Fidel Castro on NATO’S Inevitable War in Libya

In contrast with what is happening in Egypt and Tunisia, Libya occupies the first spot on the Human Development Index for Africa and it has the highest life expectancy on the continent. Education and health receive special attention from the State.  The cultural level of its population is without a doubt the highest.  Its problems are of a different sort.  The population wasn’t lacking food and essential social services.  The country needed an abundant foreign labour force to carry out ambitious plans for production and social development.

For that reason, it provided jobs for hundreds of thousands of workers from Egypt, Tunisia, China and other countries.  It had enormous incomes and reserves in convertible currencies deposited in the banks of the wealthy countries from which they acquired consumer goods and even sophisticated weapons that were supplied exactly by the same countries that today want to invade it in the name of human rights.

Colossal Campaign of Lies

The colossal campaign of lies, unleashed by the mass media, resulted in great confusion in world public opinion.  Some time will go by before we can reconstruct what has really happened in Libya, and we can separate the true facts from the false ones that have been spread.

Serious and prestigious broadcasting companies such as Telesur, saw themselves with the obligation to send reporters and cameramen to the activities of one group and those on the opposing side, so that they could inform about what was really happening.

Communications were blocked, honest diplomatic officials were risking their lives going through neighbourhoods and observing activities, day and night, in order to inform about what was going on.  The empire and its main allies used the most sophisticated media to divulge information about the events, among which one had to deduce the shreds of the truth.

Without any doubt, the faces of the young people who were protesting in Benghazi, men, and women wearing the veil or without the veil, were expressing genuine indignation.

One is able to see the influence that the tribal component still exercises on that Arab country, despite the Muslim faith that 95% of its population sincerely shares.

Taking Advantage of Internal Conflict in Libya

Imperialism and NATO ‒ seriously concerned by the revolutionary wave unleashed in the Arab world, where a large part of the oil is generated that sustains the consumer economy of the developed and rich countries ‒ could not help but take advantage of the internal conflict arising in Libya so that they could promote military intervention.  The statements made by the United States administration right from the first instant were categorical in that sense.

The circumstances could not be more propitious.  In the November elections, the Republican right-wing struck a resounding blow on President Obama, an expert in rhetoric.

The fascist “mission accomplished” group, now backed ideologically by the extremists of the Tea Party, reduced the possibilities of the current president to a merely decorative role in which even his health program and the dubious economic recovery were in danger as a result of the budget deficit and the uncontrollable growth of the public debt which were breaking all historical records.

Rebel Leaders Reject Foreign Military Intervention

In spite of the flood of lies and the confusion that was created, the US could not drag China and the Russian Federation to the approval by the Security Council for a military intervention in Libya, even though it managed to obtain  however, in the Human Rights Council, approval of the objectives it was seeking at that moment.  In regards to a military intervention, the Secretary of State stated in words that admit not the slightest doubt: “no option is being ruled out”.

The real fact is that Libya is now wrapped up in a civil war, as we had foreseen, and the United Nations could do nothing to avoid it, other than its own Secretary General sprinkling the fire with a goodly dose of fuel.

The problem that perhaps the actors were not imagining is that the very leaders of the rebellion were bursting into the complicated matter declaring that they were rejecting all foreign military intervention.

Various news agencies informed that Abdelhafiz Ghoga, spokesperson for the Committee of the Revolution stated on Monday the 28th that “‘The rest of Libya shall be liberated by the Libyan people'”.

“We are counting on the army to liberate Tripoli’ assured Ghoga during the announcement of the formation of a ‘National Council’ to represent the cities of the country in the hands of the insurrection.”

“‘What we want is intelligence information, but in no case that our sovereignty is affected in the air, on land or on the seas’, he added during an encounter with journalists in this city located 1000 kilometres to the east of Tripoli.”

“The intransigence of the people responsible for the opposition on national sovereignty was reflecting the opinion being spontaneously manifested by many Libyan citizens to the international press in Benghazi”, informed a dispatch of the AFP agency this past Monday.

“We Know What Happened In Iraq”

That same day, a political sciences professor at the University of Benghazi, Abeir Imneina, stated:

“There is very strong national feeling in Libya.”

“‘Furthermore, the example of Iraq strikes fear in the Arab world as a whole’, she underlined, in reference to the American invasion of 2003 that was supposed to bring democracy to that country and then, by contagion, to the region as a whole, a hypothesis totally belied by the facts.”

