Lula tells world he’s back in the game from jail

Meanwhile, fires rage in the Amazon and Brazilian President Bolsonaro has become a target of global indignation.

By Pepe Escobar from Brazil – posted with permission

Former president Lula speaks with reporters from a prison room in Curitiba in southern Brazil. Photo: Editora Brasil 247

Brazil has always been a land of superlatives. Yet nothing beats the current, perverse configuration: a world statesman lingers in jail while a clownish thug is in power, his antics now considered a threat to the whole planet.

In a wide-ranging, two-hour, world exclusive interview out of a prison room at the Federal Police building in Curitiba, southern Brazil, former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva not only made the case to global public opinion for his innocence in the whole Car Wash corruption saga, confirmed by the bombshell leaks revealed by The Intercept, but also repositioned himself to resume his status as a global leader. Arguably sooner rather than later – depending on a fateful, upcoming decision by the Brazilian Supreme Court, for which Justice is not exactly blind.

The request for the interview was entered five months ago. Lula talked to journalists Mauro Lopes, Paulo Moreira Leite and myself, representing in all three cases the website Brasil247 and in my case Asia Times. A rough cut, with only one camera focusing on Lula, was released this past Thursday, the day of the interview. A full, edited version, with English subtitles, targeting global public opinion, should be released by the end of the week.

Asia Times writer Pepe Escobar, front left with scarf, meets Lula in prison. Photo: Editora Brazil 247

Lula is a visible embodiment of Nietzsche’s maxim: whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Fully fit (he hits the treadmill at least two hours a day), sharp, with plenty of time to read (his most recent was an essay on Alexander von Humboldt), he exhibited his trademark breadth, reach and command of multiple issues – sometimes rolled out as if part of a Garcia Marquez fantastic realism narrative.

The former president lives in a three-by-three-meter cell, with no bars, with the door open but always two Federal policemen outside, with no access to the internet or cable TV. One of his aides dutifully brings him a pen drive every day crammed with political news, and departs with myriad messages and letters.

The interview is even more astonishing when placed in the literally incendiary context of current Brazilian politics, actively flirting with a hybrid form of semi-dictatorship. While Lula talks essentials and is clearly recovering his voice, even in jail, President Jair Bolsonaro has framed himself as a target of global indignation, widely regarded as a threat to humanity that must be contained.

It’s all about the Day of Fire

Cut to the G7 in Biarritz: at best a sideshow, a talk-shop where the presumably liberal West basks in its lavish impotence to deal with serious global issues without the presence of leaders from the Global South.

And that brings us to the literally burning issue of Amazon forest fires. In our interview, Lula went straight to the point: by noting the absolute responsibility of Bolsonaro’s voter base.

The G7 did nothing but echo Lula’s words, with French President Emmanuel Macron stressing how NGOs and multiple judicial actors, for years, have been raising the question of defining an international statute for the Amazon – which Bolsonaro’s policies, single-handedly, have propelled to the top of the global agenda.

Yet the G7’s offer of an immediate $20 million aid package to help Amazon nations to fight wildfires and then launch a global initiative to protect the giant forest barely amounts to a raindrop.

[Brazil, after this article was written, rejected the proffered aid from G7 countries, with a top official telling France’s President Macron on Monday to take care of “his home and his colonies,” AFP reported. “Maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe,” Onyx Lorenzoni, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, told the G1 news website. “Macron cannot even avoid a foreseeable fire in a church that is a World Heritage site. What does he intend to teach our country?” He was referring to the fire in April that devastated the Notre-Dame Cathedral. “Brazil is a democratic, free nation that never had colonialist and imperialist practices, as perhaps is the objective of the Frenchman Macron,” Lorenzoni said. -eds.]

A fire burns out of control after spreading onto a farm in Nova Santa Helena in northern Mato Grosso State, in the southern Amazon basin in Brazil, on August 23, 2019. Photo: Joao Laet / AFP

Significantly, US President Donald Trump did not even attend the G7 session that covered climate change, attacks on the biodiversity and oceans – and Amazon deforestation. No wonder Paris simply gave up issuing a joint statement at the end of the summit.

In our interview, Lula stressed his landmark role at the Conference of Parties (COP-15) climate change summit in Copenhagen in 2009. Not only that, he told the inside story of how the negotiations proceeded, and how he intervened to defend China from US accusations of being the world’s largest polluter.

At the time Lula said: “It’s not necessary to fell a single tree in the Amazon to grow soybeans or for cattle grazing. If anyone is doing it, that is a crime – and a crime against the Brazilian economy.”

COP-15 was supposed to advance the targets established by the Kyoto Protocol, which were expiring in 2010. But the summit failed after the US – and the EU – refused to raise their projections of CO2 reduction while blaming Global South actors.

In a sharp contrast with Lula, Bolsonaro’s project actually amounts to a non-creative destruction of Brazilian assets such as the Amazon for the interests he represents.

Now the Bolsonaro clan is blaming the government’s own Cabinet of Institutional Security (GSI, in Portuguese) – the equivalent of the National Security Council – led by General Augusto Heleno, for failing to evaluate the scope and gravity of the current Amazon forest fires.

Heleno, incidentally, is on record defending a life sentence for Lula.

A Brazilian protests in Curitiba on August 23, 2019, against the spate of forest fires in the Amazon, with images of the people he blames: US President Trump and Brazilian President Bolsonaro. Photo: Henry Milleo / dpa

Still, that does not tell the whole story – even as Bolsonaro himself also kept blaming “NGOs” for the fires.

