About Benjamin Melançon

Student-on-hold, ex-stocker and failed union agitator, ex-white-collar consultant and now co-founder and developer at Agaric Design Collective, making web sites with open source free software.

My Narcosphere intro.

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Benjamin Melançon's Comments

NYC Police Breaking Up Occupy Wall Street Under False Pretext of Cleaning
Oct 14 2011 - 12:54pm
Drug war laws used for dreadful revenge against justice activist
Apr 5 2011 - 6:22am
East Harlem Victory Against Multinational Landlord
Oct 22 2009 - 3:43am
Tough Odds in Costa Rica Mediation
Jul 10 2009 - 5:24am
Coup and Me Against the World
Jul 3 2009 - 10:53am

U.S. Opposes the Poor in Haiti at Every Turn

Post-coup interim (one year, seven months and counting) prime minister Gerard Latortue announced that elections would be delayed again--but not the date of installation of a new president.  Meanwhile, more evidence emerges of the many-tentacled role the United States government is playing in keeping the unelected and unrepresentative government it installed in power.

The latest Reed Lindsay article, as published by the Washington Times today, confirms and expands many things already known, including things recently reported by the AHP (and available translated by contacting Mike Levy at mlhaiti at cornernet, dot com).

Lindsay wrote:

Haitians from all walks of life are on the U.S. government payroll, including more than 800 street sweepers, who earn $2 a day through a program financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the prime minister's spokesman, whose $4,000 monthly salary is paid by the agency.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman who asked to remain anonymous said Washington pays "technical advisers" to work in several "key ministries" and the prime minister's office.

"This interim government would have fallen without the United States," said Leslie Voltaire, a Cabinet member under Mr. Aristide who was part of a three-member commission that helped form the interim government in March last year.

"The United States has subcontracted Brazil for security and Canada for economic development. But they're all reporting to Washington. The final decisions are made there," Mr. Voltaire said.

Harm Reduction Movement Gaining Foothold in U.S.

‘Harm Reduction’ Offers Solution to Meth Addiction in Imperfect World by Michelle Chen.

This story, courtesy the NewStandard News, producing hard news stories from a progressive standpoint every weekday...

War on the Poor in Haiti

Lavalas lumped with criminal gangs while police and paramilitaries free to kill
Activist and Z-Net contributor Justin Podur reports from Port-au-Prince on Friday:

Last week we talked to Desmond Molloy, an old soldier who heads the 'DDR' program for MINUSTAH, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti. 'DDR' stands for Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration. Molloy's previous experience, among other conflicts, was in Sierra Leone. There, he explained, there were two armed sides - rebels and the government - waging a political and military conflict.  [...]

Molloy came to Haiti expecting to do similar work. But Haiti's 'DDR' was quickly changed when MINUSTAH and Molloy himself discovered there was 'no political space' for a dialogue between the two sides. He would have hoped the interim government would have shown more understanding and magnanimity, but they did not. Those who overthrew the government and were in power with the support of the US, Canada, and France, in other words, saw no reason to talk to the people they had defeated. So while the former Haitian Army and paramilitaries who overthrew Aristide's government remain armed and remain a threat, and while the police continue to commit human rights violations, MINUSTAH's DDR has retooled itself to focus on gangs.

Read the whole post at Podur's blog.

Not Even Cubans Welcome in Bush's U.S.

The coast guard intercepted ten Cubans trying to move to the U.S. just before they reached land (but apparently well after reaching U.S. territorial waters), sending six back to Cuba and the other four to the legal limbo of Guantánamo.

The Bush administration apparently considers any immigration a threat to political stability-- except immigration by people vetted for specific training and immediate entry into the upper middle class, or kept without rights such as Mexican migrant workers.  (Good old accomplices in terrorism like Posada or Emmanuel "Toto" Constant are also excepted.)

Grassroots Lavalas choice for Haiti President prevented from registering

"10 candidates registered this Tuesday at the CEP for the offices of president, senator and deputy: Lavalas cadres and activists were prevented from registering Father Gérard Jean-Juste"-- from AHP, unofficially translated by Mike Levy:

Port-au-Prince, September 13, 2005 (AHP)- About ten candidates registered this Tuesday with the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) for the offices of president, senator and deputy.
For their part, the activists and cadres of Fanmi Lavalas were not able to register Father Gérard Jean-Juste; a CEP official indicated that the candidate must appear in person at the CEP office.  However, Father Jean-Juste has been incarcerated since July 21st on imprecise grounds.  
In related news, officers of the national police and MINUSTAH soldiers were accused of blocking the way for numerous Lavalas activists this Tuesday who wished to go to the CEP to register the imprisoned priest.  

AHP September 13,  2005 12:50 PM

Brazilian general replaces Brazilian general as military commander for UN forces in Haiti

Fromn AHP report yesterday "New Brazilian general appointed military commander of MINUSTAH," translated (unofficially) by Mike Levy and Isabelle Desbiens:

Port-au-Prince, August 31, 2005 (AHP)- Another Brazilian general was sworn in this Wednesday as military head of the UN mission in Haiti, replacing General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro.

The new commander is Brigadier General Urano Texeira Da Matta Bacellar.

Haitian police massacre up to 20 people at suburban soccer game

Democracy Now! interviewed Johanna Berrigan, who talked to witnesses after the event, this morning:

there was a soccer game for young adults where there were three to four thousand people in attendance.  And at the halftime, police came into the soccer field, ordered the DJ to announce that everyone should get down, and police began firing into the crowd, the Haitian National Police.  With them were individuals who were armed bandits but were able to identify for the police, for reasons we’re not sure of, who should be killed.  So as the police shot into the crowd, people were trying, it became mayhem, people were trying to climb over the walls and as people were escaping some of them were actually cut down with machetes.  When the police came, they surrounded the stadium with fifteen cars and four ambulances and the purpose for the ambulances was to place the bodies of the dead in the ambulances and take them away.

Equador: Army Pushes Protesters from Oil Facilities

Ecuador's army, using tear gas and inflicting numerous injuries, forced protesters from a number of the oil production facilities they had occupied, crippling output in the oil-rich Amazonian region of the country, the BBC reported this morning.  "Protesters want some of Ecuador's oil money to be invested in the region," the BBC wrote.  They want oil income, which counts for 25% of Ecuador's GDP, "spent on infrastructure and new jobs."

The BBC even takes a stab at context:

Not all sections of Ecuadorian society have benefited equally from oil revenues.

The traditionally dominant Spanish-descended elite gained far more than the indigenous peoples, who make up a large proportion of those who live in poverty.

The BBC doesn't choose to connect this injustice with a lack of true democracy and the fact that troops can be sent in to make it a reality when "The authorities say they will not negotiate until the protests cease."

The people are pressuring President Alfredo Palacio to drop the neoliberal policies of his ousted predecessor, Lucio Gutierrez, BBC correspondents report.  And the demands on Ecuador's government to represent Ecuador's people are not going to end with the removal of activists from the oil facilities.

Central American Rulers Push for U.S.-supported Militarized Police

In the aftermath of CAFTA, the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua have proposed creating a regional rapid-response police force with military-assault capabilities-- if, that is, the United States government will provide resources for it.

This may be a statement from Central American governments to the United States government: you want us to join you in CAFTA, so give us the money, guns, and military training to control our people.  Drugs, gangs, and the generally violent consequences of making drugs illegal are, as usual, excuses for more police and increased state power.

Whether or not to the so-called trade agreement has anything to do with the insistence that the U.S. sponsor the militarized police force, the United States' main export to Central America may end up being both sides of the drug war.

Reporters Forced Out of Muckraking Oaxaca Newspaper Office

The Word Socialist Web Site's latest 'Workers Struggles: The Americas' has an update on the newspaper whose opposition to the regional Mexican government has brought it under siege by allies of the ruling party.

On July 21 hundreds of workers marched through Oaxaca, a city in southwest Mexico, in solidarity with employees of the Noticias Voz e Imagen de Oaxaca newspaper who had been brutally assaulted July 18 by an armed goon squad. Thirty-one press workers were conducting a sit-in to defend the offices of Noticias, an opposition newspaper, and were violently expelled by the masked men, who were armed with baseball bats and metal rods. After expelling the reporters, the goons vandalized the newspaper’s equipment.

Several columns of protesters marched across the city with signs that blamed the assault on state authorities and called for an end to the repression of workers.

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