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How the US and Great Britain Instigate Coups Nowadays

By Vladimir Danilov – New Eastern Outlook – 06.03.2021

Recently, the United States and Britain, actively using the propaganda tools that they possess, have increasingly begun to accuse Russia and China of interfering in their domestic affairs and election campaigns, and of effectively preparing coups in these countries. However, apart from making proclamatory statements, neither Washington nor London has presented any facts or documents that confirm these accusations, nor can they present them, since these accusations are false.

Along with that, documented information about complicity on the part of United States and Britain in various coups that were being set up has begun to appear more frequently in publicly accessible reports in various media outlets.

For example, according to the recent publication in the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung, UN investigators found out that in 2019 elite fighters from the American Erik Prince’s private military company Blackwater, infamous for their actions during the American occupation of Iraq and several other states, had to take action twice to eliminate the Government of National Accord, which is recognized by the international community. But this “Project Opus” failed…

A group of UN experts studying violations of the UN arms embargo against Libya learned that in the Libyan war in recent years there has been a second, secret front to directly get rid of officials and commanders of the Government of National Accord that rules in Tripoli. “Project Opus” specifically called for delivering 20 elite Blackwater fighters to sites near Tripoli in June 2019 to conduct operations. The officers contacted by the German newspaper in Benghazi confirmed the arrival of 20 fighters from England and South Africa, and one American, in June 2019. The second group, consisting of snipers and fighters trained to fight behind enemy lines, flew to Benghazi in April 2020 and then headed off to the front near Tripoli. On April 24, 2020, 13 French citizens reached the Libyan-Tunisian border and presented themselves as diplomats to the Tunisian border guards, even though they carried heavy weapons. They were arrested, but under diplomatic pressure from Paris they were allowed to leave for Tunisia.

In early May 2020, the world media exploded with reports: another attempt at a military invasion of Venezuela was thwarted, Washington’s mercenaries were captured by the Venezuelan authorities, the United States wanted to repeat the operation in Cochinos Bay (the so-called attempt by the US Central Intelligence Agency to land Cuban emigrants in the Bay of Pigs, something which was aimed at overthrowing Fidel Castro). It is worth remembering how on May 3 mercenaries from the American private military company Silvercorp tried to land on the coast of Venezuela near the city of La Guaira, which is located just 32 kilometers from Caracas. Sixty armed, well-equipped militants with satellite phones and fake documents planned to reach the capital and capture the Venezuelan president for his subsequent transfer to the United States. Two of those arrested, Airan Berry and Luke Denman, were US citizens that had served in Afghanistan and Iraq. On May 4, American media interviewed the former US special forces fighter and the head of the Silvercorp PMC, Jordan Goodrow, who trained these fighters in Colombia. Goodrow declared that the goal of “Operation Gideon” was to organize raids into Venezuela to fight “the regime”. The former special forces soldier showed an eight-page $213 million contract signed in October 2019 by Washington-backed self-proclaimed Venezuelan “president” Juan Guaido and Donald Trump’s political advisers. On March 23, the Colombian authorities confiscated an entire arsenal on their territory that was specifically meant for the mercenaries. The mercenaries were equipped fairly well.

The Washington Post also published a document according to which members of the Venezuelan opposition, following negotiations, in October 2019 entered into a deal with the American private military company Silvercorp, located in Florida. The PMC employees were supposed to infiltrate the territory of Venezuela to overthrow the country’s legitimate president, Nicolas Maduro.

These events in Venezuela were recently well assessed by Bloomberg :

“One would hope that the Central Intelligence Agency could do better than a farcical scheme that was disowned by the Venezuelan opposition, penetrated by regime security forces and disrupted as soon as it began. Yet this trivial episode invites us to think seriously about the role of covert intervention and regime change in US policy.”

Exposing these subversive activities by Blackwater and other US and British mercenaries shows that they are usually committed by former military personnel and criminals involved in a wide variety of activities around the world. They act as bodyguards, protecting people and businesses in “hot spots” (like oil-producing areas off the coast of Nigeria and Sudan), as well as convoys and freight shipments in war zones, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since from the very beginning of hostilities in the region both public opinion in the United States and Democrats in Congress viewed sending their own soldiers to hot spots extremely unfavorably, they had to look for replacements elsewhere.

American wars in the beginning of the 21st century have become a real gold mine for these organizations, which have turned from bands of thugs that toppled shaky “cannibalistic” regimes in Africa during the Cold War into real international corporations. They represent a significant benefit for the United States and its Western allies leading the war, since they consist of veterans that are already experienced – military professionals who have not found a niche for themselves in civilian life. In addition, these organizations are considered private enterprises, and therefore are not accountable to Congress, so the losses these soldiers incur are not included in the total number of casualties for a country’s conventional army, which makes it possible to give a more favorable representation of the situation in a war zone at home. Public opinion in the United States has long called for rejecting the services these companies provide, and reinforcing transparency in their activities. The UN has repeatedly raised the issue of revising the definition of “mercenary”, and banning organizations like Blackwater, over the past several years – but so far it has not yet achieved any significant results.

Besides these examples of Washington’s attempts to instigate a military coup in other countries, nowadays a number of documents have been raised for public review related to the period of the height of the US intervention in Syria in 2014, when Assad’s forces were growing weaker and Damascus was under the threat of capture by Islamists that the West nurtured and supported. For example, the Middle East Eye agency has shown quite convincingly – and with documentary evidence – how during a British-supported operation called Sarkha (Scream), the media tried to turn the Alawites against Assad, and by doing so accomplish a coup in Syria. The publication gives official documents that attest to the social media “protest movement” that was actually created under the authority of the British government.  The very same scenario for Operation Sarkha was developed by the American company Pechter Polls of Princeton (New Jersey, USA), which was working under a contract with the British government. The contract for subversive work in Syria was initially administered by the Military Strategic Effects department at the UK Department of Defense, and then by the British government-run The Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, whose objective is to

“resolve conflicts that threaten the Great Britain’s interests.” The project’s budget was £600,000 ($746,000) per year. The published documents indicate that the goal of the operations was “supporting the activities of the Syrian opposition media to reach an audience in Syria… Platforms for this work were created jointly by the UK, USA, and Canada to strengthen popular resentment toward the Assad regime.”

