PCASC is proud to host Benji Lewis as he reports back from his experiences as a
journalist in Caracas, Venezuela.
Benji is an Iraq Veteran who publicly refused recall and redeployment orders and
recently lived ten months in Venezuela working as a journalist. Benji plans to return to Venezuela to report from the frontlines
of the accelerating hostility between US-backed Colombia and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Wed. Aug 11th @
7pm @ Multnomah Friends Meetinghouse (4312 S.E. Stark Street)
-Conspiraci...es, tortures, murders, corruption and false divides have plagued the oil laden country
of Venezuela and its people for decades.
A backlash to the policies of the Washington Consensus turned the hand of a long, and often violently,
suppressed revolutionary undertow into a mainstream political and social transformation led by Hugo Chavez.
Benji Lewis will be offering analysis and helping to facilitate an open discussion on just what is
taking place in Venezuela and throughout the southern Americas.
The goods, the bads and the uglies are all to be brought to the table as we study a movement that has
been on the verge of collapse from internal and external forces since its inception; yet - instead of collapsing - has managed
to accomplish incredible aims in building a modern and just society.
you come to Venezuela with glistening eyes, expecting to see the revolution of a romantic and passionate novel, don’t
be disappointed when the complexities of reality burst your bubble. While revolution does withhold a sense of romanticism,
it’s also full of human error and the grit of everyday life in a society – a nation – undertaking the difficult
and tumultuous process of total transformation.
Nothing is perfect here, in the country sitting on the world’s
largest oil reserves. But everything is fascinating and intriguing, and the changes from past to present become more visible
and tangible every day.
Eva Golinger, named “La Novia de Venezuela”
(the Sweetheart of Venezuela) by President Hugo Chávez, is a Venezuelan-American attorney from New York, living in Caracas,
Venezuela since 2005 and author of the best-selling books, “The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela”
(2006 Olive Branch Press) and “Bush vs. Chávez: Washington’s War on Venezuela” (2007, Monthly Review Press).
Her two latest books, “The Empire’s Web: Encyclopedia of Interventionism and Subversion” and “La Mirada
del Imperio sobre el 4F: Los Documentos Desclasificados de Washington sobre la rebelión militar del 4 de febrero de 1992”
were released in Venezuela in early 2009. Since 2003, Eva, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and CUNY Law School in New
York, has been investigating, analyzing and writing about US intervention in Venezuela using the Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) to obtain information about the US Government’s efforts to destabilize progressive movements in Latin America.
Her first book, The Chávez Code, has been translated and published in five languages (English, Spanish, French, German and
Italian) and is presently being made into a feature film.
Venezuelan Attorney General's Office formally opened an investigation into an alleged assassination
plot against President Hugo Chavez, following recently publicized declarations by a former paramilitary hitman and a former
Colombian intelligence official.
The announcement of the US occupation
of more than 7 military bases in Colombia comes at a time when a dictatorship - supported, if tacitly by Washington - in Honduras
is consolidating after almost a month and a half has passed since the violent coup d'etat forced Honduran President Manuel
Zelaya from power. The increased US military presence in Latin America has been perceived by a majority of nations in this
hemisphere as a threat to stability and peace in the region. How does the Obama administration justify increasing the Pentagon's
budget and investing almost $1 billion in its Latin American military operations this year? (Full Article)
Delegates from the Portland Venezuela Peace and Media
delegation are hosting a fundraiser to support their upcoming trip to Venezuela. The trip’s focus is part of the
mission is to introduce U.S. peace activists to the variety of organizational forms and actions the Venezuelan people have
built to achieve their political objectives. By learning from these examples, anti-war activists will be better prepared to
creatively respond to the challenges that lie ahead in the US.
The event will take place on August 15, from 4 pm to 6 pm
at the Miller Gallery in the Mark Building at the Portland Art Museum.
Suggested donation is $5 - $10.
Nobody turned away for lack of funds
“This trip is an important connection to peace
and justice activities in an area that has seen an increase in community organizing” says Joe Anybody, one of the delegation’s
videographers who will be filming the delegation in action. “ In documenting the delegation’s trip, I want
to share what I learn in Venezuela with the people in Portland when I return. I want to capture and share the organizing
struggles of the people of Venezuela. I’m excited to see firsthand what’s going on and to report back.”
Joe Anybody is a Portland independent media videographer
who has been making films about human rights issues for over 5 years. He films activism of groups such as Seriously
Pissed-Off Grannies, Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, PDXpeace, Peace and Justice Works, PPRC, Individuals For Justice, Portland
Copwatch and important Human Rights events in the Cascadia Region.
The event will feature two students from Evergreen College
who just returned from a trip to Venezuela. Also featured will be a film by Joe Anybody, the first part of his “Cascadia
to Caracas” two-part series. Each members of the delegation will share a short summary of why they are on this
delegation. Live Music, refreshments and fun will follow the video.
The Portland Venezuela Peace and Media delegation is
part of a larger delegation to Venezuela hosted by PCASC, the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee. PCASC,
a Portland-based nonprofit organization, has been working for peace and justice in the Portland area and in solidarity with
Latin America for over 30 years,
“PCASC is excited about this trip,” says
Megan Hise, of PSASC. “Its another trip to Venezuela and we feel even more confident about achieving our goals.”
I have been putting together a video of the highlights from over 8oo videos
I have compiled over the past few years. I am going to cover topics of: Independent media, police and activist interactions,
911 truth activist, And over a dozen different peace marches, Veterans for Peace Vigils, Iraq body Count Flag exhibits, Impeachment
Protesting, The Sit-Lie Law Protesting at City Hall, Code Pink, and a Seriously Pissed Off Grannies anti war
I am also planning to edit-in the “Mothers Day
Silent Vigil” and the short video of when the “Police Take My Camera” for the final film.
There is so much really good footage to sift through that its hard to pick
one video and then not pick another. There are so many great causes and actions that I have filmed and I would
like to share but this time slot is limited.
I am trying to work the final video down to 45 minutes. But I have a feeling
its going to run a tiny bit longer.
The music is still be arranged and the band slected will be posted here
as soon as we know the details.
The event is going to open with a few conversations with the Evergreen College
Delegation that just returned from Venezuela and they have some interesting things to share with
us all. In solidarity and in the spirit of Cascadia and our ties with our interest with Latin America
we are excited to have these speakers at our event.
This event will be in a average sized meeting room
but if the crowd size is big we can move to the larger ball room which would be nice … an RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org will help us get a head count to organize and plan on what room we will be using.
There will be plenty of room for all our friends
and fellow activist groups to have a table at this Cascadia to Caracas Event and to share their information …
so if your interested in tabling we welcome you!
Founded in 1979,
the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee educates and mobilizes community members, workers and students
around struggles for human rights and social justice throughout the Americas.
PCASC values building a sustainable progressive movement.
We believe that education, action and leaderhip are key components of building our movement and it is vital to invest in strengthening
the political analysis and organizing skills of our members and volunteers.
PCASC supports communities in their struggles to control their own lives. Our emphasis is on
building direct relationships in the communities that we support and respond to their needs. We use our resources to
amplify community voices.
PCASC creates a spacefor those with anti-capitalist, and anti-imperialist, and anti-racist
values to build community and foster conversations about these values with other members of our community.
New Military Base in Colombia Would Spread Pentagon Reach Throughout
Written by John Lindsay-Poland
The Pentagon budget submitted to Congress on May 7, 2009 includes $46
million for development of a new U.S. military base in Palanquero, Colombia.
The official justification states
that the Defense Department seeks "an array of access arrangements for contingency operations, logistics, and training in
The military facility in Colombia will give the United States military increased capacity for
intervention throughout most of Latin America. The plan is being advanced amid tense relations between Washington and Venezuela,
Bolivia, and Ecuador, and despite both a long history and recent revelations about the Colombian military's atrocious human
President Obama told hemispheric leaders last month that "if our only interaction with many of these
countries is drug interdiction—if our only interaction is military—then we may not be developing the connections
that can over time increase our influence and have a beneficial effect."1
In this Obama is on point. This base would feed a failed drug policy, support an abusive army,
and reinforce a tragic history of U.S. military intervention in the region. It's wrong and wasteful, and Congress should scrap
The new facility in Palanquero, Colombia would not be limited to counter-narcotics operations, nor even to operations
in the Andean region, according to an Air Mobility Command (AMC) planning document. The U.S. Southern Command (SouthCom) aims
to establish a base with "air mobility reach on the South American continent" in addition to a capacity for counter-narcotics
operations, through the year 2025.2
With help from the Transportation Command and AMC, the SouthCom noted that "nearly half of the
continent can be covered by a C-17 without refueling" from Palanquero. If fuel is available at its destination, "a C-17 could
cover the entire continent, with the exception of the Cape Horn region," the AMC planners wrote.3
A U.S. Embassy spokesperson in Bogota said that negotiations are not yet concluded for the base.
The SouthCom is also pursuing access to
a site in French Guiana that would permit military aircraft to reach sites in Africa, via the Ascension Islands, according
to AMC.4 SouthCom apparently sought use of facilities in Recife, Brazil for the same purpose, but "the political
relationship with Brazil is not conducive to the necessary agreements," AMC wrote.
The lease for the U.S. "Forward
Operating Location" in Manta, Ecuador expires in November 2009, and Ecuador notified Washington last year that it would not
renew the lease. The facility in Manta was authorized to conduct only counter-drug operations. Yet, according to military
spokesmen, drug traffic in the Pacific—where aircraft from Manta patrolled—has increased in recent years.5 U.S. forces in Manta also carried out operations to arrest undocumented Ecuadorans on boats in Ecuadoran
waters. But public documentation of U.S. operations conducted from Manta does not indicate use of C-17 cargo aircraft, so
their use in Palanquero apparently would represent an expanded U.S. military capacity in the region.
The "mission creep"
in the proposal for continent-wide operations from Colombia is also evident in President Obama's foreign aid request for Colombia.
While the budget request for $508 million tacitly recognizes the failure of Plan Colombia drug policy by cutting funds for
fumigation of coca crops, the White House is asking for an increase in counterinsurgency equipment and training to the Colombian
Colombian and U.S. human rights and political leaders have objected to continued funding of the
Colombian army,7 especially after revelations that the army reportedly murdered more than 1,000 civilians and alleged
they were guerrillas killed in combat, in order to increase their body count.8 The Palanquero base itself, which houses a Colombian Air Force unit, was banned from receiving U.S. aid
for five years because of its role in a 1998 attack that killed 17 civilians, including six children, from the effects of
U.S.-made cluster bombs.9 The United States resumed aid to the unit last year.
Colombian Defense Ministry sources said that
Colombia was attempting to obtain increases in U.S. military aid as part of the base negotiations.10 Palanquero offers the U.S. military a sophisticated infrastructure—a 10,000-foot runway, hangars
that hold more than 100 aircraft, housing for more than 2,000 men, restaurants, casinos, supermarkets, and a radar system
installed by the United States itself in the 1990s.11
Colombian activists also point out that a new base at Palanquero would reinforce the existing
U.S. military presence at other bases in Colombia, such as Tres Esquinas and Tolemaida. "The militarization of Palanquero
is an obstacle to effective and visionary peace initiatives such as those promoted by communities throughout the country,
as well as to the humanitarian exchanges developed by Colombians for Peace," says Danilo Rueda of the Intercongregational
Commission for Justice and Peace.12
"Colombian military bases where there are foreign—especially U.S.—soldiers, provide
tangible evidence that in this country there is neither sovereignty, nor autonomy, nor independence," says the Medellín Youth
Network. The Palanquero base, the Youth Network says, "is the political lobby, is the payment and the legal lie so that the
armed conflict generated by social inequality may be turned over to others."13
U.S. law caps the number of uniformed U.S. soldiers operating in Colombia at 800, and the number
of contractors at 600. Until last year, a significant number of them were intelligence personnel assigned to the effort to
rescue three U.S. military contractors kidnapped by the leftist FARC guerrillas. With the rescue last year of the three contractors,
many U.S. intelligence staff left Colombia, leaving space for soldiers to run operations in the prospective new U.S. base
Former defense minister and presidential candidate Rafael Pardo opposes the base. "That the Colombian government
asks for a U.S. base now would be a serious error," he says.14
Replacing one military base that was set up for the failed drug war with another base to intervene
in South America and to support the abusive Colombian army would be a serious error for the United States as well.
In February 46 national and regional U.S. organizations urged Obama to terminate military aid
to Colombia, while a letter from more than a hundred Colombian leaders urged a reformulation of policy, putting promotion
of a negotiated end to the armed conflict at its center. See http://www.forcolombia.org/monthlyupdate/march2009#president.