Category Archives: Latin America

US-Orchestrated Coup Attempt in Ecuador

By Stephen Lendman
July 07, 2015
Global Research

 

correaWashington wants all independent governments toppled – regime change by US-orchestrated color revolutions, coups or naked aggression.

Ecuador is in the eye of the storm. Obama’s earlier 2010 attempt to forcibly unseat popular President Rafael Correa failed.

He’s trying again. Ecuadorean democracy is being attacked. Since early June, US-orchestrated right-wing protests (mainly in Quito and Guayaquil) erupted. They continue at times violently to replace Correa with fascist rule.

They began on the pretext of announced higher inheritance and capital gains taxes affecting about 2% of the population – the Law to Redistribute the Wealth now being debated after Correa halted its implementation to make rich Ecuadorians pay more along with creating more social enterprises, collectives and cooperatives.

Protest leaders want Correa forcibly ousted. Interior Minister Jose Serrano revealed a plot to storm the presidential palace, block airports and bridges on the Colombian and Peruvian borders, as well as attack security forces.

Serrano said opposition lawmakers Andres Paez and Lourdes Tiban conspired with former Col. Mario Pazmino to instigate violence and chaos during protests.

Pazmino was former army military intelligence head – “very close to the CIA,” according to Correa. In 2008, he was sacked for colluding with Colombia’s bombing of Ecuador.

The coup plotters’ plan involved advancing from north and south to converge around Quito’s presidential palace – intending to occupy it forcibly.

They planned to use pointed sticks to break police shields, throw balloons filled with paint for police to lose visibility, pepper-spray police horses and dogs” to scare and scatter them, Serrano explained.

They intended publishing letters in two national newspapers – El Universo and La Hora – as well as anti-government letters to Pope Francis to undermine his forthcoming visit, an American tour beginning in Ecuador on July 5 followed by Bolivia, Paraguay, Cuba and the United States.

Serrano said “if they were not able to seize power, (they) would have created national chaos” to force Pope Francis to cancel his visit, as well as “maintain…indefinite protest(s).

Correa commented on “clear evidence of a plot meant to take over the (presidential) palace. They want to defeat violently a government internationally and domestically supported,” he explained.

They’ll be defeated like September 30, 2010 plotters (called 30S) “peacefully but firmly,” Correa said. “We are more, many more,” he stressed.

On Thursday, violent clashes erupted. Right-wing extremists attacked Ecuadorean police near Quito’s presidential palace. Their plan to breach their lines failed. Four officers sustained injuries.

Journalists were attacked. Culture Minister Guillaume Long said “(t)oday we are facing (a) real threat of destabilization. It is fundamental (for) the people of Ecuador to come here and (defend) democracy. We’re not going to allow more coups.”

Thousands of Correa supporters rallied Thursday night to defend their government in Quito’s Independence Plaza, its main square (the Carondolet).

Correa addressed them saying “(w)e are ready to defend the revolution against coup plotters. We will remain firm in defending the revolution against the ultra-right.”

“(M)obilizations to tire us out…to prevent us from governing (won’t) work. We are willing to defend our history and our citizen’s revolution. Here we have democracy. Here the majority rule and the past will never return.”

Washington wants Correa’s government replaced by a regime it controls, neo-colonial rule most Ecuadoreans oppose – following the pattern of earlier failed Venezuelan protests.

So far, popular support for Correa prevails. At the same time, dark forces headquartered in Washington never end their dirty game for unchallenged global dominance – a plot to create unfit to live in ruler-serf societies worldwide.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

US Human Experimentation on Poor Guatemalans in Post-War Period

By Robert Barsocchini
June 16, 2015
Washington’s Blog

 

d1e48-american-decline-statue-of-libertyProlific author and researcher David Swanson wrote today about how the US has always been a regular contributor to involuntary experimentation on humans, through various means.

Human experimentation, while a pretty poor representation of US public values or public values anywhere, is a good representation of US plutocratic values, and plutocratic values in many places, which is why it has been carried out repeatedly by US elites, against poor people around the world, over a period of many generations, continuing (and see Swanson) today under Obama.

Since the US human experimentation on poor Guatemalans (mentioned by Swanson) was only discovered, by mistake, in 2005, here is a quick overview of the unpunished crime:

The syphilis experiments in Guatemala were United States-led human experiments conducted in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948, during the administration of President Truman and President Juan José Arévalo with the cooperation of some Guatemalan health ministries and officials.[1] Doctors infected soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases, without the informed consent of the subjects, and treated most subjects with antibiotics. This resulted in at least 83 deaths.[2] In October 2010, the U.S. formally apologized to Guatemala for conducting these experiments.

The experiments [in part] involved young orphan girls sourced from a Catholic charity as victims. The nature of some experiments would have involved labial penetration of a child.[7] Details on one death from the experiments read:

US doctors infected a woman named Berta, a patient at the psychiatric hospital, with syphilis, but did not treat her for three months. Her health worsened, and within another three months Cutler reported that she seemed close to death. He re-infected Berta with syphilis, and inserted pus from someone with gonorrhoea into her eyes [recalling infamous treatment of experimentation subjects by Nazis around the same time], urethra and rectum. Over several days, pus developed in Berta’s eyes, she started bleeding from her urethra and then she died.

The experiments were funded by a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the Pan American Sanitary Bureau and involved multiple Guatemalan government ministries.[1] A total of about 1500 study subjects were involved although the findings were never published.

The researchers paid prostitutes infected with syphilis to have sex with prisoners and some subjects were infected by directly inoculating them with the bacterium.

This study is related to US experimentation conducted on African Americans.

The Obama regime issued a formal apology for the experimentation on Guatemalans, and acknowledged that human experimentation is a “crime against humanity”.

However, Obama gives protection to Bush regime and other US perpetrators of the crime against humanity of human experimentation, and continues to commit it himself, negating his “apology” and revealing it to be propaganda, as is to be expected from such a figure.

Illustrating that this kind of propaganda is part of a long US tradition, The Guardian points out that ” the Guatemalan syphilis study was being carried out just as the ‘Doctors’ Trial’ was unfolding at Nuremberg”, where 23 German physicians were tried by the US for experimenting on prisoners.

@_DirtyTruths

Yankee Imperialism in Panama

By Stephen Lendman
April 13, 2015
Global Research, April 12, 2015

 

imperialism_usaOn Saturday, the 7th annual Summit of the Americas concluded in Panama – a longtime US colony. Cuba participated for the first time since the inaugural 1994 event in Miami.

Obama met Cuba’s President Raul Castro – the first meeting between a US president and Cuban leader since the 1950s. More on this below.

Obama wants Washington’s regional imperial grip tightened – unchallenged like since the early 19th century.

Hugo Chavez once said “the American empire is doing all it can to consolidate its system of domination.”

“(W)e cannot allow them to do that. We cannot allow world dictatorship…”

“What type of democracy do you impose with marines and bombs?”

America “doesn’t want peace. It wants to (expand) its system of exploitation, of pillage, of hegemony (worldwide) through war.”

On Friday, thousands of Venezuelans officially presented up to 11 million anti-imperial signatures – collected through a petition denouncing Obama declaring Venezuela an “extraordinary threat (to US) national security and imposing illegal sanctions on its targeted officials.

President Nicolas Maduro called the petition proof of “the history of the people of Simon Bolivar…evoked, and it remains awake and alert.”

“Venezuela is not alone,” he stressed. He presented the petition symbolically to Summit of the America’s participants. He intends sending it to Washington through diplomatic channels.

World leaders cannot “remain silent” about Washington’s treatment of Venezuela, he stressed.

This weekend was the first time all 35 regional presidents attended a Summit of the Americas.

