Palestinians unveil mural honoring Venezuelan, Cuban figures

By News Desk -2020-04-16

From left to right: Houari Boumédiène, Hugo Chávez, Yasser Arafat, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro.

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:10 P.M.) – A new photo released this week showed Palestinian activists unveiling a mural in honor the Venezuelan “spirit of resistance”.

The mural was painted 10 meters wide and 3 meters high near the city of Dora, in the southern part of the West Bank region. 

The mural was created in honor of Cuba and Venezuela’s solidarity with Palestine. Aside from sending medical brigades around the world, now to fight coronavirus, Cuba has also trained many Palestinian doctors. ⁠

Cuba has been a long-standing critic of the Israeli state and has often expressed its solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Venezuela, starting under the late President Hugo Chavez, maintained close ties with the Palestinian people. The South American nation helped fund a hospital in the city of Ramallah, which is now called Hugo Chávez Hospital.

Three Million Homes Delivered by Maduro’s Social Program in Venezuela

December 28, 2019

Arabi Souri

The Venezuelan Social Program launched in 2011 by late President Hugo Chavez and continued by Nicolas Maduro has achieved its 2019 goal by delivering 3 million units.

President Maduro announced in a tweet:

Nicolás Maduro@NicolasMaduro

¡Hermoso Momento! Hoy #26Dic cumplimos con la meta fijada por nuestro Comandante Chávez: construir 3 millones de viviendas para la alegría y la felicidad del pueblo venezolano. Bendito sea el día en que nació la #GMVV que va rumbo a las 5 millones de viviendas y mucho más.

“What a beautiful moment! On Dec. 26 we met the goal set by our Commander Chavez: to build 3 million dwellings for the joy and happiness of the Venezuelan people. Blessed is the day the Venezuelan Great Housing Mission (GMVV) was born, which aims to deliver 5 million homes and much more.”

Besides the oil reserves, Venezuela has that makes the US interested in exporting its ‘export version of democracy’, the social policies of this country are what makes the junta in the decision making positions of the USA and their puppet politicians mad. And now they have a real estate developer to manipulate in the White House.

The 2020 goal of the Venezuelan social program is to deliver an additional 500,000 units and by 2025 to complete 5 million units. Meanwhile, the US-installed fake president puppet Guido is pushing for the privatization of the state’s assets, in other words, to sell the properties of the Venezuelan people cheap to the same ever greedy junta in control of the West.

Imagine the country under the severe blockade and sanctions by the US and its stooges is building for its people affordable housing, what is the excuse for the super-rich and superpower countries not to do so? Ask your politicians.

Syria is another example, I’ve shared here a couple of times updates on the affordable housing program by the Syrian government, even under the vicious war of terror waged by the US and stooges all over the country, the Syrian Housing Program built 40,000 units during the war!

Syrian Housing Ministry Built 40,000 Apartments During the War

Housing is a basic human need for every human being, and it comes immediately after foodhealthsecurity, and electrical power and these are the main sectors the US and its stooges target in their economic and cross-border terrorism and wars. They’re helped in these wars by the corrupt officials in neighboring countries who fail to deliver the basics to their people.

El informe en español:

El Programa Social Venezolano lanzado en 2011 por el fallecido presidente Hugo Chávez y continuado por Nicolás Maduro ha logrado su objetivo para 2019 al entregar 3 millones de unidades.

Además de las reservas de petróleo, Venezuela tiene que hace que los Estados Unidos estén interesados ​​en exportar su “versión de exportación de la democracia”, las políticas sociales de este país son lo que enloquece a la junta en la toma de decisiones de los Estados Unidos y sus políticos títeres. Y ahora tienen un desarrollador de bienes raíces para manipular en la Casa Blanca.

El objetivo para 2020 del programa social venezolano es entregar 500,000 unidades adicionales y para 2025 completar 5 millones de unidades. Mientras tanto, el falso presidente títere instalado por Estados Unidos, Guido, está presionando para la privatización de los activos del estado, en otras palabras, para vender las propiedades del pueblo venezolano a bajo precio a la misma junta codiciosa que controla Occidente.

Imagínese que el país bajo el severo bloqueo y las sanciones de los EE. UU. Y sus secuaces está construyendo viviendas asequibles para su pueblo, ¿cuál es la excusa para que los países súper ricos y superpotencias no lo hagan? Pregúntale a tus políticos.
 
Siria es otro ejemplo, he compartido aquí un par de actualizaciones sobre el programa de vivienda asequible del gobierno sirio, incluso bajo la cruel guerra de terror librada por los EE. UU. Y los títeres en todo el país, el Programa de Vivienda Sirio construyó 40,000 unidades ¡durante la guerra!

La vivienda es una necesidad humana básica para todos los seres humanos, y viene inmediatamente después de la alimentación, la salud, la seguridad y la energía eléctrica, y estos son los principales sectores a los que se dirigen los EE. UU. Y sus secuaces en su terrorismo y guerras económicas y transfronterizas. Son ayudados en estas guerras por los funcionarios corruptos en los países vecinos que no pueden entregar lo básico a su pueblo.

US ‘Regime Changes’: The Historical Record

Global Research, November 29, 2019

First published on February 5, 2019

As the US strives to overthrow the democratic and independent Venezuelan government, the historical record regarding the short, middle and long-term consequences are mixed.

We will proceed to examine the consequences and impact of US intervention in Venezuela over the past half century.

We will then turn to examine the success and failure of US ‘regime changes’ throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Venezuela: Results and Perspectives 1950-2019

During the post WWII decade, the US, working through the CIA and the Pentagon, brought to power authoritarian client regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, Peru, Chile, Guatemala, Brazil and several other countries.

In the case of Venezuela, the US backed a near decade long military dictatorship (Perez Jimenez ) roughly between 1951-58. The dictatorship was overthrown in 1958 and replaced by a left-center coalition during a brief interim period. Subsequently, the US reshuffled its policy, and embraced and promoted center-right regimes led by social and christian democrats which alternated rule for nearly forty years.

In the 1990’s US client regimes riddled with corruption and facing a deepening socio-economic crises were voted out of power and replaced by the independent, anti-imperialist government led by President Chavez.

Image on the right: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 2005 (Source: Public Domain)

The free and democratic election of President Chavez withstood and defeated several US led ‘regime changes’ over the following two decades.

Following the election of President Maduro, under US direction,Washington mounted the political machinery for a new regime change. Washington launched, in full throttle, a coup by the winter of 2019.

The record of US intervention in Venezuela is mixed: a middle term military coup lasted less than a decade; US directed electoral regimes were in power for forty years; its replacement by an elected anti-imperialist populist government has been in power for nearly 20 years. A virulent US directed coup is underfoot today.

The Venezuela experience with ‘regime change’ speaks to US capacity to consummate long-term control if it can reshuffle its power base from a military dictatorship into an electoral regime, financed through the pillage of oil, backed by a reliable military and ‘legitimated’ by alternating client political parties which accept submission to Washington.

US client regimes are ruled by oligarchic elites, with little entrepreneurial capacity, living off of state rents (oil revenues).

Tied closely to the US, the ruling elites are unable to secure popular loyalty. Client regimes depend on the military strength of the Pentagon — but that is also their weakness.

Regime Change in Regional-Historical Perspective

Puppet-building is an essential strategic goal of the US imperial state.

The results vary over time depending on the capacity of independent governments to succeed in nation-building.

US long-term puppet-building has been most successful in small nations with vulnerable economies.

Image below: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the advocate of the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état that installed the right-wing dictatorship (Source: Public Domain)

The US directed coup in Guatemala has lasted over sixty-years – from 1954 -2019. Major popular indigenous insurgencies have been repressed via US military advisers and aid.

Similar successful US puppet-building has occurred in Panama, Grenada, Dominican Republic and Haiti. Being small and poor and having weak military forces, the US is willing to directly invade and occupy the countries quickly and at small cost in military lives and economic costs.

In the above countries Washington succeeded in imposing and maintaining puppet regimes for prolonged periods of time.

The US has directed military coups over the past half century with contradictory results.

In the case of Honduras, the Pentagon was able to overturn a progressive liberal democratic government of very short duration. The Honduran army was under US direction, and elected President Manual Zelaya depended on an unarmed electoral popular majority.Following the successful coup the Honduran puppet-regime remained under US rule for the next decade and likely beyond.

Chile has been under US tutelage for the better part of the 20th century with a brief respite during a Popular Front government between 1937-41 and a democratc socialist government between 1970-73. The US military directed coup in 1973 imposed the Pinochet dictatorship which lasted for seventeen years. It was followed by an electoral regime which continued the Pinochet-US neo-liberal agenda, including the reversal of all the popular national and social reforms. In a word, Chile remained within the US political orbit for the better part of a half-century.

Chile’s democratic-socialist regime (1970-73) never armed its people nor established overseas economic linkage to sustain an independent foreign policy.

It is not surprising that in recent times Chile followed US commands calling for the overthrow of Venezuela’s President Maduro.

Contradictory Puppet-Building

Several US coups were reversed, for the longer or shorter duration.

The classical case of a successful defeat of a client regime is Cuba which overthrew a ten-year old US client, the Batista dictatorship, and proceeded to successfully resist a CIA directed invasion and economic blockade for the better part of a half century (up to the present day).

Cuba’s defeat of puppet restorationist policy was a result of the Castro leadership’s decision to arm the people, expropriate and take control of hostile US and multinational corporations and establish strategic overseas allies – USSR , China and more recently Venezuela.

In contrast, a US military backed military coup in Brazil (1964) endured for over two decades, before electoral politics were partially restored under elite leadership.

Twenty years of failed neo-liberal economic policies led to the election of the social reformist Workers Party (WP) which proceeded to implement extensive anti-poverty programs within the context of neo-liberal policies.

After a decade and a half of social reforms and a relatively independent foreign policy, the WP succumbed to a downturn of the commodity dependent economy and a hostile state (namely judiciary and military) and was replaced by a pair of far-right US client regimes which functioned under Wall Street and Pentagon direction.

The US frequently intervened in Bolivia, backing military coups and client regimes against short-term national populist regimes (1954, 1970 and 2001).

Morales 20060113 02.jpg

In 2005 a popular uprising led to free elections and the election of Evo Morales, the leader of the coca farmers movements. Between 2005 – 2019 (the present period) President Morales led a moderate left-of-center anti imperialist government.

Unsuccessful efforts by the US to overthrow the Morales government were a result of several factors: Morales organized and mobilized a coalition of peasants and workers (especially miners and coca farmers). He secured the loyalty of the military, expelled US Trojan Horse “aid agencies’ and extended control over oil and gas and promoted ties with agro business.

The combination of an independent foreign policy, a mixed economy , high growth and moderate reforms neutralized US puppet-building.

Not so the case in Argentina. Following a bloody coup (1976) in which the US backed military murdered 30,000 citizens, the military was defeated by the British army in the Malvinas war and withdrew after seven years in power.

The post military puppet regime ruled and plundered for a decade before collapsing in 2001. They were overthrown by a popular insurrection. However, the radical left lacking cohesion was replaced by center-left (Kirchner-Fernandez) regimes which ruled for the better part of a decade (2003 – 15).

The progressive social welfare – neo-liberal regimes entered in crises and were ousted by a US backed puppet regime (Macri) in 2015 which proceeded to reverse reforms, privatize the economy and subordinate the state to US bankers and speculators.

After two years in power, the puppet regime faltered, the economy spiraled downward and another cycle of repression and mass protest emerged. The US puppet regime’s rule is tenuous, the populace fills the streets, while the Pentagon sharpens its knives and prepares puppets to replace their current client regime.

Conclusion

The US has not succeeded in consolidating regime changes among the large countries with mass organizations and military supporters.

Washington has succeeded in overthrowing popular – national regimes in Brazil, and Argentina. However, over time puppet regimes have been reversed.

While the US resorts to largely a single ‘track’ (military coups and invasions) in overwhelming smaller and more vulnerable popular governments, it relies on ‘multiple tracks’ strategy with regard to large and more formidable countries.

In the former cases, usually a call to the military or the dispatch of the marines is enough to snuff an electoral democracy.

In the latter case, the US relies on a multi-proxy strategy which includes a mass media blitz, labeling democrats as dictatorships, extremists, corrupt, security threats, etc.

As the tension mounts, regional client and European states are organized to back the local puppets.

Phony “Presidents” are crowned by the US President whose index finger counters the vote of millions of voters. Street demonstrations and violence paid and organized by the CIA destabilize the economy; business elites boycott and paralyze production and distribution… Millions are spent in bribing judges and military officials.

If the regime change can be accomplished by local military satraps, the US refrains from direct military intervention.

Regime changes among larger and wealthier countries have between one or two decades duration. However, the switch to an electoral puppet regime may consolidate imperial power over a longer period – as was the case of Chile.

Where there is powerful popular support for a democratic regime, the US will provide the ideological and military support for a large-scale massacre, as was the case in Argentina.

The coming showdown in Venezuela will be a case of a bloody regime change as the US will have to murder hundreds of thousands to destroy the millions who have life-long and deep commitments to their social gains , their loyalty to the nation and their dignity.

In contrast the bourgeoisie, and their followers among political traitors, will seek revenge and resort to the vilest forms of violence in order to strip the poor of their social advances and their memories of freedom and dignity.

It is no wonder that the Venezuela masses are girding for a prolonged and decisive struggle: everything can be won or lost in this final confrontation with the Empire and its puppets.

*

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Award winning author Prof. James Petras is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from Images.com/Corbis

Venezuela – Take 2

September 28, 2019

Venezuela – Take 2

by Jimmie Moglia for The Saker Blog

It is tacitly assumed that that the American information industry produces notices and descriptions of actual events. Whereas it routinely delivers a narrative of adulterated facts and improbable fiction – the whole blended with a top-down imposition of Zionist ideology masquerading as national interest. I say ‘Zionist’ because a country in which the word of command comes from elsewhere is nothing more than a province. Which may explain many events unequivocally alien to American interest.

All this the world well knows – at least the unknown percentage of those who like to think. However, especially with Venezuela, there has been, among media outlets and pundits, a remarkable recrudescence of the presumption of imbecility in the American public.

But it is unjust and unrealistic to blame large social groups for their assumed gullibility. No one can indict a people. Individuals are caught up in the workings of a mechanism that forces them into its own pattern. Only heroes can resist, and while it may be hoped that everybody will be one, it cannot be demanded or expected.

Nor the trend is limited to America. Western European media figures and sundry politicians, having been taught the art of the ridicule – often in ‘prestigious’ States-side universities – seldom fail to signalize themselves by zealous imitation.

Were we not dealing with the suffering of a people and the economic strangling of a nation to steal her resources, the sallies and patent ridicule of the puppets and puppet-masters involved would be a recurrent fund of merriment.

Nevertheless, it commonly happens to him who endeavors to obtain distinction by ridicule or censure, that he teaches others to practice his own arts against himself.

Trump and his cabal or cartel have tried inventive ways to revile the Venezuelan government. So far they have only succeeded in ridiculing themselves. And their narrative has reached peaks of paradox and parody, in the comical effort to give their news a semblance of credibility.

I will mention but a few instances later, so as not to leave a statement unproven, though most readers may already know some.

Still, for the contemporary Pangloss there may be a measure of consolation in the Trumpian Cabal’s orgy of ridicule. For the domineering powers are literally terrorized by the alternative narratives, official and unofficial, reaching the discerning public through social media, directly from Venezuela.

Therefore they wage a grotesque battle, a Waterloo of fake-news, attempting to choke the liberty of expression – which, in the instance, amounts to curbing the liberty of intelligence.

Given that the flux of alternative news is still relatively marginal, this censorious obsession shows that, even in the secret enclaves of power, some believe that we are nearing a turning point in collective perception, a consummation devoutly to be wished by us, and unwished by them.

It is historically interesting that in the 1960s the Jewish political-ideological machine was clamoring for freedom of expression, and succeeded in having the US Supreme Court declare that pornography is free-speech.

In turn, this opened the flood to a Weimar-Republic-style mass acculturation whose consequences do not need description – see Weinstein as emblem of Jewish Hollywood, and Epstein as emblem of Jewish pornography and pornomania.

But sixty years later, and in total control of all media channels – the same forces find free-speech hateful, and want their adversaries insulted without self-defense and censored without apologists. Witness the erasure of hundreds of alternative information channels from the web.

Meanwhile, that just about all Western European countries have joined in pretending to believe Trump’s charade, is no support for his credibility.

For “Western European countries” means their politicians. And all know well that avarice is an insatiate and universal passion – since the enjoyment of almost every object that can afford a pleasure to the different tastes and tempers of mankind, may be procured by the possession of wealth. Consequently, politicians at large rarely cease to follow the easiest path to keep, maintain and increase their wealth and emoluments. And shameless servility to the moment’s master is the commonest formula.

For one thing, the Trump cartel assumed that any populace worldwide, with its immemorial and traditional levity, would applaud any change of masters, if accompanied by suitable fanfare and the promise or prospects of bread and circuses.

Hence they believed that the Venezuelans would promptly switch their allegiance to the service of a US appointed puppet. While the fanfare could adequately dissemble the plotters’ appetite for plunder.

In one of his often-quoted related pronouncements, Trump said that,

“The problem with Venezuela is not that socialism was poorly implemented, but that socialism was faithfully implemented.”

Far from me to oppose an “ism” with another. The various ‘isms’, as used, are not fruitful principles, nor even explanatory formulae. They are rather names of diseases, for they express some element in excess, some dangerous and abusing exaggeration.

Consider ‘globalism’, ‘neo-liberalism,’ ‘fascism’, ‘communism’, ‘socialism,’ ‘radicalism’, etc. If there may be something positive in them (and there is some good sometimes in sundry “isms”) it slips through these categories.

To compare, traditional medicine classified men according to whether they were ‘sanguineous’, ‘bilious’ or ‘nervous’. But someone in good health is none of the above. Equally, a state contains (or should contain) opposing points of view, holding them as in a chemical combination, much as all colors are contained in a beam of light.

But for Trump and the deep state behind him – though it has been the same since Reagan – neo-liberal capitalism is a dogma, which to dispute is heresy, and to doubt infamy.

The recurrent self-praising claim by media pundits and politicians about America being a democracy is either misleading and cretinous information or bold and imaginative fiction. Whereas actually, in some ways, the United States is a socialist state.

For example, government statistics, easily verifiable online, show that in 2018 there were 40 million people on food stamps (read ‘very poor’). And social programs with different names but similar scope exist in every state, to provide healthcare for those on food stamps and others. Furthermore, the very ‘social security’ system has socialism imprinted in its name.

