Trump’s Karmic Test

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 16/02/2020 - 12:00am in

Renée Parsons For those who believe that there is more to life than just the physical, material world, the role of karma is well understood. Popularly known as what-goes- around, comes-around is not frivolous new age lingo but a Universal cause and effect concept that is pertinent to everyday life. It can be measured by …

Media Presents Anger and Jeers Against Juan Guaido as Hometown Hero’s Welcome

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/02/2020 - 5:51am in

Self-declared Venezuelan “Interim President” Juan Guaido may have been given a hero’s welcome at President Trump’s State of the Union Address last week, but he certainly did not receive the same treatment after he touched down at Simon Bolivar International Airport, Caracas, yesterday. His very presence was enough to turn those present, including airport employees, into an enraged mob hectoring, jeering and manhandling him, kicking his car and covering him in water and other liquids.

Video shows an angry female immigration employee shouting, “You are a traitor to our country” as his passport is getting checked. Others yelled “murderer” and “fascist” at the controversial opposition politician. Guaido was roughed up in a scrum of angry Venezuelans, his shirt ripped and his pride dented. Another video shows an employee of Conviasa (an airline recently sanctioned by Trump) chasing him through the arrivals lounge, pouring beer on him, expressing her contempt for him. He escaped in his car as onlookers pelted it with traffic cones chanting that he was “trash” and a “murderer.”

Perhaps more notable than the event is how corporate media, who have strongly supported Guaio in the past, described the event. The influential French newswire Agence France-Presse described the scenes caught on camera as him “being greeted by a throng of cheering supporters at the Caracas international airport, where he arrived on a flight from Portugal.” And their account was picked up across the media.

Guaido was returning from a world tour where he was trying to increase support for further sanctions on his country. According to a study by the Washington-based Center for Economic Policy Research, Trump’s sanctions against Venezuela killed at least 40,000 people between late 2017 and 2018. An American Special Rapporteur for the United Nations visited the country and declared Trump as guilty of crimes against humanity. The U.N. deems the sanctions illegal, called on all countries to break them, and even discussed reparations the United States should pay to Venezuela. The sanctions, in their opinion, have been designed to hit “the poor and most vulnerable,” rather than political leaders.

Guaido was given a standing ovation by both Democrats and Republicans last week as guest of honor at Trump’s State of the Union address, the president describing him as a “very brave man who carries with him the hopes dreams and aspirations of all Venezuelans” fighting against the “socialist dictator of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro,” promising to “smash and break” the Venezuelan government.

Over the past year, Guaido has attempted four separate coups against Maduro, all of which have ended unsuccessfully. Guaido’s political mentor Leopoldo Lopez has stated that if they successfully regain power, they will call on the United States to formally govern the country.

Virtually unknown in Venezuela until last January, Guaido shocked the world by declaring himself the president, despite never having run for the office. In a secret meeting with Vice-President Mike Pence, Guaido promised him that he had the support of at least half the Venezuelan armed forces, getting him to provide open support for a coup. But when the time came no one rebelled, leaving him in an awkward position. His co-perpetrators fled to the United States, where they believed they would be given a warm welcome. Instead, as MintPress News reported, they have been incarcerated in an ICE concentration camp ever since.

The self-declared interim president is increasingly unpopular inside his own coalition. In January he was voted out of a leadership position, after which he staged a faked publicity stunt where he climbed over the fence of the National Assembly, claiming he had been locked out – something that did not go well in Venezuela but was presented around the world as a heroic act. He has also been embroiled in a number of corruption scandals, caught publicly intoxicated, and stands accused of embezzling over $90 million of U.S. taxpayer money. A December survey conducted by a right-wing pollster found that only ten percent of the country supported him. Throughout all of this, however, neither the Democrats’ nor the Trump administration’s loyalty to him has ever wavered.

This latest incident at the airport is another jarring reminder of the chasm between the image of Venezuela the West receives through corporate media and the reality on the ground. Once again, the press prints bad news from Venezuela, knowingly planting fake news in order to lay the groundwork for more regime change operations.

Feature photo | Juan Guaido, center, arrives at the Simon Bolivar International Airport in La Guaira, Venezuela, Feb. 11, 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 Media Presents Anger and Jeers Against Juan Guaido as Hometown Hero’s Welcome appeared first on MintPress News.

SOTU: Democratic “Resistance” Give Trump’s Venezuela Aggression a Standing Ovation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/02/2020 - 5:26am in

Donald Trump was in defiant mood at last night’s State of the Union Address in Washington, D.C., confident that he will be acquitted in the Senate impeachment trial today. While there is a great amount of talk that the United States is racked with partisan strife, when it comes to foreign policy, the parties are in near lockstep agreement. A case in point was the cheers from the audience as Trump announced that “we are once again standing up for freedom in our hemisphere” by “supporting the hopes of Cubans, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans.”

“The United States is leading a 59 nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro. Maduro is an illegitimate ruler, a tyrant who brutalizes his people. But Maduro’s grip on tyranny will be smashed and broken,” Trump declared. He then turned to the gallery to announce that he had invited a “very brave man who carries with him the hopes dreams and aspirations of all Venezuelans” to be there, “The true and legitimate president of Venezuela Juan Guaidó.” Perhaps the loudest applause of the night was reserved for Guaidó, as Democrats and Republicans rose as one to salute the self-declared president. Leading the clapping was Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives and liberal icon Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi was more enthusiastic even than Vice-President Mike Pence, beating him out of her seat to give Guaidó a standing ovation.

While showing very little disagreement with the president’s proclamations, she was still lauded in liberal circles for tearing up Trump’s speech at the end of the event, long after the president had refused to shake her hand. Immediately “Nancy the Ripper” became the trend of the night on social media, as messages of support flooded in for the supposedly brave action that spoke truth to power. On the other hand, conservatives were outraged at the gesture. “It was disgraceful. It was disgusting. I was sitting 50 feet away for her and it made me angry because what she showed and what congressional Democrats showed was contempt for America; that they won’t root for the American people and they won’t show even the barest modicum of respect for the American president,” roared Texas Senator Ted Cruz on Fox News.

Yet, despite the talk of resisting Trump, Pelosi and the Democratic establishment’s record shows they have done anything but that. In December 188 House Democrats joined the Republicans to push through Trump’s enormous military budget bill, including funding for his Space Force. Democratic resistance is often strongest when the president has made moves to de-escalate militarism and aggression across the world. Even those who position themselves on the left of the party are largely behind Trump on foreign policy. Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, for instance, supported the Trump administration’s coup against leftist Bolivian leader Evo Morales and declared that she was “all for” sanctions against Maduro.

The U.S. sanctions against Venezuela have been condemned by the United Nations, which called on all member states to block them, noting that they have been designed to hit the poor and most vulnerable hardest. A recent study found that they killed at least 40,000 Venezuelans between 2017 and 2018 alone. Alfred de Zayas, an American U.N. Special Rapporteur, visited the country and declared the Trump administration guilty of crimes against humanity, comparing them to a medieval siege.

One notable exception to the State of the Union echo chamber was Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, who walked out of the event unable to stand “the lies, the bigotry and the shameless bragging.” Matt Duss, foreign policy advisor to Bernie Sanders, summed up the carnival, “Pelosi applauded some truly awful portions of the speech but at least she gave you suckers a good gif at the end,” he wrote. However, he appeared to oppose Trump’s actions in Latin America only on the grounds that it was giving Russia a bigger foothold in the hemisphere, rather than for any ethical considerations.

Virtually unknown both inside and outside Venezuela until a year ago, Guaidó came to prominence in January 2019 after declaring himself president. He attempted four unsuccessful coups against the elected government of Nicolas Maduro, all with U.S. backing, the last of which went so poorly few people noticed it. Over the past year, his domestic support has declined after a series of scandals, including public drunkenness and accusations of embezzling over $90 million in U.S. taxpayer money. Guaidó had promised Pence that he had the support of at least 50 percent of the Venezuelan armed forces, getting the vice president to agree to support a coup. But when the time came, no one defected. Guaidó fled the country, going on a world tour to try to drum up support for his cause. His co-perpetrators escaped to the United States where they assumed they would be treated well. Instead, they have spent over nine months incarcerated in an ICE concentration camp for illegally crossing the border. In an interview with Telemundo, one of their leaders claimed that Guaidó had abandoned them.

In January, as Guaido was also dropped by the coalition of domestic opposition parties, he staged a publicity stunt where he climbed over the fence of the National Assembly, claiming he had been locked out. The U.S. subsequently sanctioned his political partners for turning against him. The White House announced that Trump would meet him for an official visit today.

A key topic of the State of the Union Address was the economy, with the president claiming there had been a “blue collar boom” thanks to his administration, with working-class Americans experiencing a new golden age. Trump also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who revealed this week he has stage four lung cancer. Ironically, because of Trump’s sanctions against the island, Limbaugh is unable to legally travel to Cuba, where they have developed a vaccine against the disease.

Feature photo | Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó applauds as President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 4, 2020. Patrick Semansky | 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 SOTU: Democratic “Resistance” Give Trump’s Venezuela Aggression a Standing Ovation appeared first on MintPress News.

Identity Politics: Nihilism, Ego & Distraction

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/01/2020 - 3:00pm in

Andre Vltchek In the West, there is a new wave of political correctness at work: it is all about one’s sexual orientation; who has sex with whom, and how. Suddenly, the mass media in London, Paris and New York is greatly concerned about who has the right to change his or her sex, and who …

Boris Johnson – Did the UK get what it deserves?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 28/12/2019 - 10:45am in

Andre Vltchek For in a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, “hold office”; every one of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the …

Pro-Coup Venezuelan Soldiers Who Fled to the US Now Locked Up in ICE Detention Center

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 28/12/2019 - 5:21am in

The Venezuelan soldiers who participated in the U.S.-backed coup attempt in April of this year and subsequently fled to the U.S. have been incarcerated in ICE detention camps ever since. Telemundo, a subsidiary of NBCUniversal, secured an interview with Major Hugo Parra, the highest-ranking of the handful of soldiers who answered self-declared President Juan Guaidó’s call to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro. After the coup ended in spectacular failure, Parra revealed that he fled the country, ending up in the United States on April 11, where he expected to be given a hero’s welcome for his part in the Trump-approved insurrection.

Hugo Parra

Major Hugo Parra, left, and first lieutenant Erick Molina cross the border into the United States where they surrendered themselves to immigration authorities on April 11, 2019. Photo | Raynell Martínez

Instead, he was immediately detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), first kept in a facility in Texas, then later transferred to the Winn Correctional Center in Louisiana. He has been refused all requests for bail or appointments to see a judge, one of nearly 42,000 people, most of them from Latin America, currently locked up in ICE prisons.

