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Clintonians Flock With Vultures Over Argentina July 24, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Argentina, Congo, Economic Crisis, Latin America, Peru.
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Roger’s note: I confess to an intense dislike of the Clintons and their retinue.  Whereas right wing ideologues and bigots make no secret of where they stand, the Clinton crowd pose as progressives as they and their close friends and supporters become millionaires whilst enacting and promoting policies that are damaging to the constituencies they claim to represent.  From Bill the president we had drastic welfare reductions camouflaged as “reforms,” and the deregulation that led to the 2008 economic crisis that resulted in thousands losing their homes.  From Hillary the Secretary of State we had super hawk foreign policy, a continuation of the Monroe Doctrine in Latin America, and support for military coup d’etat in Honduras, Egypt and now the Ukraine —  all in the service of US corporate and geopolitical interests.  A pox on their house.

 

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By OpEdNews Op Eds 7/24/2014 at 15:16:53

It is no surprise that right-wing Republican and hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer should be trying to wring hundreds of millions of dollars out of Argentina for a debt that Buenos Aires doesn’t really owe him. He screwed tens of millions of dollars out of poverty-stricken Peru and the Republic of Congo using the same financial sleight of hand. What may surprise people, however, is that key leaders in the administration of former President Bill Clinton are helping him do it.

Singer, who owns Elliot Management, a $17 billion hedge fund, is the leading “vulture investor” — a financial speculator who buys up the bonds of debt strapped nations for pennies on the dollar and then demands payment in full. When Argentina defaulted on its foreign debt in 2001, Singer moved in and bought up $48 million in bonds. He is now demanding that those bonds be paid at full-face value — $1.5 billion — plus interest and fees. It is a move that could derail Argentina’s long climb back into solvency, as well as undermine debt settlements worldwide.

A recent decision by federal District Judge Thomas Griesa in Manhattan may not only force Argentina to pay the vultures, it could unravel a 2006 debt deal between Buenos Aires and other creditors. Under the highly controversial principle of “pari passu” (“equal ranking among creditors”), if the vultures are compensated, so must all the other creditors, even those who settled back in 2006. That bill could reach $15 billion. Given that Argentina has only about $28 billion in foreign reserves, the tab could send Buenos Aires into a recession or force the country into bankruptcy.

The “sleight of hand” involves the fact that the countries the vultures prey on are not really in debt to creditors such as Singer and Eric Hermann of FH International Asset Management LLC. The hedge funds look for distressed countries, then buy their debt at bargain basement prices and sit on it. In the meantime, other creditors cut a deal to take a reduced payment on their bonds, which in turn helps improve the debtor’s economy and allows it to emerge from default.

That’s when the vultures sue, threatening to shut down outside aid programs, seize assets and freeze debtor nations out of international finance if they don’t pay up. Recent examples involving Singer include the Republic of Congo being forced to pay him $90 million on a $10 million investment. Singer’s investment of $48 million in Argentina’s debt would net him a 1,608 percent profit if Buenos Aires pays in full. Peru was similarly plundered.

It is more than dollars and cents at stake in all this. As journalist Greg Palast points out, “In Congo-Brazzaville [the capital of the Republic of Congo] last year, one-fourth of all deaths of children under five were caused by malnutrition.” That $90 million might have made a difference.

Singer’s rap sheet is consistent with hard-nosed vulture tactics. He is a leading Republican fundraiser, and a member — along with former Vice President Dick Cheney and Iraq War designer Richard Perle — of the right-wing Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. He helped bankroll Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and is a bitter critic of “unpayable” social welfare programs, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

But the people who head up the main lobbying organization behind Singer’s current campaign, the American Task Force Argentina (ATFA), sit on the high councils of the Democratic Party and would likely be part of any Hillary Clinton administration.

The task force is essentially a front for several vulture funds, conservative and libertarian business groups, and agricultural organizations, like the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, which would like to damage Argentina’s cattle export business. And its executive director is Robert Raben, former counsel for liberal Congressman Barney Frank, Democratic counsel for the House Subcommittee on the Constitution and assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration.

ATFA’s two co-chairs are Clinton’s former undersecretary of commerce, Robert Shapiro, and Clinton appointee to the United Nations Nancy Soderberg. Shapiro was an adviser to Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign and a senior adviser to Al Gore’s 2000 run for the White House. Soderberg, who served as a senior foreign policy adviser to Sen. Edward Kennedy, was also a member of Clinton’s National Security Council and an alternative representative to the U.N. with the title of ambassador. She is currently a Democratic Party activist in Florida and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Raben, Soderberg and Shapiro have written numerous opinion pieces on Argentina using their Clinton administration credentials and, depending on the publication, have not always disclosed their lobbying ties. The three snookered the progressive Huffington Post into running opinion pieces until journalists Christina Wilkie and Ryan Grim uncovered their ties to ATFA. HuffPo subsequently removed the articles from its website.

Because of the huge debt burdens borne by nations from Latin America to Europe, the Griesa decision has opened up a Pandora’s box of trouble. A number of financial institutions and countries — including the International Monetary Fund and organizations representing 133 nations — have condemned the vultures or filed amici curiae briefs on behalf of Argentina, fearing that the decision could chill future debt negotiations and threaten economies trying to work themselves out of the red.

Given the ongoing hangover from the 2007-08 international meltdown, there is a lot of vulture food out there.

The key role being played by important Democratic Party activists in this cruel business — for there is no other word to describe taking money from countries struggling to emerge from debt and recession — may seem contradictory. And yet it was the Clinton administration that deregulated national and international finance and fought so hard for policies that ended up impoverishing some of the countries the vultures are now preying on.

In the 1990s, the Clinton administration pushed Argentina to privatize its state-owned industries, tie its currency to the dollar and institute the “Washington Consensus” of combining tax cuts with austerity. The result was economic disaster. From 1998 to 2002 Argentina’s economy shrank 20 percent and half the population fell below the poverty line.

Buenos Aires defaulted on its $100 billion debt in order to staunch the hemorrhage and pull the country out of an economic death spiral. In 2006, it negotiated a deal with 92.4 percent of its debt holders to pay 30 and 50 cents on the dollar. It was that deal that drew the vultures, which swooped in, scooped up some of the debt and then refused to accept the settlement.

The 2001 default blocked Argentina from tapping into international finance to tide it over until the economy recovered, but policies to end austerity and increase government spending eventually did the job. The economy grew at an average rate of 6 percent from 2002 to 2012 and Argentina paid off the IMF in 2006 and the Paris Club countries (representing the world’s 20 largest economies) in 2014.

But the vultures now threaten to undo much of this.

The Obama administration has come down on the side of Argentina because it is worried that financial institutions will shift their business to London if “pari passu” is allowed to stand. Hillary Clinton, however, has been quiet on the subject of international debt and Argentina. Given that her husband’s administration helped push Argentina off the cliff, that is hardly a surprise.

What is disquieting is that Clinton and people such as Raben, Shapiro and Soderberg have an economic philosophy that many times marches in step with that of Wall Street.

According to The New York Times, the financial sector was the second largest contributor to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 run for the White House. She is also close to the center-right Third Way think tank that advocates cutting Social Security and tends to be allergic to financial regulations. It is hard to imagine a Hillary Clinton administration stacked with Wall Street insiders and hedge fund lobbyists coming down on the vultures.

Clinton’s most recent comment on the debt crisis was to complain that she and Bill were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001, rhetorically putting herself in the same boat as tens of millions of indebted people in the U.S. and around the world. “Dead broke” in Chappaqua, N.Y., is not quite the same as “dead broke” in Brazzaville, or in the growing number of homeless encampments around the U.S.

Argentina is currently negotiating a compromise with the vultures, who have Buenos Aires over a barrel. The country desperately needs outside financing to exploit its huge Vaca Muerta gas reserves and to underwrite agricultural exports. “These hedge funds are equipped with an instrument [the New York court decision] that forces struggling countries into submission,” saysEric LeCompte, executive director of the anti-poverty religious organization Jubilee USA Network.

Countries are wising up to the hedge funds. Many of them now require that a debt agreement include a collective action clause (CAC), in which a majority or two-thirds vote by creditors is binding on all and would block a handful of vultures from tying up agreements. Because they signal economic fragility however, the CACs will string out negotiations and may result in higher interest rates.

In the meantime, the vultures have backed Buenos Aires against the wall. At a minimum, Democratic candidates for the presidency should make it clear that they stand with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. One way would be to endorse campaigns by organizations such as Oxfam and Jubilee to forgive foreign debt, and to make it clear they will also press for financial regulations to block vulture speculation.

In the world, vultures are estimable creatures. There is a “yuck” factor, but at least they wait until their prey are dead before making a meal of them, and they do clean up after themselves. The vultures of Wall Street prey on the living and leave behind an unspeakable mess.

Read more of independent journalist Conn Hallinan’s work at his blog, Dispatches from the Edge.

Conn M. Hallinan is a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus, “A Think Tank Without Walls, and an independent journalist. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. He oversaw the (more…)

A Second Wave of Genocide Looms in Congo, with Susan Rice on Point November 28, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Congo, Foreign Policy, Genocide, Libya, Rwanda, Uganda.
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Roger’s note: Susan Rice, who is Obama’s current nominee to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, is appaently as hawkish as they come and would fit comfortably into a McCain or Romney Republican administration.  To distinguish between Obama’s foreign policy and that of the Republicans would require a pretty powerful microscope.  Elsewhere, Glen Ford compares her to Clearance Thomas.  But she has served only under Democrat presidents.  It’s called our two party system.  Recent reports indicate that she holds significant investments in more than a dozen Canadian oil companies and banks that would stand to benefit from expansion of the North American tar sands industry and construction of the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline (cf. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/susan-rice-keystone-pipeline_n_2207861.html)

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford, Wed, 11/28/2012 – 13:14

Susan Rice has abetted the Congo genocide for much of her political career.”

The invasion of the Democratic Republic of Congo by U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda, in 1996, set in motion a genocide that left six million Congolese dead. Another wave of mass killings now looms with this month’s capture of Goma, an eastern Congolese city of one million, by “rebels” under Rwandan and Ugandan control. “People need to be clear who we are fighting in the Congo,” said Kambale Musavuli, of Friends of Congo. “We are fighting western powers, the United States and the United Kingdom, who are arming, training and equipping the Rwandan and Ugandan militaries.” The main player in suppressing information on Congo’s neighbors’ role in the ongoing genocide, is U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice.

Rice has fought a two-front battle to protect Washington’s murderous clients, delaying publication of a UN Group of Experts report on Washington’s clients’ depredations in Congo, and at the same time subverting efforts within the State Department to rein in Uganda and Rwanda. Last week, Rice blocked the UN Security Council from explicitly demanding that Rwanda immediately cease providing support to M23 rebels who vowed to march all the way to Kinshasa, the Congolese capital.

Susan Rice has abetted the Congo genocide for much of her political career. Appointed to President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council in 1993, at age 28, she rose to assistant secretary of state for African affairs in 1997 as Rwanda and Uganda were swarming across the eastern Congo, seizing control of mineral resources amid a sea of blood. She is known to be personally close to Rwanda’s minority Tutsi leadership, including President Paul Kagame, a ruthless soldier trained at the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and mentored by Ugandan strongman (and Reagan administration favorite) Yoweri Museveni, who is believed to have pioneered the use of child soldiers in modern African conflicts.

Rice said not a word about ethnic cleansing and racial pogroms against black Libyans and sub-Saharan African migrant workers.”

