Year 2001 No. 29, February 15, 2001
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
British Government Continues to Support UN Sanctions against Libya
Update on the Arrests at the Faslane Blockade
COLOMBIA: An alternative to the World Economic Forum, Switzerland:
The Other Davos
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This week talks between the British, US and Libyan governments over the lifting of UN sanctions against Libya have begun in New York.
UN sanctions were imposed on Libya in March 1992 following the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. But these sanctions were suspended in April 1999 when the Libyan government presented two of its citizens for trial. At the recent trial in the Netherlands, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, while his alleged accomplice was declared not guilty. The trial answered few questions concerning the bombing and even the families of the victims questioned the verdict. Al Megrahi is seeking leave to appeal against the verdict, while the Libyan government has denounced the trial and verdict as politically motivated.
According to news reports, a spokesman for the British relatives of those who died in the Lockerbie disaster welcomed news of the talks in New York, while both in Britain and internationally there have been calls for the lifting of UN sanctions against Libya. This week the 15 African countries of the Community of Sahelian-Saharan States demanded the lifting of economic sanctions against Libya and condemned the use of UN sanctions by the big powers. Last week the South African government made similar demands. It is reported that most other members of the UN Security Council want an immediate and permanent lifting of UN sanctions. The British and US governments on the other hand are demanding that the Libyan government must accept responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing, pay £500 million compensation to the families of the victims and satisfy the two governments that "it has renounced terrorism and disclosed all it knows of the Lockerbie crime".
The British and US government's attempts to continue to bully Libya are fully consistent with their aim to isolate any country which does not subscribe to their Eurocentric values, which they then label as a "rogue state" and use any means to attack. The British government, which together with US imperialism, daily carries out the criminal bombing of the Iraqi people and bombed Yugoslavia, flouting all the norms of international conduct, is hardly in a position to lecture other countries about "renouncing terrorism". Its support for the cynical manipulation by the US of its power of veto in the UN Security Council is bringing increasing international condemnation.
It is evident that the working class and people of Britain must step up the struggle to establish a modern state with a modern foreign policy that recognises the equality of all nations. Such a struggle must also establish a world order where the people are sovereign, where the United Nations and Security Council are reformed and international affairs are democratised, and where there is respect for different social systems and different paths of social development.
The Labour MP George Galloway was among 379 protesters arrested on Monday during the demonstration against nuclear weapons at the Faslane Trident submarine base on the Clyde.
The MSP Tommy Sheridan, leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, and the Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas were also detained as around 1,000 people blockaded the base, home to Britain's nuclear submarine fleet. The protest was organised by Trident Ploughshares and Scottish CND.
The demonstration took place on the day the navy announced that the fourth and last Trident missile submarine has entered operational service. The 16,000 tonne vessel, HMS Vengeance, which will carry up to 48 warheads, will take its place in the cycle of non-stop nuclear submarine patrols after completing intensive trials which have included the successful test launch of an unarmed missile.
George Galloway said: "We are worried about how to pay for care of the elderly and reducing class sizes in schools. However, we are spending millions on weapons of mass destruction that will never be used."
Strathclyde Police put the total number of arrests at 373 made up of 195 women and 179 men twice the total arrested at a similar demonstration last February.
The Scottish CND administrator John Ainslie said: "This is the biggest protest in Scotland since 1961 and it is the biggest ever held at Faslane."
The Rev Norman Shanks, leader of the Iona Community, and one of the clergy arrested, said: "The church ministers are here to show their opposition to Trident and that's a Christian opposition. There's a strong Christian tradition of civil disobedience."
Other clergy arrested included Norman Shanks, leader of the Iona Community, Griff Dines, the provost of Glasgow's Episcopal St Mary's Cathedral, and Gilbert Markus, the Catholic Chaplain to Glasgow University.
An alternative to the World Economic Forum, Switzerland:
The Information Service of Red Resistencia carried a report on "The Other Davos" that was organised on January 26 in Zurich as an alternative to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that is held annually in the Swiss Alps gathering together the most powerful representatives of transnational capital.
The Information Service reported that on January 27, a peasant delegation tried to reach Davos by bus to participate in the International Conference of the World Economic Forum, but they were detained by a strong force of military and police forty kilometres from their destination. Only those who are prepared to bow the knee to economic power were allowed to take part in the talks. Only that Colombian diplomacy which sells out the country for a few dollars with their death plan, officially called "Plan Colombia", are allowed to share in the profits.
Participating in "The Other Davos" were delegations from Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East composed mainly of activists, political leaders, youth, academics and trade unionists. The central subject was to look for alternatives and to prepare an organised answer, also world-wide, against the globalisation of capital, and in particular against the crimes of contemporary capitalism against humanity.
The situation in Colombian was one of the main topics of the programme of the International Conference. The interventions of the Colombian delegates denounced the present situation of poverty and corruption, and the massacres carried out with the complicity of the state by the "paramilitary" forces.
A document sent by the International Commission of FARC-EP highlighted that they are committed to seeking peaceful solutions to the Colombian conflict, but these solutions must mean democracy, well-being and social justice for the population. It emphasised that the capitalist system is in crisis, along with their present model of neo-liberalism also. Nevertheless it is necessary to develop the conscious fight against it and on its ruins to build just and sovereign societies in each country, without external models or predetermined moulds and without hegemonism.
A statement of the farmers grouped in the Co-ordinator of the Coca and Poppy Cultivators of Colombia (COCCA) was presented to the Alternative Economic Forum. After a historical overview of the liberation of Latin America from Spain, it said: We the peasants have found in the illegal farms the only solution to the lack of schools, transportation, road structures and health care provided by the state. It said that massacres are taking place on a more than daily basis with the participation of the police and military forces. Union leaders are murdered, free thinking independent teachers are prosecuted. Two million people are displaced in their own country by state-inspired terror, while the media presents it as a territorial dispute between guerrillas and the paramilitary.
In Colombia, it said, "democracy" is the mask of a political regime perpetrating atrocities which are the same as the worst dictatorships, with military forces trained in the military schools of the US. Their corrupt electoral system serves the conservative and estate-owning forces.
"Plan Colombia" is just another version of US intervention to secure a dominant position in Latin America, Venezuelan petroleum and the fabulous resources of the Amazon. Under the false pretext of fighting the Colombian uprising, they intend to destroy our social organisations and allow the free penetration of big business, it said. "Plan Colombia" is in reality a war plan against the Colombian people. Only an oligarchic regime can guarantee the strategic interests of the United States in Colombia.
The consequences of "Plan Colombia" are disastrous: in the Department of Putumayo, in the south of the country, aerial fumigation with reinforced "glifotaso" has caused enormous damage to the environment and domestic animals. The army disguised as paramilitaries have assassinated 1,350 peasants. In December and up to now in January, 300 deaths have been recorded in La Dorada, 500 in La Hormiga, 450 in El Placer, 19 in Pierto Colón in the Department of Putumayo, and 50 in Curillo in the Department of Caquetá.
As peasants have been pushed back into the Amazonian forest, and as they continue cultivating cocaine and the poppy in order to survive because of the absence of any plan for a substitute crop, the environment is in danger of being devastated.
This social and economic problem will not be solved by military action. The problem is social and economic: 90% of the land is in the hands of 10% of the landlords; of the 12 million inhabitants of the countryside, one and a half million own no land at all, and 8 million peasants live in total poverty.
In traditional Colombian culture, the statement said, the coca leaf is sacred and used to fight hunger and thirst. Responsibility must be borne by the countries whose large economies create the demand. The United States has a dual morality, maintaining prohibition but preventing the export of our legal resources. After the coca leaf is treated with chemicals produced and sold by the big transnational companies of the US and Europe, not by the average peasant or cultivator, but by others, and thus turned into cocaine, it is worth many trillions of dollars (estimated to be $600 billion per year). Drugs trafficking is second only to arms trading as a capitalist business. The war against coca is only aimed to inflate the price of cocaine, chemical drugs and weapons. It has been shown that each hectare of land destroyed is triplicated instantly.
We need a plan for a legal substitute to cultivate, the statement said. Peasants who have been displaced need to be able to return to their land with compensation.
The statement concludes: We are a people who want our dignity, who deserve it, as we deserve your solidarity, all the peoples of the world. We are a people in resistance against globalisation.
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