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Netflix, Iran and the Documentary as Geopolitical Weapon

By Brian Mier | FAIR | January 21, 2020

Netflix: Nisman: The Prosecutor, the President and the Spy

Netflix‘s Nisman: The Prosecutor, the President and the Spy

Like The Mechanism before it, Netflix’s new series Nisman: The Prosecutor, the President and the Spy is an entertainment product that advances US interests through character assassination of a popular left-wing Latin American leader.

“Try saying this,” the director said:  “‘In the ’80s, Rio de Janeiro was a land of the haves and the have nots. I was a have not.’” In 2016, I was working as a fixer on an episode of a Netflix documentary crime series, and the main character was not cooperating with the script.

He was Afro-Brazilian, but he was not the stereotype they had imagined while preparing the story in England. He had never lived in a favela, was educated in elite private schools, and was an Army special forces captain before entering a life of crime. “In the ’80s,” he said, “Rio de Janeiro was a land of the haves and the have nots. I was a have.”

To the production team’s credit, after half an hour of trying to get him to say he was a “have not,” they changed the story to better fit what really happened. But this episode illustrates an important point that most casual viewers are unaware of: Nearly all documentaries are highly manipulated.

As I learned on the set of various TV documentaries, if an important character refuses to give an interview, their importance to the “narrative thread” of the documentary is minimized, and the script is adjusted accordingly. Characters are prone to get more airtime and scripts are likewise adjusted if they have expressive facial features, good eyebrow control and appear pretty, handsome or humorous on camera. All of this makes sense if the end product is entertainment, but what happens when the program involves real people in positions of power?

Furthermore, if documentarians regularly manipulate narratives and script dialogue for entertainment purposes, wouldn’t it be reasonable to think  that they may also do this to advance the geopolitical interests of the companies that hire them? The Capital Group, for example, is the largest investor in both Netflix and Shell, a corporation that has made  billions of dollars through petroleum privatizations by right-wing governments in South America. Could it be that it and the other big mutual funds that invest in both Netflix and the oil industry, such as Blackrock, use their power to influence content in a manner similar to how governments influence the TV and film industry in accord with their geopolitical interests?

Netflix: The Mechanism

Netflix‘s The Mechanism

During Brazil’s 2018 election year, Netflix launched a dramatic series called The Mechanism, which portrayed a thinly disguised character based on former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva—who in real life was leading all polls for a return to the presidency, with double the popularity of his nearest rival, the neofascist Jair Bolsonaro—as a criminal mastermind behind a multi-billion dollar corruption scheme. This led to a boycott drive in Brazil, international media attention, an apology by director José Padilha, and probably influenced Netflix’s purchase of transmission rights to Edge of Democracy, an Oscar-nominated documentary about the 2016 Brazilian parliamentary coup that was less biased against Lula’s center-left PT party.

On January 1, four days before the US assassinated Iranian General Soleimani, Netflix launched a six-part documentary series called Nisman: The Prosecutor, the President and the Spy, about the death of conservative prosecutor Alberto Nisman. He was found dead in his bathroom five days after accusing President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and four of her aides of treason, in connection to an alleged cover up of Iranian involvement in the 1994 AMIA Jewish cultural center bombings that killed 85 people.

The documentary makes it clear that the treason charges are frivolous. Treason can only take place, according to Argentinian law, during a time of war. Nisman accused Kirchner and her aides of covering up for Iran in exchange for a bilateral agreement between the two nations which was never ratified. Finally, as the documentary painstakingly shows, despite 20 years of joint investigations between the police, intelligence services, the FBI and the US Department of Justice, nobody has ever been able to provide any material evidence linking Iran to the bombing (FAIR.org, 11/3/15).

But this is what series director Justin Webster refers to as “cinematic non-fiction,” and the facts do not seem  as important as the tone and the mood. It spends a lot more time with the Prosecutor and the Spy characters than it does with former President Kirchner, who averages about one minute of airtime per episode.

Alberto Nisman

Alberto Nisman in Nisman

Nisman, coming to life through old footage and stories from friends and family, gets the lion’s share of attention. The week before his death, he appears nervous about having to defend his treason accusations in front of Congress, initially saying he will only appear to members of the sympathetic and conservative Republican Proposal party, and if there are no reporters. When he is told it will be a public hearing, he asks his friend, Congressmember Laura Alonso, to postpone it for a week.

The night before the hearing, his body is found in his bathroom, in what is initially ruled a suicide. As sad music plays in the background, Alonso talks about the dark mood that was sweeping over the country and her worries about her friend.

We are not told that Alonso is former Argentine director of Transparency International, the ostensibly “anti-corruption” NGO which is funded by the US and British governments, Exxon Mobil and Shell (Guardian, 5/22/08). We are not told that Alonso was the most vocal public critic of Kirchner’s nationalization of the petroleum industry, or that she directly benefited from the charges filed against Kirchner, assuming the position of Anti-Corruption Minister in the Mauricio Macri government. In the doc, she is just a concerned friend.

Jaime Stiuso

Nisman‘s Jaime Stiuso

According to Webster, the other two main characters in the series, the Spy and the President, are “Shakespearean.” The Spy is Antonio “Jaime” Stiuso, a 42-year veteran of Argentina’s State Intelligence Secretariat (SIDE) with close ties to the CIA and the Mossad. He was in the agency during the Argentine military junta’s Dirty War, when it participated in the notorious “disappearances”  of leftists, 30,000 of whom were machine-gunned down, or drugged and pushed out of airplanes into the South Atlantic. He was corrupt and dangerous but, like the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover, apparently too powerful to fire, until Cristina Kirchner did it in December 2014, one month before his partner Alberto Nisman filed treason charges against her.

In terms of entertainment value, Stiuso is a fantastic character, and he gets more airtime than any other living person in the documentary. With a boyish gleam in his eye and a quick, mysterious grin, he is the type of subject documentary-makers dream about, and is already showing himself to be a favorite of the critics—“charming and evasive,” according to Variety (9/23/19).

Cristina Kirchner

President Cristina Kirchner is not seen much in Nisman.

The third main character, President Kirchner,  in office from 2007–15, is a center-left politician who rejected Washington consensus economic policies in favor of Keynesian developmentalism, and reached out to Washington bete noires like Fidel Castro, Evo Morales and Hugo Chávez. She  set an example for leaders around the world by strengthening labor unions, initiating large minimum wage hikes and by renationalizing strategic companies that had been privatized during the disastrous IMF-imposed structural adjustment period of the 1990s, including the train system, the water system, the Aerolinas airline company and the YPF oil company. Her government was marked by high growth rates and innovative redistributive policies that reduced inequality. Consequently, she became extremely popular with the poor and working class.

After Nisman died, Alonso’s right-wing Republican Proposal party capitalized on the frivolous treason charges against Kirchner, spread conspiracy theories about his death and catapulted party leader Mauricio Macri to the presidency. Praised by Barack Obama and English-language corporate media, Macri used presidential decrees to immediately gut the public health and education systems, lay off tens of thousands of public sector workers, reestablish a relationship with the IMF and implement privatization.

As had happened during the IMF structural-adjustment period, poverty skyrocketed and widespread hunger led to food riots. As Macri’s popularity plummeted, fellow Nisman character Alberto Fernandez won the presidential election by 7 percentage points, with Cristina Kirchner as his VP; they took office on December 10, 2019. You would have no idea that any of this had happened by watching Nisman.

Cristina Kirchner is one of the most fascinating political characters of the 21st century, but all we see of her in Nisman are short speech fragments and soundbites, peppered with unflattering photos and ominous background music.

During her 50 seconds of airtime in episode 5, for example, she says, “This isn’t an issue that started here in Argentina, it is a political, judicial and communications matrix that extends throughout the entire region.” Kirchner is talking about “lawfare,” the weaponized use of legal tactics to destroy political enemies. This has indeed been applied to left and center-left politicians across Latin America, often with the support of the US Department of Justice, as happened to her friend and former Brazilian President Lula, who was arrested on frivolous charges with no material evidence in order to bar him from the 2018 presidential elections.

The frivolous treason accusation against her, also apparently prepared in partnership with the US DOJ, is another clear example of lawfare. Taking a small fragment of a speech on this subject out of context, however, makes her look like a paranoid conspiracy theorist. This is ironic to see in a six-part documentary that is entirely built upon two conspiracy theories which, as is shown in the series itself, do not have any material evidence to back them up.

This is not to say that the documentary is totally one-sided. Throughout, there are moments in which members of Kirchner’s party and journalists—all men—defend her. Importantly, however, Webster chose not to let her defend herself, despite the widespread availability of archival footage in which she does so eloquently.

Variety: Justin Webster Sheds Light on the Alberto Nisman Case in New Documentary Series

Audiences “may well come to a conclusion, one open to interpretation,
though it not for me to say,” director Justin Webster, Variety (9/23/19).

In  Variety (9/23/19), Webster says:

The rules with fiction and non-fiction are completely different in a sense of the relationship with the truth. A good non-fiction story is showing you “this much is true,” uncovering the details, the evidence…. It’s not like there is one version of the truth and another version of the truth, there is only one truth.

The problem is, a television director is not a judge or a prosecutor, and normally has little knowledge of the law. The proper venue for deciding whether the president of a foreign nation is guilty is a court of law, not a television channel controlled by corporate investors who have a vested interest in privatizations in the nation presided over by that president. In a court of law, defendants have the right to to defend themselves, normally through a final argument. In a documentary, the director can arbitrarily decide to limit someone they’re accusing of a crime to one minute of airtime per episode.

Given the long history of US-backed right-wing coups in Latin America, most recently in Argentina’s neighbor Bolivia, given the rising tensions between the US and Iran, and given the fact that neocon Foundation for Defense of Democracies vice president Toby Dershowitz, who appears in the documentary, began associating Fernandez and Kirchner with Iranian terrorists as soon as they took office last month, it would be reasonable to suspect that the US and its integral state allies in the corporate media are going to use this nonexistent Iran story from 1994 as justification for a coup attempt in Argentina in the near future.

Nisman is beautifully filmed and entertaining, and director Justin Webster does a good job uncovering the relationship between the FBI, CIA and Argentinian intelligence services. But the bottom line is that he casts suspicion on Cristina Kirchner even though he knows that there is no proof against her.

January 24, 2020 Posted by | Film Review | | Leave a comment

Bolivia: MAS Presidential Candidate Becomes Target of Lawfare

Luis Arce at a news conference after being announced as the Movement to Socialism's presidential candidate, in Buenos Aires, Argentina Jan. 20, 2020.

Luis Arce at a news conference after being announced as the Movement to Socialism’s presidential candidate, in Buenos Aires, Argentina Jan. 20, 2020. | Photo: Reuters
teleSUR | January 22, 2020

Bolivia’s Office of the Prosecutor expanded an investigation against Evo Morales’ former officials, among whom is Luis Arce, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) presidential candidate.

The announcement was made by prosecutor Heidi Gil one day after the MAS unveiled that Arce would be its presidential candidate in the upcoming elections in May.

The judicial process is related to the alleged diversion of public resources from the Indigenous Development Fund (Fondioc), a case in which former Presidency’s Minister Juan Ramon Quintana has also been mentioned.

“If the Prosecutor finds enough evidence during the extension of the investigation, they will be called to testify,” Gil said referring to Arce and Quintana.

The extension of the judicial investigation was requested by the current Fondioc director, Rafael Quispe, a well-known opponent of the Morales administration who was appointed to that position by the government of Jeanine Añez.

Since the coup d’etat consummated on November 10 in Bolivia, numerous MAS militants have been subject to judicial persecution.

In this regard, the MAS leader Evo Morales said that the current U.S.-backed de facto regime does not seek justice but “revenge and impunity.”

Former Minister of Economy Luis Arce is one of the intellectuals who designed the economic model that allowed Bolivia to keep high growth rates for more than a decade.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

January 22, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | Leave a comment

Bolivia: As Elections Near, US-Backed Interim Gov’t Mobilizes Military, Arrests Opposition Leaders

By Alan Macleod | MintPress News | January 20, 2020

Wednesday, January 22 marks the day that Jeanine Añez is set to stand down as “interim” President of Bolivia, beginning the process for fresh elections set for May 3. Añez came to power in November, following a U.S.-backed coup that deposed the Movement to Socialism’s (MAS) Evo Morales. However, she is certainly not acting as if she intends to relinquish her power, let alone move towards new elections. Instead, she has sent the military, replete with tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, into the capital cities of all nine departments of the country.

MintPress News’ Ollie Vargas was on the scene in the center of the capital La Paz, where he filmed hundreds of armed soldiers performing drills outside the Cathedral of St. Francis and dozens of military vehicles circling the city, sirens on and guns drawn.

“The purpose of that is to intimidate people ahead of possible protests against the coup on the 22nd of January… This was a show of force saying you are not going to be able to march where you want. The military is preparing for war-style operations if marchers do arrive in the city. It is about intimidating the people,” he said in an interview with TeleSUR English; “The point was to be a show of force, rather than itself be an act of repression. It was there to show what repression could come.”

The military played a leading role in the November coup, demanding Morales resign and handpicking Añez as his successor. The police, too, were crucial, rebelling against Morales and later repressing protests from the country’s indigenous majority, even conducting massacres in the towns of Sacaba and Senkata. “It seems like the police are following the instructions of the far-right in Bolivia,” said United Nations Special Rapporteur Alfred de Zayas. Last week, Añez rubber stamped a pay rise for the country’s police, bringing their salaries up to that of the military’s.

For an interim government, the Añez administration has certainly made some sweeping policy changes, both at home and abroad. Internally, it has begun a mass privatization program aimed at conducting a fire sale of the country’s considerable natural resources. Since November it has been at war with the press, launching a crackdown on all media hostile to it, closing down multiple TV stations, with critical journalists disappearing or being found dead in suspicious circumstances. It has also set up new SWAT-like secret police battalions aimed at suppressing what is calls subversive voices, both domestic and foreign.

Añez has completely reoriented the country’s foreign policy, pulling out of multiple international and intercontinental organizations, expelling thousands of foreign nationals, recognizing Israel and inviting the Israeli Defense Forces to train the Bolivian security services and closing its own anti-imperialist military school.

It has also moved far closer to the United States than previously, recognizing U.S.-backed figure Juan Guaidó as the legitimate head of state of Venezuela. Earlier this month, a team from the U.S.-funded group USAID arrived in the country to advise the government on how to best conduct the upcoming election. Given the U.S.’ history in overthrowing heads of state across Latin America, the news has not been greeted with pleasure by all. Thus, while many inside the country have voiced their concern over the suspension of democracy, no one is accusing the new government of being lazy or unambitious.

MAS candidates forced to organize abroad

Under very difficult circumstances, the MAS party yesterday announced that its candidates for the May elections will be a ticket of Luis Arce Catacora for president and David Choquehuanca for vice-president. MAS leaders met in neighboring Argentina due to the repression in their own country. The location meant that a number of key figures accused of crimes by the new administration, including up-and-coming star Andrónico Rodríguez, could not attend. Arce, 58, Western-educated and middle-class, was Minister of Finance under Morales in an era when Bolivia generated high and sustained economic growth. Many see him as far from radical. His running mate is David Choquehuanca, an indigenous activist from a peasant background. He was Morales’ longtime Foreign Minister and was also secretary of ALBA, an intercontinental organization Añez has recently pulled the country out of. He is commonly seen as the driving force behind Bolivia’s anti-imperialist foreign policy, currently being dismantled by the coup government. Some will be disappointed that Andrónico Rodríguez, a charismatic indigenous 30-year-old union organizer groomed by Morales for a leadership position, was not chosen.

Whether those candidates will, until May, be able to remain in their positions – or even out of prison – is an open question. Many MAS officials, including President Morales and Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera, have been forced to flee the country or face arrest. Another MAS leader, Walter Ferrufino was arrested this weekend as he was traveling to Argentina for the meeting.

In the October election, Morales and the MAS gained 47 percent of the vote in the first round, enough to secure an overall victory. In contrast, Añez’s party, the Democrat Social Movement, received four percent. While all sides continue to behave as if a vote will take place in May, the absurdity of holding an election under the circumstances of a military takeover, where by far the most popular party is being repressed, means that there is a very real possibility the proceedings end up lacking credibility.

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | 1 Comment

Attempts to Remove Morales’ Memory from Bolivia Will Likely Reinvigorate an Anti-Imperialist Struggle

By Paul Antonopoulos | January 20, 2020

Last Wednesday, the coup government of Bolivia launched a massive military operation claiming to be a pre-emptive strike against the expected violence to occur this Wednesday during Plurinational State Foundation Day celebrations that memorializes the change in the name of the country and the adoption of a new constitution in 2009 under the Presidency of Evo Morales. Heavily armed military personnel on the streets, arrest warrants and the denouncements of deputies who are intimidated by violent groups has just continued under the U.S.-backed coup government in La Paz.

