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Εγχειρίδιο χειρισμού κρίσεων λόγω πολιτικών ΔΝΤ από τη CIA! / Already confirmed: Civil liberties under attack! / Greece's creditors gone completely insane! / How the global financial mafia sucked Greece's blood / ECB's economic hitmen / The German Thatcher confirms bureaufascists' plans! / Η Μέρκελ επιβεβαιώνει τα σχέδια των γραφειοφασιστών! /Greece: the low-noise collapse of an entire country/ Proxy wars everywhere, the planet already in flames ... / Ενώ η Γερμανία προετοιμάζεται για τα χειρότερα, η Ελλάδα επιμένει στο ευρώ! / Ένας παγκόσμιος "proxy" πόλεμος κατά της ελευθερίας έχει ξεκινήσει! / McCarthyism 2.0 against the independent information / Ο επικεφαλής του "σκιώδους συμβουλίου" της ΕΚΤ επιβεβαιώνει ότι η ευρωζώνη είναι μια χρηματοπιστωτική δικτατορία! / It has started: A global proxy war against freedom! / Βαρουφάκης: Το ΤΧΣ δεν ελέγχεται από το δημόσιο! / Η Ευρώπη συνθλίβεται από τους φασίστες, τους ισλαμοφασίστες, τους γραφειοφασίστες και τα αφεντικά τους / Europe crushed by the fascists, islamofascists, bureaufascists and their masters / Δεν γίνεται έτσι "σύντροφοι" ... / Panama Papers: When mainstream information wears the anti-establishment mask / The Secret Bank Bailout / The head of the ECB “shadow council” confirms that eurozone is a financial dictatorship! / A documentary by Paul Mason about the financial coup in Greece / The ruthless neo-colonialists of 21st century / First cracks to the establishment by the American people / From Tsipras to Corbyn and Sanders: This is not the Left we want / Clinton emails - The race of the Western neo-colonialist vultures over the Libyan corpse / Επιχείρηση Panama Papers: Το κατεστημένο θέλει το μονοπώλιο και στις διαρροές; / Operation "looting of Greece" reaches final stage / Varoufakis describes how Merkel sacrificed Greece to save the Franco-German banks / France officialy enters the neo-Feudal era! / The US establishment just gave its greatest performance so far ... / A significant revelation by WikiLeaks that the media almost ignored / It's official: the US is funding Middle-East jihadists! / Οι αδίστακτοι νεο-αποικιοκράτες του 21ου αιώνα / How to handle political unrest caused by IMF policies!

28 April, 2017

Funding terror in Colombia banana republic: a case study of dirty US corporate intervention

Ten years ago, Chiquita Brands International became the first U.S.-based corporation convicted of violating a U.S. law against funding an international terrorist group—the paramilitary United Self-defense Forces of Colombia* (AUC). But punishment for the crime was reserved only for the corporate entity, while the names of the individual company officials who engineered the payments have since remained hidden behind a wall of impunity.

As Colombian authorities now prepare to prosecute business executives for funding groups responsible for major atrocities during Colombia’s decades-old conflict, a new set of Chiquita Papers, made possible through the National Security Archive’s FOIA lawsuit, has for the first time made it possible to know the identities and understand the roles of the individual Chiquita executives who approved and oversaw years of payments to groups responsible for countless human rights violations in Colombia.

National Security Archive

Key points:

  • In secret testimony on January 6, 2000 Robert F. Kistinger, head of Chiquita’s Banana Group based in Cincinnati, Ohio, told the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] he had direct knowledge about many of the payments to armed groups, especially when they began in the late 1980s, but claimed that he had become less and less involved with the specifics over time. In his view, the amounts of money paid to the groups—hundreds of thousands of dollars per year—were simply not large enough to affect the company’s bottom line.

  • The secret, sworn statements from the SEC probe are the de facto oral history of Chiquita’s ties to terrorist groups in Colombia—a unique and damning firsthand account of how one multinational corporation developed and routinized a system of secret transactions with actors on all sides of the conflict in order to maintain normal business operations—even thrive—in one of the most conflictive regions of the world, all the while treating the payments as little more than the “cost of doing business in Colombia.”

  • The AUC was a loose federation of rightist militants and drug traffickers responsible for a terrible legacy of violent acts in Colombia going back to the 1980s. Chiquita began to pay the AUC sometime in 1996-1997, just as the group launched a nationwide campaign of assassinations and massacres aimed at unionists, political activists, public officials and other perceived guerrilla supporters, often working with the collaboration or complicity of Colombian security forces. Over the next several years, the AUC dramatically increased its numbers and firepower, raised its political profile, infiltrated Colombian institutions, drove thousands of Colombians from their homes, and for the first time challenged guerrilla groups for control of strategic areas around the country. Chiquita agreed to pay a relatively modest $25 million fine as part of its deal with the DOJ [U.S. Department of Justice], but not a single company executive has ever been held responsible for bankrolling the AUC’s wave of terror. Nor have any Chiquita officials faced justice for millions more in outlays to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), the Popular Liberation Army (EPL), and practically every other violent actor in the region.

  • Efforts to hold individual Chiquita executives accountable for financing the groups are complicated by a deliberate decision on the part of the U.S. Justice Department to withhold the names of the people behind the payments scheme. At the September 2007 sentencing hearing in the terror payments case, U.S. government attorneys specifically argued against the public identification of the Chiquita officials “to protect the reputational and privacy interests of uncharged individuals.”

  • The key that unlocks many of the mysteries of the Chiquita Papers is the secret testimony given by Kistinger and six other Chiquita officials during the SEC’s expansive bribery investigation. Through a relatively simple, if laborious, process of cross-referencing among the three sources, it is possible to identify almost all of the individuals whose names were scrubbed from the Factual Proffer, the SLC [Chiquita’s Special Litigation Committee] Report, and the SEC testimony—effectively stripping away the redactions that have shielded Chiquita personnel from scrutiny and that have helped guarantee impunity for individuals linked to the payments.

  • As the most thoroughly-documented case study on the role of multinational corporations in Colombia’s conflict, the new set of Chiquita Papers should factor into the forthcoming investigations of transitional justice authorities created by the recent peace accord with the FARC. The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) will prosecute the most serious crimes committed during the conflict, while the recently-approved Colombian Truth Commission is an extrajudicial body established to provide clarification about the worst abuses of the conflict and to explain the phenomena that perpetuated the longest continuous war in the world.

  • Buried inside nearly 400 pages of SEC testimony are many of the clues needed to learn the identities of executives and managers at Chiquita who authorized and carried out the “sensitive payments” program but whose names Chiquita, the DOJ, and the SEC tried to hide from public view.

  • To Ordman [former Senior Vice President of European Banana Sourcing for the Chiquita Fresh Group] and Kistinger, who were based outside of the Colombian “war zone,” payments to insurgents and death squads, alarming at first, soon became business as usual—the price to be paid for access to the rich plantations of Colombia’s violently-contested Atlantic coast. In their SEC statements, both describe a process of becoming comfortable with the legal justifications in place and the specific procedures the company had established to handle the payments. Kistinger said he viewed the payments as a “normal expenditure,” not unlike the purchase of fertilizers or agrichemicals—“an ongoing cost” of the company’s business operations.

  • The SEC transcripts reveal that Chiquita’s Colombia-based staff were less comfortable with the payments than their bosses in Costa Rica and Cincinnati, and that at least one employee openly questioned whether the company had moved beyond protection payments and was willingly funding the operations of violent groups.

Full report, links and documents:

* The United Self-Defenders of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, or AUC, in Spanish) was a Colombian paramilitary and drug trafficking group which was an active belligerent in the Colombian armed conflict during the period from 1997 to 2006. The AUC was responsible for attacks against the FARC and ELN rebel groups as well as numerous attacks against civilians beginning in 1997 with the Mapiripán Massacre.

The militia had its roots in the 1980s when militias were established by drug lords to combat rebel kidnappings and extortion. In April 1997 the AUC was formed through a merger, orchestrated by the ACCU, of local right-wing militias, each intending to protect different local economic, social and political interests by fighting left-wing insurgents in their areas.

The organization was initially led by Carlos Castaño until his murder in 2004 and the organization was believed to have links to some local military commanders in the Colombian Armed Forces. Amnesty International calls the paramilitarys groups army of Colombia's Auxiliary forces and Human Rights Watch the sixth division.

The AUC had about 20,000 members and was heavily financed through the drug trade and through support from local landowners, cattle ranchers, mining or petroleum companies and politicians.

The Colombian military has been accused of delegating to AUC paramilitaries the task of murdering peasants and labor union leaders, amongst others suspected of supporting the rebel movements and the AUC publicly and explicitly singled out 'political and trade union operatives of the extreme left' as legitimate targets. The AUC was designated as a terrorist organization by many countries and organizations, including the United States, Canada and the European Union.

Syria's Assad says Trump is puppet of US deep state

Trump "changed his rhetoric completely and subjected himself to the terms of the deep American state, or the deep American regime," Assad said

Part 1

"Yes, from a Western perspective, you are now sitting with the devil. This is how they market it in the west," Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told teleSUR's Rolando Segura in an exclusive interview from Damascus, addressing a range of subjects including claims of chemical attacks as well as the shifting geopolitical alignments impacting the war which has ravaged his country.

Speaking on the subject of Donald Trump, the Syrian leader said the U.S. president "has no policies," but is rather implementing decisions made by "the intelligence agencies, the Pentagon, the big arms manufacturers, oil companies, and financial institutions."

"As we have seen in the past few weeks, he changed his rhetoric completely and subjected himself to the terms of the deep American state, or the deep American regime," Assad said.

Despite running on a platform promising a departure from the interventionist foreign policy of predecessor Barack Obama, Trump launched 59 tomahawk missiles on the al-Shariat air base in Homs on April 6 in response to allegations of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government — claims which Syria's leader denies.

"That’s why it is unrealistic and a complete waste of time to make an assessment of the American president’s foreign policy, for he might say something; but he ultimately does what these institutions dictate to him. This is not new. This has been ongoing American policy for decades."

Source, links, videos:


Venezuela formally begins process to exit 'interventionist' OAS

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said her country's decision was based on dignity and sovereignty

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez presented the official letter Thursday to start the process for the country to pull out of the Organization of American States, which she said was attempting to intervene and promote a coup in Venezuela.

"Today we formalize and present the letter to definitely pull out of this organization," said Rodriguez in a press conference from the Foreign Ministry's office in Caracas. "We will defend the self-determination of our people."

Rodriguez said the move was based on a question of dignity and that President Nicolas Maduro's decision, which was taken to defend Venezuela from arbitrary abuses and illegal actions carried out by the OAS against the country, had been both praised and respected.

"Today is a day of victory for Venezuela, we woke up today freer and more independent," the foreign minister continued.

Rodriguez criticized OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro, accusing him of responding to U.S. interests to destabilize Caracas, adding that the organization has a historical precedent of promoting interventions, coups and invasions in the region.

Almagro has repeatedly called for the Democratic Charter to be applied against Venezuela, which would have lead to its suspension from the organization.

"When I wake up in the morning, I am happy to say I do not have to call Washington to tell me what to do," she said, referring not only to Almagro, but also other foreign ministers in the region who supported him in promoting actions against Venezuela.

Rodriguez slammed the organization for its hypocrisy of constantly criticizing the political and economic crisis in Venezuela while turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in other countries.

Article 143 of the OAS Charter states that any member state can choose to leave the group by means of a written communication to the secretary-general and after two years from the date on which the general secretary receives the notification, the state shall be removed from the organization.

Venezuela's decision comes after the OAS's Permanent Council agreed Wednesday to convene a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss Venezuela, with 19 votes in favor, 10 against, one abstention and one absence.

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, known by its Spanish acronym CELAC, will meet May 2 at Caracas' request to address "threats against the constitutional order in Venezuela, as well as the interventionist actions undermining its independence, sovereignty and its right to self-determination," said Rodriguez.

Source, links, videos:

Trump's tax plan is a sweet deal for the 1%

U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his tax platform on Wednesday, and one thing is clear: the rich will get richer.

In a White House briefing, National Economic Director Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Trump's plan, which will drastically cut the U.S. corporate tax rate to one of the lowest among the world's developed economies from 35 percent to 15 percent.

"Welcome to Goldman Sachs populism!" said Public Citizen president Robert Weissman. "The Goldman Sachs tax plan will slash taxes on giant corporations and the corporate elite. With the elimination of the alternative minimum and estate taxes, it not so incidentally appears to confer huge benefits on President Trump himself — though of course, we can’t know for sure so as long as Trump’s tax returns remain secret."

The proposal aims to reduce the individual income rates and reduce brackets from seven to three, pegged at 10, 25 and 35 percent. The so-called “death tax” for inheritance will also be scrapped under the proposal.


Trump authorizes Pentagon to manage number of troops deployed to Iraq & Syria

US President Trump has given the Pentagon authority to independently set troop levels in Iraq and Syria, and to ensure commanders’ flexibility. Over 5,000 troops are deployed in Iraq, and 500 in Syria, where they operate without Damascus’ invitation.

The President has delegated the authority for Force Management Levels (FML) for Iraq and Syria to the [Defense] Secretary [James Mattis],” said Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, as cited by ABC.

He also said that no change has been made at this stage to the number of US troops in the Middle East, adding that the current military strategy involves rendering support to local militias fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

The move does not mean that the numbers of troops in Iraq and Syria will change “nor does it change the process by which we will manage those forces,” said Davis.


Venezuela’s revolutionary women take to the streets for Peace

Venezuelan women's movements are taking to the streets of Caracas on Thursday to show their support of peace and the country’s Bolivarian Revolution amid ongoing internal and outside imperialist threats against the socialist government.

As part of the “Great Mobilization for the Defense of the Motherland/Fatherland, Peace and Life,” a number of women's organizations marched from the Plaza Bolivar to Plaza Bicentenaria outside the presidential palace in the center of the capital.

The women's groups are particularly are concerned about the recent attacks and deaths as a result of ongoing opposition protests intent on removing President Nicolas Maduro from power and plans by opposition politicians to overthrow the government.

The message that we send to all the people of Venezuela today is the call to peace, coexistence and unification of all the people and reject all those who want to harm our country,” said Ingrid Espinoza from the National Union of Women. Many women, old and young were seen dressed in red and holding banners of their social organizations.


Colombia: 2 FARC members murdered in 10 days despite new peace

As Colombia’s largest rebel army demobilizes, preparing to lay down its arms once and for all to transition to civilian life after more than half a century of civil war, two FARC members have been assassinated in less than 10 days as rebel leaders and social organizations continue to ring alarm over the ongoing crisis of paramilitary violence that threatens to undermine the historic peace process in the South American country.

FARC Commander Jose Huber Yatacue was shot dead Tuesday outside a hospital in Toribio, a town in the southwestern department of Cauca, one of the regions hardest hit by the decades-long internal armed conflict and ongoing paramilitary violence.

Just over a week earlier, FARC member Alvaro Ortiz Cabezas was murdered on April 16 in a bar in a rural area of the port city of Tumaco, located in the northwestern coastal department of Nariño, bordering Ecuador.

Both Yatacue and Ortiz had benefited from the amnesty law, passed as part of the historic peace deal signed last year by the FARC and the Colombian government, that pardons rebels for political crimes committed in the context of the armed conflict. Both were reportedly more involved in the FARC’s urban activities than rural operations and both were killed in areas outside the designated transition zones where the rebel army has gathered to demobilize.


Big money and lemons cement friendship between Macri and Trump

Argentine President Mauricio Macri met with U.S. President Donal Trump at the White House Thursday to discuss business ties, after decades of knowing each other through business deals as real estate moguls in their respective countries.

Thursday's talks marked the first meeting between the two presidents and the second time a Latin American head of state met Trump, after Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski did so two months ago.

"My good friend, for many, many years," said Trump of Macri. "Long time, 25 years." Macri jumped in and corrected Trump: "More, unfortunately, more, I was only 24," said the Argentine president, who is now 58 years old.

When asked by a reporter of the recent export restriction from the U.S. to lemons from Argentina, Trump said, "I know about all the lemons. And believe it or not, the lemon business is a big, big business."

"But we are going to give that very serious consideration," the U.S. president continued. "One of the reasons he’s here is about lemons — and I’ll tell him about North Korea, and he’ll tell me about lemons. I think that we’re going to be very favorably disposed. We’re going to be talking."

Trump said he knew Macri from before both entered politics in their respective countries due to real estate deals and reiterated the many years of friendship with the Argentine president.


Chile charges 16 military officers who waged terror in Pincohet's 'Caravan of Death'

A Chilean court has found a retired army general and 15 other former military officials guilty of the murders of more than a dozen opponents the General Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in the 1970s, when they acted as operatives of the military regime's notorious death squad, the Caravan of Death.

The officers were charged with 15 murders in 1973 through the Caravan of Death — a covert military unit that waged terror in the country under the dictatorship, including torturing and killing civilians — reported human rights special prosecutor Mario Carroza.

The 15 victims, all political opponents of the Pinochet regime, were detained on Oct. 16, 1973 in the wake of the Sept. 11 military coup against socialist President Salvador Allende. They were later removed from their prison cells and executed by multiple shots inside the military detention center where they were being held. Their remains were buried in a mass graves and were not returned to their relatives until they were found in 1998.

Among the 16 former military officials charged is a former army commander-in-chief, retired General Juan Emilio Cheyre, who has long been considered "untouchable" after previously being sentenced but securing his release on bond.


Spain's Podemos prepares no confidence vote against PM Rajoy

A Spanish left-wing party on Thursday said it was preparing a no-confidence motion against the current prime minister and requested that the other opposition parties back the initiative.

Pablo Iglesias, the head of Podemos, said in a press conference that the ruling conservative Popular Party, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, was exhibiting "parasitic" behavior in public institutions and removing it from the government had become a civic and "ethical obligation."

"The corruption of the PP is not a storm (that will pass), it is a virus that infects the institutions of our country," Iglesias said. He added that the move responded to a growing demand in Spanish society and had to do with the "health of democracy" beyond party lines.

The move came after Rajoy was summoned by Spain’s national court last Tuesday to testify as a witness in a major corruption trial. It was the first time in Spain’s modern history that a sitting prime minister was asked to take to the stand in such a way.


27 April, 2017

Abby Martin on another US dirty intervention against Venezuela

For my entire life, I watched the corporate media sell us war after war, always telling us who our enemies are. Which countries need saving. And which governments should be overthrown.

And every single time it turns out they lied. All the interventions did was ruin entire nations along with millions of lives.

As I watched the mass media's coverage of Venezuela today, coupled with covert regime-change operations and overt threats of intervention from the Trump regime, I say in a clear voice that we don't believe you anymore.

And the only just stand the US government can take, is keeping their hands off of Venezuela.


Τι θα πει ο Μακρόν για την Ελλάδα

Μετά τα αποτελέσματα του πρώτου γύρου των Γαλλικών προεδρικών εκλογών, ο Έλληνας πρωθυπουργός ήταν ανάμεσα σε εκείνους που έσπευσαν να συγχαρούν τον Εμμανουέλ Μακρόν. Δεν θα σχολιάσουμε την ανόητη βιασύνη κάποιων να συγχαρούν τον οποιονδήποτε πριν ολοκληρωθεί μια εκλογική διαδικασία. Τι θα γίνει αν τελικά εκλεγεί η Λεπέν; Απλά θα την αγνοήσουν; Εν πάση περιπτώσει, δεν ξέρουμε αν ο Τσίπρας πιστεύει στ'αλήθεια ότι ο Μακρόν θα σταθεί στο πλευρό της Ελλάδας, εφόσον νικήσει στο δεύτερο γύρο.

Αν πράγματι το πιστεύει, αυτό σημαίνει ότι συνεχίζει να έχει αυταπάτες ότι κάτι μπορεί να αλλάξει προς όφελος της Ελλάδας. Πρέπει να υπενθυμίσουμε στον κύριο Τσίπρα, ότι ο τραπεζίτης των Ρόθτσαϊλντ είχε τοποθετηθεί σε καίρια θέση στην κυβέρνηση Ολάντ.

