Coup in Honduras; FASINPAT; Renegotiate NAFTA; UNASUR Nations; Plan Puebla Panama; Swine Flu Cover-Up
This Week in the Americas
The coup in Honduras, for all the suffering and concern it has caused, has spurred millions to defend democracy in the hemisphere. I write about this in a recent blog post titled "Honduran Coup Squeezed from Above and Below," which details some of the actions within Honduras to resist the coup, organize for a constitutional assembly, and boycott the upcoming elections as long as the de facto regime remains in power. Through both spontaneous actions and an explicit decision of the National Front Against the Coup, resistance groups have come together and consolidated efforts beyond Tegucigalpa into all corners of the country and all sectors of society—women, farmers, Afro-Hondurans, workers, indigenous peoples. This is the "from below" story, and although it’s complicated and in some cases tragic what is happening to the Honduran people, the story is an inspiring one as well.
From above, the Obama administration moved forward a few small steps on increasing pressure on the coup. Still pending an official coup designation—an inexplicable omission in legal and moral terms—the administration cut off some previously suspended USAID support and $11 million from the Millennium Challenge Fund. Then, as if sending mixed messages were the official policy these days, the military decided to invite the coup-aligned Honduran Armed Forces to participate in the PANAMAX exercises this week. Also the aid terminated is but a small portion of aid that has gone to the coup and continues to flow through the pipelines.
The battle to oust the illegal regime is far from over. Grassroots organizations in the United States have mobilized to support Honduran efforts for democracy. Lisa Sullivan of School of the Americas Watch is now touring major U.S. cities (see schedule here http://soaw.org/article.php?id=1750) and Rights Action will also be touring in October (more information at firstname.lastname@example.org). I strongly recommend attending these events in your cities, to learn about what the press is not reporting and find ways to support democracy in our hemisphere.
WHAT’S NEW ON AMERICAS PROGRAM BLOGS:
Americas Program Blog: http://americasmexico.blogspot.com/
Coup Squeezed from Above and Below
To Defend Democracy, U.S. Government Must Condemn Honduran Coup
Border Lines Blog: http://borderlinesblog.blogspot.com
El Paso: Where Homeland Security Meets National Security
Fostering a "Homeland Security" Culture
Homeland Security Doctors Now Care for Private Sector
New from the Americas Program
The workers at Argentina’s largest worker-controlled factory are celebrating a definitive legal solution to a nine-year struggle for the right to work and workers’ self-determination. The provincial legislature of Neuquén voted in favor of expropriating the Zanon ceramics factory giving the workers’ cooperative FASINPAT the right to manage the plant definitively. Since the workers occupied Zanon in 2001, they have successfully set up a system of workers’ management, created jobs, duplicated production of ceramics, supported community projects, and spearheaded a network of over 200 recuperated enterprises. Zanon, renamed FASINPAT or Factory Without a Boss, can now continue production without threat of eviction from their factory.
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At President Obama’s first North American Summit in August, the leaders of the three nations avoided any mention of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or its offshoot, the Security and Prosperity Partnership, in their joint statement. Although the trade pact was the origin of these annual meetings, the negative results of NAFTA have made it more of an embarrassment than a political asset.
North American leaders may wish to distance themselves from the obvious failure of NAFTA to better the lives of their citizens, but Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. citizens continue to press for a comprehensive review and renegotiation. This article explains why that task is more urgent than ever in today’s global crisis.
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On Aug. 28, 10 South American presidents gathered at the luxurious Llao Llao hotel in the Patagonian ski resort of Bariloche, Argentina. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner called the special meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to discuss the provisional U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement. This agreement, if signed, will facilitate "U.S. access to three Colombian air force bases, […] two naval bases, and two army installations, and other Colombian military facilities."
It is unclear what the UNASUR countries can actually do to stop or influence an agreement between the U.S. government and Colombia. Whatever the influence on the current proposed agreement, the Pentagon and the State Department are now more aware than ever of neighboring countries’ sensitivity to bilateral defense pacts with Colombia. UNASUR has also requested direct communication with President Obama. If granted, such dialogue will bring that same awareness to the new commander-in-chief himself. This could begin a dialogue leading to better, more cooperative mechanisms for designing any future military agreements between the United States and South America.
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At the "IX Tuxtla Summit," held July 24 in Costa Rica, the regional heads of state, plus the Dominican Republic and Colombia agreed to continue with the integration plan that includes infrastructure mega-projects to make the region more "competitive" within the framework of neoliberal globalization, or the "Washington consensus." This framework has been rejected by many experts and communities, given the global financial crisis that it has provoked and the grave impacts of accelerated inequality, the displacement of local communities, and environmental destruction.
The infamous Pan Puebla Panama is the basis for the Tuxtla Summits, though it was recently renamed the Mesoamerican Integration and Development Project. This project lays the foundation not only for regional economic and infrastructure integration but also acts as a revitalizing force for the failed Free Trade Area of the Americas. These projects are oriented toward integration into the global economy at the expense of local communities. It is a model that offers optimal conditions for foreign capital and investment, while eroding local communities and real sustainable development.
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Mexico has been considered the laboratory of globalization since it initiated the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. In April of 2009 a deadly virus germinated in that laboratory, finding ideal conditions to move quickly into a global pandemic.
The first outbreaks of the new swine flu were discovered in a small town in the state of Veracruz. Carroll Farms, the massive industrial farm animal production facilities co-owned by Smithfield Foods and AHMSA of Mexico is located near La Gloria, in the municipality of Perote. A Carroll Farms representative called the fact that the first swine flu case was located within a few miles of the pig farm "an unfortunate coincidence." To reinforce the "coincidence" thesis, international health authorities renamed the outbreak the "H1N1 human flu" and began a concerted effort to hide the swine role. Scientists agree that the virus does in fact contain a swine component and that its predecessor viruses mutated in a livestock facility…
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