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Venezuela To Not Participate in Guyana-led Process at ICJ

teleSUR | June 18, 2018

Venezuela expressed its decision to not participate in the procedure that the government of Guyana introduced before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in relation to the territorial dispute over the Essequibo, its Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday.

“The Venezuelan delegation has informed the president of the court, through a letter signed by the President of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro Moros, of its sovereign decision not to participate in the procedure that Guyana intends to initiate, since the Court manifestly lacks jurisdiction over an action unilaterally proposed by the neighboring country, which does not have the consent of Venezuela, “the statement said.

The decision was made after a meeting took place at The Hague between the Venezuelan delegation led by Vice President Delcy Rodríguez, accompanied by Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, along with President of the ICJ Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf.

Venezuela has claimed the region part of its territory for hundreds of years, but an agreement signed in 1966 by the United Kingdom, which was Guyana’s then-colonizer, granted authority of the area to Guyana. Upon receiving independence, Guyana continued to claim the region, sparking a diplomatic conflict over the territory.

The dispute reemerged when Exxon Mobil Co. found massive oil reserves in the territory, and threw its weight behind Guyana, awarding contracts to begin drilling.

June 19, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment

Colombia, the death squads & the US’ human rights double standard

Dan Kovalik | RT | June 7, 2018

Nearly every day, we are bombarded with “news” about problems in Venezuela. And certainly, there are problems, such as food and medicine shortages and skyrocketing inflation. But there is something that is downplayed.

What the press downplays, if it mentions it at all, is the very real and significant ways that US sanctions have contributed to these problems facing Venezuela and how these sanctions are making it nearly impossible for Venezuela to solve these problems.

What the press also fails to mention is the even greater humanitarian issues confronting Venezuela’s next-door neighbor, Colombia – the US’ number one ally in the region and, quite bizarrely, the newest “global partner” of NATO from Latin America. And, the US is very much responsible for these issues as well, but in quite different ways.

The fact is that, by a number of measures, Colombia has one of the worst human rights situations on earth, but you would never know this from watching the nightly news.

First of all, Colombia has the largest number of people forcibly disappeared in all of the Americas – even more than all of the Southern Cone countries combined during the infamous ‘dirty war’ years – at over 60,000.

In addition, Colombia has one of the largest internally displaced populations on earth at well over 7 millionsecond only to Syria. And, a disproportionate number of these internally displaced are indigenous and Afro-descendants.

Moreover, Colombia ranks 5th in the world for the number of children internally displaced by conflict, with two million boys and girls internally displaced. Quite shockingly, Colombia ranks 3rd in the world for the number of children murdered, with 715 children murdered just last year. Such statistics have led Save The Children to conclude that Colombia is “one of the worst countries to be a child and adolescent in the world.”

Colombia is also one of the worst countries in the world to be a social leader, such as a human rights defender, union leader, indigenous or Afro-Colombian leader. Thus, even after the signing of a peace deal between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas in 2016, social leaders are being murdered at an alarming rate. Indeed, over 200 social leaders have been killed just since January of 2017. Last year was in fact the worst year on record for human rights defenders in Colombia, with 120 killed in 2017.

Of course, the US has a large responsibility to bear for this awful situation in Colombia, as it has been the intellectual author behind Colombia’s brutal, decades-long war against its own people and has provided billions of dollars of material aid to this war effort. Indeed, since 2000, the US has given Colombia $10 billion in mostly military assistance as part of its counter-insurgency program known as ‘Plan Colombia.’ During the Plan Colombia years, the Colombian military attempted to boost US military assistance by murdering civilians in cold blood and passing them off as left-wing guerillas. It is now believed that the military killed 10,000 civilians in this grisly “false positive” operation.

But the US is also behind an even darker force than the Colombian military – that is, the Colombian paramilitary death squads. While those who live in the more remote parts of Colombia are painfully aware of the paramilitaries’ presence and brutality, the paramilitaries are now a well-kept secret in the more well-to-do parts of Colombia’s big cities and even more so outside of Colombia. Indeed, the Colombian and US governments deny the very existence of these paramilitary groups, and the compliant press is happy to oblige in keeping this dirty secret.

Recently, Colombia’s most prominent human rights defender, Father Javier Giraldo, S.J., spoke about the paramilitary phenomenon of which he is an expert. As he explains, “There are clandestine or semi-clandestine arms of the State, which are the paramilitary groups. Today, it is not tolerated that you refer to them as such, but I still call them paramilitaries, because that is the appropriate term.”

Father Giraldo describes the origin of the paramilitary death squads, a force developed by the United States before the left-wing guerrillas even came into existence in 1964. As Father Giraldo explains:

“In 1962, when Guillermo León Valencia was president, a mission of the North American army, of a special school of war in North Carolina, created after the Second World War to maintain the security of the United States, arrived in Colombia… They analyzed the situation in Colombia and left secret instructions, ordering the Colombian government to begin training mixed groups of civilians and the military, and preparing them for paramilitary terrorist activities to combat the sympathizers of communism.”

“… President Valencia, on Christmas day of the year 1965, issued Decree 3398 with which he changed the name of the Ministry of War to [the Ministry of] Defense, and authorized forming groups of civilians as auxiliaries of the armed forces, the legal basis of paramilitarism.”

“… The United States began to direct the entire security apparatus in Colombia and its agencies… first with 400 officers of the US Army; today there are at least 800. The paramilitarism that was created at that time, with all the legal support, has been reaffirmed.”

Of course, as Father Giraldo has explained on numerous occasions, the ostensible “sympathizers of communism” targeted by the paramilitaries are trade union leaders, human rights defenders, peasant leaders, and Catholic priests who advocate on behalf of the poor. As for Catholic priests, over 80 have been murdered since 1984 for the crime of advocating on behalf of the poor.

It is now becoming more evident than ever from the fact that there is now a rise in the murder of such social leaders, as well as mass forced displacement, after the disarming of the FARC guerrillas, that it, is the paramilitaries which are responsible for the lion’s share of such human rights abuses in Colombia. But again, you would have no idea about this from reading the newspapers or watching the nightly news. And, Colombians who are suffering at the hands of the paramilitaries are painfully aware of the conspiracy of silence around this issue.

Indeed, when I was recently in Colombia for the first round of the presidential elections, our delegation met with a number of residents of the small town of Suarez (Cauca Department) which had just lost three members of their community to paramilitary violence. One of the members of the community desperately asked us, “what can we do to let the world know of the continued existence of the paramilitaries?” I answered that we have been trying to do just that for many years, though few will hear us out on this issue.

While we were in Colombia, a campaign coordinator for Gustavo Petro, a Colombian presidential candidate, was murdered by paramilitaries the day before the election, and the paramilitary group known as ‘Aguilas Negras’ (Black Eagles) issued a general threat against the supporters of Petro for president just a few days before the May 27 vote.

© Dan Kovalik

If Colombia’s very real human rights and humanitarian crises were given nearly the attention that the problems in neighboring Venezuela receives, the US and Colombian government would at least have some incentive to improve the situation in Colombia and to go after the paramilitary groups which continue to haunt that country. The near complete silence about the staggering violence in Colombia is critical in allowing that violence to continue. Indeed, the paramilitaries have always depended upon being able to operate in the shadows, and the US press is more than happy to oblige them in this effort.

Dan Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is the author of ‘The Plot to Attack Iran.’

June 7, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

US media openly calling for Venezuela military coup

RT | June 7, 2018

If you’ve followed American media in recent times, you will have probably heard that meddling in affairs of foreign nations is a bad thing — but it seems that view changes dramatically when the US is the one doing the meddling.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was reelected in May in what Washington wrote-off as a “sham” election. In response, the Trump administration slapped new sanctions on the South American country and seemingly won’t be happy until Maduro and his socialist regime packs up and disappears.

Confirming that it’s Washington’s way or the highway, a former US official who worked as assistant administrator for Latin America at the US Agency for International Development, under the Bush administration, has openly called for a military coup — and Foreign Policy magazine has obligingly published his thoughts.

José R. Cárdenas has argued that “dialogue or diplomacy cannot bring a resolution” and insists that a military coup is a more attractive option. It is up to the US, he writes, to convince the Venezuelan military that they “bear a unique responsibility to rescue their country from the abyss” and that they must stand up and get rid of Maduro by force. It is the military, he writes, that are best placed to “restore a legitimate constitutional democracy.”

So concerned with the plight of the Venezuelan people, Cárdenas also touts the benefits of “diplomatic and economic isolation” which surely would do wonders for ordinary citizens. Graciously, Cárdenas accepts that such a plan “entails risk” but argues that it is “unlikely” that the military would seek to govern permanently.

But Cárdenas’ calls for a coup could hardly come as a surprise. It’s far from the first time current or former US officials have publicly called for the ousting of the Venezuelan president.

