Tag Archive | "Venezuela"

Sorting Out Reality from Fiction About Venezuela


NOVANEWS

Last April marked a special anniversary for Cuba but one that we should all reflect upon given the current events in Latin America, particularly in Venezuela. In mid-April 1961 three cities in Cuba were bombed at the same time from the air. Immediately the US government claimed that Cuban defectors carried out the action with Cuban planes and pilots. The media quickly “confirmed the actions”.

These were false flag attacks organized by the US.

In a large mass rally in Havana the next day Fidel Castro pronounced a very important speech where he called John Kennedy and the media liars. That was the speech where Fidel declared the “socialist character” of the Cuban revolution.

US interventions, military and parliamentary coups have been relentless before and since in Latin America. Often they are preceded by outright disinformation in order to misrepresent events and demonize the target government as a prelude to legitimize a more aggressive intervention.

Fast-forward to the 21st Century, pan quickly over the Middle East, and zoom into our Western hemisphere today and you will see Venezuela. Not the country that most Venezuelans want you to see, but the country that the US government and its allies – Canada at the forefront – want you to see. Reportedly, one that needs a regime change.

The level of disinformation about Venezuela has been widely exposed by political analysts like Dan Kovalik and media groups like Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), which indicated that corporate media in the United States has undertaken “a full-scale marketing campaign for regime change in Venezuela”.

In an article last April Time magazine said, “Venezuelans are starving for information”. Venezuelanalysis.com writers responded that, “Creative reporting about Venezuela is ‘the world’s most lucrative fictional genre’“, and it goes on to show how there are three private TV channels, a satellite provider that covers FOX News, CNN and BBC. Anti-government print media is also widely accessible as well as online outlets.

The truth is that people outside Venezuela are starving for reliable information.

The New York Times printed, “Venezuela’s Collapse Is the Worst Outside of War in Decades” with barely a reference to the impact of US sanctions and the billions of dollars stolen from Venezuela as if irrelevant.

Perhaps there is no conventional war in Venezuela, but there is a devastating economic war imposed by unilateral coercive measures, media warfare or infowar. Venezuelans call it guerra mediática. In 2009 Chavez even spoke of “media dictatorship.”

It kills people just the same by virtue of curtailing vital trade, investment and imports in a capitalist world that reacts and panics very quickly at a minor sign of insecurity. Capital flees, leaving the country at the mercy of political imperial attacks.

The US government and its embedded corporate media become the jugglers of disinformation, or equivalently they display what I call a choreography of disinformation.

When it comes to Venezuela papers like the Washington Post, the NYT, the Globe and Mail and others are no different from tabloids. How else would you interpret the NYT information that Hezbollah is in Venezuela? It is a dangerous insinuation just because the Minister of Industry of Venezuela is of Lebanese descent and his great-uncle allegedly was associated with the Ba’athist Party of Iraq. The NYT would never make such an outlandish insinuation that the neo-Fascists are in Canada because Chrystia Freeland had a distant relative associated with Nazism in the Ukraine.

If we skip over the most obvious media lies, the bulk of disinformation can be reduced to two main categories of accusations laid against Nicolas Maduro: 1) Maduro is not a legitimate president; and 2) Maduro has broken the constitutional order of Venezuela.

Is Maduro an illegitimate president? Let’s remember that Maduro obtained irrefutably almost 68% of the valid votes on May 20th, and that Juan Guaidó appointed himself as “interim president” in a street rally.

Further, an analysis of the electoral process based on the established international standards shows that all the recommended elements for a legitimate election were followed in Venezuela and confirmed by many international observers.

More importantly, five candidates participated in the elections representing different ideologies. One of them, Henri Falcon, was even threatened with sanctions by the US if he decided to participate. The most radical rightwing opposition did not participate in the elections and did so by their own free will boycotting the process.

Did Maduro break the constitutional order? Former Canadian ambassador to Venezuela Ben Rowswell(2014-2017) recently lied in an interview with CTV stating that Maduro “suspended” the constitution. That never happened as it has been widely documented.

We cannot deny the economic crisis in Venezuela caused by the “guerra económica” (economic war) waged by the US. The last conservative figure for the cost of US sanctions to Venezuela is US$130 billion. But the US government and the corporate media want you to believe that the economic crisis in Venezuela is due to the Maduro government mismanagement, totally disregarding the impact of the unilateral coercive measures.

The reality is that the government of Venezuela is responding with full commitment to the constitution, and the international commitment to its “responsibility to protect” the well being of the population by maintaining its social programs under harsh circumstances. The people are at the centre of all programs.

Perhaps the most important government program is the Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP-Comité Local de Abastecimiento y Producción) that guarantees delivery of boxes of food and other items in order to cover the basic needs. The program covers about 6 million families.

The US is currently threatening the Venezuelan CLAP program with sanctions, alleging that it finances or is a cover up for drug trade. This is the most vile deceit at the cost of starving Venezuelans. Not even in time of war is such a callous crime allowed.

Concluding remarks

It is obvious that the US government is after the control of Venezuela’s oil resources based on its unfounded claim over its “backyard”. Canada has joined with its own claim to protect its mining sector corporations with interests in Venezuela. Neither country has any interest in the people of Venezuela, despite their rhetoric.

It is also quite obvious that the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela centers on the protection of its people and on preventing any pillage of its resources based on its legitimate claim on sovereignty, independence and self-determination, supported by the majority of people.

There lies the true nature of the US/Canada attacks against Venezuela.

