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Engraving of Lenin busy studying

Economic and Philosophic Science Review

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested. V. I. Lenin

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No 1310 19th March 2007

Mugabe defiance is a correct response to monstrous anti-state stunts organised and provoked by western “democracy” frauds – the grotesque colonialist hypocrisy underlined by real violence constantly perpetrated by western stooges everywhere from Pakistan to Egypt. But the greatest devastation of imperialism is in the warmongering still festering in Iraq and Afghanistan and planned for escalation to get capitalism out of its “overproduction” slump crisis due. Fake-“lefts” more exposed by their capitulation to western stunts. Leninism is vital.

The monstrous “any crap will do” lies and propaganda poured out against the likes of Sudan and Zimbabwe – two of the demonised potential victims for imperialism’s world war escalation – and the increasingly hysterical nonsense about a “global warming Armageddon for mankind” (see follow on article) all have one thing in common.

They are giant diversions from – and excuses for – the real catastrophe facing the billions on this planet – the accelerating approach of the greatest capitalist crisis ever.

There is one cause – and one cause only – of all human violence and brutality and that is the ever more degenerate capitalist economic and political order, now more decayed then ever in history and able to avoid, it imagines, its total disintegration and collapse only by the imposition of increasingly bloody warmongering “shock and awe” on the planet.

But the devastating setbacks to imperialism’s plans in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine, are leading to increasingly desperate efforts to keep the warmongering hatreds on the boil.

The foulness of the lies and fascist Goebbels propaganda escalate daily – along with the capitulation and cravenness of the so-called lefts.

Which is more disgusting – the strutting and play-acting “victimhood” of the lying little nazi provocateur Morgan Tsvangirai, getting himself and his handful of western-backed supporters reams of carefully programmed capitalist world press “outrage” coverage of Zimbabwe, as they show off their deliberately provoked injuries – or the posturing, sanctimonious, mendacious, hypocrisy of the western politicians and media which followed?

Neither, is the answer – it is the craven tagging along after the imperialist Goebbels set-up spectacle with mealy mouthed halfway “condemnation” or “distancing” from Mugabe’s anti-imperialism, by the petty bourgeois South African ANC and its craven leader President Thabo Mbeki; the cowardly “embarrassment” of the African Union; and the trailing behind this of much of the fake-”left” worldwide from “Bomber” Clare Short on Question Time to the Trots (with one or two slightly more honourable exceptions) all making equally treacherous “condemnations” (just as they betray by “condemnation”, all anti-imperialist upheaval and struggle).

And the revisionist Stalinist (and Maoist) legacy has once again also demonstrated its complete ineffectuality, revealing yet again a total lack of grasp of the enormous warmongering chaos that imperialism is forcing on the world because the huge intractable contradictions in its profit-making system.

Mugabe is a particular hate figure for sad and moribund British imperialism, having exposed so clearly by armed revolutionary defeat of the fascist Smith “unilateral” colonialism, the nonsenses of an Empire “graciously handing over independence” which was used to cover over retreat from anti-imperialist revolutionary struggles around the world in the post war period (and even now in Ireland as another armed struggle for Irish freedom slowly wins justice) .

ZANU’s popularity and inspiration to the ANC armed struggle which eventually overtoppled the apartheid colonialism of the even more significant South Africa, have never been forgiven.

The British ruling class’s impotent rage has been vented routinely ever since in lies and calumnies on the relative firmness of the ZANU-PF and its eventual re-possession of plundered colonialist land “ownership” for re-distribution, rather than capitulation to western bribery and stoogery witnessed elsewhere in Africa, from Nigeria to Kenya.

Endless fabricated incident, talked up sourness from the defeated ZAPU movement (which sided with imperialism during the bitter and brutally suppressed anti-imperialist war), and demented logic, blaming the regime even for natural events, from drought to AIDs, are used to vilify the struggle to hold the country together.

Every “crop failure” is held to be a “regime failure” even as the rest of the east African countries have suffered even more devastating drought and hunger (with no western vilification for supposed “collapsing regimes”).

But Zimbabwe is also now demonised increasingly by imperialism in general as one of the spectrum of potential “axis of evil” victims from North Korea and Cuba, to Iran, Somalia, Sudan and Syria among others, being deliberately set up by endless hypocritical vilification to stir up war fever and demented “righteousness” among the more reactionary layers of the rich western countries, so that imperialism can get fully into the swing of the world wide warmongering it needs to “solve” its overproduction crisis.

Stirring up such provocations is vital if the ruling class is to overcome the now deeply inbuilt world resistance to a return once again to the warmongering of the 1914-18 and 1937-45 periods which imperialism needs to sort out the huge imbalances in overall world development and destroy the ever-growing accumulations of capital which more and more clog up its profiteering system.

The obvious normal human understanding, that in a world of desperate poverty and insane “overproduction” (and relentlessly and accelerating inequalities) it makes sense simply to re-distribute the enormous surpluses achieved by modern production to mobilise as much human potential as possible, is a million miles from the understanding of the imperialists. That would mean planned economies and the rational use of resources, with everyone able to benefit fairly from the coordinated use of labour output from billions of people (provided they worked), rather than the obscene accumulation of privilege, indolence, luxury and power for the few. Socialism in other words.

No ruling class ever gave up the sweet life and least of all the dominant US imperialism, more powerful and wealthy than any in history; nothing happening challenges the Marxist understanding that they can and will continue to impose their order for as long as they have the world’s wealth and means of production in their hands alone.

They desperately need to keep the war momentum going as the first blitzing adventures in Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan have run into increasing difficulties, stirring up a hornet’s nest of resistance and rebellion which for all its crudity, incoherence and sometimes backward ideology, has pushed the most powerful military and industrial power on the planet back on its heels.

Huge questions are now posed for world working class understanding as it becomes increasingly clear that the 800 year rule of capitalist exploitation is degenerating into paralysed collapse and war chaos, and as the billions pushed down into endless exploitation are transformed by the system into fighters against it on an increasing and irreversible scale.

But a huge vacuum is revealed in leadership, from anti-communist Trotskyism joining in the pouring of garbage on the anti-imperialists like Mugabe, to the silence from opportunist world revisionism.

