August 8th, 2017 | Victims of Communism

Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation

August 8th, 2017


China Willing To “Pay A Price” For Stronger North Korea Sanctions
James Griffiths and Serenitie Wang, CNN
China is willing to take the economic hit of greater sanctions on North Korea, a top official said Monday, as Washington continues to pressure Beijing on the issue. “Given China’s traditional economic ties with North Korea, China more than anyone will pay a price for implementing the resolution,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the ASEAN Regional Forum in the Philippines, according to a statement from the ministry. “In order to maintain the international nuclear non-proliferation system and regional peace and stability, China will, as always, enforce the full content of relevant resolutions in a comprehensive and strict manner.” Sanctions were imposed in the wake of Pyongyang’s testing of an intercontinental missile apparently capable of reaching the US mainland amid increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

China’s Ready For War—Against The US If Necessary
Graham Allison, THE LA TIMES
To mark the 90th birthday of the People’s Liberation Army on Aug. 1, China’s President Xi Jinping went to the Inner Mongolian steppe to the site where Genghis Khan began his conquest of Eurasia. There, at Zhurihe, he was welcomed by an impressive display of China’s martial might: a parade of Chinese troops, tanks, helicopters, aircraft and missiles. But the main course was a massive war game demonstrating the state of China‘s preparation to “fight and win” future military conflicts. Xi’s parade, along with recent Chinese military maneuvers, sends an equally unambiguous message: If war breaks out on the Korean peninsula, China is ready to protect its national interests. A major pillar of Xi’s program for “making China great again” is building a modern military fully “capable of fighting and winning” a 21st century war―including, if need be, against the United States.


Cuba Says Private Sector Freeze Will Not Last Years
The Cuban government said on Monday the freeze on new licenses for some private-sector occupations would not last years, in an attempt to reassure citizens worried about an apparent pause in the liberalization of the economy. Communist-run Cuba last week said it was suspending issuing licenses for popular activities like renting out rooms in homes while it took new measures to “perfect” the functioning of the nascent private sector and curb wrongdoing. “We are not talking about a very long period of time. We are not talking about years,” Labor Vice Minister Marta Elena Feitó said in an interview aired on state-run television. “We are talking about a normal work procedure to approve these norms.” Feitó said around 1,600 applications for licenses for affected occupations filed before the freeze was announced would be processed.


North Korea Defector Says Life In South Miserable
Elizabeth Shim, UPI
A North Korean defector in the South is demanding the Seoul government allow him to return to his country of origin. Kwon Chol-nam, a defector who claims a human trafficker helped him to travel to South Korea for about $2,500 in 2014, told The New York Times he is being “treated like dirt” in the wealthier South. “In the North, I may not be rich, but I would better understand people around me and wouldn’t be treated like dirt as I have been in the South,” Kwon told The Times. Kwon is the second defector to demand repatriation. His story shares distinct similarities with the account of defector Kim Ryen-hi, a woman who claimed she was tricked into entering the South, and has been working toward repatriation since 2015. Their stories, however, do not reflect ongoing concerns inside North Korea.

North Korea Threatens “Physical Action” In Response To UN Sanctions
North Korea escalated its criticism of the United States, as well as its neighboring allies, on Tuesday by warning that it will mobilize all its resources to take “physical action” in retaliation against the latest round of United Nations sanctions. The statement, carried by the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, was the strongest indication yet that the country could conduct another nuclear or missile test, as it had often done in response to past United Nations sanctions. Until now, the North’s response to the latest sanctions had been limited to strident yet vague warnings, such as threatening retaliation “thousands of times over.” “Packs of wolves are coming in attack to strangle a nation,” the North Korean statement said. “They should be mindful that the D.P.R.K.’s strategic steps accompanied by physical action will be taken mercilessly with the mobilization of all its national strength.”


Totalitarianism Defeated Marx’s Ideals: Spiritual Leader Of Tibet
Grigory Avetov, CEO of Synergy Business School based in Moscow, and journalist Dmitry Portnyagin, interviewed His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Delhi, India on August 3, 2017. Asked if we can imagine that the world will become more peaceful, His Holiness replied that of course it was possible. He recalled the spirit of reconciliation that followed the Second World War. He reiterated his admiration for the spirit of the European Union—describing the conscious effort to overcome past enmity to work together in co-operation as an exemplary sign of maturity. With regard to the former Soviet Union he declared that he still approves of the Marxist approach to economics, but regrets Lenin’s having institutionalized the secrecy and suspicion that are called for in war time. He suggested that totalitarianism defeated Marx’s ideals.”


US, Allies Slow Beijing’s South China Sea Momentum
Jim Gomez, AP
With the rise of a friendly leader in the Philippines, China has been spared a vocal adversary in the disputed South China Sea. In the process, it has gained momentum despite last year’s ruling by an arbitration tribunal that invalidated its expansive claims in the disputed waters. The rapprochement between President Rodrigo Duterte and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, defused a tense standoff between the Asian neighbors last year at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, where China allowed Filipinos back to fish in October as years of thorny relations began to brighten. As President Donald Trump succeeded Barack Obama, who had challenged China’s assertive advances in the disputed sea, US allies wondered if Trump would press America’s role as a regional counterbalance to the Asian powerhouse. An annual summit of Asia-Pacific nations hosted by the Philippines over the weekend, however, delivered a reality check to Beijing. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met his Australian and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of the meetings in Manila of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. After their meeting, they issued a joint statement that blasted aggressive actions in the contested offshore territories—without, of course, naming Beijing directly, in line with diplomatic practice.

Russia Braces For Permanent Sanctions From The US
Henry Meyer and Anna Andrianova, BLOOMBERG
Andrey Kostin, a former Soviet diplomat in London who runs Russia’s second-largest bank, was jubilant when Donald Trump was elected last year. “We may soon see US financial sanctions eased or even lifted,” he said at the time. Now, he’s changed his tune as his state-run VTB Group, like other targeted Russian entities, faces decades of limits on foreign borrowing. President Trump reluctantly codified those sanctions into law on Aug. 2 when he signed a bill that passed Congress with veto-proof majorities. “There’s a war in the area of finances,” Kostin complained at a banking conference in St. Petersburg on July 14. Desperate to snap out of an investment chill after its longest recession in two decades, Russia is likely to remain walled off from foreign capital and technology for the foreseeable future. US and European Union sanctions imposed in 2014 over Russia’s annexation of Crimea cut off state banks from capital markets and restricted access to energy technology, which along with the crash in oil prices, hit the economy with a one-two punch that drove it into recession. The new law, passed in response to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, tightens some of those limits a bit.

US Readies More Sanctions Against Venezuelan Officials
The Trump administration is preparing sanctions against another group of Venezuelan officials linked to President Nicolás Maduro in response to his creation of a new legislative superbody in defiance of world condemnation, US officials said on Monday. The new measures, to freeze the individuals’ US assets, ban them from travel to the United States and prohibit Americans from doing business with them, could be rolled out as early as this week, one of the administration officials told Reuters. No final decisions have yet been made on the list of new targets, which is likely to include a significant number of names, or on the exact timing of the announcement, the two officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Washington slapped sanctions on Maduro himself last week following similar action against 13 Venezuelan figures on July 26. The next round is still expected to stop short of penalties against Venezuela’s vital oil sector, considered the toughest of possible sanctions, though such measures, US sources have said, remain under consideration.


A Musical Voice Of Venezuela’s Resistance, Silenced By Regime
Jeremy Eichler, THE BOSTON GLOBE
Since July 27, Wuilly Arteaga’s violin has fallen silent. While playing at a demonstration only days before Venezuela held a controversial election, he was arrested and is now being detained in a military facility under the control of the Bolivarian National Guard, according to his lawyer, Alfredo Romero. “He told me he has been tortured,” said Romero, executive director of the NGO Foro Penal Venezolano, speaking by phone from Caracas. “He was beaten with his own violin, and beaten in a way that he lost hearing in his right ear.” Arteaga’s alleged treatment is particularly grotesque in a country renowned for its government-supported national music education program, known as El Sistema, which has empowered thousands of impoverished young people, created a network of youth orchestras across Venezuela, and even launched a global conducting superstar, Gustavo Dudamel. Arteaga has said he taught himself violin through YouTube videos, but he later won a spot in El Sistema’s Youth Orchestra of Caracas. As his protest performances have garnered worldwide attention, his humble yet mighty message has been resonating here in Boston, where the seeds of El Sistema’s empowerment-through-music philosophy have long been bearing fruit.

Venezuela Top Court Orders Jailing Of Opposition Mayor Muchacho
Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the arrest of opposition mayor Ramon Muchacho of the Caracas district of Chacao, which has been the site of intense anti-government protests against President Nicolás Maduro. The court said in a statement that its Constitutional Chamber sentenced him to 15 months in prison, and it dismissed him from his post. Muchacho was ruled to be in contempt of court for not having obeyed an order to ensure free transit in his district, where protesters for more than four months have routinely blocked streets and set up barricades along avenues. It comes just days after the opening of a legislative superbody called the constituent assembly that Maduro promises will bring peace to the country but critics call the consolidation of a dictatorship. Muchacho, who did not appear at the hearings, slammed the ruling as an effort to stamp out dissent. “We are being condemned for doing our job, for guaranteeing the legitimate right to peaceful protest and the right of all Venezuelans to exercise their civil and political rights,” wrote Muchacho in an email message that he sends to subscribers each morning. “The coming hours will be difficult for me.”

UN Warns Venezuela Over “Use Of Excessive Force”
The United Nations Human Rights Office has warned of “widespread and systematic use of excessive force” being used against protesters in Venezuela. It also speaks of other human rights violations, including “violent house raids, torture and ill-treatment.” It says that the security forces are allegedly responsible for at least 46 deaths which occurred in protest-related violence. The findings are based on interviews. A statement released on Tuesday says that “in the absence of responses from the Venezuelan authorities to requests for access, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein deployed a team of human rights officers to conduct remote monitoring of the human rights situation in the country.”