Uruguay: Ibero-American Summit takes U.S. to task

Meeting in Montevideo, Nov. 4-5, foreign ministers and chief executives from 22 countries turned the 17th Ibero-American Summit into a veritable rally against the Bush administration.

The delegates called for the trial or extradition to Venezuela of anti-Cuba terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, currently in U.S. custody, for his part in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. They demanded that nations engaged in fighting terrorism adhere to international law.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicholas Maduro and Carlos Lage, leader of Cuba’s delegation, each condemned U.S. plans to build a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexican President Vicente Fox succeeded in having the summit pass a declaration rejecting the fence.

The delegates also passed the “Montevideo Commitment” to human rights for immigrants throughout the world.

According to Prensa Latina, Venezuela agreed to contribute $5 million toward creation of an Ibero-American General Secretariat, a standing body that will have offices in three Latin American locations.

Iran: U.S. naval maneuvers raise tensions

Two U.S. naval strike groups operating in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit of 20 percent of the world’s oil supply, staged “a massive display of U.S. naval power” just off Iran’s coast, according to The Guardian, an Australian newsweekly. Military exercises ending Oct. 30 had ships of six nations conducting mock interceptions of ships “carrying weapons of mass destruction and missiles.”

Iran’s leadership and many foreign observers viewed the military maneuvers, taking place in the context of UN Security Council debate on possible sanctions on Iran for its nuclear energy program, as a serious provocation. Adding to the tensions, according to www.globalresearch.ca, Israel has reportedly threatened to carry out a unilateral strike against Iran if the U.S. does not act against Iran within six months.

As if in response, Iran tested land, sea and air-based missiles and automatic cannon as part of its “Great Prophet 2” maneuvers. Iran says its nuclear program is strictly for domestic energy production.

China: Outreach to African nations a high priority

With more than 41 heads of state on hand, the Third Summit Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing, which opened Nov. 3, adopted a multifaceted action plan. Diplomatic exchanges, Chinese cooperation with the African Union and supportive interaction within the United Nations will bolster political ties.

Announcing a $5 billion investment fund, China plans to double economic assistance to the continent by 2009. Tariffs will be reduced, and debt reduction will continue. Over five years, China has canceled $1.4 billion in debts for 31 African nations.

According to the People’s Daily, China is developing plans for widened medical, scientific, environmental and educational assistance as well as expanded tourism and cultural ties.

Chinese President Hu Jintao told the gathering Nov. 4, “Our combined population accounts for over a third of the world total. Without peace and development in China and Africa, there will be no global peace and development.”

Kenya: UN meet assesses global warming

At a press conference prior to the UN Climate Change Conference in Nairobi, Nov. 7-16, UN officials released a report suggesting that global warming will cause massive human devastation in Africa, the continent least prepared to respond, according to allafrica.com. Rising sea levels may destroy 30 percent of Africa’s coastal infrastructure. Water shortages may affect some 480 million people. From 25 percent to 40 percent of Africa’s inhabitants may be lost by 2085. By 2080, food production will have fallen by 5 percent. Severe droughts and floods will threaten the lives of all Africans.

Ironically, among the world’s continents, Africa is the world’s lowest producer of greenhouse gases. The conference coincided with a reunion of signatories to the Kyoto Protocol, a pact on limiting greenhouse gases, which the Bush administration has refused to sign.

Israel: Urgent appeal to stop siege of Gaza

Declaring that the conditions facing Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have reached “emergency levels, with inadequate water, electricity and medicine; widespread hunger, poverty and unemployment; schools and other services out of operation; and constant bombardments and attacks by the Israeli military,” the Communist Party of Israel issued a dramatic call to stop the siege of Gaza.

It also called upon the Israeli government to begin negotiations with the legitimately elected leadership of the Palestinian Authority. “Israel and the international community must respect the political choice of the Palestinian people,” the party’s Nov. 1 statement said.

The CPI and other Israeli groups are launching a month-long campaign involving vigils, teach-ins, petitions, and leafleting to “stop the siege and stop the war.” They are urging worldwide demonstrations on Dec. 2.

World Notes are compiled by W.T. Whitney (atwhit@megalink.net).

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