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The New York Times Editorial Opposing Military Intervention in Venezuela May Do More Harm Than Good

By Steve Ellner – Venezuelanalysis – September 13, 2018

There is a growing body of pro-establishment statements opposing the possibility of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela. The latest expression of this position is a New York Times editorial titled “Stay Out of Venezuela, Mr. Trump” published on September 11. At first glance the editorial is a welcomed statement that counters the careless war-mongering declarations coming from the ilk of Marco Rubio and a number of high-ranking Trump administration officials as well as Trump himself.

Certainly, one must applaud the NY Times’ decision to come out in opposition to military intervention, and its recognition that similar intervention and support for regime change in Latin America historically (the editorial even makes reference to the Brazilian coup of 1964) as well as elsewhere in the world has had disastrous consequences.

The line of reasoning of the New York Times’s editorial overlaps that of other articles that have come out recently in the establishment media such as one titled “U.S. Military Intervention in Venezuela would be a Major Mistake” by Robert Moore published the following day in The Hill as well as the position of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). The anti-war stand crosses party lines as Moore has served Republican senators including Tea Party Republican Jim DeMint.

One hint regarding the limitations of this new position is the subtitle of the NY Times’ editorial: “President Maduro has to Go, but an American Backed Coup is not the Answer.” The way the article frames the issue is what makes it worrisome. The New York Times does not question the right of the U.S. as a nation (as opposed to the UN) to promote regime change. All it says is that a more intelligent approach to getting rid of Maduro is what is called for. As an alternative to military intervention, Trump’s pro-establishment critics call for increased sanctions.

WOLA, for instance, criticizes the Trump administration for increasing the number of Chavistas who are being sanctioned, rather than concentrating on a smaller number of leading Chavistas and increasing the penalties against them. In fact, the issue of sanctions against individuals serves as a cover for the financial embargo which has inflicted considerable harm on Venezuela, as even Reuters recognizes.

A valid question is why the New York Times has waited until now to adamantly oppose military intervention. After all, the then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raised the possibility of a military solution as far back as February of this year when he kicked off his six-day Latin American tour in Austin where he stated “In the history of Venezuela and South American countries, it is often times that the military is the agent of change when things are so bad and the leadership can no longer serve the people.” The statement was a trial balloon. Trump pushed the idea in subsequent months but the response from right-wing and conservative governments was negative. Countries which form part of the Lima Group rejected the military option and distanced themselves from Washington by supporting Mexico in its differences with the U.S. on tariffs and NAFTA.

The New York Times saw the handwriting on the wall and realized that military intervention would not count on the support of Latin American governments, in spite of their hostility to the Maduro government. The intervention that Trump proposed would be truly unilateral (unlike current military intervention in the Middle East) as Latin American governments would be unwilling to pay the inevitably high political price for supporting a U.S. invasion in the region.

Given these circumstances, coupled with Trump’s lack of political capital, a military invasion is unlikely. Talk of it may be designed to encourage dissension and unrest within the Venezuelan military. The strategy is that by threatening military action, members of the Venezuelan armed forces may put up resistance to Maduro out of the prospect of having to risk their lives in a confrontation against the world’s greatest military superpower.

In any case, if the central argument of the New York Times and other members of the “liberal” establishment is that Trump should focus on economic sanctions rather than a military solution, then they are undoubtedly doing more harm than good.

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Chile Begins ‘Coffee With A Cop’ At Starbucks To Build Trust

Guards, National Stadium, Santiago, Chile, 1973 photo by Marcelo Montecino
teleSUR | September 2, 2018

Chile’s national police force and Starbucks are partnering with the hope that people regain the trust of the state security agency found guilty of embezzling millions.

Chile’s national police are implementing their own ‘Coffee With a Cop’ campaign signing a contract with Starbucks to have three police officers in each of the country’s 120 stores for two hours once per month in order improve public trust in the government institution.

As part of the state security apparatus, carabineros, once helped torture, kill and prosecute its own citizens during the Augusto Pinochet military dictatorship (1973-1990), they had partly recuperated their image over the last couple of decades. By 2017, while still quite violent, carabineros were considered the least corrupt security force in Latin America. But in March of last year at least 70 of its rank and file were found guilty of illicit association and money laundering of up to US$38 million.

By February 2018 public distrust of the carabineros rose to 48 percent, 17 percent higher than the previous year, according to a Camden survey.

The state security force is hoping to overcome distrust and to gain people’s confidence by making themselves available to chat at local Starbucks throughout the country.

The national police communications coordinator, Major Diego Rojas, told local media “we saw that people did not see us up close. Citizens talk to the police when there is a crime when there is little space (to talk).”

The carabineros and Starbucks launched a pilot program last July stationing two police officers in three capital stores in Santiago for two hours each day. Rojas said the experiment went well.

Santiago’s mayor, Claudio Orrego, added: “there will be two or three police officers and a captain (at the coffee shops). They’ll be in uniform talking to people.”

The national security force decided to work with Starbucks because: “It’s a big chain that worked with the US police. In addition, it is in different communities, (and) it has a wide-ranging clientele.”

Juan Pablo Riveros, marketing manager for Starbucks Chile, said in a statement: “Our specific role in this program will be to provide the best place for these important meetings to occur. These will be made in all our stores in Chile, once a month, on a fixed schedule.” Riveros added, “We believe that these kinds of instances are very important for everyone, we are inviting the community to talk, and that for us is the most relevant.”

However, the Director of Advertising at the University Diego Portales, Cristian Leporati, told local media the initiative misses the mark.

“This is wrong. In general, people with a greater amount of prejudice against the Carabineros, … are not those who generally go to Starbucks.” Leporati added, “It is a huge marketing mistake to not segment the target audience well. I see it as a performance to make a by-product, like generating images of them talking to people.”

Last Thursday on the International Day of the Disappeared, carabineros prevented hundreds of families of the disappeared during the dictatorship from reaching the presidential palace in Santiago to place pictures of their loved ones.

The ‘Coffee With A Cop‘ campaign in the United States began in 2011 in Hawthorne, California with the same intention of building trust between cops and citizens who were more often saw the police as hurting rather than helping the city.

September 3, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

Evo Morales: US is The Real Global Threat, Not Venezuela

teleSUR | September 1, 2018

Bolivian President Evo Morales said Friday, on Twitter, that “the U.S. is the real threat to humankind,” responding to Senator Marco Rubio’s talk of using the U.S. Armed Forces against the Venezuelan Government as it “has become a threat for the region and even for the United States.”

Morales said “Senator Marco Rubio, warns of using the Empire’s army against the people of Venezuela because he assumes a “threat” against the security of the U.S.” The Bolivian president remarked that is the U.S. is the real threat to the world’s people, citing “its history of interventionism and military coups d’état in the world.”

The Florida Republican senator made the comments after meeting with national security advisor for the Donald Trump Administration, John Bolton, at the White House Wednesday.

“I believe that the United States Armed Forces are only used in case of a threat to national security. I think there is an argument, very strong, that can be used at this moment that Venezuela has become a threat to the region and even to the United States.”

Earlier this year, in February, Rubio made a similar statement, encouraging the Venezuelan Army to overthrow the Nicolas Maduro-led Bolivarian government.

“The world would support the Armed Forces in #Venezuela if they decide to protect the people & restore democracy by removing a dictator,” Rubio said, in a tweet, on Feb. 9.