The Havana Times hailed the “historic (Obama/R. Castro) handshake” – explaining profound differences between both countries remain.

Obama insulted Cuba. He met privately with Manuel Cuesta Morua and Laritza Diversen – dissidents Havana calls US-sponsored anti-government “mercenaries.”

A day before Summit of America leaders convened, about 2,000 activists participated in an alternative event in Panama – stressing solidarity against Washington’s longstanding regional imperial grip.

Last December, Obama lied saying Washington “is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba.”

Call it business as usual wrapped in smiles and handshakes. US imperial policy remains unchanged – in Latin America, the Caribbean and worldwide.

Washington alone supports boycotting Cuba. Over half a century of sanctions are illegal.

They have no legitimacy whatever. US policy makers use them with disturbing regularity.

So-called softening US/Cuban relations comes at the same time Congress passed the 2014 Venezuela Defense of Human and Civil Society Act – by voice vote in both houses unanimously.

It imposed illegitimate sanctions on Venezuelan officials. Obama added more unilaterally when he outrageously declared Venezuela a threat to US national security.

It represents the threat of a good example only – one vitally needed worldwide against America’s imperial agenda.

It includes endless wars of conquest and domination, subjugating millions wanting to live free.

In demonizing Venezuela, the world’s leading human rights abuser targeted one of its staunchest defenders.

Longstanding US policy targets all independent nations with regime change.

Thaw in US/Cuban relations appears more mirage than real. Washington wants unchallenged control over its former client state.

Reestablishing diplomatic relations opens Cuba to greater than ever infestation of CIA and other hostile US elements.

The State Department funded National Endowment of Democracy (NED) and other US imperial organizations already support anti-Cuban groups wanting regime change by any means possible.

Obama’s so-called outreach changes nothing. In retirement, 88-year-old Fidel Castro is the world’s preeminent elder statesman.

Last year he said “(g)lobal society has known no peace in recent years.”

Longstanding US imperial policy threatens Cuba “militarily.” It’s brazenly dishonest.

It serves monied interests exclusively. Rule of law principles and democratic rights are verboten.

Obama lied claiming Washington intends “develop(ing) a new relationship” with Cuba.

Why Cuba? Why now? Why at the same time he was caught red-handed plotting coup d’etat in Venezuela?

Why when US/Russian relations are worse than any time during the Cold War – when open conflict between both countries is possible?

Why when America’s homeland police state apparatus targets outspoken anti-war/human rights activists repressively?

Why when Obama is systematically raping Yemen? When he straightaway breached agreed on Iran nuclear program framework terms ahead of a final deal?

Why when nothing indicates a change in longstanding US policy – endless wars for unchallenged global dominance?

Conflicts giving Western corporate predators license to plunder subjugated nations and exploit their people ruthlessly.

A final declaration didn’t follow conclusion of this year’s Summit of the Americas.

Washington and Ottawa opposed including references to strengthening collective rights.

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said “no agreement (was reached) on several points, and as a result this summit will not have a final document.”

He called US and Canadian intransigence a “shame.” They opposed inclusion of clauses all other 33 countries supported.

They irresponsibly asserted their imperial arrogance. They demand their rights override all others.

“We oppose the interference of foreign countries in the internal affairs of other countries,” Timerman stressed.

Obama and Maduro met one-on-one at the summit. “We told each other the truth,” Maduro said.

Every regional country opposes US policy toward Venezuela. “We are in an era of new history,” Maduro told summit participants.

US policy is out-of-step, out-of-date and hardline. Nothing indicates positive change.

Longstanding Yankee imperial business as usual continues. Endless wars on humanity remain official US policy.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Obama’s War in the Western Hemisphere and Venezuela’s National Liberation Struggle

By Prof. James Petras
March 16, 2015
Global Research

 

Obama_civil_libertiesWhy did Obama declare a ‘national emergency’, claim that Venezuela represents a threat to US national security and foreign policy, assume executive prerogatives and decree sanctions against top Venezuelan officials in charge of national security, at this time?

Venezuela’s Support of Latin America Integration is Obama’s Great Fear

To answer this question it is essential to begin by addressing Obama’s specious and unsubstantiated charges of a Venezuelan ‘threat to national security and foreign policy’.

First, the White House presents no evidence . . . because there is nothing to present!  There are no Venezuelan missiles, fighter planes, warships, Special Forces, secret agents or military bases poised to attack US domestic facilities or its overseas installations.

In contrast, the US has warships in the Caribbean, seven military bases just across the border in Colombia manned by over two thousand US Special Forces, and Air Force bases in Central America.   Washington has financed proxy political and military operations intervening in Venezuela with intent of overthrowing the legally constituted and elected government.

Obama’s claims resemble a ploy that totalitarian and imperialist rulers frequently use: Accusing their imminent victims of the crimes they are preparing to perpetrate against them.  No country or leader, friend or foe, has supported Obama’s accusations against Venezuela.

Obama’s charge that Venezuela represents a ‘threat’ to US foreign policy requires clarification:  First, which elements of US foreign policy are threatened?  Venezuela has successfully proposed and supported several regional integration organizations, which are voluntarily supported by their fellow Latin American and Caribbean members.  These regional organizations, in large part,replace US-dominated structures, which served Washington’s imperial interests.  In other words, Venezuela supports alternative diplomatic and economic organizations, which its members believe will better serve their economic and political interests, than those promoted by the Obama regime.  Petrocaribe, a Central American and Caribbean association of countries supported by Venezuela, addresses the development needs of their members better than US-dominated organizations like the Organization of American States or the so-called ‘Caribbean Initiative’.  The same is true of Venezuela’s support of CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) and UNASUR (Union of South American Nations).  These are Latin American organizations which exclude the dominating presence of the US and Canada and are designed to promote greater regional independence.

Obama’s charge that Venezuela represents a threat to US foreign policy is an accusation directed at all governments who have freely chosen to abandon US-centered organizations and who reject US hegemony.

In other words, what arouses Obama’s ire and motivates his aggressive threats toward Venezuela is Caracas’s political leadership in challenging US imperialist foreign policy.

Venezuela does not have military bases in the rest of Latin America nor has it invaded, occupied or sponsored military coups in other Latin American countries – as Obama and his predecessors have done.

Venezuela condemned the US invasion of Haiti, the US-supported military coups in Honduras (2009), Venezuela (2002, 2014, 2015), Bolivia (2008) and Ecuador (2010).

Clearly, Obama’s ‘emergency’ decree and sanctions against Venezuela are directed at maintaining unchallenged US imperial supremacy in Latin America and degrading Venezuela’s independent, democratic foreign policy.

To properly understand Obama’s policy toward Venezuela, we have to analyze why he has chosen overt, unilateral bellicose threats at this time?

Obama’s War Threat Results from Political Failure

The principal reasons why Obama has directly intervened in Venezuelan politics is that his other policy options designed to oust the Maduro government have failed.

In 2013, Obama’s relied on US financing of an opposition presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles, to oust the incumbent Chavista government. President Maduro defeated Obama’s choice and derailed Washington’s ‘via electoral’ to regime change.

Subsequently, Obama attempted to boycott and discredit the Venezuelan voting process via an international smear campaign.  The White House boycott lasted 6 months and received no support in Latin America, or from the European Union, since scores of international election observers, ranging from former President James Carter to representatives of the Organization of American States certified the outcome.

In 2014, the Obama regime backed violent large-scale riots, which left 43 persons dead and scores wounded, (most victims were pro-government civilians and law enforcement officers) and millions of dollars in damages to public and private property, including power plants and clinics.  Scores of vandals and rightwing terrorists were arrested, including Harvard-educated terrorist Leopoldo Lopez.  However, the Maduro government released most of the saboteurs in a gesture of reconciliation.

