Venezuela’s Chavez to Ministers: Now is the Time for Self-Criticism

by Rachael Boothroyd, Venezuela Analysis

In a cabinet meeting with his top ministers on Saturday, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez strongly criticised his political team for failing to show commitment to the participatory democratic model currently being proposed by his government and urged them to undertake serious “self-criticism”.

Chavez at the cabinet meeting on Saturday

The meeting was the first cabinet meeting to have taken place since the Venezuelan national elections were held on 7 October, in which Chavez won a third presidential term with over 54% of the vote.

During the televised meeting, Chavez made many criticisms of his party, especially with regards to the construction of the country’s communes, which group together communal councils in a given region. Continue reading

End the Aggression Against Syria! Stop the Drive to War Against Iran!

Canadian Peace Congress Executive Council

The Canadian Peace Congress condemns the ongoing foreign intervention in Syria and the escalating drive to war against Iran, and calls for the immediate withdrawal of all Canadian, NATO and foreign mercenary forces from the region. We further call upon the Conservative government of Stephen Harper to restore and normalize its diplomatic relations with Syria and Iran, and to re‑orient Canadian foreign policy toward peace, international cooperation and solidarity.

The Harper government’s decision to adopt an international policy of belligerence, and to do so without consulting Parliament, is further evidence of its abandonment of a foreign policy of peace and diplomacy in favour of aggressive and hostile interference in the internal affairs of sovereign countries. Syria and Iran are member states of the United Nations and have expressed no hostile intent towards Canada or its people. Prime Minister Harper is actively contributing to the danger of war, through hostile policies that are out of step with the Canadian peoples’ longstanding support for peace. Continue reading

Chinese President Vows More Cooperation with DPRK

Xinhua

BEIJING, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) — President Hu Jintao said Friday that China is ready towork with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to lift their traditional friendly and cooperative relationship to a new level.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R, front) meets with a delegation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) headed by Jang Song Thaek (L, front), chief of the central administrative department of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 17, 2012.

Hu made the remark as he met with a DPRK delegation headed by Jang Song Thaek, chief of the central administrative department of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).

Jang, also a member of the WPK Political Bureau and vice-chairman of the National Defense Commission, is in Beijing to attend a meeting of the joint steering committee for developing and managing the Rason Economic and Trade Zone and the Hwanggumphyong and Wihwa Islands Economic Zone in the DPRK. Continue reading

DPRK’s Satellites for Peaceful Purposes to Continue Orbiting Space: KCST Spokesman

Rodong Sinmun

A spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology (KCST) released the following statement on Apr. 19:

Since the KCST’s announcement of the planned launch of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 on March 16, the issue of the DPRK’s satellite launch has become topic of debate in the world.

Those who sympathize with truth and love justice were unanimous in praising the plan with much expectation.

But, the unjust and ill-tempered hostile forces have worked hard to mislead public opinion with groundless assertions and sophism. Continue reading

Cuban sugar sweetens education for children throughout Laos

Lao News Agency

More than 150,000 pre-primary and primary school students will get a boost of energy every day to help them concentrate better on their studies, thanks to a contribution from Cuba of more than 180 metric tons of sugar to the United Nations World Food Programme.

The sugar will be mixed in to a nutritious daily mid-morning snack dumplings made from a blend of corn and soy – for school students in rural areas throughout six provinces in the far north and south of Laos, according to yesterday press release of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The Cuban donation was made possible thanks to a private citizen of Japan, who funded the shipment from Cuba to Laos. In a statement, he expressed his hope that his contribution will play a small part in making the world a better place. Continue reading

Chinese-Vietnamese Relations at a Glance

*note: Both articles from Nhan Dan Online, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Vice Premier Affirms China’s Strong Ties with Vietnam

 At the meeting   ( Image: chinhphu.vn )

China attaches great importance to developing the friendly and neighbourly relations and mutually beneficial co-operation with Vietnam in all fields, said Vice Premier Li Keqiang.

Li made the statement in Hainan on March 31 during a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart Hoang Trung Hai, who is there for the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2012.

Li welcomed Hai to the forum, saying this shows the Vietnamese Government’s desire to boost economic cooperation in the region, as well as economic and trade ties between the two countries.

Both host and guest acknowledged recent positive developments in bilateral relations, especially those made after the China visit by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong last October and the Vietnam visit by Vice President Xi Jinping last December.

The two countries should work closely in grasping and strictly implementing common perceptions reached by their senior leaders to foster the development of the two countries’ friendship and cooperation, they said.

They agreed that both countries should continue to maintain high-level contacts and visits, considering them a decisive element in strengthening bilateral relations.

They proposed relevant Vietnamese and Chinese agencies quickly identify and sign the list of joint cooperation projects in 2011-2015 for early and effective realisation towards two-way trade to US$60 billion by 2015.

Regarding the sea issue, Deputy PM Hoang Trung Hai emphasised that both sides need to strictly enforce the two countries’ common perceptions and the agreement on the basic principles guiding the settlement of sea issues between Vietnam and China so as to satisfactorily resolve arising sea-related disputes and issues.

Deputy PM Hai requested China to unconditionally release two fishing vessels and 21 Vietnamese fishermen aboard seized by China, and not to take action to further complicate the situation.

The same day, Deputy PM Hai met with Lou Baoming, Secretary of the Hainan provincial Party Committee, who noted that trade, investment and economic ties between Hainan and Vietnamese localities have grown rapidly, with two-way trade last year increasing by 50%.

However, Lou Baoming said that Hainan and Vietnam have great potential for stronger cooperation and that the province wants to increase friendly exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation with Vietnam.

(VNA)

Vietnam condemns China violating sovereignty

China holding a yacht race to the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, seriously violates Vietnam’s sovereignty, said Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Luong Thanh Nghi.

In response to the Hainan authorities organising a yacht race, called “the Sinan Cup” from Sanya to the archipelago on March 30, Nghi stated unequivocally that this is contrary to China’s commitment not to raise tensions in the East Sea.

“Vietnam is strongly against the race taking place and demands that China calls it off and complies with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea in order to maintain peace and stability in the area,” he said.

(VNA)

Syria: Heralding a Change in the International Strategic Situation?

Granma International English Edition
by Ernesto Gomez Abascal

Evidently the Cold War ended in the final decade of the 20th century with the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the European socialist countries, but the U.S. plan of domination enshrined in the Project for the New American Century, drawn up by a group of neoconservative and Zionist strategists, remains in the minds of Washington politicians.

However, Democrat and Republican priorities on the imperial agenda remain. These are: control of the Near East given its energy resources and strategic position, the elimination of governments who stand up to or interfere with its interests, and to exclude the emergence of new rival powers.

While it is a fact that things have not been going well for the U.S. government in Afghanistan and Iraq, this has not resulted in a change of plans, but merely adjustments to the new conditions. Imperialism has many years of experience in methods of regime change, as we in Latin America know very well.

In Libya, included for years on the list of seven countries whose governments had to be changed, the United States was initially successful, having taken advantage of some inconsistencies on the part of Muammar Gaddafi, and certain lack of popularity for the leader. Then came an intensive media campaign, Arab League cover and backing, which facilitated a UN Security Council resolution, and subsequently, a large part of the country’s infrastructure was bombed by NATO aircraft, thousands of Libyans were killed, and a government subordinated to its interests was installed in Tripoli. Libya’s large oil reserves are now more accessible to U.S. and European corporations, although the chaos created in the country has created an uncertain future.

While this was taking place in Libya, the CIA and its allies in the NATO special services were working on the next country listed, Syria. It has been acknowledged that hundreds of Syrians were trained and armed in Turkey and other countries ill disposed toward the Damascus government, especially those of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and in areas of the Lebanon under the control the March 14 alliance (directed by the Hariri clan, pro‑Saudi and linked to the French government). These Syrians are predominantly Sunnis and members of the illegal and extremist Muslim Brotherhood, but include mercenaries from other Arab countries, and commandos trained for special operations. These have received a large supply of modern armaments, sophisticated communications equipment and information via NATO satellite networks.

