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CIA Memo: Brazil’s Dictator Geisel Authorized Extrajudicial Executions

Ernesto Geisel, President of Brazil, hosts a State Dinner for Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter. March 29, 1978 | Photo: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
teleSUR | May 13, 2018

A declassified memo from the U.S. Department of State revealed that Brazilian dictator Ernesto Geisel (1974-1979) approved summary executions of “dangerous subversive” people personally, continuing with the extrajudicial methods of his predecessors.

The document was made public back in 2015, but it wasn’t until a few days ago that Matias Spektor, an international relations professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) and a columnist at Brazilian newspaper Folha, found it as part of his research work and posted it on social media, along with a picture of Geisel and Joao Baptista Figueiredo, who later became his successor.

The document narrates a meeting between President Geisel, General Milton Tavares de Souza and General Confucio Danton de Paula Avelino, respectively outgoing and incoming chiefs of the Army Intelligence Center (CIE), along with Figueiredo, who at that time was Chief of the National Intelligence Service (SNI).

“This is the most disturbing document I’ve read in 20 years of research: Just after being sworn in, Geisel authorized the continuation of the regime’s killing policies, but it requires the Army Intelligence Center previous authorization from the Planalto Palace.”

General Milton briefed Geisel about the role of the Army Intelligence Center (CIE) against “the internal subversive target” during the presidency of Emilio Garrastazu Medici, and said that “extrajudicial methods should continue to be employed against dangerous subversives.”

He also informed Geisel that about 104 people falling under this category had been executed by the CIE in the previous year. Figueiredo supported this policy and urged Geisel to continue with it.

According to the memo, Geisel “commented on the seriousness and potentially prejudicial aspects of this policy,” and said he wanted to think about it over the weekend. He decided to go along with it, but to limit the executions to “only dangerous subversives,” and required the CIE to consult Figueiredo for approval before any execution.

The entire CIE would then be under Figueiredo’s control, blurring the line between the CIE and the SNI.

“I didn’t know Geisel had given the Planalto Palace the responsibility over summary execution decision. The government’s leadership was not only aware of the executions but also ordered them. That’s impressive, unheard of,” said Spektor.

The memo was sent by William Colby, who was then Director of Central Intelligence Agency, to then U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who also played a key role in promoting military coups against democratically elected governments in Latin America, under the subject “Decision by Brazilian President Ernesto Geisel To Continue the Summary Execution of Dangerous Subversives Under Certain Conditions” and dated April 11, 1974.

First and second paragraphs of the document (7 and 12 and a half lines) are still classified.

After the documents were picked up by Spektor, the Brazilian army stated that any classified documents that could prove Colby’s allegations of the events had been destroyed as it was stipulated by the laws of that period.

May 14, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

In Latin America the Pendulum Swings to the Right

By James Petras | Axis of Logic | December 20, 2017

Introduction

Clearly the pendulum has swung to the right in the past few years. Numerous questions arise. What kind of right? How far right? How did they gain power? What is their appeal? How sustainable are the right wing regimes? Who are their international allies and adversaries? Having taken power, how have the rightist regimes performed and by what criteria is success or failure measured?

While the left has been in retreat, they still retain power in some states. Numerous questions arise. What is the nature of the left today? Why have some regimes continued while others have declined or been vanquished? Can the left recover its influence and under what conditions and with what programmatic appeal.

We will proceed by discussing the character and policies of the right and left and their direction. We will conclude by analyzing the dynamics of right and left policies, alignments and future perspectives.

Right-Radicalism: The Face of Power

The right wing regimes are driven by intent to implement structural changes: they look to reordering the nature of the state, economic and social relations and international political and economic alignments.

Radical right regimes rule in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Guatemala, Honduras and Chile.

In several countries extreme right regimes have made abrupt changes, while in others they build on incremental changes constituted over time.

The changes in Argentina and Brazil represent examples of extreme regressive transformations directed at reversing income distribution, property relations, international alignments and military strategies. The goal is to redistribute income upwardly, to re-concentrate wealth, property-ownership upward and externally and to subscribe to imperial doctrine. These pluto-populist regimes are run by rulers, who openly speak to and for very powerful domestic and overseas investors and are generous in their distribution of subsidies and state resources – a kind of ‘populism for the plutocrats’.

The rise and consolidation of extremist right regimes in Argentina and Brazil are based on several decisive interventions, combining elections and violence, purges and co-optation, mass media propaganda and deep corruption.

Mauricio Macri was backed by the major media, led by the Clarin conglomerate, as well as by the international financial press (Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.). Wall Street speculators and Washington’s overseas political apparatus subsidized his electoral campaign.

Macri, his family, cronies and financial accomplices, transferred public resources to private accounts. Provincial political bosses and their patronage operations joined forces with the wealthy financial sectors of Buenos Aires to secure votes in the Capital.

Upon his election, the Mauricio Macri regime transferred five billion dollars to the notorious Wall Street speculator, Paul Singer, signed off on multi-billion dollar, high interest loans, increased utility fees six fold, privatized oil, gas and public lands and fired tens of thousands of public sector employees.

Macri organized a political purge and arrest of opposition political leaders, including former President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner. Several provincial activists were jailed or even assassinated.

Macri is a success story from the perspective of Wall Street, Washington and the Porteño business elite. Wages and salaries have declined for Argentine workers. Utility companies secured their highest profits ever. Bankers doubled interest rate returns. Importers became millionaires. Agro-business incomes skyrocketed as their taxes were reduced.

From the perspective of Argentina’s small and medium business enterprises President Macri’s regime has been a disaster: Many thousands have gone bankrupt because of high utility costs and harsh competition from cheap Chinese imports. In addition to the drop in wages and salaries, unemployment and under employment doubled and the rate of extreme poverty tripled

The economy, as a whole, floundered. Debt financing failed to promote growth, productivity, innovation and exports. Foreign investment experienced easy entry, big profits and fast departure. The promise of prosperity was narrowly based around a quarter of the population. To weaken the expected public discontent – the regime shut down independent media voices, unleashed thugs against critics and co-opted pliable gangster trade union bosses to break strikes.

Public protests and strikes multiplied but were ignored and repressed. Popular leaders and activists are stigmatized by the Macri-financed media hacks.

Barring a major social upheaval or economic collapse, Macri will exploit the fragmentation of the opposition to secure re-election as a model gangster for Wall Street. Macri is prepared to sign off on US military bases, EU free trade agreements, and greater police liaison with Israel’s sinister secret police, Mossad.

Brazil has followed Macri’s far right policies.

Seizing power through a phony impeachment operation, the mega-swindler Michel Temer immediately proceeded to dismantle the entire public sector, freeze salaries for twenty years, and extend retirement age for pensioners by five to ten years. Temer led over a thousand bribe-taking elected officials in the multi-billion dollar pillage of the state oil company and every major public infrastructure project.

Coup, corruption and contempt were hidden by a system granting Congressional impunity until independent prosecutors investigated, charged and jailed several dozen politicians, but not Temer. Despite 95% public disapproval, President Temer remains in power with the total backing of Wall Street, the Pentagon and Sao Paolo bankers.

Mexico, the long-standing narco-assassin state, continues to elect one thieving PRI-PAN political regime after another. Billions in illicit profits flows to the overseas tax havens of money laundering bankers, US and Canadian mine owners. Mexican and international manufacturers extracted double digit profits sent, to overseas accounts and tax havens. Mexico broke its own miserable record in elite tax avoidance, while extending low wage-tax ‘free trade zones’. Millions of Mexicans have fled across the border to escape predatory gangster capitalism. The flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of profits by US and Canadian multi-nationals was a result of the ‘unequal exchange’ between US capital and Mexican labor, held in place by Mexico’s fraudulent electoral system.

In at least two well-known presidential elections in 1988 and 2006, left of center candidates, Cuahtemoc Cardenas and Manuel Lopez Obrador, won with healthy margins of victory, only to have their victories stolen by fraudulent vote counts.

Peru’s rightist mining regimes, alternated between the overtly bloody Fujimori dictatorship and corrupt electoral regimes. What is consistent in Peruvian politics is the handover of mineral resources to foreign capital, pervasive corruption and the brutal exploitation of natural resources by US and Canadian mining and drilling corporations in regions inhabited by Indian communities.

The extreme right ousted elected left-of-center governments, including President Fernando Lugo in Paraguay (2008-2012) and Manuel Zelaya in Honduras (2006-2009), with the active support and approval of the US State Department. Narco-presidents now wield power by means of repression, including violence against popular movements and the killing of scores of peasant and urban activists. This year, a grossly rigged election in Honduras ensured the continuity of narco-regimes and US military bases.

