Bravo, National Rifle Association! On October 20, 2005, Congress caved to the organization's relentless pressure and voted to pass the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" - a piece of lobbying, er, legislation designed to shield firearms manufacturers and dealers from liability lawsuits stemming from the use of their weapons in crimes. On October 26, President Bush signed the bill into law. In the words of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, "freedom, truth, and justice prevailed" with the passage of the bill; the NRA "scored "an historic victory," "protected the sanctity of the Second Amendment," and "saved the American firearms industry," which, goodness knows, is right up there with children and whales as a worthwhile cause. "Save the guns;" now there's a slogan.
Thousands gathered at the Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina on November 4th to protest the presence of George W. Bush and his free trade agenda. Activists, along with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, vociferously rejected any U.S. free trade plans for the region as they believed such policies facilitate corporate exploitation. As an alternative, they advocated for a people-oriented trade block among progressive Latin American governments.
"The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) doesn´t seem like something that will help Argentina," explained 62 year old Betti Cruz, a member of the leftist Peronist political party, Barrios del Pie. "I run a food kitchen and see everyday how these policies of free trade are hurting the poor more and more."
In response to overwhelming evidence that the US Army School of the Americas has trained Latin American military personnel in civilian-targeted terrorism, representatives of the school have come up with numerous creative excuses and denials. Perhaps the most commonly used argument is that the hundreds of SOA graduates who have become dictators and gross human rights violators are only "a few bad apples" out of the thousands who have graduated from the school. A brief overview of the involvement of SOA graduates in the most brutal period of Guatemala's counterinsurgency war shows that they were more than a few bad apples. As is the case in most Latin American countries which have terrorized their civilian populations, the intellectual authors of systematic repression and the most brutal terrorists are graduates of the SOA.
For more than four years, the public has repeatedly been urged to ignore "outrageous" conspiracy theories about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that set in motion the so-called "war on terrorism." However, the official explanation that has been provided - and widely embraced - also requires the acceptance of a theory, one involving a massive intelligence failure, 19 Muslim hijackers under the sway of Osama bin Laden, and the inability of the world's most advanced Air Force to intercept four commercial airplanes.
Preparations are underway for renewed US militarization and intervention in Latin America. To protect its own hegemony and economic interests, the US government is using the threat of terrorism as an excuse for military operations aimed at destabilizing leftist movements and governments and securing natural resources such as oil and gas.
By focusing on social programs in education, land reform and healthcare, many of the region's new leaders have put the needs of the people ahead of the demands of multinational companies. This leftist resurgence makes corporate investors and other harbingers of the free market nervous. Recently, the Bush administration has gone to extreme measures to ensure that this leftist trend is put in check.