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Santos: Military Killed Thousands of Civilians in Colombia

teleSUR | June 11, 2021

Former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos acknowledged Friday that thousands of civilians were executed by the military in Colombia because of the pressure they received to produce results in the fight against the guerrillas and asked for forgiveness for those crimes.

“There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that the original sin, what in the end gave rise to these atrocities, was the pressure to produce casualties” as well as “the rewards for achieving it,” Santos said in a voluntary statement to the Truth Commission investigating the half-century conflict with the now-defunct FARC.

The commission is an extrajudicial body created under the 2016 peace accords pushed by Santos that led to the disarmament of the rebels.

Santos held power between 2010 and 2018 and previously served as defense minister under Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), under whose rule thousands of civilian killings were perpetrated and then presented as guerrillas killed in combat.

Moved, the former president apologized to the families of victims present at his appearance.

“I apologize to all the mothers and all their families, victims of this horror, from the depths of my soul. May this never happen again,” he emphasized.

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which tries the worst crimes of the conflict with the FARC, documented 6,400 killings of civilians at the hands of the military during Uribe’s term, three times the number estimated until recently by the prosecutor’s office.

The military high command has always denied that the killings, encouraged by a “body count,” were a systematic practice in the military.

However, Santos affirmed that they are “an indelible stain on the honor of an army that has every reason to boast, but which must also have the fortitude to recognize the truth and ask for forgiveness. It is one of the ways to repair the damage”.

Known in military jargon as “false positives,” the executions of civilians are the biggest scandal involving the Colombian army. Officers and soldiers have confessed their involvement before the peace tribunal, seeking criminal benefits.

Santos told the Truth Commission that he learned of the military’s crimes as soon as he took over the defense portfolio in 2006. Still, he played down the credibility of the allegations.

According to the former president, warnings from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross were fundamental to investigate and sanction 30 officers and non-commissioned officers.

“Later, we found out that the paramilitaries were collaborating with members of the military forces to produce these false positives,” he concluded.

June 13, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 3 Comments

Will Congressional quest for answers on Brazil’s Operation Lava Jato reveal it as yet another CIA coup?

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | June 9, 2021

For years, the anti-corruption probe Lava Jato was hailed as the dawn of a new Brazil, in which democracy and the rule of law reigned supreme. Now, it’s clear it was a shameful set-up – with the US involved every step of the way.

On June 7, a coalition of Democratic lawmakers wrote to US Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting answers about the role of the Department of Justice (DoJ) in Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato in Portuguese), the grand Brazilian anti-corruption investigation launched in 2014 that ignominiously collapsed in February this year.

Noting it to be a “matter of public record” that DoJ representatives supported Brazilian prosecutors involved in the operation, they stated that an agreement was “evidently” reached between Brazilian and US authorities providing for a “substantial share” of the fines rendered from prosecuting Brazilian companies under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to be given to the very prosecutors and judges involved in Lava Jato, and to fund the creation of a “private foundation in Brazil totally administered and controlled by the same Brazilian prosecutors.”

The lawmakers concluded, “We are particularly concerned that the income produced from the enforcement of important US legislation dedicated to fighting corruption, could have ended up going to ends not entirely consistent with democracy, rule of law, equal justice under the law, and due process – not to mention Brazilian legal and constitutional requirements.”

That Washington was involved in Lava Jato, which saw more than 1,000 warrants issued, 429 people indicted and 159 convicted, and numerous high-profile business leaders and politicians – most notoriously Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, president between 2003 and 2010 – jailed, had been clear since 2016, when US federal courts levied record fines against state energy company Petrobras.

However, this suspect element of the probe was completely ignored by Western news outlets, as were clear indications from its inception that prosecutions were being pursued on dubious, if not non-existent, grounds.

For instance, Lula’s July 2017 conviction for money laundering and corruption charges was based entirely on the coerced testimony of a sole individual – and in his sentencing, presiding judge Sergio Moro failed to define a specific crime of which the former president was guilty, basing the verdict purely on his own “conviction” that Lula had done “something.”

As a result, Lula was precluded from running for the presidency in 2018, paving the way for the election of Jair Bolsonaro, who subsequently appointed Moro as minister of justice and public security. It was a move enthusiastically received both within and without Brazil, for his crusading efforts had made him something of a media sensation – in 2016, he was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 most influential people,” despite local news outlets that same year having exposed his illegal wiretapping of Lula’s defense team.

It was not until June 2019 that the judge’s mainstream fortunes finally took a turn for the worse, when journalist Glenn Greenwald began publishing a series of articles based on leaked Telegram conversations between individuals involved in Lava Jato.

The communications showed that Moro had provided insider information to prosecutors, helped direct their legal actions, briefed them on their media strategy, and requested that operations be launched against relatives of witnesses, to ensure convictions were secured. In November that year, Lula was finally released from prison after 580 days.

More recent leaks have revealed that the Lava Jato team conducted scores of secret, illegal meetings with FBI operatives throughout the seven-year probe. However, Moro’s ties to US state agencies have been a matter of public record since 2010, when WikiLeaks published a State Department telegram related to a week-long US Embassy-sponsored course laid on for judges, police, and prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro.

The document notes that many attendees expressed an interest in receiving further training from the DoJ on prosecuting money laundering cases, and were keen to collaborate with Washington in this field, contrary to Brasilia’s official position, under the auspices of the “fight against terrorism.”

Moro wasn’t a passive presence at the event, leading a talk on the “15 most common issues” he encountered in Brazilian money laundering cases. The telegram goes on to outline a dedicated program, “Projeto Pontes” (Bridges Project), to “bring together US and Brazilian law enforcement in different venues” and “build on our relationships and exchange best practices.”

The following month, Brasil Wire records that he and prosecutor Karine Moreno-Taxman – who was then based in the US Embassy in Brazil, and helped select participants for the week-long training course – were both present at the Brazilian Federal Police Agents Association’s fourth congress in the north-eastern city of Fortaleza. Moro was lead speaker in a panel discussion on corruption and organized crime arguing for changes in the law and more judicial autonomy in investigating crimes against public administration.

Moreno-Taxman then led a panel of her own, which viewed from a present-day perspective gives every appearance of setting out a clear blueprint for the subsequent Operation Lava Jato. For one, she proposed that Brazilian authorities maintain an informal system of collaboration with their US counterparts, circumventing formal cooperation structures as set out in international treaties.

Another key suggestion was manipulating public opinion in prosecutions of high-profile figures to engender loathing of those under investigation. “Society needs to feel that that person really abused the job and demand that he be convicted,” Moreno-Taxman is reported to have said, a message she’d been propounding across Brazil at a variety of US-sponsored events for two years by that point. It seems likely these lobbying efforts formed part of “Projeto Pontes.”

When Lava Jato collapsed earlier this year, further leaked Telegram conversations exposed how prosecutors cheered Moro’s decision to incarcerate Lula on April 5, 2018, as it prevented a Supreme Court vote that would have allowed defendants to be spared jail pending appeal. The operation’s chief, Deltan Dallagnol, dubbed the news “a gift” from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Had that motion been successful, Lula would have been free to run for president that year – and victory seemed assured, for he was polling 20 points ahead of Bolsonaro.

Today, polling for the 2022 general election places him in much the same position – perhaps unsurprisingly, given that during his initial seven-year spell in office, Brazil’s economy became the world’s eighth-largest, more than 20 million were raised out of acute poverty, and annual economic growth reached up to seven percent. As Lava Jato is estimated to have damaged foreign investment to the tune of $33 billion and wiped out 4.4 million jobs, a great many Brazilians will be hoping Lula makes a triumphant return to the Palacio da Alvorada.

Seemingly undeterred by the operation’s unceremonious unravelling, at a June 3 White House press conference a nameless “senior administration official” revealed that “components of the intelligence community,” includingthe director of national intelligence and CIA, would be fundamental in “establishing the fight against corruption as a core US national security interest.”

“We’re just going to be looking at all of the tools in our disposal to make sure that we identify corruption where it’s happening and take appropriate policy responses,” the official said.

It’s unclear whether an “appropriate policy response” will entail the covert selection and grooming of a fresh anti-corruption taskforce in another foreign country, although legal apparatchiks overseas would do well to think twice before accepting clandestine offers of fame and fortune in return for fitting up troublesome political figures for crimes they didn’t commit. The once-celebrated Moro is now utterly disgraced, and under investigation for seven separate counts of felony judicial bias. Still, the mainstream media seems oblivious, and that’s the main thing.

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. 

June 10, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

White House admits CIA involvement in “War on Corruption” which jailed Lula and elected Bolsonaro

Brasil Wire – June 3, 2021

In a White House ‘Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials on the Fight Against Corruption’, a Biden administration official admitted that the CIA and other parts of the U.S. intelligence apparatus were involved in assisting the “War on Corruption” which jailed former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and elected Jair Bolsonaro.

Read the full transcript here.

The admission will come as an embarrassment to a media who has for the most part omitted, minimised or denied U.S. involvement in anti-corruption actions across Latin America, despite it being a matter of public record for years.

In July 2017, Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco gave a speech at NATO think tank the Atlantic Council in which he bragged of FBI personnel informally involved in Brazilian anti-corruption operation Lava Jato and its prosecution of former president Lula. FBI personnel involved later boasted that it had “toppled presidents“. Lava Jato prosecutor Deltan Dellagnol described Lula’s 2018 arrest which kept him out of the election he was on course to win, as “a gift from the CIA“. The judge who prosecuted Lula, Sergio Moro, became Bolsonaro’s Justice Minister, and both made an unprecedented visit to CIA headquarters in Langley within months of taking office. Lava Jato’s origins can be traced back to 2008/09, where Moro and a blueprint for an operation of its type appear in State Department cables.

The role of anti-corruption as U.S. foreign policy tool in Latin America has expanded gradually since the 1990s, and has continued through successive Democrat and Republican administrations. Lava Jato was central to the ouster of president Dilma Rousseff, and pivotal to the election of Jair Bolsonaro, which were both undeniably advantageous to the United States government and business/banking sector, which is represented in Latin America by lobby and think tank Council of the Americas.

The June 3 press call was to mark a new national security study memorandum or NSSM on “Establishing the fight against corruption as a core U.S. national security interest“, which is being renewed under the Biden administration, and held by unnamed “senior administration officials”.

The following exchange left little to the imagination.

Journalist: “As you know, anti-corruption activists periodically urge the U.S. government to use its various assets and capabilities, including the intelligence community, to expose specific cases of corruption overseas, to name and shame corrupt officials — and the arguments they make are familiar — but also include not only, you know, a deterrent to corruption, but also a possible contribution to the promotion of democracy. Does the memorandum — does the program include any component that connects with that?”

Senior Administration Official: “What I can say on that front is that the memorandum includes components of the intelligence community. So, the work on that front, in part, remains to be seen, but they are included — the Director of National Intelligence and Central Intelligence Agency.”
 
“And so we’re just going to be looking at all of the tools in our disposal to make sure that we identify corruption where it’s happening and take appropriate policy responses.”
 
“And I’ll take the opportunity to mention that we’re also going to be using this effort to think about what more we can do to bolster other actors that are out in the world exposing corruption and bringing it to light.”
 
“So, of course, the U.S. government has its own internal methods, but, largely, the way that corruption is exposed is through the work of investigative journalists and investigative NGOs.”
 
“The U.S. government — to my point earlier, in terms of the support we’re already providing — in some instances provides support to these actors. And we’ll be looking at what more we can do on that front as well.”

The journalist asked for clarification: “What does the word “support” mean in that context?”

Senior Administration Official: “Well, sometimes it boils down to foreign assistance. There are lines of assistance that have jumpstarted investigatory journalism organizations. What comes to my mind most immediately is OCCRP, as well as foreign assistance that goes to NGOs, ultimately, that do investigative work on anti-corruption, as well.”

Evidence of the very nature that the official describes above has been dismissed by supporters of partisan anti-corruption campaigns for years.

The official was asked by a journalist specifically about Vice President Kamala Harris’s upcoming trip to Latin America, and: “if there were any corruption measures associated with that, or any, sort of, additional push related to that?”

The unnamed official responded: “I’m not going to characterize the views of the prior administration, but I would say, to your point: The essence of the memorandum we’re going to release today is that the U.S. government is placing the anti-corruption plight at the center of its foreign policy, so we very much want to prioritize this work across the board.”

The latest admission of CIA involvement in the U.S. led “fight against corruption”, of which Operation Lava Jato (Carwash) was the high-profile centrepiece, has grave implications for Brazilian democracy, and that of wider Latin America.

Brasil Wire has been covering this subject in depth since 2015: All articles on Lawfare in Brazil and U.S. involvement in it, 2015-2021.

June 7, 2021 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | 1 Comment

Ten Killed During Protests in Cali, Colombia Over Past Day

Sputnik – 29.05.2021

At least 10 people were killed and 23 others were hospitalised during a day of protests in the city of Cali in southwestern Colombia, Security Minister Carlos Alberto Rojas Cruz said on Saturday.

“Yesterday, 10 people were killed in Cali, and in some areas in the south of the city, confrontations turned into a real urban war”, Rojas said live on the Caracol radio station.

According to him, many demonstrators sustained injuries during the rallies, with at least 23 of them admitted to the city’s hospitals.

“However, we know that there are many more of them”, the minister noted.

Local media and social networks voiced dismay over the recent series of videos showing people wearing civilian clothes shooting at protesters, and moving together with police officers. Activists demanded that the authorities explain these incidents.

“The presence of armed civilians on the streets of the city is unacceptable, it turns it into a field of military operations… The revealed facts require a quick and thorough investigation involving all law enforcement agencies”, Rojas said.

The city of Cali has been the epicentre of protests against tax hikes, rocking Colombia since late April even after the authorities discarded the initiative. Labour and student organisations demand social and health care reforms, demilitarisation of cities, and dissolution of Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron forces.

Rallies in Cali involve violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement troops. In the wake of the poor security situation, local authorities announced a night curfew. In addition, on Friday Colombian President Ivan Duque arrived in the province of Valle del Cauca, of which Cali is the capital, to hold a security council session and discuss the unrest with the regional government. He pledged to deploy more military personnel to the area.

Protest leaders publicly reject all forms of violence and declare them as peaceful marches, but numerous radical activists join the marches, vandalise properties and attack the police.

The Ministry of Defence of Colombia blames armed rebel groups, such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the Army of National Liberation, for the violence during the demonstrations, claiming they seek to destabilise certain regions of the country for their purposes.

May 29, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 1 Comment

Bolivia to Request Extradition of Añez Regime’s Top Official

teleSUR | May 26, 2021

Bolivia’s Interior Minister Eduardo del Castillo confirmed that his country will ask the United States for the extradition of Rodrigo Mendez. He served as chief of staff to Arturo Murillo, who was interior minister in the coup-born regime led by Jeanine Añez (2019-2020).

He was arrested in Florida for requesting a bribe of US$582,000 to grant a contract for the purchase of tear gas ammunition for the coup-born regime.

The purchase from the Brazilian company Condor was for almost US$7 million. The acquisition was made through the U.S. company Bravo Tactical Solutions with an alleged overprice of US$2.3 million, which would have been used in bribes.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that Mendez allegedly received a second bribe payment up to US$714,000 in cash.

The evidence gathered from text messages, e-mails, and bank records revealed that Mendez was requested to write a letter to the Brazilian manufacturer to insist that the Añez regime would only buy the products through Bryan Berkman’s company.

Del Castillo explained that the extradition would be requested through Interpol channels and diplomatic notes to the U.S. State Department.

“We are sending the corresponding notes so that these people come to account to the Bolivian people,” he said, adding that Mendez and Murillo “took advantage of the opportunity to sow drug trafficking and corruption in our country.”

May 26, 2021 Posted by | Corruption | , | Leave a comment

Venezuela: Accusations of Meddling in Colombia Protests ‘Shameful’

Colombian state violence and human rights abuses have stoked the protests in which nearly 50 have died

By Paul Dobson | Venezuelanalysis | May 10, 2021

Mérida – Venezuelan authorities have dismissed accusations that they are intervening in on-going mass protests in neighboring Colombia.

Speaking on Friday from a Miami-based forum on Defense of Democracy in Latin America, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno claimed that “Our [Ecuador’s] and Colombia’s intelligence agencies have detected a gross intervention from the dictatorial and authoritarian regime of Nicolás Maduro [in the Colombian protests] (…) We call on Maduro to remove his bloody and corrupt hands from the democracy and stability of the Colombian people.”

The outgoing right-winger went on to describe the Venezuelan president as “the great instigator and financier of the violence in Colombia,” claiming that he had authorized public payments to pay for the “intervention.”

The evidence-free accusations were quickly echoed on social media by rightwing former Colombian Presidents Andrés Pastrana and Álvaro Uribe, with the latter writing that “They [the Maduro administration] are destroying Colombia, which has a future, in order to construct another Venezuela or Cuba, which do not.”

Following Moreno’s comments, Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano claimed a “strong” Venezuelan participation in the protests, referencing the arrest and deportation of six Venezuelan citizens allegedly participating in the protests over 10 days ago. There are an estimated 1.7 million Venezuelans living in Colombia, many of which have denounced frequent xenophobic attacks against them.

While Colombian President Iván Duque is yet to comment on the alleged “intervention,” his government decided to take action against Argentina and Cuba over the weekend, accusing them of meddling and expelling a Cuban diplomat from the country.

Both Duque and Moreno recognize US-backed self-declared “Interim President” Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. They also belong to the Lima Group, a regional ad hoc organization of right governments which have previously made similar accusations of Venezuelan incitement, financing or involvement in mass protests across the region, including in Colombia (2019 and 2020), Ecuador (2020), Bolivia (2019), Chile (2019 and 2020) and the United States (2020), all of which were rebutted by Caracas.

In response to the latest claims, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza described the accusations as “shameful,” going on to say that the accusers were “underestimating their people.” He also quoted Spanish poet Antonio Machado, writing via Twitter that “Lies are the most destructive weapon used by fascism.”

For his part, Chavista number two Deputy Diosdado Cabello likewise downplayed the accusations, questioning Colombian intelligence capabilities. “They couldn’t even investigate Operation Gedeon – the failed maritime incursion which happened a year ago and was planned in Colombia – but they can conclude that we [supposedly] have people there. Get out of here!” he said.

Culture Minister Ernesto Villegas chimed in as well, pointing out the hypocrisy of the accusations in comparison to Duque’s 2019 call for Venezuelan soldiers to rebel against the Maduro government.

Colombia has been rocked by a wave of popular protests and strikes since April 28, with government sources claiming 27 people have died. Independent organizations have placed the figure as high as 47, with around 800 injured and more than 400 missing.

The protests were initially organized to oppose a fiscal reform which increased the poor’s tax burden. In efforts to quell the protests, Duque withdrew the reform last Sunday and Finance Minister Alberto Barrera resigned.

However, widespread police brutality, as well as accumulated grievances based around the state’s noncompliance with the 2016 Peace Agreement and other human rights violations have stoked the mass demonstrations. Despite ongoing dialogue, the protests have continued, with Duque authorizing state agencies to use “all necessary force” against them on Monday.

Reports of widespread state violence and human rights abuses have been denounced by a range of Venezuelan leftwing movements, including at a piquet outside the Colombian Consulate in Caracas on Friday.

The rally, which featured the Popular Revolutionary Alternative (APR) bloc and a number of other leftist forces, came in addition to a number of activities in solidarity with the Colombian people held across the country. Solidarity events also took place in a number of other Latin American cities, including Buenos Aires, Santiago and La Paz.

Venezuela and Colombia have had a tense relationship over past years, with diplomatic relations broken and borders closed in 2019. Recent border skirmishes have resulted in a number of deaths, with the Venezuelan government pointing to Colombian “irregular armed groups.” Additionally, Caracas has accused it neighbor’s government of backing regime change attempts, including the 2018 drone attack against Maduro, the 2019 attempted ‘humanitarian’ border incursion, the 2020 Operation Gedeon, and a 2021 foiled terrorist plot, amongst others.

May 11, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

USAID was ‘key tool’ for Washington undermining the Venezuelan government, official review reveals

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | May 9, 2021

Allegations that the US government’s leading aid provider is in fact a ‘trojan horse’ for regime change have circulated for years but were always strenuously denied. Now though, Washington appears to have confirmed it in writing.

On April 16, the oversight division of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) quietly published a review of the organization’s activities in Venezuela from January-April 2019. Its seismic findings were almost universally ignored by the mainstream media, although the Grayzone certainly took notice.

During that chaotic period, Juan Guaido declared himself the country’s acting and rightful leader, challenging the legitimacy of elected President Nicolas Maduro, leading to fiery upheaval engulfing the streets of Caracas. In a widely publicized incident on February 23, trucks carrying USAID “humanitarian commodities” from Colombia into Venezuela were stopped at border crossings and set ablaze.

Western news outlets and politicians were quick to blame the arson on government forces, framing the action as a dastardly attempt to prevent vital supplies reaching citizens desperately in need.

However, journalist Max Blumenthal was actually on the ground in Venezuela at the time, and compiled compelling evidence the fires were started by anti-Maduro activists. Two weeks later, the New York Times published video evidence proving this was in fact the case, without acknowledging Blumenthal had already busted the ploy wide open.

The event is specifically referenced in the USAID review, and while the language is highly euphemistic, reading between the lines it appears the aid was never intended to reach Caracas, and the incendiary episode was, in effect, a Washington-directed “false flag” event.

In interviews with investigators, senior USAID staff admitted the agency’s programs are “subject to foreign policy guidance from the National Security Council and State Department,” guidance which may “impact USAID’s ability to adhere to humanitarian principles and mitigate operational risks.”

In other words, no matter what positive ends its distribution of aid may achieve in some areas, the agency is ultimately answerable to the US military and intelligence agencies, while also engaging in activities that are anything but philanthropic at their behest as a result.

The review notes that it was in response to such “directives” – which included “taking actions that deviated from humanitarian principles and heightened security and fiduciary risks” – USAID dispatched those trucks to the Venezuelan border.

The State Department and National Security Council is reported to have specifically approached USAID for the purpose after the US government in January and February 2019 “identified USAID’s humanitarian assistance for Venezuelans as also serving as a key tool to elevate support” for Guaido’s illegitimate “interim government” and “increase pressure on the Maduro regime.”

Though it’s striking to see USAID’s shadowy nature spelled out in an official report intended for public consumption, the agency’s wide-ranging, insidious role in US efforts to reverse Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution has been clear since 2010. That year, WikiLeaks published a US embassy cable from 2006 that was transmitted from Caracas to US diplomatic missions the world over – including Vatican City.

It noted that in August 2004, the US ambassador outlined his team’s “five point strategy” in Venezuela, which included “penetrating [Hugo] Chavez’ political base,” “dividing Chavismo,” “protecting vital US business,” and “isolating Chavez internationally.” USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), which “provides fast, flexible, short-term assistance targeted at key political transition” –  i.e. facilitates regime change – was said to be central to these efforts.

OTI’s activities in Venezuela included supporting over 300 NGOs across the country “with technical assistance, capacity building, connecting them with each other and international movements, and financial support upwards of $15 million.”

Many of the NGOs which included initiatives “dealing with the rights of the handicapped,” and countering “revolutionary ideology” via “civic education” were said to have been specifically launched off the back of OTI funding. Quite some trojan horse, although USAID’s destabilization efforts aren’t always conducted under the bogus banner of democracy and human rights.

For example, in 2014 it was revealed that OTI had established ZunZuneo, a ‘Cuban Twitter’, in order to stir unrest in Havana. It was constructed via a nexus of secret shell companies and financed by foreign banks.

Tens of thousands of Cubans registered accounts on the social network over the course of two years. The plan was to build a receptive audience, then push them toward unseating the government of Raul Castro. Users were entirely unaware it was created by USAID, and that their sensitive personal data was surreptitiously being gathered in service of a prospective future coup.

In response to the scandal, then-White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “USAID is a development agency not an intelligence agency.” Allegations to the contrary have swirled for decades, and quite understandably. From 1962-1974, a core division of the agency was the Office of Public Safety (OPS), which tutored thousands of police officers in 49 countries over the course of its existence, and provided them with weapons and pacification equipment worth millions.

Its director was Byron Engle, a veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The OPS provided cover for its operatives overseas, helped Langley plant staff in the local police forces of countries of interest to Washington, and also worked as a prospective agent talent spotter. In the late 1960s, it became the subject of negative congressional scrutiny due to allegations equipment it provided and personnel it had trained were linked to torture, murder and disappearances across Latin America.

A US Government Accountability Office report on the OPS, published two years after it shuttered, concluded the unit “encouraged or condoned police brutality, taught or encouraged use of terror and torture techniques, and promoted creation of police states” – charges which government officials, perhaps unsurprisingly, denied.

That report also exposed how extensive support was provided to police forces in countries notorious for their brutal treatment of political dissidents today, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Mercifully, no one seems to have been tortured or killed as a result of USAID’s cloak-and-dagger machinations in Venezuela, although the oversight review was far from glowing in its appraisal of the agency’s National Security Council and State Department-directed activities there.

For instance, USAID’s implementers in Colombia “did not assess the risks of fraud or develop risk mitigation strategies with anti-fraud control activities,” meaning untold funds and “humanitarian commodities” may have been pilfered by Guaido and his interim government.

After all, in June 2019, it was revealed the would-be leader’s entourage, including hundreds of defectors from the Venezuelan armed forces, had spent vast sums of aid money on expensive dinners, nightclubs and shopping trips in Bogota, as they awaited the downfall of Maduro. Said to have an appetite for “prostitutes, alcohol and violence,” the hotels they and their families stayed in went unpaid for three months despite Guaido’s promises to bankroll them, prompting their eviction.

Given the effort to remove the legitimate government of Venezuela remains abortive as of May 2021, it’s likely the ramshackle administration-in-exile has racked up an even bigger bill. Who will ultimately pick up that hefty tab is anyone’s guess.

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions.

May 9, 2021 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Over 370 People Go Missing During 9 Days of Tax Reform Protests in Colombia, Rights Group Says

Sputnik – 07.05.2021

A total of 379 people went missing in Colombia over nine days of protests triggered by the now-shelved tax reform, the Movice National Movement of Victims of State Crime has announced.

“The organizations of the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances have transferred data on 379 persons who have gone missing since the beginning of the April 28 demonstrations to the present day to the [International Commission on] Missing Persons and the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office,” the human rights group wrote on Twitter late on Thursday.

According to the latest data from the Ombudsman’s Office, searches for 51 people are underway, another 38 have been found. The protests resulted in 352 civilians and 38 law enforcement officers receiving injuries.

Rallies in Colombia against an increase in gas prices and utility bills as part of state-proposed tax reform have been underway since 28 April. Despite President Ivan Duque withdrawing the controversial reform on Sunday, protesters have continued to rally across the country. Demonstrators are now demanding a review of the sanitary emergency and health care reform, the dissolution of the ESMAD riot police, demilitarization of cities and punishing those responsible for killing protesters.

At least 31 protesters were killed, 1,220 were injured and 87 went missing in the first week of protests against the tax reform, according to the Colombian Institute for Development and Peace Studies. The United Nations condemned the use of violence against protesters.

May 7, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , | Leave a comment

Argentine Government to Launch Legal Action Against Ex-President Over IMF Loan

Sputnik – 10.04.2021

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez issued a decree instructing the country’s special legal body to act as a plaintiff on behalf of the state in a case against his predecessor Mauricio Macri, stemmed from his decision to take a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the amount of $50 billion.

“Prosecutors representing the state as the claimant are ordered to pursue the case, ‘Mauricio Macri and others, fraud against state bodies’ … and to facilitate the advancement of the criminal process in order to determine those responsible for the crime,” the decree says.

The document further states that the case is related to Marci’s decision to take a loan from the IMF in the amount of $50 billion in 2018. The current government has repeatedly spoken about the difficulties surrounding paying off the debt and began negotiations with the IMF on a new assistance program.

In addition, lawyers were instructed to initiate actions leading to compensation for possible losses incurred as a result of the actions of the previous authorities.

The decree was signed by the country’s current president, prime minister, and ministers of economy and justice.

April 10, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Nicaragua Never Required Masks Or Lockdowns And Crushed The Virus

Ben Swann | April 1, 2021

The country of Nicaragua never instituted a lockdown, never required masks, and yet crushed the Corona virus? Major protests in Germany, Switzerland, and the UK as people are saying ‘no’ to more lockdowns.

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April 3, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

Papers reveal US-backed Brazil’s role in installing and supporting Pinochet in Chile

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | April 1, 2021

Washington’s involvement in the violent overthrow of the democratically elected government of Chile in September 1973 is by this point well known. The pivotal role played by Brazil has not been as clear until now.

On the anniversary of the 1964 US-backed coup that led to Brazilian President Joao Goulart being replaced by a military junta, the National Security Archive has published a trove of previously classified documents showing the role that junta later played in subverting democracy in Chile, and its subsequent support of General Augusto Pinochet’s brutal repression of political opponents.

The file trail begins September 22, 1970, 18 days after Salvador Allende of the Popular Unity alliance narrowly won the Chilean presidency. A document, prepared for General Emilio Garrastazu Medici – then the third president of Brazil’s military dictatorship – summarizes a recent meeting between the US ambassador to Chile, Edward Korry, and his Brazilian counterpart.

Following Allende’s victory, Korry, a veteran diplomat during the administrations of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, vowed that “not a nut or bolt shall reach Chile” under the socialist’s rule, and if and when he took office in November that year, the US would “do all within our power to condemn Chile and the Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty.”

Accordingly, the summary makes clear US plans to undermine Allende were well underway by the time the two ambassadors met.

“Following direct orders from the White House,” Korry was said to be “insinuating to all relevant sectors” that Chile would have “difficulties” – including a shortage of foreign credit and military aid – should the country’s Congress confirm Allende as leader. He also noted the US Embassy was distributing written material warning of the dangers of an Allende government to Chilean military commanders, the very elements that would brutally take power three years later.

Korry’s message was clearly received loud and clear, for in March the next year – five months after Allende’s confirmation – Chilean ambassador to Brasilia Raul Rettig submitted a troubling report to his foreign ministry, titled ‘Brazilian Army possibly conducting studies on guerrillas being introduced into Chile’.

Rettig – who, two decades later, chaired the country’s first ‘truth commission’, which investigated human rights abuses during Pinochet’s rule – had heard from multiple sources that the Brazilian regime was extensively evaluating how to instigate violent insurrection in Chile and overthrow the Allende government via an “armed movement.”

Plans were well developed already, with the military having established a dedicated ‘war room’, with maps and models of the Andean mountain range along the Chilean border, to plan infiltration operations. A number of Brazilian secret agents had also reportedly “entered the country as tourists, with the intention of gathering more background on possible regions where a guerrilla movement might operate,” Rettig’s report revealed.

Brasilia was highly confident of success. In a November 1971 meeting at the White House, President Medici assured Richard Nixon that Allende “would be overthrown for very much the same reasons that Goulart had been,” and Chile’s military was up to the task. He added that Brazil had been “exchanging many officers with the Chileans, and made clear that Brazil was working towards this end.”

In return, the US president pledged “to be helpful in this area,” such as providing “discreet aid,” on the basis that “we must try and prevent new Allendes and Castros and try, where possible, to reverse these trends.” A contemporary CIA intelligence memorandum noted that, to Brazilian military top brass, Washington “obviously” wanted Brasilia to “do the dirty work” in Chile and elsewhere in Latin America.

By July the next year, Brazil had established back-channel communications with Chilean army officers, covertly flying them into the country to meet with high-ranking authorities and begin plotting the downfall of Allende. An August 1973 Brazilian intelligence report details a summit at an airbase in Santiago, at which high-level Chilean military officials were given extensive briefings on Brazil’s own military coup nine years earlier, in the process learning “useful” lessons for their own impending action.

So, it was that, on September 11, 1973, the Chilean military stormed the presidential palace and took power by force. Ground troops were assisted by British-made Hawker Hunter aircraft, which bombed the building and suppressed rooftop snipers. Allende also died in the fighting, and while investigators have ruled it was suicide, some still question that conclusion, arguing that he was in fact murdered.

In the process, Chile – hitherto an aberrant beacon of democracy and stability in a region typified by dictatorships – became a military junta, led by General Pinochet. Death squads immediately set about rounding up thousands of known or suspected Chilean leftists in the country, imprisoning up to 40,000 people in the country’s National Stadium.

The new files make it clear that Brazil moved very quickly to legitimize the new regime, racing to become the first country to officially recognize Pinochet’s despotism, and drafting speeches for the government’s representatives at the United Nations General Assembly to palliate the bloodshed unfolding in Santiago.

Plainclothes Brazilian intelligence agents also secretly assisted Chilean officials in conducting interrogations, torture, and executions at the National Stadium. Among those detained were US citizens, and Brazilians residing in Chile, at least three of whom were of such interest to Brasilia that officials were attempting to arrange their return home.

Comparable hands-on support persisted for many years thereafter. In August 1974, Colonel Manuel Contreras, chief of Chile’s Direccion de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA), requested official passports for 12 officers for a trip to Sao Paulo, in order that they might receive training from their Brazilian counterparts.

Humberto Gordon, who later headed DINA, is named among the officers, as are individuals later involved in the assassination of Orlando Letelier in Washington DC, which was directly ordered by Pinochet.

In the wake of the coup, Letelier – a Chilean economist, politician, and diplomat during Allende’s presidency – was held for 12 months in several concentration camps, along the way being severely tortured, being released only due to international diplomatic pressure. He fled the country and took refuge in the US, becoming Pinochet’s most prominent overseas critic.

On September 21, 1976, Letelier was killed via car bomb – much of his lower torso was blown away and his legs severed. Documents previously unearthed by the National Security Archive indicate that US officials had foreknowledge of the assassination, but transmission of a State Department communiqué warning the Chilean government against carrying it out was blocked by then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. … Full article

April 1, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nicaragua rebuffs attacks at human rights hearing

Nicaraguan Attorney General Wendy Morales defended Nicaraguan government Caribbean Coast policies at the hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on March 18.
By John Perry | NicaNotes | March 25, 2021

Nicaragua was one of the first countries in Latin America to give constitutional rights to its Indigenous peoples and its laws to protect their territories are justly famous (especially the Autonomy Law of 1986 and the Demarcation Law of 2003). Some 40,000 Indigenous families live in areas that are legally owned and administered by over 300 Indigenous communities, covering almost a third of the country. Governmental recognition of land rights was the first step in tackling incursions by non-Indigenous settlers from western Nicaragua and the violent conflicts they sometimes produce. But because colonization of Indigenous territories has been taking place for decades, taking the next steps – delineation of the territories, dealing with illegal titles (primarily given under previous governments) and potentially removing settlers – is a complex process that involves delicate negotiation and agreement at the local level.

Sadly but inevitably, the invasions by settlers have become another issue on which to attack Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. A handful of local NGOs, in some cases funded by the US government and aided by US and European organizations such as California’s Oakland Institute, have weaponized the human rights of Indigenous Nicaraguans. They make outrageous claims that the government is not just trampling over such rights but is guilty of systematic assassinations, exterminating communities, forced disappearances and even genocide (using this term is particularly egregious: the NGOs claim there have been 46 deaths since 2015 and some of these cases are questionable; this is among more than 220,000 Indigenous Nicaraguans).

Claims such as these were repeated in an online hearing held by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on March 18. IACHR is part of the Organization of American States and gets much of its funding from the US government. The hearing began with the heads of two Nicaraguan “human rights” bodies, CEJUDHCAN and CALPI, making these accusations, giving few details and calling in evidence only one member of the communities said to be affected (who seems to have spent much of the last three years living in Europe). In fact, except for these two NGOs and the spokesperson for the Nicaraguan government, none of the eight other speakers at the IACHR hearing were Nicaraguan. IACHR called none of the democratically elected representatives of Indigenous communities nor did it accept any questions to the speakers during the 90-minute hearing, despite having invited and received several detailed questions beforehand (including questions from Nicaraguans and from AFGJ supporters). Before the hearing, AFGJ and Task Force on the Americas formally submitted as evidence the new report, Nicaragua’s Indigenous Peoples – Neocolonial Lies, Autonomous Reality: this was completely ignored.

Of the dozen people invited to take part, only one, Nicaragua’s attorney general Wendy Morales, was prepared to comment positively about developments in the Caribbean regions (her testimony is available in English and in Spanish). Morales responded very effectively and comprehensively to the allegations made by the NGOs. She pointed out that the constitution is unique in recognizing communal land rights, that the rights of Indigenous people to take part in decision-making and to use their own languages are not only protected but a key part of (for example) the school and health systems. She explained the investment which the government is making in good roads and highways as well as public services, and the steps already taken to regularize land holdings and mediate with settlers, many of whom are long-established in Indigenous areas and may have been illegally “sold” land even though it can only be held communally. She noted that 23 original peoples’ territories have been titled and delimited and gave examples of how these areas are protected (e.g. by community-appointed forest wardens and by locally agreed procedures for dealing with new settlers).

Morales also responded to some of the direct accusations made by the NGOs. One was that “precautionary measures” issued by the IACHR to protect local activists had been ignored by the government. In response she cited the case of Juan Carlos Ocampo, the Indigenous Miskitu giving testimony at the proceedings at the invitation of CEJUDHCAN; he had been granted such measures in 2018 but had never presented himself to the local judge, as required, to take advantage of them. Challenging the argument that the government was allowing indiscriminate logging and mining in tropical forests, Morales held up an article from the right-wing newspaper La Prensa in which logging companies were complaining that the government refuses permits and prevents them from operating. Another article in La Prensa praised an agreement made between an Indigenous community and a mining company. The Oakland Institute representative, Anuradha Mittal, repeated false accusations about cattle farming in Indigenous areas which were debunked last year by NicaNotes and in an article for FAIR. Morales explained how Nicaragua’s sophisticated traceability system prevents any meat coming from cattle in protected areas from entering the supply chain.

As the AFGJ National Co-Coordinator Chuck Kaufman said before the hearing, “It strains credulity that the IACHR will hold a legitimate and fair hearing when it has not invited any of the elected and traditional Indigenous leaders from the region. Why would it even choose to examine Nicaragua in the first place on the issue of colonization when it has by far the best record with regard to Indigenous sovereignty and rights in Central America, if not the whole hemisphere?”

No one denies that the land conflicts in Nicaragua’s Caribbean territories are real. But knowing that this part of the country is deeply divided between supporters and opponents of Nicaragua’s government, IACHR chooses to give voice only to one side, allowing the government to respond but ignoring the variety of views in the communities themselves. IACHR encourages a judgment that the government is deliberately refusing to adopt obvious solutions to land conflicts, when the reality is much more complex. In doing so, it overlooks the obstacles and supports allegations of government neglect, while disregarding the many advances being made alongside the problems that remain.

It remains to be seen whether – after a long history of treating the Sandinista government in a manner little short of contempt – the IACHR is capable of reaching a balanced appraisal of the problems faced by the people of the Caribbean coast and of the government’s efforts to resolve them. When the outcome of the hearing is received, NicaNotes will be ready to analyze it.

March 26, 2021 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , | Leave a comment