The professor goes on:

“‘We know what happened in Iraq, it’s that it is fully unstable and we really don’t want to follow the same path.  We don’t want the Americans to come to have to go crying to Gaddafi’, this expert continued.”

“But according to Abeir Imneina, ‘there also exists the feeling that this is our revolution, and that it is we who have to make it’.”

A few hours after this dispatch was printed, two of the main press bodies of the United States, The New York Times and The Washington Post, hastened to offer new versions on the subject; the DPA agency informs on this on the following day, March the first: “The Libyan opposition could request that the West bomb from the air strategic positions of the forces loyal to President Muamar al Gaddafi, the US press informed today.”

“The subject is being discussed inside the Libyan Revolutionary Council, ‘The New York Times’ and ‘The Washington Post’ specified in their online versions.”

“‘The New York Times’ notes that these discussions reveal the growing frustration of the rebel leaders in the face of the possibility that Gaddafi should retake power”.

“In the event that air actions are carried out within the United Nations framework, these would not imply international intervention, explained the council’s spokesperson, quoted by The New York Times”.

“The council is made up of lawyers, academics, judges and prominent members of Libyan society.”

The dispatch states:

“‘The Washington Post’ quoted rebels acknowledging that, without Western backing, combat with the forces loyal to Gaddafi could last a long time and cost many human lives.”

Who are These “Prominent Members of Society” Demanding Bombing in Order to Kill Libyans?

It is noteworthy that in that regard, not one single worker, peasant or builder is mentioned, not anyone related to material production or any young student or combatant among those who take part in the demonstrations.  Why the effort to present the rebels as prominent members of society demanding bombing by the US and NATO in order to kill Libyans?

Some day we shall know the truth, through persons such as the political sciences professor from the University of Benghazi who, with such eloquence, tells of the terrible experience that killed, destroyed homes, left millions of persons in Iraq without jobs or forced them to emigrate.

Today on Wednesday, the second of March, the EFE Agency presents the well-known rebel spokesperson making statements that, in my opinion, affirm and at the same time contradict those made on Monday: “Benghazi (Libya), March 2.  The rebel Libyan leadership today asked the UN Security Council to launch an air attack ‘against the mercenaries’ of the Muamar el Gaddafi regime.”

“‘Our Army cannot launch attacks against the mercenaries, due to their defensive role’, stated the spokesperson for the rebels, Abdelhafiz Ghoga, at a press conference in Benghazi.”

“‘A strategic air attack is different from a foreign intervention which we reject’, emphasized the spokesperson for the opposition forces which at all times have shown themselves to be against a foreign military intervention in the Libyan conflict”.

Which One of the Many Imperialist Wars Would This Look Like?

Which One of the Many Imperialist Wars Would This Look Like? The one in Spain in 1936? Mussolini’s against Ethiopia in 1935? George W. Bush’s against Iraq in the year 2003 or any other of the dozens of wars promoted by the United States against the peoples of the Americas, from the invasion of Mexico in 1846 to the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982?

Without excluding, of course, the mercenary invasion of the Bay of Pigs, the dirty war and the blockade of our Homeland throughout 50 years, that will have another anniversary next April 16th.

In all those wars, like that of Vietnam which cost millions of lives, the most cynical justifications and measures prevailed.

For anyone harbouring any doubts, about the inevitable military intervention that shall occur in Libya, the AP news agency, which I consider to be well-informed, headlined a cable printed today which stated: “The NATO countries are drawing up a contingency plan taking as its model the flight exclusion zones established over the Balkans in the 1990s, in the event that the international community decides to impose an air embargo over Libya, diplomats said”.

Further on it concludes: “Officials, who were not able to give their names due to the delicate nature of the matter, indicated that the opinions being observed start with the flight exclusion zone that the western military alliance imposed over Bosnia in 1993 that had the mandate of the Security Council, and with the NATO bombing in Kosovo in 1999, THAT DID NOT HAVE IT”.

When at just 27 years old Gaddafi, colonel in the Libyan army, inspired by his Egyptian colleague Abdel Nasser, overthrew King Idris I in 1969, he applied important revolutionary measures such as agrarian reform and the nationalization of oil. The growing incomes were dedicated to economic and social development, particularly education and health services for the reduced Libyan population living in the immense desert territory with very little available farm land.

Beneath that desert was an immense deep ocean of fossil waters.  I had the impression, when I learned about an experimental farming area, that this would be more beneficial in the future than oil.

Religion, preached with the fervour that characterizes the Muslim peoples, was helping in part to balance the strong tribal tendency that still survives in that Arab country.

The Libyan revolutionaries drew up and applied their own ideas in regards to the legal and political institutions which Cuba, as a norm, respected.

We refrained completely from giving opinions about the conceptions of the Libyan leadership.

Basic US Concern is Not Libya but the Revolutionary Wave Being Unleashed in the Arab World

We see clearly that the basic concern of the United States and NATO is not Libya, but the revolutionary wave being unleashed in the Arab world, something they would like to prevent at any cost.

It is an irrefutable fact that relations between the US and its NATO allies with Libya in recent years were excellent, before the rebellions loomed up in Egypt and Tunisia.

At senior level meetings between Libya and the NATO leaders, nobody had any problems with Gaddafi.  The country was a sure supply source of top-quality oil, gas and even potassium.  The problems arising between them during the first decades had been overcome.

Strategic sectors such as oil production and distribution opened their doors to foreign investment.

Privatization reached many public corporations.  The World Monetary Fund exercised its beatific role in the orchestration of these operations.

As logic would have it, Aznar piled lavish praise on Gaddafi and on the heels of Blair, Berlusconi, Sarkozy, Zapatero and even my friend the King of Spain, they paraded under the mocking gaze of the Libyan leader.  They were happy.

Although it may appear that I am being facetious, that’s not the case; I merely wonder why they now want to invade Libya and haul Gaddafi up in front of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

They are accusing him, 24 hours a day, of shooting against unarmed demonstrating citizens.  Why don’t they explain to the world that the weapons, and especially all the sophisticated repressive equipment Libya possesses, were provided by the United States, Great Britain and the other illustrious hosts of Gaddafi?

Cynicism and Lies

I am against the cynicism and the lies that they are now using in an attempt to justify the invasion and occupation of Libya.

The last time I visited Gaddafi was in May of 2001, 15 years after Reagan attacked his rather modest residence where he took me to show me how it had been left.  It received a direct air hit and was considerable destroyed; his little three-year-old daughter died in the attack: she was murdered by Ronald Reagan.  There was no prior agreement by NATO, the Human Rights Council, not even the Security Council.

My earlier visit had taken place in 1977, eight years after the start of the Libyan revolutionary process.  I visited Tripoli; I participated in the Libyan Peoples’ Congress in Sebha; I toured the first experimental farms using the waters extracted from the immense sea of fossil water; I saw Benghazi and I received a warm reception.  This was a legendary country that had been the stage for historic battles in the last world war.  At the time the population barely reached six million, nor were they aware of the enormous volume of light oil and fossil water. By then the former Portuguese African colonies had been liberated.

In Angola, we had fought for 15 years against the mercenary gangs organized by the United States on tribal bases, the Mobutu government, and the well-armed and trained racist apartheid army.  That army, following instructions of the United States, as we know today, invaded Angola to prevent its independence in 1975, reaching the outskirts of Luanda with their motorized troops. Several Cuban instructors died in that brutal invasion.  With the utmost urgency we sent resources.

Ejected from the country by internationalist Cuban troops and the Angolans, right up to the border with Namibia that was occupied by South Africa, for 13 years the racists received the mission of liquidating the revolutionary process in Angola.

With the backing of the United States and Israel they developed nuclear weapons.  They already had that weapon when Cuban and Angolan troops defeated their land and air forces in Cuito Cuanavale and, confronting the risks, using conventional tactics and weapons, advanced to the Namibian border where the apartheid troops wanted to put up resistance.  Twice in their history our troops have been under the risk of being attacked by these kinds of weapons: in October 1962 and in southern Angola, but on that second occasion, not even using the weapons that South Africa possessed would they have been able to prevent the defeat that marked the end of the odious system.  The events occurred under the Ronald Reagan government in the United States and that of Pieter Botha in South Africa.

No one speaks about that, and about the hundreds of thousands of lives that were the toll of the imperialist exploit.

I regret having to remember these facts when another great risk hovers over the Arab peoples, because they do not resign themselves to continue being the victims of pillage and oppression.

