Saturday, September 16, 2006

Imperialism 101 - The US Addiction to War, Mayhem and Madness

by Stephen Lendman

Part I

The US-led aggression in the Middle East and the three failed attempts to oust Venezuela's Hugo Chavez since 2002 (with a fourth now planned and likely to be implemented soon) are just the latest examples of this country's imperial agenda and the "new world order" it has in mind. The way this country now engages throughout the world isn't much different than what it's done close to home and worldwide since inception. Only the venues chosen, the scope of our aims, and the extent of our power have changed. This article in two parts gives some historical perspective and then concentrates on the imperial grand strategy of the Bush administration under which regime change is a central element.

In Part II, the focus is on the war in Iraq as a case study of imperial madness and its consequences. It also covers a possible little discussed economic motive behind what's now being called "the long war."

Maybe it's something in the air or water around the Capitol that makes it happen - causing the men and women elected or appointed to high office to do bad things. It may in part be going along to get along for some of them. But mostly it's the dangerous and deadly sickness or syndrome of power corrupting and absolute power doing it absolutely. That's bad enough, but when it happens to rulers of a superpower and those in league with them, it can inflict immeasurable harm and human suffering. In cost/benefit analysis terms: what serves the interests of a superstate comes at the expense of the public welfare.

The US Has Always Been A Warrior, Imperial Nation (Read the full post)

Neocon Iran Nuke Lies “Outrageous” and “Dishonest”

Once again, the Bush neocons have distorted International Atomic Energy Agency findings, as is their habit.

“U.N. inspectors have protested to the U.S. government and a Congressional committee about a report on Iran’s nuclear work, calling parts of it ‘outrageous and dishonest,’ according to a letter obtained by Reuters,” a characterization in keeping with the Straussian neocon philosophy of lies and dissimulation.

Director General Mohammed ElBaradei and the IAEA “said the report falsely described Iran to have enriched uranium at its pilot centrifuge plant to weapons-grade level in April, whereas IAEA inspectors had made clear Iran had enriched only to a low level usable for nuclear power reactor fuel.”

Read the full post


Hugo Chávez Frías addressed the plenary session on behalf of the Latin America and Caribbean Group, from where he sent greetings with to Fidel with a Latin American, Martí and Bolívar heart and for whom he requested a round of applause as evidence of the fraternal appreciation of everyone.

He called to the attention of those present that the 14th Summit was taking place in revolutionary Cuba and under the leadership of Fidel, “an example of dignity and resistance against imperialism” while equally acknowledging the leadership and history of Raúl Castro, acting president of the Movement and first vice president of the Cuban Councils of State and Ministers. Chávez also expressed his gratitude and congratulations for the welcoming and warm hospitality of the Cuban people and government, and his conviction that Cuba would be successful in the difficult task of heading the NAM presidency. After congratulating Malaysia and its Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on the success of its mandate at the head of the political grouping in the last three years, he emphasized that Venezuela is at Cuba ’s orders in terms of support for this new presidency.

Evoking the terrible world situation, he greeted the brothers and sisters of Asia, Africa and Europe . “You who are visiting this ‘Our Caribbean,’ this Latin America , like your nations colonized, overwhelmed and massacred over centuries.

“In Our America,” he explained, “the independence processes began centuries ago, and we must always recall – in order not to lose our roots – those first indigenous rebellions and, precisely, one of their representatives, Evo Morales is here as a president, because he has resuscitated the indigenous people.” Chávez emphasized: “In the name of civilization and discovery the colonizers committed genocide against our peoples, masking it with that thesis of civilization.
“Tupac Katari, one of the massacred indigenous peoples, stated then: ‘I will die today, but I will come back made into millions. I will die today, but some day I will come back made into millions,’ and that is what is happening today in Latin America .”

Chavez affirmed that we are right at the bicentenary of our independence when that occurred; the independent republics were born in Our America, bound together then with blood and even with the love of their original peoples for mother Africa, for Europe, but when that occurred in 1810,1811, 1825, there was no kind of relationship with Asia or Africa. The years went by, he recalled, and the 20th century arrived and the phenomenon was inverted; Africa rose up, Asia rose up and from that independence movement emerged leaders like Nasser, Sukarno, Tito, like those of ours at the time, and later founded the Non-Aligned Movement. Fidel was already here and saw this movement born.

The Bolivarian leader noted that Latin America was almost entirely under the imperialist yoke and the Cuban government was the only one able to survive and project itself toward this future of today in the 21st century. He went on to ask what would have become of our region if the U.S. government had not severed the liberation movement, nationalist and revolutionary governments in Guatemala , the Dominican Republic , Brazil and Chile .

“That is our reality,” he said, “Raúl and Fidel have already exposed it and I am exposing it, the U.S. government is still making plans against the governments of Cuba , Venezuela and others.”
Lamentably, he added, with the exception of Cuba , Latin America was unable to accompany the emergence of the NAM . “Today, 200 years after our independence, 50 after Bandung , the Movement is in a new stage and, for that reason, we are here with so much passion at his meeting.”

Finally, he called for “the construction of new world among all of us”, which is really possible.
“Let us join forces to push the sun in this new dawn… because I believe that it is possible for us now to create a world where no one country rules, nor one world gendarme, nor war nor cannons nor bayonets, but in which a world of love, peace and solidarity reigns.”

“Either we succeed in turning the world around and humanizing it, or humanity will be in danger.”

“In this Summit that begins under the presidency of Cuba, rebellious as always, dignified as always, who represents all of us under the leadership of Fidel Castro, we can attain this because, as the poet Mario Benedetti said: ‘With its hard hope, the South also exists.”

Call to Correspondents: The Other Journalism Heads Toward the Border of Mexico

Readers and Colleagues on Both Sides Can Help Turn a Logistical Nightmare into an International Dream

By Al Giordano
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign in Mexico
September 15, 2006

This week’s long-awaited communiqué from the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials) arrived as the US House of Representatives approved a $7 billion dollar, 700-mile, wall to be erected along the US-Mexico border. (That’s ten million dollars per mile, or a little over $1,700 dollars per foot.) But in October and November, hearts and minds from both sides will nonetheless leap the walls, and on a far smaller budget.

That’s when the Zapatista Other Campaign and its spokesman, Subcomandante Marcos, will conduct historic meetings between adherents in Mexico with Mexicans and Mexican-Americans from “the other side” in Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez. Narco News and the Road Team of the Other Journalism with the Other Campaign will be there, reporting the news.

In fact, we’re already there. The First Across-Borders Encounter begins Saturday, weeks before the arrival of Delegate Zero and the Other Campaign Caravan. Stay tuned for reports from that gathering on these pages.

This, as your journalists continue reporting from Oaxaca’s Popular Assembly, from Mexico City, from Atenco, from Chiapas and other regions where the thirst for authentic democracy, freedom and justice grows to topple so many other walls imposed from above. In a couple of weeks, your Road Team will be back on the move, accompanying Zapatista comandantes from the jungles and highlands of Chiapas to the nation’s capital, and then heading northbound as Subcomandante Marcos continues the marathon listening tour. As we have been all year, we shall be again, reporting the word of “the simple and humble people who fight.”

This “Call to Correspondents” is an invitation to our colleagues (writers, photographers, filmmakers, translators, radio reporters, drivers…) and to our general readership to participate in the bi-national history underway. It’s not a fund appeal (there will be more coming soon, no doubt, to put the gas in the tank) but, rather, today we’re passing the list to see who is ready and able to help report and make that reporting happen on the ground along the border.

The coming visit to the border states is a logistical nightmare and a dream come true all at once. The tentative itinerary is daunting, to say the least. It begins on October 9, according to this week’s communiqué:

Starting in Sinaloa (Escuinapa, Mazatlán, Culiacán and Los Mochis); then taking the sea ferry to Baja California Sur (La Paz and, perhaps, Los Cabos);
Obviously, Narco News has to go to Sinaloa, the Pacific Ocean state where, during World War II, the US government ran a program to grow poppy crops to supply morphine and other medicines for its wounded soldiers, and later tried, without much success, to shut down its own program, leading to that state’s role as the cradle of modern-day narco-trafficking and all the injustices wrought by the resulting “war on drugs.” To take notes on what the people tell the Zapatista Sixth Commission, your reporters will have to traverse much of the state’s 58,238 square kilometers. So the first logistical, um, challenge is to secure a vehicle or two to be able to do that. Then to get on the ten-hour ferry boat ride to the peninsula of Baja California Sur to report from the meetings up and down that even longer stretch of land. We know we have readers in many of the stops along the way, and if you can furnish lodging, a meal, and/or transportation for any part of this long trek, please don’t be shy. Write us at

But that’s just the beginning…

then along the highway to Baja California Norte (Ensenada, Tijuana, Mexicali, meeting with the Other Campaign on the Other Side and visiting at some point the members of the northeast section of the CNI – National Indigenous Congress: the Kumiai, Cucapá, Triqui and Mixtec peoples);
We can’t miss that meeting in Tijuana with those from the Other Side, can we? Really, can we miss any of these meetings and visits? Especially since so many of you will be there… we may even open up another Narco News “Consulta” during those meetings to hear from you, in person, about how to better do this work. And then you might want to keep going with the caravan…

from there to Sonora (Santa Ana, Hermosillo, Guaymas-Empalme, Ciudad Obregón and, along the way, meeting with the Pápag, Seri, Mayo, Yaqui y Pima peoples, also of the CNI-Northeast); then we will go by train from Los Mochis the Sierra Tarahumara mountains, in Chihuahua, to meet with the Raramuri members of the CNI;
Here, the logistics get even more complicated. While some reporters hop on the train, others of us will have to drive the vehicles a looooong distance to continue the tour when, later, the rubber hits the road again. (Or, perhaps in memory of Pancho Villa, some horses to ride alongside it? Or at least to photograph those who do?) Or maybe we’ll end up returning a rental car or cars in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, and picking up other(s) on the other end of the railroad tracks…

then we will continue by train to Chihuahua, and by road to Ciudad Juárez and Parral; then to the Lagunera area in Coahuila and Durango; then to several points in the state of Zacatecas; from there to San Luis Potosí’s capital and highland region; then to Monterrey and Linares in Nuevo León; after that, Saltillo, Monclova and Pasta de Conchos in Coahuila; then Matamoros, Ciudad Victoria in southeast Tamaulipas; and from there we travel to the Huasteca area of San Luis Potosí to conclude the national tour and return to Mexico City (tentatively in the last days of November).
According to the original plan, there will likely be another big meeting with those from “the Other Side” in Ciudad Juárez (the place where the events in Bill Conroy’s “House of Death” series took place), across from El Paso, Texas.

It’s such a terribly and wonderfully long journey ahead, and so little time to make it happen. If you – kind reader, kind colleague – plan on being there for any or all of it, please let us know how to best collaborate in breaking the information blockade and toppling the media wall between nations, languages and peoples.

One surprise is certain: In spite of the mass media drumbeat that claims that Northern Mexico and its border states are “conservative” and content under capitalism, “the Other Northern Mexico” will come into view. After all, it was the region heaviest hit by the massive electoral fraud of July that continues to shake the land and consciences. It’s just that the “story of pain” there has been silenced more brutally. In the coming weeks, we’ll do our best to make it heard anew.

Or, as Delegate Zero announced last March in Querétaro, the Zapatista Other Campaign is going to “jump over to the United States,” where, if anyone believes the hype that nothing can be made to happen, think again. The cavalry is coming! By highway, by boat, by train, by horseback, and by the efforts of the Authentic Journalism renaissance to assure that its banners are seen and the thunder of its gallop is heard across the borders and the $1,700-per-foot walls. See you soon.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Why I hate America by MickeyZ

"Why do you hate America?" This is a remarkably easy question to provoke. One might, for instance, expose elements of this nation's brutal foreign policy. Ask a single probing question about, say, U.S. complicity in the overthrow of governments in Guatemala, Iran, or Chile and thin-skinned patriots (sic) will come out of the woodwork to defend their country's honor by accusing you of being "anti-American." Of course, this allegation might lead me to ponder how totalitarian a culture this must be to even entertain such a concept, but I'd rather employ the vaunted Arundhati defense. The incomparable Ms. Roy says:
"What does the term 'anti-American' mean? Does it mean you are anti-jazz or that you're opposed to freedom of speech? That you don't delight in Toni Morrison or John Updike? That you have a quarrel with giant sequoias?" (I'm a tree hugger remember? I don't argue with sequoias.)

When pressed, I sometimes reply:
"I don't hate America. In fact, think it's one of the best countries anyone ever stole."
But, after the laughter dies down, I have a confession to make: If by "America" they mean the elected/appointed officials and the corporations that own them, well, I guess I do hate that America-with justification.

Among many reasons, I hate America for the near-extermination and subsequent oppression of its indigenous population. I hate it for its role in the African slave trade and for dropping atomic bombs of civilians. I hate its control of institutions like the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization. I hate it for propping up brutal dictators like Suharto, Pinochet, Duvalier, Hussein, Marcos, and the Shah of Iran. I hate America for its unconditional support for Israel. I hate its bogus two-party system, its one-size-fits-all culture, and its income gap. I could go on for pages but I'll sum up with this: I hate America for being a hypocritical white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

After a paragraph like that, you know what comes next: If you hate America so much, why don't you leave? Leave America? That would potentially put me on the other end of U.S. foreign policy. No thanks.

I like how Paul Robeson answered that question before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1956:
"My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I'm going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you. And no fascist-minded people like you will drive me from it.
Is that clear?"

Since none of my people died to build anything, I rely instead on William Blum, who declares, "I'm committed to fighting U.S. foreign policy, the greatest threat to peace and happiness in the world, and being in the United States I the best place for carrying out the battle. This is the belly of the beast, and I try to be an ulcer inside of it."

Needless to say, none of the above does a damn thing to placate the yellow ribbon crowd. It seems what offends flag-wavers most is when someone like me makes use of the freedom they claim to adore. According to their twisted logic, I am ungrateful for my liberty if I have the audacity to exercise it. If I make the choice to not salute the flag during the seventh inning stretch at Yankee Stadium, somehow I'm not worthy of having the freedom to make the choice to not salute the flag during the seventh inning stretch at Yankee Stadium. These so-called patriots not only claim to celebrate freedom while refusing my right to exploit it, they also ignore the social movements that fought for and won such freedoms.

There's plenty of tolerated public outcry against the Bush administration and the occupation of Iraq, but it's neither fashionable nor acceptable to go as far as saying, no, I do not support the troops and yes, I hate what America does. Fear of recrimination allows the status quo to control the terms of debate. Until we voice what is in our hearts and have the nerve to admit what we hate...we will never create something that can be loved.

Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at

Judicial Colonialism-The Assassination of Rafik Hariri: A Biased Investigation by Silvia Cattori*

A former criminal investigator of the GDR, who became a journalist after the reunification of Germany, Jürgen Cain Külbel is the author of a counter-investigation on the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, who the Voltaire Network presented to the Arab public during a widely covered conference in Damascus, May 7, 2006. In this interview, he discusses the political role of the UN Commission and the unexploited leads pointing to Israeli responsibility.

15 September 2006

Berlin (Germany)

Silvia Cattori: As an independent journalist working alone, it was quite an undertaking to investigate the assassination of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri while there was an investigation commission which was given enormous investigative means?!

Jürgen Cain Külbel: What use are a set of highly qualified investigators, almost inexhaustible logistical, forensic and other means supporting the examination, if in the examination of the crime, all the usual principles of an investigation are deliberately broken? During the investigation of a criminal offense by unknown parties, the investigators usually follow various scenarios in order to find the leads that will enable them to uncover the perpetrators. In the Hariri case, there should have been multiple parallel directions of investigation, from the start: Mossad, CIA, business partners [of Rafik Hariri] and exiled Lebanese. That never happened. So I was following and pursuing one of those “neglected”, and in my opinion important, paths in particular and did some investigation. That’s how my first work about the Hariri murder began.

Silvia Cattori: How did you come to the decision to tackle such a big subject?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Let me be frank: Right after the murder I had a bad gut feeling that it was less an investigative setback than that the UN investigators were — and continue to — vehemently follow only the Syrian lead, but above all I had the feeling that it was a premeditated and criminal act, just like the intentional and criminal and, as of today, unpunished act of faking and fabricating “proof” by the Americans and their lackeys – white collar criminals on the highest political level - that legitimized the international attack on Iraq - contrary to international law - in the spring of 2003. In both cases it is my opinion that they were initial deceptions by perpetrators who, although they pretend to represent the United Nations and to be modern harbingers of democracy, while, however, in truth, they only want to be would-be enslavers of our globe or are working towards this goal.
To finally answer your question about the Hariri case: The commission “with the enormous investigative means” seemed to me to be the means of deception, to perpetrate a fraud in the specific case of Hariri as well. It’s like a crime inside the criminal investigation. And that is what still makes hair on my neck stand up.

Silvia Cattori: Did you carry out your inquiry on the spot?

Jürgen Cain Külbel
Jürgen Cain Külbel: Yes, but I will discuss that in another book [1]. Let me make a remark about the material evidence the UN commission collected. Now the question arises whether the forensic element (still) has any value at all. What happened to this material during the July war in Lebanon? What did the Belgian Serge Brammertz take with him to Cyprus two days after outbreak of hostilities, when he fled from Israeli bombs? So many hands could have easily compromised it during the bombardment. Nothing of this can be reconstructed any more – it is not serious.

It is also unforgivable to forget the liaison between the impudent John Bolton, U.S. ambassador at the United Nations, and Serge Brammertz! Bolton, who once wanted the clone of Mr. Mehlis as his successor, and got it in Brammertz, has been up to now extremely pleased with the performance of the Belgian. The alarm bells should ring here because Bolton, one of the most important war criminals living, is someone who played a major role in faking the evidence for the Iraq war.

In addition, as can be read in all the reports produced so far, the UN commission couldn’t offer anything that would be useful in convicting the perpetrators. Mr. Mehlis failed miserably last year because he ignored clear warnings and, supported by the US and the United Nations, thought he could somehow force Damascus to its knees for the benefit of Bush and his cohorts. His “work”, one thinks of the rather strange examinations of the witnesses, should only find its place on top of the garbage heap of criminology or as a teaching example in seminars of prospective lawyers or criminologists of what not to do.

Silvia Cattori: On the main points, what conclusions did you reach, and on which points do your conclusions contradict those of Mr Mehlis?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Generally, my conclusions have nothing in common with the ones of Mr. Mehlis. It is a pity that my book The Hariri Murder Case [2] hasn’t been published in languages other than German and Arabic because this question just keeps popping up. I also never intended to refute the two reports of Mr. Mehlis with my work. Rather I intended to prove the absurdity of the investigations of the UN commission, which - in terms of criminological strategy – lead into a cul de sac, only by proving that there is another important lead that needs to be investigated using all possible means. It is usually out of the question for honorably working investigators to simply and completely ignore such leads as I have followed. But because of this ignorance, one can recognize that the UN commission work is very one-sided, biased so to say. Under normal circumstances, this is poison for an objective criminal investigation; however, it is the elixir of life for devoted “Chief-Investigators” who are only working to satisfy the political interests of their employers. However, that is something that all the Gentlemen concerned –obviously all dead fish that swim in the stream while keeping their mouths shut– servants of the system, have to address to their own consciences, as far as such exists.

Once again I demand the interrogation Richard Pearle or Daniel Pipes, a man who would (at least here in Germany under different circumstances) already be serving a sentence for running a hate campaign, or Abdelnour or Najjar or Kahl or the others who are mentioned in my book and who have skeletons in the closet, who had Hariri on the assassination list, who demanded a coup in Lebanon etc. They had already planned violence theoretically anyway; some had already killed Hariri with words or had put him in the cross hairs. Why it is that none of those daring, self-sacrificing Hero Chief Investigators, working in Lebanon under constant life-threatening conditions, have never even attempted to question any of those characters? At this point, the commission becomes a laughing stock because it prostituted oneself indirectly, whether it wanted to or not.

The respectable media landscape needs to put pressure on the UN commission. I am not talking about details, leads or the content of the interrogations. It is about questioning the objectivity of the investigation that is compromised as the commissioners intentionally close their eyes to important leads. Those responsible, including your President Chirac, can spit beautiful verbal husks as much as they want.

Silvia Cattori: Did you reach the conclusion that Syria was not behind Hariri’s assassination, as Mr Bush asserted?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Bush’s cohorts knew exactly what they started when they let their Fuehrer in Washington say - over the still warm corpse of Hariri - which the string-pullers of the crime sat in Damascus. The echo came instantly and was Druze’s and anti-Syrian Lebanese. The song that the first commissioner, the Irishman Peter Fitzgerald, then started in March 2005, about the sloppiness of the Lebanese authorities safeguarding the crime scene and the crime examination, was calculated and of an arrogant colonial style. The entire world knew that the Lebanese police, their secret services, lack -compared with our standards- specialized experts, technical equipment, forensic examination methods; as well as the logistics, they also lacked the criminal tactical know-how of how to handle such colossal capital crimes. How could they? Those responsible on the Potomac and in the intelligence services, which had cooked up the assassination of Hariri, precisely calculated that if the Lebanese led the first investigation, that in such a case it was one hundred per cent certain that such carelessness would happen. By the way, those kinds of mistakes and sloppiness are no rarity in criminal police investigations worldwide. And in this particular case, the assassination of Hariri, the “mistakes and sloppiness” where supposed to be used as a pretext to direct initial suspicions towards a Lebanese-Syrian conspiracy.

The fiction was first fed by the Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, who drew an incorrect picture even before the publication of the Fitzgerald report in the British daily The Independent, affirming that the investigators were convinced that proof has been covered up “in the highest ranks” of the secret services, and that the UN report will be “devastating”. Fisk didn’t mention any sources, but nevertheless he predicted that U.S. president George W. Bush would soon declare that “Syrian and perhaps Lebanese officers of the army secret service” have been involved in the murder. At that time, the White House denied it, which however should be seen as hypocrisy.

Silvia Cattori: But what were the objectives of those who killed Mr Hariri?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: A ghost roams this blue marble. Within the global restoration of the relations that previously existed - before this world was divided into communist and capitalist camps - and propelled by the geo-strategic and economic interests of capital, the exponents of the western forms of power, mistakenly described as democracies, are now reaching for the cheap version of the coup d’état, the “democratic revolution”, when bringing down unfavorable governments.

In 2003 when the emperors from the other side of the Atlantic started the war against Iraq together with their Anglo-Saxon paladins, the war criminals soon noticed that they had overstretched themselves: Iraq’s pacification didn’t happen, the domino effect to liquidate pan-Arabism by toppling other autocracies and dictatorships alongside, which would have led to the balkanization of an Arabia that would have been more easily controllable, exploitable, and would then have permitted Israel to have hegemony, didn’t happen as well.

Exasperated the younger Bush reached into the political hamster box of potential cadre and dragged out the ice cold Afro-American Condoleeza Rice, making her the Secretary of State. Since then Rice supports and finances “resistance movements” openly or in secret - like war profiteer U.S. second-in-command Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, commander-in-chief of the U.S. terror force, servant of “Big Oil” - in the former states of the Soviet Union and the Middle East, to force America-friendly regime changes. Support is also flowing into regions that are located in strategic proximity to planned pipeline routes.

Financial and logistical help is also given by the Freedom House, led by the CIA’s ex-director James Woolsey, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Open Society Institute of George Soros, one of the richest parasites in the world, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) (NED) and also Tony Blair’s government.

Since the arrival of Rice, the world audience has been able to “enjoy” itself on some short-lived, “democratic”, fruit and vegetable revolutions: Oranges in the Ukraine, velvet in Georgia, tulips in Kyrgyzstan, and in spring of 2005, the Cedar revolt, unleashed after the assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafik Hariri. This one was spear headed by the Druze king Walid Jumblat, mass-murderer in the Lebanese civil war.

Silvia Cattori: Wasn’t Hariri about to reach the end of his mandate?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Who cares, a figurehead of public and political life had to be slaughtered to attract the audience, to stir up the rage of the Lebanese soul. A dead Hariri, a massacred Mister Lebanon who ran the State like his personal property, was made to order to unleash the cedar revolution - a term from the neo-conservative storage room.

Silvia Cattori: Did you have any contact with the Mehlis Commission at the time of your inquiries?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: I regarded this as nonsensical because I had a completely different lead. Once you have forced yourself through hundreds of files, read the ten of thousands of pages that passed through the German’s hands, (Mehlis) you have the impression that Justice herself tears the bandage off of her eyes and wants to smash your skull with the scale. So one doesn’t expect to achieve anything with a contact. Nevertheless, I sought to contact Mr Mehlis on one specific point. It was about the jammers that were installed in Hariri’s car convoy and that were, according to anonymous sources, Israeli built. He referred to his pledge of secrecy at that time and forwarded my enquiry to Brammertz. But as soon as the German version of “The Hariri Murder Case” was on the market, he surprisingly broke his “oath of secrecy” -whether in agreement with Brammertz or as a private person is beyond my knowledge. He informed the Lebanese Daily Star on April 21, 2006: “The assertions made in the book, like the one that the system of the jammers used by Hariri was from an Israeli company, are completely wrongly and simply ridiculous. I and some members of the UN commission have scrutinized the matter, and the system which was used by Hariri was imported from a Western European country.” Well, imported doesn’t at all mean produced. That leads back to the key question that Gil Israeli, a former member of the secret service and chief of the Israeli company that built the jammers, never answered: “Are you saying that you cannot exclude the possibility that Hariri could have obtained a jammer, produced by your company, through detours?” Perhaps through a European dummy firm, by which, in “certain cases” and for “special customers”, the severe export regulations of the Israeli Ministry of Defense can be circumvented.

Be that as it may, one day after the statement by Mr Mehlis, I asked him in writing for clarification and precisions to resolve this discrepancy in the Arabian translation of the book. But by this point he had already sunken back into his sleep of Sleeping Beauty. An answer never came.

Silvia Cattori: On the whole, had there not been witnesses who withdrew their charges, Mr Bush would have had the pretext necessary for immediately implementing his projects for destabilizing Syria?

Jürgen Cain Külbel Sure. After Lebanon Bush clearly had the domino effect in mind and thought that Syria will become easy prey as well. A suitable man, a kind of Chalabi for Syria, was already on stand by: the US-based “Syrian Opposition Leader” Farid Ghadry. The Aleppo born businessman and president of the Reformation Party of Syria (RPS), founded quickly after September 11, is completely unknown to Syrians. At age eight he immigrated with his parents to Lebanon, later to the USA, where he studied economics and marketing, worked for the military industry and became wealthy. After September 11, 2001, he saw the time had come to help his far off homeland “with economic and political reforms in order to obtain democracy, prosperity and freedom”. That is why he joined the US-Committee on the Present Danger, with members like Newt Gingrich and the former CIA boss James Woolsey. Under the influence of the events in Lebanon, Ghadry wrote in a newspaper article in February 2005, “Democracy (in Syria) will remain an illusionary dream as long as the USA government is unwilling to publicly support and decently finance the reforms. A White House meeting with a democratic Syrian leader could send a clear message towards Damascus that changes are on their way.”

By the end of March his prayers had already been answered by Elizabeth Cheney, daughter of the vice president and the person responsible for Near East affairs at the State Department. Together with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, she at once installed the “Middle East Partnership initiative” (MEPI), which under the mask of “economic, political and educational reforms” contributes monies to opposition forces in the Arabian world. In 2003 alone, 100 million dollars flowed. The 36-year old hardliner led an “unofficial” meeting in Washington, where Farid Ghadry took part with his “Syrian opposition”. Ghadry’s crew, all US-based dissidents and united back then under the umbrella organization the “Syrian Democratic Coalition” (SDC), discussed with officials from the vice president’s office, the Pentagon and the National Security Council, how the “regime in Damascus could be weakened” and how to “prove criminal conduct by Syrian officials”. After the talks, Ghadry, who was pushing for the US president to lean on Damascus personally, summed it up by saying that the call for democracy in Syria “is being taken very seriously at the highest level of the Bush administration”. He was going to “work closely with the US administration and the EU” from his end so that “Syria’s oppressive Baath-regime” could be toppled. However, Ghadry, who was closely cooperating with Abdelnour, disappeared from the scene after he lied to the European Parliament and was dispossessed by his own party for “dubious conduct”.

Everybody thought he was out of business, but then he popped up again. Between June 16 and 18, 2006, the Beaver Creek (Colorado) World Forum of the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) took place. As is commonly known, this was supposedly where the American-Israeli air strike on Iran was planned. Moreover, Cheney gave the green light to Israel’s former Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who was present there, for the latest war of aggression against Lebanon. Included among the 64 members of the AEI conference were Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and other members of the Bush administration. And at this conference Cheney also met with Farid Ghadry. That’s certainly not a good sign.

Silvia Cattori: What role did Saad Hariri, Rafik’s son, play in the development of that inquiry? Was he not on the side of those Lebanese who forced members of the secret services to charge Syria?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Let me just say this: Suleiman Franjieh, boss of the Lebanese Marada party, explained during an interview on television at the beginning of July 2006 that, when he was Secretary of the Interior, pressure had been exerted on him to say that the bomb which killed Hariri had been placed underground so that Hariri’s family could collect the insurance money. Hariri junior sued Franjieh for slander.

Silvia Cattori: What about the position of the socialist Mr Walid Jumblat and of Mr Marwan Hamadeh?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: I don’t want to talk about Jumblat, I am not a psychiatrist. Whether or not Hamadeh has thought about the possibility that he could have been a kind of test balloon for the Hariri murder? He wasn’t a suitable victim to provoke the kind of public dissent that one can then channel in a certain direction. But at least for Tel Aviv he was as an expendable living person. As Immigration Minister he once declared – when Elie Hobeika was the victim of a car bomb: “It is clear that Israel does not want to have witnesses during the historic trial in Belgium where Ariel Sharon will surely be sentenced for the massacres in the Palestine refugee camps in Sabra and Chatila. We already suffered under the crimes of Sharon in Beirut, and Palestine goes through the same today at his hand.” Strong words towards Israel. Hamadeh also felt victim to a car bomb in Beirut on October 1, 2004. He survived, but his driver died.

Silvia Cattori: What about the generals who have been arrested as a result of the Mr Mehlis inquiry?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Where are the human right organizations? Mr Brammertz drops from his report Mehlis’ summary that Hariri’s killing couldn’t have happened without the knowledge of high-profile Syrian and Lebanese secret service agents. While Mehlis was pulling “proofs” out of his hat, Brammertz displays an unusual “secretive” style and sells as new what we already know. He talks about a “highly complex terrorist action” and says that the participants acted “very professionally”, and that the crime was “planned with a high probability of success and was executed with a high level of individual and collective self-discipline”. “At least some of the participants must have had experience in such terrorist acts.”

Jumblat reassured us that everything was as usual: “Brammertz follows the work of Mehlis. The fact that the report (…) sees a connection between all the explosions which took place before and after the murder of Hariri is a clear accusation against the Syrian regime (…) that ruled Lebanon at the time of Hariri’s murder”, a “silent condemnation of the Syrian regime” so to speak, because - according to Jumblat - “Brammertz is handling things very professionally”. The future will show what’s being cooked up behind the scenes. Anyway, Brammertz didn’t have any objections to the further detention of the four high-profile Lebanese security chiefs, taken into custody in the summer of last year on the suggestion of Mehlis, even though the evidential case against the gentlemen totally fell apart in December. On the contrary, Lebanon is preparing for a tribunal together with the UN. It is naïve to think that Brammertz could steer a course on his own or even a “Syria friendly” one. The European “service axis” alone instructs against it: Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor against Milosevic, in the spring of 2005 suggested her brother of Hearts, Detlev Mehlis, for the position of chief investigator. He in turn recommends in December 2005 his friend Serge Brammertz as his successor. I mean, one doesn’t bite the hand that feeds you! It stills remains questionable if Syrian representative Mohammad Habash, who rejoiced that the Brammertz report “is bad news for the enemies of Syria”, will be proved correct. The hyenas have grabbed onto Bush’s perpetrator of choice, and they will not let go. Naji Boustani, one of the defense lawyers, said to me: “For months, every 10 days, I have been punctually addressing the examining magistrate, who followed Mehlis’ recommendation to lock up the four. He does not react. Our legal system does not provide for opposing any orders given by the examining magistrate. Mehlis knew that too. Once locked up, you stay locked up as long as it pleases the examining magistrate.”

Silvia Cattori: In your opinion, what did the suicide of the Syrian interior minister mean?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Apparently blackmail. The USA had frozen Ghazi Kanaan’s accounts in the summer of 2005. They croaked that he was involved in illegal business in Lebanon. Kanaan once had close ties to Hariri, even financial. Not only had the Lebanese media increased the psychological pressure on him after the venture of the Americans, he was considered as a “corrupt drug lord”. Then there was the talk about Mehlis questioning him. Let’s put it this way: Someone shows up, drops documents on the table without saying a word that indicate that you repeatedly took money from the victim, and then disappears for the time being. I don’t want to say more; rather let speak Walid Jumblat, that political chameleon of Lebanon, when he for once forgot to lie as he breathes: “If his pride would have suffered, due to the expectation of the UN report regarding the Hariri assassination, then that [the suicide] would have been a brave act of a brave man.”

Silvia Cattori: Mr Mehlis was quickly accused of having no professional ability to conduct such a sensitive investigation and of having relied on corrupt Lebanese politicians and on Israeli sources. Do you confirm that?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Some in Germany, who pretend to know Mr Mehlis or his methods of work, claim that he is technically incompetent, and, let’s say it in jargon, dimwitted. This was also the international opinion in December 2005. I don’t have that impression. Rather Mr Mehlis has, using the analogy of a criminal that develops his signature as to how commit the crime, developed his own prosecutorial style which runs provably through his practice like a red thread. That this style is not in sync with our ideas of righteousness and morals is a different story. I always compare this with a highly specialized top-class athlete. The “specialist” Mr Mehlis has apparently such performance features or “qualities” that permit others to describe to him a perpetrator of their choice whom he is then able to fabricate. This answers the second part of your question, as he is clearly forced to utilize such corrupt elements as you are referring to.

But let me make one remark about Israel: Ibrahim Gambari, Under Secretary General for Political Affairs at the UN, actually said at the end of August 2005 that Mr Mehlis had created “a good working relationship with Israel and Jordan”, not, however, with Syria. A real joke, given all those Mossad networks exposed this year in Lebanon, which for years had spread car bombings, murder, and terror. But nobody at the United Nations cares about this in the context of the Hariri matter. One has to ask oneself: what is this lot with headquarters in New York good for, anyway?

Silvia Cattori: From that, can we draw the conclusion that the commission of inquiry entrusted to Mr Mehlis was nothing but a tool in the hands of the neocons who wanted the assassination to be attributed to Syria?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Of course! Let’s take for example Serge Brammertz, John Bolton’s shyster lawyer. Even if the Belgian has so far avoided blaming Damascus for the murder, as those in Washington would like to have it, and has stressed that “the future cooperation of the Syrians is decisive for the examination”, the notoriously loutish Bolton was forced to translate this as follows: “Brammertz has made it clear, albeit diplomatically, that Syria still isn’t cooperating fully.” Which means one needs to “increase the pressure on the Syrians”, possibly through a “new resolution of the UN security council”.

At first glace it seems as if the Belgian is ironing out the sloppiness and manipulations that Mehlis left behind. Fifteen months after the assassination, he now thinks Hariri was killed by an underground and an aboveground explosion. That’s what witnesses say already. Mr Mehlis refused it because it didn’t fit in his conspiracy fabrication against the Syrians. He favored the aboveground bomb blast caused by a Mitsubishi Cancer loaded with 1000 kg of explosive. He attributed this to the Syrians, conjured various spirits out of the bottle, which he called witnesses, among them. Brammertz does not mention those “witnesses” anymore, obviously because they made their “testimony” under threat of torture or after bribery and have already taken them back. But he doesn’t remove the amateurish material of the German investigator because, due to suspect testimony, there are still the aforementioned four Lebanese ex-security officers in solitary confinement whom Mr Mehlis had attributed with the deed of collaboration with Syrian secret services.

These four men have a hard life because Bolton knows that “independent of the apparent differences, Brammertz is basing his investigation on the conclusions of his predecessor. It is clear; he will go in the same direction.” Brammertz wants to lead the tribunal in Cyprus in 2007 himself; the evaluation of the “statements” of those “crown witnesses”, which Mr Mehlis created, is then incumbent upon him and his judges. The German did the dirty work with much noise and press, which got him, besides snide remarks, the German Medal of Honor as well, and he then slipped dutifully away as the “bad cop” so that friend Brammertz could slip into the role of the good one: A playing of roles worthy of a dime novel and suitable for the neocons.

Silvia Cattori: Did Mr Mehlis used to work, as it was said, in research centers of the intelligence services in the United States?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: During the “La Belle” case, he was over there in 1996 to get something. Or on ski trips with members of the CIA, high up in Aspen, Colorado? Mehlis is obviously the tool of the secret services. Without them he might not or he could not botch up within these sensitive areas of dirty policy. That is as safe as the Amen in the church. Do you believe the great powers are so foolish as to waste their time with "honest" examiners, driven by a naive urge for the truth?

Back to his connections to Israeli Secret service: Mehlis started his “work” with UNIIIC (the Hariri commission) in May 2005. A few weeks later, on 20 July, the French newspaper Le Figaro asked him: “Why have you asked for assistance from Israel and Jordan?” Mehlis answered: "It is known that the Israelis possess good security equipment, especially technological. We have asked them to give us data related to the assassination. They gave us good information."

Later, in his first report on October 19, 2005, he said in the preface, paragraph 19: "… it is to be regretted that no Member State did relay such useful information to the Commission". Mehlis does not tell the truth. Even the Israeli press wrote that Israeli intelligence agents had met with his team in Europe.

Of course, none of them considers the idea of examining whether or not Mossad could be the wirepuller behind Hariri’s murder. It doesn’t belong to the order placed by their employers. They have to fulfil only the one demand: send Syria to the pillory. They are classical robots, who themselves create the civil system: one adapted, to get ahead, to down-and-dirty minds behind their clean masks, bitches of the system, which, as I always like to say, can be made amenable to all kinds of obscenities. Heinrich Mann, a German writer and the brother of the famous Thomas Mann, had already described this type of human in 1914 and inexorably in his successful novel The Subject. Today his statements no longer apply only to Germans.

Silvia Cattori: In your opinion, is Mr Serge Brammertz better?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Brammertz has obviously bluffed the world public with his first and second “technical reports”. It is said that in the last weeks he has “reheated” one of Mehlis’ “chief witnesses”: Mohammad Zuheir Siddiq.

Siddiq told Al Arabiyya on Saturday, September 9, 2006 that the “Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Lebanese counterpart Emile Lahoud gave orders to eliminate former Premier Rafik Hariri” and added that the "assassins are currently in prison and the rest are in Syria." He means the four Lebanese former security chiefs who have been detained for more than one year on the basis of his “declaration” and on the recommendation of Mehlis. They are the former head of the General Security, Brigadier General Jamil Sayyed; the former head of the Army Intelligence, General Raymond Azar; the former head of the Presidential Guards, Brigadier Mustafa Hamdan; and the former head of the General Internal Security Forces, Ali Hajj. But the German political news-magazine Der Spiegel had already revealed on October 22, 2005 that Siddiq was a dubious person with a criminal record as a convicted felon and swindler. The alleged former officer of the Syrian secret services had in reality been convicted more than once for penal offences related to money subtraction. The magazine reported that the UN investigating Commission was well aware that it had been lied to by Siddiq, who at first had affirmed that he had left Beirut one month before the assault on Hariri, but then had to admit at the end of September 2005 his direct involvement in the implementation of the crime.

Siddiq declared to Mehlis that he had put his apartment in Beirut at the disposition of the conspirators to kill Hariri, among them the imprisoned Syrian intelligence officials. About himself, he declared that he had gathered intelligence for the Syrian services regarding Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. But weeks before the Syrian government had sent documentation about Siddiq to various Western governments, hoping that Mehlis would not get caught in the trap of a notorious impostor.

Later it became quite evident that Siddiq had received money for his depositions, considering that his siblings revealed that they had received a phone call from him from Paris, late in the summer, in which Siddiq announced "I have become a millionaire". Doubts regarding the credibility of the man were further fuelled by the revelation that Siddiq had been recommended to Mehlis by the long-term Syrian renegade Rifaat al-Assad, an uncle of the Syrian President who more than once offered himself as "alternative President of Syria".

Lebanon issued an arrest warrant against Siddiq, who was later named as a suspect by the UN probe investigating the case, but the French authorities refused to extradite Siddiq as capital punishment is still legal in Lebanon.

None of the four chiefs have faced formal accusations from the judiciary, and none of them have been confronted by Siddiq, as the law requires.

On Saturday, September 9, 2006 Siddiq repeated his allegations from Paris: "I saw the car [suspected of carrying the explosives] while it was being prepared in the Zabadani Syrian intelligence camp in the Bekaa, and I gave the former head of the UN probe investigating the case irrevocable pictures and documents, and I have the negatives with me, and there are many things that will be revealed later."

This time Siddiq said the Syrian intelligence services had tried to "lure me back to Syria by offering large sums of money and the title of a local hero," if he revoked the accusations he made. He claimed he has a "tape of a high-ranking Syrian officer" who asked [him] last month to accuse some of the March 14 Forces’ leaders of prompting him to accuse Syria of assassinating Hariri.

Normally, magistrates and prosecutors with a healthy mind know that this kind of witness obviously has problems with his affections, and they should ask the question: Who created this super-witness? But I’m sure that they will not ask this question and that Brammertz loves this Siddiq.

Silvia Cattori: So isn’t it disturbing that Mr Kofi Annan appointed this kind of persons to such a high assignment?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Kofi Annan is the third black person I do not want to cross paths with, right after O. J. Simpson and Condoleezza Rice.

Silvia Cattori: Was it innocent that Mme Carla del Ponte, the attorney who plays the same role as Mr Mehlis in the TPI (the tribunal that Mr Jacques Vergès considers as an illegal institution), recommended Mr Mehlis for that inquiry?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: All of them are cut from the same cloth. Carla del Ponte or Carlita “La pesta” recommended Mr Mehlis for the position, and Mr Mehlis afterward, as his successor, recommended the friend Brammertz.

Silvia Cattori: Had not Mr Mehlis already created a scandal for having concluded Libya was responsible for the bombing of the “La Belle” discotheque in Berlin in 1986, an accusation that allowed the United States to bomb Tripoli and Benghazi and to isolate Libya?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Mehlis did indeed lead the “La Belle” investigation. As a side note: Oddly enough the first thought that the Libyans could be behind this came from the target himself, the owner of the West Berlin discotheque “La Belle”, which was mostly visited by black U.S. soldiers, and where a young female Turk and two GI’s got ripped apart by a bomb and about two hundred guests got injured, some of them gravely. He said on April 6th, 1986, one day after the attack: “One hears so much about terrorist attacks lately with Ghaddafi as the manipulator and I feared that one day my discotheque could possibly be the target of such an attack.” How far this man was involved in the drug dealing trade or how much he was tangled up in the arms dealing business, as some witnesses claimed, and therefore could become the pinball for certain services, was never investigated.

The whole affair is full of malice, trickery, and intrigue, and is spun from the thread a typically bourgeois civil servant needs so that he can knit together some charges for the benefit of his employers. I will report on this extensively in my up-coming book, as I researched the case and the files in great detail.

Silvia Cattori: Radio messages sent by Mossad to frame Libya for the attack also played a role in the “La Belle” case. How the investigator and chief prosecutor Mehlis did handled this “game-material”, which can hardly be called evidence?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Immediately following the attack it was certain for the US president at the time, Ronald Reagan, that Libyan president Muammar Al Ghaddafi had staged the attack. A scapegoat radio message intercepted by the U.S. intelligence agency NSA, allegedly from the People’s Office of Libya [the embassy] in Berlin, capital of the DDR, had to serve as proof. It said: “At 1:30 am an operation was successfully executed, leaving no trace, the People’s Office, Berlin”.

In the Lockerbie trial, the former colonel of the Israeli secret service, Victor Ostrovsky, testified under oath that Special Forces of Mossad had installed a Trojan horse in Tripoli at that time, a transmitter sending fake messages about the success of the Berlin bomb. According to Ostrovsky the intercepted broadcast had been made up by Mossad.

Silvia Cattori: What do you know about these alleged radio messages?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Well, Mr Mehlis had consulted the German Federal Intelligence Agency (BND) in Pullach near Munich. Mr Mehlis knew about the messages and insisted on having them as evidence. Then on October 4, 1996, a meeting took place between Mr Mehlis and employees of the “Technical Acquisition” department of the BDN who promised to him to look into his request. A few days later, on October 8, 1996, he received a letter from the BND which contained the contents of the suspicious radio messages.

To be precise, it was about five alleged telex (radio teletype) communications, supposedly exchanged between Tripoli and the People’s Office of Libya in East Berlin in the time period between March 25th and April 5th 1986, and the BND got this information, as the gentlemen suggest, in the context of some foreign reconnaissance. The service explained that the messages at that time were picked up in encoded form by some “friendly service”, with great probability American, and were forwarded to the BND. This service wanted to remain secret and told the BND that under those conditions of anonymity they authorized the intercepted reports to be put at the disposal of the German prosecuting attorney’s office and of the court.

Two years later on October 6, 1998, when the BND provided official testimony for the court about the reports, it pointed out as a given that material exchanged in this way may be subjected to manipulation, although the BND had no indication to that effect in this particular case.

The German intelligence service claimed that they decoded the reports and then translated them from the original Arabic into German. And this is where it gets hot: The German Secret Service pointed out to the courts in writing that the original encoded version is no longer available with the BND; the same applies for the original text in Arabic. Both are not unusual, according to the gentlemen in Pullach, the head office of the German intelligence service, because it is in keeping with the procedures for working with such reports, where after the message is decoded and translated, that version supplants the “original.”

Not only are these radio messages - I don’t want them quote them one by one – the brain child of Mossad, as Ostrovsky testified under oath, no, quite obviously they even found a dubious way to enter the German courtrooms.

I mea, this is nothing but an intrigue of the cheapest type, and so transparent that people with healthy intellects tear out their hair at such kinds of manipulations.

Silvia Cattori: For having already covered up an action of Mossad in the Berlin case, can we draw the conclusion that Mr Mehlis was the man of Israel and of the United States?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Because of the above, I would agree for the most part with the analysis of the London political scientist Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed: “As a Berlin public prosecutor, Mehlis inadvertently but consistently hushed up the dubious interests the U.S., Israeli and German secret services in the terrorist attack of 1986, actively designed suspicious facts which were selective and politically motivated against the suspects, without any objective material body of evidence, while at the same time he ignored and protected a group of suspects with documented connections to western secret services.”

Silvia Cattori: Mr Brammertz asked for a one-year extension of the inquiry. Does that make sense?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Indeed, somehow the agents of the UN Inquisition are running out of steam, i.e. the evidence against Damascus and the four Lebanese former safety officers taken into custody, is as solid as a sock full of holes, although for their customers, the US administration, this seems to be good enough to keep the accusations against Syria on the fire - at least for one more year. One suspects that Bush has plans for some more warlike imperial projects during his second term.

Silvia Cattori: Is the “March 14 Movement” financed by the United States?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: You mean that lousy troop who stands in the service of murder-America since the cedar revolution?

Silvia Cattori: Does it serve the objectives of Mr Ziad Abdelnour, the man Tel Aviv and Washington are relying on to put into place a regime favorable to them? In your book you mention Ziad K. Abdelnour, president of the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon, as a person who plays a prominent role promoting Bush administration plans!

Jürgen Cain Külbel: He is still one of the busiest armchair culprits, not letting any chance for propaganda and agitation to denounce Syria and the status quo in Lebanon pass by. He got it into his head to impose classical capitalist conditions upon Arabia. But I don’t think he will play any significant political role after the release of my book. However, it goes without saying that his economic interests and those of his clients will be satisfied by a puppet regime. After all, that is the real aim of Wall Street. An un-proselytized Arab country is simply an economic loss for people of his ilk. For example, between June 5th and 7th, 2006 in the Madinat Jumeirah Hotel in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, he debated on the topic of “Venture Capital Investing” in the Arabian region. Abdelnour was talking in his capacity as president & CEO of Blackhawk Partners, LLC, USA in front of some heavyweight buddies from big corporate groups and banks from Europe, the USA and the Near and Middle East, as well as in front of representatives of the International Monetary Fond.

Silvia Cattori: Did the destabilization of Lebanon favor the candidates financed by Israel and the United States, like Mr Nagi N. Najjar, a kind of Mr Chalabi Jr?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: No self-respecting Lebanese would put up with this longtime Israeli collaborator Najjar, even as a shoe salesman. This type of immoral person, the servant of two masters, only exists in the gray area between politics and the secret services; that is where they play their game - bringing themselves in - as aforementioned collaborators and string-pullers. The role of these “strategists” requires some more comprehensive investigation than I have done so far. At the end of February, Etienne Sakr, leader of the Guardians of the Cedars, a civil war militia organized on a fascist model, assembled a delegation of “Lebanese dissidents in exile” and members of the British parliament to discuss the “situation” in Lebanon and Syria. Najjar was, of course, one of the party. The exiles, who are under threat of prosecution in Lebanon because they collaborated with Israel during the civil war, called for the right to return and to take part in the political process in order to declare war on Islamic fundamentalism. Moreover, they criticized Beirut for not disarming Hizbullah. Sakr, sentenced to death in Lebanon, demanded that London and Washington should increase pressure on the government in Damascus, which is a trouble spot in the region because of its “support” of terror and Hizbullah. At the Officers Club in London both sides agreed to keep an eye on the matter and to coordinate with the French.

At almost the same time, on March 17th, as chance would have it, fourteen Syrian politicians in exile also met in Brussels and explained that “Syria also needs to be liberated from the autocratic regime that has weakened the country.” The opposition groups of Liberals, Communists, Kurds, and the Muslim Brotherhood plan, through a regime change, to disable the constitution, install a provisional government, organize elections, and then lift the crisis.

“One of our greatest challenges is to tear down the wall of the fear”, said Najib Ghadbian of the Syrian National Council, an umbrella organization of opposition groups in the USA. Moreover, Ghadbian, professor at the University of Arkansas, is a leading member of the Washington Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID), a dissident organization that cooperates closely with Cheney and Rice’s USAID. They are cooking up the “New Middle East” of the kind worshipped by tough-as-nails Rice.

Silvia Cattori: Does the arrest, in June 2006, of people belonging to a Mossad network in South Lebanon have any link with the Hariri case?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: On June 26th, I sent an open letter to Kofi Annan and Serge Brammertz, which also got published in certain Arabian dailies. In it I invited them not to waste any time to expand the investigation of the Hariri murder case in the direction of other suspects, including “Israel and Mossad” and their collaborators. Because such crimes by Mossad abroad, as in the recent case of Majzoub, are done exclusively with the authorization of the Israeli prime minister, I suggested to Annan to authorize the UNIIIC immediately, and if necessary by resolution of the UN security council, to interrogate the people responsible within the Israeli government, starting with prime minister Ehud Olmert and Mossad boss Meir Dagan. Because, as the investigations of the Lebanese army demonstrated, Israel possesses a vast experience and sophisticated know-how in the criminal and cowardly technique of car bombings. Moreover, under Serge Brammertz supported by his hard-working investigators, the UNIIIC has the unique chance to penetrate a terror structure operating logistically and technically on the highest levels, and thus has the possibility - if only to get a better understanding or for comparison purposes – of getting an answer for the many open questions raised by the investigation; including with what high tech means the attack on Hariri was undertaken.

Silvia Cattori: All impartial analysts agree that France is responsible for the disaster Lebanon is undergoing through her support for resolution 1559, beginning in 2004. Do you understand why France moved to a position that could only jeopardize her in the eyes of the Arab world?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: Of course France belongs to the main culprits of the catastrophe that has struck Lebanon since the murder of Hariri. Jacques Chirac isn’t just a hanger-on to the wheeling’s and dealings of the U.S. in the Levant, he has even tried actively to convince Bush to give today’s France a free hand in the areas of former French colonial influence. The text of UN resolution 1559, which asked for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, was designed by an adviser of the Elysée together with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Neither UN Secretary General Kofi Annan nor the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs were informed about it. Events afterwards indicate that Chirac, Bush and Sharon had come to an agreement as to the distribution of roles in the conspiracy to topple Syria’s president Assad and to wipe out the Baath party.

Silvia Cattori: Do you think that this region is in the middle of a long war? Is Israeli carrying out this war to destroy not only Hizbullah, but also the people of these countries?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: For the time being, Israel has taken the community of nation’s hostage. The “democratic” royal courts in Europe and elsewhere are sending 15,000 of their young natives to the Holy Land with a “robust mandate” to provide for the safety of the Jewish state. Of course, the taxpayers of the respective countries will pick up the bill. Therefore, there is zero risk and no financial burden for Israel. For the corpses brought back, there are trumpet calls and 21 gun salutes. The courts’ cashiers usually show themselves quite generous in this department, as it doesn’t require much. However only the cuckoo from Kentucky knows whether this "robust mandate" will lend itself for preparations of an Israeli or American attack against Iran. It might be possible that the UN blue helmets will have to provide rear cover for part of the Arabic East at the exact moment when the imperial and Israel air-fighters attack Teheran. The USA has cooked the UN over the last years down to the size of a shrunken head incapable of acting and has threatened to toast it with financial dehydration if it doesn’t obey the emperors on the Potomac. Why shouldn’t the Americans now fry up military forces meant for peace missions for fighting purposes and for the welfare of the Bush and Cheney clique?

Silvia Cattori: Mossad or the CIA must consider you an enemy and have surveillance on all your exchanges and contacts. Aren’t you afraid that they might try to brutally silence you?

Jürgen Cain Külbel: It did cross my mind. While Mehlis was working on matters, people regularly died as well; either by accidents or depression. It’s the subject of my next book.

Silvia Cattori
Swiss journalist.
This author's articles

Translation Alexander Davidis
Collaborator of Signs of the Times

Translation Ard Vangern
Collaborator of Signs of the Times

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Fidel Castro’s Health: Why the African Diaspora should support revolutionary Cuba

Influential pockets of America, especially the mainstream corporate media, are obsessing about Fidel Castro’s health problems and possible death. The Black World must therefore pay close attention to these groups. Their gleeful reactions reveal America’s not so friendly intentions towards Castro and Cuba, a land that has consistently stood by African and African American people.

Castro is justifiably revered globally as a political icon. Several reasons show why. First is his visionary leadership. Fidel did not just dream a nation free of injustice, poverty, disease and ignorance. Envisioning a country of “new man” he and his comrades with direct and consistent collaboration with Cuban citizens of all sectors brilliantly wrestled back their country-an island being exploited, debauched and corrupted by the greed and imperial domination of U.S. capitalism. And despite missteps and some failures, the self-determined national revolutionary project has transformed much of the dream into life-defining achievements in health, education, and physical security.

The Cuban Revolution, from the beginning, squarely confronted institutional racism, an ongoing social and governance transformation with a renewed national focus in the last few years in the Color Cubano project, under the ministry of culture and other special social and educational polices, instituted by the Cuban government.

In less that half a century, Cuba did not just achieve great things inside the country. It shared. A solidarity foreign policy benefited underprivileged peoples in other lands. Cuban educators, doctors, scientists, artists, athletes and analysts are winning hearts and minds across the world by contributing to the material, intellectual and spiritual uplift of all humankind. Cubans built medical facilities, trained health personnel and educated students from marginal communities—in Africa, the Caribbean, and even the U.S. While black and white Americans were being ravaged by hurricane Katrina, Castro and the Cuban people (along with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez) offered to send doctors and supplies. But despite the failures of FEMA and the American Red Cross, the Bush Administration rejected the generous offer because of its hatred of Castro and the Cuban National Project he has led since 1959.

Most inspiring, Cubans died to liberate non-Cuban people of color. The battle fought in Cuito Cuanavale, an Angolan town, best exemplifies this. In 1988 Cuban and Angolan soldiers stopped apartheid South Africa’s war machine which had invaded Angola and was bent on capturing Cuito Cuanavale, and then all Angola. The purpose? To impose the murderous Jonas Savimbi as an apartheid-defending puppet president of Angola. Defeating apartheid South Africa at Cuito Cuanavale was highly significant. It marked the beginning of the end both in the liberation of Namibia and of South Africa, and in ending Angola’s nightmarish civil war.

A grateful African World defiantly insisted on thanking Cuba. Thus in May 1994, a freshly inaugurated President Nelson Mandela said to Castro, publicly, “You made this possible.” And it is why the ANC had elaborated earlier, “without the . . . Sacrifice of the Cuban people . . . We possibly would not have reached the historic victory . . . Cuba remain[s] a shining example.”

Castro is not immortal. He will surely die one day. However, the accomplishments that really count—ideals of equality and justice, freedom, and solidarity which Cuba has institutionalized under his leadership—will endure. This crucial point seems lost on some Americans: the reactionary Cuban community engaging in crass, morbid jubilation; the corporate media, enraged and vengeful, which demonizes Castro as an anachronistic dictator from a by-gone communist era, and which dismisses his profound and continuing influence on modern history; sensationalist pundits and bloggers churning out wild speculation; and the Bush-Rice foreign policy machine, issuing stale ideological critiques and politically threatening polices to “bring democracy to the Cuban people”. Fury blinds these Castro-haters to the obvious: Cuba is more than the towering figure of Fidel Castro.

Cuba is no paradise. And Fidel Castro is no god, just an extraordinary statesman over the last half-century who, despite at times stumbling on some fundamentally important issues of participatory democracy, has never fallen away from the Cuban nation’s solemn historical quest for true independence and self-determination. Institute for Policy Studies scholar Saul Landau, among others, respectably raises not uncommon criticisms among conservatives, liberals, and socialists about the absence of an independent press, of representative political parties, and of vigorous public dissent—key elements of a mature modern participatory democracy that should be openly debated. However, these critical appraisals increasingly not uncommon to the U.S. press, political parties, and passive citizens, do not change a fundamental fact about Fidel Castro and Cuba: Fidel Castro’s leadership and statecraft transformed Cuba into a much better, kinder, gentler society, especially for poor people of color and other historically exploited and marginalized Cubans.

