Aletho News


From the End of History to the End of Truth

teleSUR | March 11, 2108

Making nonsense of Fukuyama’s premature triumphalist screed, it is commonplace now to note that the United States corporate elites and their European and Pacific country counterparts are increasingly losing power and influence around the world. Equally common is the observation that these Western elites and the politicians who front for them have acted over the last twenty years to reassert their control in their respective areas of neocolonial influence. The European Union powers have done so in Eastern Europe and Africa, most obviously but not only, in Ukraine, Libya, Ivory Coast, Mali and the Central African Republic. Likewise, the United States has acted to reassert its influence in Latin America and the Caribbean, effectively declaring war on Venezuela, maintaining its economic and psychological warfare against Cuba and intervening elsewhere with varying degrees of openness.

Before they died, among the main Western media bogeymen were Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Muammar al Gaddhafi. Now Vladimir Putin and Bashar al Assad have been joined by Xi Jinping and Nicolas Maduro. Along with these and other world leaders, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega has also constantly been the object of endlessly repetitive Western media hate campaigns. This longstanding, plain-as-day media strategy, regularly and blatantly prepares mass opinion to facilitate Western government aggression against the latest target government. No one following these processes with any attention will have failed to notice the leading role played by non governmental organizations in the Western elites’ offensive against resistance to them by political leaders and movements around the world.

In almost every case of recent Western provoked interventions, from Venezuela in 2002, through Haiti in 2004, Bolivia in 2008, Honduras in 2009, Ecuador in 2010, Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria in 2011, Ukraine in 2014, Western media have used deliberately misleading and downright deceitful reports from Western NGOs to support their own false misreporting of events. In Nicaragua’s case, the usual untrustworthy NGO suspects like Amnesty International, Transparency International and Global Witness constantly publish misleading reports and statements attacking or undermining President Daniel Ortega and his government. In general, their reporting is grossly biased and disproportionate given the regional context of incomparably horrific events and deplorable conditions elsewhere in Latin America, but, as often as not, it is also downright untrue.

In a recent example, Global Witness stated that Nicaragua’s proposed interoceanic canal “wasn’t preceded by any environmental impact reports, nor any consultation with local people”. Both those assertions are completely untrue. But this Big Lie repetition is the modus operandi of the Western elites who fund outfits like Global Witness, Amnesty International, and other influential NGOs like International Crisis Group and Transparency Intenational. For example, Amnesty International claims “We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion”. But it bears constant repetition that many of Amnesty International’s board and most of its senior staff responsible for the organization’s reports are deeply ideologically committed with links to corporate dominated NGO’s like PurposeOpen Society InstituteHuman Rights Watch, and many others.

Also worth repeating is that Global Witness in 2016 received millions of dollars from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, the Ford Foundation and NATO governments. The boards and advisory boards of these NGOs are all made up overwhelmingly of people from the Western elite neocolonial non governmental sector. Many have a strong corporate business background as well. All move easily from one highly paid Western NGO job to the next, serving NATO country foreign policy goals. Cory Morningstar has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like US based Avaaz and Purpose, noting “the key purpose of the non-profit industrial complex is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose”.

Back in 2017 it was already a truism to note that Western NGOS “operate as the soft, extramural arm of NATO country governments’ foreign policy psychological warfare offensives, targeting liberal and progressive audiences to ensure their acquiescence in overseas aggression and intimidation against governments and movements targeted by NATO. To that end, they deceitfully exploit liberal and progressive susceptibilities in relation to environmental, humanitarian and human rights issues.” What is now becoming even more clear in the current context is that these Western NGOs and their media accomplices are confident enough to publish downright lies because reporting the facts no longer matters. Western public discourse has become so debased, incoherent and fragmentary that the truth is almost completely irrelevant. All that matters is the power to impose a version of events no matter how false and untruthful it may be.

This sinister media reality is intimately related to the politicization of legal and administrative processes in the national life of countries across Latin America. The spurious legal processes against Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva in Brazil, against Milagro Sala and Cristina Fernandez in Argentina, against Jorge Glas and, no doubt very soon, Rafael Correa in Ecuador are all based on the same faithless virtual association and complete disregard for factual evidence as Western media and NGO propaganda reports attacking Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua. It is imperative to overcome the ridiculous liberal presupposition that the region’s elites, with the advantage of designing and controlling their countries’ legal systems and communications media for over 200 years, are somehow going to respect high falutin’ avowals about “separation of powers”.

Note: this article borrows from previous articles here and here.

March 12, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US State Dept.: “We want elections in Venezuela now, unless we’re not guaranteed a win, in which case they’re illegitimate”

By Ricardo Vaz | Investig’Action | March 5, 2018

With presidential elections announced in Venezuela, the US State Department moved quickly to declare that the contest was illegitimate and that its results would not be recognised. But less than a year ago the tune was quite different, as a cursory look through State Dept. briefings and press releases will show. We also examine how political developments from the past year have led to the current scenario, and how US demands for “free and fair” elections are not only arrogant and hypocritical but also misleading.

We begin by taking a look at what the US State Department was constantly saying less than a year ago. We could equally document the statements of the OAS and its secretary Luis Almagro, the Venezuelan opposition, US-allied regional governments, or the mainstream media. But it is easier to just go to the source. Sadly, when it comes to Venezuela, none of the mainstream actors and media will deviate from the State Department.

As violent opposition protests raged on in the Spring of 2017, there were repeated calls for immediate elections:

“President Maduro […] should hold elections as soon as possible.” (March 29)

“We call for the government of Venezuela to […] hold elections as soon as possible” (March 30)

“We […] echo the Venezuelan people’s calls for prompt elections” (April 10)

“We call again upon the Government of Venezuela to […] hold prompt elections” (April 18)

“It’s the Venezuelan people who should decide Venezuela’s future, which is why we once again call on the Venezuelan authorities to promptly hold free, fair, and transparent elections.” (May 2)

“…what people are asking for today, which is for national presidential elections to restore legitimacy to whomever might rule Venezuela moving forward.” (May 30)

“The United States has joined with a growing number of courageous democracies in our region to urge the Venezuelan Government to hold free elections” (June 20) (1)

US officials were adamant that elections were the only legitimate way forward.

“How is legitimacy defined in a democracy? Through elections.” (May 30)

“At the end of the day, it’s all about consensus. It’s about finding a way forward for Venezuelans to depolarize their situation, and the best way to do that is through elections.” (May 30)

“Venezuela needs consensus. It needs a genuine consensus or at least a legitimate path forward. That’s what elections provide.” (June 19)

So what happened since then to make the US no longer believe that elections should be held tomorrow? Maduro made a bold gambit of calling elections for a Constituent Assembly to solve the country’s problems. The Venezuelan opposition decided not to participate and vowed to stop those elections from taking place. They miserably failed, and on July 30 over 8 million people voted in what was a remarkable show of strength by chavismo.

From that point both the opposition and the US were trapped, unable to move on from their blunder. And soon cracks started to open. After months of violent protests claiming that the “dictatorship” was about to be overthrown, the opposition then turned to its supporters and asked them to go and vote in regional elections. The result was a disaster, with chavismo winning 18 out of 23 states. The opposition could not muster more than the usual vacuous claims of fraud, and then (mostly) boycotted the December municipal elections, which resulted in a chavista sweep of over 90% of the municipalities.