On Saturday, Jun. 16, Bolivian President Evo Morales forcefully stated that Latin America “is no longer the United States’ backyard,” while denouncing the United States’ attempt to convince its South American allies to help orchestrate a military intervention or coup in Venezuela.

September 2, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 4 Comments

Chomsky on Regime Change in Nicaragua

By Roger Harris | CounterPunch | August 3, 2018

With patented angst, Noam Chomsky opined on President Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua to an agreeing Amy Goodman: “But there’s been a lot of corruption, a lot of repression. It’s autocratic, undoubtedly.”

Earlier in their DemocracyNow! interview, the main talking points were established via a video clip of a dissident former official from Ortega’s Sandinista Party: Ortega’s “entire government has been, in essence, neoliberal. Then it becomes authoritarian, repressive.”

Left out of this view is why the US has targeted Nicaragua for regime change. One would think that a neoliberal regime, especially if it were authoritarian and repressive, would be just the ticket to curry favor with Washington.

In Chomsky’s own words, Nicaragua poses a threat of a good example to the US empire:

Since Ortega’s return election victory in 2006, Nicaragua had achieved the following, according to NSCAG, despite being the second poorest country in the hemisphere:

+ Second highest economic growth rates and most stable economy in Central America.

+ Only country in the region producing 90% of the food it consumes.

+ Poverty and extreme poverty halved; country with the greatest reduction of extreme poverty.

+ Reaching the UN Millennium Development Goal of cutting malnutrition by half.

+ Free basic healthcare and education.

+ Illiteracy virtually eliminated, down from 36% in 2006.

+ Average economic growth of 5.2% for the past 5 years (IMF and the World Bank).

+ Safest country in Central America (UN Development Program) with one of the lowest crime rates in Latin America.

+ Highest level of gender equality in the Americas (World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2017).

+ Did not contribute to the migrant exodus to the US, unlike neighboring Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

+ Unlike its neighbors, kept out the drug cartels and pioneered community policing.

Nicaragua targeted by the US for regime change

Before April 18, Nicaragua was among the most peaceful and stable countries in the region. The otherwise inexplicable violence that has suddenly engulfed Nicaragua should be understood in the context of it being targeted by the US for regime change.

Nicaragua has provoked the ire of the US for the good things its done, not the bad.

Besides being a “threat” of a good example, Nicaragua is in the anti-imperialist ALBA alliance with Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, and others. The attack on Nicaragua is part of a larger strategy by the US to tear apart regional alliances of resistance to the Empire, though that is not the whole story.

Nicaragua regularly votes against the US in international forums such as challenging retrograde US policies on climate change. An inter-ocean canal through Nicaragua is being considered, which would contend with the Panama Canal. Russia and China invest in Nicaragua, competing with US capital.

The NICA Act, passed by the US House of Representatives and now before the Senate, would initiate economic warfare designed to attack living conditions in Nicaragua through economic sanctions, as well as intensify US intelligence intervention. The ultimate purpose is to depose the democratically-elected Ortega government.

Meanwhile, USAID announced an additional $1.5 million “to support freedom and democracy in Nicaragua” through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to overthrow the democratically elected government and “make this truly a hemisphere of freedom.” That is, freedom for the US empire.

Holding Nicaragua to a higher standard than our own government

Although Chomsky echoes the talking points of the USAID administrator Mark Green about “Ortega’s brutal regime,” he can’t quite bring himself to accept responsibility for regime change. Chomsky despairs, “it’s hard to see a simple way out at this point. It’s a very unfortunate situation.”

Chomsky is concerned about corruption, repression, and autocracy in Nicaragua, urging the democratically elected president to step down and run for re-election. Need it be mentioned that Chomsky chastised leftists who did not “absolutely” support Hillary Clinton? It is from this moral ground that the professor looks down on Nicaragua.

These charges of corruption and such are addressed by long-time solidarity activist Chuck Kaufman:

+ The World Bank, IMF, and EU countries have certified Nicaragua for its effective use of international loans and grants; funds were spent for the purposes they were given, not siphoned off into corruption.

+ Kaufman asks, “why a police force that in 39 years had not repressed the Nicaraguan people would suddenly go berserk,” while videos clearly show the violence of the more militant opposition.

+ Ortega won in 2006 with a 38% plurality, in 2011 with 63%, and 72.5% in 2016. The Organization of American States officially accompanied and certified the vote. Kaufman notes, “Dictators don’t win fair elections by growing margins.”

Alternatives to Ortega would be worse

Those who call for Ortega’s removal need to accept responsibility for what comes after. Here the lesson of Libya is instructive, where the replacement of, in Chomsky’s words, the “brutal tyrant” and “cruel dictator” Qaddafi has resulted in a far worse situation for the Libyan people.

Any replacement of Ortega would be more, not less, neoliberal, oppressive, and authoritarian. When the Nicaraguan people, held hostage to the US-backed Contra war, first voted Ortega out of office in 1990, the incoming US-backed Violeta Chamorro government brought neoliberal structural adjustment and a moribund economy.

The dissident Sandinistas who splintered off from the official party after the party’s election defeat and formed the MRS (Sandinista Renovation Movement) are not a progressive alternative. They are now comfortably ensconced in US-funded NGOs, regularly making junkets to Washington to pay homage to the likes of Representative Iliana Ros-Lehtinen and Senator Marco Rubio to lobby in favor of the NICA Act. Nor do they represent a popular force, garnering less than 2% in national elections.

When the MRS left the Sandinista party, they took with them almost all those who were better educated, came from more privileged backgrounds, and who spoke English. These formerly left dissidents, now turned to the right in their hatred of Ortega, have many ties with North American activists, which explains some of the confusion today over Nicaragua.

The world, not just Ortega, has changed since the 1980s when the Soviet Union and its allies served as a counter-vailing force to US bullying. What was possible then is not the same in today’s more constrained international arena.

Class war turned upside down

Kevin Zeese of Popular Resistance aptly characterized the offensive against the democratically elected government of Nicaragua as “a class war turned upside down.” Nicaragua was the most progressive country in Central America with no close rival. Yet some North American left intellectuals are preoccupied with Nicaragua’s shortcomings while not clearly recognizing that it is being attacked by a domestic rightwing in league with the US government.

Noam Chomsky is a leading world left intellectual and should be acclaimed for his contributions. His incisive warning about the US nuclear policy is just one essential example. Nevertheless, he is also indicative of a tendency in the North American left to accept a bit too readily the talking points of imperialist propaganda, regarding the present-day Sandinistas.

There is a disconnect between Chomsky’s urging Nicaraguans to replace Ortega with new elections and his longtime and forceful advocacy against US imperialist depredations of countries like Nicaragua. Such elections in Nicaragua would not only be unconstitutional but would further destabilize a profoundly destabilized situation. Given the unpopularity and disunity of the opposition and the unity and organizational strength of the Sandinistas, Ortega would likely win.

Most important, the key role of Northern American solidarity activists is to end US interference in Nicaragua so that the Nicaraguans can solve their own problems.

The rightwing violence since April in Nicaragua should be understood as a coup attempt. A significant portion of the Nicaraguan people have rallied around their elected government as seen in the massive demonstrations commemorating the Sandinista revolution on July 19.

For now, the rightwing tranques (blockades) have been dismantled and citizens can again freely circulate without being shaken down and threatened. In the aftermath, though, Nicaragua has suffered unacceptable human deaths, massive public property damage, and a wounded economy with the debilitating NICA Act threatening to pass the US Senate.

