tv Democracy Now PBS August 5, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
08/05/15 08/05/15 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica this is democracy now! >> this act flows from a clear and simple wrong. it's only purpose is to right that wrong. millions of americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. this law will ensure them the right to vote. amy: fifty years after the lyndon johnson signed the voting rights act, efforts to role back voting rights continue across the country.
as presidential candidates proliferate, who gets to vote. we'll speak with ari berman author of the new book on the modern struggle for voting rights in america. then to venezuela. >> we should be proud. i don't know if there were someone proud about 11. emiko we will look at the the making of leopoldo lópez -- venezuela's leading opposition figure. we will speak with roberto lovato, author of a new investigation into his rise to prominence. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. fox news has chosen the top ten republican candidates to participate thursday in the first debate of the 2016 presidential election. the candidates include front-runner donald trump, jeb
bush, scott walker, marco rubio, ted cruz, rand paul, ben carson, mike huckabee, chris christie and john kasich, who eeked out a spot as the tenth-highest polling candidate. the remaining seven republican candidates who will participate in a forum earlier in the afternoon are carly fiorina, rick perry, bobby jindal lindsey graham, rick santorum, george pataki and jim gilmore. fox news calculated its top-ten list by averaging five national polls, a process which came under fire from polling agencies earlier this week. the mayor's institute for public opinion temporarily suspended its polling saying fox's debate criteria ignores the margin of error. another top pollster said based on current polling, there's no good rationale proper to early selecting a top 10. in more news from the campaign trail, republican candidate jeb bush has sparked outrage with his statement that women's health care is over funded. bush made the comments when responding to an interviewer's
question about the planned parenthood sting videos, which are edited to appear to suggest that the organization sells fetal tissue, an allegation planned parenthood has vehemently denied. >> should we say, not more red center planned parenthood? >> we should. in the next president should define defund planned parenthood. we did the fund planned parenthood when i was governor. the argument against this as well, women's health issues are going to be your attacking women and attacking women's health issues. you could take dollar for dollar, although i'm not sure we would need half $1 billion for women's health issues. amy: jeb bush later partially walked back the statement saying he was not speaking about community health centers but only about planned parenthood's "hard-to-fathom $500 million in federal funding." he had a twitter war with
hillary clinton who was questioning his saying he did not support women's health care in america. "the washington post" is reporting the fbi has opened a preliminary probe into the security of the private email set-up democratic presidential candidate hillary clinton used while she served as secretary of state. the probe is looking into whether any classified material that may have moved through the private server was handled improperly. the fbi inquiry was confirmed by clinton's lawyer, who said they are cooperating with the probe. this comes 10 days after "the new york times" incorrectly reported that two inspectors general had asked the justice department to open a formal investigation into the private email account, a story that the times later retracted. in news from ohio, the mother of sandra bland has filed a lawsuit over the death of her daughter who was found hanging in a waller county texas jail cell last month. bland was arrested on july 10 by texas state trooper brian encinia, who alleged that bland failed to signal a lane change.
dash cam video of her arrest shows encinia forcibly removing bland from her car and threatening to "light [her] up" with a taser. she can later be heard accusing police of slamming her head into the ground. authorities have said bland committed suicide in jail, a claim her family has disputed. the wrongful death suit filed tuesday argues the officer used an inappropriate level of force during the arrest and bland should not have been arrested in the first place. the suit also contends bland was placed in a cell containing a large garbage bags and exposed beams even after she told authorities she'd attempted suicide in the past. the suit names state trooper encinia, two waller county jail guards, the texas department of public safety, and waller county. meanwhile, in news from north carolina, a white police officer has begun trial over the 2013 fatal shooting of unarmed african american jonathan ferrell.
he was seeking help after a car crash in 2013. randall kerrick, a white police officer, is facing charges of voluntary manslaughter for allegedly shooting 24 the -- 24-year-old jonathan ferrell. according to prosecutors ferrell had sought help from a nearby homeowner after a car crash, but the woman had believed she was being robbed and called the police. when the officers arrived, one pointed the laser of his taser at ferrell's chest. ferrell fled in fear and attempt ed to hide between the two police cars. this brought ferrell close to where kerrick was standing, prompting the officer to open fire, striking ferrell 12 times. if convicted, kerrick could face up to 11 years in prison. in news on puerto rico, the white house has said that it is not considering a bailout for the u.s. territory, which failed to pay a $58 million debt payment monday. tuesday, white house press secretary josh earnest said that the commonwealth needs to "restructure its liabilities," but that a bailout was off the
table. >> we believe puerto rico needs and ability to pay, but as i said before, the administration does not envision a bailout for puerto rico, but where available federal assistance coming leveraged to assist the leaders of puerto rico in meeting some of their financial obligations that we stand ready to help. amy: this comes as "the new york times" is reporting that puerto rico has also temporarily stopped its monthly payments to a fund that is used to pay back investors who hold general obligation bonds. puerto rico has a $370 million payment to this fund due january 1. a bill before congress would allow puerto rico to declare a limited bankruptcy, a move currently permitted only for cities and municipalities inside u.s. states. we will have more on puerto rico after headlines. in science news, new report shows significantly more methane gas could be leaking into the atmosphere than previously thought. the study found that a device
used to measure methane escaping from natural gas facilities was consistently under reporting the emissions as a result of a technical glitch. methane is a greenhouse gas that fuels climate change. the study's findings could mean that natural gas fracking, which emits methane, is more detrimental to the climate than previously thought, and that climate change could be happening at an even faster rate than current estimates. in news from afghanistan the united nations is reporting civilian casualties are at "record high levels." the u.n. says nearly 1600 civilians have died since january, the highest number of any similar time period since 2009. the majority of the deaths are reportedly from taliban forces. however, the report notes a 60% increase in deaths caused by u.s.-backed government forces. danielle bell, the director of the united nations human rights unit in afghanistan, spoke wednesday. >> the vast majority or 90% of all civilian casualties resulted from ground engagements
improvised explosive devices complex and suicide attacks and targeted killings. this destruction and damage must be met by new commitment by all parties to the conflict to protect civilians from harm. amy: in news from mexico authorities have released footage of three suspects leaving the apartment of photographer ruben espinosa, who was murdered alongside human rights activist nadia vera and three other women in the capital city friday. according to human rights advocates, epinosa's death signals a new level of violence against journalists in mexico, who had previously considered mexico city a safe zone. mexico city attorney general said the office is pursuing an investigation. the office has come under fire to focus on robbery as the reason for the killing despite espinosa reporting. to see our full coverage of
ruben espinosa's murder, go to democracynow.org. israel has arrested and jailed a jewish settler for six months without charges or trial marking likely the first time the controversial policy of administrative detention has been used against an israeli citizen. the detention comes as israel attempts to crack down on jewish extremism following a firebombing of a palestinian home in the west bank last week, which killed an 18-month-old baby. the government has expanded the use of detention without trial to include israeli citizens and said that it can use harsh interrogation methods against jailed jewish extremists. both policies were previously only applied to palestinians. meanwhile, authorities have also arrested the grandson of an american-israeli rabbi who is considered the father of right-wing jewish extremism has also been arrested for "involvement and activities in extremist jewish organizations."
the political party called for the forced removal of all palestinians. in more news from the region, a palestinian soccer team in the west bank will face off against its rival team in gaza for the first time in 15 years. israel approved the travel plans for west bank team after palestine threatened to call for israel's suspension from fifa over the government's attempts to restrict soccer players' and coaches' movement in and out of palestinian territories. islam al-batran from the west bank team al-ahly spoke about his excitement over the visit. >> i cannot describe this feeling. this is a historic visit. this is the first time we visit gaza. we're surprised to much the gazans are amazing people. we also thank the people for hosting and the audience of the club for their festive welcoming in the journalists and everybody . this is a truly amazing thing. amy: two undocumented immigrants have been appointed to serve as commissioners in the southern california city of huntington park. it is reportedly the first time undocumented commissioners have
been appointed in the state. huntington park mayor karina macias lauded the appointments saying, "they have every right to be at that table, because they are part of our community." and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. amy: you just wrote a piece in "the new york daily news" explain what is happening. juan: there is news this week puerto rico missed its $58 million bond payment that it owes in $72 billion debt load it has. of course, there's not much news it did pay about $500 million in other bond payments that were due. at this is technically the first default in what is expected to
be a string of defaults over the next several months. because the reality is the island of puerto rico, the government, cannot pay the amount of debt it has. this year alone, puerto rico has to pay about $3 billion in debt service. that is about 17% of its entire revenues of the government. next year, it will go up to 20% of its entire revenues. if you were named individual and you had that much credit card debt, you cannot meet all your bills. if you were a corporation facing that much -- that amount of debt service, you would probably have to declare bankruptcy and real organization and try to restructure your debts. the problem is, puerto rico cannot do that. it is amazing to me how so many journalists are reporting this reality that unlike states in the united states come a puerto rico does not have the ability to have its municipalities or its public corporations reorganize under aggressive protection. no one questions why this is so. but say it is anomaly.