Applying the same broad analysis to the economy at large, let’s say that in one case a state-owned enterprise produces something needed. In another case a private company lobbies the state to receive the same money that the state company would have spent to manufacture the same product.

Given that both instances involve human beings, is one state ‘socialist’ because it produces directly what it needs, and another ‘capitalist’ because it lets a non-state-owned company produce the same thing?

This is not advocating one method versus another – but only to suggest that a state-owned enterprise does not imply that the state itself is ‘socialist’. In fact in many countries, including the US, the state owns many enterprises, partially or completely.

The argument is purely theoretical, and it excludes many related insoluble dilemmas and controversial questions. For example whether a state or a privately owned enterprise is more subject to corruption, etc.

Nevertheless, I do not think that Venezuela’s ‘socialism’ is the cause of Trump’s uncouth bullying, contempt and coarse insults. For, as much as it is concealed, Venezuela is actually a mixed economy.

Now, cause and effect in history can be more-or-less arbitrary patterns into which we can weave events to render them significant. Nevertheless, in the instance, greed for Venezuela’s resources cannot be, in my view, the sole explanation.

Behind Trump’s contempt and insults there is a psychological engine and the whole weight of the historical-cultural machine that actually keeps America running.

Especially the Americans (and the fever began with the industrial revolution), know very little of a state of feeling that involves a sense of rest, of deep quiet, silence within and without, a quietly burning fire, a sense of comfort, existence in its simplest form. And I apologize for the generalization that always excludes the many exceptions.

For them life is devouring and incessant activity. They are eager for gold, for power, for dominion; the aim is to crush men and to enslave nature. They show an obstinate interest in means, but little thought for the end. They confound being with individual being, and the expansion of the self with happiness — while tending to ignore the unchangeable and the eternal.

It could be described as living at the periphery of our own essence for being unable to penetrate to its core. They are excited, ardent, positive, because they are also superficial. ‘Superficial’ may suggest less intelligent but the opposite is true. Superficiality and intelligence are anything but incompatible.
Why so much effort, noise, struggle and greed? It seems a mere stunning and deafening of the self.

When death comes they recognize that it is so. — why not then admit it sooner?

Activity is beautiful when, in some ways, it also partakes of the divine in the Greek sense — that is to say, when it is spent in the service of that which does not fade and transcends the mere domain of matter.

Some readers may argue that what is true for America also applies elsewhere, in Europe for example. As I repeat, short of dogmatic assertions, the idea here is but an attempt to find a cause for a culture.

For, unlike America, Europe had, in the XIX century, the romantic movement, which thoroughly influenced millions across the continent. Its literature affected the mode of thought of multiple generations in different countries. Romanticism swept through Europe at the very time when education became universal. And I include the Russian classics as powerful agents for suggesting or imprinting images and perceptions of a view of life that could not possibly be more un-American.

Before virtually crossing to the Venezuelan shores and interpreting their view of things I should add another qualifying proposition.

An analyst or interpreter of current events (just as any historian of the past), depends on his own judgment as to what is important in human life. Even when he rigorously confines himself to one selected political or cultural phase of a country, he still has decided on what constitutes the best outcome of that phase, and on what constitutes an outcome of degradation.

The whole judgment on ideas and actions (in the instance on what happens in Venezuela), depends upon such implicit presuppositions. You cannot rate wisdom or folly, progress or decadence, except in relation to some standard of judgment and to some end in view. For, in considering the flow and the history of ideas, the notion of mere knowledge is an abstraction. Accessories of emotion and purpose always accompany knowledge.

In the instance and for what is worth, an image still comes to my mind, when I compare Venezuela with other South-American countries. In 2014 Brazil held the world’s soccer championship. Multiple TV stations from different countries could not mask on their screens that, not many yards away from a stadium, began the favelas, living emblems of almost unimaginable degradation.

Considering that stadiums and infrastructures built for such colossal events routinely decay into ruins after little time of use, a question arises as to their intrinsic and extrinsic worth.

In contrast, and even according to UN official statistics, the so-called Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela succeeded in dramatically reducing the number of people in dire poverty, while almost eliminating illiteracy. That programs of such scope are costly requires no demonstration. Whether it is preferable to invest in mass sports or in the relief of masses from illiteracy and degrading poverty, is a question that only single individuals can answer.

But it took the spirit and guts of Hugo Chavez to affect such a veritable revolution, possibly at a time when the US was not paying much attention, engaged as it was in bombing Yugoslavia and in establishing whether Clinton had or never had sex with that woman.

He who applauds the resurrection of a people, otherwise condemned as the irrelevant accessory of idle elites – who use the poor as a gauge to affirm their own ‘betterness’ – cannot feel but some sympathy towards the Bolivarian revolution. And he would feel so even without awareness of the enormous challenges and mixture of successes and defeats that accompany all epoch-making upheavals.

As for the Trump’s Cabal it would be interesting, anthropologically speaking, to understand the grotesque sociology of this flock. Their manners, as exhibited towards Venezuela, have shown a remarkable display of depravity – uniting the crimes that typically prevail among those immune from self-analysis, with the vices that spring from the abuse of power and immunity from prosecution.

Among the clowns of the Cabal, Marco Rubio deserves a special (dis)honorable mention, as the representative of a world upside-down. Including his showing a picture of Gheddafi assassinated and covered in blood, while threatening Maduro with the same outcome, should he not accede to American demands. As if the despotic power – which could take Gheddafi’s life without a trial and stigmatized his memory without proof – had any claim on using patent murder as an example of righteousness to be replicated.

Actually, I strongly doubt whether Rubio would even understand the implication of his words and gesture. Either he is a moron with the entertainment value of a tap-dancing oyster, or his head is as empty as a eunuch’s underpants.

Rubio is a senator (!) and, if I am not mistaken, was even spoken of as a candidate for president (!). Which prompts me to agree with Pythagoras that souls of animals infuse themselves into the trunks of men.

The happily departed Bolton is an equal competitor for the Olympic medal of ridicule. In the latest failed coup attempt, he proclaimed that Maduro was about to leave Venezuela for Cuba when ‘the Russians’ prevented him from boarding the plane.

As Jose’ Rodriguez – Venezuela’s Minister of Information – explained and documented on television, that ambulating Pinocchio called Guaido’ had assured Bolton that he had already corrupted and paid-off a sufficient number of generals so as to make the coup a done-deal. That wasn’t true but Bolton believed it.

All the while, the succeeding events of the failed coup make up the script of a proper farce.

Including Mike Pence’s outstanding arrogance when, in the UN assembly, had the gall to tell the Foreign Minister of Venezuela that he should not be there. As if the US had a divine right to make and unmake world governments at will. With his performance Mike Pence demonstrated to be worth less than six pence.

Of Pompeo it could perhaps be said what the historian Napier said of the British ambassador to Germany during the 1930s, “He is obtuse enough to be a menace, and yet not stupid enough to be innocuous.”

All in all, the Trump’s Cabal includes ambitious individuals, seemingly untaught or unable to observe, reason, deduce and infer, unless observation be blindness and madness logic.

Trump keeps labeling Nicolas Maduro as ‘corrupt’ and a ‘dictator’. Both words belong to the no-man’s-land of lexical ambiguity.

As for dictatorship, there have been six presidential elections, in Venezuela, since 2002. And, as readers who have followed the events know, in the last 2018 elections, the Trump Cabal ordered the opposition not to present candidates, after they had formally agreed to do so.

I will not offend the readers by proving what they already know – that charges of dictatorship may be levied against Trump and sundry predecessors on much stronger grounds.

The issue of corruption is trickier. I doubt if anyone who worked in, or had to do with, large corporations or government, never met with evidence of corruption. Without even touching on lobbying, a peculiar institution for bribing, bulldozing, and corrupting the legislators who are supposed to represent the people’s interests. Or on ‘financial engineering’, an inventive euphemism to suggest monetary genius instead of monetary fraud.

For what is worth, unable as I am to find a reliable method for measuring and assessing corruption, I pretend to do what Balzac did when he wrote his novels, though I write none.

He kept on his desk the Dictionary of Physiognomy – a monumental work in four massive volumes, written by the Swiss Abbot Johann Lavater, in the 18th century. In his novels, Balzac used Lavater’s physiognomy extensively. So that his characters, being accurately described as they are, cannot but logically behave as they do.

Physiognomy had its era of success and popularity before being dismissed as a pseudoscience. Though I suspect that many use it unconsciously when forming their first impression of an individual.

With all necessary reservations, amateurishly and therefore inaccurately, I suggest that Trump’s physiognomy reads, “Everything has a price and money buys everything. Conscience is but a word that cowards use to keep the strong in awe. Power (via money acquired from any source) is my conscience, my tool of operation and my law.”

For brevity’s sake I will not describe individual facial components of the specific physiognomy – as Lavater does in his work.

As a corollary derived from Trump’s physiognomy, “twitting” is the ideal communication tool and perfect match for his character. In his hands a ‘tweet’ means “I say so because it is and that’s it.”

By the way I am not passing judgment – however difficult it may be, the application of physiognomy should not be affected by emotional or philosophical preferences.

In fact, assuming his physiognomic profile correct, Trump is ethically consistent. Whereas, in my view, the other members of his Cabal are not. Routinely, they cannot even pretend to the smooth face of hypocrisy. They are sincere only when they are arrogant.

Again I do not pretend to be right. Two men observing the same person, or even object, will describe it diversely, according to the point of view from which either beholds it. Still, truth being the legitimate object of observation and history, it is better that she should be sought-for by many than few, lest for want of seekers, among the mists of prejudice and the false lights of interest, she’d be lost altogether.

Comparing Trump with Maduro, the difference could not be greater. Maduro’s physiognomy suggests that he takes his job as a mission. And that he has a frightful understanding of what Venezuela would revert to, if the Anglo-Zionists and their ‘lameculos’ took over. His oratory is incomparable with Trump’s. It is helped by the inherent majesty of the Spanish language, but is also evidence of a long and careful self-training and study. A remarkable achievement in itself, considering that Maduro’s political path began as a union leader among bus drivers.

For their own self-respect, we may think that the Venezuelan opposition should contain characters with greater respectability than what the world has seen so far.

The ‘interim’ president Guaido’ was recently shown holding an empty milk jug in the air while claiming that he had not enough money to buy milk for his daughter. Almost simultaneously, Venezuelan intelligence had caught Guaido’s assistant Marrero texting with other coup organizers. They were arguing about how and to assign and distribute among themselves the hundreds of millions that Uncle Sam had confiscated from the accounts of the Venezuelan bank in the US. A bank that is (was) necessary to handle the sales of Venezuelan oil to the US.

Among other exploits, Guaido’ had already ridiculed himself for believing the two Russian pranksters (’bromistas’ in Venezuelan Spanish), who faked a call from the President of Switzerland. In which the ‘president’ asked Guaido’ if the accounts of the Venezuelan government in Switzerland should be reassigned to Guaido’s name, and he agreed. And, when prompted by the bromistas, he also agreed to support the Russian pro-US candidate Navalny in a future attempt to unseat Putin.

In a theater, bad actors feel embarrassed towards the audience for their poor performance. With Venezuela it’s the audience that feels embarrassed for the actors.

Following the developments of the ongoing attempted Venezuelan coup, also yields some unusual and curious perspectives, along with the possibility of discovering other interesting Guaido’-style characters.

Readers may remember Victoria Nuland, Obama’s and Hillary’s factotum in Ukraine – passed into history for her “F-the-Europeans” pronouncement, while discussing which puppets to appoint in the US-financed, post-coup Ukrainian government.

Maybe some readers do not yet know that Victoria Nuland has a Venezuelan equivalent in the shape of a Vanessa Neumann, familiarly referred-to in the European press as “The Cracker from Caracas.”

As Wikipedia explains, Neumann is the “Venezuelan” (meaning Guaido’s) ambassador to “the court of St. James” (meaning England). Though Wikipedia modestly adds that, “The administration of Nicolás Maduro does not recognize Guaido’s diplomats.”

Besides also being Jewish, Neumann has the usual impeccable curriculum of the Vanity-Fair intellectualoids, who can read and therefore believe they can think, ever swimming with the tide of pomp that beats upon the high shores of the world. And of whom French author George Bernanos said that, “The intellectual is so often an imbecile that we should consider him as such, until he (or she) has demonstrated the contrary.”

Like others of that ilk, Neumann is the apotheosis of fake, but I mention her here for her involvement in a not-so-well-known ramification of the so-far unsuccessful coup in Venezuela.

Between Venezuela and Guyana there is a disputed territory, apparently an Eldorado of natural resources, called the Essequibo. The roots of the dispute lay in the 1600 when the Northern Provinces of Holland declared independence from Spain. The sequence of events being intricate, a summary is mandatory.

When Venezuela declared independence from Spain in 1810, thanks to Simon Bolivar, she also claimed the Essequibo as successor to the Spanish empire. For the Spaniards had originally discovered the region, established their sovereignty, settled and exercised political control.

In the meantime England also laid claims, and since England had helped Venezuela in her struggle for independence, Venezuela did not, at the time, interfere with the British claim.

Jumping many intermediate steps and disputes, in 1966 there was an agreement between Venezuela and the now independent Guyana, to delay a final decision on the settlement of the Essequibo. Even so, Venezuela maintains her claim to the rightful ownership of the territory.

Vanessa Neumann comes into the picture thanks to a telling conversation on the Essequibo between her and an assistant to Guaido’ called Manuel Avendano (link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjaSN_Hiq1I).

It appears that Neumann, or Guaido’, or both had already agreed – even prior to the attempted coup – to give ownership of the Essequibo to various American companies for exploitation.

Neumann tells Avendano that during her participation to an impending meeting of the so-called “Group of Lima” (read, the South-American countries supporting a coup in Venezuela) she will not answer any questions on the subject of the Essequibo, raised by the Guyana representative. Apparently the representative had already asked her about the related post-coup government’s intention. Or rather, officially, as she explains, “we will continue to uphold the line that we intend to appropriate ourselves of the Essequibo” – whereas they have already given it away to the American multinationals.

The current legitimate Venezuelan government has declared that the Neumann-Guaido’s arbitrary pronouncement on the Essequibo is evidence of treason by the ‘coupistas.’

Why Maduro allows Guaido’ to roam free in Venezuela, while he continues to plot for her subjugation by the US, is a puzzle for me and (I think) for those unfamiliar with the subtle tools of diplomacy. Though it is reasonable to guess that the more Guaido’ speaks and moves, the more he makes an ass of himself, hence discomposing his own cause – but it is only a supposition.

Given that Russia and China openly support and assist Venezuela, we may still hold some hope that evil may not prevail. While waiting for the verdict of time, that infallible controverter of false opinions.

Venezuela and Iran in the Crosshairs of Murderers Inc – Who is Next?

Venezuela and Iran in the Crosshairs of Murderers Inc – Who is Next?August 09, 2019

by Peter Koenig for The Saker blog

Imagine just for a moment, the World would stand up in unison, sick and tired of the aggressive killer arrogance of the United States and her vassals – and their joint war-force called NATO – and this World, our World, what’s left of it when you deduct Washington and its Brussels allies, would at once block every shipment of everything destined for the ports of the United States of America; every sea port, airport and road port. Hermetically. Nothing would enter. Nothing, no food, no medicine, no electronics, no cars – no nothing. And nothing could leave. No exports, no petrol, no grains, no meat, no pharmaceuticals and foremost, no weapons. Nothing.

And now, take your mind a step further – and imagine the same – exactly the same, a total and full blockage of Israel – nothing would enter, no food, no fuel, no medication, no machinery and especially no weapons – and nothing would leave; a full and total blockage.

This would of course be totally illegal; illegal and unacceptable, by any international law, by the standards of the UN Charter, by the Human Rights Laws and Directives – by any ethical values of human morals. Wouldn’t it? – Yet, this is exactly what these countries are doing, have been doing for decades, sanctioning to strangle and murder entire populations into death or submission. The US with Cuba; Israel with Palestine. And the coercion and strangulation go on, unabated.

The longest embargo – illegal, inhuman and outright criminal – Washington imposed on Cuba – 60 years. Because Cuba has chosen socialism as her form of state and government. Cuba survived and will never give in to the tyrant of the north.

Now the US is expanding her palette of killing by impunity to dominate and subjugate nation after nation which they do not consider bending sufficiently to the dictate of their masters. Venezuela has been targeted for two decades, ever since former President Hugo Chavez was democratically elected in 1998; and Iran, ever since the US-imposed Shah was deposed in 1979 – exactly 40 years ago – by Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Both Venezuela and Iran are rich in natural resources, especially hydrocarbons but also in gold, rare earths and other precious metals and stones.

Contrary to what one would like to imagine, international world bodies, like the United Nations and her sister and associated organizations remain just about silent. When a high-level official utters some benign criticism of the US or Israel – it flairs up for a moment in the ‘news’, then it disappears again, as if it never happened. And indeed, nothing happens. They – the US and Israel – go on with their crimes in impunity.

The latest is an open declaration of economic warfare by Washington, a total embargo on Venezuela; the embargo is now being turned into a naval blockade. Similar steps are to be taken for Iran. That literally means that no merchandise – no matter how vital for survival, like food and medication, is allowed into Venezuela. Three days ago, the US seized, totally illegally, a cargo ship attempting to deliver food and medication to Venezuela – in the Panama Canal, territory which the US does not own or control anymore.

The ship was carrying soy cakes, from which Venezuela was to produce food. Never mind, that the cargoes are fully paid for by Venezuela. And this seems to be just the beginning. Vessels leaving Venezuela with petrol deliveries to client countries are also targeted for blockage, thus confiscating, or rather stealing, Venezuela’s main source of income on which she intends to survive and feed and provide health care for her people. This, in addition to the more than 130 billion dollars total Venezuelan assets confiscated – stolen – by the US worldwide .

And nobody says beep. Almost. Yes, there are some collective protests by countries in solidarity – like key members of the Sao Paulo Forum, as well as more than 60 members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM – total 120 members) that have become especially active in recent years in defense of Venezuela within the United Nations. Protests and protest declarations also take place by ALBA members, a Latin American trade alliance (ALBA – Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, 11 members [Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica, Ecuador, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Grenada and the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis]).

But most interesting are the hypocrites, those who write and scream that Venezuelans are starving to death, that the Maduro government neglects its people – yet these accusers-in-falsehood – let the US and her vassals strangle Venezuela and steal her foreign assets, including foreign reserves and gold, food and medical imports – they are saying zilch, nada, nothing. Just watching.

