The first thing I want to mention is that Occupy SF is not dead. This is because a core of dedicated occupiers have maintained a 24-7 protest site at 101 Market St. in front of the Federal Reserve Building. According to these occupiers, this ongoing protest has been recognized by the city of San Francisco as a protest and therefore exempt from the "Sit-Lie" ordinance which forbids sleeping and sitting during daytime hours. Police have intermittently raided the protest site, having tables, literature, etc. hauled off by the Dept. of Public Works. The protesters themselves have also faced arrest and citation as individuals, but always come back. The police use an obscure and obviously inapplicable law to harrass the protesters, but the DA never presses charges knowing that they are baseless. Occupy SF is, I believe, like Occupiers in the East Bay going to court over their eviction from "Occupy the Farm", ready for a legal fight.

Also, here are some links to YouTube posted by occupiers from Occupy Bernal (a split-off group, Bernal is an SF neighborhood but you will recognize David S. if you have seen him in action at Occupy SF rallies and protests- he's one of the drivers of the civil disobedience/direct action aspect of Occupy SF). These people have been meeting regularly on the back steps of city hall where foreclosed upon homes are auctioned off. My impression about these proceedings is that the agents there to buy these homes operate in accord with each other, and in the interests of the real estate firms they work for or with. These firms are more and more turning to renting these houses out. This is what they do after receiving taxpayer bailout money and once again failing to deliver on their promises of "good citizenship"- crashing the economy and laying the blame on workers in debt, kicking them out of their homes. Today, Occupy will rally behind a proposed law which will impose a fee upon banks when they foreclose on homes in San Francisco.

The bad news. There has been a split in Occupy SF over tactics. This split is, I believe, the ultimate cause of the fact that the newsletter is no longer going out and that the website has not been updated. There is a particular faction that demands that no door locks be broken or scuff marks left on walls. This faction is the middle-class faction that still wants to support the system which is run by the people that have betrayed them. While they mask their position in high-minded rhetoric, their stance is in fact that breaking a padlock is the moral equivalent to wars based on lies, ecological devastation, the dismantling of the Constitution, etc. According to them, if someone breaks a padlock in order to gain access to a place and occupy it, they are committing a grave moral crime which betrays supreme moral values which Occupy must adhere to. For example, the San Francisco Commune briefly occupied an empty building on 888 Turk St. in order to utilize it as a community resource. It may be noted that they did so, similarly to Occupy Bernal, without permission from the Occupy SF General Assembly, which no longer really exists and has long ago ceased to perform any useful function.


Occupy SF update 6-4-12


carlos10019's picture
carlos10019 5 years 19 weeks ago

Mr. Hartmann,

You are seriously misinformed. Your piece is either lazy journalism (not bothering to dig for the rationale of those who left OSF) or else lazy bias towards... what? Or against what?

The facts: 40 members of OSF attempted to pass a resolution condemning the Mission Riot of 4/30 organized by "Bay of Rage" an "anarchist-black-bloc" group unrelated to OSF. During the riot, tires were slashed, chairs hurled through windows, a police station paint-egged, etc. The riot created a huge anti-occupy media hit with lurid TV and newspaper reporting tieing OSF to the Black Bloc. The next day, Wells Fargo gave $25K to the Mission businesses to clean up.

Our resolution condemning the riot was damage control. The day after the Mission Riot, OSF members re-occupied the Catholic Church property at 888 Turk in an autonomous action quickly crushed by SFPD. But not before a mentally unstable occupier hurled bricks and pipes off the roof, hitting fellow occupiers. We did NOT attempt to censure that action though some would have liked to.

So, it was not a bunch of panty-waist liberals who don't want to break a few locks who left OSF. It was a dedicated core of committed workers tired of "lifestyle anarchists" we have begun to refer to as "The Ninja Turtles" who take senseless, autonomous actions that destroy the potential of a mass movement.

None of those who left OSF are Ghandian pacifists. Rather, we're intelligent strategists tired of the fantasists stoned on andreneline and testosterone (among other substances) who believe they are the vanguard of a Revolution just around the corner.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 5 years 19 weeks ago

This isn't Mr. Hartmann's blog.

Good points about the people who showed up at that Occupy event and then proceeded to commit vandalism, etc. as you described. Thing is, when people "leave the movement" simply because they cannot get a certain resolution passed at GA then they allow the hijackers to win. The people who committed the vandalism made clear their actions were primarily motivated by their particular ideology. It was clear that their actions were an attempt to steal the spotlight. As such they are suspect as some sort of agent provocateurs possibly working through informal neighborhood groups.

The correct way to go about dealing with the problem is to remain unified with Occupy, and if you cannot get the general assembly to pass your resolution then you still have the option of making your statement through working groups or affinity groups. By staying with the movement and doing the kind of actions and activities you want to represent Occupy SF you prevent the media from representing Occupy SF as the vandals you rightfully deplore. Occupy may benefit from strong working groups which operate with strong affinity among their members, but to be a successful movement it has to remain a mass movement.

sf99er's picture
sf99er 5 years 19 weeks ago

Indeed, OccupySF has split....due to disagreement in the use of "non-violent direct action" in a response condemning the April 30 "Bay of Rage" vandalism in the Mission. OccupySF has repeatedly failed to come to 100% consensus on the definition of violence in regards to direct action - many argue breaking a lock (property damage) is not "violence" and some thought it was improper to employ the description in an official response from OccupySF's General Assembly and therefore blocked the adoption of ther statement emplying the language. The "blocker(s)" made several conscessions that were, subsequently, blocked by others and the "split" was the result. Regretablly, May Day did turn for the worst, with a brick thrower that was quickly disarmed by an occupier, however, OccupySF has never condoned the use of property damage or physical violence in any direct action and has recently been very sucessful at maintaining peace and order at the occupation site in front of the "Federal" "Reserve" at 101 Market. Indeed, we are not dead. Join Us!


Beth S.'s picture
Beth S. 5 years 19 weeks ago

Dear Nimblecivet,

First, I want to thank you for your normally well-researched in-depth writing, as well as your support for the Occupy movement. However, I take grave issue with your characterization of the split within OccupySF. It is completely wrong. As a person that has been arrested for the Occupy movement five times including for the first Turk Street building occupation, lived typically five days a week at the encampment before it was destroyed by the police, wrote some ten articles for the OccupySF website, and has been one of the strongest supporters of the revival of the 24 hour encampment, I can tell you that your characterization of the split is not only wrong, but is highly insulting. You claimed that, "According to them [the supporters of the new group], if someone breaks a padlock in order to gain access to a place and occupy it, they are committing a grave moral crime which betrays supreme moral values which Occupy must adhere to."

The "split" was based on a strategic and philosophical disagreement on how to re-build the movement that could not be bridged within the current structure of a 100% consensus process, and was not about any moral stance regarding breaking the padlock of an empty building. I can assure you that nobody within the new group called Occupy Bay Area United (OBAU) would claim or believes "that breaking a padlock is the moral equivalent of wars based on lies, ecological devastation or the dismantling of the Constitution", as you also stated. In fact, I was part of the first Turk Street building occupation and was one of the writers of the press release that pointed out that it is a crime against humanity that ten thousand people are homeless within San Francisco while there are over 30,000 vacant but inhabitable units. In fact, most people in OBAU MORALLY support the idea of occupying a vacant building and turning it into a community center. However, many believe that announcing to the press and police that a large group is about to occupy a building ends up being a trap where active participants within the movement end up facing potentially extended jail time, and that it ultimately acts as a deterrent to building support from the public during a time when our numbers and support have drastically waned. Four of OccupySF's most active protestors are now potentially facing jail time, and two of them spent a week in jail already due to the building takeover.

But that was not the reason for the split. Ultimately, a very tiny faction within OccupySF support a more militant philosophy than the rest of the group. This tiny faction sometimes uses the 100% consensus process to foist their unpopular philosophy upon the rest. The philosophy goes something like this: galvanize the poorest most disenfranchised people in the country into militant action to take down the whole system immediately. Oppose any government social safety net programs that feed or house the poor or the elderly because once the poor are hungry, homeless and desperate enough, they will rise up and bring on the revolution. Oppose any action that does not support an instant revolution. For example, do not waste any time or resources on ending corporate personhood because that is a "reformist" idea. Oppose a tax on speculators or millionares because that is "reformist" and will give more money to the government, even if it means more budget cuts that cause the elderly to be thrown out into the streets to die without housing or healthcare, or causes a single mother to lose her child care.

Most of the participants in OBAU believe that this system needs to be replaced. We have anarchists in OBAU, and we have a diversity of views. However, we all believe that we need to build a mass movement and gain the support of the larger public if we are ever going to be able to replace the system. Many of us believe that militant action by a small group of people before we have a mass movement will lead to those people being targeted for indefinite NDAA detention, will turn public support against us, and will give the repressive state excuses to pass more unconstitutional laws. We also believe that until we have alternative structures in place, people should not be thrown out into the street hungry and homeless, and without healthcare or childcare, based on an ideal.

While many within OccupySF have not moved to OBAU, it is because they are against the idea of a division, or "mitosis" as we prefer to call it. They think it will harm the movement. However, we think it will ultimately bring more people into the movement who were not comfortable with some of the philosophy and procedures at OccupySF. Most at OccupySF adhere to the OBAU philosophy of a strategic nonviolence stance and some form of modified consensus, and do not adhere to the philosophy that instant revolution is obtainable. The strategic nonviolence statement that OBAU is currently editing does not rule out self-defense, defense of others, or civil disobedience. It makes a distinction between indiscriminate property destruction against the 99% versus consensed upon strategy that may include such things as breaking a lock to an empty building or dismantling a weapon.

The failure of the OccupySF General Assembly to support a strong statement clarifying that OccupySF was not involved, and did not endorse the destruction of a block of small businesses in a working class neighborhood, after the press attributed it to Occupy, was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Ultimately, the revised statement was blocked by one individual amongst some forty to fifty people. The OBAU "faction" certainly does not "support the system which is run by the people that have betrayed them", as you stated. We simply support developing a strategy to build a people's movement that will not lead to unnecessary suffering. And lastly, we did not "leave the movement", we formed a group within the movement that is bringing people back who have left in frustration, and will hopefully bring new people in who would not be comfortable with the current procedures at OccupySF. One of the first things that OBAU consensed to was a "re-merge" provision that if OccupySF consenses to some form of modified consensus and a strategic nonviolence statement, we will consider re-merging. Unfortunately, this is highly unlikely because the 100% consensus process allows a tiny faction to foist their philosophy upon the rest of the group.

sf99er's picture
sf99er 5 years 19 weeks ago

Please, disregard verbose hyperbole, when searching for the truth.

Beth S.'s picture
Beth S. 5 years 18 weeks ago

Please, search for truth instead of letting oneself be swayed by the loudest alpha-male voice.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 5 years 18 weeks ago

also see:

Configure the indices for yourself.

"Backed by Reasonable Solutions and Mayor Nutter
Perhaps the final nail in the coffin for the 99% Declaration was the fact that they met with Mayor Nutter’s staff, including the deputy director, Richard Negrin on the day of Occupy Philly’s eviction. According to their representative, they met with city officials to inform them of this National GA, get their backing, and give them the heads up for anticipated increased security due to thousands of visitors. In a post on an on-line forum, the 99% Declaration also mentioned following up with the Mayor’s office to see if they would participate in a joint press release about the event. The fact that they met with the Mayor was exacerbated by the fact that the meeting occurred on eviction day, the same day over fifty of our friends were arrested by the same “security" force that would be on hand during their event on July."

Beth S.'s picture
Beth S. 5 years 18 weeks ago

Nimblecivet, are you saying that this philly sitation has something in common with our sitation at Occupy SF? It absolutely doesn't. There are one or two people spreading misinformation, and I am happy to clarify the situation if needed.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 5 years 18 weeks ago

They may only be similar insofar as "a split has occurred." But clarify all you want. Whatever you have to shere will be news to me.

I went to General Assembly yesterday. I and the 3 other people there agreed that the people organizing the Bohemian Grove thing can put Occupy SF's endorsement on their fliers. I think the resolution we concurred around was something like "no-one here objects." I kind of like the confrontation of sacred space thing. I spouted off a couple of caveats, though: "No use of guns. No selling guns. No assassinating elected representatives." He gave me a nod of assent as if to say "Understood. No need to continue."

Actually, after thinking about it I wonder if "No breaking windows." would be legitimate. I mean, what situation could there possibly be where that is justified? Maybe if there is one a person who breaks a window can appeal to the general assembly for a retroactive one-time exemption. Such exemptions could be granted via modified consensus. eg "I broke the window because the fire had made exiting by the stairs impossible."

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 5 years 18 weeks ago

But seriously, there are some people seriously wedded to the 100% consensus thing. They have a point, but I don't share their view. I don't need a review of the specific proposals that were debated to know that someone must have had the sense to propose a statement SIMPLY to the effect that the GA did not endorse the vandalism. If someone obstructs that message then it seems to me they are being obstructive deliberately.

Still, when I think of the challenge that OBAU will face in promoting iself AS Occupy, I wonder if the split simply is occurring at just about the worst time possible. Okay, so the resolution wasn't passed. Okay, so 100% consensus has raised problems of functionality, and these problems have prompted people to operate within Occupy without consensus from the GA. But did we ever decide EXACTLY what needs to be approved by GA and what doesn't? How is OBAU going to avoid the same problem of Occupy of those who "hijack" or spoil events? These people have openly stated (I'll try to get the reference from the person that showed it to me) that they view these events as opportunities to hide behind protesters to commit their actions. If you operate OBAU as "a group within the movement", is it an affinity group? A working group? What's to stop those who want to vie for influence in the movement from exploiting this split, as in if they can't get what they want from OBAU then they go to the Occupy GA and get it there, or visa-versa?

btw thanks for the compliment but my blogs are just personal observations etc and aren't intended to provide a full or comprehensive view of what's happening although I do my best to share what I think is most important to most people.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 5 years 18 weeks ago

I wish we had Nimblecivet style reporting in every city. I am from the Riverside, CA area and there is an occupy movement there, but it's not as big a city as S.F. I am glad there is lots of interest in Occupy S.F. although there is a lot of disagreement.