a point i tried to make in a column today, this is part of a 117-year relationship of colonialism. this is part of the colonial status of puerto rico. even the marxist historian richard wolf this week claimed puerto rico was a semi-colony. no, it is not. puerto rico is a colony of the united states. i pointed to the decisions of the supreme court that ratified this colonial situation rendered in the early 1900s called the insular cases when puerto rico had just been acquired after the spanish-american war. in a 54 decision back then, the same five judges, by the way, the decided plessy versus ferguson, the same five judge conservative majority back at the turn-of-the-century said in their decision, called the downs versus bidwell, the island of puerto rico is a territory, pertinent and belonging to the
united states, but not part of the united states within the revenue causes of the constitution. basically, saying the constitution only applied in puerto rico those portions that congress decided -- deemed necessary to apply. so the problem for puerto rico has been for 117 years that all major decisions about the island are made by congress, not by the elected officials a puerto rico themselves. you have had numerous examples. one example i gave people forget about, the current crisis, really originated with ill clinton. 1996, bill clinton was attempting to get a new federal minimum wage past, newt gingrich the republicans in congress were resisting it so clinton cut a deal with the republicans. congress would raise the federal minimum wage that would provide billions of dollars in tax benefits to small businesses. where would they get the money for that? clinton agreed to do with the
way -- do away with a special tax exemption corporations in puerto rico had that were worth lanes of dollars. as a result -- it would be phased in over 10 years, between 1996 and 2006. over those 10 years, that special tax exemption was lost taken away by congress, and thousands of jobs left the island is pharmaceutical companies electrical -- medical equipment companies, chemical firms decided it was no longer profitable for them so they left the island. the best thing jobs were lost. puerto rico has been basically an economic contraction since 2000 since ♪ for the last 10 years. yet the decisions in congress setting the basis for what is happening puerto rico now so now once again, puerto rico is having to go to congress, asking for the right to reorganize like general motors did, like detroit did, like orange county did to be able to reorganize under
bankruptcy protection and congress is resisting. president obama, the white house, as you saw, is only paying lip service, not really fighting over this issue. it remains to be seen how it will be resolved. the reality is, all of this is rooted in the fact puer rico remains a colony of the united states with no voting representation in congress. amy: how to the debt crisis affect the people of puerto rico? >> is unbelievable. you have a situation were just a few weeks ago, the government raised sales tax from 7% to 11%. it has already effectively eliminated all the defined-benefit pension funds of government workers. now between the hedge funds and the economists the imf economists were saying the way to get out of this is by austerity, they now want to eliminate protections from overtime, they want to encourage the island of puerto rico to
sell off of its publicly owned -- it is our he sold off its airport, and some of its toll roads, nothey want to sell the ports, to sell government buildings. basically, so any government assets as a means to raise money. they want to reduce medicaid, lower the minimum wage, want congress to lower the minimum wage below that of the federal animal wage. they want to create an even deeper cut in wages for young people. they basically want the population to bear the brunt of the economic problems of the island, and i think what leaders of puerto rico are saying, hey we're in this together. all of these wall street firms kept pedaling loans to us. just last year, $3.5 billion in new bonds are issued, largely bought up by hedge funds because puerto rico already had junk-bond status for its debt.
it could raise money so the hedge funds came in and they said, we will give you $3.5 billion in real loads. however, a percent interest rate. understand, puerto rico's triple tax exempt for anyone in the united states, that is the great secret of how the finance community has made money off puerto rico. that 8% is worth about 12% or 13% if it is triple tax exempt to anybody who invests in those funds. they been making a killing, but specifically said, not only do we get first priority for any payment the money gets in, but if there is a dispute, this dispute will not be heard in puerto rican courts, it will be held in new york courts. so they were already preparing for the possibility the island would default, but they wanted to have the courts on theire . so you see, the hedge funds especially, are demanding they are first in line and want payments and the government a
puerto rico saying look, if we're going to suffer, if we are going to make further cuts in puerto rico as they did in greece, the bondholders have to suffer as well. they have to accept losses. they have to restructure the debt. and that is the problem, the puerto rico government cannot do that right now given the reality of its colonial situation. we will see what happens. amy: and we willing to your column at democracynow.org. when we come back, you may have heard about the proliferation of presidential candidates. what about the crack down on the people who get to vote for them or who they want to? it has been 50 years since the voting rights act was passed. today we will speak with ari berman, author of "give us the ballot." stay with us. ♪ [music break]
benkert wrote of the experience, "music was an essential element; music in song expressing hope and sorrow; music to pacify or excite; music with the power to engage the intelligence and even touch the spirit." this is democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: as the republicans prepare to hold the first presidential debate of the 2016 race, the the media are focusing largely on which candidates will be heard. on tuesday, fox news announced republican governors chris christie and john kasich had grabbed the last spots in thursday's 10-candidate debate. fox news that a calculated its top 10 list by averaging five national polls in a process which came under fire from polling agencies earlier this week will stop well, today, we look at who will be able to vote in the upcoming election. this week marks the 50th anniversary about a landmark achievement of the civil rights movement.
it was on august 6, 1965 when president lyndon johnson signed into law the voting rights act as reverend martin luther king rosa parks, and now 14-term congressman john lewis looked on. this is an excerpt from johnson's address to congress that day. >> this act flows from a clear and simple wrong. it's only purpose is to right that wrong. millions of americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. this law will ensure them the right to vote. the wrong is one which no american in his heart can justify. the right is one which no
american true to our principles can deny. amyjuan: president lyndon johnson speaking 50 years ago on august 6, 1965, just before he signed the voting rights act into law. the law has been under constant attack ever since. just two years ago, the supreme court struck down parts of the measure in a case called shelby county, alabama v. holder when it ruled states with histories of voting-related racial discrimination no longer had to pre-clear changes to their voting laws with the federal government. one month later, north carolina passed sweeping voting restrictions that cut early voting and eliminated same-day registration. during the midterm elections in 2014, these new rules prevented thousands from casting their vote. amy: voting rights could become a pivotal issue in the 2016 race. on tuesday, martin o'malley who is running for the democratic
presidential nomination, called for a constitutional amendment to protect every american's right to vote. california announced tuesday it is dropping its allenge to a court ruling allowing thousands of newly released felons to vote. the move effectively extends voting rights to 60,000 to 73,000 former prisoners. well, for more, we are joined by ari berman. he covers voting rights for the nation and his new exhaustive new book has just been published. it's called, "give us the ballot: the modern struggle for voting rights in america." welcome back to democracy now! it is great to see you again ari. i saw you in selma are you begin your book on the 50th anniversary of the 1965 first selma march where john lewis was front and center, introducing the first african-american president, as he said, to his own shock. >> it was an amazing moment to see john lewis who nearly died 50 years earlier in selma introducing barack obama hugging him on stage and basically lewis saying, never thought i would see this day.
the president saying, i never thought i would see this day, either. it was very emotional. i was glad i was there because i really wanted to get that moment into my book. i snuck in, basically the last thing i was able to add. and then history comes full circle because they were in selma, celebrating the voting rights act but the act has also been gutted. the same thing they fought for 50 years later was now under siege. that gives some real tension to the anniversary of bloody sunday. it wasn't just a commemoration it was really a call to recognize the importance of the voting rights act and to restore going forward. juan: for a lot of people, nowadays, take voting for granted. they have no knowledge of this history. you and your early chapters, you talk about it as being the second emancipation and the second reconstruction. those analogies, why you used those analogies and could you go through some of that early battle? >> absolutely.
the second emancipation, the second reconstruction is what is so important to remember. in 1870, we passed the 15th amendment that said the right to vote shall not be denied or abridged on the basis of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. then we essentially ignored the 15th amendment for almost 95 years. reconstruction, when it was a flourishing a black political power in the south last of her basically a decade after federal troops pulled out of the south as a result of the disputed 1876 election, states like mississippi and alabama started passing things like poll taxes literacy tests do this in franchise black voters. after the civil war, nissan explosion of black political power basically followed by the total absence of black political power just a decade later. the voting rights act of 1965 essentially was passed just to enforce the 15th amendment which we should not have needed to enforce in the first place because it was only on the books.
at the commerce of president johnson did with the voting rights act, made sure we did not have to have a third emancipation or reconstruction of with solve this problem of voting dissemination once and for all. amy: i want to go back to dr. martin luther king speaking in washington, d.c., on may 17, 1957. his speech "give us the ballot." ,>> give us the ballot and we will fill our legislative halls with men of goodwill and send to the sacred halls of congress men who are not sign a southern manifesto because of their devotion to the manifesto of justice. give us the ballot and we will place judges on the benches of the south who will do justly and love mercy and we will place at the head of the southern states governors who have felt not only
the tang of the human, but the glow of the divine. give us the ballot and we will quietly and nonviolently without rancor or bitternes implement the supreme court's decision on may 17 1954. amy: that was dr. martin luther king in 1957, in his speech "give us the ballot." ,ari berman, where are we today? we're in a very disturbing an ironic position where we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the voting rights act, but the act has been gutted and is a much broader attack on voting rights. from 2011 to 2015, 468 new voting restrictions have it introduced in 49 states. this is a battle taking place all across the country to try to make a harder to vote. half the states have passed new laws, making it harder to vote since 2010. that was the backdrop to the supreme court's decision that gutted the voting rights act and allow the states with the worst
histories of voting discrimination in places like alabama, texas, mississippi, to no longer have to approve the voting changes with the federal government. voters are being hit from all sides. they are being hit by new voting restrictions, making it harder for young people, minorities women to vote. also being hit by supreme court's that gutted the voting rights act ironically, the very moment when the voting rights act was needed so much after all of these new voting restrictions had been passed. juan: in one chapter chapter eight, you begin your story with willie steen, a navy veteran of the persian gulf war who was attempting to vote in the 2000 election in his hometown in tampa, florida. could you talk about his situation? also, the importance of the florida election and in the supreme court of the bush versus gore decision on that? i want to turn to comments made by justice antonin scalia during
oral arguments in shelby versus holder. he suggested certain provisions of the voting rights act were a form of "racial entitlement turko >> i think it is treated by very likely attributable to phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement it has been written about whenever society adopts racial entitlements. it is very difficult to get at them through the normal political processes. juan: that was justice scalia. we do have a video that had to do with willie steen. i want to turn to investigative reporter greg palast, one of the leading journalists to expose voter disenfranchisement in florida during the 2000 election. this is an excerpt of the film "bush family fortune." >> thousands of black voters when they show u u ued up to vote were turned away because they were
listed on voter registers as convicted criminals, but were they? i met with willie's dean -- willie's dean. he was not allowed to vote in florida because jeb election officials said he was a felon. are you a criminal? >> no. no, no at all. never been convicted of any crime. >> but they had you down as a felon. >> yes, they did, but not me. wrong person. i never been arrested in my life. i was in the military for four years. got out of the military, been in the medical field ever since. you can't even work for a hospital being a convicted felon. and i was in the persian gulf war in 1991. i fought in the war. pretty screwed up how they did me but what can i say? juan: that was willie steen who i was referring to earlier. could you talk about the importance of what happened in
florida in relationship to all of these efforts now to -- disenfranchisement? >> in florida they had a felon voter purge. basically, the state sent a huge list of people they said were felons who are on the voting rolls and told the county supervisors in florida to purge them in advance of the 2000 election. it turned out that list was littered with errors and disproportionately african-american. african-americans were 11% of florida's electorate but 44% of those who were wrongly labeled felons. what happened was, thousands of people showed up on election day , were told it were felons -- wrongly -- and were not able to vote. after the election, the state ran the numbers again and found that 12,000 people were wrongly labeled as felons and potentially purged from the rolls. that was 500 -- 22 times bush's 577 vote margin of victory. this purge could have very will decide the florida election. it was significant for a few reasons. number one, led to a new wave of
disenfranchisement efforts. republicans realized this voter purge could swing most elections. the second thing, the bush and administration and powered a new generation of counterrevolutionaries do hyperthreading voter fraud. that laid the groundwork for this all on voting rights and the obama you're a. and it also led to to justice is being put on the court, john roberts and sam alito, roberts who went to florida during the 2000 recount doubt the bush team on the invite of ted cruz, who was running bush's eagle team at the time. a lot of people who are present today, jeb bush, ted cruz, john roberts, were active in 2000. the bush and administration led to the supreme court, the remaking of the supreme court that then gutted the voting rights act. florida was a pivotal turning point in the weakening on our assault -- and assault on a voting rights.
amy: in the 2001 report of the civil rights commission on the 2000 election debacle in florida, it accused then governor jeb bush and secretary of state katherine harris of gross dereliction of duty, saying they chose to ignore mounting evidence of problems. a read -- "despite the closeness of the election, it was widespread voter disenfranchisement and not the dead-heat contest that was the extraordinary feature in the florida election. after carefully and fully examining all the evidence, the commission found a strong basis for concluding that violations of section 2 of the voting rights act occurred in florida." now jeb bush is running for president. talk more about jeb bush's role, which is so significant this year. >> i think jeb bush has a lot of questions to answer about his role in that election. he was a very hands-on governor.
he was involved in every aspect of the state. it when he was asked what role did you played supervising florida's elections coming said i did not play any role. it was all caps on harris's fault, which is at odds with his profile as governor. the problem on his voter purge list emerged well before the election, may 2000, election supervisors themselves found themselves wrongly labeled as felons. it was clear this purge list was gravely flawed and election supervisors went to the state and said you have to disregard this. the state refused to. jeb bush should have known well in advance of the election that this was going to be a problem that could lead to chaos. instead he did nothing. afterwards, he took no responsibility. it is unfortunate we then had a new administration, the bush ministration which instead of investigating these violations under the voting rights act, instead sought to get the voting rights act and politicized the justice department and height the nonexistent problem of voter fraud instead of the very real problem of footers is -- voter
disenfranchisement we saw in florida and ohio in 2004 and moving forward. juan: i want to ask about one aspect of the voting rights act. to my view, actually it did not help advance eagle treatment of racial minorities, which is the effort to insist that you could not gerrymander districts to delete minorities a power. but what actually happened, at least about the early 1990's, is that minority officials sought to create super majorities in their districts to prevent, i guess, challenges to them. at the result was that you had this enormous concentration of african-american and latino votes in certain districts and therefore, it allowed more conservative candidates to gain power and other congressional districts and create in places like texas or other areas,
situation where, really, there's a disproportionate conservative and white voting congress compared to the actual populations in those states. quite>> it is a complicated issue. what you had at the time in the 1980's and 1990's was a crew -- an incredible underrepresentation of latino representation. there were only two african-americans elected from the south in congress. there were -- they were 25% of the population in the south and only two black members of congress. there was a big push to get more representation. that is why people wanted them to be drawn. but the same time, there were a lot of like democrats and white democrat who are weary of drawing these districts because they knew that republicans if black voters or hispanic voters were packed and districts, would when these other seats. there was this flourishing of minority political power and was also a flourishing of republican
political power as well. what happened as a result of the 2010 redistricting cycle when republicans had even larger majorities in the states, they further packed these districts. they took the district already 50% african-american and made it 65% african-american to further weaken minority voting strength. there has now been a backlash against this. what you're seeing in the south is black candidates are saying we don't want to have these packed districts anymore. we're ok with the 45% district, 50% district. we don't need a 70% black district anymore. in some ways it was a response to underrepresentation but i also that republicans are many ways have turned in the voting rights act on its head. amy: i want to go back to some of these presidential candidates like one who just made the cut. this is from think progress. john kasich who barely made the cut to the debate, he was like number 10 with a margin of error that made him really equal to rick perry, has worked to restrict where and when state
residents can register to vote vote early and vote absentee. policies that have brought lawsuits from students and people of color who say there been disenfranchised. he is also approved several bills to change election dates while the secretary of state's been accused of and terminating voters and try not eligible provisional ballots. ohio is another key battleground state. he was fighting to be heard in this presidential debate thursday night. correct and the side of the presidential election. amy: will his voters be heard? >> there is been an attack on voting rights and ohio. we saw seven-hour lines in 2004 because the were not up does enough voting machines. just because the word not enough. thousands of voters were turned away. ohio in 2000 and come after that -- some of the cuts were
done under john kasich watch. rick perry who is not in this debate, but very prominent has been a strong supporter of voter id laws. ted cruz very strong supporter of voter id laws. marco rubio, strong proponent of florida cutting early voting and doing other things like that chris christie has opposed early voting and automatic voter registration in new jersey. virtually, all of these candidates and the republican debate have been on the wrong side of the voting rights issue. none of them, to my mind is supporting restoring the voting rights act. rand paul is the only one who talked about the need for felons, nonviolent felons together voting rights act. use the only one who said some stuff that is positive on this front. these candidates have been united in opposing strong protections of the voting rights act and ironically, the debate will be on the 50th anniversary. i'm not holding my breath, but i would hope fox would ask about this. juan: let's turn to one you mentioned, rick perry in 2012
who defended his state's voter id law on fox news. >> with multiple cases where voter fraud was in various places across the state. this is not a democrat or republican issue. i think any person who does not want to see fraud believes in having good, open, honest elections transparent. one of the ways to do that, one of the best ways to do that, is to have an identification, photo identification so you prove you are who you are and you keep those elections fraud-free. juan: that was former texas governor rick terry. >> there again to trials over texas voter id laws. we know 5% of texas electorate doesn't have a government issued id. we know that to pay for the underlying documents to get this id, like birth certificate which is why this been called a poll tax. we know people have difficulty obtaining an id because one third of counties in texas do not even have a dmv office.
if you live in a rural area, you don't have a drivers license, you don't have a dmv office, how are you supposed to get to an adjoining county with no public transportation? we also know thousands of voters are being turned away in taxes as a result of this law. we saw story after story after story in the 2014 election of people who have been voting all their lives who could not vote because of the id law based on no record of voter fraud. the state presented no evidence of voter impersonation in court to justify its law. i think on the surface, things that rick perry says makes sense. does everyone have an id but the record shows that everyone has an id. it is very burdensome, turning voters away from the polls. amy: the critical voter battlegrounds, the issues of voting laws that will be battled as we move into this critical 2016 election. >> the 2016 election is going to be in 15 states, that new voting restrictions in place for the first presidential cycle. a lot of states will have this
battle for the first time in the presidential year. like north carolina, ohio, virginia wisconsin tom and without the full protections of the dra and without -- amongst the backdrop of this broader attack on voting rights, i think voting rights will be a big issue in this election and the 50th anniversary of the voting rights act should be the opportunity for people to soothe importance. i wanted to write the book so people could understand the history of the act, what it did understand the backlash and realize this is not just something in the history books but an ongoing fight today including in 2016 election. amy: prisoners, ex prisoners like what california has done? >> california is one of those big blue states moving very rapidly to expand voting rights. that is a good thing that states now in response to the backlash are trying to expand voting rights. i were we are headed to a two-tiered election system -- i fear we're headed to a
two-tiered election system. amy: ari berman, thank you for being with us. his new book is called "give us , the ballot: the modern struggle for voting rights in america." thanks so much. this is democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
amy: "te doy una cancion," "i'll give you a song," performed by silvio rodriguez and luis eduardo aute. this is democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: we end today's show with a major investigation into the jailed leader of venezuela's opposition movement -- leopoldo lópez. last february, lópez turned himself into authorities after they issued a warrant for his arrest for inciting violent anti-government protests that left more than 40 dead.
president nicolas maduro dismisses him as a criminal. but lopez plus supporters call him a political prisoner and accuse maduro is silencing dissent. amy: but in a new report in foreign policy, journalist roberto lovato draws on interviews i wikileaks and archived video to tell the story of "the making of leopoldo , lópez: a closer look at the democratic bona fides of the rock star of venezuela's opposition." roberto lovato will join us in a minute, but first i want to turn to a clip of leopoldo lopez speaking in 2004, two years after the coup, which began in 2002 -- which ousted chavez from power. >> i don't know if there's someone who isn't proud about april 11. known april 12, this happen. the history is there an we will criticize and we will see, but
april 11 doesn't put them in the swap. we have to claim the 11th stop the march of the 11th, the power of the people from the 11th. and the man resigned on the 11th. he put his tell between his legs and left, and that is the reality. amy: that was leopoldo lopez speaking in 2004. for more, we are joined from san francisco, california by roberto lovato, author of this new profile of lopez. roberto is a writer and visiting scholar at the uc berkeley center for latino policy research. welcome back to democracy now! tell us why leopoldo lopez is so significant. >> well, glad to be on the show again, amy. leopoldo lopez is a unique phenomenon, i think, and latin american political -- recent latin american political history in terms of being someone who on the one hand new the recalls, revolutionary who has it all and "-- some who has "twinkling
chocolate covered eyes." i've never seen in all my times covering social movements and revolutionary movements in latin america, seen this kind of attention paid to a figure of an opposition movement in latin america. latin america, remember, has turned away from u.s. policy and from the u.s. you have someone who has it -- is called a revolutionary by newsweek who at the same time is unlike -- his movement, unlike most latin american movement, is opposed to u.s. policy supported by u.s. policy or's is opposed to it. the opposition in venezuela gets u.s. funding instead of being opposed by u.s. funding. last year we saw a lot of violence we also saw people killed. one of the reasons i undertook this story was that i noticed there was a difference between what we saw last year in terms of the immense awakening in
hollywood suddenly to venezuela from madonna ,cher tweeting and talking about the opposition in lopez and what was actually on the streets was that there were 43 people killed but you did not hear about the people that were just -- chavistas there were killed. a 29-year-old motorcyclist was beheaded by barbed wire put out by the opposition in venezuela. i decided -- i wanted to look at the opposition. i thought, what better way than to look at it at one of its rising leaders, leopoldo lopez. juan: who is leopoldo lopez? especially, what are his family -- who is he descended from? >> leopoldo lopez is descended from -- through his mom who has a line that runs through bolivar's sister.
he is been compared to gandhi and mundell a another prominent figures in global human rights. by his own admission, he comes out of the 1%. he did an interview with his high school newspaper which was a high school where saudi princes have gone, the children of ceos of fortune 500 ceos, and the son of a president have gone. buys on a mission, he comes from the 1% and has risen to where he is now because he comes from a prominent family of because he is a capable organizer. according to u.s. state department cables. what is interesting, if you look at the cables -- juan: his mother, as you said, is from -- one of the executives
of the cisneros group, probably the largest media company in south america? >> yeah, one of the largest media conglomerates in the world is the cisneros group with the stations and networks all over the world. his mother is a senior executive . essentially, has a lot of family connections and media. his mother is with the cisneros group, large conglomerate. his father is on the editorial ard -- according to -- in columbia, a newspaper. his wife is a reality show star tv -- former tv host and radio jock. he is also very connected to people in the u.s. like former republican operatives like robert glock who runs a pr firm and previously was working on alexander and arnold schwarzenegger campaigns, for example, to get gray davis out of office. he also has connections to people like a gentleman named leonardo alsovar who did
communications for the romney administration. i'm sorry, for the romney campaign. and worked with the bush administration. you know, i looked into statements by different figures. i interviewed members of his family. i interviewed his allies. i had people like robert gluck tell me he was -- they have this volunteer effort called friends for free venezuela. when i asked gluck if he was being paid for his -- what he did, he stalled and then said, yes, and told me he was being paid by leopoldo lopez's family. this is a gentleman who said in the news, and i quote -- to call leopoldo lopez right wing is "the ultimate are million doublespeak." leopoldo lopez comes from a very wealthy influential well-connected family that i think serves him in his rise to
power from the past up to now his party. throughout you see a figure that has been very divisive. if you look a state department cables that say he is " power-hungry and vindictive." at the same me, describing them as a good organizer. amy: talk about his circumstances today, why is he in jail? >> he is accused of arson and incitement in blaer's a people's that we saw in venezuela. he had a lot of other charges against him, but those were dropped. his trial has had these fitand starts and it has been going o for quite some te. you know according to a pollster, one of the primitive pollsters of venezuela his time
in jail is benefiting his political career because he is perceived as a political prisoner. that is surely the case in the international arena although, in venezuela, the occasion of -- the opinion about leopoldo lopez is divided. that is not really come out in our media. just like the chavista dead i mention. you do not hear about the people that were beheaded by the opposition. you do not care about the chavista dead. you heard about the people chavistas killed. >> leopoldo lopez's party released a video of him speaking before he surrendered to government troops. this is part of what he said. >> i would like to tell all venezuelans that i do not regret what we of done this far. [indiscernible] which is what we've been doing for some time. but on the 12 the february on the day of youth, hundreds of thousands of people to do the streets of venezuela not only in caracas like in the past, but in all of venezuela, in the city
and in the towns, there were 10 or 50 or 1000 or 10,000 even 70,000, but the people came out. the people will come. venezuela today, more than ever, needs you. each one of us takes on the commitment to want change, but that commitment cannot be passive. that commitment has to be active. juan: that was leopoldo lopez last year. roberto, we only have about a minute. in terms of his role in achieving greater or less democracy in venezuela, how do you judge that? >> i think you look at the constitution and the way that people around lopez, as i talk in my article are or aren't committed and lopez himself committed to democracy themselves in terms of the constitution. the constitution we shredded in the coup. lopez and his lawyers make statements that deny yet any role when in fact if you look in my article lopez was involved in activities to a general
strike in a protest, and have made statement like an early tape where he is clearly does even though he was not a signature to the document, the document his own father signed -- i interviewed lopez's father not lopez. his father td me he had signed not the carmona accord, but -- amy: we have 10 seconds. >> he told me he signed in attendance sheet. you can see video he signed the accord. amy: roberto lovato, we will link to your article called "the , making of leopoldo lópez: a closer look at the democratic bona fides of the rock star of venezuela's opposition." democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to email@example.com or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]