The real story confirms what Lula said in the interview. On August 10, a group of 70 wealthy farmers, all Bolsonaro voters, organized on WhatsApp a “Day of Fire” in the Altamira region in the vast state of Pará.

This happens to be the region with the highest number of wildfires in Brazil – infested with aggressive rural developers who are devoted to massive, hardcore deforestation; they’re invested in land occupation and a no-quarter war against landless peasants and small agricultural producers. “Day of Fire” was supposed to support Bolsonaro’s drive to finish off with official monitoring and erase fines over one of the “Bs” of the BBB lobby that elected him (Beef, Bullet, Bible).

Lula was evidently well informed: “You just need to look at the satellite photos, know who’s the landowner and go after him to know who’s burning. If the landowner did not complain, did not go to the police to tell them his land was burning, that’s because he’s responsible.”

On the road with the Pope

A vicious, post-truth, hybrid-war strategy may be at play in Brazil. Two days after the Lula interview, a fateful paella took place in Brasilia at the vice-presidential palace, with Bolsonaro meeting all the top generals including Vice President Hamilton Mourao. Independent analysts are seriously considering a working hypothesis of the sell-out of Brazil using global concern about the Amazon, the whole process veiled by fake nationalist rhetoric.

That would fit the recent pattern of selling the national aviation champion Embraer, privatizing large blocks of pre-salt reserves and leasing the Alcantara satellite-launching base to the United States. Brazilian sovereignty over the Amazon is definitely hanging in the balance.

Considering the wealth of information in Lula’s interview, not to mention his storytelling of how the corridors of power really work, Asia Times will publish further specific stories featuring Pope Francis, the BRICS, Bush and Obama, Iran, the UN and global governance. This was Lula’s first interview in jail where he has felt relaxed enough to relish telling stories about international relations.

What was clear is that Lula is Brazil’s only possible factor of stability. He’s ready, has an agenda not only for the nation but the world. He said that as soon as he leaves, he’ll hit the streets – and cash in frequent flyer miles: he wants to embark alongside Pope Francis on a global campaign against hunger, neoliberal destruction and the rise of neo-fascism.

Now compare a true statesman in jail with an incendiary thug roaming his own labyrinth.

Advertisements

Adding Context to ‘News’ about Venezuela

Adding Context to ‘News’ about VenezuelaAugust 11, 2019

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

This past week’s meeting of the U.S.-and-Canada-created anti-Venezuela Lima Group of nations failed to achieve the U.S. regime’s intention of organizing a coalition of its members to participate in a U.S.-led invasion to overthrow Venezuela’s Government and install Trump’s choice, the self-styled ‘interim President’ of Venezuela, Juan Guaido, to rule there. Although 100 nations had been invited, only 60 attended, and the U.S. regime wasn’t able to obtain even one ally for an invasion. John Bolton (U.S. National Security Advisor) and Wilbur Ross (U.S. Secretary of ‘Commerce’ — mainly U.S. oil companies) represented U.S. President Trump at the meeting, which started on August 5th. The meeting ended with no official announcement. It was a humiliating defeat for the U.S. regime.

Below is a report about this meeting, by Agence France-Presse, a typical U.S.-allied ‘news’-medium. The italicized additions in brackets in and near the article’s end are essential historical context; it’s taken from Wikipedia’s article International sanctions during the Venezuelan crisis”, and thus also isn’t from me. This way, the reader will be able to see what the ‘news’-report here leaves out, which is essential background in order for readers to know the reality that stands behind this particular ‘news’ report. The minor typos in the original report are also left unchanged; the entire article is unchanged, except that I boldface the passages toward the end, which passages are subsequently contextualized immediately below them. Afterward, I shall add my own comments, in order to provide a fuller context:

——

http://archive.is/pNGYl

https://www.france24.com/en/

US warns off Venezuela’s supporters as Lima meeting opens

Date created: Tuesday 6 August 2019,  06/08/2019 – 20:07

AFP, Lima (AFP): Washington warned third parties on Tuesday to avoid doing business with the Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro, as delegates from some 60 countries met in Lima to discuss ways of ending the crisis in South American nation.

The warning came one day after President Donald Trump ordered a freeze on all Venezuelan government assets in the United States and barred transactions with its authorities.

“We are sending a signal to third parties that want to do business with the Maduro regime: proceed with extreme caution,” said Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, speaking in Lima.

“There is no need to risk your business interests with the United States for the purposes of profiting from a corrupt and dying regime.”

The Trump administration is determined to force Maduro from power and support opposition leader Juan Guaido’s plans to form a transitional government and set up new elections.

The sanctions drew an angry response from Caracas, which denounced the US move as “another serious aggression by the Trump administration through arbitrary economic terrorism against the Venezuelan people.”

Crisis-wracked Venezuela has been mired in a political impasse since January when Guaido, speaker of the Natinal Assembly, proclaimed himself acting president, quickly receiving the support of more than 50 countries.

Tuesday’s meeting was called by the Lima Group, which includes a dozen Latin American countries and Canada, most of which support Guaido.

The Lima meeting comes as representatives of Maduro and Guaido are involved in “continuous” negotiations mediated by Norway.

The first round of talks were in Oslo in May, and three further rounds have taken place in Barbados.

Caracas claims the US sanctions show that Washington and its allies are “committed to the failure of the political dialogue” because “they fear the results and benefits.”

Bolton, who is in the US delegation alongside Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, said Maduro was “not serious” about talks.

He said Trump’s move “authorizes the US government to identify, target and impose sanctions on any persons who continue to provide support” Maduro’s “illegitimate regime.”

He said it would “deny Maduro access to the global financial system and to further isolate him internationally.”

Venezuela’s opposition considers Maduro a usurper over his re-election last year in a poll widely viewed as rigged.

They want him to stand down so new elections can be held — but Maduro, with support from the country’s powerful military, refuses to go.

Maduro says the talks must lead to “democratic coexistence” and an end to what he describes as an attempted US-orchestrated “coup.”

But on Tuesday the White House was emphatic: the “dictatorship must end for Venezuela to have a stable, democratic, and prosperous future.”

The United States would “use every appropriate tool to end Maduro’s hold on Venezuela,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

Oil-rich but cash-poor Venezuela has been in a deep recession for five years.

[“President Barack Obama signed the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, a U.S. Act imposing sanctions on Venezuelan individuals held responsible by the United States for human rights violations during the 2014 Venezuelan protests, in December of that year.[13][14] It “requires the President to impose sanctions” on those “responsible for significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses associated with February 2014 protests or, more broadly, against anyone who has directed or ordered the arrest or prosecution of a person primarily because of the person’s legitimate exercise of freedom of expression or assembly”.[8]”]

Food and medicine shortages are routine, and public services are progressively failing.

[“As the humanitarian crisis deepened and expanded, the Trump administration levied more serious economic sanctions against Venezuela on 28 January [2019], and “Maduro accused the US of plunging Venezuelan citizens further into economic crisis.”[3] Rafael Uzcátegui, director of PROVEA, added that “sanctions against PDVSA are likely to yield stronger and more direct economic consequences, and that “[w]e should remember that 70 to 80 percent of Venezuela’s food is imported, and there’s barely any medicine production in the country.”[3]”]

——

MY COMMENTS: The U.S. regime’s sanctions against Venezuelans were aimed at producing such distress amongst the population so as to cause them not to vote for Maduro. It didn’t work. The sanctions had the intended effect of distressing Venezuelans, but this deprivation drove so many of the most anti-Maduro Venezuelans to leave the country so that the sanctions failed to force the expected “regime change.” It drove too many of his enemies out. The U.S. regime is therefore trying even-stronger measures to grab the country. Trump is dictating to Venezuela that “the dictatorship must end.” He has even chosen the person, Guaido, who is to replace the current nationally elected President, whom the U.S. regime has long been trying to oust. Guaido has never even been a candidate in any national Venezuelan election, but he was trained in the U.S., and has always cooperated with the U.S. Government’s repeated efforts to take control over Venezuela. Venezuela has never invaded nor even threatened the United States. This coup-attempt is purely an effort for imperialistic conquest of Venezuela, but it is cloaked in ‘democratic’ and ‘humanitarian’ lies, for fools, like America’s invasions and coups typically are. Only idiots can’t see what the U.S. pattern is here, especially after the lies that had suckered Americans in 2003 to support “regime-change in Iraq.” Trump is continuing Barack Obama’s policy, which continued that of George W. Bush. Whatever changes in personnel occur within the U.S. regime, the regime itself remains basically the same, though its theatrics change, and that’s enough change to satisfy most Americans that we live in a democracy. Virtually all of the U.S. Congress supports these efforts to conquer Venezuela, and this fascism includes all of the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidates. Therefore, none of the candidates are being challenged about their votes supporting this (or any other) attempted conquest by the U.S. regime. The neoconservative policy is bipartisan in America, though the personnel do change, from the representatives of one group of billionaires, to the representatives of another group of billionaires. And the vast majority of Americans think that it’s good, or at least okay — even after all of the lies have been exposed, they still approve. Of course, most Italians, Japanese, and Germans, thought favorably about their Government’s imperialistic conquests, during WW II; but Americans became opposed to that when we were hit by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war against us. This time around, we are the Japanese, and the Germans, and the Italians. Things weren’t supposed to turn out this way, but it has happened. The U.S. is today the world’s leading fascist nation. And very few Americans recognize that it’s the way that things did turn out. Very few Americans know that we live in a fascist nation — today’s leading fascist nation.

AFTER THAT NEWS-REPORT:

The next day, August 7th, Venezuela’s Telesur headlined “EU Opposes Recent US Total Blockade Against Venezuela” and reported that Trump had failed to get the EU — his biggest hope for destroying Venezuela short of militarily invading it — to accept even that proposal. The EU said “We oppose the extraterritorial application of unilateral measures.” They further said “A negotiated outcome remains the only sustainable way to overcome this multidimensional crisis.” The EU couldn’t muster enough fascists to go along with anything that the U.S. regime proposed. At this point, Trump isn’t far from the moment when he will need either to abandon his effort to grab Venezuela in this round, or else spring a blitz invasion without allies. Even if he calls off the effort, that would only be temporary. Perhaps if and when he is re-elected, he will feel freer just to send in thousands of troops, tanks, and missiles, to get the job done. However, if Russia stands firm, then such an invasion could spark WW III. He would have to decide whether grabbing the world’s largest oil reserves is worth that risk. Meanwhile, he will almost certainly continue to try to make life as difficult as possible for the Venezuelan people, all the while blaming Maduro for their misery. This has been the basic American plan, since well before Trump occupied the White House. At this stage, an American President is just a figurehead for one or another faction of America’s 607 billionaires, and it seems that whereas some of them demand conquest of Venezuela, none of the others opposes such a conquest. The only issue, therefore, for the American regime, is how and when to do that.

