>Latin America File: Sandinistas, opposition hold counter-demos, 1 killed; Chavez backs "ex"-Marxist guerrilla as Brazil’s next president

>On Saturday, according to Voice of America, at least 40,000 anti-government demonstrators rallied in one district of Managua, denouncing President Daniel Ortega’s perceived attempt to set up another dictatorship, like the one over which he presided in the 1980s. In another part of the capital, according to Managua’s La Primerísima Radio, 350,000 cadres and supporters of the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) held a separate rally to express their devotion to Ortega.

Nicaraguan police beefed up security, but there were no reports of clashes between the two groups in the national capital. However, in the northern city of Ciudad Dario Sandinista supporter Rafael Anibal Luna Ruiz, a 42-year-old mechanic, died from wounds suffered when he was hit with stones thrown supporters of the main opposition Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC). This weekend’s solitary political death in Nicaragua follows at least one week of intense unrest.

Last Tuesday hundreds of Sandinista Youth lobbed homemade bombs at the Nicaraguan Congress building to protest the opposition’s plan to cut university funding. The explosives shattered some windows and skylights, showering shards of glass upon the heads of legislators, but injuring no one. PLC lawmaker Francisco Aguirre warned: “If the mortars had been used in a street demonstration, they certainly could kill a person.” Meanwhile, other masked “students” blocked streets in downtown Managua, firing mortars and stopping cars to demand that motorists produce identification. Police, according to Nicaragua’s Channel 10 TV news, were nowhere to be seen.

National Assembly Secretary Wilfredo Navarro told The Nica Times: “Luckily the big pieces of glass fell where there weren’t any people, because it could have killed someone. Each day these mortars are getting stronger and stronger with a longer range – and we all know it’s the Sandinistas who are sponsoring this.” Despite being classified as a weapon under Nicaraguan law, the use of mortars, according to the Sandinistas, is a “popular form of expression.” The Nicaraguan National Police, the Costa Rican news source linked above reports, have yet to confiscate any weapons or arrest anyone for firing the mortars in more than a year of nearly continuous Sandinista protests. “The Sandinistas are trying to create chaos and crisis,” decried Navarro, adding: “This is all part of their strategy to scare people so they won’t take to the streets during the protest march on Nov. 21.”

Since November 2008, when the FSLN fraudulently stole most of the country’s mayoral posts in hotly contested elections, Nicaragua has experienced some of its worse political violence since the Sandinista-Contra civil war. In response, the USA and European Union suspended financial aid to the impoverished Central American country, which now relies heavily on under-the-table handouts from Venezuela’s cash-flush red dictator Hugo Chavez. Last month a Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for Ortega to seek re-election in 2011 fanned the flames of political unrest in Nicaragua even more.

Last week Sandinista union leader Gustavo Porras cynically affirmed: “Everybody has the right to demonstrate, as long as it is clear that the opposition’s will be a march of thieves and corrupt people.” Speaking to the AFP news agency, Pro-Nicaragua Movement official Violeta Granera retorted:

Porras’ provocative comments are meant to intimidate anti-government demonstrators. Bus and truck drivers have been warned not to ferry people to the protest march. The government thinks it not only owns the streets but the whole country. We’re going to march, which will be orderly and peaceful. We won’t allow ourselves to fall into violence because we’re not only after ending the dictatorship and rescue democracy, but also breaking the vicious circle of violence.

Brazilian Communists Move Ahead with Second Stage of Revolution as Chavez Backs Lula’s Anointed Successor for President

Pictured here: Chavez and Rousseff looking as though they’re ready to smooch. Place and time of photo unknown.

Meanwhile, South America’s red tyrant is openly backing Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s anointed successor as head of the ruling Workers’ Party, former Marxist guerrilla, professional economist, and presently Lula’s chief of staff, 62-year-old Dilma Rousseff. At the fifth annual International Book Fair in Caracas, Chavez was quoted as saying: “It’s good for us to say this name, repeat it, and promote here Brazilian Minister Dilma Rousseff as the new president of Brazil. Dilma, Dilma, Dilma. We will get to know her. She was a prisoner of the rightwing dictatorship and tortured. She was a member of the revolutionary left wing in the sixties.” Rousseff’s main rival for the 2010 general elections is São Paulo governor José Serra of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party. According to a recent poll by the Sensus Institute, Dilma has the preference of 24% of Brazilian voters against 40% for Serra.

Rousseff’s pedigree and political career, as Chavez himself acknowledged, are solidly communist in their orientation, perhaps more so even than her boss, President Lula, a former labor union president. Born to an upper middle class household in 1947, Dilma’s father was Bulgarian Brazilian lawyer Pétar Russév, or Pedro Rousseff. Pétar/Pedro was an active member of the Bulgarian Communist Party after the First World War, but fled from Bulgaria in 1929 due to political persecution. Until the end of the Second World War he lived in France and, then, after the war arrived in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where he became an entrepreneur.

In 1965 Pedro’s daughter Dilma, then 18 years old, entered Central State High School, a co-educational public school where students agitated against the new military-backed government. Radicalized during her stint at this institution, in 1967 Dilma joined the Worker’s Politics (POLOP), an organization founded in 1961 as a faction of the Brazilian Socialist Party. Dilma was then recruited into an offshoot of POLOP that advocated armed insurrection, National Liberation Command (COLINA). Apolo Heringer commanded COLINA at this time and previously taught Marxism to Dilma in high school. During this period Dilma also met her future first husband, ex-soldier Cláudio Galeno Linhares, five years her senior, who also supported the armed struggle. Dilma and Cláudio married in 1968.

Dilma did not reportedly participate in any of the armed efforts of COLINA but, rather, was known for her public activities as a teacher of Marxism to labour union members and editor of the newspaper The Piquet. Nevertheless, she learned how to handle weapons and confront police.

In 1969 Charles Franklin Paixão de Araujo, a lawyer and cadre of the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB), broached the idea of merging his faction of the PCB with COLINA and the Popular Revolutionary Vanguard. Dilma, who developed a crush on Araujo, attended some of the meetings that led to the merger of these three terrorist groups as the Revolutionary Armed Vanguard Palmares (VAR Palmares). Araujo became one of the six leaders of VAR Palmares, which claimed to be a “political-military organization of Marxist-Leninist partisan orientation, which aims to fulfill the tasks of the revolutionary war and the establishment of the working class party, in order to seize power and build socialism.”

However, Maurício Lopes Lima, a former agent of Brazilian military intelligence, alleges that Dilma herself was the main leader of VAR Palmares. According to Lima, he received reports defining her as “one of the brains” behind the terrorist organization. Police commissioner Newton Fernandes, who investigated the VAR Palmares cell in São Paulo, asserted that Dilma was “one of the head masters of the revolutionary schemes.” The attorney who prosecuted the organization labeled her as the “Joan of Arc of subversion,” alleging that she “led strikes and advised bank robberies.”

The Brazilian Army captured Dilma in 1970 after VAR Palmares carried out one of its most daring feats, the theft of a safe containing US$2.5 million and belonging to the former governor of São Paulo, Ademar de Barros. Dilma alleges that she was repeatedly tortured while imprisoned until 1973. In 1977 she graduated from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul with a degree in economics. Her academic credentials are the subject of controversy since her official biography lists master’s and doctoral degrees she never earned. In the late 1970s Dilma remarried, this time to fellow militant Araujo, and settled in Rio Grande do Sul, where they had a daughter. Dilma later divorced Araujo too.

In December 2006 the Special Commission for Reparation of the Human Rights Office of the State of Rio de Janeiro approved Dilma’s request for indemnification, or immunity from prosecution. This is a telling development that suggests that formal charges of insurrection applied against her by the Brazilian government in the 1970s may be true.

In 1981 Rousseff left her guerrilla past to take part in the restructuring of the Brazilian Labour Party. This entity was founded by social democratic President João Goulart, who was overthrown in 1964 by the military government that she and her comrades opposed. Following a merger with another party, the Brazilian Labour Party was rebranded as the Democratic Labour Party (PDT).

The PDT won the 1990 gubernatorial election in Rio Grande do Sul. Rousseff was appointed Secretary of Energy by Governor Alceu Collares. She remained in that post until Collares’ term ended in 1995. In 1998 Olívio Dutra, gubernatorial candidate from the Workers’ Party, won the state election with the support of the PDT. Rousseff was once again appointed head of the Energy Bureau. In 1999 the head of the PDT left the state government and demanded the same from its members. Accordingly, Rousseff left the party and joined Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party to remain serving as the Secretary of Energy.

In January 2003 President Lula da Silva appointed Rousseff as Energy Minister. In June 2005 Dilma became chief of Lula’s presidential staff. As a former Energy Minister, Rousseff is also chairwoman of the board of directors of state oil company Petrobras. If the Brazilian electorate decides to hand the Workers’ Party and its allies in the Communist Party of Brazil another mandate next year, then a “former” Marxist guerrilla will be that country’s next chief executive.

In a not-too-surprising move, Brazil’s current president, whose embassy in Tegucigalpa has harbored deposed counterpart Manuel Zelaya since September 21, has joined Argentine President Cristina Kirchner in rejecting the results of the Honduran general election slated for November 29. Following a meeting of the two center-left presidents in Brasilia, Lula da Silva declared: “We demand the immediate restitution of president Manuel Zelaya. On the contrary, the elections to be held on Nov. 29 will not be recognized and a very dangerous precedent will be set. This is the common position of all Latin American and Caribbean countries.”

Actually, Lula da Silva’s characterization of Latin American unity with respect to ending the Honduran crisis is not quite true. The government of Colombia has affirmed the legitimacy of Roberto Micheletti’s presidency by ordering its ambassador back to Tegucigalpa earlier this month.

Ecuador and Colombia Restore Low-Level Diplomatic Relations as Correa’s Air Force Test-Flies Fighter Jets Donated by Venezuela

Finally, even as Venezuela and Colombia teeter on the verge of war, Venezuela’s close ally in the regional Red Axis, Ecuador, has committed itself to restoring diplomatic relations with Bogota. These were severed after the March 2008 Andean Crisis, which also brought the three countries to the brink of a hot war after Colombian troops stormed a Marxist guerrilla jungle camp in Ecuador. Bogota and Quito will exchange low-level representatives and reactivate a bilateral committee that oversees border security but which was shut down four months before the raid.

Coincidentally, Ecuador currently holds the rotating presidency of the Union of South American Nations, which includes the South American Defense Council. The latter, as we previously reported, will hold an emergency session in Quito this Friday to try to resolve the dispute between Caracas and Bogota over the planned deployment of US counter-narcotics troops across seven Colombian military bases.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa’s commitment to normalizing relations with Bogota is suspect, however, in view of the six Mirage-50 fighter jets that he has accepted from Chavez. Venezuelan Air Force pilots flew three of these French-built supersonic combat aircraft to Ecuador via Panamanian airspace in October. The Ecuadorean Air Force expects that these aircraft will enter service by January 2010. In December Venezuelan military pilots will fly three more such aircraft to Ecuador. With these additions to his military, Correa, a slavish devotee of Chavez, could conceivably open a southern front should Venezuelan and Colombian forces come to blows. On November 23 Correa inaugurated two new military outposts on the Ecuadorean-Colombian border.

One response to “>Latin America File: Sandinistas, opposition hold counter-demos, 1 killed; Chavez backs "ex"-Marxist guerrilla as Brazil’s next president

  1. mah29001 November 25, 2009 at 12:43 am

    >Isn't that not a big surprise? Brazil's own neo-Communist leader is happily choosing his successor. Kind of like how Comrade Puppet Medvedev was chosen.

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