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.

Related Videos

Related Articles

Advertisements

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.

Related Videos

Related Articles

 

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.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

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 

%d bloggers like this: