31 August 2017


Secretary-General Appoints Horst Köhler of Germany Personal Envoy for Western Sahara

Secretary-General António Guterres announced today the appointment of Horst Köhler, former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara.

The new Personal Envoy succeeds Christopher Ross of the United States who completed his assignment on 30 April 2017. The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. Ross’ tireless efforts and dedication to facilitate negotiations between the parties in order to achieve a just, durable and mutually acceptable political solution, which would provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

Mr. Köhler brings more than 35 years of experience in Government and international organizations, including as President of the Federal Republic of Germany (2004-2010), Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, D.C. (2000-2004), and President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London (1998-2000). Mr. Köhler also served as State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance (1990-1993) before being appointed President of the German Savings Bank Association (1993).

Mr. Köhler graduated from the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Germany, with a diploma in public economics and political sciences in 1969. He also obtained his doctorate degree in economics in 1977 and has been an Honorary Professor at the University of Tübingen since 2003.

Born in 1943, Mr. Köhler is married and has two children.

30 August 2017

POLISARIO demands immediate implementation of UNSC recent resolution on Sahrawi issue

Boumerdes, August 23, 2017 (SPS) - The President of the Republic, Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO, Mr. Brahim Gali, called on the UN Security Council to implement the latest resolution No 2351 concerning the Sahrawi issue.

Gali insisted on the need for the immediate implementation of the recent UN Security Council resolution, particularly with regard to resuming the direct negotiations between the parties to the conflict, the Frente POLISARIO and the Kingdom of Morocco and addressing the problems resulting from the blatant Moroccan breach of the Military Agreement No. 1 and ceasefire Agreement in the Guergarat region.

" UN is responsible for the decolonization of the last colony in Africa and for the implementation of the 1991 African Union settlement plan, which calls for the organization of a referendum to determine the fate of the Saharawi people," he said in his speech during the closing ceremony of POLISARIO and SADR officials Summer University.

President voiced the willingness of the Saharawi party to cooperate with international efforts on this basis , went on "We hope that the oppointment of former German President Horst Koehler as the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Western Sahara is a good opportunity to accelerate the implementation of that mission,"

On the other hand, SG of POLISARIO reiterated the responsibility of the Spanish state for its colony of Western Sahara, a responsibility that will remain in place unless the conflict ends by enabling the Saharawi people to exercise their right to self-determination and independence.

It is important to emphasize the responsibility of the French state, which, unfortunately, has adopted a biased and supportive attitude towards the Moroccan colonial thesis over decades. It should take a position consistent with France's status as a platform for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as UNSC permanent member to achieve security, justice, peace, stability and respect for international legitimacy and international humanitarian law in the region and the world. 

27 August 2017

International Day Against Nuclear Tests 29 August

Also read:

French Polynesia Opposition Says French Nuke Testing Was 'Crime Against Humanity'

Licorne test, 1971, French Polynesia. Photo: The Official CTBTO Photostream
Licorne test, 1971, French Polynesia. Photo: The Official CTBTO Photostream

Since nuclear weapons testing began on 16 July 1945, nearly 2,000 have taken place. Early on, having nuclear weapons was seen as a measure of scientific sophistication or military might, with little consideration given to the devastating effects of testing on human life, let alone the dangers of nuclear fallout from atmospheric tests. Hindsight and history have shown us the terrifying and tragic effects of nuclear weapons testing, especially when controlled conditions go awry, and in light of the far more powerful and destructive nuclear weapons that exist today.

The human and environmental tragedies that are the result of nuclear testing are compelling reasons for the need to observe the International Day against Nuclear Tests – a day in which educational events, activities and messages aim to capture the world’s attention and underscore the need for unified efforts to prevent further nuclear weapons testing.

The international instrument to put an end to all forms of nuclear testing is the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), unfortunately, this has yet to enter into force.


25 August 2017

On Day of Remembrance, UN says history of slave trade can help combat social injustice


Shackles used to bind slaves. UN Photo/Mark Garten

23 August 2017 – Remembering the universal demand for freedom that led to the 1791 insurrection by slaves in what is now Haiti, the head of the United Nations cultural and educational agency today marked the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition by underscoring the importance of teaching this history to young people.
“We are counting on the teaching of this history to place tomorrow's citizens on the path to peace and dignity,” said Irina Bokova, in a message to mark the Day, which is observed annually on 23 August.
Ms. Bokova is the Director-General of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which has played a leading role within the UN system in fostering understanding and recognition of the slave trade.
“Everyone must know the scale of the crime of the slave trade, the millions of lives broken and the impact on the fate of continents up to this very day. Everyone must be fully informed of the struggle that led to its abolition, so that together we can build societies that are fairer, and thus freer,” the senior UN official said.
She pointed to modern slavery and human trafficking, as well as ongoing social injustices, racism and racial discrimination, and said the legacy of the 1791 insurrection offer hope to eradicating those scourges.
Ignorance is our enemy: it is used as an alibi by the indifferent who state that 'we cannot change anything'UNESCO chief Irina Bokova
“Freedom of rights, hardwon by force, must be translated into real freedom through public policies that guarantee to people of African descent the full exercise of economic, social and political equality, and full and equal participation in society,” Ms. Bokova said.
“The 1791 uprising, like so many others across the world, shows us the way, but the path ahead is still long, she said, adding: “Ignorance is our enemy: it is used as an alibi by the indifferent who state that 'we cannot change anything,' and sanctions the lies of those who claim that 'they did not know.'”
Everyone, continued the UNECSCO chief, must know the scale of the crime of the slave trade, the millions of lives broken and the impact on the fate of continents up to this very day. “Everyone must be fully informed of the struggle that led to its abolition, so that together we can build societies that are fairer, and thus freer.”
To honour the history of the slave trade and its abolition, UNESCO earlier this year added to its World Heritage List the Mbanza Kongo, Vestiges of the Capital of the former Kingdom of Kongo (Angola) and the Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site (Brazil), as an acknowledgement of their “outstanding universal value.”
In 2015, the Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site was recognized as a site of memory associated with the UNESCO Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage. Recognition of this heritage is decisive in raising the awareness of the general public, educating young people and in the processes of conciliation and social cohesion.
The Slave Route project, established in 1994, consists of creating opportunities to promote mutual understanding and international reconciliation and stability through consultation and discussion. It also raises awareness, promotes debate and helps build consensus on approaches to be taken on addressing the issue of the slave trade and slavery.
This year, the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is also part of the International Decade for People of African Descent, which began in 2015, and seeks to help boost political commitments in favour of people of African descent.

24 August 2017


Leader of Government of St. Eustatius 
clarifies territory's position.

 Clyde van Putten about Plasterk’s visit
Open Letter

I have taken note of the statements made in the local and Dutch press by outgoing (Dutch) Minister Plasterk about his discussions with the Executive and Island Councils of Sint Eustatius during his farewell visit to the island on August 14th.

First of all, I would like to state that I was pleasantly surprised by the reconciliatory content and tone of Mr. Plasterk’s message during the meetings and in his press statements. I would like to think that this is due to the fact that Sint Eustatius has been countering and continues to counter the allegations and actions by the Dutch government with sound legal arguments and visible positive efforts towards improvements and progress for the entire island and its population under difficult circumstance.

That being said, I would like to rectify a number of false perceptions which Mr. Plasterk continues to create in his press statement.

Unlike Mr. Plasterk and his civil servants, who bluntly refuse to receive (members of) delegations to talk about certain topics because they don’t wish to be confronted and pointed to their misdeed, the government of Sint Eustatius has always been, and continues to be willing to have an open and frank dialogue with the government of the Netherlands about any subject. This has been reaffirmed in all Island Council motions and letters to the Dutch government, all of which are on public record.

Moreover, the government of Sint Eustatius in its letter of February 14th, 2017, was the one who first proposed to have said dialogue and who proposed a joint committee of wise men charged with preparing a round table conference between parties.

Mr. Plasterk then broke the agreements which were made between the coalition and his Secretary-General Mr. Van Zwol during two visits earlier this year, and confirmed to me directly by the latter, and decided to unilaterally appoint two persons to prepare an investigative report.

The “lack of communication, collaboration and respect” of which Mr. Plasterk speaks in his press statement is therefore solely applicable to him and his ministry. The Government of Sint Eustatius can certainly not be accused of this.

The same goes for: “sitting down and listening to each other, within the confines of the law and the context of our Constitution, to find ways to improve the lives of the people”, “… be polite, pragmatic, practical and willing to collaborate.”, “…work within the constitutional status they have right now and be constructive in that context.

While making this statement, Mr. Plasterk again purposely fails to mention a number of things. The first one is that the Dutch government, whenever it is convenient, arbitrarily ignores the same “our Constitution” in which the people of Sint Eustatius were place against their expressed wishes and therefore illegally. Examples are the $714.000 payment to KPMG without the approval of the Island Council and condoning the behavior of the acting Governor which conflicts what that same Constitution.

Secondly, the “Constitution” and related legislation clearly prescribe the rules and regulations regarding the appointment of Governors, including the role of the so-called vertrouwenscommissie. It is therefore unacceptable and incomprehensible that Mr. Plasterk has decided that the appointment will depend on the advice of the two “Wise Men”.

Thirdly, Mr. Plasterk continues to deliberately ignore the context of international law, being the UN Charter and relevant resolutions, which are superior to-, and therefore overrule “our Constitution” in cases of conflicts between the two legislative systems.

Fourthly, Mr. Plasterk should know that it is not “polite” to talk about Sint Eustatius and it’s Government in a derogatory manner in the press, in the Dutch Parliament, and on the island while visiting, instead of talking with the Government of Sint Eustatius.

Finally, I would like to correct Mr. Plasterk’s statements about the Plan of Approach (PoA). This Plan of Approach was not based on the Spies report. It was used as an excuse to impose higher supervision in June of 2015. Interestingly, Mr. Plasterk selectively “shops” around in the Spies report. The report contains many other recommendations benefitting the islands which Mr. Plasterk chose ignore, while only picking out the parts he wishes to use.

Furthermore, the Plan of Approach stalled because it was not needed nor realistic in the first place, because the process manager appointed by the Kingdom Representative did not function and suddenly disappeared from the island without notice or reason, and because the Dutch government failed to live up to its promise to fund the entire program.

Interestingly, those he same actions outlined in the PoA, when being implemented by the Government of Sint Eustatius independently, continue to be stagnated and stalled by the lack of cooperation on the side of the Kingdom Representative and BZK.

At the end of his meeting with the Island Council, which was recorded for future reference, Mr. Plasterk handed me his private phone number and asked me to contact him to talk.

I will comply with Mr. Plasterk’s request, and trust that he and his successor will be willing to dialogue, listen to-, and cooperate with the proposals of the Government of Sint Eustatius in order to structurally improve the relationship between parties and the lives of the people of Sint Eustatius.

Clyde I. van Putten
Leader of Government of St. Eustatius

23 August 2017

Guam wanted diplomacy, got wild statements

Image result for Guam

by Robert Underwood 

Robert Underwood is president of the University of Guam and Guam’s former delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives.

An old joke from childhood features a mother telling her son, “I told you a million times, don’t exaggerate!” Given fake news, alternative facts and the instantaneous nature of social media and news coverage, I suppose we should just get used to the fact that people exaggerate. This is a polite way of saying people lie.

President Donald Trump told Gov. Eddie Calvo he was behind us (Guam) 1,000 percent, in an effort to reassure us the U.S. has our back. This was after Kim Jung Un responded to Trump’s “fire and fury” comment with a specific threat on our island. Later in the conversation, Trump told the governor our tourism would go up tenfold, which is another way of saying 1,000 percent.

This is 2,000 percent worth of overstatement designed to make us feel good. Imagine if the conversation had gone four minutes.

The problem is these are mathematical impossibilities. While some say these things in ordinary conversation, it seems less dignified for a president to say them. Sure, there is banter and overstatement. But when wild statements are repeated, the wildness overtakes everything else. If the head of a government or business consistently spoke this way, it would create instability.

It was inevitable the conversation would become an object of humor. This isn’t because what we are experiencing is funny. It’s because the wild exaggeration about increasing tourism was silly.

Having people come to Guam to report on impending doom is not the right kind of attention getter. It was featured in cartoons saying Guam is a “blast.” Some pundit’s conversations referred to it, not because reassuring Guam is a joke, but because the exaggerated statement overwhelmed the seriousness of the moment.

Words do matter. Tone does matter.

Some people have found comfort in those words. Others sigh and say this is how Trump treats all people. A few have become enraged at the cavalier treatment of our island.

We wanted to hear diplomacy was at work and that armadas were on their way or already here. Many are tired of being the “tip of the spear,” especially when the person holding the spear uses wild language.

Kim makes wild statements all of the time. He uses language which may carry punch in Korean but seems bizarre in English. I heard the other day the U.S. is a lump and North Korea will turn it into jelly. I guess if we are wilder (fire and fury the likes of which has never been seen before), it tips the scale in our favor.

But Trump just praised Kim for his “wise decision” to stand down. Earlier this year Trump called Kim a “smart cookie.” I don’t know whether this is another exaggeration by Trump or he thinks Kim is really a wise man.

I am just glad we got through the week with no missiles. We will await next week’s exaggerations. In the meantime, enjoy the ride of international media attention. It could increase the value of your property tenfold. One fold would be sufficient.

I know the military understands the value of the property called Guam. Maybe we should start getting a relationship equal to our value.

20 August 2017

On Guam, Resistance Grows to US Military Presence

Logo for dark background

The front page of Guam’s Pacific Daily News reads "14 Minutes!" That’s how long it would take missiles fired from North Korea to reach the U.S. territory in the western Pacific if there is an escalation of the threat of nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea. On Thursday, Trump again threatened North Korea, saying if it were to carry out an attack on Guam, the U.S. would retaliate with military action. The Pentagon controls about a third of all the land on Guam, which is home to 163,000 people and a sprawling complex of U.S. military bases, including the Air Force base where many of the United States’ B-2 bombers take off from before flying over the Korean Peninsula. For decades, residents of Guam have resisted the militarization and colonization of their homeland by the United States, which has now put them in the crosshairs of a possible nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea. We go to Guam to speak with LisaLinda Natividad, president of the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice and a member of the Guam Commission on Decolonization, and with David Vine, author of "Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World."
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show on Guam, where the front page of the country’s Pacific Daily News paper reads "14 Minutes!" That’s how long it would take missiles fired from North Korea to reach the U.S. territory in the western Pacific if there’s an escalation of the threat of nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea.
In the last hour, President Donald Trump tweeted, quote, "Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!" unquote. On Thursday, Trump again threatened North Korea, saying if it were to carry out an attack on Guam, the U.S. would retaliate with military action, quote, "the likes of which nobody has seen before." This is Trump sparring with a reporter while speaking inside his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Let’s see what he does with Guam. He does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody’s seen before, what will happen in North Korea.
REPORTER: And when you say that, what do you mean? 
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You’ll see. You’ll see. And he’ll see. 
REPORTER: Is that a dare? 
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He will see. It’s not a dare, it’s a statement.
AMY GOODMAN: On Thursday, President Trump also said that maybe his threats earlier this week to attack North Korea with "fire and fury" weren’t tough enough. This is Trump being questioned by a reporter at a news conference at his golf resort in Bedminster.
REPORTER: Mr. President, the North Koreans said yesterday that your statement on Tuesday was "nonsense." That’s the word that they used. Do you have any response to that?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I don’t think they mean that. And I think they—it’s the first time they’ve heard it like they heard it. And frankly, the people that were questioning that statement—was it too tough? Maybe it wasn’t tough enough.
AMY GOODMAN: Trump’s threats of nuclear war drew condemnation from a number of U.S. lawmakers. More than 60 House Democrats urged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to de-escalate tensions, calling Trump’s words "belligerent" and "reckless." A group of Korean-American elected officials sent Trump a letter calling for diplomacy and dialogue. On Thursday, North Korea responded to Trump’s latest threats in a statement aired on state media.
KCTV NEWSREADER: [translated] The U.S. commander-in-chief, who is at a golf course again, let out a load of nonsense about "fire and fury," failing to realize the ongoing grave situation. We cannot have a sound dialogue with a senile man who can’t think rationally, and only absolute force can work on him.
AMY GOODMAN: North Korea also detailed its threat to strike Guam, saying it would launch four intermediate-range missiles in the waters off the U.S. territory.
KCTV NEWSREADER: [translated] The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the Korean People’s Army will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi prefectures of Japan, flying 3,356.7 kilometers for 1,065 seconds before hitting the waters 30 to 40 kilometers away from Guam.
AMY GOODMAN: The Pentagon controls about a third of all the land on Guam, which is home to 163,000 people and a sprawling complex of U.S. military bases, including the Air Force base where many of the United States’ B-2 bombers take off from before flying over the Korean Peninsula. For decades, residents of Guam have resisted the militarization and colonization of their homeland by the United States, which has now put them in the crosshairs of a possible nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea.
For more, we go to Guam via Democracy Now! video stream to speak with LisaLinda Natividad, president of the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice and a member of the Guam Commission on Decolonization. She’s also a professor at the University of Guam. In 2015, she visited North Korea as part of an international women’s delegation called Women Cross DMZ.
And here in the United States, in Chicopee, Massachusetts, we’re joined by David Vine, author of Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World. He’s an associate professor of anthropology at American University.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! LisaLinda Natividad, let’s begin with you. What is the atmosphere on Guam right now? How are people responding to this escalation between President Trump and North Korea?
LISALINDA NATIVIDAD: I think there’s two primary responses that our people are having. On the one hand, because of our hypermilitarized existence, particularly with the U.S. Department of Defense’s presence for—since 1898, there is, on the one hand, a sort of desensitization to the threat, and the buying into what we’re being told in terms of the island being safe. You know, our governor issued an announcement saying that there isn’t any imminent threat.
On the other hand, I’d say there’s just about an equal amount of people that are really growing increasingly angry as to how we’re being used as these pawns in this situation. Now, what most people don’t understand is that Guam during World War II was an active war zone for three years, occupied by the Japanese Imperial Army. And so, the experience of active war is something that’s very much a part of our being. And so, the second half of our population, I think, is very angry about how our colonial status puts us at this level of grave, grave risk.
AMY GOODMAN: David Vine, you’re the author of Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World. Can you talk about how the U.S. bases on Guam were established?
DAVID VINE: Sure. Guam was initially colonized by the Spanish Empire, and the United States acquired the island and occupied the island in the Spanish-American War of 1898 and almost immediately began to build up the island as a military base. The island was itself treated as a single military base. And the presence was relatively small until World War II. As LisaLinda mentioned, Guam was one of the few parts of the United States to suffer Japanese occupation for three long and painful years—and the violence of a U.S. attack to evict the Japanese, which led to widespread displacement. And what we saw after the war was the massive buildup of Guam into a major U.S. military force deployment center in the western Pacific, a base from which the United States could deploy forces throughout East Asia. And many in the U.S. military consider Guam, to this day, to be the most important base in the world, certainly one of the most important U.S. military bases in the world in the minds of U.S. military personnel and some outsiders.
AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about how many bases there are in the region in East Asia and then overall around the world?
DAVID VINE: Sure. The United States today possesses somewhere around 800 U.S. military bases outside the 50 states and Washington, D.C. And that’s a number that comes from a list that the Pentagon puts together periodically. Their total runs to around 700, but I’ve been able to detail scores of bases that are simply left off the list, many well-known bases, secretive bases. And the total is somewhere around 800 bases worldwide, in about 80 countries. This is an unprecedented collection of military bases on other people’s soil.
Now, it is incredibly important to point out that, of course, that Guam is U.S. soil; however, the U.S. military and others treat it as, effectively, a foreign country. One major general, speaking to reporters, said, "We can do what we want here." And essentially, the military has treated Guam and the people of Guam that way for decades now. Guam is a colony. People weren’t embarrassed in—people in Washington and in the 50 states weren’t embarrassed in past decades to call Guam a colony. Today it’s referred to as a territory, but it is a colonized territory. There’s a colonial relationship, and the people of Guam effectively have a kind of third-class citizenship. They can’t vote for president. They don’t have meaningful representation in Congress. People in D.C., where I live, have a kind of second-class citizenship, but at least we can vote for president. But the people of Guam have been left and maintained in this status of a colonial relationship with the rest of the United States and not given independence at the same time as—or incorporated into the United States as a state that would grant them the full democratic rights that other U.S. citizens enjoy.
AMY GOODMAN: LisaLinda Natividad, can you talk about how widespread the resistance is among people on Guam? Now, presumably, many are involved in the U.S. military, in the bases that are there, the naval base, the Andersen Air Force Base, etc.
LISALINDA NATIVIDAD: The widespread resistance on the island has been growing exponentially in the past decade, because in—I mean, while we have a long history, even for multiple decades, of resistance against the military’s presence on the island, in 2006, the U.S. entered into an accord with the government of Japan, agreeing to transfer 8,000 marines from Okinawa, as well as from South Korea, to our island. And so, as a result of that, it led to a major groundswell of resistance, largely because our current situation is already hypermilitarized, with about one-third of our island occupied by DOD. And so, what they were looking to do was to increase their land holdings to roughly 45 percent. And that expansionism continues to this day, not just with the original projections of that military buildup plan, but also with the acquisition of a lot of our sea space, and not just contained to Guam, but to our neighboring islands in the Marianas, such as the island of Tinian, as well as the island of Pagan, to be used for these live firing range complexes.
AMY GOODMAN: So, right now, as your newspaper headline says "14 Minutes!" how are people responding, in the peace community on Guam, those who are part of military bases? And how many who work at these bases—you know, the economy is so intertwined with the U.S. military—actually also feel very critical of the U.S. military presence there? And how does it compare, for example, to the resistance in Japan, in Okinawa, and places like that, or in the Philippines, that—where people actually threw out the U.S. military bases?
LISALINDA NATIVIDAD: Well, it’s—you know, Japan and Okinawa are sort of the gold standard in terms of resistance to U.S. militarism. They really are the front-line foot soldiers, if you will, of the peace movement, largely because they have huge population bases.
So, I’ll give you an example. In 2009, the Department of Defense released what was called a draft environmental impact statement of this planned military buildup for the island, and really, you know, it’s an expansion of their existing footprint. And in response to that, as part of the—not just the scoping process, but their collections of testimonies and what have you from our community, we responded with 10,000 testimonies in a population base of 160,000 people. That was unprecedented in U.S. DOD history. And they actually reported that number, and they also reported that that was unprecedented in their history for that kind of a community response. What’s very disheartening, however, is that regardless of this kind of mobilization, which ultimately resulted in our suing the Department of Defense on their plan to take a ancient, sacred village of ours called Pagat—and so, as a result of that, it delayed the buildup, because we were able to win that lawsuit. Unfortunately, since then, they have released new plans, and they, just in the last few weeks, have gotten the green light to go ahead and clear an additional 1,000 acres of land for purposes of this military expansion in the ancient village of Litekyan. So there’s this whole—I mean, these atrocities, it’s like one assault after the other.
You know, in terms of our ocean space, let me give you an example. In 2014, the Marianas Island training and testing range was also established. We outpoured. We resisted. It did make a difference. And ultimately, what has been the consequence of that is the establishment of a training range in the ocean and the sea and the skies of nearly a million square nautical miles. That’s larger than the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Montana and New Mexico, all combined, for this purpose. And just in the last month, they’ve announced an expansion even more so of this range. So, you know, the just insane, magnanimous nature of this expansionism has really just evoked a lot of heavy response in terms of anger, in terms of resurgence of the knowledge of our colonization and how this really has been what we’re—the price we’re paying because of our colonization by the U.S. government.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, the difference, of course, between the bases—U.S. bases in Japan and U.S. bases on Guam, where you are, LisaLinda, are that the—Guam, whether you like it or not, is a part of the United States, although you don’t get to vote for president of the United States. Talk about your political representation in Washington and what kind of voice you have as a U.S. territory.
LISALINDA NATIVIDAD: As a U.S. territory, we have one elected delegate locally who is a representative in U.S. Congress, in the House of Representatives. However, her—she has very limited participation in terms of the voting process. As a matter of fact, if her vote is a tiebreaker, her vote then becomes null and void. So, it really—this congressional delegate seat is really an illusion of inclusion in the political process of the—you know, of democracy. So there really isn’t—I mean, as much as there’s that one seat, it really doesn’t have very much bang in terms of representing us and our interests.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, LisaLinda, you went to North Korea. You crossed the Demilitarized Zone, is that right? The DMZ. Can you explain the significance of that, given what you’re in the midst of right now?
