Hans Vermeer made this video.
This video from Germany says about itself:
13 February 2017
Sylvain L’Espérance on his film COMBAT AU BOUT DE LA NUIT at the Berlinale 2017.
2 March 2017
Combat au bout de la nuit (Fighting Through the Night) is a marathon, 285-minute documentary detailing the social crisis in Greece, from veteran Canadian director Sylvain L’Espérance.
The film opens with a debate in the Greek parliament. We see the speaker of the house reading through a new law affecting the judiciary. He raises one article of the new bill after another, calls for a vote and then in a monotone declares a majority in favour. In fact, there are only three deputies sitting in the chamber. None of them raises a hand to vote. One of the deputies objects and explains that she opposes the bill. She notes that nobody is voting in favour. Her objections are simply ignored by the speaker and the bill is passed.
After this brief introduction to Greek democracy, the film switches to the streets. The year is 2014 and we are well into the Greek finance and social crisis. Fighting Through the Night shows the nearly 600 cleaners sacked by the Greek finance ministry picketing the building and blockading the entrance to their employer. Police try to secure access and brutally push and shove the women. Through the window, we see ministry bureaucrats going about their business—finalising plans for yet new austerity measures that will force millions more into destitution and misery.
Additional footage in L’Espérance’s documentary deals with the appalling plight of African and Arab refugees in Greece forced to fish food from rubbish bins in order to eat. Having fled poverty and war in the hope of earning enough money in Europe to provide for their families back home, they retrieve worn-out shoes from the garbage to sell at a night market for a few euros. The make-shift homes of Roma are crushed by bulldozers hired by property speculators intent on their next profitable developments.
Volunteer doctors in Athens administer to the many thousands of ordinary Greeks unable to pay for elementary medical care. An individual who works without pay in a clinic for patients without health insurance tells the filmmakers: “We are trying to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in times of upheaval. It is my duty to help.”
If the situation was bad in 2014, it is even worse two years later when the filmmaker return to do additional reporting on the social disaster.
The film, to its credit, polarises audiences. The right-wing Die Welt newspaper, which has fully supported the savage austerity measures imposed on the Greek people, was scandalised by Fighting Through the Night, which dares to point a finger at the German government and the European Union as guilty parties. “A monster…..Formless, unbelievably redundant…. a film for those with a fetish for cleaners,” fumed the paper.
The film’s criticisms of the ruthless policy of the EU and German government are entirely justified. We know that the Greek debt crisis is much worse than it was when the EU began implementing austerity.
The synopsis of Fighting Through the Night also points out that the capitulation of the Syriza-led government headed by Alexis Tsipras “led to a third memorandum imposing even harsher measures than the previous ones”.
This video says about itself:
1945 (Fortyfive) – Ferenc Török Film Clip (2017)
15 February 2017
The shimmering heat of a summer’s day in rural Hungary in August 1945. A kind of torpor envelops the village. The drug store owner is getting ready for his son’s wedding, the signalman is changing the points at the station, and the coach driver is waiting for customers.
Two strange men descend from the train, clad in black. They are father and son; survivors of the Holocaust. They walk in silence behind a waggon on which they are transporting two boxes. Rumours spread like wildfire through the village. Do the boxes contain powder, perfume and soap, and are these men going to compete with the local chemist shop?
Are they relatives of the former shop owner, a Jew who was first denounced and then deported? Fear soon spreads throughout the community, for many of them were involved in the crimes of the recent past – whether it be betrayal, silence or theft. Things that were almost forgotten now come to the fore with a vengeance. The past is not dead. It has not even passed.
Director: Ferenc Török
Writers: Gábor T. Szántó, Ferenc Török
Stars: Péter Rudolf, Bence Tasnádi, Tamás Szabó Kimmel
The Stefan Steinberg article continues:
1945 is a powerful film by Hungarian director Ferenc Török, which examines the issue of anti-Semitism in Hungary during and after World War II.
Two men dressed in black, evidently Jews, descend from a train and commence walking toward a nearby village. They are transporting two large boxes.
