U.S. Marines open new base on Guam to prepare for future war with China / by Dave DeCamp

Originally published: Antiwar.com  on January 26, 2023

The U.S. Marine Corps on Thursday formally opened a new military base in the U.S. territory of Guam as part of Washington’s military buildup in the Asia Pacific that is aimed at China.

The base is still under construction but will eventually house 5,000 U.S. Marines, likely by the end of 2024. According to The Wall Street Journal, the purpose of the base is to prepare for a potential war with China in the islands of the western Pacific Ocean.

David Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, said that U.S. Marines would be the first to be deployed in the event of a war with China. “We don’t want to fight to get to the fight. We want to already be inside, so if there’s a conflict, the stand-in forces are already forward,” he said.

The Marine Corps has been revamping to better prepare for war with China by creating units that are more mobile and can quickly move around islands in the region. The U.S. is deploying one of these units, known as a Marine Littoral Regiment, to Okinawa by 2025, which will be armed with anti-ship missiles.

According to Kyodo News, the new base in Guam will host 4,000 U.S. Marines that will be transferred from Okinawa. The U.S. and Japan agreed to reduce the military burden on Okinawa, which hosts over 70% of U.S. bases in Japan, over local opposition to the U.S. presence. But the plans to deploy the Marine Littoral Regiment further entrenches the military presence in the Okinawa prefecture.

There is also local opposition to the expansion of the U.S. military presence in Guam, as Kyodo reported anti-base demonstrators protested against the opening of the new Marines Corps facility. An activist said that the military buildup will make Guam “a target for a war that we didn’t want to be part of.”

Antiwar.com is one project of our parent foundation, the Randolph Bourne Institute. It is a program that provides a sounding board of interest to all who are concerned about U.S. foreign policy and its implications.

Activists reject escalation in Ukraine, even when it’s unpopular / by People’s Dispatch

Manolo De Los Santos of the People’s Forum addresses the event

Originally published in Peoples Dispatch on November 21, 2022

On November 19, 300 activists, organizers, and working people gathered in New York City to listen to seven anti-war leaders speak out against U.S. and NATO involvement in the war in Ukraine. The event hosted at the Peoples Forum was titled “The Real Path to Peace in Ukraine,” and featured philosopher Noam Chomsky, historian Vijay Prashad, People’s Forum executive directors Manolo De Los Santos and Claudia De La Cruz, Brian Becker of the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition, Eugene Puryear of Breakthrough News, former U.S. presidential candidate for the Green Party, Jill Stein, and CODEPINK .

In Saturday’s event, speakers specifically underlined the need for negotiations to end the war in Ukraine and not escalation of violent conflict. Many pointed out that this war, like many before it, works directly against the interests of working people across the globe. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has sent over $80 billion to Ukraine in military and non-military aid.

Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, highlighted:

People who are working for things like healthcare for all in the United States, a free college education, all of those people have to recognize that as we are going to spend over $100 billion in less than a year on this war, we must make people understand that that money could be going for needs at home.

Despite this, voters in both the Democratic and Republican parties overwhelmingly support sending weapons to Ukraine. However, a majority in the U.S. is becoming concerned with the growing possibility of direct confrontation between two nuclear powers.

Who benefits from this war?

In the very outset of the war, the stocks of the top war manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin skyrocketed. An October 2 headline in Barron’s read,

Russia’s War on Ukraine Is Escalating. It’s Time to Buy Defense Stocks.

“We see very clearly that the only group of people who benefit from this war—the only people who benefit from there not being peace negotiations—are the elites in Washington,” said De Los Santos.

We will not allow them to sacrifice the planet for their new war of greed!

De La Cruz highlighted that the people of the U.S. have a responsibility to stand against the war as it is their tax money that is funding the war. “We have a responsibility to say, shut down NATO, shut down AFRICOM, and shut down every instrument of war that [the U.S. has] across the globe,” said De La Cruz.

Not in our name!