On August 8th, Venezuela, Iran, China, and Russia, held “war games” at Kaliningrad, Russia, on the Baltic coast, which military exercises had been organized by Russia, perhaps in order to indicate to Washington that a U.S. invasion against any of these four would be militarily responded to by all of the four. This symbolic act warns the fascist, and fascist-accepting, regimes: Your imperialist alliance has 60 nations, but is fractious; ours, on the other hand — all resolute supporters of national sovereignty, and therefore opponents of imperialism — has 4 nations, but we are united. Consequently, though “US warns off Venezuela’s supporters as Lima meeting opens,” Venezuela’s three allies here answered that verbal threat immediately after the Lima Group meeting, by a joint action, which symbolized that they are ignoring it.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

America Dumps INF Treaty. Time for Russian Missiles in Latin America?

Image result for America Dumps INF Treaty. Time for Russian Missiles in Latin America?
Robert Bridge
August 9, 2019

Washington’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty is just the latest move against Russia that will serve to intensify an arms race on the European continent that is already underway. It may also force Russia to take things to the next level.

Aside from the unprecedented stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction on an epic scale, a whirlwind of regional developments are now underway that foreshadow extremely unsettling consequences. First and foremost is this month’s formal announcement by the Trump administration that it would be pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), signed into force by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan back in 1987.

With the INF consigned to the dustbin of history, the US and Russia are free to design and produce ballistic and cruise missiles within a 500-5,500 kilometer range (310-3,420 miles). Would any NATO country be so foolish as to host these American-made weapons on their territory, thereby opening itself up to a devastating first-strike attack in some worst-case scenario? Poland is one possible candidate. After all, Polish President Andrzej Duda last year offered the United States $2 billion in financing for the construction of a permanent American base on Poland’s eastern border. While the two NATO countries are still considering the idea, it is clear that the eradication of the INF Treaty promises to ratchet up tensions between Russia and its neighbors.

Washington’s pullout from the INF did not occur in a vacuum, of course. It followed in the tank tracks of George W. Bush’s disastrous decision to withdraw from the ABM Treaty, one of many opportunistic moves committed by the United States in the aftermath of 9/11. With the ABM out of the way, the United States was able to establish a missile defense shield in Romania, just miles from the Russian border. Washington’s overtures to Moscow that it would welcome Russian participation in the project were eventually revealed as a deceitful stalling tactic. Russian President Vladimir Putin was not fooled, however, and wasted no time researching and developing of a lethal array of new weapon systems, including a nuclear-powered cruise missile with unlimited range.

156 человек(а) говорят об этом
At this point in the updated ‘Great Game’ there is a temptation to say that the US and Russia have entered yet another ‘MAD’ moment, that is, ‘mutually assured destruction’ should one side or the other attempt fate with a first-strike attack. Check mate, as it were. After all, Russia has got its “unstoppable” nuclear-powered cruise missile and other fearsome hardware, while the US has its missile defense shield, as well as numerous NATO set pieces, bolted down in Europe. Everything is wonderful in the neighborhood, right? Well, not exactly.

Comparing the present standoff between the US and Russia to the Cold War realities is erroneous and dangerous for a number of reasons. First, the opportunity for some sort of mishap resulting in all-out war has never been greater. The reason is not simply due to the dizzying amount of firepower involved, but rather due to the proximity of the firepower to the Russian border.  During the Cold War standoff, Moscow, the nerve center of the Soviet empire, was well guarded by the buffer of Warsaw Pact republics. Today, that buffer has practically vanished, and NATO is not only encamped deep inside of Eastern Europe, but – in the case of the Baltic States of Estonia and Latvia – smack up against the Russian border. Although the entire concept of time, distance and space has been made somewhat redundant by the exceptional speed of modern missiles and aircraft, this has not reduced the possibility of NATO and Russia accidentally stumbling into a very bad situation.

Now with the INF Treaty out of the way there is the possibility that Washington will place intermediate-range missiles in Russia’s backyard. Such a move would flush with Washington’s revised nuclear doctrine, which not only aims for increasing its nuclear arsenal, but – in pure Dr. Strangelove fashion – lowering the threshold for which nuclear weapons may be used. To think that Russia will watch passively on the sidelines as the US disrupts the regional strategic balance in its favor would be wishful thinking.

Even as the corpse of the INF treaty was still warm, Mark T. Esper, the new US secretary of defense said he favored the deployment of new American ground-based missiles to Asia, without specifying a precise location.

“It’s fair to say, though, that we would like to deploy a capability sooner rather than later,” Esper said while en route to Australia for foreign policy meetings. “I would prefer months. I just don’t have the latest state of play on timelines.”

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is reportedly moving ahead with the development of missile systems, including a cruise missile with an expected 1,000 km range and an intermediate-range ballistic missile with a 3,000 to 4,000 km range. With the ‘shield’ of a US missile defense system already established in Eastern Europe, Russia will not sit by idly and wait for NATO’s other hand to pick up a sword.

What options are open to Russia at this point? Aside from its Russia-based defenses already mentioned, Moscow will feel very compelled to move its strike abilities closer to the United States in order to match NATO’s newfound capacity just over the Russian border.

Putin has emphasized that Russia will not deploy ballistic missiles unless the US does so first. If he were required to respond, would Russia consider a permanent missile base somewhere in Latin America, just miles from US shores, mirroring the same situation that Russia faces in Eastern Europe? Imagine a situation where ‘Trump’s Mexican Wall’ became in reality a host of Russian launch pads. Although ti would solve America’s migrant problem, it probably won’t do much to help Americans sleep better at night. Impossible to imagine, of course, yet that is the exact dire scenario Russia faces on its own border with the Baltic States.

A more likely scenario, however, is that Putin, in the event Trump ‘goes nuclear’ in Eastern Europe, will deploy round-the-clock stealth submarines armed with ballistic missiles near the American shoreline as an insurance policy. It is a dreadful new reality to consider, yet as the United States continues with its reckless treaty-trashing posture it is a reality the world will be forced to live with.

OMISSION OF ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY THE VENEZUELAN “OPPOSITION” DISCREDITS UN HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT

Global Research, August 05, 2019

Former lawyer for the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Alfred de Zayas stated:

“As a former staffer of the Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights, I know how things work.  There are people with prejudices.   They have an axe to grind and they grind it and they omit information that just doesn’t fit the matrix that they want to put forward…Now this, of course, is not just a problem of methodology.  This is also a problem of ethics.  The professional ethics of a staff member must include a true reproduction of the information received from all sources…the information given to the High Commissioner, I have seen much of that information, which also dates back to 2017, and none of it was ever reflected by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and is also not reflected by this new report…I think it is necessary for the credibility of the office to change the team that has been doing these reports in the past because they have proven not to be objective.  They have proven not to follow what I would consider the minimum requirements of any serious research.”

“I think that not giving appropriate weight to the violence of the guarimbas, of the opposition, not going into the dislocation, the disturbance of repeated attempts at overthrowing the government, the coup d’etat, the unilateral declaration of the presidency of Guaido, followed by the so-called humanitarian aid that the United States was going to force from Colombia into Venezuela, followed by the call to the army to overthrow Maduro on the 30th of April last, etc., the attempts on the life of Maduro himself—All of these things have an impact on the functioning of any government….But back in 2017, and I’ve seen the videos, the opposition used Molotov cocktails.  The opposition used real bullets.  The opposition burned alive seven human beings.”

In an appallingly distorted and biased report by United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the shameful failure to report or even mention the atrocities committed by the Venezuelan so-called “peaceful opposition” is a sin of omission so egregious as to discredit the entire report, and disqualify the professionalism of those who compiled it.  It is also shocking that Michelle Bachelet affixed her own imprimatur to this report:  Madame Bachelet should, at the very least, have mentioned  particularly infamous atrocities perpetrated by the Venezuelan opposition, atrocities which actually exceeded in savagery some of the horrors perpetrated by the fascist dictatorship of Chile’s Pinochet, barbarism of which Chile’s Michelle Bachelet herself must be fully aware.

This report on Venezuela dates back as far as 2014, and clearly includes 2017, during which racist atrocities perpetrated by the opposition against supporters of the government are so heinous that their glaring omission from this current report constitutes a deliberate attempt to suppress and deny the truth, transforming the report into a blatant propaganda device, devoid of reliability.

On May 22, 2017 the torture-murder of an Afro-Venezuelan was committed by members of the opposition demonstrating in the wealthy community of Altamira:  a young Afro-Venezuelan, Orlando Jose Figuera was beaten to the ground by a mob of over 40 members of the opposition, who knifed him six times in the stomach, doused his body with gasoline and burned him alive.  Figuera, a government supporter, died ten days later.  The opposition perpetrators of this heinous atrocity were never apprehended.

“What does the Organization of American States General Secretary Luis Almagro say?  What does the Colombian President say?  What does Donald Trump say?”

These Venezuelan racist members of the opposition  subsequently burnt alive at least five other government supporters, including Danny Subero, Pedro Josue Carillo, several other youths: at least eighteen government supporters were murdered in this “peaceful” opposition demonstration, alone.  Absolutely no mention of this is contained in Michelle Bachelet’s current report, which virtually demonizes the Venezuelan government.

During this orgy of sadism perpetrated by the so-called “peaceful” Venezuelan opposition, fifty four public – operated TransBolivar buses in Ciudad Guyana were  set on fire with Molotov cocktails hurled by members of the opposition. This was confirmed by Bolivar state Governor Francisco Rangel Gomez. Of course, the well-to-do members of Venezuelan society do not need to use public buses.  They frequently ride in chauffeured limosines.  The destruction of public buses harms the poorer sectors of Venezuela, those very members of society which Presidents Chavez and Maduro were attempting to help, and raise the standard of living.

These opposition protests have caused the country $140,000,000 in damages in 2017 alone.

These crass omissions of numerous crimes and atrocities perpetrated by the Venezuelan opposition scandalously discredit this report, and reveal it to be sycophantic propaganda, both intellectually and morally bankrupt, currying favor with Western financial powers, and unworthy of Madame Bachelet, herself, who cannot, or should not have forgotten the cases in Chile of the “Quemados.”  Rodrogo Rojas and Carmen Gloria Quintana,  were similarly doused with gasoline and set on fire by Pinochet’s gestapo:  Rojas died of his burns, and Carman Gloria underwent more than 30 plastic surgery operations to attempt repair her face and body, still disfigured with scarring.  There is one difference:  Pinochet’s killers omitted the six knife wounds to the stomach that Figueroa suffered.  Members of the Venezuelan opposition seem to have exceeded in savagery even Pinochet’s Nazis.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Carla Stea is Global Research’s correspondent at United Nations Headquarters, New York, N.Y.

China must avoid a role in destruction of Amazon

July 23, 2019

by Pepe Escobar : Posted with permission

China must avoid a role in destruction of Amazon

China is South America’s top trading partner. Together, China’s policy banks – the China Development Bank and Export-Import Bank of China – are the top source of development finance for the whole of Latin America. 

Over the past few decades, the Brazilian government, leading national companies and multinational corporations have configured what Fernando Mires, already in 1990, defined as the “Amazon mode of production”: a terribly predatory, technological-intensive mode of production and destruction, including subjugation of indigenous populations in slave-based working conditions, with everything geared for export to global markets.

The Amazon is spread out over 6.5 million square kilometers covering two-fifths of Latin America – half of Peru, a third of Colombia, a great deal of Bolivia, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guyana and Suriname, and most of all, 3.5 million square kilometers in Brazil.

The original population diversity was staggering. Before the arrival of the Europeans in Brazil in 1500, there were no less than 1,400 tribes, 60% of them in the Amazon. Ethnologists marveled that nowhere else in the world compared to the linguistic diversity in tropical South America.

The Tupi-guarani tribe even constituted a sort of “empire”, occupying a huge territory from the Andes to the Pampas in southern Brazil. A sort of “proto-state” traded with the Andes and the Caribbean. This all laid to rest the Western-peddled myth of a “savage”, un-civilized Amazon.

Now let’s fast-forward to the current Western outcry over the Jair Bolsonaro government’s destruction of the Amazon.

Brazil, still under the second presidential term of Dilma Rousseff – later impeached under spurious charges – was a signatory of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change. Article 5 of the agreement rules that parties “should take action” to preserve endangered forests. Brasilia pledged to protect the Amazon by restoring 12 million hectares of forests by 2030.   

And yet under Bolsonaro, “should take action” metastasized into “reverse previous action.” The new mantra is “Amazon development.” In fact, a turbo-charged and even more predatory 2.0 version of the “Amazon mode of production,” much to the horror of Western environmentalists, who fear an imminent transformation of the Amazon into a dry savanna, with dire consequences for the whole planet.

Staggering natural wealth

The Brazilian Army is fond of noting that the Amazon’s natural wealth has been evaluated at a staggering $23 trillion. This is a 2017 figure announced by General Eduardo Villas Boas, who added: “Brazil is a highly endowed individual imprisoned in the body of a teenager. The Amazon is practically abandoned, there’s no national project and density of thinking.”

In fact, there is a national (military) project to “develop” the Amazon at breakneck pace, while preventing, by all means, the “Balkanization of the Amazon” and the action of Western NGOs.

In April this year, one of Bolsonaro’s sons posted a video of Dad engaged in a “surprising” conversation with four indigenous people in Brasilia.

A deforested area in the middle of the Amazon jungle found in Para state, Brazil in 2014. Greenpeace said trucks carried illegally felled trees to sawmills at night, which were later exported. Photo: AFP / Raphael Alves

Top anthropologist Piero Leirner – a specialist on the Brazilian military and their activities in the Amazon – explains the context. The Bolsonaro government carefully picked four natives involved in the business of soybeans and mining. They spoke for themselves. Immediately after, an official indigenous people association released a letter disowning them. “That was classic Divide and Conquer,” Leirner argued. “Nobody paid attention to the letter. For most of Brazil, the case was closed in terms of ‘social communication’ – solidifying the government’s narrative of NGOs fighting for the internationalization of the Amazon.”

Mining giants in Brazil would rather have indigenous peoples as spokespersons instead of the military. In fact, it’s a maze of interlocking interests – as in captains and colonels in business with mining entrepreneurs acting in protected indigenous areas.

What happened during these past few years is that most indigenous peoples ended up figuring out they cannot win – whatever the scenario. As Leirner explained: “Belo Monte [the world’s third-largest dam] unveiled the real game: in the end, the dam practically works to the benefit of mining companies, and opened space for Belo Sun, which will excavate the whole of Xingu in search of gold.”

So that’s the perverse project inbuilt in the “development of the Amazon” – to turn indigenous peoples into a sub-proletarian workforce in mining operations.

And then there’s the crucial – for the industrialized West – niobium angle (a metal known for its hardness). Roughly 78% of Brazilian niobium reserves are located in the southeast, not in the Amazon, which accounts at best for 18%. The abundance of niobium in Brazil will last all the way to 2200 – even taking into consideration non-stop, exponential Chinese GDP growth. But the Amazon is not about niobium. It’s about gold – to be duly shipped to the West.

Rolling down the river

Bolsonaro is keen to bring roads, bridges and hydroelectric plants to the most remote areas of the Amazon. Under the “sovereignty” mantra, he has promised to impose the hand of the state in the strategic Triple-A area – Amazon, Andes, Atlantic Ocean – thus countering the alleged intent of Western NGOs of creating an independent strip for environmental preservation.

So, how does China fit into the Amazon puzzle? A recent report addresses some of the hard questions. 

Since last year, Beijing officially started to consider the whole of Latin America as a “natural extension” of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as well as an “indispensable partner.” That was spelled out by Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the 2018 China-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States Ministerial Forum.

All of BRI’s guidelines now apply – and that includes the Amazon: policy cooperation, infrastructure development, investment and trade facilitation, financial integration, and cultural and social exchange.

China’s internal green drive – restricting coal production, supporting solar panel factories, remaking Hainan island into an eco-development zone – will have to be translated into its projects in the Amazon. That means Chinese companies will need to pay extremely close attention to local communities, especially indigenous people. And that also means that the Chinese will be under intense scrutiny by Western NGOs.

Brazil may have ratified the International Labor Organization’s Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, known as ILO 169, which enshrines the rights of indigenous communities to be consulted by the state on decisions that directly affect them.

Yet with less than seven months of Bolsonaro in power, all that is in effect null and void.

Indigenous people call for demarcation of lands in Sao Paulo in January 2019. People around the world have voiced concern over the policies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: AFP / Cris Faga / NurPhoto

There’s slim hope that an exhaustive set of guidelines for large projects in the Amazon established by the Center of Sustainability Studies at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Sao Paulo, linked to the World Bank, may be respected by the government. But no one is holding their breath.

Key projects with Chinese involvement include the Amazon waterway in Peru, which featured prior consultations with over 400 indigenous villages, according to the government in Lima.

But most of all there’s the $2.8 billion, under construction 2,500 km-long Belo Monte Transmission Line, with an installed capacity of 11.2 gigawatts. China’s State Grid is part of the consortium, with financing coming from the Brazilian National Development Bank. The first and second transmission lines directly affect the Amazon ecosystem and run near 10 conservation areas and an array of ethnic groups.

The “China in the Amazon” report correctly notes that “Chinese companies are not well attuned to the importance of direct engagement with local non-governmental stakeholders, and have faced repeated costs, work stoppages, and delays as a result. Chinese deference to host-country policies should extend to the commitments by host countries to international treaties and law, such as ILO 169 and its standard of free, prior, and informed consent for indigenous peoples. Indigenous organizations and civil society organizations in the Amazon region have a long and strong trajectory of actively participating in government decisions relating to the use of indigenous territories and natural resources.”

The report suggests establishing a “multidisciplinary working group comprised of NGOs, local indigenous groups, academics, and scientists to review existing principles and standards” for sustainable infrastructure projects.

The chances of this being adopted by the Bolsonaro administration and endorsed by the Brazilian military are less than zero. The Big Picture in Brazil under Bolsonaro spells out neocolonial dependence, over-exploitation of workers, not to mention indigenous peoples, and the complete expropriation of Brazilian natural wealth.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro delivers a speech at Davos in January. His policies are seen as a major threat to forests in the Amazon. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Only a pawn in their game

China may be Brazil’s top trade partner. But Beijing must tread carefully – and strictly enforce BRI guidelines when it comes to projects especially involving the Amazon.

There’s no way the UN Security Council, with climate change in mind, would ever sanction Brazil for the destruction of the Amazon. France and Britain would be for it. But Russia and China – both BRICS members – would certainly abstain, and the US under Trump would vote against it.

Brazil is now a privileged pawn in the most important geopolitical game of the 21st century: the clash between the US and the Russia-China strategic partnership.

The last thing Beijing needs in terms of global public relations is to be branded as an accomplice in the destruction of the Amazon.

Western intellectuals freak over ‘Frankenstein’ China

July 17, 2019

by Pepe Escobar : Posted with permission

Western intellectuals freak over ‘Frankenstein’ China

Western economists and intellectuals obsessed with demonization of China are never shy of shortcuts glaringly exposing their ignorance.

The latest outburst posits that “we” – as in Western intellectuals – “are the modern version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” who electro-shocked a dead body (China) into a resurrected “murderous monster.”

So, welcome to the Sino-Frankenstein school of international relations. What next? A black and white remake with Xi Jinping playing the monster? Anyway, “we” – as in mankind’s best hope – should “avoid carrying on in the role of Frankenstein.”

The author is an economics professor emeritus at Harvard. He cannot even identify who’s to blame for Frankenstein – the West or the Chinese. That says much about Harvard’s academic standards.

Now, compare this with what was being discussed at a trade war symposium at Renmin University in Beijing this past Saturday.

Chinese intellectuals were trying to frame the current geopolitical dislocation provoked by the Trump administration’s trade war – without naming it for what it is: a Frankenstein gambit.

Li Xiangyang, director of the National Institute of International Strategy, a think tank linked to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, stressed that an “economic decoupling” of the US from China is “completely possible,” considering that “the ultimate [US] target is to contain China’s rise … This is a life-or-death game” for the United States.

Decoupling

Assuming the decoupling would take place, that could be easily perceived as “strategic blackmail” imposed by the Trump administration. Yet what the Trump administration wants is not exactly what the US establishment wants – as shown by an open letter to Trump signed by scores of academics, foreign policy experts and business leaders who are worried that “decoupling” China from the global economy – as if Washington could actually pull off such an impossibility – would generate massive blowback.

What may actually happen in terms of a US-China “decoupling” is what Beijing is already, actively working on: extending trade partnerships with the EU and across the Global South.

And that will lead, according to Li, to the Chinese leadership offering deeper and wider market access to its partners. This will soon be the case with the EU, as discussed in Brussels in the spring.

Sun Jie, a researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that deepening partnerships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will be essential in case a decoupling is in the cards.

For his part Liu Qing, an economics professor at Renmin University, stressed the need for top international relations management, dealing with everyone from Europe to the Global South, to prevent their companies from replacing Chinese companies in selected global supply chains.

And Wang Xiaosong, an economics professor at Renmin University, emphasized that a concerted Chinese strategic approach in dealing with Washington is absolutely paramount.

All about Belt and Road

A few optimists among Western intellectuals would rather characterize what is going on as a vibrant debate between proponents of “restraint” and “offshore balancing” and proponents of “liberal hegemony”. In fact, it’s actually a firefight.

Among the Western intellectuals singled out by the puzzled Frankenstein guy, it is virtually impossible to find another voice of reason to match Martin Jacques, now a senior fellow at Cambridge University. When China Rules the World, his hefty tome published 10 years ago, still leaps out of an editorial wasteland of almost uniformly dull publications by so-called Western “experts” on China.

Jacques has understood that now it’s all about the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative: “BRI has the potential to offer another kind of world, another set of values, another set of imperatives, another way of organizing, another set of institutions, another set of relationships.”

Belt and Road, adds Jacques, “offers an alternative to the existing international order. The present international order was designed by and still essentially privileges the rich world, which represents only 15% of the world’s population. BRI, on the other hand, is addressing at least two-thirds of the world’s population. This is extraordinarily important for this moment in history.”

In fact, we are already entering a Belt and Road 2.0 scenario – defined by Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi as a “high-quality” shift from “big freehand” to “fine brushwork.”

At the Belt and Road Forum this past spring in Beijing, 131 nations were represented, engaged in linked projects. Belt and Road is partnering with 29 international organizations from the World Bank to APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Apart from the fact that Belt and Road is now configured as a vast, unique, Eurasia-wide infrastructure and trade development project extending all the way to Africa and Latin America, Beijing is now emphasizing that it’s also a portmanteau brand encompassing bilateral trade relations, South-South cooperation and UN-endorsed sustainable development goals.

China’s trade with Belt and Road-linked nations reached $617.5 billion in the first half of 2019 – up 9.7% year-on-year and outpacing the growth rate of China’s total trade.

Chinese scholar Wang Jisi was right from the start when he singled out Belt and Road as a “strategic necessity” to counter Barack Obama’s now-defunct “pivot to Asia”.

So now it’s time for Western intellectuals to engage on a freak-out: as it stands, Belt and Road is the new Frankenstein.

Memo to Trump: Trade Bolton for Tulsi

 

 • JUNE 28, 2019

“For too long our leaders have failed us, taking us into one regime change war after the next, leading us into a new Cold War and arms race, costing us trillions of our hard-earned tax payer dollars and countless lives. This insanity must end.”Donald Trump, circa 2016?Nope. That denunciation of John Bolton interventionism came from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii during Wednesday night’s Democratic debate. At 38, she was the youngest candidate on stage.
Gabbard proceeded to rip both the “president and his chickenhawk cabinet (who) have led us to the brink of war with Iran.”In a fiery exchange, Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio countered that America cannot disengage from Afghanistan: “When we weren’t in there they started flying planes into our buildings.”“The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11,” Gabbard replied, “Al-Qaida attacked us on 9/11. That’s why I and so many other people joined the military, to go after al-Qaida, not the Taliban.”When Ryan insisted we must stay engaged, Gabbard shot back:“Is that what you will tell the parents of those two soldiers who were just killed in Afghanistan? ‘Well, we just have to be engaged.’ As a solider, I will tell you, that answer is unacceptable. … We are no better off in Afghanistan that we were when this war began.”
By debate’s end, Gabbard was the runaway winner in both the Drudge Report and Washington Examiner polls and was far in front among all the Democratic candidates whose names were being searched on Google.Though given less than seven minutes of speaking time in a two-hour debate, she could not have used that time more effectively. And her performance may shake up the Democratic race.
If she can rise a few points above her 1-2% in the polls, she could be assured a spot in the second round of debates.If she is, moderators will now go to her with questions of foreign policy issues that would not have been raised without her presence, and these questions will expose the hidden divisions in the Democratic Party. Leading Democratic candidates could be asked to declare what U.S. policy should be — not only toward Afghanistan but Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jared Kushner’s “Deal of the Century,” and Trump’s seeming rejection of the two-state solution.
If she makes it into the second round, Gabbard could become the catalyst for the kind of globalist vs. nationalist debate that broke out between Trump and Bush Republicans in 2016, a debate that contributed to Trump’s victory at the Cleveland convention and in November.The problem Gabbard presents for Democrats is that, as was shown in the joust with Ryan, she takes positions that split her party, while her rivals prefer to talk about what unites the party, like the terribleness of Trump, free college tuition and soaking the rich.Given more airtime, she will present problems for the GOP as well.

For the foreign policy Tulsi Gabbard is calling for is not far off from the foreign policy Donald Trump promised in 2016 but has since failed to deliver.

We still have 2,000 troops in Syria, 5,000 in Iraq, 14,000 in Afghanistan. We just moved an aircraft carrier task force, B-52s and 1,000 troops to the Persian Gulf to confront Iran. We are about to impose sanctions on the Iranian foreign minister with whom we would need to negotiate to avoid a war.Jared Kushner is talking up a U.S.-led consortium to raise $50 billion for the Palestinians in return for their forfeiture of sovereignty and an end to their dream of a nation-state on the West Bank and Gaza with Jerusalem as its capital.

John Bolton is talking of regime change in Caracas and confronting the “troika of tyranny” in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Rather than engaging Russia as Trump promised, we have been sanctioning Russia, arming Ukraine, sending warships into the Black Sea, beefing up NATO in the Baltic and trashing arms control treaties Ronald Reagan and other presidents negotiated in the Cold War U.S. policy has managed to push our great adversaries, Russia and China, together as they have not been since the first Stalin-Mao decade of the Cold War.
This June, Vladimir Putin traveled to Beijing where he and Xi Jinping met in the Great Hall of the People to warn that in this time of “growing global instability and uncertainty,” Russia and China will “deepen their consultations on strategic stability issues.”Xi presented Putin with China’s new Friendship Medal. Putin responded: “Cooperation with China is one of Russia’s top priorities and it has reached an unprecedented level.”At the end of the Cold War, we were the lone superpower. Who forfeited our preeminence? Who bled us of 7,000 U.S. lives and $6 trillion in endless Middle East wars? Who got us into this Cold War II?Was all this the doing of those damnable isolationists again?Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”Copyright 2019 Creators.com.
%d bloggers like this: