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Archive for March 27th, 2007

Darfur update

The Independent:

Flying over the vast expanse of Chadian desert to get to the refugee camps housing tens of thousands of refugees from Darfur, you get a very clear picture of what normal villages look like on both sides of the border. Small clusters of perhaps 10 to 20 thatched huts are ringed by fences made out of branches of the thorn tree. Sometimes a few kilometres away there will be another cluster of huts, but sometimes a village is isolated.

I had no trouble imaging an attack by Sudanese forces and their Janjaweed militias. This was my second trip to the camps and the day before, a group of despairing women I met with in the Gaga Camp – the only one of twelve camps in Chad that is still accepting refugees from Darfur – had talked about the attacks they had lived through. They all described the chaos and terror in their villages as men attacked on camel and horseback, accompanied by Sudanese government troops in vehicles, in the early hours of the morning, while most were still sleeping.

Sweeping through a village, the men would shoot at anything that moved. Livestock was stolen or killed; the same with crops – stolen or destroyed. The village then would be burned to the ground. Hundreds and hundreds of villages throughout Darfur have suffered that fate in the Khartoum-orchestrated counterinsurgency war that has primarily targeted defenceless civilians.

Another tactic used throughout this war that erupted in 2003, when rebels began attacking Sudanese military targets in Darfur, is rape – rape as a weapon of war. In Bredging refugee camp, I was able to meet a group of 30 women for an hour – and within that hour, five women described their own rapes, always gang rape. Rape to destroy not only the women, but their families and communities. One of the women was 35, the mother of eight children. When her husband learned that she had been raped repeatedly by Janjaweed fighters, he divorced her on the spot and she has been alone since. Another of the women – age 17 – was rejected by her fiance after her rape.

READ IT ALL. IT’S VERY IMPORTANT

African Union soldiers on patrol in the town of Muhujariya in south Darfur. Photograph: Khaled el Fiqi/EPA
African Union soldiers on patrol in the town of Muhujariya in south Darfur. Photograph: Khaled el Fiqi/EPA

Blair has already threatened to employ force in Darfur.

Mr Blair has been pushing for much tougher international action against Sudan since President Omar Hassan al-Bashir reneged earlier this month on last November’s agreement to allow UN peacekeepers into Darfur to protect civilians.

Talks are under way in the UN security council over a package of sanctions being pushed by Britain and the US, which includes a comprehensive arms embargo and the freezing assets of Sudanese leaders implicated in the Darfur ethnic cleansing.

Speaking in Berlin on Sunday, Mr Blair described the situation in Darfur as “intolerable” and said: “We need to consider a no-fly zone to prevent the use of Sudanese air power against refugees and displaced people.”

Also German PM Angela Merkel has spoken about Darfur:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered harsh criticism of Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for not allowing United Nations peacekeepers into the country. Her remarks came amid the pomp of the European Union’s 50th anniversary celebrations in Berlin.

“We think of the people in Zimbabwe and Darfur. The suffering there is unbearable,” Merkel said. “We must look at stronger sanctions.”

The Sudanese government in Khartoum has blocked plans to deploy UN peacekeepers to replace African Union troops struggling to contain the violence in the western region. The EU imposed an arms embargo on Khartoum in January 2004. But this weekend EU leaders and human rights activists said more needs to be done to end one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.

[…] Blair was accompanied by Ishag Mekki, a representative of a London-based group, Darfur Union. Mekki’s elder sister, a mother of eight, was killed in her home in Darfur. Mekki issued an emotional plea to world leaders to help stop. The EU should not celebrate its achievements of the past century while people in Darfur are being killed, Mekki said.

Every time genocide happens the leaders of the EU say ‘never again,'” Mekki said. “These are empty words because it is happening now.”

Well, let’s wait and see.

______________________________

El periódico inglés The Independent ha publicado un relato sobre cómo se vive en un campo de refugiados a los que están huyendo personas de Chad tras los ataques de los Janjaweed. Dice que lo normal es que entren en un poblado y disparen a todo lo que se mueve. También violan a las mujeres siempre en grupo para dañar tanto a ellas como a las familias. Normalmente, después de la violación son abandonadas.

Blair quiere que se apruebe una resolución en la que se establezca una zona en la que esté prohibido volar para que no puedan ser bombardeados desde el aire.

Merkel también ha insitido en que la situación es insostenible.

Mientras, el genocidio continúa. Mekki, cuya hermana, madre de 8 hijos, fue asesinada en Darfur, dice que “cada vez que un genocidio sucede, los líderes de la UE dicen “nunca jamás”. Estas son palabras vacías porque se está produciendo ahora”. Y los años que lleva …

Por cierto, Italian Blogs for Darfur nos ha ofrecido la posibilidad de hacer un “Blogroll de Blogs Españoles por Darfur”. Sólo tendríais que postear algo sobre Darfur cada semana. Y de esa manera más personas conocerían más cosas sobre lo que pasa allí. Que ya sé que lo que está pasando aquí es suficientemente grave como para estar muy preocupados, pero no creo que debamos olvidar lo que pasa en otros países.

Los que esteis interesados, me dejais un mensaje en el post. Gracias.


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Some days ago I posted about the demonstration held in Madrid against the concession of the 2nd grade to ETA terrorist De Juana Chaos. I also mentioned that there were a lot of people -especially Socialists, Communists and Nationalists- had protested over it in very angry terms.

But last week, something happened which is very grave. As much of you know El País is the most re-known Spanish paper abroad. It belongs nowadays to a holding, named PRISA, who is owned in a very important part by Spanish multimillionaire Mr. Jesús de Polanco. He made his fortune during Franco’s dictatorship selling books for students in low grades and then he made his empire grew into the most important Spanish communications holding. It includes radios (40 Principales -pop music-, Cadena Ser -information and general-, Cadena Dial -Spanish traditional and folk music-), TVs (Cuatro or Canal+), many newspapers (among others, EL Pais), several editorials (such as Alfaguara), and much more. He had also interests in South America.

After Franco died, he understood that democracy made his empire a little more fragile, as the priviledges he had within the dictatorship ended with it. So, he allied with the Socialists. I even remember that a Norwegian minister said once: “I have seen many parties which owned MSM, but this is the 1st time I see a political party owned by the media“. When I told this a friend some years ago, he told me “that Norvegian is a fascist”….

El Mundo newspaper [in its paper edition of Monday 26th, 2007, 3rd page] mentions all the priviledges that PRISA has had:

Political favours from the residual Fraco-ism when Arias Navarro authorised the publishing of El País, directed then by someone who was considered as Franco’s supporter, some months earlier than all its competitors. Political favours of the UCD [Unión de Centro Democrático = Democratic Center Union] when they authorised and made easy by the Suarez’s Government, the Cadena Ser buying at a ridiculous price. Political favours of Felipe González when they gave PRISA a pay-per-view television in a process founded in the public interest and when they let them merger with Antena 3 Radio illegally [according to a Supreme Tribunal Sentence]. Political favours with the Aznar’s Governments when they elude to execute that Supreme’s sentence and when they authorised the merger between Canal Satélite [from PRISA] and Vía Digital [From Telefónica] that in practice was only a concession of the monopoly of the pay-per-view TV. And political favours from Zapatero’s Government when they have transformed the licence of Canal + into a non-pay-per-view TV [la Cuatro] and modified the radiophonic legislation not to execute definitely the Supreme’s sentence“.

Anyway, both abroad and at home the holding had had a very good reputation as objective and just media.

But not any more, among a broad segment of Spanish society. The partial news they write or read in the radio had made a lot of people even erasing there radios or TVs from the machines at home, at office or in their cars. The newspaper that after the 9/11 attacks titled his edition of the day as “The world, waiting for Bush retailation”, is hated by ones and loved by others.

And these feelings had been deepened by the statement Mr. Jesús de Polanco gave last week at the Annual Gathering of Stakeholders of his holding. This statement runs:

It’s very difficult to be neutral when everything is one of the parts here things anythings is worth to get back the power“. “There are some people who want to go back to the Civil War. We have just seen a demonstration that was pure and hard Franco-ism. If this gentlemen regain power, they are going to come with a retaliation feeling, that, personally, scares me“. “If there was a right-wing party in Spain, laic, strong, with guts, Prisa will support it. It is what we are lacking of. We have already a left-wing party.”

In the same event, a stakeholder asked Polanco, why Hermann Tersch, a reknown journalist from El Pais was critisizing Socialist Government and what they were going to do about that contradiction. Polanco’s answer is an example of his own character:

That contradiction is now over. You will see it very soon, as the rest of the readers of the newspaper“.

The journalist had been fired because his ideological position was totally different from that of the holding. He had been a polemic journalist much critisized because he did not agree with the official line.

When the Government was all day speaking about the “fascists” and the “far-right”, he said:

“If an anticonstitutional flag or two, appear in a demosntration to which hundred of thousands of people there is no problem. In this country, there is no far-right: the elections tell you that, even there are a lot of people who want it to exist and a lot are also doing everything in their power to make it appear. I really believe that the people who try to generate and promote the far-right are in other places”.

He also called Castro the “sad Ceaucescu of the Antilles“, and he also supported Radio Cope which was threatened with an inmediate shut because the leading anchors were [and are] critisizing the Government. He said:

The quick deterioration of the Spanish political climate can have a lot of culprits. But the relentless pursuit of the offices and homes of members from political parties [remember that there was a brutal campaign of the anti-war hordes before the 2004 elections, in which lots of PP offices were broken into, PP militants and supporters were beaten and insulted continuosly, and then Zapatero considered those things as legitimate acts of freedom of speech] and to MSM, its worst and most grave expression yet, is an open, obscene and exclusive practice, but each day more frequently used by Catalan and Basque ultranationalist groups, some of them with political institutional bindings or not with the political party now in the Spanish Government.

It is an intolerable corruption of the democratic life that remembers me the harrasment of the members of German Nazi Party to the German and Austrian democratic media in the early days of Nazism and also to the agressions which were subjected the democratic media from the ultranationalists in the Balkans before and during the 90’s”.

So Rajoy has today asked why PRISA invites PP members if they are so bad.

In a breakfast organised by the Fórum Europa, Mariano Rajoy underlined that his party is independent, free, does not obey orders from nobody”, and it is only dependent on the Spanish people and their interests”. He was referring to the PP’s decision of not giving any more interviewes to PRISA group, in an answer that was afterwards strongly cheered by the people attending the meeting.

Related news:

Spanish writer Almundena Grandes says that “each morning she would shoot people who make her mad“. She writes for PRISA.

Ex-Defense Minister José Bono [his father was a member of Falange, the political party supporting Franco] says that PRISA will make sure that PP pays for this decision. Ejem. This said by the same Minister who declared that “he preferred to die than to kill” so he had ordered the troops “not to shoot anyone when in combat in Afghanistan“… makes me wonder: if he was so brave as to die without killing the enemy -apart from not understanding war…-, why on earth is he considering fear about the consequences this acts for PP?

There are also MSM and politicians who have critisized PP’s decision not to go to PRISA’s MSM. It is necessary to mention that PSOE is boycotting TeleMadrid and other Regional Public TV’s from PP-leadered Autonomous Communities, simply because they thought that these MSM were not neutral.

I agree with PP decision, I think they should have taken this decision long ago.

And it is curious that no one is commenting about Tersch’s sacking as a full violation of the freedom of expression in this country. But they are considering that, after being gravely insulted, one should go there to kiss their asses. No, thanks, democracy was made to defend normal citizens from abuses. And the abused here is not PRISA but Tersch. One reasonable leftist man.


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I posted yesterday about Bolivian President Evo Morales’ intention to be in power till 2018. Today I have found this article in Christian Science Monitor in which they explain the Bolivian citizens exodus mostly from middle-class.

(Photograph)

Like scores of his friends and family, Cesar Torrio (photo, right), a lawyer in Cochabamba, voted for change – for Evo Morales in Bolivia’s presidential election in December of 2005. “We all wanted change,” says Mr. Torrio, “and Evo was the only one who could bring it.”

Now he shakes his head. “This is not what we wanted. He is re-creating a nation with just one identity.”

President Morales, an Aymara Indian and former coca-leaf grower, ushered in a new era of hope in Bolivia, quickly becoming a symbol of the poor in his alpaca sweater and promising a new nation for the long-oppressed indigenous majority. Across Bolivia the indigenous celebrated the promises they had fought so long for: a new constitution, control of natural resources, and a shift away from free-market policies in a nation where two-thirds of the population still lives in poverty.

But the indigenous were not the only ones to rejoice. Thousands of middle-class voters, who were tired of the deep divisions in the country, reached out for a figure they likened to South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. Analysts say that without their support, Morales could not have won 54 percent of votes.

Today, some of those voters are questioning their choice. While Morales remains a popular president, lawyers, teachers, police officers, and taxi drivers interviewed across the country claim he is governing for the indigenous only and say they disagree with his policies. Many are going to Spain. Others wonder where they fit within the “new Bolivia.”

“It is impossible to understand [Morales’s large mandate] if you don’t see what the vote of middle class was,” says Gonzalo Chavez, a political analyst at Catholic University in La Paz. “Many people feel like he is losing the middle. In Bolivia we don’t have a huge middle class. … but politically it is very important, and has a lot of influence in public opinion.”

The exodus to Spain is booming [link in Spanish] as next April is going to be applied a new visa by which immigrants will have to be provided with a job contract and the employer will have to pay Social Security. There are 300 people asking for visas per day and around 250 actually given per day. This visa is already applied to people from Colombia or Peru. [I wonder why it is not applied to pther nationals? Especially Maghrebis…].


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