In February, Florida Senator Marco Rubio publicly called for a military coup in Venezuela on Twitter, saying that the “world would support” the armed forces if they rose up to remove Maduro.

Rubio’s comments followed similar ones from then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who hinted at a military coup during an appearance at the University of Texas — without actually using those explicit terms.

“In the history of Venezuela and South American countries, it is often times that the military is the agent of change when things are so bad and the leadership can no longer serve the people,” Tillerson said.

But it’s not just government officials. Even the New York Times has gotten in on the action, publishing an editorial about how Maduro “must go” and discussing how best to “get rid of” him — although the paper of record managed to restrain itself slightly and did not call for an outright coup.

June 7, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 2 Comments

Canada Sanctions 14 People in Venezuela After ‘Illegitimate’ Elections

Sputnik – 30.05.2018

Canada has imposed new sanctions against key figures in the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Global Affairs Canada said in a press release on Wednesday.

“In response to the illegitimate and anti-democratic presidential elections held in Venezuela on May 20, Canada today announces further sanctions on key figures in the Maduro regime,” the release said.

The sanctions target 14 individuals responsible “for the deterioration of democracy in Venezuela,” the foreign ministry added.

Canada is not the first country to introduce restrictions against Venezuela following the re-election of Nicolas Maduro. Previously, Washington, citing “fraudulent vote,” banned US citizens from all transactions tied to Venezuelan government debt. The order he signed also prevented Venezuelan officials from selling equity in any entity majority-owned by the government. The EU, in its turn, froze some assets belonging to a number of Venezuelan individuals, companies and organizations

On May 20, Venezuela held its presidential election, with four candidates in the running. According to the National Electoral Council (NEC), incumbent leader Nicolas Maduro was re-elected as Venezuelan president for his second term, having secured 68 percent of votes, with slightly over 46 percent voter turnout. A number of states, including the EU members, have slammed the vote as either unfair or illegitimate.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Luis Posada Carriles, Hemisphere’s Most Wanted Terrorist, Dies Free in Miami at Age 90

By Brett Wilkins | CounterPunch | May 28, 2018

Luis Posada Carriles, the most notorious and wanted terrorist in the Western Hemisphere — but one few Americans have ever heard of — has died a free man in Miami at age 90.

The Miami Herald reports Posada Carriles died peacefully in his sleep in a Hollywood, Florida hospital early on May 23 following a lengthy battle with throat cancer.

At the time of his death, Posada Carriles, a staunchly militant anti-Castro Cuban exile and former longtime CIA agent, was wanted by authorities in Cuba and Venezuela for his leading role in masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban commercial airliner over the Caribbean, an attack that killed 73 innocent people. He is also wanted for orchestrating a string of terror attacks on Cuban hotels and for repeatedly plotting to assassinate the late Cuban president Fidel Castro.

Posada Carriles and Castro were actually acquaintances during their pre-revolution college years at the University of Havana. Both equally despised the brutal US-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. However, after Castro’s revolution overthrew the Batista regime Posada Carriles was briefly jailed before fleeing his homeland for Argentina, then the United States.

When the John F. Kennedy administration decided to wage covert warfare against Castro’s Cuba, Posada Carriles was one of the young CIA-trained exiles who planned the ill-fated 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. Following that colossal embarrassment, he received explosives and sabotage training at Ft. Benning, Georgia during a period of rising US support for anti-Castro terrorism, crimes which included a rocket attack on the United Nations in a failed bid to assassinate Che Guevara.

The CIA set up a station at University of Miami, where agents plotted to kill or overthrow Castro and where operatives planned and launched countless terror and sabotage missions. Militantly anti-communist exile groups trained and operated throughout South Florida, with secret camps popping up in the Everglades. In the 1970s, a wave of bombings, assassinations and other attacks on pro-Castro exiles in South Florida and far beyond earned Miami the FBI nickname of America’s “terrorist capital.”

Posada Carriles would later boast that “the CIA taught us everything… they taught us explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in sabotage.”

He would put all of those deadly skills to use while planning, along with fellow anti-Castro exile Orlando Bosch, the brazen broad daylight car bombing assassination of former Chilean minister Orlando Letelier in Washington, DC on September 21, 1976. Letelier’s newlywed American aide, Ronni Moffit, was also killed in the attack.

The following month, Posada Carriles and Bosch planned the bombing of Cubana Airlines Flight 455, which killed 73 civilians including Cuba’s junior Olympic fencing team. It was the worst act of airborne terrorism in the Western Hemisphere until the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The CIA, under its new director George H. W. Bush, knew as early as June 1976 that Cuban exiles were plotting to blow up a Cubana airliner, but did nothing.

Police in Barbados arrested two Venezuelan operatives in connection with the bombing of Flight 455. They confessed and implicated Posada Carriles and Bosch as planners of the attack. The Cubans were arrested, tried and acquitted in a military court but civil authorities planned to retry them and they remained behind bars. Although they were acquitted in 1987, secret US government documents have since proven the US knew Posada Carriles and Bosch were behind the bombing.

Posada Carriles didn’t wait around to learn his fate. He escaped from prison in 1985 and made his way to El Salvador where, under the alias Ramon Medina, he worked for Col. Oliver North on the Reagan administration’s illegal arming of the terrorist Contra army in Nicaragua.

In the late 1990s, Posada Carriles was behind a string of hotel bombings in Cuba, including one in 1997 that killed an Italian tourist. He later explained that his goal was to cripple the socialist economy’s burgeoning tourism industry to deprive the Castro regime of desperately needed hard currency. Posada Carriles boasted that he “slept like a baby” after the bombings and brushed off their grisly results. “That Italian was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.

Over 40 bombings in Honduras were also attributed to Posada Carriles during the 1990s. In 2000, Cuban intelligence agents foiled a plot by him and others to bomb a Panamanian university during a visit by Fidel Castro. Posada Carriles was convicted and jailed. However, then-Panamanian president Mireya Moscoso, a close ally of the George W. Bush administration, pardoned the terrorist before leaving office. Panama’s Supreme Court later overturned what it ruled an unconstitutional pardon.

Posada Carriles illegally entered the United States in 2005, returning to a hero’s welcome in Miami, a city that once celebrated Orlando Bosch Day to honor his co-conspirator. He sought asylum but was instead arrested for entering the country illegally. Although the Justice Department called him “an unrepentant criminal and admitted mastermind of terrorist plots and attacks,” a federal judge recommended that he be released.

Incredibly, he was freed. Posada Carriles settled in Miami, where he found work as an artist. He also made frequent radio and television appearances, and once sat in the front row with Orlando Bosch at a speech by President George W. Bush, whose family is closely connected with some of the most notorious anti-Castro terrorists.

In April 2011, Posada Carriles was acquitted of immigration-related charges in a Texas court. Although he was accused of lying about his role in the deadly 1997 Cuba hotel bombing, he was never indicted for that or any other attack, even after his confessions. Critics blasted the United States for fighting a global war on terrorism, replete with threats and worse to attack countries that aid and abet terrorists, while harboring the hemisphere’s most wanted terrorists — and many others like them.

While many of Miami’s Cuban exiles, especially the older ones, are mourning Posada Carriles’ passing, his death was greeted with cheers throughout Cuba and much of Latin America. The Miami-based exile radio station La Poderosa hailed him as “a leader of liberty and justice… a man of real dignity,” while Cuban state media lamented that the “bin Laden of the West” died “without paying his debts to justice.”

One man’s terrorist may very well be another’s freedom fighter, but Luis Posada Carriles’ fight for “freedom” — which often included doing dirty, deadly work for some of the world’s worst human rights violators —  claimed the lives of too many innocent men, women and children to be called anything but terrorism.

Brett Wilkins is editor-at-large for US news at Digital Journal.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela: ‘Colombia Joining NATO A Threat To Regional Peace’

teleSUR – May 26, 2018

Venezuela has rejected the announcement by Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos that his country will be entering the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as a “global partner.”

“Venezuela denounces once more before the international community the intention of Colombian authorities to lend themselves to introduce, in Latin America and the Caribbean, a foreign military alliance with nuclear capacity, which in every way constitutes a serious threat for peace and regional stability,” a statement by the foreign ministry said.

Likewise, Venezuela reiterated that it supports the historical position of the region to distance itself from the politics and wars of NATO, and from “any other army or military organization that desires to apply force to the suffering of the people, to impose and guarantee the hegemony of a particular political and economic model.”

The statement asks that the Colombian government fulfill its obligations toward peace and peaceful solutions to regional controversies.

Colombia will be the fist “global partner” of NATO in Latin America, beginning next week, President Santos announced Friday.

NATO was founded during the Cold War and was primarily a means for Western nations – led by the United States – to suppress the Soviet Bloc militarily and economically.

It continues to play a major role in modern conflicts, and has engaged in major military interventions in sovereign countries, most recently the removal and murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

May 27, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Maduro re-elected Venezuelan president; rival candidate challenges results

Press TV – May 21, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maduro hails ‘historic’ win

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vote ‘lacks legitimacy’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US says won’t recognize Venezuela presidential election

Press TV – May 20, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moscow Responds to Assertions About Illegitimacy of Voting in Venezuela

Sputnik | May 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Media Shorthand on Venezuela Conveys So Much

teleSUR | May 10, 2018

Over the years Western media have developed a journalistic shorthand of repetition, for conveying distortions and imperial hypocrisy about Venezuela.

A Reuters article (4/18/18) reports that the European Union “could impose further sanctions on Venezuela if it believes democracy is being undermined there.”

The line nicely illustrates the kind of journalistic shorthand Western media have developed, over years of repetition, for conveying distortions and whitewashing gross imperial hypocrisy about Venezuela. A passing remark can convey and conceal so much.

The EU’s sincerity in acting on what it “believes” about Venezuelan democracy is unquestioned by the London-based Reuters. Meanwhile Spain, an EU member, is pursuing the democratically elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, for the crime of organizing an illegal independence referendum last year. Weeks ago, he was arrested in Germany at Spain’s request, and other elected representatives have been arrested in Catalonia, where Spain’s federal government deposed the elected regional government after the referendum.

In July 2017, a few months before the referendum in Catalonia, Venezuela’s opposition also organized an illegal referendum. One of the questions asked if the military should obey the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which was an extremely provocative question, given the opposition’s various efforts to overthrow the government by force since 2002.  The referendum required an extremely high level of political expression, organization and participation. It allegedly involved 7 million voters.

The Venezuelan government disregarded the results—as Spain disregarded the Catalan referendum results—but unlike Spain, did not jail people for organizing it, or send police to brutally repress voters. In fact, two weeks later, Venezuelan voters (overwhelmingly government supporters, since the opposition boycotted and did not field candidates) were violently attacked by opposition militants when they elected a constituent assembly. The attacks resulted in several deaths.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has hardly failed to call attention to the hypocrisy of both the EU and Spain, but the Reuters article made no mention of it.

Reuters also reported that “the country’s two most popular opposition leaders have been banned from competing” from Venezuela’s presidential election on May 20. Reuters didn’t name the two supposedly “most popular opposition leaders,” but in the past (e.g., 4/12/18, 2/28/18, 2/19/18) the wire service has identified them as Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles. As it happens, according to the opposition-aligned pollster Datanalisis, whose results have been uncritically reported by Western media like Reuters for years, opposition presidential candidate Henri Falcón has been significantly more popular than Capriles in recent months, and barely less so than Lopez.

Mark Weisbrot (in an opinion piece for U.S. News, 3/3/18) broke the news that U.S. government officials had been secretly pressuring Falcón not to run, so that the election could be discredited as including no viable opposition candidate. Two weeks later, Reuters (3/19/18) discreetly reported Weisbrot’s scoop.

However, by far the most important thing Reuters neglects telling readers about the “two most popular opposition leaders” is that had they done in the EU what they’ve done in Venezuela since April 2002, Lopez and Capriles would both be serving long jail terms.

Capriles and Lopez together led the kidnapping of a government minister during a briefly successful U.S.-backed military coup in 2002 that ousted Venezuela’s democratically elected president, the late Hugo Chávez, for two days. Lopez boasted to local TV that the dictator installed by the coup (whom Lopez called “President Carmona”) was “updated” on the kidnapping.

Imagine what Carles Puigdemont’s predicament would be if, rather than organizing a peaceful referendum, he had participated in a foreign-backed, ultimately unsuccessful military coup against the Spanish government. Needless to say, running for public office would not be on the table. That would be the least of his worries.

In Venezuela, Capriles eventually served a few months in prison for participating in the coup, while Lopez avoided doing any time, thanks to a general amnesty granted by Chávez. Lopez was finally arrested in 2014 for leading another violent effort to overthrow the government.

I’ve reviewed before (teleSUR, 1/9/18) violent efforts to overthrow the government that Lopez, Capriles and other prominent opposition leaders have been involved with since the 2002 coup. I also described how Julio Borges and Henry Ramos (two other prominent opposition leaders) have openly sought to starve the Venezuelan government of foreign loans as it struggles with a severe economic crisis.

In August, Trump’s administration imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s entire economy that will cost Maduro’s government billions of dollars this year (FAIR.org, 3/22/18). It has threatened to go even further, brandishing an oil embargo or even a military attack. With sufficiently compliant media (and the collusion of big human rights NGOs like Amnesty International), such depravity becomes possible.

The Reuters article also says that Venezuela’s economic “collapse has driven an estimated 3 million people to flee the country.” No need to tell readers when the economic “collapse” began—2014—much less who made the estimates or if other sources contradict them. In fact, the U.N.’s 2017 population division numbers estimate Venezuela’s total expat population as of 2017 at about 650,000—only about 300,000 higher than it was when Chávez first took office in 1999. Even a group of fiercely anti-government Venezuelan academics estimated less than 1 million have left since the economic crisis began. (See FAIR.org, 2/18/18.)

Cherry-picked statistics aside, when Western powers want a democratically elected government overthrown, the approach is clear. Complete tolerance for violent foreign-backed subversion—which the powerful states and their allies would never be expected to tolerate—becomes the test for whether or not a state is a democracy. The targeted government fails the test, is depicted as a dictatorship, and all is permitted. Only the tactics required to bring it down need be debated.

Joe Emerberger is a writer based in Canada whose work has appeared in Telesur English, ZNet and Counterpunch.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 3 Comments

How Voting Works in Venezuela

teleSUR | May 6, 2018

Venezuela’s election process has been lauded by numerous organizations and observers not only for its high turnout, but also for the transparency and checks involved in the voting and scrutiny.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said: “Of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”

Below are all the elements involved in the vote.

Requirements and Eligibility

Venezuelans who are 18 years of age or older are eligible to vote in an election, after registering.

Venezuelans living abroad are also eligible to vote, after meeting these requirements.

Article 63 of the constitution says: ‘Suffrage is a right. It is exercised through free, universal, direct and secret ballots. The law will guarantee the principle of individuality of suffrage and proportional representation.’

Security and Guarantees

Venezuela’s elections utilize the latest in secure voting technology to ensure that each vote is counted fairly and cannot be tampered with. It was the first in the world to use voting machines that print a receipt so that each voter can confirm their vote with a physical copy.

Beginning in 2012, Venezuela’s elections used biometric authentication to activate the voting machine.

The current voting machines in use are the Smartmatic Auditable Election System (SAES) by Smartmatic, which are 100 percent auditable at each stage.

The final vote count is confirmed with the physical vouchers that voters put in the receipt box, and then transmitted electronically through a network isolated from the internet and any computer to assure that no interference can assure.

The vote will be witnessed and audited by international and national political observers, technicians and political organizations. The National Electoral Council has invited the United Nations and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) to send representatives to observe the process.

Voting

These are the five steps involved in voting in Venezuela:

1. When arriving at a poll, voters are directed the voting table that corresponds to them. At the table, there is a list with voters’ identification card numbers to allow a person to confirm their table.

2. The voter then goes to that table to present the document that confirms their identity. The voter then places their index finger or thumb on a fingerprint scanning device.

3. Once their identity is verified, the voting machine will unlock so that the voter can choose the option of their preference. Once selected, the choice can be changed up until the ‘vote’ button is changed.

In case there is any doubt about the voting process, the election official explains the steps involved.

After selecting their preferred option, the voter should press the ‘vote’ button. The machine then prints a receipt of the vote for the voter to read and confirm.

4. The voter then deposits this receipt in the corresponding ballot box.

5. Finally, the voter signs and places their fingerprint in the elections roll to confirm that they have voted, and have a finger marked with indelible ink.

Poll Closing and Tally Scrutinization

Polls are closed at a polling station only after everyone in line to vote has voted.

Once tally scrutinization on the machine finishes, a random paper ballot audit announced where the machines to be audited are randomly selected drawing numbers, and the machine’s serial number is recorded. The paper ballot box corresponding to the machine is also selected and opened and the results for each candidate are openly counted.

This is compared and audited with the original tally printed from the electronic results, and any anomaly or discrepancy is recorded in the audit report.

The original audit report is signed by election poll staff and observers from each party present, then sealed and handed to the military for delivery to the CNE.

Copies of the report are handed over to the representatives of the two highest vote getters.

May 6, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | | 1 Comment

De-Briefing Academics: Unpaid Intelligence Informants

By James Petras • Unz Review • May 1, 2018

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Academics in the Service of Empire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Consequence of Academic Debriefing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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