The increased militarization has occurred despite violence, vandalism and looting decreasing since November when Morales was driven out of Bolivia. However, the fear continues and justice has been politicized to such a degree that the coup government has itself reported that there are more than 64,000 judicial proceedings in progress against former authorities and officials associated with Morales’ administration – all leading up to the elections on May 3.

However, the dilemma for the putschists is a fear that Morales’ Movement to Socialism (MAS) Party may win. Morales has refused to legitimize the current leader of Bolivia, Jeanine Añez, further complicating the upcoming elections. It is for this reason, with the huge popularity of Morales remaining, that the coup government fears what might occur on Wednesday, which is not only a Morales-era public holiday, but also the date on which the constitutional mandate of the Executive and Legislative powers ends. Even if the parliament decides to ratify the extension of the mandate by the Constitutional Court, the frustrations of the people might explode.

This comes as the Bolivian people were reinvigorated with Morales stating “If between now and in a little while… I were to return [to Bolivia] or someone else goes back, we must organize as in Venezuela, armed militias of the people,” referring to Bolivarian people’s militias organized by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. However, this could be a dangerous statement that could serve to justify further repression and the militarization of Bolivia.

Evo Morales then went to Twitter to say “Peace, reconciliation and unity in Bolivia they will only be achieved by restoring the rule of law, eliminating motorcycle groups and fighting, ultimately, against inequality, discrimination and poverty.”

It is this very symbol of Bolivian sovereignty and independence that Añez has prioritized the removal of statues and images of Morales from the public sphere. However, it is very unlikely that this would be enough to remove the memory of Morales that Bolivians have for the country’s first indigenous president. Bolivian people know the removal of references to Morales publicly will not erase his achievements from their memory.

With Bolivia being mired by a political crisis for months that still has no solution, the next few days before the anniversary of the founding of the Plurinational State on January 22 has put the government on top military alert, which now realizes that it cannot erase a country’s history at a stroke or deny its identity. However, Añez has decided to silence those voices as she cannot dissuade them by deploying the army and police to the streets.

The little widespread popularity that the coup government has will continue to decline, especially after the visit of Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the United States National Security Council’s Western Hemisphere Affairs directorate, Mauricio Claver-Carone, to Bolivia who reiterated his support for Añez on behalf of Trump. Claver-Carone and Añez talked about Trump’s priorities in this so-called transitional period. In the regional domain scheme, Trump cannot let the Andean country escape from his hands, which is why it is likely that he pushed Añez to rename the anti-imperialist school that Morales created in the Armed Forces of Bolivia in 2016, which was renamed on Friday to Heroes of Ñancahuazu – after the Bolivian military unit that killed revolutionary figure Ernesto “Che” Guevara in 1967, according to TeleSUR. This was of course part of a wider effort to destroy the memory of Morales in Bolivia.

The arrival of Áñez to power, by a coup d’etat in November, gave a twist to Bolivia’s international policy, which during the almost 14 years of Morales’ administration had assumed an “anti-imperialist” position, including the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador and the U.S. anti-drug (DEA) and ending cooperation  with (USAID) agencies. Claver-Carome’s visit certainly improved several steps of rapprochement between La Paz and Washington after the fall of Morales in November.

Although Claver-Carome said that his visit sought to deepen the links between the two countries, of which he said they had the same democratic interests and values, the attempts to destroy the memory of Morales is likely to backfire and create a renewed vigor for support behind the MAS. It is for this reason that Áñez must consider scaling down the violence and persecution against Morales’ supporters, especially as Wednesday will be a highly charged and emotive day, in which Morales supporters view the resistance to her putschist government as part of an anti-imperialist struggle.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

One More Social Leader Killed In Colombia, 21 So Far in 2020

Social leaders in Colombia are under threat since the peace agreement of 2016.

Social leaders in Colombia are under threat since the peace agreement of 2016. | Photo: EFE
teleSUR | January 19, 2020

The Cordobexia Social Foundation denounced Saturday the assassination of social leader Luis Dario Rodriguez, the second activist killed in the northwestern department of Cordoba this week and the 21st so far in Colombia this year.

According to the statement released by the foundation, the social leader was murdered on Friday afternoon as he was returning home from a fishing trip in the municipality of Tierralta.

“He was shot by men on a motorcycle,” denounced the Cordobexia Social Foundation, as well as calling on the national government to protect and guarantee the exercise of human rights in Colombia.

Rodriguez was a member of the Association of Displaced and Vulnerable Families of Tierralta and of the human rights network of southern Cordoba. Also a father of three children and dedicated himself to fishing and agriculture.

His activism consisted of speeding up land claim processes after the flooding of the Alto Sinúu lands by the URRA 1 hydroelectric plant.

Less than a week ago, social leaders, Jorge Luis Betancourt and Tulio Sandoval were also murdered in their respective municipalities.

Betancourt also from Cordoba was killed in the municipality of Montelibanom and was a farmer’s rights activist.

While, Sandoval, who was participating in the crop substitution program, was killed by armed individuals who broke into his house, dragged him out and shot him repeatedly in front of his family.

In this context, Attorney General Fernando Carrillo recently called for an end to what he described as “the systematic murder of social leaders.”

Since the peace agreement signing, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Peace in Colombia has counted more than 300 murders of human rights leaders.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 1 Comment

‘Likely Linked to the Russian State’: US Looks for Almighty Hand of Moscow in Latin America – Report

Sputnik – January 20, 2020

US experts are again claiming that Russian social media campaigns have disrupted US elections, sowed anti-Western sentiment in Africa, and “inspired China and Iran to adopt similar tactics against protesters and political adversaries”, the New York Times alleges, attempting to highlight the purported global influence of Moscow.

The New York Times on Sunday alleged, citing analysts from the US Department of State, that Russia’s online influence campaigns in Latin America have been active for a long time.

In particular, the analyses suggested that Twitter accounts “likely linked to the Russian state” produced a number of posts during the 2019 unrest in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Chile, according to the media report.

State Department experts concluded that this short-term spike of activity is “likely linked” to social media accounts and could be regarded as evidence of a powerful disinformation campaign, The New York Times said.

According to State Department officials cited by The New York Times, purported Russian efforts in Latin America “appear aimed at stirring dissent in states that have demanded the resignation of President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela”.

“We are noting a thumb on the scales […] It has made the normal dispute resolutions of a democratic society more contentious and more difficult”, said the deputy assistant secretary of state, Kevin O’Reilly, cited by The New York Times.

The report, cited by the US-based media outlet, concludes that the surge in unrest in Latin America in 2019 cannot be attributed to any one particular factor, leaving an alleged Russian-linked influence campaign in question.

As an example of their findings, experts allege that RT Espanol and Sputnik Mundo have been a primary source of information for Russian-linked Twitter accounts. Another supposed pattern “spotted” by American analysts suggests that certain Twitter accounts posted in Spanish and English were targeting the Chilean public and foreign audiences last autumn, according to The New York Times.

Chilean authorities have also reportedly made their own findings, suggesting that one-third of all social media posts during the nationwide unrest in 2019 were disseminated from abroad. Chileans have, however, questioned the document as the posted figures fail to show reliable evidence that a foreign power played a role.

Despite US claims that State Department experts reportedly used sophisticated computer-generated data-mining analyses to support their conclusions, the Moscow-blaming campaign remains precarious for want of hard evidence.

According to The New York Times, citing State Department data, a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #chile – popular among the allegedly Russian-linked accounts in October 2019 during the peak of the unrest in the Latin American nation – failed to gain even the bottom position in the regional top 100.

Russia has been constantly blamed for waging influence and meddling campaigns throughout the world, in particular in the US, the EU, as well as some Africa and Latin American countries. Moscow has repeatedly denied all the accusations, highlighting that no proof has been ever furnished.

On Friday, Acting Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chad Wolf accused Russia of pursuing tactics that include actions “that disrupt and undermine the American way of life”, saying that the US is expecting “Russia to attempt to interfere in the 2020 elections to sow public discord and undermine our democratic institutions”.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

The ‘Lying’ Mainstream Press and Media in Canada

Part one

By Robin Mathews | American Herald Tribune | January 18, 2020

More and more… reasonably informed Canadians believe ‘the Main Stream Press and Media’ constitutes a ‘lie factory’, a ‘manipulator of public response’ in the service of real power in the country. Canada’s MSPM, that is, exists to help ‘the Deep State’. To help the Corporatocracy. To help the Imperial Master. To help the people Stephen Harper’s group governed for … and the same people the Justin Trudeau group governs for with, perhaps, a little more ‘panache’… and cover-up.

Stark proof of Canadians’ dark and suspicious belief about the MSPM was provided in the first election Justin Trudeau won … and after. The Globe and Mail beat the drums to keep the corrupt Conservative Party of Stephen Harper in power … fighting up to the last hour. And … now … that one of Harper’s worst, rabbit-skinned hatchet-men, makers of ugly, anti-democracy legislation is running for leader, you may be sure no one in the Mainstream Press and Media (MSPM) will review his ugly past doings. Not even Andrew Coyne, star commentator for the Globe and Mail who – in a large recent advertisement tells readers “I can just write what I really think”.

What Canadians face with the likes of Andrew Coyne … and all the rest, I allege … is not only (as we will see) ‘fudging’ of stories to protect the Corporate Rich, but outright failure to surface and deal with “facts”, “news”, “information” Canadians have a right to have (and need to have) in order to act positively for the country.

How is it (for instance) that (unreported/uncommented upon) Canadian publishing that flowered in the post 1968 period to become a major economic and cultural activity (as it should be) in Canada ….  is now DESTROYED, without as much as a mournful sigh from the (sold out) representatives of the MSPM, let alone full dress reporting to Canadians of the facts.

Today, fewer than 5% of non-fiction books that Canadians buy are produced by Canadian publishers! Canada’s whole book trade is – for all intents and purposes – a branch activity of foreign (mostly Imperial U.S.) publishers.  “We will tell Canadians what they may read.” (and who will profit from it.) Think about that ….  (Where is Andrew Coyne?)

WHY, for instance, is there no genuinely fact-informed argument for Canada to get out of NATO.  NATO is an arm of U.S. Imperial Policy: period. Why… in addition … do we hear nothing – ever – about Canada’s despicable and repressive role (over decades) in Haiti? Silence. Why does no reasonably intelligent and informed commentator cut through the wholesale truckload of lies about the voracious, calculated, perverse U.S. assault on Venezuela [and any other Central and South American country that seeks real democracy and independence]. And especially … why is there no attack on Canada’s sad and shameful backing of the U.S. in every vicious act against those countries? Why does no “mainstream” Canadian newsdealer ever even mention that the extermination of Palestinians is being pursued … a slow and steady program is being pursued…?

Andrew Coyne writes (“what (he) really thinks”) – a column in support of NATO, (Jan 11, 2020, p.02) ringing all the False Bells, accepting U.S. hegemony, liking it, taking for granted an unbrokenly divided world. He chooses, of course, to forget the ‘non U.N.- approved’ murderous “NATO” actions in the old Yugoslavia; to forget Canada’s shameful part in the wholesale murder and relentless destruction of the country with the highest standard of living in Africa, Libya … in the erasure and gruesome murder of the leader of that country moving his people to decent life. Twelve hundred Libyan students were studying in Canada when Muammar Gaddafi was murdered … to the public gloating joy of Hilary Clinton and (may we assume?) Andrew Coyne …?