However, that is the pragmatic reason. The more political and ideological reason is that the US corporate interests that govern the country will never allow any other ideology that hints or resembles any form of socialism, even in its embryonic form. Canada’s foreign policy today is quite attuned with US foreign policy.

It is interesting to note that the constitution promoted by Chavez does not have a single mention of the word “socialism”. It speaks frequently of “social democracy” but never of socialism.

Chavez coined the phrase “Socialism for the 21st Century” in 2005, six years after the new constitution was approved. And yet he was already slated for a US-sponsored coup in 2002. The coup failed but that must have made Chavez’s anti-imperialism discourse much more urgent. His speeches rejecting capitalism, imperialism and neo-liberalism, as causing oppression of the population, became much more open, explicit and forceful.

The policies of his government also became much more progressive as indicated by the law passed in 2006 establishing communal councils as units of direct democratic self-government, and the law of 2010 establishing the creation of communes as institutions that would bring together the communal councils with local productive units. These laws were in compliance with Article 184 of the constitution.

However, the new constitution being drafted by the National Constituent Assembly needs to formalize the close to 3,000 Communes in Venezuela by giving them constitutional ranking.

It would not be totally surprising to see a more prominent place for the “21stCentury Socialism” in the new constitution. Perhaps, we may witness a formal Venezuelan declaration of the “socialist character” of the Bolivarian Revolution.

Today we can infer that the corporate media war is not just against Maduro but it is against Chavismo as the living ideology of the Bolivarian Revolution.

We are currently witnessing a race between two forces in our hemisphere: 1) the US and Canada imperial forces that support the Venezuelan rightwing opposition in order to produce a regime change, and 2) Venezuela’s popular majority forces determined to build an independent socialist path.

This is not a race where we can stand at the margin and say, may the best win. This is a race in which we are all involved. We must be involved. Today’s geopolitical reality makes us all vulnerable. Sorting out reality from fiction is the essential task.

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Venezuela Has the Means to Defeat the US Blockade


  • The Venezuelan Ambassador to Russia indicated that more than 40 financial entities in 17 countries have frozen funds from Venezuela
    The Venezuelan Ambassador to Russia indicated that more than 40 financial entities in 17 countries have frozen funds from Venezuela | Photo: Sputnik

    The Venezuelan Ambassador to Russia said that his country has lost US$130 billion dollars due to the U.S. sanctions imposed on the Bolivarian Republic. 

The Venezuelan Ambassador to Russia, Carlos Rafael Faría Tortosa, said Tuesday that despite the ongoing blockade by the United States, his country has found ways to defeat them and continue to advance his nation’s economic development.

Chavistas March in Caracas to Mark Nicolas Maduro’s Re-election

In an interview with the Russian agency RT, Tortosa said that “when our president announced that the gold production in the country has been recovering, the U.S. government immediately banned any commercial relationship with our mining companies. We, of course, have already found ways to circumvent these sanctions.”

Tortosa indicated that “we will act in the same way in relation to other measures that are being taken against our country.”

According to the ambassador, Venezuela’s total losses as a result of these sanctions imposed by the U.S. has been around US$130 billion.

“As a result of the economic blockade imposed by the United States, the losses are estimated at US$130 billion dollars for the period between 2015 to 2018,” he explained, adding that with these funds, Venezuela could have flourished for nine years.

The representative of the South American country in Russia said that despite the violent actions by sectors of the Venezuelan right, President Nicolás Maduro has insisted on the path of dialogue to peacefully resolve the situation and political differences among Venezuelans.

The diplomat explained that around 40 financial institutions in 17 countries have frozen US$5.47 billion from Venezuela. According to Tortosa, his government is fighting to free these funds and wants to inform the whole world about their financial situation.

Tortosa reiterated that Washington’s main objective is “to overthrow the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro”, and change the political course established by commander Hugo Chávez.

Finally, the ambassador denied the presence of Russian forces in Venezuela, adding that Moscow has expressed its position “to show that the issues can not be resolved with intervention, threats, and blackmail.”

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Lavrov: US Military Action in Venezuela Would Be ‘Catastrophic’


NOVANEWS
 After Pompeo Meeting, Russia’s Lavrov Says US Military Action in Venezuela Would Be ‘Catastrophic
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with Russia
    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as they meet on the sidelines of the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Rovaniemi. | Photo: Reuters

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made teh comments after hold a rare face-to-face meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Finland. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo in Finland Monday after which he warned that U.S. ​​​​​​military intervention in Venezuela would be catastrophic and unjustified.

The two men met on the sidelines of a meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland.

Lavrov told reporters his meeting had been constructive and that the two top diplomats had made decent progress when it came to discussing strategic nuclear stability.

Lavrov also said he was sure that Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump would have another chance to meet again after their summit in Helsinki last year.

“We strongly oppose military actions wherever they violate international law, the use of force can be authorized only by the U.N. Security Council or the force can be used in response to an aggression against a sovereign state, nothing similar is Watch in Venezuela,” Lavrov told reporters.

“We reviewed several regional situations that are on the current agenda, international relations in general, and we discussed issues related to strategic stability,.”

In reference to the situation in Venezuela, Lavrov stressed that “among my contacts with American, European and Latin American colleagues I do not see supporters of a reckless military solution .”

He added that he hopes that this understanding “becomes a practical policy, and that there is no military solution, because it would be catastrophic.”

The U.S. secretary of state said that the two had discussed Venezuela and that Washington wants Cuba, Iran and Russia out of the OPEC nation.

He added that the United States has seen activity from Iran that indicated a possible “escalation,” one day after the United States said it would send a carrier strike group to the Middle East to counter a “credible threat by Iranian regime forces.”

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VENEZUELA: ARMED SUPPORTERS OF US-PROCLAIMED ‘PRESIDENT’


NOVANEWS
VENEZUELA: ARMED SUPPORTERS OF US-PROCLAIMED ‘PRESIDENT’ LAUNCH ATTEMPT TO OVERTHROW MADURO GOVERNMENT (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
Venezuela: Armed Supporters Of US-Proclaimed 'President' Launch Attempt To Overthrow Maduro Government (Photos, Videos)

Juan Guaidó

@jguaido

En el marco de nuestra constitución. Y por el cese definitivo de la usurpación. https://www.pscp.tv/w/b5gQ9TUwMjc4NDN8MXJteFBlakJydlhLTlWvemxFNY_71g4QomAN12W3ykWFevDO_7lCRAawcIAW 

Juan Guaido @jguaido

En el marco de nuestra constitución. Y por el cese definitivo de la usurpación.

pscp.tv

Armed supportes of US-proclaimed ‘Venezuelan President’ Juan Guaido has launched an open attempt to seize power by force.

According to reprots, a part of the military and police sided with Guaido. The US-backed “president” appeared in a video surrounded by people in military uniforms.

Via Twitter, he said that he gained support from the Armed Forces and called on people to come to the streets and to help him to seize the power.

Juan Guaidó

@jguaido

Pueblo de Venezuela, es necesario que salgamos juntos a la calle, a respaldar a las fuerzas democráticas y a recuperar nuestra libertad. Organizados y juntos movilícense a las principales unidades militares. Pueblo de Caracas, todos a la Carlota.

“Opposition forces” are  currently located near Generalisimo Francisco de Miranda Airbase in the capital of Caracas. It remains unclear if they have a full control of the base or just claim that they have it.

Armed supporters of Guaido are setting up a position near the airbase:

Embedded video

EL PAÍS

@el_pais

TV en DIRECTO https://bit.ly/2GTZnVv  Los militares que acompañan a Guaidó y López toman posiciones en la base de La Carlota, en Caracas

A road to the base is reportedly blocked:

Embedded video

CNW@ConflictsW

Roads around La Carlota airbase are being blocked by SEBIN

The situation is developing.

Venezuela: Armed Supporters Of US-Proclaimed 'President' Launch Attempt To Overthrow Maduro Government (Photos, Videos)

Click to see the full-size image

Venezuela: Armed Supporters Of US-Proclaimed 'President' Launch Attempt To Overthrow Maduro Government (Photos, Videos)

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Report Finds US Sanctions on Venezuela Are Responsible for Tens of Thousands of Deaths


 

Image result for venezuela cartoon

“The sanctions are depriving Venezuelans of lifesaving medicines, medical equipment, food, and other essential imports,” said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of CEPR and co-author of the report. “This is illegal under US and international law, and treaties that the US has signed. Congress should move to stop it.”

The paper notes that the recognition by the Trump administration of a parallel government in January created a whole new set of financial and trade sanctions that are devastating to the economy and population. These new restrictions make it much more difficult to even pay for medicines and other essential imports with the limited foreign exchange that is available.

The authors also explain how the sanctions prevent an economic recovery from the country’s severe economic depression and hyperinflation.
“Venezuela’s economic crisis is routinely blamed all on Venezuela,” said Jeffrey Sachs, co-author of the paper. “But it is much more than that. American sanctions are deliberately aiming to wreck Venezuela’s economy and thereby lead to regime change. It’s a fruitless, heartless, illegal, and failed policy, causing grave harm to the Venezuelan people.”

Among the results of broad economic sanctions implemented by the Trump administration since August 2017:

  • An estimated more than 40,000 deaths from 2017–18;
  • The sanctions have reduced the availability of food and medicine, and increased disease and mortality;
  • The August 2017 sanctions contributed to a sharp decline in oil production that caused great harm to the civilian population;
  • The US sanctions implemented since January, if they continue will almost certainly result in tens of thousands more avoidable deaths;
  • This is based on an estimated 80,000 people with HIV who have not had antiretroviral treatment since 2017, 16,000 people who need dialysis, 16,000 people with cancer, and 4 million with diabetes and hypertension (many of whom cannot obtain insulin or cardiovascular medicine);
  • Since the sanctions that began in January 2019, oil production has fallen by 431,000 barrels per day or 36.4 percent. This will greatly accelerate the humanitarian crisis, but the projected 67 percent decline in oil production for the year, if the sanctions continue, would cause vastly more loss of human life.

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Russian Pilots Get Hero’s Welcome in Venezuela


We are republishing this article which first appeared in mid-December, 2018, because it turns out that it might well have been a harbinger of things to come. It now seems highly likely that Russian intelligence knew that a Venezuelan coup was in the works and the Kremlin wanted to send a message to the plotters that Russia, with their billions invested in the Maduro governnent, wouldn’t back down that easily.  The video makes clear what a powder keg Venezuela could turn out to be if Washington follows through with regime change.

This video shows the Russians arriving in a show of support for Venezuela with joint military drills.

image

They get a very warm emotional welcome.

The “Tu-160” nuclear-capable bombers have the distinction of having the largest wingspan of any combat aircraft in use and being the fastest bomber in the world today.

The Venezuelan Minister of Defense praised the gesture: “It’s more than cooperation, it’s friendship based on trust. We established a warm relationship in the military and technical fields during Hugo Chávez’s rule and continue to maintain it during Maduro’s presidency.”

Watch these incredible machines in action. On Friday, they returned to Russia.

Russian TU-160 strategic bombers circled over the airspace along the borders of Venezuela and the offshore area of the Caribbean Sea. The supersonic aircraft spent more than 10 hours in the air. During this time, our crews worked out the interaction with the combat aircraft pilots of the South American country.

Mikhail Fedotov with unique details from the site.

A couple of White Swans swim over the Caracas airport. They turn over the coast of the Caribbean Sea, do a go-around, and after a few minutes the Tu-160 strategic bombers touch down on the runway. The planes taxi to the parking spots. After 10 hours of flight, the pilots finally leave the cockpit. A short report to the commander and, of course, some flight impressions.

Pavel Burdakov, deputy squadron commander: “The flight was performed over the water area of the Caribbean Sea, strictly following the rules of international flight. Then patrols were also carried out over the territory of Venezuela. During the flight, there weren’t any interceptions. Fighters of the Republic of Venezuela, F-16s and Su-30s, approached us. They performed patrol escorts”.

These are shots of the honorary escort shot by the Bolivarian National Air Force. The sky over Venezuela is almost cloudless. On the side, at a distance of 100 feet, two fighters approach the Tu-160. Russian and Venezuelan pilots worked out elements of interaction in the sky on the ground. “A ground flight” in professional slang.

An impressive delegation of Russian military experts came to Venezuela to maintain the bombers. A pre-flight preparation is necessary. Russian military technicians refuel the aircraft, check the avionics, and other technical systems of this bomber. Take-off is at 5 a.m. The planes leave the apron of the Simón Bolívar International Airport. Breaking the darkness with engine flames, the leading strategist, Vasily Reshetnikov, takes off. Behind him is his wingman, Nikolai Kuznetsov. These are unique shots from the cockpit.

You can see the crew’s hard work on the video. The pilots do not break away from the controls, the navigators study maps. Below is the blue of the Caribbean Sea and the outline of the coast. 5,600 miles. A flight around the perimeter of the Caribbean and along the borders of Venezuela None of the countries over which the Russian bombers passed along their route raised any aircraft to intercept them. The flight went smoothly.

Sergey Kobylash, long-range aviation commander: “The crew flew over 5,600 miles. All of the tasks they had been given were accomplished successfully. There weren’t any difficulties for the crews”.

Tomorrow the Swans are going to have another long-range flight, over the Atlantic back to Russia.

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Zionist Marco Rubio: US Must Initiate Widespread Unrest in Venezuela


NOVANEWS

Venezuela | Marco Rubio

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks to the press near the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, which connects Colombia with Venezuela, in La Parada, near Cucuta, Colombia, Feb. 17, 2019. Fernando Vergara | AP

In public testimony, Marco Rubio called on the U.S. to promote “widespread unrest” in order to eventually bring down the Maduro government in Venezuela.

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Everyone Washington Supports, by Definition, Is a Moderate Centrist


Alan Macleod looks at how US backed figures get portrayed by the mainstream media, regardless of their true colors.

juan-guaido-1024×512.jpg
AFP depiction of Juan Guaidó (Frederico Parra)
AFP depiction of Juan Guaidó (Frederico Parra)
By Alan Macleod 

The Trump administration seems to have found their man in National Assembly leader and self-appointed president of Venezuela Juan Guaidó. Guaidó has been extremely attentive to US interests, promising to allow US oil companies to increase their activity in Venezuela. He has also pledged mass privatizations and harsh rounds of austerity, as FAIR contributor Ben Norton reported (Mint Press News1/24/19). Having met with and secured the support of the Trump administration before he acted, the previously unknown 35-year-old emerged as a prominent opponent of the leftist government, championed by right-wing nations in the region keen to see the end of President Nicolás Maduro’s administration.

Despite this, or rather precisely because of it, the media are presenting Guaidó not as a conservative (or further still to the right), but as a centrist social democrat who can unite a fractured nation. CBC (1/23/19) and Forbes (1/24/19) both described him as a “centrist social democrat,” the former adding that he is also an activist and a “salsa-loving baseball fan.” Others went further, claiming that he and his party are “center left” (Reuters1/24/19) or even “socialist” (London Independent1/24/19). The New York Times (3/4/19) claimed, more broadly, that Gauidó had “captured the heart of the nation” and that “a vast majority of Venezuelans support him.”

In reality, Guiadó’s Popular Will party has always represented the most radical right-wing elements of the Venezuelan opposition, perhaps the reason that Fox Business’ Trish Reagan (1/29/19) eagerly endorsed him as a “freedom fighter leading his country to democracy” amid “massive cheers from the people.” Popular Will has consistently favored confrontation and violence over negotiation; a recent opposition plan to amass an army of 200 soldiers to shoot their way across the border to bring Guaidó back into Venezuela after an overseas tour was only stopped by a panicked Colombian government, according to Bloomberg (3/6/19).

But Guaidó is merely the latest in a long line of Washington-backed Venezuelan conservatives the media has sugar-coated. Leopoldo López, a Harvard-educated “hardliner” (London Independent,4/11/14; Guardian3/4/14) who led a wave of demonstrations in 2014 aimed at removing Maduro by force that left 43 dead, including some passersby beheaded with razor wire, was a darling of the press. The Washington Post (2/18/143/29/14) described him as a “courageous,” “left-leaning” “moderate,” while Newsweek (2/28/14) discussed his “twinkling chocolate-colored eyes and high cheekbones.”

Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles’ 2012 campaign platform advocated privatization or increased business influence across the country, in schools, the oil industry, healthcare, water and electricity, promising to work closely with the IMF and World Bank and to re-design the national curriculum at all levels to teach “the connection between property, economic progress, political liberty and social development.”

Nevertheless, Capriles presented himself as a social democrat, and the media followed suit. He was described as a “moderate” (New York Times2/24/14Washington Post3/11/14) or even a “center-left reformer” (Miami Herald, 4/11/13), and a disciple of popular Brazilian democratic socialist President Lula da Silva (London Times3/8/13Daily Telegraph4/7/13). This despite the fact that Lula had declared it “absurd” that he would support Capriles, and even campaignedagainst him and for Hugo Chavez.

Perhaps the most egregious Venezuelan example of this phenomenon was during the briefly successful US-backed coup of 2002. As business mogul Pedro Carmona was installing himself as a dictator, dissolving the constitution and firing every elected official in the country, declaring that he could rule by decree—and while hundreds of people were killed, imprisoned or publicly tortured—the New York Times (4/13/02) presented him as a savior. The paper editorialized, “Venezuela is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator”—meaning Chávez. Elsewhere (4/13/02) it called Carmona a “respected business leader” and a “level-headed” and “meek” “conciliator,” uninterested in personal power.

An iron law of journalism

This phenomenon of presenting any political figure Washington approves of as a centrist, moderate or other positively charged words is hardly confined to Venezuela. In fact, it is virtually an iron law of journalism that descriptions of US government-friendly groups will be designed to signal readers that they deserve support.

For instance, Guaidó was described (New York Times3/3/19) as enjoying support both from right-wing governments and Ecuador’s “center-left president,” Lenin Moreno. This is a highly questionable framing of Moreno’s position, considering that  immediately after being elected, he offered to work with right-wing parties, cut the salaries of government employees, met with Trump officials to discuss handing over WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange (living in asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy) and very publicly went to war with his predecessor and former mentor, leftist President Rafael Correa. Even the Financial Times (1/2/18) noted that he was “unpicking Ecuador’s left-wing legacy.” However, this has met with approval in Washington, hence his subsequent  designation as “moderate” (Financial Times12/28/18Washington Post2/5/18).

Going back to the 1980s, the Washington-backed far-right Contra paramilitaries in Nicaragua were referred to as the “equivalent of the founding fathers” by President Ronald Reagan (New York Times3/2/85) and as “moderates” in the media  (e.g., LA Times2/20/85).

The US-backed administration of El Salvador’s José Napoleón Duarte presided over some of the worst massacres and human rights abuses in Central American history. Yet the New York Times(6/8/88) presented Duarte as a “decent democrat” “deserving of sympathy and appreciation,” who was “beset on the left by dogmatic Marxist insurgents and on the right by death squads.” By conveniently ignoring Duarte’s links to those same right-wing death squads, the Times was able to present him as “holding the center ground” and being a “moderating” influence in Salvadoran politics, rather than a perpetrator of the violence.

Meanwhile, the label “moderate” was used by the Christian Science Monitor (2/6/87) to describe Indonesian military dictator General Suharto, who presided over a genocide against ethnically Chinese Indonesians in 1965–66 (FAIR.org10/18/17), and again in East Timor after 1975 (Extra!11–12/93). What made Suharto’s mass killing “moderate,” of course, was the active support of Washington (Extra!9–10/98).

Indeed, even Hitler himself was approvingly described by the State Department in 1937 as a “moderate” between the extremes of the German left and right. Leading news outlets likewise saw “a new moderation in the political atmosphere” of Nazi Germany (New York Times, 3/7/33) or “indications of moderation” on Hitler’s part (Philadelphia Daily Bulletin, 1/30/33; both cited in Daily Beast12/20/15).

The most notorious recent example of the media wishfully finding moderation is surely the case of Syria, where US-backed rebels are often prefixed by the term “moderate” (CNN1/16/15NPR4/8/17Wall Street Journal5/28/14) to distinguish them from jihadist groups like Al Qaeda/Al Nusra, Washington’s official enemies, although the line between them is frequently blurry, as Gareth Porter (FAIR.org3/21/16) has previously exposed. “Moderate” groups often work hand in glove with extremist forces. The Washington Post (2/19/16) admitted as much when it noted that moderate rebel forces were “intermingled” with jihadists, making negotiations problematic.

Very often, terms like “moderate,” “centrist” or “democrat” are not used in media to refer to any particular political outlook, but rather are used as a framing mechanism to convey the media’s approval—which usually depends on US government support. Regardless of their actions or political outlook, groups with media and official endorsement will be rewarded with such monikers.

In contrast, those media disapprove of will be denied such titles. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is dismissed as part of the “loony left” (Washington Post, 2/13/19), and Bernie Sanders is described as “far-left” (Detroit News3/18/19), largely on the basis of his support for Medicare for All. Though Ocasio-Cortez’s core platform enjoys widespread public support (FAIR.org1/23/19), and Medicare for All has gotten as much as 70 percent support in polls (The Hill8/23/18), these sorts of politicians are never going to be granted the “moderate” seal of approval.

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Venezuela, US Solidarity, and the Future of Socialism


NOVANEWS

Despite committed work by relatively isolated intellectuals and activists, too many social democrats in the US—willing to attack Trump on almost anything else—have either remained relatively quiet or (worse) largely accepted the premises of his imperialist foreign policy

Protestors rally in support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro outside the Venezuelan Consulate in Midtown Manhattan, January 24, 2019 in New York City. The Trump administration, along with several other governments in the region, had just recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as “Interim President” of the Latin American nation. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In the late 1990s and early 2000s popular forces in Latin America ushered in what came to be known as the pink tide, a hemispheric backlash against neoliberalism.  Latin Americans succeeded in electing a diverse group of left-of-center leaders who advocated anti-neoliberal policies that ranged from limited income redistribution to more ambitious nationalization schemes.  By the mid-2000s, with the Latin American right in seeming disarray, many observers located the region’s dynamism within the struggle between “two lefts”—a “good” left, personified by Lula of Brazil, and a “bad” left, represented most prominently by Chávez in Venezuela.  Whereas Lula and the moderate left played by market rules, worked with opponents, and respected political systems, the more radical-populist left of Chávez openly mocked and challenged existing institutions, opponents, and property.

What is striking, given all that was made of the differences between the paths and policies of the two lefts, is not only how remarkably similar the current violence, subversion of democracy, and devastating poverty are in both Brazil and Venezuela.  It is how the two countries got from there to here, from relatively stable left-leaning governments that were able to reproduce themselves over time to a coup-like collapse orchestrated by a radical right that views even moderate reformers as enemies to be exterminated.

“The inability of the US left to frame how Venezuela was understood during the high point of Chavismo has left us largely helpless now, a failure of solidarity that has had ongoing consequences for Venezuela.”

A lot of forces have driven this reversal, but part of the struggle has been an ideological one over how to understand socialism and left leaning rule.  Over time, and often in direct contradiction to on-the-ground reality (aka the truth), the Venezuelan right—with considerable “solidarity” from US conservatives—has been (sufficiently) successful in framing Chavez and Maduro as authoritarian dictators who violate human rights, undermine capitalist freedom, and enact irresponsible economic policy.

The US left, by contrast, was never able to frame Chavismo in more positive terms in the United States, even during the 2000s when there was a lot to crow about in Venezuela.  This failure, in turn, made it that much easier to subsequently label Maduro as an authoritarian dictator while providing cover for the Venezuelan right to ascend and (quite literally) get away with murder.  Put another way, the inability of the US left to frame how Venezuela was understood during the high point of Chavismo has left us largely helpless now, a failure of solidarity that has had ongoing consequences for Venezuela.  More than this, it has implications for the future of progressive change in the United States because stoking fears about “another Venezuela” has become a go-to trope in the right’s toolkit for opposing even modest changes to state initiatives around healthcare or decent wages in the US.

*  *  *

It is worth emphasizing at the outset that the primary forces behind recent events in both Brazil and Venezuela should not be located in the laundry list of criticisms that US observers across the political spectrum have thrown at leftish governments in Latin America, namely corruption, repression, the erosion of democratic norms, and reckless economic policies.  To be sure, there have been elements of each in Brazil and Venezuela over the past two decades (as there are in all governments), but these are symptoms of class war more than causes of the current disaster.

The irony of Chávez, as Greg Grandin has pointed out, was not that he was too authoritarian, but that he was not authoritarian enough.  On the one hand, this is what made Chavismo so inspiring. Unlike “left-authoritarians” of Latin America’s past, some of whom quickly and violently turned on the masses, Chávez cultivated and mobilized “the people” throughout his decade-plus in office.  He knew how central the popular classes were to both his continued rule and a better Venezuela. They were rarely, if ever, the target of authoritarian tendencies, and in fact became central protagonists in the country’s political life for (in many cases) the first time in Venezuelan history.

On the other hand, although Chávez was quite good at mocking and challenging the opposition, in retrospect it seems clear that he may have squandered what brief opportunity there was to thoroughly neuter the dominant class and its political arm.  This speaks to the difficulty of implementing socialism within the contradictory confines of representative democracy, constitutions, and property regimes that are set up to support capitalism. It requires constantly winning and moving the public debate, persuading, organizing, and mobilizing popular sectors to not only forge viable coalitions to win elections, but to occupy and transform the state while both confronting capitalism directly and creating new sources of political and economic power.  This is a difficult and dangerous balancing act, and one that even Chavismo could not finesse indefinitely. It is virtually impossible to sustain popular movements for long periods, especially radical ones that seek to fundamentally challenge political and economic power. The moment for dismantling the dominant class will always be ephemeral.

“Although Chávez was quite good at mocking and challenging the opposition, in retrospect it seems clear that he may have squandered what brief opportunity there was to thoroughly neuter the dominant class and its political arm.”

Whether or not there was ever such a moment in Venezuela is debatable, but Chávez certainly never seized it during the height of his power – when a more “authoritarian” approach to private property and the Venezuelan elite might have been possible and game-changing.   High oil prices and an ultimately disastrous currency-exchange rate allowed Chávez to provide the poor with services and reduce inequality without fully confronting the dominant class or existing problems within the civilian or military bureaucracies. What this meant was that when oil prices eventually declined, and popular support became less robust, the right—which never lost the core of its economic power—was able to reestablish itself politically.  The resurgence of the right, and along with it a greatly intensified and chaos-inducing class war, spelled doom for socialism in Venezuela, and also amplified the context in which corruption, violence, and poverty blossomed. A different, but somewhat parallel, process played out in Brazil.

The ideological part of this battle was one that Chávez relished and waged with considerable skill both within and beyond Venezuela.  What has always been a bit surprising, however, especially given the recent outpouring of commentary in relation to Trump and US involvement in the Guaidó coup attempt, is how little help Chavismo received from the US left during the height of Venezuelan revolutionary activity in the 2000s – during a moment when there was a lot more in Venezuela for the US left to get behind than simply advocating for abstract notions of sovereignty and non-intervention.  At the time, in part because Chávez had such a bold presence on the world stage, and in part because he cultivated so many allies in Latin America and elsewhere, the relative absence of US-based solidarity hardly seemed noteworthy. Nor was it entirely surprising given that the left in the United States barely existed and had never been able to coalesce around anti-neoliberalism in the way that Latin Americans had done.

Yet, even after the recession of 2008 produced a deeper discussion about material inequality in the United States, the US left was still not drawn to Venezuela in large numbers – despite the fact that Chavismo provided ample “teaching moments” about political mobilization and the potential of state power to redistribute wealth, combat poverty, broaden educational opportunities, etc.  More importantly, the US left was never able to reshape (or really even contest) the mainstream framing of Venezuela – which quickly cohered around “Venezuela” as an undemocratic country run by an unhinged authoritarian who threatened capitalist freedom and was thus morally subject to a human rights intervention by the United States. This failure of solidarity and the inability to reframe Venezuela was remarkable given how far the mainstream myth was from on-the-ground reality; even with the truth on our side, attempts by the left to correct the record were muted and never really penetrated the political establishment (which speaks to the overall weakness of the left, particularly with respect to the major foreign policy issues of our time).  The consequences of this were unclear through the first decade and a half of the new century. Who cared how “off” the US public, media, and political establishment were about Venezuela as long as Chavismo hummed along and retained considerable support in Latin America and elsewhere?

When the situation started to really head south in Venezuela, however, and the right regrouped and waged a venomous form of class warfare, the demonization of Chavismo made it all the more easy to define Maduro as illegitimate.  This not only allowed some within the US political establishment to attach a higher moral purpose to proposed US interventions that should have otherwise been quickly opposed as imperialist aggression. This framing of Maduro as an illegitimate dictator also created considerable space and freedom of movement for a Venezuelan right that was committing atrocities and acts of treason that would have landed them in jail in any other country.  With Maduro uncritically defined as illegitimate, right-wing thugs with little political base beyond the oligarchy were given considerable cover for all sorts of horrific behavior. This occurred partly through a sort of right-wing international solidarity coming most recently from the likes of Marco Rubio, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Elliot Abrams, etc. In all too many circles, they became popular freedom fighters.

“What has been astounding about all of Trump’s saber rattling around Venezuela is the inability of the social democratic wing of the Democratic Party to respond in a meaningful or even vaguely satisfying way. “

In this respect, what has been astounding about all of Trump’s saber rattling around Venezuela is the inability of the social democratic wing of the Democratic Party to respond in a meaningful or even vaguely satisfying way.  Some might say this is par for the course from a party that has disappointment written into its DNA. Think for a minute, however, about how the progressive wing of the Democratic Party tore into Nixon-Kissinger over human rights violations in Chile, or how it responded to the Reagan administration’s aggressions in Central America.  These were, of course, quite different moments and cases, and the depth and coherence of the Democratic response can easily be overstated. But aside from any moral motivations for opposing US foreign policy in the 1970s and 1980s, Democrats rightly saw Chile and Central America as political opportunities to go on the offensive against both a vulnerable president in Nixon and a highly popular one in Reagan.

By contrast, with Trump, an immensely unpopular President, Democrats have never found their footing with respect to Venezuela or foreign policy more generally.  While the liberal establishment defined by Pelosi and her ilk quickly lined up behind Trump’s Venezuela policy, the social democratic wing stumbled, and often accepted—with little critical reflection—Trump’s claim that Maduro was illegitimate.  Bernie blew it. Ocasio-Cortez awkwardly oscillated between silence and an overly simplistic version of the authoritarian, anti-democratic, line. Others, such as Ilhan Omar, were noticeably better, but there has been nothing resembling a critical, coherent, pushback (fortunately, Maduro is holding onto the Venezuelan military).

There are, of course, reasons for this.  There isn’t much left to hold onto in Venezuela, which leaves calls to respect the country’s sovereignty and appeals for non-intervention appear as sufficient expressions of solidarity.  Likewise, Democrats may not want to divert attention away from their domestic attack on Trump (though it is hard to go after his foreign policy when they largely lack an alternative/progressive vision of their own).

But the broader point is that the narrowness of the debate and lack of current options is due partly to the fact that the ideological framing with respect to Venezuela was set during the Chávez years – whereby Venezuela was ideologically defined as a country run by an authoritarian dictator in need of human rights intervention. The failure to effectively challenge this framing, and therefore lay the groundwork for entirely different kinds of debates and conversations, is attributable to numerous factors, but is at least partially due to the inability of the US left to shape the debate in any meaningful way, or at least to the point where a progressive framing permeated the social democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

“The inability to reframe how the US understands Venezuela—to at least minimally see it through a more sophisticated lens that understands the right wing for what it is—is important for the future of Venezuela, but also for the future of socialism in the United States.”

Here again, Chile and Central America are useful examples, if only in the sense that there had been a small, but visible, US left working in solidarity with Chileans and Central Americans before the respective situations deteriorated enough to place those countries on the US public’s radar.  It was this left that progressives within the Democratic Party turned to as they sought to understand events and challenge the Nixon and Reagan administrations. In fact, it is hard to imagine how they would have understood these conflicts in the absence of a left working with Chilean and Central American allies both in Latin America and in exile in the United States (on this, the large and loud presence of anti-Chavista Venezuelans in the United States has been an important difference that has been key in shaping public opinion).

Despite committed work by relatively isolated intellectuals and activists, there was/is no similar US left with respect to Venezuela, which helps explain why social democrats, who are willing to attack Trump on almost anything, have either remained relatively quiet or (worse) largely accepted the premises of his imperialist foreign policy.  Without a left, they are rudderless, clueless, or simply complicit with Trump’s foreign policy agenda.

The inability to reframe how the US understands Venezuela—to at least minimally see it through a more sophisticated lens that understands the right wing for what it is—is important for the future of Venezuela, but also for the future of socialism in the United States.  At a moment when growing concern about inequality has led to a broader rethinking of the role of government in the United States, Venezuela remains a popular refrain among Republicans who sound hysterical alarms about “becoming another Venezuela” every time a Democrat mentions something about decent healthcare or increasing the minimum wage.  The continued importance of other countries for understanding how the US sees itself remains an important reason why we must rebuild the US left, including its internationalist expressions.

Posted in USA, VenezuelaComments Off on Venezuela, US Solidarity, and the Future of Socialism

‘Akin to a Tripwire’: Russian Troops in Venezuela Complicate U.S. Regime Change Plans


NOVANEWS

The Russian move may stymie, or at least slow, U.S. efforts to overthrow the Venezuelan government.

Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on October 4, 2017 in Moscow, Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on October 4, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Russia’s involvement in the Venezuelan crisis has American officials crying foul as U.S. plans for regime change in the Latin American country are now facing further complications.

U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino, in a statement related to a conversation Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, said that the U.S. “will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela” after between 99 and 100 Russian troops and one defense official arrived in the Latin American country Saturday, complicating efforts by the U.S. to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

View image on Twitter

Steve Herman

@W7VOA

US and regional countries “will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela,” @SecPompeo has told his Russian counterpart, according to @StateDept.

“The continued insertion of Russian military personnel to support the illegitimate regime Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela risks prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people,” Palladino’s statement continued.

Michele Kelemen

@michelekelemen

The State Dept says Pompeo called Russia’s FM to tell him that the US “will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela. The continued insertion of Russian military personnel” to support Maduro, Pompeo warns, “risks prolonging the suffering” of Venezuelans.

Russia and Venezuela are strengthening their diplomatic and military ties as the U.S. ramps up rhetoric and sanctions and masses troops on the Venezuelan border with Colombia.

Saturday’s move indicates that Russian President Vladimir Putin is stepping up his country’s support of the Latin American country and its elected leader as Venezuela attempts to survive escalating economic and political crises.

View image on Twitter

Prof. Steve Hanke

@steve_hanke

More Russian soldiers unload in to help prop up Pres. . The Ilyushin IL-62M is used to carry military personnel and frequently flies troops from to Syria — indeed it stopped in on its way from Russia to .

The military personnel are in Venezuela “to take part in consultations with country’s officials on defense industry cooperation,” according to the Russian news agency Sputnik. Noting that the visit was related to contracts that were signed two years ago, a Russian defense official told Sputnik there was “nothing mysterious” about the visit.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Anthony Boadle

@AnthonyBoadle

Russian air force planes land in carrying troops: reports https://reut.rs/2TtNsk8 

By putting its troops on the ground in Venezuela, Russia is sending a clear message to Washington that the Latin American country is under the Kremlin’s protection. President Donald Trump’s administration has continually ratcheted up tensions with Venezuela for Trump’s term in office.

The Russian move may stymie, or at least slow, U.S. efforts to change the Venezuelan government, but proponents of war and military action are still pushing forward with their plans.

“Today my bill, the Russia-Venezuelan Threat Mitigation Act, goes to the House floor, requiring a State Department threat assessment of Russian influence in Venezuela,” tweeted Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).

Rep. Wasserman Schultz

@RepDWStweets

Russian military officials arrived in Venezuela this weekend. Today my bill, the Russia-Venezuelan Threat Mitigation Act, goes to the House floor, requiring a State Department threat assessment of Russian influence in Venezuela

What Russia is doing by putting troops on the ground, as Washington Institute fellow Soner Cagaptay pointed out, is deterring American aggression—a tactic the Russians learned from the U.S.

“Russia’s deployment of a small number of troops to Venezuela is akin to tripwire, not unlike the ‘small U.S. troop presence’ in the Baltics, which has deterred direct Russian military intervention in that region,” said Cagapaty.

Soner Cagaptay

@SonerCagaptay

Russia’s deployment of a small number of troops to Venezuela is akin to tripwire, not unlike the “small US troop presence” in the Baltics, which has deterred direct Russian military intervention in that region.

Dimitar Bechev@DimitarBechev

Syria model – light footprint to stop regime change but not overcommit Russian military? https://twitter.com/dimitarbechev/status/1110165927386103808 

 

 

 

 

Posted in USA, Russia, VenezuelaComments Off on ‘Akin to a Tripwire’: Russian Troops in Venezuela Complicate U.S. Regime Change Plans

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