Venezuela – Washington’s Latest Defamation – To Bring NATO to South America?

February 17, 2017

by Peter KoenigVenezuela – Washington’s Latest Defamation – To Bring NATO to South America?

The Trump Administration has just accused Venezuela’s newly appointed Vice-President, Tareck El Aissami, of being involved in drug trafficking, thereby dishing out the usual criminal spiel – illegal sanctions against a foreign dignitary with travel bans and asset seizures. This is Washington’s abject behavior at its best, as are so many others around the world of similar nature.

Therefore, let me say upfront: We can protest as much as we want. The Anglo-Zionist empire in Washington and its European vassals do not care one bit. To the contrary, the more hapless protests there are, the more they laugh to themselves – ‘Bingo! We did it again. – Case closed. And sanctions stay. New ones are invented at will, wherever and whenever it pleases the empire. Because nothing happens from the opponents – other than hot air.

Sanctions – economic sanctions, as most of them are, can only stand and ‘succeed’, as long as countries, who oppose Washington’s dictate remain bound into the western, dollar-based, fraudulent monetary scheme. The system is entirely privatized by a small Zionist-led elite. FED, Wall Street, Bank for International Settlement (BIS), are all private institutions, largely controlled by the Rothschild, Rockefeller, Morgan et al clans. They are also supported by the Breton Woods Organizations, IMF and World Bank, conveniently created under the Charter of the UN.

Few progressive economists understand how this debt-based pyramid scam is manipulating the entire western economic system. When in a just world, it should be just the contrary, the economy that shapes, designs and decides the functioning of the monetary system and policy.

Even Russia, with Atlantists still largely commanding the central bank and much of the financial system, isn’t fully detached from the dollar dominion – yet.

‘Renegades’ of the US-globalized Deep State must de-dollarize and migrate towards the eastern SCO-based economy (SCO = Shanghai Cooperation Organization, including Russia, China, most of Central Asia, Pakistan, Iran; – and India for good or for bad, is a contender), where the future is, where huge and honest prospects of future economic development are emerging, especially the Chinese initiated New Silk Road, or OBOR – One Belt-One Road – that foresees an infrastructure, industrial and technological boom, connecting Vladivostok with Lisbon and Shanghai with Hamburg – and everything in between. China’s President Xi Jinping has opened the door for everyone to join – no force, sheer invitation.

This also means breaking loose from the IMF’s and World Bank’s debt tentacles and the rest of the western monetary gangsters. It doesn’t happen overnight, but steps towards regaining sovereignty should be initiated rather sooner than later – to reduce, speak withstand and eliminate sanction imposed damages. For Russia, despite the Atlantists, sanctions were a blessing. They are the best that could have happened to our economy, Mr. Putin said. They pushed us to promote an economy of self-reliance, especially in agriculture and industrial development. In 2015, Russia was the world’s first wheat exporter.

—–

Back to drugs and fighting drug lords. The Plan Colombia which started in 2000 and has since cost about US$ 20 billion, was officially designed precisely to fight the drug mafia’s coca plantations and drug cartels. Yet, since the Plan begun, the surface of coca plantations has more than doubled in Colombia; and output efficiency today is almost three times what it was in 2000.

Washington’s fake accusations and outrageous slandering of Venezuela’s Vice President, Mr. Tareck El Aissami, are totally absurd. They are aiming in a first instance at further bad-mouthing Venezuela among the uneducated MSM-brainwashed international public. It’s ‘false news’ propaganda, attempting to pull Venezuela into the drug ‘war’ playing out between Colombia, Mexico and Peru – all fomented by Washington.

Up to his recent assignment as Vice-President, Mr. El Aissami was Interior Minister, successfully fighting drug mafias, covertly promoted by the DEA and the CIA. Clamping down on the new Vice-President might be a punishment for his unwavering fight against the US backed drug lords, while he was Interior Minister. In fact, during his ministerial tenure, Tareck Al Aissami, a man of full integrity, has hit hard the cartels of international drug dealers, capturing 102 drug lords, of whom 21 were extradited to the United States. To make things even more ridiculous, apparently Tareck Al Aissimi does not even hold a US visa neither has he any assets in the USA that could be frozen as claimed.