The struggle for peace

While De La Cruz focused on collective responsibility in winning peace, others highlighted the enormous power that average working people have in ending the war. Stein quoted author Alice Walker when she said, “the most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Eugene Puryear, who brought up the rich history of fightback against slavery, said “People power has defeated every terrible institution that you can imagine.”

ANSWER Coalition director Brian Becker touched upon the historic role of the U.S. anti-war movement during struggles in the cases of past wars, such as Vietnam.

“Whenever people have organized and fought for and mobilized for peace, they draw the wrath of the warmakers,” Becker said.

It doesn’t matter if their slogans are soft or mild, whether they talk about negotiations or overturning capitalism, just mobilizing the people against war is a great danger to the warmakers, because if the people finally say no to war, the wars end. The ruling class can’t do the wars without the people.

Between escalation and negotiation

The specter of nuclear war also hangs in the horizon as two nuclear superpowers inch closer and closer to direct conflict. This is especially true considering that when a missile hit Poland on November 15, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky immediately jumped to blame Russia. “Hitting NATO territory with missiles…This is a Russian missile attack on collective security! This is a really significant escalation. Action is needed,” Zelensky urged on the same day. This was a potentially catastrophic language, as Article 5 of NATO states that “an armed attack against one or more of [the members] in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.” Zelensky was advocating for a war between nuclear powers. The next day the truth came out: the missile was launched by accident by Ukrainian forces.

Despite the possibility of a world-ending nuclear war, NATO and the U.S. steadfastly refuse to move towards peace. “The central matter is the ghastly gamble,” said Chomsky.

The willingness to gamble that Russia will accept defeat and not react in the manner of the Western warrior states.

“The international committee of the Red Cross said that there would be a catastrophic humanitarian crisis from even a limited nuclear war, whatever that is,” said Eugene Puryear.

Nuclear winter. Crops destroyed. Water poisoned…talk about sowing salt in the soil, this is a million times worse than that.

Puryear drew attention to the often neglected consequences of the war: the calamitous impact on the Global South and among oppressed populations in the Global North. “From Sudan, to Sri Lanka, to São Paulo, to South Carolina, to the South Bronx, working class people and poor people on every corner of the globe are suffering from a massive cost of living crisis,” Puryear said, referring to the myriad crisis around the world, exacerbated by limited imports from Ukraine and sanctions on Russia.

“When do we have the right to speak?” Puryear asked.

Can the people in the Congo speak? How come no one is even talking about the Congo right now? War going on there. War has been going on for multiple decades. Maybe as many as ten million people have died. That never really makes the front page.

Historian and Tricontinental Institute director Vijay Prashad closed out the panel with a powerful statement: “No war but class war.” Prashad also called for the abolition of NATO and the CIA. “What has the CIA done that’s ever been good?” asked Prashad.

One of the reasons you need to build a massive peace movement, not only in the United States, but in all the Western warrior states, including Canada…it’s because you have to join the global movement. The mood is changing, friends. People are not interested in this anymore.

Peoples Dispatch, formerly The Dawn News, is an international media organization with the mission of bringing to you voices from people’s movements and organizations across the globe. Since its establishment three years ago, it has sought to ensure that the coverage of news from around the world is not restricted to the rhetoric of politicians and the fortunes of big companies but encompasses the richness and diversity of mobilizations from around the world. Peoples Dispatch also seeks to bring to you breaking news from a perspective widely different from that of the mainstream media. We invite people’s movements and political organizations everywhere to send us information and news from their countries. The information can be in Spanish, Portuguese, English or Hindi.

MRonline, November 23, 2022, https://mronline.org/

Uprising targets Canada’s man in Haiti / by Frantz Elbé, Jovenel Moïse, Mike Duheme, Sébastien Carrière

Sign reads: “Banks are not innocent in our misery.”

Originally published in Canadian Dimension, 09.15.2022

A popular uprising has paralyzed life in much of Haiti. While police are violently suppressing protesters, don’t expect Canadian officials to criticize security forces they fund.

Major centres across Haiti have been blocked for days. Protesters want foreign appointed leader Ariel Henry to go. They are angry about insecurity and the cost-of-living. Stoking the growing protests, the government ended a fuel subsidy on Monday that will have a broad economic implication.

In response to the strikes and marches, as well as some property destruction and looting, foreign embassies and banks have closed. The Dominican Republic reportedly sent special forces to Haiti on Thursday.

On Wednesday in the southern city of Les Cayes protesters held a casket draped with the U.S., French and Canadian flags and a picture of prime minister Henry. After President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated fourteen months ago the Core Group (representatives of U.S., Canada, France, Brazil, Spain, Germany, EU, UN and OAS) effectively appointed Henry to lead the country.

Since the U.S., France and Canada overthrew thousands of elected officials and instigated a UN occupation, Haitians have regularly targeted Ottawa at marches. Previously, protesters have hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails, as well as burned tires, in front of the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince. Millions of Haitians clearly view Canada as an imperialist force.

As part of its influence Ottawa has devoted significant political capital and resources to the Haitian police. Since the 2004 coup Canada has spent hundreds of million dollars on the Haitian police. Last month the federal government approved the export of Canadian-made armored personnel carriers to the Haitian police. Canadian ambassador Sébastien Carrière recently boasted about Canada spending $30 million on the Haitian police in 2022 and Ottawa is leading the push for the United Nations basket fund to assist the Haitian police.

On Tuesday in Port-au-Prince police shot towards a journalist and when he complained one of the officers walked over and shot him. With video of the incident, BNN Canada reported,

Police open fire on a journalist who states, ‘I’m the press!’ during protests in Haiti’s capital. A police officer approaches and shoots him in the stomach with a handgun hidden behind his riot shield.

But don’t expect ambassador Carrière to criticize this incident or any other police violence. Over the past few weeks, the Haitian police have killed a number of protesters and beat many others with no comment from Canadian officials. Almost without fail Canadian officials have stayed mum about Haitian police repression. Instead, Canada’s ambassador to Haiti regularly tweets about supporting the police.

Recently Carrière tweeted about Haitian police Chief Frantz Elbé addressing the UN and about RCMP Deputy Commissioner Mike Duheme meeting Elbé. Last week Carrière also retweeted a Miami Herald article about the Haitian police and a few days earlier an Alterpresse story on the same subject.

Canada has chosen a side and it’s not the long-suffering Haitian people. Ottawa has trained and funds police to maintain its chosen leader, Ariel Henry, in office.

Canada’s actions speak loud and clear: ‘We support police violence. Popular uprising be damned. Democracy be damned. Non-interference in other country’s affairs be damned.’ Ottawa is sticking to its guns. Literally.

MR Online, September 21, 2022, https://mronline.org/

Nicaragua celebrates 43 years of revolution: a clash between reality and media misrepresentation / by John Perry

Sandinista supporters in Masaya, July 2022. Credit: John Perry

Originally published: Council on Hemispheric Affairs on July 19, 2022 by John Perry

July 19th is a day of celebration in Nicaragua: the anniversary of the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship. But the international media will have it penciled in their diaries for another reason: it’s yet another opportunity to pour scorn on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. We’ll hear again about how the government “clamps down on dissent,”1 about its “political prisoners,”2 its recent “pantomime election,”3 its “damaging crackdown on civil society”4 and much more. All of these accusations have been answered but the media will continue to shut out any evidence that conflicts with the consensus narrative about Nicaragua, that its president, Daniel Ortega, has “crushed the Nicaraguan dream.”5

Mainstream media tells its own story

Since the violent, U.S.-directed coup attempt in 2018, in which more than 200 people died, it has been very difficult to find objective analysis of the political situation in Nicaragua in mainstream media, much less any examination of the revolution’s achievements. In disregarding what is actually happening in the country, the media is ignoring and excluding the lived experience of ordinary Nicaraguans, as if their daily lives are irrelevant to any judgment about the direction the country is taking. Most notably, instead of recognizing that 75% of Nicaraguan voters supported the government in last November’s election, in which two-thirds of the electorate participated, the result is seen as “a turn toward an openly dictatorial model.”6 This judgment is backed by confected claims of electoral fraud from “secret poll watchers,”7 which ignore COHA’s strong evidence that no fraud took place.8

