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NYT Acknowledges Coup in Bolivia—While Shirking Blame for Its Supporting Role

If the New York Times (6/7/20) has had second thoughts about its coverage of the 2019 Bolivian election and subsequent coup, it hasn’t shared them with its readers.
By Camila Escalante with Brian Mier | FAIR | July 8, 2020

The New York Times (6/7/20) declared that an Organization of American States (OAS) report alleging fraud in the 2019 Bolivian presidential elections—which was used as justification for a bloody, authoritarian coup d’etat in November 2019—was fundamentally flawed.

The Times reported the findings of a new study by independent researchers; the Times brags of contributing to it by sharing data it “obtained from Bolivian electoral authorities,” though this data has been publicly available since before the 2019 coup.

The article never uses the word “coup”—it says that President Evo Morales was “push[ed]…from power with military support”—but it does acknowledge that “seven months after Mr. Morales’s downfall, Bolivia has no elected government and no official election date”:

A staunchly right-wing caretaker government, led by Jeanine Añez… has not yet fulfilled its mandate to oversee swift new elections. The new government has persecuted the former president’s supporters, stifled dissent and worked to cement its hold on power.

“Thank God for the New York Times for letting us know,” must think at least some casual readers, who trust the paper’s regular criticism of rising authoritarianism within the US—perhaps adding, “Well, I guess it’s too late to do anything about Bolivia now.”

The fact is, the Times has been patting itself on the back for acknowledging authoritarianism in neofascist regimes that it helped normalize in Latin America for at least 50 years. The only surprise to readers who are aware of this ugly truth is that this time it took so long.

It only took the Times 15 days and the arrest of 20,000 leftists, for example, to counter nine articles supportive of the April 1, 1964, Brazilian military coup (Social Science Journal, 1/97) with a warning (4/16/64) that “Brazil now has an authoritarian military government. ” As was the case with Brazil in 1964, recognizing that Bolivia has now succumbed to authoritarianism may help the New York Times’ image with progressive readers, but it doesn’t do anything for the oppressed citizens of the countries involved.

While the coup was unfolding, and when Northern solidarity for Bolivia’s Movement for Socialism government (MAS in Spanish) might have helped avert disaster, the New York Times was whistling a different tune. The day after Morales’ re-election (10/21/19), it portrayed the paramilitary putschists who were carrying out violent threats against elected officials and their families as victims of repressive police actions perpetrated by the socialist government. “Opponents of Mr. Morales angrily charged ‘fraud, fraud!’” read the post-election article:

Heavily armed police officers were deployed to the streets, where they clashed with demonstrators on Monday night, according to television news reports.

One day after Morales was removed from power, the Times (11/11/19) engaged in victim-blaming, with a news analysis headlined ‘This Will Be Forever’: How the Ambitions of Evo Morales Contributed to His Fall.” The first Indigenous president in Latin American history was not being deposed illegally, after winning a fair election, by groups of armed paramilitary thugs, amid threats of murder and rape to his family members, the Times implied; rather, he was being brought down due to his own character faults as a Machiavellian back-stabber.

I arrived in Bolivia on November 13, 2019, shortly after Jeanine Añez’ unconstitutional swearing in as unelected, interim president, on a cartoonishly oversized Bible. I was there as a reporter for MintPress News and teleSUR, and two of the active sites I reported from were in the most militantly MAS-dense areas: In Sacaba, where the coup regime’s first massacre took place on November 15, and in El Alto, where the Senkata massacre took place on November 19.

The third, and most extensively covered, resistance to the coup was in the heart of the city of La Paz, where daily protests were staged. Beyond these major conflict areas, there were large mobilizations in Norte Potosí, the rural provinces of the department of La Paz, Zona Sud of Cochabamba, Yapacani and San Julian. The vast majorities within all rural areas across the country were also in deep resistance to the coup.

The November coup represented the ousting of a government deeply embedded in the country’s Indigenous campesino and worker movements, by internal colonial-imperialist actors, led in large part by Bolivia’s fascist and neoliberal opposition sectors, most notably Luis Fernando Camacho and Carlos Mesa, who received ample support from the US government and the far-right Bolsonaro administration of Brazil. The Indigenous and social movement bases resisting the coup were deeply distrusting of Bolivian media, which they immediately deemed as having played a key role in it.

Those same groups that were hostile towards major Bolivian news networks and journalists lined up to be heard by myself and those who accompanied me, once they recognized my teleSUR press credentials. One woman attending a cabildo (mass meeting) of the Fejuves (neighborhood organizations) of El Alto detailed how her workplace, Bolivia TV, had been attacked by right-wing mobs as the coup authorities got rid of those deemed sympathizers of the constitutional government, replacing them by force almost immediately.

Indigenous Bolivian communities were at the very forefront of the protests and resistance actions against the coup, namely the blocking of key highways and roads, as in the case of Norte Potosí, the blocking of the YPFB gas plant in Senkata, and 24-hour camps blocking the entry to the Chapare province. La Paz was militarized, making it impossible to get near Plaza Murillo, the site of the Presidential Palace and the Congress. I witnessed daily violent repression by security forces against those who gathered in protest near the perimeter of the Plaza, including unions and groups such as the Bartolina Sisa Confederation, a nationwide organization of Indigenous and campesina women, and the highly organized neighborhood associations of El Alto.

One might think this kind of grassroots, pro-democracy mobilization coordinated by working-class people against an authoritarian takeover would be the type of thing the New York Times would applaud. After all, it ran over 100 articles championing Hong Kong’s protesters in the last six months of 2019 alone.

Anatoly Kurmanaev, author of this New York Times piece (12/5/19) that ignored real-time critiques of the OAS’s complaints about the Bolivian election, was a co-author of the piece (6/7/20) acknowledging that some have “second thoughts” about the OAS attacks on Evo Morales.

As resistance grew on the streets of Bolivia, however, the New York Times only continued the  rationalization of the unconstitutional, authoritarian taking of power, using the now-discredited OAS report to do so.

“Election Fraud Aided Evo Morales, International Panel Concludes,” read a December 5 article—one of several the paper ran discrediting the democratic electoral process. Like the others, it failed to challenge dubious claims by the right-wing coalition in charge of the OAS—which received $68 million, or 44% of its budget, from the Trump administration in 2017—that Evo Morales was elected via “lies, manipulation and forgery to ensure his victory.”

A newspaper that prides itself on showing the full picture could have cited the debunking of the OAS study conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), an organization with two Nobel Laureate economists on its board, whose co-director Mark Weisbrot has written over 20 op-ed pieces for the New York Times. Even before the coup, CEPR (11/8/19) published an analysis of the Bolivian vote that concluded, “Neither the OAS mission nor any other party has demonstrated that there were widespread or systematic irregularities in the elections of October 20, 2019.”

The fatal flaws in the report the OAS used to subvert a member government, long obvious, are now undeniable even to the New York Times. But the paper still hasn’t acknowledged, let alone apologized for, the credulous reporting that gave it a leading role in bringing down an elected president and the violence that followed.

July 11, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Bolivia’s Struggle to Restore Democracy after OAS Instigated Coup

By Frederick B. Mills, Rita Jill Clark-Gollub, Alina Duarte | Council on Hemispheric Affairs | July 9, 2020

On October 21, 2019, the Organization of American States (OAS) issued a fateful communique on the presidential elections in Bolivia: “The OAS Mission expresses its deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results revealed after the closing of the polls.”[1] The mission’s report came in a highly polarized political context. Rather than wait for a careful and fair-minded analysis of the election results, it raised unsubstantiated doubts about the legitimacy of President Evo Morales’ lead as some of the later vote tallies were being reported. This was a bombshell report  at a time when it appeared that Morales had garnered a sufficient margin of victory over his right wing opponent, Carlos Mesa, to avoid a runoff election.

The manufactured electoral fraud was quickly debunked by experts in the field. Detailed analyses of the election results were conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)[2] and Walter R. Mebane, Jr., professor of Political Science and Statistics at the University of Michigan in early November 2019.[3]  These were later corroborated by researchers at MIT’s Election Data and Science Lab[4] and more recently by an article published by the New York Times[5] featuring the study of three academics: Nicolás Idrobo (University of Pennsylvania), Dorothy Kronick (University of Pennsylvania), and Francisco Rodríguez (Tulane University)[6].

All of these professional and academic analyses found the charges of fraud by the OAS to have been unfounded.

The OAS electoral mission, however, had already poisoned the well. The false narrative of electoral fraud gave ammunition to anti-Bolivarian forces in the OAS and the right wing opposition inside Bolivia to contest the outcome of the election and go on the offensive against Morales and his party, the Movement Towards Socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS). During a three-week period, a right wing coalition led protests over the alleged electoral fraud, while pro-government counter protesters defended the constitutional government. The military and police cracked down on the pro-Morales protesters, while showing sympathy for right wing demonstrators. Then, on November 10, 2019, in its “Electoral integrity analysis,” the OAS doubled down on its dubious claims, impugning “the integrity of the results of the election on October 20, 2019.”[7]

The track record of the OAS electoral mission, which was invited to observe and assess the election by the Bolivian government of Evo Morales, had already been stained by its 2015 debacle in Haiti.[8] In the case of Bolivia, the mission politicized election results and set the stage for murder by a coup regime. It appears that there is not much political daylight between the judgment of the OAS electoral commission and the rabidly anti-Bolivarian OAS Secretary, Luis Almagro. Far from finding that the coup against Morales constituted a breach in the democratic order of Bolivia, the OAS simply exploited its position as arbiter of the election to rally behind the right wing coup leaders.

Morales resigns and a “de facto” right wing regime unleashes a wave of repression

Despite the relentless drive by Washington against Bolivarian governments in the region, President Morales was apparently unprepared for the disloyalty within his security forces and he was caught off guard by the OAS propensity to serve US interests in the region. MAS activists, legislators, union activists, Indigenous organizations, and social movement activists, however, continued to resist the coup even as they faced arrest and violence from the de facto regime.

The coup forces exercised extreme violence against authorities of the Morales’ administration and MAS legislators (the majority of Congress). Several houses were burned down and some relatives of authorities were kidnapped and injured, all with total impunity and without protection by the security forces.[9]

With the OAS-instigated coup gaining traction within the security forces and police, as well as Morales’ political adversaries, the President chose the path of accommodation. He offered to reconstitute the electoral authority and hold fresh elections. This concession to OAS authority was met by calls from the police and military for his resignation. Rather than launch a campaign of resistance from the MAS stronghold of Chapare, Morales resigned his post, opting for exile in an unsuccessful bid to avoid further bloodshed. Jeanine Áñez, an opposition party senator with Plan Progreso para Bolivia Convergencia Nacional, proclaimed herself President after the resignation of Senate President Adriana Salvatierra, who refused to legitimize the coup with an unjustified “succession.”[10]

The scenes in the streets of Cochabamba turned ugly. It was a field day for racist attacks on the majority Indigenous population. The Indigenous flag–the wiphala–was burned in the streets, and much fanfare was made when Áñez, surrounded by right wing legislators, held up a large leather bible and declared, “The Bible has returned to the palace.” Such attempts to resubordinate Bolivia’s plurinational heritage were met with widespread resistance.

Workers of all industries and sectors continue protests against Áñez and to protect social rights created under Morales’s government (photo credit: MAS-IPSP, http://www.masipsp.bo).

After thirteen years of impressive economic growth, poverty reduction, recovery of the nation’s natural resources, and the inclusion of formerly marginalized sectors in the political life of the country under the leadership of President Evo Morales, Bolivia  had now suffered an enormous blow to the liberatory project of the 2009 Constitution. But the coup fit perfectly into the US-OAS drive to recolonize the Americas.

Secretary General Luis Almagro, who would never let an opportunity to attack the Bolivarian cause go to waste, immediately recognized self-proclaimed President, Senator Jeanine  Áñez, adding yet one more crime to the long list from his shameful tenure at the OAS.[11] At a special meeting of the OAS on November 12, 2020 Almagro declared, “There was a coup in the State of Bolivia; it happened when an electoral fraud gave the triumph to Evo Morales in the first round.”[12]

During the meeting, 14 member states of the OAS (Argentina, Brasil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the US, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru) and the unelected US-backed shadow government of Venezuela called for new elections in Bolivia “as soon as possible,” while Mexico, Uruguay and Nicaragua warned against the precedent being set by the “coup” against Evo Morales. The ambassador of Mexico to the OAS, Luz Elena Baños, described the coup against Morales as “a serious breach in the constitutional order by means of a coup d’etat,” adding “the painful days when the Armed Forces sustained and deposed governments ought to remain in the past.” [13] The Trump administration echoed Almagro’s declaration and moved quickly to endorse what was now a “de facto” government.[14] The OAS was now at the service of two unelected, US-backed, self-proclaimed presidents (Juan Guaidó for Venezuela and Jeanine Áñez for Bolivia).

What followed was the brutal repression of widespread protests amid grass roots clamor for the return of President Morales,[15] who, from his exile in Mexico and later Argentina, still held great clout among rank and file MAS militants and the popular movements. The  horrific massacre in Sacaba, on November 15, followed by a massacre in Senkata, on November 19, carried out by the security forces, exposes the coup regime to future prosecution for crimes against humanity.[16] Rather than pacify the country, the repression only galvanized the MAS, which still held a majority in the legislature, as well as the peasant unions and grassroots organizations in their struggle to restore Bolivian democracy. There was indeed a coup, but it had not and still has not been consolidated.

New elections could be compromised by lawfare

Today, Bolivia stands at a crossroads. In June 2020, popular calls were mounting for new elections and the restoration of democracy, despite the ongoing repression. In response to this pressure, on June 22,  Áñez signed off on legislation to hold new elections in September. Former president Carlos Mesa (2003-2005) of the right wing Citizens Community Party would face off against the MAS  candidate, former Minister of Finance  (2006-2019), Luis Arce. Áñez’s decision drew the ire of Minister of Government, Arturo Murillo, who characterizes the most popular political party in the country as narco-terrorist. Murillo even threatened MAS legislators with arrest if they refused to approve promotions for the very military officials responsible for the repression.[17]

Should democratic elections prevail, recent polls do not look good for the “de facto” regime. In a poll taken by CELAG between June 13 and July 3, the MAS candidate, Luis Arce, leads with 41.9% support, followed by Carlos Mesa, with 26.8%, and Áñez, with 13.3%.[18]

Luis Arce, from the MAS party, leads the presidential race in Bolivia (Source: CELAG, https://www.celag.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/panorama-politico-y-social-bolivia-web-2.pdf)

Although Áñez initially said she would not run for president,[19] she later decided to do so even over the objections of her fellow opposition members.[20] The latter said that this went against her purported objective of only serving as a transition government until new elections could be held—initially on May 3, but later canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only was Áñez never a favorite in the polls, her de facto government has been unrelenting in its attempts to persecute the MAS and kick it out of the race.

On March 30 a government oversight agency (Gestora Pública de Seguridad Social de Largo Plazo) filed formal charges against MAS presidential candidate Luis Arce for “economic damages to the State” while he was Minister of Finance. According to the Bolivian Information Agency, his alleged crimes are linked to the contracting of two foreign companies to provide software for the administration of the national pension system.[21]

The charges state that the previous administration paid US$3 million as an advance for a contract valued at US$5.1 million to the Panamanian company Sysde International Inc. However, said company never delivered the software. Consequently, the MAS administration contracted the Colombian company Heinsohn Business Technology for US$10.4 million, on top of which payments were to be made of US$1.6 million annually for the license and source code.

Luis Arce responded to the charges during a press conference,[22] stating that during his tenure, “We entered into a contract for a system and the company failed us, so we filed suit against the company.” But he stressed that the charges simply seek to disqualify the MAS to prevent the party from participating in the presidential election.

Evo Morales took to Twitter to say, “The imminent electoral defeat of the de facto government is leading it to trump up new charges against the MAS-IPSP every day. Now, as we have denounced, they have filed charges based on false conjecture against our candidate to ban him from running for office because he is leading in the polls.”[23]

On July 6, the Attorney General of Bolivia charged Evo Morales himself. The charges are terrorism and financing of terrorism coordinated from exile, and preventive detention has been requested.  This is a rehashing of similar charges brought last November, charges denied by Morales.[24]

The persecution against the overthrown government has not stopped. Seven former officials remain asylees at the Mexican Embassy in La Paz: the former Minister of the Presidency, Juan Ramón Quintana Taborga; the former Minister of Defense, Javier Zavaleta; the former government minister, Hugo Moldiz Mercado; the former Minister of Justice, Héctor Arce Zaconeta; the former Minister of Cultures, Wilma Alanoca Mamani; the former governor of the Department of Oruro, Víctor Hugo Vásquez; and the former director of the Information Technology Agency, Nicolás Laguna.

The current Minister of Government, Arturo Murillo, affirmed upon assuming power that the authorities of the constitutional government of Evo Morales would be “hunted” and imprisoned before any arrest warrant was issued.[25] And now, eight months after the coup d’etat, the de facto government has refused to deliver safeguards to the asylum seekers at the embassy even though Bolivia and Mexico are parties to the American Convention on Human Rights, which in its article 22 establishes the right to seek and receive asylum[26].

Calls for free and fair elections without subversion by the OAS

The consequences of the OAS’ bad faith monitoring of the 2019 Bolivian election cannot be overstated. Not only were lives lost in the chaos and violence spurred by the statements of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission, which also resulted in scores of injuries and detentions. But the de facto regime continues its reign of terror, even repressing people protesting hunger during the pandemic lockdown,[27] while it dismantles the extensive social programs put into place during the years of MAS government.[28] Despite the repression, grassroots social movements in Bolivia, most notably peasant and Indigenous women who have bravely withstood attacks by the de facto regime, continue to insist on true democracy. They are inspired by the 2009 Constitution creating the Plurinational State, with its promise of a “democratic, productive, peace-loving and peaceful Bolivia, committed to the full development and free determination of the peoples.”[29]

Indigenous women have been at the forefront of the fight to restore democracy in Bolivia (photo credit: MAS-IPSP, http://www.masipsp.bo).

On July 8, the MAS-IPSP “categorically” rejected the participation of an OAS electoral mission for the September presidential election, on account of their responsibility for the coup against the constitutional government.[30] The communique declared that “it is not ethical for [the OAS electoral mission] to participate again for having been part of and complicit with a coup against the democracy and  Social State of Constitutional Law of Bolivia”, and “that [the OAS] is not an impartial organization to defend and guarantee peace, democracy and transparency, but rather a sponsor of petty interests that are foreign to the democratic will of the Bolivian people.” [31]

Bolivia is at a crossroads.  Will the de facto regime of Jeanine Áñez, having completed a coup and in command of the security forces, allow a return to democratic procedures to resolve political differences? Or will she join her Minister of Government, Arturo Murillo, in seeking to undermine, through political persecution and lawfare, any chance that the MAS ticket will be on the ballot, let alone allow free elections to take place?

The condemnation of the coup by Mexico, Nicaragua and Uruguay on November 12 was just the start of international solidarity with the call for a return to democracy in Bolivia. On November 21, 31 US organizations denounced “the civic-military coup in Bolivia.” [32] On June 29, 2020 the Grupo de Puebla, a forum that convenes former presidents, intellectuals, and progressive leaders of the Americas, released a statement condemning the actions of the OAS. “The Puebla Group considers that what happened in Bolivia casts serious doubts on the role of the OAS as an impartial electoral observer in the future.”[33] The international community can honor the clamour for free and fair elections in Bolivia by condemning the de facto regime’s use of political persecution and lawfare, supporting democratic elections in September, and rejecting any further  role of the OAS in monitoring elections in the Americas.

Patricio Zamorano provided editorial support and research for this article.
Translations from Spanish to English are by the authors.

Luis Arce, presidential candidate, and David Choquehuanca, running for the vice-presidency. They lead all surveys so far (photo credit: MAS-IPSP, http://www.masipsp.bo/).

End notes

[1] “Statement of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Bolivia,” https://www.oas.org/en/media_center/press_release.asp?sCodigo=E-085/19

[2] “What Happened in Bolivia’s 2019 Vote Count?” https://cepr.net/report/bolivia-elections-2019-11/

[3] “Evidence Against Fraudulent Votes Being Decisive in the Bolivia Election,”  http://www-personal.umich.edu/~wmebane/Bolivia2019.pdf

[4] “Bolivia dismissed its October elections as fraudulent. Our research found no reason to suspect fraud,” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/26/bolivia-dismissed-its-october-elections-fraudulent-our-research-found-no-reason-suspect-fraud/

[5] “New York Times Admits Key Falsehoods that Drove Last Year’s Coup in Bolivia: Falsehoods Peddled by the US, its Media, and the Times,” https://theintercept.com/2020/06/08/the-nyt-admits-key-falsehoods-that-drove-last-years-coup-in-bolivia-falsehoods-peddled-by-the-u-s-its-media-and-the-nyt/. See also the study by CELAG, “Sobre la OEA y las elecciones en Bolivia”, (Nov. 19, 2019). CELAG conducted a study of both the OAS report and CEPR’s analysis and concluded: “The findings of the analysis allow us to affirm that the preliminary report of the OAS does not provide any evidence that could be definitive to demonstrate the alleged “fraud” alluded to by Secretary General, Luis Almagro, at the Permanent Council meeting held on November 12 . On the contrary, instead of sticking to a technically grounded electoral audit, the OAS produced a questionable report to induce a false deduction in public opinion: that the increase in the gap in favor of Evo Morales in the final section of the count was expanding by fraudulent causes and not by the sociopolitical characteristics and the dynamics of electoral behavior that occur between the rural and urban world in Bolivia.” https://www.celag.org/sobre-la-oea-y-las-elecciones-en-bolivia/

[6] “Do Shifts in Late-Counted Votes Signal Fraud? Evidence From Bolivia,” https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3621475

[7] “Preliminary Findings Report to the General Secretariat,” http://www.oas.org/documents/eng/press/Electoral-Integrity-Analysis-Bolivia2019.pdf

[8] “Elections in Haiti pose post-electoral crisis, by Clément Doleac and  Sabrina Hervé, Dec. 10, 2015. COHA. https://www.coha.org/elections-in-haiti-pose-post-electoral-crisis/

[9] “El Grupo de Puebla rechazó el golpe contra Evo Morales y se solidarizó con el pueblo boliviano,” https://www.infonews.com/el-grupo-puebla-rechazo-el-golpe-contra-evo-morales-y-se-solidarizo-el-pueblo-boliviano-n281357

[10] “Salvatierra: Mi renuncia fue coordinada con Evo y Alvaro,” https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.paginasiete.bo/nacional/2020/1/24/salvatierra-mi-renuncia-fue-coordinada-con-evo-alvaro-244454.html&sa=D&ust=1593696030403000&usg=AFQjCNE_kAMqtAOBGCXdjJV5nkBsfQEWPQ

[11] “Almagro: Evo Morales fue quien cometió un “golpe de Estado,” DW. https://www.dw.com/es/almagro-evo-morales-fue-quien-cometi%C3%B3-un-golpe-de-estado/a-51218739

[12] https://twitter.com/oas_official/status/1194389549037830145?lang=en

[13] “La OEA y la crisis en Bolivia: un choque de relatos irreconciliables”, EFE, Nov. 12, 2019. https://www.efe.com/efe/usa/politica/la-oea-y-crisis-en-bolivia-un-choque-de-relatos-irreconciliables/50000105-4109588

[14] “Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding the Resignation of Bolivian President Evo Morales,” https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-president-donald-j-trump-regarding-resignation-bolivian-president-evo-morales/

[15] “With the Right-wing coup in Bolivia nearly complete, the junta is hunting down the last remaining dissidents,” https://thegrayzone.com/2019/11/27/right-wing-coup-bolivia-complete-junta-hunting-dissidents/

[16] “Brutal Repression in Cochabamba, Bolivia: So far nine killed, scores wounded,” COHA.  https://www.coha.org/brutal-repression-in-cochabamba-bolivia-november-15-2019/

[17] “Bolivian regime threatens to imprison lawmakers, officials,” https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Bolivian-Regime-Threatens-to-Imprison-Lawmakers-Officials-20200524-0004.html

[18] “Encuesta Bolivia, July 2020”, CELAG, https://www.celag.org/encuesta-bolivia-julio-2020/

[19] “Evo Morales busca un candidato y Añez dice que no participará en elecciones”, https://www.lavoz.com.ar/mundo/evo-morales-busca-un-candidato-y-anez-dice-que-no-participara-en-elecciones

[20] “A Jeanine Añez hasta los aliados le critican su candidatura”, https://www.pagina12.com.ar/244221-a-jeanine-anez-hasta-los-aliados-le-critican-su-candidatura

[21] Gestora Pública denuncia formalmente al exministro Luis Arce por daño económico al Estado” https://www1.abi.bo/abi_/?i=452014

[22] “Luis Arce asegura que la denuncia en su contra busca inhabilitar su participación en las elecciones”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DYvPUk643w

[23] “Fiscalía boliviana acusa de terrorismo a Evo Morales.” https://www.eltiempo.com/mundo/latinoamerica/fiscalia-boliviana-acusa-de-terrorismo-a-evo-morales-515054

[24] “Fiscalía boliviana acusa a Morales de terrorismo y pide su arresto,” https://www.hispantv.com/noticias/bolivia/470654/anez-morales-terrorismo-detencion

[25] “¿Quién es Arturo Murillo?”, https://www.pagina12.com.ar/239232-quien-es-arturo-murillo

[26] “American Convention on Human Rights,” https://www.cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic3.american%20convention.htm

[27] “Valiente resistencia en K’ara K’ara enfrenta represión policial y militar”, https://www.laizquierdadiario.com/Valiente-resistencia-en-K-ara-K-ara-enfrenta-represion-policial-y-militar

[28] “Bolivia’s Coup President has Unleashed a Campaign of Terror,” https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/05/bolivia-coup-jeanine-anez-evo-morales-mas

[29] “Bolivia (Plurinational State of) Constitution of 2009,” https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Bolivia_2009.pdf

[30] MAS-IPSP tweet, July 8, rejecting OAS mission for September elections.

