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Fritz
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Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« on: 2010-05-17 18:08:23 »
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It would seem that the word on the street in Venezuela is that mercenaries are rolling in from Russia to help prop up the current regime if the election does not go in favour of Hugo and his boys. I would think this would be a story worth tracking in light of oil and that the US government has been dealing with the existing regime in the past... or so the story goes, in the street.

Cheers

Fritz
 


Source: Economist
Author: From The Economist print edition
Date: May 13th 2010

Venezuelans are starting to fall out of love with their president. Will they be allowed to vote him out of power?



WITH his bellicose bombast, theatrical gestures and dodgy jokes, Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s president for the past 11 years, has turned himself into one of the world’s most recognisable and controversial rulers. His fans salute him as a saviour for the downtrodden of the planet, a man who is leading a grass roots revolution against American imperialism and its local sepoys. But to many others, including this newspaper, he has come to embody a new, post-cold-war model of authoritarian rule which combines a democratic mandate, populist socialism and anti-Americanism, as well as resource nationalism and carefully calibrated repression.

This model has proved surprisingly successful across the world. Versions are to be found in countries as disparate and distinct as Iran, Russia, Zimbabwe and Sudan. In one way or another, these regimes claim to have created a viable alternative to liberal democracy.

In Mr Chávez’s case, that claim has been backed up above all by oil. On the one hand, he has deployed oil revenues abroad to gain allies, and to sustain the Castro brothers in power in Cuba. On the other, having kicked out Western multinationals, he has signed investment deals with state-owned oil companies. Last month China agreed to lend Venezuela $20 billion, mainly for oil development. Mr Chávez has armed his revolution with Russian jets, tanks and rifles (albeit bought on tick). Meanwhile, a Spanish judge accuses his government of sheltering members of ETA, the Basque terrorist group. Intercepted e-mails from leaders of Colombia’s FARC guerrillas suggest that they have received help, and possibly arms, through Venezuela. Of course Venezuela’s government denies such claims. So just how much of a menace is Mr Chávez, and what, if anything, can be done about him?
Venezuela’s dark age

Certainly his threats against Colombia—which include a total trade embargo if Juan Manuel Santos, a former defence minister, wins this month’s presidential election—and the evidence of his veiled support for the FARC are troubling. They are a constant, if so far manageable, source of regional tension. And his efforts to build a block based on self-proclaimed “revolutions”, anti-Americanism and managed trade in the heart of democratic Latin America have served to undermine the very cause of regional integration that he claims to champion. But rhetoric aside, his influence in the region peaked a couple of years ago. He lost one ally, albeit in regrettable circumstances, when Honduras’s president, Manuel Zelaya, was overthrown last year. Several others are on the defensive.

Much more important is the damage Mr Chávez is doing to his own country. His “21st-century socialism” is a precarious construction. The brief fall in the oil price of 2008-09 was enough to sink Venezuela’s economy into stagflation—even as the rest of Latin America is enjoying vigorous economic recovery. Venezuelans are suffering declining real wages, persistent shortages of staple goods (meat is the latest to become scarce) and daily power cuts.

The blackouts are in part the result of drought. But they are also the most dramatic sign that the bill for a decade of mismanagement of the economy and of public services is now falling due (see article). There are plenty of other ugly portents. In one of the world’s biggest oil exporters hard currency is running short: to buy a dollar in the tolerated parallel market now requires almost twice as much local currency as the official exchange rate (and three times more than the privileged rate for “essential imports”). Investors rate the country’s debt as the riskiest of anywhere. Crime and corruption are flourishing.
The coming choice between Chávez and democracy

Awkwardly for Mr Chávez, all this is happening when he faces a legislative election in September, the prelude to a vital presidential ballot in December 2012. That points to the contradiction at the heart of his project. He sees his revolution as permanent and irreversible. But he derives his legitimacy from the ballot box. He has been elected three times, and won four referendums. He has hollowed out Venezuela’s democracy, subjugating the courts, bullying the media and intimidating opponents. But he has been unable, or unwilling, to disregard or repress opposition to the same degree as Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or even Russia’s Vladimir Putin, let alone the Castro brothers in Cuba.

Public opinion still matters in Venezuela. Remarkably, opinion polls show that two Venezuelans out of five still support Mr Chávez (higher than the proportion of the British electors who voted for the Conservative Party, the senior partner in the country’s new coalition government). That is tribute to his skill in convincing the poor that he is their champion, to the opposition’s mistakes, to years of record oil prices and to the ruthlessness with which he ransacks the economy for the short-term benefit of his supporters. It means he is unlikely to fade away. But provided that the opposition comes up with a plausible alternative, it is not fanciful to imagine that in 2012 Venezuela will face a stark choice: Mr Chávez or democracy.

All the evidence is that Venezuelans, including many chavistas, are democrats and want to remain so. But Mr Chávez is pushing on regardless with his revolution, nationalising ever more businesses, expropriating private properties and selectively locking up or harassing his opponents. So the question increasingly being asked in Caracas is whether Mr Chávez’s rule will end peacefully or not.

The answer will lie largely with Venezuelans themselves. But outsiders, especially in Latin America, can play their part, by urging that the opposition receive guarantees that it can take part both this year and in 2012 on equal terms. That goes particularly for democratic Brazil, whose president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has embraced Mr Chávez far more than is desirable for his own country’s long-term interest. Mr da Silva has helped entrench prosperity, freedom and democracy in Brazil. He should hope the same happens for Venezuela. Mr Chávez, unfortunately, is not the man to bring that about.
« Last Edit: 2010-05-17 18:45:45 by Fritz » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #1 on: 2010-05-17 22:50:59 »
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Less dramatic but interesting.

Cheers

Fritz


Venezuela Offshore Rig Sinks

Source: New York Times
Author: SIMON ROMERO
Date: May 13, 2010

LIMA, Peru — An offshore natural gas exploration rig leased to Venezuela’s national oil company sank off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and forced the authorities to evacuate all 95 of its workers, President Hugo Chávez announced early Thursday.

