America: The right wave is broken
by Harald Neuber
[This article published on Nov 10, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Amerika-Die-rechte-Welle-ist-gebrochen-4953682.html.]
Still has supporters: Bolivia's ex-president Evo Morales on his return home on Monday (Photo: https://bit.ly/3net31Z (@evoespueblo))
And not only in the USA, but from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego
In the shadow of the U.S. presidential election and the struggle for its result, the political conditions in Latin America have already changed. In several states at once, the political right, which had been supported by the government of the outgoing U.S. president Donald Trump over the past four years, has suffered considerable setbacks. However, the democratic victories south of the Rio Grande have so far been achieved largely through their own efforts. The Biden government has been able to cope with this development.
If the democratic change in Latin America was to be illustrated, then the picture came this week from the Bolivian-Argentinean border town of Villazón. There on Monday the former Bolivian president Evo Morales appeared before hundreds of supporters after he had returned from exile in Argentina.
Morales' return was made possible by the victory of his left-wing movement for socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS) in the first democratic elections after a coup a year ago, on November 10, 2019.
In his first speech after returning home, Morales affirmed that there had been no fraud in the 2019 elections, as claimed by the putschists and the U.S.-based Organization of American States and repeated by Germany's leading media. The best evidence against the thesis of electoral fraud was the result of this year's elections, in which the MAS received 55.1 percent of the votes, he added.
One year after the coup, the country had recovered from the setback "thanks to democracy and without violence". Morales referred to the victory of MAS candidate Luis Arce in the presidential elections on October 18. At the same time he explained why he had left the country and gone into exile. "If I had stayed, I would have had two options: I would have ended up at the cemetery or in a US prison". He accused Trump of having been behind the coup in 2019. However, he said that the electoral defeat last week was a testament to his politics.
Overcoming the legacy of the dictatorship in Chile
A victory for democracy was also reported from Chile, where the population is preparing for a constituent assembly. Nearly 80 % of the population had recently spoken out in favor of the "Constituyente"-the Spanish-language term for the assembly-and had thus inflicted a bitter defeat on the right-wing conservative government of President Sebastián Piñera. (These forces want to prevent a new constitution in Chile)
The Constituent Assembly will consist of 155 members, who will be elected on April 11, 2021, in parallel with the regional elections. No gender may hold more than 50 percent plus one seat in the Constitutional Convention; that is, no more than 78 men or women may be represented in the body.
In return, "parity of results" is sought: If three men are elected in one of the 28 constituencies out of about four mandates to be awarded, the male candidate with the fewest votes must give up his seat to the woman from the same party with the most votes. If his party has not nominated another female candidate, the seat goes to the woman from the same constituency with the most votes. In addition, quotas are planned for representatives of indigenous population groups.
Piñera, who in recent polls was only between 16 percent and 24 percent in favor, had tried everything to thwart the plan.
Already with his speech in Santiago de Chile on the evening of the referendum on a new constitution he had caused renewed criticism when he said that "a constitution will never be baptized anew because it must represent a compromise between generations. It must "also contain the heritage of previous generations", said the right-wing conservative politician, whose cabinet includes several advocates of the Pinochet dictatorship.
Thus, to the extent that the democracy movement in Chile succeeds in anchoring the reform movements in a new constitution, elite rule will be broken with its tendency toward political repression and glorification of the authoritarian legacy of the Pinochet dictatorship.
Biden would also become an anti-trump in Latin America
Of course, in Latin America, in addition to endogenous developments, much will depend on a new US policy on Latin America under Biden. Already during the reign of Barack Obama, he had vehemently advocated economic aid for Central America as vice president in order to reduce the number of migrant workers.
Not only this approach, for which he negotiated 750 million euros in Congress at the time, is in direct contradiction to the repressive anti-immigrant policy of the Trump government, which still snatched 545 children from their parents.
Also foreseeable is a turning away from the aggressive regime change policy towards Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, which John Bolton, who was later hailed as Trump's security advisor, had once dubbed the "troika of tyranny".
Biden and his team, which includes immigrants from Latin America, will take a broader and more sustainable approach to the issue of labor migration in particular. The Brazil correspondent of the New York Times, Ernesto Lodoño, recently pointed out that after the expected change of government in Washington, poverty and violence would be tackled as root causes of migration and instability. In addition, there would be programs against corruption and for job creation.
In the domestic economy, Biden is expected not only to attempt to revive the New Deal, but also to create a new Alliance for Progress in regional policy.
All of this will, of course, be accompanied by the necessary charm and PR offensive after four years of Trump. For too long, the USA has been regarded as a "tyrant that dictates policy to smaller countries," Biden's thoroughly realistic assessment is given in his politician biography "Promise me, Dad".
Biden is "fundamentally convinced that the United States should act in mutual respect and with a sense of shared responsibility," said Jake Sullivan, a high-ranking foreign policy advisor to the president-elect.
This would probably also be accompanied by a renewed departure from the paternalistic principles of the Monroe Doctrine, which was put aside under Obama's Secretary of State John Kerry and reactivated under Trump 2018.
Bad news for right-wing extremists and would-be presidents
Bad news for Trump fans and protegés in Latin America, of course. The relationship between the USA and the radical right-wing Brazilian head of government Jair Bolsonaro, for example, is likely to cool down considerably if Biden takes the helm in Washington.
This had already become apparent after the first debate in the US presidential election campaign, in which Biden proposed an international fund of 20 billion US dollars to protect the Brazilian Amazon region. According to Biden, the Bolsonaro leadership must expect "economic consequences" if the deforestation (which it is forcing) is not slowed down.
Trump fan Bolsonaro reacted immediately and declared outraged: "Our sovereignty is not negotiable.
And yet another beneficiary of the Trump presidency is likely to look with concern at what is happening in Washington right now: Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaidó. Should Trump step down, he would not only lose his main ally, the United States.
As a result, the German Foreign Office, which is unprincipled in this matter, would probably also have to move away from recognizing Guaidó as president in violation of international law. It would not be the first time that the Latin America Department at Werderscher Markt has acted according to projects from Washington, and this was already evident in its attitude toward Cuba.
Guaidó already got a foretaste of the new conditions on the American continent this Monday. After the assumption of office of the first democratic government in Bolivia since the coup a year ago, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza again took over the country's embassy in La Paz, which had been occupied by Guaidó's people under the putschists.
Arreaza took down the portrait of "President" Guaidó and put it aside - face to the ground. In place of the self-appointed interim president, he hung the portrait of the liberation hero Simón Bolívar. (Harald Neuber)
Biden and Harris present transition program
by Harald Neuber
[This article published on Nov 9, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Biden-und-Harris-stellen-Uebergangsprogramm-vor-4951402.html.]
Still thinking about content: Joe Biden, here on the website buildbackbetter.com
Campaign website offers many commonplaces and the promise to get the Corona pandemic under control
While outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump still refuses to admit defeat in last Tuesday's presidential election, his designated successor Joe Biden and incoming Vice President Kamala Harris have presented their plans for political change
"Our nation is facing a pandemic as well as an economic crisis, emphatic demands for racial justice and an existential threat of climate change. President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris know that we cannot simply return to the way things were before. The team that is currently being put together will immediately address these challenges and get us back on track," the website says.
The Biden team, under the site title buildbackbetter.com, presents four policy areas that the new government wants to prioritize:
the fight against the Corona Pandemic;
the recovery of the US economy;
the fight against racism and ethnic inequality;
the fight against climate change.
There is also a chapter on the website dedicated to the procedures to be followed during the assumption of office. It says that Biden and Harris are concerned with the "diversity of ideologies". Observers see this as a clear sign from the new head of government to approach the supporters of Donald Trump, who was voted out of office. It remains unclear, however, how exactly and to what extent these concessions will affect government policy.
Biden wants to introduce transition advisors today
The President-elect team announced that priority would be given to "people's talent, the most complex challenges facing society, integrity and the highest ethical standards. This sounds rather platitudinous, as does the promise to "serve the American people and not special interests" and "transparency (to guarantee) to gain trust at all times.
The transition plans were simultaneously distributed on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter- and Instagram under the handle @Transition46. There the team also posted a video of Biden talking about the goals of his presidency on Sunday morning. In it, the 77-year-old announces that he will announce the names of his "transition advisors" this Monday. One of their priority tasks will be to draw up a plan to combat the Corona pandemic. According to Biden, this plan will be implemented from 20 January 2021.
On Sunday, Biden's deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, had already announced on the NBC program Meet the Press that the president-elect's corona virus task force would be led by former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and David Kessler, a former head of the Food and Drug Administration.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 9,808,411 cases of the novel coronavirus in the country on Sunday. This represents an increase of 93,811 cases from the previous count. The most recent increase in deaths was 1,072 to 236,547.
Where is the alternative to the two-party system?
Whether the new beginning will succeed under President Biden is currently being questioned by the Democratic Party and the US left. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez recently described her difficult relationship with her own party to The New York Times. Among other problems, Ocasio-Cortez said that "the lack of support" and the fact that "one's own party considers one to be the enemy" have been weighing on her.
Ocasio-Cortez had been elected to the House of Representatives four years ago as an outsider for the Democratic left wing and is a member of the "Squad", four Women of Colour who were able to win seats for the Democrats in 2016 and defend them last week.
U.S. Marxist and economist Richard Wolff expressed skepticism about whether the Democrats will succeed in achieving a genuine New Deal that will overcome the serious social problems of U.S. society. Among both Republicans and Democrats, the prosperity and income gap in the U.S. was likely to widen, Wolff said, recalling that counteracting reforms in the 1930s had only been enforced by the trade union movement, socialists and communists.
"Usually the GOP" - meaning the "Grand Old Party", i.e. the Republicans - "will continue to reduce the incomes of Americans further and faster than the Democrats, but both parties have tolerated and managed the redistribution of wealth and income upwards since 1945," Wolff said in a contribution to the US portals Economy for All and Counterpunch.
According to the left-wing economist, US politics still lacked real choices: "Both major parties are nothing more than cheerleaders for capitalism, even when a murderous pandemic coincides with a severe economic crisis.
A real political choice would require a party that criticizes capitalism and offers alternatives beyond the current social and economic system. "Numerous polls show that millions of U.S. citizens want to consider socialist criticism of capitalism and socialist alternatives to capitalism," Wolff recalled. The crowds of supporters of Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other socialists also proved this. (Harald Neuber)
How Henry Kissinger prepared the coup in Chile
by Harald Neuber
[This article published on Nov 14, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Wie-Henry-Kissinger-den-Putsch-in-Chile-vorbereitet-hat-4958988.html,]
A devastating duo for Chile: President Nixon and Security Advisor Kissinger, here in February 1971 (source, nixonlibrary.gov, in the public domain)
US documents prove that security advisors relied on force. State Department failed with counterproposal - the consequences were devastating
A few days after Salvador Allende took office in Chile on November 3, 1970, U.S. President Richard Nixon convened his National Security Council. The meeting was to discuss what policy the United States would pursue toward the new Chilean government and Allende's "people's unity. Few of the participants in the White House Cabinet Room knew at that time that the CIA, on Nixon's instructions, had previously attempted to instigate a military coup in Chile to prevent Allende's inauguration. The attempt had failed. Now it was time for Plan B.
Former U.S. government secret documents published by the National Security Archive at George Washington University show how the then U.S. government viewed Allende's democratic election and his program for substantial change as a threat.
At first, however, there were still different views on the reaction. "We can bring about his overthrow without this having a counterproductive effect," suggested Secretary of State William Rogers. At the same time, the then US chief diplomat spoke out against open attacks on the government in Chile. Apart from that, there was agreement that everything possible must be done to harm Allende and bring him down, according to Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird.
"Our main concern in Chile is the prospect that (Allende) can consolidate his power, and that this will be perceived internationally as a political success," said President Nixon. He instructed his top officials to plan and implement a covert program to destabilize the government in Chile. He said that one must proceed "coolly and correctly", "but do everything possible to send a real message to Allende and others.
Serious report in the New York Times
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Salvador Allende's assumption of office, the National Security Archive, an institution dedicated to researching the political history of the United States, recently published a collection of documents that detail how Nixon and his National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger pursued a policy of destabilization towards Chile.
The operations at the time were designed to create "the best possible conditions", as Kissinger later put it, for the military coup of September 11, 1973 that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power. The released U.S. government documents not only contained detailed descriptions of the deliberations and decisions in the White House. They also give an accurate picture of how leading U.S. politicians, especially Kissinger, later deliberately misrepresented the Nixon administration's attitude toward Allende.
"One of the greatest challenges we in the West have ever faced" - Kissinger's report to Nixon
Half a century after Allende's inauguration, according to Peter Kornbluh, chief analyst of the Archive of Chile, "these documents document the deliberate intent of U.S. officials to undermine Salvador Allende's ability to govern and 'bring him down'. The primary goal of the then U.S. government was to prevent Allende from realizing a successful and exemplary model for structural social change that other countries could have emulated.
When the CIA's covert operations to undermine Allende were placed on the front page of the New York Times by U.S. investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in September 1974, these revelations provoked a scandal that affected U.S. policy as well as Washington's international relations.
Senate report documents first CIA operation abroad
Criticism of the secret role of the United States in Chile led for the first time to more serious congressional investigations of CIA operations, public hearings and the case study "Covert Action in Chile, 1963-1973", which was written by a special committee of the Senate chaired by Senator Frank Church. "The nature and extent of the U.S. role in overthrowing a democratically elected Chilean government are matters of deep and continuing public concern," Church commented.
US President Gerald Ford, who took office the same year, reacted with an unusually open confirmation of the CIA operations-even though he simply lied about key events. "The efforts made in this case were to support the opposition newspapers and media as much as the opposition parties," he told the press. According to Ford, the intervention of the United States to preserve Chile's democratic institutions was "in the best interest of the Chilean people and certainly in our interest," while the Pinochet regime was celebrating the first anniversary of the military dictatorship, which was to last for another 16 years.
In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Henry Kissinger also argued that the United States was only interested in preserving democracy: "The intention of the United States was not to destabilize or undermine (Allende's power). Our concern was with the 1976 elections, not a 1973 coup that we knew nothing about and had nothing to do with.
"Kissinger also repeated this account in his memoirs "The White House Years".
The thesis that the United States was only concerned with the preservation of democracy in Chile sounds good, but it is refuted without exception by the internal documents of the White House that are now accessible. These records show that the U.S. State Department feared an international scandal should the U.S. efforts to overthrow Allende be exposed.
While the diplomats pleaded for prudent policies and were oriented toward influencing the 1976 elections, Kissinger emphatically rejected this option. He repeatedly and explicitly urged President Nixon to destabilize Allende's government.
Kissinger stood behind a strategy of destabilization
What's more, from the once secret government documents we learn today that Kissinger was the driving force behind Washington's aggressive Chile policy. When he realized that the CIA's coup plans would fail before November 3, Kissinger presented Nixon with his first arguments for a long-term, covert and aggressive approach.
"It has become clear that our ability to bring about Allende's overthrow quickly is severely limited," he wrote in an internal briefing on October 18, 1970:
"The question therefore arises as to whether we can take measures - exert pressure, exploit weaknesses, increase obstacles - that at least achieve his certain failure or force him to change his policies, and that in the best case can lead to a situation that will later make the collapse of his government or his overthrow more likely".
It was so important to Kissinger to push through an aggressive line that in early November 1970 he had a meeting of the National Security Council postponed for a day so that he could convince Nixon of his position in private in the Oval Office.
"Marxist, anti-American politics" in Chile: transcript of a telephone conversation between Kissinger and Nixon
"Henry Kissinger came in this morning to see if we could move the NSR meeting to Friday. He thinks this is very important because Chile is on the agenda. Henry said it was imperative that the president address the issue before the meeting," said a memo from Nixon's appointment chief to Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman. This also reveals a central motivation of Kissinger: "According to Henry, Chile could become the worst defeat in our government - 'our Cuba' - in 1972.
"For his private meeting with Nixon, Kissinger wrote a comprehensive memo in which he outlined "the serious threats to our interests and our position in the Western world. In it he explicitly opposed the approach of peaceful coexistence advocated by the State Department.
"The election of Allende as President of Chile represents one of the greatest challenges we in the West have ever faced," wrote Kissinger right at the beginning of the memo: "Your decision on what to do about it is perhaps the most historic and difficult foreign policy decision you will have to make this year, because what happens in Chile over the next six to twelve months will have repercussions that go far beyond U.S.-Chile relations.
In the end, Nixon prevailed. On September 11, 1973, General Augusto Pinochet coughed against Allende. His bloody dictatorship lasted 17 years. He Chilean state has recognized 3,065 dead, other sources speak of up to 40,000 dead. (Harald Neuber)