Presentation on the ALBA Countries at SOA Watch Protest

alba-november-2014-us-stats-table-for-soaw-presentation
Our task is to oppose imperialist meddling, but  “The challenges Bolivia faces cannot be simply reduced to a question of “imperialist meddling”: they are a direct result of centuries of colonialism and imperialist oppression, which have entrenched  Bolivia in its role within the world economy as a dependent raw commodity exporter. Any chance Bolivia has of moving in a post-capitalist and post-extractivist direction depends on the creation of a new global order, starting with the reshaping of hemispheric relations. This is precisely what the Bolivian government has attempted to do….the main way we can help Bolivia’s social movements is still by winning over working people in the North to a position of solidarity with Bolivia. And the best way to do this is not to simply oppose “imperialist meddling” but to build an international movement against the imperialist system…[We must focus on] explaining why, as long as imperialism exists, Bolivia’s process of change will undoubtedly continue to face tremendous obstacles and dangers. Importantly, it requires us to refocus on the biggest gap facing us all, that which exists between the reality of an extremely debilitated working class in most imperialist countries and the recognition that ‘only a popular uprising of unprecedented scale will prompt nations of the Global North to take their responsibility to the rest of the globe seriously, and constrain the coercive forces that constrain states like Bolivia.’” (Fred Fuentes, “Bad Left Government” versus “Good Left Social Movements”? in Latin America’s Radical Left” pp. 120-121)

Cuba

Cuba is known around the world as an example of what we are capable of once we take control out of the hands of corporations.
Health Care System
The UN’s World Health Organization, Cuba’s health care system is an example for all countries of the world.
Cuba is a medical power sharing its medical resources with the world  –
unlike the “only if we make a profit”  system we live under here.
Currently, nearly 50,000 Cuban medical staff are working in over 66 countries around the world.
Now, Cuba is widely known for the exemplary work of their ebola doctors, with 461 medical staff sent or being sent to those countries affected. One of the Cuban doctors who is there explained, “We know that we don’t totally understand. We know what can happen. We know we’re going to a hostile environment. But it is our duty. That’s how we’ve been educated.”
Is this how a country that abuses human rights operates?
Or is that  like the country – ours –  that sent 4000 military personnel to those countries?
On the average, Cubans live 30 years longer than their Haitian neighbors.
Michael Moore says in his 2007 film Sicko noted:
In US, health care costs run $6000 per person, in Cuba health care is free and the government spends $251 per person.  And Cuba’s life expectancy and infant morality is greater.
ELAM graduated more than 24,000 doctors
11,000 young people from over 40 nations follow a career in medicine at the Cuban institution.
since the 1970s Cuba has assisted in the founding of medical schools in at least 11 other countries, mostly in Africa.
countries, including Yemen, Guyana, Ethiopia, Uganda,  Ghana , Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Guinea Bissau, East Timor.
The World Wildfire Fund in 2006 heralded an outstanding achievement by Cuba. While we are suffering the consequences of global warming due to US and other government inaction, the World Wildlife Fund declared that Cuba was the only country in the world with a environmentally sustainable economic system.
The study concluded that if the world followed Cuba’s example we’d only need the resources of one Earth to sustain us indefinitely.
Blockade
On another issue United Nations reaches a consensus to oppose another evil.  Once a year they condemn the US government for its cruel blockade of Cuba. 188 countries voted to condemn the blockade and only the US and Israel defended it.
Cuban 5
Some Examples of Blockade Enforcement by Obama government
$298 million on Barclay’s Bank (British)
Credit Suisse, Lloyds of London, ABN AMRO fined between $350 Million and $538 million
$619 Million to ING
JP Morgan $88 Million
OFAC operates like a mafia operation: if foreign banks refuse to pay this form of extortion, their operations are closed down in the US.
Paypal blocked transfer of 7000 British pounds to aid the Cuban medical team in Haiti after the earthquake.
the National Bank of Paris BNP Paribas with $8.97 billion  for alleged violations of US sanctions against Cuba and other countries.
In May, American International Group fined $279,000
Decolar.com travel agency, based in Argentina, fined $2.8 million dollars
US seized $494 Million in Cuba assets in 2010, over 1% of its GDP
What is the cause of this vindictiveness? The US rulers saw Latin America as their own backyard, as an area to extort, using SOA grads as enforcers. Cuba was considered an example of what the Kennedy administration called “successful defiance” and that would not be tolerated.

