Mike Pompeo

Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).

Rumors Spread of a 2024 Presidential Run as Pompeo Paves Way for Future Wars

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 5:21am in

Yesterday, at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State and former CIA director Mike Pompeo claimed that “al-Qaida has a new home base: it is the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Offering little evidence, he warned the journalists and other figures present that, “We ignore this Iran-al-Qaida nexus at our own peril…We must confront it. Indeed, we must defeat it.” “Iran is the new Afghanistan” he added, referencing the illegal U.S. invasion and 20-year occupation that began under the Bush administration. Far from pushing back on his assertions, those present applauded Pompeo as he finished his remarks, which came amid a flurry of increasingly outlandish and aggressive policy steps he has taken in the last days of the Trump administration.

There are a number of problems with his assertions, not least that Iran is a Shia theocracy led by Ayatollah Khamenei, while al-Qaeda is a Sunni supremacist organization that regards Shi’ism as entirely heretical. Furthermore, Iran has been battling al-Qaeda and ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile, the U.S. government has openly supported what it calls “moderate rebels” in the region, despite the fact, as the Washington Post admitted, those “moderates” are difficult to distinguish from and intermingled with Jihadist forces like al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing al-Nusra. That Tehran was secretly sheltering and promoting its sworn enemy would be surprising, to say the least. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif immediately rejected the claims, stating that Pompeo was “pathetically ending his disastrous career with more warmongering lies. No one is fooled.”

Pompeo made the announcement just hours after meeting with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen. Early this morning, Israeli jets using U.S. intelligence bombed targets in eastern Syria, killing 57 people. According to American officials, Pompeo gave his blessing to the attack, claiming that the warplanes were striking warehouses filled with Iranian weapons. 

Earlier in the week, the Secretary of State also designated Yemen’s Houthi rebels and the government of Cuba as terrorists, moves that were immediately condemned by human rights groups. Refugees International wrote that, “it is difficult to imagine a more irresponsible decision,” as the announcement will stymie any moves toward peace. Oxfam America’s Humanitarian Policy Lead Scott Paul made a similar statement, predicting that Pompeo’s actions “will only compound the crisis for millions of Yemenis fighting for their survival.” 

 

On Monday, without a shred of irony, Pompeo condemned Cuba for its supposed, “malign interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.” The United States has supported multiple coup attempts in the past two years against the Venezuelan government, as well as backing a (since defeated) far-right military putsch in Bolivia. Last week, Pompeo reaffirmed the U.S.’ commitment to the leader of those Venezuelan coups, Juan Guaidó, recognizing him as the legitimate “Interim President” of the country, despite minimal domestic support. Post-Brexit, the European Union took the opposite decision, dropping their support for him after President Maduro’s United Socialist coalition won 253 of the 277 seats in the country’s National Assembly last month. Thus, both Guaidó and the Trump administration are increasingly isolated. 

Last Tuesday, Pompeo also made a point of receiving representatives of The Epoch Times, a far-right fake news outlet associated with the Chinese Falun Gong cult. During their visit to the State Department, the 57-year-old Kansan encouraged and spread wild theories of his own. “The Chinese Communist Party is here in America,” he claimed, insisting that the U.S. must also “protect itself from this Communist threat in China.”

 

While Pompeo will (presumably) be leaving office very soon, there are more than a few rumors that he already has his eyes set on a presidential run in 2024. Vanity Fair suggests that his actions, such as travelling to Georgia to support Republican candidates up for election, “look like a 2024 dry run.” Unlike many in his party, he has stayed decidedly loyal to Trump until the end, which will likely earn him credit with the president’s massive base of supporters and allow him to position himself as the continuity Trump candidate if he is barred from standing himself. 

If Pompeo does decide to throw his hat into the ring, he would likely have support from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he visited in November. Pompeo dined at an illegal West Bank settlement, and asserted that Israel has every right to the territory, a move that delighted many inside the country. 

As former head of the CIA, Pompeo is no stranger to exaggeration or spreading misinformation. “We lied, we cheated, we stole… we had entire training courses [on] it,” he infamously said at a talk at Texas Tech University in 2019. In his last days in office, he seems to have been putting his training to good use.

Feature photo | Secretary of State Mike Pompeo waits nearby before speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, Jan. 12, 2021. Andrew Harnik | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Rumors Spread of a 2024 Presidential Run as Pompeo Paves Way for Future Wars appeared first on MintPress News.

The Trump Administration’s Parting Outrage Against Cuba

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/01/2021 - 3:18am in

On January 11, in his final days before leaving office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added one parting blow to the series of bludgeons his administration has inflicted on Cuba for four years: putting the island on the list of “state sponsors of terror” that includes only Iran, North Korea and Syria. The designation drew swift condemnation from policymakers and humanitarian groups as a decision widely characterized as “politically motivated.” It comes six years after the Obama administration had removed Cuba from the same list as part of his policy of rapprochement. 

In the six years since, Trump’s State Department could not point to a single act of terror sponsored by Cuba. Instead, Secretary Pompeo based his decision on Cuba’s alleged support for the ELN (National Liberation Army – Colombia’s second-largest guerilla group) and the harboring of a handful of U.S. fugitives wanted for crimes committed in the 1970s, including renowned Black revolutionary Assata Shakur. Lacking more specific accusations, the State Department criticized Cuba for its supposed “malign interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.”

 

These claims don’t stand up to scrutiny. Regarding the ELN, the gist of the story is that the Trump administration is punishing Cuba for its role in attempting to bring peace to the long-simmering conflict in Colombia. ELN negotiators arrived in Cuba in 2018 for peace talks with the Colombian government. As part of the protocols for these meetings, ELN negotiators were allowed entry into Cuba and promised safe passage back into Colombia after their conclusion. Guarantor countries, including Cuba and Norway, assumed responsibility for their safe return. The talks collapsed in January 2019 following an ELN car bombing in Bogotá that killed 22 people. Colombia requested the extradition of the negotiators, but Cuba refused because the Colombia government will not honor the previous government’s commitment to guaranteeing the negotiators’ freedom upon returning home.

Regarding Secretary Pompeo’s other arguments, Cuba’s main influence in the Western Hemisphere has been the opposite of “malign”: it has deployed its doctors throughout the region and the world, saving thousands of lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. And when it comes to harboring terrorists, it’s worth noting that for decades the United States harbored Luis Posada Carriles, mastermind of a 1973 bombing that killed 73 people on a Cuban commercial airliner. 

Cubans MAGA

Members of the Cuban Los 3 de La Habana, sing during a MAGA event with Ivanka Trump in Miami, Oct. 27, 2020. Wilfredo Lee | AP

Cuba’s placement on the state sponsors of terror list is meant to be a thorn in any plan by the Biden administration for rapprochement. Taking Cuba off the list will require a review process that could take months, delaying any new initiatives to roll back Trump-era policies. It will also cause further pain to Cuba’s economy, already battered by tightened sanctions and the pandemic that has devastated the island’s tourism industry. The new terrorism label will likely scare off many businesses that import to Cuba, banks that finance transactions with Cuba and foreign investors. 

 
“Stunning but not surprising.” 

A week before the designation, nine U.S. Senators wrote to Secretary Pompeo and warned that such a step “will politicize our national security.” It has drawn strong condemnation from Senator Patrick Leahy, who said it made a “mockery of what had been a credible, objective measure,” and House Foreign Affairs Chairman, Representative Gregory Meeks who said the hypocrisy from President Trump less than a week after he incited a domestic terror attack was “stunning but not surprising.” 

Faith group Pastors For Peace was one of many organizations to condemn the designation: “We know that this latest act, in the waning days of the Trump administration, is not only an aggressive act against Cuba, but aggression against the incoming administration who have pledged to return to a policy leading to peace and civilized relations with our island neighbor.”