Where, for example, is Beijing’s vigorous exposé of this imperialist lying stunt and, even more pertinently, the South African Communist Party’s denunciation of the supposed Movement for Democratic Change, which is neither democratic, nor wanting any change except reversion to western imperialist domination (and a comfortable stooge role for themselves as in various other corrupt east African post-colonial countries).

Where is the denunciation of the very notion that this constitutes a “movement” at all, except in the carefully organised and western intelligence-funded sense that created the fascist Ukrainian “orange revolution”, and the dozen other public-relations colour-themed bogus instant “peoples movements” from Serbia to Hungary (currently being whipped up among the Hungarian reactionary petty bourgeoisie again to create yet another deliberately violent incitement in Budapest).

Tsvangirai’s posse has even less “mass support” than those: the alleged demonstrations so carefully filmed in the run up to this deliberate confrontation with Zimbabwe’s state forces had no more than a couple of dozen people in the tightly cropped camera shots, as in a supposed “demonstration” in South Africa given prime time TV news coverage to allege some “popular opposition”.

It is a measure of the brain-deadness of revisionism that there was more inadvertently revealed about the true nazi-thug nature of Tsvangirai in a Guardian apologist editorial than in anything it has to say:

...Mr Tsvangirai is no Nelson Mandela. He has admitted lapses of judgement, such as the time he was secretly taped discussing plans to assassinate Mr Mugabe with a former Israeli spy. It was a set up and formed the basis of one of two charges of treason, of which he was acquitted. Under him, the MDC split on ethnic lines, between the Shona and Ndebele tribes, over whether to contest elections to the senate. He resisted calls to take to the streets in rigged parliamentary elections of 2000 and presidential elections two years later. Critics claim these were missed opportunities, but Mr Tsvangirai has kept faith with his people.

He is plucky and still enormously popular and he has remained a democrat. The eldest of nine children, who had to leave school early to support the family, he is largely self-taught. Despite the miscalculations, or perhaps because of them, there is something of the folk hero about the man who doggedly refuses to bow to the blows of Mr Mugabe’s truncheons.

A “lapse of judgement” (!!!!!!) to describe a months-long conspiracy, aided by the foul and vicious Zionists and plotted in the heart of the imperialist world in North America – to assassinate in cold blood the legally elected (and popular) leader of a country which has held recognised and internationally attested elections over and over again??

The only “lapse of judgement” is that Zimbabwe’s non-Marxist leadership failed to give him the treble life sentence imprisonment which such murderous anti-democratic coup plotting deserved, at the very least, and that he was free to be recruited eventually (despite fearful backing off on two occasions, as the Guardian says) for yet another theatrical nonsense.

The rough and tumble arrests which followed the carefully choreographed “prayer meeting” stunt last week, the violent resistance by Tsvangirai’s crew of the Zimbabwe state forces after carefully tailored incitements to challenge and topple the anti-imperialist Mugabe regime, hardly constitute the kind of punishment blitzings and torture now routinely handed out by the US, Britain, (and always by Western funded Zionism), to innocent Iraqi, Afganistani and Palestinian civilians, let alone those supposedly directly responsible for insurgency, opposition and hostility to western imperialist interests everywhere.

What a total joke is this “brutality” nonsense – there is more force used by the British police routinely around the clubs on a Saturday night (as they are occasionally caught out with on video).

Were Tsvangirai to have been caught in numerous western supported or controlled countries advocating the kind of violent uprising his movement has been trying to stimulate in Zimbabwe, to take advantage of the inevitable discontent and difficulties caused by economic strangulation which has been imposed for years by deliberate western blockade, he might well have simply disappeared from sight into the secret network of concentration camps such as those run by the CIA worldwide and fed by secret “rendition” kidnap flights – or just “disappeared”.

So can we suppose that when New Labourite Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett loudly and pompously lards on the hypocrisy to declare that Mugabe should be held “personally responsible” and “arraigned” for the use of truncheons to subdue the provocation, that likewise and to a far greater degree, Bush and Blair (and the entire gang of Blairite closet Moselyites) should be held immediately and totally responsible for the blitzings, tortures, massacres, and destruction which have so far killed directly at least 600,000 civilians in Iraq alone, a million before that during the long pre-war squeeze on the country (including half a million children) and which have destroyed the lives of millions more, including the more than three million desperate people who have fled Iraq and the millions more left in festering civil war hatred and chaos?

Personally responsible let it be, and let the punishment fit the crime, much of the Third World might say, and with increasing vehemence as the ferment of struggle against imperialism’s exploitation gathers momentum.

They have to tolerate the real brutality and torture on the planet imposed by any number of foul gangster, fascist and stooge regimes for imperialism, which rarely get paid attention to by the western media and the smug and complacent petty bourgeoisie so willing to be led by the nose into “virtuous” condemnations.

Consider these recent reports of the real stuff (in the serious but little read sections of the press naturally, rather than splashed for days in hysterical language on the headlines and main channel TV news):

They vanish quietly and quickly. Some are dragged from their beds in front of their terrified families. Others are hustled off the streets into a waiting van, or yanked from a bus at a lonely desert junction. A windowless world of sweat and fear awaits. In dark cells, nameless men bark questions. The men brandish rubber whips, clenched fists, whirring electric drills, pictures of Osama bin Laden. The ordeal can last weeks, months or years.

These are Pakistan’s disappeared - men and women who have been abducted, imprisoned and in some cases tortured by the country’s all-powerful intelligence agencies. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has counted 400 cases since 2002; it estimates hundreds more people may have been snatched. The phenomenon started with the great sweeps for al-Qaida suspects after September 11, but has dramatically increased in recent years, and now those who disappear include homegrown “enemies of the state” - poets, doctors, housewives and nuclear scientists, accused of terrorism, treason and murder. Guilty or innocent, it’s hard to know, because not one has appeared before a court.

An angry Pakistani public wants to know why. The disappearances are increasingly perceived as Pakistan’s Guantánamo Bay - a malignant outgrowth of the “war on terror”. This week, the issue moved centre stage with the showdown between President Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan’s chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Many believe the judge is being victimised for championing the cases of the disappeared. “These are Gestapo tactics,” says Iqbal Haider, a former minister. “The more we protest, the more innocent people are being hurt. ”..