Roger Harris is on the board of the Task Force on the Americas, a 32-year-old anti-imperialist human rights organization.

August 4, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Silence on U.S. Meddling Abroad

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | August 3, 2018

Among the most fascinating aspects of the brouhaha over supposed Russian meddling in America’s electoral system is the total silence in the U.S. mainstream press about U.S. meddling in the political affairs of other countries.

Consider the mass outrage and indignation among the mainstream press that Russia would actually want to help a U.S. presidential candidate who favors normalizing relations with Russia over a candidate that was determined to do the opposite.

Why not the same outrage against the U.S. national-security establishment for helping its favorite people come to office in foreign countries?

By their silence regarding U.S. meddling in foreign countries, one could easily draw the conclusion that the U.S. mainstream press is saying the following: It’s wrong for Russia to meddle in the U.S. electoral system but it’s okay for the U.S. national-security establishment (i.e., the military, CIA, and NSA) to meddle in the electoral affairs of foreign countries.

But if that’s their position — and it certainly seems like that is their position based on their silence — then why don’t they explain it? Why is it considered okay for the U.S. national-security establishment to meddle but not okay for the Russian national-security establishment to meddle?

Or to put it another way, if it’s wrong in principle to meddle, then why is the U.S. government doing it, and why isn’t the U.S. mainstream press condemning both U.S. meddling and Russia meddling?

After all, even if Russian officials actually did do what they are accused of doing, it actually pales in comparison to what U.S. officials do when they meddle in foreign countries. After all, what’s a few Facebook ads and hacking into email accounts compared to murder, kidnapping, bribery, sanctions, embargoes, and coups?

In the 1970s, the U.S. government meddled in the Chilean presidential election, with bribery, kidnapping, murder, and a coup. Trying to prevent the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende, from taking office, the CIA attempted to bribe Chilean congressmen from confirming Allende as president.

But that was nothing compared to what happened after that. The CIA conspired to kidnap the commanding general of the Chilean armed forces. The reason? Gen. Rene Schneider refused to go along with the military coup that U.S. officials were demanding. Schneider was actually shot dead during the kidnapping attempt.

How’s that compared to some Facebook ads and email hacking?

Whether you call the kidnapping/murder of Rene Schneider “collusion” or “conspiracy,” there is no doubt that the plot originated in Washington and Virginia. There is no statute of limitations when it comes to felony-murder and conspiracy to commit felony-murder. Why not call for an official investigation to determine whether anyone involved in that collusion/conspiracy is still alive and should be brought to justice? Why the silence on the Schneider kidnapping/murder?

Once U.S. national-security state officials removed Schneider as an obstacle, that paved the way for the U.S. military coup, which brought U.S.-favored Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power, along with the rapes, torture, abuse, incarceration, disappearances, or executions of tens of thousands of innocent people, including two Americans, Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi. Why not criminally prosecute anyone who is still alive and who was involved in the collusion/conspiracy?

For that matter, let’s not forget the U.S. national-security establishment’s intentional destruction of the democratic systems in Guatemala and Iran in the 1950s.

For those who say that all that is ancient history, how about the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the one based on bogus fears of WMDs by U.S. officials? Or the U.S. regime-change operations in Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan, which have left countless dead and the entire countries devastated? It’s hard to get better examples of meddling in the political affairs of other countries than those. Or how about the U.S. national-security establishment’s anti-democratic coup in Ukraine, which, along with NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, is the root of the Ukraine-Russia-U.S. crisis? Why aren’t those U.S. meddlers being charged with criminal meddling and conspiracy to criminally meddle?

For that matter, how about the decades-old U.S. embargo against Cuba, whose aim has always been regime change. The same, of course, applies to the US. sanctions against Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and, of course, Russia. Why not investigate and prosecute those meddlers?

The U.S. media helps to remind us of an old principle: When one points his finger at someone in an accusatory way, oftentimes there are three fingers pointing back at the accuser and his silence.

August 3, 2018 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Chile: Activists Protest Against Dictatorship Killers’ Parole

teleSUR | August 1, 2018

Human rights activists in Chile are protesting a Supreme Court decision to release former Judge Gamaliel Soto, three former military soldiers and a police officer involved in the torture and disappearance of 31-year-old Eduardo Alberto Gonzalez Galeno in 1973.

The demonstrators gathered in front of the court in Valparaiso holding pictures of people forcibly disappeared during the military dictatorship headed by Augusto Pinochet, including Gonzalez Galeno, director of the Hospital of Cunco in Araucania, on September 14, 1973.

Soto had been sentenced to ten years for his involvement in ordering Gonzalez Galeno’s kidnapping, but Chile’s Second Chamber of the Supreme Court decided on Tuesday to grant him parole.

The three military soldiers, Jose Quintanilla Fernandez, Hernan Protillo Aranda and Felipe Gonzalez Astorga, as well as police officer Manuel Perez Santillan, all convicted of crimes against humanity, were also released as a result of an appeal to the country’s highest court, according to Nodal.

Their release was welcomed by the group’s legal defence, arguing that good behavior and the fact that they served half of their sentence were sufficient reason for their release.

Witnesses said Gonzalez Galeno was accused of being a member of the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR) during his captivity by the military dictatorship headed by military general Augusto Pinochet and, subsequently, beaten and disappeared.

Human rights lawyer Nelson Caucoto decried the court’s decision to release the men, stating there was no justification to grant parole: “We must take into account that parole is justified only by people who have been rehabilitated.

“It does not make sense to grant people freedom to live alongside others if they have not recognized the gravity of their crimes, nor have shown repentance beyond the fulfillment of certain formalities.”

Caucoto also said granting parole to people convicted of crimes against humanity, as in this case, violates the international agreements that Chile is a signatory to.

August 2, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Violent Coup Fail in Nicaragua

By Kevin Zeese | CounterPunch | July 24, 2018

On Clearing The FOG radio and podcast, Margaret Flowers and I interviewed Stephen Sefton, who lives in Nicaragua and is a founder of Tortilla con Sal. He names the names behind the violence and describes what is happening in Nicaragua.

Lessons Learned From The Failed Violent Coup In Nicaragua And Next Steps

The violent coup in Nicaragua has failed. This does not mean the United States and oligarchs are giving up, but this phase of their effort to remove the government did not succeed.  The coup exposed the alliances who are working with the United States to put in place a neoliberal government that is controlled by the United States and serves the interests of the wealthy. People celebrated the failure of the coup but realize work needs to be done to protect the gains of the Sandinista revolution.

People Celebrate Revolution, Call For Peace, Show Support for Government

The people of Nicaragua showed their support for the democratically-elected government of Daniel Ortega with a massive outpouring in Managua in a celebration of the 39th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution. In addition to the mass protest in Managua, various cities had their own, in some cases very sizeable ones.

People have wanted peace to return to Nicaragua. They have also wanted the roadblocks removed, which have resulted in closed businesses, job loss and loss of mobility. Roadblocks have been removed, even in the opposition stronghold of Masaya. There were two opposition deaths and one police officer killed in the removal. There was also an earlier death of a policeman in Masaya, captured when he was off-duty, tortured and burnt to death. This brings the total of police killed since April up to at least 21 with hundreds injured. With the opening of the main road on the east side of Masaya, all Nicaragua’s main routes are open to traffic and buses etc are operating normally.