Streets show the political reality

In the run-up to the anniversary of the revolution on July 19th, Sandinista supporters have been filling the streets of every main city with celebratory marches. In Masaya, where I live, I took part in a procession with around 3,000 people and discovered afterwards that three other marches took place at the same time in different parts of Masaya, with even more people participating in each of those. People have much to celebrate: the city was one of those most damaged by the violent coup attempt in Nicaragua four years ago, but has since lived in peace.

During the attempted coup, for three months the city of Masaya was controlled by armed thugs (still regularly described in the media as “peaceful” protesters). Five police officers and several civilians were killed. The town hall, the main secondary school, the old tourist market and other government buildings were set on fire. Houses of Sandinista supporters were ransacked. Shops were looted and the economic life of one of Nicaragua’s most important commercial centers was suspended. My own doctor’s house went up in flames and a friend who was defending the municipal depot when it was ransacked was kidnapped, tortured and later had to have an arm amputated as a result.

So one strong motive for the marches is to reaffirm most people’s wishes that this should never happen again: 43 years ago a revolutionary war ended in the Sandinistas’ triumph over Somoza, but this was quickly followed by the U.S.-sponsored Contra attacks that cost thousands more lives. For anyone over 35, the violence in 2018 was a sickening reminder of these wars. Since then, not the least of the government’s achievements is that Nicaragua has returned to having the lowest homicide level in Central America,9 and people want it to stay that way.

Progress under Sandinistas is not recognized internationally

But this is far from the government’s only success since it returned to power in 2007. It inherited a country broken by 17 years of neoliberal governments by and for the rich (after the Sandinistas lost power in the 1990 election). Nothing worked during those years: there were daily power cuts, roads were in shocking disrepair, some 100,000s of children didn’t go to school and poverty was rampant. When the Sandinistas regained the presidency in 2007, and helped by the alliance with Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela and a boom in commodities prices, the government began a massive investment program. For the second poorest country in Latin America, the transformation was remarkable.

Take the practical issues that affect everyone. Power cuts stopped because the new government quickly built small new power stations and then encouraged massive investment in renewable energy. Electricity coverage now reaches over 99% of households, up from just 50% in 2016, with three-quarters now generated from renewables. Piped water reaches 93% of city dwellers compared with 65% in 2007. In 2007, Nicaragua had 2,044 km of paved roads, mostly in bad condition. Now it has 4,300 km, half of them built in the last 15 years, giving it the best roads in Central America.10

Its remarkable advances in health care were evidenced by how Nicaragua handled the COVID-19 pandemic, with (according to the World Health Organization11) a level of excess mortality far lower than that of many wealthier countries in Latin America, including neighboring Costa Rica. It now has one of the world’s highest levels of completed vaccinations against the virus (83%),12 exceeding levels in the U.S. and many European countries. There has been massive investment in the public health service: Nicaragua has built 23 new hospitals in the past 15 years and now has more hospital beds (1.8 per 1,000 population)13 than richer countries such as Mexico (1.5) and Colombia (1.7).14 The country has one of the highest regional levels of public health spending, relative to GDP (“PIB” in Spanish–see chart), and its service is completely free.

Nicaragua is 6th out of 17 Latin American countries in public health investment
Look at education. School attendance increased from 79% to 91% when charges imposed by previous governments were abolished; now pupils get help with uniforms and books and all receive free school lunches. Free education now extends into adulthood, so out of a population of 6.6 million, some 1.7 million are currently receiving public education in some form. Under neoliberal governments illiteracy rose to 22% of the population, and now it’s down to 4-6%.

