Monthly Archives: September 2011

Final Phase Backgrounder: Russia approaches elections as Putin and Medvedev attend United Russia congress, announce post-swapping deal that could put KGB dictator back into presidency until 2020; comments from Gorbachev, Zyuganov signal ongoing reality of Soviet strategic deception

– Finance Minister Kudrin Rejects Participation in Future Russian Government, Laments President Medvedev’s Heavy Allocation of Funds toward Military

– Chairman Zyuganov Demands Nationalization (Communization) of Russian Industries, Restoration of Soviet Union, “Liquidation” of “Imperialist” NATO, Calls “Post”-Soviet Politics in Russia a “20-Year Experiment”

– Gorbachev Candidly Revealed Soviet Strategic Deception in 1987 Manifesto, Maintains Current Kremlin Leaders Still Implementing “Perestroika” (Socialist Restructuring), Implying Continuity between Soviet and “Post”-Communist Russia

 – Kremlin-Founded Polling Firm Surveys Russians’ Views of Perestroika in 2010, Gorbachev Reviews Effects of Reforms 25 Years after Initial Implementation, Offers Praise and Criticism

This past Saturday, Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin–who belongs to the “St. Petersburg clan,” the cabal of yes-men clustered around Prime Minister Vladimir Putin– announced that he will not join the new government formed after the upcoming State Duma and presidential elections. These will take place on December 4 and March x, respectively.

Kudrin is credited with repeatedly “cushioning” Russia from collapsing oil prices, on which that country’s economy is heavily dependent, and helping the country to weather the 2008 global banking collapse. Speaking with journalists on the sidelines of a joint meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, Kudrin said:

 I do not see myself in the new government. It is not just that I have not been offered the job, but I think that those differences of opinion that I have, they do not allow me to join this government. I have differences with Medvedev on economic policy, they basically have to do with considerable spending on military goals.

Kudrin elaborated that President Dmitry Medvedev, a graduate of the Soviet Komsomol, had approved an increase in military spending amounting to US$65 billion, or three percent of Russia’s gross domestic product:

This is the 2011 level of financing for the whole education system, including all universities, idle schools, and specialized education establishments. That is in three years we will pay the same sum for military spending that we pay for all education.

I am sorry, that these questions were not sufficiently discussed at the convention of United Russia. The serious sums which are being spent on military aims mark a turning point in the budgetary policy of the country.

Kudrin’s comments expose an internal conflict that has been “kept under wraps” while KGB dictator Putin and his lapdog Medvedev ironed out the wrinkles in a reshuffle at the top of the government. The latest version of “musical political posts” in Moscow, announced at the United Russia congress this weekend, essentially reverses an agreement formulated in 2008, when Putin left the presidency for the premiership of Russia, while Medvedev transferred from his role as Gazprom CEO to that that of premier. “Ex”-communist Putin was first elected president in 2000, after briefly holding the post of prime minister, a position to which he was appointed in 1999 by President Boris Yeltsin.

The delay in announcing Putin’s or Medvedev’s presidential bid in 2012 not only provoked considerable speculation among Kremlin watchers worldwide, but also spurred US$31.2 billion in capital flight from Russia in the first half of this year. The IMF, which last week chopped its forecasts for Russia’s economic growth in 2011 and 2012, said “the lack of clarity before the presidential election was a drag on foreign investment.” On September 20, Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Klepach acknowledged that in August alone capital flight exceeded US$1 billion.

Whether the post-swapping deal between Putin and Medvedev will bolster the sagging popularity of Russia’s potemkin “party of power,” United Russia, which slipped from 53 percent in early 2010 to 43 percent in April of this year, or reverse the diminishing personal approval rating of Putin, which fell from 69 percent in January 2010 to 43 percent this past spring remains to be seen. Popular support for Medvedev fell from 62 percent to 46 percent over the same period. “The decrease in the ratings is mainly due to economic problems, with the government still unable to overcome the effects of the recent recession,” Lyudmila Sergeyeva, an analyst at the independent Levada Center polling firm, commented at the time.

To this day, Western “expertdom”— functionaries, ivory-tower academics, posturing politicians, Hollywood rabblerousers, and assorted “fellow travelers”—has not considered the possibility that the collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago, while reflecting real problems in that country’s command economy, was stage managed and part of a long-range strategic deception ahead of communism’s conquest of the world.

This is tragic because, as usual, the Soviet communists have been very honest about their intentions, both before the Iron Curtain came down and, ever since. Indeed, high-ranking communists, like former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and current party boss Gennady Zyuganov, continue to broadcast signals concerning the pros and cons of perestroika (socialist restructuring) and democratization (Kremlin-controlled political pluralism) in Russia. Thus, if there is a “communist conspiracy” then, in reality, it has always been an open conspiracy, to quote the title of a novel by H.G. Wells. It is in this sense, that we use the word conspiracy in our blog’s subtitle.

KGB Major Anatoliy Golitsyn, while posted in Finland, defected to the West in 1961. He acquired US citizenship. Born in Ukraine in 1926, the good major, if he is alive today, would be 85 years old. Living under an assumed name, Golitsyn fired off memo after memo to the US Central Intelligence Agency. In these missives, he warned those who had ears to hear of the Communist Party’s plan to dismantle the Soviet Union and abandon its public monopoly of power. In both New Lies for Old (1984) and The Perestroika Deception (1995), Golitsyn explained the six main reasons for this massive, unprecedented, multi-front offensive:

  • to psychologically confuse the West with the notion that Soviet communism and world revolution were no longer a threat
  • to establish a communist-controlled “multi-party” system in the Soviet Bloc states as the basis of “mature socialist societies” and “states of the whole people”
  • to economically bleed the West by attracting a new generation of “Nepmen” into revitalizing the ailing Soviet economy
  • to disarm the West by removing any grounds for NATO’s existence and transforming the Soviet war machine into an invincible force
  • to create a “neutral, socialist Europe” under Moscow’s thumb
  • to end the Sino-Soviet split with a treaty of friendship between the Soviet and Chinese communists and the formation of “one clenched fist” to smash the “bourgeois” nations.

In a 1990 memo, Golitsyn reveals that “The basic weapon in the Soviet political armoury is the KGB with its 5 or 6 million secret agents inside the USSR.” No doubt, the ascent to power of career Chekist Putin in 1999 and the expansion throughout the 1990s of the Federal Security Service’s staff of domestic agents and the Foreign Intelligence Service’s overseas plants reflect institutional continuity in the Soviet deception plan. Golitsyn continues:

Together, the Party and the KGB have fabricated controlled political opposition in the main cities of the USSR and in the national Republics. Together they have chosen and trained the organisers, leaders and activists of the new ‘democratic’, ‘non-Communist’, ‘nationalist’ and ‘independent’ organizations which are mushrooming under the Soviet ‘multi-Party system.’ Even non-democratic groups like the anti-Semitic ‘Pamyat’ movement are creatures of the regime (The Perestroika Deception, page 123).

Golitsyn, who 50 years ago was privy to the workings of the “inner KGB,” which veiled the long-range deception plan from rank-and-file Chekists, rebukes the West for its ideological blindness:

Until the West abandons its simplistic thinking, penetrates mentally the complexities of the ‘changes’ which have taken place in the Communist world, and comes to terms with the Leninist dialectic driving those ‘changes’, the Communist strategists will retain the upper hand. This critical state of affairs demands urgent rethinking of the West’s response to the strategy of ‘perestroika,’ and its dangers for the West. That is the main and urgent priority. This review will take courage and statesmanship of the highest order (ibid., page xxx).

Gorbachev, who continues to pound the speakers’ circuit in the West, would not disagree with Golitsyn. In 1987, Harper & Row published Gorbachev’s manifesto, Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World. There the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union candidly reveals that all of the changes that took place and continue to take place in Russia accord with the “Leninist concept of socialist construction,” a “well-considered, systematized program,” and a “concrete strategy for the country’s further development”:

Thus, an arsenal of constructive ideas has been accumulated. Therefore, at the April 1985 Plenary Meeting we managed to propose a more or less well-considered, systematized program and to outline a concrete strategy for the country’s further development and a plan of action. It was clear that cosmetic repairs and patching would not do; a major overhaul was required. (27)

Perestroika is the all-round intensification of the Soviet economy, the revival and development of the principles of democratic centralism in running the national economy, the universal introduction of economic methods, the renunciation of management by injunction and by administrative methods, and the overall encouragement of innovation and socialist enterprise. (34)

Perestroika means the elimination from society of the distortions of socialist ethics, the consistent implementation of the principles of social justice. (35)

The essence of perestroika lies in the fact that it unites socialism with democracy and revives the Leninist concept of socialist constructionboth in theory and in practice. Such is the essence of perestroika, which accounts for its genuine revolutionary spirit and its all-embracing scope. (35)

Perestroika is closely connected with socialism as a system. (36)

I would like to point out once again that we are conducting all our reforms in accordance with the socialist choice. We are looking within socialism, rather than outside it, for the answers to all the questions that arise. We assess our success and errors alike by socialist standards. Those who hope that we shall move away from the socialist path will be greatly disappointed. Every part of our program of perestroika—and the program as a whole, for that matter—is fully based on the principle of more socialism and more democracy. (36)

We will proceed toward better socialism rather than away from it.We are saying this honestly, without trying to fool our own people or the world. Any hopes that we will begin to build a different, non-socialist society and go over to the other camp are unrealistic and futile. Those in the West who expect us to give up socialism will be disappointed. (37)

We want more socialism and, therefore, more democracy. (37)

This “Final Phase Backgrounder,” referring to the last section of Golitsyn’s first book, provides the necessary historical and ideological context for correctly evaluating the upcoming State Duma and presidential elections in “post”-communist Russia. In this, light no matter which party wins the parliamentary election or which man wins the presidential election, the Soviet strategists will nevertheless advance toward their goals, enumerated above. The election of open communists, as opposed to “ex”-CPSU cadres, will simply hasten the re-Sovietization of the “post”-Soviet space, already initiated under the Putinist regime.

Over the weekend, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the legal successor of the CPSU and Russia’s real “party of power,” also held its own pre-election congress to present a list of candidates for the Duma vote. According to the slick Kremlin-run Russia Today, “The Communists have pledged to beat the ruling party at the parliamentary elections, saying United Russia has brought the country to a deadlock.”

“It will not be just the elections of State Duma or president, it will be a choice of the course after a 20-year experiment,” Chairman Zyuganov, alluding to the deceptive nature of Gorbachev’s perestroika reforms, told delegates and guests of the congress in the town of Moskovsky, near Moscow. Referring to the Putinist regime, he grumbled “All these years a gang of folks who cannot do anything in life apart from dollars, profits and mumbling, has humiliated the country.”

“The majority of people must win,” Zyuganov confidently predicted, presuming that most voters will support the CPRF. The communist congress stated that “Russia has entered a new phase of development when patriotic forces start a decisive struggle for power of the people and socialism.” Zyuganov urged his followers to “seize the levers of power as the country is running out of its strength.” He warned: “Russia only has a maximum of 10 years to lay a foundation of new development.” He proposed a new course that will “ensure Russia’s security, transfer from economic decline to accelerated development and overcome poverty and social degradation.”    

“The Communist platform envisages the nationalization of the oil industry and the modernization of the economy,” proclaimed Zyuganov (pictured above) under a bust of the Soviet Union’s first dictator, Vladimir Lenin, whose mummified corpse still remains unburied in Red Square. He added: “The party will also campaign for the disbandment of imperialistic NATO and the establishment of a new alliance of former Soviet republics, beginning with Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.” The liquidation of NATO and the restoration of the USSR as part of a “world communist federation,” according to Golitsyn in both of his books, are key objectives of the Soviet strategists.

On the CPRF electoral list are 597 names, topped by Zyuganov, retired Navy Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, who commanded the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet from 1998 to 2002, and the head of the Communist Youth League, Yury Afonin.

The head of the Central Elections Commission, Kremlin loyalist Vladimir Churov, attended the CPRF congress without offering any reason for his presence.

This past August, the Kremlin-contrived Just Russia party, which articulates a social democratic platform, appealed to the CPRF to form an electoral alliance in a bid to break United Russia’s dominance of the Duma since 2003. “I would like to take this platform to appeal to the leadership of the Communist Party of Russia, personally to Gennady Zyuganov (KPRF leader) with a proposal to create an alliance of left forces that would destroy United Russia’s plans to gain a majority,” Just Russia’s Duma faction leader Nikolai Levichev said at a press conference at the time.

Based on recent public opinion polls, the Communists and Just Russia would together command about 25 percent of the popular vote, compared to United Russia’s 43 percent, although Levichev claimed the two parties could in combination surpass United Russia. The Communists currently hold 57 seats in the 450-seat Duma, while United Russia has 315 seats. Sergei Mironov’s Just Russia and Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democrats hold a token number. The Communists can count on garnering 18 percent of the Duma vote, while Just Russia 6 to 7 percent, according to a poll by Levada released in mid-September.

In reply to Just Russia’s overture, the Сommunists said they were ready to discuss the proposal only if Just Russia severs its ties with United Russia. “It is not clear what ‘alliance’ means because [electoral] blocks are prohibited by law,” mused senior CPRF official Sergei Obukhov. He added:

If the proposal means the creation of an alliance like the one that exists de jure between United Russia and A Just Russia – an agreement between [United Russia parliamentary faction leader Boris] Gryzlov and [A Just Russia party leader Sergei] Mironov on cooperation, joint electoral staff policies, then, A Just Russia is performing like a political bigamist. They haven’t yet divorced United Russia, but are already seeking an alliance with the Communist Party. Our party has many claims to A Just Russia over its cooperation with United Russia.

Originally supportive of Putin, Just Russia leader Mironov was last May ousted from his role as speaker of the Federation Council, the Russian parliament’s upper house. At the time he came under fire from United Russia for his criticism of St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko. In June, Mironov directed his rancor toward Putin’s newly formed Stalin-esque All-Russia People’s Front, an electoral coalition designed to draw other parties and civic groups into United Russia’s orbit. “This is an attempt to camouflage United Russia as a bloc of ‘party and non-party people,’” Mironov complained. “To ensure the bloc’s victory, regional leadership… is being hastily replaced with people loyal to the ruling establishment.”

Intriguingly, state-run Novosti opines that “Mironov’s break with the Kremlin is seen by some analysts as a move to cast him as an opposition figure who might subsequently head a ‘controlled opposition,’ to lend greater legitimacy to next year’s presidential elections.”

The third party that will have no fears about gaining seats in the Duma is the mis-named neo-fascist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), under the bombastic, over-the-edge leadership of alleged KGB agent Vladimir Zhirinovsky. The LDPR should garner some 10 to 13 percent of the vote. For years, the party has campaigned against immigration, while its 2011 slogan, “We are for the Russians,” signals no change in method. The LDPR, which was founded by the CPSU two years before the dismantling of the Soviet Union, usually remains loyal to the Kremlin line.

In January 2010, All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM), a Kremlin-run polling agency that was also founded before the collapse of the Soviet Union, carried out a survey concerning Russian’s perceptions of the success or failure of Gorbachev’s perestroika reforms. According to VTsIOM, between 2000 and 2010 the number of Russians who were unhappy about the results of perestroika almost halved, from 75 to 42 percent. Twenty-four percent of “highly educated and affluent” Russians consider that they gained from the reforms, as opposed to 11 percent in 1999. Sixty percent of poorly educated and low-income Russians view the results of perestroika negatively.

Nearly 25 years after Gorbachev became CPSU general secretary, Russians are not agreed whether perestroika was necessary. Hence, 41 percent of respondents said that “everything should have been left as it was before 1985” when Gorbachev launched his reforms, which had already been approved by the party’s collective leadership. This figure rises to 57 percent among supporters of the CPRF and elderly respondents. Intriguingly, 48 percent of supporters of Just Russia and 45 percent of people in the 25-to-44-year-old age bracket also oppose the perestroika reforms.

Most Russians still believe that the main result of perestroika was “a rise in uncertainty about the future,” specifically 46 percent against 59 percent in 1999. They also believe there has been “a rise in chaos and confusion in the governing of the country,” specifically 35 percent as opposed to 66 percent in 1999, and “a crisis in ethnic relations,” 30 percent as opposed to 38 percent 12 years ago.

VTsIOM sociologists noted that over the last 10 years there has been a “significant rise” in the number of Russians who perceive the positive results of perestroika, such as “the start of the economic strengthening of the country,” which has risen from seven to 21 percent. A further 18 percent, as opposed to 2 percent in 1999, see “the strengthening of the country’s international positions” among the results of the reforms of that time.

On March 5 of last year, Gorbachev presented the report “Breakthrough towards Freedom and Democracy,” which was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of perestroika which, in his own words years before, “revives the Leninist concept of socialist construction.” In the former Soviet president’s opinion, “the multi-party system in Russia only exists on paper, while in practice many of the flaws of a one-party system are being reproduced.” Alluding to continuity between the Putinist and old Soviet regimes, he stated:

The current Russian reality convinces me that the breakthrough towards freedom and democracy which was started by Perestroika remains relevant. Moreover, new impulses and actions by the authorities and society as a whole aimed at democratisation are needed. Otherwise the ambitious plans for the country’s modernisation cannot be realised.

Since the old Soviet regime is supposedly “dead and buried,” it is certainly noteworthy that a Kremlin-run polling agency is concerned about Russians’ perception of Gorbachev’s legacy, while Gorby himself periodically chastises Putin for not faithfully implementing reforms that, one would think, lost their relevance with the demise of the Soviet Union. This past August, Gorbachev signalled yet again that political pluralism in “post”-communist Russia is a sham, saying to Germany’s Spiegel that “Sometimes United Russia reminds me of the old Soviet Communist party.” Well, Comrade Mike, you would know better than the rest of us!

Communist Bloc Military Updates: Belarusian and Ukrainian troops deploy to Russia for Union Shield 2011 war game; CSTO’s Collective Rapid Reaction Force flexes its muscles in Caspian Sea region, Center 2011 drill prep for Kremlin action in “allied countries”

– Communist China Rescues Cash-Strapped Dictator Lukashenko, Exports “Market Socialism” to Belarus by Extending US$1 Billion Loan, Buying State Enterprises

Although the Soviet Armed Forces were officially dissolved on Christmas Day 1991, when the Communist Party deceptively banned itself and dismantled the Soviet Union, this once-feared military has returned, in part, under the guise of the Union State of Russia and Belarus’ integrated air defense system and the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s Collective Rapid Reaction Force.

According to the Belarusian media, some 5,000 servicemen from that “former” Soviet republic are taking part with Russia in a joint military exercise, Union Shield 2011, which began on September 16 and will wrap up on September 22. The Belarusian army, which like Russia’s still fights under the banner of the Bolsheviks’ red star, shipped 35 tanks, 80 armored vehicles, and some 20 warplanes and helicopters to the Gorokhovetsky and Ashuluk training grounds in southern European Russia. The Russian Armed Forces will contribute 7,000 servicemen.

The Union Shield 2011 war game features different versions of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system and Smerch multiple rocket launch system. Belarus’ military training grounds are too small to accommodate air defense exercises. The maneuvers will involve cadets from the Belarusian Military Academy and the military faculty of Belarusian State University of Informatics and Electronic Engineering.

The scenario of the exercise was jointly designed by the General Staffs of the Russian and Belarusian Armed Forces and “developed with consideration for the experience of military conflicts in Afghanistan and Libya,” presumably referring to the ongoing NATO operations in those Muslim countries. Russian and Belarusian brass insist that Union Shield 2011, the most recent of several similarly named drills, is “exclusively defensive nature” and not directed against “any countries or military blocs.” Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod and Astrakhan regions, where the exercise is taking place, are far from the country’s front with NATO, which embraces several ex-Warsaw Pact states.

For the first time in the “post”-Soviet era, as previously blogged here, Ukraine is participating in a Union Shield exercise by sending an “airmobile unit,” presumably meaning paratroopers. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kiev transferred control of the strategic bombers and nuclear weapons on its territory to Moscow. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, like Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, is an “ex”-cadre of the CPSU and generally pro-Moscow in his political orientation, although Kiev feigns interest in joining NATO in order to provoke tiffs with the Kremlin.

At the same time, Russian and Belarusian troops are taking part in CSTO’s Center 2011 drill, which began at the Ashuluk training ground and will culminate in reconnaissance operations in the Caspian Sea region, for the purposing of preventing aircraft from transporting “terrorists” (NATO forces?) into the CSTO sphere. The exercise, which will test the operability of the new Collective Rapid Reaction Force (pictured above), consists of more than 12,000 troops in brigade-sized units, over 50 jet fighters and ground attack aircraft, and 25 air defense units from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

“The scenario of one of the episodes of the active stage of the exercise provides for the joint application of air defense units of Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan in counterterrorism efforts in an armed conflict in a border area,” Kremlin-run Novosti quoted Vladimir Drik, spokesman for the Russian Air Force, as saying.

Center 2011 also involves more than 15 target simulators, as well as six different antiaircraft missile systems. CSTO troops will practice battlefield tasks, defensive and offensive operations, and bridging rivers during combat. More than 100 tanks will provide support to the war games, which includes the use of live ammunition. Belarusian warplanes are expected to participate in simulated aerial combat and practice hitting aerial and ground targets. All of these tactics, of course, could be well applied in an operation involving the re-invasion and re-occupation of territory now claimed by the European Union–Mikhail Gorbachev’s “new European Soviet”–but 20 years ago part of the East Bloc of socialist states.

Observing Center 2011 on the ground are representatives of Algeria, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Syria, countries which have been historically aligned with the Soviet Union and now Russia, as well as recipients of Soviet/Russian armament. In attendance are also the defense ministers of Armenia, Belarus, Russia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine.

The quote from Drik above shows that the Soviet strategists are concerned about an “armed conflict in a border area,” meaning the “post”-Soviet periphery. According to Interfax news agency, both Union Shield 2011 and Center 2011 are “aimed at making the Kremlin’s forces more agile and better capable of deploying to allied countries” and “better able to deploy abroad.”

A news report from the Azerbaijani media indicates Ukraine’s participation in both war games, although Kiev does not officially hold membership in CSTO: “The Union Shield and Center-2011 exercises have common topics and tasks. They involve all participants – Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine, stated a report from the Kazakh Ministry of Defense.”

In a related story, last December it was reported that some time this year Russia and Red China would hold their fifth “Peace Mission” war game, but this has yet to materialize. The end of the Sino-Soviet split, following a bogus collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, was predicted in KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn’s remarkable first book, New Lies for Old (1984), which details the Soviet strategic deception plan for global conquest. Golitsyn referred to this Moscow-Beijing, or Trans-Asian, Axis as the “one clenched fist” of world communism.

Incidentally, Communist China, which this past July sent a small contingent of People’s Liberation Army paratroopers to Belarus for joint “anti-terrorist” exercises, has extended a US$1 billion loan to cash-strapped international pariah Lukashenko. A pioneer of “market socialism,” the Communist Party of China is also offering to prop up Belarus’ Soviet-era command economy by buying a number of state enterprises like Belaruskali, which produces 15 percent of the world’s potash.

Blogger’s Note: Freedom vs. communism

Lately, several communists have tried to leave comments here. Since communism is a political cult that forbids free thought, these cyber-agitators typically resort to personal attacks. This is a standard communist tactic for shutting down political discourse. In this case, instead of relying on reasoned arguments and presenting documentation to support his position, an unknown poster hurled the diversionary epithet “fascist” at your resident blogger and referred to our copiously documented blog as “pathetic.” Comments like this will not be approved for publication.

Please see our brief rules for leaving comments at this blog on the Visitor’s Comments page. If you are a communist and wish to comply with these rules, then we will consider publishing your comment.

Buncha Commies Corner: Ortega, Borge and D’Escoto host WFTU’s “Union Meeting of Our America” in Managua; ESNA denounces World Bank, IMF, “capitalism/ imperialism,” praises communist-led student riots in Chile, endorses Zelaya’s re-installation in Honduras, Ortega’s unconstitutional re-election bid

Between August 25 and 27, more than 300 delegates, representing 134 working-class organizations in 27 countries in the Western Hemisphere, met in Managua, a “Red Mecca” for over three decades. There the Encuentro Sindical Nuestra América (ESNA) plotted out the demise of the “bourgeois” nations. Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s past/present Marxist dictator, was present at the meetings.

The communist-controlled World Federation of Trade Unions founded ESNA or, in English, the Union Meeting of Our America, four years ago, about the same time the WFTU moved its historic HQ from Prague to Athens.

The publication of the New York-based Workers’ World Party relates: “In plenaries and workshops, delegate after delegate described the suffering in their country caused by neoliberal (capitalist) economic policies, brutal political repression and the capitalist recession.” Taking a page from the communist playbook, Víctor Mendibil, secretary general of the Judicial Federation of Argentina (FJA) and a communications coordinator for ESNA, spelled out the goals of the conference:

In agreement and unity with the working class of the continent, we will give an alternative response to those initiatives that aim, at a global level within a reformist framework and with close ties to the dominant economic powers, to be the social arm of the World Bank or the IMF.

We, with a deep spirit of class and liberation, will work within ESNA with the prospect of building a large movement that will help transform society and advance along the path of social justice, the integration of our peoples, sovereignty and peace.

To the advances the multinationals are making against workers’ rights, we should put up a barrier and for this, dozens of delegations in Managua were here today in class solidarity to develop that strategy of the workers against the multinationals and imperialism.

The first day of the ESNA hugfest began with a rally in solidarity with the “Cuban Five” espionage agents, cooling their heels in a US federal prison. To help her denounce the USA, Irma Sehwerert, mother of Cuban spy René González, was joined by Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, former Catholic priest, Nicaragua’s foreign minister during the first Sandinista regime in the 1980s, and former president of the United Nations General Assembly (2008-2009); Tomás Borge, Maoist, the only living co-founder of the ruling Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN), and presently Nicaragua’s ambassador to Peru; Gustavo Porras, secretary general of the Sandinista-backed National Workers’ Federation of Nicaragua (FNT); and Salvaldor Valdés Mesa, secretary-general of the regime-controlled, WFTU-affiliated Workers’ Central Union of Cuba (CTC). Porras is pictured above, left, with his boss Ortega.

Delegates applauded loudly for Juan Barahona, Honduran union activist and leader of the National Resistance Front of Honduras, which is devoted to re-installing former president Manuel Zelaya, who was deposed in June 2009 and earlier this year legally returned to his homeland. Barahona was optimistic about the re-accession of Hugo Chavez’s lackey to power in Tegucigalpa, crowing: “We are organizing and mobilizing for total power.”

Incidentally, what do Barahona and Honduras’ “center-right” president, Porfirio Lobo, have in common? They’re both “ex”-cadres of the Communist Party of Honduras, which may explain why Lobo tamely accepted Zelaya’s repatriation.

Delegates also listened to Humberto Montes de Oca, a leader of the Union of Mexican Electrical Workers (SME), describe the “struggle” of 44,000 workers who were fired by the state-owned power company and bodily removed from their jobs by soldiers. SME members have been occupying the Zocalo Plaza in Mexico City since March 3 in opposition to privatization.

For their part, Chilean delegates related the revolutionary activities of students and workers in their country in a bid to topple the pro-business government of President Sebastian Pinera. On August 25 and 26, students, teachers, and Chile’s main umbrella labour union (CUT) held a violent two-day strike in Santiago, agitating for a “better educational system,” meaning free post-secondary education, as is available in some countries of the European Union.

The ringleader of the current protests in Chile is Camila Vallejo Dowling, a 23-year-old geography student at the University of Chile and president of the student federation at the same institution. Vallejo, according to the publication of the Communist Party USA, is a card-carrying member of the Young Communist League of Chile and daughter of Communist Party cadres who fought against the government of President Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), the bête noire of commies and lefties everywhere.

In a final resolution, ESNA expressed solidarity with “the dignified resistance of the people of Libya” (meaning the ousted terrorist regime of Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi), “the Palestinian people” (meaning the terrorist quasi-state ruled by the Palestine Liberation Organization), “the Cuban people” (meaning the terrorist state ruled by the Communist Party of Cuba), “the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela” (meaning the incipient communist regime of President Hugo Chavez), “the Chilean students” (who are led by young red Vallejo), and “the people of Colombia” (meaning the insurgent Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and presumably, too, the National Liberation Army).

ESNA also passed a special resolution that offered “unconditional support” for the (unconstitutional) re-election bid of “Comandante” Ortega, to occur on November 6, praising the second Sandinista regime (2007-present) for its participation in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA). According to the delegates, the FSLN government has demonstrated that “there are alternatives and our revolutionary parties of America can change conditions of social injustice” created by “traditional parties and oligarchies linked to and subordinate to imperialist [US] interests of international finance capital.” The resolution stated that “capitalism is confronted with one of its deepest, most integral and most systemic crises” and “the salvation of humanity is only possible with a new social system, socialism.”

The Nicaraguan president, whose top general is currently rubbing elbows with the brass of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, closed the ESNA conference, praising the resolutions and “blasting capitalism and imperialism.” After Ortega’s rant, delegates joined hands to sing the Marxist anthem “The Internationale.” The next ESNA pow-wow will take place next year in Morelia, capital of the state of Michoacán in Mexico. Previous conferences were held in Ecuador, Brazil, and Venezuela, all three of which tout leftist presidents, namely Chavez “mini me” Rafael Correa, ex-urban guerrilla Dilma Rousseff and, of course, Chavez himself.

Yup, communism’s dead all right. That’s why the WFTU and its offspring like ESNA are committed to overthrowing private property and free enterprise, even as reds like Ortega make tactical and pragmatic compromises with capitalism, to wit Nicaragua’s schizophrenic membership in both the US-led Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement and the Havana/Caracas-led ALBA.

WW4 File: Tokyo accuses Moscow of “provocative military action,” Russian strategic bombers encircle Japan; tiff over S. Kurils unresolved since 1945; US DoD denies North Korea forced down spy plane in March

On Friday, Tokyo protested to Moscow, via diplomatic channels, against the flights of two strategic bombers that encircled the entire archipelago the previous day. “We will deal with the matter appropriately based on Russia’s response,” announced Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura.

According to Fujimura, this is not the first time Russian military aircraft have flown around Japan, but noted that the incident was unusual because the bombers flew over an especially long distance and refueled in midair over the Sea of Okhotsk.

The Japanese Defense Ministry said the two Russian planes flew from the east of the Korean Peninsula, approached Japan south of Okinawa Island, then flew north over the Pacific Ocean to an area near the disputed Kuril Islands off Hokkaido. The planes came near Sakhalin Island before going south again, through the airspace between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. Finally, they headed north over the Sea of Japan, returning to Russia.

Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force scrambled its fighters, worried that the bombers might violate Japanese airspace. At one point, 10 Japanese and South Korean interceptors escorted the lumbering Tu-95 Bears.

Russia’s Defense Ministry acknowledged that two of its nuclear bombers flew over the Pacific Ocean and other areas for about 19 hours but stressed they did not violate the airspace of Japan or any other country.

In a telephone conversation with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Japan’s Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba referred to the bomber flights as a “provocative military action.”

Japan and Russia are technically in a state of war, having never signed a peace treaty in 1945, when Soviet troops occupied the Japanese-inhabited southern Kuril Islands. During the Second World War, the Soviet Union fought against the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis on the side of the Allied Powers. The territorial dispute festers to this day. Not so coincidentally, last Thursday’s bomber flights took place ahead of planned bilateral talks to finally formulate a treaty.

In another story from East Asia, the South Korean media reports that last March, when Seoul and Washington were holding their annual joint military exercise in the region, Communist North Korea used an electronic warfare device to force a US spy plane to land shortly after take off. The Chosun Ilbo cites a South Korean Defense Ministry report, which states:

[T]he RC-7B took off from its base at 8:30 p.m. on March 4 but had to make an emergency landing about 45 minutes later due to disruption of its GPS functions by jamming signals transmitted from Haeju and Kaesong in North Korea at intervals of five to 10 minutes that afternoon.

The jamming signals also disrupted the GPS devices of coastal patrol boats and speed boats of the South Korean Navy. Several civilian aircraft in the Gimpo area were also affected.

The North deploys vehicle-mounted jammers that can disrupt signals within 50-100 km and is reportedly developing a jamming device capable of disrupting signals more than 100 km away.

As noted in the quote above, the plane that made the emergency landing was a US Army RC-7B ARL (Airborne Reconnaissance Low), a modified DeHavilland DHC-7 crammed with reconnaissance gear. A US defense official denies the incident took place.

Russia’s sabre rattling ahead of a potential peace treaty with Japan and North Korea’s hostile act against a US reconnaissance plane–if the South Korean report is correct– proves again that in the communist mindset, peace and war are interchangeable terms. There are 28,000 US troops in the Republic of Korea as a deterrent to Northern aggression.

Red Dawn Alert: Nicaragua’s Cuban-trained army commander in Havana to revitalize Cold War-era military relations, Aviles’ first official visit to Cuba since Ortega’s return to presidency; ALBA states est. armed forces school in Bolivia earlier this year

– Moscow Begins to Quietly Rebuild Nicaraguan Military, Sends US$26.5 Million to Equip “Rescue Brigade,” Build Hospitals



We have decided on a plan of covert actions, etc. to block the Cuban aid to Nicaragua & El Salvador. There is no question but that all of Central Am.[erica] is targeted for a Communist takeover.

— US President Ronald Reagan, entry for November 16, 1981, The Reagan Diaries (New York: Harper Perennial, 2007)

Pictured above: Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega (left) salutes next to Commander in Chief of the Army of Nicaragua, General Julio Cesar Aviles, during a military parade commemorating the 32nd anniversary of the founding of the Nicaraguan army, on Simon Bolivar Avenue in Managua, on September 3, 2011.

In a sign of the revitalized friendship between Managua and Havana, Nicaragua’s top general, Sandinista Julio Cesar Aviles, has traveled to Cuba to promote bilateral military cooperation that was severed in 1990, after President Daniel Ortega lost to US-backed candidate Violeta Barrios de Chamorro and her 14-party opposition coalition. Ortega returned to the presidency in January 2007 on the basis of a meager 38% of the popular vote, one of the provisos of a sordid pact with Constitutionalist Liberal Party leader Arnoldo Aleman.

In Havana, ex-guerrilla Aviles thanked Cuba for the support the island communist state historically offered his Central American country, especially in the military and health sectors. “We came to strengthen these historical bonds of friendship and cooperation between our armed forces,” Aviles told reporters after laying a wreath on the tomb of Cuban independence hero, General Antonio Maceo, at the Cacahual Mausoleum.

“You supported us to make Nicaragua a free country, helped us in all areas and continue to help”, said Aviles, who extended the good wishes of President Ortega for the Cuban people. “Cuban doctors have provided medical care to thousands of Nicaraguans living in remote areas of our country,” remarked Aviles. “I am happy and pleased to be here”, Aviles said, recalling his years as a student at the General Jose Maceo Inter-Arms Academy of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), one of the sites he will visit during his stay until September 16. Aviles will also visit FAR military units, higher education institutions, and historical sites.

With training from the Soviet KGB and pep talks from Fidel Castro, Ortega, brother Humberto and Maoist Tomas Borge led the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) to victory over the Somoza dynasty in 1979. In 2006, Lloyd Billingsley, citing Vasili Mitrokhin’s The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, writes:

Under the same ISKRA codename, the KGB also trained the Nicaraguan guerrillas who seized the National Congress in August 1978. Vladimir Kryuchkov head of the FCD, the KGB’s foreign intelligence directorate, was briefed on operations. The guerrillas flew to Havana, where Castro met with Tomas Borge, Humberto Ortega and Daniel Ortega. Cuba’s Departamento America (DA) helped them set up a base in Costa Rica, vital in their ousting of strongman Anastasio Somoza in 1979.

After the communist takeover of Nicaragua, Soviet, Eastern European, and Cuban advisors flocked to Central America’s new “Red Mecca.” According to a 1987 report published by the Los Angeles Times:

The leftist Sandinista regime last year conceded that 800 Cuban military personnel were in Nicaragua. However, Reagan Administration officials believed their number to be as much as three times higher. The military advisers were in addition to about 2,500 Cuban civilians who serve as teachers, health workers and technical advisers.

In spite of the “collapse of communism” in Eastern Europe 20 years ago, the neo-Sandinista regime’s ideological continuity with its own past has not changed. This past week, governments and individuals in solidarity with Cuba conveyed their sympathies over the recent death of Cuba’s defense minister, General Julio Casas Regueiro, one of the island’s communist “old guards.”

In Managua, a much older Borge attended a memorial for Regueiro at the Cuban embassy at the request of Ortega. Cuba’s Prensa Latina news agency referred to Borge as “Commander of the Revolution,” referring, of course, to the 1979 uprising in Nicaragua. During the 1980s, Borge was Nicaragua’s feared interior minister. Since 2007, he has been Nicaragua’s ambassador to Peru. The book of condolences was also signed by leaders of the ruling FSLN, Sandinista deputies of Nicaragua’s National Assembly, and Nicaraguan legislators of the Central American Parliament.

The communist regimes in the People’s Republic of China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Laos hastened to send their sympathies over Regeiro’s death. The Secretary General of El Salvador’s ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, Medardo Gonzalez, dispatched his condolences to Cuban President Raul Castro.

Bolivian Defense Minister Maria Cecilia Chacon expressed her “deepest sympathies” and signed the book of condolences open at the Cuban embassy in La Paz. Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, is a self-avowed “Marxist-Leninist.” Like Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, Bolivia is a member of the eight-nation Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas and, since earlier this year, has hosted a military school tasked with indoctrinating member armed forces in neo-Marxism and pan-Latin Americanism.

Incidentally, the ALBA states are united in their support for deposed Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi, who is also a long-time personal friend of Ortega. This week, Venezuela’s foreign minister, Nicolas Maduro, protested: “The NTC is part of a brutal and criminal foreign occupation and intervention and of a war that has been imposed on the people of Libya.”

Russia has also revitalized its relationship with Ortega, sending US$26.5 million to the Nicaraguan military, ostensibly to form a “rescue brigade” and build two hospitals for victims of natural disasters. However, this news was only reported in the Spanish-language media, so most citizens of the “shopping mall regime” will remain in the dark.

Africa File: Large Libyan army convoy, top Qaddafi regime officials find shelter in Niger, Burkina Faso offers sanctuary to elusive ousted strongman; loyalists still control Bani Walid, Jufra, Sabha and Sirte; NTC renews accusations against Algeria

Blogger’s Note: Google and WordPress are blocking the name of the West African country “_iger,” presumably due to its similarity to a derogatory word for Black people.


Pictured above: Children play under a billboard of Nigerien President Issoufou Mahamadou in Niamey, on September 8, 2011.

Africa’s socialist/communist regimes are falling over themselves to offer sanctuary to officials of Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi’s deposed regime. According to Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) and the government of neighboring Niger, a convoy consisting of some 200 Libyan army vehicles entered Niger this past Tuesday. A thousand kilometers of desert separate the largest urban centers between the two countries.

The NTC maintains that officials and soldiers loyal to ousted strongman Qaddafi set out from the loyalist town of Jufra on Monday, making off with large amounts of gold and cash belonging to the deposed regime. With the help of Tuareg tribes in Niger and the Nigerien military, the Qaddafi loyalists slipped into the other country, albeit without their elusive ousted leader. The government of Niger, however, has confirmed reports that Qaddafi’s security chief Mansour Dhao was also allowed to enter its territory, even though Niger recognized the NTC as Libya’s legitimate government last month.

Not so coincidentally, the president and prime minister of Niger both belong to the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism, placing them in the same ideological camp as Qaddafi.

On Friday, Reuters reported that a second exodus of 14 Qaddafi loyalists, including General Ali Kana, a Tuareg who commanded the dictator’s southern troops, fled to Niger’s northern city of Agadez. A Reuters reporter in Agadez said four top Libyan officials were staying at the Etoile du Tenere, a luxurious hotel believed to be owned by Qaddafi himself. “The group arrived in four four-wheel-drive vehicles on Thursday afternoon,” one of the sources said, adding that they were accompanied by Nigerien security forces.

Qaddafi is currently a fugitive in his own country, while his wife and three children have found state-protected sanctuary in Algeria, a country that has successfully resisted this year’s Arab Spring uprisings. The NTC believes that Qaddafi and his sons were planning to meet the convoy in Niamey, Niger’s capital, which is close to the border with Burkina Faso. There the Marxist regime of President Blaise Compaoré has offered refuge to the ousted strongman. Officials in Burkina Faso have yet to respond to reports suggesting that the Libyan convoy that entered Niger was actually on its way to their capital city of Ouagadougou.

Libya’s rebel National Liberation Army now controls most of the country, except for some pockets still controlled by Qaddafi loyalists, including the towns of Bani Walid, Jufra, Sabha, and Qadhafi’s birthplace of Sirte. Rebels have besieged Bani Walid and Sirte, and are engaged in talks aimed at the peaceful surrender of the two towns. Libya’s capital of Tripoli is under rebel control.

Meanwhile, Algeria continues to shut down its border with Libya, where the interim government has renewed accusations implicating Algiers in arms deals with the Qaddafi regime during its dying days. For its part, Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) maintains that Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb may try to seize leftover arms caches in Libya to prosecute terrorist actions.

Abdelkader Messahel, an Algerian government minister, declared all border crossing points would be closed indefinitely to contain the threat. “A new situation has been created by the Libyan crisis, notably through the arms flow and the massive exodus of people from this country,” he stated. In the 1990s, the FLN defeated an Islamic uprising that killed up to 200,000 people.

Documents recovered from regime offices in Tripoli by Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper appear to show that Qaddafi planned to quell the uprising in his homeland with the use of Red Chinese arms smuggled through Algeria and South Africa. The People’s Republic of China, unlike Russia, has yet to recognize the NTC as Libya’s legitimate government.

Neo-Sandinista File: Catholic officials in Nicaragua demand answers concerning murder of priest critical of government; bishop reproves “communist-turned-congregant” Ortega for politicizing faith; Comandante leading contender for Nov. re-election in spite of ban

On August 23, Catholic officials in Nicaragua confirmed that a body recently recovered on a road leading to the city of Leon was that of Father Marlon Ernesto Pupiro Garcia, pastor of Concepcion Parish since 2006. According to the Archdiocese of Managua, the 40-year-old Fr. Marlon had been missing since August 20 under as yet to be determined circumstances. Archbishop Leopoldo Jose Brenes Solórzano of Managua said that news of Fr. Marlon’s murder “shocked everyone.” The priest’s remains were found at an illegal refuse dump, wrapped in plastic.

Pictured above: Nicaraguan soldiers train at a military base on the outskirts of Managua, on August 31, 2011. On September 2, Nicaragua’s armed forces will commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the founding of the organization, when it was known as the Sandinista People’s Army, a title that was not changed until 1995. Ex-guerrilla General Julio César Avilés Castillo is the Nicaraguan army’s commander.

Thousands of Catholics in Masaya, capital of the department of the same name, took to the streets to express their grief and repudiation of the crime. Bishop Bismarck Conde, dean of the cathedral in Managua, said: “We are walking together with our Catholic community so that together we can bid our last farewell to our beloved brother, Father Pupiro. We are mourning the fact that, as happened today to a priest, unfortunately happens every day to many people even though the police say ours is the safest country in Central America.”

Nicaragua’s ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) refuses to acknowledge Marlon’s death, prompting the Catholic media to note simply that the clergyman “had been a critic of the government.”

This is not the first time that KGB asset Ortega has locked horns with the Catholic Church. After leading the Sandinista guerrillas to victory against the Somoza dynasty in 1979, “Comandante” quickly turned Nicaragua into a base for East Bloc subversion, welcoming thousands of Soviet, Cuban and Eastern European “advisors” to Managua, taking delivery of tons of Soviet Bloc weaponry, and persecuting the Catholic hierarchy, which was perceived as being in league with the US Central Intelligence Agency. In early 1990, a democratic election kicked him out of power, even though the Sandinistas retained control of the military and national police.

In the early 2000s, Ortega “saw the light,” humbled himself before the ecclesiastical authorities, married ex-guerrilla girl Rosario “in the Church” in 2005, and began faithfully attending Mass. Manipulating a sordid pact with the corrupt Constitutionalist Liberal Party, Ortega clinched the 2006 presidential election, returning from political oblivion, but not after retired US Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North showed up in Managua to endorse the PLC candidate. Eighty-five-year-old Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, who opposed Ortega in the 1980s and retired as Archbishop of Managua in 2005, became a prominent Ortegista.

The repackaged Ortega’s campaign slogan “Christian, Socialist, and in Solidarity” and frequent references to God in speeches, as well as his wife’s comparison of a Sandinista rally to a Mass, offended many Catholics. “The use of biblical words and Church symbols is in bad taste,” protested Bishop Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara of Esteli. “They are messing around with religion and the Christian faith.”

Meanwhile, a former Nicaraguan official who was in the employ of the country’s first Sandinista regime (1979-1990), alleges that his government orchestrated the bombing that killed three journalists at a news conference in neighboring Costa Rica in 1984. At the time, Luis Carrion served as assistant to then Interior Minister Tomas Borge, the only living co-founder of the FSLN.

Carrion tells the Associated Press that his department arranged the bombing to kill Eden Pastora, a dissident Sandinista who joined the US-backed Contras. Pastora survived the attack and, ironically, is presently overseeing the second Sandinista regime’s dredging of the San Juan River, which borders Costa Rica. For his part, Maoist Borge is now Nicaragua’s ambassador to Peru.

The bombing was previously attributed to the CIA, which President Ronald Reagan acknowledged in his published diaries (2007) was engaged in covert operations in Central America. In the 1980s, Reagan was very concerned about a communist takeover of Central America, especially Nicaragua and El Salvador. He regularly discussed this subject with the National Security Council, but the Democratic-controlled Congress frequently obstructed his attempts to fund the Contras and the Salvadoran military. However, reports in the 1990s suggest that the Costa Rican bombing was part of a plot by the FSLN to kill the renegade Pastora.

The timing of Carrion’s public allegations suggest a plot by disaffected Sandinistas to derail Ortega’s re-election bid. Many ex-Sandinistas believe “Comandante” betrayed their revolutionary ideals by moving ideologically to the right in the 1990s.

This is not the first time, too, that Catholic priests have been murdered in Central America. Right-wing death squads and the Salvadoran armed forces, respectively, were officially held responsible for the 1980 assassination of Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, and the gunning down of six Jesuit priests at the Central American University in 1989.

Events in Central America have turned full circle since the Cold War supposedly ended. Reagan died in 2004. The Sandinistas are back in the saddle in Nicaragua, having modernized the Soviet-built, strategic bomber-capable air base at Punta Huete. The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front peacefully took control of El Salvador in 2009.

Center-left president Alvaro Colom imports oil into Guatemala under the auspices of Hugo Chavez’s Petrocaribe program. An anti-communist coup in Honduras removed Chavez lackey Manuel Zelaya in 2009, only to witness the installation of “ex”-Stalinist Porfirio Lobo as president the next year.

Red Chinese front company Hutchison-Whampoa manages port facilities at both ends of the Panama Canal. Powerful criminal cartels transporting “red cocaine” from rebel-held territory in Colombia have destabilized much of Central America.

But, hey, all of these facts are “no biggie,” ‘cause we’re all good capitalists now. Right?