Caracas – Russia’s Foreign Ministry has spoken out against “outside” efforts to destabilise Venezuela, warning against the consequences of imposing “colour scenarios” on the South American nation.
On Monday, Russian news agency Tass and Sputnik International reported that Russia’s Foreign Ministry had released an official statement addressing the current situation in Venezuela.
“The upsurge of tensions in Venezuela is being fed from outside,” asserted the Foreign Ministry statement.
“We are confident that a political solution to Venezuelan problems is to be found by the Venezuelan people who have elected its legitimate authorities… Destructive interference from outside is inadmissible,” it continued.
The South American country has been suffering from a worsening economic crisis for the past two years and is currently locked in a political stand-off between the executive branch and the opposition controlled legislature.
In firm language, the declaration also reminded other global powers that “no-one has the right to impose ‘color scenarios’ on Venezuela, referring to the outside financing of “proxy” organisations aimed at destabilising the national government.
Russia also warned that current tensions in Venezuela risk spilling over into open conflict on the nation’s streets, bringing “serious consequences” for the rest of the region.
Moscow’s remarks come as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) begins to take tentative steps towards opening up negotiations between Venezuela’s two warring political factions: the leftist government of Nicolas Maduro, and the rightwing political coalition, the MUD, which currently controls the National Assembly.
However, escalating rumours of a possible coup against the national government in recent weeks are threatening to dampen hopes of a rapprochement.
The MUD has pledged to remove Maduro through a variety of “constitutional” means since taking hold of the legislature last December.
Nonetheless, Russia said it backed a UNASUR negotiated solution to the crisis and asked both sides to “cool down” their emotions. It also confirmed it would be open to participating in negotiation efforts in Venezuela if requested.
“We are confident that the main challenge facing Venezuela at the moment is to find realistic ways out of the economic crisis, improve the social situation of broad layers of the population… It is obvious that this is possible only in conditions of internal political tranquility,” asserted the foreign ministry declaration.
Although Moscow didn’t name the “outside” influences which it cites as exacerbating tensions in Venezuela, it is possible that the US has caught the Kremlin’s eye.
Just last week, Russia’s Vice-minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergéi Ryabkov, said that his government believed that Washington was intensifying its attempts to directly “interfere” in Latin American affairs to the detriment of the region.
He cited a swing to the right in Argentina’s government, as well as the recent controversial impeachment of Brazil’s left leaning president, Dilma Rousseff, as examples.
Brazil’s interim government has been rattled by a leaked audio tape suggesting a plot against suspended President Dilma Rousseff, a scandal that forced a key minister in the new cabinet to resign.
Brazilian Planning Minister Romero Juca, a close ally of acting President Michel Temer, said Monday he is stepping down.
The decision came a day after a Brazilian newspaper published the transcript of a secretly-taped conversation between him and Sérgio Machado, a former senator.
Juca was caught on the tape saying Rousseff needed to be removed in an attempt to quash a vast corruption investigation that implicated him and other politicians, in what analysts call a first major political blow to the acting administration.
“We have to change the government to be able to stop this bleeding,” he was reportedly recorded saying.
Juca admitted earlier in the day that one of the two voices heard on the tape was his, but said his comments have been misinterpreted and taken out of context.
Later in the conversation, Juca says he talked about his plans to Supreme Sourt justices, who told him the corruption investigation and its media coverage would never come to an end as long as Rousseff remained in power.
The tape was recorded just weeks before the lower house of parliament voted to impeach Rousseff, according to the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, which published chunks of a 75-minute conversation on Monday.
The impeachment bid was launched over allegations that the president manipulated government accounts before the last election. Rousseff, however, has denied the allegations.
Earlier this month, Brazil’s upper chamber of the National Congress voted to suspend Rousseff and begin an impeachment trial against her. Acting President Michel Temer stepped up from the post of vice-president and replaced her.
Reacting to the leaks, Rousseff said the tape proves that she has been a victim of a “political coup d’état.”
“This only confirms what we have been talking about for some time: it confirms the coup against Dilma,” said Paulo Rocha, the Senate leader for the Workers’ Party of Rousseff.
Ever since her suspension, the Latin American country has been the scene of nationwide demonstrations.
On Friday protesters took to the streets of Sao Paulo, calling for the resignation of Temer. They held banners and chanted slogans to support Rousseff.
The latest thematic report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concerning Colombia makes for shocking though quite important reading. In short, it details human rights abuses on a massive scale, and lays the blame for these abuses chiefly upon the right-wing paramilitaries aligned with the Colombian State. Citing Colombia’s Center for Historical Memory, the IACHR concludes that Colombia, with its over 6 million internally displaced persons, is indeed “a displaced nation.”
Exhibit at Center for Historical Memory, Showing Personal Effects of “False Positive” Victim
As the IACHR explains, the paramilitaries were responsible for 72% of the attacks recorded in the first half of 2015. Incredibly, the Colombian State, along with its U.S. sponsor, insist that the paramilitaries (also known as Autodefensas) no longer exist as a result of a demobilization (largely faked) back in 2003-2006. And, it is this very denial, the IACHR points out, which allows the paramilitaries to carry out their reign of terror with near complete impunity. After all, the State will not dismantle or prosecute what it claims does not even exist.
As explained in the report, “during 2015 the IACHR has continued receiving information about actions of the illegal armed groups that emerged after the demobilization and which are identified as being related or having among their members, persons that belonged to paramilitary groups who, in many cases allegedly continue acting under the protection of State agents.”
The misdeeds the paramilitaries are carrying out under State protection include disappearances, of which there were an incredible 3,400 during the first 7 months of 2015 alone. In all, the IACHR reports that there have been a total of between 45,000 and 61,918 forced disappearances in Colombia in the past 30 years. Thus, there have potentially been more than three times the disappearances in Colombia than in Argentina during all of the Dirty War years. And, of course, with such disappearances come mass graves, of which Colombia has many – 4,519 of them to be exact, with 5,817 bodies exhumed from them so far.
Meanwhile, the IACHR reported on the fact that at least 5,736 individuals were the victims of extrajudicial executions by the Colombian State forces between 2000 and 2010 – that, is during the period of the U.S.’s major military support for Colombia known as Plan Colombia. Nearly all of these executions were “false positive” killings in which the Colombian military murdered innocent civilians – many of them young, unemployed men – and then dressed them up as guerillas to justify to the U.S. the military assistance the Colombian military was receiving for counter-insurgency purposes. And, while the rate of such killings has decreased since 2010, they nonetheless continue, with 230 reported cases since then.
