Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

International Electoral Observers Validate Venezuela Regional Vote as US, France Reject Results

By Lucas Koerner | Venezuelanalysis | October 16, 2017

Caracas – The Latin American Council of Electoral Experts (CEELA) has confirmed that Sunday’s vote in Venezuelan gubernatorial elections was clean and transparent.

“The vote took place peacefully and without problems… the vote reflects the will of [Venezuelan] citizens,” declared CEELA President Nicanor Moscoso during a press conference Monday morning.

The CEELA delegation was comprised of 1300 international observers, including former Colombian Electoral Court President Guillermo Reyes, ex-president of the Honduran Supreme Electoral Court, Augusto Aguilar, and former Peruvian electoral magistrate Gastón Soto.

According to the body’s report, the vote was held under conditions of “total normality” and the right to a secret ballot was “guaranteed”.

Sunday’s elections pitted President Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela against the right-wing MUD coalition, with the former scoring a surprise win in 17 of the nation’s 23 states.

The results have, however, been rejected by the MUD, which has alleged “fraud” and called on its supporters to take to the streets in protest.

The MUD has accused the National Electoral Council of attempting to suppress opposition turnout by relocating 334 voting centers previously targeted by anti-government violence during July 30’s National Constituent Assembly Elections.

Announced several weeks ago, the relocations were concentrated in the states of Anzoátegui, Aragua, Carabobo, Lara, Merida, Miranda, and Tachira. Nonetheless, in Merida and Tachira, the MUD emerged triumphant, despite there being 58 and 42 changes in voting centers, respectively.

For its part, CEELA has reported that it has yet to receive any formal denunciations from the opposition, which has issued its fraud allegations via the media.

President Maduro has requested a 100 percent audit of Sunday’s elections, a call that was subsequently echoed by the MUD.

Nothewstanding CEELA’s certification of the outcome, Venezuela’s regional elections have come under fire from Washington and Paris.

“We condemn the lack of free and fair elections yesterday in Venezuela. The voice of the Venezuelan people was not heard,” declared US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.

The diplomat did not, however, offer specific evidence explaining her government’s disavowal of the election result.

In recent months, the Trump administration has taken an increasingly aggressive stance against the Maduro government, imposing economic sanctions, decreeing a travel ban on Venezuelan officials, as well as threatening military intervention and an embargo.

France’s Foreign Ministry likewise issued a communique Monday in which it alleged “serious irregularities” and “lack of transparency in the verification and tabulation process”

“France deplores this situation and is working with its EU partners to examine appropriate measures to help resolve the serious crisis affecting the country,” the French government continued.

France’s newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron, has become an increasingly vocal critic of the Maduro government Caracas.

In September, the French leader met with senior Venezuelan opposition politicians during a tour by the MUD to drum up support for EU sanctions against Venezuela.

The European Parliament voted last month to explore the option of sanctioning top Venezuelan officials, following the lead of Washington and Ottawa.

In response to the statement by Paris, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza took to Twitter Monday, lambasting European interference in his country’s internal affairs.

“The EU and some of its member states (subordinate to Trump) question the will of the Venezuelan people,” he stated.

“In Europe, they’d only wish to have a real democracy, where their peoples can freely choose between two truly contrasting projects,” Arreaza added.

October 17, 2017 Posted by | Deception | , , | 1 Comment

Chavistas Take 17 of 23 States in Venezuelan Regional Elections as Opposition Cries Fraud

By Lucas Koerner – Venezuelanalysis – October 16, 2017

Caracas – President Nicolás Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won 17 of 23 states in Sunday’s gubernatorial elections, the National Electoral Council (CNE) has confirmed.

According to CNE President Tibisay Lucena, 61.14 percent of Venezuela’s eighteen-million-strong electorate came out to vote, marking a record participation in the country’s regional elections, second only to the 65.45 percent turnout in 2008.

The result defied forecasts of high abstention fueled by the current economic crisis as well as polls showing dissatisfaction with the leadership of both the government and political opposition.

With 95 percent of all votes counted, the governing PSUV won in the states of Amazonas, Apure, Aragua, Barinas, Carabobo, Cojedes, Falcon, Guarico, Lara, Miranda, Monagas, Sucre, Trujillo, Yaracuy, Delta Amacuro, and Vargas.

For its part, the opposition Democratic Action party triumphed in Anzoátegui, Merida, Tachira, and Nueva Esparta, while the First Justice party took the strategic northwestern border state of Zulia.

The CNE has yet to release final results for the mineral rich Amazonian state of Bolivar in the country’s southeast border.

The PSUV won 54 percent of the total vote, marking a significant recovery since the ruling party’s landslide defeat in the 2015 parliamentary elections when it garnered only 40.8 percent of the vote. The pro-government upswing follows on the heels of July 30 National Constituent Assembly (ANC) elections, which saw over eight million people turn out to vote amid deadly opposition protests and escalating US pressure.

The CNE indicated that the right-wing opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable, won 45 percent of votes, amounting to a loss of 2.2 million votes relative to 2015.

Speaking late Sunday evening, President Maduro welcomed the result, vowing to work with the newly elected opposition governors.

“I extend my hand to the opposition governors to work with them for the peace and calm of the country,” he declared.

The head of state likewise called on the CNE to carry out a “100 percent audit” of all paper ballots from Sunday’s vote.

Under Venezuela’s electoral system, every electronic vote is backed up by a paper ballot, 50 percent of which are by law subject to recount in any given electoral cycle.

Despite scoring important victories in several key states, the MUD responded to the CNE announcement by refusing to recognize the results, alleging “fraud”.

In a press conference early Monday morning, MUD campaign head Gerardo Blyde rejected the outcome as “not reliable”.

Blyde cited the CNE’s controversial decision announced several weeks ago to relocate 334 voting centers – predominantly located in opposition areas and targeted by anti-government violence during the July 30 ANC vote– which he claimed impacted 700,000 people.

The Baruta mayor called on the CNE to “audit the whole process”, echoing President Maduro’s remarks several hours earlier.

Blyde urged opposition candidates to mobilize their supporters in the streets in the coming days to put pressure on the nation’s electoral authority.

October 16, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment

Undermining Venezuela’s socialist government nothing new for Canada

By Yves Engler · September 23, 2017

Alongside Washington and Venezuela’s elite, the Trudeau government is seeking to oust President Nicolás Maduro. While Ottawa’s campaign has recently grown, official Canada has long opposed the pro-poor, pro-working class Bolivarian Revolution, which has won 19 of 21 elections since 1998.

Following a similar move by the Trump Administration, Global Affairs Canada sanctioned 40 Venezuelans on Friday. In a move that probably violates the UN charter, the elected president, vice president and 38 other officials had their assets in Canada frozen and Canadians are barred from having financial relations with these individuals.

In recent months foreign minister Chrystia Freeland has repeatedly criticized Maduro’s government. She accused Caracas of “dictatorial intentions”, imprisoning political opponents and “robbing the Venezuelan people of their fundamental democratic rights”. Since taking office the Liberals have supported efforts to condemn the Maduro government at the Organization of American States (OAS) and promoted an international mediation designed to weaken Venezuela’s leftist government (all the while staying mum about Brazil’s imposed president who has a 5% approval rating and far worse human rights violations in Mexico).

Beyond these public interventions designed to stoke internal unrest, Ottawa has directly aided an often-unsavoury Venezuelan opposition. A specialist in social media and political transition, outgoing Canadian ambassador Ben Rowswell told the Ottawa Citizen in August: “We established quite a significant internet presence inside Venezuela, so that we could then engage tens of thousands of Venezuelan citizens in a conversation on human rights. We became one of the most vocal embassies in speaking out on human rights issues and encouraging Venezuelans to speak out.” (Can you imagine the hue and cry if a Russian ambassador said something similar about Canada?) Rowswell added that Canada would continue to support the domestic opposition after his departure from Caracas since “Freeland has Venezuela way at the top of her priority list.”

While not forthcoming with information about the groups they support in Venezuela, Ottawa has long funnelled money to the US-backed opposition. In 2010 the foremost researcher on U.S. funding to the opposition, Eva Golinger, claimed Canadian groups were playing a growing role in Venezuela and according to a 2010 report from Spanish NGO Fride, “Canada is the third most important provider of democracy assistance” to Venezuela after the US and Spain. In “The Revolution Will Not Be Destabilized: Ottawa’s democracy promoters target Venezuela” Anthony Fenton details Canadian funding to anti-government groups. Among other examples, he cites a $94,580 grant to opposition NGO Asociación Civil Consorcio Desarrollo y Justicia in 2007 and $22,000 to Súmate in 2005. Súmate leader Maria Corina Machado, who Foreign Affairs invited to Ottawa in January 2005, backed the “Carmona Decree” during the 2002 coup against President Hugo Chavez, which dissolved the National Assembly and Supreme Court and suspended the elected government, Attorney General, Comptroller General, governors as well as mayors elected during Chavez’s administration. (Machado remains a leading figure in the opposition.)

Most Latin American leaders condemned the short-lived coup against Chavez, but Canadian diplomats were silent. It was particularly hypocritical of Ottawa to accept Chavez’s ouster since a year earlier, during the Summit of the Americas in Québec City, Jean Chrétien’s Liberals made a big show of the OAS’ new “democracy clause” that was supposed to commit the hemisphere to electoral democracy.

For its part, the Harper government repeatedly criticized Chavez. In April 2009 Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded to a question regarding Venezuela by saying, “I don’t take any of these rogue states lightly”. After meeting only with opposition figures during a trip to Venezuela the next year Peter Kent, minister of state for the Americas, said: “Democratic space within Venezuela has been shrinking and in this election year, Canada is very concerned about the rights of all Venezuelans to participate in the democratic process.”

The Bolivarian Revolution has faced a decade and a half of Liberal and Conservative hostility. While the NDP has sometimes challenged the government’s Venezuelan policy, the party’s current foreign critic has echoed Washington’s position. On at least two occasions Hélène Laverdière has demanded Ottawa do more to undermine the Maduro government. In a June 2016 press release Laverdière bemoaned “the erosion of democracy” and the need for Ottawa to “defend democracy in Venezuela” while in August the former Foreign Affairs employee told CBC “we would like to see the (Canadian) government be more active in … calling for the release of political prisoners, the holding of elections and respecting the National Assembly.” Conversely, Laverdière staid mum when Donald Trump threatened to invade Venezuela last month and she has yet to criticize the recently announced Canadian sanctions.

NDP members should be appalled at their foreign critic’s position. For Canadians more generally it’s time to challenge our government’s bid to undermine what has been an essentially democratic effort to empower Venezuela’s poor and working class.

September 24, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela Rejects Imposition of Sanctions by Canada

teleSUR | September 22, 2017

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry has issued a statement categorically rejecting the illegal sanctions imposed by Canada on 40 Venezuelan government officials, including President Nicolas Maduro.

It says this hostile action, whose only purpose is to attack Maduro’s government, breaks international law which is fundamental for the promotion of economic development and social, as well as for peace and security.

The statement said the objective is “to undermine the peace and social stability achieved in our nation after the formation of the National Constituent Assembly, as well as the continued efforts made by the National Executive in favor of dialogue and understanding between the different sectors that make life in the country. ”

“These are sanctions aimed at undermining efforts to establish dialogue between the government and the Venezuelan opposition, with the support and support of members of the international community.”

