Book Review – Truth-Telling about Nicaragua’s Long Revolution for Liberation and Democracy / By W. T. Whitney Jr.

Photo :

Daniel Kovalik, Nicaragua, a History of US Intervention & Resistance, (Clarity Press, Atlanta, 2023), ISBN; 978-1-949762-64-8,, 303 pages.

Prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves, speaking in Nicaragua in 2022, points out that the United States “is 350 million people [and is] the strongest military force in the world. Nicaragua is 6.2 million people, a country in Central America seeking to develop itself and its people.”

And so, “Why in God’s name, with a country so large, with so many resources, with such military strength, why would [the U.S.] want to pick on a small country like Nicaragua? I ask myself that question every day.”

Clarity Press, 2023

Peace activist and Vietnam War veteran S. Brian Willson, speaking in South Paris, Maine, on September 13, 1998, had answered the question: “This neoliberal economics, the latest stage of capitalism, does not allow for alternative political or economic ideas or values. We already knew that any country that seriously threatened our model either had to assimilate or be eliminated.”

Willson had acted. On September 1, 1987 in Oakland, California, he put himself in front of a train to prevent a weapons delivery to U.S.- backed “Contra” mercenaries fighting revolutionaries in Nicaragua. The train did not stop and Willson lost two legs.

Daniel Kovalik’s valuable new book “Nicaragua, A History of US Intervention & Resistance” demonstrates the truth of Willson’s insight. Kovalik is a labor lawyer, human rights activist and teacher, and prolific author (his other books are here).

In that summer of 1987, college student Kovalik was part of a reforestation project in Nicaragua. The Contra war was in progress, and he heard machine gun fire “nearly every night.” The suffering was “simply shocking.”  He writes that photos he took of children there “makes me want to cry.” The “Veterans Peace Convey” of humanitarian aid to Nicaragua, which he joined in 1988, was “possibly the most profound experience of my life.” Kovalik’s book is immensely appealing, not least because of personal experience that he relates.

He makes effective use of extended quotations from various reports, other histories, analyses from international agencies, and commentary from participants. Kovalik states that the object with his book was to present “the realities of U.S. intervention [in Nicaragua,] past and present,” highlight Nicaraguans’ abilities to overcome U.S. “assaults,” and promote solidarity with Nicaraguans in their struggle for self-determination.

The book’s first sections review Nicaragua’s history prior to the Sandinista National Liberation Front’s (FSLN) accession to power. It covers Tennessean William Walker’s attempt to set up his own slavocracy in 1855, U.S. Marines’ occupation of Nicaragua from 1912 to 1933, U.S. formation of Nicaragua’s oppressive National Guard, and U.S. support after 1936 for the brutal Somoza-family dictatorship. 

Kovalik reports on Augusto Cesar Sandino’s guerrilla army that fought the Marines from 1927 until their departure. He writes about the struggle of the FSLN rural insurgency after 1960 to bring down the Somoza regime. Over 50,000 Nicaraguans died in the year preceding its collapse on July 17, 1979.

Most of the book is about the FSLN in power, their electoral defeat in 1990, the U.S.-led Contra counter-revolution in the 1980s, the “Dark Days” of neoliberal rule after 1990, and the Sandinistas in power again after 2007. There are these points:

·        Until recently, the Sandinistas, originally an alliance of three factions, governed with allies including Catholic Church representatives, business leaders, capitalists, Marxists, and rural collectives.

·        Women’s lives have improved in equality, political participation, and leadership opportunities.

·        Sandinista approval ratings have remained high, even in stressful times, for example, 80% in 2018 prior to the protests of that year and up to 90% before the 2021 elections.

·        Dissent within FSLN ranks and FSLN differences with its opposition have reflected divisions between city and countryside and between intellectual callings and manual work.

·        The Catholic Church, now far removed from liberation theology, has consistently harassed the Sandinistas.

·        Kovalik inveighs against U.S. leftists who have abandoned the Sandinistas. They “claim to know better about the nature of Daniel Ortega and the FSLN than the Nicaraguan people,” he points out.

·        Sandinistas in power have accomplished much: nutritional gains, agrarian reform, food sovereignty, housing access, widespread electrification, increased literacy, more jobs, youth programs, universal access to schools and healthcare, infrastructure improvements, and lowered mortality rates.

Until 2020 or so, far fewer Nicaraguans were migrating north than were the peoples of other Central American countries. Their reduced numbers testify to the benefits of change in Nicaragua.

