Green Party VP Candidate: We Must Shift Power Back to the People Throughout the Western Hemisphere
Ajamu Baraka discusses Green Party policy towards Latin America and explains why the TPP is a bad deal for workers and the environment
SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.
Joining me today in our Baltimore studio is the Vice Presidential candidate for the Green Party and we’re going to dedicate this segment to Latin America.
AJAMU BARAKA: My pleasure to be here. Thank you.
PERIES: Let’s look at what’s happened to Latin America recently with the removal of democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. With Venezuela in a great deal of turmoil in terms of the presidency facing a recall referendum. And then we see countries like Argentina and Colombia aligning with the US here. Sort of throwing decades of left governments in Latin America into some turmoil as a region. At the same time, we see relations with Cuba reinstated which is a good thing. But the region is in turmoil. Now the Organization of American States, the OAS, was founded on the principles of regional unity and human rights and democracy and so forth.
But the United States has historically used the OAS to flex its muscles in the region and one example of this is the OAS to date has not issued a single negative comment on what happened in Brazil yet issued a number of statements on Venezuela which has upheld democratic rights of its citizens without question to the point of two very large demonstrations were held a few weeks ago. One in support of the Maduro government, one against the Maduro government but it happened very peacefully. In fact, the oppositions demand of bringing about a recall referendum on the president has been accepted and they’re going through with it. Yet the OAS has issued a number of negative statements about Venezuela needing to uphold the democratic rights of its people and honor the recall referendum and process it quickly so that the opposition could come into power. If the Green Party is elected, how would you deal with the OAS.
BARAKA: One thing we would do is to sign the American Convention on Human Rights, something that the US has failed to do throughout the history of the OAS. Secondly, I think it would be clear to all states that the period of subversion of right wing mischief was in fact over. So we would honor the alternative structures that have been set up in Latin America. We would suggest that if there was a change in the makeup and the practice of the OAS, that perhaps those structures can be merged or they can stand alone. Strengthen and provide additional funding for the OAS’s commission that’s been defunded. So we would indicate that in Latin America that this would be a new day for the adherence to international law and for respectful relations between all Latin American countries and the US.
PERIES: Our border partner, Mexico, has just received Donald Trump to come and visit and following that issued some very controversial statements in terms of his intentions to build a wall on the border of Mexico and the US and build a bigger wall and so forth. But walls already exist. Intense security spending billions of dollars has already been built and is being executed. Yet people still are trying to make it across to the United States. What would be your solution to the immigration or people coming illegally to this country, if you were a ruling party of this country?
BARAKA: We would address the kinds of issues that are pushing people out of their countries. Where people feel compelled to try to leave to sneak into the US in order to survive. So the neoliberal policies that have resulted in the devastation of so many economies would have to be reversed. The kind of social contradictions and violence we see in places like El Salvador and Guatemala as a result of the draconian deportation polices that took place and ended up with a number of gang members in these various states who have brought their skills that they learned in the US back to their home countries.
We have to work with those governments to try to address some of the social ills in those countries to allow for those folks to be reintegrated into society. So solving the social and economic contradictions of Latin America. We’ll then directly begin to address the issue of migrant flows into the US as opposed to this notion of walls. You have to build a wall where you’re committed to maintaining the economic status quo. Our government will be committed to altering the economic status quo. Shifting power back to the people, not only in the Us but throughout the hemisphere.
PERIES: Now Mexico poses certain issues for the United States and after the North America Free Trade Agreement is a particular cause of some of the problems that Mexico and the US is now facing, would you stick with those agreements and how would you renegotiate it if you had to?
BARAKA: What NAFTA is part of is a central part of the neoliberal configuration. So the agreement that allow for the free penetration of agribusiness into the Mexican countryside will be something we have to take a second look at. You cannot talk about migrant flows or be concerned about migrant flows while you have policies that are resulting in the devastation of rural communities, the displacement of farmers.
So those policies have to be reconciled. So we would have to take a serious look at NAFTA and there would have to be some renegotiations especially as it relates to environmental issues and the rights of workers. So all of the neoliberal agreements will have to be scrutinized very seriously and altered for a Green government that is committed to bringing about a new configuration of relationships and committed to real social justice, not only in the US but throughout the world.
PERIES: And one big question is of course the position of the Green Party when it comes to the Trans Pacific Partnership. Give us a sense of where you are at and Hillary Clinton has distanced herself from the agreement after initially supporting it. Donald Trump says he won’t have anything to do with it. Where do you stand right now?
BARAKA: The Green Party is adamantly opposed to this agreement. It is a boondoggle. It is something that is only going to increase the power of the financial and corporate elite. It will undermine the rights of workers in the various states that are part of the agreement. We say to Hillary Clinton very clearly and simply. If you really opposed TPP, then as the nominal head of the Democratic Party, then say very clearly you will oppose any attempt to pass TPP during a lame duck session of congress.
Say that. Make that comment. Make that statement if you’re really serious about opposing TPP. We don’t believe she will. We don’t believe she’s really opposed to it because as a neoliberal capitalist ideologically she does see that agreement as the gold standard and if she’s elected she will find a way to begin to—if it’s not passed during the lame duck session, they will begin to move towards passing that in whole or in parts.
PERIES: How does TPP compromise Green Party objectives when it comes to the environment?
BARAKA: It is a devastating agreement because it shifts the ability to control a national environment to the corporate sector. Any laws that may be passed to protect the integrity of a national environment can’t be undermined in this investor state settlement process where corporations can claim that that law impedes the ability to make a profit and they can sue a state. And for smaller states, that can be quite devastating.
But in this case you have a situation where corporations can sue the US or sue states in the US that might attempt to protect their domestic agriculture industry from cheap goods coming in from one of the partner states in the TPP. So the environment, the economic relations, all of this is in play. All of this is undermined by this agreement. And so that’s why we oppose it and that’s why we make the call to Hillary Clinton to also oppose it in a serious way by forbidding other democrats to vote for it in a lame duck session.
PERIES: Ajamu Baraka I thank you so much for joining us today.
BARAKA: My pleasure to be here. Thank you.
PERIES: All the best with the campaign. And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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