NAM Summit Ends with Vow to Strengthen Developing World

NAM rejected the economic blockade of Cuba, condemned Europe's policy on refugees, and supported Palestine and Puerto Rico in their struggle against occupation.

In the closing declaration of the 17th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, released Sunday, member states committed to revitalizing the movement and urging the United Nations to reform towards a better inclusion of their countries in the Security Council.

ANALYSIS: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Non-Aligned Movement

“This document gathers the 17 previous summits,” said Venezuelan host and President Nicolas Maduro in his closing address. “Here is written the history of the struggle of humanity of the peoples from the (Global) South for their right to peace,” added Maduro, whose country took up the group's presidency on Saturday from Iran.

Maduro also announced that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC countries were "close" to reaching a deal aimed at stabilizing global oil markets.

Among the 21 points the document outlined, the members states committed to building more solidarity and launching new alliances, for instance with the BRICS states; and to work on promoting peace, eradicating poverty and addressing climate change on the world stage.

NAM also rejected the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, condemned Europe's policy on refugees, and expressed support for the people of Palestine and Puerto Rico in their struggle against occupation and for self-determination.

Speaking at the summit, which opened Tuesday, Cuban President Raul Castro warned that Venezuela was being targeted by a U.S. economic war aimed at toppling Maduro.

RELATED: Castro Demands End of Blockade at Non-Aligned Movement Meeting

"Venezuela is facing an onslaught ... that is against all of Latin America and the Caribbean, that is trying to re-impose and recolonize the politics, economy, culture and life of our countries," he said.

Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa said OPEC runs the risk of falling apart over differences on market strategy.

"Clearly OPEC has weakened and there is a danger of it disintegrating," Correa said, speaking on the sidelines of the summit.

Leaders from the 120-nation group gathered on the Caribbean island of Margarita, just off Venezuela's coast. According to Maduro, "this summit, we can say, has been a total success, a victory of Bolivarian diplomacy."

  • Published in World

Obama Calls for Peace and Comity at Home, But Favors Wars and Killer Drones Abroad

President Barack Obama made an eloquent plea for sanity and peace following the latest deadly assault on police officers — this time a gunman with an assault rifle shooting and killing three cops in Baton Rouge and wounding another three, one critically injured.

He struck just the right tone, condemning the killings but also warning against politicians and media talking heads using the incident to stir up more divisions. As he put it:

Someone once wrote, “A bullet need happen only once, but for peace to work we need to be reminded of its existence again and again and again.”

The president continued:

“My fellow Americans, only we can prove, through words and through deeds, that we will not be divided. And we’re going to have to keep on doing it “again and again and again.” That’s how this country gets united. That’s how we bring people of good will together. Only we can prove that we have the grace and the character and the common humanity to end this kind of senseless violence, to reduce fear and mistrust within the American family, to set an example for our children.”

It was a moving call to bring this violence-plagued feuding country together — people respecting the police, and police respecting the people, black, brown, red, yellow and white.

And yet I wonder, why did the president say this only applying to violence in our own country?  This is, remember, the same president who chairs weekly meetings to decide who will be killed next somewhere in the world by our high-tech drones — remotely piloted killing machines with grotesque names like Predator and Reaper, armed with their obscenely but aptly named Hellfire missiles. Victims who include not just suspected or alleged “terrorists” but also innocent members of their families, including young children, not to mention the all too many innocents who either happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or who are simply victims of targeting errors or “intelligence” errors.

How can this president, who is so quick to approve bombing campaigns in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Somalia, or to send in Special Forces death squads to countries like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, or to extend a war launched in 2001 by his predecessor against one of the poorest nations in the world — Afghanistan — for not just the eight years of his own violence-plagued presidency, but into the next one, be so eloquent about not turning to violence in the US?

Curious about his unattributed quotation, I googled it, and discovered it had been penned by Colum McCann. a writing professor at New York’s Hunter College, a native of Dublin, Ireland and author of several novels, including Let the World Spin and TransAtlantic.

I can see why the president didn’t mention McCann’s authorship of that line, or more importantly, the context in which he used it.

In fact, it appeared in an essay by McCann, which ran as an opinion piece in the New York Times on March 30, 2013.  And that article recalled how peace was finally achieved in the endless war zone of Northern Ireland, where Catholics and Protestants, along with the British Army, had spent over half a century slaughtering each other. It was written to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday peace agreement between the two mutual enemies which was brokered by George Mitchell, the former Democratic senator from Maine who as US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland oversaw two years of tough negotiations to end the violence and bloodshed.

That article went on to say of that peace agreement:

“It is one of the great stories of the second half of the 20th century, and by the nature of its refusal to topple, it is one of the continuing marvels of the 21st as well. While rockets fizzle across the Israeli border, and funeral chants sound along the streets of Aleppo in Syria, and drones cut coordinates in the blue over Kandahar, Afghanistan, the Irish peace process reaffirms the possibility that — despite the weight of evidence against human nature — we are all still capable of small moments of resurrection, no matter where we happen to be.

“This is the Easter narrative: that the stone can be rolled away from the cave.

“Hundred of years of arterial bitterness, in Ireland and elsewhere, are never easy to ignore. They cannot be whisked away with a series of signatures. It takes time and struggle to maintain even the remotest sense of calm. Peace is indeed harder than war, and its constant fragility is part of its beauty. A bullet need happen only once, but for peace to work we need to be reminded of its existence again and again and again.”

McCann, in other words, wrote those words as a rather direct criticism of President Obama and his default policy of war in Syria, in Afghanistan, as criticism of Obama’s enthusiastic use of drone warfare, and as criticism too of America’s ally and protectorate Israel’s brutal attacks on its occupied Palestinian population. He was saying clearly in that essay that the answer to these conflicts is not war but peace.

How relatively easy it is for those words to flow from the president’s lips when he’s talking about America’s domestic disputes, but how unwilling he is to admit that the same truth applies to international conflicts. For these conflicts will not be solved by killing and brutality, by war and occupation, much less by escalating the violence. They can only be solved by the painful and slow process of negotiation, diplomacy and compromise, and ultimately by the achieving of mutual understanding, tolerance and trust.

If we needed any evidence of that reality, we only need to look at Nice, where 84 people this week were slaughtered by a French Tunisian immigrant acting in the name of ISIS, which is itself the product of the years of US destruction of Iraq, Libya and now Syria, in which hundreds of thousands of innocent Arab people have been slaughtered by American military forces, cooperating NATO forces, including those of France, and by the unleashed hatreds of feuding Arab populations themselves, whose festering internecine hatreds were stoked, often deliberately, by US policy-makers.

If I were McCann, I’d sue President Obama for stealing and not crediting my words, and would demand that he either pay damages or concede that the usurped words apply equally well, if not better, to his two disastrous presidential terms of endless wars and extrajudicial killing-by-drone.

Venezuela Wants Peace With US: Delcy Rodriguez

Relations should be "grounded on respect, equality and sovereignty between states," said Rodriguez.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, repeated Sunday that the government of Nicolas Maduro wanted to maintain diplomatic relations with the United States, grounded on mutual respect.

RELATED: Venezuela: Seized Factory Was Well Stocked but Wasn't Producing

“Since last year, President Maduro has stated to Barack Obama's administration his government's will to maintain relations,” she said during an interview with Jose Vicente Hoy on the public TV channel VTV.

She added that the relations should be "grounded on respect, equality and sovereignty between states—principles included in the United Nations Charter."

Rodriguez warned that Venezuela will not tolerate any interference in its domestic affairs, and called on the U.S. administration to think twice before making any move against the Venezuelan government, saying it could affect the population dramatically.

“We are aware of the moves against our people, like the economic war, the various attacks, from the media, the financial power,” she said, adding that they were all part of non-conventional techniques of war “used to defeat governments that are not aligned with the interests of the Empire.”

  • Published in World

Breakaway FARC Unit Opposes Peace Deal, Says It Will Not Disarm

"We have decided not to demobilize, we will continue the fight for the taking of power by the people for the people," the group said.

A unit of Colombia's FARC rebel group said on Wednesday that it will not lay down arms or demobilize under a potential peace deal with the government, the first public sign of opposition to an accord from within the rebel ranks that may set back efforts to end five decades of war.

ANALYSIS: 7 Key Points: What Comes After the Cease-Fire in Colombia? 

The statement by the Armando Rios First Front, a 200-strong guerrilla unit in the southeastern jungle province of Guaviare, comes after leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government announced a ceasefire deal on June 23, following more than three years of peace talks.

"We have decided not to demobilize, we will continue the fight for the taking of power by the people for the people, independent of the decision taken by the rest of the members of the organization," the unit said in a statement on Wednesday.

The unit, which famously held ex-presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three American contractors hostage, said the deals being reached at talks in Cuba will not solve the social and economic problems which first motivated the Marxist group to take up arms in 1964.

President Juan Manuel Santos has said the peace talks, aimed at ending a conflict which has killed more than 220,000 and displaced millions, may conclude as early as this month. Any deal will be put to Colombians for approval in a plebiscite vote.

Armando Rios First Front, which is known to have links to the drug trade, said it would respect any FARC rebels who agree to peace, but called on other units to join forces to continue the fight.

"We invite all guerrillas and militia who are not in agreement with demobilization and the laying down of FARC weapons to join forces and continue united as an organization," the statement said.

OPINION: Colombia Eyewitness: The Last Day of the War

Santos said earlier on Wednesday that any FARC unit that does not adhere to a peace agreement would end up “in a grave or jail,"

FARC leaders negotiating the peace deal in Havana did not immediately respond to the decision by the breakaway unit, but security sources said other units could also reject a peace agreement, and throw the process into doubt.

  • Published in World

UN Promotes Sport as Tool of Inclusion

United Nations, Apr 6 (Prensa Latina) On the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace the UN calls today for its practice as promoter of human dignity and inclusion. In this third annual celebration, it urged governments, organizations, companies and all agents of society to take advantage of the values and the power of sport to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, stated the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, in his message for the date.

Ban called the sport a unique and powerful tool to promote the equal and inalienable rights of individuals, as well as a positive social change.

'That is the reason why some of the greatest athletes have dedicated and continue to dedicate themselves to helping the United Nations to raise awareness on important issues, such as hunger, HIV/AIDS, gender equality and environmental management, "pointed out speaking about the date stablished by the General Assembly in August 2013.

According to the Secretary General, the International Day is celebrated in the context of a major global challenge, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted here last September by the international community.

To realize these goals we should involve all sectors of society, for which sports has an essential role to play, he noted.

  • Published in Sports
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