Within hours of the death of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez last week, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued what is arguably the most insensitive statement ever released by one democratically-elected leader about the death of another. The core of the statement consisted of the following proverbial kick-in-the-teeth to the still-warm corpse of the Venezuelan president: “At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.” In short, Harper arrogantly bid good riddance to Chávez, not on behalf of Canada, but on behalf of the Venezuelan people. The prime minister’s comments stood in stark contrast to the ones he made when Nigeria’s President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died in 2010, illustrating how Harper’s position is motivated more by ideology than any concern for democracy, freedom and human rights.
Tag Archives: capitalism
Cuba proved to be an influential force at the 2012 Summit of the Americas held in Cartagena, Colombia even though the country was not represented at the meeting of members of the Organization of American States (OAS). The summit ended without a final declaration because two—the United States and Canada—out of the 31 participating nations adamantly opposed a proposal to allow Cuba to participate in the next summit to be held in Panama in 2015. Both U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper referred to a lack of democracy and human rights in Cuba as the primary reasons for their veto of the proposal. Ironically, Obama stated his position on Cuba while standing beside the president of Colombia, the country with the worst human rights record in the region, in yet another blatant illustration of the hypocrisy that exists in U.S. foreign policy.
The Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movement have become prominent expressions of the desire for democracy held by peoples throughout the world. In recent years, increasing numbers of activists around the globe have begun advocating for a participatory democracy that provides people with a meaningful voice in all of the major decisions that impact their lives. But what exactly is a participatory democracy? Is it attainable under capitalism? And if not, what sort of social transformation would be required to achieve it?
“A gripping tale of savagery and terror, but also of tenderness, compassion, and renewal.” —Noam Chomsky