Thursday, April 03, 2014

If You're Asking If The U.S. Still Does Imperialism, You Have To Be Joking, Right?


In February when the U.S. was bringing violent outbursts to a head in Venezuela, we warned you that our government was aiming to destabilize the legitimately elected government there. A leaked document from November of 2013 shows that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) collaborated with the Colombian government and Venezuelan opposition leaders to destabilize Venezuela and stoke massive protests. Calling for sabotage and violence a 15-point plan instructed operatives to "Maintain and increase the sabotage that affect the population's services, particularly the electricity system, that puts blame on the government for assumed inefficiencies and negligence… Whenever possible, the violence should cause deaths and injuries. Encourage hunger strikes of numerous days, massive mobilisations, problems in the universities and other sectors of society now identified with government institutions."

This week, the NY Times published an OpEd by the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. He felt he needed to correct the impression the foreign media was making about his country by spewing propaganda. It was damn Christian of the Times to allow him to. He started with exactly what drives western plutocrats up the wall.
According to the United Nations, Venezuela has consistently reduced inequality: It now has the lowest income inequality in the region. We have reduced poverty enormously-- to 25.4 percent in 2012, on the World Bank’s data, from 49 percent in 1998; in the same period, according to government statistics, extreme poverty diminished to 6 percent from 21 percent.

We have created flagship universal health care and education programs, free to our citizens nationwide. We have achieved these feats in large part by using revenue from Venezuelan oil.

…The claims that Venezuela has a deficient democracy and that current protests represent mainstream sentiment are belied by the facts. The antigovernment protests are being carried out by people in the wealthier segments of society who seek to reverse the gains of the democratic process that have benefited the vast majority of the people.

Antigovernment protesters have physically attacked and damaged health care clinics, burned down a university in Táchira State and thrown Molotov cocktails and rocks at buses. They have also targeted other public institutions by throwing rocks and torches at the offices of the Supreme Court, the public telephone company CANTV and the attorney general’s office. These violent actions have caused many millions of dollars’ worth of damage. This is why the protests have received no support in poor and working-class neighborhoods.

The protesters have a single goal: the unconstitutional ouster of the democratically elected government. Antigovernment leaders made this clear when they started the campaign in January, vowing to create chaos in the streets. Those with legitimate criticisms of economic conditions or the crime rate are being exploited by protest leaders with a violent, antidemocratic agenda.

In two months, a reported 36 people have been killed. The protesters are, we believe, directly responsible for about half of the fatalities. Six members of the National Guard have been shot and killed; other citizens have been murdered while attempting to remove obstacles placed by protesters to block transit.

A very small number of security forces personnel have also been accused of engaging in violence, as a result of which several people have died. These are highly regrettable events, and the Venezuelan government has responded by arresting those suspected. We have created a Human Rights Council to investigate all incidents related to these protests. Each victim deserves justice, and every perpetrator-- whether a supporter or an opponent of the government-- will be held accountable for his or her actions.

In the United States, the protesters have been described as “peaceful,” while the Venezuelan government is said to be violently repressing them. According to this narrative, the American government is siding with the people of Venezuela; in reality, it is on the side of the 1 percent who wish to drag our country back to when the 99 percent were shut out of political life and only the few-- including American companies-- benefited from Venezuela’s oil.

Let’s not forget that some of those who supported ousting Venezuela’s democratically elected government in 2002 are leading the protests today. Those involved in the 2002 coup immediately disbanded the Supreme Court and the legislature, and scrapped the Constitution. Those who incite violence and attempt similar unconstitutional actions today must face the justice system.

The American government supported the 2002 coup and recognized the coup government despite its anti-democratic behavior. Today, the Obama administration spends at least $5 million annually to support opposition movements in Venezuela. A bill calling for an additional $15 million for these anti-government organizations is now in Congress. Congress is also deciding whether to impose sanctions on Venezuela. I hope that the American people, knowing the truth, will decide that Venezuela and its people do not deserve such punishment, and will call upon their representatives not to enact sanctions.
I hope so too, but isn't that up to the Koch brothers to decide? Whom, after all, are "the American people" any longer? Besides, maybe Obama should stop trying to overthrow the elected government of Venezuela and just keep concentrating on the idiotic plan to stir up revolution in Cuba with ZunZuneo, a "Cuban twitter."
Documents show the U.S. government planned to build a subscriber base through "non-controversial content": news messages on soccer, music, and hurricane updates. Later when the network reached a critical mass of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators would introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organize "smart mobs"-- mass gatherings called at a moment's notice that might trigger a Cuban Spring, or, as one USAID document put it, "renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society."

…ZunZuneo would seem to be a throwback from the Cold War, and the decades-long struggle between the United States and Cuba. It came at a time when the historically sour relationship between the countries had improved, at least marginally, and Cuba had made tentative steps toward a more market-based economy.

It is unclear whether the plan got its start with USAID or Creative Associates International, a Washington, D.C., for-profit company that has earned hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. contracts.

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At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm thrilled and surprised to hear that the Times allowed Maduro to post an editorial response to the Times' and the rest of the U.S. media's consistent lying about Venezuela, supported and enabled by the Obama administration. It's been one of the biggest political shocks in my life to have watched the Ugly American Yanquis in wretched action against the people of Venezuela since Hugo Chavez was first elected president. All the old stereotypes of intimidation, character assassination, blood libel propaganda, and just outright prevarication after prevarication and slander and libel - just a bunch of unnecessary mayhem and suffering perpetrated by our government and its mass lemming culture. It's every bit as nasty and full-throttled hate as anything Orwell dreamed up.

I hate to say it or think it, but any system of governance that has created and sustained such dark and violent political arts as practiced against Venezuela for more than 100 years - especially at the crucial moment in Venezuela's history when it was struggling to finally raise the standard of living for its huge number of economically disadvantaged (caused by 100 years of American-style commercial oligarchy) - I think it has to be true that the American system of government is evil. And I'm not a religious nut. But what else can you call something so disgustingly monstrous and incorrigible, so incapable of changing, and so capable of raining devastation down on so many millions of people across the world all at the same time and thinking of it as a good thing. That's some dark arts you practice, America.

- L.P.


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