Venezuela

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US intel officer targeted by John Bolton reacts to coup-plot confession

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/07/2022 - 8:37am in

Tags 

Video, Haiti, Venezuela

John Bolton admitted to CNN that he “helped plan coups d’etat” abroad, including Venezuela. Fulton Armstrong — a former senior US intelligence official who Bolton tried to oust  — responds. In a live interview with CNN, former senior US official John Bolton admitted that he has “helped plan coups d’etat” in a number of foreign countries, including Venezuela. Fulton Armstrong, a former senior US intelligence official, has a unique perspective on Bolton’s coup confession. In 2002, Bolton unsuccessfully tried to […]

The post US intel officer targeted by John Bolton reacts to coup-plot confession appeared first on The Grayzone.

The Empire Is Showing More And More Of Its True Face

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/07/2022 - 1:43pm in

Listen to a reading of this article:

https://medium.com/media/1e76387fc9fe37d9b52854441b002cb4/href

Genocide walrus John Bolton outright admitted to planning foreign coups with the US government in conversation with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday. That’s coups, plural.

While arguing that the Capitol riot on January 6th of last year was not an attempted coup but rather just Trump stumbling around trying to look after his own interests, Bolton hastened to pull authority on the matter when Tapper suggested that he might not be correct about how coups work.

“I disagree with that,” Bolton said. “As somebody who has helped plan coups d’etat — not here, but, you know, other places — it takes a lot of work, and that’s not what [Trump] did.”

Places. Plural.

https://medium.com/media/0f563cc9a565ae37290fd62971fae60a/href

Tapper just let Bolton’s remark slide like he didn’t just admit to something extraordinarily fiendish, but did eventually follow up with a request that the former National Security Advisor elaborate.

“I do want to ask a follow up,” Tapper said. “When we were talking about what is capable, or what you need to do to be able to plan a coup, and you cited your expertise having planned coups.”

“I’m not going to get into the specifics,” replied Bolton with a chuckle.

“Successful coups?” Tapper asked.

“Well, I wrote about Venezuela in the book,” Bolton answered. “And it turned out not to be successful — not that we had all that much to do with it, but I saw what it took for an opposition to try and overturn an illegally elected president, and they failed. The notion that Donald Trump was half as competent as the Venezuelan opposition is laughable.”

“I feel like there’s other stuff you’re not telling me, though,” Tapper responded.

“I’m sure there is,” Bolton said, grinning like he just finished boiling a puppy.

Tapper pursued the matter no further, because he is a propagandist first and a journalist second, and he would be acutely aware that Bolton was saying things that you are not supposed to admit to on television.

Bolton’s sole admission to coup plotting runs counter to his comments about the US government’s failed attempt to oust President Nicolas Maduro while he was facilitating that bizarre operation under the Trump administration, telling reporters in 2019 that the empire’s Venezuela shenanigans were “clearly not a coup.”

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In other examples of the US empire just rearing its ugly head right out in broad daylight, an excellent new report by Alan MacLeod with Mintpress News shows that Facebook/Instagram parent company Meta has been hiring dozens of people who previously worked in the US intelligence cartel to help regulate what content gets seen on the social media giant’s platforms. Some were hired from straight out of the CIA or had (officially) left the agency very recently.

The CIA used to infiltrate the media. Now the CIA is the media. This trend of openly hiring US intelligence veterans to help teach the public what thoughts to think about the world began a few years ago in the legacy media, and now we’re seeing it in the new media as well.

This is part of a broader trend in which many of the ugly things the US empire used to do in secret it now does openly with the aid of propaganda spin. In addition to attempting coups right out in the open as we saw in Venezuela and just giving intelligence insiders positions of influence within both new and old media institutions, you’ve got things like the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which according to its own founding officials was set up to do overtly what the CIA used to do covertly.

We see NED’s fingerprints all over pretty much any situation where the western power alliance needs to manage public perception about a CIA-targeted government, from Ukraine to Russia to Hong Kong to Xinjiang, to the imperial propaganda firm known as Bellingcat. Rather than manipulate world narratives and foment discontent from behind the veil of hidden identities and cutouts as in CIA tactics of old, NED just manipulates them openly by pouring funds into narrative management operations which benefit the empire while framing it as promoting democracy and human rights.

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Then you’ve got things like American officials telling the press that the US government has been circulating disinformation about Russia and Ukraine, Biden administration officials saying the proxy war in Ukraine is being used to “weaken” Russia and that they are fine with US brinkmanship with Russia causing global recession and hunger, and western officials telling the press that Ukraine is crawling with CIA personnel.

What the empire has found is that you don’t need to hide as much from public visibility as long as you can manipulate what people think they’re seeing. If the public is sufficiently propagandized and consent has been adequately manufactured, you can get away with just proclaiming some random guy the president of a foreign country and seeing if you can manipulate the rest of the world into playing along with you.

If your narrative control is strong enough, you can even keep the empire running smoothly when information gets out into the open that you’d rather stay hidden. Very often these days major stories about imperial malfeasance will come out that simply have no impact, either because the mainstream news media unite to ignore them or because they spin those revelations as coming from someone bad or not containing important information.

People tend to overrate the power of the US war machine and underrate the power of the US propaganda machine. While the US military finds itself losing a war to the Taliban, the awesome power of its propaganda engine has people marching in perfect alignment with the will of the oligarchic empire.

When I was in an abusive relationship, the more ground down and submitted I became the more my abuser would flaunt his abusiveness in the plain light of day. Toward the end he was just outright admitting he was a sociopath and a manipulator and openly telling me he was going to do monstrous things to me before he did them, because he was that confident that he had me wrapped around his finger.

Luckily, he was wrong. And hopefully the empire is wrong as it makes this same calculation with all of us.

_________________

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FBI: Ukraine Fighter and US Fugitive Craig Lang Armed by Colombia To Overthrow Venezuela Gov’t

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/06/2022 - 2:15am in

KIEV, UKRAINE (THE GRAYZONE) Craig Lang, a US Army veteran accused by US authorities of carrying out murders on American soil as well as torture and other war crimes in Ukraine, allegedly joined a band of insurgents armed by the Colombian police to overthrow the Venezuelan government.

An FBI affidavit against Lang states that he was in Colombia with an Army pal when the country’s national police provided him with weapons to attack Venezuela.

Lang’s history tracks closely with that of Paul Gray, a fellow US military veteran and white nationalist also fighting in Ukraine. According to new revelations by a former compatriot of US-backed Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó, Gray was also involved in a scheme to attack Venezuela from Colombian territory.

The startling disclosure by Guaidó’s former associate was prompted by a May 31, 2022 report by The Grayzone which exposed Lang and Gray’s exploits in Ukraine, and identified Lang as having participated in a failed mission to destabilize Venezuela’s government from Colombian territory.

But before Lang arrived on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, at the site of a regime change operation managed by top-level US and Colombian officials, he helped execute a heinous robbery and murder in Florida to finance his trip.

 

SOURCE: Wanted murderer “able to obtain firearms from law enforcement in Bogota” for Venezuela regime change plot

Back in 2016, Lang met a fellow army veteran named Alex Zweiefelhofer who shared his hunger for combat and international adventurism. They were in Ukraine at the time, fighting in the ultra-nationalist Right Sector battalion, which was integrated into the Ukrainian military to do battle with pro-Russian separatists.

As the low-intensity war dragged on, Lang and Zweiefelhofer grew restless. In a search for action, they tried and failed to insert themselves into the US-backed Somalian army’s fight against Al-Shabaab insurgents, but were deported upon arrival. It was then that they decided to head south in hopes of killing “communists” in Venezuela.

On April 9, 2018, according to the FBI affidavit, Zweiefelhofer said Lang murdered a couple in Florida and robbed them of $3000 to finance their trip to the Colombian border with Venezuela.

But Zweiefelhofer was arrested before he could leave the US and indicted for murder, for which he pled not guilty. A year later, another associate of Lang – a former army buddy identified only as “M.S.M.” in the FBI criminal complaint – came forward to law enforcement with details of their exploits together on the Colombian-Venezuelan border.

According to the FBI affidavit, “Lang told M.S.M. that Lang was going to join combat forces opposed to the Venezuelan government. M.S.M. advised that Lang was going to join a Venezuelan resistance group.”

In his interview with the FBI, M.S.M. claimed he hesitated on the mission because he “did not want to kill people.” He said Lang left alone to the border town of Cucuta, where he linked up with right-wing insurgents.

According to the FBI’s timeline, which was informed by Homeland Security Investigations, Lang arrived in Bogota on September 25, 2018 and “thereafter departed from Colombia on November 23, 2018.”

The affidavit pegged the Colombian government as a key supplier of the regime change mission against Venezuela:

“M.S.M. told detectives the resistance group Lang joined was able to obtain firearms from law enforcement in Bogota. M.S.M. advised that the resistance group had a safe house in the mountains of Cucuta, Colombia. The group planned to cross into Venezuela and fight the Venezuelan government.”

Lang’s alleged arming by Colombian authorities adds a new layer to Bogota’s well-documented role in US-directed destabilization operations against the Venezuelan government. In fact, the foreign fighter’s brief adventure in Colombia began one month after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro survived an assassination attempt in which commercial drones were strapped with explosives and hovered over his head during a military parade.

Following the failed attack on Maduro, the Venezuelan president immediately blamed Colombian authorities, while US media regurgitated Colombia’s denials. Then-National Security Advisor John Bolton suggested the whole televised incident was a false flag orchestrated by Maduro.

Several participants in the assassination plot were soon arrested, and some were later exchanged for prisoners held by Colombia. One of the ringleaders, Juan Requesens, a leader of the US-funded, Venezuelan Primero Justicia party, confessed to collaborating with a Colombian immigration official to kill Maduro.

In a CNN interview with a perpetrator of the attack “somewhere in Colombia,” one of the attackers admitted to three meetings with American officials following the failed assassination plot. (CNN did not disclose the location where the interview was conducted or where the explosives were made).

In a stroke of absurdity, the FBI affidavit against Lang flatly states: “The United States is at peace with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

 

Guaidó defector claims Paul Gray was involved in Operation Gideon plot against Venezuela

One day after The Grayzone’s report on the exploits of wanted murderer Craig Lang and white nationalist Paul Gray in Ukraine, an unnamed former associate of Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó came forward with a major revelation.

In an interview with the Venezuelan public TV network TeleSUR, the former Guaidó associate stated that he recognized Paul Gray from planning meetings held for Operation Gideon, a disastrously failed invasion of Venezuela conducted by 60 anti-government insurgents led by US mercenaries.

The source told TeleSUR correspondent Madelein Garcia that like Craig Lang, Gray was in Cucuta as a member of a “group of around 10 or 12 American mercenaries” planning Operation Gideon in February 2019.

That same month, the United States Agency for International Development staged an invasion of Venezuelan territory under cover of a caravan of trucks filled with supposed aid. Complimented by a Live Aid concert organized by British billionaire Richard Branson in Cucuta, the stunt ended in ignominy, as hooligans associated with the US-backed Venezuelan opposition torched USAID’s aid deliveries and attempted to blame their destruction on Maduro. USAID later admitted the entire operation was little more than a regime change ploy.

Like the drone attack and the supposed aid caravan, Operation Gideon was a disaster for everyone involved. According to one key member of the insurgent team, Yacsy Álvarez, the operation was backed by the US with a major assist from Colombian intelligence.

Some 60 Venezuelan insurgents and private mercenaries with the now-disgraced Silvercorp USA company attempted to enter Venezuela by boat, overtake an airport, and eventually capture President Maduro. But government officials had embedded within the group and easily wrapped up what has since been dubbed “The Bay of Piglets.”

The former Guaidó insider told Telesur that he first encountered Paul Gray, the US white nationalist, at a farm belonging to Don Pedro Barrigas, a Colombian businessman, accused paramilitary leader, and ally of Álvaro Uribe Vélez. Barrigas’ brother also happens to be a senator.

According to the source, Gray went by the name “Snake” during the Gideon planning meetings.

“Paul Gray was sitting there, three seats from me,” the Guaidó defector asserted.

The involvement of an infamous activist who has belonged to four US-based neo-Nazi groups, served in the Georgian National Legion in Ukraine, which is led by a US asset welcomed by members of Congress, and the new revelations of his alleged involvement in Operation Gideon raise serious questions about whether he and Lang are just ideologically-motivated war tourists or whether they are, in fact, imperial shock troops traversing a US intelligence ratline from one operation to the next.

Feature photo | MintPress News

Alexander Rubinstein is a former staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He writes about police, prisons, and protests in the United States. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.

The post FBI: Ukraine Fighter and US Fugitive Craig Lang Armed by Colombia To Overthrow Venezuela Gov’t appeared first on MintPress News.

Informe de seguridad en Estados Unidos advierte sobre los neonazis que regresan de combatir contra Rusia y Venezuela

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/06/2022 - 5:16am in

Tags 

Venezuela

Actualmente combatiendo en Ucrania, el neonazi Paul Gray fue identificado como uno de los organizadores de un ataque mercenario a Venezuela. Buscado por asesinato, Craig Lang también está en Ucrania, luego de entrenar con insurgentes antichavistas en la frontera colombo-venezolana. Actualización: Una persona vinculada al líder del golpe en Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, le ha dicho a Telesur que vio al neonazi Craig Lang entre los organizadores de la fallida Operación Gedeón, la invasión de “Bahía de cochinitos”. Lea el reportaje […]

The post Informe de seguridad en Estados Unidos advierte sobre los neonazis que regresan de combatir contra Rusia y Venezuela appeared first on The Grayzone.

Ukraine volunteer fighter and US citizen Craig Lang armed by Colombia to overthrow Venezuela’s gov’t, FBI source says

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 06/06/2022 - 1:07pm in

An FBI affidavit against an American fighting in Ukraine, Craig Lang, states he was previously armed by Colombian police to attack the Venezuelan government. Another American fighting in Ukraine, white nationalist Paul Gray, was also involved in a plot to topple Venezuela’s government, according to a former associate of coup leader Juan Guaidó. Lang is wanted by the US for murdering a couple in Florida and robbing them to pay for his trip to the Venezuelan border. He is also […]

The post Ukraine volunteer fighter and US citizen Craig Lang armed by Colombia to overthrow Venezuela’s gov’t, FBI source says appeared first on The Grayzone.

Mark Esper’s Tell-Some Reveals US Plans for War and Terror Against Venezuela

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 8:04am in

WASHINGTON – A new book from former Defense Secretary Mark Esper has revealed shocking new details about the Trump administration’s war on Venezuela. “A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times” admits that the Trump administration plotted to invade Venezuela and discussed assassinating President Nicolas Maduro, carrying out a wave of terrorist attacks on civilian infrastructure, and raising a mercenary army to start a Contra-style terror war. Esper also all but confirms Washington’s involvement in Operation Gideon – a botched military invasion of the country, and a 2018 attempt on Maduro’s life.

While barely covered in Western media, Esper’s confessions have caused a storm of commotion in the South American nation. However, Diego Sequera, a Caracas-based investigative journalist, told MintPress that few were taken aback by the news. “It is, in a way, shocking. But on the other hand, it is pretty much usual for us here,” he said, adding: “The news is not surprising at all; we in Venezuela are used to it. Since 2004, when the first Colombian paramilitary unit with a plan to assassinate President [Hugo] Chavez was arrested, there have been a lot of exposés of this nature.”

 

“Really part of the United States”

Donald Trump invited self-declared Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó to be the guest of honor at his State Of The Union address in 2020, where Guaidó was described as “the true and legitimate president” and received a standing ovation from Republicans and Democrats alike.

Trump and Guaidó’s post-SOTU meeting was reported in the press at the time as “focused on actions to achieve democracy and liberty.” Esper’s account, however, reveals that the conversation revolved around an American invasion of the country. Trump, who Esper says had been “fixated on Venezuela since the early days of his administration,” asked Guaidó directly, “What if the U.S. military went down there and got rid of Maduro?” The offer was music to the ears of the Venezuelan, who replied, “Of course we would always welcome U.S. assistance.” Guaidó had attempted four coups already, each time calling on the people and the military to rebel and join his side, but had received a less than enthusiastic response.

Esper’s account aligns with that of a previous tell-all book from National Security Advisor John Bolton. In “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” Bolton claims Trump said that it would be “cool” to invade Venezuela because it is “really part of the United States.”

 

The invasion had some vociferous backers in the room, including Mauricio Claver-Carone, senior director of the National Security Council, and Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security advisor. Esper felt Claver-Carone’s judgment was clouded by his personal investment in undermining Latin American socialism, being as he was, a member of the virulently anti-communist Miami-Cuban community. Often called “the capital of Latin America,” Miami is full of emigres who push Washington for a more hawkish stance on Cuba, Venezuela, and Latin America more generally. Bolton’s book also paints Claver-Carone and O’Brien as hawks.

Esper, however, was alarmed by the prospect of a military quagmire and suspected that Guaidó was far less powerful than he made out to be. As Esper told Trump, the Venezuelan opposition would only “fight to the last American.” When he asked Guaidó directly whether “his people” would be willing to organize, train and fight, the response amounted to “It would be so much easier and quicker if the U.S. would do this for us.”

 

Operation Gideon

Instead, Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley suggested raising an army of mercenaries to carry out a terror war against the Venezuelan population, along the lines of what the U.S. did with the Contras in Nicaragua. As Esper wrote:

General Milley also thought we should look at irregular warfare options, such as the U.S. training and arming of Venezuelan expatriates [REDACTED]. The United States had a long history with these types of operations. It was an idea worth developing. Milley and I had discussed this several times before.”

However, Guaidó’s team was more interested in discussing secret plans of which even Esper was unaware. At one point, one of Guaidó’s colleagues leaned forward and said, “We have some plans you [the U.S. government] know we are working on; they’re just not ready yet,” made a quick reference to Florida, and shared a smile, a nod and a knowing look with Claver-Carone.

At the time, Esper claims to have been nonplussed by this comment. However, he later understood it as a reference to Operation Gideon, an attempt by a semi-private Florida mercenary firm to mount an amphibious invasion of Venezuela, shoot their way to the presidential palace, capture, detain, or “remove” Maduro, and install Guaidó as “president.”

Operation Gideon was attempted just a few weeks after the meeting, but failed spectacularly as the heavily armed mercenaries were overpowered even before they reached land, when disgruntled lobstermen from the local fishing collective disarmed them with nothing more than fishing knives and old revolvers. The event has since been christened Trump’s “Bay of Piglets.”

While the operation was carried out with extraordinary incompetence, the seriousness of the event should not go understated. Guaidó himself signed a contract with SilverCorp USA, a Trump-linked mercenary firm, that stated the group would become his personal death squad after the insurrection, with the power to murder and assassinate all people resisting the new government. For this service, Guaidó promised to pay SilverCorp an initial fee of around a quarter of a billion dollars. The deal was signed at Trump’s Mar a Lago resort in Florida. The U.S. servicemen who participated in the botched operation were sentenced to 20 years in a Venezuelan prison.

“I wasn’t at all surprised by Mark Esper’s revelations, given the U.S.’s long and sordid history of destabilization of governments that are not to its liking,” said Steve Ellner, a retired professor of economic history and political science at the Universidad de Oriente in Venezuela.

Ellner, an American who has lived in Venezuela for over 40 years and closely studied the rise in tensions between the two nations, added:

Esper’s revelations lead to nothing less than the conclusion that Washington was involved in the abortive drone strike in August 2018 that exploded at a public event that was meant to kill Maduro, his wife Celia Flores and various top military commanders. It also leads to the conclusion that Washington was involved in the Operation Gideon of 2020 that had as its goal the kidnapping of Maduro.”

Bolton’s book also hints at U.S. involvement in the 2018 assassination attempt, which he describes as “hilarious.” Shortly after the attempt, Trump demanded that Bolton “get it done” – “it” meaning the removal of Maduro. “This is the fifth time I’ve asked for it,” he added.

 

Terror squad

Esper’s memoir also reveals that senior U.S. officials often spoke frankly and candidly about carrying out waves of terror attacks on Venezuelan civilian infrastructure, a disclosure that sheds new light on a number of highly suspicious explosions, fires, blackouts and other mishaps inside Venezuela – events that the Maduro administration has long blamed on the United States. Western media, however, routinely dismissed these allegations as conspiracy theories.

Esper alleges that on June 9, 2020, O’Brien proposed a military strike on a coastal port that handled much of the country’s oil imports and exports. “The means could be either an air strike or the use of Navy SEALs,” he said. The effect would be to “further disrupt their energy supplies and provoke more unrest.” According to Esper, the group rejected the plan in favor of a coordinated cyberattack on critical Venezuelan infrastructure instead.

However, ten days later, the U.S. government (including Esper himself) agreed to what he called the development of “kinetic and nonkinetic options, both overt and [REDACTED], that could disrupt Venezuela’s oil and arms shipments. Options would need to include actions that would have a material impact on key industrial and other high-value targets.”

Just weeks after this decision, former U.S. Marine and CIA agent Matthew Heath was arrested outside Venezuela’s largest oil refining complex. When apprehended, Heath was carrying a submachine gun, a grenade launcher, four blocks of C4 explosives, a satellite phone, stacks of U.S. dollars and detailed information about the complex. Both the U.S. government and U.S. media have largely ignored Heath’s trial for terrorism and arms trafficking, strongly suggesting that he was indeed caught in the act while on “official business.”

 

The Beto O’Rourke of Venezuela

While Trump was publicly singing Guaidó’s praises, endorsing him as the true leader of a free Venezuela, behind closed doors, he said exactly the opposite. According to Esper, Trump thought Guaidó was a remarkably “weak” politician, especially compared to the “strong” and “tough” Maduro.

Trump commented on the fact that Guaidó’s wife, Fabiana Rosales, did not even wear a wedding ring, another sign of weakness, according to the president. In fact, Esper says, “Trump seemed more impressed by Rosales than her husband,” always making time to speak to her rather than him, and treating her very warmly. The 73-year-old president commented that the 27-year-old Rosales looked “very young” and attractive.

Bolton’s book also mentions that Trump quickly soured on Guaidó but remained intensely interested in his wife. After multiple failed coups, Trump reportedly took to calling him “the Beto O’Rourke of Venezuela” – suggesting that he saw Guaidó as someone who talked a good game but had no substance or support behind him.

Donald Trump, Fabiana Rosales

Trump, right, meets with Fabiana Rosales, left, wife of Juan Guaido in the Oval Office, March 27, 2019. Susan Walsh | AP

Trump’s judgment appears to have been better than that of those around him. After a series of failed coups and embezzlement scandals, what support Guaidó had appears to have withered away, with some polls showing only 4% of the Venezuelan public backing him. As the population suffers, Guaidó continues to live a life of extreme luxury, mostly from Venezuelan funds confiscated by the U.S. “At this point, Juan Guaidó is nothing other than a joke in Venezuela,” Ellner told MintPress, adding:

I say that not only because he is totally discredited among the Venezuelan people, but because leaders of the hard-line faction of the opposition have distanced themselves from him, and of course even more so in the case of the other half of the organized opposition, which favors dialogue with Maduro.”

Sequera agreed, calling Guaidó the “frontman of a criminal operation that is stealing our own goods.”

 

Financial terrorism and invading Africa

The Trump administration also tightened the noose around Venezuela’s economy by intensifying the Obama administration’s sanctions. Companies found to be in breach of the U.S. economic blockade could be shut down, fined, and their executives threatened with decades in prison. The result was a collapse in the Venezuelan economy and huge shortages of goods. A United Nations Special Rapporteur who visited the country likened the Trump administration’s actions to a medieval siege, estimated that over 100,000 Venezuelans had been killed as a result, and recommended the UN investigate the U.S. for crimes against humanity.

Esper claims that as Venezuela and Iran tried to find ways of trading with each other to prevent their economies collapsing and to prevent mass deaths, his team “looked for ways to shut those activities down.” One of these methods was to arrest and kidnap Venezuelan businessman and diplomat Alex Saab, who was traveling between the two countries to secure a trade deal. On U.S. orders, Saab was arrested after his plane stopped off in Cabo Verde, an island nation off the west coast of Africa. Saab was detained and is now being held hostage in Florida. In November, MintPress traveled to Caracas to speak to Saab’s wife Camila.

The detention of Saab – who was traveling on official business using a diplomatic passport – was a major violation of international law. Esper reveals that the Trump administration was paranoid that Russia, a Venezuelan ally, would stage a special operations mission to rescue Saab. As a precaution, the Department of Defense immediately ordered the U.S. fleet in the Mediterranean Sea be deployed to Cabo Verde – including thousands of marines.


A mural of Alex Saab that reads in Spanish “Free Alex Saab. They haven’t been able to bend him,” in Caracas. Ariana Cubillos | AP

Thus, the U.S. would be effectively invading Cabo Verde under the pretext that Russia might try to free the diplomat they had kidnapped. Esper and others put a stop to this plan at the 11th hour, but the U.S. continues to hold Saab captive to this day.

By the time of the Saab affair, Bolton had been kicked out of the White House. But his account of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela tells a similar story (although he uses much more sadistic language than does Esper). In Bolton’s view, “we had Maduro by the windpipe and needed to constrict it.” “We began devising steps to take immediately against Maduro’s regime, and also Cuba,” he explained, “Oil sanctions were a natural choice, but why not declare Venezuela a ‘state sponsor of terrorism,’ something I first suggested on October 1, 2018, and also return Cuba to the list after Obama had removed it?” he asked, thereby inadvertently conceding that the State Sponsors of Terrorism list has nothing to do with terrorism and is merely a list of governments the U.S. wants to overthrow.

As Bolton – a much more openly cold-blooded person than Esper – states, sanctions are not about justice, but about “using America’s massive economic power to advance our national interests.”

 

What comes after ‘sociopath’?

Throughout his account, Esper portrays himself as a long-suffering but loyal bureaucrat who was trying to do the best thing for his country while surrounded by fools and loose cannons. While he considered quitting in protest, even knowing he would be treated as a “hero” for doing so, he decided to persevere as “it was the right thing to do for our country.” “My soldiers don’t get to quit when the going gets tough, so I won’t either,” he added. Indeed, at some points, Esper presents himself as a veritable saint, claiming that, “[o]n more than one occasion, Leah would say to me, ‘As your wife, please quit. As an American citizen, please stay.’”

Despite his best intentions, Esper still comes off as a sociopath attempting to intimidate the world into submission. Throughout the book, he reveals how he had to constantly quash Trump’s desire to end endless wars and pursue peace with adversaries.

Trump himself proposed a complete withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and South Korea, nations where U.S. forces have been stationed for nearly 20 and 70 years respectively. This, for Esper, was “outlandish.” He explained to Trump that, “[w]ithout [the U.S. occupation], we would squander the leverage that a continued U.S. military presence and the threat of force gave us.”

Esper was also “disgusted” by Trump’s proposition to meet with the Taliban for peace talks that could have ended the war. According to Esper, the entire team was against ending the occupation, stating:

​​As the president went around the room, we each tried to dissuade him in different ways. I recommended against it, reminding him that ‘the Taliban have the blood of American service members on their hands, not to mention their role in the death of nearly three thousand civilians killed on our own soil on 9/11.’”

Esper refrained from noting that none of the 9/11 hijackers were Afghans and most came from U.S. ally Saudi Arabia.

Trump was also reportedly highly skeptical of the need to flood Ukraine with weapons, questioning why the United States had to support such a corrupt administration as Zelensky’s and asking why Germany or other European nations could not do so if it were so imperative. To Esper’s relief, the hawks in the room were able to win the day on that issue as well.

MintPress also spoke with Joe Emersberger, co-author of the book “Extraordinary Threat: The U.S. Empire, the Media, and Twenty Years of Coup Attempts in Venezuela.” In Emersberger’s opinion, there is “absolutely no basis for doubting the truth of the excerpts from Esper that have been so widely cited.” As he explained:

Esper is not ‘confessing’ to anything that could bring legal trouble for himself or other U.S. officials. The U.S. has imposed murderous and utterly criminal sanctions on Venezuela in broad daylight, flaunting its extreme impunity. Esper speaks with [the] calm candor of a hitman who has already cut a rock-solid deal with prosecutors and fears nothing.”

Trump was far from an anti-war activist, however, and was committed to regime change in Venezuela, whatever the cost. The billionaire president reportedly saw it as a massive money-spinner and was obsessed with gaining control over Venezuela’s vast oil fields, something Esper saw as gauche. Esper was also committed to overthrowing Maduro, but only in “the right way, the smart way.”


Esper, left, breifs the press about US “counter-narcotics” operation around Venezula, April 1, 2020, next to Gen. Mark Milley. Alex Brandon | AP

According to Emersberger,

Trump ignorantly assumed the Maduro government would be an easy target, something a bully like Trump could not resist, especially the prospect of direct looting of its oil. By the time he realized otherwise, he and his gang were locked into a cycle of escalation that Biden has essentially maintained, backtracking only slightly due to fallout from the war in Ukraine.”

While Esper was no dove, others in Trump’s inner circle appear to have delighted in cruelty. Esper claims that the president’s senior policy advisor, Stephen Miller, argued that U.S. forces in the Middle East should cut off the heads of enemy forces, smear them in pig’s blood (which Muslims consider to be unholy), and display them in public as a means of psychological warfare.

 

Yesper

Esper’s new book also makes a number of other sensational claims about what went on in the White House behind closed doors. Among them is that Trump was furious at the George Floyd protests in Washington, asking General Milley why he would not simply shoot them all in the legs as he had asked. Trump demanded 10,000 troops in the streets of the nation’s capital in order to “restore order.”

Trump also reportedly discussed sending 250,000 troops to the Mexican border and firing missiles into Mexico in order to destroy cartel-run drug labs. “We could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs quietly…no one would know it was us,” he insisted.

Trump, for his part, has rejected the comments about shooting protesters in the leg, although he refused to comment on the Mexico missiles idea. “Mark Esper was a stiff who was desperate not to lose his job,” Trump retorted. “He was a lightweight and a figurehead, and I realized it very early on.” Trump went on to say that Esper was a “RINO [Republican in name only] incapable of leading” and that he called him “Yesper” – a nickname suggesting that he saw him as a spineless yes man.

While the revelations about Mexico and the George Floyd Protests have received significant attention in corporate media, such is the bipartisan consensus in Washington on Venezuela that carrying out wars, regime-change operations, terrorist attacks and assassination attempts against an elected foreign head of state has been ignored. When it comes to the U.S. empire, everyone, it seems, is on the same page.

Feature photo | Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks during military ceremonies, Saturday, June 13, 2020, in West Point, N.Y. John Minchillo | AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior 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, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post Mark Esper’s Tell-Some Reveals US Plans for War and Terror Against Venezuela appeared first on MintPress News.

Breaking Through for LGBTQI Rights

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/05/2022 - 6:04am in

We have to understand that the ones who are in these spaces are the ones who can create change, be it positive or negative....

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When you corrode and corrupt democracy, it has consequencesHow an axis of awful is blocking the oil we need from Venezuela to replace Russian oil and stop Putin

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/03/2022 - 3:25am in

Venezuela has the largest reserves of oil on the planet. If you look at OPEC, they put Saudi Arabia as number two. Venezuela’s producing very little oil, not even enough for its own needs at this moment, when it was producing 3.2 million barrels of oil a day. If we unleash oil from Venezuela, then Putin’s profit ... READ MORE

New Great Game: Can Venezuela Negotiate an End to Deadly US Sanctions?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/03/2022 - 4:27am in

How the tables have turned. A high-level US delegation visited Venezuela on March 5, hoping to repair economic ties with Caracas. Venezuela, one of the world’s poorest countries partly due to US-Western sanctions is, for once, in the driving seat, capable of alleviating an impending US energy crisis if dialogue with Washington continues to move forward.

Technically, Venezuela is not a poor country. In 1998, it was one of the leading OPEC members, producing 3.5 million barrels of oil a day (bpd). Though Caracas largely failed to take advantage of its former oil boom by diversifying its oil-dependent economy, it was the combination of lower oil prices and US-led sanctions that pushed the once relatively thriving South American country down to its knees.

In December 2018, former US President Donald Trump imposed severe sanctions on Venezuela, cutting off oil imports from the country. Though Caracas provided the US with about 200,000 bpd, the US managed to quickly replace Venezuelan oil as crude oil prices reached as low as $40 per barrel.

Indeed, the timing of Trump’s move was meant to ravage, if not entirely destroy, the Venezuelan economy in order to exact political concessions, or worse. The decision to further choke off Venezuela in December of that year was perfectly timed as the global oil crisis had reached its zenith in November.

Venezuela was already struggling with US-led sanctions, regional isolation, political instability, hyperinflation and, subsequently, extreme poverty. The US government’s move, then, was meant to be the final push that surely, as many US Republicans and some Democrats concluded, would end the reign of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuela has long accused the US of pursuing a regime change in Caracas, based on allegations that the socialist Maduro government had won the 2018 elections through fraud. And, just like that, it was determined that Juan Guaidò, then Venezuela’s opposition leader and president of the National Assembly, should be installed as the country’s new president.

Since then, US foreign policy in South America centered largely on isolating Venezuela and, by extension, weakening the socialist governments in Cuba and elsewhere. In 2017, for example, the US had evacuated its embassy in the Cuban capital, Havana, claiming that its staff was being targeted by “sonic attacks” – a supposed high-frequency microwave radiation. Though such claims were never substantiated, they allowed Washington to walk back on the positive diplomatic gestures towards Cuba that were carried out by the Barack Obama administration, starting in 2016.

For years, Venezuela’s inflation continued to worsen, reaching 686.4 percent last year, according to statistics provided by Bloomberg. As a result, the majority of Venezuelans continue to live below the extreme poverty line.

The government in Caracas, however, somehow survived for reasons that differ, depending on the political position of the analysts. In Venezuela, much credence is being given to the country’s socialist values, the resilience of the people and to the Bolivarian movement. The anti-Maduro forces in the US, centered mostly in Florida, blame Maduro’s survival on Washington’s lack of resolve. A third factor, which is often overlooked, is Russia.

In 2019, Russia sent hundreds of military specialists, technicians and soldiers to Caracas under various official explanations. The presence of the Russian military helped ease fears that pro-Washington forces in Venezuela were preparing a military coup. Equally important, Russia’s strong trade ties, loans and more, were instrumental in helping Venezuela escape complete bankruptcy and circumvent some of the US sanctions.

Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union decades ago, Russia remained largely committed to the USSR’s geopolitical legacy. Moscow’s strong relations with socialist nations in South America are a testament to such a fact. The US, on the other hand, has done little to redefine its troubled relationships with South America as if little has changed since the time of the hegemonic Monroe Doctrine of 1823.

Now, it seems that the US is about to pay for its past miscalculations. Unsurprisingly, the pro-Russia bloc in South America is expressing strong solidarity with Moscow following the latter’s intervention in Ukraine and the subsequent US and Western sanctions. Wary of the developing energy crisis and the danger of having Russian allies within a largely US-dominated region, Washington is attempting, though clumsily, to reverse some of its previous missteps. On March 3, Washington decided to re-open its Havana embassy and two days later, a US delegation arrived in Venezuela.

Now that Russia’s moves in Eastern Europe have re-ignited the ‘Great Game’ of a previous era, Venezuela, Cuba and others, though thousands of miles away, are finding themselves at the heart of the budding new Great Game. Though some in Washington are willing to reconsider their long-standing policy against the socialist bloc of South America, the US mission is rife with obstacles. Oddly, the biggest stumbling block on the US path towards South America is neither Caracas, Havana or even Moscow, but the powerful and influential lobbies and pressure groups in Washington and Florida.

A Republican Senator, Rick Scott from Illinois, was quoted in Politico as saying “the only thing the Biden admin should be discussing with Maduro is the time of his resignation.” While Scott’s views are shared by many top US officials, US politics this time around may have little impact on their country’s foreign policy. For once, the Venezuelan government has the stage.

Feature photo | Gas prices are seen in front of a billboard advertising HBO’s Last Week Tonight in Los Angeles, March 7, 2022. Jae C. Hong | AP

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The post New Great Game: Can Venezuela Negotiate an End to Deadly US Sanctions? appeared first on MintPress News.

How to Stop Putin’s War Windfall by Ending Our Embargo of Venezuelan Oil

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/03/2022 - 11:33pm in

The mayhem in Ukraine is a profit center for Putin. 43% of the federal Russian budget was provided by oil and gas revenues and royalties. Russia lives and dies, literally, on its oil revenues, and this ... READ MORE

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