It went on to say that the measures are a violation of the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the OAS, and the rules governing friendly relations and cooperation between States.

The statement also warned they threaten to undermine efforts to initiate, with the support and support of members of the international community, the dialogue between the government and the Venezuelan opposition.

“On September 5, 2017, the government of Canada established an aberrant association of subordination to the government of President Donald Trump with the explicit purpose of overthrowing the constitutional government of Venezuela using economic sanctions as a political weapon.”

It ends, “This decision of the Canadian government profoundly damages the bonds of friendship and respect that for years have guided the relations between our countries and, consequently, will consider all the necessary measures to defend the national interest and sovereignty.”

Earlier Canada announced it would impose the sanctions as a punishment for “anti-democratic behavior.”

“Canada will not stand by silently as the government of Venezuela robs its people of their fundamental democratic rights,” the Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement, adding that the sanctions were “in response to the government of Venezuela’s deepening descent into dictatorship.”

The measures include freezing assets of the officials and banning Canadians from having any dealings with them.

As well as the sanctions on Maduro, the Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami and President of the National Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodriguez have been added to the list.

The measures mirror those imposed on Venezuela by the United States which target Maduro and around 30 other officials.

Last month, the U.S. President Donald Trump also placed renewed sanctions on its Venezuela’s state oil company, while also issuing military threats against the country.

“Canada is a country that has a strong reputation in the world as a country that has very clear and cherished democratic values, as a country that stands up for human rights,” Freeland said. “To be sanctioned by Canada, I think has a real symbolic significance.”

The sanctions come in the wake of Trump’s comments criticizing Venezuela at the UN General Assembly, where he threatened to strengthen economic sanctions if Maduro “persists on a path to impose authoritarian rule.”

September 23, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Human Rights: The Latest Weapon Against Venezuela

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Lilian Tintori, wife of opposition leader Leopoldo López who is currently serving a 13 year sentence (in house arrest) for his responsibility in the deadly violence of the 2014 guarimbas.

By Ricardo Vaz | Investig’Action | September 21, 2017

The mainstream media have a crucial role to play in the war against Venezuela, creating a distorted narrative and a constant frenzy that are crucial for any regime-change operation. With violent protests having failed to topple the government and to stop the Constituent Assembly, the plan switched to military threats and economic sanctions. But these come directly from an unpopular US administration, and a more impartial-looking figure was needed. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jordanian Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad al Hussein, stepped up to the plate with the backing of more than 100 NGOs. We tackle the manipulation of human rights for imperial purposes, but first we examine how the term “NGO” is woefully inadequate to describe these organisations.

*****

So much more than NGOs

On occasion of the 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 116 “NGOs”1 signed a letter demanding that Venezuela be a priority for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The effort was spearheaded by none other than Human Rights Watch (HRW). HRW has a long and documented history of bias and outright lies in their reports on Venezuela, which is no surprise given their blatant revolving door with the US government. Among the signatories are several usual suspects such as Provea or Foro Penal, whose president Alfredo Romero was a recent speaker in a “US Democracy Support” forum.

Another organisation on the list is Transparencia Venezuela, which includes as sources of funding the EU, several embassies and the parent organisation Transparency International. And although Transparency International is much shadier than it sounds, at least we can laud their transparency in listing their backers. The list includes the US State Department, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), George Soros’ Open Society, even corporations such as Shell. One more that stands out, and is quoted regularly by the media, is the International Commission of Jurists, which sounds very noble and independent until you discover that they were initially funded by the CIA.

The issue here is with the term “non-governmental organisation”, which are always presented by the media as faultless, impartial actors. While there are many scenarios in which independent organisations can step in and provide invaluable services, this is hardly the case of groups funded by the NED (or USAID, or similar agencies) to “promote democracy” or “defend human rights” in countries like Venezuela. These are merely extensions of the US and western foreign policy apparatus, working as the local infrastructure that is necessary in regime change operations as well as a source for the media to build its biased narrative.

At the end of the day, it is the term “non-governmental organisation” that falls very short of describing the nature and activities of these groups. If an organisation in Venezuela, or anywhere else, is funded by the US government, in what world is it a “non-governmental organisation”? One cannot prove that all the “NGOs” standing with HRW are western-funded, but advancing western interests is very much advancing corporate interests, and it is doubtful that anyone would do that for free.

UN High Commissioner for HR shaking hands with former US Secretary of State John Kerry. (If by accident their speeches were switched nobody would notice!)

Weaponizing human rights

While one should not judge a book by the cover, it might be useful to consider the background of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad al Hussein. A member of the royal family of Jordan, he comes from a Hashemite dynasty whose calling card has been its pliancy to imperial interests in the Middle East. And having served as ambassador to the US and permanent representative to the UN, he is, much like Jordan, someone the US can rely upon.

His most recent statement, which could just as well have been written by the US State Department, was delivered during the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council. It takes aim at every inconvenient country, from Iran to North Korea, while important US allies like Bahrain or Egypt are invited to “engage more productively” with his office. Israel is treated with kid gloves, and somehow the blame for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is supposed to be shared between Israeli and Palestinian authorities. And there is no mention whatsoever of Saudi Arabia, where surely there are no human rights issues… Even when addressing the catastrophe in Yemen there is only a passing mention to “coalition airstrikes”.

