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Venezuela, Guyana and the Transnationalization – US Occupation of Esequibo

By Franco Vielma

The dispute between Venezuela and Guyana regarding the Esequibo has taken a significant turn with the beginning of transnationalization of contested land and territorial waters. What follows is an outline of the most profound issues involved.

In 2013 Venezuelan authorities detained the ship Teknik Perdana with five U.S. citizens on board. The ship, operated by the U.S. company Anadarko Petroleum Corp., was sailing near the island of Margarita carrying out petroleum exploration – seismic activities to determine quantities of hydrocarbon resources — in waters disputed by Venezuela and Guyana. The Venezuelan authorities justified their actions saying that the detained ship had entered our territorial waters without our permission.

The government of Guyana accused the Venezuelan navy of detaining the ship within its waters and called the incident a “threat to peace” in the region. The Guyanese ministry “energetically condemned” the event that occurred in the waters in dispute between the two South American countries. Caracas refuted the allegations of Guyana that one of its patrol boats had detained the ship in Guyanese waters and, on the contrary, demanded a “satisfactory explanation” from the neighboring government for its allowing ships to transit in what are considered territorial waters of Venezuela’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

This incident occurred against the background of what has been a shift in policy on the part of Guyana, which now focuses on the exploitation of land and territorial waters, which Venezuelans consider ours, that were stripped from us by the United Kingdom by way of the Paris Arbitration Award in 1899 (regarding the boundary between the colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela).

Resources of the Guayana Esequiba

A publication on the U.S. State Department web site in February of this year describes the existence of a joint Guyana-Surinam petroleum basin which holds, according to figures provided by the United States Geological Survey, the potential to become “the second largest among unexplored petroleum basin reserves in the world,” with estimates (to date) of some “15 billion recoverable barrels of petroleum reserves and 42 trillion cubic feet of gas.” It is not specified, by this source, whether the reserves are concentrated in waters or solid ground.

The United States, through its “beachhead” Exxon Mobil, and with the intervention of the new government of Guyana, headed by David Arthur Granger (a retired military general trained in the United Kingdom and further educated in the United States) have taken up the concrete task of exploiting the contested waters, placing such activities within the framework of U.S. strategic energy policy.

As articulated by the U.S. State Department, an active collaboration exists between Guyana and the United States to achieve their goal. According to the working plan of the Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative – an administrative program for the implementation of U.S. transnational energy policy – Guyana and the United States have developed a working plan involving the U.S. offer of “a wide range of technical and capacity building assistance for Guyana, which seeks to develop financial and regulatory systems aimed at resolving problems of leadership capacity to maximize possibilities for the development of potential oil and gas resources at sea.”

In other words, this is a U.S. government policy of systematic exploitation and transnationalization of the Esequibo, utilizing all necessary financial and technical resources toward that end. However, this situation is rife with sweeping complexities. The global competition for natural resources is one of the most significant elements of the dynamics of modern day capitalism and its logic of accumulation. South America, due to the magnitude of strategic resource reserves that it possesses and its historical position of being a region of export of prime resources, plays an important role in this competition. Guyana cannot escape this reality.

Guyana enters the order of nations as a “hydrocarbon possessing” country, adapting itself in a concrete manner with the strategic policy of the United States’ treatment and control of raw materials as outlined in its “2012 National Security Strategy,” which projects the U.S. as the center of power over essential sources on a planetary level. Guyana has become an element of particular U.S. interest only in regard to hydrocarbons, notwithstanding the possibilities for exploitation by the United States of strategic mineral resources also found in the Esequibo, such as coltan, uranium and gold, quantities of which have not yet been publicly and clearly determined in the region.

The transnationalization and occupation of the Esequibo

Guyana delegates the exploitation of resources in dispute with Venezuela to a foreign power and corporation, and this, given its legal inconsistencies, brings up an important contention. In 1966, Venezuela and Guyana signed the Geneva Agreement, the only valid agreement which governs the bi-national negotiations relating to the contested territories. The Geneva Agreement is a temporary agreement designed to arrive at a definitive solution — many define it as “an agreement to reach an agreement” – and although it invalidates the 1899 arbitration award, the status quo which stemmed from that arbitration remains in place. Therefore, the area contested by Venezuela falls under the authority of the government of Guyana until a different solution is reached according to the agreement. Guyana utilizes this interpretation to justify the legality of resource exploitation in the disputed lands and waters.

But on the other hand, the same Geneva Agreement calls for the creation of a bi-national Joint Commission, which is not active at the present time. Guyana has had a lot to do with the non-existence of said commission, given that it enforces a framework of decision making and responsibilities that contravene the interests of Guyana in the exploitation of natural resources of the reclamation zone.

One of the main responsibilities of the Joint Commission is to carry out the mandate of Article V (2) of the current agreement, which refers to the creation of “rights of sovereignty in said territories”. The exploitation of resources on a territory would be, by reasons of comparative international rights, an exercise of the “right of sovereignty”. Without a Joint Commission that authorizes such actions, resource exploitation in the Esequibo is illegitimate. The Joint Commission would legitimate decisions agreed upon with the signatures of the heads of state of both countries.

The United States, via Exxon Mobil, carries out the exploitation of the sea and contested resources. In regard to the infringement of Venezuelan sovereignty, Monica Bruckmann, sociologist and professor of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, explains the underlying issues in one of her publications on natural resources and geopolitics: “The global dispute over natural resources and their economic and scientific administration raises a broad range of conflicting interests in the region, demonstrating at the least two conflicting projects: the assertion of sovereignty as a basis for national development and regional integration and the reorganization of the hegemonic interests of the United States on the continent.”

The U.S. readjustment in South America now presents itself establishing its “Energy Security Zone, projecting itself toward the Venezuelan Atlantic, as the waters where Exxon is operating have been ruled as Venezuelan Comprehensive Atlantic Maritime Defense zones, according to a decree published May 27, issued by the Venezuelan government as an equivalent response to Guyana’s inclination to exploit contested resources.

But the complexity of this situation also includes distinctive features of Exxon Mobil’s financial, technological and operational approach and positioning in the transgressed Venezuelan waters. Exxon is a transnational corporation known worldwide for operating in territories that are occupied, contested or in the midst of civil war. While Saddam Hussein was being chased down for capture and execution in Iraq, Exxon directed its efforts to develop operations at the hands of Halliburton. In Libya they are accused of providing support and cooperation with mercenaries that today are in control of the country’s oil installations. The accusations are countless.

Exxon is accustomed to carrying out operations accompanied by a “security component” – a euphemism for injecting paramilitary mercenary forces on the ground. This points to the huge possibility for the placement of foreign paramilitary forces in occupied Venezuelan waters and ground support areas.

On the other hand, as usually happens in major petroleum deals that the United States cuts with crude oil possessing nations, almost all of the exploitation of virgin basins (as is the case of the waters of the Esequibo) involves the expansion and enlargement of the areas of exploitation. This infers the possibility for short term development of new areas of exploration and subsequent exploitation on solid ground, needless to say, on land within the reclamation zone. If Exxon broadens its logistic capacities on the ground, its security component will do likewise, which will constitute the de facto outright U.S. paramilitary occupation of the Esequibo.

Almost all oil agreements elaborated by the United States include the military component. That is, we are facing the probability of not only military occupation and transnationalization of the Esequibo but also its occupation by conventional forces of the United States.

The U.S. security strategic policy outlined in its “2012 National Security Strategy Plan” provides for the “protection” and “safeguarding” of U.S. assets on an intercontinental level. The plan consists of a manual to be employed worldwide which designates the responsibility of the United States to act in favor of the protection of public and private property and persons of the United States throughout the world against all threats, declared or unexpected. Under this legislation the United States intrudes in territorial waters around the world. It does so in the Horn of Africa against Somali piracy with the frequent use of force if any of its assets are compromised.

In other words: If Venezuela detains a U.S. ship attempting to extract resources in our Comprehensive Atlantic Maritime Defense zones, the U.S. Navy assumes the legal authority to act with the use of force. And therein lies the crux of the matter: a scenario of war is more likely with the United States itself than with Guyana, which lacks certain military assets to diligently occupy and safeguard the contested waters.

Another issue to consider is the likely expansion of the areas of illegal exploitation of resources of the Esequibo to the vicinity of the Esequibo River, the ultimate natural line of demarcation of the disputed territories. It is very likely that this could occur with the injection of the paramilitary component and elements of the regular U.S. forces – read this well — with military bases located a mere three minutes of flight time away from Ciudad Bolivar and 20 minutes from Caracas. We’re talking about a scenario in which Venezuela is flanked on its Atlantic coast and its eastern border, with our Esequibo put to use as an aircraft carrier and base of operations projecting into Venezuelan energy security zones such as the Orinoco Oil Belt.

In the warmongering run-up to occupation and usurpation of our territories, in Venezuela we have come to terms with the weapons of politics, reason and history. But the situation is changing; they want to provoke us into a war. Another thing is certain: These are not those times in which Andrés Eloy Blanco pointed out that we had lost of fifth of our territory “without firing a single shot”.

Transnacionalización y ocupación del Esequibo: lo que hay detrás

Por Franco Vielma

La disputa entre Venezuela y Guyana con respecto al Esequibo ha dado un giro significativo con el inicio de la transnacionalización del territorio y el mar territorial en disputa. Lo que sigue es una descripción de las cuestiones más profundas al respecto.

En 2013 las autoridades venezolanas detuvieron el barco Teknik Perdana con cinco ciudadanos estadounidenses a bordo. El buque llevaba a cabo una exploración en aguas disputadas por Venezuela y Guyana. El barco detenido era de exploración petrolera y operada por la compañía estadounidense Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Navegaba cerca de la isla de Margarita, realizando actividades de “sísmica”, que no es otra cosa que la exploración y cuantificación de recursos hidrocarburos. Las autoridades venezolanas justificaron sus acciones diciendo que el buque detenido había entrado en nuestras aguas territoriales sin nuestro permiso.

El gobierno de Guyana acusó a la Armada venezolana de detener en sus aguas al barco y calificó el incidente de “amenaza para la paz” en la región. La cancillería guyanesa “condenó enérgicamente” el suceso ocurrido en aguas disputadas entre ambos países sudamericanos. Caracas rechazó a su vez las acusaciones de Guyana de que una de sus patrullas hiciera una detención en aguas guyanesas y, al contrario, le pidió una “explicación satisfactoria” al gobierno vecino por permitir el tránsito de embarcaciones en las que consideran aguas de su Zona Económica Exclusiva.

Este evento fue referencia a lo que ha sido un giro en la política de Guyana, que ahora se apresta al aprovechamiento de recursos en territorios y aguas que los venezolanos consideramos como nuestros, despojados de nuestro país por Reino Unido mediante el Laudo Arbitral de París en 1899.

Los recursos en la Guayana Esequiba

Según una publicación en el sitio web del Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos, con actualización en febrero de este año, se reseña la existencia de una cuenca petrolera conjunta Guyana-Surinam, la cual tiene, según cifras aportadas por The United States Geological Survey (Servicio de Geología de Estados Unidos; Usgs, por sus siglas en inglés), el potencial de ser “la segunda reserva en cuencas inexploradas del mundo” sobre la estimación (hasta la fecha) de unas reservas probables de “15 mil millones de reservas de petróleo recuperable y unos 42 billones de pies cúbicos de gas”. No se especifica, al menos en esta fuente, si tales reservas se encuentran concentradas en aguas o en tierra firme.

EEUU, por medio de su “cabeza de playa” Exxon Mobil, y de la mano del nuevo gobierno de Guyana, dirigido por David Arthur Granger (un general retirado formado en Reino Unido y con cursos en EEUU), asumen la tarea concreta de explotar las aguas en reclamación, enmarcando tales actividades en la política estratégica energética norteamericana.

Según lo señalado desde el Departamento de Estado Norteamericano, existe una colaboración activa entre Guyana y EEUU para tales fines. De acuerdo al plan de trabajo del Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative (Egci) –una instancia para el abordaje de la política energética transnacional norteamericana–, Guyana y EEUU han desarrollado un plan de trabajo que consiste en el ofrecimiento del gobierno de Estados Unidos “de una amplia gama de asistencia técnica y creación de capacidad para Guyana, la cual busca desarrollar regímenes financieros y regulatorios a los fines de solucionar problemas de capacidad de dirección que maximicen el potencial de desarrollo de los recursos potenciales de petróleo y gas en alta mar”.

Dicho de otra manera, se trata de una política del gobierno de Estados Unidos la explotación y transnacionalización sistemática del Esequibo, prestando todos los recursos financieros y técnicos para eso. Pero esta situación comprende complejidades de mayor amplitud. La disputa global por los recursos naturales es uno de los elementos más significativos de la dinámica del capitalismo contemporáneo y de su lógica de acumulación. América del Sur es un espacio importante de esta disputa por la dimensión de las reservas de recursos estratégicos que posee y por su condición histórica de ser una región exportadora de materias primas. Guyana no escapa a esta realidad.

Guyana entra al concierto de naciones como país “poseedor de hidrocarburos”, articulándose de manera concreta con la política estratégica norteamericana de abordaje y control de materias primas y energía, previsto así en su “National Security Estrategic Plan 2012″ que proyecta a EEUU como centro de poder sobre las fuentes fundamentales a escala planetaria. Sólo en el aspecto de los hidrocarburos Guyana pasa a ser un elemento de particular interés norteamericano, descontándose con esta afirmación las posibilidades de aprovechamiento por parte de EEUU de los recursos minerales estratégicos que también se encuentran en el Esequibo, como el coltán, el uranio y el oro, cuyos volúmenes en la región no han sido determinados pública y transparentemente.

La transnacionalización y ocupación del Esequibo

Guyana delega a una potencia y a una corporación extraterritorial la explotación de recursos en disputa con Venezuela, y esto reviste una importante polémica dadas sus inconsistencias legales. En 1966, Venezuela y Guyana firmaron el Acuerdo de Ginebra, único acuerdo vigente que rige la negociación binacional sobre los territorios en reclamación. El Acuerdo de Ginebra es un acuerdo transitorio para llegar a una solución definitiva, muchos lo definen como “un acuerdo para llegar a un acuerdo”, y aunque invalida el laudo de 1899, se mantiene el statu quo que de él derivó. Por lo tanto, el área en reclamación por Venezuela se encuentra bajo la autoridad del gobierno de Guyana hasta que no se resuelva algo diferente conforme al Tratado. Sobre esta interpretación, Guyana justifica la legalidad de la explotación de recursos en las aguas y tierras en disputa.

Pero por otro lado, el mismo Acuerdo de Ginebra dispone la creación de una Comisión Mixta binacional, que en estos momentos se encuentra desactivada. Guyana ha tenido mucho que ver en la inexistencia de dicha comisión actualmente, dado que ella ejecuta un marco de decisiones y competencias que contravienen el interés de Guyana de explotar recursos naturales en la zona en reclamación.

Una de las competencias fundamentales de dicha Comisión es la de activar lo dispuesto en el artículo V, numeral 2, del acuerdo vigente, el cual se hace referencia a la creación de “derechos de soberanía en dichos territorios”. La explotación de recursos en un territorio sería, por cuestiones del derecho internacional comparado, un ejercicio del “derecho a la soberanía”. Sin una Comisión Mixta que autorice tales actos, la explotación de recursos en el Esequibo es espúrea. La Comisión Mixta refrendaría las decisiones acordadas con la firma de los mandatarios de ambos países.

EEUU por medio de Exxon Mobil asume el aprovechamiento de mares y recursos en disputa. Sobre la vulneración de la soberanía venezolana y de la integridad territorial de Venezuela, Mónica Bruckmann explica las cuestiones de fondo en una de sus publicaciones sobre recursos naturales y geopolítica: “La disputa global por los recursos naturales y su gestión económica y científica, abre un amplio campo de intereses en conflicto en la región evidenciando, por lo menos, dos proyectos en choque: la afirmación de la soberanía como base para el desarrollo nacional e integración regional y la reorganización de los intereses hegemónicos de Estados Unidos en el continente”.

El reacomodo de EEUU en Sudamérica se produce ahora afianzando su “Área de Seguridad Energética”, ahora proyectándose hacia el atlántico venezolano, pues las aguas en las que Exxon realiza labores han sido decretadas como áreas de Defensa Integral Marítima Atlántica de Venezuela, según decreto publicado el pasado 27 de mayo, emitido por el Gobierno venezolano como respuesta equivalente a la disposición de Guyana de aprovechar recursos en disputa.

Pero la complejidad de esta situación comprende también las particularidades de Exxon Mobil en su abordaje y posicionamiento financiero, logístico, tecnológico y operacional en las aguas venezolanas violentadas. Exxon es una transnacional mundialmente conocida por operar en territorios ocupados, en disputa o en guerra civil. Mientras en Irak, Saddam Hussein era perseguido para ser capturado y ejecutado, Exxon ya colocaba sus activos para desarrollar operaciones de la mano de Halliburton. En Libia son acusados de prestar apoyo operacional y mantener colaboración con mercenarios que hoy controlan las instalaciones petroleras de dicho país. Las denuncias son incontables.

Exxon suele realizar operaciones acompañándose de un “componente de seguridad”. Un eufemismo para lo que es poner en el terreno a fuerzas mercenarias paramilitares. Esto apunta a la enorme posibilidad de la colocación de fuerzas paramilitares extraterritoriales en las aguas venezolanas ocupadas y en los puntos de apoyo en tierra.

Por otro lado, como suele pasar en los acuerdos macropetroleros que EEUU realiza con los países poseedores del crudo, casi toda explotación de cuencas vírgenes (como es el caso de las aguas del Esequibo) implica la expansión y prolongación de las áreas de explotación. Esto infiere la posibilidad del desarrollo de nuevas áreas de exploración y posterior explotación en tierra firme en un corto plazo, vale decir, en las áreas de tierra firme de la zona en reclamación. Si Exxon amplía sus capacidades logísticas en el terreno, así lo hará su componente de seguridad, lo cual constituiría de hecho la abierta ocupación paramilitar norteamericana del Esequibo.

Casi todos los acuerdos petroleros desarrollados por EEUU traen consigo el componente militar. Es decir, estamos ante la probabilidad no sólo de la ocupación paramilitar y transnacionalización del Esequibo, sino también de su ocupación por fuerzas convencionales norteamericanas.

La política estratégica de seguridad norteamericana prevista en su “National Estrategic Security Plan 2012″ supone la “protección” y “aseguramiento” de los activos de EEUU a escala intercontinental. El mencionado plan consiste en un manual a ejecutarse a nivel global, que señala la atribución de EEUU de actuar en favor de la protección de los bienes y personas públicos y privados estadounidenses en todo el mundo contra cualquier amenaza declarada o súbita. Bajo esta legislación EEUU actúa violando aguas territoriales en todo el mundo. Así actúan en el Cuerno de África contra la piratería somalí, con el frecuente empleo de la fuerza si uno de sus activos se ve comprometido.

Dicho de otra manera: si Venezuela vuelve a detener alguna embarcación gringa en nuestra Área de Seguridad Integral Marítima Atlántica que pretenda extraer recursos, la armada norteamericana se asume legalmente facultada para actuar con el uso de la fuerza. Y he ahí la cuestión de fondo: un escenario bélico es más probable con el propio EEUU que con la misma Guyana, la cual carece por sí sola de ciertos activos militares para ocupar y asegurar palmo a palmo las aguas en disputa.

Otra cuestión a considerar es la probable expansión de las áreas de aprovechamiento ilícito de los recursos del Esequibo, hasta las cercanías del río Esequibo, la línea de demarcación natural fundamental que delimita los territorios en disputa. Es muy probable que esto suceda con la colocación del componente paramilitar y con la colocación de elementos de las fuerzas regulares norteamericanas, léase bien, con bases militares a tres minutos de vuelo hasta Ciudad Bolívar y a 20 minutos hasta Caracas. Nos referimos al escenario de flanquear a Venezuela por el Atlántico y por el oriente venezolano, con el empleo de nuestro Esequibo como portaviones y base de operaciones con proyección a las áreas de aseguramiento energético venezolano, como la Faja Petrolífera del Orinoco.

En un preámbulo belicista de ocupación y usurpación de nuestros territorios, en Venezuela asumimos tomar las armas de la política, la razón y la historia a cuestas. Pero la situación está cambiando, nos quieren hacer “pisar el peine” de la guerra. También otra cosa es cierta: no son estos tiempos aquellos en los que Andrés Eloy Blanco señaló que habíamos perdido una quinta parte de nuestro territorio “sin disparar un solo tiro”.

Venezuela vs Guyana: la guerra por el Esequibo

El reciente planteamiento estratégico marítimo venezolano sobre la fachada atlántica del Esequibo supone, sin dudas, una audaz jugada en el tablero de ajedrez territorial. ¿Ante qué estamos?

Por Franco Vielma

Este tema, que aún no tiene el debido posicionamiento en el espectro de la opinión pública venezolana, trae consigo pronunciados bemoles en lo político y en la cuestión de la soberanía venezolana, basada ésta en su reivindicación histórica sobre el Esequibo o la Guayana Esequiba. Necesario es conocer los antecedentes fundamentales en esta importante cuestión geopolítica y territorial de Venezuela y luego reseñar otras cuestiones de fondo.

Algunos antecedentes a saber

  • Durante más de 100 años, Venezuela ha denominado “Zona en reclamación” a una enorme porción territorial de 159.500 Km2, repleta de inestimables recursos minerales y de posición marítima geoestratégica, que es hoy considerada en la República Cooperativa de Guyana como el 70% de su territorio. Guyana sostiene que un tribunal laudó el litigio en su favor en 1899, en concreta referencia al afamado Laudo Arbitral de París, que despojó a Venezuela del Esequibo. En aquel momento el fallo se realizó a favor de Reino Unido, el imperio de la época, por presiones y procedimientos injustos contra Venezuela. El Reino Unido era el propietario en aquel momento de la otrora “Guyana Británica”.
  • Venezuela denuncia tal decisión ante la ONU pero en 1962 obtiene avances concretos consignando documentos que prueban que la decisión de 1899 contenía vicios de nulidad. Este evento conllevó a la firma del denominado Acuerdo de Ginebra, el 17 de febrero de 1967, entre ambas partes más la presencia del gobierno local de Guyana Británica, próxima a recibir la independencia, momento en el cual sustituiría a Reino Unido en la cuestión del diferendo territorial con Venezuela.
  • Actualmente el diferendo territorial está en manos del Secretario General de las Naciones Unidas en el marco del Acuerdo de Ginebra. Este litigio sólo incluye a Venezuela como parte demandante y a la República Cooperativa de Guyana, excluyéndose de éste al responsable, Reino Unido, el cual tiene una demostrada estela de inconsistencias territoriales y despojos en su largo historial de colonialismo y robo de tierras en todo el mundo.
  • De acuerdo al Decreto 1.787 de fecha 26 de mayo de 2015, promulgado por el presidente Nicolás Maduro Moros en Consejo de Ministros y publicado en la Gaceta Oficial Ordinaria 40.669 de fecha 27 de mayo de 2015, se crean y activan las Zonas de Defensa Integral Marítimas e Insulares (Zodimain); ahora lo que se conoce como la “Fachada Atlántica de Venezuela” pasa a ser definida por la Zodimain Atlántica, dejando ahora a la República Cooperativa de Guyana sin salida al Atlántico.
  • Venezuela articula una estrategia audaz al replantear sus Zonas de Defensa Integral Marítimas, luego de darse a conocer la noticia de que en lo que serían las aguas del Esequibo venezolano, hoy la empresa Exxon Mobil realiza exploraciones petroleras con permiso del Gobierno guyanés, encontrándose una inestimable (hasta ahora) cantidad de recursos de hidrocarburos. Esto no es enteramente nuevo. En 2013, la Marina de guerra venezolana retuvo brevemente al buque de investigación sísmica Teknik Perdana, que había sido contratado por la petrolera con base en Texas Anadarko Petroleum, para examinar el fondo del mar de la zona.
  • El Gobierno de la República de Venezuela respondió a los múltiples abusos cometidos por la República Cooperativa de Guyana con la promulgación y puesta en vigencia del Decreto 1.787 de fecha 26 de mayo de 2015, en donde ahora los guyaneses, que han venido pretendiendo bloquear la salida por el Atlántico a Venezuela, son ellos quienes se verán sometidos bajo la Zodimain Atlántica y sin salida directa al Atlántico, tomando en cuenta el Laudo Arbitral entre Guyana y Suriname del 17 de septiembre de 2007 (donde Suriname le cerraría la salida al Atlántico por el Este a Guyana).
  • El Gobierno guyanés ha respondido hasta el momento con la suspensión de los vuelos de la estatal venezolana Conviasa hasta Georgetown (capital de Guyana). También con el anuncio de llamar al embajador venezolano para que diera una explicación sobre el Decreto. “Estaremos llamando al embajador (de Venezuela) para explicar qué significa (el decreto sobre los límites marítimos) y para expresar nuestra preocupación por esta escalada en un intento de larga duración para lograr por medios cuestionables lo que Venezuela no ha podido lograr con estrategias diplomáticas y legales internacionalmente aceptadas”, declaró a la AFP, sin precisar la fecha de la convocatoria.
  • La cancillería de Guyana anunció que ese país continuará -“sin inmutarse”- desarrollando el aprovechamiento de recursos y llevando adelante la exploración y probable explotación petrolera en las aguas en disputa. También señalaron que “Cualquier intento de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela de aplicar ese instrumento de modo extra-territorial será vigorosamente resistido por la República Cooperativa de Guyana”, en una clara alusión al uso probable de la fuerza de encontrar embarcaciones venezolanas haciendo respetar la Zona de Defensa Marítima e Insular Atlántica.

Cuestiones políticas de fondo

Venezuela asume la facultad de navegar lo que la mayoría de los venezolanos hemos considerado durante más de 100 años nuestra fachada atlántica del Esequibo, nuestras aguas territoriales que nos fueron despojadas en 1899 por la acción del imperio de la época y por el entreguismo cuartorrepublicano que, durante décadas, mantuvo desactivados todos los instrumentos del derecho internacional para reestablecer la integridad territorial de Venezuela.

Sólo en momentos intermitentes, el Gobierno venezolano asumió consistentemente el abordaje del Esequibo, quedando luego dilatadas las decisiones de asumir esa negociación, viéndose nuestros gobiernos lacayos silenciados y sometidos por órdenes de los amos del poder en el norte. He ahí que luego del Acuerdo de Ginebra en la materia en 1967, poco se ha hecho en el abordaje concreto de tan importante diferendo.

Desde la llegada de la Revolución Bolivariana los gobiernos de Guyana y Venezuela en años recientes han dispuesto utilizar los buenos oficios, descongelando así la situación de estancamiento que había desde 1967, es decir, desde casi toda la época del puntofijismo. Esta relación tuvo un giro político gracias a Chávez, quien instrumentó las armas de la política dejando de lado aquellas propias de los regímenes belicistas.

En 2010 ambos países asumieron la figura del “Buen Oficiante”, cuya labor consiste en asumir las funciones de mediador y aproximar a ambos gobiernos para que éstos den con una solución satisfactoria para las partes. El último “Buen Oficiante” fue el jamaicano Norman Girvan, propuesto por ambos gobiernos en 2010 y aceptado por el Secretario General de la ONU, pero Girvan falleció en abril de 2014 y hasta la fecha no se ha nombrado a uno nuevo. En palabras del mandatario guyanés en 2010, Bharrat Jagdeo, las relaciones dan un giro gracias a la “amplitud de mente” de Chávez, señalando: “Hemos podido colocar nuestras relaciones más allá de los problemas fronterizos para trabajar en áreas vitales para el desarrollo de ambos países”.

Quizás posponiendo la pugna territorial para aspirar a intereses supraterritoriales mucho mayores, inspirados en lo político y en la necesidad de la integración sudamericana expresada en la Unasur y en la Celac, Venezuela no aborda militarmente el tema del Esequibo, agotando todas las instancias políticas y todos los ámbitos de diálogo. Pero la situación ha cambiado.

El Gobierno de Guyana, luego de advertencias, asume transnacionalizar la franja marítima que los venezolanos reclamamos colocándola en manos de la empresa petrolera norteamericana más grande del mundo, Exxon Mobil, la cual asume todas sus capacidades logísticas para posicionarse sobre una franja de incontables recursos.

Este giro político por parte de Guyana se debe al ascenso al poder de un régimen de corte militarista liderado por David Arthur Granger, un General retirado, líder de la derecha de Guyana, formado en Reino Unido y con cursos especiales en Estados Unidos, destacándose entre ellos los que realizara en la National Defense University, de Washington DC y otros asociados al terrorismo, en la Universidad de Florida.

La República Cooperativa de Guyana, una república que nace con tendencia política de centroizquierda, se deslindó de todo proceso internacionalista de corte progresista en era reciente dada la disputa histórica con Venezuela, pero también a la derechización de su orden político, el cual sigue manteniendo los vestigios históricos del coloniaje y su inercia política con la Commonwealth (Comunidad Británica de naciones). Pese a formar parte de la Unasur, creación de Venezuela, Guyana, casi recibiendo órdenes superiores, ha mantenido la espalda a Venezuela de manera perenne.

¿Ante qué estamos?

Muchos indicios indican que Venezuela está actuando de manera proporcionada a las acciones de Guyana, dado que dicho país está colocando activos para el aprovechamiento de recursos naturales en una zona declarada en disputa y cuyas negociaciones se encuentran estancadas. Algo que podría considerarse similar al caso de las Malvinas y que es una referencia en el derecho internacional.

Al asumir que la fachada atlántica del Esequibo es un área de Defensa Integral Marítima para Venezuela, no sólo se asume la proyección estratégica de Venezuela al Atlántico (la cual ha estado parcialmente bloqueada), sino que se genera al mismo tiempo una ruptura a la distensión política que ha existido en las últimas décadas, dadas las acciones de Guyana. Esto obliga a los dos países, ahora sí, a sentarse y definir una ruta de acuerdos.

Exxon Mobil tiene un historial largo de explotación de recursos en zonas ocupadas, también de mercenarización de los territorios para asumir hegemonías territoriales. El poder transnacional de la Exxon es también de carácter militarista, y Blackwater -ahora Academi-, la corporación mercenaria más grande del mundo, es su brazo paramilitar. Entender la movida de Venezuela implica proyectarnos más allá de la cuestión del Esequibo como diferendo territorial.

Si consideramos al Esequibo como venezolano, debemos considerarlo también una zona ocupada, una parte integral del territorio venezolano bajo control militar extranjero, bajo control político de un Gobierno de derecha, y ahora bajo explotación de una transnacional militarista. La nueva etapa en la ocupación del Esequibo da cuenta de que la mercenarización y ocupación de una fuerza extraterritorial en las aguas y probablemente en el suelo Esequibo venezolano es una realidad probable, y un escenario que obliga a Venezuela a hacer un replanteamiento estratégico, como sucede justo ahora.

Venezuela no es un país militarista y expansionista, pero sí soberanista. Nuestras fuerzas militares no tienen el perfil de ser unas fuerzas de ocupación, pero sí de protección integral de nuestro suelo. He ahí que el diálogo y los instrumentos de la política han sido la prioridad para el abordaje del Esequibo, para evitar con esto detonar una guerra fratricida territorial en pleno siglo XXI. Pero la situación está cambiando. Y la responsabilidad no recae en Venezuela.

Se trata ahora de proteger la integridad territorial venezolana, inhibiendo el desarrollo de “cabezas de playa” por la franja atlántica y por el Esequibo territorial. Se trata de contener el posible preámbulo de una mercenarización de nuestra “Zona en Reclamación” y de la entrada de una potencia paramilitar transnacional extraterritorial para el aprovechamiento de recursos en disputa. Se trata ahora de contener un conato de confrontación por órdenes a Guyana, provenientes de factores hegemónicos superiores.

Los enemigos de la integración y del peso político de Venezuela en la región quieren, entre las naciones del sur, una pelea de perros. Pero en Venezuela contamos con las armas de la política, la historia y la razón.

Venezuela and Guyana Defining Territorial Boundaries Peacefully
The Truth About Halliburton in Venezuela

Xenophobia in Dominican Republic

Interview on the Global African

Bill Fletcher, host of teleSUR’s The Global African, interviews social rights attorney Elizi Danto, scholar of the African diaspora Dr. Msomi Moor, and member on the board of the Institute of Policy Studies, James Early.

Below, we publish the transcript of an interview from The Global African.

BILL FLETCHER, HOST, THE GLOBAL AFRICAN: We’re now joined by three guests. And we have Ezili Danto, who holds a BA from Boston College and a JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She’s an award-winning playwright, a performance poet, a political and social commentator, an author, and a well-known human rights attorney. Being from Haiti, she is a catalyst for Haitian activism and human rights. Also joining us is Dr. Msomi Moor, who teaches at the University of the District of Columbia. He is a Howard University-educated scholar of the African Diaspora, and he has been researching black history or teaching in North American and South American historically black colleges and universities for over two decades. Last, but not least, we have James Early. James is an African Caribbean and Latin American histories scholar and member of the board of the Institute for Policy Studies. Thank you all very much for joining us on The Global African.

JAMES EARLY: Thank you.

DR. MSOMI MOOR: Thank you.

EZILI DANTO: Thank you.

FLETCHER: I want to start by looking at the situation in the Dominican Republic and by trying to contextualize it historically. And, Dr. Moore, I actually want to start with you. In terms of understanding white supremacy and race as a whole in the Dominican Republic, what is it that we need to understand about Dominican history in order to understand what we’re seeing now?

MOOR: So the Dominican Republic is a fascinating example of how the casta system worked in the Iberian countries. It’s early. It’s the earliest. And so blacks who were subjected to that casta system–that whole status and privilege based on skin complexion, heritage, is at its most profound, many would say, in the Dominican Republic. It’s definitely at its most intense earlier on. And if you look at the different levels of mixtures, some of them, they’re not permitted to go to school with whites. They have different punishments for touching whites as opposed to touching those who are two or three grades down in the mixtures. And you see it in the religion. You see it in the civil society. And you even see it just in general amongst all Dominicans at that time, if you want to call it a Dominican society. So 17th century and 16th century Dominican history is replete with the leveling off of different complexions, colors. And I think one of the most recognizable in the Dominican Republic features of this system is that good hair, bad hair situation. That’s actually a casta, and it’s called grifo, okay? Grifo means that you are an offspring of some type of African with a native, as it were. And if your hair is a little bit more tightly curled, then you’ll be given this casta name, grifo. And so, from early on you can see just the intensity of the castas system being meted out on the black population and native population of the DR. And it just continues on.

FLETCHER: Ezili, so how did that translate into the contradictions between the DR and Haiti?

DANTO: Haiti was the first nation in the Western Hemisphere to gain its independence, the only enslaved population to get rid of their masters and create an independent country. Haiti is the country that after, let’s say, almost 1,200 years of Arab conquest in the African continent and 300 years of slavery, we became free. And we were the first Africans to go back in so many ways to the African native authentic spirituality, language. And there’s things that we say at the Haitian Lawyers Leadership, because our education is being Europeanized or whitened so that folks don’t recognize themselves in Haitian history. But essentially the three notable ideals of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti’s founder, that we’re always teaching at the Haitian Lawyers Leadership is this, and it’s in contradiction to the whitening of Latin America after the abolishment of slavery in Haiti: we are a country that says all Haitians, no matter what African tribes they came from, and even those who–those Europeans who fought on the side of the liberators of Haiti, all shall be known by the appellation black. The other important thing to remember about Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti’s founding father, is that he was the first to take back the name of the indigenous island and say it’s going to be the island of Haiti, not Hispaniola. We are the liberators of this island, and so Haiti is the name that we’ve taken, we Africans, the Africans who are descendents of the amalgamated tribes that came to Haiti. And then the third, which is critically important, which puts us as permanent war in this hostile American Mediterranean is that Jean-Jacques Dessalines is the first warrior to say–well, not the very first warrior; obviously there were a lot of maroon rebellions in the Western Hemisphere, but the first to say, this will be a black independent country; it will not be a black French or European colony. And to this day, as we fight 11 years of U.S. occupation behind UN guns and NGO humanitarian imperialism, we, the descendents of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, stand and say, we are struggling to get rid of our occupiers so we will be a black, independent nation, something that all the African countries today–well, not all the–are sort of like the Toussaint Louverture paradigm, which is a black ruling on behalf of empire. But that’s not what Haiti stands for. So that is in diametric–is opposed to all of the other Caribbean nations who have some sort of European father or Latin America, who after slavery basically had policies, immigration policies of bringing in Europeans to whiten the nation. And it brings us to the crisis now of the Dominican Republic, which wants to whiten their nation by throwing out the Dominicans, the Haitian Dominicans.

FLETCHER: So that’s what I want to–that’s what I want to ask you about quickly, and then I want to turn to James. The 2013 Dominican Constitutional Court decision, can you explain what that was about and where that came from and what was being laid out?

DANTO: Yes. Historically, Haitians have not been allowed to have citizenship in the Dominican Republic, especially if they’re very dark Haitians, because of all of the things we just talked about and your guest mentioned at the beginning. For–since–well, anyways, my whole entire life, all Haitians who have gone to the Dominican Republic fleeing imperialistic policies of the Cold War or fleeing American unfair trade and bringing in dictatorship and so forth, as we flee, the Dominicans had a law, basically, since 1929. Their law was that if you were born in the Dominican Republic, you were, no matter what the status of your parents, you were–automatically got citizenship, just like in America. But that was not really ever applied to Haitians. So in 2005, there was a case where two children of Haitian immigrants applied–tried to go to school. And this is what you have to understand. When you’re denied citizenship, your children can’t go to school. You can’t be afforded public services, legal status to the courts, all sorts of things, education, schooling, welfare and health. So this–I will just go back to 2005. I won’t go back to 1937 or anything. But in terms of 2005, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights basically said to the Dominican Republic, you need to let these two children–this was a case, one case–you need to let these children go to school and give them the citizenship, because there is a policy in the Dominican Republic not–when someone is born and they’re born of Haitian parents, they’re not given birth certificates. And those that are given birth certificates, if you go to get a passport, sometimes they’ll take those birth certificates from you and so forth. So now, as you know, without birth certificates, without passports, you can’t travel. You can’t even use a cell phone, can’t even buy a cell phone. So that’s what’s going on at the moment. So, in order not to have Haitians have citizenship rights, in order to not–to disregard the ruling of the Inter-American Human Rights Court, which basically says, you know, if they’re born in Dominican Republic, and then–you know, you should give them their birth certificates and their citizenship rights, the Dominican Republic began repealing its laws. In 2010, it amended its constitution to say that if you are–you have citizenship only if you are born of legal parents or if you are born of one Dominican parent. And then, in 2013, that law was extended retroactively to say that all persons born of parents who were in transit are now illegal. So Haitian, Dominicans of Haitian ancestry who came in to the Dominican Republic going back till 1929 are put into the same category, no matter that they’ve been there for 80 years, no matter that they have contributed to the economy for 80 years, they are put into the same category as newly arrived Haitians that are illegal there, in the same category as Haitians that have legal residence in there, in the Dominican Republic, and Dominicans that have Haitian ancestry are–all summarily have to prove that they are citizens, that they’ve got their papers. So they created a two-tier system. The first one was–the deadline for it was finished on February 1, 2015. And that system for regularizing all this category I just told you about was for citizens. So those who said that they were born in the Dominican Republic and had citizenship before the 2010 law amendment, they were supposed to go by February 2015 and bring in their papers. Less than 5,000 people out of hundreds of thousands were given–met that registration requirement. And just recently, on the 17th, there was a different registration requirement for those who are illegal or legal residents, not who are. And from that registration procedure, the Dominican Republic is giving out different figures, mixed figures. They basically said 500,000 people are eligible for this legalizing of their status as illegal immigrants or as legal residents, and that out of this 500,000, they said that only 10,000 registered, only 300 actually got their paperwork. So now we’re in a situation that anyone else out of this group of people of Haitian descent who are living in the Dominican Republic who did not get to register–and I said on both of those two-tier system for regularizing it, a tiny percentage of people actually finished the process of registration, some for various reasons, because they couldn’t get birth certificates, passports, or the employers, who were not paying Haitian workers much and who don’t want to pay taxes, would not give them their working papers. So you have a situation at the moment where there are, let’s say, between 200 and–half a million to a quarter of a million of people who are subject to immediate deportation.

FLETCHER: Thank you. I really appreciate the way you put that all together, because in reading a lot of the mainstream media, it just sometimes is a bit mystifying. James, the politics of this, the Dominican Republic is not known for having had progressive political leadership over the years. And so what’s the politics of this?

EARLY: Well, actually, the politics–just two quick references–go back to the history, one with the castas system. Many people of our complexion who obviously are descendents of enslaved Africans in this part of the world and the Dominican Republic [incompr.] I’m not black; I’m Indian. So this gets to the politics of pigmentocracy and the ideological factor of distancing oneself, which still goes on in the contemporary era. The other issue with regard to the historical evolution of politics is Haiti being the first Republic of enslaved people to break away in 1804, in 1805, Dessalines goes in to the Dominican Republic to break slavery, to break the organizational form of white supremacy, takes land from Euro Latins who were the underpinning of this. So the hatred of these people for their moral perspectives about democracy and the fact that they came from the underclass based on their skin color goes very, very deep. So the contemporary politics not only have to do with the question of 275,000 people, more or less, who did not come forth out of this half a million who are standing in limbo–and one can imagine the trauma of that, being marked as a Jew trying to move in the evening to find groceries and saying, oh, there goes a Jew by physical features; oh, there goes a dark-skinned person by way of physical features. It is just almost unimaginable for us to see that these people are truly in dangerous limbo at this moment. The politics fundamentally, though, have to go beyond the issue of citizenship. Haitians have been exported to the Dominican Republic for the sugar industry, which the United States has implicated in, starting in the 20th century, 1915, 1914, and bringing Trujillo, the massacre of 1937, the cultural question, when dark-skinned people, if they could not pronounce the world “perejil”–”parsley”–because they couldn’t roll the “r”, then they were subject to being massacred. Some people think up to 10,000 people may have been killed during that moment. So even if they were to get citizenship, they’re impoverished. You’ve got Martelly, the president of Haiti, saying, we will welcome our sons and our daughters back. Back to what? To Bill Clinton’s plantation. This is very important for U.S. citizens to recall, that the earthquake industry, the so-called reparation industry, is run by Bill Clinton. Obama has turned that over to him. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. So people are going to be fleeing for economic reasons the same way that people are coming out of South America into Mexico, Mexico now deporting more people than any place in the hemisphere, 90,000 between February and April going back to the South of Mexico. These are economic flights. And so Haiti is caught up both in the issue of having to survive economically, everyday Haitians, as well as the question of deep-seated racism and a whitening of Haiti. So what are the political implications? The CARICOM countries, the new community of Latin American and Caribbean nations, the prime minister of St. Lucia, Gonsalves, has raised hell about this and put this in the context of the regional politics, saying the Dominican Republic cannot advance as a fuller member within that context without addressing this question. We’ve got to put pressure on the other progressives in the region. Brazil, 90 million black people are over 50 percent of that population, the largest population in the hemisphere. We’ve got to get to civil society to petition their government, who is also running the UN military operation in Haiti. We’ve got to talk to Maduro in Venezuela. After all, it’s Haiti who provides men and boats to Bolívar, for the first country to defeat Spain in the hemisphere is Venezuela under Bolívar. It was the Haitians who defeated the French. We’ve got to talk to our Dominican brothers and sisters who are–the Dominicans are the largest Spanish-speaking population in New York City, not Puerto Ricans. Dominicans occupy significant positions in the state legislature. They are already trying to get some declarations passed. We’ve got to organize with them vis-à-vis the U.S. State Department to put some pressure on the Dominican Republic. But ultimately the politics is we’ve got a desperate situation in Haiti that has gone on for hundreds of years, where people flee for economic reasons. And until that is adjusted, even the issue of citizenship, as important as it is as a formal step, does not address the fundamental issue that people have to flee from their natural habitat, if you well, into a foreign place, even when they are citizens and run this risk of discrimination both economically and from the vantage point of racism.

FLETCHER: Dr. Moor, this is a historical question, but it’s something that’s plagued me. Each of you have at one point mentioned the Haitian effort to liberate the Dominican Republic in 1800s. And the Dominican republic defines its independence as independence from Haiti, as opposed to Spain.

MOOR: That’s right.

FLETCHER: The question I had, since that seems to be a major point of reference for reactionaries within the Dominican Republic, why did that fail? Why did the liberation of the D.R. fail?

MOOR: I think what needs to be highlighted in this whole sequence of current events in the DR related to your question is the precedent of pigmentocracy is a great way to say–you know, Brother Early said it. Think about this. If you are darker in the Dominican Republic in the 17th and 16th centuries, you weren’t even allowed to go to school. They put you on a field. And I’m talking about if your son, if you are–I’m going to go through some casta terms here–if you are mulato, your son would have been a terceron. Your grandson would’ve been considered a cuarteron. Okay, we’re going by generations here. So the cuarteron and terceron would have had all types of privileges that their father and grandfather would not have had. In addition to that, if anyone came from somewhere else–you mentioned the individuals who came for sugarcane cultivation. That’s where the whole phenomenon of cocolo comes from in the Dominican Republic is because they were English-speaking blacks who came in and were darker-skinned than the perceived notion of what the people who called themselves indios were. And so they were then relegated to an inferior citizenship in the D.R. The present case, I think, is just an extension of what’s been already going on for centuries. And I mentioned that I think it has been even more intense in the D.R. than it is in other places because of the lack of intensity during slavery. Black people had–if I can say this–and I’m worried about this because of my ancestors, but it wasn’t as intense as it was in Haiti. And so, if you have these individuals who were from the most intensive, from, like, Haitian situation, I think it was three years that you were worked to death once you get off of the boat in Haiti versus somebody who’s rearing cattle, you know, and semi free, or autonomous, almost, in the Dominican Republic, you don’t want that imposed on you. And so what was at play was this European ideal that we don’t want to be black anyways. We want to raise up the pigmentocracy, the castas system. We’re semi-autonomous. We have a much free lifestyle than what they have over there, much more free. And then, in addition to that, you had the multiple incursions of Haitians that were coming over. It wasn’t just in 1805. You know, Boyer came over in 1822. So there’s several incursions from Haiti into the DR. So you have this kind of lurking Haitian menace over here. You have the attempting intense desire to be European. And then you have this centuries-old system of privileges that says if you’re lighter or more European, even, acting, then you’ll be better off in society. So in 1844 they said, yeah, we don’t want to be–I think it was called the Trinitaria is what it was, right, those three individuals in Santo Domingo, the three different parts of what was going on for the revolution. And during that whole period, you would have some Dominicans actually reapplying for slavery. So by the time 1860 comes around–this is where the geopolitical piece comes in–the United States–I think it was 1861–the Queen of England says, we’re going to re-enslave the Dominicans. So it’s like they’ve been–I don’t want to say clueless, but they’ve just been clobbered for the longest time, the Dominican blacks. And it’s still like that today. If you’ve been worn down for that many centuries and everybody’s coming at you from every side, you want to be white, but you’re black, and then other blacks come and want to, you know, put a more intense system on you possibly, you believe, where do you run to? Right?

EARLY: And white privilege, I mean, we have to recall that the economic system that is set up in the Western Hemisphere is set up by European capital and black enslaved labor. So this is–the rationalization of skin color discrimination has to do with superexploitation of material gain. And then the cultural point takes on a life of its own. I am better than you even if I am poorer than you, or even if I’m less educated than you. So when Dessalines goes in to break slavery in the whole of the island, he’s up against Euro Latins in the case of the Spanish and Euro French, as well as any emerging petty bourgeois interest among black people who see, again, more. And then the U.S. comes in with the sugar industry. So this is–and Haiti has suffered–Haiti is also, at the same time, under, what, 150 million francs, I think dropped later to 60 million. So the economic issue is exploiting this and what some would call the cultural or the superstructural issue of identity, superiority, combined with that. And Haiti finds itself in that same situation today, this great history of independence and values beyond the French Revolution. I mean, they were the one who brought égalité and all of that to the highest order. But they paid a heavy price, and are still paying the price, basically a humanitarian colony of the United States of America, again, Bill Clinton’s foundation running all of that, all those millions of dollars that have gone into Haiti. And Haitians are still living in tents and still cooking out on the ground and still fleeing, as are Dominicans, dark-skinned Dominican–I mean, there’s a reason that Dominicans have become the largest Spanish-speaking population in New York City, where historically that has been Puerto Ricans. You look in the Washington metropolitan area in the last decade, you’re seeing more and more people who look like the people on this panel who [incompr.] where are you from? I’m from the DR. You see these salons, these hair salons, Dominican.

MOOR: Oh, yeah.

EARLY: There’s a particularity about treating hair and whatnot. So until we get at the economic situation tied to the formality of the rights and obligations of citizens, we will have a [hollow ground (?)], and where even if a great number of those Dominicans are able to register–and that is a most outstanding question, given that bureaucracy and given the deceitfulness that’s going on, as our sister described, about the registration process, it is still going to be the most vulnerable national population in our hemisphere in terms of where black people are dominant in numbers, which is Haiti and its cultural tie to the Dominican Republic.

FLETCHER: Ezili, what’s been the response of the Haitian government to the crisis in the DR? What can be expected as next steps, if anything?

DANTO: Yeah. I’d also like, if possible, to speak a little bit about the history of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, because I think that one of the reasons that we are constantly in this position of “Haiti invaded the Dominican Republic” is something–it’s a propaganda that keeps a lot of Dominicans from knowing their real history. But let me get to your question first. And I think it’s critically important that I just intervene a little bit with regards to the history, because in the name of Dessalines and the warriors of Haiti, I think it’s important, since, you know, Haitians don’t normally get a platform. We are under occupation. We’ve been under occupation since 2004, when the United States took down Haiti’s democratically elected government. We are struggling to get rid of that occupation. Obama brought a solidified dictatorship with Michel Martelly, who’s ruling without parliament right now. They brought back neo-Duvalier dictatorship, sort of [newer (?)] Duvaliers are back. What do those people stand for? Well, just like Medina in the Dominican Republic, who’s a clientele state of the United States, they represent foreign interests, and they want to use the assets of the nation for foreign corporate interests belonging to the Bushes and the Clintons. And that’s really what they’re doing with respect to what they’re doing with–to take in the various Haitians that are being denationalized. The government has announced that they have put together some processing centers. I know yesterday we got those that have been deported already–the deportations have been going on steadily. Steadily. This is nothing new for us. This is going back for a long, long time. Like, in two thousand and–I don’t know what it was–1995, the Dominican Republic, for various reasons, you know, whenever–in their own politics, if they don’t–you know, they want a particular vote, they’ll just deport. And I think I remember in 1995 they deported, like, 20,000 people.We are the Haitians. We will do what’s necessary. If some of these 300,000 Europeans that are in Haiti right now masturbating on black pain would leave, we could have space for our own brothers and sisters. But let me go back to this history here. I think it’s critically important to understand this. From our perspective, as the descendents of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, when the amalgamated tribes won their independence from the French, the Spanish, and the English, and then the French again, that entire island, the island, Haiti, was freed. During the Haitian revolution, which started in 1791 by Toussaint Louverture came together with the Spanish and fought on behalf of the Spanish, and in 1791, by the Treaty of Basel, B-A-S-E, France ceded the entire island–excuse me. I’m sorry. Spain ceded that eastern part of the island to Spain, right? I’m sorry. Yes. So that whole entire island was French. And when we won our independence in 1804, the entire island was Haiti, and it was liberated. Yes, there was a French general by the name Ferrand, F-E-R-R-A-N-D, who refused to hear his own superiors, Rochambeau [spl?], and give up Santo Domingo. And as your distinguished guest said, in 1805, Dessalines went out there. We did not want slavery. By the time came Boyer came into power, they had reunited that whole entire island. There was no Dominican Republic. There was various factions, /peɪtʃoʊ/, Christophe [spl?], and so forth because colonialism had come in and the mulatto sons of France had conspired to murder Jean-Jacques Dessalines and the dream of the Haitian revolutions. But here is where the situation comes to a head with regards to the eastern side of Haiti. In 1842, we have a big earthquake in the same kind of way that we have a earthquake in January 12, 2010. That earthquake destabilized the whole entire country. And the separatist movement gained momentum. Now, you remember, the whole time–Haiti declares its independence in 1804–all the European powers, because of white supremacy, came together after 1804, and their primary goal, whether it was the United States, France, Canada, all of them, was to figure out how to get rid of the march of the blacks in the world, as Napoleon says. And so France came back. And Boyer, the president of Haiti at that time, agreed in order not to go back into slavery, not to have to constantly be on guard with respect to that, our independence, that he would pay the independence debt. The independence debt was–by 2004 it was estimated at 21 billion. It took Haiti 122 years to pay that, from 19–whatever–25 to 1947, give or take some negotiations there. But essentially, essentially the eastern side of the island did not feel they had to pay that independence debt, because they were not French, they felt they were Spanish citizens, and there was a separatist movement that was going on, had been going on, and they were calling themself Little Spain. At that point in time, that’s when Boyer went and squashed that. They call it we invading. We can’t invade ourself. It was our country. So we can’t invade. And I just want to point out that the borders, even after–so in 1844, doing this–this is what’s happening to us right now, okay? We’re having all these destabilization with Governor Clinton coming in, being the colonial governor of Haiti, and, like I said, masturbating on black pain, and collecting $10 billion, and leaving the people in mud, and taking lands, and having Hillary Clinton’s brother have access to our gold, and so forth. But in that era of 1844, when Duarte in the separatist movement on the east side of the island, with the help of mercenaries from Spain and France and all of the other European tribes, declared that part to be Little Spain, immediately, immediately in 1844, before they even got together to decide what they wanted, the European powers, including the United States, recognized–now, this is 1844. We’re not recognized yet. Haiti is not recognized until 1865. They recognize this as a new island. And Haiti’s dealing with earthquake. It’s dealing with all of these–you know, the independence debt and the dissatisfaction that that brought all over, Haiti because they wanted to get rid of Boyer. It’s like, you know, we’ve already fought a war; we’re not going to pay this debt. So, because of all that chaos and the immediate recognition of this island as Little Haiti–. Now, the borders–this is all Africans living here.

FLETCHER: Ezili, I’m going to have to–I’m going to have to–unfortunately–.

DANTO: Oh. Okay. So the borders were very fluid. It wasn’t–there was not a border with regards to Dominican Republic until 1929, when the United States was occupying both countries. And what they did was take the borders from the 1697 Ryswick Treaty, when two-thirds of the island belonged to Spain and one-third belonged to France, they went back to that. And it was the United States that did that. And we think right now we’re in the position where they’re doing that right now with regards to this denationalization and coming into Haitian territory and putting these processing centers in Haitian territory just like the garment factories to just continue to push Haiti to the sea.

FLETCHER: So a final question to you each. What’s the global reaction right now? In 2013, when the Constitutional Court decision came down, there was a tremendous outpour or uproar. But as of this week, I mean, it’s only this week that I’ve seen any attention in the mainstream media. So how do you all look at the global response, and what, if anything, can be done? Let’s start with you, James.

EARLY: Unfortunately, I think it’s very feeble. As I pointed out, the prime minister of St. Lucia going back well over a year ago now has been on the case about this. So that is a point to rally within the CARICOM countries, of which the Dominican Republic is also a part of the CARICOM economic area that we have to pay attention to. We’ve got groups like Code Pink in the United States who have called for demonstrations in front of the Dominican Embassy. We need to join groups like that and other groups, particularly Haitian-American groups. We need to find out about them, join them, support their efforts. We need to talk to people in the Black Caucus like Maxine Waters and others who have a long history of working in solidarity around Haiti, the Danny Glovers of the world who’ve been evolved around Haiti. We also need to put a lot of pressure on Latin American governments who are involved in the new community of Latin American and Caribbean nations who are upholding reparatory justice emanating from St. Lucia. This is a fundamental question of reparatory justice of Haitians within–in the Dominican Republic. And we have to find, most of all, the groups inside the Dominican Republic who are organizing both as immigrants–there is an immigrant population–but most significantly there is a historical Dominican-Haitian national citizen population. We need to erase our ignorance and find out who they are, be in communication with them, go online, talk to our sister who is on this program and others. So right now it’s feeble because when you juxtapose this up against the other migratory crisis of the world, Africans fleeing from Central Africa all the way up to North Africa, for these very same economic reasons, facing skin color discrimination at the same time, or Syria now having the largest crisis of refugees in the world, these are all citizenship questions. So if we don’t focus in on Haiti because of historic racism, including in the liberal, white Euro-American communities, then we’re going to lose this critical focus of the desperate situation of both Dominican-Haitian citizens, as well as Haitian immigrants. They are desperate. They are fighting back. We need to find out about that and join it.


MOOR: I’ve seen in countries like Colombia a lot of the black populations who are younger more than anything else responding in a similar way that blacks are in the United States. If you’ll remember, the Black Lives Matter hashtag has popped up recently, I’ve seen, down in the Dominican Republic in regard to this situation. I would say that this is the primal sin of bringing African peoples over to the hemisphere. It’s being played out in our lifetime. And if you consider yourself black or African and you’re proud of that, then this is your issue.

EARLY: Or progressive, no matter what race you are.

MOOR: Absolutely. Add that in as well. And so I feel that it’s really telling to see who this impacts internally, because if you’re going to say that you are for, as we say, you know, progressive issues or humanity, how more inhumane can you be? Right? Haiti’s taken more than any other country, in this hemisphere at least, and especially black folks. You need to get around the situation. You need to get behind this.

FLETCHER: Ezili, you have the last word.

DANTO: I agree there. Ralph Gonsalves at CARICOM has been a great champion of the Haitian struggle for liberation. He’s been there for a long time. But we are living in this hostile American Mediterranean with all of the other 14 Caribbean nations doing similar things to Haitians. We make 60 percent of the population of CARICOM. And because of that, we are the only nation–we are discriminated in by CARICOM. We are the only nation there that has to have passports to visit. So that’s how bad it is for us. So I think that black scholars need to understand what Dr. Henry Clarke said, that we are at the precipice of the greatest holocaust. And it’s happening all over the world. But Haiti is–we see it in Haiti with cholera. We see it with the crisis caravan and the NGO fake–we see it with fake aid, and it’s global. What can be done? We have been running, of course without any support, a boycott Dominican Republic movement for being a rogue nation that has made apartheid legal in the Western Hemisphere, legal, not just by practice, but legal, that has committed civil genocide and that has made countless hundreds of thousands of people of Haitian descent stateless. That boycott continues. We hope that folks will help us. We have the Free Haiti movement. We work with Sonia Pierre’s organization. She was a Haitian human rights activist in the Dominican Republic who passed away, but she spent her entire life working on this birthright crisis and died at the cusp, where it was made retroactive, so even she, who had her citizenship as a black Dominican, as a Dominican, was facing the same thing that all dark-skinned people are facing in the Dominican Republic. So I think I can focus on two things that perhaps gentlemen here might be able to help us with at the Free Haiti movement and the Haitian Lawyers Leadership. When I look at the Dominican Republic, I see a very poor, poor nation that is being similarly destroyed, as Haiti is, by colonialism, and the assets of their country, a rich country, the assets of their country are being used by Barrick Gold, all of these big businesses who need people off particular lands, including Haitians. So they call them–they put them all as Haitian migrants. So we have to look at those economic reasons. We have to look at the gold and the oil that’s on both of those islands and why we are occupied. But Timberland, black men are always wearing these boots. Timberland is in Dominican Republic. This is where they make their product. Major League Baseball has an amazingly, to me, racist apartheid system where they bring in these Dominican boys at 16 years old to play at salaries that’s x, y, and z. All of this, the big business effect, where color determines what you get paid, Haitian, 90 percent of the agricultural workers in the Dominican Republic are Haitian, a great percentage of construction, and the rest doing menial jobs, as everywhere, as domestics and cafeteria workers and hospital workers and so forth. So it’s not that they’re going to get rid of them. Now, remember, even back in 1937, the plantation owners, the American sugar plantation owners [told truly (?)] owned his police, you will not come into our plantation and kill these workers. So those workers were left alone. It’s going to be the same. It’s only going to be those people, those Haitians are in places that the big business doesn’t want, they’re the ones that are going to be afforded or may get killed. So I think we should–it would be great if people would support our boycott movement. If Timberland, where African-American men are wearing these shoes, if they would take a position about this apartheid and denounce it, I think that would really make it very important. If major league baseball were to actually stop their racism in the Dominican Republic that actually really badly affect Haitians also, if these construction companies would–. So my thing is this. And I know this is probably radical.

FLETCHER: This would have to be the final point, Ezili. Sorry.

DANTO: Okay. Alright. So, essentially, in terms of the economic reasons, if both Haiti and people in the Dominican Republic did not have a reason for leaving, if they got a living wage, we wouldn’t have any of these problems. Haitians wouldn’t emigrate anywhere.

FLETCHER: Right. Listen, thank you all very, very much. A very, very, as they say, rich conversation. So thank you all. Ezili, Dr. Moor, James, thank you very much for joining us for The Global African.

The Tragic, Bloody Origins of the Dominican Republic’s Plan to Erase its Black Population

Latin America and Desmond Tutu : Advocate, Apologist for Imperialism, Oppression, Fascism, Racism

Desmond Tutu, If You Stand with the Venezuelan Right, You Have Chosen the Side of the Oppressor

By Lucas Koerner

In an op-ed published in the Spanish daily El Pais titled “Free the Prisoners of Conscience in Venezuela”, the renowned South African Archbishop and anti-apartheid militant Desmond Tutu foresakes neutrality in order to unabashedly take the side of the oppressor, namely the United States and the Venezuelan Right.

Given the wildly distorted image of Venezuela projected by the international corporate media, Mr. Tutu’s position is, though extremely disheartening, not altogether surprising. Nonetheless, one would have expected the Archbishop to know better than to uncritically parrot the usual mantra of omissions and mystifications that have long become standard fare in any mainstream discussion of Venezuela.

Tutu begins by reciting the hegemonic narrative of last year’s opposition protests, which he alleges were brutally repressed. Tutu blames the Venezuelan government for the deaths of 43 people, making no mention of the fact that half of the dead were government supporters and security personnel killed directly or indirectly by far right demonstrators.

The archbishop conveniently passes over the numerous instances of rightwing violence in which “protesters” caused millions in public property damage, hung wires across streets to behead Chavista motorcyclists, as well as set up street barricades that prevented ambulances from attending to emergency victims who subsequently died as a result.

Nor does Tutu include in his narrative the fact that demonstrators were not making democratic demands on a “corrupt” and repressive” government- which incidentally had just triumphed in municipal elections hailed by the Right to be a “plebiscite” on President Nicolas Maduro – but calling for its “exit” despite its undeniable constitutional legitimacy.

In a grossly twisted analogy, Tutu goes on to compare the jailed ultra-Right leaders of these violent anti-government mobilizations, Leopoldo Lopez and Daniel Ceballos, to Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi as if Lopez – the White, Harvard-educated son of Venezuela’s oligarchic Mendoza family – has anything in common with these heroic black and brown revolutionaries who gave their lives in the struggle against colonial and apartheid regimes.

In an equally egregious abuse of history, Mr. Tutu then compares Venezuela to apartheid South Africa, underscoring the need for the “international community” to put pressure on the Bolivarian government just like it did in the case of the White supremacist regime. In endorsing “action” by the “international community, which as Chomsky notes is code for “US intervention”, Tutu legitimates Washington’s latest acts of imperialist aggression against Venezuela that include imposing new sanctions as well as branding the socialist nation “a national security threat”.

However, the real “international community”, namely the states and multilateral institutions representing the majority of world’s population, has already spoken. Just as global civil society and a coalition of Third World nations rallied behind the ANC in their struggle against the Washington-backed apartheid regime, today this same coalition has in fact stood up in solidarity with Venezuela against US aggression, with a plethora of multilateral blocs raising their voices in support, including the CELAC, UNASUR, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the G77+China.

This solidarity is neither casual nor coincidental. Over the last sixteen years, the Bolivarian Revolution- which has seen Venezuela’s poor indigenous and Afro-descendent majority take power for the first time in five centuries- has demonstrated to the world’s exploited and oppressed that another world is indeed possible.

In daring to challenge the global contours of this inherently colonial capitalist system, Venezuelans have recognized as comrades-in-arms their sister peoples of the global South- from South Africans to Palestinians- as well as made themselves known to their enemies.

From the briefly successful 2002 coup featuring Lopez and other leading opposition figures to this past February’s thwarted “Blue Coup” attempt, the US and its oligarchic junior partners have unceasingly attempted to overthrow the Bolivarian government and vanquish the “threat of a good example” that it poses. This should of course come as no surprise to Archbishop Tutu who has seen first hand the role played by the “imperial godfather” in defending South African apartheid until the very end as well as continuing to sponsor Israel’s genocidal colonial regime today.

In siding with the Venezuelan Right, Mr. Tutu has tragically aligned himself with the natural allies of the European settler elites in Tel Aviv and Johannesburg, a reality made all the clearer by the fact that Lopez is being legally represented by one of Canada’s foremost Zionist politicians.

Should he fail to turn his back on the oppressor and embrace the Venezuelan pueblo with revolutionary love, Archbishop Tutu risks- as he himself never tires of affirming in the cases of South Africa and Palestine- being on the wrong side of history.

On Desmond Tutu’s Embrace of the Venezuela’s Far-Right

By Joe Emersberger

Hopefully, Desmond Tutu will start researching much more thoroughly before commenting on Latin America.

I believe Desmond Tutu to be a decent person. Unfortunately, having a good heart isn’t enough to prevent somebody from supporting terrible things. As Malcolm X put it, “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” To the newspapers Malcolm X mentioned, we should add NGOs who are embedded in the western establishment.

In 1987, Desmond Tutu was asked what Ronald Reagan should do about apartheid South Africa. Tutu’s response was “Do what you are doing in Nicaragua.” 

I recall seeing Tutu saying this during televised discussions at the time; otherwise I’d assume his position had been badly distorted. Unfortunately, it was not.

Did Tutu really want the U.S. government to organize and fund terrorists to kill tens of thousands of innocent people in South Africa? Of course not, but that is exactly what the Reagan government was doing in Nicaragua. There is no way any decent person who was aware of the facts could say to the Reagan administration “Do what you are doing in Nicaragua.”

Reagan’s terrorism against Nicaragua killed 30,000 people and was so flagrant that in 1986, a year before Tutu’s comment, the World Court ruled that the CIA’s mining of Nicaragua’s harbors was an unlawful use of force – a legalistic way of saying international terrorism. The court weaseled out of concluding exactly the same thing about U.S. support for atrocities perpetrated by the Contras. The court ruled that the U.S.’ material support for the Contras was also illegal (unlawful interference in the internal affairs of another state) but not an unlawful use of force by the United States because, the judges argued, it was not clear enough that the Contras were completely controlled by the U.S. government. Laying mines in Nicaragua’s territorial waters, however, was too obvious an act of direct U.S. government criminality for the court to minimize. The Reaganites laughed off the court’s ruling, including its order that the U.S. pay Nicaragua reparations.

During the 1980s, Tutu had obviously swallowed a line on Nicaragua fed to him by very misinformed or malicious people, or, what amounts to the same thing, formed a view based on what he gleaned from the western media’s coverage.

Decades later, he has done the same thing regarding Venezuela.

In an op-ed in the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Tutu equated Leopoldo Lopez, a jailed Venezuelan opposition leader, to Martin Luther King and the Venezuelan government under Nicolas Maduro to apartheid South Africa. Tutu said that Maduro’s government acted with “impunity” against “non-violent protests” thanks to the “deafening silence and inaction of its neighbors”.

Tutu’s remarks are colossally ignorant. Leopoldo Lopez participated in a briefly successful U.S.-backed coup against the Venezuelan government in 2002. He never served any time in jail for his role in it. Lopez led the kidnapping of a government minister while the coup was successful. Comparing Lopez to Martin Luther King, who did not perpetrate coups or kidnap anyone, is totally absurd. The “non-violent” protests Tutu refers to left several police officers dead. Motorists were also killed in what amounted to death traps erected in the streets by protesters. Some government supporters who attempted to clear away the death traps were murdered by snipers. Roughly half the 43 deaths Tutu refers to in his op-ed strongly implicate violent protesters. Venezuela’s regional neighbors, in particular the Union of South American Countries (UNASUR) have not been “silent and inactive.” They have, for excellent reasons, simply rejected the version of events that Tutu has accepted – a version that renders the victims of opposition violence completely invisible.

A few days after Tutu’s op-ed appeared in El Pais, Venezuelan campesino leader Roberto Carrera was shot dead. Wealthy anti-government landowners opposed to land reform are the main suspects in the assassination of hundreds of rural activists like Carrera since 2001. These deaths have been blacked out by the international media.

Lucas Koener, commenting on Tutu’s op-ed, reminds us that it wasn’t just Venezuela’s Latin American neighbors who rejected Obama’s insanely belligerent executive order that said Venezuela posed an “extraordinary threat” to the “national security” of the USA. It was also rejected by the Non-Aligned Movement and the G77 plus China.

Latin America is not nearly as vulnerable to U.S. aggression today as it was in the days of Reagan’s terrorist campaign against Nicaragua. However, U.S. backed coups in 2002 (Venezuela), 2004 (Haiti) and 2009 (Honduras) illustrate that U.S. imperialism has hardly become a paper tiger. To sneer, as Tutu did in his op-ed, at the concept of “national sovereignty” betrays an inexcusable disregard for the main protection weak states have against the strong – the ones who actually carry out the largest scale violations of human rights.

And why, in 2013, would Desmond Tutu have teamed up with a reprehensible NGO like UN Watch to attack Cuba? UN Watch (and their “proud partners” the American Jewish Congress) said the Gaza flotilla activists who were murdered by Israeli commandos in 2010 were part of a “terror flotilla”.

The petition Tutu signed, which was presented to the UN Human Rights Council by UN Watch, called for an international investigation of the death of a Cuban dissident, Oswaldo Paya, who died in a car crash. The petition claimed the death was “suspicious” based on the claims of a right wing Spanish politician who drove the car involved in the accident.  Imagine what kind of investigation a group like UN Watch would consider “independent”.

The basis for declaring Paya’s death is to be “suspicious” appears extremely thin. If Desmond Tutu investigated the case thoroughly and concluded otherwise then why would he not raise the issue independently rather than stand with vulgar apologists for Israeli apartheid? Before criticizing any government he should do his homework, but it is striking that he was so reckless with Cuba. Has Tutu already forgotten the major contributions Cuba made to ending apartheid in South Africa?

Hopefully, Desmond Tutu will start researching much more thoroughly before commenting on Latin America.

United States Foreign Policy a Reflection of the Legacy of Racism and National Oppression

Charleston massacre represents a long line of crimes against humanity that expand the globe

Author’s Comment: This presentation was delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR) which was held on Thurs. June 18, 2015 at the Our Lady of Fatima Church located in Oak Park, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Azikiwe serves as an executive board member of the organization having previously occupied the positions of both chairperson of the board of directors and president during 2007-2014. Also speaking at this event was Dr. Saaed Khan, a professor at Wayne State University and also a member of the MCHR Board of Directors.
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

We are here for our annual meeting in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR). Our yearly dinner was a resounding success in April with hundreds in attendance under the theme of the need to link various struggles against racism, economic exploitation and for social justice and self-determination for the majority of people who live within this society and the world.

The topic this evening focuses is on the relationship between United States foreign and domestic policy. Why is the government constantly at war with one enemy or another abroad and at the same time failing to foster peace and stability here inside the country?

Today we witnessed the arrest of a suspect in the gruesome massacre of nine African Americans in one of the leading historic churches in the U.S. Even those within law-enforcement and the corporate media have characterized this incident as a hate crime.

Obviously this mass killing was politically motivated. The most prominent person killed in the massacre was Pastor Clementa Pinckney who is also a State Senator in South Carolina. He was in a prayer meeting and bible study at the church when a white 21-year-old male entered and stayed for some time before declaring that he was there to kill Black people.
Charleston Massacre: Yet another terrorist act against Blacks in AmericaReports indicate that he had a criminal record for drugs and other offenses. His links to white supremacist organizations is being examined with each passing hour. He has been shown in a photograph wearing a jacket with the insignia of the former apartheid regime in South Africa and the previous settler-colony of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

Ongoing problems of racist violence and other hate crimes are consistently ignored or played down in the corporate media. The administration of President Barack Obama has been rightly criticized for not addressing the continuing, and many would say, escalating phenomenon of racist violence, hate speech and institutional racism.

History of Mother Emmanuel AME Church and Struggle Against National Oppression

This church where the shooting took place occupies a proud history in the legacy of African people in the U.S. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) was founded in Philadelphia by Richard Allen, Sara Allen, Absalom Jones and others in 1787 beginning as the Free Africa Society.

When the church was formed the United States was in its infancy as a nation. The country had inherited the institution of slavery as an economic system. Slavery existed in the Northeast as well as the South. Africans who had accepted Christianity were still subjected to racism and sought to set up their own independent places of worship.

In the Southeast during the later decades of the 18th Century an African Baptist Church was formed. Later in Philadelphia the AME Church went in the same direction. These places of worship did not just deal with the spiritual needs of the people but the desire for genuine freedom. The formation of the early African churches was in themselves acts of self-determination and defiance against slavery.

Perhaps the most famous co-founder of the Mother Emmanuel AME Church was Telemaque, better known as Denmark Vesey. He was born in the Denmark colony of St. Thomas in the Caribbean and later lived as a slave in Saint Domingo (Haiti). Reports of his life say that he was influenced by Africans in Haiti when the revolution erupted in 1791. He along with his master Vesey, had re-located to South Carolina by the late 1790s. He was able to win his freedom from slavery remaining in South Carolina and serving as a co-founder of the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in 1818.

In 1822 Denmark Vesey was the engineer of an elaborate plot to liberate his people from slavery. He had tried for many years to purchase the freedom of his wife and children yet the white slave masters would not free his spouse or children who were automatically placed in bondage following the rules of the system where the offspring would inherit the status of the mother.

Vesey was influenced by developments in Haiti. The Charleston County revolt was scheduled to take place on July 14, Bastille Day in France. However, a decision was made by Vesey and his comrades at the Church to move the date forward to June 16.

Demographically as a result of the slave system of agricultural production in Charleston, Africans far outnumbered whites in the area. Such a slave revolt would have sent shockwaves throughout the South and shaken the system to its core. Nonetheless, the plans for the revolt were leaked to the slave masters and Vesey along with many others were arrested, tried in a secret court and hung.

Many others were deported to Caribbean islands and other U.S. states. Morris Brown, another early leader of the AME Church was forced out of the state. I do not believe that it was a coincidence that this horrendous act of hate last evening took place just one day after the 193rd anniversary of the plans for the Charleston Rebellion.

Later in August 1831, Nat Turner in South Hampton County, Virginia led another revolt which was not uncovered until the actual day of the uprising. Turner was also motivated by the Bible and notions of the fulfillment of prophecy.

The Nat Turner Revolt led to the deaths of numerous slaveholders. Turner and other were eventually apprehended and brutally executed. Nonetheless, this rebellion created a reaction on the part of the slavocracy in the South resulting in the Abolitionist Movement being born. The 1850 Fugitive Slave Act was a desperate measure to maintain what even many slave masters knew was a dying system of exploitation.

When John Brown attacked Harper’s Ferry, Virginia in 1859, it represented the initial skirmishes of the Civil War which began in earnest in 1861 extending to 1865, breaking the back of the antebellum slave system and ushering in Reconstruction. The failure to build democracy in the aftermath of the dissolution of slavery and the defeat of the Confederacy is still with us today. It would take another century for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act to be passed.

Nonetheless, today much of the turmoil inside the U.S. is related to the inability of the American system to eradicate institutional racism and national oppression.

Direct Relations of Domestic and Foreign Policy

How do these historical developments rooted in slavery provide insight into modern U.S. foreign policy? Is there a direct link between the ongoing racial oppression and the character of Washington’s relations to the former colonial, semi-colonial and socialist states?

All modern wars waged whether Cold or Hot have been directed against the states within the regions of the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the former socialist countries of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe since the conclusion of World War II. Today we witness the re-emerge of another Cold War with the escalation of tensions between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Yemen and other geo-political areas.

In Yemen today, the Saudi Arabian monarchy is bombing the country, the most underdeveloped in the region. The Saudi Arabian and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alliance war against Yemen is in actuality a proxy war against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which had a popular revolution in 1979 in response to the U.S. support of a monarchy which repressed its people for decades. The nationalist government of Mohamed Mossadegh was overthrown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1953 simply because he sought to take control of Iran’s oil resources.

In Palestine, the U.S. has supported the State of Israel which maintains its occupation after 67 years. The people of Gaza and the West Bank are daily subjected to the armed might of the Israeli Defense Forces and the police.

These wars in Yemen and Palestine are supported through direct U.S. tax dollars and weapons. The F-16 fighter planes now bombing Yemeni residential, communications, transport and port facilities are produced in the U.S. The same is true of the Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME), phosphorous bombs and other ordinances utilized by the IDF against the people of Gaza in Operation Protective Edge during 2014 right through additional attacks in recent weeks.

U.S. Imperialism Escalates Its Interference in North Africa

In North Africa the situation is growing more desperate every week. Many of us have followed the tragedy of mass migrations where thousands have died just this year off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean in desperate attempts to reach Malta and Sicily.

The current situation in Libya is a direct result of the CIA-Pentagon and NATO war of regime-change in 2011. There were over 26,000 sorties flown over Libya in 2011 and some 10,000 bombs were dropped on the North African state, previously the most prosperous on the continent under the Gaddafi government.

In Libya today there are two contending regimes claiming legitimacy as the government. Human traffickers take advantage of the chaos to funnel migrants fleeing the impact of wars in Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Syria, and as far away as South Asia. The European Union and the U.S., which have initiated these wars, act now as if they have nothing to do with the current crisis. The EU response has been a military one which will only result in more deaths and displacement.

Also in the region, the militarized regime in Egypt is another case of failed U.S. foreign policy. Since the late 1970s, Washington and Wall Street have funded the Egyptian government under the former President Hosni Mubarak right through the present junta led by military-turned-civilian ruler Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. Thousands of Egyptians have been killed since the military coup in July 2013. The former elected President Mohamed Morsi has been sentenced to death by a court that makes a mockery of due process.

However, these failed policies continue unabated. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Sudan, the impact of U.S. foreign policy is still very much in evidence. Iraq is still at war and the administration of President Barack Obama is carrying out bombing operations against the Islamic State and re-deploying Pentagon forces ostensibly as advisers and trainers. This is the same president who ran for office in 2008 saying he would end the war in Iraq.

The U.S. support of the armed rebels in Syria led to the formation of the Islamic State which has spread into Iraq, Libya and Yemen. Despite the spending of hundreds of billions during the Iraq war by U.S. tax payers carrying out a campaign of regime-change that met popular opposition, the country is still in deep crisis.

The billions spent on weapons to arm the new Iraqi army which was crafted in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, have mainly been wasted through the capturing of these guns, tanks and other equipment by the Islamic State. At present U.S. warplanes are bombing their own weapons sent into the theater based upon untruths and psychological warfare against both the people of Iraq and the U.S.

Which Way Forward in Domestic and U.S. Policy?

Therefore, we have much work to carry out in the upcoming year. Our organization faces the challenge of both addressing the need to cherish both lives here in the U.S. as well as throughout the world.

Since August 2014 with the unrest in Ferguson, the incomplete revolution in racial equality has been further exposed for the world to see. The reluctance of the Obama administration to discuss race and to develop policies that specifically address the continuing disparate class and social divide in the U.S. has borne an ever worsening situation.

Comments by Obama at the White House on events in Charleston seemed to focus more on the need for gun control. Although gun control is important, the underlying racial hatred and hostility is not fully explored.

At the same time there is almost no debate over the redeployment of military forces in Iraq. There is almost no information about the ongoing war in Syria. Most people in the U.S. who watch the news originating from inside the country are barely aware of the war in Yemen and the role of Washington in this genocidal process.

Consequently, we need to intensify our activism aimed at ending racism domestically and imperialist militarism around the world. These two imperatives merge when we look at the growing militarization of the police in the U.S. and the vast prison industrial complex.

Many of the same weapons and tactics utilized in Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia and Palestine are being unleashed against African Americans and others inside this country. Police kill African Americans and Latinos at an alarming rate and in most cases the authorities go unpunished.

The massive impending evictions by Wayne County due to property tax foreclosures and the renewed water shut-offs of thousands in Detroit indicate clearly that the rebuilding of Detroit is taking place in contravention to the majority of people who live there. We must continue our vocal opposition to these crimes against humanity.

We look forward to our new members of the board of directors. This is a working board that seeks to make a difference in the broader movement for social change in the U.S. and internationally. Let us move forward into the coming year with the necessary vigor and vision that will ensure the fundamental change that is needed in the present period.

Abayomi Azikiwe has written extensively on African affairs with specific reference to historical studies and political economy. He has done research on the origins and political ideology of the African National Congress, its leaders as well as other national liberation movements and regional organizations  in Southern Africa.

Charleston Massacre and the Revolutionary Legacy of Denmark Vesey

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