Kovalik finishes his book with a look at the interplay of recent anti-government protests, harsh penalties exacted by the government, and mounting criticism of the FSLN government by sectors of the U.S. and European left.

Anti-government protests with street actions and barricades prevailed in mid-2018. In his afterword that concludes Kovalik’s book, Orlando Zelaya Olivas indicates that 198 civilians and 22 police officers were murdered. Mainstream news reports uniformly blamed the police for killing peaceful demonstrators. The truth was otherwise.

Kovalik, citing sources, shows that the protesters had been paid and prepared, that many had criminal records, that snipers rather than the police did most of the killing, and that lethal violence continued even after the police were withdrawn. These were fake protests programmed toward destabilization and eventually a coup.

Kovalik shows the U.S. hand in creating turmoil. The U.S. government had funded opposition NGOs, youth groups, religious organizations, and dissidents who included former Sandinistas. U.S. agents and funding were behind the anti-government messaging on social media that played a prominent role. 

Nicaragua’s government arrested and jailed many of those who in 2018 had violated laws against terrorist activities and against unauthorized service to a foreign government. In June 2019, the government amnestied hundreds of those caught up in the coup attempt. Dozens of jailed coup plotters were released on promising that they would no longer conspire against the government.

Criticism exploded again in 2021 after those who had promised to give up on plotting were imprisoned again on grounds that they were aiming to destabilize upcoming elections. Kovalik states that, “the first duty of a Revolution is to defend itself, for if it cannot meet this most essential goal, it obviously cannot serve and defend the people as they deserve.”

There was the added element of the imprisonments supposedly constituting interference in the elections of November 7, 2021 that gave Daniel Ortega a fourth consecutive presidential term.

Writing from Nicaragua, Stephen Sefton explains that the jailed opposition leaders were not opposition candidates. The political opposition in 2011 had split into regular political parties and “an extra-parliamentary opposition based in local NGOs.” The latter sector had “mounted the violent, US designed coup attempt” of 2018 and were arrested according to Nicaraguan Law. The opposition’s contending political parties had no part in planning a coup in 2021, according to Sefton

After Daniel Kovalik’s book was published, solidarity with the Sandinistas took a big hit. On February 9, 2023, the government released 222 prisoners, mostly those who had been arrested in 2021. It expelled all but a few to the United States. The government took away their citizenship and that of a 100 or so others, and confiscated their properties. Criticism has resounded, for example, from the Economist magazine, the United Nations, to the left-leaning Colombian government.

Taking away someone’s citizenship surely is an extraordinary step, certainly in the United States, and only slightly less so in the U.K. The grounds would be treason. A rationale for such a judgment emerges out of Kovalik’s book.

One imagines a favored few in Nicaragua who are oblivious to decades of U.S. military attacks, violence, pay-offs, trickery and manipulations. They spurned the government’s long efforts at collaboration and coalition building. One equally imagines the grief attending decades of popular resistance against the U.S.-backed dictatorship and, afterwards, the U.S.-backed opposition.

What’s left is desperation, especially what with population elements who reject the idea of justice and dignity for all Nicaraguans and who once more are shown to be dependent on the U.S. government. Meanwhile, U.S. economic sanctions are non-stop.

The book’s basic point is that rescue and recovery of oppressed, marginalized, and poor Nicaraguans have required a very long process. It’s no wonder that some counterparts today of Tom Paine’s “summer soldier and the sunshine patriot” have dropped out.

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.

Indigenous rebellion continues as post-coup Peruvian government flounders / By William T. Whitney Jr.

Anti-government protesters chant slogans against Peru’s President Dina Boluarte, on the shore of lake Titicaca in Puno, Peru, Tuesday, March 7. | Juan Karita / AP

Revived democratic struggle in Peru is well along into a second act. There was the parliamentary coup on Dec. 7 that removed democratically-elected President Pedro Castillo and the “First Taking of Lima” in mid-January, when embittered and excluded Peruvians occupied Lima and faced violent repression. Then, on March 1, protests renewed as the Indigenous inhabitants of Peru’s extreme southern regions prepared once more to demonstrate in Lima and would shortly be protesting in their own regions.

The resistance’s make-up was fully on display.

Protesters throughout Peru were rejecting a replacement president and an elite-dominated congress and calling for early elections and a new constitution. They belonged for the most part belonged to Aymara communities in districts south of Lima extending from Lake Titicaca both west and northeast, into the Andes region.