It was unclear if the sinking posed an environmental risk.

In an attempt to calm nerves after the explosion of an offshore drilling rig last month in the Gulf of Mexico, Venezuelan energy officials said that there would be no harm since security mechanisms were quickly put in place to stop any leaking.

The cause of the sinking was unclear.

Mr. Chávez, who made the initial announcement about the sunken rig via his account on Twitter, also said that two Venezuelan Navy patrols were sent to the waters near the rig, which is owned by a subsidiary of Aban Offshore, India’s largest oil rig company.

“You know this platform is semi-submergible,” Mr. Chávez told his followers on Twitter. “At midnight it listed, took on water, ceased operations and they evacuated,” he said. Mr. Chávez has recently begun using Twitter in an attempt to reach out to people in Venezuela and beyond.

The sinking of the rig, called Aban Pearl, is a setback to Venezuela’s efforts to upgrade its energy industry, a push that has included outreach to foreign oil companies. Just hours before the sinking, Mr. Chávez had celebrated on Wednesday the signing of major new oil contracts, including with Chevron, calling them “vital for our socialist project.”

Senior officials in Venezuela had recently been lauding the Aban Pearl rig in particular. Even though the rig is owned by the Singapore unit of an Indian company, Planning Minister Jorge Giordani last week called the rig “a motive for pride of national engineering.” The rig was drilling for gas in the Mariscal Sucre gas exploration project off the coast of Sucre, a state in northeastern Venezuela in waters near Trinidad and Tobago.

An official with Aban told the BBC that the Aban Pearl was on contract to a Venezuelan state-owned firm and was being used to drill for natural gas. The rig is one of 20 ships and rigs Aban owns, according to the company’s Web site. Officials at the firm could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

James Opaluch, a professor of natural resource economics at the University of Rhode Island, said he would need more information before being able to gauge the possible impact of the sinking on the surrounding waters. He did say that accidents involving natural gas rigs generally pose less of an environmental threat than oil rigs since natural gas rises to the atmosphere while oil can float on water.

“Anything more than that would be speculation at this point,” he said.

Vikas Bajaj contributed reporting from Mumbai, India.



Source: New York Times
Author: n/a
Date: August 19, 2009

Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez has taken over from Fidel Castro the mantle of Latin America's leading opponent of the United States, which remains the largest customer for Venezuela's oil.



Mr. Chávez, a former colonel first elected in 1998 on a populist platform, has carried out a series of steps that he says are reshaping his country's economy to match his vision of "21st century socialism."

The country's economy is dominated by the oil industry. And the president has sought to counter American influence in the region, seizing control of the oil assets of American and European energy companies, and in other ways consolidating state control over the economy and nationalizing telephone and electricity companies. He proclaimed a "Bolivarian revolution," named for the hero of Latin American independence, and proclaimed the United States to be a threat, in part because of its indirect support for a coup that briefly ousted him in 2002.

President Obama has recently tried to repair Washington's relations with Venezuela, adopting a nonconfrontational approach to Mr. Chávez that stands in contrast to the Bush administration's often aggressive response to his taunts and insults. At one point, Mr. Chávez proclaimed former President George W. Bush to be "the devil" in an address to the United Nations.

Mr. Chávez  said in April 2010 that China had agreed to extend $20 billion in loans to Venezuela, pointing to deepening ties between the two countries as China seeks to secure oil supplies there.

The announcement of the loans followed other financing agreements with China that softened a sharp economic downturn in Venezuela, including a $12 billion bilateral investment fund. China's ties with Venezuela have grown increasingly warm in recent years, marked by rising Venezuelan oil exports to China, the Chinese launching of a satellite for Venezuela and the sale of Chinese military aircraft to Venezuela.

If the loans materialize, they could give Mr. Chávez a much-needed cash infusion. Some financial analysts said that Venezuela could soon face a cash crunch as it grapples with low oil revenues and a dearth of foreign investment.

Venezuela, faced with a slump in oil production, has recently been seeking to reach similar deals with energy companies from Russia, India and Spain, as well as the Chevron Corporation from the United States.

Ties between Venezuela and Colombia are at a low point. Despite repeated denials by President Chávez, Venezuelan officials have continued to assist commanders of Colombia's largest rebel group, helping them arrange weapons deals in Venezuela and even obtain identity cards to move with ease on Venezuelan soil, according to computer material captured from the rebels in recent months and under review by Western intelligence agencies.

Mr. Chávez froze diplomatic relations between the two countries in late July 2009, chafing at assertions by Colombia's government that Swedish rocket launchers sold to Venezuela ended up in the hands of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Venezuela's reaction was also fueled by Colombia's plans to increase American troop levels there.

Mr. Chávez has disputed claims of his government's collaboration with the rebels since Colombian forces raided a FARC encampment in Ecuador in 2008. During the raid, Colombian commandos obtained the computers of a FARC commander with encrypted e-mail messages that described a history of close ties between Mr. Chávez's government and the rebel group, which has long crossed over into Venezuelan territory for refuge.

Venezuela's alliances with leftist governments in Latin America, like Cuba and Bolivia, and outside the region with Iran and Belarus have been a continued source of tension with the United States.

While Mr. Chávez is popular with a majority of voters, Venezuelan society remains deeply polarized. His supporters credit him with channeling oil revenues to the poor through an array of social welfare programs. Critics, however, say his government is adopting measures that limit freedom of expression and lacks transparency in dealing with private industry.

Violent crime remains a serious problem in Venezuela. Over the past decade, an intensifying nationwide crime wave has pushed the kidnapping rate in Venezuela past Colombia's and Mexico's, with about 2 abductions per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the country's Interior Ministry.


General Information on Venezuela

Official Name: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Capital: Caracas (Current local time)
Government Type: Federal republic
Chief of State: Hugo Chavez, president
Population: 26.02 million
Area: 352,143 square miles; slightly more than twice the size of California
Languages: Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects
Literacy: Total Population: [93%] Male: [93%]; Female: [93%]
GDP Per Capita: $7,200
Year of Independence: 1811
Web site: Asambleanacional.gov.ve (In Spanish)

[Fritz] and for a little drama


Source: http://milfuegos.blogspot.com/2010/01/obama-authorizes-covert-economic-war.html
Monday, January 18, 2010

Obama authorizes covert economic war against Venezuela

WMR's intelligence sources have reported that the Obama administration has authorized an economic war against Venezuela in order to destabilize the government of President Hugo Chavez. After a successful coup against Chavez ally, President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, and the very thin 51-49 percent electorial win by Chile's billionaire right-winger Sebastian Pinera on January 17, a buoyed Obama White House has given a green light for political operatives in Venezuela, many of whom operate under the cover of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to set the stage for massive street demonstrations to protest Chavez's devaluation of the bolivar, Venezuela's currency.

Chavez devalued the bolivar by fifty percent to make Venezuelan oil exports less expensive thus boosting revenue for his country. However, the devalation has also seen price rises and inflation in Venezuela and the CIA and its subservient NGOs have wasted little time in putting out stories about consumers rushing to the stories ahead of an increase in consumer products, with imported flat-screen televisions being the favorite consumer item being hyped by the corporate media as seeing a huge price increase and long lines at shopping malls favored by the Venezuelan elites.

The state has exempted certain consumer goods such as food, medicines, school supplies, and industrial machinery from being affected by the bolivar's devaluation through a different exchange rate and price controls, but it is the price increases on televisions, tobacco, alcohol, cell phones, and computers that has the anti-Chavez forces in Venezuela and abroad hyping the ill-effects on the Venezuelan consumer.

To battle against businessmen who are trying to capitalize on the devaluation of the bolivar, Chavez has threatened to close and possibly seize any business that gouges the consumer by inordinately raising prices. The first target of a temporary closure was a Caracas stored owned by the French firm Exito.

International investment analysts praised Chavez's decision to devalue the bolivar and said the decision was overdue considering the fall of oil prices worldwide. However, the CIA and NGOs, many aligned with George Soros's Open Society Institute and the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy are planning large street demonstrations against Chavez's handling of the economy. National Assembly elections are scheduled for September but the Obama administration has decided that if Chavez can be removed now, his allies in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and some Caribbean island states will quickly abandon Chavez's alternative to American-led Western Hemisphere financial contrivances and free trade pacts, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA). The Obama planners then see Cuba, once again, being isolated in the hemisphere and ripe for increased U.S. political pressure. Cuba was placed on the list of 14 countries requiring additional airline passenger screening as part of the policy to pressure and isolate Cuba. There is a possibility that with the outbreak of U.S.-inspired violence on the streets of Venezuela, that nation could join Cuba on the list as the 15th country.

The Obama administration's assault os two-fold: economic and political. Pressure is being applied against the gasoline chain Citgo, which is owned by the Venezuelan state oil company, PDVSA, and Venezuelan investment favorability ratings. Politically, the U.S. is overtly and covertly funneling money to anti-Chavez groups through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and groups affiliated with George Soros.

There is also a small military component to Obama's strategy of undermining Chavez. U.S., P-3 Orion overflights of Venezuelan airspace from bases in Aruba and Curacao are designed to intimidate Chavez and activate Venezuelan radar and command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) systems to gather electronic and signals intelligence data that would be used by the United States to jam Venezuelan military networks in the event of a U.S.-inspired surprising against Chavez by U.S. loyalists embedded in the Venezuelan military, police, PDVSA, and media. The U.S. is also stoking cross-border incursions into Venezuela by Colombian paramilitaries to gauge Venezuela's border defenses. Last November, Colombian right-wing paramilitary units killed two Venezuelan National Guardsmen inside Venezuela in Tachira state. Weapons caches maintained by Colombians inside Venezuela have been seized by Venezuelan authorities. Venezuela has also arrested a number of Colombian DAS intelligence agents inside Venezuela.

Obama signed a military agreement with Colombia that allows the United States to establish seven air and naval bases in Colombia. An additional agreement by Obama with Panama will see the U.S. military return to that nation to set up two military bases.

It is estimated that some 25 percent of Venezuelans are likely Fifth Columnists who would take part in a revolt against Chavez. Many of based in the Venezuelan oil-producing state of Zulia and the capital of Maracaibo, where successive U.S. ambassadors in Caracas have stoked secessionist embers and where the CIA and U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency have concentrated much of their efforts. In November, Venezuelan police arrested in Maracaibo, Magaly Janeth Moreno Vega, also known as "The Pearl," the leader of the right-wing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), which has been directly linked to Colombia's pro-U.S. President Alvaro Uribe and members of his government, including former Colombian attorney general Luis Camilo Osorio Isaza, appointed by Uribe as Colombia's ambassador to Mexico.
Posted by Macu at 1/18/2010 02:47:00 PM


« Last Edit: 2010-05-17 22:56:44 by Fritz » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #2 on: 2010-06-28 14:10:42 »
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Quote:
Intercepted e-mails from leaders of Colombia’s FARC guerrillas suggest that they have received help, and possibly arms, through Venezuela. Of course Venezuela’s government denies such claims.
[letheomaniac] This is a reference to the infamous "magic laptop"
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Re:Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #3 on: 2010-06-29 06:09:09 »
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[letheomaniac]Oliver Stone on the biased coverage Venezuela and Hugo Chavez receive in the Western corporate media
« Last Edit: 2010-06-29 07:02:48 by letheomaniac » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #4 on: 2010-06-29 07:07:26 »
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[letheomaniac] I realize that Honduras is not Venezuela, but I thought that this article provides a nice clear example of the habitual dirty dealings perpetrated by the US government in Latin American nations. I find it hard to believe that Chavez is being treated with any more respect than Zelaya was.