To the extent Colombia is covered at all in the mainstream press these days, one rarely gets a glimpse into the horror show which is taking place in that country. And, casual visitors to places such as Bogota or Medellin would rarely get a glimpse of this either. This is so because the lion’s share of the violence described above is taking place in the more remote areas where Colombia’s Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities live, and it is these communities which are suffering the brunt of this violence.
As the IACHR explains, these communities are largely “invisible” in Colombian society, “are victims of racial discrimination and disproportionately affected by violence, forced displacement, poverty and social exclusion.” In addition, “the majority of victims of sexual violence in armed conflict are Afro-descendant and indigenous women.” And, impunity for sexual violence in Colombia is near total “given that sexual violence against women would be perpetrated mainly by paramilitary, but also by agents of the government . . . .”
As for the issue of poverty, these communities are suffering from some of the most extreme versions of it, and live in conditions of misery which residents in the major cities are often shielded from. For example, in Choco – a town nestled in between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and populated by mostly Afro-Colombian and indigenous – the infant mortality rate is 42.69 per 1000. This figure is higher than that of post-invasion Iraq, and nearly as high as that in such countries as Burma, Bangladesh, Namibia and Haiti. Meanwhile, in Bogota, the figure is 12.88 per 1000. These figures underscore the incredible inequities and disparity in wealth which make Colombia one of the most unequal societies on earth, with a very stark divide along racial and ethnic lines.
However, the violence against Afro-Colombians and indigenous is not just the product of racism, but is also the product of the unfettered capital penetration of their rich, ancestral land. As the IACHR points out, large scale megaprojects – many of them mining projects – “have led to the appropriation of Afro-Colombian’s collective territories, and have resulted in “brutal forced displacements, massive violence and selective assassinations.”
And, of course, many of these megaprojects are owned, in whole or in part, by North American companies to which the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has opened Colombia wide open.
An example of such a deadly megaproject detailed in the IACHR report is the port expansion of Buenaventura, a town which is 90% Afro-Colombian. This port expansion was carried out to facilitate the trade and tourism created by the FTA. And, the struggle of the paramilitaries to control the wealth generated by the port expansion has led to the forced disappearances of hundreds of Buenaventura residents “and the operation of ‘chop houses’ (casa de pique)” where people are chopped up alive.
Like the Colombian and U.S. governments denials of the existence of the paramilitary death squads, the very failure of our mainstream media to acknowledge or discuss the existence of the above-described crimes allows them to continue. Thus, the U.S. government is able to continue supporting the Colombian military, and by extension its paramilitary allies, and North American multi-nationals are able to keep violently exploiting the Colombian people and their land by virtue of the fact that we are kept in the dark about this reality by a press corps which is failing in its duty to report on such matters of public concern. It is only by breaking this silence around these crimes that we have any chance of stopping them.
Daniel Kovalik lives in Pittsburgh and teaches International Human Rights Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Venezuelan authorities did not carry firearms to the protests in Caracas and several authorities were injured by violent protesters. (AVN)
Caracas – Seven individuals were arrested for allegedly attacking Venezuelan police during a violent opposition march in Caracas on Wednesday that left five officers injured.
The march was part of nationwide mobilizations convoked by the right-wing opposition coalition, the MUD, protesting alleged stalling by the National Electoral Council (CNE). The CNE is in the process of validating the 1.85 million signatures collected by the coalition for a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro.
The MUD called for supporters to march to the CNE headquarters in the heavily pro-government city center despite being refused a permit by the El Libertador municipality over concerns of violence.
Bolivarian National Police (PNB) personnel were dispatched to prevent demonstrators from marching along the principal Avenida Libertador where they were attacked by a group of men wielding sticks and rocks.
“A group of people came to attack us. One of the citizens became violent and hit me. The shield protected me the first time, but the second time I fell,” recounts 22 year-old PNB officer Dubraska Alvarez, who suffered post-trauma capsulitis in her right elbow and multiple traumatisms.
Unarmed police beaten by demonstrators (teleSUR)
In a video that has circulated widely on social media, another officer can be seen falling to the ground after receiving a blow from a stick-wielding demonstrator and subsequently being beaten while prostrate by five men with sticks.
Another police functionary, Genessis Llovera Mambie, suffered the dislocation of her right shoulder while officer Erick Escalante came away with post-trauma bursitis in his left shoulder and a knee lesion.
Despite international media reports of police repression against protesters, PNB personnel were prohibited from carrying armaments and were only permitted to use tear gas if authorized by superiors.
“Our only order was to prevent people from entering Avenida Libertador, and we didn’t even have any sort of arms… it was inevitable [that people entered] because we only had shields to protect ourselves physically,” added Alvarez, who declined to show her face to the camera for fear of reprisals.
Seven men suspected of perpetrating the attacks were arrested in the heart of the wealthy eastern Caracas municipality of Chacao on Wednesday afternoon and were subsequently transported to the July 26th Penitentiary in Guarico state where they will await charges.
According to authorities, one of the suspects, Jheremy Bastardo Lugo, is a repeat offender who was reportedly arrested during the 2014 anti-government protests that saw opposition supporters erect violent barricades across the country, leading to the death of 43 people, the majority of whom were state security personnel and passerby.
Student residences vandalized
In addition to the violent incident on Avenida Libertador, protesters are reported to have vandalized a government-constructed student residence in Plaza Venezuela, breaking windows and allegedly attempting to set the building on fire.
“With sticks, stones, and gasoline, they were going to burn down the residence and the guards. I was attacked by hooded men armed with stones and bottles,” said student resident Angel Rodriguez.
“For having a different political ideology, they broke the windows, my comrades were attacked,” another student told teleSUR.
El Libertador Mayor Jorge Rodriguez denounced the day’s violent episodes and vowed to press charges against those responsible.
“This is the reason why we didn’t give them a permit to march to the city center,” he stated, pointing to the broken windows of the student residence.
Capriles blames “infiltrators”
Former opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles publicly blamed the violence on “infiltrators”, calling the incidents a “set up” by the government.
“We know the plan, but we are not going to stop protesting. We are not afraid, we will [protest] in the face of the infiltrators, because it is our duty to fulfill the Constitution,” he stated.
However, Wednesday’s protest was not the only instance in which the Miranda state governor has condoned violent demonstrations.
Last week, the former presidential candidate was also involved in his own confrontation with police, as he and his supporters attempted to physically break a police line in Miranda state.
Following his narrow defeat in the 2013 elections, Capriles also refused to honor the internationally-recognized result, urging his supporters “vent their rage” in street protests that left seven people dead and saw numerous government health clinics and food markets burned.
In the lead up to Wednesday’s protests, Capriles issued a public statement to members of the Venezuelan armed forces, urging them to reject a state of exception expanded by President Maduro on Friday and oppose alleged attempts by the government to block the recall process.
“Prepare the tanks and war planes… the hour of truth is coming to decide whether you are with the constitution or with Maduro,” he declared on Tuesday.
Earlier this week, a special commission responsible for supervising the referendum process announced that 190,000 signatures collected by the opposition as part of the initial recall request belonged to deceased individuals.
The statement has been sharply denounced by opposition leaders who accuse the CNE of intentionally dragging out the process in order to prevent the recall referendum from being held this year.
Unless the referendum is held in 2016, a successful recall vote will not trigger new presidential elections, with the sitting vice-president instead taking over as president for the remainder of the term.
On June 29, 2009, one day after Honduran military leaders ousted their country’s democratically elected president, President Obama publicly branded the coup illegal and denounced it as “a terrible precedent.” Yet even as he spoke, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was ensuring that U.S. aid continued and that major capitals would recognize the new regime.
Human rights activists have long decried her for abandoning democratic rights and values in Honduras. But many have overlooked her cozy embrace of the morally compromised Latin American leader who happened to be sharing the White House podium when Obama made his remarks: Colombian President Álvaro Uribe.
Obama was hosting Uribe to build political support for the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement, which both he and Hillary Clinton had vigorously opposed during the 2008 election campaign. Obama praised Uribe’s “courage” and his “admirabl(e)” progress on human rights and fighting drug cartels since taking office in 2002 — a controversial claim that Clinton’s State Department would certify that September.
A year later, the love affair between the Obama administration and Uribe grew even hotter. After landing in Bogota for an official visit in April 2010, Defense Secretary Robert Gates lauded the “historic” progress that Uribe’s government had made in the war against “narco-traffickers and terrorists.”
“Uribe, in my view, is a great hero and has been an enormously successful president of Colombia,” Gates told reporters.
Human rights campaigners were aghast. In an email to Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, a senior aide to Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern cited Gates as an example of what not to do during Clinton’s upcoming visit to Colombia that June: “The most important thing the Secretary can do is avoid effusive praise for President Álvaro Uribe, who leaves office in August.”
McGovern’s aide cited several damning facts:
–Contrary to claims from Bogota, reports by the General Accountability Office and the U.S. Agency for International Development showed that U.S. aid and Colombia’s anti-drug programs were failing to meet their goals and in some cases were actually stimulating coca production.
–Military killings of civilians were up — with as many as 1,486 civilians killed “during the first six years of Álvaro Uribe’s presidency,” she noted. (The actual number was likely more than double that.)
–There were also “mounting allegations that the President’s intelligence service, the DAS, was put at the service of paramilitary leaders and narco-traffickers; used to spy on and intimidate Supreme Court justices, opposition politicians, journalists and human rights defenders; and employed in a campaign of sabotage and smears against political opponents” of Uribe.
–Dozens of President Uribe’s political supporters were under investigation for corruption and ties to illegal paramilitary units, she reported. “Many are large landholders with ties to narco-trafficking, the same local leaders who created and fostered the brutal pro-government paramilitary groups that killed tens of thousands of non-combatants in the 1990s and early 2000s. . . Those embroiled . . . include the President’s cousin, Mario Uribe; the brother of his former foreign minister; and individuals whom the President had named to be Colombia’s ambassadors to Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Canada.”
In conclusion, she maintained, the real heroes were not Uribe but “Colombian prosecutors, investigators, witnesses and non-governmental organizations trying to uncover the truth about these abuses” under conditions of great personal risk.
Falling on Deaf Ears
Her advice fell on deaf ears. Just one week later, Secretary Clinton was in Bogota to affirm the administration’s strong support for a free trade agreement, and underline Washington’s commitment to helping Uribe “consolidate the security gains of recent years” against “the insurgents, the guerillas, the narco-traffickers, who would wish to turn the clock back.”
Echoing her friend Bob Gates, she added, “because of your commitment to building strong democratic institutions here in Colombia and to nurturing the bonds of friendship between our two countries, you leave a legacy of great progress that will be viewed in historic terms.”
Clinton had nothing to say about the quarter million victims of right-wing paramilitary groups, many of them backed by the military, as reported in a November, 2009 cable from the U.S. embassy in Bogota. Nor did she have anything to say about the more than 2,700 union members murdered since 1986 (including hundreds under Uribe), making Colombia by far the world’s most dangerous place for organized labor.
Secretary Clinton may have been influenced by her husband’s warm relationship with Uribe. As President, he had signed and implemented a multi-year aid package called Plan Colombia, which contributed more than $8 billion to Colombia’s counterinsurgency wars, despite Washington’s full knowledge of the military’s “death-squad tactics” and cooperation with drug-running paramilitary groups.
In retirement, former President Clinton deepened his ties to Uribe and Colombia. In 2005, he introduced Uribe to Canadian mining magnate Frank Guistra, who was a leading donor to the Clinton Global Initiative fund; Guistra was interested in acquiring mineral and oil rights in Colombia. In 2005, Clinton also picked up $800,000 from a Colombia-based group for a speaking tour of Latin America to tout the merits of a U.S-Colombia free trade agreement. (Guistra provided the private jet for Clinton’s tour.)
To further promote the trade pact, Bogota provided a $300,000 P.R. contract to Clinton’s pollster Mark Penn. As part of his publicity campaign, Penn arranged for Uribe to hold an award banquet in honor of Clinton in 2007. Clinton reciprocated by featuring Uribe as an honored guest at his Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting a few months later.
When news of Penn’s contract with Bogota got out in 2008, Hillary Clinton had to fire him as her campaign strategist, lest she lose endorsements from labor unions. She insisted that her husband’s relationship with Colombia would not influence her stand on the free trade deal, which she opposed because of “the history of violence against trade unionists in Colombia.”
As we have seen, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton reversed course once in office. Clinton may simply have been following the President’s lead, but critics point to her family’s unsavory financial connections as another explanation for her change of heart. As International Business Times reported last year:
“When workers at the country’s largest independent oil company staged a strike in 2011, the Colombian military rounded them up at gunpoint and threatened violence if they failed to disband, according to human rights organizations. Similar intimidation tactics against the workers, say labor leaders, amounted to an everyday feature of life. . .
“Yet as union leaders and human rights activists conveyed these harrowing reports of violence to then-Secretary of State Clinton in late 2011, urging her to pressure the Colombian government to protect labor organizers, she responded first with silence, these organizers say. The State Department publicly praised Colombia’s progress on human rights, thereby permitting hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to flow to the same Colombian military that labor activists say helped intimidate workers.
“At the same time that Clinton’s State Department was lauding Colombia’s human rights record, her family was forging a financial relationship with Pacific Rubiales, the sprawling Canadian petroleum company at the center of Colombia’s labor strife. The Clintons were also developing commercial ties with the oil giant’s founder, Canadian financier Frank Giustra, who now occupies a seat on the board of the Clinton Foundation, the family’s global philanthropic empire.
“The details of these financial dealings remain murky, but this much is clear: After millions of dollars were pledged by the oil company to the Clinton Foundation — supplemented by millions more from Giustra himself — Secretary Clinton abruptly changed her position on the controversial U.S.-Colombia trade pact.
“Having opposed the deal as a bad one for labor rights back when she was a presidential candidate in 2008, she now promoted it, calling it ‘strongly in the interests of both Colombia and the United States.’ The change of heart by Clinton and other Democratic leaders enabled congressional passage of a Colombia trade deal that experts say delivered big benefits to foreign investors like Giustra.”
According to a report this May by the AFL-CIO and four Colombian unions, 99 Colombian workers and union activists have been killed since the trade agreement took effect in 2011. Another six were kidnapped and 955 received death threats. Only a small fraction of those crimes were every solved.
Meanwhile, Uribe continues to be a major force in Colombian politics. In April, he mobilized a street protest against efforts by the current government to bring about a lasting peace with the Marxist guerrilla group FARC; a leading newspaper reported that Uribe’s protest was backed by Colombia’s largest paramilitary drug-trafficking organization, Los Urabeños, which managed to shut down much of the north of the country for 72 hours after assassinating a dozen policemen.
Ties to Drug Trade
A connection between Uribe, paramilitary groups, and drug traffickers is all too easy to imagine, despite his denials and Washington’s hero worship. Consider a few family connections, among the many that have been alleged:
–One of Uribe’s brothers was arrested this February for allegedly leading a death squad against suspected leftists that was run from the family cattle ranch. A Colombian legislator cited testimony that Álvaro himself may have “ordered massacres” from the ranch.
—Another brother was arrested (but not convicted) for suspected ties to cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar; his extramarital partner was later arrested on a U.S. warrant for allegedly working with the head of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. Their daughter was also listed by the U.S. Treasury Department as a major money launderer.
–Uribe’s two sons are under investigation for massive tax evasion and showed up in the recent “Panama papers” leak as shareholders in a British Virgin Islands tax shelter;
–Uribe’s campaign manager and former chief of staff was flagged by DEA in 2001 as Colombia’s largest importer of a key precursor chemical for the production of cocaine.
–Uribe received contributions to his 2002 presidential campaign from the country’s largest and most murderous paramilitary organization, the AUC, which was listed by Washington as an international terrorist organization. By the time of Uribe’s election, according to one expert, “the AUC had become the most powerful network of drug traffickers in the country’s history.”
Uribe arranged a sweetheart deal to allow AUC leaders to escape serious justice with most of their wealth intact, until the nation’s top courts intervened. Uribe’s chief of security from 2002 to 2005 pleaded guilty in 2012 to taking bribes to protect the AUC.
–And as far back as 1991, a confidential U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency report called Uribe a “close personal friend” of Pablo Escobar, and said he was “dedicated to collaboration with the Medellín cartel at high government levels.” It also noted that his father had been murdered “for his connection with the narcotic traffickers.”
On the plus side, President George W. Bush awarded Uribe the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service named him a Distinguished Scholar. And Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation named him to its Board of Directors in 2012.
Hillary Clinton clearly sides with the camp of Uribe’s admirers. It’s time to call her out and make her account for that choice — and for a record that calls into question her professed devotion to human freedom, democratic values, and the rights of organized labor.
Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012).
According to a report among the plans is also the negotiation of another military base in the border with Paraguay and Brazil.
A military delegation sent by Argentine President Mauricio Macri on Wednesday signed an agreement on military cooperation with the United States, which entails the establishment of a U.S. military base in Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of the South American nation.
Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego, whose boundaries extend to Antarctica. The Argentine government has justified the installation by saying scientific work” will be performed there.
Earlier this week Vice Defense Minister Angel Tello began a five-day visit to the U.S. aimed at reestablishing bilateral defense relations between the two countries after a freeze in military ties in recent years.
Among the plans reportedly being discussed is the negotiation of another military base in Argentina’s Misiones Province, located in the northeastern corner of the country at the border between Paraguay and Brazil.
Bilateral ties between Argentina and the U.S. had been tense in recent years as the leftist governments of presidents Fernandez and Nestor Kirchner reoriented foreign policy away from the U.S. and toward Latin America in the name of fighting imperialism and strengthening regional integration.
But Macri came to office last year based in part on a promise to rekindle relations with the U.S. while giving the cold shoulder to allies of Argentina’s left-wing Kirchner governments, such as Venezuela. The president has said he wants a “pragmatic and intelligent” relationship with Washington.
Caracas – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has hit out at “mounting aggressions” against his government after it was confirmed that a US plane had twice violated Venezuelan airspace.
The US Boeing 707 E-3 Sentry is reported to have illegally entered Venezuela’s national airspace on May 11th at 6.09am, as well as on May 13th at 6.03 am.
Both incursions were detected by Venezuela’s Bolivarian airforce and have sparked rumours that the US might be conducting covert spying operations over Venezuela.
“This plane has all the mechanisms to carry out electronic espionage,” stated Maduro on his television programme Tuesday.
According to US Airforce information, the Boeing 707 E-3 Sentry provides an accurate, real-time picture of the battlespace to the Joint Air Operations Center, and possesses a powerful radar to “detect, identify and track enemy and friendly low-flying aircraft”.
The double incursion comes as rightwing politicians at home and abroad step up their demands for military intervention against Maduro’s government.
Last Thursday, a former Colombian president made headlines after publicly enquiring which “democratic country is willing to put its armed forces at the service of the protection of the Venezuelan opposition?”
Likewise, rightwing “Justice First” politician and former Venezuelan presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, yesterday encouraged Venezuelan troops to form a mutiny against the national government.
“Prepare the tanks and war planes,” said the politician
“The hour of truth is coming to decide whether you are with the constitution or with Maduro,” he added.
A frenzy of international media reports over the last two weeks have painted an apocalyptic vision of the struggling South American country, citing a lack of access to basic food and medicine, skyrocketing inflation and devaluation of the national currency.
“I can say today that we are victims of the worst media, political and diplomatic aggression that our country has lived through in the past ten years,” stated Maduro.
The head of state has confirmed that his government will deliver an official complaint on the airspace incursions to US authorities.
Over half the US electorate views the two leading candidates for the 2016 Presidential elections with horror and disdain.
In contrast, the entire corporate mass media, here and abroad, repeat outrageous virtuous claims on behalf of Hillary Clinton and visceral denunciations of Donald Trump.
Media pundits, financial, academic and corporate elites describe the prospects of her presidency as one of responsibility, national security, business prosperity and political normalcy.
In contrast, they paint billionaire Republican candidate, Donald Trump as a grave threat, likely to destroy the global economic and military order, polarize US society and destined to lead an isolated and protectionist US into deep recession.
The super-charged rhetoric, flaunting the virtues of one candidate and vices of the other, ignores the momentous consequences of the election of either candidate. There is a strong chance that the election of ultra-militarist Hillary Clinton will drive the world into catastrophic global nuclear war.
On the other hand, Trump’s ascent to the US Presidency will likely provoke unprecedented global economic opposition from the corporate establishment, which will drive the US economy into a profound depression.
These are not idle claims: The destructive consequences of either candidate’s presidency can best be understood through a systematic analysis of Mme. Clinton’s past and present foreign policies and Trump’s belief that he has the ability to transform the US from an empire to a republic.
Clinton on the Road to Nuclear War
Over the past quarter century, Hillary Clinton has promoted the most savage and destructive wars of our times. Moreover, the more directly she has been engaged in imperial policymaking, the greater her responsibility in implementing foreign policy, the closer we have come to nuclear war.
To identify Hillary Clinton’s path to global war it is necessary to identify three crucial moments. Hillary’s bloody history can be dated initially to her de facto ‘joint Presidency’ with husband Bill Clinton (1993-2001).
Stage One: The Conjugal Militarist Presidency (1993-2001)
During Hilary Clinton’s joint presidency with William Clinton (the Billary Regime) the First Lady actively promoted an aggressive militarized takeover of Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East and Eastern Africa – often under her favorite messianic doctrine of ‘humanitarian intervention and regime change’.
This justified the relentless bombing of Iraq, destroying its infrastructure and blockading its population into starvation while preparing to carve its territory into ethnic and religious divisions. Over 500,000 Iraqi children were murdered as proudly justified by then-Secretary of State Madeline Albright (1997-2001) and lauded by the Clintons.
In the same manner, Yugoslavia was bombed by the US humanitarian coalition air forces and cruise missiles over 1,000 times from March 24 to June 11, 2009 in the course of sub-dividing the country into five backward ‘ethnically cleansed’ mini-states. Thousands of factories, public buildings, bridges, passenger trains, radio stations, embassies, apartment complexes and hospitals were devastated; over a million victims became refugees while hundreds of thousands were wounded or killed.
The Conjugal Presidency successfully carried out the bloodiest war of aggression in Europe since the Nazi invasion during WWII, in order to subdivide an ethnically diverse and industrially advanced federation whose independent foreign policies had angered the Western corporate empire.
The Clintons launched the military invasion of Somalia (in East Africa) to impose a vassal regime, leading to the death of many thousands and a regional imperial war. Faced with desperate popular resistance from the Somalis, the Clintons were forced to withdraw US troops and bring in thousands of Sub-Saharan African and Ethiopian mercenaries – whose death would pass unnoticed among the US electorate.
From 1992 through 2001 the Clinton war machine helped set up the Yeltsin kleptocratic vassal state in Russia facilitating the greatest peace-time pillage of state resources in world history.
In the post-Soviet breakup era, over 1 trillion dollars of former public assets were seized especially by US and British-allied Zionist gangsters, Clinton-affiliated officials and ‘academics’ and Wall Street bankers. Under Clinton’s vassalage the entire Soviet public health system was eliminated and Yeltsin’s Russia experienced a population decline of 4.3 million citizens, mostly due to diseases, alcohol and drug toxicity, suicide, malnutrition, unemployment and loss of wages, pensions and and an unprecedented epidemic of tuberculosis and infectious diseases once thought wiped out, like syphilis and diphtheria.
Senator Hillary Clinton’s War Crimes by Association: January 3, 2001 to January 21, 2009
During the George W. Bush dynastic regime, Mme. Senator Clinton supported the US war machine ‘sowing death and destruction to the four corners of the earth’ (to quote Bush Jr.), millions in Iraq and Afghanistan died or fled in terror. Bush had only deepened and expanded the mayhem that the Clinton Conjugal Presidency had begun a decade earlier.
Mme. Senator Clinton promoted the US direct and unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. Mme. Senator Clinton embraced crippling economic sanctions against Iran and she blessed Israel’s military assault against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and Israeli massacres in Lebanon.
Mme. Senator Clinton supported President Junior Bush’s aborted coup against Venezuelan President-elect Hugo Chavez (2002), a prelude to the coup attempts in Latin America that she directed later as US Secretary of State.
Hillary Clinton’s Senatorial term served as a transition linking her initial joint presidential period of wars of conquest onto the next period. As US Secretary of State under President Obama she aggressively promoted global military supremacy.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Naked Militarism Unleashed (2009-2014)
Whatever restraints Mme. Clinton faced as Senator dissolved as she ran amok during her term as Secretary of State. Across Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, Hillary Clinton bombed, massacred and dispossessed millions of families, shredding entire societies and dismantling the institutions of organized civil life for scores of millions. She never balked at the prospect of ethnocide and even joked that NATO might become ‘Al Qaeda’s Air Force’ as she pushed for a ‘no-fly zone’ over Syria.
A wild-eyed cackle echoed down the marbled corridors as the Foggy Bottom turned into a psycho- ward.
Mme. Secretary promoted the terror mercenary brigades invading Syria in a bid to ‘regime change’ the secular government of Al Assad, driving several million Syrian refugees into flight. Entire ancient Syrian Christian communities were wiped out under her reign of ‘regime change’.
Mme. Secretary Clinton directed US air force bombers and missiles to buttress the despotic Saudi monarch’s drive to obliterate Yemen.
