Chilean judge sentences murderers of US-American citizens Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi

[In the exposure of the murders, 4 decades ago, of Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi, the US-spnsored Pinochet coup against Chilean President Salvador Allende, the role of the US and the terrorism master-minded by Henry Kissinger came into public view.  The fact that the murderers were not successfully prosecuted for 41 years is proof that US control  has been effective, even long after the fact.  And now the Chilean prosecution aims to put some of this embarassing history behind them as they sentence two of the murderous perpetrators.  —  Frontlines ed.]

Tlaxcala, 2/23/2015 
Translated by  Richard Ferguson, Edited by  Supriyo Chatterjee  
Almost 42 years after the events, Special Judge Jorge Zepeda Arancibia sentenced two intelligence officers for the murders of US-Americans Charles Edmond Horman, a 31-year-old journalist, and Frank Randall Teruggi Bombatch, a 24-year-old student, shot in the Estadio Nacional (National Stadium) days into the coup headed by Pinochet. 

The 276-page judgment sentences Army intelligence official Pedro Octavio Espinoza Bravo, who serves several other sentences for assassinations, to seven years of prison for the murders,while Air Force officer Rafael Agustín González Berdugo will serve two years of probation as an accomplice to Horman’s homicide.

Judge Zepeda’s exhaustive investigations confirmed the direct intervention of the United States in the coup through Operation Unitas, carried out in Valparaíso simultaneously with the offensive, and further revealed the ruthless persecution that the United States ordered the Chilean intelligence services to undertake against American radicals in Chile sympathetic to Salvador Allende, or simply interested in learning at close quarters and living among the peaceful revolutionary process led by the Head of State overthrown by it. In the Estadio Nacional up to 24 detained Americans were registered (Horman and Teruggi weren’t), both men and women, including students, academics, writers and two Maryknoll priests.

Charles Horman                                                  Frank Teruggi

The instigators of and accessories to this persecution of American citizens were their fellow countryman, Ray Elliots Charles, Marine Captain and chief of the American military mission, supported by the Ambassador Nathaniel Davis. Far from protecting their compatriots, they covered up the murders and detentions of Americans, going as far as providing false information to family members like Edmund Horman, Charles’s father, who moved to Chile in search of his son.

New York: Indian/South Asian Group leads anti Modi protest demonstration

[We have received other reports that, while the numbers of protesters were much smaller than claimed in this AJA press release, the action clearly and prominently challenged the fascist Modi’s claim of universal embrace and acclaim.   The views of AJA are offered here by Frontlines, to understand the growing and diverse opposition to the Imperialist’s Modi.  —  Frontlines ed.]

——————-

Massive protests send clear demands to Indian PM Modi: End suppression of minorities and desist from clamping down on civil society institutions

Alliance for Justice and Accountability — Press Release
New York, NY |  September 28, 2104

Alliance for Justice and Accountability, a broad coalition of organizations and individuals, announced that the rally this morning in New York City during Prime Minister Modi’s event at Madison Square Garden, was a huge success. Hundreds of people, including human rights activists, professionals, students and people from all walks of life attended the rally. Protesters were a large and spirited group of Indian Americans comprising of people of all faiths and ideological persuasions, with one thing in common: they were demanding justice and accountability in the case of Mr. Modi, and an end to repression of minorities and crony capitalism in India.

“The protests have demonstrated the rejection of a leader who represents a hateful and divisive agenda, ” said Robindra Deb, a key AJA organizer of protest on September 28. “We represent the 70% of Indians that did not vote for Mr. Modi,” added Mr. Deb. Continue reading

Slave ships and supermarkets: Modern day slavery in Thailand

[Representatives of capital, and of modern capitalist-imperialism, have often claimed that their exploitative system has been a civilizing force, promoting and spreading democratic rights along with social and economic development wherever it has gone throughout the world.  These claims could not be further from the truth, as these masters of global plunder of human and all natural resources continue to force marginalized and desperately migrating peoples–peasants and proletarians alike–into the most dangerous conditions of slavery, enforced by the repressive regimes and the enslaving corporations they serve.  The following exposure by The Guardian exposes one aspect of this malevolent and highly profitable system, which then offers the inexpensive and tasty shrimp/prawn delicacies to unaware and/or uncaring consumers in imperialist countries. — Frontlines ed.]

By Kate Hodal, Chris Kelly, Felicity Lawrence, www.theguardian.com

June 12th, 2014

Slaves forced to work for no pay for years at a time under threat of extreme violence are being used in Asia in the production of seafood sold by major US, British and other European retailers, the Guardian can reveal.

A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco.

The investigation found that the world’s largest prawn farmer, the Thailand-based Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, buys fishmeal, which it feeds to its farmed prawns, from some suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned with slaves.

Men who have managed to escape from boats supplying CP Foods and other companies like it told the Guardian of horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings. Some were at sea for years; some were regularly offered methamphetamines to keep them going. Some had seen fellow slaves murdered in front of them. Continue reading

Obama in South Africa: Washington tells Pretoria how to ‘play the game’ in Africa

Protesters greet Obama, June 28, 2013.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

July 1, 2013Links International Journal of Socialist RenewalUS President Barack Barack Obama’s weekend trip to South Africa may have the desired effect of slowing the geopolitical realignment of Pretoria to the Brazil-India-Russia-China-South Africa (BRICS) axis. That shift to BRICS has not, however, meant deviation from the hosts’ political philosophy, best understood as “talk left, walk right” since it mixes anti-imperialist rhetoric with pro-corporate policies.

Overshadowed by Nelson Mandela’s critically ill health, Obama’s implicit denial of a US imperial agenda could not disguise Washington’s economic paranoia. As expressed on June 25 by White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, “What we hear from our businesses is that they want to get in the game in Africa. There are other countries getting in the game in Africa – China, Brazil, Turkey. And if the US is not leading in Africa, we’re going to fall behind in a very important region of the world.”

Over a century earlier, another Rhodes – Cecil John – explained that very game: “We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labour that is available from the natives of the colonies. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories.” Although there is no longer formal slave labour within formal colonies, this sentiment readily links the neoliberal agenda of both the BRICS and the US.

Perhaps embarrassed, Obama himself retracted Ben Rhodes’ confession of inter-imperial rivalry when asked by the White House press corps: “I want everybody playing in Africa. The more the merrier. A lot of people are pleased that China is involved in Africa.”

This must have raised cynical eyebrows, because he added, “China’s primary interest is being able to obtain access for natural resources in Africa to feed the manufacturers in export-driven policies of the Chinese economy.” Continue reading

US opposition to minimum wage increase in Haiti revealed

Sweat shop in Haiti (file foto)

Sweat shop in Haiti (file foto)

WikiLeaks public cables have showed how the U.S. Embassy in Haiti worked closely with factory owners contracted by Levi’s, Hanes and Fruit of the Loom to block an increase to the minimum wage for Haitian workers.

In 2009, the minimum wage was $1.75 per day. In June 2009, responding to workers’ pressure, a parliamentary bill proposed to raise it to $5 per day. Factory owners opposed it saying they would only pay $2.50 “to make T-shirts, bras and underwear for US clothing giants like Dockers and Nautica”. Backed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Embassy, they urged then Haitian President René Préval to intervene.

The Haiti cables reveal how closely the US Embassy monitored widespread pro-wage increase demonstrations and the political impact of the minimum wage battle. UN troops were called in to quell workers and students protests, sparking further demands for the end of the UN military occupation of Haiti.

Because of these fierce demonstrations, sweatshop owners and Washington were unable to keep the minimum wage as low as they had wanted to for long.

In August 2009, President Preval negotiated a deal with Parliament to have two minimum wages: $3.13/day for textile workers and $5/day for other workers. But Parliament also adopted a progressive increase over three years so in October 2012 textile workers minimum wage finally went up to $5/day ($6.25 for other sectors).

200 Gourdes ($5) right now!”

Pennsylvania: McDonald’s Guest Workers Stage Surprise Strike

Josh Eidelson, The Nation, March 6, 2013


A McDonald’s store in the Philippines. (Flickr)

Alleging unpaid wages and repeated retaliation, McDonald’s workers in central Pennsylvania launched a surprise strike at 11 this morning. The strikers are student guest workers from Latin America and Asia, brought to the United States under the controversial J-1 cultural exchange visa program. Their employer is one of the thousands of McDonald’s franchisees with whom the company contracts to run its ubiquitous stores.

“We are afraid,” striker Jorge Victor Rios told The Nation prior to the work stoppage. “But we are trying to overcome our fear.”

The McDonald’s corporation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The J-1 visa program is officially intended to promote educational and cultural exchange. But advocates allege that J-1, like the other guest worker programs that collectively bring hundreds of thousands of workers in and out of the United States each year, is rife with abuse. The National Guestworker Alliance (NGA), the organization spearheading today’s strike, charges that such programs—whose future is intimately tied up with the fate of comprehensive immigration reform—offer ample opportunities for employers to intimidate workers, suppress organizing and drive down labor standards.

“McDonald’s is just the latest in a long line of corporations that have hijacked the US guest worker program to get cheap, exploitable labor, and that’s what the students are,” NGA Executive Director Saket Soni told The Nation. “The conditions are horrific, but have become the norm for guest workers.”

The workers are striking over what they charge are rampant abuses at their stores in Harrisburg and nearby Lemoyne and Camp Hill. According to NGA, the visiting students each paid $3,000 or more for the chance to come and work, and were promised full-time employment; most received only a handful of hours a week, while others worked shifts as long as twenty-five hours straight, without being paid overtime. “Their employer is also their landlord,” said Soni. “They’re earning sub-minimum wages, and then paying it back in rent” to share a room with up to seven co-workers. “Their weekly net pay is actually sometimes brought as low as zero.”

“We are living in [a] basement,” said Rios, “cramped together, with no divisions, in bunkbeds which are meant for children.” Continue reading

India: 4,500 anti-nuclear farmers walk out of public hearing

Villagers shout slogans after boycotting a public hearing for a proposed nuclear plant, near Bhavnagar, Gujarat, on Tuesday. Photo: AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

Villagers shout slogans after boycotting a public hearing for a proposed nuclear plant, near Bhavnagar, Gujarat, on Tuesday. Photo: AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

[The proposed nuclear power plant is slated to be constructed by Westinghouse Corporation of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, by contract with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India.  To prevent yet another Bhopal and another Chernobyl and Fukishima, farmers whose lands are in the path of the proposed nuclear plant are acting to stop the project, its nuclear poison and its mass displacement. — Frontlines ed.]

The Times of India, March 5, 2013

RAJKOT: Thousands of farmers walked out from a public hearing in Nana Navagam organized by Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) for the proposed 6000 MW nuclear power plant at Mithi Virdi in Bhavnagar district.  The hearing was held on behalf of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) that will build the plant. The public hearing was held to discuss the environment impact assessment of the proposed plant prepared by Engineers India Limited (EIL).  The nuclear plant is expected to have six light-water reactors. The public hearing was attended by Bhavnagar collector V P Patel along with officials of GPCB and NPCIL.As soon as the NPCIL officials started their project presentation, about 4,500 farmers from around 28 villages started protesting and demanded they be heard first. “When they refused to address our queries first, all the farmers walked out in protest,” a resident of Jasapara village Khengarsinh Gohil said. The farmers said they will not allow the nuclear power plant to come up here in the area.Environment activist Krishnakant said the hearing was conducted in an illegal manner and the issues raised by farmers were not heard. Continue reading