Their complaints centered on wealth inequities, rule by a Lima-based elite, inadequate means for decent lives, and non-recognition of their cultural autonomy. Their support and that of other rural Peruvians had brought about the surprise election to Peru’s presidency in 2021 of the inexperienced Pedro Castillo. He had defeated Keiko Fujimori, daughter of a now imprisoned dictator and favorite of Peru’s neo-liberal enablers.

By March 1, residents of provinces close to the city of Puno were arriving in Lima to carry out the so-called “Second Wave of the Taking of Lima.” Demanding the de facto President Dina Boluarte resign, as of March 4 protesters had not been able to break through police lines surrounding key government buildings. The main action, however, was going on in the epicenter of police and military repression ever since Boluarte had taken office on Dec. 7.

That would be the Puno area, where most of the 60 deaths caused by violent repression have occurred, with 19 protesters having been killed on Jan. 9 in Juliaca, a town 27 miles north of Puno city.

On March 5, violence was again playing out in Juli, a town 58 miles south of Puno, also on the shore of Lake Titicaca. Demonstrations along with roadblocks were in progress throughout the extended region, all in sympathy with the concurrent protests in Lima. Involved were Indigenous groups, small farmer organizations, and social movements.

In July, the demonstrators, confronted by military units and police in civilian dress, set fire to judicial office buildings and the police headquarters. The troops fired, shots came from open windows, and tear gas was released from a helicopter; 18 demonstrators were wounded.

Demonstrators blocking a bridge over a river prevented the entry of troops into the nearby town of Llave. Rains had caused flooding and in the process of swimming across the river, one of them drowned and five others disappeared.

Protesters captured 12 soldiers; community leader Nilo Colque indicated they were released after they admitted to trying to break the “strikes” but that they too opposed the military’s actions. Colque predicted that soon 30,000 Aymaras would be descending on Juli and nearby population centers.

Aymara activists in Llave announced a strike of indefinite duration. A “committee of struggle” in Cusco announced the beginning as of March 7 of an indefinite strike in 10 provinces. The president of the national “Rondas Campesinas” (peasant patrols), said to represent two million Peruvians in all, announced a big march on Lima from all regions set for March 13.

Meanwhile, Peru’s chief prosecutor has embarked upon an investigation of President Boluarte and other officials for crimes of “genocide, homicide resulting from circumstances, and causing serious injury,” that allegedly took place mostly in southern regions in the weeks immediately after her taking office.

There are these other developments:

  • Peru’s Supreme Court on March 3 heard proposal that the “preventive imprisonment of ex-President Castillo be extended from 18 to 36 months. Another court had previously denied his appeal for habeas corpus.
  • The Congress as of March 6looked to be on the verge of, for the fourth time, refusing to advance new presidential elections from April 2024 to sometime in 2013.
  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a preliminary report accusing the new Peruvian government of excessive use of force against protesters.
  • Polling results currently go one way: 77% of Peruvians reject the Dina Boluarte government, 70% say she should resign, 90% denounce Peru’s Congress. 69% favor moving general elections ahead to 2023, and 58% support the demonstrations. Most of those making up these majorities live in rural areas, according to the report.

The opposing sides in the Peruvian conflict are stalemated. Powerbrokers presently lack a government capable—willing though it may be—of providing structure and organization adequate for protecting their political and economic interests.

Marginalized Peruvians are without any effective historical experience from which revolutionary leadership and strategies might have developed, such that now they might have direction and focus. The people’s movement there is not as lucky as its counterparts were in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

Now, the U.S. government meddles with this state of precarious balance in Peru. And not surprisingly: it has long intruded militarily and is competing with China economically.

Speaking on March 1, State Department Ned Price did insist that in Peru, “our diplomats do not take sides in political disputes … They recognize that these are sovereign decisions.” He added that the United States backs “Peru’s constitution and Peru’s constitutional processes.”

But political intervention was on the agenda already. Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols on February 28 urged Peru’s Congress to expedite early elections and Peru’s president to promptly end the crisis caused by ex-President Castillo’s “self-coup”—whatever that was.

People’s World has an enormous challenge ahead of it—to raise $200,000 from readers and supporters in 2023, including $125,000 during the Fund Drive, which runs Feb. 1 to May 1.

Please donate to help People’s World reach our $200,000 goal. We appreciate whatever you can donate: $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, or more.

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.

People’s World, March 9, 2023

President Lula! / by People’s Dispatch

Lula at a campaign event

Thousands took to the streets to celebrate as Lula, the candidate of the Workers’ Party of Brazil, defeated Jair Bolsonaro in one the most crucial elections in the country’s history

Thousands took to the streets of Brazil to celebrate as Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the Workers’ Party (PT) was elected president on Sunday, October 30. With almost 50.9% of the votes, Lula, a trade unionist who was also president from 2003-2010, defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro of the Liberal Party who got around 49.1% in the run-off election. Lula is set to be in office from 2023-2027.

The second round of the presidential election was held after neither candidate managed to obtain the necessary 50% plus one vote in the first round held on October 2. Elections were also held for the post of Governor in 12 States. Around 156 million Brazilians were eligible to vote.

The results mark a remarkable comeback for Lula who just a few years ago was in jail on corruption charges which were later overturned. His campaign for this election was driven by the left, people’s movements, trade unions, and radical and progressive forces across the country.

Many in Brazil had pointed out that Lula’s victory would mark a key moment in the reversal of a number of processes that began with the constitutional coup against PT’s President Dilma Rousseff in 2016. Lula ran on the slogan of “bringing hope back to Brazil” and promised to respond to the immediate needs of the population and to recover the social and economic rights that have been lost in the last six years during the governments of Michel Temer (who succeeded Dilma) and Jair Bolsonaro. Lula’s years as president saw a drastic improvement in social indicators in Brazil.

Under Jair Bolsonaro, the COVID-19 pandemic ripped through Brazil, killing over 700,00 people. Bolsonaro’s tenure also saw a slashing of key welfare programs and the deterioration of Brazil’s famous health system as well as food sovereignty. The Bolsonaro presidency also saw an increase in attacks on the Amazon rainforests through deforestation which were accelerated by his relaxing environmental norms.

The Bolsonaro years were also marked by the right-wing gaining strength and becoming more aggressive with the president leading from the front, along with his family members. A close ally of former US President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro celebrated the brutal military dictatorship (1964-85)and relentlessly attacked democratic institutions, including the electoral system whose fairness he questioned repeatedly without providing any evidence. The run-up to the election on Sunday was marked by a massive fake news campaign by the right-wing.

People’s Dispatch, October 30, 2022,

Labor Day: Unions Have a Stake in Ending Minority Rule in the United States / by Mark Weisbrot

Photograph Source: Bastian Greshake Tzovaras – CC BY-SA 2.0

This first appeared on MSN.

In 2021, just 10.3 percent of American workers were members of unions, less than half the proportion we had four decades prior. This collapse in union membership didn’t happen in Canada; it happened in the United States, for a number of reasons that were specific to this country, including unpleasant changes in labor law and the practices of corporations that have taken place here over the past 40 years.

Today, in more than 40 percent of union election campaigns, employers are charged with violating federal law, often for illegally firing workers for union activity.

The assault on labor has contributed greatly to soaring income inequality and stagnant living standards for workers in the United States. From 1979 to 2019, productivity (the income generated from an hour of labor) has grown by 60 percent; yet the typical worker’s real (inflation-adjusted) compensation rose by just 14 percent. But wages used to rise with productivity: from 1948 to 1979, productivity rose by 118 percent, and real compensation increased by 108 percent.

Now come Republicans and opponents of labor with accusations that unions are a “tool” of the Democratic Party. Never mind that Republicans have consistently opposedlegislation that would strengthen workers’ rights, increase their income (including increases in the minimum wage), or even provide them with health care (Medicare and Medicaid). Many unions are also multiracial organizations and cannot stomach the Republican Party’s growing commitment to racism.

But at present, there is another reason for the partisan divide that labor — like it or not  — must deal with. As many political experts have recognized, the current political system is one of minority rule. Republicans are able to capture and hold political power through elections and institutions in which the majority of the population is effectively sidelined. Republicans also now control the Supreme Court by a 6-3 majority; this is perhaps the most obvious example where labor cannot ignore how difficult it will be to organize unions within a judicial system stacked by Republicans.

Think of the Starbucks workers, who have fought tenaciously to organize 326 locations, and are finding that they have to fight legal battles to force the company to negotiate in good faith  — which is the law under the National Labor Relations Act.

There is currently proposed legislation in both the House and Senate to expand the Supreme Court, which would help remove some of these anti-labor constraints. This may well happen if Democrats win Congress and hold on to the presidency.

But there are other structural elements of minority rule that give Republicans power far beyond their actual or potential electoral support. The current 50-50 split in the Senate has 43 million more votes for the 50 Democrats than for the 50 Republicans. And the filibuster — which could be easily abolished — gives Republicans another huge helping of undemocratic power. Corrections of these gross injustices at the margins  — e.g., statehood for Washington, DC, which is an important end in itself, for democracy  — could make a big difference.

Both George W. Bush and Donald Trump came to power in elections in which they lost the popular vote. We could, with some legislative changes, elect the president by popular vote, as other democracies do.

Electoral reforms that increase turnout, such as increasing polling locations and ballot drop boxes, making Election Day a federal holiday, and same-day voter registration, could also make a difference. It is not clear that Republicans could win national elections if people here voted at the same participation rate as most of Europe has. But Republicans fight for the opposite: last year Republicans in state legislatures, beginning soon after being sworn in, introduced more than 440 bills aimed at restricting voting.

Then there is Trump, and many of his followers, who clearly do not think it is necessary to accept the result of a democratic election if they don’t like the result. These Republicans are currently trying to put “election deniers” in offices where they could possibly influence election outcomes in swing states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, and many other places.

These are among the most serious threats to democratic elections in the United States that we have seen in many decades. Two months from this Labor Day, members of unions, as well as working people throughout the country, will have some important choices to make in our national elections.

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. and president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of Failed: What the “Experts” Got Wrong About the Global Economy (Oxford University Press, 2015).

Petro wins first-round victory against right wing in Colombian presidential vote / by William T. Whitney, Jr.

Presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, left, and his running mate Francia Marquez, with the Historical Pact coalition, stand before supporters on election night in Bogota, Colombia, Sunday, May 29, 2022. Their ticket will advance to a runoff contest in June after none of the six candidates in Sunday’s first round got half the vote. | Fernando Vergara / AP

During 212 years of Colombia’s national independence, the propertied and wealthy classes, with military backing, have held the reins of power. Gustavo Petro and Francia Marquez, presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the Historical Pact coalition, scored a first-round victory in elections held on May 29. They are forerunners of a new kind of government for Colombia.

If they prevail in second-round voting on June 19, they will head Colombia’s first ever people-centered government. Petro’s opponent will be the May 29 runner-up Rodolfo Hernández.

The tallies were: Petro, 40.3 percent (8.333.338 votes); Hernández, 28.1 percent (5.815.377 votes); Federico Gutiérrez, 23.9 percent (4.939.579 votes). Other candidates shared the remaining votes. The voter participation rate was 54 percent, standard for Colombia.

Petro’s rightwing electoral opponents represented varying degrees of attachment to the extremist ex-President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) and his protegee, current President Ivan Duque, who was not a candidate.

Oscar Zuluaga, the early standard-bearer for the Uribe cause ended his non-prospering campaign in March in favor of Federico Gutiérrez and his “Team for Colombia” party. Opinion polls showed Gutiérrez losing ground while, coincidentally, the candidacy of the conservative Hernández was gaining support. 

Petro, 62 years old, was a leader of the radical April 19 Movement, mayor of Bogota, twice a presidential candidate, and has been a senator. As such, he led in calling to account ex- President Uribe for political corruption and ties with paramilitaries.  He defines his politics as “not based on building socialism, but on building democracy and peace, period.”

Vice-presidential candidate Francia Márquez projects what looks, from this vantage point, to be star-power. She is a 40-year-old African-descended lawyer and award-winning environmentalist who, from her rural base, organized against plunder of natural resources. As a presidential candidate in the primary elections in March, she gained 780,000 votes from Historical Pact electors – third place within that coalition. Her candidacy reflects a merger of sorts between social-movement and political-party kinds of activism.

Candidate Rodolfo Hernández is a special case. Analyst Horacio Duque claims that, “The Gringos’ Embassy and the [Colombian] ultraright are moving to catapult” this former mayor of Bucaramanga “onto a platform for existential salvation … by forcing a way toward a second round.”  The wealthy real estate profiteer and mega landlord for low-income renters faces bribery charges relating to a “brokerage contract” and trash disposal. With a slogan of “no lying, no stealing, and no treason,” Hernández is a self-described enemy of the “traditional clans.” He is a devotee of social media.

The Historical Pact campaign benefited from circumstances. The failings of 2016 Peace Agreement with the FARC insurgency are clear, namely: persisting violence, no agrarian reform, and continuing drug war in the countryside. Blame falls upon Uribe’s machinations and the Duque government.

The campaign follows two years of demonstrations that, led by young people, were violently repressed by the police. Protesters called for full access to healthcare and education, pension reforms and new labor legislation. They set an agenda for change.

