The Illusion of Economic Recovery Began in the US

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, June 07, 2020

Protracted main street depression conditions have existed in the US since 2008 with no relief for ordinary Americans in prospect.

Before economic collapse this year, unemployment exceeded 20%, Labor Department numbers rigged to pretend otherwise.

The so-called U-3 BLS number omits working-age Americans without jobs who want them, including many longterm unemployed individuals not looking after months of failure to find employment.

Monthly BLS jobs report conceal what should be headline news, including that most US jobs created are poverty-wage, poor-or-no benefit temporary or part-time service industry ones.

Most households need two or more to survive. Living on the edge, they’re one or a few missed paydays from homelessness, hunger, despair and overall deprivation.

Record numbers of Americans are food insecure, the specter of hunger haunting the world’s richest country because its ruling class serves privileged interests exclusively at the expense of the public welfare.

It’s what the scourge of neoliberal harshness is all about, supported by both right wings of the one-party state.

It’s not a pretty picture. “America the beautiful” is a mirage in a nation where poverty is the leading growth industry — disturbing reality concealed by establishment media.

Michal Harrington explained the problem in 1962, things far worse today than what he described in his book titled “The Other America,” saying:

“In morality and in justice, every citizen should be committed to abolishing the other America, for it is intolerable that the richest nation in human history should allow such needless suffering.”

“But more than that, if we solve the problem of the other America, we will have learned how to solve the problems of all of America.”

Food insecurity, hunger, and unemployment haunted America at higher levels than at any time since the Great Depression before 2020 economic collapse began.

Now they’re off the charts with no near-or-longer-term plan for turning things around — just continued governance of, by, and for the privileged few alone at a time of a growing permanent underclass.

During the Great Depression, FDR explained that “one-third of (the US was) ill-housed, ill-clad (and) ill-nourished” — the problem far greater today than then.

It’s because unemployment is far greater now than in the 1930s, the highest in US history by far.

FDR’s “New Deal for the American people” was polar opposite today’s bipartisan conspiracy against public health and welfare.

He called “vast unemployment (of his time) the greatest menace to our social order,” calling for “social justice” that’s fast eroding today at a time when boosting it greatly is needed.

Friday’s jobs report concealed reality. Economist John Williams said BLS numbers are “not particularly credible.”

“Prior period downside revisions” weren’t explained, nor “revised methodologies and seasonal adjustments” that distorted reality.

Nearly 5 million unemployed Americans were counted as “employed, the third (consecutive) month of acknowledged misreporting.”

Last month’s reporting period was at a time of US lockdown nationwide.

Yet the BLS claimed 2.5 million new jobs were created — when millions of new weekly unemployment claims continue to be filed.

The report noted that hundreds of thousands more workers were permanently laid off because lost business isn’t coming back soon.

Hundreds of thousands of public workers continue to be let go, mostly at the state and local levels because of severe budget constraints, revenues falling way short of the ability to maintain public services at pre-economic crisis levels.

Through May into early June, data show the US economy contracting, far from expanding.

Key economic metrics contracted to record-low levels. Q II GDP is estimated to show around a 50% contraction, a number far exceeding anything during the Great Depression or any previous time in US history.

Based on how US unemployment was calculated pre-1990, Williams now puts it at 35%, over one-third of US workers without jobs.

Along with the vast majority of others underemployed, the US is a nation of paupers while its privileged class never had things better.

Notably the wealth of super-rich Americans is increasing during hard times while food banks are hard-pressed to feed millions of hungry Americans.

The USA is a nation in decline, a surging stock market concealing reality.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) said nationwide “economic pain” continues, stressing it’ll “be longstanding without” considerable federal aid — that’s not forthcoming.

California, the state with the nation’s largest economy, teeters on bankruptcy, needing $54 billion in federal aid to provide basic services.

Many are being slashed, including for health, education, and other vital programs.

New York, Illinois and other US states are face similar hard choices.

Instead of federal aid to states in need and to stimulate economic growth and jobs creation, trillions of federal dollars went to Wall Street and other corporate America favorites.

Crumbs alone have gone to the unemployed, the impoverished underemployed, the “ill-housed, ill-clad, and ill-nourished.”

While most US states ended lockdowns, others likely to end them in short order, mass unemployment remains at a record high.

Over 40 million Americans employed in January were fired, laid off, or furloughed, record numbers over a short period.

Small and medium-sized businesses were most affected, the backbone of the nation.

Around half of lost jobs are permanent because countless numbers of shut down companies face bankruptcy.

The Wall Street Journal reported that 722 US firms filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May alone, a near-50% year-over-year increase, much more of the same ahead.

Many reopening won’t operate at previous levels, notably restaurants, hotels, airlines, shopping malls, retail stores, commercial real estate, enterprises related to tourism, and others relying on large gatherings like sports.

According to US bankruptcy attorney James Conlan, “we’re going to see an extraordinary number of large corporate bankruptcies, not just in the US but across the globe.”

The effects of unprecedented US economic collapse won’t magically turn around any time soon — especially with no federal economic stimulus and jobs creation programs planned.

Trump’s phony Friday claim about the US economy ready to take off like a “rocket ship” belies the dismal state of main street America — his regime and Congress doing nothing to turn things around.

What happens when millions of unemployed Americans can’t pay mortgage, car loans, or credit card bills.

Are mass evictions coming, numbers of homeless to increase exponentially, along with growing hunger?

The notion that Friday’s jobs report showed the beginning of economic recovery is belied by reality in US cities and towns nationwide.

Ongoing protests against institutionalized racism, inequality and injustice met by police violence reflect America’s dismal state.

It’s not about to change by the nation’s ruling class without sustained public activism in the streets for redress of longstanding grievances.

It’s the only way change ever comes. There’s no other way.

Power yields nothing without a demand. It never did and never will.

*

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from Charleston’s The Digitel | CC BY 2.0The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2020

Towards A New World Order? The Global Debt Crisis and the Privatization of the State

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, April 17, 2020

There is a serious health crisis which must be duly resolved. And this is a number one priority.

But there is another important dimension which has to be addressed. 

Millions of people have lost their jobs, and their lifelong savings. In developing countries, poverty and despair prevail. 

While the lockdown is presented to public opinion as  the sole means to resolving a global public health crisis,  its devastating economic and social impacts are casually ignored.  

The unspoken truth is that the novel coronavirus provides a pretext to powerful financial interests and corrupt politicians to precipitate the entire World into a spiral of  mass unemployment, bankruptcy and extreme poverty. 

This is the true picture of what is happening.  Poverty is Worldwide. While famines are erupting in Third World countries, closer to home,  in the richest country on earth,

millions of desperate Americans wait in long crowded lines for handouts”

“Miles-long lines formed at food banks and unemployment offices across the US over the past week”   

In India:

food is disappearing, ….  in shanty towns, too scared to go out, walking home or trapped in the street crackdowns,

In India there have been 106 coronavirus deaths as of today, to put things in perspective 3,000 Indian children starve to death each day” 

From Mumbai to New York City. It’s the “Globalization of Poverty”.

Production is at a standstill. 

Starvation in Asia and Africa. Famine in the U.S. 

All countries are now Third World countries. It’s the “Thirdworldisation” of the so-called high income “developed countries”.  

And what is happening in Italy?

People are running out of food. Reports confirm that the Mafia rather than the government “is gaining local support by distributing free food to poor families in quarantine who have run out of cash”. (The Guardian)

This crisis combines fear and panic concerning the COVID-19 together with a sophisticated process of economic manipulation.

Let us first examine the impacts pertaining to the developing countries.

Developing Countries. The IMF’s “Economic Medicine” and the Globalization of Poverty

Is the coronavirus crisis part of a broader macro-economic agenda?

First some historical background.

I spent more than ten years undertaking field research on the impacts of IMF-World Bank economic reforms in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Since the early 1980s, “strong economic medicine” was imposed on indebted developing countries under what was called the “structural adjustment program” (SAP).

From 1992 to 1995, I undertook field research in India, Bangladesh and Vietnam and returned to Latin America to complete my study on Brazil. In all the countries I visited, including Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco and The Philippines, I observed the same pattern of economic manipulation and political interference by the Washington-based institutions. In India, directly resulting from the IMF reforms, millions of people had been driven into starvation. In Vietnam – which constitutes among the world’s most prosperous rice producing economies – local-level famines had erupted resulting directly from the lifting of price controls and the deregulation of the grain market. (Preface to the Second Edition of the Globalization of Poverty, 2003)

 The hegemony of the dollar was imposed. With mounting dollar denominated debt, eventually in most developing countries the entire national monetary system was “dollarized”.

Massive austerity measures were conducive to the collapse in real wages. Sweeping privatization programs were imposed. These deadly economic reforms -applied on behalf the creditors- invariably triggered economic collapse, poverty and mass unemployment.

In Nigeria starting in the 1980s, the entire public health system had been dismantled. Public hospitals were driven into bankruptcy. The medical doctors with whom I spoke described the infamous structural adjustment program (SAP) with a touch of humor:

“we’ve been sapped by the SAP”, they said, our hospitals have literally been destroyed courtesy of the IMF-World Bank.

From Structural Adjustment to Global Adjustment

Today, the mechanism for triggering poverty and economic collapse is fundamentally different and increasingly sophisticated.

The ongoing 2020 Economic Crisis is tied into the logic of the COVID-19 pandemic: No need for the IMF-World Bank to negotiate a structural adjustment loan with national governments.

What has occurred under the COVID-19 crisis is a “Global Adjustment” in the structure of the World economy. In one fell swoop this Global Adjustment (GA) triggers a Worldwide process of bankruptcy, unemployment, poverty and total despair.

How is it implemented? The lockdown is presented to national governments as the sole solution to resolve the COVID-19 pandemic. It becomes a political consensus, irrespective of the devastating economic and social consequences.A Global People’s Bailout for the Coming Financial Crash

No need to reflect or analyze the likely impacts. Corrupt national governments are pressured to comply.

The partial or complete closing down of a national economy is triggered through the enforcement of  so-called “WHO guidelines” pertaining to the lockdown, as well as to trade, immigration and transportation restrictions, etc.

Powerful financial institutions and lobby groups including Wall Street, Big Pharma, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were involved in shaping the actions of the WHO pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lockdown together with the curtailment of trade and air travel had set the stage. This closing down of national economies was undertaken Worldwide starting in the month of  March,  affecting simultaneously a large of number of countries in all major regions of the World.  It is unprecedented in World history.

Why did leaders in high office let it happen? The consequences were obvious.

This closing down operation affects production and supply lines of goods and services, investment activities, exports and imports, wholesale and retail trade, consumer spending, the closing down of schools, colleges and universities, research institutions, etc.

In turn it leads almost immediately to mass unemployment, bankruptcies of small and medium sized enterprises, a collapse in purchasing power, widespread poverty and famine.

What is the underlying objective of this restructuring of the global economy?  What are the consequences? Cui Bono? 

  • A massive concentration of wealth,
  • the destabilization of small and middle sized enterprises in all major areas of economic activity including the services economy, agriculture and manufacturing.
  • It derogates the rights of workers. It destabilizes labor markets.
  • It compresses wages (and labor costs) in the so-called high income “developed countries” as well as in the impoverished developing countries.

Needless to say this Global Adjustment (GA) operation is far more detrimental than the country-level IMF-WB structural adjustment program (SAP).

It is neoliberalism to the nth degree.

In one fell swoop (in the course of the last months) the COVID-19 crisis has contributed to impoverishing a large sector of the World population.

And Guess who comes to the rescue? The IMF and the World Bank:

The IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has casually acknowledged that the World economy has come to a standstill, without addressing the causes of economic collapse.

“The WHO is there to protect the Health of the People, The IMF is there to protect the health of the World economy” says Georgieva.

 How does she intend to “protect the World economy”?

At the expense of the national economy?

What’s her “magic solution”?

 “We rely on $1 trillion in overall lending capacity.” (IMF M-D Georgieva, Press Conference in early March)

At first sight this appears to be “generous”, a lot money. But ultimately it’s what we might call “fictitious money”, what it means is:

“We will lend you the money and with the money we lend you, you will pay us back”.(paraphrase).

The ultimate objective is to make the external (dollar denominated) debt go fly high.

The IMF is explicit. In one of its lending windows, the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, which applies to pandemics, generously,

“provides grants for debt relief to our poorest and most vulnerable members.”

Nonsensical statement: it is there to replenish the coffers of the creditors, the money is allocated to debt servicing.

“For low-income countries and for emerging middle-income countries we have … up to $50 billion that does not require a full-fledged IMF program.”

No conditions on how you spend the money. But this money increases the debt stock and requires reimbursement.

The countries are already in a straight-jacket. And the objective is that they comply with the demands of the creditors.

That’s the neoliberal solution applied at a global level: No real economic recovery, more poverty and unemployment Worldwide. The “solution” becomes the “cause”. It initiates a new process of indebtedness. It contributes to an escalation of the debt.

The more you lend, the more you squeeze the developing countries into political compliance. And ultimately that is the objective of the failing American Empire.

The unspoken truth is that this one trillion dollars ++ of the Bretton Woods institutions is intended to drive up the external debt.

In recent developments, the G20 Finance ministers decided to “put on hold”,  the repayment of debt servicing obligations of the World’s poorest countries.

The cancellation of debt has not been envisaged. Quite the opposite. The strategy consists in building up the debt.

It is important that the governments of developing countries take a firm stance against the IMF-World Bank “rescue operation”. 

The Global Debt Crisis in the Developed Countries

An unprecedented fiscal crisis is unfolding at all levels of government. With high levels of unemployment, incoming tax revenues in developed countries are almost at a standstill.  In the course of the last 2 months, national governments have become increasingly indebted.

In turn, Western governments as well as political parties are increasingly under the control of  the creditors, who ultimately call the shots.

All levels of governments have been precipitated into a debt stranglehold. The debt cannot be repaid. In the US, the federal deficit “has increased by 26% to $984 billion for fiscal 2019, highest in 7 years”.  And that is just the beginning.

In Western countries, a colossal expansion of the public debt has occurred. It is being used to finance the “bailouts”, the “handouts” to corporations as well as “the social safety nets” to the unemployed.

The logic of the bailouts is in some regards similar to that of the 2008 economic crisis, but on a much larger scale. Ironically, in 2008, US banks were both the creditors of the US federal government as well as the lucky recipients: the rescue operation was funded by the banks with a view to  “bailing out the banks”. Sounds contradictory?

The Privatization of the State

This crisis will  eventually precipitate the privatization of the state. Increasingly, national governments will be under the stranglehold of Big Money.

Crippled by mounting debts, what is at stake is the eventual de facto privatization of the entire state structure, in different countries, at all levels of government, under the surveillance of powerful financial interests. The fiction of  “sovereign governments” serving the interests of the electors will nonetheless be maintained.

The first level of government up for privatization will be the municipalities (many of which are already partially or fully privatized, e.g. Detroit in 2013). America’s billionaires will be enticed to buy up an entire city.

Several major cities are already on the verge of bankruptcy. (This is nothing new).

Is the city of Vancouver up for privatization?: “the mayor of Vancouver has already indicated that he feared the bankruptcy of his city.” (Le Devoir, April 15, 2020)

In America’s largest cities, people are simply unable to pay their taxes: The debt of New York City for fiscal 2019 is a staggering $91.56 billion (FY 2019) an increase of 132% since FY 2000. In turn personal debts across America have skyrocketed.

“U.S. households collectively carry about $1 trillion in credit card debt”. No measures are being taken in the US to reduce the interest rates on credit card debt.

The New World Order?

The lockdown impoverishes both the developed and developing countries and literally destroys national economies.

It destabilizes the entire economic landscape. It undermines social institutions including schools and universities. It spearheads small and medium sized enterprises into bankruptcy.

What kind of World awaits us?

A diabolical “New World Order” in the making as suggested by Henry Kissinger? (WSJ Opinion, April 3, 2020):

“The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order”

Recall Kissinger’s historic 1974 statement: “Depopulation should be the highest priority of US foreign policy towards the Third World.” (1974 National Security Council Memorandum)

The political implications are far-reaching.

 What kind of government will we have in the wake of the crisis?

Concluding Remarks

There is a lot of misunderstanding regarding the nature of this crisis.

Several progressive intellectuals are now saying that this crisis constitutues a defeat of neoliberalism. “It opens up a new beginning”.

Some people see it as a “potential turning point”, which opens up an opportunity to “build socialism” or “restore social democracy” in the wake of the lockdown.

The evidence amply confirms that neoliberalism has not been defeated. Quite the opposite.

Global capitalism has consolidated its clutch. Fear and panic prevail. The State is being privatized. The tendency is towards authoritarian forms of government.

These are the issues which we must address.

That historical opportunity to confront the power structures of global capitalism, –including the US-NATO military apparatus– remains to be firmly established in wake of the lockdown.


The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order

In this expanded edition of Prof. Michel Chossudovsky’s international best-seller, the author outlines the contours of a New World Order which feeds on human poverty and the destruction of the environment, generates social apartheid, encourages racism and ethnic strife and undermines the rights of women. The result as his detailed examples from all parts of the world show so convincingly, is a globalization of poverty.

This book is a skillful combination of lucid explanation and cogently argued critique of the fundamental directions in which our world is moving financially and economically.

In this updated and enlarged edition – which includes ten additional chapters and a new introduction – the author reviews the causes and consequences of famine in Sub-Saharan Africa, the dramatic meltdown of financial markets, the demise of State social programs and the devastation resulting from corporate downsizing and trade liberalization.

“This concise, provocative book reveals the negative effects of imposed economic structural reform, privatization, deregulation and competition. It deserves to be read carefully and widely.”
– Choice, American Library Association (ALA)

“The current system, Chossudovsky argues, is one of capital creation through destruction. The author confronts head on the links between civil violence, social and environmental stress, with the modalities of market expansion.”
– Michele Stoddard, Covert Action Quarterly

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The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020


‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response

April 10, 2020

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

I found out today
We’re going wrong.
– Cream – We’re Going Wrong – 1967 album Disraeli Gears

Shortly after reading about the latest 7 million Americans who made unemployment claims this week that song shuffled on my iPod. It’s a haunting and even frightening song, and while that makes it sound like some lame emo band we must remember that it’s being played by the rock super-dupergroup of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce.

The song is a psychedelic ode to the terrifying realisations caused by a middle-class freak-out, which were occurring regularly across the West back in 1967. Somebody’s mind has just been opened to the fact that the path they were on is not right. Why was it not right? Because they had failed to ever look inward – they had accepted the prevailing nonsense without questioning it.

Today it’s hard not to have this same feeling that the Western trajectory is veering out of control… but only because that is entirely the case: capitalist – i.e. growth-demanding – economies are hysterically yanking out the single-most important pillar of their economic culture (competitive demand) as if their house won’t collapse immediately.

Because there is none of the dependability provided by central planning, Western capitalism is flying blind because it has wilfully broken its fundamentals – how can any investor, CEO or supply clerk accurately foresee the economic future for at least several months (at a minimum)?

Thus a good comparison is Gorbachev’s “fatal error” in 1987, so-called “self-financing”: that yanked out the single-most important pillar of their economic culture – central planning – for enterprises which controlled 60% of all Soviet output. The immediate, radical reordering sparked economic chaos, then bread lines, then the undemocratic, top-down implosion of the USSR.

In my previous article I condensed the economic data and gave the undeniable conclusion: Who now needs a bailout in the West as a result of the poverty-inducing corona response? Wall Street, Main Street, the County Seat, State Capitol Plaza and Corporate Circle. Everybody.

Of course “bailout” is a euphemism for “loan”, meaning that the “lucky” in these sectors will simply get more and more indebted to a 1% which actually only gets smaller, smaller, richer and richer (as Marx proved).

Want mediocrity? Turn to the middle-class

What was rather fascinating is that among all the articles I have read about our new corona-world I found only one single instance of a Mainstream Media relaying a complaint of how the corona response was a middling, “middle-class” solution.

The entire plan had the imagination of a middle-class person,” was the tough assessment of Harsh Mander, director of the New Delhi-based Centre for Equity Studies. “People were asked to maintain social distance, wash their hands and stay home assuming they have homes and salaries going into bank accounts.

It is interesting that open resentment towards the middle class seemingly surfaced only in India: It’s hard to imagine a middle-class with a more disagreeable sense of entitlement than the pudgy middle managers from the mighty continent of India. One need not be an untouchable Dalit to believe that while a college degree might be a marginally-impressive achievement, using it to work at a Western corporation’s call centre is really not proof of hot stuff; one need not question the reactionary caste system to point out that such a middling life is not sufficient justification for maintaining a system of alleged karmic supremacism. Thus, I would imagine that in India today the term “middle-class” carries as many condescending connotations as it did in the Anglophone world back in 1967.

“But the West is not India”, you will object. Indeed, nobody talks about class or caste in the former. But high-and-mighty Westerners must concede that it is also not 1967 for them, back when union membership was high and an 18-year old male could exit high school assured of not just a decent-paying job but even house and car loans from private banks. (LOL, Millennials think I am making this up, but ask your grandparents – this was actually the case!)

Let’s accept Harsh’s mild definition of “middle class”: somebody who has a nice home, savings and the resources to comfortably weather months of societal turmoil. Using that definition, how very few qualify as “middle class” in the West in 2020!

The 17 million Americans who have been added to unemployment ranks in the past 15 days now have not only no income but no health care and no pension (which had become nearly non-existent in their private sector, anyway). The number is not higher than 17 million in 15 days only because the USA’s antiquated 1980s computer infrastructure could not process more claims. These people are definitely not middle-class.

You could have a family of four and an income of $90,000 in the US but how can you call yourself “middle class” when you strain to afford middling versions of health insurance plans, college education, child care and elder care? And heaven forbid you have to pay for all four at once. These people lack the stability to be called middle-class.

What is middle-class in France? I rarely meet anybody taking home more than 2,000 euros per month. That sum was fine in 1980, but after a Lost Decade produced by austerity – with its increased taxes, steady price inflation and social services which are no longer paid for by the state – their middle-class now suffers from lower-class instability as well.

The reality is that “middle class” in the West in 2020 is actually what used to be called the “upper-middle class” – their entire society has been devalued by a standard deviation since 1980 due to neoliberal capitalism.

Across the West doctors are telling 64-year old Uber drivers to quit in order to avoid exposure to coronavirus, and their journalists are agreeing with this remedy, as if such a person is only Ubering because they have a passion for people-moving? Such advice is middling, middle-class nonsense.

Corona is forcing the West’s upper class to learn that the middle-class mentality has been blown apart, and not by Cream and loud bass but by inequality-provoking socioeconomic policies which fundamentally disregard the needs of the middle and lower classes. Contrarily, the needs of those classes are always and indisputably the primary policy focus of socialist-inspired nations, which is why the West declares Cold War on them.

The West’s upper-class is telling their lower classes to commit suicide

The US fake-left has practically deified Dr. Anthony Fauci mainly because he openly contradicts Trump, but also because middle-class Westerners slavishly worship at the altar of technocracy, which rests upon the false idol of their imaginary meritocracy.

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson made the correct observation that not only is this lockdown economic “national suicide” but that Fauci had “bulletproof job security”; this meant that, “He has the luxury of looking at the world through the narrow lens of his professionHe doesn’t seem to think much outside that lens.

For anyone who thinks Carlson pegged him wrong, Fauci recently said: ‘I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you.” That is the “cultural suicide” assessment and bizarre goal of the man who essentially has been given the power to guide US socio-economic policy.

Fauci is not middle-class, but his workaholic, narrow view certainly is stereotypically middle-class; his total disregard for life as it is lived by living, pulsating, hungry, unstable workers certainly is middle-class.

Instead of a vanguard party which is in touch with the lower classes, the US has promoted the singular view of this germ-obsessed technician (and I’m sure Fauci is considering the broader effects of a lockdown on the municipal bond market in his non-lab time/non-hand washing time).

In an interesting article by USA TodayThis is what China did to beat coronavirus. Experts say America couldn’t handle it, we can see a government which is invasive, or we can see a government which is actually touching and in-touch with the average person – which you see depends on your lens.

But have no doubt: testing, tracing, treating, quarantining – these are all things which require mass mobilisation of pulsating humans, and which were done under an unassailable Chinese government slogan of, “No one left behind”.

China demands the ill have “zero contact” with healthy people, and that is rigorous; Fauci seems to want everyone to have “zero contact”, period, permanently.

Fauci’s slogan is more like “I want to leave you behind”, and is that not the middle-class Western dream: To leave the sick, hungry and poor – including their White Trash – behind in their rear-view mirror?

Insist that socialist-inspired nations are totalitarian and unfeeling all you want, but nothing is more synonymous with “mediocrity” than the Western middle-class: “The approach we should be taking right now is one that most people would find to be too drastic because otherwise, it is not drastic enough,” Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health,” said to USA Today.

What a middling and mediocre statement. And what a middling and mediocre Western response to the corona crisis (which still could wind up as middling and mediocre, as far as pandemics go).

Expect many more freak-outs.

In a crisis mediocrity is not needed, but truly exceptional conduct and resolve. Unfortunately their most inspirational conceptual ideas – which could really help people through these tough times – go unreflected upon and not relayed by the Western corporate media.

***********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

Yemeni Resistance Forces Intercept, Down Saudi-Led Spy Drone over Jizan

By Staff, Agencies

Yemeni army forces, supported by allied fighters from the Popular Committees, intercepted and targeted an unmanned aerial vehicle belonging to the Saudi-led military coalition as it was flying in the skies over Saudi Arabia’s southwestern border region of Jizan.

An unnamed source in the Yemeni air defense forces told the media bureau of the Ansarullah revolutionary movement that Yemeni forces and their allies shot down the drone while on a spy mission east of the al-Khobe district of the region, located 967 kilometers southwest of the capital Riyadh, on Thursday.

The development came less than a week after Yemeni air defense forces and their allies intercepted a spy drone launched by the Saudi-led military alliance over the besieged city of al-Durayhimi in Yemen’s western coastal province of al-Hudaydah.

Back on February 8, Yemeni army forces and allied fighters from Popular Committees shot down a Saudi-led drone with a surface-to-air missile as it was on a spy mission over Kilo 16 district of the same Yemeni province.

Also on Thursday, an unnamed source in the Liaison and Coordination Officers Operations Room said that during the past 24 hours forces of the Saudi-led military coalition and their mercenaries have breached 116 times an agreement reached between the warring sides during a round of UN-sponsored peace negotiations in Sweden in December 2018.

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As Yemen Starves, Billions in Donor Funds Fill the Coffers of International Aid Agencies

By Ahmed AbdulKareem

Source

Of the billions of dollars pouring into Yemen from international donors, only a trickle is actually reaching the people who need it the most reports Ahmed AbdulKareem.

SANA’A, YEMEN — The phenomenon of mercenarism in the impoverished Arab country of Yemen is not limited to the foreign fighters joining the Saudi-led coalition for money, but also includes UN relief organizations, international agencies, and their local partners who are ultimately denying Yemenis the food, healthcare, money and other aid they urgently need. Regardless of their goodwill.

According to a recent report, every ten minutes a child under the age of five dies from extreme hunger in Yemen, while six newborn babies lose their lives every two hours as a result of the continued deterioration of the health situation in the country. This, at a time when the country is riddled with aid agencies.

There are 22 million Yemenis in need of relief, including seven million at risk of starvation, and nearly two million children on the verge of dying from malnutrition according to UN reports, despite the massive sums of money allocated to Yemen from both the international community and regional organizations.


Moreover, 100,00 people die every year in the country as a result of diseases and epidemics, most of them children. Now, four years after the flow of donor funds into the war-torn country, these diseases and epidemics are increasingly emerging where aid, particularly medical assistance, was supposed to prevent their expansion.

According to United Nations Development Program (UNDP), poverty in Yemen has jumped from 47 percent of the population in 2014, before the war began, to a projected 75 percent by the end of 2019. That figure betrays the reality on the ground and suggests that donor money is simply not reaching Yemenis in need.

In 2018, the UN praised international donors for raising large amounts of money to tackle Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. Almost all of the $3 billion pledged has been either received by the UN or formally committed. In 2017, when the first pledging conference for Yemen was held, 94 percent of the pledges, $1.1 billion, was fulfilled, according to the UN.

However, this year, the United Nations announced that humanitarian needs in Yemen for this year amount to $2.96 billion, $2.1 billion of which has already been collected, while other countries pledged the remaining amount.

Where does the aid money go?

The United Nations annually declares and approves a public response plan involving local authorities including Yemen’s National Authority for the Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Recovery (NAMCHA).

By investigating official documents of the annual public response and its actual outcomes, as well as tracking the flow of millions of dollars of supplies and funds from aid programs, it becomes apparent that most donor funds go to the coffers of UN relief organizations and international and local NGOs. In other words, more than seventy percent of the aid is stolen off the top.

That money is distributed to dozens of UN agencies, international organizations and local NGOs. The largest recipients include the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

According to budget lists in the UN’s annual public response, 15-20 percent of grants are taken in the form of dues before they reach Yemenis. Then, an additional 45-60 percent of the grants go to relief organizations to cover operating and support expenses.

Yemen Food Aid

he scant food supplies of a displaced family hangs on the wall of a home in Lahj, Yemen, Feb. 11, 2018. Nariman El-Mofty | AP

Moreover, a review of the UN budget shows that grant money allocated to Yemen has been wasted on projects that are not a part of the UN’s annual public response plan. That money is supposed to go towards serving the needs of Yemenis based on research by civil society organizations and local authorities.

At a time when hundreds of residents, mostly women and children, die every day due to shortages of food and medicine, millions of dollars are being funneled into reproductive health projects such as the International Child Welfare Organization’s reproductive health project with a budget of $4,592,632 to distribute contraceptives and educational sex dolls.

The Yemeni minister of public health and population, Taha al-Mutawakel called on the United Nations and humanitarian organizations to clarify the fate of funds allocated to Yemen. Al-Mutawakel bemoaned how aid money has been squandered on cars and services instead of alleviating the sufferings of Yemenis. “Stop shedding tears for our children who get killed, whilst there is no credibility whatsoever in your international reports and they do not help assuage this tragic situation, he said from inside the Sabeen Maternal Hospital in the capital Sana’a.

 We are not demanding toys and video game consoles, but we are calling for incubators and other related devices to give children the right to life.”

 

Relief agency corruption trickles down to Yemen’s locals

Further analysis of public documents shows that a portion of aid money goes to the accounts of UN relief organizations via its procurement policy. Those organizations often allot excessive amounts of money to buy imported products, yet often end up buying those products from local markets or from abroad at lower prices than specified in their detailed humanitarian plan.

For example, in 2019, the World Food Program (WFP) budget included money to purchase 70 million liters of diesel at 92 cents per liter, for a total cost of $64.5 million. However, the domestic market price for diesel in just 75 cents per liter and the organization buys the diesel from Yemen Oil Company at the local price according to official agreements which have been reviewed by MintPress. That disparity means that a staggering $21,700,000 will end up in WFP coffers.

Relief organizations that have diverted donated food, medicine, fuel and money from desperate Yemenis amid their country’s five-year war also receive significant financial benefits by leveraging currency exchange rates. The procurement process and projects carried out by many of these organizations are paid for in local currency, not in U.S. dollars. In this way, organizations save substantial sums of money by engaging in a sort of currency speculation.

In addition, organizations workers have been caught selling relief items to local merchants who then trade them on the black market. Two merchants, as well as eyewitnesses, confirmed to MintPress that they were sold relief items bearing the WFP’s logo by the organization’s workers. Some residents engage in the sale of these items out of desperation and the need for money for medical treatment or to pay rent according to residents who spoke to MintPress.

Moreover, the scant food aid which millions of Yemenis rely on for their daily sustenance often doesn’t reach people until it is already expired, by that time often crawling with worms and cockroaches because of lack of proper storage facilities, constant power outages, or long hours in transport. Rotten food aid is sometimes burned as it is not fit for human consumption. To make matters worse, coalition forces have bombed bridges linking Yemen’s main port in Hodeida with Sana’a, the capital city, which has meant trucks loaded with vital supplies have to take other routes adding many hours to the journey.

Yemen Aid

The aftermath of a Saudi airstrike on a truck carrying UN World Food Program aid in Saada, February 11, 2019. Photo | Ali al- Shorgbi

Current conditions on the ground are seriously hindering the delivery and distribution of aid as the Saudi-led coalition is enforcing a commercial blockade on sea and air routes into the country, and placing restrictions on relief supplies where aid is subject to long inspection delays and in some cases, rejected altogether. The fate of the rejected aid is not known.

Inflated salaries and internal waste

Aid money isn’t just being squandered away on expired food and operating expenses. Some relief organizations, which often do not provide detailed financial reports on how aid money is spent, are riddled with financial mismanagement, corruption and nepotism. Donor money often goes to pay the inflated salaries of senior staff of international organizations, particularly to UN relief agency workers. The salary of just eight staff at the World Food Program in Yemen amounted to around $50 million.

According to the outcomes of a project for internally displaced people (IDPs) implemented by the UNHCR, the percentage of staff salaries, expenses and additional petty cash, which included the hiring of cars and houses for staff, makes up 64.3 percent of the project’s total budget. Just 35.7 actually went to IDPs. The salary of the manager for another UNHCR project implemented by the CARE organization reached $15,500 per month, although his contract stipulates a salary of $9,500 per month. Other documents showed his salary at $11,500 per month.

Yemen’s National Authority for the Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Recovery (NAMCHA) said there has been a deliberate waste of humanitarian aid funds allocated to the people of Yemen which amounts to a total of $4.2 billion, despite the humanitarian needs the Yemeni people not being met in 2019.

The United Nations has admitted to some incidents of corruption by aid workers, including a case in which a dozen of its aid workers enriched themselves from the billions of dollars in donated aid flowing into the country as well as from financial mismanagement.

In one particularly egregious case uncovered by the Associated Press, UN World Health Organization (WHO) employee Nevio Zagaria, an Italian doctor, arrived in Yemen in December 2016 after a four-year stint in the Philippines to lead the agency’s humanitarian efforts in Yemen. According to the AP’s investigation, the WHO’s Yemen office under Zagaria was riddled with corruption and nepotism.

Zagaria brought in junior staffers who worked with him in the Philippines and promoted them to high-salary posts that they were not qualified for. Two of them – a Filipino university student and a former intern, were given senior posts but their only role was to take care for Zagaria’s pet dog.

Even American organizations, whose work in Yemen carries an heir of exceptionalism since the United States in the largest single supplier of lethal weapons, information, and experts to the Saudi-led Coalition, has given Yemenis little more than crumbs. For example, in two projects implemented by American World Communities Organization, as well as a project from the American Mercy Corps, only 25 percent of aid went to people in need, while 75 percent went to the organizations and their workers.

The loss of donor funds by organizations is not without precedent. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) froze more than $239 million of funds intended for Syrian aid programs due to significant fraud after it investigated 25 reported cases, some two-thirds of which were directly related to outright theft and fraud. As in Yemen, most of the $5.5 billion in American aid was distributed through the United Nations and a host of partner organizations.

The simultaneous funding of war and aid

Areas along the frontline of Yemen’s ongoing war, such as the country’s western coast as well as border areas, are a priority for many relief organizations. Yet those organizations often provide little in the way of humanitarian support and instead have been found to be gathering intelligence or recruiting new fighters on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition, according to local residents. Many relief agencies have paid huge sums of money to the heads of local tribes. Two Yemeni tribal leaders, known locally as sheiks, told MintPress on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject, that they received payments from Mercy Core as an incentive to carry out secret tasks for the Coalition. The nature of those tasks was not revealed.

According to documents reviewed by MintPress and interviews with employees of relief organizations as well as eyewitnesses who spoke to MintPress, many organizations are working with groups classified by the United States as terrorists, including Ansar al-Sharia, a group affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). For Example, the American Mercy Core allegedly contracted Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen’s Abyan province through an unauthorized Somali merchant to supply the group with foodstuffs and money.

Last week, authorities in Sana’a detained a number of U.N. humanitarian workers accused of spying, including two Jordanians who have since been released. Authorities accuse UN relief organizations of funding and conspiring with intelligence services to secretly target Yemenis, along with importing expired drugs and withholding fuel shipments.

Jordan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that two of its citizens conducting a humanitarian audit in Yemen were released and later flown home. The World Food Program, for its part, said that none of its workers were being held by authorities in Sana’a.

Amongst the largest donors and financiers of U.N relief organizations are the very same countries participating in the war on Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and supported by the United States.

Saudi Arabia United Nations Donation

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman presents a donation to the UN’s Antonio Guterres during a meeting about Yemen, March 2018. Dennis Van Tine | IPx

Most of these organizations’ workers have political loyalty to ousted president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, or to the UAE or Saudi Arabi.

As a result of the lack of neutrality of a number of organizations, many Yemenis have not only been denied humanitarian aid, the risk to aid workers working in the country has grown. Last week, UN Deputy Humanitarian Chief Ursula Mueller warned the Security Council that attacks on aid workers have escalated in Yemen.

Corruption undermines the trust of civilians and donors

A number of Yemenis that spoke to MintPress said that they are not receiving any humanitarian assistance. Fatima, a 45-year-old mother of four, said she had not received food or medicine from aid organizations in four years. Fatima suffers from Inflammation of the spinal cord and relies on aid to get by. “No organization has helped us, where does the money go?” she asked.

Yemenis activists say that relief organizations, including UN organizations, are making a fortune in Yemen, asking the UN and international agencies to provide financial reports on how hundreds of millions of dollars that have been poured into Yemen since 2015 have been spent.

For its part, NAMCHA has called for the formation of an international committee to investigate the corruption of international organizations working in Yemen. However, the UN puts much of the blame on the Houthis, saying they have diverted donated food, medicine, fuel and money from desperate people over the course of the country’s five-year war.

The UN accuses the Houthis of corruption and stealing food and medicine for its own use. Yet most of the money squandered during humanitarian operations has been lost in the financing of marginal projects, procurement, transport and the distribution of medicines, food, and building materials, responsibilities which lie exclusively with relief organizations according to Transparency International.

The corruption of international relief organizations, as well as the bias they seem to harbor, undermines the trust of Yemen’s civilians on multiple levels. War-weary people don’t trust aid agencies to provide assistance and local authorities don’t trust the principled rhetoric around impartiality. Ultimately, this leads to donors not trusting that their money will reach the people who need it most.

CHILDREN ARE KILLED BY AMERICAN WEAPONS IN YEMEN EVERY YEAR. THEN A REFINERY BLOWS UP, AND AMERICA SUDDENLY PAYS ATTENTION | OPINION

Source
Anthony Harwood, FORMER FOREIGN EDITOR OF THE DAILY MAIL

It’s like the start of a bad joke.

UK Government Defends Arming Saudi Arabia: Secret Court Hearing. Are British Forces in Yemen?

Global Research, April 12, 2019
Morning Star 10 April 2019

The government refuses to confirm or deny the presence of British special forces in Yemen.

Its missions are exempt from freedom of information and even Parliament’s defence committee.

This wall of secrecy cracked slightly after five SBS members were injured in Yemen, causing an insider to speak out anonymously last month.

The insider’s allegations were then raised in Parliament, just hours after Foreign Office Middle East minister Alistair Burt resigned over Brexit.

At the Court of Appeal — The government will defend its arms sales to Saudi Arabia at a secret court hearing in London tomorrow in a bid to obscure sensitive details about Britain’s covert role in the Yemen war.

The Court of Appeal went into closed session this afternoon with journalists, campaigners and some lawyers forced to leave court room 72 until later today.

Only security-vetted judges and special advocates remained to discuss “a large quantity” of evidence behind locked doors.

The government said the secrecy was required to “protect national security” and avoid divulging highly sensitive aspects of its relationship with Saudi Arabia and the ongoing war in Yemen.

It comes amid incendiary allegations in the press that British special forces are directing Saudi bombing raids in Yemen.

The Mail on Sunday has claimed that members of the Royal Navy’s elite Special Boat Service (SBS) have “forward air controllers” on the ground in Yemen. These are specially trained commandos who guide fighter jet pilots on bombing runs to ensure they hit targets.

Their presence in Yemen could explain the British government’s insistence that Saudi air strikes are not causing civilian casualties.

Sir James Eadie QC, a lawyer who represents the Department for International Trade, has repeatedly cast doubt on reports by Amnesty International, Medecins Sans Frontieres and even a UN panel of experts who say Saudi Arabia is bombing Yemeni schools, mosques and hospitals.

Mr Eadie said in open court yesterday that International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is privy to more information than charities and the UN about the Saudi military’s decision-making process.

He refused to explain how this was possible in public session and promised to reveal more in secret court.

He only hinted that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) “is able to base its analysis on a wide range of information including sensitive MoD-sourced imagery.”

Mr Eadie said this “secures a more comprehensive and immediate picture than that provided by third party commercial imagery” which is used by the UN.

Burt’s shoes were filled at short notice by Mark Field, who went off script and promised to hold an internal investigation – into an issue he could neither confirm nor deny existed.

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The 26th of March is the end of the Saudi era and the start of the Yemeni one 26 آذار نهاية الحقبة السعوديّة وبداية الزمن اليمنيّ

 The 26th of March is the end of the Saudi era and the start of the Yemeni one

Written by Nasser Kandil,

When the Vietnam’s revolutionaries and people defeated the American occupation of their country they were doing so out of their pure patriotism, they did not think that they are doing that on behalf of all the nations and their liberals, they did that to humiliate this arrogant aggressor who controlled the fate of people and their wealth. When the world celebrated the victory achieved by the Vietnamese, they did not express admiration of the miracles achieved by the simple, the poor, and the weak in confronting the killer which is protected by money, techniques, and the limitless capacity of killing, but the world was sighing because America which frightened the world with panic is getting out of the war differently, it will be less brutal not because it got lessons but because it is bleeding and unable to wage it once again.

On March 26, 2015 the rulers of Riyadh considered that the freedom of Yemen forms a source of danger against the Saudi era which overshadowed on the Islamic and the Arab worlds since the defeat of the Arab armies in 1967 by the Zionist occupation army which assigned the political outcome of its military victory to its allies as the House of Saud which was also hostile to Gamal Abdul Nasser who was the title of the confrontation with the occupation entity. Therefore, the rulers of Riyadh decided to wage a swift crucial war against the forces of the resistance in Yemen to save the Saudi era from collapse in the light of the understanding on the Iranian nuclear file without taking into consideration the Saudi and the Israeli demands by the West countries on one hand, and in the light of the variables which led to the failure in the war led by Washington on Syria and funded by Saudi Arabia and run by its armed groups o9n the other hand.

On March 26, 2015 Yemen was liberated through a popular and military uprising in which the revolutionary and the popular committees participated along with the army, clans, and elites. This led to the liberation of the cities, towns, areas, barracks and institutions. The man of Saudi Arabia Mansour Hadi did not find anyone who carries his photo or shoots a bullet for his sake from Sanaa to Aden. The meeting on the Yemeni-Yemeni political solution was like the consensus on sticking to the independence. But on March 26th of 2015 the House of Saud announced to end the Yemeni independence and to impose the regime of trusteeship and occupation on it, thinking that this issue will take few days by the Crown Prince who wanted to express his leadership of the Arab and Islamic worlds through a swift war and a decisive victory and to impose his authority in preparation for the deal of the Century which was prepared with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under the title “Jerusalem is a united eternal capital of Israeli”.

On March 26, 2015, Riad Yassin the Yemeni Foreign Minister at the era of Mansour Hadi announced from Sharm Al Sheikh where the Arab Summit was held to support the Saudi Aggression and to cover it that Eilat will no longer be target of the missiles fired from Al Hodeidah and threaten the security of Israel in any war to come. Now the war is in its fifth year, the dreams of the Saudi Crown Prince are as the promises of Mansour Hadi and his group and as the Deal of the Century and as the security of Eilat, because Al Hodeidah is still steadfast under the control of the Yemeni resisters, and the world which sold UN resolutions that cover the aggression to the Saudi rulers is searching for a settlement that announces the end of the Saudi era as an inevitable result of the failure of the war.

The Saudi rulers have succeeded in committing the greatest massacre in the history, the biggest famine, and the displacing of the largest number of inhabitants from children and women without shelter, food, or medicine, but they failed to win in the bet of the war which they waged five years ago thinking that it is a five-days war or five-weeks war. The heroes of Yemen and their courageous and wise leaderships succeeded in repeating what the heroes of Vietnam and their courageous leadership did in getting rid of the ugly brutal slavery that belongs to ignorance, darkness, and injustice. The Yemenis waged our war by proxy, as the House of Saud waged the war of the Americans, the Israelis, and the terrorism, but they were defeated and we won.

It is the beginning of the Yemeni era.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

 

26 آذار نهاية الحقبة السعوديّة وبداية الزمن اليمنيّ

مارس 25, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– عندما كان ثوار وشعب فييتنام يُلحقون الهزيمة بالاحتلال الأميركي لبلدهم كانوا يفعلون ذلك بدافع وطنيتهم الخالصة، ولم يكن في حسابهم أنهم يفعلون بالنيابة عن كل شعوب الأرض وأحرارها، ما يجب لكسر شوكة هذا المعتدي المتعجرف الذي بنى على قوته العمياء تحكمه بمصائر شعوب الأرض وثرواتها. وعندما خرج العالم يحتفل بالنصر الذي حققه الفييتناميون، لم يكن يعبر عن الإعجاب بالإعجاز الذي تحقق على أيدي البسطاء والفقراء والضعفاء في مواجهة آلة الموت العمياء، التي تحميها الأموال والتقنيات وقدرة القتل بلا حدود، بل كان العالم بطريقته يتنفّس الصعداء لأن أميركا التي أرعبت الدنيا وملأتها ذعراً تخرج من هذه الحرب على غير ما دخلتها، وستكون أقل توحشاً ووقاحة بعدها، ليس لأنّها تتعلم الدروس وتتخذ العبر، بل لأنها جريحة تنزف وأعجز من أن تكرر فعلتها مرة أخرى.

– في 26 آذار 2015 قرّر حكام الرياض أن حرية اليمن تشكّل مصدراً أولَ للخطر على الحقبة السعودية التي خيّمت على العالمين العربي والإسلامي منذ هزيمة عام 1967 للجيوش العربيّة على يد جيش كيان الاحتلال الصهيوني لفلسطين، الذي قام بتجيير العائد السياسي لنصره العسكري لحساب حلفائه آل سعود الذين شاطروه العداء لجمال عبد الناصر الذي كان يشكل عنوان المواجهة مع كيان الاحتلال، وبناء عليه قرّر حكام الرياض أن حرباً سريعة وحاسمة تنهي قوى المقاومة في اليمن صارت ضرورة لإنقاذ الحقبة السعودية من التداعي الذي أصابها، في ضوء مشروع التفاهم على الملف النووي الإيراني دون الأخذ بالطلبات السعودية والإسرائيلية من قبل دول الغرب، من جهة. وفي ظل المتغيرات التي بدأت ترتسم فشلاً في الحرب التي تقودها واشنطن على سورية وتمولها السعودية وتدير جماعاتها المسلحة، من جهة مقابلة.

– في 26 آذار 2015 كان اليمن قد تحرّر عبر إنتفاضة شعبية وعسكرية تشاركت فيها اللجان الثورية والشعبية والجيش والعشائر والنخب، وتساقطت المدن والبلدات والمناطق والثكنات والمؤسسات بأيدي المنتفضين، ولم يجد رجل السعودية في اليمن منصور هادي من يحمل له صورة، أو يطلق دفاعاً عنه رصاصة، من صنعاء إلى عدن، وكان الإجماع على أن الحل السياسي اليمني اليمني يوازي الإجماع على التمسك بالاستقلال، لكن في 26 آذار 2015 أعلن آل سعود أنهم قرروا إنهاء الاستقلال اليمني وفرض نظام الوصاية والاحتلال على اليمن، وفي ظنهم أن الأمر رحلة أيام يمضيها ولي العهد الذي أراد تدشين زعامته للعالمين العربي والإسلامي بحرب خاطفة ونصر حاسم يؤدّب خصومه، ويفرض مهابته، تمهيداً للتبشير بصفقة القرن التي تم إعدادها بالتشارك مع رئيس حكومة الاحتلال بنيامين نتنياهو، وعنوانها، القدس عاصمة أبدية موحدة لـ«إسرائيل».

– في 26 آذار 2015 كان وزير خارجية منصور هادي، رياض ياسين يعلن من شرم الشيخ حيث انعقدت القمة العربية التي أعلنت دعم العدوان السعودي ووفّرت له التغطية، أن إيلات لن تكون بعد اليوم في مرمى الصواريخ التي تتخذ من الحديدة مراكز انطلاق لها لتهديد أمن «إسرائيل» في أي حرب مقبلة. وها هي الحرب تدخل سنتها الخامسة، وأحلام ولي العهد السعودي كما وعود منصور هادي وجماعته، وصفقة القرن، وأمن إيلات، تتبخّر جميعاً، والحديدة صامدة بأيدي المقاومين اليمنيين، والعالم الذي باع لحكام السعودية قرارات أممية تغطي العدوان وتتبنّى شروطه يبحث عن كيفية التموضع على شروط للتسوية تأخذ بالاعتبار نهاية الحقبة السعودية، كنتيجة حتمية لفشل الحرب.

– نجح حكام السعودية بارتكاب أضخم مجزرة بشرية في التاريخ، والتسبّب بأكبر مجاعة، وتشريد أكبر عدد من السكان والأطفال والنساء بلا مسكن ولا طعام ولا دواء، لكنهم فشلوا في الفوز برهان الحرب التي خاضوها منذ خمس سنوات، وفي ظنهم أنها حرب خمسة أيام أو خمسة أسابيع، ونجح أبطال اليمن وقيادتهم الشجاعة والحكيمة في تكرار ما فعله أبطال فييتنام وقيادتهم الشجاعة والحكيمة، بتخليص البشرية من نير عبودية غاشمة وغشيمة، تنتمي للجهل والظلمة والظلم، لقد خاض اليمنيون حربنا جميعاً بالوكالة، كما خاض آل سعود ومَن معهم حرب الأميركيين والإسرائيليين والإرهاب جنباً إلى جنب، فهزموا جميعاً، وانتصرنا.

– إنها بداية الزمن اليمني.

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Yemenis Mark 4 Years of Saudi War in Nationwide Mass Rallies

By Staff, Agencies

Millions of Yemenis took to the streets of the capital, Sana’a, and other major cities to mark the fourth anniversary of the Saudi regime’s devastating war against the Arab country and reiterate their steadfastness in the face of the ongoing aggression.

Many provinces and cities, including Sana’a, Sa’ada, Ta’izz, Ibb, Bayda and Raymah, have been witnessing mass rallies since Monday, Yemen’s al-Masirah television network reported.

However, the protests reached their peak on Tuesday, March 26, the day the Saudi regime and a coalition of its vassal states launched the US-backed military campaign against Yemen in 2015 to reinstate the ex-Yemeni government – a close Riyadh ally – and destroying the popular Ansarullah revolutionary movement.

The demonstrators carried placards and Yemeni national flags, chanting slogans against Riyadh, ‘Israel’ and Washington, which has been providing military support to the Saudi-led coalition over the course of the war.

The offensive initially consisted of a bombing campaign, but was later coupled with a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces into Yemen.

Relatively, Yemen’s Grand Mufti was among the keynote speakers at the rally in Sana’a, where he called on the Arab country’s religious scholars as well as the Muslim world not to remain silent in the face of the crimes the Al Saud regime and its allies have been committing against Yemenis.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen, also delivered a speech and stressed, “The Yemeni nation will continue fighting to the end and [we] will never give in. We will finally defeat the enemy.”

He further condemned US President Donald Trump’s decision on Monday to formally recognize Syria’s occupied Golan Heights as part of the “Israeli territory.”

The Saudi-led war has taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

A number of Western countries, the US and Britain in particular, are also accused of being complicit in the ongoing aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.

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New Saudi Massacre in Yemen: 20 Women, Children Killed

Source

By Staff

Nearly 5 years on the Saudi brutal aggression on Yemen, the Saudi killing machine continues to slaughter civilians amid an international silence.

In a new massacre, two dozen women and a child have been martyred in the latest round of Saudi airstrikes in Yemen.

Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Saudi warplanes bombarded residential buildings in Talan village of Kushar district in Yemen’s northwestern province of Hajjah on Sunday afternoon, leaving 20 women and a child dead, Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported.

The sources added that the attacks leveled five houses to the ground. Locals were looking for possible survivors under the rubble.

Saudi warplanes also reportedly targeted ambulances, preventing doctors and paramedics from reaching the area.

The leader of Yemen’s Ansarullah movement recently said Yemeni women and children are being brutally killed by US and Western-made munitions used in the campaign.

For his part, the adviser of the Human Rights Ministry in Yemen stressed that the crime reflects the defeat of the aggression forces and tools.

“The United Nations organizations must carry its responsibility to investigate the facts and document the crimes of the Saudi aggression in Yemen,” he added.

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From Madero to Maduro: Lessons of the Mexican Revolution for 21st Century Venezuela

From Madero to Maduro: Lessons of the Mexican Revolution for 21st Century Venezuela

MARTIN SIEFF | 21.02.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

From Madero to Maduro: Lessons of the Mexican Revolution for 21st Century Venezuela

Just over 100 years ago, Mexico had a popular, much beloved democratically elected President determined to reduce foreign influence and obscene profits flowing out of the country and raise the standard of living for his people. The US financial interests on Wall Street orchestrated a military coup and made sure he was brutally murdered.

The president obviously was not Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, who has been set up to receive the same treatment this year, but his name was remarkably close – Madero not Maduro. The parallels and contrasts between the two men are thought-provoking.

Unfortunately poor Francisco Madero, an idealistic reformer who ruled as President of Mexico from 1911 to 1913 did not have the tough political street smarts and plain common sense that Venezuela’s Maduro has exhibited throughout his long, controversial but undeniably successful career.

Madero naively trusted in the army commander-in-chief he had inherited from his predecessor President Porfirio Diaz, General Victoriano Huerta. Huerta had prospered throughout the long 35-year rule of Diaz from 1876 to 1911 by carrying out genocidal campaigns for him against the Yaqui Indians and the Mayans.

In 1913, Wall Street interests enthusiastically supported Huerta when he carried out a coup against the innocent Madero. Woodrow Wilson, the US president of the day was an exceptionally ugly racist who despised the Mexican people and at first went along with Huerta’s coup.

The huge financial and mining interests in New York were eager to continue plundering Mexico’s resources while more than 90 percent of its people lived virtually as slaves in appalling poverty under Diaz.

In the last decade of Diaz’s rule – securely supported by the Wall Street financial robber barons, as historian Matthew Josephson called them and by the complacent administrations of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft – at least 600,000 people were worked to death as real slaves on the estates of Diaz’s supporters. Not a whisper of disapproval was heard from Washington.

Huerta ruled with his usual mindless thuggish brutality for less than a year and a half before provoking such national revulsion that he was ousted in a brief and bloody civil war. He fled of course to the United States but then made the mistake of alienating US business and military leaders alike by openly embracing Imperial Germany to plot his militaristic comeback.

Huerta died in loose US military custody in 1916 after a night of dining out and carousing. Poisoning by the Americans was widely suspected but the cause may well just have been heavy drinking. His autopsy revealed extreme cirrhosis of the liver.

To this day Huerta is reviled as the murderous mass killer and cowardly murderer and tool of cynical foreign interests he was while the well-meaning, but tragically ineffectual Madero is genuinely loved by the people of Mexico. The days from the start of Huerta’s coup to the president’s murder – gunned down by an impromptu firing squad of assassins by night along with his own brother and vice president are remembered as La Decena Tragica, The Ten Tragic Days.

In the years that followed, Mexico endured all the horrors of a collapsed state with rival feuding bands slaughtering each other and everyone else they came across. The population of the country plummeted from 15 million in 1910 to 11.6 million a decade later. Factoring in how many deaths were masked by the high birth rate, well over four million people, or more than 25 percent of the total population died in the years of anarchic violence that Huerta’s murder of President Madero set in motion.

La Decena Tragica continues to reverberate in Mexico to this day. When current President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador continues to withstand massive pressures from the Trump administration to recognize their preferred puppet, Juan Guaido as Washington’s preferred figurehead president of Venezuela, he is heeding his people’s reverence for martyred President Madero and remembering the bloodbaths and chaos that the hated Huerta unleashed in his place.

Madero naively trusted in the honor of his army commander, the murderous Huerta. By contrast, President Maduro in Venezuela, like his political mentor and predecessor Hugo Chavez, has taken care to always have an army high command loyal to the democratically elected national civilian leadership. Nevertheless, today, US leaders have openly called on Venezuela’s military leaders to scrap their own cherished constitution and political processes and violently topple President Maduro – All of course in the name of their usual mythical and never-defined “freedom.”

However, Bloomberg News pointedly noted in a recent report that in a Venezuelan military establishment of more than 2,000 generals and admirals, only a single officer who did not even command any troops has sworn allegiance to National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaido, the farcical boy toy whom the Trump administration is trying to set up as “president” of Venezuela in Maduro’s place.

It is just as well. The precedent of Mexico more than a century ago teaches us that if the US plot to topple President Maduro were to succeed, as the one to remove and murder President Madero did so tragically 106 years ago, then civil war, chaos and the violent death of multiple millions of innocent people would rapidly follow.

In the seven years following the murder of Francisco Madero, more than a quarter of the population of Mexico were slaughtered or starved to death. The history of states where 21st century US administrations have successfully orchestrated “regime change” makes clear that Venezuela would suffer a similar fate.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, South Sudan and Ukraine remain appalling object-lessons to the world in US criminal incompetence – at the very least – in “nation-building.” The consequences of the endless failed attempts to topple the government of Syria tell the same terrible story.

The bullets that slammed into gentle, naïve little President Madero more than a century ago continue to ricochet in our own bloodstained age.

Cupid’s Zionist Arrows Missing Maduro

By Hussein Samawarchi

I wasn’t waiting to see if the Arabs participating in the most recent US charade against the free world would exchange Valentine’s love cards with the “Israelis” or not. That is something only a person who is acutely naive would doubt. I just wanted to see if they did it publicly or not. After all, the bosses of Pence and Pompeo are the same ones who need to ensure that the bloodthirsty Netanyahu continues his rampage against Palestinian children and that can only be accomplished by getting him to win elections, the results of which would be almost secured if the scandal-plagued Zionist PM proves to the settlers that he’s opening Arab airports for them.

One way or another, the “Israeli” media was going to celebrate candlelight dinners between the lords of Petroleum and the PM who, not so long ago, was shown on video speaking openly about the US public opinion being his to manipulate. They, the “Israeli” newspapers and TV stations, leak such news frequently. And, unfortunately, this is one aspect where public deception is not the case.

It is all related to Venezuela, whose legal president, Mr. Nicolas Madura, has proved that it is possible for a Latin to be more Arab than many of those who wear the traditional Dishdashah. Actually, more humanely correct and closer to the philosophy of Islam than most of them. Mr. Maduro and the brave people of Venezuela are living proof that the gap between Christianity and Islam is nonexistent when it comes to right and wrong.

The major Latin American nation has been subject to enormous pressures by the US for as long as we can remember. The Venezuelans’ natural tendency to refuse being dictated to has led them to be on the blacklist of the CIA; they are simply too proud to receive late night phone calls from some American ambassador and this is just unfathomable to the agency that orchestrated the infamous Operation Condor. They want to control Venezuela’s natural resources and its politics.

Nevertheless, it has become obvious that the objective behind the insistent campaign to destroy the very foundations of Venezuela and starve its citizens goes beyond wanting to turn it into another puppet state.

The graduates of Kissinger’s school of political terror have found that bringing a nation like this great Bolivarian one with all its top natural and human resources to its knees would serve as a lesson to the Arab leaders who were still hesitant regarding being seen in the same room with “Israel” and Cupid. If the CIA can starve the Venezuelans into overthrowing a government that says NO to imperialism, then the same could be done with the dictators of the Gulf region. It’s a very simple concept: Forget the Palestinians or we will bring someone in your place who would.

The exaggerated “Israeli” flag portrayed during the separatists’ demonstration in Venezuela was a signal to Arabs preparing to fly to Warsaw. Pompeo probably authorized the $10 payment to each person carrying it while planning the shameful seating arrangements for the summit along with the comical little microphone act that was staged.

Iran has been subject to crippling embargos for the past 40 years; high-quality medicine is not only produced there, but it is also affordable by everyone. There is no fear of falling sick in the Islamic Republic and not finding the proper medical attention for free. Even dental care which is not covered by insurance in so many so-called first world countries is available free of charge in centers around the Iranian capital. This is just one simple example of what an anti-imperialist government gives to its people.

President Maduro realizes this and so do the majority of his people. There is no doubt that Venezuela will pull through this ordeal and it will do so by primarily sticking to its high ethical standards in international affairs and then by keeping its close relationships with the countries supporting real independence and freedom of choice.

The assassin of Imam Mohammad Baqir Al Sadr was buried in disgrace. The kidnapper of Imam Mousa al-Sadr was buried in disgrace. Those trying to assassinate Palestine will be buried in disgrace. No amount of celebrating Valentine’s with Netanyahu by officials will make the Arab citizen forsake his true love, Jerusalem.

Starving Venezuela into Submission

You are so kind-hearted! I shed a tear thinking of American generosity. “So many delightful goodies: sacks of rice, canned tuna and protein-rich biscuits, corn flour, lentils and pasta, arrived at the border of troubled Venezuela – enough for one light meal each for five thousand people”, – reported the news in a sublime reference to five thousand fed by Christ’s fishes and loaves. True, Christ did not take over the bank accounts and did not seize the gold of those he fed. But 21st century Venezuela is a good deal more-prosperous than 1st century Galilee. Nowadays, you have to organise a blockade if you want people to be grateful for your humanitarian aid.

This is not a problem. The US-UK duo did it in Iraq, as marvellous Arundhati Roywrote in April 2003 (in The Guardian of old, before it turned into an imperial tool): After Iraq was brought to its knees, its people starved, half a million of its children killed, its infrastructure severely damaged… the blockade and war were followed by… you guessed it! Humanitarian relief. At first, they blocked food supplies worth billions of dollars, and then they delivered 450 tonnes of humanitarian aid and celebrated their generosity for a few days of live TV broadcasts. Iraq had had enough money to buy all the food it needed, but it was blocked, and its people received only some peanuts.

And this was rather humane by American standards. In the 18th century, the British colonists in North America used more drastic methods while dispensing aid to disobedient natives. The Red Indians were expelled from their native places, and then they were provided humanitarian aid: whiskey and blankets. The blankets had been previously used by smallpox patients. The native population of North America was decimated by the ensuing epidemics from this and similar measures. Probably you haven’t heard of this chapter of your history: the USA has many Holocaust museums but not a single memorial to the genocide near home. It is much more fun to discuss faults of Germans and Turks than of your own forefathers.

First, you starve people; then you bring them humanitarian aid. This was proposedby John McNaughton at Pentagon: bomb locks and dams, by shallow-flooding the rice, cause widespread starvation (more than a million dead?) “And then we shall deliver humanitarian aid to the starving Vietnamese”. Or, rather, “we could offer to do [that] at the conference table.” Planning a million dead by starvation, in writing: if such a note would be found on the ruins of the Third Reich, it would seal the story of genocide, it would be quoted daily. But the story of the genocide of the Vietnamese is rarely mentioned nowadays.

They did it in Syria, too. At first, they brought weapons for every Muslim extremist, then they blockaded Damascus, and then they sent some humanitarian aid, but only to the areas under rebel control.

This cruel but efficient method of breaking nations’ spirit has been developed by lion tamers for years, perhaps for centuries. You have to starve the beast until it will take food from your hands and lick your fingers. ‘Starvation-taming’, they call it.

The Israelis practice it in Gaza. They block all export or import from the Strip, interdict fishing in the Mediterranean and drip-feed the captive Palestinians by ‘humanitarian aid’. Jews, being Jews, make it one better: they made the EU to pay for the humanitarian aid to Gaza AND to buy the aid stuff from Israel. This made Gaza an important source of profit for the Jewish state.

So in Venezuela they follow an old script. The US and its London poodle seized over 20 billion dollars from Venezuela and from Venezuelan national companies. They stole over a billion in gold ingots Venezuela had trustingly deposited in the cellars of the Bank of England.

Well, they said they will give this money to a Venezuelan Random Dude, rather. To the guy who already promised to give the wealth of Venezuela to the US companies. And after this daylight robbery, they bring a few containers of humanitarian aid to the border and wait for the rush of bereft Venezuelans for food.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: “The Venezuelan people desperately need humanitarian aid. The U.S. & other countries are trying to help, but Venezuela’s military under Maduro’s orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tankers. The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE.”

Venezuelans aren’t starving, even though they are going through difficulties. The biggest noise is made by the wealthy, as always. If Pompeo wants to help Venezuelans, he might lift the sanctions, return the funds, lift the blockade. The biscuits he wants to provide are of but little use.

President Maduro is right when he refuses to let this hypocrisy bribe the stomachs and hearts of his people. It is not just that he remembers his Virgil and knows, Timeo danaos et dona ferentes, “beware gift-bearing Greeks.” There are too many American and Colombian soldiers around the pending delivery place, and this place is suspiciously close to an airport with an extra-long runway suitable for a an airlift.

The US is known for its propensity to invade its neighbours: Panama was invaded in 1989 to keep the Panama Canal in American hands and to roll back the agreement signed by the good-hearted President Jimmy Carter. President George Bush Sr sent his airborne troops in after calling Panama president “a dictator and cocaine smuggler”. This is exactly what President Trump says about Venezuela’s president.

They are likely to use this aid to invade and suborn Venezuela. Wisely, Maduro began large military exercises to prepare the army in case of invasion. The situation of Venezuela is dire enough even without invasion. Their money has been appropriated, their main oil company is as good as confiscated; and there is a strong fifth column waiting for Yankees in Caracas.

This fifth column consists mainly of compradors, well-off young folk with a smattering of Western education and upbringing, who see their future within the framework of the American Empire. They are ready to betray the unwashed masses and invite the US troops in. They are supported by the super-rich, by representatives of foreign companies, by Western secret services. Such people exist everywhere; they tried to organise the Gucci Revolution in Lebanon, the Green Revolution in Iran, the Maidan in the Ukraine. In Russia they had their chance in the winter of 2011/2012 when their Mink-Coat Revolution was played at Moscow’s Bolotnaya Heath.

In Moscow they lost when their opponents, the Russia-First crowd, bettered them by fielding a much-bigger demo at Poklonnaya Hill. The Western news agencies tried to cover the defeat by broadcasting pictures of the Putin-supporters demo and saying it was the pro-Western Heath. Other Western agencies published pictures of 1991 rallies saying they were taken in 2012 on the Heath. In Moscow, nobody was fooled: the mink-coat crowd knew they were licked.

In the Ukraine, they won, for President Yanukovich, a hesitant and pusillanimous man of two minds, failed to gather massive support. It is a big question whether Maduro will be able to mobilise Venezuela-First masses. If he is, he will win the confrontation with the US as well.

Maduro is rather reticent; he hasn’t disciplined unruly oligarchs; he does not control the media; he tries to play a social-democrat game in a country that is not Sweden by long shot. His subsidies have allowed ordinary people to escape dire poverty, but now they are used by black marketeers to siphon off the wealth of the nation. Far from being a disaster zone, Venezuela is a true Bonanza, a real Klondike: you can fill a tanker with petrol for pennies, smuggle it to neighbouring Colombia and sell it for market price. Many supporters of the Random Guy have made small fortunes this way, and they hope to make a large killing if and when the Americans come.

A bigger problem is that Venezuela had become a monoculture economy: it exports oil and imports everything else. It does not even produce food to feed its 35 million inhabitants. Venezuela is a victim of neoliberal doctrine claiming that you can buy what you can’t produce. Now they can’t buy and they do not produce. Imagine a democratic Saudi Arabia hit by blockade.

In order to save the economy, Maduro should drain the swamp, end the black market and profiteering, encourage agriculture, tax the rich, develop some industry for local consumption. It can be done. Venezuela is not a socialist state like orderly Cuba, nor a social-democratic one like Sweden and England in 1970s, but even its very modest model of allowing the masses to rise out of misery, poverty and ignorance seems too much for the West.

It is often said there are two antagonists in the West, the Populists and the Globalists, and President Trump is the Populist leader. The Venezuela crisis proved these two forces are united if there is a chance to attack and rob an outsider country. Trump is condemned at home when he calls his troops back from Afghanistan or Syria, but he gains support when he threatens Venezuela or North Korea. He can be sure he will be cheered on by Macron and Merkel and even by The Washington Post and The New York Times.

He has the real WMD, the Weapons of Mass Deception, to attack Venezuela, and these WMD had been activated with the beginning of the creeping coup. When a rather unknown young politician, the leader of a small neoliberal rabidly pro-American fraction in the Parliament, Random Dude, claimed the title of president, he was immediately recognised by Trump, and the Western media reported that the people of Venezuela went out in mass demos to greet the new president and demand Maduro’s removal.

They beamed videos of huge Caracas demos back to Venezuela. Not many viewers abroad noticed that the video was old, filmed in 2016 demos, but the Venezuelans saw that at once. They weren’t fooled. They knew that there is no chance for a big protest demo on that day, the day of a particularly important baseball game in the professional league between Leones of Caracas and Cardenales de Lara from Barquisimeto.

But the WMD kept lying. Here is a report by Moon of Alabama: the reports of large anti-government rallies are fake news or prophecies hoping to become self-fulfilling ones:

Agence France-Press stated at 11:10 utc yesterday that “tens of thousands” would join a rally.

AFP news agency @AFP – 11:10 utc – 2 Feb 2019

Tens of thousands of protesters are set to pour onto the streets of Venezuela’s capital #Caracas Saturday to back opposition leader Juan Guaido’s calls for early elections as international pressure increased on President #Maduro to step down http://u.afp.com/Jouu

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

AFP news agency

@AFP

Tens of thousands of protesters are set to pour onto the streets of Venezuela’s capital Saturday to back opposition leader Juan Guaido’s calls for early elections as international pressure increased on President to step down http://u.afp.com/Jouu 

That was at 7:10am local time in Caracas, several hours before the rally took place. Such “predictive reporting” is now supposed to be “news”. A bit later AFP posted a video:

AFP news agency @AFP – 15:50 utc – 2 Feb 2019″>

VIDEO: Thousands of opposition protesters pour onto the streets of Caracas to back Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan #Guaido who is calling for early elections, as international pressure increases on President Nicolas #Maduro to step down

AFP news agency

 

A Venezuelan air force general has rejected the authority of President Nicolas , becoming the highest-ranking military officer to recognize opposition leader Juan as the country’s acting president http://u.afp.com/JobJ 

Venezuelan air force general declares allegiance to Guaido: video

A Venezuelan air force general rejected the authority of President Nicolas Maduro Saturday, becoming the highest-ranking military officer to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s…

news.yahoo.com

AFP news agency

@AFP

VIDEO: 🇻🇪 Thousands of opposition protesters pour onto the streets of Caracas to back Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan who is calling for early elections, as international pressure increases on President Nicolas to step down pic.twitter.com/JdWS12j9KJ

Embedded video
That was at 11:50am local time. The attached video did not show “thousands” but some 200 people milling about.

They lie that there are army deserters spoiling for a fight with the army. The young guys CNN presented weren’t deserters, and they didn’t live in Venezuela. Even their military insignia were of the kind discarded years ago, as our friend The Saker noticed.

However, these lies won’t avail – my correspondents in Caracas report that there are demos for and against government (for Maduro slightly bigger crowds), but the feelings aren’t strong. The crisis is manufactured in Washington, and the Venezuelans aren’t keen to get involved.

That’s why we can expect an American attempt to use force, preceded by some provocation. Probably it won’t be a full-blown war: the US never fought an enemy that wasn’t exhausted prior to the encounter. If the Maduro administration survives the blow, the crisis will take a low profile, until sanctions do their work and further undermine the economy.

In this struggle, President Trump is his own bitter enemy. He seeks approval of the War Party, and his own base will be disappointed by his actions. His sanctions will send more refugees to the US, wall or no wall. He undermines the unique status of the US dollar by weaponising it. In 2020, he will reap what he sow.

Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net

This article was first published at The Unz Review.

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 

Reporter’s Diary from Venezuela

February 08, 2019

Reporter’s Diary from Venezuela

Reporter’s Diary from Venezuela.

Georgy Zotov (author of AIF weekly)

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

Translated by Scott

 

Day one…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Day two…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day three…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again, she pauses and sighs.

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

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

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

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

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

The Saudi Regime, Murderous Wahhabism Failing on All Front

 

elbinawi.wordpress.com

The savage Saudi regime and its murderous Wahhabi ideology failing on all fronts. The international posture of this bloodthirsty Wahhabi regime is in tatters after the Khashoggi Murder. Even their closest Western allies are keeping a distance from them. Only the US President Trump remain embracing them. The Khashoggi affair solidify the evilness of this bloodthirsty Wahhabi regime that is presently occupying the two most Holy sites of Islam.

In Yemen, they are being disgraced and humiliated by the brave and courageous Yemeni Resistance. The Sudanese are threatening to withdraw their soldiers from the Saudi coalition. The Yemeni Resistance is stronger than ever before. They now manufacture all kinds of arms and weapons. The US and UK regimes are hypocritically showing concern for the mass starvation in Yemen. Without Saudi bombings and blockade this catastrophe will not occur.

In Nigeria, though Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, his injured wife and hundreds of members of the Islamic Movement are still in illegal detention but the Islamic Movement is waxing stronger with more membership and popular acceptance by Nigerians.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and his gang of wicked mass murderers are on the retreat. They are confused and are now spending sleepless nights that if they lose power in the February 2019 elections they will end up in ICC jail for the heinous crimes against humanity they perpetrated in Zaria. Their mass graves has failed to bury the brutal and inhuman Zaria Genocide.

In Bahrain, the Saudi-backed tyrannical regime is on the defensive. The resistance of the oppressed people of Bahrain is consistent. Though with most of it leaders in the dungeons of the Western-backed regime, the opposition is stronger today with more international acceptance. The fall of this tyrannical regime is just a matter of time. Victory is with the oppressed.

In Syria, US President Trump surprisingly announced the withdrawal of all US troops from Syria. He did this due to the successes of the Syrian government and its allies against the murderous terrorists created by the West. The US imperialism is on the retreat in the Middle East. The Evil Empire is breathing it last days. No Empire last forever.

In Iraq, the Daesh [Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] terrorism is totally defeated in Iraq and the US – Saudi regime plot to sow discord and distance the Iraqi government from Iran has woefully failed. Iraq is rebuilding and terrorist attacks has drastically reduce. The people of Iraq should unite and build a strong and prosperous Iraq. The “Israeli”-backed plot of Kurdish independence in Iraq is now history. Dead and buried!

In occupied Palestine, the weekly Friday peaceful Great Return Protest continue despite “Israeli” attacks on the peaceful protesters. The Palestinian Resistance forces are stronger today and united. The fraudulent “Deal of the century” of US President Trump is dead on arrival and will not even be considered by the Palestinians. Al-Quds is the eternal capital of Palestine and one million Trumps cannot change this. The Zionist regime is a Cancerous tumor that is the source of all conflicts in the Middle East.

On a final note, we oppose Western imperialism as we will not accept that a few people control the world and it resources. All humanity have the right for a decent living and right to control their destiny. The notion that some lives are more superior to some is a fraudulent Imperialism creation to facilitate their looting of the resources of other nation. They also induce inferiority complex to facilitate looting and plunder of resources. We reject inferiority complex as much as we reject superiority complex.

Source: elbinawi.wordpress.com, Edited by website team

Imagine If Saudi Arabia Was Not a US Ally

Imagine If Saudi Arabia Was Not a US Ally

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 15.12.2018

Imagine If Saudi Arabia Was Not a US Ally

Caitlin JOHNSTONE

The US Senate has voted 56 to 41 to sorta-kinda eventually end America’s part in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, one step out of a great many that will need to happen in order to end the worst humanitarian crisis on the face of the earth.

The joint resolution still allows US drones to patrol Yemeni airspace and rain death from above in its “war on terror” against Al Qaeda, and it is unable to pass in the House this year due to an unbelievably sleazy rider that House Republicans attached to the unrelated Farm Bill. The resolution isn’t expected to change much in terms of actual US participation in the war besides some intelligence and reconnaissance assistance to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against the Houthi rebels, since the US has already ended its assistance in refueling Saudi jets on their bombing campaigns as of last month. Trump is expected to veto any Yemen resolutions, and the Senate resolution was not passed with a veto-proof supermajority.

Still, it’s a step. A step in the right direction, both toward congress imposing some checks and balances on the Executive Branch’s heretofore obscenely unchallenged war powers, and toward the US government moving into opposition to the brazen war crimes being inflicted upon the Yemeni people by America’s close ally Saudi Arabia. And I think that last bit is worth taking a moment to think about.

Research from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project indicates that up to 80,000 people have been killed in this war, which would be eight times more than the 10,000 figure we’ve been hearing from the mainstream media for years on those rare occasions they’ve felt like mentioning Yemen. And it is important to note that this number applies to deaths by military violence only, not to the other untold tens of thousands who have died of starvation and cholera as a result of Saudi Arabia’s inhuman blockades on imports and its deliberate targeting of farms, fishing boats, marketplaces, food storage sites and cholera treatment centers with airstrikes. Just for children under the age of five, the death toll due to starvation alone is believed to be around 85,000.

So that’s what’s going on while the bureaucrats on Capitol Hill are slowly pushing their pencils and the diplomats are making nicey nicey with theocratic Gulf state tyrants. If Saudi Arabia were not an ally of the United States, this matter would be treated very, very differently.

In May of last year, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was given a memo by his assistant, virulent Iran hawk Brian Hook. The memo, intended to educate the struggling political neophyte Tillerson on the finer points of State Department manipulation, laid out the beltway’s standard protocol for dealing with Washington’s allies and its enemies. Hook said human rights issues are something the US government presses its enemies on but not its allies, naming China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran as examples of US enemies who violate human rights, and naming Egypt, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia as examples of US allies who violate human rights.

“In the case of US allies such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines, the Administration is fully justified in emphasizing good relations for a variety of important reasons, including counter-terrorism, and in honestly facing up to the difficult tradeoffs with regard to human rights,” Hook wrote. “One useful guideline for a realistic and successful foreign policy is that allies should be treated differently — and better — than adversaries. Otherwise, we end up with more adversaries, and fewer allies. The classic dilemma of balancing ideals and interests is with regard to America’s allies. In relation to our competitors, there is far less of a dilemma. We do not look to bolster America’s adversaries overseas; we look to pressure, compete with, and outmaneuver them. For this reason, we should consider human rights as an important issue in regard to US relations with China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. And this is not only because of moral concern for practices inside those countries. It is also because pressing those regimes on human rights is one way to impose costs, apply counter-pressure, and regain the initiative from them strategically.”

And indeed this is exactly the sort of behavior we see from the US government, not just from its official branches like the State Department but from its unofficial ones as well, including the mainstream media. Just look at the France protests, which have seen mass arrests and protesters getting eyes shot out and hands blown off by brutal police responses while receiving nary a whisper of commentary from the plutocrat-owned talking heads, yet if this were happening in Russia we all know it would be forced into viral trends and pushed into public consciousness at every opportunity.

If Saudi Arabia existed in the “enemies” column instead of the “allies”, we’d have been seeing constant mass media coverage of its butchery in Yemen for almost four years now. MSNBC, which recently went more than a year without mentioning Yemen even a single time, would be tearfully depicting the dying children with the same urgency it covered the “uniquely horrific” sarin gas attack alleged to have taken place in Syria last year, and doing so regularly. The starving children of Yemen would be on the forefront of western consciousness instead of the back burner, and demands to make it stop would be screaming from coast to coast.

That’s seriously it. That one stupid, silly shift from the “allies” column to the “enemies” column would make the difference between night and day in the western world’s response to the slaughter in Yemen. The Saudi royals would be vilified, and that vilification would be used to manufacture support for sanctions and strategies to shove the KSA off the world stage. CIA covert ops would be implemented to sow discord, and starvation sanctions would target Saudi civilians to help stoke the flames of discontent. Regime change would take place via invasion or staged coup, and then a puppet regime would be installed which would quietly make the shift to selling all Saudi oil in US dollars.

And in the meantime, God help Trump if he was stupid enough to stay cozied up with the Saudis, because guess what? There’s a lot more evidence for Saudi collusion than there is for Russia collusion. The all-you-can-eat nothingburger of Russiagate would have been replaced by far more concrete and straightforward stories about direct financial ties to the Saudi government, an emissary for a Saudi prince who wanted to help Trump win the 2016 election, and remarks by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is “in his pocket”. Trump’s creepy glowing orb picture alone would have mainstream Saudi-gate conspiracy theorists in intractable hysterics.

Of course none of this would ever have had a chance to happen, because if Saudi Arabia were not a US ally, it would have been invaded and forcibly regime changed immediately after 9/11.

But Saudi Arabia is a US ally, and a very close one indeed. Its petrodollar deal, its prime strategic location and its ability to move vast amounts of wealth around behind a veil of total government opacity in the facilitation of sociopathic agendas has made it a priceless asset in the US-centralized empire’s relentless quest for global domination. This remains true in spite of whatever particular quibbles that empire might happen to have with MBS, and in spite of any journalists’ unfortunate encounters with any bone saws.

The struggle to dominate the Middle East remains one of the foremost priorities of elite power in this world, and they’re going to do everything they can not to let a few piles of dead children interfere with an important alliance. The butchery in Yemen is the single worst thing that is happening in the world today, and because of the power dynamics that are at play, we’re going to need a whole lot more than a feel-good Senate vote to heal it. It’s a step. We must keep stepping.

medium.com

Hezbollah Threatens Israel / Gaza / Yemen

Source

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwqjQdeIrj8
Translation: unz.com/sayedhasan
On the evening of Friday, November 30, Hezbollah’s war media broadcasted this video addressed to Israel and subtitled in Hebrew, in response to recent Israeli military exercises simulating an aggression against southern Lebanon, an escalation of violations of Lebanese airspace –from which aggressions against Syria are usually carried out– by Israeli drones, and new threats to assassinate Hezbollah Secretary General. The statement in the video is excerpted from the latest speech by Hassan Nasrallah on November 10, 2018, and the footage shows in particular the precise coordinates of Israeli military bases that would be targeted in case of aggression. Let us remind that Hezbollah’s policy is to target exclusively the military, and to hit the colonies and cities of the enemy only in response to the ongoing Israeli aggression against Lebanese civilians. The civilian/military ratio of the victims of the 2006 war was 1/10 on the Israeli side, and 10/1 on the Lebanese side, a striking proof of the fact that Israel strikes civilians above all, and that Hezbollah favors military targets.
Despite the August 2006 ceasefire, Lebanon and Israel remain in a state of war, and if direct clashes have ceased, information & psychological warfare continue to rage, as are indirect clashes in Syria or even Yemen, where Israeli planes are directly involved in the conflict. At a time when the Gulf countries are openly engaging in the normalization policy of relations with Israel, when yet another futile attempt to strangle Iran economically is at work, and where MBS is touring North Africa to promote Israel’s peace agreement with Israel, Hezbollah recalls that its hostility to Israel remains irreducible, demonstrating its solidarity with the Resistance in Gaza that has recently scored a new victory, which foreshadows a real disaster in the event of a confrontation with such a powerful actor as Hezbollah. Hassan Nasrallah has several times announced as imminent the Great War to Liberate Palestine, in which the extended Resistance Axis (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Iraq and Yemen) would participate.
This video made headlines in Israel Friday night and throughout the weekend, and senior military officials of the Zionist entity reacted to it. In accordance with its policy of anti-Nasrallah censorship, Youtube immediately deleted this video broadcast, among others, by Al-Manar (French) and Sputnik (English) for alledgedly “violating Youtube’s Terms of Service”, but Israeli media like Ynet were able to broadcast it on the platform without fear of censorship –proof that the content itself has no valid reason to be censored according to the Youtube’s Terms of Service. Only sources that are a priori favorable to Hezbollah are tirelessly hunted down by IDF cyber-soldiers and deleted.

Sayed Hasan

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Starving Yemenis Reduced to Eat Tree Leaves

Report of the Lebanese channel Al-Manar, November 13, 2018.
 
Translation: unz.com/sayedhasan

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Hamas Unveils Thwarted Israeli Operation in Gaza that Sparked Recent Escalation

Report of the Lebanese channel Al-Mayadeen, November 12, 2018.
 
Translation: unz.com/sayedhasan
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Hassan Nasrallah: In Yemen’s Quagmire, West Only Cares About Rescuing Saudi Arabia

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on November 10, 2018, on the occasion of Martyr’s day, commemorating the November 11th, 1982 attack on Israeli Barracks in Tyre (South Lebanon), killing 76 officers.
 

Revision & subtitles: unz.com/sayedhasan

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Transcript:

[…] Thirdly, I will speak about an important development in the region, before talking about the internal situation (in Lebanon). From about one month and a half ago, the world became preoccupied with the heinous crime which was perpetrated against the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The whole world was also astonished by the details of the crime: the kidnapping, killing, dismemberment with a saw, and the melting (of the corpse) with acid, and the throwing out of what was melted in the sewerage. The world is right to be astonished, amazed, and to condemn (this crime).

Of course many are looking for ways to get this issue to be forgotten. In the Arab world, no one was astonished, amazed, nor did they condemn. To the contrary, the (Arab rulers) stood in solidarity (with Saudi Arabia). That is normal in the Arab world: to dismember using a saw, to cut using a sword, to melt using acid, this is normal (to some).

It is natural for the world to be astonished, amazed, and to condemn (this crime). However, what is strange of this world, is that it does not take notice of, nor is it astonished by, the daily images of the heinous massacres in Yemen. The world’s conscience was not moved by the Yemeni children –the United Nations itself saying that 100s of children, maybe 400, 500, face death every single hour in Yemen. The United Nations –not us– are speaking of 14 million people threatened with starvation, and this figure may have risen in recent days. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have been infected by cholera and face the possibility of death. But the world is silent.

(Just) now the world has begun to talk, the Americans have begun speaking, the Europeans have begun speaking –of course, let us underline the Arab silence, and silence in the Islamic (world), except for a few states. In general, silence! No one dares to open their mouth. God is the Greatest (expresses wonder)! How great is (the fear) of the sword, and how great is the allurement to money and the glitter of gold,  and how great the (level of) submissiveness in the Arab world! The terrible state of affairs in the Arab world is clearly expressed by the Arab stance towards developments in Yemen.

In any case, we are before a new situation. I don’t want to just talk and condemn. No, we are before a new situation. Perhaps the Khashoggi event caused some change, it is a possibility. Perhaps it was exploited as an incident for another purpose. In any case, it is good that we hear American, European, and UN statements, calling for the cessation to the fighting and a stop to the war. This issue requires some comment: perhaps (this call for an end to the war) could be serious, this is a possibility. It is also possible that this is merely a (deceptive) ploy and a way to buy time.

It is possible that this is a serious (call to end the war), and this possibility has valid reasoning to support it. However, this possibility has not arisen because of the killing of Khashoggi, nor is it because the conscience of the world would (supposedly) awake now. The world has been seeing the children, the immense massacres, bombardment and killing on a daily basis for four years. Why does the world say only now that this war must stop? This requires some contemplation.

Simply and frankly, because the Yemenis remained steadfast in this battle. This is a huge lesson. Because they remained steadfast in this battle, and because the Saudi, Emirati, American coalition failed in this war. If this possibility (i.e. the call for ending the war) is serious, then the aim of it is to rescue the Saudis and Emiratis more than it is about rescuing the Yemenis. Because this coalition failed to invade the north (of Yemen), and failed to administer the south, and they are losing both the north and south of Yemen. The north because of the steadfastness (of Yemenis) and military failure, and the south because of the popular movement (of Yemenis) and administrative and political failure.

America is coming today to rescue its guys in the region. Trump and the American do not care about Yemen’s children nor any such thing. Yet what we care about is the result. What matters for us is that this war and fighting ends. What is interesting though is that (the Americans) said (the war must end) within one month. Why one month? Why not now? Why not directly and immediately?! This point also has the careful attention of our brothers in Yemen, or they must pay careful attention to it. It is as if the Americans are telling this Saudi-Emirati coalition: ‘You have one month (left). Organise your affairs, see what (military) equations you can secure, see what (military) achievements you can muster, (because) after one month the world will tell you to stop’.

For this reason, what is strange and noteworthy is that at the same time that American and Western statements were being issued calling for an end to the war, we witness in Yemen the highest escalation (of military attacks) in many months, I mean the current escalation on the southern coastline and the Hodeidah region.  This is presuming that this possibility is serious.

In any case, if this is a deceptive ploy so that the Yemenis would be deceived (to drop) their weapons (and withdraw from their) battlefronts and positions, they must be wary not to be deceived, because usually when fighters sense that the fighting is almost over, their determination, attention, and awareness begins to lessen, assuming that everything appears to be winding down. This happens because it is a (normal) human reaction.

On (the occasion) of Martyr’s Day, and at a time when we take pride in the martyrs of our brothers and people in Yemen, I say to my brothers over there to remain patient and keep preserving in your fight, and hold firm to your weapons, fronts and positions. You today are closer to victory than ever before! And the victory of the Yemenis is in their remaining in their land, (and) in preventing this barbaric aggression from achieving any of its goals. They are persevering and realizing a military miracle, a military legend, (one) that is unfolding every day at the southern coastline and on the various Yemeni fronts.

I conclude on the situation in the region with a last stance. We have condemned the verdict issued against His Eminence Sheikh Ali Salmane (in Bahrain), may God preserve him, and some of his brothers, and what is noteworthy is that the Bahraini Court ruled that His Eminence the Sheikh was innocent of the accusation of conspiring with Qatar.

There is no conspiration. At the time, at the beginning of events in Yemen, Qatar was trying to (reach the Saudi authorities) through a third party, to find an issue (to the crisis). At the time, the Qatari side was very active on all the fields.

The Court ruled in favour of his innocence, and the Prosecution appealed the verdict. And what was the new verdict? Perpetuity! May it please God (ironic) ! From innocence to perpetuity? O my brother, (perhaps) from innocence to 4, 5 or 10 years of jail could make some sense legally speaking. But perpetuity?! This confirms every day that Justice in Bahrain and the likes of Bahrain is nothing but a true oppressive power.

What was expected is for His Eminence the Cheikh to be freed after having served his time for other verdicts, and to get back to his family and people. But this (authoritative) power insists on detaining him and the clerics, leaders, popular figures and personalities, along with thousands of young Bahrainis in prison, to force this people to surrender (and give up on his legitimate demands), but he will never surrender, not on his national stance, nor on his demands for (political) reforms, nor on his attachment to his rights, whatever the sacrifices. […]

Source

Leaked Pentagon Docs Expose US Hand in Yemen

Pentagon Inadvertently Reveals Secret Saudi Operation

For the Bony Bodies of Yemeni Children… You’d Never Become Poor by Giving!

Zeinab Daher

In Yemen, people get up early in the morning because of war, death and famine…

Although Yemen occupies a large noticeable area on the world map, it can barely go noticed in the hearts and minds of the entire people.

{The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills} – Holy Quran, Surat al-Baqarah, verse 261

It is not only Save the Children, Islamic Relief and other few charitable organizations that are helping Yemen and its inhabitants. There is a humble association in Lebanon that drew the country’s people’s attention to the tragedy happening in the forgotten spot of the world.

The Beirut-based Seven Spikes (7 Sanabel) association was founded in 2012.

According to its chief, Ms. Zahra Badreddine, the association tends to serve poor and needy people.

“Since one of our goals is to help those in need, as the Yemen crisis broke out, one volunteer within the association suggested that we help them. We publicized an advertisement to start raising funds for Yemen, and we provided the text with the official phone numbers of the association. People were suspicious in the beginning, even the close ones… they wondered how could we deliver such aid to the blockaded country. But they were also happy that there is side capable of delivering their donations. Money is transferred through special channels to the safe areas, where the amounts are used to buy necessary foods such as rice, sugar, other nutrients, in addition to medicines to the deprived families,” she explained.

We have delivered three batches of aid, and now we are fundraising for the fourth one. People donated gold coins during the third batch. And we, as an association, demanded to document the aid delivery in a video to assure donors that the help is destined to its people. And indeed, there was a report that documented the process with a banner raised in the targeted area with a thank you message to the association, Badreddine told al-Ahed News.

“Many people thanked us for opening them a door to help. They said that they are feeling the pain and suffering but don’t know how to help.”

She further elaborated that

“Due to the blockade, we couldn’t deliver food from here, we just send the money there and they take charge of buying food to those in need. An amount of $7000 helped feed 180 families.”

“We stressed that the donations target the most needy areas; those who are starving,” Badreddine concluded.

She closed her words by urging other associations and campaigns to open their hands and make every effort to help the Yemeni people.

And for those wishing to give a helping hand, the (7 Sanabel) association’s hotlines are as follows:

00 961 71021536

00 961 76835300

00 961 70678100

00 961 70653690

It is worth mentioning that the aid group restricted gathering the donations to its representatives, and for those found outside the capital city or even outside the country, the group is open to receive them via Online Money Transfer service [OMT].

Hereby, it is an invitation for all schools, universities and any other sides to take the initiative in solidarity Yemen.

Although the association’s capabilities only cover small areas, its people in charge harbor hopes that their initiative help widen the scale of aid given to the starving people, and lift the suffering there are struggling to end in the face of the years-long brutal war imposed on them.

In this respect, the latest UNICEF estimates reported that the total people in need are 22.2 million, 11.3 million of them are children.

In further details, the UN agency warned that Yemen has become one of the world’s largest and most complex humanitarian crises. Almost 80 per cent of the population is in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The war has led to the internal displacement of 2 million people, left over 1 million public sector workers without pay for two years, and undermined access to ports and airports, obstructing essential humanitarian and commercial deliveries.

The crisis has led to many problems among the following:

  • Growing food insecurity, poor water and sanitation, and the spread of preventable diseases threaten millions more. The caseload of outbreaks of Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD)/cholera has reached over one million. The strain on an already weakened health system has been further compounded by the diphtheria outbreak in early 2018, with over 2,200 cases, so far
  • In addition, 16 million people lack access to safe water
  • Children are the primary victims: more than 6,000 have been verified as killed or maimed since the conflict began
  • Almost 394,000 children under 5 currently suffer from severe acute malnutrition [SAM] and require treatment
  • The damage and closure of schools and health facilities threaten children’s access to education and health services

Although the bony faces of Yemeni children can say it all, people should notice that famine is not caused by a shortage of food, it is rather caused by a shortage of sympathy and giving, and you cannot feel the hell they are suffering from unless you are in their shoes.

But if you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. You would never become poor by giving a small amount of the entire blessings you enjoy.

And always remember that we can’t help everyone, but for sure everyone can help someone.

So, this platform is meant to open your eyes to the fact that any one of you can give a helping hand. Borders are not a barrier. When you want’ to make something happen, then you’ll definitely find a way to do.

Source: Al-Ahed News

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