Άρα, θα πρέπει να υπενθυμίσουμε στον κύριο Τσίπρα τι έκανε ο Φρανσουά Ολάντ προκειμένου να βοηθήσει την Ελλάδα να ξεφύγει από το μονοπάτι της νεοφιλελεύθερης καταστροφής στο οποίο την οδήγησε η Τρόικα των δανειστών: απολύτως τίποτα. Το μόνο που έκανε, ήταν να σέρνεται πίσω από τις αποφάσεις του άξονα Βρυξελλών-Βερολίνου και της μαφίας του ΔΝΤ. Δεν θα έπρεπε να περιμένουμε τίποτα διαφορετικό από τον "Σοσιαλιστή" Ολάντ με ανθρώπους σαν τον Μακρόν στην κυβέρνησή του.

Ο Μακρόν είναι αναμφίβολα το αγαπημένο παιδί του αδίστακτου νεοφιλελεύθερου κατεστημένου. Με τον τραπεζίτη στο τιμόνι της χώρας τα επόμενα χρόνια, ακόμα πιο μαύρες μέρες προμηνύονται για την Ελλάδα, καθώς βρίσκεται σε πλήρη σύμπλευση με Βρυξέλλες και Βερολίνο. Δεν είναι τυχαία άλλωστε τα πανηγύρια της φράξιας Σόιμπλε στο άκουσμα των αποτελεσμάτων. Έτσι, η Ευρωπαϊκή Χρηματοπιστωτική Δικτατορία θα έχει όλο το χρόνο να ολοκληρώσει το βάρβαρο πείραμα στην Ελλάδα.

Έτσι, παρά τα πανηγύρια της κυβέρνησης Τσίπρα για το ματωμένο πλεόνασμα του 4.19% (8 φορές πάνω από το 0.5% που είχε προβλέψει το ΔΝΤ), η νεοφιλελεύθερη δικτατορία θα συνεχίσει το καταστροφικό της έργο μέχρι να μετατρέψει την Ελλάδα στη Σομαλία της Ευρώπης. Ο Τσίπρας ελπίζει ότι θα πάρει κάτι για το χρέος, αλλά δεν είναι εκεί το ζήτημα. Εφόσον οι νεοφιλελεύθεροι σαδιστές βλέπουν ότι μπορεί να επιτύχει τέτοια πλεονάσματα, θα συνεχίσουν το βάρβαρο πείραμα προκειμένου να το μεταφέρουν παντού στην Ευρώπη.

Έτσι, δεν χρειάζεται να είναι κανείς προφήτης για να προβλέψει τι θα πει η νεοφιλελεύθερη μαριονέτα, Εμμανουέλ Μακρόν, για την Ελλάδα. Θα επαναλαμβάνει το γνωστό τροπάρι του τύπου 'η Ελλάδα έχει κάνει πρόοδο στις μεταρρυθμίσεις αλλά χρειάζεται ακόμη δουλειά', όπως επαναλαμβάνουν μόνιμα τα γνωστά 'ρομποτάκια' του νεοφιλελεύθερου ιερατείου για την Ελλάδα κατά τη διάρκεια όλων αυτών των επτά ετών αδιάκοπης καταστροφής.

Δεν γνωρίζουμε τι θα πει η Μαρίν Λεπέν για την Ελλάδα στην περίπτωση που εκλεγεί, αλλά ειλικρινά δεν περιμένουμε κάτι το συνταρακτικά διαφορετικό, καθώς δεν είναι τίποτα περισσότερο από μια εφεδρεία του κατεστημένου.

Διαβάστε επίσης:

Μια ισορροπημένη ανάλυση για την κατάσταση στη Βενεζουέλα, σε αντίθεση με την προπαγάνδα των Δυτικών ΜΜΕ

Τι συμβαίνει πίσω από από την κρίση που οδηγεί σε αποσταθεροποίηση την μεγαλύτερη πετρελαιοπαραγωγό χώρα της Λ. Αμερικής

Όλοι το έχετε ακούσει κάπως σε αυτή τη χώρα: Στο κάτω κάτω ο ΣΥΡΙΖΑ πριν και αφού γίνει κυβέρνηση είχε μιλήσει για το παράδειγμα της Βενεζουέλας, τις καλές σχέσεις με τον τότε πρόεδρο Ούγκο Τσάβες κλπ. Ταυτόχρονα, όλοι του οι πολιτικοί αντίπαλοι έχουν καταγγείλει σε όλους τους τόνους πως η νυν μνημονιακή κυβέρνηση του Αλέξη θέλει “να μας κάνει Βενεζουέλα” παρότι οι ομοιότητες τους σαν κυβερνήσεις δεν είναι πολύ περισσότερες από το ότι ανήκουν στο ίδιο ημισφαίριο.

Σε κάθε περίπτωση, όπως σε όλα σχεδόν τα διεθνή ζητήματα η κατάσταση είναι πιο σύνθετη από ένα μοτίβο “κακή κυβέρνηση – καλοί διαδηλωτές” (ή το αντίθετο) οπότε καθώς η Βενεζουέλα συγκλονίζεται από μαζικές διαδηλώσεις τόσο κατά όσο και υπέρ της κυβέρνησης Μαδούρο, αξίζει να δούμε πως προέκυψε όλη αυτή η κατάσταση. Γιατί φυσικά είναι μια κατάσταση που δεν περιγράφεται με 50 λέξεις, δεν ξεκίνησε χτες και δεν έχει απλή επίλυση. Δεν είναι τυχαίο ότι οι δύο τελευταίοι νεκροί (οι οποίοι έφτασαν τους 26 τις τελευταίες εβδομάδες), σκοτώθηκαν ο ένας σε μία φιλοκυβερνητική και ο άλλος σε μια αντικυβερνητική διαδήλωση.

Πως έγιναν όλα αυτά;

Η τελευταία αναζωπύρωση ξεκίνησε στις 29 Μαρτίου, όταν το Ανώτατο Δικαστήριο της χώρας ανακοίνωσε πως θα αναλάβει τις νομοθετικές εξουσίες της ελεγχόμενης από την αντιπολίτευση Εθνοσυνέλευσης. Στις κατηγορίες της αντιπολίτευσης πως καταργείται ο διαχωρισμός των εξουσιών, το Ανώτατο Δικαστήριο δήλωσε πως η Εθνοσυνέλευση αγνοεί τις αποφάσεις του.

Παρότι η απόφαση αποσύρθηκε τρεις μέρες μετά, η αντιπολίτευση πήρε τους δρόμους. Λίγες μέρες μετά, με τις αντικυβερνητικές διαδηλώσεις να φουντώνουν, απαγορεύτηκε στον ηγέτη της αντιπολίτευσης Ενρίκε Καπρίλες να συμμετέχει σε εκλογές για 15 χρόνια, κάτι το οποίο δε βοήθησε την κατάσταση.

H απαγόρευση έγινε επειδή ο Καπρίλες κατηγορείται για κλοπή δημόσιου χρήματος στο κρατίδιο Μιράντα όπου είναι κυβερνήτης. Ο Καπρίλες, ο οποίος έχασε δύο χρόνια συνεχόμενα τις εκλογές απέναντι στον τωρινό πρόεδρο Νικολάς Μαδούρο και τον προκάτοχό του Ούγκο Τσάβες ο 2013 και το 2012 αντίστοιχα, αρνείται τις κατηγορίες και ο σκοπός του είναι να συμμετάσχει στις προεδρικές εκλογές του 2018.

Πλούσιοι και φτωχοί: Η Βενεζουέλα χωρισμένη σε δύο στρατόπεδα

Yπάρχει λόγος όμως που η κοινωνία της Βενεζουέλας είναι τόσο διχασμένη. Η εθνικοποίηση από τον Ούγκο Τσάβες της βιομηχανίας πετρελαίου της Βενεζουέλας και η νομοθέτηση της κυβερνητικής ταρίφας από κάθε κέρδος που προκύπτει από το πετρέλαιο (η Βενεζουέλα είναι ο 5ος μεγαλύτερος εξαγωγέας ενώ έχει και τα μεγαλύτερα αποθέματα στον κόσμο) ήταν μιας καθοριστικής σημασίας εξέλιξη σε μια χώρα που οι φτωχοί είχαν ήδη εξεγερθεί μια φορά μετά τα κοινωνικά πειράματα που είχαν γίνει με τη συμβουλή του ΔΝΤ από την κυβέρνηση Πέρεζ το 1988-1989.

Με τα κέρδη από το πετρέλαιο, καθώς ήταν η περίοδος που οι τιμές του πετρελαίου αυξάνονταν, η κυβέρνηση της Βενεζουέλας υπό τους Τσάβες – Μαδούρο κατάφερε να χρηματοδοτήσει προγράμματα υποστήριξης των οικονομικά αδύναμων που σαν κι αυτά λίγα υπήρχαν στη ευρύτερη περιοχή. Η κυβέρνηση της Βενεζουέλας από το 1999 και έπειτα πήρε σοβαρά μέτρα υπέρ των φτωχών: προγράμματα για φτηνή ή δωρεάν κατοικία, δωρεάν ιατροφαρμακευτική περίθαλψη, τρόφιμα στους άπορους.

Όλα αυτά συνέβαλαν στην εντυπωσιακή μείωση της φτώχειας (Από 70.8% το 1996 σε 21% το 2010 ενώ η ακραία φτώχεια από 40% το 1996 στο 7.3% το 2010), της παιδικής θνησιμότητας και άλλων στατιστικών πολύ υψηλών συνήθως στην περιοχή. Ταυτόχρονα, όπως ομολογούν το ινστιτούτο Wilson, κατάφερε να εμπλέξει μάζες φτωχών ανθρώπων στην πολιτική με τοπικά συμβούλια και λαϊκές επιτροπές με τρόπο επίσης σπάνιο στη Λατινική Αμερική όπου ο αυταρχισμός ακμάζει.

Όλα αυτά είναι εξαιρετικά αξιοσημείωτα και πέραν του τι συνέβη στο παρελθόν (οι μεταρρυθμίσεις αυτές έστειλαν το Τσάβες να κερδίσει τις προεδρικές εκλογές του 2006 με 26 μονάδες διαφορά), βοηθούν να γίνει κατανοητός ο βαθμός του διχασμού στην κοινωνία της Βενεζουέλας. Παρότι η επιρροή της κυβέρνησης έχει συρρικνωθεί από τότε, ένα κομμάτι της κοινωνίας την έχει συνδέσει με την ανύψωση του από τη φτώχεια και θα φτάσει μακριά για να τα υπερασπιστεί. Ταυτόχρονα, οι σχέσεις της αντιπολίτευσης με την προ Τσάβες ελίτ (ηγέτες κομμάτων όπως ο Καπρίλες, ο Λεοπόλντο Λόπεζ και η Μαρία Ματσάδο πχ είναι από πλούσιες οικογένειες) τείνουν να ενισχύουν αυτή τη συσχέτιση.

Ακολουθώντας την τιμή του πετρελαίου στο κενό

Παρόλαυτα, η οικονομική στρατηγική της Βενεζουέλας προσέκρουσε πάνω στο παράγοντα που της έδωσε δυναμική: Την πτώση των τιμών του πετρελαίου, οι οποίες γκρεμίστηκαν στο μισό από το 2014. Η μείωση των τιμών του πολύτιμου καυσίμου από το οποίο προκύπτει το 95% των εσόδων της κυβέρνησης της προκάλεσε μεγάλη αδυναμία στο να χρηματοδοτήσει τα προγράμματα της.

Ταυτόχρονα, το εδώ και μια τριετία πολύ έντονο ταμειακό πρόβλημα της Βενεζουέλας έχει δημιουργήσει ένα ντόμινο. Ο πληθωρισμός έχει εκτιναχτεί στα ύψη (679.73 για το 2017 σύμφωνα με επιτροπή της ελεγχόμενης από την αντιπολίτευση Εθνοσυνέλευσης) με τις υψηλές τιμές των φαρμάκων και των φαρμακευτικών υπηρεσιών να δημιουργούν επικίνδυνες ελλείψεις. Τα προϋπάρχοντα προβλήματα της γεωργίας φαίνονται ακόμη πιο έντονα τώρα, με την κυβέρνηση να αναγκάζεται να εισάγει και τρόφιμα που είναι κυριολεκτικά ζωτικής σημασίας αγαθά.

Οι δρόμοι της Βενεζουέλας εδώ και καιρό δεν ήταν ασφαλείς

H οποία εγκληματικότητα, παρότι ήταν ζήτημα στη Βενεζουέλα από παλαιότερα, είναι πλέον ένα φοβερά ακανθώδες ζήτημα. Ένοπλες συμμορίες κυκλοφορούν ανενόχλητες σε πολλές περιοχές σκοτώνοντας ανθρώπους για να τους ληστέψουν, με τους πολίτες να κλείνονται στα σπίτια τους βράδια. Την ίδια στιγμή οι δυνάμεις ασφαλείας θρηνούν και οι ίδιες δεκάδες θύματα το χρόνο, στοιχεία δείχνουν πως η διαφθορά στην Αστυνομία, ακόμη πιο έντονη λόγω της οικονομίας, ενδέχεται να ευθύνεται τόσο για την αδυναμία αντιμετώπισης της κατάστασης, όσο και για την ισχυροποίηση των συμμοριών.

Δεν είναι τυχαίο πως η κυβέρνηση Μαδούρο έχει προσφύγει στο θεσμό που εμπιστεύεται περισσότερο για να τηρήσει την τάξη: το στρατό. Ο στρατός όλα αυτά τα χρόνια έχει στηρίξει με ελάχιστες ταλαντεύσεις την κυβέρνηση της Μπολιβαριανής Επανάστασης, όπως ονομάστηκε το κίνημα του Τσάβες, ο οποίος ήταν ο ίδιος αξιωματικός των αλεξιπτωτιστών. Οι ένοπλες δυνάμεις της χώρας ήταν που ακύρωσαν και το πραξικόπημα που έγινε το 2002 κατά του Τσάβες.

Η κλιμάκωση της βίας φαίνεται αναπόφευκτη σε ένα θολό τοπίο αλληλοκατηγοριών

Δεν είναι σίγουρο όμως αν ο στρατός θα καταφέρει να αντιμετωπίσει την κλιμακούμενη βία. Η εικόνα των μαζικών ειρηνικών διαδηλώσεων που η κυβέρνηση πνίγει στο αίμα είναι ανεπαρκής: Υπάρχουν όπως γράφτηκε και παραπάνω μεγάλες συγκεντρώσεις υπέρ ΚΑΙ κατά της κυβέρνησης, νεκροί διαδηλωτές από πυρά στρατιωτών, νεκροί στρατιώτες από πυρά οπλισμένων διαδηλωτών ενώ γίνονται και δολοφονικές επιθέσεις προς τρίτους, όπως δολοφονίες μελών του κυβερνώντος κόμματος και φιλοκυβερνητικών συνδικαλιστών.

Σε μια ιστορία έντονα παραστατική για το δράμα της χώρας, ένα μαιευτήριο με 54 παιδιά σε μια φτωχή γειτονιά της πρωτεύουσας αναγκάστηκε να εκκενωθεί λόγω των βίαιων συγκρούσεων που εκτυλίσσονταν απέξω. Μετά από μία νύχτα μάχες στα οδοφράγματα μεταξύ διαδηλωτών και αστυνομίας, το νοσοκομείο παραλίγο να πάρει φωτιά και οι καπνοί που έμπαιναν μέσα απειλούσαν την υγεία των παιδιών. Οι διαδηλωτές κατηγόρησαν τα δακρυγόνα της κυβέρνησης για την πυρκαγιά, η διευθύντρια του νοσοκομείου όμως έριξε την ευθύνη στους αντικυβερνητικούς, τους οποίους κατηγόρησε πως έκαιγαν λάστιχα μπροστά στο μαιευτήριο και πως προσπάθησαν να εισβάλλουν και στο χώρο του νοσοκομείου.

Καθώς μέσα στις αλληλοκατηγορίες κυβέρνησης και αντιπολίτευσης, όπου η αντιπολίτευση μιλά για φασισμό και δικτατορία και η κυβέρνηση για απόπειρα πραξικοπήματος, τρομοκρατικές ενέργειες και ξένη επέμβαση (με την κυβέρνηση να είναι δικαιολογημένα καχύποπτη για το ρόλο των ΗΠΑ) είναι πολύ δύσκολο να προκύψει μέσο έδαφος, η κλιμάκωση της βίας φαίνεται αρκετά βέβαιη.

Πηγή και σύνδεσμοι:

US nuke-powered submarine arrives in South Korea

A U.S. nuclear-powered submarine on Tuesday arrived at the southern port of Busan, South Korea, amid tensions on the Korean Peninsula, YTN television reported.

The USS Michigan guided-missile submarine has already arrived at Busan, the South Korean military was quoted as saying. The broadcaster did not elaborate on the exact time of its arrival.

Although the nuclear submarine is not supposed to participate in any drills or military operations, its call would send a meaningful message to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), said the YTN.

At a national meeting held Monday, the DPRK again warned the United States that it would stage preemptive nuclear strikes against American forces.

The USS Michigan is one of four Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines loaded with nuclear missiles. The 170-meter-long, 18,000-ton submarine can carry as many as 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range of some 1,600 km.

The Michigan's call on South Korea came amid mounting tensions on the peninsula. The USS Carl Vinson nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is sailing toward the peninsula.

The rare re-routing of the super-carrier to the peninsula had raised concerns about possible airstrikes on the DPRK's nuclear facilities.

Meanwhile, the DPRK Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that the Korean Peninsula is on the verge of war due to "reckless action" by the United States using both economic sanctions and increasing military threats.

According to South Korea's military, the DPRK conducted large-scale live-fire artillery exercises on Tuesday to mark its army anniversary.

The DPRK's artillery drills came amid ongoing joint military exercises of South Korea and the United States.

The U.S.-South Korea joint war games, which were denounced by the DPRK as a rehearsal for northward invasion, would last till the end of this month.


Part of THAAD elements deployed in South Korea

Part of the elements of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system has been deployed in southeastern South Korea, Seoul's defense ministry said Wednesday.

Without elaborating, the ministry said in a statement that part of the THAAD battery was installed in the site in a bid to secure an initial operational capability without any separate construction of facilities.

Seoul and Washington agreed in July last year to deploy one THAAD battery by the end of this year. The site was changed in September last year into a golf course, which Lotte Group had owned, at Soseong-ri village in Seongju county, South Gyeongsang province.

On March 6, two mobile launchers and part of the elements were delivered by a U.S. transport airplane to a U.S. military base in South Korea.

Since then, other THAAD elements had been secretly transported to the U.S. bases in South Korea's port city of Busan, Osan city near Seoul and Camp Carroll near Seongju, according to Newsis news agency.

A THAAD battery is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, an AN/TPY-2 radar and the fire & control unit.


Putin urges Russian navy to prioritize nuclear force buildup

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday demanded the Russian navy to prioritize the development of strategic nuclear forces and modernize its weaponry.

"As of the end of 2016, the share of modern weapons and equipment in the navy was about 47 percent ... The rate should be raised to 70 percent by 2020," Putin said at a meeting of the Military Industry Commission, according to a Kremlin statement.

According to him, the Russian navy should prioritize the development of strategic nuclear forces, modern weaponry and supporting infrastructure.

"Russia should ensure the presence of its naval forces in all strategically important areas of the world oceans," said Putin.


ISIS ‘apologized’ to Israel for November clash

In a shocking revelation, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), who served from 2013 until mid-2016, revealed that the November gunbattle between Israeli troops and ISIS forces along the Golan frontier, materially the only significant fight between the two sides, was followed up with an ISIS “apology.”

Being ISIS generally speaking means never having to say you’re sorry, and the group has no real allies so it generally doesn’t come up. That ISIS felt the need to apologize to Israel for the brief clash, which had no Israeli casualties, speaks volumes about the group’s position.

Ya’alon revealed this apology in the context of comments about Israel’s policy in Syria, and its repeated airstrikes against Syrian military targets whenever any cross-border fire is reported has led Syria to repeatedly complain that Israel is a de facto ally of the rebels.

It appears ISIS may see things this way too, at least for now. Despite ISIS making public statements playing up their animosity toward Israel, and their ideology clearly positioning them as an enemy, they likely see Israel as an ally of convenience.

Israeli officials have largely treated ISIS the same way, as while they sometimes express public concerns about the rise of ISIS, they have already repeatedly made clear that they prefer Syria to end up under the control of ISIS instead of being an ally to Iran.


EU on the verge of collapse

The recent triggering of Article 50 of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty by the United Kingdom has formally set into motion the process of Britain’s departure from the EU, an action that is in line with the result of last June’s referendum, where 52 percent of British voters chose to leave the union.

Europe is now faced with the prospect of a turbulent period ahead, with the upcoming French presidential elections and the possibility of a victory for populist candidate Marine Le Pen, as well as snap parliamentary elections declared in the UK, German elections in September, a rising tide of Euroscepticism across the continent and the process of Brexit now formally put into motion.

Economist Roger Bootle, chairman of Capital Economics in London and specialist adviser to the British House of Commons Treasury Committee, is the lead author of the report “Leaving the euro: a practical guide,” which was awarded the prestigious Wolfson Prize in Economics in 2012. The report presents a comprehensive proposal for how any eurozone member could depart the zone in an orderly fashion. Bootle discussed his findings extensively in a March 2015 interview with Dialogos Radio.

MintPress News recently had the opportunity to speak with Bootle, in an interview that also aired on Dialogos Radio, about the prospects of the British economy following Brexit and the future of the EU and eurozone following Britain’s upcoming departure.


26 April, 2017

What Macron will say about Greece

globinfo freexchange

After the results in the first round of the French presidential election, the Greek PM, Alexis Tsipras, was among those who rushed to congratulate Emmanuel Macron. We don't know if Tsipras truly believes that Macron will help Greece in case he wins the election in the final round against Marine Le Pen.

If he does, that means he still lives with the complete illusion that something could change in favor of Greece. We have to remind Mr. Tsipras that Macron, as member of the Socialist Party from 2006 to 2009, was appointed deputy secretary-general under François Hollande's first government in 2012, and Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs in 2014 under the Second Valls Government.

So, we have to remind Mr. Tsipras what François Hollande did to help Greece escape from the path of the neoliberal catastrophe imposed by the Troika (IMF, ECB, European Commission) creditors: absolutely nothing.

All he did was to run behind the decisions of the Brussels-Berlin axis and the IMF mafia. We shouldn't expect anything different from Hollande with people like Macron in his government.

Macron is certainly the 'darling' of the ruthless neoliberal establishment. With the banker in charge for the next years, the European Financial Dictatorship will have all the time to finish the brutal experiment in Greece. The Brussels bureaufascists and the Berlin sado-monetarists will be celebrating right now.

Indeed, as Theautomaticearth reports:

... it’s obvious the IMF are not done with Greece yet. And neither are the rest of the Troika. They are still demanding measures that are dead certain to plunge the Greeks much further into their abyss in the future. As my friend Steve Keen put it to me recently: “Dreadful. It will become Europe’s Somalia.”

An excellent example of this is the Greek primary budget surplus. The Troika has been demanding that it reach 3.5% of GDP for the next number of years (the number changes all the time, 3, 5, 10?). Which is the worst thing it could do, at least for the Greek people and the Greek economy. Not for those who seek to buy Greek assets on the cheap.

But sure enough, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) jubilantly announced on Friday that the 2016 primary surplus was 4.19% (8 times more than the 0.5% expected). This is bad news for Greeks, though they don’t know it. It is also a condition for receiving the next phase of the current bailout. Here’s what that comes down to: in order to save itself from default/bankruptcy, the country is required to destroy its economy.

And that’s not all: the surplus is a requirement to get a next bailout tranche, and debt relief, but as a reward for achieving that surplus, Greece can now expect to get less … debt relief. Because obviously they’re doing great, right?! They managed to squeeze another €7.3 billion out of their poor. So they should always be able to do that in every subsequent year.

The government in Athens sees the surplus as a ‘weapon’ that can be used in the never-ending bailout negotiations, but the Troika will simply move the goalposts again; that’s its MO.

So, we don't have to be prophets to guess what the neoliberal puppet, Emmanuel Macron, will say about Greece. He will say something like 'Greece has done much, but there is still much work to be done', as the whole neoliberal priesthood repeats for Greece during the last seven years of uninterrupted destruction.

We don't know what Marine Le Pen will say about Greece in case she gets elected, but we honestly don't expect to see much difference, as she is simply the reserve of the establishment.

Read also:

Make no mistake: there is a media blockade against Venezuela

The “truth has suddenly become useless” in Venezuela because it fails to support Western media narratives that smear the Maduro government.

by Rachael Boothroyd Rojas

Venezuela is in flames. Or at least parts of it is.

Since April 4, opposition militants have been carrying out targeted acts of violence, vandalism and arson, as well as deliberately clashing with security forces in an attempt to plunge the country into total chaos and forcefully remove the elected socialist government. It is the continuation of an 18 year effort to topple the Bolivarian revolution by any means necessary — although you may have seen it miraculously recast in the mainstream media as “promoting a return to democracy” in the country.

A catalogue of the violence over the last 18 days is shocking – schools have been ransacked, a Supreme Court building has been torched, an air force base attacked, while public transport, health and veterinary facilities have been destroyed. At least 23 people have been left dead, with many more injured. In one of the most shocking cases of right-wing violence, at around 10pm on April 20, women, children and over 50 newborn babies had to be evacuated by the government from a public maternity hospital which came under attack from opposition gangs.

Anywhere else in the western world, this would have given way to horrified international and national calls for an end to the violence, and for the swift prosecution of those responsible – making it all the more scandalous that these incidents have at best been ignored, and at worst totally misrepresented by the international press. Instead, those tasked with providing the public with unbiased reporting on international affairs have opted to uncritically parrot the Venezuelan opposition’s claims that the elected government is violently repressing peaceful protests, and holding it responsible for all deaths in connection with the demonstrations so far.

This narrative cannot be described as even a remotely accurate interpretation of the facts, and so it is important to set the record straight.

  • To date, three people (two protesters and one bystander) have been killed by state security personnel, who were promptly arrested and in two cases indicted.
  • A further five people have been directly killed by opposition protesters, while one person has died as an indirect result of the opposition roadblocks in Caracas (Ricarda Gonzalez, 89, who suffered from a CVA and was prevented from getting to a hospital).
  • Five people have been shot in separate incidents near protests but under unclear circumstances. One of these victims was shot by an alleged opposition supporter from a high rise building, although the perpetrator’s political affiliation is yet to be confirmed.
  • Nine protesters appear to have died as a result of their own actions (at least nine were electrocuted in the recent looting of a bakery).

A cursory look at the reality reveals that the government is clearly not responsible for the majority of these deaths. However, to paraphrase a remark recently made by Venezuelan author Jose Roberto Duque, the “truth has suddenly become useless.

The media has failed to go into too much detail surrounding the exact circumstances of these deaths; precisely because the truth presents a serious obstacle to their narrative that all these people were killed during pro-democracy peaceful protests at the repressive hands of the authoritarian regime. This narrative isn’t just overly simplistic; it distorts the reality on the ground and misinforms international audiences.

Take this deliberately misleading paragraph from an article written by Nicholas Casey, the New York Time’s latest propaganda writer for the opposition:

Protesters demanding elections and a return to democratic rule jammed the streets of Caracas and other Venezuelan cities on Wednesday. National Guard troops and government-aligned militias beat crowds back with tear gas, rubber bullets and other weapons, and at least three people were killed, according to human rights groups and news reports.

Casey opted to omit the fact that none of those three deaths has so far been attributed to security forces, and one of the victims was an army sergeant killed by protesters themselves. Moreover, those on the receiving end of the “tear gas and rubber bullets” are not quite the “peaceful protesters” he so disingenuously implies. Anyone in the east of the city on April 19, when both opposition and pro-government forces marched, could see how opposition supporters gathered in total freedom in Plaza Francia in Altamira, even buying anti-government t-shirts, caps, and purchasing ice-creams, and were able to march along the main highway linking the east of the city to the west.

Police “repression” has occurred in two specific scenarios. Firstly, when opposition gangs have set-up burning barricades and carried out violent acts of vandalism on the streets, including the targeting of public institutions – actions deliberately aimed at provoking photo-op worthy clashes with security forces. In the second instance, it has occurred when opposition marchers have attempted to cross a police line blocking them from getting to the working class municipality of El Libertador in the west of the city – where government support is traditionally concentrated. Again, this action is a deliberate attempt to provoke clashes with security forces and their supporters by the opposition, who are well aware that they have not been granted permission to march into El Libertador since a short-lived opposition-led coup in 2002, triggered by an anti-government march diverted towards Miraflores Presidential Palace in the west that left 19 dead by opposition sniper-fire.

It is hard to see how the police would not respond to these violent actions in a similar way, or even more violently, in the rest of the world. I can only imagine what would happen if armed and violent protesters consistently tried to march on the White House in Washington, or on No. 10 Downing Street in London. What if they assaulted police lines outside the White House, or attacked hospitals and looted businesses in London? Not only would they not be granted permission to continue, but protesters would most likely be shot, or end up in jail under anti-terrorism legislation for a very long time. But in Venezuela, the opposition can rely on its carte blanche from the mainstream press as its get out of jail card.

Needless to say, details of the undemocratic actions of opposition leaders and their supporters – ranging from these latest attacks to support for a violent coup in 2002 – are glaringly absent from virtually all news reports. This is despite the fact that the opposition’s current protest leaders – Julio Borges, Henrique Capriles Radonski, Henry Ramos Allup and Leopoldo Lopez – were active players in the 2002 coup.

The above article by Casey is a patent attempt to mislead the public over the dynamic on the ground in Venezuela. But unfortunately this is not just a case of one isolated news agency. The U.K.’s Guardian, for instance, provided its readers with an image gallery of the opposition’s April 19th march and “ensuing violence,” but failed to acknowledge that a pro-government march of similar size, if not greater, was also held the same day. They simply erased the actions of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. Whichever news agency you check, be it the BBC, the Washington Post, CNN, or any other corporate outlet, you will find the same, uniform consensus in their Venezuela coverage. There are no words to describe this state of affairs other than a total media blockade.

The last time the country witnessed unrest on this scale was in 2014, when opposition militants again unsuccessfully tried to force the “exit” of President Nicolas Maduro using similar tactics, leading to the deaths of 43 people. The majority of those victims were innocent passersby caught in the violence or state security personnel, who were given the somewhat impossible task (just like today) of somehow refraining from responding with violence to people who are deliberately trying to provoke, maim and kill them.

While protests in 2014 were a response to violent unrest headed by the country’s right-wing student movement, this year’s commenced at the beginning of April after the Supreme Court issued a ruling granting the court temporary powers to assume the legislative functions of the National Assembly. It came in response to the Venezuelan parliament having been declared “in contempt of court” for more than six months, after the opposition refused to remove three of its lawmakers under investigation for electoral fraud in violation of a Supreme Court order. This is much like the current legal case hanging over the thirty Conservative MPs in the U.K. The only difference in Venezuela is that the legislators were suspended from being sworn into parliament pending the results of the investigations. The opposition immediately hit out at the ruling, declaring it an attempted “coup” by the government that had come out of nowhere. The media swallowed this version of events hook, line and sinker. Although the ruling was overturned almost straightaway, the opposition took to the streets denouncing a “rupture of the constitutional order”.

This soon morphed into a hodgepodge of ultimatums which have dominated the opposition’s agenda since it won control of the country’s National Assembly (one of the five branches of the Venezuelan government) in December 2015, promising to have deposed the national government “within six months” – something beyond the power of Venezuela’s legislative branch. These demands include the release of what they call “political prisoners”, the opening-up of a “humanitarian channel” for receiving international aid and, most importantly, immediate regional and general elections. The street protests were an unmissable opportunity for the opposition, which was suffering from steadily decreasing popularity following an entire year of having squandered its legislative majority in parliament.

Evidently, long term strategy is not the opposition’s strong point. History testifies to the fact that they tend to go for maximum amount of damage in the minimum amount of time, no matter the cost. This brings us to why this kind of violence, which has been employed several times throughout the last 18 years by Venezuela’s well-seasoned opposition, is once again happening at this moment. If the government is so unpopular, as the opposition claims it is, why not just wait for the presidential elections in 2018 for their time to shine?

At this point it should be clear that the opposition’s only goal, far from promoting a “return” to democracy, is to step right over it. They want to remove the elected government more than a year ahead of scheduled elections. But they don’t want to stop there. As one opposition marcher told me on Wednesday: “Get your stuff together Maduro, because you’re going to jail.” The opposition’s goal is the total annihilation of Chavismo.

Whatever the government’s many errors and faults over the past four years under the leadership of Nicolas Maduro, progressives across the globe have an obligation to defend it against the opposition's onslaught and the international media's blockade. The alternative is the same savage neoliberalism - currently being mercilessly unleashed by Brazil’s unelected government - which previously squeezed blood from the entire continent throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

The slogan “No Volveran” (they shall not return) has never been more urgent.

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