The spread of the extreme right from Central America and Mexico to the Southern Cone provides the groundwork for the re-assertion of US centered military alliances and regional trade pacts.

The rise of the extreme right ensures the most lucrative privatizations and the highest rates of return on overseas bank loans. The far right is quick to crack down on popular dissent and electoral challenges with violence. At most the far right allows a few rotating elites with nationalist pretensions to provide a façade of electoral democracy.

The Shift from the Center-Left to the Center-Right

The political swings to the far right have had profound ripple effects – as nominal center-left regimes have swung to the center-right.

Two regimes have moved decisively from the center-left to the center-right: Uruguay under Tabare Vazquez of the ‘Broad Front’ and Ecuador with the recent election of Lenin Moreno of PAIS Alliance. In both cases the groundwork was established via accommodations with oligarchs of the traditional right parties. The previous center-left regimes of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica succeeded in pushing for public investments and social reforms. They combined their leftist rhetoric while capitalizing on the global high prices and high demand for agro-mineral exports to finance their reforms. With the decline in world prices and the public exposure of corruption, the newly elected center-left parties nominated and elected center –right candidates who turned anti-corruption campaigns into vehicles for embracing neoliberal economic policies. The center-right presidents rejected economic nationalism, encouraged large scale foreign investment and implemented fiscal austerity programs appealing to the upper middle class and ruling class.

The center-right regimes marginalized the leftist sectors of their parties. In the case of Ecuador, they split the party, with the newly elected president realigning international policies away from the left (Bolivia, Venezuela) and toward the US and the far right– while shedding the legacy of their predecessor in terms of popular social programs.

With the decline in export prices the center-right regimes offered generous subsidies to foreign investors in agriculture and forestry in Uruguay, and mine owners and exporters in Ecuador.

The newly converted center-right regimes joined with their established counterparts in Chile and joined the Trans Pacific Partnership with Asian nations, the EU and the US.

The center-right sought to manipulate the social rhetoric of the previous center-left regimes in order to retain popular voters while securing support from the business elite.

The Left Moves to the Center Left

Bolivia, under Evo Morales, has demonstrated an exceptional capacity for sustaining growth, securing re-election and neutralizing the opposition by combining a radical left foreign policy with a moderate, mixed public-private export economy. While Bolivia condemns US imperialism, major oil, gas, metals and lithium multi-nationals have invested heavily in Bolivia. Evo Morales has moderated his ideological posture shifting from revolutionary socialism to a local version of liberal democratic cultural politics.

Evo Morales’ embrace of a mixed economy has neutralized any overt hostility from the US and the new far-right regimes in the region

Though remaining politically independent, Bolivia has integrated its exports with the far right neoliberal regimes in the region. President Evo Morales’s moderate economic policies, diversity of mineral exports, fiscal responsibility, incremental social reforms, and support from well-organized social movements has led to political stability and social continuity despite the volatility of commodity prices.

Venezuela’s left regimes under President Hugo Chavez and Maduro have followed a divergent course with harsh consequences. Totally dependent on extraordinary global oil prices, Venezuela proceeded to finance generous welfare programs at home and abroad. Under President Chavez leadership, Venezuela adopted a consequential anti-imperialist policy successfully opposing a US centered free trade agreement (LAFTA) and launching an anti-imperialist alternative, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA).

Advancing social welfare and financing overseas allies without diversifying the economy and markets and increasing production was predicated on continuous high returns on a single volatile export – oil.

Unlike Bolivia under President Evo Morales, who built his power with the support of an organized, class conscious and disciplined mass base, Venezuela counted on an amorphous electoral alliance, which included slum dwellers, defectors from the corrupt traditional parties (across the spectrum) and opportunists intent on grabbing office and perks. Political education was reduced to mouthing slogans, cheering the President and distributing consumer goods.

Venezuelan technocrats and political loyalists occupied highly lucrative positions, especially in the petroleum sector and were not held to account by workers’ councils or competent state auditors. Corruption was rampant and billions of dollars of oil wealth was stolen. This pillage was tolerated because of the huge influx of petro-dollars due to historic high prices and high demand. This led to a bizarre situation where the regime spoke of socialism and funded massive social programs, while the major banks, food distributors, importers and transportation operators were controlled by hostile private oligarchs who pocketed enormous profits while manufacturing shortages and promoting inflation. Despite the problems, the Venezuelan voters gave the regime a series of electoral victories over the US proxies and oligarch politicians. This tended to create overconfidence in the regime that the Bolivarian socialist model was irrevocable.

The precipitous drop of oil prices, global demand, and export earnings led to the decline of imports and consumption. Unlike Bolivia, foreign reserves declined, the rampant theft of billions was belatedly uncovered and the US-backed rightwing opposition returned to violent ‘direct action’ and sabotage while hoarding essential food, consumer goods and medicine. Shortages led to widespread black marketeering. Public sector corruption and hostile opposition control of the private banking, retail and industrial sectors, backed by the US, paralyzed the economy. The economy has been in a free-fall and electoral support has eroded. Despite the regime’s severe problems, the majority of low income voters correctly understood that their chances of surviving under the US-backed oligarchic opposition would be worse and the embattled left continued to win gubernatorial and municipal elections up through 2017.

Venezuela’s economic vulnerability and negative growth rate led to increased indebtedness. The opposition of the extreme right regimes in Latin America and Washington’s economic sanctions has intensified food shortages and increased unemployment.

In contrast, Bolivia effectively defeated US-elite coup plots between 2008-10. The Santa Cruz-based oligarchs faced the clear choice of either sharing profits and social stability by signing off on social pacts (workers/peasants, capital and state) with the Morales government or facing an alliance of the government and the militant labor movement prepared to expropriate their holdings. The elites chose economic collaboration while pursuing low intensity electoral opposition.

Conclusion

Left opposition is in retreat from state power. Opposition to the extreme right is likely to grow, given the harsh, uncompromising assault on income, pensions, the rise in the cost of living, severe reductions in social programs and attacks on private and public sector employment. The extreme right has several options, none of which offer any concessions to the left. They have chosen to heighten police state measures (the Macri solution); they attempt to fragment the opposition by negotiating with the opportunist trade union and political party bosses; and they reshuffle degraded rulers with new faces to continue policies (the Brazilian solution).

The formerly revolutionary left parties, movements and leaders have evolved toward electoral politics, protests and job action. So far they do not represent an effective political option at the national level

The center-left, especially in Brazil and Ecuador, is in a strong position with dynamic political leaders (Lula DaSilva and Correa) but face trumped up charges by right-wing prosecutors who intend to exclude them from running for office. Unless the center-left reformers engage in prolonged large-scale mass activity, the far right will effectively undermine their political recovery.

The US imperial state has temporarily regained proxy regimes, military allies and economic resources and markets. China and the European Union profit from optimal economic conditions offered by the far right regimes. The US military program has effectively neutralized the radical opposition in Colombia, and the Trump regime has intensified and imposed new sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba.

The Trump regime’s ‘triumphalist’ celebration is premature – no decisive strategic victory has taken place, despite important short term advances in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. However large outflows of profits, major transfers of ownership to foreign investors, favorable tax rates, low tariff and trade policies have yet to generate new productive facilities, sustainable growth and to ensure economic fundamentals. Maximizing profits and ignoring investments in productivity and innovation to promote domestic markets and demand has bankrupted tens of thousands of medium and small local commercial and manufacturing firms. This has led to rising chronic unemployment and underemployment. Marginalization and social polarization without political leadership is growing. Such conditions led to ‘spontaneous’ uprisings in Argentina 2001, Ecuador 2000 and Bolivia 2005.

The far right in power may not evoke a rebellion of the far left but its policies can certainly undermine the stability and continuity of the current regimes. At a minimum, it can lead to some version of the center left and restoration of the welfare and employment regimes now in tatters.

In the meantime the far right will press ahead with their perverse agenda combining deep reversals of social welfare, the degradation of national sovereignty and economic stagnation with a formidable profit maximizing performance.

James Petras’s most recent book: 
THE END OF THE REPUBLIC AND THE DELUSION OF EMPIRE

December 20, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering Brazil’s Leftist President João Goulart on Anniversary of His Death

João Vicente Goulart holds a portrait of himself, his father, João Goulart, and his sister, Denize. | Photo: João Vicente Goulart
By Edu Montesanti | teleSUR | December 6, 2017

“Jango was my best friend, a great partner, and the best father to my children. It is still hard to forget,” Jango’s widow, Maria Theresa Goulart told teleSUR.

On Dec. 6, 1976, former Brazilian President João Goulart, popularly known as “Jango,” passed away at 57 years old in his exile with family in Mercedes, Argentina. Officially, he died of a cardiac attack, but evidence points to poisoning.

“There are still some available tissue samples at the Federal Police Criminal Institute of Brazil for a new investigation, as new evidence is expected if we can have more documents declassified and testimonies that would bring new information,” João Vicente Goulart, Jango’s son told teleSUR.

“In the first results analyzed, a substance appeared in tiny amounts which should not be in a human body, called pentaerythritol tetranitrate or erythrin tetranitrate, also known as pentrite,” said Goulart. “It is a chemical with characteristics and end of explosives that, at the time, was only controlled as an exclusive weapon used by the American army,” added Jango’s son, pointing out that secret agents used to infiltrate the family’s house in exile.

“It has been proven that spies removed my father’s documents, they could have easily changed his heart medicine for a poison.”

Jango speaks to a large crowd accompanied by his wife, Maria Theresa Goulart. Photo: João Vicente Goulart

Jango’s body did not undergo an autopsy at the time of his death. His body was buried in São Borja, Brazil, after the assurance that the coffin would not be opened. According to Goulart, “There was severe military repression at my father’s funeral.” There were military officials everywhere, monitoring Jango’s coffin so it could not be opened. In 2006, Mario Neira, a former Uruguayan secret agent, told Goulart that his father had been poisoned.

Overthrown from the Brazilian presidency by a military coup d’état on April 1, 1964, the democratically-elected João Goulart, with more than 70 percent of an approval rating, was exiled three days later with family to Uruguay. In 1973, President Juan Domingo Peron welcomed him. The Goularts were constantly threatened in exile, so the son, João Vicente and Denize, the Goularts’ daughter, left to study in London. Some friends warned former president Jango several times, that he could be killed.

On March 13, 1964, 18 days before the coup, President João Goulart gave a speech to more than 200,000 people in Central do Brasil square in Rio de Janeiro, with his wife Maria Theresa Goulart beside him, for the first time since assuming the presidency. He promised an agrarian reform, reducing remittances of profits overseas, extending democratic rights, along with other very popular reforms.

“Goulart committed the crime of reforming the economy. That was more than (U.S. President) Lyndon Johnson could tolerate and he opted to destabilize the economy and assist a right-wing military takeover,” said the U.S. historian Peter Kuznick to teleSUR.

“The 1964 coup that toppled Goulart’s government was extremely significant,” added Kuznick. “Oliver Stone and I began our documentary about the invasion of Vietnam with a discussion of that coup. We then talk about the Dominican Republic, Greece, Indonesia, and Chile to show that the Vietnam War was part of a pattern.

“A National Intelligence Estimate in the summer of 1963 had warned that Goulart might be establishing ‘an extreme leftist regime, with a strongly anti-U.S. character.’ Johnson’s appointment in December of Thomas Mann as assistant secretary of state to coordinate Latin American affairs was another nail in the Goulart government’s coffin.

“When Goulart responded the next year to U.S. demands to impose austerity on the Brazilian people by instead offering land reform and control of foreign capital and by recognizing Cuba, the U.S. moved quickly to destabilize the economy. Goulart seized U.S. properties.

“Ambassador Lincoln Gordon and U.S. embassy officials urged right-wing Brazilian officers to overthrow Goulart. The U.S. backed Army Chief of Staff General Humberto Castelo Branco. The CIA assisted behind the scenes,” observed Kuznick, who is the director of the Institute of Nuclear Studies at the American University.

The Brazilian historian Victor Schincariol told teleSUR that in order to preserve national peace and people’s security, President Jango didn’t call for a military intervention to protect him. “Goulart was genuinely committed to democracy and social peace. He said that he could not tolerate the death of Brazilians in a virtual civil war.

“At the same time, he knew that the U.S. would support the right-wing forces, which would make the case for the defense of democracy very hard indeed to win,” added the Brazilian researcher at the University of ABC in São Paulo.

On Dec. 18, in the presence of the heads of the military and President Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian Congress symbolically returned President João Goulart’s mandate, as the OAS exhorted Brazil in 2010 for the crimes against humanity never punished, committed by the military dictatorship that killed 475 people, left 144 “disappeared,” and tortured more than 30,000 people.

There is an Amnesty Act in Brazil, elaborated and passed in 1979 by Brazilian military officials themselves — never addressed in the country by politicians, mainstream media and local elites — that acquits the dictators of the crimes committed between 1964 and 1985.

“Goulart’s and Varga’s legacy was erased, physically and ideologically, by the military dictatorship between 1964-1985. The economy was “globalized;” the case for an industrialization with national capitals, social justice and national independence was substituted by dependence, fascist policies and censorship; the democratic and left-wing forces were imprisoned, killed or left the nation,” said Professor Doctor Schincariol.

“The most important legacy Jango left to Brazil was his tireless fight for workers’ right and social justice,” Jango’s widow, Maria Theresa Goulart told teleSUR. “And for us, his family, his generosity and partnership.”

December 6, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

‘We need negotiations, not declarations’: Russia stays away from Trump’s UN reform plan

RT | September 18, 2017

As US President Donald Trump officially launched his 10-point reform program for the United Nations, Russian officials say they share many of the concerns it raises, but not the methods Washington is using to advance its solutions.

On Monday morning in New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Trump delivered speeches in support of the reform declaration, which has been endorsed by 128 states.

According to the published text of the plan, it would give Guterres greater executive powers “encouraging him to lead organizational reform,” which would “provide greater transparency and predictability” and “promote gender parity and geographic diversity,” while combating “mandate duplication, redundancy, and overlap” and other forms of inefficiency at the international body.

“In recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement. While the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 percent, and its staff has more than doubled since 2000, we are not seeing the results in line with this investment,” said Trump, who previously emphasized that the US is the biggest contributor to United Nations funds.

“To serve the people we support and the people who support us, we must be nimble and effective, flexible and efficient,” declared Guterres, the former Prime Minister of Portugal, who assumed his current post this year.

Countries that were hesitant or unwilling to sign the document – which include Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa – were not invited to the launch.

“There was no consultation either prior or following the publication of the declaration,” said Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s envoy to the UN, in an interview with TASS news agency, published Monday. “We are all for increasing the role of the UN on the international arena, and raising its efficiency. The organization needs reform, even if not a fundamental overhaul. But the reform itself should not come through a declaration, but through inter-governmental negotiations between members.”

State-owned daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta cited officials in the Russian delegation in New York, who criticized the US for hijacking the ongoing UN General Assembly for its own purposes, noting that the declaration “had nothing to do with the United Nations” and that Washington “has developed a bad habit of using the UN building during General Assemblies to push its own foreign policy agenda.”

Some were altogether suspicious of Trump’s motives, considering his previously dismissive attitude to the UN.

“Trump’s reform is a landmark move towards a unipolar world, and the reduction of the role of the UN in the international architecture that is forming in the 21st century. We are not ready to support or participate in this process,” Leonid Slutsky, the Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs in the Russian parliament, told RIA news agency.

“The US should start not with behind-the-scenes coalition-forming,” wrote Konstantin Kosachev, who heads in the Foreign Affairs Committee in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, on his Facebook page. “Instead, it should begin by acknowledging its mistakes, when it bypassed the UN in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria.”

September 18, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Fall Offensive: the US, France and Brazil

By James Petras | The People’s Voice | September 13, 2017

The fall of 2017 will witness the most brutal assault on working and middle class living standards since the end of World War II. Three presidents and their congressional allies will ‘revise’ labor legislation, progressive income tax laws and regulations and effectively end the mixed economy in France, the US and Brazil.

Throughout the summer, public opinion has been diverted by US threats to launch new overseas wars, France’s rhetoric about forming a post-Brexit, Berlin-Paris pact, which will remake the European Union, and Brazil’s President Michel Temer’s corruption and crime scandals. These superficial controversies will be overwhelmed by fundamental class conflicts, which promise to alter the present and future structural relations within Western capitalism.

President Trump’s Fall Offensive: Profits, Wars and Epidemics

President Trump proposes to enrich capitalists and intensify class inequalities via his radical transformation of the tax system. Corporate taxes will be cut in half; overseas corporate taxes will be abolished; and wage and salaried workers will pay more for fewer social benefits.

Trump can count on the support of the Republican leadership, business and banking elite and sectors of the Democratic Party in his plans to roll out a massive tax giveaway for the billionaires.

Trump’s cabinet, led by the Goldman Sachs trio and his troika of generals will ensure that the budget will include slashing the funds for education and health in order to increase military spending, expand wars and cut taxes for the rich.

