Politics of regime change ‘dangerous & inhumane’

Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute joins News.Views.Hughes to blast the “total lie” that President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela “is blocking aid to his own people” and to discuss the clamor for regime change in Venezuela in the larger context of neocon warmongering around the world. Find RT America in your area: http://rt.com/where-to-watch/ Or watch us online: http://rt.com/on-air/rt-america-air/ Like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTAmerica Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_America

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In Libya, ‘We Came. We Saw. He Died.’ Will There Be a Repeat in Venezuela?

In Libya, ‘We Came. We Saw. He Died.’ Will There Be a Repeat in Venezuela?

In Libya, ‘We Came. We Saw. He Died.’ Will There Be a Repeat in Venezuela?

Libya is in a state of anarchic turmoil, with various groups fighting each other for control of the country, and as the Wall Street Journal reported last September, “Islamic State is staging a resurgence in chaotic Libya, claiming more than a dozen attacks in the North African country this year and threatening to disrupt the flow of oil from one of the world’s most significant suppliers.” To such mainstream media outlets as the Wall Street Journalthe fact that oil supplies are being disrupted is much more important than the savage IS attacks that result in slaughter of so many innocent people who are only foreigners, anyway.

The UN Security Council said it deplored the Islamic State’s “heinous and cowardly terrorist attack… in Tripoli on 25 December 2018” and expressed “deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the Libyan people and Government of National Accord, and wished a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured.”

It is laudable that the Security Council should express such sentiments, but if Libya was not “fractured by a six-year civil war”, there would be no need for sympathy from anyone.

The cause of the catastrophe in Libya in Libya was the seven month US-NATO blitzkrieg from March to October 2011 in which thousands of bombs and rockets rained down on that unfortunate land which was governed by President Muammar Ghaddafi whom the West was determined to overthrow by assisting a rebel movement. In Ghaddafi’s Libya, as detailed by the World Health Organisation the government provided “comprehensive health care including promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services to all citizens free of charge through primary health care units, health centres and district hospitals.” Life expectancy was 75 years (as against 66 in India; 71 in Egypt; 59 in South Africa), and the CIA World Factbook noted that there was a literacy rate of 94.2% which was higher than in Malaysia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

Ghaddafi was far from being a saint. He dealt with his enemies in the most brutal fashion and was guilty of numerous offences against humanity. But so were (and are) many others like that around the world whose countries are not subject to US sanctions or seven months of strikes by US-NATO planes and missiles.

The US-NATO blitz was successful, and Gaddafi was overthrown and captured by rebel forces, whereupon, as reported, “the increasingly desperate and terrified 69-year-old Gaddafi was thrown on to the front of a white car bonnet, his blood-soaked head locked between the knees of a militiaman… He slipped off the bonnet, his ravaged body unable to cope with the constant battering.” Then, as can be seen in a particularly horrible video, he was beaten mercilessly, sodomised with a bayonet, and murdered.

When she was informed of this, the news caused the United States Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, to giggle and announce with a laugh that “We came. We saw. He died.”

Trump is the worst president in US history, but at least we have been spared the global ascendancy of a person who cackles with mirth when being told that someone had been murdered.

In any event, Libya was reduced to chaos amid the Clinton cackles, just as is happening in Venezuela at the moment. Its leader, Maduro, is not unlike Gaddafi in many ways, being ruthless and arrogant, and there is no doubt the country has suffered under his regime — but it has suffered a great deal more because of vicious sanctions imposed by Washington, just as happened in Libya.

The United Nations Human Rights Council is not regarded favourably by Washington’s sanctioneers, simply because it points out the negative side of sanctions, in that it is always ordinary people who suffer — and especially the poor, the deprived, the sick, the lame, all those whom Trump says he loves. At a Prayer Breakfast in the White House on 7 February he declared that “America is a nation that believes in redemption” and that religious faith “transforms lives, heals communities and lifts up the forgotten,” which, as with almost everything he says, was a load of hypocritical garbage.

These US sanctions have caused untold suffering. As Al Jazeera reported on 8 February, “a hospital… has said 14 children have died this week following an outbreak of amoebiasis, a form of dysentery transmitted by contaminated food or water. Dozens of other children infected by the disease cannot receive adequate treatment due to a lack of medical supplies.” And on it goes, just as it did in Libya and pre-invasion Iraq which had suffered similarly evil sanctions for so many years.

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has urged everyone involved in the Venezuela crisis to “lower tensions” and begin speaking to each other, but there was no possibility that anyone would listen to him, least of all those intent on the overthrow of Maduro. The UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures as affecting human rights, Idriss Jazairy (an admirable and highly intelligent person), stated on 31 January that “coercion” by the US (without naming it) is a “violation of all norms of international law.” He said flatly that “Sanctions which can lead to starvation and medical shortages are not the answer to the crisis in Venezuela… precipitating an economic and humanitarian crisis . . . is not a foundation for the peaceful settlement of disputes.”

But Washington doesn’t want a peaceful settlement of disputes, least of all, at the moment, in Venezuela. It wants to ensure that there is suffering, in order that Maduro can be overthrown by those whom it has deprived of the basic necessities of life. Further, it wants its own man to be at the Top.

So — enter Mr Juan Guaidó, a minor politician in Venezuela’s parliament.

According to the Wall Street Journal on 25 January, “The night before Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president of Venezuela, the opposition leader received a phone call from Vice President Mike Pence. Mr Pence pledged that the US would back Mr. Guaidó if he seized the reins of government from Nicolás Maduro by invoking a clause in the South American country’s constitution, a senior administration official said.”

As the New York Times noted on 8 February, “Mr. Trump said the oil sanctions were meant to punish Mr. Maduro for human rights violations and force him to cede power to Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader whom the United States has recognized as the rightful Venezuelan president.”

The entire “revolution” has been engineered from Washington, but at least, this time, they haven’t gone in with rockets and bombs. There is no doubt that Washington will win, and that Maduro will leave in one way or another.

And my advice to him is : don’t wait too long before you give up and get out. Otherwise, Maduro, baby, They’ll Come. They’ll See. And You’ll Die.

Venezuela: From Oil Proxy to the Bolivarian Movement and Sabotage. Abysmal Poverty under US Proxy Rule (1918-1998)

The Historical Levels of Poverty in Venezuela, Prior to the Bolivarian Revolution. Interview with Michel Chossudovsky

Warfare Tools

Michel Chossudovsky talks to Bonnie Faulkner on Guns and Butter.

We discuss the economic and political crisis in Venezuela, its history as an oil proxy nation since the discovery of oil in 1918, through successive dictatorships, coups d’etats, a fake nationalization of the oil industry, the Chavista movement and destabilization through financial warfare, with a special emphasis on Michel Chossudovsky’s personal experience there conducting a study on poverty in 1975 as Advisor to the Venezuelan Minister of Planning.

The study commissioned by the Ministry of Planning (CORDIPLAN) (involving an interdiscilinary research team) headed by Michel Chossudovsky was entitled: “Venezuela: La Mapa de la Pobreza”.  (Venezuela: The Poverty Map)

The report provided detailed estimates of poverty, focussing on nutrition, education, health, housing, employment and  income distribution.

It also addressed the role of government policy. Venezuela’s oil wealth was not used to build schools and hospitals. The oil surplus was largely recycled into the hands of the oil giants and the local elites.

Upon its release, the draft report was confiscated by the Minister of Planning. It was subsequently  shelved on orders of the Cabinet (Consejo de Ministros) of President Carlos Perez.

Michel Chossudovsky brought it out as a book in 1978, which created a bombshell. It dispelled the myth of “La Venezuela Millionaria”.

In the period prior to the Bolivarian Revolution, extending into the 1990s, the levels of poverty were abysmally high.

“More than 70 percent of the Venezuelan population did not meet minimum calorie and protein requirements, while  approximately 45 percent were suffering from extreme undernourishment.

More than half of Venezuelan children suffered from some degree of malnutrition.

Infant mortality was exceedingly high.

23 percent of the Venezuelan population was illiterate. The rate of functional illiteracy was of the order of 42%.

One child in four was totally marginalized from the educational system (not even registered in the first grade of primary school).

More than half the children of school age never entered high school. 

A majority of the population had little or no access to health care services.  

Half the urban population had no access to an adequate system of running water within their home.

Unemployment was rampant. 

More than 30 percent of the total workforce was unemployed or underemployed, while 67 percent of those employed in non-agricultural activities received a salary which did not enable them to meet basic human needs (food, health, housing, clothing, etc.). 

Three-quarters of the labor force were receiving revenues below the  minimum subsistence wage.”

(Michel Chossudovsky, excerpts from La Miseria en Venezuela, Vadell, Caracas, 1978, translated from Spanish)

The objectives of the US led Coup:

Install a US proxy regime,

Confiscate the country’s extensive oil wealth (Venezuela has the largest oil reserves Worldwide),

Impoverish the Venezuelan people.

 

TRANSCRIPT

 This is Guns and Butter

Michel Chossudovsky: I think concretely also we understood that poverty was not the result of a scarcity of resources, because this was an oil-producing economy, but all the oil revenues were going into private hands. Of course, the big-oil U.S. was behind it. But what we understood was that it was the governments which were responsible for poverty.

I’m Bonnie Faulkner. Today on Guns and Butter, Michel Chossudovsky. Today’s show: Venezuela: From Oil Proxy to the Bolivarian Movement and Sabotage. Michel Chossudovsky is an economist and the Founder, Director and Editor of the Center for Research on Globalization, based in Montreal, Quebec. He is the author of 11 books including The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order, War and Globalization: The Truth Behind September Eleventh and America’s War on Terrorism. Today we discuss the economic and political crisis in Venezuela, its history as an oil proxy nation since the discovery of oil in 1918, through successive dictatorships, the Chavista movement and destabilization, with a special emphasis on Michel Chossudovsky’s personal experience there conducting a study on poverty as Advisor to the Minister of Planning.

Bonnie Faulkner: Michel Chossudovsky, welcome.

Michel Chossudovsky: I’m delighted again to be on Guns and Butter.

Bonnie Faulkner: The president of Venezuela’s National Assembly since February 5th, Juan Guaidó, declared that he has temporarily assumed presidential powers, promising to hold free elections and end Nicolas Maduro’s “dictatorship.” President Trump announced that the U.S. would recognize Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela. According to The Wall Street Journal, Vice President Mike Pence called Guaidó the night before his announcement and pledged that the Trump administration would support him. Trump refused to rule out military action. In your recent article, Regime Change and Speakers of the Legislature: Nancy Pelosi vs. Juan Guaidó, Self-proclaimed President of Venezuela, you intimate that Trump’s declaration might constitute a dangerous precedent for him. Why?

Michel Chossudovsky: Well, ironically, the position of Speaker of the National Assembly of Venezuela, which is held by Juan Guaidó, is in some regards comparable to that of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and, of course, the leader of the majority party, the Democrats, which is currently held by Nancy Pelosi. There are certain differences from the constitutional standpoint, but what President Trump has intimated in declaring that the Speaker of the National Assembly of Venezuela is the interim president of Venezuela is tantamount to saying, “Hey, Donald Trump, what about Nancy Pelosi?” Somebody might intimate, either a U.S. politician including perhaps even President Maduro of Venezuela, “We would like Nancy Pelosi to be the President of the United States, and then, of course, we’ll go to the UN Security Council to have it endorsed.”

That illustrates the ridicule of political discourse but also the shear fantasy of U.S. foreign policy, that they should provide legitimacy to a Speaker of the House because they don’t like the President. Well, I don’t like the president of the United States of America and a lot of people don’t like him, but do we want to have Nancy Pelosi as our interim president? That, in fact, is something which could evolve in the current context of confrontation between President Trump and the Democratic Party, which now controls the U.S. House of Representatives.

Bonnie Faulkner: It looks like the Democrats in Congress are also threatening President Maduro. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has tweeted out, “We refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Maduro’s presidency. That’s why members are joining to introduce legislation to support the people of Venezuela and hold the illegitimate president accountable for the crisis he created.” So this is a bipartisan effort to unseat Maduro.

Michel Chossudovsky: Precisely. It is a novelty in relation to regime change. We have military coups in Venezuela going back to the early 20th century – a whole bunch of military coups. We have color revolutions, which instigate protest movements. That is already ongoing in Venezuela. Then we have this new formula of intimating that we don’t like the President; have him replaced by the Speaker of the House. And that’s, of course, a very dangerous discourse because, as I mentioned, it could backlash onto President Trump himself.

Bonnie Faulkner: Venezuela’s crisis came before the UN Security Council on Saturday, but they took no action because there was no agreement. Russia and China backed Maduro but France, Britain, Spain and Germany said they would recognize Juan Guaidó as president unless Venezuela calls a new presidential election within eight days. So here we have European nations demanding that Venezuela hold another election. Did Nicolas Maduro win the presidency of Venezuela democratically or not?

Michel Chossudovsky: He won the presidency of Venezuela democratically with a large majority. Conversely, France’s President Macron also won the presidential election with a rather feeble majority and nobody is questioning Macron’s presidency. Well, in fact, some people are because we have the Yellow Vest movement throughout France. That doesn’t seem to be making the headlines anymore and people are endorsing President Macron.

Well, there are several issues. These European leaders don’t have the support of their respective populations. In Venezuela support for President Maduro is divided, but that’s I think something that happens in a large number of countries. It’s not any different. The opposition is controlling the National Assembly but nonetheless, President Maduro gets a majority of support of the Venezuelan population.

The fact of the matter is that all these leaders in Europe are, first of all, caving in to U.S. foreign policy; they are essentially behaving as U.S. proxies. At the same time, their behavior and management of the republics that they represent, not including the United Kingdom, which is also in a big mess – well, one might say, how can they get away with this? Under a constitutional democracy, how is it that they could actually support the United States in calling for the Speaker of the National Assembly of Venezuela to become president of the country? It’s an absurd proposition, and that this would then get to the United Nations Security Council is even more absurd.

What should get to the United Nations Security Council is the mode of interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country through the financing of opposition groups, the financing of terrorists and so on who are involved in triggering the protest movement and so on. It’s an evolving situation. It has certain features resembling in fact the Euromaidan in Ukraine. And, of course, the end objective is to unseat the president.

Now, he has very strong grassroots support because the Bolivarian Revolution has indeed led to major changes in the country, major achievements, under very contradictory circumstances as well as divisions within the Bolivarian movement.

I have been going back and forth to Venezuela for a very long period since I started very early in my career when I became Advisor to the Minister of Planning in the Carlos Andrés Pérez government of the mid-‘70s. I know the country inside-out.

It’s a very complex process, and I think people have to understand first of all that Venezuela has the largest oil reserves worldwide – more than Saudi Arabia – both traditional crude as well as tar sands, which are extensive but also very easy to manage and produce compared to those of Canada, for instance. What is at stake there is the battle for oil.

Historically, Venezuela has been an oil economy from its inception in 1918 when oil was discovered in the Maracaibo Bay. Then you had a whole series of military dictators.

The most prominent was, of course, Juan Vicente Gómez, who was really a proxy of the United States and big oil.

So big oil has controlled this country from the early 20th century and it was only in the ‘90s with the Bolivarian Revolution that they actually started to repeal this control of big oil with the government of Chávez, which essentially started to implement some major changes and shifts in the nature of state management, but under very contradictory circumstances, which I guess we’ll be discussing.

Bonnie Faulkner: How did you first get involved in Venezuela? Did you first go there in 1975, and under what auspices?

Michel Chossudovsky: Actually, one of my close friends when I was studying at the University of Manchester in economics was a person named Gumersindo Rodriguez. Now, Gumersindo Rodriguez was a bit older than I. He was active in the MIR, Movimiento Izquierda Revolucionaria, which was a leftist faction of the Democratic Action Party, Acción Democratica. He had close links to one of the prominent presidents, which was Romulo Betancourt, (left) but at the same time he was – to some extent the MIR were considered as renegades.

He went off to study in the UK and then when he returned and a new Acción Democratica government was formed he became Minister of Planning. And then he called me up and we met in New York. He said, “Would you like to come down, etc., to Caracas to work for the Planning Ministry as my Advisor?” I accepted and I went down in mid-1975 during the school break at the University of Ottawa.

Initially he wanted me to write his speeches, so I started writing his speeches. After a while I said, “Listen, Gumersindo, I would like to do something more substantive and set up a research group on poverty in this country, which is a serious issue.” So he said, “Okay, Michel. Go ahead. Set up the group. You have all the resources you need.”

I set up a group of about half-a-dozen people with consultants at the university and so on. I was a young researcher. It was a very challenging project. Very carefully we looked at concepts of what defines the standard of living, in other words, nutrition, education, health, employment, income distribution, the environment, the access to running water, the levels of malnutrition. We defined what was called a minimum family income, and this was supported with very careful analysis at the statistical level. I had a professor in nutrition at the university who advised me on various aspects.

This report was done in three months. It was a big push. I had to go back to Ottawa to the university in September where I was teaching economics, so we managed to finish the first draft of the report in a matter of months. We came up with incredible results, that the abysmal levels of poverty, largely basing our analysis on national statistics, the various surveys which were available, household budget surveys, the census data and also the input of a large number of intellectuals and so on. But not so much field work because simply we didn’t really have the time to do that. But we came up with results.

I think concretely also we understood that poverty was not the result of a scarcity of resources,because this was an oil-producing economy, but all the oil revenues were going into private hands. Of course, the big-oil U.S. was behind it. But what we understood was that it was the governments which were responsible for poverty because they weren’t recycling the oil revenues to a societal project. They weren’t using the oil revenues to finance education, health and so on, and the levels of unemployment were exceedingly high and so on.

Now, this is the background of poverty which prevailed when the Bolivarian Revolution occurred. I should mention that much of our data was based on the 1970s, but the 1980s were far worse, because then you had what was called El Caracazo in 1989, which was a process of economic and social collapse. It was instigated by the IMF. It led to hyperinflation, so it was a sort of classical neo-liberal intervention with strong economic medicine [shock therapy] where the prices of consumer goods went sky high. That happened in 1989.

Now, what I think is very important to underscore is that Venezuela in the 1970s and ‘80s was a very poor country with a lot of resources, namely oil, and that oil went into private hands. That was despite the fact that the oil industry was nationalized in 1975. Now, I should mention that when I arrived at the Ministry of Planning in 1975, that coincided more or less with the nationalization of the oil industry. But it was a fake nationalization.

Bonnie Faulkner: How do you mean a fake nationalization?

Michel Chossudovsky: Well, legally it was nationalization, but it was ultimately understood that the big oil companies were complicit in this nationalization and that they would get all the benefits and so on. And then also when it was nationalized, of course, there were payments to the oil companies. It was implemented by the government of Carlos Andrés Pérez and there was no question of actually saying, “Well, we’ve got the oil; what are we going to do with it?” The pattern of appropriation continued, the corruption within the state apparatus and so on.

Ironically, I was asked to draft a text which was to be used for the nationalization speech, which was a very important document, because it defined, what are you doing to do with the oil. Idrafted an analysis of this, essentially saying the following: that the oil revenues would be recycled to a societal project alleviating poverty. It was explained conceptually that the oil money now belongs to the country and not to the oil companies, and consequently this is the avenue that we choose.

There was a drafting committee and they contacted me. I knew all these people; they were on the same floor in the Ministry of Planning building. But then the nationalization speech was read and published, and it was simply political rhetoric. It didn’t have any substantive perspective as to how these oil revenues would be used to improve the livelihood of the Venezuelan people, and that is something which Chavez actually formulated many years later. The Bolivarian Revolution said, yes, the oil is going to improve the conditions of the Venezuelan population and particularly the people who are below the poverty line.

Now, I should mention and that’s so important, we undertook an estimate of undernourishment, people who do not meet minimum calorie requirements, and we arrived at figures in excess of 70% of the Venezuelan population. That was part of the report which I submitted to the government at the time. I contacted my friend [medical doctor] at the university who specialized in nutrition and said, “This seems to be horrendously high.” His response, “No. You’re absolutely on. Your estimates are on the whole conservative.” He had focused also on the impacts on child malnutrition and so on. We had estimates of that as well from secondary sources.

That was the picture which existed in the mid-70s in Venezuela, an exceedingly poor country with tremendous wealth. That tremendous wealth, of course, was being appropriated and the elites in Venezuela were, of course, complicit in the role of the oil companies and the United States. The Rockefellers were involved. I knew about this because I was also very close to the Minister of Planning.

Now, what happened to our report? That’s very important. We submitted the report. I went back to Canada and my colleagues submitted the report to the minister. In fact, what happened is the moment I had instructed my colleague to have copies made of the report and to circulate this report within the ministries. Immediately upon having the photocopied 20 or 30 copies of the report the driver of the Minister of Planning – he [the Minister] was a very powerful figure – came in and confiscated everything. They confiscated everything. Then the team was dismissed and then when I returned to Caracas in early ’76 I still had an office but I was all by myself and, in fact, I had absolutely no functions or activities assigned to me. My team had been dispersed. They were still there, we still spoke, but we were not working as a team anymore.

What has happened is, first, that report was confiscated by the Minister of Planning and then it was shelved by the Council of Ministers of the Carlos Andrés Pérez government. The Council of Ministers reviewed it and said, “No, we don’t want it.”

The reasons they didn’t want it wasn’t the figures on poverty; it was how we analyzed the role of the state.

The  state creates poverty.

Mind you, we have the same thing in the United States of America. The state creates poverty. Why? Because it spends more than $700 billion on so-called defense.

So we have that logic, but it was very clear that that kind of analysis could not go public. It couldn’t go public. It was only a couple of years later that I took the report and I brought it out as a book. It was published in 1978 and it became an immediate best seller. The first edition was sold out in nine days. It was adopted at the colleges and universities and high schools across Venezuela because it broke a myth. It broke the myth of what they call La Venezuela Miliónaria, that this was a rich country, sort of the Latin Saudi Arabia so to speak. But the social realities were otherwise.

Now when we look at what is happening in Venezuela today and where the U.S. policymakers say, “We want to come to the rescue of the people who have been impoverished,” this is a nonsensical statement. The history of Venezuela was a history of poverty right until Chavez became president. They retained that level of poverty and exclusion. Not to say that there aren’t very serious contradictions within the Bolivarian movement; that’s another issue.

I think that we have to assess what Venezuela was historicallystarting with the dictatorships throughout – the last dictatorship was repealed in 1958. That was the dictatorship of Pérez Jiménez (left). But then you have a sort of bipartisan framework between what was called Acción Democratica, Democratic Action, and Copei, which were the Christian Democrats. It was a bipartisan structure very similar to that of the United States, going from one to the other and largely serving the interests of the elites rather than the broader population.

Bonnie Faulkner: You have said that Venezuela in 1918, basically, when oil was discovered, it became an oil colony. What was Venezuela like before oil was discovered? Do you have any idea?

Michel Chossudovsky: It was essentially an agrarian society, which was dominated by landlords. There were regional powers. What in Latin America are called los caudillos. In other words, these were essentially landlords and leaders in various regions of Venezuela, and it was largely an agrarian society producing coffee and cacao.

In fact, they would say, if somebody becomes a big landlord or a Caudillo, they would call him a Gran Cacao, which indicated that cacao (cocoa) was a – you could say that Venezuela was a cash crop economy, exporting coffee and cocoa to the Western markets, very similar to what we have in Central America, for instance.

Of course, it still had the legacy of Simon Bolivar in Caracas, an urban society which goes back to the Spanish colony, but it didn’t really have any particular momentum in terms of wealth formation until the emergence of oil in 1918. That is when U.S. big oil became involved in Venezuela, and it was essentially an oil colony of the United States, and a very important oil colony of the United States due to geography as well, because it’s not in the Middle East; it’s right there, very close to the United States.

So that was really ultimately the transition and that’s where, first of all, we saw more of the centralization of political power within the country and the development of an elite which were serving the interests of the oil companies.

Bonnie Faulkner: But then even before oil was discovered in 1918, Venezuela was still controlled by the elites. Was there crushing poverty then, as well?

Michel Chossudovsky: Well, there was certainly crushing poverty during that period, but what I’m suggesting there is that that crushing poverty was not alleviated with the discovery of oil. What happened is that the discovery of oil first of all created conditions of displacement of the agrarian economyAgricultural production started to decline dramatically, and oil became essentially the sole industry in the country. There has been, or there was during the Bolivarian period under Chavez, concern that the rural economy had been more or less abandoned, and that was also the consequences of big oil.

Bonnie Faulkner: So then in 1992, Hugo Chavéz stages a coup d’état. Could you talk about Venezuela under Hugo Chavéz? Now, you’ve met him personally, haven’t you?

Michel Chossudovsky: Yes, I met him personally, rather briefly, when I attended the sessions of the Latin American Parliament. I think what was striking was that, first of all, he acknowledged the report which was published as a book entitled in Spanish, La Miseria en Venezuela, and he also intimated he would like me to get involved in an update of that – well, it wouldn’t be an update – a contemporary review of poverty, so that we could actually compare poverty in the 1970s to poverty in the early 2000s.

That proposal was discussed but it never really got off the ground. Had I been involved in doing a new poverty analysis, it would, of course, have been done in a very, very different way to what we did in the 1970s. But I still think that the analysis has to be made. The historical levels of poverty are there, and I had the opportunity of undertaking the study and releasing that information to the broader public in Venezuela.

As I mentioned, that destroyed a myth, the narrative that Venezuela in relation to other countries in Latin America was a rich country. It wasn’t a rich country. It was a country with tremendous wealth and a poor population with serious social divisions and high levels of inequalityThat is what U.S. Foreign policy wants to restore. They want to restore Venezuela as a subordinate country with a poor population and elites that are aligned with the United States. That is the nature of the crisis which is ongoing today in Venezuela.

Bonnie Faulkner: Well, now, how would you assess the effect that Hugo Chavéz and his government had on Venezuela?

Michel Chossudovsky: This is a very complex process, because when Chavéz arrived to power initially, his first presidency was in 1999, and he became President in 1999 and then he continued again in 2007 until his death in 2013. The nature of the Venezuelan state apparatus was such that it was very difficult to start implementing reforms within the state apparatus. I knew that from the very beginning when I put together the team of people. I had a representative from the Ministry of Health and it turned out that she was sustaining essentially an elitist vision of health, and eventually I asked her to withdraw from the research group.

What Hugo Chavéz inherited was a structure of government which was very much still centered on the previous periods and required tremendous reform. You couldn’t simply go in and start instructing the officials to do this and that. There had to be a major reform of the state apparatus.

Now, what he did instead was to create projects which were parallel to the state system. Those were called the Misiones. They had also sort of grassroots. So there was a gradual process of reform of the state apparatus and at the same time there were activities which were grassroots which took place outside the realm let’s say of ministerial politics. They were geared towards literacy, education, health. They had tremendous support also from the Cuban doctors. In some regards, these were very successful undertakings.

I should mention from my own understanding is that there were serious divisions within the Bolivarian movement and I think also mistakes from the point of view as far as Chavez is concerned. From my standpoint, one of the biggest mistakes was to have, at an earlier period created, a United Socialist Party rather than a coalition. In other words, the intent of Chavéz was to create a political party which would be the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, of which he was also the leader, rather than create a coalition of parties which would gather different segments of Venezuelan society. So the thing became very polarized.

I should say there were divisions within the Chavista movement. There was also corruption within the Chavista movement. It was very difficult for the state to disassociate itself with the Venezuelan lobby groups, which were the rich families of Venezuela. But nonetheless, the results of this process were historically significant because first of all, the oil industry was already nationalized – well, it was nationalized by Carlos Andrés Pérez – but it was never really applied as a national process. And what Chavéz did was essentially to render this nationalization of petroleum as an active and key component in the recycling of revenue into the financing of social projects rather than into private hands. And that, of course, was ongoing. And the country had the resources to undertake these projects.

So that is the background. I should mention that – and that’s a separate issue – that there were already attempts to destabilize Chavéz from the presidency right from the outset, and it came as a result of the National Endowment for Democracy and its various actions in Venezuela in support of so-called opposition groups. I recall, again, and I should mention it, that in the 2012 elections, which Chavéz won, there was an attempt by various foundations, the NED but also Germany’s Hanns Seidel Foundation to support the opposition candidate. So there was direct interference in the electoral process.

Bonnie Faulkner: Were you saying that one of the ways that Hugo Chavéz tried to implement reform was not through reforming the government itself, but by creating a sort of a parallel structure. Is that what you were saying?

Michel Chossudovsky: Yes, that was certainly what occurred. Reforms were taking place within the state apparatus and the parallel structures were also there, and they were eventually linked up. But at the outset it was very difficult for the new government to come in and introduce major reforms in the state apparatus.

They then had a process of constitutional reform, which Chavéz implemented, and they created a constitutional assembly, which was the object of controversy. We’re dealing with a very complex process, because throughout his presidency up to his death there were conspiracies to destabilize the government, and there were people within the government who were playing a dirty game. I think that was clear. In fact, even to some extent Chavéz let that happen. There were contracts allocated with the Ministry of Public Works and so on. There were various cases of corruption within the Bolivarian government and there were serious problems regarding the structure of the state apparatus.

But it’s not to say that this was not known. But at the same time there was a grassroots movement. There was a process of democratization at the grassroots. I think that what was achieved was remarkable within a relatively short period of time. The historical levels of poverty were alleviated.

Bonnie Faulkner: It sounds like corruption played a very big part in Venezuela before Hugo Chavéz’s coup d’état and after his coup d’état when he got in charge. Many people are claiming that Venezuela’s economic collapse presently is linked to its socialist policies. What are Venezuela’s socialist policies and what do you make of this claim?

Michel Chossudovsky: I think that’s a little bit of a misnomer because, first of all, Venezuela was not a socialist economy. It was essentially a capitalist economy. What happened is that the government nationalized certain key industries. It created what were called the Communal Councils, it had the Misiones, which were largely focusing on issues of housing, healthcare and so on, but the economy was essentially a capitalist economy, a market economy. If you go to Caracas you see it. I think there was a socialist process which had been implemented but by no means was this a full-fledged socialist economy.

I think if we compare it to other Latin American countries, Venezuela in a sense would divorce itself from the so-called Washington consensus, namely the economic and social policies imposed by the Bretton Woods Institutions, e.g., World Bank, International Monetary Fund. It had its own structure for participatory democracy which were in some regards quite successful, particularly the Misiones.

In fact, the failures that we’re now seeing, rising consumer prices, hyperinflation, those are engineered. They’re engineered by manipulations of the foreign exchange market.We know this kind of mechanism because it’s what characterized the last months of the Chilean government of Salvador Allende in 1973 (left), where persistently the national currency was under attack leading to hyperinflation and so on and so forth. We might say that it’s part of the IMF, World Bank, Federal Reserve “remedy,” or action. It’s very easy for Wall Street to destabilize currencies. It’s been applied in many, many countries.

I recall when I was in Peru in the early ‘90s when President Alberto Fujimori came to power that in a single day the price of fuel went up 30 times, and that was following the IMF measures. Well, in the case of Venezuela, the manipulation is ongoing. The exchange rate is manipulated, and it is triggering poverty. There’s no question about it, that these acts of sabotage and financial warfare are creating abysmal poverty.

But that was not the result of a government policy; it was the result of intervention in the currency markets by speculators, and this is something which is well known and understood. If you want to destroy a country, you destroy its currency.

I should mention that I’ve had meetings with people at the Central Bank – not recently, but when I went to Venezuela some seven or eight years ago, I had those meetings at the Central Bank. The Central Bank of Venezuela did not really implement significant changes in the management of monetary policy which would avert this kind of action. But what I can say quite rightly is that if there’s poverty today in Venezuela it is not due to the Bolivarian Revolution; it is due to the fact that there are measures of sabotage and financial warfare which have been introduced with the view to undermining the Bolivarian missions in health, housing and so on simply by manipulating the currency markets, and that generates hyperinflation.

Bonnie Faulkner: How exactly does Wall Street attack a nation’s currency? What about the currency in Venezuela? Is it what you have referred to as a dollarized economy or not?

Michel Chossudovsky: I think it is a dollarized economy. That even prevailed before Chavez arrived to power. In other words, there’s a dual currency system. There’s the bolivar on the one hand, the national currency, and the dollar, and there’s a black market. And when there’s a black market which is unregulated – they never really manage to regulate the black market – when it’s unregulated well that’s what happens. People save in dollars because the national currency is very unstable and so on.

I think there were failures on the part of the Central Bank of Venezuela to ultimately come to terms with this issue. One of the reasons for that is that many of the people who were there, whom I knew, were of the old guard. They’re trained in monetary policy and macroeconomics and there was a need for some very careful reforms within the monetary system and mechanisms to protect the currency. That was fundamental.

Now, there’s also another element which played a role and that was the collapse of the oil market. That’s clear. The fact that the oil prices are exceedingly low backlashes on oil-producing countries, but that also affected other countries.

Bonnie Faulkner: And that oil collapse was manipulated, correct?

Michel Chossudovsky: The oil market collapse was manipulated, yes. I think the oil collapse was manipulated. There are mechanisms – I don’t want to get into that because it’s rather technical – but there are mechanisms of pushing prices of commodities up or down through speculative actions on the commodity exchanges. It’s well known and understood. There are ways of pushing currencies up and down through speculative actions. We know that from the 1997 Asian crisis, how the South Korean won collapsed. Those mechanisms are there. In economic jargon we call that naked short selling. When you introduce a naked short selling operation against a currency, it collapses, but there are ways for governments to actually avoid this short selling of their currencies. They have to regulate the currency market and unfortunately, in Venezuela that did not take place. Some proposals were put forth but they were never effective in protecting the currency.

Bonnie Faulkner: I’ve read that Venezuela is in debt to the tune of 60 billion. Does that debt have to be repaid in dollars?

Michel Chossudovsky: I presume that is a dollar debt, yes. It’s an external debt.

Bonnie Faulkner: How would they earn the dollars – by selling the oil?

Michel Chossudovsky: They’d sell the oil. I remind you that 60 billion dollars of external debt is not unduly high when you have oil revenues, but I expect that that debt was also accumulated with the collapse of the oil market. But, of course, yes, there are debt servicing obligations to repay that debt – of course, if there are problems of debt repayment then the creditors can implement measures which are detrimental to the Venezuelan economy and they’re doing it. There are a whole series of acts of sabotage. Just recently we see that the Bank of England has said, no, you can’t repatriate the gold that you’ve deposited in the Bank of England. They had gold deposited in the Bank of England which belongs to Venezuela and the response of the Bank of England said no, you can’t have it back. That’s another act of sabotage.

Bonnie Faulkner: It looks like Citgo, Venezuela’s main foreign energy asset, could be a target of the overthrow of Maduro, with the money from oil exports being sent to Guaidó instead of the Maduro government. I read that John Bolton was setting that out as a priority.

Michel Chossudovsky: Yeah, well, this is something which could have devastating consequences. But I don’t see it. First of all, there are institutional mechanisms as to how Guaidó would actually take control of these revenues. He’s not a government; he’s an individual. But what I think that what they’re doing now is to engineer mechanisms which will further destabilize the Venezuelan economy and also trigger some form of regime change.

Now, there’s another thing I’d like to mention, which I think is very important. What has been the response to this crisis? I saw recently a statement by a number of progressive authors and it essentially says that there should be mediation or negotiation between both sides. I think that that is something which is rather much misunderstood. There cannot be mediation between the government of Venezuela and a proxy for U.S. intelligence, which is Guaidó. In other words, what is being proposed is essentially to have a negotiated settlement between both sides, between the interim president, Juan Guaidó and the President of Venezuela, Maduro. In fact, Maduro has fallen for that proposal and has had I think some discussions with Guaidó or said he’s open to having conversations with him.

I think it should be obvious that this proposal is redundant and contradictory, because the leader of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó is a U.S. proxy. He’s an instrument of a foreign government who will then be negotiating on behalf of Washington.

Now, there’s always been negotiations within the Bolivarian process with opposition groups. They’ve always negotiated and discussed. But here, we’re dealing with something which is quite specific. You can’t negotiate with Juan Guaidó. He’s a U.S. proxy. And you can’t negotiate with the U.S. government. Well, there are internal divisions within Venezuela, but the President of Venezuela cannot negotiate with individuals who are committed to overthrowing the constitutionally elected President and replacing him with the Speaker of the House.

I think in Western countries we have to certainly take a stance and simply reject this opening by our governments, which are supporting the Speaker of the House and portraying him as an interim president of Venezuela. That’s the stance that we have to take.

There are certainly avenues of debate and negotiation within Venezuela, but it is very difficult for that to occur with a country which is under attack, which is the result of sabotage, financial warfare in the currency markets, threats to confiscate the revenues occurring from their oil exports, freezing the gold reserves in the Bank of England or freezing the accounts of assets overseas and so on. That is what has to stop and then there may be a period of transition where the country can restore its activities of normal government.

Bonnie Faulkner: Michel Chossudovsky, thank you.

Michel Chossudovsky: Thank you. Delighted to be on the program. Our thoughts today are with the people of Venezuela.

I’ve been speaking with Michel Chossudovsky. Today’s show has been: Venezuela: From Oil Proxy to the Bolivarian Movement and Sabotage.

Professor Michel Chossudovsky is the Founder, Director and Editor of the Center for Research on Globalization, based in Montreal, Quebec.

The Global Research website, globalresearch.ca, publishes news articles, commentary, background research and analysis.

Michel Chossudovsky is the author of eleven books including The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order and War and Globalization: The Truth Behind September Eleventh. Visit globalresearch.ca.

Guns and Butter is produced by Bonnie Faulkner, Yarrow Mahko and Tony Rango. Visit us at gunsandbutter.org to listen to past programs, comment on shows, or join our email list to receive our newsletter that includes recent shows and updates. Email us at faulkner@gunsandbutter.org.

Follow us on Twitter @gandbradio 

What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela

A Case of News Suppression

Introduction

This news-report is being submitted to all U.S. and allied news-media, and is being published by all honest ones, in order to inform you of crucial facts that the others — the dishonest ones, who hide such crucial facts — are hiding about Venezuela. These are facts that have received coverage only in one single British newspaper: the Independent, which published a summary account of them on January 26th. That newspaper’s account will be excerpted here at the end, but first will be highlights from its topic, the official report to the U.N. General Assembly in August of last year, which has been covered-up ever since. This is why that report’s author has now gone to the Independent, desperate to get the story out, finally, to the public:

The Covered Up Document

On 3 August 2018, the U.N.’s General Assembly received the report from the U.N. Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, concerning his mission to Venezuela and Ecuador. His recent travel through both countries focused on “how best to enhance the enjoyment of all human rights by the populations of both countries.

” He “noted the eradication of illiteracy, free education from primary school to university, and programmes to reduce extreme poverty, provide housing to the homeless and vulnerable, phase out privilege and discrimination, and extend medical care to everyone.”

He noted

“that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Ecuador, both devote around 70 per cent of their national budgets to social services.”

However, (and here, key paragraphs from the report are now quoted):

22. Observers have identified errors committed by the Chávez and Maduro Governments, noting that there are too many ideologues and too few technocrats in public administration, resulting in government policies that lack coherence and professional management and discourage domestic investment, already crippled by inefficiency and corruption, which extend to government officials, transnational corporations and entrepreneurs. Critics warn about the undue influence of the military on government and on the running of enterprises like Petróleos de Venezuela. The lack of regular, publicly available data on nutrition, epidemiology and inflation are said to complicate efforts to provide humanitarian support.

23. Meanwhile, the Attorney General, Tarek Saab, has launched a vigorous anticorruption campaign, investigating the links between Venezuelan enterprises and tax havens, contracting scams, and deals by public officials with Odebrecht. It is estimated that corruption in the oil industry has cost the Government US$ 4.8 billion. The Attorney General’s Office informed the Independent Expert of pending investigations for embezzlement and extortion against 79 officials of Petróleos de Venezuela, including 22 senior managers. The Office also pointed to the arrest of two high-level oil executives, accused of money-laundering in Andorra. The Ministry of Justice estimates corruption losses at some US$ 15 billion. Other stakeholders, in contrast, assert that anti-corruption programmes are selective and have not sufficiently targeted State institutions, including the military.

29. Over the past sixty years, non-conventional economic wars have been waged against Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in order to make their economies fail, facilitate regime change and impose a neo-liberal socioeconomic model. In order to discredit selected governments, failures in the field of human rights are maximized so as to make violent overthrow more palatable. Human rights are being “weaponized” against rivals. Yet, human rights are the heritage of every human being and should never be instrumentalized as weapons of demonization.

30. The principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States belong to customary international law and have been reaffirmed in General Assembly resolutions, notably [a list is supplied].

31. In its judgment of 27 June 1986 concerning Nicaragua v. United States, the International Court of Justice quoted from [U.N.] resolution 2625 (XXV): “no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State”.

36. The effects of sanctions imposed by Presidents Obama and Trump and unilateral measures by Canada and the European Union have directly and indirectly aggravated the shortages in medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. To the extent that economic sanctions have caused delays in distribution and thus contributed to many deaths, sanctions contravene the human rights obligations of the countries imposing them. Moreover, sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An investigation by that Court would be appropriate, but the geopolitical submissiveness of the Court may prevent this.

37. Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns with the intention of forcing them to surrender. Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees. A difference, perhaps, is that twenty-first century sanctions are accompanied by the manipulation of public opinion through “fake news”, aggressive public relations and a pseudo-human rights rhetoric so as to give the impression that a human rights “end” justifies the criminal means.

39. Economic asphyxiation policies are comparable to those already practised in Chile, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua and the Syrian Arab Republic. In January 2018, Middle East correspondent of The Financial Times and The Independent, Patrick Cockburn, wrote on the sanctions affecting Syria:

There is usually a pretence that foodstuffs and medical equipment are being allowed through freely and no mention is made of the financial and other regulatory obstacles making it impossible to deliver them. An example of this is the draconian sanctions imposed on Syria by the US and EU which were meant to target President Bashar al-Assad and help remove him from power. They have wholly failed to do this, but a UN internal report leaked in 2016 shows all too convincingly the effect of the embargo in stopping the delivery of aid by international aid agencies. They cannot import the aid despite waivers because banks and commercial companies dare not risk being penalised for having anything to do with Syria. The report quotes a European doctor working in Syria as saying that “the indirect effect of sanctions … makes the import of the medical instruments and other medical supplies immensely difficult, near impossible”.

In short: economic sanctions kill.

41. Bearing in mind that Venezuelan society is polarized, what is most needed is dialogue between the Government and the opposition, and it would be a noble task on the part of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to offer his good offices for such a dialogue. Yet, opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Julio Borges, during a trip through Europe to denounce the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called for further sanctions as well as a military “humanitarian intervention”.

44. Although the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has not yet reached the humanitarian crisis threshold, there is hunger, malnutrition, anxiety, anguish and emigration. What is crucial is to study the causes of the crisis, including neglected factors of sanctions, sabotage, hoarding, black market activities, induced inflation and contraband in food and medicines. 

45. The “crisis” in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is an economic crisis, which cannot be compared with the humanitarian crises in Gaza, Yemen, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Haiti, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, or Myanmar, among others. It is significant that when, in 2017, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela requested medical aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the plea was rejected, because it ”is still a high-income country … and as such is not eligible”.

46. It is pertinent to recall the situation in the years prior to the election of Hugo Chávez. 118 Corruption was ubiquitous and in 1993, President Carlos Pérez was removed because of embezzlement. The Chávez election in 1998 reflected despair with the corruption and neo-liberal policies of the 1980s and 1990s, and rejection of the gulf between the super-rich and the abject poor.

47. Participatory democracy in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called “protagónica”, is anchored in the Constitution of 1999 and relies on frequent elections and referendums. During the mission, the Independent Expert exchanged views with the Electoral Commission and learned that in the 19 years since Chávez, 25 elections and referendums had been conducted, 4 of them observed by the Carter Center. The Independent Expert met with the representative of the Carter Center in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who recalled Carter’s positive assessment of the electoral system. They also discussed the constitutional objections raised by the opposition to the referendum held on 30 July 2017, resulting in the creation of a Constitutional Assembly. Over 8 million Venezuelans voted in the referendum, which was accompanied by international observers, including from the Council of Electoral Specialists of Latin America. 

48. An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking him not to proceed because he was not the “relevant” rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a “fake investigation”. Social media insults bordered on “hate speech” and “incitement”. Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert’s integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures.

67. The Independent Expert recommends that the General Assembly: (g) Invoke article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations and refer the following questions to the International Court of Justice: Can unilateral coercive measures be compatible with international law? Can unilateral coercive measures amount to crimes against humanity when a large number of persons perish because of scarcity of food and medicines? What reparations are due to the victims of sanctions? Do sanctions and currency manipulations constitute geopolitical crimes? (h) Adopt a resolution along the lines of the resolutions on the United States embargo against Cuba, declaring the sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela contrary to international law and human rights law.

70. The Independent Expert recommends that the International Criminal Court investigate the problem of unilateral coercive measures that cause death from malnutrition, lack of medicines and medical equipment.

72. The Independent Expert recommends that, until the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court address the lethal outcomes of economic wars and sanctions regimes, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, the Russell Tribunal and the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission undertake the task so as to facilitate future judicial pronouncements.

On January 26th, Britain’s Independent headlined “Venezuela crisis: Former UN rapporteur says US sanctions are killing citizens“, and Michael Selby-Green reported that:

The first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years has told The Independent the US sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to “crimes against humanity” under international law.

Former special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who finished his term at the UN in March, has criticized the US for engaging in “economic warfare” against Venezuela which he said is hurting the economy and killing Venezuelans.

The comments come amid worsening tensions in the country after the US and UK have backed Juan Guaido, who appointed himself “interim president” of Venezuela as hundreds of thousands marched to support him.

The US Treasury has not responded to a request for comment on Mr de Zayas’s allegations of the effects of the sanctions programme.

US sanctions prohibit dealing in currencies issued by the Venezuelan government. They also target individuals, and stop US-based companies or people from buying and selling new debt issued by PDVSA or the government.

The US has previously defended its sanctions on Venezuela, with a senior US official saying in 2018: “The fact is that the greatest sanction on Venezuelan oil and oil production is called Nicolas Maduro, and PDVSA’s inefficiencies,” referring to the state-run oil body, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA.

Mr De Zayas’s findings are based on his late-2017 mission to the country and interviews with 12 Venezuelan government minsters, opposition politicians, 35 NGOs working in the country, academics, church officials, activists, chambers of commerce and regional UN agencies.

The US imposed new sanctions against Venezuela on 9 March 2015, when President Barack Obama issued executive order 13692, declaring the country a threat to national security.

The sanctions have since intensified under Donald Trump, who has also threatened military invasion and discussed a coup.

Despite being the first UN official to visit and report from Venezuela in 21 years, Mr de Zayas said his research into the causes of the country’s economic crisis has so far largely been ignored by the UN and the media, and caused little debate within the Human Rights Council.

He believes his report has been ignored because it goes against the popular narrative that Venezuela needs regime change.

The then UN high commissioner, Zeid Raad Al Hussein1, reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit, and the Venezuela desk of the UN Human Rights Council also declined to help with his work after his return despite being obliged to do so, Mr de Zayas claimed.

Ivan Briscoe, Latin America and Caribbean programme director for Crisis Group, an international NGO, told The Independent that Venezuela is a polarising subject. … Briscoe is critical of Mr de Zayas’s report because it highlights US economic warfare but in his view neglects to mention the impact of a difficult business environment in the country. … Briscoe acknowledged rising tensions and the likely presence of US personnel operating covertly in the country.

Eugenia Russian, president of FUNDALATIN, one of the oldest human rights NGOs in Venezuela, founded in 1978 before the Chavez and Maduro governments and with special consultative status at the UN, spoke to The Independent on the significance of the sanctions.

“In contact with the popular communities, we consider that one of the fundamental causes of the economic crisis in the country is the effect that the unilateral coercive sanctions that are applied in the economy, especially by the government of the United States,” Ms Russian said.

She said there may also be causes from internal errors, but said probably few countries in the world have suffered an “economic siege” like the one Venezuelans are living under.

In his report, Mr de Zayas expressed concern that those calling the situation a “humanitarian crisis” are trying to justify regime change and that human rights are being “weaponised” to discredit the government and make violent overthrow more “palatable”….

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and an abundance of other natural resources including gold, bauxite and coltan. But under the Maduro government they’re not easily accessible to US and transnational corporations.

US oil companies had large investments in Venezuela in the early 20th century but were locked out after Venezuelans voted to nationalise the industry in 1973.

Other than readers of that single newspaper, where has the public been able to find these facts? If the public can have these facts hidden from them, then how much trust should the public reasonably have in the government, and in the news-media?

• Here is the garbage that a reader comes to, who is trying to find online Mr. de Zayas’s report on this matter:  As intended, the document remains effectively hidden to the present day. Perhaps the U.N. needs to be replaced and located in Venezuela, Iran, or some other country that’s targeted for take-over by the people who effectively own the United States Government and control the U.N.’s bureaucracy. The hiding of this document was done not only by the press but by the U.N. itself.

• On January 23rd, Germany’s Die Zeit headlined “Christoph Flügge: ‘I am deeply disturbed’: The U.N. International Criminal Court Judge Christoph Flügge Accuses Western Nations of Threatening the Independence of the Judges“. Flügge especially cited U.S. President Trump’s agent, John Bolton. That same day, the Democratic Party and Labour Party organ, Britain’s Guardian, bannered “International criminal court: UN court judge quits The Hague citing political interference“. This news-report said that, “A senior judge has resigned from one of the UN’s international courts in The Hague citing ‘shocking’ political interference from the White House and Turkey.” The judge especially criticised Bolton: “The American security adviser held his speech at a time when The Hague was planning preliminary investigations into American soldiers who had been accused of torturing people in Afghanistan. The American threats against international judges clearly show the new political climate. It is shocking. I had never heard such a threat.” Flügge said that the judges on the court had been “stunned” that “the US would roll out such heavy artillery”. Flügge told the Guardian: “It is consistent with the new American line: ‘We are No 1 and we stand above the law’.”

• On February 6th, a former UK Ambassador to Syria vented at an alt-news site, 21st Century Wire (since he couldn’t get any of the major-media sites to publish it), “A Guide to Decoding the Doublespeak on Syria“, and he brazenly exposed there the Doublespeak-Newspeak that the U.S. Government and press (what he called America’s “frothing neocons and their liberal interventionist fellow travellers”) apply in order to report the ‘news’ about Syria. So: how can the public, in a country such as the U.S., democratically control the Government, if the government and its press are lying to them, like that, all the time, and so routinely?

As US Laments Human Rights in Venezuela, US-Allied Colombia Descends into Drug-fueled Humanitarian Crisis

By Whitney Webb
Source

The dichotomy between Washington’s relationship with Venezuela and Colombia is yet another clear example that the public justifications for the U.S.’s Latin America policy are little more than window dressing for the U.S.-backed expansion of neo-fascist governments throughout Latin America.

BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA (Analysis) — Several troubling situations are currently playing out across Colombia, yet the country’s continuing downward spiral into drug-fueled and politically-motivated violence has caused little concern in Washington, offering yet another clear indication that the U.S.’ current posturing on Venezuela is hardly motivated by concerns about “democracy,” “human rights,” or the welfare of the Venezuelan people.

This, of course, can hardly be considered surprising, given that Colombia is a top U.S. ally whose government has long been closely aligned with Washington’s interests. However, although the lack of U.S. government or media attention to Colombia may effectively hide it from the American public, the country is becoming increasingly lawless, with cocaine production reaching new record levels and the government sanctioning the mass murder of the country’s largest indigenous group. Not only that but since Colombia’s new president, Iván Duque, came to power late last year, the number of indigenous social leaders who have been murdered has spiked to the highest levels in over a decade.

Ultimately, the lack of media coverage of Colombia’s humanitarian crises, which have large implications for the Americas as a whole, is a telling example of how such crises are regularly weaponized by governments and media to exclusively target governments it wishes to pressure or overthrow, while turning a blind eye to those same or worse acts when committed by an allied nation.

An absurdly double standard

Though it was Barack Obama who first deemed Venezuela a “national security threat” and reinitiated draconian sanctions against the oil-rich nation, the Trump administration has greatly increased the sanctions targeting Venezuela, often citing its government’s alleged participation in illegal drug trafficking as justification for doing so. However, the U.S. has offered little in the way of concrete evidence to back up those allegations.

During this same period, moreover, the Trump administration has expressed little concern for the booming illicit drug trade in neighboring Colombia, which has broken records for cocaine production for the last two years in a row. Though the Colombian government and military have been repeatedly tied to the country’s drug trade, the Trump administration – like previous U.S. administrations – hasn’t lifted a finger.

According to UN figures released last September, Colombia’s cocaine production has again broken records, with the country producing an estimated 1,379 tons of cocaine in 2017, the latest year for which such statistics exist. That figure is a 31 percent increase in cocaine production from 2016. 2016 itself was a record-breaking year with cocaine production gaining by 50 percent over 2015 levels.

Though Trump had threatened to decertify former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ government over the rapid growth of cocaine production, he ultimately gave Colombia a pass in the U.S.’ annual determination of countries considered to be “major drug transit or major drug producing” areas “because the Colombian National Police and Armed Forces are close law enforcement and security partners of the United States in the Western Hemisphere.”

The document also described Venezuela, along with its regional ally Bolivia, as “countries that have failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements” despite the fact that Bolivia had the fewest illegal coca crops of any South American country that year.

Colombia | cocaine

Since getting a free pass from the Trump administration, Colombia’s current president, Iván Duque, has signaled his hopes to revive a failed, U.S.-backed program to indiscriminately spray suspected coca fields with the infamous Monsanto product glyphosate to reduce cocaine production.

Though the U.S. government and Western media have traditionally placed the blame on leftist guerillas in Colombia, like the FARC, the 2016 peace deal that saw the FARC abandon the drug trade has removed this convenient scapegoat and highlighted the long-standing role of the Colombian military and prominent right-wing politicians in cocaine production.

In fact, the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) has described the Colombian military — which has been armed and trained for decades by the U.S. under the Clinton era policy known as “Plan Colombia” — as being among “the biggest heroin and cocaine trading institutions.”

The Colombian government has also been intimately involved, particularly during the presidency of Álvaro Uribe, who allegedly served as the “head of Colombia’s paramilitary groups” both before and while in office. Uribe was once ranked by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency “on a list of 104 important narco-traffickers contracted by the Colombian narcotics cartels.”

There are also indications of the U.S. government’s own involvement in the Colombian cocaine trade. For example, Colombia’s most notorious drug trafficker, Pablo Escobar, at one point worked for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, according to Escobar’s own children. Escobar allegedly sold cocaine for the CIA to help the U.S. government finance its fight against communism and left-wing governments in Latin America.

As pointed out in the book Cocaine, Death Squads and the War on Terror: U.S. Imperialism and Class Struggle in Colombia, the U.S.’ anti-drug efforts in Colombia were never intended to eradicate cocaine, but instead alter the market share by ensuring that allies of the U.S. in Colombia – the Colombian government, paramilitaries and the wealthy elite who are favorable to U.S. business interests – could monopolize the drug trade with no competition from outsiders. Thus, it should hardly shock anyone that the U.S. continues to turn a blind eye to the country’s booming illegal drug trade and its associated violence, even as it continues to break records year after year.

Erasing the erasure of the Wayuú

As the long-standing, U.S.-backed plan to oust the Chavista regime in Venezuela has unfolded, Maduro’s government has been called out in Western media for “starving his own people,” despite the fact that U.S. sanctions imposed on Venezuela are a driving factor behind the country’s economic crisis. However, since 2011, Colombia has been the site of ongoing genocide against the country’s largest indigenous group – the Wayuú – in the country’s Guajira region, after the Colombian government diverted their only source of water to support the operations of the country’s – and continent’s – largest coal mine.

The suffering of the Wayuú, who have reported the deaths of at least 14,000 children due to the lack of clean water, has gone unreported by the same outlets that routinely raise concern about lack of essential goods in Venezuela. The Wayuú, who comprise around 20 percentof Colombia’s entire indigenous population and 48 percent of the Guajira region’s total inhabitants, are now on the brink of dying out completely seven years after the Ranchería river – their community’s only freshwater source – was diverted by the government-constructed Cercado dam in order to service the water needs of the Cerrejón coal mine.

An estimated 37,000 Wayuú now suffer from severe malnutrition, as they can no longer grow crops or raise livestock without a freshwater source. Each person in the community now lives off of less than 0.7 liters (24 oz.) of water a day while the Cerrejón mine guzzles more than 2.7 million liters of water in a 24-hour period – most of which is used to improve mine “visibility” by minimizing dust pollution. Despite the clear impact of the dam and mine on the humanitarian crisis facing the Wayuú, the Colombian government and supportive Western media have blamed “climate change” and weather patterns like El Niño for the situation.

The most likely reason for the erasure of the slow genocide of the Wayuú from Western media is the fact that the Cerrejón mine is largely a U.S.-backed operation, as the mine was originally founded by ExxonMobil and is now owned by a consortium of largely Western mining companies such as Anglo American and BHP Billiton. These same mining companies often work with right-wing paramilitary groups — who are also closely connected to the Colombian government — and who repeatedly threaten the lives of Wayuú who speak up about their people’s suffering, including their chief legal advocate, Javier Rojas Uriana.

Notably, the Colombian Wayuú have been immigrating to the Wayuú community in Venezuela in order to avoid the slow death caused by malnutrition, lack of water, and waterborne illnesses from the polluted water from the community’s remaining wells. The Venezuelan Wayuú have been largely supportive of Chavismo and have backed the Maduro-led government, referring to U.S.-backed opposition protests as violent riots “intended to create chaos.” The Huffington Post noted in 2017 that the Wayuú’s support for Maduro had largely been erased by the Western media because it “does not match up with the media’s anti-Venezuelan government narrative.”

Liquidating social leaders, activists, human-rights advocates

While the fate of the Wayuú (and thus 20 percent of the country’s entire indigenous population) continues to hang in the balance, the plight of Colombia’s indigenous peoples has grown even worse since the recent inauguration of Colombian President Iván Duque.

Despite Duque’s having come to power just last August, El Tiempo recently reported that the murders of indigenous leaders in the country have spiked to levels unseen in over a decade since Duque became Colombia’s president. According to data cited by El Tiempo, 120 indigenous social leaders – as well as human-rights defenders — have been murdered in cold blood during Duque’s first 100 days in office.

Though the murder of social leaders by right-wing paramilitary groups has been a long standing problem in Colombia’s recent history, this level of targeted murder represents a spike over recent years — in which 226, 159, and 97 such murders occurred over the course of the entire years of 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively. Notably, the Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro has been routinely accused by Western media of murdering opposition activists; yet, those same outlets have been silent on Colombia’s recent spike in activist murders.

Colombia | Slain Activists

Despite the jump, Duque’s government has expressed little concern. This is hardly surprising when one considers that Duque is the hand-picked successor and protégé of Álvaro Uribe, the former Colombian president who was once “the head of Colombia’s paramilitary groups,” according to former paramilitary group commanders of the right-wing death squad AUC, which has been funded by several prominent U.S. corporations.

Uribe, who was Colombia’s president from 2002 to 2010, and was a close ally of George W. Bush, was also personally implicated inorganizing a massacre conducted by a right-wing paramilitary group; and his cousin, Colombian politician Mario Uribe, was charged with mobilizing right-wing death squads in the country to help secure Uribe’s presidential victory in 2002. Uribe’s brother was also arrested for founding a right-wing paramilitary group in 2016.

Under Uribe’s presidency, the Colombian military massacred thousands of civilians — such as in the “false positives” scandal, where the Colombian military dressed up an estimated 5,000 civilians in guerilla clothing and killed them in cold blood, subsequently gaining a bonus from Uribe’s government for the sinister act. It should be no surprise then that, under Uribe, the murder rate of indigenous leaders and human-rights activists reached its all-time high at 1,912 murders in 2003.

Given Duque’s close relationship to Uribe, it is also little surprise that paramilitary groups have endorsed Duque following his election and have vowed to “exterminate” Duque’s opposition, calling prominent Colombian progressives “military targets.”

What to expect if US gets its way in Venezuela

If Washington’s publicly stated concerns about “human rights” and the welfare of a country’s people in Venezuela were genuine, it would be equally critical of Colombia’s government, given the numerous troubling situations currently unfolding in that country. Instead, the dichotomy between Washington’s relationship with Venezuela and Colombia is yet another clear example that the public justifications for the U.S.’s Latin America policy are little more than window dressing for the U.S.-backed expansion of neo-fascist governments throughout Latin America.

Indeed, if Juan Guaidó – the self-declared, U.S.-backed “president” of Venezuela – manages to seize power in the country, the current state of affairs in Colombia is a telling harbinger of what would likely manifest should Nicolás Maduro be overthrown and replaced with the same type of government that the U.S. has either backed or installed in several Latin American countries over the last few decades, and particularly in recent years.

President Nicolas Maduro: An Open Letter to the People of the United States

February 09, 2019

President Nicolas Maduro: An Open Letter to the People of the United States

source:

original introduction: The following open letter was published online by President Nicolas Maduro on his personal Twitter account. NewsVoice publish the unedited letter in its entirety. The translation was provided by Nino Paglicciaa freelance writer and activist with focus on the Americas. / Torbjorn Sassersson, editor, NewsVoice.se


Nicolas Maduro writes:

“If I know anything, it is about peoples, such as you, I am a man of the people. I was born and raised in a poor neighborhood of Caracas. I forged myself in the heat of popular and union struggles in a Venezuela submerged in exclusion and inequality. I am not a tycoon, I am a worker of reason and heart, today I have the great privilege of presiding over the new Venezuela, rooted in a model of inclusive development and social equality, which was forged by Commander Hugo Chávez since 1998 inspired by the Bolivarian legacy.

We live today a historical trance. There are days that will define the future of our countries between war and peace. Your national representatives of Washington want to bring to their borders the same hatred that they planted in Vietnam. They want to invade and intervene in Venezuela – they say, as they said then – in the name of democracy and freedom. But it’s not like that. The history of the usurpation of power in Venezuela is as false as the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It is a false case, but it can have dramatic consequences for our entire region.

Venezuela is a country that, by virtue of its 1999 Constitution, has broadly expanded the participatory and protagonist democracy of the people, and that is unprecedented today, as one of the countries with the largest number of electoral processes in its last 20 years. You might not like our ideology or our appearance, but we exist and we are millions.

I address these words to the people of the United States of America to warn of the gravity and danger that intend some sectors in the White House to invade Venezuela with unpredictable consequences for my country and for the entire American region. President Donald Trump also intends to disturb noble dialogue initiatives promoted by Uruguay and Mexico with the support of CARICOM for a peaceful solution and dialogue in favor of Venezuela. We know that for the good of Venezuela we have to sit down and talk because to refuse to dialogue is to choose strength as a way. Keep in mind the words of John F. Kennedy: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate”. Are those who do not want to dialogue afraid of the truth?

The political intolerance towards the Venezuelan Bolivarian model and the desires for our immense oil resources, minerals, and other great riches, has prompted an international coalition headed by the US government to commit the serious insanity of militarily attacking Venezuela under the false excuse of a non-existent humanitarian crisis.

The people of Venezuela have suffered painfully social wounds caused by a criminal commercial and financial blockade, which has been aggravated by the dispossession and robbery of our financial resources and assets in countries aligned with this demented onslaught.

And yet, thanks to a new system of social protection, of direct attention to the most vulnerable sectors, we proudly continue to be a country with high human development index and lower inequality in the Americas.

The American people must know that this complex multiform aggression is carried out with total impunity and in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations, which expressly outlaws the threat or use of force, among other principles and purposes for the sake of peace and the friendly relations between the Nations.

We want to continue being business partners of the people of the United States, as we have been throughout our history. Their politicians in Washington, on the other hand, are willing to send their sons and daughters to die in an absurd war, instead of respecting the sacred right of the Venezuelan people to self-determination and safeguarding their sovereignty.

Like you, people of the United States, we Venezuelans are patriots. And we shall defend our homeland with all the pieces of our soul. Today Venezuela is united in a single clamor: we demand the cessation of the aggression that seeks to suffocate our economy and socially suffocate our people, as well as the cessation of the serious and dangerous threats of military intervention against Venezuela. We appeal to the good soul of the American society, a victim of its own leaders, to join our call for peace, let us be all one people against warmongering and war.

Long live the peoples of America!

Nicolás Maduro
President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”

Racism And The Fight Over Venezuela

February 09, 2019

The U.S. coup attempt in Venezuela is not only about oil and general U.S. imperialism. It is attempt to bring a specific type of people back into power. The same type of people that rule in Washington DC.

The Nation describes how the U.S. has long funded and manipulated the opposition in Venezuela. The Random Guy™ Juan Guaidó, who claims the presidency, was created through this process:

How Washington Funded the Counterrevolution in Venezuela
Self-declared president Juan Guaidó comes from the right-wing, US-backed student movement that tried to subvert Hugo Chávez’s government.

The piece includes this revealing sentence:

A former USAID/OTI member who helped devise US efforts in Venezuela said the “objective was that you had thousands of youth, high school, and college kids that were horrified of this Indian-looking guy in power. They were idealistic.

Being “horrified” that the “Indian-looking” Hugo Chávez was in power does not seem “idealistic”. One might call it racist though. A number of those white, well off, U.S. trained college kids joint politics in right wing parties. They wanted to take power. But to sell one of theirs as a leader of a country where the majority is mestizo was a problem.

To solve that problem the Random Guy, despite being known only by 20% of Venezuelans, was selected to lead the U.S. coup attempt:

A figure named Juan Andrés Mejía would have been next in line but for reasons that are only now clear, Juan Guaido was selected.“There is a class reasoning that explains Guaidó’s rise,” Sequera, the Venezuelan analyst, observed. “Mejía is high class, studied at one of the most expensive private universities in Venezuela, and could not be easily marketed to the public the way Guaidó could. For one, Guaidó has common mestizo features like most Venezuelans do, and seems like more like a man of the people.

Guaido is a stand in. He was selected because he somewhat looked like the majority of the people of the country.

The two pictures below further demonstrate the role race plays in the conflict in Venezuela.

Venezuela currently has two assemblies that claim the right to legislate. In 2015 the opposition won a majority in the National Assembly, the original parliament of Venezuela:

However, the Venezuelan Supreme Court barred four lawmakers from taking their seats while it probed allegations of electoral fraud. As a result, only 163 of the 167 lawmakers were sworn in on January 5. The next day, three opposition deputies were sworn in over protests by members from the legislature’s minority who announced their intention to challenge the move.

The Supreme Court of Venezuela then held that the National Assembly was in contempt of the court. The move created a political stalemate. To solve it the president called for the election of a Constitutional Assembly. Its main task is to consider constitutional changes. But it can also overrule legislation that the National Assembly makes. The Supreme Court accepted the solution. The National Assembly, the rotational presidency of which Random Guy took at the beginning of this year, is since only a secondary parliament.

There is a visual difference between the two assemblies:

Opposition legislators of the National Assembly

Via VOA – biggerMembers of the Constitutional Assembly

Via BBC – biggerNational Assembly – Detail

Constitutional Assembly – DetailThe rich in Venezuela are overwhelming white people. They long ruled the country. The mestizo majority are the poor. Hugo Chavez brought them to power. The white people want the power back.

This obvious racist aspect of the conflict is missing from the general reporting of the issue. It only comes to light in the published visuals.

The race conflict is of course not unique to Venezuela. In the U.S., especially under Trump, racism is also prevalent. It is, I believe, the subliminal reason why the U.S. ruling class is joint in the effort to regime change Venezuela.

Posted by b on February 9, 2019 at 02:59 PM | Permalink

Venezuela Is An Opportunity For Russia And China To Change The World

By Paul Craig Roberts

February 08, 2019 “Information Clearing House” –     Nothing better illustrates Washington’s opposition to democracy and self-determination than the blatantly public coup Washington has organized against the properly elected president of Venezuela.

Washington has been trying to overthrow the Venezuelan government for years. Washington wants the state owned oil company to be privatized so that it can fall into the hands of US oil companies. That would ensure Washington’s control over Venezuela. Transferring the wealth out of the country would prevent any economic development from inside the country. Every aspect of the economy would end up in the hands of US corporations. The exploitation would be ruthless and brutal.

Venezuelans understand this, which is why Washington, despite wrecking the Venezuelan economy and offering enormous bribes to the Venezuelan military, has not yet been able to turn the people and the troops against Maduro.

Moon of Alabama’s explanation of Washington’s attack on Venezuela gives you a truer picture that differs completely from the lies voiced by the American and European politicians and presstitute media, a collection of whores who are devoid of all integrity and all morality and lie for their living.

I am not as confident as Moon of Alabama that Venezuela’s effort dating back to Chavez to be a sovereign country independent of Washington’s control can survive. Washington is determined to teach all of Latin America that it is pointless to dream of self-determination. Washington simply will not permit it.

Maduro, despite being the duly elected president with the mass of the people and military behind him, apparently lacks the power to arrest the American puppet who, despite the absence of any law or election as a basis, has declared himself to be president, thus creating a Washington-backed “government” as an alternative to the elected one. The inability of Maduro to defend democracy from within is a sign of the weakness of his office. How can Maduro possibly be a dictator when he is helpless in the face of open sedition?

If Russia and China quickly established a military presence in Venezuela to protect their loans and oil investments, Venezuela could be saved, and other countries that would like to be independent would take heart that, although there is no support for self-determination anywhere in the Western World, the former authoritarian countries will support it. Other assertions of independence would arise, and the Empire would collapse.

Venezuela is an opportunity for Russia and China to assume the leadership of the world, but I doubt the Russian and Chinese governments have the vision to seize the opportunity and, thereby, fundamentally change the world.

Putin is wasting his breath when he correctly criticizes Washington for its violations of international law. In Washington’s view, law is what serves American interest.

Here is Moon of Alabama’s analysis: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/51062.htm

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the WestHow America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

How Chrystia Freeland Organized Donald Trump’s Coup in Venezuela

How Chrystia Freeland Organized Donald Trump’s Coup in Venezuela

ERIC ZUESSE | 07.02.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

How Chrystia Freeland Organized Donald Trump’s Coup in Venezuela

On Monday, February 5th, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that the 14 countries of the Lima Group — who had actually formed themselves under her direction into this new group on 8 August 2017 in order to overthrow and replace Venezuela’s current President Nicholas Maduro — have now been joined (though she didn’t say to what extent) by the EU, and by 8 other individual countries. She stated:

“Today, we have been joined by our Lima Group partners, from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Saint Lucia. We have also been joined in our conversations with our partners from other countries, for this Lima Group ministerial meeting. These include Ecuador, the European Union, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.”

She, along with US President Donald Trump, had, all along, been the actual leaders of this international diplomatic effort, to violate the Venezuelan Constitution blatantly, so as to perpetrate the coup in Venezuela.

Her active effort to replace Venezuela’s Government began with her formation of the Lima Group, nearly two years ago.

Canada’s Ottawa Citizen headlined on 19 August 2017, “Choosing Danger”, and their reporter Peter Hum interviewed Canada’s Ambassador to Venezuela, Ben Rowswell, who was then retiring from the post. Rowswell said that Venezuelans who wanted an overthrow of their Government would continue to have the full support of Canada’s Government: “‘I think that some of them were sort of anx­ious that it (the em­bassy’s support for hu­man rights and democ­racy in Venezuela) might not con­tinue after I left,’ Rowswell said. ‘I don’t think they have any­thing to worry about be­cause Minister (of For­eign Af­fairs Chrys­tia) Free­land has Venezuela way at the top of her pri­or­ity list.’”

Maybe it wasn’t yet at the top of Trump’s list, but it was at the top of hers. And she and Trump together chose whom to replace Venezuela’s President, Nicholas Maduro, by: Juan Guaido. Guaido had secretly courted other Latin American leaders for this, just as Freeland had already done, by means of her secretly forming the Lima Group.

On 25 January 2019, the AP bannered “AP Exclusive: Anti-Maduro coalition grew from secret talks” and reported that the man who now claims to be Venezuela’s legitimate President (though he had never even run for that post), Juan Guaido, had secretly visited foreign countries in order to win their blessings for what he was planning:

In mid-December, Guaido quietly traveled to Washington, Colombia and Brazil to brief officials on the opposition’s strategy of mass demonstrations to coincide with Maduro’s expected swearing-in for a second term on Jan. 10 in the face of widespread international condemnation, according to exiled former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, an ally.

Playing a key role behind the scenes was Lima Group member Canada, whose Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to Guaido [9 January 2019] the night before Maduro’s swearing-in ceremony [on 10 January 2019] to offer her government’s support should he confront the socialist leader [Maduro], the Canadian official said. Also active was Colombia, which shares a border with Venezuela and has received more than two million migrants fleeing economic chaos, along with Peru and Brazil’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

To leave Venezuela, he sneaked across the lawless border with Colombia, so as not to raise suspicions among immigration officials who sometimes harass opposition figures at the airport and bar them from traveling abroad, said a different anti-government leader, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss security arrangements.

During the last days in office of Canada’s Ambassador to Venezuela Rowswell, US President Donald Trump went public with his overt threat to invade Venezuela. On 11 August 2017, McClatchy’s Miami Herald bannered “Trump was making friends in Latin America — before he raised Venezuela ‘military option’”, and Patricia Mazzei reported that “President Donald Trump’s unexpected suggestion Fridaythat he might rely on military force to deal with Venezuela’s pressing political crisis was an astonishing statement that strained not only credulity but also the White House’s hard-won new friendships in Latin America.” Even a spokesperson from the Atlantic Council (which is the main PR agency for NATO) was quoted as saying that “US diplomats, after weeks of carefully building the groundwork for a collective international response, suddenly find their efforts completely undercut by a ridiculously over the top and anachronistic assertion. It makes us look imperialistic and old-time. This is not how the US has behaved in decades!” However, Peru’s Foreign Minister, Ricardo Luna, was just as eager for a coup in Venezuela as were Trump and Freeland.

On 26 October 2017, Peru’s Gestion TV reported that Luna was the co-Chair of the meeting of the Lima Group in Toronto, which Freeland chaired, and that (as translated into English here) “Luna added that the objective of the meeting of the Group of Lima ‘is to create a propitious situation’ so that the regime of Nicolás Maduro ‘feels obligated to negotiate’ not only an exit to the crisis, ‘but also an exit to his own regime’.” This gang were going to make Maduro an offer that he couldn’t refuse. So, the Lima Group, which was founded by Luna and by Freeland, was taking the initiative as much and as boldly as Trump was, regardless of what NATO might think about it. The topic of that news-report, and its headline, was “Peru proposes Grupo de Lima to involve the UN to face the Venezuelan crisis.” Four days later, Freeland and Luna met privately at the UN, in New York, with the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. Inner City Press reported that “The title of the meeting is ‘the situation in Venezuela and efforts by regional organizations to resolve the crisis per Chapter VIII of the UN Charter’ [see it here] and the briefer will be not USG [Under Secretary General] Jeffrey Feltman but his Assistant, ASG [Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs] Miroslav Jenca.” Jeffrey Feltman was the person who, in the secretly recorded 27 January 2014 phone-conversation in which US President Barack Obama’s agent, Victoria Nuland — planning and overseeing the February 2014 coup that overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected President — instructed the US Ambassador to Ukraine, that, after Ukraine’s President is ousted, Arseniy “Yats” Yatsenyuk was to be appointed as Ukraine’s ‘interim’ leader as the new Prime Minister, to replace the President. She also said: “I talked to Jeff Feltman this morning; he had a new name for the UN guy Robert Serry. … He’s now gotten both Serry and Ban ki-Moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. That would be great, I think, to help glue this thing, and to have the UN help glue it, and, you know, fuck the EU.” So, the still Under Secretary General of the U.N, Mr. Feltman, is still America’s fixer there, who “glues” whatever the US President orders the UN to do, and his Assistant was filling in for him that day. Therefore, if Trump and Freeland turn out to be as successful as Obama was, then the UN will “glue” the outcome. Chrystia Freeland happens also to be a friend of Victoria Nuland, and a passionate supporter of her coup in Ukraine.

Freeland’s parents were Ukrainian and supported the Nazis during World War II. Cameron Pike headlined about Freeland at The Saker, on 2 February 2019, “Canada’s Nazi Problem” and opened:

In the 1960’s the Polish government, still reeling from their role as the main course of the European ‘meat-sandwich’ that was the second world war, went on the hunt for Nazi aiders and abettors who destroyed their people. Contrary to what mainstream readers are allowed to know, WWII Nazi and Waffen SS leaders, Goebbels’s publishers and editors (otherwise known as propagandists), willing and outright Nazi collaborators and vicious killers, made their way out of conquered Germany to the United States [under CIA direction] and to Canada, under MI-6 direction, [and Canada] took in 2000 of them. Most of them ‘made their way’ to Ontario and Alberta. One of them even became the President of the University of Alberta. I repeat, one of them EVEN BECAME THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA. … It was this former Waffen SS soldier-turned University President who created the Ukrainian Studies department at the U of A. … Michael Chomiak, another of these significant Nazis who were never caught, lived out his days after the war as a farmer in Alberta. His Nazi identification documents were uncovered by the Polish Government in the 1960’s. “Chomiak’s records show he was trained in Vienna for German espionage and propaganda operations, then promoted to run the German press machine for the Galician region of Ukraine and Poland during the 4-year occupation. So high-ranking and active in the Nazi cause was Chomiak that the Polish intelligence services were actively hunting for Chomiak until the 1980s – without knowing he had fled for safety to an Alberta farm in Canada.” [Editing note: Please see link for John Helmer’s extensive work on uncovering Freeland’s Nazi family history.] Poland was on the hunt but lost the trail because he was well hidden by their WWII ‘ally’, the British, unbeknownst to my fellow peaceful Canadians.

Chomiac was Chrystia Freeland’s father. Chrystia Freeland loves him very much and is unshakably loyal to his memory and to his far-right beliefs, which she proudly supports. She also is a close friend of George Soros, who likewise is entirely unembarrassed at, and unapologietic about, his having, as a supposed Christian child in Hungary, helped the Nazis take the property of other Jews, before they were sent off to the concentration camps. He chose to do that — help the Nazi regime — rather than die as a Jew himself. Of course, subsequently, he founded the rabidly anti-Russian Open Society Foundation and other political ‘charities’ to tax-exempt his global political donations. Soros, too, is a passionate supporter of the US coup in Ukraine and of Ukraine’s far-right, and helped to finance (tax-exempt via his International Renaissance Fund) Obama’s Ukrainian coup by being one of the three top donors to Hromadske TV, which propagandized for slaughtering at least one and a half million of the people in the far eastern region of Ukraine, where Obama’s imposed far-right Ukrainian government was totally rejected. It’s the region that had voted over 90% for the Ukrainian President whom Obama-Nuland overthrew, and George Soros was a top funder of such exterminationist propaganda. So, it’s reasonable that his fellow anti-Russian fanatic, Freeland, is a friend of his.

That’s the “liberal” side of fascism. The “conservative” side of it is represented by such people as John Bolton and the Koch brothers.

Of course, the man whom the US and Canadian regimes and the Lima Group are trying to install as Venezuela’s President, Juan Guaido, had been well groomed for that job, but not by political and electoral experience, of which he has almost none, but by his foreign sponsors. On 29 January 2019 the Gray Zone Project bannered “The Making of Juan Guaidó: How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader”, and their two star investigative journalists, Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal, opened: “Juan Guaidó is the product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers. While posing as a champion of democracy, he has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization.” This report also noted that “The ‘real work’ began two years later, in 2007, when Guaidó graduated from Andrés Bello Catholic University of Caracas. He moved to Washington, DC to enroll in the Governance and Political Management Program at George Washington University, under the tutelage of Venezuelan economist Luis Enrique Berrizbeitia, one of the top Latin American neoliberal economists. Berrizbeitia is a former executive director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) [and the IMF is a central part the operation that’s described in John Perkins’s now-classic Confessions of an Economic Hit Man] who spent more than a decade working in the Venezuelan energy sector, under the old oligarchic regime that was ousted by Chávez.” Moreover, ”Stratfor and CANVAS – key advisors of Guaidó and his anti-government cadre – devised a shockingly cynical plan to drive a dagger through the heart of the Bolivarian revolution. The scheme hinged on a 70% collapse of the country’s electrical system by as early as April 2010.” Etc. This is how ‘democracy’ now functions. It’s not democracy — it is fascism. The euphemisms for it are “neoliberalism” and “neoconservatism.”

Regardless of whether or not the Trump-Freeland-Luna program for Venezuela succeeds, democracy and human rights won’t be advanced by it; but, if it succeeds, the fortunes of US-and-allied billionaires will be. It’s part of their global privatization program.

PS: If you want to understand what was the historical context where Inner City Press reported that “The title of the meeting is ‘the situation in Venezuela and efforts by regional organizations to resolve the crisis per Chapter VIII of the UN Charter’”; then Luk Van Langenhove has summarized that context, by saying: “Few invocations of Chapter VIII’s provisions were made during the cold war period. But when the bipolar world system collapsed and spawned new global security threats, the explosion of local and regional armed conflicts provoked a renewed interest in regional organizations and their role in the maintenance of regional peace and security. The United Nations was forced to acknowledge its inability to solely bear the responsibility for providing peace and security worldwide.” So, “during the cold war period,” this provision of the UN Charter remained virtually inactive. Then, suddenly, after 1991, when the Soviet Union and its communism and its Warsaw Pact military alliance to counter America’s NATO military alliance, all ended (with no concessions being made on the American side), America could no longer use ‘communism’ as a ‘justification’ to invade or perpetrate coups against foreign governments that were friendly toward or else allied with Russia. So, now, this provision of the UN’s Charter became activated by the US and its allies, in order to be able to say that The West’s coups and invasions aren’t actually to build-out the US empire, but are instead for (in the terms of this part of the UN’s Charter) “the maintenance of international peace and security” — so as to ‘authorize’ coups and international invasions by the US and its vassal nations, such as are the members of NATO. This is what US President G.H.W. Bush had in mind to rely upon, when he told the leaders of the US regime’s vassal states, secretly at Camp David, on the night of 24 February 1990, that the ‘Cold War’ would now continue secretly on the US-allied side, against Russia and against any nation’s leaders (such as Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi, Bashar al-Assad, and Viktor Yanukovych) that aren’t hostile toward Russia, by Bush’s saying then to them, that no compromise must ever be allowed “with Moscow,” because “To hell with that! We prevailed, they didn’t.” In other words, whereas the UN had been set up by FDR to evolve ultimately into the global democratic federation of nation-states — a democratic world-government — so as to become the sole possessor of control over all strategic weaponry, and thus to become the democratic republic of the entire world authorized to settle international disputes peacefully, the subterranean Nazis and other fascists whom US President Truman and the Bilderberg group represented, were determined that the US and its vassal nations would ultimately become the dictatorship over all nations, the entire world. That’s what Ukraine, and now Venezuela, and many other US coups and invasions, are — and have been — really about. It’s about the ‘peace’ of the graveyard, NOT any democracy, anywhere at all.

That’s their dream. They want to monopolize the corruption everywhere, not to end it, anywhere. And that’s why they distort and blatantly lie about Venezuela’s democratic constitution now, just as they did about Ukraine’s democratic constitution in February 2014. It’s, essentially, a lawless international gang of billionaire thugs. It is the international Deep State. It consists of the under 2,000 people who are international billionaires in the US and secondarily in the US-allied countries, and of those billionaires’ millions of hirees. 585 of those under-2,000 are Americans. But the wealthiest person on the planet isn’t even listed on any of the standard lists of billionaires, and he is the King of Saudi Arabia. That person is the US aristocracy’s #1 international ally, because ever since the 1970s when gold no longer backed the US dollar but instead oil did, that person’s decisions have enabled the US dollar to continue as being the world’s reserve currency, no matter how big the US economy’s trade deficits are, and no matter how high the US Government’s fiscal deficits are.

Below those billionaires (and trillionaire), and below their millions of hirees, are the billions of serfs; and, below those, at the very bottom, are the approximately 40 million slaves, and the many millions imprisoned — virtually all of whom have extremely low (if any) net worth at all, since slavery and imprisonment are, in the real world, only for the very poor, not at all for the international gangsters, except for a very few exceptions (such as, perhaps, “El Chapo”).

The billionaires command, and the governments obey; that’s ‘democracy’, and it’s ‘the rule of law’, today. Everything to the contrary is propaganda, such as that what Trump-Freeland-Luna want for Venezuela is to decrease corruption and to increase democracy and human rights.

At least the more blatant fascist John Bolton was honest when he said on January 28th: “It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.” But he would have been lots more honest if he had acknowledged, instead, that “It will make a big difference to the United States billionaires economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.” This is all that the fascists ever really cared about. Mussolini called it “corporationism.” Now, decades in the wake of the Allies’ supposed ‘victory against fascism’ — against the Axis powers — in WW II, we all (at least the realists) are acknowledging that we clearly are staring in the face the raw fact that fascism has finally won, or at least very nearly totally won, in the world.

Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito, died; but their ideological followers today rule the world, and FDR would be turning in his grave.

Reporter’s Diary from Venezuela

February 08, 2019

Reporter’s Diary from Venezuela

Reporter’s Diary from Venezuela.

Georgy Zotov (author of AIF weekly)

This is the personal view of the correspondent on today’s life of Caracas.

Translated by Scott

 

Day one…

Our Air France flight was grounded in Paris for 5 hours; no one wants to land in Venezuela in the middle of the night, due to the “dangerous criminal situation.” The airliner is half empty, the passengers, judging by nervous conversations, are only Venezuelans. A taxi driver, while leaving the airport, locks the doors, and sweetly warns that after dark, bandits scatter spikes on the roads and rob the stranded cars. “Oh, don’t worry, Amigo, I have an old car. They are not interested in old, cars.” That’s where you understand why Caracas is ranked first in the ranking of the most dangerous cities in the world. It’s too late for supper, but I at least want to exchange my US dollars for Venezuelan bolivars. I ask my cab driver. He violently shakes his head: “No, no, no. I do not mess with such things, it’s illegal!” “Whatever,” I laugh at him. “Tomorrow, someone will take the dollars, maybe even with my hands torn off.” I was wrong…

The following morning, no one at the hotel wants to look at my dollars. The hotel employee tells me to go to one of the official “exchange stores” but honestly adds: “only Americans, or complete jerks go there.”

In Venezuela, the official dollar exchange rate is 200 bolivars, and the “black market” exchange rate is 2,715. And if you exchange your currency in a bank, then according to this calculation, a bottle of ordinary water will cost 330 rubles, and a modest lunch in an inexpensive cafe—7,000 rubles per person. Judging by the stories on the Internet, in Venezuelan people should simply kill each other for dollars, but this is not the case. There is also other things different from perception. On western news, it is shown that demonstrators fight with police daily, tens killed, hundreds wounded, the sea of blood. But in Caracas, all is quiet. In an afternoon, people are sitting in cafes and idly sipping rum with ice, while maintenance crews sweep the streets. It turns out that the world ‘s leading TV new sources (including CNN and the BBC) show some fantasy film about Venezuela. “Demonstrations?” yawns Alejandro, a street vendor selling corn. “Well, Saturday there will be one, sort of. On one end of the city will be a rally of opposition supporters, and on the other, Maduro supporters. The police keep them separate to prevent fights.” Amazing. You browse the Internet, you turn on the TV, and you see the revolution, the people dying on streets to overthrow the “evil dictator Maduro.” And you come here, and nobody cares.

Then it got even better. Never in my life have I had so many adventures while trying to exchange one currency for another. The country has a problem with cash money, long queues waiting for the ATM, and even the street dealers of “currency” have no “efectivo,” as they call cash. I wander inside a jewelry store and ask if they want some “green.” The answer is “No.” Everyone acts like law-abiding citizens. I am told that police recently started arresting people for private exchange, that’s why people don’t want to associate. One owner of the jewelry store almost agrees. “What do you have? Dollars? No, I won’t take that.” “Why now?” “I take only the Euros …dollar, man, is the currency of the aggressor, they try to tell us how to live!”

Damn it! I have money in my pocket, and I can’t even buy lunch! Finally, a certain woman, nursing a baby in a workplace, very reluctantly agrees to exchange 2,200 bolivars for a “buck.” I want to curse her out, but I have to live somehow. Bolivars seem like a beautiful, unattainable currency, which hides all the benefits of the world, that’s why they are so hard to get. I’m nodding in agreement. The woman calls somewhere, and asks to wait. After 15 minutes she tells me that “there is a problem.” Of course, money is not to be found. Her man couldn’t withdraw them from the ATM, everywhere the ATMs are on a strict daily rate. “President Maduro is fighting for the strengthening of the national currency,” explained the nursing mother. “We all use our cards to pay for everything.” I don’t know how it works, but yesterday an exchange rate was 3,200 bolívars for 1 dollar, and today the “bucks” fell to 2,700. I have started to realize that in the very next few days I’ll starve to death with dollars in my pocket. A unique fate, perhaps, that has never happen in history.

In the next kiosk cash for gold place I am offered a plastic debit card loaded with local money, and then I would try my luck withdrawing bills from neighboring ATMs. “Or, maybe not, if you’re not lucky.” Well, of course. By the way, an attempt to buy a SIM card for the phone also fails. They don’t sell them to foreigners, you need a Venezuelan ID card. Yes, and I have nothing to pay for it. The feeling is that the dollar is a gift that no one wants. Sadly, I walk by stores. People come out of there with packages of eggs, bread, packs of butter. The range is not like in Moscow, of course, but again, if you believe the news on TV, Venezuela is suffering from a terrible famine, supermarkets are empty, and people are fighting each other for food. Nothing like that. There are queues, but not kilometers long. In general, television stations in the United States and Europe (and ours too) created their own Venezuela, drawn like a terrible cartoon. I walk into a cafe at random. “Will you accept dollars for lunch?” I ask hopelessly. “Yes, at the rate of “black market” they whispered to me. “But the change will also be in dollars…sorry, no bolivars at all…we’ve been hunting for them ourselves for weeks.”

My first day in Venezuela is over. How unusual. I’ve been here for 24 hours, and I’ve not held a Bolivian bill in my hand. Oh, but there will be more…

 

Day two…

60 liters of gasoline here cost five cents, and a basket of basic food products — 50 rubles (about 90 cents).

“The gas station,” my driver reaches into his purse and takes out a banknote of 2 Bolivar. The exchange rate of the Venezuelan currency changes every day, and today it is 2 580 bolivars per one dollar. In Russian money, that is 10 cents. “We must now fill a full tank,” says the taxi driver. 60 liters of gasoline cost 1 bolívar, but we give the 2 bolivars bill, because there is no 1 bolivar bill.  I can’t believe that is a full tank of fuel costs FIVE CENTS? “And how much can you even fill at this price?” “Once a day for every citizen. And it’s enough for me.” All the way to the center city, the driver scolds President Maduro, and tells me how much he loves America, and how it will be good when the “guy with mustache” is finally overthrow by the Americans. I start to think that I don’t feel sorry for Maduro at all. He really corrupted en entire country with such generous handouts. And they are willingly take, but no one says “thank you,” just that they want more and more.

On the street there is a long line into a “social supermarket,” a place you can buy 400 types of goods at the solid low prices. These shops were established by the late President Hugo Chavez “to fight inflation and protect the poor.” The stores are funded by the Venezuelan government. The buyer comes with a passport, gets a number, and waits in line until they are allowed to enter and buy a certain set of products. The selection isn’t very impressive, only the essentials: chicken, bananas, pineapples, sausages, milk. A box of these food items costs of equivalent of 50 rubles. CNN and the BBC show videos of Venezuelans wrapped in rolls of toilet paper and sadly wandering across the border with Colombia. The toilet paper is found in absolutely every store, and without any problems. I am once again simply amazed: Western TV news is something from Hollywood, they are not reporting but making fantasy blockbusters. On the BBC website I read that hungry Venezuelan children after school go to take a look at the street vendors cooking meat. I’ve been all over the town. Restaurants, cafes, eateries, during the lunch hour are crowded, and people look well-dressed. The mass hunger, the Western media paints for us, doesn’t exist in reality.

I take a few pictures inside the supermarket, and I am immediately approached by the workers or “Maduro followers.” “It’s forbidden to take pictures here.” “Is this a military facility?” “Leave or we’ll call the police.” “Listen, everywhere on TV they tell us that there is hunger in Venezuela. I want to prove that the reality is different.” “We are not interested, we just work here: leave immediately!” I started to understand perfectly well why Nicolas Maduro lost the information war. Hugo Chavez was often praised even in private conversations, but even Chavez supporters find little positive to say about Maduro.  When people protested against Hugo’s endless nominations as the head of state, he used to meet them with the open arms, smiling and saying : “Guys, what’s the problem? I’m your President, I love you, let’s sit down and talk!” Maduro doesn’t have this image of being one of the guys. He is not able to communicate with the public, and his assistants, like the employees of the social store, can only push and ban and threaten with the police.

On the streets, provincial farmers sell fruits and vegetables: mango, tomatoes, cucumbers. All about the same price of 25 rubles per kilogram. Here, a dozen eggs from street vendors is 4,800 bolivars or about 130 rubles, and that is not cheap. During the peak of oil prices, when a barrel of oil was sold for $150, Venezuela lived on the principle of a rich fool. To develop domestic production? No, what is that nonsense?  We can buy every triviality abroad. Even the managers of the oil production weren’t local, they hired specialists from Europe, and paid them a lot of money. Food imports into the country reached 95 percent. And now the situation is not too different. When I order my meal in a cafe (incidentally, still paying in dollars, all attempts to change dollars to bolivars failed), I get excellent pork. “Where is it from?” “From Colombia.” “And chicken?” “From Brazil, that’s why it’s so expensive.” Even flour for bread comes from neighboring Guyana. Chavez and his successor Maduro wanted to be “people’s presidents,” handing out money left and right. But then oil prices collapsed, food shortages began, and people rebelled. People demand as before: cheap food in supermarkets, gasoline for nothing, and they don’t want to hear anything more or less.

“Chavez was a great guy!” says a fan of the former president, 75-year-old Raul Romero, dressed in a red “chavist” shirt. “Maduro is nothing like him! There is speculators on the streets, he does nothing. In his time, Chavez arrested the dealers raising food  prices, closed their shops, confiscated land from landowners, and gave it to the people. We need a firm hand, a real dictatorship!”

In the TV world, Maduro is portrayed as a dictator and executioner, although in Venezuela, he is openly scolded for being meek; they draw cartoon of him, and insult him as much as they can. But who cares about the truth? Much more colorful to show the suffering for the toilet paper.

Day three…

“I got robbed by a COP for my phone. I’m talking on the cell phone outside, he walks over to me, pokes in my side with his gun. “Give me your mobile.”I don’t understand immediately, and automatically continue the conversation. He cocks his gun, and says, “Kill.” I give him my phone. It’s still good, I love being robbed by cops. They are not bandits from the “Barrios,” the poor neighborhoods in the mountains, who can shoot you first and then rummage your corpse’s pockets. I’m lucky, I’ve lived in Venezuela for 27 years and this was the first time I was “hop-stopped.” A lot of people get robbed every year.

I am talking to Mikhail, a citizen of Russia living in Venezuela since the beginning of the nineties. He helps me move around Caracas and instructs me on how to visit the local slums.

“You don’t have protection? Oh, who would doubt that. Then leave your watch, phone, and camera at the hotel. Take some money for a taxi, you also have to have some cash in case you get ambushed, otherwise they might get offended and kill you. Sometimes, people get shot in an arm and a leg, that survivable.”

After such a nice story, I still go to the “Barrios.” It is there that the supporters of President Nicolas Maduro mainly live. According to CNN and BBC, impoverished people in Venezuela are revolting against the government. Nothing can be further from the truth; it’s a wealthy middle class that goes to demonstrate. Maduro is applauded in poor neighborhoods, because the President gives their residents free food sets enough for a month and gives free (!) apartments. Formally, they belong to the state, but people live in them for generations.

“I will cut a throat for the President,” a heavily-tattooed man smiles menacingly, and introduces himself as Emilio. “Who else would give me food and a ‘roof ‘ for free? He is our father and benefactor.” Maduro deliberately does not touch such people, which is why crime in Caracas gushes over the edge. I am advised not to stop on the street to look at anything, but just to keep going, otherwise bandits will have time to look closely at me. That’s why they have constant robberies on the streets, plus the police and the national guard can easily take away your favorite things. No one can be happy about all these. “I love Russians,” told me the businessman Carlos while conversing over coffee near the Plaza de Bolivar. “But you’d better send Maduro economic advisers. Teach him a lesson! He doesn’t know anything about economy. He has one recipe for everything, to give more money to the poor, more free apartments, free food, free gasoline, to build a full communism here. But with this, sorry, any state would collapse.”

The opposition rally in the Western part of Caracas is huge, at least 100 thousand people gathered. The protesters are friendly to me, Russia here is respected. It is not considered an enemy. Zero aggression at all… and then I  wonder about what I see on CNN, videos of the opposition being rolled into a pancake by tanks. The police keep the neutrality, it disappears from the streets, to not give a cause to provocateurs. People are happily waving flying in the sky military helicopter. Many-in t-shirts with the American flag, a man passes by, holding a hand-written poster with the altered slogan of Donald Trump -“Make Venezuela great again.” “Do you love the U.S.?” “Yes, adore it!” “I remember you already had a pro-American President in 1993, Carlos Andrés Pérez. He sharply raised the price of gasoline, 80% of the goods were imported, he drove the republic into billions of IMF debts. People went to demonstrations, and Pérez drowned them in blood, killing 2,000 people…then he fled to America.”

The man freezes, with his mouth open. Finally, he gets the gift of speech back. “I hope this time the pro-American President will be different.” “Are you sure?” “Sorry, I have nothing to say.” Asking the girl from the opposition how she feels about the US: “The US is our neighbor, let them change the power here.” “In countries where the US changed power like Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands people were killed. Are you ready for this?”

Again, she pauses and sighs.

“No, no, no. We are not Africa or Asia. All will go peacefully. Venezuelans will not kill each other.”

Where the opinions splits is the question of whether the free gasoline and free food packages will remain with an American-instilled government. Many are sincerely sure that the “freebies” will remain under a new president. How else? The minority that recognizes that state gifts will be canceled say that they at least “we will be free.” As I said, the protesters are mostly well-dressed, well-off people. By the way, the leader of the opposition, Juan Guido, also has no real economic program promising to “quadruple the oil production.” No one thinks that after that price will fall four times. In short, I get a feeling that neither the President, nor the opposition, know anything about the economy in Venezuela.

The demonstrations in support of Maduro take place at the other end of the city, to prevent the opponents from fighting. “You Americans are insolent!” screamed an old woman in a red t-shirt rushing towards me. “Bastards! You should be handed on a first tree! Cheers to socialism!” “I’m Russian, grandma.” The old lady recoils.  “Sorry, please.” “Don’t get that upset, senora.” Many people gathered here are joyful, dancing and singing.

A soldiers stands in front of me and doesn’t allow me to take any pictures. Not just me, but also other passers-by. “You can’t take pictures here.” “Says who?” “President Maduro.” No, Maduro is definitely doing everything he can to be disliked. Those gathering here are poor, blue-collared workers and farmers from the suburbs. I am interested , honestly, were you brought here on the busses? “Yes, he did!” says one grandfather, proudly displaying a portrait of Che Guevara. “But I would walk here for Maduro! It’s a lie that we were paid to be here.” Other people applaud him happily. I shake hands. “Russians are welcome! Venezuela loves you, you’re home.”

The day of rallies is over. The maintenance crews came to the sidewalk, strewn with plastic bottles, crumpled packs of cigarettes, and other debris left after by a cloud. At the entrance of an old house, old people drink coffee. “They say that today some general has defected to the side of the opposition,” says one of them. “Some significant person.” “What’s this guy’s name?” “Who knows?” Venezuela is split in half. And the situation there may change at any moment.

What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela — A Case of News-Suppression

February 07, 2019

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela — A Case of News-Suppression

INTRODUCTION

This news-report is being submitted to all U.S. and allied news-media, and is being published by all honest ones, in order to inform you of crucial facts that the others — the dishonest ones, who hude such crucial facts — are hiding about Venezuela. These are facts that have received coverage only in one single British newspaper: the Independent, which published a summary account of them on January 26th. That newspaper’s account will be excerpted here at the end, but first will be highlights from its topic, the official report to the U.N. General Assembly in August of last year, which has been covered-up ever since. This is why that report’s author has now gone to the Independent, desperate to get the story out, finally, to the public:

THE COVERED-UP DOCUMENT

On 3 August 2018, the U.N.’s General Assembly received the report from the U.N.s Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, concerning his mission to Venezuela and Ecuador. His recent travel though both countries focused on “how best to enhance the enjoyment of all human rights by the populations of both countries.” He “noted the eradication of illiteracy, free education from primary school to university, and programmes to reduce extreme poverty, provide housing to the homeless and vulnerable, phase out privilege and discrimination, and extend medical care to everyone.” He noted “that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Ecuador, both devote around 70 per cent of their national budgets to social services.” However (and here, key paragraphs from the report are now quoted):

22. Observers have identified errors committed by the Chávez and Maduro Governments, noting that there are too many ideologues and too few technocrats in public administration, resulting in government policies that lack coherence and professional management and discourage domestic investment, already crippled by inefficiency and corruption, which extend to government officials, transnational corporations and entrepreneurs. Critics warn about the undue influence of the military on government and on the running of enterprises like Petróleos de Venezuela. The lack of regular, publicly available data on nutrition, epidemiology and inflation are said to complicate efforts to provide humanitarian support.

23. Meanwhile, the Attorney General, Tarek Saab, has launched a vigorous anticorruption campaign, investigating the links between Venezuelan enterprises and tax havens, contracting scams, and deals by public officials with Odebrecht. It is estimated that corruption in the oil industry has cost the Government US$ 4.8 billion. The Attorney General’s Office informed the Independent Expert of pending investigations for embezzlement and extortion against 79 officials of Petróleos de Venezuela, including 22 senior managers. The Office also pointed to the arrest of two high-level oil executives, accused of money-laundering in Andorra. The Ministry of Justice estimates corruption losses at some US$ 15 billion. Other stakeholders, in contrast, assert that anti-corruption programmes are selective and have not sufficiently targeted State institutions, including the military. …

29. … Over the past sixty years, non-conventional economic wars have been waged against Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in order to make their economies fail, facilitate regime change and impose a neo-liberal socioeconomic model. In order to discredit selected governments, failures in the field of human rights are maximized so as to make violent overthrow more palatable. Human rights are being “weaponized” against rivals. Yet, human rights are the heritage of every human being and should never be instrumentalized as weapons of demonization. …

30. The principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States belong to customary international law and have been reaffirmed in General Assembly resolutions, notably [a list is supplied]. …

31. In its judgment of 27 June 1986 concerning Nicaragua v. United States, the International Court of Justice quoted from [U.N.] resolution 2625 (XXV): “no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State”. …

36. The effects of sanctions imposed by Presidents Obama and Trump and unilateral measures by Canada and the European Union have directly and indirectly aggravated the shortages in medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. To the extent that economic sanctions have caused delays in distribution and thus contributed to many deaths, sanctions contravene the human rights obligations of the countries imposing them.Moreover, sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An investigation by that Court would be appropriate, but the geopolitical submissiveness of the Court may prevent this.

37. Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns with the intention of forcing them to surrender. Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees. A difference, perhaps, is that twenty-first century sanctions are accompanied by the manipulation of public opinion through “fake news”, aggressive public relations and a pseudo-human rights rhetoric so as to give the impression that a human rights “end” justifies the criminal means. …

39. Economic asphyxiation policies are comparable to those already practised in Chile, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua and the Syrian Arab Republic. In January 2018, Middle East correspondent of The Financial Times and The Independent, Patrick Cockburn, wrote on the sanctions affecting Syria:

There is usually a pretence that foodstuffs and medical equipment are being allowed through freely and no mention is made of the financial and other regulatory obstacles making it impossible to deliver them. An example of this is the draconian sanctions imposed on Syria by the US and EU which were meant to target President Bashar al-Assad and help remove him from power. They have wholly failed to do this, but a UN internal report leaked in 2016 shows all too convincingly the effect of the embargo in stopping the delivery of aid by international aid agencies. They cannot import the aid despite waivers because banks and commercial companies dare not risk being penalised for having anything to do with Syria. The report quotes a European doctor working in Syria as saying that “the indirect effect of sanctions … makes the import of the medical instruments and other medical supplies immensely difficult, near impossible”. In short: economic sanctions kill. …

41. Bearing in mind that Venezuelan society is polarized, what is most needed is dialogue between the Government and the opposition, and it would be a noble task on the part of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to offer his good offices for such a dialogue. Yet, opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Julio Borges, during a trip through Europe to denounce the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called for further sanctions as well as a military “humanitarian intervention”. …

44. Although the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has not yet reached the humanitarian crisis threshold, there is hunger, malnutrition, anxiety, anguish and emigration. What is crucial is to study the causes of the crisis, including neglected factors of sanctions, sabotage, hoarding, black market activities, induced inflation and contraband in food and medicines.

45. The “crisis” in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is an economic crisis, which cannot be compared with the humanitarian crises in Gaza, Yemen, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Haiti, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, or Myanmar, among others. It is significant that when, in 2017, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela requested medical aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the plea was rejected, because it ”is still a high-income country … and as such is not eligible”. …

46. It is pertinent to recall the situation in the years prior to the election of Hugo Chávez. 118 Corruption was ubiquitous and in 1993, President Carlos Pérez was removed because of embezzlement. The Chávez election in 1998 reflected despair with the corruption and neo-liberal policies of the 1980s and 1990s, and rejection of the gulf between the super-rich and the abject poor.

47. Participatory democracy in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called “protagónica”, is anchored in the Constitution of 1999 and relies on frequent elections and referendums. During the mission, the Independent Expert exchanged views with the Electoral Commission and learned that in the 19 years since Chávez, 25 elections and referendums had been conducted, 4 of them observed by the Carter Center. The Independent Expert met with the representative of the Carter Center in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who recalled Carter’s positive assessment of the electoral system. They also discussed the constitutional objections raised by the opposition to the referendum held on 30 July 2017, resulting in the creation of a Constitutional Assembly. Over 8 million Venezuelans voted in the referendum, which was accompanied by international observers, including from the Council of Electoral Specialists of Latin America.

48. An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking him not to proceed because he was not the “relevant” rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a “fake investigation”. Social media insults bordered on “hate speech” and “incitement”. Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert’s integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures. …

67. The Independent Expert recommends that the General Assembly: (g) Invoke article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations and refer the following questions to the International Court of Justice: Can unilateral coercive measures be compatible with international law? Can unilateral coercive measures amount to crimes against humanity when a large number of persons perish because of scarcity of food and medicines? What reparations are due to the victims of sanctions? Do sanctions and currency manipulations constitute geopolitical crimes? (h) Adopt a resolution along the lines of the resolutions on the United States embargo against Cuba, declaring the sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela contrary to international law and human rights law. …

70. The Independent Expert recommends that the International Criminal Court investigate the problem of unilateral coercive measures that cause death from malnutrition, lack of medicines and medical equipment. …

72. The Independent Expert recommends that, until the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court address the lethal outcomes of economic wars and sanctions regimes, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, the Russell Tribunal and the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission undertake the task so as to facilitate future judicial pronouncements.

On January 26th, Britain’s Independent headlined “Venezuela crisis: Former UN rapporteur says US sanctions are killing citizens”, and Michael Selby-Green reported that:

The first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years has told The Independent the US sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to “crimes against humanity” under international law.

Former special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who finished his term at the UN in March, has criticized the US for engaging in “economic warfare” against Venezuela which he said is hurting the economy and killing Venezuelans.

The comments come amid worsening tensions in the country after the US and UK have backed Juan Guaido, who appointed himself “interim president” of Venezuela as hundreds of thousands marched to support him. …

The US Treasury has not responded to a request for comment on Mr de Zayas’s allegations of the effects of the sanctions programme.

US sanctions prohibit dealing in currencies issued by the Venezuelan government. They also target individuals, and stop US-based companies or people from buying and selling new debt issued by PDVSA or the government.

The US has previously defended its sanctions on Venezuela, with a senior US official saying in 2018: “The fact is that the greatest sanction on Venezuelan oil and oil production is called Nicolas Maduro, and PDVSA’s inefficiencies,” referring to the state-run oil body, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA.

Mr De Zayas’s findings are based on his late-2017 mission to the country and interviews with 12 Venezuelan government minsters, opposition politicians, 35 NGOs working in the country, academics, church officials, activists, chambers of commerce and regional UN agencies.

The US imposed new sanctions against Venezuela on 9 March 2015, when President Barack Obama issued executive order 13692, declaring the country a threat to national security.

The sanctions have since intensified under Donald Trump, who has also threatened military invasion and discussed a coup. …

Despite being the first UN official to visit and report from Venezuela in 21 years, Mr de Zayas said his research into the causes of the country’s economic crisis has so far largely been ignored by the UN and the media, and caused little debate within the Human Rights Council.

He believes his report has been ignored because it goes against the popular narrative that Venezuela needs regime change. …

The then UN high commissioner, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit, and the Venezuela desk of the UN Human Rights Council also declined to help with his work after his return despite being obliged to do so, Mr de Zayas claimed. …

Ivan Briscoe, Latin America and Caribbean programme director for Crisis Group, an international NGO, told The Independent that Venezuela is a polarising subject. … Briscoe is critical of Mr de Zayas’s report because it highlights US economic warfare but in his view neglects to mention the impact of a difficult business environment in the country. … Briscoe acknowledged rising tensions and the likely presence of US personnel operating covertly in the country. …

Eugenia Russian, president of FUNDALATIN, one of the oldest human rights NGOs in Venezuela, founded in 1978 before the Chavez and Maduro governments and with special consultative status at the UN, spoke to The Independent on the significance of the sanctions.

In contact with the popular communities, we consider that one of the fundamental causes of the economic crisis in the country is the effect that the unilateral coercive sanctions that are applied in the economy, especially by the government of the United States,” Ms Russian said.

She said there may also be causes from internal errors, but said probably few countries in the world have suffered an “economic siege” like the one Venezuelans are living under. …

In his report, Mr de Zayas expressed concern that those calling the situation a “humanitarian crisis” are trying to justify regime change and that human rights are being “weaponised” to discredit the government and make violent overthrow more “palatable”….

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and an abundance of other natural resources including gold, bauxite and coltan. But under the Maduro government they’re not easily accessible to US and transnational corporations.

US oil companies had large investments in Venezuela in the early 20th century but were locked out after Venezuelans voted to nationalise the industry in 1973.

Other than readers of that single newspaper, where has the public been able to find these facts? If the public can have these facts hidden from them, then how much trust should the public reasonably have in the government, and in the news-media?

(NOTE: Zeid Raad Al Hussein, who “reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit,” is Prince Zeid Raad Al Hussein, a Jordanian Prince. Jordan is a vassal-state in the U.S. empire. But Prince Hussein is a Jordanian diplomat who served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018 — hardly an unbiased or independent person in such a supposedly nonpartisan role.)

(NOTE: Here is the garbage that a reader comes to, who is trying to find online Mr. de Zayas’s report on this matter: https://documents-dds-ny.un.. As intended, the document remains effectively hidden to the present day. Perhaps the U.N. needs to be replaced and located in Venezuela, Iran, or some other country that’s targeted for take-over by the people who effectively own the United States Government and control the U.N.’s bureaucracy. The hiding of this document was done not only by the press but by the U.N. itself.)

(NOTE: On January 23rd, Germany’s Die Zeit headlined

“Christoph Flügge: ‘I am deeply disturbed’: The U.N. International Criminal Court Judge Christoph Flügge Accuses Western Nations of Threatening the Independence of the Judges”. Flügge especially cited U.S. President Trump’s agent, John Bolton. That same day, the Democratic Party and Labour Party organ, Britain’s Guardian, bannered “International criminal court: UN court judge quits The Hague citing political interference”. This news-report said that, “A senior judge has resigned from one of the UN’s international courts in The Hague citing ‘shocking’ political interference from the White House and Turkey.” The judge especially criticised Bolton: “The American security adviser held his speech at a time when The Hague was planning preliminary investigations into American soldiers who had been accused of torturing people in Afghanistan. The American threats against international judges clearly show the new political climate. It is shocking. I had never heard such a threat.” Flügge said that the judges on the court had been “stunned” that “the US would roll out such heavy artillery”. Flügge told the Guardian: “It is consistent with the new American line: ‘We are No 1 and we stand above the law’.”)

—————

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

 

Venezuela – The Straw that Breaks the Empire’s Back?

February 07, 2019

by Peter Koenig for The Saker Blog

Venezuela – The Straw that Breaks the Empire’s Back?

Venezuela in the limelight, on practically all the written, audio and visual mainstream media, as well as alternative media. A purposeful constant drip of outright lies and half-truths, “fake news”, as well as misleading information of all shades and hues about Venezuela is drumming our brains, slowly bending our minds towards believing that – yes, the US has a vital interest in meddling in Venezuela and bringing about “regime change”, because of primarily, the huge reserves of oil, but also of gold, coltan and other rare minerals; and, finally, simply because Washington needs full control of its “backyard”. – BUT, and yes, there is a huge BUT, as even some of the respected progressive alternative media pretend to know: Amidst all that recognition of the AngloZionist empire’s evil hands in Venezuela, their ‘but’ claims that Venezuela, specifically Presidents Chavez and now Maduro, are not blameless in their ‘economic chaos’. This distorts already the entire picture and serves the empire and all those who are hesitant because they have no clue, whom to support in this antagonistic US attempt for regime change.

For example, one alternative news article starts, “It is true that some of Venezuela’s economic problems are due to the ineptitudes of the Bolivarian government’s “socialist command” economy, but this overlooks the role played by the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union….”. Bingo, with such a low-blow beginning, the uninformed reader is already primed to ‘discount’ much of the interference by Washington and its minions. Some of the-so-called progressive writers have already been brain-smeared, by calling Nicolás Maduro a “dictator”, when in fact, there is hardly any country farther away from a dictatorship than Venezuela.

In the last 20 years and since Comandante Hugo Chavez Frias was first elected in 1998 and came to power in 1999, Venezuela had another 25 fully democratic elections, of which 6 took place in the last year and a half. They were all largely observed by the US based Carter Institute, the Latin American CELAC, some were even watched by the European Union (EU), the very vassal states that are now siding with Washington in calling President Maduro an illegitimate dictator – and instead, they side with and support the real illegitimate, never elected, US trained and appointed, Juan Guaidó. Former President Carter once said, of all the elections he and his Institute observed, the ones in Venezuela were by far the most transparent and democratic ones. By September 2017, the Carter Center had observed 104 elections in 39 countries.

Despite this evidence, Washington-paid and corrupted AngloZionist MSM are screaming and spreading lies, ‘election fraud’; and Nicolás Maduro is illegal, a dictator, oppressing his people, depriving them of food and medication, sowing famine – he has to go. Such lies are repeated at nauseatum. In a world flooded by pyramid-dollars (fake money), the presstitute media have no money problem. Dollars, the funding source for the massive lie-propaganda, are just printed as debt, never to be repaid again. So, why worry? The same Zionists who control the media also control the western money machines, i.e. the FED, Wall Street, the BIS (Bank for International Settlement, the so-called Central bank of central banks), the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the banks of London. The western public, armchair warriors, all the way to caviar socialists, believe these lies. That’s how our unqualified brains apparently work.

A recent independent poll found that 86% of all Venezuelans, including from the opposition, want no interference by the US and her puppet allies, but want to remain a sovereign state, deciding themselves on how to resolve their internal problem – economics and otherwise.

Let me tell you something, if Mr. Maduro would be a dictator – and all the diabolical adjectives that he is smeared with were to apply, he would have long ago stopped the western propaganda machine, which is the western controlled media in Venezuela; they control 90% of the news in Venezuela. But he didn’t and doesn’t, because he believes in freedom of speech and freedom of the ‘media’ – even if the “media” are really nothing more than abject western lie-machines presstitute. Mr. Maduro is generous enough not to close them down – which any dictator – of which there are now many in Latin America (take a pick: Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guatemala, Honduras….) would have done long ago.

***

From the very beginning, when Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1998, Washington attempted to topple him to bring about “régime change”. The first real coup attempt took place on 11 April 2002. Under full command by Washington, Chavez was ousted for less than 2 days, when an on-swell of people and the vast majority of the military requested his reinstatement. Chavez was brought back from his island seclusion and, thus, the directly Washington-led coup d’état was defeated (“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”). But the pressure mounted with economic sanctions becoming ever bolder and, in the case of Venezuela, they had severe economic and humanitarian impacts because Venezuela imports close to 90% of her food and medication – still today – and most of it from the US.

Both Chavez and Maduro had very little leeway of doing differently what they have already done. Sanctions, boycotts, outside money manipulations, driving inflation to astronomical levels and constant smear propaganda, these predicaments are biting hard. The US has a firm grip on Venezuela’s dollar dependency.

Last week, Washington confiscated about US$ 23 billion Venezuela’s reserve money in US banks, blocked them from use by the legitimate Maduro government, and, instead, handed them to their US-appointed, puppet, never elected, “president”, Juan Guaidó. – He is now able to use Venezuela’s money in his US-EU-and Lima-Group supported “shadow” government. Will he dare? – I don’t think so. However, he has already invited US petro, companies to come to Venezuela and invest in and take over the petrol industry. Of course, it will not happen, as President Maduro stays in power, firmly backed by the military.

All of this sounds like a bad joke. Did you ever heard of Juan Guaidó, before the US and her European vassals almost unanimously and obediently aped Washington in supporting him?

Likewise, the Bank of England withheld 1.2 billion dollars’ worth of Venezuelan reserve gold, refusing to respond to the Maduro Government’s request to return the gold to Caracas. Both cases represent an extreme breach of confidence. Up to now, it was ethically, commercially and financially unthinkable that reserve money and gold deposited in foreign banks would not be safe from hooligan theft – because that’s what it is, what the US is doing, stealing other countries money that was deposited in good fate in their banks.

In a recent interview with RT, President Maduro, said there was absolutely no need for “humanitarian aid”, as the UN suggested, prompted by the US. This so-called humanitarian aid has everywhere in the world only served to infiltrate ‘foreign and destabilizing’ elements into countries, just look at Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, to name just a few. While the US$ 23 billion blocked in New York banks could have supplied Venezuela with 20 years-worth of medication for the Venezuelan people, Maduro asserted, Venezuela has enough liquidity to feed and medicate her people.

However, what this latest Trump plunder (the money and gold confiscation) does, is hammering one more nail in the western monetary system’s suicide coffin. It sends an ever-clearer signal to the rest of the world, to those that haven’t noticed yet, the AngloZionist empire cannot – I repeat – CANNOT – be trusted. Ever. And the European Union is intrinsically and “vassalically” linked to the Washington rogue state – not to be trusted either. There is virtually no circumstance under which a countries’ assets in western foreign lands – as bank deposits, or foreign investments – are safe. It will prompt a move away from the dollar system, away from the western (also entirely privately-owned) SWFT international transfer system by which sanctions can be enacted.

Indeed, the Russia and China and much of the SCO (Shanghai Organization Cooperation) members are no longer dealing in US dollars but in their own currencies. We are talking about half the world’s population broke free from the dollar hegemony. Europe has started a half-assed attempt to circumvent the dollar and SWIFT system for dealing with Iran. Europe’s special purpose vehicle, or SPV, is called INSTEX — short for Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges. It is a project of Germany, France and the UK, suspiciously chaired by the latter, to be endorsed by all 28 EU members.

It aims in a first instance at shipping “humanitarian aid” to Iran. Similarly, to Venezuela, Iran’s foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, after learning about the details, considered the conditions of INSTEX as insulting and rejected any dealings with Europe under this system. Iran, he said, does not need “humanitarian aid”, not from Europe, not from anybody. In the meantime, what was to be expected, has already happened. The Trump Administration issued a stern warning of “sanctions” to the EU, if they would attempt to deal with Iran outside of the dollar system. Europe is likely caving in, as they always do.

***

Back in Venezuela, the NED (National Endowment for Democracy), the extended arm of the CIA, has for the last two decades trained funded and infiltrated ‘traitor’ agents into Venezuela, with the goal to assist the opposition to foment unrest, to carry out assassinations and other ‘false flags’, and to simply create chaos and unrest. However, some of these agents are also lodged in Venezuela’s financial institutions, as the Fifth Column, where they sabotage – often with threats – any economic policies that could rescue Venezuela from its economic predicament.

In June 2017, I was privileged to be a member of an economic advisory team to Mr. Maduro. During three days of intense discussions with government, a number of potential short- medium and long-term solutions emerged. They were well received by Mr. Maduro and his economic team. What became of these recommendations? – Well, maybe there are strong foreign-directed forces at play to prevent their implementation.

Clearly, any accusation that the Maduro Government may bear the blame for some of the economic chaos, have to be vigorously rejected. Mr. Maduro has very little space to maneuver the economy other than what he is already doing. His actions are severely limited by the ever-stronger squeeze by western claws.

With or without Venezuela’s new crypto currency, the oil-based Petro, the Venezuelan economy, including a major proportion of her imports, is strongly linked to the US dollar. With military threats and sanctions left and right, there is little that the Government can do in the immediate future to become autonomous. Yes, Russia and especially China will most likely help with balance of payment support loans, with investments in the oil industry to ease Venezuela’s US-dollar debt burden and vamp up oil production; and in the medium and longer run they may also help boosting Venezuela’s agricultural sector towards 100% food self-sufficiency.

What is the real reason, you may ask, behind Trump’s intense ‘coup d’état’ attempt – aka, Bolton, Pompeo and Elliott Abrams (the ‘regime change’ envoy), or the diabolical troika’s killer mission?

  • Is it oil and other natural riches, like gold, coltan, diamonds and many more rare minerals? Venezuela with some 301,000 MMbbl (billions of barrels) of known reserves has about 12% more hydrocarbon reserves than Saudi Arabia. Shipping from the Gulf to Texas refineries takes 40-45 days and the risk of passing through the Iran-controlled strait of Hormuz. Delivering oil from Venezuela to Texas takes some 2-4 days.
  • Is it that Venezuela committed a mortal sin when circumventing the petro-dollar, when trading her hydrocarbons, notably with China and Russia in other currencies, like the gold-convertible yuan? – Remember, Saddam Hussein and Muamar Gadhafi attempted similar dollar-escaping actions – and look what it brought them. The US-dollar hegemony depends very much on oil and gas trade in US dollars, as per an agreement of the seventies between the US and Saudi Arabia, head of OPEC.
  • Is it that Washington cannot tolerate any socialist or socialist leaning country in its “backyard”? – Cuba and Nicaragua beware!
  • Is Venezuela a crucial stepping stone to fully dominate Latin America and her resources? – And, hence, a step closer to ‘full power dominance’ of the world?
  • Or all of the above?

I believe it’s all of the above, with a strong accent on Venezuela’s abandoning the US-dollar as hydrocarbon trading currency – putting the dollar-hegemony even more at risk. Once the dollar ceases to be the main reserve currency, the US economy will slowly collapse – what it is already doing. Twenty years ago, the US-dollar dominated world reserve coffers with about 90%. Today that proportion has sunk to less than 60%. The dollar is rapidly being replaced by other currencies, notably the Chinese yuan.

Now let’s cut to the chase. – It is clear that the Trump Administration with these stupid actions of dishing out sanctions left and right, punishing allies and foes alike, if they deal with Russia, Iran, or Venezuela – and this special blunt regime change aggression in Venezuela, nominating a 35 year old US puppet, trained in the US by CIA as Venezuela’s new ‘interim president’, confiscating Venezuela’s reserve assets in New York and London, stopping importing petrol from Venezuela and punishing anybody who imports Venezuelan oil – except, of course, Russia and China. The ‘might’ of the US stops short of interfering in these non-dollar deals. With these and more ridiculous actions and military threats – Washington is actually not only isolating itself, but is accelerating the fall of the US economy. Ever more countries are seeking alternative ways of doing business with currencies and monetary systems other than the dollar-based fraudulent SWIFT, and eventually they will succeed. All they need to do is joining the China-Russia-SCO system of transfer in their local currencies and the currencies of the eastern SCO block – and dedollarization is moving a step further ahead.

Dedollarization is the key to the end of the US (dollar) hegemony, of the US economic supremacy. The arrogant Trump, plus the impunity of the unfettered diabolical and outright dumb Bolton-Pompeo-Abrams approach of military threats and intimidations, may just make Venezuela the straw that breaks the Empire’s back.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); 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.

Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

In Praise of Shamelessness

February 05, 2019

by Jimmie Moglia for The Saker BlogIn Praise of Shamelessness

So much has been said about the Venezuelan crisis that adding more would equate to gilding the lily or bringing coal to Newcastle.

The following, then, is but a brief aside on the psychology and physiognomy of the protagonists of the ongoing coup, starting with Guaido’ – or “Guido” as per Mike Pompeo’s re-baptism, while he anointed him as self-appointed president of Venezuela.

The true face of Guaido?

If the face is indeed an open book where men may read strange matters, the attached image of the afore-said putative president of Venezuela proves the point. A camera immortalized him thus in 2009, during a political demonstration.

I have unprofessionally modified some extreme features to obscure a part of the body that I will forbear to mention out of my inviolable respect for the ladies.

Still, apart from the image, it is as clear as the summer sun that, despite his pathetic rabble-rousing, Guido is but one of the many lying knaves and stipended ruffians, abounding in politics and in Christendom at large.

Political liars notoriously invert factual reality to suit their personal interest, or utter bragging and platitudinal nonsense about freedom, democracy and the like. Confirming the proven maxim that ‘it will come to pass that every braggart shall be found an ass.’

On the other hand, watching the current Administration with an impartial eye, it would appear that bragging and arrogance are recommended as the supply of every defect, and the ornament of every excellence.

Furthermore, given the Administration’s engineering of the Venezuelan coup, I wonder how the same Administration would react if a congressman or senator imitated Guido and declared himself president, instead of the elected Trump.

Sometimes chances mock, and changes occur unexpectedly in place and time. For instance in France, where it is impossible to ignore the similarity between the two winters of discontent, distant in space but not in time.

For the yellow-jackets shout “Macron Dimission” in France, as loud as Guido wants Maduro to resign in Venezuela. Probably the Administration thinks that the fool multitudes that choose by show should either avoid to ask what is the difference between Macron and Maduro, or provide unaided their own answer.

As for Mike Pompeo, add a glass of wine in one hand and a sausage in the other and we have a tolerable reincarnation of Falstaff, or of one of the gluttons in the hell of Dante’s Divine Comedy, though in some way more sublimely ridiculous – or rather, more ridiculous and less sublime.

Politically, Pompeo states that, “The Heritage Foundation has shaped my thinking on matters of the world and public policy issues.” Where ‘thinking’ refers to Reaganomics, Thatcherism and freedom to loot and pollute by the usual suspects. An ideology perfectly embodied in the notorious “Citizen United” Supreme Court case, which treats corporations as persons – sanctifying the notion that he who has (or receives) the most money wins the elections (presidential or otherwise).

Internationally and briefly stated, the Heritage Foundation stands for regime-change in any country whose interests appears not directly benefiting the elites who created, maintain and fund the think-tank. Besides Venezuela, Nicaragua is at the front, along with El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Grenada, Cuba and, of course, all wars in the Middle East.

According to Pompeo, Congress should pass a law re-establishing collection of all metadata. Followed by combining the collection with publicly available financial and lifestyle information of individuals into a comprehensive and searchable database. That is, legal and bureaucratic impediments to surveillance should be removed.

Understandably, Pompeo opposes closing Guantanamo. After a visit to the prison while some prisoners were on hunger strike, he said, “It looks to me like a lot of them had put on weight.” Though he may have been inspired to say so while seeing himself in the mirror.

He criticized the Obama administration’s decision to end secret prisons and the requirement that all interrogators adhere to anti-torture laws.

Expectedly, Pompeo strongly disagreed with the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated during the Obama administration. He said, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.” Adding that a better option than negotiating with Iran would be to directly carry out “under 2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity. This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces.”

Naturally, during a visit to Israel in 2015, Pompeo said that “Prime Minister Netanyahu is a true partner of the American people” (!), and that “Netanyahu’s efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons are incredibly admirable and deeply appreciated”. And further, “In the fight against terrorism, cooperation between Israel and the United States has never been more important,…we must stand with our ally Israel and put a stop to terrorism. Ongoing attacks by the Palestinians serve only to distance the prospect of peace.”

Given that Israel just killed or wounded about 3000 Palestinians during the last year of unarmed demonstrations by Palestinians in Gaza, I will direct the Aesopian-minded reader to review or remember the Latin story about the wolf and the lamb.

Of Assange, “… we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us. To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now … Assange and his ilk make common cause with dictators today. Yes, they try unsuccessfully to cloak themselves and their actions in the language of liberty and privacy; in reality, however, they champion nothing but their own celebrity. Their currency is click-bait; their moral compass, nonexistent. Their mission: personal self-aggrandizement through the destruction of Western values.”

Talk about a world upside-down. Even assuming the statement to be true, it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black or, if you like, of whipping his own faults in other men. As for his interpretation of “Western values” maybe Mr. Pompeo should speak for himself and stick them up where he thinks best.

He disapproved of the “Clean Power Plan” and in 2013 introduced the self-explanatory “Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act.” And in his latest performance he has taken to insulting the nation of Venezuela with the rage of a superstitious crank.

If there’s a history in all men’s lives, the tales of Pompeo speak for themselves. As they do for Bolton, whose own history and actions in government prove him to be as opposite to any good as the south is to the north.

Bolton personifies, in appearance and posturing, the classic bully, qualified by nature, servility and experience to exercise the office of a criminal. He is as prone to mischief as able to perform it. The number of Bolton’s ‘accomplishments’ is great and well known – listing them would constitute an unwanted mode of annoyance.

Suffice a short glimpse of his mode of reasoning on an important issue. Bolton enlisted in the Maryland Army National Guard, which was at the time an unofficially-official means to avoid the draft, and being sent to Vietnam. In a 25threunion book of his university he wrote, “I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost.” And in his own book he clarified his decision, “… by the time I was about to graduate in 1970, it was clear to me that opponents of the Vietnam War had made it certain we could not prevail, and that I had no great interest in going there to have Teddy Kennedy give it back to the people I might die to take it away from.”

A statement that would be a perfect entry in an instruction and operating manual for chicken-hawks, in the chapter titled, “How to persuade others that cowardice is courage.”

According to experts in his train, Bolton is a “conservative” rather than a “neo-conservative.” What’s the difference? It’s a diffuse and complicated question that may be examined by different methods, upon different principles – it requires a great labor of research and dexterity of application.

Suffice to say that the neo-conservative movement was founded by a handful of followers of the communist philosopher Leon Trotsky. Which makes communists of the neo-conservatives, and neo-conservatives of communists. A perfect instance of the unity of opposites “Coincidentia Oppositorum” – a term attributed to 15th century German philosopher Nicholas of Cusa in his essay, “De Docta Ignorantia,” (Of Learned Ignorance.)

But I digress. There is one more character in the troika of evil in the train of Trump. Associate his deeds with his countenance, add a couple of horns, and an observer may be tempted to say, “Here comes the devil in the likeness of Elliot Abrams.” And although national security frees crime from reproach, Abrams, as we know, is actually a convicted criminal, later pardoned by Bush Jr.

Again, rather than a list of his crimes, a glimpse into his mode of reasoning is shorter and I think more meaningful.

Needless to say, all members of the troika are Israel-firsters. In 2005 Abrams, as an even more special friend of Israel, was a protagonist in a meeting between the US Foreign Secretary and Syrian envoys, including the Syrian minister for emigration, Bouthaina Shaaban. The US advanced the thesis that Syria was hostile to the American invasion of Iraq – because, allegedly, Syria allowed the Iraqis defending themselves against the US, to cross into Syria.

They were pretexts. The Syrians told the US party that the news was false and probably propagated by hearsay. If the Americans wanted to know the truth, they should visit and interview those who lived in the affected area.

Abrams then pulled Ms. Shaaban aside and said, “What is the relevance of truth in what happens in the world? The important thing is the concept and the images that affect the minds of people. Whether the conveyed images reflect reality is secondary and reflect nothing.”

From which we deduct what we already know, namely that, for the US Administration, reality is an abstraction, where the truth or falsehood of a fact depends on the size of the audience, as with a TV serial.

I could not verify the source of the anecdote, but it fits the character. Besides, it is almost a mirror rendering of the historical answer given by Donald Rumsfeld to a journalist who questioned the truth and reality of an Iraq-related report, “We create our own reality.” Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defence during the Bush Jr. invasion of Iraq.

Back to Venezuela. I realize I am in a minority, but I do not think that the primary US goal of destroying Maduro is the desire to own the oil resources of Venezuela. Just as in Iraq Saddam Hussein was quite happy to sell the oil to any buyer who agreed on the price.

Astutely, the media serfs of the deep state have foisted two creeds onto their followers. One is for the distracted multitude, who like not in their judgment but their eyes (or ears). It holds that Venezuela is a dictatorship and Maduro tortures and starves the Venezuelans, because he is a socialist.

The idea may satisfy a certain section of an old right that associates the words ‘socialism’ or ‘social measures’ with evil.

The other creed addresses those who prefer to believe a more tenable reason than a somewhat obsolete fear of socialism. In twitter-like terms the creed goes, “They do it for the oil” – where ‘they’, of course, are the wise guys of the State Department.

Instead, I rather think that the ongoing attempted coup in Venezuela follows the steps of the so-called ‘globalization’, a euphemism for the Kalergi Plan, described in the article “The Waves of Time,” and carried out according to the objectives – of and for – the chosen people.

That the political-ideological leaders of the chosen people may have a particular ax to grind with Venezuela is understandable. It is one of the few countries not to have diplomatic relations with Israel. And while defending the Palestinians during a televised rally, Hugo Chavez called Israel “un pays de mierda.”

Given that even a minor criticism of Israel causes the ADL to brand the critic as an ‘anti-Semite,’ Venezuela had it coming. Keeping in mind that Saddam Hussein was also a defender of the Palestinians.

But there are other indirect signs showing the progress of the Kalergi Plan, besides the hatred for Venezuela.

For example, the inflow of migrants into Europe continues steadily, even if the media no longer talks much about it. From what I am told by some friends, migrants in Italy, unofficially are no longer required to pay for public transportation, nor are they asked to show a ticket. This follows various reported cases of a conductor being assaulted by migrants when they were requested to produce the ticket. Though the same world media give ample coverage to any episode that may be artfully construed as ‘racist.’

Just very recently, Feb 4, 19, in Sweden, a black pregnant woman was removed from a train for not having a ticket. All networks broadcasted the news, claiming that the woman had been roughly handled. Even so, she had a voice strong enough to complain and threaten the allegedly ‘racist’ police.

Here in the US I will refer to the sequence of events surrounding the Covington Catholic High School students’ trip to Washington D.C, for a peaceful demonstration against abortion. Apparently they do this every year, as a component of their guided visit to the capital (and they pay for the trip).

Anyone can have his own views on abortion, but no one, as yet, prohibits peaceful demonstrations. As most readers may know, the media blasted the students for not yielding to an abusive group of Black Israelis (sic), plus one Native American who chanted and banged his war-drum in the face of the students.

The media attempted to turn the event into another Charlottesville, but further videos showed clearly who were the attackers and that the students reacted quite civilly, without answering in words and kind to the provocative actions of their opponents.

In the meantime, in one of its articles, the Guardian interviewed a Dan Siegel, a Jewish psychiatrist, interested in remodeling the teenage brain to prevent what he calls “in-group attachments” – translation, consciousness of being white.

Siegel has invented a method called “mindfulness wheel of awareness” aimed at leading his patients to abandon any sense of ethnic identity (Kalergi docet). He called his method ‘Essence’ (Emotional Sparks, Social Engagement, Novelty-seeking and Creative Exploration). Here is a quotation showing all the finesse of Freud-like pseudo-science.

“You want to expand your “circle of identity” so that within the phrase “like me” you include a lot of diversity. What I would say is that the plane of possibility is accessed more when people integrate consciousness. People are too confined, so they are excessively differentiated and not accepting the value of other life forms including other humans that do not fit into that initial high plateau of identity. What has been fascinating about doing the wheel of awareness practice — and I think this is consistent with some of the research about reducing some of the implicit racial bias with mindfulness practices— is that when people access the hub, they’re gaining more access. They are more readily accessing the plane of possibility and in the plane, there is no racism. In the plane, there is this experience of reality that embraces the fluidity of identity. That is, “you” are made up of people who are not your racial background. You are people who don’t speak your same language. You are people who are of different religions. It’s not just that they’re different and that is okay. It’s that you are both part of the same sea of potential or the plane of possibility. What has been beautiful about explaining this is that people get a feeling of relief that they can now basically be in a state of love and acceptance.”

Siegel convinces his clients that they will be happy by thinking that they are several different people all-in-one, a Muslim from Afghanistan, a Voodoist from West Africa, a Buddist from Tibet etc. That is, to feel a “reality that embraces the fluidity of identity” the patient (or in this instance, the misled and young European-American student,) must have a multicultural mind. He must convince himself that he contains within himself other people who are not of his racial background and have different religions.

I paraphrased the last statements to avoid the rambling Freudian psycho-babble of such remarkable captain of erudition.

Anyone among the rest of us, who came up with this nonsense, would be branded as a producer of low merriment and buffoonery. But Siegel is highly regarded by the mainstream academic and scientific establishment. And, even more ominous, he has even received an invitation to address the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family on the subject of child psychology.

I strayed from the main subject, only to show, with a few examples, what the Kalergi operatives, and the world shapers of the collective mind, have in store for the rest of us. And any objecting government must be overturned.

As for Venezuela, we cannot look into the seeds of time and see which grain will grow and which will not, but it never yet did hurt to hold some likelihoods and forms of hope.

As for the organizers of the coup, we cannot even ask, “Shame where is thy blush?” because they have brought shamelessness to grand new heights and turned a liability into an asset or, if you like, have made a virtue out of a vice.

The Yankee Plot to Overthrow Nicolás Maduro and Steal Venezuela’s Oil

February 04, 2019

The Venezuela Phase of US Global Demise “The end of America’s unc

The Venezuela Phase of US Global Demise

The Venezuela Phase of US Global Demise

“The end of America’s unchallenged global economic dominance has arrived sooner than expected,” wrote US political economist Michael Hudson in a recent cogent essay.

Hudson goes on to point out with copious irony how the “end of US monetary imperialism” has been accelerated by a rightwing former real estate magnate, President Donald Trump, surrounded by a cabal of Neocons in his White House administration.

The author, whose earlier book, ‘Super Imperialism’, prefigured much of today’s geopolitical configuration, contends that: “International finance and foreign investment have become the key flash point in global power politics today.”

Central to the historic loss of US global economic dominance is the imminent demise of the dollar as the premier international currency, and thereby its use as a monetary weapon for Washington.

The latest blow-up in international relations involving Venezuela and Washington’s designs for regime change is but the latest in a whole gamut of international developments, tensions and confrontations which ultimately stem from America’s desperate attempt to maintain its global hegemony.

Over the past 12 months, there has been a slew of countries dumping their holdings of dollars and US Treasury bills. Russia, China, Japan, Turkey and others have been offloading the American currency with spades. Meanwhile, Russia and others have been busy stockpiling gold reserves as a more secure strategic asset.

That is surely a sign of systematic “de-dollarization” owing to a general declining confidence in the American currency, as well as a tacit political decision to discreetly disarm Washington’s “monetary imperialism”.

Other significant indicators include China’s denomination of its enormous oil trade with Saudi Arabia and other petrodollar sources henceforth in the Chinese Yuan.

Russia and China have already innovated bilateral trade using each other’s currencies. This is another example of how Washington’s bullying use of sanctions and control over the international payment system is leading inevitably to the establishment of alternative, non-dollar trade mechanisms.

The launch last week by the European Union of a non-dollar payment system for trade with Iran in order to avoid US sanctions is evidence of further international movement away from dependency on the American dollar as the erstwhile international reserve currency. Again, Washington has been overplaying its hand here too.

Threatening to sanction European nations for doing business with Iran under the terms of the 2015 international nuclear accord – which Trump unilaterally abandoned last year – has forced the Europeans to protect their own vital interests, which necessarily entails circumventing the US dollar system.

In short, the American rulers are unwittingly digging their own grave.

As Michael Hudson points out, the erstwhile US hegemony is entering into an accelerated decline, largely brought on by its own hubris and unilateral aggression – even towards supposed allies.

It seems that in order to avert this collapse of power, the US is amping up the aggression and militarism in a desperate bid to assert itself.

Hence we see the US taking the reckless step of walking away from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia. Many informed arms control experts around the world, including in the US, are deeply concerned that the Trump administration is gravely damaging global security and “moving the world closer to a nuclear war”.

Behind the US decision to tear up the INF treaty is the calculation in Washington of trying to intimidate Russia and China militarily, whom several recent American planning documents target as “great power rivals”.

Washington’s aggression and threats towards Iran also fit into this ramped up militarism as a form of political power play.

America’s dramatic escalation of tensions with Venezuela over the past two weeks is another page from the same playbook. It is almost staggering the audacity of Washington’s threats of military attack on the South American country.

The Trump administration’s brazen ultimatums for regime change and confiscation of Venezuela’s oil wealth are a shocking violation of international law, according to former UN rapporteur Alfred de Zayas.

Pathetically, many European states are kowtowing to Washington’s aggression towards the government of President Nicolas Maduro, even though these same states have themselves been humiliated of late by American bullying.

Venezuela can thus be best understood as another phase of the US dollar’s historic demise, and the concomitant bigger demise of American global power.

The South American country is believed to hold the largest reserves of oil on the planet, exceeding that of Saudi Arabia. Much of its trade is dedicated to the US market. Unfortunately, that has given Washington a lot of leverage for economic warfare against Caracas.

Again, however, the arrogant Americans are in danger of overplaying their hand. Threats of military aggression – while criminally reprehensible – are easier said than done. If Venezuela can weather this current geopolitical storm, the country will no doubt turn its prodigious oil business further towards Russia, China, Turkey and others in the East who have not joined Uncle Sam’s lynch mob running amok in the Caribbean.

As with Washington’s aggression on so many other fronts – towards Russia, China, Iran, Europe – the American gross misconduct against Venezuela is augmenting the very direction it most fears: a multipolar world where US hegemony no longer prevails.

The configuration of chaos and conflict is a very dangerous one. The volatile mix could blow up into a global military confrontation. Washington’s desperation to avert its fate of demise could result in a one reckless aggression too far. A foolhardy invasion of Venezuela could be such a detonator.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to understand the present international precariousness as stemming from inherent American economic problems. That is the key factor that links up all the other seemingly disparate tensions and conflicts. Venezuela is but another demonstration of a wider structural problem centered on American capitalism’s collapse.

Russian, Chinese and other informed planners are presumably well aware of the fraught transition in global politics away from US imperial dominance. Moscow and Beijing hardly want a sudden collapse of American power because that could precipitate a disastrous military reaction. A gradual undermining and weakening of the dollar in a phased withdrawal is probably the safest way to defuse the American time bomb.

Photo: Pixabay

Roger Waters on the US aggression against Venezuela

Roger Waters on the US aggression against Venezuela

source: https://twitter.com/rogerwaters

VENEZUELA UNDER SIEGE: ‘ISRAEL’ ENTERS THE FRAY, MNUCHIN RAMPS UP SANCTIONS, BOLTON PLOTS INVASION

VENEZUELA UNDER SIEGE: ‘ISRAEL’ ENTERS THE FRAY, MNUCHIN RAMPS UP SANCTIONS, BOLTON PLOTS INVASION

by Jonathan Azaziah

As the American regime was making its latest criminal move against Venezuela, unilaterally and illegally announcing its recognition of Juan Guaidó as President of the country, like Nicolas Maduro wasn’t democratically elected in a landslide half a minute ago… ‘Israel’ was conspicuously, suspiciously and disturbingly silent. Canada and several European states rushed to take Washington’s side in continuing the onslaught against the Bolivarian Revolution. But not the usurping Zionist entity. The official line was that the fake “Tel Aviv” regime was worried about the 5,000-6,000 Jews still in Venezuela, mainly in Caracas. This is just a smokescreen however. More than half of the Land of Bolivar’s Jews have already departed because of El Comandante Hugo Chavez’s (rip) staunch Anti-Zionist policies–a confirmation of how Zionism is majoritarian within Jewry everywhere on Earth excluding Iran. Those who remain, like all other minorities, aren’t under any sort of threat. Certainly, so long as they aren’t agitating against the Bolivarian Revolution and operating as ‘Israeli’ or Western spies, they are protected. And ‘Israel’ knows it too. Moreover, ‘Israel’ isn’t going to pretend that it hasn’t been anti-Bolivarian since DAY… GODDAMN… ONE… With it openly attempting to murder Maduro just a few months ago.

Indeed, the real reason for the cancerous Halakhic-Talmudic endeavor’s quiet is because it was maneuvering one of its top dogs into position: Elliot Abrams. The neocon lunatic is infamous for serving ‘Israeli’ interests in blood-soaked interventions against Iraq, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. He was also an architect of the US regime’s invasion of Panama and subsequent toppling of CIA drug-runner Noriega, years after cosigning the former American asset’s brutal crackdowns on the Panamanian opposition. The moment that Abrams’ new job was secure, Netanyahu announced ‘Israeli’ recognition of Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s Interim President. And Guaidó himself, asserting his credentials as a top-tier Shabbos Goy, invoked none other than the Holofraud in his thanks to Benny the Baby-Killer.

Verily, Netanyahu’s choice to attack Venezuela’s sovereignty on International “Holocaust” Remembrance Day, a fraud of frauds, was utterly strategic in nature–a psychological warfare operation to convince Gentile states sitting on the fence to join the imperialist attack on Nicolas Maduro, the “Hitler” of Venezuela. Bankroller of ‘Israeli’ colonies as well as US Ambassador to ‘Israel’ David Friedman couldn’t contain his glee over the Zionist premier’s stance and vile pro-‘Israel’ Jew Jason Greenblatt, a top Trump regime official, called him “courageous”. Like the whole Mishpucka’s in on it, huh? An illegitimate entity… Recognizing an illegitimate president… In an illegitimate coup… Then praised by illegitimate wonks… Of an illegitimate empire. Try as hard as you possibly can to hold back your vomit. If you can’t though, it’s totally understandable.

Like they were waiting for the cue from Nutty Netty, less than a day after the Zio-Tumor’s approval of Juan Guaidó as Golpista-In-Chief, John “Yosemite Goy” Bolton and Sorosite Steve “Goldman Sachs Gangster” Mnuchin announced devastating new sanctions against Venezuela and its oil company PDVSA, ripping 7 billion dollars from Venezuela right off the cuff and projecting at least another 11 billion dollars taken from the Bolivarian nation by year’s end.

Mnuchin funds at least three Zionist synagogues, Temple Emanu-El, Park East Synagogue, and Kehillat ‘Israel’, along with the Milken Institute, a neo-capitalist garbage dump bankrolled by a who’s who of Zionist warmongers, including the environment-destroying, Iran-hating Resnicks. He’s unabashedly stated that he wants to invest even more American capital into the Zio-Tumor’s technology sector(read: Talpiot) too. His bread, or should we say challah, is buttered with the Kehilla… Not with the American people. We knew that Abrams was going to be working closely with sanctions czar Sigal P. Mandelker, who has already ruthlessly targeted Venezuela, but to have her boss Mnuchin at his disposal now too, offering the full power of Treasury, is particularly frightening.

Not to be confused for a Kosher Gentile that doesn’t do enough to serve his “chosenite” masters, Bolton upped the ante further by getting caught on camera with some scribbling on his notepad that read “5,000 troops to Colombia”, as if to indicate an imminent US military incursion into Venezuela. Was this just another PSYOP to pressure Maduro into resigning? Or was this flagrant warmongering shoved right into the world’s face… Because Sahyu-‘Murica is gonna do whatever the f%#% Sahyu-‘Murica wants to do and it’s tough s%#% for anyone who says otherwise?

These menacing developments beg the question: If Maduro doesn’t call snap elections in 8 days as he has been required to do by World Arrogance — and he’s not going to follow such neo-colonial instructions; the man’s a revolutionary, not a quisling — what is the next step that the Imperium is going to take? Will it be a “shock and awe” invasion like Iraq? Or will a “Free ‘Venezuelan’ Army” be armed, trained and financed by the West, ‘Israel’ and Saudi Arabia in a throwback to Operation Condor as well as the demonic death squads of the 70s and 80s? Venezuela is under siege and prayers are needed for the upholders of El Comandante Hugo Chavez’s (rip) legacy no matter what the immediate (and seemingly dark) future holds. May ALLAH (SWT) protect the Bolivarian Revolution.

Sanctions of Mass Destruction: America’s War on Venezuela

Global Research, January 30, 2019

American economic sanctions have been the worst crime against humanity since World War Two. America’s economic sanctions have killed more innocent people than all of the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons ever used in the history of mankind.

The fact that for America the issue in Venezuela is oil, not democracy, will surprise only those who watch the news and ignore history. Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves on the planet.

America seeks control of Venezuela because it sits atop the strategic intersection of the Caribbean, South and Central American worlds. Control of the nation, has always been a remarkably effective way to project power into these three regions and beyond.

From the first moment Hugo Chavez took office, the United States has been trying to overthrow Venezuela’s socialist movement by using sanctions, coup attempts, and funding the opposition parties. After all, there is nothing more undemocratic than a coup d’état.

Potsdam1 Bildarchiv Alfred de Zayas.JPG

United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, recommended, just a few days ago, that the International Criminal Court investigate economic sanctions against Venezuela as a possible crime against humanity perpetrated by America.

Over the past five years, American sanctions have cut Venezuela off from most financial markets, which have caused local oil production to plummet. Consequently, Venezuela has experienced the largest decline in living standards of any country in recorded Latin American history.

Prior to American sanctions, socialism in Venezuela had reduced inequality and poverty whilst pensions expanded. During the same time period in America, it has been the absolute reverse. President Chavez funnelled Venezuela’s oil revenues into social spending such as free+6 healthcare, education, subsidized food networks, and housing construction.

In order to fully understand why America is waging economic war on the people of Venezuela one must analyse the historical relationship between the petrodollar system and Sanctions of Mass Destruction: Prior to the 20th century, the value of money was tied to gold. When banks lent money they were constrained by the size of their gold reserves. But in 1971, U.S. President Richard Nixon took the country off the gold standard. Nixon and Saudi Arabia came to an Oil For Dollars agreement that would change the course of history and become the root cause of countless wars for oil. Under this petrodollar agreement the only currency that Saudi Arabia could sell its oil in was the US dollar. The Saudi Kingdom would in turn ensure that its oil profits flow back into U.S. government treasuries and American banks.

In exchange, America pledged to provide the Saudi Royal family’s regime with military protection and military hardware.

It was the start of something truly great for America. Access to oil defined 20th-century empires and the petrodollar agreement was the key to the ascendancy of the United States as the world’s sole superpower. America’s war machine runs on, is funded by, and exists in protection of oil.

Threats by any nation to undermine the petrodollar system are viewed by Washington as tantamount to a declaration of war against the United States of America.

Within the last two decades Iraq, Iran, Libya and Venezuela have all threatened to sell their oil in other currencies. Consequently, they have all been subject to crippling U.S. sanctions.

Over time the petrodollar system spread beyond oil and the U.S. dollar slowly but surely became the reserve currency for global trades in most commodities and goods. This system allows America to maintain its position of dominance as the world’s only superpower, despite being a staggering $23 trillion in debt.

With billions of dollars worth of minerals in the ground and with the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela should not only be wealthy, but her people the envy of the developing world. But the nation is essentially broke because American sanctions have cut them off from the international financial system and cost the economy $6 billion over the last five years. Without sanctions, Venezuela could recover easily by collateralizing some of its abundant resources or its $8 billion of gold reserves, in order to get the loans necessary to kick-start their economy.

In order to fully understand the insidious nature of the Venezuelan crisis, it is necessary to understand the genesis of economic sanctions. At the height of World War Two, President Truman issued an order for American bombers to drop “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 140,000 people instantly. The gruesome images that emerged from the rubble were broadcast through television sets across the world and caused unprecedented outrage. The political backlash forced U.S. policy makers to devise a more subtle weapon of mass destruction: economic sanctions.

The term “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD) was first defined by the United Nations in 1948 as

“atomic explosive weapons, radioactive material weapons, lethal chemical and biological weapons, and any weapons developed in the future which have characteristics comparable in destructive effect to those of the atomic bomb or other weapons mentioned above”.

Sanctions are clearly the 21st century’s deadliest weapon of mass destruction.

In 2001, the U.S. administration told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; Iraq was a terrorist state; Iraq was tied to Al Qaeda. It all amounted to nothing. In fact, America already knew that the only weapons of mass destruction that Saddam had were not nuclear in nature, but rather chemical and biological. The only reason they knew this in advance was because America sold the weapons to Saddam to use on Iran in 1991.

What the U.S. administration did not tell us was that Saddam Hussein used to be a strong ally of the United States.  The main reason for toppling Saddam and putting sanctions on the people of Iraq was the fact that Iraq had ditched the Dollar-for-Oil sales.

The United Nations estimates that 1.7 million Iraqis died due to Bill Clinton’s sanctions; 500,000 of whom were children. In 1996, a journalist asked former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, about these UN reports, specifically about the children. America’s top foreign policy official, Albright, replied:

“I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.”

Clearly, U.S. sanctions policies are nothing short of state-sanctioned genocide.

Over the last five years, sanctions have caused Venezuelan per capita incomes to drop by 40 percent, which is a decline similar to that of war torn Iraq and Syria at the height of their armed conflicts. Millions of Venezuelans have had to flee the country. If America is so concerned about refugees, Trump should stop furthering disastrous foreign policies that actually create them. Under Chavez, Venezuela had a policy of welcoming refugees. President Chavez turned Venezuela into the wealthiest society in Latin America with the best income equality.

Another much vilified leader who used oil wealth to enrich his people, only to be put under severe sanctions, is Muammar Gaddafi. In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa’s wealthiest nation. Perhaps, Gaddafi’s greatest crime, in the eyes of NATO, was his quest to quit selling Libyan oil in U.S. Dollars and denominate crude sales in a new gold backed common African currency. In fact, in August 2011, President Obama confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold-backed Dinar currency.

Africa has the fastest growing oil industry in the world and oil sales in a common African currency would have been especially devastating for the American dollar, the U.S. economy, and particularly the elite in charge of the petrodollar system.

It is for this reason that President Clinton signed the now infamous Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, which the United Nations Children’s Fund said caused widespread suffering among civilians by “severely limiting supplies of fuel, access to cash, and the means of replenishing stocks of food and essential medications.” Clearly, U.S. sanctions are weapons of mass destruction.

Not so long ago, Iraq and Libya were the two most modern and secular states in the Middle East and North Africa, with the highest regional standards of living. Nowadays, U.S. Military intervention and economic sanctions have turned Libya and Iraq into two of the world’s most failed nations.

“They want to seize Libya’s oil and they care nothing about the lives of the Libyan people,” remarked Chavez during the Western intervention in Libya in 2011.

In September 2017, President Maduro made good on Chavez’s promise to list oil sales in Yuan rather than the US dollar. Weeks later Trump signed a round of crippling sanctions on the people of Venezuela.

On Monday, U.S. National Security adviser John Bolton announced new sanctions that essentially steal $7 billion from Venezuela’s state owned oil company. At that press conference Bolton brazenly flashed a note pad that ominously said “5,000 troops to Colombia”. When confronted about it by the media, Bolton simply said,

“President Trump stated that all options are on the table”.

America’s media is unquestionably the most corrupt institution in America. The nation’s media may quibble about Trump’s domestic policies but when it comes to starting wars for oil abroad they sing in remarkable unison. Fox News, CNN and the New York Times all cheered the nation into war in Iraq over fictitious weapons of mass destruction, whilst America was actually using sanctions of mass destruction on the Iraqi people. They did it in Libya and now they are doing it again in Venezuela. Democracy and freedom have always been the smoke screen in front of capitalist expansion for oil, and the Western Media owns the smoke machine. Economic warfare has long since been under way against Venezuela but military warfare is now imminent.

Trump just hired Elliot Abrams as U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela, who has a long and torrid history in Latin America. Abrams pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Iran Contra affair, which involved America funding deadly communist rebels, and was the worst scandal in the Reagan Era. Abrams was later pardoned by George Bush Senior. America’s new point man on Venezuela also lied about the largest mass killing in recent Latin American history by U.S. trained forces in El Salvador.

There is nothing more undemocratic than a coup d’état. A UN Human Rights Council Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, pointed out that America’s aim in Venezuela is to “crush this government and bring in a neoliberal government that is going to privatise everything and is going to sell out, a lot of transitional corporations stand to gain enormous profits and the United States is driven by the transnational corporations.”

Ever since 1980, the United States has steadily devolved from the status of the world’s top creditor country to the world’s most indebted country. But thanks to the petrodollar system’s huge global artificial demand for U.S. dollars, America can continue exponential military expansion, record breaking deficits and unrestrained spending.

America’s largest export used to be manufactured goods made proudly in America. Today, America’s largest export is the U.S. dollar. Any nation like Venezuela that threatens that export is met with America’s second largest export: weapons, chief amongst which are sanctions of mass destruction.

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Garikai Chengu is an Ancient African historian. He has been a scholar at Harvard, Stanford and Columbia University. Contact him on garikai.chengu@gmail.com

Venezuela: Let’s Cut to the Chase

Venezuela: Let’s Cut to the Chase

PEPE ESCOBAR | 01.02.2019 | FEATURED STORY

Venezuela: Let’s Cut to the Chase

Cold War 2.0 has hit South America with a bang – pitting the US and expected minions against the four key pillars of in-progress Eurasia integration: Russia, China, Iran and Turkey.

It’s the oil, stupid. But there’s way more than meets the (oily) eye.

Caracas has committed the ultimate cardinal sin in the eyes of Exceptionalistan; oil trading bypassing the US dollar or US-controlled exchanges.

Remember Iraq. Remember Libya. Yet Iran is also doing it. Turkey is doing it. Russia is – partially – on the way. And China will eventually trade all its energy in petroyuan.

With Venezuela adopting the petro crypto-currency and the sovereign bolivar, already last year the Trump administration had sanctioned Caracas off the international financial system.

No wonder Caracas is supported by China, Russia and Iran. They are the real hardcore troika – not psycho-killer John Bolton’s cartoonish “troika of tyranny” – fighting against the Trump administration’s energy dominance strategy, which consists essentially in aiming at the total lock down of oil trading in petrodollars, forever.

Venezuela is a key cog in the machine. Psycho killer Bolton admitted it on the record; “It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.” It’s not a matter of just letting ExxonMobil take over Venezuela’s massive oil reserves – the largest on the planet. The key is to monopolize their exploitation in US dollars, benefitting a few Big Oil billionaires.

Once again, the curse of natural resources is in play. Venezuela must not be allowed to profit from its wealth on its own terms; thus, Exceptionalistan has ruled that the Venezuelan state must be shattered.

In the end, this is all about economic war. Cue to the US Treasury Department imposing new sanctions on PDVSA that amount to a de facto oil embargo against Venezuela.

Economic war redux

By now it’s firmly established what happened in Caracas was not a color revolution but an old-school US-promoted regime change coup using local comprador elites, installing as “interim president” an unknown quantity, Juan Guaido, with his Obama choirboy looks masking extreme right-wing credentials.

Everyone remembers “Assad must go”. The first stage in the Syrian color revolution was the instigation of civil war, followed by a war by proxy via multinational jihadi mercenaries. As Thierry Meyssan has noted, the role of the Arab League then is performed by the OAS now. And the role of Friends of Syria – now lying in the dustbin of history – is now performed by the Lima group, the club of Washington’s vassals. Instead of al-Nusra “moderate rebels”, we may have Colombian – or assorted Emirati-trained – “moderate rebel” mercenaries.

Contrary to Western corporate media fake news, the latest elections in Venezuela were absolutely legitimate. There was no way to tamper with the made in Taiwan electronic voting machines. The ruling Socialist Party got 70 percent of the votes; the opposition, with many parties boycotting it, got 30 percent. A serious delegation of the Latin American Council of Electoral Experts (CEELA) was adamant; the election reflected “peacefully and without problems, the will of Venezuelan citizens”.

The American embargo may be vicious. In parallel, Maduro’s government may have been supremely incompetent in not diversifying the economy and investing in food self-sufficiency. Major food importers, speculating like there’s no tomorrow, are making a killing. Still, reliable sources in Caracas tell that the barrios – the popular neighborhoods – remain largely peaceful.

In a country where a full tank of gas still costs less than a can of Coke, there’s no question the chronic shortages of food and medicines in local clinics have forced at least two million people to leave Venezuela. But the key enforcing factor is the US embargo.

The UN rapporteur to Venezuela, expert on international law, and former secretary of the UN Human Rights Council, Alfred de Zayas, goes straight to the point; much more than engaging in the proverbial demonization of Maduro, Washington is waging “economic war” against a whole nation.

It’s enlightening to see how the “Venezuelan people” see the charade. In a poll conducted by Hinterlaces even before the Trump administration coup/regime change wet dream, 86% of Venezuelans said they were against any sort of US intervention, military or not,

And 81% of Venezuelans said they were against US sanctions. So much for “benign” foreign interference on behalf of “democracy” and “human rights”.

The Russia-China factor

Analyses by informed observers such as Eva Golinger and most of all, the Mision Verdad collective are extremely helpful. What’s certain, in true Empire of Chaos mode, is that the American playbook, beyond the embargo and sabotage, is to foment civil war.

Dodgy “armed groups” have been active in the Caracas barrios, acting in the dead of night and amplifying “social unrest” on social media. Still, Guaido holds absolutely no power inside the country. His only chance of success is if he manages to install a parallel government – cashing in on the oil revenue and having Washington arrest government members on trumped-up charges.

Irrespective of neocon wet dreams, adults at the Pentagon should know that an invasion of Venezuela may indeed metastasize into a tropical Vietnam quagmire. The Brazilian strongman in waiting, vice-president and retired general Hamilton Mourao, already said there will be no military intervention.

Psycho killer Bolton’s by now infamous notepad stunt about “5,000 troops to Colombia”, is a joke; these would have no chance against the arguably 15,000 Cubans who are in charge of security for the Maduro government; Cubans have demonstrated historically they are not in the business of handing over power.

It all comes back to what China and Russia may do. China is Venezuela’s largest creditor. Maduro was received by Xi Jinping last year in Beijing, getting an extra $5 billion in loans and signing at least 20 bilateral agreements.

President Putin offered his full support to Maduro over the phone, diplomatically stressing that “destructive interference from abroad blatantly violates basic norms of international law.”

By January 2016, oil was as low as $35 a barrel; a disaster to Venezuela’s coffers. Maduro then decided to transfer 49.9% of the state ownership in PDVSA’s US subsidiary, Citgo, to Russian Rosneft for a mere $1.5 billion loan. This had to send a wave of red lights across the Beltway; those “evil” Russians were now part owners of Venezuela’s prime asset.

Late last year, still in need of more funds, Maduro opened gold mining in Venezuela to Russian mining companies. And there’s more; nickel, diamonds, iron ore, aluminum, bauxite, all coveted by Russia, China – and the US. As for $1.3 billion of Venezuela’s own gold, forget about repatriating it from the Bank of England.

And then, last December, came the straw that broke the Deep State’s back; the friendship flight of two Russian nuclear-capable Tu-160 bombers. How dare they? In our own backyard?

The Trump administration’s energy masterplan may be indeed to annex Venezuela to a parallel “North American-South American Petroleum Exporting Countries” (NASAPEC) cartel, capable of rivaling the OPEC+ love story between Russia and the House of Saud.

But even if that came to fruition, and adding a possible, joint US-Qatar LNG alliance, there’s no guarantee that would be enough to assure petrodollar – and petrogas – preeminence in the long run.

Eurasia energy integration will mostly bypass the petrodollar; this is at the very heart of both the BRICS and SCO strategy. From Nord Stream 2 to Turk Stream, Russia is locking down a long-term energy partnership with Europe. And petroyuan dominance is just a matter of time. Moscow knows it. Tehran knows it. Ankara knows it. Riyadh knows it.

So what about plan B, neocons? Ready for your tropical Vietnam?

US Waging Undeclared War on Venezuela

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Republican and undemocratic Dem dark forces are waging political, economic, financial, sanctions, and hot wars against all independent nations unwilling to surrender their sovereignty to US interests.

Oil-rich countries are prime targets, notably Middle East ones and Venezuela because of its world’s largest reserves, a prize the US covets.

It’s been waging undeclared war on Venezuela’s social democratic government since Hugo Chavez’s December 1998 election.

What’s ongoing is the latest chapter of a diabolical plot to replace Bolivarian democracy with US-controlled fascist tyranny, wanting Big Oil and other US corporate predators enabled to loot Venezuelan resources, the country’s wealth transferred abroad, social benefits afforded to all Venezuelans abolished, Washington gaining another imperial trophy.

Support from Venezuela’s military is crucial for President Nicolas Maduro. Addressing them he said the following:

“I am a soldier, just like you. We dream and feel the same, equally love our homeland…I thank the armed forces, who are preparing for military exercises on February 10-15, that they mobilized in the name of the homeland.” 

“We need top-level armed forces to guarantee territorial integrity and defense of the country.” With their support, “(i)mperialism will lose.”

He alone is Venezuela’s democratically elected president, its process scrupulously open, free and fair. Juan Guaido is a US-designated puppet with no legitimacy, plucked from obscurity to prominence, a traitor to his country, guilty of sedition or treason, bribed to serve US interests.

Interviewed by Sputnik News, Maduro discussed a range of issues. He thanked Vladimir Putin for “provid(ing) us with assistance…in every sense of the word…”

Russia’s president “told me that we would strengthen cooperation in the economy, trade, oil, gas, military affairs, in all areas,” including by providing Venezuela with “the most modern weapons in the world” – solely for defense, never for use against other nations or the Venezuelan people the way the US and its imperial partners operate.

Addressing Guaido’s complicity with the Trump regime, he said “(t)his is the constitutional issue of Venezuelan justice. As the head of state, I believe that it was the promotion of a coup d’etat, a violation of the Constitution.” 

“But this is only the opinion of the head of state. The prosecutor general will have to act, and he has already begun to act, the Supreme Court will have to act — and it is already acting. And what the prosecutor’s office and the courts decide will be executed in the Venezuelan legal system.”

So far, an order to arrest and detain Guaido hasn’t been issued. “Let’s not rush. We will wait,” Maduro explained.

His actions flagrantly violated “the norms of international law…This is what we are going to demonstrate.”

Praising Venezuelan security forces charged with protecting him, he stressed that “there’s no doubt that Donald Trump had ordered to kill me. He told the Colombian government and the Colombian mafia to kill me.”

Since the CIA’s establishment in 1947, it’s operated as a secret unaccountable army of the state, prioritizing unlawful covert actions.

They include overthrowing democratically elected governments, assassinating heads of state and key officials, propping up friendly despots, kidnapping targeted individuals, disappearing them in torture prisons, and using an array of other state terror tactics.

The agency is a global mafia hit squad incompatible with democracy, operating with unchecked power – all sovereign independent leaders on its target list, Maduro a prime one.

Obama killed Hugo Chavez. Maduro could end up the same way. He fully understand the threat imperial America poses to him and Venezuelan sovereignty.

Asked if Russia is involved in protecting him, he said “I can’t tell you that. No comment. I’m not making any comment…I have no comment on that subject.”

Clearly it’s sensitive. Because of its ties to Venezuela, including large investments in the country, Russia may be helping to protect Maduro.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow will defend its interests in Venezuela, using “all mechanisms available to us” permitted under international law – with no further elaboration. Sino/Russian help is vital for Maduro. Both nations have significant investments in Venezuela to protect.

Maduro supports early National Assembly elections. He rules out a new presidential one. He was democratically reelected last May with two-thirds majority support.  No justification exists for holding another election, Maduro saying:

The demand by the Trump regime and supportive US vassal states “is an absurd trick by some countries obsessed with Donald Trump’s policies.” 

“We are returning to neo-colonialism when…Washington, can give orders to any country in Asia, Africa, Latin America, or the Caribbean.” 

“(W)ho are they to decide here? I won 68% of the vote. That was a legitimate victory. He held elections through a transparent electronic system with international observation.” 

“We don’t accept any ultimatum from anyone in the world, don’t accept blackmail. Venezuela’s presidential elections have been held, and if the imperialists want new elections, they’ll have to wait until 2025.”

Supported by constitutional and international law, Maduro is absolutely right. Another presidential election in the weeks or months ahead would amount to abrogating the rule of law by surrendering to imperial demands.

Maduro explained that for years, he extended outreach to US presidents. He sent messages to Trump about meeting, to establish “a dialogue, despite the political, cultural, and ideological differences between” him and DLT – to no avail.

He believes Bolton blocked diplomatic contact between both countries at the highest level. Seeking it now shows weakness, not strength.

Earlier it was a futile gesture. Washington doesn’t negotiate. It demands. Its promises when made are hollow, breached time and again in dealings with one country after another – why it can never be trusted.

The key US goal is “get(ing) (control over) Venezuelan oil since we have the biggest reserves of certified oil in the world,” Maduro correctly stressed, adding:

“We are certifying what is on track to become the biggest gold reserves in the world. We have a quarter of world’s gas. We have vast reserves of diamonds, huge reserves of drinking water, aluminum, and iron. We are a power in the field of energy resources, natural resources.”

Clearly the nation is resource rich, mainly its oil, though it’s highly unlikely to have one-fourth of the world’s natural gas, Russia and Iran having the largest known reserves.

Washington’s other key aim in Venezuela is wanting to eliminate the threat of a good example, a nation earmarking most of its wealth for social benefits for all its people, especially its most disadvantaged.

Maduro explained that thousands of US companies do business with Venezuela, operating in the country. “There are companies in the oil field like Chevron with large investments.” 

“I say to American investors in the field of oil, gas, tourism, technology, gold, and diamonds: Despite the tense relations with Trump, you are welcome.”

“Let them invest and work in Venezuela. This tension should not prevent American investments in Venezuela. We welcome them.”

The stakes are huge in the struggle to preserve and protect Venezuelan sovereign independence from aims by the Trump regime to destroy it – what the scourge of imperialism is all about, humanity’s curse.

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