Friday, August 21, 2020

Save the Los Angeles Peace Center! Stop the Sale!



https://www.politicalgraphics.org/petition


Since 1989, the Peace Center, created and funded through the generosity of Aris Anagnos, has provided rent-free offices and meeting spaces to diverse peace and justice groups throughout Los Angeles, enabling them to focus on the work they do best: educating and organizing for justice. The Peace Center’s continued existence is now being threatened. The building is for sale, and all the tenants have been told to leave.

 

To ensure that the Peace Center would permanently house its social justice tenants rent-free, Aris established the Aris and Carolyn Anagnos Peace Center Foundation. Prior to his death, the Peace Center Foundation Board voted to grant the social justice tenants at the Peace Center rent-free office space in perpetuity.  Soon, after Aris died in 2018, his son Demos Anagnos, began to undermine his father’s legacy and take actions that his father would never have approved.  Not only is he trying to sell the Peace Center, he has also filed to dissolve the Foundation.

 

The groups housed in the Peace Center include: the Center for the Study of Political Graphics; the National Lawyers Guild; Peace Action; California Clean Money; Common Peace;  Americans for Democratic Action; the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador; and the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala. The Peace Center’s impact extends much further. Countless progressive groups use the meeting rooms—for free—to organize, train, educate, fundraise, and celebrate. These include the Democratic Socialists of America, the Pacifica Foundation, Veterans for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, Health Care for All, and the American Civil Liberties Union. All that could be gone! Many of these organizations depend on the rent-free space at the Peace Center and, if taken away, may no longer be able to continue their peace and justice efforts. At a time like now, when social justice is at the forefront of the news and politics, these organizations are a critically important and vital part of the debate and cannot be lost.

                                                                                 

A lawsuit to stop the sale of the Peace Center and challenge the dissolution of the foundation has been filed by the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. CSPG is represented by Jason H. Tokoro and  Emily Sanchirico with the law firm Miller Barondess. While CSPG is but one of the beneficiaries of Aris’ generosity, the success of this lawsuit will protect all the peace and justice organizations housed in and using the Peace Center.

 

At a time when civic engagement is increasingly important, it would be catastrophic to all their work, and to Aris’ vision, to destroy the Peace Center. In the midst of a pandemic that has the greatest impact on the poor and people of color, the Peace Center is needed more than ever.

 

We are outraged at the attempt by Demos to subvert Aris’ legacy and lifelong commitment to the cause of peace and justice. Help us win this fight by adding your name to the attached letter which we will release to the press. Thank you for joining us in a show of support for these efforts.

 

In solidarity,

ad hoc Committee to Save the Peace Center: 

(affiliations listed for identification only)                

 

Carol A. Wells, Founder and Executive Director, Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG)

Jim Lafferty, Emeritus Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild

Theresa Bonpane, Co-Founder and Emeritus Executive Director, Office of the Americas

Susan Adelman, President, Lucy & Isadore B. Adelman Foundation

Sherry Frumkin, Death Penalty Focus Board of Directors

Ted Hajjar, CSPG Board of Directors

Scott Johnson, CSPG Board of Directors

Shari Leinwand, Chair Emeritus ACLU Foundation SoCal

Roger Lowenstein, CSPG Board of Directors

Sonia M. Mercado, Civil Rights Lawyer

R. Samuel Paz, Civil Rights Lawyer

Bob Schwartz, Center for Cuban Studies Board of Directors

Danny Widener, President, CSPG Board of Directors

 

The undersigned oppose the sale of the Los Angeles Peace Center. Everyone signing will receive updates on our fight to preserve this priceless resource. No contact information will be sold or traded. 

Thank you for helping to save the Peace Center. 

IMPERIALISM’S ECONOMIC WAR COSTS VENEZUELA NEARLY $200 BILLION

 

By Pasqualina Curcio

Quantifying each and every one of the effects of the war that imperialism has declared on the Venezuelan people is impossible. The attacks that Venezuelans have experienced since 1999 have not only been economic, they have also been psychological. There is no way to measure the consequences of the hatred that the undemocratic opposition has sown with its anti-socialist propaganda, to the point of burning people alive if they are suspected chavistas. The resentment that the Venezuelan people have towards those who claim to be Venezuelans, but who have sold out their homeland, is also unmeasurable.


That said, focusing on the economic dimension we have updated the calculations that we made in March 2019. At that point, losses caused by this war amounted to $125 billion; we have now calculated those for all of 2019, which total $68 billion (all amounts in US dollars).

Therefore, the total economic losses between 2016 and 2019 are $194 billion.

For Venezuelans, $194 billion is equivalent to approximately 16 months of national production. With that money, we could have paid the entire external debt of $110 billion. Or we would have enough resources to import food and medicine for 45 years.

These losses break down thus: $25 billion corresponds to money and assets that have been looted from us, while the other $169 billion represents what we have stopped producing from 2016 to 2019 as a result of the attack against state-owned oil and natural gas company PDVSA ($64 billion) and the attack on the bolivar ($105 billion).

Blockade, plunder and piracy

In January 2019 John Bolton confessed, “We froze all assets of the state-owned company PDVSA in US territory [CITGO]; we blocked US $7 billion in assets plus US $11 billion in estimated export earnings over the next year.”

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the US government and its allies have looted $25 billion from Venezuela. They disguise it as “sanctions” – others elegantly call them unilateral coercive measures – but it is nothing but blatant robbery and an act of piracy. Approximately $5.4 billion are held by 50 banks, including 31 tons of gold that the Bank of England has withheld from us. The $18 billion in assets and dividends of the CITGO company are also included.

They not only robbed us – in January 2019 the US State Department announced that it gave Juan Guaidó [self-declared president, against democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro] control of the assets, assets and properties of the Venezuelan government in US bank accounts, meaning he is responsible for the administration of these resources. We would like to know how much of this money has been allocated to protecting the Venezuelan population during the quarantine. We know that $200 million was used to seal the contract with SilverCorp, whose objective was to hire mercenaries to assassinate Venezuelans.

As for the retained gold, the Bank of England is obliged to return it to its owner immediately upon request. However, according to the English, the owner of the gold is Guaidó who they say is the “interim president” of Venezuela. This is a theft so outrageous that nobody in their right mind could accept it. The whole world knows it is not Guaidó who sits in the United Nations General Assembly, in the UN Human Rights Council, in the UN Security Council or in OPEC meetings. Obviously, he does not occupy the president’s seat in Miraflores Palace either, much less command the National Bolivarian Armed Forces.

Is it Guaidó who is dealing with COVID-19 in Venezuela and coordinating with the World Health Organization about health aid and protocols? These are key questions.

Attack on PDVSA

Former US ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield acknowledged, “If we are going to sanction PDVSA, it will have an impact on the entire people, on the ordinary citizen. The counter argument is that the people suffer so much from lack of food, security, medicines, public health, that at this time perhaps the best resolution would be to accelerate the collapse even if it produces a period of suffering of months or perhaps years.”

The attack on PDVSA is not accidental; on the contrary, it is a deliberate and well-aimed action. Any disruption in the oil industry has repercussions on the company but also, and more fundamentally, throughout the national economy and on the Venezuelan people.

The oil industry generates 95 percent of Venezuela foreign currency revenue from exports. A decrease in these exports, either due to reduced oil production levels or a drop in price, affects the foreign currency revenue and, consequently, the imports of supplies, spare parts and machinery for national production. PDVSA is the catalyst for internal production.

For the first time ever, the price of oil fell for four consecutive years by a total of 65 percent. At the same time, due to the commercial and financial blockade against PDVSA, the difficulty of securing spare parts and supplies, financial restrictions and other reasons, oil production has decreased 64 percent, from 2.8 million barrels daily in 2013 to 1 million in 2019. Overall, this translates into a 78 percent drop in oil exports, which went from $85 billion annually in 2013 to $19 billion in 2019.

Between 2016 and 2019, Venezuela’s national production declined by $64 billion due to the decrease in oil exports.

Attack on the currency

US Republican senator Richard Black confessed about Venezuela, “We demonetized their currency and, through the international banking system, we made the Venezuelan currency worthless and then we go and say: ‘Look how bad this government is, your currency is worthless.’ Well, it wasn’t them, it was us who made their currency useless.”

The main weapon of the economic war is the attack on the bolivar [Venezuela’s currency], which not only produces hyperinflation and the consequent loss of purchasing power for the working class, but also contracts national production. Insofar as wage earners see their purchasing capacity deteriorate because of the rapid and disproportionate rise in prices, they decrease their demand for goods and production also decreases.

Since 2013 imperialism has criminally caused the depreciation of the bolivar by 241,657 million percent, which has led to a price increase of 11,500 million percent to date.

Between 2016 and 2019 Venezuela’s national production declined by $105 billion because of the attack on the bolivar.

Everyone can draw their own conclusions about what $194 billion in economic losses represent, in terms of anguish, outrage and quality of life for the Venezuelan people. But everyone should also draw conclusions about the immense level of consciousness and resistance of the Venezuelan people who, always with high morale, have confronted the enemies of their homeland with the best of strategies, the civic-military union.

Pasqualina Curcio is Professor of Economics at Universidad Simón Bolívar.

Article originally published at the author’s blog. Translated from Spanish by PV staff.


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The cry of creation echoes the call for a nuclear weapon-free world

 


joe2a

by Joseph Nangle, OFM
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

It is providential that one of our first – and perhaps the most important – reflections on the cry of creation called for by Pope Francis comes on this week when we mark 75 years since that most dreadful of all events: the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States of America.

Appropriately and thankfully, these two dates are receiving enormous attention all over the world. Eloquent and effective words and actions are calling attention to the horror our country inflicted on Japan, and the world, on August 6th and again on August 9th, 1945. There is also clearly a general agreement that after those fateful days, the world has never been the same. We know this monstrous crime against humanity hangs over us and the possibility of another attack is absolutely unthinkable.

I have felt almost at a loss about trying to add something useful to the global outpouring of commentary during this “Hiroshima/Nagasaki Week”. However, these events 75 years ago, and the subsequent threats of similar catastrophes, produce a desperate cry from creation. In these lines, I hope to spell that out as a crucial part of Pope Francis’s Seven Year Laudato Si’ Plan.

The principle point to make in this regard is something which I am not sure has received sufficient attention over the past three-quarters of a century, or even now as we mark that anniversary. It is the fact that the very existence of planet Earth is being threatened by growing nuclear arsenals and their ever more potent power. 

In a short phrase in the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ 1983 Peace Pastoral, The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response, we find this fearful statement: “There exists the capacity to do something no other age could imagine: we can threaten the entire planet” (No. 123).

While speaking on his pilgrimage to Japan last year, Pope Francis said, “Today the destructive potential of the nuclear powers threatens the human person, the civilization we have slowly constructed, and even the created order itself.”

If these are not cries of creation, what are?

And yet, the countries which possess these diabolical nuclear weapons, particularly the United States, seem determined not only to keep them but to upgrade their potential. One estimate of the current power of a U.S. nuclear bomb puts it at eighty times that of the atomic bombs which destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in an instant. Incredibly, the United States is well into the process of a thirty-year program to upgrade our nuclear capabilities. The estimated cost of this program is $2.2 trillion.

Pope Francis has made the crucial point in these times that the very possession of nuclear weapons is immoral. This call for humanity to hear the cry of creation strikes one as a despairing and almost unheard voice in the desert of discussions and policies, which take for granted the need to protect ourselves by what is senselessly called “mutually assured destruction” (aptly called MAD in shorthand).

If there is any ray of hope in this dire scenario, it might be paradoxically in the global experience of a deadly virus from which no human being is exempt and which no military weaponry can destroy. Coronavirus just might turn humanity to an entirely new way of living on Earth. Could the virus demonstrate the madness of humans killing each other in large and small wars when all of us are being equally attacked? Could we act universally on the truth that science and cooperation with science, not guns, is the only hope against the horrors of Coronavirus? And in light of these reflections, could we face up to the fact that our world is headed inexorably toward that which Pope Francis calls “the end of the created order itself?”

Out of the depths we call to you, Lord; Lord hear our cry (Psalm 130).

____________

Joe Nangle OFM is a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace. As a member of the Assisi Community in Washington, D.C., he is dedicated to simple living and social change. Joe also serves as the Pastoral Associate for the Latino community at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Arlington, Virginia.

TAKE ACTION: Prohibit nuclear tests now!

 

anti-35410_1280Recently, the Trump Administration has hinted that it wants to resume real world nuclear tests in the near future. For twenty years, only one nation has conducted such nuclear tests: North Korea. Experts agree that computer models are more than adequate to maintain U.S. nuclear capabilities, itself a questionable goal. Resumption of testing could provoke a new round of tests by all nine nuclear weapons states.

Tests would heighten international tension and perhaps signal the start of a new arms race. They would spend public funds better used to address the true crises of the present, from COVID-19 to systemic racism. Nuclear tests also have long-lasting impacts on our environment, on food sources and on human beings. Nuclear testing in the past disproportionally affects communities of color, including indigenous people and Pacific Islanders as well as African-American and Latinx communities.

Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) has proposed a bill to prohibit the use of federal funds for a nuclear test explosion, S.3886. Currently, thirteen other senators have joined Senator Markey in co-sponsoring the bill. More information on the bill is available at this link.

TAKE ACTION: Please let the administration and your elected officials know you are opposed to any resumption of real world nuclear testing.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

FREE SUSANA PRIETO TERRAZAS!



The Party of Communists of the United States of America (PCUSA) denounces the arbitrary arrest and detention of labor lawyer and activist Susan Prieto Terrazas by authorities in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The PCUSA demands her immediate release.

Susan Prieto Terrazas is a Mexican lawyer, with offices in Chihuahua and Tamaulipas, who has devoted her career to defending the interests of the workers in the Maquiladora factories of Northern Mexico. Maquilas are factories, mostly in Northern Mexico, that are controlled by foreign capital to take advantage of cheap labor, lax regulations, and tax breaks.

Susana Prieto Terrazas has, since obtaining her law degree, worked in courts and in the workers rights movement in the Northern states of Tamaulipas and Chihuahua. In 2028 and 2019 Susana was an important leader in a strike movement that won a 20% wage increase for workers in 48 export oriented factories in Matamoros, Mexico. It is not hard to imagine that this gain for the workers engendered much enmity towards Susana from people in power and from many corporate board rooms.

On June 8 ,2020 Susana was arrested by the Tamaulipas authorities for allegedly rioting and blocking the entrance to a building. All were activities related to a labor dispute. Any trade unionist, in any corner of the world, would recognize her arrest as retaliation for her labor activities. The motivation for her arrest is political and she remains a political prisoner.

The PCUSA calls upon the Mexican authorities, both state and federal, to ensure Ms. Prieto Terrazas release and to allow union activities in Northern Mexico to continue unhindered by threats of prosecution.

Friday, June 5, 2020

WPC, Statement of the World Peace Council about the Protests in the USA




6/5/20 11:14 AM
The World Peace Council expresses its categorical and strongest condemnation of the cold-blooded assassination of George Floyd by the police force in Minneapolis, USA. 
This recent killing of an unarmed civilian by the police is unfortunately not the first and only case in the United States. Neither is it a phenomenon of the current government only. More than 1,000 lives have been taken by the police every year for many decades, great majority of the them from African-American and other minority communities. 
The accumulated anger of the people and the massive protests in more than 75 cities of the country are not only a demonstration of the feelings of the people toward the decades-long police violence but are the result of the massive discontent for the continuously deteriorating social and economic conditions of life for the majority of the population.          
We salute the people of all strata and race who are taking part in the mostly peaceful protests and reject any claim by the US government that this brutality is just the act of a few “bad apples.” Hand in hand with the ruling establishment in the US, the Trump administration is trying to distract the attention of the people from the fact that these massive protests are also a result of the failure of the government to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and the massive unemployment of more than 40 million working people, especially African-Americans, who are struggling to survive day by day. 
The crisis is further deepened every day as a result of the statements and the rhetoric of President D. Trump, who is encouraging police shooting and arrests while threatening with open actions by the military in the country. 
The forces of the US political and economic establishment are trying to hide the root causes of the police killings in the middle of a pandemic crisis and massive unemployment, which derive from the racist and oppressive nature of the system itself. They fear the emerging deeper understanding by the people of the true nature the capitalist rule in their country. 
The WPC expresses its solidarity with the struggling working people and the oppressed racial and ethnic minorities in the US. We unite our voices with the US Peace Council and the anti-imperialist forces in the US in the struggle to end all exploitation and racism. 
This recent development has once again shown that there can be no peace without social justice.

The WPC Secretariat Athens 3rd June 2020