Month: July, 2021
‘Independent’ Mexico has every right to send aid to Cuba in defiance of ‘inhumane’ US sanctions, president says
worker | July 29, 2021 | 7:35 pm | Cuba, Mexico | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/news/530526-mexico-fuel-cuba-us-sanctions-inhumane/

‘Independent’ Mexico has every right to send aid to Cuba in defiance of ‘inhumane’ US sanctions, president says

‘Independent’ Mexico has every right to send aid to Cuba in defiance of ‘inhumane’ US sanctions, president says
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has scoffed at the notion that Mexico should honor a US-imposed embargo on Cuba, as his country sends aid to the island in defiance of Washington’s suffocating economic restrictions.

 

Defending his decision to fuel shipments and other humanitarian aid to Cuba, Obrador said on Tuesday that US sanctions on the socialist state were “inhumane,” and that “independent” Mexico was well within its rights to defy the unilaterally imposed embargo.

Earlier this week, a Mexican cargo ship loaded with 100,000 barrels of diesel fuel set sail for Cuba. The Mexican government said the fuel would be used to provide power for Cuban hospitals.

Two additional vessels loaded with medical supplies and food embarked in the following days. Mexico’s Foreign Ministry described the shipments as humanitarian assistance aimed at helping Cuba overcome the coronavirus pandemic.

Washington has tried to penalize ships that deliver goods to Cuba by preventing them from docking later at US ports, Obrador noted. The rule is one of the main ways the US enforces its embargo.

The US government has ratcheted up sanctions aimed at some Cuban officials accused of human rights abuses following anti-government protests in the country earlier this month.

Mexico isn’t the only country that has openly bypassed Washington’s economic restrictions. On Saturday, Russia sent a large shipment of food and medical supplies to the island. Cuba’s trade minister applauded the move, tweeting: “We are not alone.”

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USA/Global: Let Cuba Live!
worker | July 28, 2021 | 7:55 pm | Action, Cuba | Comments closed

USA/Global: Let Cuba Live!

AfricaFocus Bulletin
July 27, 2021 (2021-07-27)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

The Biden administration has now been in office for six months, along with a narrow Democratic majority in Congress. So it seems an appropriate time for a report card. I offered my evaluation in another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today, entitled “Building Back Better? Or Not?” But as I was finalizing that Bulletin, I realized that the rising U.S. attacks on Cuba are a key indicator of how things are going.

They show that the United States is headed toward “Build Back Worse” – a sharp bipartisan reversion to simplistic Cold War policies and the “bad neighbor” policy toward Caribbean countries. And yet the “mainstream media” (for me, the daily Washington Post and New York Times) contained at best only a few hints of dissent from this policy consensus.

I began accumulating links on the Cuba situation to include in the Bulletin, and they grew beyond the space available there. Hence the need for a separate treatment. This Bulletin contains an open letter published in the New York Times on Friday, July 25, as well as excerpts and links to sources that provide a fuller picture.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on USA/Africa relations, visit http://www.africafocus.org/country/usa-africa.php

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Open Letter to President Biden

Let Cuba Live!

Sign the letter here.

Dear President Joe Biden,

It is time to take a new path forward in U.S.-Cuban relations. We, the undersigned, are making this urgent, public appeal to you to reject the cruel policies put into place by the Trump White House that have created so much suffering among the Cuban people.

Cuba – a country of eleven million people – is living through a difficult crisis due to the growing scarcity of food and medicine. Recent protests have drawn the world’s attention to this. While the Covid-19 pandemic has proven challenging for all countries, it has been even more so for a small island under the heavy weight of an economic embargo.

We find it unconscionable, especially during a pandemic, to intentionally block remittances and Cuba’s use of global financial institutions, given that access to dollars is necessary for the importation of food and medicine.

As the pandemic struck the island, its people – and their government – lost billions in revenue from international tourism that would normally go to their public health care system, food distribution and economic relief.

During the pandemic, Donald Trump’s administration tightened the embargo, pushed aside the Obama opening, and put in place 243 “coercive measures” that have intentionally throttled life on the island and created more suffering.

The prohibition on remittances and the end of direct commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba are impediments to the wellbeing of a majority of Cuban families.

“We stand with the Cuban people,” you wrote on July 12. If that is the case, we ask you to immediately sign an executive order and annul Trump’s 243 “coercive measures.”

There is no reason to maintain the Cold War politics that required the U.S. to treat Cuba as an existential enemy rather than a neighbor. Instead of maintaining the path set by Trump in his efforts to undo President Obama’s opening to Cuba, we call on you to move forward. Resume the opening and begin the process of ending the embargo. Ending the severe shortages in food and medicine must be the top priority.

On 23 June, most of the member states of the United Nations voted to ask the U.S. to end the embargo. For the past 30 years this has been the consistent position of a majority of member states. In addition, seven UN Special Rapporteurs wrote a letter to the U.S. government in April 2020 regarding the sanctions on Cuba. “In the pandemic emergency,” they wrote, “the lack of will of the U.S. government to suspend sanctions may lead to a higher risk of suffering in Cuba.”

We ask you to end the Trump “coercive measures” and return to the Obama opening or, even better, begin the process of ending the embargo and fully normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba.

Signatories available at https://www.letcubalive.com/.

*******************************************************************

For anyone wanting to understand the role of Cuba in African liberation struggles, and the parallel U.S. opposition to those struggles, the case study of Angola is essential.

These two books, by Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies professor Piero Gleijeses, are the key scholarly works on this history, based on multiple archival and oral sources from the United States, Cuba, Angola, and other countries.

See his CV here.

https://bookshop.org/a/709/9780807854648

https://bookshop.org/a/709/9781469628325

Other Background Resources on US/Cuba Policy

Whether simply out of political calculation or a return to the worst of U.S. Cold War thinking, the Biden administration, with political support from both parties, is doubling down on destructive policies against the Cuban people. Yes, Cuba does need reform, and uncritical support of the Cuban government disregards current realities.

But U.S. sanctions, aimed at punishing the Cuban people as a means to bring down the government, build on a history of U.S. occupation of Cuba at the beginning of the 20th century, imposing a highly limited “independence” after defeating Spain in the Spanish American War. Shortly after Cuban revolutionaries overthrew the latest U.S.-dependent government in 1959, hostility between the United States and Cuba mounted rapidly, culminating in the failed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 and economic sanctions in 1962, almost 60 years ago. Sanctions were somewhat relaxed during the Obama administration, then strengthened again under Trump.

In Cuba policy, therefore, President Biden is continuing the Trump policies and even threatening to escalate. This is not “building back better” but doubling down on the worst. No rethinking of past policies at all!

https://www.democracynow.org/2021/7/27/cuba_protests_pandemic_conditions

https://novaramedia.com/2021/07/20/whats-actually-going-on-in-cuba/ by Helen Yaffe.

An excellent summary by a leading Cuba expert based at the University of Glasgow. Author of the book We Are Cuba! on the post-Soviet history of Cuba.See also https://www.facebook.com/helen.yaffe.9/ and https://www.facebook.com/100007628650696/videos/pcb.2929945513936375/498584691215357

Yaffe is in Cuba now, and her Facebook page contains videos such as those at the second link above.

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/07/19/ending-forever-wars-must-include-economic-warfare/ – by Assal Rad

“In a rare tweet on foreign policy, President Biden stated, “We stand with the Cuban people,” and cited their “economic suffering.” The irony was not lost on many commentators who observed that only weeks earlier the United States rejected — for the 29th consecutive year — a United Nation’s resolution to end the decades-long U.S. embargo on Cuba that has cost the small-island nation an estimated $144 billion and hampered its ability to combat the pandemic. As the international community overwhelmingly voted to end the embargo in a vote of 184 to 2, only Israel joined the U.S. in support of continuing the now 60-year embargo. “Philip Brenner, one of the leading U.S. experts on Cuba, based at American University in Washington, DC, has been quoted extensively in the Spanish newspaper El Diario, as well as in the Spanish-language edition of the Los Angeles Times, but apparently not yet in English-language media included in Google News.

https://thegrio.com/2021/07/19/will-protests-lead-to-lasting-change-in-cuba/

A clear explainer in a 10-minute video with Dr. Danielle Clealand, University of Texas (Austin). Not the final word, but very useful. I am told by friends who know Cuba very well that her 2017 book on The Power of Race in Cuba is excellent.https://thegrio.com/2021/07/22/black-americans-haiti-cuba-opinion/ – by Blue Telusma,

“As a woman of Haitian and Cuban lineage living in the United States, this subject hits home in a very personal way. ”https://www.thenation.com/article/world/cuba-airstrikes/ – by Aída Chávez, July 20, 2021

The threat of U.S. military intervention.https://www.thedailybeast.com/its-time-for-biden-to-choose-between-starving-cubans-and-votes-in-florida by William LeoGrande, July 15, 2021

And back in March 2020, a dream that it might be better rather than worse

https://www.organizingupgrade.com/can-coronavirus-be-a-catalyst-for-thinking-globally/

– by William Minter and Imani Countess, March 25, 2020

“Don’t Be Afraid to Dream

To challenge a new Democratic administration and inspire progressive mobilization, we should advance not only practical policy goals but also new visions of mutual cooperation beyond those presently thinkable. One clear albeit difficult example is the case of Cuba, where U.S. policy has been paralyzed for decades by right-wing pressures.

A progressive agenda for U.S.-Cuban relations should begin with the reversal of new restrictive measures imposed by the Trump administration and progress toward full elimination of the trade embargo and travel restrictions that have defined U.S. policy for almost six decades.

A more ambitious goal would be to stress U.S. collaboration with Cuba in promoting global health, as happened in the case of Ebola in West Africa. The United States should be prepared to accept future Cuban offers of assistance with disaster relief and preparedness, an offer that the George W. Bush administration rejected in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. Most visionary, but also beneficial to both countries, would be for the United States to ask Cuba for technical assistance in developing equitable public health policies in this country—and to pay generously for such assistance. That could promote mutual understanding as well as begin to pay for repairing the damage done over many decades of U.S. intervention in Cuba.”

https://democracynow.cachefly.net/democracynow/360/dn2020-0324.mp4?start=2547.0&end=3237.0

https://www.democracynow.org/2020/3/24/cuba_medical_diplomacy_italy_coronavirus

https://www.aljazeera.com/videos/2020/3/22/cuban-doctors-head-to-italy-to-fight-coronavirus

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/world/cuban-doctors-nurses-arrive-in-italy-to-combat-coronavirus-outbreak/2020/03/23/22e75e15-9a16-4d5c-8cf7-e33b2d635407_video.html

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter. For an archive of previous Bulletins, see http://www.africafocus.org,

Current links to books on AfricaFocus go to the non-profit bookshop.org, which supports independent bookshores and also provides commissions to affiliates such as AfricaFocus.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. To subscribe to receive future bulletins by email, click here.

USA/Africa: Building Back Better? Or Not?
worker | July 28, 2021 | 7:53 pm | Africa | Comments closed

USA/Africa: Building Back Better? Or Not?

AfricaFocus Bulletin
July 27, 2021 (2021-07-27)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

Last week marked six months for the Biden administration and for the narrow Democratic majority in Congress. So it seems an appropriate time for a report card on U.S. Africa policy. And that also means a review of U.S. policies on today’s most pressing global issues, on which the negative effects fall disproportionately on Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin is my version of such a report card. It’s short, just pass/fail. It’s not an essay, nor is it an argument to persuade others that mine is correct.

Bottom line, there’s no doubt that Biden is doing better than Trump on almost all points, so that’s a clear pass. But there are also no signs of any intention to reexamine and question past U.S. policies, whether the time frame begins with the end of World War II, extends into the distant past, or focuses only on the post-Cold War period. Within the administration and Congress, there are only faint glimmers of questioning and review of the foreign policy record. So that’s a clear fail.

The most critical question is whether the United States can play a constructive and collaborative role in confronting today’s global crises that threaten planetary suicide. On that, the grade is clearly “incomplete.” It depends on many unknown factors, some of which can be addressed by human action and some of which may already be out of control.

This Bulletin is intended to serve as a resource for anyone who wants to make their own report card on U.S. Africa policy at this critical time for the United States, Africa, and the world. The short quotes and links provide background on the sources that informed my grading. Readers or others who want to contest the grades, including current policy makers, are welcome to send me by email other sources that support alternative views. I don’t guarantee an answer to all, but I will definitely read and think about them.

For a related Bulletin released today, focused particularly on the regressive and dangerous U.S. policy towards Cuba.visit http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/uscuba2107.php,

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on USA/Africa relations, visit http://www.africafocus.org/country/usa-africa.php

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AfricaFocus pause

For August and early September, AfricaFocus will be taking a break from regular publication for rest, reflection, and time with family and friends. However, you can expect to receive one or more messages, either sharing information or updating you on future plans. Later this week I hope to provide an update from another project that I have been working with, directed by my longtime colleague and friend Imani Countess. And at some point I will share my reflections about the future direction this Bulletin should take, with an editor approaching 79 years old and a world that is moving and changing faster than ever before.

Thanks, as always, to my readers for your support in many ways over the years.

Bill Minter, Editor, AfricaFocus Bulletin.

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Building Back Better? Or not?

US Africa Policy Report Card:
Six-Month Grades, Pass/Fail
Better than Trump Pass
Build back better Fail
Sufficient to stave off planetary suicide Incomplete

Background Resources

Beyond Eurocentrism and U.S. Exceptionalism: Starting Points for a Paradigm Shift
from Foreign Policy to Global Policy

by William Minter and Imani Countess

http://www.africafocus.org/usa-2020.php

About this series

Our goal in this writing project to not to lay out a comprehensive vision of U.S. foreign policy or of U.S. policy toward Africa. It is rather to suggest that the time is ripe for re-visioning how we think about the U.S. role in the world. Such rethinking is essential for any fundamental changes in policy on pressing global issues, on which Africa both suffers the greatest vulnerability and has significant potential for leading global rethinking about solutions.

1. Beyond Eurocentrism and U.S. Exceptionalism, January 27, 2020
2. The Green New Deal Can and Must Be Global, January 27, 2020
3. National and Global Inequality are Intertwined, February 24, 2020
4. Special Issue: Can Coronavirus Be a Catalyst for Thinking Globally?, March 25,2020
5. Contesting Health and Workers´ Rights, May 12, 2020
6. Special Issue: Racial Pandemic and Viral Pandemic, June 8, 2020
7. Divest from Violent Policing and Endless Wars, 1, August 24, 2020
8. Divest from Violent Policing and Endless Wars, 2, August 24, 2020
9. Special Issue: Overhauling U.S. Foreign Policy, September 22, 2020
10. Building back a better Africa policy should not mean going back to old ways, November 25, 2020

Articles in Responsible Statecraft

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/07/14/face-it-new-counter-terror-policy-in-africa-lacks-political-will-to-change-course/ – by Elizabeth Schmidt and William Minter

“Last month the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership Program Act of 2021” with strong bipartisan support. Current U.S. policies have been counterproductive and a new U.S. policy is desperately needed in Africa and elsewhere in the global south. However, the proposals outlined in this bill — while welcome — risk being nothing more than a change of sentiment.”https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/04/08/in-africa-an-acknowledgement-that-counterterrorism-has-failed/ – by William Minter and Elizabeth Schmidt

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/11/25/building-back-a-better-africa-should-not-mean-going-back-to-old-ways/ – by Imani Countess and William Minter

“The record of both Republican and Democratic administrations, over more than six decades, has been mixed, ranging from destructive interventions to neglect to — far less often — productive collaboration with Africans on common goals. If the Biden mantra of “Build Back Better” is to be applied to Africa, we need to think about new frameworks to guide policy rather than retreading the shibboleths of the past. “https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/10/24/overhauling-us-foreign-policy-the-bitter-fights-ahead/ – by William Minter and Imani Countess

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/08/30/divest-from-violent-policing-and-endless-wars-invest-instead-in-a-new-social-contract/ – by William Minter and Imani Countess

Background Pages and Essays for US-Africa Bridge Building Project

Sign up for updates from the project! Like the project on Facebook!*

* And invite your friends to like it! See these two short YouTube videos for how to do this on a computer and on a mobile device. Thanks to Sam Minter for helping out with these two videos.

https://www.us-africabridgebuilding.org/tax-justice/tax-justice/

Taxation is at the heart of our understanding of government. In a society ruled by a corrupt elite, taxation is seen as unjust, another way of siphoning wealth upward in an already unequal society. In a society in which the interests of the people are represented, however imperfectly, government is an essential tool for providing public goods. Taxation is the essential tool to provide resources to meet common needs such as education, health, public safety, protection of the rule of law, physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges, and more.Over the past four decades, right-wing ideologists preaching the gospel of an unhindered free market have dominated public discourse in Western countries and in the international economic institutions under their influence. Taxation for public health and other common goods has been portrayed as illegitimate interference with the preeminent right to private property.https://www.us-africabridgebuilding.org/transnational-solidarity/transnational-solidarity/

As the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis make clear, threats to our common welfare cannot be confined by borders and walls. Collaboration across borders is essential for us to cope with the damage done and build a safer future. No nation-state, however powerful, can achieve this by acting alone. Indeed, the failure to act together can only lead us into a downward cycle of destruction in which ultimately there are no winners.https://www.us-africabridgebuilding.org/essays/confronting-global-apartheid-demands-global-solidarity/
by Imani Countess and William Minter, April 2021

The term “apartheid” comes from South Africa, notorious in the 20th century as the last stronghold of white minority rule. Political apartheid in South Africa ended in 1994 with free elections open to South Africans of all races. But South Africa and the world are still embedded in an international system of inequality reflecting the history of European conquest and domination.In this system, wealth and power are still structured by race and place, both within and between nations. Whether or not one labels it global apartheid, there are striking parallels with South African apartheid.In July 2020, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in the annual Nelson Mandela lecture, addressed what he called the “inequality pandemic” and called the world to a “new social contract.” Such a contract, it is clear, will not happen quickly. But it will not happen at all unless millions around the world mobilize to make it happen.https://www.us-africabridgebuilding.org/essays/angela-davis-steve-biko-memorial/
April 2021
Steve Biko Memorial Lecture by Angela Davis, September 9, 2016

https://www.us-africabridgebuilding.org/essays/disinvestment-reinvestment/
by Donna Katzin, May 2021

In today’s global economy, the rallying cry “An injury to one is an injury to all” has become less a slogan than a statement of fact. Racism, poverty, climate change and pandemics know no borders.International solidarity activists who helped bring South Africa’s apartheid to its knees used multiple methods to exert economic pressure for peaceful change. These included familiar strategies of consumer boycotts and sanctions by governments. Particularly innovative and effective, however, were campaigns to pressure multinational corporations to withdraw their investments and sever economic ties to South Africa. These campaigns for disinvestment of resources, mobilizing massive support across the globe, set precedents and provide touchstones for today’s solidarity movements.https://www.us-africabridgebuilding.org/essays/redefining-the-possible/
May 2021
By Varshini Prakash | Sunrise Movement | 2020

https://www.us-africabridgebuilding.org/essays/african-young-women/
by Rosebell Kagumire, June 2021

Asking young women and queer Africans to put their own struggles aside, in deference to the argument that “national” liberation must come first, as our foremothers did again and again, is not acceptable. (see longer excerpt below).https://www.us-africabridgebuilding.org/essays/africa-feminist-charter/
June 2021
African Feminist Charter, 2006

The roots of U. S. Foreign Policy

There are many books to recommend but probably the most important is the eagerly awaited book by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Not a Nation of Immigrants. It is available for pre-order at Bookshop.org, and ships on August 24.

“While some of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants, others are descendants of white settlers who arrived as colonizers to displace those who were here since time immemorial, and still others are descendants of those who were kidnapped and forced here against their will.”No analysis of U.S. domestic or foreign policy will make sense unless there is an understanding of how they are intertwined and defined by a history of conquest, slavery, and imperial expansion.For more references on this history, see the two essays above on “Divest from Violent Policing and Endless Wars.”

U.S. policymakers should also watch Raoul Peck, HBO series, April 2021

I haven’t watched it yet (I’m not on HBO). But signing up just for this is on my must-do list.

https://www.hbo.com/exterminate-all-the-brutes

https://www.hbo.com/content/dam/hbodata/documentaries/exterminate-all-brutes/resources/eatb-syllabus-210412.pdf

Selected Background Readings on Global and African Issues

The effect of U.S. policies on Africa come primarily not from proactive engagement with specific African countries. The continent remains marginal to mainstream policy makers. And U.S. influence in any specific country is only one factor among many external influences. But U.S. global policy, extended to Africa, has enormous effects on the fate of Africa, which suffers the most from the inequality of the world system.

(1) U. S. Wars

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/04/08/in-africa-an-acknowledgement-that-counterterrorism-has-failed/ – by William Minter and Elizabeth Schmidt

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/08/30/divest-from-violent-policing-and-endless-wars-invest-instead-in-a-new-social-contract/ – by William Minter and Imani Countess

http://peacehistory-usfp.org/africa-wot/ – by Elizabeth Schmidt
“Africa and the War on Terror” (written for the general public and undergraduate student)

https://www.thenation.com/article/world/new-cold-war-china/
Dividing the World Into Opposing Camps Is the Road to Armageddon

Washington aims to recast NATO in the image of the US military, with its focus on “great power competition” and a renewed arms race with Russia and China.
by Michael Klare, June 25, 2021

“Ostensibly, the aim of all this summitry was to revitalize the Western alliance in the wake of all the damage wreaked by former president Donald Trump and to restore America’s status as the West’s leading champion. But what is this new chapter really about? The 79 points in the final communiqué make the intent clear: to recast NATO in the image of the US military, with its focus on “great power competition” and a renewed arms race with Russia and China. The vehicle for accomplishing this is the NATO 2030 agenda, a virtual facsimile of the Pentagon’s 2018 National Defense Strategy. Both call for the harnessing of advanced technologies to ensure combat superiority in every “domain” of warfare—land, air, sea, space, and cyber—and both focus on countering China’s geopolitical outreach in Asia and beyond.”

(2) Women’s Rights

https://www.us-africabridgebuilding.org/essays/africa-feminist-charter/

https://www.us-africabridgebuilding.org/essays/african-young-women/
Asking young women and queer Africans to put their own struggles aside, in deference to the argument that “national” liberation must come first, as our foremothers did again and again, is not acceptable.

Women were central to the movements for independence and everyday resistance to colonial rule. But often the movements themselves morphed into ruling political class hegemonies. While we have increased the number of women in parliaments in Africa to match the global average of 25%, actual power in government and society falls far short of that achievement. True liberation for women and minorities from shackles introduced by colonial subversion of gender remains elusive. From homes to bars to streets and workplaces, for all the strides made in “empowering women,” we have yet to truly see the liberation of women, in the sense of being able to walk this world free in their own skin and their own bodies – free from violence.

And often there’s an expectation that oppressed people, in this case, African young women and gender-diverse people, should be civil in demanding that their full humanity be recognized. We hear condescending phrases such as “you are asking for too much.”

But who defines what is “too much” for anyone’s freedom and existence? For Sheena Bageine and Stella Nyanzi here in Uganda, and young women and queer Africans resisting dehumanization around the continent, the response is to be “too much.” It is only when women are “too much” that new cracks in the wall of patriarchal dictatorships can emerge.

(3) Tax Justice

https://www.us-africabridgebuilding.org/tax-justice/movement/

https://twitter.com/gabriel_zucman/status/1417907044326068228

https://www.taxobservatory.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/EU-Tax-Observatory-Note-n.1-Substance-carve-outs.pdf

Minimizing the Minimum Tax

by Mona Baraké, Theresa Neef, Paul-Emmanuel Chouc, Gabriel Zucman

On July 1st 2021, 130 countries under the OECD and G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS agreed to promote a minimum tax of at least 15% on their multinationals’ profits. Having been joined by Peru and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines since then, 132 countries are now part of the joint statement. The joint statement includes a substance-based carve-out of 5% rate of return on the carrying value of tangible assets and payroll. In the first years of the implementation, the carve-out would be 7.5%.

Introducing carve-outs for substance raises two issues. First, it profoundly changes the nature and meaning of a global minimum tax and could exacerbate tax competition. Second, it would reduce the revenue potential from a minimum tax. . . .

Conceptually, a minimum tax with no substance carve-out means that some tax rates are considered too low by the international community. An agreement on such a minimum tax would be a landmark because it would be the first time that limits are put to international tax competition. A minimum tax with carve-outs, by contrast, reflects a different perspective. With such a tax, a company that owns €1 billion in assets in a country with a 0% corporate tax rate, and makes €50 million in profit there, would still be subject to no tax at all. In other words, no tax rate is considered too low. . . .

Worse, it gives firms incentives to move capital and employment to places where tax rates are very low. The members of the OECD Inclusive Framework and the OECD need to be very clear: do they want to restrict tax competition? Or is any tax rate — even 0% — acceptable? Is the goal of the Inclusive Framework to stop the race to the bottom? Or is it merely to limit profit shifting to countries where no real activity takes place?

(4) Climate Crisis

#Film4Climate 1st Prize Short Film Winner – “Three Seconds” from Connect4Climate on Vimeo.

http://www.africafocus.org/intro-env.php

https://eand.co/this-isnt-a-heatwave-it-s-a-dying-planet-ac1c9eb529d1

https://eand.co/america-will-be-remembered-as-the-country-that-killed-the-planet-d1e6d4fe2564

(5) Covid-19

http://www.africafocus.org/intro-health.php

https://blogs.imf.org/2021/06/28/sub-saharan-africa-we-need-to-act-now/

by Kristalina Georgieva and Abebe Aemro Selassie

“Sub-Saharan Africa is in the grips of a third wave of COVID-19 infections that threatens to be even more brutal than the two that came before.

This is yet more evidence of a dangerous divergence in the global economy. One track for countries with good access to vaccines, where strong recoveries are taking hold. And another for those countries that are still waiting and at risk of falling further behind.

The growth of infections in sub-Saharan Africa is now the fastest in the world, with an explosive trajectory that is outpacing the record set in the second wave. At this pace, this new wave will likely surpass previous peaks in a matter of days—and in some countries, infections are already more than double, or even triple, their January peaks. The latest (delta) variant—reportedly 60 percent more transmissible than earlier variants—has been detected in 14 countries.”

(6) Democracy and Human Rights

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/07/19/bidens-summit-for-democracy-must-put-pressure-on-forever-presidents/

The US must stop supporting ‘forever presidents’ in Africa

Despite aid and other commitments, democracy is backsliding among some key US-partners.

by Philip Oke-Thomas, July 19, 2021

Although a signatory to human rights treaties on the universal right to health, in practice the United States opposes implementation of these rights, both at home and its international policies. See https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/human-rights-and-health and https://www.ohchr.org/documents/publications/factsheet31.pdf

Background Readings on Regional and Country Issues

It is more and more difficult to keep up on the many crises around the world, including in Africa

Any of these would provide ample material for an AfricaFocus Bulletin. But each takes time to do. I did two on Mozambique in May. In lieu of more Bulletins than I can possibly find time to prepare, I provide below just a few background sources.

(1) Mozambique – AfricaFocus

http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/moz2105a.php

http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/moz2105b.php

(2) Ethiopia

http://www.africafocus.org/country/ethiopia.php

https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v43/n12/alex-de-waal/steal-burn-rape-kill

A comprehensive analysis of the war and famine, up-to-date as of mid-June, 2021, by a leading scholar and activist with deep experience on the region and on famine.

(3) South Africa

https://martinplaut.com/2021/07/23/if-you-read-just-one-analysis-of-the-zuma-riots-that-tore-south-africa-apart-read-this/

http://www.africafocus.org/country/southafrica.php

For in depth background on the history of U.S. policies towards Southern Africa, see my 1986 book King Solomon’s Mines Revisited, now available as a PDF download worldwide on the online bookstore http://Lulu.com.

This essay, by Sylvia Hill and William Minter, focuses more specifically on the United States and South Africa.
http://noeasyvictories.org/research/sadet_usa.pdf

Biko

 

Biko | Peter Gabriel | Playing For Change | Song Around The World

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(4) eSwatini (Swaziland)

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/africa-s-last-absolute-monarchy-is-shaken-as-protestors-defy-eswatini-s-king/ar-AAMzGE8 – July 26, 2021

https://allafrica.com/view/group/main/main/id/00078657.html – July 6, 2021

The eSwatini army has taken full charge after mass pro-democracy protests left many people dead, according to a Human Rights Watch official. Dewa Mavhinga, director for Southern Africa, added that reports received by the organisation were that the Army were on a ‘killing spree’. He said police in Swaziland had reported that the Army had refused to have joint operations so military deployment was not under civilian authority or oversight. Mavhinga reported: “From a police source, the army is now fully in charge for real .. not even the police knows what the army is doing now.”

Regional ministers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) went to eSwatini to try and defuse the crisis there, but left without having properly engaged the opposition.

Demonstrations against the authoritarian monarchy escalated following the shooting of a student in mid-May. Swazi Media Commentary reported that marches took place in at least 10 places, mainly in rural areas despite a ban placed by the king on pro-democracy demonstrations. Reports indicated that as many as 19 people had been shot dead, allegedly by the military.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/africa-s-last-absolute-monarchy-is-shaken-as-protestors-defy-eswatini-s-king/ar-AAMzGE

http://www.africafocus.org/country/swaziland.php

(5) Rwanda

“Rethinking the Rwandan Narrative for the 25th Anniversary,” bu

Gerald Caplan. By far the best summary and analysis of a very complex debate, as of 2018.

https://utpjournals.press/doi/10.3138/gsi.12.2.03

http://www.africafocus.org/country/rwanda.php

The Path to Genocide in Rwanda by Omar Shahabudin McDoom, 2021
First chapter available for free
https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/path-to-genocide-in-rwanda/what-we-do-and-do-not-know/F1212A3CE78312EB02E240F1808BC797
Full book available for $99 at https://bookshop.org/a/709/9781108491464

Defining U.S. values

 

‘What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?’: Descendants Read Frederick Douglass’ Speech | NPR

1,277,950 views

See also, by James Earl Jones
https://www.democracynow.org/2021/7/5/james_earl_jones_frederick_douglass_july4

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter. For an archive of previous Bulletins, see http://www.africafocus.org,

Current links to books on AfricaFocus go to the non-profit bookshop.org, which supports independent bookshores and also provides commissions to affiliates such as AfricaFocus.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. To subscribe to receive future bulletins by email, click here.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter. For an archive of previous Bulletins, see http://www.africafocus.org,

Current links to books on AfricaFocus go to the non-profit bookshop.org, which supports independent bookshores and also provides commissions to affiliates such as AfricaFocus.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. To subscribe to receive future bulletins by email, click here.

More International Voices Opposing US Politicising Virus Origins Probe
worker | July 27, 2021 | 8:18 am | COVID-19 | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/world/202107271083469485-more-international-voices-opposing-us-politicising-virus-origins-probe/

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An online petition calling for an investigation of the Fort Detrick lab garners 13 mln signatures.

Politicians, media outlets and experts from more countries are choosing to stand against the US’ politicisation of the coronavirus origins probe and slammed the country’s refusal to open Fort Detrick lab to an investigation. Analysts expected more countries and people to follow suit, as they see the US selfish deeds of putting politics over science as hobbling international efforts to tackle the COVID-19 surge.

At a Monday briefing, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave multiple examples of foreign media and experts lashing out at the US for putting politics over science, including Hamdan Shakeel, senior editor of Maldives News Network, who published an article last week suggesting that Western countries are politicising the search for the source of the coronavirus, which means it is distorting facts and imposing responsibility on China.

The spokesperson revealed that the world has seen through the US’ attempt to shift attention away from its bungled approach to COVID-19 and blame China, and urged the US to invite WHO experts to probe the Fort Detrick biolab and “give the world the truth.”

More rational voices criticizing US attitude on COVID-19 origins tracing investigation emerged in the international community recently. Anil Sooklal, a deputy director-general at South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, told the Xinhua News Agency earlier this month that countries must refrain from using the tracing of the origins of COVID-19 to score cheap political points.

“What is important is that COVID-19 should not be used for political point scoring exercises, which is what is happening at the present time,” said the official, while applauding China’s cooperation in tracing the origins of COVID-19.

Herman Tiu Laurel, a columnist, proposed on Philippine media outlet Sovereign PH on Friday an online petition to be signed by netizens for the WHO to look into the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick.

“While China has shown it has nothing to hide by opening the city of Wuhan, its suspected market epicentre, and its virology institute to the WHO international team, the US is not only uninviting but is aggressively applying ‘weapons of mass distraction’ and smoke-screening Fort Detrick from questions by steering attention back to China with the false narrative of a ‘Wuhan lab-leak’ conspiracy theory,” the columnist added.

Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, also wrote on Thursday an article in which he urged international cooperation to deal with the pandemic, instead of blaming or acquitting some countries.

With many parts of the world overwhelmed by the COVID-19 surge, the US’ politicisation of virus origins tracing has seriously hobbled scientific research on this issue, which is why countries still ravaged by the pandemic have vented their anger against the politicisation of the probe, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.

He said that more countries and more scientists will stand up and voice their indignation if Washington continues to play the blame game on the coronavirus origins probe and keep Fort Detrick biolab shrouded in secrecy.

A source close to the China-WHO joint expert team told the Global Times that the trend of politics leading science is “unlikely to result in useful results. It will also significantly delay the next steps, making tracing even more difficult.” He said that eventually everyone stands to lose because of politicisation of this issue.

To date, nearly 60 countries have sent letters to the WHO, agreeing with the results of the first phase of origin-tracing research and opposing the attempt to politicise the study of the origins, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday while meeting the press with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.

The coronavirus needs origin-tracing, and so does the political virus, said Wang.

“Yet the US, long being obsessed with hegemony, and the one that has forced international organizations to probe others, is unlikely to change its attitude because of the international petition,” said Li, noting that the US refusal to subject itself to a WHO virus origins probe exposes its hypocrisy and condescension.

Standing Up For Truth

Before the international community began opposing the politicisation of the virus origins investigation, Chinese people have taken actions to have their voices heard.

An online petition demanding that the WHO investigate the Fort Detrick lab launched on July 17 has garnered 13 million signatures among Chinese netizens as of press time.

However, the petition was attacked by multiple US IP addresses Saturday night as the number of signatures approached 10 million. Responding to the cyberattack, Zhao Lijian said that the US owes Chinese netizens an explanation on why it remains silent on opening the Fort Detrick lab for investigation and why it launched a cyberattack against the online petition.

The US is ignoring a request from 13 million Chinese people, and deliberately dodging questions on the Fort Detrick lab, Zhao remarked. “The US presents itself as ‘transparent,’ where is your transparency now?” 

About a week ago, the US together with its allies accused China of launching large-scale cyberattacks against Western countries. But the cyberattack from the US on the petition has exposed its double standards on the issue of cybersecurity and exposed the US as a threat to cybersecurity, Zhao continued.

Chinese observers said the strong appeal shows that Chinese people will not stop questioning the American lab until the US gives a reasonable explanation, and they also urged the WHO to truly play its coordinating role based on science and objectivity rather than becoming a political tool of the US.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, outlined a plan recently for a second investigation in China of the origins of coronavirus, including a proposal for “audits of relevant laboratories and research institutions operating in the area of the initial human cases identified in December 2019.” The proposal was rejected by Zeng Yixin, China’s vice minister of the National Health Commission, saying it “disregards common sense and defies science.”

The recent steps Tedros has taken are likely to lead to months being lost in the scientific study to understand the origins of coronavirus, said the anonymous source, noting that it seems political agendas have been put at a higher priority than science.

Lei Ruipeng, an expert at the School of Philosophy and Center for Bioethics at the Wuhan-based Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and a member of the WHO Ethics and COVID-19 Working Group told the Global Times that virus origins tracing is complex work that requires international cooperation. China has taken the lead and opened the country for a WHO investigation. It would be unfair and unjust to only focus on China while other countries, such as the US and Italy where the epidemic is severe and suspicious cases had been reported before the pandemic emerged, still refused to cooperate.

Lei said that the WHO second-stage plan has deviated from the roadmap and distorted the key point of the virus origins tracing work by politicising the issue.

This article was originally published by the Global Times. 

Cuba accuses US government of inciting Molotov cocktail attack on its embassy in Paris
worker | July 27, 2021 | 8:16 am | Cuba, Fascist terrorism | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/news/530323-cuba-french-embassy-attack/

Cuba accuses US government of inciting Molotov cocktail attack on its embassy in Paris

Cuba accuses US government of inciting Molotov cocktail attack on its embassy in Paris
The Cuban Embassy in Paris was firebombed early Tuesday morning. The socialist country’s foreign minister accused the US of encouraging violence against Havana.

Two assailants hurled three Molotov cocktails at the diplomatic compound, causing some damage to the building, the Cuban mission said in a statement on its website. The diplomats were not injured.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez denounced the “terrorist attack” and blamed Washington. “I hold the US government responsible for its continued campaigns against our country that encourage this behavior and for its calls for violence, with impunity, from its territory,” he tweeted.

The US backed this month’s historic anti-government protests on the island and imposed new sanctions on Havana over its crackdown on activists. “We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom,” President Joe Biden said in a statement on July 12.

Biden’s hardline approach leaves little room for any potential easing of the embargo, which is taking a toll on Cuba’s economy.

During the largest demonstrations Cuba has seen in decades, people rallied against economic hardship, food and medicine shortages, blackouts, and the current political system. Protests were reported in more than 40 cities, including Havana, and were countered by pro-government rallies.

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Beginning’ of the end? Biden warns Cuba of looming torrent of sanctionsDemonstrations were also held in the US, Argentina, Brazil, and other places abroad. In Spain’s capital, Madrid, protesters marched condemning the Cuban government on Monday, and a rally in support of the authorities took place the next day.

Officials in Cuba made some economic concessions after the protests, but also accused the US and domestic dissidents of using economic problems to stir unrest through social media. President Miguel Diaz-Canel accused the media of spreading lies about the nature and scope of the protests.

Washington broke off diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1960, shortly after revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro overthrew the government, and imposed an embargo in 1962.

An American embassy in Havana was reopened in 2015 during the Obama administration, in which Biden served as vice president, which sought rapprochement with Cuba. The policies were completely reversed under Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, and the situation remained unchanged after Biden replaced Trump.

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Cuba’s Embassy in Paris Attacked With Molotov Cocktails – Photos
worker | July 27, 2021 | 8:14 am | Cuba, Fascist terrorism | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/europe/202107271083468876-cubas-embassy-in-paris-attacked-with-molotov-cocktails—photos/

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It’s unclear as to who might be behind the attack on Cuba’s diplomatic mission in the French capital. Cuba’s foreign minister, meanwhile, accused the United States of encouraging violence against the island nation.

The Cuban Embassy in Paris said that its building in the French capital had been attacked with Molotov cocktails on the night of 26-27 July.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez dubbed the incident as a “terrorist attack” and said that he holds the US government responsible for “its continuous campaigns against our country that encourage these behaviours and for calls for violence, with impunity, from its territory”.

The embassy added that none of its diplomatic staff had been injured during the overnight attack, but significant damage had been caused.

The Foreign Ministry of Cuba published photos on its official Twitter account of the damage done to the building, while denouncing the attack.

The country’s Foreign Ministry’s International Press Centre stated that the attack happened at around midnight. Three Molotov cocktails were thrown, with two hitting the embassy and setting a fire, the Centre said. Cuban diplomats extinguished the blaze as French firefighters and police arrived at the scene, it added. The attack was perpetrated by two individuals, according to the officials.

Earlier in July, the US imposed sanctions on Cuba’s minister of revolutionary armed forces and the interior ministry’s special brigade over the alleged crackdown on the protests. President Joe Biden said the US will continue to hold Havana responsible and the latest round of sanctions is “just the beginning”. POTUS had previously announced other restrictive measures, including banning US citizens from sending money to relatives in Cuba.

​Meanwhile, Cuba has seen the largest protests in the island nation since 1994, sparked by anger over shortages of food, medicine and other basic necessities. More than 100 demonstrators have been arrested and one individual reportedly died. US President Biden, despite Cuba’s dire economic situation, has so far refused to remove any sanctions that were imposed by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump.

Who’s Afraid of Fort Detrick Probe?
worker | July 27, 2021 | 8:12 am | COVID-19, Fort Detrick | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202107261083464841-whos-afraid-of-fort-detrick-probe/

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An international online petition calling for an investigation into a US military laboratory and the possible origin of Covid-19 was hacked at the weekend. The hackers were reportedly based in the US.

Fort Detrick in Maryland is the center of American biowarfare research. It is just one of the hundreds of such infectious disease laboratories located across the United States. During the Cold War, Fort Detrick was the main site for experimenting with lethal pathogens, including viruses causing deadly influenza.

In 2001, when a disgruntled researcher is believed to have killed five people by mailing deadly anthrax spores it was Fort Detrick that was the origin of the lethal material.

 

However, the network of secretive US biowarfare laboratories is also infamous for safety violations and accidents. In August 2019, Fort Detrick was shut down abruptly for several months when its wastewater decontamination process failed.It is not unreasonable to call for an investigation into the practices and records at the Maryland center to ascertain if it had any connection to the Covid-19 pandemic which has so far killed over four million people worldwide and more than 600,000 in the United States alone.

Of course, American politicians and media dismiss the appeal as “disinformation” put out by Russia and China. Americans have accused China of being the origin of the pandemic after the first cases of Covid-19 were detected in the city of Wuhan at the end of 2019. More sinisterly, the Wuhan virology institute has been fingered as the source of the virus even though an international survey by the World Health Organization concluded such a release was “extremely unlikely”.

Scientific consensus contends that the virus evolved naturally and was most likely transmitted to humans from animals.

US President Joe Biden has given credibility to the conspiracy theory unleashed by his predecessor Donald Trump that the Wuhan laboratory was the origin of the Covid-19 virus. Biden has tasked his intelligence agencies to look into the claims. They are due to report back on their findings next month. Washington berates China for not being transparent about its laboratory and is demanding that Beijing open up its facility for inspection. The Americans claim China was not fully open with WHO investigators who cleared the lab as not being the origin of the virus.

But two can play that game. If the Americans accuse China and demand an investigation into secret laboratories then why can’t China level the same at the US?

It is still not known where the Covid-19 pandemic originated. It may take years to determine that. But what is certainly hindering an answer is the politicization of the disease. Washington is using it to smear China while hypocritically suppressing any questions about its own conduct.

FILE - In this March 19, 2020, file photo laboratory scientist Andrea Luquette cultures coronavirus to prepare for testing at U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., where scientists are working to help develop solutions to prevent, detect and treat the coronavirus
© AP PHOTO / ANDREW HARNIK
FILE – In this March 19, 2020, file photo laboratory scientist Andrea Luquette cultures coronavirus to prepare for testing at U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., where scientists are working to help develop solutions to prevent, detect and treat the coronavirus

The early cases of Covid-19 were detected in Wuhan. But who is to say that cases may have existed elsewhere but were simply not detected and reported in other countries? The US had an unprecedented surge in influenza deaths in 2019 before the Wuhan cases. Were some of these misdiagnosed as flu instead of Covid-19?

Fort Detrick has a notorious history of safety failures. It works on a wide range of biowarfare pathogens with little public oversight. And it was shut down in mid-2019 for reasons that are not clear to the public.

It is therefore reasonable for China to demand a probe into the American facility. This is not just a matter of “counter-propaganda” to turn the tables over American speculation about the Wuhan institute. There are empirical grounds for suspecting Fort Detrick as possibly having a role in the origin of the pandemic.

An online petition was started in China earlier this month demanding the WHO launch an investigation into Fort Detrick. It had gathered over 10 million signatures when the online site was hacked into at the weekend. Apparently, the petition was defended by its cybersecurity system and continues to operate.

According to Chinese reports the hackers were identified as having computer server addresses located in the US. If that is confirmed then the suspicions around the murky practices of Fort Detrick become more acute. It looks like the Americans are afraid to permit a probe into the site, even though they make high-handed accusations and demands on China over tenuous claims about Wuhan.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.