Americas (South & North)

The Ossington Circle Episode 22: Honduras and Empire with Shipley and Coleman

Honduras and Empire with Shipley and Coleman

In this episode I talk to Tyler Shipley, author of Ottawa and Empire: Canada and the Military Coup in Honduras, and Kevin Coleman, author of A Camera in the Garden of Eden: The Self-Forging of a Banana Republic. Both are scholars of Honduras and its relationship to the Empire, and the conversation stretches back into the 20th century and the 1954 strike, coming back to our times to focus on the 2009 coup against the elected government of Mel Zelaya and what has happened since.

Honduras Workers in line in 1954
Rafael Platero Paz photograph of workers in line during the country-changing Honduras strike of 1954

 

Protesters against the 2009 coup
Kevin Coleman photograph of protesters against the 2009 coup in Honduras

 

The Ossington Circle Episode 21: Venezuela's Crisis with Maria Paez Victor

The Ossington Circle Episode 21: Venezuela's Crisis with Maria Paez Victor

In this episode I talk to Maria Paez Victor of the Canadian, Latin American, and Caribbean Policy Centre and the Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle about Venezuela's revolution, Chavismo, Maduro, the Venezuelan opposition, and the idea of the upcoming Constituent Assembly.

Check out the think tank: http://calccentre.ca

To receive information from the Circulo Bolivariano Louis Riel, and join their mailing list, get in touch.

The Ossington Circle Episode 20: The Great Haiti Humanitarian Aid Swindle with Timothy T Schwartz

The Ossington Circle Episode 20: The Great Haiti Humanitarian Aid Swindle with Timothy T Schwartz

In this episode I talk to anthropologist Timothy T Schwartz, author of The Great Haiti Humanitarian Aid Swindle (and the equally shocking Travesty in Haiti). Schwartz details the workings of the propaganda and malpractice of the charity business to which Haiti is subjected.

 

The Ossington Circle Episode 12: Social Self Defense Against Trump with Jeremy Brecher

The Ossington Circle Episode 12: Social Self Defense Against Trump with Jeremy Brecher

In this episode of The Ossington Circle, I talk to labor historian and activist Jeremy Brecher about a possible strategy against Trump called Social Self Defense.

The Ossington Circle Episode 10: Surviving Trump with Luke Elliott-Negri

The Ossington Circle Episode 10: Surviving Trump with Luke Elliott-Negri

In this episode of The Ossington Circle, I interview New York-based labor activist and graduate student Luke Elliott-Negri. We discuss the role and importance of organizing, of third parties, of local electoral work, and of labor unions in surviving the new Trump Era.

Three Lessons this Leftist Takes from Trump’s Victory

I have been surprised by two electoral events in a few months: Trump’s election victory and the Colombian referendum on the peace accords. Both votes were very close, had low participation rates, and were expected to go the other way. If I were a closer watcher of British politics, I would no doubt have been equally surprised by the Brexit vote. In trying to learn from my own errors of analysis, I have come to these conclusions.

1. This is a world of bubbles.

One important and constant argument made on the left is for the need for independent media. The reason we believe in devoting resources and energy to creating and supporting independent media is to try to reduce our dependence for information on analysis on corporate media sources. Whether those sources support Democrats or Republicans, whether they are liberal or conservative, their corporate values and their business models trump the political considerations of their journalists or editors.

We used to focus our analysis of media bias against the corporate, agenda-setting media and especially their flagship newspaper, namely the New York Times. The NYT would receive the most criticism, not because it was the most biased, because there have always been many outlets to the right of it, but because it had the most influence. With the decline of newspapers and more and more people getting their information from different media – TV, social media, other web sources – audiences fragmented.

That fragmentation process is now complete. The agenda-setting media set agendas for only one bloc of Americans. Another bloc, the one that just elected Trump, uses a different set of media – one with its own set of assumptions and biases.

So my daily media routine goes like this: I use a carefully curated Twitter feed, following journalists and writers that I like and trust. When I have analyzed what I end up reading via Twitter, it seemed to me that I was clicking a lot of links to The Guardian, The Intercept, and Al Jazeera.

Haiti 101 Years After US Invasion, Still Resisting Domination

US invaded and occupied Haiti 101 years ago today, and remained there for nineteen years. Accomplishments of the occupation include raiding the Haitian National Bank, re-instituting forced labor, establishing the hated National Guard, and getting a 25-year contract for the US corporation, United Fruit.

There was a pretext for the invasion – the assassination of Haiti's president in 1915. But to understand the event, which has lessons to draw from a century later, it is necessary to look more closely at the invader than the invaded.

In 2016, the United States is living through a presidential campaign with a candidate willing to exploit racism and pander to anti-immigrant sentiment. Police are killing black people in cities across the US. Having drawn down troop levels in its two big wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US still runs air srikes and drone strikes in the region, and covert actions all over the world. The US is still the determining voice in Haiti's politics and economy. In other words, one hundred and one years after its invasion of Haiti, the US retains two features of what it was then: violent racial inequality, and empire.

The US presidential candidates can be looked at from the perspective of Haiti. One candidate has an extensive record there. The other has some historical parallels.

The Clintons have treated Haiti as a family business. In 2010, after an earthquake devastated the country, the Clinton Foundation was among the horde of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that stepped up their role in the still unfinished rebuilding phase. Haiti's social sector had already been taken over by NGOs and its streets, since the 2004 coup and occupation, were patrolled by United Nations troops. The Clinton Foundation received pledges of hundreds of millions of dollars in development aid to rebuild Haiti. The crown jewel of the Foundation's work: the disappointing Caracol Industrial Park, opened in 2012, which promised and failed to expand Haiti's low-wage garment-processing industry, long a source of foreign profits and little internal development.

Colombia: The possibilities opened by the peace agreement

On June 23, at the end of a four-year long peace negotiation, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government signed a ceasefire agreement in Havana. In cities around Colombia, people left signs on the streets reading: “R.I.P. Civil War, 1964-2016”. There are good reasons to date the civil war's origin even further back, all the way to 1948. In either case, this is a historic moment, the signing of a peace to end one of the world's longest-running conflicts.

Like many other guerrilla movements in Latin America the FARC took up arms in part to defend peasant lands from powerful interests: local big landowners, the state, and multinational corporations, and their military and paramilitary forces. The peace agreement they signed contains a mandate for land reform, as well as for restitution for the victims of the conflict, a transitional justice process for guerrillas who committed crimes during the war, and a process for the guerrillas to enter Colombia's electoral political system.

The process isn't finished: the final agreement will be signed in Colombia. It will have to be approved in a referendum, and legislation to support it will have to be passed in the Colombian Congress. But the FARC said on June 28, in a sign of how far the process has advanced, that they would not return to war even if the people rejected the accords. There are also other cautions, caveats, and limitations to the process to dampen the understandable celebration.

We have been here before. There have been two peace processes that took years, became very popular in Colombia, and ultimately failed. In the 1980s, a peace process saw thousands of revolutionaries associated with the guerrillas enter politics through the Patriotic Union (UP) party only to be killed by state-backed paramilitaries. From 1999-2002, peace talks ran at Caguan, while the Colombian government built up its military through Plan Colombia. They ended with the Colombian Army driving the FARC out of their safe zone, and another decade and a half of massacres, assassinations, and kidnappings.

While it is the largest, the FARC isn't the only guerrilla group in Colombia. The National Liberation Army (ELN) is also in a peace process with the government, but it is in relatively early stages. Until that process is also concluded, the armed conflict cannot be declared over.

The Ossington Circle Episode 6: Listening to Ayotzinapa with John Gibler and Manuel Rozental

The Ossington Circle Episode 6: Listening to Ayotzinapa with John Gibler and Manuel Rozental

In this sixth episode of The Ossington Circle, I interview John Gibler, author of An Oral History of Infamy: The Attacks on the Students of Ayotzinapa, and Manuel Rozental of Pueblos en Camino. We discuss the disappearance of the 43 students in Mexico, the changes in Mexico over recent years, and the idea of "political listening".

The Ossington Circle Podcast Episode 5 - Indigenous Resurgence with Glen Coulthard

The Ossington Circle Episode 5: Indigenous Resurgence with Glen Coulthard

In this fifth episode of The Ossington Circle, I interview Glen Coulthard, author of Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. We discuss the revolutionary ideas of Frantz Fanon, the portability of revolutionary ideas, the indigenous resurgence, and the question of solidarity.