The bigger and larger scale agenda behind this latest defamation scheme maybe a monstrous attempt to bring NATO to South America. Yes, you read right – Pentagon’s European military branch, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. They have absolutely nothing to do in Latin America, but as long as nobody screams murder and acts against it – the impunity of the empire is almost bottomless.

The little publicized fact is that President Manuel Santos of Colombia has recently invited NATO to come to Colombia to help him ‘fight organized crime’ – meaning, most likely a new FARC war, easily revived with a few false flags – as already happened recently (http://thesaker.is/colombia-inviting-nato-to-fight-organized-crime-a-menace-for-latin-america/ ).

This move has been under preparation since 2012 / 2013, right from the beginning of Peace Negotiations between the Santos Government and FARC. It started with a so-called ‘best practice technical assistance agreement’ between NATO and Colombia – extendable to real troops and armory movements into Colombia – meaning automatically NATO spreading all throughout Latin America. The Natoization of LATAM! – What a prospect!

Venezuela with Hugo Chavez was the only country protesting already during Colombia’s initial negotiations with Brussels / NATO. Today, except for Venezuela, I don’t know of any other Latin American country that shouted out in protest. Not that it mattered, as nothing matters to the exceptional nation. But it would help spread awareness about what Washington has in store as its latest oppressing atrocity for Latin America.

Might this be one of the chief purposes of this intimidating defamation launched against Venezuela and her Vice President, whose ethical integrity is proven beyond doubt?

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, TeleSUR, TruePublica, 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.

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

Trump Considers Elliott Abrams for No. 2 Position at State Dept.

 photo abrams45_zpsyiqomjzk.jpg

[ Ed. note – Elliott Abrams, a longtime Washington insider who in the 1980s attempted to coverup atrocities committed by death squads in Central America, is reportedly now being considered by President Trump for the position of Deputy Secretary of State. ]

Who is Elliott Abrams?

By David Kinzer

With Rex Tillerson inching ever closer to being confirmed as secretary of state, the Trump transition team is now focusing on Tillerson’s number 2, and today, The Wall Street Journal reports that Elliot Abrams is a front-runner for the position.

But who is Elliot Abrams?

Unlike Tillerson, who is new to the political stage, Abrams is an experienced diplomat and a true-blue Neoconservative who was convicted and later pardoned of crimes committed while serving in the Reagan Administration.

In short, he is a man with credentials. And baggage.

Born to a Jewish family in New York City in 1948, Abrams’s life followed the emblematic Neoconservative trajectory, with degrees from prestigious institutions (Harvard for his B.A. and J.D., with a Master’s from the London School of Economics on the side) and brief forays into liberal politics, working for two Democratic Senators. He ultimately switched over to the Republican Party in 1980, after growing disattisfied with liberal diplomacy.

By 1981, Abrams was appointed to President Ronald Reagan’s State Department. There he held several positions, including Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. That experience may be meant to balance out Tillerson, who was criticized after his confirmation hearings for appearing weak on human rights.

However, it was Abrams’s subsequent post that landed him the most attention, not all of it good. As Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, he supported the government of El Salvador while it committed war crimes like the El Mozote massacre and was a key participant in the Iran-Contra affair, secretly coordinating deals with foreign governments to help the right-wing Nicaraguan Contras obtain weapons. He did this even though Congress had specifically forbidden the US from assisting the Contras in acquiring weapons or overthrowing the Nicaraguan government.

Despite the negative scrutiny, Abrams held onto his post until the end of the Reagan administration. Afterward, he cooperated with Iran-Contra investigators and pled guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress in 1991. The following year, President George H.W. Bush pardoned him.

Continued here


The Wikipedia article on Abrams contains some interesting information on Abrams, for instance the following:

In early 1982, when reports of the El Mozote massacre of hundreds of civilians by the military in El Salvador began appearing in U.S. media, Abrams told a Senate committee that the reports of hundreds of deaths at El Mozote “were not credible,” and that “it appears to be an incident that is at least being significantly misused, at the very best, by the guerrillas.”[14] The massacre had come at a time when the Reagan administration was attempting to bolster the human rights image of the Salvadoran military. Abrams implied that reports of a massacre were simply FMLN propaganda and denounced U.S. investigative reports of the massacre as misleading. In March 1993, the Salvadoran Truth Commission reported that over 500 civilians were “deliberately and systematically” executed in El Mozote in December 1981 by forces affiliated with the Salvadoran government.

And it seems he also may have played a role in the attempted coup in Venezuela in 2002:

The Observer has claimed that Abrams had advance knowledge of, and “gave a nod to,” the Venezuelan coup attempt of 2002 against Hugo Chávez.[29] However, a review by the State Department’s inspector general made the following conclusion: “Our government’s opposition to the use of undemocratic or unconstitutional means to remove President Chávez was repeated over and over again during the relevant period by key policymakers and spokespersons in Washington and by our representatives in Caracas in both public and private forums. And, far from working to foment his overthrow, the United States alerted President Chávez to coup plots and warned him of an assassination threat that was deemed to be credible.”[30] Yet the U.S. government gave tacit approval to the coup initially, refusing to condemn the coup until after the president installed by the coup had already been forced to resign by the people.

It seems Trump is falling into the same trap Obama fell into: surrounding himself with neocons. Is he really this politically naive? Or was that maybe his intention all along?

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Here we go again, Rex Tillerson Already Talking Regime Change in Venezuela

Rex Tillerson Already Talking Regime Change in Venezuela

Rex Tillerson testifies during a confirmation hearing.

Rex Tillerson testifies during a confirmation hearing. | Photo: Reuters

The secretary of state nominee attacked both Venezuela and Cuba.

The new U.S. administration of Donald Trump has made it public that it will seek a regime change policy in Venezuela disguised in “transition to democracy” rhetoric, the country’s potential new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in an interview this week.

OPINION:
Rex Tillerson Has a Long, Troubled History in Venezuela

“If confirmed, I would urge close cooperation with our friends in the hemisphere, particularly Venezuela’s neighbors Brazil and Colombia, as well as multilateral bodies such as the OAS, to seek a negotiated transition to democratic rule in Venezuela,” the former executive in ExxonMobil told Latin America Goes Global.

He further claimed that the economic crisis in the oil-rich South American country was “largely a product of its incompetent and dysfunctional government, first under Hugo Chavez, and now under his designated successor, Nicolas Maduro.”

The government of President Maduro has, however, blamed the recent crisis on an economic war by right-wing politicians as well as corporations who are hoarding products and halting production to put pressure on the socialist administration.

Meanwhile, Tillerson struck a less aggressive tone when pressed about how he would deal with the standoff between the government and the opposition-led national assembly in Venezuela.

“The U.S. should continue to support legitimate dialogue to resolve the political crisis between the Maduro government and the opposition that now controls the National Assembly.”

But then he called for sanctions against what he called “human rights violators” when asked about political prisoners while also slamming Maduro’s government for “undemocratic practices.”

The right-wing website also asked the nominee for U.S. top diplomat post “about the controversial and misguided decision to normalize relations with Cuba” to which he did not suggest a full rollback from Barack Obama’s steps on Cuba.

“I will engage with Cuba but continue to press for reform of its oppressive regime. I will support human rights defenders and democracy activists in Cuba, empower civil society, defend freedom of expression, and promote improved internet access and I will ask our allies to do the same,” he said.

He added that he would engage in bilateral and multilateral talks with Havana in order to “press Cuba to meet its pledge to become more democratic and consider placing conditions on trade or travel policies to motivate the release of political prisoners.”

However, when the interviewer pressed further Tillerson said he would stand by statements made by Vice President Mike Pence stating that the Trump administration would reverse Obama’s Cuba rapprochement policy.

RELATED:
War Criminal Kissinger Dotes Praise on Trump Secretary Pick

“Yes. There will be a comprehensive review of current policies and executive orders regarding Cuba to determine how best to pressure Cuba to respect human rights and promote democratic changes.”

Tillerson and Venezuela, in fact, have a bitter history and some say he might pursue personal revenge against the socialist government as he takes the international diplomatic stage in Washington.

In 2007, late President Hugo Chavez ordered the nationalization of 22 major multinational corporations operating in the country including ExxonMobil, then headed by Tillerson.

He rejected the compensation deal offered by the government of US$1 billion and took Venezuela to the international arbitration court demanding instead US$10 billion. But the rarely defeated CEO lost and his company settled for US$1.6 billion.

“(Tillerson) took it very personal with Chavez,” said Ghassan Dagher, a Venezuelan oil industry consultant to the New York Times in December.

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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.”

President Assad: Fidel Castro Will Keep Inspiring All Independence-seekers

November 26, 2016

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sent on Saturday a condolence letter to Cuban President Raul Castro over the death of the Leader Fidel Castro.

In the letter, President al-Assad expressed on behalf of the Syrian people and on his own behalf heartfelt condolences to the leadership and people of Cuba, wishing them all success and asking that may the late leader rest in peace.

President al-Assad said that the “great” leader Fidel Castro efficiently led the struggle of his country and people against imperialism and hegemony for decades, and that his steadfastness has become an example and an inspiration for leaders and peoples everywhere in the world.

“Our friend Cuba was able under his leadership to stand its ground in the face of the most ferocious of sanctions and unfair campaigns witnessed in our modern history,” said the President, adding that Cuba has thus become a beacon for the liberation of the peoples of the South American countries and others around the world.

“The name Fidel Castro will live forever in the minds of generations and remain an inspiration for all the peoples who aspire to achieve real independence and liberation from the yoke of colonialism and hegemony,” the President said.

Source: SANA

Great Cuban Revolutionary Leader Fidel Castro Passes Away…Nine Days of Mourning Declared

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HAVANA- Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, agiant of 20th century politics, has passed away, aged 90.

On Saturday, Cuba’s Prensa Latina news agency reported the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro. The revolutionary was known for his love of life, and was a figure recognized by both friends and foes as a legend of 20th century politics and history.

The Cuban Council of State on Saturday declared nine days of mourning for the death of the late leader.

A council statement said “during the national mourning public activities and shows will be halted, the national flag will be flown at half-mast in public buildings and military establishments and radio and television will broadcast informational, patriotic and historical programming.”

Having overthrown the Batista dictatorship in 1959, Castro and his fellow revolutionaries embraced socialism in Cuba, to the ire of the US superpower, just 90 miles from Cuba’s shores. From the 1960s to the 1980s, Castro’s Cuba actively struggled against colonialism and Western imperialism, and played an instrumental role in the non-aligned movement. In the 1990s, contrary to the expectations of many, Castro’s Cuba not only survived the collapse of the Soviet Union, but lived on and preserved its independence.

Castro’s passing has resulted in a virtual flood of condolences from leaders around the world. Russia, which has a long and rich history of relations with Cuba, thanks in no small part to the Fidel’s personal efforts, was no exception. Russian officials, including President Putin, Prime Minister Medvedev, senators and lawmakers, have offered their condolences over Castro’s passing, and marked their gratitude for the Cuban leader’s immense contributions to the Russian-Cuban friendship.

According to Sputnik , Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a personal appeal to President Raul Castro and the Cuban people. “I express to you and to the whole Cuban people our deepest condolences on the passing of the leader of the Cuban Revolution, your brother Fidel Castro,” Putin said in a telegram sent to the Cuban president.

“The name of this outstanding statesman is rightfully considered to be a symbol of an entire era in contemporary world history,” the Russian President added. “The free and independent Cuba that was built by him became an influential member of the international community, and has served as an inspiring example for many countries and peoples.”

Putin stressed that Fidel Castro had made a huge contribution to the development of Russian-Cuban relations, and to strategic cooperation between the two countries in all areas. Castro was “a sincere and reliable friend of Russia,” according to the president.

“This strong and wise human being always looked with confidence to the future,” Putin’s telegram continued. “He embodied the highest ideals of politics, citizenship and patriotism, and was sincerely convinced in the rightness of the goal to which he devoted his whole life. His memory will live on forever in the hearts of Russian citizens,” Putin concluded, adding that he wished the Castro family “courage and steadfastness in the face of this irretrievable loss.”

H.M

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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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