To top it all off, the Human Rights Commissioner, Madame Michelle Bachelet, Hypocrite-in-chief, who recently visited Venezuela, at the invitation of President Nicolas Maduro, on a Human Rights mission, and who delivered a devastating report about Venezuela’s HR, full of lies, half-truths and outright omissions, not mentioning with one word the US inspired coup attempts, the US-funded opposition and its bloody atrocities on the Chavista population, and the strangulating and starving by the US and US-dictated European sanctions – Madame Bachelet now came forward condemning the naval blockade. Great. But she did not stand up against the deadly embargo by the US and the European Union. – What credibility remains for the Human Rights Commission? – The world can see it – it’s all bought, coerced into submission, like so many other UN agencies by the Murderers Inc.

If we are not careful, they are soon going to rule the globe. Thanks god, for Russia and China – which are also subjects of US-EU sanctioning and targeted for take-over. But they are a tiny little bit too big and too strong for this sort of games by the decaying US empire and her obedient rats on the sinking ship.

Similarly, the European Union – despots as they have been for hundreds of years as colonialists in Africa, Asia and Latin America – and continue in a modern colonial role through economic control of much of Africa – this very EU, has been sanctioning Venezuela for years on the orders of Washington, naturally, who else? – Now they condemn the naval blockade, but continue their routine sanctions regime.

According to a study carried out by the Washington DC based Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), under guidance of Mark Weisbrot, CEPR co-director and Jeffrey Sachs, economics professor, Director, Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, New York, US and EU sanctions have cost some 40,000 Venezuelan lives. This mainly since August 2017, when Washington escalated its unilateral coercive measures against Venezuela and her state oil company, PDVSA, cutting them off international financial markets.

Yes, the world would have plenty of reasons to stand up and dish out similar naval and air blockades against the US and Israel. Just as a teaser to begin with, and if that doesn’t send a strong enough wake-up message, perhaps such embargoes should be considered on a longer-term indefinite scale. It’s illegal. But we are living in a world where international laws don’t count – where laws are made, as we go, by the self-declared hegemon, the US of A, and her symbiotic Middle East ally, Israel. – So, why not nudging the legal, moral and ethical order back into balance?

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 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.

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War. The Role of Osama bin Laden and Zbigniew Brzezinski

Part II

Global Research, May 08, 2019

Read Part I from the link below.

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War

By Janelle Velina, April 30, 2019

Below is the second half and conclusion of “Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War”. While the previous sections examined the economic roots of imperialism, as well as the historical context of the Cold War within which to situate the Mujahideen, the following explores the anatomy of proxy warfare and media disinformation campaigns which were at the heart of destabilizing Afghanistan. These were also a large part of why there was little to no opposition to the Mujahideen from the Western ‘left’, whose continued dysfunctionality cannot be talked about without discussing Zbigniew Brzezinski. We also take a look at what led to the Soviet Union’s demise and how that significantly affected the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and many other parts of the world. The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for four decades now, and it will reach its 40th year on July 3, 2019. 

The original “moderate rebel”

One of the key players in the anti-Soviet, U.S.-led regime change project against Afghanistan was Osama bin Laden, a Saudi-born millionaire who came from a wealthy, powerful family that owns a Saudi construction company and has had close ties to the Saudi royal family. Before becoming known as America’s “boogeyman”, Osama bin Laden was put in charge of fundraising for the Mujahideen insurgents, creating numerous charities and foundations in the process and working in coordination with Saudi intelligence (who acted as liaisons between the fighters and the CIA). Journalist Robert Fisk even gave bin Laden a glowing review, calling him a “peace warrior” and a philanthropist in a 1993 report for the Independent. Bin Laden also provided recruitment for the Mujahideen and is believed to have also received security training from the CIA. And in 1989, the same year that Soviet troops withdrew, he founded the terrorist organization Al Qaeda with a number of fighters he had recruited to the Mujahideen. Although the PDPA had already been overthrown, and the Soviet Union was dissolved, he still maintained his relationship with the CIA and NATO, working with them from the mid-to-late 1990s to provide support for the secessionist Bosnian paramilitaries and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the destruction and dismantling of Yugoslavia.

The United States would eventually turn Bin Laden into a scapegoat after the 2001 terrorist attacks, while still maintaining ties to his family and providing arms, training, and funding to Al Qaeda and its affiliates (rebranded as “moderate rebels” by the Western media) in its more recent regime change project against Syria, which started in 2011. The Mujahideen not only gave birth to Al Qaeda, but it would set a precedent for the United States’ regime-change operations in later years against the anti-imperialist governments of Libya and Syria.

Reagan entertains Mujahideen fighters in the White House.

With the end to the cycle of World Wars (for the time being, at least), it has become increasingly common for the United States to use local paramilitaries, terrorist groups, and/or the armed forces of comprador regimes to fight against nations targeted by U.S. capital interests. Why the use of proxy forces? They are, as Whitney Webb describes, “a politically safe tool for projecting the U.S.’ geopolitical will abroad.”
Using proxy warfare as a kind of power projection tool is, first and foremost, cost-effective, since paid local mercenaries or terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda will bear the burden of combat and casualties rather than American troops in places like Libya and Syria. For example, it costs much less to pay local paramilitaries, gangs, crime syndicates, terrorist groups, and other reactionary forces to perform the same military operations as U.S. troops. Additionally, with the advent of nuclear weapons it became much more perilous for global superpowers to come into direct combat with one another — if the Soviet Union and the United States had done so, there existed the threat of “mutually assured destruction”, the strong possibility of instantaneous and catastrophic damage to the populations and the economic and living standards of both sides, something neither side was willing to risk, even if it was U.S. imperialism’s ultimate goal to destroy the Soviet Union.
And so, the U.S. was willing to use any other means necessary to weaken the Soviet Union and safeguard its profits, which included eliminating the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan even if it had neither the intent nor the means of launching a military offensive on American soil. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union had the means of producing a considerably large supply of modern weapons, including nuclear deterrents, to counter the credible threat posed by the United States. To strike the Soviet Union with nuclear missiles would have been a great challenge for the United States, since it would have resulted in overwhelming retaliation by the Soviet Union. To maneuver this problem, to assure the destruction of the Soviet Union while protecting the U.S. from similar destruction, the CIA relied on more unconventional methods not previously thought of as being part of traditional warfare, such as funding proxy forces while wielding economic and cultural influence over the American domestic sphere and the international scene.

Furthermore, proxy warfare enables control of public opinion, thus allowing the U.S. government to escape public scrutiny and questions about legal authorization for war. With opposition from the general public essentially under control, consent for U.S.-led wars does not need to be obtained, especially when the U.S. military is running them from “behind the scenes” and its involvement looks less obvious. Indeed, the protests against the war on Vietnam in the United States and other Western countries saw mass turnouts.

And while the U.S.-led aggression in Vietnam did involve proxy warfare to a lesser degree, it was still mostly fought with American “boots-on-the-ground”, much like the 2001 renewed U.S.-led aggression against Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In contrast, the U.S. assault on Afghanistan that began in 1979 saw little to no protest. The Mujahideen even garnered support from large portions of the Western left who joined the chorus of voices in the Western mainstream media in demonizing the PDPA — a relentless imperialist propaganda campaign that would be repeated in later years during the U.S. wars on Libya and Syria, with the difference being that social media had not yet gained prominence at the time of the initial assault on Afghanistan. This leads to the next question: why recruit some of the most reactionary social forces abroad, many of whom represent complete backwardness?

In Afghanistan, such forces proved useful in the mission to topple the modernizing government of the PDPA, especially when their anti-modernity aspirations intersected with U.S. foreign policy; these ultra-conservative forces continue to be deployed by the United States today. In fact, the long war on Afghanistan shares many striking similarities with the long war on Syria, with the common theme of U.S. imperialism collaborating with violent Sunni extremists to topple the secular, nationalist and anti-imperialist governments of these two former ‘Soviet bloc’ countries. And much like the PDPA, the current and long-time government of the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party in Syria has made many strides towards achieving national liberation and economic development, which have included: taking land from aristocratic families (a majority of whom were Sunni Muslims while Shia Muslims, but especially Alawites, traditionally belonged to the lower classes and were treated as second class citizens in pre-Ba’athist Syria) and redistributing and nationalizing it, making use of Syria’s oil and gas reserves to modernize the country and benefit its population, and upholding women’s rights as an important part of the Ba’athist pillars.

Some of these aristocratic landlords, just like their Afghan counterparts, would react violently and join the Muslim Brotherhood who, with CIA-backing, carried out acts of terrorism and other atrocities in Hama as they made a failed attempt to topple the government of Hafez al Assad in 1982.

The connection between the two is further solidified by the fact that it was the Mujahideen from which Al Qaeda emerged; both are inspired by Wahhabist ideology, and one of their chief financiers is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (as well as Israel, a regional imperial power and a key ally of the United States). In either case, these Wahhabi-inspired forces were vehemently opposed to modernization and development, and would much rather keep large sections of the population impoverished, as they sought to replace the PDPA and the Ba’athists with Sunni fundamentalist, anti-Shia, theological autocracies — Saudi-style regimes, in other words.

These reactionary forces are useful tools in the CIA’s anti-communist projects and destabilization campaigns against independent nationalist governments, considering that the groups’ anti-modernity stance is a motivating factor in their efforts to sabotage economic development, which is conducive to ensuring a favourable climate for U.S. capital interests. It also helps that these groups already saw the nationalist governments of the PDPA and the Syrian Ba’ath party as their ‘archenemy’, and would thus fight them to the death and resort to acts of terrorism against the respective civilian populations.

Zbigniew Brzezinski stated in a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in response to the following question:

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

[Brzezinski]: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Once again, he makes it clear that the religious extremism of the Mujahideen fighters was not an issue for Washington because the real political value lay in eliminating the PDPA and putting an end to Soviet influence in the Greater Middle East, which would give the U.S. the opportunity to easily access and steal the country’s wealth. And in order to justify the U.S. imperialist intervention in Afghanistan, as well as to obscure the true nature of the Mujahideen fighters, the intervention needed to be accompanied by a rigorous mass media campaign. The Reagan administration — knowing full well that American mainstream media has international influence — continued the war that the Carter administration started and saw it as an opportunity to “step up” its domestic propaganda war, considering that the American general public was still largely critical of the Vietnam War at the time.

As part of the aggressive imperialist propaganda campaign, anyone who dared to publicly criticize the Mujahideen was subjected to character assassination and was pejoratively labelled a “Stalinist” or a “Soviet apologist”, which are akin to labels such as “Russian agent” or “Assadist” being used as insults today against those who speak out against the U.S.-backed terrorism in Syria. There were also careful rebranding strategies made specifically for Osama bin Laden and the Mujahideen mercenaries, who were hailed as “revolutionary freedom fighters” and given a romantic, exoticized “holy warrior” makeover in Western media; hence the title of this section. The Mujahideen mercenaries were even given a dedication title card at the end of the Hollywood movie Rambo III which read, “This film is dedicated to the brave Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan”; the film itself added to the constructed romantic image as it portrayed the Mujahideen fighters as heroes, while the Soviet Union and the PDPA were portrayed as the cartoonish villains. The Rambo film franchise is well known for its depiction of the Vietnamese as “savages” and as the aggressors in the U.S. war on Vietnam, which is a blatant reversal of the truth.

The Hollywood blockbuster franchise would be used to make the Mujahideen more palatable to Western audiences, as this unabashed, blatantly anti-Soviet propaganda for U.S. imperialism attracted millions of viewers with one of the largest movie marketing campaigns of the time. Although formulaic, the films are easily consumable because they appeal to emotion and, as Michael Parenti states in Dirty Truths, “The entertainment industry does not merely give the people what they want: it is busy shaping those wants,” (p. 111). Rambo III may not have been critically acclaimed, but it was still the second most commercially successful film in the Rambo series, grossing a total of $189,015,611 at the box office. Producing war propaganda films is nothing new and has been a long staple of the Hollywood industry, which serves capitalist and imperialist interests. But, since the blockbuster movie is one of the most widely available and distributed forms of media, repackaging the Mujahideen into a popular film franchise was easily one of the best ways (albeit cynical) to justify the war, maintaining the American constructed narrative and reinforcing the demonization campaign against Soviet Russia and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Now, outside of the cinema, CBS News went as far as to air fake battle footage meant to help perpetuate the myth that the Mujahideen mercenaries were “freedom fighters”; American journalists Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, although decidedly biased against the Soviet Union and its allies, documented this ruse in which the news channel participated. In terms of proxy warfare, these were just some of the ways used to distract from the fact that it was a U.S.-led war.

The dedication title card as it originally appeared at the end of the film Rambo III.

In Afghanistan, proxy forces provided a convenient cover because they drew attention away from the fact that U.S. imperialism was the root cause of the conflict. The insurgents also helped to demonize the targets of U.S. foreign policy, the PDPA and the Soviet Union, all the while doing the majority of the physical combat in place of the American military. In general, drawing attention away from the fact that it has been the United States “pulling the strings” all along, using proxy forces helps Washington to maintain plausible deniability in regard to its relationship with such groups. If any one of these insurgents becomes a liability, as what had happened with the Taliban, they can just as easily be disposed of and replaced by more competent patsies, while U.S. foreign policy goes unquestioned. Criminal gangs and paramilitary forces are thus ideal and convenient tools for U.S. foreign policy. With the rule of warlords and the instability (namely damage to infrastructure, de-industrialization, and societal collapse) that followed after the toppling of the PDPA, Afghanistan’s standard of living dropped rapidly, leading to forced mass migrations and making the country all the more vulnerable to a more direct U.S. military intervention — which eventually did happen in 2001.

Zbigniew Brzezinski: godfather of colour revolutions and proxy wars, architect of the Mujahideen

The late Brzezinski was a key figure in U.S. foreign policy and a highly influential figure in the Council on Foreign Relations. Although the Polish-American diplomat and political scientist was no longer the National Security Advisor under Ronald Reagan’s presidency, he still continued to play a prominent role in enforcing U.S. foreign policy goals in upholding Washington’s global monopoly. The liberal Cold War ideologue’s signature strategy consisted of using the CIA to destabilize and force regime-change onto countries whose governments actively resisted against Washington. Such is the legacy of Brzezinski, whose strategy of funding the most reactionary anti-government forces to foment chaos and instability while promoting them as “freedom fighters” is now a longstanding staple of U.S. imperialism.

How were the aggressive propaganda campaigns which promoted the Mujahideen mercenaries as “freedom fighters” able to garner support for the aggression against the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan from so many on the Western left who had previously opposed the war on Vietnam? It was the through the CIA’s use of ‘soft-power’ schemes, because leftist opinion also needed to be controlled and manipulated in the process of carrying out U.S. foreign and public policy. Brzezinski mastered the art of targeting intelligentsia and impressionable young people in order to make them supportive of U.S. foreign policy, misleading a significant number of people into supporting U.S.-led wars.

The CIA invested money into programs that used university campus, anti-Soviet “radical leftist activists” and academics (as well as artists and writers) to help spread imperialist propaganda dressed up in vaguely “leftist”-sounding language and given a more “hip”, “humanitarian”, “social justice”, “free thinker” appeal. Western, but especially American, academia has since continued to teach the post-modernist “oppression theory” or “privilege theory” to students, which is anti-Marxist and anti-scientific at its core. More importantly, this post-modernist infiltration was meant to distract from class struggle, to help divert any form of solidarity away from anti-imperialist struggles, and to foster virulent animosity towards the Soviet Union among students and anyone with ‘leftist’ leanings. Hence the phenomenon of identity politics that continues to plague the Western left today, whose strength was effectively neutered by the 1970s. Not only that, but as Gowans mentions in his book, Patriots, Traitors and Empires: The Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom:

“U.S. universities recruit talented individuals from abroad, instill in them the U.S. imperialist ideology and values, and equip them with academic credentials which conduce to their landing important political positions at home. In this way, U.S. imperial goals indirectly structure the political decision-making of other countries.” (pp. 52-53)

And so we have agencies and think-tanks such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which has scholarly appeal and actively interferes in elections abroad — namely, in countries that are targets of U.S. foreign policy. Founded in 1983 by Reagan and directed by the CIA, the agency also assists in mobilizing coups and paid “dissidents” in U.S.-led regime change projects, such as the 2002 failed attempt against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, as well as helping to create aggressive media campaigns that demonize targeted nations. Another instance of this “soft power” tactic of mobilizing U.S.-backed “dissidents” in targeted nations are the number of Sunni Islamic fundamentalist madrassas (schools) sponsored by the CIA and set up by Wahhabi missionaries from Saudi Arabia in Afghanistan — which started to appear in increasing numbers during the 1980s, reaching over 39,000 during the decade. Afghanistan’s public education institutions were largely secular prior to the fall of Kabul in 1992; these madrassas were the direct, ideological and intellectual antitheses to the existing institutions of education. The madrassas acted as centres for cult-like brainwashing and were essentially CIA covert psychological operations (psy-ops) intended to inspire divisiveness and demobilize younger generations of Afghans in the face of imperial onslaught so that they would not unite with the wider PDPA-led nationalist resistance to imperialism.

The NED’s founding members were comprised of Cold War ideologues which included Brzezinski himself, as well as Trotskyists who provided an endless supply of slurs against the Soviet Union. It was chiefly under this agency, and with direction provided by Brzezinski, that America produced artists, “activists”, academics, and writers who presented themselves as “radical leftists” and slandered the Soviet Union and countries that were aligned with it — which was all part of the process of toppling them and subjugating them to U.S. free market fundamentalism. With Brzezinski having mastered the art of encouraging postmodernism and identity politics among the Western left in order to weaken it, the United States not only had military and economic might on its side but also highly sophisticated ideological instruments to help give it the upper hand in propaganda wars.

These “soft power” schemes are highly effective in masking the brutality of U.S. imperialism, as well as concealing the exploitation of impoverished nations. Marketing the Mujahideen mercenaries as “peace warriors” while demonizing the PDPA and referring to the Soviet assistance as an “invasion” or “aggression” marked the beginning of the regular use of “humanitarian” pretexts for imperialist interventions. The Cold War era onslaught against Afghanistan can thus be seen as the template for the NATO-led regime change projects against Yugoslavia, Libya, and Syria, which not only involved the use of U.S.-backed proxy forces but also “humanitarian” pretexts being presented in the aggressive propaganda campaigns against the targeted countries. It was not until 2002, however, that then-American UN representative Samantha Powers, as well as several U.S.-allied representatives, would push the United Nations to officially adopt the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine into the Charter — which was in direct contradiction to the law that recognizes the violation of a nation’s sovereignty as a crime. The R2P doctrine was born out of the illegal 78-day NATO air-bombing of Yugoslavia from March 24 to June 10, 1999. And although plans to dismantle Yugoslavia go as far back as 1984, it was not until much of the 1990s that NATO would begin openly intervening — with more naked aggression — starting with the funding and support for secessionist paramilitary forces in Bosnia between 1994-1995. It then sealed the 1999 destruction of Yugoslavia with with the balkanization of the Serbian province of Kosovo. In addition to the use of terrorist and paramilitary groups as proxy forces which received CIA-training and funding, another key feature of this “humanitarian” intervention was the ongoing demonization campaigns against the Serbs, who were at the centre of a vicious Western media propaganda war. Some of the most egregious parts of these demonization campaigns — which were tantamount to slander and libel — were the claims that the Serbs were “committing genocide” against ethnic Albanians. The NATO bombing campaign was illegal since it was given no UN Security Council approval or support.

Once again, Brzezinski was not the National Security Advisor during the U.S.-led campaign against Yugoslavia. However, he still continued to wield influence as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a private organization and Wall Street think tank. The Council on Foreign Relations is intertwined with highly influential NGOs who are essentially propaganda mouthpieces for U.S. foreign policy, such as Human Rights Watch, which has fabricated stories of atrocities allegedly committed by countries targeted by U.S. imperialism. Clearly, unmitigated U.S. imperial aggression did not end with the destruction of the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, nor with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The post-Cold War years were a continuation of U.S. imperialism’s scramble for more spheres of influence and global domination; it was also a scramble for what was left of the former ‘Soviet bloc’ and Warsaw Pact. The dismantling of Yugoslavia was, figuratively speaking, the ‘final nail in the coffin’ of whatever ‘Soviet influence’ was left in Eastern Europe.

The demise of the Soviet Union and the “Afghan trap” question

Image on the right: Left to right: former Afghan President Babrak Karmal, and former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Karmal took office at around the same time (December 1979) the PDPA requested that Moscow intervene to assist the besieged Afghanistan.

The sabotage and subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union meant that only one global hegemon remained, and that was the United States. Up until 1989, the Soviet Union had been the barrier that was keeping the United States from launching a more robust military intervention in Afghanistan, as well as in Central and West Asia. While pulling out did not immediately cause the defeat of Kabul as the PDPA government forces continued to struggle for another three years, Mikhail Gorbachev’s decision to withdraw Soviet troops arguably had a detrimental impact on Afghanistan for many years to come. Although there was no Soviet military assistance in the last three years of Najibullah’s presidency, Afghanistan continued to receive aid from the USSR, and some Soviet military advisers (however limited in their capacity) still remained; despite the extreme difficulties, and combined with the nation’s still-relatively high morale, this did at least help to keep the government from being overthrown immediately. This defied U.S. expectations as the CIA and the George H.W. Bush administration had believed that the government of Najibullah would fall as soon as Soviet troops were withdrawn. But what really hurt the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan’s army was when the Soviet Union was dismantled in 1991; almost as soon as the dissolution happened and Boris Yeltsin (with U.S. backing) took over as Russia’s president, the aid stopped coming and the government forces became unable to hold out for much longer. The U.S. aggression was left unchecked, and to this day Afghanistan has not seen geopolitical stability and has since been a largely impoverished ‘failed state’, serving as a training ground for terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda. It continues to be an anarchic battleground between rival warlords which include the ousted Taliban and the U.S. puppet government that replaced them.

But, as was already mentioned above, the “Afghan trap” did not, in and of itself, cause the dismantling of the Soviet Union. In that same interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski had this to say in response to the question about setting the “trap”:

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

[Brzezinski]: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Likewise with Cuba and Syria, the USSR had a well-established alliance with the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, one of mutual aid and partnership. Answering Kabul’s explicit request for assistance was a deliberate and conscious choice made by Moscow, and it just so happened that the majority of Afghans welcomed it. For any errors that Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary at the time, may have made (which do deserve a fair amount of criticism, but are not the focus of this article), the 1979 decision to intervene on behalf of Afghanistan against U.S. imperialism was not one of them. It is true that both the Soviet and the U.S. interventions were military interventions, but the key difference is that the U.S. was backing reactionary forces for the purposes of establishing colonial domination and was in clear violation of Afghan sovereignty. Consider, too, that Afghanistan had only deposed of its king in 1973, just six years before the conflict began. The country may have moved quickly to industrialize and modernize, but it wasn’t much time to fully develop its military defenses by 1979.

Image below: Mikhail Gorbachev accepts the Nobel Peace Prize from George H.W. Bush on October 15, 1990. Many Russians saw this gesture as a betrayal, while the West celebrated it, because he was being awarded for his capitulation to U.S. imperialism in foreign and economic policy.

Other than that, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the Soviet Union imploded due to an accumulating number of factors: namely, the gradual steps that U.S. foreign policy had taken over the years to cripple the Soviet economy, especially after the deaths of Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov. How Gorbachev responded during the U.S.-led onslaught against Afghanistan certainly helped to exacerbate the conditions that led to the dissolution. After the deaths of Brezhnev and Andropov, the Soviet Union’s economy became disorganized and was being liberalized during much of the 1980s. Not only that, but the Reagan administration escalated the arms race, which intensified after they had scrapped the ‘detente’ that was previously made in the mid-1970s. Even prior to Reagan’s hardline, bombastic rhetoric and escalation against the USSR, the Soviet Union was already beginning to show signs of strain from the arms race during the late-1970s. However, in spite of the economic strains, during the height of the war the organized joint operations between the Soviet army and the Afghan army saw a significant amount of success in pushing back against the Mujahideen with many of the jihadist leaders either being killed or fleeing to Pakistan. Therefore, it is erroneous to say that intervening in Afghanistan on behalf of the Afghan people “did the Soviet Union in.”

In a misguided and ultimately failed attempt to spur economic growth rates, Gorbachev moved to end the Cold War by withdrawing military support from allies and pledging cooperation with the United States who promised “peace”. When he embraced Neoliberalism and allowed for the USSR to be opened to the U.S.-dominated world capitalist economy, the Soviet economy imploded and the effects were felt by its allies. It was a capitulation to U.S. imperialism, in other words; and it led to disastrous results not only in Afghanistan, but in several other countries as well. These include: the destruction of Yugoslavia, both wars on Iraq, and the 2011 NATO invasion of Libya. Also, Warsaw Pact members in Eastern Europe were no longer able to effectively fight back against U.S.-backed colour revolutions; some of them would eventually be absorbed as NATO members, such as Czechoslovakia which was dissolved and divided into two states: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Without Soviet Russia to keep it in check, the United States was able to launch an unrestrained series of aggressions for nearly two decades. Because of his decision to withdraw from the arms race altogether, in a vain attempt to transform the Soviet Union into a social democracy akin to those of the Nordic countries, Gorbachev had deprived the Russian army of combat effectiveness by making significant cuts to its defense budget, which is partly why they were forced to evacuate. Not only that, but these diplomatic and military concessions with the United States gave them no benefit in return, hence the economic crisis in Russia during the Yeltsin years. Suffice to say, the Gorbachev-Yeltsin years are not remembered fondly in Russia and many regard Gorbachev as a traitor and Western agent who helped to bring the Soviet Union to its collapse. In more recent years, efforts are being made to assess the actions taken by Gorbachev with regards to Afghanistan; this includes going against and revising the resolution put forth by him which suggested that the USSR intervention was “shameful”.

In short, Afghanistan did not cause the Soviet Union’s demise even if it required large military spending. More accurately: it was Gorbachev’s impulsive decision to quickly discard the planned economy in favour of a market economy in order to appease the United States, who made the false promise that NATO would not expand eastward. If there was a real “trap”, it was this and Gorbachev played right into the hands of U.S. imperialism; and so, the Soviet Union received its devastating blow from the United States in the end — not from a small, minor nation such as Afghanistan which continues to suffer the most from the effects of these past events. For many years, but especially since the end of WWII, the United States made ceaseless efforts to undermine the USSR, adding stress upon stress onto its economy, in addition to the psychological warfare waged through the anti-Soviet propaganda and military threats against it and its allies. Despite any advances made in the past, the Soviet Union’s economy was still not as large as that of the United States. And so, in order to keep pace with NATO, the Soviet Union did not have much of a choice but to spend a large percentage of its GDP on its military and on helping to defend its allies, which included national liberation movements in the Third World, because of the very real and significant threat that U.S. imperialism posed. If it had not spent any money militarily, its demise would most likely have happened much sooner. But eventually, these mounting efforts by U.S. imperialism created a circumstance where its leadership under Gorbachev made a lapse in judgment, reacting impulsively and carelessly rather than acting with resilience in spite of the onslaught.

It should also be taken into account that WWII had a profound impact on Soviet leadership — from Joseph Stalin to Gorbachev — because even though the Red Army was victorious in defeating the Nazis, the widespread destruction had still placed the Soviet economy under an incredible amount of stress and it needed time to recover. Meanwhile, the convenient geographical location of the United States kept it from suffering the same casualties and infrastructural damage seen across Europe and Asia as a result of the Second World War, which enabled its economy to recover much faster and gave it enough time to eventually develop the U.S. Dollar as the international currency and assert dominance over the world economy. Plus, the U.S. had accumulated two-thirds of the world’s gold reserves by 1944 to help back the Dollar; and even if it lost a large amount of the gold, it would still be able to maintain Dollar supremacy by developing the fiat system to back the currency. Because of the destruction seen during WWII, it is understandable that the Soviet Union wanted to avoid another world war, which is why it also made several attempts at achieving some kind of diplomacy with the United States (before Gorbachev outright capitulated). At the same time, it also understood that maintaining its military defenses was important because of the threat of a nuclear war from the United States, which would be much more catastrophic than the Nazis’ military assaults against the Soviet Union since Hitler did not have a nuclear arsenal. This was part of a feat that U.S. imperialism was able to accomplish that ultimately overshadowed British, French, German, and Japanese imperialism, which Brzezinski reveals in his book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives: an unparalleled military establishment that, by far, had the most effective global reach which allowed the U.S. to “project forces over long distances”, helping it to assert its global domination and impose its “political will”. And what makes the American Empire distinct from the Japanese Empire, British Empire, and other European empires is that one of the bases for its ideology is the socially constructed international hierarchy of nations, and not races as was the case with the other aforementioned empires. This constructed international hierarchy of nations is more effective because it means not only greater expansionism, but also the greater ability to exercise global primacy and supremacy. More specific to Central Asia and the Middle East, the Wahhabist and Salafist groups propped up by the CIA were always intended to nurture sectarianism and discord in order to counter a mass, broad-based united front of nations against imperialism — an example of divide-and-conquer, which is an age-old tradition of empire, except this time with Neoliberal characteristics.

Therefore, the Mujahideen against Afghanistan should not be thought of simply as “the Afghan trap”, but rather as the U.S. subjugation and plundering of West and Central Asia and an important milestone (albeit a cynical one) in shaping its foreign policy with regards to the region for many years to come. If one thing has remained a constant in U.S. foreign policy towards West and Central Asia, it is its strategic partnership with the oil autocracy of Saudi Arabia, which acts as the United States’ steward in safeguarding the profits of American petroleum corporations and actively assists Western powers in crushing secular Arab and Central Asian nationalist resistance against imperialism. The Saudi monarchy would again be called on by the U.S. government in 2011 in Syria to assist in the repeated formula of funding and arming so-called “moderate rebels” in the efforts to destabilize the country. Once again, the ultimate goal in this more recent imperial venture is to contain Russia.

Cold War 2.0? American Supremacy marches on

The present-day anti-Russia hysteria is reminiscent of the anti-Soviet propaganda of the Cold War era; while anti-communism is not the central theme today, one thing remains the same: the fact that the U.S. Empire is (once again) facing a formidable challenge to its position in the world. After the Yeltsin years were over, and under Vladimir Putin, Russia’s economy eventually recovered and moved towards a more dirigiste economy; and on top of that, it moved away from the NATO fold, which triggered the old antagonistic relationship with the United States. Russia has also decided to follow the global trend of taking the step towards reducing reliance on the U.S. dollar, which is no doubt a source of annoyance to the U.S. capitalist class. It seems that a third world war in the near future is becoming more likely as the U.S. inches closer to a direct military confrontation against Russia and, more recently, China. History does appear to be repeating itself. When the government of Bashar al Assad called on Moscow for assistance in fighting against the NATO-backed terrorists, it certainly was reminiscent of when the PDPA had done the same many years before. Thus far, the Syrian Arab Republic has continued to withstand the destabilization efforts carried out by the Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups and Kurdish militias at the behest of the United States, and has not collapsed as Libya, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan did.

But what often gets overlooked is the repeated Brzezinskist formula of funding highly reactionary forces and promoting them as “revolutionaries” to Western audiences in order to fight governments that defy the global dictatorship of the United States and refuse to allow the West to exploit their natural resources and labour power. As Karl Marx once said, “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” Such a phenomenon is no accident or a mere mistake. The geopolitical instability that followed after the overthrow of the PDPA ensures that no sound, united, and formidable opposition against U.S. imperialism will emerge for an indefinite number of years; and it seems that Libya, where the Brzezinskist-style of regime change also saw success and which is now a hotbed for the slave trade, is on the same path as Afghanistan. This is all a part of what Lenin calls moribund capitalism when he discussed the economic essence of imperialism; and by that, he meant that imperialism carries the contradictions of capitalism to the extreme limit. American global monopoly had grown out of U.S. foreign policy, and it should go without saying that the American Empire cannot tolerate losing its Dollar Supremacy, especially when the global rate of profit is falling. And if too many nations reject U.S. efforts to infiltrate their markets and force foreign finance capital exports onto their economies in order to gain a monopoly over the resources, as well as to exploit the labour of their working people, it would surely spell a sharp decline in American Dollar hegemony. The fact that the United States was willing to go as far as to back mercenaries to attack the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and fight the Soviet Union, as well as to spend billions of dollars on a highly elaborate but effective propaganda campaign, shows a sign of desperation of the American Empire in maintaining its global hegemony.

Since the end of World War II the United States has been, and is by and large still, the overwhelming world-dominating power. It is true that the American Empire is in decline, in light of increasing trends towards “de-Dollarization,” as well as the rise of China and Russia which pose as challenges to U.S. interests. Naturally, Washington will desperately try to cling on to its number one position in the world by accelerating the growth of its global monopolies — whether it is through placing wholly unnecessary tariffs against competitors such as China, or threatening to completely cut Venezuelan and Iranian oil out of the global market — even if it means an increasing drive towards World War III. The current global economic order which Washington elites have been instrumental in shaping over the past several decades reflects the interests of the global capitalist class to such an extent that the working class is threatened with yet another world war despite the unimaginable carnage witnessed during the first two.

When we look back at these historical events to help make sense of the present, we see how powerful mass media can be and how it is used as a tool of U.S. foreign policy to manipulate and control public opinion. Foreign policy is about the economic relationships between countries. Key to understanding how U.S. imperialism functions is in its foreign policy and how it carries it out — which adds up to plundering from relatively small or poorer nations more than a share of wealth and resources that can be normally produced in common commercial exchanges, forcing them to be indebted; and if any of them resist, then they will almost certainly be subjected to military threats.

With the great wealth that allowed it to build a military that can “project forces over long distances,” the United States is in a unique position in history, to say the least. However, as we have seen above, the now four decade-long war on Afghanistan was not only fought on a military front considering the psy-ops and the propaganda involved. If anything, the Soviet Union lost on the propaganda front in the end.

From Afghanistan we learn not only of the origins of Al Qaeda, to which the boom in the opioid-addiction epidemic has ties, or why today we have the phenomenon of an anti-Russia Western “left” that parrots imperialist propaganda and seems very eager to see that piece of Cold War history repeat itself in Syria. We also learn that we cannot de-link the events of the 2001 direct U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and what followed from those of 1979; Afghanistan’s colonial-feudal past, its break from that with the 1978 Saur Revolution, and the U.S.-led Mujahideen are all as much of a part of its history (and the Greater Middle East, by extension) as the events of 2001. It cannot be stressed enough that it is those historical conditions, particularly as they relate to U.S. foreign policy, that helped to shape the ongoing conflict today.

Obviously, we cannot undo the past. It is not in the interests of the working class anywhere, in the Global South or in the Global North, to see a third world war happen, as such a war would have catastrophic consequences for everyone — in fact, it could potentially destroy all of humanity. Building a new and revitalized anti-war movement in the imperialist nations is a given, but it also requires a more sophisticated understanding of U.S. foreign policy. Without historical context, Western mass media will continue to go unchallenged, weaning audiences on a steady diet of “moderate rebels” propaganda and effectively silencing the victims of imperialism. It is necessary to unite workers across the whole world according to their shared interests in order to effectively fight and defeat imperialism and to establish a just, egalitarian, and sustainable world under socialism. Teaching the working class everywhere the real history of such conflicts as the one in Afghanistan is an important part of developing the revolutionary consciousness necessary to build a strong global revolutionary movement against imperialism.

*

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Originally published by LLCO.org on March 30, 2019. For the full-length article and bibliography, click here.

Janelle Velina is a Toronto-based political analyst, writer, and an editor and frequent contributor for New-Power.org and LLCO.org. She also has a blog at geopoliticaloutlook.blogspot.com.

All images in this article are from the author; featured image: Brzezinski visits Osama bin Laden and other Mujahideen fighters during training.

“People Who Never had a Voice Now Have One and will Never Give it up Again”

Interview with Venezuelan in Canada

*re-published at Global Research

Eva Bartlett 

On April 25th, I gave a talk on some of what I had seen in Venezuela, March-April, sharing photos and clips–with an emphasis of allowing people to hear voices our media generally silences or pretends don’t exist.

In Q & A, the issue of discrimination and racism in Venezuela was raised. This eloquent Venezuelan musician replied to the question so articulately, and disturbingly, that I asked him to re-address it on camera after the event.

Do listen to his words not only on the racism that still exists (not only in Venezuela but in media portrayal of Venezuelans), that in the 80s there actually was a crisis, unlike today, and that the people won’t let their revolution end.

Excerpts:

“In 1999, for the 1st time every in any country in South America, a law was passed to not discriminate against people of colour. People that never had a voice now have one and will never give it up again. You can go to the remotest area in my country and everybody can read. Everybody knows their rights and knows that their voice counts.” <!–more CONTINUE READING–>

“In Venezuela, its a racism that’s very alive, but hidden under class status. When you come to Canada, you just don’t see Venezuelans that look like me, at all. Or even if you go to the States, anywhere you go, you’re not gonna see Venezuelans that look like me.”

“What the Canadian public, the American public and the international community are watching is a huge Hollywood show.”

“I have a challenge for anyone in the opposition to simply answer one question: What would they do different? What is their plan? If they’re planning to go back to those great old days (sarcasm), the people are not having it. Two million militias, old people, young people, everybody knows what the United States is doing. My mother is 70, she’s about to join the militia!”

Behold the Breathtaking Weakness of the Empire!

 • APRIL 30, 2019

The Empire has suffered painful defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq, but one has to admit that these are “tough” countries to crack. The Empire also appears to have lost control of Libya, but that is another complex country which is very hard to control. We also saw all the pathetic huffing and puffing with the DPRK. But, let’s be honest, the US never stood a chance to bully the DPRK into submission, nevermind invading or regime-changing it. Syria was much weaker, but here Russia, Iran and Hezbollah did a world class job of repelling all the AngloZionist attacks, political and military. Besides, I for one will never blame Trump for not listening to Bolton and not triggering WWIII over Syria (yet?)

But Venezuela?!

No Hezbollah or Iran backing Maduro there. And Venezuela is way too far away from Russia to allow her to do what she did in Syria. In fact, Venezuela is in the proverbial “backyard” of the US and is surrounded by hostile puppet regimes. And yet, tonight, it appears that the US puppet Guaidó has failed in his coup attempt.

Moon of Alabama did a great job covering the events of the day, so I will refer you to the excellent article “Venezuela – Random Guyaidó’s New Coup Attempt Turns Out to Be A Dangerous Joke“. I fully concur that today’s coup was both a joke and very dangerous.

Russian readers can also check out this article by Vzgliad which also gives a lot of interesting details, including the fact that Guaidó launched his coup from the Colombian Embassy in Caracas (see here for a machine translation).

But the thing which amazes me most tonight is the truly breathtakingly pathetic weakness of the clowns who launched this latest failed operation: Pompeo and Mr MAGA. Check them out:

Let’s begin with Pompeo.

According to him, the coup failed because of Russia (what else is new?)! Not only that, but Maduro had already decided to run to Cuba, but then the Russians stopped him.

Really?

So are we to believe that the coup was a stunning success, yet another feather to the CIA’s “hat” of failed successful covert operations? Apparently so.

After all, why would Maduro want to run unless he realized that the situation was hopeless?

But then “Russia” called him and told him to stay put. The conversation must gone something like this:

Putin: Mr Maduro – you don’t need to worry about a thing. Just do what we tell you and stay put.
Maduro: but my people hate me! They all turned against me! The military is behind the coup!
Putin: no, no, it’s all under control, just stay put.
Maduro: but the mob will lynch me if I stay!!!!
Putin: no worries, nobody will touch you.

Does that dialog look credible to you? I sure hope not! I think that anybody with a modicum of intelligence ought to realize that Maduro’s decision to stay in place could only have been based on one of two possible considerations:

  1. The coup has failed and Maduro is safe or
  2. The coup is successful and Maduro will stay and fight till his last breath (like Allende did)

But tonight Maduro is safe in Caracas and the coup plotters are on the run.

The truth is that only a loser and imbecile like Pompeo could come up with such a lame excuse in a desperate attempt to “cover his ass” and blame his failure on the Neocon’s favorite scapegoat: Russia.

Now let’s check what his boss had to say:

Trump does not blame Russia. Instead, he blames Cuba!

I don’t know what kind of silly scenarios Mr MAGA ran in his head to come up with “the Cubans did it” but that is even more ridiculous than “the Russians did it”. Reading this “tweets” (how appropriate for this bird-brain!) one could get the impression that the Cubans launched a full-scale military attack (involving both the Cuban military and “militias”) and that they orchestrated a brutal crack-down on the Venezuelan people.

In the real world, however, Cuba did nothing of the sort.

But, really, who cares?!

In the Empire of Illusions fact don’t matter. At least to the leaders of the AngloZionist Empire who continue to believe that only spin matters.

In the case of Venezuela, spin alone failed.

So what’s next?

According to the typical scenario revealed to us by John Perkins, the next step should be a full-scale US invasion. And yes, he is right, that would be what the Empire would have done in its heyday. But nowadays?

Check out this interesting news snippet: Eric Prince wants Blackwater to send 5,000 mercenaries to Venezuela (does anybody know why and how these clowns came up with the 5,000 figure? First Bolton, now Prince. Do they really think that this is enough?!).

The point is not whether Prince will ever get to send mercenaries to Venezuela or whether the Trump administration is inclined to accept this offer. The point is that Prince would have never made this offer in the first place if the US military was up to the task. It is not, and Prince knows that very well.

The military stands by the Constitutional government of Venezuela
The military stands by the Constitutional government of Venezuela

As for Maduro, he seems to have the support not only of a majority of his people, but of the Venezuelan armed forces. As for the armed forces, they are clearly enjoying the support of the people.

This is a very bad combination for the Empire. Here is why:

Yes, Venezuela has immense problems. And yes, both Chavez and Maduro have made mistakes. But this is not about Chavez or Maduro, this is about the rule of law inside and outside Venezuela. This is about the people of Venezuela, even the suffering ones, not willing to renounce the sovereignty of their country. Yes, Chavez did not solve all of Venezuela’s problems, but to deliver the country to the Empire would mean crushing any hope of true, real, people power. The Venezuelan people apparently have no illusions about their Yankee neighbors and they don’t want the Empire-style “democracy” to turn Venezuela into the next Libya.

I should never say never, and God only knows what tomorrow (May 1st) will bring (Guaido has called for a mass protests) but my gut feeling is that the Empire “injected” itself into Venezuela just enough to trigger an immune reaction, like a vaccine, but not enough to infect Venezuela with a toxin powerful enough to kill it.

In the meantime, US aircraft carriers are in the Mediterranean trying to scare Russia, Syria and Iran all at the same time. I can just imagine the disgusted contempt with which this latest sabre-rattling with outdated hardware is received in Moscow, Damascus or Tehran. Even Hezbollah remains utterly unimpressed.

The truth is that the only people who have not come to the realization that the Empire is broken and defeated are the rulers of the Neocon deep state and those who still watch the legacy Ziomedia.

By now everybody else has realized who utterly impotent the Empire has become.

Conclusion:

The Empire only appears to be strong. In reality it is weak, confused, clueless and, most importantly, run by a sad gang of incompetent thugs who think that they can scare everybody into submission in spite of not having won a single significant war since 1945. The inability to break the will of the people of Venezuela is only the latest symptom of this mind-boggling weakness.

I will leave the last word to this charming lady who really said it all:

Canada and the Propaganda War on Venezuela

Global Research, April 27, 2019

“I have ground zero information on everything that happens there. And trust me, what the Canadian public, and the American public and the international community are watching is a huge Hollywood show.”

– Venezuelan in Canada, from an interview with Eva Bartlett

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Click to download the audio (MP3 format) 

The US and Canada have long sought regime change in Venezuela.

In order to enable this agenda, the political leadership of the two countries have been drowning their populations with propaganda. According to the standard account, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has undemocratically ceased power, and is oppressing his own people. President Maduroand his predecessor Hugo Chavez are singularly to blame for a devastating economic situation forcing millions to flee the once prosperous South American nation. [1]

Mainstream media, pundits, and popular television comedy show hosts like John Oliver are only too happy to uncritically echo these interpretations of the plight of the Venezuelan people. More to the point, they appear to be presenting as fact an embellishment of the difficulties facing ordinary and poor Venezuelans.

Among standard talking points: people across the nation are taking to the streets to oppose Maduro’srule, leading to violent reprisals by the government and crackdowns on dissident mediaMaduro’smismanagement of the economy has led to empty grocery store shelves. President Maduro, back in February, authorized the destruction of aid entering the country from neighbouring Columbia. Maduro’spresidency is illegitimate and the opposition National Assembly’s recognition of Juan Guaidó as interim President is constitutionally valid.

Audiences in the U.S. and Canada are led to believe the people of Venezuela overwhelmingly oppose Maduro’s ‘grip’ on power, but are helpless to challenge his ‘authoritarian’ rule.

As with ‘humanitarian wars’ Western nations have sanctioned over the last two decades, even liberal critics of their nations’ interventionist policies feel the need to express their position with a disclaimer of sorts along the lines of ‘He may be a bad guy, but…’

Aggressive foreign policy toward Venezuela or any other country requires at least tacit support from domestic populations in nominally democratic countries like Canada, hence the need by Western leaders to control the foreign policy narrative. This is why it is necessary for the broader public to ascertain the actual facts on the ground, and confront the assertions providing a pretext for foreign interference, particularly military intervention, in another country’s internal affairs.

This week, the Global Research News Hour takes on conventional messaging on the Venezuela situation with three provocative interview guests.

In the first half hour, frequent guest Yves Engler joins us to share some insights into Canada’s actual interests in Venezuela as well as provide background on a specific Canadian think tank, known as the Canadian International Council, which is acting to shape Canadian policy in an imperialistic direction. Excerpts of a recent talk by former Canadian Ambassador to Venezuela, Ben Rowswell are incorporated into this discussion.

In the second half hour, two Canadian journalists, Eva Bartlett and Dimitri Lascaris, talk about what they saw and experienced in Venezuela during their recent visits to the country. They also help us make sense of social and mainstream media distortion of the realities on the ground.

Yves Engler is one of Canada’s foremost Canadian foreign policy critics and dissidents. He is the author of nine books on Canadian foreign policy including The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy (2009), and his most recent, Left, Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada. His articles have appeared at rabble.ca, canadiandimension.com, and on his own site yvesengler.com.

Dimitri Lascaris is a lawyer, activist, and journalist. A former partner with Siskinds LLP, Lascaris was once named one of Canada’s most influential lawyers by Canadian Lawyer Magazine. He is currently a correspondent and Board member of The Real News Network and the Chair of the Board of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Palestine. She is a recipient of the International Journalism Award for International Reporting. Eva recently returned from a visit to Venezuela. She will be speaking in Hamilton on Monday April 29th.

(Global Research News Hour Episode 257)

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca . Excerpts of the show have begun airing on Rabble Radio and appear as podcasts at rabble.ca.

The Global Research News Hour now airs Fridays at 6pm PST, 8pm CST and 9pm EST on Alternative Current Radio (alternativecurrentradio.com)

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C – Thursdays at 1pm PT

Boston College Radio WZBC 90.3FM NEWTONS  during the Truth and Justice Radio Programming slot -Sundays at 7am ET.

Port Perry Radio in Port Perry, Ontario –1  Thursdays at 1pm ET

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border.

It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia, Canada. – Tune in  at its new time – Wednesdays at 4pm PT.

Radio station CFUV 101.9FM based at the University of Victoria airs the Global Research News Hour every Sunday from 7 to 8am PT.

CORTES COMMUNITY RADIO CKTZ  89.5 out of Manson’s Landing, B.C airs the show Tuesday mornings at 10am Pacific time.

Cowichan Valley Community Radio CICV 98.7 FM serving the Cowichan Lake area of Vancouver Island, BC airs the program Thursdays at 6am pacific time.

Campus and community radio CFMH 107.3fm in  Saint John, N.B. airs the Global Research News Hour Fridays at 10am.

Caper Radio CJBU 107.3FM in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia airs the Global Research News Hour starting Wednesday Morning from 8:00 to 9:00am. Find more details at www.caperradio.ca

RIOT RADIO, the visual radio station based out of Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario has begun airing the Global Research News Hour on an occasional basis. Tune in at dcstudentsinc.ca/services/riot-radio/

Radio Fanshawe: Fanshawe’s 106.9 The X (CIXX-FM) out of London, Ontario airs the Global Research News Hour Sundays at 6am with an encore at 4pm.

Los Angeles, California based Thepowerofvoices.com airs the Global Research News Hour every Monday from 6-7pm Pacific time.

Notes:

  1. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-363198772.html

نحن وفنزويلا أعمق من الظاهر بكثير

أبريل 4, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– ليس مهماً أن يلعب بعض المسؤولين اللبنانيين سياسة صغيرة في التعامل مع التهديد الذي تعيشه فنزويلا تحت وطأة الاستهداف الأميركي، فهذا على قشرة الأحداث ونتيجة تلاعب بالأبعاد العميقة للمسألة الفنزويلية، وإدخالها في محاور الإرضاء والاسترضاء التي يقيم لها بعض المسؤولين حساباً أكبر من معاني القضايا وحجمها، فالقضية ليست سياسية، ولا هي تموضع على محاور شرقية وغربية بقدر ما هي قضية العلاقة الواحدة بين دول أقامها المستوطنون البيض على حساب السكان الأصليين من حُمر البشرة او سُمر البشرة، ولا تزال نيران الحروب الأهلية التي أشعلوها جمراً تحت الرماد، ولا تنفكّ تبث سخونتها وتقذف حممها عند كلّ اهتزاز في طبقات المجتمع، يشبه انشقاق طبقات الجيولوجيا لقشرة الأرض في حالات البراكين والزلازل.

– في الذاكرة العميقة ليست أميركا و«إسرائيل» إلا كيانين استيطانيين للبيض الوافدين، وقد قاموا بتهجير ومحاولة إبادة السكان الأصليين، أبناء البشرتين الحمراء والسمراء، وليست فنزويلا بالنسبة لواشنطن إلا شبيهاً للبنان وسورية والأردن، بالنسبة لـ «إسرائيل»، أيّ بلاد السكان المنتمين للون بشرة السكان الأصليين ذاتها، الذين تمّ تهجير من بقي منهم إليها بعد حروب الإبادة. فالسكان الحمر في فنزويلا هم أشقاء السكان الحمر الذين هجّرتهم حرب الإبادة التي قامت عليها أميركا، والسكان السمر في لبنان وسورية والأردن هم أشقاء السكان السمر الذين هجرتهم حرب الإبادة التي شنّت في فلسطين.

– مهما حاول الأميركيون تسييس معركتهم مع فنزويلا ومهما قبل بعض الفنزويليين مساعي السياسة للتلاعب بالذاكرة، سيبقى جذر الصراع كامناً في أصل القضية التي بدأت قبل قرون وانتهت بقيام دولة الاستيطان على حساب السكان الأصليين. وستبقى فنزويلا دولة الثقل للسكان الحمر الذين لم تنته الحرب عليهم من المستوطنين البيض، وهي تتجدّد كلما سقط الطلاء الخارجي للخطاب الديمقراطي، فتظهر العنصرية من بين ثنايا الخطاب المأزوم والغاضب، كما هو خطاب الرئيس دونالد ترامب، فينفضح التزييف وتظهر الحقيقة، تماماً كما يحدث عندما تحاول تل أبيب تحويل القضية الفلسطينية إلى قضية سياسية أو يرغب بعض العرب التلاعب بالتاريخ لحساب المصالح الصغيرة فيتوهّمون تخطياً لعمق الصراع بأخذه إلى اللعبة السياسية.

– اقتبس وزير خارجية فنزويلا في اللقاء التضامني مع بلاده الذي عُقد في بيروت، عبارات لرئيسين أميركيين سابقين، ما بعد حرب الاستقلال الأميركية تدعو لبقاء الاستعمار الإسباني على السكان الحمر في أميركا الجنوبية، أو استبداله باستعمار أميركا الشمالية لهم، لأنّ المهمّ أن تبقى سلطة البيض على الحمر. وهذا كان الحال في جنوب أفريقيا بين سلطة الاستعمار البريطاني أو سيطرة المستوطنين البيض. المهمّ أن يكون للبيض سيطرة على السود. وهكذا هي حال «إسرائيل» لا مكان عندها للسكان الأصليين، وإلا فما معنى الإصرار على الطابع اليهودي للدولة؟

– عندما وقف الزعيم الفنزويلي الراحل هوغو شافيز مع فلسطين ومن بعده الرئيس نيكولاس مادورو لم يفعلا سوى البحث عن عمق اللقاء أكثر من قشرة السياسة. وعندما يقف المقاومون في لبنان وسورية وفلسطين مع فنزويلا شافيز ومادورو لا يفعلون سوى البحث عن عمق اللقاء أكثر من قشرة السياسة. وعندما يتلاعب سياسيون عرب ولبنانيون بالصراع مع «إسرائيل» أو بالتعامل مع فنزويلا، فهم يتهرّبون من عمق الصراع ويسبحون على قشرة السياسة.

– كما الصراع مع «إسرائيل» ضارب في جذور فلسطين، وسيشهد محطاته الحاسمة فيها، بين السكان الأصليين والمستوطنين الوافدين، الصراع مع المشروع الاستعماري الأميركي ضارب في جذور المجتمع الأميركي، وسيشهد محطاته الحاسمة فيها بين السكان الأصليين الحمر البشرة والمستوطنين الوافدين، وما تفعله فنزويلا كدولة مقاومة هو ما يفعله ذاته لبنان وسورية كبلدين للمقاومة، الصمود ريثما يتولى السكان الأصليون لحظة الصراع الفاصلة، بمثل ما فعل السود في جنوب أفريقيا.

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Netanyahu, Trump, and the inevitable failure: A strength that changed the face of the history نتنياهو وترامب والفشل المحتوم: قوة فعلت فغيّرت وجه التاريخ

Netanyahu, Trump, and the inevitable failure: A strength that changed the face of the history

مارس 20, 2019

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The current American and Israeli situation may summarize the new balances experienced by the world in the light of the consequences of eight-year war on Syria. Within a month from the beginning of the American war on Venezuela, the leader of the opposition appointed by Washington as a president and its allies have chosen him as a legitimate president has fled from justice moving among the capitals involved in the coup. Moscow and Beijing vetoed for the first time against the American attempts to legitimatize the coup. Before a month of the American elections imposed by the balances of powers after a war of test on Gaza, Benjamin Netanyahu faces judicial charges of corruption after he returned from a failed visit to Moscow where he did not get a green light to continue the raids on Syria.

Those who are obsessed by the American power can talk whatever they want about the American-Israeli retreat as a smart plan, or by retreating one step to go forward two steps or by the policy of fortifying. But the fact is the same in all the battlefields. The negotiations run by the American President Donald Trump with the leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un and which were described by him as the victory of the century, and which he explained in details and  their results in advance, and considered as the most important achievements in his first term are collapsing all at once, and what has been predicted by Trump about tempting Korea with financial incentives has been failed due to the presence of the professional Korean  negotiator who presented tempting suggestions, but when the matters reached seriously he showed his commitment to his principles “ the coincidence between lifting the sanctions and dismantling the nuclear issue” so Trump returned disappointed.

The magical solutions of Trump for the Palestinians regarding the Palestinian cause are the same magical solutions for the Koreans; Your national dignity versus financial incentives, he will not gain but the same result, even if the Arab rulers gathered, along with  the funds of Gulf, the effect of Egypt and Jordan and the Israeli brutality, the Palestinians decided that they will not sign the contract of humiliation even if they are not able to end the occupation now, since the coming generations will be able to end it soon. Trump betted on a quick fall of Iran under the pressure of sanctions and siege, but Iran became stronger and now it is preparing for future rounds along with the increasing power, presence, and spread of the resistance axis, the apparent victory of Syria, the rootedness in the equations of Iraq and Yemen, and a legendary steadfastness in Palestine. Russia which America betted on its adapting by temptations, sanctions, and threats is continuing its progress steadily as a keeper of the international law and the concept of the independent country and the national sovereignty of the countries depending on its achievement in Syria to support the steadfastness of Venezuela, the stability of Korea, and more coherence with Iran.

Washington’s allies which were a strong alliance a decade ago, now they become weak, Warsaw’s conference in comparison with the Syrian Friends’ Conference is enough to describe the scene. The contradictions are spreading over the allies’ campaign. Europe and Turkey have their own options, while Washington is followed only by those who are defeated and who need the support. Neither the maneuvers in postponing the withdrawal from Syria nor the talk about the remaining in Iraq can change the equations and the balances, because the equations will impose themselves on America and will oblige it to withdraw.

The essential thing unrecognized by America and Israel is that the spirit of the resistance which won in 2000 in the south of Lebanon as an outcome of the Syrian-Iranian convergence depending on the concept of the national sovereignty and the right of resisting the occupation has become a global spirit that moves victorious from one front to another, Therefore, it is prosecuted from  Lebanon, to Yemen, to Iraq,  to Venezuela under the name of  cells of Hezbollah, repeating the scene of the squares of Nabatieh when the demonstrators were shouting for Ashura “Haidar Haidar” recalling the Imam Ali while they were confronting the occupation’s artilleries,  then the Israeli commander asked his soldiers to bring Haidar the organizer of the demonstrations. Just as Haidar of Nabatieh was an intangible spirit, Hezbollah in Venezuela and Korea was like that, it reflects the spirit, the resistance, and the will of peoples which cannot be suppressed.

This is illustrated by Al Sayyed Hassan Nasrollah in his equation “the time of defeats is over, now it is the time of victories” and this has been described by the late leader Hugo Chavez “Poor and naïve can draw their own fate by themselves” commenting on the winning of the resistance in the war of July 2006, and this has been told by the founder of The Syrian Social Nationalist Party Antoine Saadeh “ There is a strength in you, if you use it you can change the face of history” .

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

نتنياهو وترامب والفشل المحتوم: قوة فعلت فغيّرت وجه التاريخ

مارس 1, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– قد تشكّل الصورة التي تظهر فيها الحالة الأميركية والحالة الإسرائيلية في يوم واحد، تلخيصاً للتوازنات الجديدة التي يعيشها العالم في ضوء نتائج حرب الثماني سنوات على سورية، فخلال شهر من بدء الحرب الأميركية على فنزويلا، يصبح زعيم المعارضة الذي نصبته واشنطن رئيساً وبايعه حلفاؤها رئيساً شرعياً، فاراً من وجه العدالة يتنقل بين عواصم الدول المتورّطة في الانقلاب، بينما تسجّل موسكو وبكين أول فيتو بوجه المحاولات الأميركية لشرعنة الانقلاب، وقبيل شهر من الانتخابات المفبركة التي فرضتها موازين القوى بعد حرب اختبارية مع غزة، يواجه بنيامين نتنياهو اتهامات قضائية بالفساد، وهو عائد من زيارة فاشلة إلى موسكو لم يحصل فيها على ما أسمته أوساط حكومته، بالضوء الأخضر الروسي لمواصلة الغارات على سورية.

– يستطيع المأخوذون بانبهار بالقوة الأميركية أن يفلسفوا كما يشاؤون توصيف التقهقر الأميركي الإسرائيلي بالخطة الذكية، أو بالتراجع خطوة للتقدّم خطوتين، أو بالتمسكن للتمكّن، لكن الحقيقة نفسها تفرض ذاتها في كل ساحات المواجهة. فالمفاوضات التي أدارها الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب مع زعيم كوريا الشمالية، كيم جونغ أون، ووصفها بانتصار القرن، وأسهب في شرح ميزاتها ونتائجها مسبقاً ورفع سقوف التوقعات فيها إلى حد اعتبارها أهم الإنجازات التي ستتحقق في ولايته الأولى، تنهار دفعة واحدة، وما توقعه ترامب من سهولة ابتلاع اللقمة الكورية السائغة بمحفزات مالية مغرية، انقلب إلى شوك يصعب ابتلاعه بظهور المفاوض الكوري المحترف، الذي قدّم الإيحاءات المغرية، وعندما وصلت الأمور للحدّ الفاصل أشهر ثوابته، التوازي والتزامن بين فك العقوبات وتفكيك الملف النووي، فعاد ترامب يجرّ أذيال الخيبة.

– ما يبشّر به ترامب من حلول سحرية للقضية الفلسطينية يقوم جوهرها على عرض مشابه للفلسطينيين عن العرض الأميركي للكوريين، كرامتكم الوطنية مقابل حوافز مالية، فلن يلقى سوى النتيجة ذاتها، ولو احتشد كل حكام العرب، ومعهم مال الخليج، وتأثير مصر والأردن، وبالمقابل الوحشية الإسرائيلية، فقد قرر الفلسطينيون أنهم قادرون على عدم توقيع صك الذل، وإن كانوا غير قادرين على إنهاء الاحتلال اليوم، فإن الأجيال القادمة ستتكفّل بذلك، وما راهن عليه ترامب من سقوط سريع لإيران تحت ضغط العقوبات والحصار، يتبدّد وإيران تزداد قوة وتستعدّ لجولات مقبلة، ومعها محور المقاومة الذي ازداد قوة وحضوراً وانتشاراً، وأمامه نصر بائن في سورية وتجذّر في معادلات العراق واليمن، وصمود أسطوري في فلسطين، وروسيا التي راهن الأميركي على تطويعها بالإغراءات والعقوبات والتهديدات تواصل تقدّمها بثبات كحارس للقانون الدولي ومفهوم الدولة المستقلة والسيادة الوطنية للدول، مستقوية بقوة الإنجاز في سورية لتتجه نحو دعم صمود فنزويلا، وثبات كوريا، والمزيد من التماسك مع إيران.

– حلفاء واشنطن الذين كانوا حلفاً صلباً يتقدّم قبل عقد من الزمن، يتقلص ويبهت ويذبل، ومشهد مؤتمر وارسو مقارنة بمؤتمر أصدقاء سورية يكفي لرسم الصورة، والتناقضات تفتك بمعسكر الحلفاء، فترسم أوروبا وتركيا خياراتهما الخاصة، ولا يصطفّ وراء واشنطن إلا الصغار الذين لا يقدمون ولا يؤخرون، أو المهزومون الذين يحتاجون مَن ينصرهم، ولا تنفع مناورات تأجيل الانسحاب من سورية والحديث عن البقاء في العراق في تغيير المعادلات والتوازنات، فاليوم أو بعد حين ستفرض هذه المعادلات نفسها على الأميركي وتجبره على الانسحاب، وما لم تفعله الآلاف لن تنجح بفعله المئات.

– الشيء الجوهري الذي لم يستطع الأميركي والإسرائيلي ومَن معهما إدراكه، هو أن روح المقاومة التي انتصرت عام 2000 في جنوب لبنان، كثمرة للتلاقي السوري الإيراني بالاستثمار على مفهوم السيادة الوطنية للدول وحق مقاومة الاحتلال للشعوب، صارت منذ ذلك التاريخ روحاً عالمية تنتقل من جبهة إلى جبهة وتنتصر، فيلاحقونها تحت شعار خلايا حزب الله، من لبنان إلى اليمن إلى العراق إلى فنزويلا، معيدين الصورة التي رسمت في ساحات النبطية عندما كان المتظاهرون يهتفون في عاشوراء «حيدر حيدر» مستذكرين الإمام علي وهم يهاجمون آليات جيش الاحتلال، فيكون ردّ قائد القوة الإسرائيلية بأن يطلب من جنوده أن يجلبوا إليه حيدر هذا، باعتباره منظم التظاهرات، ومثلما كان حيدر النبطية روحاً لا يُمسَك بها، حزب الله في فنزويلا وكوريا، ليس وجوداً لخلايا، بل هو الروح المقاومة والإرادة الحية للشعوب، التي خرجت من القمقم ولا تستطيع قوة في العالم إعادتها إليه.

– هو هذا الذي سمّاه السيد حسن نصرالله، في معادلة «ولى زمن الهزائم وجاء زمن الانتصارات، «ووصفه الزعيم الراحل هوغو شافيز، بـ«أن بمستطاع الفقراء والبسطاء أن يكتبوا مصيرهم بأيديهم»، معلقاً على انتصار المقاومة في حرب تموز 2006، وهو ما قاله ذات يوم مؤسس الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي أنطون سعاده، الذي يحتفل القوميون اليوم بعيد ميلاده، «إن فيكم قوة لو فعلت لغيّرت وجه التاريخ»، وها هو التاريخ يتغيّر أيّها العظيم من أمتي.

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Tragicomedy of Errors

March 17, 2019

by Jimmie Moglia for The Saker Blog

Tragicomedy of Errors

The sublime Plato said that the soul has a trinitarian composition – a very coarse soul in the belly, a loving one in the chest and a reasoning third in the head. The soul is immortal, though women have only two souls, for they are missing reason.

But a father attending the Council of Macon (585 AD), from across the banks and shoals of time, answered, “Plato you speak like an idolater.” And the very same council with a majority of votes, assigned to women a trinitarian and equally immortal soul.

Nevertheless neither Plato nor the Council addressed the issue of individuals who lost their souls, or maybe never had one. As an instance, those who plotted, organized and attempted to carry out the current coup in Venezuela are soul-less creatures – or if they have one, it’s a soul of shit.

Their spiritual fiber, if any, could be surmised from their background, antecedents, demeanor and physiognomy. For you have only to look at Trump’s special counsel for Venezuela and say to yourself, “Here comes the devil, in the likeness of Elliot Abrams.”

The bulk of Mike Pompeo suggests a lack of understanding that dainty bits make rich the ribs but bankrupt quite the wits. Bolton is the physical and verbal embodiment of obnoxiousness. With his ridiculous personal threats against the head of a foreign, noble and independent country, – almost as old as the United States – he has confirmed his credentials as an arrogant, vainglorious, diabolic and dangerous imbecil. And completely unaware that it will come to pass that every braggart shall be found an ass. As for Pence, and he is but an auxiliary and complementary purveyor of nonsense.

Looking at them from the outside and listening to their babble, an impartial observer must conclude that the nature of obsessive lies rests in the incomprehension of things. Otherwise, even a modest understanding would prompt them to lay aside their irksome mask of dissimulation.

And by assenting, consenting and authorizing the despicable charade, from a beacon of some kind of hope Trump has transformed himself into a prince of darkness. For it takes an almost immeasurable flexibility of conscience in pretending to make America great by stealing another nation’s oil, minerals and natural resources.

Maybe he was persuaded to believe that conscience is but a word that cowards use, devised by some to keep the strong in awe. Or he shrewdly realized that by promising no involvement in foreign wars or their equivalent, he could open the eyes of expectation. And in the scale of human feelings, emotions and excitement, delivery is definitely duller than hope, hence of lesser impact than promises.

Some may question my qualifications for so unflatteringly describing the Washington quadrumvirate of plotters. To them I’d respond that emperor Caligula made a senator out of his horse. But that did not change the nature of the horse, once he became a senator.

As a humble chronicler of events, I hesitate to tell my twenty-five readers what they already know about Venezuela. But in the instance, the information, or rather the confirmation, comes from a direct source. For I follow a European group, self-explainingly called NO-NATO. Considering the apocalyptic portrait of Venezuela given by NATO’s bosses and acolytes, and the dramatically conflicting information available from other unaffiliated parties, the group decided that the best way to solve the riddle was to listen to an unbiased envoy who traveled on site and reported accordingly.

This “special envoy” travelled to Venezuela as a tourist and visitor.

Even without her report we knew already of the small but vociferous comprador class of Venezuela and their progeny. Namely, those who commute from Venezuela to Miami for the weekend – the idle and sometimes-dangerous nonsense generators, who flourish wherever men and women are tired of the truth.

The chief profession of this class is to do nothing, followed by long periods of rest. Incidentally, when Trump, to berate Venezuela, proclaims that the US will never be a socialist state, he is mistaken. For what better definition of socialism can there be, than that applicable to a class whose only necessary requirement for living in idle luxury is to exist? In this respect, the US holds and cherishes one such class. Therefore the US is indeed a socialist state.

Here are some notes from our envoy’s report.

In Mid-February, she flew and arrived safely at Caracas airport, which – she says – looks no different from any other similar airport, and safely travelled to downtown. Life appeared normal with no war-fever in the air, though the people appear to be “permanently mobilized.” Two million of them have enrolled into the Bolivarian militia, ready to defend their country.

On Feb 23rd 2019 she joined a massive pro-Maduro demonstration. “A sea of red jerseys and red caps. Youth… of every age paraded in a mile long line under a scorching sun. Following and taking-in the length of the procession, it was easy to perceive the peaceful and cheerful firmness of the Bolivarian people. One woman said to me, “Here are the Chavez’ people. He did not die and now he has become millions.” An activist, wearing sun glasses made to resemble Chavez’ eyes, held a placard that said, “The UN must stop the aggression against Venezuela.”

In a long speech from the podium, without apparent or noticeable security measures, president Maduro announced the breaking of diplomatic relations with Colombia. And he added, “Against all this hatred, we want peace, but with independence. Does Trump want to use humanitarian aids to invade us? We are the ones who defend humanitarian rights and the international law, which prohibits interference to disrupt the life of other countries. Yes there is a crisis. But have we perhaps reduced the social missions, have we taken away pensions or eliminated food subsidies? – What if the puppet Guaidò and his ilk were to rule here? Can you imagine?””

“Later, at a conference called “Assembly of the Peoples” I spoke with Ramon, who lives here but is originally from Spain. He said, “The hatred against the poor, here in Venezuela, reminds me of what my grandparents in Spain told me about the civil war: when the Republic introduced a series of rights for the whole population: schools, voting, trade unions. The upper classes developed a deep hatred against the poor who, organized by the trade unions, began to obtain some rights. The middle class saw this as a loss of their standing in society. It’s the same here in Venezuela during the last years.

The hatred does not even come from the most powerful capitalists – they are in Miami. It comes from the middle class itself.
When Chavez became president, for the first time in the history of the country, he gave eight million Venezuelans an identity card. Before that move, those millions officially did not exist. They couldn’t have a bank account, nor the right to a state subsidy nor could they vote. Before Chavez only the rich and the middle class went to university. With Chavez, they had to share schools and universities with people whom they rated as their inferiors. They did not like it one bit.””

Along the streets, market stalls sell food-items, fruits and vegetables. Prices are on par with Europe. But it is not here that Venezuelans on minimum wage do their shopping. Their needs are addressed by a public system called CLAP (Comités Locales de Abastecimiento y Producción = Local Committees of Provisions and Production.) Monthly or bi-weekly, the system supplies packages of food to 6 million households, with distribution entrusted to the condos. The cost for each supply package is minimal though it may not be enough.

Conversation with woman met on a bus.

This is a short exchange with Eliana, who, getting off the enormous and very crowded (but always free) bus, directs herself towards the subway station ‘La Hoyada.’ “We will do everything not to end like Syria or Libya” – she says.

Outside the station, people are gathering. They wear the red Chavist shirt. Among them, Eliana recognizes and waves at one of the founders of the Bank for the Development of Women (Banco de Desarrollo de la Mujer), where Eliana works.

“Inside the metro station Mr. Andrade (of Portuguese family, who grows potatoes at Merida, in the Andean area,) explains to me why in this emergency period, the transport service is free, “to try to help the people, during this crisis.”

Inside the train, I notice the lack of avid smartphone readers. Few have one and exhibiting is considered tasteless.”

I only reported parts of the report. The reader can compare with the official output from the controlled US media and draw his conclusions.

The reader will be equally aware of the nation-wide electrical black-out of Venezuela, occurred on Mar 7, 2019. Mr. Jorge Rodriguez, Venezuelan Vice President for Communications, has given a pretty exhaustive explanation of the three-fold stages of the terrorist act in a video (link at the end of article for those interested).

That it was a CIA planned operation is beyond question. Particularly meaningful, I think, is the relative little care the CIA took, to hide its involvement. Indeed, two minutes and forty seconds after the attack, that cesspit of inhumanity, senator (!) Marco Rubio, – (in)famous for threatening Maduro to resign or ending up like Gheddafi shown dying in a picture – issued the following tweet,

“Alert. Information about a total electrical blackout affecting the whole of #Venezuela. 18 of the 23 (Venezuelan) states and the district of the capital are now affected by total black-out. The main airport has no energy and the reserve generators have failed. The #MaduroRegime is a complete disaster.” (ALERTA: Informes de un apagon completo en todo #Venezuela en este momento. 18 de los 23 estados y el distrito capital se enfrentan actualmente a apagones completos. Aeropuerto principal tambien sin energia y generatores de respaldo han fallado. #MaduroRegime Es un completo desastre.)
How could he know that the reserve generators had failed?

Almost simultaneously broadcast, here is Guaido’s, “Venezuela knows that the light will return with the cessation of the usurpation. Let’s move on. During my tour in the South, we sought support to address this crisis. We will defeat the blockade of progress with mobilization. See you next Saturday in the streets! (Venezuela tiene claro que la luz llega con el cese de la usurpacion. Sigamos adelante. Durante nuestra gira en el sur, buscamos apoyos para atender esta crisis. El bloqueo al progreso lo vencemos com movilizacion. Nos vemos el sabado en la calle!)

Mike Pompeo’s was more laconic, “No food, No medicine. Now no power. Next, no Maduro.”

The electrical “desastre” was to be the 9/11 of Venezuela. It failed. Perhaps we can say Maduro 2 – Abrams 0.

By the way and as we know, efforts at unseating Hugo Chavez while alive have a long history. For example, some may remember Pat Robertson, fundamentalist Christian guru and patron of the “Jews for Jesus” movement. He promoted on national TV the idea that the US military should directly “take out” (sic) Hugo Chavez.

And here is a document produced by an organization called Canvas (Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies), founded in 2004 in Belgrade (Serbia). Financed by the US government, CANVAS trains youth operatives to be deployed in countries where the US plans a regime change. Among CANVAS’ first ‘products’ was a movement called “Generation 2007.” Its objectives were to foment and create disorders against Hugo Chavez and his plans to relieve poverty by re-directing the oil profits to the needs of the nations. Guaido’ was a trainee in that movement. As you can see from the following document, recently released, even then the CIA sought the Venezuelan electrical grid as a target.

“Key to Chavez’s current weakness is the decline in the electricity sector. There is a grave possibility that some 70% of the country’s electricity grid go dark as soon as April 2010. Water levels at the Gurie dam are dropping, and the Chavez has been unable to reduce consumption sufficiently to compensate for the deteriorating industry. This could be the watershed event, as there is little that Chavez can do to protect the poor from the failure of that system. This would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate. At this point in time, an opposition group would be best served to take advantage of the situation and spin it against Chavez and towards their needs. Alliances with the military could be critical because in such a situation of messy public unrest and rejection of the presidency, malcontent sections of the military will likely decided to intervene, but only if they believe they have sufficient support. This has been the pattern in the past three coup attempts. Where the military thought it had enough support, there was a failure in the public to respond positively (or the public responded in the negative), so the coup failed.”

An old Italian proverb that says “The devil builds the (black) pots, but forgets (to build) the lids.” It means that when someone decides to practice evil (like the devil), plans are made, lies are told, people and facts are manipulated. But something often happens to foil the plan. The truth comes out, or the wrongdoer is punished, or the plans fail.

That seems the case with an event occurred on Mar 14, 2019. When two Russian pranksters, Vladimir Kutznetsov and Alexei Stoliarov, set up a formidably comical telephone call, directly with Guaido’ (youtube link at end of article). In which the caller was supposed to be nonetheless than the president of Switzerland, Mr. Maurer. The call lasts about 13 minutes. A necessarily short summary does not do justice to the irresistibly comical charge of the whole episode.

In the video, the voice in English, speaking from the Switzerland of pretense, is supposed to belong to the Swiss president. But the accent is too Russian, and I do not think it could have deceived even the otherwise gullible Guaido’. In turn, Guaido’ replies and speaks in Spanish (transcribed in the video). That voice is definitely Guaido’s, as is his bare ass, immortalized by a picture taken during an earlier anti-Chavez demonstration (see article “In Praise of Shamelessness.”). I speculate that a Spanish interpreter was involved on the pranksters’ side to translate the words of the simulated Swiss president.

After congratulating Guaido’ on his assumption of the Venezuela presidency, ‘Mr. Maurer’ wants to discuss the Venezuela’s arrangements and forthcoming new relations with the Swiss banking systems. He says to have contacted Marshall Billingslea, US Treasury’s assistant secretary for Terrorist Financing. Mr. Maurer suggests that all Venezuelan accounts in Switzerland are terrorist-linked, hence illegal and should be frozen. Does Guaido’ agree? Yes, Guaido’ replies.

At minute 4.14 ‘Mr Maurer’ discloses that Maduro transfers his money to a company called ‘Tender First’, owned by a Kazak man called Nurlan Baidild. Does Guaido’ know him? No, says Guaido’.

Has Guaido’ appointed a Venezuelan ambassador to Switzerland? Yes, Guaido’ replies, Ms. Marta Alejandra Aristiguieta.

‘Mr. Maurer’ advises Guaido’ that various lengthy procedural steps are involved in freezing international accounts, but the situation is urgent. There is a risk that Maduro’s and Venezuelan funds may be transferred to Russia or China. Would Guaido’ agree to transfer these assets into a temporary personal account, to prevent the funds from disappearing?

Guaido’ agrees. And then comes the dessert of the interview. Does Guaido’ know that the Russian opposition leader is Alexei Navalni, who also studied at Yale? No, sais Guaido’. ‘Mr. Maurer’ probes further. Once officially installed as president, would Guaido’ recognize Navalni as interim president of the Russian Federation?

“We are going to evaluate all the options” – replies Guaido’ – but yours is an interesting proposal.”

Apparently, after the call, Guaido’ immediately made public the information about the freezing of Venezuelan funds in Switzerland. Which prompted the pranksters (always pretending to be Mr. Maurer,) to send an email to John Bolton, suggesting that it was unwise for Guaido’ to go public with this sensitive information. Bolton replies with an email agreeing it was an error and will talk with Guaido’ accordingly. Bolton’s email is shown in the video, but there is no way of confirming its authenticity.

Informed about the prank and asked for his opinion, Evo Morales, authentic president of Bolivia is said to have replied, “Guaido’ es un burrote.” (Guaido’ is an ass).

Apparently, Guaido’ is currently free to roam around in Venezuela. A naive observer may conclude that there is enough material and evidence to arrest him on a charge of treason and promoting terrorism.

Still, Machiavellianly speaking, Guaido’ is now the metaphorical representation of a “dead man walking.” For his killing could be the excuse for a US invasion. The CIA is known for having done worse. We must therefore assume that, by not arresting Guaido’, the Maduro administration knows best.

Time to wrap up and tie together the threads of the story.

The still pending attempt to rape Venezuela is historically meaningful and factually instructive. For the field of battle where the US is (or has been) most successful relies on the bi-dimensional representation of events. That is, a media stage featuring Good versus Bad, where their monopoly of images, and therefore of the imagination, is eminently successful. A splendid confirmation – American style – that nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so. Where thinking is conducted on the people’s behalf by the media monopoly. Hence the miracle of converting victims into allies, however temporarily.

Nevertheless, while taking the above for granted, the quadroika of evil also assumed an impenetrable fog, spread by them and by the fake news generators. But the view is clearing, some new light illuminates palpable and cumbersome realities, which fear and the penumbra of reason have allowed for too long to remain unsaid, unthought, hidden and invisible.

Account of the terrorist act on the Venezuelan electrical system:

Pranksters Video:

The Saker interviews Jorge Valero, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Source

February 19, 2019

[This interview was made for the Unz Review]

I am continuing to try to understand what is really happening in Venezuela by talking to those who actually know that and, following my interview with Michael Hudson, it is today it is my immense privilege and honor to present you with a full interview I made with His Excellency Mr. Jorge Valero, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Permanent Representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva.

I am immensely grateful to Ambassador Valero for taking the time to answer my questions in extenso just a few days away from what might well turn out to be a US false flag or even invasion of Venezuela (promised to all by Trump and Guaido for the 23rd of February).  May God grant him and the Venezuelan people the wisdom, courage and strength to defeat the Empire!

The Saker
——-

The Saker: My first question is about you personally.  There is a Wikipedia entry under your name (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jorge_Valero) but since Wikipedia is, at best, a hit-and-miss kind of source, what could you tell our readers about yourself which they ought to know before we turn to the issue of the current situation in Venezuela?

Ambassador Valero: I was born in Valera, State of Trujillo, Venezuela on November 8th, 1946. I graduated from the University of Los Andes (ULA, for its acronym in Spanish) as a historian. I did my graduate studies at the University College London, in Latin American Studies. I am an expert in diplomatic archives. I was an undergraduate professor and the University of Los Andes and a graduate professor at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV, for its acronym in Spanish). I was elected as a Congressman to the Legislative Assembly of the State of Trujillo, and later Congressman to the National Congress. I was Venezuela’s Ambassador to the Korean Republic. When, President Chávez, was elected in 1998; he appointed me as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. I presided the Presidential Commission appointed by President Chávez, which was in charge of organizing the II OPEC Summit, in Caracas on September 2000. I have been Ambassador – Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the OAS; the UN – New York and currently to the UNOG. I have written a literary work in various genres. More than 20 essays; poetry; diplomacy and social-political analysis. Dozens of national and international conferences.

The Saker: One of the major efforts of Hugo Chavez was to establish a number of multi-lateral frameworks and agreements like the ALBA, CELAC, UNASUR, and projects like the SUCRE, the Petrocaribe, TeleSUR or PetroSUR.  How effective have these frameworks and projects been in supporting the Venezuelan struggle against US imperialism?  Do you feel that these entities are playing a helpful role or not?

Ambassador Valero: Hugo Chávez was a paradigm of Latin American and Caribbean integration. In this regard, he was a key factor in the creation of ALBA, UNASUR, CELAC, PETROCARIBE, and TELESUR. Chávez reclaimed the integrationist ideology of our Liberator Simón Bolívar, who prosed the creation of “La Patria Grande,Nuestroamericana” (Great Our American Homeland), to defend the interests of our peoples and face any foreign threat raising the flags of unity, peace, sovereignty and self-determination of the peoples. PETROCARIBE is a solidary initiative in favor of developing countries, notably, the countries of our Caribbean surroundings that benefit from an oil bill with discounts and with long payment terms. Chávez has also been a paradigm in the promotion of a multi-polar world, where foreign affairs are founded by sovereign equality of States, overcoming the decaying North American Empire unilateralism. Thus, the Empire’s fury has been unleashed against the Bolivarian Revolution: coups d’état, oil sabotage, the promotion of violence and terrorism against the Venezuelan people. Henceforth, the continuous coup d’état promoted by the supremacist-racist-xenophobic and war-mongering government of Donald Trump that aims to impose a governing puppet and the threats of a military invasion in our homeland, which are part of the above-described context.

Hugo Chávez advocated for a new type and renewed multilateralism. Respect for the founding principles of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. Multilateralism is disrupted by Trump’s government, which has disregarded universal agreements on climate change; withdrawn from both UNESCO and the Human Rights Council; disregarded the agreement on the peaceful use of atomic energy with Iran, signed by USA, Germany, France, United Kingdom, China and the European Union; retraced the path to normalizing the bilateral relations with Cuba; unleashes a commercial war against China, and threatens the Russian Federation with an atomic war in his dispute to control outer space. Vis-à-vis those reckless and aggressive policies that threaten human existence it is necessary to raise the flags of multilateralism even higher.

The Saker: The Empire has created the so-called “Lima Group” which is just a typical trick to bypass the UN or legitimate regional organizations.  This is exactly what the USA did with the so-called “friends of Syria,” and the goal is the same: to overthrow a democratically elected legitimate government and replace it with a vassal puppet regime.  Yet countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru all agreed to participate in this anti-Venezuelan farce.  How do you explain such a betrayal by so many of these Latin American countries?  Does their agreement to betray Venezuela and serve the Empire’s interest not show that these states have no real sovereignty or foreign policy and that they are all de-facto US colonies?

Ambassador Valero: Certainly, the self-proclaimed “Lima Group” is a cartel made up of satellite governments of the imperial government to break Latin American and Caribbean unity, and, due to the failure of using the Ministry of the Colonies, which is the OAS to isolate Venezuela in this organization. The empire and its minions couldn’t approve Article 20 of Inter-American Democratic Charter of the Permanent Council of the OAS and resort to the United Nations Security Council, where they also failed. The creation of puppet governments by the US is not new. It has happened in Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Syria. The puppets imposed in those countries where supported by armed terrorist groups, including, mercenary armies trained and financed from abroad.

Nevertheless, in Venezuela, the puppet has no support from the people nor the military, since in our country there is a consistent and patriotic civilian-military alliance, which guarantees and will guarantee -come what may- the defense of the sovereign and sacred jurisdiction of Simon Bolivar’s homeland. The US satellite governments against Venezuela are a minority even in Latin America and the Caribbean. Of the 193 countries that make up the United Nations only 34 support the puppet, which translates into 17.6%. For example, a single country in Africa and there are 54. One in Oceania and there are 15. One in the Middle East and there are 16. 15 countries in Europe, and there are 50. And 16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and there are 35. You are right, the satellite countries that follow the Empire’s orders have no autonomous and sovereign foreign policy. Some of these governments, particularly, in Latin America are presided by people that have a criminal background: drug trafficking, corruption, genocide, paramilitarism, sexual offenses. Some are the result of a coup d’état.

The Saker: Another interesting initiative was the creation of Petro-cryptocurrency.  Now with the inflation making the Bolivar almost useless, how effective do you believe this alternative currency is to 1) bypass US sanctions, and sabotage and 2) serve as an alternative currency to help the Venezuelan economy recover from its current plight?

Ambassador Valero: The Petro-cryptocurrency was created to free us from the tyranny of the US dollar in the international financial market. Therefore, Trump’s government has established Draconian measures to block the flow of this cryptocurrency. Incidentally, the economic war and the unilateral coercive measures bring about galloping inflation, migration and relocation of people abroad. We are blocked from accessing the capital markets. They rob the Venezuelan State’s property in the US. They kidnap the Venezuelan State’s bank accounts in that country. The unilateral coercive measures and the sanctions cause, as expressed by the former UN Independent Expert, Alfred de Zayas, death and suffering. Measures against international law and the Charter of the United Nations and deny the Venezuelan people their human rights. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures, Idriss Jazairy acknowledged this.

The Saker: Russia and China have been working on an alternative to the SWIFT.  Is that something the Venezuelan government is also looking into?

Ambassador Valero: Experts from China and Russia provide expert advice to the Venezuelan State to successfully overcome the financial blockage and criminal sanctions of Trump’s government.

The Saker: What can you tell us about the current state of the Venezuelan petrochemicals industry?  Now that the US has stolen 7 BILLION dollars belonging to PDVSA, how can the PDVSA continue to operate after being robbed from such a huge sum of money?  At what levels is Venezuela currently producing and refining oil?

Ambassador Valero: The damage caused to the Venezuelan economy surpasses 35 billion dollars in the blockade of assets and accounts. They try to rob the Venezuelan peoples from the company CITGO that operates in Dallas, Texas that distributes gasoline and fuels to thousands of gas stations in the US East Coast. The Bolivarian government will undertake all the necessary legal actions to avoid that the Trump government steals the national patrimony. PDVSA, our national oil company, is completely deployed to guarantee the production, distribution, and commercialization of our crude oil. We have found new partners in the hydrocarbon’s market in the world, mainly, China, Russia, India, and Turkey.

The Saker: Since the US-backed coup attempt by Guaido, there has been remarkably little actual violence in the streets of Venezuela, and all the signs point to the fact that Guaido does not have the support of a majority of the people.  Yet he sure does have enough support within some sectors of the Venezuelan society (the kind of folks who go and protest against Nicolas Maduro while carrying US flags).  How did the government succeed in preventing that minority from doing in Venezuela what was done in Libya and Syria: instigate enough violence to justify a “humanitarian” foreign intervention?  In Kiev, there were snipers shooting at both the security forces and the protestors (which also happened in Caracas in 2002 I believe), and I was expecting that to happen in Caracas, but it did not (at least so far).  How do you explain this?

Ambassador Valero: Since the National Constituent Assembly was elected peace reigns in the republic.

The puppet that the US aims to impose has neither the people nor the military’s support to disrupt public peace. In general, in Venezuela, there is peace and tranquility. The Venezuelan people love peace. Peace is an essential part of State policies. Nevertheless, terrorist and violent groups financed from abroad, especially, the USA and Colombia act in popular districts in some cities in the country. The puppet and the puppeteer, Trump’s government try to disrupt public peace. They call to destroy the democratic rule of law and justice in Venezuela. They refuse to dialogue and promote intolerance and violence. The puppet asks the puppeteer to send US troops to invade our homeland. Infertile calls since our people remain presto to defend our participatory and protagonist democracy, as well as, the democratic institutions.

Trump’s government tries to reproduce the format that the Empire used in Syria and Libya: a parallel transition government. Prepares mercenaries in neighboring countries to foray in the national territory. They aimed to use the OAS and the Human Rights Council. Remember that Libya was expelled from the Human Rights Council through a Resolution, which was later confirmed by the UN General Assembly immediately after a Resolution was approved in the Security Council, which approved the creation of a no-fly zone. What followed is well known: cask missiles against Libya that caused thousands of deaths and destruction in civilian and military infrastructure. Trump’s government wants to implement the same strategy against Venezuela. He has called upon the Security Council to validate his objective for a military invasion in Venezuela. Fortunately, for both world and regional peace, the governments of Russia and China declared that they would use their right to veto in the UN Security Council to block such criminal objective.

Peace in our region is crucial. CELAC proclaimed Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace. A military invasion from Trump’s government in Venezuela will have continental and worldwide consequences. President Nicolás Maduro affirmed that a Yankee invasion would create a new Vietnam.

The Saker: Does Venezuela feel sufficiently supported at the UN in general and at the UNSC specifically by Russia and China or do you feel that Venezuela needs more help from these countries?

Ambassador Valero: Russia and China are Venezuela’s strategic allies. With these two military, commercial, and technologic powers we have cooperation agreements in many fields. Likewise, Venezuela has abundant solidary backing and support from most of the countries in the world.

On January 26, 2019, Trump’s government indented to condemn Venezuela in the Security Council. They ran off with their tails between their legs, since no resolution was approved against our country. Most of the permanent and non-permanent members of this Council rejected the interventionist objective, and, contrarily approved to promote dialogue among Venezuelans. We are in a condition to overcome motu proprio our challenges. The dialogue between the government and the opposition, without preconditions, is the path to follow. Henceforth, our government has enthusiastically supported the “Montevideo Mechanism” proposed by the governments of Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia and the member countries of CARICOM.

The Saker: It is pretty obvious that Mr. Guaido has committed a number of violations of the Venezuelan law ranging from calling for an illegal demonstration to being involved in an anti-constitutional coup attempt.  In a normal situation, that man ought to be legally charged and prosecuted for his crimes (including, in my opinion, subversion and treason).  Yet the USA threatened to go to war against Venezuela (aka “serious consequences“) if Guaido is arrested which, by itself, is a gross violation of international law and of the UN Charter.  What can, in your opinion, the Venezuelan government do to do what any other government would do and restore law in order without risking providing a pretext for a US invasion?

Ambassador Valero: The puppet has continuously violated the Bolivarian Constitution. Likewise, he disregarded the fundamental tenets of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. The Venezuelan State is made up of five powers. If something has characterized, the Bolivarian government is being a devoted defender of the independence of each of those powers. It will be the National Constituent Assembly and the Public Ministry who will make the necessary decisions. And you are right: these are crimes of subversion and treason. Breaking democratic legality and wrongfully usurping functions should not be tolerated.

The puppet’s permanent calls for violence and destabilization, his self-proclamation in a street in Caracas, and his call for a foreign military intervention place him against all nation and international law. Makes him a criminal that should be punished with the force of the Venezuelan laws.

The Saker: Speaking of a possible US invasion – do you believe that these are just the usual empty threat of Donald Trump or do you think that there is actually a real risk of overt US military aggression against your country?  How about the covert aggression already taking place?  What can you tell us about US/Colombian (some say Israeli?) covert operations against Venezuela?

Ambassador Valero: Donald Trump’s threats are not empty. The aggression is in full swing. Trump is the bombastic spokesman of war and foreign intervention. His threats are part of the Empire’s recolonizing goals. The government of Uncle Sam’s nation and its allies and lackeys impose neoliberal policies on the peoples of the world. Trump dusted off the Monroe Doctrine and the Roosevelt Corollary. Recruits and trains mercenaries in its military bases in Colombia. Prepares his arsenal to wage war against Venezuela. This is why we should turn a blind eye to provocations. The governments of the US and Colombia are experts creating false positives.

We insist: the threat of a military foray by the empire is a possibility that should not be ruled out. Both our people and our National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB, for its acronym in Spanish) are prepared to react with heroism and determination in case of such an event. Patriotism has rekindled as never before in history. We are ready to guarantee our definite independence.

Venezuela became the subject of discussion in the whole world. Our natural wealth, our geographic location in the American hemisphere, our political tenet of building a model of society where social justice prevails, our relations of solidarity and cooperation with the other countries of the world, our firm decision of being a free and sovereign country, emancipated from all sorts of domination make us –as people say- the crown jewel.

The Saker: It is pretty clear that the Israelis have never forgiven Hugo Chavez for speaking up for Palestinian rights and for openly denouncing Israeli policies.  As far as you know, are the Israelis currently involved in anti-Venezuelan activities including economic sabotage, political subversion, covert operations, etc.?  How relevant is Israel in what is going on today?

Ambassador Valero: The Israeli government has nothing to forgive us for. Our condition of sovereign country grants us the right to decide how we relate to other countries in the world. Defending the Palestinian cause is in the center of our foreign policy. We denounce in multilateral for Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people. Demanded the cessation of the cessation of the occupation of the Gaza Strip, to end the extermination policy of Israel against Palestine and the Occupied Arab Territories. We recognize Palestine as a free and sovereign country with which we hold strong bonds of cooperation. There lies Israel’s hatred against the Bolivarian Revolution. It is no news that this government is involved in the interventionist plans against our country. The Israeli government bets on the overthrowing of President Nicolás Maduro, by Donald Trump’s government. It has recognized his puppet.

The Saker: Finally, what is your guess as to what will happen in the short-term to mid-term future?  Do you believe that the Guiado coup has already failed or do you believe that this was only a temporary setback for the Empire and that now we will see more and further attempts at crushing the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela and the rest of Latin America?

Ambassador Valero: The civilian-military union is categorically defeating the coup d’état. Nevertheless, the empire will not stop in its destabilizing and coup-mongering pretentions against the Bolivarian Revolution. As it has been demonstrated our people are inspired by the legacy of our liberators and the supreme commander Hugo Chávez Frías. And at the avant-garde of the fight for our sovereignty and self-determination is President Nicolás Maduro. Chavismo is the new face of being Venezuelan.

The Venezuelan people will resist with heroism and patriotic spirit the constant siege of Trump’s government. The Bolivarian Revolution conceived a new nation project, which aims to obtain happiness, equality, equity, freedom, and brotherhood of all Venezuelans. These are inherent principles of our democracy and the Venezuelan way of socialism.

The Venezuelan people have resisted with dignity and stoicism the terrible conditions it has been subjected to due to the imperial pretensions of impeding the advance of our revolutionary process. No foreign power and its domestic pawns will be able to stop the triumphal march of the Bolivarian Revolution.

The Saker:Your Excellency, thank you for granting me this interview!

Venezuela, Hezbollah and Iran: The latest hysteria from the US ‘backyard’

Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin magazine.
The US ‘obligation’ to respond to manufactured threats constitutes preemptive justification for yet more pernicious activity
A poster showing Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is seen in Beirut in 2006 (AFP)

Speaking on 6 February to Fox Business about the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a grave warning about outside interference in the South American nation: “People don’t recognise that Hezbollah has active cells. The Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America.”

The next day, the US Southern Command’s Admiral Craig S Faller informed the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran “has deepened its anti-US influence campaign in Spanish-language media, and its proxy Lebanese Hezbollah maintains facilitation networks throughout the region that cache weapons and raise funds, often via drug trafficking and money laundering”.

As usual, concerned media took the ball and ran with it.

Sensationalist drivel

In one exemplary piece of sensationalist drivel for Radio Farda – the Persian-language component of the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty network (with a website also in English) – Penny L Watson babbled about the threat posed to the US on account of Hezbollah and Iran’s alleged conversion of Venezuela into a base of operations.

As of 2010, she asserted, there were “as many as six terrorist training camps” scattered around the Venezuelan capital of Caracas and Margarita Island off the country’s coast, regularly hyped as a terror hotbed. (I myself incidentally visited the island around that time and didn’t manage to track down a single “terrorist”, despite being in the company of a Lebanese-Palestinian friend who had fought alongside Hezbollah against the Israeli occupation of Lebanon.)

We’d be forgiven for perceiving the Caracas-Tehran one-stop as something less than a smoking gun

A New York Post article by Benny Avni, who surmises that “Iran’s clerics” must be “trembl[ing] as they watch their old Caracas allies teeter”, brings up another pet factoid regularly regurgitated by right-wing fearmongers: the possibility of air travel between Venezuela and Iran.

Back in 2009, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon sounded the warningthat “we know that there are flights from Caracas via Damascus to Tehran”. Given that it is also possible to fly with minimal difficulty from Caracas to places like Tel Aviv, however, we’d be forgiven for perceiving the Caracas-Tehran one-stop as something less than a smoking gun.

Renewed onslaught

Other intriguing neo-conservative arguments have over the years included the notion that former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was peeved about the US-facilitated coup against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in part because “the Iranians had opened a ‘maintenance’ facility in Honduras for… ‘tractors’ produced in Venezuela, in reality a drug transshipment warehouse”.

Venezuela's self-proclaimed acting president, Juan Guaido, speaks to the media in Caracas on 4 February (AFP)
Venezuela’s self-proclaimed acting president, Juan Guaido, speaks to the media in Caracas on 4 February (AFP)

In the 2009 Oliver Stone documentary South of the Border, the late Chavez himself appropriately highlights the absurdity of right-wing propaganda by joking, in reference to a Venezuelan corn processing facility: “This is where we build the Iranian atomic bomb.”

Now, the current crisis in Venezuela – rendered ever more acute by US President Donald Trump’s staunch backing of Juan Guaido, who spontaneously proclaimed himself interim president of the country in January, has unleashed a renewed onslaught of Hezbollah-Iran hysteria.

The Insight Crime website, for example, suggests that Hezbollah’s “explicit support” for Nicolas Maduro – who, it bears mentioning, is in fact still the legitimate president of Venezuela – “could be the first step in confirming links between the South American nation’s government, the terrorist organisation and organised crime groups”.

US support for death squads

Among Hezbollah’s criminal allies, we are told, is Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel – i.e., the same cartel that was reportedly in cahoots, for an extended period of time, with none other than the US government.

To be sure, it goes without saying that the United States – a country that has for the duration of its contemporary existence been thoroughly implicated in global drug trafficking – is rather unqualified to deploy narcotics related accusations against Hezbollah. Even more so when the accusations don’t hold water.

US continues trafficking in deceit with Hezbollah ‘narcoterrorism’ unit

Read More »

It’s also true that, while the Trump administration busies itself portraying Maduro as a uniquely evil oppressor with uniquely evil terrorist allies, the US is the entity that, during the Cold War, contributed to the slaughter of literally hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans, from El Salvadorto Nicaragua to Argentina to Guatemala and beyond, via vicious support for right-wing dictators and death squads.

Hezbollah and Iran naturally boast no such history in the hemisphere. And yet, as with the Soviet menace of the past, they’re the ones that must be demonised at all costs for the crime of challenging US hegemony – and converted into a direct existential threat to the homeland.

Right-wing hallucination

Granted, things are getting especially scary now that, as the ultra-Zionist Clarion Project recently reiterated, “Hezbollah operates two gold mines in Venezuela to fund its terror activities”.

This particular hallucination is admittedly a bit less creative than the “Hezbollah pig farm in Liberia”, which we learned about last year from US Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counter-terrorism Nathan Sales.

Additional cause for alarm is provided by Eldad Beck, who in 2012 reported for Israel’s Ynet News about “Hezbollah’s cocaine jihad”. Calculating that Mexico was then “home to some 4,000 Muslims” out of a total population of 115 million, Beck warned that the number was “enough to cause concern in the United States – and Israel should be concerned as well”.

Hezbollah supporters hold images of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution in Beirut on 6 February (AFP)
Hezbollah supporters hold images of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution in Beirut on 6 February (AFP)

Now, Beck has resurfaced at the Israel Hayom newspaper with an exclusive story, according to which “a senior member of Venezuela’s opposition, which supports interim President Juan Guaido, told Israel Hayom… that the presence of Iran, Hezbollah and other Arab terrorist elements in the country ‘is very concerning’”.

The official is quoted as stating that “Israel can help us establish the necessary apparatuses to contend with this problem when the political change in Venezuela [is] realised”.

Surprise, surprise.

Bring on the imperialism

Over at Foreign Policy, meanwhile, Colin P Clarke argues in a slightly more pessimistic dispatch titled “Hezbollah is in Venezuela to stay”, that the “best-case scenario for Washington could be an ascendant Guaido administration that agrees to combat Hezbollah’s influence – if the new government is willing to accept a US presence in the country to begin training Venezuelan forces in the skills necessary to counter terrorism and transnational organised criminal networks with strong ties to Venezuelan society”.

In other words, bring on the imperialism.

In his interview with Fox Business on Hezbollah and Iran’s alleged machinations in Venezuela and throughout South America, Pompeo declared: “We have an obligation to take down that risk for America”.

But the real risk, of course, is that the “obligation” to respond to manufactured threats constitutes preemptive justification for yet more pernicious US activity worldwide.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Can Maduro Emulate Cuba and Syria to Keep NATO’s Imperialist Hands Off Venezuela?

Global Research, February 18, 2019
Nicolas Maduro Moros

Imperial logic I: External crises distract from internal ones

Empires with internal problems tend to create external crises to distract the public opinion and unite their political and economical ruling class in a fictitious nationalistic fervor. The current United States policy of overt regime change in Venezuela, backed entirely by its NATO vassals, follows an evergreen imperial playbook of creating new crises to obscure failures and divisions.

In addition to the administration’s overall incompetence, the legal investigations through the Mueller inquiry, and the failure to deliver to its MAGA sycophants their big wall, it has passed unnoticed, and it will never be admitted by US officials or media that the US imperial wars in Afghanistan and Syria are in fact lost. Assad will remain in power, and the US administration has publicly admitted that it was negotiating with the Taliban. The temptation for the empire’s ideologues is too strong not to follow the precept: when you have lost a war, you declare victory and you leave. And next time around, you try to pick a weaker target.

Imperial logic II: A state of war must be permanent

A prime example of this in recent history was the way the events of September 11, 2001 were used internally to justify the emergence of a police state, using far-reaching legislation like the Patriot Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.

Externally, 911 was successfully used by the US to trigger, almost immediately, an invasion of Afghanistan with the entire NATO membership under the hospice of the military alliance’s Article 5, which stipulates that an attack on one member is an attack on all. This was the very first time, since the creation of NATO in 1949, that Article 5 was put into force.

With the US public opinion still largely revengeful, misinformed by media manipulations, and eager to wage war, two years later, in 2003, it was fairly simple for the Bush administration and its neocons to sell the invasion of Iraq as a war of necessity, and not for what it truly was: a war of choice, for oil and greater control of the Middle East. Cynically, the aftermath of 9/11/2001 gave the empire and its powerful military-industrial complex two wars for the price of one.

Imperial logic III: People are collateral damage of “Realpolitik”

Great moral principles of altruistic universal humanitarian concerns are almost never at stake in these instances. They are mainly smoke screens to hide the board of a cold, Machiavellian, and complex chess game where innocent bystanders often perish by the millions. They are the acceptable collateral damage of realpolitik’s grand strategists. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, the true guiding principle of US imperial realpolitik, and all US foreign policy decisions that derived from it, was to stop the so-called communist domino effect.

Communist domino effect: three simple words for a game that killed millions of innocent people worldwide, first in Korea in the early 1950s, then in Vietnam in the 60s and 70s, and later, under the tutelage of some of the very same criminal architects, in Central and South American countries like Chile. Now in their golden years, most of these murderous policymakers, like Henry Kissinger, enjoy an active retirement with honors, respect and, unlike their colleague Robert McNamara, not a hint of remorse.

One of these policymakers, a veteran of US imperialism in Central America and also one of the staunchest advocates of Iraq’s invasion in 2003, has made a come back. He is neocon extraordinaire Elliot Abrams. Abrams has been rewarded for his actions in the Iran-Contra affair, El Salvador, and Nicaragua with a nomination as Special Envoy of the Trump administration for Venezuela. In other words, Abrams is in charge of the US-sponsored coup task force against Venezuela’s legitimately elected President Nicolas Maduro.

Defeating imperial logic: The Cuban and Syrian lessons

There are many others examples in history where in a David versus Goliath fight, the little guy who, on paper, did not stand a chance eventually through sheer determination, organization and vast popular support, won on the battlefield. Vietnam is obviously a special case in this regard, as the Vietcong of Ho Chi Minh managed to defeat, almost back to back, the old colonial masters of the French empire in the 1950s, and of course soon thereafter, the US empire.

In the early 1960s, during the Cuban missile crisis, Castro’s days seemed to be numbered. More recently, in Syria, all the lips of the NATO coalition, Israel and Gulf State allies were chanting in unison that as a precondition for resolving the Syrian crisis, “Assad must go!” By 2017, however, some coalition members such as Qatar, France and Germany were not so adamant about the “Assad must go” mantra. Not only did Bashar al-Assad not go, but also, as matter of fact, he is regaining control of his entire country, on his own terms.

Castro outsmarted the empire’s CIA hitmen 600 times

Nicolas Maduro’s predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chavez, had in Fidel Castro a source of inspiration and the guidance of a father figure. Chavez, like other neo-Marxists, looked up to Fidel for leading a successful revolution, through military action, which had toppled the corrupt regime of Fulgencio Batista. This regime was not only a docile servant of the US government but was also directly associated with the Mafia’s criminal activities in Cuba in the era of Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. With Batista’s complicity, American gangsters had turned Cuba into a gambling and prostitution paradise where the US’ unscrupulous rich went to play. Castro shut down the bordello that had become Cuba and proudly rebuilt his island, and he consciously set out to transform Cuba slowly and steadily into a socialist country.

Needless to say, the shutdown of their depraved and lucrative tropical paradise was unacceptable for the US empire’s ruling elites. Against all odds, the Cuban communist leader managed to defy one US administration after another, and without compromise remained at the helm of the Cuban revolution. It was not for a lack of trying either to invade Cuba, as in the Bay of Pigs botched invasion episode, or to cook up countless assassination attempts on Castro’s person. Starting almost immediately after he took power in 1959, Castro was the target of CIA assassination attempts. From the Kennedy era all the way to the Clinton administrations, Fidel Castro survived more than 600 plots to kill him. Some of the attempts involved collaborations of the Mafia with the CIA. Castro once said, “if surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal!” It has to be added that, at least so far, Fidel Castro has also won a posthumous gold medal for ensuring the legacy of the Cuban revolution.

Assad: military might and striking the right alliances

Almost eight years ago, some people in quiet mansions, regal palaces or discrete offices in Washington, Riyadh, Doha, London, Paris, and Tel Aviv or undisclosed locations came up with what appeared to be an excellent plan. They would hijack some of the genuine energy of the Arab Spring then quickly sponsor it with a huge arsenal, while hiring some supposed good Djihadists soldiers-of-fortune as the main muscle to get rid of the uncooperative Bashar al-Assad. In what I called in May 2013, an “unholy alliance to wreck and exploit,” the Western and Gulf States coalition to topple Assad was born. In the US, the late Senator John McCain was one of the cheerleaders of the so-called Free Syrian Army.

Eight years later, with Syria in ruins, 350,000 people dead, around 4.5 million refugees still scattered principally in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, Assad has prevailed in a bittersweet victory, considering that his country has been wrecked as a battleground for proxy wars. Bashar al-Assad did not win on his own. He managed to retain complete loyalty from the Syrian army during the past eight gruesome years. Assad also could count on the military involvement of dependable allies Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran and, of course, a critical impact of Russia once Putin’s administration decided to commit military assets and troops.

Maduro can keep Uncle Sam’s hands off Venezuela

One can only hope that Venezuela’s US-sponsored coup attempt using the subterfuge of a phony revolution does not follow the track of Syria in terms of the mayhem. However, the analogies are numerous between Maduro’s situation today and that of Assad in 2011. First, Maduro has at his disposal a reasonably well-equipped military as well as the Chavista militia. To defeat the unfolding coup attempt, the loyalty of the armed forces has to be ironclad. Second, just as Assad has done, Maduro must work to cultivate, in pragmatic ways, both regional and worldwide alliances.

Cuba will do a lot to help. But will Mexico, Bolivia, and Uruguay go beyond diplomatic posturing in their solidarity with Maduro against NATO’s imperialism? How involved and how far, either economically or, in a worse-case scenario, militarily are Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran willing to go? In geopolitics, unlike diplomacy, only actions talk. Venezuela has a massive bargaining chip in the form of the mostly untapped biggest oil reserve in the world. This is Maduro’s ultimate ace in this game, and it should be used shrewdly. In realpolitiks, friends might be temporary, and they always want something. This is not an altruistic environment.

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: News Junkie Post.

Gilbert Mercier is the author of The Orwellian Empire.

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?

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

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.

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