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Ugly Canadians active in Brazil

By Yves Engler · May 23, 2018

New revelations about Brazilian military violence offer an opportunity to reflect on Canadian support for that country’s 1964 coup and how Ottawa’s policy towards our South American neighbour is similar today.

A spate of international and Brazilian media have reported on a recently uncovered memo from CIA director William Colby to then US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, detailing a meeting between president Ernesto Geisel and three Brazilian generals. At the 1974 meeting the new Brazilian president is reported to have supported extending “summary executions” of enemies of the military dictatorship. An army officer, Geisel ordered National Information Service head João Baptista Figueiredo — who would replace him as president — to authorize the executions.

While it has long been accepted that the military dictatorship was responsible for hundreds of murders — a 2014 national truth commission blamed it for 191 killings and 210 disappearances — military backers have sought to put the blame on lower level officers. But the uncovered memo clearly reveals Geisel, who was considered more moderate than other top military leaders, was directly responsible for some deaths.

Ottawa passively supported the military coup against elected President João Goulart that instituted the 1964–85 military dictatorship. “The Canadian reaction to the military coup of 1964 was careful, polite and allied with American rhetoric,” notes Brazil and Canada in the Americas. Prime Minister Lester Pearson failed to publicly condemn the ouster of Goulart.

Washington played a pivotal role in the overthrow of Brazilian democracy. At one point President Lyndon Johnson urged ambassador Lincoln Gordon to take “every step that we can” to support Goulart’s removal. In a declassified cable between Gordon and Washington, the ambassador acknowledged US involvement in “covert support for pro-democracy street rallies … and encouragement [of] democratic and anti-communist sentiment in Congress, armed forces, friendly labor and student groups, church, and business.”

Washington, Ottawa and leading segments of Brazil’s business community opposed Goulart’s Reformas de Base (basic reforms). Goulart wanted to expand suffrage by giving illiterates and low ranking military officers the vote. He also wanted to put 15% of the national income into education and to implement land reform. To pay for this the government planned to introduce a proportional income tax and greater controls on the profit transfers of multinational corporations.

As important as following Washington’s lead, Pearson’s tacit support for the coup was driven by Canadian corporate interests. Among the biggest firms in Latin America at the time, Brascan was commonly known as the “the Canadian octopus” since its tentacles reached into so many areas of Brazil’s economy. A study of the Toronto-based company that began operating in Brazil in 1899 noted, “[Brazilian Traction’s vice-president Antonio] Gallotti doesn’t hide his participation in the moves and operations that led to the coup d’état against Goulart in 1964.” After the elected government was overthrown, Brazilian Traction president Grant Glassco stated, “the new government of Brazil is … made up of men of proven competence and integrity. The President, Humberto Castello Branco, commands the respect of the entire nation.”

Overthrowing the Goulart government, which had made it more difficult for companies to export profits, was good business. After the 1964 coup the Financial Post noted “the price of Brazilian Traction common shares almost doubled overnight with the change of government from an April 1 low of $1.95 to an April 3 high of $3.60.” Between 1965 and 1974, Brascan drained Brazil of $342 million ($2 billion today). When Brascan’s Canadian president, Robert Winters, was asked why the company’s profits grew so rapidly in the late 1960s his response was simple: “The Revolution.”

As opposition to the Brazilian military regime’s rights violations grew in Canada, Ottawa downplayed the gravity of the human rights situation. In a June 1972 memo to the Canadian embassy, the Director of the Latin American Division at Foreign Affairs stated: “We have, however, done our best to avoid drawing attention to this problem [human rights violations] because we are anxious to build a vigorous and healthy relationship with Brazil. We hope that in the future these unfortunate events and publicity, which damages the Brazilian image in Canada, can be avoided.”

The military dictatorship’s assassination program has contemporary relevance. In 2016 Workers Party President Dilma Rousseff was impeached in a “soft coup” and the social democratic party’s candidate for the upcoming presidential election, Lula da Silva, was recently jailed. The night before the Supreme Court was set to determine Lula’s fate the general in charge of the army hinted at military intervention if the judges ruled in favour of the former president and election frontrunner.

While they’ve made dozens of statements criticizing Venezuela over the past two years, the Justin Trudeau government seems to have remained silent on Rousseff’s ouster, Lula’s imprisonment and persecution of the left. The only comment I found was a Global Affairs official telling Sputnik that Canada would maintain relations with Brazil after Rousseff was impeached. Since that time Canada has begun negotiating to join the Brazilian led MERCOSUR trade block (just after Venezuela was expelled).

As many Brazilians worry about their country returning to military rule, Canadians should demand their government doesn’t contribute to weakening the country’s fragile democracy.

May 25, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Maduro re-elected Venezuelan president; rival candidate challenges results

Press TV – May 21, 2018

Nicolas Maduro has been re-elected for a second term in office as Venezuela’s president in an election rejected as “illegitimate” by his main rival, who has also demanded that a repeat vote be held later this year.

With more than 90 percent of the ballots cast in Sunday’s presidential election counted, the National Election Council announced that incumbent Maduro had won another six-year term after securing 67.7 percent of the vote.

Maduro’s main challenger Henri Falcon came in second with 21.2 percent, followed by the president’s other rival, Javier Bertucci, who gained some 10 percent, said the Council’s head, Tibisay Lucena.

With the country’s mainstream opposition having boycotted the vote, the turnout was 46.1 percent, according to the board, which means 8.6 million out of the 20.5 million eligible voters took part in the election.