Source: Information Clearing House
Authors: Bill Quigley and Laura Raymond
Dated: 28/6/10

Honduras Resistance Strong Despite US-Supported Coup

One year ago, on June 28, 2009, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was awakened by gunfire. A coup was carried out by US-trained military officers, including graduates of the infamous US Army School of the Americas (WHINSEC) in Georgia. President Zelaya was illegally taken to Costa Rica.

Democracy in Honduras ended as a de facto government of the rich and powerful seized control. A sham election backed by the US confirmed the leadership of the coup powers. The US and powerful lobbyists continue to roam the hemisphere trying to convince other Latin American countries to normalize relations with the coup government.

The media has ignored the revival of US hard power in the Americas and the widespread resistance which challenges it.

A pro-democracy movement, the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (FNRP) formed in the coup’s aftermath. Despite horrendous repression, it has organized the anger and passion of a multitude of mass-based popular movements -- landless workers, farmers, women, LGBTQ folks, unions, youth and others -- and spread a palpable energy of possibility and hope throughout the country.

These forces of democracy have been subjected to police killings, arbitrary detentions, beatings, rape and other sexual abuse of women and girls, torture and harassment of journalists, judges and activists. Prominent LGBTQ activists, labor organizers, campesinos and youth working with the resistance have been assassinated. Leaders have been driven into exile.

Four judges, including the president of Honduran Judges for Democracy, were fired in May 2010 for criticizing the illegality of the coup. Two of them went on a widely-supported hunger strike in the nation’s capital. Judges who participated in public demonstrations in favor of the de facto government remain in power.

In 2010 alone, seven journalists have been murdered. Many others have been threatened. Reporters without Borders calls Honduras the most dangerous country in the world for journalists.

Why was there a coup? Honduras was planning to hold a June 28 poll on whether or not a referendum for forming a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution should be on the November ballot. Many among the poor correctly view the current constitution as favoring corporations and wealthy landowners. As a result of the constitutional preference for the rich and powerful, Honduras has one of the largest wealth gaps between the rich and poor in Latin America. Washington and the Honduran elite were also angered that President Zelaya signed an agreement to join the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA). ALBA is a regional trade agreement that provides an alternative to the free trade agreements such as CAFTA that have been pushed by Washington yet opposed by many popular movements through the Americas. Zelaya’s proposal to transform Soto Cano Air Base, historically important to the US military, into a much-needed civilian airport was unpopular in Washington as was his lack of support for the privatization of the telecommunications industry.

Forces in the US provided critical support for the coup. As members of the resistance have explained, coups do not happen in Latin America without the support of those with power in the US. Right wing ideologues and shell NGOs based out of Washington played a critical role in the coup and since. A leadership vacuum in the Obama Administration regarding Honduras has led to extreme right-wing ideologues directing US policy there. These people are hell bent on stopping the growing populist movements throughout Latin America from gaining more influence and power. Some, such as Otto Reich and Roger Noriega, have moved from positions in the State Department and United Nations into private lobbying firms or conservative think tanks. Others, such as Robert Carmona-Borjas, who was granted asylum in the US after his involvement in the attempted coup against Hugo Chavez, are working for so-called NGOs that use vague missions such as “anti-corruption” to mask the foreign policy work they do.

In the past year, the business elite in Honduras have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Washington-based lobbying and PR firms to get the U.S. Democratic and Republican parties in line. For example, the Asociación Hondureña de Maquiladoras (Honduran Association of Maquiladoras) hired the Cormac Group to lobby the US government regarding “foreign relations” just days after the coup. Close Clinton confidant Lanny Davis lobbied for the coup powers in DC. A delegation of Republican Senators travelled to Honduras in the fall to support the coup government and organized for wider Congressional support upon their return.

Despite initially condemning the coup, the Obama Administration has completely shifted its position. It provided critical, life-giving approval to the widely denounced elections that were boycotted by much of the Honduran population. The military that was killing people in the streets was also guarding the ballot boxes. Major candidates such as Carlos H. Reyes, now a leader of the resistance, refused to run. The Carter Center, the United Nations, and other respected election observers refused to observe. The FNRP called on people to stay home.

The Organization of American States suspended Honduras and has continued to resist efforts of Secretary of State Clinton to pressure them into readmitting Honduras. However, the US pushed for and was able to secure the formation of a high-level OAS panel to “study” the re-entry of Honduras at its recent meeting in Peru. We may well start to see the international community beginning to normalize relations with this illegitimate government.

As it stands now the coup government of Honduras’ biggest ally is the United States.

A year after the coup, US activists and pro-democracy supporters need to increase their knowledge about what is going on with our neighbors in Honduras and stand in solidarity with the resistance. For democracy to mean anything, it has to mean that plans for a national referendum to rewrite a Constitution to better serve a nation’s people should not be met with a US-supported military coup.

Once again the US is on the wrong side in Latin America.

Once again, the US government is undermining democracy and actively supporting a government that is murdering its own people.

Once again, the US has sided with anti-democracy forces and is trying to bully the world into rubber-stamp approval of our mistakes.

Moving forward from this unfortunate anniversary, one thing is certain -- the people’s movement in Honduras is only growing. The resistance has gone ahead with organizing for a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution. Today there will be massive demonstrations throughout Honduras. We must stand with this dramatic and powerful social movement and challenge our own government to support the forces of democracy, not destroy them.

CCR will be hosting the NYC premiere of a film about the Resistance on July 7, 7pm at Tribeca Cinemas in lower Manhattan. It will also premiere in DC and Berkeley.

For more information about the Honduran resistance, please see their website (and click on the “English” tab): http://www.resistenciahonduras.net/

Bill and Laura work at the Center for Constitutional Rights. You can contact Bill at quigley77@gmail.com and Laura at lauraraymond21@gmail.com
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Re:Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #5 on: 2010-06-29 17:26:54 »
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Quote from: letheomaniac on 2010-06-29 06:09:09   

[letheomaniac]Oliver Stone on the biased coverage Venezuela and Hugo Chavez receive in the Western corporate media


[Blunderov] Nowhere (and this is saying something) is the USA's complete lack of conscience or morality in foreign relations more horrifyingly obvious than in South America. This has been the case for many decades. The Monroe doctrine has amounted to a declaration of the annexation of South America to the USA's corporate interests.

Oliver Stone has been and is stepping up to the plate like no other to expose this disgraceful state of affairs. Viva Oliver Stone! The only highlite on CNN, to which I have been condemned in my lonely little hotel room in Ivory Coast, has been Oliver Stone's two all too brief appearances. May his message be heard.
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Re:Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #6 on: 2010-07-12 11:54:30 »
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Talking with friends from Venezuela; it seems Chavez's is doing all sorts of nasty deals with the US and the oil industry, and the western media isn't covering the US relationship realistically. I am in agreement with Stone calling out the US monstrosities in South America. But, it seems to be a mistake to suggest that Hugo and the whole sales dismantling and sell out of Venezuela is in anyway a noble endeavor. It looks like the citizens of Venezuela are realizing, taking from the rich and giving to the poor and lining your own pockets doesn't a viable country or leader make make.

Cheers

Fritz



Challenging Chavez's grip on Venezuela

Source: Washington Post
Author: Jackson Diehl
Date: Monday, July 12, 2010

During one of his interminable appearances on national television, Hugo Chávez demanded to know last month why Guillermo Zuloaga, the majority owner of Venezuela's last opposition television station, was not in jail. "How is it possible that he can accuse me of such things and walk free?" the strongman demanded.

The answer is fairly simple: Zuloaga's statements about Chávez were hardly criminal, and years of government investigations had turned up nothing else prosecutors could plausibly use against him. But that, of course, was not the response of Chavez's henchmen. Within days of the broadcast, an investigation against the businessman that had been abandoned was reopened; charges were filed. On June 11, a judge ordered Zuloaga arrested and confined to one of the country's high-security prisons.

By then, the 67-year-old owner of Globovision, an all-news channel that is now the only alternative in Venezuela to government propaganda, was no longer in the country. Like Globovision's minority owner, another businessman whose bank was taken over by the government three days after the arrest warrant, Zuloaga sought refuge in the United States. Last week he and his son, whose arrest was also ordered, were in Washington, where they were considering making a request for asylum.

"It never crossed my mind that I would be forced to live someplace besides Venezuela," Zuloaga told me in an interview. "But I can't be of much help to anyone if I am in a high-security prison. And I think it's public knowledge that all of the institutions of justice in Venezuela are controlled by the president."

Zuloaga's own cases offers vivid proof of that. Judges who have dared to rule in his favor have been summarily fired; charges have been blatantly concocted to serve Chávez's whim. The case that forced him into exile concerns not the criticism the caudillo complained of but a claim that the broadcaster, who also owns a car dealership, was guilty of "hoarding" his inventory -- a charge so ludicrous that Chávez's own attorney general had dropped it, before scrambling to revive it after the televised diktat.
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The attack on Globovision betrays Chávez's desperation. Alone in Latin America, Venezuela's economy continues to plunge sharply downward; inflation is at 30 percent; violent crime is soaring. Zuloaga's journalists have devoted much of their attention in recent weeks to a scandal concerning the spoilage of tens of thousands of tons of food imported by the regime -- at a time when shortages of basic goods are widespread.

Worst of all for Chávez, an election -- for the National Assembly -- is scheduled for Sept. 26. Five years ago a foolish opposition boycott turned the congress into a rubber stamp for Chávez. This year, having hammered together a unity list, the anti-Chávez forces think they could win a majority of the seats. That's certainly what polls show. The outstanding question is what the government will do -- beyond a district gerrymander that has already been imposed -- to skew or steal the election.

Silencing Globovision appears to be the beginning of Chávez's answer. "Legally there is no way the government can close Globovision," Zuloaga said. "But that doesn't mean there won't be an arbitrary decision. Chávez has been trying in any way he can to control the screens of Globovision. They want to inspire fear more than they want to win votes, because they know they have run out of money to buy votes with."

The crackdown is not without risk. Globovision, seen in more than 2 million Venezuelan homes, is popular. The government's shutdown of another opposition broadcaster, RCTV, in 2007 provoked nationwide demonstrations and gave birth to an opposition student movement. Already, the arrest order against Zuloaga has caused considerable international condemnation, including from the U.N. rapporteur on free expression and the State Department, which called it "the latest example of the government of Venezuela's continuing assault on the freedom of the press."

Zuloaga says Globovision will go on, "as if we are going to be on the air forever." He, meanwhile, will hope that Chávez cannot do the same. "I really believe what is happening in Venezuela is unsustainable," he said. "I don't think people can accept that the quality of life continues to do down the drain. How can that keep on happening?"
« Last Edit: 2010-07-12 12:55:04 by Fritz » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #7 on: 2010-07-13 13:43:04 »
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During one of his interminable appearances on national television...
[letheomaniac]The opening sentence of this article clearly demonstrates that the author is not being objective or dispassionate, or else he would have said something like "During one of his television appearances, which have been described by some observers as 'interminable'..." Of course if this is an op-ed piece then my point is moot, but if this is an attempt at proper objective journalism then it fails dismally.
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Re:Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #8 on: 2010-07-13 14:03:57 »
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[letheomaniac] I don't think much of the journalistic integrity of the Washington Post as a whole either. Here's a little gem from just last year...

Source: Slate
Author:  Jack Shafer
Dated: 2/7/09

Monetizing the Washington Dinner Party
The Washington Post's boneheaded—and aborted—plan to lobby for lobbyists

Mike Allen's early-morning report in Politico that the Washington Post intended to sell access to its newsroom to lobbyists forced the paper's publisher and editor to back down from their plan at record speed. Allen reported that the Post had circulated a flier offering "lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to 'those powerful few': Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and—at first—even the paper's own reporters and editors." The quoted cost of sponsorship for these "Washington Post Salons," the first of which Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth would host at her home on July 21, ranged from $25,000 to $250,000.

The salon series was quickly canceled by Weymouth, who said in a Howard Kurtz Post story published a little after noon that the fliers "got out" before they had been "vetted" and that they "didn't represent at all what we were attempting to do." Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli shared Weymouth's mortification. Although he had participated in discussions about the newsroom's participation in money-making conferences, he was "blindsided," Kurtz wrote, by the flier, which made it look as if the paper's reporters and editors were for sale. Kurtz reported that unnamed Post executives blamed the whole conflagration on "overzealous marketing executives." (Are the marketing guys being asked to take the fall? I hope not.)

I want to take Weymouth's and Brauchli's screams of shame as genuine, if only for this reason: If the paper decided to sell the newsroom's integrity, wouldn't it charge a thousand times the sticker price quoted in the rogue flier? Besides, the Post's "health care reporting and editorial staff," whose attendance the flier promised, would have refused to participate.

There's nothing new about journalists sitting down to a meal with high government officials, Washington fixers, and even "intellectuals" at the home of the publisher of the Washington Post. Katharine Graham hosted hundreds of such off-the-record affairs at her Georgetown residence during her years as Post publisher and company chairman.

Washington's power elite depended on its salons to trade gossip and influence and send social signals. You can argue that Graham's salon was useful to Washington Post readers because it kept channels of communication to valuable sources open for the paper's reporters or that it was corrupting because it compromised Post-ies who got too close to the powerful. Both are probably true, but the alternative of banning all socializing between reporters and sources seems unpractical as well as extremely stupid. What ultimately killed the classic Washington dinner party, Sally Quinn reported in a Dec. 13, 1987, Washington Post Magazine feature, was not the ethical problems but "economics, feminism, power breakfasts, calorie-counting, teetotaling, the hick factor, tunnel vision, fatigue, computer mentality and boring politicians and diplomats"—basically the vagaries of modern life. Oh, and Quinn also blames Jimmy Carter.

David Bradley, publisher and owner of the Atlantic, recently resurrected the power salon, hosting dinners attended by the very important at his Watergate offices. According to an April 27 Howard Kurtz piece in the Post, the Bradley meals have attracted Jordanian "royalty," notables from big business, the White House officials (past and present), a slew of journalists, and even British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

To be sure, traditional salons have delivered rewards. But the payouts have generally been indirect and almost exclusively psychological. Weymouth's now-canceled soirées differ from her grandmother's because they are monetized, charging lobbyists—a practice generally shunned by earlier salon-builders—for the chance to rub noggins with other influential guests. Whether or not Post newsroom employees would have attended, the Weymouth plan marked a break from the past.

There's no harm in selling influential mixing as long as the price is right and the relationship isn't tawdry, argues devil's advocate Peter Kafka. Kafka writes for the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital, which also runs a big-bucks conference where attendees listen to digital-industry leaders pontificate. He notes quite rightly that "publications of all stripes" charge for "networking events where their editorial staffs participate."

Of course, there's a big difference between a conference run in broad daylight and an intimate for-pay gathering at a publisher's home. At a conference, sponsorship is transparent, and attendees aren't purchasing direct access to the notables on the stage. The whole point of buying a ticket to Weymouth's house, though, is to buy access—the publisher has essentially gone into the business of facilitating lobbying.

To gauge just how unkosher the Weymouth salon is, consider a smaller-scale version of the same practice: A reporter throws a poker party at his home. The guest list includes legislative aides and junior lobbyists. That's OK, right? It's just a poker game among a bunch of guys who live in Washington. But the minute the reporter starts charging the lobbyists money on the promise that legislative aides will attend, he's crossed the line. He's no longer hosting a party; he's arranging a lobbying session for personal profit. His editors would tan his hide. Then they'd fire him.

If it's ugly for a Washington Post reporter to lobby for lobbyists, it's doubly ugly for the publisher to do the same. The publisher should sell lobbyists all the subscriptions to the paper that they want, sell them as many pages of advertisements in the Post as will make them happy, and, I suppose (if she wants to take the heat), even sell them the right to sponsor a Washington Post conference, as long as the sponsorship is public.

What really stinks about the now-aborted salon-for-dollars scheme is that Katharine Weymouth appears to have contemplated the sale of something that wasn't hers to sell—the Post's credibility.
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Re:Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #9 on: 2010-07-13 14:16:01 »
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Quote from: letheomaniac on 2010-07-13 13:43:04   


Quote:
During one of his interminable appearances on national television...
[letheomaniac]The opening sentence of this article clearly demonstrates that the author is not being objective or dispassionate, or else he would have said something like "During one of his television appearances, which have been described by some observers as 'interminable'..." Of course if this is an op-ed piece then my point is moot, but if this is an attempt at proper objective journalism then it fails dismally.

No argument on the misgivings of the US news media, including the Washington Post. I am just aware from talking with people in and from Venezuela that the news stories supporting Hugo Chávez are as miss-guided if not as self serving as the mainstream media's pitch. It is clear to me that the Corporate/Capitalist world has raped Central and South America, but the likes of Chávez is not the solution is all I am getting at; even if the mainstream media is not honorably motivated, my choice of their stories is because first hand accounts bear them out this time for me.

Cheers

Fritz


PS: Good to hear from you Letheomaniac
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Re:Hugo Ch�vez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #10 on: 2010-07-13 15:52:09 »
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Quote:
No argument on the misgivings of the US news media, including the Washington Post. I am just aware from talking with people in and from Venezuela that the news stories supporting Hugo Chavez are as miss-guided if not as self serving as the mainstream media's pitch. It is clear to me that the Corporate/Capitalist world has raped Central and South America, but the likes of Chavez is not the solution is all I am getting at; even if the mainstream media is not honorably motivated, my choice of their stories is because first hand accounts bear them out this time for me.
[letheomaniac] Forgive me Fritz, but I have a mistrust of corporations of all varieties stemming from the fact that I work for one and they have at no point shown that they are in any way worthy of trust, and I therefore regard all corporate news outlets as suspect. The Washington Post may be reporting the facts, but are they all the facts? A lie by omission is a lie nonetheless, but I concede that I digressed from the original argument a little. The crux of your point is that some people in Venezuela disapprove of the policies of the Hugo Chavez government. Fair enough. But I put to you that there is no country in the world where popular opinion is not divided on some if not all matters of policy. I live in a country ruled by the ANC and they, like Chavez, posses a large enough parliamentary majority to render parliament a rubber stamp for any law they care to enact, and yet the ANC do not have an absolute majority (65% of the vote) and they never will, and this in my opinion illustrates the point that there will always be differences of opinion when it comes to matters of politics whether they be of the Venezuelan or South African variety. We also have an executive presidency, ie. what the prez says goes, so our colourful president Jacob Zuma has just as much control over our country as Chavez does over his. This makes South Africa not dissimilar to Venezuela in many respects, and yet I do not see headlines howling about how the ANC government is "wrecking" the nation, even as they too make shady deals for their own profit and to the detriment of the South African public as a whole.
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Re:Hugo Ch�vez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #11 on: 2010-07-13 17:58:21 »
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Quote from: letheomaniac on 2010-07-13 15:52:09   


[letheomaniac] Forgive me Fritz, but I have a mistrust of corporations of all varieties stemming from the fact that I work for one and they have at no point shown that they are in any way worthy of trust, and I therefore regard all corporate news outlets as suspect. The Washington Post may be reporting the facts, but are they all the facts? A lie by omission is a lie nonetheless, but I concede that I digressed from the original argument a little. The crux of your point is that some people in Venezuela disapprove of the policies of the Hugo Chavez government. Fair enough. But I put to you that there is no country in the world where popular opinion is not divided on some if not all matters of policy. <snip>

Well put, and a good reminder to me that I'm not talking with the under class that is suffering in Venezuela.

My mistrust of left or right comes from growing up in a post WWII German household yet in North America, where I was always reminded how evil and despicable Germans had been; yet when in the German community regularity heard "well you know Hitler did a lot of good things". This made the in house wisdom suspect as you point out and the main stream public view even more suspect since it was equally breed of propaganda.

So you have reminded me: Trust no one, Believe no one and Get the facts,  Just the facts ..... but where ?

Cheers

Fritz
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Re:Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #12 on: 2010-08-03 02:20:03 »
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Quote:
Well put, and a good reminder to me that I'm not talking with the under class that is suffering in Venezuela.
[letheomaniac] Thanks Fritz

Quote:
So you have reminded me: Trust no one, Believe no one and Get the facts,  Just the facts ..... but where ?
[letheomaniac]Well, my solution to the problem is to read as many stories from as many different angles that I can find about a certain topic and then make up my own mind. Searching for "truthiness" I suppose.
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Re:Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #13 on: 2010-08-10 12:47:12 »
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[letheomaniac] I have suspected for a while that all the anti-Chavez noise being generated by the western corporate media recently is part of a campaign to manufacture consent for an attack on Venezuela by (right-wing narco-state US proxy) Colombia. It seems I am not alone.

Source: Information Clearing House
Author: Mike Whitney
Dated: 9/8/10

Hurrah for Hugo Chavez

It's no fun being on Washington's enemies list. Just ask Hugo Chavez. Last week, the Venezuelan president had to cancel a trip to Cuba after he was told that a coup was underway and his life was in danger. The information came from an anonymous source who had delivered a similar warning prior to the failed coup in 2002. The letter said: “The execution phase is accelerating..… There is an agreement between Colombia and the US with two objectives: one is Mauricio and the other is the overthrow of the government.… They will hunt down ‘Mauricio’ (and) try to neutralize part of the Armed Forces.” ("Venezuela Pushes for Peace", Coral Wynter, Green Left News)

“Mauricio” is Chavez's codename. Whoever is behind the coup, wants to kill Chavez.

There's no way of knowing whether Chavez is really in danger or not, but we shouldn't be too surprised if he is. After all, the US claims it has the right to kill anyone it sees as a threat to its national security, and Chavez surely ranks high on its list of threats. So it's wise to be careful. In any event, the warnings coincide with other unsettling developments. At a recent meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS), Colombian ministers charged Chavez with harboring guerrillas on Venezuelan territory. (The allegations could be used to justify a preemptive attack) Chavez reacted swiftly and broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia, but the row did not end there. Obama's nominee as US ambassador to Venezuela, Larry Palmer, threw a little gas on the fire by backing-up Colombia's claims. Now the two countries are at loggerheads which seems to be what the Obama administration had in mind from the very beginning. US policy towards Venezuela has changed at all under Obama. If anything, it's gotten worse.

US EXPANDS 7 BASES IN COLOMBIA

The Pentagon recently announced that it plans to expand 7 military bases in Colombia. State Dept officials said that the US merely wants to step up its counter-narcotics operations, but no one's buying it. Everyone knows the US wants to reestablish its control over the region. The military build up in Colombia is another way of ratcheting up the pressure on Chavez and fanning the flames of political instability in the hemisphere. Naturally, the base expansion has the region's leftist leaders worried that Latin America may be headed for another era of US-backed dirty wars.

Also, the internet is abuzz with stories that Obama is planning to deploy warships and ground troops to Costa Rica in the near-future. Here's an article on Alternet that lays out the basic theory:

"Rather than retooling its diplomatic approach to fit the new reality in Latin America, Washington is expanding its military footprint. It is will soon be operating out of seven military bases in Colombia and has reactivated its 4th Fleet, both highly unpopular moves in Latin America. Rather than taking the advice of countries in the region to demilitarize its war on drugs, the U.S. recently announced it is deploying 46 warships and 7,000 soldiers to Costa Rica to “interdict” drug traffic and money laundering." ("Recent Colombian Mass Grave Discovery May Be “False-Positives", Conn Hallinan, Alternet)

Although the rumors have not been verified, the anxiety is growing. The US has never played a constructive role in Latin America's affairs, and the prospect of more meddling and violence is frightening. The truth is, US intervention has continued even during relatively peaceful periods like the last decade. US intelligence agents and NGOs are sprinkled throughout the civilian population gathering information, swaying elections, and fomenting social unrest. Here's a clip from an article titled "America's Covert 'Civil Society Operations: US interference in Venezuela keeps growing" which shows how America's tentacles extend everywhere:

"Foreign intervention is not only executed through military force. The funding of “civil society” groups and media outlets to promote political agendas and influence the “hearts and minds” of the people is one of the more widely used mechanisms by the US government to achieve its strategic objectives. In Venezuela, the US has been supporting anti-Chavez groups for over 8 years, including those that executed the coup d’etat against President Chavez in April 2002. Since then, the funding has increased substantially. A May 2010 report evaluating foreign assistance to political groups in Venezuela, commissioned by the National Endowment for Democracy, revealed that more than $40 million USD annually is channeled to anti-Chavez groups, the majority from US agencies....

A large part of NED funds in Venezuela have been invested in “forming student movements” and “building democratic leadership amongst youth”, from a US perspective and with US values....In the last three years, an opposition student/youth movement has been created with funding from various US and European agencies. More than 32% of USAID funding, for example, has gone to “training youth and students in the use of innovative media technologies to spread political messages and campaigns”, such as on Twitter and Facebook.

NED has also funded several media organizations in Venezuela, to aid in training journalists and designing political messages against the Venezuelan government. ..What these organizations really do is promote anti-Chavez messages on television and in international press, as well as distort and manipulate facts and events in the country in order to negatively portray the Chavez administration... Yet such funding is clearly illegal and a violation of journalist ethics. Foreign government funding of “independent” journalists or media outlets is an act of mass deception, propaganda and a violation of sovereignty. ("America's Covert 'Civil Society Operations: US interference in Venezuela keeps growing", Eva Golinger, Global Research)

It's hard to believe that a two-year senator from Chicago with a background in "community organizing" presides over this elaborate and opaque system of imperial rule. He doesn't, of course. The real leaders remain hidden behind the cloak of democratic government and all of Washington's phony institutions. Obama is merely a public relations hologram, a friendly face that conceals the machinations of a global Mafia. Other people--whoever they may be--control the levers of power moving the pieces as needed to assure the best outcome for themselves and their constituents. Now, it appears this shadow government has its eyes on Latin America once again. That's bad news for Chavez and anyone else who hoped that political instability and US black ops were a thing of the past.

Washington hates Chavez because he's raised living standards for the poor. (and because he won't bow to the giant corporations) That's why he's pilloried in the media, because his socialist model of democracy doesn't jive with America's slash and burn-style of capitalism. Chavez has enacted land and oil industry reform, improved education and provided universal healthcare. He's introduced job training, subsidies to single mothers, drug prevention programs, and assistance for recovering addicts. Venezuelans are more educated than ever before. Illiteracy has been wiped out.

Chavez's policies have reduced ignorance, poverty, and injustice. The list goes on and on. Venezuelans are more engaged in the political process than anytime in the nation's history. That scares Washington. US elites don't want well-informed, empowered people participating in the political process. They believe that task should be left to the venal politicians chosen by corporate bosses and top-hat banksters. That's why Chavez has to go. He's given people hope for a better life.

Movie director, Oliver Stone, summed it up perfectly in a recent interview with Nathan Gardels. He said, "The US remains hostile to anyone on the left coming to power in their "backyard," anyone who thinks the resources of a country belong to its people....For the first time in modern history, much of South America is beyond US control.....It is also beyond the influence of the US-dominated IMF."

The people of Venezuela are better off under Chavez; better fed, better educated, and with better access to medical care. The government safeguards their civil liberties and political activism continues to grow. Democracy is thriving in Venezuela. Hurrah for Hugo Chavez!
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Re:Hugo Chávez's government : The wrecking of Venezuela
« Reply #14 on: 2010-08-10 17:07:24 »
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[letheomaniac] I found this interesting article that has a somewhat different perspective on the matter...

<snip>

The FARC Factor

Obama and now ex-President Uribe accused Venezuela of offering sanctuary for Colombian  guerillas (FARC and ELN).  In reality this is a ploy to pressure President Chavez to denounce or at a minimum demand that the FARC give up their armed struggle on terms dictated by the US and Colombian regime.

Contrary to President Uribe and the State Department’s boasts that the FARC is a declining, isolated and defeated fragment of the past, as a result of their successful counter-insurgency campaigns, a recent detailed field study by a Colombian researcher La guerra contra las FARC y la guerra de las FARC demonstrates that in the last 2 years the guerrillas have consolidated their influence over one-third of the country, and that the regime in Bogota controls only half the country.  After suffering major defeats in 2008, the FARC and ELN have steadily advanced throughout 2009-2010 inflicting over 1300 military casualties last year and probably near double this year.  (La Jornada 8/6/2010).  The resurgence and advance of the FARC has crucial importance as far as Washington’s military campaign again Venezuela.  It also affects the position of its “strategic ally” – Santos regime.  First it demonstrates that despite $6 billion plus in US military aid to Colombia, its counter-insurgency campaign to “exterminate” the FARC has failed.  Secondly, the FARC’s offensive opens a “second front” in Colombia, weakening any effort to launch an invasion of Venezuela using Colombia as a “springboard”.  Thirdly, faced with a growing internal class war, the new President Santos is more likely to seek to lessen tensions with Venezuela, hoping to relocate troops from the frontier of its neighbor toward the growing guerilla insurgency.  In a sense, despite Chavez misgivings about the guerrillas and outspoken calls for ending the guerrilla struggle, the resurgence of the armed movements are likely a prime factor in lessening the prospects of a US directed intervention.

<snip>

Read the rest of the article here.
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