Obama, on his part, escalated the terror campaign of internal violence.  He recycled his operatives and, in February 2015, backed a new coup. Several US embassy personnel (the US had at least 100 stationed in their embassy), turned out to be intelligence operatives using diplomatic cover to infiltrate and recruit a dozen Venezuelan military officials to plot the overthrow of the elected government and assassinate President Maduro by bombing the presidential palace.

President Maduro and his national security team discovered the coup plot and arrested both the military and political leaders, including the Mayor of Caracas.

Obama, now furious for having lost major internal assets and proxies, turned to his last resort:  the threat of a direct USmilitary intervention.

The Multiple Purposes of Obama’s ‘National Emergency’

Obama’s declaration of a national security emergency has psychological, political and military objectives.  His bellicose posture was designed to bolster the spirit of his jailed and demoralized operatives and let them know that they still have US support.  To that end, Obama demanded that President Maduro free the terrorist leaders.  Washington’s sanctions were primarily directed against the Venezuelan security officials who upheld the constitution and arrested Obama’s hired thugs.  The terrorists in their prison cells can console themselves with the thought that, while they serve ‘hard time’ for being US shock troops and puppets, their prosecutors will be denied visas by President Obama and can no longer visit Disney Land or shop in Miami…  Such are the consequences of the current US ‘sanctions’ in the eyes of a highly critical Latin America.

The second goal of Obama’s threat is to test the response of the Venezuelan and Latin American governments.  The Pentagon and CIA seek to gauge how Venezuela’s military, intelligence and civilian leaders will deal with this new challenge in order to identify the weak links in the chain of command, i.e. those officials who will run for cover, cower or seek to conciliate, by giving in to Obama’s demands.

It should be remembered that during the US-backed April 2002 coup, many self-styled ‘Chavista revolutionaries’ went into hiding, some holing up in embassies.  In addition, several military officials defected and a dozen politicians curried favor with the coup leaders, until the tide turned and over a million ordinary Venezuelans, including slum dwellers, marched to surround the Presidential Palace and, with the backing of loyalist paratroopers, ousted the golpistas (coup-makers) and freed their President Chavez.  Only then did the fair-weather Chavistas come out from under their beds to celebrate the restoration of Hugo Chavez and the return of democracy.

In other words, Obama’s bellicose posture is part of a ‘war of nerves’, to test the resistance, determination and loyalty of the government officials, when their positions are threatened, US bank accounts are frozen, their visas denied and access to ‘Disney Land’ cut.

Obama is putting the Venezuelan government on notice:  a warning this time, an invasion next time.

The White House’s openly thuggish rhetoric is also intended to test the degree of opposition in Latin America – and thekind of support Washington can expect in Latin America and elsewhere.

And Cuba responded forcefully with unconditional support for Venezuela.  Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Argentina repudiated Obama’s imperial threats.  The European Union did not adopt the US sanctions although the European Parliament did echo Obama’s demand to free the jailed terrorists. Initially Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and Mexico neither backed the US nor the Venezuelan government. The Uruguayan Vice President Raul Sendic was the only official in Latin America to deny US intervention. However, on March 16 at an emergency meeting of UNASUR in Quito Ecuador, the foreign ministers of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela unanimously denounced US sanctions and military intervention

President Maduro Stands Firm:  They Shall Not Pass

Most important, President Maduro stood firm.  He declared a national emergency and asked for special powers. He called for 2 weeks of nationwide military exercises involving 100,000 soldiers beginning March 14.  He made it clear to the Pentagon and the White House that a US invasion would meet resistance. That confronting  millions of Venezuelan freedom fighters would not be a ‘cake walk’ – that there would be US casualties, body bags and new US widows and orphans to mourn Obama’s imperial schemes.

Conclusion

Obama is neither preparing an immediate invasion nor giving up on ‘regime change’ because his coup operatives failed in two consecutive years.  His militarist posture is designed to polarize Latin America:  to divide and weaken the regional organizations; to separate the so-called ‘moderates’ in Mercosur (Brazil/Uruguay/Paraguay) from Venezuela and Argentina.  Despite his failures thus far, Obama will press ahead to activate opposition to Venezuelan security policies among the Chilean, Peruvian, Mexican, and Colombian neo-liberal regimes.

Washington is building pressure externally and preparing for a new round of violent unrest internally to provoke a robust government response.

In other words – Obama’s military invasion will follow the well-rehearsed scenario of ‘humanitarian intervention’ orchestrated in Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria – with such disastrous consequences on the people of those countries. Obama, at this time, lacks international political support from Europe and Latin America that would provide the fig leaf of a multilateral coalitionand has lost his key internal operatives.  He cannot risk a bloody unilateral US invasion and prolonged war in the immediate future.

However, he is inexorably moving in that direction. Obama has seized executive prerogatives to attack Venezuela.  He has alerted and mobilized US combat forces in the region.  He understands that his current teams of operatives in Venezuela have demonstrated that they are incapable of winning elections or seizing power without major US military backing.  Obama is now engaged in a psychological as well as physical war of nerves:  to run down the Venezuelan economy, to intimidate the faint-hearted, and exhaust and weaken the militants through constant threats and widening sanctions over time.

The Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro has accepted the challenge.  He is mobilizing the people and the armed forces: his democratically elected regime will not surrender.  The national resistance will be fighting in their own country for their own future.  They will be fighting an invading imperial power.  They represent millions, and they have a ‘world to lose’ if the ‘squalidos’ (the domestic fifth column) should ever take power:  if not their lives, their livelihoods, their dignity and their legacy as a free and independent people.

Epilogue

President Maduro has sought and secured Russian military support and solidarity in the form of arms, advisors and an agreement to engage in joint military maneuvers to meet the challenges of Obama’s war of attrition…President Putin has addressed a public letter of support to the Venezuelan  government in response to Obama’s threats.

Obama is engaged in a two-pronged economic and military strategy, which will converge with a US military invasion.

The overt military threats issued in early March 2015 are designed to force the Maduro government to divert large-scale financial resources away from meeting the economic crisis to building emergency military defense.  Through escalating military and economic threats, the White House hopes to diminish government subsidies for the import of basic foodstuffs and other essential commodities during an internal campaign of hoarding and artificial shortages committed by economic saboteurs.  Obama is counting on his Venezuelan proxies and the local and international mass media to blame the government for the economic deterioration and to mobilize the big protests of irate consumers. White House strategists hope a massive crowd will serve as a cover for terrorists and snipers to engage in violent acts against public authorities, provoking the police and armed forces to respond in a re-play of the ‘coup’ in Kiev.  At that point, Washington will seek to secure some form of support from Europe or Latin America (via the OAS) to intervene with troops in what the State Department will dub as ‘peace mediators in a humanitarian crisis’.

The success of sending in the US Marines into Venezuela on a peace mission will depend on how effective Special Forces and Pentagon operatives in the US Embassy have been in securing reliable collaborators among the Venezuelan military and political forces ready to betray their country. Once the collaborators seize a piece of territory, Obama can mount the charade that US Marines are there by invitation…of the democratic forces…

Under conditions of explicit military threat, Maduro must change ‘the rules of the game’.  Under emergency conditions hoarding is no longer just a misdemeanor:  it becomes a capital crime.  Politicians meeting and consulting with representatives of the invading country should lose their immunity and be summarily jailed.  Above all, the government must take total control over the distribution of basic goods; establishing rationing to ensure popular access; nursing scarce financial resources by limiting or imposing a moratorium on debt payments; diminishing or selling assets in the US (CITCO) to avoid confiscation or their being made illiquid (“frozen”) by some new Obama decree.  On the external front, Venezuela must deepen military and economic ties with its neighbors and independent nations to withstand the US military and economic offensive.  If Obama escalates the military measures against Venezuela, the parliamentary elections scheduled for September should be temporarily suspended until normality is re-established.

