Silver Lining

Food for thought

Category Archives: South America

Russia FM: Military strike on Syria without UNSC approval is act of aggression

Russia FM: Military Strike on Syria without UNSC Approval Is Act of Aggression

Al Manar

Moscow Informed Washington Saturday through diplomatic channels that any military operation against Syria, without the authorization of the UN Security Council, is an act of aggression and a violation of the principles of international law.

“The Russian side has confirmed that any use of force against Syria by the United States, without authorization of the UN Security Council, is an act of aggression and flagrant violation of the principles of international law,” a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry official website after the meeting between the deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul read.

It also indicated that “Michael McFaul presented all the arguments which the US administration relies upon in accusing the Syrian government of involvement of the use of chemical weapons on August 21, 2013 in East Ghota.”

According to all those arguments, Sergei Ryabkov called the American side to “refrain from attempts to use this incident in order to justify military pressure on Damascus, and to allow the full implementation of the agreement reached by the G8 summit in June.”

Ryabkov also stressed the need to submit the report of UN experts working in Syria to the UN Security Council for consideration.

American Navy ships still ready to attack Syria

Press TV

The US military warships are reportedly staying in the eastern Mediterranean as President Barack Obama is waiting for a congressional approval to attack Syria.

A defense official told Politico that the five American guided-missile destroyers and one amphibious transport are going to continue to stay in place for now.

The USS Stout, USS Gravely, USS Mahan, USS Barry and USS Ramage are all in the region with dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The amphibious transport USS San Antonio, which is carrying about 700 troops from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is also there along with some of their aircraft and amphibious equipment.

On Saturday, the Obama White House asked Congress for authorization to conduct military strikes against Syria.

“The objective of the United States use of military force in connection with this authorization should be to deter, disrupt, prevent and degrade the potential for future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction,” the White House said in a draft resolution.

Washington accuses Damascus of launching a chemical weapons attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus last week, an allegation denied by the Syrian government.

President Obama also said the US military “has positioned assets in the region.”

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey “has informed me that we are prepared to strike whenever we choose. Moreover, the chairman has indicated to me that our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. And I’m prepared to give that order,” Obama said.

Reacting to US allegations, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it would have been “utter nonsense” for Syria to use chemical weapons.

“I would like to address Obama as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate: Before using force in Syria, it would be good to think about future casualties,” Putin said.

“Russia is urging you to think twice before making a decision on an operation in Syria,” he said.


Obama bypassing UN, making Congress his world court: Venezuela

Press TV

Venezuela has condemned US President Barack Obama for bypassing the United Nations and asking US Congress to approve a military offensive against Syria, saying the move can lead to destruction of international institutions.

During a visit to the South American country of Guyana on Saturday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that the US president was shamelessly bypassing the UN and turning Congress into his personal world court.

“If multilateral bodies and the international system are disregarded like this, what lies ahead of us in this world is war, is destruction,” Maduro warned.

“It is a very serious thing indeed when President Obama tries to take the place of UN bodies, and that he has tried and convicted the Syrian government, and that he has decided to invade, to militarily attack the people of Syria, and that he has chosen the US Congress as a sort of high world court in place of the UN Security Council,” Maduro said after holding a meeting with his Guyanese counterpart Donald Ramotar.

Earlier in the day, Obama said he has decided that Washington must take military action against the Syrian government, which would mean a unilateral military strike without a UN mandate.

Obama said that despite having made up his mind, he will take the case to Congress. But he added that he is prepared to order military action against the Syrian government at any time.

Obama once again held the Syrian government responsible for the chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of people in the suburbs of Damascus.

On Thursday, the second meeting of the UN Security Council’s permanent members ended without reaching an agreement on Syria.

Representatives from the US, Britain, France, Russia, and China met on Thursday afternoon at the UN headquarters in New York for the second time in two days, but the meeting broke up after less than an hour, with the ambassadors steadily walking out.

The Western members of the council have been pushing for a resolution on the use of force while Russia and China are strongly opposed to any attack on Syria.

The call for military action against Syria intensified after foreign-backed opposition forces accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of launching a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21.

Syria has strongly rejected the allegations and says terrorists carried out the deadly chemical weapons attack.


‘Syria ready to decisively respond to any aggression’ & Italy warns strikes could turn conflict global

Defense Minister: Syria Ready to Decisively Respond to Any Aggression

Al Manar

Syrian Defense Minister Fahd Jasem al-Freij said the Syrian army and people are ready to confront any form of military aggression on the country by Western powers, promising to decisively respond to any attack.Al-Freij

During a telephone conversation with his Iranian counterpart Hussein Dehghan, al-Freij stressed that criminal terrorists have deliberately used chemical weapons, killing women and innocent children to get more support from the West in order to blackout their defeat, thus misleading the public opinion to justify their continued crimes.

For his part, the Iranian defense Minister said that the main loser in any war in the region is the side which launches it.

“Iran is seriously following the security developments in the region and the crisis in the friendly country of Syria,” Dehghan said, affirming the need for making use of political and peaceful means to solve the crisis.

He underlined that the use of force and violence will only lead to escalating the crisis.


Italy Warns Syria Strikes Could Turn Conflict Global

Al Manar

Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said on Friday that military strikes being planned against Syria risked escalating into “a global conflagration.”

“From a dramatic and terrible conflict, we run the risk of even a global conflagration,” she said in an interview with news channel SkyTG24.

“This is how it always begins. Limited strikes without a UN mandate. Syria will obviously react,” said Bonino, a former European aid commissioner.

“Even though it seems slower, tougher and sometimes looks like it won’t succeed, keeping up diplomatic and political pressure is the only solution,” she said.

Bonino has ruled out any Italian participation in strikes against Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons.

Italy played a pivotal role as a launch pad for air strikes on Libya but government sources quoted in Italian media said it would likely not allow third countries to use its bases if asked to do so now.

Earlier this week she warned: “Even the option of a limited intervention risks becoming unlimited.”


Demonstrations In Several Countries: Hands OFF Syria!

Al Ahed news

Demonstrations have been held in several countries, including the United States, against potential Western-led military action against Syria.

Anti-war protests were held in several cities across the US on Thursday, including Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago. In New York City, supporters of the Syrian government gathered at Times Square chanting slogans against the US warmongering policies.

The demonstrators said the White House had failed to provide any proof that supported claims of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government.

“Where is the chemical weapons? Until now we didn’t find it. US soldiers will die for nothing. Where is the evidence?” said a protester holding a sign that read, “Syria=Iraq. Same Lies.

“I do not want this nation to become involved in yet another war. People always lose, no matter what side. Enough is enough. We should just stay the hell out,” said another anti-war demonstrator in New York City.

Meanwhile, thousands of people in Greece marched on the US Embassy building in Athens to voice opposition to any Western military action on Syria.

In Turkey, protesters gathered outside the US consulate in the city of Adana to denounce Washington’s aggressive threats regarding Syria.

Similar demonstrations were also staged in Venezuela.

The Western calls for military action against Syria intensified after the militants operating inside Syria and the foreign-backed Syrian opposition claimed on August 21 that hundreds had been killed in a government chemical attack on militant strongholds in some suburbs of the capital, Damascus.

On Thursday, a meeting of the UN Security Council over the Syrian issue ended inconclusively.

Representatives from the US, Britain, France, Russia, and China met afternoon at the UN headquarters in New York for the second time in two days
The previous meeting on Wednesday also abruptly ended with the Security Council deeply divided over a British-proposed draft resolution to authorize military action against Syria.

The UK parliament on Thursday voted against a motion by British Prime Minister David Cameron to authorize military action against Syria.

The Western members of the Security Council have been pushing for a resolution on the use of force against Syria, but Russia and China are strongly opposed to any authorization of that kind.


Cameron Loses Parliamentary Vote on Syrian Strike, Swift Newspapers Reactions

Al Ahed news

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to launch an offensive against the Syrian government have been defeated in the Commons vote.

Cameron lost a government motion, backing a military intervention in the Arab country “if necessary”, by 272 votes to 285, after dozens of Tory MPs joined forces with the opposition Labour party.

“The House has not passed a motion, it is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly,” the British premier said on Thursday.

American officials said the US government is ready for unilateral military action, after British lawmakers rejected the motion in support of an assault against Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons near Damascus.
The British Prime Minister had played a leading role in persuading US President Barack Obama to start a military intervention in the Arab country.

British newspapers were swift to react to the commons vote, changing late print editions to run new splashes and comment.

The front page headlines make uncomfortable reading for prime minister David “I get that” Cameron. Every title refers to him being humiliated and that his authority has been diminished.

“The humbling of Cameron”, said the Daily Mail. “No to war, blow to Cameron”, said the Daily Telegraph. “CAM DOWN: PM humiliated as MPs say NO to military strikes”, said The Sun. Also, the headline of The Times underscored the same message: “Cameron humiliated as MPs veto missile strikes on Syria”.

“Shock commons defeat”, said the Daily Express in a page 1 blurb pointing to a piece inside headlined: “Cameron rocked as MPs say no to air strikes against Syria.” The paper also carried the result of an online opinion poll recording that a majority of the public were against military action.

A similar message was delivered by the non-Tory press: “We don’t want your war”, said the Daily Mirror. “MPs force Cameron to rule out British assault on Syria”, said The Guardian. The Financial Times’s splash heading said: “US ready to act alone as MPs reject Syria strike: Embarrassing vote defeat for Cameron”.

The Telegraph’s leader, “A nation haunted by mistakes of the past”, said it was the Iraq war that poisoned Cameron’s authority. Memories of being taken to war on a false prospectus, mentioned by the PM during his speech, played an overriding part in the rejection of his call for military action.

It concluded: “The resulting vote leaves both British policy on Syria, and Mr Cameron’s own leadership, mired in the deepest uncertainty.”

The Telegraph also carried a piece by Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, “David Cameron failed the test of trust, and paid the price”, in which he wrote:

“British prime ministers are just not supposed to lose votes on issues as fundamental as war and peace. This represents not just an extraordinary defeat, but a catastrophic political misjudgment.”

It spoke of Cameron as “the principal loser” who, despite act “a polished performance” lost control of a key issue of foreign policy and therefore suffered “an almost unprecedented failure.”

Britain tabled a draft resolution to authorize military action against Syria, but the meeting of the UN Security Council’s permanent members on Thursday ended without reaching an agreement to resolve the Syrian crisis.

The British government’s legal advice had indicated earlier that a military action against Syria is legal even without the United Nations approval.

US State Secretary justifies spying on Brazil, calls to overlook privacy breach

Al Ahed news

US Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated during his visit to Brazil on Tuesday the US would continue to monitor individual and corporate communications in Brazil for security reasons.

In a press conference with the Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, Kerry urged Brazil not to damage growing trade, diplomatic and cultural relations in wake of the recent revelations of wide scope US surveillance on countries.

“We are convinced that our intelligence collection has positively helped us to protect our nation from a variety of threats,” he added.

Moreover, the US Secretary of State called on to overlook the privacy breach and concentrate on bilateral relations instead.

He further vowed that the US would provide more transparency about the surveillance program.

For his part, Patriota called for an end to the controversial program, saying it violated sovereignty and privacy.

“The region and the international community are concerned over the practices which may threaten the sovereignty of countries and the rights of individuals,” he stated.

The US surveillance program on both enemies and allies was revealed by former US National Security Agency contractor whistleblower Edward Snowden, who currently lives in Russia after granted a year-long asylum there.

Indictment of Iran for ’94 terror bombing relied on MEK

by Gareth Porter, source

IPS — Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman based his 2006 warrant for the arrest of top Iranian officials in the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 on the claims of representatives of the armed Iranian opposition Mujahedin E Khalq (MEK), the full text of the document reveals.

The central piece of evidence cited in Nisman’s original 900-page arrest warrant against seven senior Iranian leaders is an alleged Aug. 14, 1993 meeting of top Iranian leaders, including both Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and then president Hashemi Rafsanjani, at which Nisman claims the official decision was made to go ahead with the planning of the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA).

But the document, recently available in English for the first time, shows that his only sources for the claim were representatives of the MEK or People’s Mujahideen of Iran. The MEK has an unsavoury history of terrorist bombings against civilian targets in Iran, as well as of serving as an Iraq-based mercenary army for Saddam Hussein’s forces during the Iran-Iraq War.

The organisation was removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist groups last year after a campaign by prominent former U.S. officials who had gotten large payments from pro-MEK groups and individuals to call for its “delisting”.

Nisman’s rambling and repetitious report cites statements by four members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is the political arm of the MEK, as the sources for the charge that Iran decided on the AMIA bombing in August 1993.

The primary source is Reza Zakeri Kouchaksaraee, president of the Security and Intelligence Committee of the NCRI. The report quotes Kouchaksaraee as testifying to an Argentine Oral Court in 2003, “The decision was made by the Supreme National Security Council at a meeting that was held on 14 August, 1993. This meeting lasted only two hours from 4:30 to 6:30 pm.”

Nisman also quotes Hadi Roshanravani, a member of the International Affairs Committee of the NCRI, who claimed to know the same exact starting time of the meeting – 4:30 pm – but gave the date as Aug. 12, 1993 rather than Aug. 14.

Roshanravani also claimed to know the precise agenda of the meeting. The NCRI official said that three subjects were discussed: “The progress and assessment of the Palestinian Council; the strategy of exporting fundamentalism throughout the world; and the future of Iraq.” Roshanravani said “the idea for an attack in Argentina” had been discussed “during the dialogue on the second point”.

The NCRI/MEK was claiming that the Rafsanjani government had decided on a terrorist bombing of a Jewish community centre in Argentina as part of a policy of “exporting fundamentalism throughout the world”.

But that MEK propaganda line about the Iranian regime was contradicted by the U.S. intelligence assessment at the time. In its National Intelligence Estimate 34-91 on Iranian foreign policy, completed on Oct. 17, 1991, U.S. intelligence concluded that Rafsanjani had been “gradually turning away from the revolutionary excesses of the past decade…toward more conventional behavior” since taking over as president in 1989.

Ali Reza Ahmadi and Hamid Reza Eshagi, identified as “defectors” who were affiliated with NCRI, offered further corroboration of the testimony by the leading NCRI officials. Ahmadi was said by Nisman to have worked as an Iranian foreign service officer from 1981 to 1985. Eshagi is not otherwise identified.

Nisman quotes Ahmadi and Eshagi, who made only joint statements, as saying, “It was during a meeting held at 4:30 pm in August 1993 that the Supreme National Security Council decided to carry out activities in Argentina.”

Nisman does not cite any non-MEK source as claiming such a meeting took place. He cites court testimony by Abolghassem Mesbahi, a “defector” who had not worked for the Iranian intelligence agency since 1985, according to his own account, but only to the effect that the Iranian government made the decision on AMIA sometime in 1993. Mesbahi offered no evidence to support the claim.

Nisman repeatedly cites the same four NCRI members to document the alleged participation of each of the seven senior Iranians for whom he requested arrest warrants. A review of the entire document shows that Kouchaksaraee is cited by Nisman 29 times, Roshanravani 16 times and Ahmadi and Eshagi 16 times, always together making the same statement for a total of 61 references to their testimony.

Nisman cited no evidence or reason to believe that any of the MEK members were in a position to have known about such a high-level Iranian meeting. Although MEK propaganda has long claimed access to secrets, their information has been at best from low-level functionaries in the regime.

In using the testimony of the most violent opponents of the Iranian regime to accuse the most senior Iranian officials of having decided on the AMIA terrorist bombing, Nisman sought to deny the obvious political aim of all MEK information output of building support in the United States and Europe for the overthrow of the Iranian regime.

“The fact that the individuals are opponents of the Iranian regime does not detract in the least from the significance of their statements,” Nisman declared.

In an effort to lend the group’s testimony credibility, Nisman described their statements as being made “with honesty and rigor in a manner that respects nuances and details while still maintaining a sense of the larger picture”.

The MEK witnesses, Nisman wrote, could be trusted as “completely truthful”.

The record of MEK officials over the years, however, has been one of putting out one communiqué after another that contained information about alleged covert Iranian work on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, nearly all of which turned out to be false when they were investigated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The only significant exception to the MEK’s overall record of false information on the Iranian nuclear programme was its discovery of Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility and its Arak heavy water facility in August 2002.

But even in that case, the MEK official who announced the Natanz discovery, U.S. representative Alireza Jafarzadeh, incorrectly identified it as a “fuel fabrication facility” rather than as an enrichment facility. He also said it was near completion, although it was actually several months from having the equipment necessary to begin enrichment.

Contrary to the MEK claims that it got the information on Natanz from sources in the Iranian government, moreover, the New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh reported, a “senior IAEA official” told him in 2004 that Israeli intelligence had passed their satellite intelligence on Natanz to the MEK.

An adviser to Reza Pahlavi, the heir to the Shah, later told journalist Connie Bruck that the information about Natanz had come from “a friendly government”, which had provided it to both the Pahlavi organisation and the MEK.

Nisman has long been treated in pro-Israel, anti-Iran political circles as the authoritative source on the AMIA bombing case and the broader subject of Iran and terrorism. Last May, Nisman issued a new 500-page report accusing Iran of creating terrorist networks in the Western hemisphere that builds on his indictment of Iran for the 1994 bombing.

But Nisman’s readiness to base the crucial accusation against Iran in the AMIA case solely on MEK sources and his denial of their obvious unreliability highlights the fact that he has been playing a political role on behalf of certain powerful interests rather than uncovering the facts.

Pope’s visit to Brazil met with protests

Press TV

Brazilian police have used tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of protesters in Rio de Janeiro rallying against the vast amount of public funds spent on Pope Francis’ visit to the country.

The demonstration was held on Monday near the Rio state governor’s palace after a meeting there between the pope and Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.

One photographer suffered a head injury after being clubbed by a riot police officer and at least five protesters were arrested.

According to police, officers charged the crowd of protesters after someone threw a Molotov cocktail.

A day earlier on Sunday, Brazilian police found a homemade explosive device in a public toilet near the basilica at Aparecida, a Marian shrine that Francis will visit Wednesday.

The Brazilian government has spent USD 53 million in public funds for the
Pope’s week-long visit to the country, which is his first trip abroad after becoming head of the Catholic Church in March.

The pope’s arrival to Brazil came just weeks after the country experienced a series of protests against government corruption and public spending for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

The protesters argued that the government should instead spend public funds on health, education and other public services.

Venezuela ends normalization of US relations

Press TV

Venezuela says it has ended the process of normalizing relations with the United States over remarks by Washington’s ambassador-designate to the UN.

During her confirmation hearing before a US Senate committee on July 17, Samantha Power claimed Venezuela, along with several other countries, was conducting a “crackdown on civil society.”

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela hereby ends the process … of finally normalizing our diplomatic relations” that started in early June, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a Friday statement.

The statement added that Caracas is opposed to the “interventionist agenda” presented by Power.

On Thursday, the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro denounced Power’s remarks as “outrageous,” and demanded “an immediate correction by the US government.”

“Power says she’ll fight repression in Venezuela? What repression? There is repression in the United States, where they kill African-Americans with impunity, and where they hunt the youngster Edward Snowden just for telling the truth,” he added, referring to the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Venezuela has offered asylum to Snowden, an American former technical contractor for the US National Security Agency (NSA), who is wanted in the United States for leaking details of Washington’s secret surveillance programs.

Maduro was the first foreign leader to state openly that he was offering sanctuary to Snowden.

Venezuela and the US have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010. However, in June US Secretary of State John Kerry and Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua agreed on the sidelines of a regional summit in Guatemala that officials would “soon” meet for talks that could lead to an exchange of envoys.

In March, Caracas expelled two US military attaches over allegations of trying to foment instability in Venezuela.

Washington also angered Caracas by supporting Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who disputed the results of the April presidential election, in which Maduro won the race with 50.7 percent of the vote against 49.1 percent for Capriles.

Italy, Portugal apologize to Bolivia for blocking airspace to its presidential plane

Press TV

Italy and Portugal have officially apologized for involvement in illegally rerouting the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales earlier this month during a flight home from Moscow.

Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca announced Wednesday that Italian and Portuguese officials apologized for the controversial incident on July 3rd, when a number Western European countries closed their airspace to the presidential aircraft on a false suspicion that leaker of US electronic spying Edward Snowden was onboard, forcing the plane to land in Vienna on July 3.

“It was not only Spain, which sent us a letter with excuses, but Italy and Portugal as well,” Choquehuanca stated, adding that the ministry would consider the apology letters on Wednesday and will later issue a reply…

Spain apologizes for role in Morales jet ban

by Carlos Latuff

Press TV

Spain has apologized to Bolivia for its parts in the recent incident, in which Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane was forbidden to fly over some European countries on the rumors that US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden was onboard.

Ambassador Angel Vazquez delivered on Monday the official apology to the Bolivian Foreign Ministry in La Paz.

Varquez gave a statement acknowledging an “apology for the obstacle and the hardships caused to the president.”

France, Spain, Portugal and Italy all refused to allow Morales’ plane, which was flying home on July 2 from Moscow, to cross their airspace.

The presidential plane was forced to land in Vienna, Austria where it was searched by authorities on false rumors that US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was on board.

The Bolivian Foreign Ministry accused the Europeans of bowing to US pressure when it banned Morales’ plane.

After the incident, Morales revealed that Spain’s ambassador to Austria had tried to conduct a search of the aircraft.

“We recognize publicly that perhaps the procedures used in the Vienna airport by our representative were not the most effective,” said Vaszquez.

“We regret this fact … the procedure was not appropriate and bothered the president (Morales), putting him in a difficult situation.”

The incident also caused strong condemnation from several countries in Latin American, including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who called it a “provocation” that concerned” all of Latin America.”

Meanwhile, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have all offered asylum to Snowden, who is holed up at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport since June 23, when he landed in Russia from Hong Kong.

Latin America united against US over espionage

by Yusuf Fernandez, source

Anger is growing in Latin America over the US espionage disclosed by former CIA agent and current whistleblower, Edward Snowden. The recent meeting of the Mercosur, the common market organization of South America, in Montevideo (Uruguay) focused largely on US espionage against Latin Americans.

The summit issued a statement in which it condemned US “illegal acts of espionage that threaten citizens’ rights and the friendly co-existence between nations.”

The statement also expressed solidarity with the governments of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, which have offered to grant asylum to Snowden, who has exposed extensive illegal spying by the US National Security Agency. The Mercosur statement reiterated that states have a right under international law to grant asylum.

Shortly before, Latin American Presidents showed their solidarity with Bolivian President, Evo Morales, whose plane was forced to land in Vienna for 14 hours due to the negative of four European countries (France, Spain, Portugal and Italy), under US pressure, to allow it to overfly their air space for fear that Snowden was on board.

This act was a clear violation of international treaties and air traffic agreements. It also put the lives of President Morales and other Bolivian officials who travelled in the aircraft at risk.

As a result, Mercosur countries have summoned their ambassadors in the four above-mentioned European states and have demanded an official explanation and “public apologies” from them for their “neo-colonial practices”.

These Latin American meetings took place amid the growing scandal over NSA spying activities in the continent. According to several sources, the NSA has targeted most Latin American nations in its activities. Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Paraguay, Chile and El Salvador are among the countries that have been spied by the agency, according to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, which cited documents leaked by Snowden. Significantly, some of these countries, such as Mexico and Colombia, have been close US allies for a long time.

The documents showed that the NSA´s PRISM program has collected emails, faxes, searches, chats and files from Latin American individuals, companies and government agencies through US companies working in Internet such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Skype.

At least, data from 5 Latin American satellites were also intercepted in 2012. “Special Collection Service” centers were created by the NSA and the CIA in some Latin American capitals, such as Bogota, Caracas, Brasilia, Mexico City and Panama City, in order to collect data from these satellites.

The documents showed that US espionage targeted not only military or political aspects but also commercial and energy issues, such as the oil production in Mexico and Venezuela.

This fact has fueled particular concern among Latin American companies, as this espionage damages their interests and favors the position of US corporations in their struggle to control the region´s economies.

The US government is currently worried about the increase of trading links and foreign investments from China, Russia and Europe in Latin America, a region that Washington still considers its “courtyard”. China especially has been developing its ties with Latin American countries in several fields, including energy, in recent years.

Bolivia rejects US envoy

On July 13, Morales claimed US intelligence had hacked into the email accounts of senior Bolivian officials amid growing concerns about Washington’s secret surveillance programs. “US intelligence agents have accessed the emails of our most senior authorities in Bolivia,” Morales said in a speech. “It was recommended to me that I not use email, and I have followed suit and shut it down,” the Bolivian president added.

Some days earlier, Morales had threatened to expel the US diplomatic mission and shut down its embassy. “We do not need the pretext of cooperation and diplomatic relations so that they can come and spy on us,” said the Bolivian president.

Bolivian Interior Minister Carlos Romero also revealed that La Paz had rejected a diplomat suggested by Washington as the new US ambassador to the Latin American country.

Romero said in an interview that the decision was made due to the negative remarks of James Nealon, the proposed ambassador, about the governments of Bolivia and Venezuela.

In a secret document revealed by WikiLeaks in 2011, Nealon, who was Washington’s ambassador to Peru at the time, accused “anti-system” Bolivian President Evo Morales of trying to destabilize Peruvian President Alan Garcia with the support of the of Venezuela and Ecuador.

The US had proposed Nealon as its new ambassador to La Paz in December 2012. It is worth recalling that Morales expelled former US Ambassador to La Paz Philip S. Goldberg in 2008, arguing that he was attempting to undermine the Bolivian government.

Other Latin American countries have also protested against US spying activities. Colombia’s foreign ministry “showed its concern” that there had been an “unauthorized data collection program” and asked the US government to give an account of its actions through its embassy in Bogota.
“In rejecting the acts of espionage that violate people’s rights and intimacy as well as the international conventions on telecommunication, Colombia requests the corresponding explanations from the US government through its ambassador to Colombia,” Reuters quoted the ministry as saying.

For his part, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala said that the espionage was worrisome. “We are against these kinds of spying activities,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

“It would be good for Congress to look with concern at privacy issues related to personal information.” “This is the world we live in; a world with new forms of colonialism,” Argentini4n President Cristina Fernandez said. “It is more subtle than it was two centuries ago, when they came with armies to take our silver and gold.”

Brazil case

O Globo reported that the NSA and CIA have also collected telephone calls and emails in Brazil, the biggest country of Latin America and a leading member of international blocs such as UNASUR, MERCOSUR, CELAC and BRICS.

After these data were published, Brazil’s telecommunications agency said that it would investigate whether local operators had violated customer privacy rules by cooperating with US agencies. According to O Globo, the espionage of Brazilian communications took place through US companies that are partners with Brazilian firms.

For her part, President Dilma Rousseff warned that if the reports prove true, and so far every indication is that they will, they will represent “violations of sovereignty and human rights.”

Some Brazilian congressmen have called on the Brazilian government to cancel defense contracts with US companies in retaliation and others have stated that Brazil should offer asylum to Snowden.

Gilberto Carvalho, a top aide to President Dilma Rousseff, said a “very hard” response to Washington was needed. “If we lower our heads, they will trample all over us tomorrow,” he said. According to Reuters, Anatel, the country´s telecommunications regulator has announced that it will work with the federal police to determine whether local telephone operators have broken any laws.

US double standards

For its part and instead of answering Latin American concerns regarding to its spying activities, Washington is still showing its old bully attitude in its relations with these countries.

“All across the region, American embassies have communicated Washington´s message that letting Snowden into Latin America, even if he shows up unexpectedly, would have lasting consequences”, claimed a recent article published in the New York Times. A senior State Department official told the Times that aiding Snowden “would put relations (of these countries with the US) in a very bad place for a long time to come.”

Some Latin American media has criticized these open threats and accused the US of using double standards here too. In fact, Washington has rejected the extradition to Venezuela of Luis Posada Carriles, a former CIA operative and terrorist who allegedly masterminded the bombing of a Cuban plane that killed 73 people in the 1970s.

He escaped from a Venezuelan prison in the 1980s and is currently living in the US. Similarly, Washington has ignored Bolivian demand to extradite Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who was President from 2002 to 2003 and fled Bolivia after he was ousted by massive protests against his plan to sell Bolivian gas resources to foreign companies. De Lozada now faces charges of genocide in his country for ordering the military to fire on unarmed protesters in 2003. More than 60 people were killed due to these facts.

The spying scandal will certainly deal a serious blow to US influence in Latin America at a time when it was already diminishing. “A region that was once a broad zone of American power has become increasingly confident in its ability to act independently”, said a recent article in the New York Times. “Our influence in the hemisphere is diminishing,” acknowledged Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the United Nations.

In any case, US bully policies might well prove unsuccessful this time, when Latin America is striving to increase its unity and integration. “The State Department and the government of the United States should know that Venezuela learned a long time ago to defeat pressures from any part of the world,” Venezuelan foreign minister, El?as Jaua, said. Other Latin American countries will surely think the same.

No evidence for charge Iran linked to JFK terror plot

by Gareth Porter, source

IPS — Alberto Nisman, the Argentine prosecutor who was prevented by Argentine President Cristina Kirchner from testifying before a U.S. House subcommittee investigating alleged Iranian terrorist networks in the Americas here this week, claimed in a recent report that Tehran was involved in a 2007 plot to blow up fuel tanks at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.

But his report offers no actual evidence that Iran was ever even aware of the airport plot, and the official documents in the case indicate that the U.S. government found no such evidence either.

Nisman’s sensational charge appears to be aimed at undermining the Argentine government’s recent agreement with Iran to jointly determine the truth about the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in which 85 people were killed.

Nisman also wrote a “request for arrests” in 2006 charging that the entire Iranian government leadership was responsible for the AMIA bombing.

Israel and Jewish leaders in Argentina strongly opposed the new accord with Iran, fearing that it could cast doubt on Nisman’s 2006 call for the arrest of top Iranian officials.

In a 31-page summary of a 502-page report issued May 29, Nisman declares, “In this petition, it has been proved that the Iranian authorities not only had been informed of this plan to attack JFK Airport but they appear to be seriously involved in this operation.”

But the summary report contains no real evidence to support such a conclusion. The Barack Obama administration, which was eager to show that Iran was involved in terrorist threats in the United States – as it did in the case of the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador – made no such assertion when it brought the case of the JFK airport plot to trial in 2010.

Nisman bases his claim of Iranian involvement in the JFK plot on his own characterisation of one of the four men convicted in the plot, Abdul Kadir, then a member of Guyana’s parliament, as a “veteran intelligence agent” of Iran.

The Argentine prosecutor asserts that Kadir worked as a spy for Mohsen Rabbani, the former Iranian cultural attache in Argentina who Nisman had accused in 2006 of being the mastermind in the 1994 bombing. In his report, he refers to Kadir’s “deeply-rooted connections” with Iran and describes him as being in “hierarchical subordination” to Rabbani.

But the only evidence Nisman cites in support of those dramatic terms is a series of handwritten letters sent by Kadir to Rabbani and the fact that contact information on Rabbani was found in Kadir’s address book.

The information said to have been found in Kadir’s letters doesn’t appear to be of a kind that covert operatives would normally be expected to provide. As Kadir testified at his trial, it was information that was available in newspapers on the social, economic and political situation in Guyana. That testimony was not contradicted by government witnesses.

The most sensitive item in his letters, according to news reports, was the fact that the army in Guyana suffered from low morale.

Neither Nisman nor the U.S. government has offered any evidence that Rabbani had requested the letters from Kadir, who apparently also sent the same or similar letters to the Iranian ambassador in Venezuela.

Kadir appears to have been eager to ingratiate himself with the Iranian regime, but nothing about the letters suggests that he was acting in an official capacity.

The JFK Airport plot only began to unfold in mid-2006 when former JFK Air Cargo handler Russell Defreitas, a native of Trinidad, met a former member of his mosque and began telling him about wanting to blow up the fuel tanks at the airport. He was unaware that the acquaintance, Steven Francis, had become an FBI informant after having been convicted of cocaine trafficking, and he immediately began recording Defreitas’s statements.

Kadir didn’t even appear in the plot until February 2007, according to an affidavit by the detective working on the case for the U.S. Attorney’s office, Robert Addonizio.

A June 1, 2007 “complaint” against the four alleged conspirators made no reference to Iranian involvement in the case.

The plotters never advanced beyond grandiose ideas and had no funding and no access to explosives. The FBI apparently felt that informant Francis would need to do something to help move the plot along. A report on a meeting of case agents handling Francis in October 2006 obtained by defence lawyers quoted the handlers as saying they would talk with the informant and “task him to increase the pressure on the plotters to move ahead”.

It would have been technically impossible, moreover, for such an operation to do major damage to the airport in any case, despite the statement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in June 2007 that it would have caused “unthinkable” destruction. Blowing up the fuel tanks would have burned millions of dollars in fuel, according to experts, but caused little other damage, because of safety features built into the tanks and pipelines.

Defreitas apparently hoped that Iran might be interested in his plot. The press release of the U.S. Attorney’s office on the case in May 2011 refers to Defreitas’s decision to approach another plotter, Kareem Ibrahim of Trinidad, in the belief that Ibrahim had “connections with militant leaders in Iran”.

But when the plotters met with Ibrahim, according to detective Addonizio, he mentioned only his contacts with leaders of Jamaat al Muslimeen, a Sunni organisation that had mounted an abortive coup d’etat against the government of Trinidad in 1990.

A May 2011 statement by the U.S. Attorney’s office said the plotters had “sent Abdul Kadir to meet with his contacts in the Iranian revolutionary leadership, including Mohsen Rabbani”. But that conclusion was apparently an inference from the fact that Kadir was boarding a plane for Venezuela hoping to go on to Iran, when he was arrested in Trinidad.

No communication by Kadir with Iranian officials about the plot has come to light.

Foreign governments and the news media treated Nisman’s 2006 “request for arrest” of top Iranian officials for the 1994 Buenos Aires bombing as an authoritative source. But Nisman cited as evidence for his conclusion a wide range of data that did not actually support it at all.

Nisman relied entirely on the testimony of Iranian defector Aboghasem Mesbahi in accusing the leadership of the Iranian government of ordering the bombing of the AMIA community centre.

Mesbahi had claimed in affidavits to Argentine investigators that friends in Iranian intelligence had tipped him off that the decision to bomb the Jewish community centre had been made at a meeting attended by top Iranian officials in August 1993.

But in a November 2006 interview, the former head of the FBI’s Hezbollah Office, James Bernazzani, said that U.S. intelligence officials had concluded Mesbahi did not have the access to Iranian intelligence officials that he had claimed in his affidavits to Argentine officials. Bernazzani said intelligence analysts regarded Mesbahi as someone who was desperate for money and ready to “provide testimony to any country on any case involving Iran”.

Mesbahi’s reputation was actually worse than that. He had also claimed at various times to have had inside information that Iran was behind the 9/11 attacks as well as the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. U.S. intelligence was sure that he was lying about the 9/11 attacks in particular, because he never communicated any such information to U.S. authorities before the attack itself.

Mesbahi also made the highly inflammatory charge that former Argentine President Carlos Menem had received a 10-million-dollar bribe from Iran placed in a specific Swiss bank account but later withdrew it.

Forcing down the Bolivian president’s plane was an act of piracy

by John Pilger, source

Imagine the aircraft of the President of France being forced down in Latin America on “suspicion” that it was carrying a political refugee to safety – and not just any refugee but someone who has provided the people of the world with proof of criminal activity on an epic scale.

Imagine the response from Paris, let alone the “international community”, as the governments of the West call themselves. To a chorus of baying indignation from Whitehall to Washington, Brussels to Madrid, heroic special forces would be dispatched to rescue their leader and, as sport, smash up the source of such flagrant international gangsterism. Editorials would cheer them on, perhaps reminding readers that this kind of piracy was exhibited by the German Reich in the 1930s.

The forcing down of Bolivian President Evo Morales’s plane – denied air space by France, Spain and Portugal, followed by his 14-hour confinement while Austrian officials demanded to “inspect” his aircraft for the “fugitive” Edward Snowden – was an act of air piracy and state terrorism. It was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world and the cowardice and hypocrisy of bystanders who dare not speak its name.

In Moscow for a summit of gas-producing nations, Morales had been asked about Snowden who remains trapped in Moscow airport. “If there were a request [for political asylum],” he said, “of course, we would be willing to debate and consider the idea.” That was clearly enough provocation for the Godfather. “We have been in touch with a range of countries that had a chance of having Snowden land or travel through their country,” said a US state department official.

The French – having squealed about Washington spying on their every move, as revealed by Snowden – were first off the mark, followed by the Portuguese. The Spanish then did their bit by enforcing a flight ban of their airspace , giving the Godfather’s Viennese hirelings enough time to find out if Snowden was indeed invoking article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

Those paid to keep the record straight have played their part with a cat-and-mouse media game that reinforces the Godfather’s lie that this heroic young man is running from a system of justice, rather than preordained, vindictive incarceration that amounts to torture: ask Bradley Manning and the living ghosts in Guantanamo.

Historians seem to agree that the rise of fascism in Europe might have been averted had the liberal or left political class understood the true nature of its enemy. The parallels today are very different; but the Damocles sword over Snowden, like the casual abduction of the Bolivian president, ought to stir us into recognising the true nature of the enemy.

Snowden’s revelations are not merely about privacy, nor civil liberty, nor even mass spying. They are about the unmentionable: that the democratic facades of the United States now barely conceal a systematic gangsterism historically identified with if not necessarily the same as fascism. On Tuesday, a US drone killed 16 people in North Waziristan, “where many of the world’s most dangerous militants live”, said the few paragraphs I read. That by far the world’s most dangerous militants had hurled the drones was not a consideration. President Obama personally sends them every Tuesday.

In his acceptance of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature, Harold Pinter referred to “a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed”. He asked why “the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities” of the Soviet Union were well known in the West while America’s crimes were “superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged”. The most enduring silence of the modern era covered the extinction and dispossession of countless human beings by a rampant America and its agents. “But you wouldn’t know it,” said Pinter. “It never happened. Even while it was happening it never happened. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”

This hidden history – not really hidden, of course, but excluded from the consciousness of societies drilled in American myths and priorities – has never been more vulnerable to exposure. Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing, like that of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, threatens to break the silence Pinter described. In revealing a vast Orwellian police state apparatus servicing history’s greatest war-making machine, they illuminate the true extremism of the 21st century. Unprecedented, Germany’s Der Spiegel has described the Obama administration as “soft totalitarianism”. If the penny is finally falling, we might all look closer to home.

Bolivia condemns jet aggression over Snowden row

by Carlos Latuff

Al Manar

Bolivia accused European countries of an “act of aggression” for refusing to allow its presidential jet into their airspace, amid rumors US fugitive Edward Snowden was on board.

Bolivian President Evo Morales flew out of Austria on Wednesday after police inspected his jet and found that Snowden was not on board in an incident that has sparked a diplomatic row.

Morales lashed out at European countries for denying his jet entry into their airspace overnight, dragging his country into the escalating US spying scandal.

“I am not a delinquent,” Morales told reporters at Vienna airport where his plane was held up for more than 12 hours.

Bolivia’s UN envoy Sacha Llorenti said the country would file a complaint to UN chief Ban Ki-moon over the diversion which he said “violated international law”.The diversion was an “act of aggression” against Bolivia and tantamount to “kidnapping” Morales, he told reporters in Geneva.

The Austrian interior ministry said airport police carried out a “voluntary inspection” of the jet, confirming Snowden was not on board. The jet was carrying just five crew and six passengers, it said. The plane eventually left Vienna shortly before 1200 GMT after Spain opened its airspace. The jet was on its way to the Spanish Canary Island of Las Palmas for servicing before continuing on to Bolivia.

The diversion of the flight, which originally took off from Moscow, occurred late Tuesday just hours after Morales said his country would consider giving political asylum to 30-year-old Snowden if he submitted one.

Bolivian officials accused France, Portugal, Italy and Spain of initially denying airspace to Morales’s plane, forcing it to reroute over the groundless rumours that Snowden was travelling with Morales.

‘Infiltrated from all sides’: Bug found in London’s Ecuadorian embassy


A hidden microphone has been discovered in the Ecuadorian ambassador’s office in London, said Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino. He denounced the find as yet more evidence of the loss of ethics at an international level in government relations.

“We regret to inform that we have found a hidden microphone in the London embassy,” said Patino at a press conference He added that he had received intelligence that pointed at the origin of the security breach and would reveal it later on Wednesday.

The device itself had been discovered almost three weeks ago on June 16 in the office of the Ecuadorian Ambassador to the UK, Ana Alban, in a routine security check ahead of Patino’s visit.

“I did not bring this up before because I didn’t want my visit to London to hold talks on Julian Assange to be confused with accusations over this surveillance device found in the ambassador’s office,” he told press.

The head of the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry stated that he would have to consult with President Rafael Correa on the issue and they would require an explanation from the country responsible.

Moreover, Patino clarified that he was not insinuating this discovery had anything to do with the US spy network, revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Patino went on to voice his concerns that the Ecuadorian government was being “infiltrated from all sides.”

“This is a testament to the loss of ethics at an international level in the relations that we have with other governments,” noted Patino.

During his visit to London, Patino held negotiations with his British counterpart, William Hague, to push for the safe-conduct of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, to Ecuador where he has been granted asylum. Assange has now been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over a year as UK authorities threaten to arrest him if he sets foot outside the diplomatic mission.

The British government refused to grant Assange safe passage to Ecuador and reiterated their commitment to extradite the whistleblower to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over accusations of sexual assault.

Ecuador is also currently assessing the asylum request of former CIA employee Edward Snowden, who is held up in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. He is currently unable to travel as his passport is invalid.

Washington has issued an extradition order against Snowden under the espionage act and called for international cooperation in returning him to American jurisdiction.

The US threatened the Ecuadorian government with taking away a lucrative customs tax agreement if the Latin American country grants Snowden asylum.

The Ecuadorean government reacted with ire, stating that in the face of “insolence” and “threats,” Ecuador will renounce its trade benefits with the US.

Brazilian protests continue despite government concessions

Al Ahed news

Tens of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets on Wednesday for a crackdown on corruption and better public services, just a day after Congress conceded to some of the key demands of protesters.

In Belo Horizonte, authorities said 40,000 people gathered to demand improved education and healthcare while Brazil hosted the Confederations Cup semi-final soccer game between Brazil and Uruguay in a warm-up for the 2014 World Cup.

Youths threw stones at police who used teargas to stop marchers from reaching the stadium, while a banner hung from a bridge read “FIFA go home”.

In Brasilia, a peaceful protest took place against the billions of dollars Brazil has spent building new stadiums for the global tournaments, in which protesters argued that funds should have been used to improve public services including health, education and transport.

On Wednesday, the Brazilian Senate had approved a bill for stricter sentences on corruption, one day after it rejected a constitutional amendment that limited the power of federal prosecutors to investigate crimes, which was considered by protesters as a move by politicians to avoid corruption probes.

“Our representatives are listening to the people now. We are creating a new political consciousness,” said Amanda Caetano, spokeswoman for a group in Brasilia demanding an end to the privileges enjoyed by politicians.

The prairie fire that swept Brazil

Pandering to the Privileged

by LAURA CARLSEN, source

With a million people demonstrating in the streets of cities throughout Brazil, everyone’s scrambling to understand how a twenty-cent bus fare hike turned into a social revolt.

Government officials are the most surprised. President Dilma Rousseff hastily cancelled a long-planned trip to Japan and has called an emergency meeting of her cabinet. Her first response was to herald the protests as a sign of participatory democracy. Now that response seems to be evolving as she recognizes the significance of the unexpected grassroots movement.

Taking a harder line on Saturday she stated, “We will not live with a violence that shames Brazil; with balance and calmness—but also with firmness—we will guarantee rights and liberty.” At stake for the government are two things that they care deeply about: the millions in foreign revenue that will supposedly pour in during the mega-events and the image of Brazil as a modern, upcoming leader in a multipolar world.

No one expected the prairie-fire spread of the protests over the past few weeks. It’s been a wake-up call for leaders in federal government and for local governments in the major cities, some of the ruling Labor Party (PT), such as the capital Sao Paulo where it started,  and others of opposition parties. But government officials are scratching their heads over what exactly it is they are waking up to.

The Free Fare Movement started the ball rolling on June 7, when it called the demonstrations to protests the fare hikes. This is nothing new—protesting fare hikes and demanding free and quality public transportation is what the movement does.

Even a leader of the movement, Caio Martins, is not quite sure why this year’s protest caught on like it did. In an interview with Brazil de Fato, he replied that something had changed in people’s aspirations. “First, because it caught the people’s imagination.”

He added, “To talk about the fare hikes is to talk about the situation in the cities, and transportation is an essential element.”

What’s the situation in the cities that led people into the streets? Brazil has among the most expensive public transportation systems in the world, as well as being aggravatingly inefficient. Privatized years ago, the buses get stuck in traffic and take up inordinate amounts of people’s time and money.

Demonstrations started in Sao Paulo, the usually staid capital and financial center of the country. There the contrast between the majority of the population and the elite shows in their way of getting around. The rich fly in private helicopters that buzz through the airways over the congested streets below.

That sense of being stuck below, with the wealthy few above, has played a huge role in igniting protests. The PT government beginning with President Lula da Silva initiated social programs that greatly reduced poverty and hunger throughout the nation. But the strict adherence to neoliberal growth places a priority on maintaining the privileges of the wealthy and some widely publicized corruption scandals have created an image of at least part of the political elite partaking of those privileges—all  at the expense of the majority. Inequality continues to plague Brazil and recent increases in the cost of living have gouged the middle class.

The second image that sparked indignation in the protests also reflects the pandering to a privileged few. Brazil’s preparations for the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 have syphoned away billions of dollars of public funds. The new mega-stadiums, airports and hotels will not be shared by the masses of the soccer-loving public. They will accommodate an international elite that can afford to pay the high ticket prices for far fewer but more luxury seats. Not only do the poor receive little benefits from this expenditure, but the infrastructure projects have led todisplacement of poor families, especially around the stadiums.

Signs at protests bear messages like, “As you watch the ball roll, we need schools and hospitals.” The arrogance of the FIFA–the international football federation–kindled popular anger. The in-your-face inequality represented by the corrupt and wealthy soccer federation landing like a ton of bricks in poor Brazilian slums provoked signs like, “We want schools and healthcare of the same quality that the FIFA bosses have” and, “The World Cup for whom?” In Rio, the organization Rio da Paz scattered the beaches with soccer balls marked with crosses.

FIFA head Joseph Blatter attempted to wash his hands of the conflict and instead inflamed it, stating to Brazil’s Globo TV, “Brazil asked to host the World Cup. We did not impose the World Cup on Brazil. They knew that to host a good World Cup they would naturally have to build stadiums.”

The promise that the massive public investment in infrastructure would serve the people is not working out, and instead the poor are paying a heavy price international sporting events for the elite. The FIFA has demanded the suspension of basic civil liberties for the games and imposed its own rules to monopolize sales and income related to the games.

The demonstrations feed not only on sympathy for the causes, but also on indignation caused by the military police’s heavy-handed response. Repression has been widespread. The military police are a sore point for many Brazilians, a remnant of the dictatorship, trained in putting down popular uprisings and other mechanisms of social control. Although small groups of demonstrators have turned violent, with acts of vandalism reported in some places, the police’s extensive use of tear gas, rubber bullets and beatings have enraged the public.

Watching the videos, perhaps the most impressive characteristic of the protests is the highly energized presence of youth. While this is relatively common in other Latin American nations, especially in the past few years, it’s new in Brazil. Brazilian youth now join other young people throughout the world who feel hemmed into a bleak future and are ready to do something about it.

As protests have progressed, more people from the favelas have joined the primarily middle class demonstrations. Overall, it’ has become a broad-based mix of interests and people, with polls showing that the majority of Brazilians support the protests.

The city governments rescinded the fare hikes in an attempt to quell protests, but the demonstrations continued over the weekend, especially in Salvador de Bahia and Belo Horizonte. Broader demands to remove public transportation from the private sector, to fund schools and hospitals, and against the FIFA and corruption in general, among others, keep people in the streets.

The movement originally under the umbrella of the Free Fare Movement is so broad and amorphous that there isn’t a formal petition. The protests now are the public space to express discontent with a society that has seen its economy and the aspirations of its population grow, while generating a sense that the majority is not seeing the benefits it’s entitled to. The movement’s lack of leadership and coordination is seem by some as a risk factor and by others as an encouraging sign of citizens acting for a better society.

Even as protesters launched offensives on government buildings in Brasilia, the demonstrations are not directed at specific parties or politicians, nor is it likely they will be appeased by solutions brokered by a political elite.

As one of the signs confiscated near the Fonte Nova Stadium as the Brazilian team faced off with the Italians —in normal times, a ritual of nationalist pride—said: “We’re in the street to change Brazil.” No more, no less.