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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN JUST ONE DAY, BRAZIL LOSES YEARS

In just one day, the US-backed coup has waged an all-out attack on Brazil’s most progressive social and political achievements.
by Claire O’Brien, based on information and graphics from TeleSUR 

These are bad times for Latin America. With the fall of Brazil’s Rousseff government, the U.S. has broken the back of the Union of South American Nations (Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina), which resisted the dominance of American corporate interests  for years. Now, Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution has been kicked in the gut and Argentina has rushed to align itself with Brazil’s right-wing elite. That elite has regained its long-term stranglehold on the country two years after the left-wing Worker’s Party won its fourth straight victory in national elections.

Now, a textbook CIA coup has framed democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff and installed right-wing vice president Michel Temer. When Temer unveiled his new cabinet Thursday it became clear that his government is absolutely hostile to Brazil’s social movements and minority groups. Its 22 white male members include seven ministers who are under investigation for their alleged role in the Petrobras corruption scandal.

Key Ministries Eliminated

Temer reduced the size of the cabinet to 22 ministries, ostensibly in the name of austerity. However, his choice of what ministries to cut requires no interpretation.

  1. The Ministry of Culture has been eliminated
  2. The Ministry of Agrarian Development has been eliminated
  3. The Ministry of Science and Technology has been eliminated (it is now part of a much larger dysfunctional ministry, together with telecommunications)
  4. The Ministry of Women has been eliminated
  5. The Ministry of Racial Equality has been eliminated
  6. The Ministry of Human Rights has been eliminated

Additionally, the Comptroller General, which once enjoyed independent status, has now become the Ministry of Supervision, Transparency and Control, which could affect its ability to investigate alleged corruption.

Temer has already dispatched a delegation to Washington, DC to confer with his delighted bosses.

Brazil’s Big Capital in both nations is sleeping well tonight.

 

We Call it Murder: The Empire’s War on the Border

 

INTRODUCTION BY CLAIRE O’BRIEN

About ten years ago, Homeland Security began creating a vast graveyard in a stretch of the Arizona desert’s most remote and rugged terrain. It did so by focusing so intensely on traditional migrant routes that people crossing from Mexico were forced further and further east. They had to cross where the routes were the roughest, where there are no water resources, no population centers to speak of, and where there are miles and miles to go before there is a ray of hope on the horizon.

Now, at least 7,000 human skeletons lie buried beneath those desert miles. And the U.S, government planned it that way.

 

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What kind of lowlife scum does it take to so gleefully destroy and poison lifesaving water resources for desperate people traversing a desert?

  Claire Marie O'Brien  Claire Marie O’Brien

It takes a pool of Border Patrol applicants from small towns across the Southwest, in regions with skyrocketing unemployment, failed schools, loss of small farmers, a devastating methamphetamine epidemic, and infant mortality rates higher than those of most developing nations.

Keep pay low, stress high, racism rampant, and “investigations” of agent brutality a joke. Sit back and wait.

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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.

 

 

 

ORDINARY TERROR: COMING OF AGE IN MEXICO NARCO

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____EXCLUSIVE  BY CLAIRE O’BRIEN___________________

First published on Latina Lista by Claire O’Brien at  

  At my school, the students created a gigantic number 43, each candle symbolizing a missing student, so that anybody from the sky — the UFOs, the airplanes, God, perhaps? —  could see and understand the sorrow that the Mexican students are dwelling with. Maybe now the people  will understand why it rains: even the sky is crying .”

Valerie Rodarte,  Mexican university student

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A street of small adobe houses runs through a middle class neighborhood on the outskirts of a Mexican city. It looks peaceful enough at first glance.

But those who live there know better.

To residents who have gazed at the street over time, the signs of a neighborhood transformed by seven years of horrific violence are clear. A big iron gate blocks off the entrance, and curtains are drawn across every locked window. People walk directly from their front doors to their cars or to the bus stop. They don’t go out for strolls. They stand aside for certain of their neighbors and avert their eyes.

And there are no children in sight.

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Inside one of the smallest houses, a girl who grew up playing tag on the street sits at a computer typing an email to an American journalist. Valerie Rodarte has just finished up another week of  a heavy college course load, but she won’t be joining her  classmates  for a night on the town – or a even a study group in the library.Neither will many other students at her university, especially girls.

In fact, until recently, Rodarte hadn’t been outdoors at night in six years
“Parents don’t let kids play outside anymore,” wrote Rodarte, “We were just about the last of those children,or maybe second to last. And even though I’m no longer a child, in general I try to follow my mother’s wishes as best I  can.She tends to get sick or unwell if we’re not all in a place she trusts, and that’s only home.”

Rodarte added that her mother has good reason for her fears:

“It’s dangerous,”she said.

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At 22, Rodarte tends to view life before drug cartel violence as if through a telescope, from a great distance. There were no gates blocking the street ” back then “.  Until 2008, when former President Juan Calderon’s war on Mexico’s powerful drug cartels reached Valerie’s city, her street reflected her universe of childhood, family, and school.

Rodarte’s archaic description of childhood play as “merry” strikes an American ear as melancholy, as she recalls long games of hide and seek, tag, and just kicking a soccer ball around.

“It was safe and fun to play outside in those days.We played a tag variation called Police and Thieves, where we had our “prison” and sent all the bad guys in there,” Rodarte recalled. “If that seems ironic, I’ve heard that children today play that they are drug traffickers.”

She added that the neighborhood children had also been free to walk to the nearby little shops for treats,

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“Almost everywhere in my street area there is a little shop or food stand run by families who need more income, as jobs are scarce nowadays in Mexico,” Rodarte said,” I remember how much we loved to buy candy, but potato chips were actually the most popular thing. They came with prizes and toys and that’s what made potato chips incredibly loved by children.”

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V A L E R I E   W R I T E S:   A B O UT   8   Y E A R S  O L D

I can’t recall my exact age but I was still a child. It was Christmas. I  received new N64 games—Hey You, Pikachu!, is a vital mention—and I felt cozy at my home, surrounded by good smells, speaking English for the first time of my life, feeling protected, as in a cave in where pleasures abound and where I can finally feel fully protected. My mother’s not in this memory scene I am describing right now, but I know she’s near—that everybody’s near. I know that my family is near, that no one’s far, that I just need to raise my voice to be heard and stop being alone.

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A G E   T W E N T Y – T W O

Violence made me see the worst part of humanity and turned me into a rather distrustful and insecure person; I no longer trust  people much, and I feel bad about a future where I can get shot if I raise my voice higher than I’m supposed to.

I still wonder if the world even cares about us. I mean, Mexico’s not a white country, and we’re not a First World country, so obviously our problems won’t be treated with media coverage like the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. And because our tragedies aren’t  good excuses for war (yet), we won’t be heard as much as we need to be. Thus, our politicians will keep mistreating us from the shadows – because of this impunity.

Most Mexicans think real life lies outside and what we produce is purely crap. People still gush and get excited when they discover that somebody else had a trip to somewhere outside Mexico or to the U.S. For me, it is sadder when Mexicans leave to any American city and forget their own culture.

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When a Nightmare Moves In 

 The city knew what to expect when it became a battleground.

People were terrified before the terror began.

For two years a wave of brutal executions had swept the nation, as Mexico’s powerful drug cartels fought both one another and the corrupt government with which many had long-term relationships.The United States had helpfully trained the bloodiest of these as Special Forces, armed them to the teeth, and returned them to Mexico, where they promptly deserted.

After re-emerging as the notorious Zetas, the cartel cut a swath of blinding terror across the country, skinning people alive, beheading them with chainsaws, and hanging their headless bodies from overpasses.

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” The violence didn’t hit us until 2008, but when it did, it hit hard and quickly.First came massacres of our police force,” reported Rodarte,”and next the doctors fled the city after narcos made public threats against them.”
With relatives escaped to America, and her father gone since childhood, Rodarte’s already small family became even smaller.They hunkered down together – Valerie, her mother and older sister – in the little house the two girls had always known.

Valerie was fifteen years old.

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Rodarte described schools that shut themselves in and “turned their walls into literal prison walls, with the spiky wires on their tops to protect children from any unwanted intruder.”

“I saw my first dead body not long after that.It was lying in the front of the gate in my schoolyard. Since then, I’ve seen so much.” she reported. “My mother no longer wanted us outside, unless it was for an important thing. And if we ever want to hang out with friends, we must be back at a certain hour. So you could say we build a routine that feels like a kind of prison”.

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The violence slammed into Rodarte’s family with the first robbery of the bank that employs her mother:

“She tends to be the target of most robbers who assault her bank.  Trust me, it’s terrible when your mother returns, all soaked in tears after surviving yet another robbery – and to know that this will repeat sometime again later. So I tend to live the worst of the city through my mother.”

Rodarte believes that her life has shown her the dark side of human nature:

“All this violence made me discover who were drug traffickers, who weren’t and who were actual people of trust. So you could say I met the dark side of people,” she relected.” I saw how low and cruel can somebody can become, and it made me realize how sometimes civilization tends to be an erroneous concept. I wasted what was supposed to be the prime of my youth because of this imprisoning routine I became used to.”

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Over the past year and a half, Valerie has slowly been adding carefully planned activities to her life – nighttime as well as daily. She doesn’t remain out after dark often, nor stay out late, and she’s intensely aware of friends’ reports of being robbed on the street.

But Valerie wants to live.

“In the end, I don’t think you can keep kids away from each other,”she writes in a tone that sounds almost, well, merry.

Rodarte also had to expand her sphere of daytime activities in order to accomodate the academic requirements of her degree program. She’s breathing bigger these days. Not big. Bigger.

The danger is no less for Valerie and her generation than it was before.

They are just standing into the wind.

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They know that most of Mexico’s people don’t live in adobe houses – however small – with running water and heat, food, clothing, and school.

They live in houses like this one.

But Valerie Rodarte hasn’t forgotten her people. She comes from a generation that can’t forget

EN CALMA TRANSCURRE MARCHA PARA PEDIR EL REGRESO DE DESAPARECIDOS EN GUERRERO

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V A L E R I E   W R I T E S

I turned on the laptop, the name Ferguson — FERGUSON, in caps — popped onto the screen. And this time I knew the world was burning, slowly and painfully. This time I saw that the world is truly flying away, burning, losing itself into the universe, prepared to crash itself into a bigger wall of nightmares. I read the news. I read the anger. I read the poison that was boiling so much for the people of the north. And even though the fabulous world of the Internet offered me a video to understand the judicial side of the Ferguson incident, I declined. I didn’t want to know the hypocritical side, for I knew the social side, which is, frankly, far more important and powerful than the former.

Only then I felt so much smaller, as I used to blame the United States for all of our problems, and then I realized that we’re all just victims from the same monster. Then I saw that we’re not small, but rather little water drops, as those hidden inside of popcorn, slowly heating ourselves in order to explode and, finally, occupy the space we deserved from the beginning and without the lies from the Big Ones.

 I realized that a new culture came, and it was the pop culture, not to be confused with the “popular culture” term, but rather with the new mindset that the world’s getting now that we’re finally meeting the real cause of our problems. A culture that has said “Enough!” and it’s ready to burst and destroy all the injustices of which we’re all victims with just one loud “Pop!” explosion…

I just now wonder how much heat we need so we can finally go “POP!”

When will the pop come…

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NOTE: None of the photos used in this article are specifically associated with Valerie Rodarte. They do not  identify her location in any way, but have been approved by her as representative of her experience. The photos all come from Google Images and are unrestricted.

A HARD RAIN

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I’m going back out before the rain starts falling:
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison.

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Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten.
Where Black is the color and none is the number.

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And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,

And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it

Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinking

But I’ll know my song well before I start singing.

 

EN CALMA TRANSCURRE MARCHA PARA PEDIR EL REGRESO DE DESAPARECIDOS EN GUERRERO

 

It’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard:
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

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Excerpt from Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall by Bob Dylan

 

 

Beautiful, beautiful women: Yusor Abu-Salha and her teacher

A picture of the slain Yusor Abu-Salha with her former teacher.
Yusor Abu-Salha (right) with her  teacher in the StoryCorps Booth. Yusor was shot to death in February 2015 in a hate crime in Durham, North Carolina / Photo Credit: StoryCorps

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Yes, I remember it,
the day I’ll die, I broadcast the crimson,
so long ago of that sky, its spread air,
its rushing dyes, and a piece of earth
bleeding, apart from the shore, as we went.
On the day I’ll die, past the guards, and he,
keeper of the world’s last saffron, rowed me
on an island the size of a grave. On
two yards he rowed me into the sunset,
past all pain. On everyone’s lips was news
of my death but only that beloved couplet,
broken, on his:

“If there is a paradise on earth
It is this, it is this, it is this.”

BY AGHA SHAHID ALI

 

 

 

HAPPENING NOW: U.S. coup taking back Venezuela

Venezuela

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.

Venezuela Protests

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.

FIGHT ON IN HIS NAME: NO MORE WAR!

SOLDIER’S  HEART:

 Jacob George’s Sorrowful

Ride Till the End

by Abby Zimet, staff writer, Common Dreams
 Oh so heartbreaking to hear of the suicide – or as some call it, the death from moral injuries–  of Jacob George, 32-year-old Arkansas farmer, musician, activist and veteran of three tours of Afghanistan who came home shattered by post-traumatic horror that he insisted was not a disorder, but a natural human response to the inhumanity of war. George fought hard to heal his pain and grief: Riding his bike 8,000 miles over 3 years to sing his songs and tell his stories, testifying wherever he could about the hard truths he’d come to, seeking some semblance of peace with brothers and sisters who shared his sense of betrayal by his country, returning to Afghanistan to work with young Afghan anti-war activists, and on what he sometimes called his best day, throwing his medals back to the generals who sent him to the wars that broke him. It’s only right, note many of the sorrowful remembrances of him, that we honor him by fighting as hard in his name. Rest in peace.

Throwing back his medals at the NATO  Summit

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One time I approached the mountains to wash off in a snowy spring. 

It reminded me of Arkansas, mountains without the green. 

I know you speak from ignorance. Your words you can’t understand. 

The beauty of life is everywhere in Afghanistan.

 

“I Know You Don’t Mean It” | Jacob George