[31] “El MAS rechaza observadores de la OEA en elecciones bolivianas,” July 9, Telesur. https://www.telesurtv.net/news/bolivia-movimiento-socialismo-rechazo-observadores-oea-20200709-0002.html

[32] “31 US organizations denounce the brutal repression in Bolivia,” COHA. https://www.coha.org/31-us-organizations-denounce-the-brutal-repression-in-bolivia/

[33] ttps://www.telesurtv.net/news/grupo-puebla-rechaza-oea-observador-internacional-20200629-0085.html

July 11, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 2 Comments

US plans to invade Venezuela through Colombia

By Lucas Leiroz | July 10, 2020

Colombia is under a pro-Washington government. The country’s current president, Iván Duque Márquez, has been noted for a series of policies of alignment with the United States, continuing the legacy of his predecessor, former president Juan Manuel Santos, who has made Colombia a NATO “global partner”, allowing the country to participate in joint military operations of the Western military alliance. In general, the long scenario of crises and tensions in Colombia, marked by drug trafficking and the conflict between criminal factions and rebel parties, has driven its governments towards a policy of alignment with Washington in exchange for security, which has increased in recent years.

However, not all Colombian politicians approve these measures. Recently, the leftist senator Iván Cepeda asked Colombian Congressional President Lidio García to convene a session to investigate and legally control the government in its collaboration with the constant arrival of American soldiers in the country. According to Cepeda, the presence of these military personnel is hostile to Colombia, deeply affecting the maintenance of national sovereignty.

Cepeda claims that the government should consult the National Congress before allowing the American military to arrive. A recent decision by the Supreme Court of Cundinamarca proved Cepeda right. According to the judges of the Court, the unilateral decision to allow the entry of foreign troops violates the Colombian National Constitution, and the Executive Branch must previously submit the matter to the Congress. For this reason, the Court asked the government to send information about the joint operations in progress, with the aim of clarifying the reason for the arrival of American troops. The deadline for sending the report was July 6 and was not met by the government – which claims it will appeal the decision. Due to the non-compliance, Cepeda filed a request for the establishment of a special congressional session.

The exact number of US military personnel in the country is uncertain, which further raises suspicions about the case. Some sources say there are more than 800 Americans, while others say they are between 50 and 60 military personnel. No official note was given by the government to explain the reasons and the exact number of soldiers. On the other hand, the American Embassy in Colombia, under pressure, commented on the case, giving an unsatisfactory answer. According to American diplomats, military personnel are arriving in Colombia to carry out joint operations to combat drug trafficking. Apparently, these operations would aim to carry out a siege against Venezuela and Nicolás Maduro, who, according to Donald Trump, has links with drug trafficking in the region. It is important to remember that Trump’s accusations against Maduro were never substantiated nor has any evidence been provided of such links between the Venezuelan president and drug trafficking.

Recently, Colombian mercenaries invaded Venezuela by sea in American vessels. Venezuelan security forces neutralized the attack, but since then it has become clear that Colombia is willing to collaborate with the US to overthrow the government of Nicolás Maduro. Apparently, therefore, American troops arriving in the country are preparing for a next step in this old American project to occupy Venezuela.

The justification that the Venezuelan government has links with drug trafficking becomes even more curious when the American ally is precisely Colombia, a state that historically has structural links with organized crime and the illegal drug trade in South America, being considered by experts in the whole world as a true narco-state. Likewise, the United States is not innocent of scandals involving international trafficking. The CIA has repeatedly been accused of collaborating with criminal networks worldwide. The American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 guaranteed to the US the complete control of opium production in the region. In Mexico, in exchange for information and resources, American intelligence has collaborated several times with the activities of the so-called Guadalajara Cartel. Still, for years, American intelligence collaborated with Panamanian general Manuel Noriega, who has been publicly involved in drug trafficking since the 1960s, in exchange for military support against guerrillas in Nicaragua.

In fact, we can see that drug trafficking is a flawed and inconsistent justification for an invasion against Venezuela. Colombia and the United States have much more credible and notorious evidence of drug trafficking and are precisely the countries articulating this operation. We can imagine the real reasons behind this: unable to maintain its global hegemony, Washington desperately tries to guarantee its power in Latin America, and, for that, it tries to overthrow Maduro; Colombia provides support to the US in exchange for a mask for its own criminal activities, carried out in collusion by the government and criminal networks of drug trafficking groups – such activities will be falsely attributed to Maduro.

Anyway, what seems clear now is that the US plans to invade Venezuela through Colombia.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

July 10, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Pattern’ of Abuse by Colombian Soldiers Raises Questions Over US’ Continued Funding for Forces

Sputnik – July 7, 2020

The rapes of two young, Indigenous girls by soldiers in rural Colombia have shed light on the role that the US plays in expanding and training the Colombian military, two activists told Sputnik.

Nathalie Hrizi, an educator, a political activist and the editor of Breaking the Chains, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear on Tuesday that the sexual assaults of the two minors highlight a continued pattern of abuse at the hands of Colombian service members.

“Essentially, these two rapes have raised attention to what is a pattern in Colombia and a pattern associated with the human rights abuses and violations of the Colombian military,” Hrizi told show host Nicole Roussell.

“And so there have been protests … really, the Indengenous community are those that have been organizing.”

One of the assaults involved an 11-year-old girl from Colombia’s Embera tribe and has since seen seven soldiers from an army garrison in western Colombia arrested after admitting to the minor’s abduction and rape.

The second case was revealed in recent weeks by the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation, a Colombian think tank, which detailed the September 2019 abduction and repeated rape of a 15-year-old from the country’s Nukak Maku tribe. Both assaults have led to widespread protests across Colombia.

Speaking to Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear on Tuesday, Hrizi explained that the Embera tribe is located in an autonomous territory near a military station.

“That rape has been really, in the eyes of the public, connected to another rape that happened in September to another Indigenous girl in a different area. She’s a 15-year-old girl in the Guaviare area,” Hrizi explained.

“On September 8, soldiers abducted her, and they kept her for five days … they raped her and denied her food and water … that has not really received any real widespread acknowledgment until more recently because of the way the Colombian military is organized,” Hrizi added.

Since 2016, at least 118 members of the Colombian army have been investigated over accusations that they sexually abused minors, Colombian General Eduardo Zapateiro revealed on July 1, Reuters reported. The Colombian army, which has battled for decades against leftist guerilla forces, as well as criminal gangs formed by former members of right-wing paramilitary groups, has long been accused of human rights violations.

It’s important to note “the power of this Indigenous protest movement and the really important ways in which that movement is drawing connections between violence against women and broader abuses of power, whether at the hands of the military, police, rich people or otherwise, and that very much includes the role of the US in expanding and training the Colombian military,” Hannah Dickinson, an associate professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and an organizer with the Geneva Women’s Assembly, told Sputnik.

According to a report by Defense News, the US military has helped train Colombia’s soldiers for decades, despite widespread condemnation of human rights abuses by the Colombian military.

“In 1999, the US aid to Colombia jumped from $3 billion to $7.5 billion, and civic and human rights organizations in Colombia have been documenting cases of sexual violence against Indigenous women for the past 12 years,” Dickinson explained.

July 7, 2020 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

COVID-19 Has Been Present In Brazil Since November: Study

teleSUR | July 3, 2020

A new study from the University of Santa Catarina in Brazil revealed that SARS-CoV-2 particles were found in human sewage at the end of November 2019, which might be the oldest sample of the COVID-19 in Latin America so far.

The authors of the study published in the MedRxiv science journal analyzed human sewage located in Florianópolis from late October until the Brazil lockdown in early March.

The scientists detected SARS-CoV-2 in two samples collected independently on November 27, 2019. Subsequent samplings were positive until March 4, 2020, coinciding with the first COVID-19 case reported in Santa Catalina.

“Researchers explained the discovery of a new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which were found in two-shot lamps harvested from Florianópolis in November 2019.”

“Our results show that SARS-CoV-2 has been circulating in Brazil since late November 2019, much earlier than the first reported case in the Americas,” the study highlights.

Other research from China, Spain, and Italy that indicates that the virus was already circulating in those three countries before the first cases were diagnosed.

The study remarks that SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected as early as November 27, 2019, 66 days in advance of the first COVID19 confirmed case in the Americas -in the U.S. – 91 days in advance of the first case in Brazil, and 97 days in advance of the first confirmed case in Santa Catalina Region.

The findings demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 was being passed within the community for several months before the first cases being reported by regional, national, or Pan-American authorities, according to the researchers.

July 4, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Twitter Targets Accounts of MintPress and Other Outlets Covering Unrest in Bolivia

By Alan Macleod | MintPress News | June 29, 2020

Social media giant Twitter took the step of suspending the official account of MintPress News on Saturday. Without warning, the nine-year-old account with 64,000 followers was abruptly labeled as “fake” or “spam” and restricted. This move is becoming a frequent occurrence for alternative media, especially those that openly challenge U.S. power globally.

Immediately preceding the ban, MintPress had been sharing stories about Israeli government crimes against Palestinians, the Saudi-led onslaught in Yemen (both funded and supported by Washington), and about activists challenging chemical giant Monsanto’s latest plans. However, MintPess correspondent Ollie Vargas, stationed in Bolivia and covering the coup and other events there, had another theory on the suspension. Vargas noted that his account, along with union leader Leonardo Loza and independent Bolivian outlets Kawsachun Coca and Kawsachun News were all suspended at the same time. “There was a coordinated takedown of numerous users & outlets based in Chapare, Bolivia. Thousands of fake accounts appeared after the coup. We believe they’re being mobilized to mass report those who criticize the regime,” he said. Since the November coup, Bolivia has been the sight of intense political struggle, with MintPress one of the only Western outlets, large or small, extensively covering the situation (and from a perspective that directly challenges the official US government line). Vargas added that all those accounts suspended appeared in his Twitter bio.

In December, MintPress reported how the strongly conservative Bolivian elite is treating social media as a key battleground in pushing the coup forward, with over 5,000 accounts created on the day of the insurrection tweeting using pro-coup hashtags. With the new administration still lacking both legitimacy and public support, it appears the next step is to simply silence dissenting voices online like they have been silenced inside the country. Kawsachun Coca and Kawsachun News, located in the Chapare region, still not under government control, are among the only remaining outlets critical of the Añez administration.

As Twitter has developed into a worldwide medium of communication, it has also grown an increasingly close relationship with Western state power. In September, a senior Twitter executive was unmasked as an active duty officer in a British Army brigade whose specialty was online and psychological warfare. It was almost entirely ignored by corporate media; the one and only journalist at a major publication covering the story was pushed out of his job weeks later. Earlier this month, Twitter announced it worked with a hawkish U.S.- and Australian-government sponsored think tank to purge nearly 200,000 Chinese, Russian and Iranian accounts from its platform. It has also worked hard to remove Venezuelan users critical of U.S. regime change, including large numbers of government members. Meanwhile, despite detailed academic work exposing them, Venezuelan opposition bot networks remain free to promote intervention.

Facebook has also been working hand-in-hand with the Atlantic Council, a NATO think tank, to determine what users and posts are legitimate and what is fake news, effectively giving control over what its 2.4 billion users see in their news feeds to the military organization. Reddit, another huge social media platform, recently appointed a former deputy director at the council to be its head of policy.

Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it was banning all positive appraisals of Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian general and statesman assassinated by the Trump administration. This, it explained, was because Trump had labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization. “We operate under U.S. sanctions laws, including those related to the U.S. government’s designation of the IRGC and its leadership,” it said in a statement. This is particularly worrying, as Soleimani was the country’s most popular public figure, with over 80 percent of Iranians holding a positive view of him, according to a University of Maryland poll. Therefore, because of the whims of the Trump administration, Facebook began suppressing a majority view shared by Iranians with other Iranians in Farsi across all its platforms, including Instagram. Thus, the line between the state, the military industrial complex, and big media platforms whose job should be to hold them to account has blurred beyond distinction. The incident also once again highlights that big tech monopolies are not public resources, but increasingly tightly controlled American enterprises working in conjunction with Washington.

More worryingly, it is the tech companies themselves who are pushing for this integration. “What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century,” wrote Google executives Eric Schmidt and Larry Cohen in their book, The New Digital Age, “technology and cyber-security companies [like Google] will be to the twenty-first.” The book was heartily endorsed by Atlantic Council director Henry Kissinger.

After an online outcry including journalists like Ben Norton directly appealing to administrators, the accounts were reinstated today. However, the weekend’s events are another point of reference in the trend of harassing and suppressing independent, alternative or foreign media that challenges the U.S. state power, an increasingly large part of which is linked to the big online media platforms we rely on for free exchange of ideas, opinions and discourse.

On the incident, MintPress founder Mnar Muhawesh said:

Twitter’s ban hammer and censorship army of flaggers is an attempt to re-tighten state and corporate control over the free flow of information. That’s why it’s no wonder independent media like MintPress News, Kawsachun, and watchdog journalists covering state crimes like Ollie Vargas have been targeted in what appears to be an organized effort to silence and censor dissent. Twitter’s message is very clear: our first amendment is not welcome, as long as it challenges establishment narratives.”

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

July 3, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

How Venezuela helped defeat Canada’s Security Council bid

Trudeau_Guaido_1_800_445_90

By Yves Engler · June 26, 2020

Was Canada defeated in its bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council because of Justin Trudeau’s effort to overthrow Venezuela’s government? Its intervention in the internal affairs of another sovereign country certainly didn’t help.

According to Royal Military College Professor Walter Dorn, “I spoke with an ambassador in NYC who told me that yesterday she voted for Canada. She had also cast a ballot in the 2010 election, which Canada also lost. She said that Canada’s position on the Middle East (Israel) had changed, which was a positive factor for election, but that Canada’s work in the Lima Group caused Venezuela to lobby hard against Canada. Unfortunately (from her perspective and mine), Venezuela and its allies still hold sway in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM or G77).”

The only country’s diplomats — as far as I can tell — that publicly campaigned against Canada’s bid for a seat on the Security Council were Venezuelan. Prior to the vote Venezuela’s Vice-Minister of foreign relations for North America, Carlos Ron, tweeted out his opposition: “With its deafening silence, Canada has de facto supported terrorists and mercenaries who recently plotted against Venezuela, threatening regional peace and security. The UNSC is entrusted with upholding the United Nations Charter and maintaining International Peace and Security: Canada does not meet that criteria.”

The post was re-tweeted by Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, who has 1.6 million followers, and numerous Venezuelan diplomats around the world, including the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN. Joaquín Pérez Ayestarán added, “Canada recognizes an unelected, self-proclaimed President in Venezuela, in complete disregard for the will of the voters. It also tries to isolate Venezuela diplomatically & supports sanctions that affect all Venezuelans. Is the Security Council the place for more non-diplomacy?”

After Canada lost its Security Council bid Ron noted, not surprised with UN Security Council election results today. A subservient foreign policy may win you Trump’s favor, but the peoples of the world expect an independent voice that will stand for diplomacy, respect for self-determination, and peace.” He also tweeted an Ottawa Citizen article titled “Why Black and brown countries may have rejected Canada’s security council bid.”

For his part, UN ambassador Ayestarán tweeted, “losing two consecutive elections to the Security Council of United Nations within a 10-years period is a clear message that you are not a reliable partner and that the international community has no confidence in you for entrusting questions related to international peace and security.”

Over the past couple of years the Trudeau government has openly sought to overthrow Venezuela’s government. In a bid to elicit “regime change”, Ottawa has worked to isolate Caracas, imposed illegal sanctions, took that government to the International Criminal Court, financed an often-unsavoury opposition and decided a marginal opposition politician was the legitimate president.

Canada’s interference in Venezuelan affairs violates the UN and OAS charters. It is also wildly hypocritical. In its bid to force the Maduro government to follow Canada’s (erroneous) interpretation of the Venezuelan constitution Ottawa is allied in the Lima Group with President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who openly defied the Honduran Constitution. Another of Canada’s Lima Group allies is Colombian President Ivan Duque who has a substantially worse human rights record.

Reflecting the interventionist climate in this country, some suggested Canada’s position towards Venezuela would actually help it secure a seat on the Security Council. A few weeks before the vote the National Post’s John Ivison penned a column titled “Trudeau’s trail of broken promises haunt his UN Security Council campaign” that noted “but, Canada’s vigorous participation in the Lima Group, the multilateral group formed in response to the crisis in Venezuela, has won it good notices in Latin America.” (The Lima Group was set up to bypass the Organization of American States, mostly Caribbean countries, refusal to interfere in Venezuela’s affairs.) A Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East factsheet regarding “Canada’s 2020 bid for a UN Security Council seat” echoed Ivison’s view. It claimed, “Canada also presents a positive image to Latin American states, likely reinforced by its leadership of the Lima Group in 2019 and by its promise to allocate $53 million to the Venezuelan migration crisis.”

While it is likely that Lima Group countries voted for Canada, a larger group of non-interventionist minded countries outside of that coalition didn’t. Venezuelan officials’ ability to influence Non-Aligned Movement and other countries would have been overwhelmingly based on their sympathy for the principle of non-intervention in other countries’ affairs and respect for the UN charter.

The Liberals’ policy towards Venezuela has blown up in its face. Maduro is still in power. Canada’s preferred Venezuelan politician, Juan Guaidó, is weaker today than at any point since he declared himself president a year and a half ago. And now Venezuela has undermined the Liberals’ effort to sit on the Security Council.

Will Canada’s defeat at the UN spark a change in its disastrous Venezuela policy?

June 26, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 2 Comments

Trump slams Guaidó while expressing openness in speaking with Maduro

By Paul Antonopoulos | June 22, 2020

In what potentially could be a radical change in Washington’s policy towards Venezuela, U.S. president Donald Trump confessed that he has had doubts about his decision to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president of the South American country. Trump revealed in an interview with Axios in the Oval Office what he thinks about the self-proclaimed wannabe president of Venezuela, Guaidó, and even confessed that he “would maybe think” of meeting personally with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who has already publicly expressed his willingness to talk with the American president.

“Maduro would like to meet. And I’m never opposed to meetings — you know, rarely opposed to meetings. I always say, you lose very little with meetings. But at this moment, I’ve turned them down,” Trump said.

In a preview of the interview published by Axios, Trump revealed how little confidence he has in Guaidó because the politician failed to take control of the Venezuelan government despite the strong support provided by the U.S. and another 60 countries that recognize him as the legitimate president.

Asked by Axios whether he regretted his decision on backing Guaidó on the advice of John Bolton, his former National Security Advisor, Trump initially said “not particularly,” but then went on to say, “I could have lived with it or without it, but I was very firmly against what’s going on in Venezuela.”

In another part of the interview, Trump speaks directly of the moment when he decided to recognize the opposition leader as president: “Guaidó was elected. I think that I wasn’t necessarily in favor, but I said — some people that liked it, some people didn’t. I was OK with it. I don’t think it was — you know, I don’t think it was very meaningful one way or the other.”

Also, in the preview, Axios quoted a fragment of Bolton’s upcoming book The Room Where It Happened, where he reveals some behind the scenes diplomacy of the Trump Administration and the private feelings the president has about Guaidó. Bolton says that Trump “thought Guaidó was ‘weak,’ as opposed to Maduro, who was ‘strong’” and that “Trump was calling Guaidó the ‘Beto O’Rourke of Venezuela,’ hardly the sort of compliment an ally of the United States should expect.” O’Rourke, who was a Democratic Presidential Candidate and is one of Trump’s biggest critics, was called a “poor bastard” who “quit like a dog” by the American president, a demonstration of just how low Trump thinks of Guaidó.

Trump in the interview described Bolton as a “nutjob” who may be the “dumbest human being on Earth.” Trump could perhaps seek to slowly normalize relations with Maduro and move away from Guaidó, while placing the blame entirely on Bolton for the escalation of hostilities between Washington and Caracas.

In 2019, shocking events were triggered when Guaidó proclaimed himself president. An attempt to forcibly enter a shipment of “solidarity aid” into Venezuela from Colombia that likely had weapons was made; Venezuela suddenly was without electricity after a cyberattack; there was another coup attempt; and, many attacks on military barracks. Yet, Maduro survived the intense pressures from the U.S. and sixty of its allies.

The American President is known to admire authoritarianism and/or strong leaders. Despite sanctions, coup attempts and threats of military invasion, Maduro has not only survived the U.S.-led destabilization, but cemented his positions as leader of Venezuela. Although they may be adversaries, it would not be a wild claim to say that Trump admires Maduro’s strength and determination, especially as Guaidó utterly failed when he had every advantage afforded to him.

If someone had said in 2019 that just a year later Venezuela would not only be more stable than the U.S. when we consider the Black Lives Matter uprising in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, but would also achieve a seat in the UN Human Rights commission, no one would have believed it.

The U.S. could not allow 2019 to confirm the decline of its dominance over Latin America. With the defeat it suffered in Venezuela, the return of Cristina Kirchner in Argentina and the breakdown of neoliberal governments in the region, Washington had to resort to coups to protect its interests, as seen in Bolivia.

Venezuela now has a fragmented opposition to Maduro that is immersed in an internal war. At this point, Guaidó is not guaranteed to be re-elected as president of the National Assembly. For the U.S. however, it does not matter who occupies that position so long as they are serving Washington’s agenda. The so-called Deep State in the U.S. remains pitifully unchanged in their policy to destroy the existence of sovereign governments in the region. However, is Trump attempting to break free of such war hawks by expressing an openness to speak with Maduro? Although Trump may have individual opinions on not wanting to challenge Venezuela, despite public rhetoric, he will be restricted by the main power structures that exist in the U.S. and push for complete dominance no matter the administration in power and what they want to achieve.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Cut Overseas Police Training Programs

Photograph Source: Lorie Shaull from St Paul, United States – CC BY-SA 2.0
By Jeremy Kuzmarov | CounterPunch | June 15, 2020

The police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has ignited protests across the United States and calls to demilitarize and defund the police.

A similar demand should be made to cut overseas police training programs including in Afghanistan.

The U.S. government has long adopted overseas police training as a cornerstone of nation building and counterinsurgency programs.

The idea is that American police will instill professional and democratic standards, including a respect for civil liberties among foreign counterparts and help stabilize violence prone countries.

The Floyd killing has exposed, however, that American police lack professional and humane standards and need to be retrained and reformed. They are ill suited to improve other countries’ police.

In Afghanistan, where the U.S. has spent an estimated $87 billion dollars over nineteen years training security forces, the police are notorious for corruption, sectarianism, incompetence and brutality.

In an interview quoted in the Afghanistan Papers, Thomas Johnson, a Navy official who served as a counterinsurgency adviser in Kandahar province, said that Afghans viewed the police as predatory bandits, calling them “the most hated institution” in Afghanistan.

This latter outcome resulted in part from the militarized tactics promoted by American advisers and their importation of police technologies which could be used for repressive ends.

In Honduras, where the U.S. expanded police aid following a 2009 coup d’états that ousted the mildly progressive José Manuel Zelaya, American trained units have been implicated in torture and drug related corruption, and carried out predawn raids of activists involved in protesting contested elections.

These units were trained under an initiative promoted by President Obama and extended by Trump that provided hundreds of millions of dollars for law enforcement training and assistance, mostly under the War on Drugs.

In the early 1960s, the Kennedy administration created the United States Agency for International Development’s infamous Office of Public Safety (OPS), to modernize the police forces in countries considered vulnerable to communist subversion.

Headed by CIA agent Byron Engle, who combined a deep commitment to civilian police work with an appreciation for the darker areas of political police intelligence, the OPS initially employed liberal reformers.

As political policing gained primacy, however, OPS agents became contemptuous of human rights and imported policing technologies that were used to hunt down dissidents and violently quell protests.

Charles Maechling Jr., staff director of the Special Group on Counterinsurgency under Kennedy, acknowledged that in failing to “insist on even rudimentary standards of criminal justice and civil rights, the United States provided regimes having only a façade of constitutional safeguards with up-dated law enforcement machinery readily adaptable to political intimidation and state terrorism. Record keeping in particular was immediately put to use tracking down student radicals and union organizers.”

By 1973, the OPS was abolished by Congress because of its connection to torture carried out by U.S. trained police forces in South Vietnam and Brazil.

Many OPS veterans subsequently returned to work for police forces back in the U.S., where some continued to promote tactics that encouraged police abuse, including in the suppression of urban riots.

Unfortunately, there is a long pattern of abuse in American police forces, that overseas police programs have helped to compound.

As momentum grows for a transformation of the police, activists should be demanding an end to the practice of exporting police repression and a change to the American approach towards foreign policy more broadly.

Jeremy Kuzmarov is the author of The Russians are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce (Monthly Review Press, 2018) and Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting for the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2019).

June 15, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 23 Comments

ZIKA

By Larry Romanoff | Moon of Shanghai | June 12, 2020

The ZIKA virus is named after the ZIKA forest in Uganda, where it was first discovered, and is a type of flavivirus, closely related to those which cause more serious diseases like dengue and yellow fever. ZIKA normally produces symptoms such as fever or conjunctivitis and sometimes joint pain, but typically so mild that the symptoms last for only a few days and most people don’t even know they have it. The ZIKA is not contagious but is transmitted by mosquitoes, which means you must be bitten by an infected mosquito to contract it. Africans have developed antibodies to the virus and are mostly immune, but Westerners have no such immunity and for them there is no vaccine or cure for the ZIKA virus, though none is generally necessary.

The virus was first isolated from a rhesus monkey in Uganda in 1947, was discovered in a few humans in Uganda and Tanzania some years later, and in humans in Nigeria in 1968. (1) (2) There was never any indication that the virus “traveled well”, and it remained an obscure and unremarkable illness with only a handful of reported cases for 40 years until it suddenly appeared on a South Pacific island in Micronesia in 2007, which was the first time it had been seen outside its original home, but where it apparently did nothing of consequence. (3) Some six or seven years later, there was a outbreak in French Polynesia, also in the South Pacific, that affected about 10% of the population, but this time with the added feature of apparently causing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks itself, or at least the body’s nerves, and can be paralysing or even fatal. Then after a hiatus of seven or so years ZIKA appeared abruptly in Brazil, with a virtually simultaneous spread to more than 20 other countries. On this occasion, ZIKA was now linked to a severe birth defect called microcephaly and possibly other birth defects and neurological disorders. Those are the basic facts.

There was substantial controversy about the links between ZIKA and microcephaly, the official narrative being that ZIKA was suspected – and indeed was strongly promoted – as the cause, but always with caveats suggesting the links might have been coincidental or opportunistic rather than causal. (4) (5) One group of medical practitioners in Brazil wrote a paper suggesting microcephaly was either caused by, or linked to, the dispersal of the chemical pyroxiprophen, an insecticide recommended by the WHO, which was heavily sprayed in drinking water reservoirs in the areas exhibiting the highest incidences of the condition, a theory that appeared to have at least a solid circumstantial basis. The physicians stated that pyriproxifen was a hormone disruptor and growth inhibitor that altered the development process of mosquitoes, generating malformations and causing their death or incapacity to reproduce. They wrote, “Malformations detected in thousands of children from pregnant women living in areas where the Brazilian state added pyriproxifen to drinking water is not a coincidence, even though the Ministry of Health [rules out] the hypothesis of direct and cumulative chemical damage.” (6) A German epidemiologist, Dr. Christoph Zink, had been studying and charting the timing and geographic distribution of both ZIKA and microcephaly, and wrote “I soon got the idea that blaming the ZIKA virus for this epidemic does not really get to the point”, stating a suspicion there had been under-reporting of cases for years. (7) But, according to a CBC report, he also suspected a chemical explanation for the heavy concentration in Northeastern Brazil, stating, “I would ask my toxicological colleagues in Brazil to please look very closely into the practical application of agrochemicals”. Others discounted this hypothesis on the basis of an inconsistent time-line and some conflicting data. Be this as it may, the links between ZIKA and the birth defects appeared at the time of writing (and later) to be only coincidental at best, with no evidence of direct causality.

It was interesting that this debate conducted itself with more heat than light, exhibiting the kind of characteristics we associate with the pros and cons of 5G communication, that is to say more ideological and emotional than scientific. It was also interesting that the American CDC and the UN’s WHO acted fervently to lay the blame for birth defects directly on ZIKA while simultaneously building an exit for possible later use with what I thought were rather cleverly-worded suggestions that the link was “not entirely proven”. This clearly coordinated campaign, with its vast international media support, carried with it a powerful scent of an intent to deflect the main issue into a desired channel and thereby discourage active investigation or discussion of topics outside the official approved list. Evidence of this seemed apparent in the unwarranted eagerness with which officials and the many elements of the media literally trashed anyone suggesting a story line that differed from the official version. As I wrote in the Introduction, a clear warning sign that a desired official story is being crafted is when those presenting contrary facts and theories are not only immediately and widely denounced as biased ideologues but derided as conspiracy theorists. ZIKA fit this template very well.

Whatever the totality of truths may be about this viral outbreak, the media coverage – the official narrative – about ZIKA quickly focused entirely on the statistically insignificant numbers of birth defects in relation to the total infected populations, and the simultaneous initiation of a concentrated debate about the cause of such defects, while dismissing in a single careless phrase the origin of the ZIKA outbreak itself. While it is the origin and cause of the outbreak that should have been the main story, the official narrative pushed this aspect into the background where the media buried it. And it is primarily this that contained the scent of an attempt to deflect the main issue not only into a desired channel but away from other, perhaps politically dangerous, aspects of the event. So let’s take a few minutes to examine the curious origin of this outbreak.

As already noted, ZIKA was never predisposed to travel, considering that it sat in Uganda since 1947 and went nowhere. Surely it had multiple opportunities to attach itself to a person or mosquito and land on another continent. But no. It stayed at home, and for almost 60 years was not a public menace, had never been associated with birth or other physical defects, and attracted no attention. So, if this ZIKA virus could stay at home and remain more or less localised for 60 years, why would it suddenly begin travelling the world? And, if the virus had never spread explosively at home in Africa in that 60 years, how could it suddenly become so active and virulent as to have infected almost the entirety of South and Central America in only a few months?

Let’s review the path. One day in 2007, ZIKA traveled by means unknown, 15,000 kilometers from Africa to land on a tiny Micronesian island named Yap, where it rested for six or seven years doing nothing remarkable, then continued its voyage of several thousand kilometers to French Polynesia where it landed to infect a large percentage of the population and do rather more harm. After another lengthy pause of six or seven years it began another voyage, this time traveling 12,000 kilometers or so, crossing much of the Pacific Ocean, the US and Mexico, all of Central America and the Caribbean, and finally traversing all of South America to land on the Atlantic side in Rio and São Paulo. From there, it almost instantaneously radiated outward 4,000 or 5,000 kilometers in all directions to cover most of Brazil (the fifth-largest country in the world). ZIKA then spread to all of South and Central America and the Caribbean, flooding more than 20 countries within a few months, then embarked on journeys of 8,000 kilometers or more, voyaging as far as Mexico and Puerto Rico. It then quickly headed Northeast on another journey of 8,000 kilometers to land in Spain where it was predicted to become a calamity.

Now let’s think about the journey. Viruses can’t fly, and they don’t travel on airplanes. They travel by mosquito, and mosquitoes don’t travel either. They live their entire short lives within maybe one kilometer of wherever they were hatched. It’s true they are sometimes blown around by prevailing winds and could potentially end up almost anywhere, but these wind-blown insects tend to number in the tens or hundreds rather than the hundreds of millions necessary to infect millions of people in a vast country like Brazil. Some news media published deliberately misleading and unforgivably uninformed reports referring to the “migration patterns” of mosquitoes, but mosquitoes do not migrate, not in any sense of the meaning of that word. Birds migrate, caribou migrate, locusts and lemmings migrate. Monarch butterflies migrate. Ducks, geese and hummingbirds migrate. Mosquitoes do not migrate. They cannot.

As one entomologist wrote, “mosquitoes live within a mile or two of their breeding grounds their entire life, with little evidence they make purposeful long distance flights that can be classified zoologically as migration. It is better to regard all mosquito flights as dispersal.” In other words, we cannot have tens of millions of mosquitoes, infected or otherwise, filling their tiny luggage with mini-viruses and flying 15,000 kilometers to take up residence in another country. We are told that mosquitoes will sometimes breed in pools of water, in old auto tires and other odd places, and can by this method be transported around the world, but again the numbers of insects traveling this way would be exceedingly low for our purposes since no country – and certainly not Brazil – is importing sufficient numbers of old tires to bring us the hundreds of millions of insects we need to create an epidemic. And yes, mosquitoes breed, but to burgeon in only weeks from a few infected mating pairs in one location to a few hundred million scattered over millions of square kilometers is beyond the ability even of mosquitoes.

  • The Infected World Cup Visitor

And it was here that the WHO and the Western media began crafting their tale. The official narrative was that the mosquitoes never did travel. Instead, the virus found itself a means of long-distance transport and was “believed to have been brought to Brazil by an infected visitor to the World Cup”. Thus, according to the WHO and the compliant media, a lone traveler infected millions of people in Rio and within a few months the disease had spread to Colombia, Paraguay, Venezuela, Panama, the Honduras, Guyana, Martinique, Puerto Rico and Mexico, and altogether more than 20 countries. We need only think for a moment to realise this proposition is a ridiculous impossibility. I wrote above that the origin of the ZIKA outbreak was dismissed in a single careless phrase, that phrase being “believed to have been brought to Brazil by an infected visitor to the World Cup”, a statement tossed out with no evidential support, one that appears superficially credible but which constitutes logical rubbish. And, as we will see, ZIKA was in Brazil long before the World Cup. Remember, ZIKA is not a contagious disease spread by coughing or sneezing or even extended social contact. It is a virus infection carried by mosquitoes, and one must be bitten to contract it. The traveling of infected people from Polynesia to Brazil is of no consequence in itself since the only way to transmit their disease is by being bitten by mosquitoes, which might in turn become infected then spread the infection by biting others. (8)

Let’s take a moment to think about the supposedly-infected (and surely imaginary) World Cup visitor, and consider the astonishingly-rapid spread of the infection. The official narrative was that the virus came to Brazil from French Polynesia, but how many people, infected or otherwise, would be likely to travel from the tiny population of French Polynesia to Brazil just to watch a football game? Two? Ten? So how could clean, uninfected Brazilian mosquitoes find those few infected Polynesian people, bite them and become infected in turn, then spread the infection to at least tens of millions of insects in a few months so as to bite and infect many millions of people throughout the entirety of Latin America? The sheer volume of the outbreak coupled with its virtually instantaneous spread, dismisses any possibility of this infection originating with a foreign traveler. One mosquito biting one person does not constitute an epidemic. If we want to have an “explosive spread” of a mosquito-borne virus like the ZIKA, which infected millions of people in only a very short time, we need at least tens of millions of mosquitoes but more reasonably we need hundreds of millions of them. This is especially true when the mosquitoes seem determined to infect the enormous land areas of South and Central America, passing over vast unpopulated areas in the process. Not every mosquito is infected, not every infected mosquito will find someone to bite, not everyone will be bitten, and not everyone bitten will be infected. And a mosquito’s life is very short indeed, about ten days.

With only a handful of infected people, such a widespread epidemic is impossible by this method of transmission. The number of travelers is statistically insignificant, so even if they were all bitten many times by different insects, the totality of those insects could not have in turn bitten and infected millions of people in 20 countries within a few months, especially countries many thousands of kilometers away, considering that mosquitoes do not travel. It’s true the infected mosquitoes would breed and perhaps contaminate their young, but this would by definition be a localised outbreak with no natural possibility of traveling even tens, much less thousands of kilometers to cover a continent. One infected mosquito cannot breed millions of offspring and cover millions of square kilometers in a few months. And, if one person traveled to Rio or São Paulo for a football game, how does that explain the disease exploding in a dozen other cities in Brazil, all at approximately the same time? How does that explain the disease spreading to Colombia and a dozen other nearby countries, and 8,000 Kms away in Mexico and Puerto Rico, very shortly thereafter? Even if infected travelers from Brazil went to Mexico, how many would be bitten by clean mosquitoes there, and be able to pass on the virus? Statistically zero, or thereabouts.

Millions of mosquitoes cannot bite the same ten travelers, become infected, then bite millions of other people and cause an epidemic. You don’t have to be a statistician to know that’s not possible. If millions of people are infected, there had to have been at least many millions of infected mosquitoes in the area. So, the most important question in this entire saga is: how did at least tens, and more likely, hundreds, of millions of insects become infected? The virus did not exist in Brazil. Native mosquitoes were not infected with ZIKA, and could have become infected only by either biting countless thousands of infected people, or else being the offspring from millions of matings with infected insects, but where would those come from? A few infected travelers cannot account for such a massive geographical outbreak within weeks, which means vast numbers of infected mosquitoes must have been introduced in those locations. There is no other possible explanation.

The WHO’s official statement said ZIKA appeared to be spreading so rapidly for two reasons: One, because it was a new disease to the region and so the population had no immunity, and two, because ZIKA is primarily transmitted by a mosquito species known as A. aegypti, which lives in every country in North and South America except Canada and Chile. These statements are deliberate misinformation and unforgivably dishonest for what they neglect to say. The portion about the lack of immunity is true, but that lack of immunity exists only because, as the WHO itself pointed out, ZIKA is a new disease to the region, meaning it didn’t exist in Brazil or South-Central America prior to this time. The second portion of the statement is even more dishonest. The WHO tells us the disease spread so rapidly because it is transmitted by a species of mosquito which exists locally, but the reason the disease was new to the region in the first instance is that domestic mosquitoes had never been infected and therefore could not possibly have been responsible for the dispersion of the virus.

It is worth noting the cleverness of the WHO’s statement. It does not say the disease was spread by local mosquitoes (and could not have been, since they weren’t infected), but spread by the same species that lives in South America. That’s not exactly the same thing. The fact that this strain of mosquito lives in South and Central America is entirely irrelevant to the ZIKA outbreak because these local mosquitoes were not infected. The statement appears to blame local insects – by family association, and we would normally draw this inference from a casual reading, but if we examine the words, the statement tells us absolutely nothing and is fraudulent because it leads us to a false conclusion. The WHO glossed over the most important question in this entire issue, which is how tens or hundreds of millions of a local variety of clean mosquitoes suddenly became infected by a foreign virus and in a few months caused an epidemic covering nearly 20 million square kilometers.

It is of course theoretically possible for a single infected person to initiate an eventual epidemic, but consider the circumstances necessary. One infected person traveling to a new location is bitten by one or more mosquitoes who become infected and who bite a few other persons who become infected in turn. The infected mosquitoes breed and die, leaving potentially infected offspring who can gradually spread the disease. At the beginning, this would be tightly localised, not only in one city but likely in one area of one city since we have very few infected mosquitoes that do not travel. Then gradually, infected persons would move to other areas of the city and to other cities, and slowly spread the infection to other areas. But it should be obvious that this method would require years to create an epidemic, and would still not account for an explosive spread in the new locations. By definition, a natural introduction and spread of a mosquito-borne virus would require years to develop. The only physical way to have an explosive spread of an insect-borne disease is to have hundreds of millions of infected insects. And, since Latin America did indeed experience precisely such an explosive spread, the fundamental question is the source of those infected insects.

  • Oxitec’s GM “Terminator” Mosquitoes

There is one additional fact in this story, a fact that was heavily suppressed by the media. It involves a company named Oxitec, which bills itself as “a British biotech company pioneering an environmentally friendly [i.e. genetically-modified] way to control insect pests that spread disease and damage crops”. Oxitec was conducting genetically-modified “transgenic mosquito trials” in Brazil and many other locations, trials that, according to Science Magazine, “have not been without controversy in the past”. (9) It will not be a surprise that one of Oxitec’s “collaborators” is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as other non-surprises that include the WHO, the CIA, the Pentagon, the Rockefeller Foundation, Fort Detrick, and other luminaries of the world of genetically-modified pathogens. In particular, one article that appeared to be credible, claimed that the equity owners of Oxitec had strong links to the CIA. Other Oxitec funders are the WHO, who provide research grants, and apparently a Hong Kong investment fund called Asia Pacific Capital, which is controlled by GE Capital of the US.

Oxitec was conducting “experiments in the suppression of mosquitoes”, experiments which involved the release of countless millions of genetically-modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (the same species that spread the ZIKA virus) that had been bio-engineered for male insterility. Oliver Tickell wrote an interesting article published in The Ecologist on February 1, 2016, titled, “Pandora’s Box: how GM mosquitoes could have caused Brazil’s microcephaly disaster”. (10) In it, he wrote, “The idea of the Oxitec mosquitoes is simple enough: the males produce non-viable offspring which all die. So the GM mosquitoes are ‘self-extinguishing’ and the altered genes cannot survive in the wild population.” The theory is that these GM-modified ‘terminator’ mosquitoes will breed with native females to produce non-viable larvae, thereby eradicating the entire mosquito population. Unfortunately, the truth, even according to Oxitec’s own information, is that a large percentage of their mosquitoes are not sterile after all, that many do survive and thrive, and that apparently a large percentage of native female insects refuse to breed with these introduced GM terminators, rendering some part of the experiment useless.

According to Tickell’s research, the insect dispersions occurred between May of 2011 and early 2012 and, in some locations alone, involved millions per month. I do not know the total number of locations in which mosquitoes were dispersed nor the total number of insects dispersed, but for the disease to spread the way it did, the dispersion was certainly carried out in many locations and likely involved tens of millions of insects in each case and, with several years to breed, gives us the hundreds of millions we needed. Certainly the dispersals in some instances contained massive volumes. In the Cayman Islands, Oxitec “liberated” 3.3 million of their “transgenic mosquitoes” in 80 separate releases that covered only about 16 hectares of land, and the same a bit later in Malaysia. (11) With 100 hectares in a square kilometer, how many mosquitoes would have been released in 20 million square kilometers? At this point, we can perhaps assume it was a micro-biologist from Oxitec who traveled to Brazil, but not for the World Cup. This assumption explains many things, but apparently not to the converted. Soon after, the world media were actively promoting the theory that Oxitec’s “mutant” GM mosquitoes were instead being used to battle ZIKA. (12) (13)

Tickell discussed the potential survival of the GM insects and how they could spread the ZIKA infection, but ignored the much more important question of how they became infected in the first place. Let’s try a direct analogy: You do not get rabies from a dog bite; you get rabies when bitten by a rabid dog. If the dog doesn’t have rabies, all you get is a dog bite. And dispersing thousands of non-rabid dogs into a clean environment will give you only thousands of non-rabid dogs in a still-clean environment. You may get bitten much more often, but you still won’t get rabies. By this analogy, the vast dispersal of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes is of no consequence unless the mosquitoes are already infected with the ZIKA virus. If they do not carry the virus, their bites will do nothing to their victims, leaving us with no way to spread a foreign virus.

The important point, so studiously avoided by the CDC, the WHO and the media, is that since ZIKA was not endemic to Brazil or indeed to South-Central America, it had to be introduced from somewhere, and on a massive scale. One infected visitor to the World Cup cannot do that, but importing and dispersing hundreds of millions of infected mosquitoes can do that. It is not possible to disperse millions of uninfected mosquitoes into a clean environment then have them magically become self-infected by a virus whose nearest proximity is 18,000 kilometers distant, which means the insects dispersed by Oxitec had to have been infected before their dispersal because there is no other credible explanation for the comparatively instantaneous explosion of ZIKA in so many millions of square kilometers, events that appeared to coincide with the dispersion of Oxitec’s insects. The question then is how a company like Oxitec could disperse millions of insects without knowing they were infected. After all, they engineered the mosquitoes, they surely were aware of the dangers, and certainly had the ability to do testing. The only possible conclusion I see, is that they did know. If there is an alternative explanation, I cannot imagine what it would be.

I am reminded of Dr. David Heymann of the WHO who, when speaking of the identical issue of the origin and spread of HIV, claimed, “The origin of the AIDS virus is of no importance … speculation on how it arose is of no importance.” I disagreed then, and I disagree now. The WHO took enormous pains to obscure investigation into the origin and spread of that virus, and appeared to be doing the same with ZIKA. In the Scientific Method, we try to form a theory to explain the phenomena we witness. Then, if we can, we test our assumptions and hypotheses to see if they correlate with the known facts. In this case, we have unknowns and unanswered questions in a situation where the official explanation doesn’t appear plausible, and where confusion exists in some facts. But if we theorise that Oxitec carried out its field trials in these locations with infected mosquitoes our theory explains almost everything we know about ZIKA. But this isn’t quite the end of the story.

  • Back to the Future

Many virologists and media sources inform us that the ZIKA virus was first isolated from a monkey in the ZIKA Forest in Africa (Uganda) in 1947 while scientists were researching Yellow Fever, but the more interesting parts of ZIKA’s story occurred in labs rather than forests. The virus was isolated in a laboratory by a microbiologist named Jordi Casals (14) (15), whose entire career (but for two years after graduation) was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, mostly working in labs at Yale University. Casals was a specialist in ticks and virus-borne diseases (of the kind produced by the US Military at Fort Detrick and Plum Island), as well as the viruses that cause encephalitis and the kind of hemorrhagic fever the US dispersed in North Korea during the war and later in Cuba. He was for years a consultant to the WHO and to the US Army Research Institute in Bethseda, Maryland, where he was performing concurrent work in what appeared to be related to bioweapons research.

The media and the medical history books tell us that after its discovery, ZIKA remained an “obscure and unremarkable illness” that caused no trouble and was of no apparent interest to anybody, but that’s not entirely correct. After Casals isolated ZIKA from Rockefeller Foundation monkey number 766, a quiet interest apparently emerged in this ‘obscure’ virus, with both the WHO and America’s CDC establishing “virus research laboratories” very near the same forest where ZIKA was discovered, and in 2008 the Wellcome Trust – who are coincidentally one of Oxitec’s sources of funds – also became involved in microbiology programs at the same location. (16) (17) The Rockefeller Foundation established its East African Virus Research Institute in Entebbe, Uganda, in 1936, the UVRI forming at the same time (with whom the CDC began working in 1991, the WHO joining the affiliation in 1996). (18)

More recently, when the ZIKA outbreak occurred in 2007 on the Micronesian island of Yap, the US military was reported to have sent what was described as “a large research presence” to that island, consisting of individuals from both the CDC labs at the University of Colorado and from the military, all experts in insect-vector bio-pathogens. (19) (20) (21) Perhaps coincidentally and perhaps not, Yap Island is only about 800 Kms. from Guam, the original site of the US military’s NAMRU-2 biowarfare lab which depended primarily on researchers from the Rockefeller Institute. And to bring us up to date with Brazil, one media report informed us that two American researchers from the University of Wisconsin, one a professor of pathobiological sciences named Jorge Osorio (22) (23), the other his assistant named Matthew Aliota, were the first to identify ZIKA virus in South America. Osorio’s assistant, Aliota, had a long history with the US Army’s bio-warfare lab, USAMRIID, located at Fort Detrick, Maryland, and was also a professor at Colorado State University, the source of the CDC’s virological staff originally sent to Yap to examine the first ZIKA outbreak. (24) (25)

  • The Microcephaly Problem

There had for many months been a flurry of media activity with reports containing an utter confusion of claims about the incidence of this condition, a multitude of false alarms causing misunderstandings and creating excessive caution. One report in the New York Times claimed that fears of the virus resulted in “massive over-reporting”. In early February of 2016, Brazil’s Health Ministry accounted for about 5,000 reported cases, but in fact only a few hundred had actually been confirmed, an insignificant number that would normally be buried within the statistical averages. Interestingly, the WHO was guilty of laying most of the fuel onto this fire, announcing an “international health emergency”, appearing primarily motivated to strongly focus public attention onto the birth defects and away from other considerations. Indeed, virtually all of the media attention appeared to focus on a few hundreds of potentially damaged fetuses and a few thousands of symptomatic mothers rather than on the millions of civilians inexplicably infected by a foreign virus of (so far) unknown provenance. In any case, the clear intent was to establish a link in the public mind between ZIKA and birth defects, going so far as to advise all mothers in South and Central America to delay planned pregnancies for several years. Much of this was alarmist and unjustified. The New England Journal of Medicine claimed that “29 percent of women who had ultrasound examinations after testing positive for infection with the ZIKA virus had fetuses that suffered [undocumented] “grave outcomes”.” (26) (27) But they neglected to mention that the total number of women in this sample was only about 40, if memory serves me correctly.

The media reports on this problem, virtually without exception and certainly including all those from the WHO, consisted mostly of dramatic attention-getting headlines. An article would quote an apparently prominent virologist claiming his research “strongly indicated” that “the ZIKA virus, and nothing else” was responsible for the rash of birth defects. Other scientists were quoted as saying ZIKA targeted the brain cortex, leaving readers to worry that every pregnant mother in all of Latin America would give birth to a brain-damaged baby. A website calling itself the Virology Blog, run by a virologist and professor at Columbia University in the US, stated that published reports made “a compelling case that ZIKA virus is causing microcephaly in Brazil”, quoting from studies with such small samples they were statistically invalid, and even admitting no confirmations were available of ZIKA infections in the microcephaly cases studied. He even went so far as to write, “Here is the clincher – the entire ZIKA virus genome was identified in brain tissue” of an infant born with this condition. (28) Another virologist promptly informed this writer that he had all his facts wrong, and that only small sections of the virus had in fact been identified. Virology Blog – ZIKA virus is causing microcephaly in Brazil.

Other scientists expressed their amazement that a flavivirus like ZIKA could cause birth defects when no strain or variety of flavivirus had ever done so before. They noted too that the Brazilian strain of the virus was a 99.75% match, indicating it was the same virus from other areas of the world, and that birth defects existed in none of those places. Many virologists stated that historically no flavivirus had ever been implicated in birth defects, claiming the conditions pointed to a “localised environmental factor” or some other cause. Dr. Ahmed Kalebi, Director of the Lancet Pathology Research Group, echoed a similar sentiment, stating the possibility that “ZIKA is just a red herring and there is something else . . . that makes those babies get microcephaly”. And a published study posted on the WHO website stated, “ZIKV has been identified in Africa over 50 years ago, and neither there nor in the outbreaks outside Africa, has such an association with microcephaly [ever] been reported.” Another virologist wrote that there was no proof of a cause-effect relationship, that the ZIKA virus might just have been “infecting opportunistically, and that these are cases that would have developed birth defects even without it”. Others noted that the apparent surge in these cases occurred only in Northeastern Brazil, primarily in Pernambuco in and near Recife (where the WHO-recommended insecticide pyroxiprophen was being sprayed), and many noted that there was no actual proof of correlation between ZIKA and microcephaly, other than the fact that the virus had been found in some infants with the condition. Unfortunately, none of these other voices were ever able to reach the microphone.

And there is more. I downloaded a study from the WHO’s own website, titled “Microcephaly in northeastern Brazil: a review of 16,208 births between 2012 and 2015” (29) that states in part, “However, if the ZIKV were indeed introduced in Brazil at the World Cup in mid 2014, the outbreak of microcephaly would have preceded it.” In case this isn’t clear, the authors of this paper documented that microcephaly began appearing in Brazil in 2011 and 2012, well prior to the appearance of the claimed “visitor from Polynesia”, which by itself would seem irrefutable proof that the ZIKA virus cannot be responsible for the birth defects in Latin America. Not only that, according to this same paper, the initial appearances of microcephaly would have coincided perfectly with the spraying of pyroxiprophen and the timing of Oxitec’s GM mosquito dispersal program. Certainly the WHO was fully aware of this information, and the media pundits either were aware or should have been aware, but these crucial facts were entirely censored by all the media. In March of 2016, Canada’s CBC reported on another study in Paraíba State in Brazil, which lies next to Perambuco, and which also discovered cases of microcephaly prior to 2012, a full two years before the appearance of the supposed Polynesian visitor, and which confirmed as well that these cases have been concentrated in Brazil’s Northeast where the bulk of the chemical spraying was done. (30) (31) (32) (33) Nevertheless, the New York Times was telling us “There is no longer any doubt that Zika causes microcephaly”, quoting a study of ZIKA at estimated a “1 in 100” risk of microcephaly. (34) (35)

  • The Media Focus

In the extensive media coverage of the ZIKA epidemic, several elements were not only unusual but were so uniformly focused they had a distinct appearance of having been coordinated as part of plan. The first of these I have already discussed: the apparent absence of any interest whatever in the source of the ZIKA infection. Aside from the almost-flippant attribution of a sudden and massive international outbreak of ZIKA to a single traveler from Polynesia, I was unable to find any reference, question or investigation by any part of the Western mainstream media as to alternative explanations. It seems that no scientist or reporter in the Western world had any apparent interest in this critical matter, a circumstance I find almost bizarre. Every newspaper, TV station, publication, that I could monitor, studiously avoided any mention of alternative explanations of the source of millions of infected mosquitoes. With every other disease outbreak in the recent past, we have had various theories and consequent debates as to source and origin, but not this time. This is exceedingly curious, since the officially-attributed source is clearly impossible.

The second element was a persistent coordinated focus on the relatively few instances of microcephaly to the neglect of almost every other aspect, leading one to conclude the outbreak might consist of millions of microcephaly cases instead of instances of a minor virus infection. This was true not only with the Western mass media but also with internet searches. In repeated searches for the incidence of total ZIKA infections in Brazil and other South American nations, Google repeatedly produced only information on births with apparent ZIKA-related defects. I will note here that Google’s searches are often highly selective in a manner not entirely explained by an autonomous algorithm. When repeated and diligent searches on one topic produce only results on another topic, it is safe for us to conclude that someone is pulling the strings. In broad searches for rates of ZIKA infection, Google’s entire emphasis was on supposedly ZIKA-related microcephaly cases, and searches for percentages produced more of the same “reported but unconfirmed” statistics misleadingly quoted to infer that a very high percentage of births were defective – which was absolutely not the case. Let’s look at some statistics.

The total population of South and Central America is almost 450 million, with reported ZIKA infections projected to total perhaps 4 million overall. This means that less than 1% of the total populations of these countries will be infected with the ZIKA virus, of which a very small portion (perhaps only 1% or 2% at any given time) will be pregnant mothers. Remember too, that there were only a few hundred confirmed microcephaly cases and only about 1% of those contained any link with ZIKA. This means that of all the pregnancies in Brazil, perhaps one ten-thousandth will result in microcephaly and, as noted above, only about 1% of these would exhibit a ZIKA infection. I by no means wish to trivialise individual tragedies but, with confirmed cases measured as a percentage of the population or by the incidence of all other primary causes of diseases and deaths, the incidence of microcephaly in Brazil was statistically zero, whether ZIKA-induced or not.

The next concern was what appeared to be a widespread and deliberate program of fear-mongering, with a coordinated focus that I anticipated but found disturbing nonetheless. Even the adjuncts were designed to be unsettling and frightening. For one article on ZIKA, the Washington Post employed a photographic setting of a statue guarding a tomb in a cemetery, with the caption, “Flower urns at many graves are breeding grounds for the disease-carrying mosquitoes.” Why a cemetery setting? Why the photo of graves? How many people had died from contracting ZIKA? Approximately none. The Washington Post screamed that “The more we learn, the worse things seem to get”. It told us of the virus “sweeping through the hemisphere” and wrote of the “growing links to birth defects and neurological disorders” which were even “worse than originally suspected”, and warning of the “increasing the risk for devastating harm” during pregnancy. The Washington Post told us, “Brazilians panic as mosquito linked to brain damage in thousands of babies” (36) (37), and Canada’s Globe and Mail told us that “As the virus ravages Brazil”, several hundred babies were left “with devastated brains” (38), while failing to mention that Canada’s House of Parliament has suffered the same condition for decades.

Thomas Frieden, Director of the US-based CDC, said he expected cases to increase “dramatically” (39), and that “The cost of caring for one child with birth defects can be $10 million or more”. He tearfully told us, according to the Washington Post, of one woman “who was fearful of what would happen to her baby. To quote, “She said, ‘I will be worried for my whole life, and even after I die, who is going to take care of the baby’.” We were further informed that “studies showed” ZIKA was “likely behind more birth defects and problems than researchers realised”, and was linked to “a broad array of birth defects and neurological disorders”. As an aside, WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan said ZIKA had gone “from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions”, and that she had set up a ZIKA “emergency team” after the “explosive” spread of the virus. (40) But as you will read elsewhere, Margaret Chan apparently wasn’t concerned about Ebola that was killing by the tens of thousands, to the extent that the WHO stopped answering their phones so people wouldn’t continue to bother them with updates. It took years for Ebola – and other serious outbreaks, including the H5N1 flu and SARS in Hong Kong – to become “alarming” and explosive” and require Margaret Chan to establish an “emergency team”, so why all the fuss about ZIKA that killed nobody? To continue, the Washington Post further informed us:

A growing concern among pediatricians is that ZIKA could inflict harm to developing brain tissue in other, less obvious ways than microcephaly. That condition could be the “tip of the iceberg” of a series of neurological problems, some of which might not show up in the brain scans used to spot microcephaly, and it might not even show up for years to come. These could include epilepsy, behavioral problems and mental retardation, “It could be that these children are born with a normal head size but manifest other problems later in life.”

From this, we must gather that now even those babies appearing normal at birth are by no means safe or healthy, that they might appear normal today but may very well become delinquent, epileptic and mentally retarded at undetermined points in the future. So we have not only a strong focus on the relatively few cases of confirmed birth defects, but solemn and somber warnings that all births in the entirety of Latin America are suspect far into the indefinite future.

In such a case, what does one do? Fortunately, the WHO, Western medical “experts”, and the Washington Post, all reading from the same page, had the ready answer: legalised abortions. And this was the final, and extraordinarily vocal, thrust of the media coverage. And I have to say, I found this to be suspicious as hell. Reading from beginning to end, it was difficult to avoid concluding that the purpose of the exaggerated focus on the birth defects to the exclusion of all else, coupled with the intense fear-mongering that followed, were simply the prelude to the main act which was to force a change in South America’s abortion laws. The fear-mongering paid off to some extent: The governments of many countries in South and Central America, aided immeasurably by some elements of the media and countless NGOs, advised all women to delay any planned pregnancies until 2018.

The New York Times, Bloomberg, Canada’s Public Health Service and others were instructing Latin American women to avoid pregnancy (41) (42) (43) (44), while the Washington Post ran an article on January 22, 2016 in which it informed that Latin American countries were advising women to not only postpone pregnancies but to avoid sex altogether. (45) But then it launched into what I thought was an extraordinary propaganda piece on abortion in Latin America. It told us that the topic is “Taboo in election campaigns”, then “estimated” the total number of induced abortions at well over 850,000 per year, stating that perhaps ten million women had obtained illegal abortions in Brazil alone during the prior ten years. In other words, roughly a third of all pregnancies in Brazil had been aborted. And a group known as the Pan American Health Organization, a sister to Margaret Chan’s WHO, produced a study claiming the numbers were well over one million per year. (46) And not only that, but more than 20% of all women in Brazil have had “at least one abortion” – this in a country where abortions are illegal. But, according to these “experts”, it is clear that such a prohibition “does not prevent women resorting to abortion.” I guess not. These “experts” even admitted their figures were “ridiculously high”, but used this as proof that abortions would not increase if they were legalised – which was the thrust of the entire argument and the purpose of the almost certainly fabricated facts. The fear-mongering further reared its ugly head with an (undocumented and certainly false) tale of one woman who “disappeared after entering an illegal abortion clinic,” the article confiding to us that “She would have died during the procedure and police suspect that her body was burned and dismembered.” With risks like this, we should conclude that Brazilian women are nothing if not courageous, though I would have thought the more common procedure would be to dismember first and burn later. But then maybe things are different in Brazil.

The Washington Post ran another article on February 8, 2016, titled, “ZIKA prompts urgent debate about abortion in Latin America” (47), in which they stated (much too gleefully, I thought) that calls to loosen restrictive abortion laws were “gaining momentum”, and that “activists” were “pressing lawmakers” to act swiftly in removing these laws. According to the Post, the pro-abortion lobby was “taking advantage of this to liberalize the legislation”, and one spokesman for a pro-abortion NGO named ‘Bureau for the Life and Health of Women’ hoped that “ZIKA would change the debate”. (48) (49) We were also informed of another Canadian NGO named ‘Women on Web’, who specialise in shipping abortion-inducing drugs through the mail (for a “donation” of $100) into countries where abortions are prohibited by law. The article informed us that, sadly, “Often, government customs inspectors seize the pills.” No idea why. And a columnist named Hélio Schwartsman wrote that he has interviewed a woman that said if she were pregnant and discovered she’d been infected by ZIKA, “I would not hesitate an instant to abort”, dismemberment and subsequent incineration apparently being an insufficient disincentive. (50) (51)  I should note here that the Washington Post and all other Western media, while positively glowing about the prospects of abortion being legalised in South and Central America, neglected to mention that all the “activists,” the NGOs, and the “pro-abortion lobbies” were all US-based or US-funded, as well as often being US-managed, many or most closely connected to USAID and US-based Planned Parenthood, who are in turn the Great-Grandfather and Great-Grandmother of eugenics, abortion, forced sterilisation, and population reduction.

Then the New York Times, not one to be left out of the excitement, ran an article by a Simon Romero, informing that “ZIKA Virus Has Brazilians Re-examining Strict Abortion Laws,” and that “the surging reports” of babies with microcephaly “are igniting a fierce debate” over the country’s abortion laws. Romero also noted that (American) “abortion rights activists are seizing on the crisis” to change the country’s laws. (52)”Pregnant women across Brazil are now in a panic”, he tells us, which is no great surprise given “the surging reports” and the extraordinary amount of fear-mongering the media contributed to aid their momentum. After reading all the Western media stories, I’d be in a panic too. He noted that “some activists”, American as usual, compare this to the US debate on abortion following measles infections in that country, a situation that “paved the way” for abortion in California and then most states in the US. “The fears over the ZIKA virus are giving us a rare opening to challenge the religious fundamentalists who put the lives of thousands of women at risk in Brazil each year to maintain laws belonging in the dark ages.”

It needs to be noted somewhere that casual abortions as a means of birth control may not necessarily qualify as a “universal value.” People and societies in different countries are entitled to form their own values, especially those values involving human life, without the belligerent assistance of either Planned Parenthood or the Washington Post, and if the countries in Latin America want to restrict abortions or if China wants to restrict pornography, it is nobody else’s business and is a gross violation of sovereignty to attempt to force our Western or other values onto them. We formed our values, such as they are, without interference from others, and they have the right to do the same.

It is a truth in all matters involving foreign affairs, most especially those carrying significant social, political or economic implications, that there are no fortuitous events, no “coincidences”, that all things happen because they are planned, with the final result inevitably being according to expectation and plan. How then do we think about ZIKA? It seems implausible that the intense onslaught by the WHO and the media, wildly exaggerating what appeared to be non-existent dangers, was simply unintelligent and purposeless fear-mongering. This, and the sudden overwhelming push for legalised abortions were too unanimous, too widespread, and too well-orchestrated to have been merely opportunistic. How then do we think about Oxitec’s release of hundreds of millions of mosquitoes that were almost certainly infected with ZIKA? How do we think about the unanimous official narrative of ZIKA packing its bags and traveling halfway around the world to Brazil at the time of the World Cup? A coincidence? How do we think about ZIKA choosing as its new home the one place in the world with concentrated abortion restrictions? How do we think about the media ignoring the logic in these questions and trashing anyone who raised them?

What were the results of the ZIKA outbreak? The most noticeable was an unparalleled opportunity to raise a critical mass clamoring for legalised abortions, but there were others. Media reports estimated South America would lose at least $53 billion in tourism revenue from the widely-advised travel restrictions. (53) (54) Metropole would have to search hard indeed to find a more convenient economic sanction for a recalcitrant socialist periphery. And of course, economic hardship coupled with public fear and panic easily decay into social unrest, and are the precursor of choice as a seedbed for regime change. We have seen all of these, and more.

Notes

(1) https://www.who.int/emergencies/zika-virus/timeline/en/

(2) https://www.who.int/emergencies/zika-virus/history/en

(3) https://www.who.int/bulletin/online_first/16-171082/en

(4) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/zika-monsanto-pyriproxyfen-microcephaly_n_56c2712de4b0b40245c79f7c

(5) https://www.nature.com/articles/srep40067

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5760164/

(7) https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/microcephaly-brazil-zika-reality-1.3442580

(8) https://www.reuters.com/article/health-zika-brazil-exclusive-idUSKCN0VA33F

(9) https://www.nature.com/articles/nbt0111-9a

(10) https://theecologist.org/2016/feb/01/pandoras-box-how-gm-mosquitos-could-have-caused-brazils-microcephaly-disaster

(11) http://www.genewatch.org/sub-566989

(12) https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3722573/Mutant-UK-mosquitoes-fight-Zika-Florida-Genetically-modified-insects-pass-killer-gene-set-released-attempt-stop-spread-virus.html

(13) https://www.builtreport.com/genetically-modified-mosquitos-to-fight-zika-virus/

(14) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC390228/

(15) https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/11/5/471/htm

(16) https://www.afro.who.int/news/uganda-virus-research-institute-approved-regional-reference-laboratory-yellow-fever

(17) https://www.cdc.gov/globalhealth/countries/uganda/default.htm

(18) http://hardnoxandfriends.com/2020/04/09/where-oh-where-did-zika-virus-go-after-2016/

(19) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/26282227_Zika_Virus_Outbreak_on_Yap_Island_Federated_States_of_Micronesia

(20)http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1469-0691.12707/full

(21) https://health.mil/News/Articles/2019/07/01/Zika-Virus-Surveillance

(22) https://mhdtg.wisc.edu/staff/osorio-dvm-phd-jorge/

(23) https://vetmed.umn.edu/bio/college-of-veterinary-medicine/matthew-aliota

(24) https://vetmed.umn.edu/departments/veterinary-and-biomedical-sciences/news-events/vbs-welcomes-vector-borne-agreett-hire-dr-matthew-aliota

(25) https://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/07/06/us-army-and-france-sanofi-combine-work-zika-vaccine.html

(26) https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/grave-outcomes-likely-associated-with-zika-infection-during-pregnancy-study-1.2804329

(27) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-zika-fetus-idUSKCN0W62Q1

(28) https://www.virology.ws/2016/01/28/zika-virus/

(29) https://www.who.int/bulletin/online_first/16-171223.pdf

(30) https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/microcephaly-brazil-zika-reality-1.3442580

(31) https://thevaccinereaction.org/2016/09/brazil-study-raises-major-doubts-about-zika-microcephaly-link/

(32) https://inhabitat.com/is-zika-the-real-cause-of-microcephaly-in-brazil-new-study-raises-questions/

(33) https://globalnews.ca/news/2512640/is-zika-virus-causing-a-spike-in-microcephaly-in-babies/

(34) https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/14/health/zika-virus-causes-birth-defects-cdc.html

(35) https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/16/health/zika-virus-microcephaly-rate.html

(36) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/brazilians-panic-as-mosquito-linked-to-brain-damage-in-thousands-of-babies/2016/01/15/7e8e2dec-b8ca-11e5-85cd-5ad59bc19432_story.html

(37) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/12/23/brazil-declares-emergency-after-2400-babies-are-born-with-brain-damage-possibly-due-to-mosquito-borne-virus/

(38) https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/the-globe-in-brazil-zikas-groundzero/article28934757/

(39) https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/sep/9/dr-thomas-frieden-cdc-chief-zika-will-be-sobering-/

(40) https://nationalpost.com/news/zika-virus-explosive-spread-is-a-global-emergency-and-extraordinary-event-who-says

(41) https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/09/health/zika-virus-women-pregnancy.html

(42) https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/10/health/zika-virus-pregnancy-who.html

(43) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-25/countries-hit-with-zika-virus-are-telling-women-not-to-get-pregnant

(44) https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/zika-virus/pregnant-planning-pregnancy.html

(45) https://www.washingtonpost.com/zika-and-pregnancy/bf70c3c4-23e0-4981-9ff3-3624ffcdef0c_note.html  (avoid sex)

(46) https://www.nytimes.com/1988/11/26/world/abortions-across-latin-america-rising-despite-illegality-and-risks.html

(47) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/zika-prompts-urgent-debate-about-abortion-in-latin-america/2016/02/07/b4f3a718-cc6b-11e5-b9ab-26591104bb19_story.html

(48) https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/zika-awakens-debate-over-legal-and-safe-abortion-in-latin-america1/

(49) https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/08/05/zika-outbreak-could-reignite-abortion-debate/87961918/

(50) https://www.newscientist.com/article/2094448-zika-virus-prompts-increase-in-unsafe-abortions-in-latin-america/

(51) https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/jul/19/zika-emergency-pushes-women-to-challenge-brazil-abortion-law

(52) https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/04/world/americas/zika-virus-brazil-abortion-laws.html

(53) https://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3447789/Infographic-reveals-Brazil-countries-Zika-virus-income-tourism-drop-53-2billion-single-year.html

54) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/12/rio-olympics-zika-amir-attaran-public-health-threat

*

Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He can be contacted at: 2186604556@qq.com. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Copyright © Larry Romanoff, Moon of Shanghai, 2020

June 12, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments

Parliament summons Jeanine Áñez to clarify corruption scandal

By Lucas Leiroz | May 29, 2020

The coup d’état carried out in Bolivia was the starting point for a major wave of social, political and economic setbacks in the country. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America, with very high poverty rates, however, during the years of Evo Morales, the country’s growth was enormous, reaching the point of being the South American country with the greatest economic growth. The seizure of power by the coup d’état represented the return of the worst growth rates, in addition to a huge escalation of violence against indigenous populations – extremely respected previously by Evo Morales – and gigantic corruption scandals.

Bolivia’s interim president, Jeanine Añez, recently proved the nature behind the new government by being indicted in a lawsuit. Añez and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karen Longaric, were the first people summoned to provide information for a current investigation. The charge against both is of involvement in corruption networks during the purchase of ventilators and other medical supplies to – supposedly – fight the pandemic.

The corruption scandal in Bolivia started a few weeks ago, when health professionals reported that the Spanish ventilators acquired by the Bolivian State were of low quality and unfit for hospital use with the purpose of facing a pandemic. According to official sources, the Bolivian government has spent more than $27,000 on each device (about 170 devices), while domestic producers (Bolivians) charge about $1,000.

“This investigation will summon Jeanine Áñez, Longaric and other officials involved in this purchase that has become theft of the pockets of the entire Bolivian people,” lawmaker Édgar Montaño told reporters. According to the parliamentarian, Áñez must acknowledge that she knew all the details of the agreement, which she herself had ordered, while Longaric must explain why no action was taken after the Bolivian consul in Barcelona sent a report with the details of the contract. It is also worth remembering that, on Wednesday (May 20), Bolivia’s Minister of Health, Marcelo Navajas, was arrested and dismissed from office on suspicion of involvement in the corruption scandal.

As investigations progress, the situation becomes increasingly serious for Bolivian domestic politics, as major corruption schemes and illicit deals are discovered, revealed, and meticulously used as political weapons in party disputes within the country. Some people and groups that support the legitimate Bolivian president, Evo Morales, are innocently celebrating the performance of the Bolivian Parliament “against the coup”, but, in fact, there is no reason to celebrate so far.

If, on the one hand, there is something positive in the fact that the illicit activities of the coup government are being exposed, on the other, the central objective of the coup is being accomplished: the intention of the groups that financed and supported the overthrow of Morales was never to put Jeanine Añez (or any other politician) in power, but to completely destabilize the Bolivian State, creating a scenario of absolute political chaos, with total institutional bankruptcy, thus facilitating the transformation of Bolivia into a land of foreign interference.

In fact, we can predict that from now on it is likely that the next presidents of Bolivia, be they left or right (terms absolutely outdated and geopolitically irrelevant), will fall in succession, without completing their mandates and the country’s command will remain, thus, vulnerable and without a central guardian of law and order. Within the chaotic scenario, the irregular action of external agents and foreign meddling in Bolivia will be simpler and, in addition to structural problems such as poverty and hunger, Bolivians would have to deal with a situation of total subordination to foreign powers – which it did not exist in the time of Morales, when the country tried to chart a sovereign and independent way, besides achieving diverse progress in many social indices.

What now happens in Bolivia can also be seen when we analyze several previous experiences. Countries victimized by the so-called “colorful revolutions” – hybrid wars disguised under the mask of democratic revolutions – tend to be characterized after the outcome of such “revolutions” by the establishment of true “zombie states”, which consist of nothing more than innocuous institutions and without any strength to deal with the real problems of their countries.

With the presidential election situation still uncertain in the midst of the pandemic – the Executive Branch and the Judiciary made different decisions and, amid institutional chaos, nothing is yet fully defined – the future of the Bolivian government is really unknown, but the scenario is very pessimistic, with few expectations of overcoming the crisis. The tendency is for Jeanine to fall and, after her, the next president will also not fulfill his mandate completely. In contemporary hybrid warfare, attacks are continuous and “colorful revolutions” tend to be permanent.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

May 29, 2020 Posted by | Corruption | , | Leave a comment

Five Myths About the Venezuelan Opposition

Venezuelanalysis • May 24, 2020

The corporate media is almost unanimous in its support for US regime change plans in Venezuela. This support naturally extends to the US-backed Venezuelan anti-Chavista opposition, which in the past 20 years has constantly tried to overthrow the government. In order to maintain uncritical support for the opposition, the mainstream media has created a series of “myths” about it. The latest joint VA-Tatuy TV production explores five myths that sustain this favorable coverage.

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 2 Comments