Friday, July 29, 2011

The Soapbox: Transcript 24 July, 2011 with Eva Golinger

President Chavez is pretty adamant about the fact that Venezuela is no longer a colony of the US.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela

CS: Cindy Sheehan
EG: Eva Golinger

CS: Welcome back to Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox. I am your host Cindy Sheehan and as always you are listening at Cindy 

A lot of my friends and contacts and fans of the show have been asking me how President Chavez of Venezuela has been since he had a recent battle with cancer. So we’re going to bring on the expert of all things Venezuelan, our good friend, Eva Golinger. 

Eva welcome back to Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox.

EG: Thank you so much, Cindy.

CS: Well we always want to have you on whenever there is a lot of concern or things happening in Venezuela. I have so many fans of the show, supporters and contacts who have been very concerned about the health of Chavez. Can you give us an update on that?

EG: Well President Chavez is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment. 

He is in Cuba where his initial cancer was detected in a very unexpected way. 

I guess nobody ever expects it and he of course certainly didn’t. I mean Chavez is very young. He is almost 57 years old and he’s never had any major health problems. There’s not cancer in his family that is known so it wasn’t an issue that was of concern in terms of his health.

However he is someone who works incredibly hard. He’s been in office 12 years, elected twice and works nonstop. Has never taken a vacation, doesn’t take sick days and is incredibly dedicated and committed to his work. I mean you know that has sort of been his rhythm for the past decade or so now it has caught up with him. It’s taken a toll on his ability to continue that level of work that he has been doing as President of Venezuela.

When the cancer was detected initially which was in June, about mid-June, what was found was a pelvic abscess, which was immediately drained, and after the infection subsided they found a mass of malignant cancer cells and that was immediately removed. It was a very intense operation that took six and a half hours. You can imagine that level of surgery, you know the cutting through all of his muscles, just the type of wound he had after that and so since that time which was the 20th of June was that operation he’s been recovering from that and waiting to be able to have another revision done, a thorough revision of his body and to start the chemo.

So the latest update which was Chavez made public himself that no further cancer cells have been detected in his body so the tumor was taken out in it’s entirety and nothing seems to have been left behind. Of course the chemotherapy treatments are a precaution to prevent the cancer from coming back. So that’s what he’s doing. 

He delegated some of his administrative functions to the Executive Vice President and the (?), and to the Minister of Finance and Planning Jorge Giordani. But it is really administrative in nature and Chavez remains at the head of government.

They activated an electronic signature when he left for Cuba so he can himself still sign documents and he’s regularly involved, in Venezuela.

Cindy, Twitter is a real big deal, Chavez is one of the leading Tweeters and everyday since he has been in Cuba he has been tweeting several times a day starting in the early morning hours cause now he is getting up at five in the morning so he is sending out Tweets from that time on and throughout the day. And you know it makes people feel and believe that of course he is following everything that is going on and he is still fully capacitated to remain as President.

CS: Well, there is always, well not always but for quite a while there’s been a very active opposition to the revolution and the administration of President Chavez. How is the opposition trying to take advantage of this illness?

EG: Well it’s really grotesque, I mean from the beginning first they were really doubting that he was diagnosed with cancer, was sick, thought it was a ploy, a strategy for his reelection. 

Venezuela has Presidential elections in 2012 so the campaigns, some of them have already been started. President Chavez’ candidacy has already been launched by his party the PSUV and so you know the opposition were trying to make up stories, myths and rumors speculation about his health. One saying that it was false and then the other side saying he was terminally ill and going to be out of the picture soon, which isn’t true either.

And on top of that there has been external aid to try to urge opposition figures, groups and organizations to try and promote a climate of chaos and destabilization in order to permit another coup d'tat to be executed against President Chavez and in fact just this week the Miami Herald Spanish language version, the Nuevo Herald, published a front page article basically calling on the opposition to organize conditions for a coup and also asking for help from the US government to assure that it happens and is successful, saying that this is the time to take advantage of the situation, take advantage of Chavez’s weakness and execute the coup before it is too late.

You know, making up all kinds of stories about session, that Chavez is preparing a double, I mean they are really fantasizing about things that are not happening and that have never happened. This has been an ongoing situation in Venezuela with an unfortunate opposition that has not been willing to work within the framework of democracy.

So that’s what has been going on and at the same time there is another sector of the opposition saying, “well since Chavez is sick and undergoing treatment that he should just be inhabilitated from being President and should delegate all his power and authority to the Vice President who should temporarily take over." Which is ridiculous because Chavez is not incapacitated mentally and he is fully in front of government affairs and involved in everything as he always has been and will continue to be. They have also been trying to say his absence from the country which has been authorized by the Parliament, the National Assembly, is something illegal, even thought it is not since it’s been authorized in a legal way. But the opposition says, "well he is out of the country so he’s not governing so therefore there’s a power vacuum." Which isn’t true either.

It’s not the first time. I would remind our listeners for example that US President Reagan had three cancers during his Presidency. He underwent major surgery for colon cancer right before he was reelected in 1985. There’s some evidence to show that his treatments and surgeries were conducted in Germany. So they didn’t even take place in the United States. So it’s not unusual. 

There have been several times when Presidents in Latin America for example, recently the President of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, had lymphatic cancer and he’s been cured and that was recently while he was in the Presidency, he still is. Then Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff, also had the same type of cancer. Before she was elected President she underwent treatment and was successfully elected President. So the treatments are out there as long as you catch it before it is too late which is what appears to be the case with President Chavez. He should fully recover and there is no reason why the opposition should try to convince public opinion internationally that Chavez isn’t governing and that there is a power vacuum.

CS: Has there been any response from the US about his illness or the calls about helping to overthrow his government?

EG: Well, the United States government is being incredibly cautious in this scenario. Chavez is considered a foe by the State Department particularly, but by of course all of the US government. So they’re playing this one pretty slowly, patiently looking at the scenario, seeing what’s going on and besides that’s in the public light. 

In terms of what is going on behind the scenes I would say certainly there are efforts and negotiations going on with the opposition groups the US has been funding now for years with US tax payer dollars. Trying to promote Chavez’s overthrow. So yeah, I mean certainly there is a sort of unspoken encouragement of anything that could remove Chavez from power. 

The fact that the Miami Herald was citing Roger Noriega who is a known figure very closely linked to the US government now for decades and was part of the Bush administration, a part of the Reagan administration. Unfortunately, even though he has incredibly ridiculous concepts of what is happening in Latin America he tends to have influence over those in power. So he is one of the ones who have been calling directly for Chavez’s overthrow now that Chavez has been diagnosed with cancer in saying that the US government should immediately send support, not just financially but militarily to insure that that happens.

CS: What would be the difference between that and the US involvement in Libya right now?

EG: Well there’s really not much difference, I mean the case in Libya is outrageous. The fact that not only did a bombing campaign begin against a country that wasn’t a threat to anybody else. I mean in terms to being a threat to a foreign nation. Those nations that have been attacking it and bombing it now for months. But on top of that, when the US government and NATO allies were unable to kill Gadhaffi basically assassinate Gadhaffi, which was the overall objective, or invoke regime change. Now they’re installing an illegitimate parallel government. So those are the types of scenarios that are incredibly dangerous precedents being set today that can be used or applied to other countries like Venezuela. I would just remind listeners again that Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and it has just been recertified again by OPEC, the Organization of Oil Producing Countries, that Venezuela is number one in terms of oil reserves so this of course makes it a huge target of the world's most powerful interests.

CS: There are similar cases and parallels between Libya and Venezuela in that both of the countries use their wealth, their natural resources and oil wealth to improve the lives of their citizens and that means that the US oil companies and British companies can’t reap most of the profits like they did before Chavez was elected in Venezuela in 1998.

EG: That’s absolutely correct. 

A lot of people don’t actually know that Libya has the highest standard of living of all the African nations. Without passing judgment on his government there have been policies that have invested in social well being over decades now. 

In the case of Venezuela, it is new under the Chavez administration over the past decade--these policies of using oil profits to invest back into the people, invest back into the infrastructure and development of the country. And as of right now a normal expected rate of income from oil sales Venezuela invests, the government because obviously the oil is nationalized, the government invests 60 percent of all profits directly into social programs relating to health care, education, housing initiatives, job training programs and then there was a new windfall tax law enacted last year which because of increasing oil prices says that basically if oil is over 90 dollars a barrel, which it is right now, then 90 percent of oil profits coming into Venezuela are going to be invested into social programs. So I mean it really is a majority of the money coming in is being used to invest back into the people and it has had a tremendous effect. Poverty has been reduced in Venezuela by over 50 percent in the past decade. I mean that’s an immense change right there.

We have universal free accessible health care for everybody. No one is asked for insurance cards, or turned away or left to die if they can’t afford to pay for health care because there are free quality clinics everywhere that have just been built in the last few years. 

Education at all levels is accessible and it’s free, you know public education. The same goes for a whole wide variety of programs including super markets that have subsidized products to combat inflation speculation that the private markets which is a big problem in Venezuela. I mean obviously that is something that is not seen in anyway as favorable to multinationals and foreign interests. Especially because in the case of Venezuela there have been strict controls implemented on multinationals in Venezuela over the past decade that existed before but were never really implemented--such as making foreign corporations that are involved in the oil industry pay taxes and royalties on their profits. I mean things that are normal anywhere else, in Venezuela which operated as a US colony, those types of initiatives were never implemented before, now they are. 

Now companies operating in Venezuela have to abide by the law. It’s pretty straight forward as long as they are willing to do it. But when they were used to acting above the law, you know, of course then they reacted to these types of policies and it is not convenient to powerful interests that try to exploit and basically take as much as they can get out of resource wealthy nations like Venezuela.

CS: Well was that one of the reasons for the first coup attempt in April of 2002? I hope it was the first and only coup attempt. I don’t want to seem like there is another one coming. But didn’t right before it happened didn’t the national assembly pass laws to nationalize more of the oil production and profits from it under the national oil company in Venezuela?

EG: Yeah, that is correct. I mean oil was nationalized in Venezuela in 1976 so way before Chavez became president. After he was in office and there was a whole initiative for constitutional reform under a new constitution that was drafted and ratified under the national referendum by everyone in Venezuela eligible to vote. 

New laws were implemented and one of those related to hydrocarbons, the oil industry, was dealing with what I was just talking about in terms of making sure that foreign companies operating in Venezuela are paying their royalties, are paying their taxes, cannot have more than a 49 percent share in any kind of joint venture with Venezuela’s state oil companies. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a nationalized product if foreign nationals can have higher stakes than the national company. So, yeah, there was a restructuring of the industry that affected foreign interests as well as those nationally of the Venezuelan elite. 

The economic elite that was running the industry like a private company pocketing most of the products and embezzling them outside of the country to buy their big homes throughout Miami and New York and the Caribbean Islands. So actually right before the coup took place in April 2002 President Chavez had changed the entire board of Directors of PDVSA which is the state oil company. That was sort of the straw that broke the camels back. I mean that set things finally into motion that had been building up anyway, you know, with support from the US of course and other interested parties in terms of trying to get Chavez out of power. 

What Chavez did in fact was, once he was back in office after the coup was defeated by the people of Venezuela and he was rescued and returned to power to his legitimate office, was that he reinstated the Board of Directors in an attempt to reconcile and extend an olive branch to the opposition. Which was a giant mistake because they weren’t looking to reconcile or work with them. They were looking to get him out of office no matter what. 

Months after the coup and after he reinstated the board back to PDVSA they initiated a very extensive and very damaging economically strike on the oil industry; where they basically shut it down and sabotaged the entire industry. 

Venezuela lost over 20 billion dollars in just a little over 2 months. Then after that happened, it was an illegal strike anyway, but they also sabotaged all the equipment. The industry had to be rescued manually. It was functioning originally in an automated way but since everything had been sabotaged, codes had been switched. There had been control remotely that was basically running the system from the United States and so everything had to be restructured entirely. All those that were involved, because they violated their contracts were out of the industry forever basically.

So, yeah, it played an immense role in the beginning years of the Chavez administration in terms of all the destabilization that was going on. Now of course the industry is pretty firmly under the control, as it should be, of the state. But there are still pockets that exist within it a very extensive company that sabotage and you know it is Venezuela’s lifeblood. Of course the most vulnerable part of the government is the oil industry. The fact that even more so today, those funds are used for social programs in the country so it’s always a target. 

That’s why in May, May 24th the state department imposed sanctions against Venezuela’s oil company PDVSA. The sanctions really have no teeth at all. They’re just sending a message to the world that it’s dangerous to do business with Venezuela which is what the state department actually declared with the sanctions.

CS: Except the US is still buying oil from Venezuela.

EG: That’s correct!

CS: So the US is (?) in Venezuela. But the sanctions were put on because of some sanctions with Iran, I guess. I think, "how rude of Venezuela to put Venezuela’s interests over the interests of the United States."

EG: (Laughing) Well actually that is precisely the mentality of those running the US government. In fact beyond that, imposing internal US legislation on other countries, which is not even legitimate under international law. US law has no jurisdiction or bearing on another country. 

Yet the US, because they have the capacity to impose pressure via economic means or political means, tend to use their legislation to influence other countries and other countries often abide by what the US is requesting. In the case of Venezuela, Venezuela is a sovereign state and has declared itself so and remains so and will remain so. President Chavez is pretty adamant about the fact that Venezuela is no longer a colony of the US. Venezuela has the right not have relations with any country in the world just like the United States does. Those sanctions as far as Venezuela is concerned have absolutely no legality whatsoever.

CS: Well absolutely. That brings up a couple of questions and I think that there are challenges to the continued viability of the Bolivarian Revolution and what’s happening in Venezuela.

The first one is, many supporters of Chavez and the revolution, their question is, if something does happened to him is the revolution strong enough to continue without the leadership that he’s provided?

EG: Well, President Chavez of course is a very charismatic and powerful leader--there’s no denying that whatsoever. Of course his leadership has been crucial in uniting different sectors and organizations of Venezuelan society to build this revolution. But at the same time the revolution was in motion before Hugo Chavez came to power. 

The Revolution in Venezuela is really something that is being built and being maintained and advanced by the people of Venezuela. So while yes his leadership is important it would be very difficult to imagine Venezuela taking a step backward instead of continuing to advance forward. Of course if Chavez were no longer President at some point, which he won’t be President forever, that’s not the objective or a possibility. So someone else will be in power in Venezuela some day. Certainly things will change in terms of that particular aspect of the revolution and that level of leadership.

One of the main objectives of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela has been transferring power to the people. That entire concept is based on the notion that the people of Venezuela are going to be those that are basically running their own country and that are implementing all of the different policies and initiatives. While, yes again Chavez’s leadership is very important, there’s a whole new generation of Venezuelans that have been growing up in a different model over the past decade that have a different vision of their country, that have a stronger identity. You know their identity has been recovered, has been dignified as being Venezuelan because of this particular revolution. So, therefore, I think that there is an entire generation of leaders that are growing up in Venezuela and that are going to be the ones running the show. 

While everyone would love Chavez to be around, those that support him, as long as he can be, I don’t think it is a question of, "well if he is no longer there, there is no revolution." Then that would mean there never has been a revolution. So I think that absolutely things will continue, they will change obviously in terms of the dynamic, but there’s no question. I mean, this is a revolution of the people and the people will continue to be the ones that are changing and transforming their country.

CS: I just really want to thank you for your time and all the information that you always bring to the show. The last question would be, an economy based on oil, you know, is always very unstable. I mean it is good right now but there’s been many years where it hasn’t been good so that means that the economy fluctuates based on oil. What steps is Venezuela taking to transition itself off of an economy based on fossil fuel?

EG: The Venezuelan government has been trying to diversify industry now in the country and that’s sort of the next phase of this transformation of the revolution. You know building new industry, focusing on, Venezuela is not just oil wealthy it has a wide variety of minerals and metals in the country that are now being produced and the idea is not just to produce raw materials but also to build factories in Venezuela so that Venezuela can produce products like automobiles and a whole slew of other industries and products. So there’s a diversification in that sense of industry. And then there’s also a focus again on agriculture, which was abandoned in the early 20th century because of the focus on oil. So Venezuela is rebuilding its agricultural industry in order to reduce its dependence on imports. But also to become a power in terms of agricultural production. 

So to have a wide variety of exports as well as to supply the people of Venezuela. At the same time though Venezuela has the largest reserves and though someday they will dry up they will at least be around for another hundred years. When they are drying up throughout the Middle East they will still be in Venezuela. Venezuela also has a large amount of water reserves. Which of course many say is the next target of powerful interests around the world. So, yeah, there are a lot of initiatives going on to decrease the dependence on oil as the only product that Venezuela produces. Absolutely.

CS: Well and I think we as a people have to decrease our dependence on oil and oil based products also. Just one last thing, I would like you to talk about the housing project in Venezuela. I think that is a very exciting thing that the government and the people are getting involved in right now.

EG: Absolutely, it is a wonderful initiative called Gran Mission Housing Venezuela. It is a government program that is involving millions of people as well as in terms of creating the program itself--training those as part of the mission. 

Housing Venezuela is a mission work social program in terms of creating jobs and the idea is to provide job training to people so they can take part and build cooperatives, to create cooperatives, to be involved in the construction of the more than 2 million homes that are being built in Venezuela presently and are expected to be completed in their totality within the next 6 years. 

The idea of course is to address the housing crisis, the long-term housing crisis that exists in Venezuela. There’s a big difference for example in the way the housing crisis has been handled in the United States and in the case of Venezuela. In the case of the United States the government bailed out banks, bailed out financial institutions, insurance companies, mortgage institutions and let all the people who lost their homes, just left them on the streets--no help to them. But in the case of Venezuela it’s been the exact opposite. 

We’ve also had scandals with companies that have committed fraud, that have scammed people, real estate companies scamming people, Banks that have also committed fraud and have been mismanaging funds. Most of the banks involved in any kind of illicit activity were actually liquidated in Venezuela--were intervened by the state--were either liquidated or nationalized. Customer savings were all protected. 

In the case of the housing industry, those companies involved in any kind of fraud have been mainly nationalized or somehow taken over or expropriated. The housing programs are all continuing in order to ensure that no one loses their home, or their future home in the case of construction projects. 

There’s also been a problem last year we had heavy rains, left over 130 thousand people homeless because of the flooding. So those have been the first priority in terms of providing homes. What the state is doing is insuring homes are available so many are being built because the housing doesn’t exist. So apartments, homes all throughout the country are being built by state,  joint private and public enterprises and then the homes will be distributed on a need basis--dealing first with those displaced by the rain. It’s not something that is just a gift. They’re examining every person, every family individually. What’s their income capacity so do they have the capacity to put down a 5 percent deposit, a ten percent deposit, a 30 percent deposit, no deposit? You know, so then no down payment, I mean. So no down payment is necessary if the person or family can’t afford it and then they are given a low interest loan, a very low interest loan, under 5 percent. You know it’s to be able to pay off the cost of the housing. The housing depending also on the income if the person is basically below the poverty line or at the poverty line then the government will subsidize 70 percent of the loan will only be 30 percent which the person or family has to pay. So it’s on an individual basis. 

There are brigades going throughout the country going door-to-door visiting people that signed up for the program and are evaluating each case. It’s also applying to those who currently have homes but need renovations that have problems with the internal structure. The government will provide a subsidy to be able to do that. The idea overall is that the government of Venezuela wants it’s people to be healthy and happy and stable. Every one knows having your own home is a huge part of feeling safe in your residence and your country. So Venezuela puts people before profits. This is another sign of that.

CS: Eva thank you so much for being on Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox. We really appreciate your work and your time in coming on and sharing all of this information with us.

EG: Well thank you Cindy. Any time.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Memo to the Evil Actors in DC from Cindy Sheehan

Even though some people have said: “Cindy Speaks for Me,” I have never claimed that I am a spokesperson for anybody but myself—but I do know a lot of people agree with me. So, this is a memo from us. 

You evil actors are all putting on another show over there in DC, and we are supposed to believe that any of you are serious, or seriously care about the people of this nation, or your make-believe "oath of office." You all put your hand on a bible, or other religious tome of your choosing, and swore to protect the rule of law, but you may as well have put your hand on a copy of "Death of a Salesman," or "Romeo and Juliet" for all your "swearing" means to any of you.

Barack Obama, was allegedly chosen as lead character in this farce to change the script of Empire and economic exploitation. Then in a very unbelievable plot twist, he was also chosen as Nobel Peace Laureate because there was hope that the script would change. However, Obama has proven to be an excellent reader of tele-prompters, but lousy at improv. The script reads "perpetual war for perpetual profit" (stage north, south, east and west) and Obama is currently bombing at least five countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen) and is maintaining a profound (and profoundly expensive) occupational presence in Iraq (boo, hiss).

The US Empire currently maintains approximately 1000 military outposts in over 150 countries all over the world. The US military/Pentagram consumes the largest amount of our tax and borrowed dollars. However, the script reads: never cut "defense." 

I just would like all of you mountebanks in Washington DCeit to know that there are many of us out here who don’t buy the political circle-jerk that you are subjecting us to around this whole debt ceiling distraction. When Obama gets his shorts in a bunch and storms out of a meeting, or Eric Cantor (R) does similar, we know that you all go offstage, smoke a ciggy, laugh at we “easy marks” in the audience who stupidly shell out most of our livelihood to you charlatans onstage so you can high-five each other and go back out for Act Number Infinity.

Some of us are smarter than 5th graders, and we know this is all an act written by your masters with the money—and in the end, it will be a tragedy for 99% of us who fall into the bottom five percent of the economic food chain.

Even though you treat all of us USAians like we are a nation of morons—clearly, some of us are not and we have seen this production ad infinitum—the reruns are even worse than the original. So why don’t you all just skip the boring parts and pass a bill that won’t make even a scratch in the wallets of the wealthy, but cuts more services and benefits to the rest of us.

Then the Democrats can say: “Wah, wah, the wicked Republicans made us cut a bunch of stuff.” And the Republicans can say: “Wah, wah, we wanted to cut even more stuff, but the dastardly Democrats wouldn’t let us.” Then we can all get back to Dancing with the Greatest American Idol and FOR GOD’S SAKE, football season is almost starting—give us a frickin' break here!

Also, (as an incentive to you murderers) if you can all just wrap up this charade ASAP, maybe you can add another country or two to your bombing list? Just kidding, of course, because if I were in charge of things, the crapload of wars and the 1K of military bases would be the first things to be cut--not just cut, but slashed, dashed, sliced, diced and demolished--but that would mess up the script you scoundrels follow so sacri-religiously, wouldn’t it?

I also would like to inform you that I do quite a bit of traveling outside of Circus, USA and the rest of the world pretty much thinks you are a bunch of clowns—evil for sure, but ridiculous all the same.

So, Obama say: “blah, blah, blah.” Boehner say: “blah, blah, blah.” Wolf Blitzer say: “blah, blah, blah.” Mr. and Mrs. Odd Couple Skeletor say: “blah, blah, blah.” Geithner say, “blah, blah, blah.” The rest of you say, “Aye” or “Nay,” or don't show up that day, or whatever your part is in this script of dangerous buffoonery and let's just get it the hell over with. 

We get it and we want you to know that you can’t fool some of us any of the time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

How is Hugo (Chavez)? Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox

The Golinger report.  Click here to listen or download, beginning at 2:00 PM San Francisco time.  This Sunday (July 24th), Cindy brings back Venezuelan / American Attorney and author Eva Golinger (with first name pronounced like ave a in "save a buck"), our soapbox's visiting expert in all things Venezuelan and general good friend.  She starts by discussing the health of & prognosis for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, currently undergoing chemotherapy in Cuba following his recent cancer surgery.  Incredibly hard-working, Chavez finally had a significant health problem to overcome.  But evidently, surgeons got 100% of the tumor, and the chemotherapy is a cautionary procedure to ensure the tumor won't come back.  He's effectively back to work again - from his residence for treatment in Cuba.  Eva discusses his health situation and its consequences.  Cindy and Eva discuss the political implications of the situation, as well as a fascinating and revelatory history of interactions between Venezuela and the U.S.A. - especially history between, say, 1970 and today. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Victory for Protection of Sogorea Te! Day 98 Update

Press Release: A Victory for Protection of Sogorea Te

Press Release: After 98 days and nights of a continuous prayer vigil, the
Committee to Protect Glen Cove is pleased to announce a victory in the struggle to protect the sacred grounds of Sogorea Te/Glen Cove.

Yesterday, the Yocha Dehe and Cortina tribes established a cultural easement and settlement agreement with the City of Vallejo and the Greater Vallejo Recreation District (GVRD). The agreement sets a legal precedent for granting Native peoples jurisdiction over their sacred sites and ancestral lands. The cultural easement forever guarantees that the Yocha Dehe and Cortina tribes will have legal oversight in all activities taking place on the sacred burial grounds of Sogorea Te/Glen Cove. It also represents a significant step forward in enacting tribal sovereignty, as the first such easement under CA Senate Bill 18 to be negotiated at the city and recreational district levels.

The agreement’s terms include elimination of the formerly planned restroom facility and relocation of a “downsized” parking lot to an area thoroughly tested to confirm that it contains no human remains or cultural remnants.

While the specifics of the deal leave some ambiguity about how GVRD’s park development project can and cannot proceed, the Committee is hopeful that Yocha Dehe and Cortina will use their newfound influence to make sure that the resting place of the ancestors is not further disturbed or desecrated.
“The cultural easement is an important victory, however we are concerned about the lack of specific language that would prevent grading on the western portion of the site,” states Corrina Gould (Chochenyo/Karkin Ohlone.) “We will be communicating this to the tribes and we have faith that they will take all necessary measures to ensure that ancestral remains and cremations are left undisturbed.”
Gould continued, “We appreciate and are humbled by the vast support that we have received in protecting our ancestors. It is our responsibility to continue to do the work to make certain that all of our sacred places are protected.”

The historical and cultural value of the 3,500-year old site has never been disputed and it continues to be spiritually important to California tribes. On April 14th, local Native Americans and supporters began a 24-hour prayer vigil at Sogorea Te to prevent the Greater Vallejo Recreation District from bulldozing/grading a large portion of the sacred site and constructing bathrooms and a parking lot.  


Day 97 update - Protect Glen Cove
To view this update with photos on the Protect Glen Cove website:
Week 14: Following last week’s large demonstrations at City Hall and GVRD Headquarters, dozens of committed warriors, elders and supporters have remained in prayer on the land at Sogorea Te, tending the sacred fire and upholding their commitments to seeing the struggle through. As day 100 of the 24-hour prayer vigil approaches, everyone eagerly awaits news regarding the cultural easement being negotiated between the City, GVRD, and the Cortina/Yocha Dehe tribes. We pray that it will be an honorable agreement that will protect the ancestors by specifically preventing development and bulldozing on all 15 acres of the sacred grounds.
Each day, new visitors arrive at Sogorea Te, bringing prayers, gifts and inspiration, while longer-term participants in the vigil continue to develop relationships with the land, its plant and animal life, and each other. Some have continued to gather wild native plants from the area, such as Amole Lilies and California Mugwort, for use as food and medicine.

On Saturday the 16th, a large group of Mexica Dancers from Hayward, CA held a series of ceremonial dances at Sogorea Te, bringing gifts of copal and tobacco for the vigil’s altar. Also on Saturday, a woman from Guam and her husband arrived at Sogorea Te with a load of cedar firewood. They plan to return with a contingent of island people (including Native Hawaiians) this coming Saturday morning (the 23rd), with songs, gifts and prayers.
On Sunday the 17th, a string of Tibetan prayer flags were presented to Wounded Knee DeOcampo and other participants in the vigil, and were hung near the entrance to Sogorea Te. The prayer flags were sent by a monk in Tibet, who says that “Tibetans support the people at Sogorea Te and are praying for them.” When told recently about the situation at Glen Cove, he was greatly saddened and said that “it’s just like they’re doing to us in Tibet.”
This Wednesday, July 20th (tomorrow!), youth from the Oakland-based Homies Empowerment Program will be cooking up a storm and then journeying Sogorea Te, bringing dinner to all the warriors still holding it down. They will be meeting in Oakland at 5:00pm to carpool up. To view their Facebook invitation, click here. We are also expecting a visit from a group of young Native artists (Ojibwe, Metis, Maori, Dine & Hawai’ian) on Wednesday evening, accompanied by Melanie Cervantes.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Plenty of Division, No Class by Cindy Sheehan

Plenty of Division, No Class
Cindy Sheehan

In 2008, when I was running for Congress against then House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the class divisions in this country became glaringly obvious to me. At that time, I realized that I had personally never been in the fabled “Middle Class” and for all my life I had moved fluidly in between the working-class and the poor class.

I, like most of us, was raised on the idea that the US was a “class-free” society—that we all had the same opportunities for wealth and privilege. When I go to other countries and say that this is still what many USAians believe, I always get hearty laughter as a response.

I was never a supporter of Barack Obama before and after his record breaking mass marketing campaign for president; but after he strenuously used his position as Democrat super-star to hound other Democrats into supporting the 850 billion bankster bailout in October of 2008, it was confirmed for me that Barack Obama was a servant of Wall Street and big business. I already knew he was a war jackal masquerading as the “Peace Candidate.” After he was inaugurated as CEO of Wall Street in 2009, his “stimulus package” was supposed to stimulate “shovel ready” jobs, but the only thing that has been shovel ready is the pile of manure he keeps hurling at us.

Now, two and a half years, too many more wars, many more jobs lost and homes foreclosed upon, Barack Obama, in the manipulative name of “compromise,” is showing a willingness to do what even George Bush couldn’t get accomplished: further gut the retirement safety net (not an “entitlement”) known as Social Security. After the Pentagon just received 615 billion dollars in a new appropriations’ bill, Obama, the Bizarro Robin Hood, wants to steal MORE from the poor so the rich won’t have to do what he is always asking us to do: SACRIFICE.

Whether it is sacrificing our young people to fight in Obama’s Robber Class wars for profit, or our elders having to sacrifice food, medicine, shelter and warmth, or our students having to forfeit a higher education, we here in the Robbed Class give up our rights, prosperity, and peace with barely a struggle.

I call the exploiter class, the Robber Class; president Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has referred to that "no class" level as the "los escaulidos" or "Squalid Ones." And, indeed, that they are: wasteful, lazy and greedy. 

After my campaign in 2008 against the Queen Great-Grandmother of the Robber Class, Nancy Pelosi, I wrote what has turned out to be a very relevant if not prophetic book called: Myth America: 20 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution. I wanted us in the Robbed Class to prepare ourselves for the coming devastating financial collapses in ways that remove ourselves from the parasitic (but sometimes symbiotic) Robber Class institutions and create healthy economies and communities for ourselves.

One of my favorite protest signs of all time reads:

They only call it a "class war" when we fight back.

Let's show those "you know whatters" what a class war really looks like. This "class war" requires a Worker's Renaissance and we can do it despite labor leadership and the bourgeois political parties. We have to do it!


The time has already passed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Victims of War (Photo Essay)

Jeff Lucey
Grieving Fathers
Social Security
The Environment
Our Young People
Homeless Vets
Our Elders
20,000 Children in the world die of starvation every day
Our Rights

Innocent Bystanders
Whistle Blowers
Casey Sheehan KIA 04/04/04
Iraqi Father and Child
Mother and Child
Afghan Baby Refugee

The Constitution 
Grieving Mothers

I got these pics from Google Images and I want to thank the artists/photographers/depicted and hope no one is mad at me for using a picture here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Your Soapbox! It's Your Turn!

A soapbox is a raised platform on which one stands to make an impromptu speech, often about a political subject. The term originates from the days when speakers would elevate themselves by standing on a wooden crate originally used for shipment of soap or other dry goods from a manufacturer to a retail store.

Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox is pleased and excited to announce our newest forum, Your Soapbox, for your articles, blogs, ideas, input and a place to share radical “lefty” ideas without having to wade through the quagmire of reformist support of a diseased system that has been identified as capitalism.

I began Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox (radio show and blog) in early 2009 after my campaign for Congress against then House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. Before I embarked on, and during my campaign, I had hoped that running against an alleged progressive with a far more progressive (leftist) platform which included (among other things) Peace Above All and People Above Profit, that the corporate media would sit up and take notice—of course, my desire for true change was only exceeded by my hopeful optimism and naiveté, and the media all but ignored my campaign.

In the same election which San Francisco chose the failed status quo over me, the US chose another slickly packaged corporate candidate to preside over the United Corporate States of America—Obama. Many people think that the 2010 Supreme Court landmark decision in the Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission was the nail in the coffin of the US democratic process, however many of us know that this is a nation founded by the Robber Class to enrich the Robber Class and that Supreme Court decision in 2010 was just another one in a very long line of supporting profit over people.

Anyway, I started Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox to keep the radical revolutionary voice for true change alive, and now, two and a half years later, we have collaborated to give you a chance to have your voice heard.

Your Soapbox was the concept of Glenn Parton who desired a place to share his ideas on socialist revolution without having to wade through posts upon posts on sites devoted to Democratic politics and politicians—which seem to whine and moan about the direction our country is going in without making the connection between Democrats being the same as Republicans in this rapid drive to destruction.

We the People must Declare our Independence from the Robber Class--and we have an unique opportunity these days with the escalating importance of the internet to share ideas and energy for a new revolution that shakes this nation up and turns it upside down for true revolutionary change. Social media has proven to be a good way to do that, but one must wade through Farmville, Mafia Wars and cute kitty videos to get to the meat of profound dialogue. Don't get me wrong, cute kitty videos have their time and place--but not on Your Soapbox!

Please sign up for Your Soapbox and participate in this forum. We would like to make it THE place for revolutionary discussion.

Thanks to Glenn Parton for his energy behind this and Scott Ford for being the technical genius to get this project off the ground.