For Abid Zaidi it started with a phone call one afternoon last April. The softly spoken 26-year-old was at work at Karachi University’s department of zoology...(it) instructed him to report to Sadder police station in the city centre. There, a handful of men were waiting for him: he believes they belonged to Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the army’s powerful spy agency. They clapped cuffs on his wrists, wrapped a band around his eyes and drove him to a cell. Then, he says, the torture started.

The men beat him, he says, with a chain, until he collapsed. He was brought to a military hospital; there doctors brushed off his pleas for help. Then he was flown to another detention centre, where he was shown graphic images of torture. “People’s skin was being removed with knives and blades and they were being drilled,” he says. “It was really terrible.” Then they hung him upside down from a butcher’s hook, his face dipping into a pool of sewage water.

The interrogators wanted Zaidi to admit his supposed part in the Nishtar Park bombings. In early April, a suicide bomber had killed 50 people at a Sunni religious gathering in central Karachi. The officials accused Zaidi, a prominent young Shia, of orchestrating the massacre. Zaidi tried to explain he was more interested in zoology than zealotry. They did not believe him.

In July, an official told him he had been sentenced to hang. Zaidi wrote a will. “I felt at peace because I knew God was with me,” he says. But it was a ruse. At 4am on the morning of the “execution”, having refused to admit his guilt, a dramatic reprieve was announced. Shortly afterwards, he underwent a lie detector test and on August 18 he was flown to Karachi. The blindfold was lifted. Zaidi was driven through the city. The car stopped, a man handed him 200 rupees (£1.80) and pushed the car door open. “He said, ‘Don’t open your eyes,’” says Zaidi. When the engine noise had receded, he found himself standing at a bus stop near Karachi University. He got down on his knees and prayed. Then he phoned his brother to take him home.

Zaidi’s account cannot be verified because, officially speaking, he was never in government custody. However a senior police officer familiar with the case describes it as a major embarrassment. “That boy was picked up by a young officer,” says the official, who asks not to be named. “[The police] knew it was the wrong guy. But they refused to listen.”

The ISI is the most powerful arm of Pakistan’s intelligence establishment, commonly referred to as “the agencies”. Founded by a British army officer in 1948 and headquartered at an anonymous concrete block in Islamabad, the ISI is famed and feared in equal part. Its influence soared during the 1980s, when it smuggled vast amounts of American-funded weapons to mujahideen guerrillas fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. More recently, it has organised guerrilla groups fighting Indian troops in Indian-controlled Kashmir. The other major agencies in Pakistan are Military Intelligence and the civilian Intelligence Bureau, and all three of these major agencies have variously been accused of rigging elections, extra-judicial assassinations and other dirty tricks.

But until 9/11, disappearances were rare. Then, in late 2001, as al-Qaida fugitives fled from Afghanistan into Pakistan, Musharraf ordered that the agencies show full cooperation to the FBI, CIA and other US security agencies. In return, the Americans would give them equipment, expertise and money.

Suddenly, Pakistan’s agencies had sophisticated devices to trace mobile phones, bug houses and telephone calls, and monitor large volumes of email traffic. “Whatever it took to improve the Pakistanis’ technical ability to find al-Qaida fighters, we were there to help them,” says Michael Scheuer, a former head of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit.

The al-Qaida hunt became a matter of considerable pride for President Bush’s close friend, the president of Pakistan. “We have captured 672 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totalling millions of dollars,” wrote Musharraf in his autobiography last year. (The boast sparked outrage at home in Pakistan and was scrubbed from later Urdu-language versions of his book.) Prize captures included the alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, who has apparently confessed to a string of terror plots after four years as a captive, and Abu Faraj al Libbi, another alleged bin Laden lieutenant. But certain innocents were also swept up in the dragnet.

Brothers Zain and Kashan Afzal, for example, were detained and beaten many times over eight months by Pakistani agents convinced they belonged to al-Qaida. Zain, now 25, remembers that, in between the thrashings, the “FBI wallahs” - a woman and two men - would come to visit. “They showed me a picture of Osama and asked if I knew him,” he says at his home in Karachi. “I told them I had only seen him on television.” As American citizens - the brothers were born in the US, where their father lives - they might have expected better treatment. Instead, they got threats. “The Americans said if we did not tell them everything, they would send us to Guantánamo Bay,” says Zain.

Like many of the disappeared, the Afzals had a colourful past that drew the attention of the agencies. According to a well-informed source, their names appeared on a list of potential recruits found on a laptop belonging to Naeem Noor Khan, an al-Qaida computer expert arrested weeks earlier, in July 2004. They were also questioned about a visit they had made to the lawless tribal belt of Waziristan. But whatever they had done, it was clearly not enough to warrant prosecution by either Pakistan or the US. In April 2005, they were brought to Lahore airport, handed a pair of airplane tickets in other people’s names, and set free.

..The American government still quietly supports the disappearances of al-Qaida suspects, says Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch, which has documented many cases. “The abuse has become even more brazen because of US complicity,” he says. He claims that American officials are regular visitors to ISI safehouses in Islamabad, Lahore and Rawalpindi where torture has occurred. They have supervised interrogations from behind one-way mirrors, he says. In FBI internal documents, he says, torture is referred to as “locally acceptable forms of interrogation”.

For some detainees the safehouses are the back door to the mysterious world of CIA “black sites” - secret prisons in Afghanistan, eastern Europe and across the Arab world where torture is allegedly rife. Marwan Jabour, a Palestinian who was picked up in 2004, recently gave an extraordinarily detailed account of life in this system. After being tortured by ISI agents in Lahore - they strapped a rubber band around his penis - he said he was moved to a “villa” in Islamabad where he was questioned by US officials. “It seemed to me that this place was controlled by Americans. They were in charge,” he told Human Rights Watch. “They would say: ‘If you cooperate, we’ll let you sleep.’” A female official told him in Arabic, “Fuck Allah in the ass.” One of four fellow Pakistani detainees bore the marks of severe torture. “You can’t imagine how much they were hurting him,” said Jabour, who was released last summer.

...most recent disappearances have nothing to do with al-Qaida. To quell an insurgency in Baluchistan - a vast western province with massive oil and gas reserves - the agencies, in particular Military Intelligence, have rounded up hundreds of suspected rebels in the past two years. Of the 99 abductions registered by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan last year, 73 were from Baluchistan. Officials believe many more have gone unreported. Shamsa Toon, a 70-year-old woman, crouches on the pavement outside Karachi’s Press Club clutching a giant photograph of her son, Gohram Saleh. He has been missing since August 8 2004, she says; this was the 166th day of her vigil. Her 13-year-old granddaughter is threatening to commit suicide if there was no news. “He’s just a cab driver, not any rebel,” she says, tears streaming down her face. “His only crime is that he is a Baluch.”

Musharraf’s officials swat the issue away with blunt denials. “I can say with authority that these people are not with any agency or government department,” says Brigadier Iqbal Cheema, head of the “crisis management cell”, which spearheads anti-terror operations, at the Interior Ministry. “Most of these people creating a hue and cry belong to the militant organisations and have jihadi backgrounds. They are involved in these activities themselves.” But the current confrontation with the chief justice has brought a renewed focus. Western diplomats are queasy about such obvious abuses from an ally they claim is “moving towards democracy”. And the death of Hayatullah Khan, a tribal journalist who was found dead last June after seven months apparently in the custody of the agencies, has further fuelled the outrage.

Last November, Chaudhry, the chief justice, ordered the agencies to “find” 41 people who had gone missing. Subsequently, half were quietly released. But the court actions have mostly just underlined the impotence of the civilian institutions in the face of a powerful military machine. When ISI lawyers plead that they “cannot locate” certain detainees, the judges can only fume and bang their benches.

Meanwhile, tearful relatives are left grasping for even a shred of news. Qazim Bugti, the mayor of Dera Bugti, a small town in Baluchistan, was picked up last November. His wife Asmat, left behind to look after their five children, weeps when she talks of her husband’s disappearance. “Does President Musharraf not have children of his own? Would he like to see them treated like this?” she says in the family’s Karachi apartment. She agrees to speak despite whispered phone warnings to keep quiet...

Several relatives say they have been instructed not to contact the media or human rights groups. Khalid Khawaja, who led a pressure group on behalf of some detainees, himself went missing last month. He was reportedly taken to Attock Fort, a notorious military prison. But the most audacious disappearance, perhaps, is that of Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost.

During his three years of captivity in Guantánamo Bay, Dost, 37, became known as the “poet of Guantánamo” for his sharp verse. After his release, he wrote The Broken Shackles of Guantánamo, and it was published in the Pashto language last September; it became an instant hit in Peshawar’s bookstalls, selling more than 10,000 copies. It also contained stinging criticism of the ISI. Weeks later, policemen in a van abducted Dost as he walked from his local mosque after Friday prayers. His brother, Badruzzaman Badr - also a former Guantánamo detainee - says, “The book is the reason behind this. They are angry about what we have written. They claim to have democracy and freedom of expression in this country, but it is not real.”


...obvious parallels between the case of the ex-Chilean dictator and that of General Efraín Ríos Montt, former dictator of Guatemala (1982-83), who is today facing extradition to Spain for human rights abuses on a grand scale.

The similarities between the legal issues presented by Pinochet and Ríos Montt are numerous. Both were military dictators who came to power in their respective Latin American countries as the result of a coup d’etat. Both were products of the cold war, enjoying US support in exchange for ruthlessly repressing any real or perceived threat of communism. Both have been accused of being the architects of widespread human rights abuses.

The case against Pinochet involved more than 3,000 deaths and disappearances at the hands of the security forces. During the 1960-96 conflict in Guatemala, as documented by a UN commission, some 200,000 people, predominantly Mayan, died or disappeared. At the height of the bloodshed under Ríos Montt, reports put the number of killings and disappearances at more than 3,000 per month. Such was the extent of the violence that in 1999 the UN commission concluded that it constituted acts of genocide.

Just as in Chile, the fight for justice for the victims of Guatemalan state repression has been long and hard. And the significance of the Pinochet and Ríos Montt cases is not only in the judgment reached by the House of Lords or Spanish authorities; it’s in the bravery of the people who’ve worked, often for years and at personal risk to themselves, collecting the evidence and testifying to establish cases that will stand up in court.

Living in Guatemala for many years, I learned how important it is to be able to support and accompany witnesses in the case against Ríos Montt. Press exposure of threats and intimidation can act as a vital deterrent, yet with many actors shunning the limelight for good reason, the human stories behind the headline-grabbing legal milestones all too often go untold.

In December 1999, in the wake of Pinochet’s arrest in London, Nobel prize winner Rigoberta Menchú and a group of Spanish and Guatemalan NGOs filed a suit in the Spanish national court against several senior Guatemalan officials, including Ríos Montt. The defendants were accused of terrorism, genocide and systematic torture.

In a momentous decision in September 2005, the Spanish constitutional court ruled that Spain had to observe the principles of “universal jurisdiction” for certain crimes. So Spanish courts had jurisdiction over crimes of international importance - such as torture, crimes against humanity and genocide - regardless of the nationality of the victims and perpetrators. An extradition warrant for the arrest of Ríos Montt was submitted the following month, and the Guatemalan constitutional court is currently considering the request.


..only in Colombia will he find an unconditional friend in President Alvaro Uribe, whom he has praised as an ally and granted billions of dollars in military aid.

But on the eve of the visit, Bush’s best friend is becoming his biggest embarrassment. Uribe leads a country mired in corruption, violence and drugs - the source of 90% of the cocaine in the US - and where critics of the government receive death threats and drug barons and death squad leaders win amnesty.

Uribe didn’t invent Colombia’s problems - it has endured 40 years of civil war and narcotics flourished long before he became president in 2002. But Uribe, who changed the constitution to permit his own re-election last year, has devised a “peace” plan that has opened the door to a future incorporation of amnestied narco-paramilitary groups into Colombian politics, who have close ties with Uribe’s own political machine. As Massachusetts congressman Jim McGovern put it: “President Uribe’s main step towards ‘peace’ has been a likely deal with the paramilitaries that will allow them to pay brief sentences in luxurious jails despite having massacred thousands of innocent people, while avoiding extradition despite having sent tons of drugs to my country.”

The paramilitary forces were formed in the 1980s to fight the leftist guerrillas. They soon became as notorious for massacres and narcotics; they robbed Colombia’s peasants of millions of acres of land, creating 3 million internally displaced victims. Since their rise in Antioquia, the province where Uribe was governor, the paramilitary have been suspected of collaboration with state security forces. The president denies that they enjoyed political protection and claims amnesty is open to all.

Some 31,000 paramilitary fighters have accepted Uribe’s demobilisation programme, gaining virtual immunity for past crimes. The president claims increased security and a dramatic drop in human rights abuse, but human rights organisations disagree and the recent discovery of mass graves attests to a four-year rise in disappearances. Nevertheless, Uribe’s Colombia has won praise from Whitehall to Washington and Colombia’s urban middle classes gave him an easy re-election last year.

But now, stimulated by the determination of Colombia’s supreme court to investigate the country’s dark underbelly, evidence of collaboration between paramilitary death squads and the administrative security department (DAS), the president’s intelligence service, has seen key members of Uribe’s political apparatus resign, disgraced or placed under arrest. An emboldened Colombian press is now demanding to know what the president knew.

Uribe’s troubles began last year when a computer was seized from a paramilitary leader known as “Jorge 40”. On it were the names of politicians who apparently collaborated with Jorge 40 to intimidate voters, seize land and kidnap or kill trade unionists and political rivals. Jorge 40 is the nom de guerre of Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, leader of the Northern Bloc of the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), a paramilitary umbrella group set up in 1997 and categorised by the US as a terrorist organisation. Tovar controlled drug trafficking on the eastern half of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Since then, eight pro-Uribe congressmen have been arrested and the foreign minister has been forced to resign.

But the most dangerous scandal for Uribe comes from the arrest of Jorge Noguera, his former campaign manager and, from 2002 to 2005, head of the DAS. Former DAS colleagues have told investigators of Noguera’s close collaboration with Jorge 40 - which included lending him Uribe’s personal armoured vehicle - and with other paramilitary leaders. The accusations include an assassination plot against Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez, the murder of political opponents, electoral fraud, doctoring police and judicial records to erase paramilitary cases. Noguera worked directly to Uribe and when the investigations began, the president appointed him consul in Milan. The supreme court has forced his return.

Before the US mid-term elections Bush might have toughed the scandal out. But a Democratic Congress is questioning a Latin America policy that has left Washington with few friends besides Uribe and asking whether he is the best recipient of the US taxpayer’s dollar.

Colombian senator Gustavo Petro’s visit to Washington this week will no doubt have further stiffened the resolve of US lawmakers. Petro has accused the president’s brother, Santiago, of helping to form paramilitary groups and of personal involvement in murders and forced disappearances. He is calling for a Congressional investigation into charges that, as governor, the president ordered a halt to an investigation into his brother’s case. The president’s response so far has been characteristic: he accused Petro, a former member of a legitimately disbanded guerrilla movement, of being a “terrorist in a business suit”. Petro has since received death threats.

Brazenly American imperialism says that Pakistan’s issues are “an internal matter” while simultaneously strutting around the world abrogating to itself the right to intervene and impose what it calls “democracy” – except of course where the outcome does not suit it, in Palestine for example, where the people chose the militancy of Hamas last year and have suffered even worse concentration camp oppression and blitzing ever since from US backed Zionism; or Zimbabwe, or Venezuela.

But Pakistan’s military dictatorship, established by coup, remains ”onside” in the “War on Terror” excuse for imperialist war escalation, and arm-twisted into the campaign against (democratically elected!) Ahmadinejad Iran, still currently number one potential victim for imperialism’s war wind-up.

But the masses there, throughout the Middle East, in Africa and South America are getting invaluable lessons about western “democracy” and righteous posturing every day – and will respond eventually with the coherent revolutionary upheaval that is the only solution to historically outmoded capitalism.

It is a struggle that will demand the highest levels of Marxist understanding, which needs re-building now. Don Hoskins


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Lots of heated debate but no Leninist light

The line-up of major reactionary forces behind the “Global warming” issue, from leading US establishment figures like presidential candidate Al Gore (highly expensive film and tour), to the whole of the ultra-opportunist and cynical membership of the fraudulent British Parliament (official Conservative policy, and equally pushed by both “right” and “left” New Labourites), has been signalling for some time that the entire bandwagon issue is a giant scam on the working class and world proletariat.

Capitalism never took up any cause that was not to its own profiteering interest in some way or another. And it has plenty of use for global Armageddon theory at present; as a blunt instrument to whip up hostility to trade war rivals like China (especially surging successful China, but India, Brazil and others too), blaming them for “uncontrolled expansionism which could destroy the world” and justifying aggression against them; as an excuse and “explanation” for impending capitalist economic disaster which all the leading ruling class figures know ,and are terrified, is due to break with unprecedented ferocity any time; to help impose draconian “belt tightening” on a scale way beyond the Great Slump of the 1930s; and as a rationale for the escalation of nuclear power construction (and the weapon grade plutonium that it produces and which is the real purpose of having it to keep ahead for the outbreak of inter-imperialist destruction and warmongering which in the capitalist framework at least, must inevitably follow).

But the extraordinary howls of hurt rage from petty bourgeois greens and fake-“lefts” this week in response to the excellent if flawed Channel Four programme challenging “Global Warming” consensus, tells an even deeper story.

As always they mostly tag along behind capitalist ideology parroting the same lies in “left” form.

Their desperation to discredit the programme with a frenzy of “pay-off” and “hidden agenda” allegations at the makers, results because it knocks away one of the biggest posturing fake-“left” perches to avoid discussing Leninist science.

There is an enormous threat to humanity at present – but it has absolutely nothing to do with human-caused global warming, however real a phenomenon that may be; it is the crisis of capitalism itself and the now terrifying, looming catastrophe that it is unleashing, already visible in the endless and rapidly “normalising” warmongering atmosphere on the planet, where monstrous bombings and massacres are becoming “too boring” to show on the news every night, and in the giant ever expanding credit bubble of paper dollars in the world which every man and his dog knows must implode with disastrous force in one way or another eventually (and not so “eventually” at that), tearing the world trading system to shreds and creating unprecedented turmoil.

