News from the Eritrean Democratic Party

Remembering Eritrea-Ethiopia border war: Africa's unfinished conflictNews

Posted by Admin Jun 06, 2018 14:04:57

What we hear these days, if it is true and genuine then it sounds good and hopeful. If it is going to be the normalization of the relation between Eritrea and Ethiopia then Ethiopia should be ready to respect Eritrea's territorial sovereignty and integrity and withdraw from the occupied territories immediately as a sign of good will and start without any delay the process of demarcating the border. Since the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s (EEBC) decision was ‘final and binding’ we The EDP applaud the decision of Ethiopia to respect the commission´s ruling after 16 years and is ready to implement it without further delay.

The previous decision of Ethiopia to have a dialog before the demarcating process was a bad idea because the case has already gone to arbitration at that point, and was what polluted the political atmosphere between the two countries for so long but now with this new decision we in the EDP are confident that this will trigger the needed normalization process between the two neighboring countries.

Remembering Eritrea-Ethiopia border war: Africa's unfinished conflict

By Tesfalem Araia

BBC Tigrinya

6 May 2018

Ethiopian soldiers pose 19 May 2000 on the road 14km outside Barentu, an Eritrean town that they took 18 May. After taking control of the key town of Barentu, Ethiopia said today it was ready to talk peace with its Horn of Africa neighbour

Ethiopian soldiers after taking control of the Eritrean town of Barentu in May 2000

Two decades have passed since two of Africa's poorest countries began the continent's deadliest border war.

The conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia left tens of thousands dead or injured in the space of just two years.

But despite a peace deal signed in December 2000, the two sides remain on a war footing - their massive armies still facing off.

So what happened 20 years ago to spark Africa's unfinished war - and what hope is there that it might finally come to an end?

'Two men fighting over a comb'

The war began on 6 May, 1998, sparked by a battle for control of the border town of Badme - a humble, dusty market town with no apparent value.

It had neither oil nor diamonds, but it did not matter: both Eritrea and Ethiopia wanted it on their side of the border. At the time, the war was described as "two bald men fighting over a comb".

As the war spread, so did the massive displacement of communities.

"This war destroyed families on both sides," recalls Kasahun Woldegiorgis, who comes from the Ethiopian town of Adigrat, close to the border.

An Ethiopian woman stands by in front of ruins in the Ethiopian town of Zala Ambesa, 20 February 2001, devastated by the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea

A woman sits among the ruins of Zala Ambesa, Ethiopia, in 2001

"We are intermarried across the border and we cannot attend each other's weddings or funerals," says Asgedom Tewelde, who comes from Zalambesa, a town once divided in two by the border.

"There was a family from a village called Serha on the Eritrean side of the border and their daughter married someone on the Ethiopian side. Later, after the war, she died, but her family could only see the funeral procession from a hilltop across the border."

Is this the man to change Ethiopia?

Why has Ethiopia imposed a state of emergency?

It was not just family ties: the economic impact on the border trading communities was significant too.

"The active commercial activities that we used to see before the war no longer take place," says Kiflom Gebremedhin, from a border village on the Eritrean side.

The border ruling

The war ended in June 2000, but it was another six months until a peace agreement was signed, establishing the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission.

It was meant to settle the dispute over Badme once and for all. But its "final and binding" ruling 18 months later, awarding Badme to Eritrea, was not accepted by Ethiopia without the preconditions of further negotiations with Eritrea. Eritrea, in turn, refuses to talk to its former ally until the ruling is adhered to.

With neither side budging from their respective positions, peace between them remains elusive.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika hugs Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki (L) and Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi 12 December 2000

Algeria's Abdelaziz Bouteflika (c) brokered the deal between Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki (left) and then-Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (right)

Border skirmishes continue - either directly, or through rebel groups acting on their behalf. All the while, Badme remains in Ethiopian hands.

And there have been other, bigger implications for the two countries - and the wider world.

Treacherous sea crossing

Eritrea says it needs a constant large army due to the "continuous occupation of Eritrean territories by Ethiopia" - and it feeds that army with compulsory national service.

However, what was originally designed to last for only 18 months can last indefinitely.

For many of those who don't want to enlist, the only way out is to flee.

Why do so many people want to leave Eritrea for Europe?

Has Eritrea's migration problem been exaggerated?

Can jobs in Ethiopia keep Eritrean refugees out of Europe?

Today, they crowd into large refugee camps in Ethiopia and Sudan, or risk their lives to trying to reach Europe through the Sahara Desert and over the Mediterranean Sea.

Eritreans make up one of the largest groups attempting to make the crossing, despite the fact many have died, drowning in the treacherous sea, or falling victim to militants and traffickers who control the route.


24 May 1993: Eritrean independence from Ethiopia officially declared

6 May 1998: Border war beings

18 June 2000: Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities signed

12 December 2000: Algiers Peace Agreement signed

13 April 2002: The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission delivered its "final and binding" ruling

Eritrea also uses the conflict with Ethiopia to justify suspending the constitution, banning free press and quashing any dissent.

During a crackdown in 2001, many of the editors and journalists of the fledgling private newspapers were detained.

A map showing Ethiopia and Eritrea

At the same time, prominent leaders of the ruling People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) who criticised President Isaias Afewerki's handling of the war and his reluctance to be accountable, were also detained. Their whereabouts remains a mystery to this day.

Political prisoners never appear before courts and visitations are not permitted. Government officials accuse those detained of endangering the country's "national security".

Eritrea is accused by the UN Human Rights Commission for serious violation of human rights violations, including possible crimes against humanity.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia, which is also accused of human rights abuses, appears more concerned with internal political instability than the border town of Badme. It has recently declared a state of emergency, in an attempt to quell protest movements across the country.

Imagining peace

But could the stand off over Badme finally be coming to an end?

The newly elected Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has called for a peaceful resolution of the impasse and extended an olive branch for talks to the Eritreans, who dismissed the offer as similar to those made by previous Ethiopian leaders.

"Peace will indeed be beneficial to the two peoples but obviously, this must be predicated on respect of international law, which Ethiopia continues to flout to-date," Minister of Information Yemane Gebremeskel said.

However, the recent visit by Donald Yamamoto, the US acting Assistant Secretary of State, to Eritrea for the first time in a many years has added to the renewed hope. He also travelled to Ethiopia on the same visit.

The border area between Ethiopia and the Temporary Security Zone and the Eritrean border in the northern town of Zala Anbesa in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, 19 November 2005There is hope that the road from Ethiopia to Eritrea will one day reopen

"The people are demanding peace on both sides and it is good to hear that political leaders are talking of peace now," Eritrean Kiflom Gebremedhin says.

"I am sure the people will put pressure on their governments and secure peace and return to their normal relations."

Over the border in Ethiopia, Kasahun Woldegiorgis is also hopeful.

"We believe this road [to Asmara] will not remain closed for ever," he says.

Sudan says ready to deal with security threat on eastern borderNews

Posted by Admin Jan 14, 2018 21:18:30

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-15 01:27:09

KHARTOUM, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Sudan said on Sunday that its army is ready to deal with any possible security threat on the country's eastern border.

"It is known that there are some opposition forces in our east, therefore, we are taking precautions for whatever may come from that direction," said Sudan's Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour at a joint press conference with his visiting Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu.

"We are not talking about a particular country, but we are on alert that someone is trying to harm us. We will reveal further details when time is appropriate," Ghandour noted.

He further reiterated readiness of the Sudanese army to confront any situations, adding that the forces had reallocated some of its troops to prepare for any possible changes that might harm Sudan's security.

The Ethiopian foreign minister, for his part, reiterated his country's pledge to make every effort to promote regional peace.

"We discussed regional and international issues. We are ready to work closely together to boost bilateral relations and we need peace in the region," said Gebeyehu.

Gebeyehu arrived in Khartoum on Sunday for an one-day visit to Sudan.

He delivered a message from the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Last Thursday, Sudan officially announced that there were potential security threats from Egypt and Eritrea following reported military moves in Eritrea's Sawa area near the border with Sudan's state of Kassala.

This coincided with Sudan's closure of all its border crossings with Eritrea and sending of military reinforcements to the country's eastern border. Enditem.

Sudan Officially Announces Potential Security Threats From Egypt, EritreaNews

Posted by Admin Jan 14, 2018 21:13:14

By Independent
Jan 11, 2018

Sudan on Thursday officially announced that there are potential security threats from Egypt and Eritrea on eastern Sudanese borders.

“The meeting of the Leadership Office of the (ruling) National Congress Party (NCP) has directed for continuation of security arrangements on Sudan’s eastern borders after receiving information on potential security threats from Egypt and Eritrea at Sawa area,†Ibrahim Hamid, NCP’s Deputy Chairman, said in a statement.

Sudan announced on Monday the closure of its eastern border with Eritrea and deployed thousands of troops along the border area.

Earlier news reports pointed out that Egyptian military reinforcements have reportedly arrived in Eritrea’s military base of Sawa.

On January 4, Sudan said it decided to recall its ambassador to Egypt for consultations.

Relations between Egypt and Sudan have been tense over the past years on various issues, including their difference over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Ethiopia is building on the main sources of the Nile River.

The two countries also have a territorial dispute over the border region of Halayeb and Shalateen, which are currently under Egyptian control.

Sudan on Monday renewed a complaint to the UN Security Council demanding that Egypt hand over control of the border region of Halayeb.

Cairo and Khartoum has a long-standing territorial dispute over Halayeb, which is currently under Egyptian control.

Since 1958, Sudan has been annually renewing complaints at the UN Security Council over Halayeb, which it wants to settle through either dialogue with Egypt or international arbitration.

In 2016, Egypt rejected a request from Khartoum to enter negotiations or to seek international arbitration.

Sudan officially closes eastern border with EritreaNews

Posted by Admin Jan 14, 2018 21:07:35

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-07 01:15:38

KHARTOUM, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Sudan on Saturday officially announced closure of its eastern border with Eritrea following deployment of thousands of Sudanese troops in Kassala State on the border with Eritrea, official SUNA news agency reported.

Kassala State Governor Adam Jamma issued the decision of closing all border crossings with Eritrea, attributing the reason to the state of emergency earlier declared in the state, the report said.

"The decision stipulates closing of all border crossings with Eritrea as of the evening of Jan. 5, 2018 until further instructions," it added.

The decision came hours after Sudanese government denied tension with Eritrea, saying the deployment of troops in Kassala State came within the framework of an emergency order and a decree relating to collecting arms and unlicensed vehicles, besides confronting human trafficking operations and smuggling of arms and commodities.

Thousands of soldiers of the Rapid Support Forces, an affiliate of the Sudanese army, recently arrived in the state.

On Dec. 30, 2017, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir issued a decree declaring a state of emergency in North Kordofan State in western Sudan and Kassala State in eastern Sudan.

According to the decree, the state of emergency will last six months.

Filipinos Nonviolent campaign to overthrow dictator (People Power), 1983-1986News

Posted by Admin Jan 06, 2018 16:30:13

Ferdinand Marcos was elected president of the Philippines in 1965. Marcos was reelected in 1969 and when barred to run for a third term, he declared martial law and gave himself near absolute power. Marcos assumed full control of the military, dissolved congress, and had many of his political opponents and critics arrested. One of his more prominent critics had been Senator Benigno Aquino who was prepared to challenge Marcos in the 1973 election, had it occurred.

Aquino would spend seven years in jail in the Philippines before he developed a heart condition. The Marcos regime had falsely convicted Aquino of murder and sentenced him to death, but the United States stepped in to provide him with proper treatment for his condition. Marcos allowed Aquino to leave the Philippines and receive treatment. Aquino would spend three years in the United States before deciding to return to the Philippines in 1983.

Aquino decided to return in order to remove Marcos from power. He made this decision despite having heard that many people would be looking to kill him when he returned. After having read the writings of Gandhi while incarcerated, he was inspired to employ nonviolence to overthrow Marcos.On August 21st 1983, Benigno Aquino arrived in the Philippines and almost immediately after landing, police vans surrounded his jet and three police officers shot and killed him.

The news of Aquino's death received intense international coverage, but Marcos prevented any media outlets in the Philippines from covering his death. Radio Veritas, however, did broadcast news of Aquino's death and the somber news inspired myriad grief and demonstrations. Aquino's mother, Aurora, made sure to leave her son's body as it was, unaltered for all the world to see. For days, Filipinos visited Aquino's body and paid homage to him and his struggle against Marcos.

Hundreds of thousands of supporters gathered at a symbolic park that honored a Filipino that had fought for independence from Spain. As the rain poured down on them, they put their fingers in the shape of an "L" to represent Aquino's political party, Laban. Others took to the streets holding banners that read "Justice for All Victims of Political Repression and Military Terrorism!"

Beginning in the fall of 1983, Filipinos chose yellow as the color to represent the campaign and office building employees would release tons of yellow confetti onto the streets on a weekly basis. As the Philippines sunk deeper and deeper into debt, business leaders became frustrated with Marcos and demanded reforms. Consequently, Marcos reinstated the vice presidency and reduced restrictions on age qualifications to run for president and vice president.

A key organizer in the campaign was former Senator Jose Diokno, who Marcos had also arrested in the 1970s. He started Justice for Aquino, Just for All (JAJA), which was an activist organization partially funded by Aquino's brother Agapito. Aquino's wife, Corazon would also play an important role in the campaign. Corazon organized a rally at Malacanang Palace, the former house of the government, that fell on the eleventh-year anniversary of the declaration of martial law and the one-month anniversary of Aquino's assassination. 15,000 demonstrators marched from the palace to the Mendiola Bridge, where marines fired at them and killed eleven demonstrators and injured hundreds more. The violence only spawned more resistance from the people.

In May 1984, new elections for parliament took place and opposition parties claimed 58 of the 183 available seats even though there were large allegations of election fraud. Corazon had publicly endorsed all of the candidates running for the opposition parties. The candidates were united as part of the United Democratic Action Organization (UNIDO), which was a coalition lead by Salvador Laurel. NAMFREL a volunteer organization with many nuns and other religious officials, oversaw the tallying of votes in the election in areas where they were allowed. NAMFREL rallied 200,000 volunteers to work during election day.

In July of the same year, Agapito Aquino led 20,000 protesters to occupy the Mendiola Bridge where much violence had occurred the year before. On the one-year anniversary of Aquino's assassination, renamed "National Day of Sorrow," 3,000 protesters organized a candlelight vigil at the same bridge. Police eventually used tear gas and water cannons to forcibly remove the protesters from the area.

In 1985, an investigation took place regarding the assassination of Aquino and enough evidence was found to put Chief of Staff Ver and 24 of his soldiers on trial, beginning in February. During the trial, General Ver did not serve as Chief of Staff. In August, oppositional party leaders filed a motion to impeach Marcos, but their request was denied by his regime. Three months later, Marcos announced that there would be an election for president and vice president a year earlier than planned, in 1986. The following month, in December, all on trial for the assassination were acquitted and Marcos reinstated Ver as Chief of Staff.

Corazon seized the opportunity in December to declare her candidacy for president in the upcoming elections. After having discussions with Laurel, who also wanted to run, she decided she would run for president and he would run for vice president. Several rallies were held leading up to the election. Less than two weeks before the elections, opposition groups held rallies in over twenty-four cities, totaling 355,000 demonstrators. The largest demonstration was held three days before the election; one million Filipinos participated in a rally to support Corazon and Laurel.

On February 7, the rushed election was held and the voter turnout easily surpassed the numbers that anyone could have expected. As results began to be tallied, the government-sponsored organization COMELEC had determined that Marco was going to win the election. The volunteer organization NAMFREL, however, determined that Corazon had a decisive lead over Marcos. Allegations of election fraud were rampant and two days after the election, thirty COMELEC workers walked out, disgusted by the election fraud. On February 13, the Catholic Bishops' Conference dismissed the election as being tampered with by Marcos and his regime.

On February 15, the Filipino parliament officially declared Marcos to be the winner. According to the assembly, Marcos had won by a count of 10,807,197 votes to Corazon's 9,292,761 votes. In response, opposition leaders left the assembly in protest. NAMFREL's data, however, suggested that Corazon had won by nearly 800,000 votes. The following day, Corazon held a national rally at the Luneta Park in Manila where she called for nationwide civil disobedience to overthrow Marcos. 1.5 million supporters attended the "Triumph of the People Rally." Three days later, the United States Congress condemned the election and voted to cut military support until Marcos stepped down.

Corazon, in her call for action, asked Filipinos to boycott businesses and establishments that were supportive of Marcos. As a result, Filipinos boycotted pro-Marcos media and withdrew money from banks known to have a relationship with Marcos' regime. Schools shut down as well and Filipinos stopped paying their bills. Filipinos also held a one-day general strike. As more and more Filipinos began utilizing civil disobedience, the campaign picked up a lot of momentum and unlikely support.

On the evening February 22, Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and General Fidel Ramos rescinded their support for Marcos. Afterwards, the two men took hundreds of soldiers and barricaded the Ministry of Defense near Camp Crame. The two military leaders were planning a coup against Marcos, but Marcos found out and sent troops to attack the rebel soldiers. Before this, however, Cardinal Sin asked people to come and support the revolution via Radio Veritas. Religious officials came out in masses to form a human barrier around the soldiers and their camp in order to stop any violent conflict from arising. They were successful.

Meanwhile, Luneta Park once again became a site of protest and demonstrations; 50,000 Filipinos rallied at Luneta Park, cheering for Corazon and calling for Marcos to step down. Pro-Marcos soldiers later arrived at the park and demonstrators greeted them with hugs and prayers. Some civilians tied yellow ribbons around the soldiers' weapons. A separate helicopter unit was called in, but they defected and flew to support their fellow soldiers who had gathered at Camp Crame.

On February 24, Corazon visited her supporters at the park and inspired opposition members of parliament to write a new resolution that revoked the results of the corrupt election and declared her president. 150 citizens signed their names onto the new proclamation. The following day, Aquino's mother swore Corazon in as president of the Philippines and Marcos fled the country with the help of the United States. The remarkably successful campaign came to an end, having demonstrated the power of the people in the face of a repressive leader.

Facts about Thomas Sankara in Burkina FasoNews

Posted by Admin Dec 23, 2017 10:28:56

Bildresultat för facts about thomas sankara

After renaming his country to Burkina Faso, here’s Thomas Sankara’s accomplishments, ONLY 4 YEARS in power (1983-87).

Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (21 December 1949 – 15 October 1987) was a Burkinabé military captain, Marxist revolutionary, pan-Africanist theorist, and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. Viewed by supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution, he is commonly referred to as “Africa’s Che Guevara”

· He vaccinated 2.5 million children against meningitis, yellow fever and

measles in a matter of weeks

· He initiated a nation-wide literacy campaign, increasing the literacy rate

from 13% in 1983 to 73% in 1987.

· He planted over 10 million trees to prevent desertification

· He built roads and a railway to tie the nation together, without foreign aid

· He appointed females to high governmental positions, encouraged them to work,
recruited them into the military, and granted pregnancy leave
during education.

· He outlawed female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy in support of
Women’s rights

· He sold off the government fleet of Mercedes cars and made the Renault 5 (the
cheapest car sold in Burkina Faso at that time) the official service car of the ministers.

· He reduced the salaries of all public servants, including his own, and

forbade the use of government chauffeurs and 1st class airline tickets.

· He redistributed land from the feudal landlords and gave it directly to the

peasants. Wheat production rose in three years from 1700 kg per hectare

to 3800 kg per hectare, making the country food self-sufficient.

· He opposed foreign aid, saying that “he who feeds you, controls you.”

· He spoke in forums like the Organization of African Unity against continued neo-
colonialist penetration of Africa through Western trade and finance.

· He called for a united front of African nations to repudiate their foreign

debt. He argued that the poor and exploited did not have an obligation to

repay money to the rich and exploiting

· In Ouagadougou, Sankara converted the army’s provisioning store into a

state-owned supermarket open to everyone (the first supermarket in the


· He forced civil servants to pay one month’s salary to public projects.

· He refused to use the air conditioning in his office on the grounds that

such luxury was not availab e to anyone but a handful of Burkinabes.

· As President, he lowered his salary to $450 a month and limited his

possessions to a car, four bikes, three guitars, a fridge and a broken


· A motorcyclist himself, he formed an all-women motorcycle personal guard.

· He required public servants to wear a traditional tunic, woven from Burkinabe
cotton and sewn by Burkinabe craftsmen. (The reason being to
rely upon local
industry and identity rather than foreign industry and

· When asked why he didn’t want his portrait hung in public places, as was

the norm for other African leaders, Sankara replied “There are seven

million Thomas Sankaras.”

· An accomplished guitarist, he wrote the new national anthem himself

Sankara seized power in a 1983 popularly supported coup at the age of 33, with the goal of eliminating corruption and the dominance of the former French colonial power. He immediately launched one of the most ambitious programmes for social and economic change ever attempted on the African continent. To symbolize this new autonomy and rebirth, he renamed the country from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso (“Land of Upright Man”). His foreign policies were centered on anti-imperialism, with his government eschewing all foreign aid, pushing for odious debt reduction, nationalizing all land and mineral wealth, and averting the power and influence of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. His domestic policies were focused on preventing famine with agrarian self-sufficiency and land reform, prioritizing education with a nationwide literacy campaign, and promoting public health by vaccinating 2.5 million children against meningitis, yellow fever, and measles. Other components of his national agenda included planting over ten million trees to halt the growing desertification of the Sahel, doubling wheat production by redistributing land from feudal landlords to peasants, suspending rural poll taxes and domestic rents, and establishing an ambitious road and rail construction program to “tie the nation together”. On the localized level Sankara also called on every village to build a medical dispensary and had over 350 communities construct schools with their own labour. Moreover, his commitment to women’s rights led him to outlaw female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy, while appointing women to high governmental positions and encouraging them to work outside the home and stay in school even if pregnant.

In order to achieve this radical transformation of society, he increasingly exerted authoritarian control over the nation, eventually banning unions and a free press, which he believed could stand in the way of his plans. To counter his opposition in towns and workplaces around the country, he also tried corrupt officials, “counter-revolutionaries” and “lazy workers” in Popular Revolutionary Tribunals. Additionally, as an admirer of Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution, Sankara set up Cuban-style Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs).

His revolutionary programs for African self-reliance made him an icon to many of Africa’s poor. Sankara remained popular with most of his country’s impoverished citizens. However his policies alienated and antagonised the vested interests of an array of groups, which included the small but powerful Burkinabé middle class, the tribal leaders whom he stripped of the long-held traditional right to forced labour and tribute payments, and France and its ally the Ivory Coast. As a result, he was overthrown and assassinated in a coup d’état led by Blaise Compaoré on October 15, 1987. A week before his murder, he declared: “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.”

On October 15, 1987, Sankara was killed by an armed group with twelve other officials in a coup d’état organised by his former colleague Blaise Compaoré. Deterioration in relations with neighbouring countries was one of the reasons given, with Compaoré stating that Sankara jeopardised foreign relations with former colonial power France and neighbouring Ivory Coast. Prince Johnson, a former Liberian warlord allied to Charles Taylor, told Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that it was engineered by Charles Taylor. After the coup and although Sankara was known to be dead, some CDRs mounted an armed resistance to the army for several days.

Sankara’s body was dismembered and he was quickly buried in an unmarked grave, while his widow Mariam and two children fled the nation. Compaoré immediately reversed the nationalizations, overturned nearly all of Sankara’s policies, rejoined the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to bring in “desperately needed” funds to restore the “shattered” economy,[34] and ultimately spurned most of Sankara’s legacy. Compaoré’s dictatorship remained in power for 27 years until overthrown by popular protests in 2014.

A transformational leader

Sankara’s visionary leadership turned his country from a sleepy West African nation with the colonial designation of Upper Volta to a dynamo of progress under the proud name of Burkina Faso (“Land of the Honorable People”). He led one of the most ambitious programs of sweeping reforms ever seen in Africa. It sought to fundamentally reverse the structural social inequities inherited from the French colonial order.

Sankara focused the state’s limited resources on the marginalized majority in the countryside. When most African countries depended on imported food and external assistance for development, Sankara championed local production and the consumption of locally-made goods. He firmly believed that it was possible for the Burkinabè, with hard work and collective social mobilization, to solve their problems: chiefly scarce food and drinking water.

In Sankara’s Burkina, no one was above farm work, or graveling roads–not even the president, government ministers or army officers. Intellectual and civic education were systematically integrated with military training and soldiers were required to work in local community development projects.

Sankara disdained formal pomp and banned any cult of his personality. He could be seen casually walking the streets, jogging or conspicuously slipping into the crowd at a public event. He was a rousing orator who spoke with uncommon candor and clarity and did not hesitate to publicly admit mistakes, chastise comrades or express moral objections to heads of powerful nations, even if it imperiled him. For example, he famously criticized French president François Mitterand during a state dinner for hosting the leader of Apartheid South Africa.

Who was Thomas Sankara?

· A captain in army of Upper Volta, a former French colony in West Africa

· Instrumental in the coup that ousted Col Saye Zerbo as president in 1982

· Took power from Maj Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo in an internal power struggle and
became president in August 1983

· Adopted radical left-wing policies and sought to reduce government corruption

· Changed the name of the country from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which means
“the land of upright men”

· Killed in mysterious circumstances by a group of soldiers in October 1987

El Salvadorans bring down a dictator, 1944News

Posted by Admin Dec 01, 2017 10:29:06


Protesters sought to bring an end to censorship and political repression, deny president Maximiliano Hernández Martínez an unconstitutionally mandated third term in office, and hold free elections.

In 1938, El Salvadoran president General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez proposed changing the country’s constitution so that he could continue holding his position beyond the end of his second term. When Martínez came to power in the early 1930s as a result of a coup, he extended his authority over the state by centralizing decision-making, and organizing the only legally operating political party, the Partido Nacional Pro-Patria. Following a communist and indigenous rebellion in the early 1930s, the government outlawed the Communist Party, banned peasant organizations, censored the press, imprisoned perceived or supposed subversives, targeted labor activists, and assumed direct control over universities. In addition to enforcing a state of siege during the twelve years that followed the rebellion, Martinez created a secret police force and hired informants to monitor private conversations.

In response to Martínez’s proposal to change the constitution to allow his continued rule, as well as his subsequent sacking of the undersecretary of defense who opposed the idea, other government officials—including the auditor general, treasury auditor, undersecretary of public instruction, the chief of the treasury legal staff, the public works undersecretary, and the finance undersecretary—decided to resign. However, given Martínez’s influence, the National Assembly awarded Martínez with a one-time suspension on the ban on consecutive terms.

Despite this granted permission, Martínez continued to face opposition. Students and university faculty were frustrated by the dictator’s control of academic appointments and professional licensing, and newspaper editors were irritated by the restrictions placed on what they printed. Junior officers were also frustrated by the regime’s concentration of privileges and opportunities to a select few.

In April of 1944, after an armed uprising failed to remove Martínez from power, university students began organizing against the regime. In response to the government’s bloody crackdown that followed the attempted coup, medical students wore black ties in April as a show of mourning for those who had been killed. As they organized with different constituents, the students planned to stage a nation-wide general strike, which they called the huelga de brazos caídos (“arms at your side” strike). Circulating leaflets, the students encouraged El Salvadorans to refrain from going to work and to stay indoors in order to avoid more bloodshed in the streets. The students, some of whom included Fabio Castillo, Jorge Bustamente, Galindo Pohl, Jorge Mazzini, Raúl Castellanos, and Mario Colorado, boycotted their classes and raised funds to help support the strikers. The students also made an effort to inform the US Embassy that their campaign would be a peaceful one that sought to avoid bloodshed.

As the strike went into effect during the first week of May 1944, doctors, lawyers, dentists, teachers, pharmacists, engineers, shopkeepers, market women, laborers, technicians, theater employees, and bank, railroad, and electric-utility employees enthusiastically participated. Although police tried to force people to go to work, strikers stayed at home or walked out on their jobs.

As the country came to a standstill, government officials floundered. They knew how to defeat a violent revolt, but were uncertain how to respond to the student-led nonviolent campaign. The government ordered the student organizers to be arrested, but police only detained a few people caught with leaflets. To pacify the strikers, the government announced that it was releasing all the prisoners taken after the failed uprising, and it then tried to discredit the strike by labeling it as a movement that served only the upper classes.

However, the strike’s momentum continued to increase. Organizers met to create an organization that would speak and negotiate for the strikers, forming the National Reconstruction Committee on 5 May. The Committee was composed of a student representative, a retired general, a physician, a lawyer, and a commercial employee. The Committee created a list of demands, one of which called for the president to step down immediately.

In response, General Martinez addressed the nation over the radio, calling on citizens to return to work and for business owners to open their doors. On 6 May, groups of men were reported as trying to force striking stores to open, and doctors received anonymous threats. In addition, a police officer opened fire on youths on 7 May, killing one of them. The tragedy brought together a cross-section of El Salvadorans, and after the funeral thousands demonstrated at the Plaza Barrios, located close to the National Assembly and government offices.

On May 7, with pressure mounting, many of the president’s ministers decided to resign. As he continued to lose support, President Martinez decided to hold a meeting with the National Reconstruction Committee on 8 May, and after hours of negotiating, the president agreed to resign immediately. The presidency passed to General Andrés Menéndez, a more moderate official who promised constitutional reform and elections. On the day the students called off the strike, the former president Martinez left the country and never returned.

The victory was not retained beyond five months, however. The El Salvadoran democratic leadership that saw how to oust the dictator Martinez did not have a strategy for defending their achievement nonviolently. A successful coup in October 1944 usurped power from Menéndez and set El Salvador on another long path of political strife and instability.

Guatemalans overthrow a dictator, 1944News

Posted by Admin Dec 01, 2017 09:07:03


To end the dictatorship of Jorge Ubico

Beginning in 1931 Jorge Ubico ruled Guatemala with an iron fist with the help of the vicious secret police. He admired Hitler’s tactics. By the summer of 1944, a similarly brutal dictator, Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, was overthrown in the face of a widespread nonviolent campaign in nearby El Salvador. This campaign served as a template for Guatemala’s own movement.

In Guatemala, the campaign began mildly. In May of 1944, forty-five lawyers petitioned the Ubico government for the removal of an arbitrary judge who tried political opponents; Ubico responded by asking for the specific charges against the judge.

A day before the annual teacher and schoolchildren parade in honor of the dictator, two hundred teachers petitioned for a raise. The leaders of the petition were then arrested and charged with sedition. To this the rest of the teachers responded with a boycott of the parade; these teachers were fired.

On June 7, 16 students of San Carlos University petitioned for a change in faculty. Ubico agreed to the students’ demands. These students then escalated their demands. Later, on June 20, opposition groups declared the creation of the Social Democratic Party in a manifesto that supported opposition parties, social justice, and the lifting of the terror and hemispheric solidarity. Two days later, the students wrote a proposition for sweeping university reform, and threatened Ubico with a student strike if these demands were not met within 24 hours. In response to this threat, Ubico suspended the articles of the constitution that guaranteed individual rights, including public assembly. On June 23, both schoolteachers and university students held a strike.

Ubico had once declared that if three hundred Guatemalan citizens asked him to resign, he would. Therefore, on June 24, Ubico was presented with a petition (Memorial de los 311) asking for the return of constitutional liberties and explaining the reasons for the civil unrest; 311 prominent citizens of the capital signed the petition. This document was not printed in the newspaper El Imparcial until July 7, when the liberties were returned. At noon on the 24th, students marched with their arms behind their backs in a peaceful demonstration purposefully passing in front of the U.S. Embassy. That evening, a peaceful assembly called for Ubico’s resignation and the organizers distributed leaflets explaining the movement’s position. That night, the police beat, shot and arrested hundreds during a neighborhood religious and social celebration.

By the morning of June 25, soldiers, cavalry, tanks and machine guns made their daunting appearance in the streets of Guatemala City. Dissent leaders Federico Carbonel and Jorge A. Serrano (who had delivered the Memorial de los 311) were summoned to meet government officials in the National Palace. During this time, demonstrations continued even though the campaigners were menaced with guns and tear-gas bombs. Women dressed in mourning clothes congregated and prayed at the Church of San Francisco in the center of Guatemala City. Once there the women formed a silent, peaceful march. The cavalry fired toward the crowd, killing Maria Chincilla Recinos, a schoolteacher. She became the movement’s first martyr for she was both symbolic and physical evidence of Ubico’s brutality.

By June 26, all of Guatemala City joined in the struggle. The citizens responded to Recinos’ killing by shutting down the economy. Everything closed, workers struck, railway workers joined in a sympathy strike; streets were desolate. The week of June 26 to June 30 the strike, entitled Brazos Caídos (Fallen Arms), took control of the commercial, industrial and service sectors of Guatemala City. On this day (June 26), 50,000 campaigners and supporters congregated around the National Palace urging Ubico to resign at the top of their lungs.

Ubico had respectable members of the opposition followed and their cars taken away. He also ordered the deportation of foreigners who closed their businesses, and the police intimidated business owners to keep their businesses open. Ubico issued a decree stating that all personnel of transportation and communication companies were under military law. But all this was to no avail; the capital was shut down by the general strike. The opposition issued Ubico a letter of unanimous desire that he resign and return constitutional liberties. The dictator’s power was quickly disintegrated; only the U.S. Ambassador and the army remained loyal. Impotent to restore normalcy on the streets or to stop the petitions for his expulsion, Ubico resigned on July 1, 1944.

Ubico, however, handed the government over to a military triumvirate, headed by Federico Ponce. Early in October it became evident that Ponce would not allow free elections to take place. On October 16, students and teachers handed out leaflets calling for a political strike. On October 18, students and workers aided young military officers to seize control of Guatemala City. In early 1945, a new constitution was adopted and free elections were held. Dr. Juan José, a liberal democrat, was named president.