Friday, 13 April 2012

Trying to make Sense of the Falklands

I was reading the English section of Granma when I came across an article by Fidel on the curious state of affairs in Canada you know that old question about is Canada an actual independent nation or still a colony. I personally have little interest in that debate, instead I was more interested in Fidel's comments about the Falklands/Malvinas Islands.

"Likewise, the Honorable Foreign Minister of Canada does not dare to say whether or not he supports Argentina on the thorny issue of the Malvinas Islands."

Well it isn't really an issue for Ottawa, and even if Canada took a side regardless of what side I sincerely doubt either the UK or Argentina would care to do anything more then release a gloating press release or blustering denial depending on who it sided with. I've never really understood this practice Nation states have of demanding every other nation recognise them in a territorial dispute. Why should the opinions of a government with no clear interests in the dispute matter? its not like there are any consequences of choosing sides, countries that side with Britain still have diplomatic relations and trade links with Argentina and vice versa. Its not like say Palestine or Western Sahara, where the issue is about a territory wishing for independence, and the stance other nations take will have ramifications for international law and global trade.

"He has only expressed beatific wishes for peace to prevail between the two countries. But Great Britain has there its largest military base outside its territory in violation of Argentina´s sovereignty."

Remind me again weren't you supporting dozens of rebel groups throughout South America, and even Africa. Hell your best friend Ernesto (more commonly known as Che) was busy trying to set up a mutually supporting continental network of Guerrilla's to build a continent wide Revolution. I seem to remember Bolivia had quite a few armed Cubans running around in violation of that governments sovereignty.

"It did not apologize for having sunk the General Belgrano cruiser which was sailing outside the jurisdictional waters that they themselves established which led to the futile sacrifice of hundreds of youths who were doing their military service."

Well first the sinking of the Belgrano wasn't futile, its loss humiliated the Argentine Navy and caused fractures along service lines within the military Junta ruling Argentina making it less able to deal with internal enemies. Had it not been for the invasion and the subsequent conflict many of those innocent youths would have spent there military service either firing at protesters or making people "disappear" it really does astonish me how many South American Leftists seem to forget about the Military Junta and there dirty war when talking about this period, especially when some of the older ones at the time where that governments most harsh critics and provided material support to its opponents.

I will say this much, the decision by the Argentine Dictatorship to invade the Malvinas and break with the UK whom had been a close ally, especially in the war against communism carried out by the governments of South America, was an act of desperation to stave of full blown insurrection by diverting attention and igniting Argentine Patriotism by concentrating on an external enemy and its injustice to the whole Argentine nation. The conflict that followed showed not only the powerful military to be incompetent but the costs of the fighting physically weakened it snapping the stick it used to keep its people in line. As a result of this the downfall of the regime quickly followed and the full extent of its crimes where brought to light at a time when many Latin American nations still had intact Junta's shooting up opponents.

"We should ask Obama and Harper what stand they will take in the face of the just claim by Argentina to be returned sovereignty over the islands so that it is no longer deprived of the energy and fishing resources it so much needs to develop the country."

Ouch, that actually hurt to read, what he is advocating is economy over people, see what most supporters of Argentina's claim often fail to acknowledge is that the majority of the Islands current population like Gibraltar's prefer the current system over the alternatives. Unlike in other cases of disputed islands like the Kuril Islands between Japan and Russia, where there was an already existing population (in this case Japanese) whom where relocated (kicked out) for the next lot, the Argentine claim is based on the gulf of distance between Britain and the Islands compared to Argentina. That and history, but here's the problem with regards to "closeness" that's absurd, by that logic Ireland should still be part of Britain because where right next door and there's more Brits then Irish therefore are say counts more, also they do have resources that would enable the British economy to develop if exploited by British investment. In fact stating territory is yours because your bigger especially if the locals don't wish to join the fold is called annexation, and is often a product of colonialism.

And the history angle just doesn't work, virtually every nation older then a century has experienced some form of border shift, usually at there expensive. I've seen an old map that had Mongolia as part of China and Russia owning Finland and Poland, or Mexico losing most of its Northern territories. What makes these Islands in the South Atlantic special? nothing, if the historical claim holds weight in international affairs then you should brace yourself for a lot more conflict in the future.