How ‘Free Markets’ Defame ‘Democracy’: US Foreign Policy in Ukraine and Venezuela

By Robert Parry
March 14, 2015
Consortium News March 12, 2015

 

Usa_Venezuela_UkraineThe one common thread in modern U.S. foreign policy is an insistence on “free market” solutions to the world’s problems. That is, unless you’re lucky enough to live in a First World ally of the United States or your country is too big to bully.

So, if you’re in France or Canada or – for that matter – China, you can have generous health and educational services and build a modern infrastructure. But if you’re a Third World country or otherwise vulnerable – like, say, Ukraine or Venezuela – Official Washington insists that you shred your social safety net and give free reign to private investors.

If you’re good and accept this “free market” domination, you become, by the U.S. definition, a “democracy” – even if doing so goes against the wishes of most of your citizens. In other words, it doesn’t matter what most voters want; they must accept the “magic of the market” to be deemed a “democracy.”

Thus, in today’s U.S. parlance, “democracy” has come to mean almost the opposite of what it classically meant. Rather than rule by a majority of the people, you have rule by “the market,” which usually translates into rule by local oligarchs, rich foreigners and global banks.

Governments that don’t follow these rules – by instead shaping their societies to address the needs of average citizens – are deemed “not free,” thus making them targets of U.S.-funded “non-governmental organizations,” which train activists, pay journalists and coordinate business groups to organize an opposition to get rid of these “un-democratic” governments.

If a leader seeks to defend his or her nation’s sovereignty by such means as requiring these NGOs to register as “foreign agents,” the offending government is accused of violating “human rights” and becomes a candidate for more aggressive “regime change.”

Currently, one of the big U.S. complaints against Russia is that it requires foreign-funded NGOs that seek to influence policy decisions to register as “foreign agents.” The New York Times and other Western publications have cited this 2012 law as proof that Russia has become a dictatorship, while ignoring the fact that the Russians modeled their legislation after a U.S. law known as the “Foreign Agent Registration Act.”

So, it’s okay for the U.S. to label people who are paid by foreign entities to influence U.S. policies as “foreign agents” – and to imprison people who fail to register – but not for Russia to do the same. A number of these NGOs in Russia and elsewhere also are not “independent” entities but instead are financed by the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

There is even a circular element to this U.S. complaint. Leading the denunciation of Russia and other governments that restrain these U.S.-financed NGOs is Freedom House, which marks down countries on its “freedom index” when they balk at letting in this back-door U.S. influence. However, over the past three decades, Freedom House has become essentially a subsidiary of NED, a bought-and-paid-for NGO itself.

The Hidden CIA Hand

That takeover began in earnest in 1983 when CIA Director William Casey was focused on creating a funding mechanism to support Freedom House and other outside groups that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and financed covertly. Casey helped shape the plan for a congressionally funded entity that would serve as a conduit for this U.S. government money.

But Casey recognized the need to hide the CIA’s strings. “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,” Casey said in one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III – as Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “CIA’s Hidden Hand in ‘Democracy’ Groups.”]

Casey’s planning led to the 1983 creation of NED, which was put under the control of neoconservative Carl Gershman, who remains in charge to this day. Gershman’s NED now distributes more than $100 million a year, which included financing scores of activists, journalists and other groups inside Ukraine before last year’s coup and now pays for dozens of projects in Venezuela, the new emerging target for “regime change.”

But NED’s cash is only a part of how the U.S. government manipulates events in vulnerable countries. In Ukraine, prior to the February 2014 coup, neocon Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations.”

Nuland then handpicked who would be the new leadership, telling U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt that “Yats is the guy,” referring to “free market” politician Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who not surprisingly emerged as the new prime minister after a violent coup ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22, 2014.

The coup also started a civil war that has claimed more than 6,000 lives, mostly ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine who had supported Yanukovych and were targeted for a ruthless “anti-terrorist operation” spearheaded by neo-Nazi and other far-right militias dispatched by the U.S.-backed regime in Kiev. But Nuland blames everything on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Nuland’s Mastery of Ukraine Propaganda.”]

On top of Ukraine’s horrific death toll, the country’s economy has largely collapsed, but Nuland, Yatsenyuk and other free-marketeers have devised a solution, in line with the wishes of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund: Austerity for the average Ukrainian.

Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Nuland hailed “reforms” to turn Ukraine into a “free-market state,” including decisions “to reduce and cap pension benefits, increase work requirements and phase in a higher retirement age; … [and] cutting wasteful gas subsidies.”

In other words, these “reforms” are designed to make the hard lives of average Ukrainians even harder – by slashing pensions, removing work protections, forcing people to work into their old age and making them pay more for heat during the winter.

‘Sharing’ the Wealth

In exchange for those “reforms,” the IMF approved $17.5 billion in aid that will be handled by Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, who until last December was a former U.S. diplomat responsible for a U.S. taxpayer-financed $150 million investment fund for Ukraine that was drained of money as she engaged in lucrative insider deals – deals that she has fought to keep secret. Now, Ms. Jaresko and her cronies will get a chance to be the caretakers of more than 100 times more money. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine’s Finance Minister’s American ‘Values.’”]

Other prominent Americans have been circling around Ukraine’s “democratic” opportunities. For instance, Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter was named to the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas firm, a shadowy Cyprus-based company linked to Privat Bank.

Privat Bank is controlled by the thuggish billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky, who was appointed by the Kiev regime to be governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, a south-central province of Ukraine. In this tribute to “democracy,” the U.S.-backed Ukrainian authorities gave an oligarch his own province to rule. Kolomoysky also has helped finance paramilitary forces killing ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.

Burisma has been lining up well-connected American lobbyists, too, some with ties to Secretary of State John Kerry, including Kerry’s former Senate chief of staff David Leiter, according to lobbying disclosures.

As Time magazine reported,

“Leiter’s involvement in the firm rounds out a power-packed team of politically-connected Americans that also includes a second new board member, Devon Archer, a Democratic bundler and former adviser to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Both Archer and Hunter Biden have worked as business partners with Kerry’s son-in-law, Christopher Heinz, the founding partner of Rosemont Capital, a private-equity company.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Whys Behind the Ukraine Crisis.”]

So, it seems even this modern form of “democracy” has some “sharing the wealth” aspects.

Which brings us to the worsening crisis in Venezuela, a South American country which has been ruled over the past decade or so by leftist leaders who – with broad public support – have sought to spread the nation’s oil wealth around more broadly than ever before, including paying for ambitious social programs to address problems of illiteracy, disease and poverty.

While there were surely missteps and mistakes by the late President Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro, the Chavista government has made progress in addressing some of Venezuela’s enduring social ills, which had been coolly ignored by previous U.S.-backed rulers, such as President Carlos Andres Perez, who collaborated with the CIA and hobnobbed with the great and powerful.

I was once told by an Andres Perez assistant that the Venezuelan president shared his villa outside Caracas with the likes of David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger, bringing in beauty pageant contestants for their entertainment.

Chavez and Maduro at least have tried to improve the lot of the average Venezuelan. However, facing a deepening economic crisis made worse by the drop in world oil prices, Maduro has found himself under increasing political pressure, some of it financed or inspired by Washington and supported by the rightist government in neighboring Colombia.

Allegations of a Coup

Maduro has reacted to these moves against his government by accusing some opponents of plotting a coup, a claim that is mocked by the U.S. State Department and by the U.S. mainstream media, which apparently doesn’t believe that the United States would ever think of staging a coup in Latin America.

This week, the White House declared that the evidence of any coup-plotting is either fabricated or implausible, as the New York Times reported. President Barack Obama then cited what he called “an extraordinary threat to the national security of the United States” from Venezuela and froze the American assets of seven Venezuelan police and military officials.

The fact that Obama can deliver that line with a straight face should make any future words out of his mouth not credible. Venezuela has done nothing to threaten the “national security of the United States” extraordinarily or otherwise. Whatever the truth about the coup-plotting, Venezuela has a much greater reason to fear for its national security at the hands of the United States.

But in this up-is-down world of Official Washington, bureaucrats and journalists nod in agreement at such absurdities.

A few weeks ago, I was having brunch with a longtime State Department official who was chortling about the pain that the drop in oil prices was inflicting on Venezuela and some other adversarial states, including Iran and Russia.

I asked why the U.S. government took such pleasure at watching people in these countries suffer. I suggested that it was perhaps more in U.S. interests for these countries and their people to be doing well with money in their pockets so they could shop and do business.

His response was that these countries had caused trouble for U.S. foreign policy in the past and now it was their turn to pay the price. He also called me a “Putin apologist” when I wouldn’t agree with the State Department’s line blaming Russia for all of Ukraine’s ills.

But the broader question is: Why does the United States insist on imposing “free market” rules on these struggling countries when Democrats and even some Republicans agree that an unrestrained “free market” has not worked well for the American people? It was “free market” extremism that led to the Great Depression of the 1930s and to the Great Recession of 2008, the effects of which are only now slowly receding.

Further, real democracy – i.e., the will of the majority to shape societies to serve the many rather than the few – has turned out also to be good economics. American society and economy were arguably strongest when government policy encouraged a growing middle class from the New Deal through the 1970s.

To be sure, there were faults and false starts during those decades, but experiments with an uncontrolled “free market” have proven catastrophic. Yet, that is what the U.S. government seems determined to foist on vulnerable countries whose majorities would prefer to make their societies more equitable, more fair.

And beyond the negative social impact of the “free market,” there is the danger that conflating policies that cause economic inequality with democracy will give democracy a very bad name.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Sanctions Should Be Imposed on the U.S.

By Andre Vltchek
February 16, 2015
Dissident Voice

 

Another year, another set of coups that we can expect to be administered by the West.

This year, it is all beginning in February. First the onslaught against Argentina and following that comes yet another coup against Venezuela, and its democratically elected, progressive government.

The coup has been thwarted. Venezuela prevailed!

As Telesur reported:

Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday that the government had thwarted a coup attempt which was being coordinated by Venezuela’s right-wing opposition with the support of the U.S. government.

Just the day before the revelations, opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina Machado and Antonio Ledezma released a “transition plan” which involved privatization of the country’s oil, deregulation of the economy and accords with “international financial institutions” including the International Monetary Fund.

The army stood firmly by the government of President Maduro. Most of Latin America, including UNASUR, expressed both their solidarity and support.

But all over the world, life goes on, as if nothing significant really took place!

How much longer can such banditry by the Empire be tolerated?

*****I don’t feel like writing my usual long philosophical essays, today.

I am simply pissed off; outraged. This time I really am! Not by what those sadistic imperialist control-junkies in Washington have managed to do again. I have no positive expectations when it comes to them, as they are clearly a bunch of mass murderers of the greatest caliber, not unlike their European colonialist and crusader predecessors.

What shocks me, suddenly, is this silence, this calm, all over the world! As if nothing really taken place. As if nothing is going on!

Are we going to eat the lowest grade of shit from the Empire forever? Is the monstrous fascist and market-fundamentalist system going to get away with absolutely everything? It has already murdered some 60 million people since the end of the WWII, as I explained in my recent book with Noam Chomsky.

The Empire overthrew every decent government in Africa, in the Middle East, Asia and until recently, in Latin America. It liquidated peaceful and secular Muslim governments and replaced them with thugs or extremists.

Many of us know about it. It is no secret! But then, when the same banditry takes place again and again, everybody stays seated on his or her bum, silent like a buffalo!

Where at least are there any substantial protests in Western capitals and major cities? Where is that multi-million crowd yelling “Je suis Chavez”?

Did those morons in Europe and the United States enter a complete, final, terminal state of amnesia and indoctrination? Don’t they see and care what their governments and corporations are doing all over the world?

It seems that all that can still lift them up from the couch is either that bloody football or regime-sponsored events like “Je suis Charlie”.

So this is their famous “democracy” – the one that the West wants to ‘export’ and sticks down the throat of the Chinese people, of Russians, of Latin Americans: the establishment can butcher millions of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Somalia, in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Papua, Kashmir, Syria and Ukraine, it can attempt to overthrow any democratically elected government in Latin America, but the citizens of the Empire are so ‘pacified’, so fucked, really, that they don’t even recognize what is happening in front of their eyes, or what is done in their name. And if they recognize it, they don’t care.

It must remind one of those Germans who were living next to concentration camps, during the war, looking at the smoke coming up from the chimneys, and then claiming that ‘they did not know’.

*****Have they – Europeans and North Americans – lost their marbles? Their Christian fundamentalist/corporatist states are imposing sanctions on Russia – for nothing. Actually, Russia is being punished for the successful Western act of overthrowing the Ukrainian government! It is all totally bizarre, grotesque, comical. It makes a person with at least a few intact pieces of brain want to puke.

They first create ISIS in those NATO sponsored ‘refugee camps’ in Southern Turkey and Jordan, in order to overthrow the legitimate government in Damascus. Then when ISIS goes gaga, they use it as justification to redeploy troops in Iraq, and to bomb Syria! And European and North Americans still immobilized on their asses and still getting stoned and pissed, instead of at least building a few good, old-fashioned barricades!

And now Venezuela!

I believe that Latin America should, immediately, impose sanctions on the United States.

This is not a joke; it can and should be done. This is the only way to deal with the Empire! Merely exposing its acts only, does not obviously help. It just laughs back and continues murdering people and destroying countries that do not want to lick its boots and to sacrifice its people. It does it all in broad daylight.

Venezuela should approach the UN Security Council, and then the ICC (although states like the US or Israel do not recognize it, as they are ‘above the law’).

Then sanctions should be imposed against the U.S., first by Venezuela, then by most of other Latin American countries. China and Russia should offer their mighty shoulders, and protect Latin America against further attacks, militarily.

Enough of fear; enough of this horror! The world cannot count on the Europeans and North Americans. They cannot and are unwilling to control their governments and corporate bandits. Their countries are forming, in fact, a bunch of failed states, processing materials that are plundered abroad.

What happened in Venezuela on Feb 12th should never be accepted as the norm. Not anymore.

The world is not a chessboard, Mr. Obama. But what you are playing is not even chess. It is dirty; an extremely dirty game, which should be stopped by all means.

André Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker, and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest book is with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism: From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare. His critically acclaimed political revolutionary novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and market-fundamentalism is called Indonesia: The Archipelago of Fear. He completed a feature documentary Rwanda Gambit (2013) about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website. Read other articles by Andre.

Britain and Canada Involved in Foiled US Venezuelan Coup Plot

By Stephen Lendman
February 16, 2015
Global Research

 

Venezuela leadersBritain and Canada were co-conspirators in the latest plot to topple Venezuela’s government.

TeleSUR provided detailed coverage of Washington’s war on Venezuelan democracy. Its dirty hands manipulate violence and instability worldwide.

US funded and supported key opposition fascist figures Antonio Ledezma, Maria Corina Machado and Leopoldo Lopez released a joint February 11 communique a day before the foiled coup.

Titled “A Call on Venezuelans for a National Accord for the Transition,” it promoted regime change. Called for Venezuela to be handed back to monied interests.

Called Bolivarian fairness “anti-democra(tic)…inefficient and… corrupt.” Run by “an unscrupulous elite (making) the State totalitarian.” Creating “a humanitarian crisis.”

“(T)he Maduro government has entered a terminal phase.” Claimed it’s “the duty of every democrat to help resolve the current crisis, to defend freedom…to make the transition…(to restore) democratic order.”

Ledezma, Marhado and Lopez want Maduro’s government violently overthrown, democracy crushed.

Washington, Britain and Canada hatched the latest plot to return Venezuela to its bad old days. TeleSUR reported new details.

“Fresh evidence” showing their involvement, saying:

“Many of the individuals being charged, included a military general – whom has confessed to participating in the plans – and a retired lieutenant colonel – have indicated you (fascist Justice Party president Julio Borges) as being a key participant in meetings, which resulted in the decision to carry out a series of bombing attacks as a part of the coup, targeting the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly,” key ministries, TeleSUR’s offices, and other Caracas sites.

Venezuelan authorities identified US embassy personnel involved. So were a Royal Canadian Mounted Police official and UK diplomatic core member, according to National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello.

They sought information on airport capabilities in case needed in an emergency.

Computers seized had detailed coup plans, including maps showing targets to be bombed.

A video showed military officials announcing Maduro’s government no longer was recognized. It was scheduled to be aired after planned bombings were launched. Either by a Venezuelan or Miami TV station.

Cabello showed a 10-year visa given to one of the plotters days ahead of the planned coup.

He noted Obama’s recent statement about “American leadership at times entail(ing) twisting the arms of states which don’t do what we need them to do.”

He said coup plotters planned to topple Venezuela’s government forcefully on the anniversary of US-manipulated 2014 street violence.

Killing 43. Injuring hundreds. Causing billions of dollars in physical and economic damage.

US planned, funded, implemented and directed economic, political, and street warfare continues to topple the hemisphere’s most vibrant democracy.

On Saturday, Maduro addressed Venezuelans a second time on national television. Following up on his Thursday coup plot revelations.

Explaining more details of Washington’s scheme to oust him forcefully. “Almost all (opposition) leaders knew about this plan, this ambush, almost all of them, including the four-time losing candidate,” Maduro explained.

Referring to Henrique Capriles Radonski. One of many Venezuelan fascists wanting power back the old-fashioned way.

“I’m not saying all of them were actively involved,” Maduro said. “But it was a rumor circulating amongst them, that something was about to happen.

Figures arrested confessed to the plot, Maduro explained. They provided more evidence of Washington’s scheme.

It involved enlisting Venezuelan political and military officials. Bribing them with large cash payments. America’s Caracas embassy was coup plot headquarters.

Maduro called on Obama to stop interfering in Venezuelan affairs, saying:

“In your name, they are organizing coup plots against (Venezuela’s) democratically elected government…”

Bolivian President Evo Morales expressed solidarity with Maduro saying “(w)e all have the obligation to enforce respect for democracy and elections, and if we have a clear conscious, not even the empire can defeat us.”

Maduro received numerous other messages of support. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega condemned the “criminal and futile attempts of the empire to undermine the Bolivarian Revolution.”

From Mexico City, the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity expressed solidarity in an official statement. It condemned plans to topple Venezuela’s government.

TeleSUR reported civil and political organizations worldwide expressing solidarity with Venezuela.

Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Secretary General Ernesto Samper denounced plans to oust Maduro.

Venezuelan opposition spokesman Jesus Torrealba lied saying “(t)he government makes up these stories about coups to avoid talking about how the country is breaking down.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki lied calling accusations about Washington plotting Maduro’s ouster “ridiculous.”

She absurdly added:

“(T)he United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means.”

“Political transitions must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful, and legal.”

“We have seen many times that the Venezuelan Government tries to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela. These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan Government to deal with the grave situation it faces.”

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Venezuela Foils Obama’s Coup Plot

By Stephen Lendman
February 14, 2015
Global Research

 

us-venezuela-tensionOn February 12, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Obama’s plot to kill him, oust his government, and seize power forcefully was thwarted. More on this below.

Throughout his tenure, Obama waged war on humanity. It continues against free people everywhere.

His deplorable record might make some despots blush. He viciously targets fundamental freedoms at home and abroad.

Governs under a police state apparatus. Unilaterally decides who lives, dies, stays free or is imprisoned.

He continues waging war on Afghanistan after pledging to end it during his first year in office.

No end of conflict looms. Permanent war and occupation is planned. Afghanistan is a wasteland of dystopian misery.

Obama ravaged and destroyed Libya. Turning North Africa’s most developed country into an out-of-control cauldron of violence. Its people stripped of all social benefits and rights Gaddafi provided.

In June 2009, he orchestrated Honduran President Manuel Zelaya’s ouster. A US supported fascist despot replaced him.

After Haiti’s devastating January 2010 earthquake, Obama militarized the country, plunders it freely, exploits its people ruthlessly, orchestrated rigged elections, and prohibits democratic governance.

In September 2010, his attempt to topple Ecuador’s Rafael Correa failed. In 2012, he orchestrated Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo’s ouster by rigged parliamentary impeachment.

In February 2011, he manipulated Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak’s removal. So-called Arab spring was more mirage than real.

In July 2013, Mohamed Morsi’s toppling followed. Obama’s dirty hands conspired with Egypt’s General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi to install junta rule.

In February 2014, He ousted Ukraine’s democratically elected government. Put neo-Nazi putschists in charge.

Uses them to wage war on their own people. So-called February 12 Minsk resolution is pure fantasy.

No end of conflict looms. Peace is a convenient illusion. So is democracy. America tolerates none at home or abroad.

Throughout Chavez’s tenure as Venezuela’s president, Washington went all-out to oust him. Obama succeeded by killing him.

He wants fascist rule replacing Maduro. Bolivarian social justice ended. Predatory capitalism replacing it.

He’s waging relentless economic and political war. A previous article discussed Maduro accusing Vice President Joe Biden of directing efforts to oust him.

Likely kill him. On February 2, he said, “(t)he northern imperial power has entered a dangerous phase of desperation, going to talk to the continent’s governments to announce the overthrow of my government. And I accuse Vice-president Joe Biden of this” plot.

“There are US diplomats in Venezuela contracting military officials to betray their country, looking to influence socialist political leaders, public opinion leaders and entrepreneurs to provoke a coup.”

He called Washington’s plot no ordinary crisis. He appealed to Venezuelans to remain on high alert against “a bloody coup underway” against everything Bolivarianism represents.

In a televised Thursday address, he announced a US-instigated foiled coup plot.

Saying “(i)t is the government of the United States that is behind the plans of destabilization and coups against Venezuela. I have come here to denounce it.”

“We have dismantled a coup attempt against democracy, against the stability of our homeland.”

“It was an attempt to use a group of officials from the air force to provoke a violent act, an attack.”

Civilians and military members were involved. They were arrested. They remain detained.

They’re connected to four Venezuelan air force generals involved in a 2014 plot to oust Maduro. A State Department spokesperson declined to comment.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said “Bolivarian Armed Forces remain resolute in their democratic beliefs and reject coup schemes that threaten the peace of the republic.”

National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello explained details of Obama’s plot.

Scheduled on the anniversary of the start of last year’s US-orchestrated street violence. Plans included killing people during marches and demonstrations.

Using a Tucano jet aircraft to bomb strategic targets, including:

  • the Miraflores (presidential palace);
  • military intelligence headquarters;
  • defense and justice ministries;
  • Caracas municipality building;
  • public prosecutor’s office;
  • TeleSUR building;
  • National Electoral Council (CNE); and
  • central Caracas’ Metro station Zona Rental;

Installing “transitional” governance would follow. Opposition legislator Julio Borges was accused of choosing locations to be attacked.

Caracas Mayor Jorge Rodriquez said “he’ll have to explain if he was planning this map of attack targets…”

(A)mong them was the (western area of Caracas) La Cadelaria where the opposition always wins elections…”

(W)hat were they going to say to the people who came out of their houses because they were going to be bombed…”

(W)hen they were going to bomb the international channel, TeleSUR?”

Cabello said authorities seized grenades, military and Sebin (intelligence) uniforms, and a video coup plot declaration by masked military officials displaying deadly AR15 rifles.

Automatic versions can fire 800 rounds per minute. Semi-automatic ones are widely available in America. Venezuelan civilians are prohibited from owning them.

“Venezuela has a very violent sector of the opposition that doesn’t hesitate to plan actions that could mean dozens of deaths or the assassination of the president,” said Rodriguez.

Cabello said Borges and opposition leader Antonio Ledezma planned to announce the coup publicly.

Sign it. Then have corporate controlled anti-Bolivarian national media publish it.

Maduro said one suspect arrested was under surveillance since last year’s street violence. He and others continued plotting to oust Venezuela’s government.

With considerable help from Washington. A four-stage plan was hatched. Including economic and political war.

Inventing a nonexistent humanitarian crisis. A political coup. Followed by a military one installing transitional governance.

Maduro said the plot was discovered after military officials approached to participate reported the scheme to civilian authorities.

On Thursday, Maduro urged Venezuelans to remain on alert. Prepare to counter US-directed fascist attempts to seize power forcefully, he said.

Families of victims of last year’s fascist street violence want everyone to know hard truths about what happened.

Washington’s orchestrated right-wing rampage left 43 dead. Hundreds of others injured. A deadly repeat looms.

Obama wants Venezuela looking like Ukraine. He wants its democratic governance destroyed. Its valued energy resources plundered. Its people exploited.

Venezuelans want the whole world to know what happened last year. What’s planned against their country.

According to a committee representing families of victims of last year’s violence, perpetrators blamed government authorities for their crimes.

Hard truths were “silenced or distorted by some media and politicians, as well as by certain international human rights organizations, which portray the intellectual and material authors of the violence as the victims of state power, forgetting those who really suffered the consequences of the call to violence.”

“That’s why, we have decided to demand that the events be investigated and the truth determined, about who was intellectually and materially responsible for these human rights violations, and what their real motivations were,” they said.

“Above all, that they be punished accordingly. We are convinced that there won’t be justice until the truth of what happened is known by everyone, inside and outside our country.”

The day after Maduro’s April 2013 election, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles called on supporters to rage (arrechera) in the streets.

Weeks of violence, deaths and destruction followed selectively in middle and upscale neighborhoods. The vast majority of Venezuelans opposed it. They still do.

Obama continues going all-out to crush Bolivarianism once and for all. To return Venezuela to its bad old days. To restore dark side rule. Millions of Venezuelans are a bulwark against him.

Obama’s failed scheme is Washington’s latest attempt to replace Venezuelan democracy with fascist rule.

Expect more of the same ahead. Expect Obama to keep menacing humanity throughout his remaining months in office.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Peoples’ Tribunals, Human Rights Abuses and the Actions of Canada’s Mining Industry in Latin America

By Binoy Kampmark
February 3, 2015
Global Research

 

mining“What Liberia is to shipping companies, Canada is for mining companies.” – Theresa Wolfwood, Director of the Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation, Apr 12, 2013

In time when legal and regulatory institutions find themselves short when confronting the corporate fiends, it has fallen upon civil society to come up with a solution – of sorts.  The Peoples’ Tribunal is one such example, an experiment born in the activist’s drive to give judicial shape to ethical sentiments and indignant opposition.  The format has been deployed in attempts to adjudicate the legality of Israeli actions regarding Palestinians; the legality of the Iraqi War; and the acts of various junta regimes in Latin America through the 1970s, to name but a few examples.

It all began, however, with the Russell Tribunal sessions in 1967 on US involvement in the Vietnam War.  Despite being criticised for their one-sided slant (the jury panel did not see fit, it was argued, to assess Viet Cong crimes), the experiment prevailed.  The absence of government initiatives and prosecutorial action had created a void.

Beyond war and peering into the reaches of civil society, a People’s Tribunal has been used to make judgments on the World Bank in India, which made its findings on September 11, 2008.  The verdict of the Independent People’s Tribunal on the World Bank in India was not sympathetic to the body under examination.[1]  “The Tribunal attempted to expose the nature and degree of coordination between the World Bank Group and other IFIs (International Financial Institutions), as they often act in concert.”

The focus, amongst others, was on the impact of the bank on Indian sovereignty and democratic processes; the extent of its involvement in Indian policy making and legislation; the consequences of indebtedness and loan conditionalities on social sectors (food, water, health and education); and the Bank’s impacts on “vulnerable communities, including women, children, dalits, minorities, adivasis, workers, fisher folk, and farmers.”  In its statement of findings, the Tribunal noted a hinterland of exclusion and mistreatment – while the World Bank had a “self-proclaimed” agenda of poverty reduction, its actions “exclude the poor in the best of cases”.

A sector that has also received scrutiny in the form of a peoples’ tribunal is the mining industry.  The conduct of the mining industry in Canada is of particular importance in this regard.  A range of activist groups, notably those connected with a tribunal founded in 1979 by “socially-committed jurists” has busied itself with Canadian mining activities in Latin America.

The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal Session on the Canadian mining industry sees every reason to focus on the companies that make it up, seeing as over 75 percent of all registered mining companies have their headquarters in Canada.  Mining executives, it has been repeatedly found, love doing business via Canadian channels – a 2008 survey cites 7 Canadian provinces amongst the top 10 globally in terms of policies sympathetic to the industry.[2]

Much of this is expounded upon by Quebec-based researchers Alain Deneault and William Sacher’s Imperial Inc. – Legal Haven of Choice for the World’s Mining Industries (2012), an exposition which ties in other rather well with such discussion of Canadian foreign policy as Yves Engler’s The Ugly Canadian (2012).  “The mining sector in Canada is totally out of control,” claims Deneault.  “We don’t have any way to make sure that, on the ethical level, these mining corporations registered in Canada behave properly abroad.”[3]

A large part of what “abroad” is has proven to be countries in Latin America.  In their verdict on December 10th last year, the bench of the PPT identified a range of “systematic human rights abuses perpetrated against communities affected by large-scale mining projects.”[4]  (The investigation, it should be noted, is an ongoing one till 2016.)

Mining giants have generally garnered bad press – that is, unless that press is being steered by the commodity sector, laced with a good deal of gagging and libel chill.  The McGill Research Group Investigating Canadian Mining in Latin America (MICLA) and the Observatorio des Conflictos Mineros de América Latina (OCMAL) have identified somewhere between 85 to 90 “social conflicts,” in the wording of the PPT ruling, “involving Canadian companies.”

The verdict identified an assortment of environmental assaults, of which Barrick Gold and Goldcorp proved “emblematic” offenders.  The right to life and a healthy environment were persistently breached by activities that saw deforestation, pollution, and the destruction of biodiversity. Goldcorp, operating in San Martin, Honduras, was found to have contaminated groundwater wells with cyanide and arsenic.  Barrick Gold, operating out of Pascua Lama, Chile-Argentina “has infringed on the right to water of indigenous and local peasant communities.”

This is only part of it.  Self-determination has been railroaded repeatedly.  Consultation with indigenous groups in a manner free, fair and informed, has been left wanting.  The other side of this renting of sovereignty is an impairment of citizenship, be it through targeting unions and keeping a lid on social protests.  “Numerous Latin American states have reformed their juridical framework in order to criminalize social protest.”

The local disturbances created by these mining industries is staggering, leading not merely to a change of laws on the books, but in some cases, to dislocations, conflict and the presence of refugees.

The combination between extractive industry on the one hand and compliant governments on the other is one that is repeatedly found in the mining sector.  Seen as beneficial agents of progress, the mistaken assumption is that allowing mining to take place with minimal restriction is somehow a local benefit. (It certainly benefits certain interests, though these tend to be limited.)  The results have been disastrous.

While the PPT adds much needed oxygen to the unconscionable conduct of Canada’s mining industry, legal actions in Canadian courts are also needed.  Juridical support, as one of the judicial members, Gianni Tognoni explained, is needed to bolster “political and social arguments so that it would be clear that the battle for international justice is absolutely the same as the battle for internal democracy” (Inter Press Service, Jan 30).[5]

An industry with all the makings of mercantilist imperialism can only be brought to book via a combined set of approaches.  A combination of legal sting and judicial ire will add more bite to what has merely been, to date, a snarl.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Notes

Cuba Blasts a Hole in the Blockade

By Prof. Tim Anderson
December 21, 2014
Global Research

 

Révolution cubaineThe dramatic shift in Cuban-US relations has caused joy both in Cuba and amongst those of us who backed the independent island for decades, but confusion elsewhere.

I have seen writers, apparently sympathetic to the Cuban Revolution, claiming that Raul Castro has ‘betrayed’ the Revolution, or that an avalanche of US capital is about to arrive and take over the island. Such statements are alarmist and misleading. Let us take a more sober and better informed look at what is happening and why it is happening.

The US economic blockade of Cuba, in place since the early 1960s, was part of a US strategy to isolate Revolutionary Cuba, incite desperation and bring the country to its knees. While that plan failed, it also caused tremendous damage to the Cuban economy, especially since the tightening under two US laws of the 1990s, which impose sanctions on third parties. Just this month it emerged that the German Commerzbank faces US fines of one billion dollars for carrying out transactions with Cuba, Iran and some other countries subject to US unilateral sanctions. All this has hurt Cuba. The blockade is said to have caused Cuba more than one trillion dollars in damages.

The Cuban Revolution never broke diplomatic and commercial relations with the USA, rather the reverse. After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, and after Cuba nationalised all US companies, the Cuban proposal for compensation was long-term payment in revenue from sugar sales to the US. The US rejected this and ordered an economic blockade (Washington calls this an ‘embargo’), thus closing all US-linked refineries and forcing Cuba into its ‘sugar for oil’ deal with the Soviet Union.

Thirty years later, when the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba was forced to revise its economy, opening to tourism, building a medical services industry and providing much needed support to infrastructure and industry through a foreign investment law (1995), which mainly provides for joint ventures. There have been some revisions to that foreign investment law, under recent economic reforms, but nothing of this sort is linked to relations with the US.

People concerned about Cuba should understand this point: in the re-opening of relations with Washington, Cuba has made precisely no concessions in terms of its own social and economic policy. The only quid pro quo so far has been the exchange of two US spies (Alan Gross and another unnamed person) for Cuba’s five national heroes, who were jailed in 1998 for attempting to stop Miami based terrorist attacks on the island. Cubans are overjoyed that the Five are home.

The recent breakthrough in relations is yet go through a longer process in the US, as there will be much political heat and noise, because important parts of the sanctions on and freeze in relations with Cuba is embedded in law. Obama has announced he has amendments ready for Congress. But the US media will be a very poor source of information on why the changes are taking place. They will say, as they did during a similar ‘Cuban spring’ in the 1970s, that the ‘embargo’ has failed but we will change Cuba with our commerce, our democracy and our freedom. Anyone who believes this should go back to Politics 101.

Why then did the US agree to the Cuban demand for normalisation, without conditions, especially as Washington is currently engaged in aggressive measures against Venezuela, Syria and Russia? The answer lies in the powerful unification processes underway in Latin America and the Caribbean. The late Hugo Chavez, with his ‘political father’ Fidel Castro, knew that the Latin American nations had to unite to be able to stand up to a big power. That is why Chavez initiated the ALBA, UNASUR and the CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), the latter representing all the peoples of the Americas (600 million) except the USA and Canada (330 million).

Last year Cuba had the Presidency of the CELAC, causing alarm in Washington. Where it had isolated Cuba in the 1960s, now the USA was isolated. The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is long dead, even if neoliberal projects remain. US-backed conflicts in Latin America were being resolved by UNASUR. Meantime, CELAC was dealing directly with the Europeans. The Washington-dominated Organization of American States (OAS) was and is sidelined.

Powerful US lobbies have been addressing this problem for the last few years, mainly because of fear of isolation in the Americas and of being frozen out of new markets and fields of investment (see: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-29/cuba-embargo-under-pressure-as-obama-urged-to-ease-it.html). The New York Times, clearly with investor group backing, ran a series of articles over October-December, urging an end to the ‘embargo’ (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/opinion/sunday/end-the-us-embargo-on-cuba.html?_r=0 ). Perhaps most telling was the May letter from a group of Washington establishment figures, including John Negroponte, former death squad organiser. They couched their argument in the usual rhetoric of ‘freedom and civil society’, and opportunities for the US to change Cuba, but importantly added their fear: ‘the U.S. is finding itself increasingly isolated internationally in its Cuba policy’ (http://media.bloomberg.com/bb/avfile/rqfvUFFN8vl8).

The key driver of change has been Cuban resistance, combined with Latin American unity. The US economic blockade was opposed successfully by Cuban motions at the United Nations for more than 20 years, every year. In recent years the US has only counted on the support of Israel and one or two tiny, dependent pacific islands. Abstention since the 1990s has almost disappeared, giving Cuba the support of 188 to 189 countries each year. I say this to demonstrate that Cuba has consistently wanted to ‘normalise’ its relations with a power it considers a huge imperial threat, but nevertheless a neighbour with which it has to coexist.

Fidel Castro and Raul Castro have made the same point for decades: Cuba wants relations with the US, but on conditions of formal equality, with respect for independence and without any pressure or blackmail. It has always been the US that has attempted to impose conditions, for example, demanding that Cuba get out of Africa in the 1980s, or that Cuba changes its political and economic system, or that Fidel resigns, or that Cuba releases imprisoned US agents. In the end the US surrendered its failed policy, without conditions.

Making use of US news sources, some commentators have claimed that Cuba mainly depends on remittances from the US, or that there is no foreign investment in Cuba. Both statements are quite false. While remittances are important for many families, Cuba’s two biggest foreign income earners for the past two decades have been medical services and tourism. Since the mid-1990s there have been several large foreign investors in Cuba: Venezuela, China, Brazil and Spain. If people want to understand anything about Cuba they will have to wean themselves off US news sources. Try reading Cubadebate or watching Telesur.

After the breakthrough the NYT sums it up pretty well: ‘Castro Thanks U.S. in Speech But Reaffirms Communism’. Perhaps a little more respect is due for the resistance and modest achievements of little peoples, rather than imagining that the logic of the empire always prevails. The history of Cuba should have given us cause to reflect on that.