The predominantly Alawite Damascus government, a strong ally of Iran and a supporter of the Lebanese patriotic forces headed by Hezbollah, which controls power in Beirut, had genuine problems – as do all countries in the region and a large part of the world, including the most developed countries. These include repression, lack of democracy, and corruption, and this has provoked malaise within the population, leading to demonstrations initially encouraged by those in other countries of the region, and which were repressed particularly where they originated, in the southern city of Daraa, right on the border with Jordan.

The media war machine was immediately activated against Syria, as was the case with Libya. In Cuba, Venezuela and other Latin America countries we have become experts on how this operates, having suffered it for many years, and we also know how to combat it, despite disadvantageous material conditions given the enormous propaganda resources possessed by the enemy. Even with the abovementioned defects, the Syrian government was practising a non-sectarian policy in the religious context and one of relative social justice, anti‑imperialist and anti‑Zionist. It has been an ally of progressive causes in the South and an obstacle to U.S. and Israeli plans in the region. Allegations intended to discredit it, to the effect that its policy of peace serves Israeli interests, have no serious foundation.

Installing a pro‑Western government in Damascus would propitiate a change of government in Lebanon and possibly another war there to eliminate the power of Hezbollah, an ally of Iran together with Syria, and viewed as enemies by the Sunni Gulf monarchies, who submit to Western policy in return for protection from an alleged Iranian threat, even though no war has been initiated by that country for centuries.

If the plan concerning Syria is consummated, the Western powers would move against Tehran and, along the way, crush the resistance of Palestine, obliging it to accept crumbs of territory and the minimum rights which Israeli Zionists would be disposed to concede to the people. The U.S. “Grand Middle East” would be completed with its extension to Central Asia, and the siege of Russia and China would be laid.

However, Syria is not Libya. Although its leaders have made undeniable errors and have acted slowly in response to the conspiracy and plans of its powerful enemies, thus losing a lot of time and ground, it would seem to have sufficient internal support and resources to stand up to its enemies and defeat them, albeit at a heavy price in terms of death and destruction.

Apparently, a clear perception of this reality prompted Russian and Chinese representatives to use their veto in the February 4 Security Council vote on a resolution which – regardless of its text, as was the case with Libya – would open the gates to foreign intervention in order to destroy the country and impose a regime change. The highest authorities in both countries have clearly declared a red line and they are not prepared to allow a military intervention in Syria.

The firm stand of Moscow and Beijing and the cooperation they are giving the Syrian government, appears to be starting to change the situation on the ground. The Lebanese army has been mobilized to the border in an attempt to prevent the entry of mercenaries and military supplies into the neighbouring area of Homs, center of the anti‑government uprising and whose capital city was intended to become the Benghazi of Syria. Syrian government forces have recently moved onto the offensive there.

The Baghdad government, now closer to Iran’s influence than to that of the United States, is also trying to prevent Sunni Islamic extremists – possibly linked to Al Qaeda and receiving funds from Saudi Arabia and Qatar – from continuing to infiltrate into Syrian territory. Recent terrorist attacks on the Shiite population in various parts of Iraq would seem to be a message of protest from Saudi Arabia and the United States given the change in position in favour of Syria adopted by the Iraqi government.

Turkey and Jordan, two other countries to have adopted belligerent positions against the Damascus government, are beginning to make more moderate statements. There are even signs of concern in Western capitals at the possibility of extremist Islamic forces linked to Al Qaeda coming to power in Syria in the case of the current executive being defeated.

The situation is highly fluid and extremely complex, but if Syria succeeds in resisting this imperialist, and Zionist counterrevolutionary aggression, and if Russia and China remain firm, there could be a defeat of strategic magnitude. Iran would emerge strengthened and new alliances could be established to oppose imperialist plans of domination. The countries of the BRICS group, the newly independent countries of Latin America, especially the strong core members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), are in agreement with the principals of a foreign policy opposed to aggression, and would favour the negotiated solution to conflicts. They also defend justice, sovereignty and non‑intervention, all of which could initiate the beginnings of a newmultipolar balance in the world.

The grave economic crisis affecting the major capitalist powers and the debilitation this implies, in conjunction with the indignados movement, could significantly contribute to this potential panorama.

(Ernesto Abascal was the Cuban ambassador to Iraq.)

*note: Granma is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba. You can visit their International English website here. The original article is here.