December 23, 2009

Conversation with Jim Stanford (Hoping for an interview in February 2010 so stay tuned!)

Jim Stanford is one of Canada’s best-known economists. He works for the Canadian Auto Workers union, Canada’s largest private sector trade union, and writes a regular economics column for the Globe and Mail. He speaks regularly to the media on current economic issues, and to audiences of unions, community activists, and others concerned with building a more democratic, critical approach to economics. He received his Master’s degree in Economics from Cambridge University, U.K., and his Ph.D. from the New School for Social Research in New York City. He was the founding chairperson of the Progressive Economics Forum, Canada’s network of progressive economists. He is the author of several books including Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism

His previous book, Paper Boom (James Lorimer & Co., 1999), was well-reviewed as an accessible critique of the wasteful practices of the financial industry.


The   B u l l e t
Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 289
December 21, 2009

Shambles in Copenhagen

Greg Albo

The United Nations conference to address climate change in Copenhagen over the last week has illustrated several crucial features about the contemporary political setting, as Obama completes a year in power in the United States, NATO plots a military surge into the war setting spanning Palestine to Afghanistan and an economic recovery staggers along.

First, in the current balance of social forces in North America and globally, it is impossible to get committed political action to change the existing economic model of development. This is in the specific sense of a reform of the fossil fuel-dependent, outward-oriented, finance-led, labour-repressing economic model of neoliberal globalization; and in the larger sense of a rupture with the ecologically-destructive profit-driven system of capitalism.

Second, it is clear that despite the financial crisis of 2007-09, there has been no break with the power structures of neoliberalism: any interference in market relations to shift distributional relations (including the relations with how much humans withdraw from nature) is blocked (as opposed to government interventions to preserve the power of banks and financial capital); finance capital remains a central force backing the financialization and commodification of the environment; and that the U.S. state and imperialism remains at the core of global decision-making and the ordering of the relations between states. While there are cracks and some modulations in these power structures (notably, the rise of China, Brazil and India), there is no dramatic shifting in power alliances so as to open new vistas for alternate developments (although the interventions at Copenhagen of Bolivia, Venezuela – leaving aside some aspects of their own oil and gas policies for the moment – and others in the ALBA pact were notable for their insistence that an alternate path is more necessary than ever).

Third, the turn to market environmentalism of so much of the environmental movement in North America has been in equal parts political and ecological disasters. This effort to form alliances with the capitalist classes and the state within the confines of neoliberalism has done nothing to advance solutions to the most crucial ecological issue of the day – carbon emissions reduction. At the same time, it has shifted the ecology movement to the political right where it spends most of its time in concertation with governments and business and the rest spinning out green entrepreneurship and localism as solutions to global economic and environmental crises.

There is a particular tragedy here of the ecology movement embrace of the market over the last decade as a solution to ecological problems and especially greenhouse gas reductions (GHG). This is the best GHG reduction strategy that can immediately be implemented – but also better for the long-run in its focus on quality of growth and human development and not quantity of sustainable capitalist growth – lies with many of the traditional demands of the Left.

Some of these are: worktime reduction and increased leisure-time; massive expansion of collective services such as daycare, education, parks, recreation facilities, museums, and so on; increased funding of the ‘grant economy’ for cultural workers, community festivals and the like; a mass shift to public transportation funded by long-term (50 year) bond floats; major income redistribution to account for the huge class differences in causing environmental degradation; increased worker input into the ecological and health conditions of labour processes; expansion of the cooperative and worker-controlled enterprise sectors as a basis for building alternate local communities; debt relief for the global south; mass transfer of sustainable technologies; sharply constrained growth in the north to provide room for higher equalizing growth in less developed zones; and so forth.

