zaterdag 22 juli 2017

Brzezinski: An American...

Brzezinski Wanted NATO to Become the 

“Hub of a Globe-Spanning Web” 

of Security Pacts

5324234234The end of May marked the death of a man who had been at the center of global affairs for decades. Zbigniew Brzezinski, born in Warsaw in the 1920s, was one of the most influential foreign policy advisers in the US, who also played a pivotal role in the drive towards further global integration.
Brzezinski earned his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1953, and subsequently became a professor at that university, before moving on teach at Columbia University. From 1966 to 1968, he was a member of the Policy Planning Council at the Department of State, and in 1968, he served as chairman of the Humphrey Foreign Policy Task Force for Hubert Humphrey’s presidential campaign.
Brzezinski: The Internationalist
From 1973 to 1976, Brzezinski served as the Director of the newly formed Trilateral Commission, an internationalist organization he himself helped to create. In a 1989 interview, Brzezinski revealed his role in founding the Trilateral Commission along with the elitist American banker, David Rockefeller, before bragging how this organization was the first to propose the idea of holding a G7 (was G8 for a period) summit (emphasis added):
“Not only did I run it [the Trilateral Commission]I helped to found it and organize it with David Rockefeller. So, if any of our viewers are conspiracy minded, here is one of the conspirators… It is a North American, Western European, Japanese organization to promote closer contacts between these three regions of the world. And the commission is composed of private citizens, not government officials, who are leaders in the different sectors of society We’re incidentally the ones who proposed, originally, the holding of the annual summit meeting of the industrial democracies.
Throughout their lives, Brzezinski and Rockefeller worked towards the goal of creating an integrated global system. In David Rockefeller’s book ‘Memoirs,’ he admits that his family has been part of a “secret cabal” working towards building a “one world” system (emphasis added):
“Some even believe we (the Rockefeller family) are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structureone world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”  
In addition to playing an instrumental role in founding the Trilateral Commission, Brzezinski was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and a frequent attendee at the elitist Bilderberg conference, illustrating his position as a high-ranking individual deeply entrenched in the parallel governmental system.
Giving the Soviets their Vietnam War and Encouraging Pol Pot
Brzezinski’s most notable role in public life was when he served as Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor (NSA) from 1977 to 1981. Famously, in this role, Brzezinski was one of the main intellectual architects who advocated arming the Mujahiddin in Afghanistan, a scheme that he hoped would increase the probability that the Soviet Union would intervene. In an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998, Brzezinski recalled this operation (with the translation from French provided by William Blum and David N. Gibbs):
Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs that the American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahiddin in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet intervention. In this period, you were the national security advisor to President Carter. You therefore played a key role in this affair. Is this correct?
Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahiddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into the war and looked for a way to provoke it?
B: It wasn’t quite like that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against secret US involvement in Afghanistan, nobody believed them. However, there was an element of truth in this. You don’t regret any of this today?
B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.” Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that bought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
Q: And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?
B: What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?
Also in his role as NSA, Brzezinski and the Carter administration encouraged the Chinese to continue supporting the genocidal Pol Pot in Cambodia. After Vietnam launched a full-scale invasion of Cambodia at the end of 1978, seizing power by early 1979, the US pressed China to continue assisting the Khmer Rouge in their fight against the occupying Vietnamese forces, with Brzezinskiadmitting that he “encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot.”
Obama: Brzezinski an “Outstanding Friend”
In more modern times, Brzezinski remained a pivotal figure in the US, working in a plethora of think tanks and advising numerous mainline political figures. One such figure was the former US President, Barack Obama, who he was very close to. In a March 2008speech, Obama revealed how intimate his relationship was with Brzezinski, calling him an “outstanding friend:”
“To Dr. Brzezinski; I can’t say enough about his contribution to our country. Here’s somebody who helped to shape Camp David, and bring about a lasting peace between Israel and some of its neighbours. Somebody who has over decades trained some of the most prominent foreign policy specialists, not only in the democratic party, but has trained a number who ended up in the republican party as well… He has proven to be an outstanding friend, and somebody who I have learned an immense amount from. And for him to support me in this campaign, and then come out to here in Ohio, is a testimony to his generosity.”
NATO to be the Global Security Nexus Point?
One of the defining features of Brzezinski was his essays and books pertaining to his long-range geostrategic visions. In one such essay, penned in 2009 for Foreign Affairs – the publication of the CFR – Brzezinski expounds on his vision of what NATO’s purpose and role could be in the future.
Titled: An Agenda for NATO: Toward a Global Security Web, Brzezinski begins by detailing how, in essence, NATO has been obsolete since the end of the Cold War, and how the security alliance faces a problem of legitimacy. “What next?”, he writes. Brzezinski then moves on to argue that the world now faces “unprecedented risks to global security,” with “extremist religious and political movements” among these risks, movements that he himself helped to empower through advocating giving the Mujahiddin US aid (emphasis added):
“The basic challenge that NATO now confronts is that there are historically unprecedented risks to global security… The paradox of our time is that the world, increasingly connected and economically interdependent for the first time in its entire history, is experiencing intensifying popular unrest made all the more menacing by the growing accessibility of weapons of mass destruction – not just to states but also, potentially, to extremist religious and political movements. Yet there is no effective global security mechanism for coping with the growing threat of violent political chaos stemming from humanity’s recent political awakening.” 
From there, Brzezinski details how an array of different security packs have arisen around the world in recent decades, including the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Brzezinski then gives a glimpse into how many individuals in the Western elite see the role of NATO in the future. He first rejects the idea that NATO could be, in itself, a global army, before advocating a variant of this idea, in the form of NATO being the “hub of a globe-spanning web of various regional cooperative-security undertakings” (emphasis added):
“To remain historically relevant, NATO cannot – as some have argued – simply expand itself into a global alliance or transform itself into a global alliance of democracies… A global NATO would dilute the centrality of the U.S.-European connection, and none of the rising powers would be likely to accept membership in a globally expanded NATO. 
NATO, however, has the experience, the institutions, and the means to eventually become the hub of a globe-spanning web of various regional cooperative-security undertakings among states with the growing power to act. The resulting security web wouldfill a need that the United Nations by itself cannot meet but from which the UN system would actually benefit. In pursuing that strategic mission, NATO would not only be preserving transatlantic political unity; it would also be responding to the twenty-first century’s novel and increasingly urgent security agenda.”
Although Brzezinski’s vision seems far from probable at the present time, it will be interesting to see the path the world takes in the years and decades to come.
Steven MacMillan is an independent writer, researcher, geopolitical analyst and editor of  The Analyst Report, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

The Intellectual Yet Idiot

Dat Vandermeersch, Buruma, etcetera, verwachten dat mensen 'verstandig' kiezen, in plaats van zich te vervreemden van de MSM, valt te verklaren omdat mensen als Vandermeersch betaald worden om mensen aan te zetten tot het maken van 'verstandige' keuzen die neerkomen op meer geld en macht voor de rijken ten koste van alle anderen.

En aangezien journalisten net mensen zijn, is het prettiger voor hen om goed te praten dat ze werkelijk 'verstandige keuzen' in hun krant plaatsen dan dat ze mensen proberen te overtuigen tot het maken van keuzen die tegen hun eigen belang ingaan. Als die mensen vervolgens niet mee gaan met de 'verstandige keuzen' van de MSM, heerst er ongeloof bij de MSM, waarvan de huichelachtigheid van dat 'ongeloof' niet wordt doorzien door mensen als Vandermeersch. Want die 'verstandige keuzen' zijn ook verstandig voor de journalisten die deze keuzen als verstandig brengen. En als de waan van de dag 'verstandig' is voor een hele redactie, zal de meerderheid op die redactie de mening van Vandermeersch delen dat zij verrast zijn dat mensen buiten de redactie om niet meer hun 'verstandige keuzen' opvolgen. Alternatieve keuzen zwijg je dan als journalist hautain dood of doe je af als stupiditeit van de meute, met wie je uiteraard niet gaat praten of hooguit alleen mee gaat praten vanuit je ivoren toren. En dat de meute stupide is komt omdat de meute nou eenmaal niet opgeleid is tot experts waartoe journalisten, economen, politici behoren en die daarvoor een dure en jarenlange geestdodende opleiding hebben genoten. Want dat alleen experts verstandige keuzen kunnen maken, lees je vanaf de middelbare school bij Plato terug die ook bang was voor de mening van het gepeupel en van filosofen (lees experts), koningen (lees machthebbers) wilde maken, en van machthebbers experts.

Voor een beetje geld, aanzien, en baanzekerheid zijn er altijd mensen te vinden die in ruil daarvoor hun zelfstandig denken, afwegen, oordelen opgeven. En zolang dat een afgewogen keuze is, is dat nog tot daaraantoe (makkelijk te bekritiseren). Maar het lastige is dat veel mensen niet doorhebben welke transactie ze maken op het moment dat ze voor dat beetje geld en aanzien als 'expert' andere mensen gaan vertellen welke 'verstandige keuzen' zij dienen te maken. Zelfcensuur komt daar niet aan te pas. Nassim Taleb vat, mijns inziens gepast, leden van dit gilde samen als de 'intellectual yet idiot'

The Intellectual Yet Idiot

What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.
But the problem is the one-eyed following the blind: these self-described members of the “intelligentsia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence hence fall into circularities — but their main skill is capacity to pass exams written by people like them. With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3 of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers (or Montaigne and such filtered classical knowledge) with a better track record than these policymaking goons.
Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats who feel entitled to run our lives aren’t even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. They can’t tell science from scientism — in fact in their image-oriented minds scientism looks more scientific than real science. (For instance it is trivial to show the following: much of what the Cass-Sunstein-Richard Thaler types — those who want to “nudge” us into some behavior — much of what they would classify as “rational” or “irrational” (or some such categories indicating deviation from a desired or prescribed protocol) comes from their misunderstanding of probability theory and cosmetic use of first-order models.) They are also prone to mistake the ensemble for the linear aggregation of its components as we saw in the chapter extending the minority rule.

The Intellectual Yet Idiot is a production of modernity hence has been accelerating since the mid twentieth century, to reach its local supremum today, along with the broad category of people without skin-in-the-game who have been invading many walks of life. Why? Simply, in most countries, the government’s role is between five and ten times what it was a century ago (expressed in percentage of GDP). The IYI seems ubiquitous in our lives but is still a small minority and is rarely seen outside specialized outlets, think tanks, the media, and universities — most people have proper jobs and there are not many openings for the IYI.
Beware the semi-erudite who thinks he is an erudite. He fails to naturally detect sophistry.
The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited. He thinks people should act according to their best interests and he knows their interests, particularly if they are “red necks” or English non-crisp-vowel class who voted for Brexit. When plebeians do something that makes sense to them, but not to him, the IYI uses the term “uneducated”. What we generally call participation in the political process, he calls by two distinct designations: “democracy” when it fits the IYI, and “populism” when the plebeians dare voting in a way that contradicts his preferences. While rich people believe in one tax dollar one vote, more humanistic ones in one man one vote, Monsanto in one lobbyist one vote, the IYI believes in one Ivy League degree one-vote, with some equivalence for foreign elite schools and PhDs as these are needed in the club.
More socially, the IYI subscribes to The New Yorker. He never curses on twitter. He speaks of “equality of races” and “economic equality” but never went out drinking with a minority cab driver (again, no real skin in the game as the concept is foreign to the IYI). Those in the U.K. have been taken for a ride by Tony Blair. The modern IYI has attended more than one TEDx talks in person or watched more than two TED talks on Youtube. Not only did he vote for Hillary Monsanto-Malmaison because she seems electable and some such circular reasoning, but holds that anyone who doesn’t do so is mentally ill.
The IYI has a copy of the first hardback edition of The Black Swan on his shelves, but mistakes absence of evidence for evidence of absence. He believes that GMOs are “science”, that the “technology” is not different from conventional breeding as a result of his readiness to confuse science with scientism.
Typically, the IYI get the first order logic right, but not second-order (or higher) effects making him totally incompetent in complex domains. In the comfort of his suburban home with 2-car garage, he advocated the “removal” of Gadhafi because he was “a dictator”, not realizing that removals have consequences (recall that he has no skin in the game and doesn’t pay for results).
The IYI has been wrong, historically, on Stalinism, Maoism, GMOs, Iraq, Libya, Syria, lobotomies, urban planning, low carbohydrate diets, gym machines, behaviorism, transfats, freudianism, portfolio theory, linear regression, Gaussianism, Salafism, dynamic stochastic equilibrium modeling, housing projects, selfish gene, election forecasting models, Bernie Madoff (pre-blowup) and p-values. But he is convinced that his current position is right.
The IYI is member of a club to get traveling privileges; if social scientist he uses statistics without knowing how they are derived (like Steven Pinker and psycholophasters in general); when in the UK, he goes to literary festivals; he drinks red wine with steak (never white); he used to believe that fat was harmful and has now completely reversed; he takes statins because his doctor told him to do so; he fails to understand ergodicity and when explained to him, he forgets about it soon later; he doesn’t use Yiddish words even when talking business; he studies grammar before speaking a language; he has a cousin who worked with someone who knows the Queen; he has never read Frederic Dard, Libanius Antiochus, Michael Oakeshot, John Gray, Amianus Marcellinus, Ibn Battuta, Saadiah Gaon, or Joseph De Maistre; he has never gotten drunk with Russians; he never drank to the point when one starts breaking glasses (or, preferably, chairs); he doesn’t even know the difference between Hecate and Hecuba (which in Brooklynese is “can’t tell sh**t from shinola”); he doesn’t know that there is no difference between “pseudointellectual” and “intellectual” in the absence of skin in the game; has mentioned quantum mechanics at least twice in the past five years in conversations that had nothing to do with physics.
He knows at any point in time what his words or actions are doing to his reputation.
But a much easier marker: he doesn’t even deadlift.
Not a IYI

The Blind and the Very Blind

Let’s suspend the satirical for a minute.
IYIs fail to distinguish between the letter and the spirit of things. They are so blinded by verbalistic notions such as science, education, democracy, racism, equality, evidence, rationality and similar buzzwords that they can be easily taken for a ride. They can thus cause monstrous iatrogenics[1] without even feeling a shade of a guilt, because they are convinced that they mean well and that they can be thus justified to ignore the deep effect on reality. You would laugh at the doctor who nearly kills his patient yet argues about the effectiveness of his efforts because he lowered the latter’s cholesterol, missing that a metric that correlates to health is not quite health –it took a long time for medicine to convince its practitioners that health was what they needed to work on, not the exercise of what they thought was “science”, hence doing nothing was quite often preferable (via negativa). But yet, in a different domain, say foreign policy, a neo-con who doesn’t realize he has this mental defect would never feel any guilt for blowing up a country such as Libya, Iraq, or Syria, for the sake of “democracy”. I’ve tried to explain via negativa to a neocon: it was like trying to describe colors to someone born blind.
IYIs can be feel satisfied giving their money to a group aimed at “saving the children” who will spend most of it making powerpoint presentation and organizing conferences on how to save the children and completely miss the inconsistency.
Likewise an IYI routinely fails to make a distinction between an institution (say formal university setting and credentialization) and what its true aim is (knowledge, rigor in reasoning) –I’ve even seen a French academic arguing against a mathematician who had great (and useful) contributions because the former “didn’t go to a good school” when he was eighteen or so.
The propensity to this mental disability may be shared by all humans, and it has to be an ingrained defect, except that it disappears under skin in the game.
[1] Harm done by the healer.


From the reactions to this piece, I discovered that the IYI has difficulty, when reading, in differentiating between the satirical and the literal.


The IYI thinks this criticism of IYIs means “everybody is an idiot”, not realizing that their group represents, as we said, a tiny minority — but they don’t like their sense of entitlement to be challenged and although they treat the rest of humans as inferiors, they don’t like it when the waterhose is turned to the opposite direction (what the French call arroseur arrosé). (For instance, Richard Thaler, partner of the dangerous GMO advocate Übernudger Cass Sunstein, interpreted this piece as saying that “there are not many non-idiots not called Taleb”, not realizing that people like him are < 1% or even .1% of the population.)

Post-Post Postscript

(Written after the surprise election of 2016; the chapter above was written several months prior to the event). The election of Trump was so absurd to them and didn’t fit their worldview by such a large margin that they failed to find instructions in their textbook on how to react. It was exactly as on Candid Camera, imagine the characteristic look on someone’s face after they pull a trick on him, and the person is at a loss about how to react.
Or, more interestingly, imagine the looks and reaction of someone who thought he was happily married making an unscheduled return home and hears his wife squealing in bed with a (huge) doorman.
Pretty much everything forecasters, subforecasters, superforecasters, political “scientists”, psychologists, intellectuals, campaigners, “consultants”, big data scientists, everything they know was instantly shown to be a hoax. So my mischievous dream of putting a rat inside someone’s shirt (as expressed in The Black Swan) suddenly came true.

Note: this piece can be reproduced, translated, and published by anyone under the condition that it is in its entirety and mentions that it is extracted from Skin in the Game.
Publications banned from republishing my work without explicit written permission: Huffington Post (all languages).

U.S. The Land of the Free

How the US Imposes the Worst of Its Prison Paradigm Abroad

Saturday, July 22, 2017 By Nasim Chatha, Truthout | Report 
Incarceration rates rise and prisoner treatment worsens in countries where the US runs prison programs.Incarceration rates rise and prisoner treatment worsens in countries where the US runs prison programs. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)
The new federal penitentiary in Santa Barbara, Honduras, occupies a strip of land between a highway and cloudy, forested hills. "El Pozo," or The Pit, as it's known, is surrounded by barbed wire and has two additional checkpoints beyond the first gate. It's a maximum-security facility, one of three that have popped up since 2009. Before these were built, Honduras had no maximum-security prisons. El Pozo is one of the products of a United States international prison management program that infuses Latin American penitentiary cultures with some of the most inhumane aspects of US prison systems, and provides no benefit in terms of real security. 
At least $22 million have been devoted to a US international prison program focused mainly on Central American prisons. This program operates out of a web of government offices and programs, most prominently the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the US State Department. Because of the extent to which information is classified, it is difficult to track exactly what prison management entails, but it's clear that the US has in some way been involved in the prison systems of at least 34 countries. US activities include training, imparting management strategies and building new prisons.  
The sprawling El Pozo is a departure from Honduras's prisons before 2009, when the US prison program began in Honduras. It looks exactly like a US prison -- it even has a disabled parking spot (unlike, unfortunately, almost any other building in Honduras). Just 15 kilometers away from El Pozo in the city of Santa Barbara, the local, pre-2009 prison is more typical. Located one block from the city's main square, it is a nondescript yellow building built on a steep hill, marked only by a hand-painted sign. The sidewalk outside is occupied by pedestrians and vendors selling goods under awnings. Prison policy permits regular family visits, and family may bring food and some other items. Compared to many US prisons, the prison at Santa Barbara is relatively open to the outside community. This is the type of prison that, with the advent of the US program, has now been deemed inadequate for many of Honduras's incarcerated people.
Indeed, Honduran prisons have long been home to corruption and violence. It is a common occurrence for dozens of incarcerated gang members to escape all at once while guards look the other way, or for an unchecked fire to massacre hundreds. Many of the elites of organized crime remain involved in criminal enterprise while on the inside. The right-wing Honduran government chooses not to view these problems as symptoms of broader societal corruption and impunity, but instead as an issue of weak prison facilities.
Cesar Cáceres, a Honduran government official and president of the country's National Committee to Prevent Torture and Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment (or CONAPREV), suggests that the old prison buildings and lack of technology were to blame for the problems of Honduras's prisons in the past. "If it wasn't the worst, it was one of the worst prison systems in Latin America because there wasn't new infrastructure," said Cáceres. His viewpoint is typical of the state narrative. "Disgracefully, due to the lack of control, supervision and development, the system gave way to the creation of practical self-governance," Cáceres said. The notion that prisoners govern themselves implies that the prisoners have control behind the walls, and that the state is more victim than complicit perpetrator.  
This type of justification is used to pave the way for the US government to step in. The US began work on prisons with Honduras's government before the illegal coup of 2009. The first collaborative construction project was a maximum-security section of already existing La Tamara prison near Tegucigalpa. The new section is known as "La Maquila." The US controlled the design and construction of this facility, and loaned the funds needed to build it.
Despite many serious human rights abuses after the 2009 coup, the US continued to work with the coup-imposed government, putting to use decades of experience with the mass incarceration of its own low-income, Black and Brown communities. The coup opened Honduras to more intense US intervention, as the entire country grew more and more militarized. In 2014, the Honduran prison system passed into military control.
Around the same time, the new maximum-security prison known as El Pozo was completed, and a prison known as El Pozo II soon followed. These were announced with lurid headlines in Honduran newspapers, like "El Pozo is a Hell for Gangsters," or "Even Prisoners Faint when They Arrive at El Pozo II." Construction is currently stalled at a similar facility in Naco. Karen Spring of the Honduras Solidarity Network explains, "The shift in the prison culture is directly linked to the security policies that came as a result of the coup."
Iolany Perez, communications director at the Honduran news organization Radio Progreso, was curious about the new wave of prisons in her country. This spring, she went to El Pozo to see if she could get inside. After initially being told she could not, she was permitted to enter by the director, who wanted "to show me who was in charge." Perez saw that he was clearly high-ranking military because of his badges, although since January, 2017, Honduran prisons are supposed to have returned to civilian control. He showed her a wall of high-tech security monitors, and bragged that he could get on the phone with President Juan Orlando Hernández at any time.

Extreme isolation, being locked in tiny cells and sun deprivation are not unusual conditions in prisons in the US, but are new to Honduran prisons.

Gary Mejía, who is currently incarcerated at El Pozo, briefly spoke to the media when he testified in court. In the few minutes he had before being taken away, he told reporters that the conditions inside were terrible. "There is no water. For example, to bathe, I have to take water out of the trash can with the same glass I drink water out of," Mejia said. "The food is terrible; all of us are getting skinnier all the time. Imagine that you were only taken out to see the sun for five minutes each day. And then we're isolated without being able to see our loved ones."
Extreme isolation, being locked in tiny cells and sun deprivation are not unusual conditions in prisons in the US, but are new to Honduran prisons. Alba Mejía, director of the nonprofit organization Center for Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation for Victims of Torture (CPTRT), said the conditions at maximum-security US-style prisons of Honduras are not only very different from those that existed before, "from my perspective, they're getting worse," she said. The military elements running the prisons, Mejía says, "have no knowledge of rehabilitation." To them, "the prisons should be full of delinquents, and there they'll have no rights because they're not human beings."
Even with the increased security features, Honduras's new maximum-security prisons can't contain their prisoners. Virgil Sanchez Montoya, a suspected leader of the Barrio 18 gang who had been found guilty of killing 17 people at a shoe shop, was incarcerated at El Pozo. In May 2017, he was arrested for walking through San Pedro Sula with an AK-47. He's the fourth prisoner "rearrested" this year after they were supposed to be incarcerated at El Pozo. In June 2017, two people were killed inside El Pozo II. The new prisons continue to be dysfunctional and corrupt.

If the security situation has gotten better, why does the repression keep getting stronger?"

Moreover, while officially Honduras's murder rate is going down, many believe this to be a fabrication. The Observatory of Violence at the University of Honduras states that between 2011 and 2015, the murder rate went from 86 per 100,000 residents, to 60 per 100,000. José Guadalupe Reyes, the national director of Casa Alianza in Honduras, said, "We don't believe this corresponds to reality. The government has [a] monopoly on statistics." He explained that the Observatory of Violence, which has kept track of violence in the country, used to be able to go directly to the morgues, the hospitals, the police, and to otherwise conduct independent research, but as of two years ago, they must wait until the secretary of state delivers the figures to them. Reyes says, "It's a contradictory discourse -- if the security situation has gotten better, why does the repression keep getting stronger?"
Many in Honduras suspect their government is now using the continuing crisis and dysfunction in the new prisons as an opportunity to privatize the prison system. Omar Rivera of the Association for a More Just Society (ASJ), a Honduran organization that gets a significant portion of their funding from several agencies of the US government, just came out in favor of privatizing Honduras's prisons, or putting them in the hands of "friendly governments." Cesar Cáceres, too, strongly supports prison privatization. Before joining the CONAPREV, Cáceres worked at the office for public-private partnerships of the Honduran government. "Many American, Colombian, Mexican, Israeli companies came who wanted to offer their services in managing prisons," he said, but under President Zelaya, who was deposed by the 2009 coup, "there wasn't the political will." A newly privatized market in Honduran prisons will further open the country to US business interests. 
US involvement in prisons is not unique to Honduras. In the late 1990s, Colombia was home to the first project of the international US prison management program. "La Tramacúa," as the prison in Valledupar is known, was notorious for torturing political prisoners during their incarceration. At least until 2012, those incarcerated in La Tramacúa had an elaborate system for collecting and sharing water for the 10 minutes a day that it ran. The food had feces in it. Prisoners reported that 70 percent of the population was sick with diarrhea, vomiting or constant coughs. These issues, related in part to poor design, compound the problems more commonly associated with US prisons -- confinement in cells and isolation from family.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded La Tramacúa, and the US Bureau of Prisons implemented its construction and controlled every aspect of the design. It was modeled after Coleman Prison in Florida. The US Bureau of Prisons had an office in La Tramacúa when it was built. In January 2016 a Colombian government commission examined the conditions inside the prison and ordered for it to be closed, although this recommendation has not yet been followed. This troubled prison was the beginning of what has now been almost two decades of US international prison management programs.

In every Latin American country where the US has run prison programs, rates of incarceration are increasing.

Moreover, in every Latin American country where the US has run prison programs, rates of incarceration are increasing. Mexico's incarceration rate has increased by 37 percent since 2000. El Salvador's incarceration rate now rivals that of the United States.
For decades, the US has refused to deal with social ills at home. Instead, as Michelle Alexander says, a "literal war that has been declared on poor people and people of color has led to the birth of a prison system unlike anything in world history." Now we're pushing Latin American governments to begin following in our steps. July Henriquez, a lawyer with Lazos de Dignidad in Colombia, writes that US prison management programs call for a response shaped by a "Latin Americanist, liberatory, and transformational criminology." She calls for separating the prison from the interests of global capital, and instead, facing the social realities of each country.
Iolany Perez would be happy for all US prison management programs to end immediately, along with all US aid. "That's the dream," Perez said. "The response should come from here. The reality of our problems is very much ours." 
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.


Nasim Chatha works at Alliance for Global Justice ( where she coordinates their Prison Imperialism Project. 

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