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Obama Regime Brands Venezuela a “Security Threat,” Implements New Sanctions

By Lucas Koerner | Venezuelanalysis | March 9, 2015

Caracas – U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order this Monday slapping Venezuela with new sanctions and declaring the Bolivarian nation an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security”.

The sanctions target seven individuals accused by the White House of alleged human rights violations and “public corruption”, freezing their assets and barring entry into the U.S.

The figures include Justo Jose Noguera Pietri, President of the state entity, the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana (CVG) and Katherine Nayarith Haringhton Padron, a national level prosecutor currently taking the lead in the trials of several Venezuelan political opposition leaders, including Leopoldo Lopez.

The executive order is the latest in a series of U.S. sanctions imposed on Venezuela over the past few months. On February 3, the Obama administration expanded the list of Venezuelan officials barred from entering the U.S., which now includes the Chief Prosecutor Luis Ortega Diaz.

“Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here, and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems,” announced White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

The U.S. has failed thus far to disclose evidence that might bolster its claims of human rights violations, leading Venezuelan and other regional leaders to condemn what they regard as the arbitrary and political character of U.S. sanctions.

While regional bodies such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) have called for dialogue, Washington has so far refused to support negotiations or to recognise the organisation’s stance.

“We will continue to work closely with others in the region to support greater political expression in Venezuela, and to encourage the Venezuelan government to live up to its shared commitment, as articulated in the OAS Charter, the Inter American Democratic Charter, and other relevant instruments related to democracy and human rights,” reads the latest White House statement.

The order goes on to call for the release of all “political prisoners” allegedly held by the Venezuelan government, including “dozens of students”.

The Venezuelan government, for its part, maintains that all of those arrested are in the process of facing trial for criminal offences linked to violent destabilization efforts spearheaded by the opposition.

Former Caracas Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma was arrested last month on charges of conspiracy and sedition related to the February 12 thwarted “Blue Coup” attempt. A Venezuelan judge found sufficient evidence linking the opposition figure to air force officials involved in the coup as well as to rightwing terrorist leaders such as Lorent Saleh, who was extradited by Colombian authorities to face charges last year.

The other high profile Venezuelan opposition leader currently facing trial is Leopoldo López, who was indicted for his role in leading several months of violent opposition protests last year with the aim of effecting the “exit”, or ouster, of the constitutional government. Known as the “guarimbas”, these violent protests and street barricades caused the death of 43 people, the majority of whom were security personnel or Chavistas.

Ledezma and López,  together with far right leader Maria Corina Machado, were active in the 2002 coup against then president Hugo Chávez, which succeeded in temporarily ousting the Venezuelan leader until he was restored by a popular uprising.

All three opposition leaders also signed a “National Transition Agreement” released on the day prior to February’s “Blue Coup” attempt, describing the government of Nicolas Maduro as in its “terminal phase” and declaring the need to “name new authorities” without mentioning elections or other constitutional mechanisms. Many political commentators interpreted the document as an open call for a coup against the president.

The Venezuelan government has charged the U.S. government with hypocrisy on the issue of human rights, and in particular the mass repression and incarceration of Afrodescendent communities in the U.S.

On February 28, President Maduro announced new measures imposing a reciprocal travel visa requirements on U.S. citizens seeking to enter Venezuela as well as mandating a reduction in U.S. embassy staff to levels that match the number of Venezuelan personnel in Washington.

Maduro also announced the creation of an “anti-terrorist list” of individuals barred from entering Venezuela, which will include former U.S. officials such as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who have reportedly “committed human rights violations.”

Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, has confirmed that the Bolivarian government will soon issue an official response to the order.

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Venezuela Rejects U.S. Version of Maduro Airspace Prohibition Dispute

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | September 20, 2013

Mérida – Venezuela has rejected the United States’ version of events in the dispute over President Nicolas Maduro’s passage through U.S. airspace last night.

The diplomatic fallout reached media attention when Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua told reporters yesterday that President Maduro had been denied permission to fly through U.S. airspace.

According to Venezuelan officials, the presidential flight was prohibited from passing over Puerto Rico, with President Maduro considering changing the flight path to reach Paris, France. However after hurried diplomatic talks permission was eventually granted for the flight to pass through U.S. airspace.

The flight’s final destination is Beijing, China, where Maduro will conduct a state visit.

U.S. statement

In a diplomatic statement emitted today by the United States Embassy in Caracas, the U.S. denied prohibiting the Venezuelan president’s passage through its airspace, and blamed any delays in granting passage on the Venezuelan government for not “properly submitting” the flight request.

The statement said that Venezuela had only submitted the international flight request with one day’s notice, when three are required. Further, the U.S. diplomats argued that approval was delayed because “the [presidential] plane in question was not a state aircraft, which is required for diplomatic clearance”.

“We advised Venezuela on the correct way to get the clearance and notified their authorities last night that permission was granted,” the statement read.

Response

Venezuela’s top diplomat in Washington, Calixto Ortega, rejected the U.S. version of events, affirming in a call to state channel VTV that the U.S. had indeed denied Maduro’s passage through its airspace.

“The permission was denied. I have the denial in writing. We had to have a series of conversations [to gain clearance for the flight],” he said.

Ortega also disagreed with the arguments put forward for the delay in granting permission to enter U.S. airspace, explaining that the plane, route and flight request were exactly the same as in June when Maduro passed over Puerto Rico en route to Italy for a diplomatic tour of Europe.

“It’s the same plane, with the same crew, and exactly the same route made, [and in June] a permission request [was] immediately approved,” he explained.

The Venezuelan diplomat argued that Venezuela would need to keep “very aware” of the possibility such moves by the U.S. in the future, saying that “they took us by surprise”. He also criticised press in Europe for favouring the U.S. version of events in the dispute.

In addition, Ortega voiced concerns that the U.S. would repeat last night’s action next Wednesday 25 September, when Maduro will travel to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

Venezuela has further accused the U.S. of denying visas to members of its delegation to the U.N. gathering.

Samuel Moncada, Venezuela’s ambassador to the U.N., today wrote a letter to U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki Moon requesting that the U.N. ensure that the U.S. “strictly fulfills its international obligations”.

In the letter, Moncada accused the U.S. government of “deliberately delaying the approval of entry permits” to members of Maduro’s diplomatic team, and of trying to “create logistical barriers…to his [Maduro’s] visit”.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf denied the accusation, stating to journalists, “No visa has been denied to the Venezuelan delegation to the United Nations General Assembly this year”.

International concern

The apparent denial of President Maduro’s request to fly through U.S. airspace has generated criticism from Venezuela’s regional allies.

Bolivian president Evo Morales requested an “emergency meeting” of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), saying that he would propose that all member states of the bloc withdraw their ambassadors from the U.S. in protest. CELAC brings together every state in the Western Hemisphere with the exception of the U.S. and Canada.

“If it’s with Maduro, it’s with everyone. The United States must know that if it messes with Maduro, it messes with the whole Latin American people…because this is about the unity and sovereignty of our peoples,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez called U.S. conduct “unjustifiable, arbitrary and unfriendly, which offends the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean”.

Rodriguez said that CELAC member states were discussing the issue, and would bring it up at the U.N. General Assembly meeting. Cuba is currently the pro tempore president of the CELAC.

The fallout comes after Evo Morales’ presidential plane was denied airspace access by four European countries in July, under supposed suspicions that the flight harboured ex-NSA intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

Further, this week Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff cancelled her scheduled state visit to the U.S. in October, apparently due to concerns over the U.S. spying activities toward Brazil revealed by Snowden’s leaks.

Venezuelan relations with the U.S. have remained distant, and the two countries have not had an exchange of ambassadors since 2010. The brief attempt to improve relations following Maduro’s election in April was brought to a close by Venezuela in July, after the U.S.’s new ambassador to the U.N. made “unacceptable and unfounded” comments about the Venezuelan government.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

Venezuela ends normalization of US relations

Press TV – July 20, 2013

Venezuela says it has ended the process of normalizing relations with the United States over remarks by Washington’s ambassador-designate to the UN.

During her confirmation hearing before a US Senate committee on July 17, Samantha Power claimed Venezuela, along with several other countries, was conducting a “crackdown on civil society.”

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela hereby ends the process … of finally normalizing our diplomatic relations” that started in early June, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a Friday statement.

The statement added that Caracas is opposed to the “interventionist agenda” presented by Power.

On Thursday, the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro denounced Power’s remarks as “outrageous,” and demanded “an immediate correction by the US government.”

“Power says she’ll fight repression in Venezuela? What repression? There is repression in the United States, where they kill African-Americans with impunity, and where they hunt the youngster Edward Snowden just for telling the truth,” he added, referring to the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Venezuela has offered asylum to Snowden, an American former technical contractor for the US National Security Agency (NSA), who is wanted in the United States for leaking details of Washington’s secret surveillance programs.

Maduro was the first foreign leader to state openly that he was offering sanctuary to Snowden.

Venezuela and the US have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010. However, in June US Secretary of State John Kerry and Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua agreed on the sidelines of a regional summit in Guatemala that officials would “soon” meet for talks that could lead to an exchange of envoys.

In March, Caracas expelled two US military attaches over allegations of trying to foment instability in Venezuela.

Washington also angered Caracas by supporting Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who disputed the results of the April presidential election, in which Maduro won the race with 50.7 percent of the vote against 49.1 percent for Capriles.

July 20, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Venezuela’s Maduro Responds to Obama’s Nominee for UN Envoy

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim | Venezuelanalysis | July 19, 2013

Mérida – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has described comments made by US President Barack Obama’s nominee for envoy to the United Nations as “despicable”, and demanded an apology.

Yesterday Maduro criticised the nominee Samantha Power’s testimony to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. During the speech, Power called for a “contesting” of what she described as a “crackdown on civil society being carried out in countries like Cuba, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela.”

“Power says she’ll fight repression in Venezuela? What repression?” Maduro responded on Venezuelan television.

“There is repression in the United States, where they kill African-Americans with impunity, and where they hunt the youngster Edward Snowden just for telling the truth,” he stated. His comments come in the wake of a Florida jury acquitting George Zimmerman on 13 July for the killing of Trayvon Martin.

He also called for an “immediate correction by the US government”.

“And the U.S. government says they want to have good relations? What tremendous relations they want,” Maduro stated.

Following his victory in the 14 April presidential elections, Maduro called for closer relations with the US. In June, his foreign minister Elias Jaua met US Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry described the meeting as the “beginning of a good, respectful relationship”.

After the talks, Jaua told Telesur that the Maduro administration is open to a more positive relationship “based on the premise of mutual respect, non-interference in internal affairs and the proper treatment of disagreements”.

“If this is respected then we can move forward in relations with US,” Jaua stated. Today, Jaua announced that the government had issued a letter of protest to the US embassy in Caracas. According to Jaua, the letter asked if there is still “willingness” in Washington to improve relations, “as expressed by the Secretary of State John Kerry”.

Since then, Maduro has criticised the US for its pursuit of whistleblower Edward Snowden, to whom he has offered asylum.

Yesterday, he stated that Power’s comments were being applauded by the “fascist right” in Venezuela. Power’s speech also received positive feedback from a number of committee members, including some Republicans.

Along with calling for more “efficiency and a greater focus on promoting freedom”, Power stated that the UN needs US “leadership” and fairness.

“There cannot be one standard for one country and another standard for all others,” she stated, before criticising the General Assembly and Human Rights Council for passing “one-sided resolutions” against Israel.

“Just as I have done the last four years as President Obama’s UN adviser at the White House, I will stand up for Israel and work tirelessly to defend it,” she said.

July 20, 2013 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | 2 Comments

US NSA Spied on Venezuela When President Chavez Died, Documents Reveal

By Tamara Pearson | Venezuelanalysis | July 9, 2013

Mérida – Brazilian daily O Globo, reporting jointly with Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald informed today that according to the leaked National Security Agency (NSA) documents, the United States has also been spying on Venezuela’s petroleum industry. The information comes as governments confirm that whistleblower Edward Snowden has applied for asylum in Venezuela.

According to the leaked documents, the NSA also spied on other Latin American countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Ecuador.

O Globo reports that, “The United States doesn’t seem to be only interested in military affairs, but also in commercial secrets, such as Venezuela’s petroleum”.

According to the documents, NSA spied on Latin America through at least two programs, the Prism program from 2-8 of February this year, and the “Informant Without Limits” program from January to March.

One document describes Operation Silverzephyr, which accessed information through partnerships with private satellite and phone operators, focusing on Latin American countries. The document shows that the NSA agency collected information through telephone calls, faxes and emails, possibly using the program Fairview.

According to O Globo and the leaked NSA documents, Venezuela was also observed in 2008 through the X-Keyscore program, which identifies the presence of foreigners according to the language they use in emails. Further, in March this year it appears that Venezuela was a priority for the NSA’s spying. President Hugo Chavez died on 5 March, and presidential elections were called for 14 April.

U.S. reacts to Venezuela’s asylum offer

On Sunday U.S. legislators suggested sanctioning countries which grant asylum to Edward Snowden, who leaked the NSA documents to The Guardian. The chair of the U.S. House of Representative’s intelligence committee, Mike Rogers, said Latin American countries are “using Snowden as a public relations tool… we shouldn’t allow this… it’s a serious issue… some Latin American companies enjoy trade benefits from the United States and we’re going to have to revise that”.

Legislator Robert Menendez also said that any “acceptance of Snowden” would put that country “directly against the United States”. The Venezuelan government formally offered Snowden asylum on 5 July. Nicaragua and Bolivia have also done so.

“We’ve made very clear that he [Snowden] has been charged with felonies and as such, he should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel other than travel that would result in him returning to the United States,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters yesterday at his daily news conference.

Yesterday Maduro said that Venezuela has also formally received an asylum request from Snowden, who agencies report to have been in the Moscow airport since 23 June.

Russian legislator Alexei Pushkov also confirmed yesterday (via a Tweet that he later deleted) that Snowden had accepted Venezuela’s offer of political asylum. “It seems that that is the option he feels is safest,” Pushkov wrote. However, later today Wikileaks also tweeted that Snowden had not formally accepted asylum in Venezuela, but also deleted the tweets a few minutes later.

July 9, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment