The Little Golden Book of American Regime Changes


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EXCITED ABOUT YOUR FIRST REGIME CHANGE?

Let’s begin with Chile

Jon Jeter / Mint Press News

On September 11,1973, General Augusto Pinochet’s troops stormed Chile’s presidential palace. Organized by Henry Kissinger and the CIA, the coup targeted Chile’s popular socialist President Salvador Allende, who the Nixon administration feared was another Fidel Castro in-the-making. As the attack unfolded, workers in the basement of a Santiago publishing house shop were hard at work printing what was to be the military junta’s 500-page economic plan.

Villa Grimaldi: Chiles memorial to victims of torture

CHILE’S FACES OF TORTURE: Over 30,000 people were tortured by the CIA- sponsored Pinochet regime. (Villa Grimaldi Memorial)

 

Believing himself to be a messianic figure, Pinochet put his faith in a coterie of young Chilean advisers who had trained under Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago’s School of Economics, the academic vanguard of neo-classical economics. With his bloody crackdown on dissidents, artists, college students and union leaders, Pinochet’s repressive regime censored the press, banned labor unions and political opposition parties, murdered an estimated 5,000 leftists, tortured another 30,000 and handed the “Chicago Boys” – as they came to be known – a blank check to remake Allende’s nationalized economy, and return the country at South America’s southwestern edge into the Empire’s orbit.

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Nearly 15 years before economists coined the phrase “Washington consensus,” and a decade before Reagan’s trickle-down policies began dismantling the New Deal in the U.S., Chile was the guinea pig for anti-Keynesian macroeconomic policies designed to fatten corporations’ share of global wealth. Pinochet slashed duties on imports, from an average tariff rate of 94 percent in 1973 to 10 percent by 1979. He privatized all but two dozen of Chile’s 300 state-owned banks, as well as utilities and entitlements such as social security. By 1979, he had cut public spending almost in half and public investment by nearly 14 percent. He lowered taxes, restricted union activities and returned more than a third of the land seized under Allende’s land-reform program.

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Pinochet’s reforms worked like a fast-acting virus. A recession in 1975 caused Chile’s economy to shrink by 13 percent, its greatest decline since the Great Depression. The recovery that followed was fueled largely by foreign cash, which poured into the country as investors gobbled up utilities and stashed money in Chile’s currency markets. The prices of imports fell sharply; between 1975 and 1982 the number of foreign cars sold in Chile tripled. Domestic manufacturing shriveled by 30 percent. Domestic savings plummeted. Wages fell, and the income gap between rich and poor widened by a factor of 50.Monetary policy was liberalized on two important fronts. First, Pinochet allowed “hot money” — speculation on the currency market — to flow in and out of the country without obstacle. And in 1979 he fixed the exchange rate for Chile’s peso, requiring the central bank to keep $1 in reserve for every 39 pesos printed. This kept the bank from merely printing money to pay bills and curbed an inflation rate that had soared to nearly 400 percent annually under Allende.

By 1982, Chile had accumulated $16 billion in foreign debt — nearly $42 billion in today’s dollars — and foreign investment represented a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product. The money flowing into the country flowed out just as easily, to pay debts and bills for imported goods and through capital flight as investors soured on Chile’s currency market. The economy had overheated and was now in a meltdown.

With a third of the workforce unemployed and unrest growing, by 1984 Pinochet began to “reform the reforms,” the Chilean economist Ricardo Ffrench-Davis said in a 2003 interview.

Pinochet allowed the peso to float and reinstated restrictions on the movement of capital in and out of the country. He introduced banking legislation, and ratcheted up spending on research and development efforts through quasi-governmental institutions and other collaborations between the public and private sectors — creating, as one example, the billion-dollar salmon farming industry out of whole cloth.

 

 Penitenceria prison in Santiago

 

Still, Chile’s economic woes persisted. By 1989, real wages had declined by 40 percent from 1973, and the percentage of the population living in poverty had doubled to 40 percent. The number of Chileans without adequate housing had also climbed to 40 percent, up 13 percentage points from Allende’s final year in office. The country’s poor consumed 1,629 calories per-day-on average, compared to 2,019 in 1973.

Ill-fed, and ill-housed, Chileans began to refer to the cadre of advisers not as the Chicago Boys but as Si, Cago; Voy — which translates to “Yes, I shit; I go.”

FILE- A man lights a candle at the National Stadium, that served as a detention center in the early years of the military dictatorship, during a vigil marking the 42nd anniversary of the military coup that ousted the late President Salvador Allende, in Santiago, Chile.
 A man lights a candle at the National Stadium, that served as a detention center in the early years of the military dictatorship, during a vigil marking the 42nd anniversary of the military coupA plebiscite in 1989 ended Pinochet’s rule and Chileans gradually began to reorganize their economy. Since 1990, it has consistently been Latin America’s strongest performer. But in its violent, fascist crackdown on the left and its fealty to Wall Street bankers, Chile under Pinochet presaged the entirety of the United States’ global class war against workers — in Argentina and Zambia; Flint and Venezuela; Philadelphia to Greece; Haiti, Iraq, Ukraine, Honduras; Russia in its post-Cold war transitional period, and South Africa after the collapse of apartheid.

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The two 9/11s twenty-eight years apart bracket the United States’ descent into madness. Much like the vintner’s abolition of the dop, the downing of the Twin Towers should’ve triggered some soul-searching in the United States, and an examination of our accumulation of stuff through the dispossession of other human beings. As we mourn the losses on that Indian-summer day in 2001, what we need to contemplate is redemption, not revenge — and how we might begin to rejoin a human community that we’ve wronged, again and again and again.

Image result for Pinochet regime prisonsFamilies and supporters of victims of the Pinochet regime demonstrate in Santiago in remembrance

God Bless America. . and everyone else too.

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NOTE: The introductory paragraphs of this article by Mint Press News writer Jon Jeter were omitted for length, and all photos/caps were added. To see the original post, as well as links to Jon Jeter’s impressive body of work, click on his name at the top of the screen.

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VIENTOS DE PUEBLO (WINDS OF THE PEOPLE)  Victor Jara

Once more, they want to stain my country with workers’ blood.

I want to live now with my child and my friend, to go together toward the springtime we’re building each day.

You masters of misery can’t scare me with your threats;

The star of hope continues to be ours!

Winds of the people bear me, carry me, blow through

my throat so that I can go on singing even when death takes me,

down the roads of the people.

EXCERPT 

 

EXCLUSIVE FROM CUBA !

 

22 photos géniales qui nous ont fortement impressionnés

Enterprising Cubans are training replacements  ( pictured above) to serve on the nation’s local chapters of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution.  Government complaints that the new comrades are overly conscientious have been greeted with national hilarity.   President Raul Castro recently announced that he is sending the one hundred top new Defenders to the U.S in a historic gesture of goodwill to Cuba’s thousands of Miami Relatives. Miami has reportedly asked the CIA how many small planes and automatic weapons it will trade in exchange for 100 highly trained communists.

The Cuban public was not impressed.

“Big deal,” said  several of the  23 doctors who happened to stroll by during Electrica’s fifteen minute  man-in-the-street interview in downtown Havana. “Cuba is full of highly trained communists. ”

The remaining 20 physicians either snorted or laughed, as did the 47 world class musicians,  32 internationally famous dancers, 12 poets, 83 artists, seven engineers, 15 craftsmen, six cigar makers,  several rum experts, ten winning Olympic athletes and a small crowd of laughing Rastafarians.

Also, an old man selling bananas illegally from a wheelbarrow

“We know there will be changes in Cuba’s future “, pronounced a popular and handsome orchestra leader, who sat on the front steps of a crumbling old mansion divided into fourteen tiny apartments.  He laughed loudly and added, ” But anyone who shows up from Miami whining about getting his grandfather’s land  back will be immediately shipped to North Korea.”

Leonardo Oña / Havana Times

 

Havana Times photo

Meanwhile,  Raul has strictly prohibited all canine members of the Committee  for the Defense of the Revolution from sniffing any Party member in public.

“It’s times like this that the president  misses his brother most,” confided Venezuelan leader Nicholas Madura, as he arrived in Havana to lend his support to Raul. The Cuban president greeted  the former bus driver abrubtly, as Madero  stumbled over several of the CIA agents who had been underfoot throughout Venezuela for at least six or seven years.  Castro aimed a swift, well-placed kick at a senior agent as he stamped out of Jose Marti airport, followed by his presidential comrade, who had faced down  American intelligence to be democratically elected.   Castro had just snubbed Vladimir Putin’s offer to poison six rude Cuban bloggers and was in no mood for Russian or American mobsters, frivolous dissent, or ambitious dogs , regardless of breed.  Well, as Fidel had famously said, a revolution is no bed of roses.

Castro stopped, turned to face a crowd of Granma reporters and addressed the nation.

“Be  like  Che!”   he ordered, “Now, sit!”

Hundreds of good dogs immediately sat.

No further word from Havana at press time.

 

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Thank-you to Paul Siemering for sending me the great photo of the Committee in Defense of the Revolution that appears at the top of this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN EVERYONE’S A FASCIST, NO ONE’S A FASCIST

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BY CLAIRE O’BRIEN

Social media in recent years has been increasingly punctuated by accusations of “fascist!” and “Nazi!”, hurled back and forth with remarkable recklessness. Considering that we can’t define Republicanism (big R) or “middle-class”, its clear that as a nation, we’ve never had much of a political vocabulary to begin with.

Americans also don’t have a clear sense of history, and this lack becomes frighteningly important the more we toss historically vital connections around as if they are up for grabs. This is particularly true of Russia.

Neither Russia nor the former Soviet Union were/are fascist states, although the USSR came close under Stalin. The USSR’s most historically significant connection to facism is the 50 million lives it lost defending the Eastern Front (by itself) against real fascists during World War Two.

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Above: Real Nazis

The other Allies began planning to betray the Russians well before the victory that would not have possible without them – and every agreement made with the USSR was broken soon after the war’s end.

Trump is not a fascist either. He is an unfettered capitalist, representing an economic system directly responsible for many of the world’s bloodiest, most repressive dictatorships. Let’s not obscure the nature of capitalism by labeling it’s crimes and champions fascist.

Fascism is a specific political ideology with its own history and body of theory. It has maintained itself as such since its development in 1920s Italy, periodically emerging during periods of crisis. Because the current global crisis represents an ideal climate for fascism’s development, it’s crucial that we stop throwing the word around. If every oppressive voice/interest is fascist, the term will lose its meaning – just when the need to recognize real fascism is more acute than it has been since the only real Nazis were defeated in 1945.

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  Mussolini reviewing troops

 

Venezuela: A Revolution That Will Not Die

 

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This is not a revolution that can be undone with one election, nor can it be simply legislated out of existence. Much has been written about the outcome of Venezuela’s Dec. 6 legislative elections, with many of the analyses justifiably focusing on the shortcomings of the Socialist Party (PSUV) and the difficulty of the current state of affairs in the country. Indeed, even before the political body was cold, post-mortem examinations abounded in the corporate and alternative media, with dissections of seemingly every aspect of the Bolivarian Republic’s political, economic, and social life.

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But what these journalists and political analysts often overlook is the determination of the core of the Bolivarian Revolution, the radical base that is committed to preserving what Hugo Chavez began building more than 17 years ago. This is not a revolution that can be undone with one election, nor can it be simply legislated out of existence. This Revolution will not, as some cynics have argued, be brought down by the weight of its own contradictions, or by internal rot and corruption, or by external forces such as assassinations and economic destabilization.

Instead, the Revolution will survive. It will be resurgent. It will be reborn thanks to the commitment of millions of dedicated Chavistas.

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While one may take this as an article of faith, it is instead a conclusion born of experience in Venezuela, one that is informed by dozens of conversations with activists and organizers whose words of love and dedication to the revolution are matched only by their actions to build it.

In building the Revolution, these men, women, and children are pledged to defend it.

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The Revolution’s Flesh Wounds

The election results, and the social problems from which they sprang, are undeniably a comment on the level of discontent that many Venezuelans feel, both toward their government and the general state of affairs in the country. To read the corporate media, one would think this is the end for the Bolivarian Revolution, that the defeat at the polls is a repudiation of the entire program of the PSUV and its allied political parties. But such a reading belies the reality and resilience of the revolutionary process, one that has seen and overcome great challenges before.

 

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In April 2002, the U.S.-backed opposition in Venezuela staged a coup against then President Chavez in a desperate attempt to reassert their control over the country and extinguish the Bolivarian Revolution. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans poured into the streets of Caracas, with millions more in other parts of the country, calling for Chavez to be restored tohis rightful office, and for the coup leaders to be arrested. There was really no doubt that the U.S. was responsible for this attempt at forced regime change, with many mainstream news outlets reporting within days that high-ranking officials in the Bush administration were intimately involved in orchestrating the coup.

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Although it may seem like a mere historical footnote 13 years later, the failed coup was a watershed moment in Venezuela –a proving ground for the Revolution – when the people for whom Chavez and the Bolivarian process meant a better future dared to challenge U.S. hegemony and the attempted reestablishment of political power by the capitalist ruling class.

But April 2002 represented even more than just resistance to Washington. The restoration of Chavez to power was a demonstration of the steadfastness with which Venezuelans were prepared to defend their Revolution from external threats, even ones that until 1998 had seemed omnipotent. It showed for the first (but certainly not the last) time that the Revolution would not, and could not, be undone by the dirty tricks of the Empire and its comprador class inside the country.

In the years since 2002 Venezuela has repeatedly been the target of political, economic, and social destabilization by the United States. These coordinated attempts have increased exponentially since the death of Chavez in 2013 and the election of current President Nicolas Maduro. Such subversion has taken many forms, including the use of highly effective and well-planned forms of psychological warfare through the manipulation of media and public opinion.

In 2007, author and investigative journalist Eva Golinger revealed that Washington was funding a program to provide financial support to Venezuelan journalists hostile to Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. Indeed, the effort was aimed at influencing public opinion through the right-wing media, shaping the views of Venezuelans against their government. A battle-tested method of destabilization by the CIA, such tactics of psychological warfare were documented in the CIA’s Psychological Operations in Guerilla Warfare, a manual distributed to the contras in Nicaragua as Washington attempted to bring down the Sandinista government in the 1980s. As noted here, the CIA wanted to determine “the needs and frustration of the target groups … [and create a] generalized anti-government hostility.” The objective was to create the false impression in the minds of the population that the government was “the cause of their frustration.”

This has been done to great effect in Venezuela. The right-wing media in the country has done everything in its power to undermine the government, and heap all blame onto the PSUV, including for the effects of the economic war waged against it. According to the right wing media, it is President Maduro and the entire government, along with the movement they represent, that has created and exacerbated all these problems with ineptitude and failed policies. While undoubtedly mistakes have been made, it is equally true that many of the major problems in the country were compounded by economic sabotage. The salient point here though is that an economic war is transformed into a psychological war, one that figured prominently in the recent elections.

Indeed, the economic war is critical to understanding the current state of the country. In the wake of the opposition’s victory at the polls, basic goods started magically reappearing on store shelves in Venezuela, yet another indication that much of the scarcity can be attributed not to failed economic policies, but rather to a coordinated campaign of economic subversion.  Similarly, some of the problems of inflation and sale of contraband can be directly attributed to the U.S.-backed opposition and its patrons in Miami and Washington. This is certainly not to absolve the government of all blame, but rather to point out that Venezuela and its Revolution have been directly targeted by the forces of the Empire.

The destabilization of the country is also very much overt, with assassinations playing a key role. Perhaps no targeted killing has had a greater impact on the country and the Revolution than the 2014 assassination of Robert Serra, a young, up-and-coming legislator from the PSUV who was murdered by individuals connected to former Colombian President and self-declared enemy of the Bolivarian Revolution, Alvaro Uribe.  A young, photogenic, and deeply committed activist and legislator, Serra was seen by many as the future of the PSUV and of the Chavista movement in the country.  His murder was interpreted by millions as a direct assault on the Revolution and the future of the country.

 

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Walking through the radical, working class neighborhoods of 23 January and El Valle, one is likely to find posters and/or graffiti scrawled on walls with the simple phrase “Robert Vive” (Robert Lives), and the iconic image of the young Serra – the future of the Revolution, gunned down before he even had a chance to lead.

And this is the reality of the Revolution: the U.S. and its proxies have done everything in their power to destroy the Bolivarian process. And yet, the Revolution carries on. This is more than just a slogan of resistance, it is objective fact.

Walking through the radical, working class neighborhoods of 23 January and El Valle, one is likely to find posters and/or graffiti scrawled on walls with the simple phrase “Robert Vive” (Robert Lives), and the iconic image of the young Serra – the future of the Revolution, gunned down before he even had a chance to lead.

And this is the reality of the Revolution: the U.S. and its proxies have done everything in their power to destroy the Bolivarian process. And yet, the Revolution carries on. This is more than just a slogan of resistance, it is objective fact.

These elections, which took place amid deteriorating economic conditions and an intense psychological and economic war, still saw more than 5 million Venezuelans cast votes for the PSUV and the Revolution, for socialism and anti-imperialism.