Parra told the pro-coup Telemundo:

I have fallen to rock bottom. I have lost everything: my family, my house. My actions were worth nothing. I don’t see any way out.”

Thus, his attempts to bring about a U.S.-backed far-right military regime in Venezuela ended ironically with him in the custody of a militarized authoritarian system he was trying to establish.

While top U.S. officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Senator Marco Rubio specifically called on the military to rebel against Maduro, Parra said he felt totally abandoned by both the U.S. government and by Juan Guaidó, Washington’s handpicked successor to Maduro. Guaidó had promised to protect all military defectors, but, despite using Parra for public relations purposes, has diligently ignored his pleas for help. Guaidó’s ambassador to the U.S., Carlos Vecchio, likewise shunned the detained soldiers, according to Parra. “All the steps have been taken” the detained soldier lamented, so that Vecchio could support them with a lawyer but he has not been able to elicit anything.

When asked for a response, Guaidó’s Director of Consular Affairs in Washington, Brian Fincheltub, distanced himself from Parra: “Every day in Venezuela there are millions of emergencies and hundreds of cases like this that are happening,” adding that the resources of the diplomatic mission of the interim president in the country are limited and that they have restrictions to act “especially on immigration issues.”

Guaidó has attempted three coups this year, in January, April and November. All were backed by the United States. The last of the three was so unsuccessful that it was barely noticed even inside the country. Guaidó, someone that over 80 percent of Venezuelans had not heard of in January, has seen his popularity wane throughout the year as his increasingly desperate attempts to seize power continued to fail.

He had previously convinced Vice President Mike Pence that he commanded the loyalty of the majority of the armed forces in the country, but when Pence and Guaidó joined forces to call on them to rebel, only about 0.1 percent did so. Guaidó’s mentor Leopoldo Lopez also told international media at a press conference that if his party succeeded in ousting Venezuala’s government, they would ask the U.S. to come in and govern Venezuela formally.

Despite being generously bankrolled by the American taxpayer, their Popular Will party remains the sixth-largest in the country. Guaidó has also been the subject of multiple embezzlement scandals totaling over $90 million this year alone. It appears, therefore, that the U.S. government increasingly sees him as something of a charlatan who tricked them into supporting a series of hare-brained schemes bound for failure. As a result, media depictions of him have fallen from glowing in January to frosty by December.

venezuela coup

Guaido, Colombia’s President Ivan Duque and Vice President Mike Pence, pose after a meeting in Bogota, Colombia, Feb. 25, 2019. Martin Mejia | AP

Nicholas Maduro, the handpicked successor of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez,  won the country’s re-election in May 2018 in a vote that, on U.S. government orders, the more radical wing of the Venezuelan opposition refused to participate in. Since then, Washington has increased its economic warfare on the country.

Trump’s sanctions were declared illegal by the United Nations, who implored every member state to break them. In September of 2018, former special rapporteur for the United Nations, Alfred de Zayas criticized the US for engaging in “economic warfare” against Venezuela which he said is hurting the economy and killing Venezuelans. De Zayas compared the sanctions to medieval siege warfare.

The U.S. has had moderate success in drumming up international support for its handpicked successor to Maduro, convincing around a quarter of the world’s countries to support Guaidó. Three-quarters of the world’s countries still recognize Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

If throwing key collaborators in their coup attempts in ICE prison camps becomes a common policy, the U.S. might find even fewer Latin Americans willing to risk overthrowing their own governments.

Feature photo | Detainees walk toward a fenced recreation area during a media tour at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility, Sept. 10, 2019, in Tacoma, Wash. Ted S. Warren | AP

Alan MacLeod is a MintPress Staff Writer as well as an academic and writer for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. His book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting was published in April.

The post Pro-Coup Venezuelan Soldiers Who Fled to the US Now Locked Up in ICE Detention Center appeared first on MintPress News.

Trump and the coup in Bolivia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/12/2019 - 10:00am in

Bill Martin This is not about me, of course, but my leftist friends (and I mean the actual friends) often accuse me of “making excuses for Trump.” It’s true that I often argue that there are many things coming out of the White House that do not really reflect Trump’s perspective, aims, or agenda. There …

2019 Latin America in Review: Year of the Revolt of the Dispossessed

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/12/2019 - 1:58am in

Corte Madera, California — A year ago, John Bolton, Trump’s short-lived national security advisor, invoked the 1823 Monroe Doctrine making explicit what has long been painfully implicit: the dominions south of the Rio Grande are the empire’s “backyard.” Yet 2019 was a year best characterized as the revolt of the dispossessed for a better world against the barbarism of neoliberalism. As Rafael Correa points out, Latin America today is in dispute. What follows is a briefing on this crossroads.


Andean Nations

Venezuela, the leader for regional integration and 21st-century socialism, continued to be ground zero in the clash between the empire and those nations pursuing post-neoliberal alternatives and a multipolar world.

On the evening of January 22, trained US security asset and head of the suspended Venezuelan National Assembly Juan Guaidó received a call from US Vice President Pence, giving Guaidó the green light to declare himself president of Venezuela. The next day, Guaidó proclaimed his presidency on a Caracas street corner. Within minutes Trump recognized the self-appointment, later followed by some fifty US allies. Still most nations in the world did not recognize Guaidó, and the United Nations continues to recognize Maduro as the constitutional president of Venezuela.