Arab Revolution Against Privileges

The revolution in the Arab world, so feared by the US and NATO, is the revolution of those who lack all their rights in the face of those who wield all the privileges, thus called the most profound revolution since the one which burst on Europe in 1789 with the storming of the Bastille.

Not even Louis XIV, when he proclaimed that he was the State, had the privileges that King Abdul of Saudi Arabia possesses, and much less than the immense wealth that lies beneath the surface of this practically desert-covered country where Yankee transnationals determine extraction and thus, the price of oil in the world.

Starting with the crisis in Libya, extractions in Saudi Arabia reached a million barrels a day, at a minimal cost and, as a result, for just this reason, the incomes of that country and those controlling it are reaching a billion dollars a day.

Nobody imagines, of course, that the Saudi people are swimming in money.  It is heartrending to read about the living conditions of many of the construction workers and those in other sectors, who are forced to work 13 and 14 hour days for miserable salaries.

Alarmed by the revolutionary wave that is shaking the prevailing system of plunder, after what has happened in Egypt and Tunisia with the workers, but also because of the unemployed youth in Jordan, the occupied territories in Palestine, Yemen and even Bahrain and the Arab Emirates with their higher incomes, the Saudi upper hierarchy is under the impact of these events.

Unlike other times, today the Arab peoples receive almost instant information about what is happening, even if it is being extraordinarily manipulated.

The worst thing for the status quo of the privileged sectors is that the stubborn events are coinciding with a considerable increase in the price of foods and the devastating effect of climate change, while the US, the biggest producer of corn in the world, uses up 40 percent of that subsidized product and a large part of soy to produce biofuel to feed automobiles.  Surely Lester Brown, the American ecologist who is the best-informed on agricultural products, can give us an idea about the current food situation.

Bolivarian President Hugo Chávez is making a brave attempt to seek a solution without NATO intervention in Libya.  His possibilities of reaching his objective would be increased if he would attain the feat of creating a broad movement of opinion before and not after the intervention happens, and the peoples don’t see a repetition in other countries of the atrocious Iraqi experience.

Indo-US Nuclear Deal: Kowtowing Again!

One more accord has been concluded under the much-trumpeted Indo-US nuclear deal. But like the previous two — the 123 bilateral agreement with the US and the safeguards accord with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — the latest agreement, too, will escape scrutiny by the Indian Parliament. The newest agreement involves US consent to India to reprocess spent fuel of American origin.

Is it a good advertisement for the world’s most-populous democracy that while the American president will submit the reprocessing agreement to the US Congress for scrutiny, the Indian Parliament will again be shut out from playing any role on this latest accord? How can there be effective checks and balances in a democracy if the executive branch insists that the national legislature has no role to play in any international agreement?

It is only on the nuclear-accident liability issue that the government is coming to Parliament because that involves passing a new law. In fact, it wants Parliament to pass a law that limits liability to a pittance, overturning the doctrine of absolute liability that the Supreme Court has set in response to the Bhopal gas disaster.

The result of blocking Parliament from scrutinising the nuclear deal is that India is now saddled with a deal that does not adequately protect its interests. India has got no legally binding fuel-supply guarantee to avert a Tarapur-style fuel cutoff, and no right to withdraw from its obligations under any circumstance, although the US has reserved the right for itself to suspend or terminate the arrangements.

The terms of the latest reprocessing agreement are in continuation of what the US was able to extract in the 123 bilateral agreement. The US has retained the right to unilaterally suspend its grant of reprocessing consent to India. This is an extension of its right, incorporated in the 123 agreement, to unilaterally suspend or terminate fuel supply to India. That is exactly what the US did in the mid-70s under its previous 123 agreement with India dating back to 1963. As a result, the twin-reactor, US-built Tarapur nuclear power plant near Mumbai, was left high and dry.

In the newest 123 agreement, the US has retained the legal right to unilaterally terminate cooperation but provided political assurances to India that such a right will be exercised only in extraordinary circumstances. A similar approach is mirrored in the reprocessing accord.

Under Article 7 of the reprocessing accord, the reprocessing consent can be suspended on grounds of “national security” or a “serious threat to the physical protection of the facility or of the nuclear material at the facility,” and if the party determines “that suspension is an unavoidable measure.” So the US right to suspend reprocessing consent is unfettered.

Still, the agreement’s article 7 and the accompanying “agreed minute” record political assurances to India that such a right shall be exercised only in special circumstances and after careful thought. But such assurances hold little value when the legal right to suspend reprocessing consent is explicitly recorded in the text.

The actual implementation of the reprocessing agreement is years away, even though US-origin spent fuel has been accumulating in India for nearly 40 years at Tarapur.
India will not be able to reprocess that spent fuel until it has built at least one new dedicated reprocessing facility — a process that will take a number of years. Article 1(3) specifies that the US consent relates to “two new national reprocessing facilities established by the government of India.”

Only in those new facilities, approved by the IAEA, can India reprocess the discharged fuel under international inspection. Any additional reprocessing facility can be added only with prior US agreement.

Another feature of the agreement is that it amplifies India’s reprocessing obligations with the IAEA, including to provide facility-design information in advance and to allow unhindered international monitoring and verification (article 2). But in addition, the accompanying “agreed minute” obligates India to permit US “consultations visits” to each dedicated reprocessing facility. Every “visiting team of not more than 10 persons” will be permitted onsite access “at a time and duration mutually agreed by the parties.”

It is thus apparent that the US has got what it wanted. For example, the state department had earlier notified the US Congress in writing that “the proposed arrangements and procedures with India will provide for withdrawal of reprocessing consent” by the US. That is exactly what the text of the accord provides. Also by providing for US “consultations visits,” it effectively permits IAEA-plus inspections.

Had the Parliament been allowed to play a role, the government would have been able to leverage that to fight back one-sided provisions.

Brahma Chellaney/DNA

Honduras President Zelaya Faces Acid Test

Accompanied by OAS head José Miguel Insulza, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, Ecuadorian leader Rafael Correa, and Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, the Nicaraguan president of the UN General Assembly and enjoying the support of international opinion and working class solidarity around the world, Honduras President Manuel Zelaya returns home today to a hero’s welcome.

The military putsch has lost steam in the face of massive local protests and the ruling elite backed by the men in uniform have developed cold feet. The show of support from the OAS and the UN has been joined by a series of moves by governments in Latin America and Europe as well as international bodies aimed at isolating the new regime in Honduras and intensifying pressure on it.

Ten Latin American countries have withdrawn their ambassadors, as well as Spain, France and Italy. The World Bank announced that it was suspending all loans to Honduras. The country’s Central American neighbours – Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador – said they were cutting off all overland trade.

The Obama administration has officially joined, albeit reluctantly, in condemning the coup and calling for Zelaya’s reinstatement – US representatives participated in the votes at the OAS and the UN – but it has signalled its hostility to Zelaya. The 56-year-old land owner and logging baron, who was elected in 2005 as the candidate of the bourgeois establishment Liberal Party, has won the enmity of Washington in recent years by adopting a populist posture and allying himself with Venezuela President Hugo Chávez.

The US has refrained from formally declaring Zelaya’s ouster a “coup,” a designation that would, under US laws, require Washington to cut off military aid to the country and impose sanctions. Nor has it recalled its ambassador. But Washington said it is putting aid to Honduras “on hold”.

There is ample evidence that the Obama administration was deeply involved in plans by Zelaya’s opponents within the Honduran ruling elite – sections of business, the military, the political establishment and the Church – to destabilize or topple his government.

The New York Times on Tuesday cited an unnamed US official as saying that US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon and US Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens spoke to “military officials and opposition leaders” in the days before the coup.

He said, “There was talk of how they might remove the president from office, how he could be arrested, on whose authority they could do that.” Both Shannon and Llorens served under the Bush administration as top advisers on Andean affairs – covering Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. Their stints on the National Security Council and at the State Department coincided with the US-backed coup that briefly toppled Venezuela’s Chávez in 2002.

It appears that the Obama administration was seeking to effect a de facto coup, but without a direct use of the military and under the cover of constitutional legality. That would, it hoped, reverse Washington’s declining influence in Latin America and pave the way for an offensive against Chávez and his left nationalist allies in Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and other countries aligned with Venezuela in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.

Since Sunday’s coup, Washington has been working for a negotiated settlement between Zelaya and the new government, possibly involving restoring Zelaya to power, but on terms more favourable to the US and under conditions where Zelaya’s government would be politically crippled.

