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articles are from the May 16-31, 2016, issue of People's
By Johan Boyden
I have no idea if the steak is any good. As to Ports
However there is another interesting little tenant inside this grand old piece
of prime real estate. Tucked away on the 4th floor is the NATO Association of
The NATO Association is dedicated "To promote peace, prosperity and security through knowledge and understanding of the importance of NATO." Plus, it "enhances domestic participation in global defense procurement ... regarding NATO contracting opportunities and ongoing acquisition projects within the NATO marketplace."
You can find more information about arms sales on their website, under the section called “tenders.”
The NATO Association holds Registered Charitable Organization Number 119011872RR0001.
In 2012, the Harper Conservatives started auditing charities spending more than 10% of revenue on “political activities”, trying to ensnare the Steelworkers Humanity Fund, Montreal-based Alternatives, the Sierra Fund and the Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists.
Fortunately, the NATO Association somehow managed to escape the glare of the auditors. Their last fundraising dinner was between $500 and $5000 a plate.
The Association organizes conferences and exchanges information, such as
articles like “The Role of Mothers in Countering Violent Extremism” and “
According to their website, they work closely with various big banks and corporate friends, NGOs, etc. This includes a golf tournament. Some of their partners are CIBC, Telus, Scotia Bank, VIA Rail, the Department of Defense, Canadian Heritage, and Global Affairs, several investment firms, the Canadian Center for the Responsibility to Protect, and the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association.
The last two groups deserve more a little more explanation.
Headquartered at the
The Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association is part of a network of
parliamentary NATO groups. Its constitution proscribes that “Consultation will
be maintained with the Atlantic Council of
Chaired by Liberal MP Jean R. Rioux, most members are Liberals and Conservatives. The NDP MPs include Peter Julian, Daniel Blaikie, Christine Moore, and David Christopherson. There are no Bloc or Green participants.
Perhaps it is worth stating what NATO actually is: the iron fist of imperialist domination around the globe. As the World Peace Council has said repeatedly, NATO is an enemy of peace.
To paraphrase from a recent statement by the WPC: NATO is committed to the doctrines of first strike and pre-emptive strikes. As an offensive military alliance it stands ready to intervene before diplomacy has been given a proper chance. NATO’s expansion and provocations – as the current crisis in Ukraine demonstrates – are directly responsible for destabilization, unrest, violence and war.
When it intervenes, its members regularly use toxic weapons containing depleted uranium or white phosphorous. NATO considers nuclear weapons to be a fundamental part of its defense strategy. The alliance aggressively pursues and promotes military provocation and intervention around the globe, and the results are always increased destruction, displacement, and death.
The World Peace Council has called for a global demonstrations against NATO
Meanwhile, down on
By Nino Pagliccia
Recently the leader of the Communist Party of
The TPP is a proposed agreement drawn in secrecy involving 12 Pacific-Rim countries:
On its website, the Canadian government promises to be “transparent, open and consultative with Canadians on the TPP.”  But what is the point of “consultations” when the agreement cannot be amended and the only outcome is ‘ratify’ or ‘not ratify’? In fact so far, the consultations have consisted mostly of presentations by Parliamentary Secretary David Lametti or Minister Chrystia Freeland, to groups of entrepreneurs, business people, politicians and other interest groups.
The TPP has been discussed in total secrecy representing the interests of
corporations to the exclusion of labour representatives. Liz Rowley called this
agreement a “global corporate constitution”, and outlined ten reasons why the
TPP should not be ratified.  There is no doubt that corporations will have
great profits for their shareholders and speculators since the deal will force
more neoliberal policies and evermore reduced government regulations. While the
selling point is trade,
Is the deal good for workers?
It is not encouraging that the standard practice in all trade agreements is to
leave workers out of the discussion table. In addition, in spite of all the
According to a recent Angus Reid Institute poll, Canadians expressed “fears
that the TPP will result in
Another analysis concludes “accepting the TPP will have long-term detrimental
impacts on the prospects for full employment, economic prosperity, and the
ability of Canadians to sustainably manage their economy.”  The rationale is
that the TPP will force
As a response to other trade deals,
The claimed relative advantage that Canada may have in the service sector (finance, business service, etc.) is not a sufficient reason to accept the TPP since this sector usually demands very high salaries but for fewer jobs, not precisely favouring most workers. 
What about workers’ rights?
