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Massive Embezzlement Scandal Threatens Juan Guaido’s Political Future

By Alexander Rubinstein – MintPress News – June 17, 2019

The political party of Juan Guaido — Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) — was never all that popular to begin with. The sixth largest political party in Venezuela, Popular Will is heavily financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Now, a recently exposed embezzlement scandal in Colombia risks to further alienate the party from the Venezuelan people.

What was supposed to be Guaido’s watershed moment has instead turned out to be a public-relations failure far worse than his quickly quelled attempted military coup, which MintPress News reported caused even the New York Times to describe Guaido as “deflated.”

What happened in Colombia appears to be so damning that not only is the Colombian intelligence service leaking documents exposing wrongdoing by Popular Will representatives appointed by Guaido, but the Organization of American States (OAS) — which is typically just as pro-opposition as the Colombian government — has called for an investigation. 

In a tweet issued June 14 at 10:47 p.m. Venezuela time, Guaido called on his ambassador to Colombia — whom he had shut out of the aid event — to formally request an investigation by Colombian authorities, whose already-existing investigation is the reason the story came out in the first place. That was more than four hours after Secretary General of the OAS Luis Almagro called for an investigation that would clarify the “serious charges,” identify those responsible and effectuate accountability.

But Guaido had already been well aware of the charges, having dismissed his appointees who appear to be ringleaders of the embezzlement scheme. According to the report, he was contacted by the journalist who exposed the scandal 30 days before the story was published.

What happened in Cúcuta isn’t staying in Cúcuta

There’s barely a peep about the scandal in the Western press. A Google News search for “Juan Guaido scandal” and “Popular Will scandal” turned up nothing of relevance at the time of this article’s writing. But on Latin America social media, everyone is buzzing about it. American journalist Dan Cohen appears to be the first to highlight the scandal to an English-speaking audience.

It started with a request from Juan Guaido to billionaire investor and regime-change enthusiast Richard Branson.

The stated purpose of the concert was to help raise funds for humanitarian aid and spotlight the economic crisis. At least that’s how it was billed to Americans. To Venezuela’s upper class, it was touted as the “trendiest concert of the decade.”

It was to be a congregation of the elite with the ostensible purpose of raising funds for the poor. One director of Popular Will told Vice News in 2014 that “the bulk of the opposition protesters are from the middle and upper classes and are led by Venezuela’s elite.” The class character of the opposition has not changed since.

Meanwhile, USAID was to coordinate the delivery of aid alongside Guaido; and Elliot Abrams, who in Guatemala used “humanitarian aid” as cover for the delivery of weapons into the country, is running the White House’s policies toward Venezuela. And so the aid was widely criticized, even by the International Red Cross, as politicized. By others, it was called a Trojan Horse.

The concert was held in Colombia across a bridge linking the country to Venezuela. International media had claimed Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro had the bridge shut down to prevent the delivery of aid, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded that the “Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE.” But the bridge, in fact, has never been opened for use.

Nonetheless, Richard Branson sought to raise $100 million and promised that Guiado “will be coming to the other side of the bridge with maybe a million of his supporters.” In the end, it was a little more than 200,000 who came.

Meanwhile, Guaido told the President of Colombia, Ivan Duque, that more than 1,450 soldiers had defected from the military to join them. But that figure was also inflated. A new report by PanAmPress, a Miami-based libertarian newspaper, reveals that it was just 700. “You can count on your fingers the number of decent soldiers who are there,” one local told the outlet.

Despite the low turnout, organizers lived it up in Colombia. Representatives from Popular Will, which rejects the socialist leadership of Venezuela, found themselves living like socialites across the border.

There were earlier signs of excess and debauchery. One Popular Will representative was hospitalized and his assistant found dead after overdosing while taking drugs with prostitutes, although Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) claims they were poisoned.b

The inflated soldier count meant more funds for the organizers, who were charged with putting them up in hotel rooms. Guaido’s “army was small but at this point it had left a very bad impression in Cucuta. Prostitutes, alcohol, and violence. They demanded and demanded,” the report said.

They also left a bad taste in the mouth of the authorities. The Colombian government was supposed to pay for some of the hotels, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was to cover the costs of others, while Guaido’s people were only going to pony up the cash for two of the seven hotels.

But Popular Will never paid, leaving one hotel with a debt of $20,000. When the situation became completely untenable, the hotel kicked 65 soldiers and their families to the curb. One soldier anonymously told the outlet that the party was not taking care of their financial needs as promised.

Guaido’s ambassador to Colombia took money out of his own pocket to try to resolve the dispute, but the check bounced.

The responsibility of taking care of the needs of the defectors went to Popular Will militants Rossana Barrera and Kevin Rojas, as decreed by Juan Guaido in a signed statement. They were also charged with overseeing the humanitarian aid.

Barrera is the sister-in-law of Popular Will member of Congress Sergio Vargara, Guaido’s right-hand man. She and Rojas were managing all the funds.

But the pair started to live well outside their means, a Colombian intelligence source told the outlet. “They gave me all the evidence,” writes PanAmPress reporter Orlando Avendano. “Receipts that show excesses, some strangely from different check books, signed the same day but with identical writing styles.”

Rojas and Berrera were spending nearly a thousand dollars at a time in the hotels and nightclubs. Similar amounts were spent at times on luxurious dinners and fancy drinks. They went on clothes shopping sprees at high-end retail outlets in the capital. They reportedly overcharged the fund on vehicle rentals and the hotels, making off with the extra cash. Berrera even told Popular Will that she was paying for all seven hotels, not just the two. And they provided Guaido with the fake figure of more than 1,450 military defectors that needed accommodation.

In order to keep the funds flowing, Rojas and Berrera pitched a benefit dinner for the soldiers to Guiado’s embassy in Colombia. But when the embassy refused to participate, Berrera created a fake email address posing as a representative of the embassy, sending invitations to Israeli and U.S. diplomats. They canceled the event after Guaido’s embassy grew wise to the scheme and alerted those invited.

“The whole government of Colombia knew about it: the intelligence community, the presidency, and the foreign ministry,” writes PanAmPress, calling it an “open secret” by the time Guaido dismissed the pair. But that was after Guaido had been defending them staunchly, trying to avoid a firing by transferring responsibilities to the embassy.

Berrera was called to the embassy for a financial audit, represented by Luis Florido, a founding member of Popular Will. She turned in just a fraction of the records uncovered by Colombian intelligence, accounting for only $100,000 in expenditures. “The [real] amount is large,” the outlet reports, citing an intelligence agent who says far more was blown.

Meanwhile, “at least 60 percent of the food donated” by foreign governments “was damaged.”

“The food is rotten, they tell me,” the PanAmPress reporter said, adding that he was shown photographs. “They don’t know how to deal with it without causing a scandal. I suppose they will burn it.”

It isn’t yet known exactly how much was embezzled by Popular Will, but it is likely the truth will come out in due time, and more investigations are likely underway. On Monday, Venezuelan defectors said they will hold a press conference in Cucuta, showcasing more corruption by Popular Will. For now, however, the fallout remains to be seen.

One thing is certain: the scandal threatens to end Juan Guaido’s 15 minutes of fame. The de facto opposition leader had little name recognition inside Venezuela and never won a political position with more than 100,000 votes behind him. But the overnight sensation never had a lengthy life expectancy anyway.