Policy group ACERE (which CODEPINK is a part of) drew a connection between the designation and recent events at home: “Perpetuating the myth that Cuba is a threat to the American people – while minimizing the threat posed by far-right extremists at home – is an embarrassment to our country on the world stage.”

The real motive behind this move is to offer a parting gift to the Cuban exile community and its allies that have been loyal supporters of the Trump administration and helped oust several Democratic members of Congress in the last election. This is par for the course for an administration that has repeatedly used sanctions for political gain with no regard for the Cuban people who, for four years, have borne the brunt of sanctions affecting everything from energy, tourism, medicines, remittances and flights. Just like millions of U.S. citizens, Cubans are counting the days until the Trump administration becomes history and hoping the next administration will offer some relief.

Feature photo | Wearing a face mask amid the new coronavirus pandemic, a woman carries egg cartons in Old Havana, Cuba, Oct. 27, 2020. Ramon Espinosa | AP

The post The Trump Administration’s Parting Outrage Against Cuba appeared first on MintPress News.

Inciting Insurrection: It Wasn’t Just Trump

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 10/01/2021 - 12:27am in

Trump’s devoted allies who spent years helping him sell lies, stir anger, and sow division feign shock and outrage at the cumulative consequences of their actions. Many are lawyers who twice took oaths to defend the US Constitution. Continue reading

The post Inciting Insurrection: It Wasn’t Just Trump appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

The Story of a Hack

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 19/12/2020 - 6:10am in

It is not clear yet how far the hackers have penetrated, and we will likely not know for months. But given the fact they have had access to our systems since March and have almost certainly been planting new ways into them (known as “back doors”), all assumptions are that this is serious indeed. Continue reading

The post The Story of a Hack appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Following US Pressure, Aid to Yemen Falls to Just 25 Cents Per Day

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/10/2020 - 3:27am in

Home to what the United Nations has described as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” Yemen is on the brink of total disaster after five years of protracted war. Yet crucial international aid to the country has been cut this year to just 25 cents per person, per day, around half of what was given in 2019. That money translates to just 200 grams (less than half a pound) of beans, three eggs, or 200ml of cooking oil inside the country, where food prices are soaring.

The aid has been channeled primarily through the United Nations. But the organization warns that what they received is less than half of what is necessary to supply clean water, food, shelter, and medicine to the 24 million people (80 percent of the population) who need humanitarian assistance.

Much of the blame for the drop in aid can be placed at the door of the United States with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly pressuring the U.N. to scale back humanitarian assistance to the country in an attempt to starve the rebels of aid. In March, Pompeo traveled to U.N. headquarters to meet with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make his case.

Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director, Muhsin Siddiquey, pleaded with the international community to do more to help the country. “While the economic fallout unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every corner of the globe, in Yemen millions are on the brink of starvation. Yemenis cannot afford aid to be cut, people need more help to survive, not less,” he said.

 

Cashing in on a crisis

Furthermore, the countries that have contributed the most in aid — the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — are the very same ones directing the onslaught against Yemen, with Saudi and Emirati troops leading the fight, supported by British and American arms sales and political cover. Saudi Arabia, for example, is responsible for 49 percent of all weapons purchases, while it has committed to buying $350 billion worth of U.S. arms in the coming years. This economic power has allowed the four to play politics with international aid, directing to groups that allow them to advance their agenda instead of where it is needed most.

“Countries should stop cashing in on this appalling humanitarian crisis and instead put people’s lives above arms manufacturers’ profit,” Siddiquey said. “The Yemenis who’ve had to flee their homes, go without food and clean water, and endure outbreaks of disease need a nationwide ceasefire and inclusive peace talks to end this war so they can rebuild their lives.”

