People, Keep On Thinking…


A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

Another novelty introduced by the campaign of Democratic Party
presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in his bid to win voters for his
candidacy is the complaint made about the sad role of candidates and
the media interested in sharpening antagonisms between candidates
based on purely personal or trivial matters instead of focusing on the
real issues of the country.

In a speech he gave in Santa Barbara, California recently, Sanders
called on the media to be objective when reporting on his campaign.

“I have a problem with the New York Times, because, from the first
day, it has been trying to ignore my campaign and has been very
negative toward it.”

“Our campaign is aimed at defeating Secretary Clinton regarding real
problems. I want to break up the big banks, she does not. I want to
raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour; she wants $12 an hour. I voted
against the war in Iraq, she voted for the war in Iraq. I think we
should ban fracking, she does not.”

“I think we should establish a tax on coal and aggressively address
the problems of climate change, which is not her position. Those are
some of the issues for which I am campaigning …”

“The New York Times interviewed a handful of people, made a report and
published it on the front page. These are problems to the New York
Times but not my campaign.”

Sanders has argued that for the Democrats to win against Trump in
November, “they would have to meet the needs of workers, confront Wall
Street, confront greedy US corporations, and then also face the
communications media.”

Pressed by a reporter for an opinion on the FBI investigation of
Hillary Clinton’s email practices when she was Secretary of State,
Sanders said that Americans are tired of such issues in the political

“I think the media and candidates need to talk about the reasons that
cause the decline of the middle class, and about why we have such high
levels of income and wealth inequality.”

Certainly, in California, Sanders addressed very tangible issues such
as the rights of agricultural workers, of President Obama’s
deportation policy which divides immigrant families, the drought that
has lasted for years, and other local issues such as the poisoned
groundwater that causes asthma and birth malformations.

As reported by CNN, Sanders was introduced to a crowd in Bakersfield
by the son of the popular Chicano farmworkers labor leader Cesar
Chavez, who said that, if his father were alive, he would be a
follower of Sanders. Right away, other supposed or real relatives of
Cesar Chavez appeared to deny this, but Sanders’ campaign did not pay
attention to this kind of problem.

Sanders told his supporters in the Central Valley community that there
was still much to be done to help agricultural migrant workers. He
said he had “no doubt that, just as here in the valley, agricultural
workers are exploited throughout the country”.

He asserted that when they are paid very low wages, when they are
exposed to pesticides, and when the tap water they get is not
drinkable, responsibility lies with the corporations which own the
farms and the corporations that buy the products of these farms.

Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, told The [UK] Guardian, one
day before the California primary, that he was convinced that the
possibilities for the Vermont senator were remarkable, because he had
demonstrated his capacity to mobilize the masses in these big events
just by his presence, as he did with his surprising victory in the
Michigan primary when the polls had placed him ten points behind.

What everyone overlooks is that, although Secretary Clinton obviously
has accumulated a substantial advantage, there is an incredible source
of support for the senator which has not yet come to light in the
process. Senator Sanders’ type of intensive campaign has actually
moved many voters, said Weaver.

Even if it does not achieve the ultimate goal of winning the
Democratic nomination to the White House for Sanders, his successful
and surprising campaign has cast doubt on many myths and taboos about
the political thinking of ordinary Americans. In reality, they are
products of circumstantial situations that have opened spaces to
fascism in the United States and have left deplorable footprints in
the history of that great nation.

June 7, 2016.

By Manuel E. Yepe

A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

A US State Department spokesperson repeatedly refused to comment on
the momentous political crisis in Brazil during his June 3 press
briefing. He gave evidence of the sharp contrast between his long and
loquacious criticisms of neighboring Venezuela and Washington’s
complicit tolerance of the parliamentary coup in Brazil.

This was reported on the alternative website AlterNet by journalist
Zaid Jilani, who actively participated as a reporter in the press
conference given on June 3rd by US State Department official
spokesperson Mark Toner.

In a dispatch by Jilani, published by digital website The Intercept
and other alternative media, it was reported that, when questioned
about this sharp contrast, Toner, visibly excited, said: “I don’t have
anything to comment about the ongoing political dimensions of the
crisis in Brazil.”

The US “hard” foreign policy intends to apply to Venezuela the
Inter-American Democratic Charter of the Organization of American
States (OAS) imposed by the Washington on the continent following
September 11, 2001. It’s goal was to strengthen United States
domination in the context of the New York terrorist events used as a
pretext for President George W. Bush President George W. Bush ‘s
declaration of the “war on terrorism”.

In the case of Brazil, the United States tries to justify the “soft”
parliamentary, judicial and media coup d’état against President Dilma
Rousseff’s government. Her impeachment’s legitimacy has been rejected
by most experts and observers who are not subject to the networks of
international corporate media controlled by Washington.

The State Department has been extremely repetitive in its criticism of
Venezuela’s progressive government. It accuses that government of
applying popular policies contrary to the hegemonic interests of the
global corporations. By contrast, it has been silent about the
takeover of the government in Brazil by a staunchly right-wing,
pro-business government that is making the privatization of state
industry a priority.

The debate with Toner at the press conference began when The Intercept
journalist (Zaid Jilani) asked Toner why the U.S. has been joining in
regional criticisms of Venezuela’s government for its alleged
democratic backsliding, but has ignored Brazil’s political crisis,
where right-wing lawmakers voted on May 12 to suspend the
democratically-elected President from government and to open
impeachment proceedings against the head of state.

It was then that veteran Associated Press State Department reporter
Matt Lee jumped into the fray, asking if the impeachment of former
President Dilma Rousseff was itself “valid.”

Toner continued to dodge, declaring U.S. confidence in Brazilian
institutions. “But we’re very concerned about the current development
of political events in Venezuela…” he said.

“And why aren’t you very concerned about a similar situation in
Brazil?” Lee probed.

“Again — well, look, I’ve said my piece. I mean, I don’t have anything
to add,” Toner concluded.

When Pam Dawkins of Voice of America asked about Venezuela and “the
state of democracy there” in light of the delay of a proposed recall
referendum put forth by the country’s opposition, Toner’s tone changed
dramatically. In a response that went on for two full minutes, Toner
waxed moralistic, asking Venezuela to respect democratic norms.

“We call on Venezuela’s authorities to allow this referendum to move
forward and thus ensure that Venezuelans can exercise their right to
participate in this process in keeping with Venezuela’s democratic
institutions, practices, and principles consistent with the
Inter-American Democratic Charter.”

Lee felt obliged to note again the contrast between Toner’s long
critical response about the situation in Venezuela and the two phrases
about Brazil “which is a much bigger country and with which you have
enjoyed better relations.”

Then another reporter jumped into the fracas, asking Toner if the
composition of the new Brazilian cabinet –composed entirely of men,
many of them tied to large industries in the country– that replaces
the cabinet led by the first female head of state in Brazil’s history
raised any concerns.

“Look, guys, I will see if we have anything more to say about the
situation in Brazil,” Toner concluded, to get rid of the embarrassing
situation in which he had been placed because of the ambivalence of
the “two-faced” imperialist foreign policy.

June 11, 2016.