Quote by Hugo Chavez. Even more true now than when it was written

‘The hegemonic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very survival of the human species. We continue to warn you about this danger and we appeal to the people of the United States and the world to halt this threat, which is like a sword hanging over our heads.’ – President Hugo Chavez

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Four UNSC members boycott US-arranged meeting on Venezuela at UN

UNSC Members Boycott US-Arranged Meeting At UN

This file image shows the United Nations Security Council members during a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on November 13, 2017. (By AFP)This file image shows the United Nations Security Council members during a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on November 13, 2017. (By AFP)

Four members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) have boycotted an informal meeting of the Council arranged by the United States to discuss Venezuela, arguing that the body should not meddle in the domestic affairs of countries.

The US had arranged the meeting on Monday to discuss the political situation inside Venezuela, where there have been tensions between the government and the opposition recently.

The UN ambassadors of Russia, China, Bolivia, and Egypt, who boycotted the event, reminded that meddling in the internal affairs of other countries was a violation of the UN Charter and described the US move as “illegal.”

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia told reporters that he hoped Venezuela could settle its issues peacefully without any external interference.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia speaks to the media as a Security Council Arria formula meeting on the situation in Venezuela is underway, at the UN headquarters in New York, on November 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

In hostile remarks, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the so-called Arria-Formula meeting, “Venezuela is an increasingly violent narco-state that threatens the region, the hemisphere, and the world.”

Referring to the US-arranged meeting, Venezuela’s UN envoy, Rafael Ramirez, said, “This is a hostile act by the United States and clearly an act of interference.”

The US is a fierce critic of the government of Venezuela, often communicating with Venezuela’s opposition against Caracas.

The Venezuelan government has repeatedly urged Washington to stop meddling in its affairs and orchestrating moves to destabilize the Latin American country.

Venezuela has been gripped by an acute economic crisis that has spilled into the political scene, with President Nicolas Maduro’s critics blaming him for the ailing economy. Tensions previously rose over the establishment of a Constituent Assembly as well.

U.S. Imposes Oil Blockade to Force Venezuela into Default

A PDVSA oil rig in Venezuela.
By Misión Verdad

The U.S. is betting on the default of Venezuela affecting its financial credibility and hampering its debt repayments.

While continuing the commercial and financial embargo and the systematic attack on PDVSA, it was revealed at the start of November that imports of Venezuelan oil to the United States this year have declined to 56 percent compared to last year. This multi-pronged attack that this state industry is facing as the main foreign exchange earner of the country, has been run by a network of internal allies, many of whom have been detained by the Public Prosecutor’s Office in recent months. This was after the former Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz became a key factor in allowing the continuity of these mafias to operate within the company.

In addition to corruption and internal sabotage, PDVSA is facing a series of sanctions for the issuance of debt, which has also complicated transactions with U.S. refineries for the purchase of crude oil. In recent months America’s banks, under pressure from the U.S. Treasury Department, have restricted credit notes that U.S. refineries need to pay for Venezuelan oil. The result is that imports and dividends in dollars have been reduced by half in comparison to 2016.

Trump did not dare take the measure of prohibiting imports from Venezuela, given the many interests of U.S. companies involved, but this multi-pronged attack is making any explicit prohibition unnecessary. The measures taken have managed to make a dent in exports of oil to that country. All this is with the objective of continuing to strangle the Venezuela’s economy and force the nation into a debt default by restricting purchases by U.S. refineries.

Forecasts in respect of servicing PDVSA bonds for these dates have been varied. According to Kapital Consultants, between October and November PDVSA must comply with payments of US$3.525 billion for a total of approximately US$9 billion paid in debt interest and capital for the year 2018. As usual, the partial information in this report was used as a means of propaganda by the Venezuelan opposition to confuse and sow doubts about the payment capacity of the company.

According to President Nicolas Maduro, the Republic and PDVSA have paid more than US$71.7 billion in the last four years for capital and debt servicing.

These maneuvers against PDVSA are not isolated and form part of a framework of actions imposed since the Barack Obama administration issued an executive decree which declares Venezuela as a “threat to the national security” of the United States, behind which were the major U.S. oil corporations.

Reports from Reuters and other national media about PDVSA’s alleged inability to pay are part of this plan, adding fuel to the fire of financial terrorism directed from the Rating Agencies against Venezuela as well as from some opposition leaders such as Julio Borges who continues pushing for sanctions.