My advice would be to think about things like the money, cheating tactics and disinformation poured into the Walker side of the recall effort, and remember that this is about true democracy and getting the big business money out of politics, primarily, which in itself will be a revolution. I would try to educate any anachist crackpots who join the movement, but if that doesn't work, you may have to disown them. There are plenty of us with you in spirit if not in body -- the large majority of Americans I suspect -- so there is no need to incorporate every violence-prone individual who comes along, or people with strange, impractical ideas, although I would do my best to be inclusive to the extent that they can help the cause. Violence and anarchy do not help the cause, however.

Beth S.'s picture
Beth S. 5 years 18 weeks ago

"How is OBAU going to avoid the same problem of Occupy of those who "hijack" or spoil events? These people have openly stated (I'll try to get the reference from the person that showed it to me) that they view these events as opportunities to hide behind protesters to commit their actions. If you operate OBAU as "a group within the movement", is it an affinity group? A working group"

OBAU is a separate group. Compare to Occupy Bernal, if you will.

Of course, we cannot control the actions of those who intentionally use Occupy actions to promote their agenda. However, here is the issue: In order to build a mass movement we need to get the masses on board. Because of the smear campaign by the press and the actions of a few individuals who either are agent-provoceuters OR let themselves be influenced by provoceuters, the masses now see Occupy as a destructive movement that is smashing windows and possibly violent. In order to change that narrative, we at Occupy need to be able to publicly state that we are a non-violent movement that does not endorse indiscriminate property destruction. We also need to be able to publicly dis-associate ourselves from those who do engage in those actions. It will be much harder for those who engage in indiscriminate property destruction to do so at Occupy actions when there is a clear and unambiguous policy that they are not welcome to engage in such behavior, and that their agenda is not ours. When those involved in Occupy act as apologists for such actions, it simply encourages more. The split was not about one statement, it is about the fact that we believe we will never be able to make such a statement within the OccupySF structure, therefore the policy of a small few dominates over the will of the vast majority.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 5 years 18 weeks ago

Natural Lefty, I hope you don't mean to insinuate that there is an equivocation between anarchism and violence. Many anarchists are more radical and more willing to employ radical tactics but its unfair to paint with a broad brush. Anarchism is a legitimate political perspective and anarchists have contributed meaningfully to many campaigns and struggles, including OSF. I myself am a socialist since I believe the state could be basically democratic and benevolent but I think anarchist theory has a lot to offer and I can understand how someone would choose to be an anarchist.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 5 years 18 weeks ago

Beth, thank you for your input here. I see that you have your own blog started here so I hope that you share what's going on with OBAU with us. I guess people are just going to have to make a choice where the real potential for getting things going again is. Maybe I worded things a little crudely; I'm sure anyone involved with Occupy is likely to be someone with a visionary mindset or at least a more compassionate attitude. I think the revolution vs. reform issue is something of a canard. But I think revolutionary attitudes and critiques are vital to the movement. On the one hand, palliative reforms are an inadequate response to what our government and society have become. On the other, Occupy as a movement should be able to come to an at least de-facto agreement that non-violent civil disobedience is the tactic which is both most effective and the most acceptable to the greatest number of current and potential occupiers.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 5 years 18 weeks ago

just wanted to clarify/inform, the Occupy National Gathering (below) is not the same thing as the "National GA" associated with the 99% Declaration referred to above:


Join us in Philly for the Occupy National Gathering, June 30th – July 4th

by InterOccupy Admin on Jun 11, 2012 • 1:34 pm No Comments

Occupy National Gathering

June 30th – July 4th

Philadelphia, PA

The occupy national gathering, implemented through a horizontal, democratic and transparent process and endorsed by almost 60 occupations across the country, will allow us to strategically plan for the coming year, work on a vision for the future, and most importantly build relationships and skills that will allow us to strengthen our ties as a movement!

  • Listen to speakers such as Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, Rosanne Bar, Rev. Billy and the Gospel Choir from the Church of Stop Shopping, Julie Matthaei, Captain Ray Lewis, Victoria Grant and the President of the NLG, among others.
  • Bring your skills, talents and passions to share with the wider movement during open space for Occupiers, organizations and individuals. Trainings about sustainable organizing, strategic action development, anti-oppression, media, national coordiantion, affinity groups, tech tools and many more topics are already in the works!
  • Join strategic conversations with those working on similar issues
  • Participate in Actions with occupiers and allies from across the country
  • On July 4th, participate in a process designed to collectively craft a vision for a democratic future with both those present and participating virtually
  • Join the Occupy Wall Street Guitarmy on a 99 mile march back to Wall Street to deliver our vision to the lion’s den.
  • Have lots of fun!

Travel: The Occupy Caravan ( will be convening in several strategic points around the country to communally travel to Philadelphia. We would encourage everyone interested in coming to the Gathering but unable to afford the expense to go it alone to connect with the Caravan.

Arrangements in Philly: If you are planning to attend, please read up on everything you need to know about what to bring, sleeping arrangements, and other details here.

Get involved:

  • RSVP to the invite on the facebook event page, invite everyone you know, and forward this information to every network you have developed during your time in the movement and beyond.
  • Visit the website and donate a little or a lot to the cause.
  • We still need a people who have been involved in local Food Comittees, Medic, Safety, and Facilitation to come and lend their time and passion. If anyone is interested please email

Facebook Event Page:!/events/368997049819496/

Twitter: @OccupyNG



Please forward this email as widely as possible.

The National Gathering Working Group

Alberto Ceras 5 years 18 weeks ago

Following I’ve pasted my translation of the lead paragraph from a recent article in Mexico’s fine weekly magazine “Proceso“ entitled “Mensajes para #YoSoy132.” The messages – the advice – are directed to Mexico’s youth but they would apply equally well to those involved in the Occupy movement. I’ve only translated this brief introductory. The entire article needs to be translated and read by anyone involved in the OWS movement.

Activists from countries where the so-called Arab spring began recommend that the Mexican youth movement # Yosoy132 go beyond spontaneity and that they become consolidated in an organization with a purpose. They caution activists not to overestimate the social networks, as these are only instruments in a broader strategy that must include a solid organization, precise demands and interaction with other social actors.

Here are the last paragraphs of the Proceso article in Spanish. I expect that an enterprising person could locate Mexico's magazine "Proceso." in San Francisco, maybe in a public library. It's the 10th of June issue with a cover title "Se encona la disputa por el poder." The article I refer to begins on page 58.

Esta lideresa (Ben Mhenni) considera que el movimiento social de protesta en Egipto, Túnez y Siria fue horizontal y sin lideres; estima que se trató de un movimiento popular espontáneo y explica que para construir una democracia debe existir cierto liderazgo.

En el movimiento social egipcio hay rostros conocidos, como el de Giban Ibrahim. En Túnez está la propia Ben Mhenni, pero estas activistas no encabezan ningún gran movimiento. Se trata de líderes de opinión con una lista de más de 10 mil seguidores de Twitter.

“Me gustaría que hubiéramos tenido un líder como Luther King que hubiera unido a un Túnez dividido entre líneas ideológicas, islamistas y seculares. El presidente Moncef Marzouki está tratando de tomar ese papel pero ha fallado, no tiene poder ni estatura para hacerlo, es una estatua.”

A pesar de las diferencias que hay en estos países árabes, de la incertidumbre en que ha caído su movimiento y de la desorganización de la oposición, los entrevistados coinciden en lo que dice Basha:

“Un país no es un negocio de familia de dictador y su grupo de bandidos. Una nación debe ser manejada por y para la gente.”

Y apunta: “A los amigos de México les digo que la libertad vale más que todo, y deben esforzarse por conservarla.”

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 5 years 18 weeks ago

No, violent tactics and anarchism are two different things, but I had the impression from a lot of what I have read, that those among the Occupy Movement who advocate violence tend to be anarchists. Anarchists assassinated President McKinley, so political violence by anarchists is not unknown. On the other hand, perhaps the rioters and looters we have heard about are just apolitical, disenchanted people who are going along for the ride.

It seems to me that anarchism is pretty close to libertarianism, which I don't see as a practical ideology at all, but I am sure that anarchists can be good contributors to the Occupy Movement. I am a democratic socialist as are you, Nimblecivet, something I am sure you already know.

Alberto, I didn't know that there was a Mexican youth movement. That is good to know, and I agree with the paragraph in English. Sorry, I can't read Spanish.

Alberto Ceras 5 years 18 weeks ago

Yes, NaturalLefty, Mexico's latest and very recent student movement arose because of fears that the corrupt political party and its corrupt presidential candidate would again take control of Mexico (Mexico's presidential elections take place this coming July 1st). You, and I expect anyone in the Occupy movement in the U.S., would be astounded at how quickly and effeciently the students from ALL of Mexico's major universities got organized. I'm fearful that the movement, organized and energetic as it is,will not persuade and sway a conservative public

I've hastily translated the Spanish excerpt from my previous comment but with only the lead paragraph and these concluding ones a lot of "meat" remains to be translated. Maybe someone in the SF movement could locate a copy of "Proceso" and translate all of it. Here, then, are the few concluding paragraphs:

This leader (Ben Mhenni) who considers the social protest movement in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria to have been horizontal and without leaders, believes that it was a spontaneous popular movement and explains that in building a democracy there must be some leadership.

In the Egyptian social movement there are known faces, such as Ibrahim Giban. In Tunisia there’s our very own Ben Mhenni, but these activists do not lead any great movement. They are opinion leaders with a list of over 10 000 followers on Twitter.

"I wish we had a leader like Luther King who might have united a Tunisia divided along ideological lines, Islamists and secular. President Marzouki is trying to take that role but he has failed. He hasn’t the power or stature to do so, he is a statue."

Despite the differences in these Arab countries, uncertainty in the movement that has declined and the disorganization of the opposition, respondents agree when Basha says:

"A country is not a family business run by a dictator and his group of bandits. A nation should be run by and for people."

And he goes on to say: "To our friends in Mexico I say that freedom is worth more than all, and they should strive to preserve it."

As I have repeatedly stated, and many (as here) concur, leadership is paramount. Absent strong, charismatic and capable leaders the Occupy movement is doomed.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 5 years 18 weeks ago

Mahybe subcommandante Marcos will come back out of the woodwork. Can he bury the hatchet with Lopez-Obrador?

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 5 years 18 weeks ago

Anarchism and libertarianism are quite different (despite the fact that the terms are not used consistently). Really you have to look at the whole history behind each movement to see the quite different nature. Anarchism has an entirely different ethos and ethic and has emerged from within and entirely different strata of society than libertarianism. Most libertarians are right-wingers because they view human nature as 'evil'; they just draw a different conclusion from this than conservatives: democratic government is evil because it is nothing more than the rabble taking out its ire upon the elites. Libertarianism is more concerned with a certain form of property rights which allow the elite to preserve their (social) heirarchical status and power. Anarchists promote and have employed consensus building and co-operative forms of industry and community building.

Alberto Ceras 5 years 18 weeks ago

Marcos was no leader. A showman, an opportunist beating his own drum with the aid of Naomi Klein and other decent but misinformed and misguided people who desperately grasped - in ignorance - at the slimmest straw that might float a communist revival, just as did others who sped off to Venezuela to kiss the polished boots of Chavez.

I doubt that Naomi Klein ever visited Chiapas. I certainly never met her there.

Do read or get someone to translate this letter for you:

Here're some excerpts (in Spanish) from the letter:

Le confieso que para mí, señor Marcos, usted representaba algo diferente: una especie de rayo de coherencia. Ahora advierto mi gravísimo error. Le había otorgado una categoría que no merece. Usted no es más que un barco a la deriva. Cuando al principio, al frente de su "Ejército", contaba con la simpatía de muchas personas (la mía incluida), tuvo usted ocasión de llevar la causa indígena a buen puerto, pero erró el rumbo y ahora ya sabemos por qué. No necesita usted quitarse la máscara para haberse desenmascarado: usted, sencillamente, no cree en los derechos esenciales del hombre ni en la democracia, ni siquiera en los derechos cívicos de su propio pueblo.

En cambio usted se parapeta cobardemente en una suerte de atalaya que le convierte en un ser extraño, exótico, un espectro detrás de una máscara y de una ridícula pipa. No suelo dar consejos, pero aquí va uno: abandone usted el disfraz y su escondite, demuestre que es un líder, dé la cara, enfréntese a la sociedad mexicana, defienda sus ideas en igualdad de condiciones; dígale adiós a las armas, permita que sus hombres sean libres, no secuestre ni mancille a la Democracia. De "gachupín a gachupín" (porque no dudo que usted tiene sangre "gachupina" en las venas) y con el mayor respeto y admiración hacia México, país entrañable al que tanto debemos los españoles incluidos los vascos, le reto cuando usted quiera y donde usted quiera, a que sin máscaras ni disfraces, cara a cara, podamos hablar del terrorismo, de rebeldía, de dignidad, de lucha, de insurgencia, de política, de justicia, de todos aquellos valores que sirven para construir un país y una democracia y defender los derechos de los que menos tienen. "Hoy es siempre todavía", decía Antonio Machado. Albergo la tenue esperanza de que recobre usted la razón que parece haber extraviado y ese fondo democrático que, quizá alguna vez, tuvo.

Fdo. Baltasar Garzón Real


3 de diciembre del 2002

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 5 years 18 weeks ago

"Anarchists promote and have employed consensus building and co-operative forms of industry and community building."

That sounds pretty good, Nimblecivet. I must admit that I don't know much about anarchism, but that description seems reasonable but not like what I would consider anarchy to be; it seems more like hands-on, localized democracy.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 5 years 18 weeks ago

That's why although I embrace democratic socialism I want to emphasize a variety that has been disassociated with capitalism. While I would concede the possibility of "capital" existing in some sense as a component of a market economy, the vision of democratic socialism I see developing is one where decision making has been decentralized. For a sophisticated market to continue to function under those circumstances perhaps a franchise-type model has potential for allowing decentralized decision making and regional variation while still allowing industrialized means of production to be driven by syndicalist congresses.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 5 years 18 weeks ago

Well, Obama is now building military bases in Chile; and the ETA is supposed to be one of the terrorist groups we are worried about. I still can't use the bathrooms in the BART because of 9-11, so now what? Perhaps Obama is a socialist after all.

Quote Subcommandante Marcos:

You and we know quite well that the EZLN has not merely not carried out any military action against civilians. You also know that we condemn those types of attacks, which usually claim the greatest number of victims among persons who do not even know what the issue is about.

Your actions have caused not a few civilian victims. Among them are persons who sympathized with our cause and who, like the rest of the civilian victims, died with the anguish of not knowing why.

We believe that the struggle of the Basque people for their sovereignty is just and legitimate, but neither that noble cause, nor any other, is justification for the sacrifice of civilian lives. ...

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 5 years 18 weeks ago

Well, I think we need multi-level government all the way from international to local, but what doesn't need to be done at the higher levels should be done locally (decentralized). Thinking about your definition of anarchism, Nimblecivet, I think the defining characteristic is a lack of placing authority in a particular leader, such as a President. This can work great on a local scale. On the larger scale, there needs to be some sort of authority, but I have sometimes wondered whether a group of decision makers (an odd number of them such as 5, 7, or 9) might work better than having a single President. Thom has often said that most nations have a policy making leader (usually called a Prime Minister) and a separate head of state (usually called President, or a monarch). As Alberto states, it appears to us that it would be difficult for the Occupy Movement to move forward in a cohesive fashion without some sort of leadership, eventually.

Alberto Ceras 5 years 18 weeks ago

Ocosingo rose to national prominence during the Zapatista uprising of 1994. It was occupied by the EZLN along with several other towns in Chiapas (including San Cristóbal). The EZLN retreated from most towns before the arrival of the Mexican army but not so in Ocosingo. Thus, the town saw several days of intense fighting, leaving dozens of rebels, soldiers and civilians dead.

Baltasar Garzón Real has never, to my knowledge, claimed that Marcos and the Zapatistas (EZLN) killed innocent civilians although they may have done so in Ocosingo. What he did censure, forcefully and eloquently, was Marcos’ strong support for the violent Basque separatist movement and its terrorist organization, ETA, a movement that has resulted in the indiscriminate slaughter of many Spanish innocents. I have searched for an English language translation of Baltasar Garzón´s letter to Marcos without success. I can only suggest that you ask someone to translate it for you if you care to look at both sides of the polemic. Below I’ve pasted information from Internet concerning the Basque separatist movement and ETA that Marcos supported, however Fernando Savater’s magnificent book “Contra Las Patrias” is even more informative concerning that violent, terrorist movement. Unfortunately I don’t believe that the book has been translated into English.

The Mexican government may well have been involved in the Acteal massacre as Marcos claimed. I doubt that the public will ever know. I'm not sure what Marcos meant to imply by his reference to it in his exchange with (former) Judge Baltasar Garzón. Sr. Garzón hadn't commented on any actual or supposed actons by Mexico's leaders or by its government.

As an aside, I’m aware of only three formal indictments of the Bush administration’s crimes against humanity that have been presented to the International Criminal Court. Sr. Baltasar Garzón filed one, a friend of mine in Australia filed another and I submitted one in Spanish. The only reply (in English) that I received was a curt note that I should in future use one of the official languages approved by the ICC. Spanish, of course, is one of the official languages but apparently my respondent didn’t know this. Unfortunately the timing was bad. The ICC was looking forward to its new buildings in The Hague, largely funded by the U.S.A. When it came to a choice between new headquarters and justice the ICC, not wanting to anger its benefactor, apparently opted for the new buildings. But we three had hopes, we are still waiting.

Here, then, on ETA:

20 October 2011

What is ETA?

The 2006 Madrid airport bomb demolished a car park, and the peace process


For four decades, the armed organisation Eta has waged a bloody campaign for independence for the seven regions in northern Spain and south-west France that Basque separatists claim as their own.

On 5 September 2010, it announced a decision not to carry out further attacks. In January 2011, it declared a permanent and "internationally verifiable" ceasefire.

The group had declared at least two ceasefires before, but abandoned them both.

Euskadi Ta Azkatasuna, ETA, whose name stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom, first emerged in the 1960s as a student resistance movement bitterly opposed to General Franco's repressive military dictatorship.

Under Franco the Basque language was banned, their distinctive culture suppressed, and intellectuals imprisoned and tortured for their political and cultural beliefs.

The Basque country saw some of the fiercest resistance to Franco. His death in 1975 changed all that, and the transition to democracy brought the region of two million people home rule.

But despite the fact that Spain's Basque country today enjoys more autonomy than any other - it has its own parliament, police force, controls education and collects its own taxes - ETA and its hardline supporters have remained determined to push for full independence.

Its violent campaign has led to more than 820 deaths over the last 40 years, many of them members of the Guardia Civil, Spain's national police force, and both local and national politicians who are opposed to ETA's separatist demands.

However, in recent years the group has been under pressure. Although it has mounted occasional attacks, experts believe that concerted political and police action has squeezed its capabilities.

A couple of terse comments on Marcus:

Naive and Abroad – Mexico Painted Mask by Marcus Henderson Wilder

Subcomandante Marcos is an opportunistic poseur.

Marcos is Rafael Guillén, - former philosophy teacher – son of a Tampico furniture dealer. Rafael markets the Marcos brand. Rafael isn’t much. Today no one cares what Marcos does.

Rafael wants to be Che. Like Che, Rafael attacks capitalism where there is none.

The risk, of course, in those kinds of scenarios is that, as in Chiapas, opportunistic "leaders" as Rafael Sebastián Guillén, aka Subcomandante Marcos, will try to seize control of the social movement to subordinate it to his larger agenda.

Does all this have anything to do with the Occupy movement and the absence of leadership? Maybe.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 5 years 18 weeks ago

From what I could tell after looking over the letter it seems really that Real is interested in defending the moral integrity of the institutions of the state. The letter I quoted above is here:

It seems from this letter that Marcos is careful to maintain a principled stance. I don't see how Real's tendentious criticisms are based on any real culpability of the Zapatistas for terrorists acts committed by Basque separatists. It is Real that sees a threat where there is none, to the principles he defends from Marcos. But the Zapatistas have done nothing more than forge alliances for the purposes of fighting neoliberalism and neocolonialism. If there were an actual global movement that called itself "Occupy" then the logical thing to do would be to expand alliances in such a way as to encourage uniformity of tactics and strategy.

Of course, there really is no such movement. The organizational capacity isn't there to even convene a congress. Tunisia recently closed its border to Libya due to the continued factional squabbling there. Chaos by design; and who is the opportunist spouting high-minded, righteous rhetoric? Of course its us, denying that we are assisting the rebels in Syria, afraid of the U.N. becoming a forum for mutual recrimination. At least Marcos and the EZLN had the sense to make sure that to the extent there was no capitalism in Chiapas- that it stayed that way.

Alberto Ceras 5 years 18 weeks ago

Neither Sr. Baltazar Garzón nor I attributed culpability for any terrorist act of the Basque separatist movement to Marcos and the EZLN. What Sr. Garzón objected to was Marcos' stated support for the separatist movement and his implied endorsement of terrorist acts committed by that movement. Marcos hastily back pedaled in subsequent letters as in your short quote from one of them:

"We believe that the struggle of the Basque people for their sovereignty is just and legitimate, but neither that noble cause, nor any other, is justification for the sacrifice of civilian lives. ..."

Yes, I've read the particular Marcos' letter that you cite. Perhaps you have misread it. There were several letters and all of them - as I've found out - have been translated into English and published by CounterPunch. It's important to begin at the beginning with the Sub's first one, to read all the letters very carefully. None of the letters published by CounterPunch are bogus, they are translated with great care just as written by the protagonists. While Marcos labels Garzón a clown the letters clearly reveal that the true clown is Marcos himself. Click on this for all the letters, in order and in English:

If you would care to go further and to learn about the courageous and principled Sr. Baltazar Garzón, a personal hero, click on this URL:

Just in case, and for anyone interested, I've copied and pasted tne entire section "Without Fear or Favour." That section will now appear just above this comment. In addition, if you would be interested in learning - in truly learning so that you might pontificate with some measure of authority - about the indigenous peoples of Mexico's Chiapas and Oaxaca I might be able to arrange for you to spend time in those rugged mountains. I warn you, though, it would be both arduous and dangerous. Your only friends would be your wit and your courage - no one would protect you, feed or house you - and though you might have both qualities in good measure they might not be enough to save you.

But why go on about Marcos and the Zapatistas, events that happened in the recent past? Wouldn’t it be better to concentrate on the fragmentation of the Occupy movement, the winterization of the Arab spring and the spectacular decline of the U.S., its perpetual war and its wanton slaughter of innocents - the elderly, women and children?

As for Egypt's troubles, sadly representative of the course the "Arab Spring" has taken (with push from the U.S.'s not so subtle intervention), read this from the recent CounterPunch:

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 5 years 18 weeks ago

Great article on Counterpunch about Egypt. Three things about what's happened in Egypt: 1) the Egyptian people of all stripes seem to be unanimous about rejecting the IMF, 2) they will be more independant in regard to their relationship with Israel, and 3) the elections will be held without outside monitoring (unless that is something the Islamist and secularist groups agree on: to let the Carter Center back in to monitor the elections).

No, I won't be taking any trips to Chiapa or Oaxaca regrettably. For one thing I have developed a frequent urination problem although I have radically cut back on coffee so maybe I will be able to totally reverse the condition. No, I'm pretty much stuck in this sh**hole. Thanks for the offer though.

Is there such a thing as the "Arab Spring" in the first place, much less an "Occupy" "movement" of even national much less international scope? There has to be some kind of explanation for the region-wide set of uprisings in the Middle East. I am skeptical of the "all of a sudden the people rose up" theory. At the same time, the US actions in Libya and Syria seem to be reacting to events in order to try to guide them. Do you see any evidence of outside involvement in Egypt, eg Iran or Russia? Is it possible that the Occupy movement itself has been a form of controlled dissent, engineered to redirect discontent? It seems as though the general populace has already forgotten the sense of outrage and creation of a popular movement which was palpable a year ago. And yet things are not getting better, they just aren't getting worse as quickly.

Alberto Ceras 5 years 18 weeks ago

This is the man Marcos called a clown. If only there were such "clowns" in the U.S.

(a note: it is incorrect to refer to Sr. Baltasar Garzón as Sr. Real. Real is the paternal name of Sr. Garzón's mother. Sr. Real is her father)

Beginning with page 7:

Without fear or favour

Born in 1955, from a working-class Andalucian family, Baltasar Garzón Real was a radical newcomer in a court which was yet to recover from the Francoist dictatorship. Garzón entered the Judiciary at 23 and joined the Audiencia Nacional - the National Court at 32. Attached to the Juzgado Central de Instrucción No. 5 - the Fifth Chamber of the Central Criminal Court, his function was that of investigating the cases which were assigned to him, of gathering evidence and evaluating whether a case should be brought to trial. He would not ordinarily try the cases himself.

In time Judge Garzón played a key role in indicting suspected Basque terrorists: Euskadi Ta Askatasuna - Basque Homeland and Freedom; E.T.A. had murdered Carmen Tagle, one of Garzón’s prosecuting colleagues in 1989. Garzón took charge of many anti-E.T.A. operations and, more controversially, against E.T.A.’s political wing and Basque newspapers. In May 1998 he would disband Koordinora Arbetzale Sozialista – K.A.S., an association of groups seeking independence with violent means, on the grounds that it was for all purposes a strategic arm of E.T.A. Two months later he closed down the newspaper Egin, regarded as the mouthpiece for E.T.A., a move which raised questions concerning freedom of the press in Spain. In September 2000, in an operation involving 300 policemen, he ordered the arrest of members of Ekin, an organisation seen as the successor of K.A.S. In October 2002 Garzón suspended the operations of the Batasuna Party for three years, again alleging direct connections with E.T.A. In February 2003 he ordered the closure of Egunkaria, a Basque newspaper.

In 1990 Garzón personally led police operations against a Colombian-related drug syndicate. The still young judge meant business.

In 1993 Garzón took leave of absence to run for a seat in the Spanish Parliament as an independent in the list of the Partido Socialista Obrero Español, Spanish Socialist Workers Party the P.S.O.E. which returned to govern in 2004, but lost power in 2011. He won a seat, but he might soon have gained the impression that the embattled Socialist Party had taken him on board mainly for window dressing. In 1994 he resigned and returned to his former post.

As investigating magistrate he was in charge of some of Spain’s high-profile cases, involving drug trafficking, corruption in high places, and that of the Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación - Antiterrorist Liberation Groups, G.A.L., the shady hit-squad set up by officials within the very government he had left to fight a dirty war against the Basque separatists. Several of Garzón’s former political allies ended up in gaol. Garzón charged that Spain’s interior ministry financed a campaign waged by mercenaries and radical right-wingers - the G.A.L. Police officers were involved and Socialist ministers helped cover it up. This led to trial and convictions of several high positioned civil servants and of the Interior Minister José Barrionuevo Peña. That made Garzón no friends from ‘the Left' of politics.

His prominence as an international figure had begun with his indictment of leaders of the former Argentine military junta, on charges of genocide, terrorism and torture during the 1976-1983 dictatorship. The National Court had assigned him this duty. By 1996 Garzón was ready to test the limits of international human rights law by opening genocide investigations into the Chilean and Argentine dictatorships. He explored the reach of universal jurisdiction by claiming that former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet could be tried in Spain for the crimes he had committed - as he could not be tried in Chile.

The doctrine of universal jurisdiction empowers national authorities to investigate and prosecute any person suspected of crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances - which are crimes under international law, regardless of where the crime was committed or the nationality of the accused and of the victim, and to award reparations to victims and their families. Garzón had become famous for applying such a doctrine extensively. In 2009 the application of the doctrine was severely circumscribed by the Spanish Parliament.

In 1998 Garzón issued an international arrest warrant when he learned that Pinochet was in London for a medical check-up. British police arrested Pinochet in October1998. Pinochet was held under house arrest in London, pending a decision on his extradition to Spain, until March 2000, when the Home Secretary of the Blair Government decided to release him on the ground that the dictator was deemed unfit to stand trial.

Also in 1998 Garzón sought the extradition of 46 former military and civilian officials from Argentina, including former junta members Jorge Rafael Videla and Emilio Massera. But the extradition request was turned down by then President Carlos Menem (1989-1999) - who had pardoned the dictators, and by his successor Fernando de la Rúa (1999-2001).

Pursuing Pinochet and other butchers and trans-border criminals would win Garzón many points of merit from the Left, but eternal enmity from the Right.

In 1999 Garzón opened an investigation in the affairs of Jesús Gil, the former mayor of Marbella and owner of Atlético Madrid, on grounds of corruption. Gil was convicted in 2002. On 17 October 2008 Garzón formally declared the acts of repression committed by the Franco regime to be crimes against humanity, and accounted them in more than one hundred thousand killings during and after the Spanish civil war. He also ordered the exhumation of 19 unmarked mass graves, one of them believed to contain the remains of the poet Federico García Lorca.

On 17 November 2008 Garzón said that he was dropping the investigation against Franco and his allies after state prosecutors questioned his jurisdiction over crimes committed 70 years before by people who are now dead and whose crimes were said to be covered by the amnesty passed in 1977. In a 152-page statement, he passed responsibility to regional courts for opening the 19 mass graves believed to hold the remains of hundreds of victims.

In March 2009 Garzón considered whether Spain should allow charges to be filed against former officials from the United States Government under President George W. Bush for offering justifications for torture. The six former Bush officials are: Alberto Gonzales, former Attorney General; John Yoo, of the Office of Legal Counsel; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy; William Haynes II, former general counsel for the Department of Defense; Jay Bybee, also at Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel; and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff. The investigation - it is said - had gone pretty perilously close to Vice-President Cheney.

In 2001 Garzón extended his investigation into the anti-competitive activity of corporations controlled by Europe favourite joker, the former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and attempted, unsuccessfully, to have him extradited to Spain on the ground of tax fraud and breach of anti-trust laws through a stake in Spanish TV company Telecinco.

In 2003 Garzón indicted Osama bin Laden over the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States.

In 1999 and 2000 Garzón had filed charges against two Argentine officers in connexion with the disappearance of Spanish citizens during Argentina’s ‘dirty war' of 1976-1983. In 2005 Adolfo Scilingo was prosecuted in Spain for terrorism, torture and attempted genocide - as the aim of the military regime at the time was the destruction of an entire group, its opponents. The original sentence of 640 years imprisonment was increased to 1,084 years in 2007. Miguel Cavallo was charged with genocide, terrorism and torture. He was eventually extradited to Argentina on 31 March 2008 where he is currently awaiting trial.

Then Garzón turned to more recent and continuing crimes.

In 2002 Garzón sought to interview former State Secretary Henry Kissinger over what the United States Government knew about Operation Condor. This Operation involved an agreement among six former Latin American dictatorships - Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay - to kidnap and assassinate, leaving no trace, each regime’s political opponents. There being no dead bodies, the conspirators could deny everything. The victims were henceforth referred to as los desaparecidos - the disappeared. The use of the term ‘enforced disappearances’ in international treaties derives from the ‘dirty wars' in Latin America during the period.

In 2005 Garzón called for a ‘truth commission’ to investigate crimes against humanity during the Franco dictatorship, which lasted from the end of the civil war in 1939 to his death in 1975.

On 29 April 2009 Garzón opened an investigation into a ‘systematic programme’ of torture at Guantánamo Bay, following accusations by four former prisoners. Garzón said that documents declassified by the United States Administration and carried by U.S. media “have revealed what was previously a suspicion: the existence of an authorised and systematic programme of torture and mistreatment of persons deprived of their freedom” - and that flouts international conventions. This points to the possible existence of concerted actions by the U.S. administration for the execution of a multitude of crimes of torture against persons deprived of their freedom in Guantánamo and other prisons including that of Bagram in Afghanistan.

Judge Garzón’s inquiry could have been the first formal examination of criminal activity which could have led to a number of U.S. officials being charged with violations of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture, which have been signed and ratified by the United States. It seems that in September 2009 Garzón was preparing to the next phase of his investigation.

In using the expression ‘crime against humanity' to describe some of the crimes perpetrated by American ‘Intelligence’ during the past fifty years, Judge Garzón was taking a highly controversial step. He told the BBC: “These days, crimes against humanity are a burning issue, wherever you look in the world - be it Afghanistan, Iraq or Darfur - enough countries to make you realise that this theme never ceases to make the news, just as the fight against this scar, this impunity, never ceases. And if we are referring to the investigations being carried out in Spain in relation to universal justice or eras gone by, then justice needs to follow its course within the parameters of the law. That is what we judges try to do.” By 2005 Garzón could confidently believe that the principle of universal jurisdiction was firmly established in Spain. Or so he thought.

Judge Garzón’s troubles stem from the fact that he is no ordinary judge; he is more interested in imparting justice than in blandly administering the law Some of Garzón fellow-judges visibly displayed their disapproval: judges are accustomed to ‘discretion’. The Spanish Judiciary typically does not look well on magistrates who draw attention to themselves. And that may be an understatement. Some loathe him - for them he is but an abuser of the law to aggrandise himself. Others, though timorously, envy him as a courageous and imaginative defender of justice.

“Other judges are critical of him because they would never dare do the things he has done.” said Carlos Jimenez Villarejo, formerly Spain’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor. José María Mena, a former public prosecutor, summed it up thus: “If he were a tame, lazy judge, he would not have these sorts of problems.”

Judge Garzón was anything but lazy. He had to be stopped. The Spanish Right would swear to finish Judge Garzón after he opened the Gürtel case, a corruption case which exploded in 2009 and involved high figures of the Partido Popular - Popular Party, then the Right-wing opposition and a linear successor of Franquismo, especially its regional governments in Madrid and Valencia. The Judge carefully examined contracts, backhanders and possibly illegal party funding.

It will be seen that the Gürtel case, and not as much as the investigation into Franco’s systematic butchery, was the catalyser of Spanish re-born neo-Francoist offensive. Yes, it is true that some of the last voices of Franco’s regime spoke loudly against Garzón investigation of los desaparecidos - the disappeared. Manuel Fraga Iribarne, who died last January at age almost 90, was one such voice. He was one of the relics of the Franco regime. He had been for many, crucial years Franco’s Ambassador to the Court of St. James and later Minister of Information - read propaganda - and had survived to become the ferryman for many Francoists into the Partido Popular - Popular Party that he founded and which was later to be led by José María Aznar, and is presently led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey.

Rajoy was Aznar’s Minister of Public Administration from 1996 to 1999 and Minister of Education from 1999 to 2000; he then served as Deputy Prime Minister from 2000 to 2003. Rajoy was successful in becoming Prime Minister on 21 December 2011. Fraga, the great mentor of them all, was still a Spanish senator at his death. In the past he had broadly orated that it was an error and absurd that a man could define himself as competent in a matter where it is debatable that anyone has competence given the Amnesty Law. And, anyway, “Politically it is a very serious error to revive the problems of the civil war.” Of course, he would say that.

But there are more recent and powerful voices. Once, as a Popular Party spokesperson in the Spanish Congress, appointed by Rajoy, the very young deputy for Madrid María Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría Antón said that there were “many defects in the process” and that Garzón wanted to reopen matters which were resolved in the transición - the so-called ‘transition to democracy' which is said to have taken place in 1977-1978 - and are not strictly judicial. The Prosecutors Office spoke also against the action of Garzón.

The fiction behind all this posturing is that a recent, dark period of Spanish history should never be investigated because of an unwritten, dubious political deal, euphemistically known as the pacto del olvido - a pact of forgetting, which is assumed to have been entered into by the parties emerging from the Francoist era

This and the amnesty of 15 October 1977 should prevent any examination of the crimes of the dictatorship. That pact and that law are the foundation of the ‘transition to democracy’. It is not a position which could be sustained in good faith. Nevertheless, the Spanish Public Prosecutor challenged the investigation, claiming that Garzón was not competent to raise the case, which was to be archived as falling under the 1977 Amnesty Law, and calling for the enforcement of the 1977 Law and of Spain’s statute of limitations. He argued that, even if the 1977 Law does not cover the crimes, under the Spanish Criminal Code in force when the civil war began, those offences should be considered ‘ordinary crimes’ and the statute of limitations had in fact expired. Under Spanish law most crimes are deemed to go unpunishable after a 20-year period.

Calls to rein in meddlesome judges - for there are others like Garzón - increased when they announced probes involving Israel, the United States and China. By mid-2009 the Spanish National Criminal Court had received complaints of human rights abuses from as far as Chile, Gaza, Guantánamo Bay, Guatemala, Rwanda and Tibet. Some ten cases from five continents were being investigated by Spanish judges, under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction.

These investigations were huge sources of headache for the then Spanish Government, and both major Parties would collude in seeking the limited application of the law, even the domestic reception of it.

nimblecivet's picture
nimblecivet 5 years 18 weeks ago

This just in: Parliament ruled unconstitutional.

Alberto Ceras 5 years 18 weeks ago

nimblecivet, the U.S. intervention (and here I can't give you specific citations without spending a lot of time searching) in support of Egypt's military is the most egregious intervention up to now. Egypt's military, the organization that controls most of Egypt's economy, has been sucking Uncle's tit for years and, in order not to lose those U.S. dollars, it will almost always accede to U.S. demands. The greatest fear of USrael is that Egypt might reject its peace accord with Israel, throw open its borders and begin to actively support the Palestinians. It was no accident that Lieberman and McCain, ardent supporters of Israel, were the first U.S. "officials" to visit Egypt during the Egyptian protests. The U.S. wants mightily for Egypt's military, an element that its money can control, to remain in power and it will not hesitate to use any and all devious means to see that it does. It is the sordid history of the U.S. that it always supports the most corrupt and ruthless rulers. Such leaders are most easily bought and most likely to be amenable to U.S. demands - for a price. Latin America no longer tolerates such blatant U.S. intervencion although I'm reasonably certain that the U.S. supports Mexico's corrupt political party, PRI, and its corrupt presidential candidate, Peña Nieto, in these coming elections. The U.S. views the possibility of PRD/PT's leftist candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez, coming to power as a disaster for U.S. aims. There's much more to this - it involves a thorough examination of the U.S.'s entire foreign policy. With enough searching, with enough reading, it might become clearer. The simplistic answer is that U.S. foreign policy is driven by Israel.

Alberto Ceras 5 years 17 weeks ago

nimblecivet, I had to leave hurriedly and cut my comment short. I think that you understand, though, that the U.S., as all countries, acts in ways that it believes are in its best interest. Those interests aren't customarily in the best interests of the people who live in the countries affected and may not even be in the interests of the U.S.'s own citizens. Right now the U.S. treats Israel's interests as synonymous with its own. Norman Finkelstein has recently published a book in which he claims that support for Israel is declining among U.S. Jews. I hope he's right. Amy Goodman discusses it here:

Yes, I believe both the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring are dead. The insistence of some in the Occupy movement on 100 percent consensus is illustrative of its naiveté. Such a goal is neither attainable nor desirable. And of course Occupy is too fragmented, too disorganized as a result of the fatal absence both of strong leadership and a precise, well articulated goal. As for Egypt, neither the U.S., the Egyptian army nor Israel could ever consider the prospect of a Muslim president and a Muslim parliament in control of Egypt, no matter how moderate. A tragic mistake. Intelligent leadership in the U.S. would have welcomed and used a moderate, anti-violent Muslim government to its great advantage as an ally in its "war on terrorism." That intelligent leadership just doesn't exist in the U.S.

Alberto Ceras 5 years 17 weeks ago

On eve of Egypt runoff election, revolution feels all but dead

“There is no strategy because we have no strategists,” said a frustrated Ahmed Naquib, spokesman for a group called the Trustees Council for the Revolution. “This is how we ended up here.”

And one comment (I assure you it isn’t mine, although it reads like it) to the story:



The so called revolution is not dead it never existed except in the media. The Middle East was not over run by revolution. The Middle East was overrun by one coup after another. And the unrest will continue until either by vote or by force of arms dictators are put in place that will either openly or covertly support israel. This isn't rocket science, it is plain old fashion might makes right. And in the case of the Middle East it is American might making israel right.

Alberto Ceras 5 years 17 weeks ago

I'm posting this partly to try and combat the spam, partly because I like poetry. I copied and pasted one by Borges on Natural Lefty's blog. Here's another of my favorites, one by Cavafy, the poet of Alexandria:

The City

by C. P. Cavafy

You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,

find another city better than this one.

Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong

and my heart lies buried like something dead.

How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?

Wherever I turn, wherever I look,

I see the black ruins of my life, here,

where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.

This city will always pursue you.

You’ll walk the same streets, grow old

in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.

You’ll always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:

there’s no ship for you, there’s no road.

Now that you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,

you’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.

Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems

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The America I Knew Has Almost Disappeared

Like an alcoholic family that won't discuss alcoholism (and proving Don Quixote's warning to never mention rope in the home of a man who's been hanged), far too many Americans are unwilling to acknowledge or even discuss the ongoing collapse of democracy in the United States.