Today’s globe is inter-connected; developments in one country affect everyone. This confers a universal right and obligation—to comment, responsibly, on events anywhere. So let a million analyses of Castro’s health and significance bloom. Let even enraged right-wingers participate and hyperventilate. However, besides history’s, only one appraisal of Castro really counts—that of Cuban citizens. Only they will properly weigh Castro’s successes and failures, and determine where their country must go. It is therefore Cuba’s self-appraisal that the African World must value.

James Early is a Board Member of TransAfrica Forum and the Director of Cultural Heritage Policy at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian Institution.

The EZLN Announces Reinforcement of its Solidarity with Atenco and the Resumption of the National Tour

The Tour Will Restart This October 9

By Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
The Other Mexico
September 14, 2006


September 13, 2006

To the adherents to the Sixth Declaration and the Other Campaign:
To the People of Mexico:

Compañeros and compañeras:

During the months of July and August, the Sixth Comission of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) held a series of contacts and consultations with many diverse organizations, groups, collectives, families and individuals who are adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle and the Other Campaign. Along with the results of this consultation, we sent an evaluation and a proposal to our comrades, the indigenous leaders of the EZLN.

Now that we have received authorization from the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee-General Command (CCRI-CG) of the EZLN, in the following days a series of analyses, considerations and proposals will be released. Through several texts, the Sixth Commission of the EZLN will review the history that led to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, a survey of the Other Campaign one year from its beginning, an analysis of the electoral fraud that culminated in the imposition of PAN candidate Felipe Calderón as president of Mexico, our critical position on the mobilization against these dirty tricks, as well as a proposal to the adherents to the Other Campaign as to the next steps to take in the struggle that we have all embarked upon together.

Now, we send you our first resolution based on the consultation and our evaluation.

First: With the demand of freedom and justice for our compañeros taken prisoner in Atenco, the Sixth Comission of the EZLN will reinforce its presence in the national capital in solidarity with them, and, simultaneously, will resume the tour that had been suspended, thus visiting the 11 states in the north of the Mexican Republic which we had not yet reached, in order to listen to our friends in those lands.

Second: To make this possible, a group of comandantes and comandantas from the CCRI-CG and the Sixth Commission of the EZLN will travel to Mexico City so that Delegate Zero can complete his unfinished tour. While Delegate Zero travels to the north of the country, promoting the struggle for our comrades’ freedom and listening to the word of the Other Campaign in those places, the comandantes will remain in Mexico City and the surrounding area, monitoring the situation of the prisoners and the people of Atenco, and participating as much as possible in the activities held to demand their release.

Third: In the tour that is being resumed, we will primarily attend meetings with adherents and with Indian peoples in the states and regions, although we do not rule out participating in public events that adherents and the EZLN Sixth Commission have agreed upon. In every place we travel, word of the attack on Atenco and the situation of the prisoners will be spread.

Fourth: The tour will resume on October 9 of this year with the following general itinerary:

Starting in Sinaloa (Escuinapa, Mazatlán, Culiacán and Los Mochis); then taking the sea ferry to Baja California Sur (La Paz and, perhaps, Los Cabos); then along the highway to Baja California Norte (Ensenada, Tijuana, Mexicali, meeting with the Other Campaign on the Other Side and visiting at some point the members of the northeast section of the CNI – National Indigenous Congress: the Kumiai, Cucapá, Triqui and Mixtec peoples); from there to Sonora (Santa Ana, Hermosillo, Guaymas-Empalme, Ciudad Obregón and, along the way, meeting with the Pápag, Seri, Mayo, Yaqui y Pima peoples, also of the CNI-Northeast); then we will go by train from Los Mochis the Sierra Tarahumara mountains, in Chihuahua, to meet with the Raramuri members of the CNI; then we will continue by train to Chihuaua, and by road to Ciudad Juárez and Parral; then to the Lagunera area in Coahuila and Durango; then to several points in the state of Zacatecas; from there to San Luis Potosí’s capital and highland region; then to Monterrey and Linares in Nuevo León; after that, Saltillo, Monclova and Pasta de Conchos in Coahuila; then Matamoros, Ciudad Victoria in southeast Tamaulipas; and from there we travel to the Huatesca area of San Luis Potosí to conclude the national tour and return to Mexico City (tentatively in the last days of November).

Fifth: This itinerary is based on the adherents in each region and the proposals for activities that they had made before the shameful events in San Salvador Atenco on May 3 and 4 of this year. The details on routes and dates will be released at the appropriate time – as we are still studying the routes and the state the roads are in – and will be communicated to the adherents in the northern Mexican states and of the Other Campaign on the Other Side.

Sixth: This decision of the CCRI-CG of the EZLN and its Sixth Commission has already been considered and approved by our compañeros of the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Earth who were attacked together with others from the Other Campaign, on May 3 and 4 of 2006, by the forces of the federal government and of the local authorities of Mexico state. The compañeros of Atenco have demonstrated their support.

Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee-General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Sixth Commission of the EZLN

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
México, Septmber 13, 2006

Latinos en Estados Unidos exigen respetar soberanía de Venezuela

Washington, 13 Sep. ABN.- El Congreso Nacional Latino, realizado en la ciudad estadounidense de Los Ángeles, California, del 6 al 10 de septiembre, aprobó una resolución en la que se exige al Congreso de Estados Unidos respetar la soberanía de Venezuela.

El texto exalta la convicción democrática del pueblo venezolano y exige a los parlamentarios «desistir de todo tipo de políticas encubiertas de desestabilización, aprobadas por el Congreso, que buscan el cambio de régimen en Venezuela».

Más de 250 organizaciones sociales latinas de Estados Unidos participaron en este evento, que fue considerado por los activistas como la reunión más importante de latinos en el país norteamericano desde 1977.

«Esta resolución a favor de Venezuela tiene gran importancia, ya que es preparada por organizaciones de base de la comunidad latina en Estados Unidos que representan, entre otros movimientos sociales, a trabajadores, educadores, inmigrantes, campesinos e intelectuales», apuntó el Embajador de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela en Washington, Bernardo Álvarez.

«Esta fue una reunión global para definir la estrategia del movimiento latino en EEUU, así que es un honor que hayan invitado a Venezuela», enfatizó.

Destacados políticos de origen latino participaron su parte en las plenarias de la Convención, entre ellos, la representante federal Hilda Solís; el vice gobernador de California, Carlos Bustamante; el presidente de la Asamblea Legislativa de California, Fabián Nuñez; y el candidato a la gobernación de California, Phil Angelides.

También estuvieron presentes invitados no latinos, como la esposa del ex candidato presidencial John Kerry, Teresa Heinz Kerry.

«Se empieza a percibir que parte de la estrategia que ha sido aplicada en Venezuela por sectores del gobierno de Estados Unidos es copia del conflicto de baja intensidad aplicada a Centroamérica», afirmó el Embajador Alvarez.

Fuerza latina cobra voz

El mensaje de los funcionarios latinos durante la Convención se centró en que la fuerza numérica de la comunidad que representan en Estados Unidos tiene que traducirse en poder y acciones.

«Tu voto es tu voz» fue una frase que se repitió casi como consigna durante el encuentro.

«Nosotros aquí también estamos luchando. Queremos cambiar la política de los Estados Unidos para hacerla más igualitaria y devolver los derechos a los latinoamericanos. Este Congreso se hizo para decir: «esto» es lo que nosotros queremos, «ésta» es la visión…», explicó Ana Rizo, líder de Santa Bárbara, California.

El Congreso concluyó con la aprobación de 70 resoluciones relacionadas con temas fundamentales para los latinos que viven en Estados Unidos: inmigración, derecho al voto, reforma electoral, educación, ambiente, relación EEUU-Latinoamérica, entre otros.

Asimismo, se rechazó el bloqueo contra Cuba, los tratados de libre comercio firmados por algunos países latinoamericanos, el atropello en materia de inmigración, entre otros temas.

«Se decidió unánimemente a favor de una política de no intervención y respeto a la soberanía», según recalcó el presidente de la organización William Velásquez Institute y líder del Proyecto de Registro de Votantes del sur-oeste de California, Antonio González.

Según el Embajador venezolano, la Convención Nacional Latina «es el comienzo de un proceso que tiene como objetivo vincular la agenda política de los movimientos latinos en los Estados Unidos, con los movimientos sociales y la agenda de cambios que se desarrolla en América Latina».

«Para influir la política exterior de los Estados Unidos tiene que cambiarse la agenda política. La agenda política sólo la pueden cambiar los movimientos sociales en los Estados Unidos», sentenció Álvarez.

Bush set to be dealt embarrassing diplomatic bitch slap in vote for Venezuela to be on Security Council.

Sept. 14, 2006 -- President George W. Bush is scheduled to speak before the UN General Assembly next week. It will not be a happy occasion for Bush. He will be looking out on an assembly that will be poised to deliver the United States and Mr. Bush a humiliating defeat. The United States is losing in its effort to have Guatemala take over the Latin American seat on the UN Security Council. Venezuela is now favored to win the seat over the objections of US ambassador John Bolton, whose permanent nomination to be ambassador has been killed by the Senate for the current session, and the efforts of Guatemala's Foreign Minister and close Bush administration ally, Gert Rosenthal. Guatemala has among the worst human rights records in Latin America and its government is rife with evangelical fundamentalist Christians and Opus Dei Catholics. Its security services possess the latest in population surveillance technology thanks to Israeli companies like Tadiran.

Venezuela is piling up votes for the Security Council seat and the Bush administration has been powerless to stop President Hugo Chavez's and Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro's diplomatic juggernaut. In fact, Bolton's temperament at the UN has ensured that Venezuela's election to the Security Council is a "slam dunk." If Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and other U.S. Latin American allies are not able to reach a consensus among themselves by October 16 on whether Venezuela or Guatemala gets the seat, the vote will be decided by a two-thirds vote of the 192-member General Assembly, where Venezuela now has a lead. Not only has Venezuela lined up the votes of China and Russia, but as a result of the recent Non-Aligned Meeting in Havana, it can count on the support of a number of nations in the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East. Already, countries like Argentina, Brazil, Guyana, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Dominica, Cuba, Belize, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Grenada, Malaysia, Iran, Belarus, Ghana, Mali, Zimbabwe, Syria, and Papua New Guinea have publicly announced their support for Venezuela, while positive pro-Caracas statements have come from Chile, Angola, Myanmar, Vietnam, Qatar, Benin, and India.

UN Security Council: Waiting for Chavez. Bush set to be dealt embarrassing diplomatic bitch slap in vote for Venezuela to be on Security Council.

Meanwhile, the Bush State Department (the main anti-Venezuela point man is Eric Watnik), Paul Wolfowitz's World Bank, and the new breed of intrusive and bellicose U.S. ambassadors have been strong-arming various countries to support Guatemala over Venezuela -- even by threatening to withhold much-needed economic aid. Haiti and the Dominican Republic are two countries that have been warned by Washington not to vote for Venezuela "or else."

Guatemala can count on the votes of Bush administration allies, who are also supporting U.S. military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. They include Canada, Japan, Australia, Israel, Denmark, Poland, Albania, and the United Kingdom. But with the world increasingly seeing a vote for Venezuela as a slap at Bush, Venezuela will continue to gain supporters.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mexico’s popular revolt

An attempt to defraud the left candidate of victory in Mexico’s presidential elections has sparked the country’s biggest protest movement in generations, writes Ian MacDonald

Mexico was rocked by powerful revolts against neo-liberalism throughout the 1990s, and these struggles have continued into the 21st century. But until now none has succeeded in building a broad political movement that could challenge for power at a national level.

Armed insurrections in the countryside, trade union rebellions, the struggles for indigenous rights, the anti-privatisation and student strikes - each reached a plateau, gained either minimal or meaningless concessions from the state, and subsided.

Mexico’s left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) has been incapable of nurturing these struggles. In 1988 it swallowed the fraud that robbed its candidate of victory in the presidential elections, and since then the PRD has followed the contradictory course of most social democratic parties in the current period.

It has accepted neo-liberal policies, while attempting to present policy alternatives to its electoral base in the working class.

The result has been a steady erosion of internal party life and of working class electoral participation. The PRD wins a large share of its votes on the basis of respect for particular candidates or because it is seen as the “least bad” option.

If the current PRD presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (known as Amlo) had been announced as winner in the 2 July elections, this scenario would probably have changed little.

As mayor of the capital, Mexico City, Amlo practised “neo-liberalism from below”, while retaining his left base and a popularity rating that never dipped below 60 percent.

During the elections, he performed the delicate act of running a centre-left campaign domestically while assuring the international press and markets that his “alternative nation building project” did not entail a departure from neo-liberalism. He won sympathetic coverage in the Financial Times and the New York Times during his campaign.

If there was a political leader in Mexico who seemed to promise effective rule combined with neo-liberal continuity, it was Amlo.

However the Mexican ruling class thought differently. It views Obrador, and his working class and peasant supporters, with a fear and hatred that recalls the reaction of the Venezuelan elite to the rise of radical president Hugo Chavez.

Through its clumsy political interventions it has now closed the possibility of stable neo-liberal rule in Mexico for the foreseeable future.

Attempts by the Mexican elite to discredit and smear Amlo politically during the year leading up to the elections, to disqualify him from running and ultimately - as almost half the country believes - to defraud him of electoral victory, have changed everything.

There is now a major political upheaval as a movement demands honest elections and an end to the neo-liberal model. Organisers of this movement say the country has not seen anything on this scale since the nationalisation of petroleum in the 1930s. It is broader and more promising than the student-led democracy movement of 1968.

Mexico in motion

This radicalisation is both political and social. The political crisis has developed rapidly - moving from a demand for legitimate elections to demands that call the constitution and the whole legal system into question.

The decisive shift took place on 28 August when the country’s electoral tribunal refused to call for a full recount of the votes. In the first count, Felipe Calderon of the right wing party PAN came out ahead by 244,000 votes.

The tribunal ruled for a partial recount of 9 percent of the votes, which found, even in this limited sample, that over 230,000 ballots had to be disqualified. Despite this Calderon was declared president.

Instead of the tribunal lending its legitimacy to the vote, the illegitimacy of the vote tainted the tribunal.

Amlo called a national democratic convention, set for this Saturday, to be held in Mexico City’s central square, the Zocalo. Up to a million delegates will invoke article 39 of the Mexican constitution and return all political authority to the people.

The political crisis would not have developed this rapidly were it not for the social crisis produced by neo-liberalism. The PRD’s talk of “macroeconomic stability” has gone, replaced by condemnations of neo-liberalism and promises of a redistribution of wealth.

When participants in the massive assemblies and demonstrations are asked why they take part, they invariably mention both electoral fraud and economic inequality. Mexico has the fourth largest number of billionaires in the world while half its workers earn less than £4.50 a day.

By taking his campaign onto the streets, Amlo has opened the door to all of the social movements which have emerged to challenge neo-liberalism. In the early days of the recount mobilisations, after the protests reached the million mark, a decision was made to occupy the Zocalo and Avenida Reforma - Mexico City’s main thoroughfare, where many of the city’s luxury hotels and corporate headquarters are located.

Encampments stretch for seven miles and include living, meeting and concert spaces, communal kitchens and recreational areas. On weekends and evenings especially, the encampments become mass forums for discussing all aspects of Mexican politics and the next steps for the movement.

Amlo recognises the need to pull Mexico’s movements on board, and his politics have shifted accordingly. By early August, he was slamming the country’s rich and vowing to create a “cradle to grave” welfare state.

Peasant organisations support him because he offers democracy and aid to the countryside. Public sector workers support him for democracy, more social spending and a halt to all privatisations. Old people support him for democracy and pensions.

Women’s groups have raised the demand for reproductive rights. Indigenous peoples are organising for the convention, and will be demanding autonomy for their communities. Gays and lesbians will propose legislative changes to gain equal rights.

The tension in Mexico continued to build in early September with no sign of either the movement or the ruling class backing down. Speculation that the parliamentary wing of the PRD would soon break with Amlo was dispelled on 1 September, when PRD representatives stormed the podium in Congress to prevent outgoing president Vicente Fox from giving his annual address to the nation.


Police forces shut down a large working class section of the city surrounding the Congress, expecting that it would be the movement that would attempt to prevent the address.

In the Zocalo, Amlo argued that the state would use the moment to justify repression of the movement, and asked protesters to remain in the square.

The important thing, he said, was to continue building for the convention and not fall for provocations. The question was put to the assembly, and his position was agreed by consensus. It was a remarkable display of a disciplined movement thinking strategically on its feet.

Back in the encampments, thousands gathered around television sets tuned in to the events in Congress. When Fox was forced to retreat, a mere seven minutes after arriving, they erupted in celebration of what they consider to be their first victory.

By its actions, the PRD has gone some way to re-establish its credibility. Amlo has demonstrated his ability both to keep the parliamentary party on board, and, once again, to out-fox Fox. That night new slogans emerged from the encampments: “Fox has fallen, Felipe will fall”, “Not one step backwards”.

There is a whole series of such moments lying ahead in September and the following months.

On Friday of this week, Fox is scheduled to give another address to the nation, this time in the Zocalo. On Saturday, the date of the convention, the army customarily marches through the streets now covered by the encampments. Calderon is set to be officially sworn in as president on 1 December.

The constitutionality of each moment will be contested by the movement. After the weekend, if not already, Mexico will have two political powers - a right wing neo-liberal government that talks of further privatisations, and a rebel left government, of some form, which will be launched by the convention.

Workers’ struggles hold the key to the future

Historically in Mexico, movements such as these have been dealt with by applying selective repression, coming to a negotiated arrangement with the leadership, and afterwards slowly pushing through either democratic or social reforms. This was the strategy successfully applied in 1968 and 1988. There are reasons to doubt that this will be viable in the current context.

Repression will be difficult to apply. Both Amlo and Fox appeal to the army on a regular basis. It is said that the army is split and cannot be relied upon to repress such a broad citizens’ movement. The city police sympathise with the movement and are under the command of a PRD mayor.

This leaves the federal police force and newly forming paramilitary units, which could only be deployed at the cost of massive political damage to whoever uses them. Both the movement and the state recognise that the first to shoot, loses.

Until now, Amlo has refused to even acknowledge Calderon, much less negotiate with him. The extent of negotiations between PRD leaders and PAN is unclear. Amlo himself is being given very little space to reach a negotiated solution, and has so far refused to back down.

Calderon and PAN are talking of political reforms and increased social spending, but while the movement is still on the streets these will be perceived as concessions or derided as too little, too late. The current strategy of the right appears to be simply to wait for the movement to exhaust itself.

The movement is regionally uneven, concentrated in Mexico City. In the southern state of Oaxaca, an economic strike has turned political. Teachers, among the most militant sectors of the Mexican working class, have formed a broad labour front and taken power in some parts of the state.

Throughout Mexico, miners are engaged in militant struggle with the state. Neither strike movement has yet effectively connected with the movement in Mexico City. The same is true of the Zapatistas, who ran an ambiguously abstentionist “Other Campaign” during the elections, and hence will have to figure out how to intervene in the new moment.

Their best known spokesperson, Subcomandante Marcos, who is currently living in Mexico City, has yet to comment on the movement there. The huge concentrations of industrial workers in the northern states that border the US remain quiet. All of this could change very quickly.

More seriously, organised political forces to the left of the PRD are still weak. The PRD will be unable to carry this movement forward. In the encampments the question of organisation is being posed but left regroupment will take time.

The situation in Mexico is very fluid and a variety of scenarios are possible. But it is beyond doubt that the left tide rising from Latin America is now heading north.

Ian MacDonald is a postgraduate student at York University, Toronto, Canada