President Hugo Chavez
Americas

Venezuelan President Chavez’s Speech to the United Nations

Your Excellencies, friends, good afternoon. The original purpose of this meeting has been completely distorted. The imposed center of debate has been a so-called reform process that overshadows the most urgent issues, what the peoples of the world claim with urgency: the adoption of measures that deal with the real problems that block and sabotage the efforts made by our countries for real development and life. Five years after the Millennium Summit, the harsh reality is that the great majority of estimated goals - which were very modest indeed - will not be met. We pretended reducing by half the 842 million hungry people by the year 2015. At the current rate that goal will be achieved by the year 2215. Who in this audience will be there to celebrate it? That is only if the human race is able to survive the destruction that threats our natural environment. We had claimed the aspiration of achieving universal primary education by the year 2015. At the current rate that goal will be reached after the year 2100. Let us prepare, then, to celebrate it.

US Flag with Logos
Americas

America the Greatest?

In a speech at the Republican National Convention in 2004, President Bush referred to the United States as "the greatest country in the world". Certainly this is a sentiment that many Americans share, but what kind of objective basis is there behind the statement? It's time to take a closer look. Do we make the pronouncement because we are the wealthiest nation in the world? Based on Gross Domestic Product per capita, in 2003 we were not first but fourth. Luxembourg at $43,940 was considerably ahead of the US ($36,000) by a 17% margin. Norway and Switzerland were in between. Most of us believe we have the highest standard of living in the world. But according to the UN Human Development Report of 2004, their list of the world's most livable countries show the US in eighth place, four places behind Canada, and trailing Norway and Sweden in first and second place.

Paraguayan Base
Americas

U.S. Military in Paraguay Prepares to “Spread Democracy”

Controversy is raging in Paraguay, where the U.S. military is conducting secretive operations. 500 U.S. troops arrived in the country on July 1st with planes, weapons and ammunition. Eyewitness reports prove that an airbase exists in Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay, which is 200 kilometers from the border with Bolivia and may be utilized by the U.S. military. Officials in Paraguay claim the military operations are routine humanitarian efforts and deny that any plans are underway for a U.S. base. Yet human rights groups in the area are deeply worried. White House officials are using rhetoric about terrorist threats in the tri-border region (where Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet) in order to build their case for military operations, in many ways reminiscent to the build up to the invasion of Iraq. (1) The tri-border area is home to the Guarani Aquifer, one of the world's largest reserves of water. Near the Estigarribia airbase are Bolivia's natural gas reserves, the second largest in Latin America. Political analysts believe U.S. operations in Paraguay are part of a preventative war to control these natural resources and suppress social uprisings in Bolivia.

No Picture
Americas

The Wholesale Looting of the Gulf Coast

If you are more interested in and disgusted by rumors of civilian "troublemakers" on the streets of New Orleans and other Gulf Coastal communities than in the massive failings of the United States government before, during and since this tragedy began, consider a career in journalism.

The real criminals are sitting in positions of authority: the president, the director of FEMA, and the hundreds of congresspersons cutting their excessive vacations short to pat one another on the back as they pass emergency funding provisions for the hardly-operative relief efforts centered in Louisiana and Mississippi.

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Americas

Gold Mine in Guatemala Faces Indigenous Resistance

Indigenous communities in the western highlands of Guatemala who are organizing against an illegal gold mine in the face of violence and repression are beginning to see the fruits of their labor. The Canadian/U.S. mining company Glamis Gold operates the World Bank funded project. Construction of the open-pit gold mine is nearly complete, with the company eager to start the drilling. Local community members claim the World Bank and Glamis Gold violated international law when they failed to consult them and gain their consent for the "Marlin" mine project. Yet Glamis counters that it consulted with the community, that the project has broad support and that international NGO's and a few individuals are solely responsible for orchestrating the "small" opposition to the mine.

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Americas

Keys to Understanding Bolivia: An Interview with Oscar Olivera

Win the elections and arrive at a Constitutional Assembly that changes the roots of the power structure in Bolivia: such is the proposal of Oscar Olivera, a leader of the country's recent social struggles. He supports, with much criticism, Evo Morales' bid for presidency. "It's important to avoid a transition with deaths," he said, although suggested that the crisis will be defined by force. The conflict with Evo in an assembly I attended, demonstrated how, in this climate, the present and future is decided. It is ten o'clock in the morning and in Cochabamba, Bolivia it is the hour to decide the future. On the second floor of the Federacion de Fabriles (the National Fabric Workers Union) there are some two hundred men and a handful of women listening attentively to the words of Evo Morales. Meanwhile, voices from the streets reach the meeting, repeating this phrase: "the people united…"