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Burma's exiled ethnic nationalities seminar held in North America


Newsletter for social justice and freedom in Burma
March 16 - 31, 2006

Readers’ front

Corrupt hospital workers threaten fight against curable diseases at refugee camp

Alternative solution for fuel turned into forced labour in Karen State

Farmers left with nothing after selling paddy to army

Canada’s Policy on Burma: Cham Toik

Statement of the Second Burma Forum

Mon Women Day held in America

Close Down AEIOU Programme, Due to Lack of Funds

The War Drums Are Getting Louder

Bridging the Gender Digital Divide in FOSS

Readers’ front

Dear readers,

We invite comments and suggestions on improvements to Kaowao newsletter. With your help, we hope that Kaowao News will continue to grow to serve better the needs of those seeking social justice in Burma. And we hope that it will become an important forum for discussion and debate and help readers to keep abreast of issues and news.  We reserve the right to edit and reject articles without prior notification. You can use a pseudonym but we encourage you to include your full name and address.



Kaowao News,

On “Burma: In Search of a Solution For All” (By Nai Ong Mon)

Dear Kaowao,

You are doing a great job. The important thing is the information you passed around. The only thing that all of the civil society organisations in the region should do, is to give pressure to our respective governments to do something positive.

Philip Jionisi

Dear Kaowao,

A really stimulating contribution. no other comment is offered.......but this historical overview is a sleeping timebomb.


Corrupt hospital workers threaten fight against curable diseases at refugee camp
(Kaowao: March 31, 2006)

Tham Hin refugee camp has been stricken by an outbreak of diarrhea for over two weeks, says a Mon refugee from the camp.

“The hospitals in the two camps don’t have enough medicine to treat diarrhea.  But Thai medical workers order refugees to go to the hospitals for treatment even though they are not that sick, they try to get more patients to come so that UNHCR will give them more funding,” the man said under the condition of anonymity. 

 “Meanwhile, they turn away malarial patients because they don’t want them to die in the hospital.  About 40 from a Karen refugee camp and about 7 from Person of Concern (POC) camp situated close together are suffering from diarrhea last week,” he added.

The camps, lacking in infrastructure and short of funding for medicines, do not have the appropriate drugs to treat people suffering from curable diseases such as malaria and diarrhea. The camp hospital can only provide paracetamol, a mild painkiller, to treat patients suffering from the deadly diseases.

“We don’t have enough medicine for the patients. Medical workers can only provide paracetamol even though patients are suffering from malaria,” he said.  The Mon refugee added that one Karen patient died of malaria because the hospital is out of anti-malarial drugs to fight the disease.

Tham Hin camp, near the Thai-Burma border, has a population of some 9,000 predominantly ethnic Karen refugees.  It is located in a mountainous area of Ratchaburi Province; about two hours drive from Bangkok.  Refugees International reported Tham Hin refugees suffer from lack of land, severe overcrowding, and extreme limitations on movement beyond the camp’s boundaries.

Alternative solution for fuel turned into forced labour in Karen State
(Kaowao: March 26, 2006)

The State Peace and Development Council in Pha-ann Township is implementing its physic nut (castor oil) growing project by forcing the local populations in Karen State to grow the plant, sources said.

Sources from southern Pha-ann Township said that middle school students were forced to grow 200 plants each, while villagers in Kanni village track southern Kaw-ka-reik Township were extorted 700 Kyats of Burmese currency to fulfill the project.

“Students in my village were forced to grow 200 physic nuts and the head of teacher (middle school) is frustrated with the order,” said Miss Mi Cetanarmon, a young Mon woman who worked as teacher in the area.

Nai Swoh, a Mon politician from Kaw-ka-reik told a Kaowao reporter by mobile phone that about 3000 households of the village track consisting of eight villages (mostly Mon villages) were forced to pay on orders by the village headmen received from the local commander and township officer.

The State Peace and Development Council is planning a nation wide physic-growing project to produce bio-diesel fuel, which can be used in farming equipment. In Mon State the government is planning to put into production 500,000 acres of plant cultivation within the next 3 years and 7 million acres nationwide.

In Three Pagodas Pass town area, the SPDC authorities are giving top priority to the residents by giving land, which is not yet officially recognized, if they grow physic nuts, a Kaowao reporter from the border said.  The Oslo based DVB radio reported a Burmese villager from Pe-kone Village, of Magwe Division in central Burma was arrested on 8 March for ‘criticizing’ the government imposed nationwide physic nut plantation project.

Farmers left with nothing after selling paddy to army 
(Joi Htaw, IMNA: March 20, 2006)

Farmers in Paung Township have been forced to send what is being called the “paddy tax” to Moulmein, the capital of Mon State. They had to spend money from their pockets to meet the transportation costs.

The authorities did not pay even the transportation cost, said a farmer from Zinkyaik village in Paung Township.

“We have to send the paddy very far, near Moulmein. We also have to pay for the cost of transporting it by car. There is nothing left for us,” he added. From Zinkyaik to Moulmein is about 10 miles.

The Township Peace and Development Council said they took the paddy from the farmers with their consent. But the farmers were actually threatened that they would be put in jail if they did not send the paddy by the TPDC set dateline, said a resident.

Moreover, in order to force farmers to send the paddy tax on time, the Township Peace and Development Council barred rice processors in Paung Township.

Therefore the residents were unable to convert paddy to rice which means, the farmers were not allowed to trade in paddy if they did not sell it to the military.

“They did not even say when they would allow the rice processors to operate. But some small rice processors in the farm can operate but we have to go very far,” other residents said.

Some farmers are finding it difficult arrange for their own food because the rice processors have been banned.

The households who own 10 acres of land and above had to give 10 baskets of paddy (20 cans of paddy) and those with less than 10 acres had to give 5 baskets (10 cans of paddy).

The market price of 10 baskets of paddy is 30,000 Kyat but the military authorities paid only 17,450 Kyat.

The military has not taken paddy tax from farmers for the last three years and this year only Paung Township had to give 10 baskets of paddy (20 cans of paddy).

The other townships in Mon State have been quiet. But last year, the southeast commander bought paddy from farmers in Thanpyuzayart Township by force. They bought six cans per acre.

Canada’s Policy on Burma
(By Cham Toik)

Canada has paid particular attention to the ongoing political crisis in Burma by making it possible for Burmese political leaders to get together and work at drafting a constitution. I would like to outline the initiatives undertaken so far by my host country and recommend further action to strengthen its position on facilitating democracy in my homeland.

According to the website of the Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, “Canada's policy on Burma is a direct reflection of the severe problems that the Burmese military government has created for its people, and the security concerns that the policies of its leadership and actions of its armed forces pose for the international community.” 

From the above statement, the Government of Canada remains deeply concerned about the human right’s of the Burmese people and is firmly committed to promoting democratic reform.  According to Canada, the biggest obstacles to peace in Burma is the military government and they feel the most effective way to bring about change is by working in conjunction with the international community and actively encouraging other nations, particularly its immediate neighbours, to press Burma's rulers to take concrete steps towards genuine political dialogue with the opposition.

The Canadian government has put in place a number of bilateral political and economic measures to put pressure on the military regime.  In July 2003, for instance, Canada imposed restrictive measures targeting senior members of the regime. Under these measures, the Burmese leadership, senior government officials and members of the military are to be denied visas for admission to Canada.  As well, Canada has repeatedly called on the Burmese government to release the over 1,000 political prisoners of conscience and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

Since 1991-2, Canada has provided over $18 million in aid to Burmese refugees in neighbouring countries, including Thailand and Bangladesh, through multilateral organizations such as the UNHCR, MSF and ICRD.  Assistance has also been provided to support peace building initiatives and emergency humanitarian aid (such as food and medical aid) in refugee camps outside Burma, undertaken by non-governmental organizations such as Inter Pares, the Burmese Border Consortium, and Canadian Lutheran World Relief. 

In partnership with the Canadian government and CLWR, the late Shan leader, Dr. Chao Tzang Yawnghwe launched a National Reconciliation Program (NRP) based on his vision for a strong civil society governed by the ethnic nationalities and their people. 

In this case, the NRP initiated to solve the root cause of Burma’s ongoing political crisis.  The major problems that exist in Burma now is a failure in establishing a genuine federal union agreed upon through the Panglong Agreement hammered out on February 12, 1947, signed by General Aung San and other ethnic nationalities.  When Burma gained independence from Britain in 1948 the hopes of establishing a Federal Union were dashed after General Aung San was assassinated.  The rights of the ethnic nationalities were rejected by the central government and civil war broke out.  The newly independent states spiralled into war and chaos and Karen and Mon villages were burnt to the ground with many lives lost.  The Karen National Defence Organization (KNDO) and Mon National Defence Organization (MNDO) were driven to take up arms after their leaders were imprisoned and assassinated.  Since then, the struggle for self-determination and equal rights have played a vital role up until the present day and solving the nation wide crisis will not come about until all the ethnic nationalities have a say in how they will govern their people.

I, personally, worked with the National Reconciliation Program while I was in Thailand during 2001-2.  Through this program, the diverse ethnic nationalities of Burma have been able to discuss and draft their state constitutions for a future Federal Democratic Union.  I am pleased to inform you that our Mon people have been able to discuss a future constitution for Mon state.  Representatives from other states such as Arakan, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, and Shan have also started the process of drafting their own state constitutions, also.  Since then, the ethnic nationalities have held regular conferences and meetings together in an exercise of state building while keeping in mind the interests of the people within an atmosphere of unity and good governance.  With the joint support of Canadian NGOs and the Government of Canada, this exercise has given us a better understanding of the problems we will face in the future.  It will undoubtedly contribute to the betterment of the Union of Burma.

As we all are aware, today in Burma, human rights abuses are rampant.  There is no freedom of speech, press, association or assembly. The economic, social and political situation is very unstable and fragmented. After a long dictatorship, poor governance and military repression of the population has taken a heavy toll on the people who suffer continually from economic poverty, from being uprooted through forced relocation, from forced labour and armed conflict by the government’s measure to repress the opposition and guerrilla warfare. As well, in a climate of disorder and no rule of law, rampant human trafficking, rape as a weapon of war, and opium production continue unabated along Burma’s borders and deforestation from the lack of enforcement power will have a negative impact on future sustainability. The general sentiment of the people is that the government is incapable of good governance and is only concerned with wiping out its opponents while repressing the people to abide by its burdens of imposing excessively high taxes to fight the insurgents.  As a result, thousands of refugees continue to seek refuge along the border in the neighbouring countries. 

Regarding Canada’s Policy on Burma, Canada has been putting pressure on the military regime by denouncing its grave human rights violations.  But the Government of Canada could do far more if it was really committed to finding a way to ending the political and humanitarian crisis.

There has been good news that Canada will accept at least 500 government-sponsored refugees from the Burma border areas this year.  This is a great signal for us, because “about 9,500 Burmese refugees scheduled to be resettled in the United States from Thailand this year are in limbo because their indirect support for armed rebels opposed to their repressive government has put them in technical violation of American antiterrorism law.”

A concern among Burmese activists now is Canada’s increasing focus on other countries in allocating funds through its aid program.  Canada's aid efforts have been based on strategic considerations or on situations where Canada might be able to make a difference based on strong people-to-people ties, as stated on the website:  “The Government is committed, at a minimum, to doubling (relative to 2001) Canada's international assistance to more than $5 billion per year by 2010, with an increasing focus on Africa.  Canada's increasing fiscal health has enabled the Government to increase its provision of Official Development Assistance and other international assistance. In 2004-05 the Government allocated $3.74 billion to international assistance.” 

