Aletho News


UN seeks rare labor probe against Venezuela

Press TV – March 21, 2018

The UN’s labor body on Wednesday set up an investigation into alleged violations in Venezuela, following a request by a private-sector group long opposed to the Caracas government.

The United Nations’ International Labor Organization rarely creates this type of probe, known as a Commission of Inquiry. The last case was launched against Zimbabwe in 2008.

The entrepreneurial association, Fedecamaras, took its complaint to the Geneva-based ILO, alleging it was the victim of multiple violations committed by President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government.

Those included breaching freedom of association rights of unions and trade groups seen as opposed to the government; and raising minimum wages without consulting employers — a violation of ILO rules.

In a statement, the ILO said its governing body “has discussed this complaint six times since 2015.”

It asked Caracas “to take measures to put an end to the alleged interference, aggression and stigmatization directed against Fedecamaras, its affiliated organizations and its leaders,” the statement said.

The ILO also noted that it had to cancel a high-level trip to the country scheduled for last year after the government objected to the mission.

“A Commission of Inquiry is generally set up when a member State is alleged to have committed persistent and serious violations of ratified International Labor Conventions, which are binding international treaties, and has repeatedly refused to address them,” the statement further said.

The ILO has only set up 12 such inquiries in its 100-year history.

Venezuela’s crushing economic and political crisis has caused widespread shortages of basic goods, in addition to hyperinflation.

Maduro’s government has at times portrayed certain private-sector groups as enemies and agents of foreign powers hostile to Venezuela’s interests.

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

Venezuelan Opposition Protests Proposed UN Electoral Observer Mission

Venezuelanalysis | March 13, 2018

Caracas – Supporters of Venezuela’s Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) opposition coalition marched on the headquarters of the United Nations in Caracas Monday to protest the possibility of the international body sending an observer mission to monitor the country’s upcoming May 20 elections.

In a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the opposition alleged that an observer mission would “give a veneer of legality to an [electoral] process that lacks it.”

Last month, the Venezuelan electoral authorities formally invited the UN to send an observer mission to monitor the upcoming elections as part of an agreement negotiated between the government and the MUD, which the latter ultimately refused to sign. The UN is yet to confirm whether it will send a delegation in May.

Following the breakdown of internationally-mediated talks, the main opposition coalition announced it would boycott the presidential elections – which were then set for April 22 – claiming the date and electoral guarantees were inadequate to ensure a free and fair contest.

However on March 1, several smaller opposition parties led by former Lara Governor Henri Falcon broke ranks with the MUD and signed a deal with the ruling United Socialist Party and its leftist allies moving the presidential election to May 20 and hold municipal and state legislative elections on the same day. Although the agreement featured various safeguards previously demanded by the MUD during talks – including observers from the UN and other international bodies, equal access to media, and an ample window for voter registration – the anti-government coalition dismissed the deal as a “farce” and vowed to go ahead with its boycott.

Turnout in Monday’s demonstration was, nonetheless, small in number, particularly in comparison to the mass protests organized by the MUD to demand early presidential elections last year, which frequently concluded in deadly acts of violence perpetrated by hardline anti-government groups.

The march was organized by the newly formed “Free Venezuela Broad Front” (FAVL), which includes the parties of the MUD alongside the Fedecameras business lobby, representatives of the Catholic and evangelical churches, several university student and professor organizations, as well as a group of ex-government loyalists led by former Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres.

Taking to Twitter Saturday, President Nicolas Maduro criticized the call for electoral boycott and rejection of UN observers from sections of the opposition.

“Why so much contradiction? What do they [the MUD] want? I want the secretary-general to send a strong commission of observers,” he declared.

Meanwhile, Maduro’s principal rival, Henri Falcon, was in New York Tuesday, where he was reportedly meeting with UN officials.

Himself a former Chavista, Falcon was expelled from the MUD last month after he registered his candidacy in violation of the coalition’s boycott.

While center-right pollster Datanalisis has reported that over 70 percent of Venezuelans intend to vote in the upcoming elections, Falcon and other opposition leaders remain concerned about low turnout among their ranks.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the opposition’s new Broad Front denied the organization was promoting abstention.

“We are not partisans of a policy of abstention. Of course, we think that as things are now, one cannot vote, because we want to vote to truly choose and not give the appearance of legality in the country that doesn’t exist,” explained Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, who was secretary general of the MUD between 2009 and 2014, during an interview with Globovision Tuesday.

However, the former MUD leader did not indicate that the FAVL would encourage its supporters to vote for Falcon.

On the contrary, he suggested that the opposition candidate could abandon his presidential bid.

“I don’t at all rule out that Falcon renounces his candidacy, withdraws from the process when he confirms what we, his friends, have told him… that it’s not a real election,” Aveledo added.

The FAVL has called for nationwide protests against the May 20 elections for this coming Saturday.

March 15, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 2 Comments

From the End of History to the End of Truth

teleSUR | March 11, 2108

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Free and fair” elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

Democracy and elections

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

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

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

Hands Off Venezuela!

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Venezuelanalysis | March 5, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited and with additional reporting by
Source: teleSUR English

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

There Is No Humanitarian Crisis in Venezuela, Says UN Expert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amnesty International Winks at Trump’s Economic Attack on Venezuelans

By Joe Emersberger | CounterPunch | March 2, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

America’s Democracy Hypocrisy

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s take that one at a time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WSJ’s Epic Distortion of Colombian and Venezuelan Refugees

By Joe Emersberger | FAIR | February 18, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Population of Former Venezuelan Residents Living Abroad

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

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

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

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

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

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

Venezuelan Born Population in the United States

Numbers in the table can be found here and here.

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

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

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

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

NDP marches with USA on Venezuela

By Yves Engler · February 13, 2018

Has it become NDP policy to support US-backed coups in Latin America?

The Canadian social democratic party’s foreign critic Hélène Laverdière has certainly remained silent regarding US leaders musing about a military coup or invasion of Venezuela and has openly supported asphyxiating the left-wing government through other means.

At the start of the month US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for the military to oust President Nicolás Maduro. “In the history of Venezuela and South American countries, it is often times that the military is the agent of change when things are so bad and the leadership can no longer serve the people,” Tillerson said in a speech, which included a quip about Maduro being sent to Cuba.

I found no criticism of Tillerson’s speech by Laverdière. The 15-year Foreign Affairs diplomat also stayed mum when Donald Trump threatened to invade Venezuela in the summer. “We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary,” the US President said.

Laverdière has also failed to challenge Canadian sanctions on Venezuela, which followed a similar move by the US. In a move that probably violated the UN and OAS charters, in September the elected president, vice president and 38 other Venezuelan officials had their assets in Canada frozen and Canadians were barred from having financial relations with these individuals. Two months later 19 Venezuelan officials were sanctioned under the just adopted Magnitsky Act, which Laverdière and the NDP backed.

Nor did I find any criticism of Canada’s role in the so-called Lima Group of anti-Venezuelan foreign ministers. Laverdière remained silent when foreign minister Chrystia Freeland organized a meeting of the Lima Group in Toronto four months ago.

She also ignored Canada’s role in directly financing 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.”

The NDP foreign critic also stayed mum when the federal government expelled Venezuelan diplomats’ from Canada in December.

Instead, Laverdière has repeatedly found cause to criticize Venezuela and call on Ottawa to do more to undermine Maduro’s government. She publicized and spoke to the weirdly themed “Demonstration for human and democratic rights in Venezuela in solidarity with Ukraine and Syria” and called Venezuela’s vice-president “a drug lord” from whom “the American government has seized billions of dollars of his assets for drug trafficking.”

Amidst opposition protests in the summer, Laverdière 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.”

Laverdière’s statement ignored the death and destruction caused by opposition protesters and the opposition’s effort to hamstring the government after it won control of the National Assembly in 2015.

At a foreign affairs committee meeting in June Laverdière responded to an anti-Venezuela screed by saying “I share many of his concerns.” Amongst a series of outrageous claims against the leftist government, Peter Kent told the committee: “As so many dictators have done over the centuries, Chávez blamed Venezuela’s small but dynamic Jewish community for stealing the wealth of the country. His henchmen endorsed the Holocaust.”

In June 2016 Laverdière put out a press release bemoaning “the erosion of democracy” and the need for Ottawa to “defend democracy in Venezuela”. In it Laverdière said, “the OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has invoked the Inter-American Democratic Charter regarding Venezuela, and Canada, as a member of the OAS, should support his efforts.” But, the former Uruguayan Foreign Minister’s actions as head of the OAS were highly controversial. They even prompted Almagro’s past boss, former Uruguayan president José Mujica, to condemn his bias against the Venezuelan government.

Amidst three months of violent right wing protests at the start of 2014, then NDP Americas critic Laverdière presented a position to the House of Commons titled “Human Rights in Venezuela” and sponsored a House of Commons resolution (slightly re-worded and reintroduced two days later by then foreign critic Paul Dewar) asking, ” the Government of Canada to urge Venezuelan authorities to proactively de-escalate the conflict, protect the human rights and democratic freedoms of Venezuelan citizens, release all those detained during the protests, immediately cease all government interference with peaceful protesters, and ensure that those people who perpetrated the violence be brought to justice and bear the full weight of the law.”

After the opposition once again cried foul when they lost the 2013 presidential election, Laverdière accused the Stephen Harper government of being soft on Venezuela (only elections the right wing wins are fair, in the eyes of large swaths of the opposition and Laverdière). “Canada’s silence is striking,” she told Ipolitics. “They had views on President Chávez, but now they don’t seem to actually care what’s happening in the country.”

In what may be the first ever resolution to an NDP convention calling for the removal of a party critic, the NDP Socialist Caucus has submitted a motion to next weekend’s convention titled “Hands Off Venezuela, Remove Hélène Laverdière as NDP Foreign Affairs Critic.” It notes: “Be It Resolved that the NDP actively oppose foreign interference in Venezuela, defend Venezuela’s right to self-determination, reject alignment with U.S. policy in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and beyond, and request the immediate removal of MP Hélène Laverdière as NDP Foreign Affairs Critic.”

NDP members who oppose imperialism need to challenge Laverdière’s support for Washington and Ottawa’s efforts to topple Venezuela’s elected government.

February 14, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 2 Comments

Western Journalists Threaten Venezuela

Whitewashing a vile opposition leadership for decades makes military invasion a possibility

By Joe Emersberger | teleSUR | January 9, 2018

“Venezuela opposition looks to military to oust Maduro. Dream on” says the headline to an article by John Otis in the Guardian. “Having failed to dislodge President Nicolás Maduro, the opposition is openly talking of a coup but mutual benefit links the military with the ruling party” reads the subheading.

Otis cites opposition leaders Julio Borges, Maria Corina Machado and former Economist “journalist” Phil Gunson who is now with the International Crisis Group.

Borges and Machado, and the most prominent opposition leaders today (Henrique Capriles and Leopoldo Lopez) supported five different attempts to oust Venezuela’s democratically elected government by force. Otis doesn’t write a word about any of those attempts in his article. He thereby prevents readers from understanding why the opposition has suffered so many electoral defeats in Venezuela’s “chavista” era of the last 20 years. It has nothing to do with “undemocratic maneuvers” by the Venezuelan government as Otis suggests. In Otis’ own country, an opposition leadership like Venezuela’s – violent and foreign-funded – would have been immediately imprisoned and never seen or heard from again.

The most successful attempt to oust Venezuela’s government by force was a military coup in 2002 that briefly succeeded. It ousted Hugo Chavez for 2 days. It was backed by the Bush administration and prominent US media. It was also supported, tacitly, by the Labour government of Tony Blair, a key contributor to war of aggression that killed hundreds of thousands of people, and a man whom the Guardian still makes periodic efforts to rehabilitate.

The most embarrassingly supportive of the 2002 coup was the New York Times editorial board that gushed over Pedro Carmona, the businessman turned dictator who fired Supreme Court justices, dismissed elected officials, and annulled the constitution voters had ratified in a referendum. Phil Gunson, like so many other corporate journalists based in Venezuela at the time, parroted the opposition’s propaganda during the coup. About 60 Chavez government supporters who rose up against Carmon’s dictatorship were killed, not that the international media cared then or now. Those deaths are routinely ignored when the coup is mentioned at all.

Months after that coup was defeated by a huge popular uprising among the poor, the opposition turned to massive sabotage of the oil industry that inflicted, at the time, the deepest economic downturn Venezuela had experienced in decades (until the current depression that began late in 2014).

In April of 2013, after the presidential election that Maduro won, Henrique Capriles led violent protests that sought to overturn the results by force. Those protests led to the deaths of several government supporters.

Early in 2014, shortly after suffering a big defeat in municipal elections, violent protests with the explicit aim of overthrowing the government were led by Machado and Lopez. They led to about 40 deaths; about half were government supporters, police or bystanders.

In 2016, violent protests led to 120 deaths. To the extent the facts are known, it appears the breakdown of the deaths is about the same as in 2014, with government supporters, police and bystanders accounting for roughly half the deaths.

Borges and other opposition leaders have constantly winked at another coup attempt like the one they briefly pulled off in 2002 by making direct veiled appeals to the military. While violent protests raged in 2014, Borges made such an appeal on Venezuela’s largest TV network (at about the 6:20 point of this video ). Borges turned to the cameras and said “…. A message to the armed forces: we know you are against the repression that is happening in Venezuela and that you want a constitution that will be respected….”

The hubris of Borges and other leaders has been greatly exacerbated by the overwhelming support they have received from the US government, the international corporate media and prominent NGOs. Borges recently likened Venezuelan migrants to infectious disease. He has openly boasted in Venezuelan media, where he very regularly appears, of having success blocking the government’s access to loans. In other words, Borges has bragged about making an economic crisis worse, a tactic opposed by most Venezuelans according to an opposition aligned pollster – and essentially confirmed by recent election results.

Otis’ article dismisses the Maduro government’s anti-corruption campaign, which has ensnared long time officials, as politically motivated. One can never discount political motivations in any government’s “anti-corruption” initiatives, but when perhaps the most brutal and backward government on earth, Saudi Arabia’s, launched a comically bogus “crackdown on corruption”, the Guardian published “news articles” that may as well have been written by the dictatorship. That these “news articles” brought no public protest from within the Guardian’s ranks, or resignations, speaks to how well-heeled and thoroughly “bought” liberal journalism is in the UK. Of course, hyping “reform” within Saudi Arabia has been done by the western media for several decades.

The positive or negative press a government gets in the western media has nothing to do with its record on democracy or human rights. It has everything to with whether or not western elites view it as sufficiently cooperative. Prominent Venezuelan opposition voices are now openly advocating foreign military invasion. If it happens, reporters like Otis and outlets the Guardian should be held primarily responsible. Two decades of relentless demonization of a democratically elected government have been essential to making that crime a possibility.

January 12, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Who Is In The Right In The Canada-Venezuela Diplomatic Dispute?

By Yves Engler | Venezuelanalysis | December 29, 2017

Lying is so common in diplomacy that it can be hard to tell heads from tails in international disputes. In the recent tussle between Caracas and Ottawa, for instance, Venezuela says it is trying to protect itself from foreign “interference” while Canada claims it is promoting “democracy and human rights”. Given the ever-present possibility of a complete disregard for truth on both sides, which government might be more credible in this instance?

Let us consider the background.

Last week Venezuela declared Canada’s chargé d’affaires in Caracas persona non grata. In making the announcement the president of the National Constituent Assembly Delcy Rodriguez denounced Craib Kowalik’s “permanent and insistent, rude and vulgar interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela.”

Is Rodriguez’s explanation for expelling Kowalik convincing?

In recent months foreign minister Chrystia Freeland has repeatedly criticized Venezuela’s elected government and reiterated that Canada is part of the so-called Lima Group of foreign ministers opposed to President Nicolás Maduro.

Following Washington’s lead, Ottawa has also imposed sanctions on Venezuelan officials and supported opposition groups.

In one project, the Canadian embassy distributed $125,212 through the Canadian Funding to Local Initiatives program, which “provided flexible, modest support for projects with high visibility and impact on human rights and the rule of law, including: enabling Venezuelan citizens to anonymously register and denounce corruption abuses by government officials and police through a mobile phone application in 2014-15.”

In August outgoing Canadian ambassador Ben Rowswell, a specialist in social media and political transition, told the Ottawa Citizen: “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 Venezuelan 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.”

So, obviously it’s hard to argue with Rodriguez’ claim that Canada has been “interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela.”

But, what to make of Freeland’s statement when Ottawa declared Venezuela’s top diplomat persona non grata in response, stating that “Canadians will not stand by as the government of Venezuela robs its people of their fundamental democratic and human rights”?

A series of decisions Freeland’s government has pursued over the past two weeks make it hard to take seriously Canada’s commitment to democracy and human rights:

  • Canada signed a defence cooperation arrangement with the United Arab Emirates. According to Radio Canada International, the accord with the monarchy “will make it easier for the Canadian defence industry to access one of the world’s most lucrative arms markets and bolster military ties between the two countries.”
  • Canada sided with the US, Israel and some tiny Pacific island states in opposing a UN resolution supporting Palestinian statehood backed by 176 nations.
  • Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen promoted Canadian energy and mining interests during a meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is seeking international legitimacy after winning a controversial election (re-run) boycotted by the opposition.
  • The Liberals added Ukraine to Canada’s Automatic Firearms Country Control List, which allows Canadian companies to export weapons to that country with little restriction. President Petro Poroshenko, who has a 2% popular approval rating, needs to make gains in the Ukraine’s civil war to shore up his legitimacy.

Just before expelling Venezuela’s chargé d’affaires Ottawa officially endorsed an electoral farce in Honduras. Following Washington, Global Affairs tweeted that Canada “acknowledges confirmation of Juan Orlando Hernandez as President of #Honduras.” But, Hernandez defied the country’s constitution in seeking a second term and since the election fraud on November 26 his forces have killed more than 30 pro-democracy demonstrators.

Author of Ottawa and Empire: Canada and the Military Coup in Honduras, Tyler Shipley responded: “Wow, Canada sinks to new lows with this. The entire world knows that the Honduran dictatorship has stolen an election, even the Organization of American States (an organization which skews right) has demanded that new elections be held because of the level of sketchiness here. And — as it has for over eight years — Canada is at the forefront of protecting and legitimizing this regime built on fraud and violence. Even after all my years of research on this, I’m stunned that Freeland would go this far; I expected Canada to stay quiet until Juan Orlando Hernandez had fully consolidated his power. Instead Canada is doing the heavy lifting of that consolidation.”

During the past two weeks Canadian decision makers have repeatedly undermined or ignored democracy and human rights.

While Caracas’ rationale for expelling Canadian diplomats appears credible, the same cannot be said for Ottawa’s move. In the tit-for-tat between Canada and Venezuela Canadians would do better to trust Caracas.

December 30, 2017 Posted by | Deception | , , , | 1 Comment