October 13, 2010


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Latin America File: Ecuador extends state of emergency, opposition accuses Correa of staging hostage taking; FMLN regime warns ARENA against coup 


- Cuba Praises FMLN’s Commitment to Communist Revolution on 30th Anniversary of Founding; Party of Socialism and Liberation Holds Pro-FMLN Bash in San Francisco

- Ortega Hosts Former Presidents of Panama and Honduras, Backs Zelaya’s Restoration 15 Months after Ouster

- Narcistas Ambush Police Convoy, Gun Down Eight Officers in Mexico’s Western State of Sinaloa

- Russian-Venezuelan Oil Consortium to Invest US$20 Billion in Orinoco River’s Juin-6 Block, Production to Begin in 2013

Pictured above: Bolivia's self-avowed Marxist-Leninist president, Evo Morales, visits Ecuadorean counterpart, Rafael Correa, in Quito, on October 12.

Since the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in June 2009, the spectre of counter-revolutionary coups haunts the feverish imaginations of communist and socialist regimes throughout Latin America. From their point of view, the police revolt against Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa on September 30 has “confirmed” the existence of wide-ranging “CIA-backed right-wing conspiracies” to overthrow the region’s “progressive” governments.

This past Saturday Ecuador extended indefinitely a state of emergency first implemented when mutinous police assaulted Correa and held him hostage for 12 hours in a police hospital. The Ecuadorean president enjoys the special favour of Venezuela’s communist dictator, Hugo Chavez. The extension of the state of emergency empowers the military, rather than the police, to maintain law and order. It would appear that de facto martial law is now in place in Quito.

After loyal elements in the army rescued him, Correa accused the country’s main opposition leader, former president Lucio Gutierrez, of fomenting the police rebellion. Gutierrez heads up the nationalist 21st January Patriotic Society Party. In an October 11 interview with the Colombia-based Caracol TV, Ecuadorean congressman Gilmar Gutierrez, Lucio’s brother, charged: “Everything was staged by the president to hide the extreme corruption and to hide the poverty, hunger and unemployment that have arisen to an alarming level. There was no coup.”

Interior Minister Gustavo Jalkh asserted that two soldiers, a police officer, and a university student were killed in the standoff between dissident police and Correa and his supporters. Nearly 200 others were injured in unrest throughout the country, which included mutinous police setting up roadblocks and dissident soldiers temporarily closing down Quito’s international airport. More than 40 police officers were detained in connection with the revolt against the president.

“We will investigate all these things and try to take all precautions so there will not be a repeat,” ranted Correa, adding: “This insubordination was limited to a few hundred officers, from a force of 42,000 national police. We cannot blame the institution for a group of police officers who have denigrated their position.”

The restoration of Zelaya to the Honduran presidency also exercises Latin America’s Red Axis leaders. On September 17 the deposed leader appeared in Managua, one of his favourite haunts, with two sponsors, President Daniel Ortega and former Panamanian President Martin Torrijos, son of the former leftist military strongman, Omar Torrijos. There the wealthy rancher-turned-socialist vowed:

International efforts for my peaceful return to Honduras will continue. My return will be without any preconditions and, after my return, I will lead a movement in favor of restoring democratic order. I will also travel to Guatemala to campaign for a seat in the Central American Parliament.
“Zelaya was ousted on June 28 last year,” admits China’s state-run media, “in a coup as he pushed for a constitutional change which would allow him to run for another term.” In seeking to abolish presidential term limits, Zelaya was merely following his Red Axis benefactors, Chavez, Ortega, Correa, and Bolivian president Evo Morales. In 2008 he led his country into the Havana/Caracas-led Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), but late last year Roberto Micheletti’s interim government announced that the country was leaving ALBA.

Since January 2010, when democratically elected Porfirio Lobo assumed the Honduran presidency, Zelaya has been living in Dominican Republic. During last month’s press conference, Ortega threw his support behind the domestic political vehicle that is agitating for Zelaya’s return, the National Popular Resistance Front. The red hue of the front’s flag and the prominent socialist star plainly indicate Zelaya’s new-found ideological orientation (pictured above).

Pictured here: Salvadoran Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, terrorist mastermind of the FMLN when it was still an insurgent army.In El Salvador, reports the Cuban state media, the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) vows that it, too, “will confront and defeat any attempt to stage a coup d’etat in El Salvador.” Last Friday, FMLN general coordinator Medardo Gonzalez warned that “he did not rule out that dark forces would try to disrupt democratic legality in the country.” Here “dark forces” were explicitly connected to the formerly ruling rightist ARENA party. “Here in El Salvador, we are on the alert and will not allow any coup d'etat to take place,” rumbled Gonzalez, whose nom de guerre during the Salvadoran Civil War (1980-1992) was Milton Mendez. Gonzalez continued:

The secretary general of the Organization of American States, [Chilean socialist] Jose Miguel Insulza, has been warned about the possibility of new coup attempts in the region. . . . Recently, forces from the Nationalist Republican Alliance [ARENA] invited former Honduran dictator Roberto Micheletti, who took power after the June 28, 2009 military coup, to visit El Salvador. We told him [Micheletti], “You are not welcome in our country. Go home immediately. We don't accept coup leaders here.”