The ruling class knows that the revolutionary ferment already bubbling across the entire Third World will rapidly escalate as capitalism once again demonstrates its true basic nature of universal warmongering destruction to sort out “overproduction”. Once it gets into its stride and eventually overturns capitalism to establish planned world socialism there will be no more privilege and exploitation.

Global warming’s biggest function now is to be an enormous diversion away from the truth about the immediate historic disaster currently facing the world’s billions, channelling the completely real premonitions and fears it causes for ordinary people, safely away from the scientific Marxist philosophy into a semi-mystical movement that “the end of the world is nigh”. It will be – but only for the imperialist ruling class once revolutionary communism finally gains world momentum.

The anti-communism which saturates the planet as a result of 60 post-war years of relentless lying propaganda from imperialism and the disastrous failures of revisionist “peaceful road” non-communism (beginning with Moscow’s leadership retreats and increasingly wooden incapabilities to understand the dialectical revolutionary movement of the world from the 1920s onwards) has created knee-jerk hostility and philistinism on a grand scale, leaving anything to fill the vacuum.

Virtually the entire fake- ”left” has gone along with the global warming posturing – picking up on its conveniently un-communist philosophy and capacity to provide endless hours of self-justifying smug “sackcloth and ashes” piousness. Of course they give it a “socialist” spin, with token words about the need for economic planning and fairness; but they exaggerate the issue even more, declaring that capitalism is deliberately and cynically ineffectual in dealing with it, or incapable because of its anarchic profiteering nature. All true enough but this is just more misleading reformism and a complete feint away from any difficult questions about revolution required, and messy anti-imperialist struggle currently underway.

Global warming may, or may not, be one of many dangers facing mankind and capitalism’s devastating record in world environmental damage is another reason why it has to go; but the science cannot even be understood, let alone be dealt with, now. That capitalism is deliberately muddying the waters was the most valuable revelation in the programme, not the case for or against.

Allegations of right-wing sponsorship against filmmaker Martin Durkin, and serving the interests of the oil monopolies – and many corporate bosses would not be unhappy with some conclusions – are not the point. Nor are past Revolutionary Communist Party links to the documentary makers – especially as the RCP record is as foully Trotskyist and anti-communist as any of the fake-“left”, and just as much avoiding the world capitalist crisis context vital for understanding and leadership.

The programme raised genuine scientific issues: that carbon dioxide levels in the geological record lag centuries behind global warming; that there is a much better correlation between recent temperature and sun activity than with carbon dioxide (with global cooling for four decades after the WW2); that runaway warming has stopped in the past despite the positive feedback; that atmosphere and climate models are still primitive and subject to huge effects from initial programming assumptions, etc. Scientists in subsequent TV discussions conceded these are all still open questions.

Much more importantly it demonstrated that many anti-arguments are buried away. Funding for pro-warming science has been increased tenfold by capitalist governments, while grants for research on the other side are difficult to get. Thatcher was all for it – to use against the miners and their coal and to argue for nuclear power.

“What would be in it for us, to argue for environmental sacrifices?” asked one petty bourgeois this week. Avoiding revolution and proletarian dictatorship would be the answer. DH

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles).
In the run up to the Ireland Occupied Zone election in early March.

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness spells out that defeated unionist intransigence now has to make its mind up and cooperate – as offered by republicanism – or see Ireland roll on without it

It is often said that for Sinn Féin, this or that election is the most important yet. But there is a sense that the Assembly election of 7 March marks a crucial juncture for the future course of Irish politics. This time, McGuinness believes it reflects the political reality, describing it as “a massive election” because we have now reached a “defining point” of the process: “A point where the leadership of the Democratic Unionist Party have to state whether or not they are going to join with the rest of us in the power-sharing and all-Ireland institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, and they have to do that essentially by the date of 26 March.”

McGuinness says that there is a real sense in the community in the North, and throughout the island, that we have now reached “make your mind up” time for the political leadership of unionism in terms of where they stand on these important issues.

In relation to the prospect for formation of an inclusive and fully functioning Executive after the election, he says: “I have been listening carefully to the interviews that Ian Paisley has been doing, and I get a very clear sense that we are dealing with someone who recognises that he has a big decision to make in the course of the coming period. I think he recognises that the penalty for not doing the business on 26 March will be the abolition of the Assembly sometime shortly after that date, and an announcement by the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister of the new partnership arrangements which obviously have to compensate for the refusal of unionism to share power.

“Essentially this means the unfreezing of the implementation bodies that were frozen at the time the institutions were collapsed by the British Government and David Trimble, with the assistance of elements within policing in the North - the old guard of the ruc.

“If the DUP are not prepared to do the business, then I think the governments will have no choice whatsoever but to move on and to leave the door open for the DUP to join at a later stage. I hope that it won’t come to that.

“The preferred option of the Sinn Féin leadership is the implementation of Plan A. We passionately want the Good Friday Agreement institutions up and running because we think that’s good for unionism, good for nationalism, republicanism - to have unionist leaders who are prepared to play their part in the government. Not just in terms of power sharing in the North, but taking up their responsibilities under the All-Ireland Ministerial Council - where Ian Paisley will sit with the Taoiseach, other Irish Government ministers and ourselves, developing new ways forward in a very clear all-Ireland agenda.

“Obviously, in the course of this campaign, we are awaiting a clear message from the DUP that they are prepared • to shape up to do the business. People are fed up to the back teeth of the decisions of direct rule ministers - whether it be decisions that are detrimental to our health services, our education system, the whole issue of PPS 14 and the detrimental effect that that has on rural communities, and the imposition of water charges which is increasingly a big, big issue. As far as we are concerned in Sinn Féin, in government we are going to deal with that issue with the same focus and determination that we apply to the restoration of the institutions.

“So this is going to be a top priority for Sinn Féin, because we believe that these punitive measures that are being introduced by the British are detrimental not just to our own constituents but also to those who vote for unionist politicians.

“What is increasingly coming across on the doorstep is that people want their politicians holding the levers of power, taking these big decisions, and I think the policing debate and the way Sinn Féin came through all of that is having a very profound impact on the unionist community. Increasingly now, Ian Paisley is as much under pressure from his own community as he is from the prospect of the governments moving on without him if he is not prepared to do the deal by 26 March.”

The outcome of the recent Sinn Féin Extraordinary Ard Fheis on the issue of policing was a massive endorsement of the party leadership’s position. It was a decision not without some difficulties and soul searching for many republican activists. McGuinness believes that one of the most powerful exercises that republicans have been involved in in recent years was the ‘town hall’ type meetings that were held in the run-up to the Extraordinary Ard Fheis.

“That essentially saw our community engaged in a very critical debate in terms of the issue of policing, obviously against the backdrop of the important changes that the Sinn Féin negotiators had been able to bring about.”

These negotiations were necessitated principally as a result of the decision of former Six County Direct Ruler Peter Mandelson to emasculate the Patten recommendations in legislation before the British House of Commons.

“We’ve been involved in an ongoing battle since then to overturn the damage done by Mandelson and we succeeded in doing that. We have now put all of that to the people and overwhelmingly, the vast majority within our community support the direction Sinn Féin is going, because they know that that will bring fundamental change to the issue of policing and make policing much more accountable in the North.

“Also, people have bought into the argument that powers must be transferred from British securocrats in England to local politicians here in the North. I think that mere is now overwhelming support for our position, because our people don’t want to live in a jungle and they have effectively empowered the Sinn Fein leadership to be in a position to advise people within the community where there are rapists, drug pushers, people who abuse old people - that these people have to be dealt with by a criminal justice system which meets the needs of the local community.

“Even in the course of the period from the Ard Fheis, we have had a number of incidents where elderly people have been attacked and degraded and their homes robbed. We have been very upfront about advising people in the community that they should co-operate with the police to ensure that those who abuse elderly people are effectively removed from society, and I think there is a widespread welcome in the community for the speed with which the Sinn Fein leadership has followed up on the Ard Fheis.

“These are immediate issues that need to be dealt with. I think the vast majority of people accept that we can’t wait to deal with these issues until we get a united Ireland. These are issues which are affecting people now, in their daily lives, and we have a responsibility to give courageous leadership and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

“I think people appreciate that. Travelling around, it is clear that the Sinn Fein canvass teams are getting a very encouraging response from people on the doorsteps, who are paying tribute to the decision taken at the Ard Fheis and to the way in which the Sinn Féin leadership have now effectively, as far as they are concerned, answered all the questions.

“Increasingly, people are saying that the big question now that has to be answered, has to be answered by Ian Paisley and if not by him then by the British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach vis-a-vis moving on with the new partnership arrangements, if he is not prepared to do the business.

“Obviously, there are still people within republicanism who are working with the difficulty that the decision on policing has created. This was always an issue that we had to deal with. We respect those people who hold a different view from us. We think it’s very important that we continue to remain friendly with those people and that, as best we can, we continue the debate and dialogue in the sure knowledge that eventually, the vast bulk of people will come to recognise how sensible the decision we took at the Ard Fheis clearly was - not just in the interest of the local community, who are under attack from anti-social elements, but will see it clearly in the interests of our drive towards our primary political objective of Irish unity.”

In the last Assembly elections, Sinn Féin increased its first preference vote by 6% and won 24 seats. McGuinness is never presumptuous about the outcome of elections but he does think that the party can have considerable confidence that it will consolidate its position and make further gains.

“Those gains can come in any number of constituencies. There is a very strong belief now that we can take a seat in Lagan Valley where we have never won a seat before, with Paul Butler, and of course in South Antrim with Mitchel McLaughlin, similarly where we have never won a seat. These would be enormous gains. Also, in quite a number of other constituencies, we believe that there is a very real prospect that further seats could be won.

“We are in good shape facing into this election and I think that our political opponents will be aware that, as in previous elections, there will be more and more people who vote for example for the sdlp, who have already indicated on the doorstep that they are going to support Sinn Féin in this election.

“It’s always hard to quantify what is going to happen in a PR election, because some of the last seats will come down to just a matter of a few votes and I think it remains to be seen, but certainly we’re confident that we can do very, very well and build on the gains that we’ve already made.

“Also, here in the North, we’re very, very conscious of the effect that all of that can have on the election in the South in May or June. I think all of us are very, very conscious that we don’t fight these elections in isolation. It’s all part of an integrated strategy. We are an all-Ireland party. We have a responsibility to work hard in elections to achieve the best results possible, knowing full well that a good result in the election in the North will have a very positive impact for our colleagues in the South, who are working feverishly to ensure that they get the expected increase in results which are awaiting us as we move forward decisively - not just within the peace process but within a wide range of issues which affect people in their daily lives.”

With a number of candidates describing themselves as ‘independent republicans’ standing in strong Sinn Fein constituencies in this election, and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh’s Republican Sinn Féin also putting up candidates, does McGuinness think it could cause confusion among the republican electorate or Sinn Féin’s objectives of maximising representation could be adversely affected?

“I welcome the participation by anyone in elections and I also will defend to the bitter end the right of anyone to disagree with this Sinn Féin leadership. But we have a duty and a responsibility to continue to give the type of leadership that we have been giving over many years.

“Consistently, in election after election, people have voted for our strategy and we have no fears whatsoever that people will desert us for others. I think one of the disadvantages that others have is that the candidates standing for Sinn Féin have a high recognition factor within communities. People know the personalities, whereas some of the other individuals going forward at the moment, their profile would be minimal to say the least.

“It is a PR election so, I think that if there is confusion, then to some degree that will be resolved by people giving their preferences to the Sinn Féin candidates.”

Asked about how realistic was his declaration at the recent Extraordinary Ard Fheis that Sinn Féin may yet become the largest party in the North, and what the likely effect would be for politics on the island as a whole, McGuinness says:

“When I made those remarks, I said that I expected that to happen within the next 10 years. I do believe that people recognise that the increasing political and electoral strength of Sinn Féin is inevitably going to bring us to that point. That would have a very profound impact on the political situation.

“If we outpoll the DUP in a future election we would be entitled to the position of First Minister. Psychologically, that would be a massive step forward in the effort to achieve our primary political objective of a united Ireland. But I think that all of this is in the future. We are building towards that at the moment and this election is another step in that direction.

“I think that clearly Sinn Féin is continuing to march forward and continuing to make important gains. We will be patient. We will continue to work and we will move forward on the basis that this is an achievable objective at some stage in the future. That’s what democracy is about.

“Those people who criticise us for saying that we could be the largest political party are clearly smarting at the prospect and giving the impression that, for them, being the largest political party isn’t really that important, when in fact we know that nothing could be further from the truth.”

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles).

The reactionary realities of the Reporters Sans Frontières “free press” lobby organisation...

WHAT underhand game is Robert Ménard's NGO Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) once again playing by presenting a distorted version of the murder of a journalist and totally ignoring another execution, despite repeated condemnation by professionals in the Haitian press? To what point can RSF pretend that it defends journalists and human rights while it is increasingly linked to the disinformation apparatus of the U.S. government?

This is the question that many observers are asking with respect to the recent publication of an investigation by a renowned U.S. expert into the savage murder of a photo-reporter in that impoverished Caribbean nation.

Jeb Sprague, a Californian academic who for some years has devoted himself to the subject of Haiti and who, along with his colleague Diana Barahona, exposed RSF's collusion with the State Department, has recently published an analysis on the well-known website Narco News in which he shows that the Parisian organization distorted reports of the death of photojournalist Jean-Remy Badío on January 19, 2006.

Sprague tells how neighbors in the Haitian neighborhood of Martissant, in southern Port-au-Prince, have accused the Lame Ti Manchet paramilitary group (The Little Machete Army), of being responsible for the reporter’s murder.

According to the group SOS Journalistes, of which Badío was a member, the journalist was executed after taking photos of the killers. However, a statement from RSF released in Paris presents a distorted version of the facts, even when the overwhelming number of documented killings has been attributed to the vigilante group, according to Sprague, in a special report for Narco News Bulletin.

A press release from RSF from Paris attempts to involve another group, as Baz Gran Ravin, who has no proven participation in the assassination.

Emily Jacquard, head of the RSF office in Canada, suspiciously avoided mentioning the charges expressed by the neighbors at the scene of the crime and also failed to show the overwhelming number of political killings documented in Martissant during the last two years that have been carried out by Lame Ti Manchet.

Sprague reported on a massacre carried out together in compliance with the Haitian police during a USAID-sponsored football tournament on August 20, 2005. Footage from that tragic event appeared in a documentary by Walt Bogdanich, a reporter from The New York Times, entitled Haiti: Democracy Undone.

The Haitian Press Agency (AHP) reported that, according to close friends of Badío, the victim had been the subject of death threats from members of Lame Ti Manchet, a paramilitary group that emerged under the protection of the U.S.-imposed Latortue regime.

Guyler Delva, from the Haitian Association of Journalists (AJH) has condemned Badío's killing in many Haitian media outlets.

It is not the first time that duplicity on the part of RSF has been clearly confirmed with respect to Haiti.

Blatant case: the murder of another journalist, Abdias Jean - 25 years of age - and a correspondent with the Miami radio station, WKAT, who was executed by the police of the interim regime in January 2005.

Press agencies mention the testimony of an eye-witness, according to whom Abdias Jean was shot to death by police agents attached to the Latortue government while he was covering a raid.

The police beat Jean and fired their guns at him, despite the fact that he had clearly identified himself as a journalist.

In this case also,AJH President Guyler Delva, has not just condemned the killing but also offered information that the police even pursued the journalist inside a house.

However, RSF has maintained total silence over the case.

The French group, so prone to intervening when it comes to covering up crimes perpetrated by U.S protagonists - the RSF report on the murder of Spanish cameraman Jose Couso in Iraq demonstrates this beyond all doubt - did not believe that this savage execution deserved one statement.

According to an August article on the U.S. Counterpunch website by researchers Diana Barahona and Jeb Sprague, the alliance between RSF and the State Department is so confidential that the NED refuses to reveal the contents of documents IRI 2002-022/7270, IRI 2003-027/7470 and IRI 2004-035/7473 which contain details of the existing agreements between RSF

The recent investigation into USAID by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the auditory body of the U.S. government office itself, reveals how the IRI and NED are two intermediaries used since the days of the Reagan administration to divert money to foreign organizations that support projects of the extreme right-wing and the CIA.

Haiti has experienced an interminable tragedy since 2004 when, following an international campaign of disinformation, a clique of U.S. politicians and mafiosi organized the overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

This mafia receives the economic support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

These same organizations financed, with a view to the presidential elections, various political groups that participated or supported the coup against Aristide.

RSF is among the proven beneficiaries of the grants awarded by these same organizations before and after the coup.

...and its reactionary funding, sources and allies

Robert Ménard, founder and life general secretary of Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), has accepted a $100,000 from a nation notorious for support of the most right-wing regimes: Taiwan.

On January 28, Ménard traveled to the land of Chiang Kai-shek to receive his prize from the hands of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian himself, who was acting on behalf of the Taiwanese Foundation for Democracy, a para-governmental organization founded 12 months ago in order to lubricate the foreign buddies of this bastion of the international extreme right.

In accepting the prize and the check that accompanies it, Ménard committed himself to creating a website to continue attacking the People’s Republic of China, against whom RSF has vented its anger for several years. There is no doubt that several bank transfers have already taken place between Taipei and Paris, and the French group is being sponsored - as Ménard was forced to acknowledge - by the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Republican Institute, as well other sources of secret funding from the right-wing in Europe.

On the other hand, the RSF chief cannot ignore that Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian is the target of accusations of corruption and falsification and has saved himself from imprisonment by pleading immunity in the face of criminal charges. His wife, Wu Shu-chen, is also accused of corruption in the framework of a large-scale investigation into the diversion of funds from the heart of the (governing) Democratic Progressive Party.

According to sociologist Jose Antonio Egido: “The Taiwanese government is pursuing the anti-communist policy of its predecessors as can be seen in the political (and surely financial) support that the official democracy foundation in Taiwan gives to the Cuban counter-revolutionary opposition.”

For the expert, “corruption and bribery are not just the foreign policy practice of this regime; they are the inheritance of the China of Chiang Kai-shek that they are striving to preserve.”


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