PA tips off ICC over Israeli crimes

PA tips off ICC over Israeli crimes
February 13 2009

Two Palestinian ministers are trying to push the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch a probe into Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.

Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki and Justice Minister Ali Kashan told reporters on Friday that they had given the ICC chief prosecutor documents proving Palestine is a legal state with the right to demand such an inquiry.

“Today we came to deliver a set of documents that shows that Palestine as a state … has the ability to present a case to the court and to ask for an investigation into crimes committed by the Israeli army,” AFP quoted Kashan as saying following a four-hour meeting in the ICC building.

“We will deliver more information about war crimes and crimes against humanity — not only in Gaza during the last Israeli attack, but also from 2002 until this moment,” he added.

Earlier in February, Moreno-Ocampo said he would decide on whether there was such a legal entity as a Palestinian state, which would allow an investigation into war crimes during Israel’s military offensive against the Hamas-run Gaza.

According to the Rome Statute, a treaty that created the ICC, only a state could accept the court’s jurisdiction — what the Palestinian Authority has sought.

Malki said documents were provided that show Palestine was recognized as a state by 67 countries with bilateral agreements with states in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

“Evidence of war crimes was among the documents provided,” he added

The 23-day Israeli onslaught on Gazans left at least 1,330 Palestinians – including some 460 children – killed and around 5,450 others injured.

An Israeli weapons system explodes over a mosque in Gaza

International organizations and human rights groups remain concerned over Tel Aviv’s use of forbidden arms, such as depleted uranium and white phosphorus, in the Gaza war.

The Palestinian ministers said the Palestinians had been “looking for justice for a very long time”.

“What we seek here is justice,” Malki said. “We want to create a precedent.”

Earlier in the month, Turkish human rights group, Mazlum-Der, accused Israel of directly attacking civilians “with the aim of annihilating them” and employing internationally-banned weapons in the process.

“The suspects, who wanted to wipe out the Palestinian people through systematic attacks, have committed genocide and crimes against humanity,” said the human rights group’s petition, demanding that several Israeli officials, including President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and army chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi be detained should they enter Turkey.

Source

Interview with Franklin Lamb: Israel Self Defense or War Crime?

Israeli military forces stage attacks on the various areas of the West Bank almost on a daily basis

ICC starts analysis of Gaza war crimes allegations

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Published in: on February 14, 2009 at 7:08 pm  Comments Off on PA tips off ICC over Israeli crimes  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Israel warns soldiers of prosecution abroad for Gaza ‘war crimes’/Israels Latin America “Trail of Terror”

Israel warns soldiers of prosecution abroad for Gaza ‘war crimes’
Israel has warned military officers and senior officials that a threat of prosecution for alleged war crimes in Gaza could hinder future travel abroad.

By Damien McElroy in Jerusalem
January 24 2009

Israel warns soldiers of prosecution abroad for Gaza 'war crimes'
Daniel Friedman, Israel’s justice minister, was appointed to head a special task force to defend individuals detained abroad and the military censor declared that names of officers from lieutenant to colonel must not be published Photo: AFP

At least four human rights groups are believed to be compiling suits alleging that Israelis perpetrated war crimes in planning or carrying out the three-week operation Cast Lead.

Daniel Friedman, Israel’s justice minister, was appointed to head a special task force to defend individuals detained abroad and the military censor declared that names of officers from lieutenant to colonel must not be published.

More than 1,300 Palestinian deaths were reported during the offensive in Gaza and the United Nations has led demands that Israel investigate high-profile incidents including the shelling of its facilities.

Private prosecutions are already being prepared. “We are building files on war crimes throughout the chain of command from the top to the local level,” said Raji Sourani of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. “We are convinced these have been the most bloody days for Gaza since the occupation and that war crimes were perpetrated against Palestinian civilians.”

Courts in six countries, including Britain, have accepted petitions to prosecute alleged war crimes in previous wars. Most notoriously, activists in Belgium used a clause, since removed from the statute, to target the former prime minister, Ariel Sharon.

