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Archive for September 10th, 2012

 

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) have chosen Ricardo Palmera as one of their negotiators for Colombian peace talks. Professor Palmer is a political prisoner held in solitary confinement by the U.S. government in the Florence, Colorado Supermax prison. Palmera’s supporters in Colombia and around the world are demanding that Palmera be set free and that the U.S. government stop interfering in Colombia’s internal affairs. The FARC put Palmera’s name forward as one of the three main negotiators after peace negotiations were announced last week.

Over the past six months the revolutionaries of FARC have held exploratory talks with Colombian government representatives of President Santos. Negotiations will take place in October in Oslo, Norway, to be followed by more negotiations in Havana, Cuba, with Venezuela and Chile acting as observers. The FARC is advancing a people’s agenda that includes land reform for family farms, good jobs, healthcare, education, housing and the eradication of poverty. There is a great need for guarantees concerning the assassination and murder of trade unionists, community organizers and political candidates.

Tom Burke of the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera said, “The U.S. government has no right to put Colombian revolutionaries on trial or in prison. The U.S. should pursue the crimes against and murders of union workers, poor peasants and indigenous people by Chiquita, Coca-Cola, Drummond Coal and big U.S. oil companies. The U.S. government ignores those crimes while militarily fighting the FARC and wrongfully punishing revolutionary leaders like Professor Palmera. The U.S. government should set Ricardo Palmera free immediately so he can plan a role in negotiations.”

The current FARC/Colombian government agreement advocates “Bilateral and definitive cease of fire and hostilities,” so the FARC proposed a bi-lateral cease-fire this week. President Santos immediately rejected it and demanded a one-sided cease-fire by FARC. President Santos’ negative response makes it likely these negotiations will be a contentious process.

The last time peace negotiations took place in 1998-2002, the FARC continued to wage war against the Colombian military. A decade before that, the FARC called a ceasefire in the mid-1980s while negotiating. This ceasefire led to the formation of Colombia’s most successful left political party, the Patriotic Union. However the Patriotic Union suffered close to 5000 assassinations and murders at the hands of the Colombian military and government death squads over the next few years. It was at this time that Ricardo Palmera left the Patriotic Union and joined the FARC in fighting the corrupt Colombian government. The U.S. government continues to spend nearly $1 billion per year funding, arming, training and directing the Colombian military.

 

source:  FRSO

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In the middle of the surrounding building complex, new police recruits are playing basketball on the right hand side of a large courtyard. To their left, there is a group of children playing amongst themselves with a football. Just above them, approximately 20 teenagers are walking along the balcony of one of the two-story buildings, about to enter a classroom to receive socio-political training and the chance to take part in a scheme that will provide them with a full-time job.

It is hard to tell that this vibrant place was once a former prison, yet it is perhaps even more surprising to discover that this complex, where members of the community walk around freely and take part in the various workshops, is actually the headquarters of the government’s new National Experimental Security University (UNES); the training ground for the country’s new police recruits.

Founded in 2009, the UNES was conceived of as a totally new way of training police officers and reforming policing methods. The proposal of the UNES in itself is incredible, but also somewhat daunting. The principal ideas behind the university are to recreate the police officer’s role from a community perspective and to transform policing methods so that officers work directly with organized communities. In short, to fundamentally transform the power relationship between the police and society.

The university also focuses very strongly on the issue of crime prevention, financing investigations on issues related to delinquency, as well as on expanding police officers’ role in addressing the social causes of crime. Perhaps one of the most striking things about the university is just how many of the staff have backgrounds in leftist political organization, popular education or liberation theology as opposed to in policing or security.

It is not so surprising then that this week the UNES was the location for an event which would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago; an international conference entitled, “The Left and Public Security Policy”. The conference was organized by the UNES as an opportunity for the international left to discuss policy relating to citizen security in the current historical conjuncture, at a time when progressive governments are in power throughout the Latin American region.

The theme of the conference was how the Latin American left should approach the topic of crime and policing in a post neo-liberal era, after an increase in violence over the past 30 years has given way to hard right rhetoric when discussing the issue of delinquency; which has traditionally been dealt with through “la mano dura” or strict measures in Latin America. The conference was also an exploration of what possible policing policies could be implemented by leftist governments and an attempt to contribute to the debate on how to create “counter-hegemonic” security initiatives.

“The fundamental objective is to debate what the meaning of a leftist policy in the field of citizen security actually is and how we can do that in practical terms”, said Antonio Gonzales Plessman, Vice-Dean of the university.

The three day conference began on Monday and was attended by activists and academics from Brazil, Argentina, Honduras, Ecuador and Spain and was opened by Venezuelan Minister of Interior and Justice, Tareck El Aissami. Making reference to one of the government’s latest security missions, “Venezuela full of life”, an integrated project aimed at solving the issue of crime through expanding the country’s new National Bolivarian Police force into 7 states and increasing crime prevention measures in conjunction with communities; El Aissami explained that the government had made the overhaul of the country’s policing system a priority in recent years.

“It has been the unshakeable will of President Hugo Chavez, and his government, to radically transform the country’s police bodies as a first step in the search for a complete security policy which is able to guarantee peace for the country and the lives of our population, but without violating human rights”, he said.

On the second day of presentations, Vice-Dean Plessman commented that for him, the most interesting issues to have emerged from the conference were; the reduction of prison sentences in favor of rehabilitative programs or community service, the possibility of offering conflict-resolution alternatives to grassroots groups and organized communities, police reform and the legalization of drugs.

“The war against drugs is an imperialist strategy which many of our governments repeat uncritically. Governments which have an anti-imperialist discourse and then end up repeating the same imperialist strategy. This is something we need to debate”, he said.

One of the presentations by Argentinian politics academic, Marcelo Sain, stated that reforming policing methods should be central to any progressive political project, yet so far Venezuela was the only Latin American country to have taken on this monumental task in an institutionalized way. Other speakers included the Spanish academic, Amadeu Recasense, on leftist security policy, and Ecuadorean investigator, Fernando Carrion, on the political nature of policing.

Speaking to Paulina Villasmil, an activist with a background in liberation theology who is currently working for UNES in Zulia, she discussed the strange convergence of leftist policy and activism, community organization and policing currently being constructed in Venezuela.

“I was speaking to one of my old friends on the Spanish left the other day and when I said that I was working with the police she cried, ‘oh, but what are you doing? The police are bad!’… Maybe I’m still in the honeymoon period, but I don’t think this is a façade. I see a genuine attempt to transform the state in conjunction with community participation”, she said.

This conference is surely not the first to have taken place on security from a leftist perspective, but Villasmil sums up why it is different; because it shows how organized communities and leftist ideas and praxis are slowly transforming the state in Venezuela.

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Never Forget 9-11-73

The day the United States inflicted capitalist oppression on Chile.

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Kathmandu, Nepal:  Supporters of the Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist march to to Singhadurbar to hand 70-point demand letter to Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, September 10, 2012.

CPN-M was constituted following a break-away with the UCPN-M, of which Dr Bhattarai is the vice-chairman.

Before submitting 70-point charter of demands to PM in Singh Durbar after 1pm, CPN-M organised a street rally from Shantibatika in Ratnapark at 11 am.

A squad led by C P Gajurel handed over the 70-point demands to PM Bhattarai as per the decision taken by the central committee of the party.

Some of the demands forwarded by CPN-M include:

a. To make an alliance with pro-republicans, pro federalists, leftists and nationalist forces.

b. scrapping of BIPPA(Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement) between India and Nepal

c. ending corruption in all sectors of society

d. ban on Indian number plate vehicles in Nepal, among others.

For CPN-M, the leaders of the three major political parties are responsible for the present political chaos and legal hurdles in the wake of the demise of the Constituent Assembly (CA).

CPN-M leaders said they would take to the street with the same 70-point demands.

CPN-M has said that it will organize protest programmes in Butwal on Spetember 26, in Janakpur on September 30, in Pokhara on October 1, in Kathmandu on October 20, in Kanchanpur on October 16, in Surkhet on October 18.

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