There seems to be more information on labour “rights” than labour gains in the TPP agreement. Fifteen articles in 15 pages (out of 6000 pages) of chapter 19 (out of 30 chapters) of the full text of the TPP deal with labour. But that’s all, more information but not more rights.
Article 19.3 and its subsections basically states that the TPP members will “follow[ing] rights as stated in the ILO Declaration” of 1998. That may not be a problem in general, except for the limitation that establishes “that labour standards should not be used for protectionist trade purposes”, which leaves the door open to corporate interpretations of “protectionist” actions in regards to labour.
Similarly, what seems disturbing is the statement about what constitutes a violation of those rights. Textually, “To establish a violation of an obligation under Article 19.3.1 (Labour Rights)…, a Party must demonstrate that the other Party has failed to adopt or maintain a statute, regulation or practice in a manner affecting trade or investment between the Parties.” I emphasize, “in a manner affecting trade or investment”; never mind workers. This seems to be a nice self-serving use of the ILO Declaration.
One ridiculous sounding article establishes the extent of “Corporate Social Responsibility.” Article 19.7 says, “Each Party shall endeavour to encourage enterprises to voluntarily adopt corporate social responsibility initiatives on labour issues that have been endorsed or are supported by that Party.” This amounts to saying, “we will shoot ourselves in the foot if we feel like.”
The remaining articles of this chapter deal with how to enforce corporate cooperation (with a token mention of job creation), labour regulations, and procedures for reclamations strictly “on matters related to this chapter”. Interestingly, the TPP proposes so-called “Labour Councils composed of senior governmental representatives at the ministerial” with no workers’ participation whatsoever!
Canadians should be suspicious of a deal made behind their backs and should
reject the TPP, which seeks to control resources and cheap labour, and to
curtail working class power. For workers,
It is possible to defeat the TPP, starting with spreading the information and
prompting our City Councils and MPs. There is already a success story from
The Canadian government website on the TPP invites comments via email: TPP-PTP.email@example.com. 
A campaign endorsed by concerned organizations also allows people to send an online message to decision-makers from the website http://letstalktpp.ca, hosted by OpenMedia, SumOfUs, Council of Canadians, and Stand.
PV Vancouver Bureau
More than 90 countries across the globe saw mass rallies and other activities on Sunday, May 1, International Workers' Day. The events celebrated gains for workers' rights achieved over the past century, and demanded fair working conditions and wages today.
Cuban Workers Confederation general secretary Ulises Guilarte said that an end
to the 55-year
Flanked by President Raul Castro, Guilarte said Cuba would never waive its revolutionary and anti-imperialist ideals, a foreign policy committed to just causes, the defence of the country’s self-determination or its unconditional support for sister nations.
“They want to privatize everything possible,” President Dilma Rousseff told a
crowd of thousands at a rally in
"They (the opposition) want to end social housing movements and grants that the government gives to families," she added. "This is a blow against democracy and against the worker. The right-wing will deepen the crisis and to stain the Constitution."
Rousseff announced a nine percent increase in spending for the family social welfare program, to help ensure wider access to education, food and health. She also spoke about plans to reduce the impact of income taxes on middle-income earners, and to build another 25,000 new low-price homes.
"This goes against what the opposition proposes," she said. "They want to end this public spending that guarantees health care in the poorest sectors."
French marchers carried banners calling President Francois Hollande a
"traitor." His “Socialist” government claims that allowing companies
more flexibility will reduce chronically high unemployment and make
Denmark’s three communist parties — DKP, KP and KPiD — united for May Day under
the banner of opposing Danish involvement in the wars in
Thousands of Turkish demonstrators rallied for May Day in an authorized area of
Taksim has symbolic meaning as the center of protests in which 34 people were
killed on May Day in 1977. The governor of
May Day marches were held elsewhere in
Tens of thousands of people marched across
Addressing unions’ grievances over his government’s policies, Zuma vowed: “The ANC will never act against workers’ interests.”
Nzimande said the working class should close ranks behind the ANC to “defeat the strategic agenda of imperialism and monopoly capital” led by the liberal opposition and the corporate media.
May Day rallies were held across the Philippines, where political campaigning
was entering the final week ahead of the May 9 presidential election. In
Standing atop a red
"We stand in solidarity now against the growth of the far right in
Chen Li-jen, a protester with the
"Hardworking laborers are being exploited by consortiums," Chen said. "For the past decade, our basic salary has not made any progress. Laborers' rights have always been neglected. This is why I hope to take advantage of the May Day protest and tell the government that we are determined to fight for our rights."
Rallies in cities across the country called for better wages for workers, an end to deportations, and support for President Obama’s plan to give work permits to immigrants whose children are American citizens.
Meanwhile social justice advocates in
May Day demonstrations were held in at least a dozen Canadian cities.
The largest was in
The Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (Quebec Federation of Labour) used the May Day demonstration to launch its $15-an-hour campaign, saying too many working Quebecers are having trouble paying their bills and buying enough food for their families.
“The buying power of low-wage workers is going down or stagnating every year,” said QFL President Daniel Boyer. “We need a minimum wage that will allow people to keep their heads above water. It doesn’t make sense that people who work full time have so little income.”
Québec Solidaire MNA Manon Massé said her party supports the campaign for a $15-per-hour minimum wage, saying too many workers have to rely on food banks to feed their families.
About 500 people joined the annual May Day march organized by the Vancouver and
District Labour Council along
A May Day demonstration at
“Precarious work is a growing cancer across this province that we have to
stop,” Chris Buckley, head of the
Other May First events were organized in
By Johan Boyden,
“One hundred and fifty years ago in
First, there is no recognition that
Second, there is no recognition that the cornerstone of the agreement -
federalism - was actually made before the 1864 conferences in
Last, there is no recognition that the agreement, which would facilitate
massive capitalist industrialization, was actually finalized under the watchful
eye of British Railway capital in
As Marxist historian
But the statement does get one point correct. The Canadian Constitution was
never written by the people, or drafted through any “constituent assembly.” The
founders were, indeed, an old boys club who came to
From the start of the road to
The Parti Rouge, arising from
the Lower Canada insurrection just thirty years before, had already proposed an
alternative arrangement for union: “a Confederation of the two
The question was not simply de-centralization. The Parti Rouge proposal recognized “the French fact.” Upper Canada and Lower Canada represented two communities of economic life with distinct territories, peoples, languages, histories, and cultures – two nations.
While the agreement developed at
Instead, it was and is an unequal union, strongly centralized yet fragile.
When this confusingly named “Confederation” agreement is celebrated next year, the elephant will still be in the room.
Now the BNA Act is the Canadian Constitution, but
The smaller of the pro-sovereignty parties is
QS emerged about ten years ago, in the context of the anti-globalization
movement and the clear adoption by the PQ of a pro-neoliberal agenda. The
predecessor of QS, the Union of Progressive Forces, included the Parti Communiste du
When the UFP became QS, the new party retained the formulation of a “party of the street” and a “party in the parliament.” In 2009 it adopted the position of supporting independence, but consistently avoided narrow nationalist positions. For example, QS denounced the Charter of Values project as well as proposals to limit access to Anglophone CEGEPs (colleges), and has repeatedly rejected calls for a “united front” of sovereigntists.
QS has also rejected the PQ’s route to independence. Instead, it proposed that
The result, a new Constitution, would finally be adopted by referendum and, throughout this process, “Québec solidaire will defend its independence option and will promote its values of environmentalism, egalitarianism, feminism, democracy, and pluralism, without presuming the outcome of the discussions.” This is not a gimmick. It reflects the conclusion that the national question belongs to the people, not a party or legislature.
The QS proposal is somewhat similar to that of the Communist Party. Since 1964
the CPC has called for a new Constitution for
The mandate of this process would include guaranteeing sovereignty and
The PCQ (which is not in favour of independence) has noted that narrowing the
mandate would effectively align the project of the new Constitution with the
kind of colonialism advocated by the PQ, who refuse to recognize
self-determination of indigenous nations who inhabit vast territories within
Similarly, Paul Cliche (a long-time militant in QS and in favour of independence) notes that “the current position of [QS] ... tries to exceed the historical cleavages responsible for much of the last two referendum failures,” through democratic discussion, not “handcuffing” the Constituent assembly to independence and turning it into a “masquerade.”
One hundred and forty-nine years ago, the masquerade of Canadian Confederation
People’s Voice Editorial
By the time this newspaper is delivered, delegates will be arriving in
The delegates who meet in
Yes, the Communist Party of
People’s Voice Editorial
With each passing day, Justin Trudeau faces new questions about his commitment to “real change.” Any mention of the former Tory PM still makes people react with an involuntary shudder, as if Darth Vader was entering the room. But it does look like the honeymoon may be coming to an end for his replacement.
The Liberals are a big business party, but they came to power by promising to address demands raised by the labour and people s movements: repeal anti-immigrant legislation; reform the first-past-the-post electoral system; legalize marijuana (and stop criminalizing users); halt Canadian participation in the bombing of Syria and Iraq; massive infrastructure funding; raise taxes on the 1%; put a temporary hold on ending urban door to door Canada Post delivery; appoint women to half of federal Cabinet posts; a public inquiry into the missing and murdered aboriginal women; implement all recommendations of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission; restore the long-form census; allow federal scientists to speak publicly; tackle climate change, etc.
Half a year later, a few of these promises have been kept, at least partially. But most are being kicked down the road, underfunded to death, or ignored. The 2016-17 federal budget deficit was too limited to create large numbers of good jobs. The TPP corporate rights deal is being pushed rapidly towards Parliamentary ratification, despite wide objections. Reconciliation with indigenous peoples hit the ditch after the government’s failure to take serious action on housing, clean drinking water and better education. And not least, the Liberals appear eager to promote oil pipelines demanded by Big Energy.
As we said after the election, the defeat of the Tories was a big victory for working people. But without stronger pressure from the labour and democratic movements, the Liberals will inevitably bend to the agenda of the corporations.
The president of
Dawn Lahey, President of CUPE Local 2329, says, “Such a move would take our province back more than 30 years to a time when we had libraries being run by ‘community volunteers’. For the minister to suggest that libraries in schools will stay open but will not be staffed after school hours is an admission that he wants to move to a volunteer model”.
Kirby has said that libraries in schools will be open for students, but not the public, unless the school district and the library boards can come up with a plan to keep them open for a couple of hours a few evenings a week, or when the school’s not open. The Minister has also offered ‘small grants’ to people who would operate the libraries for those hours.
CUPE NL President Wayne Lucas says, “This is the government laying off staff in
54 locations and doing an end-run around the union by paying non-union
volunteers honoraria for doing union work. This is union busting of the worst
kind, and it’s directed mostly at women. I would like the minister to explain
to the almost 60 women in rural
Union leaders and 2,000 members and supporters rallied on Confederation Hill in
NAPE President Jerry Earle called for a budget “re-do,” pointing out that while residents are prepared to pay their “fair share”, they are not prepared to pay a greater share than people at a higher income. For example, he cited the “deficit reduction levy”, which is $300 for people making $25,000 a year, but only $900 for the highest income brackets.
By Sujata Dey, Trade Campaigner, Council of Canadians, reprinted from the HuffingtonPost.ca
If there is someone who knows about plutocrats, it is
As a financial journalist, she wrote a book, Plutocrats: the Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. In it, she recognizes the losses that have occurred under globalization.
She writes, “The distributional impact is, in the terms of art used by economists, to polarize the labour market: there are better and more highly paid jobs at the top, not much change for the low-skill, low-income jobs at the bottom, but a hollowing out of the jobs in the middle, which used to provide the paycheques for the American middle class.” She interviews Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz, who opposes the TPP and echoes his arguments about free trade’s dangers to the average worker.
She echoes his concerns about the rules being set in the interests of the super-rich. “Trying to slant the rules of the game in your favour isn’t an aberration, it’s what all businesses seek to do. It is all about whether your society has the right rules and policing able to enforce them.”
But her statements as a minister have been confusing. Now, she is saying that free trade is the key to middle-class prosperity and that opposing trade agreements is wrong-headed.
Perplexed, I asked her about this during a visit she made to the Université de
Montréal. The TPP sounds like the type of plutocratic agreement she would
oppose: carved out in secret between the corporations of the world. In the
As Stiglitz says about the TPP, “Obama has sought to perpetuate business as
usual, whereby the rules governing global trade and investment are written by
Like Obama, Freeland claims to be concerned about income inequality but then advocates for the very instruments that will exacerbate the problem.
Let’s look at the TPP itself.
For starters, it has one glaring problem: ISDS, the investor-state dispute settlement provision that allows corporations to sue states over decisions that affect their future profits. This steel-trapped protection can also be found in NAFTA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and 3,200 other agreements around the world. In a nutshell, by holding governments responsible for corporate risk, it makes taxpayers assume the financial burden that companies normally assume as part of being “entrepreneurs.”
Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, has written about how ISDS kills environmental and social policy by forcing mammoth penalties on any country that attempts to ban fracking, or close a quarry, or regulate drugs, or that refuses to agree with a company on a patent, or that tries to establish an economic development program. Or that even raises the minimum wage.
The irony is that trade agreements lock in these rights for companies at the
international level and can be binding because they are enforced. Very few
other treaties benefit from such enforcement, whether the
ISDS has been the weapon of choice of plutocrats. A new study by Gus Van
Harten, a scholar at the
ISDS is also used to silence governments. Another study by Van Harten says that
it doesn’t even take an ISDS challenge or the threat of an ISDS challenge to
change policy. In interviews he held with
At the national level, we are seeing state sovereignty diminished. As ISDS challenges the ability of states to regulate, national standards and rules are harmonized downward in free trade treaties. This means we regulate for corporations at the international level and deregulate for the public interest at the national level.
When we look at the rest of the deal, we again see the public policy spaces of nations getting smaller and smaller, while the right to make profits gets bigger and bigger.
Other ways our public space is getting smaller:
Higher drug costs: This trade deal adds them by extending pharmaceutical patents on new life-saving drugs. This has the double whammy effect of raising profits for pharmaceutical companies while making public health care less affordable for governments. Ironically, while free traders say they are eliminating protections to allow trade to be free, patents are protectionist measures granting monopolies to companies.
Straight-jacketing of Crown
Corporations: The TPP imposes restrictions on state-owned
enterprises. Governments are not allowed to be “discriminatory” in their
Local jobs at risk: Free trade agreements often attack buy-local programs. And the TPP is no different. Foreign companies have to have the same rights to public contracts. Often, this does not help create local jobs.
More BGH milk on its way:
Local food security threatened:
In agriculture, our ability to protect our own food security by producing milk,
poultry and eggs in
The downward slide in wages: There are no real safeguards for labour rights. In the TPP, countries have to have labour legislation, but this legislation can be sub-standard. Canadian workers will be directly in competition with workers in countries with minimal labour standards, like Malaysia, which has a reputation for human trafficking.
More rights for polluters, more attacks on green energy: In environmental matters, ISDS cases are often brought forward by resource-extracting companies in the energy and mining sectors. Renewable energy programs have been targeted by ISDS challenges. The TPP will exclude us from managing or controlling our own resources, or even distinguishing between different energy forms. Climate change is not even mentioned in the TPP, according to the Sierra Club.
We know that the world’s top one per cent own more than 50 per cent of the world’s wealth. The ability to make policy and to enforce it at the national level is essential to combat the slide towards plutocracy, under which society is controlled by the wealthiest citizens. Mr. Obama and Ms. Freeland, please listen to your own rhetoric. Pull the plug on the TPP and CETA.
From “Homes Not Bombs”
Join two days of nonviolent action in
TUESDAY, MAY 24, 5-7 PM
Starting at 5 pm on May 24 at York and Sussex (Ottawa, Byward Market area), General Chaos, the much decorated man of colonial adventure, imperial hubris, and high-priced weapons industry consultation, will lead a walk to welcome delegates to CANSEC16 (aka TerrorismFest16), one of the largest weapons bazaars in North America, and host to an international array of guests from Saudi Arabia, Israel, United Arab Emirates, the UK, USA, and other human rights violating nations. Won’t you join the General as he welcomes his brother war-criminals-in-arms? Being a Canadian, he may allow a few speeches about human rights and ending violence, but he knows the score.
As a Trudeau appointee to a new panel advising the government on how best to smooth over the unsavoury elements of sales like the $15 billion blockbuster to the world’s leading beheading regime, Saudi Arabia, General Chaos “gets” that he must spout the usual euphemisms about human rights while supplying those who would violate them.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 25, 7:30 AM TO 1 PM
The Faces of War will return to the
CANSEC entrance on May 25, 7:30 am to 1 pm, when
Join us for a day of nonviolent action to
close the most violent annual gathering in
We will read aloud the reports of human
rights groups, the testimonies of the disappeared and detained, the stories of
survivors who have lived in terror under the bombs that come from
A statement from the CTB says that "there is currently a coup d 'état underway in the country, concealed by an impeachment process without any legal basis", which constitutes a serious threat to democracy, national sovereignty, labour laws, and the achievements of the working class.
The CTB points out that "the putschist conspiracy" was evident in the 2013 and 2014 demonstrations under the slogan "the World Cup won´t happen", manipulated to create an environment of social chaos and to destabilize Dilma Rousseff's government. The offensive was redoubled after Rousseff's re-election, leading to the current impeachment process.
"A more comprehensive analysis suggests that it is not a movement
restricted to our country," says the CTB, "but a much more extensive
conservative wave, that has as a background the economic and geopolitical
crisis of capitalism and international imperialism hegemonized by the
In these and other countries, says the statement, the local capitalists and landowners have united with the international financial aristocracy, captained by US imperialism.
"Those are the same social classes who were behind the military coup of 1964," says the CTB. The federation warns that the "bridge to the future" advocated by the impeachment forces aims to dismantle progressive labour laws, and to establish "primacy of the market over the law," by imposing "unrestricted and widespread outsourcing of the economy". The right-wing leaders are calling for "tough fiscal adjustment" and reduction of the already scarce resources for health, education and social programs; a lower minimum wage; reduction of social security benefits; and other neoliberal measures supported by the National Confederation of Agriculture, the National Confederation of Industry, and hundreds of business groups.
Foreign capital, especially from the US, says the CTB, would be rewarded by
sweeping privatization measures (including Petrobras), and a shift away from
Latin American and Caribbean integration, effectively sabotaging MERCOSUR, the
CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) and the BRICS.
"Therefore, the coup goes along with the
Calling the coup process "illegitimate and markedly anti-democratic," the CTB says that imposing the conservative agenda will involve criminalizing popular struggles and social movements, restricting democracy and increasingly resorting to authoritarianism.
The statement urges full mobilization in defense of democracy, national sovereignty and social rights, in particular to involve trade unions and grassroots committees for the country-wide day of action on May 10 organized by the Brazilian Popular Front and People Without Fear Front.
By David Agren in VICE News, https://news.vice.com/article/ayotzinapa-parents-43-students-never-get-answers
Parents of 43 students who went missing after they were attacked in southern
Now those experts are about the leave the country after delivering a devastating final report on the government's investigation, and the families are losing hope that the painful mystery will ever be solved.
"We have only sought the truth and the government has put obstacles in our path," said Emilio Navarrete, whose son José Ángel studied at the Ayotzinapa teacher training college. His son is among the 42 students who are still missing after just one has been identified by a jaw fragment.
"Without the experts, we wouldn't know the lies that the government has been telling us," said another parent, Bernardo Campos.
"From the start, we did not accept the government version and now we have scientific proof that it didn't happen as they said," said Cristina Bautista, another of the parents.
The families of the missing students were talking at a press conference on Monday in which they accused the government of trying to prematurely turn the page on one of the country's most notorious crimes that, 19 months after the events, is still a long way from being solved in a way that satisfies them.
After a year accompanying the government's investigation the experts — who were convened by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights — are now packing their bags because the government has refused to extend their mandate, which ran out at the end of April.
On April 24 they provided an unflattering final report that backs the parents' long-standing claim that the official probe is rife with irregularities, made all the more damning by allegations that the government sought to undercut their investigation and harassed them out of the country.
"The group has suffered a campaign trying to discredit people as a way to question their work," the report said. "Certain sectors are not interested in the truth."
The students from Ayotzinapa were attacked on September 26, 2014, in the
southern city of
The horror of the Iguala attacks and the disappearance of 43 students, together
with the government's slow response and accusations of investigatory
incompetence, sent President Enrique Peña Nieto's popularity plummeting, while
The government's invitation to the expert panel was seen as an effort to prove it had nothing to hide. Now their report underlines evidence that a variety of different police forces, potentially including the federal police, coordinated efforts to prevent the buses from leaving Iguala. The army, meanwhile, did nothing to stop the attacks even though they were monitoring them closely.
The experts also found no evidence to sustain government claims that the students' bodies were burned in a garbage dump. They suggested evidence to support this hypothesis was planted by investigators, and alleged the official probe has blocked efforts to explore whether the students were attacked because they had unwittingly taken a bus filled with hidden opium paste.
The government did not send a representative to hear the report, despite the presence of the president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Instead it brushed off the criticism in a statement which insisted that it welcomed all the experts' contributions, claimed that it had fully cooperated with them at all times, and that the allegations in the final report are unfounded.
The government also promised to continue the probe and to work closely with the families in the future.
"The government and the students' relatives are on the same side and have the same goal," said the statement, that was read by the current head of the investigation, Eber Omar Betanzos. "We want to find out what happened to the students and to punish each and every one of the individuals responsible."
With the departure of the experts, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is now due to form a new group to monitor the Iguala investigation. Though the details have yet to be determined it appears clear the government will not allow it to get as close to the official probe as the outgoing experts.
Certainly the parents are not expecting much. Instead of talk of future collaboration with the government, they said they would be seeking prosecution of a top investigator.
"What we want is the truth and for the facts to be made clear," said Nicolás Vargas, whose son Édgar was injured in the attack by police in Iguala. "That for us would be repairing the damage."
By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim, venezuelanalysis.com
Rodriguez said the May 5 talks at the OAS over whether to suspend
“Venezuela is constantly being threatened by opposition forces working with centres of imperialism that support … the destabilisation of our countries,” she said.
Rodriguez issued the remarks during an extraordinary session of the OAS. The
session was called by the Venezuelan government in response to separate talks
between right-wing Venezuelan politicians and OAS Secretary General Luis
Almagro. During a meeting the previous week, a delegation of Venezuelan
legislators urged Almagro to call for the OAS Democratic Charter to be invoked
against Maduro's government. Such a move would lead to a suspension of
Bolivia's OAS representative Diego Pary said Maduro is facing a new wave of international aggression, and his Nicaraguan counterpart Denis Moncada suggested the OAS was at risk of overstepping its role.
“We see no moral standing for intervention in any states,” he said.
Rodriguez said the coup and subsequent waves of political violence in 2013 and 2014 were examples of the Venezuelan right-wing's disregard for democracy.
The Maduro administration has long accused key figures within
Earlier on May 5, Maduro's supporters in the National Assembly demanded
prosecutors charge four MUD legislators with treason, a charge which carries a
penalty of up to 30 years imprisonment. The four legislators were all involved
in petitioning Almagro to consider invoking the OAS charter against
By holding talks with Almagro, the legislators “attacked (
Since the program’s founding in 2011, the Bolivarian government has constructed over 1.2 million homes mainly for low income Venezuelans afflicted by the dire housing shortage in the nation’s overcrowded cities, which are home to 90% of the population.
Currently, residents of the GMVV possess a Deed of Use document that grants them the right to the homes for life, but authorizes the sale of the houses only under special circumstances and not on the private market.
Approved by the opposition-controlled National Assembly on April 13, the Law
for the Award of Property Deeds to the Beneficiaries of the Venezuelan Great
The bill also outlined mechanisms for the payment of indemnities to landowners whose land was occupied by social movements or expropriated by the Venezuelan state in the course of public housing construction.
President Maduro sent the bill to the Supreme Court for constitutional review after denouncing the law as a scheme by private real estate interests to create a speculative housing market.
The TSJ, for its part, found the legislation in violation of the right to housing enshrined under Article 82 of the Magna Carta, which must be guaranteed by the state and “progressively” expanded to the entire population, especially those with “scarce resources”.
As such, the bill contravenes the Venezuelan Constitution’s principle of “progressivity” with regard to human rights and thus constitutes a “regression” that reduces the right to housing to the juridical status of “a mere consumer necessity”.
The court additionally ruled in favor of the government’s objection that the legislation risked unleashing rampant housing speculation, endangering Venezuelans’ right to affordable housing.
“The law under consideration abandons the social character of housing as a fundamental right in favor of a lucrative market based on the free sale of property,” the justices stated.
The TSJ verdict was met with harsh criticism by opposition lawmaker Julio Borges, the bill’s architect, who lashed out at the ruling as an attack on private property rights.
“Is it unconstitutional to give property to Venezuelans?,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Property is not a concession of the PSUV [United Venezuelan Socialist Party]; it is a constitutional right. What is unconstitutional is the PSUV and the TSJ,” the right-wing legislator added.
Despite backing from the opposition-dominated parliament, the law has faced strong opposition from urban housing movements as well as an overwhelmingly majority of GMVV residents.
According to a Hinterlaces poll last month, 62% of GMVV residents are against allowing the sale of their homes.