The ballots were recorded electronically, making the voting quick and easy. The presence of government troops around polling stations also ensured the safety of voters.

Some 150 international observers from 30 countries and international organizations were present in the Latin American country to monitor the process.

Maduro hails ‘historic’ win

When the results were released, Maduro’s supporters gathered outside his Miraflores presidential palace in downtown Caracas, celebrating his re-election with fireworks.

Maduro, surrounded by thousands of his supporters, also hailed his “popular victory,” saying, “This was a historic day! The day of a heroic victory! The day of a beautiful victory – of a truly popular victory.”

“Never before has a presidential candidate taken 68 percent of the popular vote,” he told the cheering crowd.

“The whole of Venezuela has triumphed! Democracy has triumphed! Peace has triumphed! Constitutionality has triumphed [These were] elections that were constitutional, legitimate and legal,” he said. “We have a president of the people! A working president!”

The president also called on the defeated challengers to join him for negotiations about the future of the country.

He said “permanent dialog” is needed with the entire opposition so that Venezuela could set aside political disputes.

Vote ‘lacks legitimacy’

However, before the official results were announced, Falcon said he would not recognize the vote for what he called irregularities, including widespread vote buying in favor of Maduro.

“As far as we are concerned there has been no election. There must be new elections in Venezuela,” he told reporters. “The process undoubtedly lacks legitimacy and as such we do not recognize it.”

Falcon, who broke with an opposition boycott to run for the election, also called for a fresh election to be held in November or December.

Several of Venezuela’s Latin American neighbors as well as the European Union also joined voices with Maduro’s challenger and said they would not recognize the results of the election.

They alleged that the conditions did not exist for the election to be free and fair.

However, former Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who is in Venezuela as an international observer, said he has no “doubt about the voting process.”

“It is an advanced automatic voting system. I come here to keep peace, coordinate and promote dialogue so as to improve the democratic mechanism here. What I need to do here is to see whether people can cast their ballots at their own discretion. Now we all see how people vote, don’t we?” he added.

The US also said it would not recognize the election and would actively consider oil sanctions on the country.

Washington has already imposed sanctions against Venezuela and blamed, together with its allies in the region and elsewhere, Maduro’s government for the country’s acute economic crisis.

On Saturday, the US ramped up pressure on Caracas by imposing new sanctions against the government’s top officials.

Maduro’s government, however, said the US was using new sanctions to sabotage the election.

It called Washington’s move as part of “a systematic campaign of aggression” by President Donald Trump’s administration and said they had no legal base.

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

US says won’t recognize Venezuela presidential election

Press TV – May 20, 2018

The United States government says it is not going to recognize the outcome of Venezuela’s presidential election which will be held on Sunday.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan made the announcement in a press briefing on Sunday and stressed that Washington was actively considering strict sanctions against Venezuela’s oil industry.

He also noted that the US would discuss a response to vote with its allies at the G20 meeting in the Argentinean capital Buenos Aires on Monday.

Washington has already put in place sanctions against Caracas and top Venezuelan government officials, as well as other measures to further weaken the country’s troubled economy and prevent the government and its state oil company from accessing international credit through US markets or entities.

On Friday, the US Treasury slapped sanctions against the head of the Venezuelan socialist party, Diosdado Cabello, and his wife, Marleny Josefina Contreras, who heads the country’s tourism institute, and his brother, Jose David.

Earlier in May, the administration of US President Donald Trump has slapped more sanctions against a number of Venezuelan companies and officials, accusing them of trafficking narcotics.

President Nicolas Maduro, who is running for a second six-year term in the vote, says the US has joined forces with opposition groups to topple his socialist government.

His opponents blame him for mishandling the economy and accuse him of dictatorial tendencies.

Maduro is predicted to win the Sunday election against main opposition candidate Henri Falcon.

Some opposition members have boycotted the vote, claiming it is rigged to ensure that Maduro wins a second six-year term in office.

Caracas, however, has assured the public that the election will be free and fair, saying those opposition members who refuse to participate in the election believe they have no chance to win.

May 20, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , | 2 Comments

An Urgent Call for Solidarity with Nicaragua

Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo (Rural Workers Association) | May 17, 2018

Friends in Solidarity,

We have lived a month full of tragedy in our country. The peace we achieved as a people, so fragile and at the cost of so many lives, is in immanent danger of disappearing irreparably. There are now two sizeable camps of the population with dangerously contrary positions. On one side, there is a combination of private university students, media outlets with rightwing owners representing the oligarchy, Catholic Church bishops close to Opus Dei, the private sector and, of course, the US Embassy, working together to create a situation of chaos in the country in order to remove president Daniel Ortega. This group of actors accuses the National Police of having killed dozens of protestors in the riots that reached all Nicaraguan cities, ostensibly against a reform—since revoked—to the system of social security. As we have described, the reality is more complex, and the violence was generalized and explosive, involving protestors with homemade firearms that often misfired, as well as counter-protestors, paid pickets, unknown gunmen and street gangs. The National Police was really a minor actor in the violence, using tear gas and rubber bullets to clear crowds in a few points of Managua, but not involved in the vast majority of the 50 or more deaths that have been reported since April. The InterAmerican Commission of Human Rights has been invited by the government and currently is investigating the events of April.

A national dialogue began on Wednesday, May 16th, with the participation of anti-government students, civil society organizations, and the Presidency, and mediation by the Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church led by Archbishop Leonaldo Brenes. However, the coup-like violence has only grown and currently, rightwing armed groups have all of the main highways in the country closed. On the other side of the conflict, the militancy of the Sandinista Front continues to withstand phenomenal provocations, including:

  • The destruction of its Sandinista homes (party headquarters) in dozens of cities
  • The destruction or defacement of hundreds of historic monuments, murals, and memorials of Sandinistas
  • The arson of dozens of public buildings
  • The interruption of work and the food shortages that have resulted from the road closures and violence
  • The deaths of passersby and journalists by paid pickets and violent protestors
  • Relentless false accusations and lies circulated by corporate media.

It must be added that Facebook has been the primary means for transforming Nicaraguan society that one month ago was at peace into a toxic, hate-filled nightmare. Currently, hundreds of thousands of fake Facebook profiles amplify the hatred and pressure Nicaraguan Facebook users to begin to share and post hate messages. Many, if not most, of these fake Facebook profiles have been created in countries other than Nicaragua, and in particular, Miami is the city where many of the Facebook and WhatsApp accounts behind the violence are managed.

Historically, the ATC has been a participant in the Sandinista struggle. In truth, we have not felt consulted or represented by the current FSLN government. The current coup attempt makes use of these historical contradictions and is trying to co-opt the symbols, slogans, poems and songs of Nicaragua’s Sandinista Revolution, since of course the rightwing has none of its own. However we may feel about Daniel Ortega, the ATC would never contribute to making chaos and sowing violence in order to force the collapse of the democratically elected government in order to install a more docile, Washington-friendly neoliberal government. There are clearly real frustrations in sectors of the population, especially youth, and if these sectors are unable to find popular organizing processes, they will end up being the cannon fodder for a war, which would be the worst possible situation for the Nicaraguan people.

In this context, the ATC has called for “all national actors to reorganize themselves based on their aspirations.” With this intention, the ATC proposes to confront the national crisis with a series of dialogues among young people, without party distinction or any ideological basis, in favor of peace and understanding. We propose extraordinary youth assemblies in the cities of San Marcos, Jinotepe, Rivas, Granada, Masaya, Estelí, Matagalpa, Jinotega, Juigalpa, Santo Tomás and Tipitapa, as spaces for young people to discuss the national situation and find points of unity. It is important to mention that we do not have a previously defined “line” to impose upon these debates—they will be spaces for listening, forming ideas and thinking with our hearts.

We call upon your solidarity and generous support for the creation of an emergency fund for peace in Nicaragua that makes possible this round of extraordinary youth assemblies. The national coordinators of the Rural Youth Movement, Sixto Zelaya and Marlen Sanchez, will have the responsibility of organizing the assemblies and administering the fund with absolute transparency.

It is urgent to organize the Nicaraguan family and win peace!

International Secretariat of the ATC

May 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Moscow Responds to Assertions About Illegitimacy of Voting in Venezuela

Sputnik | May 16, 2018

MOSCOW  – The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that it considers calls to disrupt voting in Venezuela’s presidential elections due May 20 to be interference in the affairs of a sovereign state.

“Assertions about the illegitimacy of the election campaign continue to be circulated, calls for disruption of the voting process are made. This… represents an undisguised interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. We call to abandon this destructive practice,” the statement said.

Moscow considers the upcoming presidential elections in Venezuela as “a possibility to return Venezuela’s political forces to the national dialogue to seek solutions required to advance the country along the path of stable economic development,” it said.

Previous week, a poll conducted by Hinterlaces and released by the Prensa Latina news agency revealed that nearly half of Venezuelan citizens intend to back incumbent President Nicolas Maduro in the upcoming presidential election.

On May 20, Venezuelans will be electing their next president. There are five candidates running for presidency: Reinaldo Quijada, an editor at the Aporrea media outlet and conservative preacher Luis Ratti are to compete alongside Maduro, Falcon and Bertucci.

May 16, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

CIA Memo: Brazil’s Dictator Geisel Authorized Extrajudicial Executions

Ernesto Geisel, President of Brazil, hosts a State Dinner for Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter. March 29, 1978 | Photo: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
teleSUR | May 13, 2018

A declassified memo from the U.S. Department of State revealed that Brazilian dictator Ernesto Geisel (1974-1979) approved summary executions of “dangerous subversive” people personally, continuing with the extrajudicial methods of his predecessors.

The document was made public back in 2015, but it wasn’t until a few days ago that Matias Spektor, an international relations professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) and a columnist at Brazilian newspaper Folha, found it as part of his research work and posted it on social media, along with a picture of Geisel and Joao Baptista Figueiredo, who later became his successor.

The document narrates a meeting between President Geisel, General Milton Tavares de Souza and General Confucio Danton de Paula Avelino, respectively outgoing and incoming chiefs of the Army Intelligence Center (CIE), along with Figueiredo, who at that time was Chief of the National Intelligence Service (SNI).

“This is the most disturbing document I’ve read in 20 years of research: Just after being sworn in, Geisel authorized the continuation of the regime’s killing policies, but it requires the Army Intelligence Center previous authorization from the Planalto Palace.”

General Milton briefed Geisel about the role of the Army Intelligence Center (CIE) against “the internal subversive target” during the presidency of Emilio Garrastazu Medici, and said that “extrajudicial methods should continue to be employed against dangerous subversives.”

He also informed Geisel that about 104 people falling under this category had been executed by the CIE in the previous year. Figueiredo supported this policy and urged Geisel to continue with it.

According to the memo, Geisel “commented on the seriousness and potentially prejudicial aspects of this policy,” and said he wanted to think about it over the weekend. He decided to go along with it, but to limit the executions to “only dangerous subversives,” and required the CIE to consult Figueiredo for approval before any execution.