As Kevin Casas-Zamora, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former vice president of Costa Rica, told the Los Angeles Times, “We’re talking about a guy who is at odds with virtually every institution and political actor in the country. He won’t be able to govern.”

On Tuesday, following his speech before the UN, Zelaya made a concession to Washington, telling reporters that if returned to office he would abandon his plans for a constitutional assembly and declaring that he would not seek a second term when his tenure expires in January. He also thanked the Obama administration for its “support.”

The Obama administration is attempting to maintain a façade of support for democracy in Honduras in part because of the political difficulties it would face were it to openly back a military coup there while conducting a propaganda war against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad based on unsubstantiated allegations that he “stole” that country’s June 12 election. Moreover, it wants to avoid a debacle for the US similar to that which the Bush administration suffered as a result of its open support for the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela.

The real attitude of US imperialism to democracy in Honduras and the rest of Latin America is revealed in the virtual silence of the US media on the events unfolding in the impoverished country. Virtually no coverage is being given to the repression being carried out by the coup regime, or the ongoing resistance of workers and other opponents of the coup.

Government ministers have been arrested and beaten. If you leave your home after 9pm, the population have been told, you risk being shot. Tanks and tear gas are ranged against the protesters who have thronged on to the streets.

For the people of Latin America, this is a replay of their September 11. On that day in Chile in 1973, Salvador Allende – a peaceful democratic socialist who was steadily redistributing wealth to the poor majority – was bombed from office and forced to commit suicide.

He was replaced by a self-described “fascist”, General Augusto Pinochet, who went on to “disappear” tens of thousands of innocent people. The coup was plotted in Washington DC, by Henry Kissinger.

The official excuse for killing Chilean democracy was that Allende was a “communist”. He was not. In fact, he was killed because he was threatening the interests of US and Chilean mega-corporations by shifting the country’s wealth and land from them to its own people.

When Salvador Allende’s widow died last week, she seemed like a symbol from another age – and then, a few days later, the Honduras military coup came back.

Honduras is a small country in Central America with only seven million inhabitants, but it has embarked on a programme of growing democracy of its own. In 2005, Zelaya ran promising to help the country’s poor majority – and he kept his word. He increased the minimum wage by 60 per cent, saying sweatshops were no longer acceptable and “the rich must pay their share”.

The tiny elite at the top – who own 45 per cent of the country’s wealth – are horrified. They are used to having Honduras run by them, for them. But this wave of redistributing wealth to the population is washing over Latin America.

In the barrios and favelas (shanty towns made out of mud and rusted tin) now have doctors and teachers and subsidised supermarkets for the first time, because they elected leaders who have turned the spigot of oil money in their direction.

In Venezuela, for example, the poorest half of the country has seen its incomes soar by 130 per cent after inflation since they chose Hugo Chavez as their President, according to studies cited by the Nobel Prize-winning US economist Joseph Stiglitz. Infant mortality has plummeted. No wonder so many Latin American countries are inspired by this example: the notion that Chavez has to “bribe” or “brainwash” people like Zelaya is bizarre.

It was always inevitable that the people at the top would fight back to preserve their unearned privilege. In 2002, the Venezuelan oligarchy conspired with the Bush administration in the kidnapping of Hugo Chavez. It was only a massive democratic uprising of the people that forced his return.

Now they have tried the same in Honduras. Yet the military-business nexus have invented a propaganda-excuse that is being eagerly repeated by dupes across the Western world. The generals claim they have toppled the democratically elected leader and arrested his ministers to save democracy. Here’s how it happened.

Honduras has a constitution that was drawn up in 1982, by the oligarchy, under supervision from the outgoing military dictatorship. It states that the President can only serve only one term, while the military remains permanent and “independent” – in order to ensure they remain the real power in the land.

Zelaya believed this was a block on democracy, and proposed a referendum to see if the people wanted to elect a constituent assembly to draw up a new constitution. It could curtail the power of the military, and perhaps allow the President to run for re-election.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled that it is unconstitutional to hold a binding referendum within a year of a presidential election. So Zelaya proposed holding a non-binding referendum instead, just to gauge public opinion. This was perfectly legal.

The military – terrified of the verdict of the people – then marched in with their guns. But there has been progress since the days of 1973, or even 2002. The coups against Allende and Chavez were eagerly backed by the CIA and White House.

But this time, Barack Obama has said: “We believe the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the President of Honduras.” He called the coup “a terrible precedent.” His reaction wasn’t perfect: unlike France and Spain, he didn’t withdraw the US Ambassador yet.

He supports the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which are vast brakes on Latin American democracy, and he bad-mouths Chavez while arming the genuinely abusive Colombian government. But it is a vast improvement on Bush and McCain, who would have been mistily chorusing “We are all Honduran Generals now.”

The ugliest face of the Latin American oligarchy is now standing alone against the world, showing its contempt for democracy and for its own people. They are fighting to preserve the old continent where all the wealth goes to them at the end of a machine gun.

But history is against them. The revolution in Latin America is unstoppable.

Obama’s Victory: A Marxist Viewpoint

By Sitaram Yechury/ The Indian Express

The remarkable ascendancy of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America brings to mind an ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times”. When my generation was growing up, Hollywood, in late 1960s, captured the conflicts of American society in the film ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’, the dilemma of an all white family whose daughter invites her African-American boyfriend to dinner. Sidney Poitier poignantly conveyed the insecurities of racial prejudices. This film strengthened the resolve amongst many of us to fight discrimination of all sorts. On my first visit to New York in the early Seventies, it was common place to find an African American on the streets asking for change. Today, one has walked into the White House on a popular mandate for Change. In this sense, history is, indeed, being made.
Fidel Castro had described Obama as “the most progressive candidate for US Presidency” from the “social and human points of view”, but warned that it would be an illusion to presume that the character of US imperialism would undergo any decisive progressive shifts. Marx had once said, “Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past”.

Obama inherits a past: US imperialism’s hegemonic drive to impose a global unipolarity under its tutelage; US strategic doctrine of ‘preemptive strike’ against any sovereign independent country in the world; the US’s self-declared right to militarily attack and occupy any country in the name of the‘global war against terrorism’. He inherits the notorious history of ‘state terrorism’ practiced by successive US governments. He has declared to continue the criminal economic blockade against Cuba. He inherits the presidential sanction for torture in Abu Ghraib, or Guantanamo.

US support to Israel has denied the Palestinians their ‘home land’ all through the 20th century. Will this change now? Pertinent to us, in India, is that, with this unprecedented Democratic sweep in the US Congress and Senate as well, the pressures for resurrecting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will mount. With the Indo-US nuclear deal’s attendant pressures on India, this has serious implications. Further, Obama has already displayed keen interest in resolving the Kashmir dispute when India has consistently maintained that there is no scope for any third party intervention in this Indo-Pak bilateral issue. Obama has declared this as a priority in order to have Pakistan’s undistracted attention in helping the US militarily to combat the Taliban.

Surely, on these and many other important issues, the official US position will be known once Obama assumes the reins of office. So also will the world know how the US administration, under him, intends to tackle the current crisis of global capitalism. A recession has already begun in the US and fast spreading to other industrialised countries. Definitive positions can only be taken subsequently.

The moot question, therefore, is: will any of this change? While there are expectations, the track record of US imperialism renders all such hopes illusiory. US imperialism’s earlier preoccupation with its ‘war on communism’ led to the unilateral aggression against Vietnam, will the pressures of the current ‘war against terrorism’ propel the Obama administration into more horrendous acts of ‘state terrorism’?

Obama concludes his book, The Audacity of Hope, by dedicating himself to the process that built the US: “those like Lincoln and King, who ultimately laid down their lives in the service of perfecting an imperfect union. And all the faceless, nameless men and women, slaves and soldiers and tailors and butchers, constructing lives for themselves and their children and grandchildren, brick by brick, rail by rail, calloused hand by calloused hand, to fill in the landscape of our collective dreams…It is that process I wish to be a part of.”

Indeed laudable. But will this process be confined to some 300 million people that account for less than 5 per cent of the world population? The fate of the remaining 95 per cent of humanity, war or peace, air that may be fit to breathe or not, their quality of life, as Fidel Castro said, will depend to a great extent on the decisions of the Empire’s institutional leader.

Return to the Chinese curse. It contains a belief that in every crisis situation, there is also the path for hope. Will this be used for creating a better world? The past experience of US imperialism, however, has shown that the leopard never changes its spots. If so, then the struggle shall continue for the triumph of hope over experience.

(The writer is Rajya Sabha MP and member of the CPM politburo)

Roger And Out