Why Did Venezuela Shut Down 2 TV Stations? (Maybe there was a reason!)

 

Posted on August 29, 2017

With Trump’s recent hint at possible military action against Venezuela, media attacks against the South American country and its Bolivarian government have ramped up exponentially over the past few days.

An article published Monday in the Daily Beast is perhaps illustrative. The piece, by Antonio Mora, accuses the Maduro government of torture, rape, drug trafficking, forced starvation, and other crimes–though no mention of disconnecting babies from incubators.

“Few doubt the Maduro regime is heavily involved in drug trafficking, supporting terrorism, and looting the country’s economy,” Mora writes.

I guess I’m one of the “few.” I do doubt these things. Unlike certain other countries, Venezuela, at least to my knowledge, has not provided assistance to ISIS or served as Al-Nusra’s air force, and if there are any Venezuelans selling drugs in my neighborhood, I haven’t yet made their acquaintance.

“The international community must treat the regime as an active criminal enterprise, using criminal investigations to pierce the veil of banking secrecy in places such as Andorra, Switzerland, and the Cayman Islands in order to access the ill-gotten gains hidden there by Venezuelans made wealthy by their corrupt dealings,” Moro goes on. Apparently the US Federal Reserve and the crime syndicates on Wall Street are small potatoes compared to these créme de la créme Caracas plunderers.

“The violent repression, oppression, and human rights abuses by the Venezuelan government have become so commonplace and the Venezuelan people have become so despondent, little is seen as shocking anymore,” says our pundit before adding that “millions of Venezuelans are clamoring for the international community to take action and save the country from an authoritarian regime that has turned totalitarian since protests erupted against a power grab in March.”

Sounds very much like a call for war. Of course, if the Maduro government were every bit as evil as the Daily Beast claims,  the US regime-change harlequins wouldn’t be trying near this hard (or even at all) to overthrow it.

Naturally, like all “dictators,” Maduro makes minced meat out of the free press–pundit Moro informs us that “the regime has taken dozens of television and radio stations off the air,” though the details of this he leaves a bit sketchy.

Fortunately, however, we have an article published by VenezuelaAnalysis.com that offers some insight into why at least two of these media outlets, both cable TV channels, were closed–and yes, there was indeed a legitimate reason for shutting them down: according to writer Ryan Mallett-Outtrim, both channels were found to have advocated the murder of President Nicholas Maduro.

One wonders if the Daily Beast simply didn’t find that detail relevant or newsworthy enough to mention. ]

***

Venezuela Pulls 2 Channels Off Air Over ‘Resign or Die’ Comments

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim | Venezuela Analysis

Puebla, Mexico, August 25, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan regulators ordered Thursday two cable networks be taken off air, after they were accused of promoting violence.

The country’s national telecommunications regulator CONATEL said Colombian broadcasters RCN and Caracol Television would be taken off air for “openly calling for [the] assassination [of the president].”

“The measure is within the bounds of the law, given that those stations over several months attacked Venezuela and [its] institutions,” CONATEL said in a statement, quoting former head regulator Andres Mendez.

The move was in response to comments by former Mexican president Vicente Fox aired by RCN and Caracol. Addressing Maduro, Fox warned “this dictator will leave through resignation, or with his feet in front of him, in a box”.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox speaks during an RCN broadcast. The subtitle at the bottom of the screen reads, “Dictator Maduro, Reisgn or Die.”

During RCN’s broadcast, the lower third beneath Fox simply read, “Dictator Maduro, resign or die.”

Fox’s comments were quickly condemned by Maduro ally and Bolivian President Evo Morales.

“If anything happens to our brother President Maduro, it will be Mexican ex-president Vicente Fox’s responsibility,” he said.

Fox made his comment during the “Thinking the 21st Century” conference in Baranquilla, Colombia. Last month, the ex-president was declared persona non grata in Venezuela after he participated as an observer in an unofficial opposition plebiscite asking citizens if they would support a “zero hour” campaign of protests aimed at overthrowing the government.

Neither RCN or Caracol appeared available in Venezuela at the time of writing, and at least one major cable provider has confirmed cutting one of the signals.

“We inform you that the 772 Caracol International channel is no longer available for Venezuela because we are complying with an order from … CONATEL,” cable provider DirecTV tweeted.

Some viewers have reported they can still access RCN through DirecTV, but not through most other major providers.

Venezuela’s opposition had condemned CONATEL’s decision as censorship.

“One more channel off the airwaves! Has that made crime go down? Is inflation any lower? Is there more food? More medicine? Has any problem been solved?” opposition leader Henrique Capriles stated.

The shutdowns are the second major regulatory action taken against broadcasters accused of promoting unrest in Venezuela. Earlier this year, CONATEL pulled CNN’s Spanish language channel, accusing the broadcaster of seeking to “undermine the image of the national executive branch”.

The decision came in the wake of CNN’s publication of an investigation that alleged to have uncovered evidence Venezuelan diplomatic officials in Iraq had sold Venezuelan passports to non-Venezuelans, including Iraqi and Syrian nationals. Venezuela’s government largely dismissed the report as US propaganda.

In 2014, another major Colombian broadcaster, RTN24, was also wiped from Venezuelan airwaves after CONATEL alleged it had “promoted violence”. Another major case also occurred in 2007, when the Caracas-based RCTV lost its broadcast concession, after regulators determined the station had played a role in a 2002 coup that temporarily overthrew the Chavez government.

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Venezuela – Confronting the Neoliberal Propaganda Media Machine

by Peter Koenig

June 10, 2017

On 8 of JunVenezuela – Confronting the Neoliberal Propaganda Media Machinee, I had the privilege to attend a press conference hosted by the Venezuelan Ambassador in Bern, Switzerland. The purpose of the press conference was to clarify the current highly misrepresented situation in Venezuela, as well as explaining the process of electing a new National Constitutional Assembly (Asamblea Nacional Constituyente – ANC) on July 30, 2017.

In his hour-long presentation, the Ambassador introduced the issues at stake by explaining that Venezuela today has the largest known oil reserves in the world and the fourth largest deposits of gas; that the US is importing 60% of its lush energy use (a distant first of the globe’s per capita energy users), mostly from the Middle East, where it is subject to long and costly transport (40-45 days), and to many risk factors, including the Gulf of Hormuz, controlled by Iran, where today about one third of all the world’s petrol must pass through.

By contrast, shipments of petroleum from Venezuela across the Caribbean to the refineries in Texas takes only 4-5 days.

This is the main reason why Venezuela is in the White House’s crosshairs, plus, of course, the fact that for Washington it is totally intolerable to have a sovereign socialist Republic in its ‘backyard’ – and so close, the same syndrome applies also for Cuba, a genuinely successful socialist nation, having survived almost sixty years of atrocious and criminal American strangulation. There is no tolerance for sovereign independent countries that do not bend to the dictate of the United States and her behind the scene handlers.

The Ambassador then went on explaining the process of the upcoming election of the National Constitutional Assembly (ANC). He described the process of direct democracy, where Venezuelans elect their delegates by region and by sector, and where of course, the opposition was also supposed to participate, although the opposition’s leadership has already declared they would boycott the process.

The elected new ANC would then be called to amend the Constitution of 1999, to adapt it to today’s circumstances. The current Constitution was approved in a similar democratic process by the people and sanctioned by the ANC one year after President Hugo Chavez Frias became President in 1998. The 1999 Constitution is still valid and adhered to until this day.

The July election will choose 545 members to the National Assembly, of which two thirds (364) would be elected on a regional or territorial basis, and one third (181) by sectors of professions or activities, i.e. students, farmers, unions of different labor forces, employees, business owners – and so on. This cross-section of people’s representation is the most solid basis for democracy.

The Ambassador assured the journalists that there will be a very high peoples’ participation in the elections, as was the case for the 19 democratic elections that took place since1998, when Comandante Chavez became President.

This election should be an opportunity for the opposition to gather as many Assembly seats as possible, and then help shape the new Constitution in a fully democratic process. Not by street violence.

The fact that the opposition is planning to boycott the election shows clearly, they are not interested in democracy. They have one goal only, to oust President Maduro and take power, privatize state assets, especially hydrocarbons (petroleum and gas) to hand them to international mainly US corporations to be exploited at no benefits for the Venezuelan people.

This was precisely the case before President Chavez took the reins of the country. Foreign corporations, almost all North Americans, left not a dollar in tax revenues in Venezuela.

Venezuela today is arguably the only true democracy in the western world, as said on numerous occasions by Professor Noam Chomsky, MIT.

——-

To counter the neoliberal mainstream media’s (MSM) demonization of the Bolivarian Revolution and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and her President Nicolas Maduro, the Ambassador showed various videos demonstrating that the instigators of violence were clearly the armed opposition. They are constituted and led by a rich elite and supported ideologically and financially from outside.

Among different foreign sources of support and funding, most of them American, is the infamous National Endowment for Democracy – NED, a so called “fake” NGO “think-tank” (sic), receiving from the US State Department hundreds of millions of dollars per year to ’spread democracy’ American style around the globe, i.e. training local rebel groups abroad and within the targeted country to provoke instability through unrest and violence; distribute anti-government propaganda, infiltrate the media, universities and so on. They are the same who were responsible for the so-called Arab Spring and the Color Revolutions in former Soviet Republics, including Ukraine.

The facts explained and demonstrated by the Ambassador showed clearly who was responsible for most of the 67 deaths and more than 1,200 injured within the last couple of months.

This is all supported by unmistakable videos, showing government supporters, who are despite what the western media are saying, the vast majority – between 70% and 80%, demonstrating peacefully and unarmed.

However, western media twists and manipulates the truth to become anti-Venezuela propaganda, including video clips presented out of context, or outright falsified, blame the aggression on the government supporters, accusing authorities and police of oppressing civil liberties, of dictatorship, of killing its own people.

The western MSM do not show the weaponized right-wing opposition attacking police with explosives, putting police cars on fire and throwing Molotov cocktails and more sophisticated explosives at police and authorities.

This point of opposition violence, blackmail and more, is clearly demonstrated by a recent US journalist covering the riots for the pan-Latin American TeleSur TV. Ms. Abby Martin, the host of the Empire Files, an investigative program, told RT (Russia Today) that she received numerous death threats from opposition fighters during her work on the ground in Venezuela. She says protesters threatened to lynch and burn her alive if she tried to contradict their narrative (https://www.rt.com/news/391338-us-journalist-venezuela-threats/). This is to be taken seriously, because several journalists have already been murdered by the opposition.

——

The Ambassador made two very important points that the west should listen to. He said, that despite the violent social upheavals, the government is respecting the principles of democracy and has not declared a State of Emergency or Martial Law, nor curtailed private-owned foreign media slandering Venezuela with lies.

This contrasts with other countries, like France which for the past two years has been under a declared State of Emergency, just a small step below Martial Law, and is about to put this state of permanent militarization into her Constitution; or take Argentina which is suppressing foreign media like TeleSur (and were at the point of shutting down also RT), because they are telling Argentinians the inconvenient truth.

——

When the Ambassador opened the floor for questions and comments, most of the journalists present were polite, seeking clarifications of the election process. But there were two sore thumbs sticking out, the representatives of the two largest and most neoliberal Swiss newspapers, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) and the Tagesanzeiger.

They came with a specific agenda. It seems they didn’t listen to anything the Ambassador said. They simply hurled their list of insults, accusations and offensive negative lie-propaganda at the Ambassador. Both of them are what one would assume in Switzerland, educated people. They must know the truth. If they don’t say the truth, they are most likely bought agents of the Anglo-Zionist network that controls 90% of the news throughout the western world. After they accomplished their mission of insulting the Ambassador, they left the conference.

Isn’t it a journalist’s foremost obligation to adhere to a code of ethics? – That’s what they were taught at universities, to seek the truth and portray the truth as objectively as possible.

And what about Switzerland? A country that boasts about its neutrality, appears to have completely abandoned her noble principles and moved to become Europe’s epicenter of neoliberalism. No wonder, such alternative international media like TeleSur and RT are not publicly offered to households by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG), the monopoly holder (90%) of Swiss television and radio providers.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 4th Media (China), TeleSUR, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

 

Bolivia’s Evo Says US Wants to Overthrow Venezuela to Steal Oil

Source

“The plan of the empire is to overthrow the constitutional president elected by Venezuela … as a warning to anti-imperialist governments,” Morales said.

Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday slammed ongoing right-wing opposition protests in Venezuela, claiming they serve the interests of multinational elites looking to privatize the country’s oil resources.

RELATED:
Venezuelan Opposition Announces Plans for More Street Actions

Morales also said foreign and domestic attacks against President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution are intended to send a threatening message to anti-imperialist governments around the world.

“The plan of the empire is to overthrow the constitutional president elected by Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, as a warning to anti-imperialist governments,” Morales said.

“Any internal conspiracy or external intervention is intended to steal Venezuelan oil.”

For weeks, opposition demonstrators have held violent protests in several cities across the country, calling for regime change and international intervention. The protesters, backed by the U.S. government and the Organization of American States, OAS, have also supported calls for privatizing Venezuela’s publicly-run Petroleum of Venezuela, PDVSA, oil and natural gas company.

At least nine people have died from the protests.

Despite these deaths, opposition leaders like Henrique Capriles and Maria Corina Machado have called on protesters to continue violent demonstrations in order to force Maduro’s ouster.

RELATED:
Opposition Link in a Number of Venezuela Protest Deaths, Minister Says

Venezuelan authorities have called on the OAS to condemn the violence perpetrated by the opposition, but to no avail.

Venezuela’s Minister of Interior said recent attacks against civilians and police were planned by the opposition after three people were killed on Wednesday.

Among those killed during protest violence Wednesday was Niumar Jose Sanclemente Barrios, a 28-year-old sergeant with the National Guard, who was apparently killed by sniper fire during riots in the Caracas suburb of San Antonio de las Altas.

“We know there are groups interested in selling the world a country in chaos,” Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami said on Wednesday after the murder.

“Henrique Capriles has said in an irresponsible manner that the government is guilty of these deaths and therefore will have to prove these serious allegations in court.”

Bolivia UN Envoy on Syria Attack: ‘History Teaches Us’ US Lies to Justify Wars:

Bolivia UN Envoy on Syria Attack: ‘History Teaches Us’ US Lies to Justify Wars:

“Now the U.S. believe that they are investigators, they are attorneys, judges and they are the executioners,” the Bolivian ambassador said.
"I believe it

“I believe it’s vital for us to remember what history teaches us,” the Bolivian envoy told the U.N. Security Council. | Photo: United Nations

Lambasting the United States’ aggression against Syria, Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations Sacha Llorenti compared the basis for the unilateral move to former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s infamous 2003 presentation to the body, when fraudulent evidence of an alleged Iraqi weapons program was presented to justify the U.S. war on Iraq.

RELATED:
US Attacks on Syria Constitutes International Armed Conflict: Red Cross

Holding up an enlarged photo of Colin Powell’s “weapons of mass destruction” speech, Llorenti made an impassioned plea to hold the U.S. to account for Thursday’s unprovoked attack on Syria, noting the U.S. history of imperialist interventions in other nations, including Latin America.

“Now the United States believe that they are investigators, they are attorneys, judges and they are the executioners. That’s not what international law is about.”

The Andean nation currently holds a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

“I believe it’s vital for us to remember what history teaches us and on this occasion (in 2003), the United States did affirm, they affirmed that they had all the proof necessary to show that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction but they were never found … never were they found,” the Bolivian envoy told the emergency Security Council meeting on Friday.

On Feb. 5, 2003, Secretary Powell presented fabricated “proof” that Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction, including deadly nerve agents. The presentation has since been widely discredited, as no evidence of a weapons program was ever discovered. Powell himself expressing regret over what he termed “a great intelligence failure” — a failure that originated in his own exaggerated and doctored interpretation of intercepted Iraqi communications.

The U.S. launched dozens of tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat air base in Homs Thursday night. The Russian Defense Ministry claims that only 23 of 59 missiles reached the intended target, with the remainder landing in nearby villages. Syrian media sources are reporting that nine civilians died in the attack, four children.

RELATED:
‘Unlawful and Unconstitutional’: US Pols React to Syria Attack

The attack was a response to an alleged Sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. The incident claimed 89 lives, including 33 children and 18 women, according to local opposition authorities.

Syrian government representatives have denied that it would use such weapons, stating that the alleged proof of a Syrian military role is, in fact, propaganda fabricated by opposition groups like Jabhat al-Nusra. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that Putin considers the strikes to be “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law, and under a false pretext.”

Arguing that the U.S. acted unilaterally and in flagrant violation of the U.N. charter, the Bolivian envoy called for a closed-door meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

“The United States was preparing once again and carried out a unilateral attack,” Llorenti said. “The missile attack, of course, is a unilateral action. They represent a serious threat to international peace and security.”

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley denied the request. The U.S. holds the presidency of the Security Council this month

The Struggle of the Venezuelan People against U.S. Interventionism

Gathering of Canadian Intellectuals in Support of the Bolivarian Revolution

Global Research, January 29, 2017
The Gathering of Canadian Intellectuals
Opposition demonstrators take part in a women's rally against Nicolas Maduro's government in San Cristobal

Following the spirit of solidarity expressed in the message released by the participants of the XII Meeting of the “Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements In Defense of Humanity,” held in Caracas, on April 11, 2016, and as testimony to the support on behalf of all the progressive forces of the world toward the Bolivarian Government and the Venezuelan people, in their struggle against the constant attacks carried out by the local and imperial oligarchy, we, the undersigned Canadian intellectuals, reiterate our support for the sovereignty and self-determination of the Venezuelan people.

We emphasize that the oligarchic/imperial aggressions reflected in the “economic war” and the “media war” directed against Venezuela are not isolated cases. Rather, they form part of an overall global strategy to silence the dissonant voice of the Bolivarian government and Venezuelan people for their opposing the structures implanted by global capitalism’s centres of power.

In this sense, we express our concern regarding the current mechanisms of manipulation, propaganda and intervention used to destabilize Venezuela’s democratic political institutions and social structures with the objective of restoring the previous order of oligarchic elitism as well as re-establishing the nefarious neoliberal policies that seek to dismantle the social gains achieved by the Bolivarian popular transformation process launched in 1998.

Likewise, we denounce that these incessant attacks have increased with the disinformation campaign carried out by media outlets, which have focused on the shortage of food and medicine without mentioning the economic war waged by the domestic oligarchy and other sectors of the local and imperial fifth column, to the detriment of the entire population, particularly the poorest sectors of Venezuelan society.

We also raise our voice against allegations of human rights violations in Venezuela, in particular the unfounded claims of a supposed existence of “political prisoners” in Venezuela. In fact, they are politician-prisoners who have violated Venezuelan penal laws by inciting violence that has caused the death of innocent Venezuelans. Nobody has mentioned this fact at the international level, as these opposition politicians echo that irrationality and have caused numerous deaths, hundreds of wounded and considerable material damage.

We express our admiration because, despite these attacks, aggressions and accusations, we note that Venezuela maintains its Bolivarian principles and enjoys a solid international prestige. In this regard, we congratulate the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for the successful organization of the XVII Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, held in Margarita Island, on September 17 and 18, 2016. This Summit took place under the theme of “Peace, Sovereignty and Solidarity Towards Development.” On this occasion member states reaffirmed their commitment to respect the sovereignty, national unity, and territorial integrity of states, their sovereign equality, non-interference in the internal affairs of states, the peaceful settlement of disputes, the defense of the right of self-determination of the peoples, to refrain from using threats or force, to reject illegal policies in regards to changes to constitutional governments, and to condemn the promulgation and application of unilateral coercive measures.

Furthermore, we wish the best of success to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in its exercising of the Presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement for the 2016–2019 period, and, given its leadership, strengths and commitment to the less fortunate, we believe its tenure will reinforce and revitalize the aspirations of humankind to build a world of peace, justice, solidarity and shared development.

We recall that, despite the permanent aggression during 17 years of government management centred on the human being, coupled with a holistic view of human rights, the Bolivarian Revolution, inspired by the ideals of the Liberator Simón Bolivar and led by Commander Hugo Chávez Frías, has achieved one of the fairest distributions of wealth in Latin America, obtaining universal recognition of the progress made in education, food and income distribution, and community and popular development.

We emphasize that this policy of social assistance has been invigorated under the mandate of President Nicolás Maduro Moros, overcoming the adverse effects of a global crisis and the induced collapse of oil prices, given that the sharp drop of this commodity has been a consequence of a “financial war” that promotes stock market speculation as well as the overproduction of fossil fuels generated by, among other factors, the use of hydraulic fracking, a process that has aggravated the ecological fragility of the planet.

We express our firmest condemnation of reactionary actions taken to censor and silence the voice and critical opinion of TeleSUR through measures intended to weaken its image as a communication tool available to the entire world. For this reason, we deplore the Republic of Argentina’s untimely withdrawal from this communication platform, a departure that undermines political and media pluralism as well as the tangible progress of Latin American integration.

In order to counter these actions of censorship and misinformation regarding Venezuela, we express our willingness to contribute toward popularizing the broadcast of TeleSUR’s programming in Canada, employing the tools of modern media technologies and social networks, which have a high penetration rate in various sectors of Canadian public opinion.

In light of the long and dark interventionist record of the U.S. in Latin America, we vehemently declare our rejection of interventionist acts by the U.S. government against the democratic and institutional stability of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, imperial actions that are part of a new offensive inserted into a “Continental Condor Plan” in order to regain its lost influence in the region. These actions have sponsored a national and international vilification media campaign and a dehumanizing domestic economic war, without let-up, with the aim of provoking the suppression of the Bolivarian process.

Venezuela is not a security threat to any country but an example of hope, though it does represent a threat to the prevailing imperial order. In this regard, we demand the immediate repeal of the dismal and infamous U.S. government Executive Order, in which Venezuela is considered a threat to its national security and foreign policy; this Executive Order has been rejected by an overwhelming majority of countries around the world.

We reject any attempt to undermine the sovereignty of Venezuela through direct imperial actions, or by using hemispheric  or international organizations to promote a change of government by illegal means that restore the old oligarchic structures and dismantle the social gains achieved through revolutionary governmental social programs.

Therefore, we express our commitment to defend Venezuela’s institutions in the face of the de-legitimization campaign orchestrated in the current process of activating a constitutional option for convening a recall referendum, as definitely these operations of discrediting erode the fundamental precepts contained in the Bolivarian Constitution of 1999.

Given the recent destabilizing experiences against progressive governments in Latin America, evidenced in “soft” or “constitutional” coups, we reaffirm our solidarity with the Bolivarian government and people, and announce that we will remain alert to report any aggression against the Venezuelan constitutional order; therefore, we continue to support the Bolivarian process and the empowerment and deepening of popular grass-roots education and participation as a legacy of Commander Hugo Chávez Frías and as a guarantee of the continuity of the struggle for social justice and equality.

Finally, we reaffirm our full support towards Venezuela, whose government has been legitimately elected by the majority of the Venezuelan people, and, from this perspective, we call on the Canadian government to distance itself from interventionist U.S. policies that seek to dismantle progressive governments in Latin America and the Caribbean, framed in the American global strategy of promoting “wars by region” worldwide.

Ottawa – October 7, 2016

Michel Chossudovsky

James Cockcroft

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Kathy Hogarth

Maricarmen Guevara

Víctor Ramos

Stuart Ryan

Jorge Sorger

Santiago Escobar

Jean-Claude Balu

Luis Gómez

Félix Grande

Claude Morin

Arnold August

Obama’s Legacy In Latin America: Militarization, Right-Wing Coups, & The Rule Of Wall St.

Obama’s Legacy In Latin America: Militarization, Right-Wing Coups, & The Rule Of Wall St.

It seems we have arrived at the witching hour of Obama’s presidency, when corporate media ghouls continue to breathe out the infectious contagion of liberal lies and half-truths about the Great Dissimulator and his accomplishments.

Whether it’s The New York Times’ opinion pages hailing Dr. Changelove as “The Most Successful Democrat Since F.D.R.,” or the noxious nostalgia for the present injected into the public discourse like so many palliatives into the bloodstream of a terminal patient, the true history of Obama’s presidency is being veiled behind a mask of delusion.

Maybe it’s the Orange-Headed Hydra assuming power in Washington that gives the outgoing administration that air of dignity and grace. Maybe it’s the desire to craft a narrative in which “Hope” and “Change” were something other than hollow campaign slogans deftly employed by a charlatan of the first order. Or maybe it’s just business as usual in the heart of the U.S. Empire. No matter the reason, Barack Obama’s media-induced sainthood is now all but complete in liberal America’s collective psyche.

But the United States is not the only “America.”

Indeed, crossing the southern border and entering into that mysterious place called “Latin America,” one encounters a very different Obama legacy, one that is defined by the same policies that Yankee imperialists have employed for more than a century: destabilization, militarization, and exploitation.

Yes We Can!…continue to pursue a neocolonial agenda in Central and South America.

 

Obama’s love affair with the right wing

An artist who prefers to remain anonymous for security reasons pastes up one of his "interventions" that shows President Barack Obama at a podium surrounded by Honduran politician in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. (AP/Eduardo Verdugo)

An artist who prefers to remain anonymous for security reasons pastes up one of his “interventions” that shows President Barack Obama at a podium surrounded by Honduran politician in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. (AP/Eduardo Verdugo)

A mural in Lithuania depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Donald Trump embracing in a passionate kiss has gone viral. The meaning of the image is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the skull, but it is no less perspicacious for its lack of subtlety. And while Russia has indeed tacitly, and rather shamefully, supported far-right candidates and causes for its own coldly pragmatic political reasons — Brexit, Trump, Le Pen, etc. — the truth is that Obama’s administration has also backed right-wing reactionaries and extremists where it has suited its interests.

Throughout Latin America, President Obama has been a driving force behind the resurgence of right-wing forces that have rolled back the gains of socialist and social democratic governments, targeted indigenous and African diaspora communities, assassinated activists, and toppled governments where they could.

So, yes, let’s talk about “legacy.”

In Honduras, Obama’s legacy was cemented from the very beginning of his presidency. In the summer of 2009, Manuel Zelaya, the country’s democratically-elected left-wing president, was removed from power in a midnight coup orchestrated by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her cronies in Washington and in Tegucigalpa. And while Obama’s tepid condemnation of the coup elicited cheers from many liberals in its contrast to the Bush administration’s loving embrace of the coup against Hugo Chávez in Venezuela in 2002, the reality is that, as with all things Obama, it was mere words. The support of the president and his henchwoman was the driving force behind the coup.

Clinton is never one to shy away from an opportunity to boast about the amount of blood on her hands. In a passage which removed from later editions of her book “Hard Choices,” she rather brazenly admitted:

“In the subsequent days [after the coup] I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa in Mexico. We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot and give the Honduran people a chance to choose their own future.”

Obama’s top diplomat was instrumental in installing a right-wing government backed by the wealthiest business interests in Honduras and powerful players in Washington. As Clinton bagman Lanny Davis openly stated in an interview just weeks after the coup:

“My clients represent the CEAL, the [Honduras Chapter of] Business Council of Latin America. … I do not represent the government and do not talk to [interim] President [Roberto] Micheletti. My main contacts are [billionaires] Camilo Atala and Jorge Canahuati. I’m proud to represent businessmen who are committed to the rule of law.”

Indeed, Davis quite candidly exposed himself as an agent of powerful oligarch financiers and landowners who, until the election of Zelaya, had always maintained firm control of the reins of government in Honduras. These are precisely the people, backed by the Obama administration, wielding power in Honduras today through a violent right-wing government that assassinates indigenous leaders and human rights defenders such as Berta Cáceres, Margarita Murillo, and many others for the sake of investors who seek to develop indigenous, Afro-Caribbean, and peasant lands for massive profits.

Student protesters clash with police over the president's decision to run for re-election in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, a year after a controversial Supreme Court ruling voided a longtime constitutional ban on presidential re-election, Thursday Nov. 10, 2016. (AP/Fernando Antonio)

Student protesters clash with police over the president’s decision to run for re-election in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, a year after a controversial Supreme Court ruling voided a longtime constitutional ban on presidential re-election, Thursday Nov. 10, 2016. (AP/Fernando Antonio)

Beyond the killings of activists and the political backing of a right-wing coup government, Obama’s legacy in Honduras is also one of militarization. In 2014, The North American Congress on Latin America reported:

“The steady increase of U.S. assistance to [Honduran] national armed forces has, if anything, been an indicator of tacit U.S. support. But the U.S. role in militarization of national police forces has been direct as well. In 2011 and 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST)—which had previously carried out military-style missions in Afghanistan—set up camp in Honduras to train a local counternarcotics police unit and help plan and execute drug interdiction operations …

Supported by U.S. helicopters mounted with high caliber machine guns, these operations were nearly indistinguishable from military missions, and locals routinely referred to the DEA and Honduran police agents as “soldados” (soldiers).”

The NACLA report further noted that the Obama administration deployed at least five “commando style squads” of FAST teams across Central America. It added that, in Honduras, U.S. and Colombian special forces units have been training, equipping, and deploying with a new “elite” police unit called the Intelligence Troop and Special Security Group, or TIGRES (Spanish for “tigers”), which human rights groups argue is military in nature.

Ultimately, the man who rode the crest of a wave of “Hope” and “Change” not only brought more of the same to Honduras, and Latin America generally, he actually accelerated the re-conquest of the region by the forces of the military-industrial complex and finance capital.

 

Obama’s rightward push in South America

Demonstrators march with a sign that says in Portuguese "Get out Temer" and a drawing of Cuba's late President Fidel Castro, as they demand the impeachment of Brazil's President Michel Temer in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP/Andre Penner)

Demonstrators march with a sign that says in Portuguese “Get out Temer” and a drawing of Cuba’s late President Fidel Castro, as they demand the impeachment of Brazil’s President Michel Temer in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP/Andre Penner)

Another example of this confluence between Obama’s right-wing fetish and Wall Street’s boot on the neck of Latin America came last year in Brazil, when Dilma Rousseff’s democratically-elected government was removed from office in what can only be described as a parliamentary coup.

In mid-April of 2016, Reuters published a story exposing Michel Temer, the right-wing vice president at the time and the current president, as preparing the shortlist of his presumptive cabinet months before the Rousseff government had been toppled.

Temer tapped Paulo Leme to serve as either finance minister or head of the Central Bank. Leme is the chairman of Goldman Sachs’s operations in Brazil, making him perhaps the preeminent representative of Wall Street in the country. While his appointment may have been perceived as too brazen, the trend of Wall Street representatives steering the ship of Brazil’s economic and political life is impossible to ignore.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Obama administration, too, has been dominated from the beginning by the same types of financiers — often from the very same companies such as Goldman Sachs — that control the coup government in Brazil. The not-so-invisible hand of finance capital is now tightly coiled around the neck of Brazil. Another feather in Obama’s legacy cap.

Of course, there’s Obama’s graceful tango with the new right-wing government in Argentina led by Wall Street darling Mauricio Macri. While Obama was wining and dining the neoliberal reactionary, Macri was busy loading his new government with Wall Street insiders and representatives of Big Oil and other major industries.

This was the real Obama, the one who will not be paraded before Americans as the revered dear leader already missed before he’s left the stage. Rather, this was the man who, without conscience or compunction, ushered in a wave of right-wing reaction throughout the Western hemisphere.

And he did it with a smile.

 

Obama’s quiet militarization of Latin America

President Barack Obama, left, talks to Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos before the start of their meeting at the Casa De Huespedes during the sixth Summit of the Americas, in Cartagena, Colombia, Sunday April 15, 2012. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama, left, talks to Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos before the start of their meeting at the Casa De Huespedes during the sixth Summit of the Americas, in Cartagena, Colombia, Sunday April 15, 2012. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

One of Obama’s great accomplishments in the service of the military-industrial complex was his below-the-radar militarization of the region. The pervasive myth of Obama as distinctly different from George W. Bush lives on in the diseased minds of liberal sycophants, but the facts tell a different story.

Obama represented continuity with, and an expansion of, the worst policies of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton when it came to Latin America. Plan Colombia, the broad heading for the billions of dollars spent on U.S. military engagement and cooperation in Colombia begun by Clinton and expanded by Bush, was further expanded under Obama.

Just totaling the military, police, and economic aid to Colombia for 2010 to 2015, the United States has given nearly $3 billion to Colombia in the form of “aid” to fight the so-called “War on Drugs,” widely seen as merely a cover for U.S. military power projection in South America. Add to that the fact that during Obama’s tenure, and under former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command William McRaven, special forces troop deployments ballooned to more than 65,000, with many spread throughout Latin America.

In an eerily similar fashion, Obama expanded funding and scope for the Mérida Initiative, a project launched by Bush in 2008 which essentially makes Mexico’s military and law enforcement into a de facto arm of the U.S. military and government. As with Plan Colombia (and AFRICOM), even though Obama did not launch this initiative, he expanded it significantly, providing more than $2.5 billion since 2008.

But if liberals want to soothe their broken hearts with the fact that Obama did not actually launch these programs, they might want to consider the Central American Regional Security Initiative, created by Obama in 2011.

According to a March 2014 report from the Igarapé Institute, an independent security and development think tank based in Brazil, CARSI and Mérida alone received nearly $3 billion (2008-2013). It is an open secret that the massive funding has been channeled primarily into military and paramilitary programs. Though the United States touts these programs as success stories, their expansion has coincided with increased militarization in every country where U.S. funds have been provided.

In El Salvador, the government led by President Mauricio Funes consolidated military control of law enforcement in the interests of its U.S. backers. These changes took place simultaneous to the implementation of CARSI, and should be seen as an outgrowth of U.S. militarization. In Guatemala, the government of Otto Pérez Molina, a former military leader with a record of atrocities and genocide, further militarized the country before being imprisoned for corruption in September of 2015.

Similarly, Honduras has been transformed into the U.S. military’s primary foothold in Central America. U.S. Coordinator of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) and Refoundation Party (LIBRE) Lucy Pagoada explained in a 2015 interview that “[Honduras] has turned into a large military base trained and funded by the U.S. They even have School of the Americas forces there.”

“There have been high levels of violence and torture since the [2009] coup,” Pagoada continued.

 

Good cop, bad cop: Obama’s policies on Cuba and Venezuela

An image of President Barack Obama wearing fake ears and the slogan "Obama go home" on a street wall in Caracas, Venezuela. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro regularly sets social media afire with support, with heavily trending anti-U.S. campaigns such #ObamaYankeeGoHome and #ObamaRepealTheExecutiveOrder, which denounced U.S. sanctions on members of Maduro’s administration. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

An image of President Barack Obama wearing fake ears and the slogan “Obama go home” on a street wall in Caracas, Venezuela. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro regularly sets social media afire with support, with heavily trending anti-U.S. campaigns such #ObamaYankeeGoHome and #ObamaRepealTheExecutiveOrder, which denounced U.S. sanctions on members of Maduro’s administration. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

Of course, no discussion of Obama’s actions in Latin America would be complete without an examination of Washington’s attempts to reassert its influence in the region with the simultaneous thaw in relations with Cuba and the destabilization of Venezuela.

Obama signed an executive order on Jan. 13 declaring both Venezuela and Cuba “national security threats” despite no evidence of any such threat. Isn’t it interesting that the president being lauded as the man who sought to normalize relations with America’s long-standing foe in Cuba still manages to not only classify the country as a threat, but to expand that same status to another geopolitical and strategic enemy in the region?

The Obama administration has attempted to undermine and destabilize Venezuela using as pretexts everything from a border dispute with neighboring Guyana to artificially created scarcity of staple goods and speculation against the currency by elites who control commodity distribution networks in the country, and whose backers reside in Madrid, Miami, and Washington. Julio Escalona, an economist and former Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations, told me in Caracas in 2015: “Our currency is not being devalued by speculation, but by hyper-speculation.”

And, in signature Obama style, Washington has backed the right wing, including many far right fanatics, in an attempt to wrest political control of the country away from the ruling Socialist Party (PSUV) led by President Nicolás Maduro (and in spirit by Hugo Chávez).

Perhaps the best example is the targeted assassination of numerous prominent members of the PSUV, including the 2014 killing of Robert Serra, an up-and-coming Chavista legislator seen by many on the Venezuelan left as the “next Chávez.” Serra was assassinated by individuals connected to Álvaro Uribe, the former president of Colombia and long-standing U.S. proxy.

Similarly, the well-respected journalist and prominent Chavista Ricardo Duran was murdered outside his home in Caracas in January of 2016. Likewise, Fritz St. Louis, international coordinator of the United Socialist Haitian Movement and secretary general of the Haitian Cultural House Bolivariana de Venezuela, was assassinated in March of 2016. In all these killings, the hidden hand of the right wing and its backers in the United States has been an open secret.

And where is the outcry from the liberals who continue to laud Obama? Perhaps now that a Republican is in office they might soon dust off their political consciences to raise their voices against continued U.S. neocolonialism and imperialism in Latin America? Apparently, their interest in human rights and peace is dependent on the color of the tie worn by the man or woman in the Oval Office.

Obama’s legacy in Latin America is, like that of all other U.S. presidents of the last century, one of profit and exploitation, death and destruction. This is surely no secret in Latin America, where millions have raised, and will continue to raise, their voices in opposition to the Yankee Empire.

Unfortunately, the myth of the Nobel Peace Prize winner has become stronger than the reality of lived experience.

In this witching hour, the twilight of Obama’s presidency, let us not be entranced by spells cast by the coven of corporate media warlocks. Let us instead remember Obama’s legacy in Latin America not as “Hope” and “Change,” but as “More of the Same.”

The Uncertain Future for Latin America’s Giants

Darko Lazar

In 2015, Latin America, and specifically Mexico and Brazil, slipped into a recession. According to The World Bank, economic growth slumped to 0.9% – the lowest in 30 years, with the exception of the 2009 economic crisis. This led numerous analysts to conclude that the region’s 2003-2013 ‘Decada Dorada’, or the Golden Decade, was over.

The Uncertain Future for Latin America's Giants

These ‘golden’ years can be attributed to high commodity prices, cheap credit and investment in developing markets, accompanied by a political agenda that steered the region toward China and away from the US and the EU.

Since then, however, investment across the board has shrunk by 7.7%, unemployment is rising, the budget deficit rose to 6.9% of GDP, while the currencies of both Brazil and Mexico weakened against the US dollar by over 30% and 27% respectively.

The demise of hope

Brazil is the world’s 11th largest economy, while Mexico recently fell to 14th place. But according to economists, Mexico is third from last when it comes to the distribution of wealth, with Brazil bringing up the rear in last place.

Efforts by numerous governments have failed to address this issue. To make matters worse, the recent spike in inflation has further reduced the incomes of members of the working class.

Following a relative period of prosperity in the two countries, workers rights – freedom, justice, and equality – are now in danger of disappearing virtually overnight. And yet the vast majority of political parties, especially those in power, have made no attempt to reform their policies.

The dangerous and often incompetent internal strategies, coupled with foreign meddling, have driven the two Latin American giants – both in terms of size and economy – into uncharted territory.

The consequence is despair among millions of people, which is increasing the prospects of instability and unrest.
The Trump effect

The outcome of the US presidential election, which resulted in a victory for Donald Trump, is likely to have a tremendous impact on both Mexico and Brazil.

Trump’s campaign rhetoric promising to build a wall along the US-Mexico border and swiftly deport undocumented workers and illegal residents has understandably caused a great deal of anxiety across Latin America.

Out of the 33.7 million Hispanics of Mexican origin currently residing in the US, 11.4 million are immigrants born in Mexico – of whom the vast majority are undocumented. Meanwhile, there are currently 1.3 million Brazilians living in the US and most of them are also illegal.

Interestingly, it’s not so much the implementation of these policies that threatens to be the biggest burden for Mexico and Brazil, but rather the influence of Trump’s political rivals in those countries, who are now mobilizing their assets to undermine his presidency.

According to leading Mexican newspaper La Jornada, Trump’s victory does not translate into ‘tranquility’, but the continuation of the battle.

Such statements fall directly in line with efforts by allies of the Clinton clan in Canada, who are reportedly laying the groundwork for an influx of Mexican migrants from the US. These developments will then be beamed across the world as an example of how detrimental the Trump presidency can be.

Canada’s CBS News recently reported that in “preparing for a potential surge in Mexican migrants coming to Canada after Donald Trump’s election victory… high-level meetings took place… with officials at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and in other departments”.

The government in Ottawa is simultaneously preparing to lift a visa requirement for Mexicans on December 1, which has been in place since 2009.

These political maneuvers will likely suck in other Latin American states, including Argentina – where an exponent of the Clintons, Mauricio Macri, is already in power – as well as Peru and Colombia.

In 2018, both Mexico and Brazil will be electing new heads of state. The Clintons and their allies are certain to try and manipulate this process in the hope of strengthening their influence and intensifying their efforts against Trump.

The deteriorating economic conditions in the two states are a major asset for the foreign actors. Although those conditions were largely brought about by a fall in global oil prices, political corruption and incompetent governance have played a major role.

But much of the mainstream media is now attributing the years-long economic crisis across Latin America to Trump’s victory in the US presidential race. Such allegations suggest that the battle for the White House is not just ongoing, but is expanding into regional states.

As such, the power struggle in the US is further complicating the situation in Mexico and Brazil, where the Washington elite commands an enormous amount of influence. That same influence was used to distance Brazil from the BRICS grouping, resulting in the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff earlier this year.

Rousseff’s removal, which was described by the governments of Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua as a coup, marked the last phase of Brazil’s development launched under Lula Da Silva at the start of the Golden Decade.

Today’s low oil prices, budget deficit, and Washington’s grand designs for the region have given way to pessimism in both Brazil and Mexico over what the future holds for Latin America’s giants.

Source: Al-Ahed News

19-11-2016 | 07:28

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