Guaidó called for harsher US sanctions on his own people and even the US “military option.”  Gone was the pretext that sanctions targeted only the government. The former US Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield boasted that these measures “would have an impact on everyone… to accelerate the collapse.” From President Barack Obama’s sanctions in 2015, Trump progressively ratcheted up the pain to the current blockade. This illegal collective punishment had already caused over 40,000 deaths by the beginning of the year according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), in a war by economic means, denying the Venezuelan people vital food and medicine.

Yet Guaidó failed to come to power. His publicity stunt on February 23 to bring “humanitarian aid” from Colombia fizzled. To make things worse, envoys of Guaidó in Colombia were caught embezzling some of the very funds slated for humanitarian assistance. Soon after this debacle, a staged coup on April 30 by Guaidó and a few military officers on an overpass in eastern Caracas aborted. In November, Guaidó made an even more pathetic coup attempt. His ability to garner support atrophied, drawing the ire even of some hardline opposition who formerly backed him, while the Maduro government continued to rally substantial popular demonstrations and signed a peaceful coexistence agreement with some moderate opposition parties in September.

Despite attempts by Washington to incite ruptures within the Venezuelan security forces, the “civic-military union” built by Chavez and continued under Maduro held firm, and the ranks of the militias continue to grow. And despite heavy lobbying by the Trump administration, Venezuela was voted onto the UN Human Rights Council on October 27.

In a bid to compensate for the diminished stature of the anti-Venezuela Lima Group,  on December 3, Colombia convened a summit for the activation of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) against Venezuela, to ratchet up sanctions even further and keep the military option on the table. By the end of 2019, even the Wall Street Journal conceded, “Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, once thought ripe for ouster, looks firmly in place.”

In Washington, North American solidarity activists defended the Venezuelan embassy from being taken over by Guaidó collaborators (April – May 2019). With the permission of the Venezuelan government and pursuant to international law, the Embassy Protectors held out for 37 days until expelled by the Secret Service. The four last defenders – Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese, Adrienne Pine, David Paul – will go to trial, facing possible stiff penalties. On October 25, journalist Max Blumenthal was also arrested and charged (subsequently dropped), as the US government cracks down on dissent both at home and abroad.

Colombia is the chief regional US client state, distinguished by being the largest recipient of US military aid in the hemisphere. Hillary Clinton called Plan Colombia a model for Latin America. Yet this model leads the world in extra-judicial killings of journalists, union leaders, and environmentalists. Meanwhile, Colombia continues to be the planet’s largest supplier of illicit cocaine.

A 2016 peace agreement saw the guerrilla FARC lay down their arms, but the government has honored the agreement mainly in the breach. Death squad activity continued in 2019, targeting former FARC militants. A faction of the FARC returned to the guerrilla path.

In a sign of growing disaffection with the hardline right-wing influence of former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe and his protégé and current President Iván Duque, the far-right suffered significant losses in the October regional and municipal elections. Left-leaning Claudia López became the first woman and first lesbian to be mayor of the capital city of Bogotá. By year-end, Colombia experienced massive general strikes opposed to government austerity policies dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Bolivia. Evo Morales was the first indigenous president of this largely indigenous country. Under the 14 years of his Movement for Socialism party (MAS), Bolivia had the highest economic growth rate and the greatest poverty reduction in the Western Hemisphere. Bolivia became a world champion for indigenous and poor people, aligning with the progressive governments of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

Morales was fairly re-elected president on October 20. Because the US-backed candidate lost, the US called his election “fraudulent.” A compliant Organization of American States (OAS) disseminated misleading information on the validity of the election. Thus, the stage was set for the November 10 coup, when Morales was forced to “resign” by the military.

Thirteen US members of Congress sent a “dear colleague” letter condemning the “Administration’s support for [the] military-backed regime and silence on violent repression [which] contributes to spiraling crisis.” This letter stands in stark contrast to the close association of key figures behind the coup with allies in Washington, the OAS Secretary General’s embrace of coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho, and the endorsement of the coup by the right-wing neighbors. President Trump “applauded” the Bolivian military despite its well documented systematic violations of human rights.

The self-proclaimed President Jeanine Áñez smeared indigenous communities as “satanic” in tweets, later deleted. Morales is now in exile, and the indigenous and other poor continue to protest in the face of lethal, racist repression.  At this writing, Morales, the MAS, and most of the popular sectors have agreed to new elections but efforts are underway by backers of the de facto government to disqualify the MAS from participating in an eventual election.

Bolivia Coup Feature photo

A backer of President Evo Morales kneels in front of soldiers in downtown La Paz, Bolivia, Nov. 15, 2019. Natacha Pisarenko | AP

Ecuador. Speaking of reversals, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno took the prize. Moreno had served as vice president in a previous leftist government headed by Rafael Correa, who had campaigned for Moreno. Upon assuming the presidency in 2017, Moreno inexplicably and unexpectedly betrayed the platform, the voters, and the party that put him in office. He jailed his vice president and later other leaders of his former party and put out an arrest warrant for Correa, who is now in exile. On April 11, Moreno handed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who had been in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, to the British police.

Moreno withdrew Ecuador from ALBA, the leftist regional organization of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and some Caribbean nations. Last January, he recognized the US puppet Guaidó as president of Venezuela. By mid-year, Moreno gave the US an airbase on the Galápagos.

Moreno forgave some $4.5 billion in fines and debt by major corporations and oligarchs and then papered it over by an IMF loan. With the loan came austerity measures, el paquetazo, including removing fuel subsidies. The mass protest of the dispossessed, led by the indigenous CONAIE organization, was so overwhelming that Moreno was temporarily forced to flee the capital city of Quito and rescind some elements of the paquetazo. Moreno continues to push IMF stipulated austerity measures while repressing his former party’s elected representatives.

Peru is in crisis, wracked with corruption scandals. In April 2019, former President Alan García shot himself as the police were preparing to arrest him for corruption, while fellow former President Alberto Fujimori is in jail on corruption accusations and human rights violations.  Former President Alejandro Toledo also faces corruption accusations and is fighting against extradition from the US. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was the last directly elected president of Peru. Formerly a US citizen and an IMF and World Bank official, he was forced to resign for corruption in March 2018 shortly before he was slated to host a meeting of the anti-Venezuela Lima Group to expose Venezuela for corruption.

Ever since, the presidency of Peru has been disputed. The current moderate-right President Martín Vízcarra dissolved the congress; the congress controlled by the far-right Keiko Fujimori (free after a year in detention for corruption) impeached the executive, although Vízcarra recovered the presidency. In the context of this dog fight among the elites have been massive anti-corruption mobilizations from below.


The Southern Cone

Brazil. New Year 2019 marked the inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil. The election of hard-right Bolsonaro – called the “Trump of Brazil” by friends and foes alike – was a major reversal from the previous left-leaning Workers Party governments.

Brazil has by far the biggest economy in Latin America and the eighth in the world and is part of the BRICS bloc including Russia, India, China, and South Africa. With a sycophant of Trump heading Brazil, both hemispheric and world geopolitics suffer the loss of a countervailing element to US hegemony. Brazil voted with the US and Israel for continuing the US blockade on Cuba and against 187 other UN members.

Former left-leaning President Lula da Silva would have easily beaten Bolsonaro if the polls were any indication, but corrupt judge Sergio Moro sent Lula to prison on evidenceless charges. The judge was rewarded by ironically being made minister of justice in the new Bolsonaro government. Similarly, Dilma Rousseff, who was Lula’s left-leaning successor as president of Brazil, had been deposed on a technicality by the right-leaning congress in what amounted to a parliamentary coup in 2016.

An international campaign to free Lula finally succeeded in November, but far too late for him to run against Bolsonaro. Lula is free and fighting now, but could be incarcerated again.

Bolsonaro went about dismantling social welfare measures, firing government workers, and rewarding multinational corporations, while the Amazon burned. Predictably the popular sectors arose leading to an uncertain political situation in Brazil.

Chile. The Chilean people launched a general strike against austerity with slogans such as “neoliberalism was born in Chile and will die here.” Reacting to the “privatization of everything,” the uprising this fall has been truly from the grassroots with the established political parties sprinting to catch up with the popular revolt of the dispossessed.

Over a million protestors have taken to the streets in a country with a population of only 19 million. Many have remained there for weeks despite severe repression by the state, leaving numerous killed by live ammunition and rubber bullets. According to official state data, more than 8,000  have been jailed, almost 3,000 injured, and over 200 suffered ocular damage. Hundreds of lawsuits for police brutality have been filed, including sexual abuses. The right-wing billionaire President Sebastián Piñera suspended some constitutional rights, declaring a “state of emergency” in a country still under the constitution created by the dictator Pinochet.

A police water cannon sprays anti-government demonstrators in Valparaiso, Chile, Oct. 26, 2019. Matias Delacroix | AP

Argentina. After right-wing President Mauricio Macri imposed textbook perfect neoliberal economic reforms, the Argentine economy spectacularly and predictably failed with rampant inflation, food shortages, currency free-fall, and capital flight. Even the middle class protested in the streets in enormous uprisings of the dispossessed.

On October 27, the center-left ticket of Alberto Fernández as president and Cristina Fernández as VP won and announced Argentina will leave the regional anti-Venezuela Lima Group. They will also have to deal with Macri’s record-breaking $50.1 billion IMF loan, saddling the people with austerity measures in a country that is broke and again at the edge of default.

Uruguay. The ruling left-center Frente Amplio’s candidate, Daniel Martínez, won in the first round of Uruguay’s presidential elections on October 27, but by a too narrow margin to avoid a runoff election. He faced a united right-wing in the November 24 runoff against Luis Lacalle Pou, which ended his party’s 15-year rule.


The Caribbean

Cuba. The US embargo of Cuba, initiated by US President Kennedy and now a blockade (el bloqueo), along with covert regime-change operations and occupation of Guantánamo have continued in an unbroken policy of aggression through Democratic and Republican administrations alike. Most recently Trump resurrected Title III of the Clinton-era Helms-Burton Act to intensify the blockade. The Cuban people show no sign of capitulating.

Cubans welcomed a new president, as Miguel Díaz-Canel succeeded Raúl Castro. On April 10, they ratified a new constitution, after an extensive consultative process, engaging some 9 million people, 780,000 suggestions, 9,600 proposals, and 133,000 citizen meetings.

Puerto Rico and Cuba were the spoils of the first imperialist war, the 1898 Spanish-American War. Unlike free Cuba, Puerto Rico is still a neglected colonial possession of the US. And that political fact has never been clearer with Puerto Rico still not fully recovered from Hurricane María and still not governing itself to solve its own problems.

Puerto Rico experienced mass protests and a general strike in 2019. Governor Ricardo A. Rosselló was forced to resign on July 22. Puerto Rican liberation hero Oscar López Rivera observed: “Even before the governor announced his resignation, the fact is that he was not governing Puerto Rico.”

Haiti. After the harsh 29-year US-backed Duvalier dictatorships and the subsequent “military transition,” a brief flourishing of democracy ended in Haiti when the US brazenly kidnapped President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and flew him into exile in 2004. Since then, a series of dubiously elected presidents – some literally installed and all propped up by the US – have produced human rights and social welfare conditions worse than under the dictatorships.

Haiti | Venezuela Petro Caribe

A man holds a bowl and spoon to show his hunger during a protest against President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 7, 2019. Dieu Nalio Chery | AP

Billions in relief after the 2010 earthquake and in Petrocaribe funds from Venezuela have largely “disappeared” into the pockets of corrupt politicians. In response, the ever-restive Haitian populace has yet intensified the uprising of the dispossessed throughout the country. The newly formed Patriotic Forum united 62 social movements, who call not only for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, but a complete dismantling of the “system of exclusion” and for a new republic of justice, transparency, and participation. They demanded chavire chodyè a (overturn the cauldron).


Central America and Mexico

Honduras. The designation of Honduras as a narco-state is supported by the October 18  conviction in US federal court of President Juan Orlando Hernández’s (JOH) brother Tony for cocaine smuggling.  JOH, the latest of a line of corrupt presidents since the 2009 US-backed coup, is identified as co-conspirator by the prosecutors. Testimony in the US court revealed that the notorious Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo gave JOH $1 million to help him rig the presidential election in 2013.

The US continued to prop up the tottering JOH regime staggering in the face of huge waves of popular protests including a prolonged national strike this summer. And those not opposing the government in the streets headed for asylum in the US, fleeing from gang violence and government malfeasance.

Guatemala. Right-wing comedian Jimmy Morales became president of Guatemala in August. In response to the revolt of dispossessed against his neoliberal rule, he declared a state of siege in five departments. Tens of thousands marched on Guatemala City, including the indigenous Xinkas, while many more Guatemalans fled the violence and everyday oppression seeking asylum at the US border.

The wounds of the US-backed genocidal dirty war of the 1980s against the largely indigenous population, taking some 200,000 lives, have not been healed but continue to be reinforced by harsh neoliberal measures and a regime of impunity fueling the exodus to the north. While lamenting the plight of these migrants, the corporate press in the US failed to recognize the made-in-America causes of their evacuation.

El Salvador. Likewise, El Salvador, another former victim of the US-backed dirty wars, added to the stream of Honduran and Guatemalan migrants seeking asylum in the US from the conditions created in large part by the country of their intended refuge.

Businessman Nayib Bukele, formerly associated with the left FMLN party and now turned right, was elected under the banner of the right-wing GANA party. He assumed the presidency on June 1, replacing Salvador Sánchez Ceren of the FMLN. Bukele has fallen in line with Washington’s drive to curtail emigration from the Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) and has reversed his nation’s foreign policy to accord with the Lima Group’s drive for regime change in Venezuela.

Nicaragua. 2019 was a year of hopeful recovery in Nicaragua, healing from successfully repulsing a US-backed coup the previous year. The domestic perpetrators were granted amnesty by leftist President Daniel Ortega, and social welfare indices were again on the ascent. Although the poorest country in Central America, Nicaraguans were for the most part not fleeing for the US but were rebuilding their homeland.

Mexico is the second-largest economy in Latin American and the eleventh in the world. After decades of right-wing rule, left-of-center Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) assumed the presidency last December and his new MORENA party swept local and regional offices with the expectation that corruption, inequality, and other long-festering economic injustices would be addressed. AMLO dissented from the anti-Venezuelan Lima Group and instituted a series of progressive domestic reforms.

Mexico Anti-US Feature photo

A vendor sells flags reading, “Trump out,” during an anti-imperialist protest decrying U.S. intervention in Latin America, in Mexico City. Rebecca Blackwell | AP

Trump forced AMLO to contain the Central American immigrants massing on the US southern border or face tariff increases and other measures that would wreck the Mexican economy. As nineteenth-century Mexican President Porfirio Díaz famously lamented: “Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States.”


A New Year’s message

2019 has not been an entirely bullish year for US imperialism, notwithstanding the hard turns to the right in Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador.  Powerful winds against neoliberalism are gusting in Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and even in the US “Commonwealth” of Puerto Rico. Regime-change operations failed in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. US-preferred candidates suffered losses in Mexico, Colombia, and Bolivia (later reversed by a coup). And the hegemon is challenged in its own “backyard” by the increased influence of Russia and especially China, now the second-largest trading partner with Latin America and the Caribbean.

Recently Cuban President Díaz-Canel addressed the 120-state Non-aligned Movement (a third of which are sanctioned by Washington) with this perceptive thought for a multi-polar world: “There are more of us. Let us do more.”

Feature photo | Venezuelans raise their hands in a show of support for President Nicolas Maduro during a pro-government rally in Caracas, Venezuela, March 9, 2019. Demonstrators danced and waved flags on what organizers labeled a “day of anti-imperialism” in a show of defiance toward the United States. Ariana Cubillos | AP

Roger Harris is with the Task Force on the Americas and the Campaign to End US/Canada Sanctions Against Venezuela.

Source | This article was originally published on the Council on Hemispheric Affairs website and republished here with special permission from the author.

The post 2019 Latin America in Review: Year of the Revolt of the Dispossessed appeared first on MintPress News.

Venezuela and the embargo

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/11/2019 - 5:27am in



Should have posted this a while ago. I had a conversation with the World Bank economist above on how much of the problems of Venezuela are the result of the embargo. Here a paper by Francisco Rodríguez. Worth reading.

Reclaiming Your Inner Fascist

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/11/2019 - 4:53am in

OK, we need to talk about fascism. Not just any kind of fascism. A particularly insidious kind of fascism. No, not the fascism of the early 20th Century. Not Mussolini’s National Fascist Party. Not Hitler’s NSDAP. Not Francoist fascism or any other kind of organized fascist movement or party. Not even the dreaded Tiki-torch Nazis.

It’s the other kind of fascism we need to talk about. The kind that doesn’t come goose-stepping up the street waving big neo-Nazi flags. The kind we don’t recognize when we’re looking right at it.

It’s like that joke about the fish and the water … we don’t recognize it because we’re swimming in it. We’re surrounded by it. We are inseparable from it. From the moment we are born, we breathe it in.

We are taught it by our parents, who were taught it by their parents. We are taught it again by our teachers in school. It is reinforced on a daily basis at work, in conversations with friends, in our families and our romantic relationships. We imbibe it in books, movies, TV shows, advertisements, pop songs, the nightly news, in our cars, at the mall, the stadium, the opera … everywhere, because it is literally everywhere.

It doesn’t look like fascism to us. Fascism only looks like fascism when you’re standing outside of it, or looking back at it. When you are in it, fascism just looks like “normality,” like “reality,” like “just the way it is.”

We (i.e., Americans, Brits, Europeans, and other citizens of the global capitalist empire) get up in the morning, go to work, shop, pay the interest on our debts, and otherwise obey the laws and conform to the mores of a system of power that has murdered countless millions of people in pursuit of global-hegemonic dominance. It has perpetrated numerous wars of aggression. Its military occupies most of the planet. Its Intelligence agencies (i.e., secret police) operate a worldwide surveillance apparatus that can identify, target, and eliminate anyone, anywhere, often by remote control. Its propaganda network never sleeps, nor is there any real way to escape its constant emotional and ideological conditioning.

The fact that the global capitalist empire does not call itself an empire, and instead calls itself “democracy,” doesn’t make it any less of an empire. The fact that it uses terms like “regime change” instead of “invasion” or “annexation” makes very little difference to its victims. Terms like “security,” “stability,” “intervention,” “regime change,” and so on are not meant for its victims. They are meant for us … to anesthetize us.

The empire is “regime-changing” Bolivia currently. It has “regime-changed” most of Latin America at one time or another since the Second World War. It “regime-changed” Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia, Indonesia … the list goes on. It very much wants to “regime-change” Iran, which it “regime-changed” back in the 1950s, before the Iranians “regime-changed” it back. It would love to “regime-change” Russia and China, but their ICBMs make that somewhat impractical. Basically, the empire has been “regime-changing” everyone it can since the end of the Cold War. It has run into a little bump in Syria, and in Venezuela, but not to worry, it will get back there and finish up eventually.

Now, let’s be clear about this “regime-change” business. We’re talking about invading other people’s countries, and orchestrating and sponsoring coups, or otherwise overthrowing their governments, and murdering, torturing, and oppressing people. Sending in terrorists, death squads, and such. We have organizations that train guys to do that, i.e., to round people up, take them out to the jungle, or the woods, or wherever, rape the women, and then summarily shoot everyone in the head. We pay for this kind of thing with our taxes, and our investments in the global corporations that our militaries and intelligence agencies serve. We know this is happening. We can google this stuff. We know “where the trains are going,” as it were.

And yet, we do not see ourselves as monsters.

The Nazis didn’t see themselves as monsters. They saw themselves as heroes, as saviors, or just as regular Germans leading regular lives. When they looked at the propaganda posters which surrounded them (as the Internet surrounds us today), they didn’t see sadistic mass-murderers and totalitarian psychopathic freaks. They saw normal people, admirable people, who were making the world a better place.

They saw themselves. They saw “the good guys.”

This is primarily how propaganda works. It isn’t meant to fool anybody. It is there to represent “normality” (whatever “normality” happens to be in whatever empire one happens to inhabit). It is Power’s way of letting us know what it wants us to believe, how it wants us to behave, who our official enemies are. Its purpose isn’t to mislead or deceive us. It is an edict, a command, an ideological model … to which we are all expected to conform. Conform to this ideological model, and one is rewarded, or at least not punished. Deviate from it, and suffer the consequences.

It is a question of obedience, not one of truth.

This is why it doesn’t matter that there is no actual “Attack on America,” and that the Russians didn’t “hack,” “subvert,” “meddle in,” or otherwise significantly “influence” the 2016 presidential election or otherwise put Donald Trump in office. John Brennan and the CIA say they did, and the corporate media say they did, so all Good Americans have to pretend to believe it. Likewise, it also doesn’t matter if an organization like the OPCW collaborated with the empire’s regime-change specialists who staged a “chemical weapons attack” on helpless women and children in Douma (because, no matter what the empire did or didn’t do, Assad is a Russian-backed, baby-gassing devil!), or if The Guardian just makes up stuff about Julian Assange out of whole cloth and prints it as news.

This is also why, when The Guardian runs an enormous color propaganda photo of a beneficent-looking Hillary Clinton and her soon-to-be-Democratic senator daughter posing as our last line of defense against the Invasion of the Putin-Nazis, and as the future of Western democracy, and whatever, on the cover of its cultural Review, this isn’t perceived as propaganda. Never mind that this woman (i.e., Hillary) is directly responsible for the deaths and misery of God knows how many innocent people in the course of her lucrative service to the empire. Never mind that this is the same exact person that sadistically cackled on national television when the empire’s associates anally knife-raped and murdered Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, and then transformed a developed African country into a hellish human-slavery market.

For fascists (and authoritarian personalities generally), facts are completely beside the point. The point is to robotically conform to the ideology (or hysterical ravings) of whatever leader or system of power happens to be in charge of things.

Authoritarian personality types are skilled at determining exactly who that is (i.e, who is really in charge of things) and obsequiously currying favor with them. For some, this is an innate talent; others have this talent conditioned into them (or beaten into them) over the course of years. Either way, the result is the same.

Put a bunch of random people together in a group and give them a problem to solve, or a complex project or objective to accomplish. Don’t give them any organizational guidance, just put them in a room and watch what happens.

The first thing that happens is … a “leader” emerges. Someone (or a few people) decides that someone needs to be in charge of this project, and they feel pretty strongly that it should be them. If more than one such “leader” emerges, or if the need for a leader itself is challenged, a struggle for power will immediately ensue. The aspiring “leaders” will compete for the support of the “followers” in the group. Sides will be taken. Eventually, a “leader” will be chosen. Occasionally, this will happen openly, but, more often than not, it will happen unconsciously. Someone in the group will want to dominate … and the rest of the group will want them to dominate. They will experience discomfort until a “leader” is established, and they will feel an enormous sense of relief once one is, and they can surrender their autonomy.

I assume you’re familiar with the Milgram experiment, but, if not, you should probably read up on that, and maybe read Adorno’s The Authoritarian Personality. It’s a bit outdated, and over-focused on the Nazis (it was originally published in 1950), but I think you’ll get the general idea. Once you’ve done that, turn on your television, or your radio, or scan the news on the Internet, or walk down any big city street and compare the content on the digital billboards, movie posters, and advertisements to historical fascist propaganda … that is, if your boss will let you leave the workplace long enough to do that, which he probably will if you ask him in that special way you have learned over time that he likes and generally tends to respond to.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to get inside your mind. That’s kind of a fascistic thing to do.

Look, the point is, we all have an “Inner Fascist,” with whom we are either acquainted or not. I’m a playwright and a novelist, which means I’ve got a big, fat, Sieg-heiling Inner Fascist goose-stepping around inside my head. I invent whole worlds, which I dictatorially control. I put people in them and make them say things. It doesn’t get much more fascistic than that. The way I see it, my art is how I sublimate my Inner Fascist, so that he doesn’t run around invading Poland, exterminating the Jews, or “regime-changing” Bolivia.

I’m not a psychiatrist, or a fascism expert, but I figure this is probably the most we can do … recognize, acknowledge, and find some way to sublimate our Inner Fascists, because, I guarantee you, they’re not going away. (If you don’t believe me, go watch that Planet Earth episode featuring the fascist chimpanzees.) Seriously, I recommend you do this. Get acquainted with your Inner Fascist, in an appropriate set and setting, of course. Give him something safe to dominate and then let him go totally totalitarian. You’ll be doing yourself and the rest of us a favor.

Ironically, it is those who are not acquainted with their Inner Fascists (or who deny they have one) who are usually the first to make a big public show of loudly denouncing “fascism,” brandishing their “anti-fascist” bona fides, accusing other people of being “fascists,” and otherwise desperately projecting their Inner Fascists onto those they hate, and want to silence, if not exterminate. This is one of the hallmarks of repressed Inner Fascism … this compulsion to control what other people think, this desire for complete ideological conformity, this tendency, not to argue with, but rather, to attempt to destroy anyone who disagrees with or questions one’s beliefs.

We all know people who behave this way. If you don’t, odds are, one of them is you.

So, please, if you haven’t done so already, get acquainted with your “Inner Fascist,” and find him something harmless to do, before he … well, you know, starts singing hymns to former FBI directors, or worshipping the CIA, or Obama, or Trump, or Hillary Clinton, or supports the empire’s next invasion, or coup, or just makes a desperate, sanctimonious ass of you both on the Internet.

I’m not kidding. Reclaim your “Inner Fascist.” It might sound crazy, but you will thank me someday.


CJ Hopkins
November 19, 2019
Photos: (1) Baby Hitler/Unknown; (2) The NSDAP Secures the National Community/Wiener Holocaust Library; (3) The Guardian Review, Ian Sinclair/Twitter

CJ Hopkins Summer 2018 thumbnail

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