Though he received so few votes (Venezuela’s population is nearly 32 million), Guaido became the president of the National Assembly because the body is controlled by a coalition of opposition groups, despite President Nicolas Maduro’s PSUV Party being the largest in the country. That was in January, and the length of the term lasts only one year. In 2015, the opposition coalition decided that after each term, the seat would be rotated to a representative of a different opposition party. While there is no law barring Guaido from being appointed president of the National Assembly again, tradition runs counter to it and another party may want to seize on a chance to get into the limelight.

Supporters of the coup — and Guaido’s self-declaration as interim president — claim that Maduro is derelict of his duties, which justifies a transition of presidential power according to the constitution. But the article that allows for such a transition in certain cases stipulates that ”a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days.”

To date, Guaido has run 145 days past his deadline to have elections held, and the opposition has made it clear they are not willing to accept new elections if Maduro runs.

This, of course, makes little dent in Guaido’s legitimacy in the eyes of the U.S. and other countries that have recognized his presidency. U.S. allies in Latin America have shown over the past few years that they have little regard for the sanctity of their constitutions. In 2017, a U.S.-backed candidate in Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, ran for re-election in explicit violation of that country’s constitution and only wound up winning through fraud. Last week, Ecuador made the decision to allow the U.S. military to operate from an airfield in the Galapagos Islands despite a constitutional provision stating that the “establishment of foreign military bases or foreign facilities for military purposes shall not be allowed.”

Alexander Rubinstein is a staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He reports on police, prisons and protests in the United States and the United States’ policing of the world. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.

 

June 18, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | 1 Comment

Total Deception: US House Votes to ‘Enhance Stabilization of Conflict-Affected Areas and Prevent Violence and Fragility Globally’

By Adam Dick | Ron Paul Institute | May 24, 2019

The United States government, through arms including the US Department of State and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), has long been promoting violence and destruction in previously relatively peaceful and prosperous places around the world. It has done so through supporting sides in conflicts and stirring up conflicts in an effort to determine who governs — either seeking to prop up or overthrow national governments.

This week, the US House of Representatives passed by a voice vote a bill (HR 2116) titled the Global Fragility Act and carrying this short description of its intent: “To enhance stabilization of conflict-affected areas and prevent violence and fragility globally, and for other purposes.” Having been approved in the House, the bill now can proceed to consideration in the US Senate.

You might expect that the Global Fragility Act would, through actions such as placing limits on or defunding activities of the State Department and USAID, seek to stop the US from intervening abroad. That would be a welcome development.

Unfortunately, things tend not to work that way in Washington, DC. In Washington DC “up” is “down” and, as George Orwell wrote about the dystopia in his novel 1984, “war” is “peace.” The Global Fragility Act is a bill to enable the US government to further “break” the world through, among other things, giving the State Department and USAID hundreds of millions of dollars a year to stir up more trouble and further attempt to control who governs in countries around the world.

The bill authorizes appropriating 200 million dollars each of the next five years into a new Stabilization and Prevention Fund administered by the State Department and USAID. And the bill directs that this money be spent on the kinds of purposes typically used to excuse US efforts to support or overthrow governments across the world — supporting “stabilization of conflict-affected areas;” preventing violence; and countering “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, other terrorist organizations, or violent extremist organizations.­”

On top of that, the Global Fragility Act also provides an additional 30 million dollars a year for the next five years to a new Complex Crisis Fund. This fund, the bill directs, will be administered by USAID. The bill states that USAID is to spend the money “to support programs and activities to prevent or respond to emerging or unforeseen foreign challenges and complex crises overseas.” It does not get much more open-ended than that. In short, USAID can use the fund to pursue intervention overseas in just about any way imaginable.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the sponsor of the Global Fragility Act, touted on the House floor this week before the bill was approved by a voice vote that the legislation “gets at the heart of what we want to see from our diplomatic and development efforts around the world: helping places already torn apart by violence to recover and preventing the start of violence in other places where factors are ripe for its outbreak.” Following Engel, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the bill’s lead Republican cosponsor, declared the bill “will make the world a safer place long term.” Don’t believe a word of it. The Global Fragility Act promises to increase US government efforts bringing to the world more violence, more destruction, and more fragility, not less.

May 25, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | 16 Comments

Guaido Set to Enact Uprising Rooted in US Regime-Change Operations Manual

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | March 30, 2019

CARACAS, VENEZUELA — Juan Guaidó, the self-proclaimed “interim president of Venezuela” who is supported by the United States government, recently announced coming “tactical actions” that will be taken by his supporters starting April 6 as part of “Operation Freedom,” an alleged grassroots effort to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

That operation, according to Guaidó, will be led by “Freedom and Aid Committees” that in turn create “freedom cells” throughout the country — “cells” that will spring to action when Guaidó gives the signal on April 6 and launch large-scale community protests. Guaidó’s stated plan involves the Venezuelan military then taking his side, but his insistence that “all options are still on the table” (i.e., foreign military intervention) reveals his impatience with the military, which has continued to stay loyal to Maduro throughout Guaidó’s “interim presidency.”

However, a document released by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in February, and highlighted last month in a report by Devex, details the creation of networks of small teams, or cells, that would operate in a way very similar to what Guaidó describes in his plan for “Operation Freedom.”

Given that Guaidó was trained by a group funded by USAID’s sister organization, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) — and is known to take his marching orders from Washington, including his self-proclamation as “interim president” and his return to Venezuela following the “humanitarian aid” showdown — it is worth considering that this USAID document may well serve as a roadmap to the upcoming and Guaidó-led “tactical actions” that will comprise “Operation Freedom.”

RED Teams

Titled “Rapid Expeditionary Development (RED) Teams: Demand and Feasibility Assessment,” the 75-page document was produced for the U.S. Global Development Lab, a branch of USAID. It was written as part of an effort to the “widespread sentiment” among the many military, intelligence, and development officials the report’s authors interviewed “that the USG [U.S. government] is woefully underperforming in non-permissive and denied environments,” including Venezuela. Notably, some of the military, intelligence and development officials interviewed by the report’s authors had experience working in a covert capacity in Venezuela.

The approach put forth in this report involves the creation of rapid expeditionary development (RED) teams, who would “be deployed as two-person teams and placed with ‘non-traditional’ USAID partners executing a mix of offensive, defensive, and stability operations in extremis conditions.” The report notes later on that these “non-traditional” partners are U.S. Special Forces (SF) and the CIA.

The report goes on to state that “RED Team members would be catalytic actors, performing development activities alongside local communities while coordinating with interagency partners.” It further states that “[i]t is envisioned that the priority competency of proposed RED Team development officers would be social movement theory (SMT)” and that “RED Team members would be ‘super enablers,’ observing situations on the ground and responding immediately by designing, funding, and implementing small-scale activities.”

In other words, these teams of combined intelligence, military and/or “democracy promoting” personnel would work as “super enablers” of “small-scale activities” focused on “social movement theory” and community mobilizations, such as the mobilizations of protests.