Why is there never news about the failure of the Bank of Canada to restore its special lending powers to make possible necessary infrastructure, low-cost housing, hospital and educational building … and more? That policy paid for the Second World War, the building, after it, in Canada … and much more… without significant debt! ! It was trashed by Pierre Elliot Trudeau in 1974 at the instancing of the Bank of International Settlements. (For the meaning of that name read: the U.S. hegemony over all Western nations/NATO nations after the 1944 meetings to lay out power distribution in the after-war-world, held at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.)

Why is there almost never informed, inclusive, critical comment about ANY of the shared (or unshared) Defence, Policing, Private Corporation Activities, Environmental Actions, Foreign Aid, and Military Hardware sales where Canada and the U.S.A. impinge on one another  Canadians are kept almost completely ignorant of major matters concerning … Canada.

Especially … why are Canadians kept in the dark (purposefully) about the gigantic subject of large Canadian corporations acting abroad … and, indeed, about any profit-seeking activity … whether the Pirate-Looting by cell-phone-plus suppliers in Canada or the untenable treatment of workers and the bribery of corrupt others in foreign locations around the globe…?  Where is the MSPM??

Andrew Coyne writes about a foreign-acting Canadian corporation, SNC Lavelin (Dec. 21, 2019, p. 02,”SNC’s GUILTY PLEA…”) on tip-toe (so-to-speak), missing, many would say, the point absolutely.  But why not? As he says in the his big ad: “I can just write what I really think….” Or, perhaps, it would be better to say “I can just write what the wealthy owners of my job really think….”

We will look at Andrew Coyne’s efforts to “think” (in Part Two of The Lying Mainstream Press and Media in Canada) and see if we can show the strange, guileful, warm, charming, slippery, open-hearted process of completely misleading Canadians … by its Mainstream Press and Media (which includes the Castrated Broadcasting Corporation).

Before leaving Part One… think about the fact that the Castrated Broadcasting Corporation NEVER touches Palestinian Extermination; Haiti; Sell-out of Canadian publishing; “the NATO Question”; the “takeover” (by the Bank of International Settlements) of the Bank of Canada; Canada’s shameful me-too foreign policy in the suppression and devastation by the U.S.A. of Central and South American countries and people; or the behaviour of Canadian Corporations overseas …. Think about … that… and add your own contribution to the list of endless failures “achieved” by Canada’s Mainstream Press and Media.

January 18, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

Media Censorship & OAS’ Participation in Election Process May Ruin Bolivia’s Democracy

By Ekaterina Blinova – Sputnik – 15.01.2020

The Anez government sought to undermine the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) by trying to accuse it of fraud, says La Resistencia Bolivia journalist Camila Ugalde Soria Galvarro, adding that the persecution of alternative media and the enlistment of the Organisation of American States (OAS) to arrange the 2020 vote are part of the same trend.

As Bolivia braces for its 3 May elections, officials from the Organisation of American States (OAS) came to the country last week to provide technical support. According to Bolivia’s ambassador to the OAS Jaime Aparicio, the transnational organisation is slated to be involved in the entire election process through the day of vote.

With that in mind, it’s worth noting that it was the OAS that issued a misleading statement the day after the 20 October vote in Bolivia, as a group of political researchers explained in their analysis for the Guardian in December. The organisation presented no evidence to back its “deep concern and surprise” at the “hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results” revealed after polls were closed, which was interpreted as evidence of probable “election fraud” and subsequently led to social unrest and Evo Morales’ ouster.

Why OAS Lost Its Credibility in Bolivia & Beyond

“Most recently due to its role in past elections, the OAS has lost credibility in our country and not only among Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) supporters,” says Camila Ugalde Soria Galvarro, a journalist with the left-wing media outlet La Resistencia Bolivia. “If the persecution and censorship that was seen during the last months continues – against MAS supporters or anyone who opposes the current de facto government – there are no basic conditions for free and fair elections in Bolivia. If on top of all that the OAS participates in the organisation of the new elections, democracy in our country will continue to be weakened.

“Previously, the OAS refused to recognise the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro’s new term following the May 2018 Venezuelan presidential election and went on to embrace self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido and his cabinet.

Ugalde recalls that during the “black October” of 2003 in Bolivia, the OAS supported US-backed President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, who ordered a massive crack-down on protesters in El Alto which resulted in the death of 60 people.

According to the journalist, instead of the OAS, the electoral commission should include other international bodies and elected governments to ensure the fairness and transparency of the May vote. She echoed Andrónico Rodríguez, MAS’ potential vice president pick, who earlier argued that the OAS “should stay on the margins of this electoral process”.

Anez Gov’t Silencing Opposition Voices Ahead of Elections

The wide-scale persecution of left-wing and independent media sources by the de facto interim government of Jeanine Anez has prompted the further concern of MAS and its supporters.

“In the past several months, 53 local and community-based radio stations have been shut down, two important international media networks, TeleSUR and RT, were taken off the airwaves, and independent journalists and political cartoonists are being censored and even detained,” Ugalde underscores.She warns that “given this context – particularly months before the elections – the plurality of views that strengthen any democracy is currently being heavily besieged”.

La Resistencia Bolivia’s Alejandra Salinas and Orestes Sotomayor were detained on New Year’s Eve and charged with “sedition” and “misuse of state assets”, even though no evidence was presented to back the claims. Ugalde highlights that the two journalists have been publicly labelled as “Morales’ digital warriors” by the de facto government.

According to her, “such an attack against freedom of speech, directed at an alternative media platform that has been operating throughout the last couple of years and has provided information on a daily basis on the events that transpired during the coup, can only be seen as clear political persecution.”

In sharp contrast to the de facto government in La Paz, former Bolivian President Evo Morales “never used his power to silence opposition media” she stresses.

Anez’ Attempts to Weaken MAS Prove Futile

Ugalde points out that the de facto government of Anez has sought to weaken MAS and disrupt the party’s potential campaign from day one of the coup d’etat.

“Part of the efforts to weaken MAS’ position in this electoral race was to proscribe the party under the argument of the alleged fraud, as Jeanine Anez declared in an interview: ‘The Electoral Tribunal that is going to be formed has to carry it out (the ban). They will have to give a ruling in relation to a political party that has committed electoral fraud.’ These statements have raised many questions around the fairness and transparency of the upcoming elections, particularly among MAS supporters,” the journalist notes.

Nonetheless, despite the aforementioned measures, the Morales party leads the latest polls, with a margin of 20 points even without a clear presidential candidate, Ugalde says, adding that MAS actually represents over 40 percent of Bolivia’s population.

​”Currently there are many strong leaders in MAS but four names stand out; these are: Luis Arce Catacora former Minister of Economy and Finance and an important figure in Bolivia’s historical economic transformation in the past 14 years, Andrónico Rodriguez, current vice president and leader of the Six Federations of the Tropics, a 30-year-old who has become a natural successor to Morales, and David Choquehuanca and Diego Pary both former foreign ministers,” she elaborates, adding that “it is likely that a unifying and strong pairing might include Andrónico and Luis Arce to continue Bolivia’s Process of Change”.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | Leave a comment

Interpol Activates Arrest Warrant Against Morales at Bolivia’s Request – Interior Minister

Sputnik – 09.01.2020

The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) has activated an international arrest warrant for former Bolivian President Evo Morales per the Bolivian government’s request, according to the country’s interior minister, Arturo Murillo.

“I have given the order at 6:00 [10:00 GMT on Wednesday] to Interpol to activate the international order [against Morales]”, Bolivian President Evo Murillo said during a press conference on Wednesday, as quoted by the state Agencia Boliviana de Informacion.

He added that it was important for Morales be held to account for his actions in his own country.

In December, the Bolivian authorities issued an arrest order for ousted Morales, accusing him of sedition, terrorism, and sponsoring terrorism. Morales claimed he was not afraid of the warrant, calling it illegal and unconstitutional.

Late last year, Bolivia experienced a change in leadership following mass protests against the results of the October general election. Morales stepped down as president on November 10 and fled to Mexico. Most of Bolivia’s senior officials resigned in his wake. This resulted in the senate’s second vice speaker, opposition lawmaker Jeanine Anez, declaring herself interim president. Morales has characterized the situation as a coup.

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | Leave a comment

MAS Can Get Over 40 Percent of Vote Even Without Morales as Its Candidate – Bolivian Journalist

By Ekaterina Blinova – Sputnik – 09.01.2020

Bolivia’s highest electoral body has set the date for the country’s general vote. Although Evo Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) was eventually allowed to participate, the chances of the de facto government committing fraud to upend a MAS victory are high, says Alberto Echazu, a journalist from the media platform La Resistencia Bolivia.

On Sunday, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Bolivia declared that the country would hold a general vote on 3 May 2020 with the candidates having to be submitted to the electoral authority by 3 February.

The de facto government in La Paz, meanwhile, continues to crack down on Evo Morales’ supporters and leftist media sources.

Alberto Echazu, a journalist with the left-wing media outlet La Resistencia Bolivia, which has recently been subjected to arrests and intimidation, has described the unfolding situation as the country braces for new general elections.

Sputnik: The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) of Bolivia announced on 31 December that Evo Morales’ MAS will be able to participate in the 2020 general elections. Why did the de facto interim government request TSE to decide the fate of MAS? Did they hope to somehow weaken MAS’ positions or expel the party from the election race? What are MAS’ chances in the upcoming May 2020 elections and what obstacles could the party face, in your opinion?

Alberto Echazu: The de facto regime is trying to block and nullify MAS’ legal status as a national party so that it cannot be an electoral option in the upcoming elections. Using the false idea that MAS is the party of a government that committed fraud, the regime is trying to criminalise it and expel it from the election race. This is all because they are very aware of MAS’ strength, it being the only party that can obtain a vote higher than 40 percent even without Evo Morales as its candidate.

Some media sources have performed surveys of how residents intend to vote, and despite MAS’ candidate not having been decided yet, the party is leading in the polls against a group of right-wing candidates such as Fernando Camacho, Carlos Mesa, and others.

MAS has every chance of winning the elections as it is still the biggest and strongest party nationwide, however, the chances of the regime actually committing fraud in order to avoid a MAS victory are fairly high. The regime has not held back from using every resource at hand, regularly violating constitutional rights and even international treaties and international human rights.

Sputnik: Who are the most likely MAS presidential candidates to take part in the 2020 general elections? What’s your take on the candidacy of Andronico Rodriguez, named by some media outlets as Morales political heir? Is he charismatic enough to unify the Left?

Alberto Echazu: The most likely MAS’ pairing is Luis Arce as presidential candidate and Andronico Rodriguez as vice president. Luis Arce was Evo Morales’ minister of economy and is seen as the one responsible for the country’s economic stability and success in the last 14 years.

The economic model, labelled Modelo Económico Social Comunitario Productivo (Social Communal Productive Economic Model) was one of the most important reasons behind Bolivia’s economic miracle, giving Arce a great reputation and prestige among the urban middle class, him being the main thinker behind it. He is also highly respected among MAS’ supporters as he was not only a technical cadre in Morales’ government but also very committed politically, having been a member of the Socialist Party before joining Morales’ government.

Andronico Rodriguez has great charisma among MAS’ supporters as he was named Morales’ successor and is seen as an important young cadre. Because of his age he is not expected to be the presidential candidate (he is 30 years old).

This pairing has great acceptance among MAS’ supporters and could receive a large number of votes, both of them being very respected figures and having Morales’ trust and blessing.

Sputnik: Could you please shed light on the political persecution of leftist journalists, in particular, La Resistencia Bolivia, that provided the coverage of the Bolivian coup. Have any international human rights organisations or entities protecting journalists paid attention to these incidents so far?

Alberto Echazu: Political persecution against members of the alternative media platform La Resistencia Bolivia, of which I am a member, is due to our work broadcasting and informing about the coup in our country and all of the assassinations and violations of human rights during the coup and the de facto government.

The regime silenced the rest of the media that tried to inform with some kind of impartiality as soon as it took power and forced to halt the broadcast of any media outlet that refused to comply with the regime’s policies of legitimising the coup and the de facto government.

Two members of La Resistencia Bolivia were arrested on New Year’s Eve. The charges are “sedition” and “misuse of state assets”, even though the police have no evidence. They have been unjustly detained for a week and spent New Year in judicial cells. It is all clearly for political reasons.

The timing of the detentions was strategically planned so that there was not any social protest or support against this injustice, but in spite of that there has been a lot of support on social media, and as people go back to normality after the festive period the denouncing of this abuse has increased, given that La Resistencia has gained a lot of respect and followers for being almost the only media outlet left that informs about what is going on in Bolivia.

In that regard, different human rights organisations have expressed their solidarity towards our detained members and the persecution against the platform like Defensoría del Pueblo (People’s Defence), and Asociación de Madres de Plaza de Mayo from Argentina, but the police intimidation of society in general has stopped people from protesting, as happened in other cases of abuse and arrests as well.

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | Leave a comment

Twitter Shutters Dozens of Venezuelan Government-Linked Accounts

By Morgan Artyukhina | Sputnik | 08.01.2020

Dozens of Twitter accounts for figures and institutions related to the Venezuelan government, including military branches, political leaders and journalists, were suddenly suspended without explanation on Tuesday, a day after Washington condemned the National Assembly for failing to re-elect presidential claimant Juan Guaido.

The social media giant has suspended the accounts of numerous Venezuelan government institutions, including the country’s Army, Navy, National Guard, Air Force, Central Bank, Finance Ministry, Oil Ministry, National Center for Information Technology (CNTI) and National Commission for Information Technology.

The accounts of government figures like Victor Clark, the governor of Venezuela’s Falcon state; former Bolivarian National Army Forces General Commander Jesus Suarez; and Freddy Bernal, the coordinator of the country’s subsidized food distribution program, the Local Committees for Supply and Production (CLAP), were also shut down.

Still other accounts shuttered include Red Radio Venezuela, the presidential press office and the press office for the mayor of Caracas.

According to TeleSur, no explanation has been given for the suspensions, just a notice that the accounts had ostensibly violated Twitter’s terms of use.

While a few of the accounts have since been unlocked, such as Bernal’s and the Finance Ministry’s, most remain locked.

Toeing the State Department Line

TeleSur noted that according to Twitter’s rules, an account can be closed if it’s being used for spam, has been hacked, participates in abusive or bellicose behavior or impersonates another account – but the closed accounts haven’t violated any of these rules.

The crackdown mirrors one by the social media giant in September that targeted numerous Cuban news outlets and journalists. As Sputnik reported, dozens of Cuban accounts were shut down just moments before Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel addressed the nation about a chronic fuel shortage caused by US sanctions and collective methods of coping with the shortages.

Twitter has steadily treaded closer to the US State Department’s line in recent years, adopting the same bellicose stance against accounts associated with governments targeted by Washington, including those of Venezuela, Iran, Russia and China. Under the guise of combating disinformation, Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, have closed down accounts spreading information and news that run counter to the US government’s official line on events such as the Guaido’s declaration of his own interim presidency and the anti-Beijing protests in Hong Kong. However, in the recent crackdowns on Cuban and Venezuelan accounts, Twitter has not even attempted to offer a veil of justification.

Washington Decries Guaido’s Ouster

On Sunday, Guaido failed to secure re-election as the speaker of Venezuela’s National Assembly, a post he received in January 2019 amid rotating leadership of the legislature by the country’s opposition parties. Instead, 81 of the 150 lawmakers chose Luis Parra, an independent opposition member representing Yaracuy State.

Parra recently left the centrist opposition party Primero Justicia, the party of Henrique Capriles, who challenged Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in the 2013 presidential election.

Unsure if he would win re-election, Guaido postured as if he had been barred entry to the legislature, attempting to scale the fences outside on Sunday. However, there’s no evidence Guaido was actually prevented from entering the building in a normal way, especially since Guaido loyalists like William Davila entered without trouble.

Video footage later emerged showing Guaido refusing to enter unless in the company of several lawmakers whose parliamentary immunity has been revoked for alleged criminal offenses, Venezuelanalysis noted.

After opposition members failed to convince Guaido to enter, he and they later met at the headquarters of anti-government newspaper El Nacional, declaring the parliament’s vote void and re-electing Guaido as speaker, with several figures standing in for legislators who had left the country.

Washington quickly denounced the events in the National Assembly, with US Vice President Mike Pence declaring Guaido the country’s “only legitimate president” and US Special Envoy to Venezuela Elliot Abrams promising new sanctions against Maduro.

Guaido’s claim to be interim president is recognized by roughly 50 countries, mostly European and US-allied nations, while Maduro, who won reelection in 2018, remains recognized as the president of Venezuela by roughly 75% of the world’s nations. Since January 23, 2019, Guaido has launched four attempted coups d’etat, each of which has gained less traction than the last.

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evo Morales’ potential successor speaks out

The Grayzone | December 28, 2019

Andrónico Rodríguez could be the next president of Bolivia. The 30-year-old labor organizer spoke with Wyatt Reed about the far-right US-backed coup against President Evo Morales, repression of their leftist MAS party, and how the upcoming election may be rigged.

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Video | , | Leave a comment