Crimes against Humanity: US Sanctions Harm One Third of World’s People

Global Research, December 05, 2019
Workers World 3 December 2019

The most insidious and pervasive form of modern warfare by Wall Street and the Pentagon, acting in coordination, is passing largely unnoticed and unchallenged. This calculated attack is rolling back decades of progress in health care, sanitation, housing, essential infrastructure and industrial development all around the world.

Almost every developing country attempting any level of social programs for its population is being targeted.

U.S. imperialism and its junior partners have refined economic strangulation into a devastating weapon. Sanctions in the hands of the dominant military and economic powers now cause more deaths than bombs or guns. This weapon is stunting the growth of millions of youth and driving desperate migrations, dislocating tens of millions.

‘A crime against humanity’

Sanctions and economic blockades against Venezuela, Cuba and Iran are well known. But the devastating impacts of U.S. sanctions on occupied Palestine — or on already impoverished countries such as Mali, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Kyrgyzstan, Fiji, Nicaragua and Laos — are not even on the radar screen of human rights groups.

Most sanctions are intentionally hidden; they don’t generate even a line of news. Some sanctions are quickly passed after a sudden news article about an alleged atrocity. The civilians who will suffer have nothing to do with whatever crime the corporate media use as an excuse. What are never mentioned are the economic or political concessions the U.S. government or corporations are seeking.

Sanctions cannot be posed as an alternative to war. They are in fact the most brutal form of warfare, deliberately targeting the most defenseless civilians — youth, the elderly, sick and disabled people. In a period of human history when hunger and disease are scientifically solvable, depriving hundreds of millions from getting basic necessities is a crime against humanity.

International law and conventions, including the Geneva and Nuremberg Conventions, United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, explicitly prohibit the targeting of defenseless civilians, especially in times of war.

Sanctions draw condemnation

Modern industrial society is built on a fragile web of essential technology. If pumps and sewage lines, elevators and generators can’t function due to lack of simple spare parts, entire cities can be overwhelmed by swamps. If farmers are denied seed, fertilizer, field equipment and storage facilities, and if food, medicine and essential equipment are deliberately denied, an entire country is at risk.

The Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada, spoke to the XVIII Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 26. Addressing the 120 countries represented, he denounced the imposition of arbitrary measures, called “sanctions” by the U.S., as “economic terrorism which affects a third of humanity with more than 8,000 measures in 39 countries.”

This terrorism, he said, constitutes a “threat to the entire system of international relations and is the greatest violation of human rights in the world.” (tinyurl.com/uwlm99r)

The Group of 77 and China, an international body based at the U.N. and representing 134 developing countries, called upon “the international community to condemn and reject the imposition of the use of such measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries.”

The Group explained:

“The criminal, anti-human policy of targeting defenseless populations, which is in clear violation of United Nations Charter and international law, has now become the new weapon of choice for these powerful states since they are faced with strong opposition from the majority of their own population to the endless wars of occupation that they are already involved in.”

The power of banks

The mechanism and the ability of one country or one vote to destroy a country on the other side of the world are not well understood.

International capital uses the dollar system. All international transactions go through U.S. banks. These banks are in a position to block money transfers for the smallest transaction and to confiscate billions of dollars held by targeted governments and individuals. They are also in a position to demand that every other bank accept sudden restrictions imposed from Washington or face sanctions themselves.

This is similar to how the U.S. Navy can claim the authority to intercept ships and interrupt trade anywhere, or the U.S. Army can target people with drones and invade countries without even asking for a declaration of war.

Sometimes a corporate media outlet, a U.S.-funded “human rights” group or a financial institution issues charges, often unsubstantiated, of human rights violations, or political repression, drug trafficking, terrorist funding, money laundering, cyber-security infractions, corruption or non-compliance with an international financial institution. These charges become the opening wedge for a demand for sanctions as punishment.

Sanctions can be imposed through a U.S. Congressional resolution or Presidential declaration or be authorized by a U.S. government agency, such as the departments of the Treasury, Commerce, State or Defense. The U.S. might apply pressure to get support from the European Union, the U.N. Security Council or one of countless U.S.-established regional security organizations, such as the Organization of American States.

A U.S. corporate body that wants a more favorable trade deal is able to influence numerous agencies or politicians to act on its behalf. Deep-state secret agencies, military contractors, nongovernmental organizations funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, and numerous corporate-funded foundations maneuver to create economic dislocation and pressure resource-rich countries.

Even sanctions that appear mild and limited can have a devastating impact. U.S. officials will claim that some sanctions are only military sanctions, needed to block weapons sales. But under the category of possible “dual use,” the bans include chlorine needed to purify water, pesticides, fertilizers, medical equipment, simple batteries and spare parts of any kind.

Another subterfuge is sanctions that supposedly apply only to government officials or specific agencies. But in fact any and every transaction they carry out can be blocked while endless inquiries are held. Anonymous bank officials can freeze all transactions in progress and scrutinize all accounts a country holds. Any form of sanctions, even against individuals, raises the cost and risk level for credit and loans.

There are more than 6,300 names on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List of individuals sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the U.S. Treasury Department.

The OFAC describes its role this way:

“OFAC administers a number of different sanctions programs. The sanctions can be either comprehensive or selective, using the blocking of assets and trade restrictions to accomplish foreign policy and national security goals.”

There is also a Financial Action Task Force list and an International Traffic in Arms Regulations list.

The sanctions weapon has become so extensive that there is now a whole body of law to guide U.S. corporations and banks in navigating sales, credit and loans. It is intended to be opaque, murky and open to interpretation, payoffs and subterfuge. There seems to be no single online site that lists all the different countries and individuals under U.S. sanctions.

Once a country is sanctioned, it must then “negotiate” with various U.S. agencies that demand austerity measures, elections that meet Western approval, cuts in social programs, and other political and economic concessions to get sanctions lifted.

Sanctions are an essential part of U.S. regime change operations, designed in the most cynical way to exact maximum human cost. Sudden hyperinflation, economic disruption and unexpected shortages are then hypocritically blamed on the government in office in the sanctioned country. Officials are labeled inept or corrupt.

Agencies carefully monitor the internal crisis they are creating to determine the optimum time to impose regime change or manufacture a color revolution. The State Department and U.S. covert agencies fund numerous NGOs and social organizations that instigate dissent. These tactics have been used in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran, Syria, Libya, Zimbabwe, Sudan and many other countries.

A weapon of imperialism in decline

Gone are the days of Marshall Plan-type promises of rebuilding, trade, loans and infrastructure development. They are not even offered in this period of capitalist decay. The sanctions weapon is now such a pervasive instrument that hardly a week goes by without new sanctions, even on past allies.

In October the U.S. threatened harsh sanctions on Turkey, a 70-year member of the U.S.-commanded NATO military alliance.

On Nov. 27, Trump suddenly announced, by presidential decree, harsher sanctions on Nicaragua, calling it a “National Security Threat.” He also declared Mexico a “terrorist” threat and refused to rule out military intervention. Both countries have democratically elected governments.

Other sanctions sail through the U.S. Congress without a roll call vote — just a cheer and a unanimous voice vote, such as the sanctions on Hong Kong in support of U.S.-funded protests.

Why Wall Street can’t be sanctioned 

Is there any possibility that the U.S. could be sanctioned for its endless wars under the same provisions by which it has asserted the right to wreak havoc on other countries?

The Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, in November 2017 asked the Hague-based ICC to open formal investigations of war crimes committed by the Taliban, the Haqqani network, Afghan forces, and the U.S. military and the CIA.

The very idea of the U.S. being charged with war crimes led then White House National Security Advisor John Bolton to threaten judges and other ICC officials with arrest and sanction if they even considered any charge against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

“If the court comes after us, Israel or other U.S. allies, we will not sit quietly,” Bolton said. He noted that the U.S. “is prepared to slap financial sanctions and criminal charges on officials of the court if they proceed against any U.S. personnel. … We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. … We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.” (The Guardian, Sept. 10, 2018)

Bolton also cited a recent move by Palestinian leaders to have Israeli officials prosecuted at the ICC for human rights violations. The ICC judges got the message. They ruled that despite “a reasonable basis” to consider war crimes committed in Afghanistan, there was little chance of a successful prosecution. An investigation “would not serve the interests of justice.”

Chief Prosecutor Bensouda, for proposing an even-handed inquiry, had her U.S. visa revoked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Sanctions are a weapon in the capitalist world order used by the most powerful countries against those that are weaker and developing. One hundred years ago, in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson advocated sanctions as a quiet but lethal weapon that exerts pressure no nation in the modernworld can withstand.

Sanctions demonstrate how capitalist laws protect the right of eight multibillionaires to own more than the population of half the world.

U.N. sanctions demanded by Washington

The U.S., with the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet and 800 military bases, claims — while engaged in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya — that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran are the greatest threats to world peace.

In the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. succeeded in winning harsh new sanctions against Iran and the DPRK by threatening, on the eve of “war games,” that the U.S. would escalate hostilities to an open military attack.

This threat proved sufficient to get other Security Council members to fall in line and either vote for sanctions or abstain.

These strong-arm tactics have succeeded again and again. During the Korean War, when the U.S. military was saturation-bombing Korea, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Warren Austin held up a submachine gun in the Security Council to demand expanded authority in the war from that body.

Throughout the 1990s the U.S. government used sanctions on Iraq as a horrendous social experiment to calculate how to drastically lower caloric intake, destroy crop output and ruin water purification. The impact of these sanctions were widely publicized — as a threat to other countries.

Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, when asked about the half a million children who died as a result of U.S. sanctions on Iraq, replied, “We think the price is worth it.”

The sanctions imposed by the U.S. against Iran are book-length, spanning 40 years since the Iranian Revolution. The blockade and sanctions on Cuba have continued for 60 years.

Sanctions Kill campaign

It is an enormous political challenge to break the media silence and expose this crime. We need to put a human face on the suffering.

Targeted countries cannot be left to struggle by themselves in isolation  — there must be full solidarity with their efforts. The sheer number of countries being starved into compliance via U.S.-imposed sanctions must be dragged into the light of day. And one step in challenging the injustice of capitalist property relations is to attack the criminal role of the banks.

The effort to rally world opinion against sanctions as a war crime is beginning with a call for International Days of Action Against Sanctions & Economic War on March 13-15, 2020. Its slogans are “Sanctions Kill! Sanctions Are War! End Sanctions Now!”

These coordinated international demonstrations are a crucial first step. Research and testimony; resolutions by unions, student groups, cultural workers and community organizations; social media campaigns; and bringing medical supplies and international relief to sanctioned countries can all play a role. Every kind of political campaign to expose the international crime of sanctions is a crucial contribution.

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“IF YOU LIKED WHAT WE DID TO THE MIDDLE EAST, YOU’LL LOVE WHAT WE’RE ABOUT TO DO TO LATIN AMERICA”

“If You Liked What We Did To The Middle East, You’ll LOVE What We’re About To Do To Latin America”

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

Latin America in the Crosshairs

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

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

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

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

From the Shores of Tripoli to the Halls of Montezuma?

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

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

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

Good-bye NAFTA, Hello USMC!

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

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

 The Ghost of Che

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

US ‘Regime Changes’: The Historical Record

Global Research, November 29, 2019

First published on February 5, 2019

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

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

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

Venezuela: Results and Perspectives 1950-2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regime Change in Regional-Historical Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contradictory Puppet-Building

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morales 20060113 02.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Venezuela Offers to Pay Companies in Yuan as Workaround to US Sanctions – Report

 A sculpture is seen outside a building of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA in Caracas, Venezuela June 14, 2016

Hyperinflation and severe pressure from the United States have complicated the use of bolivars and dollars for the Venezuelan government and affiliated entities.

Venezuela’s authorities and the state-run oil and gas giant, PDVSA, are considering paying to suppliers and contracts using the Chinese currency, Reuters reports, citing government officials and sources from private companies.

The Caracas government is said to have offered at least four companies working with the public sector the chance to make transactions in yuan to their accounts in China.

The companies that have been approached are not identified, but are understood to be looking into the proposals.

Venezuelan authorities have normally paid private entities in the local currency, the bolivar, or in US dollars. However, the bolivar has lost over 99 percent of its value in the past years, while increasingly severe US sanctions have effectively cut Nicolas Maduro’s administration from the American financial system.

Those sanctions, imposed on the Venezuelan government, the central bank and PDVSA, were aimed to force Maduro out of power, but he has proved resilient to US pressure.

According to Reuters, PDVSA and the central bank have long had accounts in China; the latter, for instance, is said to have at least $700 million there due to lucrative oil shipments.

“Paying suppliers in yuan would allow Venezuela to take advantage of the funds it has available in China, without touching the US financial system,” the report says. “However, two of the sources said the process of opening accounts at Chinese banks was proving complicated.”

Speculation emerged over the summer that Venezuelan public entities, including PDSVA and the Social Security Institute, which supervises all social insurance programmes, have started paying suppliers and contractors in euros.

The central bank, meanwhile, was also reported to have started receiving euros in cash this year for the sale of some of its gold reserves.

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

The Saker

Dear friends,

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

And yet.

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

Venceremos!

The Saker

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

A few short comments about the Fascist coup in Bolivia

November 12, 2019

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These are the folks who just came to power:

They are all members of some kind of Fascist “Christian” cult.

This is what these folks did with those who dare oppose them:

Trump loves this.  He called it a

significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere” and then he proceeded to threaten two more Latin American states by saying “these events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail. We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere”.

Old Uncle Shmuel is still hard at work

In fact, he has a very good point.  What this latest coup signals to all patriotic Latin Americans who want to see their continent free from US oppression is this: if you want to openly defy the diktats of the Empire, make absolutely sure the commanders of your armed forces are loyal to you.  Furthermore, you should never forget that the most powerful weapon of the Empire is not its bloated and mostly clueless military force, but its ability to use corruption to obtain by the printing press what they cannot seize by brute force.

So far, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua have been successful in their resistance against Uncle Shmuel.  Likewise, there seems to be an internal (and covert) “hidden patriotic opposition” inside the Brazilian military (at least according to my Brazilian contacts) which might limit the damage done by the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff and the coup against Lula da Silva (for example, the Brazilian military has declared that they will not allow Brazil or Brazilian forces to be used in an attack against Venezuela).

Finally, the absolutely shameful behavior of many Latin American countries whose comprador elites are trying to catch up with Poland as the most abjectly subservient voluntary slaves of the Empire.  These countries all know that both Maduro in Venezuela or Morales in Bolivia were honestly elected and that all the rumors about a stolen election are nothing more than crude lies.  In sharp contrast, the so-called “US allies” in the region are all spineless prostitutes who are in power solely because of the support of the AngloZionist Empire.

In 1971 an Uruguayan journalist named Eduardo Galeano wrote a seminal book entitled “Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina” which was eventually translated into English under the title “The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent“.  This extremely famous book (at least in Latin America) is as actual in 2019 as it was almost half a century ago: the veins of Latin America are still bleeding and the folks doing the bloodletting have not changed one bit.

The only good news so far is that the US-backed regimes in Latin America are all facing various levels of protests and dissatisfaction which might lead to popular protests which could eventually remove the comprador elites once again, but this time around the leaders of the resistance need to truly understand that winning a popular vote is simply not enough: every time a truly patriotic regime comes to power, the US eventually is successful in using its agents in the ruling classes in general and especially in the armed forces to overthrow the popularly elected leaders.

Hugo Chavez made many mistakes, but that he got right, and that is why the US has not been able, at least so far, to trigger a color revolution in Venezuela.  Well, they tried and failed.  As for Cuba, it has resisted the combined might of the US Empire for many decades, so they also know something crucial.

Over the past decades the “front lines” between sovereign and free Latin American countries and US puppets has moved many times, and both sides felt at times victorious and at times despondent.

And yes, the coup against Morales is a HUGE blow to the resistance to the Empire.  The man was much more than just a leftist patriot, he was a moral symbol of hope for the entire continent.  Now that he is gone, a lot of Latin Americans will be as disgusted and sad as I am today.

I take some solace in Mexico’s decision to give Morales political asylum. I don’t know enough about Mexico to speculate on the motives of the Mexican President, but now that Morales is safe he can always relocate to another country if needed.

Should Morales ever come back to power, his first priority ought to be a profound purge of the military and the replacement of “School of the Americas” types with real patriots.  Doing this will not be a sufficient condition for success, but it will be a required one nonetheless.

The Saker

Media Yells “Cut!” When Trump Forgets His Lines and Says Something Anti-War

Trump Media Feature photo

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When it comes to substantive issues thatthe elite all agree on (such as foreign policy), there is little to no pushback against the president, excepting when he utters statements that are read as critical of war and militarism.

Trump has greatly expanded the U.S. role in the Middle East, announcing his intention to supply Saudi Arabia with over $100 billion in new arms and reversing previous decisions stopping the sale of laser-guided bombs that have reduced Yemen to rubble. He also vetoed a bipartisan resolution aimed at ending the U.S. role in a near genocide that threatens to kill nearly 24 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations. Trump also made the decision to drop the MOAB — the Mother of All Bombs, the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used — on Afghanistan in 2017 (to applause from the media).

He also continuously threatens enemy states with nuclear annihilation (in gross violation of the UN charter). In 2017 he told North Korea that he would “totally destroy” the country with “fire and fury” while earlier this year he promised Iran that he would bring about “the official end” if it crossed America’s path.

Trump has also conducted a worldwide campaign of economic war against the U.S.’ official enemies, increasing devastating sanctions against the people of Russia, North Korea, Iran, and Nicaragua. And Trump’s sanctions against Venezuela have killed at least 40,000 people since 2017, according to a report from the Washington-based Center for Economic Policy Research. The United Nations notes that the sanctions are designed to hit the poor and most vulnerable, with an (American) Special Rapporteur who visited the country likening them to a medieval siege and describing them as a “crime against humanity”.

While many portrayed Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, as the real architect of the violence, the president revealed that Bolton was actually a moderating voice on Cuba and Venezuela, while he [Trump] favored even more direct action.

 

An anti-war war hawk?

That is why Trump’s recent statements on the Middle East were all the more surprising. Defending his surprise decision to withdraw from fighting in Syria, he argued that the U.S. “should never have been in the Middle East in the first place,” claiming “The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!”

But the president went even further, offering a serious analysis of the costs of America’s overseas operations. “The United States has spent eight trillion dollars” on war in the region, he declared on Twitter; “Going into the Middle East is the worst decision ever made in the history of our country. We went to war under a false & now disproven premise, weapons of mass destruction. There were none!”

What was most shocking of all in this uncharacteristic bout of honesty was that Trump discussed the human cost of war, something rarely mentioned in corporate media. “Thousands of our Great Soldiers have died or been badly wounded. Millions of people have died on the other side,” he added.

His comments elicited a storm of outrage on social media from the professional liberal “resistance,” apparently more angry that he said the quiet part loud than about the millions of dead people. Political satirist Jeremy Newberger claimed he had been brainwashed by Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and asked him “did you consider putting a big bow on Syria when you decided to gift it to Putin?” Meanwhile, former British Member of Parliament turned professional #Resistance grafter Louise Mensch slammed the president: “TRAITOR! The women of the YPG are DYING at your hands as YOU let ISIS take Raqqa! You SURRENDERED TO RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM!” she responded, in an eclectic mix of capitalized and non-capitalized words.

Liberal-skewing media was barely any slower in lining up shoulder to shoulder with traditional conservatives in opposing Trump’s anti-war intimations, giving pro-war criticisms of Trump from prominent Republicans like Lindsay Graham, Nikki Haley and Liz Cheney full coverage.

NPR, CNN and the New York Times all dedicated significant resources to reporting the condemnations of Trump’s tweets, the latter’s editorial board asking “Does Donald Trump [even] know what his Syria policy is?” The Washington Post claimed that Pentagon officials were “struggling” to explain Trump’s “abandonment of the Kurds and kowtowing to Turkey,” claiming national security aides were mobilizing to “repair the damage” Trump caused. An MSNBC segment headlined “Donald Trump betrays American allies” insinuated that Trump’s decision to pull away from Syria was due to his business deals in Turkey, reminding viewers of Trump Tower in Istanbul. Esquire Magazine claimed that his actions were something “only a twisted, compromised mind could concoct.”

NYTIMES Trump Syria

The New York Times dedicated significant resources to condemnations of Trump’s tweets

But it was The Hill that most accurately summed up the tone of the media. Pulling out of the Middle East is “impulsive, strategically vapid and morally obtuse” according to opinion contributor Will Marshall. On the topic of “endless wars” he said:

 It’s time to retire this mindless trope. U.S. forces aren’t engaged in the Middle East because Americans are addicted to war or the trappings of superpower status. They are fighting mainly to contain the very real threat of Islamist terrorism.”

Marshall continued to explain that it has been nearly 75 years since Japan surrendered, and the U.S. still has tens of thousands of troops occupying the country. This, for him, was a good thing, because they were there “to preempt threats to our homeland, deter aggression and protect America’s far-flung interests. Their mission is counterterrorism.” Thus, it seems that the liberal resistance to Trump is strongest when he begins to shift, however minutely, to a more anti-war position.

 

Our underfunded Military Industrial Complex

It was a similar story last year, when in December Trump took to Twitter to declare the $716 billion military budget he had previously approved “crazy,” fueling speculation that he might attempt to reduce the already enormous amount the U.S. spends on war — damn near as much as all other countries combined.

Then, as now, corporate media almost uniformly condemned the idea. The Washington Post described a reduction in military spending as “suicide,” claiming the U.S. is in the middle of a “full-blown national security crisis.” The crisis, according to its source, was that it could no longer be sure of victory in a war against Russia in the Baltic or against China in the South China Sea. Why it is crucial that the U.S. should be able to destroy other nuclear-armed countries on the other side of the world was not explained.

Other outlets followed suit. Forbes Magazine began its article with the words, “The security and well-being of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades.” Bloomberg recommended a consistent increase in military spending of three to five percent above inflation for five to ten years. The Wall Street Journal was even more blunt: “Don’t Cut Military Spending Mr. President,” its headline read.

The media’s deepest fears did not come to pass, however, as Trump committed to a massive increase to the military budget, up to $750 billion for this year, assuaging the media’s fears.

 

Liberals applauding war

In contrast, whenever Trump is at his most bellicose, media laud his bravery and leadership. Despite warning before his election that Trump was a dangerous fascist too erratic be allowed to control a nuclear arsenal, media overwhelmingly supported the president’s decision to bomb Syria, escalating a conflict that could have turned into a hot war with Russia. CNN host Fareed Zakaria was delighted by his decision: “I think Donald Trump became President of the United States last night,” he said on air.

Likewise, “resistance” media have given Trump considerable support in his attempt to force a coup in Venezuela, backing his puppet Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president. The New York Times claimed that Guaidó was “cheered on by thousands of supporters in the streets and a growing number of governments.” CNN (falsely) reported that there was a vast, popular movement behind him, as “Venezuelans took to the streets in nationwide protests.” CNBC did the same, noting there were “hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans” out on the streets, chanting together and waving national flags, demanding an end to Maduro’s “socialist government.” And all while downplaying or simply ignoring the catastrophic role U.S. sanctions are playing in the country.

For all the talk of an adversarial media standing up to an authoritarian like Trump, the reality is that the media have been selective about what to oppose him on. While they continue to mock him for his crude remarks or his mannerisms, when it comes to substantive issues that the elite all agree on (such as foreign policy), there is little to no pushback against the president, excepting when he utters statements that are read as critical of war and militarism. At that point media begin condemning him in unison, accidentally revealing their true agenda. To those who believe in an anti-interventionist foreign policy, the media’s resistance is useless.

Feature photo | President Donald Trump walks toward members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Oct. 10, 2019, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Andrew Harnik | AP

Alan MacLeod is a MintPress contributor as well as an academic and writer for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. His book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting was published in April.

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