The World Bank has warned of a “famine of biblical proportions,” with over 20 million people also lacking access to clean water. Because of the lack of funds, the U.N. has had to reduce services at 300 health and food distribution centers across Yemen. These sites are already in short supply, as the Saudi-led coalition intentionally targets their Yemeni counterparts, attacking water or medical facilities once every ten days on average since the war began in 2014.

Two-thirds of all districts in the country are already pre-famine, the U.N. explains, and one-third face a convergence of multiple acute vulnerabilities. These include deadly outbreaks of cholera and COVID-19. Officially, the country has seen only 2,047 COVID-19 cases and cholera numbers have dropped from last year. But, as Oxfam warned, these low figures do not show that the country has the epidemics under control. Quite the opposite: it shows their embattled health systems have been completely overwhelmed and are unable to record the devastation wrought.

 

From Arab Spring to Abraham Accord

While the conflict has its origins in the 2011 Arab Spring, the war officially began three years later, when armed Shia Houthi rebels rose up against what they saw as a corrupt and undemocratic government led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Hadi initially fled the country but was given strong support by Saudi Arabia, other Gulf monarchies, and Western powers, who accused Iran of arming and funding the Houthis. However, without many boots on the ground, they have been unable to dislodge the Houthis from their strongholds in the populous south and west of the country, preferring to bomb the country from above. While the official death toll of the war stands at over 100,000, most believe this is a serious underestimate.

Unfortunately, the war is unlikely to cool down in the foreseeable future. The recently signed Abraham Accord between Bahrain, the U.A.E., and Israel, for example, allows for the transfer of high-tech American and Israeli weaponry to the Gulf states, who will doubtless be keen to use it in Yemen.

“The U.A.E. is one of the central protagonists in the cataclysmic war of aggression against Yemen,” Greg Shupak of the University of Guelph, Ontario, told MintPress. “So there is a strong possibility that it will unleash these killing machines on the impoverished Yemeni population that it has already done so much to devastate…Likewise, increased intelligence sharing between Israel and the U.A.E. could entail Israel helping the U.A.E. having more, and possibly more advanced, information that it can use to maim and kill Yemenis.”

Despite promising to draw down its role in the conflict, Sudan is sending hundreds of more troops to the country via Saudi Arabia. A foreign ministry spokesperson also recently revealed that the country is in talks with Israel to normalize relations. Saudi Arabia has also recently begun building a military base in the Hawf nature reserve in eastern Yemen, a crucial oasis in the largely arid country. As always, there appears to be plenty of money for weapons, but not enough for crucial humanitarian aid.

Feature photo | A medic checks a malnourished newborn inside an incubator at Al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, June 27, 2020. Hani Mohammed | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Following US Pressure, Aid to Yemen Falls to Just 25 Cents Per Day appeared first on MintPress News.

Pompeo Announces Funding for Welfare, Healthcare and Indigenous Support. In Venezuela

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/09/2020 - 3:12am in

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has returned from his official visits to Suriname, Guyana, Colombia and Brazil, where he discussed the possibilities of regime change in Venezuela, a nation which has drawn Washington’s ire for over 20 years.

On Saturday the 56-year-old former CIA Director announced a $348 million package he said was a “response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis caused by the corrupt and illegitimate Maduro regime,” and signaled the U.S.’ “commitment to the Venezuelan people.”

“U.S. humanitarian assistance provides access to emergency food, safe drinking water, direct cash assistance, sanitation, and hygiene support, health care, medical supplies, psychosocial support, livelihoods, and protection for vulnerable groups including women, youth, and indigenous people,” the State Department’s press release on the issue read, programs that the U.S. government is failing to provide for its own citizens during the pandemic. It also noted that much of the cash would actually be going to neighboring countries that have taken in migrants, rather than individuals themselves.

Yet neither Pompeo nor the State Department noted that Venezuela is in such parlous economic straits in no small part due to the actions of the U.S. government. Washington has placed the country under ever-tightening sanctions for years, going after any individual, business or government who trades with the country. This has effectively led to an international blockade of the country, where Venezuela can neither import vital products like food or medicines nor sell oil, its primary export.

The long economic malaise also brought on by government incompetence, local elites’ intransigence, and a continued regional downturn has led to extreme hardship for millions, with the U.S. sanctions alone directly responsible for over 100,000 deaths, according to Swiss-American U.N. Special Rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who visited the country and declared the U.S. guilty of “crimes against humanity.” Thus, it could be said that the State Department’s actions are merely attempting to put a bandaid over a deep cut they themselves stuck a knife into.

While in Colombia, Pompeo discussed regime change in Venezuela with Colombian President Ivan Duque, who described the Kansan as a “dear friend of Colombia” and accused President Maduro of Venezuela of crimes against humanity. In Brazil, Pompeo managed to get the Bolsonaro administration to sign off on his “Democratic Transition Framework” (DTS) for Venezuela as the way forward.

The DTS requires Maduro to resign and for the country’s Constituent Assembly to be completely dissolved, with all power going to the National Assembly, the only branch of government the opposition currently controls. From there, the National Assembly would appoint new members to the Supreme Court and the National Electoral Council. And while the DTS does not specifically state Maduro could not run for office again, Pompeo made it clear, stating, “Nicolas Maduro will never again govern Venezuela.” Therefore, it seems unlikely that Maduro, who was elected by a larger share of the electorate than Trump in 2016 or Obama in 2012, would sign off on such sweeping changes to the country that the Trump administration demands.

The United States also continues to support self-declared president Juan Guaidó, who has launched a series of unsuccessful coup attempts since January 2019. Washington has recently been transferring seized Venezuelan government assets to him so he can personally give every health worker $20 per month during the coronavirus pandemic. With the Venezuelan bolivar so weak, the stipend amounts to a sizable subsidy. Guaidó has retained strong bipartisan support in Washington, despite leaked contracts between himself and U.S. mercenary group Silvercorp showing he intended to rule alone after the coup, paying the organization to become his personal security force and crushing any resistance to his rule. Inside Venezuela, however, polls show only three percent of the population back him.

 

Biden: a break with the past or more of the same?

With elections coming up in November, it is possible that there will be a change in government in the United States before Venezuela. Democratic challenger Joe Biden currently holds a 6.5 point nationwide lead in combined polling. Over 100 organizations are urging the former vice-president to adopt a “good neighbor” policy with regards to the region. And while the Democratic National Platform is more progressive on Cuba, it makes clear that it wants regime change in Venezuela as well.

In order to better understand the potential for a different American path for Latin America under a Biden presidency, MintPress spoke with Dr. Barry Cannon, a sociologist specializing in Latin American politics at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Cannon was hopeful that a Biden presidency could mean a more multilateral approach in the region, some lessening of sanctions on Venezuela, and more openness towards negotiations. It could also mean the U.S. moving away from such close support with the far-right Bolsonaro administration and more cooperation with left-of-center governments, such as those in Mexico and Argentina.

“However, I wouldn’t expect any great departures from Trump-era policies,” he warned, noting that Colombia, “which has a far worse human rights record than Venezuela,” is, “almost always supported by the U.S.” While Washington will “continue to actively work against any Latin American country which challenges U.S. imperial power in the region,” such as Venezuela or Bolivia, where Movement to Socialism candidate Luis Arce is the frontrunner in October’s election. “It’s important to keep in mind the continuities in U.S. Americas policy with Trump in charge rather than the differences,” he concluded.

Feature photo | U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, second right, and Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, are received at a reception center in the Boa Vista Air Base in Roraima, Brazil, Sept. 18, 2020. Bruno Mancinelle | Pool via AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Pompeo Announces Funding for Welfare, Healthcare and Indigenous Support. In Venezuela appeared first on MintPress News.

As Venezuela Foils CIA “Terror Plot” Pompeo Tours Its Neighbors To Talk Regime Change

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/09/2020 - 6:44am in

Venezuela’s government has announced it has foiled a potential terror attack, arresting a former CIA operative while he was on a stakeout near the country’s largest oil refining facility.

Matthew John Heath was arrested with three other Venezuelans outside the Amuay and Cardon refineries in Falcon state in the west of the country, reportedly carrying a submachine gun, a grenade launcher, four blocks of C4 explosives, a satellite phone, and stacks of U.S. dollars. He has been charged with terrorism and weapons trafficking. The country’s prosecutor general, Tarek William Saab, claimed that Heath entered Venezuela illegally via the Colombian border without a passport, although police found a photocopy hidden on his person. Saab also said that Heath was carrying a small coin or badge that CIA employees use to prove their identity to one another without raising suspicions.

Images released by the Venezuelan government show items seized from Heath upon his arrest:

Venezuela John Heath

According to police investigations, Heath is a former marine who served as a communications operator in a “secret CIA base” in Iraq for ten years between 2006 and 2016, where he was hired by private security firm MVM. MVM was founded by a former U.S. Secret Service agent and continues to work closely with Washington. According to business directory Dun & Bradstreet, the company “provides security staffing and consulting services, primarily to U.S. government entities.” “Need a secret agent?” begins MVM’s biography. Researcher Jeb Sprague told MintPress today that Heath’s family has a lengthy background in the oil industry. While this suggests that the operation could have been as “innocent” as a corporate spying mission, it is difficult to see why anyone would possess grenade launchers and C4 if not for seriously nefarious purposes.

 

A deafening silence

Silence on the incident from the U.S. government, who never misses an opportunity to escalate tensions with Venezuela, is notable. The fact that the government has not commented on a U.S. citizen being charged with terrorism is “very telling,” according to Caribbean specialist Arnold August, who told By Any Means Necessary that Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “are in a difficult position,” “dancing around the fact that there are obvious incursions organized by the U.S. into Venezuela that are far from peaceful.”

The story is also being downplayed or simply ignored by corporate media, despite their predilection for printing stories that paint the Maduro government as authoritarian. This, for Latin America expert Dr. Rodrigo Acuña, was predictable. “I’m not surprised at the reaction to this article at all. The mainstream media rarely look to verify or follow up any allegations made by the Maduro government in Caracas that the Trump administration is looking to overthrow it,” he said. Acuña, a researcher and former associate lecturer in Spanish and Latin American studies at Macquarie University, Australia, told MintPress that the media often follows the U.S. government’s line when it comes to America’s “backyard.”

When the Bush administration supported a coup against the government of Hugo Chavez in 2002, with very few exceptions, most of the mainstream media ignored these allegations. Then when evidence was presented they continued to ignore the claims made by Chavez. This situation continues until this day, where Washington is doing almost everything within its power to topple the government of Nicolas Maduro…For its part, Washington then ignores the statements that come out of Caracas or even at the United Nations while the mainstream media for their part also act in a similar manner.”

After the botched May coup attempt that saw two American mercenaries, Airan Berry and Luke Denman, arrested, the government put out an extremely half-hearted denial, with Pompeo stating only that “there was no U.S. government direct involvement,” although he did admit that he knew who had funded the operation, promising to release the information “at an appropriate time.” This time, however, there has been radio silence from Washington.

 

Pompeo’s regime change tour

The incident in Falcon state happens just as Pompeo is about to embark on a four-day trip to many of Venezuela’s closest neighbors in order, in the State Department’s own words, to “defend democracy” and “strengthen security against regional threats.” Interestingly, when visiting Brazil, Pompeo is not traveling to its capital Brasilia, nor either of its largest cities, Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, but to Boa Vista, a small city deep in the Amazon jungle on the Venezuelan border, in order to “underscore the importance of U.S. and Brazilian support for the Venezuelan people in their time of need by visiting with Venezuelan migrants fleeing the man made disaster in Venezuela.” That the “regional threat” means Venezuela is made explicit in the press release, the State Department declaring that Pompeo will meet Colombian President Ivan Duque in order to discuss “threats to regional security” like “Maduro’s illegitimate regime.” Pompeo will also visit Venezuelan neighbors Guyana and Suriname.

 

The Bay of Piglets and other coups

Just before the coup attempt in May, Trump advisor John Bolton not-so-cryptically tweeting that “Morning is coming to Venezuela — again.” U.S.-backed politician Juan Guaidó called on the military to rise up and overthrow Maduro. At the same time, 300 troops, led by American ex-Green Berets, attempted an amphibious invasion of Venezuela. Their mission was to shoot their way to Caracas, taking the presidential palace and ensconcing Guaidó as president. Guaidó had promised to pay the U.S. outfit around a quarter-billion dollars for their services. However, the operation ended in complete disaster upon even minimal pushback, as the mercenaries were immediately overpowered and apprehended by disgruntled members of the House of Socialist Fishermen in the sleepy coastal village of Chuao. Images show that some of the heavily armed, highly-trained mercenaries appear to have wet themselves in terror when coming into contact with lobstermen armed with handguns, fishing knives and box cutters. Berry and Denman were recently sentenced to 20 years in prison for their actions.

The U.S. government has bankrolled, if not organized, a great number of coup attempts in Venezuela, going back to 2002, where it supported insurrection attempts in April and December. Since then, it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars funding, training, organizing and supporting groups inside the country, all of which have one thing in common: a strong aversion to the left-wing government that has held power since 1999.

Juan Guaidó, the self-declared president of Venezuela, emerged as a Pentagon protege in 2007 as a leader of ultimately unsuccessful student protests aimed at forcing a change of government, subsequently studying at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Since January 2019, Guaidó has launched five audacious bids at seizing the presidency from Maduro, each less successful than the last. Even before the “Bay of Piglets” fiasco in May, he was supported by only three percent of Venezuelans.

 

Economic crisis

The Amuay and Cardon refineries form the world’s second largest refining complex, capable of producing nearly one million barrels of gasoline per day, putting into perspective the enormity of the charges levied against Heath. Current oil production is far lower, however, due to mismanagement, and to U.S. sanctions, which greatly reduce the customers Venezuela has for its primary product. As the economy shrunk, poverty rose and so did shortages of key products. Large numbers of people simply left the country. And as sanctions bite, production levels have dropped to the point where there is even a gasoline shortage inside the country, causing long lines and much resentment at the government, the U.S., the opposition, and anyone in a position of authority. The COVID lockdown has led to reduced demand for oil, as citizens stay home as much as they can. Nevertheless, the destruction of the country’s largest oil refining complex would be a devastating blow to the society — all the more reason it might be targeted by those wishing to finally see an end to the socialist government.

Feature photo | Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab holds a photo of bullets he says were seized with other weapons in connection with what the government calls a failed attack over the weekend aimed at overthrowing President Nicolás Maduro, during a press conference in Caracas, Venezuela, May 8, 2020. Matias Delacroix | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post As Venezuela Foils CIA “Terror Plot” Pompeo Tours Its Neighbors To Talk Regime Change appeared first on MintPress News.

Trump’s Syria move, fossil fuels and growing crisis in Eastern Mediterranean

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/10/2019 - 9:58pm in

A summit meeting between Greece, Cyprus and Israel is taking place in Cairo today. It comes amid mounting tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean which may intensify sharply when the expected Turkish invasion of northern Syria takes place, and with it … Continue reading →

Targeting Iran is central to Trump’s deep global strategy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/01/2019 - 12:06am in

The full text of US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s speech in Cairo last week is worth reading in full. This excerpt gives a sense of its intellectual basis (for yes, there is such a thing beneath the nightmarish reality … Continue reading →