The U.S. is betting on the default of Venezuela affecting its financial credibility and hampering its debt repayments, as part of a maneuver to force a default on payments that would allow the violation of PDVSA’s international assets and partially block its oil income. However, the timely payments by Venezuela have prevented the default from happening, even if the rating agencies, the treasury department and some Wall Street banks keep pushing in that direction.

But given that this action in the financial war has not yielded the expected results, the U.S. looks as if it will take the road of the oil embargo as its ace card. The objective of pressuring banks and U.S. refineries from buying Venezuelan crude seeks to restrict the flow of dollars into the Venezuelan economy which are used for various purposes – such as debt repayment and imports of basic goods.

 

Venezuela remains the third largest supplier of oil to the U.S. In 2016, it exported approximately 736,000 barrels per day, what resulted in – if measured at an average basket price of US$30 per barrel – more than US$700 million a month in oil revenues for Venezuela, just from the U.S. market. Due to the financial blockade on purchases of Venezuelan oil imposed by the treasury department on U.S. refineries, that figure has dropped to 255,000 barrels a day, reducing foreign currency income by more than 50 percent.

A few weeks ago the fifth largest buyer of Venezuelan oil, PBF Energy, suspended purchases from PDVSA due to these pressures, while other refiners are struggling to make payments to the Venezuelan State Oil Company.

With these underhand actions by the Trump administration being institutionalized as financial sanctions, the U.S. is forcing Venezuela and PDVSA to have fewer dollars to meet their debt commitments in 2018 (protected at US$8 billion approximately) and in this way is pressing the country to fall into default. Add this to the sanctions preventing the issuance of new debt by PDVSA and Venezuela in the U.S. for refinancing purposes, then this has obliged Maduro to call the holders of debt to start a process of restructuring.

The various corporate maneuvers that aim to make the Venezuelan state pay for its decision to recover its sovereignty over PDVSA, is due not only to the economic implications but also to the geopolitical consequences of this decision. Moscow has begun a restructuring of the Venezuelan debt in a friendly, conversational tone, while Beijing has supported the sovereign decision of the Venezuelan state to refinance its debt. In turn, this cooperation has generated a geopolitical counterweight to the pressure exerted by the U.S. Treasury Department on holders of debt which has resulted in their non-recognition of the negotiations with the Venezuelan government.

What can be observed is that sanctions imposed by the government of Donald Trump against PDVSA, and in particular against Venezuela in general, as well as against other major producers of oil such as Russia and Iran, is that this policy has backfired and had a negative effect on the petrodollar. This could lead to the weakening of the United States role in the world oil trade with very serious, predictable consequences for its economic hegemony in the world.

First published in Mision Verdad on Nov. 3, 2017.

This article was originally published by teleSur

World votes to lift blockade on Cuba, only U.S and their partner in crime, israel, votes against

Source

By Telesur

The vote was 191 to 2 in favor of lifting the 55-year-old U.S. blockade on Cuba.

The U.N. General Assembly has voted 191 to 2 for the lifting of the U.S. blockade on Cuba as the United States and Israel were the only countries to vote against the resolution.

Delegate after delegate called for the end of the blockade, highlighting the progressive and positive role Cuba plays in the international community.

Speaking at the General Assembly, titled, “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba,” the representative of African states called the hardline stance taken by the current U.S. administration against Cuba as being “a step backward” that hampers Cuba’s sustainable development.

He recalled Cuba’s proud history on the African continent, actively participating in liberation struggles and its ongoing contribution to improving healthcare.

“The people of Africa will continue to remember this contribution,” he said, adding that Cuba has long been a responsible member of the international community.

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez approached the podium to an abundance of applause. He responded to U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley‘s comments by stating that the United States has no moral ground to stand on in its condemnation of the Caribbean island due to its “flagrant violation of human rights,” citing the arrest and deportation of minors and undocumented immigrants; the killing of African-Americans by U.S. police; the lack of guarantees for education and healthcare and restrictions on union organization; and the refusal of U.S. companies to sell life-saving medical supplies to Cuban healthcare services.

The Venezuelan representative speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement expressed full opposition to the promulgation of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba, which has lasted for over 55 years. He noted that the blockade is not only a contravention of international law, it is also a “criminal act” perpetrated by the most powerful government in the world to prevent a small Caribbean island from creating its own society.

The diplomat added that the blockade violates Cuba’s right to interact with the international community, due to its extra-territorial reach in the forms of fines and restrictions on people and businesses that travel to and engage with Cuba.

After criticizing member states and their representatives for condemning the U.S. economic blockade and calling the annual vote “political theater,” Haley directed her speech to the Cuban people. In doing so, she declared that her government, though standing alone in its promulgation of the 55-year-old blockade, will express solidarity with all Cubans by voting in favor of maintaining it.

The representative of the Plurinational State of Bolivia responded to Haley’s speech by reminding U.N. members of Cuba’s contribution to humanity. He quoted Nelson Mandela who stated that Cuba’s role in the Angolan liberation struggle, which included the “decisive defeat of the aggressive apartheid forces destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor.” Hence, Cuba has been, and continues to be, at the “service of others,” he said.

Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz emphasized that while the United States wants to teach everybody lessons on democracy and human rights, it turns its back on international law, believing that multilateralism is a farse and continues to promote torture and turns Guantanamo base into an illegal prison.

“They want us to believe that they are exceptional” despite harboring governments that run counter to the aspiration of all peoples who want to see an end to the 55-year-old economic blockade against Cuba.

Rodriguez noted that every single Cuban family and social service has been adversely affected by the blockade.

“Haley speaks on behalf of an empire,” Rodriguez emphasized, one that promotes global insecurity, tramples upon international law and the U.N. Charter, “which she cynically invoked.”

He noted that Haley at least recognized “the total isolation of the United States” in its continued support of the economic blockade, disregarding the “weight of truth” expressed by the international community.

Rodriguez reminded U.N. member states and representatives that the current U.S. administration “lost the popular vote” and its attempt at undermining the Cuban Revolution “is doomed to failure.”

He quoted Cuban President Raul Castro when asserting that the U.S. and Cuba can coexist recognizing their difference, but it should not be expected that in order to do this, Cuba would yield to U.S. demands or accept any preconditions. He reiterated that the Cuban people will never “renounce its purpose” of building a socialist, sovereign, sustainable country.

In closing, Rodriguez thanked the majority of the people of the United States for supporting the lifting of the blockade.

The United States vote follows an Oct. 3 decision to expel 15 Cuban diplomats following allegations of “sonic attacks” on U.S. diplomatic staff stationed in the U.S. embassy in Havana, which the Cuban government has investigated and denied.

Since 1992, successive administrations have voted “no” on the annual resolution before the general assembly. Former U.S. President Barack Obama broke with this predictability by abstaining from the vote in 2016 as part of a new strategy of thawing relations with the socialist country.

Trump has rebuked his predecessor’s decision to open relations with Cuba. The administration has planned to re-impose strict travel restrictions for U.S. citizens to the island nation and close holes in the blockade that made it possible for investment in certain areas of the Cuban economy, including agriculture, technology, and tourism.

The annual resolution has been all but universally supported by the 193-member body of the general assembly. Only two countries have consistently voted against the resolution in recent years — the U.S. and Israel.

 

US Regime Change in Venezuela: The Truth Is Easy if You Follow the Money Trail. The Opposition is Pro-Washington, Not “Pro-Democracy”

US Regime Change in Venezuela: The Truth Is Easy if You Follow the Money Trail. The Opposition is Pro-Washington, Not “Pro-Democracy”

By Tony Cartalucci

First published by GR in August 2017

Venezuela’s ongoing crisis is not driven by political ideology – it is not a battle of socialism versus capitalism or dictatorship versus democracy – it is the result of two centers of political power possessing opposing interests and colliding geopolitically.

The nation of Venezuela is currently under the control of Venezuelans who derive their support, wealth, and power from Venezuela itself – its people and its natural resource. This political order also receives aid and support from Venezuela’s economic and military partners both in the region and around the globe.

The opposition opposed to the current political order and seeking to supplant it represents foreign interests and more specifically, the United States and its European allies.

The Opposition is Pro-Washington, Not “Pro-Democracy”

As early as 2002, US-backed regime change targeting then Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, sought to violently overthrow Venezuela’s political order and replace it with one obedient to Washington. Current leaders of the opposition were not only involved in the 2002 failed coup, many are documented to have received political and financial support from the United States government ever since.

Maria Corina Machado, founder of Sumate, an alleged Venezuelan election monitoring group, funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED), meeting with US President George Bush who presided over the failed coup attempt seeking to oust President Hugo Chavez. (Source: Land Destroyer Report)

This includes several founders of the opposition party, Primero Justicia (Justice First), including Leopoldo Lopez, Julio Borges, and Henrique Capriles Radonski. The latter of the three has been prominently featured in Western media coverage lately.

US State Department documents reveal that the department itself along with US-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have been providing Venezuela’s opposition with support.

This includes a  report titled, “Status of Capriles and Sumate Cases,” referring to the above mentioned Henrique Capriles Radonski and Sumate, a US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funded front posing as an election monitor.

Currently, NED’s own website features an extensive list of activities it is engaged in within Venezuela’s borders. It includes leveraging human rights for political gain, electoral manipulation, building opposition fronts, and expanding pro-opposition media. While each activity is labelled with benign titles, it is clear that none of these activities are done impartially, and as State Department documents reveal, these activities are done specifically for the benefit of the US-backed opposition.

Wall Street and Washington’s Open Conspiracy 

After the death of Chavez in 2013, US-based special interests openly conspired to finally overturn the political order he built. Corporate-financier policy think tank, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) created a checklist of US foreign policy goals it sought to achieve in Venezuela. They included:

  • The ouster of narco-kingpins who now hold senior posts in government
  • The respect for a constitutional succession
  • The adoption of meaningful electoral reforms to ensure a fair campaign environment and a transparent vote count in expected presidential elections; and
  • The dismantling of Iranian and Hezbollah networks in Venezuela

In reality, AEI is talking about dismantling entirely the obstacles that have prevented the US and the corporate-financier interests that direct it, from installing a client regime and extracting entirely Venezuela’s wealth while obstructing, even dismantling the geopolitical independence and influence achieved by Chavez in Venezuela, throughout South America, and beyond.

The think tank would continue by stating:

Now is the time for US diplomats to begin a quiet dialogue with key regional powers to explain the high cost of Chávez’s criminal regime, including the impact of chavista complicity with narcotraffickers who sow mayhem in Colombia, Central America, and Mexico. Perhaps then we can convince regional leaders to show solidarity with Venezuelan democrats who want to restore a commitment to the rule of law and to rebuild an economy that can be an engine for growth in South America.

By “Venezuelan democrats,” AEI means proxies created, funded, and directed by Washington, including Primero Justicia and the street mobs and paramilitary units it commands.

More recently, another Wall Street-Washington policy think tank, the Brookings Institution, would publish in a paper titled, “Venezuela: A path out of crisis,” a 5-point plan toward escalating the crisis in Venezuela (emphasis added):

1. The United States could expand its assistance to countries that until now have been dependent on Venezuelan oil, as a means to decrease regional support for and dependence on the Maduro government.

2. The United States could increase monetary assistance to credible civil society organizations and nongovernmental organizations able to deliver food and medicines to Venezuelans. By doing so, the United States should make clear that international pressure aims to support democracy, not punish the Venezuelan people.

3. The United States could support efforts by the opposition in Venezuela to build an “off-ramp” that would split moderate elements of the government away from hardliners, encouraging the former to acquiesce to a transition to democracy by lowering their costs of exiting government.

4. The United States could coordinate with international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to offer financial incentives for holding free and fair elections in 2018, and for the opposition to unify and compete in those elections. Such coordination would also involve developing and publicizing a credible plan to restart Venezuela’s economy.

5. As a last resort, the United States could consider raising economic costs to the government through an expanded sanctions regime that aims to limit Venezuelan earnings from oil exports and block further financing. This policy is risky, given that the Maduro government would be able to more credibly shift blame for the economic crisis onto the United States, and should be accompanied by well-publicized efforts to deliver humanitarian aid through credible civil society and nongovernmental organizations.

While the Western media attempts to frame Venezuela’s crisis as a result of “socialism” and “dictatorship,” it is clear by reading the West’s own policy papers that it is owed instead to a systematic assault on Venezuela’s sociopolitical stability and economic viability, spanning decades.

Venezuela is not the first nation in South America that the United States has sought to overturn by undermining its economy.

Within the CIA’s own online archives under a section titled, “CIA Activities in Chile,” it is admitted that in the 1970s, similar tactics were used to undermine and overturn the government of Chile. It states specifically: (emphasis added):

According to the Church Committee report, in their meeting with CIA Director Richard Helms and Attorney General John Mitchell on 15 September 1970 President Nixon and his National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, directed the CIA to prevent Allende from taking power. They were “not concerned [about the] risks involved,” according to Helms’ notes. In addition to political action, Nixon and Kissinger, according to Helms’s notes, ordered steps to “make the economy scream.” 

These Cold War attitudes persisted into the Pinochet era. After Pinochet came to power, senior policymakers appeared reluctant to criticize human rights violations, taking to task US diplomats urging greater attention to the problem. US military assistance and sales grew significantly during the years of greatest human rights abuses. According to a previously released Memorandum of Conversation, Kissinger in June 1976 indicated to Pinochet that the US Government was sympathetic to his regime, although Kissinger advised some progress on human rights in order to improve Chile’s image in the US Congress. 

Considering America’s extensive list of interventions, wars, and occupations it is currently involved in worldwide and the manner in which each was presented to the public – with ideology and humanitarian concerns used to manipulate public perception, and considering Venezuela’s opposition is a documented recipient of US support, it is clear that yet another intervention is under way, this time in South America.

Unipolar vs Multipolar

In a world moving toward multipolarism and greater decentralization on all levels, Venezuela’s collapse and a victory for Washington would undo an increasingly balanced distribution of geopolitical power – both in South and Central America, as well as across the world.

As a major oil producing nation, US control over its people and natural resources would further allow the US and its allies to manipulate energy prices toward achieving future goals – particularly in terms of encircling, isolating, and dismantling other centers of political power dependent on oil production for economic prosperity.

One needs not be a fan of “socialism” to understand that the ultimate outcome of Venezuela’s collapse will be a further concentration of power in Washington and Wall Street’s hands. Such power, regardless of whatever ideology it is superficially wielded behind, will always be abused. Regardless of the alleged form of government a nation may take, as long as it is a step away from unipolar globalization, it is a step in the right direction.

The crisis in Venezuela is not one of socialism versus capitalism or dictatorship versus democracy – it is one of hegemony versus national sovereignty, of centralized unipolar power versus an increasingly multipolar world.

A sovereign and independent Venezuela allowed to pursue its own destiny is one in which its own people will naturally seek to decentralize and distribute power. While the current government may not provide the ideal conditions to accomplish this, conditions under a US client regime – as US-wrecked Libya, Afghanistan, or Iraq prove – would be significantly less ideal.

For geopolitical analysts, moving away from ideological talking points and examining the actual government and opposition, their interests, associations, and funding, as well as their base motives reveals a much simpler and consistent narrative, one that any analyst could discern, and a discernment that will stand the test of scrutiny and time. Those entrenched in left/right ideology risk being betrayed by the government’s floundering desperation and the true nature of an opposition that most certainly is not “capitalist” or “pro-democracy.”

All images in this article are from the author.

57 Countries Back Venezuela at UN Human Rights Council

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A bloc of fifty-seven countries signed a declaration in support of Venezuelan sovereignty at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Thursday.

UN Human Rights Council

57 countries expressed their support for Venezuelan sovereignty at the UN Human Rights Council. (Archive)

A bloc of fifty-seven countries signed a declaration in support of Venezuelan sovereignty at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Thursday.

“We condemn any action that disturbs peace, tranquility, and democratic stability (in Venezuela)… and which threatens its sovereignty, including the recent threats of a possible foreign military intervention,” reads the text of the document, as presented by Cuba’s ambassador to the body, Pedro Luis Pedroso.

The group, which includes Ecuador, Cuba, China, Bolivia, Palestine, Russia, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran, and South Africa, likewise expressed “support for the constitutional government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in its commitment to preserving peace and maintaining democratic institutions in the country”. 

For his part, Venezuelan UNHRC Ambassador Jorge Valero hailed the document as an endorsement of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly, which Washington and its allies in Europe and Latin America have refused to recognize.

“With the approved declaration, the world reaffirms the sovereign right of countries to organize their electoral processes, including the election of national constituent assemblies,” he stated.

The declaration was presented in the context of the 36th session of the UNHRC, which began on September 11 and concludes on September 29.

Throughout the session, Venezuela has been the subject of controversy, with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein accusing the government in Caracas of “crimes against humanity”.

Venezuela has fired back, accusing the Jordanian prince of “bias” and noting that his office has yet to produce evidence to substantiate its allegations.

The 36th session of the UNHRC coincides with the 72nd General Debate of the UN General Assembly, where Venezuela has also been at the center of heated debate.

In his maiden speech at UN, US President Donald Trump lashed out at Venezuela alongside North Korea and Iran, threatening “further action” against the South American nation.

Coming on the heels of the US leader’s threats, 120 nations of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) signed the New York Declaration, proclaiming their “opposition to unilateralism and coercive measures”.

While the proclamation did not explicitly mention Venezuela, it has been widely viewed as a political victory for the Maduro government, which currently holds the pro tempore presidency of the NAM and has been the target of escalating US and Canadian sanctions over the past two months.

Trumps UN Speech, Hypocrisy and Lies

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