domingo, 29 de marzo de 2009

¡¡Nosotros no pagaremos por su crisis!!

Berlín, Francfort, Viena, París y Londres... y el movimiento crece!!

sábado, 28 de marzo de 2009

viernes, 27 de marzo de 2009

Londres '09

Ahora sí, ahí viene el descontento popular.
La gente está furiosa, y con razón, y no dejará que los gobiernos de las 20 economías más fuertes del mundo abandonen su reunión sin haber sentido al menos una probada de su descontento.

Londres 28 de marzo a 2 de abril: reunión del G-20

y en las calles: una de las más grandes protestas populares de la historia

Londres cerrará esta década como lo hizo Seattle hace 10 años.
¿Será ésta la plataforma que expanda al movimiento altermundista? ¿Aumentará su capacidad de convocatoria y movilización? ¿Se reflejarán las demandas de la gente en las políticas implementadas por estos gobiernos o continuarán arrastrándose servilmente a los pies de sus amos en la banca?

Londres 2009

Video de crímenes de guerra en Gaza

El personal médico y los hospitales no pueden ser considerados un blanco militar.

Video de The Guardian

El derecho a la alimentación o De como se erradicó el hambre en Belo Horizonte

March 18, 2009
A Visit to Belo Horizonte

The City That Ended Hunger


"To search for solutions to hunger means to act within the principle that the status of a citizen surpasses that of a mere consumer."


In writing Diet for a Small Planet, I learned one simple truth: Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but a scarcity of democracy. But that realization was only the beginning, for then I had to ask: What does a democracy look like that enables citizens to have a real voice in securing life's essentials? Does it exist anywhere? Is it possible or a pipe dream? With hunger on the rise here in the United States-one in 10 of us is now turning to food stamps-these questions take on new urgency.

To begin to conceive of the possibility of a culture of empowered citizens making democracy work for them, real-life stories help-not models to adopt wholesale, but examples that capture key lessons. For me, the story of Brazil's fourth largest city, Belo Horizonte, is a rich trove of such lessons. Belo, a city of 2.5 million people, once had 11 percent of its population living in absolute poverty, and almost 20 percent of its children going hungry. Then in 1993, a newly elected administration declared food a right of citizenship. The officials said, in effect: If you are too poor to buy food in the market-you are no less a citizen. I am still accountable to you.

The new mayor, Patrus Ananias-now leader of the federal anti-hunger effort-began by creating a city agency, which included assembling a 20-member council of citizen, labor, business, and church representatives to advise in the design and implementation of a new food system. The city already involved regular citizens directly in allocating municipal resources-the "participatory budgeting" that started in the 1970s and has since spread across Brazil. During the first six years of Belo's food-as-a-right policy, perhaps in response to the new emphasis on food security, the number of citizens engaging in the city's participatory budgeting process doubled to more than 31,000.

The city agency developed dozens of innovations to assure everyone the right to food, especially by weaving together the interests of farmers and consumers. It offered local family farmers dozens of choice spots of public space on which to sell to urban consumers, essentially redistributing retailer mark-ups on produce-which often reached 100 percent-to consumers and the farmers. Farmers' profits grew, since there was no wholesaler taking a cut. And poor people got access to fresh, healthy food.

When my daughter Anna and I visited Belo Horizonte to write Hope's Edge we approached one of these stands. A farmer in a cheerful green smock, emblazoned with "Direct from the Countryside," grinned as she told us, "I am able to support three children from my five acres now. Since I got this contract with the city, I've even been able to buy a truck."

The improved prospects of these Belo farmers were remarkable considering that, as these programs were getting underway, farmers in the country as a whole saw their incomes drop by almost half.

In addition to the farmer-run stands, the city makes good food available by offering entrepreneurs the opportunity to bid on the right to use well-trafficked plots of city land for "ABC" markets, from the Portuguese acronym for "food at low prices." Today there are 34 such markets where the city determines a set price-about two-thirds of the market price-of about twenty healthy items, mostly from in-state farmers and chosen by store-owners. Everything else they can sell at the market price.

"For ABC sellers with the best spots, there's another obligation attached to being able to use the city land," a former manager within this city agency, Adriana Aranha, explained. "Every weekend they have to drive produce-laden trucks to the poor neighborhoods outside of the city center, so everyone can get good produce."

Another product of food-as-a-right thinking is three large, airy "People's Restaurants" (Restaurante Popular), plus a few smaller venues, that daily serve 12,000 or more people using mostly locally grown food for the equivalent of less than 50 cents a meal. When Anna and I ate in one, we saw hundreds of diners-grandparents and newborns, young couples, clusters of men, mothers with toddlers. Some were in well-worn street clothes, others in uniform, still others in business suits.

"I've been coming here every day for five years and have gained six kilos," beamed one elderly, energetic man in faded khakis.

"It's silly to pay more somewhere else for lower quality food," an athletic-looking young man in a military police uniform told us. "I've been eating here every day for two years. It's a good way to save money to buy a house so I can get married," he said with a smile.

No one has to prove they're poor to eat in a People's Restaurant, although about 85 percent of the diners are. The mixed clientele erases stigma and allows "food with dignity," say those involved.

Belo's food security initiatives also include extensive community and school gardens as well as nutrition classes. Plus, money the federal government contributes toward school lunches, once spent on processed, corporate food, now buys whole food mostly from local growers.

"We're fighting the concept that the state is a terrible, incompetent administrator," Adriana explained. "We're showing that the state doesn't have to provide everything, it can facilitate. It can create channels for people to find solutions themselves."

For instance, the city, in partnership with a local university, is working to "keep the market honest in part simply by providing information," Adriana told us. They survey the price of 45 basic foods and household items at dozens of supermarkets, then post the results at bus stops, online, on television and radio, and in newspapers so people know where the cheapest prices are.

The shift in frame to food as a right also led the Belo hunger-fighters to look for novel solutions. In one successful experiment, egg shells, manioc leaves, and other material normally thrown away were ground and mixed into flour for school kids' daily bread. This enriched food also goes to nursery school children, who receive three meals a day courtesy of the city.

The result of these and other related innovations?

In just a decade Belo Horizonte cut its infant death rate-widely used as evidence of hunger-by more than half, and today these initiatives benefit almost 40 percent of the city's 2.5 million population. One six-month period in 1999 saw infant malnutrition in a sample group reduced by 50 percent. And between 1993 and 2002 Belo Horizonte was the only locality in which consumption of fruits and vegetables went up.

The cost of these efforts?

Around $10 million annually, or less than 2 percent of the city budget. That's about a penny a day per Belo resident.

Behind this dramatic, life-saving change is what Adriana calls a "new social mentality"-the realization that "everyone in our city benefits if all of us have access to good food, so-like health care or education-quality food for all is a public good."

The Belo experience shows that a right to food does not necessarily mean more public handouts (although in emergencies, of course, it does.) It can mean redefining the "free" in "free market" as the freedom of all to participate. It can mean, as in Belo, building citizen-government partnerships driven by values of inclusion and mutual respect.

And when imagining food as a right of citizenship, please note: No change in human nature is required! Through most of human evolution-except for the last few thousand of roughly 200,000 years-Homo sapiens lived in societies where pervasive sharing of food was the norm. As food sharers, "especially among unrelated individuals," humans are unique, writes Michael Gurven, an authority on hunter-gatherer food transfers. Except in times of extreme privation, when some eat, all eat.

Before leaving Belo, Anna and I had time to reflect a bit with Adriana. We wondered whether she realized that her city may be one of the few in the world taking this approach-food as a right of membership in the human family. So I asked, "When you began, did you realize how important what you are doing was? How much difference it might make? How rare it is in the entire world?"

Listening to her long response in Portuguese without understanding, I tried to be patient. But when her eyes moistened, I nudged our interpreter. I wanted to know what had touched her emotions.

"I knew we had so much hunger in the world," Adriana said. "But what is so upsetting, what I didn't know when I started this, is it's so easy. It's so easy to end it."

Adriana's words have stayed with me. They will forever. They hold perhaps Belo's greatest lesson: that it is easy to end hunger if we are willing to break free of limiting frames and to see with new eyes-if we trust our hard-wired fellow feeling and act, no longer as mere voters or protesters, for or against government, but as problem-solving partners with government accountable to us.

Frances Moore Lappé wrote this article as part of Food for Everyone, the Spring 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Frances is the author of many books including Diet for a Small Planet and Getting a Grip, co-founder of Food First and the Small Planet Institute, and a YES! contributing editor.

The author thanks Dr. M. Jahi Chappell for his contribution to the article.

martes, 24 de marzo de 2009

Cerco gubernamental contra los defensores de derechos humanos en La Montaña de Guerrero

El cerco gubernamental contra los defensores de derechos humanos

Difusión Cencos México D.F., 24 de marzo de 2009

Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan

En la medida en que los ciudadanos y ciudadanas nos involucramos y comprometemos en la promoción, la defensa y el disfrute de los derechos humanos de la población más desprotegida del estado, en esa medida los defensores y defensoras, empezamos a experimentar la animadversión y el golpeteo de las autoridades que no están dispuestas a cumplir con su responsabilidad primordial de proteger y hacer efectivos los derechos humanos. Esta actitud hostil se expresa en la desatención a nuestros planteamientos, en ignorar nuestro trabajo, descalificarnos y criminalizarnos.

La mayoría de las autoridades estatales y municipales actúan con prepotencia y con un sentimiento revanchista ante los planteamientos que hacemos en torno a casos de violaciones a derechos humanos. Piensan en automático que nuestras intervenciones, están motivadas por intereses partidistas. No conciben que nuestro trabajo esté inspirado en una causa universal que está más allá de interese económicos y políticos, por el contrario se nos denigra y se forjan concepciones erróneas sobre lo que hacemos, como el hecho de catalogarnos como defensores de delincuentes, como lucradores sociales, protectores de la delincuencia organizada y como parapetos de organizaciones guerrilleras.

Todos estas visiones se construyen dentro de las esferas de un poder omnímodo e impune, que no tolera el trabajo de los defensores de derechos humanos y mucho menos acepta que las organizaciones civiles hagamos públicas sus actuaciones ilegales y que actúen con transparencia y honestidad.

Este trabajo a pesar des estar respaldado por la ONU, es una actividad de alto riesgo en nuestro país y en nuestro estado. La crispación política que vivimos, el ambiente de inseguridad, la narcoviolencia y la militarización, son indicadores alarmantes de un retorno a la época más oscura y siniestra que se tienen memoria, como la guerra sucia. Más allá de las formalidades y los discursos plagados de verborrea democrática, la realidad es que la alternancia política no ha significado una transformación de las estructuras gansteriles del poder, mucho menos un desmantelamiento del autoritarismo político y de todo su aparato represor.

La libertad económica promovida por el neoliberalismo, es la libertad que restringe los derechos y las libertades ciudadanas. La libertad económica requiere leyes que protejan los grandes intereses financieros y de una clase política dócil y alineada al paradigma del libre mercado. Lo más importante para este modelo político es contar con un aparato represivo que contenga el malestar de la sociedad.

La falta de legitimidad de las autoridades y sobretodo la implantación de políticas públicas contrarias a los intereses de la población mayoritariamente pobre, nos ha colocado en una situación de confrontación permanente, por la lucha de intereses de clase antagónicos, que hacen imposible la solución pacifica de los conflictos, debido a que las ambicione del gran capital nunca van a coincidir con las aspiraciones legitimas de la clase trabajadora. En este contexto donde la tendencia unipolar del sistema neoliberal quiere seguir dominando y sometiendo a las mayorías empobrecidas, hacen inviables los principios democráticos de justicia, igualdad, equidad, libertad y solidaridad entre todos los pueblos.

Ante la imposibilidad de cumplir con estas demandas, los gobiernos han recurrido al uso del ejército mexicano para que puedan suplantarlos ante la debilidad política de las autoridades civiles. Esta situación permite que tanto el ejército como las fuerzas policiacas vuelvan por sus fueros para imponer la ley del terror, como sucedió en la guerra sucia, una época que muchos creíamos difícil de reeditar en tiempos de la derecha empresarial.

Los autores de la represión al quedar impunes vuelven a recobrar fuerza y a levantar vuelo para continuar con sus tareas clandestinas de hacer el trabajo sucio contra los que luchan por la transformación de las instituciones.

A Los ciudadanos nos toca padecer las formas de cómo ejercen el poder las autoridades y soportar a una burocracia que se ha enquistado dentro de instituciones obsoletas. ¿Qué institución pública se hace eco del sentir ciudadano y es capaz de atender y resolver sus demandas legitimas? ¿Hay alguna institución gubernamental que experimente que la ciudadanía esté dispuesta a defenderla porque sabe que vela por sus intereses? ¿Qué dependencia pública puede ufanarse de que cuenta con el respaldo y la confianza de la población?

El desencanto ciudadano radica en la traición que la clase gobernante le propinó al movimiento social que lo cooptó, lo dividió y lo intenta someter y desmantelar. La nueva muralla de la nueva clase política en estos tiempos de crisis, también le ha sabido abrir las puertas a la delincuencia de cuello blanco y a todas las manifestaciones del crimen organizado, que alimenta los negocios de la economía criminal. Estas fuerzas oscuras son parte orgánica de un sistema político que lucra con el tema de la transición política y vive de las rentas que le deja la corrupción y la impunidad. En esta telaraña de intereses inconfesables donde se desdibujan los grandes anhelos de la sociedad que se organiza desde abajo, los luchadores sociales o los defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos, apareceremos como disruptores del status quo y como actores incómodos para los mercenarios de la política.

En la región de Ayutla se expresa con mayor nitidez la estrategia gubernamental de amenazar, perseguir, torturar, detener, desaparecer y ejecutar a defensores indígenas, que en medio de su pobreza han sabido organizarse para defender sus derechos. Son ellos los que aparecen en la línea de fuego, los que han sufrido torturas, violaciones sexuales, ejecuciones extrajudiciales como las de El Charco y las de Raúl Lucas y Manuel Ponce, violaciones sexuales como las de Inés y Valentina; esterilizaciones forzadas; también sufren amenazas de muerte como las que enfrenta desde hace seis años Obtilia Eugenio Manuel y Cuauhtémoc Ramírez; son víctimas de la fabricación de delitos, como los casos de Orlando Manzanares, Natalio Ortega, Romualdo Santiago, Manuel Cruz y Raúl Hernández, los cinco presos de conciencia de la OPIM, que el pasado 19 de marzo, 4 de ellos alcanzaron su libertad.

La libertad de los 4 Me phaa es una conquista más del movimiento de los derechos humanos en Guerrero, pero por desgracia esto ha generado reacciones contrarias en el mismo gobierno del estado a través de la Procuraduría de Justica, al seguir enviando mensajes amenazantes de que no cejará en su intención de criminalizar a los indígenas que fueron declarados inocentes. Coincidentemente los grupos de poder en la región de Ayutla que se encargaron de fabricar estos delitos, volvieron a reactivar sus métodos delincuenciales, difundiendo en la comunidad de El Camalote, que la libertad de los cuatro compañeros la pagaran con su vida. A la compañera Obtilia le volvieron a enviar varios mensajes a su celular para recordarle que en cualquier momento le va a pasar algo, como sucedió con Raúl y Manuel.

Este ambiente hostil contra los defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos es propiciado por las mismas autoridades estatales y municipales que no reconocen y más bien criminalizan y atacan todos nuestros esfuerzos para que la justicia sea una realidad en la Montaña de los olvidados. Las visiones reduccionistas y cargadas de animadversión de la clase política y los cuerpos de seguridad, así como la indiferencia, la falta investigaciones sobre las amenazas a defensores son mensajes claros desde las altas esferas del poder de no reconocer y respetar nuestro trabajo como defensores.

En Guerrero vemos cómo las autoridades se colocan en la trinchera contraria de los defensores de derechos humanos y se empeñan en denostarnos desde diferentes frentes para acallar nuestras voces, para contener por la fuerza nuestras luchas y por ende, para que claudiquemos por la causa de los derechos de los indígenas y campesinos. En estas circunstancias difíciles vemos muy lejos a las autoridades para que asuman con gran responsabilidad su compromiso de garantizar la protección de los defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos. Falta voluntad política para desmantelar todo el tinglado de intereses políticos y económicos oscuros que prefieren hacer la guerra los indígenas en lugar de que llegue la justicia y la paz donde reina la muerte, la violencia, la pobreza y la impunidad.

23 de marzo de 2009

Los nombres de los presos de Atenco

Permanecen encarcelados en el penal de Molino de las Flores 9 compañeros sentenciados a 31 años, 11 meses y 15 días de cárcel. Sus nombres son: Oscar Hdz. Pacheco, Alejandro Pilón Zacate, Julio Espinosa Ramírez, Juan Carlos Estrada Cruces, Jorge Ordóñez Romero, Adán Ordóñez Romero, Narciso Arellano Hernández, Inés Rodolfo Cuellar Rivera y Eduardo Morales Reyes.

Y 3 en la Prisión de Máxima Seguridad de “El Altiplano”: Héctor Galindo y Felipe Álvarez, condenados a 67 años y medio de prisión, e Ignacio del Valle de Ignacio Del Valle, dirigente del Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra, condenado a 112 años de prisión, lo que equivale a cadena perpetua.

¡¡Libertad a presos políticos!!

Purgas en La Habana

Cuba: ¿Reformistas vs. talibanes?
Pablo Stefanoni
· · · · ·

¿Cómo leer los últimos acontecimientos de Cuba? Como en un súbito regreso a la Guerra Fría, los expertos de izquierda y derecha salieron a intentar descifrar los escasos y crípticos mensajes emitidos por el gobierno y, sobre todo, por el aún Comandante en Jefe, quien pese a titular sus columnas con el humilde rótulo de “reflexiones”, ocupa las primeras planas de los noticieros, los diarios y los mailing de las embajadas, sea para hablar de la crisis económica mundial, de política local o de temas más cotidianos como los “errores” de la selección cubana de béisbol (si consideramos las reflexiones de estos últimos días).

La izquierda fidelista internacional quedó tan descolocada que, o eligió balbucear una serie de frases tan generales como evasivas o prefirió, en contados casos, tomar el toro por las astas y admitir -como el editor del site Rebelión Pascual Serrano- que “los amigos de Cuba nos encontramos sin fuerzas ni información para explicar la institucionalidad cubana”. Y no es para menos: hasta el día anterior a su destitución – que incluyó una condena por “indignos”, por aprovecharse de unas mieles del poder por el que no lucharon y haber creado ilusiones en el enemigo- el vicepresidente Carlos Lage y el canciller Felipe Pérez Roque eran las caras más conocidas del régimen fuera de la isla, después de Fidel y Raúl Castro, además del nexo privilegiado con gobiernos afines y políticamente importantes como Bolivia y Venezuela. Al punto de que se los percibía como los emergentes del recambio generacional que, sea por decisiones políticas o leyes de la biología, tarde o temprano deberá producirse. Obviamente, la ola de destituciones demorará algún tiempo esa infalibilidad histórica.

Las destituciones fueron un baldazo de agua fría que recordó purgas –que aún generan explicaciones diversas y contrapuestas- como la del general y héroe de la Revolución Arnaldo Ochoa, al parecer simpatizante de la Perestroika y muy popular en Cuba, fusilado “con mucho pesar” por el gobierno en 1989, después de admitir en un juicio televisado, cargado de clichés moralistas, haber participado del tráfico de cocaína, marfil y diamantes, tejiendo vínculos con Pablo Escobar y aprovechando las misiones militares en Angola. O la del ex canciller, joven estrella y niño mimado de Fidel, Roberto Robaina, hace diez años, que terminó trabajando en el Parque Metropolitano de La Habana y hoy, según sus palabras, sólo se dedica a pintar.

Años antes, en 1992, Carlos Aldana –acusado de querer ser el Gorbachov cubano- sufrió la maldición de los “número 3”, considerados por los analistas y diplomáticos sucesores “naturales” de los hermanos Castro.

“Esta purga me recuerda un poco la furia con la que Raúl eliminó a la gente del Centro de Estudios sobre América en el '96. Era una cuestión de control. Raúl puede hablar de reformas cuando él lo considere conveniente, pero que no se atrevan otros a hacerlo. De nuevo, creo que es una cuestión de control y no necesariamente de oposición sustantiva a dichas ideas”, opina el profesor del Brooklyn College y autor de The Origins of the Cuban Revolution Reconsidered, Samuel Farber.

La falta de pruebas -o el hermetismo sobre ellas- en las acusaciones lanzadas por Fidel y el tono de confesión inquisitorial de las cartas de Lage y Pérez Roque admitiendo los “errores” y jurando lealtad a la revolución, a Fidel y a Raúl, dibujaron una imagen brezneviana de secretismo burocrático cuestionable en el siglo XX pero casi imposible de justificar para las izquierdas del siglo XXI. Las preguntas vinieron solas: ¿los cubanos no tienen derecho a saber cuáles fueron los terribles delitos que mandaron a su casa y extinguieron en un abrir y cerrar de ojos el poder de dos referentes de la revolución?, ¿si cometieron delitos no deberían ser juzgados en el marco de la institucionalidad cubana?, ¿era necesaria la excomunión además de ser excluidos de todos sus cargos en el gobierno y en el partido?, ¿qué garantiza que no haya muchos más funcionarios usufructuando las “mieles del poder” en un país en el que oficialmente el poder no tiene mieles sino puro sacrificio?

La tesis que más circuló en la prensa internacional es que las destituciones de Lage y Pérez Roque y una decena de altos funcionarios claves es una victoria del ala aperturista de Raúl frente al ala conservadora de los “talibanes” proFidel. Es cierto que, desde su llegada al poder, después de la renuncia del líder máximo en 2006, Raúl fue desarmando la institucionalidad paralela del Grupo de apoyo al Comandante en Jefe y su Batalla de las Ideas, un proyecto que además de duplicar instituciones y mostrar una dudosa eficiencia, conllevaba una dosis de voluntarismo –financiado con préstamos blandos venezolanos-- con el que los militares cercanos a Raúl no simpatizan. Pero Lage parece estar lejos de ser un talibán comunista con urticaria al mercado y a la propiedad privada. En un artículo en La Jornada de México, un participante de una reunión en los años '90 entre Lage y un grupo de senadores mexicanos del hoy oficialista PAN, recuerda al entonces responsable de las políticas económicas del período especial posterior a la caída de la URSS como un “Chicago boy” por su “vehemente defensa de la apertura comercial” cubana, que moderó de inmediato su discurso ante una visita sorpresiva de Fidel.

En la misma línea, el anticastrista radical Carlos Alberto Montaner dice haber escuchado decir al entonces presidente mexicano Carlos Salinas de Gortari y a otra media docena de cancilleres y jefes de Estado que "Lage es el futuro". Y agrega que en esa época, los difíciles años 90, “parece que Lage, en privado, cuando conversaba con los políticos extranjeros, coqueteaba con las ideas democráticas y se vendía como el Adolfo Suárez caribeño”. Tampoco el ahora ex canciller P. Roque parecía ser el “talibán” de la época de asistente de máxima confianza de Fidel y “a los ojos de muchos políticos y diplomáticos extranjeros, incluido el canciller español Ángel Moratinos, se había transformado en un “reformista”. ¿Por eso fueron acusados de haber ilusionado al enemigo? Una versión es que Robaina cayó luego del pinchazo de una llamada telefónica en el que el ex canciller español Abel Matutes le decía "Mi candidato [para la transición] siempre has sido tú".

Pero estos datos tampoco avalan la tesis contrapuesta de parte de la derecha de Miami –obnubilada por su odio a los Castro- de un golpe de los conservadores contra los aperturistas. La simpatía de Raúl Castro por el Doi Moi (renovación vietnamita), que considera al mercado una conquista de la humanidad y no del capitalismo, y propicia una suerte de capitalismo de Estado con control monolítico del poder por el Partido Comunista y las Fuerzas Armadas, no es ninguna novedad. Con una economía de comando de tipo soviético completamente agotada –lo que provoca, entre otras cosas, la ociosidad de gran parte de las tierras y la necesidad de importar masivamente alimentos- la apertura económica está de uno u otro modo en la agenda de todas las fracciones, el problema parece radicar en que la alianza entre los militares capitaneados por Raúl Castro y los burócratas del PCC comandados por el vicepresidente José Ramón Machado Ventura (políticamente conservadora y económicamente aperturista, con su ritmo y su estilo) no confiaba en los dirigentes defenestrados. "No voy a permitir que gente como tú jodan esta revolución tres meses después de que desaparezcamos los más viejos", le habría dicho Raúl a Robaina al momento de su destitución.

Como recuerda el ex investigador del Centro de Estudios sobre América (CEA), Haroldo Dilla, la elite cubana no fue nunca muy permeable a las nuevas generaciones. Y recuerda un dato adicional: Pérez Roque y Lage construyeron un vínculo con Hugo Chávez que los llevó a llamarlo "Presidente de Cuba" y proponer una utópica federación cubano-venezolana que habría chocado con la escasa simpatía de los altos militares cubanos por el socio rico venezolano. Estos militares –que hoy controlan las empresas más eficientes y rentables de Cuba y hacen alarde de su capacidad de gestión "combinando la organización capitalista con los principios socialistas”- buscan crear una institucionalidad más eficiente y perdurable en el ámbito interno y diversificar las relaciones en el externo. No fue casual la sucesión de visitas de presidentes latinoamericanos en los últimos meses, y el acercamiento a Lula, posible mediador en una –aunque sea limitada-- mejora de las relaciones con Washington en el contexto de la administración de Obama y del progresivo debilitamiento del lobby anticastrista de Miami y la permeabilidad o incluso adhesión explícita de los cubano-americanos más jóvenes, además de los propios empresarios estadounidenses, al fin del bloqueo. En este marco, la vieja guardia de la Sierra Maestra busca asumir ella misma, con racionalidad burocrática-empresarial, la tarea de la transición y no dejarla en manos de “arribistas”. Y a la vista de sus “reflexiones”, Fidel optó -como con Robaina o Aldana- por bendecir los recambios y excomulgar a los caídos en desgracia. Una pista la dio el politólogo Atilio Borón después de una reunión con el Comandante en Jefe (Clarín, 12-3-09): “Está muy preocupado por el impacto de la crisis en toda América Latina, porque cree que todo el proceso de cierto desplazamiento hacia al centroizquierda o la izquierda de los últimos años va a estar comprometido por una crisis que va a golpear muy fuerte en la región. Fidel es muy buen lector de la coyuntura. Teme que venga un reflujo de derecha en el contexto de la crisis y, luego de haber pasado el periodo especial con la caída de la URSS teme otro momento así”.

Pero, en la misma lógica de las purgas stalinistas y posestalinistas, los desplazamientos de funcionarios no se hacen a medias; es necesario destruir hasta el extremo su credibilidad ante la sociedad para condenarlos al ostracismo. Como advirtió el investigador francés Vincent Bloch, la corrupción generalizada -desde minucias hasta hechos de mayor escala- atraviesa a toda la sociedad cubana, y constituye una forma efectiva de control social. Al no existir medios lícitos que garanticen la sobrevivencia (y a veces ni siquiera el mero cumplimiento de las obligaciones laborales) sin hacer algo que puede ser definido en un momento u otro como “ilegal” –que la ironía cubana llama “inventos”- los cubanos tienen una permanente espada de Damocles sobre sus cabezas. Y las propias élites pueden también ser víctimas de esta lógica: basta escarbar en cualquier expediente para demostrar la “indignidad” de hasta minutos antes meritorios dirigentes revolucionarios. El paso siguiente es la “confesión” con fórmulas echas: inculpación y juramento de lealtad eterna.

Con la batalla ganada, sólo falta formalizar la nueva correlación de fuerzas en el VI congreso del Partido Comunista Cubano en 50 años. Pero la transición que buscará combinar apertura económica y control político ya comenzó. Para ello, los militares –y sobre todo, la Vieja Guardia- parecen más confiables que unos más imprevisibles jóvenes bolivarianos.

Pablo Stefanoni es corresponsal en La Paz de diario argentino Clarín y
del cotidiano italiano Il Manifesto.

Slumdogs vs. Billionaires

Cómo México, pero a una escala mayor.
India, la segunda economía más dinámica del mundo, presente un Índice de Desarrollo Humano entre los 30 peores países del mundo. Otro milagro más del neoliberalismo.

The HDI Oscars
Slumdogs vs. Billionaires

It’s been the night of the long knives for India’s billionaire population. Their band has just been decimated, falling by more than half from 53 to 24. The latest Croesus Count, also known as the Forbes Billionaires list, makes that much clear. We also fell by two notches to sixth rank in the list of nations with the most billionaires. India’s earlier No. 4 slot being slyly usurped by the Chinese who clock in with 29. More mortifying, we are a rung below the Brits who’ve grabbed Perch 5, with 25.

The net asset worth of India’s richest has also shrunk by over a third from the time of the last Forbes scroll. By 2007, that worth had reached $ 335 billion. That is, 53 individuals in a population of one billion held wealth equal to almost a third of their nation’s GDP at the time. This year, that worth plunged to $107 billion. (A moment’s respectful silence in memory of the dear, departed billions seems in order.) But there is some comfort in that our team is still worth more than twice what their Chinese rivals are. And we even now have 8 billionaires more than all the Nordic nations put together -- though they boast the highest living standards in the world.

“Four Indians were among the world’s top ten richest in 2008, worth a combined $160 billion,” points out Forbes. Today, alas, “that same foursome is worth just $ 54 billion.” But the 29 Indian tycoons reduced to the penury of mere millionairehood should not lose heart. Forbes offers us these words of reassurance. “The winds of wealth can change quickly…They may yet again blow favorably in the direction of these tycoons.” So what if the big balances fly at half mast briefly? There could be gales ahead.

Alongside this winnowing of India’s plutocrats runs a slightly longer-term and truly grim saga. India has fallen to 132 in the new rankings of the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) for 179 nations. Each year since 1990, the UN Development Programme brings us this index, as a part of its Human Development Report. The HDI “looks beyond GDP to a broader definition of well-being.” It seeks to capture “three dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy at birth). Being educated (measured by adult literacy and enrolment in primary, secondary and tertiary education). And third: GDP per capita measured in U.S. dollars at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).”

In the Index of 2007-08, India ranked a dismal 128. Now we’re at 132. That is our worst-ever grade on the Index in this decade. It means, among other things, that little Bhutan, never once in the Forbes hall of fame, has trumped us in the new HDI rankings. The tiny Himalayan nation clocks in at 131. That is, a notch above its “second-fastest-growing-economy-in the-world” neighbor. Bhutan once languished amongst the bottom 15 nations of the world in the UN’s HDI. It has never been amongst the world’s fastest growing economies.

At rank 132, India also lags behind the Republic of the Congo, Botswana, and Bolivia (this last often called Latin America’s poorest nation). The Occupied Territories of Palestine (torn by conflict for 60 years) are also ahead of us. Another neighbor -- Sri Lanka -- has been devastated by war for over two decades and has slipped a few notches. They still log in at 104 -- 28 rungs above India. Vietnam suffered casualties in millions in the war waged against it by the United States. Decades after, its agriculture is yet to recover from planned destruction, lethal bombing, and the conscious use of deadly poisons. But Vietnam clocks in at 114. And China stands at 94 despite falling several places.

The bad news about the bad news is that these figures reflect the “good news” days. They relate to the year 2006. (The SENSEX was booming. It breached the 10,000 and even 14,000-mark for the first time ever. The Indian economy also grew at 9.6 per cent in 2006-07 and 9.4 per cent in 2005-06.) Those supposedly glory days when we churned out 53 billionaires also nourished India’s plummet to 132nd rank in human development. As so often in history, the rich grew fatter while the poor ate even less, in the same period. So the updated HDI numbers do not begin to capture the economic downturn. The picture will be even less pretty when those factors kick in.

They do capture, though, the revised purchasing power parity (PPP) estimates that clocked in by late 2007. These columns foretold this problem at the time. It was clear that if the Index was using the older PPP data, then “even our awful HDI performance could get worse” once those were revised. (India’s GDP per capita (PPP) fell from $3,452 to $2,489 with the new data.)
We’d be even lower down than rank 132 but for our showing on the GDP-per capita front. Even now, our rank on that front is six notches higher than our HDI rank. It makes us look better than we are. For instance, in making out the current rankings, UN researchers point out that GDP per capita data for 2006 “caused India to rise one place.” But “new data (for 2006) on life expectancy caused India to fall one place.” India then also fell two more places as two more nations -- Montenegro and Serbia -- joined the list. Both fared better than we did. We fell a further two places “as a result of revised PPP estimates.” That’s how we ended up four slots below our last rank.

What does it mean to rank much better on GDP per capita than in the HDI, as we do? It means you have been less successful in converting income into human development. Our GDP per capita rank is six rungs higher than our HDI rank. Vietnam’s HDI rank of 114 is 15 rungs higher than its GDP per capita rank. Unlike us, Vietnam – despite awful historic handicaps -- has converted its wealth into human development far better.

Cuba logs in at 48, thus breaking into the top 50 nations in the HDI. (While India firms up its place in the bottom 50.) That’s seven places above wealthy Saudi Arabia whose per capita GDP is three times higher than Cuba’s. In that ranking, Saudi Arabia is No.35, towering above Cuba’s 88. But when it comes to human development, Saudi Arabia lags seven rungs below Cuba. Apart from lower income, Cuba has lived under crippling sanctions for decades. Sanctions that have imposed huge constraints and high prices on all essentials. Yet, life expectancy at birth in Cuba is now 77.9 years. That’s almost the same as the United States (78) and about 14 years better than India’s 64.1 years.

Meanwhile the USA has logged its worst rank ever, falling to 15 from number 12. Between 1995-2000, the USA was always in the top 5, even staying at rank 2 for a couple of years. Like with India, its decline in HDI has come in the very years seen as its best, the Golden Age of the Free Market, the Nirvana point of neo-liberalism. A year into the economic reforms, India in 1992 ranked 121 in 160 nations then covered by the Index. Today, India is at 132 amongst 179 nations. Straight comparisons across that time are hard as the Index has changed in numbers and methodology. But the trend is clearly not joyous.

The HDI figures since 2002 signal a steady decline in the nation’s conversion of wealth into human development -- even as the numbers of its billionaires and millionaires doubled and trebled. Now the billionaires have shrunk in number, but not the slumdogs. There are at least 836 million Indians living on less than Rs. 20 a day, as the government’s own report told us in 2007. Over 200 million of those get by on less than Rs. 12 daily. And those are pre-downturn numbers, too. Maybe we need a new Forbes 500 list -- naming the world's 500 poorest citizens. Who could beat us on that one?

P. Sainath is the rural affairs editor of The Hindu, where this piece appears, and is the author of Everybody Loves a Good Drought. He can be reached at:

Other India facts:

India has a higher rate of malnutrition among children under the age of three than any other country in the world (46% in year 2007). That compares with about 35 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa and only 8 per cent in China.---Unicef, the United Nations children’s agency

Anemia levels have risen compared with those of seven years ago, with about 56 per cent of women and 79 per cent of children below the age of 3 suffering from the disorder.---Unicef, 2008

India is home to roughly one-third of all poor people in the world. It also has a higher proportion of its population living on less than $2 per day than even sub-Saharan Africa.---World Bank, 2007

The rate of decline of poverty in India was faster between 1981 and 1990 than between 1990 and 2005. This is likely to give fresh ammunition to those who maintain that economic reforms, which started in 1991, have failed to reduce poverty at a faster rate.---numbers from World Bank, 2007

La militarización de la política

La militarización de la política
Luis Hernández Navarro

Relipe Calderón ha hecho de la guerra contra el narcotráfico el eje de su gobierno. El combate al crimen organizado ha proporcionado a su mandato una vía de legitimación que las urnas le negaron. La militarización de la política le ha dado las herramientas para administrar el país con medidas de excepción. La politización de la seguridad pública le ha facilitado recomponer la cadena de mando-obediencia.

De la misma manera en la que el 11 de septiembre de 2001 le permitió a George W. Bush intentar hacer de la guerra el poder constituyente de un nuevo orden neoconservador, la batalla contra los cárteles de la droga ha posibilitado al jefe del Ejecutivo mexicano tratar de afianzar y perpetuar su gobierno. Pero, en lugar de enviar tropas a Irak y Afganistán, el mandatario mexicano las ha sacado de sus cuarteles para tomar posiciones dentro del territorio nacional.

El Ejército está en las calles de muchas localidades del país, desempeñando funciones que no le corresponden. Ha establecido retenes, toques de queda de facto e inspecciones. Los mandos militares ocupan los puestos policiales. En lo que parece el ensayo general de lo que se piensa hacer en varios estados del norte, en lugares como Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, se vive una situación muy cercana a un estado de excepción no decretado por el Congreso.

Día a día Felipe Calderón se presenta ante los medios de comunicación como el comandante en jefe de una gran cruzada nacional. La propaganda nacional lo presenta como el defensor de las familias mexicanas. Sus desplazamientos por el país son organizados con el mayor sigilo. Sus actos públicos son encapsulados por elementos del Estado Mayor Presidencial. Las demandas o protestas en su contra son acalladas por la fuerza pública.

A corto plazo, la politización de la seguridad pública le ha proporcionado al jefe del Ejecutivo saldos positivos. Las encuestas le reconocen niveles de aceptación razonables, aunque han caído sistemáticamente en los últimos meses. Las violentas expresiones de descontento social que se vivieron durante 2006 se han acotado.

Entre las primeras bajas de la guerra en que vivimos se encuentran los derechos humanos. El marco jurídico ha sido transformado en despecho de éstos. En la macabra cuenta de descabezados, cadáveres insepultos y pozoleros que se registra cada día, el asesinato de líderes sociales apenas cuenta. La criminalización de la protesta social avanza cada día.

No parece importarle al jefe del Ejecutivo que al militarizar la política la haya desgastado y degradado. Pareciera ser que le tiene sin cuidado que en plena crisis económica, con la producción nacional estancada, el desempleo creciendo y la válvula de escape de la migración hacia Estados Unidos atascada, sus márgenes de maniobra se hayan reducido. La única salida que vislumbra es intensificar aún más esa guerra.

El último episodio de la politización de la seguridad pública son los reiterados señalamientos sobre el involucramiento con el crimen organizado de siete gobernadores del Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), formulados por distintos dirigentes y legisladores del Partido Acción Nacional (PAN). Ciertas o no las acusaciones, más que buscar combatir realmente el crimen organizado, lo que muestran es el deseo del blanquiazul de utilizar la ofensiva antinarco para golpear a sus rivales electorales.

Para Felipe Calderón el futuro inmediato es amargo. Todas las encuestas auguran el triunfo del tricolor en los próximos comicios federales. La pérdida de la mayoría panista en la Cámara de Diputados significará una declaratoria de muerte anticipada del sexenio calderonista, ya de por sí breve.

La única posibilidad de que Acción Nacional remonte electoralmente a corto plazo parece estar en que desde el gobierno federal se desate una furiosa campaña mediática que asocie a destacados políticos priístas con el narcotráfico para deslegitimarlos. El PAN posee una amplia experiencia en campañas electorales negativas y Antonio Solá, el asesor de cabecera del presidente para estos asuntos, sigue teniendo gran ascendencia sobre el hombre de Los Pinos.

Para Calderón, seguir una opción de esta naturaleza implicará quedarse sin aliados y poner en serio riesgo la ya de por sí precaria gobernabilidad existente. No hacerlo supondrá perder la mayoría en San Lázaro, ubicarse en condiciones muy difíciles de cara a los comicios de 2010, en los que se renovará casi la tercera parte de los gobernadores, y quedar preso en las redes del tricolor.

En 2006, al PAN y los poderes fácticos no les tembló la mano para polarizar el país y llevarlo al borde del enfrentamiento violento. A pesar de que el PRI no es López Obrador, la situación no tendría por qué ser distinta en 2009. Más aún si la ruta que se ha trazado desde Presidencia es la de incrementar la presencia de los militares en las calles, mantenerlos lejos de los cuarteles y ponerlos a hacer el trabajo que corresponde a los civiles.

jueves, 19 de marzo de 2009

¡¡Qué bonito cuadro!!

Qué bonito trío...

El gober, el espurio y el deschamps

por ahí dicen quesque "dime con quién andas...."

jueves, 12 de marzo de 2009

Amenazan de muerte a hermana de luchador social

Esto no es nuevo. Pasa todo el tiempo. Por eso mismo es motivo de alarma. México nunca ha dejado de ser un Estado represor. Lo peor es que la represión está alcanzando niveles no vistos inclusive en la Guerra Sucia de Echeverría, los asesinatos selectivos de Salinas o las matanzas militares de Zedillo.

Las desapariciones forzadas siguen siendo uno de los métodos preferidos del gobierno para amedrentar a activistas o movimientos sociales. Justo ahora que el secuestro es tema de debate político nadie parece poner atención a uno de los más violentos tipos de secuestro que existen: la desaparición forzada perpetrada por el Estado con el motivo de suspender la movilización ciudadana. Los activistas de derechos humanos Raúl Lucas Lucía y Manuel Ponce Rosas de la Organziación para el Futuro de los Pueblos Mixtecos fueron desaparecidos hace menos de 2 semanas. Nadie sabe de su paradero aunque todos sospechan quien perpetró este crimen. La organización Tlachinollan tomó nota de éste y otros muchos hechos acaecidos en la Montaña de Guerrero y ahora se encuentra en la mira de intereses represores ligados a algunos gobiernos municipales de esta región, el Ejército y el gobierno del Estado de Guerrero encabezado por Zeferino Torreblanca.


Envíen llamamientos para que lleguen lo más rápidamente posible, en español, en inglés o en su propio idioma a los correos electrónicos siguientes:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

- expresando preocupación por la seguridad de Lourdes Argelia Rodríguez Lucero y Prometeo Jorge Rodríguez Lucero (miembro del Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Tlachinollan”);
- instando a las autoridades a llevar a cabo una investigación inmediata, exhaustiva e imparcial sobre el ataque y la amenaza recibida; pidiendo que los resultados de esa investigación se hagan públicos y que los responsables de esos hechos comparezcan ante la justicia e;
- instando a las autoridades a garantizar la seguridad de Lourdes Argelia Rodríguez Lucero y Prometeo Jorge Rodríguez Lucero.

El Comité Cerezo México, el Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña "Tlachinollan" y el Centro de Derechos Humanos “Fray Francisco de Vitoria OP” AC; con domicilio, para oír y recibir comunicaciones, ubicado en calle Volcán Kirishima #6, Colonia El Mirador III Secc. Delegación Tlálpan. CP 14449, con número telefónico 55 5655 9465 y correo electrónico: solicita su intervención urgente ante:

La vigilancia, hostigamiento, ataque y amenazas de muerte en contra de Lourdes Argelia Rodríguez Lucero, defensora de los derechos humanos, y familiar de defensor de derechos humanos del Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Tlachinollan.”


Según el testimonio de Lourdes Argelia Rodríguez Lucero, joven de 18 años, estudiante del bachillerato en el Colegio de Ciencias y Humanidades, plantel Sur, perteneciente a la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), miembro del Centro Independiente de Noticias (CIN), egresada de la Escuela de Promotores Juveniles del Centro de Derechos Humanos “Fray Francisco De Vitoria O.P.” A.C. y hermana de Prometeo Jorge Rodríguez Lucero (miembro del Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Tlachinollan”):

“El día lunes 9 de marzo me dirigía hacia la escuela, CCH Sur, caminando sobre Av. Canal de Chalco con rumbo a Periférico para tomar el pesero que me llevaría a la escuela.

Pasando Av. las Torres, hay un local de comida, uno de desechos y una refaccionaría por lo que los chiflidos, insultos, albures, jaloneos y demás es algo común hacia las mujeres que transitan por ahí.

Mientras caminaba, sentí que alguien jaló mi brazo pero no le di importancia pensando que era alguno de los hombres que trabajan en los locales; retiré mi brazo y seguí caminando.

Dos calles adelante, entre la calle 8 y 7, un hombre me tomó con fuerza por los codos simulando que me abrazaba, me dijo con acento costeño ‘No voltees’ y seguimos caminando; al pensar que me asaltarían, bajé mi mano hacia el bolsillo para mostrarle mi dinero, pero me inmovilizó la muñeca mientras me decía literalmente al oído: ‘No nos gusta el trabajo que está haciendo tu hermanito en Guerrero, dile que le pare porque nos vamos a desquitar contigo y tu cuñada’.

Eso sucedió mientras caminábamos y llegando a la calle 7 de la colonia José López Portillo, salió corriendo hacia dentro de la colonia.

Viéndolo de reojo, pude ver que era un hombre de 1.70 aprox., delgado, moreno, cabeza ancha y ojos medio rasgados, nariz recta. Vestía playera blanca, pantalón y chamarra de mezclilla; botas y corte tipo militar.”


El Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Tlachinollan” lleva varios casos actualmente. Uno de los más sonados ha sido el de Raúl Lucas Lucía y Manuel Ponce Rosas, defensores de los derechos humanos de la Organización para el Futuro de los Pueblos Mixtecos (OFPM) en Ayutla, Guerrero, detenidos desaparecidos el 13 de febrero del año en curso y posteriormente asesinados extrajudicialmente.

La difusión que ha tenido el caso de la (OFPM), se debe al exhaustivo trabajo de documentación de violaciones graves a los derechos humanos de la región que realiza el Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Thachinollan”, dicho trabajo ha sido valioso en cuanto al detalle de información y apoyo para diferentes organizaciones de Derechos Humanos nacionales e internacionales, en este contexto cabe resaltar que Prometeo Jorge Rodríguez Lucero, hermano de la defensora de derechos humanos agredida, es miembro de dicha organización de DDHH.

En el caso específico de Lourdes Argelia Rodríguez Lucero, cabe resaltar otros incidentes de seguridad que hemos podido documentar:

“El día 26 de febrero del año en curso me encontraba en mi casa en la Col. Valle de San Lorenzo en el DF estudiando, como a las 10 de la mañana salí a la tienda a comprar algunas cosas para comer y me percaté que había un hombre sentado en la esquina de mi calle, situación inusual en mi colonia; pasando de las 15 hrs., volví a salir a la tienda y el hombre seguía sentado en el mismo lugar, (vestía una playera color guinda, pantalón de mezclilla, botas y corte militar), mientras caminaba, me percaté que un hombre vestido de militar completamente, se acercó al hombre e intercambiaron unas palabras mientras volteaban hacia la calle, donde estaba yo caminando, fui a la tienda y regresé a mi casa.

Media hora después, como a las 15:30, el hombre de playera guinda tocó a mi casa dos veces pero no salí, sólo lo observe a través de la mirilla de la puerta ya que me encontraba sola.

Ese mismo día, un amigo fue a visitarme y cuando llegó a las 19:30 me asomé y el hombre seguía ahí sentado en la misma esquina.

Mi amigo se retiró a las 22 hrs. aproximadamente y al salir a acompañarlo a la esquina y el hombre ya no estaba.

El 3 de marzo, asistí a mi escuela (CCH-Sur), durante el trayecto, un hombre me observaba fijamente, el hombre se veía atlético, delgado, nariz aguileña y cabello ondulado negro, subió conmigo en el pesero que tomé en la esquina de mi casa y bajó conmigo en el Parque Ecológico de Xochimilco donde tomé el pesero con rumbo al CCH y nuevamente se subió al mismo pesero que yo y se bajo nuevamente conmigo en Boulevard de la Luz, caminé rápidamente y ya no vi que me siguiera.

Ese mismo día en la madrugada; a las 4:34 exactamente, marcaron tres veces del teléfono 5540804828; cuando contesté colgaron.

Desde hace casi un mes falla la comunicación del teléfono de mi domicilio al hablar con mi hermano Prometeo Jorge Rodríguez Lucero que trabaja actualmente en el Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Tlachinollan”. Él comenta que al hablar, sale la grabación que dice que el teléfono está fuera de servicio; sin embargo, nosotros sí podemos hablar por teléfono.

Mientras el teléfono de mi casa es 5845xxxx, al hablar, se registra con el número 58595801.

8 de marzo, nuevamente llamaron del mismo número (5540804828) a las 2:48 a.m. al contestar colgaron nuevamente.”

Por lo anterior las organizaciones firmantes solicitan que:

* Cese la vigilancia y el hostigamiento en contra de los familiares y allegados del defensor de los derechos humanos Prometeo Rodríguez Lucero y que garanticen la integridad física y psicológica de la defensora de los derechos humanos Argelia Rodríguez Lucero y sus familiares, así como de todos los miembros del Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Tlachinollan”.
* Al C. Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, con base al artículo 8 de la Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos solicitamos que, en el ámbito de su competencia y atribuciones, inste a que investiguen los hechos aquí descritos y nos informe sobre las acciones que el gobierno decida llevar a cabo para resolver tal situación.
* Se tomen medidas concretas y urgentes para implementar la Declaración de los Defensores emitida la Declaración sobre el Derecho y el Deber de los Individuos, los Grupos y las Instituciones de Promover y Proteger los Derechos Humanos y las Libertades Fundamentales Universalmente Reconocidas.
* Asegurar la aplicación de lo dispuesto en la Declaración sobre defensores de los de Derechos Humanos, adoptada por la por la Asamblea General de Naciones Unidas el 9 de Diciembre de 1998, en particular en lo referente a la protección del derecho de toda persona”...individual o colectivamente, a promover la protección y realización de los derechos humanos y las libertades fundamentales, en los planos nacional e internacional y a esforzarse por ellos” (Art.1), así como en lo relativo al deber del Estado de garantizar protección por las autoridades competentes de toda persona, individual o colectivamente, frente a toda violencia, amenaza, represalia, discriminación, negativa de hecho o de derecho, presión o cualquier otra acción arbitraria resultante del ejercicio legitimo de los derechos mencionados en la presente Declaración 8art. 12.2) y por la resolución sobre Defensores de Derechos Humanos en las Américas AG/RES. 1671 (XXIX-O/99), adoptada por la Organización de los Estados Americanos el 7 de junio de 1999
* A los organismos internacionales de protección de los derechos humanos, con base en el marco de sus atribuciones, expresen su preocupación ante la gravedad de los hechos e insten al gobierno mexicano a que atienda las peticiones planteadas.

Por las organizaciones:

Francisco Cerezo Contreras



martes, 10 de marzo de 2009

Subcontratados más de el 30% de los trabajadores bancarios en México

México SA
- Banca: ¿LFT?
- Outsourcing
- El pelotero catarrito

por Carlos Fernández-Vega

La "moderna" y "sólida" banca que opera en el país, mayoritariamente de capital extranjero, decidió violar una ley mexicana, adicional a las que por "usos y costumbres" transgrede cotidianamente: la Federal del Trabajo, la cual fue depositada en el bote de la basura por los consorcios foráneos que del sistema financiero otrora nacional han hecho su paraíso.

En sólo tres meses (octubre a diciembre de 2008) la banca que opera en el país dio de baja a 56 mil 641 trabajadores, para "reacomodarlos", por medio del outsourcing, en diferentes empresas "prestadoras de servicios", con lo que evadió ("se liberó", dice) la responsabilidad laboral a la que la ley la obliga: contratos, pago de Infonavit e IMSS, antigüedad, aguinaldo, vacaciones, pensiones y jubilaciones y demás prestaciones. Simple y sencillamente las "borró" de sus balances y obligaciones, junto con la posibilidad de huelga, y de paso para ese mundo de empleados bancarios que se han quedado a merced de las subcontratistas, las cuales, como las propias instituciones financieras, no se caracterizan ni son precisamente famosas por acatar los ordenamientos legales.

De tiempo atrás se sabe que las instituciones bancarias recurren crecientemente al outsourcing (subcontratación o "terciarización") para aligerar su nómina, incrementar sus ganancias y descaradamente evadir la ley laboral, sin que autoridad alguna las frene. Era conocido, pues, pero la Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores (la encargada de supervisar el legal funcionamiento del sector financiero) por primera vez ha reconocido y oficializado tal circunstancia sin mayores complicaciones.

Si se atiende su reporte de septiembre de 2008, la CNBV aseguraba que poco más de 151 mil empleados trabajaban en la banca que opera en el país y en ella cobraban con, se supone, todas las prestaciones de ley. Sin embargo, en su informe de cierre de año, ya con el "catarrito" encima, el organismo dependiente de la Secretaría de Hacienda reconoce el hecho de la creciente subcontratación y el "desvío" de personal.

Así, en diciembre pasado de las 157 mil 14 personas oficialmente empleadas por la banca, 56 mil 641 (36 por ciento del total) despachan y cobran por fuera, toda vez que causaron baja en la nómina bancaria y han sido "contratados" por terceros ("prestadores de servicios"), es decir, empresas de outsourcing, incluso creadas ex profeso por las propias instituciones financieras para evadir la ley, sin que autoridad alguna se de por enterada. Y este "estilo" de relación laboral se utiliza en prácticamente todos los sectores de la actividad económica (con lo que además de ganar millones adicionales "matan" empleo formal), aunque el financiero es el campeón de campeones.

En el referido informe 2008, la CNBV reconoce que en el último mes del año el balance en la banca fue el siguiente: 100 mil 373 empleados formalmente contratados por los bancos ("sindicalizados" alrededor de 65 por ciento de ellos) y 56 mil 641 supuestamente "contratados" por "prestadoras de servicios". Tres meses atrás, en septiembre de ese mismo año, la Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores aseguraba que el personal formalmente contratado por la banca sumaba 151 mil 439 personas.

Un par de años atrás se denunció que alrededor de 20 por ciento del personal de las instituciones financieras formalmente había causado baja de la nómina bancaria y, en automático, engrosado la relación de personal de las "prestadoras de servicios". Ahora abiertamente se reconoce que la proporción se ha incrementado a 36 por ciento, cuando menos. Con ello, los consorcios bancarios ahorran millones de pesos en impuestos y prestaciones laborales, al tiempo que desaparecieron un fantasma que los horroriza: el derecho de sus trabajadores de emplazar a huelga y actuar en consecuencia.

A los que formalmente quedan en nómina bancaria se les ha incrementado la chamba, por el mismo salario y con idéntica amenaza: si te quejas te mandamos a las "prestadoras de servicios". En un año (2008), por ejemplo, se vieron en la necesidad de atender 22.5 millones de cuentas de captación adicionales y las urgencias y necesidades de mil 300 sucursales más. Quien reclama, al “outsourcing”, y si insiste, a la calle. ¿Y la Secretaría del Trabajo?: "golpeando" a los "enemigos" del inquilino de Los Pinos.

En menor o mayor proporción prácticamente todos los bancos utilizan el truco del "outsourcing" para evadir la Ley Federal del Trabajo, pero se dan casos verdaderamente llamativos, como el de la trasnacional española BBVA-Bancomer, la cual reconoce 27 mil 121 personas trabajando para su causa, pero acota: de ese universo, sólo una fue contratada por la institución y 27 mil 120 por una "prestadora de servicios". Es de suponer, aunque pueden existir errores de apreciación, que el único que fue específicamente contratado por y que cobra en Bancomer y que, se supone, tiene todas las prestaciones de ley, es el director general de la filial del Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria; los demás, que arreen. Así, según las cifras de la CNBV, el 0.003 por ciento del personal al servicio de este banco está contratado en términos de ley y el resto fuera de, algo por demás notorio como para que la supuesta autoridad laboral ya lo hubiera registrado, impedido y sancionado. Pero no es así.

De los negocios oscuros y los manejos negros no podía quedar fuera el barón de los abonos chiquitos y los intereses de usura. Banco Azteca, propiedad de Ricardo Salinas Pliego, va más allá de Bancomer: de las 17 mil 994 personas reconocidas oficialmente que trabajan para su causa, todas, absolutamente todas, han sido "contratadas" por una "prestadora de servicios".

Lo mismo sucede con el Banco Inbursa, del catastrofista más rico del país: cero personal contratado por la institución de Carlos Slim y mil 544 por una "prestadora de servicios", de mil 544 posibles. Y al inventario se agregan los bancos chatarra Wal-Mart, Volkswagen, Autofin, Ahorro Famsa, Ve por Más, Regional, Compartamos (¡oremos!, porque es propiedad de los Legionarios de Cristo), entre otros.

Es la banca "moderna" y "sólida" (Calderón dixit) que trabaja por el bien de la patria, aunque no sea esta, desde luego.

Las rebanadas del pastel

Sólo a un acérrimo enemigo se le pudo ocurrir llevar al doctor "catarrito" a lanzar la primera bola en el Clásico Mundial de Beisbol, con la consecuente rechifla, y sólo al "pelotero" Carstens aceptar la invitación. De plano, no tiene remedio.

Tercero Constitucional: el descrédito del Legislativo

por Luis Hernández Navarro

Los diputados federales de todos los partidos políticos han mostrado tener la sensibilidad de un elefante. Mientras miles de maestros protestan en todo el país en contra de la Alianza por la Calidad de la Educación (ACE), ellos acordaron reformar la Constitución para abrir la puerta a su legalización. Al tiempo que prolifera la resistencia ciudadana a la privatización de la educación pública, ellos legislaron para que ésta camine más rápidamente.

El pasado 11 de diciembre, la Cámara de Diputados aprobó, obviando las dos lecturas reglamentarias y casi sin discusión, la reforma al artículo tercero constitucional. Todos los partidos apoyaron la reforma. Votaron a favor 299 legisladores, cuatro en contra y 11 se abstuvieron. Dos diputados que la rechazaron son miembros de Acción Nacional y otros dos del Partido Verde Ecologista de México.

No es un asunto cualquiera. El artículo tercero es uno de los puntales de la Constitución, uno de los soportes centrales del pacto social. Su modificación requería un gran consenso nacional. No lo tuvo.

Único orador en contra, Juan José Rodríguez Prats denunció en tribuna las graves deficiencias del dictamen, que, según él, estuvo hecho "sobre las rodillas". “Creo, señores –dijo–, que esta legislatura no se ha caracterizado por su trabajo eficiente. Hemos hecho muchas reformas precipitadamente y hemos caído en la degradación, y en toda mi experiencia parlamentaria, no lo había vivido, de legislar por trueque: tú me apruebas esta iniciativa, yo te apruebo ésta, y no se analizan las iniciativas en sus méritos, en su contenido ni en su trascendencia.”

Formalmente, la reforma instituye la obligatoriedad de la educación media superior y establece la educación como eje fundamental del desarrollo nacional, al tiempo que reconoce la necesidad de que exista una política de Estado en la materia. Adiciona como parte de la filosofía del artículo el respeto a los derechos humanos, la no discriminación y la paz. Asimismo, fija la necesidad de que la ley establezca lineamientos y criterios para garantizar que la educación se imparta y evalúe con calidad, transparencia y rendición de cuentas. Ajusta el texto constitucional para establecer "mecanismos claros y transparentes para fomentar la participación social en la educación".

Varias de las modificaciones aprobadas representan un avance en la norma. Sin embargo, otras son, en los hechos, una contrarreforma al carácter social del artículo tercero, mientras que varias más son, simple y llanamente, demagogia, pues establecen derechos sin garantizar su cumplimiento.

Como ha mostrado Hugo Aboites (La Jornada, 7/03/09), la reforma otorga un "respaldo constitucional a la evaluación privada y comercial", volviendo legal lo que hasta ahora no está ni siquiera considerado en la Ley General de Educación, cediendo "a grupos particulares el cuidado y la responsabilidad de la calidad de la educación". Precisamente lo que la ACE ha hecho, ante la indignación y el malestar de miles de profesores.

Al añadir al texto constitucional el reconocimiento a los "mecanismos claros y transparentes para fomentar la participación social en la educación", se legitima la creciente tendencia del Estado a desentenderse de proveer servicios educativos gratuitos. La famosa participación social en la educación ha sido, tradicionalmente, el caballo de Troya para regularizar y formalizar el pago de cuotas escolares por parte de los padres de familia que, en muchas escuelas públicas, están muy lejos de ser voluntarias. La nueva legislación permite legalizar esta anormalidad, abriendo paso a su obligatoriedad.

Como dicen los abogados: a confesión de parte, relevo de pruebas. Según Miguel Székely Pardo, subsecretario de Educación Media Superior, con la reforma se busca que los padres de familia den un "apoyo mayor al que existe actualmente" en las escuelas, mediante cuotas o "canales por conducto de los cuales se puedan sufragar los costos" de la educación. En la conferencia titulada: Apoyo a la economía de familias de estudiantes de educación media superior, el funcionario dijo que la gratuidad "no implica que las familias dejen de destinarle recursos a la educación". Sin rechazar la responsabilidad estatal en la materia, advirtió que la Secretaría de Educación Pública buscará un mayor número de "canales" para que los padres puedan realizar aportaciones mediante cuotas que ayuden de forma creciente a solventar el costo de las escuelas.

El nuevo texto avalado por los diputados introduce a las escuelas privadas en el texto constitucional. Con ello se franquea el paso a una vieja aspiración panista: legitimar la entrega de recursos públicos de la educación a los centros escolares particulares.

La reforma reconoce derechos declarativos, pero no efectivos; fija obligaciones que no pueden cumplirse. Por ejemplo, establece un récord mundial de educación obligatoria: 15 años. Ningún país, por más desarrollado que sea, lo tiene. El promedio en el mundo es de 12 años. Pero lo que da con una mano, lo quita con la otra. La nueva norma reconoce que "el acceso a la educación media superior a todos los estudiantes en edad de cursarla se realizará de manera gradual y creciente". A pesar de que los tres años de educación prescolar son obligatorios, no se fijan fechas, plazos ni compromisos concretos para hacerlo realidad. Explícitamente se señala en el clausulado que durante "el primer año de prescolar la atención educativa crecerá de manera gradual y sistemática hasta lograr su universalización".

La reforma al artículo tercero constitucional obliga a un gran debate nacional que el Senado de la República debería promover. A no ser, claro, que se quiera hacer aún mayor el descrédito del Legislativo y el foso que lo separa de los ciudadanos de a pie.

domingo, 8 de marzo de 2009

sábado, 7 de marzo de 2009

¿Cómo se combate la inflación en México?

Del verbo subastar por el Fisgón

El verdadero origen del movimiento taliban y la destrucción de Afghanistan

Published on Thursday, February 19, 2009 by Foreign Policy In Focus
The US and Afghan Tragedy

by Khushal Arsala & Stephen Zunes

One of the first difficult foreign policy decisions of the Obama administration will be what the United States should do about Afghanistan. Escalating the war, as National Security Advisor Jim Jones has been encouraging, will likely make matters worse. At the same time, simply abandoning the country - as the United States did after the overthrow of Afghanistan's Communist government soon after the Soviet withdrawal 20 years ago - would lead to another set of serious problems.

In making what administration officials themselves have acknowledged will be profoundly difficult choices, it will be important to understand how Afghanistan - and, by extension, the United States - has found itself in this difficult situation of a weak and corrupt central government, a resurgent Taliban, and increasing violence and chaos in the countryside.

Many Americans are profoundly ignorant of history, even regarding distant countries where the United States finds itself at war. One need not know much about Afghanistan's rich and ancient history, however, to learn some important lessons regarding the tragic failures of U.S. policy toward that country during the past three decades.

The Soviet Union invaded in December 1979, after the Afghan people rose up against two successive communist regimes that seized power in violent coup d'états in 1978 and 1979. The devastating aerial bombing and counterinsurgency operations led to more than six million Afghans fleeing into exile, most of them settling into refugee camps in neighboring Pakistan. The United States, with the assistance of Pakistan's Islamist military dictatorship, found their allies in some of the more hard-line resistance movements, at the expense of some very rational enlightened Afghans from different fields and aspect of life.

The United States sent more than $8 billion to Pakistani military dictator Zia al-Huq, who dramatically increased the size of the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) to help support Afghan mujahedeen in their battle against the Soviets and their puppet government. Their goal, according to the late Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was "to radicalize the influence of religious factions within Afghanistan." The ISI helped channel this American money, and billions more from oil-rich American allies, from the Gulf region to extremists within the Afghan resistance movement.
Extremist Education

The Reagan administration sensed the most hard-line elements of the resistance were less likely to reach negotiated settlements, but the goal was to cripple the Soviet Union, not free the Afghan people. Recognizing the historically strong role of Islam in Afghan society, they tried to exploit it to advance U.S. policy goals. Religious studies along militaristic lines were given more importance than conventional education in the school system for Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The number of religious schools (madrassas) educating Afghans rose from 2,500 in 1980 at the start of Afghan resistance to over 39,000. The United States encouraged the Saudis to recruit Wahhabist ideologues to come join the resistance and teach in refugee institutes.

While willing to contribute billions to the war effort, the United States was far less generous in providing refugees with funding for education and other basic needs, which was essentially outsourced to the Saudis and the ISI. Outside of some Western non-governmental organizations like the International Rescue Committee, secular education was all but unavailable for the millions of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. None of these projects could match the impact the generous funding for religious education and scholarships to Islamic schools in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. As a result, the only education that became available was religious indoctrination, primarily of the hard-line Wahhabi tradition. The generous funding of religious institutions during wartime made it the main attraction of free education, clothing, and boarding for poor refugee children. Out of these madrassas came the talibs (students), who later became the Taliban.

This was no accident. It seemed that such policies were intentionally initiated that way to drag young Afghans towards extremism and war, and to be well prepared not only to fight a war of liberation, but to fight the foes and rivals of foreigners at the expense of Afghan destruction and blood. And the indoctrination and resulting radicalization of Afghan youth that later formed the core of the Taliban wasn't simply from outsourcing but was directly supported by the U.S. government as well, such as through textbooks issued by the U.S. Agency for International Development for refugee children between 1986 and 1992, which were designed to encourage such militancy.

Often mathematics and other basic subjects were sacrificed altogether in favor of full-time religious and indoctrination. Sardar Ghulam Nabi, an elementary school teacher in a Peshawar refugee camp, stated that he was discouraged by the school administration to teach Afghan history to Afghan refugee children, since most of the concentration and emphasis was placed on religious studies rather than other subjects.

This focus on a rigid religious indoctrination at the expense of other education is particularly ironic since, while the Afghans have tended to be devout and rather conservative Muslims, they hadn't previously been inclined to embrace the kind of fanatic Wahhabi-influenced fundamentalism that dominated Islamic studies in the camps.

It seemed during the Afghan wars that no one cared and valued Afghan lives. Afghans became the subject of struggle between different rival and competing ideologies. The foreign backers of Afghanistan didn't care about the impact and consequences of their policies for the future of Afghanistan. Milt Bearden, the former CIA station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan during the Afghan-Soviet war, commented [1] that "the United States was fighting the Soviets to the last Afghan." According to Sonali Kolhatkar, in her book Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence [2] (Seven Stories Press, 2006), some in the United States saw the Soviet invasion as a "gift." Zbigniew Brzezinski, former President Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor, even claimed that the United States helped provoke the Soviet invasion by arming the mujahideen beforehand, noting [3] how "we did not push the Russians to intervene but we knowingly increased the probability that they would." Once they did, he wrote to Carter, "We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War."

Professor Hassan Kakar, a renowned Afghan historian formerly of Kabul University now exiled in California after spending time in a Afghan prison during the communist era, notes in his book [4] how the competition between the Afghan left and right had been previously confined to a verbal debate, comparable to those taking place in intellectual and other politicized circles in other developing countries during the late Cold War period. With the invasion of Soviet troops and the U.S. backing of the mujahideen, however, it took the shape of direct armed conflict. The conflict evolved into open confrontation backed by the two Cold War rivals and other regional powers. Afghanistan was split and divided into different ideological groups, resulting in bloodshed, killing, destruction, suffering, and hatred among Afghans.

A whole generation of Afghan children grew up knowing nothing of life but bombings that destroyed their homes, killed their loved ones, and drove them to seek refuge over the borders. As a result, they became easy prey to those willing to raise them to hate and to fight. These children, caught in the midst of competing extremist ideologies from all sides, learned to kill each other and destroy their country for the interests of others.

Most Afghans with clear vision and strategic insight were deliberately marginalized by outside supporters of the Afghan radicalization process. Members of the Afghan intelligentsia who maintained their Afghan character in face of foreign ideologies and were therefore difficult to manipulate were threatened, eliminated, and in some cases forced into exile. One was Professor Sayed Bahauddin Majrooh, a renowned Afghan writer, poet, and visionary. Another was Aziz-ur-Rahman Ulfat, the author of Political Games, a book that criticized the politics of the U.S.-backed Afghan resistance movements based in Pakistan. Both were among the many who were assassinated as part of the effort silence voices of reason and logic.

The Hezb-e-Islami faction, a relatively small group among the resistance to the Soviets and their Afghan allies, received at least 80% of U.S. aid. According to Professor Barnett Rubin's testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, the militia - led by the notorious Gulbuddin Hekmatyar - conducted a "reign of terror against insufficiently Islamic intellectuals" in the refugee camps of Pakistan. Despite all this, Rubin further noted how "both the ISI and CIA considered him a useful tool for shaping the future of Central Asia."

Assassinations of Afghan intellectuals deprived Afghan refugees of enlightened visionaries who would have represented the balanced Afghan character of religious faith, cultural traditions, and modern education. What these early victims of extremist violence had in common was opposition to the radicalization and hijacking of the Afghan struggle for purposes other than Afghan self-determination. The Afghan resistance to the Soviets was a nationalist uprising that included intellectuals, students, farmers, bureaucrats, and shopkeepers as well as people from all the country's diverse ethnic groups. Their purpose was the liberation of their country, not the subjugation and radicalization of their society by bloodthirsty fanatics. Some Afghan field commanders with clear conscience and strategic insight also took a different approach than radical Afghan leaders supported by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia who - with U.S. acquiescence - sought to replace hard-line communist puppets with hard-line Islamist puppets.
Abdul Haq

Among these was the legendary Afghan resistance leader Abdul Haq (Full disclosure: Haq was the uncle of Khushal Arsala, one of this article's co-authors). He realized that the Afghans' legitimate struggle for their independence and self-determination was being intentionally dragged towards fanatical indoctrination for the interests of others. In a letter [5] to The New York Times he wrote:

We started our struggle with the full support and determination of our people and will continue regardless of the wishes or commands of others. We don't want to be an American or Soviet puppet...I would like you to be with us as a friend, not as somebody pulling the strings. The struggle of our nation is for the establishment of a system that assures human rights, social justice and peace. This system does not threaten any nation.

Haq openly criticized the United States and its allies' support for extremists among the resistance through the Pakistani government, warning U.S. officials of the dire consequences of such support for the radicalization of Afghan society through the support for extremists. In a 1994 interview [6] with the Times, he warned that terrorists from all over the world were finding shelter in his increasingly chaotic country and that Afghanistan "is turning into poison and not only for us but for all others in the world. Maybe one day the Americans will have to send hundreds of thousands of troops to deal with it." Noting that Afghanistan had been a graveyard for both the British and Russians, he expressed concerns that soon American soldiers could be flying home in body bags due to Washington's support for extremists during the Afghan-Soviet War during the 1980s and then abandoning the country following the Communist government's overthrow in 1992.
Preference for Extremists

In a 2006 interview [7] on the PBS documentary "The Return of the Taliban," U.S. Special Envoy to the Afghan Resistance Peter Tomsen observed how the leadership of the Pakistani army

wanted to favor Gulbuddin Hekmatyar with seventy percent of the American weapons coming into the country, but the ISI and army leadership's game plan was to put Hekmatyar top down in Kabul, even though he was viewed by the great majority of Afghans - it probably exceeded 90 percent - of being a Pakistani puppet, as unacceptable as the Soviet puppets that were sitting in Kabul during the communist period. However, that was what the [Pakistani] generals wanted to create: a strategic Islamic [ally] with a pro-Pakistani Afghan in charge in Kabul.

Hekmatyar was extremely useful to Pakistan not only because he was rabidly anticommunist, but also because - unlike most other mujahideen leaders less favored by Washington - he wasn't an Afghan nationalist, and was willing to support the agenda of hard-line Pakistani military and intelligence leaders. Pakistan's support for radical Muslim domination has been in part for keeping the long-running territorial dispute with Afghanistan over Pashtun areas suppressed. Islamist radicals like Hekmatyar, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and later the Taliban mullahs tended to de-emphasize state borders in favor of uniting with the Muslim Umma (community of believers) wherever it may be - in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir, the Middle East, or Central Asia.

Many State Department officials were wary of U.S. support for Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly was quoted as saying that Hekmatyar "is a person who has vehemently attacked the United States on a number of issues.... I think he is a person with whom we do not need to have or should not have much trust." However, even when the State Department - over CIA objections - succeeded in cutting back on U.S. support for Hezb-e-Islami, U.S. ally Saudi Arabia would then increase its aid and, with CIA assistance, recruited thousands of Arab volunteers to join the fight, including a young Saudi businessman named Osama bin Laden.

The renowned journalist Ahmed Rashid stated in his book the Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia [8] that

CIA chief William Casey committed CIA support to a long-standing ISI initiative to recruit radical Muslims from around the world to come to Pakistan and fight with the Afghan Mujahideen. The ISI had encouraged this since 1982 and by now all the other players had their reasons for supporting the idea. President Zia aimed to cement Islamic unity, turn Pakistan into the leader of the Muslim world and foster an Islamic opposition in Central Asia. Washington wanted to demonstrate that the entire Muslim world was fighting the Soviets Union alongside the Afghans and their American benefactors. And the Saudis saw an opportunity both to promote Wahabbism and get rid of its disgruntled radicals...which would eventually turn their hatred against the Soviets on their own regimes and the Americans.

After having their country largely destroyed and its social fabric torn apart as pawns in a Cold War rivalry, the Soviets were finally forced out in 1989 and the communist regime was overthrown two years later.

While Hizb-e-Islami and other U.S. and Pakistani-backed groups weren't truly representative of the Afghan people, they had become the best-armed as a result of their foreign support. Wanting power for themselves, they soon turned the capital city of Kabul into rubble as the remaining infrastructure surviving from the Soviet-Afghan war was destroyed by a senseless civil war.

Afghanistan became a failed state. In the three years following the fall of the Communist regime, at least 25,000 civilians were killed in Kabul by indiscriminate shelling by Hezb-e-Islami and other factions. There was no proper functioning government. Educational institutions, from elementary schools to university buildings, weren't spared in the violence. Most of the teachers and students again joined refugees in the neighboring countries. The chaos and suffering created conditions such that when the Pakistani-backed Taliban emerged promising stability and order, they were welcomed in many parts of the country.

Once in power, the Taliban - made up of students from the same refugee religious institutions promoted and encouraged by the United States and its allies - shrouded Afghan society in the darkness of totalitarianism and illiteracy. They didn't value modern scientific education. They barred girls from school. With the help of Arab recruits originally brought in with support of the United States to fight the Soviets, they destroyed Afghan cultural heritage and attempted to transform Afghanistan into a puritanical theocracy. Fanatics and criminals from all over the world found safe-haven in Afghanistan, thanks to the blunders made by U.S. policymakers who created, promoted, and encouraged fanaticism against the Soviet Union.

In October 2001, in an interview [9] with Newsweek, Abdul Haq said:

Why are the Arabs here? The U.S. brought the Arabs to Pakistan and Afghanistan [during the Soviet war]. Washington gave them money, gave them training, and created 10 or 15 different fighting groups. The U.S. and Pakistan worked together. The minute the pro-Communist regime collapsed, the Americans walked away and didn't even clean up their shit. They brought this problem to Afghanistan.

One week after this interview, Abdul Haq - an opponent of the 2001 U.S. intervention and one of the few Afghans capable of uniting his country under a nationalist banner - was captured by the Taliban and later executed. U.S. forces in the area ignored pleas for assistance to rescue him and his comrades while they were being pursued and in the period soon after their capture.

Afghans are still paying the price for the Taliban's continued destruction in Afghanistan from their bases in Pakistan. Taliban remnants are killing and threatening school staff members and burning down educational facilities. Their heinous crimes mean that the young minds needed to drag the country out from current miserable situation are being deprived of their desperately needed education. And, despite strong evidence of ongoing support for the Taliban by elements of the ISI and the Pakistani military, the Bush administration continued to send billions of dollars worth of arms and other support for the Musharraf dictatorship in Pakistan.
Implications for Today

The consequences of U.S. policy towards Afghanistan through the 1980s and 1990s played a major role in the Taliban's rise and al-Qaeda's subsequent sanctuary. The September 11 attacks brought the United States directly into battle in Afghanistan for the first time, and U.S. troops are to this day fighting the forces of former Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami allies.

The United States made many errors during the more than eight years of fighting, but one of most dangerous was repeating the tragic mistake of placing short-term alliances ahead of the Afghanistan's long-term stability. During the 1980s, the United States was so focused on defeating the Soviets and the Afghan communists that an alliance was made with Islamist extremists, who ended up contributing to the country's destruction. In this decade, the United States has been so focused on defeating the Taliban and al-Qaeda it's made alliances with an assortment of drug lords, opium magnates, militia leaders, and other violent and corrupting elements which have contributed to the country's devastation still further.

There's no easy answer to Afghanistan's ongoing tragic situation. Nor is the question of the most appropriate role the United States can now play after contributing so much to this tragedy.

What's important, however, is recognizing that Afghanistan's fate belongs to the people of Afghanistan. Indeed, any further efforts by the United States to play one faction off against the other for temporary political gain won't only add to that country's suffering but - as we became tragically aware on a September morning eight years ago - could some day bring the violence home to American shores.

martes, 3 de marzo de 2009

La Nicaragua de Daniel

Weekend Edition
February 27 - March 1, 2009
Et Tu, Daniel?

The Betrayal of the Sandinista Revolution


Upon his inauguration as Nicaraguan president in January 2007, Daniel Ortega asserted that his government would represent “the second stage of the Sandinista Revolution.” His election was full of symbolic resonance, coming after 16 years of electoral failures for Ortega and the party he led, the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN). The Sandinistas’ road to power was paved with a series of previously unthinkable pacts with the old somocista and Contra opposition. The FSLN’s pact making began in earnest in 2001, when, in the run-up to that year’s presidential election, Ortega forged an alliance with Arnoldo Alemán, an official during the Somoza regime who had been elected president in 1997.

But even with Alemán’s backing, Ortega was unable to win the presidency. So, before the 2006 election, he publicly reconciled with his old nemesis, Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, a potent symbol of the counterrevolutionary movement in the 1980s. Ortega and his longtime companion, Rosario Murillo, announced their conversion to Catholicism and were married by the cardinal. Just before his election Ortega supported a comprehensive ban on abortion, including in cases in which the mother’s life is endangered, a measure ratified by the legislature with the crucial votes of Sandinista deputies. To round out his pre-election wheeling and dealing, Ortega selected Jaime Morales, a former Contra leader, as his vice presidential candidate.

Even with these concessions to the right, Ortega won the presidency with just 37.9% of the votes. Once in power, he announced a series of policies and programs that seemed to hark back to the Sandinista years. Educational matriculation fees were abolished, an illiteracy program was launched with Cuban assistance, and an innovative Zero Hunger program established, financed from the public budget and Venezuelan aid, that distributed one cow, one pig, 10 hens, and a rooster, along with seeds, to 15,000 families during the first year. Internationally, Nicaragua joined the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), a trade and economic cooperation pact that includes Cuba, Bolivia, and Venezuela.

But the Ortega government’s clientelistic and sectarian nature soon became evident when Ortega, by presidential decree, established Councils of Citizen Power under the control of the Sandinista party to administer and distribute much of the social spending. Even more importantly, under the rubric of ALBA, Ortega signed an accord with Venezuela that provides an estimated $300 million to $500 million in funds personally administered by Ortega with no public accountability.

As Mónica Baltodano, the leader of Resacte, a dissident Sandinista organization, argued in a recent article, Ortega’s fiscal and economic policies are, in fact, continuous with those of the previous governments, despite his anti-imperialist rhetoric and denunciations of neoliberalism.1 The government has signed new accords with the International Monetary Fund that do not modify the neoliberal paradigm, while the salaries of government workers remain frozen and those of teachers and health workers are the lowest in Central America. According to the Central Bank of Nicaragua, the average salary has dropped the last two years, retrogressing to 2001 levels.2

Moreover, the government and the Sandinista party are harassing and repressing their opponents. During an interview in January, Baltodano told me the right to assembly has been systematically violated during the past year, as opposition demonstrations are put down with goon squads. “Ortega is establishing an authoritarian regime, sectarian, corrupt, and repressive, to maintain his grip on power, betraying the legacy of the Sandinista revolution,” she said.


The core of this legacy was the revolution’s commitment to popular democracy. Seizing power in 1979 from the dictator Anastasio Somoza, the Sandinista movement comprised Nicaragua’s urban masses, peasants, artisans, workers, Christian base communities, intellectuals, and the muchachos—the youth who spearheaded the armed uprisings. The revolution transformed social relations and values, holding up a new vision of society based on social and economic justice that included the poor and dispossessed. The revolution was muticlass, multiethnic, multidoctrinal, and politically pluralistic.

While socialism was part of the public discourse, it was never proclaimed to be an objective of the revolution. It was officially designated “a popular, democratic, and anti-imperialist revolution.” Radicalized social democrats, priests, and political independents as well as Marxists and Marxist-Leninists served as cabinet ministers of the Sandinista government. Images of Sandino, Marx, Christ, Lenin, Bolívar, and Carlos Fonseca, the martyred founder of the Sandinista movement, often hung side by side in the cities and towns of Nicaragua.

A central attribute of the revolution that has made its legacy so powerful is that it was a revolución compartida, a revolution shared with the rest of the world.3 As Nicaragua, a country with fewer than 3 million inhabitants, defied the wrath of the U.S. imperium, people from around the world rallied to the revolution’s support. In a manner reminiscent of the Spanish civil war half a century earlier, the Sandinista revolution came to be seen as a new political utopia, rupturing national frontiers. It marked a generation of activists around the globe who found in the revolution a reason to hope and believe.

With the deepening of the U.S.-backed counterrevolutionary war from military bases in Honduras, activists from the United States came to be the largest contingent to support the Sandinista revolution. An estimated 100,000 people from the United States visited Nicaragua in the 1980s, many as simple political tourists. Some came as part of delegations, but most of them arrived on their own. It was an experience totally different from that of Cuba, where the prohibition of U.S. travel to the island meant that only organized delegations arrived via Mexico or Canada with assigned accommodations and structured tours. But it was not just the travel arrangements that were different. Those going to Nicaragua found an “open door” society: They could talk with anyone, travel to the countryside, and stay where they pleased with no interference from the government.

The Sandinista revolution’s commitment to democracy led it down a new political path. This was not a revolutionary government conducted, in the classical sense, by a dictatorship of the proletariat. While the National Directorate of the FSLN oversaw the revolutionary process, it was not dictated by a single strongman but by nine people who reached consensus decisions with input from popular organizations. The Nicaraguan Revolution thus responded to internal and external challenges by deepening its democratic and participatory content, rather than by declaring a dictatorship.

In October 1983, when a U.S. assault appeared imminent in the aftermath of the invasion of Grenada, the National Directorate adopted the slogan “All Arms to the People” and distributed more than 200,000 weapons to the militias and popular organizations. I was there as U.S. aircraft flew over Managua, breaking the sound barrier, trying to “shock and awe” the populace. Bomb shelters and defensive trenches were hastily built as the country mobilized for war.

We may never know whether the threatened invasion was a ruse or if the popular mobilization forestalled a U.S. attack. But it did reaffirm the revolution’s commitment to democracy. In 1984, in the midst a deteriorating economy and the escalating Contra war, the country held an election in which seven candidates vied for the presidency. The election was monitored by “at least 460 accredited observers from 24 countries,” who unanimously described it as fair.4 A reported 83% of the electorate participated, and Ortega won with almost 67% of the votes.5 The election demonstrated that a revolutionary government can solidify its hold on power in the midst of conflict, not by adopting increasingly dictatorial powers but by building mass democratic support.

The adoption of a new constitution in 1986 marked yet another step forward in the democratic process. The constitution, which established separation of powers, directly incorporated human rights declarations, and abolished the death penalty, among other measures, was drafted by constituent assembly members elected in 1984 and submitted to the country for discussion.6 To facilitate these debates, 73 cabildos abiertos, or town meetings, were attended by an estimated 100,000 Nicaraguans around the country. At these meetings, about 2,500 Nicaraguans made suggestions for changes in the constitution.

But this bold Sandinista experiment in revolutionary democracy was not destined to persevere. As occurred in the Spanish civil war, the tide of history ran against the heroic people of Nicaragua, sapping their will in the late 1980s as the Contra war waged on and the economy unraveled. Often as I departed from the San Francisco airport on yet another flight to the Central American isthmus, I would look down on the Bay Area, with its population roughly the same size as Nicaragua’s and an economy many times larger, and wonder how the Sandinista revolution could possibly survive a war with the most powerful nation on earth.

Perhaps the die was cast in neighboring El Salvador with the failure of the guerrillas there to seize power as the United States mounted a counterinsurgency war. The inability to advance the revolution in Central America seemed to confirm Leon Trotsky’s belief that a revolution cannot survive and mature in just one nation—especially in small countries like Nicaragua with porous borders, which, unlike island Cuba, lend themselves to infiltration and repeated forays from well-provisioned military bases.

To end the debilitating war, the Sandinista leaders turned to peace negotiations. Placing their faith in democracy, they signed an accord that called for a ceasefire and elections to be held in February 1990, in which the Contras as well as the internal opposition would be allowed to participate. Once again the popular organizations mobilized for the campaign, and virtually all the polls indicated that Ortega would win a second term as president, defeating the Contra-backed candidate, Violeta Chamorro, whose campaign received generous funding from the United States.

Nicaraguans and much of the world were shocked when Chamorro defeated Ortega with 55% of the vote. Even people who were sympathetic to the Sandinistas voted for the opposition because they wanted the war to end, as the threat of more U.S.-backed violence remained looming. The day after the election, a woman vendor passed me by sobbing. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, “Daniel will no longer be my president.” After exchanging a few more words, I asked whom she had voted for. “Violeta,” she said, “because I want my son in the Sandinista army to come home alive.”


During the next 16 years, three Nicaraguan presidents backed by the United States implemented a series of neoliberal policies, gutting the social and economic policies of the Sandinista era and impoverishing the country. Ortega ran in every election, drifting increasingly to the right, while exerting an iron hand to stifle all challengers and dissenters in the Sandinista party. Surprisingly, Orlando Nuñez, with whom I wrote a book with on the revolution’s democratic thrust, remained loyal to Ortega while most of the middle-level cadre and the National Directorate abandoned the party.7 Many of these split off to form the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), the largest dissident Sandinista party, founded in 1995.

When I asked Nuñez about his stance, he argued that only the Sandinista party has a mass base. “Dissident Sandinistas and their organizations,” he said, “cannot recruit the poor, the peasants, the workers, nor mount a significant electoral challenge.” Nuñez, who works as an adviser on social affairs to the president’s office, went on to argue that Ortega allied with Alemán not out of political cynicism, but for the sake of building an anti-oligarchic front. According to this theory, Alemán and the somocistas represent an emergent capitalist class that took on the old oligarchy, which had dominated Nicaraguan politics and the economy since the 19th century.8 A major thrust of Ortega’s rhetoric is bent on attacking the oligarchy, which is clustered in the opposition Conservative Party.

But it is also true that some of the most famous Sandinistas, many of whom are in the dissident camp today—like Ernesto Cardenal, Gioconda Belli, Carlos Fernando Chamorro, and others—are descendents of oligarchic families. Accordingly, Ortega and Murillo have accused them of being in league with conservatives in an effort to reimpose the old order on Nicaragua. While the dissident Sandinistas have yet to mount a significant electoral challenge, the Ortega administration has nonetheless gone after them with a particular vehemence. Case in point: Chamorro, the onetime director of the Sandinista party newspaper, Barricada. In June 2007, Chamorro aired an investigative report on Esta Semana, the popular news show he hosts. According to the report, which included tape-recorded conversations, FSLN functionaries tried to extort $4 million from Armel González, a partner in a tourist development project called Arenas Bay, in exchange for a swift end to the project’s legal woes, which included challenges from campesino cooperatives over land disputes.

The government’s response to the bad publicity was swift and ruthless. While the district attorney buried the case, González was charged and convicted of slander. National Assembly deputy Alejandro Bolaños, who backed the denunciation, was arbitrarily removed from his legislative seat. And Chamorro was denounced in the Sandinista-controlled media as a “delinquent,” a “narco-trafficker,” and a “robber of peasant lands.”

The harassment of Chamorro and other government critics continued during the run-up to Nicaragua’s November 2008 municipal elections, which were widely viewed as a referendum on the Ortega administration. The Ministry of Government launched a probe into NGOs operating in the country, accusing the Center for Communications Research (Cinco), which is headed by Chamorro, of “diverting and laundering money” through its agreement with the Autonomous Women’s Movement (MAM), which opposes the Ortega-endorsed law banning abortion. This agreement, financed by eight European governments and administered by Oxfam, aims to promote “the full citizenship of women.” First lady Murillo called it “Satan’s fund” and “the money of evil.”

Cinco’s board of directors were interrogated, and a prosecutor accompanied by the police raided the Cinco offices with a search warrant. Warned in advance of the visit, some 200 people gathered in the building in solidarity, refusing the police entry. Then as night fell, the police established a cordon around the building and, in the early morning, police broke down the door. After kicking out the protesters, the police stayed in the office for 15 hours, with supporters and onlookers gathered outside, shutting down traffic for blocks around. The police rummaged through offices, carting off files and computers. Since then, no formal charges have been filed, but Chamorro remains under official investigation.

Along with MAM, the broader women’s movement in Nicaragua, which firmly opposes the Ortega government, was among the first to experience its repressive blows. In 2007 the government opened a case against nine women leaders, accusing them of conspiring “to cover up the crime of rape in the case of a 9-year-old rape victim known as ‘Rosita,’ who obtained an abortion in Nicaragua in 2003.”9 In August, Ortega was unable to attend the inauguration of Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo because of protests by the country’s feminist organizations; from then on, women’s mobilizations have occurred in other countries Ortega has visited, including Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Peru.10

Charges were levied against other former Sandinistas who dared to speak out against the Ortega government, including 84-year-old Catholic priest Ernesto Cardenal, the renowned poet who once served as minister of culture. In August, after Cardenal criticized Ortega at Lugo’s inauguration, a judge revived an old, previously dismissed case involving a German citizen who sued Cardenal in 2005 for insulting him.11

In addition to harassing critics, the Ortega government also displayed its penchant for electoral fraud during the run-up to the November municipal balloting. Protests erupted in June, after the Ortega-stacked Supreme Electoral Council disqualified the MRS and the Conservative Party from participation. Dora Maria Tellez, a leader of the renovation movement, began a public hunger strike that led to daily demonstrations of support, often shutting down traffic in downtown Managua.

Meanwhile, bands of young Sandinista-linked thugs, claiming to be the “owners of the streets,” attacked demonstrators while the police stood idly by. Then, to prevent more demonstrations, Ortega supporters set up plantones, permanent occupation posts at the rotundas on the main thoroughfare running through Managua. Those who camped out there were known as rezadores, or people praying to God that Ortega be protected and his opponents punished.

Besides the FSLN, two major political parties remained on the ballot, the Liberal Constitutionalist Party and the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance. While independent surveys indicated that the opposition candidates would win the majority of the seats, the Supreme Electoral Council, which had prohibited international observers, ruled that the Sandinista candidates won control of 105 municipalities, the Liberal Constitutionalist Party won 37, and the Alliance won the remaining six. An independent Nicaraguan group, Ethics and Transparency, organized tens of thousands of observers but was denied accreditation, forcing them to observe the election from outside polling stations. But the group estimates that irregularities took place at a third of the polling places. Their complaints were echoed by Nicaraguan Catholic bishops, including Managua’s archbishop, who said, “People feel defrauded.”12

After the election, militant demonstrations erupted in Nicaragua’s two largest cities, Managua and León, and were quickly put down with violence. The European Economic Community and the U.S. government suspended funding for Nicaragua over the fraudulent elections. On January 14, before the election results were even officially published by the electoral council, Ortega swore in the new mayors at Managua’s Plaza de la Revolución. He declared: “This is the time to strengthen our institutions,” later adding, “We cannot go back to the road of war, to confrontation, to violence.” Along with the regular police, Ortega stood flanked by camisas rosadas, or redshirts, members of his personal security force. A huge banner hung over the plaza depicting Ortega with an up-stretched arm and the slogan, “To Be With the People Is to Be With God.”

“This despotic regime is bent on destroying all that is left of the Sandinista revolution’s democratic legacy,” Chamorro told me in January. “Standing in the way of a new dictatorship,” he continued, “are civil society organizations, the independent media, trade unions, opposition political parties, women’s organizations, civic leaders and others—many of whom can trace their roots back to the resistance against Somoza.”

As the Nobel-winning novelist José Saramago put it: “Once more a revolution has been betrayed from within.” Nicaragua’s revolution has indeed been betrayed, perhaps not as dramatically as Trotsky depicted Stalin’s desecration of what was best in the Bolshevik revolution. But Ortega’s betrayal is a fundamental political tragedy for everyone around the world who came to believe in a popular, participatory democracy in Nicaragua.

Roger Burbach directs the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA), based in Berkeley, California ( He was a “fellow traveler” during the Sandinista revolutionary years, collaborating with the FSLN Directorate of International Relations in analyzing U.S. political and military strategies.


1. Mónica Baltodano, “El ‘nuevo sandinismo’ es de la izquierda? Democracia pactada en Nicaragua,” Le Monde diplomatique, Southern Cone edition (December 2008): 16–17.

2. Ibid.

3. The concept of revolución compartida is developed in Sergio Ramírez, Adios muchachos: una memoría de la revolución sandinista (Mexico City: Aguilar, 1999).

4. Rosa Marina Zelaya, “International Election Observers: Nicaragua Under a Microscope,” Envío 103 (February 1990),

5. BBC, “1984: Sandinistas Claim Election Victory,” available at

6. Harry E. Vanden and Gary Prevost, Democracy and Socialism in Sandinista Nicaragua (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1996), 84–85.

7. Roger Burbach and Orlando Nuñez, Fire in the Americas, Forging a Revolutionary Agenda (Verso, 1987).

8. Nuñez develops this argument in his book La Oligarquia en Nicaragua (Managua: Talleres de Grafitex, 2006). See also Nuñez, “La Agonía política de la oligarquia,” El 19 no. 14, November 27–December 3, 2008, available at

9. Human Rights Watch, “Nicaragua: Protect Rights Advocates from Harassment and Intimidation,” October 28, 2008, available at

10. Baltodano, “El ‘nuevo sandinismo’ es de la izquierda?”

11. CBC News, “Latin American Artists Protest Persecution of Nicaraguan Poet,” September 6, 2008, available at

12. “How to Steal an Election,” The Economist, November 13, 2008.

*This article appears in the NACLA Report on the Americas, “Revolutionary Legacies in the 21st Century,” March/April, 2009. See the full Report for additional articles on Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia and Haiti.