Death threats greeting Petro and Francia Márquez on the campaign trail forced them to cancel some events and deliver speeches from behind protective shields. Earlier popular mobilizations had also triggered ugly reactions.   

Rodolfo Hernandez, presidential candidate of the right. | Mauricio Pinzon / AP

Commentators recalled the assassinations of four leftist or liberal presidential candidates between 1987 and 1990 and the murder of prospective presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán on April 9, 1948. Petro and Gaitan are the only progressively-oriented political figures in Colombia’s history to have had realistic hopes for becoming president.

For a few days in early May the “Clan del Golfo” paramilitary group reacted to its leader’s extradition to the United States on drug-trafficking charges; paramilitaries “stole, threatened, killed, and burned trucks and taxis” throughout northern Colombia. They coordinated their mayhem with the police and soldiers, and “the Duque government didn’t move a finger to contain them.” Reasserting their role as enforcers and destabilizers, the paramilitaries disrupted the Historical Pact’s campaign.

Petro and Márquez promised much. They would to improve food security, education, healthcare, pensions and reverse the privatization of human services. Petro would rein in extractive industries, cut back on fossil-fuel use, and renegotiate free trade agreements. He called for land for small farmers, peace with insurgent National Liberation Army, and for restraining the paramilitaries. He promised to respect Venezuela’s sovereignty.

Colombia’s military is displeased about a prospective Petro government. In April, Petro criticized military commanders’ close ties with paramilitary bosses. In a revealing response that violated constitutional norms, General Eduardo Zapateiro accused Petro of harassing the military for political reasons and of having taken illegal campaign funds.

An interventionist U.S. government is uneasy about a change-oriented government in Colombia. U.S. General Laura Richardson, head of the U.S. Southern Command, met with Colombian General Luis Navarro in March. She sought assurance that a Petro victory would not lead to the dismantling of seven U.S. Air Force bases in Colombia. Navarro indicated military leaders and most congresspersons would oppose such a step. The Southern Command issued a press release confirming that “Colombia is a staunch security partner.”  

U.S. Ambassador Phillip Goldberg’s comment on electoral fraud, delivered to an interviewer in mid-May, had destabilizing potential. He mentioned the “real risk posed by the eventual interference in the elections by the Russians, Venezuelans, or Cubans.” Goldberg’s excessive zeal for U.S. interests had been on display in Bolivia. As ambassador there in 2008, he immersed himself in an unsuccessful coup attempt against President Evo Morales – and was expelled.  

 The U.S. impulse to determine who governs in Colombia was on display on May 13 with a debate involving Colombian vice-presidential candidates. It was staged in Washington, not in Colombia. The congressionally-funded U.S. Institute of Peace session hosted the session. The appearance was that of a junior partner auditioning, as in seeking approval from a boss.

Commenting on his victory, Petro remarked that “forces allied to Duque have been defeated … The message to the world is that an era is finished.” Reaching out to “fearful businesspersons,” he proposed that “social justice and economic stability are good for productivity.”

The Historical Pact faces an uphill battle as it approaches the voting on June 19. According to an observer, opposition candidate Rodolfo Hernández will inherit the institutional and personnel resources the Duque government dedicated to the Federico Gutiérrez campaign. First – round voters for the several rightwing candidates will now turn to Hernández. The Historical Pact will have to engage with Colombians who did not vote on May 29.

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.

People’s World, May 31, 2022,

French Communists, Socialists, Greens, Mélanchon unite on ‘radical program’ for elections / by Ben Chacko

Demonstrators carry a banner reading ‘Workers and oppressed peoples of all countries, unite!’ during a May Day demonstration in Paris, France, Sunday, May 1, 2022. Citizens and trade unions in France took to the streets to protest against the newly reelected President Emmanuel Macron. Left parties will unite for the upcoming legislative elections. | Lewis Joly / AP

France’s Socialist Party reached an agreement in principle Wednesday with Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) to form an alliance for the legislative elections.

The Communist Party struck a deal with Mélanchon Tuesday night, and the Greens did so earlier this week, meaning the French left could display its greatest unity in decades as it seeks to win a majority in the National Assembly and make Mélanchon, who came a narrow third in the recent presidential election, prime minister.

La France Insoumise MP Adrien Quatennens declared: “We can and will beat [President] Emmanuel Macron and we can do it with a majority to govern for a radical program.”

The electoral alliance, to be known as the Social and Ecological People’s Union, will see the partners agree not to stand against each other, with one left candidate chosen for each of France’s 577 constituencies.

The Greens will reportedly stand in 100 of these, the Socialists in 60, and the Communists in 50, though the Communists received 200,000 more votes than the Socialists in the presidential election.


Le Pen defeated in France, but far right gains ground

An outline legislative program includes the declaration of a Sixth Republic, a minimum wage of €1,400 ($1,476) a month, restoring the wealth tax removed by Macron’s government, raising corporation tax, and committing to “disobedience to the rules of the European Union” whenever these conflict with its redistributive program. Price controls on essential goods and lowering the retirement age are other agreed policies.

On some areas of disagreement—the Greens and La France Insoumise oppose nuclear power for example, while the Communists support it—they would be permitted to vote different ways.

“Together, let us make history by winning these elections,” Communist leader Fabien Roussel declared.

But top figures in the once powerful Socialist Party, whose electoral humiliation with just 1.75% of the presidential vote last month shocked a party that held the presidency as recently as 2017, including former leader Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, called on its national committee not to ratify the alliance, saying it posed a threat to the EU.

Right-wing French pundits like defense and foreign affairs specialist Samy Cohen are warning the electorate to give Macron’s supporters a majority or risk “confusion” in French foreign policy.

Ben Chacko is Editor of Morning Star, the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain.

People’s World, May 5, 2022,

Francia Márquez Mina: the Triumph of a Pedagogy of the Oppressed in Progress / by Charo Mina Rojas

Colombian Vice Presidential Candidate Francia Marquez (Photo: Twitter @FranciaMarquezM)

Francia Marquez is Colombia’s vice presidencial candidate, the first Black national candidate in that country. Her triumph is not just personal, but the result of a strong mass movement.

I am excited and moved by the process that has been unleashed after anger and indignation led Francia Márquez Mina to declare: “I want to be President of this country ,” and I am excited to think about the growth and maturity of the Afro-descendant people in the face of the Colombian political-electoral process in 2022.

Francia as vice-presidential candidate of the Pacto Histórico (Historical Pact), is the result of her daring as much as the stubbornness, audacity and nonconformist disposition of the young spirits who didn’t hesitate, when she said “walk with me”, in responding: “let’s go”. And, what a path that has been undertaken!

In my opinion, the route is quite clear, but the map remains to be drawn and not everyone knows how to make maps, nor does everyone know how to read and follow them.

It is very interesting and important how Francia has learned to be respectful and coherent in echoing the voices of the people, instead of the phony politicking to which we are used to. The enormous growth in her political narrative is not only due to her beautiful and natural intelligence, (not in vain blessed by [the Orisha] Orunmila). It’s also fundamentally due thanks to her life experience as a Being who has suffered all the forms of oppression, against which she rosed up in rebellion, allowing her a capacity for listening and transcending words in action and deeds, resonating in those of us who come from the same place. These are capabilities and attitudes only typical of those who always dare to know that, with nothing more to lose in a white-male supremacist, arrogant, violent predatory world like this one, at the end of the day we have everything to gain by facing risk. Risks that are existential because either we are, or we are not.

For centuries a place of non-existence has been imposed on us, being dehumanized and dispossessed.  For centuries we have sustained ourselves in the sense of the complex, deep, multidimensional, and spiritual essence interlocked in the African philosophical principle of Ubuntu: “I am because we are”. From this place of identity, Francia stands with us, armed with the dignity and humanity that the domineering people of this world don’t know.

That is why I will continue to vote for “Francia President”, because I understand that it is not a question of today, but of the future, looking toward a horizon of dignified and human well-being that corresponds to us to finish building. The challenge posed by this process as Ubuntu people is to make it sustainable. It’s not just about the votes we’ll put in this electoral election. It is mainly about the personal and collective work that allows us to transform from within. Political-electoral education is an imperative, the strengthening of identity and belonging that implies practical exercise, not discourse, remains in demand; organization and sustainability as a movement has been shown to be urgent; to heal communally and spiritually a disintegrated society drowned in a borehole reflected in those dehumanizing practices that have the country submerged in a dreadful place. These are all issues that are part of what it means to venture on a different life project.

Francia comes from the struggle, and the struggle goes on. We face a system that has managed to take away the joy from the hearts of our reborn; in which our young men do not manage to look forward, recognizing themselves in their future because the system does not leave them with options beyond 20 years of age. A system anchored in the bellicose militarist ideology that solves everything with blood, criminality and corruption, denying the right to justice. We have to expect to be charged for the audacity to impose a black woman who projects the voices of people that no one has heard before. We must expect to bring down from their seats Senators and House Representatives, mayors and governors, “representatives” of international organizations and spokespersons who act as the black butlers of the white house. We have to let more young people and women take the lead, until, finally, life governs in its distinguished suit of dignity and humanity.

We have been walking for a few centuries, sometimes under the guidance of the spirits and the higher forces that have traced the path, sometimes lost in the tricky tangles of an obsolete value system. Today we are brought again ahead in light that shows us that we must return to the root to chart the course.

In 2014 I wrote about the pedagogical process that characterized the “Mobilization of women for the care of life in ancestral territories ,” a march led by 80 afro-descendant women to Colombia’s capitol, Bogotá, among them Francia. The objective of the march was to demand from the national government rectification of the error of allowing illegal mining in ancestral territories, product of the corrupt action of the Ministry of the Interior that declared the non-existence of Afro-descendant people in the Community Council of La Toma, municipality of Suarez – territory of Francia Márquez Mina, vice presidential candidate 2022. The campaign “I am because we are,” is a pedagogical process of the oppressed informed in a philosophy of liberation that, with Francia in the political-electoral arena and the national scenery of presidential campaign, does what 80 women did through the streets of Colombia walking to Bogotá at the end of November 2014, I quote:

“The women recreated a political discourse based on their rights as an Afro-descendant people, formulated, recreated and appropriated from the action itself. The mobilization was an educational process configured from their own thought and conviction; a thought that, however, is not unique and original because it has been formulated by others from their own processes, but it was authentic to the extent that it comes from life experience and actions in the face of injustices that prevent Black/Afro-descendant people from completely overcoming the place of subalternity,  of the colonized, of the oppressed.

Their message went beyond denouncing mining and demandings on the state-government to stop it. Forbidden public, male, political spaces were symbolically taken; spaces that had not seemed to be for them before. Their message reaffirmed the existence of a black person different from the one the system of coloniality has insisted on representing as lazy, incapable, cowardly and dispossessed.

They exposed a philosophy of life that reveals a counter-hegemonic logic that was questioning the unidimensional, homocentric, Eurocentric, patriarchal and racist world-system that dominates the logics and actions of non-black Colombia.

Walking through the streets of Colombia alien to the strange place that [for them] is the North of Cauca, they crossed the symbolic limits of the separation between the good Colombians and the subaltern beings that are not even mentioned. In a loud voice and inescapable presence, they determined “here we are”, “they cannot make us invisible”. It was a way of stripping their apprehended, self-asserted humanity naked in front of those who have dehumanized them. In that sense it was an act of liberation, of decolonization.

But they were also women, Black women. Their path marked an event to be written in the present and future history of the Black movement.” (Mina, Machado, 2015).

Sounds familiar? While the announcement of Francia as vice-presidential candidate of the Historical Pact was happening on March 23th, and looking at photographs of the people close to me and those who have made this moment possible, excited and ready for whatever comes, I remembered the mobilization of 2014 and its close relationship with this today and that tomorrow visioned. The common thread is in its historicity in the passage from a thought to the praxis that makes the moment a political historical process (in addition to the coherence of someone determined by her history and awareness of it). The wounded cry of a black/Afro-descendant woman who said I want to preside over this country, has a collective resonance because it is not a simply idealistic, futile, personal individualistic issue, but a rationality that comes from the experiential, existential objective historical realities that define injustices and inequalities lived by so many dehumanized. It is from this existential experiential historical consciousness that a philosophy and a movement emerge: “I am because we are,” beyond a leader and a possible caudillismo and populism. The 723,000 votes [from the primaries] are each individual consciousness transformed by a creative pedagogical process, into collective consciousness and political praxis confronting the paradigms that sustain oppression, and proposing to build a new place of humanity and dignity of life, as a historical length of a process for liberation.

Our challenge as people of the black/Afro-descendant, raizal and palenquero people  is to make the mobilization of “soy porque somos” (I’m because we are) to continue, until there is no need to shed our blood or be transhumed between being negro, “white-mestizo” or indigenous (like so many Polo Polo), to be and exercise our rights as a people.  To resist is not to endure, our historical resistance must be reflected in an electoral political process that does not simply add votes, but political consciences ready for radical systematic structural changes. Only in this way will we have the joy of our own and many Francias in the next presidencies of Colombia.

Charo Mina Rojas is a decolonial Black feminist, she is part of the Black Communities Process (PCN) in Colombia.

Black Agenda Report, April 13, 2022,