflicts of interest. This question was important because the press remained firmly in the hands of the traditional oligarchy and was solidly opposed to the current government.
The fourth would completely overhaul what many saw as a corrupt, inefficient, and ineffective judicial system. The fifth would expand the council that appoints judges to include representatives from other branches of government. Opponents argued that this measure would make it possible for the president to limit the independence of the courts, essentially constituting a power grab. Correa, on the other hand, claimed that such steps were necessary to curtail corruption, overcome paralysis in the judicial system, and make the judiciary more efficient.
A second set of five questions touched on a broad set of non-constitutional issues. The sixth would criminalize the illegal acquisition of wealth in the private realm, something that was already classified as a crime in the public sector. The seventh question would ban casinos and gambling. The eighth would outlaw the mistreatment or killing of animals for entertainment. This question would be decided on a local level. Of the ten questions, this one faced the strongest challenge, particularly in areas such as
The ninth question would create a regulatory council to monitor violent, explicitly sexual, or discriminatory content in both broadcast and print media. Many opponents interpreted this measure as an attempt to limit the freedom of the media in order to muzzle dissent and this was one of the most controversial questions on the referendum.
The final question required employers to register their employees in the Social Security Institute. This was the least controversial of the proposals and enjoyed the highest level of popular support.
As the May 7 vote approached, a variety of campaigns both for and against the referendum moved into high gear. First was the traditional conservative and now largely discredited oligarchy that, with Correa’s presidency, had lost its 200-year grasp on political power. Although out of government, they continued to have a stranglehold on the media and used this to attack and denounce Correa at any opportunity. Leading this opposition were such figureheads as Guayaquil Mayor Jaime Nebot from the conservative Partido Social Cristiano (PSC, Social Christian Party) and billionaire Álvaro Noboa, perennial losing presidential candidate of the Partido Renovador Institucional Acción Nacional (PRIAN, National Action Party of Institutional Renewal).
Second were political opponents grouped around Lucio Gutiérrrez of the Partido Sociedad Patriótica (PSP, Patriotic Society Party). A career military officer, Gutiérrrez initially came into the public’s eye on January 21, 2000 when he joined with indigenous movements in a coup that removed Jamil Mahuad from power after he’d implemented drastic neoliberal economic policies of privatization and the dollarization of the economy.
Although the coup failed, with the support of his indigenous allies, Gutiérrez won the presidency two years later. In power, however, the former colonel quickly moved rightward and embraced the same neoliberal polices he had previously denounced, thus alien- ating his social movement base.
Nevertheless, Gutiérrez managed to maintain a strong base of support in the central highland indigenous communities. Reflecting
A third group of leftist dissidents, former Correa allies, charged that the concentration of power in Correa’s hands served to rollback the expansion of direct democracy embodied in
Following Acosta, four congressional deputies and two cabinet ministers left Correa’s political coalition to join the opposition. Most significantly, these included Alexandra Ocles, an Afro-Ecuadorian woman who was the minister of the secretariat of Pueblos, Movimientos Sociales y Participación Ciudadana (SPPC, Peoples, Social Movements, and Citizen Participation), a fourth branch (together with the executive, legislative, judicial, and electoral) of the government. These dissidents released a statement that, while they embraced the positive changes in
These former allies viewed the referendum as a naked power grab by the president that betrayed the principles of their political project. Correa denounced their actions as a personal betrayal of his government. Acosta countered that, while he supported referendums and agreed with some of the issues, he opposed Correa’s attempts to blur divisions between branches of government. In particular, he urged defense of the independence of the judiciary.
Social movements formed a final axis of opposition to the referendum. Most notable were the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and Popular Democratic Movement (MDP). Founded in 1986, CONAIE gained a reputation for being one of the strongest and best organized social movements when, in 1990, it led a powerful uprising that challenged the oligarchy’s hold on power. In 1995, it helped organize the political coalition Movimiento Unidad Plurinacional Pachakutik (MUPP, Pachakutik Movement for Plurinational Unity) to compete for political office.
The MPD formed the electoral wing of the Maoist Partido Comunista Marxista Leninista Ecuatoriano (PCE, Ecuadorian Marxist Leninist Communist Party) and drew much of its support from teachers in the Unión Nacional de Educadores (UNE, National Union of Educators). While in power, Correa had worked to divide and destroy both indigenous movements and teachers’ unions who were able to mobilize bases of support separate from those that formed the president’s electoral alliance. As a result, activists who otherwise might form Correa’s base of support became his sworn enemies. For them, government attempts to improve public security meant the criminalization of dissent.
In alliance with the CONAIE and the MPD, Acosta launched a movement called Montecristi Vive to oppose the referendum. In the coastal city of
What Does the Outcome Mean?
Although many saw the referendum as a test of confidence in Correa’s government, voters apparently also voted on the basis of each individual question. As a result, seeing the outcome as a reflection of Correa’s popularity is simplistic and perhaps mistaken.
The urban poor remain Correa’s base, though he has lost much of the support of
Correa’s strongest base of support in the referendum was on the coast that in recent years has voted heavily for conservative candidates. Some social movement activists pointed to this as evidence of the rightward drift in Correa’s government, but it could equally represent a new fragmentation of Ecuadorian politics along class rather than regional lines. This development had already been apparent in recent elections in the coast
Likewise, central highland indigenous communities were one of the strongest bastions of opposition to the referendum. On the surface, it might appear that this represented a resurgence of CONAIE and Pachakutik, but these are also the areas where Gutiérrez has his strongest base of support and thus should be interpreted as a right wing rather than left opposition to Correa.
After winning six elections and with his popularity rating hovering around 60 percent, sociologist Jorge León contends that the referendum had little to do with the president wishing to consolidate or expand his power. Rather, León argued, it related to his psychological need to be loved and adored by the people. Furthermore, with an election still two years away, a referendum would be a way for Correa to demonstrate that his opponents had little weight or presence.
Correa remains the most popular politician that
Social movements in particular desire a president who is less authoritarian, less abrasive, less polarizing, and more responsive to their needs. More than anything, though, the referendum revealed a deeply fractured country that appears to be becoming even more divided along race, class, and regional lines.
Marc Becker is author of Pachakutik: Indigenous Movements and Electoral Politics in
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.