And then the High Commissioner gets to Venezuela, sounding like any opposition leader or US official on “human rights violations” during anti-government protests or the “crushing [of] democratic institutions”, and suggesting an investigation into possible “crimes against humanity”. Never mind Colombia, where for years the army killed thousands of civilians and dressed them as rebels to collect rewards. Never mind Saudi Arabia, conducting double tap strikes2 against funerals in Yemen, or the US “torturing some folks,” or Israeli soldiers killing children because they were “running like terrorists.” The High Commissioner is worried that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela!

This statement comes on the heels of a OHCHR report about Venezuela that Joe Emersberger described as “embarrassingly shoddy and biased.” It barely mentions any violence coming from the opposition ranks, and while offering a tally of deaths allegedly caused by government forces and the bogeyman colectivos, there is no detailed breakdown to be compared with other accounts such as the one by Venezuelanalysis. Remarkably, given the importance of the issue and the damning verdict that the OHCHR wishes to pass, no investigators from the UN body set foot in Venezuela. Instead the report relies on carefully selected testimonies and the “NGOs” we just discussed.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza condemned the manipulation of human rights to attack Venezuela and the lies in the recent OHCHR report.

True NGOs strike back

While the amenable High Commissioner and the poorly-named “NGOs” put on their show to further the regime-change operation in Venezuela, others were not about to take it sitting down. True NGOs, independent organisations that are not pawns in imperialist machinations, and which are truly committed to human rights, condemned foreign meddling in Venezuela and the politicisation of human rights. One example was Swiss-based CETIM, an organisation focused on supporting social movements in the Global South. Concerning Venezuela, it released a statement that said:

[…] we declare ourselves for an immediate return to calm and to dialog, for the respect of Venezuelan peoples’ right to self-determination and the deepening of the process of democratic transformation that they have freely and courageously undertaken for two decades […]

Another organisation that reacted to the recent actions of the OHCHR was the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), through its representative at the UN, Micòl Savia, during one of the plenary meetings of the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council (intervention #35 in this link)

The IADL expresses its most profound dismay at the recent OHCHR report […]. Given its severity, we are particularly concerned by the High Commissioner’s mention of […] crimes against humanity, which lacks any legal grounds or sense of proportion. […]

The report is selective and biased, and represents a further example of the unfortunate politicisation that affects the work of the OHCHR, undermining its credibility and standing. Use of firearms, explosives, setting up barricades, people burned alive, attacks against hospitals, […], is this the model of “peaceful protests” that this council wants to promote?

Judge, jury and executioner

In the end the bias and lack of standards, or outright falsehood, of these claims and reports does not matter, because if the target is Venezuela they only have to look credible. The media will then do the rest, creating a background by repeating that “Venezuela has been accused by the UN of human rights abuses”, regardless of the shoddiness of the accusations, and this will be the basis to justify future escalations and aggressions as the empire pulls out all the stops to get rid of the biggest threat in its “backyard”.3

This is a good time to stress that legal systems are not moral or just by definition, but a reflection of who holds power, and this is especially true of international law. Though the struggle for an arena where all countries have the same weight is imperative, we are fooling ourselves if we are counting on international bodies to be impartial upholders of justice (just look at Palestine). Recent international tribunals have only served to reinforce the US/western narrative, either as a posteriori justification for past wars such as the one in Yugoslavia, or to justify upcoming ones against troublesome leaders like Gaddafi.

We should clarify that our argument is not some kind of moral relativism, whereby we defend that the alleged crime A should not be investigated until justice is served for (the much worse) crime B. We are not arguing that nobody can be guilty of crimes against humanity until Henry Kissinger is tried, although it is hard to take any international tribunal seriously if the most blatant crimes are immune from prosecution. But what is definitely absurd and unacceptable is to have the US empire, either directly or through its proxies, be the judge trying other people and countries.

Notes

  1. The HRW statement, and all pieces about it, refer to 116 NGOs; however, the organisations listed only total 115
  2. Double tap strikes comprise an initial strike on a target followed by another one targeting first responders.
  3. In its article about this issue, the Guardian refers to a high-profile jailed opposition leader called Leonardo López (his name is Leopoldo López). Given the overall bias and lack of standards, this is probably fitting.

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia Slams US Threat of Military Action Against Venezuela

teleSUR | September 21, 2017

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has condemned the U.S. for threatening the option of military intervention in Venezuela.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Lavrov criticized the illegitimate application of “unilateral sanctions” by certain Western countries, in reference to the restrictions imposed by the U.S. against Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.

Lavrov said it is unacceptable to instigate unrest and launch military threats in order to ‘democratize’ Venezuela, as are actions aimed at undermining the country’s legitimate authorities.

He insisted that in any internal conflict, the international community must urge all parties to commit to reconciliation.

“The policies of the West are based on the principle of ‘who is not with us, is against us,” said the Russian foreign minister, referring to the threats made by the U.S. President Donald Trump.

He also made reference to Cuba and said the blockade should be lifted, “Almost all UN member states have called for the immediate lifting of the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed on Havana for several decades.”

On the subject of North Korea, Lavrov said he did not support Pyongyang’s position but he objected to the “military hysteria” which could lead to “disaster.”

He urged the UN to consider the roadmap for talks with the North put forward by Russia and China to defuse the crisis on the Korean peninsula by diplomatic and peaceful means.

Both Moscow and Beijing are proposing the suspension of Washington’s joint military maneuvers with South Korea but the White House has rejected the plan.

Lavrov also condemned U.S. unilateral sanctions on Iran – he said they would undermine the nuclear deal with Tehran

“Using unilateral sanctions … is illegitimate and undermines the collective nature of international efforts. Everyone is witnessing with alarm today the newer and newer restrictions by the U.S. against Iran.”

“They threaten the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” he added, referring to the 2015 international accord between Iran and six world powers.

Trump has suggested he is leaning towards withdrawing from the deal, but several international allies are trying to dissuade him.