From this foundation, it is the possible to integrate energy-switching strategies, retro-fitting, carbon taxes and so forth in a way that builds actual alternate social and ecological relations in a system of responsible production. Instead, the mainstream of the North American environmental movement has been absorbed in the politically fruitless and intellectually dishonest pursuit of a cap-and-trade financial-market led strategy for carbon emissions reduction – like bloodletting, a cure that can only worsen the disease. [See “The Story of Cap and Trade”]

There is only one good thing to have come out of the Copenhagen debacle. The sordidness of the final agreement may well stall extensive implementation of the cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, and the ‘clean development mechanisms’ foisted on the global south– the latest mechanism of imperialism – in the name of GHG reduction. Well, maybe another positive note: it showed clearly the Conservative government of Stephen Harper in Canada toadying behind the U.S., bought and paid for shills of the Alberta oil and gas industry and as strong of defenders of neoliberalism as exist anywhere on the planet. Now the whole world can see what Canadians should know well: the ‘ugly Canadian’ can no longer be shielded by nationalist cultural mythologies.

The Bullet prints here two important interpretations of the Copenhagen events and the political openings they might signal.

Why We Took to the Streets

Maude Barlow and Andrea Harden-Donahue

Inaction from business interests and political leaders in Copenhagen
has forced the rebirth of the movement founded in Seattle

When stuck between a rock and a hard place, there comes a time when a decision must be made. Will you lie down and suffer or choose to push with all of your will to move the rock out of your way?

Caught between increasing marginalization at, and exclusion from the Bella Center (the site of the climate negotiations) and the failure of the summit to address the climate crisis, the Dec. 16 Reclaim the Power march in Copenhagen chose to move the rock. The march, thousands strong, literally pushed for climate justice.

Joining this multi-faceted mass action of non-violent civil disobedience were people from all around the world organized in diverse networks.

The objective was not to close down the summit but rather, for one day, to open a space in the UN area for a people’s assembly. Hundreds of delegates, led by members of the Bolivian delegation and the Indigenous Peoples Caucus, walked out of the Bella Center to join with the thousands of people on the other side of the fence. People were attempting to overcome physical barriers that stood in the way of holding the people’s assembly and uniting the two groups.

It is of fundamental importance to emphasize that there was no violence on the part of demonstrators.

While the action was one of civil disobedience, it was non-violent; the demonstrators did not respond to police with violence. Video footage clearly attests that participants remained peaceful, which is no easy task when your eyes are burning from pepper spray and tear gas and your body is bruised from batons. We personally witnessed police officers clubbing protesters, large police trucks being used to herd protesters to the point of falling over and police dogs being used for intimidation.

Some will question whether this was necessary. But this action physically and visually demonstrated against the direction climate talks had taken.

Despite the responsibility for emitting more than two-thirds of historical greenhouse gas emissions into an atmosphere all life shares, most developed countries continue to resist deep emission cuts. While it appears there may be short and long-term commitments to climate financing emerging from Copenhagen at the time of writing, the numbers are still below predicted need, particularly if states fail to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.

There are also legitimate concerns being raised about the sources for funding and potential conditions.

On the streets, false solutions discussed in the Bella Center were denounced. This included examples such as carbon offsets, which allow corporations to avoid reducing emissions in the global North by purchasing credits generated by projects in the global South – projects which often do little to reduce emissions and can cause serious social and environmental harm.

There is a lot of concern and, yes, even anger at the fact that so many voices and perspectives have been actively silenced from official talks.

Deep concern has been expressed about the role of corporations and the business lobby. While most accredited non-governmental organizations were shut out in the final days of negotiations, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (known to advocate for industry self regulation as well as promoting carbon capture and storage and global carbon markets) hosted a side event alongside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on Dec. 16, with privileged access to key decision makers. It is not a stretch to see how profit-driven business interests can and do conflict with the objective of addressing the climate crisis and advancing climate justice – ensuring this process reduces inequity and promotes greater equality.

Further, with insiders reporting that U.S. negotiators were likely to back the World Bank as the trustee of a new climate fund, it appeared that we would see more business as usual. The World Bank has shown disregard for the transition to a low-carbon future, continuing to significantly fund fossil fuel development and promoting problematic carbon markets.

The movement behind the Reclaim the Power action challenges the world to recognize that we cannot address the climate crisis until we recognize root causes of this crisis, including unsustainable production, consumption and trade. Real solutions have been much of the focus at the Klimaforum, the alternative peoples summit in Copenhagen.