Source: Centre for Economic and Social Rights, p.58. http://www.amnesty.org

Strides in gender parity: another victory

Nicaraguan women have been integral to the revolution. More than half of ministerial posts are held by women, an achievement for which Nicaragua is ranked seventh in the world in gender equality in 2022.15 Only two countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have a smaller gender pay gap than Nicaragua. More than a third of police officers are female and there are special women’s centers in 119 police stations. Maternal health has been significantly improved, with maternal mortality falling from 92.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2006, to 31.6 in 2021, a reduction of 66%.16 This is partly due to the 180 casas maternas where women stay close to a hospital or health center for the weeks before giving birth. The state also provides family planning free of charge in all health centers, including tubal ligations for women who do not wish to have more children. It is also true, of course, that abortion is illegal, but (unlike in other Latin American countries) no woman or doctor has ever been prosecuted under this law.

At the moment, people’s biggest concern is the state of the economy and the cost-of-living crisis. Nicaragua has advantages here, too: it is more than 80% self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs and prices have been controlled because the government is capping the cost of fuel (both for vehicles and for cooking). Nicaragua’s economy grew by more than 10% in 2021, returning to 2019, pre-pandemic economic levels, although growth was still not sufficient for the country to recover from the economic damage caused by the 2018 coup attempt. Government debt (forecast to be 46% of GDP in 2022) is lower than its neighbors, especially that of Costa Rica (70%), where poverty now extends to 30% of the population. However, Nicaragua and Costa Rica are economically interdependent, and the latter’s economic problems are a large part of the explanation for the growth in migration by Nicaraguans to the United States.17

Daniel Ortega enjoys high approval ratings

These are only a few of the factors that underlie people’s support for Daniel Ortega’s government. And this support continues: according to polling by CID Gallup,18 in early January President Ortega was more popular than the then presidents of Honduras, Costa Rica or Guatemala. M&R Consultants, in a more recent poll,19 found that Ortega has a 70% approval rating and ranks second among Latin American presidents. This was obvious when huge numbers of Nicaraguans celebrated November’s election result and it is still obvious as they go out onto the streets during “victorious July”.

At a meeting with Central American foreign ministers in June 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken urged governments “to work to improve the lives of people in our countries in real, concrete ways.”20 Blinken deliberately ignores the ample proof that Daniel Ortega’s government is not only doing that but has been more successful in this respect than any other Central American government. Yet the more that the international media parrot Washington’s criticisms of Daniel Ortega, the more that people here will reaffirm their support for his government.


1. “Nicaragua Seizes Universities, Inching Toward Dictatorship,” http://www.nytimes.com
2. “Nicaragua’s Secretive Ruling Family Reaches Out Quietly to the U.S.,” http://www.nytimes.com
3. “Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on Nicaragua’s Sham Elections,” http://www.whitehouse.gov
4. “Nicaragua shuts down 50 non-profits in new crackdown,” http://www.bbc.com
5. “Daniel Ortega and the Crushing of the Nicaraguan Dream,” http://www.nytimes.com
6. “Nicaragua Descends Into Autocratic Rule as Ortega Crushes Dissent,” http://www.nytimes.com
7. “The secret-poll watchers of Nicaragua. How they monitored a questionable presidential election,” http://www.latimes.com
8. “If there was ‘fraud’ in Nicaragua’s elections, where is the proof?” http://www.coha.org
9. See http://www.statista.com
10. “Nicaragua posee las mejores carreteras de Centroamérica,” revistamyt.com
11. See http://www.who.int
12. See ourworldindata.org
13. See the Nicaraguan government White paper, downloadable at http://www.el19digital.com
14. See http://www.cia.gov
15. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report for 2022 (www.weforum.org)
16. “Nicaragua ha logrado disminuir la mortalidad materna,” radiolaprimerisima.com
17. “The UN Refugee Agency is exaggerating the number of Nicaraguan refugees,” http://www.coha.org
18. See http://www.cidgallup.com
19. See http://www.myrconsultores.com
20. “Blinken urges Central America to defend democracy to alleviate migration,” ticotimes.net

John Perry is a COHA Senior Research Fellow and writer living in Masaya, Nicaragua.

MR Online, July 21, 2022, https://mronline.org/