On the outside during the Bush years, Rice became a fierce advocate of “humanitarian” military intervention in Africa, urging air and sea attacks on Sudan and championing the U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, in 2006. A senior foreign policy advisor on Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign team, Rice made it no secret she hoped to be named secretary of state. As UN ambassador, she is the administration’s top gun on Africa, the focus of her outsized aggressions. Rice is widely credited with convincing Obama to launch NATO’s bombing campaign for regime change in Libya. She parroted false media reports that Muammar Gaddafi’s troops were raping Libyan women with the aid of massive gulps of Viagra, refusing to back down even when U.S. military and intelligence officials told NBC news “there is no evidence that Libyan military forces have been given Viagra and engaging in systematic rape against women in rebel areas.” Yet, Rice said not a word about ethnic cleansing and racial pogroms against black Libyans and sub-Saharan African migrant workers, including the well-documented erasure of the black city of Tawergha.

Susan Rice’s “humanitarian” instincts, like her boss’s, are highly selective – so much so, that a genocide equal to or greater than the Nazi’s liquidation of European Jewry is invisible to her. More accurately, Rice labors mightily to render the genocide in Congo invisible to the world, suppressing release or discussion of reports on Rwanda and Uganda’s crimes.

Rice labors mightily to render the genocide in Congo invisible to the world.”

The first document, a “Mapping Report,” described human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1993 through 2003. Finally published by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in October of 2010, after long delays, the document specifically charges Rwandan troops with engaging in mass killings “that might be classified as crimes of genocide.” The more recent report by a UN Group of Experts concludes that M23, the Congolese “rebel” group that captured Goma, is actually “a Rwandan creation,” embedded with Rwandan soldiers that take their orders from Paul Kagame’s military. Uganda also supports M23.

Susan Rice, as an energetic protector and facilitator of genocide, should be imprisoned for life (given that the death penalty is no longer internationally sanctioned). But of course, the same applies to her superiors, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. One would think that the Congressional Black Caucus would be concerned with the threat of a second wave of mass killings in Congo. Not so. A Google search fails to reveal a word of complaint from the Black lawmakers about genocide in Congo or suppression of documentation of genocide – or much of anything at all about Africa since the death of New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne, ranking member of the House Subcommittee on African Affairs, in March of this year.

One would think that the Congressional Black Caucus would be concerned with the threat of a second wave of mass killings in Congo. Not so.”

Instead, incoming Congressional Black Caucus chair Marcia Fudge, of Cleveland, held a press conference with female Caucus members to defend Rice, “a person who has served this country with distinction,” from Republican criticism of her handling of the killing of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. “We will not allow a brilliant public servant’s record to be mugged to cut off her consideration to be secretary of state,” said Fudge.

In the Congressional Black Caucus’ estimation, Rice’s “record” as chief warmonger in Africa and principal suppressor of the facts on genocide in Congo makes her a role model for African Americans, especially young Black women.

Her relationship to the women of Congo is more problematic. Said Kambale Musavuli, of Friends of Congo, which works tireless on behalf of victims of mass rape in eastern Congo: “Why should you want to help a Congolese woman who is raped, when your tax money is supporting the ones that are doing the raping? That’s a contradiction”

In the Age of Obama, the Black American relationship to Africa is suffocating from such contradictions.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Rwanda, Uganda and the Congo Genocide June 25, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Congo, Foreign Policy, Genocide, Rwanda, Uganda.
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Mon, 06/18/2012 – 22:28 — www.blackagendareport.com

 

 

by Antoine Roger Lokongo

Six million Congolese have died since 1996 so that western corporations could retain unfettered access to the region’s mineral wealth. Rwanda and Uganda turned the eastern Congo into a cauldron of death – with impunity, protected by their patrons, the U.S. and Britain. Although the evidence of Rwanda’s role in the Congo genocide is irrefutable, Tutsi strongman Paul Kagame’s regime “will simply get away with it and recommence again tomorrow – as long as minerals need to be supplied to the West.”

 

Rwanda, Uganda and the Congo Genocide

by Antoine Roger Lokongo

This article appeared in Pambazuka News.

Britain, America and the European Union are now caught red-handed and cannot claim not to be aware of the plot of annexing eastern Congo to Rwanda and Uganda.”

The carnage that is lived daily by the Congolese people in eastern DRC is what the Congolese daily Le Potentiel calls a “forgotten genocide”[1] by the will of the international community. In fact, the international community has witnessed the atrocities being committed in eastern Congo by both Rwandan Hutu and Tutsi armed groups, with the complicity of some Congolese, since the UN peacekeeping mission was deployed in the DRC over a decade ago.

Britain, America and the European Union can no longer turn a blind eye to the complicity of Rwanda and Uganda in both supplying arms and soldiers to Tutsi rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda (both him and his predecessors are already indicted by the ICC) in the troubled North Kivu of the DRC. Britain, America and the European Union are now caught red-handed and cannot claim not to be aware of the plot (of annexing eastern Congo to Rwanda and Uganda, encouraged by the Sudanese experience) that is being weaved by Rwanda and Uganda in the eastern DRC.

Three official reports issued by the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo as reported by the BBC[2], by Human Rights Watch[3] and by the Congolese government (after conducting its own thorough investigation, including interviewing Rwandan fighters caught in the frontline[4]) have all confirmed that Rwanda, for the umpteenth time, is yet again on the front line in eastern Congo. According to Congolese Minister of Information, Lambert Mende Omalanga:

200 to 300 rebels were recruited in Rwanda in order to be infiltrated in the DRC. They underwent a brief military training before being deployed against the armed forces of the DRC.”[5]

Anyway, for the Congolese people there was nothing new. A year before Rwanda joined the Commonwealth (November 2009), The Telegraph, a British daily close to the Conservative Party in Britain and therefore close to the British Crown, revealed that Congolese Tutsi rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda was recruited from the Rwandan army. Rwanda was therefore allowing its territory to be used as a recruiting ground for the rebel movement behind the DRC’s bloodshed, according to first-hand accounts and evidence gathered by The Telegraph.

Rwanda, for the umpteenth time, is yet again on the front line in eastern Congo.”

A 27-year-old fighter in Nkunda’s movement said that he served as a platoon commander in Rwanda’s army:

There are many former Rwandan soldiers with the CNDP [Gen Nkunda’s rebels]. When I was still in the Rwandan army, I was in touch with them. They wanted me to join the CNDP,” he said. “I decided to join them because fighting for the CNDP is like fighting for Rwanda.”[6]

The US Department of State is said to have issued “a firm statement”[7] warning governments against supporting rebel groups and mutineers operating in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo – without naming Rwanda. In a statement published on 6 June 2012 titled “Situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo,” US State Department spokesperson Marck C. Toner, said:

The United States is concerned by the continued mutiny of officers and soldiers formerly integrated into the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and now operating in North Kivu province as an armed group under the name M23, and by recent reports of outside support to M23.”[8]

The European Union for its part, is said to be “strongly concerned” about an army mutiny in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the bloc’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

The EU is strongly concerned by recent developments in the Kivus and the deterioration of the security situation. The current developments require the attention of all countries in the region. Recent cooperation between Rwanda and the DRC on this matter is necessary and positive. The EU is worried by information that this dynamic might be endangered,” Ashton said in a statement.[9]

Rwanda was therefore allowing its territory to be used as a recruiting ground for the rebel movement behind the DRC’s bloodshed.”

The Tutsi continued to use the war against Hutu ‘genocidists’ as a pretext for occupying mining concessions and systematically exploiting them.”

Kagame, Museveni and their Western backers have been uncovered. The whole world can now see that they are the main force driving this conflict. As Jacqueline Umurungi writes, some of Kagame’s greatest admirers are Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Starbucks magnate Howard Schultz. American evangelist Rick Warren considers him something of an inspiration and even Bill Gates has invested in what has been called Africa’s success story. Yes, Western liberals, reactionary evangelicals, and capitalist carpetbaggers alike tout Paul Kagame as the herald of a new, self-reliant African prosperity. Britain annually subsidizes 50 per cent of Rwanda’s national budget.[10] Now you understand why the war in mineral-rich eastern Congo never ends and why, mockingly according to the BCC, “there is no end to the tears in the DRC.”[11]

What Kinshasa did was to integrate all the Tutsi Congolese into the national army, even those wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity like General Bosco Ntaganda, “who was born in Rwanda where he fought with the ethnic Tutsi rebels who brought current President Paul Kagame to power and ended the genocide in 1994,” according to the BBC.[12] The CNDP (The National Congress for the Defence of the People or Congrès national pour la défense du people), a former rebel movement, was transformed into a political party and integrated into President Kabila’s coalition in power.

President Kabila put them in charge of military operations against Hutu militia accused of having committed the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Kinshasa even made a deal with Kigali to allow the Rwandan army to enter Congo and hunt Hutu militia. By the way, The ICC recently confirmed the dismissal of charges against Callixte Mbarushimana, a Hutu, of responsibility for atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009.[13] Then the people of Congo realized that the Tutsi continued to use the war against Hutu “genocidists” as a pretext for occupying mining concessions and systematically exploiting them. That is why the Congolese Tutsi soldiers refuse categorically to be transferred to other parts of Congo to serve there. They just want to be posted in eastern Congo near the Rwandan border. But the Congolese army is supposed to be a national army, not an ethnic army. When President Kabila ordered the transfer of all soldiers from eastern Congo to serve in other parts of Congo, rumor went around that Ntaganda was going to be arrested and transferred to the ICC (Kabila has said he would be tried in Congo). He launched a mutiny known as the 23 March movement (a new name for the CNDP) because they joined the Congolese army under a March 2009 peace deal but have defected “complaining of poor treatment.”

Enough is enough. The well-armed and Western-backed Tutsi regimes of Rwanda and Uganda must understand that there is a saying which goes like this: “Lie! Lie! There will always be something left to lie about: the truth.” The “international community” will yet again confirm its complicity in the plot against the DRC if Rwanda and Uganda yet again get away with it this time. Is the ICC there just for Charles Taylor and Laurent Gbagbo, but not Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Museveni and Kagame?

References:

[1] Le Potentiel. 2012. Face à l’indéniable implication du Rwanda dans la guerre au Kivu, les Etats-Unis, la Grande-Bretagne, l’UE… mis devant leurs responsabilités !, Kinshasa, 11/06/2012.
[2] BBC. 2012. Rwanda ‘supporting DR Congo mutineers. BBC News Africa. 28 May 2012.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18231128
[3] Smith, David. 2012. Rwandan military ‘aiding war crimes suspect’ in Congo – Human Rights Watch. The Guardian, World News, Rwanda. 4 June 20. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/04/rwandan-military-war-crimes-suspect
[4] Groupe L’Avenir. 2012. Est de la Rd Congo : Enfin le Rwanda démasqué. lundi 11 juin 2012. http://www.groupelavenir.cd/spip.php?article45903
[5] Le Potentiel. 2012. Face à l’indéniable implication du Rwanda dans la guerre au Kivu, les Etats-Unis, la Grande-Bretagne, l’UE… mis devant leurs responsabilités !, Kinshasa, 11/06/2012.
[6] Blair, David. 2008. DR Congo rebels recruited from Rwanda army. The Telegraph. 20 Nov 2008.

http://bit.ly/MHp9pI
[7] AfroAmerica Network. 2012. US Government Warns Governments Supporting Rebellions in DRC. 8 June 2012. http://bit.ly/Kvzquo
[8] Toner, Mark C. 2012. Situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Press Statement. US Department of State, 6 June 2012. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/06/191902.htm
[9] AFP. 2012. EU ‘concerned’ over army mutiny in DRC. News24. 8 August 2012. http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/EU-concerned-over-army-mutiny-in-DRC-20120607
[10] Umurungi, Jacqueline. 2012. The Untold Stories: Again Rwanda is on the front line in the Congo Conflict.Who is fooling who? Inyenyeri News. NYENYERI NEWS, 28 May 2012.
http://bit.ly/OFjumW
[11] Hubert, Thomas . 2012. Havoc as Congolese flee the ‘Terminator’. BBC News Africa. 11 May 2012.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17994753
[12] BBC. 2012. Congo warlord Bosco ‘Terminator’ Ntaganda ‘replaced’. BBC News Africa, 8 May 2012.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17992994
[13] Reuters. 2012. ICC confirms release of Congo war crimes suspect.
http://yhoo.it/K46RxR

Conflict in the Congo a resource war waged by US and British allies March 7, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa.
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congo

by Kambale Musavuli (Posted by Rady Ananda)

www.opednews.com, March 7, 2009

Since Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Congo in 1996, they have pursued a plan to appropriate the wealth of Eastern Congo either directly or through proxy forces. The December 2008 United Nations report is the latest in a series of U.N. reports dating from 2001 that clearly documents the systematic looting and appropriation of Congolese resources by Rwanda and Uganda, two of Washington and London’s staunchest allies in Africa.

However, in the wake of the December 2008 report, which clearly documents Rwanda’s support of destabilizing proxy forces inside the Congo, a series of stunning proposals and actions have been presented which all appear to be an attempt to cover up or bury the damning U.N. report on the latest expression of Rwanda’s aggression against the Congolese people.

The earliest proposal came from Herman Cohen, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs under George Herbert Walker Bush. He proposed that Rwanda be rewarded for its well documented looting of Congo’s wealth by being a part of a Central and/or East African free trade zone whereby Rwanda would keep its ill-gotten gains.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy would not be outdone; he also brought his proposal off the shelf, which argues for essentially the same scheme of rewarding Rwanda for its 12-year war booty from the Congo. Two elements are at the core of both proposals.

One is the legitimization of the economic annexation of the Congo by Rwanda, which for all intents and purposes represents the status quo. And two is basically the laying of the foundation for the balkanization of the Congo or the outright political annexation of Eastern Congo by Rwanda. Both Sarkozy and Cohen have moved with lightning speed past the Dec. 12, 2008, United Nations report to make proposals that avoid the core issues revealed in the report.

The U.N. report reaffirms what Congolese intellectuals, scholars and victims have been saying for over a decade in regard to Rwanda’s role as the main catalyst for the biblical scale death and misery in the Congo. The Ugandan and Rwandan invasions of 1996 and 1998 have triggered the deaths of nearly 6 million Congolese. The United Nations says it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II.

The report “found evidence that the Rwandan authorities have been complicit in the recruitment of soldiers, including children, have facilitated the supply of military equipment, and have sent officers and units from the Rwandan Defense Forces” to the DRC. The support is for the National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP, formerly led by self-proclaimed Gen. Laurent Nkunda.

The report also shows that the CNDP is sheltering a war criminal wanted by the International Criminal Court, Gen. Jean Bosco Ntaganda. The CNDP has used Rwanda as a rear base for fundraising meetings and bank accounts, and Uganda is once more implicated as Nkunda has met regularly with embassies in both Kigali and Kampala.

Also, Uganda is accepting illegal CNDP immigration papers. Earlier U.N. reports said that Kagame and Museveni are the mafia dons of Congo’s exploitation. This has not changed in any substantive way.

The report implicates Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, a close advisor to Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda. Rujugiro is the founder of the Rwandan Investment Group. This is not the first time he has been named by the United Nations as one of the individuals contributing to the conflict in the Congo.

In April 2001, he was identified as Tibere Rujigiro in the U.N. Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of the figures illegally exploiting Congo’s wealth. His implication this time comes in financial contributions to CNDP and appropriation of land.

This brings to light the organizations he is a part of, which include but are not limited to the Rwanda Development Board, the Rwandan Investment Group, of which he is the founder, and Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council. They have members as notable as Rev. Rick Warren, business tycoon Joe Ritchie, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Scott Ford of Alltell, Dr. Clet Niyikiza of GlaxoSmithKline, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and many more.

These connections provide some insight into why Rwanda has been able to commit and support remarkable atrocities in the Congo without receiving even a reprimand in spite of the fact that two European courts have charged their top leadership with war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is only recently that two European nations, Sweden and the Netherlands, have decided to withhold aid from Rwanda as a result of its aggression against the Congolese people.

The report shows that the Congolese soldiers have also given support to the FDLR and other armed groups to fight against the aggression of Rwanda’s CNDP proxy. One important distinction must be made in this regard. It appears that the FDLR support comes more from individual Congolese soldiers as opposed to overall government support.

The Congolese government is not supporting the FDLR in incursions into Rwanda; however, the Rwandan government is in fact supporting rebel groups inside Congo. The Congolese population is the victim of the CNDP, FDLR and the Congolese military.

The United Nations report is a predictable outgrowth of previous reports produced by the U.N. since 2001. It reflects the continued appropriation of the land, theft of Congo’s resources, and continuous human rights abuses caused by Rwanda and Uganda. An apparent aim of these spasms is to create facts on the ground — land expropriation, theft of cattle and other assets — to consolidate CNDP/Rwandan economic integration into Rwanda.

Herman Cohen’s “Can Africa Trade Its Way to Peace?” in the New York Times reflects the disastrous policies that favor profits over people. In his article, the former lobbyist for Mobutu and Kabila’s government in the United States and former assistant secretary of state for Africa from 1989 to 1993 argues, “Having controlled the Kivu provinces for 12 years, Rwanda will not relinquish access to resources that constitute a significant percentage of its gross national product.”

He adds, “The normal flow of trade from eastern Congo is to Indian Ocean ports rather than the Atlantic Ocean, which is more than a thousand miles away.” Continuing his argument, he believes that “the free movement of people would empty the refugee camps and would allow the densely populated countries of Rwanda and Burundi to supply needed labor to Congo and Tanzania.”

Cohen’s first mistake in providing solutions to the conflict is to look at the conflict as a humanitarian crisis that can be solved by economic means. Uganda and Rwanda are the aggressors. Aggressors should not define for the Congo what is best, but rather it is for the Congo to define what it has to offer to its neighbor.

A lasting solution is to stop the silent annexation of Eastern Congo. The International Court of Justice has already weighed in on this matter when it ruled in 2005 that Congo is entitled to $10 billion in reparations due to Uganda’s looting of Congo’s natural resources and the commission of human rights abuses in the Congo. It would have in all likelihood ruled in the same fashion against Rwanda; however, Rwanda claimed to be outside the jurisdiction of the court.

The United States and Great Britain’s implication is becoming very clear. These two great powers consider Rwanda and Uganda their staunch allies and, some would argue, client states. These two countries have received millions of dollars of military aid, which, in turn, they use in Congo to cause destruction and death.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is a former student at the U.S. military training base Fort Leavenworth and Yoweri Museveni’s son, Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, graduated from the same U.S. military college in the summer of 2008. Both the United States and Great Britain should follow the lead of the Dutch and Swedish governments, which have suspended their financial support to Rwanda.

With U.S. and British taxpayers’ support, we now see an estimated 6 million people dead in Congo, hundreds of thousands of women systematically raped as an instrument of war and millions displaced.

A political solution will resolve the crisis, and part of that requires pressure on Rwanda in spite of Rwanda’s recent so-called “house arrest” of Laurent Nkunda. African institutions such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union are primed to be more engaged in the Congo issue. Considering Congo’s importance to Africa, it is remarkable that they have been so anemic in regard to the Congo crisis for so long.

Rwanda’s leader, Paul Kagame, cannot feel as secure or be as arrogant as he has been in the past. One of his top aides was arrested in Germany as a result of warrants issued by a French court and there is almost global consensus that pressure must be put on him to cease his support of the destabilization of the Congo and its resultant humanitarian catastrophe.

In addition to pressure on Kagame, the global community should support the following policies:

1. Initiate an international tribunal on the Congo. 

2. Work with the Congolese to implement a national reconciliation process; this could be a part of the international tribunal.

3. Work with the Congolese to assure that those who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity are brought to justice.

4. Hold accountable corporations that are benefiting from the suffering and deaths in the Congo. 

5. Make the resolution of the Congo crisis a top international priority.

 

Living is a right, not a privilege, and Congolese deaths must be honored by due process of the law. As the implication of the many parties in this conflict becomes clear, we should start firmly acknowledging that the conflict is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies.

We call upon people of good will once again to advocate for the Congolese by following the prescriptions we have been outlining to end the conflict and start the new path to peace, harmony and an end to the exploitation of Congo’s wealth and devastation of its peoples. 

Global Research, February 22, 2009
Online Journal - 2009-02-19

Of Blood and Gold: How Canadian Mining Companies Loot the Congo February 26, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Canada, Environment.
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5 comments
Written by John Lasker    www.towardfreedom.com
Thursday, 26 February 2009

Image
Mining in the DRC

In the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where some analysts say a decade-long “resource war” has taken the lives of millions, a Canadian mining company has caught a fever over gold. Once again, the presence of a foreign mining company in the DRC offers a stunning example of disparity between the “have-mores” of the West and the local Congolese, who seemingly have nothing but violence and struggle. In January of this year the Banro mining company of Canada called on investors to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to help them mine one of Africa’s “last great” gold deposits. The deposits are located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) province of South Kivu, a region that actually has been spared from the brunt of the long-lasting resource war.

Banro predicts it could mine some 2.6 million ounces of gold over 15 years out of their South Kivu mines. After expenses and paying taxes Banro believes such a haul can generate a net-profit of nearly $600 million US dollars over the 15 years, averaging $40 million per year, if gold stays around $850 per ounce.

Just a few weeks before Banro’s call for mining capital, the United Nations Development Programme released updated statistics for its Human Development Index (HDI). The index tabulates statistics that are critical to revealing a nation’s well-being. The HDI measures life expectancy, standard of living, literacy rate and the number of school-aged children being educated. Out of 179 countries measured the DRC ranks 177th; a ranking for a country with a population of over 65 million.

Life expectancy in the DRC is 46 years. Only 33 percent of the school-aged children are enrolled in some type of school. While the GDP hovers around $300 US dollars, per person, per year. On the other hand in Canada the life expectancy is 80 years. A good education is guaranteed as 99 percent of all school-aged children are in school. And for most adults their yearly average earnings could be around $37,000.

But even with all the disparity Banro will figure out a way to avoid paying their fair-share of taxes to the Congolese, says Jamie Kneen of MiningWatch Canada, a mining industry watch-dog group. “Banro will find ways to get around showing full-profit,” said Kneen. “They will find seventeen different ways to avoid paying the Congolese tax man.”

Kneen has good reason to chastise Banro. Earlier this decade, the UN charged Banro with pillaging minerals from eastern DRC.

What’s more, Banro “wholly-owns” the South Kivu gold mines, says Kneen. “The government owns the resources but the project is owned by Banro. They have to pay taxes and royalties but they can do whatever with the profits.” Banro won 100 percent ownership after suing the DRC government for essentially losing control of the mines during the decade-long war.

According to CorpWatch.org, 60 percent of all the world’s mining companies come from this progressive and multi-cultural nation – mining companies that generate $50 billion a year for Canada. But the irony is, says Kneen, many work outside Canada. In the 1990s they went global, he says, escaping newly enacted and tougher environmental regulations. Environmentally speaking, taking your operation overseas saves your own country from dealing with the mess: 20 tons of waste rock, for instance, comes from the creation of one gold wedding ring.

Canadian mining companies have now spread themselves across the globe, making mining-agreements or concessions with many underdeveloped nations. These days, says Kneen, “the Toronto Stock Exchange is the number one (generator) for mining capital in the world.”

On its web site Banro prides itself “by increasing and developing its significant gold assets in a socially and environmentally responsible manner”. One of its foundations working in South Kivu recently built two high-schools, completed a potable water delivery system serving 18,000 people, built 100 km of roads and shipped in health supplies. On the flip side, China promised to build roads, highways, universities, schools and health centers as part of a $9 billion deal to access Congo minerals.

“Banro will have enough money coming in to do some regional development in South Kivo, which is pretty remote,” says Kneen.

Perhaps hearing the calls for more infrastructure, on February 25th Banro promised another $1 million for Congo projects, adding that they’ll pay more taxes on potential profits.

Nevertheless, in an effort to reassure investors over the region’s off-again, on-again wars – caused mostly by the plundering of Congo minerals by rebels, mining multi-nationals and DRC’s neighboring countries, such as Rwanda and Uganda – Banro has publicly said South Kivu’s lack of infrastructure is actually a good thing.

“There’s very little transportation infrastructure between where the fighting is and where (Banro’s mines are)” said Martin Jones, Banro’s vice-president of corporate development in a February issue of The Northern Miner, a trade-association magazine. The fighting, he claimed, is 200 kilometers or more away and “is unlikely to spread (and) the issues that are being fought over…have limited impact on people in the rest of the Congo.” Keep in mind this is a conflict where the UN says 45,000 women were raped in 2005, and in some cases as reported by the Independent, deliberately wounded in sexual organs by firearms.

The Banro deal in the DRC is the future of Canadian mining in central Africa. To offer some context, here is some past history of several Canadian mining companies in central Africa:

In October of 2004, Anvil Mining, the leading copper producer in the DRC, had to shut down production at their Dikulushi Mine when a so-called “rebellion” took place in a nearby village – a rebellion of “ten to twelve” villagers that had nothing to do with mining, said Kneen. Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC), of the DRC government, proceeded to seize the town, says Kneen, then went door-to-door “raping and pillaging”. Between 70 to 100 civilians were killed including women and children. Kneen said the Congo forces had Anvil’s “full cooperation”. Anvil claimed the Congo forces basically put a gun to their chest. Anvil nevertheless offered up trucks and logistics, says Kneen, trucks that transported troops and dead civilians. In the aftermath, the Canadian government essentially looked the other way. “They refused to investigate because there’s no legal mechanism in place,” says Kneen.

Anvil is supposed to adhere to OECD guidelines for multi-national corporations, a voluntary set of moral standards for working in another country established by the think-tank the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, based in France. But the Canadian government – like many Western governments – do not enforce OECD guidelines.

Canada’s Barrick Gold is the world’s largest producer of gold. In a 2005 Human Rights Watch report entitled The Curse of Gold, Barrick Gold and other mining companies are accused of making mining agreements in 2002 with two eastern DRC militias that had control of the mines. Both militias were also in the midst of murdering hundreds of civilians. In return for the gold mines, the militias were given housing and trucks, among other appeasements. Incredibly, as highlighted by independent journalist and Congo-expert Keith Harmon Snow, Barrick’s current and past advisors and directors include former US president George H.W. Bush, former Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney, Vernon Jordan, a close friend to Bill Clinton, and one-time Tennessee senator Howard Baker. Snow says Barrick and one its partners, Anglo-Ashanti, even sent in lawyers to help represent leaders of the militias after some were apprehended by the DRC government.

In 2001 the UN released their “Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo”. Out of the 29 mining multi-nationals the report accuses of stealing resources out of the DRC, eight are from Canada. They are American Mineral Fields, First Quantum, Hrambee Mining, International Panorama Resources, Kinross Gold, Melkior Resources, Tenke and Banro.

Analysts suggest the resource wars in the DRC are partially fueled by the fact that Western multi-nationals – with the help of host governments – are able to invade an underdeveloped nation, and take its wealth right out from under the feet of the general population. And in this case, the DRC could certainly use all the profits to benefit its own development. With that in mind, any Western mining project in the DRC should be looked upon with caution and skepticism.

***

John Lasker is a freelance journalist from central Ohio. Photo by Julien Harneis

Rape is cheaper than bullets February 24, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, War, Women.
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2 comments

Heather Harvey, www.guardian.co.uk

Tuesday 24 February 2009 15.30 GMT

Amnesty’s latest campaign about sexual violence being used as a weapon of war may be offensive. But at least it’ll make us think

This morning I received a text message from a friend who was on her way to work. It read: “Am just in the tube and there’s a really offensive poster up there but it says its Amnesty – do you know anything about it? It says ‘Rape is cheaper than bullets’.”

I quickly replied saying yes, it was an Amnesty International advertisement launched this week, and if it’s offensive then that is nothing compared to what hundreds of thousands of women and girls are suffering in conflict zones around the world.

The new Bullet ads that are appearing across the London Underground network over the next few weeks are designed to make passengers stop and think about some of the real horrors faced by women and girls. They’re meant to be provocative, because people are either immune or ignorant to the abuses that occur in global conflicts on a regular basis.

In previous and present wars, such as in Bosnia and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, rape and sexual violence are regularly used, and frequently the perpetrators go unpunished.

In the DRC’s troubled region of North Kivu, we are told that more than 2,200 cases of rape and sexual violence were reported in the first six months of 2008. Of these only 150 cases were heard in court, and in only one case was the perpetrator found guilty; that’s one out of 2,200.

Sexual violence against women isn’t unique to the DRC conflict.

The UN estimates that between 20,000 and 50,000 women were raped during the 1992-5 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Systematic rape is a crime against humanity. Even one rape during conflict is in fact defined as a war crime, although it is rarely treated as such.

If authorities fail to investigate and prosecute acts of rape in wartime, it will have an impact on the stability of the region once the fighting has stopped. Rape can cause entire communities to flee in terror, freeing up land and resources that are being disputed and ethnically reshaping whole societies. It can also destabilise a community by destroying family units.

The women who are raped regularly suffer horrific brutality, mutilation and violation. Frequently they pick themselves up and carry on but they are usually abandoned, ostracised, stigmatised and blamed for the rape they have suffered.

Meanwhile men turn away from the women in disgust and shame and blame them for their rape, as their ability to protect their family is called into question.

The legacy lasts for years and across generations with the whole community irrevocably displaced, damaged and broken and unlikely to recover for a long time.

In fact this act can produce a similar result as the one that is sought through the use of conventional weaponry but at a much smaller financial cost.

Various resolutions passed at the United Nations Security Council have acknowledged the impact of sexual violence against women in conflict. But they mean nothing if they’re not enforced on the ground.

More has to be done to protect these women from these atrocious acts. I’m hoping that over the next few weeks more people will be stirred into action by the Amnesty ad. After all, it’s not the ad that’s offensive – it’s the truth portrayed that should offend us.

The People of the Congo Need Help November 13, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
2 comments
Dear friends,

The people of Congo are being terrorised — they need protection urgently. But European and global leaders are delaying — call on them to act now:

The people of Congo need our help. In recent weeks over 200,000 people have been driven from their homes, and murder and rape are rife. The United Nations peacekeeping mission to Congo has not intervened to protect civilians. As this email is sent, families are running for their lives, stuck between the brutal violence of both the rebels and the Congolese army, without food or shelter – their only refuges are crowded camps which now face epidemics of disease. This is a human tragedy of unimaginable proportions.

All actors need to support better diplomacy, but only Europe can deploy a well-equipped, neutral protection force to be on the ground in two weeks – and European foreign ministers meeting earlier this week blinked, failing to act. If they send a neutral force to the region to protect civilians who are desperately in need, and help put real pressure on Congo and neighbouring countries with UN and African officials, this humanitarian crisis could be addressed and a lasting peace made possible.

The lesson of the genocide in Rwanda was — step in before it’s too late — politicians seem to have forgotten that. The people of eastern Congo need us now. We need to put overwhelming pressure on European and global leaders to step up, so please follow the link below to take action yourself and forward this email to friends and family — we’ll be delivering the campaign later this week to decision-makers and in newspapers. The situation is deteriorating by the day. The more of us take action, the more leaders will feel that their citizens and people around the world expect them to respond and protect the Congolese people. Sign the petition here:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/global_action_on_congo/

The recent clashes between General Nkunda’s militias and the Congolese army are the latest in a place where the population has been attacked and terrorised for years by armed groups. Over five million people have been killed. It’s been termed ‘Africa’s world war’, with Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia all getting involved. The fighting is fed by a lethal war economy based on the extraction of minerals such as coltan, cobalt, diamonds and gold, to which we’re all connected through the worldwide market.

Violence is escalating and allegations abound of Angolan and Zimbabwean troops fighting alongside the Congolese army — Congolese army soldiers committing atrocities and working with militias including the Rwandan Hutu Forces, some of whose leaders were responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide — and the Rwandan army supporting General Nkunda to muscle the Congolese government to fulfill its commitment to demobilise these same Hutu militias. So it is no surprise that African-only diplomacy is faltering, and that there is a need for an external, neutral force. We cannot let the best chance to stop the terror in Congo slip by as leaders turn their backs — Congo needs concerted engagement now. Let’s flood European and global leaders with requests for action. Sign the petition and please send it to your friends and family:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/global_action_on_congo/

The United Nations mission (MONUC) is in Congo to keep the peace between this web of armed groups, but recently it has made clear statements that it cannot protect civilians. We have heard reliably that MONUC are desperate for a rapid EU bridging force to do what they can’t and start restoring international legitimacy, which has been lost through overstretch and perceptions of taking sides — UN troops have fought alongside the Congolese army and are even accused of sheltering pro-government militias.

To have a credible and effective force the United Nations mission will soon have to be reformed and redeployed. In the longer term, the international community needs to be a strong and honest broker to ensure implementation of peace agreements and confront the underlying issues feeding this war. If Europe sends a short-term, neutral force to the region now to protect civilians, it can start to change the terms of this brutal game — providing a basis both to defend the defenceless and to apply political leverage to all sides. Click below to sign the petition:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/global_action_on_congo/

With hope,

Paul, Alice, Pascal, Ricken, Ben, Paula, Brett, Graziela, Iain and Milena – the Avaaz.org team

PS: Campaigning around force deployments is never easy and we take it extremely seriously and case by case — Avaaz is also campaigning for withdrawal from Iraq. We are calling for this time-limited protection force in Congo because it is essential both to protect civilians who are being raped and murdered, and to support an honest-broker political effort. We have taken extensive advice and a poll of Avaaz members showed overwhelming support for this campaign.

For a report on Avaaz’s campaigning so far, see: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/report_back_2

PSS: Here are links to sources for this alert:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article5126970.ece

http://www.monuc.org/news.aspx?newsID=18960

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/10/congo-kiwanja-un-goma-angola-laurent-nkunda-war-crimes-fighting

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/congos-tragedy-the-war-the-world-has-forgotten-14023616.html

http://www.monuc.org/news.aspx?newsID=18996

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2008/081107_Mulet.doc.htm

ABOUT AVAAZ Avaaz.org is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means “voice” in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Sydney and Geneva. Call us at: +1 888 922 8229. Click here to learn more about our largest campaigns. Don’t forget to check out our Facebook and Myspace and Bebo pages!
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