Even more aggressive threats against North Korea, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and China, greater overseas war spending and troop levels in Afghanistan and the overt militarization of policing, immigration control and domestic intelligence will result in drastic cutbacks on federal programs for the poor and working classes. Declining access to quality health care for workers and deterioration in workplace safety conditions will fuel the opioid addiction epidemic leading to hundreds of thousands more premature worker deaths by overdose, injury and inadequate, incompetent care.

President Emmanuel Macron: The Capitalist Offensive in France

In France, the workers and middle class face the most comprehensive attack on their employment rights and progressive social legislation in modern history.

President Emmanuel Macron has declared his goal of completely transferring socio-economic power from French workers to capital by gutting all pro-labor laws and protections. Employees will have to negotiate with their bosses, one plant and one office at a time, thereby undermining the collective bargaining power of a united working class. Employers will be free to hire and fire workers with virtually no restrictions or consequences. Temporary and short-term ‘garbage’ contracts will proliferate, destroying long-term worker stability. Macron will eliminate the jobs of over 100,000 public employees while slashing corporate taxes by over $50 billion euros.

In contrast to massive tax cuts for the bourgeoisie, Macron proposes to increase taxes on French pensioners, hitting millions of retirees. Once in place, Macron’s legislative agenda will concentrate power, profits and wealth of capital while increasing inequalities and class polarization. Responding to the economic interests of the bankers, Macron promises to lower the deficit to 3% of GDP through massive cuts in health and education.

Under the pretext of ‘reducing unemployment’, Macron will promote part-time and temporary employment for French youth and immigrant workers, stripping all French workers of their hard-fought gains in job security and labor rights. Macron justifies his assault on labor by dismissing workers as ‘lazy’.

Brazil: The Great Fire Sale

Michel Temer, Brazil’s ‘unelected’ President plans to privatize 57 public enterprises – the crown jewels of Brazil’s economy. This will amount to the biggest capitalist asset grab in two centuries!

Included in the sell-off are: oil fields, energy transmission lines, highways, airports, as well as Brazil’s mint and lottery. Electrobas, Latin America’s biggest electricity generator, is up for grabs. In addition, Temer plans to raise interest rates charged by the state-owned development bank BNDES to increase the private bankers’ share of lending and profits.

This naked grab of profitable state enterprises by private domestic and foreign investors will lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and the lowering of wages, salaries and pension payments. Temer started to slash state pension liabilities by increasing the age of retirement by several years. Wages and social benefits have been frozen for the foreseeable future. Presidential decrees, which dictate the terms of labor contracts, threaten collective bargaining.

The Capitalist Offensive: Results and Perspectives

These presidents have declared their intention to launch full-scale ‘class war from above’ – the consequences of which remain to be seen. The presidents, who rule by fiat, are treading fragile terrain. Each is facing major political, economic and social challenges.

All three presidents have lost public support since taking power, especially among their lower middle and working class-class voters.

Macron’s approval dropped from 65% to 40%; Trump from 49% to 35%; and Temer (who was not elected) barely retains 5% (and falling) public approval.

Brazil: Facing the Abyss

Despite uncertainties over the regime’s stability and future, foreign investors and the financial press supports Temer.

President Temer’s isolation from Brazil’s voting public has weakened his power in the Congress, and among the domestic banking elite and oil and power corporations. However, if the trade unions call for widespread militant strikes by manufacturing workers, public employees and the landless rural workers’ movement (MST) is effective and paralyzes the economy, Temer may be forced to resign before his program is implemented. Meanwhile, President Temer faces numerous judicial investigations for corruption.

Strategically, Temer can count on international support, especially from the US State Department, Treasury, Pentagon and the European Union. The neo-liberal regimes in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Colombia and Mexico have voiced strong support for Temer, especially since they have also received bribes from the same Brazilian corporate oligarchs! Under Temer, the Brazilian economy has declined by over 5% since he took power in a ‘legislative coup d’état’. His budget deficit exceeds 9% and unemployment has doubled to over 11%.

Despite support from foreign and domestic elite, Temer’s presidency will not survive. Under mass pressure and with looming elections, Brazil’s Congress may decide to allow the courts to prosecute Temer and block his proposed sellout of public assets.

Credit rating agencies are going to downgrade the Brazil’s economy to ‘junk’ status, undercutting new investments. With new elections on the horizon in 2018, it is clear that Temer will not even run for the presidency and his proposals to privatize Brazil’s major firms may not succeed. The economic recession has sharply reduced tax revenues and the possibility of receiving any significant boost from privatization is dubious. Even Temer’s initial regressive measure – the slashing of public pensions- has bogged down in bureaucratic infighting. However, the opposition to Temer’s capitalist offensive has yet to strike a decisive, organized blow.

The Congressional opposition, led by the center-left Workers Party (PT), is a distinct minority with many of its leaders facing their own corruption trials. The PT is incapable of blocking, let alone ousting, Temer. The rightwing opposition in Congress is divided between those who back Temer – based on party patronage – and those who want to replace Temer while pushing for his anti-labor agenda. The trade unions, led by the CUT, have mounted sporadic protests and made rhetorical gestures, while the MST (the landless rural workers) and associated ecological and homeless movements, which lack militant mass urban support, would be unable to topple Temer.

Ex-President Lula Da Silva has regained some degree of mass voter support but faces corruption charges, which may ban him from political office – unless there is a major mass mobilization.

In sum, the rightwing, pro-capitalist offensive in Brazil is comprehensive — offering public assets and private profits– but weak in institutional support and economic fundamentals.

A big-push from the Left could undermine the political base for Temer’s economic team, however, it is not clear which party or leaders would replace him.

France: Bonaparte in the Palace, Workers on the Streets

When President Emmanuel Macron was elected President of the Fifth Republic, he carried a mass electoral base as well as the support of France’s leading business and banking organizations. However, in the run-up to the launching of his capitalist offensive the mass base has evaporated. Voter disapproval is rising rapidly. The militant wing of the trade unions (CGT) prepares to launch general strike. His regressive tax agenda has alienated wide sectors of the petit bourgeois, especially public-sector employees.

Macron’s concentration of executive power (his Bonapartist complex) has turned his allies on the right against him.

The outcome of Macron’s offensive is both likely and uncertain.

For one thing Macron enjoys a majority in the French Congress. The economy is growing and investors are exuberant. Tax-conscious small business groups are happy. Labor is divided with the class collaborationist CFDT and FO refusing to join with the trade union opposition.

The European Union is united, up to a point, in its support for Macron. Equally important, Macron is determined to crush street protests and sporadic, partial strikes with demagogic appeals through the corporate mass media, coercion and outright state repression.

The political party opposition, led by the left socialists and the nationalists, is divided. The Socialist Party barely exists. Pensioners and students are opposed to Macron, but have not taken to the streets. Few among the professional class and liberal academia retain any illusions about the ‘new centrist President’ but few are willing to actively confront the ‘the new Bonaparte’.

Macron has fashioned a formidable alliance between the state apparatus and the business ruling class to crush worker opposition. But popular opposition is growing and is furious at his agenda and insults: ‘They (French workers) have had it too good…’ To defeat Macron, they must unite the opposition and build a strategy of prolonged class warfare.

Macron will not give in to transitory strikes. If Macron’s capitalist offensive succeeds, it will have enormous implications for the French working class, especially the rights of workers and salaried employees to organize and struggle. A victory for Macron will profoundly undermine the structure and membership of popular organizations, now and in the future. Moreover, a defeat for French workers will reverberate throughout the EU and beyond. Conversely, a victory for labor could trigger mass struggles across Europe.

The United States

A powerful opposition could confront President Trump’s capitalist offensive, but it will not be led by the highly bureaucratized trade unions representing less than 8% of the private sector labor force. Trump’s enemies among the Democratic and Republican Party elite have dismissed Trump’s ‘working class’ supporters as ‘white supremacist and neo-Nazis’. American workers’ concerns have been trivialized and marginalized by the divisive politics of ‘identity’, so blatantly used by both parties. Trump’s capitalist offensive in favor of a regressive pro-corporate tax cuts and the gutting of social welfare (health, education, housing, environment and worker safety) has failed to provoke sustained, unified social opposition. In the US, the pro-business elites dominate and dictate the agendas of both the incumbent Trump regime and the ‘elite opposition forces’.

The official ‘anti-Trump opposition’, which terms itself a ‘resistance’, promotes ‘identity’ interests linked to elite political representation. It works hard to undermine any possibility of working class unity based on common socio-economic interests by focusing on marginal and divisive issues. In the midst of mass poverty, declining life expectancy and an epidemic of suicide and drug overdose deaths, the ‘resistance’ forces of the elite opposition concentrate on manufactured foreign (‘Russia-gate’) conspiracies and life style issues (trans-genders in the US Special Forces) to overthrow the Trump regime. They have no intention to forge any class alliances that might threaten Trump’s regressive capitalist agenda.

The struggle this fall in the US will not be between labor and capital: It will spotlight the contradiction between what remains of Trump’s business protectionist agenda and the Democrats’ neo-liberal free trade policies. The capitalist offensive against labor in the USA was already determined by default. US trade union officials are marginal and inconsequential actors, incapable and unwilling to politicize, educate and mobilize workers.

Trump’s capitalist offensive appeals to investors and boosts the stock market. The majority of his economic team is tied to Wall Street bankers against so-called economic nationalists. Trump’s mindless chauvinist rhetoric to the populace is openly dismissed by the plutocrats within his own cabinet, who complain they have been targeted by ‘fascists and anti-Semites’ (meaning Trump’s deplorable and angry voter base).

The United States is the only country in the industrial world launching a massive, sustained capitalist offensive without an anti-capitalist opposition. The American working class is openly ‘deplored’ by the major elements of the elite opposition and blatantly manipulated by its fake ‘champion’, Trump.

The consequences are pre-determined. The capitalist offensive cannot lose; both capitalist sides ‘win’. Under the Businessman-President Trump, multi-national corporations will secure lower taxes and degrade working class living standards and social benefits. Bi-partisan agreements will ensure that banks are completely deregulated. The elite anti-Trump opposition will ensure that ‘their’ capitalists get favorable neo-liberal trade agreements, guaranteeing their access to cheap immigrant labor and a non-unionized workforce denied workplace safety and environmental regulations.

While France and Brazil face real class war, the ‘classless’ US slouches toward nuclear war. Macron confronts militant trade unions, Temer faces the fury of broad social alliances, and Donald Trump marches after ‘his Generals’ to nuclear conflagration. He invades Russian diplomatic properties; points nuclear weapons at Moscow and Beijing; holds massive offensive exercises and stations THAAD missiles on the border of North Korea; and escalates US air and ground force operations in a 16-year losing war in Afghanistan.

Workers in Europe and Latin America choose to fight capitalists in defense of their class interests, while US workers have become passive spectators to the looming possibility of nuclear war, when they are not in a prescription-induced opioid stupor. Defeating the capitalist offensive in France and Brazil can advance the cause of social justice and ensure concrete benefits for workers and masses of people; Trump’s unopposed capitalist military offensive will send clouds of nuclear ashes across the world.

September 13, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Lula’s Legal Team Rejects Politicized Corruption Allegations

teleSUR | September 6, 2017

Faced with formal accusations of criminal conduct and corruption, former Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva has struck back through his legal team, maintaining that the politicized allegations are an attack on Brazil’s legal order and democracy itself.

“The latest allegations are a complete fabrication, politically motivated in spite of growing international outrage of the behavior of parts of the judiciary, and timed to influence the democratic will of Brazilians,” attorneys Cristiano Zanin Martins and Valeska Teixeira Zanin Martins said in a statement released on behalf of their client, Lula.

“We will fight these ludicrous, unsubstantiated claims with rigor using all legal avenues open to us,” the lawyers maintained.

Lula’s legal team added that the accusations are tantamount to political persecution, signaling the clear danger that the popular former head of state will have his rights violated in kangaroo court-style proceedings. Such a process would be a clear breach Brazil’s constitutionally-guaranteed right to a fair trial – a right backed by international law.

“The decision by the attorney general is another attack on Brazilian democracy. The country is facing a real threat to the basic rule of law and democracy itself. This legal battle is bigger than one person, it is a fight for the very future of Brazil,” the statement concluded.

Brazilian Attorney General Rodrigo Janot accused former presidents Lula and Dilma Rousseff, along with several other leaders of the Workers’ Party, or PT, of forming a criminal organization to divert money from the state-controlled oil company, Petrobras, to the tune of $US475 million through a corruption scheme involving construction conglomerate Odebrecht.

“The indictment written by the Attorney General’s Office accusing me, along with the PT, of belonging to a criminal organization is a document that seems to have been hastily assembled and based exclusively on statements from bribed informants,” Rousseff said in a statement. She added that the groundless allegations seem to have no basis in evidence, but are based on suppositions, specious claims and spurious inferences taken as facts.

“The ‘charges’ rely on fabricated lies – some quite old – which seem to have been unearthed and reanimated in order to divert attention from the actual recordings,” she added, a reference to scandalous audio recordings of President Michael Temer urging that witnesses in the scandal be bribed. “The informants themselves say that in order to be found innocent or win a reduced sentence, they will say what the prosecutors want to hear.”

Rousseff added that a section of Brazil’s press has allowed itself to become an accomplice to the forces of corruption and to distract the public from the erosion of ethics and morality among ruling elites on the very same day that Brazilian police found US$16 million cash in an apartment allegedly used by Geddel Vieira, a former cabinet member in the Temer government.

“Justice and truth will always triumph,” she concluded, expressing her confidence in the court’s ability to see justice through and expose the lack of evidence in the indictment leveled by the attorney general.

The accusations come on the heels of Lula’s 20-day Caravan of Hope bus tour through Brazil’s northeast, a base of support for the PT, where he was enthusiastically greeted by crowds numbering in the tens of thousands who are opposed to the Temer government and its neoliberal agenda.

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Brazil’s Slave-Descended Quilombos Shaken by String of Murders

teleSUR – August 8, 2017

Brazilian authorities have revealed that six rural workers were mysteriously murdered in their homes in the lush rural state of Bahia in Brazil Sunday.

The crime, which was only announced Tuesday, is the latest in a wave of killings targeting residents in the disputed Iuna Quilombola Territory that lies in the city of Lencois. The murders bring to eight the number of those killed in disputed lands in Bahia within less than a month.

According to authorities, the victims lived in two neighboring homes — four in one house and two in the other — and were killed by men in an unidentified black vehicle. Each victim was shot four to six times. All were quilombolas — the descendants of Afro-Indigenous Brazilians who escaped from slavery to hinterland settlements known as Quilombos.

The victims have been identified as Adeilton Brito de Souza, Gildasio Bispo das Neves, Amauri Pereira Silva, Valdir Pereira Silva, Marcos Pereira Silva and Cosme Rosario da Conceicao

While state security forces are investigating possible links between the victims and drug traffickers, the crimes have shed light on an ongoing dispute between quilombolas and farmers who want the quilombolas expelled from the region.

In 2010, the Quilombola Territory of Iuna began the process of gaining legal recognition and titles to the land. The roughly 3,500-acre territory is home to 1,400 residents and is in the city of Lencois, a major eco-tourist destination and the starting point for treks into Chapada Diamantina National Park. The park spans a highland region of canyons and waterfalls known for its hiking trails, which were opened by miners searching for diamonds, gold and other precious minerals.

While in theory, Brazil’s 1988 Constitution assures quilombos titles to lands they historically are located on, very few quilombos actually enjoy legal recognition. According to recent data, 303 quilombo territories in Bahia state alone are seeking regularization, but only 34 are in an advanced state of regularization. The state still has no legally-recognized quilombola territories, while 19 territories have been identified as disputed land claimed by third parties.

On July 16, quilombola Lindomar Fernandes Martins was fatally shot six times on a road leading into Iuna. No one was arrested for the crime. The next day — also in Bahia — Jose Raimundo Mota de Souza, Jr., the president of the Association of Rural Workers in the Jiboia Quilombola Community, was shot dead while working in the fields with his brothers and family members.

The Association of Rural Workers’ Advocates and Catholic Church-linked Pastoral Land Commission, as well as the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform — the government agency charged with processing quilombo land claims — have issued messages of solidarity with the victims’ families and urged authorities to investigate and prosecute those involved in Sunday’s killings.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

Online Petition Forces Review of Dilma Rouseff’s Impeachment

teleSUR | July 29, 2017

Brazilian senators will have to review the controversial procedure that led to the former president Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment last year, after an online citizens’ petition gathered more than 46,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

The survey is being carried out on the Senate’s online platform E-Cidadania, and required a minimum of 20,000 signatures by November before it could be formally converted into a “legislative suggestion” to be considered in the higher house.

It poses two questions: firstly, that the loss of her mandate as the constitutional president was the consequence of a coup d’état.

And secondly, that the ‘failure’ of her successor Michel Terner’s government means that the only solution is to reinstate Rouseff into her elected post which should never have been taken away from her.

Last August, Brazil’s Senate voted to remove her from office for manipulating the budget.

Rouseff protested her innocence and promised not to give up the political struggle against poverty and inequality.

The petition is similar to another one which has been drawn up by the National Movement for the Anullment of the Impeachment, MNAI.

It’s supporters include the former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the national president of the Workers’ Party, Gleisi Hoffmann and the singer and composer Chico Buarque.

The MNAI hopes to gather 1.3 million signatures in order to pressure the Federal Supreme Court to revoke the result of the trial against Rousseff.

The Brazilian President Michel Temer’s approval ratings have plummeted to less than five percent as the corruption allegations against him and other politicians refuse to go away.

While opponents of his government’s controversial labor and pension reforms are still demanding his resignation.

July 29, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Brazil Mainstream Media Admits Spreading Fake News About Lula

teleSUR | May 23, 2017

The mainstream media channel has long claimed that both former leftist presidents were involved in the massive corruption scandal.

Brazil’s largest television channel, Globo, has admitted that is has divulged false information about former Brazilian presidents Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.

Globo journalist William Waak acknowledged on television Tuesday that previous reports about Lula and Rousseff, allegedly owning offshore accounts, were inaccurate.

The mainstream media channel has long claimed that both former leftist presidents were involved in the massive corruption scandal involving Joesley Batista, owner of JBS, Brazil’s largest meat packing company.

“We said that Joesley Batista had claimed in the awarding statement that he deposited fines on two current accounts abroad, in the name of the ex-Presidents Lula and Dilma Rousseff,” Waak said.

“In reality, however, Batista said that the account is in his name, but that money was going to be allocated to Lula and Dilma’s campaigns.”

The correction did not repair damage caused to Lula and Rousseff’s image, since many international agencies and foreign newspapers have since echoed Globo’s false claim, failing to correct them.

Last Friday, Batista confessed that de-facto President Michel Temer had requested and received bribes from his company since 2010.

Batista, the protagonist of a wiretapping scandal incriminating the unelected Brazilian leader, exposed the arrangement to the Brazilian attorney general’s office. He claims he paid Temer roughly US$1 million in 2010 alone. Another US$921,000 was requested by the embattled president in 2012 to support Gabriel Chalita’s bid to become mayor of Sao Paulo.

Batista also claimed that during the impeachment process against ousted former President Dilma Rousseff, Temer requested a payment of more than US$85,000 dollars for online political marketing expenditure.

Temer has repeated that he has no intention of resigning. Contrarily, he’s considering a lawsuit against the owner of JBS in order to strengthen his defense.

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Brazil Coup Architect Eduardo Cunha Sentenced to 15 Years for Corruption

teleSUR | March 30, 2017

A Brazilian judge sentenced Eduardo Cunha, the former speaker of the lower house and mastermind behind the parliamentary coup against former President Dilma Rousseff, to 15 years and four months in jail Thursday for corruption charges.

The sentence is the result of a criminal suit investigating Cunha for fraud related to millions of dollars in kickbacks he received for the 2011 purchase of an oil field in the West African country of Benin by the state-run oil company, Petrobras, which has been at the center of a major anti-corruption probe in the South American country known as Operation Car Wash.

Federal Judge Sergio Moro handed down the sentence over charges of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. The former head of the lower house has been held in pre-trial detention since last October.

“The responsibility of a federal parliamentarian is enormous, and therefore so is his guilt when he commits crimes,” said Moro. “There is no bigger crime than that of trying to use one’s parliamentary mandate and the sacred trust the people place in it to obtain personal gain.”

According to Moro, Cunha received US$1.5 million in bribes for the Benin oil field contract, which, according to an internal Petrobras investigation reported by local media, resulted in US$77.5 million in losses for the state-run oil company after no oil was found at the site.

The federal public prosecutor’s office had called for Cunha to be forced to pay full damages to Petrobras, but Moro has signaled that a fine equivalent to the US$1.5 million bribe he received will be ordered.

While Cunha’s defense team has said that they will appeal the decision, Moro confirmed that the politician will remain behind bars while the appeals process moves forward.

Despite himself facing multimillion dollar bribery and fraud charges, Cunha was a key architect in painting the impeachment process against Dilma Rousseff as a campaign to root out government corruption.

A member of unelected President Michel Temer’s PMDB party, Cunha is accused of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion linked to raking in at least US$5 million in illicit kickbacks between 2006 and 2012 and hiding the wealth in Swiss bank accounts.

Cunha was removed from his position as speaker of the lower house last September after being suspended in May 2016 — just weeks after the lower house pushed through the impeachment bid against Rousseff — to face an impeachment process over accusations that he intimidated lawmakers and hampered investigations. The Congress voted overwhelmingly by 450 to 10 to remove the unpopular politician.

The overwhelming decision to remove Cunha also stripped him of the parliamentary immunity he long enjoyed, opening him up to the corruption charges. Authorities arrested him at his apartment in Brasilia last October over accusations he hid laundered money in secret Swiss bank account while in office.

Despite the power he has wielded over Brazilian politics, polling over the past year has repeatedly unmasked Cunha as one of the most unpopular politicians in the country, including among his own party.

Several other top Temer allies have also been targeted in the Operation Car Wash investigations that have led to the arrests of dozens of politicans and economic elites over bribery schemes and corruption linked to Petrobras.

March 31, 2017 Posted by | Corruption | , | Leave a comment

David Rockefeller & a dark legacy in Brasil – A critical obituary

Brasil Wire | March 20, 2017

On March 20, David Rockefeller died at the age of 101. As the obituaries for one of the world’s richest men gush over his philanthropy, it needs to be pointed out that he was a major player in several Latin American coups, supported extremely corrupt military dictatorships, post-dictatorship neoliberal policies that greatly exacerbated income stratification and poverty and that his dark legacy will continue to influence the region long after his death.

The Rockefellers’ arrival in Brazil

The Rockefeller Foundation first arrived in Brazil during World War I and was embedded within the so-called “public health movement” amongst Brazilian elites. At that time, Brazilian eugenics was synonymous with public health and emphasized “hygienization”, expressed in the maxim “to sanitize is to eugenize”. With Rockefeller assistance, the creation of the Eugenic Society of São Paulo in 1918 represented the institutionalization of eugenics in Brazil. Amongst elites, eugenics was associated with evolution, progress and civilization, even treated by some as a ‘new religion’. In “War against the weak” Edwin Black explains that the purpose of the Rockefeller Foundation was to finance programs aimed at “the extermination of those considered degenerate”. In Brazil this meant the poor, the ignorant, those of mixed race and African descent.

In her thesis on David’s older brother Nelson Rockefeller, historian Elisabeth Cobbs argues that U.S. Foreign policy in Brazil was not only realised by official relations between governments and diplomats, but also by the private sector, including philanthropic organisations. Nelson had been a regular visitor to Brazil since the 1930s, and in 1941 was named by President Roosevelt as coordinator of the Office of Interamerican Affairs (CIAA), which ran intelligence and propaganda operations against the Axis Powers in Latin America.

Following the end of the War, Nelson headed the American International Association for Economic and Social Development in Brazil of AIA. The AIA was a “Capitalist Missionary” philanthropic NGO known in Brazil for its programmes for modernisation of agriculture to North American models and standards (including the introduction of pesticides, herbicides and hybrid seeds), sanitation, and literacy. AIA would eventually birth two more agencies, IBEC (International Basic Economy Company) and the IRI Research Institute. As coordinator of the CIAA, Nelson acquired invaluable information about Latin America’s untapped natural resources, especially mineral reserves, information that he would go on to use following the war. IBEC became a key component in the post-World War Two opening of the Amazon rainforest to commercial exploitation, “a process that eventually led to military dictatorships, genocide of native peoples, loss of biological diversity and unprecedented misery for the majority of Brazilians“.

The Cold War increased pressures on Brazil regarding Oil exploration concessions. President Getúlio Vargas was said to have tried to address this by forming a consortium, with the participation of Standard Oil, Shell and the Brazilian State. Shell is reported to have accepted the idea, but Standard Oil and Chase Bank opposed. Standard Oil would instead coerce using threats to Brazil’s Coffee exports – the Rockefeller group controlled the American Coffee Corporation, which bought most of Brazil’s coffee, processed it and distributed to the United States.

In the 1950s David Rockefeller & Chase became more active in Brazil, creating Interamerican Finance & Investments, only to sell their shares in 1956 as the political climate turned against Internationalisation. In 1961 he tried to set up a Chase affiliate bank in Brazil, buying 51% of Banco Lar for $3m dollars, but Chase were discouraged due to the political instability in the country. (In 1980 he was cleared by the Central Bank to buy the remaining shares, and this entity finally became Brazil’s Chase).

During this period, along with his brother Nelson, David developed a very close friendship with partner and boss of Unibanco (later merged with Itau) Walther Moreira Salles, whose family made a second fortune from the ultra-rare mineral Niobium. Together, the Rockefellers and Moreira Salles would purchase a massive Farm, “Bodoquena”, in the state of Mato Grosso.

In the early 1960s on the instruction of President Kennedy, David Rockefeller founded the Business Group for Latin America, which was intended to help counter the spread of leftist governments in the region following the Cuban revolution. Under his leadership, it subsequently transformed into the Council of the Americas and finally AS/COA, which currently publishes Americas Quarterly, a relatively discreet but influential nucleus of anglophone “Free Trade” policy discourse on Latin America.

The Business Group for Latin America included on its board senior executives such as C. Jay Parkinson, CEO of Anaconda Copper – which had a strong presence in Chile, and Harold Geneen, head of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (ITT), also heavily involved in the country, and Donald M. Kendall, CEO of PepsiCo. All of these firms supported the intervention of Nixon and Kissinger against elected President Salvador Allende, in 1973.

In 1970, covert CIA schemes against Allende included a $500,000 contingency plan to influence the congressional vote against his candidacy. His opponent Alessandri was to be given around half a million dollars, to be raised by ITT and other companies within the Business Group. According to Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh, Rockefeller’s Business Group for Latin America, which was transformed in 1970 into the Council of the Americas, had a close relationship with the CIA and Enno Hobbing, who had participated in the overthrow of Arbenz in Guatemala. Hobbing, a CIA official who had initially been assigned as liaison to the Business Group, eventually left the CIA and became the principal operations officer for the Council of the Americas.

Countless academics have written about economic sabotage, often in cooperation with US business elites such as the Rockefeller family, as a component of US-backed coups in Latin America. From the ITT orchestrated Chilean copper boycott of 1972 to the Reagan administration’s economic destabilization of Nicaragua, to US efforts to sabotage the Venezuelan economy, progressive populism is to this day frequently met with US aggression, including media propaganda.

David Rockefeller and the Brazilian Military Dictatorship

Jan K. Black’s “United States Penetration of Brazil” contains numerous passages related to the activities of Rockefeller Group, the Business Group of Latin America and its precursors in the 1962 Election, the Coup of 1964 and period that followed, in connivance with local conservative elites.  She documents how, at a Military conference on Latin America at West Point in the fall of 1964, David Rockefeller said that it had been decided quite early that Goulart was not acceptable to the U.S. banking community, and that he would “have to go.” As in 2016, in 1964 the foreign emphasis was not on Marxist ideology, but on combating economic and resource nationalism.

The assertion of national control over basic natural resources, as well as a more general assertion of control over the productive capacity of the economy, had been seen by the Goulart government as a prerequisite to the redistribution of income. The advocacy of economic nationalism had also been seen as one of the most promising means of mobilizing mass support for the government. U.S. businesses, with the support of the U.S. Government, had generally been able to fend off the constraints of nationalistic but weak governments. If the mobilization of the masses had not appeared to be a threat or a possibility, It seems likely that the combined pressures of the multinational corporations and those elements of the Brazilian business community whose fortunes were linked to them would have been sufficient to intimidate the Brazilian government into backing down on its nationalistic designs. But regardless of the actual potential in 1964 for the mobilization of the masses, Goulart apparently believed that it was possible: and his enemies, foreign and domestic, apparently feared that he was right.”

In 1975, former CIA agent Philip Agee confirmed many of the findings and suspicions of a Brazilian congressional commission into Foreign interference in Brazil’s 1962 Election. The investigation revealed that of the (CIA) Rio Station’s main political-action operations, the Brazilian Institute for Democratic Action (IBAD) and a related organisation called Democratic Action (ADEP):

“… spent during the 1962 electoral campaign at least the equivalent of some 12 million dollars financing anticommunist candidates, and possibly as much as 20 million…. The parliamentary investigating commission was controlled somewhat-five of its nine members were themselves recipients of IBAD and ADEP funds-but only the refusal of the First National City Bank, the Bank of Boston, and the Royal Bank of Canada to reveal the foreign source of funds deposited for IBAD and ADEP kept the lid from blowing off. Beneficiaries of IBAD were prominent among the conspirators in the coup of 1 April and some, particularly military beneficiaries, were among who gained power as a consequence of it…. Robinson Rojas listed Standard Oil of New Jersey, U.S. Steel, Texas Oil, Gulf Oil, Hanna Corporation, Bethlehem Steel, General Motors, and Willys Overland among the depositors in the accounts of IBAD-ADEP-Promotion”. Economist & Environmentalist Jean Marc von der Weid maintained that “more than one hundred foreign enterprises and some national ones were involved in financing the institute, and that the Rockefeller Group-IBEC was one of the major benefactors.”

The CIA’s “point man” in the 1964 Coup was Joseph Caldwell King, also known by his CIA code name of Oliver G. Galbond. He was former vice president of Business Group member Johnson & Johnson, in charge of Brazil & Argentina, and from there he moved to his close friend Nelson Rockefeller’s Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OCIAA). After officially leaving the CIA in 1967, King became CEO of ‘Amazon Natural Drug Company’, a CIA front which was collecting organic material from the rainforest for Rockefeller Foundation-funded research by US Agencies.

Brazil’s hegemonic media network, Rede Globo, was actually created with the assistance and funding of Rockefeller-associated Time-Life Publishing in the United States. It became a powerful instrument of societal control during the dictatorship following its launch in 1964.

Gerard Colby & Charlotte Dennett’s ‘Thy will be done: The Conquest of the Amazon’ was an investigation into the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), also known as the Wycliffe Bible Translators – a Rockefeller & USAID funded Evangelical organisation which had been translating the Bible into hundreds of indigenous languages in Central and South America. Wycliffe was founded by ultraconservative William Cameron Townsend who worked in tandem with Rockefeller and which the authors accuse of destroying indigenous peoples’ cultural values to abet penetration by U.S. businesses, employing a “virulent brand of Christian fundamentalism that used linguistics to undermine the social cohesion of indigenous communities and accelerate their assimilation into Western culture”. It sent scores of missionaries and establishing churches to counter the “threat” of Left-Wing “Liberation Theology” to United States Security, identified by older brother Nelson in his 1969 ‘Rockefeller Report’ for President Nixon. These missionaries also acted as scouts, covertly surveying the Amazon for resources. Financial support for Evangelical faith in Brazil evidently extends to the present, with the massive and politically influential Pentecostal “Universal Church of the Kingdom of God” whose head Bishop, Edir Macedo told his followers in 2011 that the Rockefellers had been generous contributors.

David and Nelson Rockefeller along with Zbigniew Brzezinski were also involved in the drafting of Henry Kissinger’s “National Security Study Memorandum 200” in 1974, which President Ford, to whom Nelson was serving as Vice, made official United States policy. The once secret NSSM-200, which was first seen by researchers in the 1990s, is a chilling document which advocates forced population control in 13 “Less Developed Countries”, one of which was Brazil, countries chosen for the strategic importance of their natural resources. The study states that “the world is increasingly dependent on mineral supplies from developing countries, and if rapid population frustrates their prospects for economic development and social progress, the resulting instability may undermine the conditions for expanded output and sustained flows of such resources.”

It goes on to conclude that “Whether through government action, labor conflicts, sabotage, or civil disturbance, the smooth flow of needed materials will be jeopardized. Although population pressure is obviously not the only factor involved, these types of frustrations are much less likely under conditions of slow or zero population growth”, and “Young people, who are in much higher proportions in many LDCs, are likely to be more volatile, unstable, prone to extremes, alienation and violence than an older population. These young people can more readily be persuaded to attack the legal institutions of the government or real property of the ‘establishment,’ ‘imperialists,’ multinational corporations, or other-often foreign-influences blamed for their troubles”.

Such mandatory population control programmes would be implemented by Non Governmental Organisations such as the Rockefeller’s own Eugenicist Population Council. In 1968, Frederick Osborn, the organisation’s first president, said “Eugenic goals are most likely to be achieved under another name than eugenics.”

The implications of the NSSM-200 document for Brazilians cannot be understated. It can be interpreted that de-facto opposition to population growth, rises to living standards & life expectancy, availability of quality public education and healthcare, and independent development in Brazil, has been effectively codified into United States foreign policy since 1975.

Post-Dictatorship

Two decades after a Military Dictatorship took power with his support, in 1987 following transition to Civilian Rule, David Rockefeller remarked “In all my visits to Brazil, I have never before come across such desperate poverty”.

In June 1992 he was back in Brasilia. “The progress is encouraging and the road is open to an accord” he said, after a 45-minute meeting with corruption-hit President Fernando Collor de Mello at the Planalto Palace in the capital. Though by this point Rockefeller was only a consultant at Chase Manhattan, he was still involved in the Council of the Americas. The New York Times wrote that Brazil was seeking to convert its world record $108bn debt into 30-year bonds that would be backed by the United States Treasury. Born into an Oligarchic family, Collor had come to power in 1989 via the first direct election since the 1964 Coup, as Rede Globo’s anointed candidate. One of his leftist rivals Leonel Brizola, had been identified as the potential target for a U.S.-supported Coup d’etat should he have won. By the end of 1992, Collor, who had overseen a programme of rapid privatisation and economic liberalisation, resigned, facing imminent impeachment, with inflation standing at over 1000%. In dealing directly with Collor, Rockefeller ensured that debt-deals were set in stone before any change in Presidency.

During preparations for the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Rockefeller Foundation created LEAD (Leadership in the Environment and Development). According to their website they have since then “been recruiting talented individuals from key sectors and professions all over the world to be part of a growing network now standing at over 2400 leaders, who are committed to changing the world. […] Since 1992, more than 500 professionals have been trained in Brazil, Canada, China, Former Soviet Union, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.” The Brazilian branch of LEAD (ABDL) was one of the first, founded in mid-1991. Al Binger, LEAD’s international director, said with surprising frankness: “We hope that in ten years many of the fellows will be acting as ministers of environment and development, university rectors and CEOs.” One of the Brazilian Politicians most closely associated with LEAD/ABDL would be future Presidential Candidate & environmental campaigner, Marina Silva. Silva was Catholic Liberation Theologist, and social movement leader for almost two decades, converting to Evangelical faith in the mid 1990s. Although widely hailed as an environmentalist leader in the anglophone media, her public support of “green capitalism” is not only rejected by the Brazilian environmentalist movement, it’s rejection was chosen as the theme to the Cupula dos Povos, the international alternative forum to Rio+20, held simultaneously with it in Rio de Janeiro in 2012.

“A bridge to the future”

AS/COA (Americas Society / Council of the Americas) magazine Americas Quarterly and its circle of promoted commentariat have been a major player in reshaping the master narrative of Brazil as a failing state, that Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment was legitimate, and in particular the depiction of Lava Jato judge Sergio Moro as objective “anti-corruption crusader”. There is a also a common rhetorical dismissal of U.S. interference in modern Latin America as being a relic of the cold war.

Shortly after the illegitimate impeachment of predecessor Dilma Rousseff, on September 22 2016, documented U.S. informant, new President Michel Temer, who was visiting the United States to meet Vice President Joe Biden and address the UN, also spoke at a specially-organised meeting at the New York headquarters of AS/COA . At the meeting for Investors, Business and Banking elites, Temer candidly revealed an “open secret” – that the true purpose of Rousseff’s removal was that she would not agree to implement a hardline Austerity & Privatisation programme contained within a policy document called “Bridge to the Future.”

The document was odd in that it appeared to have been translated from English, with social media users remarking on its unusual wording. Economist Marcio Pochmann noted similarities between “Bridge to the Future” and the “Government Economic Action Plan” (PAEG) which followed the Coup of 1964. One such similarity, he says, is the strong international influence.

“PAEG was written in English, there was great American intervention in the country, so much so that the US supported the dictatorship and even sent a ship in case of civil war. The coup of 2016 also has undeniable US interests in relation to a series of developmental moves the country had made since 2003, as it sought greater autonomy in Brazilian foreign policy. The South-South relationship and the strengthening of the BRICs (Trade Bloc formed by Brazil, Russia, India and China)is different from what the US considers to be the best for Latin America.”

Former Dictatorship-era Public Security Official Michel Temer was also asked by one attendee what plans he had to deal with social unrest amongst the population in response to such extreme austerity measures. This too echoes 1964, in “Who Rules the World, Chomsky noted that the Kennedy administration’s policy was to transform Latin America’s Militaries into glorified police forces, designed to deal with their own populations “should they raise their heads”, not external threats.

Despite the shocking nature of Temer’s comments, they were for the most part ignored by close-knit Brazil-based corporate journalists, but to those who have been following the US-led rollback against democratically elected center-left and left leaders in Latin America, it was no coincidence that Temer admitted this at a meeting sponsored & organised by AS/COA.

AS/COA is effectively a Latin America equivalent of the Atlantic Council and its slogan is “Uniting opinion leaders to exchange ideas and create solutions to the challenges of the Americas today” and its online biographies state: “Americas Society (AS) Is the premier forum dedicated to education, debate, and dialogue in the Americas. Its mission is to foster an understanding of the contemporary political, social, and economic issues confronting Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the Americas and the importance of the inter-American relationship.”, “Council of the Americas (COA) Is the premier international business organisation whose members share a common commitment to economic and social development, open markets, the rule of law, and democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere. The Council’s membership consists of leading international companies representing a broad spectrum of sectors, including banking and finance, consulting services, consumer products, energy and mining, manufacturing, media, technology, and transportation.”

The organisation is said to be based on the “fundamental belief that free markets and private enterprise offer the most effective means to achieve regional economic growth and prosperity.” Membership has grown to over 200 blue chip companies that represent the majority of U.S. private investment in Latin America. The Council hosts presidents, cabinet ministers, central bankers, government officials, and leading experts in economics, politics, business, and finance, which gives it unique access to information from the region. The Council of the Americas argues that “free markets and private enterprise offer the most effective means to achieve regional economic growth”. It has been a supporter of free trade agreements and has been instrumental in the conception of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)…. and the yet to be implemented Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the long-held ambition of David Rockefeller himself. Meanwhile, sister organisation The Americas Society’s focus is in contrast “to increase public awareness and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the Americas and the importance of the inter-American relationship”

Elite COA corporate members include: Bloomberg, Blackrock, Bank of America, Barings, Barrick Gold Corporation, Boeing, Bombardier, Banco Bradesco, Banco do Brasil, Banco Santander, Cisco, Citigroup, Coca Cola, ExxonMobility, Ford, General Electric, General Motors, Google, Itaú Unibanco, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, JP Morgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, McDonalds, Moody’s, Morgan Stanley, Microsoft, News Corp / Fox, Pearson, Pfizer, Philip Morris, Raytheon, Shell, Television Association Of Programmers Latin America, Time Warner/Turner, Toyota, Viacom, Wal-Mart.  One of the successor companies to Standard Oil, Chevron Corporation is listed as “Patron Corporate Member” of Council of the Americas, and has a strong vested interest in who governs Brazil. David Rockefeller remained Honorary Secretary of COA until the day he died, while current Secretary is William R. Rhodes, formerly of Citibank/Citigroup.

Alongside other D.C. Think Tanks such as the older Brookings, and Rockefeller/Ford funded Council on Foreign Relations, AS/COA is not unusual in its stated function but is a particularly interesting case – an interface between State & Corporate power, Intelligence communities, Multinational & Latin American Banks, Washington-aligned Neoliberal Politicians, educational institutions such as FGV, local & international NGOs, Authors, Journalists, and everyday English-language media from the region, such as Reuters and CNN.

David Rockefeller once said, “American capitalism has brought more benefits to more people than any other system in any part of the world at any time in history.” He may have passed away, but his imperialist business interests and his think tank, backed by some of the World’s most nefarious corporations in terms of human and environmental rights, will no doubt continue to meddle and weaken democracy in Latin America for years to come.

March 24, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Land Rights Activist Shot Dead in Brazilian Hospital

teleSUR | March 22, 2017

Waldomiro Costa Pereira, an activist with the Landless Workers Movement, MST, was killed Monday when gunmen stormed a hospital in Parauapebas in northeastern Brazil’s Para state, activists said in a statement.

Five armed men burst into a small town hospital in the Brazilian Amazon, surrounded security guards and shot dead the prominent land rights activist, in the latest deadly attack on land campaigners.

The motive for Pereira’s murder was unclear, the MST said, but the activist had been recovering in the hospital from a previous assassination attempt.

“This is yet another murder of workers in the state of Para,” the MST said in a statement. “Impunity has become commonplace as has the action of criminal militia groups,” the group said, adding that Pereira was a longtime activist in the “struggle for agrarian reform.”

At the time of his killing, Pereira was not active with the MST and was instead devoting his time to advising the local government on agriculture, the activist group said.

Local officials in the city of Parauapebas condemned the murder and police said they were investigating the killing, the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported.

Conflicts over territory are common in Brazil where 1 percent of the population owns nearly half of the nation’s land, according to a 2016 study from the University of Windsor in Canada.

Brazil has become one of the world’s most dangerous countries for land rights activists, with 61 killed in 2016, the highest level since 2003, according to Brazil’s Pastoral Land Commission.

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment