Judi Lynn's Journal
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 83,012
Number of posts: 83,012
March 12, 2014
The Anti-Cuba Privateers
How Florida Reactionaries Undermine Venezuelan Democracy
by W.T. WHITNEY
Remember the Tonkin Gulf Resolution? In 1964 that joint congressional resolution propelled the United States into war lasting nine years. Resolution 488, passed by House of Representatives by a 393 – 1 vote on March 4, is a moral and practical equivalent. Its title was “Supporting the people of Venezuela as they protest peacefully for democracy, a reduction in violent crime and calling for an end to recent violence.”
The vote took place under a provision known as “suspension of the rules” which Congress uses for “legislation of non-controversial bills.” The sole dissenter was a Kentucky Republican. Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced R 488. In Florida she represents the 27th congressional district, part of Miami-Dade County. All but unanimous backing for the resolution is reprehensible – for three reasons.
One, the resolution did not tell the truth. It speaks of Venezuelans “protesting peacefully.” Actually as of March 7 protesters had shot five people dead. Three were soldiers. Six deaths are attributed to opposition roadblocks, 30 more because roadblocks prevented access to emergency services. Soldiers had killed three people, one a government supporter. When protests started in Táchira, Mérida, and Caracas in early February, police did not intervene until government offices and police cars were being attacked and burned and until food and medical supply trucks were blocked. The government arrested officers who violated orders to to act with restraint.
The resolution suggests Venezuela is undemocratic. Over 15 years, however, governments there have won 17 out of 18 national elections. They are elections that for fairness and efficiency are “the best in the world,” according to the Carter Center in Georgia. Press freedom abounds: Venezuela’ predominately privately-owned newspapers and television outlets disseminate opposition viewpoints. Their television broadcasts reach 90 percent of viewers nationally.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Sun Mar 16, 2014, 06:16 AM (0 replies)
Weekend Edition March 14-16, 2014
Recommendations for the U.S. Left
No Middle Road on Venezuela
by SUREN MOODLIAR
2. The U.S. left needs to radically up its game when it comes to the media
It is now common place to assert that the U.S. left is weakened by the relative absence of a significant left-wing media establishment. However, in its action planning and investment of admittedly modest resources, the left has failed to prioritize the strengthening of its presence in the media. The recent Venezuelan protests have demonstrated the ability of the right to construct a powerful narrative about the events and to polarize the global conversation. In particular, every action and counteraction is framed within this narrative. As a result, left-wing attention to facts and details is simply misplaced. For example, when Venezuelan opposition figures advocate tactics causing the beheading (!) of motorcyclists, the U.S. media treat them as legitimate actors on the national political stage instead of say their Middle Eastern or Pakistani counterparts who employ similar tactics.
The case of former General Angel Vivas is instructive. The U.S. media treats him as a folk hero who rejects the Bolivarian military and Cuban influence. Adding to his celebrity was the sudden inflation of his Twitter account to a quarter million followers. The Wall Street Journal (2/27/2014) celebrated the general with the headline, “Venezuelan Unrest Creates a New Folk Hero” < http://on.wsj.com/1f2gxrd >. It then carefully frames Angel Vivas’s lethal tutelage, “he offered practical advice on how to defend against attacks, particularly by gangs of pro-government thugs on motorcycles that were blamed for the shooting deaths of several protesters. The general recommended stringing up nylon or wire across streets to prevent riders from crossing.” Practical advice, indeed! The government’s attempt to arrest Vivas was then treated as another example of the revolution’s suppression of free speech.
We can only imagine the Journal’s response to similarly thuggish and lethal advice had it issued from say the #Occupy movement. Unfortunately, having effectively established its narrative, the establishment is free to use one standard for the government and another for the opposition. Even a cursory examination of mainstream framing of the events in Venezuela, reveals the key role played by extremists ensconced in the Journal in defining the narrative, at the outset of the current protests, before significant Venezuelan state responses and most U.S. media attention. Before Vivas’s 15 minutes of U.S. fame, Mary O’Grady, a Journal editor, was dictating the line via her weekly column. Her framing of the story is wholly consistent with Otto Reich’s playbook as evidenced by the title of her February 13th column, “Cuba Moves In for the Kill” < http://on.wsj.com/1c5Jo2S >. Absent proof, filled with undocumented assertions, O’Grady established a pretext for foreign intervention. After all, aren’t the Cubans are already intervening? O’Grady has already been challenged on many occasions for her fantasy-based journalism. Unusually, back in 2004, O’Grady received a firm rebuke in a letter from former President Jimmy Carter to the Journal advising her to respect the will of Venezuelan voters <http://bloom.bg/1n8lF3E >. Over the years, more exposés followed, but none of this seems to have fazed either the Journal’s management or the rest of the media establishment. Instead, it seems to have created space as tendentious reportage appearing in the New York Times (Simon Romero through 2011), the Washington Post (its Juan Forero has now joined O’Grady at the Journal < http://bit.ly/1c5N2d7 > ) and National Public Radio.
So, when President Maduro expressed his suspicion about the sudden closing of pro-government Twitter accounts and a small but sharp drop in number of his own Twitter followers, U.S. media framed it as an example of his paranoia and lack of technical sophistication. Ridicule followed in the media when Maduro called for the “liberation of Latin America from Twitter.” In contrast, the media is at pains to emphasize the Harvard education of leading right-wing opposition figure, Leopoldo López. Completely removed from the conversation are the close ties between Twitter and the U.S. Department of State. Specifically relevant to Venezuela is the co-sponsorship of the global Alliance of Youth Movements by all the major technology companies, including Twitter, Apple and Google (see their website at <http://movements.org > for evidence of the close relationship between the corporations and the State Department). A Condoleezza Rice aide, Jared Cohen, and Hillary Clinton’s State Department founded the alliance.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Sun Mar 16, 2014, 04:37 AM (0 replies)
Weekend Edition March 14-16, 2014
John Kerry: the Belligerent Diplomat
Behind the Lies About Venezuela’s Protests
by GARRY LEECH
US Secretary of State John Kerry recently called on the Venezuelan government to end the “terror campaign against its own citizens.” Kerry’s words are just the latest in US and mainstream media efforts to portray the month-long protests in Venezuela as peaceful popular demonstrations against an authoritarian regime that has resorted to repression to quell the uprisings. As a result, the Venezuelan government, as Kerry’s statement illustrates, is being blamed for most of the 28 deaths that have occurred. But is this portrayal accurate? A closer look at the reality on the ground paints a very different picture. From the beginning, the protesters have been armed, have conducted widespread arson and have been intent on achieving the unconstitutional overthrow of a democratically-elected government.
The protests in Venezuela have primarily occurred in middle and upper class neighborhoods in seven cities across the country. Most of these neighborhoods are governed by opposition mayors who support the protesters. In fact, protests of any sort have only occurred in 18 of the country’s 335 municipalities during the past month. This context is important because the media has created the impression that the protests constitute some sort of peaceful popular uprising against the government of President Nicolas Maduro. In reality, it is a relatively small number of people in opposition strongholds who have taken to the streets while the overwhelming majority of Venezuelans, particularly in the poorer barrios, continue to go about their daily lives unaffected by the disruptions.
From the first days of the protests in early February many of the demonstrators at the improvised street blockades in Merida and Tachira were armed with handguns. The first weekend of protests in Merida saw balaclava-clad protesters boarding buses and wielding guns as they forced passengers to disembark. Protesters were also observed throwing shrapnel at passing motorists. That same weekend, three protesters held a journalist at gunpoint and threatened to kill her. Meanwhile, protesters in Tachira beat another journalist with a lead pipe. Throughout the past month, protesters have also used petrol bombs against government targets. The principal targets have been government-run health clinics and food markets, resulting in more than $1.5 million in damage to these symbols of the revolution in the first two weeks of protests.
In one particularly heinous act of violence, 29-year-old motorcycle rider Santiago Enrique Pedroza was decapitated at a street blockade when he rode through a steel wire stretched across the road at neck height. This tactic was apparently inspired by the tweets of retired army general Angel Vivas, who is allied with the opposition. Vivas promoted the use of wire at blockades to “neutralize” motorcyclists who were members of Leech_Capitalism_Cover-191x300community collectives that supported the government. The day before the decapitation, he tweeted, “In order to neutralize criminal hordes on motorbikes, one must place nylon string or galvanized wire across the street, at a height of 1.2 meters.” The general tweeted recommendations for other tactics, including “to render armored vehicles of the dictatorship useless, Molotov cocktails should be thrown under the motor, to burn belts and hoses, they become inoperative.” The government ordered the arrest of Vivas the day after the decapitation.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Sun Mar 16, 2014, 03:58 AM (0 replies)
Weekend Edition March 14-16, 2014
The Struggle Against Contemporary Fascism
Don’t Pray for Venezuela
by CHRIS GILBERT
The progressivist view of history often goes hand in hand with the faith that a new class – sometimes the proletariat, at other times “the people” – has a privileged perspective or consciousness. If scientific (as opposed to vulgar) Marxism debunks this idea on a theoretical level – showing how commodity and money fetishism’s inversions of reality affect all classes alike – then fascism belies the progressivist faith on a practical level, showing that neither in the streets nor in the social networks do progress and reason have to reign.
The fascists who operate today in Venezuela – to say nothing of those active in the Ukraine, Greece or Colombia – are by no means a historical aberration. Only if we take one of capitalism’s key myths at face value must we imagine that our current society is the wondrous culmination of a teleological evolutionary process and cannot just as well contain a host of violent and irrational elements that, far from being “atavistic,” are simply part and parcel with capitalist modernity. In fact, capitalism’s historical tendency, if any such thing exists, is not toward growing illustration but rather toward increasing barbarism.
In the Bolivarian Republic, easygoing tropical culture notwithstanding, young people and students have recently taken to the streets, donning ski masks and white shirts to defy public order with the typical fascist combination of destructiveness and repudiation of intellect(fighting shortages by destroying stocks, solving educational bottlenecks by burning institutions of learning, and overcoming insecurity by attacking the police). The beleaguered government, which is clumsy and paternalistic but well-meaning, organizes a national Peace Conference that incorporates opposition politicians and businessmen. At this conference literally everybody is welcome, but the response of the students is (in practical terms): Viva la muerte!
During the course of the past century the left’s response to an upsurge in fascism has generally taken one of two basic directions. The Popular Front tactic aims to group many non-fascist sectors into a large antifascist bloc. The alliance with the national bourgeoisie, so dear to the hearts of communist parties, comes into play here. All the progressist forces including center and liberal organizations are lumped together. They are heaped into the same messy but presumably powerful grab bag, the direction of which is left in some measure to “historical forces.”
Posted by Judi Lynn | Sun Mar 16, 2014, 03:54 AM (0 replies)
Chile Government Apologises To Indigenous Mapuches 'For Taking Their Lands'
SANTIAGO (CHILE), March 14 (BERNAMA-NNN-MERCOPRESS) -- The government of President Michelle Bachelet apologises in the name of the Chilean state to the indigenous Mapuche tribe "for taking their lands" and said it has a pending debt in terms of public policies that will allow the La Araucania region, where 600,000 of the Indians live, to emerge from poverty.
The statement was made by the new governor of the zone, Francisco Huenchumilla, one of the regional officials named by newly inaugurated President Michelle Bachelet.
In Araucania, indigenous militants have torched vehicles, highway toll booths and lumber shipments as part of a struggle to reclaim lands the Mapuches lost during a 19th century "pacification" campaign. Those lands are now largely occupied by lumber and agricultural interests.
"The state's payment of this debt is pending and for more than 130 years it has implemented public policies that have not managed to bring this region out of poverty and from among the last areas of national development," the governor said.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Sun Mar 16, 2014, 03:41 AM (0 replies)
Chile's Student Movement Leads the Way: Progressive Prospects for Michelle Bachelet's Second Term
Friday, 14 March 2014 10:06
By Benjamin Dangl, Toward Freedom
"I want to pay special homage to my father and to all those who gave their lives in the fight to recover democracy," an emotional Isabel Allende said upon taking office as the Senate President this Tuesday. Allende is the daughter of Salvador Allende, the former socialist president of Chile who died during a US-backed military coup in 1973. "I know he'd be proud to see his daughter in this role."