Accusations of war crimes strike an especially sensitive chord in Israel, a nation founded in the wake of the Holocaust. Comparisons between the long siege of Gaza and the Jewish ghettoes of central Europe draw a vociferous denunciation from the government. Israel insists troops did their best to limit civilian casualties in heavily populated areas where Hamas gunmen were attacking from tunnels and had booby-trapped civilian homes.

While senior politicians travel with diplomatic immunity, retired officials have already faced problems travelling abroad.

A retired major general, Doron Almog, was forced to remain on an El Al plane at Heathrow in 2005 after the Israeli military attaché warned he would be arrested if he disembarked. Gen Almog commanded Israeli forces in Gaza when a bombing raid on an apartment block that killed a Hamas commander, Salah Shehadeh, resulted in the deaths of 14 others. The magistrates’ warrant was later quashed.

An unknown number of officials have been notified that they should submit future travel plans to the military for review. Avigdor Feldman, an Israeli lawyer, said that thousands of serving officers could be affected. “I would highly recommend any soldier or officer contemplating going to the UK to reconsider,” he told an Israeli newspaper.

According to Lt Col David Benjamin of the Military Advocate Corps, lawyers were deployed at divisional commands in operation Cast Lead. He said: “Approval of targets which can be attacked, methods of warfare – it all has gone through us.”

But ensuring that those involved in the Gaza Campaign are never sentenced is set to be a long-term challenge for Israel. “The government will stand like a fortified wall to protect each and every one of you from allegations,” said Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, at a military gathering after a ceasefire was called last week.

Source

How dare they scream  Holocaust, when in fact they have helped in the murder of millions.

Screaming Holocaust is there favorite pass time, but it doens’t cut it,  when you look at their history.

Israel was on the road, long before the Holocaust transpired at any rate anyway. Anyone who knows the history of the Jewish Community would know that.

Seems they always use that as a tactic. The rest of the world is suppose to feel guilty and forgive them for their terrorizing innocent people.

Well there have been numerous Holocausts. Like all the Aboriginal Indians in North and South America. In Africa  and other countries. There has even been a Holocaust in Palestine.  Perpetrated by the Israelis them selves. That being said lets move on.

Here are a few Facts about Israel, I had tucked away for prosperity.

They are not the sweet wonderful country, they pretend to be.

Israel’s Latin American trail of terror
By Jeremy Bigwood
June 5, 2003

“I learned an infinite amount of things in Israel, and to that country I owe part of my essence, my human and military achievements” said Colombian paramilitary leader and indicted drug trafficker Carlos Castao in his ghostwritten autobiography, Mi Confesin.

Castao, who leads the Colombian paramilitaries, known by their Spanish acronym AUC, the largest right-wing paramilitary force to ever exist in the western hemisphere reveals that he was trained in the arts of war in Israel as a young man of 18 in the 1980s.

He glowingly adds: “I copied the concept of paramilitary forces from the Israelis,” in his chapter-long account of his Israel experiences.

Castao’s right-wing Phalange-like AUC force is now by far the worst human rights violator in all of the Americas, and ties between that organisation and Israel are continually surfacing in the press.

Outside the law

The AUC paramilitaries are a fighting force that originally grew out of killers hired to protect drug-running operations and large landowners. They were organised into a cohesive force by Castao in 1997. It exists outside the law but often coordinates its actions with the Colombian military, in a way similar to the relationship of the Lebanese Phalange to the Israeli army throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

According to a 1989 Colombian Secret Police intelligence report, apart from training Carlos Castao in 1983, Israeli trainers arrived in Colombia in 1987 to train him and other paramilitaries who would later make up the AUC.

Fifty of the paramilitaries’ “best” students were then sent on scholarships to Israel for further training according to a Colombian police intelligence report, and the AUC became the most prominent paramilitary force in the hemisphere, with some 10,000-12,000 men in arms.

The Colombian AUC paramilitaries are always in need of arms, and it should come as no surprise that some of their major suppliers are Israeli. Israeli arms dealers have long had a presence in next-door Panama and especially in Guatemala.

In May of last year, GIRSA, an Israeli company associated with the Israeli Defence Forces and based in Guatemala was able to buy 3000 Kalashnikov assault rifles and 2.5 million rounds of ammunition that were then handed over to AUC paramilitaries in Colombia.

Links with the continent

Israel’s military relations with right-wing groups and regimes spans Latin America from Mexico to the southernmost tip of Chile, starting just a few years after the Israeli state came into existence.

Since then, the list of countries Israel has supplied, trained and advised includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.
But it isn’t only the sales of planes, guns and weapons system deals that characterises the Israeli presence in Latin America.
Where Israel has excelled is in advising, training and running intelligence and counter-insurgency operations in the Latin American “dirty war” civil conflicts of Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and now Colombia.

In the case of the Salvadoran conflict – a civil war between the right-wing landowning class supported by a particularly violent military pitted against left-wing popular organisations – the Israelis were present from the beginning. Besides arms sales, they helped train ANSESAL, the secret police who were later to form the framework of the infamous death squads that would kill tens of thousands of mostly civilian activists.

From 1975 to 1979, 83% of El Salvador’s military imports came from Israel, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. By 1981, many of those in the civilian popular political movements who had survived the death squads headed for the hills to become guerrillas.

By 1981 there was an open civil war in El Salvador which took over a decade to resolve through negotiations.

Even though the US was openly backing the Salvadoran Army by 1981, as late as November 1983 it was asking for more Israeli “practical assistance” there, according to a declassified secret document obtained recently by Aljazeera.

Among the assistance asked for were helicopters, trucks, rifles, ammunition, and combat infantry advisors to work at both the “company and battalion level of the Salvadoran Army”.

One notable Salvadoran officer trained by the Israelis was Major Roberto D’Aubuisson, who always held a high opinion of the Israelis. It was Major D’Aubuisson who ordered the assassination of El Salvador’s archbishop amongst thousands of other murders.
Later he would organise the right-wing National Republican Alliance Party (ARENA) and send his son to study abroad in the relative safety of Israel.

Dirty war

Amazingly, while the Israelis were training the El Salvadoran “death squads” they were also supporting the anti-semitic Argentine military government of the late 1970s and early 1980s – at a time when that government was involved_in another “dirty war” of death squads and disappearances.

In 1978, Nicaragua’s dictator Somoza was making his last stand against a general uprising of the Sandinista-led population who were sick of his family’s dynasty which had ruled and monopolised the county for half a century. The Israelis and the US had been supplying Somoza with weapons for years. But when President Jimmy Carter came into office in 1976 he ordered a cessation of all US military assistance to Nicaragua.
Filling the void, the Israelis immediately increased their weapons supplies to Somoza until he fled the country when the Sandinistas took power.

Israeli operatives then helped train right-wing Nicaraguan Contras in Honduran and Costa Rican camps to fight the Sandinista government, according to Colombian police intelligence reports Aljazeera_has obtained.

At least some of the same Israeli operatives had also previously trained the nucleus of the paramilitary organisations that would become the AUC in Colombia.

But by far the bloodiest case of Israeli involvement in Latin America was its involvement in Guatemala from the 1970s to the 1990s. As in El Salvador, a civil war pitted a populist but, in this case, mainly Indian left against a mainly European oligarchy protected by a brutal Mestizo Army.

As Guatemalan President Carlos Arana said in 1971, “If it is necessary to turn the country into a cemetery in order to pacify it, I will not hesitate to do so.”

Active involvement

The Israelis supplied Guatemala with Galil rifles, and built an ammunition factory for them, as well as supplying armoured personnel carriers and Arava planes. Behind the scenes, they were actively involved in the bloodiest counter-insurgency campaign the hemisphere has known since the European conquest, in which at least 200,000 (mostly Indians) were killed.
Like Israel’s original occupation of Palestine, several entire Guatemalan Indian villages were razed and a million people displaced. “The guerrilla is the fish. The people are the sea. If you cannot catch the fish, you have to drain the sea,” said Guatemalan President Rios Montt in 1982.

Guatemalan army officers credit Israeli support with turning the tide against the uprising, not only in the countryside where Israeli counter-insurgency techniques and assistance set up strategic-hamlet-like “development poles” along the lines of the Israeli kibbutz, but also in the cities where “Israeli communication technicians and instructors” working through then-sophisticated computers were able to locate and then decimate guerrillas and their supporters in Guatemala City in 1981.

From the late 1970s until the 1990s, the US could not overtly support the Guatemalan army because of its horrendous human rights record (although there was some covert support), but many in the US government, especially in the CIA, supported Israel in taking up the slack.

Wrong

But the US grew to regret its actions. On 10 March 1999, US President Bill Clinton issued an apology for US involvement in the war: The “United States… support for military forces or intelligence units which engaged in violent and widespread repression…was wrong.” No similar statement has ever been forthcoming from the Israelis.

At the present time, the only major insurgency war in Latin America is in Colombia, where Israel has an overt involvement.
Besides the dozen or so Kfir IAI C-7 jet fighters they have sold the Colombian government, and the Galil rifles produced in Bogota under licence, most of the Israeli ties to the government’s counter-insurgency war are closely-guarded secrets.

Aljazeera’s attempts to obtain clarification on these and other issues for this story were stonewalled by the Israeli embassy in Washington.

Why does Israel continue to provide arms and expertise to the pariahs of the world? Clearly, part of the reason is the revenues produced by arms sales, and part of it has do with keeping up with trends in counter-insurgent war across the globe.
But another factor is what is demanded of Israel by the world’s only superpower, the US, in partial exchange for the superpower’s continued support for Israeli dominance in the Middle East.

Assistance

This relationship can be best illustrated by recently declassified 1983 US government documents obtained by the Washington, DC-based National Security Archives through the Freedom of Information Act.

One such declassified document is a 1983 memo from the notorious Colonel Oliver North of the Reagan Administration’s National Security Council and reads: “As discussed with you yesterday, I asked CIA, Defense, and State to suggest practical assistance which the Israelis might offer in Guatemala and El Salvador.”

Another document, this time a 1983 cable from the US Ambassador in Guatemala to Washington Frederic Chapin shows the money trail.

He says that at a time when the US did not want to be seen directly assisting Guatemala, “we have reason to believe that our good friends the Israelis are prepared, or already have, offered substantial amounts of military equipment to the GOG (Government of Guatemala) on credit terms up to 20 years…(I pass over the importance of making huge concessionary loans to Israel so that it can make term loans in our own backyard).”
In other words, during civil wars in which the US does not want to be seen getting its hands dirty in Latin America, the superpower loans Israel money at a very good rate, and then Israel uses these funds to do the “dirty work”. In this regard, in Latin America at least, Israel has become the “hit-man” for the US.

Wars funded by American Tax Dollars.

Wars and funding to prop up Brutal governments or regimes.

Israel the, Money Laundering, “Funnel Tunnel” for the US.

They love extermination pure and simple. They were more, then willing to help other regimes exterminate innocent people.

Of course it doesn’t end there, they also supplied weapons etc to other countries as well. Africa is also on my list as well. It’s a pretty long list.

What has changed over the years, not much.

Why would anything change.

We will in the future find out who and how many.

The trail of cookie crumbs, is not all that hard to follow.

Have a cruel bloodthirsty regime and you will find both the US or Israeli involvement.

Most time they work together. All in the name of profit, power, control and death.

They call it Self Defense or I am rescuing you.

Iran is evil because thy want to help innocent victims rebuild.

Hamas is pure evil are they?  The Hamas they helped create.

Haitian’s are pure evil are they?

Indians are pure evil are they?

All the innocent people they had a hand, in murdering are all evil are they?

Death Squads are a good thing are they?

I can almost bet, the “Death Squads” in the Philippines, were trained by Israelis.

The Israeli Gov. and the US Gov. should mind their own business and clean up their, own moral bankruptcy.

They both should clean up their own Weapons of Mass Destruction.

They are two the most corrupt, countries in the world.

They blame everyone else of crimes, they themselves are actually committing.

Well like all criminals they will plead not guilty. They are no different from any other criminal.

Both countries lied to their people.

Both oppressed their own people.

Both are warmongering countries.

They could pass as twins, in their sins against humanity.

Those who are corrupt past and present should be rooted out and charged.

There is no statute of limitation on murder or war crimes.

They should be held responsible for the millions, they have murdered or helped murder. Directly or indirectly they are responsible.

Can or will Obama be able to clean up the US.

Maybe:  We will have to wait and see.

Will the corruption in Israel, get cleaned up, not flippin likely.

Will the corruption in the International Agency’s get cleaned up, we will have to wait and see.

The less they do to stop those in the US Gov. and Israeli Gov. the more obvious it is, they are corrupted.

Information Wanted by the International Criminal Court/ UN: Falk Likens Gaza to Warsaw Ghetto

Israel Accused of Executing Parents in Front of Children

White Phosphorus Victims in Gaza

What Types of Gruesome Weapons Did Israel Use in Lebanon?

UN: Israel should pay for Humanitarian Aid they Destoyed

Father: ‘I watched an Israeli soldier shoot dead my two little girls’

Unusually Large U.S. Weapons Shipment to Israel: Are the US and Israel Planning a Broader Middle East War?

Outrage as Israel bombs UN and Hospital

Israel Navy ships turn back “Spirit of Humanity” carrying Gaza humanitarian aid

President of the United Nations General Assembly: Israel violating International Law

Israel Hits another “United Nations” Building in Gaza

Israel Violating Egyptian Airspace to attack Gaza

Israel continues to attack Hospitals, Clinics and Public Buildings in Gaza

Red Cross slams Israel over 4 day wait to access wounded

The making of Israel’s Apartheid in Palestine

Samouni family recounts Gaza horror

79 % of the time: Israel caused conflicts not Hamas

Gaza War Why?: Natural Gas valued at over $4 billion MAYBE?

Israel ‘rammed’ medical aid boat headed to Gaza

Israel Used Internationally Banned Weaponry in Massive Airstrikes Across Gaza Strip

Shoot Then Ask, Israeli Soldiers Told

Gaza (6) A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Israel’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

Gaza Families Eat Grass as Israel Blocks Food Aid

Will the world do nothing to stop Genocide in Gaza?

Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty

Israel blocks foreign media from Gaza

U.N.: Israel won’t allow food aid to enter Gaza

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Jan 7: Israel’s Gaza invasion provokes protests throughout Latin America

By TYLER BRIDGES
January 7 2009

Opposition to Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip is heating up throughout Latin America.

Venezuela has expelled Israel’s ambassador. Guatemala and Colombia have called on Israel to stop fighting and begin immediate peace talks. Demonstrators in Argentina, El Salvador and Bolivia have condemned the invasion. Brazil is sending aid to victims.

“There is a tradition in Latin America of rejecting violence to solve any international conflict,” said Adrian Bonilla, the director of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Ecuador. “There is also a tradition of supporting the weakest country in a conflict since most Latin American countries have been part of the Third World network. Another factor is that Israel is a close ally of the United States.”

Not surprisingly, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez has taken the harshest stance. On Tuesday, he kicked out Israel’s ambassador and diplomatic staff. The Palestinian militant Islamist group Hamas applauded the move on Wednesday as a “courageous step.”

Chavez on Wednesday showed the photograph of a Palestinian child killed by Israeli bombs and said Israeli leaders should be tried for killing innocent men, women and children.

“Behind Israel is the American empire,” Chavez said.

Chavez questioned why President-elect Barack Obama “until now hasn’t said anything” about Israel’s aggression.

Abraham Levy, the president of the Confederation of Israeli Associations in Venezuela, said Wednesday that he found Chavez’s comments “worrisome.” He noted that Israel and Venezuela had warm relations until Chavez began seeking close ties with Iran and denounced Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon.

Some 15,000 Jews live in Venezuela.

The biggest protest in Latin America has taken place in Argentina, where some 20,000 people marched Tuesday from the Obelisk in downtown Buenos Aires to the Israeli Embassy. Arab and student groups organized the march, along with the Argentine Communist Party and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a human rights organization.

The protesters carried Palestinian, Iraqi and Lebanese flags and signs saying “Israel: Leave Gaza now” and “We are all Palestinians.” The march was peaceful, but some of the protesters threw paint and shoes against the embassy.

“The fifth largest army of the world is fighting against a helpless society,” Alejandro Salomon, the president of the Confederation of Argentina Arab Entities, said in an interview Wednesday. “We are protesting against the small effort made by the international community to stop this manslaughter.”

Jews are planning a pro-Israel countermarch in Buenos Aires on Thursday, ending at a building destroyed by Arab terrorists in a 1994 car bombing that killed nearly 100 people. With an estimated 240,000 Jews, Buenos Aires is said to be the second biggest home of Jews in the Americas after New York City.

A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Argentina, Iftaf Curiel, told the Jewish News Agency that Argentinians should support the “moderate elements of the (Middle Eastern) region – Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Jordan – that are confronting the extreme elements of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.”

Israeli officials have said they launched the Gaza invasion on Dec. 27 as a defensive measure to halt rocket fire from Hamas militants.

Televised images of the carnage have been shown throughout Latin America, especially on Telesur, the regionwide television network financed by the Venezuelan government. The attacks have killed some 600 Palestinians, including children.

Source

Jan 7: Lebanese children demonstrate for Gaza Children

Jan 7 : India- Protest in New Delhi over Israel raids

Jan 7: Australian Jews protest against Israel’s action

Jan 7: Canadian Jewish women protesting against Gaza War, Arrested after occupying the Israeli Consulate

An Open Letter From Jewish Youth in Canada – Support of Gaza0 all Jewish youth can sign

Actions we can take to help Palestinians in Gaza -Petitions

Egypt floats truce plan after 42 killed in Gaza School and Bars Doctors from Gaza

Gaza (3): A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Gaza (2): A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Gaza (1): A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Israel strike kills up to 60 members of one family

Israel rains fire on Gaza with phosphorus Shells/Targets UN School

Gaza hospital overwhelmed by dead and wounded

Foreign Press still banned from Gaza/Israel attacks Media Building in Gaza City

Gaza wounded die waiting for ambulances

War on Gaza – Timeline: June 19 2008 to January 3 2009

Published in: on January 8, 2009 at 5:11 am  Comments Off on Jan 7: Israel’s Gaza invasion provokes protests throughout Latin America  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Latin Americas Private Pension Funds in Doubt

By Marcela Valente

November 26 2008

BUENOS AIRES

Pension funds in Latin America have suffered sometimes drastic losses as a result of the global financial crisis. Argentina decided to nationalise its private pension funds, and in Chile, Colombia and Mexico there are voices urgently calling for reforms.

Many of the private sector pension plans, created mainly in the 1990s under the influence of neoliberal, free-market reforms and structural adjustment policies, followed the model adopted in 1981 by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) in Chile.

In 1993, Argentina adapted the model, without eliminating the parallel public system, which allowed workers to choose either one. But on Nov. 20, the Argentine parliament eliminated the private pension funds, which were in a state of collapse.

It is not yet clear how the financial crisis will affect private pension funds in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

According to the International Association of Latin American Pension Fund Supervisors (AIOS), the 10 Latin American countries that make up the association had 76 million pension fund affiliates as of late 2007, but only 32 million — 37 percent of the economically active population — made regular payments.

The largest number of members of private pension plans — 39 million — were in Mexico. This was followed by 9.5 million in Argentina (who will now go into the public social security system), and by Chile and Colombia, with around eight million each.

The AIOS reported that in late 2007, private pension funds in the region held 275 billion dollars, equivalent to 16 percent of the 10 member countries’ GDP.

“We are going to keep a close eye on what happens in Chile, the pioneer of the model,” said Jorge D’Angelo, chairman of the Inter-American Conference on Social Security’s (CISS) commission on the elderly. “We’ll have to see how bad the crisis gets, and whether Chile will be able to weather the storm,” he told IPS.

In Chile, which has the highest proportion of retirees in private pension plans in the region, the average monthly pension stands at 264 dollars, just over the minimum monthly wage. In the rest of the countries, pensioners draw even more meagre amounts. In Chile, the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT) central trade union and citizen, social and political groups are demanding alternatives to the private pension funds. CUT is calling for a public social security system based on the principle of solidarity.

Senator Alejandro Navarro, who recently left the co-governing Socialist Party, is pushing for the creation of a public administrator of individual retirement accounts.

Between Oct. 31, 2007 and Oct. 31, 2008, Chile’s private pension fund assets shrank from 94.3 to 69.1 billion dollars.

In 2002, the private pension administrators created five different funds, classified as A, B, C, D and E, ranging from high to low risk, for workers to choose from. So far this year, profit margins have shrunk by 40.9 percent in the A funds, 30.1 percent in the B funds, and 18.6 percent in the C funds, to mention the sharpest falls.

And since the creation of Chile’s multi-fund system in 2002, returns have ranged between 2.8 and 4.2 percent, depending on the level of risk exposure. But if measured since 1981, returns have averaged 8.8 percent

“The worries of workers are logical and understandable,” Fabio Bertranou, a Chilean expert on social security with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), told IPS. “The value of the funds has shrunk due to the sharp drop in the value of their financial assets.”

Chile accounts for 35 percent of the region’s private pension fund assets that are invested in equities abroad.

“It is difficult to predict how long it will take for the value of the assets to rally,” admitted Bertranou. “We have to issue a call for reflection and reassess how individual retirement savings accounts work during times of crisis, in order to take the necessary precautions. There isn’t a great deal of experience in the matter.”

Early this year, the Chilean government passed a new law that created a system built on three pillars: a pay-as-you-go guaranteed minimum pension funded with help from the government, a solidarity system, and voluntary individual savings.

The most notable aspect was the creation of the “basic solidarity pension” and the “solidarity pension contribution” for the poorest of the poor.

That reform “has taken a fundamental step towards the creation of a mixed social security system. The incorporation of the solidarity pension component will give workers, especially low-income workers, a more secure future,” said Bertranou.

In his view, “the decline in the value of pension funds is not the only problem. It is also necessary to address the drop in occupational coverage that will result from the economic slowdown, and the subsequent fall in income and job creation and stability.”

Uruguay’s system, unique in Latin America, seems to be the one least affected by the crisis so far.

Under the mixed or multi-pillar system, contributions and benefits are linked to both a state-managed pay-as-you-go system and privately managed individual retirement accounts. Workers contribute to each, depending on where they fall within a salary level band, and receive two pensions when they retire, with the exception of those who earn less than 715 dollars a month, who are not required to pay into an individual savings account.

Alongside the mandatory individual capitalisation system, the public sector maintains a basic minimum pension under the pay-as-you-go regime.

In the quarter that ended in September, private pension funds went down 2.6 percent, due to the drop in value of the debt bonds in which most of their assets are invested. But since the system began to operate in 1996, returns have ranged between nine and 11 percent, depending on the currency in which they are measured.

Nearly 38 percent of workers paying into private retirement accounts in Uruguay chose an administrator that is run by three state banks. By law, the pension fund administrators can only invest a limited amount of their assets abroad.

Pension fund returns depend partly on where the assets are invested. In some countries, a majority have been placed in equities in foreign companies that are now in crisis, while others are invested in public bonds, whose drop in value varies from country to country.

“In Argentina, the debate had become abstract, because the decline in the value of private funds was so steep that when beneficiaries were ready to retire, the state had to step in to help pay their pensions, since their savings were too small,” said D’Angelo.

According to the superintendency of private pension fund administrators (AFJPs) in Argentina, only 3.6 million of the 9.5 million members of the private system were actually making payments. And of the six million workers still affiliated with the public social security system, only two million were contributing.

In October, total AFJP assets plunged 17 percent with respect to the previous month. And the returns over the last year have reflected a loss of 25.4 percent — compared to an average annual profitability rate of 6.6 percent.

Given that situation, the government of Cristina Fernández proposed the creation of an integrated pensions system and the elimination of the private funds. Within less than a month, the new law made it through both houses of Congress, approved by the legislators of the governing Justicialista (Peronist) Party and some opposition lawmakers.

The drop in the value of the funds has also been drastic in Mexico, whose current pension system began to operate in 1996. According to the national commission of the retirement savings system, between May and October, the value of the individual retirement accounts of 39 million workers fell by 3.36 billion dollars.

The national union of social security workers is demanding that the Mexican Congress review the laws on private pension funds and intervene so that limits are set on the proportion of assets that can be put into high-risk equities abroad.

People in Colombia, where reforms incorporating a private pension system went into effect in 1994, are worried too. According to the Colombian association of pension fund administrators, losses climbed to more than 94 million dollars in the first six months of the year.

“We are much worse off than they are in Argentina,” Saúl Peña, president of the union of Colombia’s Social Security Institute workers, told IPS. “Our problems are more serious because of the low level of wages, the labour instability and the low profitability.”

There are currently 12,000 retirees in Colombia’s private pension system, and nearly all of them now draw a monthly pension equivalent to the minimum wage, he said. “The only thing that can be done now is to wait and see whether we will recover in the long-term, maybe in 2009, or 2010. It’s chance, it’s a gamble,” he said.

* With additional reporting from Daniela Estrada in Santiago and Helda Martínez in Bogotá.

Source

Poverty is not decreasing as the World Bank claims


The Millennium Development Goals will not be achieved by 2015 at the present rate of progress

Progress in basic social indicators slowed down last year all over the world and at the present rate it does not allow for the internationally agreed poverty reduction goals to be met by 2015, unless substantial changes occur. This is the main conclusion that can be extracted from the 2008 figures of the Basic Capabilities Index (BCI), calculated by Social Watch.

Out of 176 countries for which a BCI figure can be computed, only 21 register noticeable progress in relation to how they were in 2000. Other 55 countries show some progress, but at a slow rate, while 77 countries are stagnated or worse. Information is insufficient to show trends for the remaining 23. As the impact of the food crisis that started in 2006 begins to be registered by the new statistics coming in, the situation is likely to get worse in the next months.

Contrary to frequent claims that poverty is diminishing fast in the world, the index computed by Social Watch shows that the deficient coverage of the basic needs required to escape poverty persists; even more, it is increasing, in spite of impressive economic growth in most developing countries.

LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN: Slight progress, with some countries regressing.
EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA: Acceptable BCI level reached before 2000.
SOUTH ASIA: Significant progress. India improving fast, pushes the region up.
CENTRAL ASIA: Slight progress, with some countries regressing.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA: Slight progress.
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC: Slight progress. No recent evolution data for China.
SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: Average progress is extremely slow, with some countries regressing even further from already low levels. At the current rate, the region would need more than a century to reach an acceptable BCI.

Source

Published in: on October 11, 2008 at 7:42 am  Comments Off on Poverty is not decreasing as the World Bank claims  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,