In another issue of the Middle East Eye, documents obtained by the publication show how British contractors hired Syrian citizens who were journalists to promote “moderate opposition” – often without their knowledge. Contracts with these mercenaries were entered into by the British Foreign Office, and were managed by the country’s Ministry of Defense, sometimes by military intelligence officers, paying small amounts of money to the contractors.

After getting to know everything indicated above, the question naturally arises: who exactly is really interfering in the affairs of other states? And how objective is the propaganda coming from Washington and London, as well as their foreign policy as a whole?

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Biden Extends Obama’s Executive Order Against Venezuela for One More Year

Biden considers Venezuela a threat to the security of his country. File photo.
By Randolf Borges | Ultimas Noticias* | March 3, 2021

US President Joe Biden has extended Executive Order 13692 signed by Barack Obama in 2015, declaring Venezuela as “an unusual and extraordinary threat” to the North American country. The renewal of the order was signed on Tuesday, March 2 and published this Wednesday and maintains that the measure will continue after March 8, the date on which the document turns six years old.

“The situation in Venezuela continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue with the national emergency declared in Decree 13692 with respect to the situation in Venezuela,” says part of the document that Biden sent to the Congress of his country to continue with the suffocation campaign against million of Venezuelans.

The new US president considers that the “threat” raised in 2015 “has not improved” with respect to Venezuela, which is why he decided to extend the sanctioning mechanism against the South American country.

The Executive Order that paved the way for more sanctions

After Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13692, the way was open for a series of sanctions and coercive measures to be imposed against the Venezuelan people.

Thus came Executive Order 13808, of August 24, 2017, which prohibits the direct or indirect purchase of securities from the Government of Venezuela.

Then Executive Order 13827, of March 19, 2018, was imposed, which prevents all transactions related to the issuance and use of any type of electronic money. That same year, Executive Order 13835 was issued, with which the prohibitions on transactions or refinancing operations of the Venezuelan debt are intensified.

On November 1, 2018, Executive Order 13850 was issued, which blocks assets and prohibits transactions by persons operating in the gold sector. Executive Order 13857, of January 25, 2019, designated Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), its subsidiaries and associated entities as subject to sanctions by the United States, blocking the main source of revenues for the Venezuelan economy.

One of the last sanctions was issued through Executive Order 13884, of August 5, 2019, which transforms the coercive measures into an “embargo” and authorizes the application of secondary sanctions against companies or countries that have commercial relations with Venezuela.

In a recent visit to Venezuela by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the effects of sanctions on human rights, Alena Douhan, a preliminary report was made public labeling sanctions as criminal and urging the lifting of all sanctions. A few days before, the US Government Accountability Office issued a report recognizing the negative effects of US sanctions on Venezuelan economy and on human rights.

Here is the full text of Joe Biden’s letter:

CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO VENEZUELA

On March 8, 2015, the President issued Executive Order 13692, declaring a national emergency with respect to the situation in Venezuela, including the Government of Venezuela’s erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment protestors, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant government corruption.

The President took additional steps pursuant to this national emergency in Executive Order 13808 of August 24, 2017; Executive Order 13827 of March 19, 2018; Executive Order 13835 of May 21, 2018; Executive Order 13850 of November 1, 2018; Executive Order 13857 of January 25, 2019; and Executive Order 13884 of August 5, 2019.

The circumstances described in Executive Order 13692, and subsequent Executive Orders issued with respect to Venezuela, have not improved, and they continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. Therefore in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13692.

This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

THE WHITE HOUSE,

March 2, 2021.

*Translation: Orinoco Tribune

March 5, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Territorial dispute growing between Guyana and Venezuela

By Lucas Leiroz | March 4, 2021

An old territorial dispute in South America is reaching its most tense point in decades. The territory known as Essequibo has been mutually claimed by Guyana and Venezuela since the 19th century when Guyana still belonged to the United Kingdom. In 1897, the Venezuelan and British authorities agreed to submit their dispute to an arbitrary international court in Paris, which ruled that the land belonged to the UK. For decades, the arbitration decision was accepted by Caracas, but in 1948 Venezuelan authorities revealed some irregularities in the trial, which were documented in old government files. As a result, the decision was considered null, and years later, in 1963, Venezuela formally submitted its territorial claim to the United Nations, and the dispute remains unresolved till today, when the interests of foreign oil companies threaten to increase the tensions.

As a region rich in oil, Essequibo has recently entered the map of the large multinationals in this sector, especially the American Exxon Mobil. More than that, the economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela and the political alignment of Guyana with Washington contribute to create an even more controversial scenario. Guyana has the support of the large private oil sector and the American government, while Venezuela remains alone. Last year, the case was filed with the International Court of Justice, but Venezuela did not accept it and remained out of the trial.

However, in a sentence on December 18, 2020, the Court proclaimed its competence to intervene in the dispute, despite Venezuela’s position. It is necessary to highlight that, regardless of any decision taken by the Court over who really has sovereignty in Essequibo, this sentence must be considered null, since the absence of Venezuelan consent prevents the execution of the sentence. The need for consent is one of the most elementary principles of international law and the very fact that the Court declares itself competent already leads us to question whether its judges are really impartial – clearly, the norms of international law are being violated in favor of Guyana.

Guyana has publicly admitted that its expenses for the court case in The Hague were paid by Exxon Mobil. Although the American oil company has been operating in Guyana for decades, its interest has been greatly increased with the recent discoveries of oil reserves and investors are willing to do anything to ensure the exploration of local natural resources. Currently, Exxon Mobil is interested in expanding its facilities over an area of more than 26,000 square kilometers, which not only crosses the disputed territory in Essequibo, but also violates Venezuelan undisputed national territory.

With this scenario of clear attack on Venezuelan national sovereignty and possible collaboration of the International Court with one of the parties, Venezuela is at a disadvantage mainly due to its diplomatic weakness. Venezuela, at this point, lacks sufficient influence to cause the Court to review its decision or judge the case in a really partial way. For that, only strong international alliances can help Caracas. The large nations that are not aligned with Washington and have so far cooperated strongly with Venezuela, Russia and China, might be provoked by the Venezuelan government to incite international pressure in this regard. Only these two countries can mediate a parallel agreement that may be established between Caracas and The Hague in order to choose between two paths: either Venezuela agrees to submit to trial on the condition that there is a partial judgment and without the influence of private companies, or the Court declines jurisdiction. As the first scenario is unlikely and difficult to monitor, the most viable route would be for The Hague to abdicate any form of judgment.

It is important to mention that, in the absence of international judgment, what is in force in Essequibo is the Geneva Agreement of 1966, which did not decide on sovereignty in the region, but, in search of a peaceful solution, defined what activities would be allowed or prohibited in Essequibo. Oil exploration by foreign companies is not allowed, so, in principle, Guyana is violating the agreement and its activities could only become lawful if there was a decision by the International Court on the matter, allowing exploration. As Venezuela does not submit to the Court, the trial is impossible and, therefore, exploration remains prohibited and Guyana is committing an international offense.

However, more worrying than that is the fact that the American military is working in Essequibo, carrying out tests with the aim of intimidating Venezuela and pressuring Caracas to renounce its demands. There are American military ships in Essequibo “protecting” Exxon Mobil facilities and provoking Caracas. In addition, considering that the American company wants to publicly explore areas within Venezuelan territory, what will become of the American presence? If Caracas does not allow the activities of Exxon Mobil, it is the Venezuelan right to control or even destroy the facilities in its territory. And what would be the American reaction to that – considering Biden’s aggressive interventionist policy?

It is for these reasons that, more than ever, countries of greater international relevance must mediate the issue in order to maintain the status of illegality to the Exxon Mobil’s activities. With international pressure, it is possible that the American company will retreat or that at least the American military in the region will leave and with that we would have a reduction in tensions.

Still, it is possible that with international mediation a mutual exploration agreement will be reached that allows both countries to enjoy the local wealth, without, however, allowing companies that violate the Geneva Agreement to operate.

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

March 4, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Armed conflict between Venezuela and Guyana will involve US forces

By Lucas Leiroz | February 3, 2021

A new focus of tensions is emerging in South America. Since the discovery of oil in Guyana, this country has been increasingly approaching Washington both as an economic partner and as a political ally. The Americans see the partnership with the Guyanese as an opportunity to fill the void left in the global oil market with the economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela. But, in addition to a mere economic alliance, the ties between both countries are also rising to the military sphere, which is generating concerns in Caracas.

On January 21, regional tensions reached their peak. Guyanese fishing boats Nady Nayera and Sea Wolf were intercepted by Venezuela after an illegal incursion into Venezuelan territory. Caracas, not having authorized the entry of the vessels, interpreted the maneuver as dangerous to national security and kept the boats under its control. However, this Venezuelan version of the facts was denied by Georgetown, which claimed that the ships were detained within Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Some noteworthy factors preceded this escalation of tensions. On January 7, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro signed a decree that establishes the formation of a new maritime territory on the Atlantic coast. The decree includes part of the Essequibo region, in which there is a territorial dispute with Guyana. The so-called “Guyana Essequiba” refers to a territory currently under the rule of Guyana that previously belonged to Venezuela, having been transferred to Guyanese possession after an arbitrary sentence in an international court organized by the United Kingdom at the end of the 19th century.

Venezuela has since claimed sovereignty over Essequibo, but tensions have been mild most of the time. However, Guyana, since aligning with the US, has been adopting more aggressive measures in the region. The US armed forces recently began military exercises in Guyana and deployed several military ships along Essequibo’s 159,000 km². The territory is rich in oil and the American justification for the exercises is precisely to protect the oil extraction bases installed by the company ExxonMobil. In the midst of such circumstances, Venezuela has its national sovereignty violated and is therefore trying to establish minimum measures to guarantee its interests.

However, despite the rivalry having resumed an old territorial dispute, it is necessary to emphasize that there is an agreement in force on Essequibo that Guyana is directly violating. In 1966, Guyana and Venezuela signed the Geneva Agreement, mediated by the United Nations, which determined which activities would be permitted in which area of ​​Essequibo. In this document, oil exploration by foreign companies is not allowed. Since 2015, the Guyanese government has violated the pact, allowing multinationals to explore for oil there. In 2018, Venezuela had already intercepted ExxonMobil vessels that invaded its territory to explore oil. Now, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has determined the creation of a Special Strategic Zone to increase security over Essequibo because the tendency is for territorial violations to increase further, considering that regional diplomacy is already broken, and that Guyana has become a satellite nation of Washington’s interests – which publicly plans to overthrow Maduro. The Venezuelan decision was condemned by the president of Guyana, Irfaan Ali, which prompted Caracas to issue a statement saying that such positions suggested preparation for an armed confrontation.

The Guyanese attitude has not changed over time. Now, once again, ships have entered Venezuelan territory, leading to their capture by the Bolivarian forces. If that situation continues, the Venezuelan response to foreign incursions may become increasingly rigid and the armed forces are likely to start taking down invasive vessels, which will lead to Washington’s severe responses. Currently, we can no longer regard the South American scenario as “unlikely” for a war to arise. The security crisis is widespread and with Biden in power many experts suggest that American foreign policy will become more aggressive and interventionist. Guyana has a much weaker military apparatus than the Venezuelan State and cannot face the neighboring country with its own forces. It remains to be seen what Washington’s willingness to invest in a conflict in South America will be.

More than ever, a new international agreement is needed to establish a new regulation for the region. The agreement, however, must be impartial and try to favor both nations. In an ideal scenario, the other South American nations, being co-participants in the disputes, should mediate such an agreement. But, today, the political structure of South America is absolutely broken, and no nation has sufficient diplomatic strength to resolve a demand of this nature.

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

February 3, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

Biden To Keep Up Trump’s Venezuela Regime-Change Policy

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | January 20, 2021

The Biden administration has said it will continue to formally recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela, despite Nicolás Maduro clearly being the actual leader of the socialist country.

Biden’s nominee for secretary of state Anthony Blinken told Senators on Tuesday that Guaido will be the recognized leader, a policy which began in January 2019 when the opposition leader dubbed himself ‘Interim President’ and also ‘Acting President’ at the encouragement of Washington during Trump admin attempts to foment a military and popular uprising against Maduro.

During his remarks Blinken also indicated the new administration will keep up the sanctions. “We need an effective policy that can restore Venezuela to democracy, starting with free and fair elections,” he said.

He said Biden will seek “more effectively target” economic punitive measures in efforts to make Maduro step aside and allow Juan Guaido to take up position, according to Reuters.

Blinkin further said he believes the US should not enter into negotiations with Maduro for the end of sanctions or some kind of relief, but instead vowed that Caracas must “really feel the pain”.

Currently the OPEC nation is gaining help from Iran and Russia in circumventing a US oil and fuel blockade. US sanctions aim to prevent crude being exported out and gasoline being imported for domestic use (Venezuela’s derelict refineries have been incapable of processing enough fuel to keep up domestic demand).

While Guaido is also recognized as president by over a dozen US allies, the majority of countries – including powerful Russia and China – do not.

January 21, 2021 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Revealed: UK Sets Up Media Influencing Project in Venezuela

By Matt Kennard and John McEvoy | Declassified UK | January 6, 2021

The UK government has established a journalism project to ‘influence’ Venezuela’s ‘media agenda’ while a Foreign Office-funded foundation is spending £750,000 on a secretive ‘democracy-promotion’ programme in the country, as Britain appears to deepen efforts to remove the Maduro government.

  • UK government has allocated £250,000 from its aid budget to ‘influence’ local and national ‘media agendas’
  • British funding for journalism should not be ‘referred or linked to’, government says
  • Westminster Foundation for Democracy has spent over £750,000 in Venezuela since 2016
  • It refuses to tell Declassified details about its partners in Venezuela
  • Foundation’s country representative sympathised with armed coup attempt in the country

As Venezuela’s political crisis continues, the UK government has initiated a new project promoting investigative journalism in Latin America which furtively covers Venezuela.

The project, launched last summer and intended to “influence” the media agenda in the country, follows a long history of the British government using journalism as an influencing tool. It raises suspicions that it aims to help remove the leftist government of Venezuela president Nicolás Maduro.

In a separate programme, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), a majority UK-government funded organisation, has spent over £750,000 to “strengthen democracy” in Venezuela since 2016, according to documents obtained by Declassified.

The WFD’s programmes in the country are shrouded in secrecy due to apparent concerns about the security of its staff, although its country representative advertises his affiliation to the organisation online.

The British government controversially recognises Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaidó as president and is running a number of anti-government programmes in the country using the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) which supports projects designed “to tackle instability and to prevent conflicts that threaten UK interests”.

The aim of the fund’s new journalism project is stated to be the creation of a “new platform that strengthens media organisation [sic] throughout the region and provides journalists with a platform in which they can collaborate and build regional stories”.

Programme literature notes that successful applicants should display “a capacity to link into – and ultimately influence – local and national media agendas”.

But they are warned that “the British government — and its resourcing of the project — should not be expressly referred or linked to the individual outputs of the project (i.e. individual articles, events etc).”

Run by the British embassy in Bogotá, Colombia, the call for applications noted that successful bids would start in August 2020. There has been no public update since, although the Foreign Office told Declassified there had been delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On the public advert, applicants are advised to budget up to £250,000 for their projects, but the Foreign Office told Declassified : “it is not currently possible to confirm what budget will be available for this project.”

Declassified’s repeated questions about the project to its two coordinators in Bogotá went unanswered. However, a Foreign Office spokesperson told Declassified: “It is inaccurate to conflate this call for bids with the UK position on Venezuela, which has not changed. We want to see a democratic transition with free and fair elections take place in Venezuela.”

The CSSF put out a public call in June last year for applications from journalists seeking to cover crime and corruption in Colombia, Peru and Panama, adding there was the “potential to cover linked events in other neighbouring countries”. The word Venezuela did not appear.

However, CSSF documentation published three days before the advert outlined the same programme with the addition of Venezuela in its title. The furtive inclusion of the country appears to reflect Foreign Office reticence to publicise its increased involvement in Venezuela.

The summary of another CSSF programme, again in Colombia for the year ending March 2020, includes the recommendation to “engage” Foreign Office officials “about options to develop CSSF programmes in Venezuela”.

A September 2019 job advert for a CSSF programme manager in Lima, Peru, notes that the successful applicant will work “with colleagues in Colombia, Panama and, potentially, Venezuela”. 

Declassified recently revealed that the CSSF has spent £450,000 setting up an anti-government coalition in Venezuela, again by furtively adding the project to an existing programme focused on Colombia and beginning in 2019.

Journalism as information war

The UK government has long used the media to undermine foreign leaders and political movements it perceives as a threat to British business interests.

Declassified recently revealed that a secretive Cold War propaganda unit, named the Information Research Department (IRD), tried to prevent Chilean socialist Salvador Allende from winning presidential elections in 1964 and 1970.

Declassified files also reveal that during the Brazilian dictatorship of 1964-1985, the IRD “assiduously cultivated” one of Brazil’s leading left-wing publishers, Samuel Wainer.

Though the unit was shut down in 1977, Britain has continued to sponsor journalistic ventures in Latin America. In response to a freedom of information request, the Foreign Office revealed that, between January 2016 and September 2018, it funded Venezuelan news outlet Fundación Efecto Cocuyo, as well as the Instituto Radiofónico Fe y Alegría and Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Prensa.