The entire CIE would then be under Figueiredo’s control, blurring the line between the CIE and the SNI.

“I didn’t know Geisel had given the Planalto Palace the responsibility over summary execution decision. The government’s leadership was not only aware of the executions but also ordered them. That’s impressive, unheard of,” said Spektor.

The memo was sent by William Colby, who was then Director of Central Intelligence Agency, to then U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who also played a key role in promoting military coups against democratically elected governments in Latin America, under the subject “Decision by Brazilian President Ernesto Geisel To Continue the Summary Execution of Dangerous Subversives Under Certain Conditions” and dated April 11, 1974.

First and second paragraphs of the document (7 and 12 and a half lines) are still classified.

After the documents were picked up by Spektor, the Brazilian army stated that any classified documents that could prove Colby’s allegations of the events had been destroyed as it was stipulated by the laws of that period.

May 14, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Mexico: Mayoral Candidate of AMLO’s Party Murdered

Jose Remedios Aguirre Sanchez (L) with presidential hopeful Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. | Photo: Twitter @AvseFernando
teleSUR | May 11, 2018

Electoral campaigns in Mexico suffered another casualty on Friday with the murder of Jose Remedios Aguirre Sanchez, a mayoral candidate from the same coalition as presidential hopeful Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, commonly known as AMLO.

The 35-year-old candidate was shot dead at close range in the Ecological Park of the Apaseo el Alto. Two other people were reportedly injured. The perpetrators escaped in a white convertible Ford Mustang with a U.S. license plate, according to witnesses.

Aguirre was competing in the race for mayor in the municipality of Apaseo el Alto, in Guanajuato, with the Movement of National Regeneration (Morena) party.

Before entering the race for Apaseo el Alto’s mayor, Aguirre had served as the director of public security in the same municipality between 2012 and 2015.

Since September when electoral campaigns began around the country, over 90 candidates, politicians and officials have been violently murdered.

Aguirre was a member of the progressive Morena party that is backing the coalition of Andrez Manuel Lopez Obrador, one of the top picks for Mexico’s presidency.

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

De-Briefing Academics: Unpaid Intelligence Informants

By James Petras • Unz Review • May 1, 2018

Introduction

Over the past half-century, I have been engaged in research, lectured and worked with social movements and leftist governments in Latin America. I interviewed US officials and think tanks in Washington and New York. I have written scores of books, hundreds of professional articles and presented numerous papers at professional meetings.

In the course, of my activity I have discovered that many academics frequently engage in what government officials dub ‘de-briefing’! Academics meet and discuss their field-work, data collection, research finding, observations and personal contacts over lunch at the Embassy with US government officials or in Washington with State Department officials.

US government officials look forward to these ‘debriefings’; the academic provided useful access to information which they otherwise could not obtain from paid, intelligence agents or local collaborators.

Not all academic informants are very well placed or competent investigators. However, many provide useful insights and information especially on leftist movements, parties and leaders who are real or potential anti-imperialist adversaries.

US empire builders whether engaged in political or military activities depend on information especially regarding who to back and who to subvert; who should receive diplomatic support and who to receive financial and to military resources.

De-briefed academics identify ‘moderate’ and ‘radical’ adversaries, as well as personal and political vulnerabilities. Officials frequently exploit health problems or family needs to ‘turn’ leftists into imperial stool pigeons.

US officials are especially interested in academic gate-keepers who exclude ‘anti-imperialist’ critics, activists , politicians and government officials.

At times, US State Department officials claim to be sympathetic ‘progressives’ who oppose ‘Neanderthals’ in their institution, in order to elicit inside information from leftist academic informants.

Debriefing is a widespread practice and involves numerous academics from major universities and research centers, as well as non-governmental ‘activists’ and editors of academic journals and publications.

Academic participates in debriefing frequently do not publicize their reporting to the government. Most likely they share their reports with other academic informers. All claim they are merely sharing research and diffusing information for ‘science’ and to further ‘humane values’.

Academic informers always justify their collaboration as providing a clear and more balanced picture to ‘our’ policymakers, ignoring the predictable destructive outcomes likely to ensue.

Academics in the Service of Empire

Academic informants never study, collect research and publicize reports on US covert, overt and clandestine policies in defense of multi-nationals and Latin American elite which collaborate with empire builders.

US officials have no interest in ‘debriefing’ academics conducting anti-imperialist research.

US officials are keen to know any and all reports on ‘movements from below’: who they are, how much influence they have, their susceptibility to bribes, blackmail and invitations to the State Department, Disneyland, or the Wilson Center in D.C.

US officials fund academic research on militant trade unions, agrarian social movements, feminist and ethnic minorities engaged in class struggle, and anti-imperialist activists and leaders, as they all serve as targets for imperial repression.

The officials are also keen on academic reports on so-called ‘moderate’ collaborators who can be funded, advised and recruited to defend the empire, undermine the class struggle and split movements.

Academic informants are especially useful in providing personal and political information on Latin American leftwing intellectuals, academics, journalists, writers and critics which allows US officials to isolate, slander and boycott anti-imperialists, as well as those intellectuals who can be recruited and seduced with foundation grants and invitations to the Kennedy Center at Harvard.

When US officials have a difficult time understanding the intricacies and consequences of ideological debates and factional divisions within leftist parties or regimes, ex-leftist academic informers, who collect documents and interviews, provide detailed explanations and provide officials with a political roadmap to exploit and exacerbate divisions and to guide repressive policies, which undermine adversaries engaged in anti-imperialist and class struggle.

The State Department works hand and glove with research centers and foundations in promoting journals which eschew all mention of imperialism and ruling class exploitation; they promote ‘special issues’ on ‘class-less’ identity politics, post-modern theorizing and ethnic-racial conflicts and conciliation.

In a study of the two leading political science and sociological journals over a period of fifty years they published less than .01% on class struggle and US imperialism

Academic informants have never reported on US government links to narco-political rulers.

Academic informants do not research widespread long term Israeli collaboration with death squads in Colombia, Guatemala, Argentina and El Salvador, in cases because of their loyalties to Tel Aviv and in most cases because the State Department is not interested in debriefings which expose their allies and their joint complicity.

Academic Informants: What do they want and what do they get?

Academic informers engage in debriefing for various reasons. A few do so simply because they share the politics and ideology of the empire builders and feel it is their ‘duty’ to serve.

The great majority are established academics with ties to research centers who inform because it fattens their CV– which helps secure grants, prestigious appointments and awards.

Progressive academics who collaborate have a Janus face approach; they speak at Leftist public conferences, especially to students and in private they report to the State Department.

Many academics believe they can influence and change government policy. They seek to impress self-identified ‘progressive’ officials with their inside knowledge on how to ‘turn’ Latin critics into moderate collaborators. They invent innocuous academic categories and concepts to attract graduate students to further collaboration with imperial colleagues.

The Consequence of Academic Debriefing

Former leftist academic informers are frequently cited by the mass media as reliable and knowledgeable ‘experts’ in order to slander anti-imperialist governments, academics and critics.

Ex-leftist academics pressure rising scholars with a critical perspective to adopt ‘moderate’ reasonable critiques, to denounce and avoid anti-imperialist ‘extremists’ and to disparage them as ‘polemical ideologues’!

Academic informants in Chile helped the US Embassy identify neighborhood militants who were handed over to the secret police (DINA) during the Pinochet dictatorship.

US academic informants in Peru and Brazil provided the Embassy with research projects which identified nationalist military officials and leftist students who were subsequently purged, arrested and tortured.

In Colombia, US academic informers were active in providing reports on rural insurgent movements which led to massive repression. Academic collaborators provided detailed reports to the [US] embassy in Venezuela on the grass roots movements and political divisions among Chavista government and military officials with command of troops.

The State Department financed academics working with NGOs who identified and recruited middle class youth as street fighters, drug gangsters and the destitute to engage in violent struggles to overthrow the elected government by paralyzing the economy.

Academic reports on regime ‘violence’ and ‘authoritarianism’ served as propaganda fodder for the State Department to impose economic sanctions, impoverishing people, to foment a coup. US academic collaboraters enlisted their Latin colleagues to sign petitions urging rightwing regimes in the region to boycott Venezuela.

When academic informers are confronted with the destructive consequences of imperial advances they argue that it was not their ‘intention’; that it was not their State Department contacts who carried out the regressive policies. The more cynical claim that the government was going to do their dirty work regardless of the debriefing.

Conclusion

What is clear in virtually all known experiences is that academic informers’ de-briefings strengthened the empire-builders and complemented the deadly work of the paid professional operatives of the CIA, DEA and the National Security Agency.

May 5, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Over 100 Years Ago Chilean and British Imperialism Cut Bolivia Off From the Sea. Today, Evo Morales Could Lead the Country Back to the Coast

By Oliver L. Vargas | CounterPunch | April 27, 2018

In 1879 began the disastrous ‘War of the Pacific’, the Chilean army invaded Bolivia’s ‘Litoral’ department, leaving the poorest nation in South America landlocked. It is thought up to 18,000 Bolivians died in the war. Chile’s war on Bolivia was at every step of the way backed and armed by the British Empire as English industrialists took control of the vast natural resources of the Bolivian coastal region. These included guano, sodium, nitrate, copper where British interests established a monopoly on the export of these primary resources. Bolivia has never given up its demand to return to the coast, it still maintains a navy in preparation, the only landlocked country in the world to do so. Today the Bolivian government, under left-indigenous president Evo Morales is taking the biggest steps yet in securing a sovereign access to the sea as he takes the case to the International Court of Justice at the Hague who have already ruled against Chile’s early objections to Bolivia’s claims, a preliminary ruling is expected on April 28th. This is more than a territorial dispute, this is a political battle to roll back the hidden legacy of British imperialist interference in Latin America. It is inconceivable that Bolivia’s previous neoliberal governments could have come this far, indeed they didn’t, Bolivia’s successes are precisely because Morales’ left government is nation building for the first time, bringing natural resources under public ownership and incorporating the social movements into the structures of popular power. Those who preceded him were more interested in short sighted frenzies of privatisation than any long term state projects like this.

The war began when the Bolivian government raised taxes on the Chilean and British companies operating in Bolivia’s Litoral department. Companies such as the “Antofagasta Nitrate & Railway Company” (CSFA) refused to pay so Bolivia moved to nationalise mining interests there. Chile then unleashed a brutal war that was to last 5 years and invade huge parts of Bolivia and even Peru. Territory they still hold to this day. Behind this was a vast network of British imperial interests that had built links to sections of the Chilean oligarchy. Ever since the fall of the Spanish Empire in the Americas, Britain was quick off the blocks in establishing informal control of Latin American natural resources. Chile’s Banco Edwards was a subsidiary of the Bank of England[1], and owned by the same family as Chile’s foremost newspaper El Mercuriothat became key in drumming up popular support for the invasion and framing it as a patriotic war rather than a war for British and Chilean mining capitalists. An English businessman with the CSFA articulated Britain’s colonial approach to the conflict, “The Bolivians are getting very cocky, but with this action they’ll realise that they can’t interfere with a subject of the crown, and also, the Chileans will realise that it is in their interests to have the English at their side”. From the start of the war began an aggressive media operation in London to portray Chile as advanced and civilised, and Bolivia as backward hordes, one newspaper labeled Bolivia a “Semi-barbarous country that doesn’t know civilization”[2]. This was a textbook divide and rule strategy that the British Empire was employing all over Africa. Britain was rigidly against Simon Bolívar’s vision of a united Latin America, (‘Gran Colombia’ as he called it), Eduardo Galeano summed it up thus, “For U.S. imperialism to be able to “integrate and rule” Latin America today, it was necessary for the British Empire to help divide and rule us yesterday. An archipelago of disconnected countries came into being as a result of the frustration of our national unity.”[3]. British economic interests penetrated deep into every port city of the Americas and played off the new republics against each other whenever its interests were threatened. Britain proceeded to play a vital role in urging and sponsoring Chile’s invasion, providing it with huge supplies of arms, financing, logistical support and the political support of its press. Bolivia’s meagre forces never stood a chance.

The British backed Chilean forces overwhelmed both Bolivia and Peru. Today it is estimated that lack of access to the sea deprives Bolivia of 1.5% in economic growth annually[4], a huge amount for the region’s poorest country. For British imperial interests the outcome was everything they hoped and more, Yorkshire industrialist John Thomas North established a monopoly over the vast nitrate fields and the British linked Edwards family reaped huge rewards from the captured natural resources. These oligarchs formed a caste that wielded huge political power and plunged Chile into civil war in 1891 when the progressive president Balmaceda tried push through competition laws to break up their monopolies, the war ended in victory for the oligarchy. In some ways even Chile did not benefit from the war, they were left indebted to Britain to the tune of millions for the support they received and the natural resources fell into the hands of a tiny number of families who exported these primary materials on the cheap to the global north. Peruvian historian Enrique Amayo, in his book on British involvement in the war perhaps summed it up best in his final heading titled “Imperialist Great Britain helped Chile, but in the end Chile too became the loser”[5].

This war nearly 140 years ago is still an open wound for Bolivians and an obstacle to Latin American integration and unity. The sense of loss for Bolivia, a small nation against the might of the British Empire and Chilean sub-imperialism. Add to this, Chile’s national chauvinism gained after the war, that they are the ‘advanced’ of the region compared with their ‘backward’ and more indigenous neighbours Bolivia and Peru, the xenophobia and discrimination is still a defining experience of Andean migrants in Santiago.

What has changed since then is a transformation in Bolivian state and society since the left came to power in 2006. Bolivia’s recent diplomatic success has its roots in the fact that the left has for the first time since the 1952 revolution, begun popular nation building, so therefore it has the capacity for long term projects of state such as this. Since Morales was swept to power in 2006 by the wave of social movements that overthrew two neoliberal governments within two years, Bolivia has ‘reclaimed’ natural resources like Gas and some mining, as well as other industries that were privatised in the neoliberal period such as the national airline, telecommunications, airports and numerous manufacturing initiatives. Alongside this, the reconfiguring of the state as the ‘Plurinational State’ with a new popular constitution and the incorporation of indigenous movements and trade unions into decision making. All of this has created a cultural confidence and given Bolivia the growth and stability necessary to push on towards historic state projects like reclaiming the sea, which Morales has mobilised the social movements behind too[6]. Morales’ anti-imperialist politics also means there is real political will for the first time. Under the neoliberal administrations preceding Morales the maritime demands were mostly rhetoric, in reality attempts were made to privatise Bolivia’s natural gas reserves to foreign multinationals and export them through the Chilean ports that were conquered by force. The neoliberal period was also one of economic and political chaos that gave Bolivia hyperinflation, mass unemployment and repression, the country was nowhere near strong enough to mobilise behind a historic demand like this. To take on, in a concerted manner, the historic legacy of British Imperialism and Chilean militarism, and against Chile’s right wing billionaire president Sebastian Piñera takes political commitment that only the current government has been able to deliver. The prospects for Bolivia look their strongest ever since Salvador Allende openly supported Bolivia’s right to return, though the coup put an end to Allende’s vision, laid out in 1970, “In this plan of reparation for injustices, I’ve also resolved that our brother country Bolivia return to the sea. Ending the confinement they have faced since 1879 due to the interference of English imperialism. We cannot condemn a people to a life sentence… a people that enslave another is not free”[7]. The historical baton has been passed from Allende to Evo to finally find a solution, the Plurinational State has a fighting chance for the first time.

Notes.

[1]François Schollaert Paz,  La Guerra del Pacífico fue concebida en Londres

[2]Ibid.

[3]Galeano, ‘Open Veins of Latin America’(1997), p. 259.

[4]¿Cómo afecta a Bolivia no tener salida al mar?Telesur.

[5]Enrique Amayo, ‘La Política Británica en la Guerra del Pacífico’,

[6]COB retoma el control de Conalcam y se suma al ‘banderazo’ por el mar’, La Razón, 06.03.18

[7]Allende ofreció mar para Bolivia’, Página Siete

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Paraguay to move its embassy in Israel to Occupied Jerusalem

Palestine Information Center – April 29, 2018

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Israel Hayom newspaper on Sunday said that the Paraguayan president Horacio Cartes has pledged to transfer his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Cartes said that he would like the move to take place before he leaves office in June.

