Labor in Iran
Yes We Camp
Gabriel matthew Schivone
FROM THE WEB
Net Briefs - 09-09
WAR & PEACE
Afghan Drug War
WEALTH & HEALTH
Zaps - 09-09
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Honduran Coup Tries to Halt Advance of Latin American Left
The June 28 coup against Manuel Zelaya of Honduras represents a last ditch effort by Honduras's entrenched economic and political interests to stave off the advance of the new left governments that have taken hold in Latin America over the past decade. As Zelaya proclaimed after being forcibly dumped in Costa Rica: "This is a vicious plot planned by elites. The elites only want to keep the country isolated and in extreme poverty."
Zelaya should know, since his roots are in the country's land-owning class, having devoted most of his life to agriculture and forestry enterprises that he inherited. He ran for president as the head of the center-right Liberal Party on a fairly conservative platform, promising to be tough on crime and to cut the budget. Inaugurated in January 2006, he supported the U.S.-backed Central American Free Trade Agreement, which had been signed two years earlier, and continued the economic policies of neo-liberalism, privatizing state held enterprises.
Thousands march in Honduras in support of the ousted president, July 2009; the military has detained hundreds of protesters and shot demonstrators—photo from chiapas.indymedia.org
But about halfway into his four year term, the winds of change blowing from the south caught his imagination, particularly those coming from Hugo Chavez's Venezuela. With no petroleum resources, Honduras signed a generous oil subsidy deal with Venezuela and then last year joined the emergent regional trade bloc ALBA (the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas). Inspired by Venezuela, the organization—renamed this June as the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America—now has Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Dominica, and Ecuador as members. Simultaneously, Zelaya implemented domestic reform policies, significantly increasing the minimum wage of workers and teachers, while stepping up spending in health care and education.
The upshot is that a reform-minded president supported by labor unions and social organizations is now pitted against a mafia-like, drug-ridden, corrupt political elite accustomed to controlling the Supreme Court, Congress, and the presidency.
The Honduran elites were outraged that a member of their class would carry out even modest reforms. They began to portray Zelaya as a demagogue and demonized Hugo Chavez as trying to take over the country. When Zelaya announced that he would hold a plebiscite on June 28 to see if the country wanted to have the option in the upcoming November presidential elections to vote for convening a constituent assembly that would draft a new constitution, the political establishment would have none of it. They incorrectly claimed that Zelaya was trying to stand for re-election. In fact, the possibility that a president might serve a second term could only emerge in a new constitution that would not be drafted until well after Zelaya left office in January 2010. The elites did however have reason to fear a new Magna Carta, since this is the path that Chavez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, and Rafael Correa in Ecuador have used to draft new constitutions to begin transforming their countries' political, social, and economic structures.
The political establishment decided to quash the plebiscite. The Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional and the military refused to help distribute the ballots. On June 24, Zelaya fired the head of the army, General Romeo Vasquez, and then led workers and social movement activists to seize ballots stored at an air force base for distribution. On June 28 at 6:00 AM, the day of the plebiscite, the military sent a special army unit to seize Zelaya and deport him to Costa Rica. The next day the Supreme Court levied charges of treason against Zelaya and Congress elevated its president, Roberto Micheletti, to the presidency.
The rest of the Americas, and most of the world, reacted with outrage. The Organization of American States (OAS) convened an emergency session and voted unanimously to call on the coup-makers to restore Zelaya to power. Regional organizations like the Group of Rio also denounced the coup, while the European Union and the World Bank announced that they were suspending economic assistance to Honduras. Even the more conservative governments of Alvaro Uribe of Colombia and Felipe Calderon of Mexico felt compelled to denounce the coup.
What explains this virtually unanimous opposition to the coup? Most of Latin America still remembers the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s when three-quarters of the continent's population fell under military rule. Countries like Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil still bear the scars and traumas of this period, and do not want to contemplate any opening that would allow their militaries to begin interfering once again in the political sphere.
The United States is also publicly opposed to the coup, with President Obama denouncing it, saying it set a "terrible precedent" and that, "We do not want to go back to a dark past" in which coups often trumped elections. He added: "We always want to stand with democracy."
However, many observers are suspicious of how solid the U.S. stand against the coup is. Given his emphasis on multilateralism, Obama may have had little choice, knowing that his predecessor George W. Bush had roiled Latin America when he rushed to endorse the last coup attempt in the region against Chavez in 2002.
The State Department has taken a more tepid stance. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked if "restoring the constitutional order" in Honduras meant restoring Zelaya, she would not say yes. When Zelaya brought up his plans for the June referendum, U.S. officials took the position that it was unconstitutional and would inflame the political situation.
Washington also has a very close relationship with the Honduran military, which goes back decades. During the 1980s the U.S. used bases in Honduras to train and arm the Contras, Nicaraguan paramilitaries who became known for atrocities in their war against the Sandinista government in neighboring Nicaragua. John Negroponte, who became the czar of intelligence during the Bush administration after serving as U.S. ambassador to Iraq, first achieved notoriety when he served as U.S. ambassador to Honduras in the early 1980s and granted U.S. approval to death squads run by a special Honduran military unit against domestic opponents. General Romeo Vasquez is a two-time attendee (1976 and 1984) of the U.S.-based School of the Americas.
On July 1, the OAS meeting in Washington called for the immediate restoration of Zelaya. On July 4, the head of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza of Chile, along with the president of the UN General Assembly Miguel d'Escota of Nicaragua, tried to fly into Honduras with Zelaya, but were not permitted to land as the Honduran military occupied the airport.
In the weeks since then U.S. policy towards Honduras indicates that the Obama administration does not represent "change you can believe in." Rather, it is bent on imposing its will and propping up the status quo in Latin America, just as previous Administrations did.
The U.S. obsession with Venezuela is at the heart of its policy towards Zelaya. Philip Crowley, Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs at the State Department, stated that the coup should serve as a "lesson" for the deposed president who had signed trade and petroleum accords with Venezuela: "We certainly think that if we were choosing a model government and a model leader for countries of the region to follow, that the current leadership in Venezuela would not be a particular model. If that is the lesson that President Zelaya has learned from this episode, that would be a good lesson."
Then, in an August 5 letter to Senator Richard Lugar, the leading Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the State Department declared that U.S. policy "is not based on supporting any particular politician or individual," meaning the Administration is no longer interested in restoring Zelaya.
While the OAS and the progressive governments of Latin America remain unwavering in their support of Zelaya, the key to his return to power now lies with the popular movement inside Honduras. Virtually every day brings reports of demonstrators in the streets of Tegucigalpa or of people marching on the capital from the countryside. Although nine known opponents of the regime have been assassinated, the demonstrators are not intimidated. "Fear is not really increasing," says Canadian activist Sandra Cuffe, who has spent the past six years working with popular movements in Honduras. "Outrage and indignation and determination and courage are. People are still out on the streets every day."
Roger Burbach is author of The Pinochet Affair and director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA) in Berkeley, California.
Roger Burbach is author of The Pinochet Affair and director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA) in Berkeley, California.
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.