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A Humanitarian Crisis in Venezuela? A Case Study into NGO Mercy Corps

By Nina Cross | Venezuelanalysis | October 31, 2018

Following a sharp increase in Venezuelan migration since 2015, the corporate mainstream media, alongside the governments of the US, EU and Colombia, is aggressively pushing the narrative of a “humanitarian crisis,” at the same time that Western NGOs flock to set up shop along the Colombian border.

But what if NGOs are being used to influence how the movement of people from Venezuela into Colombia is being shaped and reported, and what’s more, if they are directly benefiting from this situation? To explore the idea, we focus on one such NGO, US-based Mercy Corps, which recently announced an expansion of its operations on the Colombo-Venezuelan border.

Mercy Corps’s budget for global operations, of the order of US $500 million (according to its 2017 annual report), includes funding from US and EU government agencies. Its financiers have included the UK’s International Department of Development, which has regularly sent aid via Mercy Corps to rebel-held areas in Syria. Other funders include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Foundation.

In March 2018, Mercy Corps carried out a “rapid needs assessment” (RNA) of Venezuelan migrants arriving at two main points along the Colombian border. The information gathered was used to “demonstrate” the dangers involved during and after crossings from Venezuela, and the reasons for leaving the country. It is in response to this second question that the people interviewed by Mercy Corps all say the same thing: they are migrating due to an economic crisis in Venezuela, which is linked to hyperinflation.

Independent UN experts, as well as other commentators, have shown on many occasions that the causes of this economic crisis have been significantly exacerbated by the economic sanctions imposed for years upon Venezuela by the US, as well as clarifying that the crisis in Venezuela is economic, not humanitarian. Even US State Secretary Mike Pompeo recently admitted that the sanctions “sometimes have an adverse impact on the people of Venezuela.”

However, Mercy Corps is not concerned with narratives that expose US and EU complicity, and as such, its recommendations fail to include the most obvious point: end the sanctions and stop the hostility towards Venezuela as they are inflicting hardship on its population.

Instead, Mercy Corps’ RNA identified 3 basic needs to be met by the Colombian government: a path to legal entry into Colombia that did not involve passports, the legal right to work in Colombia with the same wages and protections as Colombians and access to shelter, food and water. It is on this third point which Mercy Corps looks to fish for substantial (tax-free) donations and financing from the Global North.

In April, the Colombian government agreed that migrants could register, without passports, at any of the 500-plus checkpoints it would set up along the border over a two month period, to end in June. The reason given was to see how many Venezuelans were entering Colombia. The checkpoints were spread along the 1,500 mile border. Any information supplied by migrants at the checkpoints would be retained by NGOs, not passed to government departments.

By August, the Colombian government agreed that nearly half a million Venezuelans could remain in Colombia for up to two years, look for employment and have access to basic services. The reason given for this change was to accommodate humanitarian needs.

This shift in policy was a reversal of the government’s ruling in February, when up to 3,000 Colombian soldiers were stationed along the border to check for passports. This tightening of rules was referred to as a “diplomatic closure” and the government claimed in a short time the number of migrants fell by 30%.

Yet within a few weeks Bogota U-turned its policy to allow the unhindered movement of Venezuelans, and NGOs such as Mercy Corps were conscripted to enable the process. The new policy of the Colombian government met exactly the needs identified by Mercy Corps, suggesting that the campaign for this migration was an international, organised effort.

In October of this year, Mercy Corps announced they are expanding their services on the border, including providing migrants with a debit card to purchase products. Yet, one out of every three Venezuelans attended by Mercy Corps did not see any improvements to their diet in the two weeks since arriving to Colombia, and 12 percent reported that it had worsened.

Since the Colombian government changed its policy, the number of people leaving Venezuela has increased, according to the Migration Policy Institute, an organisation affiliated to the EU.

As the exodus expands, the humanitarian needs of migrants grow more urgent.

Humanitarian crisis? Mercy Corps as a propaganda tool

The situation of Venezuelan migrants is now being called a “regional humanitarian crisis,” creating a picture of unimaginable catastrophe that needs external intervention.

This escalating crisis narrative of an expanding exodus is placing Venezuela under intense scrutiny. While punishing Venezuela with sanctions from the front, and promoting a migration crisis from behind, the EU and US, with the cooperation of Colombia, are attempting to box Venezuela into a more isolated and vulnerable position.

Colombia has enjoyed close ties with the EU, and soon after changing its policy on Venezuelan passports, it became a NATO partner, further cementing its EU and US dealings. This ballistic development means that the consequences of border conflict, fuelled by a recent movement of 5,000 extra troops to the Catatumbo border region, should be taken very seriously.

Meanwhile, Mercy Corps has consistently driven a narrative of a full-blown humanitarian crisis and rampant violence under President Maduro, including unfounded allegations of repression and torture. For instance, the NGO has made the unsubstantiated, hyperbolic claim on their website that “newborns in Syria have a better chance of survival than those born in Venezuela today,” wich clearly looks to stoke the fire.

Harnessing its “independent charity voice,” Mercy Corps is playing its part as a propaganda tool in vilifying the Venezuelan government, enabling its US and EU funders to continue their sanctions, which only worsen the economic hardship of average Venezuelans, the root cause for leaving their country, as explained in Mercy Corps’ own needs assessment. And whilst all this goes on, Mercy Corps gleefully rakes in ever greater funding so as to “attend” to the “humanitarian crisis” they, together with the mainstream media, have played a key role in manufacturing.

Political interference and profit from Mercy Corps

However, beyond playing a role in the international media war, Mercy Corps is intimately linked to the Washington policy-making establishment that has formulated the US policy of illegal, unilateral sanctions.

Mercy Corps is connected to the influential US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) through its CEO Neal Keny-Guyer, who declared earnings of $460,000 just for his Mercy Corps role in 2017. Apart from being a member of the CFR, he also serves as chairman for Interaction, the US’ largest alliance of NGOs and sitting on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Fragility, Violence and Conflict. The CFR, a virtual who’s who of America’s wealthiest and most powerful people, claims it “helps policymakers” on “international peace and stability,” whilst actually pushing Washington’s neoliberal agenda and interests around the world.

The president of the CFR is Richard Haass, Middle East advisor under George Bush, and advisor to Colin Powell under George W. Bush. On his 2016 election win, Donald Trump publicly considered Haass as an advisor.

The CFR president recently displayed his frustration that US-backed military coups and UN- sanctioned military intervention in Venezuela, all of which would create a further migratory exodus, were taken off the table, despite ongoing rumours from the White House, Bogota, and even Brasilia, that they may be be possible.

In February the CFR made a Preventive Action Plan which recommended more economic sanctions for Venezuela, and in May more US sanctions were imposed.

Whilst sanctions have helped create the conditions which drive people out of Venezuela, US government aid has flowed to NGOs in Colombia, to which Mercy Corps has taken its chunk.

Mercy Corps’ 2017 financial statement shows that the organization benefited from US $464,452,000 in governmental grants and private backing alone, only spending $139,876,000 in humanitarian relief and $46,699,000 in humanitarian recovery. Of this humanitarian relief, the vast majority was spent on the mysteriously entitled “subgrant” category, and only $21,753,000 on actual materials and supplies for migrants.

Aid and NGOs: Assets of US policymakers

The CFR also included an aid plan for Venezuela which called for State Department funding for the Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration (PRM), an organisation which finances Mercy Corps.

In August, the US announced an aid plan at the United Nations Assembly General (UNGA), matching the plan set out by the CFR.

Additionally, in an April article the CFR also suggests “…bypassing the government, if enough aid is provided by the United States, the Lima Group, and the EU to enable people to bring some back into Venezuela.”

The CFR continues: “While not the ideal means to provide humanitarian aid inside Venezuela, smuggling is a well-established activity and effectively closing the border to the influx of such aid would significantly add to the discredit of the Maduro government.”

Indeed, the CFR is explicitly advocating illegal smuggling as a means of destabilizing the elected government in Caracas. Meanwhile, smuggling is a problem for Venezuela, but not in the terms described by the CFR. On the contrary, Venezuela has suffered from extensive smuggling of subsidized goods and fuel into Colombia, exasperating shortages and as such generating more inflation.

Mercy Corps: A toy in the US imperialist toolbox

This game played by think-tanks and policymakers reveals Washington’s glaring double-standards vis-a-vis Venezuela. While they help to create and exploit the need for basic foods and medicines in another hemisphere, roughly 45,000 of their own people die each year through lack of health care. Around 30 million Americans have no medical cover at all, roughly the population of Venezuela, which has health care written into its constitution.

Every year a further 2 million Americans travel out of the US for treatment they cannot afford at home. Some will die if they do not find treatment abroad, but instead of being a crisis, this is termed ‘medical tourism.’

At the same time, the US is deporting tens of thousands of Hondurans, while more attempt to cross the border into the US every day, a legacy of Hillary Clinton’s 2009 adventurism.

Yet, we are constantly told to believe that Washington cares about migrants and the well-being of Venezuelans.

While US policymakers play games around Venezuela, with toys from the imperialist toolbox, along with their EU friends, it is no wonder Maduro fears assassination.

This article is a combination of two texts by Nina Cross, the first of which was published by the Morning Star, edited by Venezuelanalysis.

November 1, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 4 Comments

Venezuela Launches Media Response Plan to Fake News Attacks

Venezuelanalysis | October 31, 2018

Merida – The Venezuelan government has announced the creation of a media based task force to address fake or misleading international news stories about the Caribbean nation.

The ‘Zero Tolerance Media Plan’ was announced by Vice Minister for International Communication William Castillo Monday, and will run through the Foreign Office and its network of embassies and consulates.

Castillo explained that the plan looks to offer responses to instances of fake news coverage “one by one.”

“There have been attacks against the Venezuelan demonym, not just against the country, its political authorities, its government, or Chavismo any more, but now against the people, the average folk, our national identity,” he explained.

Castillo used one example of a recent anonymous note in a Portuguese TV channel which claimed that Venezuelan mothers were giving away their children so as to be able to eat. “This is fake,” he clarified.

Caracas has frequently denounced a media-based campaign to undermine its sovereignty, democratic credentials, and social advances in recent years. Venezuelan authorities claim that US-led media outlets, as well as important European outlets such as El Pais in Spain, look to damage the reputation of the nation and create spin which justifies coercive measures against the country, such as sanctions and an international intervention.

A recent example involves the so-called “humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela following increased migration levels.

“In Central America they don’t say ‘humanitarian crisis, massive exodus, catastrophe, diaspora’. There, it is a ‘caravan’, as if it were a party, and they are thousands which are fleeing poverty, violence, a lack of opportunities, hope, and the US government is closing the door to them,” stated Vice President of the National Constituent Assembly Tania Diaz, drawing comparison with the 7000-strong migrant march which is en route to the Mexican-US border.

Further examples include the media coverage of the August 4 terrorist drone attack against President Nicolas Maduro, in which corporate media outlets used words such as “apparent” and “alleged” to sew doubt about the reality of the attack which targeted the President and injured seven soldiers.

November 1, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

‘Violating our right to inform’: Twitter suspends Venezuelan Presidential Press account

RT | September 26, 2018

Twitter has suspended the official account of the Venezuelan government’s press team, reportedly without giving any explanation. The suspension is the latest in a series of social media strikes against Venezuelan media outlets.

“They blocked our Twitter account of the Presidential Press, they flagrantly violate our right to inform, we demand immediate reinstatement,” Minister for Communication Jorge Rodriguez tweeted on Tuesday.

The Presidential Press profile has more than one million followers. Monday’s suspension is not the first such event: in October 2017, President Maduro denounced an apparent campaign to limit the reach of his posts on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, TeleSUR reported.

While it is unclear if the events are connected, the suspension comes amid a wider clampdown by social media companies on anti-Western and alternative media. In August, Facebook abruptly removed the page of TeleSUR English, a Latin-American news network part-funded by the Venezuelan government. The removal was accompanied by the vague explanation that TeleSUR had breached Facebook’s terms of use.

The apparent censorship of TeleSUR came less than a week after the social media giant deleted the page of Venezuelanalysis, an outlet that offered leftist commentary on Latin American affairs. Though Facebook reinstated the page, Venezuelanalysis received no apology or explanation for its removal.

While accusations of bias and censorship by Silicon Valley tech companies have mostly come from conservatives in the US, a growing number of left-wing sites have felt the squeeze too. Journalist Abby Martin, who hosted ‘The Empire Files’ on TeleSUR told RT that big tech’s censorship efforts are “literally curating our reality and trying to paint anything that challenges this establishment narrative as conspiracy theories, as disinformation, as Russian trolls.”

September 26, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Trump Says He Accepts Maduro’s Meeting Invitation

teleSUR | September 26, 2018

Less than a day after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro invited U.S. President Donald Trump to a meeting based on mutual respect, the U.S. leader said Wednesday he would be open to meeting his Venezuelan counterpart.

Maduro said he hoped to arrange a face-to-face meeting with Trump. The White House responded to a similar request last year by saying such a meeting would happen when the country returned to democracy.

“I’m even willing to talk to President Trump, I think President Trump and I can speak, we understand each other, hopefully one day … the miracle of a face-to-face conversation will take place, between President Donald Trump of the United States and Nicolas Maduro de Venezuela,” the Venezuelan leader said during his speech in Caracas Tuesday.

“I would certainly be open to it, I’m willing to meet with anybody,” Trump said on Wednesday as he arrived at United Nations headquarters after answering a question by a reporter about Maduro’s invitation to meet. “We’re going to take care of Venezuela, if he’s here and he wants to meet, it was not on my mind, it was not on my plate, but if I can help people that’s what I’m here for.”

The comments come just a day after the United States imposed new sanctions on President Maduro’s wife and several of his top allies on Tuesday as Trump also appeared to back a military coup against Maduro in comments he made to reporters Tuesday shortly after his speech at the UNGA.

The latest sanctions are further extending on the already-brutal economic war Washington has been waging against the socialist country with the help of its right-wing allies in the region in an effort to oust the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

“All options are on the table, everyone,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “The strong ones and the less than strong ones and you know what I mean by strong. Every option is on the table with respect to Venezuela.”

September 26, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Canada’s NDP Silent Vis-a-Vis Military Threats Against Venezuela

By Yves Engler | Venezuelanalysis | September 24, 2018

In their obsession for regime change, Ottawa is backing talk of an invasion of Venezuela. And the New Democratic Party (NDP) is enabling Canada’s interventionist policy.

Last week 11 of the 14 member states of the anti-Venezuelan “Lima Group” backed a statement distancing the alliance from “any type of action or declaration that implies military intervention” after Organization of American States chief Luis Almagro stated: “As for military intervention to overthrow the Nicolas Maduro regime, I think we should not rule out any option … diplomacy remains the first option but we can’t exclude any action.” Canada, Guyana and Colombia refused to criticize the head of the OAS’ musings about an invasion of Venezuela.

In recent weeks there has been growing tension on the border between Colombia and Venezuela. Some believe Washington is pushing for a conflict via Colombia, which recently joined NATO.

Last summer Donald Trump threatened to invade Venezuela. “We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary,” the US President said.

Talk of an invasion encourages those seeking regime change. At the start of August drones armed with explosives flew toward Maduro during a military parade in what was probably an attempt to assassinate the Venezuelan president.

Two weeks ago the New York Times reported that US officials recently met members of Venezuela’s military planning to oust Maduro. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for the military to oust Maduro in February and other leading Republican Party officials have made similar statements.

Alongside these aggressive measures, Canada has sought to weaken the Venezuelan government. Since last September Ottawa has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Venezuelan officials. In March the United Nations Human Rights Council condemned the economic sanctions the US, Canada and EU have adopted against Venezuela while Caracas called Canada’s move a “blatant violation of the most fundamental rules of International Law.”

Over the past year and a half Canadian officials have campaigned aggressively against the Venezuelan government. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has prodded Caribbean countries to join the Lima Group’s anti-Venezuela efforts and made frequent statements critical of Caracas’ democratic legitimacy and human rights record. In June Freeland told the OAS General Assembly, “we must act immediately on the situation in Venezuela to force the exit of the dictatorship.”

Ottawa has encouraged its diplomats to play up human rights violations and supported opposition groups inside Venezuela. A 27-page Global Affairs report uncovered by the Globe and Mail noted, “Canada should maintain the embassy’s prominent position as a champion of human-rights defenders.” Alluding to the hostility engendered by its interference in that country’s affairs, the partially redacted 2017 report recommended that Canadian officials also “develop and implement strategies to minimize the impact of attacks by the government in response to Canada’s human rights statements and activities.”

As part of its campaign against the elected government, Ottawa has amplified oppositional voices inside Venezuela. Over the past decade, for instance, the embassy has co-sponsored an annual Human Rights Award with the Centro para la Paz y los Derechos Humanos whose director, Raúl Herrera, has repeatedly denounced the Venezuelan government. In July the recipient of the 2018 prize, Francisco Valencia, spoke in Ottawa and was profiled by the Globe and Mail. “Canada actually is, in my view, the country that denounced the most the violation of human rights in Venezuela … and was the most helpful with financing towards humanitarian issues,” explained Valencia, who also told that paper he was “the target of threats from the government.”

In another example of anti-government figures invited to Ottawa, the former mayor of metropolitan Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, called for “humanitarian intervention” before the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development last week. He said: “If the international community does not urgently activate the principle of humanitarian intervention for Venezuela — which developed the concept of the responsibility to protect — they will have to settle for sending Venezuelans a resolution of condolence with which we will not revive the thousands of human beings who will lose their lives in the middle of this genocide sponsored by Maduro.” In November Ledezma escaped house arrest and fled the country.

The NDP’s foreign critic has stayed quiet regarding the US/Canadian campaign against Venezuela’s elected government. I found no criticism by Hélène Laverdière of US/OAS leaders’ musing about invading or the August assassination attempt on Maduro. Nor did I find any disapproval from the NDP’s foreign critic of Canadian sanctions or Ottawa’s role in the Lima Group of anti-Venezuelan foreign ministers. Laverdière has also failed to challenge Canada’s expulsion of Venezuelan diplomats and role in directly financing an often-unsavoury Venezuelan opposition. Worse still, Laverdière has openly supported asphyxiating the left-wing government through other means. The 15-year Foreign Affairs diplomat has repeatedly found cause to criticize Venezuela and has called on Ottawa to do more to undermine Maduro’s government.

Is Canadian political culture so deformed that no party represented in the House of Commons will oppose talk of invading Venezuela? If so its not another country’s democracy that we should be concerned about.

September 24, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

The New York Times Editorial Opposing Military Intervention in Venezuela May Do More Harm Than Good

By Steve Ellner – Venezuelanalysis – September 13, 2018

There is a growing body of pro-establishment statements opposing the possibility of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela. The latest expression of this position is a New York Times editorial titled “Stay Out of Venezuela, Mr. Trump” published on September 11. At first glance the editorial is a welcomed statement that counters the careless war-mongering declarations coming from the ilk of Marco Rubio and a number of high-ranking Trump administration officials as well as Trump himself.

Certainly, one must applaud the NY Times’ decision to come out in opposition to military intervention, and its recognition that similar intervention and support for regime change in Latin America historically (the editorial even makes reference to the Brazilian coup of 1964) as well as elsewhere in the world has had disastrous consequences.

The line of reasoning of the New York Times’s editorial overlaps that of other articles that have come out recently in the establishment media such as one titled “U.S. Military Intervention in Venezuela would be a Major Mistake” by Robert Moore published the following day in The Hill as well as the position of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). The anti-war stand crosses party lines as Moore has served Republican senators including Tea Party Republican Jim DeMint.

One hint regarding the limitations of this new position is the subtitle of the NY Times’ editorial: “President Maduro has to Go, but an American Backed Coup is not the Answer.” The way the article frames the issue is what makes it worrisome. The New York Times does not question the right of the U.S. as a nation (as opposed to the UN) to promote regime change. All it says is that a more intelligent approach to getting rid of Maduro is what is called for. As an alternative to military intervention, Trump’s pro-establishment critics call for increased sanctions.

WOLA, for instance, criticizes the Trump administration for increasing the number of Chavistas who are being sanctioned, rather than concentrating on a smaller number of leading Chavistas and increasing the penalties against them. In fact, the issue of sanctions against individuals serves as a cover for the financial embargo which has inflicted considerable harm on Venezuela, as even Reuters recognizes.

A valid question is why the New York Times has waited until now to adamantly oppose military intervention. After all, the then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raised the possibility of a military solution as far back as February of this year when he kicked off his six-day Latin American tour in Austin where he stated “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.” The statement was a trial balloon. Trump pushed the idea in subsequent months but the response from right-wing and conservative governments was negative. Countries which form part of the Lima Group rejected the military option and distanced themselves from Washington by supporting Mexico in its differences with the U.S. on tariffs and NAFTA.

The New York Times saw the handwriting on the wall and realized that military intervention would not count on the support of Latin American governments, in spite of their hostility to the Maduro government. The intervention that Trump proposed would be truly unilateral (unlike current military intervention in the Middle East) as Latin American governments would be unwilling to pay the inevitably high political price for supporting a U.S. invasion in the region.

Given these circumstances, coupled with Trump’s lack of political capital, a military invasion is unlikely. Talk of it may be designed to encourage dissension and unrest within the Venezuelan military. The strategy is that by threatening military action, members of the Venezuelan armed forces may put up resistance to Maduro out of the prospect of having to risk their lives in a confrontation against the world’s greatest military superpower.

In any case, if the central argument of the New York Times and other members of the “liberal” establishment is that Trump should focus on economic sanctions rather than a military solution, then they are undoubtedly doing more harm than good.

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Evo Morales: US is The Real Global Threat, Not Venezuela

teleSUR | September 1, 2018

Bolivian President Evo Morales said Friday, on Twitter, that “the U.S. is the real threat to humankind,” responding to Senator Marco Rubio’s talk of using the U.S. Armed Forces against the Venezuelan Government as it “has become a threat for the region and even for the United States.”

Morales said “Senator Marco Rubio, warns of using the Empire’s army against the people of Venezuela because he assumes a “threat” against the security of the U.S.” The Bolivian president remarked that is the U.S. is the real threat to the world’s people, citing “its history of interventionism and military coups d’état in the world.”

The Florida Republican senator made the comments after meeting with national security advisor for the Donald Trump Administration, John Bolton, at the White House Wednesday.

“I believe that the United States Armed Forces are only used in case of a threat to national security. I think there is an argument, very strong, that can be used at this moment that Venezuela has become a threat to the region and even to the United States.”

Earlier this year, in February, Rubio made a similar statement, encouraging the Venezuelan Army to overthrow the Nicolas Maduro-led Bolivarian government.

“The world would support the Armed Forces in #Venezuela if they decide to protect the people & restore democracy by removing a dictator,” Rubio said, in a tweet, on Feb. 9.

On Saturday, Jun. 16, Bolivian President Evo Morales forcefully stated that Latin America “is no longer the United States’ backyard,” while denouncing the United States’ attempt to convince its South American allies to help orchestrate a military intervention or coup in Venezuela.

September 2, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 4 Comments

Venezuelan Opposition Calls for New Presidential Vote After Maduro Drone Attack

Sputnik – August 8, 2018

Venezuela’s opposition leader Julio Borges has called on Caracas to hold a new presidential vote to elect a new leader who will, in turn, form a new government that will bring order to the country after the recent assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro.

“There is a clear confusion with what happened over the weekend, but it has been demonstrated, once again, the disconnection and detachment that exists between the Venezuelan people and those who are in power today … The only way to stop the violence, anarchy, and chaos that exists in Venezuela is to allow the people to choose a different government through free elections,” Borges said Tuesday in a statement distributed by the Justice First.

He added that the Venezuelan population was confused and did not believe the government’s version of who was responsible for the assassination attempt.

On Tuesday, Maduro accused Borges, who is a former president of the country’s National Assembly and co-founder of Venezuela’s main opposition party Justice First, of being linked to the recent drone attack that attempted to kill the Venezuelan president.

On Saturday, a military parade in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas attended by Maduro was interrupted by what the authorities said was an attempt on the life of the president. Venezuela’s Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez has said several drones detonated close to where the president was giving a speech. The president was unharmed, but seven soldiers sustained injuries.

Maduro blamed the attack on Venezuelan right-wing opposition, Colombia, and individuals living in the United States. Both Washington and Bogota have denied any involvement in the incident.

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela Criticizes ‘Politicized’ UN Human Rights Report

teleSUR | June 22, 2018

The Venezuelan government has criticized a United Nations human rights report on the Latin American nation as “lacking technical rigour and objectivity.”

“Venezuela categorically rejects the report regarding the alleged human rights situation in the country, published by the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as a result of a highly questionable methodology that buries the credibility and technical rigor demanded of an office of this nature, and violates the principles of objectivity, impartiality and non-selectivity,” a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Relations said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Jordanian prince, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said Friday that “rule of law is virtually absent in Venezuela,” after a report was published citing “shocking” accounts of alleged extrajudicial killings by state forces.

The Venezuelan government responded that “Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein confirms his complicity with the multiform aggression that is underway against Venezuela, keeping silent in the face of the negative impact on the enjoyment of economic, social, and cultural rights created by coercive, unilateral measures imposed by the United States of America and its servile allies in the region.”

The statement also pointed out that all official information provided by the Venezuelan government has been excluded from the report, “in order to build a grotesque media farce on this matter.”

The Foreign Ministry “reiterates its inescapable commitment to human rights” and its “willingness to continue cooperating with the organs of the United Nations system on issues of human rights, provided that the sovereignty of the country is respected and that it acts in accordance with rigour and truth.”

UN independent expert and Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, who himself was in Venezuela compiling data on human rights last year, described the report as lacking objectivity and neutrality.

“My worry is the credibility of the office when it shows no neutrality nor objectivity,” he stated following the release of the report.

Much of the report referred to the State’s reaction to the 2014 and 2017 right wing violent street protests, and the Operation of People’s Liberation (OLP) crime operatives which were temporarily held during 2017.

Venezuela’s Jose Vicente Rangel, who served as vice president under Hugo Chavez and now has a popular weekly TV show, warned of police abuses back in April, highlighting “operations that police groups are carrying out, operations that involve outrages against citizens and numerous cases of murder in the barrios.”

He alleged that the suspended OLP ops were being continued extra-officially by the FAES special police forces.

June 26, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

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