Sunday, November 29, 2009

Trumka: Free Elections not possible in Honduras

The Obama Administration fails the test of democracy.

Trumka: Free Elections Not Possible Now in Honduras
Posted By James Parks On November 16, 2009 (2:26 pm) In Legislation & Politics

The continued repression of trade unionists by the regime set up in Honduras after a June 28 coup makes it impossible to hold free and fair elections, says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a Nov. 13 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Trumka points out that delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention in September passed a resolution calling on the U.S. government to suspend military aid to Honduras until President Manuel Zelaya, the democratically elected leader, is returned to office and human and trade union rights have been restored.

Click here to read the convention resolution on Honduras and here to read Trumka's letter.

With an illegitimate government in power, scheduled elections later this month cannot be fair, free and open, Trumka says.

The New York Times
November 26, 2009

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The United States risks souring
relations with much of Latin America if it recognizes a
presidential election in Honduras on Sunday, the
foreign policy adviser to President Luiz Inácio Lula da
Silva of Brazil said in an interview on Wednesday.

The de facto leader of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti,
has said he hopes the election will end a political
crisis that began when soldiers placed President Manuel
Zelaya on an airplane and sent him into exile on June

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mexico's Government attacks unions

The U.S. and the Mexican economy are closely linked – and this integration has been advanced by the NAFTA/ North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994.   ( See, The Global Class War: How America’s Bipartisan Elite Lost our Future- and What it Will take to Get it Back. 2006.  Jeff Faux.)

The  2008- 2009 banking  crisis in the U.S. has produced a severe  economic crisis in Mexico.  The Mexican economy has contracted by % 6.8  this year,  and unemployment there is not likely to recover soon.

In the midst of this crisis, the government of Mexico has accelerated  the  same  neo liberal economic policies which caused the crisis by attacking a major union and shutting down a public owned electric company in preparation for privatization.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

National work stoppage in Mexico

National Work Stoppage in Mexico Demands Reversal on Power Co. Takeover
By Dan  La Boltz
Labor Notes NOVEMBER 13, 2009
Tens of thousands of Mexican workers joined a national work stoppage to reverse the liquidation of the independent Electrical Workers union, but despite large and militant protests, its seems unlikely the government will be moved.
Benedicto Martínez, one of the three co-presidents of the independent Authentic Labor Front (FAT), told Labor Notes that the demonstrations in Mexico City were large and enthusiastic. “I believe that if workers resist and if the movement continues to grow things can change," he said, adding a call for continued coalition-building and international solidarity, "perhaps in the form of demonstrations at consulates in other countries.”
Yet, despite the size and militancy of the protests, and the union’s view that the national work stoppage was a success, there seems little likelihood that the government will be moved.

The takeover of the power company last month was accompanied by the firing of about 45,000 workers and the dissolution of the Mexican Electrical Workers (SME) union, an independent union that had been a leader in the fight against the government’s corporate-oriented agenda.
While members of the union were themselves unable to strike this week, having been physically forced out of their workplaces by the police, they did march, demonstrate, and join protests, and other workers struck and protested on their behalf.
Striking workers blocked highways in several states, surrounded and closed down government buildings in Mexico City, tied up the capital’s streets, and then marched by the tens of thousands to the zócalo, the national plaza, for a protest rally. The government mobilized 10,000 police to respond to the protest and in Queretaro there were violent confrontations between police and strikers.
Calderón claimed that there had been attempts to shut down power in Mexico City and the surrounding states, but the union attributed power failures to the incompetence of those now running the plants.
Even as the strike took place, several cabinet secretaries repeated the government’s position that the company closing, the firing of the workers, and the elimination of the union are permanent.
Speaking at the rally in the zócalo, Martín Esparza, head of the Electrical Workers, called upon Secretary of Labor Javier Lozano to “pick up his severance pay and get out.” That, in effect, is what Lozano himself has been telling the fired Electrical Workers.
So far, according to media reports, more than half of the fired workers have received their severance pay, suggesting that they have given up the struggle to get back their jobs. A leader of the Electrical Workers says that far fewer, about 10,000, have accepted their severance. The union, nevertheless, continues to mobilize members and to fight both in the courts and on the streets to reverse the government’s decision.
Read the entire post at

Tribes criticize Schwarzenegger and Water Plans

National Congress of American Indians Demands Protection of Rights Under MLPA 
by Dan Bacher

The National Congress of American Indians, at their annual session from October 11-16 in Palm Springs, passed a strongly worded resolution blasting Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process for failing to recognize the subsistence, ceremonial and cultural rights of California Indian Tribes. 

"While the tribes support the State’s goal of developing marine protection, they are concerned that the State’s MLPA process does not address their sovereign standing or interests," according to the resolution. "To date there have been no government to government consultations by the State with any tribe in California in the MLPA implementation process, nor is there a mention of the sovereign status of the tribes in the MLPA Master Plan or legislation." 

The resolution emphasizes that the tribes rely upon fishing and gathering seaweed to feed themselves and their families, and "the continuance of these practices are essential to maintain our identities as tribal people."

"The NCAI does hereby support the demand of the tribes of Northern California that the State of California enter into government to government consultations with these tribes; and that the State of California ensure the protection of tribal subsistence, ceremonial and cultural rights in the implementation of the state of Marine Life Protection Act," the resolution concludes. 

More recently, the MLPA was criticized in the historic California Tribal Water Summit held in Sacramento November 4-5. Participants concurred that "in the Marine Life Protection Act, the California Department of Fish and Game has made an explicit policy decision to NOT consult with tribes." 

The Schwarzenegger administration and previous administrations have shown absolutely no respect for the rights of California Indian Tribes to sustainably harvest seaweed, mussels and abalone as they have done for centuries in the intertidal zone. The current lack of recognition of tribal rights in the MLPA occurs in the context of cultural genocide against the indigenous people of California that started during the Spanish colonization of California, expanded throughout the state during the Gold Rush and continues to this day. 

This marine protected area (MPA) plans developed on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and Southern California Coast regions were rammed through by the Schwarzenegger administration in spite of complaints by representatives of California Indian Tribes, including the Essalen Tribe of the Monterey Bay region and the Kashia Pomo Tribe in Sonoma County, that the state of California had not formally consulted with them on the MLPA process. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

Honduras: Free elections not possible

Trumka: Free Elections Not Possible Now in Honduras
by James Parks, Nov 16, 2009

The continued repression of trade unionists by the regime set up in Honduras after a June 28 coup makes it impossible to hold free and fair elections, says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a Nov. 13 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Trumka points out that delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention in September passed a resolution calling on the U.S. government to suspend military aid to Honduras until President Manuel Zelaya, the democratically elected leader, is returned to office and human and trade union rights have been restored.

Click here to read the convention resolution on Honduras and here to read Trumka’s letter.

With an illegitimate government in power, scheduled elections later this month cannot be fair, free and open, Trumka says.

The violent and coercive repression of political opposition to the de facto coup regime, including trade unionists, has continued. At least 12 trade unionists have died in the violence since June 28. National and international human rights organizations report ongoing human rights violations committed by state security forces, including killings, severe beatings, sexual violence, the imprisonment and torture of activists, as well as the arrest and detention of President Zelaya’s supporters.

Trumka calls on Clinton and the U.S. government to oppose national elections in Honduras unless Zelaya is reinstated and to implement the recommendations in the AFL-CIO resolution.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mexico's Union Busting by the Government

MEXICO CITY, Nov. 11  -- Traffic on the main streets of Mexico City was halted on Wednesday by striking electricity workers who were protesting the closure of state-run power firm Central Light and Power.
    Six groups of protestors were marching towards the city's central square, known as the Zocalo. One group of protestors clashed with police, who fired tear gas and arrested two protesters.
    Traffic on highways linking Mexico City to five major cities nearby -- Queretaro, Cuernavaca, Puebla, Pachuca and Toluca – was also halted or slowed down.
    Central Light and Power, which supplied electricity to Mexico City and neighboring central states, was liquidated last month by the central government, which said the move was prompted by the company's huge loss. It has been taken over by another state-run power company, the Federal Electricity Commission.

Obama/Clinton Failure on Honduras

U.S. State Department Sells Out Honduran Democracy for Senate Confirmations

• Policy change to recognize elections without reinstatement of Zelaya torpedoes peace agreement, mollifies Republicans and alienates Latin America

• President Zelaya pronounces Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord a “dead letter”

• Anti-coup organizations call for elections boycott on Nov. 29

In one of the lowest points in U.S. diplomatic history, the State Department announced a turnabout in its Honduran policy and stated it will recognize the results of Nov. 29 elections even if held under the military coup.

The new strategy to promote elections without first assuring a return to constitutional order torpedoes the accord that the State Department itself brokered and was signed by President Manuel Zelaya and coup leader Roberto Micheletti on Oct. 29.

On Nov. 4, just days after Secretary of State Clinton anounced a major breakthrough in resolving the Honduran political crisis, Asst. Secretary of State Thomas Shannon stated in an interview with CNN that “the formation of the National Unity Government is apart from the reinstatement of President Zelaya” and that the Honduran Congress will decide when and if Zelaya is reinstated. His surprise declaration scuttled the point of reinstatement in the agreement, leaving the matter up in the air while confirming that the U.S. government will recognize elections anyway.

U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States, Lewis Anselem and Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens confirmed this new position. At the OAS meeting, Anselem, whose disparaging remarks toward Latin American countries have alienated many southern diplomats, criticized the other nations’ refusal to recognize elections staged by a coup regime, “I’ve heard many in this room say that they will not recognize the elections in Honduras… I’m not trying to be a wiseguy, but what does that mean? What does that mean in the real world, not in the world of magical realism?”

Llorens also portrayed the new policy as pragmatism, stating on Nov. 8, “The elections will be part of the reality and will return Honduras to the path of democracy.”

The repeated use of "reality" as the justification for the policy change shows an attempt on the part of the State Department to unilaterally impose a definition of Honduran reality—contrary to its own previous definition and that of the international community. This unilateral diplomacy harks back to Bush foreign policies that many Americans and Latin Americans believed had been thrown out with the incoming Obama administration

The Diplomacy of Deceit
As analysts piece together the events of the past few days that took us from breakthrough to breakdown in international efforts to restore rule of law in Honduras, the real story emerges.

As former ambassador Robert White writes today, Tom Shannon met with Republican Senator Jim DeMint on Oct. 20 and DeMint urged him to recognize the Honduran elections without the reinstatement of Zelaya. DeMint offered to release his holds on Shannon's nomination to the ambassadorship of Brazil and the nomination of Arturo Valenzuela to fill Shannon's shoes as Asst. Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

DeMint, who traveled to Honduras to meet with the coup regime last month, had blocked these two key State Department nominations ostensibly in protest of the administration’s policies to reinstate Zelaya.

White reports that there is every indication that Shannon had already formulated this critical change in policy to abandon the demand for reinstatement when he flew down to Tegucigalpa on Oct. 28, and that coup leader Roberto Micheletti knew this. That left only President Zelaya and the rest of the world in the dark as to the real goal of the negotiations.

What will surely go down in the books as one of the worst diplomatic agreements ever, was hammered out by the State Department team—Shannon, joined by Obama advisor Dan Restrepo and the man who has now been sent in to try to clean up the mess, Craig Kelly. It was signed by the two parties on Oct. 29.

The agreement includes a commitment to form a Government of National Reconciliation by Nov. 5. It calls for the Honduran Congress to vote on returning presidential powers with no deadline whatsoever. It includes a non-binding opinion from the Supreme Court, again with no deadline.

In retrospect the trap is clear. The agreement left open the absurd but possible solution of having the coup form the unity government without a legitimate president, with non-compliance made to seem the fault of Zelaya if he refused to participate. So why did Zelaya sign?

Many of us believed at that point that the State Department was negotiating in good faith to reinstate the president and that the Congressional vote was merely a face-saving measure for the coup. Zelaya had laid out a position in negotiations that it should be the Congress, and not the Court, that made the decision to revoke the destitution decree. In the context of unspoken agreements with members of the Honduran Congress and the U.S. State Department, the understanding was that the need to hold recognized elections and the threat of more sanctions had finally broken the intransigence of the coup and paved the way for a return to constitutional rule.

Lest there be any doubt about the deal, DeMint released a press statement bragging “Senator secures commitment for U.S. to back Nov. 29 elections even if Zelaya is not reinstated.”

The statement reads, “I am happy to report the Obama Administration has finally reversed its misguided Honduran policy and will fully recognize the November 29th elections... Secretary Clinton and Assistant Secretary Shannon have assured me that the U.S. will recognize the outcome of the Honduran elections regardless of whether Manuel Zelaya is reinstated. I take our administration at their word that they will now side with the Honduran people and end their focus on the disgraced Zelaya.”

He goes on to lay out his scenario for the anachronism of the first elections staged by a military coup in the 21st century.

“Now, thanks to the Obama Administration’s welcome reversal, the new government sworn into office next January can expect the full support of the United States and I hope the entire international community. I trust Secretary Clinton and Mr. Shannon to keep their word, but this is the beginning of the process, not the end. I will eagerly watch the elections, and continue closely monitoring our administration’s future actions with respect to Honduras and Latin America.”

The Washington script played out. On Nov. 9, the Senate confirmed Valenzuela. DeMint lifted his hold on Shannon's confirmation, although another Republican stepped up to protest, this time over Cuba policy. With Shannon's confirmation still blocked, it seems the Republicans repaid the diplomat in his own coin.

DeMint's crowing is understandable. The recent machinations mean that a rightwing coup could remain in power to preside over elections in which only pro-coup candidates are likely to participate. It means a setback—not defeat—of the popular movement to hold a constitutional assembly and push forward with policies to relieve the suffering of the poor and build greater equality.

But DeMint cannot take full credit for the reversal. The Clinton State Department had been signalling a reversal on the commitment to restore Zelaya for months. Statements became more and more ambivalent, sometimes saying it supported Zelaya's return and others calling only for a "return to constitutional order" without mentioning Zelaya even when pressed. This past week was the first time that it marked a clear "no-Zelaya" strategy option.

In Whites's words, "As Shannon well knew, this change of policy would give away the principal leverage the U.S. could bring to bear to persuade the de facto government to permit the prompt return of President Zelaya." By going back on the commitment to withhold recognition of elections held under a coup regime, the U.S. government has given coup leaders and the armed forces a green light to remain in power until a new president is sworn in on Jan. 27.

That president, if indeed the crisis doesn't explode into even greater proportions before then, will likely not be recognized by most of the countries in the hemisphere or a huge percentage of the Honduran population. Governance in these conditions will be impossible. Unless Zelaya is restored immediately, the groundwork has been laid for a prolonged and severe period of violence and unrest in Central America.

Move Producces Anger and Distrust in Latin America
The Honduran Congress has set no date for voting on reinstatement of President Zelaya and indicated he will not be reinstated before the elecitons.

Recall that Zelaya’s reinstatement was the key point of the San José Accords that the State Department organized under the auspices of Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, and the center of resolutions in the United Nations and the Organization of American States, both supported by the U.S. government.

The UN declaration resolves, “To reaffirm that President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales is the constitutional President of Honduras and to demand the immediate, safe, and unconditional return of the President to his constitutional functions.”

The July 1 resolution of the OAS, “Demands the immediate and unconditional restoration of the legitimate and Constitutional Government of the President of the Republic, Mr. José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, and of the legally established authority in Honduras;” Honduras was suspended from the OAS as a result of the failure to reinstate President Zelaya, amid ongoing diplomatic efforts to achieve that end.

The new U.S. position has raised the ire of other Latin American countries. At a meeting of the OAS Nov. 10, many expressed a commitment not to recognize coup-held electons. Secretary General Jose Insulza stated that the organization would not send elections observers to Honduras.

The Rio Group, which includes the U.S.’s most powerful allies in the region, Mexico and Brazil, issued an unequivocal statement Nov. 6 calling for the immediate reinstatement of Zelaya. It was signed on to by the meeting of Latin American and Caribbean foreing ministers held simultaneously in Montego Bay.

The 24 Latin American nations stated, “The immediate reinstatement of president Jose Manuel Zelaya in the office to which he was elected by the Honduran people constitutes an indispensable prerequisite to re-establish constitutional order, rule of law and democracy in Honduras, as well as for the normalization of relations between the Republic of Honduras and the Rio Group and for it to be possible to recognize the results of elections scheduled to take place on Nov. 29.”

Craig Kelly, one of the architects of the diplomacy of deceit revealed in the Oct. 29 agreement, has now been dispatched to patch things up. He did not receive a warm welcome from President Zelaya and unless he carries a mandate for repentence in his briefcase, he will have very little room to maneuver.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The economic crisis, the budget, and our schools

DSA Talk: The Economic Crisis:
Economic Crisis, The Budget, Our Schools, and Your Students. This session will focus on the causes and consequences of the Great Recession, and its impact on education. Speaker will focus on explaining the crisis, available resources, and strategies for resistance.
Duane Campbell, DSA (Democratic Socialists of America)
12:30 P.M. The Redwood Room. Nov.14. 2009. 

Sac State hosts

Multicultural Education Conference 

Social justice educator Brian D. Schultz is the keynote speaker for the 16th annual Multicultural Education Conference, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 14, in Sacramento State’s University Union.
Titled, “Social Justice Through Civic Engagement and Action,” the free conference is sponsored by Sacramento State’s Bilingual/Multicultural Education Department (BMED) and co-sponsored by the Serna Center and Project Citizen. The conference provides an opportunity for university faculty and local educators to promote multicultural education in K-12 public schools in the Sacramento region

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Dia de los muertos

Cruces en El Muro
Activistas de El Paso colocaron el Sabado cruces en la malla que divide la frontera entre México y Estados Unidos para honrar la memoria de los migrantes que han muerto en su intento por ingresar al pais.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Agreement in Honduras II?

Never underestimate the capabilities of the slightest American muscle-flexing. 
Joseph Shansky.  Upside Down World.

After deliberately failing to use its massive economic and diplomatic influence in the tiny Central American country, the US has reportedly given the international community reason to breathe a sigh of relief in what Hillary Clinton is calling an “historic agreement”. According to the US, the Honduran governmental power struggle has been resolved, and an agreement for President Manuel Zelaya to be reinstated has been reached. 

All thanks to a breezy State Department intervention that could have come four months, twenty-six lives, hundreds of disappearances, and thousands of random detentions earlier for Honduran citizens. Instead they let it play out like an internal civil disagreement while watching from above until the time was politically opportune to step in. 

In other words, the two children who were bickering in what Henry Kissinger famously dubbed “our backyard” have been rightfully scolded, and forced by Uncle Sam to make nice. 

But the details of what is now being called the Guaymuras Accords are messy. They involve a series of conditions and fine print designed to continue the regime’s now-familiar tactic of delaying real progress through semantics and by creating more legal headaches. At the same time, any pressure on the US to fight for a constructive return of Zelaya’s presidential powers is now gone. 

See entire post at

Agreement in Honduras?


TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Lawmakers will wait until Tuesday to consider a U.S.-brokered agreement that could return deposed President Manuel Zelaya to power, despite diplomats' pleas to not delay an end to the country's 4-month-old political crisis.
Monday is a holiday in Honduras, and many legislators are busy campaigning for Nov. 29 elections that will also elect a successor to Zelaya.
Nonetheless, Zelaya said Saturday that he hopes he will be back in office by Thursday, the deadline for the two sides to establish a power-sharing government.
"By Thursday, the government of national unity should be installed," he said in a meeting broadcast by Radio Globo. "By that day, point No. 5 has to be resolved," he added, referring to the clause of the agreement that covers his return to office.

Multicultural Education Conference

Social justice educator Brian D. Schultz is the keynote speaker for the 16th annual Multicultural Education Conference, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 14, in Sacramento State’s University Union.

Titled, “Social Justice Through Civic Engagement and Action,” the free conference is sponsored by Sacramento State’s Bilingual/Multicultural Education Department (BMED) and co-sponsored by the Serna Center and Project Citizen. The conference provides an opportunity for university faculty and local educators to promote multicultural education in K-12 public schools in the Sacramento region
Schultz is the author of Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way: Lessons from an Urban Classroom. A panel discussion by candidates for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction will follow Shultz’ talk.  Blog host Duane Campbell will present a workshop on the Economic Crisis and Cuts in School Budgets.