The FMLN leader made these comments at a ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the guerrilla army-turned-political party, and to honor “internationalists” (communists) who fought alongside the FMLN against a series of US-backed rightist governments. In attendance was Ricardo Alarcon, president of the Cuban National Assembly, who praised the FMLNistas’ commitment to communist revolution: “The FMLN has been a model of loyalty to its revolutionary principles and the Salvadoran popular and political forces.”

Last week, Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes, the benign face of the FMLN, carried out an historic trip to Cuba which, along with the Soviet Union and Nicaragua’s first Sandinista regime, armed El Salvador’s leftist insurgents. Funes is a former correspondent for CNN Espanol and did not fight in the civil war. However, he reiterated Gonzalez’s sentiments at a meeting of the Permanent Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Political Parties (COPPPAL) in San Salvador. Referring to the Honduran coup, Funes declared: “The OAS and its member states should intervene at the opportune moment to avoid the germination of a military coup or any other situation that could translate into ungovernability and destabilization.”

It was not clear whether Funes was advocating multilateral military intervention on the part of the Organization of American States, although Chavez and Ortega have over the last three years supported the formation of an “anti-imperialist” army to oppose the USA.

Incidentally, in the USA, the Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL) and the coordinator of the FMLN’s Northern California section hosted a dinner dance in San Francisco, in honor of the FMLN’s 30th anniversary. FMLNista Salvador Cordon reflected:

For 11 years the FMLN waged guerrilla war and would have achieved victory if not for US military intervention [under President Ronald Reagan] on a gigantic scale in a country of just 6 million people. It was this intervention that prolonged the war, exhausting much of the population. At the same time, the Salvadoran military could not achieve victory; a stalemate developed. That factor and the fall of the socialist camp [Soviet Bloc] between 1989 and 1991, prevented the triumph of the Salvadoran Revolution.

However, the Salvadoran Revolution did finally triumph in 2009, when voters elected the country’s first leftist government. For its part, the PSL was organized in 2004 by defectors from the Stalinist Workers’ World Party. PSL cadres sit on the steering committee of the ANSWER Coalition, which is active in the US anti-war movement.

Meanwhile, on Monday in the western Mexican state of Sinaloa, suspected drug cartel gunmen ambushed a police convoy, killing eight officers. “The gunmen, travelling in three or four vehicles, began shooting with automatic weapons,” a Mexican official explained. Sinaloa is home to one of the country’s most powerful cartels, run by Mexico’s most wanted man, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman. The police were patrolling a road 50 miles form the state capital, Culiacan, when they were attacked. The cartels often recruit police officers, luring them with promises of a “cut” from the drug profits.

Finally, in yet another example of Russia’s revitalized, post-Cold War presence in the Caribbean Basin, Gazprom Neft, a tentacle of global energy monster Gazprom, has been appointed project leader for the 25-year Junin-6 project in the heavy oil basin of Venezuela’s Orinoco River. The Kremlin-run company made the announcement on Tuesday. This status was awarded to Gazprom Neft by the National Oil Consortium (NNK), established by Gazprom Neft, LUKoil, Rosneft, Surgutneftegas, and TNK-BP, which hold equal stakes in the project. NNK has dished out US$600 million as the first payment for the right to take part in the joint venture with CVP, a subsidiary of Venezuela’s PDVSA. CVP owns 60 percent in the venture, while NNK holds the rest.

“In its capacity as project leader, Gazprom Neft will coordinate the [Russian side of] operations in the Russian-Venezuelan joint venture PetroMiranda,” stated Gazprom Neft. PetroMiranda was established to exploit the Junin-6 block. The company will make the final investment decision on future development of the block, planned for 2013. The 447-850-square-kilometer Junin-6 block contains an estimated 52.6 billion barrels of oil. Within the block, 14 wells have already been drilled, Gazprom Neft explained.

The total investment by both Russia and Venezuela in the Juin-6 block is estimated at US$20 billion. Chavez expects the joint venture to produce 50,000 barrels of oil per day by 2014 and 450,000 barrels by 2017. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has acknowledged that Moscow is ready to pay Venezuela another US$1 billon to develop more fields. Putin’s energy minister, Sergei Shmatko, has admitted that the bonus could be paid for exploiting the Ayacucho-2, Ayacucho-3, and Junin-3 blocks.

Chavez will make his annual pilgrimage to Moscow on October 14. No doubt, the NNK-CVP venture will be high on the agenda as he meets with his KGB handler, Putin. For its part, Russia also plans to drill for oil in Cuban waters, almost cheek by jowl with US platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Strategically speaking, Russia’s drilling for oil under Uncle Sam’s nose is not a bad idea. Should Missile Day arrive, US military strikes against Russian oil platforms in the Caribbean will not only enrage Moscow’s communist allies in the Western Hemisphere, but also threaten to repeat the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Checkmate.