Their arrival in the village causes consternation. The father and son are survivors of the Holocaust. Are they seeking to regain their property, their house and their shop, which have been occupied (stolen) by local Hungarians led by the village mayor? Will other Jews with the same goal follow them?
Following on the heels of the fine Son of Saul (László Nemes, 2015), 1945 thrusts into public debate the persecution of Jews and the role played by the Hungarian ruling elite and its supporters. The film is a courageous contribution at a time when the ultra-nationalist government led by Viktor Orbán is systematically rehabilitating the virulently anti-Semitic regime of Miklós Horthy (1920-1944).
This 2016 video is called Mesmerizing Storks Migrating Through Turkey.
1 March 2017
Help us tackle illegal killing of migratory birds in Turkey!
By Zeynep Karasin
Every year approximately 6.5 million soaring birds migrate between Europe, Asia and Africa using two major flyways crossing Anatolia. 2 million storks and raptors fly over İstanbul while 1.2 million raptors pass from the Batumi bottleneck and enter Anatolia from the north-east. Millions of ducks and geese also use these paths. Sadly large numbers of these birds are killed illegally and they also face other major threats such as electrocution, poisoning and collision with powerlines.
Doğa Derneği (Birdlife in Turkey) has been working on making Turkey safer for birds for more than 15 years and has developed significant projects on the ground both through education and enforcement. At the present Doğa Derneği’s team is working in South Eastern Turkey, especially in Urfa, Birecik, and the Hatay Amanos mountains and lakes region to ensure safe passage for migratory birds. They have set up educational programs to help the people in these regions understand the importance of keeping the flyways safe. The team has also developed a conservation program for six threatened steppic species with the support of local conservation groups from all over the country.
Due to the large number of Syrian refugees residing in Turkey and especially in the Urfa province where more than 400 000 refugees are based, Doğa Derneği has also started an educational program for refugees about migratory birds and how to keep them safe during their flyways. They have recruited a former Bald Ibis warden from Palmyra Syria who is now living in Urfa to join the local Doğa Derneği conservation group. These wardens have official authority to impose fines and work on stopping illegal hunters. With an Arabic-speaking person in the team, the wardens can work much more efficiently due to the fact that a native speaker can engage directly in the situation. Doğa Derneği has also started to visit schools at refugee camps to widen their educational program about illegal killing of birds.
The Champions of the Flyway (COTF) has recognized the importance of the work carried out by Doğa Derneği in tackling the illegal killing of birds in Turkey and will therefore this year donate the funding raised by COTF race teams to Doğa Derneği. The COTF campaign is an extraordinary bird race for conservation taking place annually, in the migration hotspot of Eilat, Israel. Race teams from all around the world unite to generate funding that results in direct conservation actions for birds across the Mediterranean flyway.
Thanks to funding that is currently being raised by the 2017 Champions of the Flyway campaign, Doğa Derneği will be able to:
• Develop and implement “Nature for All” training program in project areas,
• Work closely with Syrian teachers who are officially working at schools with Syrian students and invite them to Doğa’s Nature School,
• Establish a bird-watching group with Syrian children to monitor threatened species,
• Increase the awareness of Syrian refugees settled at two different refugee camps about Turkey’s and the region’s biodiversity, legal framework, threatened species etc.,
• Design and deliver posters and flyers on threatened species and Key Biodiversity Areas in Turkish, Arabic and Kurdish language,
• Prepare and disseminate a short movie in Turkish and Arabic to be screened at public places and Syrian refugee camps.
You can make a donation to support Doğa Derneği’s work to stop illegal killing of migratory birds in Turkey by clicking here.
This video says about itself:
10 October 2015
Stop the shift to the right at Humboldt University!
2 March 2017
A political conflict is evolving at Berlin’s Humboldt University, the significance of which reaches far beyond the university campus. Professor Jörg Baberowski, who regularly advances xenophobic, authoritarian and militarist positions in public, is going to court and mobilising right-wing students to suppress criticism of his far-right positions.
Should Baberowski succeed, it would represent a blow against freedom of opinion and a further step in the transformation of the Humboldt University into a centre of right-wing, militarist ideology. While Baberowski is using his position as head of the Department of Eastern European History to propagate far-right positions at the university and beyond, students who challenge his views would risk punishment and significant professional disadvantages.
The issue is not merely a dispute at Humboldt University, but involves fundamental political questions. Baberowski’s attacks on refugees and calls for a strong state are now official German policy. Refugees are being discriminated against and deported, the police and intelligence agencies strengthened, and the defence budget doubled. There are even public discussions about the reintroduction of military service and the need for Germany to acquire its own nuclear weapons.
Broad sections of the population oppose these developments. The realisation of such a programme would require, as in the 1930s, a dictatorship. This is why Baberowski speaks out in favour of a strong state, welcomes the election of Donald Trump, defends the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and praises the Nazi jurist and theoretician of the state of emergency, Carl Schmitt.
How Baberowski deals with critics
Last year, Baberowski secured a preliminary injunction against the Student Union (Asta) in Bremen, banning it from citing and criticizing some of his right-wing statements.
Last October the Asta in Bremen called for a peaceful protest against the appearance of the right-wing professor at the university, where he was due to speak at the invitation of the Association of Christian Democratic Students (RCDS) and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The Asta cited comments by Baberowski on the refugee crisis and the “war on terror,” which they now cannot criticise or cite without risking a fine of up to €250,000. The Asta challenged this order, and the State Court in Cologne is due to rule on the case on March 15.
The action taken by the HU professor against the student representative body of another university has provoked outrage. The student parliament at Berlin’s Free University and the Assembly of Student Representative Councils (FRIV) at Humboldt University, along with other student bodies, registered protests. In Bremen, around 100 students took part in a solidarity meeting at which representatives of the IYSSE reported on the conflict with Baberowski in Berlin. The IYSSE organised a well-attended solidarity meeting addressed by representatives of the Bremen Asta at Humboldt University.
Baberowski responded to this wave of solidarity with heinous personal insults and threats directed against IYSSE members campaigning for solidarity with the Bremen students. At one of his lectures, he denounced the IYSSE, the Trotskyist youth organisation with four elected representatives on the student parliament, as a “Stalinist sect.” He accused the university management for being “cowards” because it allowed these “criminals” to act and do as they pleased. He called on his students, whose marks and career prospects depend on him, to act against the IYSSE.
An open letter is now circulating among right-wing students and ancillary staff at the institute of history addressed to the HU president, accusing the IYSSE of defaming and slandering Baberowski. It calls upon the university management to “prohibit” the IYSSE’s criticism. Management has so far remained silent about these incidents, even though the IYSSE has filed a complaint against Baberowski’s insults and threatening behaviour.
It is significant that neither Baberowski nor the students he has mobilised have uttered a word about the content of his right-wing positions. They are doing everything to silence criticism of Baberowski, but they are incapable of answering a single argument.
Yet there is no other professor who appears so frequently in the media or at public meetings and speaks so openly in favour of xenophobic, authoritarian and militarist positions. He does not even attempt to formally separate his role as a right-wing agitator from his teaching activities at the university. On his university web site, where academic publications are usually listed, he registers no less than 101 radio interviews, 39 television contributions, 32 newspaper articles and 148 essays, the vast majority of which deal with political topics.
Baberowski’s right-wing agitation
The list also includes the demagogic columns authored every month by Baberowski for the Basler Zeitung, owned by Swiss right-wing populist Christoph Blocher. The views promoted by Baberowski correspond with those advanced by Donald Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon. It is no accident that the Breitbart News web site, which Bannon previously headed, repeatedly praised the “renowned professor” Baberowski for his agitation against refugees.
Like Trump and Bannon, Baberowski praises Brexit—“a democratic exclamation mark”—as a decision of the citizens of Britain “against the policy of open borders … which Chancellor Merkel wants to impose on Europe.”
Tirades against Merkel’s refugee policy alternate with calls for ruthless state violence against Islamic terrorism. “Indifference is just another word for cowardice,” he writes. “Whoever understands only the language of violence should feel it themselves.” Referring to politicians who called for prudence in the wake of the Berlin terrorist attack, Baberowski rails, “On the political stage, the song of self-disempowerment is being sung.”
He celebrates Trump’s election victory in the Basler Zeitung as a blow “against the culture of political correctness.” He defends the AfD against the “groundless accusation” that there were fascists among its parliamentary deputies.
Another recurring issue that recalls Trump and Bannon is Baberowski’s attacks on the media and established political parties. The professor, who enjoys access to a wide range of media channels and who ruthlessly attacks his critics, creates the impression that he lives in a dictatorship where opinions are suppressed. Commenting on criticism of Völkish-nationalist ideas and xenophobia, he wrote: “With a moral pistol, the safety catch off, the dictatorship of the politically correct compels citizens to say only what it wants to hear.”
At the height of the refugee crisis in October 2015, Baberowski raged in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung against the “virtue-mania” of the “authorities,” who excluded those opposed to refugees from the debate on immigration. “In the world of the moral righteous, into which Germany has been transformed by the mainstream media, prudence and reason have been outlawed. Whoever refers to healthy common sense risks exclusion and contempt. Whoever violates the limits of the republic of virtues is to be banished to darkest Germany.”
In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Baberowski simultaneously played off socially disadvantaged sections of the population against refugees, in the style of the AfD or France’s National Front. “Why should an immigrant receive for free what those who live here have worked hard for decades to secure?” he asked. “Secretaries, construction workers, mothers who have little money available in their old age, hairdressers unable to afford a home because their wages are insufficient, do not understand why the social welfare net is there for those who have made no contribution to its financing.”
He ultimately drew on the arguments of cultural racism to justify his agitation against refugees. “The integration of several million people in a short time interrupts the continuity of our traditions, on which we base ourselves and which sustain a society and provide it with consistency,” he wrote.
There can be no doubt about the extreme right-wing character of Baberowski’s views. Even in the [right-wing] Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Jannis Panagotidis, Patrice Poutrous and Frank Wolff have criticised Baberowski for abandoning in his polemics “knowledge derived from historical migration research in favour of intervening in the debate as a ‘concerned citizen’ with pre-scientific professions of faith.”
In the taz newspaper, Daniel Bax accused “prominent publicists” of acting as “mouthpieces for right-wing and far-right circles,” and referred to Baberowski as an example. “Baberowski was invited to a CSU (Christian Social Union) meeting in Erding in early October,” he wrote. “But his theses are also shared by the NPD (a neofascist party).”
The fact that Baberowski advances far-right positions is recognized not only by his critics, but by the extreme right as well. Along with Breitbart News, the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer praised Baberowski for his agitation against refugees. In Germany, he is lauded for the same reason by the far-right newspaper Junge Freiheit and the fascist NPD.
Baberowski’s revision of history
There is a good reason why Baberowski does not separate his role as a right-wing agitator from his work as a historian. In his academic field, he also advocates far-right theses based on historical revisionism.
His work on Stalinist violence is motivated by his support for the work of Ernst Nolte, who downplayed the Nazis as an ultimately understandable reaction to Bolshevism. Although Stalin’s reign of terror in 1937 and 1938 was aimed above all against the leadership of the October Revolution, Baberowski persistently refused to acknowledge any break between the October Revolution and Stalinism. And although the mere accusation of Trotskyism amounted to a death sentence, he denies the fact that the Trotskyist Left Opposition waged an embittered struggle against Stalinism on the basis of a socialist and internationalist perspective.
In early 2014, Baberowski told Der Spiegel that he had already defended Nolte at the time of the Historikerstreit (Historians’ Dispute) when Baberowski was a student. “Nolte was done an injustice, historically speaking, he was right,” he added. As with Nolte, Baberowski’s writings are characterised by the downplaying of the crimes of the Nazis. He told Der Spiegel in the same interview, “Hitler was no psychopath, and he wasn’t vicious. He didn’t want people to talk about the extermination of the Jews at his table.”
In Baberowski’s books, there are many passages suggesting that the Nazis’ war in the east was not planned as a war of annihilation, but forced on the Wehrmacht by Stalin. This is also the case in his latest book, Räume der Gewalt (Spaces of Violence), which, in addition, virtually denies the Nazis’ anti-Semitic motives.
The word anti-Semitism does not appear once in the entire book, and the word “anti-Semites” only three times, and then only in a negative sense, as Alan Posener noted in [conservative daily] Die Welt. He cited Baberowski’s assertion regarding the paramilitary death squads of the SS, “Not even in the Einsatzgruppen were particularly motivated anti-Semites to be found,” before adding ironically, “They just murdered Jews.” Posener summed up his criticism by stating, “There was a time when such a dismissal of the role of anti-Semitism in the Holocaust would have been a scandal in Germany. The intellectual level of the country has degenerated to such an extent that Baberowski is being feted.”
Baberowski’s book on violence lacks even the most basic scientific method and serves to justify a right-wing policy of law-and-order. His theory of violence presents human beings as unalterable and violent, explains violence purely on the basis of the immediate situation and denies it has any relevant social or ideological causes.
According to his thesis, order can only be established by means of the force of the state and not through social progress. As he said at a panel discussion in Berlin, “All the money spent on social programmes to civilise people could just as well be tossed in the (river) Spree.” Instead, he called for a better equipping of the state to reinforce its monopoly on the use of force. These views also overlap with those of Bannon, who wants to “deconstruct” the welfare state and strengthen the police instead.
The ruling elite’s shift to the right
The aggressiveness with which Baberowski puts forward his right-wing positions and attacks his critics can only be understood in the context of the global shift to the right by the ruling elites in every country. They are responding to the global crisis of capitalism, which has further deepened since the 2008 economic crisis, as they did in the last century: with war and dictatorship.
The coming to office of Donald Trump, the most right-wing president in American history, has increased the danger that humanity will be wiped out in a nuclear war. Trump and his cabinet, made up of billionaires, generals and right-wing ideologues, have declared war on the American working class and the entire world.
The situation is no different in Germany and Europe. This is the reason why a right-wing professor like Baberowski encounters virtually no opposition in leading media and political circles, and is praised as a “renowned historian.”
As in the United States, the ruling elite is preparing for new wars. “In the coming years, Germany will face foreign policy and security challenges of which the country cannot even dream today, possibly not even in its worst nightmares.” Jan Techau, the director of a US think-tank in Berlin, wrote recently in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. According to Techau, Germans must therefore urgently be “forced to give up their neurotic desire for a morally clean foreign policy.”
Baberowski may be called far right, German court decides.
Jörg Baberowski: A right-wing extremist professor: here.
Two weeks after the district court of Cologne decided on March 15 that the Asta (student government) of the University of Bremen is allowed to describe Jörg Baberowski as a right-wing extremist, the presidium of Humboldt University (HU) has thrown its weight behind the professor. It has declared that criticism of his positions is “unacceptable,” and is threatening critics of Baberowski with severe legal sanctions: here.
The United States Daily Stormer nazi site promotes Baberowski.
Anti-communist foundation backs extreme right-wing professor Baberowski: here.
Right-wing media and fascistic organizations are rushing to defend Humboldt University Professor Jörg Baberowski after the decision of the Cologne Regional Court that the Bremen University Students Union (Asta) is permitted to describe him as a “right-wing radical”: here.
In its latest edition, the German political weekly Die Zeit devotes an entire page to the dispute with Humboldt University Professor Jörg Baberowski, who, according to the recent ruling of a regional court in Cologne, can be described as a right-wing extremist: here.
The administrative presidium of Humboldt University has instructed security personnel to stop students from distributing leaflets opposing the institution’s declaration that public criticism of Professor Jörg Baberowski is “unacceptable”: here.
The Humboldt University Student Parliament (StuPa) in Berlin overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the university administration for issuing a public statement declaring criticism of right-wing Professor Jörg Baberowski to be “unacceptable.” The StuPa demanded that the university administration withdraw its public statement of support for Baberowski: here.
Demonstrators in Cologne support IYSSE fight for freedom of expression at Humboldt University: here.
In a lengthy interview with the journal Forschung & Lehre (Research & Teaching), published by the German Association of University Professors and Lecturers, Jörg Baberowski insists that “Hitler was not vicious.” The right-wing historian from Berlin’s Humboldt University said this previously in an interview with the weekly Der Spiegel published three years ago: here.
On Sunday, the Tagesspiegel published a guest commentary by Professor Mario Kessler, who attributed an “elemental lack of feeling” for the victims of the Nazis to the radical right-wing Professor Jörg Baberowski. He also questioned whether Baberowski swept aside the results of scientific research on Hitler’s viciousness due to “a lack of education or through calculation”: here.
In a long interview that appeared May 20 in the feuilleton of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Humboldt University Professor Jörg Baberowski explains his far-right agenda: here.
On June 1, Professor Jörg Baberowski’s attempt to use the courts to ban student criticisms of his radical right-wing positions ended in complete defeat. The Humboldt University professor withdrew his application for an interim injunction against the University of Bremen Asta (Student Union), which had quoted him in a leaflet and described him as a right-wing radical and racist. This followed an oral hearing at which the Cologne Higher Regional Court made an unambiguous statement that it was preparing to issue a judgement against Baberowski. The Berlin professor must now bear the entire cost of the court case: here.
This video from Georgia in the USA says about itself:
1 March 2017
All signs point to a possible Osprey breeding pair in Savannah. Over the last few days, this male and female have been adding to the nest, defending it from intruding suitors, and copulating. Only time will tell if egg-laying will follow on this former Bald Eagle and Great Horned Owl nest!
This camera live stream is a partnership between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Skidaway Audubon.
You can watch this cam here.
This video says about itself:
PERU PRESIDENT SAYS LATIN AMERICA IS U.S. LAPDOG
27 February 2017
Peru’s technocrat, businessman President is being blasted for statements about the U.S. and its relationship with Latin America.
By Cesar Uco:
Peruvian president wanted in Odebrecht corruption scandal
2 March 2017
Last week, on February 24, Peru’s right-wing President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK) became the first Latin American head of state to stage a state visit to the Trump White House.
The trip by Kuczynski, a Wall Street investment banker, specializing in private equity funds, received scant coverage in the US media. During a brief appearance before the White House media, Trump described Peru as a “fantastic neighbor” and referred to the US sale of military vehicles to the Peruvian armed forces, telling Kuczynski “use them well, use them well.” There is no doubt that the main use of such equipment will be repressing struggles of Peruvian workers.
There was no mention in the public appearance of an ongoing judicial matter pending between the two countries, which Kuczynski afterwards said he and Trump discussed “for no more than a few seconds.”
The issue at hand is the extradition of Peru’s fugitive former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), who is believed to be hiding on US territory. Earlier this month, Kuczynski asked Trump in a phone conversation to deport the former president instead of going through the legal process of arrest and extradition.
Toledo faces charges of bribery, money laundry and influence trafficking in pocketing US$20 million in bribes paid by the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to secure contracts for building the expensive Transoceanic Highway.
In a parallel development, on February 18, SUNAT (The National Superintendence of Customs and Tax Administration) began seizing 260 million Peruvian soles (US$80 million) from Brazilian construction companies associated with Odebrecht, which is deeply implicated in the “Lava Jato” (Car Wash) bribes-for-contracts scandal surrounding Brazil’s state-run oil conglomerate Petrobras.
By Odebrecht’s own account, it paid US$788 million in bribes in 12 countries other than Brazil; $29 million for $10 billion in contracts went to pay Peruvian high officials during three consecutive presidencies: Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), Alan Garcia (2006-2011), and Ollanta Humala (2011-2016).
The current President Kuczynski (popularly known as PPK) is also facing investigation for having approved contracts with Odebrecht while he was Toledo’s Minister of Economy and Finance in 2005.
Already a number of leading figures from major Peruvian bourgeois parties have been arrested. The continuing exposures of the ever-wider web of associations with the Odebrecht bribes has had serious repercussions for Kuczynski, who has seen his approval ratings drop to 29 percent.
The Odebrecht corruption scandal and resulting political crises extend throughout Latin America. In Brazil itself, the bribes for contracts operation is believed to have siphoned some US$2 billion out of Petrobras. The company’s billionaire CEO Marcelo Odebrecht and scores of others have been convicted on corruption charges and have agreed to cooperate with the Brazilian Justice Department to secure lighter sentences.
• In the Dominican Republic, where there have been mass protests over the corruption revelations, the company paid US$92 million in bribes to secure a power plant contract.
• In México, El Financiero reported that between 2010 and 2014, under current President Enrique Peña Nieto of the corrupt Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Odebecht paid US$10 million in bribes in exchange for a 300 percent return from public contracts.
• According to La Prensa, in Panama, Odebrecht spent US$59 million in bribes to government officials and other individuals to win mega-construction projects. Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli’s family companies and his children’s residences were raided as part of the investigation into bribes by the Brazilian construction company.
• In Venezuela, Noticias24 reported that the Public Ministry denounced Henrique Capriles, the right-wing governor of the Miranda State and the favored US favorite presidential candidate for regime change, for having received US$3 million in bribes from Odebrecht.
• According to El Tiempo, in Colombia, between 2003 and 2006 Odebrecht paid US$399 million in bribes and obtained US$ 1.9 billion in contract overcharges.
• According to Expreso, in Ecuador, the Brazilian construction company paid out bribes “for 30 years on contracts with seven governments.” At least 18 politicians and officials have been charged with receiving bribes in secret bank accounts, while other money went to finance election campaigns. The total amount in Odebrecht bribes paid out in Ecuador is believe to be US$33.5 million.
• Folha de Sao Paulo reports that Odebrecht is ready to reach an agreement to collaborate in the investigation of briberies in Latin America. The proposal was made in Brasilia during the first week of February to prosecutors from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, México, Panamá, Perú, República Dominicana and Venezuela.
• But Odebrecht lawyers wanted to condition the agreement on the authorities of the various countries allowing the company to continue operations and reversing decisions to seize its assets.
• Toledo is emblematic of the corruption pervading all of these countries, which were proclaimed, in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s to constitute the “emerging market” and a source for huge profits for international finance capital. All of them pursued policies of wholesale privatization of state-run enterprises, in the course of which a layer of the bourgeoisie and bourgeois politicians of every stripe enriched themselves through bribes and outright theft.
Toledo won the elections in 2001 after posing as the anti-corruption candidate, opposing the seven-year dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori. His presidential campaign always enjoyed the support of Washington, and the CIA saw him as their man in Peru. His entire economic program was based on the continuity of the free-market policies written into Fujimori’s constitution of 1993 and imposed through bloody repression. During his five-year presidency he favored privatizations of national resources and market liberalization.
Toledo may be the first to fall, but the Peruvian “Lava Jato” Congressional Commission has already called Alan Garcia to testify. The former Aprista president spent two days dodging questions before returning to Spain. He admitted that there were “rats” in his Apra party who are now in prison, but claimed he knew nothing about it.
In the end, Odebrecht’s bribes were paid for through over-charges on contracts that were passed on to the people of Peru and Latin America as a whole. For example, the construction of the Peruivan gas-pipeline—oleaoducto, one of the most visible government investments—cost US$1.7 billion more than the original $7.5 billion deal signed with Odebrecht.
The issue of corruption has been seized upon by right-wing bourgeois parties and movements, beginning in Brazil with the campaign to oust the Workers Party (PT) government of President Dilma Rousseff, to pursue wholly reactionary political aims.
Peru: Kuczynski’s first year has been generally assessed within the media as somewhere between disappointing and near catastrophic. His performance has been characterized by continuous cabinet shakeups, inability to deal with the Fuerza Popular-controlled Congress and the mega-scandal related to kickbacks by the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, which is having strong negative repercussions for the nation’s economic growth: here.
Top Peruvian businessmen arrested in Odebrecht bribery scandal: here.
Odebrecht-related bribe revelations threaten to wipe out Peruvian political establishment: here.