At the rally, President Ortega called on the people of Nicaragua to defend peace and reinstate the unity that existed in the nation before the violent opposition protests. He described how the violent coup attempted to destabilize the country and ended the peace that has existed through the eleven years of his time in office. He said, “Peace must be defended every day to avoid situations like these being repeated.”

He also criticized the Catholic Bishops for their role in the failed violent coup. Ortega described the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua as “coup leaders” for collaborating with the opposition during the protests. Not only did the Catholic leadership side with the opposition during the national dialogue, but priests were involved in kidnapping and torture. Pope Francis has a lot of work to do to rein in the Catholic Church in Nicaragua. If their role in these violent protests and opposition to an economy for the people is not stopped, this will become a scandal for the Catholic Church.

Other Latin American leaders spoke out against involvement in the coup. Bolivian President Evo Morales condemned US “interference” in Nicaragua, denouncing the “criminal strategies” used against the government of Daniel Ortega. Morales accused the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) of “openly supporting violence” in Nicaragua. Also at the celebration were the foreign ministers of Cuba and Venezuela, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, and Jorge Arreza, all supporting Nicaragua over the violent coup of the United States and oligarchs.

The United States is Escalating Economic War and Support for Opposition

The United States is not giving up. Also on the anniversary of the revolution, the NICA Act, designed to escalate the economic war against Nicaragua, was introduced in the Senate. It has already been passed by the US House of Representatives. The Senate bill, called the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anti-corruption Act of 2018, imposes sanctions, calls for early elections and escalates US intelligence involvement in Nicaragua. It is a law that ensures continued US efforts to remove the democratically-elected government.

At the same time, USAID announced an additional $1.5 million for Nicaragua to build opposition to the government. This will fund the NGOs that participated in the protests, human rights groups that falsely reported the situation, media to produce the regime change narrative and other support for the opposition.

The coordination between Nicaraguan opposition and the United States was shown by Max Blumenthal’s attempted visit to an organization that funnels USAID and NED money to the opposition. He visited the Managua offices of the Institute of Strategic Studies and Public Policies (IEEPP in Spanish), but it was closed because its director, Felix Maradiaga, who was at the heart of the violent unrest, was in Washington, DC seeking more funding from USAID.

On July 18, the US-dominated OAS passed a resolution concerning “The Situation in Nicaragua.” An earlier effort to endorse a report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) was so biased that it failed. The report ignored the opposition’s widespread violence or inaccurately attributed it to the government.  It also failed to recognize government actions in self-defense. The resolution approving the IACHR report was supported by only ten out of 34 countries.

The resolution, which was finally passed by the OAS, condemned violence on all sides and urged Nicaragua to pursue all options including the national dialogue to seek peace begun by Ortega. On the issue of elections, the resolution urged Nicaragua “to support an electoral calendar jointly agreed to in the context of the National Dialogue process.” Only this mainly symbolic resolution could pass muster in the OAS, despite US domination.

What Happened and What Was Learned

In our article “Correcting the Record: What Is Really Happening In Nicaragua,” Nils McCune and I describe what was behind the violent coup attempt. We reported that there was a lot of misinformation on what was occurring in Nicaragua, indeed the false narrative of regime change was part of the tactics of the failed coup. Perhaps most importantly we described the alignment of forces behind the coup.

The coup was a class war turned upside down. The Ortega government includes none of the oligarchic families, a first in the history of Nicaragua. He has put in place a bottom-up economy that has lifted people out of poverty, provided access to health care and education, given micro-loans to entrepreneurs and small businesses and created an economy energized by public spending. Ortega expanded coverage of the social security system; as a result, a new formula was required to ensure fiscal stability.

Ortega made a counter-proposal to the IMF/business proposal, which would cut social security and raise the retirement age. He proposed no cuts to social security and increasing employer contributions by 3.5% to pension and health funds, while only slightly increasing worker contributions by 0.75% and shifting 5% of pensioners’ cash transfer into their healthcare fund.  These reforms were the trigger as it was the business lobby who called for the protests.

The forces aligned with the violent coup included the oligarchs, big business interests, foreign investors (e.g. Colombian financiers), the US-funded NGO’s and the Catholic Church, a long-term ally of the wealthy. Also involved was the Movement for Renovation of Sandinismo (MRS), a tiny Sandinista offshoot party, of former Sandanistas who left the party when Ortega lost an election in 1990 who are aligned with the US State Department.

Regarding students, there were already student protests around university elections, and these were redirected by the violent coup effort and supported by a small minority of students from private universities, the April 19th Movement. Some of these students had been brought to the US by the Freedom House, which has long ties to the CIA and met with far-right interventionist members of the US Congress, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Ted Cruz.

These groups acted in opposition to the bulk of Nicaraguan society and showed their true colors. This includes:

No doubt more will come out about this in the future as the coup is researched and analyzed. As the facts become clear, the opposition will lose more political power and be even less likely to win elections. The blockades of roads with violence undermined the economy and had a negative impact on the poor and working class. If it becomes evident that this was a strategy of the opposition, they will lose power. NGO’s that are funded by the US and run by members of the MRS will be noted for their dishonest narrative and will be seen as an arm of the United States and not trusted by the people of Nicaragua. Media outside of Nicaragua will come to understand that human rights groups and NGOs are not reliable sources of information but need to be questioned. They need to be pushed to break their ties with the United States.

This does not mean all is well on the Sandinista side of the alliance of forces. The coup is an opportunity for self-reflection and self-criticism that is already happening, as seen in this list of 20 results from the coup, which begins with “A more consolidated and United FSLN.” In addition, the Action Group of the Solidarity with Nicaragua Campaign put forward seven propositions to unify around. The protest took advantage of challenges the Nicaraguan government faces in continuing to lift up the poor and economically insecure. It shows their need to build their capacity to quickly let the public know their side of the story. And, it shows the need for planning for a post-Ortega Sandinista government, as the president is in his third term.

The anniversary of the revolution was a good beginning at strengthening the unity of the Sandinista movement and celebration of the defeat of the coup, but there will be challenges ahead. Nicaragua is a poor country that needs foreign investment. If the United States escalates the economic war, which seems to be the intent, it will make it challenging to continue the social and economic programs that are lifting up the poor. Nicaragua had relied on investment from Venezuela, but it is also in the midst of an economic war, which along with the low oil prices has created economic challenges for them. Nicaragua has begun to build economic relationships with China, Russia, Iran and other countries; these will likely need to expand.

The misinformation was deep and widespread. Inside Nicaragua, there were stories of students being killed that never happened but that escalated the protests. The opposition claimed to be nonviolent when their strategy was to use violence to force regime change while the government quartered the National Police. False news and videos of attacks on neighborhoods and universities never stopped being manufactured.  One example, students calling for help and claiming they were under attack, was later exposed in a video showing the students practicing the false social media narrative.

Peace and justice activists in the United States and western nations have learned they need to be much more careful believing reports on what is occurring in Nicaragua. The US-funding of NGOs involved in women’s issues, environmental protection and human rights in Nicaragua make them questionable sources of information for justice advocates. In addition, US-funded regime change efforts are getting more sophisticated at social media; and thus, care must be taken as social media is abused by regime change advocates. We must look to other sources that have shown the ability to report accurately e.g., Tortilla con SalTelesurRedvolucion.  Peace and justice advocates must be grounded in anti-imperialism and nonintervention by the United States.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment

In Nicaragua, is Operation “Contra bis” failing?

By Alex Anfrus | Journal of Our Americas, Investig’Action | July 21, 2018

Thrown under the spotlight since mid-April, the homeland of Sandino is still facing an intense political crisis. From now on, the crisis seems to be approaching its final resolution. On the one hand, the Nicaraguan people are mobilizing more and more alongside the authorities to help them dismantle barricades in insurgent spots. And on the other hand, in one week two big demonstrations for peace took place. Against the wishes of an opposition camp and spokespersons of the US administration, the message of Daniel Ortega during the march for peace of July 7 in Managua was crystal clear: “Here it is the people who set the rules in the Constitution of the Republic. They will not change overnight by the will of some coup leaders. If the putschists want to come to the government, let them seek the people’s vote in the next elections. With all the destruction they have provoked, we will see what support they will have.” But these facts are minimized by the private media and major news agencies, which continue to hide the evolution on the ground and blow on the embers of the dispute. Which side will tip the scales?

A dreadful propaganda scheme

In a recent article, I examined a number of contradictions in the treatment by international media of Nicaragua. Notably, one can recognize one of the principles of war propaganda which is to reverse the aggressor and the victim. The scheme works as follows: first, an opposition sector, one that refuses dialogue with the government, plans to control some parts of the capital and other cities by means of barricades. These areas are then considered “liberated from tyranny”, and thus represent the hearth of insurgency that must recur throughout the country, to defeat the operations of “repression” of police forces. This tactic of deploying barricades has been theorized as an effective means of preventing the authorities from gaining control over the national territory, because it is “impossible for the government to have enough personnel to control every inch of the country”. The first obvious thing to emphasize is that this is not a completely spontaneous crisis that emerges from a massive popular mobilization, but that there is indeed an insurrectional plan in place capable of standing up to the authorities for months. We are witnessing the first phase in the development of an unconventional war to overthrow a democratically elected government.

Then, a number of clashes take place in these areas “liberated” by the opposition. At this point, it is not trivial to note that the activists who defend these barricades are no longer peaceful protesters that the mainstream media has portrayed. Images of hooded youths handling homemade mortars and other explosive devices are impossible to conceal. In fact, they even contribute to the creation of a “romantic” dimension of popular resistance in the context of face-to-face contact with the professional police corps. This is where the second phase of the unconventional war comes in, namely the decisive role of media corporations that contribute to the production of a dominant and one-sided narrative of the crisis. It is easier to identify with a young demonstrator who is rebelling than a young police officer compelled to use force to enforce the law. Thus, when there have been deaths around the barricades, it becomes complicated for an outside observer to know the truth.

Who is not concerned with these victims?

A simple and quick tour of private media news will make anyone realize that the idealized dimension mentioned above serves only to delegitimize government action. No one is asking themselves this simple question: “Was the victim a pro-government Sandinista helping the police dismantle the barricades, or an opponent who defended them?” Many testimonies in favor of the first version have been systematically dismissed! Indeed, the role of the private media is fundamental in order to give maximum credibility to the opposition’s side of the story. Would the latter be manipulating the victims’ memory with the complicity of some private media in Nicaragua? This is quite a strong point for us: what about the many cases of victims whose membership in the pro-government camp has been proven?

In the framework of the peace talks, the Nicaraguan government first accepted that the IACHR (Note: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, organ of the Organization of American States (OAS)) lead a human rights observation mission. But it went on to denounce that its report does not include the description of many cases of attacks against civilian victims, including public officials, as a result of the violence unleashed by the opposition. Are the dice loaded? Here are some recent examples that illustrate a much more nuanced situation than that described by some media:

– On June 19, the authorities launch an operation in Masaya to release the Deputy Director of the National Police Ramon Avellan and his agents, who were entrenched in the police station, surrounded by barricades since June 2. Every night, protesters fired mortar at the police station, accompanied by threats: “What do you think? That there were only “güevones” (rascals) in this fight? Here again, here is my little sister… ” Then, the mortar fire would start again near the police station… Under the pretext of playful action, a video shows how protesters positioned behind a barricade sing menacing songs against General Avellan, accompanied by shots. According to the Pro-Human Rights Nicaraguan Association ANPDH organization, as a result of the police rescue operation, six people – including three whose identity remains to be verified – were murdered in several surrounding neighborhoods.

– On June 30, in the context of an opposition march, a protester was shot dead. Recorded a few minutes before the tragedy by a journalist who was there, a video shows how opposition members surround a private security officer and ask him to handover his weapon, simulating a hostage situation in order to justify their action. Then, the images show a person who stands behind the agent, points a pistol at his temple and steals his rifle. Later, the protesters will attribute the death to government repression.

– On July 3, two people were kidnapped in Jinotepe by a group of armed hooded men: police major Erlin García Cortez and Enacal worker Erasmo Palacios. Three days later, Bismarck de Jesús Martínez Sánchez, a worker from the Managua City Hall, was also kidnapped. A week later, relatives had still not received any sign of life from them.

– On July 5, the lifeless body of National Police officer Yadira Ramos was found in Jinotepe. She had been kidnapped, raped and tortured. She had been forced to get off her vehicle and her husband had been killed on the spot.

– On July 6, FSLN member Roberto Castillo Cruz was killed by opposition hoodlums who held barricades in Jinotepe. His son, Christopher Castillo Rosales had been killed just a week before him. In a video published shortly before his own murder, Castillo Cruz denounced the murderers: “This criminal gang of the right has killed my son, I only ask for justice and that peace prevails so that our children do not lose their lives!”

– On July 8, during a nighttime clash in Matagalpa, a 55-year-old man named Aran Molina was killed while rescuing Lalo Soza, a Sandinista activist who was under attack. The following day, Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) paid tribute to him through a procession. The same day, two other people were killed: social worker Tirzo Ramón Mendoza, executed by hooded people after being kidnapped, and a third victim whose identity remains unknown.

– On 9 July, the authorities dismantled the barricades that prevented free movement in the towns of Diriamba and Jinotepe. Many residents then testified about the many violent actions of the opposition, including torture against the Sandinistas. At the same time, representatives of the Episcopal Conference arrived. Citizens of Jinotepe then entered the church, where they found opposition members disguised as members of the clergy. Residents accused church officials of protecting them and not saying anything or doing anything to stop the violence unleashed in the last two months. In Diriamba, the inhabitants also discovered an arsenal of mortars hidden in the church of San Sebastian.

– On July 12, a criminal gang attacked the Morrito Town Hall in Rio San Juan. A historical Sandinista fighter, Carlos Hernandez, was kidnapped there. Seriously wounded and unable to escape, a youth Sandinista activist, two police officers and their superiors are murdered. A Sandinista activist received a bullet in the abdomen. Later, schoolmaster Marvin Ugarte Campos would succumb to his injuries. The version of the opposition? It says the massacre was … a “self-attack by paramilitaries”!

It seems that some deaths and violent acts have no value, while others are erected as martyrs for a sacred cause. In the end, does everything depend on the prism through which we look at reality? Are we already placed in a camp in a conflict without knowing it or even suspecting it? In this case, would it be a waste of time to try to form one’s own opinion from fact analysis? The search for peace and truth prevents us from succumbing to such resignation.

In a remarkable 46-page work entitled “The monopoly of death – how to inflate figures to assign them to the government”, Enrique Hendrix identified the numerous inconsistencies in the various reports presented by the three main human rights organizations, the CENIDH (Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights), the IACHR and the ANPDH. Comparing the various reports from the beginning of the crisis to the date of the last reports presented (from April 18 to June 25), he concluded that the three organizations recorded a total of 293 deaths. In 26% of cases (77 citizens), information on the deaths is incomplete and remains to be verified. In 21% of cases (60 citizens), the dead are persons murdered by the opposition, either public officials or Sandinista militants who were murdered for helping the authorities dismantle the barricades. In 20% of the cases (59 citizens), the dead were protesters, opposition members or people who erected barricades. In 17% of cases (51 citizens), the dead do not have a direct relationship with the demonstrations. Finally in 16% of the cases (46 citizens), the dead were passers-by who did not take part in the clashes.

As can be seen in this study, the balance sheets of these organizations are sorely lacking in rigor and mix all sorts of victims (fights between gangs, road accidents, murders in the context of vehicle theft, conflict between land owners, police officers, a pregnant woman in an ambulance blocked by barricades …). Conclusion: if we take into account the exact circumstances of each death, it is obvious that we cannot attribute the responsibility to the government alone. In light of these elements, we have the right to challenge the international media about their lack of objectivity. Why such an alignment with a sector of the opposition who has declared itself fiercely hostile to any dialogue?

Who is not interested in dialogue?

This propaganda mechanism is completed by the “blackout” of other information that is not considered relevant. However, while the media focuses on the clashes, other sectors of the opposition continue to participate in the various sessions of the “dialogue tables for truth, peace and justice”, organized to listen to different points of view and seek to establish responsibility in the wave of violence ravaging the country. Moreover, the final conclusions of the various human rights observation missions in the country had not yet been made, they were to be discussed and include new elements. But what can we expect from the dialogue between the two parties, when a number of observers have already decided in advance that the government alone is responsible for the violence?

All over the world, the role of the police is to repress in case of “disturbance of public order”. But we struggle to understand why the authorities would order it to attack civilians wildly and arbitrarily at the same time as the peace dialogue is taking place. On the other hand, one could expect such an attitude from those who, refusing to participate in the dialogues, would seek to sabotage it, having an interest in the derailment of this process. In this case, it is not unlikely that hooded thugs have been posing as police forces on several occasions.

In any case, it is no less credible than the version of these same hooded thugs, who say that the government of Daniel Ortega would have given the green light to disguised civilians to destroy infrastructure and kill other civilians! Still, the government did not deny that at the beginning of the crisis some police officers sometimes acted using disproportionate violence, and it responded that justice will have to determine their responsibility in actions punishable by law. The National Assembly, for its part, has launched an initiative to create a “Commission for Truth, Justice and Peace” with the aim of reporting on the responsibilities of human rights violations within three months.

But in the fairy tale that the mainstream media is manufacturing from dawn to dusk, and on the internet 24 hours a day, it is not even conceivable that the government of Nicaragua is facing difficulties whose causes would be complex and numerous. The media hype and the positions of foreign political figures serve as irrefutable proof! As has been the case in Venezuela in recent years, taking the public hostage in this way is an insult to its intelligence. Of course, not everything is explained by the tentacles of the imperialist octopus. But for those who are interested in the history of inter-American relations for the last two centuries, it is not serious to forget about its weight and consider that this influence is a thing of the past.

How to export democracy in dollars

It seems that few observers are really shocked by the rapid progression of these events, which are shaped like a breadcrumb trail towards a single objective: condemning the Ortega government and demanding early elections. That’s where the hiccup is: Latin American countries where assassinations of trade unionists, peasants and social leaders have been a common thing for years, where the peace efforts of governments are considered, at best, as totally ineffective, and at worst as non-existent, such as Colombia, Honduras or Mexico, are not at all worried about the image of their “democracies”. There is something wrong, isn’t it? To shed some light on this mystery, a reminder of the history of the twentieth century is worth the detour.

The coups and destabilizations fomented from abroad, such as in the Dominican Republic or in Guatemala, show that in the second half of the 20th century the Latin-American context was still marked by the military interventionism of the Monroe Doctrine and the “manifest destiny” of the United States. It was nothing more than an imperialist policy of controlling the resources and raw materials of Latin America, now presented as an anticommunist “crusade” in the context of the Cold War. On the other hand, the dominance of the United States would not be limited to a demonstration of force based on the “regime change” and the sending of troops on the ground, but it would also take forms of cultural domination, in particular through the so-called “development aid” policies.

In his speech in January 1949, US President Harry Truman described non-industrialized countries as “underdeveloped” countries. Thus, in 1950, the American Congress passed an Act for International Development (AID). On September 4, 1961, a US Congress law replaced the AID by USAID, which was to implement a new, more comprehensive vision of “development assistance” directed anywhere in the planet. As can be seen in the coup against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, the anti-communist struggle was only a pretext. The main concern of the US government was to prevent the development of national consciousness within the armies and police of “underdeveloped countries”. That is why, from 1950 to 1967, “the United States government spent more than $ 1,500 million on military aid to Latin American countries.” (1)

After the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, John Kennedy announced the Alliance for Progress in 1961. It was a similar initiative to the Marshall Plan in Europe. Between 1961 and 1970, the Alliance for Progress provided $ 20 billion in economic assistance to Latin America. One of the objectives was the stabilization of the regimes that fought against communism and the influence of Cuba.

“John F. Kennedy and his advisers are developing an action plan for the region, the Alliance for Progress, consisting of a $ 20 billion investments for economic development and massive military assistance. The decade of the sixties is marked by the formation of a new generation of Latin American military and the transfer of capital and technology from the US military to Latin America. The Pentagon and the CIA draw their strategy to halt the advance of socialism: the US Army-run Panama School trains the cadres of the Latin American armed forces “. (2)

Under the fallacious concept of “development aid policies”, the “creation of strong armies and police” and “military aid to reactionary and pro-imperialist regimes” served to offer to the monopolies “the most favorable conditions of exploitation of underdeveloped countries “. (3) In other words, this “aid” represented above all a political weapon in favor of the economic interests of the countries of the Global North. These were represented in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), founded in 1961 and also known as the “Rich Country Club”. It consisted of 27 countries, mostly those of North America, Western Europe and Japan.

Resistance emerges sooner or later

But the new reality resulting from decolonization in Asia and Africa also represented an awareness: the strength of the liberated countries now resided in their unity. This would enable them to exercise some orientation on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly, and to defend the autonomous “right to development”. Thus, in the 1970s, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) would play an important role in defending the interests of the Group 77. Created in 1964, UNCTAD was characterized by the Common Declaration of the 77 countries as a “historic turning point”.

The invasion and the military occupation of Nicaragua by the United States makes it possible to better appreciate the historical value of the Sandinista Popular Revolution and the resistance to the interferences which it showed in the 1980s. The scandal of the financing of Contras by the CIA through the drug trade in Central America was proof that these plans are not infallible. Despite the many interferences and destabilizations suffered throughout history, the peoples of the South have an advantage over the powerful: collective memory and intelligence.

After the dictatorships’ repression, the debt crisis and the rule of the IMF in the 1970s and 1980s, Latin America was to experience many social revolts in the 1990s, paving the way for the arrival of new progressive governments in Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela or Bolivia. The next step was to launch the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), a regional cooperation body created in 2004 to defeat the proposed Free Trade Area of ​​the Americas (ALCA in Spanish) by the United States.

What remains today of yesterday’s meddling?

Since the 1990s, at the end of the Cold War, US aid no longer had the pretext of restraining communism. It then took the form of “counter-terrorism” or “security and anti-drug policies”. Here are the main recipients of US aid in Latin America: $ 9.5 billion for Colombia; $ 2.9 billion for Mexico; and since 2016, aid to all countries in the Northern Triangle of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) has exceeded that of the first two. (4) Which explains why we systematically condemn some countries and not others… regardless of reality and the degree of violence.

Yet the Cold War is not over in the minds of some. Thus, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro believes it is necessary in 2018 to comply with White House requirements, and to harass night and day countries such as Nicaragua or Venezuela at the risk of being ridiculed. Indeed, when in a special session of the OAS the US spokesperson has just criticized the violence in Nicaragua and attributed it exclusively to the government, can we take his word for it? It would be better to remind him that his country does not have the slightest legitimacy to talk about Nicaragua, because it invaded and occupied it militarily for 21 years, then went on to support the clan of the dictator Somoza for another 43 years!

The “conservative restoration” of recent years, with the “soft coups” to overthrow Lugo in Paraguay, Zelaya in Honduras, Rousseff in Brazil; the failure of the peace process in Colombia, the judicial persecution against Jorge Glas, Lula Da Silva and now Rafael Correa, is the ideal context for the OAS, this obsolete organization, to try to put an end to the memory of the social achievements of recent years.

Since the US did not invent hot water, to reach their ends they must use the means at hand. Unsurprisingly, Freedom House, funded among others by USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), decided to create a special task force to fight the FSLN in Nicaragua in 1988. It is always opportune to hear NED Co-Founder Allen Weinstein: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA. The biggest difference is that when such activities are done overtly, the flap potential is close to zero. Openness is its own protection.”. (5)

Today, the interference keeps going through the financing of opposition movements, framed by training programs for “young leaders” ready to defend tooth and nail the values ​​of the sacrosanct “democracy” and to overthrow “dictatorships” from their countries of origin. From 2014 to 2017, the NED has dedicated up to $ 4.2 million to Nicaraguan organizations such as IEEPP (Institute for Strategic Studies and Public Policy), CPDHN (Human Rights Permanent Commission in Nicaragua), Invermedia, Hagamos Democracia and Fundacion Nicaraguense para el Desarrollo Economico y Social. When we remind this to young opponents and their sympathisers, they pretend not to understand…

While it may have been extremely effective in some countries like Ukraine in 2014, the pattern we have described must be confronted with the reality and political traditions of each country. In Nicaragua, the FSLN is the dominant political force that has won democratically in the last three elections. It is significant that opposition sectors that rely on the support of the US, the right wing, and local employers are forced to use references to Sandinismo in an attempt to gain credibility. However, this practice goes too far when it tries to compare the Sandinista government and the dictatorship of Somoza, thus demonizing Daniel Ortega.

The march for peace convened by the FSLN on July 13, in tribute to the 39th anniversary of the historic “tactical retreat” of Sandinism in Masaya, was a new show of strength of the Nicaraguan people and its willingness to defeat the violent strategy of the opposition. Will the peoples of the world live up to the solidarity that this moment demands?

Notes

1) Yves Fuchs; La coopération. Aide ou néo-colonialisme ? Editions Sociales. Paris, 1973, pp. 55 (Cooperation. Help or neo-colonialism?)

2) Claude Lacaille; En Mission dans la Tourmente des Dictatures. Haïti, Equateur, Chili : 1965-1986. Novalis, Montreal, 2014. p 23. (In Mission in the Torment of Dictators. Haiti, Ecuador, Chile: 1965-1986)

3) Gustavo Esteva, “Desarrollo” in SachsWolfgang (coord.) Diccionario del Desarrollo, Lima, PRATEC, 1996. p. 52.

4) https://www.wola.org/es/analisis/ayuda-militar-de-estados-unidos-en-latinoamerica/

5) Washington Post, 22 September 1991.

July 22, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Politicians from President-Elect’s Party Killed in Mexico – Reports

Sputnik – 21.07.2018

MEXICO CITY – Two politicians from the young Morena party founded by Mexico’s leftist president-elect were killed on Friday, local media reported.

Eliseo Delgado Sanchez, the newly-elected mayor of Buenavista in Michoacan state, was shot dead on the steps of the town hall, the Excelsior news website reported. Earlier on Friday, gunmen reportedly opened fire on the car of Zenon Cocula Fierro, a city councillor in Tlaquepaque in Jalisco state.

Mexican authorities estimated last week that a total of 523 politicians and government officials were assassinated in the country during the recent election campaign.

According to the report of the Mexican authorities, covering the period from September 8 to July 1, as many as 152 politicians were killed, including 48 preparing to become candidates for elective posts, and 371 government officials at different levels.

On average, there were 1.7 assassinations of politicians and officials per day. The total number of attempts reached 1,200.

On the Election Day, July 1, as many as 138 attacks and seven murders of politicians in 26 states of the country were registered.

The presidential election was won by the left-wing candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. He will take office on December 1. Lopez Obrador has already promised to change the vector of the fight against crime that swept the Latin American country amid the war with drug cartels, from forceful to social.

July 21, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Colombia’s New Defense Minister To Impose Permit Requirement for Protests

teleSUR | July 19, 2018

Colombia’s incoming Defense Minister Guillermo Botero is planning to “regulate” anti-government protests by only allowing demonstrations if they are previously approved by authorities. The announcement was made by Botero during a summit attended by USAID director Mark Green and former U.S. vice-president Joseph Biden.

Also attending the summit, president-elect Ivan Duque, said that “opposition is important to scrutinize, make demands and to criticize. But the invitation is that we pull together for a future for us all.”

Botero, who will be in charge of both the National Police and military, seemed to agree, saying public protests should “represent the interests of all Colombians and not just a small group.”

Restricting anti-government protests, which appears to go in contradiction to some parts of the ongoing peace process, was the first proposal made by Botero after being appointed by Duque.

Outgoing president Juan Manuel Santos vowed to release jailed participants in protests that turned violent during major social tensions between neglected or discriminated communities and the authorities, according to Colombia Reports.

Over the past decade, the overwhelming majority of protests were held by historically neglected groups, mainly Indigenous groups and African-descendant communities. They also included labor unions, campesinos, teachers, as well as political opponents to the government.

Botero’s proposal comes amid a surge of assassinations and death threats against human rights defenders and social activists.

Opposition Senator Alexander Lopez, who earlier this year survived an alleged assassination attempt, took to Twitter to voice his concern over the restrictive measure. “Botero hasn’t even taken office and he’s already persecuting social protest. He wants us to just raise our arms for him to do what he wants with us.”

Colombia’s inspector general, Fernando Carrillo, has accused elements of the country’s police and military of collaborating with criminal organizations to assassinate human rights defenders and community leaders. “State agents are co-opted by criminal organizations that are eliminating social leaders,” the official said on Wednesday.

Carrillo’s office is one of the state departments tasked with investigating the murders of at least 311 social leaders since 2016.

RELATED:
Colombia: State Agents Accused of Murdering Social Leaders

July 20, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 1 Comment

US diplomats act like imperial governors riding roughshod over sovereignty of national governments

By John Laughland | RT | July 19, 2018

On the world’s Grand Chessboard, the US is fighting for control and influence. And there are countries where its ambassadors are perceived more as imperial governors than simple channels of communication.

