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This Issue: Destabilization and Regime Change
People looking at the United States from the outside tend to assume
that life is easy when you're an imperialist superpower in command of
the world's largest military forces, backed by the world's most powerful
economy. With so much power concentrated in your hands, what could
possibly go wrong?
More than you might think, in fact. One problem arises from the
widespread persistence of the institutions of parliamentary democracy.
Modern parliamentary democracies, it's true, have a number of points in
their favour. For one thing, they are better at managing public services
and the economy than dictatorships, military or otherwise, which tend
to be both corrupt and incompetent. And they provide a (somewhat)
plausible facade of democratic accountability which helps to disguise
the unpalatable fact that almost all important decisions are made behind
the closed doors of corporate and institutional boardrooms.
But the trouble with democratic forms like voting and elections is
that every so often, real democracy breaks out and propels parties and
people to office who don't play by the rules of the game. The most
outrageous offence, from the perspective of imperial power, is pursuing
policies that help ordinary people at the expense of transnational
corporations and local elites.
When a government goes so far as to govern in the interests of its
own population, it clearly has to be stopped. The mainstream media –
those owned by the local elite as well as those in the imperial centres –
start to churn out propaganda, day after day, about the 'extremism' of
the government, now referred to as a 'regime.' Western NGOs, funded by
the U.S. government and activist billionaires, become a funnel for money
that is poured into the country to pay for a massive destabilization
campaign. Meanwhile the U.S. embassy intensifies its ongoing contacts
with opposition leaders and military officers, many of whom have been
trained and indoctrinated in the United States.
The goal of a destabilization campaign is to overthrow an elected
government without having to resort to direct outside military
intervention, which looks bad and often fails to produce a stable
pro-western regime (e.g. Iraq, Libya). In recent years, the preferred
means have been massive funding of conservative middle-class political
parties, groups, and media (e.g. Ukraine, Venezuela), and
'constitutional coups.' A constitutional coup is a means of nullifying
an undesirable election result by making use of the levers of judicial
and executive power to get rid of a leader or government who has too
much popular support to defeat via the ballot box. The constitutional
coups which overthrew the governments of Honduras in 2009 and Paraguay
in 2012 are examples, as are the current attempts to impeach the elected
presidents of Brazil and Venezuela. One might also include the American
Supreme Court decision after the 2000 election, which handed the
election to George W. Bush, and Stephen Harper's proroguing of the
Canadian Parliament in 2008, aided and abetted by the unelected and
unaccountable Governor-General, as instances where 'constitutional'
means have been used to set aside election results.
Destabilization and regime change are the focus of this issue of
Other Voices. We feature a number of articles and books, as well as Bill
Blum's handy list of the instances since 1945 when the U.S. has
overthrown, or attempted to overthrow, a foreign government. We also
feature "The Anti-Coup", by Gene Sharp and Bruce Jenkins, which outlines
strategies and tactics which popular movements can use to prevent and
block coups d'état and executive usurpations of power.
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Topics of the Week
Destabilization and Regime Change
The articles in this issue cover only a few examples of the
countless interventions by the United States designed to undermine and
overthrow governments which challenge the will of the U.S. and the local
elites which the U.S. supports. The Connexions Subject Index has many
more articles and books documenting such attempts – many of them
successful – under Destabilization and Regime Change.
The Return of the Coup in Latin America
Venezuela and Brazil are the scenes of a new form of coup d'etat
that would set the continent's political calendar back to its worst
times. Meanwhile, in Argentina, the brutal model for the demolition of
democracy is set forward by the continental oligarchic right and the
hegemonic forces of US imperialism who wish to impose their model in the
region. Read more
Keywords: Regime Change – U.S. Imperialism
The struggle of Venezuela against 'a common enemy'
Washington wants to get rid of the Venezuelan government because
it is independent of US designs for the region and because Venezuela has
the greatest proven oil reserves in the world and uses its oil revenue
to improve the quality of ordinary lives. Venezuela remains a source of
inspiration for social reform in a continent ravaged by an historically
rapacious US. Read more
Keywords: Destabilization - Venezuela
Hybrid War Hyenas Tear Brazil Apart
The gloomy and repulsive night when the female President of the 7th
largest economy in the world was the prey of choice fed to a lynch mob
of hyenas in a drab, provincial Circus Maximus will forever live in
infamy. Read more
Keywords: Brazil – Destabilization
Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List
A list of the instances of the United States overthrowing, or
attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World
War. Read more
Keywords: Coups - U.S. Imperialism
Gene Sharp and Bruce Jenkins provide a detailed outline of
strategies and tactics which popular movements can use to prevent and
block coups d'état and executive usurpations of power. Read more
Keywords: Coups - Resistance
Website of the Week
An online journal focusing
especially on working class movements and struggles internationally.
