The American Bear


Democrats and U.S. Labor Delusional About Latin America | Alberto Ruiz

The Democrats just put out their platform on Latin America, and it demonstrates only the loosest connection to reality. Thus, while praising the “vibrant democracies in countries from Mexico to Brazil and Costa Rica to Chile,” as well as “historic peaceful transfers of power in places like El Salvador and Uruguay,” the Democrats continue to point to Cuba and Venezuela as outliers in the region in which the Democrats plan “to press for more transparent and accountable governance” and for “greater freedom.” Of course, it is their Platform’s deafening silence on critical developments in the region which says the most about their position vis a vis the Region.

Not surprising, the Democrats say nothing about the recent coups in Honduras and Paraguay (both taking place during Obama’s first term) which unseated popular and progressive governments. They also say nothing about the fact that President Obama, against the tide of the other democratic countries in Latin America, quickly recognized the coup governments in both of these countries. Also omitted from the platform is any discussion of the horrendous human rights situation in post-coup Honduras where journalists, human rights advocates and labor leaders have been threatened, harassed and even killed at alarming rates.

As Reporters Without Borders (RWR) explained on August 16, 25 journalists have been murdered in Honduras since the 2009 coup, making Honduras the journalist murder capital of the world. In this same story, RWR mentions Honduras in the same breath as Mexico (a country the Democrats hold out as one of the “vibrant democracies” in the region) when speaking of the oppression of journalists and social activists, as well as the general climate of violence which plagues both countries. As RWR stated, “Like their Mexican colleagues, Honduran journalists – along with human rights workers, civil society representatives, lawyers and academics who provide information – will not break free of the spiral of violent crime and censorship until the way the police and judicial apparatus functions is completely overhauled.” And indeed, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 38 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992, and it has been confirmed in 27 of these cases that the journalists were killed precisely because they were journalists. Meanwhile, in Mexico, over 40,000 individuals have been killed due to the U.S.-sponsored drug war – hardly a laudable figure.

Of course, in the case of Honduras, and Paraguay as well, things are going fine for U.S. interests post-coup, with Honduras maintaining the U.S. military base which President Manuel Zelaya, overthrown in the coup, had threatened to close. Similarly, in Paraguay, one of the first acts of the new coup government was agreeing to open a new U.S. military base – a base opposed by Porfirio Lobos Fernando Lugo, the President (and former liberation Bishop) overthrown in the coup. The other act of the new coup government in Paraguay was its agreement to allow Rio Tinto to open a new mine in that country, again in contravention of the deposed President’s position. The Democrats simply do not speak of either Honduras or Paraguay in their Platform.

Instead, the Democrats mostly focus on their alleged desire to bring “freedom” to Cuba [and Venezuela]. [READ]

Civil liberties and the 2012 Democratic Party platform | Jonathan Bernstein

[… What] will the 2012 Democratic Party platform say about civil liberties? What will it say about the U.S. government’s lethal attacks on citizens overseas? About Gitmo and military tribunals? About drone wars? And, perhaps a more important question: Will Democratic activists push the party to keep and perhaps strengthen its platform — and if so, will the Obama campaign push back?

The marriage fight is interesting, but we all know where the Democratic Party is headed on that issue; the only questions are when and how publicly it’s going to get there. But on civil liberties issues, there’s a real fight within the party, and it’s entirely unclear how it ends up. Or at least, there’s real disagreement: Whether there’s a real fight depends a lot on whether those who believe that the president has been disappointing or worse choose to press on it. The party platform isn’t the only way to do so, of course. However, it certainly is an opportunity for that fight, and it’ll be interesting to see whether it becomes a battleground. [++]

Will Democrats Strip Civil Liberties from Their 2012 Platform? | Conor Friedersdorf

This may cause some dissonance, but please read through:

When the Democratic Party holds its convention this September in Charlotte, North Carolina, President Obama’s speech is likely to garner the most press attention. But I’ll be most interested in how the delegates get themselves out of the pickle of their standard bearer’s making: What are they going to say about civil liberties and executive power in the party platform?

Four years ago, the last time the Democrats adopted a platform, their presidential candidate championed civil liberties, insisted that closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay would make us safer from terrorists, and righteously denounced the expansive Bush-Cheney understanding of executive power. Said the official 2008 platform contemporaneously adopted by Democratic delegates (links added):

We will restore our constitutional traditions, and recover our nation’s founding commitment to liberty under law. We support constitutional protections and judicial oversight on any surveillance program involving Americans. We will review the current Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. We reject illegal wiretapping of American citizens, wherever they live. We reject the use of national security letters tospy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime … We reject sweeping claims of “inherent” presidential power. We will revisit the Patriot Act and overturn unconstitutional executive decisions issued during the past eight years. We will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine duly enacted law. And we will ensure that law-abiding Americans of any origin, including Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans, do not become the scapegoats of national security fears.

Another section is also pertinent:

We will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools to hunt down and take out terrorists without undermining our Constitution, our freedom, and our privacy … we will lead in ways that reflect the decency and aspirations of the American people. We will not ship away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, or detain without trial or charge prisoners who can and should be brought to justice for their crimes, or maintain a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of the law. We will respect the time-honored principle of habeas corpus, the seven century-old right of individuals to challenge the terms of their own detention that was recently reaffirmed by our Supreme Court.

We will close the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, the location of so many of the worst constitutional abuses in recent years. With these necessary changes, the attention of the world will be directed where it belongs: on what terrorists have done to us, not on how we treat suspects.

If you click through to the links I’ve embedded above you’ll quickly get a sense of how thoroughly President Obama has betrayed the words and spirit of his candidacy and his party’s platform.  So what now?