At around 6pm downtown, the numbers of protesters who had been calling for an end to military trials, among other demands on the ruling military council, was beginning to thin from tens of thousands earlier in the afternoon to thousands.
Many people were leaving Tahrir Square. However, a few thousand were not going home. They were heading to the Israeli Embassy located about four miles away from the square on the Giza bank of the Nile that divides Greater Cairo into two.
News had been arriving all afternoon that hundreds of protesters with hammers had been demolishing a wall that the Giza governorate had finished erecting just days before around the tall apartment building that houses the Israeli Embassy.
The governor of Giza wanted the wall to protect Tel Aviv’s embassy from the wrath of Egyptians whose hostility to Israeli oppression of the Palestinians was greatly compounded by a recent Israeli attack inside Egyptian territory which left six Egyptian soldiers dead.
We, I and two other journalists, one Egyptian and the other American, could not find any taxis to give us a lift to the embassy. All taxi drivers had already heard through radio reports that big things were happening around the Israeli “compound” and declined a potential LE10 fare.
So we took a LE1 microbus that dropped us as close as possible to “hell”.
As we made our way through streets filled with drivers anxious to avoid passing by the embassy, hundreds of young people carrying Egyptian flags and some Palestinian flags were hurrying on foot from all directions to join celebrations underway on Kobri El-Gamea, the bridge leading to the square on which the 22-storey building housing the embassy resides.
Some 30 years ago, the Israeli government picked this bizarre spot to house its embassy. Unlike nearly every other embassy in Cairo, the Israeli embassy is not housed in a palatial villa, but rather in three levels atop a fairly normal high rise building, far up and looking over a main thoroughfare in Giza.
The axis on which the building stands includes a circular square, off which also is located the Cairo Zoo and Cairo University 600 meters away on one side, and is separated in distance by 100 metres from the villa that houses the Saudi Embassy, and by 500 metres from the Giza headquarters of the Ministry of Interior on the other side.
Many Egyptians have believed for 30 years that Israel chose to implant its embassy in this specific location in order to be able to fly its Star of David, blue and white flag over the Nile.
We arrived on the scene and found at least 5000 people surrounding the building, and they were chanting “Down Down with Israel!” and celebrating.
The tall concrete wall, which for many Egyptians was an ugly reminder of Israel’s notorious Separation Wall on the West Bank, had been turned to rubble.
People were walking around with big chunks of stones from the one week old barrier, planning to take them home as souvenirs. This was Egypt’s small “Berlin Wall” moment.
An army unit composed of a few tanks was still guarding the entrance to the building as it had for months since the outbreak of the revolution on 25 January. Otherwise, all was peaceful.
At around 8pm, a few young people started climbing the building using ropes apparently in order to get to the 21st floor windows.
The crowds egged them on, hoping that they would bring down the Israeli flag from the roof as Ahmed Shahat, a young Egyptian in his 20s, had done two weeks ago, earning himself the title, Egypt’s Spiderman. However, the climbers could not get past the fourth level.
Moments later, hundreds stormed the entrance to the building.
As I could not see exactly what was happening near that entrance because of crowd numbers, I had to rely on reports from those closer to the building to find out what happened then. Most reports confirmed that an army officer or two in charge of the unit did very little to stop the crowds.
Twenty minutes later, the crowd outside the building, which was still growing in numbers, spotted several young people waving Egyptian flags from the 20th storey balcony, just one level beneath the embassy penthouse.
I was able to confirm later that 100-200 people occupied the building and that tens managed to break into the embassy.
Suddenly, around 9pm or so, a small unit of Central Security Forces (CSF), the notorious Egyptian riot police, showed up in the area but did not head towards protesters and instead, made its way 50 metres away from the crowd, leaving soldiers in full riot gear to block the entrance of the Saudi Embassy just around the corner.
At this point, hundreds of young people clashed with riot police up and down the Saudi Embassy side street for about half an hour. Protesters most likely set ablaze two CSF trucks, while a couple of trees also caught fire
Some walked back from the fresh clashes with several “Made in USA” canisters of tear gas that they snatched from soldiers, and displayed them to the larger crowds.
As a firetruck worked to put out the fire on the Saudi street, CSF soldiers disappeared from the scene and things seemed to calm down in that part of the arena.
Suddenly, at around 10pm or 10:30pm, the skies filled up to a saturation point with thousands of 8” by 11” sheets of paper coming down from the top of the embassy building.
As the papers made their way down slowly onto the pavement, the crowd and I included were first under the impression that the revolutionaries were sending us a photocopied political statement of some sort.
We caught the papers and examined them. It took hundreds of people a few minutes of sorting through them before we realised that we were looking at Israeli Embassy records in Arabic, Hebrew and English.
It began to slowly dawn on us that the people upstairs in the building managed to actually break into the embassy. At this moment the crowd went wild and started pushing and shoving to catch whatever papers were coming down from the heavens.
Those who could not catch fallen documents gathered in hundreds of small groups to read what others caught, and took pictures with mobile phones. I walked from one group of “examiners” to the other trying to look at as many documents as possible.
There were records of phone deals between major Egyptian private and public telecommunications firms and Israel. I also saw documents that listed names of business transactions between the embassy and all sorts of Egyptian authorities, from customs officials to CEOs of tourism firms, bringing Israeli travelers to Egypt, and on and on.
Much of the confetti that was dropping on us dated back to the 1990s and even the 1980s, as its typeset indicated.
The revolutionaries upstairs sent at least six or seven separate sets of documents on us every 10 minutes or so for a whole hour. TV cameras hustled to interview dozens of people with documents that they believed showed the depth of the embassy’s penetration into the economic and political scene in Egypt.
I decided to walk around the corner to check on the CSF situation and buy a cup of tea from a street vendor.
The vendor offered me a free tea and asked me in a semi-begging tone to bring him, in return, an “Israeli paper” because he could not walk away from his stand.
I said I would do my best but I had no intention of going back to fight with tens of people, literally, over every document falling from the 21st floor.
At this point I lucked out as a “journalist”, you could say. A man in his early 20s, wearing a sleeveless T-shirt, and drowned in sweat asked me for a cigarette. He listened to the conversation people were having about the documents and announced to us in a matter of fact manner that he had just come down from the 22nd floor.
He said that it took over two hours for a group made up of dozens of revolutionaries using hammers to demolish the walls and steel entrances to the embassy floor. I asked him to describe to me what the embassy looked like on the inside as a way of vetting the authenticity of his story. Instead, he pulled out a stack of 10 or so plastic-laminated Israeli embassy employee identification cards, with what appeared to be pictures and names of locals who worked in the compound, and said: “See this. That proves I was one of those who stormed the enemy’s house.”
Around midnight or so, as thousands were still poring over the documents, battles erupted in a few seconds between a group of protesters and CSF units around the Giza Security Directorate headquarters yards away.
In less than 10 minutes, smoke from tens of tear gas bombs and sounds of bullets filled the air and ended the festive atmosphere. Egypt’s Berlin Wall moment did not last more than a few hours.
Long standing hatred between Egypt’s still intact and widely despised CSF and Cairo’s revolutionaries and poor ushered into one long bloody night of street fighting.
The night of 9 September will go down as the bloodiest few hours that Egypt witnessed since Mubarak’s police rained hell on peaceful protesters on 28 January, three days after the outbreak of this unfinished revolution.
The Israeli army demolished three dwellings and a bathroom in the Palestinian village of Umm al Kheer early in the morning of 8 September 2011. According to UN field workers at the sight, the demolitions left eight adults and sixteen children homeless.
The Israeli army and the District Coordinating Office arrived at the village of Umm al Kheer around 7:00 a.m. and declared it a closed military zone, preventing Palestinians and internationals from entering the area. The army then used a backhoe and a bulldozer to demolish the three homes and the bathroom. According to villagers, one of the destroyed homes was a tent donated by Oxfam. The other two were metal shacks purchased and built by the residents. The villagers said that this was the second time that the military demolished the homes of the families living in the metal shacks.
All of the destroyed structures had existing demolition orders, but according to people from the village, the military arrived with a demolition order that was not for the three homes and the toilet, but rather for a taboun oven in the village. The military originally wanted to destroy the taboun oven three days earlier, but a lawyer representing the village succeeded in getting a two-day stay on the demolition order. The military did not demolish the taboun oven.
Villagers said that in addition to the four structures demolished on 8 September, there are twelve additional structures with demolition orders, eight of which are homes.
“This [has been] done many times here in Umm al Kheer, and it’s catastrophic,” said a resident of the village who, due to fear of retribution from the Israeli government, wished to be referred to only as Suleiman. “The toilet, it doesn’t make problems for Israeli security, the tent does not make problems for Israeli security, and neither does this house, in which, inside, live twelve kids. How will these kids live? How will these kids sleep tonight? How can we explain the truth to these kids? Maybe these kids will grow up with fear. They must think about that.”
Umm Al Kheer is a Bedouin village in C area (under Israeli civil and military administration) built in the 1950s. It borders the Israeli settlement of Karmel (considered illegal under international law) established from the 1980s. The village routinely experiences harassment from the Israeli military and Israeli settlers.
The demolition is part of a clear strategy to push the Bedouins away from the area around the settlement. In October 2008, the Israeli army demolished ten house-tents in order to clear the area for expansion of the Karmel settlement. The demolitions left sixty people homeless. In July 2009, some toilets were destroyed too, because the Israeli Civil Administration considered them illegal.
Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.
The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.
Winston Smith, Ministry of Truth, Oceania
And so it begins.
The compulsory veneration of the seminal event 10 years ago that gave us our national security state will dominate our media and be pounded into our consciousness. In newspapers, on TV and on radio we will be assaulted by endless replays of the World Trade Centre collapse, interviews with survivors or bereaved relatives, stories of pain and suffering, heroic portrayals of rescuers, and moralizing about the need to defend our freedoms.
We will have drummed into us, subtly and not so subtly, the official story of how the U.S. was attacked by Muslim terrorists, and why we citizens must, for our own safety, willingly accept sacrifices to our civil liberties, the evisceration of the rule of law, the deaths of our soldiers in needless aggressions, and the mutation of our civilian police from law enforcers to law breakers.
There will be no proper context, factual analysis or intelligent debate because the commemoration is designed to impose obedience to authority, not foster understanding. If this sounds too bizarre for words, it shouldn’t; history is full of events that become moralized and take on a life of their own. The WTC attack, like the Crucifixion and the Holocaust™, is just another moralized historical event around which a moral absolutism is built. That absolutism engenders its own political authority to propagate the core belief and coerce public obedience to it. Those who reject the manufactured reality to seek the truth, suffer ostracism, slander, torture or even death. Truth is the enemy of the state.
In each of these three examples, a prominent death has been exploited to coerce public obedience to a political authority. The Christian Church uses the icon of the crucified, and then risen, Jesus to compel Christians into self-identify with it accepting that Jesus died for them.
But why would Jesus go out of his way to be tortured and put to death in such a gruesome manner? That question cannot be discussed freely because it invites alternate theories about Jesus’ nature and motives, many of which are contained in the gnostic gospels.
Imposing belief in the literal truth of the Crucifixion and Resurrection had nothing to do with Jesus, but everything to do with the Church, whose political authority is based not on the history of Jesus but on the myth of Jesus. Since a myth cannot withstand scrutiny because it has no rational foundation, so the Church can only defend its power by waging war on free belief and massacring its critics, even heterodox Christians.
The Zionism Church (a.k.a. Israel and The Lobby) exploits Hitler’s persecution of Jews to sermonize about Jewish victimhood. The emotional blackmail of Jewish suffering includes the mantra of 6 million dead, gas chambers, Western guilt for not saving Jews, and the belief that Jews need a “homeland” to be free from persecution.
But are not Jews today persecuting Palestinians, and do not Palestinians deserve a homeland for the same reason? Can’t ask that question! If you doubt or in anyway weaken the canonical verities of the 6 million dead, the gas chambers, and the need for Israel you’re not only a heretic but an “anti-Semite,” and deserving of whatever persecution or violence that is inflicted on you. Israel is based on myths, not fact, and the fear of having those myths uncovered lies behind the Zionist persecution of free belief [or even examination] and Palestinian rights.
