Carta de Assata Shakur

La designación de una luchadora Negra por la libertad, Assata Shakur, como la “terrorista mas buscada” por el estado colonialista de Estados Unidos, es un ataque no solo a la historia y sentido del Movimiento de Liberación Negra en los Estados Unidos sino además, por extensión, un ataque al movimiento transnacional a través de las “Américas”. Para los protectores de la hegemonía  capitalista y la supremacía Blanca cualquier movimiento de Resistencia por la liberación y auto determinación por parte de los Africanos es visto como una amenaza y en el caso de Assata Shakur, un crimen que debe ser castigado con la muerte. Pero con este ataque contra Assata, la opresión tiene una piedra en el zapato cuando ellos deciden perseguir a nuestras líderes Negras. Por favor distribuya y comparta esta carta con otros ampliamente. (Ajamu Baraka) Continue reading

President Hugo Chavez and race: The shift from avoidance to inclusion

By Janvieve Williams Comrie, for Al Jazeera.com
In the wake of the death of the President of Venezuela, an Afro-descendant view on the meaning of Hugo Chavez.

“Racism is very characteristic of imperialism and capitalism. Hate against me has a lot to do with racism. Because of my big mouth and curly hair. And I’m so proud to have this mouth and this hair, because it is African.” – Hugo Chavez, September 21, 2005

The death of democratically elected President Hugo Chavez Frias (1954-2013) has evoked serious thoughts and reflections on the meaning of his life and the process he led from peoples and communities throughout the Americas and the world. Despite much criticism by many right wing governments and people in the West, Hugo Chavez led a process in Venezuela that symbolised the new assertiveness and self-consciousness of nations in Latin America that saw a future for themselves, liberated from the heavy-handed, oppressive and economically draining policies of their powerful neighbour from the North.

But along with the symbolism connected to the new politics of authentic decolonisation that many of the centre-left states embraced, Chavez was committed to a process of providing real, substantive support to states in the region who were willing to pursue a course that could result in a real shift in power in the region. What that signified for many of us in the Afro-descendant communities in the Americas, was that the rise of Chavez and the Bolivarian process that the people of Venezuela had embarked on would raise the spectrums of a new kind of politic in the region. We hoped that with the new commitment to social inclusion and the ending of all forms of oppression that the issue of race and racial discrimination would become an acceptable and indeed an essential element of the transformation process in the Americas. Continue reading

Striking Coal Miners in Colombia and the Vulnerabilities of a Rentier Based Economy, by Nazih Richani

1544The extractive model—or the “motor of development” as the dominant elite and the technocrats call their preferred economic model—is exhibiting its limitations as it confronts a deepening crisis. More than 5,000 workers at the multinational corporation Drummond went into a general strike protesting low wages and dismal working conditions at one of the largest open-sky coal extracting mines in the world. This strike came at an inopportune moment for Drummond. First, this is occurring against a backdrop of a sharp decline in coal prices—from $120 per ton to an average price of $96—between 2011 and 2012.  This forced the company to postpone and scrap some of its expanding projects. Second, Drummond, like most multinational corporations, is lacking good governance and exhibits an almost total disregard to the environment, especially when states’ environmental protection policy and oversight are limited, as in Colombia. But on this occasion the violation was exposed when a journalist caught Drummond red-handed contaminating seawater by dumping 500 tons of coal from a sinking boat in the port of Santa Marta. Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, suspended Drummond operations until a “satisfactory” review of its environment protocol is performed. The suspension of Drummond, the second largest coal company operating in Colombia, reveals a much larger problem: the vulnerability of an economy that during the last decade has increasingly become dependent on mining and oil.

 

Coal has become the second most important of Colombia’s exports after oil and accounts for more than three times what the country has earned from its traditional coffee export. Revenues from coal exports reached $8 billion in 2012, a crucial income for a country in war, spending almost 6.5% of GDP on its military. This sector has also attracted about $2.5 billion of foreign direct investment, and Drummond alone has 5,657 workers, 700 of whom are suffering from diseases caused by fumes and coal dust. The strikers are demanding a 7% increase in their wages, better health conditions, and other social services in addition to safeguarding the environment. All of which will affect Drummond’s rates of profits and may also affect other multinational corporations operating in the country such as Pacific Rubiales, Occidental Oil, and AngloGold Ashanti, among many others. Colombia has become a lucrative market due to many factors, chiefly among them that the state has provided these companies favorable contracts, low taxes—among the world’s lowest rates—and a very lax environmental policy. In other words, Colombia has become a haven for capitalist looting.

For an update see http://www.eltiempo.com/justicia/drummond-pide-reducir-su-planta-laboral…

A Small Step Toward Ending Duvalier’s Impunity in Haiti, by Kevin Edmonds

1560In January 2012, Judge Carves Jean triggered a wave of shock and disappointment throughout Haiti and much of the world by ruling that the former dictator of Haiti, Jean Claude Duvalier, would stand trial for the embezzlement of public funds, but not for the much greater charge of committing crimes against humanity. While it is widely acknowledged that Duvalier looted the Haitian treasury to the tune of $800 million, he has also been implicated in carrying out systemic human rights abuses, consisting of the murder, torture, disappearance, and imprisonment of tens of thousands during his rule from 1971 to 1986. Judge Jean’s decision to drop the most serious charges against Duvalier was based upon his reading of the Haitian constitution, which cited that the abuses fell outside of the 10 year period outlined in the statute of limitations. Continue reading