Who’s afraid of López Obrador?

El Center for Strategic and International Studies es un think tank  de Washington estrechamente ligado al Departamento de la Defensa, al Consejo Nacional de Seguridad y al Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos, y sus puntos de vista normalmente reflejan los intereses estratégicos y de seguridad de ese país.  Este artículo, fechado el 14 de agosto pero subido a las redes sociales a pocos días de que Enrique Peña Nieto rindiera  su quinto informe de gobierno, es un sobrio y desapasionado análisis que contrasta con  los esfuerzos del presidente de México por imbuir en la población el temor de un gobierno encabezado  por Andrés Manuel López Obrador y por convencer al gobierno de Estados Unidos que un gobierno priísta, en tanto que aliado incondicional, es la mejor garantía para eliminar todo obstáculo a su hegemonía en el continente.

 

Who’s Afraid of López Obrador?

August 14, 2017

by Richard G.Miles (CSIS)*

Next July, Mexico may elect leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) as its new president. Leading in early polls and buoyed by surprisingly good results in recent state elections, López Obrador faces a weakened ruling party that is viewed as corrupt and unable to maintain security. Other major parties are beset by infighting or irrelevance. A potential coalition of the anti-AMLO parties may be necessary, but not sufficient. Reactions to a possible López Obrador win range from fear and loathing by the Mexican middle class and private sector to shrugs of resignation from political insiders and long-time Mexico watchers. Some of these include former and current U.S. officials, who believe AMLO may be more pragmatic and less radical than he appears.

In a May poll, López Obrador had the lead among potential presidential candidates, with about 28 percent support. More importantly, in June the National Regeneration Movement (Morena)—AMLO’s personal party—came within 3 percent of beating the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) for the governorship of the state of Mexico, a seat the PRI has held since 1929. Most troubling for the PRI in that race was the collapse in support, from 60 percent in 2011 to 33 percent in 2017. Even worse, across the rest of the country, the PRI lost four governorships that it has held for 80 years.

There are two main reasons to explain the PRI’s steep downward slide under President Enrique Peña Nieto: corruption and insecurity. Over the last three years, 10 of Mexico’s 32 state governors have been jailed or are under investigation for corruption. Eight of them hail from the PRI. The charges include money laundering, involvement with the cartels, and kickbacks for government contracts. Peña Nieto and his wife were beset by their own mini-scandal in 2014, involving use of a luxury home owned by a government contractor. According to anticorruption groups in Mexico, at least half a dozen impending corruption cases involving PRI officials are in the pipeline. The next shoes are already beginning to drop. On August 14, Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity published copies of over $3 million in bank transfers from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to a top campaign official for Peña Nieto.

 

President Enrique Peña Nieto – Toby Melville – WPA Pool /Getty ImagesOrganized crime violence under the PRI’s watch is now at its highest levels since 2011, which was the height of former president Felipe Calderon’s war against the cartels. Not a week goes by without lurid reports and pictures of corpses in the street, shot dead by narco-traffickers. “Ordinary” crime like robberies and kidnappings also has increased and is probably a greater factor in public dissatisfaction with the PRI than drug violence.

Morena’s other main competitors are not well positioned for wins next year. The Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD), which AMLO led until 2014, picked up 18 percent in the state of Mexico. The National Action Party (PAN), which drew only 11 percent, has been weakened by an internal standoff between Margarita Zavala, the wife of former president Calderon, and Ricardo Anaya, the young party boss.

The fear of AMLO has triggered coalition talk by the other parties. The PAN and PRD already have teamed up at the state level and jointly won four governorships in June. In early August, the current PRD mayor of Mexico City and the ex-presidents of the PRI and PAN discussed a grand coalition. This is not unprecedented, given that the three parties joined forces in 2013 to approve important constitutional reforms. The “Pact of Mexico” opened up Mexico’s energy sector and spurred fundamental changes in education and justice sector reform. One key difference: in 2013 the PRD had AMLO.

There is always the chance that AMLO—by himself—could remind Mexicans why they have never trusted him with the presidency. López Obrador is at heart a populist authoritarian. (The PRI already is doing everything it can to paint AMLO as a Mexican Hugo Chávez.) If he reiterates his threats to undo energy reforms or scuttles the sensitive North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations or embraces Venezuela, he could lead voters to settle for unappealing but safe choices. Or he could (uncharacteristically) maintain self-discipline and hammer away at the one message that is winning: everyone else is a crook.

Some former and current U.S. officials warn against overreacting to an AMLO win next summer. Pointing to his successful tenure as mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, they privately say he is more pragmatic and less ideological than he portrays himself. With major issues like energy reform rapidly underway, and bilateral security cooperation with the United States on a firm institutional footing, these officials believe López Obrador will have less room to damage U.S. interests.

López Obrador may turn out to be more along the lines of former Peruvian president Ollanta Humala, who took office as a certified friend of Chávez and ended up governing as a moderate. (AMLO is unlikely to pursue this analogy, given Humala’s jailing last month on money laundering charges.) Additionally, AMLO’s top economic adviser is a mainstream economist who fully supports NAFTA. The key wildcards are whether the NAFTA renegotiation is perceived as a loss for Mexico, and whether the White House brings rhetorical fire and fury down on all things Mexican. Either could trigger AMLO’s inner Fidel Castro.

At less than 11 months out from the elections, Mexican voter anger is real, intense, and widespread. It is directed at a political establishment that is perceived as inept, unresponsive, and corrupt. This should come as no surprise to the Trump administration, which should start developing a strategy for dealing with a populist Mexican government.

*Richard G. Miles is director of the U.S.-Mexico Futures Initiative and deputy director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

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Diplomatic Underground

The sordid double life of Washington’s most powerful ambassador

The women were brought into the Abu Dhabi apartment in abayas

“Pick who you want,” the men were told, and she would be theirs until noon the next day.

Roman Paschal recalled about seven women to choose from. They dropped their long cloaks, he said, revealing “nightclub clothes” underneath. He picked a woman who turned out to be from Romania.

Paschal recalled about seven women to choose from. They dropped their long cloaks, he said, revealing “nightclub clothes” underneath. He picked a woman who turned out to be from Romania.

Paschal had been flown to the United Arab Emirates by his friend Yousef Al Otaiba, in whose apartment they were gathered. It was the winter of 2003-2004, and Otaiba was a rising star in the UAE, though still a few years away from becoming the nation’s ambassador to the United States.

He had recently befriended Otaiba at a Washington, D.C., strip club, quickly becoming a charter member of a tightknit crew that the Emirati once affectionately referred to as “team ‘Alpha.’” This was Paschal’s introduction to the high-flying life Otaiba led. And it wouldn’t be his last. For four years, he partied with Otaiba in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, and Abu Dhabi, with Otaiba footing the eye-popping bills.

Lea la continuación:

https://theintercept.com/2017/08/30/uae-ambassador-yousef-al-otaiba-double-life-prostitutes-sex-work/

Publicadooriginalmente en  The Intercept

¿Por qué?

Como muchos mexicanos, he visto con gran inquietud el escalamiento de la tensión con un país muy lejano y que ningún mal nos ha hecho. Como muchos otros mexicanos también he intentado explicar el motivo de la animosidad del gobierno de México contra Venezuela. El gobierno de ese país ha reaccionado a una larga campaña diplomática en la OEA encabezada por el de México y ambos han caído en un indeseable intercambio de recriminaciones. Un elemental oficio diplomático ha estado ausente. Para los mexicanos, la  búsqueda de explicaciones plausibles es del todo infructuosa porque el gobierno nos ofrece sólo hechos, pero sin argumentos que los expliquen y mucho menos que los justifiquen. ¿Es por la Democracia? ¿por los Derechos Humanos? ¿es por la carambola interna? ¿es por el TLC? ¿Es por la sucesión presidencial? ¿es un conflicto ideológico?  Porque no se puede tirar a la basura, así como así, más de ciento cincuenta años de una línea diplomática que ha servido bien a México. Los mexicanos nos merecemos una explicación. ¿Por qué?

Francisco Correa Villalobos, Embajador de México en retiro

Carta a Senadores de la República

Después de un interludio de silencio, México Internacional reanuda sus artículo y documentos con la publicación de dos textos sobre el caso Venezuela en la política exterior de México, un tema que tomó a casi todo mundo por sorpresa por su desvío y alejamiento de una política sostenida por más de un siglo y medio que sirvió bien a los intereses de nuestro país. El primero es un corto texto del que esto escribe en el que simplemente se pregunta el porqué de ese cambio. El segundo es una carta que dirigen tres embajadores de carrera jubilados a senadores de la República, en la que fundamentan jurídicamente la ilegalidad de esa política y piden a los senadores que se erijan en los guardianes del apego de la política exterior de México a los preceptos constitucionales y a las normas del derecho de gentes más elementales de la convivencia internacional.

 

Ciudad de México, a 22 de agosto de 2017.

 

 

  1. Senadora Dolores Padierna Luna,

P r e s e n t e .

 

Distinguida senadora Padierna Luna:

 

Tenemos el agrado de dirigirnos a usted en nuestra condición de Embajadores de México de carrera jubilados del Servicio Exterior Mexicano, con una larga experiencia en ese servicio del Estado, con el objeto de llamar su atención a la delicada crisis que se ha creado contra Venezuela, con motivo de la situación interna que vive ese país hermano.

 

Al respecto, destacamos a su atención el artículo 89 fracción X de nuestra Carta Magna que, al definir las facultades del jefe de Estado, indica que el presidente dirige la política exterior.  Añade que en el cumplimiento de esta responsabilidad, “…observará los principios de autodeterminación de los pueblos, no intervención…”. La Constitución no establece una facultad potestativa sino que asigna una obligación al Poder Ejecutivo que, en este caso, ha sido violada.

 

Debemos subrayar que el principio de no intervención no sólo es una norma constitucional, sino que constituye una norma de derecho internacional reconocida como tal por la Corte Internacional de Justicia, el tribunal de más alta jerarquía mundial, en su sentencia Nicaragua vs Estados Unidos de 1986 (International Court of Justice. Year 1986. 27 June 1986. Case concerning military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua. (Nicaragua v. United States of America).   

 

Como lo señaló la Corte en dicha sentencia, la norma de no intervención prohíbe a todos los Estados o grupos de Estados intervenir directa o indirectamente en los asuntos internos o externos de otros Estados. Una intervención, dice la Corte, afecta cuestiones sobre las que un Estado, en virtud del principio de soberanía del Estado, debe decidir libremente. Una de estas cuestiones, añade la Corte Internacional de Justicia, es escoger libremente su sistema político, económico social y cultural, así como la formulación de su política exterior. (Véase ibid. p 205)

 

También dijo la CIJ, el principio de respeto a la soberanía de los Estados está, en derecho internacional, estrechamente relacionado con el principio de no intervención. (ibid., p. 212). En otras palabras, no se puede violar el principio de no intervención sin violar los principios de igualdad soberana de los Estados y de respeto a la soberanía del Estado.

 

También, hay que recordar que la Carta de las Naciones Unidas, en su artículo 2º reitera la igualdad soberana de los Estados, y en la de la Organización de Estados Americanos, las fracciones b) y e) del artículo 3, explícitamente señalan ambos principios como normas a respetar.

 

Consecuentemente, a la luz del derecho internacional, está fuera de toda norma la declaración del Representante Permanente de México ante la Organización de Estados Americanos Embajador Luis Alfonso de Alba, cuando dijo el 24 de julio de 2017, que “con absoluto respeto a la soberanía de Venezuela…insistimos que no puede ni debe invocarse el principio de no intervención para justificar alteraciones al orden democrático”. Esta política no sólo viola el artículo 89 X de la Constitución y el derecho internacional, sino que implícitamente admite a priori una intervención extranjera en México si se ejerce el derecho establecido en el artículo 39 constitucional y en el artículo 3 de la Carta de la OEA.

 

Como justificación de las medidas políticas, y ahora económicas contra Venezuela, se ha invocado la aplicación de la resolución de la Asamblea General de la OEA, llamada Carta Democrática Interamericana, un documento que carece de fuerza obligatoria porque no tiene las características que el derecho internacional de los tratados establece para crear obligaciones a los Estados. Pero aun suponiendo, sin conceder, que Venezuela hubiera asumido como obligatorios los compromisos que fija la Carta Democrática, no justificaría que otros Estados (como los de la Declaración de Lima) tengan el derecho de verificar su cumplimiento y aplicar dicha Carta, ya que el compromiso se habría contraído frente a la OEA y no ante dichos Estados y  la Organización fue incapaz jurídicamente de aplicar esa Carta en las últimas sesiones del Consejo Permanente de la OEA y en su Asamblea General celebrada en Cancún. (Véase a este respecto ibid para 262)

 

Esta “nueva política exterior”, que data del sexenio de Ernesto Zedillo y  continuó en los de Vicente Fox y Felipe Calderón, apoyados por opiniones de intelectuales y funcionarios de nuestra Secretaría que han argumentado que los principios constitucionales en la materia deben “modernizarse” o que deben ser “flexibles”-, -sin tomar en cuenta que el presidente de Estados Unidos ha amenazado con usar la fuerza contra México- en la actual administración federal su inobservancia ha sido llevada a una insólita, e injustificada tensión con un país hermano que ha mantenido relaciones de cordialidad y cooperación con el nuestro.

 

La actuación del secretario Luis Videgaray, de la subsecretaria Socorro  Flores Liera y del Representante Permanente ante la OEA, Luis Alfonso de Alba, en el marco de las últimas sesiones del Consejo Permanente de la OEA y de la  última Asamblea General de dicho organismo celebrada en Cancún,  ha recibido duras y justificadas críticas de parte del gobierno venezolano y de otras naciones latinoamericanas y caribeñas, extrañadas de un proceder totalmente contrario a la tradición moral, constitucional y de respeto al derecho internacional de nuestra política exterior, invariablemente aplicada durante más de ciento cincuenta años y al espíritu latinoamericanista que la ha distinguido.

 

No estamos convencidos de que La Democracia y los Derechos Humanos, ambos valores universales, sean el motivo de  la política exterior en el caso de Venezuela, porque si así fuera, por simple coherencia estaríamos  interviniendo en los asuntos internos de la inmensa mayoría de los Estados miembros de Naciones Unidas.

 

El 27 de febrero, el secretario Videgaray pidió al Senado que prestara su concurso en la formulación de una política exterior de Estado, y en esa tarea, estamos convencidos que el Senado de la República debe  erigirse como garante de la integridad jurídica de la política exterior e impedir que, a nombre de México, se implemente una política que atenta contra normas y principios de elemental convivencia internacional aceptados universalmente, que puede revertirse contra los intereses de seguridad nacional de México.

 

El Senado de la República  tiene la capacidad para interpelar al Poder Ejecutivo en materia de política exterior y, creemos, que ésta es una oportunidad única de hacerlo para que el Presidente y su Secretario de Relaciones Exteriores expliquen el verdadero motivo de una actuación carente de toda licitud en el caso de Venezuela.

 

 

Embajador de México en retiro Sergio J. Romero Cuevas

Embajador de México en retiro Francisco Correa Villalobos

Embajador de México en retiro Enrique A. Romero Cuevas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caso Venezuela: La Constitución es sabia

 

Por Francisco Correa Villalobos, Embajador de México en retiro

“Los insultos…van ser irrelevantes para la postura de México vs Venezuela”. Esta imprudente declaración del secretario de Relaciones Exteriores, Luis Videgaray. al final de la tensa y frustrante Asamblea de la OEA, revelan el embrollo en el que inmerecida e irreflexivamente se involucró a México con motivo de la compleja, polarizada y ­­­endurecida situación política venezolana.

La obvia carambola interna de descalificación y combate al plurivalente concepto de “populismo, la cándida intención de halagar al gobierno de Estados Unidos con miras a la renegociación del TLC y el deseo de anotar un triunfo internacional a Peña Nieto, llevó a Videgaray a intentar este triple juego hace algunos meses deslizando, con el buen rostro de una mediación bien intencionada, una cuña de presión multilateral contra el gobierno venezolano que éste rechazó desde un principio y, después,  vació de contenido renunciando a su membresía en la OEA.

Los objetivos políticos de Peña Nieto y Videgaray sólo tenían sentido en la medida en que México asumiera el protagonismo de la ofensiva diplomática. Otros países de peso en el continente, como Brasil, Argentina y Colombia, con fuertes movimientos de oposición popular o “populista”, se colocaron en la esquina de los entrenadores, mientras otros, como Chile, Perú, Paraguay y Honduras tomaron asiento en primera fila de ring-side, en tanto el dueño de la arena y promotor se movía de un lado a otro animando las porras.

Como reacción a decisiones de Maduro, la posición del gobierno de EPN fue perdiendo su tenue matiz mediador para convertirse en el claro reflejo de las posiciones de uno de los bandos venezolanos y tomando el camino de un choque frontal contra un muro de resistencia más firme de lo previsto que no auguraba ningún beneficio. El grupo de pequeños países del Caribe vio en la ofensiva contra Venezuela, el mayor de sus miembros, un intento de vulnerar su propia seguridad e independencia, algo que minusvaloraron los inefables estrategas de la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores y desconcertó a analistas externos, de los cuales Andres Oppenheimer es un ejemplo. (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/andres-oppenheimer/article157463039.html).

Al final, la identificación con una de las partes del conflicto venezolano y el desaseado, casi priísta, manejo de las formas de la diplomacia parlamentaria, que tan bien describió la Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores de Ecuador (http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2017/06/23/politica/013n1pol) hundieron en el fracaso al triple juego de Videgaray.

La frase con que abrimos este artículo no augura un enfoque racional en el de por sí indeseable manejo de una crisis que ha escapado a la mediación de numerosos y bien intencionados jefes y exjefes de Estado de todo el mundo. Como nunca en su historia, la OEA se enfrenta a una escisión que la puede llevar a una muerte lenta, lo cual no es nada lamentable, pero en el piso 20 de la avenida Juárez 20 deberían preguntarse si quieren llevarse el mérito de la desgracia o bajarse del ring y tomar asiento en la primera o segunda fila de ring-side y tranquilamente leer el párrafo X del artículo 89 de la Constitución.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Korean Crisis

Atrapado en los enredos de su propia incompetencia y acosado por sus enemigos políticos, que son muchos, aumentan los temores de que Trump eche mano de un recurso usual de los políticos en problemas serios: rogar para que se produzca un gran desastre natural o fomentar una crisis que galvanice la opinión pública a su favor. En Estados Unidos, como lo dijo la esposa del expresidente James Carter, la gente ama la guerra y Trump ya pudo evaluar la eficacia de un golpe externo para ganar unos puntitos de popularidad, cuando lanzó unos misiles de crucero con el pretexto de que el gobierno sirio había usado armas químicas contra un hospital de los mercenarios, un cargo nunca comprobado y que el gobierno norteamericano y  los medios han querido hundir en el olvido, hasta que el Pentágono “descubrió” que, después de todo, el Estados Islámico sí tiene armas químicas, como lo dijo el gobierno sirio, y que las pueden usar contra los soldados gringos con uniformes e insignias del YPG kurdo en Raqqa.

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/12/politics/us-sanctions-isis-chemical-weapons/index.html

Ahora Trump ha abdicado en favor del Pentágono la facultad de decidir el número de soldados que se requieran en Afganistán y Siria, facultad que los presidentes Bush y Obama usaron selectivamente, junto con la opción diplomática, según las circunstancias políticas internas o externas. De inmediato, el Pentágono anunció un incremento en el número de soldados en Afganistán, que ahora ascienden a 8500 y que, como dijo el secretario “Mad Dog” Mattis, “no están ganando la guerra”,  después de 15 años y cientos de miles de afganos muertos.

Mattis aprovechó la ocasión para desbancar a Rusia como el peligro -Estados Unidos siempre está amenazado- más grande y declaró a Corea de Norte como una amenaza inminente.

Desde la bien meditada crisis de paranoia del 11 de septiembre de 2001 que puso a toda la población norteamericana bajo vigilancia extrema y se decretó la Estrategia Nacional de Seguridad en 2002, el régimen de George W. Bush señaló a Irak, Irán y Corea del Norte como el “Eje del Mal” y presionó a innumerables países para que se volcaran contra ellos. Numerosos analistas norteamericanos y europeos advirtieron que tal estrategia provocaría una fuerte reacción de contención, defensa y autoafirmación ante Estados Unidos y una carrera para desarrollar armas nucleares de parte de Irán y Corea del Norte. Noam Chomsky cita a varios de esos analistas en su libro Hegemonía o Supervivencia (Ediciones B, S. A., Barcelona, 2016; traducción del original en inglés de 2004)

Los vaticinios resultaros correctos y las tensiones, que nunca desaparecieron con la firma del armisticio que suspendió las hostilidades de 1950-1953, han aumentado paulatinamente hasta llegar al intimidante nivel de hoy en día.

En el artículo que sigue se ofrece un análisis del nivel de desarrollo de las instalaciones nucleares norcoreanas, de los intentos durante los regímenes de Clinton y Bush y  otrospaíses para llegar a un acuerdo con Kim-Jong-Il, de las opciones abiertas a una negociación y de los inmensos risgos que presenta Trump..

Francisco Correa Villalobos, Embajador de México en retiro

 

Avoiding Apocalypse on the Korean Peninsula: Why Diplomacy Is Not Naïve Appeasement

By Rajan Menon

Defense Secretary James Mattis remarked recently that a war with North Korea would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale.” No kidding. “Tragic” doesn’t even begin to describe the horrors that would flow from such a conflict.

The Korean peninsula, all 85,270 square miles of it, is about the size of Idaho. It contains more soldiers (2.8 million, not counting reserves) and armaments (nearly 6,000 tanks, 31,000 artillery pieces, and 1,134 combat aircraft) than any other place on the planet. The armies of North and South Korea face each other across the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, and Seoul, South Korea’s capital, is a mere 35 miles away as the artillery shell flies. More than 25 million people inhabit that city’s greater metropolitan area, home to about half of South Korea’s population. Unsurprisingly, untold numbers of North Korean missiles and artillery pieces are trained on that city. Once the guns started firing, thousands of its denizens would undoubtedly die within hours. Of course, North Koreans, too, would be caught in an almost instant maelstrom of death.

And the war wouldn’t be a bilateral affair. South Korea hosts 28,500 American troops. In addition, there are some 200,000 American civilians in the country, most of them in Seoul. Many in both categories could be killed by North Korean attacks and the United States would, in turn, hit multiple targets in that country. Pyongyang might retaliate by firing missiles at Japan, where 39,000 American troops are stationed, concentrating on the network of American bases and command centers there, especially the US Services Headquarters at Yokota Air Base near Tokyo.

And that’s without even considering the possible use of nuclear weapons. If anything, Mattis’s description is an understatement. And don’t assume that the danger of a Korean conflagration has passed now that President Trump has become trapped in the latest set of political scandals to plague his administration. Quite the opposite: a clash between North Korea and the United States might have become more probable precisely because the president is politically besieged.

Trump wouldn’t be the first leader, confronted with trouble at home, to trigger a crisis abroad and then appeal for unity and paint critics as unpatriotic. Keep in mind, after all, that this is the man who has already warned of “a major, major war” with North Korea.

Trump vs. Kim

So far the coercive tactics Trump has used to compel North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program and cease testing ballistic missiles have included sanctions and asset freezesmilitary threats, and shows of force — both serious, as in the recent Key Resolve and Operation Max Thunder joint military exercises with South Korea, and farcical, as with a supposedly northward-bound naval “armada” that actually sailed in the opposite direction.

Such moves all involve the same presidential bet: that economic and military pressure can bend Pyongyang to his will. Other American presidents have, of course, taken the same approach and failed for decades now, which seems to matter little to Trump, even though he presents himself as a break-the-mold maverick ready to negotiate unprecedented deals with foreign leaders.

By now, this much ought to be clear, even to Trump: North Korea hasn’t been cowed into compliance by Washington’s warnings and military muscle flexing. In 2003, after multilateral diplomatic efforts to denuclearize North Korea ran aground, Pyongyang ditched the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and two years later declared that it possessed nuclear weapons. In October 2006, it detonated its first nuclear device, a one-kiloton bomb. Four other tests in May 2009, February 2013, January 2016, and September 2016, ranging in explosive yield from four to 10 kilotons, followed. Three of them occurred after the current North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, came to power in April 2012.

A similar pattern holds for ballistic missiles, which North Korea has been testing since 1993. The numbers have risen steadily under Kim Jong-un, from four tests in 2012 to 25 in 2016.

Clearly, the North’s leaders reject the proposition that American approval is required for them to build nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles. Like his father, Kim Jong-il, and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (or DPRK, North Korea’s official name), Kim Jong-un is an ardent nationalist who regularly responds to threats by upping the ante. Trump’s national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster, characterized Kim as “unpredictable.” In reality, the Korean leader, like his father and grandfather before him, has been remarkably consistent: he has steadfastly refused to stop testing either nuclear weapons or their possible delivery systems, let alone “denuclearize” the Korean peninsula, as McMaster demanded.

Indeed, from Pyongyang’s perspective Trump may be the unpredictable one. On one day, amid press reports that the Pentagon was considering a preventive strike using means ranging from Tomahawk cruise missiles to cyber attacks, the president declared ominously that North Korea “is a problem, a problem that will be taken care of.” He followed up by warning Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom he was then hosting at his Mar-a-Lago estate, that if China wouldn’t rein in Kim, the United States would act alone. Not so long after, Trump suddenly praised Kim, calling him a “pretty smart cookie,” presumably impressed that the North Korean leader wasn’t even 30 years old when he succeeded his father. On yet another day, the president announced that he would be “honored” to meet Kim under the right circumstances and would do so “absolutely.”

The roller-coaster ride otherwise known as the presidency of Donald Trump has many people perplexed. Trump’s boosters believe that the president’s unpredictability gives him leverage against adversaries. But in the event of a military crisis on the Korean peninsula, Trump’s pendulum-like behavior could lead North Korea’s leaders to conclude that they had best prepare for the worst — and so strike first. That prospect makes the Kim-Trump combination not just dangerous but quite possibly deadly.

Old Claims, New Possibilities

Standing in the way of a fresh policy toward North Korea are a set of assumptions beloved within the Washington Beltway and by the foreign policy establishment beyond it — and rarely challenged in the mainstream media.

Perhaps the most common of them is that diplomacy and conciliation toward North Korea won’t work because its leaders only respond to pressure. So pervasive and deeply rooted is this view that it makes fresh thinking about Pyongyang next to impossible.

Given the failure of both sanctions and saber rattling, however, a new approach would have to involve diplomacy (in case you’ve forgotten that word) and serious negotiations with the North. Here’s one possible way to go that might, in fact, make a difference.

North Korea would agree, in principle, to dismantle its nuclear weapons installations, rejoin the NPT, and allow comprehensive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify its compliance. Concurrently, the United States would pledge not to attack North Korea or topple its regime and to move toward normalization of political relations.

Major steps taken by North Korea on the path to denuclearization would be matched by cuts in American military forces in South Korea. Once Pyongyang delivered completely, the United States would remove all its forces and fully lift economic sanctions on the North.

The United States, South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia would undertake to fund and, for some of its future energy needs, build new Light-Water Reactors (LWRs), which reduce the risk of bomb-grade plutonium production. These would be subject to regular inspections and electronic surveillance by the IAEA and all spent fuel would be transported out of North Korea. The dismantling of the North’s nuclear facilities, verified by intermittent inspections and continuous electronic monitoring, would — as in the nuclear deal with Iran — prevent the production of weapons-grade plutonium (PU-239) or uranium (UR-235)

Once these steps were completed, both Koreas would begin to pull back their troops massed along the Demilitarized Zone and so create an even wider region free of weapons and troops between the two countries. They would agree not to reintroduce troops and armaments into the vacated areas and to allow monitoring by international observers. Over perhaps a 10-year span the two states would commit to additional military pullbacks plus reductions in the number of weapons each possessed, focusing on retiring those most suited to offensive warfare.

If Trump is indeed prepared to meet with Kim, it should be to do a deal along these lines, not to deliver in person the sort of ultimatums that the North has rejected for years.

The Diplomacy-Won’t-Work Trope

Typically, proposals like these are dismissed on the grounds that they combine the worst of all worlds: the appeasement of a despotic regime and reckless naïveté.

Let’s start with the appeasement charge, the gist of which seems to be that Pyongyang’s cruelties bar diplomatic engagement with it. This claim amounts to sanctimonious puffery and historical amnesia. The United States has, in various forms, supported a vast array of despotic regimes, including Greece during the brutal “regime of the colonels” (1967-74); Indonesia under Suharto (who presided over the slaughter of half a million people in 1965-1966); and Iraq under Saddam Hussein during the 1980s, when his government was gassing Kurds and razing their villages. And of course in South Korea there was the US-backed government of President Syngman Rhee (1948-1960), whose security forces killed more than 100,000 people, 30,000 to 60,000 in the infamous 1948 Cheju massacre alone, as part of an effort to decimate any left-wing opposition in the country.

North Korea’s state, while undeniably repressive, has persisted for more than 60 years and must be part of any plan to reduce the risk of war on the peninsula. Attempting “regime change,” à la Iraq in 2003 or Libya in 2011, would certainly prove disastrous. In comparison, the upheaval and death that followed the ousters of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi would seem minor and the bloody reverberations of such an event would extend far beyond the peninsula.

Counting on China, Pyongyang’s principal benefactor, or Russia to squeeze North Korea so that it undertakes far-reaching reforms amounts to wishful thinking. Neither country wants to trigger instability there for fear that the country might collapse, creating mayhem on its borders and releasing a floodtide of refugees that they would have to deal with. In addition, China views the North as a buffer with South Korea, an American ally and a forward base for US military power. From Beijing’s vantage point, if changes in North Korea careened out of control, the eventual result could be a unified Korean state allied with Washington. For the Chinese, the status quo on the peninsula, while anything but ideal, beats such a roll of the dice. Beijing has been willing to impose sanctions on Pyongyang and sees it as mercurial and reckless, but it is not about to strangle it economically.

As for the charge of naïveté when it comes to a proposal to begin the partial demilitarization of the peninsula, that’s part and parcel of prevailing Washington orthodoxy, a deep conviction that North Korea will never surrender its nuclear weapons as part of a grand bargain. In fact, progress toward just such a denuclearization was made during Bill Clinton’s presidency, when the sticks were briefly put aside and the carrots brought out. In October 1994, negotiations led to what was called the Agreed Framework.

Its details are complicated, so brace yourself for a barebones summary: North Korea agreed to shut down its reactor at Yongbyon, place the plant’s spent fuel in sealed containers for shipment out of the country, stop construction on two larger reactors (at Yongbyon and Taechon), remain a party to the NPT, and permit the IAEA to inspect its nuclear sites to verify the agreement’s implementation. In exchange, the United States, Japan, and South Korea undertook, through a consortium, to build two light-water reactors (LWRs) suitable for generating electricity but not for producing weapons-grade plutonium and to provide Pyongyang with 500,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil pending the completion of the reactors.

Eventually the Agreed Framework fell apart, a development for which all the parties share blame. North Korea’s ongoing missile tests, while not banned by the deal, bolstered the accord’s critics in Washington. It also faced resistance in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, which in 1994 were, for the first time in four decades, in Republican hands, while the Clinton administration proved inept in defending the agreement. Having stopped producing plutonium at Yongbyon, North Korea complained about the delay in building the LWRs. (Work on the first reactor didn’t start until August 2002.) The South Korean government, stuck with partially funding those plants, was unenthusiastic, too.

The Bush administration arrived in office in 2001 ready to shred the Agreed Framework. Soon enough, however, it sought to resurrect a version of that deal during the “Six-Party Talks,” which began in 2003 and included both Koreas, the United States, Russia, China, and Japan.

Here again the details are labyrinthine, but the basic formula that emerged did indeed resemble the Agreed Framework: North Korea was to receive both those LWRs and economic aid in exchange for freezing and then dismantling its nuclear program. The North Koreans even allowed American and other technical experts to observe it shutting down the Yongbyon reactor. It also provided reams — 18,000 pages to be exact — of documentation on its nuclear program. Most importantly, having frozen plutonium production in 1994, it continued to do so until 2003.

For its part, the Bush administration removed North Korea from the State Department’s list of countries accused of sponsoring terrorism and exempted it from the Trading with the Enemy Act.

There were also threats, theatrics, and setbacks aplenty. In the end, the Six-Party Talks failed for reasons similar to those that killed the Agreed Framework: quarrels over the nature and scope of verification procedures, North Korea’s missile tests and confirmation of reports that it had embarked on efforts to build uranium-based nuclear weapons, and UN sanctions. President George W. Bush, of course, included that country, along with Iran and Iraq, in what he infamously termed the “axis of evil,” which he called a “grave and growing danger” in his January 2002 State of the Union address. His administration also listed North Korea in the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review as one of the states that might become the target of a preventive strike.

The lessons to be drawn from this grim record are not that North Korea will not negotiate, let alone that it won’t ever agree to freeze, or even terminate, its nuclear program. Instead, the history of these failed deals should be looked to for ideas on better ways to reach a consensus-based solution.

This much remains clear: the more Pyongyang suspects that Washington’s real goal is regime change, the less likely it will be to relinquish its nuclear weapons for fear of suffering the fate of Muammar Gaddafi, who shut down his nuclear program only to be toppled in what began as a US and NATO humanitarian intervention to protect civilians but morphed quickly into a campaign to take him out.

North Korea and the Legacy of War

The notion that North Korea couldn’t possibly fear an American attack and that its claims to the contrary amount to paranoia reflects a stunning ignorance of history. Between 1950 and 1953, North Korea experienced firsthand the devastation the American military machine was capable of inflicting. As Charles Armstrong, a historian of Korea, has written, in those years “American planes dropped 635,000 tons of bombs on Korea — that is, essentially North Korea — including 32,557 tons of napalm, compared to 503,000 tons of bombs dropped in the entire Pacific theater of World War II.” Armstrong estimates that 12%-15% of the North Korean population might have died, “a figure close to or surpassing the proportion of Soviet citizens killed in World War II.”

As happened during the Anglo-American terror bombing of Germany and Japan, the distinction between civilians and soldiers, so central to International Humanitarian Law and Just War Theory, was defenestrated. Many Americans know about the bombing of Dresden, Berlin, Hamburg, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki and the deliberate targeting of civilians in an attempt to break their morale. But few know what happened to North Korea in the early 1950s. In his haunting book, On the Natural History of Destruction, W.G. Sebald writes that Germans did not discuss the wartime bombings because Nazi crimes made them hesitant to cast moral judgments on other states, no matter what they had done to Germany. There has been no such repression of memory or reticence by the state or the citizenry of North Korea.

As a result, the usual dismissals of Pyongyang’s apprehension about what the United States might do to a denuclearized country are both callous and foolish. Successful negotiations would mean taking its security concerns seriously, not rejecting them as paranoid demands, especially given that American military power remains so close, that Washington has threatened to attack the North more than once, and that the American president only recently boasted to the president of the Philippines (in a conversation leaked online) of the two US nuclear submarines that were evidently somewhere off the North Korean coast at that moment.

Cutting the Umbilical Cord

A grand bargain that combines aid and political normalization in return for denuclearization and the pullback and reduction of troops on the Korean peninsula could be made even more attractive to Pyongyang if it included a phased withdrawal of the 28,500 American troops in South Korea. The standard claim — that this would leave South Korea defenseless — is ludicrous.

South Korea has twice the population of the North: 50.6 million to 25.2 million, and they are better educated, far better fed, and much healthier. Just look at the data on life expectancyinfant mortality, and the amount and quality of calories consumed. The South, then, has far more and better human capital.

The gap in economic power is gargantuan. South Korea, an industrial and technological powerhouse, has a $1.5 trillion gross domestic product (GDP), the world’s 12th largest. Valued at $30 billion, North Korea’s ranks 115th internationally, barely ahead of Senegal’s. In other words, South Korea’s economy is about 50 times larger than the North’s, and its per capita GDP ($37,900) exceeds North Korea’s ($1,800 — and so comparable to South Sudan’s) by a factor of 21. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about investments in education and technology or living standards, South Korea inhabits a different universe than the North.

Confronted with such economic comparisons your garden variety Washington military wonk might quip, “Fine, but GDP doesn’t fight.” Fair enough, strictly speaking. So let’s ignore the multiple ways in which wealth shapes military power and consider the military data alone. The results may surprise you.

According to the most recent State Department estimate, South Korea spends more than seven times what North Korea does on its armed forces. And given the South’s technological prowess and purchases of American arms, it has a far more modern military than the North, which still uses Soviet and Chinese armor and aircraft developed during the 1950s and 1960s. Then there’s the relative burden of military spending. South Korea allocates 2.6% of its GDP to its armed forces, North Korea, 23.3%. In other words, South Korea can easily increase military spending without undue hardship. Not so North Korea.

Remember this the next time you hear that the North has many more troops, tanks, artillery, and submarines. Remember as well that the numerical balance is about even or substantially favors the South in other armaments, such as combat aircraft, frigates, and destroyers.

In other words, in a future settlement that includes a stage-by-stage US military withdrawal, South Korea will hardly be left defenseless.

Averting Apocalypse?

Since the end of the Korean War, crises on the peninsula have come and gone. Some have been dangerous indeed. In the run-up to the 1994 Agreed Framework, for example, Defense Secretary William Perry proposed military options that included increasing the number of American troops in South Korea and readying long-range bombers and aircraft carrier battle groups to strike the Yongbyon reactor.

Still, the current crisis has no equal. Sitting in the White House is a president whose narcissism knows no bounds, whose ignorance of the world is staggering, who talks blithely about war and nuclear weapons, and who is besieged by political scandals. Meanwhile, North Korea’s ruler, like his predecessors, refuses to be cowed by American shows of force and continues to test ballistic missiles — three in May alone.

A deal resembling the one sketched above may never be reached and, given past history, it won’t be arrived at easily. Yet threats and displays of military power by the United States haven’t worked. Ever. If President Trump acts on the assumption that he and “his” generals can make them work and that North Korea will become reasonable only when faced with the certainty of war, there could be a conflagration on the Korean peninsula the likes of which would be almost unimaginable.

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here.

RAJAN MENON

Rajan Menon is the “Anne and Bernard Spitzer” professor of international relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and senior research fellow at Columbia University’s Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. He is the author, most recently, of The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention.

Reproducido de TomDispatch.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links Between Terrorism in UK and Iraq War

La introducción al artículo siguiente debió figurar aquí, pero el avezado lector podrá suplir la torpeza en el manejo del blog y adentrarse en la lectura de los nexos entre política exterior y terrorismo de un país que, con su codicia colonial, ha ensangrentado al mundo por cientos de años y ahora hace frente a creyentes antes sometidos que traen a la capital y ciudades del decadente imperio una tardía reacción desde dentro de la antigua metrópoli.

 

 

 

Links between terrorism in the UK and the Iraq War  

by David Morrison and Peter Osborne

Despite explicit warnings from MI5, politicians are still refusing to acknowledge how the UK’s role in the Iraq invasion led to terrorism at home

This month three leading British politicians from different parties have committed themselves to the same self-seeking and potentially lethal fallacy.

Each claimed that British foreign policy made no contribution to the risk of terrorism against British people.

Predictably, the three included Tony Blair, who has never acknowledged the consequences of his decision to join our country to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

On 6 July, the eve of the 10th anniversary of the London bombings, he was interviewed on LBC radio by his former Cabinet colleague, Tessa Jowell. She asked him: “What do you say to those people now who say that the causes of 7/7, and indeed subsequent terrorist attacks, can all be traced back to our involvement in the invasion of Iraq?”

Blair gave a rambling reply. “One of the most important things to do is to look at things in the bigger context. I mean, 9/11 in New York was probably the first really large-scale terrorist attack and obviously we had certain foreign policy responses to that. The problem is that even those countries that didn’t, for example, participate in Iraq at all – like France – are now subject to these attacks. You see them most recently in Tunisia but you see even countries like Belgium or Norway, who are countries who have no real foreign policy presence, are also subject to this.

“At a certain point we have got to realise that this is a global problem. You see it in Africa, you see it in the Far East, you see in Central Asia and, of course, you see it in the Middle East. And the only way of dealing with it ultimately is for people to come together, whatever their faith background, and say we’re united against this terrorism and to say we’re not going to allow anyone to excuse themselves by saying that the slaughter of totally innocent people is somehow a response to any decision by any government. It’s the responsibility of those who carry out those acts of terrorism and those who incite them.”

Logical fallacy

We will turn shortly to the honesty of this reply, but note here that it contains a clear logical fallacy. The fact that other countries have suffered terrorist attacks for other reasons does not refute the proposition that the Iraq war made terrorism more likely in Britain. One could equally argue (as did tobacco companies for many years) that because some non-smokers die of lung cancer smoking does not increase the risk of lung cancer.

Blair was followed on 17 July, by Liz Kendall, the only one of Labour’s four leadership candidates willing to campaign as his heir.

Interviewed by the Evening Standard she said that it was “totally and utterly wrong” to suggest that terrorist atrocities were caused by British foreign policy. She added: “As if the world is divided into adults and children. Nobody makes anybody behead someone and put the picture on the internet. Nobody makes somebody take a Kalashnikov and kill two of my constituents [victims of the Tunisian beach atrocity].”

This is another confused argument. Ms Kendall makes a fair but obvious point in suggesting that British foreign policy gives no one any excuse to commit evil by terrorism. But again, this does not refute the suggestion that our foreign policy might make such evil more likely.

Most important, David Cameron on 20 July announced a five-year strategy against terrorism. His speech included this convoluted passage which echoed Tony Blair’s denial of the role of the Iraq war. “When people say ‘it’s because of the involvement in the Iraq war that people are attacking the West’, we should remind them: 9/11 – the biggest loss of life of British citizens in a terrorist attack – happened before the Iraq war.” Of course, but yet again this has no relevance to the question of whether that war, and subsequent foreign policy, have added to the risk of terrorism.

Blair, Kendall and Cameron, and all their followers, should consider the evidence of Baroness Manningham-Buller to the Iraq inquiry five years ago. They have no need to wait for the distant day when the inquiry report is published because this evidence was clear and unequivocal.

As Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, she was the director general of MI5, the UK’s domestic intelligence agency, from October 2002 until April 2007, that is, for a few months before the US-UK invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and for four years afterwards while the US and UK were occupying the country.

On 20 July 2010, she gave evidence to the Iraq inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot.  She was asked, “To what extent did the conflict in Iraq exacerbate the overall threat that your service and your fellow services were having to deal with from international terrorism?” She replied: “Substantially.”

Later, she said there was hard evidence of the increased threat, for instance, “numerical evidence of the number of plots, the number of leads, the number of people identified, and the correlation of that to Iraq and statements of people as to why they were involved”.

She told the inquiry that because of this, even though MI5’s budget had been increased in 2001 and in 2002, “By 2003 I found it necessary to ask the prime minister for a doubling of our budget. This is unheard of, it’s certainly unheard of today, but he and the Treasury and the Chancellor accepted that because I was able to demonstrate the scale of the problem that we were confronted by.”

So, let there be no doubt about it, according to the director general of MI5 at the time, al-Qaeda activity in Britain increased “substantially” because of Britain’s participation in the invasion of Iraq.  This activity included the London bombings of 7 July 2005, in which 52 people were killed and more than 700 were injured.

Immense energy has been devoted to the issue of whether Tony Blair misled Britain’s parliament and people about the threat from Iraq’s supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction. (See for example, David Morrison’s pamphlet Iraq: Lies, Half-Truths & Omissions, published in November 2003.)

It is equally important, however, to consider whether Blair misled them by suppressing the warning he had received from the UK’s intelligence services that the threat to Britain from al-Qaeda was likely to be “heightened” by the proposed military action against Iraq. This warning was contained in a formal assessment by the UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) in February 2003, entitled International Terrorism: War with Iraq. This sought to evaluate how al-Qaeda related groups would react to the impending US-UK invasion of Iraq.

Iraq war ‘heightened threat’

Aspects of this assessment came into the public domain in September 2003, when the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) published its report, Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction – Intelligence and Assessments. In paragraph 126, this ISC report stated: “The JIC assessed that al-Qaeda and associated groups continued to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests, and that threat would be heightened by military action against Iraq.”

Blair didn’t tell the House of Commons of this intelligence warning, when he moved the war motion in the House of Commons on 18 March 2003.

A significant part of the prime minister’s case that day was that there was “a real and present danger” that chemical and biological weapons would find their way from Iraq to al-Qaeda or associated groups unless Iraq was disarmed of these weapons. However, he omitted to tell the House of Commons that the JIC assessment he had received a few weeks earlier warned that “in the event of imminent regime collapse there would be a risk of transfer of such material, whether or not as a deliberate Iraqi regime policy” (ISC report, paragraph 126).)

In her evidence to the Iraq inquiry, Manningham-Buller confirmed that the government was warned in advance that there was likely to be a “heightened” threat from al-Qaeda as a result of British participation in the invasion of Iraq. She agreed that her judgment prior to the invasion was that “a war in Iraq would aggravate the [terrorist] threat from whatever source to the United Kingdom” (p31) and that “there wasn’t any particular controversy amongst the intelligence agencies about that judgment” (p32).

This was communicated to the government through JIC assessments and, in her case, directly to the home secretary (who was David Blunkett at the time) to whom the head of MI5 reports. If ministers read JIC assessments, she said, “they can have had no doubt” that, in the opinion of the intelligence services, the projected invasion of Iraq would increase the threat to Britain from al-Qaeda.

Warning borne out by events

As we have seen, this warning by the intelligence services was amply borne out by events after the invasion.

Manningham-Buller was asked by Sir Roderic Lyne (former ambassador to Moscow, and a member of the Iraq inquiry committee) “how significant … a factor was Iraq compared with other situations that were used by extremists, terrorists, to justify their actions?”

She replied: “I think it is highly significant … By 2003-2004 we were receiving an increasing number of leads to terrorist activity from within the UK and the – our involvement in Iraq radicalised, for want of a better word, a whole generation of young people, some British citizens – not a whole generation, a few among a generation … saw our involvement in Iraq, on top of our involvement in Afghanistan, as being an attack on Islam.

“So although the media has suggested that in July 2005, the attacks on 7/7, that we were surprised these were British citizens, that is not the case because really there had been an increasing number of British-born individuals living and brought up in this country, some of them third generation, who were attracted to the ideology of Osama bin Laden and saw the West’s activities in Iraq and Afghanistan as threatening their fellow religionists and the Muslim world.

“So it undoubtedly increased the threat and by 2004 we were pretty well swamped – that’s possibly an exaggeration – but we were very overburdened by intelligence on a broad scale that was pretty well more than we could cope with … ”

So, there is no doubt whatsoever that al-Qaeda activity in Britain increased “substantially” as a result of Britain’s participation in the invasion of Iraq – and that our security services correctly predicted this effect.

MI5 website says ‘Iraq a dominant issue’

When London was bombed on 7 July 2005, the rest of the political establishment joined Tony Blair in asserting that it was wrong to think that the bombers had been motivated by the invasion of Iraq. Remarkably, at the same time, a page on the MI5 website, headed “Threat to the UK from International Terrorism,” stated straightforwardly: “Iraq is a dominant issue for a range of extremist groups and individuals in the UK and Europe.”

This simple message remained in plain sight on the MI5 website for the next couple of years. It would be interesting to know who removed it, and why.

Blair’s near admission

It is worth noting that Tony Blair came very close to admitting the relationship of the Iraq war and terrorism in his resignation speech on 10 May 2007 in his Sedgefield constituency. According to the Guardian’s report he said: “Removing Saddam and his sons from power, as with removing the Taliban, was over with relative ease, but the blowback since, from global terrorism and those elements that support it, has been fierce and unrelenting and costly.”

The term “blowback” is one of those modern euphemisms (led by “collateral damage”) used to sanitise the effects of modern warfare. But it shows recognition by Blair that the slaughter of innocent people on 7 July 2005, and on other occasions, was a consequence – albeit unintended – of US-UK military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A vital judgment

It is vital for all current British politicians to recognise that the Iraq war made domestic terrorism more likely and a far greater problem to our police, our armed forces and our security services – and that any subsequent military interventions could have the same consequences.

Such recognition in no way excuses or legitimises terrorism of any kind, from any source.

Still less does it mean that our foreign policy should be governed by the fear of domestic terrorism.

However, it does mean that policymakers should consider the additional risk of terrorism from any proposed action, and present an honest assessment of that risk to Parliament and the British people.

That is an essential step to restoring British foreign policy to its proper role of serving British interests. For too long this has been abandoned in the increasingly desperate pursuit of British “influence” or a “special relationship” with the United States or a seat at some imagined “top table” of nations. These nebulous objectives were the real reasons for our participation in the Iraq war and occupation, which brought the British people nothing but debt and danger and dishonour and death.

 David Morrison has written widely on the deception perpetrated by the British government to induce the British public to support military action against Iraq . He is the author with Peter Oborne of A Dangerous Delusion: Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran published in April 2013. More of his writing is available at www.david-morrison.org.uk.

– Peter Oborne was British Press Awards Columnist of the Year 2013. He recently resigned as Chief Political Columnist of the Daily Telegraph. His books include The Triumph of the Political Class; The Rise of Political Lying;and Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran.

Reproducido de The MiddleEast Eye, May 26, 2017

 

British Intelligence warned Tony Blair of Manchester-like terrorism if the West Invaded Irak

Vamos mal. muy mal. Las masacres en el Medio Oriente no parecen tener fin. Ramadán es sólo un pretexto para que los fanáticos asesinen de un solo golpe a cientos de familias que se reúnen al final del tensionante ayuno a relajarse en una heladería o restaurante. Estados Unidos bombardea y masacra  civiles en Mosul y alrededores que suman más de tres mil en un año, según el portal Airwars, mientras incrementa a miles sus  fuerzas de ocupación en Raqqa, con el propósito  ostensible de combatir a ISIS, pero en realidad para impulsar la creación de un estado kurdo para desmembrar Siria, ocupar  ricos yacimientos de petróleo  y alcanzar  su invariable y trágico objetivo de “cambio de régimen”, una política que todo el orbe ha sufrido como consecuencia de su aplicación en Irak y Libia, y ahora insiste en aplicarla en Siria para mantener una brutal hegemonía a través de su  apéndice Israel, que cínicamente no oculta su apoyo logístico y militar al Estado Islámico para eventualmente añadir otro pedazo de territorio,  éste con petróleo,  a su proyecto “bíblico” del Gran Israel.

Por su parte, la ingenuidad, para usar un término amable, de Trump parece haber desencadenado una crisis entre los sátrapas de la península arábiga y el golfo Pérsico, que se estaba calentando desde hace decenios. Todos ellos se acusan de lo que practican: el patrocinio del terrorismo, algunos wahabita y otros simplemente sunita, pero todos sangrientos y criminales. El clan Saud va “fuerte y con todo” por un “cambio de régimen” en Qatar.

Gran Bretaña vuelve a sufrir atentados que sus propios servicios de inteligencia previeron que se producirían como reacción a su agresión armada contra Irak y Siria. El Informe Chilcot del Parlamento Británico es una acusación directa contra el ex primer ministro Anthony Blair, su guía y mentor Bush y el patiño falangista Aznar, ¿alguien se acuerda de él? Ni los del PP.

Mientras tanto Estados Unidos, embarcado en una lógica mortal, practica el brinkmanship contra Rusia y Corea del Norte. Ésta sólo defiende su supervivencia como país independiente y todo el mundo agradece a China que la irresponsabilidad de Trump no haya resultado en una catástrofe. Pero en Europa realizará Estados Unidos este verano cuatro ejercicios militares con más de diez países a pocos kilómetros de la frontera de Rusia. La grieta política que causó Trump en la OTAN todavía no alcanza a los estamentos militares.

En el continente americano, un individuo que pretende hablar por toda una organización de Estados, pero promueve una agenda política de élites privilegiadas en Venezuela, Estados Unidos y otros países, contribuye con sus arengas en redes sociales a mantener un clima de violencia callejera en Caracas y otras ciudades. El gobierno de México, en un juego de carambola política interna que sirve a los intereses norteamericanos con miras al 2018, ha abandonado una tradicional política exterior de no intervención en los asuntos internos de otros países e incurrido en una flagrante violación de la Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, mientras continua en la senda de la “cesión inteligente de soberanía” a Estados Unidos que  promueve, como asesor privilegiado de Videgaray, el inveterado aspirante a gringo, Jorge G. Castañeda. Todo ello, mientras la violencia interna se ha agravado y generalizado en una clara demostración que, como no sea para el latrocinio impune, el Estado ha desaparecido de amplias regiones de México y su función la ha ocupado la delincuencia organizada.

Por último, el desequilibrado ocupante de la Casa Blanca de Washington no logra disipar las cada vez más densas nubes de sospecha sobre algún arreglo con hackers, presumiblemente rusos, para torpedear la candidatura de Hillary Clinton. Ello ha hecho creer a muchos analistas norteamericanos que la desesperación de Trump puede inducirlo a crear una grave crisis internacional para galvanizar la opinión pública a su favor. Los grandes medios, inclusive el NYT y el WaPo, lo calificarían de “presidencial” y se extasiarían con las “hermosas” estelas de los misiles. Como sucedió con Siria.

Por último, bajando a nuestro nivel de humildes mortales, el solemnemente anunciado Proyecto Mentor para los jubilados del Servicio Exterior de carrera se acerca cada vez más a un mini proyecto piloto que no pasará de cubrir, hasta el próximo cambio de gobierno en 2018, a no más del 8% del total de jubilados. Eso sí. Todas las compensaciones serán a cambio de trabajo duro. Pero el señor Presidente de la República, Enrique Peña Nieto, y el Canciller de la República, Luis Videgaray, ya dejaron constancia de su histórica creación en el  imponente Reconocimiento al Servicio Exterior Mexicano el 28 de abril pasado en Los Pinos,

Estamos mal, vamos muy mal. Si sabe rezar, por favor, hágalo.

Embajador Francisco Correa Villalobos

 

 

 

British Intelligence warned Tony Blair of manchester-like terrorism if the west invaded iraq

 by Jon Schwarz

FORMER BRITISH PRIME Minister Tony Blair has yet to say anything about Monday’s heinous, nihilistic suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. According to current reporting, the attack has been claimed by ISIS and was carried out by a 22-year-old man born in Manchester to Libyan refugees.

But when Blair does speak, we can be certain he won’t mention one key fact: Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq led by the U.S. and U.K., he was forcefully and repeatedly warned by Britain’s intelligence services that it would lead to exactly this type of terrorist attack — and he concealed these warnings from the British people, instead claiming the war would reduce the risk of terrorism.

We know this because of the Chilcot Report, the seven-year-long British investigation of the Iraq War released in 2016. The report declassifies numerous internal government documents that illustrate the yawning chasm between what Blair was being told in private and his claims in public as he pushed for war.

On February 10, 2003, one month before the war began, the U.K.’s Joint Intelligence Committee — the key advisory body for the British Prime Minister on intelligence matters — issued a white paper titled “International Terrorism: War With Iraq.”

It began:

The threat from Al Qaida will increase at the onset of any military action against Iraq. They will target Coalition forces and other Western interests in the Middle East. Attacks against Western interests elsewhere are also likely, especially in the US and UK, for maximum impact. The worldwide threat from other Islamist terrorist groups and individuals will increase significantly.

And it concluded much the same way:

Al Qaida and associated groups will continue to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests, and that threat will be heightened by military action against Iraq. The broader threat from Islamist terrorists will also increase in the event of war, reflecting intensified anti-US/anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim world, including among Muslim communities in the West. [emphasis added in both cases]

The same report concluded that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq “would aspire to conduct terrorist attacks against Coalition interests” only in the event of an invasion. Moreover, “authoritative reporting suggests that Iraqi Intelligence (DGI) has little reach or [terrorism] capability outside Iraq.”

Specifically regarding WMD terrorism, the JIC elsewhere judged that Iraq “would be unlikely to undertake or sponsor such terrorist attacks,” that the threat of it if Iraq were not invaded was “slight,” and that there was no “credible evidence of covert transfers of WMD-related technology and expertise to terrorist groups.”

Tony Blair’s case for war, as most clearly expressed in his March 18, 2003 remarks in the House of Commons, essentially turned all of this on its head. The possibility, Blair said, of terrorist groups obtaining WMD from a state like Iraq was “a real and present danger to Britain and its national security.”

“The real problem,” Blair proclaimed, “is that, underneath, people dispute that Iraq is a threat, dispute the link between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and dispute, in other words, the whole basis of our assertion that the two together constitute a fundamental assault on our way of life.” Blair did not mention that the people disputing this included his own intelligence services.

Then Tam Dalyell, a Labor MP from Scotland, asked Blair this key question:What could be more calculated to act as a recruiting sergeant for a young generation throughout the Islamic and Arab world than putting 600 cruise missiles — or whatever it is — on to Baghdad and Iraq?”

Blair did not reveal the explicit warnings from the JIC that exactly this would happen. No, he told Dalyell, “Unless we take action against [Al Qaeda], they will grow. That is why we should act.” Terrorist organizations wouldn’t be motivated, as the JIC had told him, by an invasion of Iraq, because their true motivation was that “they detest the freedom, democracy and tolerance that are the hallmarks of our way of life.”

Blair’s stunningly fraudulent case for war carried the day, 412-149. The current British Prime Minister Theresa May, then a Conservative front bencher, voted for it. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn voted against.

Then exactly what the JIC had predicted occurred. Fifty-two people were killed in July 2005 when four suicide bombers — three of whom were British-born — carried out attacks on the subway and a bus in London. One of the killers taped himself stating that they were killing their fellow citizens because Western governments “continuously perpetuate atrocities against my people all over the world.” In a separate tape another said, “What have you witnessed now is only the beginning of a string of attacks that will continue and become stronger until you pull your forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Two months ago, a British-born Muslim convert murdered four people with a car on Westminster Bridge, then got out and stabbed a policeman to death. Just minutes before his killing spree he declared via WhatsApp that he was acting in revenge against Western wars in the Mideast.

And now we have the slaughter in Manchester. ISIS has declared that the attack was carried out “in order to terrorize the polytheists, and in response to their transgressions against the homes of the Muslims.”

In her testimony before the Chilcot inquiry, Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of MI5 at the time of the Iraq invasion, explained all of this:

Our involvement in Iraq radicalized, for want of a better word … a few among a generation … [who] saw our involvement in Iraq, on top of our involvement in Afghanistan, as being an attack on Islam.

An increasing number of British-born individuals … were attracted to the ideology of Usama Bin Laden and saw the West’s activities in Iraq and Afghanistan as threatening their fellow religionists and the Muslim world.

If British officials had read the JIC’s warnings, Manningham-Buller said, they could “have had no doubt” that this was likely to happen.

So did Blair read the intelligence, specifically the February 2003 paper on international terrorism?

He absolutely was aware of it, Blair told the inquiry, “but I took the view then and take the same view now that to have backed down because of the threat of terrorism would be completely wrong.”

But of course this was just another brazen misrepresentation by Blair. He had not taken “the view then,” at least in public, that invading Iraq would increase the risk that Britons would die in terrorist attacks, but it would be somehow worth it. Instead he had claimed that they would be at greater risk without a war, because if left alone Saddam Hussein would enable WMD-armed terrorism.

Asked how she saw this perspective, Manningham-Buller told the inquiry that “It is a hypothetical theory. It certainly wasn’t of concern in either the short-term or the medium-term to my colleagues and myself.”

In the end, the most plausible explanation of Blair’s motivation is simply that he was willing to sacrifice the lives of British citizens so that the U.S. could continue running the world with the U.K. holding its coat. Richard Shultz, a professor of international politics at Tufts who’s long been a key national security state intellectual, wrote in 2004 that “A very senior [Special Operations Forces] officer who had served on the Joint Staff in the 1990s told me that more than once he heard terrorist strikes characterized as ‘a small price to pay for being a superpower.’”

The victims of the Manchester bombing, among them an 8-year-old girl, are that small price.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day in an ICE detention center

 

 

Nuestros consulados en Estados Unidos están, sin duda, familiarizados con las condiciones del trato que reciben nuestros connacionales indocumentados cuando son arrestados por los agentes de Customs and Border Protection y de Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), pero no así nuestros colegas en otras partes del mundo. El trato humillante y despectivo de los agentes de migración estadunidenses hacia los mexicanos, documentados o no, ha sido una constante, aunque no generalizada, en todos los puntos de entrada de la frontera desde hace muchos años. Con la toma del poder de Trump, el régimen norteamericano ha convertido esas actitudes racistas en comportamiento correcto social y oficial, en detrimento de personas procedentes de México, Centroamérica, Haití, otros países latinoamericanos y africanos que solicitan asilo en Estados Unidos huyendo de circunstancias inaguantables en sus países de origen, sólo para encontrar un trato inhumano al llegar a ese país. México Internacional reproduce un artículo  de The Intercept basado en testimonios escritos por las víctimas, cuyo originales pueden verse en el enlace que aparecen el cuerpo del artículo.

 

Mother’s day in an ice detention center

Por Sharon Lerner

THE WOMAN ARRIVED at the U.S.-Mexico border with her daughter in late April. “From what I had heard about the U.S., it was supposed to be a country that practices showing love to their fellow man. But what I have experienced with my daughter was horrible,” she wrote a few days later, after she was transferred from Border Patrol custody to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

An official took me who humiliated me, throwing all of my things into the trash, even the medicines of my daughter and the food that, with much work, I had brought. When I walked in to give my declaration the officials laughed at me because I arrived wet and with mud up to my abdomen. I asked them to please allow me to change my daughter’s clothes, but they wouldn’t let me. … We were still wet with mud. My sadness was that my daughter was shaking from the cold, wet and thirsty. But they would not give us water or food.

The letter was one of 22 I received from women who had crossed into the United States in recent weeks and were awaiting asylum hearings at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. Although the worst treatment, such as that described above, occurred before the women arrived at Dilley, conditions at the camp were described in stark terms.

The center, a complex of trailers surrounded by barbed wire in this small town south of San Antonio, is one of three Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities that house women and children in the U.S.

U.S. policy on detaining families and children has fluctuated over the years. For decades, people seeking asylum in the U.S. were released while awaiting their hearings. Even with minimal supervision, the overwhelming majority of those not detained showed up for their asylum hearings. But a 1996 law made it more common to detain people hoping to get asylum while their cases were being processed. After largely doing away with family detention, in 2014 the Obama administration responded to a sudden influx of refugee children and families from Central America by detaining large numbers of families and speeding up deportations.

Obama’s family detention camps were strongly condemned for their inhumane conditions, but Trump has arguably made the situation even worse. “There’s been a much stronger emphasis on making the asylum process stricter, detaining more people and keeping them in detention for longer periods of time,” said Katharina Obser, a senior program officer at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

As the president’s rhetoric about “bad hombres” and border walls has escalated, the number of women entering the country without documentation has fallen — and the number of residents in the Dilley center, the largest immigrant detention facility in the country, has fluctuated. Though it has the capacity to accommodate up to 2,400 residents, the actual census is at times much lower. The number of people spending this Mother’s Day at the center is between 300 and 400, according to RAICES, an immigrants rights group that gathers this information from several sources, and the Dilley center has held as few as 120 people in recent months.

Because CoreCivic, the private company (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America) that operates the family residential center for ICE, is paid a flat fee for running the detention center, the per-person cost of staying at the centers has soared even after monthly payments for running Dilley were cut from more than $20 million to $12.6 million when its contract was revised in October. When the facility is at its emptiest, taxpayers are shelling out more than $3,500 per person per night to keep women and children at Dilley, more than the bill for a night in the fanciest penthouse suite in one of Donald Trump’s Hawaiian resorts.

By all accounts, the experience at Dilley is nowhere near as grand. The restrooms lack privacy. Lights are sometimes left on at night, making it difficult to sleep. The women at Dilley report that the water smells and tastes bad and sometimes makes them sick. Many people in town have voiced similar concerns, and according to Dilley resident Jose Asuncion, “anyone who can afford to buys bottled water.” Medical care at Dilley as well as the two other ICE family detention centers has been inadequate, according to immigration advocates.

“We consistently hear reports of poor medical treatment,” said Amy Fischer, policy director at RAICES, which is part of a group effort to provide services to women and children at the center. RAICES also runs a shelter in San Antonio that houses families released from family detention, where, Fischer said, “we never got a kid who was leaving detention in good health. The hospital in San Antonio has diagnosed kids released from Dilley as being ‘Dilley-ish’ because they’re all sick with stomach and upper respiratory issues.”

ICE denied my request to tour the Dilley facility and did not respond to a request for comment. CoreCivic did not respond to a request for comment.

The letters from women detained at Dilley told of frustrations and humiliations not just at the detention center but at “hieleras,” the temporary facilities run by Customs and Border Protection, where many of them stayed right after crossing the border and before being transferred to Dilley. “Hielera” is Spanish for icebox. And they described treatment that was cold in every sense.

According to government guidelines, no one is supposed to be detained for more than 72 hours at the holding cells, which aren’t designed for overnight stays and typically don’t have beds. Border Patrol workers are instructed to keep family members together and to keep temperatures at the facilities comfortable. “Under no circumstances will officers/agents use temperature controls in a punitive mann

Yet, according to the letters, these standards are often violated. Several described being subjected to frigid temperatures. “My daughter was purple from how cold she felt,” one mother recounted. “They wouldn’t give us any blankets. Her lips and her hands and feet were all purple.”

Another wrote of her son becoming feverish during the five days they spent in the hielera. And several letter writers complained of having their children taken away from them. One woman wrote that she asked a female guard to see her twin daughters who had been taken from her. “She said no and slammed the door in my face,” she wrote. “They wouldn’t let me see them even for a minute. I didn’t know if they were getting food.”

Letters fom Dilley https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3720003-Letters-From-Dilley.html#document/p1

Even though they were coming to the United States to escape suffering in their own countries, the women repeatedly described being floored by the cruelty with which they were treated. “One officer hit me on my fingers and told me that I better prepare myself, that they were going to deport me,” one mother described. Another wrote that guards threatened to put her children up for adoption.

Women reported that they and their children often did not receive enough to eat or drink. Perhaps most humiliating, many said they were denied access to the bathroom. “They closed the doors with chains and we were unable to go to the bathroom,” one woman wrote, noting that a guard told her that “this is your punishment for coming here.” Even after this practice sometimes caused accidents, border guards sometimes refused the women’s requests to bathe.

Although access to toilets was meted out like a prize, the bathrooms themselves were sometimes filthy. “It smelled like dead animals and excrement,” wrote one mother, who said she developed an infection at the hielera.

She, like several of the mothers, focused on how their treatment since crossing the border might affect her child. But her letter made clear that the experience had changed her, too. “I thought that entering this country, which had always been my dream, was always going to be an unforgettable day,” she wrote in her letter. “It was. But it was the saddest and ugliest day I could have imagined.”

Reproducido de The Intercept, 14 de mayo de 2017

Venezuela: un análisis

por Embajador (r) Antonio Pérez Manzano

(r)

Decorado durante la gubernatura de Enrique Peña Nieto en el Estado de México, el aeropuerto de Toluca despide a los pasajeros con un mural alegórico de los viajes al extranjero, inusuales entonces para un jefe de Estado mexicano, del presidente Adolfo López Mateos, que fueron parte de una política exterior que dio a México un cierto prestigio internacional de independencia en los peores momentos de la Guerra Fría.

El presidente Peña llegó al poder sin ocultar su aspiración de igualar la imagen de liderazgo que proyectó su coterráneo mexiquense, pero sus serios tropiezos internos y la unipolaridad les restaron significación política a unos viajes que, además, han parecido programados en función del esplendor protocolario.

Pero el que persevera alcanza y ahora México ha asumido finalmente un liderazgo, aunque muy diferente al de su modelo.

López Mateos basó buena parte de su prestigio internacional por soportar las presiones de Estados Unidos respecto de Cuba y quedar aislado de la casi totalidad de gobiernos latinoamericanos, muchos de ellos encabezados por auténticos “gorilas” y el resto por civiles de la misma especie. Aunque, en contrapartida utilizó su férreo control de la disidencia interna de izquierda como una manera de complacer a Estados Unidos en la realización de intereses compartidos.

El actual gobierno de México, por su parte, ha obrado en el plano regional con un criterio comercial para agruparse selectivamente con unos pocos países de peso igualitario, pero sin ejercer mayor influencia política en el continente.  A nivel mundial, las intervenciones de nuestro Jefe de Estado en Naciones Unidas han pecado de olvidables o presuntuosas.

Ahora, con motivo de la pretensión de aplicar a Venezuela la resolución de la Asamblea General de la OEA, titulada Carta Democrática Interamericana, el gobierno mexicano ha adoptado una posición muy crítica de decisiones que son de la jurisdicción interna de un estado soberano y anunciado que es “hora de actuar” y de restaurar la democracia en Venezuela.[i]

Hay un buen número de opiniones divergentes sobre la obligatoriedad de la resolución antes citada, no sólo para los Estados Miembros de la Organización de Estados Americanos, sino para sus mismos órganos. Pero la práctica de los Estados Miembros está muy lejos de mostrar una congruencia que permita deducir que existe una opinión generalizada que la Carta Democrática es un documento de carácter vinculatorio de la voluntad de los Estados Miembros. Al final, el interés nacional de cada uno de ellos, expresado por el gobierno en turno, es el que determina el valor jurídico o la utilidad política que se quiere asignar a dicha Carta en cada caso concreto.

Los gobiernos de México no deberían mostrar incongruencias en lo que concierne dicha Carta Democrática, porque el artículo 89 párrafo X de la Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos establece claramente los intereses nacionales que deben normar la conducción de la política exterior. En el caso de Venezuela, la aplicación del principio de no intervención, tal como está definido tanto en la Carta de la Organización de Estados Americanos, que tiene carácter de ley constitucional, como en la Declaración sobre los Principios de Derecho Internacional Referentes a las Relaciones de Amistad y Cooperación entre los Estados, conforme a la Carta de Naciones Unidas (resolución AGONU 2625(XXV), reconocida por la Corte Internacional de Justicia como fuente de Derecho Internacional (Caso Nicaragua vs Estados Unidos de América),  es una obligación ineludible e incontrovertible para el gobierno de México.

El artículo del Embajador Antonio Pérez Manzano, reproducido del número 62 de la Revista de la Asociación de Diplomáticos Escritores http://wp.diplomaticosescritores.org/article/vii-venezuela-escenario-internacional/, es un valioso análisis de las complejidades de la crisis venezolana y de los intereses y actitudes que mueven al gobierno y a los opositores, que nos ayudará a tener una visión más objetiva que la maniquea e interesada que ofrecen los medios internacionales o las demagógicas posiciones del secretario general de la OEA, Luis Almagro.  

 

Francisco Correa Villalobos

Embajador de México en retiro

[i] http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2017/03/23/actualidad/1490307662_491998.html

VENEZUELA: UN ANÁLISIS

Por Embajador (r) Antonio Pérez Manzano

Estimados amigos, lectores de ADE:

En estos días con motivo de la próxima publicación del No. 62  de nuestra revista trimestral, con ánimo informativo y formativo hacia mis  lectores, quise adoptar acciones reflexivas que me permitieran analizar alguno de los acontecimientos mundiales de interés para todos.

Con dicho espíritu empecé a escribir sobre la XXII Reunión Ordinaria del Consejo de Ministros de la Asociación de Estados del Caribe, que tuvo lugar en La Habana, Cuba, del 9 al 10 de marzo pasado. Igualmente, pretendía dar seguimiento a la importante XVI Reunión Cumbre de Jefes de Estado y de Gobierno, del llamado Mecanismo de Diálogo y Concertación de Tuxtla, celebrada el 28 de marzo en San José, Costa Rica, a la que asistió el Presidente de México y los mandatarios de Guatemala, Panamá, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, República Dominicana y ministro de Belice.

De pronto me saltan algunas noticias recientes: ¿Qué está pasando en nuestro continente?

  • En el seno de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) se ha estado discutiendo el asunto de Venezuela, tratando de darle sentido a la “Carta Democrática” en cuanto a conflictos internos de los Estados y el problema de la división de poderes, que por estos días han venido acrecentando sus enfrentamientos y que nadie sabe cómo o cuando se va a solucionar esa tragedia política, económica y social.
  • Dicha noticia me provocó un impacto, que me llevó a olvidar otros posibles temas, para enfocarme en un asunto que me interesa y que se supone conozco por haber trabajado en ese país durante casi cinco años (2002-2007) en plena era de Chávez.

Conflicto en Venezuela. Un Punto de Vista Personal.  Inmerso en las actividades de los organismos internacionales regionales, que involucran a México, Estados del Caribe y Centroamérica, las noticias, los gritos, las acciones violentas, me llevan a Venezuela, país en el que estuve dedicado a los asuntos económicos y al organismo internacional conocido como Sistema Económico Latinoamericano y del Caribe (SELA), con sede en Caracas, aunque analizaba y colaboraba en los asuntos políticos que tenían lugar en ese país y en otros de la región.

Antecedentes. Cuando llegué a la capital del país (diciembre de 2002) proveniente de Trinidad y Tobago, todo era efervescencia política, había marchas y manifestaciones por distintos lugares de Caracas y en otras ciudades del país. ¿Cómo explicarse ese ambiente de crispación política y social?

Yo tenía como referencias de otros colegas diplomáticos que los venezolanos tenían poca participación en asuntos políticos, inclusive se les consideraba como indiferentes a dicho fenómeno. Pero, lo que se estaba viviendo en esos días contradecía aquella visión parcial sobre la sociedad de Venezuela.

Algo que explicaba en parte aquel ambiente era el hecho de que estaba reciente el intento de golpe de Estado en contra del Presidente de la República, que ocurrió el 11 de abril de 2002. En su lugar los golpistas nombraron como nuevo Jede de Estado al líder empresarial Pedro Carmona Estanga, quien permaneció en el poder menos de tres días; dado que el 14 del mismo mes Hugo Chávez fue reinstalado, gracias a las presiones internacionales de organismos como la OEA y las movilizaciones dentro de Venezuela.[1]

Entre los meses de diciembre de 2002 y febrero de 2003 –apenas unos meses después del fallido golpe-, la oposición al régimen chavista mostraba su fuerza con marchas y manifestaciones en un principio festivas, que cada vez más se fueron haciendo más agresivas, al extremo que idearon la paralización del país al decretar el llamado “Paro Cívico Nacional”. Las facciones bien definidas entre los seguidores y favorecidos del gobierno de Hugo Chávez y los de la oposición relativamente unificada.

Dicho paro obligó a empresas, fábricas, talleres y todo tipo de negocios a cerrar. Solo algunos servicios indispensables funcionaban durante una parte de la jornada laboral. Asimismo, el ingenio de los paristas y marchistas pagados, instrumentó una forma de obstaculizar el tráfico automotor, a través de un sistema bien orquestado llamado “guarimba”; que consistía en colocar troncos de árboles  y llantas ardiendo, con una guardia de personas para evitar su remoción; esto se llevó a cabo en las principales arterias y autopistas de la ciudad. El movimiento nacional encabezado por la Federación de Cámaras de Comercio (FEDECÁMARAS) decidió que se cubrieran los salarios de los trabajadores que aceptaran marchar por las calles para exigir la renuncia de Hugo Chávez; situación que se prolongó durante casi dos meses, hasta que los recursos de los empresarios empezaron a menguar, pues el presidente no renunciaba. La oposición logró que los trabajadores de la empresa petrolera nacional (PDVSA) se sumaran al paro, con lo que los recursos del gobierno se veían fuertemente disminuidos, pero aún así el gobierno resistió. Esa es toda una historia aparte.

El ambiente era de enfrentamientos si se les quiere catalogar como “verbales y simbólicos”, pues el gobierno también acarreaba adeptos para organizar “contra marchas” y demostrar que tenía el apoyo popular. Los medios de comunicación también se unieron al paro, pero en lugar de cerrar sus negocios, dedicaron su tiempo, esfuerzo y creatividad para golpear al régimen chavista en todas las formas posibles; incluso más allá de lo permitido en las leyes venezolanas y la libertad de expresión. Aquello parecía la propaganda en un estado totalitario, pero al revés, ya que por esos tiempos el gobierno solo contaba con un canal de televisión con muy poca audiencia y un periódico que pocos leían.

En virtud de que el paro no logró doblegar al gobernante bolivariano, entonces iniciaron los movimientos para exigir con lo establecido en la Constitución, la posibilidad de revocar el mandato por la voluntad popular. Ese intento tampoco progresó pues los tiempos eran prematuros para la aplicación de dicha cláusula de revocación de mandato; pero la efervescencia continuaba y cuando ya se había cumplido la mitad del mandato presidencial, por fin se llevó a cabo el “referéndum revocatorio”, pero lo ganó el presidente Chávez. La historia continua y el asunto no se ha resuelto y no se sabe hasta cuándo la situación vaya a cambiar, para devolver a la sociedad venezolana la paz, la tranquilidad y el bienestar que se merece.

Provoca tristeza (por decir lo menos) observar cómo países potencialmente ricos en muchos sentidos -como es el caso de Venezuela-, atraviesan por graves crisis provocadas por individuos que solo buscan estar en el poder, no para servir a la sociedad, sino para servirse de ella; o para cumplir objetivos egoístas, tratando de imponer nuevos sistemas o modelos de vida, en cuyo propósito provocan una visible división entre los sectores de la sociedad que no comulga con sus ideas. Los que no están con la “revolución” están contra ella o sus dirigentes, por lo tanto hay qué combatirlos.

Por su parte, los oposicionistas a ultranza no han reparado en invertir sus capitales para mantener un ambiente de enfrentamiento social que por momentos los ha llevado a la violencia, a la creación de mártires y a la huida de personas y capitales que buscan mejores horizontes.

En esa lucha irracional, unos y otros han llevado al país a la ruina económica y a la permanente confrontación social, dado que el sistema que se trata de imponer no se ha consolidado; lo cual ha dañado no solo a los capitalistas que se venían beneficiando salvajemente con el statu quo que les garantizaba la alternancia en el poder y les permitía una estabilidad aparente, pero olvidándose de las clases desprotegidas, cuyos derechos humanos elementales habían sido ignorados, no obstante los periodos de bonanza petrolera.[2]

Al final, para un observador alejado de lo bueno y lo malo que pasa en el país sudamericano mencionado, Venezuela es un país dividido en dos grandes grupos (que no es el caso de religiones confrontadas como las facciones musulmanas sunitas y shiitas en Irak y países vecinos), que no se encuentran separados geográficamente, sino que conviven en las distintas ciudades y pueblos: por un lado los “revolucionarios bolivarianos” beneficiados con los cambios realizados por su gobierno, que durante un buen periodo se apoyó en los ingresos de divisas por la exportación de hidrocarburos; que ha destinado grandes cantidades de esos recursos a la creación de misiones sociales, para tratar de  remediar problemas de salud, educación, vivienda y otras más, con criterios asistencialistas y partidarios, lo cual ha desvirtuado lo bueno que tienen y ha provocado el rechazo de la otra parte “la oposición”, que no se ha visto beneficiada; sino más bien ha sido afectada como consecuencia de un control de divisas, exigencias para el pago de impuestos, fondo para la vivienda, seguridad social y otras cargas; así como el control de precios a los productos que se venían fabricando en el país, o de importación.

Los efectos indeseables de tales medidas, han sido en primer lugar, la escasez de los productos en el mercado, la especulación y el acaparamiento, todos ellos fenómenos de un capitalismo manchado por la corrupción, el mercado negro de dinero y el contrabando de todo tipo de bienes.

Finalmente, consigno que mi salida del país se llevó a cabo en agosto del año 2007 y, las peleas y los enfrentamientos por todos los medios continuaban.

Ahora 10 años después, se podría pensar que por fin, tanto gobierno, como oposición, han aprendido a convivir, lo cual no es cierto. Que los primeros han venido poniendo en práctica todo tipo de subterfugios para mantenerse en el poder y, los opositores sin mayor imaginación ni capacidad, continúan buscando la forma de dar por terminados esos 18 años de “socialismo del siglo XXI”. En las últimas elecciones parlamentarias la oposición –corrigiendo los errores del pasado-, logró la mayoría de diputados en la Asamblea Nacional; con lo cual se esperaba que el legislativo se constituyera en un contrapeso entre los otros poderes del Estado, especialmente del Ejecutivo, lo cual no ha ocurrido.

Parafraseando una de las leyes de Newton (principio de acción y reacción) que dice: “A toda acción corresponde una reacción, de la misma magnitud, pero en sentido contrario”[3] Así ha sido la historia reciente de Venezuela: una acción y una reacción.

Ante los avances de una oposición más unificada y consciente de la coyuntura política venezolana, el poder ejecutivo ha buscado diferentes formas para tratar de neutralizar los embates de la Asamblea Nacional, por lo que se producen continuos enfrentamientos. Unos a otros se acusan de desacato a las decisiones soberanas del poder legislativo, del poder judicial, del poder electoral y obviamente, del poder ejecutivo.

La confrontación política rebasa las fronteras venezolanas, ante la crisis humanitaria que padece la población, se han producido intentos de mediación por parte de personajes de la vida internacional, como el grupo formado por  los ex presidentes Martín Torrijos (Panamá), Leonel Fernández (República Dominicana) y por el ex jefe del Gobierno español José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, quienes dirigen una carta a los representantes de los Estados miembros de la OEA y les recuerdan que llevan casi un año “en esta misión para intentar superar un profundo antagonismo político y social que data desde hace casi 20 años”.

Dicho grupo se constituyó a mediados del 2016, bajo los auspicios de la Unión de Naciones Sudamericanas (UNASUR), la que se unió a los trabajos de mediación bajo la dirección del ex Presidente colombiano Ernesto Samper. Más recientemente, una comisión de diálogo propuesta por el Vaticano ha estado celebrando reuniones con las partes involucradas.

Nada de lo hecho hasta ahora, ha podido producir un acuerdo permanente de paz y de concordia que permita enfocarse en los padecimientos de la población, la que ha pasado a segundo término. Un intento más de la oposición ha sido involucrar a la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), de la cual Venezuela es miembro de pleno derecho. La Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela aprobó una Resolución en la que pide a la OEA aplicar la “Carta Democrática” al gobierno venezolano, se supone que dirigido solamente al ejecutivo.

Como reacción a lo anterior, el Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) emitió dos fallos contra la Asamblea Nacional dominada por la oposición, con los cuales  despojó a los diputados de su inmunidad y de las potestades que le restaban; son apenas dos eslabones más de la larga cadena de dictámenes que en los últimos 15 meses ha emitido y con los cuales ha ido reduciendo paulatinamente al Parlamento a un club de debates o tertulias. El TSJ se atribuye las funciones legislativas.

El argumento del TSJ para semejante operación, que hoy es calificada como un “golpe de Estado” por varios gobiernos y el Secretario General de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), Luis Almagro. Dicho argumento del TSJ afirma: “es que el Legislativo está en desacato porque no ha atendido sus instrucciones para desincorporar en un acto público a tres de sus miembros a los que suspendió, mientras decide si en su elección hubo o no irregularidades; y porque no ha reformado su reglamento interno.” Posteriormente, ante las críticas de la Fiscal de la Nación y la opinión pública el TSJ retrocedió parcialmente.

Ante dichas acciones, se producen las reacciones de los integrantes de la Asamblea Nacional, quienes se proponen destituir a los magistrados del TSJ y esto parece el cuento de nunca acabar, dado que en la OEA un grupo de países aprobó una resolución sobre Venezuela (previo sainete entre quienes se oponían a la celebración de la reunión, entre ellos el actual Presidente del Consejo Permanente de la OEA, el representante permanente de Bolivia y un importante grupo de representantes que exigían respeto a la agenda aprobada).

Por considerarlo de interés para el presente trabajo a continuación se inserta el texto de dicha decisión colectiva:

  • Resolución del 3 de abril de 2017 sobre los Sucesos Recientes en Venezuela.

El Consejo Permanente de la Organización de los Estados  Americanos, reiterando, reafirmando, etc.

  • Declara que:
  1. Las decisiones del Tribunal Supremo de Venezuela de suspender los poderes de la Asamblea Nacional y de arrogárselos a sí mismo son incompatibles con la práctica democrática y constituyen una violación del orden constitucional de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela. A pesar de la reciente revisión de algunos elementos de dichas decisiones, es esencial que el Gobierno de Venezuela asegure la plena restauración del orden democrático.

RESUELVE:

  • Urgir al Gobierno de Venezuela a actuar para garantizar la separación e independencia de los poderes constitucionales y restaurar la plena autoridad de la Asamblea Nacional.
  • Mantenerse dispuesto a apoyar las medidas que permitan el retorno al orden democrático a través del ejercicio efectivo de la democracia y el estado de derecho en el marco constitucional de Venezuela.
  • Seguir ocupándose de la situación en Venezuela y emprender, en la medida que sea necesario, gestiones diplomáticas adicionales para fomentar la normalización de la institucionalidad democrática, de conformidad con la Carta de la Organización de los Estados Americanos y la Carta Democrática Interamericana, incluyendo la convocatoria de una reunión de nivel ministerial.”

Para cerrar momentáneamente este capítulo, me permito transcribir el poema titulado:

“Los niños de Venezuela exigimos nuestros derechos”[4]

Los niños de Venezuela no queremos que nos usen
como conejillos de indias en las escuelas…

por qué pintar el rostro del odio y el ensañamiento
y no un arco iris de fe y esperanza en el firmamento;

en lugar de un criminal adoctrinamiento,
paz y amor como vivos mandamientos;

en lugar de ideología con falso endiosamiento,
una oración por la acción de tano niño hambriento;

en lugar de metralla y demás armamento,
mejor  la melodía con musicales instrumentos;

en lugar de orden cerrado sin razonamiento,
los más bellos ejemplos a cielo abierto;

en lugar de armas y discursos violentos,
la bondad de una paloma con vuelo libre al viento;

la idea de un mundo más humano y sin regimientos,
es el sueño del orbe sin fronteras en un concierto;

y por no desear la muerte, las armas y los pertrechos,
los niños de Venezuela exigimos nuestros derechos.

 

Por Hermes Varillas Labrador

 

[1] Cabe hacer notar que, el mismo Chávez fracasó años atrás (febrero de 1992) en su intento de derrocar al Presidente de la República Carlos Andrés Pérez. Chávez y otros militares cayeron presos. Tras ganar las elecciones presidenciales Rafael Caldera, decretó en 1994 una amnistía que dejó en libertad a los golpistas. Hugo Chávez salió fortalecido de la aventura golpista y participó como candidato a la presidencia en 1999, obteniendo el triunfo.

[2] Como una consecuencia de la situación política del país, viene al caso comentar que en cuestiones de crecimiento económico Venezuela decreció en 2002 en menos 10% y en 2003 tras una leve recuperación menos 8%.

[3] Visto en http://www.monografias.com/trabajos30/leyes-newton/leyes-newton.shtml#tercera

[4] http://www.poemas-del-alma.com/blog/mostrar-poema-436976