Venezuela

7 new universities created in 12 months
Offering free education to thousands of citizens in remote parts of the country, and joins a public university system
includes the 36 new institutions built during the Chavez administration.
Almost 4 times as many students are in university now compared to before Chavez.
Venezuela spends 8 times as much on higher education as it did before Chavez
 Venezuela’ education system is recognized as the second best in Latin America, behind that of Cuba.
Social Missions System
Here in the US, social programs are cut and the 1% and the war budget eat up our national wealth,
Venezuelan mission system is at the heart of their development model.
 in Venezuela social programs guarantee free medical attention,
widen access to free education,
eliminate hunger and illiteracy,
provide public housing,
social welfare payments, employment
and cultural programs.
Venezuela poverty reduction
1998 28.9% in poverty
2013  19.6%
1998 10.8% in extreme poverty
2013 5.5%
FAO undernourishment between 2000 and 2002 was 15.4%  now 5%.
unemployment 2014 was at 6.8%,
the lowest level it has been in the past 30 years.
Before Chávez unemployment was 15%,
 The Social Missions aim to
“ending poverty and misery”,
“the construction and generation of a new socialist model”
“to convert Venezuelan into a productive economic power”
Mission Barrio Adentro
health services to a majority of the Venezuelan people, so now
90% of the population has government-funded healthcare
Missions Ribas and Robinson have served 2.5 million Venezuelans,  1 in 8 adults
Mission Robinson, a social program eradicate illiteracy,
has taught 1.7 million people how to read and write or complete 6 years of elementary school.
Mission Ribas provides high school education:
800,000 people had graduated or are in this mission.
Wireless for All” Plan In Venezuelan Schools and Public Areas
The “Wireless for All” project, deployed  by the Venezuelan government has reached 1,479 locations, including schools, universities, villages, plazas and parks in the country. This is a free, public internet service.
raised the minimum wage 3 times this year to keep pace with inflation,
in contrast to US policy on for minimum wage workers.
Community Councils and Communes
Venezuelan government and commune movement are taking steps to move towards the creation of what is referred to as a “communal state”
community organizations assume collective control of local production and decision making.
Communes  are formed out of groups of community councils, which are small neighborhood organizations representing 250-400 families
– where local residents organize to develop their local community and run community affairs.
receive public funds to undertake a variety of projects in their area.
Communes themselves are created when community councils  elect  spokespeople from each community council in a given area to form a communal parliament,  and covers community affairs over a larger territorial zone.
The commune can then take on larger scale tasks and responsibilities than individual community councils.
around 40,000 communal councils and 600 communes registered
Palestine
Venezuela is an example for what we need to do here:
not weapons to Israel,
but their third humanitarian shipment to the people of Gaza.
1000 Palestinians will receive scholarships to study in Venezuela.
President  Maduro called for an emergency meeting of the UN human rights council to condemn Israel for its atrocities against occupied Palestine and its inhumane policy of genocide and extermination of innocents
 “Venezuela also rejects the cynical campaigns trying to condemn both parties equally, when it is clear you cannot morally compare occupied and massacred Palestine with the occupying regime, Israel, which also possesses military superiority and acts on the margins of international law,”
 Maduro announced that Venezuela is setting up a shelter for orphaned and wounded Palestinian children.
Economic system to build South-South trade
BRICs bank, Mercosur (The Common Market of the South (Mercosur)
Venezuela Receives US$18 Billion of Chinese Financing, Signs 38 Accords  
Telesur English is launched
IN NYC Maduro called for freeing Oscar Lopez Rivera and the Cuban 5, called for an end to US attacks on Syria and Iraq
Recently the government supported workers taking over a Clorox factory that its owners had decapitalized and liquidated.
Women’s gains
48% of positions employed by the Venezuelan state are currently occupied by women.
Compared to US 16% of public office positions in the United States are held by women..
55% of grassroots governments, such as communes and communal councils, are led by women.
Venezuela has the third longest paid maternity leave in the world after Canada and Norway.
The 2012 Labor Law gives women a total of 26 weeks (half a year) of leave, and men are also entitled to two weeks paid paternity leave.
The law also requires employers to provide new mothers with job security and facilities for child care and nursing.
 US terrorism against Venezuela
Washington Post: Maduro is “the economically illiterate former bus driver”

Bolivia

With over 190 coups in the nation’s troubled history–a Latin American record.
After years of neoliberal regimes, serving foreign, mostly US corporations, the proportion of rural people living in extreme poverty had risen to 75% by 2002.
Evo Morales’ election was not just the arrival of the first indigenous person to the presidential palace.
It marked the beginning of a profound political change that has gradually seen Bolivia’s old political elites dislodged from power and replaced by representatives from the country’s original  peoples and working classes.
It has ended anti-indigenous apartheid system that existed for 500 years in Bolivia.
Economy
By the end of 2013 the state-owned portion of the economy had reached 35%, double that of previous neoliberal  governments.
Economic growth 2013  6.5%    US, 2010-2014 was only  1.9% per year
 Bolivia’s economic success, over 6% growth rate per year
Why?
MAS  limited transnational corporate control over Bolivia and
diversifying away from raw material exports.
Now, growth in manufacturing is outpacing growth in  both the mining and gas sector.
Evo’s  nationalizations: gas and oil, telecommunications, water, electricity, and some mines
Before, foreign corporations expropriated about 85% of the profits wealth generated by natural gas production.
Now, Bolivia’s share of the profits from gas from about 15% before his presidency to between 80-90% now.
(Today natural gas revenues makes up nearly half of Bolivia’s export earnings. In just 2011 the state received as much revenue from this sector as it did from 1996-2005.)
The state is now the main generator of wealth, collecting 80% of all profits of industry.
redistributed throughout society as bonuses, direct social benefits to the population, subsidies for agricultural production.
This is a humane and progressive redistribution of wealth away from foreign corporations to the poor majority,
the opposite of the US trend  redistributing our wealth to that of the major corporations and the 1%.
Now, national wealth is spent  on health and education,
wage increases,
social security benefits,
programs for the elderly, school children, and pregnant mothers,
price controls on staple foods.
public works, infrastructure improvements.
created 500,000 jobs in his first term in office.
In the US today we find the government turning its back on the poor.
There are now 18,600,000 vacant homes in the US – enough for each homeless person to have 6.
This year the Obama government has cut food stamps by $9 billion, while allocating $40 billion for new wars in Iraq and Syria.
In Bolivia under Evo, poverty has declined by 25% and extreme poverty has declined by 43%   (earning less than $1.25 per day)
the real minimum wage has increased by 88%.
While 500,000 have not escaped extreme poverty, one million live in those conditions.
the bottom 90% of U.S. households are poorer today than they were in 1987
 While income inequality is vastly increasing in the US, in Bolivia it has been cut in half.
Under Evo Morales the ratio of the share of income of the top 10% to the poorest 10% had dropped from 128 to 1 in 2005 to 60 to 1 in 2012.
In the US under Bush and Obama, we see a dramatic reversal of any equalizing trend.
Now, the richest 400 Americans have more wealth than one half of the American population. They are worth an average of $5B each, $2T altogether.
We see the US under Bush and Obama regressing to a wealth distribution system rather similar to that of feudal Europe,
while ALBA countries like Bolivia are examples we need to emulate.
 Other progressive gains under Evo’s presidency:
The country, after a national discussion, adopted new constitution, which included recognizing equal status to Original Peoples.
expelled the US ambassador for his role in the failed  2008 right-wing coup,
Bolivia was recently declared free of illiteracy by UNESCO, having educated 800,000 since 2007, using Cuba’s YES I CAN program.
Rural electrification went from 20% of homes to 50% by 2011
Between 2006 and 2010 over 35 million hectares of land (1/3rd of Bolivia), was handed over to Original Peoples peasant communities to be run communally. This included government lands, large estates, and forest lands.
kicked out USAID in 2013
 When recently asked about relations with the US, Evo said, ““I have no regrets – in fact, I am pleased to have expelled the U.S. ambassador, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and to have closed the U.S. military base in Bolivia. Now, without a U.S. ambassador, there is less conspiracy, and more political stability and social stability. Without the International Monetary Fund, we are better off economically.”
The MAS response to date has been to follow an approach of seeking dialogue and consensus, retreating where necessary, but always attempting to continue to drive the process forward towards its goal. Morales constantly sums up this approach using the Zapatista slogan “to govern by obeying”.
Some statements by Evo:
“We want to say to the countries of Europe and the world, especially Europe, to the governments: just as Europeans and Spaniards arrived in Bolivia and our grandparents never said they were illegal, today the Latin Americans that come to Europe cannot be declared illegals” he said.
 “I’m convinced that capitalism is the worst enemy of humanity and the environment, enemy of the entire planet.”
While visiting the Pope at the Vatican, President Morales spoke to the gathering of popular movements in struggle, to explain, with many examples, that “capitalism, that buys and sells everything, has created a civilization marked by wastefulness”. He insisted that “democracy and
politics need a new foundation, since democracy is government by people and not by capital and the bankers”. He also emphasized the fact that “Mother Earth must be respected” and that we must oppose the notion of “privatizing basic services”. He suggested that all the Popular
Movements gathered here should create “a great alliance of the excluded” in order to defend “collective rights”.
In his speech after his recent re-election, he dedicated the Bolivian people’s victory to Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, and said his victory was a victory for all the indigenous peoples of the world, for all people fighting neo-liberalism and corporate rule, and for all people struggling against imperialism.

Ecuador

Before Rafeal Correa, Ecuador had 7 presidents in 10 years. Correa now has the highest public approval rating in Latin America.
President Correa and his coalition of supporters have won nine elections, with Correa winning a landslide victory earlier this year with 57 of the vote, including an overwhelming proportion of the Original Peoples’ vote.  and a two-thirds majority in the parliamentary elections.
 SOA graduate was involved in the 2010 coup attempt against Correa.
Chevron Case
In 2011, the Lago Agrio court ordered Chevron to pay $9.5 billion for environmental and public health damage, finding that Texaco’s drilling contaminated a stretch of the Amazon that is home to more than 30,000 people.
Chevron is guilty of deliberately dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste into the Ecuadorian Amazon. Now it is suing anyone who speaks out against it.
Education
Seven years ago, before Correa, 10% of the university students came from families living in poverty.
Now 27% are.
Second in Latin America is Venezuela with 15.6% of college students coming from families in living in poverty.
(University education is free).
Meanwhile in the US student loan debt is now $1.2 trillion. If this were Ecuador or Cuba or Venezuela it would be zero.  That $1.2 trillion would  be in our pockets.
The Correa government invests five times more than previous administrations in university education.
12% of the national budget that is invested in education. This double the US rate of 6%.
Like Venezuela and Bolivia they are building more and more free universities.  If poor countries can do that, why can’t we?
Between 200 scholarships granted in the 1993-2003, 200 government scholarships were to Ecuadorans to study abroad, from 2004-2996 it was 100. Under Correa, from 2007-2013, 7,166 scholarships have been delivered.
Free healthcare is now guaranteed, like in the other ALBA countries. Healthcare investment is four times greater the previous government.
Again if these 4 poor countries can do, this, why can’t we?
Why must we subsidize a corporate controlled, for profit health care system?
 
Economy
GNP growth 4% over the last 7 years, unemployment 5%.
Why?
Like Evo, Correa rejected neo-liberal policies and IMF money,
has progressively taxed the rich and
cut out tax avoidance
resulting in a tripling of income to invest in developing public services.
This is a model that serves the majority as shown by the cancellation of illegitimate foreign and banker’s debt that was starving public services. We have the same problem here with public subsidies to corporations
In “Ten Examples of Welfare for the Rich and Corporations” (Huffington Post) over $1.1 trillion of our tax money is lost to or given away to corporations. Including a subsidy we pay for corporate jets of $3 billion a year.
Ecuador’s minimum wage has more than doubled since 2007.
Ours has fallen by 1/3 since 1974.
Ecuador has a living wage policy:  companies can only pay dividends on shares when they are implementing a living wage (not just the minimum wage).
This is something the US can do right now, and would do if the US government chose to serve the people, not the corporations.
Extreme poverty has been slashed by third –In 2006 those in extreme poverty were 17% of the population.  In 2013 it was 8.6%.
Those in poverty in 2006 was 57.6%, now it is 25.6%.
In comparison, 45 million US people live below the poverty line, 14.5% of Americans, up from 12.3% in 2006. This is according to US government numbers, so probably with the undocumented poor, it is over 50 million.
Income inequality of the richest 10% to the poorest 10% has dropped from 42 to 1 to 24 to 1.
In the US the trend has been so much the opposite that now the richest 400 have more wealth than ½ population
Correa expropriated 195 companies of the Isaias Group to pay its customers who lost their assets through corruption, – something Obama never did after the 2008 economic collapse caused by similar looters in Wall Street.
Correa renounced $3 billion in foreign debt as illegitimate, saying it is preferable to cutting social investment,
Correa raised taxes on the wealthy, taxed oil profits, and then used that to provide subsidies to the poor.
23% of Ecuador is national park. We were told 56% of mammal species live in Ecuador. Of plants, birds, insects, I forget.
Anti-Imperialist Policies
Ecuador’s rejection of the policies of the IMF,
closing the US military base in Manta (unless the US granted Ecuador one in Miami!), taking oil resources out of the hand of the multinationals,
and the political asylum that Ecuador has granted to Julian Assange who is currently residing in the Embassy in London reflect how foreign policy will also reflect the countries new values of peace and solidarity.
Ecuador was the only OAS country to reject readmitting the Honduras coup government,
the sole country to boycott the Summit of the Americas in Colombia in 2012 over Cuba’s exclusion, gave asylum to Julian Assange.
Ecuador has much to teach the world on how to deal with the economic crisis that puts people over profit. It is a poor country which is trying to overcome decades of under-development whilst constructing a new way of doing things.
In 2012, the world’s 100 richest people became $241 billion richer. January 2013 they were worth $1.9 trillion. If we took ¼ of their gains in 2012, that would end world poverty.  In the world we live in, these conditions will just get worse.
The ALBA countries show there is a way forward for humanity,
A New World is Possible, in contrast to the socially backwards and destructive one we live in,
a new world where the people are given priority over corporate rule.
A new more humane world, in tune with Mother Earth, fostering cooperation and unity against imperial hegemony, is required for our survival.
ALBA countries’ achievements we should not only defend as great victories, but they should inspire us to fight for the same gains here in the US.
These countries show us what a peoples movement and a peoples party that has leaders we can trust, leaders like Evo Morales, can do.
Foreign exchange comes from oil, roses, bananas, tourism is #5. Ecological diversity and beauty of Ecuador makes it a popular tourist destination, and it uses dollars.
Yasuni drilling area is 1/3rd of a square mile in a park. 500 hectares will be drilled, out of 1 million.
The biggest threat to the rain forest is not the oil drilling to take place in the Yasuni, but the expansion of the agricultural frontier due to illegal farming.
PAIS won overwhelmingly in the regions where the Original Peoples live. There are 4 different indigenous movements, Fenacin, Federacion Ecuatorianos Indigenas, Conaie (which part supports Correa, part doesn’t) and one more.
Correa said NGOs are not non-governmental organizations, but organizations of other governments in our territory.
Correa: “my goal is to eliminate poverty” to improve employment opportunities, the education system, and the health system
Socialism means “to work for social justice”
He is an adherent of liberation theology
two million families get $50 a month
Government has built roads, bridges, schools, hospitals
Free primary health care for all in Ecuador, even visitors
How they must bleed for us. Last year, the world’s 100 richest people became $241 billion richer. They are now worth $1.9 trillion.
Gave money to pro Keystone XL pipeline politicians
Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund.
Environmental Defense Action Fund
League of Conservation Voters
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