The decentralized nature of RED teams and their focus on engineering “social movements” and “mobilizations” is very similar to Guaidó’s plan for “Operation Freedom.” Operation Freedom is set to begin through “Freedom and Aid committees” that cultivate decentralized “freedom cells” throughout the country and that create mass mobilizations when Guaidó gives the go ahead on April 6. The ultimate goal of Operation Freedom is to have those “freedom cell”-generated protests converge on Venezuela’s presidential palace, where Nicolás Maduro resides. Given Guaidó’s lack of momentum and popularity within Venezuela, it seems highly likely that U.S. government “catalytic actors” may be a key part of his upcoming plan to topple Maduro in little over a week.

Furthermore, an appendix included in the report states that RED Team members, in addition to being trained in social movement theory and community mobilization techniques, would also be trained in “weapons handling and use,” suggesting that their role as “catalytic actors” could also involve Maidan-esque behavior. This is a distinct possibility raised by the report’s claim that RED Team members be trained in the use of both “offensive” and “defensive” weaponry.

In addition, another appendix states that RED Team members would help “identify allies and mobilize small amounts of cash to establish community buy-in/relationship” —  i.e., bribes — and would particularly benefit the CIA by offering a way to “transition covert action into community engagement activities.”

Feeling Bolsonaro’s breath on its neck

Also raising the specter of a Venezuela link is the fact that the document suggests Brazil as a potential location for a RED Team pilot study. Several of those interviewed for the report asserted that “South American countries were ripe for pilots” of the RED Team program, adding that “These [countries were] under-reported, low-profile, idiot-proof locations, where USG civilian access is fairly unrestrained by DS [Diplomatic Security] and where there is a positive American relationship with the host government.”

This January, Brazil inaugurated Jair Bolsonaro as president, a fascist who has made his intention to align the country close to Washington’s interests no secret. During Bolsonaro’s recent visit to Washington, he became the first president of that country to visit CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. President Donald Trump said during his meeting with Bolsonaro that “We have a great alliance with Brazil — better than we’ve ever had before” and spoke in favor of Brazil joining NATO.

Though Bolsonaro’s government has claimed late in February that it would not allow the U.S. to launch a military intervention from its territory, Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro — an adviser to his father and a Brazilian congressman — said last week that “use of force will be necessary” in Venezuela “at some point” and, echoing the Trump administration, added that “all options are on the table.” If Bolsonaro’s government does allow the “use of force,” but not a full-blown foreign military intervention per se, its closeness to the Trump administration and the CIA suggests that covert actions, such as those carried out by the proposed RED Teams, are a distinct possibility.

Frontier Design Group

The RED Team report was authored by members of Frontier Design Group (FDG) for USAID’s Global Development Lab. FDG is a national security contractor and its mission statement on its website is quite revealing:

Since our founding, Frontier has focused on the challenges and opportunities that concern the “3Ds” of Defense, Development and Diplomacy and critical intersections with the intelligence community. Our work has focused on the wicked and sometimes overlapping problem sets of fragility, violent extremism, terrorism, civil war, and insurgency. Our work on these complex issues has included projects with the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, USAID, the National Counterterrorism Center and the U.S. Institute of Peace.”

FDG also states on is website that it also regularly does work for the Council on Foreign Relations and the Omidyar Group — which is controlled by Pierre Omidyar, a billionaire with deep ties to the U.S. national security establishment that were the subject of a recent MintPress series. According to journalist Tim Shorrock, who mentions the document in a recent investigation focusing on Pierre Omidyar for Washington Babylon, FDG was the “sole contractor” hired by USAID to create a “new counterinsurgency doctrine for the Trump administration” and the fruit of that effort is the “RED Team” document described above.

One of the co-authors of the document is Alexa Courtney, FDG founder and former USAID liaison officer with the Department of Defense; former manager of civilian counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan for USAID; and former counterinsurgency specialist for U.S. intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

In addition, according to Shorrock, Courtney’s name has also been found “on several Caerus [Associates] contracts with USAID and US intelligence that were leaked to me on a thumb drive, including a $77 million USAID project to track ‘licit and illicit networks’ in Honduras.” Courtney, according to her LinkedIn account, was also recently honored by Chevron Corporation for her “demonstrated leadership and impact on development results.” MintPress recently reported on the role of Chevron in the current U.S.-led effort to topple Maduro and replace him with Guaidó.

Send in the USAID

Though Devex was told last month that USAID was “still working on the details in formulating the Rapid Expeditionary Development (RED) Teams initiative,” Courtney stated that the report’s contents had been “received really favorably” by “very senior” and “influential” former and current government officials she had interviewed during the creation of the document.

For instance, one respondent asserted that the RED Team system would “restore the long-lost doing capacity of USAID.” Another USAID official with 15 years of experience, including in “extremely denied environments,” stated that:

We have to be involved in national security or USAID will not be relevant. Anybody who doesn’t think we need to be working in combat elements or working with SF [special forces] groups is just naïve. We are either going to be up front or irrelevant … USAID is going through a lot right now, but this is an area where we can be of utility. It must happen.”

Given that the document represents the efforts of the sole contractor tasked with developing the current administration’s new counterterrorism strategy, there is plenty of reason to believe that its contents — published for over a year — have been or are set to be put to use in Venezuela, potentially as part of the upcoming “Operation Freedom,” set to begin on April 6.

This is supported by the troubling correlation between a document produced by the NED-funded group CANVAS and the recent power outages that have taken place throughout Venezuela, which were described as U.S.-led “sabotage” by the country’s government. A recent report by The Grayzone detailed how a September 2010 memo by CANVAS — which trained Juan Guaidó — described in detail how the potential collapse of the country’s electrical infrastructure, like that recently seen in Venezuela, would be “a watershed event” that “would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate.”

The document specifically named the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant at Guri Dam, which failed earlier this month as a result of what the Venezuelan government asserted was “sabotage” conducted by the U.S. government. That claim was bolstered by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s apparent foreknowledge of the power outage. Thus, there is a precedent of correlation between these types of documents and actions that occur in relation to the current U.S. regime-change effort in Venezuela.

Furthermore, it would make sense for the Trump administration to attempt to enact such an initiative as that described in the document, given its apparent inability to launch a military intervention in Venezuela, despite its frequent claims that “all options are on the table.” Indeed, U.S. allies — including those close to Venezuela, like Colombia — have rejected military intervention, given the U.S.’ past role in bloody coups and civil wars throughout the region.

Thus, with its hands tied when it comes to military intervention, only covert actions — such as those described in the RED Team document — are likely to be enacted by the U.S. government, at least at this stage of its ongoing “regime change” effort in Venezuela.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

March 30, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

White Helmets Under Black Banners

By Yuriy Zinin – New Eastern Outlook – 22.03.2019

During the recent Third Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria, in Brussels, the USA decided to allocate $5 million to the White Helmets, a decision which has once more turned the spotlight onto that organization.

It first emerged in 2013, under a banner of political neutrality: a non-partisan NPO formed of volunteers who carried out humanitarian missions, and its members were promptly branded as heroes by the media. They were represented as people who rushed to rescue their fellow citizens in the face of savage bombing raids by government forces: saving lives, providing first aid etc.

According to the White Helmets, its volunteers have “saved” some 115 thousand people in the years since the organization was founded. This figure was taken at face value by Western officials and media, and has been endlessly repeated.

In addition to their humanitarian mission the “rescuers” prepared various materials from the front lines of the conflict in Syria. They posted photographs and videos of bombed hospitals, schools and mosques on their social media accounts as evidence of the “evil” of the Damascus regime. They focused on producing content that would touch viewers in the West on a raw nerve. So they emphasized, above all, the suffering of Syrian children: the victims of shooting, bombing and other horrors of war.

All these materials were directed at a mass audience, and their creators were highly praised and awarded a number of international prizes.  In 2015, for example, the White Helmets were awarded the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize – worth approximately € 50,000. The film The White Helmets won an Oscar in 2018 for the Best Short Subject Documentary.

Nevertheless, all this tub-thumping is unable to hide certain inconvenient facts. Particularly, the fact that, ever since the organization’s brigades first appeared on the scene they have operated exclusively in areas outside the control of the Syrian government and controlled by armed opposition groups, including DAESH and the Al-Nusra Front.

These groups punished the slightest insubordination in the areas they controlled. The White Helmets’ claims that they remained politically independent when active in these areas are therefore rather unconvincing. Their members accepted the new status quo and were loyal to the militants, which naturally played into the militants’ hands.

According to experts from a number of different countries, members of the White Helmets were drawn into the conflict In March 2017 on the side of the armed opposition groups, and provided them with various kinds of support. In March 2017, Abu Jaber, one of the leaders of the Al-Nusra Front expressed his sincere thanks to the White Helmets, calling them the “unseen warriors of the revolution”. It is not for nothing that a number of Arabic media have described the organization as “White Helmets under a black flag”.

That did not prevent their sponsors from the West and the Middle East from generously financing their activities. The organization’s director admits that it has received money from government and private donors in the USA, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and a number of other European countries as well as Turkey, Qatar and other Persian Gulf states.

The largest donor has been the United States Agency for International development (USAID), which paid the White Helmets at least $23 million between 2013 and 2016.

The special services also lent a helping hand. One of the movement’s founders and inspirers is James Le Mesurier, a former British intelligence officer and soldier who has fought in Bosnia, Kosovo and the Lebanon. He is the head of the Mayday Rescue Foundation which supported the White Helmets using funds it received from donors, including $4.5 million from NGOs in the Netherlands and the same amount from donors in Germany.

The activists did their best to earn the funding and donations they were given.The organizations posted false reports on its social network accounts. It actively took part in a public relations campaign accusing the Syrian authorities and their allies of using chemical weapons.

The USA and its allies cited the materials fabricated by the White Helmets. These materials were used in meetings of the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to prepare the ground for resolutions and other measures, including military intervention, against the Syrian government.

The White Helmets played a very underhand role as agents provocateurs, by fabricating chemical weapons attacks in the town of Khan Shaykhun, in Idlib Province on 7 April 2017, and in East Douma in April 2018. There was no proof of responsibility, but that did not prevent the USA from attacking the Syrian air base of Shayrat in response to the first of these incidents, after which the USA, the UK and France launched missile attacks against a number of targets in Syria which were allegedly connected with the manufacture of chemical weapons.

As the rebels have lost territory in Syria, the areas in which the White Helmets operate has been reduced. The situation has changed dramatically, and in 2018 the organization went through a “very difficult time”, as Raed Saleh, the head of the group has acknowledged.

In June 2018 the Israeli army helped with an urgent evacuation of several hundred so-called rescuers belonging to the White Helmets from Syria, along with their families. Many of the countries that supported the organization declared that they were ready to accept these refugees and provide them with support.

The story of the White Helmets is an example of a new kind of media project: one with a strong humanitarian element, which unfolds in front of the public’s eyes. This project was launched following the failure to topple the Syrian government, as had been done in Libya. When it became clear that Bashar Assad’s presidency was not about to collapse, then his opponents initiated a long-drawn-out siege. And one of their main weapons was the White Helmets, with foreign support.

The White Helmets now resemble a terminally ill patient who is confined to bed and scarcely breathing. Now that the terrorists have been defeated in most parts of Syria, the organization has exited the stage – the only region where its members are still partially active is Idlib Province, which is not yet under government control.

But will the latest grant of funds, which the US lobbied for in the Brussels conference on Syria, be able to help save this chronic invalid? It seems unlikely. On the contrary, it will merely go to prove, once again, who the White Helmets are supported by, and whose interests they really represent.

Yury Zinin, Leading Research Fellow at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

March 22, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

Company Behind Meddling Report Helps Businesses ‘Smear Critics as Russian Bots’

Sputnik – 27.12.2018

One of the authors of a major report on alleged Russian social media meddling during the 2016 elections, Jonathon Morgan, has been banned from Facebook following revelations that the company he serves as a CEO of – New Knowledge – staged a “false flag” operation during the 2017 special election in Alabama.

Four other accounts run by “multiple” people were also banned, but it isn’t clear which accounts they were. “There’s really no transparency from Facebook,” documentary filmmaker and RT America correspondent Dan Cohen, who published an explosive article on the New Knowledge influence operation in Alabama recently, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear.

“Who knows what else those four Facebook accounts reveal about this operation or other operations. I’m guessing we saw a very small amount of what happened here. You know, when there’s smoke there’s fire,” Cohen added.

New Knowledge’s report on the alleged Russian operation was touted on both sides of the aisle of the Senate Intelligence Committee, for whom the report was prepared.

Committee Chairman Sen. Mark Warner (D-IN) called the report a “bombshell” and “wake up call.” Ranking Republican Richard Burr (R-NC), called it “proof positive that one of the most important things we can do is increase information sharing between the social media companies who can identify disinformation campaigns and the third-party experts who can analyze them.”

The reports’ author — New Knowledge — was recently revealed to have “orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet,” an internal report from the company obtained exclusively by the New York Times says.

Morgan, the CEO of the company, had previously — during the height of the campaign — blamed “Russian trolls” for seeking to influence the election as New Knowledge did exactly that, Sputnik News reported.

Morgan also helped start the Hamilton 68 Dashboard, a tool which claimed it tracked Russian trolls. However, it does no such thing and one of the project founders, Clint Watts even said he was “not convinced on this bot thing.”

In fact, according to Watts, unnamed people on the project didn’t even believe the accounts were “commanded in Russia — at all. We think some of them are legitimately passionate people that are just really into promoting Russia.”

Cohen scoured Morgan’s interviews and discovered a number of absurd claims.

“We developed some techniques for determining who matters in a conversation,” Morgan said of the dashboard’s methodology. “Using some of those techniques, we’ve identified a subset of accounts that we’re very confident are core to furthering the Russian narrative in response to mainstream events.”

In another interview, Morgan informed Americans how they can tell whether they have been misled by Russian disinformation: “If it makes you feel too angry or really provokes that type of almost tribal response, then it may be designed to manipulate you… People should be concerned about things that encourage them to change their behavior.”

Morgan is “basically a career spook who came up through the Obama White House and State Department, acting as an advisor; founded a series of startups using USAID and funds from the Omidyar Network,” Cohen told Loud & Clear hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou. “And then he founded this group called New Knowledge, and thanks to a massive investment from venture capitalists, he was able to basically manipulate the 2017 special [Senate] elections to replace Jeff Sessions in Alabama.”

The race was hotly contested by the two candidates: “centrist” Democrat Doug Jones and “far right Christian theocrat” Roy Moore. Jones narrowly beat Moore, but “we’ll never know how much this cyber meddling operation that Morgan and New Knowledge — what the impact was,” Cohen said.

Nonetheless, New Knowledge’s impact is clear and significant in the case of the Senate report it authored with innumerable articles breathlessly covering its contents. That’s despite the assessment of the news site Foreign Policy, which profiled an analyst at New Knowledge and included the caveat that New Knowledge’s “method of analysis is in its infancy, remains a fairly blunt instrument, and still requires human intervention. It sometimes mistakes real people who post anti-imperialist arguments about US foreign policy for Kremlin trolls, for example.”

It’s also “important” to note that New Knowledge primarily concerns itself with private affairs, Cohen said. “They serve the private sector, so if you’re an oil or gas corporation who does fracking or something like that, and you’re getting criticized online, you can hire your New Knowledge to smear your critics as Russian bots.”

December 27, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

After Giving $15 Million To Soros Orgs, USAID Fires Half Of Its West Bank Staff

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 11/25/2018

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that half of its West Bank and Gaza employees will be let go over the next few weeks, and that operations will completely cease by early 2019, according to Haaretz.

The humanitarian agency has been a longstanding presence in the region for nearly 25 years.

The Trump State Department notified USAID last week that they would need to present a list of 60 percent of its employees to be dismissed immediately – with a full shutdown to ensue shortly thereafter.

The U.S. federal government agency handles civilian assistance to various countries around the world. The USAID chapter in the West Bank and Gaza began operating in 1994, focusing mainly on economic issues including water, infrastructure, education and health. USAID has invested about $5.5 billion in the West Bank and Gaza in the construction of roads, schools, clinics and community centers. – Haaretz

The shutdown is thought to be linked to President Trump’s funding freeze for various Palestinian relief organizations, as dozens of USAID projects in the West Bank and Gaza were suspended – even those which were partially completed.

In the current budgetary year, the United States was projected to have transferred a total of $250 million in aid to various Palestinian organizations. $35 million of which was supposed to be allocated to the Palestinian Authority security forces and $215 million to economic development, humanitarian assistance and coexistence projects, some through USAID. Last August, the United States announced that the money would be diverted to matters were deemed higher priority to U.S. interests. – Haaretz

Meanwhile, approximately 180 employees operating out of the US Embassy in Israel have yet to receive budgeting for their 2018 and 2019 operations – while leftover funds have been diverted from projects to paying salaries and maintaining the organization. US Ambassador David Friedman has given USAID the cold shoulder over the past few months, according to Haaretz, citing officials involved in the matter, adding that Friedman has not held meetings with USAID officials on various projects.

In March, Fox News reported that USAID gave nearly $15 million to George Soros’ Open Society Foundation over Obama’s last four years in office alone, which conducts extensive work in the West Bank / Palestine region – however the funding was primarily for Soros operations in Albania and Macedonia.

According to the USAID website, the agency gave over $18 million to an Open Society Institute (OSI) program from 2005 – 2012 operating in the West Bank, which sought to place prospective Palestinian PhD students in United States partner universities with waived or reduced tuition.

These types of programs are coming to an end, however, at least at the US Taxpayer’s expense.

November 26, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Israel Lobbying for $900Mln in US Financial Aid – Document

CC BY 2.0 / zeevveez / Unites States of Israel
Sputnik – 29.09.2018

WASHINGTON – The Israeli government is lobbying in Washington, DC for $900 million in US financial aid, a lobbying registration form revealed.

“We will lobby the United States federal government, including the White House, the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, the United States Department of State, the United States Department of the Treasury, the United States Department of Commerce and the USAID to provide more than $900 million in financial aid to Israel,” the registration form by the Israeli government said on Friday.

The Israeli government said it has hired the American Federal Lobbying Firm to lobby on its behalf and protect its interests in Washington DC, according to the form.

US President Donald Trump during his address to the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday said the United States will be reviewing all of its foreign assistance programs and will only be contributing aid to countries that are respectful and friendly.

September 29, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 2 Comments

How NATO-linked Think Tanks Control EU Refugee Policy

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 27.04.2016

A flood of uncontrolled war refugees from Syria, Libya, Tunisia and other Islamic countries destabilized by Washington’s ‘Arab Spring’ Color Revolutions, has created the greatest social dislocation across the EU from Germany to Sweden to Croatia since the end of World War II. By now it has become clear to most that something quite sinister is afoot, something which threatens to destroy the social fabric of the very core of European civilization. What few realize is that the entire drama is being orchestrated, not by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or by faceless EU bureaucrats of the Brussels EU Commission. It is being orchestrated by a cabal of NATO-linked think tanks.

Last October 8, 2015 amid the great stream of hundreds of thousands of refugees flooding into Germany from Syria, Tunisia, Libya and other lands, a newly self-confident German Chancellor Angela Merkel proclaimed on a popular German TV program, “I have a plan.” She took the occasion to take a sharp dig at coalition partner, Bavarian CSU head, Horst Seehofer, a stauch critic of Merkel’s open arms refugee position since spring 2015 that saw more than one million refugees enter Germany last year alone.

Since that point, with iron-hard resolve, the German Chancellor has defended the criminal Erdogan regime in Turkey, an essential partner in her “plan.”

Most of the world has looked on with astonishment as she ignored principles of free speech and decided to prosecute publicly a well-known German TV comedian, Jan Böhmermann, for his satirical remarks about the Turkish President. They were astonished as the symbol of European democracy, the German Chancellor, chose to ignore Erdogan’s imprisonment of opposition journalists and his shutting of Turk opposition media as he proceeded with plans to establish a de facto dictatorship rule within Turkey. They were puzzled as Berlin’s government chose to ignore overwhelming proof that Erdogan and his family were materially aiding and abetting ISIS terrorists within Syria who were in fact creating the war refugee crisis. They were astonished to see her push through an EU commitment to give Erdogan’s regime billions of euros to supposedly deal with the refugee flow from Turkish refugee camps across the border into EU neighbor land, Greece and beyond.

The Merkel Plan

All of those seemingly inexplicable actions from the once-pragmatic German leader appear to go back to her embrace of a 14-page document prepared by a network of pro-NATO think-tanks, brazenly titled “The Merkel Plan.”

What the newly-self-confident German Chancellor did not tell her hostess, Anne Will, or her viewers was that “her” plan was given to her just four days earlier, on October 4, in a document already titled The Merkel Plan, by a newly-created and obviously well-financed international think-tank called the European Stability Initiative or ESI. The ESI website showed that it had offices in Berlin, Brussels and in Istanbul, Turkey

Suspiciously, the authors of the ESI plan titled their plan as if it had come from the German Chancellor’s office and not from them. More suspicious is the contents of The Merkel Plan of ESI. In addition to already taking more than one million refugees in 2015, Germany should “agree to grant asylum to 500,000 Syrian refugees registered in Turkey over the coming 12 months.” In addition, “Germany should accept claims from Turkey… and provide safe transport to successful applicants… already registered with the Turkish authorities…” And finally, “Germany should agree to help Turkey obtain visa-free travel in 2016.”

That so-called Merkel Plan was a product of US and NATO-linked think tanks and of governments of NATO member countries or prospective members. The maxim “follow the money trail” is instructive in this case to see who really runs the EU today.

The ESI

The ESI came out of NATO-led efforts to transform South East Europe following the US-instigated war in Yugoslavia during the 1990’s that resulted in the Balkanization of the country and establishment of a major USA and NATO airbase, Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo.

Current ESI Chairman directly responsible for the final Merkel Plan document is Istanbul-based Austrian sociologist, Gerald Knaus. Knaus is also a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), and an Open Society Fellow.

Founded in London in 2007, the ECFR is an imitation of the influential New York Council on Foreign Relations, the think-tank created by the Rockefeller and JP Morgan bankers during the 1919 Versailles peace talks to coordinate an Anglo-American global foreign policy. Significantly, the creator and moneybags for the ECFR is American multi-billionaire and Color Revolution funder, George Soros. In virtually every US State Department-backed Color Revolution since the collapse of the Soviet Union, including in Serbia in 2000, in Ukraine, in Georgia, in China, in Brazil and in Russia, George Soros and offshoots of his Open Society Foundations have been in the shadows financing “democracy” NGOs and activists to install pro-Washington and pro-NATO regimes.

The select members, called Council Members or associates, of the London-based ECFR include ECFR co-chairman Joschka Fischer, former German Green Party Foreign Minister who arm-twisted his party into backing Bill Clinton’s illegal 1999 bombing of Serbia without UN Security Council backing.

Other members of the Council of Soros’ European Council on Foreign Relations think tank include former NATO Secretary General, Xavier Solana. It includes disgraced plaigarist and former German Defense Minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg; Annette Heuser, Executive Director Bertelsmann Stiftung in Washington DC; Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman, Munich Security Conference; Cem Özdemir, chairman, Bündnis90/Die Grünen; Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, German Liberal Party (FDP) MP; Michael Stürmer, Chief Correspondent, Die Welt; Andre Wilkens, Director of Mercator Foundation; pederasty defender, Daniel Cohn-Bendit of the European Parliament. Cohn-Bendit, known as “Danny the Red” during the May, 1968 French student riots, was a member of the the autonomist group Revolutionärer Kampf (Revolutionary Struggle) in Rüsselsheim, Germany along with his close ally, now ECFR chairman, Joschka Fischer. The two went on to found the “realo” wing of the German Greens.

The Open Society Foundations is the network of tax-exempt “democracy-promoting” foundations created by George Soros on the collapse of the Soviet Union to promote “free market” pro-IMF market liberalization of former communist economies that opened the doors for the systematic plundering of invaluable mining and energy assets of those countries. Soros was a major financier of the liberal economic team of Boris Yeltsin including Harvard “Shock Therapy” economist, Jeffrey Sachs, and Yeltsin liberal adviser, Yegor Gaidar.

Already it becomes clear that the “Merkel Plan” is the Soros Plan in fact. But there is more if we wish to understand the darker agenda behind the plan.

The ESI Funders

The European Stability Initiative think-tank of Soros-tied Gerald Knaus is financed by an impressive list of donors. Their website lists them.

The list includes, in addition to Soros’ Open Society Foundations, the Soros-tied German Stiftung Mercator, and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. ESI funders also include European Commission. Then, curiously enough the funder list for The Merkel Plan includes an organization with the Orwellian name, The United States Institute of Peace.

Some research reveals that the United States Institute of Peace has anything but a peace-loving background. The United States Institute of Peace is chaired by Stephen Hadley, former US National Security Council adviser during the neo-conservative war-waging Bush-Cheney administration. Its Board of Directors includes Ashton B. Carter, current Obama Administration neo-conservative hawkish Secretary of Defense; Secretary of State John Kerry; Major General Frederick M. Padilla, President of the US National Defense University. These are some very seasoned architects of the US Pentagon Full Spectrum Dominance strategy for world military domination.

The “Merkel Plan” authors at the European Stability Initative, in addition to the largesse of George Soros’ foundations, list as “core” funder, the German Marshall Fund of the United States. As I describe in my book, The Think Tanks, the German Marshall Fund is anything but German. With its seat in Washington, as I noted in the book, “It’s an American think tank with its headquarters in Washington, D.C. In point of fact, its agenda is the deconstruction of postwar Germany and more broadly of the sovereign states of the EU to fit them better into the Wall Street globalization agenda.”

The German Marshall Fund of Washington has been involved in the post-1990 USA agenda of regime change around the world in league with the US-funded National Endowment for Democracy, Soros Foundations, and the CIA front called USAID. As I describe it in the think tanks book, “The major focus of the German Marshall Fund according to its 2013 Annual Report was to support the US State Department agenda for so-called democracy-building operations in former communist countries in eastern and south-eastern Europe, from the Balkans to the Black Sea. Significantly their work included Ukraine. In most instances, they worked together with the USAID, widely identified as a CIA front with ties to the State Department, and the Stewart Mott Foundation which gives funds to the US Government-funded National Endowment for Democracy.”

Notably, the same Stewart Mott Foundation is also a funder of the ESI-authored Merkel Plan, as is the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

This all should give pause for reflection as to who and for what goals the Merkel-Erdogan deal for dealing with the EU refugee crisis is intended. Does the Rockefeller-Bush-Clinton faction in the United States intend to use it as a major social engineering experiment to create chaos and social conflict across the EU at the same time their NGOs such as the NED, Freedom House and the Soros Foundations are stirring things up in Syria and Libya and across the Islamic world? Is Germany, as former US presidential adviser and Rockefeller crony, Zbigniew Brzezinski called her, a “vassal” of US power in the post-1990 world? To date the evidence is pretty strong that that’s the case. The role of US and NATO-linked think tanks is central to get an understanding of how the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Union are actually controlled from behind the Atlantic curtain.

August 12, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Deception | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Lies About the White Helmets

Is resettling a terrorist front group in the West a good idea?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • August 7, 2018

When is a terrorist group not a terrorist group? Apparently the answer is that it ceases to be terrorist when it terrorizes someone who is an enemy of the United States. The most prominent recent example is the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK), a murderous Iranian Marxist cult which assassinated five Americans in the 1970s as part of its campaign against the Shah’s government. It was removed from the State Department terrorist list in 2012 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after it had promised not to kill any more Americans but really because it had bought the support of prominent politicians to include Elaine Chao, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and John Bolton. It also had the behind the scenes endorsement of both the Israeli Mossad and CIA, both of whom have been using it in their operations to kill Iranians and damage the country’s infrastructure. Someone high up in the federal government, perhaps Hillary or even President Obama himself, must have decided that terrorists who kill only Iranians deserve a get out of jail free card from the State Department.

There are other examples of cynical doublespeak from the Syrian conflict, including labeling rebels against the Damascus government “freedom fighters” when in reality they were as often as not allied with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Al-Nusra or even with ISIS. Frequently they received training and weapons from Washington only to turn around and either join Al-Nusra and ISIS as volunteers or surrender their weapons to them.

But perhaps there is no bigger fraud making the rounds than the so-called White Helmets. The recent media coverage derives from the documentary The White Helmets, which was produced by the group itself and tells a very convincing tale promoted as “the story of real-life heroes and impossible hope.” It is a very impressive piece of propaganda, so much so that it has won numerous awards including the Oscar for Best Documentary Short last year and the White Helmets themselves were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. More to the point, however, is the undeniable fact that the documentary has helped shape the public understanding of what is going on in Syria, describing the government in Damascus in purely negative terms.

The fawning Hollywood and Congressional depictions of the group go something like this: “the White Helmets are an ‘heroic’ impartial non-government humanitarian volunteer group that engages in ‘first response’ emergency rescue and medical treatment for all those who have been impacted by the fighting in Syria. The Syrian government hates the group because it assists victims of the fighting who are either rebels or living in rebel held areas. Recently, with the Syrian Army closing in on the last White Helmet affiliates still operating in the country, the Israeli government, assisted by the United States, staged an emergency humanitarian evacuation of the group’s members and their families to Israel and then on to Jordan.”

Virtually all the mainstream media coverage of the White Helmets is bogus, but by far the most ridiculous account of the Exodus from Syria came from the BBC. For those who are not familiar with it, the BBC, which once upon a time had a reputation for journalistic integrity, has become one of the worst pro-government propaganda shills of all time. Reading its articles is even worse than having a similar go at The Washington Post, which is the prime newspaper exemplar of fake news and phony journalism pretending to be a respectable news source in the United States. Let’s face it, Donald Trump has a point. Nearly all of the mainstream media lies persistently these days but some sources are worse than others. People complain about Fox, and rightly so, but CNN is the absolute pits when it comes to slanting its coverage, as is MSNBC.

BBC’s article is entitled Syria conflict: White Helmets evacuated by Israel. It makes the following statements, many coming directly from Israeli official sources, regarding the White Helmets, its activities and the group’s relationship to some governments, to include Britain:

  • “The IDF said they had ‘completed a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families’, saying there was an ‘immediate threat to their lives.’ The transfer of the displaced Syrians through Israel was an exceptional humanitarian gesture.”
  • “Although Israel is not directly involved in the Syria conflict, the two countries have been in a state of war for decades. Despite the intervention, the IDF said that ‘Israel continues to maintain a non-intervention policy regarding the Syrian conflict.’”
  • “A statement from Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: ‘White Helmets have been the target of attacks and, due to their high profile, we judged that, in these particular circumstances, the volunteers required immediate protection. We pay tribute to the brave and selfless work that White Helmet volunteers have done to save Syrians on all sides of the conflict.’”
  • “Their official name is the Syrian Civil Defense and it began in early 2013 as an organization of volunteers from all walks of life, including electricians and builders. Its main task soon became to rescue civilians in war zones in the immediate aftermath of air strikes, and it says its volunteers have saved the lives of more than 100,000 people during the civil war.”

The BBC story could have been written by the White Helmets themselves or by their press department. Or alternatively by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. First of all, the Israelis do not do humanitarian gestures. They helped bail out the White Helmets at the request of the U.S. because capture by the Syrians would have produced embarrassing revelations about how the group was funded and what its affiliation with terrorists was all about. And Israel’s denial of involvement in Syria is nonsense, unless one considers demonstrated collaboration with the terrorist groups punctuated by nearly weekly bombing and missile attacks to be non-involvement.

The British too are into the deception up to their eyeballs. The comment by Hunt and Mordaunt is complete fabrication regarding what the White Helmets represent. The same goes for the BBC account of how the group developed, which comes directly from the White Helmet’s own propaganda division as amplified by Hollywood and the U.S. and U.K. governments.

Just as important as what is said about the White Helmets’ activities is the exclusion of a great deal of credible negative reporting on the group. The carefully edited scenes of heroism under fire that have been filmed and released worldwide conceal the White Helmets’ relationship with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra and its participation in the torture and execution of “rebel” opponents. Indeed, the White Helmets only operate in rebel held territory, which enables them to shape the narrative both regarding who they are and what is occurring on the ground.

Exploiting their access to the western media, the White Helmets thereby de facto became a major source of “eyewitness” news regarding what was going on in those many parts of Syria where European and American journalists were quite rightly afraid to go. It was all part of a broader largely successful “rebel” effort to manufacture fake news that depicts the Damascus government as engaging in war crimes directed against civilians, an effort that led to several attacks on government forces and facilities by the U.S. military.

The White Helmets travel to bombing sites with their film crews trailing behind them. Once at the sites, with no independent observers, they are able to arrange or even stage what is filmed to conform to their selected narrative which consistently promotes tales of government atrocities against civilians to encourage outside military intervention in Syria and bring about regime change in Damascus. The White Helmets were, for example, the propagators of the totally false but propagandistically effective claims regarding the government use of so-called “barrel bombs” against civilians.

Peter Ford, British Ambassador in Damascus from 2003-2006, recently described the group in an audio interview saying, “The White Helmets are jihadi auxiliaries. They are not, as claimed by themselves and by their supporters… simple rescuers. They are not volunteers. They are paid professionals of disinformation.” He noted particularly the large size of the organization’s “press department”, saying, “This gives us an idea what the priority is for this very dubious organization… All their activities are directed at mobilizing Western opinion behind the jihadis with whom they associate. They co-locate their centers with the Al-Qaeda organization known as Al-Nusra and with other militant groups such as Jaish al-Islam. They have in the past been shown associating with and waving the flags of ISIS.”

The group is currently largely funded by a number of non-government organizations (NGOs) as well as governments, including the United States, Britain and some European Union member states. The U.S. has directly provided $23 million through the USAID (US Agency for International Development) as of 2016 and almost certainly considerably more indirectly. Max Blumenthal has explored in some detail the various funding resources and relationships that the organization draws on, mostly in Europe and the United States.

Perhaps the most serious charge against the White Helmets consists of the evidence that they actively participated in the atrocities, to include torture and murder, carried out by their al-Nusra hosts. There have been numerous photos of the White Helmets operating directly with armed terrorists and also celebrating over the bodies of execution victims and murdered Iraqi soldiers. The group’s jihadi associates regard the White Helmets as fellow “mujahideen” and “soldiers of the revolution.”

So Israel’s celebrated rescue of the White Helmets was little more than a theatrical performance intended to perpetuate the myth that the al-Assad government was thwarted in an attempt to capture and possibly kill an honorable non-partisan group engaged in humanitarian relief for those caught up in a bloody conflict seeking to oust a ruthless dictator. The reality is quite different. The White Helmets were and are part and parcel of the attempt to overthrow a legitimate government and install a regime friendly to western, American and Israeli interests. For Israel in particular the ongoing chaos in Syria was and is part of its plan for dividing all of its neighbors into warring ethnicities and sects, making them less viable as threats to the Jewish state.

The 800 White Helmets rescued reportedly will be resettled in the U.S., Britain and Germany. One hopes those coming to America can end up in Los Angeles, where they would presumably mingle with Hollywood big shots and the usual snowflakes while working on their next documentary. As some of them are most certainly radical Jihadists, it will be interesting to observe exactly how that will play out.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

August 7, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

Violent Coup Fail in Nicaragua

By Kevin Zeese | CounterPunch | July 24, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The United States is Escalating Economic War and Support for Opposition

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

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

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

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

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

What Happened and What Was Learned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Nicaragua, is Operation “Contra bis” failing?