Recent articles look at workers’ resistance in China, Italy, Greece,
Bangladesh, Turkey, and the United States. Visit the site
Keywords: Class Conflict - Labour Movement
Book of the Week
Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II
By William Blum
Is the United States a force for
democracy? William Blum serves up a forensic overview of U.S. foreign
policy spanning sixty years. For those who want the details on the
U.S.'s most famous actions (Chile, Cuba, Vietnam, to name a few), and
for those who want to learn about lesser-known efforts (France, China,
Bolivia, Brazil, for example), this book provides a window on what U.S.
foreign policy goals really are. Says Blum, "If you flip over the rock
of American foreign policy of the past century, this is what crawls
out... invasions ... bombings ... overthrowing governments ...
occupations ... suppressing movements for social change ...
assassinating political leaders ... perverting elections ...
manipulating labor unions ... manufacturing “news” ... death squads ...
torture ... biological warfare ... depleted uranium ... drug trafficking
... mercenaries ... It’s not a pretty picture. It’s enough to give
imperialism a bad name." Read more
Keywords: Central Intelligence Agency - Intervention
Film of the Week
The War on Democracy
This film by John Pilger explores the current and past
relationship of Washington with Latin American countries such as
Venezuela, Bolivia and Chile. The film shows how US intervention, overt
and covert, has toppled a series of legitimate governments in the Latin
American region since the 1950s. The democratically elected Chilean
government of Salvador Allende, for example, was ousted by a US backed
coup in 1973 and replaced by the military dictatorship of General
Pinochet. Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador have
all been invaded by the United States.
Pilger interviews several ex-CIA agents who took part in secret
campaigns against democratic countries in the region. He investigates
the School of the Americas in the US state of Georgia, where Pinochet’s
torture squads were trained along with tyrants and death squad leaders
in Haiti, El Salvador, Brazil and Argentina.
The film unearths the real story behind the attempted overthrow
of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez in 2002 and how the people of the
barrios of Caracas rose up to force his return to power.
It also looks at the wider rise of populist governments across
South America lead by indigenous leaders intent on loosening the
shackles of Washington and a fairer redistribution of the continent's
natural wealth. See more
Keywords: Intervention - Latin America
The History Behind the Organizer of the Water War
Oscar Olivera, a factory worker, was one of the key organizers of
the water war in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2000. Olivera says that his
experience as a worker and a member of a union taught him how to
organize in order to protect and defend the rights of working people. He
says that true revolutionaries are like children and that their
creativity and joy can change the world. Read more
Keywords: Organizing – Resistance
Remembering Argentina's Mothers of the Disappeared
April 30, 1977, Azucena Villaflor de Vincenti and a dozen other mothers
gathered in the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina’s capitol city to demand
justice for their children, who had been 'disappeared' by the military
junta during the Dirty War period - a reign of terror, backed by the
United States, that would last from 1976 to 1983. A tense atmosphere of
fear pervaded the years of the military regime in Argentina. Opposition
was not tolerated; tens of thousands of people were simply
'disappeared.' Read more
Mapping American Social Movements Through the 20th Century
This collaborative project features maps and other visualizations
showing the chronological geography of dozens of social movements that
have influenced American life and politics during the 20th century,
including radical movements, labour movements, women's movements, civil
rights movements, environmentalist movements, and more. The project is
intended to explore the relationships between social movements by
bringing them together in time and space, and to enable new
understandings of how social movements interact and how they reproduce
and change over time. Read more
Keywords: Historical Geography - Left History
The hidden treasures of Gaza
A small room on a rooftop in the occupied Gaza Strip’s crowded
Beach refugee camp resembles a miniature archaeological museum. It is
the workshop of Nafez Abed, 55, who studies archaeological artifacts in
order to replicate them in exquisite detail. Abed copies antiquities
photographed in history books and ones he’s seen during visits to
archaeological sites across Gaza, which many a civilization has passed
through, as well as in other Arab countries and Europe.
Keywords: Gaza - Artifact Conservation/Restoration
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May 1 - 22, 2016 - Toronto
Photography Exhibition: In/visible Scars - Torture Survivors in Canada
The exhibition tells the story of
eight people who now call Canada home. They hail from around the world,
have all experienced the horror and devastation that torture wreaks on
individuals and families, and have undergone the transformation from
victim to survivor to activist.
May 7 - 15, 2016 - International
Global Wave Of Resistance To Keep Coal, Oil, Gas In The Ground
An international mobilization to
keep fossil fuels in the ground and accelerate a just transition to 100%
renewable energy and a sustainable future for all.
May 12 - 14, 2016 – Quebec City
Canadian Association of Labour Media (CALM) conference
If you're responsible for your
union's communications, you do not want to miss this conference. CALM is
the only organization that brings labour communicators together, across
unions, regions and sectors, to strategize and learn about how to
improve labour communications..
May 14 - 15, 2016 - International
World Migratory Bird Day
World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is
an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the
conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. Each year, on the
second weekend in May, people around the world take action and organize
public events such as bird festivals, education programs, exhibitions
and birdwatching excursions to celebrate WMBD. However, countries or
regions observing the peak of migrations at other times of the year are
encouraged to celebrate WMBD when it is most appropriate for them.
May 15 - 22, 2016 – Washington DC & elsewhere
Rubber Stamp Rebellion
On May 15 - 22, in Washington, DC,
and elsewhere where people are fighting fracking and fracking
infrastructure, BXE and our allies will take coordinated action for the
Rubber Stamp Rebellion. We will say to the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission (FERC): Stop rubber-stamping gas industry permit applications
and change the way you operate. Prioritize the emergence of wind, solar
and other renewables above fossil fuels. We say: No New Permits!
The Connexions Calendar is an
online calendar that exists to advertise events that support social
justice, democracy, human rights, ecology, and other causes. We invite
you to use it to promote your events. Adding events to the Connexions
Calendar is FREE. We'll give you a username and password which you use
to log on. Use the contact form to arrange for a username and password. Read more →
May 7, 1839
The Chartist campaign in Britain – named after the People’s
Charter of 1837, demanding democratic reform – culminates in the
presentation of a huge petition to the House of Commons. The petition is
perhaps the most comprehensive expression of the popular will seen in
Britain to that point: more than 1,280,000 people have signed it.
May 7, 1954
Battle of Dien Bien Phu
After a two-month battle, Viet Minh resistance forces inflict a
decisive defeat on the French army at Dien Bien Phu in central Vietnam.
Thousands of French soldiers are killed, more than 10,000 are taken
prisoner. The Vietnamese victory marks the end of the French Empire in
May 9, 1934
The 1934 Waterfront Strike
Start of the 1934 Waterfront Strike on the west coast of the
United States. Longshoremen in every port on the west coast walk out;
sailors on the ships go on strike a few days later. The employers bring
in large numbers of strikebreakers, housing them on ships moored
offshore or in fortified compounds. Many Teamsters refuse to handle
cargo loaded by scabs, leaving the goods stranded. After a bloody police
attack on striking workers in July, a general strike is called in San
Francisco and Oakland. The strike eventually ends in a settlement in
which both employers and workers gain on some issues and lose on others.
For the workers, one of the most important victories is the recognition
of their unions and the end of employer-run hiring halls.
May 10, 1857
The Indian Rebellion of 1857
Start of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, also known as the Sepoy
Rebellion and India’s First War of Independence. Indian soldiers
serving in the British East India Company’s military forces rebel
against the way they are treated. The revolt spreads through much of the
country and is put down by the British only with great difficulty after
more than a year. The large scale of the rebellion, and the popular
support it receives in many areas, make it into a virtual national
revolt against colonial rule.
May 14, 1968
Factory occupations in France
In the continuing May 1968 protests, French workers begin
occupying factories, starting with a sit-down strike at the Sud Aviation
plant near the city of Nantes on 14 May, then another at a Renault
parts plant near Rouen, which spreads to the Renault manufacturing
complexes at Flins and Boulogne-Billancourt. By May 16, some fifty
factories have been occupied and 200,000 workers are on strike. By May
19, two million workers are on strike; by the following week, it is ten
million, roughly two-thirds of the entire French workforce.
May 15 – June 26, 1919
Winnipeg General Strike
The Winnipeg General Strike. Virtually all workers in
Winnipeg go out on strike seeking wage increases and recognition for
their unions. A Strike Committee co-ordinates the strike and arranges
for essential services to continue.
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Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter, is available online here
This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.
812A Bloor Street West, Suite 201
Toronto ON M6G 1L9 Canada
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