Mexico: hope for justice for 43 murdered students dims
For a moment it appeared there might be a scrap of justice for the families of the 43 Ayotzinapa students who were kidnapped and murdered in September 2014. But again hopes were dashed.
The disappearances occurred eight years ago. The few students who escaped accused security forces of spraying buses with bullets as the group traveled to Mexico City. The 43 victims were never seen alive again. The atrocity galvanized the public and led to ongoing protests demanding justice. Supporters and families believe the murders were planned and carried about by the military, police, and local cartels. And with the knowledge of various levels of government.
When retired army general José Rodríguez Pérez, the commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion when the kidnappings occurred, was charged with the murders in August 2022, it felt as though things might be changing. However, the “Report on Ayotzinapa” presented by Undersecretary of the Interior Alejandro Encinas shifted blame to low-level officials and criminals.
Critics say the report sounds strong, including saying the vanished students were victims of “state-sponsored crime,” and alleging that agents from several government organizations cooperated with elements of organized crime to commit the killings. But the report let off the hook the top generals and officials who orchestrated the ambush.
“Mothers and fathers of the disappeared students rejected it outright” according to the POS (Partido Obrero Socialista). “For Encinas and AMLO the army was only negligent. By contrast for the Ayotzinapa community, it was the main actor in the aggression and the repression against their youth and was an accessory to the criminals involved.”
What is clear in this case is the collusion between the government, military and cartels. What is needed is to root out the corruption at the heart of this massacre and demand that all who were involved, regardless of rank or position, are punished so the families can finally have justice. — MV
Former leftist Lula retakes presidency in Brazil
By a razor-thin margin — 50.9% to 49.1% — Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, was elected Brazil’s next president at the end of October. It was as much a vote against outgoing-President Jair Bolsonaro as it was a vote for Lula.
Bolsonaro, a right-wing climate change denier, used every dirty trick to win, including harassment of his opponent’s supporters. And after Bolsonaro’s loss, there were concerns of a Trump-like coup attempt. For two days he refused to concede as his backers blocked traffic in São Paulo and beyond.
But he eventually bowed to pressure and conceded.
So who is Lula? Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former militant union organizer, is one of the “pink tide” leaders in Latin America, who present themselves as left-wing social democrats. They promise to better the lives of working people and the poor. In reality, these politicians — like AMLO (Mexico), Morales (Bolivia) and Maduro (Venezuela) — all defend capitalism with attacks on the environment and social safety net.
Lula did this the first time he was president, 2003-2011. Yes, he curtailed child hunger and produced more affordable housing. But he also gutted public workers’ pensions and sold off state-owned enterprises to advance the interests of multinational corporations and the rich.
In this most recent election, many voted for Lula due to his pledges to protect the Amazon rainforest. And the Huffington Post reported that, during his first official speech, the president-elect pledged to “fight for zero deforestation” and combat illegal logging, mining and ranching.
Strong words, yes, but it is unlikely Lula will be up for the job. History proves it is not possible for the profit-driven system of capitalism to peacefully co-exist with fair treatment of working people, Indigenous communities or the environment. And politicians like Lula, no matter how left sounding their rhetoric, exist to serve capitalism. — MV
Biden continues bloody US warmongering in Somalia
Since the spring of 2022 President Biden ramped up the so-called “war on terrorism” in Somalia. At the Pentagon’s behest, he reversed a decision under Trump to remove 500 U.S. ground forces from the area. In 2022 alone, AFRICOM, the U.S. African Command, conducted at least six airstrikes in Somalia, killing over 24 people who are reportedly members of the militant Islamic group al-Shabab. So much for Biden’s promise to end the forever wars.
In early November, al-Shabab detonated car bombs in Mogadishu that killed 100 people. In retaliation, the U.S. has put sanctions on eight individuals and entities. Airstrikes, ground raids, car bombs and sanctions — who ends up suffering? The people of the region.
The U.S. intervening in Somalia in the name of fighting terrorism is nothing new. Over the past 15 years AFRICOM has run amok in Somalia with over 260 airstrikes and ground raids. The U.S. spent more than $2.2 billion on so-called security assistance since 2009 in these efforts to supposedly root out terrorism.
Most Americans probably have no idea how much of their tax dollars are being used on military programs in Africa overall. According to The Intercept, the U.S. has poured $1 billion of military assistance into nations of the Sahel in Western Africa since 9/11.
As predicted, these security assistance programs have done nothing to stop terrorism, and have had abysmal payoffs for the people of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. This area of Africa has seen four times the number of violent extremist events since 2019. One could argue this increase is in alignment with U.S. military interventions in the region.
As usual, Uncle Sam is protecting the interests of homegrown capitalists, not those of the African people. Biden was right on one thing. It is time to end the forever wars. — MM