So why then do all this Left wing politicians and thinkers suddenly so vocal about Argentina's rights? well you might think this is because Argentina has a left wing government headed by the lovely Christina Kirchner, but there's more to it then that. Certainly the knowledge that they're no longer advancing the interests of brutal right wing Generals has emboldened them certainly, but the core of the reason is simple, its good politics, just as there are no consequences for Canada choosing a side here, there is absolutely nothing to lose wagging the finger at the Queen or P.M. but they gain a little. The Malvinas for the people of South America represent a reminder of the old Colonial past when Europe (mostly Spain and Portugal) used to dominate there lands from afar. It is also thanks to the conflict a clear symbol of outside forces interfering in South American affairs. So by condemning the Brits they are reaffirming there zeal for liberation risk free. Condemning the US on the other hand despite its more prominent interference does carry some risk so its best (even for Cuba) to cool your heels and think about it first.

Also currently the second most popular trend in Latin America after Liberacion is Pan Latin American Unity, so by sticking there necks out for Kirchner Chavez and Castro and others are reaffirming there stated view that they are all the same people and are all facing the same problems and striving for the same end.
To be fair to Castro after moving on from the Falklands he does go on to criticise Canada's appalling Mining operations in the region, which have lead to environmental destruction, theft and embezzlement and even murder. Its just that business contracts are shady while a big military presence sticks out like a sore thumb. Politicians in Latin America will continue to prod the Falklands issue until the Falklanders themselves wish to accept Argentina in some form. There is a minority who wouldn't mind joining Argentina so a careful handling of the situation by Buenos Aires could in a few years build a majority, in the mean time it might be worth looking into something along the lines of an Anglo-Irish agreement over the territory to ease the process along and prevent people from getting too worked up about it.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Happy Coup Day

Hola, campesino's today's a very special day, today marks 10 years since the failed coup against President Hugo Chavez all the way back in 2002. That date is important as it showed the world that the old way of doing things in South America, banana Republics and brutal Tinpot Dictatorships, where still "on the table" in the Oval Office. Lest we foolishly think that was another Cold War relic like the Star Wars Satellite program or a rusty ICBM silo.

The coup's dismal failure also galvanised Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution and hammered home the rottenness of Venezuela's rich and powerful and the need to break there stranglehold on the nation. it also made it abundantly clear that rapprochement with Washington was impossible so might as well press ahead with the regional projects such as ALBA. However the continuing poor relations between the two nations has lead to a lot of misinformation about Venezuela and Chavez himself, thats why its important that independently minded continues to produce factual accounts of Chavez and 21st Century Socialism.

Speaking of facts heres a couple of documentaries I dug up.

Excerpt from Inside the Revolution

And the Iconic the Revolution Will Not be Televised (Full film)

No Volveran (Full film)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Student Protests in Saudi Arabia

News about protests in "friendly" Arab regimes like Bahrain or Saudi Arabia is few and far between, fortunately independent media exists and likes to poke its nose where the mainstream don't go till the PR men give the go ahead. Saudi Arabia has actually had numerous protests many of them lead by students, some have been suppressed others resolved peacefully.

Below is an interview with the spokeswoman for a protest at a women's University over the lack of a Library and the refusal of the University to meet with or listen to its students grievances. Yes you read that right a proper University with Degree's had no Library. Thankfully this was one of the protests that ended peacefully, while its light on details it does give a rare glimpse into the workings of the fundamentalist absolute Monarchy.


"As protests across the Middle East have gotten headlines - from Egypt to Yemen, Tunisia to Syria - unrest in Saudi Arabia, though on a much smaller scale, has attracted much less attention. That changed earlier this month, when dozens of students at King Khaled University in the south of the country were injured as they protested conditions at the school. According to Arab Network for Human Rights Information, protests have also taken place in other cities. In Taibah University in the city of Medina, one student was expelled for publicly criticizing the conditions on campus during an open meeting with the director. For more, we're joined by Shaima Al-moaddi, she's a student from King Khaled University in Abha. She was one of the protesters and is a spokesperson for the female students. We're reaching her now as she travels in the US."

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