Volume 26, Number 4
Our War Criminals
Edward S. Herman
Bulldozers and More Talks
Catholic Abuse Scandal
Save Our Planet
Skills Gap Myth
The African Union
Compiled by Joel Chaffee
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.
Hugo Chavez, 1956-2013
Mark Weisbrot, Chavez’s Legacy
Bertrand Russell once wrote about the American revolutionary Thomas Paine, “He had faults, like other men; but it was for his virtues that he was hated and successfully calumniated.”
This was certainly true of Hugo Chávez Frias, who was probably more demonized than any democratically elected president in world history. But he was repeatedly re-elected by wide margins, and will be mourned not only by Venezuelans, but also by many Latin Americans who appreciate what he did for the region. Chávez survived a military coup backed by Washington and oil strikes that crippled the economy. But once he got control of the oil industry, his government reduced poverty by half and extreme poverty by 70 percent. Millions of people also got access to health care for the first time, and access to education also increased sharply, with college enrollment doubling and free tuition for many. Eligibility for public pensions tripled.
He kept his campaign promise to share the country’s oil wealth with Venezuela’s majority and that will be part of his legacy. So, too, will be the second independence of Latin America, and especially South America, which is now more independent of the U.S. than Europe is. Of course, this would not have happened without Chávez’s close friends and allies: Lula in Brazil, the Kirchners in Argentina, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador and others.
But Chávez was the first of the democratically-elected left presidents in the past 15 years and he played a very important role; look to what these colleagues will say of him and you will find it to be much more important than most of the other obituaries, anti-obituaries, and commentaries.
For these other democratic leaders, Chávez is seen as part of this continent-wide revolt at the ballot box that transformed South America and increased opportunities and political participation for previously excluded majorities and minorities.
Continuity in Venezuela is most likely to follow Chávez’s death, since his political party has more than 7 million members and demonstrated its ability to win elections without him campaigning in the December local elections, where they picked up 5 state governorships to win 20 of 23 states.
Relations with the United States are unlikely to improve; the State Department and President Obama himself made a number of hostile statements during Chávez’s last months of illness, indicating that no matter what the next government (presumably, under Nicolas Maduro) does, there is not much interest on Washington’s part in improving relations.
Selma James and Nina Lopez, Hugo Chávez Knew That
His Revolution Depended On Women
The funeral of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela took place on International Women’s Day—a fitting day of departure for “the president of the poor” who was loved by millions, especially by women, the poorest.
When Chávez was elected in 1998, the grassroots movement took a leap in power, and women in particular were empowered. Women were the first into the streets against the 2002 U.S.-backed coup; their mobilization saved the revolution. When asked why, woman after woman said: “Chávez is us, he is our son.” He was an extension of who they were as strugglers for survival.
Chávez soon learned that the revolution he led depended on women, and said so: “Only women have the passion and the love to make the revolution.” He acknowledged that the “missions”—the new social services which were at the heart of his popularity and which the state funded but did not run—were mainly created and run by grassroots neighborhood women.
In 2006, when announcing the partial implementation of Article 88 of the new constitution recognizing caring work as productive—a breakthrough worldwide—Chávez said: “[Women] work so hard raising their children, ironing, washing, preparing food…giving [their children] an orientation…. This was never recognized as work yet it is such hard work!.... Now the revolution puts you first, you too are workers, you housewives, workers in the home.”
As the president of the poor is laid to rest, the historic Operation Condor trial opens in Argentina, tackling the coordinated campaign of state terror of former Latin American dictatorships. We must recall a little-known aspect of Chávez’s legacy. Venezuela’s oil revenue supported Argentina’s Presidents Nestor and Cristina Kirchner, enabling them to pass laws removing the military’s immunity from prosecution. The Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who led the 1983 overthrow of the dictatorship, and who had campaigned for justice for the thousands the dictatorships raped, murdered, and disappeared, have long paid tribute to Chávez—a most unusual military man. They, like women all over South America and beyond, will be watching anxiously to see that the gains of the Bolivarian revolution are not undermined.
Pepe Escobar, El Comandante Has Left The Building
Now that would be some movie; the story of a man of the people who rises against all odds to become the political Elvis of Latin America. Bigger than Elvis, actually; a president who won 13 out of 14 national democratic elections. No chance you will ever see such a movie winning an Oscar—much less produced in Hollywood. Unless, of course, Oliver Stone convinces HBO about a cable/DVD special. How enlightening to watch world leaders’ reactions to the death of Venezuela’s El Comandante, Hugo Chávez. Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica—a man who actually shuns 90 percent of his salary because he insists he covers his basic necessities with much less—once again reminded everyone how he qualified Chávez as “the most generous leader I ever met,” while praising the “fortress of democracy” of which Chávez was a great builder.
Compare it with U.S. President Barack Obama—in what sounds like a dormant cut and paste by some White House intern—reaffirming U.S. support for “the Venezuelan people.” Would that be “the people” who have been electing and re-electing Chávez non-stop since the late 1990s? Or would that be “the people” who trade Martinis in Miami demonizing him as an evil communist. El Comandante may have left the building—his body defeated by cancer—but the post-mortem demonization will go on forever. One key reason stands out. Venezuela holds the largest oil reserves in the world. Washington and that crumbling Kafkaesque citadel, also known as the European Union, sing “All You Need is Love” non-stop to those ghastly, feudal Persian Gulf petro-monarchs (but not to “the people”) in return for their oil.
According to the Foreign Ministry, Vice-President Nicolas Maduro will be temporarily in power before new elections are held within the next 30 days. Maduro is bound to win them handily as the Venezuelan political opposition is a fragmented joke. This spells out Chavismo without Chávez—much to the chagrin of the immense Pan-American and pan-European Chávez-hating cottage industry.
So there’s nothing unexpected in Manduro’s announcement a few hours before El Comandante’s death, that two U.S. embassy employees would be expelled in 24 hours; Air Attache David Delmonaco, and assistant Air Attache Devlin Costal. Delmonaco was accused of fomenting—what else?—a coup with some factions of the Venezuelan military. Those gringos never learn. The verdict is now open on what exact brand of revolutionary was Chávez. He always praised everyone from Mao to Che in the revolutionary pantheon. He certainly was a very skillful popular leader with a fine geopolitical eye to identify centuries-old patterns of subjugation of Latin America. Thus, his constant reference to the Hispanic revolutionary tradition from Bolivar to Marti. Stark numbers tell most of the story that needs to be known. Venezuelan public deficit is a mere 7.4 percent of GDP. Public debt is 51.3 percent of GDP—much less than the European Union average.
The public sector—defying apocalyptic “communist” accusations—accounts for only 18.4 percent of the economy; less than state-oriented France and even the whole of Scandinavia. In terms of geopolitics of oil, quotas are established by OPEC; so the fact that Venezuela is exporting less to the U.S. means it’s diversifying its customers (and exporting more and more to strategic partner China). And here’s the clincher; poverty accounted for 71 percent of Venezuelan citizens in 1996. In 2010, the percentage had been reduced to 21 percent.
Years ago, it took a novelist like Garcia Marquez to reveal El Comandante’s secret as The Great Communicator; he was one of them (his “people,” in the not-Barack Obama sense), from the physical appearance to the mannerisms, convivial attitude and language (the same applied to Lula in relation to most Brazilians).
So while Oliver Stone surveys the film market, one will be waiting for a Garcia Marquez to elevate Chávez to novelistic Walhalla. One thing is sure. In terms of a Global South narrative, history will record that El Comandante may have left the building, but then, after him the building was never the same again.
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.