Later that day, Allende, (different from the novelist with the same, who is a distant relative), passed the presidential sash to left-leaning President Michelle Bachelet as she entered her second term in office. The two embraced warmly; it was the first time in Chilean history the sash had been passed between two women.
This historic event marks a crack in the legacy of dictator Augusto Pinochet, an event he and his allies probably believed would never be possible when they oversaw the bombing of Allende's presidential palace, the systematic torture and murdering of thousands of people, and the application of a disastrous neoliberal economy.
Bachelet's return to the presidency, and her promise for structural changes to Chile's educational and political system, is the result of a decades-long struggle to move out of the shadow of the Pinochet dictatorship, and is one of the fruits of the more recent student movement for a better society.
Unlike the fascist brats in Venezuela, these students fight for better conditions for those who NEED education, medical care, safe, clean housing, decent wages, etc.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Sun Mar 16, 2014, 03:31 AM (0 replies)
Certified Right-Wing Extremists Set to Take Control of House Foreign Affairs Panels
Written by Alexander Main
Friday, 05 November 2010 15:42
In the early years of the past decade, two hard-line Cold Warriors, closely associated with radical Cuban exile groups in Florida, occupied strategic positions in the U.S. foreign policy machine. Otto Reich, former head of the Reagan administration’s covert propaganda operations in Central America, and Roger Noriega, co-author of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, took turns running the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and held other influential administration posts such as ambassador to the Organization of American States and White House Special Envoy to the Western Hemisphere.
During their years of tenure in the George W. Bush Administration, they led a zealous crusade against left-leaning governments in the region and, among other things, actively supported a short-lived coup d’Etat against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2002 and a successful coup against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti in 2004. Ultimately, their extreme views and outrageous antics on the international stage proved to be too much of an embarrassment even for the Bush Administration, and they both eventually were relieved of their government jobs well before the end of Bush’s term.
Connie Mack is relatively young and has only been in office since 2005. Consequently, he has had less time to cozy up to terrorists and coup regimes. However, he has made impressive efforts to prove his extreme right-wing credentials. He has focused in particular on the grave “threat Venezuela’s Communist President Hugo Chavez poses to the U.S. and our allies in the region.”
Posted by Judi Lynn | Fri Mar 14, 2014, 11:10 PM (1 replies)
for the side AGAINST the US-backed monsters there:
Posted by Judi Lynn | Fri Mar 14, 2014, 01:48 AM (1 replies)
There's no way you can hide behind your wild and reckless footwork, kicking up all the dust you can to cloud the issue. It's as plain as the nose somewhere on your body.
Quickly grabbed references from DU, already posted:
Paraguay's Forgotten Coup
Did a bloody confrontation over land rights lead to a coup against the country's former President Fernando Lugo?
People and Power Last updated: 26 Dec 2013 18:56
~ snip ~
By filmmaker Reed Lindsay
I first went to Paraguay in September 2002, and was shocked by the country's stark inequalities and seemingly brazen corruption.
One narrow street separated the Senate building from a vast slum of tin-roofed shanties. The economy was propped up by the smuggling of cigarettes and other contraband. And in the latest of a series of scandals, the president at the time was discovered to have been using a stolen BMW as his personal limousine. The brutal 35-year dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner had come to an end in 1989, but his Colorado Party was still firmly in power, causing many Paraguayans to question the benefits of their fledgling democracy.
But in the countryside, landless campesinos were taking full advantage of the dictatorship's demise. They were organising road-blocking protests and occupying land claimed by powerful businessmen and politicians, acts of defiance that would have been unthinkable under the iron-fisted rule of Stroessner.
However, as in many other Latin American countries, the battle over land in Paraguay played out in relative obscurity.
A decade later, the conflict between campesinos and landowners has taken centre stage politically like nowhere else in the hemisphere, bringing down a president and changing the course of a nation.
Déjà Coup All Over Again
The U.S. is silent as Paraguay follows in the steps of Honduras
BY Jeremy Kryt
Diplomatic relations in Latin America were rocked by the ouster of Paraguay’s President Fernando Lugo on June 22, after a hasty and controversial impeachment trial by the nation’s Congress.
