Posts Tagged ‘Venezuela’

Österreich: Let’s ban the bombs!

Donnerstag, Dezember 11th, 2014

“Austria pledges to work for a ban on nuclear weapons

Austria pledges to work for a ban on nuclear weapons
Humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons must initiate treaty process in 2015

December 9, 2014

After 44 states called for a prohibition on nuclear weapons at a conference in Vienna on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, Austria delivered the “Austrian pledge” in which it committed to work to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and pledged “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal”.

“All states committed to nuclear disarmament must join the Austrian pledge to work towards a treaty to ban nuclear weapons”, said Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

“Next year is the 70 year anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and that will be a fitting time for negotiations to start on a treaty banning nuclear weapons”, Fihn added.

States that expressed support for a ban treaty at the Vienna Conference include: Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, Holy See, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

These announcements were given at a two-day international conference convened in Vienna to examine the consequences of nuclear weapon use, whether intentional or accidental.

Survivors of the nuclear bombings in Japan and of nuclear testing in Australia, Kazakhstan, the Marshall Islands, and the United States, gave powerful testimonies of the horrific effects of nuclear weapons. Their evidence complemented other presentations presenting data and research.

“The consequences of any nuclear weapon use would be devastating, long-lasting, and unacceptable. Governments simply cannot listen to this evidence and hear these human stories without acting”, said Akira Kawasaki, from Japanese NGO Peaceboat. “The only solution is to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons and we need to start now,” Kawasaki added.

For decades, discussions on nuclear weapons have been dominated by the few nuclear-armed states – states that continue to stockpile and maintain over 16,000 warheads. The humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons has prompted a fundamental change in this conversation, with non-nuclear armed states leading the way in a discussion on the actual effects of the weapons.

Unlike the other weapons of mass destruction – chemical and biological – nuclear weapons are not yet prohibited by an international legal treaty. Discussions in Vienna illustrated that the international community is determined to address this. In a statement to the conference, Pope Francis called for nuclear weapons to be “banned once and for all”.

The host of the previous conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, Mexico, called for the commencement of a diplomatic process, and South Africa said it was considering its role in future meetings.

“Anyone in Vienna can tell that something new is happening on nuclear weapons. We have had three conferences examining their humanitarian impact, and now with the Austrian pledge we have everything we need for a diplomatic process to start”, said Thomas Nash of UK NGO Article 36.”


(Quelle: ICAN.)

Global: Die wunderbare Welt des CO2 (Teil 2)

Dienstag, Dezember 4th, 2012

Share of global emissions (% world total 2010)



(Tabelle aus: United Nations Environment Programme: The Emissions Gap Report 2012, S. 17, 18
Download des o. g. Reports hier.)


(Quelle: United Nations Environment Programme: The Emissions Gap Report 2012)

Republik Südafrika: Anmerkungen zur “Occupy …”-Bewegung

Freitag, Oktober 14th, 2011

“On the Wall Street Occupation

By Richard Pithouse

In The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck’s novel about the Great Depression, Tom Joad, the novel’s central character, a man who has been made poor and who is on the run from the law, tells his mother in the climactic scene that: “I been thinking about us, too, about our people living like pigs and good rich land layin’ fallow. Or maybe one guy with a million acres and a hundred thousand farmers starvin’. And I been wonderin’ if all our folks got together….”

That wondering is a red thread woven through American history with the promise of a way out of what Martin Luther King called “life as a long and desolate corridor with no exit sign”. In recent years a lot of Americans who have not been born to life in that desolate corridor have been forced in to it. The time when each generation could expect to live better than their parents has passed. Poverty is rushing into the suburbs. Young people live with their parents into their thirties. Most can not afford university. Most of the rest leave it with an intolerable debt burden. It’s the same in Spain, Greece and Ireland. England is looking pretty grim too. The borders that surround the enclaves of global privilege are shrinking in from the nation state to surround private wealth.

If the problem was that there just wasn’t enough money to go around, people would have to accept the situation. But when there is plenty of money, when there is, in fact, an incredible abundance of money but its being held by a tiny minority, its perfectly logical to start wondering along Tom Joad’s lines. 

The financial elite who had, for so long, successfully presented themselves as the high priests of the arcane arts of economic divination on whom our collective well being was dependent caused the financial crisis of 2008. The problem was not a miscalculation in some algorithm. It was the greed of a caste that had been allowed to set itself up above everyone else. As a character in a Bruce Springsteen song about the deindustrialisation of America observes “Them big boys did what Hitler couldn’t do”. This caste has developed so much power over the media and politicians that it has been allowed to dictate the resolution of the crisis. Their plan, of course, comes down to the proposal that they should continue to profit while the shortfall is recovered from society. That means more people losing their homes, no longer able to afford health care or child care, dropping out of university, sliding deeper into debt and working two or three crappy jobs just to keep going.

There was resistance from the start. But for a long time it looked like right wing populism would be the dominant popular response in America. But with the occupation of Wall Street inciting occupations and planned occupations in cities throughout the United States, and as far away as Hong Kong and South Africa, it seems that a response that targets the real source of the problem is gaining more traction. 

The choice of Wall Street as the target for the occupation is, in itself, a perfectly eloquent statement. And slogans like “We’re young; we’re poor; we’re not going to take it any more” are incisive enough. But if the occupation of sites of symbolic power in cities across North America is to win concrete rather than moral victories, and to make a decisive intervention against the hold that finance capital has taken over so much of political and social life, it will have to do two things. It will need, without giving up its autonomy, to build links with organisations, like churches, trade unions and students groups, that are rooted in everyday life and can support this struggle over the long haul. It will also need to find ways to build its own power and to exercise it with sufficient impact to force real change. 

Wall Street is usually a world away from Main Street and bringing it under control is no easy task. But its encouraging that what links Tahrir Square to Liberty Plaza, the protests in Athens and Madrid and the movements that have emerged in the shack settlements of Port-au-Prince, La Plaz, Caracas and Durban, is a concern with democracy. In Tahrir Square the primary point was to unseat a dictatorship but elsewhere there is a global sense that the standard model of parliamentary democracy is just not democratic enough. This is a crucial realisation because, in many countries, America being one of them, you just can’t vote for an alternative to the subordination of society to capital. But a serious commitment to dispersing power by sustained organising from below can shift power relations. It is the only realistic route to achieving any sort of meaningful subordination of capital to society.

The idea of an occupation as a way to force an exit from the long and desolate corridor to which more and more Americans are being condemned is not new. Martin Luther King dedicated the last years of his life to the Poor People’s Campaign. In 1968 he travelled the country aiming to assemble “a multiracial army of the poor”, “a new and unsettling force” that would occupy Washington until Congress enacted a poor people’s bill of rights providing decent housing and work or a guaranteed income for all. Reader’s Digest warned of an "insurrection". King was assassinated on the 4th of April 1968 but the march went ahead on the 12th of May 1968. Up to 50 000 people marched on Washington and occupied Capitol Hill. Thousands built a shanty town known as Resurrection City and held it for six weeks, in which it seemed to rain incessantly, before it was bulldozed. 

In that same year there was mass protest, sometimes verging on insurrection, from Prague to Berlin, Paris and Mexico City. Much of it was inspired by the war in Vietnam and much of it took the form, against both the state and the authoritarian left, of direct democracy and collective self-organisation. In 1968 armed third world peasants became the most compelling image of a revolt that, while not global, was certainly international. With the defeat of these struggles the human rights industry was able to recast the third world poor as passive victims requiring charity and guidance from the North. 

Debt, often mediated through dictatorship, became a key instrument through which the domination of the North was reasserted over the South. Debtors don’t just have to wring every cent that they can from life. They are also without autonomy. But the servitude of the debtor is increasingly also the condition of home-owners, students and others in the North who are paying for much of the financial crisis.

When some people are living like pigs and others have land lying fallow its easy enough to see what must be done. But when some people are stuck in a desolate corridor with no exit signs and others have billions in hedge funds, derivatives and all the rest it can seem a lot more complicated. And of course it is more complicated in the sense that you can’t occupy a hedge fund in the same way that you can occupy the fallow land of a billionaire. 

But the point about finance capital is that it is the collective wealth of humanity. The money controlled by Wall Street was not generated by the unique brilliance, commitment to labour and willingness to assume risk on the part of the financial elite. It was generated by the wars in the Congo and Iraq. It comes from the mines in Johannesburg, the long labour of the men who worked those mines and the equally long labour of the women that kept the homes of the miners in the villages of the Eastern Cape. It comes from the dispossession, exploitation, work and creativity of people around the world. That wealth, which has been captured and made private, needs to be made public. Appropriated or properly taxed under democratic authority it could fund things like housing, health care, education, a guaranteed income and productive investment.

When a new politics, a new willingness to resist, emerges from the chrysalis of obedience, it will, blinking in the sun, confront the world with no guarantees. But we need to get together and commit what we can to try and ensure that 2011 turns out differently to 1968 or, for that matter, 1989. Here in South Africa the immediate task for the young people inspired by the occupations that have spread from Cairo to New York via Madrid and Athens is to make common cause with the rebellion of the poor.

Pithouse teaches politics at Rhodes University.

Read more articles by Richard Pithouse.

Creative Commons License Please attribute The South African Civil Society Information Service ( as the source of this article. For more information, please see our Copyright Policy.”


(Quelle: The South African Civil Society Information Service.)

Haiti: Weiter wie gehabt

Freitag, Mai 20th, 2011

“Haiti: Reparations and reconstruction

By Horace Campbell

The process that brought Michel ‘Sweet Micky’ Martelly to Haiti’s ‘presidency was a farce that will 'force popular forces to distinguish between processes of democratisation and pseudo-elections without democratic participation’, writes Horace Campell, in an article on the people of Haiti’s two-hundred year struggle to reconstruct their society.

For two hundred years the peoples of Haiti have been struggling to reconstruct their society. Before the Haitian revolution of 1791-1804 could be consolidated, the French and other imperial powers worked to isolate the revolution for fear that the ideas of freedom would be contagious and spread. But they could not turn the tide of freedom. Failing to stem the idea that the African enslaved wanted freedom, the government and political leaders of France demanded reparations from Haiti, thus distorting the essence and meaning of reparative justice for 100 years. Despite this, the fears of the imperial west that the Haitian Revolution would inspire other slaves in Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States came to fruition. Haiti played its role of supporting freedom and independence throughout the region. Simon Bolivar and other revolutionaries from Latin America flocked to seek assistance from Haiti. Every act of freedom by Haiti scared the imperial powers; these powers slowly consolidated the ideas of capitalist exploitation and white supremacy so that these racist ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries began to take root in Europe and North America.

United States revolutionaries, such as Thomas Jefferson, who internalised chauvinistic ideas about European and male superiority opposed the reconstruction of Haiti and refused to recognise the independence of Haiti. It was only after the bloody US Civil War (1861-1865), when the enslaved in the United States won their freedom that the US government recognised Haiti. This diplomatic recognition was followed by the destruction of the capacity for the Haitians to reconstruct their society. Western bankers, financiers and merchants and Jim Crow architects worked with a small clique inside of Haiti to frustrate efforts for reconstruction. To guarantee that reconstruction did not take place the bankers, financiers and the militarists organised a military occupation of Haiti (1915-1934). This occupation by the US, supported by France and Canada, laid the foundations for brutal militarism to contain the spirit of the people of Haiti. In the book, ‘Haiti: The Breached Citadel’, author Patrick Bellgrade Smith brings to life the epic struggles of the Haitians to be independent and how the forms of peasant agriculture gave them social solidarity outside of the urban centres where the évolué aped France.

Genocide and genocidal violence from the government of the Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo, sent a message to Haitians that their lives were meaningless and that the place of Haitians in the Americas was to provide cheap labour for others. Yet, the Haitians struggled for dignity. It is the novelist Edwidge Danticat who has brought us this history in her book, ‘The Farming the Bones’, which is set in the Dominican Republic of the 1930s.

Militarism and genocidal violence was then reinforced by a crude form of chauvinism that manipulated the religious and spiritual values of the people. Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, who ruled Haiti from 1957 until his death in 1971, perfected a form of brutal repression with thugs and death squads called the Militia of National Security Advisers. This militia was renamed the Tonton Macoutes by the Haitian people after a mythical Haitian bogeyman who kidnapped children and ate them. Armed with machetes and guns, the Tonton Macoutes rained terror on the Haitian people. Francois Duvalier expired and the external forces propped up his son, Baby Doc, until the people revolted in 1986. From 1915-1986, there was no possibility for reconstruction on Haiti, The people of Haiti revolted and brought a new movement to lay the basis for reconstruction.

The government of the United States organised not one, but two violent interventions to curtail possibilities of reconstruction by removing the first democratically elected president in Haiti, Bertrand Aristide. Aristide was placed at the front of a grassroots movement that gave itself the name ‘Fanmi Lavalas’. The Fanmi Lavalas movement was seeking to work through the inherited contradictions to lay a new foundation. This movement believed that the reconstruction of Haiti could only take place in the context of the reconstruction of the lives of the Haitian people based on the revolutionary history of Haiti. Together with other African descendants from across the world, the people of Haiti supported the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in September 2001, seeking to implant on the world a new spirit or reparations so that humanity could heal from the crimes against itself committed during the period of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and thereafter.

But this national and international effort was nipped in the bud.

A global ‘war on terror’ imposed a different agenda on the world while real terrorism against the peoples of Haiti was supported by the west. Thugs, death squads, drug runners and anti-social elements permeating Haiti were supported by France and the United States. Bertrand Aristide was removed in 2004 just at the moment when the world was being reminded of the 200th anniversary of the Haitian Revolution. The United Nations was brought in to give legitimacy to the erosion of the popular sovereignty of Haiti in the form of an allegedly peacekeeping force called, the United Nations Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Money launderers, Drug runners and gangsters flourished in this scheme of recolonisation. In this moment of external domination, the imperial forces had suborned the Organization of American States to support imperial occupation of Haiti. What was baffling was how governments in Brazil and Venezuela that presented themselves as progressives could be part of the OAS front for oppressing the Haitian peoples. Indeed the Wikileaks cables reveal the desire of the United States to keep Aristide out of Haiti and suppressing the Haitian people by pressuring Brazil, which led the MINUSTAH at the time. In 2005, Brazil led MINUSTAH in a deadly assault to suppress the coup and occupation of Cite Soleil, one of Haiti’s poorest communities.

On 12 January 2010 there was a massive earthquake in Haiti. Millions of people were displaced in the capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas killing hundreds of thousands. Billions of dollars were pledged for reconstruction. For a brief moment, the popular and democratic forces in Haiti looked to the progressive world to intervene solidly so that all of the international attention on Haiti after the earthquake would support the democratic forces inside Haiti.

Again, reconstruction was opposed by the imperial forces in France and the United States. Cynically, the military and humanitarian occupation of MINUSTAH, by appointing former President William Jefferson Clinton as UN Special Envoy to Haiti to utilise Clinton’s networks that had been in support of the anti-social forces of the nineties. To add to the ruble and distress in the society, an outbreak of cholera served to intensify the pressures on the people of Haiti to keep them down. Progressive Haitians now looked to the Caribbean, Latin America and the new rising forces to become an antidote to humanitarian imperialism.

To block the energetic measures of the people of Haiti, the imperial forces of the US imposed a new president who was clearly enamored by the militarist traditions of the Duvalierists. The inauguration of Michel ‘Sweet Micky’ Martelly as President of Haiti on 14 May 2011, was an affront to the peoples of Haiti and the world. The sham elections of 28 November 2010 that excluded the largest party in Haiti, Fanmi Lavalas, dictated that the people of Haiti would have to find new ways to organise for reconstruction. This reconstruction in Haiti will demand political changes in all parts of the Americas. The struggles for reparative justice is transnational and the lessons of imperial destruction in Haiti dictate that the progressive forces in all parts of the Americas will have to see how the struggles for peace, democracy and reparations are inseparable from the struggles in other parts of the Americas,


When the massive earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, it was estimated that over the estimated 222,000 Haitians perished. Close to two million persons were displaced. Hundreds of thousands were homeless. In the midst of the rubble, the United States sent troops, ostensibly to prevent looting. Such was the mindset of international capitalists that in a moment when quarter of a million persons lost their lives, protection of property and material goods came before the lives of the peoples of Haiti.

International non-governmental organisations of all stripes descended on Haiti. Many of these international NGO’s demanded military protection from the people whom they were in Haiti to purportedly serve. Haiti presented a textbook case of disaster capitalism. Together with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, these NGOs created a new layer of oppressive governance to isolate the democratic aspirations of the people. International goodwill for the people of Haiti brought promises of support of all forms from all over the world. Bill Clinton and the neoliberal faction of US capitalism established themselves at the head of this wave of popular support for reconstruction. Where clear planning was needed, these forces continued to push the failed reform plans of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to create a layer of servile imperial allies inside Haiti. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians in the diaspora rallied to form international teams to rebuild the country.

Instead of international brigades going into Haiti to assist the rebuilding and working with the people, Bill Clinton was named Special Envoy to Haiti. Later, Paul Farmer, the renowned physician and anthropologist and founder of Partners in Health, was named Deputy Special Envoy. This ruse was to exploit the good image of Partners in Health, which provided medical services to the poor, in the service of imperial machinations.

Reconstruction after the earthquake required honest government, a solid partnership with those who wanted to see homes, schools, hospitals, public facilities, roads and other infrastructure rebuilt for the people. These were not forthcoming. In the absence of clear support for reconstruction in spite of billions of dollars pledged, there were some section of the people of Haiti and their allies who began to believe that the earthquake was not a natural disaster. Web surfers began to read blogs claiming that a ‘tectonic weapon’ had been unleashed to induce the catastrophic earthquake that hit the country. The US military Project called HAARP was named as the tectonic weapon. HAARP, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, is a Pentagon operation in Alaska directed at the occasional reconfiguration of the properties of the Earth’s ionosphere to improve satellite communications. Many writers on this program associate this military capability with the ability to generate ‘violent and unexpected changes in climate.’

Whether such capabilities exist could only be clarified in a context of full disclosure of the role of the drilling of the oil companies in the Caribbean and the by-products of deep drilling below the ocean floor in the Caribbean. The full role of the US military and intelligence services in Haiti over the previous one hundred years ensured that the US military forces did not inspire confidence in the people of Haiti when the Obama administration deployed 13,000 marines in the aftermath of the earthquake.


Whether the earthquake was a natural disaster or not, the conservative and racist forces invoked God against the people of Haiti. The racist media had a field day reproducing images of sloth, poverty and hopelessness in Haiti. The media repeated the formulation that Haiti was ‘the poorest country in the western hemisphere.’ Racists and imperialists sought to outdo each other in mobilising stereotypes of Haiti. Kidnappers and child traffickers used the disaster as cover for their trade. Pat Robertson claimed that the Haiti was God’s revenge because Haiti had made a pact with the evil. Robertson said on national TV in the United States that,

‘Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French, you know, Napoleon the Third and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.” True story. And so the devil said, “O.K., it's a deal.” ‘

Inside the United States and in the Caribbean fundamentalist and born again forces reproduced this tale so that even among some sections of the poor in Haiti, there was a view that the suffering was payback from divine forces. According to this rendition of the revolution in Haiti, the struggles against France and slavery were struggles against Christianity and civilization, because the enslaved were being Christianised by the French. The evil voodoo priests of Haiti had made a pact with the devil in order to in order to secure Satan's aid in expelling the French occupation.

The ranting of Pat Robertson was a new variation of the kind of racism that had developed in the West to oppose black dignity and self-assertiveness. Michael West in the book, ‘From Toussaint to Tupac’ captured the birth and support of the racist ideas of Count Gobineau in France and how these ideas became part of the international arsenal to hold back Haiti and black people.

‘If the Haitian Revolution could not be rolled back, it would certainly be contained. Having won the war, the Haitians would be denied the fruits of victory: they would be made to lose the peace. The cost of throwing off the shackles of colonialism, slavery and white supremacy would be very high, even crippling. European powers and white-run states variously isolated Haiti, embargoed its goods, demanded reparations, and barred from their shores its dangerous achievements and citizens … scientific racism as a mode of securing post abolition global racial hierarchies flourished, initially, and not accidentally, in post-Napoleonic France, most notably in the writings of Count Gobineau, “the father of racist ideology”.’

The crippling of the revolution and the attempt to systematically destroy the Haitian revolution by military occupation and by thugs and drug dealers ensured that the task of reconstructing Haiti would require new political forces, nationally, regionally and internationally. Such forces had begun to coalesce during the presidency of Bertrand Aristide and the international efforts to support the World Conference against Racism.


In the first years after the revolution in Haiti, the people were desperate to end diplomatic isolation. The history books tell us that the ‘French government sent a team of accountants and actuaries into Haiti in order to place a value on all lands, all physical, assets, the 500,000 citizens who were formerly enslaved, animals, and all other commercial properties and services. The sums amounted to 150 million gold francs. Haiti was told to pay this reparation to France in return for national recognition. The Haitian government agreed; payments began immediately. Members of the Cabinet were also valued because they had been enslaved persons before Independence.’

Numerous writers have been chronicling how France had worked to systematically destroy the Republic of Haiti. Professor Hilary Beckles, principal of the University of the West Indies, was among the many who added his voice to the exposure of France and the US in the destruction of Haiti. He argued that France had carried out a merciless exploitation, ‘that was designed and guaranteed to collapse the Haitian economy and society.’ Haiti was forced to pay the sum of 150 million francs until 1922 when the last installment was made.

France had used then international balance of power in the 19th century to turn the idea of reparations on its head.

At the end of the twentieth century, the international balance of forces were shifting and in this shift the anti-globalisation forces, the forces of peace, the environmental justice movement and the anti-racist movements had coalesced and came together under the framework of the World Conference Against Racism. Coming together in differing regions of the world over a ten-year period, this WCAR met in Durban South Africa in September 2001. It was in the general international mobilisation to name the slavery and slave trade as crimes against humanity where the peoples of Haiti called on the peoples of France to repay the forced reparative claims of French imperialists of the 19th century.

During the 2001 UN Conference on Race in Durban, South Africa, there were strong representations that reparations were due to the black peoples of the world emanating from the years of enslavement. Additionally, it was in agreed the Durban conference that the government of France had to repay the 150 million francs. ‘The value of this amount was estimated by financial actuaries as US$21 billion.’

Here was a firm basis for reparations and reconstruction.

Neither France nor the United States took these deliberations lightly. It was a historical coincidence that the attack on the US, 11 September 2011, took place two days after the end of the WCAR in Durban. Since that time the resolutions of the meeting were squashed as the world was diverted to the global war on terror. Inside Haiti, the forces of destruction unleashed terror against the peoples of Haiti. When the US invaded Iraq in March 2003, France and the US were at loggerheads. However, when it came to the destabilisation of Haiti, they were in agreement. The president, Aristide was removed from power and another form of occupation took place. Only this time, the French and the USA sought the cover of the United Nations with the installation of MINUSTAH. This devise of hiding behind the United Nations necessitated clarity on the part of the forces opposed to imperial domination. The Caribbean societies and the South Africans rejected the propaganda war against Haiti. Brazil and Venezuela gestured towards the progressive camp but allowed their troops to be caught to in the UN and NGO occupation.

Whatever the conditions of Haiti before the major event of January 2010, there was need for clarity; forces such as Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic National Committee, who served as director of the Office of Political Affairs for the Obama administration from January 2009 to 2011, and Paul Farmer, world-renowned doctor, had to emerge from the shadows to join the required fight back against the recolonisation and remilitarisation of Haiti.


International divisions over the future paths of Haiti simmered as disaster and rubble were reinforced by a massive cholera outbreak. The strain of this cholera was foreign to the Caribbean and instead of seriously investigating, the UN mobilised the international media to demonise the people of Haiti. It was in the midst of these multiple catastrophes that the US form of democracy without elections was imposed on the people of Haiti. The elections were held in November 2010 after the US disenfranchised the majority of Haitians by denying the participation of the Lavalas in the elections. Two candidates who between them received 11 per cent of the vote were nominated for the second round of the elections in March 2011.

The Clintons worked overtime to ensure that there was media support for this illegitimate process. Hilary Clinton, the US secretary of state left dealing with the smouldering revolution in Egypt to fly to Haiti to bully the government to accept a fraudulent process. President René Préval of Haiti was promised the same treatment of ouster like that which deposed Aristide if he did not accept the pressure to sanction the illegitimate procedure. In the midst of this farce of preparing for the runoff, the exiled Baby Doc Duvalier returned to Haiti. In a democratic society, Duvalier would have been arrested for the criminal actions and it was significant that there were no drumbeats for his arrest from the western media. Baby Doc is a criminal and pressures must be intensified so that he is brought to trial in Haiti.

Pressures on the people of Haiti did not deter them and they continued to organise. It was this grassroots organisation and pressure that enabled Bertrand Aristide to return. Reports coming out from the grassroots organisation in the country showed that the people were not cowed. Norman Girvan, professor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies, who attended and participated in one such meeting in Haiti, reported on the vibrancy of the grassroots social movements inside Haiti and their call for international solidarity. Girvan reported that approximately one hundred representatives of social organisations from throughout the country – including farmers, women, labour, students, human rights, and professionals – concluded three days of intense debate about the kind of Haiti they want to see, the obstacles they face, and the nature of the financing they need. According to Norman Girvan,

‘Among other conclusions, they agreed on an agenda for collective action that includes creating a permanent Assembly of Social Movements, campaigning for the non-renewal of the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti – a veritable parallel government set up a year ago under the tutelage of the U.S., World Bank, IDB and other so-called “international donors”, and reinforcing a regional campaign for the withdrawal of the MINUSTAH military occupation.’
I am in support of the calls from within Haiti for a new path to reconstruction that begins with the people of Haiti.

The installation of Michel Martelly as president of Haiti on May 14 demanded that the left and progressive forces internationally organise to expose and oppose the forces of violence and destruction inside Haiti. The process that brought Martelly to the presidency was a sham, and this farce will force popular forces to distinguish between processes of democratisation and pseudo-elections without democratic participation.

The constellation of class and military forces fighting to oppose reparations and reconstruction in Haiti are the same constellation of forces that hid behind the view that Haiti is cursed. The majesty of the Haitian revolution continues to inspire new forces as we enter a new revolutionary moment. The events of the current revolutionary moment in world politics demand that Haitians and all those in solidarity with Haiti cannot give up on Haiti. I am in agreement with C.L.R James that the people of Haiti and the people of the Caribbean will move again and when they move they will shock the world.


* Horace Campbell is professor of African American studies and political science at Syracuse University. He is the author of ‘Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA’. See
* Please send comments to or comment online at Pambazuka News.”


(Quelle: Pambazuka News.)

Eritrea: Flüchtlinge und globale Flüchtlingspolitik

Dienstag, Mai 17th, 2011

“Human Tsunamis

Refugees and the Failure of Forced Migration Policy


The world’s attention is understandably fixed on the post-tsunami nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan and the equally seismic political transformations shaking North Africa and the Middle East. Much speculation swirls around the impact of these events regionally and globally. Will fallout reach the shores of Europe and North America? Will more dictatorships be swept aside by swells of democratization? What role should the international community and the United Nations play?

In at least one country, the answer to the first question is clear, if not the second. And the third is another story altogether.

The Northeast African nation of Eritrea marks its 20th year of independence next month. But the festivities will be marred by mourning. President Isayas Afwerki remains firmly entrenched in the seat of power, claiming with alacrity to have foretold the groundswell overtaking his Arab neighbors while banning television coverage of the demonstrations and reorganizing the military to pre-empt a possible coup. Meanwhile, the ripples radiating from the epicenter of his brutal regime are unrelenting, and the fallout has a human face. Tens of thousands of men, women, and children have fled Eritrea in wave after wave of despair. While some of these refugees make it to the shores of Europe and North America, many more do not. Last week, two boats carrying 400 Eritreans and Ethiopians from Libya to Italy disappeared in the Mediterranean Sea. Fishermen and the Coast Guard are still recovering the bodies – evidence of what Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi calls “the human tsunami” battering the walls of Fortress Europe. In the Sinai desert, traffickers of multiple nationalities work in tandem with security forces of Egypt and Eritrea to extort, exploit, abuse, torture and execute refugees seeking to cross into Israel, where they are summarily labeled “infiltrators” in a euphemistic avoidance of international responsibilities to protect asylum seekers.

If refugee flows are a sign of political meltdown, then Eritrea is a level seven nuclear disaster. Figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees indicate that Eritrea, with a population of only about five million, has been among the top ten refugee producing countries in the world for the better part of the decade. In 2006, it ranked second in the world. In 2007 only Somalis and Iraqis lodged more asylum applications than Eritreans, and in 2008 the numbers of claims filed by Eritreans exceeded those of Iraqis.

The reason? Eritrea spends a whopping 20 percent of its national budget maintaining a military comprised of forced conscripts whose virtually unpaid labor is reinvested in further militarization of the society and economy. The Constitution has been on ice since 1997, the promise of multi-party elections remains unfulfilled and even North Korea boasts greater freedom of the press. Civil society institutions and competing political parties exist only in exile. The list of human rights abuses characterizing daily life in Eritrea is longer than the number of international conventions the government has signed. Torture, rape, and execution are commonplace for those who dare put up a fight. The result? Massive flight. “Is there a worse country in the world than this?” mused a Texas lawyer representing one of the hundreds of Eritrean asylum seekers in the U.S. as we reviewed his client’s case.

As an anthropologist who has lived in Eritrea and worked with Eritrean communities in Europe, Africa, and the U.S. for years, I dearly want to defend this country. But the best I can do is to help defend its displaced, abused, and often forgotten citizens. Together with lawyers, Eritrean activists, human rights organizations, UNHCR staff, and colleagues like Magnus Treiber and Barbara Harrell-Bond, I struggle to place the people of this small African country on the global crisis radar. It’s a tall order in these days of perpetual disasters and mind-numbing statistics.

And the statistics on refugees are indeed numbing. The number of people forcibly displaced by conflict and persecution worldwide stood at 42 million at the end of 2008. The total includes 16 million refugees and asylum seekers and 26 million internally displaced people uprooted within their own countries. These figures, of course, hide lots of things, such as the numbers of people removed by development projects like dam-building, by “natural” disasters, by the structural violence of poverty, environmental destruction, and by the alchemy of desperation and profits that forces people to migrate and often to sell their bodies and lives into servitude of one kind or another. These figures obviate human experience.

But human experience is what anthropologists are always after – how to put life and breath and flesh onto the cold bones of statistics; how to illustrate the concrete meanings of political violence and migration policies and practices as people live them. Among such human experiences are those of nineteen members of the elite Air Force of Eritrea who fled to Sudan a couple of years ago, risking the “shoot-to-kill” policy of the Eritrean government — as hundreds of others do every month — seeking to cross the nearest international border.

In Sudan, they registered with the UNHCR and began seeking both refugee protection and resettlement abroad. Their high-ranking and symbolically significant position as the pride of the Eritrean Defense Forces made them more vulnerable to persecution and punishment by the Eritrean government than many of the 100,000+ Eritrean refugees in Khartoum. However, some of these men used to be soldiers with the guerrilla movement that is now the Eritrean government. They have scant hope of ever being accepted by the U.S. or Canada – the two largest refugee receiving countries in the world – because under some very broad terms of the U.S. Patriot Act and a similar Canadian law, they are considered “terrorists.” This is because they took up arms in an anticolonial liberation struggle against the Ethiopian government more than thirty years ago.

Others in the group are young men who were conscripted. Despite their elite positions, their fate was hardly better than most others in the military and their exit signaled refusal of the sort of complicity that makes life more bearable in such conditions. However, these men are also in for a long and treacherous series of legal obstacles due to international reluctance to recognize military deserters and a 2002 policy adopted by the UNHCR rendering ex-combatants ineligible for resettlement.

Similarly, clauses that exclude those who may have participated in human rights violations or persecution of others also present stumbling blocks when applied to real conditions. Virtually every soldier in the Eritrean military has been forced to guard, surveil, or repress another soldier or civilian at some point, and the majority of Eritrean refugees have been soldiers. The very structure and social organization of militarization and political repression in Eritrea blur the neat legal distinction between persecuted and persecutor so critical in refugee and asylum determination procedures. Even the U.S. Supreme Court got drawn in, when the asylum claim of a former conscript named Daniel Negusie was denied because his assignment as a prison guard – punishment for his own dissidence by the Eritrean government – suggested he was complicit in the harm of others.

In the meantime, the 19 men wait in Khartoum, where Eritrean security officials operate with impunity. On any given day, they may be attacked by an agent of their own government, kidnapped and taken back to Eritrea, or, at the very least shaken down and extorted by Sudanese police or soldiers, perhaps beaten and jailed for being unwanted migrants. Should the UNHCR take the situation seriously and realize these men need protection – an unlikely showing of concern for individuals by a bureaucracy whose esteemed reputation is outshined only by its impersonality, impenetrability, and unaccountability – they may be taken to a refugee camp, where they will still be subject to many of the same pressures, only in more concentrated form. This is glossed as “protection,” even a “solution,” though it is hardly that.

While camps in places like Sudan and Ethiopia may comply with UNHCR policy, they are administered by host country agencies and staff, some of whom inevitably participate in the abuse and misuse of refugees, often under the noses of international staff. A trip to the food distribution center may end in rape and a place in the resettlement queue can be bought (or lost) for a hundred thousand birr [Ethiopian currency]. In Shimelba Refugee Camp, in northern Ethiopia, the UNHCR compound is open only a few hours per week, as impervious to refugees’ pleas for help as President Isayas Afwerki is to political transition.

If elite air force men cannot gain the attention of UNHCR, then the situation is far worse for the average person. Some refugees get sick of waiting – who wouldn’t? – and take their chances. But the routes to escape are toxic. If they make it through the Libyan desert to reach the Mediterranean and finally to Malta or Lampedusa, which only a handful do, new problems arise at the gates of Fortress Europe. Are they really political refugees or just impoverished economic migrants? How will a country like Malta – swamped with tens of thousands of refugees – manage to decide their fate? If they move on to another European country, they face imprisonment and deportation under the Dublin II regulation. Consumer values may tout individual initiative and choice but do not extend to “asylum shopping,” thank you very much.

Those who have the connections and money might hire a smuggler, usually for tens of thousands of dollars, who will take them on a risky and tortuous journey to Southern Africa, then Brazil, through Colombia or Venezuela, perhaps Cuba, then Nicaragua, Guatemala, and finally Mexico, where stuffed in the cargo bay of a bus, or in the custody of a coyote, they will cross the border of the US and ask for asylum. For their efforts at being “above board” – that is, presenting themselves to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – they are welcomed to freedom in America through its prison system. While this may stimulate the privatized prison-industrial economy, it is first and foremost an extension of human rights abuses shouldered by refugees. In detention, they discover legal-dilemma redux: many of the same problems that stalled the refugee process in Sudan follow them to the United States. They are possibly terrorists, or implicated in persecution and human rights abuses; they are cowardly deserters of a sovereign state’s military; and of course, they are always criminals for having the audacity to migrate illegally. But had the legal refugee process been responsive to actual human circumstances, such illegality would be far less likely.

I am compelled to shed light on stories such as these not only to highlight the victimization, suffering, and exploitation that runs through them in every direction like capillary veins, that multiply with each person involved, with each new step through “the system” in which legal and illegal intersect all the time; where the life-force that drives people to make such choices in the name of survival and hope can be snuffed out in an instant for profit, power, or sheer indifference. Nor is my primary intention to malign institutions like the UNHCR, or the asylum system in the US and Europe, which are as full of dedicated and committed advocates for refugees’ rights as they are of infuriating inefficiency, corruption, and bureaucratic senselessness.

My goal is to illustrate the complexity and global scope of human rights dilemmas that structure refugees’ lives, and the failures of institutions, policies and laws designed to manage them as technical problems rather than protect them as human beings. It is not enough to simply address the human rights violations that lead people to become refugees at the source, crucial as that may be. All along the way, refugees face multiple and nested issues that are sometimes endemic and even actively produced or aggravated by the very systems designed to protect them.

While earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear accidents, and revolutions may be dramatic and momentous events, it is worth remembering that their wrenching daily equivalency plays out in political and humanitarian disasters like that of Eritrea’s refugees, more invisible than the radiation seeping into the Pacific but no less poisonous for those affected. As Eritreans mark the 20th anniversary of their revolution, any thoughts of Egypt or Libya will focus on the lives of loved ones lost in the Sinai or Sahara, or those whose fates are yet unknown. Their suffering, and the ripples of despair that radiate throughout the lives of their families and compatriots, is fallout from Isayas Afwerki’s dictatorial rule. But it is also fallout from the international community’s failed, inadequate, and draconian migration policies and laws. The fallout has not only reached our shores – it also originates there. What comes around goes around. Human lives are the currency we use to pay for the failures of modernity.

Tricia Redeker Hepner is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Chair of the Migration and Refugee Studies Division of the Center for the Study of Social Justice, and Eritrea Country Specialist for Amnesty International and The Fahamu Refugee Network. She can be reached at”


(Quelle: Counterpunch.)

Siehe auch:

Eritrea: Refugees and Responsibility

Afghanistan/Irak: Korruptionstreibstoff Krieg

Dienstag, Mai 10th, 2011

“World Corruption Special Report

By David Smith

World Corruption Special Report

“We Will Pursue Fighting Corruption”

Iraq and Afghanistan sit near the top of a list of the world’s most corrupt nations despite years of occupation by Anglo-American forces and more than $1 trillion of US taxpayers’ money having been spent on the two nations since 2001.

Not withstanding the killing of Osama, we are entitled to ask the question: was this money well spent?

The 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) from the Berlin-based watchdog rated Somalia, with a score of 1.1 out of 10, as the world’s most corrupt nation, closely followed by Afghanistan and Myanmar with scores of 1.4, and Iraq on 1.5. The least corrupt were New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark, on 9.3 (See table attached). 

“Unstable governments with a history of conflict dominate the bottom rungs of the list,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International.   

Dr Jon Moran, a reader in security in Leicester University’s Department of Politics and International Relations, said we should not be surprised that war-torn states dominate the list. The recent histories of both Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate the link between war and corruption. 

“In Iraq, sanctions after the first Gulf War, combined with the existing corruption of Saddam Hussein’s regime created a siege economy in which corruption became endemic,” Moran said.

“Smuggling and black markets became important for everyone from the ordinary citizen to the elites. This is a legacy that is still evident today in the way the Iraqi Government is run.”

The corrupt Government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is prepared to use violence in defence of its interests. One story is enough to illustrate this fact: Iraq judge Radhi al-Radhi, who was investigating corruption as head of the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, was forced to flee to the US in 2007 after 31 of his investigators were assassinated by al-Maliki’s men. The assassins also tortured 12 members of the investigators’ families by drilling holes into their bodies, before killing them, too.

In becoming more corrupt from top to bottom, Iraq has followed a familiar historical pattern. “There is plenty of evidence to show how war-torn or blockaded states often see increases in corruption as smuggling networks, black markets and extortion become a way of gaining and distributing resources. It was evident in Yugoslavia in the 1990s,” Moran said.

The Second Gulf War, and subsequent occupation of Iraq, made an already bad situation even worse. “To the existing corruption was added the effects of the chaotic and politicized US occupation,” Moran said. “Although US society has a highly developed system of legal and agency regulation of political and economic corruption – stronger than the UK, for example – in the highly charged ideological occupation of Iraq, this was ignored.

“A number of the basic rules of good governance, which the West often urges developing countries to adopt, such as controls on the disbursement of funds and strong auditing regimes, were missing. The journalist Patrick Cockburn has argued Iraq is the site of some of history’s biggest frauds.”

A third reason for corruption in Iraq is the poor security situation, said Moran. “The lack of basic security after 2003 fuelled violent crime. Basic services disappeared and everyone was forced to use contacts, and black markets and other desperate measures to simply get by.”

The origins of corruption in Afghanistan, Moran said, also have their antecedents in former war and occupation.

“Afghanistan already had a serious problem with corruption under the Soviet-backed governments of the 1970s and then after the Soviet invasion in the 1980s the country became a site of opium, arms smuggling and black markets,” he said.

The Taliban eradicated opium crops in 2000-2001, but their attitude to drugs has been inconsistent. “They were also not averse to trading it themselves and now they are using it to fund their insurgency,” said Moran. “Afghanistan has always been a major supplier of opium, but the war has created a surge in opium growth. Lack of security, corrupt local security, and the encouragement by the Taliban of opium-growing have all contributed.”

Ned Conway, a researcher at the Institute for Middle East, Central Asia and Caucasus Studies (MECACS) at the University of St Andrews, said the Taliban made money from opium by offering protection to narcotics networks. “The Taliban does not produce opium, but it collects taxes from everyone involved, including farmers, processors, all the way up to the drug barons and kingpins in Pakistan,” he said.

The Anglo-American security forces are too overloaded to fight corruption and prevent opium production.

“The ISAF are relatively thin on the ground and they are expected to do everything from fighting the Taliban, to promoting democracy, to training the police and army and providing local services and eradicating opium,” Moran said.

In his analysis of the corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ned Conway, at the University of St Andrews, focuses on the direct role of Anglo-American money.

“There are two reasons why pouring billions of dollars into Iraq and Afghanistan has made them more corrupt,” he said. “Firstly, if the host government doesn’t have the institutions to make sure the money is accounted for, then people take advantage of the situation. We have members of government who receive bribes in return for contracts and contracting companies which never follow through on projects they were paid to complete.

“The second reason is these countries are incredibly dangerous. If inspectors do not have freedom of movement, so that they aren’t able to check up on a project’s progress in a high conflict area, implementing appropriate anti-corruption safeguards is very difficult.”  

It has become impossible to police the situation so that corruption has become a way of life. “The problem is mainly with the sub-contracting or sub-sub-contracting,” said Conway. “You may think you’re giving your money to company X to complete a project, but often there is a chain of sub-contracts before a shovel hits the earth, and all along the way, each sub-contractor takes a cut.”

Conway, however, has some sympathy with the innocent people caught up in the culture of corruption. “In Iraq and Afghanistan, it is to some degree expected. Take the Afghan Border Police officer who makes $130 a month. That is not enough to live on, so the individual is forced to find more ‘creative’ ways to support his family. Is it wrong? If you asked him, he would probably say that President Hamid Karzai is taking a much bigger piece of the pie, so why can’t he? On top of that, he probably won’t be caught. In fact, his boss might even encourage the behaviour.” 

Conway believes the Anglo-American occupation will leave different legacies in Iraq to Afghanistan.

“Iraq is in a much better situation than Afghanistan. Large groups of people have a voice now that was stunted under Saddam Hussein, and that voice for the most part manifests itself in the political arena, not in armed conflict. Iraq has its share of problems, and could fall back into true chaos, but more or less the country is much better off,” he said. 

“Afghanistan is more difficult. Its system of governance is doomed to fail. There is too much power in central government, not enough power in the provinces. There are also no industries that might ‘save’ the country, whereas in Iraq oil will guarantee money coming into the budget. Afghanistan wants to be a transit state for pipelines and for trade, but that is impossible as long as there is violence.”


  1. Somalia – 1.1 
  2. Myanmar – 1.4  
  3. Afghanistan – 1.4  
  4. Iraq – 1.5
  5. Uzbekistan – 1.6
  6. Turkmenistan — 1.6
  7. Sudan – 1.6
  8. Chad – 1.7
  9. Burundi – 1.8
  10. Equatorial Guinea – 1.9
  11. Angola –1.9
  12. Venezuela — 2.0
  13. Kyrgystan — 2.0
  14. Guinea — 2.0
  15. Democratic Republic of Congo — 2.0


Find more world corruption index figures and data on our new Corruption Perception Index database.


Jan Toporowski, chair of the department of economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, analysed some common characteristics of corrupt countries;

Weak banking systems:                                

“It is difficult to generalise as the countries have different patterns of corruption. But countries at the bottom tend to have weak banking systems involving a lot of informal payments. A combination of weak laws, suspect payments and weak asset markets makes it difficult to do business. In countries like Uzbekistan, and many African countries, the rich elites want to increase their wealth, but the traditional sources of wealth – such as land – are not appreciating much. So these elites – in these resource-rich lands – turn to ‘informal’ ways of holding onto wealth,” he said.

Traditional societies:

“Iraq and Afghanistan may be democracies, but democracy is not the only factor. To avoid corruption, it’s important to have a modern ‘impersonal attitude’ to finance. This is what characterises modernity in terms of finance. It means people don’t get too attached to share certificates, or land. They sell on for a better price, or buy and sell against their assets. In the traditional societies of the Middle East, many people still store their wealth in gold and not many people borrow against their wife’s jewels.”

Developing countries:

“Most developed countries have been through a period of high corruption, before legal frameworks of accountability are put in place. Developing countries have huge inequalities of income, which leads to more corruption because people are envious of other people’s money. With more equal distribution of income, the incentive to make that extra bit of money through corruption is not there.”

Professor Toporowski says the long-term solution is modernisation of financial sectors. The emergence of a commercial middle-class, which uses modern bank accounts and modern systems of payment, would stop ‘informal’ approaches to business. 

“Education changes attitudes. They become educated by studying abroad to the US, or Britain, and taking back ideas which help their countries to modernize. We call them ‘modernising elites’. The education systems in the developing nations are important, too, in bringing about change. In this respect, Somalia is at a disadvantage as literacy is a recent thing there, whereas Myanmar is a relatively urbanised and relatively educated society, so we might expect change to occur more quickly there.”

And check out the Corruption Perception Index, new on the Economic Statistics Database.