LISALINDA NATIVIDAD: You know, it was very significant. As a matter of fact, the whole process of the Women Cross DMZ really was a large statement. It was intended to be a large statement to the global community that we really need to engage North Korea with a different approach. And the different approach is exactly what the Korean group you were quoting earlier was talking about: deploying the use of diplomacy and discussions to be able to merge this gap of misunderstanding that seems to be happening at a global scale. So, the delegation was comprised of 30 women, two of whom were Nobel Peace Prize laureates. And our delegation was led by Ms. Gloria Steinem, who, as you know, is legendary. And so, it really was a stance that we were trying to make in terms of looking at the U.S.’s engagement with North Korea as—yes, with North Korea, as well as with the whole entire Asia-Pacific region, where—since its announcement of its strategy with the pivot, has really just—you know, with the intention to contain China, has cost so much, not only in terms of money, but in terms of lives, in terms of resources. And we just wanted to take a stand against that.
AMY GOODMAN: And how are people preparing right now on Guam for, well, what your newspaper has across the front page, "14 Minutes!"?
LISALINDA NATIVIDAD: You know, it’s a very mixed kind of response to these—to these latest claims, because, on the one hand, we’re being told we’re safe; we have the maximum amount of military preparation; with the THAAD in place, this is not going to be an issue; anything that comes flying our way will be taken down. But on the other hand, we know the realities of militarism and that THAAD systems are not—the technology has not evolved enough. And more importantly, again, it just creates this very flagrant example of our colonization and how our people, our Native people, the Chamorro people of Guam, are caught again, as you described earlier, in the crossfires of these geopolitical games.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me go to David Vine, author of Base Nation. David, speaking on Thursday, Japan said it’s ready to evacuate its citizens in the event of an attack by North Korea. The chief Cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, also said his country supports Trump’s position.
YOSHIHIDE SUGA: [translated] President Trump has said all options are on the table. We, as a government, welcome this stance. We believe it is extremely important for the Japan-U.S. alliance to strengthen its deterrent power and ability to respond.
AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman said North Korea would face a "firm response" if it launched an attack. This is Roh Jae-cheon, speaking Thursday.
ROH JAE-CHEON: [translated] Our military gives a stern warning to this. If North Korea conducts provocations in defiance of our military’s grave warning, it will confront the strong and firm response of our military and the U.S.-South Korea alliance.
AMY GOODMAN: You heard from people in Japan and in South Korea. Talk about the role of these—of U.S. bases in both of these places and, overall, your point, the subtitle of your book, How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World.
DAVID VINE: Sure, I think the words coming out of Seoul and Tokyo, like the words coming out of Washington and North Korea, for that matter, are a lot of macho posturing. I think gender is one of the underanalyzed dimensions of this escalating and profoundly scary moment.
But Guam is part of a constellation of U.S. military bases in the Pacific region. There are more than 200 bases between South Korea and Japan alone hosting U.S. forces. And there are yet more in Thailand, the Philippines and elsewhere in the region. And I think it’s worth listeners and others considering how the United States would feel if there was a single Chinese or North Korean or Russian base anywhere near U.S. borders. These U.S. bases are clearly meant to threaten.
The claim about U.S. bases overseas, for years, and the conventional wisdom in mainstream foreign policy discourse is that these are absolutely necessary to the defense and security of the United States and the world. Rarely has anyone provided evidence to show that these bases are keeping the peace and deterring allies. Quite to the contrary, I think this scary moment is an example of how bases can increase military tensions. Again, if the United States was faced with a foreign enemy with a base anywhere near U.S. borders, you’d see citizens, members of the government calling for a massive buildup of military force in response. The scariest moment of the Cold War, of course, was the Cuban missile crisis, when the Soviet Union installed a missile base in Cuba, only 90 miles from Florida.
So, I think this is, sadly, a good example of the folly of what is effectively a Cold War-era strategy to build up military bases and forces around the world, a strategy that has not been questioned since the end of the Cold War. These bases have been in place for decades, for going on 70 or more years in the bases that were built up and occupied during World War II. Of course, the base—and bases—in Guam have been occupied for more than a hundred years.
And we have not questioned the damage that these bases are doing to people who live near the bases, environmental damage, cultural damage, the displacement that’s taken place, as well as the damage that’s suffered by the rest of the United States as a result of this massive overspending on bases abroad. This is money running into the tens of billions of dollars we’re spending to maintain bases and troops abroad every year. We spend more money on bases and troops abroad than the entire budget of the State Department. This is money that could be used, of course, to better defend the United States in a variety of ways. It could be used better by the military, could be used better to defend U.S. military personnel, could be used to improve the security of U.S. citizens, education, healthcare, housing, a whole range of ways in which we could far better protect the security of the United States and not ramp up military tensions with other nations.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s a sad comment, LisaLinda Natividad, that it’s because of Guam and the bomb that people in the U.S., maybe some are first learning about the fact that there is this U.S. territory in the Pacific that is so central here. Your thoughts about how Guam is viewed, and what you’d like to see your island represent?
LISALINDA NATIVIDAD: You know, I often refer to Guam as America’s best-kept secret. And I say that because while the U.S. and its military’s justification for its massive military presence in—all over the world, as David has just described, it really claims to do so in the name of democracy, whereas, on Guahan, which is our Native name for our island, on our own island, democracy does not exist. You know, as a U.S. colony, it does not exist. We don’t have the right to vote for the president. We have limited representation in U.S. Congress. We have, I mean, a whole host of other slews of federal territorial policies that inhibit our ability to become self-sufficient. We don’t have standard U.S. social programs, for example, like unemployment insurance or Social Security Disability Insurance. And we only get about one-seventh of the funding that’s afforded to states. So, when you look at that, clearly there’s no democracy that exists here on these islands. And, you know, we really—the Native people here are kind of caught in this reality. And so, there’s also—just as there’s a growing resistance movement to the military presence here, there also is a count—an additional growing movement in terms of addressing our issue of colonization and resolving our political status issues.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both very much for being with us. LisaLinda Natividad is speaking to us from the island of Guam, a U.S. territory. The U.S. occupied Guam in 1898. She is a professor at the University of Guam, president of the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice, as well as a member of the Guam Commission for Decolonization, author of several articles. We’ll link to her article, "Fortress Guam: Resistance to US Military Mega-Buildup." And thanks so much to David Vine, joining us from Massachusetts, a professor at American University in Washington, D.C. His book, Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. Stay with us.