Rumors of Chavismo’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. This dream, this revolution, will not die.

This piece first appeared at TeleSur.

Eric Draitser is the founder of StopImperialism.org and host of CounterPunch Radio. He is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. You can reach him at ericdraitser@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Havana Times Photo Contest

Eduardo Javier Garcia

Leonardo Oña

Carolyn Looby

 Mariska Verbeij.

                                      Bill Klipp

 

EZLN Letter To Doña Emilia Aurora Sosa Marín

 Zapatista Youth and Women Among those Gathered in La Realidad _______________________________________

    ” The struggle is not a conjunctural lightning bolt that illuminates everything and then disappears in an instance. It is a light that, although tiny, is nourished every day at all hours. It does not presume to be unique or omnipotent.

Its objective is to join with others, not to light up a monument, but to illuminate the path so we don’t get lost.”

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From a recent letter from the Zapatistas to the compañera of Honorary Major Insurgent Félix Serdán Nájera. 

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The War on Venezuela’s Democracy – A Thwarted Coup Attempt

14 February 2015

This is a typical case of neoliberal Washington paid thugs and mercenaries false-flagging ‘undesired’ governments into chaos, for ‘regime change’ – and then being taken over by the US, subjugating the population to US dictate and stealing the country’s resources.

Expressions of solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution in the wake of the foiled coup attempt.

 

Being subjected to the constant stream of lies by the six Anglo-Saxon mega-media corporations controlling 90% of the western information – ‘news’ – system, it is easy to brainwash the western population into believing that the culprit is the Maduro government, exercising police repression.

We have seen it happen in Ukraine – where currently the Kiev Nazi government (sic) led civil war is killing thousands of citizens in the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine, putting millions of people into absolute misery in a cold winter depriving them of energy and food – a million and a half refugees fleeing to Russia— and – who is the culprit, Mr. Putin, of course. Since the all dominant criminal lie and propaganda media machine is still to this day hiding the evidence, that the Maidan coup d’état in February 2014 was instigated and prepared during many years, and eventually directed and paid for by Washington and NATO.

Young Venezuelans march for peace in Caracas.

 

A similar case is today’s formal accusation of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of obstructing the investigation into the 1994 attack of the Jewish center AMIA that killed 85 people. This alleged car bomb attack follows a very similar attack demolishing the Israeli embassy in 1992. Last week the chief prosecutor of the case, Alberto Nisman, was found dead in his apartment, hours before publicly testifying about an alleged cover up by President Cristina Fernandez. She was allegedly covering up Iran’s involvement in the devastation of the two buildings, again allegedly because of an oil for meat and food grain deal between Argentina and Iran may be at stake. All circumstantial evidence, even by anonymous witnesses, points to an agreement between Washington and Israel to blame Iran for the disaster, killing two birds with one stroke – incriminating the inconvenient Argentinian President with the objective of ‘regime change’, and demonizing once more Iran. Both of these deadly aggressions bear the hallmark of false flags, carried out or instigated by the CIA and Mosad.

Does it then come as a surprise that Washington is instigating, organizing and paying for civil unrest in Caracas and other major cities, stage by stage, leading eventually to a coup and control of the media, including TeleSur? – There is nothing new in this ‘procedure’. It is actually old and full with ancient dirt, repeated umpteen times around the globe over the last century – and the western bought presstitute media, including of neutral Switzerland, trumpets around the world that President Maduro is a dictator and clamps down on protesters. What a shameful lie – misguidance of public opinion, brainwashing people into supporting more crime by the empire.

May public consciousness finally wake up!

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Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik News, the Voice of Russia / Ria Novosti, TeleSur, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. 

HAPPENING NOW: U.S. coup taking back Venezuela

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Venezuela: a Coup in Real Time

by EVA GOLINGER, author of The Chavez Code.She can be reached through her blog.
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There is a coup underway in Venezuela. The pieces are all falling into place like a bad CIA movie. At every turn a new traitor is revealed, a betrayal is born, full of promises to reveal the smoking gun that will justify the unjustifiable. Infiltrations are rampant, rumors spread like wildfire, and the panic mentality threatens to overcome logic. Headlines scream danger, crisis and imminent demise, while the usual suspects declare covert war on a people whose only crime is being gatekeeper to the largest pot of black gold in the world.

This week, as the New York Times showcased an editorial degrading and ridiculing Venezuelan President Maduro, labeling him “erratic and despotic” (“Mr. Maduro in his Labyrinth”, NYT January 26, 2015), another newspaper across the Atlantic headlined a hack piece accusing the President of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, and the most powerful political figure in the country after Maduro, of being a narcotics kingpin (“The head of security of the number two Chavista defects to the U.S. and accuses him of drug trafficking”, ABC, January 27, 2015). The accusations stem from a former Venezuelan presidential guard officer, Leasmy Salazar, who served under President Chavez and was recruited by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), now becoming the new “golden child” in Washington’s war on Venezuela.

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Two days later, the New York Times ran a front-page piece shaming the Venezuelan economy and oil industry, and predicting its downfall (“Oil Cash Waning, Venezuelan Shelves Lie Bare”, Jan. 29, 2015, NYT). Blaring omissions from the article include mention of the hundreds of tons of food and other consumer products that have been hoarded or sold as contraband by private distributors and businesses in order to create shortages, panic, discontent with the government and justify outrageous price hikes. Further, multiple ongoing measures taken by the government to overcome the economic difficulties were barely mentioned and completed disregarded.

Simultaneously, an absurdly sensationalist and misleading headline ran in several U.S. papers, in print and online, linking Venezuela to nuclear weapons and a plan to bomb New York City (“U.S. Scientist Jailed for Trying to Help Venezuela Build Bombs”, Jan. 30, 2015, NPR). While the headline leads readers to believe Venezuela was directly involved in a terrorist plan against the U.S., the actual text of the article makes clear that no Venezuelans were involved at all. The whole charade was an entrapment set up by the FBI, whose officers posed as Venezuelan officials to capture a disgruntled nuclear physicist who once worked at Los Alamos and had no Venezuela connection.

That same day, State Department spokeswoman Jan Psaki condemned the alleged “criminalization of political dissent” in Venezuela, when asked by a reporter about fugitive Venezuelan general Antonio Rivero’s arrival in New York to plea for support from the United Nations Working Committee on Arbitrary Detention. Rivero fled an arrest warrant in Venezuela after his involvement in violent anti-government protests that lead to the deaths of over 40 people, mainly government supporters and state security forces, last February. His arrival in the U.S. coincided with Salazar’s, evidencing a coordinated effort to debilitate Venezuela’s Armed Forces by publicly showcasing two high profile military officers – both former Chavez loyalists – that have been turned against their government and are actively seeking foreign intervention against their own country.

These examples are just a snapshot of increasing, systematic negative and distorted coverage of Venezuelan affairs in U.S. media, painting an exaggeratedly dismal picture of the country’s current situation and portraying the government as incompetent, dictatorial and criminal. While this type of coordinated media campaign against Venezuela is not new – media consistently portrayed former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, elected president four times by overwhelming majorities, as a tyrannical dictator destroying the country – it is clearly intensifying at a rapid, and concerning, pace.

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The New York Times has a shameful history when it comes to Venezuela. The Editorial Board blissfully applauded the violent coup d’etat in April 2002 that ousted President Chavez and resulted in the death of over 100 civilians. When Chavez was returned to power by his millions of supporters and loyal Armed Forces two days later, the Times didn’t recant it’s previous blunder, rather it arrogantly implored Chavez to “govern responsibly”, claiming he had brought the coup on himself. But the fact that the Times has now begun a persistent, direct campaign against the Venezuelan government with one-sided, distorted and clearly aggressive articles – editorials, blogs, opinion, and news – indicates that Washington has placed Venezuela on the regime change fast track.

The timing of Leamsy Salazar’s arrival in Washington as an alleged DEA collaborator, and his public exposure, is not coincidental. This February marks one year since anti-government protests violently tried to force President Maduro’s resignation, and opposition groups are currently trying to gain momentum to reignite demonstrations. The leaders of the protests, Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado, have both been lauded by The New York Times and other ‘respected’ outlets as “freedom fighters”, “true democrats”, and as the Times recently referred to Machado, “an inspiring challenger”. Even President Obama called for Lopez’s release from prison (he was detained and is on trial for his role in the violent uprisings) during a speech last September at an event in the United Nations. These influential voices willfully omit Lopez’s and Machado’s involvement and leadership of violent, undemocratic and even criminal acts. Both were involved in the 2002 coup against Chavez. Both have illegally received foreign funding for political activities slated to overthrow their government, and both led the lethal protests against Maduro last year, publicly calling for his ouster through illegal means.

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The utilization of a figure such as Salazar who was known to anyone close to Chavez as one of his loyal guards, as a force to discredit and attack the government and its leaders is an old-school intelligence tactic, and a very effective one. Infiltrate, recruit, and neutralize the adversary from within or by one of its own – a painful, shocking betrayal that creates distrust and fear amongst the ranks. While no evidence has surfaced to back Salazar’s outrageous claims against Diosdado Cabello, the headline makes for a sensational story and another mark against Venezuela in public opinion. It also caused a stir within the Venezuelan military and may result in further betrayals from officers who could support a coup against the government. Salazar’s unsubstantiated allegations also aim at neutralizing one of Venezuela’s most powerful political figures, and attempt to create internal divisions, intrigue and distrust.

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The most effective tactics the FBI used against the Black Panther Party and other radical movements for change in the United States were infiltration, coercion and psychological warfare. By inserting agents into these organizations, or recruiting from within, that were able to gain access and trust at the highest levels, the FBI was able to destroy these movements from the inside, breaking them down psychologically and neutralizing them politically. These clandestine tactics and strategies are thoroughly documented and evidenced in FBI and other US government documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and published in in Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall’s excellent book, Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement (South End Press, 1990).

Venezuela is suffering from the sudden and dramatic plummet in oil prices. The country’s oil-dependent economy has severely contracted and the government is taking measures to reorganize the budget and guarantee access to basic services and goods, but people are still experiencing difficulties. Unlike the dismal portrayal in The New York Times, Venezuelans are not starving, homeless or suffering from mass unemployment, as countries such as Greece and Spain have experienced under austerity policies. Despite certain shortages – some caused by currency controls and others by intentional hoarding, sabotage or contraband – 95% of Venezuelans consume three meals per day, an amount that has doubled since the 1990s. The unemployment rate is under 6% and housing is subsidized by the state.

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Nevertheless, making Venezuela’s economy scream is without a doubt a rapidly intensifying strategy executed by foreign interests and their Venezuelan counterparts, and it’s very effective. As shortages continue and access to dollars becomes increasingly difficult, chaos and panic ensue. This social discontent is capitalized on by U.S. agencies and anti-government forces in Venezuela pushing for regime change. A very similar strategy was used in Chile to overthrow socialist President Salvador Allende. First the economy was destroyed, then mass discontent grew and the military moved to oust Allende, backed by Washington at every stage. Lest we forget the result: a brutal dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet that tortured, assassinated, disappeared and forced into exile tens of thousands of people. Not exactly a model to replicate.

This year President Obama approved a special State Department fund of $5 million to support anti-government groups in Venezuela. Additionally, the congressionally-funded National Endowment for Democracy is financing Venezuelan opposition groups with over $1.2 million and aiding efforts to undermine Maduro’s government. There is little doubt that millions more for regime change in Venezuela are being funneled through other channels that are not subject to public scrutiny.

President Maduro has denounced these ongoing attacks against his government and has directly called on President Obama to cease efforts to harm Venezuela. Recently, all 33 Latin American and Caribbean nations, members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), publicly expressed support for Maduro and condemned ongoing U.S. interference in Venezuela. Latin America firmly rejects any attempts to erode democracy in the region and will not stand for another US-backed coup. It’s time Washington listen to the hemisphere and stop employing the same dirty tactics against its neighbors.

Eva Golinger is the author of The Chavez Code. She can be reached through her blog.

“TO SEE THE DAY AS IT SHOULD BE SEEN”

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Rebellion shelters the EZLN just like it did 20 years ago

La Jornada, 28 December 2013

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“To those who that night put their rucksacks and their history on their backs, to those who  took lightning and thunder into their hands, to those whose boots were shod with no future, to those who covered their faces and their names, to those who, without asking anything in return, died in the long night so that others, everyone, on a morning still to come, will be able to see the day as it should be seen, that is to say, from the front, standing, and  with an upright gaze and heart.

“For them we cry, Freedom! Freedom! FREEDOM! May our steps be as great as our dead.”

Subcomandante Marcos, leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN)

 

 

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 Subcomandante Marcos. Photo from the Archive

THE EMPIRE STATE LIVES UP TO ITS NAME: 80 YEARS OF MISERY FOR FARM WORKERS.

INTER PRESS SERVICE

Some U.S. Farmworkers Face ‘Inhuman Conditions

By  Carey L. Biron

Dolores Huerta and Librada Paz (right) in 2004. Courtesy of Librada Paz.Dolores Huerta and Librada Paz (right) in 2004. Courtesy of Librada Paz.

WASHINGTON, Nov 15 2012 (IPS) – A widely respected advocate for U.S. farmworker rights received a prestigious award on Capitol Hill here Wednesday, using the occasion to highlight pending state legislation that could significantly improve lives and working conditions that some have likened to modern-day slavery.

Librada Paz originally came to the United States from Oaxaca, Mexico, when she was 15 years old, planning on studying for an engineering degree. Instead, for the next decade she ended up working on fruit and vegetable farms in New York State, where she learned of the “enormous discrimination” and “inhuman conditions” that continue to mark the lives of the state’s farmworkers.

“In the fields, you do not matter – neither your security, nor your thoughts, nor your dignity,” she told those gathered at a U.S. Senate office building, where she received this year’s Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

“While all workers suffer enormous discrimination, this is multiplied particularly for women. This is what it means when the legal system allows abuse – when justice has no meaning.”In the United States, nearly 75 percent of farm labourers are Hispanic, more than half of whom are thought to be undocumented. While working conditions for farmworkers throughout the country remain difficult, those in New York State have long been particularly, and often cruelly, marginalised.

That’s because of state legislation, passed in 1932, that codified into law systematic discrimination against farmworkers in New York, even as other states eventually moved to extend protections to farm labour.

Now a leader with the Rural Migrant Ministry, a three-decade-old NGO focusing on farmworker rights in New York, Paz and others are currently ramping up agitation in support of state legislation that would do much to bring New York’s regulations on the issue in line with national and international standards. The bill, the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act (FFLPA), is scheduled to be debated early next year.

Unfinished rights battle

Currently, New York farmworkers are unable to engage in collective bargaining, while also lacking many of the labour protections that have become nearly universal in other sectors and states. Farm labourers do not receive overtime pay and often work for little over three dollars an hour, with child labour reportedly rampant.

According to Kerry Kennedy, Robert Kennedy’s daughter, many farmworkers in the state are forced to work 95-hour workweeks, often around the clock; live in miniscule, overcrowded group housing; and go years without receiving time off. On Wednesday, she reported that of two dozen women farmworkers with whom she spoke recently, each reported having suffered sexual assaults from employers.

If passed, the FFLPA would make it easier for women to pursue such charges against their employers. In addition, the bill would ensure that New York farmworkers receive the same minimum labour guarantees enjoyed by other workers in the state, enforcing a minimum wage, worktime caps and overtime assurances, and worker compensation and disability insurance.

“Farmworkers never received the rights most others received, and to this day they continue to be perceived as little more than chattel, thought of as ‘barely human’,” Kerry Kennedy said. “Drudgery, subjugation and humiliation are, today, what characterises the conditions for those who grow food for the people of this country.”

Kennedy says that the legal peculiarities that perpetuate the marginalisation of New York’s 60,000-odd farmworkers contravene international rights standards. She also notes that even as unemployment figures have skyrocketed in recent years in the United States, few within the mainstream have chosen to engage in readily available farmwork – because they realise that it’s next to impossible to make a living.

“Jim Crow conditions continue to live on in New York farms,” Kennedy said, referring to the systemic segregation that openly and legally marginalised African Americans for decades in large parts of the country. “This situation constitutes an unfinished battle for civil rights in this country.”

The week before his 1968 assassination, Robert  Kennedy met with a hunger-striking Cesar Chavez, the California labour leader who has had the single most significant impact on Hispanic and farmworker rights in the United States.

Chavez funnelled much of his organising work through the United Farm Workers, which he co-founded 50 years ago, in 1962, along with social activist Dolores Huerta. Librada Paz is often compared with both Chavez and Huerta, and the latter’s time is currently focused on raising support for the FFLPA, the New York legislation.

“Many people think of New York City as the intellectual soul of the United States, but the fact that farmworkers in that state still have no human rights – that’s a disgrace,” Huerta said here on Wednesday.

“This legislation is not asking for a lot, just for respect and dignity, but it is long overdue – those who feed us shouldn’t be treated like slaves. Workers in New York need to have this legislation passed to give them some level of protection, which would be a big first step.”