The Terrorism Church (a.k.a. Project for the New American Century) has exploited the WTC attack to instill in us the myth that Muslim terrorists flew hijacked aircraft into the WTC and Pentagon, killing thousands of innocent Americans. The need to defend the U.S. from subsequent attacks made necessary the USA PATRIOT Act, which superseded the Constitution, and gave us our security-obsessed state.
But if Muslims in aircraft did all that, what explains all those explosions in the buildings below the level of impact, and the inability of a steel-framed structure to withstand a simple fire the way WTC1 did on Feb. 14, 1975? For that matter why would Muslims commit an act of violence knowing full well what the retribution would be? Way out of bounds! Any question about what happened and who was responsible invites analyses of the official absurdity, which the public is supposed to accept as holy writ. We can’t have a police-state if we don’t fear Muslims, and if we don’t fear Muslims, we need to ask who else could have planned and carried out the attack. That leads us to Israeli involvement, which is verboten.
The ability to believe an absurdity is easy if you accept the given zero-sum frame of reference between good and evil. If the absurdity is presented as “good,” then criticisms can be neatly compartmentalized and dismissed as “evil.” When George W. Bush said the Muslims attacked because they hate American freedoms, he reduced these alleged hijackers to evil stereotypes.
When a person or cause is stigmatized as evil, defence becomes impossible. This is why otherwise intelligent people cry “conspiracy theory” when faced with facts about the absurdity of the WTC narrative. To listen to a dissenting opinion would amount to respecting the devil. To foster this image, these “churches” promote hatred of the “other”: Jews killed Jesus; Nazis killed Jews; and Muslims attacked the WTC. (Though Nazis did kill Jews, this good/evil dogma does not recognize the Zionist Jews who helped run the concentration camps and prop up the Nazi regime.)
Without a convenient scapegoat for people to vent their hatred, and without the image of the state as society’s saviour, belief in the absurdity will collapse. It is here we see how official demonization of “terrorist” Muslims is similar to the daily “Two Minutes Hate” orgy in George Orwell’s 1984. The object of the hate is Emmanuel Goldstein, the number one “enemy of the people.” Goldstein was never proven to be a real person, but the daily hate hurled at his image reinforced public loyalty and dependence to the state security apparatus.
As you read this except from 1984, note how Orwell’s depiction of Goldstein as a contrived object of hatred closely resembles our depiction of Osama bin Laden:
Somewhere or other he was still alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea, under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even—so it was occasionally rumoured—in some hiding-place in Oceania itself…. What was strange was that although Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers, in books, his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were in spite of all this, his influence never seemed to grow less. Always there were fresh dupes waiting to be seduced by him. A day never passed when spies and saboteurs acting under his directions were not unmasked by the Thought Police. He was the commander of a vast shadowy army, an underground network of conspirators dedicated to the overthrow of the State.
As if on cue, Israel’s Canadian satrap Stephen Harper gave official sanction to hatred of Muslims in an interview with the CBC. After Sept. 11, 2001, he said the major threat to Canada was still “Islamicism”—a nonsense propaganda term meant to incite public hatred of Muslims and sympathy for the state. To emphasize the point, Harper claimed that Canada even had “homegrown” Islamic radicals, necessitating a return to arbitrary police-state powers to execute warrantless arrests and coerce testimony from witnesses. According to the CBC, neither the police or prosecutors had a reason to make use of these powers, but now we’re supposed to believe they do have a reason?
“WTC Victim–Hate Week” reaches its nauseating crescendo on Sunday, but unlike Oceania, Canada has no law to compel citizens to take part. It is therefore the duty of every rational human being not to participate in this orgy of fraud. Wherever you find yourself: Turn off. Tune out. Unplug. Disbelieve.
Greg Felton is an investigative journalist specializing in the Middle East, Canadian politics, the media, and language. He holds a Master’s Degree in political science from the University of British Columbia and speaks French, Russian, and Mandarin. He is author of The Host and The Parasite: How Israel’s Fifth Column Consumed America.
Americans are frustrated, angry and disappointed in the political leadership of our country. We are enduring one crisis after another: housing, war, jobs, budget, debt and deficit. We are also shouldering our own personal and professional crises. We are governed by political ideologies that are inflexible, uncompromising and that ignore the long-term well-being of our country.
Yet, with all of these pressing and unrelenting national challenges, a record 81 House members, about a fifth of the chamber, spent a week in Israel last month, courtesy of a foundation set up by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest pro-Israel lobby group in the US.
As a participant in the Interfaith Peace-Builders’ African Heritage Delegation to Israel/Palestine, who recently returned from a two-week fact-finding study tour, I can attest that Israelis have their own urgent and pressing issues to deal with: ongoing maintenance of the 63-year-old occupation (yes, it dates to the 1948 ethnic cleansing of approximately 750,000 Palestinians), expensive and unjust military rule over the Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, seized in 1967, massive Israeli youth protests regarding the rising cost of housing, food, and gas, and the ongoing oppression of Jews of color and Palestinians citizens of Israel.
Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., one of the Democrats who visited Israel, said that he was looking forward to learning about Israel’s business and commercial sectors as well as the latest tools and technology the country is using to fight terror, but what did he really see? I doubt he saw and experienced what the 14 members of the African Heritage Delegation witnessed.
More than likely, his delegation saw and experienced the beauty and opulence of Tel Aviv. They enjoyed the finest of foods and perhaps sampled wines from the colonized Golan Heights. They probably witnessed well-orchestrated military exercises and political speeches. I suspect they did not hear, as we did, from Palestinians who are displaced from their homes, whose lands, farms and olive trees have been confiscated or from the mothers who worry about their sons being bullied, abused and imprisoned by the Israeli police using the most technologically advanced counterinsurgency practices.
I’m sure they did not see, as my delegation did, the rationing of water to Palestinians, the daily blackouts of electricity or the lack of health care services to the elderly or those suffering from post-traumatic occupation stress syndrome. No doubt, they did not meet Palestinians, as we did, in Hebron who live each day under the assault of angry, militant Jewish settlers.
Democracy means more than voting rights
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who led one of two Republican delegations, stated, “I am pleased to be bringing so many of our new Members of Congress to Israel so that they can learn firsthand about Israel and the important role our key ally plays in the Middle East. The United States and Israel share similar core values of democracy, human rights and a strong national defense.”
Yet Israel is not living up to the definition of a democracy. Israel has dominated Palestinians for 63 years while illegally occupying the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza for the past 44 years. It routinely denies full participation of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Inside Israel, it is well documented that Jews of color (Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews), African Palestinians and non-Jewish residents are treated as second- and third-class citizens with diminished human and civil rights. Democracy means more than voting rights for Palestinian citizens. There must be equality under the law, yet that is significantly absent in Israel and dramatically lacking in how Israel administers the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
There is simply too much at stake in America for our congressional members to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders without the complete picture of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The situation is vastly different from the one Israel’s prime minister depicted recently to Congress.
What if we stopped the $3 billion in aid?
What if we stopped the $3 billion in aid we give to Israel annually and used the savings to create a national jobs-deficit reduction program? Our African Heritage Delegation believes, as many Americans do, that we need a jobs growth and deficit reduction program here at home now. This is the time to reallocate financial resources to American families and communities and to fix our obsolete, dilapidated infrastructure.
The two-tier system of law Israel has established in the occupied West Bank, documented by Human Rights Watch, recalls the Jim Crow laws of the American South and the discriminatory practices of apartheid South Africa. Our members of Congress should loudly reject such discrimination. And they should spend more time with constituents in dire need of their leadership as well as modeling democratic values in their respective congressional districts.
Rev. Carolyn L. Boyd lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
Merida – On Thursday the Venezuelan government “strongly rejected” a U.S. Treasury Department decision to sanction four members of the country’s political and military establishment, calling the move “another expression of the imperial and arrogant character by which these institutions act against our countries.” The declaration came in response to the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that placed four Venezuelan nationals on an updated list of “Specially Designated Nationals” accused of arming leftist guerrillas in neighboring Colombia.
The four men “sanctioned” by the U.S. Treasury Department are socialist lawmaker and former Caracas mayor Freddy Bernal, Latin American assemblyman Amilcar Figueroa, Army General Cliver Alcala, and intelligence office Ramon Isidro Madriz Moreno.
According to a U.S. Treasury press release, the four have acted “for or on behalf of the narco-terrorist organization the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), often in direct support of its narcotics and arms trafficking activities.”
The men join three other high-ranking Venezuelan officials already on the U.S. list: General Henry Rangel Silva, General Hugo Carvajal, and former interior minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin.
While no concrete evidence was provided to demonstrate the men’s “support” for the Colombian guerrillas, the U.S. decision prohibits U.S. citizens from “engaging in transactions” with the men and places a freeze on “any assets that they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.”
In response to the OFAC decision, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro called the United States a “sick society” that is responsible for “this sickness of narco-trafficking.” He accused the U.S. of attempting to serve as “a kind of global police to judge decent citizens of our country” and called the move “abusive.”
Venezuela’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs later issued a public statement in which it affirmed the “sanctions” are “part of the permanent defamatory campaigns orchestrated in the imperial power centers of the United States, precisely aimed at nourishing hostile policies against our homeland.”
Responding to the U.S. decision, sanctioned PSUV lawmaker Freddy Bernal called the move an “attack on the homeland” that was aimed at harming the “process underway” in Venezuela that seeks “liberation through socialism.”
Bernal said he was “proud” of the U.S. classification, since Bolivian President Evo Morales and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa had received similar accusations, and told reporters he “could care less about the U.S. government” since he had no foreign bank accounts, properties abroad, and had no interest in visiting the United States in the near future.
With respect to all four men sanctioned, Bernal said the U.S. was looking to “disqualify those of us who have been the most loyal soldiers (to Chavez) and who have taken on the consequences associated to a Bolivarian loyalty and dignity.”
“The objective of the U.S. Empire,” said Bernal, “is to create the conditions to attack Venezuela and justify doing so with these lies.”
In recent years, the U.S. and Colombian governments have repeatedly accused the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of supporting the FARC insurgency in its decades-long war against the Colombian government. During the presidency of Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe (2002 – 2010), accusations by Uribe led Venezuela’s Chavez to increase his country’s military presence along the border with Colombia in “defensive preparation” for war with Colombia.
In 2008, after the Colombian military carried out an armed raid against FARC rebels hidden in Ecuadorian territory, relations worsened.
After the raid, the Colombian government said it had “uncovered” numerous documents on the laptop computer of assassinated FARC Commander Raul Reyes, document they said proved Venezuela’s support for the armed insurgency.
More commonly referred to as the “FARC Files,” these documents were later found “inadmissible” by the Colombian Supreme Court which said it could not be certain the files were not tampered with by members of the Colombian security forces.
While the U.S. Treasury Department did not provide any concrete evidence linking the four Venezuelan nations to the FARC insurgency, an article in the Washington Post suggests the accusations are based on the same “FARC Files.”
The “Specially Designated” Four
Freddy Bernal, considered a “leader” of the ruling the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), served as mayor of Caracas from 2000 to 2008. He began his political career as a member of Chavez’s Fifth Republic Movement (MVR) and was first elected to the country’s National Assembly in 1998. A year later, he was elected to the Venezuelan Constitutional Assembly, which drafted the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (1999). In April 2002, during the failed military coup against democratically-elected president Hugo Chavez, Bernal played a key role in mobilizing pro-Chavez forces against the military government installed in the Miraflores Presidential Palace.
Bernal was an outspoken supporter of the formation of the PSUV (2007) and was elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly in last year’s parliamentary elections. He currently leads government efforts to reduce gun violence in the country, including draft legislation against easy access to guns and ammunition.
Amilcar Figueroa is a Venezuelan historian, former guerrilla fighter, and active member of the PSUV’s leadership in Caracas. He was elected to represent Venezuela at the Latin American Parliament for the 2006 – 2011 period and served as the organizations Alternate President from 2006 to 2008. In 2009, a Colombian court accused Figueroa of providing support to the FARC, based on information said to have been found in the “FARC Files.”
Cliver Alcala is Major General of the Fourth Armored Division of the Venezuelan Army, one of the country’s most important army units, and Ramon Isidro Madriz Moreno is an officer of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN), Venezuela’s national intelligence agency.