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

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

A dreadful propaganda scheme

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

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

Who is not concerned with these victims?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is not interested in dialogue?

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

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

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

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

How to export democracy in dollars

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resistance emerges sooner or later

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

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

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

What remains today of yesterday’s meddling?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

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

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

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

5) Washington Post, 22 September 1991.

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

What’s Happening in Nicaragua?

Task Force on the Americas | July 1, 2018

For over two decades, Nicaragua was:

The safest country in Latin America.[2]Its police force was internationally recognized for its innovative community policing policies. Unlike its neighbors El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, where undocumented immigrants were fleeing to the US border, Nicaragua had kept gang violence and organized drug cartels in check.

Far from a dictatorship.[3] President Daniel Ortega was democratically elected and then twice re-elected, each time with an increasing percentage and number of votes.In 2017, polls showed he had the highest approval rating of any chief of state in the entire hemisphere.[4]

Where social indices were on the rise. [5]Literacy, small businesses promotion, free public education, poverty reduction, and economic growth were among the highest in the hemisphere.[6]

Then on April 18 things suddenly changed dramatically. Triggered by a minor adjustment to the social security program, which was designed to avoid austerity measures promoted by big business and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), violence broke out across Nicaragua.[7]

Incongruously, the opposition was led by students from private universities, who had little material interest in old age pensions, and by rightwing elements that favored draconian cuts in social welfare programs.[8]Despite the government rescinding the adjustment and its attempts to meet with the opposition and negotiate a settlement,[9]the violence has escalated with a death toll of over 200.[10]

Road blocks have been set up on vital streets and highways throughout the country. They are forcefully maintained by young militants, with reports that many are paid.[11]Organized crime, aligned with the violent protests, has infiltrated Nicaragua.[12]Some believe the extreme opposition is intent on escalating the conflict to paralyze or overthrow the elected government.[13]

This is within the larger context the US government targeting[14]independent and progressive governments for regime change.[15]Nicaragua is allied with Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia and has not served as a client state to the dictates of Washington.

The US has poured millions into Nicaraguan private non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in what is called “democracy promotion” but may be better understood as regime change training.[16]Even sources hostile to the Ortega government admit US involvement in the current unrest.[17]Meanwhile the US Senate is considering the NICA Act designed to cripple the Nicaraguan economy.

The Task Force on the Americas:

Recognizes the Nicaraguan people may have legitimate grievances with their elected government. But the rightwing attack is on what the Sandinistas have done right, not what they’ve done wrong.

Believes there is a huge amount of distortion and misinformation in how the situation is being portrayed.

Supports an objective and independent investigation of who carried out and who provoked the violence [18] with all parties held responsible for their actions. [19]

Commends efforts to mediate a peaceful settlement in Nicaragua, including dismantling the barricades and cessation of destruction of public property. [20]

Opposes the NICA Act and US interference [21] in the internal affairs of Nicaragua including through the NED, [22] USAID, and other instruments of intervention.

NOTES and SOURCES

[1]The Task Force on the Americas is a 32-year-old anti-imperialist human rights organization. http://taskforceamericas.org/

[2]How Central America’s poorest country became one of its safest. 01/28/12. https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2012/01/28/a-surprising-safe-haven

[3]Pérez, Foundations of Democracy,06/25/18.  http://www.redvolucion.net/2018/06/25/cimientos-de-la-democracia/

[4]Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega at 80% approval rate, 10/11/17. https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Nicaraguan-President-Daniel-Ortega-at-80-Aproval-Rating-Poll-20171019-0008.html

[5]Di Fabio, Economic growth in Nicaragua has helped reduce poverty, 04/18. https://borgenproject.org/economic-growth-in-nicaragua-helped-reduce-poverty/

[6]The World Bank on Nicaragua, 04/16/18. http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/nicaragua/overview

[7]The reform of the social security system and the interest groups of Nicaragua,04/25/18. http://www.celag.org/la-reforma-del-sistema-seguridad-social-y-los-grupos-de-interes-en-nicaragua/

[8]Fernandez, A Nicaragua spring or an imperial spring cleaning. 05/07/18. https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/nicaraguan-spring-imperial-spring-cleaning-180507082508249.html

[9]Tricker, Update on Nicaragua: the national dialogue is back on…for now.06/22/18. https://quixote.org/update-on-nicaragua-the-national-dialogue-is-back-on-for-now/

[10]Perry, After 2 months of unrest, Nicaragua is at a fateful crossroads, 06/22/18.  https:/ /www.thenation.com/article/two-months-unrest-nicaragua-fateful-crossroad/

[11]Kovalik, The US, Nicaragua and the continuing counter-revolutionary war.06/27/18. https://ahtribune.com/world/americas/2316-us-nicaragua.html

[12]Violencia armada en Nicaragua: un product importado (investigación), 06/24/18.http://misionverdad.com/trama-global/violencia-armada-y-paracriminal-exportada-a-nicaragua-investigacion

[13]Tortilla con Sal, Nicaragua’s crisis – the latest stage in a permanent war, 06/17/18.https://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Nicaraguas-Crisis—the-Latest-Stage-in-a-Permanent-War-20180617-0021.html

[14]Kovalik, The US & Nicaragua: a case study in historic amnesia and blindness. 06/15/18. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/15/the-us-nicaragua-a-case-study-in-historical-amnesia-blindness/

[15]Chossudovsky, Social media and the destabilization of Cuba,04/05/14. https://www.globalresearch.ca/social-media-and-the-destabilization-of-cuba-usaids-secret-cuban-twitter-intended-to-stir-unrest/5376720

[16]Blumenthal & Norton, US gov’t regime change machine exacerbates Nicaragua’s violent protests,06/2/18. https://therealnews.com/stories/us-govt-regime-change-machine-fuels-nicaraguas-violent-right-wing-insurgency

[17]Waddell, Laying the groundwork for change: a closer look at the U.S. role in Nicaragua’s social unrest. 05/01/18. https://theglobalamericans.org/2018/05/laying-groundwork-change-closer-look-u-s-role-nicaraguas-social-unrest/

[18]Sweeney, Right-wing militias committing ‘acts of terrorism’ in an effort to destabilize Nicaragua, police say,06/111/18. https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f-lead-nicaraguan-acts-terrorism

[19]Kaufman, Let’s think about the consequences of our actions. 06/06/18. https://afgj.org/nicanotes-lets-think-about-the-consequences-of-our-actions

[20]Mejia, Open letter to Amnesty International on Nicaragua from a former Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience. 06/15/18.https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/15/open-letter-to-amnesty-international-on-nicaragua-from-a-former-amnesty-international-prisoner-of-conscience/

[21]Blumenthal, U.S. gov. meddling machine boasts of ‘laying the groundwork for insurrection’ in Nicaragua.06/19/18. https://grayzoneproject.com/2018/06/19/ned-nicaragua-protests-us-government/

[22]Tricker, Manufacturing dissent: the N.E.D., oppositionmedia and the political crisis in Nicaragua, 05/11/18. https://quixote.org/manufacturing-dissent-the-n-e-d-opposition-media-and-the-political-crisis-in-nicaragua/

July 12, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment