Worldnotes – May 17, 2008

Nicaragua: Emergency food summit

At a food summit in Managua May 7-8, representatives of 16 Latin American and Caribbean nations, including six heads of state, began planning for local food production and price reduction through cooperation.

Cuban spokesperson Esteban Lazo Hernández diagnosed the world food crisis as “very dangerous.”

Having established a $100 million implementation fund, Venezuela proposed that oil profits be used to assure availability of agricultural supplies and investment capital.

Costa Rican President Óscar Arias berated Washington for offering $1 billion for world food aid while spending that amount on “half a week” of war in Iraq.

Last month Central American nations gathered in Panama and ALBA countries (the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America) in Caracas to discuss the food crisis, Inter Press Service reported.

India: Food protests planned

Against a background of rising prices, the governing center-left United Progressive Alliance has come under attack from left forces essential to its governing parliamentary majority, headed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Food costs now consume half the income of India’s poor.

According to The Hindu News Service, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat told reporters that road and rail blockades and picketing would be staged throughout most of India starting May 15. said the party is demanding equitable food distribution to states, restraints on private purchases of grain from farmers, a ban on agricultural futures trading, reduced fuel prices and measures against hoarding.

Turkey: May Day police violence

Three labor confederations have appealed to the International Labor Organization and the European Court on Human Rights to condemn repression by the Istanbul police on International Workers Day.

The police action was directed at preparations for a march to Taksim Square to commemorate the killing of 37 workers there on May Day 1977. For several hours, police blockaded the headquarters of the Labor Union Confederation, preventing 1,500 people from leaving. In the melee 38 people were injured and 530 arrested.

Eventually the march was called off, although reported that confederation president Süleyman Çelebi declared, “Now every square, the whole of Turkey, has become Taksim. Our struggle will continue.”

Somalia: U.S. and Ethiopia blamed

Not only have high food prices and drought led to a recent 40 percent increase in Somalians needing food assistance, but civilians have also been victimized by war between Ethiopian invaders backed by Washington and Islamic forces, successors to the Islamic Courts regime dislodged in 2007.

In another direct U.S. military intervention, planes bombed and killed eight civilians on May 1. Three days later, according to, Ethiopians killed 14 civilians in Baidoa, prompting the Red Cross to suggest that “the population has reached the limit of its endurance.”

In a recent report, Amnesty International cited “war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.” Food riots and anti-U.S. protests are common.

Cuba: Cuban Five remembered

Ten years after Cuban intelligence provided the FBI with documentation of Luis Posada Carriles’ role in Havana hotel bombings, and one year after the U.S. government freed him on May 8, 2007, Ricardo Alarcón, President of the Cuban Parliament, told 1,500 international labor activists meeting in Havana that an international campaign on behalf of the Cuban Five would begin Sept. 12.

On that date in 1998 the FBI arrested five men who had unearthed intelligence relating to Posada.

At a press conference held by the Committee of Relatives of Victims of the 1976 airliner bombing Posada engineered, Margarita Gonzalez demanded his extradition to Venezuela for court proceedings on his role in the airliner tragedy.

World Notes are compiled by W.T. Whitney Jr. ( For more international news go to