Real solutions discussed include keeping fossil fuels in the ground, respect for indigenous land rights, just transition plans for workers and communities, water as a commons, climate reparations for the global South, vastly increased conservation and energy efficiency, locally owned and controlled sustainable energy alternatives and agriculture as well as sustainable transportation. These solutions are intimately tied to building a just economy for people and planet, where the pursuit of economic growth does not trump public interest.

Ten years ago a highly effective civil society movement was born in Seattle to challenge the domination of transnational corporations in determining economic, social and environmental policy through the World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund. The climate justice movement has transformed Copenhagen into the second coming, direct descendant of Seattle.

This is why the Reclaim the Power action was of such importance and this is why the Council of Canadians took to the streets in Copenhagen.

Maude Barlow is national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, and Andrea Harden-Donahue is an energy campaigner with the Council of Canadians.

“Imperial” Climate Deal
Rejected by Poor-Country Delegates

Speaking on behalf of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela took the floor at the plenary of the COP15 climate talks in Copenhagen to denounce the final “deal” that was soon to emerge and be imposed on the majority poor-country delegates, and which would fall far short of their demands. Chávez accused U.S. President Barack Obama of behaving like an emperor “who comes in during the middle of the night … and cooks up a document that we will not accept, we will never accept.”

Chávez declared that “all countries are equal.” He would not accept that some countries had prepared a text for a climate deal and just “slipped [it] under the door” to be signed by the others. He accused them of “a real lack of transparency.”

“We can’t wait any longer, we are leaving … We are leaving, knowing that it wasn’t possible getting a deal,” he said.

Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, also took the floor to express annoyance at the way a climate deal was being thrashed out by a small group of world leaders at the last minute. “If there is no agreement at this level, why not tell the people?”, he said at the plenary meeting. He called for further consultations with the people.

“Who is responsible?” Morales asked. Concluding that “the responsibility lies on the capitalist system – we have to change the capitalist system.”

Sham Deal

The so-called “Copenhagen Accord” was pushed by the U.S. and Australia, and sealed in meetings behind closed doors with the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa. It was announced by Obama late on the evening of December 18, and presented as “final” even before the COP15 delegates had a chance to vote on it. It does not commit governments to interim 2020 carbon emissions-reduction targets, or to legally binding reductions and only expresses a general aim of limiting the global warming increase to 2 degrees Celsius – well above the 1 degree C-1.5 degree C target most delegations were calling for.

Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, delegation head of the G77 group of developing countries, rejected the accord and vowed to fight it. “Obama, acting the way he did, definitely established that there’s no difference between him and the Bush tradition,” he told Time magazine.

Nnimmo Bassey, prominent Nigerian environmentalist and chair of Friends of the Earth International, described Copenhagen as “an abject failure.”

“Justice has not been done. By delaying action, rich countries have condemned millions of the world’s poorest people to hunger, suffering and loss of life as climate change accelerates. The blame for this disastrous outcome is squarely on the developed nations. We are disgusted by the failure of rich countries to commit to the emissions reductions they know are needed, especially the U.S., which is the world’s largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases.

“In contrast African nations, China and others in the developing world deserve praise for their progressive positions and constructive approach. Major developing countries cannot be blamed for the failure of rich industrialised countries.

“Instead of committing to deep cuts in emissions and putting new, public money on the table to help solve the climate crisis, rich countries have bullied developing nations to accept far less. Those most responsible for putting the planet in this mess have not shown the guts required to fix it and have instead acted to protect short-term political interests.”

“Real Leadership” On The Streets

“The only real leadership at the conference has come from the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who’ve come together to demand strong action to prevent climate catastrophe. Their voices are loud and growing – and Friends of the Earth International will continue to be part of the fight for climate justice.”

Greenpeace criticised the accord for not having “targets for carbon cuts and no agreement on a legally binding treaty.” Oxfam International called the deal “a triumph of spin over substance. It recognises the need to keep warming below two degrees but does not commit to do so. It kicks back the decisions on emissions cuts and fudges the issue of climate cash.”