17 August 2017

Pudge Rodríguez: ¿Último puertorriqueño en Cooperstown?


COOPERSTOWN -- El antiguo receptor Iván Rodríguez, quien forma parte de la clase del 2017 del Salón de la Fama de Cooperstown, podría ser el último puertorriqueño que entre al recinto más sagrado del béisbol en los Estados Unidos.

Eso ocurriría si se concreta la intención de un grupo político de la isla que busca convertir a Puerto Rico en el estado #51 de Estados Unidos. Rodríguez es miembro de la comisión creada por el gobierno boricua para promover ante el congreso de la unión estadounidense la idea de la 'estadidad'. Un plan que básicamente haría desaparecer el concepto "puertorriqueño" como lo conocemos actualmente.

El sábado, durante un encuentro con la prensa en el centro deportivo Clark de Cooperstown, ESPN Digital preguntó a Rodríguez si estaba consciente de las consecuencias que enfrentaría Puerto Rico, en el aspecto deportivo, si pasara de ser un estado libre asociado para convertirse en un estado de Estados Unidos. El nuevo miembro del Salón de la Fama lució incómodo mientras defendía su posición política.

"Yo soy de Puerto Rico, soy latino, y lo que quiero es lo mejor para Puerto Rico. Amo y quiero a los tres millones de personas que viven en Puerto Rico y quiero lo mejor para cada uno de ellos. No soy ni de esta política política ni de aquella política", dijo Rodríguez.

"Yo soy Iván Rodríguez, que quiere lo mejor para Puerto Rico", agregó.

En junio pasado, los puertorriqueños votaron en un plebiscito para hacer saber al congreso de Estados Unidos el estatus que prefieren para la isla. Los ciudadanos pudieron elegir entre la estadidad, la independencia total o mantener el estatus de estado libre asociado, vigente desde hace seis décadas.

Pese a que la participación fue muy baja, apenas un 23 por ciento de los votantes registrados, un 97% de los que emitieron su sufragio optó por la estadidad en un proceso no vinculante que no obliga al congreso de Estados Unidos a refrendarlo.

En su condición política actual, Puerto Rico conserva una identidad deportiva propia, separada de Estados Unidos, que le permite, entre otras cosas, tener equipos nacionales en competencias internacionales, incluyendo el Clásico Mundial de Béisbol. De convertirse en estado, las cosas cambiarían.

"En realidad no pienso en lo que va a pasar. Lo que Puerto Rico está pidiendo es bien cuesta arriba, hay que aceptarlo, pero uno tiene que apoyarse y uno no puede pensar negativo, en la vida hay que pensar positivo."Iván Rodríguez

Rodríguez, un ganador de 13 Guantes de Oro, es el noveno pelotero latinoamericano electo al Salón de la Fama por su desempeño en las Grandes Ligas y el cuarto de Puerto Rico, una isla caribeña de poco más de nueve mil kilómetros cuadrados que ha aportado más de 300 jugadores a las ligas mayores desde que el lanzador Hiram Bithorn debutó con los Cachorros de Chicago en 1942.

"En realidad no pienso en lo que va a pasar. Lo que Puerto Rico está pidiendo es bien cuesta arriba, hay que aceptarlo, pero uno tiene que apoyarse y uno no puede pensar negativo, en la vida hay que pensar positivo", dijo Rodríguez sobre el cabildeo de la estadidad para Puerto Rico.

"Me siento orgulloso de ser puertorriqueño y quiero lo mejor para Puerto Rico y Latinoamérica, porque si voy a [República] Dominicana también, y me toca hacerlo, lo hago. Porque lo siento en el corazón", dijo.

"No es algo que cause un problema. No estoy aquí para causar problemas, sino para ayudar, hacer lo mejor que yo pueda.

"El apoyo que me dió Puerto Rico por 25 años en las ligas mayores, eso mismo quiero darle a ellos", agregó.
Rodríguez, quien entra al Salón de la Fama junto al inicialista Jeff Bagwell, el jardinero Tim Raines, el ex comisionado Bud Selig y el presidente de los Bravos de Atlanta, John Schuerholz, adelantó que hablará en español durante la ceremonia del domingo, pero descartó hacer referencia al proceso político que vive su país.

"El Salón de la Fama es una cosa y eso [el cabildeo por la estadidad] es otra cosa. Ustedes no pueden mezclar una cosa con la otra. Quiero ser claro: Esto no tiene que ver con lo otro. Yo estoy haciendo haciendo una cosa por el bien de Puerto Rico y desafortunadamente lo han tomado de una manera que no deberían tomarlo. Lo estoy haciendo de otra manera", dijo.

"No usaré un día tan importante en mi vida, que tiene que ver con béisbol, para hablar de otras cosas", dijo.

16 August 2017


"Assessing opportunities for enhanced integration of the associate members of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean"

Publication cover
Alexander, Dale - Corbin, Carlyle
UN symbol.:
57 p.
Studies and Perspectives – ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean
  • ECLAC Series


    As a preliminary phase of action in response to the ECLAC resolution which calls for greater inclusion of the associate members in the work of the Commission, this study sought to accomplish three outcomes. 
    Firstly, the study explored the common development challenges of the non-sovereign associate members (AMs) of ECLAC which served as impediments to the economic and social development of the AMs, and identified priorities which fostered and advanced their development aspirations. 
    Secondly, in light of the recent incremental changes in the political status that had occurred in many of those territories, affording them greater autonomy and freedom to independently engage with regional neighbours on issues of common interest, the study mapped strategic options that were available to enhance their level of integration with regional and international organizations active in the Caribbean subregion. 
    Moreover, the study documented the development mechanisms that could be leveraged to facilitate the continued development of the AMs, and proposed opportunities for enhanced collaboration through South-South cooperation and other collaborative mechanisms with neighbouring member States. 
    Finally, while acknowledging that the AMs shared common needs, including challenges related to climate change and natural hazard vulnerability, heavy reliance on fossil fuel, and limited institutional capacity, the study recognized that their individual circumstances were unique. 
    In that regard, the recommended actions took that into account, exploring options for the design of a strategy of programme support to accelerate their economic and social progress. Importantly, the study identified opportunities to further integrate the AMs into ECLAC’s programmes of development support.


    Abstract .-- Introduction .-- I. Associate membership within ECLAC .-- II. Common development needs and priorities .-- III. Regional integration and opportunities for enhanced collaboration .-- IV. Conclusions and recommendations for strategic intervention.

    15 August 2017



     By Manny Cruz - For Variety

    Guam Governor Eddie Calvo

    HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Gov. Eddie Calvo approved a letter addressed to the United Nations requesting a visiting mission by the United Nations, ahead of a U.N. Fourth Committee meeting in October.
    “Despite Guam’s being one of the 17 non-self-governing territories recognized by the United Nations, our administering power, the United States, has yet to facilitate a visiting mission to our island,” the letter reads. Calvo agreed to sign the document at a Commission on Decolonization meeting ...

    Commission members also requested the inclusion of an appendix detailing recent developments in the struggle for decolonization, such as a ruling by Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood of the District Court of Guam, in favor of Arnold “Dave” Davis, which deemed the island’s prospective plebiscite unconstitutional; and the subsequent appeal by Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson.

    “While the court ruling currently hinders the ability of the native inhabitants of Guam to conduct a plebiscite on the island’s political status, we feel a visiting mission will draw attention to Guam’s current obstacles in achieving self-government,” the letter further states.

    The Fourth Committee of the U.N. meets each October to take up the issue of the non-self-governing territories. Commission members encouraged Calvo to attend this year’s meeting to emphasize the island’s request for such a mission.

    “This year is important because there is certain language in the Guam resolution which is far more critical about the U.S. militarizing Guam and interfering with the process of decolonization through the Davis case,” said commission member Michael Bevacqua. “It is important that we use that language to build a strong case for more international engagement about Guam, and in particular convince the U.N. to send a visiting mission to Guam to help expose our plight to the rest of the world.”

    Calvo likewise expressed a desire to expedite the sending of the letter, so that international processes of approval can begin “as soon as possible,” he said.

    “He’s planting an important seed,” said commission member Victoria Leon Guerrero.

    The Commission on Decolonization also discussed the possibility of the creation of a curriculum writer position to spearhead efforts to bring political status education to Guam Department of Education classrooms as Guam edges closer to a long-delayed vote on self-determination.

    “A DOE curriculum wouldn’t be too difficult to create, since all of the information is already there,” commission member Lisa Natividad said. “But we need someone who can compile and adapt the data to suit the needs of different grade levels.”

    13 August 2017


    Michael Lujan Bevacqua 

    The U.S. flag can be found all over Guam. It can be easy to forget that just because this well-known configuration of red, white and blue colors flies over Guam, it doesn’t mean Guam is a part of the United States.

    We know this because there is over a century of court cases that reinforce this. We know this because even in the recent ruling of the Davis case, Justice Francis Tydingco-Gatewood argued while some of the Constitution should apply to Guam, other parts shouldn’t.

    We also know this because as more than one non-voting delegate has reminded me, their role in Congress is often to remind Congress about the territories and its control over them.

    We know our relationship to the U.S. and the rest of the world is defined by a broad, gray sea of inclusions and exclusions. Sometimes Guam is allowed to participate in international or regional forums, sometimes it isn’t. The same ambiguity persists at the national level.

    Because of this lack of a formal or stable place within the international or national systems of governance and recognition, the concept of solidarity is of critical importance. Without a formal place, you are invisible, without direct power over the structure around you. There are ways you can fight for power, but solidarity is an important part of changing your invisibility or your lack of visibility, and therefore lack of relevance of standing, into something different, something more strategic — something from which a campaign to change political structure can be launched.

    As the movement for decolonization and independence grows, it’s important we find ways to connect it to other similar movements that can offer lessons or inspirations. This was the case in the past, when members of Nasion Chamoru or Organization of People for Indigenous Rights achieved a greater sense of their place in the world through interacting with people who were members of Black, Brown and Red Power movements in the U.S. It was also true in general from Chamorros who traveled to the U.S. in postwar years and felt affinity with African-Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans.

    Ignored by world

    My last three appearances at the United Nations to testify before the Committee of 24 have reminded me of the importance of solidarity. Those of us who remain colonies, non-self-governing territories, the pieces that still don’t quite fit in the global order, we are often forgotten or ignored by much of the world, including our own colonizers.

    Solidarity can be difficult, as our experiences are so diverse and the geographic distance mirrors historical, cultural and political differences between the 17 colonies spread across the Pacific, Caribbean and Atlantic. But the colonies that come to the United Nations and build alliances with nations willing to support their cause can make progress. Those who don’t remain stuck.

    This week, Gov. Eddie Calvo and the Commission on Decolonization approved a formal letter to the U.N., requesting it send a visiting mission to Guam to ascertain the status of our quest for decolonization and make clear what impediments the administering power is placing before us.

    I offer my thanks to the commission and Calvo for taking this important step in helping build greater international solidarity to support our efforts.