Archive for the Venezuela Category

Why U.S. rulers fear new Asian investment bank “AIIB” [Workers World]

Posted in Africa, Bill Clinton, Bolivia, China, China-US relations, Economy, Ecuador, France, Germany, IMF - International Monetary Fund, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Neo-colonialism, U.K., US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, Venezuela, Wall Street, World War II on March 28, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Deirdre Griswold March 24, 2015

Britain, France, Italy and Germany have agreed to join China in establishing an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. China has already announced it will put up $50 billion in initial capital.

It is too early to say what role this bank will play in helping underdeveloped countries modernize their infrastructure. Negotiations among the principals on the bank’s structure and policies are expected to take place for at least a year. What will emerge cannot be predicted at this time.

But one thing is very clear: Wall Street and Washington are fuming over the fact that the European imperialist countries are joining in, despite strong U.S. pressure to stay out.

Criticism of the new development bank by the U.S. has begun, with government officials telling the media they fear it will undermine the “good work” done by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which, they say, have aided developing countries while imposing regulations to protect the environment and help the poor.

You’re choking on this outrageous lie right now? So are we.

Tons of both popular and scholarly analyses of these institutions, and especially of the “structural adjustment programs” they have forced down the throats of poor countries, show that the kind of “development” they foster has usually done just the opposite: stripped countries of needed government services, increased their indebtedness and hurt the environment, all to benefit the financial institutions of the imperialists.

Take the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, for example, which have been going through the most horrific public health emergency caused by the spread of the Ebola virus. These countries are so poor that, even after Liberia declared an end to new cases, a televised news report on the return of a score of students to classes pointed out that their grammar school, which when full serves 1,000 students, has no electricity and no running water.

On Dec. 22, The Lancet, a preeminent British medical journal, published a commentary called “The International Monetary Fund and the Ebola outbreak.” It reads: “A major reason why the outbreak spread so rapidly was the weakness of health systems in the region. … Since 1990, the IMF has provided support to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, for 21, 7 and 19 years, respectively, and at the time that Ebola emerged, all three countries were under IMF programs. However, IMF lending comes with strings attached — so-called ‘conditionalities’ — that require recipient governments to adopt policies that have been criticized for prioritizing short-term economic objectives over investment in health and education.”

The authors add that “economic reform programs by the IMF have required reductions in government spending, prioritization of debt service, and bolstering of foreign exchange reserves.” In other words, recipient countries — which should be receiving reparations for all the wealth extracted from them by colonial rule — have instead been forced to cut back on health care, education and other services in order to pay interest on loans.

* Bretton Woods, the IMF and World Bank *

Why does the U.S. ruling class feel particularly threatened by this new China-headed development bank? Because U.S. banks have dominated the financial architecture of the capitalist world for decades. The U.S. emerged from World War II as the undisputed global industrial and financial powerhouse, while Europe and Japan were in ruins and all regions involved in the world war were suffering.

The intention of the U.S. imperialist ruling class to translate its military and industrial muscle into financial domination over the rest of the world was made clear even before the war ended, with the founding of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. This conclave in New Hampshire of the soon-to-be-victorious Allied powers was dominated by Washington and London. It established the “tradition” that the president of the World Bank would always come from the U.S.

One can read many critiques of these institutions. One was an interview by Greg Palast with Joseph Stieglitz, a former chief economist of the World Bank, member of Bill Clinton’s cabinet and chair of his Council of Economic Advisers who turned against his former bosses.

Stieglitz told Palast that when nations are “down and out, [the IMF] squeezes the last drop of blood out of them. They turn up the heat until, finally, the whole cauldron blows up.” He referred to these social explosions as “IMF riots,” pointing to what happened when the IMF eliminated food and fuel subsidies in Indonesia in 1998, when it made Bolivia increase water prices in 2000, and when the World Bank imposed a rise in cooking gas prices on Ecuador in February 2001. (“IMF’s Four Steps to Damnation,” The Observer, April 29, 2001)

In Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the people have tried to get rid of governments that served as tools of these imperialist-dominated financial institutions and have looked for other ways to climb out of poverty. In Latin America, the result has been ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) — an alliance of countries, led by Venezuela, that is trying to break free of the stranglehold over their economies imposed by U.S. imperialism for nearly two centuries.

The anti-colonial revolutions that began in Asia in the 1930s and spread throughout the so-called Third World in the 1950s and 1960s drove out the structures of direct colonial rule. Bretton Woods was the answer of the imperialists: Keep the masses of people enslaved to the banks.

Washington’s objections to the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank have nothing to do with anything except the fear of U.S. capitalists that they could be losing their grip on what has been their main tool for world domination. As a backup, of course, they have the Pentagon, making the struggle against imperialist war ever more urgent.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/03/24/why-u-s-rulers-fear-new-asian-investment-bank/

The struggle of Venezuela against ‘a common enemy’ [Johnpilger.com]

Posted in Hugo Chavez, Media cover-up, Media smear campaign, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela on March 27, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Feb. 17, 2015

Albert: Why would the United States want Venezuela’s government overthrown?

Pilger: There are straightforward principles and dynamics at work here. Washington wants to get rid of the Venezuelan government because it is independent of US designs for the region and because Venezuela has the greatest proven oil reserves in the world and uses its oil revenue to improve the quality of ordinary lives. Venezuela remains a source of inspiration for social reform in a continent ravaged by an historically rapacious US…

Excerpted; full article link: http://johnpilger.com/articles/the-struggle-of-venezuela-against-a-common-enemy

‘Spring Rising’ Protests decry 12 years of U.S. wars abroad [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, Cuba, DPR Korea, Genocide, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Mexico, Obama, Pakistan, Palestine, Pentagon, Philippines, Police brutality, Police State, Russia, Ukraine, US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela, War crimes on March 26, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

March 23, 2015

Antiwar actions called Spring Rising, focusing on the 12th anniversary of the criminal U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and continued war in Afghanistan, were held in Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis and other cities around the United States. Spring Rising was initiated by Cindy Sheehan, anti-war activist and mother of U.S. Army Specialist Casey Sheehan who was killed in Iraq.

In Washington there were four days of actions, including a teach-in, political lobbying and a bus tour of sites of war contractors. The culminating action was on March 21, with a rally of several hundred people, some carrying U.S.-flag-draped coffins, that gathered in front of the White House and marched to the Capitol, with stops at the offices of defense contractors.

Groups that sent delegations to D.C. included Code Pink, Answer Coalition, United National Antiwar Coalition, Veterans for Peace, World Can’t Wait, World Beyond War, Fight Imperialism, Stand Together and the International Action Center.

IAC participants came from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Durham, N.C., and linked the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the U.S support of armed fascist, right-wing and mercenary forces in Ukraine, Venezuela and Syria, as well as to racist and militarized police repression at home.
San FranciscoPhoto: Alyssa Eisenberg

San Francisco
Photo: Alyssa Eisenberg

Anti-war demonstrators rallied March 21 at Powell and Market streets in San Francisco and then marched through the downtown area to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Demonstrators raised a number of demands: “Stop President Obama’s AUMF” (the proposed new three-year authorization for the use of military force); “End U.S. war and occupation;” “In the Middle East and Central Asia — U.S. out!;” “No to U.S. sanctions and intervention” against Iran, Venezuela, Korea, Cuba, Mexico, Russia, Philippines, Haiti and everywhere; and “Free Palestine — End U.S. Aid to Israel — Fund People’s Needs, Not Endless War.”

The protest was initiated by the Answer Coalition and endorsed by many groups, including the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, the Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition, BAYAN USA, Haiti Action, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Middle East Children’s Alliance, the Palestine Youth Movement and Workers World Party.

Indicting ‘Hellfire Reaper’ brass

Two actions in central New York protested the anniversary of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. On the morning of March 19, seven members of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars were arrested after trying to deliver a “citizen’s indictment” for war crimes to Hancock Air Base commanders. Demonstrators also blockaded the main gate of the base with giant books, including “Living under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians from U.S. Drone Practices in Pakistan,” a report from New York University and Stanford law schools.

Soldiers dragged the books away as “evidence,” opening the possibility that their anti-U.S. war information could be introduced at future activist trials.

“Hellfire” Reaper drones targeting Afghanistan are piloted out of Hancock by soldiers in the 174th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard. Drone pilots, sensor operators and maintenance technicians are also trained at the base. Common Dreams estimates that over 2,500 people have been killed by U.S. covert drone attacks in Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. (commondreams.org)

On Feb. 17, the Obama administration okayed the widespread export of U.S. armed drones, as U.S. defense corporations push for bigger profits in the global drone market.

The Upstate Coalition has waged a nonviolent campaign against drone warfare at the base since 2010; there have been over 160 anti-Reaper arrests at Hancock in the last five years.
Syracuse, N.Y.Photo: Ellen Grady

Syracuse, N.Y.
Photo: Ellen Grady

In the afternoon people assembled at a downtown Syracuse, N.Y., street corner and held up signs protesting past and present wars, including Obama’s request for new war powers from Congress. One speaker talked of being in Baghdad in 2003 as part of a U.S. peace delegation and confronting U.S. Marines who entered the city during the U.S. “Shock-and-Awe” offensive.

A Syracuse University student denounced extensive military funding at the school, including the new Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism and the drone-radar defense contractor, Syracuse Research Corporation.

As a steady stream of workers driving home honked in support of the rally, a military veteran spoke of the dreadful effects of war on U.S. soldiers. In addition to post-traumatic stress disorder, he named sexual assaults on 25 percent of women soldiers by other U.S. soldiers and homelessness. Twenty-five percent of homeless people are vets, who are disproportionately people of color.

From reports by Sara Flounders, Terri Kay and Minnie Bruce Pratt.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/03/23/protests-decry-12-years-of-u-s-wars-abroad/

Victory! Cuban 5 are reunited and free at last [Workers World]

Posted in CIA, Cuba, Honduras, Obama, Panama, US Agency for International Development, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela on December 20, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Cheryl Labash

Dec. 18, 2014

Dec. 17 — The government of the United States has done what it repeatedly swore it would never do: It has freed the last of the Cuban 5. Today Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino and Gerardo Hernández were finally released from U.S. jails after more than 16 years of unjust imprisonment. René González and Fernando González had already served their full prison terms and returned to Cuba.

Those whom René González termed “the jury of millions” — who had organized, picketed, written letters, signed petitions, collected money for newspaper ads, investigated, inveighed on parliamentarians, climbed mountains, rode bicycles, tweeted, wrote poems, plays, songs and more in every corner of the globe — rejoiced. The steadfast Cuban people joyfully welcomed their heroes: the five men who sacrificed so much to protect them from terrorist attacks launched from U.S. territory during the 1990s.

We can only imagine the joy of their families. A Miami court and the U.S. government had expected Gerardo to die in prison after he was sentenced to two life terms plus 15 years.

Today, says the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, “Gerardo has now been reunited with Adriana, Ramón is back with Elizabeth and his three beautiful daughters, and Antonio is with his mother Mirta, the 84-year-old tireless inspiration of this struggle, who feared she would die before she saw her son back in Cuba.”

Workers World Party and many dedicated organizers in the U.S. share this awesome and joyous moment of victory.

Opening the prison doors for the Cuban heroes was only part of the top story today. In a broadcast speech, President Barack Obama outlined “charting a new course on Cuba,” and asserted, “Today, we are renewing our leadership in the Americas.” Washington has its eye on the April Summit of the Americas in Panama.

Yet a bill imposing sanctions on Bolivarian Venezuela is sitting on Obama’s desk. Will he veto it, as part of this new course? The Obama administration recognized the coup government in Honduras that has driven thousands of children to flee violent repression. Will it stop engineering coups and dictatorships in Latin America? What about the U.S. role in destroying the Mexican economy and turning it into a killing field? And, especially, will the U.S. end its blockade of Cuba?

For more than two years, the pressure for this moment has been building in the United States. Reflecting this pressure, seven New York Times editorials in recent months have advocated a change in U.S. policy toward Cuba. The Associated Press ran a series that exposed Alan Gross, the contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development — often used as a cover for CIA operations — who was convicted by a Cuban court of having secretly and illegally installed military-grade communications devices on the island in violation of Cuba’s sovereignty and laws.

Cuba released Gross as soon as the Five were returned home, citing humanitarian reasons.

The AP continued its investigation of failed U.S. regime-change antics, including the “Cuban” twitter site Zunzuneo — another USAID program — and the recent infiltration of Cuban hip hop artists in an attempt to use them as unknowing instruments to undermine Cuba’s self-determination.

Polls have shown that sentiment in Miami now favors changing U.S. policy toward Cuba even more strongly than in the rest of the U.S. Since 1992, the U.N. General Assembly has voted almost unanimously every year for the U.S. to end the blockade.

As Obama himself admitted in his speech, the U.S. for more than five decades has tried “to push Cuba toward collapse.” And, he testified, it didn’t work.

* Development despite imperialist hostility *

Development in the hemisphere has been moving forward despite the machinations of the U.S.

Latin America and the Caribbean, including Cuba, have forged many interlocking levels of continental unity through the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. At the same time, the U.S. is still unable to recover from its 2007-2008 economic collapse, especially in regard to employment. Longshore union members report that the port of Tampa, Fla., is underutilized, while Cuba’s new automated container port in Mariel is ready to handle huge ships from Asia.

As long as the blockade is fully in place, it is U.S. trade with Cuba that suffers, while trade between Cuba and other countries continues, just 90 miles away. How long will European banks continue to pay U.S.-imposed fines for handling Cuban financial transactions? The old system of sanctions imposed by Washington has become untenable.

The people of the U.S. have also suffered from the blockade. They have been prevented from knowing the Cuban reality: that it is possible to do so much, even with scarce resources, when the power of the people is freed from capitalism.

In the U.S. a new militant movement led by Black and Brown youth is challenging the racism and repression embedded in capitalism. Don’t they want to learn how first-rate education and health care can be made available without throwing youth and workers into debt? They really want to see how a different world is possible. And couldn’t Detroit benefit from what Cuba has to offer?

The Cuban people, and particularly the Cuban Communist Party, are committed to socialism — making the goal of social production the needs and welfare of human beings, not profits for a few. They are well aware and capable of dealing with any challenges to come. Now there are five additional leaders, tested by long years of U.S. imprisonment, who can help chart this new future.

Volvieron! They have returned!

Cheryl LaBash has been an organizer with the International Committee to Free the Cuban 5 since 2006 and is a co-chair of the National Network on Cuba.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/12/18/victory-cuban-5-reunited-free-last/

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‘Will they EVER leave Cuba alone? No.’ – exposure of recent USAID subversion attempts in Cuba from “The Anti-Empire Report #131” [Williamblum.org]

Posted in Costa Rica, Cuba, Peru, Torture, US Agency for International Development, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela on November 4, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By William Blum – Published August 11th, 2014

…The latest exposed plot to overthrow the Cuban government … Oh, pardon me, I mean the latest exposed plot to bring democracy to Cuba …

Our dear friends at the Agency For International Development (USAID), having done so well with their covert sub-contractor Alan Gross, now in his fifth year in Cuban custody … and their “Cuban Twitter” project, known as ZunZuneo, exposed in 2012, aimed at increasing the flow of information amongst the supposedly information-starved Cubans, which drew in subscribers unaware that the service was paid for by the US government … and now, the latest exposure, a project which sent about a dozen Venezuelan, Costa Rican and Peruvian young people to Cuba in hopes of stirring up a rebellion; the travelers worked clandestinely, using the cover of health and civic programs, or posing as tourists, going around the island, on a mission to “identify potential social-change actors” to turn into political activists. Can you believe that? Can you believe the magnitude of naiveté? Was it a conviction that American exceptionalism would somehow work its magic? Do they think the Cuban people are a bunch of children just waiting for a wise adult to come along and show them what to think and how to behave?

One of these latest USAID contracts was signed only days after Gross was detained, thus indicating little concern for the safety of their employees/agents. As part of the preparation of these individuals, USAID informed them: “Although there is never total certainty, trust that the authorities will not try to harm you physically, only frighten you. Remember that the Cuban government prefers to avoid negative media reports abroad, so a beaten foreigner is not convenient for them.” 5

It’s most ironic. The US government could not say as much about most of their allies, who frequently make use of physical abuse. Indeed, the statement could not be made in regard to almost any American police force. But it’s this Cuba that doesn’t beat or torture detainees that is the enemy to be reformed and punished without mercy … 55 years and counting…

Excerpted; full article link (with footnotes): http://williamblum.org/aer/read/131

Venezuela uncovers assassination, coup plot against president [Xinhua]

Posted in Colombia, National Endowment for Democracy, State Department, US Agency for International Development, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, Venezuela on June 1, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

CARACAS, May 28 (Xinhua) — Venezuelan authorities Wednesday said they uncovered a plot by opposition leaders, international financiers and officials backed by the U.S. State Department to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro and take over the country.

At a press conference, top socialist leader and mayor of the capital Caracas Jorge Rodriguez denounced the “complex plan” to assassinate Maduro and unleash a spiral of violence in the country to justify foreign intervention.

Rodriguez said the plot, financed by “a multimillion-dollar fund” that has backed different anti-government actions since February, was led by Venezuelan banker Eligio Cedeno, a fugitive from justice in Venezuela.

The mayor also accused former rightwing [sic] deputy Maria Corina Machado of being behind the schemes, saying several emails tie her directly to actions aimed at fomenting violent regime change in Venezuela.

In one email, Machado mentions Kevin Whitaker, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, and says the U.S. has confirmed its support of the political opposition and signaled what new steps should be taken.

“We have a bigger checkbook than the government,” another of Machado’s purported [sic] emails says.

“What we present today is part of a criminal investigation being carried out by the administration of justice, because the Venezuelan opposition aims to destroy the peace and constitutional order of our nation,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez asked the U.S. government to clarify whether it knew of Whitaker’s contacts or if the official acted on his own.

He also said the government will be presenting its evidence of a planned military coup in coming days.

Venezuela has been rocked by violent protests since February promoted by hardline opposition leaders demanding that Maduro step down.

The clashes have left 42 dead, 835 injured and led to 2,500 people being detained, according to the Attorney General.

Also Wednesday, Venezuelan deputies rejected a U.S. congressional initiative to apply sanctions against Venezuelan officials accused of violating the human rights of anti-government activists.

Venezuelan National Assembly Deputy Saul Ortega, of the ruling socialist party, said the proposed sanctions were “inofficious,” as U.S. laws “lack jurisprudence” in the South American nation.

In statements made to private TV channel Televen, the lawmakers called the measure “an initiative that exposes U.S. interventionism in Venezuela’s political crisis and the way it finances the opposition, above all violent groups in Venezuela.”

According to Ortega, conservative U.S. legislators campaigning for the sanctions are receiving money from Venezuelan opposition sectors.

“All the anti-Venezuelan groups finance them, they give these lawmakers money,” he said.

The U.S. Congress was set to debate a proposed bill to defend human rights in Venezuela later Wednesday.

The bill would make some 15 million U.S. dollars available to Venezuela’s violent protesters, Ortega added, in addition to the millions more being spent by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), National Endowment for Democracy and other agencies.

Editor: yan

Article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2014-05/29/c_133369040.htm

“Break the silence: a world war is beckoning” by John Pilger [JohnPilger.com]

Posted in Afghanistan, Anti-Arab / Antisemitism, Anti-communism, Anti-Islam hysteria, Chile, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Iran, NATO, Russia, State Department, Ukraine, US "War on Terror", US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, Venezuela on May 21, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

13 May 2014

Why do we tolerate the threat of another world war in our name? Why do we allow lies that justify this risk? The scale of our indoctrination, wrote Harold Pinter, is a “brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis”, as if the truth “never happened even while it was happening”.

Every year the American historian William Blum publishes his “updated summary of the record of US foreign policy” which shows that, since 1945, the US has tried to overthrow more than 50 governments, many democratically elected; grossly interfered in elections in 30 countries; bombed the civilian populations of 30 countries; used chemical and biological weapons; and attempted to assassinate foreign leaders.

In many cases Britain has been a collaborator. The degree of human suffering, let alone criminality, is little acknowledged in the west, despite the presence of the world’s most advanced communications and nominally freest journalism. That the most numerous victims of terrorism – “our” terrorism – are Muslims, is unsayable. That extreme jihadism, which led to 9/11, was nurtured as a weapon of Anglo-American policy (Operation Cyclone in Afghanistan) is suppressed. In April the US state department [sic] noted that, following Nato’s campaign in 2011, “Libya has become a terrorist safe haven”.

The name of “our” enemy has changed over the years, from communism to Islamism, but generally it is any society independent of western power and occupying strategically useful or resource-rich territory. The leaders of these obstructive nations are usually violently shoved aside, such as the democrats Muhammad Mossedeq in Iran and Salvador Allende in Chile, or they are murdered like Patrice Lumumba in the Congo. All are subjected to a western media campaign of caricature and vilification – think Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez, now Vladimir Putin.

Washington’s role in Ukraine is different only in its implications for the rest of us. For the first time since the Reagan years, the US is threatening to take the world to war…

Excerpted; full article link: http://johnpilger.com/articles/break-the-silence-a-world-war-is-beckoning