At the height of the Maidan protests in Kiev in early 2014, a conversation was leaked between the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, and the then-Assistant Secretary of State in the Obama administration, Victoria Nuland. The conversation gained notoriety because Nuland said to Pyatt, “F**k the EU” and the recording was almost instantly available on Youtube.

More shocking than Nuland’s bad language, however, was what the conversation was about. The US government officials were discussing how to put their men into power in Ukraine – which of the three then opposition factions would dominate, who would take the lead (Arseniy Yatsenyuk) and who would be excluded (Vladimir Klitschko).  At the time of this conversation, early February 2014, their enemy Viktor Yanukovych was still president. The leaked recording proved that the US and its Kiev embassy were actively involved in a regime change operation. The composition of the post-Maidan government corresponded exactly with US plans.

What few people knew at the time was that such levels of control over the composition of foreign governments had become standard practice for US embassies all over the world. As I could see on my very numerous travels around the Balkans in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the US ambassador was treated by the political class and the media in those countries not as the officially accredited representative of a foreign government but instead as an imperial governor whose pronunciamentos were more important than those of the national government.

This has been going on for decades, although the levels of control exercised by the United States increased as it rushed to fill the political vacuum created by the collapse of Soviet influence in Eastern Europe after 1989. In earlier times, such control, especially regime change operations, had to be conducted either covertly, as with the overthrow of Iranian prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, in 1953, or by financing and arming an anti-government militia, such as in Nicaragua and elsewhere in central and South America, or by encouraging the army itself, most famously in Chile in 1973. There is a huge body of literature on this vast subject (for the coup against Mosaddegh, see especially ‘All the Shah’s Men’ by Stephen Kinzer, 2003) and there is no possibility of denying that such operations took place. Indeed, former CIA director, James Woolsey, recently admitted that they continue to this day.

Many of the ambassadors who engineered or attempted regime change operations in Eastern Europe and the former USSR had cut their teeth in Latin America in 1980s and 1990s. One of them, Michael Kozak, former US ambassador to Belarus, even boasted in a letter to The Guardian in 2001 that he was doing the same thing in Minsk as he had done in Managua. He wrote: “As regards parallels between Nicaragua in 1989-90 and Belarus today, I plead guilty. Our objective and to some degree methodology are the same.”

Kozak did not mention that he also played a key role in the overthrow of General Noriega in Panama in 1989 but he is far from alone. The experience accumulated by the Americans during the Cold War, including in major European countries like Italy where US interference was key to preventing Communist victories in elections, spawned a whole generation of Kermit Roosevelts (the architect of the coup against Mosaddegh) who have made their careers over decades in the State Department. Some names, such as that of Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia who made no secret of his opposition to the president of the state to which he was accredited, will be familiar to RT readers.

Two years after the violent overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych, which he helped coordinate, Geoffrey Pyatt was appointed US ambassador to Greece. He remains in that post to this day – which is why some are asking whether his hand might be behind last week’s expulsion of Russian diplomats from Athens. Greece and Russia have customarily had good relations but they differ on the Macedonian issue. Now, the Greek government headed by the “pseudo-Euroskeptic” Alexis Tsipras, claims that four Russian diplomats were engaged in covert operations in Greece to lobby against forcing Macedonia to change its official name.

Like almost every other political issue these days, this relatively arcane one is regarded through the distorting prism of alleged Russian “interference“: any decision which does not consolidate the power of American-dominated supranational structures like the US or the EU is now routinely attributed to all-pervasive Russian influence, as if all dissidents were foreign agents. Western discussion of this subject now resembles the paranoia of the old Soviet regime, and of its satellites in Eastern Europe, which similarly attacked anti-Communists for being “fifth columnists” – the very phrase used by a prominent European politician last month to lambast all his enemies as Russian stooges.

US influence is suspected in this case between Greece and Macedonia because the Americans are pushing to bring the whole of the Balkan peninsula under Western control.  This has been policy for nearly thirty years – at least since the Yugoslav wars led to a US-brokered peace deal in Bosnia in 1995. In recent years the tempo has quickened, with the accession of Montenegro to NATO last year leaving only Macedonia and Serbia as missing pieces of the puzzle. The Greek victory over the name of Macedonia removes the last obstacle to that country’s accession to NATO and other “Euro-Atlantic structures” like the EU and soon only Serbia will be left. Will she last long?

One of the most notorious anecdotes of the Second World War was told by Churchill. While in Moscow in 1944, he and Stalin divided up Eastern Europe and the Balkans into spheres of influence, putting percentage figures to show the respective weight of the West and the USSR – 10:90 in Greece, 50:50 Yugoslavia, 25:75 in Bulgaria, and so on. Churchill recalls how this so-called Percentages Agreement was concluded in a few minutes, and how he scribbled a note of their verbal agreement on a piece of paper which Stalin glanced at for a second and then ticked off. Churchill wrote, “It was all settled in no more time than it takes to set down.”

Churchill then reflected that it might seem cynical to decide the fate of millions of people in such an offhand manner. Later generations have generally agreed with his self-criticism. Today’s West would certainly never conclude such an agreement – but not because of any squeamishness or lack of cynicism on its part. Instead, the West, especially the US, could not conclude any agreement because in every case the only acceptable outcome would be 100% influence for itself. That is what Geoffrey Pyatt and his colleagues spend their entire careers trying to achieve – and, to a large extent, they succeed.

John Laughland, who has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oxford and who has taught at universities in Paris and Rome, is a historian and specialist in international affairs.

July 20, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Colombian Community Mourns the Loss of Another Social Leader

teleSUR | July 17, 2018

Another Colombian social leader was reportedly murdered in the municipality of Caloto, Cauca, a national human rights network confirmed Monday.

The father of a former FARC soldier, an active participant in the Association of Pro-Constitution Workers Zones of the Caloto Campesina Reserves, Luis Eduardo Dague was a leader in his community. He assisted in founding the Carmelo of the Municipality of Caloto Cauca community and worked on the El Carmelo Action Board and various union, trade, and agricultural groups, the human rights network Francisco Isaías Cifuentes reported.

Dague’s remains were found in the El Carmelo Monday morning with marks consistent with torture across his body, face, and neck. Experts say Dague was most likely stoned or beaten to death.

According to local reports, a group of soldiers was camped on property owned by the victim near the crime scene. This is the second murder registered in Cauca this week. On Sunday, the body of Jose Bayardo Montoya was found in Miranda, also allegedly beaten to death, his skull completely crushed.

The Human Rights groups denounced the recent violence, calling on the state to act accordingly and to uphold the rights to life, liberty, personal safety, as well as physical, and psychological integrity; saying, “The necessary legal actions to determine the collective and individual responsibilities for the homicide.”

Late last week, Colombia’s inspector general, Fernando Carrillo, accused elements of the country’s police and military of collaborating with criminal organizations to assassinate human rights defenders and community leaders.

While earlier this month, demonstrations were organized in Paris, Valencia, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, London, New York, Rome and Buenos Aires to protests the violence targeting social rights leaders.

Jaime Gutierrez, of the National Confederation of Community Action, told El Espectador: “Why do they kill leaders? Because we’re against illegal mining, because it’s us who denounce the drug routes.”

Despite government promises from outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos to address the paramilitary violence, the number of fallen social leaders continues to climb with over 400 deaths since the signing of the Peace Treaty signing in November 2016.

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Colombia: State Agents Accused of Murdering Social Leaders

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment