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December 15, 2018 - No. 44

Arrest of Huawei Executive and the Rule of Law

Beware of Liberal Illusions that Canada Abides by the Rule of Law

Despicable Tactic by U.S. with Canadian Appeasement
- Anne Jamieson -
Legal Issues Involved in the Canada-U.S. Extradition Treaty

Bold Stands in Defence of Hereditary Rights
Indigenous Youth Action in Ottawa Demands
Respect for Hereditary Rights

Chiefs Decry Flawed Consultation Process
Apology Demanded from PM Trudeau for Comments to
Secretary-Treasurer Kukpi7 Judy Wilson

- Open Letter, Union of BC Indian Chiefs -
Minister Bennett's False Statements Regarding the "Joint Development" of a New Specific Claims Process Condemned
- Union of BC Indian Chiefs -
Grassy Narrows Youth Demand Action and Compensation For Canada's Crimes Against Them and Their Community
- Philip Fernandez -
Canada Must Respect the Rights of Unist'ot'en Land Defenders

UN Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration
There Is Nothing Safe, Orderly or Regular About Migration Today
- Margaret Villamizar and Hilary LeBlanc -
For Your Information

People's Movement Against Criminalization of Migrants in U.S.
Trump Authorizes Lethal Force by Troops at the Border
- Voice of Revolution -
United Actions Affirm Migrant Rights
The Landscape of Immigration Detention in the U.S.
- Emily Ryo, J.D., Ph.D. and Ian Peacock, M.A.,
American Immigration Council -

"Yellow Vest" Movement in France
Working People Protest Neo-Liberal Austerity Agenda and
Uphold the Rights of All

- Michael Chant -

Departure of Cuban Doctors from Brazil
Cuba Shows How Things Can Be Done Differently

Note to Readers

Arrest of Huawei Executive and the Rule of Law

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Using the Extradition Treaty between Canada and the United States, the U.S. got Canada to arrest Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, the world's largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer and the second largest smartphone manufacturer after Samsung. She was arrested when she changed planes in Vancouver en route to Mexico. The U.S. is seeking her extradition on allegations that she tried to bypass American trade sanctions on Iran. At the same time, the U.S. Congress and U.S. Homeland Security and the "Five Eyes" intelligence services are striving to dictate the outcome of Canada's 5G wireless infrastructure claiming that Huawei cannot be let in. This, in turn, is claimed to be a matter of national security because Huawei's communications technology "contains spyware and could be weaponized by the Chinese state," Global News reports. 

Meng was granted bail for $10 million on December 11. She will live in Vancouver under electronic surveillance. In the meantime, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that he was ready to step into the case if it meant getting a good trade deal with China. In an interview with Reuters, Trump claimed he could dispense with the extradition hearings, saying, "If I think it's good for the country, if I think it's good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made -- which is a very important thing -- what's good for national security -- I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary." In response to this, Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland made remarks on December 13 that countries seeking extraditions from Canada must make sure their requests are solely about seeing that justice is done. Her claim was that Canada upholds the rule of law which does not brook political interference. Global News reported Freeland saying that Canada needs to take seriously requests for extradition from close allies like the United States, and that those countries also have a responsibility to be astute in their handling of those requests. She remained silent about the dangers posed to world order when the U.S. applies its dictate against others.

If the U.S. is serious about wanting her extradited, officials there need to file a formal extradition request by the end of January 2019, Amanda Connolly, National Online Journalist for Global News, writes. After that, the Canadian Department of Justice will have 30 days to decide whether to approve the beginning of formal extradition proceedings. If the request is allowed to proceed, Meng will be back in court for an extradition hearing before the BC Supreme Court.

In terms of how the U.S. uses legislative powers on behalf of its competing oligarchs, in an August 20 filing to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission hearing on "Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century" Huawei says this about the "national security sanctions":


Although Huawei has developed an international reputation for affordable, quality products, the fact that Huawei is one of "the first Chinese companies to emerge as a global powerhouse" has precipitated exclusionary practices by the U.S. government on the purported basis of unsubstantiated national security concerns.

Huawei has no state ownership and operates independently of the Chinese government -- as evidenced by the widespread use of Huawei’s products in over 170 countries across the world, including by close U.S. allies, without undermining any nation’s security. Yet, in the U.S., Huawei still faces ungrounded allegations of state interference. As a result, continual agitation and interference by U.S. government agencies and officials, as described above, have stymied, and continue to stymie, Huawei’s U.S. businesses and operations.

The U.S. government is currently proposing to further restrict Huawei’s U.S. businesses through increasingly broad measures. Again as noted above, in April 2018, the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] issued its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in response to a letter by 18 members of Congress raising questions about Huawei and ZTE, to consider a rule that would prohibit the use of funds from the Universal Service Fund to purchase equipment or services from "any communications equipment or service providers identified as posing a national security risk to communications networks or the communications supply chain."

The preamble to the FCC’s proposed rule calls out just a few companies -- including Huawei -- by name.

Moreover, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which was enacted on August 13, 2018, will, among other things, bar all federal agencies from contracting with any entity that uses equipment or services produced or provided by Huawei or ZTE as a "substantial or essential component ... or as critical technology as part of any system."

During a panel on CTV's Question Period, John Manley, Foreign Affairs Minister in the government of Jean Chrétien, President and CEO of the Business Council of Canada and a member of Telus' Board of Directors, addressed Trump's tweet about trade negotiations being leveraged by the arrest as the opening to Huawei's legal arguments. He said, "I think actually the president has given Ms. Meng's lawyers quite a good reason to go to the court and say, 'This is not an extradition matter. This is actually leverage in a trade dispute and it's got nothing to do with Canada. It's got nothing to do with trade with Iran. Let's call this what it is -- it's an attempt to get China to buy more soy beans from the mid-western United States.' And call it a day."  He also suggested that when Canada got the instruction to arrest her for an extradition hearing, it should have conducted some "creative incompetence" by pretending that they missed the CFO (when she was changing planes) rather than getting ensnared.

U.S. Imperialist Powers Exercised in the Name of Rule of Law

The global oligarchs and big powers manipulate global markets, including prices and demand and supply, to serve their narrow private interests and even impose blockades and extraterritorial sanctions and laws against particular nations, such as the U.S. imperialists have imposed against Iran. They have unilaterally torn up an agreement which several other countries besides Iran were party to and demand that all obey their dictate or face attack. And all of this is done in the name of the rule of law! Governments, politicians and monopoly-owned media chime in to repeat that it is a matter of national security. They declare that the dangers are posed by the likes of Iran, China or any other country or individual that it suits their interests to eliminate if they refuse to submit to their dictate. Threats of using U.S. imperialist economic and military might to serve narrow private interests in the name of defending rule of law, democracy, peace and good government shows who poses the problem to everyone's national security. This case brings that to the fore in a big way.

The current U.S. dictators tore up an arrangement the previous U.S. dictators made with Iran and are attacking all countries and their business people that want to have and are pursuing independent relations with Iran, as is their right. The humiliating spectacle of a Huawei executive imprisoned in Canada at the behest of the U.S. imperialists, who claim to be implementing an extradition treaty with Canada, merely shows that they find whatever means serve them to exercise extraterritorial powers. It makes a mockery of talk about legality and speaks to the necessity of having an independent political system and arrangements that extricate Canadians from U.S. Homeland Security and the U.S. war economy. An independent political system would necessarily revoke treaties and arrangements which are self-serving. It would take into account the right to control Canada's economy, including investments, the production and distribution of Canada's natural resources and trade with all other countries for mutual development and benefit under the internationalist banner of one world, one humanity.

Besides using the arrest as leverage in its own unprincipled negotiations on the trade deal with China, it is clear that at the centre of the arrest of the Huawei executive lies U.S. imperialist opposition to allowing Huawei Technologies to take part in developing Canada's 5G telecommunications network, which is expected to enable much faster connections and greater data capacity. Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne says it is a matter of "national security."

"Canada must be prudent and rely on the input of its intelligence services before ruling on whether the Chinese firm should be involved in the next-generation wireless communication system," Champagne said December 10, during a roundtable interview with the Canadian Press (CP), the news agency reports.

"We understand that there are concerns and we need to properly assess whatever risk, or benefits, that there might be," Champagne said.

CP reports, "Former security officials in Canada and two members of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have warned that Huawei's participation could compromise the security of Canada and its closest allies. The thinking is that the Chinese company could build spying capabilities into equipment it supplies."

For its part, "Huawei stresses it is not a state-controlled company and denies engaging in intelligence work on behalf of any government."

Three of Canada's partners in the "Five Eyes" intelligence-sharing group -- the United States, Australia and New Zealand -- have forbidden the use of Huawei products in 5G network development in their countries, CP says.

"I think prudence is the right approach when it comes to complex national security issues like that, when it comes to networks," Champagne told CP. "Canada is a welcoming place for investors, but clearly our national security always comes first."

Meanwhile Scott Jones, the head of Canada's new cyber security centre, told CP:

"We're doing a comprehensive review of how do we respond to the 5G technology shift, but the broader cyber security environment as well, and making sure that we're prepared as a nation for what we have to face."

There is, however, nothing prudent about arresting Huawei's chief financial officer on behalf of the U.S. imperialists. To say it has "only heightened tensions around the issue," as CP does, is a serious understatement. It is a U.S. declaration of war, not just against any country that refuses to submit to its demands to dominate the world, but any individual as well, and China is responding in like kind. The U.S. justifies such egregious abuse of power by claiming Meng Wanzhou is wanted on proper grounds for having violated U.S. law and Canada stands behind its claim that this is all being legally conducted under a bilateral extradition treaty and it will make sure everything is done legally.

This is the argument the Prime Minister of Canada is hiding behind.

"We are a country of the rule of law," he said. "We live up to our international obligations and we trust our courts to do the right thing."

"Doing the right thing" is Canada's specialty. We remember American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier, arrested in Canada on February 6, 1976 and extradited from Canada in December of the same year on the basis of a false affidavit signed by Myrtle Poor Bear, a Native American woman known to have serious mental health problems. In that case Canada justified its refusal to take a just stand by seeking assurances Peltier would not face the death penalty in the United States since that would not fit the terms of its Extradition Treaty with the United States. The assurances were given and Peltier was sent back to the U.S., where he was convicted on trumped up evidence of the murders of two FBI agents and sentenced to life in prison. His extradition, convictions and imprisonment remain one of the crimes of the 20th and 21st centuries for which both Canada and the United States have yet to be held to account.

Even Warren Allmand, Liberal Attorney General under whose watch this travesty of justice was carried out, rued the day he signed that extradition order. Who will hold Canada to account for condemning an innocent man to life in prison on fabricated evidence?

Attempts to give credence to a rule of law which is depraved from A to Z has become a matter of very serious concern. All kinds of attempts are being made to defend liberal democratic notions of peace, order and good government, enshrined in the rule of law, as if this is the antidote to the egregious abuses of power we see in spades today. These ring increasingly hollow the more evident it becomes that the system called liberal democracy is precisely the one which has broken down and is carrying out and condoning all these abuses. It goes to show that warmongers and appeasers have become one and the same.

(With files from Hardial Bains Resource Centre Archives, CP, Global News, Reuters, CTV News.)

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Despicable Tactic by U.S. with
Canadian Appeasement

The arrest and incarceration in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the prominent Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, is a stark illustration of the lengths to which the U.S. administration will go -- with the willing (but not wanting to appear so) appeasement of the Canadian government -- to "make America great again." The desperate campaign for economic supremacy at the global level by the U.S.-based oligarchy is at the heart of this act and others like it -- contrary to hastily constructed claims by some of its supporters in Canada that the arrest is merely a judicial matter having nothing to do with politics and trade. Actually it has everything to do with the U.S. and its intensifying trade war with China; and with the striving by the U.S. administration to be the dominant player over the other "Five Eyes" in an Anglo-American arrangement to exert economic, political, and military control on a world scale.

In the TML Weekly article "Peoples of the World Oppose Those Who Make a Mockery of Human Rights Based on Ulterior Motives,"[1] the author points out that ever more egregious ways are used by the old forces -- those who usurp power by force -- to maintain hegemony, all in the name of defending democracy and human rights, or in the name of opposing corruption and fraud, or defining national interest. The arrest of the CFO of Huawei is a glaring example of what the author has identified, on the part of these old forces, as a nefarious "turning their attention to rival business representatives whom they humiliate and criminalize because they [the business representatives] have their own interests and refuse to submit to their hegemony."

The arrest and detention of Ms. Meng was in itself an act to humiliate her as a representative of Huawei, a large Chinese telecommunications company that is potentially outstripping the U.S. in the development of  "fifth generation" (5G) telecommunications hardware. The arrest and humiliation of this representative was calculated to shake confidence among investors in this company and persuade universities and corporations like Telus in Canada not to do business with it.

Ms. Meng was manhandled by security personnel in a manner that would be subject to court action for assault in other circumstances; she was also manacled like a criminal; she is required to wear an ankle bracelet and is under house arrest while proceedings for extradition by the U.S. may go ahead; she and supporters had to pay a huge bail. In addition, the house in which she is required to stay for certain hours of the day as a condition of bail was pictured in the Vancouver Sun; and in that newspaper as well as in the free Vancouver daily Metro, the street and location were printed for all to see. Early in the morning on December 9, while bail proceedings were still in progress, the house was broken into. This could suggest a Watergate-type of break-in -- the "suspects" ran away when someone in the house discovered them. At the very least this was an invitation to burglary or harassment.

Bogeyman of "Cyber Security"

Politicians and commentators are citing "national security" and, specifically, "cyber security." It is not coincidental that in late November parliamentarians in Canada raised the potential "danger" of corporations and entities doing business with Huawei. Conservative MP Peter Kent, in his address, referred to an article in the Wall Street Journal, stating "the U.S. government is reaching out to its foreign allies urging them to avoid using telecommunications equipment from Huawei."[2] Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus said "most of our allies have made it very clear that they see Huawei as a threat, whether it's financial or otherwise." Weighing in also was Bob Zimmerman, Conservative MP, who said "the former is a close colleague and I would agree with him." Matthew Dubé, NDP MP, said "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale should take comments coming from Canada's allies seriously." While Dubé said that he is not convinced by Scott Jones, head of Canada's Communications Security Establishment (CSE), "who provided information on the government having testing facilities for Huawei technology," he was equivocal, adding "we have other allies ... that have seemed to find a way to work with them [Huawei] in a constructive way that ensures security. That's why my response has been on the fence about this."

The above-mentioned parliamentarians are members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU) and the Canada-United States Inter-parliamentary Group. They claim that Huawei representatives have "lobbied" or approached them in the past to oppose the attempted U.S. blockade against this company. They also claim that they "were not approached by U.S. officials," although Kent admitted, "I know that colleagues have been [approached] on the appropriate committees."

The issue of "cyber security" is being raised as a bogeyman to frighten and fool Canadians into supporting the agenda of the U.S. oligarchy to attain economic, political, and military supremacy on a world scale. This oligarchy sees the development and monopoly of 5G telecommunication hardware as key to carrying out this agenda, along with the suppression or weakening of a rival power in this domain.

Canadians cannot be so easily fooled. In 2013, a mere five years ago or so, Edward Snowden, former CIA employee and contractor for the U.S. government, copied and leaked thousands of classified documents from the National Security Agency (NSA), revealing that the U.S. government was conducting extensive surveillance over its own citizens through phone and internet records. This is the same U.S. that some parliamentarians would have Canadians trust with surveillance capabilities (and actual activities) over their internet use here. As for the accusations that Huawei is too close to the Chinese government (and thus the Chinese government could potentially bring the North American economy to a standstill through hardware bought from Huawei), what about the fact that monopolies like Facebook and others are being used by the state in both the U.S. and Canada to spy on their own citizens with the objective of exerting control?

The Canadian people will see through the fraud being perpetrated by the U.S. oligarchy and its accomplices in Canada, in the name of defending "national security," and will not get drawn into supporting this or any other agenda that is against their own interests. The real issue is that with actual sovereignty and independence, the Canadian people would be capable of exercising control over their own lives and not be subject to control from without.


1. TML Weekly article by Pauline Easton, December 8, 2018.

2. mobilesyrup, November, 2018.

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Legal Issues Involved in the Canada-U.S.
Extradition Treaty

To inform readers of the legal issues involved in the Canada-U.S. Extradition Treaty as they relate to the case of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, TML Weekly is reproducing below an article by Robert J. Currie, published in the Globe and Mail on December 9. Professor Currie teaches at Dalhousie University's Schulich School of Law, where he specializes in transnational criminal law and inter-state criminal co-operation. His article clearly pinpoints the wiggle room Canada has in this case were it to show any backbone. However, based on all the evidence of who rules Canada, pinning hopes on the inter-imperialist contradictions, raging on every front, being sorted out based on a rule of law that does not see justice done, seems neither wise nor sane.

Believing that Canada upholds a rule of law worthy of the name is not only a false ideological belief but a dangerous false ideological belief. These developments reveal something about the ever greater dangers which lie ahead for not only Canada but the entire world. They require a sober assessment of what's what and to identify the practical measures the working people can and must take to avert these dangers.

"Canada's Legal System Better Stand up to Scrutiny,"
Robert J. Currie, Globe and Mail, December 9, 2018

When reports emerged that Canadian authorities arrested Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on December 1, it immediately became an international incident. Ms. Meng, the daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecom giant, is apparently wanted in the U.S. on charges arising from a New York-based federal investigation into Huawei, relating to the alleged shipment of U.S.-sourced goods to Iran in violation of American sanctions. The Chinese embassy in Canada has already reacted furiously, and the international community, especially in the United States, is watching closely.

This case presents an interesting entanglement of legal, political and diplomatic issues. The legal issues are perhaps the least familiar to most but also the most ordinary; under the Canada-U.S. extradition treaty, Canadian authorities are bound to arrest individuals known to be in Canada at the request of their American counterparts. The timing of the arrest -- while Ms. Meng was changing planes -- suggests Vancouver police were "tipped off" in advance about her presence there, but this is not unusual. Nor is the fact that the arrest was of a foreign national, since extradition is very often sought for people who have fled the scene of their alleged crimes, and such people are just as likely to be foreign citizens as they are to be Canadians. Ms. Meng is likely to receive bail when the hearing continues on Monday [December 10], unless the court can be convinced that she is a flight risk, and at the very least she will have to surrender her passport and live under restrictions.

So what comes next? With all eyes firmly on Canada after this arrest -- possibly the most international scrutiny that our legal system has ever faced -- our extradition laws, and the people in charge of them, will be under the microscope. And Canadian officials will no doubt be uncomfortable until they know that they have crossed every single T and dotted every last i.

While a number of preliminary legal steps might be taken, there will, at some point, be a court hearing at which the U.S. will be required to produce to a Canadian court a certified summary of the evidence that supports the laying of the charges.

Another requirement to be met is "double criminality," which means the court must find that the crime for which Ms. Meng is sought also amounts to a crime in Canada in order for extradition to be completed.

At the moment it appears that the basis of the U.S. case is fraud and conspiracy to defraud, with some relation to breach of sanctions. Fraud offences are known to Canadian law, and under our Special Economic Measures Act, it is an offence to have economic dealings with foreign states against which the government has issued sanctions, and Iran is one of the listed states. While this may be a parallel to the relevant U.S. laws, one important difference is that Canada's law is not applied against foreign nationals who act outside Canada, whereas it appears the U.S. is pursuing Ms. Meng for conduct that did not touch American territory. Moreover, sanctions are as much a tool of foreign policy as they are a form of regulation, and an extradition case on this basis will be breaking new ground, and courting uncertainty.

Under Canada's Extradition Act, the decision about whether extradition is available in cases with these kinds of differences in territorial jurisdiction is made not by the courts, but by the federal Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould. In fact, the Minister's role involves a heavily intertwined set of political and legal functions. She will already have approved the arrest of Ms. Meng on the extradition request; lawyers in her department will represent the U.S. government before the Canadian courts; and she will make the ultimate "surrender decision" about extradition after the fairly perfunctory court process is completed. In making the surrender decision, the Minister must balance a complex set of factors, including Canada's obligation to extradite under the treaty and whether there are any human rights concerns that might make extradition unlawful. If the U.S. prosecutors seek harsh penalties, Ms. Meng's lawyers might very well argue that surrendering her would be oppressive and breach the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Much rests then on the Justice Minister's decision. And the high-stakes choices Ms. Wilson-Raybould now faces are complicated by the necessity to weigh Canada's political and diplomatic relationships. Court reviews of these decisions tend to be very deferential because of the presence of these factors; Canada has a long history of co-operation with the U.S., and in virtually all cases the minister is highly disposed to order extradition, because such neighbourliness makes for smooth relations. In fact, as critics have asserted, Canada's entire extradition regime is heavily tilted toward surrenders going through, and it takes the presence of quite extraordinary factors to scotch a request.

But this is, indeed, an extraordinary situation. China can be expected to continue exerting significant pressure on Canada to release Ms. Meng, at a time when the Trudeau government is not only pursuing more trade links with China but preparing to negotiate an extradition treaty between the two countries. China has already taken diplomatic steps to indicate its displeasure, and the prospect of other forms of retaliation is highly likely. On the other side is the U.S. government and its increasingly hot trade war with China, as well as the increasing pressure by Canada's Five Eyes partners to shun Huawei due to security concerns. Anything less than an enthusiastic and quick extradition will doubtless raise the ire of the Trump administration, which will expect Canada to fall in line in what it will doubtless frame as a straightforward criminal case (even though it is likely anything but).

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Bold Stands in Defence of Hereditary Rights

Indigenous Youth Action in Ottawa Demands
Respect for Hereditary Rights

An estimated 300 people, mainly youth, gathered on Parliament Hill on December 4, among them drummers and representatives of Indigenous organizations from many parts of the country who came to express their opposition to the Trudeau government's framework on Indigenous rights.

The event was organized by the youth, who wanted to send a strong message to the Trudeau government and delegates at the Special Chiefs Assembly of the Assembly of First Nations taking place in Ottawa, that the framework is unacceptable.

Many of the speakers at the event as well as poets, singers and drummers, were young people who expressed their anger at the Trudeau government for attacking the hereditary rights of Indigenous nations. Some elders who spoke praised the youth for taking this courageous stand. Some Regional Chiefs attending the Special Chiefs Assembly participated in the rally to stand with the youth.

APTN reported that Hanna Sewell of Batchewana First Nation said the government "took four months to consult with 633 First Nations, which is impossible."

Sewell said the Liberals' approach to developing the framework, which involved unilaterally developing 10 principles to follow during its engagement with Indigenous groups, is flawed.

"In order for us to move forward and create our own governance and get back to where we were, we need to lead that process. It cannot be Canada telling us what to do once again," she said.

Delaware Nation youth Kamryn White-Eye in her speech at the rally presented her analysis of Canada's "decolonization" initiative.

She said youth have been left out of a dialogue that ultimately could change their future.

"The principles stress the superiority of Canada's constitutional framework while limiting self-determination for our people. Principle four suggests that Indigenous peoples are foundational to Canada's constitutional framework and motions toward pushing First Nation rights under the Canadian constitution," she said.

White-Eye's comment touches on a larger issue that has repeatedly come to the fore at recent Assembly of First Nations gatherings -- Indigenous title.

"As Indigenous people we are born embedded into the land. The land is sacred to our people and is the location of our spiritual reality," White-Eye told the gathering, held on unceded Algonquin territory.

"We need the government to know and understand that we will not give up our lands at any cost."

The youth then marched down Wellington St. past the Prime Minister's Office where they stopped to shout slogans such as "Stop the Framework" and "We do not Consent," and then continued down Wellington St. to the Westin Hotel where the Assembly of First Nations was holding the Assembly of Chiefs. As the march arrived some of the delegates to the conference came out to greet them and to thank them for taking this action.

Rallies were held in other cities to coincide with this one and to express the same demands.




(Photos: TMLW, Chiefs of Ontario, B. Forester, B. Manitowabi, E. McKinney, M.A. Morin)

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Chiefs Decry Flawed Consultation Process

Some 500 Chiefs were present at the Chiefs Assembly organized by the Assembly of First Nations in Ottawa, December 4-6. On December 4, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a speech there, that was followed by questions in which he accompanied his well known "I'm Sorry" refrain with another rendering of how well the Liberals are doing in meeting their promises given the challenges they face. The unmitigated arrogance of those who think others are inferior then manifested itself when confronted with the essence of the matter by the Chiefs present.

Youth addresses Assembly of First Nations' Chiefs Assembly, December 4, 2018, calling on them to Stop the Framework.

During his speech, on the issue of the government's failure to properly consult on the Trans Mountain project, Trudeau said, "I could explain and try to justify it by saying we are starting from a standing start [taking over] from a government that hadn't done any consultations adequately over 10 years. But that's not good enough as a reason. I apologize for that. We didn't do a good enough job."

He said that was why his government appointed retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci to lead the new round of consultations to get it right. He once again pledged to continue mending Canada's relationship with Indigenous peoples, which had been damaged by actions that began before the birth of the country.

"The legacies of colonialism took more than 400 years to create, so change won't come overnight," said Trudeau. "But with every positive step forward, we advance a little further along the right path. Each step forward, each water advisory lifted, each school built, is a sign that we're on the right track."

Trudeau cited recent announcements to co-develop child welfare legislation with Indigenous groups and to overhaul Canada's historical land claims process. He also touted the government's progress on lifting some of the drinking water advisories in First Nations communities and its work toward legislation permitting the use of Indigenous languages in Parliament as markers of the Liberals' progress after three years in power, APTN reported.

Following his presentation, Neskonlith Nation Chief Kukpi7 Judy Wilson addressed the Prime Minister saying that mutual benefit agreements signed by some First Nations on the Trans Mountain project did not amount to the consent of the people.

Dealing with elected Indian Act chiefs and councils alone didn't amount to the consent of the proper title-holders in her territory of Secwepemcul'ecw, the Neskonlith Chief said.

"You can't count a few [impact and benefit agreements] that you've done with some of the communities as consent, because it's the proper title-holders of those nations that hold the title," Chief Wilson said. She suggested some bands who signed agreements with Kinder Morgan might have been "under duress" when agreeing to a pipeline that many believe poses significant environmental and health risks.

"We have to get to a proper process of consent, prime minister," she said.

The pipeline crosses about 513 km of the Secwepemc Nation, of which Neskonlith is a member, APTN pointed out.

Trudeau then arrogantly addressed Wilson by her first name and told her that she should be "careful" about "minimizing" positions taken by other First Nations that "disagree" with her. "We put forward a ... renewed process to actually have strong and engaged conversations," said Trudeau. He told her she was "minimizing or ascribing reasons for people who take positions that disagree with you."

"I think there are lots of reasons and I think we should respect people's choices to support or not support people's choices just because they disagree with you," he said.

Coldwater Indian Band Chief Lee Spahan of the Nlaka'pamux Nation also told Trudeau his community still hasn't been consulted on Trans Mountain, which would run through their aquifer if built. Spahan said the situation amounted to "Canada's unremedied breach of fiduciary duty and the ongoing trespass of the pipeline on my reserve," adding "the consultation process is flawed."

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs subsequently wrote the Prime Minister an Open Letter (published below) denouncing his condescending and sexist attitude towards Chief Wilson as well as another statement (also published below) denouncing the inaccurate and misleading statements made by Minister Carolyn Bennett to the CBC and to the chiefs gathered at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations. Minister Bennett falsely stated that the specific claims process is being "overhauled" in favour of a new regime that has been jointly developed by First Nations.

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Apology Demanded from PM Trudeau for Comments to Secretary-Treasurer Kukpi7 Judy Wilson

Protest on Burnaby, April 7, 2018, affirms "No Consent, No Pipeline."

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:

We are writing to convey our absolute condemnation of your condescending and sexist response to UBCIC [Union of BC Indian Chiefs] Secretary-Treasurer Kukpi7 Judy Wilson yesterday afternoon [December 4] during the Assembly of First Nations meeting in Ottawa, Ontario.

Following your speech to the Assembly, Kukpi7 Wilson questioned you on Canada's decision to proceed with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX) despite a lack of consent from all impacted communities. Her question was clear, simple and entirely respectful.

In stark contrast, your comments were patronizing and offensive, as well as threatening. You responded by using her first name, which was completely disrespectful and ignored protocol. You stated, "I would be careful about minimizing or ascribing reasons for people who take positions that disagree with you ... I don't think we should be criticizing them, just because they disagree with you, Judy." You completely minimized the legitimate concerns that she was addressing around the lack of Indigenous consent and instead indicated that her concerns were personal in nature, an overtly sexist approach that attempted to normalize your dismissiveness.

In contrast, when you responded to Chief Lee Spahan's comments on the flawed Trans Mountain consultation process, you apologized and said, "We didn't do a good enough job." You also chose to follow protocol with him, and concluded your response with "Thank you, Chief," a title, you refused to recognize in your response to Kukpi7 Wilson.

Before colonization, Indigenous women in Canada were not thought of or treated as worth less than men. Sexual violence and harassment of Indigenous women was addressed through traditional laws and systems, and not accepted or expected at a societal level. Indigenous nations were forced to go through a cultural and family breakdown as a result of colonization, including a brutally repressive and genocidal system which created historical and ongoing trauma, with direct impacts to Indigenous women's safety and value in society as communities struggled to survive. Today, Indigenous women still face barriers to having their voices heard, still must ask to be included in political discussions that they should be part of, and still must ask for apologies.

Prime Minister Trudeau, we understand you call yourself a feminist and that you claim to be committed to reconciliation, and we question how you could treat Kukpi7 Wilson in such a dismissive, disdainful and arrogant manner. Your response to her yesterday, from the highest elected office in the country, runs the risk of sending a message to Canadians that it's ok to belittle, berate and lecture female Indigenous leaders. It sends a message that it's ok to continue these attacks towards our Indigenous women whether it is in the boardroom, meetings or dealing with issues on the land, and it runs the grave risk of discouraging Indigenous women to stand up to defend themselves.

In the wake of your comments, many people have contacted Kukpi7 Wilson to offer their support including Senators, Chiefs, Advisors and Policy Staff, who witnessed in person or on-line, and who took offence to her treatment. We are grateful and inspired by this support.

If your standard for moving forward is the "least, worst way" as you stated yesterday, then we do not think that you have achieved even that in your treatment of Kukpi7 Wilson.

We demand a full and immediate apology.

On behalf of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President
Chief Robert Chamberlin,
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson,

(December 5, 2018)

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Minister Bennett's False Statements Regarding
the "Joint Development" of a New Specific
Claims Process Condemned

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) unequivocally denounces the inaccurate and misleading statements made by Minister Carolyn Bennett to the national media and to the chiefs gathered at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations [AFN]. Minister Bennett has falsely stated that the specific claims process is being "overhauled" in favour of a new regime that has been jointly developed by First Nations.

Minister Bennett spoke to the CBC [on September 3] and [on September 4] to over 500 Chiefs attending the AFN Special Assembly in Ottawa, announcing that a new specific claims process has effectively been developed with the full cooperation of First Nations, and that this new process will emphasize collaboration and abandon the focus on Canada having breached its lawful obligations to First Nations.

These statements are absolutely false. The UBCIC and the BC Specific Claims Working Group are deeply concerned that Canada is continuing its longstanding pattern of unilateral action and willful misrepresentation regarding specific claims reform.

For the past two years, First Nations and their representative organizations have been in discussions regarding specific claims reform, following a damning report in 2016 by the Office of the Auditor General which concluded that the Specific Claims Branch was grossly mismanaging the specific claims process and creating significant new barriers to the resolution of hundreds of historic land-related grievances.

First Nations have identified Canada's conflict of interest as the largest barrier to claims resolution, as Canada adjudicates claims against itself. First Nations and their representatives have been in discussions with Canada stressing the need to develop a new, independent process which adheres to the principles in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. First Nations were promised that Canada had forwarded a proposal for an independent process to Cabinet for consideration, but there has been no movement forward for months.

Never have First Nations agreed to rid the process of its legal framework; the basis of specific claims is that Canada broke its own laws to protect Indigenous lands and assets and that Canada has outstanding lawful obligations to First Nations that must be addressed.

As such, First Nations now have to ask: What is this new process the Minister describes?

Meanwhile, the problems that have plagued the specific claims process for years continue to go unaddressed. For example:

Specific claims research funding, cut by 30 to 40 per cent nationwide by the Harper government in 2014, has not been restored, and the lack of funds means that many First Nations continue to be denied access to justice. As well, Canada is missing its own legislated three-year timelines to inform First Nations if their claims will be accepted for negotiations. While Canada downplays its missed deadlines by providing First Nations the option of taking their claims to the Specific Claims Tribunal, the appeal process for claims resolution created through legislation in 2008, Canada is refusing to provide First Nations with necessary funding to participate at the Tribunal, giving the majority of First Nations no recourse.

In the Auditor's 2016 report, it was noted that Canada repeatedly overstated its progress and achievements on specific claims. Following the report and the demands for accountability, First Nations hoped, cautiously, for an era of transparency and genuine cooperation. Minister Bennett's comments demonstrate that no such era has arrived. In fact, the inequities of specific claims reform may be continuing to worsen.

The UBCIC and the BC Specific Claims Working Group echo the sentiments of a late resolution that is on the floor today at the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly: we condemn any unilateral action by Canada. Further, we repeat the longstanding call for an independent specific claims process and demand that Canada move forward on its promise to support engagement to create one. Only an independent process will be able to resolve the conflict of interest that has resulted in the bias, inequity, delay, and unilateralism that have undermined specific claims processes for over 50 years.

(December 4, 2018)

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Grassy Narrows Youth Demand Action and Compensation For Canada's Crimes Against
Them and Their Community

Grassy Narrows youth take their demands to Parliament Hill, December 6, 2018.

A ground-breaking new report commissioned by Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation), released on December 5, presents irrefutable evidence that children and mothers of Grassy Narrows are suffering myriad and serious ongoing health problems as a result of consuming fish from the mercury-contaminated English-Wabigoon river system that runs through their territory. The report, prepared by well-known mercury expert Dr. Donna Mergler underlines that the people of Grassy Narrows are up to six times more likely to have debilitating health issues, such as allergies, asthma, neurological disorders, ear infection, vision difficulties and other health issues which lead to depression and mental health issues that are among the main reasons for suicide among the youth of the community.

Grassy Narrows is located about 100 kilometres northeast of Kenora. In the 1960s and '70s, the former owners of a mill, located upstream from the community, in Dryden, dumped industrial effluent containing mercury into the English-Wabigoon river system, causing long-term health problems for the community and wrecking the livelihoods of the people who earned their living as fishing guides.

A report earlier this year focussing on the adults of the First Nation showed that only 21 per cent of people in Grassy Narrows reported their health as being "good or excellent," compared to 40 per cent in other Ontario First Nation communities, and 60 per cent of non-Indigenous people in Canada.

The report also underscores the levels of poverty suffered in the community, noting that among mothers of children 4-11 years old, half have incomes of less than $20,000, and two-thirds live with daily food insecurity.

Grassy Narrows Chief Rudy Turtle once again demanded action and compensation from the federal government after the release of the report:

I am calling on Trudeau to commit today to fairly compensate all our people for the ongoing mercury crisis which has impacted yet another generation of our children decades after it should have been stopped ... Support us in ensuring that our bright children can expect the same successful futures that other children in Canada take for granted by urgently implementing all of Dr. Mergler's recommendations, including programs for food security and extra resources for the school.

Rodney Bruce Jr., a 24-year-old youth in the community, recently stated: "I've always been taught that if you do something wrong, you have to fix it. And I believe Trudeau and government have to step up and do what's right by compensating everyone on the English and Wabigoon Rivers."

Government after government, both in Ontario and at the federal level, have carried out one study after another but have done nothing to declare a state of emergency and take the warranted action to ensure the health and well-being and right to be of the Ojibway people of Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek.

 According to Prime Minister Trudeau's January 17, 2017 statement the crisis in Grassy Narrows is a priority for his government and his government would "deal with this issue once and for all." It is scandalous that an internal briefing note issued by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada right after Trudeau's "pledge" stated that in Grassy Narrows "no children were at risk" and that "[a]ccording to Health Canada, and their review of the health and mercury related data accumulated over the past 45 years, there is no data to confirm whether there is a greater rate of disability or significant health problems, in comparison to other First Nations, in Grassy Narrows at this time." The briefing note goes on to state that "Health Canada is responsible for, and is actively, monitoring water quality, the safety of the food supply and health risks to the community"

The previous Harper government even suspended monitoring of the English-Wabigoon River by Health Canada altogether.

It is criminal that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated, "Canada will continue to call out the unfair treatment of racial and ethnic minorities, of women and girls, of Indigenous peoples," at the United Nations Nelson Mandela Forum on September 24, when people's actual experience shows that these are empty words and that the opposite is true.

To date some five per cent of the members of the community have received compensation for the suffering they have endured and continue to endure, and paltry compensation at that.

The Grassy Narrows youth have been at the forefront of defending their rights as an Indigenous people. They have led Canada's longest-standing Indigenous logging blockade, walked thousands of kilometres for water protection, and led marches of thousands in Toronto for mercury justice and too have become accomplished nurses, teachers, powwow dancers, artists and athletes.

In the wake of the newest report, they are calling for a national phone and petition campaign to demand that everyone "Call PM Trudeau at 613-992-4211 and ask him to take action on the demands of the community for their rights and to compensate them for the crimes that have been committed by the Canadian state to deny them their basic right to be and to have a bright future for themselves and their community.

Grassy Narrows youth on Parliament Hill, December 6, 2018.

(With files from CBC, Freegrassy.net. Photos: NAN)

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Canada Must Respect the Rights of
Unist'ot'en Land Defenders

March in Vancouver, December 10, 2018.

While some First Nation leaders raised the issue of title at the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly on December 4, hereditary chiefs and clan members of the Unist'ot'en are already exercising it, APTN reports.

With the support of their hereditary chiefs and clan members of the Wet'suwet'en Nation in BC, for the past eight years, Unist'ot'en chiefs have re-occupied part of their territory in part to say No! to multiple proposed pipeline projects that would run through their lands. On November 26, Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd. -- the TransCanada subsidiary building an LNG pipeline through Wet'suwet'en territory with the approval of local Indian Act chiefs and councils -- applied for an injunction that prohibits the Unist'ot'en from continuing that occupation of their lands and served the Unist'ot'en camp with notice for a civil lawsuit. There are now fears that the RCMP could decide to physically remove the Unist'ot'en from their lands to make way for the pipeline.

Demonstration at Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd. offices in Vancouver, December 10, 2018.

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs issued a statement denouncing this move and upholding the hereditary rights of the Unist'ot'en to protect their territories. "The Unist'ot'en camp is a non-violent gathering of Indigenous land defenders and members of the Unist'ot'en house group in Wet'suwet'en territory in northern BC. Under the authority of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, these land defenders are actively practicing their inherent Indigenous Title and Rights to protect the land and pursue their right to self-determination. Coastal GasLink is seeking an interim, interlocutory or permanent injunction, as well as financial damages against the Unist'ot'en land defenders for 'occupying, obstructing, blocking, physically impeding or delaying access' to their proposed project site," the statement explains. It continues:

"A central tenant to the standards and rights affirmed within the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which both Canada and BC have endorsed and committed to implement, is the right of Indigenous peoples to protect their lands and territories, to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with the lands and to own, use, develop and control those lands. Article 8 of the UN Declaration calls on States to provide effective mechanisms for prevention of any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing Indigenous peoples of their lands, territories or resources."

Checkpoint at entrance to Unist'ot'en territory.

TML Weekly joins the Union of BC Indian Chiefs in calling on the Canadian justice system "to uphold the human rights and dignity of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous land defenders must be treated with respect and must have their right to defend their lands and territories from the impacts of industry and climate change recognized and protected. The federal and provincial governments, industry and the various policing agencies have the responsibility to uphold the principles and standards of the UN Declaration and to respect the inherent Title and Rights of Indigenous Land Defenders."

Solidarity action in Toronto with Unist'ot'en, December 10, 2018.

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UN Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

There Is Nothing Safe, Orderly or Regular
About Migration Today

The biggest ever meeting of UN member states on international migration was held in Marrakech, Morocco on December 10-11. The UN's Special Representative for International Migration, Canadian Louise Arbour, chaired the conference. She said the initiative "emerged from the intolerable sight of large numbers of migrants losing their lives, and of a growing perception that governments had lost control of their borders."

The conference was attended by over 2,500 participants, including government officials, representatives of business, labour unions, "civil society," mayors and others, plus around 800 journalists. The outcome was the approval of a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration by 164 of the 193 UN member states. Also referred to as the Marrakech Compact, it will be presented to the UN General Assembly for its endorsement in the coming week.

The Marrakech Conference was convened under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly and held pursuant to Resolution 71/1 of September 19, 2016, entitled "New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants," which called for launching a process of intergovernmental negotiations leading to the adoption of the Global Compact for Migration. Following 18 months of "discussions and consultations" the Global Compact was finalized in July with the buy-in of UN member states, with the notable exception of the U.S. which removed itself from the process in December 2017 saying such a Compact was incompatible with U.S. immigration policy.

Several countries would later follow suit, despite having agreed to the pact that emerged from the negotiations, with a number of these pulling out of the conference at the very last minute. Those who refused to sign the Global Compact include: Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland. Brazil's incoming Foreign Minister has said that when president-elect Jair Bolsonaro is installed in January 2019 his government will withdraw from the pact.

Contents of the Global Compact

The Global Compact sets out 23 objectives in statements such as:

- Minimize the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin.
- Facilitate fair and ethical recruitment and safeguard conditions that ensure decent work.
- Prevent, combat and eradicate trafficking in persons in the context of international migration.
- Use migration detention only as a measure of last resort and work towards alternatives.
- Provide access to basic services for migrants.
- Eliminate all forms of discrimination and promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration.

Each objective contains a commitment, followed by "a range of actions considered to be relevant policy instruments and best practices" for implementing it.

The UN says the Global Compact represents the "first-ever global framework aimed at fostering greater international cooperation to better address the complex situation facing the world's 258 million migrants -- 3.4 per cent of its population." Louise Arbour called the adoption of the Compact "the expression of multilateralism at its best" and a re-affirmation of the values and principles embodied in the UN Charter and in international law. At the same time it was clear she knew there were those who were not impressed by this assessment. Referring to some of these she decried what she called "the toxic, ill-informed narrative that too often persists when it comes to migrants." She repeatedly pointed out that the document is purely aspirational and contains nothing they cannot sign. In this regard she reiterated, as did other UN officials, what the Compact was not:

- It creates no right to migrate;
- It places no imposition on States;
- It does not constitute so-called 'soft' law;
- It is not legally binding;
- It expressly permits States to distinguish -- as they see fit -- between regular and irregular migrants, in accordance with existing international law.

Fictional Narratives and a Diversionary Debate

Fights taking place within the ruling circles of Europe over the Global Compact are frequently described in terms of "populist," "anti-immigrant" and "far right" forces doing battle with those that have more liberal views on immigration like Germany's Christian Democratic Union led by Angela Merkel. A November 30 article in Politico titled, "Under far-right pressure, Europe retreats from UN migration pact," states:

A previously obscure 34-page, jargon-filled document is causing political convulsions across Europe -- even though it's not even legally binding.... From the Netherlands through Belgium and Germany to Slovakia, the pact has triggered infighting in ruling parties and governments, with at least one administration close to [the] breaking point.

The fight over the pact is an indication of the crisis in which the UN and all institutions based on old arrangements are mired. It is a fact that migration remains a combustible issue across Europe, three years after the 2015 refugee crisis and with the May 2019 European Parliament election on the horizon. However, to declare that the problem could be dealt with if only "far-right parties" and some "mainstream parties" were not so keen to make migration their key campaign issue is diversionary. According to the current narrative, "far right parties" are "populist," spawn xenophobia, narrow nationalism and allegedly appeal to the uneducated strata of working people who are backward and self-serving. The working people who bear the brunt of the anti-social offensive which makes the rich richer and the poor poorer, are blamed as being anti-immigrant or anti-natural environment. All of it is done to divert attention from the need for modern definitions of rights and new arrangements which end the clash between the conditions and the authorities in place. The disinformation is made complete when some calling themselves mainstream parties have sought to steal the so-called thunder of those described as "far right" parties by also turning against the agreement. Those who claim to be liberals and centrists have reduced themselves to arguing that the agreement poses no harm and migration is best handled through international cooperation which does not in fact exist.

All of it reveals a marked refusal to analyze the causes of the developments taking place worldwide which have exacerbated a migration crisis. The unfettered neo-liberal agenda and inter-imperialist strivings for hegemony as oligopolies and finance capital maraud and cause peoples to be expropriated, wars, famines, and every kind of crisis imaginable, are also responsible for the exacerbation of the migration crisis. New arrangements are required based on facts of life, not fictional narratives. Concrete measures which uphold human rights are a matter of life and death. It is not a matter of passing aspirational documents in the hopes that they set standards even if they are not legally binding.

The crisis of human rights is in part due to the aspirational nature of the documents, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights itself, which permits the greatest violators of human rights to portray themselves as their greatest defenders. But it is also because there are no repercussions for human trafficking, new forms of enslaved labour and attempts to divide the peoples of the world on every conceivable basis so that their resistance remains ineffective. The blame-game between a so-called far right and those who are said to be centrists, left of centre, right of centre or advocates of rules-based systems is also a serious problem. It has the singular effect of making sure the peoples of the world can take no initiatives except those their governments permit. What are called liberal democratic standards of peace, order and good government are pushed even though in the 21st century neo-liberal world the interests of the oligopolies have been politicized and have taken over decision-making at the level of not only governments but international agencies as well including the UN. The liberal democratic standards spoken about are not only fictional but in complete denial that it is precisely these arrangements which have given rise to the migration crisis in the first place as well as to what are called far right zealots. The latter also seek to protect a fictional way of life. Both are incapable of coping  with the conditions that exist and the clash between conditions and authority.

In Canada the cartel parties in the Parliament also have lined up on one side or the other of the diversionary debate. The Trudeau Liberals speak of the Global Compact in glowing terms. In a speech to the conference in Morocco, Canada's Minister of Citizenship, Refugees and Immigration Ahmed Hussen praised the Compact's support for "a rules-based international order" and an approach that is "evidence-based, human rights-based, gender-responsive and child-sensitive." After listing a number of things Canada is doing in line with what the Compact advocates, he fired a shot at the opposition Conservatives saying the Compact was "above partisan politics" and should not be used as a political weapon, pointing out that Canada relies on immigration to "help grow our economy, which helps grow our middle class and our common prosperity." All of it covers up that Canada's treatment of immigrants, migrants and those seeking refugee status and asylum is deplorable. Canada is favouring so-called guest workers -- a new form of enslaved labour with no right to security, health care, protection from individuals, agencies and legal predators who have been given free rein to profit from the new trafficking in human beings.

Meanwhile Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said that the Global Compact presents a threat to Canada's sovereignty by giving influence over Canada's immigration system to "foreign entities." He said it "could open the door to foreign bureaucrats telling Canada how to manage our borders" -- apparently without irony, as Canada's integration into U.S. Homeland Security gives foreigners the right to do just that. Both the Liberals and the NDP accuse Scheer of fearmongering and misleading Canadians about the Compact.

For his part, Maxime Bernier who split from the Conservatives to found the rival People's Party of Canada, which is being promoted to the hilt by the establishment forces as a viable political choice, sponsored an e-petition to the House of Commons calling on the government to withdraw from the Global Compact. Andrew Scheer said if he becomes prime minister he will do just that.

The UN is attempting to bring order to a situation that is out of its control. The interests of powerful economic, social and military forces associated with neo-liberal globalization are behind this crisis. The consequences of their striving for domination include nation-wrecking, wars of aggression and wholescale destruction of what they cannot control. Recognition of human rights or rights in any form do not enter into it. Nonetheless, the UN is appealing to their conscience and calling on governments in their service to be "good actors" and not "bad actors" in their approach to dealing with international migration. Those who are refusing to sign on to the aspirational Global Compact are denounced for their "racist," "xenophobic" and "anti-immigrant" attitudes and policies while those who approve it are praised for upholding a more humane, "rights-based" approach, representing multilateralism at its very best.

In other words, the UN is attempting to make liberal democracy function and deliver results like a "rules-based international order" and "human rights" when the conditions for this do not exist. Those who claim to be the biggest champions of liberal democracy resort to ruling by police powers with the likes of NATO and private security agencies taking over on every front to keep the peoples' forces in check -- both at home and abroad -- to maintain their own positions of power and privilege.

A Fight Between the Old and the New

Meanwhile, the people's forces are themselves rising to speak in their own name, undeterred by the names they are called or the motives ascribed to them. The peoples' opposition to the conditions which have been imposed on them will not be contained by appeals to models of democracy under whose auspices all of the crimes being committed worldwide are taking place. A modern democratic personality will emerge from the fight to bring into being an authority that is consistent with the conditions in which the modern conception of rights brings in arrangements that recognize the people as the decision-makers and the makers of their own history.

The contradictions that have arisen surrounding global migration and all other problems in today's world cannot be resolved without the working peoples of the entire world being at the centre of the solutions. Today, as a result of the neo-liberal global "labour market," the working people have become one mighty human force operating to bring about change that favours them. This is not a fight between the far right and moderate centre, between barbarism and civilization. It is a fight between the Old and the New. It is not being fought on old premises and old lines of march, but on its own terms.

It is not the working peoples of the world who are the enemy. Blaming their resistance and their choices for all the problems taking place is the same old racist and colonial outlook which demands that the so-called backward races and "the mobs" submit to what the rulers tell them. It is not going to happen.

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For Your Information

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration approved in Marrakech refers to migrants of all types with the stated aim of "reduc[ing] the incidence and negative impact of irregular migration through global cooperation." The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs states with respect to migrants:

While there is no formal legal definition of an international migrant, most experts agree that an international migrant is someone who changes his or her country of usual residence, irrespective of the reason for migration or legal status. Generally, a distinction is made between short-term or temporary migration, covering movements with a duration between three and 12 months, and long-term or permanent migration, referring to a change of country of residence for a duration of one year or more.

The preamble to the Global Compact states that it rests on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the UN's other core international human rights treaties as well as other conventions. It indicates that refugees and migrants, while entitled to the same universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, which must be respected, protected and fulfilled at all times, are distinct groups governed by separate legal frameworks. Only refugees are entitled to the specific international protection as defined by international refugee law. A separate compact pertaining to refugees is expected to be endorsed by the General Assembly later this month.

According to the second edition of the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers launched last week, in 2017 there were an estimated 258 million international migrants of all types worldwide (with refugees included in this case). Of these, 164 million were categorized as migrant workers, which the ILO said represented an increase of nine per cent over its 2013 estimates.

The ILO also reported that more than 60 per cent of all migrant workers are found in three subregions of the world: Northern America (23.0 per cent), Northern, Southern and Western Europe (23.9 per cent) and the Arab States (13.9 per cent). The subregion with the largest share of migrant workers as a proportion of all workers is the Arab States (40.8 per cent), followed by Northern America (20.6 per cent) and Northern, Southern and Western Europe (17.8 per cent).

The Global Compact can be seen in full here.

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People's Movement Against Criminalization of Migrants in U.S.

Trump Authorizes Lethal Force by
Troops at the Border

Military at border between San Diego and Tijuana, December 10, 2018.

The White House issued a memo November 20 allowing troops stationed at the border to use lethal force, if necessary. The "Cabinet order," allows "Department of Defense military personnel" to "perform those military protective activities that the Secretary of Defense determines are reasonably necessary" to protect border agents, including "a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary), crowd-control, temporary detention and cursory search," according to the newspaper Military Times.

There are currently about 5,900 active-duty troops and 2,100 National Guard forces deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border. While the Pentagon has said the active-duty troops are mainly unarmed, this order indicates they could now be armed. U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis made this clear, saying, "We don't have guns in their hands right now," but "If I change the mission then something like that could happen." The order was also quickly followed by use of tear gas, a chemical weapon banned in warfare, against unarmed migrants, mainly women and children, on the Mexican side of the border.

"Some of those activities, including crowd control and detention, may run into potential conflict with the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act. If crossed, the erosion of the act's limitations could represent a fundamental shift in the way the U.S. military is used," the Military Times reports. The article emphasizes that Posse Comitatus "has evolved into a singly defining, almost church versus state-type wall forbidding active-duty forces under the control of the president from conducting any types of crowd control or law enforcement domestically, essentially ensuring that the U.S. military is not used to control or defeat U.S. citizens on U.S. soil."

It is significant that the Military Times, a main voice of the military, is emphasizing this "church versus state" wall and that Trump might be destroying it. It is reflective of the growing conflicts within the military and between the military and the president, the Commander-in-Chief. Even before the White House memo, Retired Admiral James Stavridis, former commander of the U.S. military's Southern Command, openly rejected Trump's "fictitious caravan invasion," the justification given for the troop deployment. Stavridis was also former Supreme Allied Commander for Europe and NATO and was vetted as a running mate for Hillary Clinton. While now retired, he remains a significant force openly against the president.

Trump has deployed the troops and issued the use of lethal force and detention order in part to force the compliance of the military. The deployment, where the military decides issues of searches, detention and lethal force, is a means to bring all the various federal policing agencies under military control. As Mattis brings out, he is the one deciding the mission. In many ways it can be considered a live military exercise to test the waters for potential martial law. When accompanied with expanding military detention camps and Trump's repeated claims of "invasion" and "violent criminals," the ground is clearly being laid for such a possibility. The problem is that martial law requires that the military and all the various policing agencies, which are always in great contention with each other, submit to the dictate of the president. Indications are that such an action could well trigger a more open civil war situation. This is especially true given the continuing battle with the various states, like California and New York, and the dysfunction of elections and Congress, which no longer serve to ease the conflicts among the rulers.

It is also the case the U.S. civil war is related to international wars, including in this case a potential invasion of Mexico. Trump's repeated claims about anarchy and violence in Mexico and the need to control the border are connected with this potential use of troops in Mexico. According to the Associated Press, in a conversation with former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto about "criminal gangs and drug lords," Trump threatened, "You aren't doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn't, so I just might send them down to take care of it." While he afterward said he was joking, given Mexico now has a new President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who is expected to oppose U.S. dictate, it could occur. In analyzing the situation, it is important to recognize the inter-relationship between U.S. civil war and U.S. wars abroad, as both influence each other.

The troop deployment is also aimed at the broad and persistent resistance defending the rights of migrants and more generally of all. When Mattis uses the example of an unarmed migrant "beating up" a highly armed border agent -- something that does not occur -- he is also preparing the ground to justify use of the military against protesters and migrants alike. It is well-known that police provocateurs are sent into demonstrations to break windows, or in this case throw stones, or get into fights with agents. Indeed, there is the recent case of the undercover cop posing as a demonstrator being beaten by other cops attacking the demonstrators. Given the growing unity of the resistance and their work together both sides of the border, such provocations are likely. No such justifications can be accepted, whether for attacking the peoples here or in Mexico.

Following one section or another of the ruling class into their civil war and more wars abroad is no solution. The internationalism currently being expressed at the border, where people both sides are joining to defend rights and across the country, where people are organizing supplies, housing refugee children and more, is the means to contend with U.S. attacks.

Further advancing the fight for an Anti-War Government, Peace Economy and A Democracy Where We Decide is a means forward. An anti-war government is an aim that recognizes the relationship between imperialist war and civil war and provides a way to block both, as does a peace economy. A democracy where we decide provides the means for rights to be guaranteed and for relations of mutual benefit. Now is the time to advance the work for an Anti-War Government, Peace Economy and A Democracy Where We Decide!

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United Actions Affirm Migrant Rights

San Diego-Tijuana border, December 10, 2018.

United actions at the southern border with Mexico and across the country marked Human Rights Day, December 10. Many cities in New York, Florida, Minnesota, Texas, California and elsewhere saw demonstrations defending the rights of migrants and of all human beings and denouncing the refusal of the U.S. government to uphold these rights. The way in which children are treated is an important standard for assessing the state of human rights in a country. The united actions made clear people across the country, from all walks of life, reject the brutal attacks on migrant children, including use of tear gas, separation of families, detention even of babies, and more. Signs brought out that these are crimes, and the stand of the people is No Crimes Against Humanity in Our Community!

The united mass actions across the country affirming human rights and affirming that organized resistance will continue contributes to the struggle worldwide for the human rights of all. It is an essential part of advancing society toward one that is fit for human beings.

San Diego, California

Denver, Colorado

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

(Photos: ASFC, PPC, NSMM, Abolish ICE)

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The Landscape of Immigration Detention in the U.S.

On any given day, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detains tens of thousands of individuals who are accused of violating U.S. immigration laws. ICE currently relies on a complex network of jails and jail-like facilities to confine these individuals.

The average daily population of immigrant detainees has increased more than fivefold in the past two decades. At the same time, immigration detention facilities have faced numerous civil and human rights violation complaints, including allegations of substandard medical care, sexual and physical abuse, and exploitative labour practices. Yet, the current administration has sought to further expand immigration detention. To assess the full implications of these expansion efforts, it is critical for policymakers and the public to understand fundamental aspects of the current U.S. detention system.

This report presents findings from an empirical analysis of immigration detention across the United States. We analyze government and other data on all individuals who were detained by ICE during fiscal year 2015, the latest fiscal year for which the federal government has released comprehensive data of this kind on immigration detention. Our analysis offers a detailed look at whom ICE detained, where they were confined, and the outcomes of their detention.

We find that ICE relied on over 630 sites scattered throughout the United States to detain individuals, often moving them from one facility to another. Our analysis reveals that individuals detained by ICE were commonly held in privately operated and remotely located facilities, far away from basic community support structures and legal advocacy networks.

The main findings presented in this report include:

A majority of detainees were men, from Mexico or Central America, and many detainees were juveniles.

- About 79 per cent of the detainees were men. The population as a whole was relatively young, with the average age of 28 (mean and median). Over 59,000 detainees -- about 17 per cent -- were under the age of 18.

- Mexican nationals by themselves made up about 43 per cent of the detainee population, and individuals from the Northern Triangle region of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras made up about 46 per cent of the detainee population.

ICE used one or more facilities in every state, with Texas and California having the highest number of facilities and detainees.

- Every state in the United States had at least one facility that ICE used to detain individuals in fiscal year 2015.

- The top five states in terms of the number of facilities used by ICE in fiscal year 2015 were Texas, California, Florida, New York, and Arizona. The top five states in terms of the detainee population were Texas, California, Arizona, Louisiana, and New Mexico.

Detention in privately operated facilities and in remotely located facilities was common.

- Many detainees were confined in more than one facility during their detention stay. About 67 per cent of all detainees were confined at least once in privately operated facilities. About 64 per cent of detainees were confined at least once in a facility located outside of a major urban area.

- About 48 per cent, 26 per cent, and 22 per cent of detainees were confined at least once in a facility that was located more than 60 miles, 90 miles, and 120 miles away, respectively, from the nearest nonprofit immigration attorney who practiced removal defence.

A majority of adult detainees experienced inter-facility transfers involving movements across different cities, states, or federal judicial circuits.

- Many adults were transferred between facilities during their detention, leading to confinement in multiple locations. About 60 per cent of adults who were detained in fiscal year 2015 experienced at least one inter-facility transfer during their detention.

- Of those adults who were transferred, about 86 per cent experienced at least one intercity transfer, 37 per cent experienced at least one interstate transfer, and 29 per cent experienced at least one transfer across different federal judicial circuits.

Detention length was significantly longer in privately operated facilities and in remotely located facilities.

- Among 261,020 adults who were released from detention during fiscal year 2015, the average detention length (mean) was about 38 days. More than 87,000 of these adults were detained longer than 30 days.

- Confinement in privately operated facilities and facilities located outside of major urban areas, respectively, was associated with significantly longer detention.

The number of grievances was significantly higher in privately operated facilities and in remotely located facilities.

- In fiscal year 2015, the ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations' Detention Reporting and Information Line (DRIL) received over 48,800 detention-facility related grievances from detainees and community members. The most common type of grievances involved access to legal counsel and basic immigration case information.

- Privately operated facilities and facilities located outside of major urban areas were associated with higher numbers of grievances.

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"Yellow Vest" Movement in France

Working People Protest Neo-Liberal Austerity
Agenda and Uphold the Rights of All

Brive, France, December 9, 2018.

Opposition to the broad anti-social offensive carried out against the French workers and people by the Hollande government and now the Macron government has come to a head in recent weeks. Despite French Prime Minister Eduard Philippe's declaration of a moratorium on the increase in energy taxes, "Act IV" of the mass demonstrations of the Gilets Jaunes, or Yellow Vests, went ahead on the December 8-9 weekend. In fact, even more demonstrators took to the streets in the face of the simultaneous unleashing of a militarized police force whose role was to quell and intimidate the people's forces with brutality and terror. It is clear that the Yellow Vests were having none of it and the protests spread throughout France and into other countries as well.

With thousands of mobilizations across France, with the focus on Paris, the monopoly-owned media have found it difficult to calculate the numbers, and even to report on the mobilizations in a coherent fashion. Nevertheless, it is estimated that over half-a-million people took part in wearing the yellow vests, the hi-vis jackets that all French drivers are obliged to keep in their cars for safety reasons. The wave of country-wide protests began on November 17, hence "Act IV" for the fourth weekend of protests in a row. "Act V" is still on for December 15.

At the heart of this movement are rank-and-file workers and in large part unorganized and low-skilled workers. Many strands of discontent have coalesced into the protests. Students and workers have swelled the ranks of the rural poor and the unemployed, who have continued to block roads around France. While Prime Minister Philippe was forced to scrap the planned fuel tax rise, saying, "No tax deserves to put civil peace in danger," this has by no means reined in the actions which highlight the demand for social and economic justice and an end to austerity. Particular emphasis has been put on demands for tax justice, with lower taxes for the poor and against tax cuts for the rich, and for wide social benefits to relieve the burden on the vulnerable and poor.

Toulouse, France.

Attempts by monopoly-owned media to say the workers are against a healthy environment or against immigrants have failed to sideline the protests and marginalize their thrust against the neo-liberal anti-social offensive. Students' demands also put forward the need to end rising administrative fees and new university admissions procedures.

It was reported that in Paris, hospital workers fighting for jobs also joined the Yellow Vests, while ongoing strikes in steel and in oil depots have added to the rising tide of discontent and protests.

The actions of the government and the stands of President Macron have given the lie to the claim that Macron represents the "moderate centre." This has become exposed as a bankrupt reference point favoured by neo-liberalism to justify dividing the polity into "left" and "right," both of which are portrayed as extremes, while claiming to occupy the "centre ground," which is supposedly where all good moderates should position themselves and succumb to the strictures of austerity.

"The range of slogans in the protests against November's petrol price increases -- Stop the taxes!, Macron's a pickpocket!, Working is becoming a luxury, Right and left = taxes, Stop the racket, the revolt of a powerful people may end in revolution -- suggests both the possible emergence of a political movement and the anger directed at taxation, the very foundation of the social state," Le Monde diplomatique wrote.

The actions of the Yellow Vests to say that Enough Is Enough! have shown that this outlook will not wash. President Macron is a proponent of making France competitive in the global market and he defines a centrist as being pro-business. Although he is the focus and main target of the Gilet Jaunes, he has been keeping in the background hoping that he can get away with not accounting for the bankruptcy of this self-serving outlook.

As in Britain for the working people the sentiment for Britain to leave the European Union represented their opposition to the anti-social offensive which sought to make them shoulder the burden of the chaos and crisis while the oligarchs and the financial elites enriched themselves at their expense, so in France the discontent is finding an outlet in the demonstrations and demands of all the different currents that are converging in the Yellow Vests. President Macron and his En Marche coalition and government are incapable of finding a way out of the chaos and crisis. They have been ruling by exception to give the police powers in France free rein to keep the people in check but this has not been able to stem the tide of protest against the anti-social offensive. The use of unfettered police powers along with agents provocateurs and the media to justify the criminalization of the protestors has thus far only fuelled the revolt. The French working people are definitely on the move. The numbers of people who are vulnerable and living in poverty, particularly children, single parents and the national minority communities, as well as the ordinary workers who dwell outside the big cities and in rural areas, have continued to rise.

One of the exacerbating factors has been the so-called anti-poverty plan Macron launched in September. Social programs have also been under attack, and unemployment and job insecurity have become a scourge. Macron's claim that "I don't want a plan that leaves the poor living in poverty, only more comfortably," has been exposed as a fraud, and he himself is seen for what he is, a president of the rich, while the political system is seen as clearly representing the police powers of the state to put the people down. According to news reports citing police sources, the number of people arrested since the mass protests began in November has surpassed 4,500, of whom some 4,100 still remain in police custody. In Act IV, on December 8 alone, close to 2,000 people were arrested, and all but around 300 taken into custody, many before the protests actually began. According to the government, these were part of "preventive control" measures.

The Gilets Jaunes are also rejecting the claim that the fuel tax hikes were to benefit the environment or for "green" projects as they are part of the project to pay the rich.

The crisis is also an indication of the deepening crisis in which the European Union itself is mired. What is happening in France puts the lie to the claim that the EU is the defender of rights and prosperity. People see the actions of the police forces in France as part of the militarization of life, which goes hand in hand with the militarization of the economy and the push to form a European Army, whether under the control of NATO or the EU. The French state expenditure on the military is reported to stand at nearly CAD$70 billion per year, funds which people see could be spent on social programs.

The mobilization of the working people of France is objectively against the old order and demands something different which does not make the working people the targets of attack. The working people and their allies are demanding that the rights of the working people be recognized and that the government must change course or be jettisoned. They reject the call to be "moderate" and take the centre ground as a big diversion to justify their criminalization. As 2018 comes to an end, the French people have joined the world-wide movement for empowerment. Despite attempts to say it is extremist, nationalist, anti-immigrant, anti-environment, violent and many other things, by persisting in their struggle, the people put the lie to all these claims. They are taking a firm stand in defence of the rights of all!

Protest closes Port in Rouen, December 12, 2018.

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Departure of Cuban Doctors from Brazil

Cuba Shows How Things Can Be Done Differently

Since November 23, Cuban doctors have been receiving warm welcomes as they return from Brazil. Cuba's government was forced to withdraw from the program Mais Médicos (More Doctors) in that country because of changes Brazil's president-elect Jair Bolsonaro said he intends to make to the contracts governing Cuba's participation. Cuba's Minister of Public Health José Ángel Portal greeted the first 200 of the more than 8,000 doctors who returned saying, "We know you are mourning all that you left behind, the patient you needed to follow up on, the community where health indicators were beginning to change, and you are also concerned about what will happen to the Brazilians left without health care. This is how the historic leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, taught you to think and act."

President Miguel Díaz-Canel who also was at the airport to greet the doctors said, "You return today as more than doctors, because in Brazil you not only saved lives, you also brought relief to the souls of a needy people, by giving your love, affection, and medical assistance." He said it was impossible to stand idly by in the face of an arrogant government, unable to understand that Cuba's doctors went to their country to serve the people, to take care of their health and their souls, not to earn money, even assuming positions that Brazilian doctors did not want in places where people had never before received medical attention.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel greets doctors returning from Brazil, November 23, 2018.

Speaking for a group of 203 doctors who arrived in Cuba on November 25, Dr. Félix Padilla Martínez spoke about the qualities a doctor must have -- exquisite sensitivity, humanity and a high moral level, saying these were the values imparted to them by the training they received. He said patients often expressed surprise at being treated like human beings for the first time by a doctor.

Another doctor told of working with Brazilian medical professionals who said they had voted for Bolsonaro, but after seeing how "in the blink of an eye" he dismantled the cooperation program with Cuba, realized how mistaken they had been.

Many others interviewed upon their return have mentioned the bonds of affection and trust developed with the humble families they lived among and served in Brazil, and their sadness at having to leave them, knowing some of them will likely never see a doctor again. The Cubans typically provided services in areas where Brazilian and other foreign doctors would not go -- the most impoverished, remote, and often dangerous places, as well as to special Indigenous districts and 700 municipalities where no doctor had ever set foot before in Brazil's history.

Since 2016, when he was a deputy, Jair Bolsonaro, who will assume the presidency on January 1, 2019 has homed in on the More Doctors program as part of his reactionary, anti-Communist discourse, falsely accusing Cuban medical personnel of being poorly trained, saying they are "slaves" and defaming them as "snakes," "mercenaries" and "agents."

In his eagerness to curry favour with the Trump administration he not only questioned the credentials and training of Cuba's doctors but said they would be required to revalidate their credentials by passing an exam in Brazil as a condition of continuing in the More Doctors program. Furthermore, they would have to enter into individual contracts, violating terms of the three-way agreement between the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Brazilian Ministry of Health and Cuba's Ministry of Public Health.

In response to these provocations Cuba's Ministry of Public Health announced on November 14 that the unacceptable conditions Brazil's president-elect intends to impose made it impossible for Cuba to continue in the More Doctors program.

Since Cuba announced it was pulling its more than 8,000 doctors out of the program, Bolsonaro and others of his ilk in Brazil and the U.S. have ramped up their insidious accusations about Cuba in an effort to shift to Cuba the blame for the death blow they themselves have delivered to the life-saving program for a significant portion of Brazil's population who will surely return to having no access to proper medical attention.

Much like the U.S. did under its Parole program in effect from 2006 until January last year, aimed at inducing Cuban doctors and other professionals to abandon their missions abroad and emigrate to the U.S., Bolsonaro has said he will "offer political asylum to thousands of Cuban doctors who do not want to return to their country," claiming he is acting in the doctors' best interests and defending their civil rights against the Cuban "dictatorship."

Granma points out that attempts like this to undermine and weaken one of Cuba's most valuable assets -- its professionals -- are not fortuitous or an isolated event but a clear signal that the attack has been cooked up with the U.S. This was confirmed when U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier applauded what Bolsonaro was doing.

In an attempt to set the record straight the publication Cubadebate has addressed some of the Brazilian president-elect's accusations, summarized below:

Does the Cuban Government appropriate the salaries of its doctors in Brazil?

The Brazilian government does not pay the doctors directly, but pays the PAHO for the services it has contracted Cuba's Ministry of Public Health to provide. The Ministry pays the doctors 100 per cent of their regular salaries in Cuba and ensures that the needs of their families are provided for during their absence. It also guarantees that they can return to their positions in Cuba upon their return from the mission and provides all the labour and social guarantees that are their due as workers in the Cuban health system.

While in Brazil participants receive a stipend to cover their personal expenses while the program covers their food, housing, transportation and health insurance.

Participants who chose to take part in the More Doctors program signed a contract with the Cuban Ministry of Public Health, as part of which they voluntarily agreed that part of the remuneration paid to the Cuban government for their services would not be claimed by themselves, but be used to strengthen Cuba's public health system in various ways. Their contributions have helped to finance the repair and rehabilitation of polyclinics and hospitals and to acquire inputs of various types, medicines and equipment for maternal and child care programs as well as programs such as those aimed at fighting serious diseases and conditions.

Participants' contributions help sustain the universal, free and quality services that Cuba's health system provides to all the people of Cuba, even as it is subject to a cruel economic, commercial and financial blockade that prevents the Cuban people from having access to these resources in another way. The doctors' contributions also help cover the cost of the material needs associated with training medical professionals not only for Cuba but for other countries, most of them poorer than Cuba, which it does at no cost.

Bolsonaro's attempt to turn the doctors into private contractors so they receive "their full salaries" with none of the remuneration going to the Cuban government for the purposes mentioned, far from being "for the good of the doctors" is nothing other than a deliberate attempt to enforce the criminal U.S. blockade by depriving Cubans of the resources needed to maintain their highly regarded public health care system -- something Brazilians can only wish they had available to them.

Does Cuba prevent the doctors from bringing their families to Brazil?

The response to this ill-intentioned charge is that Cuba does not prohibit participants from interacting with their families. Cuba points out that most of the doctors received visits from their families at different times during their stay in Brazil, with "thousands of family members" travelling there since the program began, while some 300 doctors had family members staying with them. Others, for one reason or another, have chosen not to visit or lacked the means to travel to Brazil. Cubadebate points out that it is in fact the rules of the program established by the Brazilian government that regulate the access that those who are not participants in the More Doctors program can have to the doctors, including living with them.

Bolsonaro has said one of the conditions he will impose is that Cuban doctors, especially mothers, must be able to bring their children with them while they work in Brazil. In 2016 it was none other than Bolsonaro, as a federal deputy, who attempted unsuccessfully to introduce legislation to prohibit family members from accompanying Cuban doctors participating in the More Doctors program from obtaining employment in Brazil and, in fact, tried to restrict their presence altogether "to limit opportunities for them to establish permanent ties in the country!"

What about the Cuban doctors' qualifications, exams they must take and the need to revalidate their credentials?

The Brazilian Law that governs the More Doctors program is clear as to how the licences of physicians are accredited, and the roles played by PAHO, Cuba's Ministry of Public Health and its medical schools in their accreditation.

The doctors must take examinations prior to travelling to Brazil and periodically during their stay -- all of them conducted by the Brazilian Ministry of Health. Cuban doctors, along with all other foreign doctors and Brazilians trained abroad, who work in the More Doctors program are exempted for three years from having to revalidate their credentials to be able to practice in Brazil.

Cubadebate calls Bolsonaro's call for the revalidation of the doctors' credentials a deceptive move, given that it is opposed by the Medical College of Brazil, and that out of every 100 doctors who take the exam, only eight pass. This, it points out, serves to keep the private health care market lucrative by restricting the number of physicians able to practice, with the result that many leave the country to find employment.

The newspaper Folha de São Paulo recently quoted a representative of the PAHO who rejects criticisms of the training received by Cuban doctors, many of whom, he said, already have experience working on other missions. Contrary to the insinuations of Bolsonaro, he said Cuba sent only experienced doctors to Brazil, never recent graduates. He pointed out that the mission was an emergency response to a dire shortage of medical professionals, especially in the interior of the country, where there were thousands of vacancies and a lack of Brazilian doctors interested in filling them.

Cubadebate makes a point of responding to Bolsonaro's ridiculous assertion about acting for "the good" of the Cuban doctors by saying if he wants to do some good he should start instead by standing up to the Medical College to resolve the problem of thousands of Brazilian medical graduates who are unable to practice and leave the country to search for employment because so few of them pass the revalidation exam.

And what "good" is done by inviting Cuban doctors to apply for asylum in Brazil, separating them from their families and their country under the pretext of wanting to keep them united? That invitation has a name Cubadebate says: brain drain.

Despite this attempt by reactionary forces, such as Brazil's incoming president and the anti-Cuban mafia in the U.S. with which he has aligned himself, to isolate and create more hardships for Cuba, all they have succeeded in doing is to further discredit themselves and expose their wretched hypocrisy which, among other things, have grave repercussions for the Brazilian people, millions of whom will be deprived of desperately needed health care services.

Meanwhile Cuba's prestige is raised even higher as the selfless, internationalist service its doctors and others perform around the world out of the profound sense of solidarity their revolution has inculcated in them becomes more widely known.

(Granma, Aler.org Photos: Granma, Siempre concuba, Mais médicos)

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Note to Readers

With this issue, TML Weekly completes its publication for 2018. It will resume on January 19, 2019. We wish you a safe holiday and time to reflect on the serious developments taking place in Canada and around the world, and how to effectively intervene in the new year.

Please continue to send us your reports, photos and views, and keep up to date with the CPC(M-L) website and calendars of events for important announcements.

As of December 17, the TML Daily 2018 month-by-month Photo Reviews will begin being posted on the website, as part of taking stock of what took place and was achieved this year.

We thank you for your support in 2018 and call on you to double it in the new year.

Best wishes,

The Technical and Editorial Staff of TML Weekly

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