National Strike in Buenaventura
Submitted to Black Alliance for Peace
Monday 22nd May 2017
The city of Buenaventura on Colombia’s Pacific coast is home to the country’s main international port through which billions of dollars of imports and exports pass every year. Yet due to decades of abandonment form the government, the mainly Afrodescendant and indigenous community of Buenaventura does not have access to adequate health services, education or running water. Further, neoliberal development projects to expand the port threaten the very existence of communities as traditional fishing livelihoods are destroyed and whole communities violently displaced from their ancestral lands.
Since last Tuesday 16th May the community of Buenaventura (along with communities in the Chocó region of Colombia) has been on general strike demanding that the government fulfils basic human rights to water, education, health, culture, land and freedom from racism and violence. Businesses were closed, road blocks were set up at several points along the main road and peaceful protestors chanted, sang, danced and banged cooking pots to call attention to the desperate situation. On the first day along the Chamber of Commerce reported the strikes had caused up to 10,000 million pesos (about $3.5 million USD) in losses.
For three days there was a sense of joy and hope as the Civic Strike Committee entered into discussions with the government. But unfortunately due to lack of consensus the discussions were suspended and on Friday 19th the national government sent the ESMAD (riot squad) to repress the protestors and violently remove the road blocks. The crowds and communities were attacked with tear gas throughout the day and into the night of the 19th causing numerous injuries. Tragically in the community of Punta el Este, located at the end of Buenaventura’s main bridge to the port and city centre, Puente Piñal, a baby was suffocated from the gas causing outrage and indignation throughout the community. The ESMAD had one aim here, to open the road for the trucks to leave the port and allow the global capitalist machine to clunk back into action. Once again private business interests were prioritised over the lives of the black and indigenous community.
On Saturday the government installed a prohibition on public demonstrations and a curfew in response to looting of supermarkets by some people, although many have claimed these actions were instigated by outside forces. Nevertheless the peaceful protestors have remained firm in their objectives and calls for a satisfactory response to their demands. On the 20th March over 30,000 people put on white shirts and marched to the city centre to demonstrate that the strike would go on, and on the 21st, National day of Afro-Colombian Heritage, we estimate that up to 200,000 marched to the outskirts of the city. Up to 200 people have been detained by the authorities accused of participating in looting and rioting and while the freedom of some has now been secured many have ongoing legal processes.
Today as the Committee returns to discussions with the government the people of Buenaventura continue to strike and continue to march under the calls “el pueblo no se rinde carajo” (the people won’t give up…), and “pueblo unido, jamás será vencido” (a united people will never be defeated).
In solidarity with the struggling people of Black Colombia and in defence of fundamental human rights, the Black Alliance for Peace calls on the people in the United States to sign the petition below, but also to circulate information on this situation through your networks since it is being “whited out” by the corporate press. We are also asking that you send statements of solidarity to Charominarojas@gmail.com
Ultimatum to the National Government Regarding a Humanitarian Crisis and the Lack of Inclusion of Afrodescendents in the Peace Accords
Bogota, 19 May 2017
The National Afrocolombian Peace Council (CONPA) sends a greeting to the Colombian people, and in particular, a greeting of life, happiness, freedom to our sisters and brothers in resistance in the port city of Buenaventura and in the Choco region.
We thank the media present here for responding to our call, on the eve of the celebration of the Day of AfroColombianity, May 21.
The Black, Afrocolombian, Raizal and Palequero in Colombia are living through a historical and systematic situation of exclusion and racism, which, during these days, has developed into a humanitarian crisis and threatens our very existence. In April of this year, according to our communities, there have been new occurrences of mass displacement, as well as forced confinements, which affect thousands of our families; new assassinations, disappearances, kidnappings and denunciations related to the reappearance of armed groups in the lower San Juan, upper Baudo and Rio Sucio, Carmen del Darien in the department of Choco, in Southern Bolivar, in rural and urban zones of Tumaco and in Northern Cauca, areas where this is a concentration of the FARC.
In the territories, we continue to find mutilated and tortured bodies, we continue to live through combat and armed harassment, threats, arbitrary detention, we suffer attacks and killings of community leaders, forced urban recruitment and recently we have been receiving threats against our sons and daughters, with the message that if they are found outside of the house after 6 in the evening, they will be raped and killed.
In face of this situation of secular neglect and incompliance of State obligations, lack of recognition for, as well as protection and advancement of our rights, and in the face of economic policies and megaprojects that are being imposed in our territories which continue being factors of plundering and impoverishment of our people, the civic strikes have been organized in the department of Choco and in the port of Buenaventura. These will continue into other areas in order to continue to call for the attention of the State.
The celebration of the Day of Afrocolombianity reminds us of the actions taken for enforcement of our rights, initiated by our ancestors, and which we continue to advance with strong will for the construction of peace.
Mister President Juan Manuel Santos, and representatives of Congress, as a way of advancing our rights, CONPA proposes:
- To work with a Normative Framework that covers all issues and topics necessary for the implementation of the 29 agreements contained in the Ethnic Chapter, together with the peoples represented through the High Level Body created by the Ethnic Chapter of the Peace Accords
- A guarantee for the establishment of a special fund for the implementation of the accords in Black territories and communities
- A guarantee that the fundamental right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent will not be regulated via the fasttrack process.
- Implementation of a route for participation, as agreed upon with the government within framework of the National, Campesina, Ethnic and Popular Minga and the strike in Choco, and which guarantees compliance with the agreements that are reached with the government with the Civic Strike of Buenaventura also related to the expedition, this coming 27 of August of 2017, the regulated decrees for Law 70 of 1993.
- Formulation, in collaboration with the people, their authorities and organizations, of a specific and differentiated policy for the eradication and substitution of illicit crops that covers collective and ancestral territories of Ethnic Peoples.
- Inclusion of San Basilio de Palenque in the Territory Focussed Development Plans (PDETs)
- A guarantee of the conditions for the updating of the Integral and Long Term Development Plan
for Black, Afrocolombian, Raizal and Palequero people, in a participatory way, and based on consultation, and that this is converted into the Plan for the Afrodescendent Decade, guaranteeing the resources assigned yet not implemented in the 2014-2017 plan are reintegrated and added to this current Plan.
- A guarantee that in the High Level Body for Gender of the Peace Process, there is full participation of Indigenous and Afrodesdendent women, to guarantee a ethnic-racial gender perspective
- That necessary measures are taken to ensure that the established institutional mechanisms, or those yet to be established, for the implementation of the peace accords, are based on consultation, guaranteeing the participation of ethnoterritorial Indigenous and Afrodescendent authorities, towards the compliance of its functions and protocols.
We would like to take this opportunity to make public the invitation, this 25 of May, Day for the Dignity of Victims of Sexual Violence, to participate in a symbolic act, where Afrodescendent women will make public 1000 cases of sexual violence against Afrodescendent women in the framework of the armed internal conflict, and to recognize the T-622 Court Decision of November 10, 2016, that recognizes the Atrato River as a subject of rights.
As Afrodescendent people, we are living a humanitarian crisis that threatens our very existence as peoples. The Civic Strikes in Choco and Buenaventura, and those that are to come, are a response to State neglect. If, within 30 days, there are no significant advances, we will seek out the international community and agencies that are following what is happening regarding peace in this country, peace which has become a reference point for the world.
Afrocolombian National Peace Council - CONPA
Press conference – video (in Spanish) https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=6WJP3e3_pUA& feature=youtu.be
Statement on Venezuela
by the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) & the Black Alliance for Peace
The United States has been conducting a brutal, 20-year-long campaign of destabilization against Venezuela in an attempt to cause “regime change” in that country. This has taken the form of economic sabotage and financial manipulation as well as support for the mobilization of right-wing forces in increasingly violent demonstrations.
This is not a recent policy but one that has also been carried out under the Obama and Bush administrations as well as the present Trump administration. In 2002, right-wing forces inside Venezuela attempted a coup against then-President Hugo Chavez. Many sources have confirmed that the U.S. gave the go-ahead to the opposition to orchestrate the coup and promised support. Soon after the coup, the people of Venezuela turned out in the streets in massive numbers and restored Chavez to the presidency.
Barack Obama continued the assault on the Venezuelan revolution by imposing crippling sanctions and asserting that Venezuela was a “security threat” to the United States. These attacks from the U.S. exemplify attempts to realize full-spectrum dominance, the epitome of imperialist intervention which has brought so much suffering to the world.
Some of the very same opposition leaders who were involved in the 2002 coup attempt are today behind the present unrest, which has seen well-financed opposition forces leading violent protests against the government of Nicolas Maduro. The U.S. corporate media has reported on these actions but has blamed the violence on the Venezuelan government and has not reported the huge mobilizations in defense of the Maduro government.
Now a bipartisan bill has been submitted in the Senate (S.1018) with the intention of further destabilizing Venezuela. For more information on this bill and some actions you can take to oppose it, please go to http://afgj.org/take-action-today-to-support-venezuelas-democracy.
The economic crises in Venezuela is severe. The Venezuelan economy is dependent on its large oil resources. The oil has been nationalized since 1976, but there has been a continual push from U.S. interests as well as wealthy Venezuelans to privatize it. Though the oil remains nationalized, the refining, transportation, and markets are all private and have been used to undercut the ability of the oil industry to support the economy. Additionally, in the past few years, with the encouragement of Wall Street, oil production around the world has been kept high, driving down the price, which hurts oil-dependent economies, including those of countries that the U.S. opposes, such as Russia and Iran, in addition to Venezuela.
The U.S. media also has been full of stories of Venezuelan supermarkets with near-empty shelves and long lines of people seeking basic necessities. What hasn’t been reported is that the privately owned food corporations are deliberately hoarding supplies intended for working-class neighborhoods while making sure that food and other goods are readily available in the wealthier areas.
The Bolivarian Revolution has always endeavored to be an ally of the people of United States and to extend a hand of friendship and solidarity. When the U.S. government turned its back on the people of the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Venezuelan government offered humanitarian aid but was rebuffed. Venezuela provided fuel assistance to low-income Black and Brown people when the U.S. government would not.
These acts reinforced the strong support that many in the Black community had for the process in Venezuela and deepened the commitment of Black activists to stand in solidarity with the people of Venezuela and their process. This support is in line with the long-standing Black radical tradition of defending nations under imperialist attack by the U.S. government.
The defeat of the Bolivarian Revolution at the hands of U.S. imperialism and its reactionary right-wing allies in Venezuela would be a defeat for progressive forces all over the world and a disaster for the people of Venezuela and its people, as it has been in Libya and Ukraine and Haiti and every nation that has lost its sovereignty to the two-party commitment to imperialist intervention.
UNAC and the Black Alliance for Peace demand:
End US interference in the affairs of Venezuela!
Self-determination for the Venezuelan people!
End the sanctions and economic warfare now!
New statement by the Palestinian Prisoners Movement: We call for urgent action to confront the plans for the prisoners’ execution
The Palestinian prisoners’ movement engaged in the Strike of Freedom and Dignity within Israeli prisons issued a new statement on 6 May, the 20th day of open hunger strike.
The strike was launched on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, by 1500 Palestinian prisoners and has been joined by a series of prominent leaders of the prisoners’ movement and the Palestinian national movement. Marwan Barghouthi, member of the Fateh central committee, launched the strike; leaders from all Palestinian political movements, including Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat, PFLP leader Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Islamic Jihad leader Zaid Bseiso, Hamas leaders Hasan Salameh and Abbas al-Sayyed, DFLP leader Wajdi Jawdat, People’s Party leader Bassam Kandakji and many others, including the longest-held Palestinian prisoners Nael Barghouthi and Karim Younes.
The strikers have a series of demands, including an end to the denial of family visits, the right to appropriate health care, the right to education in prison and an end to solitary confinement and “administrative detention,” imprisonment without charge or trial.
The following statement was released today in Arabic by the Palestiian Prisoners’ Movement on behalf of the strikers and is translated into English below. We urge its widest distribution and the implementation of its calls to action, including the escalation of our international organizing and solidarity to build support around the world for the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike and their just demands for dignity and freedom. (Click here for translation in Italian)
In the name of God, the most merciful
“Those to whom hypocrites said, ‘Indeed, the people have gathered against you, so fear them.’ But it merely increased them in faith, and they said, ‘God alone is sufficient for us and he is the best disposer of affairs.’” – the Holy Qur’an
Statement issued by the Palestinian Prisoners’ National Movement
Follow-Up Committee for the Hunger Strike
As the Dignity Strike of the prisoners’ movement enters its 20th day, it is the beginning of a stage of extreme danger to the lives of the prisoners on hunger strike. This day also marks a specific point in the context of the targeting of the strike by the fascist occupation government, which announced yesterday, led by Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan, that work is being done to recruit doctors from another country to carry out the crime of feeding the prisoners forcibly and that this heinous crime will take place in the Ramle prison clinic, which we have always experienced as a place of isolation and torture. We are also threatened with repression and murder by the al-Matsada repressive units, and informed of their permanent readiness for possible developments and confrontations inside prison.
This trend carries with it preparation for a targeted crime against the prisoners with the intention of murder. It is clear that we are in the next stage now, that of repression, abuse, and attempts to break the strike through threatening the lives of the prisoners. The ongoing preparations indicate that there is a decision taken against the prisoners to their deaths at the hands of a gang of fascists in Tel Aviv. This is what makes this confrontation an extraordinary moment. Dealing with it requires vision, programs and activities that rise to the level required. We emphasize that the government of the fascist murderers and security forces did not yet understand well our decision for 50 leading prisoners to join the strike, and that if this message has not yet reached the Zionist gangs, they will be well aware of it in the coming days.
In this context, we emphasize that any attemptto implement the crime of forced feeding against any prisoner on hunger strike will mean for us a project of the execution of the prisoners. We will deal with it on that basis and we will turn the prisons into sites of confrontation with our bare bodies, armed with oru faith, our will, our determination and our confidence in our people, the Arab and Islamic nation and the forces of freedom and justice in the world to stand by our side. This is a battle of freedom in confrontation of injustice, persecution and oppression, a battle to preserve and fight for human values and concepts in the face of the barbarity and racism represented by the occupation and its agents.
We are aware of the seriousness of the current situation prepared by the fascists in the Tel Aviv government. In this context, we call for:
1) After 20 days of strike and the entry of the prisoners into a dangerous and fateful phase, we call today for a week of outrage shared by all sectors of the Palestinian people in the homeland and in exile, a weel in which our people direct their lava, their volcanoes of anger to the sites of confrontation with the occupation. This also means the continuation of marches, protests and sit-ins, and marches to sit-in tents with the prisoners in Palestinian towns and villages, and besieging the embassies of the occupation throughout the world.
2) We demand the Palestinian Authority immediately end security coordination with the occupation. These are days of national confrontation and action.
3) We call for the launch of a wider international campaign by unions of Palestinian and Arab doctors, warning of the dangers of doctors agreeing to participate in the crime of forcibly feeding the prisoners.
4) We urge action to pursue and prosecute the criminals of the occupation prison administration and intelligence agencies, and the Minister of Internal Security, the terrorist Gilad Erdan, for judicial action everywhere in the world, with the announcement of a list of names, officials and ministers of the enemy to prosecute them as war criminals.
5) We call for the formation of a leading Palestinian national framework with the membership and participation of all of the national and Islamic forces and national Palestinian figures to lead and follow up the actions of struggle for the Palestinian prisoners on the Palestinian, Arab and international level. We emphasize the need for the follow-up committee in occupied Palestine to lead in forming this framework. The Palestinian people everywhere they are have a critical role to play in promoting the struggle of the prisoners. This confrontation deserves to be represented and supported by a national and unified framework.
6) We turn to the Palestinian young men and women, students, workers, the forces of revolutionary initiative who hold the title to the future, and we urge them to participate creatively in struggle and to play the role required of them. You have never disappointed the prisoners for one day, and you will continue to confront and struggle, and we rely on you always.
In conclusion, the coming days will carry new developments from us and as we confront the policy of occupation, we will confront this policy of execution approved by the occupation government against us, the prisoners of the armed resistance and the daily popular struggle.
“And those who do wrong will come to know by what overturning they will be overturned.”
Glory to the martyrs and the revolution continues. We march in the footsteps of victory!
Your brothers, comrades and mujahideen
Palestinian Prisoners’ National Movement
6 May 2017
20th Day of the Strike of Freedom and Dignity
JUSTICE FOR HAITIAN ACTIVIST ROMARIO DANGELO SAINT JEAN!
APPEAL TO TRADE UNIONS, POPULAR ORGANIZATIONS, & POLITICAL PARTIES COMMITTED TO DEMOCRACY AND THE DEFENSE OF HUMAN RIGHTS
This is the official International Solidarity Appeal to demand justice for the assassination of Comrade Azaka, Romario Dangelo Saint John, murdered by a death squad April 18th.
Trade unions, peoples organizations, and political parties who support democracy and universal human rights are urged to sign on to this statement, adopt their own resolutions in defense of MOLEGHAF and its targeted activists, and write letters to the officials listed at the end of the appeal.
On Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 9 PM, while going out to buy groceries for his 22-year-old fiancée who was caring their 6-month-old baby daughter at home, Romario Dangelo Saint Jean, a 26-year-old militant of the Freedom & Equality Movement of Haitians for Brotherhood (Mouvement de Liberté et d’Egalité des Haïtiens pour la Fraternité, or MOLEGHAF), was the victim of a cowardly murder on rue Icard, Port-au-Prince.
Dangelo had been threatened with death and attacked on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 by police officers consisting of the hirelings of the UN Office of Project Services (UNOPS) in Fort National. Right away, his mother had accompanied him to the Port-au-Prince public prosecutor's office to bring a complaint against these officers denounced by the popular hue and cry as being the murderers of Davidtchen Siméon in August 13, 2016 and abusers of David Oxygène in August 21, 2016. Given the silence of the police and judicial authorities, Romario Dangelo Saint Jean’s parents were planning to send him to a foreign country to save his life, but the delay of the country’s public institutions in the delivery of papers gave way to the assassins of the National Police of Haiti (PNH) and to criminal impunity.
This heinous murder happens just 8 months after these two criminal offences that we wish to remind to the national and international public opinion:
On Saturday, August 13, at 3: 30 PM, in the popular district of Fort National, as a MOLEGHAF meeting concluded, a group of armed men assassinated Davidtchen Simeon, a 23-year-old MOLEGHAF activist, very involved in the fight against the UN occupation forces (MINUSTAH). And before this heinous murder, Wednesday 10 and Thursday, August 11, 2016, Davidtchen had already been violently assaulted and threatened by the police officer Jean Maxime.
On Sunday, August 21, 2016, 9 days after the assassination of Davidtchen Simeon, at 6:30 PM, on this same street, rue Icard, near St-Antoine Church, after having been assaulted violently, David Oxygène, MOLEGHAF Secretary-General and an emblematic figure of the Haitian resistance against the UN occupation forces and the dominance of transnational capital, was just missed by shots fired by police officer Jean Maxime.
It is important to emphasize that these acts of serial murder and attacks against MOLEGHAF militants are committed with impunity and with the complicity of the judicial and police authorities. For MOLEGHAF has invoked all the legal procedures, accompanied by lawyers of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) at the national level and those of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) according to the Haitian laws and international covenants and conventions signed and ratified by the Haitian State, but the police and judicial authorities are turning a deaf ear.
These acts of barbarism originated from a critical position taken by MOLEGHAF militants with regard to a construction project, including buildings and a road, that UNOPS wanted to put in their neighborhood without public consultation, accompanied by a miserable salary for construction workers. In fact, as everyone knows, in occupied Haiti, “projects” implementation in the popular districts is often conducted only through the use of henchmen who intimidate the population into compliance.
MOLEGHAF, the Organization to which Davidtchen Siméon, Romario Dangelo Saint Jean and David Oxygène all belong, is known in Haiti for its tenacious fight in defense of national sovereignty and for the withdrawal of the MINUSTAH from Haiti—without which, MOLEGHAF considers that the preconditions for the exercise of democracy do not exist.
But, regardless of the diversity of political views that can be held on such subjects, the assassination of Davidtchen Siméon, the assassination of Romario Dangelo Saint Jean and the assassination attempt on David Oxygène must be condemned with the utmost firmness by all who defend democracy and the most basic human rights.
In this way, we, the presidium of the studies workshop on the situation of freedom of expression and association in the context of the UN occupation in Haiti, gathered in Port -au-Prince this Saturday, April 22, 2017, in the premises of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), located in #3, 2ème impasse Lavaud, Lalue, are appealing to the solidarity of national and international trade unions in order to demand of the competent authorities—particularly the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Office of the Citizens’ Protector (OPC) and the Inspector General of the Haitian National Police (PNH)—that all the backers and implementers of the identification and conviction of Davidtchen Siméon’s murder, the assassination of Romario John Dangelo be identified, tried and convicted, and that disciplinary measures be taken against the policeman Jean Maxime for his assassination attempt on the person of David Oxygène.
Down with the occupation! Down with barbarism! United Nations out!
In defense of democracy against barbarism: punishment to those responsible for the serial assassinations of our comrades Davidtchen Simeon, Romario Dangelo Saint Jean and to the police officer Jean Maxime for his assassination attempt on David Oxygène!
Send your messages to:
By letter (these offices have no email addresses to receive messages):
Ministère de la Justice et de la Sécurité Publique (Ministry of Justice and Public Safety (MJSP) : Av. Charles-Summer 18, Port au Prince - post code: HT6113
Inspection Générale de la Police Nationale d’Haïti (General Inspectorate of the National Police of Haïti (PNH): 07 Autoroute de Delmas (zone Delmas 2, Haïti) - Postal Code: HT6120
Office Protecteur Citoyen (OPC) Protectorate Citizen Agency : Av. John Brown, Lalue (Port au Prince) – tel : (+ 509) 2940 3065 / 3702 0656 e-mail: OPC@protectioncitoyenhaiti.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org;
Send copies to: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
Oppose the war on North Korea, Reject Trump Budget proposal to increase military spending
While the Congress debates an appropriation bill this week to keep the government funded for the rest of the year, the Trump Administration called all 100 U.S. Senators to a meeting to discuss the administrations’ plans on North Korea.
The opportunism of this public relations stunt could not be more obvious. An important element of any Continuous Resolution to keep the government funded and eventual budget agreement will have to address at some point the obscene demand from the Trump administration to increase the Pentagon’s budget by $54 billion dollars. While the corporate media and democrats have focused on issue of funding for the border wall, the issue of increase military spending is the proverbial elephant in the room.
To fund the U.S. war machine, Trump’s proposals call for cutbacks in programs that fund education, provides meals to seniors, support for housing, after-school tutoring programs, heating assistance, food for poor children, just to name a few of the draconian cuts that will occur.
The issue of North Korea and reckless machoism plays so well with the chicken-hawks in Congress and the media. This is meant to pre-empt opposition to the outrageous assault on the agencies and programs still in place that provide a modicum of relief from the inherently brutal consequences of an economy unable to provide a decent, dignified life for millions. The illegal attack on Syria, escalating tensions with Russia, bellicose statements on China and continued provocations with North Korea are all meant to keep the U.S. public on a war footing and justify the ongoing theft of public funds to the turn of over $600 billion dollars that goes straight into the pockets of the 1%.
Those of us in the Black Alliance for Peace will not allow ourselves to be manipulated. We demand an end to the lawlessness of the U.S. state and the criminal waste of the people’s resources.
International law is supposed to govern the conduct of states and funnel any threats to international peace into the mechanisms that have been set-up to prevent and resolve grave threats to peace and human rights. Yet the U.S. continues to act outside of international law with its arbitrary and unilateral actions. For good reason, the U.S. is now seen by many in the world as the greatest threat to world peace and international law.
As a result of its criminal actions, millions have been murdered, states destroyed and countless people displaced.
The first to fight and die are the poor and working people of this country and the nations that are attacked by the U.S.
We call on members of the Congressional Black Caucus, specifically, and all members of congress to reject the Trump proposal to increase military spending.
End the madness. Stop the U.S. war machine and take back our resources and use them for the people.