With the political momentum on its side, the government decided to schedule presidential elections for April 22. According to Jorge Rodríguez, head of the government’s delegation in the Dominican Republic dialogue, this date was agreed with the opposition MUD representatives. But with opposition figures more discredited than ever the US decided to pre-emptively unrecognise the vote, simply because an opposition victory is far from guaranteed.

In the end the main opposition parties followed suit in boycotting the election, but former Lara governor Henri Falcón broke ranks and registered as a candidate. The MUD promptly expelled him, and the US allegedly threatened him with sanctions to stop him from running. Ironically, as a former chavista, Falcón might be the ideal “moderate” opposition candidate to attract the votes of disaffected chavistas. But the imperial masters are past hedging their bets, they are all-in for regime change.

After talks with Falcón and the forces backing him, the vote was postponed to May 20. The MUD doubled down on their position that “there are no opposition candidates” in this election, and up to now there has been no reaction from the State Dept.. At the same time it is hard to read this as anything but a move to further sideline the MUD after they backed out of the dialogue to stick to the hardline coming from Washington.

“Free and fair” elections

We should also take a moment to refute the US assertions about elections not being “free and fair” and the presence of international observers. The “free and fair” demand means to discredit all previous electoral processes, whose results did not please the US. Nevertheless, as many people outside the mainstream media have explained, the Venezuelan voting system is as hard to fool as it gets. In all the elections where the opposition decided to take part they got to place their observers in every voting centre. Tens of thousands of audits took place to match the electronic and paper tallies, witnessed and approved by these opposition observers, and there has not been a single allegation of tampering with the vote count (2).

We could argue that the government makes use of state resources in its political campaigns. While this would hardly be exclusive to Venezuela, we should contend that the opposition has also made use of government resources, they just happened to come from the US government through its array of NED and USAID “democracy promoting”, “civil society building” programs, and that is just the overt part of it. Complaints about media coverage are also absurd when private media has the largest share of viewership and circulation and is overwhelmingly against the government, to say nothing about international media.

The demand for international monitoring is, at best, very dishonest from the State Department. First of all, despite the opposition walking away at the 11th hour, Maduro vowed to implement what had been agreed in the Dominican Republic dialogue, which included an open invitation for international observers to come to Venezuela for the upcoming election.

But that is not to say that previous elections did not have international observers. Organisations such as the Latin American Council of Electoral Experts (CEELA) have been present and endorsed the procedures, as well as other observers from multiple countries, Latin American and otherwise. The problem is that they do not dance to the tune of the US State Department.

It is absurd to claim that the presence of the OAS is a boost for fairness and transparency. We do not even have to look very far, just take the recent elections in Honduras. Massive, documented fraud allowed Juan Orlando Hernández to revert what was an irreversible trend in favour of his opponent. Having the US empire on your side will allow you to overrule statistics. This was so blatant that even the OAS and EU missions had to raise questions. But in the end Hernández was declared the winner, the State Dept. gave its approval and all these champions of democracy fell in line.

An even more shameful event took place in the Haiti presidential election of 2011. After the first round, the US (through the OAS), simply ordered the Haitian authorities to advance Michel Martelly to the second round, despite him not being one of the two most voted in the first round. They threatened to cut off all aid if this did not happen. So when these officials talk about the OAS as some guarantor of decency, not even they believe it themselves.

Democracy and elections

A small digression: we do not mean to equate democracy with elections like US officials constantly do in the above statements. The Venezuelan leaders have on occasion also fallen for this reductionism. Whether they believe it or not, it is the most obvious way to expose the western hypocrisy on the matter.

This reduction of democracy to voting has been one of the biggest triumphs of capitalist hegemony. People are effectively convinced that their entire political participation should be the single act of marking a cross on a ballot every 4 or 5 years. Politics is thus detached from the rest of society and “commodified” like everything else in capitalism, with campaigns becoming mere advertising shows and the wealthiest literally buying their influence.

The Bolivarian Revolution is revolutionary precisely because it challenged the inevitability of representative politics and opened new spaces for protagonist, participatory democratic experiments. From the communes to workers councils, even to the constituent processes, and despite the natural contradictions that have emerged, we have seen an expansion of democracy in its literal sense – popular power.

Hands Off Venezuela!

In the end it seems like the ideal scenario for the US would be something like the Yemeni model: a single, US-backed candidate on the ballot. With elections coming up this year in key US allied countries (Brazil, Colombia and Mexico), all of which have the potential to bring to power someone less friendly to US interests, the US cannot afford a defeat in Venezuela.

These arrogant, imperial demands that the Venezuelan elections should satisfy are just meant to provide cover for the growing threats and aggression against Venezuela, and the uncritical echo chamber that the media has become on this matter is a crucial asset. With suggestions of an upcoming oil embargo against Venezuela, at this point the goal is clearly to impose as much suffering as possible on the Venezuelans in order to topple the government.

For all its lofty rhetoric, the State Department is not looking out for the well-being of the Venezuelan people. Neither are its Venezuelan and regional puppets, nor the mainstream media, whose positions are simply State Dept. communiques with make-up. Standing up to these shameless imperialist attacks is essential if we wish to stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan poor and working-class, allowing them to freely choose their path, both in the upcoming elections and beyond.


(1) “Courageous” is not the first adjective that comes to mind regarding lapdogs

(2) A possible exception is the gubernatorial race in the state of Bolívar last October, where some electoral acts were circulated on social media showing a mismatch with regard to the electronic totals in the CNE website. But, perhaps because it would undermine the other constant claims of fraud, the opposition did not press the case.

March 7, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Venezuela Rejects Trump’s Renewal of Obama “Extraordinary Threat” Designation

Venezuelanalysis | March 5, 2018

Venezuela issued a statement Saturday slamming the Trump administration for its renewal of an executive order branding the South American country an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to U.S. national security.

“The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela denounces the continued aggression of the U.S. regime by extending the executive order that qualifies Venezuela as an ‘unusual and extraordinary threat’ to U.S. security,” reads the text of a communique issued by Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry.

On Friday, the White House opted to renew for a third time Executive Order 13692, which was originally signed by President Barack Obama on March 8, 2015. The decree declares a “national emergency with respect to the situation in Venezuela” and authorizes the application of U.S. sanctions.

Caracas hit back at Washington, describing the latest executive order as intended to “promote and justify the overthrow of the legitimate and constitutionally elected government of President Nicolas Maduro.”

“By extending the executive order, the U.S. regime intends to present itself as a victim, when the entire world recognizes it as the great victimizer. Washington assumes aggression and has transformed the world into an increasingly insecure place, which represents a real threat to international peace and security.”

Renewing the executive order, the statement continues, is a “crime of aggression punishable by international law” that seeks to encourage foreign intervention in Venezuela’s affairs and sway the outcome of May 20 elections.

At the same time, Bolivian President Evo Morales posted a message on Twitter deriding the U.S. government’s latest gesture against the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

“The United States qualifies our sister Venezuela as a ‘threat,’ but with the United States’ background of financing coups, manipulating elections in 81 countries and killing hundreds of thousands with atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the United States is the real threat to the world,” Morales wrote.

The renewal of the executive order comes as the Trump administration says it is “considering a lot of different economic and diplomatic options in dealing with Venezuela.”

“We have said we are considering all options to restore democracy to Venezuela, including individual and potentially financial sanctions,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a press conference on Thursday.

Edited and with additional reporting by
Source: teleSUR English

March 5, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment

There Is No Humanitarian Crisis in Venezuela, Says UN Expert

Alfred de Zayas: Sanctions and economic warfare aggravate the smuggling of medicines and food on the border with Colombia | Photo: AVN
teleSUR | February 20, 2018

The American lawyer and historian, Alfred de Zayas, an expert in the field of human rights, warned about the use of the term humanitarian crisis to intervene in Venezuela and overthrow the current government.

Alfred de Zayas, the independent expert of the United Nations (UN) on the Promotion of an International Democratic and Equitable Order, concluded after his visit to Venezuela that this country does not suffer a humanitarian crisis, unlike countries in Africa or Asia where there are wars and famine.

“I have compared the statistics of Venezuela with that of other countries and there is no humanitarian crisis, of course there is scarcity, anxiety and shortages but who has worked for decades for the United Nations and knows the situation of countries in Asia, Africa and some of America, knows that the situation in Venezuela is not a humanitarian crisis,” Zayas said in an interview for teleSUR.

The independent expert arrived in Venezuela on November 27 and held meetings with government officials, victims of human rights violations and the violence of the so-called guarimbas (violent protests by the opposition) in order to learn about the political, economic and social situation of the country.

He explained that although many think that the country is on the verge of disaster, as media outlets do, “Venezuela suffers an economic war, a financial blockade, suffers a high level of smuggling and, of course, needs international solidarity to solve these problems.”

He also believes that the international community should work in solidarity with Venezuela to lift the sanctions, “because these are the ones that worsen the shortage of food and medicine, it is unbearable to think that having a malaria crisis in the Venezuelan Amazon, Colombia has blocked the sale of medicines and Venezuela had to obtain it in India.”

The expert affirms that the current discourse of humanitarian crisis on the part of US spokespersons, besides being invalid, only pursues the change of regime in Venezuela, “since 1999, a series of States want regime change in Venezuela , that desire to destroy the Bolivarian Revolution and to repeal all the social laws adopted in the mandates of (Hugo) Chávez and (Nicolás) Maduro.”

Zayas denounced the invisibility of his visit to Venezuela in the dominant media, which in his opinion are not interested in disseminating a complete picture of the situation in this country.

The expert told teleSUR that the normal thing, being a senior official of the United Nations, secretary of the Human Rights Committee and head of the complaints department of the UN High Commissioner, is that when he pronounces on a subject, in general, media such as BBC and The New York Times collect and publish their statements.

However, “in the case of Venezuela both CNN and the BBC have ignored me, it is as if my visit to Venezuela had not taken place, as if I had not visited it”, which qualifies as public manipulation, adding that only teleSUR and Sputnik has interviewed him.

The American historian also noted that certain organizations called “non-governmental but whose loyalties are doubtful”, do not want independent experts, “they want experts to come to the country to condemn, that’s why when they name and know me internationally, they said that I was not the relevant rapporteur to talk about Venezuela.”

The United Nations office received letters of complaint from abroad about Zayas’ visit to Venezuela, in which the points he had to investigate were required, “I considered that an interference with my independence, I am the rapporteur, I determine my program I know what information is relevant to my report, but I do not want the report to be dictated to me and some non-governmental organizations suggested me in an uncourteous way with insulting letters, saying what I had to do when I was Venezuela.”

March 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Amnesty International Winks at Trump’s Economic Attack on Venezuelans

By Joe Emersberger | CounterPunch | March 2, 2018

Amnesty International told me that it “does not take a position on the current application” of U.S. economic sanctions that Trump’s administration imposed on Venezuela in August “but rather emphasizes the urgent need to address the serious crisis of the right to health and food which Venezuela is facing. In terms of human rights, it is the Venezuelan state’s responsibility to resolve this.”  Amnesty’s full reply to three questions I asked them by email can be read here.

The expression that “silence gives consent” applies perfectly to Amnesty’s stance which tacitly endorses Trump’s aggression against the Venezuelan people. To make this even more obvious, Amnesty also refused to condemn remarks by Rex Tillerson and Marco Rubio that encourage a military coup in Venezuela. Asked to comment on those remarks Amnesty replied that it ”believes that a responsible discussion on the current state of human rights in Venezuela should not be focused on statements made by parties outside the country and context”.

In the middle of an already grave economic crisis, the sanctions will cost Venezuela’s government billions of dollars this year. Its $64 billion USD in outstanding foreign currency bonds are all governed by New York Law, but the sanctions have outlawed Venezuela from borrowing or selling assets in the U.S. financial system. Debt restructuring is therefore made impossible and it blocks the government from rolling over its bonds (offsetting principal costs by issuing new debt). The sanctions also block CITGO, a U.S. based company owned the by the Venezuelan government, from sending its profits or dividends (which have totaled about $2.5 billion USD since 2015) back to Venezuela.

U.S. sanctions, which are illegal under of chapter 4 article 19 of the OAS Charter, are a direct assault on the Venezuelan peoples’ “right to health and food”.  There is no avoiding this conclusion even if you believe the worst that has been said about Venezuela’s government. You’ll find it extremely hard to learn from the international media, but sanctions are not supported by most Venezuelans according to the same opposition-aligned pollster (Datanalisis) that the media has cited ad nauseam about Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s approval rating.

According to Datanalisis, about 45% of the population received cash bonuses the government paid out over the past three months. Another opposition source – a group of Venezuelan academics who produce the annual ENCOVI surveys – claim that 87% of households have received direct food handouts from the government.  The ENCOVI study is especially dubious as Jacob Wilson has explained, and its 87% figure is probably a wild exaggeration, but even if an accurate estimate is closer to 50%, the depravity of Trump’s sanctions and Amnesty’s refusal to denounce them should be clear from statistics produced by opposition sources.

Decent people were outraged by the sanctions that the U.S. and its allies imposed on Iraq during the 1990s – a country that really was ruled by a dictator.  They should be even more outraged that the same gang of states that devastated Iraq has been able to target a democracy thanks to a propaganda system in which big NGOs like Amnesty play an important part.

Incidentally, the impact of the U.S. sanctions dwarfs any offers of humanitarian aid that have been made. That hasn’t stopped headlines like “Why won’t the country accept aid?”, and articles that invariably fail to explore what has been offered and how it compares to billions of dollars lost due to illegally imposed U.S. sanctions. The annual program expenditures of groups like Caritas ($4 million) and the Pan American Development Foundation ($81 million) are a drop in the ocean compared to the impact of the sanctions.

I was disgusted but not surprised by Amnesty’s tacit support for Trump’s aggression against Venezuela for several reasons.

In 2010, Amnesty put out a statement claiming that there was only one TV broadcaster in Venezuela that had not been shut down by the government – an absolutely preposterous claim. Could the world renowned organization not afford to pay somebody to watch some Venezuelan TV or do any basic research?

Amnesty refused to recognize Chelsea Manning as a Prisoner of Conscience on ridiculous grounds, but has given that designation to Leopoldo Lopez – a man involved with four different attempts to violently overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected government. One of them, in April of 2002, was briefly successful.

When the US government (helped by its trusty allies Canada and France) overthrew Haiti’s democratically elected president in 2004 and installed a dictatorship that ruled with tremendous brutality for two years, Amnesty’s response was seriously marred by political cowardice and double standards. About the kindest thing you could say about Amnesty’s work in Haiti, and in general, is that Human Rights Watch (HRW) has been even worse. For example, it took HRW years longer than Amnesty to make any serious contribution to the fight to hold the UN mission in Haiti accountable for killing 10,000 Haitians by bringing cholera in to the country in 2010. The key facts were well known by at least 2011 (as you can see from this petition) years before Amnesty took any significant action in 2015.

Norman Finkelstein’s latest book “Gaza: An Inquest into its Martyrdom” has a chapter devoted to thoroughly dissecting Amnesty’s reports on Israel’s savage “Protective Edge” assault on Gaza in 2014. Finkelstein wrote “By supplying Israel with pretexts for atrocities that were among the most heinous it committed during Protective Edge, Amnesty conveniently eased the burden of Israeli hasbara [propagandists]”.

In an email exchange I had with Amnesty regarding Syria in 2012, Amnesty defended a position which told Saudi Arabia, perhaps the most brutal and backward government on earth, to merely be careful about which rebels it armed in Syria. At the same time, Amnesty called for an arms embargo on almost entirely defenseless Palestinians.

Amnesty has repeatedly showed that it is not willing or able to denounce the brutality of the U.S. government or its allies to anywhere near the extent that it should. One can have a long discussion about why that’s the case, but an appalling track record has been well established.  People who live in United States, or in countries like Canada which regularly provide political cover for U.S. crimes abroad, will have to work around and even against NGOs like Amnesty International to prevent their governments from continuing to destroy one country after another.

March 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Maple Leafs swimming in choppy Canadian imperial waters

By Yves Engler · March 2, 2018

Hey Maple Leafs, be careful which traditions you honour.

On Saturday the Leafs play an outdoor game against the Washington Capitals at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. To mark the occasion the team created a jersey with the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) “Ready, Aye, Ready” motto on it. The website unveiling the sweaters includes a brief history of the RCN, and Leafs President Brendan Shanahan said the jerseys were designed to honour “the traditions of the Royal Canadian Navy” whose sailors “stand always ready to defend Canada and proudly safeguard its interests and values whether at home or abroad.”

Sounds all maple syrupy, but there are a couple of nagging questions: Whose “interests and values” are we talking about? Should we honour all their traditions?

For example, in 1917 the Royal Bank loaned $200,000 to unpopular Costa Rican dictator Federico Tinoco just as he was about to flee the country. A new government refused to repay, saying the Canadian bank knew Tinoco was likely to steal it. “In 1921,” reports Royal Military College historian Sean Maloney in Canadian Gunboat Diplomacy, “Aurora, Patriot and Patrician helped the Royal Bank of Canada satisfactorily settle an outstanding claim with the government of that country.”

In 1932 RCN destroyers Skeena and Vancouver assisted a month-old military coup government that brutally suppressed a peasant and Indigenous rebellion in El Salvador. London had informed Ottawa that a “communist” uprising was underway and there was “a possibility of danger to British banks, railways and other British lives and property” as well as a Canadian-owned utility. Bolstered by the RCN’s presence, the military regime would commit “one of the worst massacres of civilians in the history of the Americas.”

In 1963 two Canadian naval vessels joined U.S., British and French warships, reports Maloney, that “conducted landing exercises up to the [Haiti’s] territorial limit several times with the express purpose of intimidating the Duvalier government.” That mission was largely aimed at guaranteeing that Haiti did not make any moves towards Cuba and that a Cuban-inspired guerrilla movement did not seize power.

Two years later, thousands of U.S. troops invaded the Dominican Republic to stop a left-wing government from taking office. Alongside the U.S. invasion, a Canadian warship was sent to Santo Domingo in April 1965, in the words of Defence Minister Paul Hellyer, “to stand by in case it is required.”

After dispatching three vessels during the first Iraq war in 1991, Canadian warships were part of U.S. carrier battle groups enforcing brutal sanctions. In 1998 HMCS Toronto was deployed to support U.S. airstrikes on Iraq. In the months just before and after the second U.S.-led invasion of Iraq at least 10 Canadian naval vessels conducted maritime interdictions, force-support and force-projection operations in the Arabian Sea. Canadian frigates often accompanied U.S. warships used as platforms for bombing raids in Iraq. A month before the commencement of the U.S. invasion, Canada sent a command and control destroyer to the Persian Gulf to take charge of Taskforce 151 — the joint allied naval command. Opinion sought by the Liberal government concluded that taking command of Taskforce 151 could make Canada legally at war with Iraq.

In 2011 HMCS Charlottetown and Vancouver were dispatched to enforce a UN arms embargo on Libya. But, they allowed weapons, including from Canadian companies, to flow to anti-Gadhafi rebels. They also helped destroy Libyan government naval vessels.

Last summer HMCS Ottawa and Winnipeg participated in “freedom of navigation” operations alongside U.S., Japanese, Australian and other countries’ warships in disputed areas of the South China Sea. Chinese vessels responded by “shadowing” the Canadian vessels for 36 hours.

The honest truth is that the RCN is employed mostly to advance corporate and Western geostrategic interests, something many of us would prefer not to honour.

A Canucks and Canadiens fan, I confess to having hated the Leafs before they partnered with the navy. 

March 3, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

The NICA Act – What Is It and Why Should it be Opposed?

By John Perry | NicaNotes | February 28, 2018

NicaNotes: US Ambassador Laura Dagu reportedly has said that the Senate could vote on the NICA Act “any day now.” It is important that we let our Senators know that we oppose its passage and that the arguments for it are based on false premises.

John Perry provides below a comprehensive counter argument especially crafted to respond to points made by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in a response to a constituent.

The Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act (NICA Act), was first introduced in the House of Representatives in July 2016 by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) where it passed by unanimous consent but died in the Senate without hearings or a vote. Reintroduced and passed by the House by unanimous consent in 2017, the NICA Act would require the US’s representatives on a range of international lending institutions to vote against loans and grants to Nicaragua, until Nicaragua takes “effective steps to hold free, fair, and transparent elections.” The US has effective veto power in most of the multilateral lending institutions. The NICA Act goes on to make Nicaragua’s access to the international banking system also contingent on Nicaragua showing that it will “promote democracy, as well as an independent judiciary system and electoral council,” “strengthen the rule of law” and “respect the right to freedom of association and expression.” It does not define any of these terms but requires that the Secretary of State “certifies and reports to the appropriate congressional committees” that the requirements are being met.

Responding to Senator Patrick Leahy

Among those co-sponsoring the bill in the Senate are Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who has a strong interest in Central American issues and has supported the drive to restore democracy in Honduras after a military coup and electoral fraud in that country. He has held up the disbursement of a percentage of US military aid to Guatemala and Honduras based on human rights violations.

Senator Leahy responded to a constituent who wrote to him to oppose the NICA Act, that he was concerned “… about basic human rights and accountable governance in Nicaragua, conditions for free and fair elections, and an independent judiciary, which currently do not exist in that country.” He wrote, “The Ortega government is known for its corrupt practices, control of the courts and the electoral commission, and abuse of human rights, and we should not support taxpayer funded loans to that government unless it is meeting basic requirements that benefit the Nicaraguan people.”

This paper looks at these arguments and also at the possible effects of the NICA Act if it were to be implemented.

Human Rights in Nicaragua

Anyone living in or visiting Nicaragua will attest to the fact that it is one of the safest countries in Latin America, with the lowest regional homicide rate, a police force regarded as a model in the region for its community-based policing, few if any violent gangs, effectiveness in tackling drug trafficking and the corruption often linked to it, respect for LGBT rights, absence of murders of political figures or journalists, absence of political prisoners and the presence of a free press. Those with knowledge of countries such as Guatemala and Honduras often also remark on the uninhibited political discussions that it is possible to have with ordinary Nicaraguans, who are not afraid to share their opinions and often do so vociferously, in contrast to neighbouring countries. The notion that their ‘human rights’ are being suppressed is not one that would be popularly recognised.

Freedom of Expression

Three main national newspapers publish independently, without any restrictions, two strongly opposing the current government while the third is more balanced. TV channels are owned both by opposition groups and by government-supporting groups and the former often contain programs critical of government policies or government figures. There have never been attempts to close down opposition TV channels. Unlike Honduras, there are no plans to censure social media and everyone has free access to internet in public spaces such as parks. Telecommunications, internet providers, etc. are all private companies.

Reporters Without Borders ranks Nicaragua 92 out of 180 countries for freedom of expression. It is true that it has fallen several places since its last assessment, but it is still well above nearby countries such as Panama, Honduras, Mexico and Colombia, as well as most of Africa and much of Asia. The argument that there is not a ‘free press’ is therefore without any justification.

There have been claims by opposition groups of repression of political demonstrations. While there have been clashes between police and protestors on some occasions, it is clear these often result from provocative acts by demonstrators. In any event – to take one example – one of the main groups protesting the construction of the planned interoceanic canal has been able to hold more than 80 demonstrations (even though its supporters often carry weapons such as machetes to the demonstrations). Criticisms of the government are commonly voiced in conversation and no one would take seriously any assertion that people are afraid to make their opinions known.

Other Aspects of Human Rights

Nicaragua is judged by the World Economic Forum to be one of the best countries in the world for gender equality, occupying 6th position out of 145 countries. It scores particularly highly in political empowerment, health and education. It has the fifth highest share of female parliamentarians in the world.

Nicaragua is also judged by the UN to rank 45th in the ‘world happiness index’ which assesses matters such as gross national product, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make choices, generosity and perceived corruption. Nicaragua was the country that made most progress in these indices in 2017, of 155 examined by the UN.

Domestic violence remains a considerable problem in Nicaragua but one that is being addressed by the Ministry of the Family, the police and the courts. Nicaragua has an incidence level of 0.29 on an international index of domestic violence, which is unsatisfactory but better than most other Latin American countries and better than the United States (0.35).

One region of Nicaragua remains problematic in human rights terms – part of the north-eastern corner of the country, bordering Honduras. There have been numerous deaths in the past few years in struggles for land rights between settlers from elsewhere in Nicaragua and indigenous communities. However in 2017 there was a considerable reduction in such deaths compared with 2015 and 2016.

Accountable Governance and Free and Fair Elections

It is important to note that support for the current government is high, consistently two-thirds or more of those questioned in independent polls by CID-Gallup, M&R Consultants, Borge Associates, etc. President Daniel Ortega and other government functionaries such as the head of police also maintain high levels of public support in such polls. Given the ineffectiveness of opposition political parties in developing any alternative program for governance, the fact that Ortega has twice been returned to power since 2007, should not be surprising.

The most recent, November 2017, elections were for municipalities – mayors, vice-mayors, and city councils. During the preparations for these elections Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was promoting the NICA Act because of the alleged inadequacy of the electoral arrangements. Yet the US government subsequently welcomed the ‘transparency’ that it considered had been brought to the elections by the presence of OAS observers. The OAS had 60 staff working in the country during the election period. Its report identified ‘weaknesses typical of all electoral processes’ that have “not affected substantially the popular will expressed through the vote.” The Nicaraguan government has accepted the criticisms and pledged to work with the OAS to continue to strengthen the institutionality and transparency of its electoral processes.


It is true that there are problems of corruption in Nicaragua, but it is far from evident that these are worse than many other Latin American countries. All of the neighbouring countries, from Mexico to Colombia, and including Costa Rica and Panama, have had well-publicized and recent incidents of corruption at high levels of government, as we have seen with the arrest and imprisonment of a former president in Guatemala, accusations of corruption in the recent expansion of the Panama Canal, and many others. The president of Costa Rica until 2014, Laura Chinchilla, is currently accused of 14 cases of corruption. As is well known, corruption is rife in Honduras and has required a special commission established by the OAS, the president of which resigned recently because of lack of co-operation from the Honduran government.

In Nicaragua, in contrast, any accusations of corruption are rarely accompanied by any detail from the accusers. One recent exception is the allegations against Roberto Rivas, president of the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), who was sanctioned by the US government in December. In response to concerns, in February the Nicaraguan government removed the majority of Rivas’ functions as head of the CSE and handed them to his deputy.

An example of positive action by Nicaragua against corruption is in measures to tackle money laundering. Nicaragua is regularly assessed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international body which monitors each country’s efforts to tackle money laundering and financing of terrorism. Until two years ago, Nicaragua was on the FATF’s list of ‘high risk’ countries. However at that point it was removed from the FATF ‘high risk’ list, because it is co-operating with international bodies in strengthening its controls against money laundering. The last report on the Nicaraguan economy from the IMF recognized the advances made against money laundering and called on the government to continue the efforts it is making in this respect.

Independent Judiciary

Nicaragua recognizes that there are problems of corruption in the judiciary and has a program to tackle this systematically by removing judges who are proved to be corrupt. Judges are nominated by the President and elected by the National Assembly in a process similar to the United States and most Western democracies. Given that the Sandinista party has been in power for over 10 years, it is simply a function of democracy that most judicial officials lean toward Sandinismo just as it was logical that from 1990-2007 very few judges were Sandinista sympathizers.

Meeting Basic Requirements that Benefit the Nicaraguan People

Senator Leahy stated that the Nicaraguan government is not “meeting basic requirements that benefit the Nicaraguan people,” a statement that just does not conform to independent reports of social and economic progress. These advances since 2007 when Ortega returned to the presidency include:

• Being the first country to meet the UN Millennial Development Goals for tackling malnutrition, for which it was praised by the UN.

• Halving levels of poverty and extreme poverty. Between 2009 and 2014, the general poverty rate fell from 42.5% to 29.6% and has since fallen further.

• Being declared a country that is ‘illiteracy free’ by UNESCO.

• Achieving progress on the UN Human Development Index so that it now ranks above Honduras and Guatemala and has a longer life expectancy than either of these countries or El Salvador. Its gender development index is higher than Mexico’s – a far wealthier country.

• Rebuilding many hospitals and ensuring all cities and neighborhoods have access to free health services, including 24-hour health centres as well as public hospitals in many areas.

• Having water and sanitation plans that have substantially increased coverage, leading to the achievement of the corresponding Millennium Development Goals.

• Becoming one of the safest countries in the hemisphere, because of its low levels of violent crime.

• Addressing issues of energy shortages and over dependence on fossil fuels – having inherited a situation in which over 80% of electricity was generated from bunker fuel, the Ortega government has turned Nicaragua into what the World Bank calls “a renewable energy paradise”, reaching 54% of generation from renewables in 2017 and having a goal to reach 90% by 2020. It has also extended electricity coverage from only half the population in 1990 to 94% at the start of 2018.

One outcome of these huge achievements is that – in contrast to the ‘northern triangle’ countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador – Nicaragua produces only a very small proportion of the thousands of undocumented migrants who travel north to Mexico and the US.

Use of International Loans

Nicaragua has access to finance from a number of international institutions which could be ended if the NICA Act were approved and then enforced. The principal institutions are the World Bank and its associated institutions, the IMF, and the Inter-American Development Bank. All three of these have expressed recent satisfaction with the ways in which Nicaragua has spent the finance provided – there have been no allegations of corruption or misuse of funds by these bodies. The IMF has also expressed its concern about the effect on Nicaragua of the NICA Act, if implemented.

Here are examples of how projects benefitting ordinary Nicaraguans would suffer if the NICA Act were enforced and these loans were stopped, and the current attitudes of the World Bank and IDB towards the government of Nicaragua.

World Bank (and International Development Association)

A current, multi-faceted World Bank project improves access to health services and water supply and strengthens land rights. Here are some results reported by the Bank:

• Through “casas maternas,” or maternity waiting homes, maternal and infant health has improved: from 2012 to 2015, the percentage of pregnant women receiving four prenatal controls increased from 50 to 73; institutional deliveries increased from 72 percent to 87 percent; and the percentage of children immunized with the Pentavalent vaccine increased from 88 to 98 in targeted municipal health networks.

• Land rights have been strengthened, benefitting 15 of Nicaragua’s 21 indigenous territories in the historically marginalized Atlantic regions. From 2005 to 2013, through the Land Administration Project (PRODEP), over 104,000 people from 214 communities in five major ethnic groups benefited; 18 percent of the national territory was registered and titled with support of the project.

• From 2009 to 2015, over 168,000 beneficiaries of the Greater Managua Water and Sanitation (PRASMA) Project gained access to reliable water supply and more than 62,000 gained access to sanitation services. In rural areas, from 2008 to 2015, more than 68,000 beneficiaries from the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (PRASNICA) gained access to water supply and sanitation services.

The World Bank has commented on the “efficient division of labor among key development partners” and “the satisfactory pace of implementation” of its projects in Nicaragua. It has praised Nicaragua’s “disciplined macroeconomic policies” enabling it “to shift from crisis control mode to longer-term, pioneering strategies to fight poverty, particularly in remote rural communities.”

Inter-American Development Bank

The IDB currently has over $1 billion of development loans with Nicaragua, including:

• A $133 million loan to improve healthcare in Nicaragua’s ‘Dry Corridor’ (the departments of Nueva Segovia, Madriz, Esteli, Matagalpa and Jinotega). It will fund construction, certification and equipment of hospitals, health centers, health posts and maternity waiting homes as well as actions to improve service quality and train Health Ministry staff members.

• A project supported by the Gates Foundation, aimed at ending malaria in Central America.

• A recently approved $72 million loan to improve access to potable water and basic sanitation in 11 cities in various departments and in the capital, Managua.

The IDB, in a 2015 report, analysed Latin American countries’ institutional capabilities to implement effective, efficient, and transparent public administration. It reported that the governments with the lowest scores on the MfDR in 2007, which included Nicaragua, had taken “significant steps to improve their national public administration systems.” Together with Nicaragua, there were eight other countries achieving “substantial progress” whereas in 15 others progress was only “fair.”

Potential Effects of the NICA Act

The NICA Act could halt financing of the kinds set out above which are usually on ‘soft loan’ terms, with extended pay-back periods and low interest rates.

All of the projects financed by the international bodies on which the US is represented are engaged in poverty-alleviation in some form, in a country which – despite the advances it has made – is still the 2nd or 3rd poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

Furthermore, action by the US may well have a knock-on effect on similar financing by European bodies, such as the EU. The effects would not be felt by Nicaragua’s political classes, but by the poor majority of the population that such projects benefit.

The United States would, arguably, also be acting against its own interests by implementing the NICA Act, for numerous reasons:

• The US has been party to the favorable opinions given by all the main international bodies on the way Nicaragua uses the finance that is provided, with no suggestions of money being diverted for other uses or used corruptly. Its action will therefore be seen as hypocritical, and contrary to the evidence gathered by bodies of which it is an influential member.

• If the drive to reduce poverty were to be drastically affected by the NICA Act, then migration may well increase. As noted above, Nicaraguans contribute little to the undocumented migration that takes place from Central America to the US: this could well change.

• If the US and international bodies “pull out of” Nicaragua, the way is open for it to receive more bilateral help from Asian countries, notably China, Taiwan and Japan, and from Russia. The US would undoubtedly lose influence in its neighbouring region of Central America.

• By singling out Nicaragua for sanctioning via international bodies, the US would be seen as making a political act against a left-of-center government with which it disagrees, especially as the grounds for taking the action are so subjective and difficult to justify, and the action which Nicaragua must take to escape sanctions is vaguely defined and (effectively) at the complete discretion of the Trump administration.

• Practically all Nicaraguan families were damaged in some way by the horrendous Contra War, illegally financed and supported by the US, which ended only 27 years ago. The US has refused to pay reparations for this war, despite being ordered to do so by the International Court of Justice in The Hague (World Court). It resumed its hostility to the Sandinistas and has questioned their electoral success ever since they returned to power in 2007. The NICA Act will be judged as part of a long history of the US undermining the 1979 revolution and the advances made by Nicaraguans over the past 39 years.

Finally, every opinion poll or political analysis of responses in Nicaragua to the NICA Act shows that it is strongly opposed, not only (as would be expected) by the government but by public opinion, NGOs, the private sector, financial institutions, most other political parties, the churches, etc. It is clear that the Act will be self-defeating – it will not be received positively in Nicaragua itself, but will be seen as yet more hostile interference by the US in Nicaragua’s legitimate attempts to reduce poverty and develop economically and socially, with the assistance of international bodies. In effect, the United States will be seen as attacking the poorest people in a neighboring country as a simple act of political vindictiveness.

Contact Your US Representatives to Stop the Nica Act!

(And encourage your friends to as well!)

John Perry lives and works in Masaya, Nicaragua, is a member of the UK Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign and blogs at

March 1, 2018 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

America’s Democracy Hypocrisy

By Thomas Knapp | The Garrison Center | February 27, 2018

In late February, Venezuela’s government began accepting presidential candidate registrations and announced a snap legislative election for April. The country’s opposition denounces the process as a sham and Maduro as a dictator, both of which may be true.

Oddly,  a third voice — the US government — also weighed in. Per US state media outlet Voice of America, “the United States, which under President Donald Trump has been deeply critical of Maduro’s leadership in crisis-torn and economically suffering Venezuela, on Saturday rejected the call for an early legislative vote.”

Given the perpetual public pearl-clutching over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, that’s some major league chutzpah.

The US State Department wants “‘a free and fair election’ involving full participation of all political leaders, the immediate release of all political prisoners, credible international observation and an independent electoral authority.

Let’s take that one at a time.

Participation of all political leaders? In some US states, it’s harder for a third party to get on a ballot than in, say, Iran.

The immediate release of all political prisoners? Last I heard, US president Donald Trump hadn’t pardoned (among others) Leonard Peltier.

Credible international observation? The US proper committed to admitting international election observers in the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe’s 1990 Copenhagen Document, but many US states forbid international observers or, for that matter, local observers who aren’t affiliated with one of the two ruling parties.

Electoral authorities? The two ruling parties control them all and routinely use them to suppress threatened competition, as do pseudo-private entities like the Commission on Presidential Debates, which makes giant illegal (but government approved) in-kind contributions to the Republican and Democratic candidates in the form of televised candidate beauty pageants which exclude the opposition parties.

Writing in The Atlantic, veteran election meddler Thomas O. Mela — formerly of the US State Department, the  US Agency for International Development, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House — argues that election meddling is different when the US does it, because … well, “democracy.”

Mela asserts a “difference between programs to strengthen democratic processes in another country (without regard to specific electoral outcomes), versus efforts to manipulate another country’s election in order to sow chaos, undermine public confidence in the political system, and diminish a country’s social stability.”

The US government spends a lot of time and money (USAID’s budget alone is about one-tenth the budget of the entire Russian government) on foreign election meddling, and somehow “democracy” always gets interpreted as “whatever outcome the US government prefers at the moment.”

Perhaps we should get our own democratic house in order instead of, or at least before, presuming to tell the rest of the world how democracy does or should work.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Argentina: Fernandez Brands ‘Iranian Pact’ Allegations ‘Arbitrary,’ Demands Immediate Trial

teleSUR | February 20, 2018

Argentine senator and former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has requested a public trial be held “immediately” to “expose the arbitrariness of the accusation (against her) to the whole society.” Fernandez is being prosecuted for an alleged cover-up of Iranian officials and citizens accused of perpetrating a terror attack in 1994.

In July 1994 the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), a Jewish community center, was attacked with a car bomb killing 85 people and injuring 300 more.

In a legal recourse sent Monday to judge Claudio Bonadio by Fernandez’s lawyers, Alejandro Rua and Graciana Peñafort, they demand the investigation be elevated to a public trial.

Judge Bonadio prosecuted the former head of state and other former government officials, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Hector Timerman, for concealment and treason.

The treason charge was dropped in a second instance hearing, but the National Chamber of Criminal and Correctional Appeals confirmed the prosecution of the defendants for concealment arguing they covered up Iranians accused of the AMIA attack through a Memorandum of Understanding with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government.

The memorandum, which would have created a Truth Commission to investigate the case, was never applied because it wasn’t ratified by the Iranian parliament.

The case against Fernandez was opened after federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman formally accused her and other politicians in 2013 of covering up Iranian suspects. Nisman was found dead in 2015, before testifying.

A federal judge dismissed the case arguing the minimum conditions to launch a criminal investigation were not met. According to Pagina 12, a local newspaper, five prominent Argentine jurists agreed that there was no crime in Nisman’s accusation. However, the dismissal was revoked last year after an appeal by the Delegation of Israeli Argentine Associations.

In the document elevated to the court by Fernandez’s lawyers, they claim Bonadio’s conclusions “are false and are contradicted by the collected proof,” and clarify they will not request the dismissal because their client “does not expect Justice” from Bonadio’s court.

February 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

WSJ’s Epic Distortion of Colombian and Venezuelan Refugees

By Joe Emersberger | FAIR | February 18, 2018

A Wall Street Journal article by Juan Forero (2/13/18) ran with the headline “Venezuela’s Misery Fuels Migration on Epic Scale.” The subhead stated, “Residents Flee Crumbling Economy in Numbers That Echo Syrians to Europe, Rohingya to Bangladesh.”

Forero’s article quoted a UN official: “By world standards, Colombia is receiving migrants at a pace that now rivals what we saw in the Balkans, in Greece, in Italy in 2015, at the peak of [Europe’s] migrant emergency.” Further on, Forero says, “The influx prompted Colombian officials to travel to Turkey last year to study how authorities were dealing with Syrian war refugees.”

Two enormous problems with the way Forero and his editors have framed this article should immediately stand out:

  1. Colombia’s population of internally displaced people is about 7 million, and has consistently been neck and neck with Syria’s.  According to the UNHCR, as of mid-2016, Colombia is also the Latin American country which has the most number of refugees living outside its borders: over 300,000, mainly in Venezuela and Ecuador. Forero and his editors picked the wrong country to compare with Syria.
  2. Greece and Italy do not share a border with Syria, nor do the Balkans as they are generally defined. Colombia and Venezuela, by contrast, share a very long border. Forero’s comparison, therefore, excludes states that border Syria. Three of those bordering states—Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey—collectively absorbed 4.4 million Syrian refugees by 2016; five years after war broke out in Syria, Turkey alone took in almost 3 million.

It’s very important to expand on the first point.  Colombia is a humanitarian and human rights disaster, and has been for decades, in very large part due to its close alliance with the United States. Thanks to Wikileaks (CounterPunch, 2/23/12), we know that US officials privately acknowledged estimates that hundreds of thousands of people were murdered by right-wing paramilitaries, and that the killings have nearly wiped out some indigenous groups. Those genocidal paramilitaries have worked closely with the Colombian military that Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly praised in 2014 as a “magnificent” US partner.  “They’re so appreciative of what we did for them,” raved Kelly.

Praise for Colombia’s government has also come from the liberal end of the US establishment, albeit with much more subtlety than from Kelly. In 2014, a New York Times editorial (9/21/14) stated that “Colombia, Brazil and other Latin American countries should lead an effort to prevent Caracas from representing the region [on the UN Security Council] when it is fast becoming an embarrassment on the continent.” So to Times editors, Colombia is a regional good guy that must lead its neighbors in shunning Venezuela.

Colombia’s current president, Juan Manuel Santos, was minister of Defense from 2006 to 2009. From 2002 to 2008, the Colombian military murdered about 3,000 civilians, passing them off as slain rebels. As human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik explained (Huffington Post, 11/20/14) , the International Criminal Court (ICC) “concluded that these killings were systemic, approved by the highest ranks of the Colombian military, and that they therefore constituted ‘state policy.’” The murders occurred with the greatest frequency between 2004 and 2008, which Kovalik observed “also corresponds with the time in which the US was providing the highest level of military aid to Colombia.”

If Colombian and US officials evade prosecution for all of this, it will be with the help of corporate media—as well as the severe limitations powerful governments impose on international bureaucracies like the ICC. Kovalik remarked:

You might say, no official of the US can be prosecuted by the ICC because the US has refused to ratify the ICC treaty. While this may appear to be true, this did not stop the ICC from prosecuting officials from the Sudan—also not a signatory to the ICC.

The closest Forero came in his article to even hinting at any of these gruesome facts was when he wrote that “Colombia has long had troubles of its own, including integrating former Communist guerrillas from a civil conflict that only ended recently.”  The “conflict” has not exactly “ended,” given that 170 leftist political leaders and activists were assassinated in 2017.

Putting aside Forero’s epic distortions by omission regarding Colombia, what about his reporting about migration from Venezuela? He wrote:

Nearly 3 million Venezuelans—a tenth of the population—have left the oil-rich country over the past two decades of leftist rule. Almost half that number—some 1.2 million people—have gone in the past two years, according to Tomás Páez, a Venezuelan immigration expert at Venezuela’s Central University.

In April 2002, Páez signed his name to a quarter-page ad in the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional that welcomed the dictatorship of Pedro Carmona, then head of Venezuela’s largest business federation, who was installed after a US-backed military coup briefly ousted the late President Hugo Chavez. I’ve written before (ZNet, 1/16/17) about Western outlets—New York Times (11/25/16), Reuters (10/15/14) and Financial Times (8/22/16)—citing Páez without disclosing his anti-democratic record.

The World Bank has compiled data over the years on the numbers of Venezuelan-born people living abroad. The numbers point to far smaller migrations than Páez has estimated:

Population of Former Venezuelan Residents Living Abroad

Data in table can be found here, here, here and here.

During the years Chavez was in office (1999–2013), the World Bank’s figures tell us Venezuelans living abroad increased by about 330,000. By 2013, Páez was estimating that about 1.3 million had left—about 1 million more than World Bank estimates. Would journalists ignore data published by the World Bank in favor of estimates by Páez if he were a staunch supporter of the Venezuelan government?

During those 1999–2013 years, the World Bank figures also say that the number of Colombian-born people living in Venezuela grew by 200,000. Forero’s article implies that migration from Colombia to Venezuela ended in the “late 20th century.”

The World Bank has not updated migration data past 2013, but there is no doubt there was a huge increase in migration from Venezuela since its economy entered into a very deep crisis starting in late 2014. (For an overview of the important role of US policy in creating the crisis and now deliberately making it much worse, see my op-ed, “US Policy a Big Factor in Venezuela’s Depression”—Tribune News Service, 2/2/18.)

According to a Colombian university study of Venezuelan migration to Colombia, it averaged about 47,000 per year from 2011–2014, then increased to 80,000 per year in 2015–16.

US government data show migration from Venezuela to the United States increasing from about 7,000 per year before 2013 to 28,000 per year by 2015, including Venezuelans who have entered without authorization.

Venezuelan Born Population in the United States

Numbers in the table can be found here and here.

From 2000 to 2013, the United States was the destination for about 30 percent of Venezuelan-born people who left to live abroad, according to the World Bank figures. If the Colombian university study and US government data are accurate, then the United States has been the destination for about 20 percent of Venezuelan migrants after 2013. That would mean about 140,000 Venezuelans per year were leaving to live abroad by 2016.

That is not remotely comparable to the 5 million Syrians who fled the country in the first five years following the civil war—and that doesn’t include over a million per year who fled their homes inside Syria (the internally displaced).

That Forero would even try to force this comparison into his article speaks volumes. It’s not hard to guess why it was made, given that US has bombed Syria regularly and has had Venezuela’s government in its crosshairs for almost two decades.

February 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘US only gets away with meddling because of its UN veto’

RT | February 19, 2018

The US is not allowed to interfere in other countries’ affairs but gets away with it, a former CIA officer told RT. Philip Giraldi added that intelligence agencies’ resources shouldn’t be expended unless there’s a security threat.

Former CIA director James Woolsey admitted the US interfered in other countries’ elections and domestic affairs when it was “for a very good cause in the interests of democracy.”

When asked by Laura Ingraham on her Fox News show on Friday night whether the US interfered in other countries’ elections, he said “Probably, but it was for the good of the system in order to avoid communists taking over.”

His comments followed Friday’s revelation that a US Federal Grand Jury had indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for allegedly interfering with the US 2016 election.

Giraldi told RT that he doesn’t think that CIA or any intelligence agency should have the authority to intervene on the ground that “it is a good cause.”

“Intelligence agencies exist legally because they are there to defend the country against a threat — and a threat could be any kind of threat — but in this case, messing around or doing good things or good works is not necessarily what you have an intelligence agency for. I think that this kind of argument is a false argument; that you should not use this kind of resource unless there is something that is threatening you,” he continued.

According to Giraldi, the US is not allowed to interfere in other countries’ affairs, “it just gets away with it.”

Giraldi explained that the only organization that really could sanction the US in terms of what it does internationally is the UN and the US has a veto.

“The US can stop any kind of action being taken against it when it chooses to act internationally as it has done recently in Syria, as it did in Iraq, as it has done in Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen — there are many examples of what the US has done. And basically it is able to get away with these things because it is able to exercise its veto,” he added.

Giraldi also said that the US has been interfering in other counties’ elections, in the Caribbean and Latin America, since the 1930s.

“When I was in CIA in the 70s and 80s in Europe, I would say that the CIA and the US government basically were interfering in elections — almost every election that was taking place in Europe. There were legitimate concerns about communists getting in government in places like Italy and France, in Spain and Portugal. But other than that, this was just routine that the US wanted a friendly government of a certain type, and was willing to do certain things to enable that to happen,” he noted.

Giraldi pointed out that the US is “basically quite as willing as anybody else to support a dictator, if the dictator is doing what we want him to do.”

“And that is basically what all countries do. Countries use their intelligence and military resources to back up national interests,” he claimed.

Giraldi said he is “still somewhat perplexed about the allegations of these 13 Russians and 3 Russian companies,” as he suspects that this will be “less than it seems in terms of actual interference.”

“If this was a real government intelligence agency effort, it would have been better organized, it would have had better security and it would have had a much bigger budget with more people working on it. And I think in this case we are seeing something that might well be explicable in other terms than trying to destroy our democracy. It could be much ado about nothing,” he said.

February 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

US To Build New Military Base in Northern Argentina

teleSUR | February 11, 2017

Argentine President Mauricio Macri is also letting in more DEA, FBI, and U.S. military forces to control narcotrafficking and terrorism within the country.

Argentina is allowing the U.S. to build a new military base at its northern border with Brazil and Paraguay. Officials of the South American country also announced that it will work with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) at the triple border “to analyze where drugs are coming from.”

Argentina’s Minister of Security, Patricia Bullrich announced in Washington that the Mauricio Macri administration is going to allow the U.S. to build a military base in Posadas, Misiones, bordering Brazil and Paraguay.

Bullrich says her government is creating “an analysis center with Paraguay and Brazil (and the U.S.) to figure out where, how and with whom narco traffickers operate” at the triple border region.

This “task force,” as its being called, will operate in conjunction with the DEA, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the U.S. Southern Command, which watches over U.S. operations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This will be the second task force against drug trafficking in Argentina. The first one was installed in Salta province located near the borders with Bolivia and Chile during the Barack Obama administration.

Bullrich told the press that the DEA initially wanted Argentine officials to send drug samples to the U.S. so the agency could analyze them for their origin. She said this would be against Argentine law and that officials within the country would analyze the drugs.

The U.S. and Argentine functionaries also discussed the suspected presence of Lebanese Hezbollah, an organization the U.S. government considers a terrorist group, at the border shared by Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.

“It’s important for our government to collaborate (with the U.S.) and that they collaborate with us. We’re going to work together at the triple border regarding terrorism. We think we’ll have DEA and other agencies there to better understand what’s happening in the region,” Bullrich assured the press.

The minister of security also met with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials in Washington to discuss their training of Argentine Federal Police.

After leaving Washington Bullrich flew to Miami to meet with the chief of U.S. Southern Command, Admiral Kurt W. Tidd and the Defense Minister of Argentina, Oscar Aguad.

Admiral Tidd was recently in Colombia meeting with its military forces.

Human rights organizations are protesting the increased U.S. military presence in Latin American and the Caribbean.

The former Argentine ambassador to Venezuela and the United Kingdom, Alicia Castro, tweeted of Bullrich’s proposed policies, “Do you want to see how the U.S. … ‘combats terrorism’? Look at the Middle East devastated. And ‘combating narcotrafficking’? Look at the cartels and assassinations in Colombia y Mexico, the places where the DEA intervenes.”

February 12, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 3 Comments