Voices from Russia

Saturday, 30 June 2018

America’s Problem Isn’t Immigration… America’s Problem Is White Supremacy

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The USA appears to be destined by Providence to plague [the continent of] America with misery in the name of liberty.

Simón Bolívar

These words of the great 19th-century Latin American emancipator accurately describe the relationship between the USA and Latin America to this day. It’s why the punitive treatment by the Trump Administration of migrants attempting to cross the border from Mexico into the USA constitutes a double injustice.

The first injustice is the role that Washington plays and played in destabilising and impoverishing the economies of Latin American states over generations, while subverting and helping to bring down those governments south of the border that dares attempt to unshackle their countries from the chains of US imperialism, in process of which rampant crime, corruption, and violence prosper. The second injustice is the dehumanisation and demonisation meted out to the victims of the ensuing instability and social and economic dislocation wrought when in a state of extremis they flee their homes for sanctuary across the border with their families. Under no moral code can you justify or defend the forced separation of children, including infants, from their parents… none whatsoever. We saw this in the justifiable outcry unleashed in response, which eventually forced Trump to rescind the policy. However, this being said, the nauseating hypocrisy of liberals excoriating the president over the policy of separating children at the border with Mexico has been near impossible to bear. The likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, people who when they weren’t responsible for the mass slaughter of children in the Middle East with their régime-change wars, have, in the case of Clinton, supported mass incarceration in the USA itself, involving the forced separation of families, such people have absolutely no right to take any moral high ground on this issue.

Focusing on the whys and wherefores of mass migration, it’s incumbent on those who are serious about grasping the issue at its roots to identify its causes, rather than continue to deal with its symptoms, and thereby only succeed in creating more causes. In so doing we come to the role of US imperialism in sowing uneven and combined development throughout the Americas. Putting it another way, the development and wealth of the USA were contingent on the underdevelopment and poverty of Latin America… the former impossible without the latter. As Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano pointed up in his classic work Open Veins of Latin America:

Underdevelopment isn’t a stage of development, but its consequence. Latin America’s underdevelopment arises from external [European and US] development and continues to feed it. The strength of the imperialist system as a whole rests on the inequality of its parts.

No leader of a Latin or Central American country defied and resisted the juggernaut of US imperialism more than Fidel Castro did. Of the countless speeches he gave during his time at the helm of Cuban politics and society, The Second Declaration of Havana (1962), is among the most powerful:

Since the end of World War II, the countries of Latin America have become more and more impoverished. Their exports have less and less value, their imports cost more. The per capita income falls, the frightful rate of infant mortality doesn’t decrease. The number of illiterates is higher; the people lack jobs, land, adequate housing, schools, hospitals, means of communication, and means of life. Latin America is the provider of cheap raw materials and the buyer of expensive finished articles.

Lest anyone believe that Castro’s views of the relationship between North and South America in the early 1960s bear no relation to the same relationship today, consider, if you will, the plight of Honduras. According to Human Rights Watch, the Central American country in 2018 has violent crime, corruption, and political repression. Meanwhile, according to the World Bank, over 6o percent of its people live in poverty. What we shouldn’t forget is that in 2009 the army toppled the country’s democratically elected leftist President, Manuel Zelaya, in a coup sanctioned by the Honduran Supreme Court and supported by the Obama Administration. As Stephen Zunes reminded us in a 2016 article:

During his [Zelaya’s] tenure, he raised the minimum wage and provided free school lunches, milk for young children, pensions for the elderly, and additional scholarships for students. He built new schools, subsidised public transportation, and even distributed energy-saving light bulbs. None of these was particularly radical, but it was nevertheless disturbing to the country’s wealthy economic and military élites. More frightening was that Zelaya sought to organise an assembly to replace the 1982 constitution written during the waning days of the US-backed military dictator Policarpo Paz García.

With this sorry fate of the country in mind, is it any accident that the number of illegal Honduran migrants into the USA across the Mexican border spiked in recent years? At this juncture, I feel obliged to make a confession. Back in the early to mid-1990s, I was an illegal immigrant living in the USA. However, unlike those crossing the border from Mexico, I wasn’t fleeing natural disaster, grinding poverty, political repression, or a society plagued by crime and violence. I instead had travelled to the USA compelled to do so by nothing more than personal ambition, succumbing to the myth of the American Dream, which as the saying goes is a dream because you have to be asleep to believe it. Anyway, I spent five years in LA as part of the British expat community in Santa Monica, replete with its British pubs, shops, and all the rest, rubbing shoulders and working alongside many other Brits who lived there illegally, many of them having done so for a long time. I worked, paid tax, and was able to exist as if completely legal.

Of course, the difference boils down to the fact that I, and we, happened to be white Europeans, and thus accorded the unwritten but nonetheless obvious privileges white skin affords you in the land of the free. This, ultimately, brings us to the heart of the matter. America’s problem isn’t immigration, its white supremacy. Whether conscious or unconscious, it matters not. The result is brutal treatment meted out to people of colour, migrant and non-migrant alike.

25 June 2018

John Wight

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201806251065767940-us-problem-not-immigration/

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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Archbishop Oscar Romero, Martyr, to Become Saint at Vatican Ceremony on 14 October

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After a 38-year-wait, it’s now official. Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, murdered in 1980 for speaking out against military oppression, will become a saint of the Roman Catholic Church at a Vatican ceremony on 14 October. On 19 May, Pope Francisco, the first pontiff from the Americas, announced the decision during a meeting with cardinals based in Rome. Romero, long considered a saint by Catholics across the Americas, will be elevated to universal veneration at the Vatican ceremony alongside Pope Paul VI, the pontiff who first appointed him a bishop and made the fateful decision in 1977 to make him archbishop of San Salvador. Four others… two Italian priests and German and Spanish founders of separate women’s religious orders… will also become saints at the ceremony.

The Salvadoran’s canonisation, while expected in recent months, nonetheless represents the culmination of one of the clearest turnabouts of Francisco’s nearly five-year papacy. The cause for Romero languished for decades under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who expressed unease with his connection to liberation theology and his vocal denunciations of government killings and kidnappings. Less than two years after his election as pontiff, Francisco placed Romero firmly on the sainthood track, formally decreeing in February 2015 that the archbishop was assassinated as a martyr for the Catholic faith. He then authorised his beatification, the last step before sainthood, in May of that year. El Salvador’s ambassador to the UK, Elisabeth Hayek-Weinmann, told us:

Romero’s coming sainthood represents a unique opportunity for us to heal our historical wounds, restore our social fabric, and build a new sense of national identity based on common values, with social justice and respect for human dignity at its core. His teachings and legacy provide us, as a nation, a strong moral compass.

During the 19 May meeting with cardinals, known as a consistory, Francisco formally received the request to authorise the canonization of the six persons by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes. Amato gave Francisco a brief biographical sketch of each of the sainthood candidates. He said:

Romero was archbishop during a time of great political crisis in El Salvador and was outraged at seeing the violence against the weak and the killing of priests and catechists, he felt the need to assume an attitude of fortitude. On 24 March 1980, he was killed while celebrating Mass.

After hearing each candidate’s history, Francisco announced their canonisations as a group and set the date and place of the ceremony. As it became clear in recent weeks that Francis would announce Romero’s canonisation, discussions in Rome focused on whether the pontiff would decide to hold the ceremony at the Vatican or in El Salvador. Considerations included trying to make the event accessible to Salvadorans wishing to attend but wanting also to emphasise that, as a saint, Romero will be an example of Christian witness not just for El Salvador but the entire world. Carlos Colorado, a Salvadoran who runs the popular Super Martyrio blog that closely followed the process of Romero’s canonisation, said in an interview:

A ceremony in San Salvador would’ve been a blowout with people attending numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

In a recent blog, Colorado hypothesised that Francisco may still go to El Salvador soon in order to venerate the new saint’s tomb and bring a sense of celebration to the country. One opportunity would be for the pontiff to make a stopover there during his expected January 2019 visit to Panama for World Youth Day. Paulita Pike, an American who lived in El Salvador off-and-on since the early 1970s, knew Romero and now helps coordinate the popular Amigos de Romero/Cultura Romeriana Facebook page, said:

By canonising Romero in Rome, Francisco is holding him up as the model pastor, the model bishop, for the bishops gathered there. Wherever he’s canonised, he’s going to be our saint.

Pike kept vigil at Romero’s tomb in San Salvador’s cathedral overnight on 18 May with members of her group, awaiting news of the canonisation. She said:

He isn’t ours but he’s St Romero of the Americas. Now, he’s going to be St Romero of the world.

19 May 2018

Joshua McElwee

National Catholic Reporter

https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/archbishop-romero-martyr-be-made-saint-vatican-ceremony-oct-14

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Shoigu’s Strategic Latin American Voyage: Russia Stands Behind Its Friends

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General Shoigu with President Ortega in Nicaragua

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00.0b Chavez. Venezuela. 08.10.12

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00 Chavez and Kirill. Blessing. 08.10.12

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04 Raul Castro with Patriarch Kirill

President Castro with Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias

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Cuban Navy cadets in the Russian church in Havana during the last Easter season

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Defence Minister S K Shoigu just ended a tour of Latin America, which in less than one week took him to three countries… Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. Everywhere he enjoyed special military honours and welcomes at the highest state level. In Caracas, President Nicolás Maduro Moros received him, in Managua, President José Daniel Ortega Saavedra greeted him, and in Havana, the head of state Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz feted him. He received Venezuela’s Order of National Security Merit and Nicaragua’s Grand Cross. Shoigu’s meetings with the three Latin American national leaders didn’t look like pure protocol events at all. Discussions were friendly, fundamental, and specific and encompassed a range of aspects of world politics. In part, they discussed the events in the Ukraine. Maduro, Ortega, and Castro fully supported Russia’s stance regarding the situation there. In addition, they touched upon Caribbean problems, in particular, bilateral relations in the political and in the military and military-technical spheres.

Russia was and still is the largest provider of weapons and military hardware for the countries Shoigu visited. To Venezuela alone, Moscow provided at least 11 billion USD (682.5 billion Roubles. 68.8 billion Renminbi. 683.6 billion INR. 13.76 billion CAD. 14.14 billion AUD. 9.68 billion Euros. 7.13 billion UK Pounds) worth of armaments over the past few years. Alongside India, China, and Algeria, it’s one of the best customers of Russian aircraft, tanks, APCs, artillery, and air defence systems. The equipment parks of the Nicaraguan and Cuban forces are entirely Russian. True, their equipment isn’t as new as Caracas’s is. Local industries managed to somehow upgrade much of that equipment, but all of their weapons need urgent replacement, or supplies of spare parts and components, or fundamental upgrade, which might prove the most sensible solution of all. The Minoborony delegation included the chief of the military-technical coöperation service, Aleksandr Fomin, whose staff, along with specialists from Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport, apparently have relevant plans and arrangements.

Last year, Nicaragua created with Russian assistance a centre named after Soviet Marshal G K Zhukov for training army specialists. Near Managua, Moscow helped build an industrial facility for disposing of expired ammunition, which is already operational. During the just-ended visit, Shoigu attended a “ribbon-cutting” at a new topographical centre where Russian specialists provided and assembled the equipment. He proposed to Nicaraguan President Ortega that Nicaragua send teenagers to train at Russian army and naval cadet schools. Some Nicaraguans are already at Russian officer schools and academies, so, why not start instruction from a younger age? In that case, trainees would first learn Russian, then, receive elementary military education, to eventually enable them to take courses at higher military institutions, to fit them to become fully qualified commanders for the Nicaraguan forces. Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov said that he made such proposals not only in Managua, but also in Caracas and Havana.

Shoigu’s overseas voyage had a pretty clear strategic message… Russia’s geopolitical rival must remember that Moscow has its own interests in a part of the world that the Americans recently considered as their backyard, and it possesses the ability to demonstrate and protect these interests. Naturally, the USA is unlikely to be very happy about that, but Moscow, and possibly, Havana, Managua, and Caracas have long stopped paying much attention to comments that may follow from the US State Department.

18 February 2015

Viktor Litovkin

ITAR-TASS

http://tass.ru/en/opinions/778405

Editor:

The Church says, “Socialism is good! The Cuban Healthcare system rocks!” So does the Russian state. The REAL Church has nothing to do with Moonies, Mormons, Pentecostalists, or Teabaggers (those who do are at variance with HH, who believes crapitalism to be a fraud)… the pictures tell a story. ¡El socialismo es bueno!

A waggish friend of mine at the Centre wrote me, “I know why General Shoigu went to Managua! In Moscow, it’s -25 (-13 Fahrenheit)! In Managua, it’s +25 (77 Fahrenheit)!”

BMD

Cuba Demands Closure of Gitmo or No Total Normalisation of Relations

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On Wednesday, Cuban Ambassador to Russia Emilio Losada García said that Washington should close US Naval Station Guantánamo Bay to restore relations with Havana, noting, “No American base should operate in Cuba under the socialist government”. He said that an American withdrawal from the base was a condition for total normalisation of bilateral relations.

18 February 2015

ITAR-TASS

http://tass.ru/en/world/778400

Editor:

This happened soon after the visit of Defence Minister S K Shoigu. Now, it’s clear that Cuba received a security guarantee from Russia. If the USA wants an Embassy in Havana, it has to close Gitmo. This puts Obama on the hot seat. If he closes Gitmo… he’s in the shitter big-time with the GOP (more so than he is now, unbelievably)… if he keeps it open, it knackers his much-ballyhooed opening to Cuba, and makes him look a fool. In short, he can’t win, no way, no how. Methinks that this is a diplomatic pawn… that is, if the USA plays ball with Russia in the Ukraine, Russia MIGHT talk Cuba into softening its demand. Vova’s not a black belt for nothing, kids…

BMD

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