Cartes said during a ceremony held in the Paraguayan capital of Asunción to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Israel that his decision stems from both political and personal commitment.

Paraguay is the fourth country to decide to move its embassy to Occupied Jerusalem joining the Czech Republic, Guatemala and Honduras who followed the lead of the US.

Both the US and Guatemala have decided to transfer their embassies to Jerusalem in mid-May, while Honduras and the Czech Republic have not set a date yet.

On 6th December 2017 the US president Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced his intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city stirring worldwide condemnation.

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Guardian Distorts Nicaragua’s Indio Maiz Fire

teleSUR | April 14, 2018

Under the headline ‘Nicaragua fires: aid from Costa Rica rejected as blaze destroys rainforest,’ the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper has published another politically skewed report smearing Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. This time, the pretext is a devastating forest fire affecting the peripheral buffer zone of the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve. Falsely alleging that Nicaragua has rejected the offer of help from Costa Rica, the Guardian report uses the standard NATO propaganda attack recipe, blending false reports from hostile opposition media and anti-government NGOs.

The article argues that Nicaragua’s government has been negligent in protecting the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve; has not sought international help, and has deliberately facilitated invasion of the reserve by impoverished rural families seeking land.

Reality completely contradicts the report’s main assertions. The Guardian refers to a statement by the Costa Rican government saying that a unit of Costa Rican firefighters was turned away, but the Guardian report offers neither a link to the alleged statement nor any quote from it.

Here’s the Costa Rican fire service spokesman on the matter: “We are fully ready to cooperate in any other incident. From what we can see, this incident has already been controlled by the army. We were at the border and had to return. We see no problem. In the moment (we offered to help) Nicaragua they didn’t have the personnel to fight the fire; thankfully, over the last few hours, it now has the personnel to deal with this emergency and they are engaged in controlling and extinguishing the fire.”

In fact, the decision not to use the help offered by Costa Rica was taken jointly by the chiefs of the Nicaraguan and Costa Rican fire services during a meeting in Managua on April 8, when they agreed that “the realistic possibilities of controlling the fire by the firefighting services of Nicaragua and Costa Rica were limited due to the characteristics of the fire and that the effective means to control and extinguish the fire is from the air.” In any case, access to the area of the fire was impractical overland, with access being possible almost exclusively by air or sea along the region’s Caribbean coast.

Nicaragua’s Vice-President Rosario Murillo said on April 9, in relation to coordination with the director of operations of the Costa Rican Fire Fighting Service: “We have been in meetings with him all weekend, looking precisely at what is being done, the difficulty of reaching the place… There, where the fire has broken out, it’s impossible to reach with trucks or pick-ups. What’s really needed, urgently, are airplanes equipped with all the technical means to fight forest fires.”

Murillo also explained on April 10 that the Sandinista government led by President Daniel Ortega had “coordinated with Honduras, El Salvador, Panama, Mexico, the Russian Federation, the air forces of each one of these countries, requesting air resources to fight the fires.” Currently, helicopters from Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador are helping control and extinguish the fire, contradicting the impression given by the Guardian’s report that the government had not sought international help.

The Nicaraguan government has also coordinated support from U.S. authorities, with a specialist team sent from USAID’s Office of Disaster Assistance and the U.S. Forestry Service. The team leader arrived in Nicaragua on April 10. The Guardian’s April 11 report includes none of this information, which contradicts the impression that report gives by citing environmentalists calling on the government to seek international support, as if it had not already done so a week before the Guardian’s report was published.

The report quotes criticism from well-known Nicaraguan environmentalist Jaime Incer Barquero. Now in his 80s, Incer Barquero has made distinguished contributions to environmental conservation in Nicaragua. However, his pronouncements on the fire in the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve demonstrate ignorance of the measures taken by the Nicaraguan government to control the fire. The Guardian report also quotes a representative of the Fundacion Rio NGO, who noted ‘relations between the countries have not been the best’ due to a long-running border dispute. But as Costa Rica’s cooperation with Nicaragua makes clear, diplomatic relations take a back seat in the context of a major regional ecological threat like the Indio Maiz forest fire.

The Fundacion Rio NGO has solicited funds supposedly to support community authorities and firefighters in the Indio Maiz area, a function well beyond the organization’s statutory objectives. It has now been warned by the Nicaraguan government not to solicit funds for purposes it was not established to carry out: functions which are the government’s responsibility and which the government is fulfilling. The self-serving propaganda of this kind of environmentalist NGO is no doubt the basis for the Guardian’s allegation that “the fires are believed to have been started by illegal homesteaders, who were attempting to clear land for planting crops.”

In fact, the fires began in a marshland area completely unsuitable for agricultural activity, either arable farming or pasture for cattle. One of Nicaragua’s leading environmental scientists, Efrain Acuña, has dismissed the accusation that the area was set on fire so as to facilitate arable or cattle farming: “The soils in this zone do not lend themselves to those activities, among other reasons because the acidity is high, the fertility percentages for grazing are very low and so the nutritional value for cattle is insufficient.”

The Guardian quotes Gabriel Jaime of Fundacion Rio as saying that the government has encouraged rural workers and their families to encroach on land belonging mainly to the Indigenous Rama people, but gives no context to that allegation. Jaime’s solution is “removing people and telling them ‘You can’t live in a protected area.”’ Jaime also criticizes the government’s provision of health and education services in the area, as if these did not benefit the local Indigenous population. This is another example of a neocolonial NGO patronizing local Indigenous people who own their land and have a strong say in how it is used.

The same false neocolonial argument has been used to misrepresent the potential displacement of Indigenous people should Nicaragua’s interoceanic canal go ahead. The canal company HKND and the Nicaraguan authorities consulted with local Indigenous people who agreed terms for the canal’s construction across their land, but that fact has been systematically omitted or misrepresented by environmentalists in the same way as the complex issue of migration by rural workers families to areas of the Caribbean coast has been.

Western NGOs and the local organizations they fund around the world undermine the role and functions of sovereign national governments. That is why Western corporations finance them. It is also why foreign news coverage by Western corporate media systematically distorts and misrepresents the reality of events around the world. The Guardian report on the Indio Maiz forest fire categorically demonstrates that fact one more time.

April 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela Hits Back Following New Sanctions over Alleged Funding of WMD and Terrorism

By Paul Dobson | Mint Press News | April 4, 2018

Venezuelan authorities hit back at their counterparts in Panama and Switzerland this week after they approved new measures targeting Caracas.

Panama’s Economic and Finance Ministry announced this past March 27 that a warning was being issued to the Central American country’s banks advising them to limit and “diligently” supervise financial transactions involving 55 top Venezuelan officials as well as 16 private businesses allegedly associated with the Maduro government.

The list includes President Nicolas Maduro, National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena and rectors Tania D’Amelio and Socorro Hernandez, National Constituent Assembly members Diosdado Cabello and Hermann Escarra, Education Minister Elias Jaua, and Culture Minister Ernesto Villegas.

In an official statement, Panamanian authorities categorized the individuals and businesses as being “high risk in the area of money laundering, financing terrorism, and financing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” No evidence was, however, presented to support the allegations.

Venezuela possesses no nuclear weapons and is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as various other treaties banning the acquisition and development of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Similarly, many of those accused by Panama of allegedly financing terrorism belong to institutions which were themselves the objects of violent opposition attacks during last year’s anti-government protests – including the Supreme Court, the National Electoral Council, and regional government offices – which the Maduro administration has repeatedly described as “terrorism”.

Speaking Monday, Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab, who is included on Panama’s list, fired back, describing the accusations as “fake news” and calling on them to provide evidence.

“Show the accounts, my accounts for example, show where my name, my photo appears,” Saab challenged.

Penitentiary Affairs Minister Iris Varela, who also appears on the list, similarly denied the accusations and called on the Central American authorities to publish a “complete list” of all Venezuelan citizens who own assets in the country, placing special emphasis on those mentioned in the Panama Papers.

“Why don’t they do it [publish the complete list],” she questioned. “Simply because they have assets and fortunes that belong to the [Venezuelan] opposition.”

The recent measures follow close on the heels of an announcement last month that Panama will not recognise the results of Venezuela’s upcoming presidential election, mirroring steps taken by the Trump administration and other regional conservative governments in rejecting the May 20 vote.

Meanwhile, Switzerland also moved to apply sanctions against seven high-ranking Venezuelan functionaries last Wednesday, freezing their alleged assets in Swiss banks and applying travel bans.

In response, the Venezuelan government delivered an official letter of protest to the Swiss charge d’affaires Monday, calling the sanctions a violation of the UN Charter’s ban on unilateral coercive measures and charging Switzerland with “subordination” to Washington and Brussels’ hardline Venezuela policy.

“This erratic action… on the part of a historically neutral country like the Swiss Confederation does not create conditions for dialogue and strengthens extremist positions that seek violent solutions,” reads the text of the letter.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court also issued a declaration Monday rejecting the moves as “illegal”. Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno was named in both Swiss and Panamanian measures.

The latest international actions targeting Venezuela have, however, won praise from members the country’s right-wing opposition, including Popular Will party Political Coordinator Carlos Vecchio, who applauded the Panama measures as “the right path at this stage”.

Vecchio is currently in Paris meeting with center-right French President Emmanuel Macron as part of a European tour aimed at drumming up support for more sanctions against Caracas.

During the meeting Tuesday, Vecchio, together with First Justice party leader Julio Borges and ex-Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma – who is currently fleeing the Venezuelan justice system – called on Macron’s government to apply “more sanctions” against Venezuela and to “halt Petro, gold, and capital legitimation operations,” referring to the South American country’s new crypto-currency. They also urged the French president and other European leaders “not to dialogue” with Caracas.

Translation | We propose to the government of France to support Humanitarian Intervention, criminal court trial, more sanctions, stop operations with Petro, gold and legitimation of capital to get out of the dictatorship that oppresses our people. and Disregard electoral fraud. With a dictatorship there is no dialogue

Opposition presidential frontrunner Henri Falcon, who defied the main opposition in launching his candidacy and has opposed economic sanctions in the past, has yet to issue a public statement with regard to the latest measures from Panama and Switzerland.

So far, only the US and the UK have approved economic sanctions against Caracas, while Canada and the European Union have rolled out sanctions against top Venezuelan officials

International sanctions against Venezuela have been denounced by the UN Human Rights Council as well as by UN Independent Expert Alfred de Zayas, who labeled the US-led measures “crimes against humanity” and called for the International Court of Justice to investigate.

According to Datanalisis, 55.6 percent of Venezuelans oppose economic sanctions against their country, while just 42 percent support individual sanctions targeting top officials.

Edited and with additional reporting by Lucas Koerner from Caracas.

April 7, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment