Chris Hedges: The Anonymous Executioners of the Corporate State

October 07th, 2021

By Chris Hedges

Source

The Anonymous Executioners of the Corporate State Feature photo
Imprisoning the David to Chevron’s Goliath is the latest outrage by a US judiciary now engineered to always favor the interests of capital.

PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY (Scheerpost— Judge Loretta Preska, an advisor to the conservative Federalist Society, to which Chevron is a major donor, sentenced human rights attorney and Chevron nemesis Steven Donziger to six months in prison Friday for misdemeanor contempt of court after he had already spent 787 days under house arrest in New York.

Preska’s caustic outbursts — she said at the sentencing, “It seems that only the proverbial two-by-four between the eyes will instill in him any respect for the law” — capped a judicial farce worthy of the antics of Vasiliy Vasilievich, the presiding judge at the major show trials of the Great Purges in the Soviet Union, and the Nazi judge Roland Freisler who once shouted at a defendant, “You really are a lousy piece of trash!”

Donziger, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has been fighting against polluting American oil companies for nearly three decades on behalf of indigenous communities and peasant farmers in Ecuador. His only “crime” was winning a $9.5 billion judgment in 2011 against Chevron for thousands of plaintiffs. The oil giant had bought Texaco oil company holdings in Ecuador, inheriting a lawsuit alleging it deliberately discharged 16 billion gallons of toxic waste from its oil sites into rivers, groundwater, and farmland. Since the verdict, Chevron has come after him, weaponizing litigation to destroy him economically, professionally, and personally.

The sentencing came a day after Donziger petitioned the court to consider an opinion by the United Nations human rights council that found his house arrest a violation of international human rights law. The U.N human rights council said his house arrest counted as detention under international law and it was therefore illegal for Judge Preska to demand an additional six months in jail. Amnesty International also called for Donziger’s immediate release.

Donziger and his lawyers have two weeks to appeal the judge’s order that Donziger be sent immediately to jail. Preska denied Donziger bail claiming he is a flight risk. If the Federal Court of Appeals turns down Donziger’s appeal he will go to jail for six months. The irony, not lost on Donziger and his lawyers, is that the higher court may overturn Preska’s ruling against him, but by the time that decision is made he will potentially have already spent six months in jail.

“What Judge Preska is trying to do is force me to serve the entirety of my sentence before the appellate court can rule,” Donziger told me by phone on Monday. “If the appellate court rules in my favor, I will still have served my sentence, although I am innocent in the eyes of the law.”

Donziger, his lawyers have pointed out, is the first person under U.S. law charged with a “B” misdemeanor to be placed on home confinement, prior to trial, with an ankle monitor. He is the first person charged with any misdemeanor to be held under home confinement for over two years. He is the first attorney ever to be charged with criminal contempt over a discovery dispute in a civil case where the attorney went into voluntary contempt to pursue an appeal. He is the first person to be prosecuted under Rule 42 (criminal contempt) by a private prosecutor with financial ties to the entity and industry that was a litigant in the underlying civil dispute that gave rise to the orders. He is the first person tried by a private prosecutor who had ex parte communications with the charging judge while that judge remained (and remains) unrecused on the criminal case.

“No lawyer in New York for my level of offense ever has served more than 90 days and that was in home confinement,” Donziger told the court. “I have now been in home confinement eight times that period of time. I have been disbarred without a hearing where I have been unable to present factual evidence; thus, I am unable to earn an income in my profession. I have no passport. I can’t travel; can’t do human rights work the normal way which I believe I am reasonably good at; can’t see my clients in Ecuador; can’t visit the affected communities to hear the latest news of cancer deaths or struggles to maintain life in face of constant exposure to oil pollution. In addition, and this is little known, Judge [Lewis A.] Kaplan has imposed millions and millions of dollars of fines and courts costs on me. [Kaplan is the judge for Chevron’s lawsuit against Donziger; Preska is his handpicked judge for the contempt charges.] He has ordered me to pay millions to Chevron to cover their legal fees in attacking me, and then he let Chevron go into my bank accounts and take all my life’s savings because I did not have the funds to cover these costs. Chevron still has a pending motion to order me to pay them an additional $32 [million] in legal fees. That’s where things stand today. I ask you humbly: might that be enough punishment already for a Class B misdemeanor?”

Judge Preska was unmoved.

“Mr. Donziger has spent the last seven years thumbing his nose at the U.S. judicial system,” Preska said at his sentencing hearing. “Now it’s time to pay the piper.”

The six-month sentence was the maximum the judge was allowed to impose; she ruled that his house arrest cannot be counted as part of his detention. From start to finish, this has been a burlesque. It is emblematic of a court system that has been turned over to lackies of corporate power, who use the veneer of jurisprudence, decorum, and civility to make a mockery of the rule of law.

When the law is neutered, judges become the enforcers of injustice. These corporate judges, who epitomize what Hannah Arendt called the banality of evil, now routinely make war on workers, civil liberties, unions, and environmental regulations.

Preska sent Jeremy Hammond to prison for a decade for hacking into the computers of a private security firm that works on behalf of the government, including the Department of Homeland Security, and corporations such as Dow Chemical. In 2011, Hammond released to the website WikiLeaks and Rolling Stone and other publications some three million emails from the Texas-based company Strategic Forecasting Inc., or Stratfor. The sentence was one of the longest in U.S. history for hacking and the maximum Preska could impose under a plea agreement in the case. I sat through the Hammond trial. I watched Preska spew her bile and contempt at Hammond from the bench with the same vitriol she used to attack Donziger.

Preska is also infamous for her long judicial crusade to force New York public schools to provide tax-subsidized free space for evangelical churches based on blatantly illogical readings of the Constitution.

The persecution of Donziger fits a pattern familiar to millions of poor Americans who are coerced into accepting plea deals, many for crimes they did not commit, and sent to prison for decades. It fits the pattern of the judicial lynching and prolonged psychological torture of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. It fits the pattern of those denied habeas corpus and due process at Guantánamo Bay or in CIA black sites. It fits the pattern of those charged under terrorism laws, many held at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan, who cannot see the evidence used to indict them. It fits the pattern of the widespread use of Special Administrative Measures, known as SAMs, imposed to prevent or severely restrict communication with other prisoners, attorneys, family, the media, and people outside the jail. It fits the pattern of the extreme sensory deprivation and prolonged isolation used on those in our black sites and prisons, a form of psychological torture, the refinement of torture as science. By the time a “terrorist” is dragged into our secretive courts the bewildered suspect no longer has the mental and psychological capability to defend themselves. If they can do this legally to the demonized they can, and one day will, do it to the rest of us. The Donziger case is an ominous warning that the American legal system is broken.

Ralph Nader, who graduated from Harvard Law School, has long decried the capture of the courts and law schools by corporate power, calling the nation’s attorneys and judges “lucrative cogs in the corporate wheel.” He notes that law school curriculums are “built around corporate law, and corporate power, and corporate perpetration, and corporate defense.”

Victor Klemperer, who was dismissed from his post as a professor of Romance languages at the University of Dresden in 1935 because of his Jewish ancestry, astutely noted how at first the Nazis “changed the values, the frequency of words, [and] made them into common property, words that had previously been used by individuals or tiny troupes. They confiscated words for the party, saturated words and phrases and sentence forms with their poison. They made language serve their terrible system. They conquered words and made them into their strongest advertising tools [Werebemittle], at once the most public and most secret.” And, Klemperer noted, as the redefinition of old concepts took place the public was oblivious.

This redefinition of words and concepts has, as Klemperer witnessed during the rise of fascism, allowed the courts to twist the law into an instrument of injustice, revoking our rights by judicial fiat. It has seen the courts permit unlimited dark money into political campaigns under Citizens United, defending our money-saturated elections as the right to petition the government and a form of free speech. The courts have revoked our right to privacy and legalized wholesale government surveillance in the name of national security. The courts grant corporations the rights of individuals, while rarely holding the individuals who run the corporations accountable for corporate crimes.

Very few of the legal rulings that benefit corporate power have popular support. The corporate disemboweling of the country, therefore, is increasingly given cover by Christian fascists, who energize their base around abortion, prayer in schools, guns and breaking down the separation of church and state. These issues are rarely addressed in cases before federal courts. But they distract the base from the slew of pro-corporate rulings that dominate most court dockets.

Corporations such as Tyson Foods, Purdue, Walmart, and Sam’s Warehouse have poured millions into institutions that indoctrinate these Christian fascists, including Liberty University and Patrick Henry Law School. They fund the Judicial Crisis Network and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which campaigned for Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court. Barrett opposes abortion and belongs to People of Praise, a far-right Catholic cult that practices “speaking in tongues.” She and the other far-right ideologues are hostile to LGBTQ rights. But this is not why she is so beloved by corporations, who are not interested in abortion, LGBTQ equality or gun rights.

Barrett and the Christian fascists embrace an ideology that believes that God will take care of the righteous. Those who are poor, those who are sick, those who go to prison, those who are unemployed, those who cannot succeed in society do so because they have failed to please God. In this worldview there is no need for unions, universal health care, a social safety net or prison reform. Barrett has ruled consistently in favor of corporations to cheat gig workers out of overtime, green-light fossil fuel extraction and pollution and strip consumers of protection from corporate fraud. The watchdog group Accountable.US found that as a circuit court judge, Barrett “faced at least 55 cases in which citizens took on corporate entities in front of her court and 76% of the time she sided with the corporations.”

The Christian fascists, allied with organizations such as the Federalist Society, under the Trump administration gave lifetime appointments to nearly 200 judges, roughly 23 percent of all federal judgeships. That included 53 to the nation’s appellate courts, the court immediately under the Supreme Court. The American Bar Association, the country’s largest nonpartisan coalition of lawyers, has rated many of these appointments as unqualified. There are currently six Federalist Society Supreme Court justices, including Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh, who Nader calls “a corporation masquerading as a human being.” Two Federalist Society Supreme Court justices, Clarence Thomas and the late Antonin Scalia, who was an original faculty advisor to the organization founded by conservative law students in 1982, were supported in the nomination process by Joe Biden.

The stacking of the courts with corporate puppets, however, began long before Trump. It was carried out by both Republican and Democratic administrations. Preska was appointed by Republican President G.W. Bush. However, the judge who preceded Preska in the Donziger case, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, a former lawyer for the tobacco industry who had undisclosed investments in funds with Chevron holdings, according to his public financial disclosure statement, was appointed by Democratic President Clinton.

The targeting of the courts was one of the key goals of Lewis Powell, a corporate lawyer later elevated to the Supreme Court by President Nixon. In Powell’s 1971 memo to the Chamber of Commerce, a blueprint for the slow-motion corporate coup that has taken place, he called on business interests to pack the judiciary with corporate-friendly judges.

The courts in all tyrannies are dominated by mediocrities and buffoons. They make up for their intellectual and moral vacuity with a zealous subservience to power. They turn courtroom trials into opera buffa, at least until the victim is shackled and pushed out the door to a prison cell. They fulminate in caustic tirades at the condemned, whose sentence is never in doubt and whose guilt is never in question.

“It started when Texaco went into Ecuador in the Amazon in the 1960s and cut a sweetheart deal with the military government then ruling Ecuador,” Donziger told me for a column I wrote about his case a year ago. “Over the next 25 years, Texaco was the exclusive operator of a very large area of the Amazon that had several oil fields within this area, 1500 square miles. They drilled hundreds of wells. They created thousands of open-air, unlined toxic waste pits where they dumped the heavy metals and toxins that came up from the ground when they drilled. They ran pipes from the pits into rivers and streams that local people relied on for their drinking water, their fishing, and their sustenance. They poisoned this pristine ecosystem, in which lived five indigenous peoples, as well as a lot of other nonindigenous rural communities. There was a mass industrial poisoning.”

“The verdict came down, about $18 billion in favor of the affected communities, which is what it would take at a minimum to clean up the actual damage and compensate the people for some of their injuries,” Donziger told me. “That eventually got reduced on appeal in Ecuador to $9.5 billion, but it was affirmed by three appellate courts, including the highest court of Ecuador. It was affirmed by the Canadian Supreme Court, where the Ecuadorians went to enforce their judgment in a unanimous opinion in 2015.”

Chevron promptly sold its assets and left Ecuador. It refused to pay the fees to clean up its environmental damage. It invested an estimated $2 million to destroy Danziger. Chevron sued him, using a civil courts portion of the federal law famous for breaking the New York Mafia in the 1970s, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO Act. Chevron, which has more than $260 billion in assets, hired an estimated 2,000 lawyers from 60 law firms to carry out its campaign, according to court documents. But the oil giant, which did not want a jury to hear the case, dropped its demand for financial damages, which would have allowed Donziger to request a jury trial. This allowed Judge Kaplan to decide the RICO case against Donziger alone. He found credible a witness named Alberto Guerra, an Ecuadorian judge, relocated to the US by Chevron at a cost of some $2 million, who claimed the verdict in Ecuador was the product of a bribe. Kaplan used Guerra’s testimony as primary evidence for the racketeering charge, although Guerra, a former judge, later admitted to an international tribunal that he had falsified his testimony.

John Keker of San Francisco, one of Donziger’s lawyers on that case, said he was up against 160 lawyers for Chevron and during the trial he felt “like a goat tethered to a stake.” He called the court proceedings under Kaplan “a Dickensian farce” and a “show trial.”

In the end, Kaplan ruled that the judgment in the Ecuadorean court against Chevron was the result of fraud. He also ordered Donziger to turn over decades of all client communication to Chevron, in effect eradicating attorney-client privilege, a backbone of the Anglo-American legal system with roots dating to ancient Rome. Donziger appealed what was, according to legal experts following the case, an unprecedented and illegal order. While Donziger’s appeal was pending, Kaplan charged him with misdemeanor criminal contempt for this principled stance — carrying a maximum sentence of six months — as well as his refusal to turn over his passport, his personal electronics and to refrain from seeking the collection of the original award against Chevron. When the U.S. attorney’s office declined for five years to prosecute his criminal contempt charges against the environmental lawyer, Kaplan, using an exceedingly rare judicial maneuver, appointed the private law firm of Seward & Kissel, to act in the name of the government to prosecute Donziger. Neither the judge nor the law firm disclosed that Chevron has been a client of Seward & Kissel.

Kaplan also violated the established random case assignment protocol to personally assign Preska, who had served on an advisory board of the Federalist Society, a group to which Chevron has been a lavish donor, to hear the case. Kaplan had Preska demand Donziger post an $800,000 bond on the misdemeanor charge. Preska placed him under house arrest and confiscated his passport, which he has used to meet with attorneys around the world attempting to enforce the judgment against Chevron. Kaplan managed to have Donziger disbarred. He allowed Chevron to freeze Donziger’s bank accounts, slapped Donziger with millions in fines without allowing him a jury, forced him to wear an ankle monitor 24 hours a day and effectively shut down his ability to earn a living. Kaplan allowed Chevron to impose a lien on Donziger’s apartment in Manhattan where he lives with his wife and teenage son.

None of this would surprise those targeted by the tyrannies of the past. What would be surprising, perhaps, to many Americans is how advanced our own corporate tyranny has become. Donziger never stood a chance. Neither does Julian Assange. These judges are not, in the end, focused on Donziger or Assange, but on us. The show trials they preside over are meant to be transparently biased. They are designed to send a message. All who defy corporate power and the national security state will be lynched. There will be no reprieve because there is no justice.

Ecuador Elections Sitrep

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February 08, 2021

Ecuador Elections Sitrep

By Chis Faure for The Saker Blog

Ecuador’s leftist candidate Andrés Arauz declared victory in yesterday’s election Early exit polls show his socialist Correista party beating right-wing US-backed banker Guillermo Lasso massively

We’re waiting for more conclusive results, but so far this looks like a historic victory and we cannot help but be reminded of the victory in Bolivia.   Arauz will be the second left-wing economist to win the presidency in the region this past year (first being Luis Arce in Bolivia).  If by some strange reason this election still goes into a runoff round, Lasso (the western backed banker) stated days ago that he would support Perez (the candidate tied to the banker), in case he goes to the second round with Andres Arauz.  This is of course the choice of western media and western pundits who do not understand real socialism.

Ollie Vargas states:  “The Ecuadorian left has a simple but powerful argument in it’s favor. Objectively, people had a higher standard of living under Correa than they do now under the IMF-led government. All the media spin in the world can’t change that. Bolivia’s MAS also had this in their favor.”

So while we wait for results to be formalized, let’s take a quick look at Arauz speaking to a million and accompanied by Morales

The talk is that if Andrés Arauz wins in Ecuador, Latin America will build the strong post-neoliberal economies of the future. This is indeed something to pay attention to.

This past year of elections have proved: Left Peronism is the largest political force in Argentina,  the MAS is the largest political force in Boliva and  Correísmo as well as the massive movement of Citizens Revolution is the largest political force in Ecuador.  For MAS in Bolivia and the Citizens Revolution in Ecuador the leaders were either jailed or had to go into exile. The neo-liberals tried to persecute the left so that it would fizzle out and die.  In both Bolivia and now in Ecuador, these attempts failed and the citizens were out in the streets continuously.

Latin America may be changing in front of our very eyes and with continuous citizen action and their own hard work, shake off imperial shackles.

Latin America: New Old Hot Point On Geopolitical Battlefield

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

Latin America has long been regarded as the exclusive stomping ground of US economic interests, US military, and US intelligence services for much of the 19th and 20th centuries, to the point that the US public has grown to view meddling in its neighbors’ domestic politics as some sort of birthright which is still faintly rooted in the 19th century “white man’s burden” racialist policies. That the majority of Democratic Party presidential candidates supports the military coup in Bolivia, the escalating repressions in Chile, and the plundering of Brazil by the Bolsonaro regime is actually unremarkable in that regard. Such policies have long been the norm.

However, if one were to take a quick survey of recent developments in the “information battlefield” in the United States, one would be struck by the rapid elevation of Latin America to a place where direct US military action is needed. It is not just Trump who, in the aftermath of an apparently cartel-related murder of an American Mormon family in Mexico, “offered” Mexico the “help” of the US military in fighting the cartels. The latest boy-wonder of the US Establishment, “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg likewise allowed that he is “open” to the idea of sending US troops to Mexico. Neither of these statements was seen as in any way controversial by the mainstream media—even though the US public is broadly anti-war and skeptical of additional international entanglements, the Washington Establishment views the sovereignty of other countries as nothing more than legal fiction.

These politicians’ statements do not stand in isolation. Hollywood has long been “joined at the hip” with the US national security establishment and can always be relied upon to propagate the latest set of Washington talking points. While Russian villains remain the staple of US movies and video games, Latin America is gradually reclaiming its role as a battlefield and source of threats to the United States – a status it had lost after 9/11. There are now at least two currently running US TV series which specifically focus on direct US interventions in Latin America. America’s favorite CIA analyst Jack Ryan (who, it should be noted, became President on the pages of Tom Clancy’s novels after the rest of the US government was conveniently eliminated by a Boeing 747 flown into the Capitol  by a suicide pilot) is now bravely thwarting Russian plots in Venezuela. Going considerably further, Last Ship’s current season actually posits the emergence of Gran Colombia, a veritable Latin American empire which launches a Pearl Harbor-style surprise air raid which destroys the just-rebuilt US Navy with the assistance of a cyber-strike. In retaliation, the United States employs the full range of its conventional capabilities, starting with CIA covert operatives working with some modern equivalent of the Nicaraguan Contras whose connections to the drug cartels are not even concealed, and ending with US Marines landing on the shores of Latin American countries in order to “liberate” them from their own governments.

There are other indications that the US establishment is bracing for a major deterioration of the political situation “south of the border”, up to and including a major refugee crisis comparable to that which Europe has experienced. While Donald Trump has been roundly condemned for his immigration policies, particularly the deportations of Latin American refugees, the construction of a major barrier on the US-Mexico border, and the efforts to transform Mexico into a holding tank for refugees seeking admission into the United States, no senior Democratic Party politician or candidate has promised to reverse these policies.

The rekindling of interest in Latin America is a logical consequences of the drift toward a global multi-polar system. It means, first, a retrenchment in the Middle East due to the demonstrated power of Russia and China which has proved sufficient to thwart not only covert US plots but also overt uses of economic and military capabilities. This power transition has meant that even long-standing US allies such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia are adopting a multi-vector foreign policy no longer wholly centered on their relationship with the United States. It certainly does not help that the United States has proved of limited utility in resolving the many international conflicts and rivalries in that region, not only the obvious Iran-Saudi Arabia one, but also the lower-intensity Saudi Arabia—Turkey one. Since Russia is literally the only international power capable of credibly negotiating with each of these three regional rivals, its reputation as an honest broker backed up by non-trivial “hard power” has elevated its standing in the region to the detriment of the United States.

The second implication is an even closer binding of Latin American countries to the United States, with the remarkably compliant Organization of American States (OAS) which has never seen a military coup it did not like, serving as the overt instrument of control. Conversely, regional organizations which have proven resistant to US control such as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America-Trade between Peoples (ALBA-TCP) and  the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), both of which actually condemned the coup in Bolivia in strong terms, will find themselves the target of US pressure. Post-coup Bolivia’s announced departure from both of these organizations is unlikely to be an aberration, particularly since it follows on the heels of Lenin Moreno’s Ecuador’s departure from ALBA in 2018. The remaining ALBA states include Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela (in addition to several small island states), all of which are continuing targets of US regime change policies.

UNASUR also appears headed for extinction. As many as six countries, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru, suspended their membership in 2018. Chile moreover launched PROSUR, an organization explicitly intended to target Venezuela, with the initial states invited to join the new organization being  Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Guyana and Suriname, none of which can be described as pursuing policies contrary to US wishes.

The Trump Administration’s regional trade war that resulted in the launch of USMCA – a new trade pact by the US, Mexico and Canada intended to replace the North America Free Trade Association (NAFTA) is indicative of the future course of US policy. It’s doubtful that many in the region failed to note the new trade pact’s abbreviation is exactly the same as that of the US Marine Corps which has a long and dark history of invasions and occupations of Latin American states. Consistent with the plot of “Last Ship”, the US, Mexico and Canada will find themselves once again the final arbiter of trade arrangements in Latin America in the #MAGA era, an era that will not end with Trump.

Economic developments in countries that have suffered right-wing regime shifts in the last few years show the direction in which Latin America will evolve. In Brazil, Boeing was allowed to acquire the commercial aircraft division of EMBRAER which hitherto was able to compete, as an independent actor, against both Boeing and Airbus even in their own home markets. The move strengthens Boeing by making it more competitive against Airbus in certain niches that it lacked, and strips Brazil of a major industrial asset. Bolsonaro also aims to privatize another of Brazil’s economic “crown jewels”, the Petrobras energy firm which is all but guaranteed to fall into the hands of Washington-favored energy companies.  US interest in the lithium reserves in Bolivia and neighboring countries has also been well documented. Preventing Morales’ Bolivia from entering into a development deal with China was one of the main motives behind the coup. Like Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Moreno’s Ecuador is pursuing plans to allow oil drilling in the Amazon region.

The famed Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara suffered a heroic death in Bolivia, attempting to mobilize an indigenous rebellion against the post-conquistador elite. The inevitable backlash to the ever more evident US efforts to ruthlessly exploit Latin America in order to compensate for the loss of influence and business elsewhere in the world means that the United States will find itself with several insurgencies and refugee crises not halfway around the world but in its own geopolitical backyard. Their intensity will eclipse the Cold War-era struggles.  Should the United States insist on pursuing its current course, it risks losing power and influence in Latin America in the same way  it did in the Middle East.

Related News

Message for my Latin American friends (in the form of a song)

The Saker

Dear friends,

I have to admit that I am absolutely heartbroken at the news coming out of Latin America.  Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Bolivia – everywhere the people are struggling against what has been known as “Yankee imperialism” for decades.  The pendulum of history has swung back and forth many times in Latin America.  I remember the civil war in Argentina just before the coup of 1976, I was still a kid, but I remember it all.  Then the coup, the vicious and ugly “dirty war”, the disaster of the (just!) war for the Malvinas, then the years of “democracy”.  Rivers of blood, and still the new era of freedom and peace everybody kept hoping for did not come.  Now, four or five decades later, the people of Latin America are still dying and suffering under the yoke of a CIA-installed and CIA-controlled comprador class which would gladly sell their mothers and daughters to Uncle Shmuel for a few bucks.

And yet.

And yet 40 or 50 years are short when seen from the point of view of history, other struggles in history have lasted much longer.  So, as a poignant reminder that we will never lose hope, nor will we ever accept oppression, here is a song by Pedro Aznar whose beautiful lyrics will be understood by everyone from Patagonia to Mexico’s northern border (including my Brazilian friends) and which beautifully expresses the hope common to all of us!

Venceremos!

The Saker

PS: if somebody had the time to translate these lyrics into English, I would be most grateful.

SITREP: Ecuador on the brink of civil war?

by Ruben Bauer Naveira (Brazil) for The Saker Blog

This is a very short summary of an article from Adoración Gusmán (Equatorian), published on Friday, Oct 04th (in Spanish):

https://ctxt.es/es/20191002/

On the evening of Tuesday, Oct 01st, Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno announced a whole bunch of new legislation, delivering to the people of Ecuador:

– Austerity;
– Deep cuts on social rights;
– Deep cuts on taxes for the wealthiest;
– Dismissal of public workers;
– Dismantling of labor relations;
– Dismantling of social security; and so on.

On Wednesday, Oct 02nd, people gathered on the cities, and began to march through the capital city, Quito. On the same day, the police and the armed forces started to violently repress the demonstrators.

On Thursday, Oct 03rd, the government decreed the State of Exception, for 60 days.

From then on, the situation has just worsened.

This video is from yesterday, on Monday, Oct. 7th:

And these videos are from today, on Tuesday, Oct. 8th:

Then, there is also this shocking declaration, from the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE):

From which there follows a translation into English (thanks to Peter Lenny):

*******

CONAIE declares a state of exception in indigenous lands

1) In view of the public authorities’ brutality and their lack of the awareness necessary to understand the popular nature of the demands of the National Stoppage against the Package, which adversely affects Ecuadorean society as a whole and worsens the conditions of life and existence of the country’s most vulnerable popular sectors;

2) In view of the government’s insistence on advancing on our territories to exploit mining, oil and goods of nature, destroying living environments and backing the corporations’ presence with military forces;

3) Exercising our right to self-determination and our authority to administer justice in the jurisdiction of the peoples and nationalities, as recognized in the United Nations Declaration on [the Rights of] Indigenous Peoples, ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, and the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador;

The CONAIE hereby declares a state of exception in all indigenous territories.

Military and police who approach indigenous territories will be detained and subject to indigenous justice.

*******

Ecuador has been brought to the brink of civil war.

I’m Jumping Off the Trump Train: Assange Was the Last Straw

I’m Jumping Off the Trump Train: Assange Was the Last Straw

I’m Jumping Off the Trump Train: Assange Was the Last Straw

On March 6, 2016, this Deplorable issued a statement formally endorsing Donald J. Trump for the presidency of the United State.

I now hereby withdraw that endorsement.

No doubt this declaration from your Working Boy will be greeted with the same deafening indifference as my earlier less than earth-shattering announcement of support.

Keep calm. The planet will continue to spin on its axis at a 23.44 degree tilt.

As I tweeted on April 4, when it appeared that Ecuadorian President Lenín [sic] Moreno was going to cough up Julian Assange:

“If this comes to pass & #JulianAssange is brought to #US in chains like a Gaulish chieftain in a Roman triumph can we definitively declare that any possible #Trump revolution is over & the #DeepState won?”

A quick perusal of social media since Assange’s arrest shows that many others have reached a similar conclusion.

But why? To be sure, there have been other betrayals. The two strikes on Syria on phony chemical warfare accusations come immediately to mind. Or Trump’s failure to build the Mexican wall, coupled with repeated humiliating defeats in Congress with the predictability of Charlie Brown’s getting suckered by Lucy into trying to kick the football.

At the same time there were excuses. On Syria, maybe the President was fed false intelligence. Or maybe Ivanka was upsetDaaaddyyy, you have to dooo something! Or maybe Trump knew the CW accusations against Damascus were fake but felt he had to act (an ominous sign in itself) to deflect charges of being Putin’s puppet, hence what could be deemed deliberately pinprick pro forma strikes. On the wall, well you can’t trust lawyers’ advice, he just doesn’t understand his legal authority well enough, or maybe he…

But the Assange arrest and his upcoming renditi– – oops! – extradition to the United States are different.  There’s no nuance. No excuse. No false intel report. No poor legal advice.

It’s plain and simple. The same entities (Deep State, permanent government, the oligarchy, the Borg, whatever term you like) that targeted Trump with the phony Russia collusion narrative  want Assange’s scalp nailed to the wall. It’s one thing for favored outlets like the Washington Post and CNN to disseminate classified information that favors the Deep State, quite another to reveal information contrary to its interests. As the premier dispenser of embarrassing secrets that facilitates online dissidence from the established narrative (also under attack by governments and their tech giant accomplices) an example must be made of Assange pour encourager les autres. He can count on being sentenced to rotting for decades in a nasty Office Space federal prison (the US will gladly waive the death penalty to spare the Brits’ prissy Euro-consciences) but may very well die soon enough of natural causes, perhaps like Slobodan Milošević.

An essential role in Assange’s betrayal by Moreno was played by Trump’s Veep Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Former President Rafael Correa says a direct condition of Moreno’s getting a $4.2 billion IMF loan was Assange’s head on a platter. That’s a lot more plausible than establishment media reports that Assange was ejected for transgressing the Ecuadorians’ fastidious hygiene standards, which (whether based in fact or not) are just cynical defamations to justify his upcoming lynching.

It’s irrelevant whether Trump – who theoretically is the boss of all US agency operatives working with their Brit colleagues to get their mitts on Assange – let the nab go forward because he was unwilling to order his minions to stand down or was powerless to do so. In that regard, it’s similar to pointlessly asking why he has the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad national security team he does. Is it because of “Javanka”? Is it because he’s beholden to a gaggle of oligarchs? (Supposedly his being a self-financed billionaire made him immune from such influences.)  Is it areflection of a personality disorder?

In the end it doesn’t matter why, all that matters is what is. With Assange’s arrest Trump is now exposed as the wholly owned subsidiary of the Swamp he ran against.  He’s now just a wheel fixed to an axle. All he can do now is it spin.

In my 2016 endorsement I asked the questions – only questions, not predictions – of what Trump might hopefully accomplish:

‘Can we trust Trump? Will he build his wall and secure our borders? Renovate our deteriorating infrastructure? Restore our manufacturing base? Audit the Federal Reserve and defenestrate the banksters? Restore the GOP’s long-lost reputation (now hardly remembered by anyone) as the “Peace Party” that got us out of wars the Democrats started? Sign a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, as long as they continue to perform abortions (which they will)? Exclude actual or potential Islamic terroristsDump our freeloading so-called “allies”? Cease the PC trashing of every tradition in which Americans once took pride? Reunite a nation sundered by Barack Obama and the GOP mandarins, with their divide et impera Punch and Judy show of class and racial discord?

‘Can Trump really “Make America Great Again”? Or at least slow our decline and give our country another chance?

‘I don’t know.  But I do know that none of the more mannerly politicians served up by the oligarchy will.

“Trust not in princes…” (Ps. 146:3) Neither Trump nor any other politician should be accepted on blind faith. Who really can say if Trump can win or if he does how he would govern. Who can say what’s really in his mind and heart or if, in God’s eyes, he’s a good man or a bad one. But given the dire warning from the likes of Mitt Romney, I like the odds with Trump better than with any of the available alternatives. When the character of his enemies is considered – particularly Warfare State neoconservatives (some of whom at least have the honesty to defect openly to Hillary) – my willingness to gamble on him only increases.’

Even in retrospect it was then a gamble worth taking, indeed the only responsible choice given the horrifying alternative. More, given what Trump promised that departed from the usual nonsense served up by the GOP, the fact that Trump got the nomination instead of the NPCs on the shelf was itself perhaps a sign of that the historic American nation still had a fighting chance.

As for what we hoped he might deliver to “Make America Great Again,” we can see now that the answers to all of the above questions are and will remain an emphatic No. Sure, we got a marginally better tax bill passed, something that any Republican White House and Congress would have done. He may have made minor progress on trade.  If we are really lucky, he’ll get another Supreme Court pick and Roe v. Wade will be overturned – marvelous to be sure, but it won’t same this country.

Trump has utterly failed to control the border, much less deal with related issues like remittances, birthright citizenship, and aliens illegally voting. As retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor observes: “Surely, Trump should have concluded by now that without an Executive Order that commits the U.S. Army to the defense of the southern border and limits cross-border traffic to legitimate commercial activity, mass illegal immigration will not stop… In a word, Trump refuses to take command and match rhetoric with action, then he will join the pantheon of failed presidents that promised the world only, this time, the American Republic’s existence hangs in the balance.”

Unfortunately, Trump’s appointees – uniformly neoconservatives, Bush-era warmongers, and GOP apparatchiki – have better things for our military to do than defending our own country, to which they are at best indifferent. We can be thankful that Trump hasn’t started any new wars, yet, but his underlings’ dogged commitment to regime change in Venezuela and Iran may change that. His outreach to North Korea hangs by a thread in the face of blatant attempts to sabotage it.

One hopes that at least some animal-level gut instinct will preclude Trump’s crossing that dark river and ruining what’s left of his presidency as George W. Bush did in Iraq. If his lunatics are reckless enough to stumble us into a war with Russia, Trump’s reelection will be the least of anyone’s concerns.

Even without a war his remaining time in office will not be the revival of America that he promised. Let’s keep in mind that for many decades now transformative Democratic presidents have not left this country the same way they found it: FDR, LBJ, Clinton, Obama. By contrast, Republican presidents’ tenures have been at best plateaus along our decline (Eisenhower, Reagan) or positively contributed (Nixon, the two Bushes) to the march of what the Left regards as “Progress” toward their abolition of the historic America and birth of a dystopian Cultural Marxist dictatorship of victims: a borderless, multiethnic, multilingual, multireligious, multisexual, ahistorical, fake country.

Perhaps the saddest thing is that even if he survives in office until the 2020 vote (and he might not) Trump still will almost certainly be the lesser of two evils, in the manner to which we have become accustomed. Despite his no longer representing a threat to the Swamp, the critters will continue to hate him anyway as an avatar of the America they seek to destroy: European ethnicity, Christian (culturally if not spiritually or morally), English-speaking, toxically masculine. He might even win, given the Wall Street and Democratic Socialist Democrats’ ripping each others’ guts out and the solid 35 to 40 percent of the folks who think from Trump’s tweets and stump speeches he’s actually delivering on his promises.

Either way, though, the outcome will be the same. The man who had what is almost certainly to have been the last peaceful, political chance save what’s left of the American republic will thrash around for a few more years, having become little more than a catalyst for our nation’s demise and perhaps its dissolution.

This is not to say that there is no hope. Maybe tomorrow Trump will pardon Assange. Maybe he’ll decide to militarize the Mexican border. Maybe he’ll fire his whole national security team and, for good measure, pull us out of Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq – and NATO. Maybe Barr really will hold the FISA miscreants to account. Maybe…

…maybe there will be an outpouring of miracles that match the one that occurred when Trump improbably was elected in the first place. But as is the case with miracles, the odds are not good.

Ecuador SITREP: How Corrupt History Repeats Itself

April 12, 2019

by Stephen Karganovic for The Saker Blog

Ecuador SITREP: How Corrupt History Repeats Itself

The expulsion of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, scarcely a surprise after many heavy hints were being dropped that it was in the works, is outrageous on many counts. Not the least of those is the fact that Assange was made citizen of Ecuador by the government preceding that of the almost offensively misnamed current President, Lenin Moreno. Ecuador has, in effect, handed over its own citizen, who had taken refuge on its sovereign territory in London, to the tender mercies of a foreign power which sought to physically capture him on vague and probably legally unsustainable charges. In the process it has further humiliated and abased itself by giving permission to the police force of the host country to invade the sovereign premises of its diplomatic mission in order to consummate the previously agreed upon abduction.

Think about the precedents that this sinister operation is setting.

The Ecuadorian government was no doubt subjected by the world’s leading “democracies” to unimaginable pressure to agree to this dastardly act which, along with the self-proclaimed “presidency” of Juan Guaido, may have been conceived to set a new normal in international relations. But the venal, utterly corrupt nature of this scandal is most clearly reflected in the fact, published simultaneously with the execution of the criminal kidnapping, that a $4.2 billion IMF loan to Ecuador’s government was finally approved, no doubt by pure coincidence.

“This money will create work opportunities for those who have not found something stable,” Moreno gushed shamelessly. He forgot to mention for the edification of his people that the illusory opportunities he referred to will have to be repaid to international banks by Ecuador’s impoverished masses with hefty interest and that, in addition to moral ignominy, as a result his country has now sunk several billion dollars’ deeper into debt slavery.

Historical analogy buffs will recall that in 1993, as the Security Council of the United Nations was presented with Resolution 827 to establish, contrary to the provisions of the UN Charter, the illegal Hague Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the hand of Yeltsin’s delegate was never raised to veto it. If anyone is wondering about the reason, it was the expectation of a promised Western loan to cover a huge shortfall in the Russian budget and to give a new lease on life to the compliant Yeltsin regime.

Remarkable, isn’t it, how bad history repeats itself?

 

Margarita Simonian’s and Maria Zakharova’s reaction to the rendition of Julian Assange

The Saker

April 11, 2019

What happened is this: since the legacy Ziomedia hates Assange and since they were embarrassed by having this Uber-whistle-blower locked away for 7 years for daring to reveal the true nature of the AngloZionst Empire, they did not have anybody in from of the Ecuadorian Embassy when Assange was rendered.  Now they have to humiliate themselves and ask RT (whom they hate and constantly insult) for some footage.  Here is Margarita Simonian’s brilliant reaction to this state of affairs:

 

Translation: the most obvious sentence one could pass over total disgrace the world media has become can be seen in the fact that nobody was here to film the arrest of Julian Assange, only us (RT).  That in spite of the fact that everybody already new that he would be expelled.  Now they have to come and ask for our footage.
CNN and The Guardian have the gall to call us and ask how it is that we were the only ones to get this footage.
It’s obvious: you are just the spineless hypocritical servants of your Establishment and not journalists at all.  This is why such a thing happened.

As for Maria Zakharova, she truly put it beautifully:

“The hand of “democracy” chokes the neck of freedom”

I could not have put it better myself.

The Saker

British government arrests WikiLeaks founder: A short message from Julian Assange’s mother to the President of Ecuador

 

source: https://twitter.com/AssangeMrs/status/1116289498323668992

British government arrests WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on behalf of the American Empire

11.04.2019 

Written by Dr. Leon Tressell exclusively for SouthFront

British government arrests WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on behalf of the American Empire

Julian Assange

Today the UK government broke international law by arresting Julian Assange in the embassy of Ecuador at the behest of the United States. The British government has been ignoring for years demands from UN human rights experts to release Assange made back in December 2015 and December 2018.

Assange now faces extradition to the U.S. where the Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicted Assange today with a federal charge of conspiracy with Chelsea Manning to gain access to classified government records i.e. the Iraq and Afghanistan War logs. The DOJ’s press release states that Assange faces a maximum of 5 years in prison if convicted of, “ conspiracy to commit computer intrusion .”

Ecuador’s president recently visited Washington and caved in to American demands to withdraw its asylum status from Assange. The former president of Ecuador Rafael Correa, who granted Assange asylum 6 years ago has castigated the current president of his country declaring on twitter:

“The greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history, Lenin Moreno, allowed the British police to enter our embassy in London to arrest Assange. Moreno is a corrupt man, but what he has done is a crime that humanity will never forget.’’

The Trump regime with its grave concern for the human rights of people in Venezuela has now decided to step up its war against democracy by attacking the freedom of the press which is protected by the first amendment of the U.S. constitution.

The American Civil Liberties Union responded to news of Assange’s arrest with the following comment:

“Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for Wikileaks’ publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organisations. Moreover, prosecuting a foreign publisher for violating U.S. secrecy laws would set an especially dangerous precedent for U.S. journalists, who routinely violate foreign secrecy laws to deliver information vital to the public’s interest.’’

We should not forget that President Obama, who had no problems with declaring that Chelsea Manning was guilty before her trial even started and whose government convened a grand jury to indict Assange back in 2010, backed off from prosecuting Assange in 2013. The DOJ concluded that if it prosecuted Assange then it would also have to prosecute the New York Times, The Washington Post and the Guardian for publishing classified material from Wikileaks.

Not surprisingly, the actions of Washington’s puppet ally in London have been greeted with a furious response.

London based human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell accused Ecuador of failing to protect Assange:

“The decision of the Ecuadorean government to hand over Assange to the UK police is a clear violation of his Ecuadorean citizenship and asylum rights.

“Assange’s arrest will put him at risk of extradition to the US, where he will very likely face charges that could see him jailed for 30 or more years. A secret grand jury has been convened to prepare an indictment against Assange and key Trump officials have said that prosecuting Assange is a priority.

“Assange did not leak anything. He published the leaks of Chelsea Manning, as did the Guardian and New York Times. Why is he being signalled out?

“Assange published evidence of American war crimes. He’s a hero, not a criminal.

“The British government should refuse to do the bidding of the Trump administration. It should give public assurances that Assange will not be handed over the US authorities. His extradition to the US is not in the public interest.”

The leader of Spain’s Podemos party, Pablo Iglesias, has called for Assange to be released. On twitter he lambasted the actions of the UK government:

“Exploitation, injustice and the privileges of the powerful are only possible because they are built on lies. That’s why if there’s something that power fears – in Spain and elsewhere in the world – it’s the truth. Free Julian Assange.”

Time will tell if UK courts cave into American pressure and allow the extradition of Assange to the United States. In early Februray the High Court in London blocked the extradition of computer hacker Laurie Love to the United States on the grounds that conditions in American jails would have left him at a high risk of suicide. This case together with international pressure may yet save Assange from extradition to the U.S.

Regardless, this case is all about American imperialism seeking revenge upon a journalist who had the temerity to expose its war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pulitzer prize winner Glenn Greenwald, who exposed U.S. and UK global surveillance programmes based upon classified documents supplied by Edward Snowden, makes the same point in a comment directed at those elements lauding the illegal actions of the British government:

“If you’re cheering Assange’s arrest based on a US extradition request, your allies in your celebration are the most extremist elements of the Trump administration, whose primary and explicit goal is to criminalize reporting on classified docs & punish WL for exposing war crimes.’’

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