While it is welcomed that aid is being directed to Africa, I would like to recommend to the Canadian government to keep its focus on Burma and to stay the course in supporting democratization, but also increasing funding to humanitarian efforts.  According to Burma Canadian activists, when it comes to Burma, Canada falls behind other liberal democracies such as the U.S., UK and the Scandinavian countries.  (“Canada Needs To Do More About Burma” by Tin Maung Htoo/ Coordinator of Burma Forum Canada).

The Canadian government must continue with its objective in pressing for political reform and to take decisive action to ensure that the benefits achieved so far in promoting democracy will be maintained and even reinforced with additional funding and support to meet the necessary conditions to build good governance. 

Canada has a favourable role to play in the international community because of its contribution toward peace keeping.  With its mediation power it should use Canada’s influence to bring the case of Burma to the regional and international institutions.  Canada can lobby in different international forums such as UN, APEC, EU and ASEAN and; mediate other states to bring the case of Burma to the United Nations Security Council as proposed by Noble Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu and former president of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel.  Without international support, it will be a long road ahead for the people of Burma to build a peaceful and harmonious democratic federal Union.

(A presentation at the Burma Forum held in Ottawa on March 17-18, 2006.)

Works cited

“Government of Canada Website”


             Last updated 2006-03-10

Provision of Anti terror Law Delays Entry of Refugees

         New York Times: March 7, 2006

“Canada's International Development: A Snapshot”

The Statement of the Second Burma Forum (Canada)
Ottawa, March 21, 2006

The 2nd Burma Forum (Canada) was held successfully at the Embassy West Hotel in Ottawa from March 17 to 18, 2006. The forum participants widely represented democracy activists from Burma including ethnic nationalities across Canada and the United States along with representatives from Canadian Burma support groups. The forum touched on all Burma related issues but mainly focused on the humanitarian crisis, recent new political initiative of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Canadian foreign policy towards Burma.

It is indeed the second opportune time for Burmese Diasporas and Canadian supporters across Canada to get together to exchange views and concerns on situation in Burma and to generate collective policy recommendations to the Government of Canada. After having two-day long frank and open discussion, the Forum unanimously agreed the following messages to deliver to the Government of Canada.

Humanitarian Crisis in Burma

The forum gravely concerns upon rampant humanitarian crisis in Burma and fully supports the recent call of student leaders from inside Burma on urgent needs of humanitarian assistance to Burma.

The forum also agrees with the student leaders asking the establishment of a joint mechanism comprise with the SPDC, democracy forces led by the NLD and International donors to receive and manage the international assistance. (Statement of the “88 Student Generation” can be found as attached)

The forum fully supports the principles of the NLD on humanitarian assistance that transparency, accountability and closed monitoring are fundamental necessities to be an effective assistance delivery system.

The forum believes that the humanitarian crises are not because of natural disaster or scarcity of resources but only as a result of systemic failure of incumbent authorities in Burma. Therefore, an urgent humanitarian intervention by international community under the auspices of the UN Security Council is strongly recommended in addition to provision of humanitarian aid. 

The forum urges the Government of Canada to increase humanitarian assistance significantly in order to cope with appalling situation along the Burma border as well as inside the country.

NLD’s new political initiative “Olive Branch” Offer

The Forum fully respects the will of the people clearly expressed through the 1990 general elections and thus supports recent proposal by the NLD for power sharing, as a practical solution for protracted political stalemate in Burma. (Statement of NLD can be found as attached)

The Forum expects the NLD’s political initiative will lead to a stage that will allow equal participation of all ethnic nationalities in the political process as the best means for national reconciliation in Burma consecutively expressed in the UN General Assembly resolutions since 1994.

The forum strongly urges the State Peace and Development Council, ruling military regime of Burma, to get into gracious Burmese New Year, which will begin from April 17, 2006, by responding positively to the mutually acceptable proposal of the NLD.

The Forum urges the Government of Canada to support the NLD’s initiative and also encourages international community, especially ASEAN countries, China and India to lend their support.

Canadian Foreign Policy on Burma

The Forum appreciates and thanks on current measures and efforts by the government and people of Canada for restoration of human dignity and democracy in Burma but still believes that the Canadian Government could and should do more effectively in both unilateral as well as multilateral levels.

The Forum urges the Government of Canada to implement the Burma Motion, which was passed by majority vote in the House of Commons in May 2005.

The Forum welcomes and thanks the call of former Czech President Vaclav Havel and 1984 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, calling for the UN Security Council (UNSC) to act in Burma.

The Forum welcomes the first ever closed-door briefing of the UNSC on December 16, 2005, on the situation in Burma and expects the UNSC will continue to seize the matter. The Forum urges the Government of Canada to increase its diplomatic effort to make this possible.

The Convening Committee is preparing for detailed report and will submit to the Government of Canada soon.

The Forum deeply appreciates the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Canada, Euro Burma Office and Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) for their strong support to make this event successful.

The Forum also appreciates all Forum participants and volunteers for their hard work for the success of this event.

The Forum sincerely expects that the Canadian Government will take these recommendations, which reflect collective desire of the Burmese community in Canada, into serious consideration.

Convening Committee

Burma Forum Canada

Mon Women Day held in America
(By Mi Wossorn: March 14, 2006)

3rd anniversary of Mon Women Day was celebrated in Fort Wayne, Indiana state, organized by the Mon Women Organization (USA). 

On March 12, over 90 Mons gathered for the Mon Women Day which recognizes on the birth date of a famous Mon Queen Mi Jao Bu (Shin Saw Pu) in honor of her ability, grace and truthfulness that brought the Honsawaddy Mon kingdom to the glory of peace and prosperity.  In the morning, alms donation was made to the Buddhist monks, received the five precepts and shared merits to those who passed away in Mon national struggle and the Queen.

Brief biography and the joint statement of Mon Women Organization from the USA and Canada were read during the gathering. The Mon Women Organization also reported their annual activities and organization budget.  “We are happy to celebrate this special day to honour our respected queen and raising awareness’ of Mon women issues” said Mi Pakao Rot, Secretary General of the MWO.

Mi Jao Bu, the only queen in Burma, was born on 12th day of 12th in the year of 755 Mon lunar calendar (Mar 23, 1394). She was abducted by the Burmese King Thiha Thu on the way to pay respect Shwedagon Pagoda. She was then seized as a queen of the Burmese kings in Ava. Mi Jao Bu was secretly brought back to Honsawaddy by two Buddhist monks.  She ruled the Mon kingdom for 19 years and passed away at the age of 76.

The first Mon Women Day was celebrated in 2004 in the USA and Canada.

Close Down AEIOU Programme, Due to Lack of Funds

The tertiary educational programme for the Burmese Refugees, IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), Migrant Workers and Potential Youths from inside the country may have to close down due to lack of funds. EWOB which has been silently implementing this project for the last six years (including 3 years pilot project) is now facing acute funding problems as it can no longer feed the students nor provide transport to Chiangmai University and pay honorarium to the professors and office staff and most importantly is unable to transport them back to their own community.

The main donor has allotted only one third of the overall budget this academic year, before sending an evaluation team. Even though there is a bright prospect for renewing the support in the ensuing years, the Programme’s fund will be completely depleted by the end of March 2006.

The 27 students (1st 2nd and 3rd years) from 11 ethnic groups including the Burmans are now in the doldrums.

The AEIOU Programme which is a de facto National University in Diaspora is not even in the agenda of the Burma Donor’s Meeting to be held at the end of this month in Brussels (EIAS). So there is no hope of getting from anywhere else. Hence they appeal to any compassionate, sympathetic and passionate individual or organization to help them with any amount they can donate expeditiously. The minimum budget to complete this programme is just Euros 25,000. 

Around the globe

The War Drums Are Getting Louder

(By Stephen Lendman / 01 April, 2006)

The way things are today, why on earth would the "big fool lunatics in charge" in Washington ever want another war or maybe two of them. Already they're "waist deep in the Big Muddy" in two out-of-control debacles in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the country is leaching multi-billions we don't have to pay for them. Despite this hopeless chaos, it looks almost certain we're now headed for a new one against another Middle East 4-letter country beginning with the letter "I", and may try to "double our displeasure" by including a "fracas in Caracas." I just learned about an "Operation Bilbao" which appears to be blueprint to overthrow the Chavez government and likely includes in it targeted assassinations starting with the guy in charge.

Do these neocrazies in Washington really think they can pull all this off - wars on four fronts. Don't these guys have anyone around with a sense of history? Forget about morality and such. These folks have none of that. But even kids in high school learn that Hitler was doomed when he decided to wage war on two fronts. And we all know what happened to Napoleon and a few other less notables. It's what happens when your "eyes get bigger than your stomach", and the indigestion that results is called "demise by overreach." It's no different now than a couple of generations ago or a couple of centuries either.


Call it the curse of having too much oil or maybe any. If only they just grew stuff we eat there instead of pumping the stuff our "gas guzzlers" do. Iran and Venezuela have so much of the "black gold" their countries are practically floating on it. But in a world where a predatory USA can't even breathe without it, that makes them public enemies one and two - unless they agree to hand it all over to us. In "Godfather" language, that's called "making an offer they can't refuse." That's the way it works in a world where "only what we say goes and we make all the rules." Any nation unwilling to follow our orders and obey them becomes a target for regime change by whatever means it takes - including by illegal aggression using industrial strength nuclear weapons the US now plans to throw around like hand grenades.

I've written some in other articles about Iran and said then and now I believe things are "hotting up" as my UK friends would say. They're No. one in the target queue, and it could be (nuclear) bombs away at any time. But here I only want to discuss Venezuela because after Iran I have almost no doubt Venezuela is next. The US may even try to make it a twosome in their infinite lunacy. These reckless, lawless fools are often wrong but never in doubt. When you rule the world or want to, you even believe you have the right to blow it up.

To understand what's in the wind, all you have to do is clean out your ears, open your eyes and pay attention. The US war drums are beating a duet, and they're getting louder. Listen up, here's the message on the Venezuelan front. On March 28, the Virginia Pilot of Norfolk, VA (that's where the biggest US naval force is based and where I once lived for a year) reported that the US Navy is sending an aircraft carrier strike group composed of four ships and 60 aircraft to Caribbean and South American waters for a "major" training exercise. All four ships are capable of launching cruise missiles that might and could be armed with nuclear warheads. By my reckoning, that's a provocative and hostile act.

Now combine that with the growing hostile rhetoric coming out of Washington directed at Hugo Chavez. I wrote in a previous article that Latin American expert James Petras wrote (now some months ago) that the US has a strategy to overthrow President Chavez by military force and at the same time destroy the Cuban revolution in a "two step" process - "first overthrow the Chavez government in Venezuela, cut off the energy supply and trade links (to Cuba) and then proceed toward economic strangulation and military attack." He also believed then the US would employ a "triangular strategy" to overthrow Chavez - "a military invasion from Colombia, US intervention (by air and sea attacks plus special forces to assassinate key officials) and an internal uprising by infiltrated terrorists and military traitors, supported by key media, financial and petrol elites."

That's an ominous scenario to consider, but now add to it the kind of Washington rhetoric that makes it all sound possible. Here's some of the language from 2005 to the present, and it's getting meaner. Various US officials including CIA Chief Porter Goss, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and a growing number of others have called President Chavez a "threat to democracy" and an "elected dictatorship", and they said it without even a touch of irony. They accused him of doing "away with the rule of law, (packing) the courts (and) carrying out anti-democratic activities" like a dictator.

It gets worse. The just updated National Security Strategy, published so we can all read it, specifically singles out Hugo Chavez as "a demogogue awash in oil money (who is) undermining democracy and seeking to destabilize the region." The complicit US corporate media echo this venom as often as the Washington lunatics ask them to. And there's lots more of it including a recent US Army report that calls Hugo Chavez "the largest threat since the Soviet Union and Communism", and Don Rumsfeld compares him to Hitler.

And in case you missed it, I'll repeat what John Pilger (one of my great heros) wrote on March 30 on titled: "British Channel 4 paints President Chavez a Dictator -- Hugo to go?" I watched that ugly and appalling piece of rot on March 27, painful as it was to do it. In his article Pilger says "This was a piece seemingly written by the US State Department....." It sure sounded like it, and I've heard enough of it through the years to agree. Here's a choice line from it Pilger quotes: "He (Chavez) is in danger of joining a rogue's gallery of dictators and despots --Washington's latest Latin nightmare." There's so much more of the worst kinds of gross lies and deception in the Channel 4 report, but you get the idea. Read the Pilger article if you haven't yet. Unlike myself, a simple amateur, he's a pro's pro, an honest one, and as good as they come.

All of what I cite above are the clearest signals yet something is up and will happen - the only question is when and precisely what. I only hope but do believe Hugo Chavez is listening and hunkering down for "the inevitable."


It makes no difference to the Washington crowd that Hugo Chavez was democratically elected twice, is loved by the overwhelming majority of his people and has already survived three attempts by the US to oust him. Coming up for sure is number four. Chavez surely knows this and also believes (as do I) that this time the US plan is to kill him. In US perverted logic, they believe - no more Hugo Chavez, no more Bolivarian revolution. Well, President Chavez may have a thing or two to say about the first premise, and the Venezuelan people may have a thought or two about the second, at least the 80% of them who cherish it and will likely fight to keep it.

Readers should understand and never forget that Hugo Chavez gave the people of Venezuela a participatory democracy and an array of essential social programs for everyone, especially the 80% or more poor or desperately poor who never before had them. That's why the majority of Venezuelans love him, will likely fight to protect and keep him, and will never easily surrender the essential services they now have. That's also why the US hates him and will try to remove him. He represents the greatest of all threats to us - a good example, one that may spread to other nations, and we can never tolerate that. It's bad for business. By US rules it's corporations first, second, third, and to hell with the people. We're doing the same thing here in the US so why would we ever care about those dark-skinned Venezuelans - except the rich ones, of course. With them the only color that counts is green.

For the ordinary people everywhere, the virulent undercurrent of racism always surfaces as a key factor in the target countries we choose. Since the beginning of the republic, race hate has been so much a part of our white leaders' DNA that even caucasian Arab people aren't white enough. And the only post-WW II war we've fought that's an exception was the illegal aggression against and breakup of Yugoslavia. In that case, strategic factors outweighed race. The exception, as they say, proves the rule.


I've written several times before that the George Bush junta today is taking the US from a republic to tyranny, and we're already perilously close. This is a man who believes he's "above the law" and the "Constitution is just a goddamed piece of paper." I say this in deadly seriousness, this is not a test, it's real and it's coming unless we find a way and soon to stop it. Is anyone paying attention? All my senses detect it enough to make my skin crawl, and I'm desperately trying to sound the alarm to all I can reach including Hugo Chavez who I respect, admire and can only wish we had someone like him here. We need a lot of Hugo Chavezes and a few more Paul Reveres to echo the alarm, but this time it's not a case of "one if by land and two if by sea." It's coming at us from all directions, and it may be armed with a nuclear warhead abroad and the end of our republic and sacred constitutional rights here with martial law and tyranny replacing them. It's that serious. Is anyone listening?

(Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at

GLOBAL: Bridging the Gender Digital Divide in FOSS

Social justice advocates welcome the development of Free Open (or Libre) Source Software (FOSS) and regard it as having the potential to make a significant contribution towards bridging not only the digital divide, but also the gender divide. According to the Association for Progressive Communications, the Free Open Source movement is based on ''Open'' pillars: Open Source, Open Standards and Open Content. FOSS (or FLOSS, as it is sometimes called) gives a licence to users to access software source codes, modify them and redistribute the original or modified programs. Women, both in the North and South, stand to gain tremendously from the FOSS movement and it is hailed as having the potential to deliver appropriate information and communication technology on a grand scale to disadvantaged groups.


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