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Odebrecht Denies $100 Million Bribe to Top Venezuelan Politician

By RACHAEL BOOTHROYD ROJAS | Venezuelanalysis | September 8 2017

The scandal-besieged company Odebrecht has refuted claims made by former Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega that it paid $USD100 million to Venezuelan politician Diosdado Cabello in exchange for lucrative state contracts.

The accusations against Cabello, who is the President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and is considered one of the most prominent members of the Chavista government, were made by Ortega in August. The former attorney general fled Venezuela last month after the Supreme Court removed her from her post pending an investigation into alleged “grave misconduct”.

In a widely reported press conference, Ortega said she had “many pieces of evidence” that proved the firm had made the million dollar payment to Cabello. But a statement released by the company Wednesday appeared to cast doubt on Ortega’s claims.

“After conducting a comprehensive search of its legacy systems and of the statements given by its former team members who collaborated in (investigations), Odebrecht denies the accusations that it made a $100 million payment to … Cabello,” reads the communiqué.

The leading Brazilian construction firm shot to the centre of a region-wide corruption scandal in 2015, when it emerged that company representatives had offered million dollar kickbacks to government officials across 12 countries to win public contracts. The firm agreed to cooperate with US authorities last year as part of a deal with US and Brazilian prosecutors.

As well as implicating Cabello in the scandal, Ortega told press that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was also involved in the extensive corruption racket – though she has provided no proof to date. The former attorney general publicly broke with the Maduro administration earlier in March, leading to a heated stand-off played out in national and international media.

For its part the Venezuelan government announced in August that it would launch a probe into the Public Prosecution’s handling of financial crimes during Ortega’s ten year term in response to her accusations. Her replacement, Tarek William Saab, accuses her of having “buried” cases of corruption throughout her tenure.

September 9, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Venezuelan State Reopens Investigations into Hundreds of Suspected Rural Activist Assassinations

By RACHAEL BOOTHROYD ROJAS | Venezuelanalysis | September 7, 2017

Bogota – Three hundred unresolved cases of rural land activists allegedly murdered at the hands of hired assassins will be re-opened by Venezuela’s Public Prosecution service in an effort to root out impunity for politically motivated crimes.

The measure was agreed in a high level meeting between the National Ombudsman’s office, the Public Prosecution service, the Public Defense, the Ministry of Eco-socialism and Water, the National Land Institute, and the Foundation for Victims of Politically Motivated and Rural Assassinations.

More than three hundred rural activists are estimated to have been killed at the hands of rightwing paramilitaries since 1999, when many land activists began to take collective action following the election of leftist president Hugo Chavez.

Most of the victims have been government supporters allegedly targeted for organizing in favor of the Land and Agrarian Development Law, passed by Chavez in November 2001. The legislation is aimed at breaking up the country’s centuries-old, privately-owned landed estates and allows rural workers to occupy unused land. While popular with rural communities, it has been strongly opposed by the country’s landowners.

Justice for murdered campesinos and activists has long been a demand of rural social movements such as the the Revolutionary Bolivar and Zamora Current. Despite the government’s official support for land reform, movements have strongly criticized state institutions for their lack of teeth in protecting social movement leaders from reprisals, as well as for failing to prosecute those responsible for political assassinations. To date, only a handful of cases have resulted in the successful prosecution of hired killers, while not a single landowner has been brought to trial.

The latest decision to reopen the cases means that some families will now have a second chance to win justice for their loved ones, after the majority of the cases were initially abandoned by the state prosecution, due to alleged lack of evidence.

Mate Garcia, a spokesperson for the Foundation for Victims of Politically Motivated and Rural Assassinations and daughter of murdered activist Armando Garcia, who was killed in 2002, welcomed the initiative as positive step.

“We are very hopeful about this work-group, where all of the cases of violence in our countryside are being taken up,” she said.

Garcia also confirmed that her organization had presented a series of recommendations to the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), which is currently holding session to draft up a new Constitution for the country.

Since being nominated as new Attorney General in August, Tarek William Saab has vowed to rid the state prosecution of impunity and combat classism in the Venezuelan justice service. He has accused his predecessor, Luisa Ortega, of having covered up violent political crimes and corruption during her ten year stint in office.

Ortega fled into self-imposed exile in August after an investigation was brought against her by the Supreme Court for “grave misconduct”. Ortega says she is the victim of political persecution due to her public break with the government of Nicolas Maduro earlier in March.

September 8, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , | 1 Comment

OHCHR’s Venezuela Report is Terrible and May Incite More Violence

By Joe Emersberger | ZNET | September 1, 2017

The OHCHR put out a press release a few weeks ago about violent protests in Venezuela in which the following words leapt off the page to anybody who has been following the situation without blinders on:

“security forces are allegedly responsible for at least 46 of those deaths, while pro-Government armed groups, referred to as ‘armed colectivos’ are reportedly responsible for 27 of the deaths. It is unclear who the perpetrators of the remaining deaths may be.” [my emphasis]

It was “unclear” to the OHCHR if protesters had killed a single person!

The OHCHR’s full report, which was just released, does not go to that extreme but is still an embarrassingly shoddy and biased report. In a section with the subheading “Violent anti-Government protesters”, the OHCHR report concedes that four murders have been perpetrated by protesters but hastens to add that protester violence has been a “reaction to the disproportionate use of force by security forces” and that the “level of violence by these groups increased as the use of force by security forces rose”.

Four is less preposterous than zero, but is still wildly off the mark. See the detailed timeline provided by VenezuelAnalysis.com.

Direct victims of opposition political violence: 23
Bryan Principal, Oliver Villa Camargo, Niumar Jose Sanclemente, Almelina Carrillo, Paola Ramirez, Jesus Leonardo Sulbaran, Luis Alberto Marquez, Efrain Sierra, Rexol Navas, Gerardo Barrera, Anderson Dugarte, Jorge David Escandon, Pedro Josue Carrillo, Danny José Subero, Orlando Figuera, Douglas Acevedo Sánchez, Ronny Alberto Parra, Alexander Rafael Sanoja Sanchez, Jose Luis Bravo, Ramses Martinez, Hector Anuel, Oneiver Quiñones Ramirez, Felix Pineda Marcano, Ronald Ramirez

Deaths indirectly linked to opposition barricades*: 8
Ricarda Gonzalez, Ana Colmenarez, Maria de los Angeles Guanipa, Angel Enrique Moreira Gonzalez, Carlos Enrique Hernández, José Amador Lorenzo González, Luis Alberto Machado, Miguel Angel Villalobos Urdaneta

Additionally, how were the murders of unarmed civilians like Orlando Figuera and Almelina Carrillo by protesters a “reaction” against the security forces? Similarly, how is the burning of food warehouses and ambulances, which the OHCHR also concedes took place, a reaction against the security forces?

Moreover, the first person killed by opposition protesters was the civilian bystander Brayan Principal on April 12, only eight days after the protests began. The VenezuelAnalysis timeline shows that, right from the beginning of the protests, when security forces have perpetrated crimes they have been arrested and charged. That’s quite a contrast with what frequently occurs in the United States which is not faced with violent foreign-backed protesters trying to oust the government. It was only four days after the protests began, on April 8, when protesters torched a Supreme Court building.

I would not advise Black Lives Matter protesters in the United States to torch a Supreme Court building and expect to have their actions excused by the OHCHR or any other high profile outfit as a “reaction to the disproportionate force by police”.

The extremely well documented case of Orlando Figuera also exposed some inexcusable sloppiness in the OHCHR report. It falsely stated that Figuera died the same day he was attacked. He actually died in hospital few weeks later. He claimed from his hospital bed that he had been killed for being a suspected Chavista.

Why were the protesters brazen enough to murder Figuera in broad daylight in front of numerous witnesses?

There have apparently been no arrests in the case though the government has identified one of the perpetrators (who was in hiding).

Here are a few reasons:

  • 1)      People in opposition strongholds – like the one where Figuera was murdered – would likely be afraid to name the perpetrators or, sadly, even supportive of the crime in some cases.
  • 2)      The Attorney General at the time, Luisa Ortega Diaz (who has now been fired and is who now collaborating with US prosecutors to target the Maduro government), was preoccupied with weakening the government and maneuvering to save her own skin should the opposition seize power.
  • 3)      Biased reporting promotes impunity.  When the United States government wants to vilify a government and have it overthrown – which has been the case in Venezuela for the past fifteen years – numerous natural allies reflexively offer a helping hand: private media companies around the world, high profile NGOs and of course UN bodies like the OHCHR. The destruction of Iraq since 1990 does not happen without UN complicity even though neocons demand that the UN be even more subservient to the US.

There is a section in the OHCHR report on “Violations of the right to freedom of expression” and “Smear campaigns against journalists”. The OHCHR included a throwaway remark that “journalists were also targeted by demonstrators and supporters of both the opposition and the government.“

Prominent opposition supporters tried to get Abby Martin and Mike Prysner lynched by spreading allegations that they were working as informants for the government. Watching their report on the violent protesters the OHCHR whitewashed is something I highly recommend. The OHCHR’s bias not only makes opposition violence more likely, it makes honest journalism about it more dangerous.

The report “recommends” that opposition leaders condemn all violence by its supporters when the OHCHR itself goes out of its way to ignore that violence and deflect responsibility away from the perpetrators. The OHCHR also didn’t think to “recommend” that opposition leaders stop calling on the military to overthrow the government. An organization not at the service of the US Empire would also have “recommended” that the US government not violate international law by imposing economic sanctions or threatening the use of force against Venezuela. Have OHCHR investigators not reviewed the UN Charter recently?

September 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela Pulls 2 Channels Off Air Over “Resign or Die” Comments

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim | Venezuelanalysis | August 25, 2017

Venezuelan regulators ordered Thursday two cable networks be taken off air, after they were accused of promoting violence.

The country’s national telecommunications regulator CONATEL said Colombian broadcasters RCN and Caracol Television would be taken off air for “openly calling for [the] assassination [of the president].”

“The measure is within the bounds of the law, given that those stations over several months attacked Venezuela and [its] institutions,” CONATEL said in a statement, quoting former head regulator Andres Mendez.

The move was in response to comments by former Mexican president Vicente Fox aired by RCN and Caracol. Addressing Maduro, Fox warned “this dictator will leave through resignation, or with his feet in front of him, in a box”.

During RCN’s broadcast, the lower third beneath Fox simply read, “Dictator Maduro, resign or die.”

Fox’s comments were quickly condemned by Maduro ally and Bolivian President Evo Morales.

“If anything happens to our brother President Maduro, it will be Mexican ex-president Vicente Fox’s responsibility,” he said.

Fox made his comment during the “Thinking the 21st Century” conference in Baranquilla, Colombia. Last month, the ex-president was declared persona non grata in Venezuela after he participated as an observer in an unofficial opposition plebiscite asking citizens if they would support a “zero hour” campaign of protests aimed at overthrowing the government.

Neither RCN or Caracol appeared available in Venezuela at the time of writing, and at least one major cable provider has confirmed cutting one of the signals.

“We inform you that the 772 Caracol International channel is no longer available for Venezuela because we are complying with an order from … CONATEL,” cable provider DirecTV tweeted.

Some viewers have reported they can still access RCN through DirecTV, but not through most other major providers.

Venezuela’s opposition had condemned CONATEL’s decision as censorship.

“One more channel off the airwaves! Has that made crime go down? Is inflation any lower? Is there more food? More medicine? Has any problem been solved?” opposition leader Henrique Capriles stated.

The shutdowns are the second major regulatory action taken against broadcasters accused of promoting unrest in Venezuela. Earlier this year, CONATEL pulled CNN’s Spanish language channel, accusing the broadcaster of seeking to “undermine the image of the national executive branch”.

The decision came in the wake of CNN’s publication of an investigation that alleged to have uncovered evidence Venezuelan diplomatic officials in Iraq had sold Venezuelan passports to non-Venezuelans, including Iraqi and Syrian nationals. Venezuela’s government largely dismissed the report as US propaganda.

In 2014, another major Colombian broadcaster, RTN24, was also wiped from Venezuelan airwaves after CONATEL alleged it had “promoted violence”. Another major case also occurred in 2007, when the Caracas-based RCTV lost its broadcast concession, after regulators determined the station had played a role in a 2002 coup that temporarily overthrew the Chavez government.

August 26, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela: West’s Battle Against Multipolarism Reaches Far

By Tony Cartalucci  | Land Destroyer | August 22, 2017

The battle between the established unipolar “international order” dominated by Wall Street, Washington, and London and an emerging multipolar order appears fixated on Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and across the entirety of Asia. However, it extends to virtually every corner of the globe, from competition in the Arctic to politically-motivated controversies in Earth orbit.

The South American nation of Venezuela also seems far-removed from this ongoing competition engulfing the world’s hot spots in the Middle East, Central and Asia, but the fate of this besieged nation is directly linked to the that of the rest of the world, either contributing to an emerging multipolar world order, or providing sanctuary and legitimacy to the established unipolar order currently dominated by Wall Street, Washington, and London.

The nation has been the target of US-backed subversion for decades. The latest iteration of American interference began with the rise of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and a failed US-backed coup in 2002 organized to oust him and place a US-controlled client regime in power.

Venezuela’s “Opposition” are US-Backed Agitators  

Many of those involved in the failed 2002 coup are now leading US-backed protesters in the streets in a bid to overthrow the government of President Nicolás Maduro, who succeeded Chavez after his death in 2013.

The opposition includes former presidential contender, Henrique Capriles Radonski, who heads Primero Justicia (Justice First) which was co-founded by Leopoldo Lopez and Julio Borges, who like Radonski, have been backed for nearly a decade by the US State Department.

Primero Justicia and the network of foreign-funded NGOs that support it have been recipients of both direct and indirect foreign support for at least just as long.

All three co-founders are US educated – Radonski having attended New York’s Columbia University (Spanish), Julio Borges attending Boston College and Oxford, and Leopoldo Lopez who attended the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (KSG), of which he is considered an alumni of.

The Harvard Kennedy School, which hosts the notorious Belfer Center, includes the following faculty and alumni of Lopez, co-founder of the current US-backed opposition in Venezuela:

John P. Holdren, Samantha Power, Lawrence Summers, Robert Zoellick, (all as faculty), as well as Ban Ki-Moon (’84), Paul Volcker (’51), Robert Kagan (’91), Bill O’Reilly (’96), Klaus Schwab (’67), and literally hundreds of senators, ambassadors, and administrators of Wall Street and London’s current global spanning international order. 

Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (KSG) is one of several universities that form the foundation of both creating corporate-financier driven international policy, as well as cultivating legions of administrators to execute it. This includes creating cadres of individuals to constitute Wall Street and Washington’s client regimes around the world.

Venezuela’s Problem, Like Other Targeted States, is US Sedition, not “Socialism” 

It is true that Venezuela is deemed a “socialist” nation, and its policy of heavily centralizing the economy has not only failed to alleviate the many longstanding socioeconomic conflicts inflicting Venezuelan society, but has also created an ample vector for Wall Street and Washington’s meddling.

By placing all of Venezuela’s proverbial “eggs” in one centralized “basket,” the United States – through the use of various well-honed geopolitical and socioeconomic tools – has managed to knock that “basket” from the government in Caracas’ hands and is now using its well-funded and organized opposition to crush whatever “eggs” survived the fall.

Unfortunately for Venezuela, the Western political landscape is so deeply rooted in blind, poorly developed political ideology, practical geopolitical and geostrategic analysis has been overlooked across both traditional and alternative media platforms, and instead, many – including opponents of US-backed regime change worldwide – have found themselves cheering on what they believe is the self-inflicted collapse of the socialist Venezuelan government at the hands of “free market” protesters.

In reality, they are cheering on yet another episode of US-backed regime change, wrapped in a protective layer of ideological, political, and economic rhetoric to justify otherwise unjustifiable, extraterritorial meddling, interference, chaos, division, and destruction.

Venezuela’s Place Within the Unipolar-Mulipolar World 

Depending on the ultimate fate of the Venezuelan government, the success of US-backed proxies, and the ability of Venezuela to reconstruct itself after decades of foreign-backed subversion, Venezuela can either enhance or set back the emerging multipolar world order.

Regardless of Venezuela’s fate if and when the government in Caracas is toppled, the US-led unipolar international order will benefit. The elimination of competition, even at the cost of creating a center of regional destabilization is considered favorable versus allowing a bastion of alternative socioeconomic and geopolitical power to persist. And in many ways, the creation of a regional center of destabilization may help the US create “synergies” between the chaos it is fostering in Venezuela and in neighboring South and Central American nations the US has likewise targeted for geopolitical coercion and/or regime change.

For Russia, China, other nations of BRICS, and even emerging economies across Southeast Asia and Central Asia, the loss of Venezuela as a means of counterbalance to US hegemony both in the region of the Americas and globally will allow the US to concentrate more resources toward remaining alternative centers of geopolitical and economic power it seeks to target.

This – not the nature of Venezuela’s “socialist” government – is the focus of US efforts and is what defines the consequences of either US success or failure regarding regime change in Caracas.

Any government, socialist or otherwise, operating outside of Wall Street, Washington, and London’s sphere of influence is a target. Competition, not ideology defines and drives Western foreign policy – and for those who oppose this policy – it must be practical geopolitical and geostrategic analysis that defines conclusions and courses of action – not the ideological debates the US itself is using as a pretext and as rhetorical cover to justify its latest regime-change project.

Venezuela may be geographically far removed from the focal point of the great unipolar-multipolar struggle, but understanding how it fits into conflicts raging in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and across Asia illustrates just how encompassing the “international order’s” reach and ambitions really are – and how deadly dangerous they are to global peace, security, and stability.

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

A Venezuelan Tanker Is Stranded Off The Louisiana Coast

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | August 17, 2017

A tanker loaded with 1 million barrels of Venezuelan heavy crude has been stranded for over a month off the coast of Louisiana, not because it can’t sail but as a result of Venezuela’s imploding economy, and its inability to obtain a bank letter of credit to deliver its expensive cargo. It’s the latest sign of the financial troubles plaguing state-run oil company PDVSA in the aftermath of the latest US sanctions against the Maduro regime, and evidence that banks are slashing exposure to Venezuela across the board as the Latin American nation spirals into chaos.

As Reuters reports, following the recently imposed US sanctions, a large number of banks have closed accounts linked to officials of the OPEC member and have refused to provide correspondent bank services or trade in government bonds. The stranded tanker is one direct casualty of this escalation.

The tanker Karvounis, a Suezmax carrying Venezuelan diluted crude oil, has been anchored at South West Pass off the coast of Louisiana for about a month, according to Marinetraffic data.

For the past 30 days, PBF Energy, the intended recipient of the cargo, has been trying unsuccessfully to find a bank willing to provide a letter of credit to discharge the oil, according to two trading and shipping sources.

The tanker was loaded with oil in late June at the Caribbean island of St. Eustatius where PDVSA rents storage tanks, and has been waiting for authorization to discharge since early July, according to Reuters. It is here that the delivery process was halted as crude sellers request letters of credit from customers that guarantee payment within 30 days after a cargo is delivered.

While the documents must be issued by a bank and received before the parties agree to discharge, this time this is impossible as the correspondent bank has decided to avoid interacting with PDVSA and running afoul of the latest US sanctions. It was not immediately clear which banks have denied letters of credit and if other U.S. refiners are affected.

In an ironic coincidence, these days the state energy company of Venezuela, PDVSA, is almost as much Venezuelan as it is Russian and Chinese. Chinese and Russian entities currently take about 40% of all PDVSA’s exports as repayment for over $60 billion in loans to Venezuela and the company in the last decade, as we reported last year and as Reuters recently updated. This has left U.S. refiners among the few remaining cash buyers. Meanwhile, as a result of these ongoing historical barter deals exchanging oil for refined products and loans, PDVSA’s cash flow has collapsed even as the company’s creditors resort to increasingly more aggressive measures to collect: just this April, a Russian state company took a Venezuelan oil tanker hostage in hopes of recouping $30 million in unpaid debt.

The first indication that the financial noose is tightening on the Caracas regime came earlier this month when Credit Suisse barred operations involving certain Venezuelan bonds and is now requiring that business with President Nicolas Maduro’s government and related entities undergo a reputation risk review. In a while publicized move, this past May Goldman Sachs purchased $2.8 billion of Venezuelan debt bonds at steep discount, a move criticized by the Venezuelan opposition and other banks.

While PDVSA owns the cargo, the actual tanker was chartered by Trafigura:

Since last year, the trading firm has been marketing an increasing volume of Venezuelan oil received from companies such as Russia’s Rosneft, which lift and then resell PDVSA’s barrels to monetize credits extended to Venezuela, according to traders and PDVSA’s internal documents.

Some barrels are offered on the open market, others are supplied to typical PDVSA’s customers including U.S refiners.

Meanwhile, even before this latest sanctions-induced L/C crisis, Venezuela’s oil exports to the US were already in freefall: PDVSA and its JVs exported only 638,325bpd to the US in July, more than a fifth, or 22% less, than the same month of 2016, according to Reuters Trade Flows data.

As for the recipient, PBF received just three cargoes for a total of 1.58 million barrels last month, the lowest figure since February. Other U.S. refineries such as Phillips 66 did not receive any cargo. The US refiner and PDVSA have a long-term supply agreement for Venezuelan oil signed in 2015 when PBF bought the 189,000-bpd Chalmette refinery from PDVSA and ExxonMobil Corp.

Earlier in the month, PBF’s Chalmette refinery received half a million barrels of Venezuelan crude on the tanker Ridgebury Sally B. This second delivery got stuck on tanker Karvounis.

It is likely that soon virtually all Venezuelan cargos bound for the US will share a similar “stranded” fate as one bank after another cease providing L/C backstops to the Venezuelan company, ultimately suffocating Maduro’s regime which is in dire need of dollars to keep the army on its side and prevent a revolution. As for how high the price of oil rises as Venezuela’s oil production is slowly taken offline, it remains to be seen. Three weeks ago, Barclays calculated that a “sharper and longer disruption” to Venezuela oil production could raise oil prices by at least $5-7/barrell. Such a disruption appears to now be forming.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, War Crimes | , , | 4 Comments