While receiving funds from the British government, Efecto Cocuyo teamed up with two British organisations — Bellingcat and Forensic Architecture — to “call for more evidence” regarding the killing of Óscar Pérez at the hands of Venezuelan police. Pérez, a police officer, had hijacked a police helicopter and, on 27 June 2017, used it to attack a number of government buildings in central Caracas.

In July 2019, Efecto Cocuyo’s editor, Luz Mely Reyes, spoke at the UK government’s “Global Conference for Media Freedom” event in London. Then foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, addressing the conference, said Reyes “has defied the Maduro regime by co-founding an independent news website, Efecto Cocuyo”, without mentioning the website’s links to the British government.

London’s support for media projects in Venezuela appears to mirror that of the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED). According to its accounts, the NED has funded “freedom of information” projects in Venezuela aimed at fostering a “greater understanding of the spillover effects of Venezuelan corruption and criminal activity” by working with “investigative journalists and partner organisations”.

A 2017 NED project, with a budget of over $60,000, aims to “increase transparency and accountability in the Venezuelan government procurement processes. And to foster collaboration with journalists across the region”.

Media freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, which is also funded by the NED, notes: “Venezuela’s president since 2013, Nicolás Maduro persists in trying to silence independent media outlets and keep news coverage under constant control.”

It adds: “The climate for journalists has been extremely tense since the onset of a political and economic crisis in 2016, and is exacerbated by Maduro’s frequent references to ‘media warfare’ in an attempt to discredit national and international media criticism of his administration.”

The embassy in Bogotá

One of the two Foreign Office points of contact for the project at the British embassy in Bogotá is Claudia Castilla, a Colombian national who was a UK government-funded Chevening Scholar in London from 2017-18.

Castilla appears to be a strong supporter of the Venezuelan opposition, writing in February 2014 “I think I fell in love with Leopoldo López”, referring to a leading opposition figure. At the time US-educated López was promoting street protests in a strategy known as “The Exit”, after Maduro won presidential elections in April 2013.

From 2014-15, Castilla worked as a research assistant for the Colombian chapter of Transparency International, where she “formulated public policy recommendations”. Declassified recently revealed the UK government funded Transparency International’s Venezuelan chapter to set up an “anti-corruption” coalition in the country.

From 2012 to 2013, Castilla worked for the Cerrejón Foundation, the charitable arm of the controversial Cerrejón coal mine in Colombia which is run by three London-listed mining multinationals. For the latter period of her employment, Castilla was the foundation’s “social control advisor”.

‘Democracy promotion’

Documents obtained by Declassified also show that the Westminster Foundation for Democracy — Britain’s “democracy promotion” arm — has been running expensive programmes in Venezuela.

The WFD claims to be “the most effective organisation sharing the UK democratic experience”, but its operations are shrouded in secrecy.

Venezuela hosts the WFD’s only full-scale programme and permanent office in Latin America as part of a project which began in 2016. Since then the WFD has spent £760,680, according to figures obtained by Declassified.

The largest outlay was £248,725 in 2017-2018, as the EU announced a sanctions regime against Venezuela and British officials intensified calls for “different people at the helm” of the Venezuelan government.

Alan Duncan, then minister of state for the Americas, said in 2018: “Maduro’s double crime is that his destruction of the economy has been followed by the systemic undermining of democracy.” He added: “The revival of the oil industry [in Venezuela] will be an essential element in any recovery, and I can imagine that British companies like Shell and BP, will want to be part of it.”

Last year, the WFD spent £113,193 on its Venezuela operations, while Declassified understands a bid for funding of just over £27,500 for next year is awaiting approval. The WFD has two full-time staff in Venezuela.

In December, UN human rights experts found that “since November 2020 Venezuela has systematically stigmatised and persecuted civil society organisations, dissenting voices and human rights defenders”.

The WFD has no similar programmes in UK government-allied dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, or the United Arab Emirates.

The Foundation told Declassified: “WFD works to strengthen democracy around the world. We are funded by the UK as well as other governments (including Canada, Germany, Norway and Switzerland) and international organisations (such as the United Nations Development Programme) and are operationally independent.”

But the vast majority of the WFD’s funding comes from the British government. In the year to March 2020, it provided £11.4-million to the Foundation, while all other sources of income added up to £1.5-million.

The WFD said that in Venezuela it works “with a range of MPs, National Assembly staff, civil society, and academics” but it refused to disclose to Declassified information about who those partners are. It said this was “to avoid endangering the physical health or safety of those partners”.

However, the WFD’s country representative in Venezuela advertises his position on his public Linkedin page, and his email and phone number are available through WFD job adverts.

As its Venezuela programme began in 2016, the WFD published an article on the independent news site openDemocracy in association with Daniel Fermín, a Venezuelan researcher.

The article asked: “Can Venezuela’s president [Nicolás Maduro] be unseated peacefully?”. In the following two years, openDemocracy was awarded $99,661 (£74,131) by the US analogue of the WFD, the National Endowment for Democracy.

According to a 2018 WFD posting for a job in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, its country representative is expected to work with the British embassy and must “contribute to development of future business opportunities in Venezuela”.

When asked why it focused on Venezuela, the foundation told Declassified: “WFD programmes have been active in other countries across Latin America. We stand ready to launch new programmes and country offices when the opportunity arises.”

Neutrality 

The WFD says that it “works on a cross-party basis” in Venezuela, “seeking to engage all sides of the political divide while supporting democratic institutions in the country”.

In January 2019, shortly after Guaidó proclaimed himself president, the WFD’s country representative wrote that “last years elections [sic] were a sham and therefore Maduro is an usurper”.

The next month — after trucks of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) attempted to enter Venezuelan territory — he said: “Non-intervention cannot be an absolute principle that doesn’t consider other factors”.

On 30 April, when Guaidó launched an armed coup attempt in Caracas, the WFD’s representative announced that Guaidó’s actions were “not an assault on democracy but the other way round”. Elsewhere, he has described Chavismo — referring to former president Hugo Chávez — as a “plague”.

UK parliamentarians overseeing WFD’s operations have also disparaged the Venezuelan government. Conservative MP Richard Graham, the chair of WFD’s board of governors for the duration of its Venezuela project, said in December 2019 that “Islington Corbynsistas [sic] don’t get that extreme left ideas never work, whether in 2019 Venezuela or 80s Liverpool”.

The WFD’s board is appointed by the UK foreign secretary and is modelled on the NED, which has been described by the Washington Post as the “sugar daddy of overt [US] operations”. Since Chávez’s election in 1998, the NED has been the guiding hand behind a number of efforts to overthrow the government in Venezuela.

While the NED’s operations abroad have received some independent scrutiny, the WFD – has largely operated under media silence.

Matt Kennard is head of investigations at Declassified UK. John McEvoy is an independent journalist who has written for International History Review, The Canary, Tribune Magazine, Jacobin, Revista Forum, and Brasil Wire.

Declassified UK is an investigative journalism organisation that covers the UK’s role in the world. Follow Declassified on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Sign up to receive Declassified’s monthly newsletter here.

January 13, 2021 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela Rejects ICJ Ruling, Reaffirms Claim Over Essequibo Strip

By Ricardo Vaz | Venezuelanalysis | January 8, 2021

Mérida – The Venezuelan government has taken actions to defend its claim over the disputed Essequibo region.

President Nicolas Maduro held a meeting with the country’s National Defense Council and State Council on Thursday to address the territorial dispute between Venezuela and neighboring Guyana.

The Venezuelan government rejects a recent decision by the United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ). On December 18, with a 12-4 majority, the ICJ judges ruled that the court has jurisdiction to settle a claim brought forward by the Guyanese government arguing that the border was established by a controversial 1899 arbitration agreement in which no Venezuelan negotiators were present.

In response, the Maduro government reaffirmed its rejection of the 1899 ruling and its adherence to the UN-brokered Geneva Agreement signed by all parties in 1966 as the only binding international framework.

“This is a cause uniting an entire nation to fight against the dispossession of a territory that always belonged to Venezuela,” the Venezuelan president said in the televised meeting.

Maduro added that the Geneva Agreement stipulates that the border dispute must be settled by direct negotiations between the two countries and that his administration would send a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to defend Caracas’ claim over the Essequibo.

“We believe your good will and efforts are more needed than ever to restart direct talks between Guyana and Venezuela in order to achieve a peaceful and mutually beneficial agreement,” the letter reads.

The Venezuelan government will likewise address a letter to ICJ President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, arguing that the Hague-based court has no jurisdiction to rule on a unilateral Guyanese suit and demanding that Venezuela be allowed to defend its territorial claim. Maduro went on to denounce “suspicious” efforts to rush the hearings, which are set for January 25 after the Caribbean nation allegedly objected to the original January 15 date.

Earlier on Thursday, the newly-seated National Assembly (AN) unanimously approved a nine-point motion rejecting the ICJ ruling and defending the 1966 Geneva Agreement.

The AN document endorsed the government’s diplomatic efforts and the reopening of direct talks with Venezuela’s eastern neighbor. The legislative body also formed a special commission, headed by lawyer Hermann Escarra, to focus on the Essequibo claim.

The diplomatic quarrel over the 160,000 square kilometer, sparsely populated strip of land, which was taken by the British colonial regime in the late 19th century, recently came to the fore following the discovery of an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil in the Essequibo’s maritime waters.

Caracas has repeatedly voiced its opposition to Guyana’s decision to allow US multinational Exxon Mobil to drill in the disputed area, claiming that it violates the 1966 accords. For its part, Washington has backed Georgetown’s claim to the strip and pledged to execute joint military drills.

January 9, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Who To Believe About Venezuela’s Election? Firsthand Observation or PBS Newshour?

By Rick Sterling | Venezuelanalysis | January 5, 2021

In early December I traveled to Venezuela to be an election observer at their national assembly election. I was part of a group of eight persons from Canada and US organized by CodePink. There were about two hundred international observers in total, including the Latin American Council of Electoral Experts. I have previously been an official election observer in Honduras and was an unofficial observer at the 2015 Venezuela national assembly election.

Meeting Opposition Leaders

Before the election, our small group met eight leaders of the Democratic Alliance. This is the major opposition coalition. Pedro Jose Rojas of Accion Democratica said the US sanctions are not doing what is claimed; they are hurting average citizens. Bruno Gallo of Avanca Progressista said Venezuela needs negotiation not confrontation. Juan Carlos Alvarado of the Christian Democratic Party said Venezuelans have been “victims of politics” and that dialogue and flexibility are needed. Several leaders spoke about the importance of the national assembly and the road to change is through voting not violence. Several leaders expressed the wish for better relations with the US; another one said Venezuelan sovereignty needs to be respected. The common request was to end US sanctions and interference in Venezuelan politics.

We visited the factory where voting machines were assembled, tested and certified. The staff was openly proud of their work. In March this year, nearly all the pre-existing voting computers were destroyed in a massive fire at the main election warehouse. There were calls to delay the December election. But in six months, forty thousand new computers were ordered, built, assembled, tested and certified for the December election.

The Election Process

On election day, Sunday December 6, we visited many different elections sites. Typically, the election voting takes place at a school, with five or ten classrooms designated as “mesas”. Each voter goes to his or her designated classroom / “mesa”.

The voting process was quick and efficient, with bio-safety sanitation at each step. The first step is to show your identity card and prove your identity with fingerprint recognition. Step 2 was to make your voting choices at the touchscreen computer and receive a paper receipt. Step 3 is to verify the receipt matches your voting choice and deposit the receipt in a ballot box. The fourth and final step is to sign and put your fingerprint on the voting registry. The entire voting process took about 3 minutes.

At the end of the voting day, we observed the process of tabulating the votes. At each “mesa”, with observers from other parties present, the paper receipts were recorded one by one. At the end, the results were compared to the digital count. Voting results were then transmitted to the headquarters for overall tabulation.

Election results were announced by the Council for National Election (CNE) which manages the entire process. CNE leaders are not permitted to be members of any party and the CNE leadership was recently changed at the request of the opposition. In our discussion with leading opposition members, they complained about incumbent party advantages but acknowledged the election process is free, fair and honest.

PBS Newshour Special

With this firsthand experience, on December 29 I watched a PBS Newshour segment about the Venezuela election and overall situation. PBS reporter Marcia Biggs said, “Maduro’s party essentially ran unopposed in this month’s election.” As noted above, this is untrue.

In fact, there were 107 parties and over 14,000 individuals competing in the December 6 election for 277 national assembly seats. While 8 parties were in alliance with the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), there were over 90 opposition parties. The strongest opposition coalition was the Democratic Alliance comprising 7 opposition parties. The Democratic Alliance won 1.1 million votes or 18% of the vote. The LEFT opposition to the PSUV, under the banner of the Communist Party of Venezuela, received 168 thousand votes.

Reporter Marcia Biggs claimed that “politics permeates everything in Venezuela and can determine whether you support Maduro and eat or go hungry.” This claim is based on a campaign statement by PSUV Vice President Diosdado Cabello encouraging people to vote. He jokingly said that women are in the forefront and can say to their family, “No vote, no food.” Video of him making the statement is here. This statement has been distorted out of all meaning and context.

The PBS story showed a fistfight in the national assembly, implying that it was the Venezuelan government. But, as reported in the “Juan Guaido surreal regime change reality show”, the fight was between competing factions of the Venezuelan opposition.

When they showed Juan Guaido climbing over a fence, that was a publicity stunt to distract from the important news that Luis Parra was elected Speaker of the national assembly one year ago. That was embarrassing because Guaido’s claim to be “interim president” was based on his being Speaker.

Election turnout was lower than usual at 31% but one needs to account for the election taking place despite covid19 with no mail-in voting. Also, millions of registered voters have had to leave the country due to economic hardship. Also, transportation is difficult due to gasoline scarcity. This was a national assembly election, equivalent to a US mid-term election, which gets lower turnout. Note that 95% of voting eligible Venezuelans are registered voters compared to just 67% in the USA. Thus a turnout of 50% registered voters in the US equates to 33% of eligible voters.

US Meddling in Venezuela

The star of the 7-minute PBS story is Roberto Patino, the Venezuelan director of a food distribution charity. The report neglects to mention that Patino is associated with a major US foreign policy institution. He is a Millennium Leadership fellow and “expert” at the neoliberal Atlantic Council where the “regime change” goals against Venezuela are clear. His food charity “Alimenta la Solidaridad” is allied with the “Rescue Venezuela” funded by the US with the apparent goal of undermining the Venezuelan government and promoting “interim president Juan Guaido”.

Roberto Patino says the Venezuelan government is “very paranoid and they see conspiracies all over.” Paranoia is a mental condition where there is fear of imaginary threats. But US threats and aggression against Venezuela are not imaginary; they are very real:

In 2002 the US supported the kidnapping and coup against the popular and elected President Hugo Chavez. The years have gone by but US hostility persists.

Based on the past twenty years, Venezuela’s government has good reason to be on guard against US threats, meddling and intervention. The PBS program ignores this history.

Another hero of the show is the exiled politician Leopoldo Lopez. He was imprisoned in 2014 for instigating street violence known as “guarimbas” which led to the deaths of 43 people.

Like Patino, Lopez is from the Venezuelan elite, studied in the US and has major public relations support in the US. Like Guaido, Leopoldo Lopez is more popular in Washington than his home country.

Will the US respect Venezuelan sovereignty?

If the PBS Newshour reporters had not been so biased, they would have interviewed members of the moderate opposition in Venezuela. Viewers could have heard Democratic Alliance leaders explain why they participated in the election, why they are critical of US economic sanctions and US interference in their domestic affairs. That would have been educational for viewers.

On January 5, the newly elected national assembly will commence in Venezuela. The fig leaf pretense of Juan Guaido as “interim president” of Venezuela will be removed because he is no longer in the national assembly. In fact, he was removed as speaker of the national assembly one year ago.

But viewers of the PBS special did not learn this. Instead, they received a biased report ignoring the moderate opposition and promoting a few US supported elites. The report ignores or denigrates the efforts of millions of Venezuelans who carried out and participated in an election which compares favorably with the election process in the US. You would never know it from PBS, and you might not believe it, unless you saw it with your own eyes.

Rick Sterling is an investigate journalist based in the SF Bay Area of California. He can be contacted at rsterling1@protonmail.com.

January 5, 2021 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 6 Comments

Former Presidential Candidate Capriles Calls on US to End ‘Interim Presidency’

By Ricardo Vaz – Venezuelanalysis – December 11, 2020

Mérida – Former two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles has demanded a change of strategy for the Venezuelan opposition.

In an interview with the BBC, Capriles argued for a “reconstruction” of the opposition following last Sunday’s government victory in National Assembly (AN) elections. He claimed that the current plan led by US-backed Juan Guaido is “finished” and stressed that Washington’s stance will be “crucial.”

“The new [Prospective] administration has to understand that this plan has run its course and it cannot keep the status quo: the [Guaido] ‘interim presidency’,” Capriles said, adding that the opposition could “disappear as an alternative” if there is no change of course.

The December 6 elections delivered an overwhelming parliamentary majority for the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) and allies for the 2021-2025 term, but turnout stood only at 30.5 percent of the electoral roll after mainstream opposition parties boycotted the vote. The results were endorsed by an international observation mission.

Capriles, who served two terms as Miranda State governor, argued that the low turnout reflected the Venezuelan population’s “weariness” towards politicians and claimed the international community would not see the process as “legitimate.”

The veteran leader and allied figures had previously caused a rift within the opposition when they held talks with international brokers with a view towards taking part in the elections, but ultimately decided against it. However, the Justice First party founder insisted on the need to “align” the international community towards an “electoral calendar” featuring both presidential and parliamentary contests.

The former presidential candidate also voiced severe criticisms at former AN President Juan Guaido, though stressing it was “nothing personal.”

“When Guaido was the main figure, I backed him, but we can’t turn a blind eye to mistakes. Attempting to overthrow the government from the Altamira overpass, please!” he said in reference to the April 30, 2019 failed military putsch.

Opposition lawmaker Guaido proclaimed himself “interim president” in January 2019 and led several attempts to oust the government by force. In May 2020 he was alleged to have backed a failed paramilitary incursion featuring US mercenaries. His popularity and standing within the anti-government forces quickly eroded following a string of scandals.

Guaido and his associates rejected the recent parliamentary elections and vowed to “extend” the term of the outgoing National Assembly, with the newly elected one constitutionally mandated to take office on January 5, 2021.

The hardline opposition sectors have instead organized a “popular consultation,” asking backers whether they reject the recent elections, demanding an end to President Maduro’s “usurpation” and calling for action from the international community to oust the government.

The consultation has taken place via digital apps such as Telegram, with an in-person component scheduled for Saturday. Nevertheless, no details on audits or oversight surrounding the process have been detailed, while social media users have shown it is possible to vote from abroad or using Venezuelan identity cards found online.

December 12, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Venezuelan Government Denounces ‘Terrorist Attack’ Against Refinery

By Manuela Solé | Venezuelanalysis | October 29, 2020

Mérida – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro condemned a ‘terrorist attack’ against the country’s largest refinery.

During an international press conference in Miraflores Palace on Wednesday, Maduro detailed that “high potency weaponry” was used to blow up a tower in the Amuay refinery, in Falcon State, the day before.

He added that Venezuela faces permanent plots against its refineries and infrastructure “backed, financed and promoted by the US government.”

On Thursday, Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami reported that preliminary findings pointed towards a missile fired from a drone or a ship. He added that a commission was set up to further investigate.

“Investigations have determined a very strong explosion caused by a missile. We are investigating the source of this terrorist attack,” he told reporters. El Aissami denounced repeated attacks against the oil industry as well as electricity infrastructure in Falcon State.

Although the explosion caused no injuries it means yet another setback to the distillation unit which is currently inactive whilst workers try to restart output. Preliminary reports revealed that the exploded tower may be unrecoverable and may have to be completely rebuilt.

Amuay has a 645,000 barrel per day (bpd) processing capacity, and together with the 310,000 bpd Cardon refinery forms the Paraguana Refining Complex, the second largest in the world.

The South American nation has faced severe gasoline shortages in recent months and been forced to import fuel from Iran. With sanctions heavily affecting Venezuela’s oil sector, Tehran has also assisted Caracas in reactivating the refining industry. The El Palito and Cardon refineries have been working intermittently in recent months, with technical problems forcing repeated stoppages.

The Venezuelan president also informed that on October 26 two foreign men were apprehended in Zulia state. He claimed that they had links to “extremist groups” and “planned to kill leaders of the Bolivarian Revolution.” No further details, including their names, were revealed..

Maduro likewise recalled that in September Venezuelan security forces arrested Matthew John Heath, a former US marine, near the Paraguana Refining Complex, Heath and three Venezuelan men were captured with weapons and large amounts of US dollars.

Edited and with additional reporting by Ricardo Vaz from Merida.

October 30, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | | 1 Comment

Maduro Accuses Facebook of Censoring Publications on COVID-19 Medicine

Sputnik – 30.10.2020

CARACAS – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has criticised Facebook for censoring several publications concerning the DR10 molecule which, according to Venezuelan scientists, eliminates the effects of COVID-19.

“I want to say that today (29 October) my account was censored on Facebook, they deleted three publications from my Facebook account, they deleted the complete transmission of Sunday’s programme where I scientifically explained this step that Venezuela has taken and two more publications about DR10”, Maduro said in a statement published by the channel Venezuela de Television.

According to Venezuelan Minister of Sciences and Technologies Gabriela Jimenez, the molecule DR10 was isolated from a medicinal plant that eliminates the COVID-19 virus with 100 percent efficacy without affecting healthy cells. This molecule can be used to produce medicines that will help to combat the coronavirus infection.

Earlier in October, the Venezuelan government reported that they had presented their research to both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).

The government also expressed its intention to produce the medicine in collaboration with such countries as China, Cuba, Russia, and India after approval from the WHO. The drug is seen by authorities as a potentially complementary medicine to treat diseases caused by COVID-19.

Venezuela has registered over 90,000 positive cases since the beginning of the pandemic. More than 85,000 patients have recovered and 789 people have died from the virus in the Latin American nation.

October 30, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

Maduro Says Venezuela Found 100% Effective Medicine Against COVID-19

Sputnik – 26.10.2020

CARACAS – The Venezuelan Scientific Research Institute (IVIC) discovered a medicine that contains molecule DR10 to combat COVID-19, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said on national channel Venezolana de Television, stating that the medicine can eliminate 100 percent of the coronavirus infection.

“Venezuela has created a medicine that eliminates 100 percent of the coronavirus, as the six-month studies by the Venezuelan Scientific Research Institute have demonstrated, and this study has been consequently certified by the experts,” Maduro said on Sunday.

Maduro added that the molecule that eliminates COVID-19 is DR10, which is already used in the treatment of such diseases as hepatitis C, Ebola and human papilloma.

Maduro hopes that the World Health Organisation (WHO) will ratify the results obtained by the IVIC and Venezuela will be able to prepare the mass production of this molecule as a cure for COVID-19 and provide it worldwide with the necessary international collaboration.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Venezuela has registered 89,565 positive cases, including 83,947 patients who have recovered and 773 people who died.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment