International Conference Unity f

International Unity Conference for Peace and Progress against Imperialism

Socorro Gomes President of the World Peace Council
Katmandu, February 20th, 2010

Dear comrades in the anti-imperialist struggle for peace,

Dear comrades of the Nepalese movement for peace,

Comrades of organizations from Asian countries and other continents,

It is a great honor for the World Peace Council to take part in this regional seminar on the struggle for peace, progress and the anti-imperialist struggle. According to the World Peace Council (WPC), Peace, Progress, Development, Sovereignty and Social Justice are the great aspirations of the peoples of the world. The defense of those causes is imbued with a deep anti-imperialist character.

We greet that important initiative promoted by the comrades of the Nepalese peace movement, which holds this conference with the support of the WPC.

We find ourselves in the Ganges Valley, at the bottom of the Himalayan Range, next to the world’s highest spot, Mount Everest. We are in the land of the Lotus Flower, in the world’s youngest republic, Nepal, which, due to a combination of different forms of struggle, put an end to a monarchic regime and began a new journey of struggles for its people.

In this new chapter of the Nepalese people’s struggle, the debates taking place in the constitutional assembly are key to the country’s new design in its struggle for more progress, social justice and peace.

The consolidation of Peace, aimed at unifying the country in that new journey of struggles, is of equal importance.

Bear in mind, my Nepalese comrades, that the World Peace Council and its 100 member organizations all around the world see your struggle with solidarity and that we make your fight our own!

Dear comrades,

The world is facing a period of great tensions

This conference offers us the possibility to analyze the present international context in order to identify the role of movements fighting for peace and against imperialism.

The USA is facing a deep crisis regarding its economy and hegemony. That crisis offers room for the emergence of new powers such as China, India, Brazil and others. That is a new element in the international context in a moment of transition, when the world will undergo great tensions.

On the one hand, there are new centers of power fighting for a change in the international order with more justice and peace. On the other hand, there are great powers that fight to maintain their hegemony. In that struggle, imperialism will not hesitate to make use of force to hold its position of power.

It is precisely the use of force that has characterized the recent period. This conference takes place in a moment when the new administration of the USA celebrates its first anniversary. That short period of time was enough to reveal that essentially nothing has changed in the American strategy to rule the world.

Obama is the first person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize with a speech in defense of war, what made many see it as a Nobel War Prize. In his case, it is not only a matter of speech – there are more than 800 military bases scattered all over the world, thousand of soldiers in advanced posts and US Navy ships try to control oceanic routes. Despite Obama’s rhetoric, the American foreign policy is still essentially militarist, aggressive and aiming at the strategic resources of peoples and nations.

Military expenditure increases amid the crisis

Despite the severe economic crisis that assails the USA, military expenditure is on a constant rise.

According to data from the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the military expenditure of the USA in 2009 is greater than that of the peak moments of the Cold War, such as in the case of the Korean War (1952: US$ 604 billion), the Vietnam War (1968: US$ 513 billion) or the Reagan era (1985: US$ 556 billion).

The military budget for 2011 that president Obama sent to be approved by the Congress amounts to US$ 708 billion.

The vast complex of Military Bases, Special Commands, Navy Fleets and NATO are at the service of a well-designed strategy of the USA: guaranteeing its rule on people and nations. By increasing its presence in Asia, Africa and Latin America, it is clearly aimed at creating conditions to curb the consolidation of new blocs of power, as well as positioning its force on great reserves of natural resources and important commercial routes.

The new American strategy regarding Afghanistan

Comrades in the struggle for peace,

We are in Southern Central Asia. A few thousand kilometers from here is Afghanistan, where the USA recently launched its new war strategy for that country.

With the so-called “New strategy for Afghanistan”, Obama reaffirms his commitment with the “War against terror” that Bush started. He announced the deployment of more than 30 thousand American soldiers in Afghanistan and urges its European allies in NATO to send more troops. The Bush wars are increasingly becoming Obama wars.

Apart from the 68 thousand-strong American force and the 40 thousand NATO soldiers, 30 thousand soldiers are arriving in that country, elevating the number of occupation troops to 150 thousand soldiers. That excluding the so-called “contract soldiers”, the mercenaries paid to oppress the Afghan people. More than 100 thousand mercenaries are estimated to be under the command of occupation forces in that country.

The arguments for that new belligerent escalation in Afghanistan are the same employed by his antecessor – “the security of the USA and its people are at stake.” Nevertheless, the interests that make the USA maintain and increase its presence in Afghanistan are different. It is a matter of controlling energy-rich Central Asia as part of a larger project of geopolitical redesign involving a large region that includes Asia and northern Africa – the so-called “Greater Middle East”.

The objective is to guarantee free access to natural resources and to impose their interests on submissive governments. That project is still one of the factors contributing to instability in the region.

Not too far from Afghanistan, the USA and its NATO allies start an operation aimed at positioning forces in the Gulf of Aden and the so-called Horn of Africa.

That action takes place in the supposed struggle against the “Somali Pirates” and the “terrorist cells of Al-Qaeda in Yemen.”

In the case of Yemen, according to official data of the Pentagon, the military “cooperation” of the USA increased form US$ 4.6 million in 2006 to US$ 67 million in 2009. Last month the USA started a series of large-scale attacks with drone aircrafts (unmanned airplanes) in northern and southern Yemen. There is talk of establishing a base in Yemen and docking Navy ships in Yemenite ports. The USA trained many of the men it affirms to fight in their war against the Soviet presence in Afghanistan.

The other part of that operation is carried out under the pretext of fighting the so-called “Somali Pirates.” In this case, the supposed pirates are used as a pretext to guarantee a strong presence of the US Navy in those waters.

Somalia and Yemen are facing each other in the extreme edge of the Gulf of Aden, where the Red Sea meets the Oman Sea. Controlling that location is ruling one of the world’s main commercial routes, which is also a vital route in transporting supplies to China and India.

Based on the pretext of fighting the “Somali Pirates” and the supposed “Al-Qaeda cells in Yemen,” NATO carries out a silent operation aimed at neutralizing its presence in those waters. NATO was never present in that region. Its forces did not circulate around those latitudes even in the intense period of the Cold War. Now many of its ships sail those waters to protect vessels in that route. It is another step in the strategic redesign.

The role of AFRICOM

In October 2008 the United States put into operation AFRICOM, which is a special command active in the African continent. Headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, and active for a little more than one year, AFRICOM already has 172 missions in many countries of the continent. It is the sixth geographic force of the US Department of State with a unique focus as we take into consideration the missions and the size of the region.

According to the US National Defense Strategy, AFRICOM was constituted when it became clear that countries such as China, India, Brazil, Turkey, Japan and Russia were establishing strategic relations with African countries. In face of that fact, the USA decided to form AFRICOM with a view to recover a greater “freedom of movement” in the region.

The Command is one of the components in the project of guaranteeing a new area of geopolitical influence for the USA, including the control of the waters in the Horn of Africa and the positioning of forces in vital commercial routes for India and China.

Palestinian resistance and Israel’s war crimes

Middle East is still the region where people suffer most as a consequence of the policies of imperialism and its allies.

In the last weeks the fact that Israel made use of white phosphor against Palestinian camps in the Gaza Strip became public. It is a war crime of the utmost gravity. The responsible is not only a general, but also the State of Israel and its leaders, who must respond in court for countless crimes against humankind.

The Zionist government intensified a campaign to expand settlements in Palestinian territories. This policy is aimed at consolidating Israeli populations in Palestinian lands, forcing the Palestinian people out of their territories, violating the resolution of the Security Council (No. 452, from 1979), which forbids Israel from creating new settlements.

Apart from the aggressions against Palestine, there has been hostility also against other countries in the region, such as Syria, whose Golan Hills are still occupied by Israel. Aggressions and hostility towards Iran are escalating due to its refusal to submit to the rule of great powers.

In this seminar, we reaffirm the defense of the constitution of the Palestinian State, having Jerusalem as its capital. We demand the immediate restitution of the Golan Hills to Syria and the end of hostilities in that region.

Likewise, we defend the nuclear disarmament of Israel and that the Middle East becomes a Peace Zone free from nuclear weapons.

The offensive of imperialism against Latin America

Comrades, the militarist offensive of the US imperialism is also advancing towards Latin America. It is a matter of a reaction to the political changes that the continent has seen during the last years.

The reactivation of the so-called Fourth Fleet of the US Navy is a milestone in the American reaction in Latin America. Such war machine armed with nuclear weapons sails the resource-rich waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, over immense reserves of oil recently discovered by Brazil. Its reactivation represents a severe threat to peace in the region.

In mid 2009 an agreement negotiated in secrecy was publicized – seven military bases of the USA are to be installed in Colombia.

Located in strategic positions, the seven bases are near the borders with Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador. Apart from that, Colombia will offer the naval base at the Malaga Bay, in the Caribbean, in order to offer support to the Fourth Fleet.

The agreement signed in secrecy without consultation with the Colombian Congress will last for 10 years and can be renewed. It allows the USA to maintain up to 1400 men, of which 800 are soldiers and 600 are “contracted” professionals, the same mercenaries employed in Afghanistan and Iraq. The agreement allows a cooperation that amounts to US$ 5 billion destined to expenses with infrastructure and the modernization of facilities.

In the Pentagon documents it is stated that the Palanquero base, in the center of Colombia, “will allow the US Army to conduct operations in the whole specter of Latin America” and that among its objectives is fighting “the constant threats of anti-American governments.”

The motivations are clear and described in their own documents. As the USA loses influence in the region, it has tried to increase and reposition its military forces. Those are generally located near the great reserves of natural resources and energy sources, such as the bases in the Colombian Amazon and the Fourth Fleet.

The participation of the Military Base of Soto Cano, in Palmerola, Honduras, in the coup against president Manuel Zelaya is another fact of the utmost gravity.

The Obama administration, which took part in the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago promising a new era regarding the relations with the region, still maintains the criminal blockade against Cuba and its policy of hostilities, placing it among the countries that support “terrorism.”

The Military Base named Haiti

We watched in the last weeks an episode that shows the true face of the Obama Administration’s so-called “soft power.” The USA, taking advantage of the terrible tragedy that happened in Haiti, started a supposed “humanitarian occupation.” At the first moment, the USA took control of the airport in Port au Prince, not allowing the entrance of humanitarian aid, since it prioritized the departure of American citizens from the country and the discharging of materials for its troops.

Shortly after the Presidential Palace was occupied for the installation of a central command in Port au Prince. With those actions, the USA turned Haiti into one of its main military bases, with more than 16 thousand men and several aircraft carriers controlling Haitian ports.

The peoples must unite in the struggle against imperialism! No foreign military bases!

In face of those aggressions, it is necessary to build a broad international movement against foreign military bases and NATO. They represent efforts to implement a policy of neo-colonization and struggle to avoid changes in the current international scene.

The World Peace Council, along with a broad range of organizations, started last January in Brazil the campaign “Latin America is a region of peace – No foreign military bases.” Our objective is to use that campaign to achieve the means to turn the continent into a territory free from foreign military bases. 

We must establish coalitions in every region that allow us to amplify our struggle for peace and strengthen awareness and the anti-imperialist struggle and its instruments of aggression. By proposing the constitution of an international campaign against foreign military bases, we are aware that we contribute to build a world with more progress, justice and peace – a world without imperialism!

Inspired by the struggle of our hosts, who showed that it is possible to achieve democracy, we affirm once more that imperialism is not invincible. It will be defeated with the unity of peoples.

Thank you very much.