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23 May, 2018

Analyzed: The Western media's fear and loathing of Venezuela

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." – Noam Chomsky

By Manmeet Sahni

Part 4 - Fractured Opposition

In December 2017, pro-opposition think tank Atlantic Council received US$1million from the U.S. State Department to work with Venezuela's "fractured opposition."

According to the Miami Herald, the funds will help finance a year-long project to "draw more international attention to the crisis, show the public what Venezuela could look like under new leadership, and provide the opposition and other stakeholders the tools needed to work more cohesively together."

Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, told the Miami Herald: "What we're trying to do is address the fractures within the opposition. That is then helpful for the opposition's overall stance because what the government wants is a divided opposition."

But according to Alternet journalist Max Blumenthal, the Atlantic Council is "a pro-regime-change think tank that is funded by Western governments and their allies." It's also financed in part by "Viktor Pinchuk, Ukrainian nationalist and longtime friend/donor of the Clintons."

According to, this same council has pushed for "arming Salafist militant groups against the Bashar Al-Assad regime in Syria and lobbied for more militaristic policies toward Russia. In Venezuela, the organization is intimately linked to the pro-United States opposition."

Western media often question the motives of non-traditional media trying to portray Venezuela without bias, but rarely do they question the motives of those opposing the Latin American nation.

For instance, in February this year, the Wall Street Journal published a story headlined 'Venezuela's Misery Fuels Migration on Epic Scale.' The story quotes Tomas Paez, described as an immigration expert at Venezuela's Central University, as saying: "Nearly 3 million Venezuelans – a tenth of the population – have left the oil-rich country over the past two decades of leftist rule. Almost half that number – some 1.2 million people – have gone in the past two years." notes that in 2002 Paez signed his name to a quarter-page ad in the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional, welcoming Pedro Carmona – then head of Venezuela's largest business federation – as the country's new president after a U.S.-backed military coup briefly ousted Chavez.


[1] [2] [3]

22 May, 2018

Ecuador and Julian Assange in great danger as traitor Moreno is about to throw them into the hands of the US empire

Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, shook up his cabinet and appointed six new ministers this week. The move appears to confirm what many of his critics on the Left have long suspected, which is that Moreno is moving the country increasingly towards the Right. That is, they say he is reversing the policies under the previous government, Rafael Correa, who pursued a fairly progressive agenda, particularly in foreign and economic affairs. For example, President Moreno’s new Minister of the Economy, Richard Martinez, comes directly from the country’s business class, where he worked as a consultant for the Chamber of Industry and Production, and he also was president of Ecuador’s Business Committee, which is the country’s main business association.

Greg Wilpert of the Real News spoke with Guillaume Long, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador under former President Rafael Correa, about the rapid turn of the new Ecuadorian administration towards neoliberal policies, under Lenín Moreno.

Long gave some impressive details about Moreno's actions so far, proving that he acted like a US agent. His mission is to destroy Correa's legacy and throw Ecuador into the hands of the US empire by implementing destructive neoliberalism. This is obviously part of an ongoing operation through which the US imperialist hawks seek to wipe out the last Leftist governments in Latin America. Moreno's behavior made Long finally resign from his position.

As Long said:

I felt Moreno was moving more and more towards the Right, sort of had a creeping conservative agenda that was becoming more and more difficult to reconcile with.

What I felt Moreno was doing, was kind of reintroducing the US in kind of security and geopolitics and moving away from what we had espoused during the Citizens’ Revolution, which was more kind of sovereign, non-aligned foreign policy based on Latin American integration and sort of an intelligence incursion in a multipolar world. And not just this kind of return within the US kind of imperial fold.

So, I felt that it wasn’t possible to be Moreno’s personal representative in the UN anymore. There were a number of issues that I disagreed with.

Moreno, also, by January, had made it pretty clear that he wanted to obliterate the legacy of his predecessor, Rafael Correa. I think Moreno was elected in 2017 basically on a platform promising the continuation of the Citizens’ Revolution, of Rafael Correa’s political process. And so, I felt that there was a betrayal there. He was obliterating it rhetorically. He was blaming everything on his predecessor. But he was also organizing a referendum, which actually occurred in February, attempting to bury the legacy of Correa and to prevent Rafael Correa from ever coming back in Ecuador in politics. One of the questions of the referendum was aimed at barring any type of reelection.

The situation has got significantly worse. There’s an even greater departure from the legacy ten years of the Citizens’ Revolution of Rafael Correa’s government. We’ve really gone Right-wing now.

The new Minister of Economy and Finance, was actively involved in the campaign of Moreno’s rival in the 2017 elections that Moreno won. Moreno was elected against Guillermo Lasso - very, very neoliberal. So, Moreno wasn’t the perfect candidate, but facing the threat of a Lasso government we were all very anxious for his victory.

What Moreno did over the next few months is, little by little, have people from the Lasso camp coming to his government. He said this was all about ‘dialogue’ and ‘being very inclusive.’ Being inclusive and dialogue is a good thing, but he actually said at one point, in a conversation with bankers, that he was very grateful for them. Those are the words he employed. He was very grateful for them not having voted for him and that he was very angry. He had actually used the word hatred, ‘I have a lot of hatred for the people who voted for me.’

It’s taken him a year to get where he wanted to get to, which is to bring the neoliberals on board to run the country. And this new Minister of Economy and Finance, is a complete neoliberal, he is not a moderate neoliberal. He’s a very radical neoliberal who believes in the whole neoliberal recipe, which is the direct opposite of what we did for ten years when we had a much more heterodox, a much more sort of anti-austerity program, which allowed for growth, redistribution, for the reduction of poverty, of inequality, and was very successful. I think Ecuador was one of the most successful economic models in the “pink tide” for Latin America for a long time.

Moreno’s actions also explain why Ecuador actually starts to turn against Julian Assange. From the impressive details given, it is obvious that Moreno acts like a puppet of Washington who was seeking to sabotage Ecuador's course towards Left under Rafael Correa. The whole story and recent developments show that the ringer tightens around Julian Assange and that under the traitor Moreno, Ecuador methodically pushes him too into the hands of the US empire.

Recall that recently, Rafael Correa, in an exclusive interview with the Intercept, denounced his country’s current government’s decision for blocking Julian Assange from receiving visitors in its Embassy in London as a form of “torture” and a violation of Ecuador’s duties to protect Assange’s safety and well-being. Correa said this took place in the context of Ecuador no longer maintaining “normal sovereign relations with the American government — just submission.

Also, Correa recently told journalists in Madrid that Assange’s “days were numbered” because Moreno, his former protégé, would “throw him out of the embassy at the first pressure from the United States.

Κυβέρνηση κατά της ΕΕ και της λιτότητας στην Ιταλία

του Λεωνίδα Βατικιώτη

Αντιμέτωπες με μια ασύμμετρη απειλή βρίσκονται Βρυξέλλες και Βερολίνο όσο αποκαλύπτονται πλευρές του κυβερνητικού προγράμματος της υπό σχηματισμό κυβέρνησης στην Ιταλία που προέκυψε από τις εκλογές της 4ης Μαρτίου. Το έγγραφο 39 σελίδων που έδωσε στη δημοσιότητα τη Δευτέρα 14 Μαΐου η ιταλική έκδοση της ιστοσελίδας Huffington Post προκάλεσε σοκ, όσο κι αν τόσο το Κίνημα των Πέντε Αστέρων και η Λίγκα του Βορρά δήλωσαν ότι έχουν μετακινηθεί έκτοτε από αυτές τις θέσεις, στο πλαίσιο επικαιροποιήσεων, χωρίς ωστόσο να το αποποιούνται!

Τα θέματα που κυρίως έθιγε το επίμαχο έγγραφο σκορπώντας αναταράξεις στην πολιτική και οικονομική ελίτ της Ευρώπης ήταν δύο και σχετίζονταν αρχικά, με τον θεσμικό «ζουρλομανδύα της λιτότητας» όπως πρώτος ο Ρομάνο Πρόντι, από τη θέση του προέδρου της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής, είχε χαρακτηρίσει το δημοσιονομικό πλαίσιο της ΕΕ. Επιπλέον, με το δημόσιο χρέος της Ιταλίας. Συγκεκριμένα, αυτό που εξέτασαν οι επικεφαλής των δύο ιταλικών πολιτικών κομμάτων που κέρδισαν από κοινού το 49% των ψήφων (32% το Κίνημα των Πέντε Αστέρων και 17% η ξενοφοβική Λίγκα του Βορρά) ήταν την καθιέρωση μέτρων που θα επιτρέψουν στην οικονομική πολιτική κάθε κράτους μέλους να γυρίσει στην προ-Μάαστριχτ περίοδο. Στην πράξη αυτό που ζήτησαν ήταν την ακύρωση των σφιχτών δημοσιονομικών κανόνων που απαγορεύουν ελλείμματα στον κρατικό προϋπολογισμό άνω του 3% του ΑΕΠ επί ποινή κυρώσεων που φθάνουν ακόμη και στην περικοπή κονδυλίων.

Επιπλέον Λίγκα και Πέντε Αστέρες, όπως έγραψαν, είναι διατεθειμένοι να ζητήσουν από την Ευρωπαϊκή Κεντρική Τράπεζα να παγώσει ή να ακυρώσει ομόλογα ύψους 250 δισ. ευρώ μετά το επικείμενο τέλος του προγράμματος Ποσοτικής Χαλάρωσης. Πρόκειται για πρόταση που φέρνει στην επιφάνεια τις ανησυχίες που ήδη υπάρχουν στη Ρώμη εν όψει του σφιξίματος της νομισματικής πολιτικής από το φθινόπωρο, η οποία θα δυσκολέψει αφάνταστα τη διαχείριση του ιλιγγιώδους δημόσιου χρέους που φθάνει τα 2,35 τρις. ευρώ κι ως ποσοστό (132% ΑΕΠ) υπολείπεται μόνο των (άνευ ανταγωνισμού ελέω τρόικας) ελληνικών επιδόσεων.

Οι επικεφαλής των δύο κομμάτων έθεσαν επί τάπητος την αλλαγή των δημοσιονομικών συνθηκών της ΕΕ, προκειμένου να υλοποιήσουν το πρόγραμμα που ενέκριναν οι ψηφοφόροι τους και το οποίο θα σημάνει την άνοδο του ελλείμματος το 2019 στο 5,5% (δε χάλασε κι ο …κόσμος με άλλα λόγια) από 1,3% φέτος. Σαλβίνι και ντι Μάγιο έχουν εξαγγείλει ακύρωση της πρόσφατης συνταξιοδοτικής αντιμεταρρύθμισης ώστε τα όρια ηλικίας συνταξιοδότησης να επιστρέψουν σε χαμηλότερα επίπεδα, μείωση φόρου μέσω της καθιέρωσης ενός ενιαίου φορολογικού συντελεστή της τάξης του 15% και για όσους έχουν οικογενειακό εισόδημα άνω των 80.000 ευρώ, στο 20% (από αλλεπάλληλα κλιμάκια που ξεκινούν από 23% και φτάνουν στο 43% τα οποία ισχύουν σήμερα) και ελάχιστο εγγυημένο εισόδημα για όλους τους πολίτες.

Επίσης, η νέα κυβέρνηση έχει υποσχεθεί να ακυρώσει μια ψηφισθείσα αύξηση του ΦΠΑ που θα ξεκίναγε να εφαρμόζεται το 2019. Όπως συμβαίνει πάντα σε αυτές τις περιπτώσεις, τα ευχάριστα αυτά μέτρα επισκιάσθηκαν από τη συζήτηση για το οικονομικό κόστος που επισείει η υλοποίησή τους, χωρίς ωστόσο να εξετασθούν οι ευεργετικές επιδράσεις στην οικονομία της Ιταλίας από την άρση των κυρώσεων κατά της Ρωσίας, όπως έχουν εξαγγείλει να πράξουν Λίγκα και Πέντε Αστέρες ή από την αύξηση του λαϊκού εισοδήματος. Μένοντας λοιπόν μόνο στα αρνητικά, η Corriere della Sera εκτίμησε το κόστος των μέτρων από 65 ως 100 δισ. ευρώ, ενώ υπολόγισε πώς μόνο το καθολικό εισόδημα θα στοιχίσει 17 δισ. ευρώ ανά έτος.

Οι αμφισβητήσεις για το κυβερνητικό πρόγραμμα ξεκίνησαν από τον 76χρονο πρόεδρο Σέρτζιο Ματαρέλα, ο οποίος επικαλούμενος τις προκλητικές υπερεξουσίες που διαθέτει (σε βαθμό να μπορεί να απορρίπτει νόμους με τους οποίους διαφωνεί, υπουργούς και τον ίδιο τον πρωθυπουργό), και ακυρώνουν στην πράξη τη λαϊκή ετυμηγορία, έφθασε να απειλήσει ακόμη και με νέες εκλογές σε περίπτωση που η σύνθεση της κυβέρνησης δεν είναι της αρεσκείας του. Δήλωσε επίσης ότι θα μπλοκάρει κρατικές δαπάνες που αυξάνουν το δημοσιονομικό έλλειμμα, γράφοντας στο παλαιότερα των υποδημάτων του προφανώς ότι πρόκειται για ένα πρόγραμμα που όχι μόνο βελτιώνει την ζωή των πολιτών ισοδυναμεί δηλαδή με κοινωνική πρόοδο, αλλά κι ό,τι σε τελική ανάλυση, αυτή είναι η βούληση του εκλογικού σώματος.

Κανένα σχόλιο φυσικά δεν έκανε ο ιταλός πρόεδρος για τα νέα αυστηρότατα μέτρα που θα λάβει η κυβέρνηση συνεργασίας ενάντια στους μετανάστες και αποτελούν αιτία διαφωνίας με τους Πέντε Αστέρες. Η Λίγκα του Βορρά εξελέγη υποσχόμενη να απελάσει με διαδικασίες εξπρές τουλάχιστον 600.000 μετανάστες, που βρίσκονται στη γειτονική χώρα χωρίς τα νόμιμα χαρτιά. Η επίδειξη πυγμής της ξενοφοβικής Λίγκας του Βορρά γίνεται μάλιστα σε μια περίοδο που σε δικαστήριο της Ρώμης γίνονται συγκλονιστικές αποκαλύψεις από νιγηριανούς επιζώντες οι οποίοι έχουν στραφεί εναντίον της ιταλικής κυβέρνησης εξ αιτίας της χρηματοδότησης που προσφέρει στην ακτοφυλακή της Λιβύης προκειμένου να παρεμποδίζει, με κάθε …τρόπο, αφρικανούς μετανάστες να φτάσουν στις ιταλικές ακτές.

Η ευθεία σύγκρουση της Ρώμης με τις πολιτικές λιτότητας των Βρυξελλών θα οδηγήσει στα ύψη την αποστροφή των Ιταλών απέναντι στην ΕΕ, δεδομένου ότι ήδη στη γειτονική χώρα υπάρχει το πιο ισχυρό κλίμα εναντίον της ΕΕ σε σύγκριση με κάθε άλλη χώρα της Ένωσης, όπως έδειξαν οι Financial Times την Τρίτη 15 Μαΐου. Με βάση στοιχεία του Ευρωβαρόμετρου που συγκεντρώθηκαν το φθινόπωρο του 2017, η Ιταλία είναι η χώρα με το μικρότερο ποσοστό αποδοχής της ΕΕ και το υψηλότερο ποσοστό εναντίωσης στην ΕΕ. Κατά συνέπεια, η ρήξη που επιλέγουν με την ΕΕ οι Πέντε Αστέρες και η Λίγκα συναντά ευρεία αποδοχή…


Analyzed: The Western media's fear and loathing of Venezuela

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." – Noam Chomsky

By Manmeet Sahni

Part 3 - Constructed Reality

The most recent protests in Venezuela started in 2016, when the opposition-led National Assembly attempted to impeach Maduro before calling for a referendum.

Maduro's government has made frequent calls for dialogue with the opposition, which the opposition has repeatedly turned down. In 2016, the opposition-led National Assembly tried to impeach Maduro illegally – they had zero support from legislative bodies.

Then, in October of 2016, the opposition called for a coup against Maduro when the Supreme Court ruled to suspend the presidential recall referendum due to suspected electoral fraud in the first phase of the process. The opposition then launched a series of anti-government protests, further exacerbating the crisis.

Mike Prysner, a documentary filmmaker with teleSUR who reports from the ground in Caracas, told Renegade Inc about the protests: "What happens is that the 'guarimbas' (armed opposition groups) follow the peaceful protests and when they come near police, they insert themselves in between the two.

"They then push and push and push until there's a reaction – and they have cameras and journalists on hand to record the reaction, so it looks like the police are being aggressive.

"We were once filming a protest and a group of guarimbas challenged us. If we'd said we were with teleSUR, at the very least they would have beaten us and taken our equipment, but we told them we were American freelance journalists. They need Americans to film them and publicise them, so we were accepted."


[1] [2] [4]

21 May, 2018

Nicolas Maduro wins presidential elections in Venezuela

President and candidate Nicolas Maduro won the Sunday elections.

President Nicolas Maduro won the Venezuelan presidential elections Sunday, gaining a second presidential term for six years with more than 5.8 million votes, the National Electoral Council (CNE) announced Sunday night.

With 92.6 percent of the votes counted, Maduro had 5.8 million votes, while his closest rival, former governor Henri Falcón getting 1.8 million votes, said CNE President Tibisay Lucena who added that in total, 8.6 million Venezuelans voted, out of an electoral registry of 20.5 million people.

"We are the force of history turned into popular victory," Maduro told his supporters after the CNE announcement. "Thank you to facing so many aggressions and lies, thank you for overcoming it, and for making me president of Venezuela for the next term."

The president further thanked the Venezuelan people for their support and voting him into a second term with 68 percent of the vote. "The people in Venezuela have to be respected."

"I demand the respect for all of the Venezuelan People. I'm the president of all of the Venezuelans. I call for a dialogue process. Permanent dialogue is what Venezuela needs."

As results came out, Maduro supporters let off fireworks in poor Caracas neighborhoods and danced to Latin pop around the downtown Miraflores presidential palace. He took 5.8 million votes, versus 1.8 for his nearest rival Henri Falcon, the board said.

"I want to congratulate the revolutionary youth in Venezuela and all social movements in Venezuela for this victory," Maduro said. "I look to the future, and I propose to all the leaders of the opposition to meet and talk about Venezuela. Democratically, let's resolve Venezuela's problems."

Maduro’s main electoral opposition was Henri Falcon, who had promised to convert Venezuela’s currency to the U.S.-dollar.

In the hour before the results were announced, Falcon said that he wasn't going to recognize the results, that they were "illegitimate." He blamed abstentionist sectors of the opposition for his loss, and called for new elections to be called for October.