The “accord” confirms the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Developed countries commit collectively to providing $30-billion (U.S.) in new, additional funding for developing countries for the 2010-2012 period. It also says developed countries support “a goal of mobilising jointly 100 billion dollars a year” by 2020 from a variety of sources.

Erich Pica, president of the Friends of the Earth (USA), said that the:

“Climate negotiations in Copenhagen have yielded a sham agreement with no real requirements for any countries. This is not a strong deal or a just one – it isn’t even a real one. It’s just repackaging old positions and pretending they’re new. The actions it suggests for the rich countries that caused the climate crisis are extraordinarily inadequate. This is a disastrous outcome for people around the world who face increasingly dire impacts from a destabilising climate…

“With the future of all humans on this planet at stake, rich countries must muster far more political will than they exhibited here. If they do not, small island states will become submerged, people in vulnerable communities across the globe will be afflicted with hunger and disease, and wars over access to food and water will rage.

“The devastation will extend to those of us who live in wealthy countries,” said Pica. “The failure to produce anything meaningful in Copenhagen must serve as a wake up call to all who care about the future. It is a call to action. Corporate polluters and other special interests have such overwhelming influence that rich country governments are willing to agree only to fig leaf solutions. This is unacceptable, and it must change.

“Fortunately, while the cost of solving the climate crisis rises each day we fail to act, the crisis remains one that can largely be averted. It is up to the citizens of the world – especially citizens of the United States, which has so impeded progress – to mobilise and ensure that true solutions carry the day. I firmly believe that together, we can still achieve a politics in which climate justice prevails.” •

This article originally published by Links.


Waffle ‘s 40th anniversary

Toronto hosts a party for the party within a party.

Dateline: Monday, December 21, 2009

by Tracy Morey

“There may not be pie in the sky, but there are waffles with maple syrup.”
— Mel Watkins

The political was personal, and even passionate, at the 40th anniversary soiree for the Waffle in late November. More than 60 Wafflers, spouses and fans attended. All of them had all been deeply touched by the movement. At a downtown Toronto restaurant, they wined, dined, mingled and — naturally — went to the microphone.

“Life in the Waffle was the most joyous period of my life,” said Mel Watkins, who originated the idea of an anniversary event.

“We did great politics together and we left our mark. Just check out Wikipedia or the Oxford Canadian Dictionary.” Besides the definition for the lower case waffle, the OCD dictionary refers to the upper case Waffle as a “specific Canadian meaning”: a caucus of NDP members formed in 1969 to promote a socialist, nationalist agenda involving independence for Canadian labour movement, support for Quebec and advancement of the feminist movement.

Jim Laxer told the group he’s not nostalgic for the old days, “because the fights of then, we’re still fighting. The things we said would happen, happened. We fought the petroleum industry and look at it now.” He recalled a 1972 Waffle conference in Windsor, attended by 400 auto workers, about the future of the industry and the idea of a Canadian auto industry.

“And what’s happening now is a disgrace. We need an agenda to re-build the transportation industry to meet the peaking of oil.”

Nor is the Waffle a closed chapter. Says Laxer: “You’d be surprised at the number of students who beat a path to my door to talk about it. There are hundreds of thousands of progressive young people in the country.”

There was something very special about what Wafflers shared, Patricia Smart told the group. “There was a sense of passion for this country that was intellectual as well as political. We were lucky, it was a fun and unique moment in Canadian history.”

Doris Jantzi said that, for her part, “Speaking from the trenches, the Waffle was the Ph.D. I didn’t do. It was a wonderful learning experience, from political economy to how splits happen.”

Gordon Laxer came from Edmonton to his Toronto home-town to co-emcee the party. He was eager to “join in, remember the cause we fought for together, the relationships, our youth.” Gord re-created the original Waffle buttons that read “Nixon Drinks Canada Dry.” He sold them at the party, as a fund-raiser for Alberta’s progressive Parkland Institute.

Co-emcee Kelly Crichton lamented the Waffle’s passing because “now we’re stuck with one of the meanest, nastiest governments in Canadian history.

“Do you sometimes feel as if you’re living in a Margaret Atwood dystopia, huddled around the fire in the middle of a depleted forest as she comes toward you leading group of poor people? But, hey, we’re here together, gathered round a pizza oven, so let’s enjoy ourselves while we can.”

Ellie Prepas was a 1960s visionary whom the Waffle failed to heed. “I had no background in politics or history, I believed as a young person that the environment was as important as anything…people and the environment, we should treat both with equal care. But that wasn’t mainstream at the time.”

Kim Malcolmson interjected only two sentences at the microphone: “When the War Measures Act was declared, only 1 percent of English Canadians opposed it. We had a lot of courage in opposing it — good for us!”

Linda Hutcheson recalled her parents, Bob and Edna Laxer, who had been such eminences in the movement. “I remember my father coaching Bonnie Benedik, who was to speak at a rally in support of striking workers at the Dare Cookie plant in Kitchener in the early 1970s. Standing at the other end of his house, he trained Bonnie to shout out her words, believing that she would be very timid on the day of the protest. There were 5,000 people at the event and Bonnie began ‘Brothers and Sisters’ at a volume which practically blew away the labour leaders on the platform.”

Learning to speak at the mikes was a big part of the development for women in the Waffle, recalls Pat Smart, who delivered a paper on Waffle Women at a one-day Waffle conference at the University of Manitoba in October 2009. “We put key women’s issues on the agenda in this country. Waffle women were pioneers. There was daycare at Waffle meetings. We promoted universal childcare, abortion rights, equal pay and parity for women on the governing structures of the NDP.”

Women in the Saskatchewan Waffle had a strong impact on the movement in the rest of the country. One of them, Maija Kagis, came to the Toronto party straight from a 70th-birthday party in Regina for Lorne Brown, one of the architects of the Waffle. She noted that, in Saskatchewan, women won parity on all NDP councils in 1971. “We were more integrated into the party and a Waffler was president of the provincial NDP.”

Jack Murray was president of the Ontario NDP when the issue of gender parity on the party’s federal council came up. He told the group about a meeting where CLC president Bob White noted that the major argument against gender parity seemed to be that it might lead to some token women on the federal executive. “Bob said that having put up with many ‘token men’ from various unions and labour bodies over the years, he didn’t see how some token women would make things any worse. Then we voted in favour of it.”

Being at the 40th anniversary party “is rejuvenating,” said John Smart. “I feel it more and more as I’m here with you.” He had the same feeling in Ottawa last year when he organized a 75th anniversary event for the Regina Manifesto, attended by almost 100 people, including Mps and local city councillors.

Howard Kaplan noted that he used to take his two children to most Waffle events and meeting. “They still remember. The demos and indoctrination had a great effect on them. One is an acupuncturist and the other is a labour lawyer.”

You know you’re old when there’s an archivist at the your anniversary party. Suzanne Dubeau of York U also attended the party, to encourage folks to hand over their files, documents and momentos for the Archives Waffle collection. Paul Barber explained to the guests that there’s a tax credit for such donations. “So, there’s gold in them there old files.”

Cy Gonick came to the soiree from Winnipeg, and distributed copies of the Nov-Dec 2009 issue of Canadian Dimension, the grand and enduring magazine of the Canadian left.

“We had radical ideas,” he told the group, “nationalizing the commanding heights of the economy, the rights of Quebec, a bold exit from the U.S. empire, workers’ control.We failed for a good reason — it couldn’t be done. And the NDP couldn’t be an anti-capitalist or anti-imperialist party.

“In my view, we need something like the Waffle today. I’d like another kick at the can.”


Media Releases


Anti-Mining Activist Ramiro Rivera Murdered in El Salvador;
Demand an investigation and an end to the murders!

Ramiro Rivera Gómez, vice-president of CAC
(Comité Ambiental de Cabañas/Environmental
Committee of Cabañas) and a local leader in the
community struggle against the
environmentally-destructive gold mining projects
proposed by Pacific Rim, was assassinated on
Sunday, December 20, 2009 in the Trinidad
neighborhood of Ilobasco, in the department of
Cabañas where he lived.

Héctor Berríos (report attached below) reports
that Ramiro Rivera was killed by hitmen carrying
M-16 rifles. Ramiro's thirteen-year old daughter
who was with him on Sunday afternoon was also
injured but is reportedly in stable condition.

On August 7 of this year, Ramiro Rivera was shot
8 times, but survived the vicious attack. Oscar
Menjívar, previously implicated in physical
attacks on anti-mining activists, was arrested
and charged with Ramiro's attempted murder.
Community members report that Menjívar had
previously worked for Canadian mining company
Pacific Rim; Pacific Rim denies that he has ever
been an employee.

Since his recovery, Mr. Rivera had been under the
protection of two police officers from the
Witnesses and Victims Protection Unit of the
National Civilian Police. On the afternoon of
December 20th, they were apparently unable to
protect him.

Since June of 2009, when anti-mining and FMLN
activist Marcelo Rivera (no relation to Ramiro)
was found tortured and killed in Cabañas, there
have been continued attacks, death threats and
attempted kidnappings of community members and
activists who have vehemently opposed the
proposed El Dorado gold mine. The Ministry of
Environment denied mining exploitation permits to
Pacific Rim, a Vancouver-based mining company,
which subsequently announced a $77 million dollar
lawsuit against the Salvadoran government under
CAFTA, the U.S.-Central America Free Trade
Agreement (watch the Real News video HERE

Despite the overtly political overtones of this
wave of violence, local police authorities and
the former Attorney General's office have
classified these cases as common crimes.
Salvadorans are fearful and outraged by the
continued violence but also by the inability or
unwillingness of the police and the office of the
Attorney General to protect community activists
like Ramiro Rivera and to halt the violence.

Join the international response to this
repression of anti-mining organizers in Cabañas
TODAY. Call on the Salvadoran authorities to
carry out an exhaustive investigation of these
crimes and their motives.


1) E-mail Rodolfo Delgado, head of the
Organized Crime unit of the Attorney General's
Office (Sample e-mail text at the end of this
alert) Please copy Human
Rights Ombudsman Oscar Luna to your email, via
his front desk:

2) In Canada please email:
Hon. Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Paul Dewar, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic,
Joanne Deschamps, Bloc Québecois Foreign Affairs Critic,
Bob Rae, Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic,

SAMPLE E-MAIL (English translation below):

Estimado Señor Rodolfo Delgado:

Como miembro de la comunidad internacional,
quiero expresar mi profunda preocupación por lo
más reciente hecho de violencia contra un líder
social en Cabañas, el asesinato de Ramiro Rivera
Gómez. Después de que él fue baleado ocho veces
en agosto del 2009, fue bajo la protección de la
Unidad de Protección de Víctimas y Testigos de la
Policía Nacional Civil.

El asesinato de Ramiro Rivera parece otro hecho
de violencia sistemático que ha traspasado en
Cabañas desde el junio de este año: el secuestro
y brutal asesinato del activista Gustavo Marcelo
Rivera; las amenazas de muerte a periodistas de
Radio Victoria, al director de la Asociación de
Desarrollo Económico y Social Santa Marta (ADES)
y a varios líderes comunitarios de Cabañas; el
sabotaje al sistema electrónico de Radio
Victoria; y los intentos de asesinato de los
líderes comunitarios, Padre Luis Quintanilla y
Ramiro Rivera.

Considero que existen suficientes evidencias para
presumir que el asesinato de Ramiro Rivera y los
demás crímenes están relacionados y forman parte
de una campaña para intimidar a las
organizaciones sociales en Cabañas. Es
preocupante que la Fiscalía, bajo la dirección de
Ástor Escalante, adjudicó a priori estos crímenes
a la violencia común, ignorando las evidencias y
antecedentes presentados que indican la
naturaleza política de los eventos.

Por lo tanto como miembro de la comunidad
internacional, hago un llamado para que ahora
bajo la dirección del nuevo Fiscal General de la
República Romeo Barahona, la Fiscalía realice una
investigación imparcial, exhaustiva y efectiva en
el caso del asesinato de Ramiro Rivera y de todos
estos casos, para dar a conocer a los autores
intelectuales y materiales de estos crímenes y
garantizar así la protección de los líderes
sociales en la región de forma verdadera.

Después del asesinato de Marcelo Rivera en junio,
más de cien organizaciones de los Estados Unidos
y Canadá mandaron una carta a la Fiscalía
expresando su preocupación grave con los
atropellos a los derechos humanos. También el
Congresista Jim McGovern de los Estados Unidos
expresó la misma preocupación en reuniones con el
Señor Fiscal General, Romeo Barahona, y
representantes de la Administración del Señor
Presidente Mauricio Funes, durante su visita
reciente a El Salvador.

También le estoy mandando una copia de este
mensaje al señor Procurador para la Defensa de
los Derechos Humanos, licenciado Oscar Humberto
Luna, quien ha mostrado un compromiso fuerte para
proteger la seguridad y los derechos humanos de
los líderes sociales en Cabañas.

De quedar estos eventos en la impunidad, se
estaría generando un clima de temor e
incertidumbre para los demás líderes
comunitarios, contrarrestando así los avances
logrados en el proceso de democratización del

Agradezco de antemano sus gestiones para agilizar
las investigaciones y espero que pronto se haga
justicia en estos casos y se brinde protección a
las víctimas y reparación a los familiares de

[Tu nombre/ Your name]

Translation of Email:

As a member of the international community, I
want to express my profound concern about the
most recent act of violence toward a community
leader in Cabañas: the assassination of Ramiro
Rivera Gómez. After being shot eight times in
August, Mr. Rivera was under the protection of
the Victims and Witnesses Protection Unit of the
National Civilian Police.

The assassination of Ramiro Rivera appears to be
another systematic act of violence that has
occurred in Cabañas since June of this year: the
kidnapping and brutal assassination of the
activist Gustavo Marcelo Rivera; the death
threats against journalists at Radio Victoria,
the director of the Association for Social and
Economic Development (ADES) and other community
leaders in Cabañas; the sabotage of the
broadcasting equipment at Radio Victoria; and the
assassination attempt against the community
leaders Father Luis Quintanilla and Ramiro Rivera.

I believe there is sufficient evidence to assume
that Ramiro Rivera's murder and the other crimes
are linked and part of a campaign to intimidate
community organizations in Cabañas. It is
alarming that the Attorney General's Office under
the direction of former acting Attorney General
Ástor Escalante attributed these crimes to common
violence, ignoring the evidence and antecedents
that indicate the political nature of these

Therefore as a member of the international
community, I now call on the Attorney General's
Office under the leadership of new Attorney
General Romeo Barahona to carry out impartial,
exhaustive and effective investigations of the
assassination of Ramiro Rivera and all of these
crimes in order to bring to justice the
intellectual and material authors of these crimes
and guarantee the protection of other community
leaders in the region.

After the assassination of Marcelo Rivera in
June, over 100 organizations in the U.S. and
Canada sent a letter to the Attorney General's
office expressing their serious concern about the
human rights abuses. Representative Jim McGovern
of the U.S. Congress expressed the same concern
in his meetings with Mr. Attorney General Romeo
Barahona and with representatives of the
administration of Mr. President Mauricio Funes
during his recent visit to El Salvador.

I am sending a copy of this message to the Human
Rights Ombudsman, Mr. Oscar Luna, who has shown a
strong commitment to protect the security and
human rights of social movement leaders in

Leaving these crimes in a state of impunity
creates a climate of fear and uncertainty for the
rest of the community leaders, undermining the
advances in the democratic process in El Salvador.

I thank you in advance for your efforts to speed
up the investigations and I hope that there will
soon be justice in these cases and that the
victims' lives will be protected and Ramiro's
family will be compensated for their loss.

[Your name]


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