Governments throughout the region denounced the proceedings as an “institutional coup,” and moved to sever ties with their soy-exporting, deeply impoverished neighbor. Meanwhile, in the capital of Asunción, schools shut down, shops closed their doors, and crowds of angry demonstrators took to the streets to protest the toppling of the first freely elected president in the country’s history.
Lugo is the third democratically-elected Latin American leader to be targeted for regime change in the last three years. A police-led uprising against the president of Ecuador was successfully put down in September 2010. A year earlier, in June 2009, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped by soldiers and flown out of the country. As in Paraguay, the Honduran Congress was used to legitimize a puppet government.
A moderate leftist and a former Catholic priest, Lugo had been dragged before Congress on vague charges of “poor performance.” Given 24 hours to prepare a defense, he had just two hours to present his case before the opposition-controlled Senate. The verdict was delivered almost without debate, and the man known as “the Bishop of the Poor” was told to clean out his office—replaced by Vice President Federico Franco, a member of the far-Right opposition. ..................(more)
In the Shadow of Paraguay's Coup: Social Movements Mobilize for Democracy
Rain or shine, every Thursday in Asunción, Paraguay, activists gather to protest the right-wing government of Federico Franco, which came to power in a June 22 parliamentary coup against left-leaning president Fernando Lugo. These weekly protests represent a new spirit and strategy of protest in post-coup Paraguay.
The coup gave birth to new corporate agreements, repression of citizens' rights and crackdowns on press freedoms. It also unwittingly created a new panorama of leftist social struggles and movements.
These movements for democracy have risen up against the coup government and the renewed state and corporate assaults on human rights, the environment, and small farmers. Some activists are protesting politically motivated layoffs while others are demanding a new constitution. Beyond questioning the Franco government, these movements are putting forth a progressive agenda in the debate about what kind of country Paraguayans want, regardless of who is in power.
"What we are seeing are self-organized protests that are organized collectively," Gabriela Schvartzman Muñoz, the spokeswoman for Movimiento Kuña Pyrenda, a socialist and feminist political movement which organizes the Thursday protests in the capital, explained in a phone interview from Asunción.
A soft coup in South America
July 12, 2012
A soft coup in South America
The questionable removal of President Fernando Lugo of Paraguay by the country’s Senate, nine months before the end of his five-year-term in April 2013, raises questions about the state of democracy in South America, much as the coup in Honduras did three years ago for Central America. For a region with a recent transition to democracy, this is worrisome. For a country like Paraguay, dominated until 2008 by 61 years of uninterrupted rule by the Colorado party of General Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989), that veritable archetype of the Latin American dictator, this is especially so.
Twenty-odd years into democratic transition and consolidation in Latin America, we were hearing that democracy had stabilised, that the concern was no longer of coups, but of the quality of democracy and the latter’s ability to deliver the goods and services citizens expected. Free and fair elections were taking place, alternation in power was the rule and civil liberties and press freedom were respected. The real challenge now, we were told, was how to move from these “low-intensity democracies”, to governments that ensured not just the respect of political and civil rights, but also those of social and economic ones. Latin America’s economic boom over the past decade and the social policies of some governments around the region were starting to make that happen, in a part of the world that continues to have the most unequal distribution of income anywhere.
So, how did Paraguay fare under President Lugo? Was the country going down the drain, to “hell in a hand-basket” under the ministrations of the good bishop?
Well, not really. Although hit, like every other country, by the Great Recession of 2008-2009, in 2010, the Paraguayan economy grew 14.5 per cent, one of the highest rates in the world, comparable to the rates clocked by Singapore or some of the Gulf Emirates, and Paraguay’s highest in 30 years. It grew again at 6 per cent in 2011, and prospects are upbeat for this year as well. In other words, the country is booming, and doing better than it ever did in the past. This is largely driven by the cultivation of soya, of which Paraguay has become the fourth largest producer in the world, with 8.4 million tonnes in 2011, and some $1.5 billion in exports, much of it to China. President Lugo, aware of the significance of the Indian market for soya as well, had visited India in May. It is said that soya has become so significant that it has replaced smuggling as Paraguay’s main economic activity.
Paraguay: coup backers push for US military bases
Submitted by Weekly News Update on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 23:30.
A group of US generals reportedly visited Paraguay for a meeting with legislators on June 22 to discuss the possibility of building a military base in the Chaco region, which borders on Bolivia in western Paraguay. The meeting coincided with the Congress's sudden impeachment the same day of left-leaning president Fernando Lugo, who at times has opposed a US military presence in the country. In 2009 Lugo cancelled maneuvers that the US Southern Command was planning to hold in Paraguay in 2010 as part of its "New Horizons" program.
More bases in the Chaco are "necessary," rightwing deputy José López Chávez, who presides over the Chamber of Deputies' Committee on Defense, said in a radio interview. Bolivia, governed by socialist president Evo Morales, "constitutes a threat for Paraguay, due to the arms race it's developing," according to López Chávez. Bolivia and Paraguay fought a war over the sparsely populated Chaco from 1932 to 1935, the last major war over territory in South America.
The US has been pushing recently to set up military bases in the Southern Cone, including one in Chile and one in Argentina's northeastern Chaco province, which is close to the Paraguayan Chaco, although it doesn't share a border with Paraguay. Unidentified military sources say that the US has already built infrastructure for its own troops in Paraguayan army installations near the country's borders with Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil; for example, an installation in Mariscal Estigarribia, some 250 km from Bolivia, has a runway almost 3.8 km long, in a country with a very limited air force. (La Jornada, Mexico, July 1, from correspondent in Argentina)
The Chaco is thought to have some oil reserves. Richard González, a representative of Texas-based Crescent Global Oil, announced on June 28 that the company was investing $10 million in the region, starting with exploratory drilling in September or October of this year. The announcement came after Crescent's representatives met with Federico Franco, who was Lugo's vice president before being appointed president by Congress. Supporters of Lugo's ouster claim the investment by the US company could ease Paraguay's total dependence on foreign oil. Venezuela, which supplies 30% of Paraguay's oil, cut off shipments after the removal of the elected president. (Prensa Latina, June 29; La Nación, Paraguay, June 29)
ETC., ETC., ETC.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Thu Mar 13, 2014, 11:25 PM (1 replies)
March 12, 2014
Backdrop to a Coup
Rio de Janeiro in 1964
by MICHAEL UHL
Rio de Janeiro in 1964 remained the de facto seat of the Brazilian government and home to its corps of international diplomats. Despite the fact that Brasilia, the modernist architectural ghost town erected in the scrublands of the country’s isolated interior was designated Brazil’s new capital in 1960, the foot dragging went on for years before the embassies and the governing bureaucrats accepted the inevitability that they would have to, not just occasionally commute between Rio and the new capital, but actually decamp and live there. Think of the founders and the whole apparatus of State being forced to abandon cosmopolitan Philadelphia in 1800 for swampy, malarial Washington. By 1964 standards, going to Brasilia, today Brazil’s 4th largest city was worse.
Thus, when the coup unfolded on March 31, 1964 that brought down the democratically elected government of Joao (Jango) Goulart, American diplomats were still pulling strings on behalf of the Putschists from their comfortable embassy board rooms on the Avenida Woodrow Wilson in downtown Rio. And yours truly, a wet behind the ears undergraduate at the local Jesuit university for a year, in a Zelig-like coincidence, witnessed the military takeover from a window facing Copacabana beach in a building where the deposed president himself had an apartment.
Michael Uhl is the author of Vietnam Awakening.
This article originally appeared on In the Mindfield.
The dictatorship and its afterglow endured a quarter century until the direct election by popular vote of Fernando Collor de Mello in 1989, following the creation a year earlier of a new constitution, by far Brazil’s most democratic. Even then the military hovered in the wings having inserted into the new charter, according to historian Daniel Aarao Reis, the authoritarian wedge “of the military’s right to intervene in the national political life if they are summoned by the head of one of the three branches of government.”
Now, with twenty five years of democratic governments under their belt, and a flow of peaceful transitions from one presidential term to the next – including the resignation of President Collor under investigation for corruption – a Brazilian electorate many times larger than the one that brought Jango to office in 1961, might finally imagine itself immune from any future threat to democratic rule by the military, despite the menacing clause that lies dormant in their constitution.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Thu Mar 13, 2014, 05:40 PM (0 replies)