Clinton unleashed the most savage bombing against Libya destroying the country and leading to the ethnic cleansing of a million and a half of Sub-Sahara workers and Black Libyans of sub-Saharan descent.
Under the aegis of murderous jihadi warlords and tribal chiefs, Mme. Clinton joked over the torture death of the wounded captive President Gaddafi, whose nauseating, almost pornographic murder by anal impalement was documented as a kind of ‘regime-change’ snuff film. Less known is the earlier, almost Old Testament-type slaughter of several of Gaddafi’s non-political children and five small grandchildren by a deliberate US missile strike aimed at ‘teaching the dictator’ that even his smallest grandchild cannot be hidden.
Mme. Clinton, who bragged that her Biblical role-model is the ethnocidal Queen Ester, has declared unconditional support for Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and among the diaspora. Hillary endorsed and defended Israeli torture and prison camps for children, the elderly and the homeless.
Mme. Secretary sent her criminal sub-secretary Victoria Nuland (an unreconstructed Neo-Con holdover from the Bush Administration) to orchestrate the violent putsch in the Ukraine. Millions from Ukraine’s huge ethnic Russian population were dispossessed from the Donbas region. Mme. Clinton had sought to convert Russian strategic military assets in Crimea to US-NATO bases aimed at Moscow, causing the residents of Crimea to overwhelmingly reject the coup and vote to re-join Russia.
The forceful intervention by Russian President Vladimir Putin prevented Mme. Clinton’s ethnic cleansing power grab in Crimea and the Donbas. The US retaliated by pushing for massive European Union economic sanctions against Russia.
Consistent with her pitiless Biblical role model, Mme. Clinton openly threatened to obliterate Iran with a nuclear war and incinerate 76 million Iranians to please her Uncle Netanyahu – a demented process that would poison a hundred million Arabs and perhaps a few million Israelis. Even the insane Israeli ‘Samson option’ was never dreamt of being ordered from Washington, DC!
During her tenure as Secretary of State, Mme. Clinton actively obstructed any diplomatic moves to achieve a US-Iran agreement on nuclear technology, parroting the Israeli militarist solution against regional rivals!
Mme. Clinton has remained an unrepentant enemy to the emerging independent Latin American governments. In search of vassal states, Clinton promoted successful military coups in Honduras and Paraguay, but was defeated in Venezuela. She proudly touts the death squad regime in Honduras among her foreign policy successes.
Mme. Hillary backed the death squad and narco-regimes in Colombia and Mexico, which killed over a hundred thousand civilians.
On the path to global war, Mme. Militarist has prepared to encircle Russia, stationing nuclear weapons in the Balkans and Poland. She promised that missiles would be placed in south central Europe and Ukraine.
Clinton raised the nuclear ante by hysterically claiming that the elected Russian President Vladimir Putin was ‘worse than ISIS’… ‘worse’ than Hitler.
Repeatedly threatening global war and actually making aggressive regional war should clearly have marked Mme. Hillary Clinton as unfit for the Presidency of the United States. She is politically, intellectually and emotionally unable to deal realistically with an independent Russia and any other independent power, including China and Iran. Her monomania is a course of violent ‘regime changes’, unable to evaluate any of the catastrophes her policymaking has in fact already produced.
Hillary Clinton was the proud author and director of the so-called US ‘pivot to Asia’. Clinton’s ‘pivot’ has led to a massive buildup of the US air and naval forces surrounding China’s maritime routes to its global markets and access to essential raw materials.
Clinton’s hyper-militarism expanded US war zones to cover Australia, Japan and the Philippines, greatly heightening tensions and increasing the possibility of a military provocation leading to nuclear war with China.
No US presidential contender, past or present, has engaged in more offensive wars, in a shorter time, uttering greater nuclear threats than Mme. Hillary Clinton. That she has not yet set off the nuclear holocaust is probably a result of the Administrative constraints imposed on the Mme. Secretary of State by the less blood-thirsty President Obama. These limitations will end if and when Mme. Hillary Clinton is ‘elected’ President of the United States in a process that the electorate increasingly knows is ‘rigged’ toward that outcome.
Donald Trump: the Peaceful Road to Recession
In sharp contrast to the militarist Mme. Clinton, Donald Trump, ‘the Businessman’, has adopted a relatively peaceful approach to international politics for an American presidential candidate in the current era.
‘Businessman’ Trump envisions productive negotiations with Russian President Putin. Employing his loudly trumpeted deal-making genius to benefit the United States, Trump predicts economic and diplomatic successes with Russia, China and other major powers.
Angered at US military allies enjoying decades of US Treasury largesse, a President Trump promises to withdraw US military bases from Asia and Europe and demanding that overseas allies ‘pony-up’ for their own defense.
What the war mongers in the mass media, academia and Washington bureaucracy, dismiss as ‘Trump’s isolationism’, The Businessman describes as rebuilding America by converting overseas military spending into domestic infrastructure projects and ‘real’ jobs in America.
Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, under his ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan, does not envision wars of conquest against Muslim countries, especially since they have already led to massive floods of Muslim refugees, threatening trade and stability, and Trump opposition to the entry of more Muslim refugees into the US. Trump’s foreign policy of limited military goals and warfare is diametrically opposed to Clinton’s total war strategy. Trump, ridiculed by his rivals for ‘his small hands’, does not appear to have Hillary’s itchy trigger finger on the nuclear button!
Trump mouths contradictory economic statements, especially his proposals to “rebuild America”, while operating in the framework of an imperial system. As President of the United States, his protectionist policies will come into direct confrontation with US and global ‘finance and monopoly capitalism’ and will likely lead to systematic disinvestment and a disastrous economic collapse or, more likely, the Businessman-President’s capitulation to the status quo.
The problem is not Trump’s pledges to tax the rich (as he occasionally promises) , or expand Social Security (as he claims), but his failure to admit that these policies would lead to massive flight by the capitalist elite to avoid taxes. The major threat is that, if Trump follows-up on his America-First policies, there will be massive capital resistance and a Congressional revolt by both finance-dominated political parties, which will paralyze any hope for his economic agenda.
Without political independence to implement his domestic economic agenda, Trump will have to face a massive investment and lending revolt from capitalists and bankers who would be very willing to drive the fragile economy into a major recession – threatening a kind of ‘domestic economic sabotage’.
Trump’s Republican Party (and certainly the Democrats) will never support a program which will force multi-national capital to sacrifice its reliance on cheap overseas labor and double digit profits in order to create American jobs and employ American workers at living wages.
A President Trump would not even secure a handful of Congressional votes to increase taxes on plutocrats to fund his proposed large-scale public works, infrastructure and job creation projects.
The Businessman President would face the full fury of the powerful military-industrial-high tech complex if and when he attempted to retire US global military forces from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The non-politician Trump’s historic rise to national political prominence has its roots in the ideas and values of the majority of working people who have been marginalized to the fringes by the media moguls and Wall Street riff-raff. Today Trump’s themes and ideas resonate with the mainstream of voters.
Several dominant ideas circulate in his speeches and interviews.
First, Trump rejects ‘globalization’ (the watered-down PR term for imperialism) and ‘free trade’ (a euphemism for the transfer of profits extracted from US workers to business investment abroad).
Trump’s narrative resonates with the recent anti-Wall Street ‘Occupy’ movements opposing the power of 0.1% super rich against the vast majority.
Secondly, Trump embraces economic nationalism in his slogan “Make American Great Again”. Too many American workers and their families resent having been exploited, maimed and slaughtered to serve multiple wars in the Middle East, Asia and Europe for the interests of US warlords, bankers, Zionists and other imperial royalties. Trump argues that the entire inflated security and corporate welfare system has led to an untenable debt payments spiral.
The third theme that draws millions is Trump’s notion that the US should reject the policy of serial ‘regime change’. We should not initiate and engage in perpetual overseas wars against Muslim countries as a way to avoid domestic attacks by individual terrorists. During an early foreign policy debate, Trump shocked the political establishment when he accused the Bush Administration of deliberately lying the country into the disastrous invasion of Iraq. This ‘truth-telling’ elicited wild applause from the mass Republican electorate.
Trump’s goal is to strengthen American civilization and avoid provoking more ‘clashes of civilizations’…
The fourth, and probably most attractive, message to most Americans is Trump’s powerful assault on Washington and Wall Street elites and their academic and media apologists.
Millions of Americans have been disgusted with the Bushes, Clintons and Obamas, as well as the Morgans, Goldman Sachs and Paulsons, whose policies have exacerbated class inequalities through multiple banking swindles and financial crashes, all ‘bailed out’ by the American tax payers.
Fifth, Trump’s loud, brash exposure of the mass media’s lies and propaganda has resonated with the same deep distrust felt by the American public. His talent for talking directly and bluntly to the public and on the internet has led to his enormous appeal. He does not engage in ‘conspiracy’ but acknowledges that the Edward Snowden revelations have unmasked the government’s deceptions and its program of espionage against the people, destroying the foundations for democratic discourse.
Trump might win the election based on his ‘five truths’ and his pledge to ‘make America great again’, but more likely he will lose because he has insulted the traditional establishment, the Latinos, Afro-Americans, feminists, trade union bureaucrats and their followers from both parties. Even if he succeeds at the ballot box, his political agenda with relying on Republican elites in Washington and Wall Street, the Pentagon and the ‘international security system’ will lead to a major economic crisis. For the elite, if blocking Trump’s domestic economic agenda requires a financial crash to defend ‘globalization’, serial wars and the 0.1%, then tighten your belts!
This November, the country will face the disagreeable choice between a proven nuclear warmonger and a captive of Wall Street. I will try to keep warm, roast chestnuts and avoid thinking about Mme. President’s Looming Mushroom Cloud.
“John Doe” made a bad call when he leaked the Panama papers to the corporate media.
“Can a corporate media system be expected to tell the truth about a world dominated by corporations?” the Media Lens editors once asked rhetorically.
Assuming the best of intentions on the part of whoever leaked the Panama Papers, trusting hundreds of corporate journalists to wage war on income inequality was a bad mistake. However, the corporate media can be trusted to wage war on the enemies of income inequality, in particular progressive governments in Latin America, and use the Panama Papers to do so even if the ammunition they have is pitiful.
Consider an article in the Miami Herald that ran with the mocking headline, “Ecuador’s leader demands release of Panama Papers, and learns he’s in them.” A very similar article with an almost identical headline ran in the UK Independent, and in many other outlets. The article in the Herald began:
“… Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa called out his country’s journalists and boasted that, unlike other countries, he and his government weren’t found in the leak.
However, the secret documents show that he and his estranged brother, Fabricio, caught the attention of anti-corruption authorities in Panama in 2012.”
Anyone who follows Ecuadorian politics will find this very underwhelming. Fabricio Correa is a long-time bitter foe of his brother’s government. Fabricio is also a businessman who has long been accused of being less than ethical by his brother and many other people. That’s old news and it is hardly surprising that it would have “caught the attention” of investigators years ago. How could it not have? A book was written in 2010 – “El Gran Hermano” – alleging that Rafael Correa was complicit with his brother’s corruption and in 2012 Correa won a defamation suit against the authors.
The article in the Herald is convoluted and often unclear, but that actually serves its purpose. It is padded with details that ultimately fail to land a blow against Fabricio Correa, never mind President Correa, but readers unfamiliar with Ecuador, even if left confused by the article, will probably still come away thinking that something damning has been uncovered.
The use of meaningless statistics is another way the article is padded. It says “searching the word ‘Ecuador’ yields more than 160,000 secret documents. Guayaquil, the wealthy coastal city, shows up in 109,000 documents,” as if that refutes Correa’s observation that hostile Ecuadorean journalists who have had access to the documents for a year have not found anything to discredit his government. Correa would be the last person to deny that corruption, in particular tax avoidance by his elite opponents, is still a big problem in Ecuador. That’s one reason why Correa demanded that all the information be released rather than cherry-picked by corporate journalists. Ecuador’s private media led a very dishonest propaganda campaign last year against tax reforms that would have almost entirely impacted Ecuador’s wealthiest 2 percent. Moreover, Guayaquil’s mayor for the past 16 years has been Jaime Nebot, a right-winger who is arguably Correa’s most prominent opponent. Applying the shoddy logic suggested by the article, Nebot and his right wing allies – including his many allies in Ecuador’s private media – are discredited by how often the word “Guayaquil” appears in the Panama Papers.
Reporters are not always so sloppy. When a journalist I recently corresponded with found a Venezuelan opposition member mentioned in the Panama Papers he explained to me that “he was simply mentioned in newspaper articles passed around by IMF staff.”
The article in the Herald also cited an NGO as follows:
“Last year, Transparency International ranked 168 countries and territories on its government corruption index. It found that 106 nations were less corrupt than Ecuador.”
It neglected to mention that the head of the groups’ Chile branch just resigned after being linked to offshore firms. Much more importantly, it has been obvious for many years that a little transparency does not flatter Transparency International (TI). In 2008, Calvin Tucker wrote a hard hitting piece about a shockingly dishonest report that TI published about Venezuela’s state oil company. He reported “TI says that they ‘stand by their report’ and stand by the person who compiled the data, an anti-Chávez activist who backed the 2002 military coup against democracy.”
The Miami Herald also used the Panama Papers as an excuse to rehash the farcical “suitcase scandal” of 2008. It was a comical example of the US government using its prosecutors and a more than cooperative media to smear governments it didn’t like – in this case the left governments of Venezuela and (at the time) Argentina. How could the United States possibly claim jurisdiction over a case based on far-fetched allegations that the Venezuelan government had tried to smuggle a suitcase full of cash into Argentina to influence an election? The U.S. government weaseled in by alleging that an “unregistered agent” of Venezuela’s government had come to the United States to convince one of the people involved to keep quiet. There had never been an indictment under this law unless there was an espionage or national security accusation to go along with it. Mind you, several years later the Obama Administration would officially declare Venezuela an “extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States – and then defend the insane declaration by saying it didn’t mean it. The U.S. media responded with some timid criticism. That should be unsurprising. Media outlets owned by the rich and powerful, whose most influential customers, advertisers, are rich and powerful are not going to lead movements for serious reform, never mind revolution.
None of this is to say that the Panama Papers will not be of any help in the fight against income inequality. Time will tell. There must be a very small number of journalists working in the private media who are genuinely interested in fighting inequality, but one can easily imagine how much more positive impact these leaks may have had. Recall how wisely Edward Snowden singled out Glenn Greenwald as a journalist he could trust. Remember where Julian Assange, a real thorn in the side of the most powerful and violent people in the world, ended up seeking refuge; and never forget how viciously the corporate media turned on him.
The battle against inequality, which is a crucial part of the battle for meaningful democracy, requires a struggle against the corporate media, a real movement to democratize the means of communication, not (a few exceptional corporate journalists aside) collaboration with it.
There is not enough shelter to house all of the displaced families. | Photo: Contagio Radio
A national bombing campaign in the territories of the Indigenous Embera Wounaan ethnic group has forced them to flee their homes and take shelter elsewhere.
More than 400 Indigenous people from the ethnic group Embera Wounaan have been forced to leave their homes and stay in shelters in protection against military bombings of the camps of the National Liberation Army (ELN), Prensa Latina report.
Faced with threats to their security, the 94 families who have been forced to seek protection away from their land in the coastal area of Medio San Juan, Choco, say there are not enough shelters to house everyone.
The bombings began on April 10. According to Dura Bernardino, the leader of the Indigenous community, the bombings sent the community into a panic and that is why they decided to go to the municipal administrative center to save their lives.
The vulnerable community is calling on the government to stop the bombings and provide them with guarantees to return to their land.
Adding to suspicions of a US role in the ouster of independent-minded Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is a revelation making the rounds today that Michel Temer, the opposition leader who will step in as interim president, had met with US embassy officials in Sau Paulo to provide his assessment and spin on the domestic political situation in Brazil. Thanks to Wikileaks, we have the US embassy cable that resulted from the incoming president’s visit to US political officers.
Acting president Temer will hold office for up to six months while impeached president Rousseff stands trial in the Brazilian senate. If her impeachment is finalized by a two-thirds vote, Temer will remain in office until elections in 2018.
Rousseff’s ouster has been curious all along. She claims it is a coup against the will of the Brazilian voter and indeed she has not been accused of corruption or serious crime. Instead, she has been impeached for accusations that she used some tricky bookkeeping maneuvers to hide the extent of Brazil’s budget deficit in advance of her successful 2014 re-election bid. Observers would note that if fiddling with economic statistics to make a country’s balance sheet look better were grounds for impeachment in the United States, there would have been successive impeachments for decades or perhaps longer.
There are more curiosities surrounding the US role in Brazil’s “regime change” this week. Just weeks ago, as Brazil’s lower house of parliament began the process by voting 367 to 137 for impeachment, one very powerful opposition senator made his way to Washington to make his case in the Beltway corridors of power.
The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald wrote at the time:
Today — the day after the impeachment vote — Sen. Aloysio Nunes of the (opposition) PSDB will be in Washington to undertake three days of meetings with various U.S. officials as well as with lobbyists and assorted influence-peddlers close to Clinton and other leading political figures.
Sen. Nunes is meeting with the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Undersecretary of State and former Ambassador to Brazil Thomas Shannon; and attending a luncheon on Tuesday hosted by the Washington lobbying firm Albright Stonebridge Group, headed by former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Bush 43 Commerce Secretary and Kellogg Company CEO Carlos Gutierrez.
The US has long been opposed to Rousseff, seeing her independent-mindedness and participation in the BRICS trade grouping as a threat to US influence in the region. Leftist governments in both Brazil and Venezuela have long been targets of US destabilization efforts. When Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had been tapping her phones, Rousseff delivered a blistering speech at the United Nations accusing the US of violating international law and violating “the principles that must guide the relations among…friendly nations.” Most foreign leaders when informed that the NSA had been spying on them sheepishly dropped the subject. Rousseff was almost alone in venting her rage over what she viewed as betrayal by a friendly government.
Is today’s news about Temer’s trips to the US embassy a smoking gun of a US role in this week’s dramatic events? It must be stated that a meeting between political opposition figures and US embassy officials is not uncommon, and some alternative press accusations that the meeting makes Temer a US “informant” or even a US intelligence agent are probably over-blown. Embassy personnel as a matter of course cultivate political leaders in countries where they are posted to help get an understanding of the broad political situation. But it is part of the US interventionist strategy, from Moscow to Budapest to Minsk to Damascus to Sau Paulo, for US embassy personnel to actively engage opposition figures in countries where the US would like to see regime change. While it is understandable — and can even be admirable — that US embassy political officers actually get out from behind the embassy walls, it is also no secret that these meetings can be highly selective and can serve as a way to reinforce existing US policy toward a particular country instead of gaining a better understanding of the broad political landscape.
How deeply are Washington’s fingers in the pie of Brazil’s political crisis? There is at least one precedent, Greenwald notes in the above article. After years of strident US denial, secret documents were finally released revealing the central role played by the US in Brazil’s 1964 military coup to remove a left-wing government. Plus ça change?