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January 1, 2011

Photos du Soir: Seen at Dilma Rousseff's inauguration

Brazil's first female president was sworn in today, but the most interesting photos of the day weren't of Dilma. They were of Hillary Clinton, hesitating over a handshake with you-know-who:

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Doesn't it look like Juan Manuel Santos (president of Colombia) and Sebastián Piñera (of Chile) are about to say something? Like, "Don't worry, you won't catch commie cooties"?

But wait...wait...

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Aha! Grip 'n' grin accomplished. See, Hill? That wasn't so hard after all!

December 17, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Simón Bolívar approves

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Chavecito and neighbor-president Santos shake hands under the watchful eyes of the Liberator of their two countries (and three more). This is the 180th anniversary of Bolívar's death, so it's a snapshot with added significance. Bolívar's dream was of an independent, united "Gran Colombia" (the region roughly spanning modern Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador.) Treachery and infighting between Bolivarian forces ended up dividing the nations, a conflict that still has echoes to this day. Sadly, it was a Colombian general, Santander, who bears the blame for that.

But positive change is happening, and for that, thank Chavecito. Trade and diplomatic relations are moving rather nicely between Venezuela and Colombia today. And yes, it means Chavecito has won; remember, he's the one who broke the relations off in the first place, in solidarity with Ecuador; it was a diplomatic and economic blockade. Santos has caved; considering what a major trading partner Colombia has in Venezuela, it's not hard to see why. Chavecito's friendly gesture of sending the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra to Colombia is the icing on a very sweet cake.

Meanwhile, the presidents of Argentina and Uruguay have called for Venezuela's full inclusion in the South American common market, Mercosur. And the people of the Bolivarian nations take more pride in their democracy than those allied with the US, too. And with that, we can definitely say Gringolandia's efforts to drive wedges have failed.

Bolívar vive, la lucha sigue. Bolívar lives, the struggle goes on.

November 22, 2010

Viva Evo, FU CIA!

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"If the press is a nest of thugs, let the walls speak!"

Need a laugh this dreary Monday morning? Have I got the giggles for you...

Bolivian President Evo Morales had a blunt message for the visiting U.S. Pentagon chief on Monday: Latin American nations will pick their own friends and business partners, including Iran, regardless of U.S. opinion.

The colorful leftist leader delivered an hourlong welcome to delegates at a regional defense conference that included U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Morales never mentioned Gates by name. But most of the speech, and all of the applause lines, were clearly directed at the Pentagon chief and former head of the CIA.

Bolivia is more democratic and representative than the United States, Morales said, and democracy would improve in the entire region if the United States stopped interfering.

He mentioned the spread of Iranian and Russian business and other ties in Latin America, and said it is not the U.S. place to complain.

"Bolivia under my government will have an agreement, an alliance, to anyone in the world," Morales said. "Nobody will forbid us," he said to applause.

Okay, you say...so where's the funny? Other than that snarky, crypto-racist use of "colorful" to describe an elected president who happens to be indigenous, maybe? Hang on, hang on, I'm getting to it...

Gates did not directly respond, and didn't seem fazed by the one-hour monologue. A day earlier he had warned that countries doing business with Iran should remember that Iran is under international sanctions over its nuclear program. He also questioned whether Iran has the technical capability to help another nations develop civilian nuclear power.

"As a sovereign sate Bolivia obviously can have relationships with any country in the world that it wishes to," Gates said Sunday. "I think Bolivia needs to be mindful of the number of United Nations Security Council resolutions that have been passed with respect to Iran's behavior."

That's the beginning of it. CIA honcho Robert Gates, completely tone-deaf, is trying to tell Bolivia (where even the poorest people know the score by heart) what tune the US wants it to sing. STILL.

But wait, there's more:

Morales ticked off a history of attempted coups, alleged election- and vote-tampering, military meddling and vague conspiracies involving the United States. Some of it is based in truth, although the U.S. denies that a former ambassador tried to engineer a coup against Morales in 2008, as he alleged Monday.

Morales kicked out the then-U.S. ambassador in 2008, and the two nations have not normalized diplomatic relations since. Morales also expelled the U.S. DEA on suspicion of espionage.

Here's where the AP reporters--three of them for one lousy story!--get funny with us, too. The US can deny all it likes, but anyone who's been following me, Otto, or El Duderino in recent years knows that Philip Goldberg has, indeed, pushed for a putsch. And on more than one occasion. Why else all those secret midnight meetings with prominent (and putschist) opposition "leaders"? And why else would Goldilocks the Failure fall up...and straight into a cushy intel desk job in Washington?

And while we're on the subject of espionage, the DEA isn't merely "suspected" of it. They are proven to be in it to their eyeballs. Ask former DEA agent Celerino Castillo if you don't believe me. The DEA is not only a nest of spies, it's also a drug smuggling cartel big enough to make all of Colombia blush with shame.

But wait...our three amigos still have a few punchlines left:

He denies that coca grown in Bolivia feeds the worldwide demand for cocaine, although the country produces vastly more of the crop that would be needed for its traditional and legal medicinal use in Bolivia.

Notice that they don't supply a single fact or statistic to back up that contention. How much exactly IS "vastly more...than would be needed", Messrs. AP reporter-dudes? And why no mention of the top cash crops of Colombia and Peru...neither of which is coffee?

Well, let's not waste time waiting for a cogent answer there, kids, there's more horseshit still waiting in the Augean Stable that is AP's LatAm bureau:

Morales also alleged U.S. involvement in coup attempts or political upheaval in Venezuela in 2002, Honduras in 2009 and Ecuador in 2010.

"The empire of the United States won," in Honduras, Morales said, a reference to the allegations of former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya that the U.S. was behind his ouster.

"The people of the Americas in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, we won," Morales continued. "We are three to one with the United States. Let's see what the future brings."

U.S. officials have repeatedly denied involvement in all of those cases and critics of the United States have produced no clear evidence.

And the AP, like the good presstitutes they are, lick it all up and don't even bother to report the fact that ample, clear evidence to the contrary has, in fact, been produced by the alternative media, the blogosphere, and the state-funded and community media all over Latin America. Hell, all I've had to do is translate a few of those articles to demonstrate that the US and the AP are both lying. Or if that's not enough, I can also refer you to Machetera, who's done an excellent job of unpacking what really happened in Honduras.

But here's the final jab from our trio of bumblers, and it too is a doozer:

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa called a Sept. 30 police revolt over benefit cuts a coup attempt in disguise, but he did not accuse the United States of being involved.

Actually, Correa did, although he also says he does not believe President Obama is involved. Hilariously, the AP themselves reported this, although it all seems to have gone down the memory hole now!

And there is plenty of history to bear him out that the US, and particularly the CIA, has long been behind Ecuador's apparent instability. Philip Agee, the late former CIA agent, has written extensively about it in his book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary. One of Agee's postings was to Ecuador. The CIA's modus operandi was to co-opt a country's police and military forces, and sponsor opposition parties, non-governmental "civil society" organizations, and the like. And where no suitable "civil society" orgs existed, it invariably ginned up some fake ones to make it look as though there was extensive opposition to a popular leader who wasn't toeing the proper line. By doing so, the CIA created--and still creates--pretexts for coups, which are then passed off as mere "revolts", like the failed September 30 putsch in Ecuador. This one, predictably, was passed off as a police revolt, aided and abetted by a USAID-corrupted indigenous group, CONAIE. I've written about them before; here's another blogger's viewpoint, which seems to buttress mine quite nicely.

And oh yeah, Evo is quite right about the Honduran coup, too. That one was backed by Washington, and there was no disguising where the sympathies lay.

But you'll never hear that from the AP. They can assign three reporters to one story and still not tell you what you really need to know. All they'll do is make up bad fiction for the benefit of the CIA. Woe betide you if you believe a word of it.

Viva Evo, FU CIA...and FOAD, AP.

November 5, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Who's on top again?

As you're probably aware, the presidents of Colombia and Venezuela decided to kiss and make up after several months of tension and suspension of relations. Who do you suppose got the upper hand in the deal they signed on Wednesday?

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Check the faces, check the body language. And then get back to me, eh?

September 26, 2010

Music for a Sunday: One for all the guerrillas, past and present

This patriotic hymn was first associated with Fidel and Che's victory in Cuba, but it's since become incredibly popular with freedom-fighters all over Latin America. And no wonder. It's a stirring one, isn't it?

Guerrillas have been in the news a lot this week--from the much-trumpeted death of the FARC's "Mono Jojoy" in Colombia, to the impending victory of Lula's comrade, the kick-ass Dilma Rousseff, who's about to become president of Brazil.

This song also figured on a recent campaign-trail edition of La Hojilla, as Venezuelans go to the polls today to keep the escuálidos from advancing. So I thought this would be only fitting to play for you today.

Guerrillero, guerrillero, adelante...

September 14, 2010

Arrested for telling it like it is

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Anti-Uribe demonstrators at work.

Land of the free, home of the brave...unless, of course, you're trying to use your freedom and show your bravery by confronting a human-rights abuser at Georgetown University, in Washington, DC:

A member of a non-governmental organization was arrested for shouting at Alvaro Uribe at Georgetown University.

The arrestee started to yell at the ex-president while he was delivering a talk in Washington.

The incident took place during professor Eric Langenbacher's class on comparative political systems, which was being held in the ICC Auditorium of the university.

A large number of students were in attendance, as were members of the "Adios Uribe" coalition, which was formed to oppose the presence of the former Colombian president.

At one point during the exchange of questions and answers, Uribe declared that his government had not violated any human rights.

At that moment, Nico Udu-Gama, a member of "Adios Uribe" and SOA Watch, began to shout insults at the former president. Police then arrived and arrested him for disturbing the peace.

"Adios Uribe" has called for marches in all university buildings where Uribe will be speaking, no matter how small the attendance. On average, there are no more than 20 attendees per appearance.

After the incident, Uribe gave another class, but on that occasion, the police were already present and prevented demonstrators from entering the lecture hall.

Translation mine.

I just noticed something that made me grin: "Adios Uribe Coalition" has the same initials as the paramilitary terror group El Narco has ties to in Colombia. I'm sure that's no coincidence. Just a shame that the police are arresting demonstrators, and not HIM--he deserves it much more.

September 9, 2010

Uribe gets booed at Georgetown U.

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"I swear to you, the terrorists are the FARC and the ELN!"

Heh. Looks like someone's not going to be allowed to forget his narcoparamilitary violent past so easily, after all...

The former president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, was booed on Thursday by a group of students at Georgetown University, in Washington DC, where he had come to teach his first class as professor of International Leadership Practices.

A group of students, calling itself the "Adios Uribe Coalition", invited the ex-president to leave with placards reading "Ciao". They had met by way of e-mail, according to Caracol Radio. "We are putting out a call for six or more students who are prepared to be arrested for sabotaging the class from within," read one of the e-mails.

Already within the lecture hall, a student from Ecuador accused the ex-president of being "a perfect assassin" before Uribe could resolve any doubt that the young woman might have had. Then the girl asked him about the "hundreds of extrajudicial executions committed by your government", whereupon the former president replied with "an historical argument which dates back to the 1920s," according to the student.

The US press been an echo to the polemics surrounding Uribe's contract as professor of the university, even though, according to the LA Times, "not everyone on campus was happy with the presence of the ex-president of Colombia". Various messages from students, addressed to Dean Anthony Clark, reflected that, according to the paper.

"Uribe created the 'Convivir' paramilitaries during his time as governor of Antioquia, a group which later became the AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia)," recalled a student, who criticized the fact that "Georgetown is legitimizing Uribe and his legacy by giving him an opportunity to present himself before the students", considering that "it's an offence to the thousands of victims of his administration and for the human-rights communities in the United States and Colombia."

Translation mine.

This hasn't made the lamestream media yet; I googled. The closest thing to it I could find was this Peruanista entry from three years ago. So, obviously, this has happened before. (Gee, I wonder why.)

Sure must suck to be you, Alvarito. And it sucks to see the media being such fucking toadies, too. But it's nice to see students holding you accountable, even if they don't succeed in getting your war-criminal ass kicked out of the country or into a nice, cushy cell at Club Fed where it belongs.

August 29, 2010

Crow is on the menu in Colombia lately

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First it was Chavecito, now it's El Ecuadorable heaping something black and feathery onto the plates in Bogotá. No, it's not the chickens coming home to roost, it's another bird entirely...

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, announced on Saturday the re-establishment of normal relations with Colombia, as a sign of dignity, justice, sovereignty and respect, on his weekly program called "Citizen Link".

"We will re-establish relations with Colombia for the good of our countries and our peoples," said the Ecuadorian leader, in response to an invitation to a bilateral meeting with the new president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, who was inaugurated on August 7.

It is worth emphasizing that while demonstrating goodwill in re-establishing bilateral relations, the Ecuadorian president has not forgotten the reason for which the two countries became estranged, since in his estimation, an "illegal bombardment" is not to be so easily forgotten. At that time, Santos was the defence minister of Colombia, who authorized the military action of March 1, 2008, without informing or receiving permission from the government of Ecuador.

Correa pointed out that at the root of this event that violated the sovereignty of his nation, there were members of the FARC, and reiterated that he had never met a member of the FARC, "but they accuse us of being accomplices in order to justify an absolutely illegal bombing, disloyal and unjust."

Correa also maintained that there are illegal FARC camps in the rainforests of Peru, which are much more inaccessible than the equatorial rainforests of the Ecuador/Colombia border. "But no one has accused Alan García of being in league with the FARC," meaning that "the truth is self-evident", and now the whole world knows it, since his government and country enjoy great prestige. "We have an immense credibility at the national and international level," Correa concluded.

Translation mine.

And of course, Santos and his magic laptop have ZERO credibility. That may be a reason why things are suddenly warming up between him and his two alienated neighbors. Colombia stands to lose a lot more than Venezuela or Ecuador if things stay in the deep-freeze much longer. Hence, out comes the old crow, thawed and ready to eat.

Karma, babies.

August 17, 2010

Best damn news I've heard all day...

...and I couldn't have heard it from a nicer guy. Thanks, Otto.

BTW, these two posts also rock. Remember what I said about Chavecito coming out on top from his meetings with his neighbor-president? It happened. Se dió.

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And when ordinary Colombians such as these schoolkids like a certain Venezuelan better than they do their own leader, well...it was kind of a foregone conclusion, no?

August 11, 2010

A body blow for the Colombia-US military accord

Meet the most odious piece of sneaky-cowardly political interference in the Americas since, well, since the US backed a bunch of putschists trying to overthrow Chavecito:

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It's not dead yet, but damned if there isn't blood in the water now:

La W Radio reports that the Constitutional Court of Colombia has declared will declare* the military-cooperation accord between Colombia and the US inexecutable, since it must first be passed by the Congress before being approved.

The court declared the measure inconstitutional, but left it alive for a limited time. It gave the Colombian congress one year to decide whether or not to approve the accord.

[...]

The military accord produced a crisis between Colombia and Venezuela, after which [Venezuelan president] Hugo Chávez accused the US government of using Colombian territory to attack his country.

Translation mine.

And the crisis unleashed by this odious accord isn't limited to Venezuela or its uppity, mouthy president. Many Colombians don't like it either:

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These people and thousands of others like them have been protesting this accord since it was first announced. Let's hope the Colombian congress hears them and nullifies this bastard agreement, or there will be no peace within Colombian borders, much less between Colombia and its neighbors.

PS: Otto has more, plus some winning snarkage. Go read.

*Translation error fixed, thanx Otto...

August 10, 2010

Chavecito is in Colombia today...

...at the behest of his newly inaugurated local counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos. Will there be crow on the supper menu tonight at El Palacio Narquiño? Well, let's let the photo of the day (tweeted by Andrés Izarra of Telesur) do the talking:

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Chavecito wore his flag jacket, not a formal suit. Patriotic, rather than toadying/diplomatic, in other words. He gave a short speech at the airport, basically thanking Santos for the welcome and his willingness to talk peace (which Chavecito has always been for, anyway--never having declared war on Colombia, but rather closing the borders when it became obvious that the previous Narcopresidente of that land was getting belligerent with HIM.)

I don't know what the outcome will be yet, but something tells me the 'Cito will emerge on top.

EDIT: Another tweeted photo from Andrés Izarra...

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Chavecito greets a crowd of Colombian well-wishers en route to the meeting place at San Pedro Alejandrino. D'you think they like him, maybe?

EDIT #2: Yup, they like him...they REALLY like him. Chavecito has stopped his caravan twice now to greet his Colombian fans, including this little one:

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According to Andrés Izarra (whom you really should follow!), the crowd was yelling "Long Live Chávez!"

According to Venezuelan newspaper Panorama, this took place in the barrio of La Lucha, (appropriately, "The Struggle"), Santa Marta.

August 6, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Lula and Kirchner come to Chavecito; Piñera comes to Quito

Nope, Chavecito's not coming to the inauguration of that peasant-killing thug Santos in Colombia. He's got bigger fish to fry, and two of them were in Venezuela today:

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And there they are, right behind him. Néstor Kirchner, former president of Argentina, and Lula, outgoing president of Brazil, attended a summit today at the Yellow House in Caracas. The theme: south-south integration, as South America and Africa forge closer political and economic ties. Other topics on the table: Colombia and the shit it's been pulling with Venezuela of late. Because if there's one fly in the ointment of integration, it's bound to be Colombia...

Here's another nice shot of the friendly trio:

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And here's a third, just for good measure (and because I couldn't resist the jollity):

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And that's not all the meetin' and greetin' going on. The president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, was in Quito, Ecuador today, meeting with his local counterpart, Rafael Correa:

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This photo is just begging for a caption. Anyone care to have at it?

July 29, 2010

Evo's inaugurator arrested for drug possession in El Alto

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Aymara spiritual leader Valentín Mejillones, doing what he normally does best.

Oh dear. Panorama reports a story that will have a lot of faces red in La Paz:

The Aymara priest who four years ago blessed and handed over an indigenous ceremonial staff of office to the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, thus winning international fame, was arrested for possession of 240 kilograms of cocaine, according to police on Thursday.

The detention of the "amauta", or Andean wise man, Valentín Mejillones, along with his son and a Colombian couple, took place on Tuesday, said the director of the Bolivian Special Force Against Narcotrafficking (FELCN), Colonel Félix Molina.

Vice-president Alvaro García said that there would be no official protection for Mejillones, who, according to him, had not been chosen by Morales himself for the indigenous inauguation ceremony, but by "the internal organizing structure of the Andean religious community".

The anti-drug director said that the cocaine confiscated from the amauta's house in El Alto was in liquid form, and is valued at over $240,000 US on the Bolivian market.

He also said that in Mejillones' home there was a cocaine-purification laboratory "with Colombian technology", but the amauta claimed he had been "tricked" by the Colombians.

"I had nothing to do with it, I did them a favor as a human being, they told me they would make herbal pills and creams," said the amauta, according to the local news agency Fides.

Translation mine.

The Achacachi Post, reporting in English, puts the total drug haul (and its street value in Bolivia) a bit higher, at 350 kg and over $300,000 US. It's hard to say precisely how much coke was in the house if it's still in liquid form; a chemist might be able to give an approximate figure, based on the concentration of the solution, but until the powder is precipitated out, the amount can vary.

Still, great job on the part of the Bolivian FELCN catching such a large haul; before Evo and his reforms, it's unlikely that the local police, working with the DEA, would have had nearly such a great success. The DEA is the worst drug-smuggler there is, after the CIA.

I suspect that the Colombian couple, unnamed in the Panorama piece I translated, will indeed prove to be ringleaders; I hope Mejillones is telling the truth when he claims he was deceived. It would be a dreadful thing for the Aymara, who are justly proud of Evo and his leadership, if things turned out otherwise.

July 22, 2010

Dear Iggy: This is why I will NEVER vote for you.

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This landed in my inbox yesterday. See if you can tell me what's wrong with it:

Dear Sir/Madam:

Thank you for taking the time to voice your concerns about the human rights implications of Bill C-2, the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act.

Human rights are at the core of Liberal values. This is why we have taken the unprecedented step of negotiating an amendment compelling each country to monitor and publicly report on how this Free Trade Agreement (FTA) impacts human rights in both Canada and Colombia.

This is the first such human rights reporting requirement for any FTA in history. It imposes a new requirement on Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) to focus on, collect and analyze information on the impact of the Canada-Colombia FTA on human rights in both Canada and Colombia. This information must be provided to the Parliament of Canada in an annual report which can then be used to guide Canada's foreign policy with respect to Colombia. In addition, the public tabling of the annual reports in Parliament will allow for greater scrutiny by opposition parties and provide a transparent way for civil society organizations from around the world to access this data as they conduct their own human rights impact assessments.

The Liberal amendment for a human rights reporting requirement was motivated by a desire for greater public oversight in the area of human rights and a belief that human rights are deeply intertwined with economic opportunity. We recognize that human rights abuses in Colombia have largely resulted from violence fuelled by Colombia's illegal narco-economy, which, in turn, has been perpetuated by Colombia's endemic poverty, persistently high unemployment and insufficient social infrastructure. We believe that increased political and economic engagement can help address the root causes of violence and improve the human rights situation in Colombia.

In recent years Colombia has made significant progress in combating human rights abuses.

On June 29, 2009, U.S. President Obama commented on these advancements: "I commended President Uribe on the progress that has been made in human rights in Colombia and dealing with the killings of labor leaders there, and obviously we've seen a downward trajectory in the deaths of labor unions and we've seen improvements when it comes to prosecution of those who are carrying out these blatant human rights offenses. President Uribe acknowledges that there remains more work to be done, and we look forward to cooperating with him to continue to improve both the rights of organized labor in Colombia and to protect both labor and civil rights leaders there."

More recently, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay recognized "the significant progress made in terms of a drastic reduction in the number of complaints of extrajudicial executions and the continuous prosecution of members of Congress and public officials for alleged links with paramilitary organizations" in her March 2010 report on the human rights situation in Colombia.

The Liberal Party believes that Canada has a moral obligation to help Colombia continue to improve its human rights record. We must work with Colombia to strengthen its public institutions and create legitimate economic opportunities for all Colombians. This free trade agreement, with the Liberal amendment establishing a human rights reporting requirement, will significantly strengthen Canada's ability to achieve these goals and engage Colombia on the issue of human rights. Furthermore, the Liberal amendment will provide Canadians and Colombians with an ongoing assessment of progress in this area.

Former Deputy Minister of DFAIT, Peter Harder, has called the Liberal amendment a "significant innovation in free trade agreements in that it provides both the Colombian and Canadian legislatures the opportunity to annually review and assess the human rights implications of the agreement. I expect that future parliaments will build on this precedent when they consider proposed free trade agreements."

Prominent civil society organizations and unions in Colombia have also publically supported the proposed amendment.

Dr. Leon Valencia, Executive Director of Arco Iris, stated that "I think it is interesting and useful that the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and Canada includes an amendment which requires both governments to present an annual report to the respective Parliaments on the repercussions of the agreement on human rights in each country... This will provide an important yearly forum to discuss the situation in Colombia, and will give Canadian citizens the opportunity to monitor human rights violations in our country." He went on to describe the Liberal amendment as "innovative and converts the Treaty into something which is dynamic and provides new platforms for analysis and discussion. Perhaps this could be included in other free trade agreements."

M. Gerardo Sanchez Zapata, President of the Apparel and Textile Industry of Colombia Trade Union Sintracontexa, lent his support to the agreement on behalf of 12 other Colombian unions: "This procedure is welcomed by Colombian workers and we are thankful to the Parliament of Canada for its position, because it helps strengthen a mechanism already in place that monitors and evaluates the progress in matter of human rights."

Colombia is at a critical juncture in its history, emerging from decades of violence and civil war. The Liberal Party of Canada believes that countries like Canada can support Colombia on its path to peace, justice and reconciliation by helping to build and strengthen Colombia's public institutions and provide greater public oversight on the human rights situation in Colombia. Canada must not turn its back on Colombia and isolate its people at this time. Rather we must seize this opportunity to engage the people of Colombia and work with them to break the cycle of violence and human rights abuses that prevents the country from reaching its vast potential.

Thank you, once again, for taking the time to write to me on this very important issue.

Respectfully,

The Office of Michael Ignatieff, M.P.
Leader of the Official Opposition


I'll spare you the tortured use of italics from the original.

Here's my open letter in response:


Dear Office of Iggy the Boyar:

You're right about only one thing here: This IS an unprecedented step you have taken. And an unfortunate choice of direction.

No previous Liberal administration would have contemplated doing what you have done. They all resisted the US's urging to legitimize Colombia's right-wing government and toxic business atmosphere. So yes, what you have done is indeed unprecedented--for Liberals, and for Canadians.

But that isn't what I petitioned you to do.

I didn't petition you to add a worthless human-rights amendment, which will never be respected and which the Tories will only gut, as is their wont. I petitioned you to OPPOSE the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. You didn't do that; you PASSED it.

And you call yourselves an opposition? I call you a bunch of butt-boys.

But don't worry, a few people in Colombia will thank you for your kindly concern. Those few are Uribe himself, and his cronies--the ones who already own too much of the country; who have taken it from a violent banana republic to a narco-paramilitary failed state; who go around murdering bothersome peasants, stealing their land, and then dressing them in fake FARC uniforms before burying them in mass graves. Cocaine traffickers, in particular, will appreciate the good work you have done; you have just made it that much easier for them to export their noxious product, which will undoubtedly land on our streets, burdening OUR legal system to the breaking point. And of course, we mustn't forget the military-industrial complex, particularly that of Israel, which cheerfully sells weapons to right-wing paramilitaries and the Colombian army alike.

And your measly little human-rights amendment proposes to change this situation HOW, again?

Please spare me the elaborate justifications. There is no justification for what you have done to the people of Colombia. Some 4 million of them have already fled to neighboring Venezuela in order to escape from the narco-paramilitaries and the army (which may as well be regarded as a single entity, so indistinguishable are they from one another). One of the Bolivarian missions advanced by President Chávez was to grant them Venezuelan citizenship and identity cards, so that they would have a decent shot at jobs, free healthcare, and a good education--things the oh-so-humanitarian government of Alvaro Uribe would not grant them in their native Colombia. It is fair to say that Hugo Chávez has already done more for Colombians than you have, and it's safe to say that it's more than you will ever do.

But then again, Venezuela is Colombia's nearest neighbor and largest trading partner. The violence of Colombia's five-decades-old civil war spills over Venezuela's border (and those of Colombia's other neighbors, Ecuador and Brazil) with nauseous regularity. And so do the drugs. And Hugo Chávez used to be stationed near the Colombian border in his army officer days, ostensibly to patrol for guerrillas, but really to violate the human rights of peasants. He found this role objectionable, as did his fellow soldiers. It was a major turning point in his political consciousness. Now, as president, he takes the position that Colombia has to police its own borders, stop repressing its own people, and not expect Venezuela to pick up the slack in its guerrilla and drug wars. Colombia has failed repeatedly to do so.

Worse, Alvaro Uribe has refused to take responsibility for his own crimes and failures, preferring to project them onto his neighbors. That's why today, President Chávez has broken off relations between Caracas and Bogotá. His patience has been tested long enough. His Ecuadorian friend and counterpart, Rafael Correa, ran out of it two years ago, when Uribe's army bombed his country and then blamed him for "harboring" the FARC when he had done no such thing.

As for me, I have no patience for your nonsensical position that more trade with Colombia is the answer. For whom? Working-class Canadians have never benefited significantly from free trade; just the opposite. The only people ever to benefit from such agreements are those who really don't need the extra cash. Nothing will trickle down to Colombian campesinos, and nothing to the average Canadian, either. The last thing we need is more cheap goods flooding our market; we are already glutted.

And there are only so many bananas we can eat, and there is only so much coffee we can drink. Personally, I prefer to get my bananas from Ecuador and my coffee from Brazil. Those countries have decent presidents and are not known for their narcos or their paramilitaries.

In short, dear Iggy, this is why I won't be voting for you. It's not the only reason, but it's a big one.

Adios, cabrón.

Luv,

'Bina.

July 21, 2010

In which your lazy scribbler finally gets her ass-kicking boots on again

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Watch out for this man; he was recently arrested, and a good thing, too.

Okay. I've been sitting on this one long enough. Time for me to translate what the lamestream media will never tell you, yes?

The Venezuelan far-right-winger, Alejandro Peña Esclusa, former member of the Tradition, Family and Property sect (TFP), has been linked to several coup attempts in Venezuela and, along with two ex-military men from Argentina, is now suspected of human-rights violations in conjunction with assassination plans, along with a band of foreign terrorists recently captured in Bolivia.

"The Venezuelan engineer Alejandro Peña Esclusa, bitter opponent of the government of Hugo Chávez, is at the head of UnoAmérica, the crusade against 'leftist' governments in Latin America. Bolivia and Venezuela head the list of 'concerns' of the organization, which recruits 'faithfuls' and finances the right-wing in Colombia," reads an article in the Argentine daily, Página/12.

The Argentine paper explained that the vice-president of Bolivia, Alvaro García Linera, had asked the Argentine ambassador in La Paz, Horacio Macedo, for his assistance in controlling the border regions "because of the presence of Argentine activists in various parts of Bolivia."

Days later, the Bolivian police crushed a band of suspected terrorists in a raid at the Hotel Las Américas in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Three men were killed and two more arrested.

According to Página/12, one of the Argentine ex-militaries was the "carapintada", Jorge Mones Ruiz, who during the 1980s participated in an attempted coup against the Argentine government of Raúl Alfonsín. Those who took part in the uprising had been the beneficiaries of an amnesty which granted immunity to uniformed repressors operating during the military dictatorship of 1976-83.

Página/12 reports that Mones Ruiz found new allies as "the Argentine delegate of UnoAmérica--an ultra-right-wing organization attempting to be the counterpoint to UNASUR. He travelled to Bolivia and had contacted Eduardo Rózsa Flores".

After the Pando massacre, which took place on September 11, 2008 and resulted in the deaths of 11 Bolivian peasants at the hands of separatist bands, the citizens of Bolivia became alert to the sudden appearance of unknown organizations, which attributed to themselves the task of investigating the events of that day. These groups came with the objective of obfuscating the reality of the massacre and deceiving the people, but were unable to do so thanks to the decisive participation of UNASUR and the UN itself.

Later, the Bolivian right began a campaign urging the government of Evo Morales to free those they called "political prisoners", under the slogan "Free the Truth"; the activists wore black T-shirts with that saying, and white rosaries around their necks. A Sunday mass at the cathedral of Santa Cruz de la Sierra marked the launching of the operation, which was widely covered, in typical fashion, by the main television channels of the region, and in which the criminals were presented as "prisoners of conscience".

Due to the failure of those plans, UnoAmérica intervened, intending to take on the role of the impartial investigator of the Pando massacre. One of the organization's spokespersons called a press conference (again, in Santa Cruz) in which he affirmed, with an absolutely straight face, that the government was the guilty party, in a typical move to criminalize the victims.

UnoAmérica is a very recent organization; it was founded in December, 2008, in Colombia. Member organizations swear that their mission is to counteract the parties that participated in the São Paulo Forum, and which today form the governments of various countries in South America. They claim that these same governments have traded the firing squad for constitutional reforms, which will become the "greatest dangers" to freedom and democracy.

The director of the organization, Alejandro Peña Esclusa, was denounced a few weeks ago for his blatant interference in the Salvadoran elections, on behalf of the right-wing ARENA party, which is founded and financed by paramilitary death squads.

The UnoAmérica website presents Peña Esclusa as a former candidate for the presidency of Venezuela, and this is true: the last time he ran for election, he obtained 0.04% of the vote, or precisely 2,424 votes.

He is a personage intimately associated with the worst causes: promoter and spokesman in Venezuela for the TFP sect, a Catholic cult which is ultra-fundamentalist and antisemitic; he has also worked for years alongside Lyndon LaRouche, Ronald Reagan's advisor and conspicuous representative of the far-right in the United States.

As well, one of the principal members of UnoAmérica in Argentina is Patricio Videla Balaguer, son of a famed military putschist of the 1950s, and a putschist himself during the "carapintada" uprisings of the 1980s. He is a prominent member of organizations such as TFP and "Parallel History", which defends the genocide perpetrated by the Argentine junta and criminalizes its victims. For this reason, it is no coincidence that Videla Balaguer is also a member of that organization, and demands in his writings the convening of "a permanent commission to defend human rights", promoted and co-ordinated by UnoAmérica.

Translation mine; linkage added.

Touching, isn't it, how the fascist far right in Latin America sticks together? Argentine putschists and Venezuelan unelectables helping a death-squad party in El Salvador and a band of Hungarian-Romanian-Croatian-Irish mercenaries in Bolivia? Almost brings tears to my eyes. These poor souls will never get power the proper way, so they have to stage all kinds of lame stunts (and murderous coup attempts) to gain a toehold.

Only, alas for them, that's not working either. Evo's federales put the boots to the mercenaries, and the government of El Salvador is formed by the leftist FMLN party, not ARENA. Chavecito keeps getting himself re-elected (go figure, the man is popular!), and so does Evo. Moreover, both have succeeded in getting new constitutions written and passed by popular vote in Venezuela and Bolivia. The will of the people prevails.

And THIS is what UnoAmérica calls a "threat to freedom and democracy". Makes you think, no? And also makes you want to keep an eye on these false fronts, I hope.

May 26, 2010

Chavecito and the tweeter

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From Cubadebate via Aporrea, a little newsy item:

Spokespersons for the Twitter social networking site, Laura Gómez and Jenna Dawn, "are delighted" that presidents, including Hugo Chávez with his @chavezcandanga, are opening accounts.

"Presidents in general, as in the case of Venezuela, generate a lot of traffic; we're happy that President Hugo Chávez uses the platform."

Dawn and Gómez were the two representatives of Twitter who participated in the first congress of the network in Latin America called "Hey, what are you tweeting? #140Mexico", organized by El Universal de México. The conference played host to representatives of the Daily Newspapers Group of America.

The spokeswomen confirmed that Chávez, along with his counterparts Sebastián Piñera of Chile, Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, and Felipe Calderón, of Mexico, contacted them to verify their accounts.

In Venezuela, there were 3,839 Twitter accounts in January 2009. By December 31 of the same year, there were 225,807.

Translation mine.

And now there are way more than that. And Chavecito currently stands at how many followers?

chavecito-twitter-current.jpg

(I love his current tweet--it's the local equivalent to "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring!" Only it's an old woman and she's in a cave. I bet it's sung to the same tune, too.)

Compare that to Piñera:

pinera-tweeter.jpg

And El Narco:

uribe-tweeter.jpg

Heh.

I couldn't find one for Calderón yet. I guess he's not tweeting after all? Better get it in gear, Felipe, there are an awful lot of parodists out there impersonating you, and some are downright rude.

March 31, 2010

Somewhere in Bogotá, El Narco is gnashing his teeth over this

Video in Spanish. Story by Aporrea:

Corporal Pablo Emilio Moncayo thanked the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa; that of Brazil, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, and of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías, for securing his freedom after twelve years as a hostage of the FARC.

In his first speech as a free man, on Tuesday, in the airport of Florencia, Colombia, he also thanked the Colombians for Peace, Senator Piedad Córdoba, the Catholic Church, and the International Red Cross for their part in the liberation.

"I want to thank the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, for being the one to request this gesture of peace with the guerrillas. I also want to thank the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, and of Brazil, Lula da Silva, for their leadership," said Moncayo.

Moncayo also conveyed messages from his comrades still being held by the FARC.

"My colonel, Duarte, and my sergeant, Martínez, request that a non-governmental international aid organization help broker their freedom."

He added that in his own time he will announce his decision whether or not to remain in the Colombian army.

"I'm proud to have worn my uniform the entire time, while having seen so many things, out of love for my beautiful Colombian people," Moncayo said.

At the same time he called for the national authorities of Colombia to deepen their negotiations with the FARC, because the latter represent an important Colombian reality.

"I think the FARC guerrillas will not change the history of Colombia--they simply exist, they are a reality that can't be denied no matter how much you want to. They seem invisible, but there they are," Moncayo commented.

Corporal Moncayo is the second person unilaterally released by the FARC this year, as part of a process which is hoped to lead to humanitarian prisoner exchanges.

Translation mine.

Cpl. Moncayo is one of the more famous hostages formerly held by the FARC. His father, Gustavo, walked the length and breadth of Colombia in chains to protest the continued absence of his son, as well as the Uribe government's continued unwillingness to engage in peace talks with the guerrillas; he became known as the "Peace Walker" for this activity. Until Uribe broke off the process, Moncayo and Ingrid Betancourt were to have been freed during Chavecito's talks with the FARC commanders. Ingrid Betancourt was liberated in a covert operation that was widely trumpeted--and condemned by the International Committee of the Red Cross, who did not participate in the operation, but found their logo being used under false pretenses. When the truth about that one emerged, it was a black eye for Uribe.

He must be grinding his teeth to hear Correa, Lula and Chavecito praised here, but not himself.

PS: For more stuff to get El Narco's clashers grinding, click here and scroll to the bottom to hear Moncayo saying you can't deny the reality of the FARC.

March 25, 2010

Venezuelan "freepers" operate out of Colombia, US

...but not Venezuela. Funny dat:

Video in Spanish.

I don't know about you, but I'm starting to get mighty skeptical of any "grassroots" organization whose name starts with "free"--as in, here, "FreeVenezuela". Fascists are learning not only how to wrap themselves tighter in the flag, but also how to flap the word "free" around until it becomes ultimately meaningless. Venezuelan "freepers" are few, but they have powerful string-pullers in Washington and Bogotá.

March 7, 2010

Colombia: Electrical capitalist paradise? NOT.

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Remember Enron? Ah, capitalist electricity...

According to my three-day headache from last week, Colombia is a better place to live than Venezuela because (a) it's capitalist, and (b) it has no electrical shortages. Well, one of these statements is true (although whether it makes Colombia better is debatable at best); the other is a bald-faced lie. And thanks to a respected Venezuelan journalist, we now know which is which...

"It is surprising--and surprising also to Colombians--that the Colombian government would offer to sell Venezuela electricity, when more than half the national territory of Colombia is practically without the service," said Venezuelan journalist José Vicente Rangel on Sunday.

During the broadcast of his show, "The Confidences", part of his program "José Vicente Today", on Televen, the journalist said that the situation is also dramatic in built-up departments and major cities, where the greater part of the population is and where there are large areas of misery and exclusion, with precarious electrical service.

Rangel added that, based on official data from the Colombian National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE), more than 14 million Colombians are unable to pay the higher cost of electricity, suffer constant power cuts, and have extreme difficulty in obtaining electrical service.

"In accordance with this reality, the Colombian oligarchy offers to sell to Venezuela what it denies to its own people," said Rangel at the conclusion of the "Confidences" segment.

Translation mine.

Lest anyone get the idea that since this came from a Venezuelan government news agency's site, it is nothing but propaganda--be it known that José Vicente Rangel works for Televen, not ABN. Televen is a private station in opposition hands, albeit less rabid; its tone is more balanced and responsible and its coverage far more factual than, say, RCTV or Globovisión. In fact, of the four major oppo channels, Televen is the one that's done the best job of cleaning up its act since the coup of '02. Rangel, who for a time was in Chavecito's government as vice president, has since gone back to his original day job, and a very decent reporter he is. So you know you can take this one to the bank.

Yeah, I'm feeling kind of triumphalistic right now. Bear with me, folks, three days is a long time for your humble and obedient queen to put up with nonsense from anyone here.

(Thanks to Utpal for digging up the ABN piece. Oh, and Mikey? My offer to contact your boss still stands. Take your bullshit elsewhere. I'm not playing with you anymore.)

March 2, 2010

Bad news all around for El NarcoPresidente

In Mexico City, family and friends of the Mexican students killed in Colombia's illegal bombing of a FARC camp in the Sucumbíos border region of Ecuador two years ago held a protest, calling for Alvaro Uribe to stand trial as a war criminal.

And that's not all that's dogging El Narco. He lost his bid to get re-elected, he disgraced himself in Cancún, and now, his popularity at home is dropping:

The popularity of Alvaro Uribe has fallen five points, according to the latest bi-monthly Gallup poll. His personal approval rating is at 63%, down from last December's rating of 68%.

According to the poll, his disapproval rating rose 4 points and now stands at 29%.

Approval of his performance as president has dropped 5 points, and now stands at 68%.

Another important fact revealed by the poll is the negative perception of Colombians over their healthcare services.

In December, 39% of those polled believed that the quality of healthcare in Colombia was worsening. Today, following the declaration of a social emergency on the part of the government, 59% felt that way.

It can only go downhill from there. Crappy healthcare tends to be something that people remember, and a quick PR campaign can't make any positive impact there. Mainly because it's a problem that tends to stick around...unlike reports of mass graves, say. Or seven army bases full of meddling gringos. Think about it--people keep getting sick, getting injured, getting shot (especially that last, in Colombia). If the health system stinks, they find out about it firsthand, and fast.

February 27, 2010

Oh, Alvaro. Too bad. So SAD!

uribe-denied.jpg

"The inexecutable...of inexecutability...of the nonexistent...of that which can't be done, had or brought to effect....(not even with traps)...in other words, NO is NO!"

The wall behind him says "Varito (his nickname), be a man!"--which is what he said to Chavecito the other day, when he rudely accosted him at a summit and bitched about the ongoing embargo of Colombian imports to Venezuela, and Chavecito, after repeated futile attempts to calm him, finally lost patience and told him to get fucked.

But if you're wondering what this cartoon is really about, here's a synopsis: "Varito" is fucked. He can't run for a third term in office. The Colombian Constitutional Court ruled against him yesterday, 7 to 2. As Raúl Bracho points out here, that's one judge against for every gringo base Uribe allowed in Colombia. And Rodrigo Quijada notes with some glee that "Chávez sent him to hell, and the court paid the passage!"

And just to add insult to injury, people in Bogotá were actually celebrating the fact--in a square that happens to be named in honor of Simón Bolívar.

Meanwhile, the 'Cito stays on, in accordance with the will of his people.

I don't think he's snickering, but I certainly am.

February 23, 2010

Um. Nice president you got there, Colombia.

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Discord at the Cancún summit. An unexpectedly revealing photo of three leaders, only two of whom get along well all the time? Sure looks like. Guess which...

So, Chavecito's the regional troublemaker, is he? Not even hardly. Guess who came to Mexico just to blow snot all over everything. Story from Aporrea:

The president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, picked a nasty fight with the Venezuelan president during lunch at the Rio Group Summit.

Uribe, who arrived late, provoked a heated discussion and was almost beside himself when he interrupted President Chávez as he was explaining how commerce between Venezuela and Colombia had increased eightfold since he (Chávez) had come to power in 1999. Trade between the two nations rose from 1.6 billion dollars that year to 7.9 billion in 2008. It was then that Uribe interrupted, comparing the recent shut-down of trade with Colombia to the US blockade of Cuba.

Uribe continued interrupting the Venezuelan leader as he was defending his position. Chávez asked him to let him finish his speech, and when he saw it was impossible to get Uribe to calm down, he told him to "go to hell".

Other sources who attended the luncheon explained that the Cuban president, Raúl Castro, who was attending the Rio Group Summit for the first time, tried to mediate between the two leaders to put an end to the argument.

Uribe was the last president to arrive at Playa del Carmen, a seaside resort on Mexico's Caribbean coast. There, he incorporated himself in sessions that had already begun, attended the official photo session, and later the luncheon offered by the Mexican president, Felipe Calderón.

Translation mine.

The cause of all this altercation? Chavecito doesn't appreciate the fact that Nasty, Brutish & Short is letting the gringos use Colombia for a staging ground to spy on, intimidate, and commit acts of aggression against, the sovereign nations of South America. Chavecito also didn't take kindly to Uribe's lies that he was supporting the FARC. The issue came to a head last year when Chavecito ordered the borders closed and all imports from Colombia stopped. The borders soon reopened, but trade did not. That's what's got Uribe all hot under his too-tight collar. He's losing money and credibility daily, and the longer this goes on, the more Colombia's gonna be hurting. (Yeah, surprise, Colombia's most important regional trading partners, in terms of impact on the lives of smaller producers, aren't the guys who buy their blow and their bananas, but those who buy their beef. That's spelled V-E-N-E-Z-U-E-L-A. And if the latter keeps boogying with Argentina on that one, well...)

Long story made short: Uribe picked the worst possible way to try to lance this festering sore and reopen trade talks. His petulant attitude is gonna cost him. Worse, it's gonna cost Colombia. Which can ill afford to lose the goodwill of its neighbor, when all's said. You can't make up for that by any amount of toadying to Washington, no matter what anyone says.

The question is now open as to who will get the blame from the lamestream anglo media for this undiplomatic incident. Place your bets, ladies 'n' gents...

PS: For extra shits 'n' giggles, hear Mario Silva's take on it all (in Spanish) here.

February 17, 2010

Juanes: Schooled on the tweeter

So...Juanes thought he could get away with insults, bullshit and lame excuses (not to mention facile sloganeering) under the rubric of "free expression"? Looks like the joke's on him...

Colombian singer Juanes, on his Twitter page, tried to play the jester of the social networks and drew a series of irate comments from followers of the Venezuelan president.

Last Saturday, Juanes wrote the following comment on Twitter: "They gave me Chávez's PIN, anyone want it so you can send messages to his Blackberry?" He responded in his next entry: "Here you go, S0N0F4B1TCH". (The Blackberry PIN is a type of e-mail address to which one can send short messages.)

Juanes, trying to defend himself, said that "Twitter is a place where there's freedom of expression, and I'll write whatever I want." But he forgot that whatever you say, be it on the Internet or whatever place, you have to be responsible for the consequences those expressions could generate.

What is certain is that on Twitter, Chávez isn't alone. Not so long ago, his opponents opined freely, and in many cases in an offensive manner, and did not receive any contrary opinions. Now, things are very different, and Juanes, who is a public figure, should not forget it.

Recently, the Venezuelan president recommended using all available Internet tools, such as social networks, and specifically Twitter. In his opinion, these "also are battlefields, we have to get involved and learn to use all these instruments, and fight the battle on all fronts."

Translation mine.

Juanes: Funnyman FAIL. If you have to explain that you were "only joking", it wasn't funny to begin with. No funny, no joke.

Also, internationalist FAIL. Real internationalists respect other countries' choice of leaders, even if they don't like him personally. They don't go around preaching peace and love on the one hand, and then turn around and piss on the neighbor's lawn while drunk on a Saturday night. If you're gonna go around saying that "a country is its people, not its president", you'd best be remembering that it was the people of Venezuela who elected him president. They have ratified his reign at every turn. His stay in power hinges on them, not him. When you insult him, you insult them.

And since Chavecito recommended to his people--his electors--that they use the tweeter...

...to counteract the big media campaigns against him, well...don't expect your "free expression" of hatred for a people's president to go quite so free and unpunished anymore.

January 11, 2010

Juanes: Opportunistic, anti-Chávez douchebag?

A popular Venezuelan journo-blogger seems to think so, and after reading this, so do I:

Colombian singer/song-writer Juanes seems to be in agreement with those users of the Twitter website who demand the downfall of the government of Hugo Chávez. At least, that's how it looked on Saturday on Juanes' Twitter account.

Juanes has some 293,000 followers on Twitter, who read his writings daily. The Twitter corporation assures that his account is verified and that it really does belong to the Colombian artist.

The singer asked on Saturday, around 1:35 pm: "Anyone from Venezuela here? What's going on? How are things going there?" This generated hundreds of responses, of which Juanes decided to "re-tweet" two. One, by a user named LuisEwando, read: "Juanes, in Venezuela the politicians have allowed themselves to be bought, and only a people's uprising can bring down this oppressive government." Juanes also retransmitted the thoughts of user DavidMorante, who said: "Juanes, everyday there are more governmental restrictions here in Venezuela, but we Venezuelans will never give ourselves away."

On Twitter, people can "re-tweet", or retransmit, messages from other people, something they generally do when in agreement with that user's thoughts and want others to know it. In this case, the 293,000 followers of Juanes on Twitter received those two thoughts, re-tweeted.

Until now, Juanes has maintained a supposed neutrality and has never pronounced openly in favor or in opposition to President Chávez, or his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe Vélez. He generated much controversy with his "Peace Without Borders" concerts, one of them on the Colombia-Venezuela border in March of 2008, and the other in Havana in 2009.

Translation mine. Linkage as in original.

Here's the screenshot Luigino Bracci took of the tweets in question:

juanes-twitterings.jpg

Be it now known that Juanes is a douche who only does the "peace" thing to raise his own profile (and bank account). He doesn't care that the twits he's re-tweeting are openly calling for the overthrow of a popular, elected president.

So glad I'm not on Twitter, OR a fan of his very mediocre music. I'll stick with real socially conscious rockers, like Ska-P, Dame Pa' Matala and Buena Fe, muchas gracias...

December 28, 2009

Remember, you heard it here first

uribe-farc-obsession.jpg

"President Uribe...who killed the governor of Caquetá?"

"The FARC."

"Who massacres Colombian campesinos?"

"The FARC."

"Who brought down the Twin Towers?"

"The FARC."

"Who is making Colombia miserable?"

"The FARC."

Okay, actually, if you understand Spanish and can spare approximately 8 minutes to watch a video of Chavecito addressing his troops, you'll have heard it here first. I'll just translate a few key bits for ya:

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, denounced on Monday that the government of Colombia, supported and directed by the United States, is preparing a "false positive" to justify a military action against his country.

[...]

The president said that the plan is to create local and worldwide public opinion that Venezuela is supporting the presence on its soil of FARC guerrilla camps, and that the Colombian government, with US backing, is fabricating the "proofs" to justify the attack.

"It shouldn't be strange that [the government of Colombia], who are killing so many people in Colombia, will kill I don't know what people, or how many people, on Venezuelan territory in the mountains. They'll build some huts, an improvised encampment, then bring in some guns and propaganda, and then say 'there is the camp'," Chávez said.

And for those who think the government of Colombia is above doing such things in Venezuela, remember: They do it at home all the fucking time.

And it's not as if they (or the whore media, acting on their behalf) haven't run around squawking like Chicken Little about you-know-whose imagined aggression against Colombia, either.

But yeah, let's just pretend that Colombia isn't being furnished with fully armed drones. Or that the bombing of Ecuador in March of 2008 didn't happen, much less that it couldn't have happened without a lot of help from their gringo friends. I mean, that's what the whore media is doing, right?

December 26, 2009

Since when does Santa's sleigh come with missiles?

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Kiddies, help your weak-eyed Auntie Bina out. Does that look like a sleigh to you? Nope...no reindeer. But what are those black things under the wings? Sure look like missiles to me...AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, if I'm not mistaken.

Respected Venezuelan journalist Eleazar Díaz Rangel picks apart the Colombian defence minister's snippy comments about another big, red-clad, real-life Santa Claus. Story from Ultimas Notícias, via Aporrea:

After the declarations of Colombian defence minister Gabriel Silva, and those of General Freddy Padilla, who denied all responsibility for the denounced incursion of an unmanned military plane over military targets in the Venezuelan state of Zulia, news agencies reported: "Neither Silva nor Padilla clarified whether any Colombian military bases had equipment like that described by the President of Venezuela, nor whether they received it as part of the co-operation agreements with the United States."

The two high-level functionaries did not dare to deny the existence of unmanned planes in any of the seven bases now controlled by the US, nor did they make any reference to whether Colombia had received any such aircraft.

Among unmanned drone planes, the RQ-1/MQ-1 Predator, built by General Atomics to replace the F-16 Falcon in 2001, stands out. The plane weighs about 500 kilos, can stay aloft for up to 24 hours, and cover thousands of kilometres.

This new craft, along with carrying out reconnaissance missions, "has the offensive capacity of carrying two Hellfire missiles", which it can fire with great precision.

According to the manufacturer's promotional material, on one occasion, in Iraq, in response to an attack by Iraqi rebels in a zone where US forces could not enter, a Predator plane located the target and, in order not to destroy the building where the sniper was hiding, fired a missile through a window and thus hit its mark.

Planes like these are currently being used in Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq, and were also used in Bosnia, Serbia and Yemen in the past. Their missiles have a range of up to 7 km. Germany has the Luna X 2000 drone; in Spain several models are being tested (Alba, Alo, Diana and Siva); Ecuador acquired several Searchers, with 20 hours of flight time at 200 km/h.

Former Venezuelan defence minister Gen. Raúl Baduel announced on January 31, 2007, that since the US embargo on military sales to Venezuela, "military aviation advanced a project on unmanned planes". In Argentina, the "Guardian" is currently under development.

With Predator drones, which are surely controlled and directed by US militaries from the ground, if it were true that Colombian intelligence knew the exact location of guerrilla chiefs alleged to be in Venezuela, they would not have had to use an air attack like the one on March 1 of 2008, when a FARC camp in Ecuador was bombed using an air-launched missile, whose advantage was surely that it did not leave behind any "footprints" to betray its origins.

It is said that those which Colombia has can only fly up to 40 kilometres.

Translation mine. Linkage added.

Kiddies, your Auntie Bina is gonna go waaaaaaayyyyy out on a limb here and conjecture that if you believe in the 40-kilometre-range of Colombian missiles or drones, especially in light of those seven gringo bases, you might as well believe in Santa Claus.

And ditto if you think this is all harmless, or just part of the War on Drugs.

December 11, 2009

Can we call Colombia a failed state yet?

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I mean, this many dead, in one grave, this year alone...it's kind of telling, isn't it?

During a visit by a British delegation of parliamentarians and union leaders, the remains of 2,000 persons were found in a mass grave in La Macarena.

According to current information, it is impossible to identify any of the victims.

Jairo Ramírez, spokesman of the Permanent Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, told Caracol Radio that forced disappearances are still occurring in Colombia.

According to Ramírez, several of those found in the mass grave were killed this year.

Translation mine.

Just to put things in a bit of perspective, three thousand desaparecidos were killed in Chile during the reign of Pinochet. That's just one thousand more than were found in this one grave in Colombia. An estimated thirty thousand is the number most commonly attributed to the Argentine military junta of 1976-83. How long has Colombia's civil war (and its offshoot drug-gang wars) been raging now? Five decades at least.

Two thousand is an awful lot for one mass grave alone in Colombia, and it's not the only one.

Meanwhile, for a further bit of perspective, let's look at a neighboring country...namely Ecuador, which got the Colombian treatment in March of last year:

"The strategic intelligence processed from the Manta base was fundamental for the pursuit and location of Raúl Reyes, who was a priority target for the government of Colombia," reads a report from the Truth and Transparency Commission created in Quito this past March.

According to the document, the treaty between Ecuador and the United States concerning the Manta base "for control of narcotrafficking, overstepped its stated ends". The investigation also found that the US financing of Ecuador for the presumed co-operation in the War on Drugs "determined the submission" of its security organisms.

On the other hand, the commission ruled out all relations between President Correa and the FARC, in contradiction to the Colombian government's claims. Last weekend, Correa responded to the contents of a book written by the Colombian ex-minister of defence, Juan Manuel Santos, assuring that Santos lied about the alleged ties between the government of Ecuador and the FARC.

"The ex-minister Santos, poor man, keeps lying to us," said Correa of Santos' book, "Checkmate to Terror", which tells the tale of the Uribe government against the armed group.

Again, translation mine.

Isn't it funny how intelligence processed at a US base in Ecuador--was used in a bombing of Ecuadorian turf? And isn't it funny how the bombers came from Colombia, where the US is now installing the seven bases it "needs" to replace the one that bad, bad Rafael Correa, damn his Ecuadorable little ass, isn't letting them use anymore to arrange further bombings of Ecuador, along with Venezuela and assorted peasant villages in the Colombian jungles?

And yet, Colombia is supposedly a model democracy, and Venezuela and Ecuador are the regional bad guys.

Go figure.

November 28, 2009

Short 'n' Stubby: A little bit of this, a little bit of that...

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Some small odds 'n' ends I couldn't go longer about:

Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, heartily sympathizes with Richard Colvin, the Canadian diplomat who found Afghanistan to be no better. He also demolishes all pro-torture arguments very nicely. Thanks to Rick B. at Ten Percent for this one.

In light of the current situation in Dubai, Johann Hari's highly observant piece from a few months ago in the UK Independent is worth revisiting. What say ye now, O ye detractors?

Honduras Coup 2009 says don't believe the hype; the "election" slated for tomorrow is a farce. Yeah, we kind of knew that already. But they have all the details on what makes it one. Essential reading!

LatAm's cutest president (and best foreign-trained economist) says South America won't recognize the outcome of the Honduran farce no matter who "wins". Why? Because everyone knows who's gonna lose. Trust the man, he knows a thing or two about making a once-unstable country governable. He got himself re-elected in a country famous for overthrowing presidents mid-term!

Eva Golinger exposes yet another shocking congressional cover-up over Colombia. Your taxpayer dollars at work, USA.

The IMF and Inter-American Development Bank are now lining up to praise Evo--for taking their advice and trashing it. El Duderino's got the goods.

Amy Goodman's plight has even made the news in Venezuela. I am REALLY hanging my head over this one!

Why is Roger Federer promoting lung cancer? Inquiring minds want to know.

And finally, if you like the little bumper-sticker on my right-hand column that says "I Support the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms", you can get a copy of it for your own site courtesy of Broughton Bob in BC. Don't know what the Charter's all about? Here ya go.

November 25, 2009

El Narco is nervous

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Hey Alvaro, are you scared of the big bad popular man next to you?

At least that's the impression I get, from this little item I found in Aporrea:

In a surprise move, the government of Colombia announced the cancellation of a visit by president Alvaro Uribe to the Summit of the Amazonian Countries, just after the president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, host of the summit (in Manaos), declared that it would be a favorable time for a meeting between Uribe and his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chávez.

The government of Colombia confirmed last week that Uribe would be attending the summit, prior to a climate converence of the United Nations in Copenhagen, between December 7 and 18, according to the AFP news agency.

It is expected that in the next few hours the Presidency of Colombia will make public a letter by Uribe in which he will be excusing himself.

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, who is on an international tour, will not be attending, and neither will Bolivian president Evo Morales, whose country will be holding elections.

Translation mine.

El Ecuadorable (currently in Belgium, charming the royal pants off the king, while Foreign Minister Fander Falconí stands in for him) and Evo (closing out his electoral campaign in Potosí) both have sound reasons for missing this summit, which they would otherwise unquestionably attend, both having parts of their countries located in the Amazon Basin. But how about El Narco?

Well, maybe it's because Chavecito has made clear his displeasure--or rather, the collective displeasure of all Venezuelans--at not only those seven bases being handed over to the gringos for spying and terrorism purposes, but also the illegal footbridges that enable smuggling and paramilitary incursions (and which were recently destroyed, with no harm to any person or legitimate structures, by the Venezuelan army.)

Chavecito is, as you can see, much bigger (and handsomer) than El Narco. Maybe that's why El Narco can't look him in the eye anymore...it's because he's scared of him. And worse, he knows Chavecito is right. Little wonder he doesn't want Lula shoving the two of them together. He's petrified!

Chavecito won't beat him up, of course--he's way too nice to hit a little shrimp with glasses. But Alvarito still knows he'll be going home awfully butthurt if he gets so much as a stern talking-to from our man in red. And so will his imperial string-pullers.

November 23, 2009

Unintentionally revealing photo du jour

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The handshake between the respective foreign ministers of Colombia and Ecuador, Jaime Bermúdez and Fander Falconí, as they announce the reopening of embassies in each other's lands. Notice a hint of tension in there? Something a little off about the smiles? That's because relations are still tense as a result of the March 2008 bombing of Ecuador by Colombia (with US "help", natch). That, and the fact that Bermúdez, like his boss, is a nasty little shit who's all too willing to let the gringos in so they can fuck up the entire region.

Caption suggestions welcome. What say, good people?

November 21, 2009

A very familiar story from Colombia

Gabriel González, a Colombian human rights activist, faces false charges of leading a guerrilla group. He's far from being the only one. Under El Narco Uribe, anyone who expresses dissent with his right-wing authoritarian government is very likely to be slapped with the same stigma. They are also likely to be murdered by right-wing paramilitaries with ties to the Uribe government.

Remember this the next time you hear an Uri-beastie babbling on about El Paraco's commitment to "peace" and "democracy". Colombia is not peaceful. And since leftists are killed there as a matter of nauseating regularity, one can't call it a democracy either. In a real democracy, you don't get killed for being a partisan of something other than the ruling party (or parties).

November 20, 2009

Crazy warmonger Chávez proved wrong again...

...by a Catholic priest from Nicaragua, no less...

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Story by Aporrea:

"President Chávez is right with his idea that we have to prepare ourselves for war," affirmed the ex-president of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, at the inauguration of the Leftist Parties Encounter in Caracas, Venezuela.

During the event, organized by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), D'Escoto assured that the installation of seven US military bases in Colombia constitutes "a hand-over of an entire country's sovereignty to imperialism."

"It is cynical of Colombia to say that Chávez has a bellicose attitude. It is time to put our feet on the ground and realize what are the true intentions of the United States and their interference in the peoples of Latin America," D'Escoto said.

There is a dictatorship in the United States, and a demonstration of it is the politics of the Obama government, which promised change during the presidential campaign, which it has not brought about, according to D'Escoto, a Catholic priest and former Sandinista foreign minister from Nicaragua.

"President Obama is well aware of what will happen to him if he follows the route of 'change' he promised," D'Escoto said.

Translation mine. Link added.

Notice that D'Escoto did not say that Obama was the dictator, but if anything, the dictated-to. This is quite clear to anyone who's been following his actions--or lack of them, rather--regarding Latin America. Virtually everyone working in that sector of the State Dept. is a BushCo legacy. Their line is corporatist: Any Latin American government not willing to sell out to big business from abroad, and more specifically from the US, is to be deemed "hostile" and "bellicose".

You will not hear those words from His Barackness, of course, or even from Hillary Clinton herself, but from the lower-level flunkies--sorry, "specialists" and "spokespersons". (I almost wrote "spookspersons", and I'm sure that slip was not just of my fast typing fingers, but of a Freudian nature. Heh, heh.)

It's very tempting to think that a guy who promises hope 'n' change will actually follow through when it comes to LatAm, but I would never bet on it. Every successive US administration for over a century has done nothing there but deepen and further the capitalist exploitation. They will never get the message that it's time to start treating the locals with respect and dignity; that it's time to start talking to them as equals; that it's time to negotiate in good faith, not with the old ever-failing "carrot and stick" approach.

It's certainly not for lack of trying on the part of sovereign governments; every reasonable approach they've taken to initiating dialogue has been studiously ignored and even flat-out rebuffed, with insult added to injury. For example, Chavecito's been in office for ten years; when he began his reign, Bill Clinton was still president of the US. What did the latter do? Tried to dictate (through a State Dept. flunkie named Peter Romero, of course) that Chavecito could have nothing to do with Fidel Castro if he wanted to meet with Clinton at the White House. The 'Cito's response? A very polite, diplomatic, but unequivocal fuck-you. He called the flunkie, Romero, back and told him that he was speaking to the president of a sovereign nation called Venezuela, and that as president of Venezuela, it was his prerogative to associate with whomever he damn well pleased, and that if Bill Clinton didn't like it, too effin' bad--he was going to Havana, with or without Washington's blessing. Romero backed down, and Chavecito got to meet with both Fidel AND Bill Clinton--the latter, not through a full state visit (oh no, never that, not after meeting with Fidel) but rather, through the back door. The meeting was "informal". How informal? Clinton didn't even bother to put on a suit. Shoot, who needs that when you're "only" meeting the elected president of Venezuela--a serious and seriously popular man--for a grand total of fifteen minutes?

And if you think that's bad, remember--Dubya had no time for the 'Cito whatsoever. He did, however, have time for this chirpy chupacabra of the opposition, named María Corina Machado:

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...who got herself a full-dress state visit even though she is not and never will be a head of state anywhere in Latin America, much less in her native Venezuela. She is insanely rich, but all her dinero will never buy her an ounce of credibility. She is, at best, a media-friendly figurehead for the oligarchy. And yet Dubya saw fit to see her, but not the actual, elected president of Venezuela.

See what I mean by insult?

So now we're hearing all this blah-blah from Washington about how those seven bases really belong to Colombia, how Colombia is really in charge of them, and the US troops are "only there to help". Um, "help" with what, exactly? The War on Drugs is as abject a failure as ever, and is only growing more farcical by the year (especially when you consider how much more effective anti-drug police agents in Venezuela and Bolivia have been since Chavecito and Evo kicked the DEA the hell out.) Does anyone seriously believe that drug production and smuggling will be lessened by the presence of gringos? It's not exactly a secret that the CIA was the US's numero uno drug-running agency right around the same time that cheap, plentiful crack cocaine started devastating inner-city black communities all over the US, just twenty or so years ago. Remember that? Gary Webb wrote about it, and the only criticism I have is that he was entirely too modest in his scope. This problem was way bigger than he reported it. (I recommend this book for a fuller view of the big, ugly picture.)

Anyhow. Anyone with an eye can see that it's not about drugs at all. Colombia is, as Chavecito says, not sovereign. How can it be, when its own president is deeply enmeshed with the right-wing paramilitaries and known even to the State Dept. as an old friend of the late drug lord Pablo Escobar? Does anyone seriously believe that this cat has changed his stripes?

And another thing: Who seriously believes that the gringos are going to take orders from Colombia? US militaries take orders only from their higher-ups in Washington. They're not under the command of Bogotá. These guys are there as intermediaries between the Pentagon and the Colombian army. It will be Colombia co-operating with Washington, not the other way around.

And suddenly, it makes all the sense in the world that Chavecito's bombing bridges being used by Colombian smugglers and paramilitaries to sneak into Venezuela. It also makes sense that he's calling on soldiers and civilians alike to be vigilant against Colombian incursions on Venezuelan soil. It makes sense that he would reject "mediation" by the US in the alleged dispute with Colombia (this dispute is not with Colombia, it's with the US!) And it makes sense that he's mulling a law to make it possible for the Venezuelan military to shoot down any aircraft known to belong to Colombian drug smugglers. This isn't bellicosity; it's prudence. It's also an exercise in national self-defence and sovereignty. And it's something that no foreigner has any right to criticize, much less mischaracterize as Washington has been doing--just as much by crapaganda hacks of the Obama administration as by those of its predecessors.

The pattern is already clear in how they're treating the Honduras coup--Obama is no better than Bush where LatAm is concerned.

In other words: Damn that crazy Chavecito, he's right again!

November 17, 2009

Seen at a demo in Venezuela...

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"The only thing left for me to hand over to the gringos is my @$$."

Stay classy, Alvaro!

November 4, 2009

Isn't it romantic?

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The bells are ringing for Uncle Sam and his gal, Colombia. But guess who objects to this unholy matrimony:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Colombia became a "colony" when it granted the U.S. permission to expand its military presence in Colombian territory in an accord signed on October 30th, the details of which became public on Tuesday.

"Colombia decided to hand over its sovereignty to the United States... Colombia no longer governs its territory," said Chavez in a televised meeting of his Council of Ministers. "Colombia today is no longer a sovereign country... it is a kind of colony."

Nyeahhhhh...mean Chavecito party-pooper!

So, what are the terms of this mésalliance, anyway?

The ten-year accord grants the U.S. access, use, and free movement among two air bases, two naval bases, three army bases, and "the rest of the installations and locations" in Colombia, in accordance with Colombian law.

The bases and any enhancements carried out on them by the U.S. remain the property of Colombia. Meanwhile, U.S. military, civilian, and diplomatic personnel, contractors, ships and planes working under the accord are exempt from customs duties, tariffs, rent, taxes, and most inspections of its cargo, according to the deal.

In addition, the accord grants diplomatic immunity to U.S. personnel. To reinforce this immunity, "Colombia will guarantee that its authorities will verify, in the least amount of time possible, the status of immunity of the personnel of the United States and their dependents who are suspected of criminal activity in Colombia, and will turn them over to the appropriate U.S. military or diplomatic authorities," the accord states.

No, that doesn't sound a bit like an abuse of power just waiting to happen!

Meanwhile, what are Colombians making of all this? By the sounds of things, a break for the Venezuelan border:

It is estimated that by the end of 2009, 301 Colombians will be entering the country daily. The migration from the neighbouring country is no longer the same as that experienced in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, when one person per family group migrated.

Colombian families are now collectively mobilizing to Venezuela in search of the realization of a quality of life that is impossible for them to find in their home country, given the economic conditions in which they are forced to live as a result of the armed conflict.

"...a quality of life that is impossible for them to find in their home country, given the economic conditions in which they are forced to live as a result of the armed conflict."

Sit back and let that sink in for a moment, kiddies. That's what El Narco's policy--totally in line with the Washington Consensus--is doing to ordinary Colombians. It's forcing them to flee to Venezuela, where life is ten times better at the very minimum.

And it's not hard to imagine why, either. Let's tally up the reasons, shall we?

Venezuela doesn't have a fifty-plus year civil war still raging.

Venezuela doesn't have a president with a penchant for falsely labelling his opponents terrorists.

Venezuela doesn't have a president who likes to kill his "terrorist" opponents--or at least, stand by with hands in pockets, whistling, while the killings go on unabated.

Venezuela doesn't have puppet strings from Washington attached at every appendage.

Venezuela isn't loaning any of its military bases to the US.

Venezuela isn't improving its economic figures at the expense of its people.

That last one is especially significant when you consider this:

According to figures divulged by the investigation, conducted in 16 states with a sample of 136,600 Colombians, people arrive in bulk because it is cheaper to live in Venezuela.

The reasons for the migration of 75% of those citizens are overwhelmingly economic.

According to Tanus, "the war consumes the entire budget (of Colombia) and people have to go find other means of life in other countries. Seventy-five % moved for economic reasons, but basically these reasons are a product of the development of the war, of the social conflict, because some of those 136,600 people are heads of families who come from areas where the Colombian armed conflict has unfolded."

"...the war consumes the entire budget (of Colombia) and people have to go find other means of life in other countries."

Yeah, I'm just loving El Narco more and more every day, reading stuff like that. So busy spending the country's entire budget on war, nothing's left over for public services anymore. Meanwhile, life gets prohibitively expensive. What to do but move to Venezuela, where the living is cheaper (thanks to Chavecito and his missions) and there's no war to eat up the national budget, so these new immigrants will have no problem settling in, finding doctors, schools, etc.?

One day, Colombians will want a divorce. The question is, will they have to wait the whole ten years before this bad marriage is annulled, or will they have to wait even longer?

In the meantime, Colombia's loss is Venezuela's gain.

PS: Oh look, TIME has published yet another TIME-ly hit piece. Trying to debunk the facts again. I feel so sorry for the CIA, it's really got its media work cut out for it here!

What is this Israeli general doing in South America?

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Meet Brigadier-General (ret.) B. Ziv, International Man of Mystery...and mercenarism. Prensa Latina (via Aporrea) has some very pertinent questions as to what he's been up to in Colombia...and what he could be up to in Peru:

The possible hiring of an Israeli mercenary, B. Ziv, as an advisor in the war against "narcoterrorism", was decried in Peru by a human-rights activist and a military analyst.

At the same time, the commanding general of the Peruvian army, Otto Guibovich, without denying the hiring of the retired Israeli general, admitted to having contact with persons experienced in contra-insurgent warfare. The daily newspaper, La Republica de Perú, reported that the most recent sightings of B. Ziv "located him in Colombia, where he advised the armed forces of that country in the war against the FARC."

The director of the Association for Human Rights (APRODEH), Miguel Jugo, doubts that a person with the history of Ziv, denounced for massacres of civilian Palestinians, could help bring down narcoterrorism.

Defence expert José Robles said he was surprised at the possibility that Ziv's services would be engaged as an advisor of the repression of a faction of the Shining Path militants operating in the central valley of the rivers Apurímac and Ene (VRAE).

Robles said that contracting the Israeli general would be an affront to Peruvian officials and that the experiences of Ziv in Palestine and Colombia would be of little use in the VRAE region, where conditions are totally different.

Robles added that another inconvenient fact is that the Israeli military is not exactly known for its respect of human rights, but rather the exact opposite.

Former defence minister Antero Flores Aráoz, who was replaced last July, denied any knowledge of Ziv and asserted that during his time as minister, no foreigner was contracted as a repressor in the VRAE region.

Meanwhile, General Guibovich reiterated the promise that the armed forces and police would put down all "narcoterrorism" in the high-risk VRAE region in a "definitive and implacable" manner.

In a televised interview, Guibovich made that announcement in spite of critics who accused officials of having failed in an offensive to control the VRAE, where the military has suffered more than fifty losses in a single year.

On the subject of the Israeli mercenary B. Ziv, the government of Alan García maintains total silence. The chief of cabinet, Javier Velásquez, agreed with the defence minister, Rafael Rey, in arguing "security reasons" for not revealing why the government kept contracting this person.

"In the first place, the strategy we are developing for confronting narcotrafficking and terrorism, for obvious reasons, cannot be made public [...] we can neither confirm nor deny; but it is a strategy which by nature should be absolutely reserved," said Velásquez, when asked by the Peruvian newspaper La Primera about the contracting of B. Ziv and an Israeli military team for $12 million.

The Israeli press confirms that the company run by the retired brigadier-general, B. Ziv, trained troops in the Georgian army, which last year was embroiled in a confrontation (which it lost) with the Russian Federation. In 2002, Ziv directed the Givati Brigade, which invaded the Al Amal refugee camp in Gaza. According to reports, a large number of civilians were injured or killed. Ziv alleged that there were terrorists in that location.

Translation mine.

I had never heard of this Ziv character till now (gee, I wonder why), so I did a bit of googling. It wasn't easy to find anything on him, secretive type that he is, but here's a blog entry that names him as one "Israel Ziv". You'll note that the Colombian connection is confirmed:

Military links between Israel and Colombia date back to the first five years of 1980, when a contingent of the Colombia battalion "... one of the worst violators of human rights in the western hemisphere, received training in the Sinai desert from some of the worst violators of human rights in Middle East," according to the U.S. investigator Jeremy Bigwood (who) observed that the training of young Colombian paramilitaries could not have been done without the express permission of the highest authorities of the Israeli defence forces.

In those years, landowners and ranchers of the Caribbean region of Uraba and Magdalena Medio (among them Uribe) were not satisfied with the "inefficiency" of the army in its fight against the guerrillas of FARC and ELN for which, in 1983, a group of "young idealists" went to Israel, not exactly to study "agrarian socialism" of the chosen people.

Of land-owning family, Carlos Castaño was then 18. Six months later, filled with "patriotic fervour", he returned to Colombia and tried to apply blindly what he had learnt in Course 562 imparted by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). He went back to the Bombona battalion but, disillusioned, concluded that the army was not killing "seriously".

Together with his elder brother Fidel, Carlos organised the death squad Los Tangueros, a name taken from his ranch, Las Tangas. In My Confession he declared: "In fact, I copied the concept of armed 'self-defence' from the Israelis". In his interviews (to Spanish journalist Mauricio Aranguren Molina), Castaño emphasised the relations he cultivated in Course 562 with an Army Colonel, Aflonso Martínez Poveda, and "other men of the Colombia Battalion".

The serial killer comments abundantly about the "firmness of Zionism... that has always been ... defeating terrorism... from there I was convinced that it is possible to defeat the guerrillas in Colombia". Castaño died in 2004 and recent history remembers him like how he was: one of most bloodthirsty Colombian paramilitaries.

Of course, the notion that Zionism is "anti-terrorism" falls apart with just a cursory look at Israeli history--remember Irgun and the Stern Gang? Terrorists all...but since they won, they've been recast as "freedom fighters". It stands to reason that their ideological descendants would be eager to export this successful brand of terrorism to any government with ready cash to spend. Colombia would be one such; another would be Peru, deemed "investment grade" by international know-nothings in pinstripes for its government's obvious willingness to take leaves from the Colombian book, but no useful lessons. Heaven only knows why anyone in Peru would want to import the Colombian civil war (now in its fifth decade--or is it the sixth? I've lost count), but it seems that nothing succeeds like failure, at least in South America:

Not only was Castaño trained in Israel, but also Salvatore Mancuso, the other "historic leader" of the (paramilitary) AUC currently in prison. From about the Nineties, Mancuso organised the paramilitaries of Convivir, financed by Alvaro Uribe, then governor of Antioquia (and now the President). In an interview with Margarita Martínez of Associated Press (13/02/02), the paramilitary boss bragged of "... not executing more than three persons at the same time". The 'security' company Spearhead, headed by the retired Israeli Colonel Yair Klein, started to train paramilitaries in Puerto Boyacá after the ceasefire of May 1984 signed by President Betancur (1982-86) and the secretary of FARC.

[...]

Klein's paramilitary model turned out to be a 'success'. Beyond the brilliant massacres of poor urban and rural people, four presidential candidates were assassinated. Enthused with the results, Klein filmed the training. The broadcast of the film by ABC News led to a global scandal. More than the Israeli professionals, the film showed known Australian mercenaries and British ones of the Special Air Service. The errant operative was getting in the way of the growing importance of the Colombian-Israeli economic relations like the purchase of 14 Kfir combat aircraft in April 1988. In February 1989 the Israeli paper Yediot Ahronot recognised the "possible participation" of Israelis in drug trafficking.

But wait! Aren't they supposed to be there to STOP drug trafficking, and put an end to the fighting? Why have they escalated both?

Oh, probably for the oldest reasons in the book. First, there's money in it...LOTS of money. And like all good members of the Military-Industrial Complex, Israeli mercenaries and arms traffickers have no interest in derailing their own gravy train. So it stands to reason that they'd play both sides against the middle: terrorism in the name of anti-terrorism, drug-trafficking in the name of the War On Drugs. It's a brilliant strategy for keeping the cash flowing, and what is cash flow if not a mercenary-terrorist-arms-dealer's raison d'être?

Which brings us neatly back to General Ziv, and what he's doing down there, bungling the jungle:

The official presence in Colombia of Israel Ziv, retired IDF general, represents a qualitative leap in the war plans of Uribe and his Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos. Engaged for the moderate sum of $10 million, Ziv could well have collaborated in the attack against FARC in Ecuadorian territory. His experience gives him away: in October 2002, as head of the Givati Brigade, Ziv invaded the refugee camp of Al Amal (Gaza). Infantry troops, tanks and armoured vehicles caused a massacre in which the old, the disabled, women, children and babies died.

General Ziv is on the payroll of Counterterrorism International and is member of the Task Force on Future Terrorism (FOTFF), created in June 2005 by the Office of Homeland Security of --Israel? No, of the USA. FOTFF operates under the orders of Secretary Michael Chertoff and Lee Hamilton, director of the ultra-conservative Woodrow Wilson Centre, nest of academics, psychologists, businessmen and 'intelligence' experts.

In Colombia, Ziv's operations base is in Tolemaida. He meddles at the highest level. The Defence Vice Minister Sergio Jaramillo described as "precious" the Israeli help. "They are like psychoanalysts to us: they raise issues we had not thought about."

Ah, but of course. There it is again, the real hand pulling the marionette strings in Israel and Colombia: As usual, it's Washington. Home of the MIC and all its subsidiary corporations...including, as it turns out, the Israeli army and all the "security" firms that have been spun off it under the auspices of the private sector.

Let's keep an eye on this one, kiddies, I've a hunch we haven't heard the last of him yet.

October 27, 2009

Another day, another (political) death in Colombia

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The body of another murdered Colombian leftist, outside his home. Still think Colombia is a model democracy? Then explain this to me...

Jaime López Barros, leader of the Alternative Democratic Pole party in the Atlántico region of Colombia, was assassinated just 50 metres away from his home in the northern part of the city of Barranquilla.

The 53-year-old fell victim to a bullet fired as he was nearing his home early yesterday morning, after dropping off his daughter at school. Immediately after the shooting, López was transferred to the Barranquilla general hospital, where he died a few minutes later.

Political directors of his party, Alfonso Camerano Fuentes and Máximo Noriega, referred to the incident as a political crime and assured that they would not be ruling out the possibility that it had to do with political debates López was about to have against the government of Alvaro Uribe.

Translation mine.

Of course, real democratic leaders don't go around having their outspoken opponents whacked. Mafia leaders do. El Narco does. Therefore...connect the dots, kiddies.

October 17, 2009

Calle 13 tells it like it is

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Puerto Rican rapper "El Residente" René Pérez of Calle 13 shows off a shirt that pissed off El Narco. I'm now officially a fan!

October 14, 2009

Dangerous times for Colombian university students

Video in three parts; click through at the end for parts #2 and #3. Spanish, with English subtitles by Tlaxcala.

The last ten years have been deadly ones for university students in Colombia. Anyone who has any grievances or disputes with the authorities and/or the government, faces death threats and persecution. At least 35 students have been murdered in this time span alone. In the face of this, politically active progressive university students have taken to hooding their faces so that the authorities cannot track them down. It is the only way they can speak out, but the media and the authorities have demonized them for it as criminals and accuse them of having ties to the FARC and ELN. They seize on literally any excuse to come down harder on the students, to the point where all opposition to the hard-right Uribe government becomes a potential death sentence.

Next time you hear Venezuelan right-wing oppos whining about a crackdown on them, bear in mind that they face nothing nearly so bad as what their Colombian leftist counterparts do.

And also, remember this: In the eyes of Washington, Colombia is a model democracy!

October 10, 2009

Classy people congratulate Obama...

...and urge him to earn that Nobel.

First up, from Colombia, we have this lovely lady (who, in my very humble opinion, was more than deserving):

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Colombian senator Piedad Córdoba confirmed on Friday that in less than a month, Pablo Emilio Moncayo and Josué Daniel Calvo and the body of Major Julián Ernesto Guevara will be released unilaterally by the FARC, even though the government is issuing no guarantees.

[...]

Regarding her nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, Córdoba thanked her nominators and said she feels honored for the recognition.

"This is an important message to the international community, to tell the world and Colombia that the only way out of the conflict is to negotiate," said the senator.

The choice of US president Barack Obama signifies "the Obama of hope, the Obama of peace, and not military bases."

She assured that she will ask the president that Colombia be included in a peace agenda to put an end to the war.

"Obama is under threat, and could be assassinated. He has to rise above the pressures of war, and go on working for peace," the senator said.

Translation mine.

I included that first paragraph in my excerpt to remind all who may have forgotten why Piedad Cordoba would have been such a worthy recipient. This lady has worked tirelessly to free the hostages taken by the FARC in order to force negotiations with the Colombian government, which has remained intransigent (and violent) in its refusal to grant the left a real political voice. (Remember, this is a country where the FARC's political arm--the Sinn Fein to the local IRA, if you will--was slaughtered in La Violencia.) She's even gotten together with Chavecito to talk to the FARC and persuade them to let people go regardless of whether there are formal talks or not. That's a tremendous achievement, especially when you consider that she's received death threats (from persons close to the Uribe government!) for doing so.

(Come to think of it, Chavecito would also have been a worthy nominee, since he was willing to work with the rescue effort, hands-on and cross-border, and even pledged Venezuelan military helicopters, bearing the Red Cross logo, to come and pick up the released persons. But can you imagine the hue and cry if his name were even breathed to the Nobel committee?)

Next up, from Bolivia, we have this true gentleman:

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...whose modest boss was too busy getting good things done to say very much, so Alvaro stepped in to do it for him:

The vice-president of Bolivia, Alvaro García Linera, congratulated US president Barack Obama for his Nobel prize on Friday, and considers it well deserved because the first black president in the White House "has done much" for the people of the United States in the months he has been in power.

"We salute and celebrate this winner of the peace Nobel, without doubt for a president who has done much for the rights of the people of the United States who have difficulties," said García during a press conference in the Palacio Quemado.

[...]

The merit of the designation is rooted, says García Linera, in the fact that Obama is navigating the rough seas of a politic dominated by powerful interests in the United States, contrary to his own ideology and politics.

"We see him as the prisoner of an imperial network which is automatically trying to override him, but beyond being president Barack Obama, prisoner of the imperial machinery, we extend our respectful salute, our congratulations, to president Obama for his win," said the vice-president.

Translation mine.

And now, from Honduras:

The National Resistance Front congratulates the president of the United States on his winning the Nobel Peace Prize and asked him to contribute to a solution in Honduras.

"We are sending Mr. Obama our congratulations today for winning such a high distinction," said Rafael Alegría, one of the co-ordinators of the popular movement to restore Honduran president Manuel Zelaya to his office.

He added that "now, Obama needs to intensify his efforts so that there will be peace in the world.

"We congratulate him, but at the same time, we call on him to contribute to a peaceful solution to the conflict in Honduras, because here, the situation is very delicate since the coup d'état."

Again, translation mine.

The Honduran National Resistance Front would have been another worthy recipient (and lord knows they can use the cash, that country's in dire economic shape.) The protests against the Gorilletti dictatorship (which, notably, has NOT issued a word of congratulation!) have been peaceful, even when the crackdown got violent. Why were they not even nominated?

Oh well. At least they did the classy thing. Now, let's hope His Barackness does the right thing.

October 9, 2009

A giant joke on the whole notion of world peace

"The Right to Live in Peace", by Víctor Jara. He wrote this song in honor of Vietnam when the war there was still raging. For speaking out for the Vietnamese, and for his own Chilean and Latin American brethren, Jara was "rewarded" by being one of the first to be rounded up and murdered by the Pinochet dictatorship in the infamous National Stadium in Santiago. The triggerman may well be brought to justice, but the real murderer--or, more accurately, murderers--got away with it.

Good morning! I guess you've all heard by now that His Barackness has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which he'll be going to Oslo to claim on December 10. And I'll bet that you, like this lovely Venezuelan lady, are scratching your head over it and going "WTF???"

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The people's ombud of Venezuela, Gabriela Ramírez, said today that she considers it a joke on human rights to present the Nobel Peace Prize to the US president, Barack Obama, because he is the head of the most warlike government on the planet.

"We can only understand this if we accept the thesis that there are two Obamas--one the president of the United States, and the other, the idyllic one, who in his speeches promotes peace," Ramírez said.

For Ramírez, the award is incomprehensible, since it concerns the most polluting and militaristic country on the planet.

"The Nobel Peace prize is for those who work for the planet, not those who expand their war powers with seven military bases in Colombia, promote excessive consumption, and pollute the environment. How can they give a prize for all that?" she asked, on a VTV program.

According to Ramírez, the lack of concrete achievements during his reign is another reason to reject the decision announced from Norway.

Obama heads a fairly young government, whose results have yet to be seen in practice, she said.

Ramírez, a social worker by training, said that if the prize were given for speeches, Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, would deserve one.

Evo proposed a climate tribunal and advocates for defense of the planet, Ramírez said.

Ramírez says that instead of accepting the prize, Obama should close the US military bases [in Latin America], order the 4th Fleet, which patrols Latin American waters, back to port, and seek pardon for genocides committed or permitted by his country in all the world.

Translation mine. Link to Evo's speech added.

I should also add that Evo kept Bolivia from crumbling in the hands of separatist terrorists planning his assassination, and a bloody civil war, from the city of Santa Cruz, with the help of wealthy local financiers. The bastards didn't get him, nor did they blow up his floating parliament on Lake Titicaca as they'd planned, but they did manage to kill his little elderly aunt, Rufina.

Meanwhile, to give you a feel for just how big and dirty a joke on world peace this cynical prize-giving really is, may I direct your attention to this fine piece, by NACLA's Roque Planas, in Venezuelanalysis?

The announcement in mid-July of the near completion of an agreement to allow the U.S. military to lease space at seven Colombian bases prompted nearly unanimous rejection from South American governments. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) has called three summit meetings to discuss the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement, but Colombia's president, Álvaro Uribe, has refused to back down. In the meantime, other South American nations have begun to arm themselves, fueling fears of an arms race in a region that has not suffered a major inter-state conflict since the end of the Chaco War in 1935.

The source of greatest tension lies on the Venezuela-Colombian border. The Uribe administration argues that it needs increased U.S. military support to suppress drug traffickers and the leftist insurgency of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Although the Colombian government has yet to bring formal allegations, the Uribe administration has insinuated that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez supports the FARC and has diverted Swedish-made rocket launchers to the group-a claim that Chávez denies.

Chávez, on the other hand, maintains that the U.S. government was involved in a 2002 coup to overthrow him and claims that the increased U.S. military presence constitutes a national security threat to Venezuela. Chávez recently announced that the Venezuelan government had been awarded over $2 billion in financing from the Russian government to purchase tanks and an anti-aircraft missile system.

Venezuela is not the only country investing in its military. The Brazilian government is currently negotiating the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets in a deal with French company Dassault that could be worth up to $7 billion. Three other companies, including Boeing, made unsuccessful offers.

The Bolivian government has also negotiated a much smaller deal with Russia for $100 million to finance unspecified purchases of military equipment, as well as a $30 million presidential plane. The Bolivian government purchased the current presidential plane back in the 1970s.

As if determined to rekindle memories of the Cold War, the Russian military is even going to "help Havana modernize and train its military," according to a recent report from the Miami Herald.

Linkage as in original.

It bears saying that all this "alarming" arming comes not as part of some nefarious terror plot against the people of Latin America, nor is it a declaration of war against those in the United States. It comes as a direct response to the military forces the US has placed in Colombia--seven of them to make up for the closure of the US base at Manta, Ecuador. (President Rafael Correa, alias El Ecuadorable, refused to renew the concession, which ran out this year.)

It also comes in response to other alarming developments, such as this:

The United States will reactivate a radar base and finance the construction of a naval base in Costa Rica, as part of a plan rejected today [October 8,2009] in the region as a menace to sovereignty and security.

The subcommander of US-Southcom, Paul Trivelli, announced the decision to return to operation a modern radar base in the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste, with the supposed objective of combatting drug trafficking.

According to Trivelli, the base functioned there until 1995, when it was closed after several years of operation.

The powerful radar sat on top of Cerro Azul de Nandayure, a site difficult to access, protected 24 hours a day by the police.

In an interview with the newspaper La Nación, Trivelli also announced the investment of $15 million in a naval base already being constructed in the Caldera region, Puntarenas province. There, as well, a school for coast-guard officers is in operation.

Although the Southcom representative claims that these actions are part of the War on Drugs, the announcement caused concern over the renewed interest of Washington in placing more military bases in the region.

Translation mine.

This is a particular concern for Costa Rica, since that country abolished its own armed forces six decades ago, in stark contrast to others in the region, in order to prevent war and military dictatorship from ever taking hold in what was, for the longest time, Central America's most stable and peaceable democracy.

Now, it seems, Costa Rica is defenceless, and since it needs the money (why else has it become such a hotspot for sex tourism?), it's not in any position to "Just Say No" to the War on Latin America Drugs. Instead, it's playing host to something that can only be injurious to its security and sovereignty in the long run (as well as providing heaven only knows how many potential new gringo customers for the local underage prostitution rings.)

The war in Iraq is far from over, and the war in Afghanistan is being ramped up, not wound down. And for this, among many other things, a Nobel Peace Prize has been announced today.

No, I don't understand it either.

PS: El Duderino shares my sentiments, I see.

PPS: So does El Gaviero.

PPPS: Michael Moore has weighed in. Go read! An excellent, timely reminder of what has to be done to earn the prize for realz.

PPPPS: Avaaz has a petition going. Just sign here.

October 5, 2009

Colombian 6-year-old predicts attempt on Obama's life

The prediction was made in late May, and Oliver says that in five months the attempt will come. That means end of this month--October. Given the fever-pitch of fascist hate being drummed up against The Hawaiian, I'd say the timing sounds about right. We've already seen one fundie nut bring his gun to a meeting where Obama spoke.

Let's hope this attempt fails. Better still, let's hope that this is the one time in every thirty predictions that little Oliver is wrong!

September 26, 2009

The Assassination of Hugo Chávez: Colombian hitman tells all

And who was offering to pay for the hit? None other than Chavecito's last opponent in the presidential elections, Manuel "Brave Sir Robin" Rosales, currently holed up in Peru, whining about "political persecution" while under investigation for embezzlement, among other things. Who's really persecuting whom?

For more on the plot, clicky here.

And once more, it's got to be said: If the Venezuelan opposition can't field an honest, serious, non-criminal candidate, it deserves to fail until the end of time.

September 3, 2009

Big bust in Venezuela

No, it's not the latest Miss Universe and her silicone funbags. It's Teh Crime, stoopid:

A band of narcoparamilitaries called Los Restrejo, which operated in northern Táchira, was dismantled by members of the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations Body (CICPC).

The information was given by the director of the CICPC, Commissioner Wilmer Flores Trosel, by telephone to VTV's La Noticia.

"It's a narcoparamilitary cell which dealt in drugs and 'vaccines'*," said the commissioner.

The detainees are Diego Antonio Alvarado Contreras, 57; his lieutenant Juan Carlos Urisa, 35; Primitivo Cáceres Ramírez, and driver Tulio Mendoza Carillo, 73. All are previously known to the police for involvement with drugs, theft, stolen property, and beatings, said Flores Trosel.

The commissioner emphasized that the Colombian authorities should "take the long view, because this drug came from the principal drug-producing country, which is Colombia. It passed through their barracks, police headquarters and into our country, so that it could later be taken by air or sea to the islands of the Caribbean, and then later continue on some other route."

Flores Trosel said that other members of this criminal organization had also been identified, and for this reason, people should expect to hear of further arrests in the next few days, both in the interior and along the Colombian border.

Translation mine.

So, what was this the DEA keeps saying about Venezuela not co-operating in anti-drug operations? Looks like they're STILL doing a better job on their own than they did when the smugglers DEA were "helping" them.

Bet Colombia might stand a better fighting chance if THEY kicked out the DEA, too.

*"Vaccines" = protection racket. You inject cash, they make you immune to crime.

August 23, 2009

Foreign Policy finally says something vaguely un-sucky

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Quick, hide all the rapturists! I do believe the world is coming to an end, and I don't want them to know that Jesus is about to disappoint them. Foreign Policy, Moises Naim's neoliberal rag-o-shite, has actually blogged something vaguely (a) coherent, (b) sane, and (c) that doesn't totally suck. Because (d) it actually has something to say in (modest) defence of a country and president it usually only attacks.

As El Duderino has found, the Guardian is moving steadily to the Stoopid, particularly with this throwaway travel piece by a Brit with wayyyyyy too many euros on his sticky little hands. And waaaaayyyyyy too many drugs on his sticky little brain.

Apparently, the Guardian's correspondent, Jonathan Franklin, doesn't care for what's really going on in Bolivia right now, such as the big deal Evo signed with his Brazilian buddy Lula to jointly build a new highway joining the departments of Cochabamba--a deal worth $330 million US. Lula also had some rather nice things to say about Evo and Bolivia--something about people struggling all their lives for the liberation they are realizing now. Something Jonathan Franklin couldn't be bothered to listen to, probably because it was in Portuguese and that's for wogs. There was also a lot of talk about regional integration--again, not interesting because it was in Spanish, and that too is for wogs. (And wonks.) And definitely, DEFINITELY to be avoided was all talk of the great success the Bolivian anti-drug police force, the FELCN, have been having against illegal coca growing operations and cocaine production labs (all, apparently, run by either well-known baddies of the Bolivian bourgeoisie, or foreigners--mainly Colombian and Peruvian.) The FELCN's success has skyrocketed since the DEA was kicked out, something Mr. Franklin couldn't be bothered even to google. I guess that stuff is just too boring. (Especially when cheap coke is on the menu and the tourists are just snarfing it up, eh?)

And let's not even get started on that bunch of foreign mercenaries the federal police killed in Santa Cruz before those terrorists got a chance to kill Evo. That's not boring, but because the "wrong" cops succeeded--and that pesky little coca-chewing Injun is still alive and chewing coca, just like his ancestors all did--this story, too, is off limits.

But hey, it's not like there's any shortage of other excitement in the region! He could have picked any number of colorful cultural things going on in Bolivia, like the catfight over the Diablada dance that's broken out between Bolivia and neighboring Peru, or maybe something quirky which locals and tourists alike are lapping up, like cholita pro wrestling. But noooooo. Jonathan Franklin apparently thought the whole cocaine-bar story was just too sexy to pass up, and who is he to pass up such a line? (Oops, bad pun.) Hey, if it's told to you in nudges and winks by a red-eyed gringo with powdery nostrils and a hyperactive tongue, it must be good, right? Right? Right???

Um, no.

This is the sort of story anyone staying in a luxury hotel could pick up. Just because a place is clandestine doesn't mean it's hard to find. And if it caters specifically to Eurotrash tourists with too much money and too few brain cells, how hard can it possibly be? Sure, it's word of mouth, but talk is cheaper than coke. It flows faster when someone's high on coke, too. This is not crack journalism. (Pun again!) This little fluff piece is as disposable as the packets the bar's "menu" came in.

But what really proved the final straw (bad pun again!) for Foreign Policy's blogger was the insinuation that Evo's "coca yes, cocaine no" policy was actually helping, not hurting, the local Colombian marching-powder industry. So he wrote this response which, while not exactly kick-ass, was nonetheless rather decent. It could have gone into more depth, but hey--it's blogging. And for Foreign Policy, it's a start. Maybe one day they'll get off their Kool-Aid trip altogether.

As for Jonathan Franklin, I have but one thing to say to you...

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Pls n thx.

PS: Don't miss T'anta Wawa's beeyooteeful takedown of the nonsense of the Guardian piece.

August 19, 2009

This one's just for you, Carl...

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A couple of days ago, a flying monkey 'winger calling himself Carl pooped on this entry here. I had written out a nasty little reply, but I've had sober second thoughts, and what's more, I've a hell of a lot more to say today. Since that entry's about to roll off the front page with the posting of this one, I'll copy out for you exactly what he crapped so you can see for yourself how ridiculous it is, even just on the face of it:

I honestly hope that fucking thug Chavez tires to invade Colombia or incite some kind of border skirmish. Having trained and operated with Colombian forces from 1990-2004, I can guarantee you that they would kick the living shit out of Chavez's hollowed out army.

Carl, are you a masochist? Because you sure sound like you WANT to have your ass soccer-dribbled by a female civilian peacenik.

I don't normally indulge stupid men's death wishes, but I guess I can make an exception, because in a remarkably compact form, you've just encapsulated all the collective stupidity of your ilk. So, here goes...

First of all, the fucking thug here is Uribe, not Chávez. Tattoo it on your forehead if you have trouble remembering this simple declarative sentence, Carl: ALVARO URIBE IS A FUCKING THUG.

All of South America has a problem with Uribe. Venezuela and Ecuador do because they're right on Colombia's border, and they're sick to death of having to mop up the bloody spillover from Colombia's civil wars. (They're also sick to death of being bombed and invaded by Colombia, with gringo "help".)

And they're not the only ones. Uribe took a whirlwind tour of South America lately, to no avail. It didn't matter that he wasn't giving press conferences, and that his motorcade managed to evade the huge mass protests everywhere he went; he wasn't feeling any love. Evo actually smacked him around in Bolivia, which took some serious cojones. Even the big ABCs--Argentina, Brazil and Chile--aren't buying what the gringos' puppet dictator is trying to sell.

So, Carl, I bet you're wondering what their probem is? Well, in a nutshell, it's the sovereignty, stupid! When one country just pisses on all its neighbors by saying it's gonna let the US build bases there, and it's going to collaborate in spying and terrorizing, nyaaaah--what did you expect? Imperialism isn't welcome there anymore (not that it ever really was, except to the idle rich, who were more than happy to have a US-backed death squad killing the uppity peasants so that they wouldn't have to dirty their own aristocratic hands at it.) There are any number of good reasons why the locals have been yelling "Yankee go home" for over a hundred years now. Some of them are dead now, but others could still go before The Hague, assuming that a local tribunal doesn't get to them first.

Colombia, incidentally, is rife with trial-worthy human rights abusers who are unlikely to face justice at home because the system there is deeply corrupted. Every administration since the Bogotazo, at the very least, has peasants' blood on its hands. There are corruptos in every cabinet, and Uribe himself is the biggest one of all. Hey Carl, have you heard yet that he was good friends with Pablo Escobar, and even rubber-stamped the pilots' licences for the latter's flyboys? It's true!

And that's not even touching the paramilitaries. If those aren't fucking thugs, I don't know who is. And Uribe's doing nothing to rein them in; in fact, he's actively linked to them. What does that say about him?

Now, about your fond little hope, Carl...that Chavecito will "tire" to initiate a border war. (How the hell does one tire to initiate wars? Dyslexics of the world, untie!) Sadly, you're not gonna get your widdle wish, because Uribe is now whimpering around with his tail between his legs:

Last Friday the president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, said his government was interested in repairing relations with Venezuela and Ecuador. On the same day he also said that the Colombian government had sealed negotiations with the United States to allow U.S. troops to be deployed on seven of its bases in Colombia. Chavez responded that for such actions, the mending of relations was impossible.

[...]

Chavez, speaking on his weekly TV show on Sunday, said it would be impossible to renew relations with Colombia because of Colombia's verbal attacks on Venezuela and the threat posed by the US military bases on its territory.

Venezuela also froze its relations with Colombia after hearing about the planned US bases, and then being accused of selling weapons to the FARC by the Colombian government. It withdrew its ambassador to Colombia on 28 July, reinstalled it on 7 August and is seeking alternative trading partners.

"Uribe said extremely cynically that he wants to repair relations. They are attacking us, they are slandering us, and then he says that he wants to mend relations between Colombia and Ecuador. But how? He can't. It's already impossible, there's no way to repair this," Chavez said.

That's not war talk; that's diplomatic and trade talk. It's also a plain, bald statement of facts. He's not saying "We're gonna bomb Colombia", because there's no interest in throwing good blood after bad. He's an intelligent man, disinclined to quarrel with an obvious stooge because it's undignified--and, it bears repeating, he is NOT a fucking thug.

Now, I know you're more than a little hard of thinking, Carl, because you obviously didn't comprehend a word of my earlier entry. Since you claimed to have spent 14 years in Colombia, you ought to know at least enough Spanish to watch and understand the video I posted on the entry you defaced with your puerile war-mongering gibberish. I call bullshit on your claim, Carl--if you had spent that long in Colombia, you would understand not only Spanish, but local issues, a lot better. Your grasp of the news is that of a typical armchair general from Freeperville. You haven't "trained and operated" with anyone, in other words.

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I also call bullshit on the notion that Uribe and his gringo backers would "kick the living shit out of Chavez's hollowed out army". First off, the Venezuelan armed forces are not "hollowed out", they've been purged of their SOA-trained putschists and cash-diverting bloodsuckers. That's good for morale, as well as patriotism and loyalty--all of which they have in abundance. They're also newly equipped with matériel that actually works. Venezuela has replaced its old FAL rifles with Kalashnikovs, and even has a Kalashnikov factory or two now. They've also been phasing out their dying F-16s, replacing them with some very capable Russian-built fighter planes. Perhaps you've heard of the Sukhoi, Carl? If not, let me show you it.

Venezuela don't need no stinkin' gringo hardware. These Sukhois (and the others still to come) are perfectly capable of bombing the shit out of any military base in Colombia, including the gringo ones, if Venezuela or Ecuador is attacked. If not, the planes will keep on flying just for show, as they're doing above. There won't be any border war, at least not one started by Chavecito, although he seems more than capable of finishing it. The one who will provoke the border skirmish--and who has already tried it more than once--is that fucking thug Uribe, and no other.

BTW, Carl, I'd really like you to explain to me how a "hollowed out" military could be capable of doing this:

180 clandestine drug-running airstrips destroyed, according to this EFE report from last year. They're still hard at it, too. That's why you're paying so much more for all that crack you're smoking lately, Carl--Venezuela's not playing nice with your DEA smugglers anymore. (Pretty soon you won't be able to afford any, and that's fine with me. If you wanna see "hollowed out", try googling the search terms "US economy".)

Like I said, they don't need no stinkin' gringo hardware, or no stinkin' gringo "help" combatting drugs! What they need, Carl, is for the US and Colombia to get the fuck off their turf and leave them the hell alone. Is that so hard to understand?

You can "honestly hope" whatever you like, Carl, but at the end of the day, you're just another dumbass whose hopes will, thankfully, never be realized. You need to STFU...and find better things to hope for, "honestly" or otherwise.

Personally, I honestly hope you stop smoking crack.

August 13, 2009

Colombia gets cut off; Argentina gets cut in

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Chavecito may have sent an ambassador back to Bogotá, but that doesn't mean Colombia is off the hook. Chavecito simply found a better way to punish his worst neighbor, one that hits hard in the pocketbook:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Argentine counterpart, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, signed a $1.1 billion bilateral accord to promote trade between their respective countries during a visit by Fernandez to Caracas on Tuesday. Trade between the two countries was estimated at $1.4 billion last year.

Chavez is aiming to replace imports from Colombia and vowing to reduce trade with his neighbour over its decision to grant the United States the use of five additional military bases. Venezuela is Colombia's second biggest trading partner after the U.S. The two countries shared an estimated $7 billion in bilateral trade last year.

Emphasis added.

So, what does it mean? Well, in addition to boosting Argentina's auto sector (and hitting Colombia's hard), there's this:

Among the 22 cooperation agreements signed, the Venezuelan Agrarian Corporation (CVA) and Verandemi of Argentina agreed to carry out a feasibility study for the development of various projects related to the exploitation and production of soybeans.

As part of the push to substitute Colombian food imports with those from Argentina and other countries, Venezuela also agreed to purchase 80,000 tonnes of beef from Argentina. Last year Venezuela imported 200,000 tonnes of beef valued at $755 million - a third of its annual consumption - from Colombia.

Venezuela's state importing agency SUVINCA also signed a deal to purchase $100 million in textile imports from Argentina's textile makers association, Fundacion Pro Tejer, this year.

A cooperation agreement on the mutual recognition of quality certificates in the textile and auto parts sectors was signed, as well as other agreements in the areas of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals , purchase of drilling equipment, leather goods and poultry products.

Finally, Venezuela's Food Ministry and Argentina's Production Ministry signed a letter of intent to guarantee a steady supply of a range of basic food items in Venezuela.

During the meeting, Fernandez said the relations between Venezuela and Argentina are "an example of the struggle for unity on the continent."

Unity? Boy, I'll say it is. It's evidence that the entire continent is united against Colombia and its brash, stupid president's mickeypants move of letting the US station troops at five Colombian bases (to replace the now-shut-down Manta, in Ecuador). When you've got an economic biggie like Argentina stepping in to fill the breach, and benefiting in turn from Venezuela's prosperous and growing domestic economy, well...let's just put it this way: Socialism really IS good for capitalism, after all.

(Just not US and Colombian corporate interests, natch. Ha, ha.)

PS: Colombia didn't attend the recent Unasur meeting, but they won't be able to weasel out of a presidential summit later this month in Argentina. El Narco and his foreign minister will be attending, and you can be sure they'll get a hot earful from everyone, particularly Cristina and Lula. Oh, to be a fly on the wall...

August 4, 2009

Does this guy remind you of anyone?

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Honestly, Alvaro Uribe is like someone out of Shakespeare. Macbeth, say:

Is this a dagger which I see before me,

The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.

I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.

Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible

To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but

A dagger of the mind, a false creation,

Proceeding from the heat-oppressèd brain?

I see thee yet, in form as palpable

As this which now I draw.

Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going;

And such an instrument I was to use.

Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses,

Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still,

And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,

Which was not so before. There's no such thing:

It is the bloody business which informs

Thus to mine eyes. Now o'er the one half world

Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse

The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates

Pale Hecate's offerings, and wither'd Murder,

Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf,

Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace,

With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design

Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth,

Hear not my steps which way they walk, for fear

Thy very stones prate of my whereabout

And take the present horror from the time

Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives:

Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.

--Macbeth, Act II, scene i

If I were a director at Stratford, I'd strongly consider casting El Narco to play Macbeth. He's definitely got the chops, if you'll pardon the pun...

Of course, Macbeth was egged on to commit murder too--just like El Doptor Varito, who did it in Venezuela and Ecuador. Heaven only knows where he'll pull his knife next, but a word to Bolivia and Brazil--watch your backs!

July 31, 2009

Chavecito puts the chill on Colombia

"Played around when I was gone

Then I got hip to what went on

When I returned I left no doubt

I kept my cool and threw you out

And now you come with heart in hand

You're beggin' me to understand

I see you're ripe for what's in store

And now's my chance

To even the score..."

--Toronto, "Even the Score"

Oh, Colombia. It sure must suck to be you. Your main industries are cocaine and bananas, both of them coming at the cost of massive human suffering and inescapable poverty; your human rights record is shit; your president is a dead drug lord's bestest pal; your foreign minister is a twat who looks like Tucker Carlson, minus the silly bowtie. You're mired in a civil war with no end in sight; it's a toss-up who's the bigger terrorist, the leftist guerrillas plaguing you still after all these decades, or the right-wing paramilitaries created to fight them. (Oh, fuck the toss-up. It's the paras, all the way.) Your reputation couldn't be worse; when you're not exporting crappy bananas and nose-powder to the folks up here, you're exporting violence and paramilitarism to your neighbors. Mexico and Panama, both of them not exactly untroubled by corruption and crime, are looking at you and snickering. Even Peru, that "investment grade" slag pit, looks good compared to you.

Poor Colombia, you sure must be desperate to buff up your image on the international stage. And glory be, your old pals in Washington have come through. Five new US military bases, plus all the hardware that goes with 'em! That oughta bump up the GDP (pay no attention to all those miserable, hounded, short-lived slum dwellers behind the curtain.) Plus, you get to help Uncle Sam terrorize and dominate the entire region. Yay! You're golden.

Well, not quite. I've already noted that Ecuador isn't in any hurry to re-establish diplomatic relations with you, onaccounta you bombed them on March 1, 2008, killing one of their citizens in an unauthorized cross-border raid on a FARC camp. Guess you couldn't be troubled with the niceties of saying to El Ecuadorable, "Hey, dude, you got some of our cooties in the Sucumbios region. Could you please be a dear and hand them over to us?" No, you just had to go barging in there, with Yankee guidance (natch!) and bomb the living fuck out of the place. Not smart.

And now, with all the ugly accusations you're leveling against Venezuela, look what's going on. Chavecito, like his Ecuadorian compadre, isn't taking your shit lying down...

He's pulling Venezuelan diplomats out of Colombia and putting the deep freeze on relations. Ouch! Last time he did that, it was because you forgot your manners and sent your agents into Caracas to haul out a FARC guy who happened to be staying there. As in the case of Ecuador, you could have asked nicely for an extradition, and he would have complied. But oh, noooooo...you just had to go put your foot in it, eh?

Well, here you go: the Big Guy deals in consequences, and as a consequence for your bad faith, you get your mellow all harshed on. Not only is he chilling relations, he's also mulling a shut-down of the gasoduct that he was so willing to help you guys build. That's gotta hurt, but don't worry about the rest of South America--they can always get gas from Venezuela--or Bolivia, which has way more of it than you, and a much better president to boot.

And just to add insult to injury, check out Chavecito's demeanor in the videos above. Calm, rational, intelligent as he explains at length why he's doing it. Doesn't look at all like the wild-eyed demagogue the lamestream media like to make him out to be. Sure must suck to be them, too. Ever wonder why they're bleeding so much cash lately? (Hint: it's the product, stupid.)

Speaking of bleeding cash, though, guess who's not doing it? Yep, that's right...Venezuela. Spain just signed an energy accord with them, one agreeing to the nationalization of a Repsol-owned plant, no less. And there wasn't a word of boo (or boohoo) in it over Colombia. So Chavecito must be doing something right.

Doesn't suck to be him. Doesn't suck to be a Chavista, either. But it sure must suck to be his enemy.

July 30, 2009

FARC denies financing Correa campaign; "smoking gun" video is a fake

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Oh look, I found another bomb-proof magic laptop in a FARC camp! And look, there's video in it proving that the FARC financed the election campaigns of Hugo Chávez, Rafael Correa, and a host of other leftist LatAm leaders...

Well, no. Actually, I found no such laptop. But then, neither did those who put out the same claim...and how do we know? The FARC have put out a communiqué denouncing the bullshit:

The gringo military invasion.

1. The presidential authorization for installing 5 new US military bases in Colombian territory is an act of high treason against our homeland, an affront to the dignity of the nation, and to the memory of all the martyrs of Bolívar's army of liberation, who gave their lives struggling against the colonial imperial yoke and for independence.

2. After the all-around failure of Plan Colombia and the increasing anti-colonial sentiment running through Latin America, there is no doubt that this new phase of the gringo invasion has as its principal target the revolutionary insurgency, which in time will become the bridgehead of a war, directed by Washington, against governments, countries and fellow peoples who are fighting for a sovereign development and for the integration of Latin America.

3. The announcements of the escalation of the US invasion of Colombia come in the midst of new corruption scandals by the Uribe gang in the Nariño palace, corrupt officials who shame our country before the world and who fill future generations with rage and indignity by way of the bloodthirsty mentality, the cynicism, the avarice and the impudence which characterize the mafia governing the country today.

4. As a new smokescreen and an act of aggression against the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, Washington and Bogotá manipulated a FARC video, taking it out of context. We categorically deny having sent money to any electoral campaign in any neighbor country.

5. Our resolve to strive for a democratic peace and a New Colombia is stronger than ever. The people of Colombia and all of Latin America and the Caribbean will know how to respond, as our history has shown, to this new aggression of the empire of the north and its lackeys.

Translation mine. Italics added for emphasis.

Now, you can think what you like of the FARC and their methods, but I'd say this analysis of the situation is bang on. There is indeed a campaign afoot in Washington and Bogotá to depose a legitimate leader, using the dirtiest of smear tactics.

Rafael Correa, alias El Ecuadorable, has been an incredibly effective president. He beat out Washington's hand-picked candidate--a crooked old banana baron who, it turns out, not only tried repeatedly (without success) to buy his way into power, but apparently thought he could also buy the right to sexually abuse an innocent woman. Correa's reign has stabilized a notoriously "unstable" Ecuador. He's remained in power with no signs of an ouster in sight; he is popular among his people, handily beating out every neoliberal candidate touted by Washington to oppose him; he's strengthened ties with other Latin American leaders via Mercosur, Unasur and the ALBA. He's even been good for his nation's finances, something socialists are not supposed to be, according to all the crapitalist dogma we've been hearing ever since the Russian revolution (if not longer.)

And we all know that if socialists don't fail as they're supposed to, crapitalists will do whatever it takes to make them fail (or, failing that, kill them.) So, it's no wonder someone is trying to drag El Ec down using whatever they think will do the trick. Ergo: Magic Colombian laptops, anyone?

Only one problem with this little rat-fuck: the video in question is a pretty transparent forgery. Obscurantism: now available in handy video format.

Meanwhile, speaking of transparency, look who's committed to it, and why:

This Wednesday, the government of Ecuador handed over to its Attorney General's office a document which, presumably, was part of the diary of "Raúl Reyes", the second-in-command of the FARC, who died during a bombing raid by Colombia on Ecuadorian territory on March 1, 2008.

During a press conference, the minister of the interior, Gustavo Jalkh, and the chancellor, Fander Falconí, explained that they did not attribute "either truth or falseness" to the document, but that they were handing it over to the "competent authority" to offer "total transparency", and to take "appropriate juridical measures."

The authorities handed over to the media copies of the manuscript, which, presumably, had been the personal diary of FARC commander Raúl Reyes. They also sent a copy to the Organization of American States (OAS).

The alleged diary makes reference to the former Ecuadorian minister Gustavo Larrea, who publicly admitted having met with the guerrilla leader in an effort to arrange a humanitarian prisoner-swap in an undisclosed location, and to the ex-undersecretary of Government, José Ignacio Chauvín, who is under investigation for suspected connections to narcotrafficking.

Also, the document records Reyes's activities in chronological order.

In the manuscript, Reyes also mentions retired colonel Jorge Brito, accused by Colombia of having received money from the guerrillas, and a certain "Doctor Ayala", who is not identified further.

"President Correa never sent any type of emissary, in any manner, in any connection to the events related herein," said minister Jalkh, adding that the intent is to "analyze the document for evidence that it is attributable to Raúl Reyes, and to see if what it says is true."

The minister added that the Ecuadorian goverrnment "could not keep to itself a document of this nature, and this demonstrates a profound commitment to truth, justice and the right we all have to be duly informed and, above all, seriously informed."

Translation mine.

Consider yourselves now duly and seriously informed. Which is more than you'd ever be if you relied on the lamestream media for this story.

PS: For more due and serious information, see also this Venezuelanalysis story.

May 17, 2009

Maracaibo goes to hell, in true paramilitary style

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Ever since Manuel Rosales fucked off to Peru, falsely claiming he was being "persecuted", the city of Maracaibo, Venezuela, has been effectively without a mayor. But even when Burusas was still in the city, he was apparently either grossly incompetent or flat-out criminal, if this story is any indication:

"Commando-type men arrived, armed to the teeth, and shoved us against the wall. They told us that if they saw us talking on the corner again, they would fuck us."

So says Francisco (name altered to protect the privacy of the 17-year-old), who was threatened with death along with six other young people by a suspected "death squad" in the Lomitas del Zulia sector of the Francisco Eugenio Bustamante parish, population 93,967, on April 24 at 8:00 pm.

A total of 11 sectors are alarmed at the presence of a violent group that is trying to take the law into its own hands.

Francisco says that days before the men came to the neighborhood, the residents of Calle 60B-1 in Lomitas del Zulia were shocked to find a leaflet stuck in the doors of their houses, warning of a "social cleansing" due to the rise in juvenile delinquency in Maracaibo.

Panic took hold in the zone as people recalled the threats of the "death pamphlets" which circulated in the city and other muncipalities over the last two months.

Francisco recalls that the six armed men got out of a grey Ford Fiesta Power and corralled him when he was conversing with a group of other boys. "One of them wanted to leave on his bicycle, but they pointed a pistol at him and frisked him to see if he was armed."

A neighbor intervened, and assured that the boys were all right and asked that they be left alone. "Then they went away. But if we see them again in the street, we won't respond," said one of the boys, in a hoarse voice.

From then on, the residents changed their routine. They live in fear of the men who threatened them with death.

The same thing happened a week before, in the Libertador neighborhood of the same parish, when several hooded men shouted at passersby that they would kill "delinquents and drug traffickers", according to Adolfo Jacobo, a Maracaibo taxi driver.

"20 days ago, a friend showed me a flyer that some guys were throwing around in the streets, saying they would kill criminals, never mind if it took the lives of any innocent people," said a resident of Avenida 95 in the same neighborhood, who declined to be identified. He added that as of that moment, the neighbors all locked themselves indoors after 7:00 pm, for fear of "being caught in a shooting."

"We are worried about the lack of (police) patrols. Now we can't even stand in front of our houses because of the insecurity and the threatening pamphlets," said Eduardo Rincón, an electrician from Lomitas del Zulia in eastern Maracaibo.

His version coincides with that of Commissioner Jotny Márquez, chief of the CICPC-Maracaibo, who questions the crime-prevention work of the regional police because crime rates have risen.

In the José Antonio Páez neighborhood, near Lomitas del Zulia, people are also alarmed by the appearance of the pamphlets.

Aura Medina, a 47-year-old housewife, said that after the leaflets were distributed, several suspicious cars were seen passing through the neighborhood during the night. "We're afraid that they will do what they did to those young guys, and take people from their houses and kill them," said Medina, referring to a case of some young people who were taken from the La Chinita neighborhood, in the southern part of the city, last April 18.

Families of the victims have joined the CICPC and the Ombudsman's office in calling for justice for their loved ones. "Right now, we know that they called several municipal police officers to testify who were involved, and we hope they will clarify what happened," said Aída Rodríguez, mother of Jender Soto, who was killed by gunfire.

A spokesman for the CICPC informed that five members of the Maracaibo police were called to give statements about the occurrences. However, a tribunal source denied, for the time being, that the officials were directly involved in the murders.

The pamphlets found in Maracaibo were of the same content as those which circulated in Colombia in 2008.

Translation mine.

It seems pretty clear what's going on. Colombian paramilitaries have been a problem in western Venezuela for years, because that region borders on Colombia. And right-wing politicians, too, have been western Venezuela's bane for the same amount of time. It seems only logical to suspect that the two are somehow connected; the paras "provide security" to the rich, corrupt right-wingers, and do so by menacing the poor. They also seem to have had some collaborators among the Maracaibo police, and this even when Giancarlo Di Martino, a member of the PSUV (Chavecito's party) was mayor of Maracaibo and trying to get a handle on the situation. Do the PoliMaracaibo respect no authority unless it's that of a fascist enabler? Sure smells that way.

It doesn't hurt, either, to recall that Colombian paramilitaries have been found to be involved in several failed coup plots against Chavecito--always hired at the behest of those same right-wing political figures who pose as heads of "civil society" and NGOs, and who are constantly screeching about political persecution when the law starts catching up to them.

So, when will the Dissociated Press, the Old Grey Whore and the WaHoPo write about the truly persecuted in Venezuela--the residents of neighborhoods terrorized by these right-wing commandos, operating illegally at the behest of poor, persecuted Manuel Rosales? Don't hold your breath, kiddies, they're still busy painting Chavecito as the villain on whose shoulders all of this somehow must fall.

May 11, 2009

Another big drug bust in Venezuela

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Néstor Reverol (in red) shows off a whackload of Colombia's most lucrative export--which won't be making it out through Venezuela this time.

So, Venezuela needs the DEA back, eh? Heh...

The director of the National Anti-Drug Office, Néstor Reverol, announced the confiscation of 1,981 kilograms of drugs, which were divided into 1,912 blocks, last Saturday in the early morning hours. The drugs were confiscated by the municipal police of Pedro Gual, the Bolivarian National Guard, and the CICPC.

The operation also resulted in the detention of three persons, one Colombian and two Venezuelan, at a ranch called "La Guardia", in the Panapo sector of Cúpira in the state of Miranda. The detainees are currently in the custody of the Public Ministry.

A boat by the name of Ave Fénix, registered in Pampatar, was also seized.

Reverol called the operation "another heavy blow" for the trafficking of drugs. "We hereby confirm the commitment of the Venezuelan state in its frontal assault on the trafficking of illicit drugs," Reverol said.

Reverol reported that in another operation, conducted on Sunday afternoon by the National Guard, 830 kilos of marijuana were seized in a truck with a false bottom. The operation took place in the Buena Vista sector of Monte Carmelo, Trujillo.

"It is important to emphasize that to date, we have confiscated 18,488 kilograms of illegal drugs, and arrested 2,050 persons who are now in the custody of the Public Ministry," Reverol said.

Translation mine.

Looks like Venezuela and Bolivia both are doing better at antidrug policing by themselves than they ever did with the DEA in the house. Now why do you suppose that is?

Meanwhile, on a related note, check out THIS bit of drug-related pwnage:

A rational expert shoots down a former drug czar.

Heh, heh...and just for emphasis and good measure, heh.

April 24, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Who was da man at da summit?

I'll give you a hint:

ecuadorable-blingee.jpg

Awww, look at that! Even No-Drama Obama adores El Ecuadorable. And, considering that Rafael Correa's slated to win re-election in a landslide in a coupla days, it's always helpful to start off on a good footing with a reigning champ.

So why is he so sexy? Well, El Ec's cojones are everywhere in evidence: he's ruled out a free-trade agreement with the US, and this just days before the election. He's also looking to get a massive discount on a debt buyback, and seems likely to get it because as a former professor of economics, he knows what sticks to hit 'em with; he's also presided over a period of economic growth that must have everyone in Bretton Woods gnashing their teeth; plus, he refuses to make nice with Colombia as long as El Narcoparaco refuses to meet with Ecuador's five conditions for re-establishing diplomacy. That's the confidence of a popular candidate talking, people; learn from it. He's popular for a reason--unlike his predecessor, Lucio Gutiérrez, alias Sucio Lucio (Dirty Lucio), he doesn't promise one thing and then deliver its opposite. When he promised to give 'em the belt, he sure 'nuff whipped it out and let fly. As it stands, he's already bucked the old dismal trend of short-lived Ecuadorian leaders...

Little wonder, then, that El Ec's polling at nearly 50% (meaning he could score an outright win in the first round) compared to Sucio's mere 15. And Sucio, believe it or not, is currently his closest opponent! I'm surprised he's even in the running, considering just what he's up against:

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Love the shirt, too. Now, if we could only get him to ditch the conventional suitcoats in favor of something like what Evo wears: no collar, no lapels, but a few spiffy bits of aguayo contrast trim. Maybe it's just as well that he hasn't gone that route yet, or I would be hopelessly confused and torn as to who's the cuter of the two.

March 30, 2009

And that's why we love Rafael Correa...

you-got-balls.jpg

It's the cojones, stupid!

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, reiterated on Sunday night his position of not re-establishing diplomatic ties to Colombia. The two countries have gone more than a year without them since the government of Colombia staged a military invasion of Ecuador.

"We will not re-establish relations, at least as long as I am president", said Correa, recalling the breakdown that followed the bombardment of a clandestine FARC camp in Ecuadorian territory by Colombian government troops on March 1 of last year.

Ecuador, considering its sovereignty to have been violated, has required Colombia to fulfill five minimum requirements before diplomatic relations can be restored.

These demands include a greater troop presence on the Colombian side of the border to prevent the FARC from crossing into Ecuador, and that the Colombian authorities hand over information about the bombing to Ecuador, among others.

Of these demands, the Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe, "has not met any", other than to admit that Colombian troops crossed the border into Ecuador. With this recognition "things have advanced a little, but we asked for five things," said Correa in a televised interview. He said it was "the first time in the history of Latin America that there has been a bombing of this kind."

"This has not been a squabble among brothers, it has been a very serious attack by one country against another, a friend," Correa said.

Translation mine.

After more than a year, he's still standing up to El Narco and his paraco-administration. That takes some stones, no?

So, too, does being the #1 protector of Amazonian rainforest among the nine countries that share this vast tract of jungle (which, also, happens to be where the bombed FARC camp was located. In the Ecuadorian-Amazonian rainforest. Notice who's second, BTW?)

Correa says there won't be any further diplomatic ties as long as he's president. Considering that he's up for re-election this year, and is hugely popular, that could go on for some time. I'm sure this is just one reason among many that his re-election will be a walk-in.

March 28, 2009

Marching against para-politics and violence in Bogotá

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Colombian university students marched through downtown Bogotá yesterday. They were protesting against the current status quo of paramilitary violence and impunity, apparently with police complicity. According to this article in Aporrea, "spokespersons from the local headquarters of youth organizations of the Bosa district denounced that more than 20 young people were assassinated by armed thugs on motorcycles, distributing flyers threatening 'social cleansing' of supposed prostitutes, drug addicts, unemployed persons, criminals, etc. They said that communities call the police and officers show up two or three hours later, without any results against these delinquents and murderers." It goes on to say that "the youths suspect that behind these pamphlets lie elements of official organisms, since it is impossible that one or two persons alone have the capacity to distribute leaflets in almost half the country without being detained." (Translations mine.)

Hmmm, smells like El NarcoPresidente is behind this, no?

But of course, we don't need to pay any of that no mind. After all, Colombia is the Bestest Democracy Ever. And of course that little paraco, Alvaro Uribe, is just a cuddly teddy bear, right?

February 14, 2009

Ah, the good old days...

...when Venezuela was "democratic". Here's a snippet of a speech by Rómulo Betancourt, the "father" of Venezuela's Fourth Republic and its so-called democracy:

If he sounds like Hitler with a Spanish accent, that's because he pretty much was. He's talking about taking leftist political prisoners, quite openly. Betancourt's Venezuela was a shitty place to be a union leader, much like Colombia today. And, like Uribe's Colombia, if you disagreed with the president, you were The Enemy. The going policy? "Shoot first, ask questions later."

Oh, and Betancourt was apparently bound and determined to stay in office for as long as he wanted to...not, like Chavecito, as long as the people wanted him...as long as HE wanted to. The people could suck a banana as far as he was concerned.

Just think, people...this is what the Venezuelan opposition would like to drag the country back to. Seven stars and all.

Some democracy, eh?

January 15, 2009

This just in: Drunken Fratboy of the Sky gets pinned to Sweetheart of the Death Squad

Awwww...don't they make a luvverly couple?

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"Jeebus, this thing's harder'n undoin' a bra strap!"

December 2, 2008

Yet another Magic Laptop story you won't see in the whore media

Here you go. First the video, in Spanish...

...and then, I translate the story for you:

A captain and antiterrorist investigator of the DIJIN, the Colombian equivalent of the FBI, Ronald Ayden Coy Ortiz, who wrote the report on the computer which the Colombian army claimed to have found in the encampment of Raúl Reyes, declared under oath before the Inspector General that he did not find any e-mails in the said computer. "Only Microsoft Word documents", according to a report by Canal Uno, a Colombian TV station.

Upon being asked to "inform the office if you (the DIJIN) find any archives corresponding to e-mails sent or received by Raúl Reyes", Capt. Coy responded, "We have not found any e-mails up to now. We have found a great many e-mail addresses, but Reyes stored the information in Microsoft Word format."

The government of Colombia has maintained until now that the computer contained thousands of e-mails sent by the FARC leader, who died in an illegal bombardment of his encampment in Ecuador, in March.

The computer was the basis of charges against parliamentarians Piedad Córdoba, Wilson Borja and Gloria Inés Ramírez; former peace advisor Lázaro Vivero; the director of the weekly magazine Voz, Carlos Lozano; Telesur journalist William Parra; the director of an NGO, Liliana Patricia Obando; the former presidential candidate, Alvaro Leyva; US investigator James Jones; and Amilcar Figueroa, a Venezuelan citizen.

"This declaration could derail the investigation" against those incriminated by the contents of the computer, because "Word documents do not prove that there were e-mail exchanges between the guerrilla chief and those under investigation", according to Canal Uno.

The attorneys representing those persons have asked that the "e-mail evidence" be declared null and void, because according to the captain's statement, there is no way of telling whether any e-mails were sent or received, since Word archives cannot prove that there was an exchange of communications.

But of course, this rather obvious "no duh"-er will be ignored by the Colombian authorities as they move to persecute prosecute anyone who gets in the way of El Narco and his reign of terror. Including, as you may have guessed, a certain rather well-known Venezuelan president in a red shirt.

November 30, 2008

Colombia, the subversive narco-protectorate

If there's any doubt still in your mind as to whether the Venezuelan opposition are really traitors, or that Colombia's diplomats are really imperialist cats'-paws trying to foment an illegal separatist movement, you can now put your doubts to rest. Alberto Nolia, host of the VTV show "The Devil's Papers", has uncovered some definitive proof that the answer to both questions is a resounding YES:

Here's the story, translated by your humble and obedient one:

Venezuelan chancellor Nicolás Maduro Moros said he had conversed with his Colombian counterpart, Jaime Bermúdez Merizalde, who confirmed to him that he would "retire the Colombian consul in Maracaibo", Carlos Galvis Fajardo, "which I thanked him for. He acted with extraordinary speed. I hope that this will not be repeated with any other diplomatic functionary from any other country", and that there would be respect for international norms.

The measure took place after the VTV program, "The Devil's Papers", revealed a conversation between Galvis and an advisor to Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, José Obdulio Gaviria, in which he expressed his happiness at the victory of opposition candidates in the gubernatorial elections of the states of Zulia and Táchira, the "marvellous" part being that it was "our work there", and that they would soon meet with the governors "to take actions at government level."

Maduro said that this recording "confirms information we have been receiving that certain opposition members in the border regions were trying to get involved in a foreign plot against the unity of our nation."

President Chávez has been denouncing for months the separatist intentions of the border states, including Táchira and Zulia, to create a separatist "Media Luna" with the aid of oligarchs from neighboring Colombia.

[...]

The conversation between Maduro and Bermúdez took place before a speech by President Chávez, who indicated, without referring to the call, that if the Colombian consul had not been voluntarily removed, he would have to be expelled from Venezuela.

[...]

Addressing chancellor Maduro, Chávez asked, "Nicolás, have you spoken with the Colombian chancellor already? Because the only way that I will not expel this consul-general is if the Colombian government withdraws him quickly, now! If not, I'll expel him. Either they remove him now, or I'll throw him out of the country. I'll expel him! I hope the government of Colombia makes the decisions it has to make."

So now the treacherous Colombian consul is gone, withdrawn by his own government. Problem solved?

Don't bank on it just yet. At best, this is only a stopgap. Until Colombia is no longer the loyal servant of you-know-where, and someone other than Alvaro Uribe (or anyone else equally crooked) is president of Colombia, we can expect to go right on hearing of incidents like this in Venezuela. Don't forget that the Colombian consul was talking to no less a personage than Uribe's own advisor (who, so far as I know, has suffered no consequences). Uribe is involved right up to his beady little eyeballs in this plot. He's going to replace a few people and go right on pulling the self-same shit, all over again, and again and again, until it succeeds or he blows an artery trying.

That is assuming, of course, that the people of the border states that went to opposition governors last Sunday don't take matters into their own hands and get rid of those vendepatrias. Unfortunately, if they follow strict constitutional procedures, they're going to have to wait awhile. But if there's not a recall vote a couple of years from now in every single one of those states, and every one of those governors isn't subsequently ousted by popular will, I'll be seriously surprised--and disgusted.

In the meantime, there's always the criminal justice system, which is also as speedy as molasses at the South Pole. But who knows, maybe the federales will surprise us by taking a few newly-minted governors into custody yet. Stranger things have happened in Venezuela...

November 27, 2008

Outrage, please. We need outrage NOW!

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While all the whore media scream and shout about Venezuela and Russia's joint naval exercises (and remain curiously mum about the role that Dubya's revival of the Fourth Fleet plays in it all), this strange little item on Peru happened to cross my line of sight:

Russian President Dimitry Medvedev agreed Monday to send technicians to train Peru's military to repair Russian-made helicopters.

Medvedev and Peru President Alan Garcia announced the program after a weekend summit of Pacific Rim leaders in Peru's capital.

The technicians will work in military hangars in Lima and could lend their services to nearby countries that have Russian choppers, according to Peruvian Defense Minister Antero Flores-Araoz.

A large part of Peru's helicopter fleet was purchased from Russia in the 1970s by Peru's military government. Peru previously sent helicopters to Russia for maintenance.

The defense minister said the two sides still have to work out the cost, financing and launch date for the program.

It digresses a bit with a predictable mention (screech! SCREECH!!!) of Chavecito and the Russian navy, before segue-ing (or non-sequitur-ing) into this odd passage:

Flores-Araoz said Peru is not and has never considered hosting a U.S. military base on its territory. The U.S. lease on the Manta air base in Ecuador, its only base in South America, expires in 2009.

Now why would he say that? Strange. (Perhaps Colombia would also like to enlighten us, since its dinky little president was also at the APEC summit, cadging "free" trade treaties with Canada--uninvited.)

Yo, whore media? Could we have some outrage here, please? A little monkey-screeching and feces-flinging and tossing of the T-word and the D-word would be in order, yes? Especially since Alan García is a lot closer to actually being a tyrant and/or dictator on his best day than Chavecito is on his worst. Don't you think?

(Muchas gracias to BoRev for the linky.)

November 23, 2008

We now have "free" trade with Colombia. How the hell did THAT happen?

From Aporrea, here's one for the scratch-yer-head-till-it-hurts files:

Even though Colombia is not a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum, its president, Alvaro Uribe, travelled to Peru to meet with a group of leaders from various parts of the world and to take advantage of the opportunity to establish contacts with China, Japan, Canada and others, with the objective of increasing trade.

Uribe arrived in Lima on Friday afternoon and a few hours later signed a free-trade agreement with Canada, his country's ninth. This Saturday, he signed an agreement to promote and protect investments with China.

According to Uribe, the agreement with Canada will generate some 120,000 agricultural jobs and 97% of Colombian exports will have free access to that North American nation.

Translation mine.

Fuck, shit, shuck fit.

How the hell did this happen? El Narco wasn't even invited, yet he got in AND wangled a free-trade agreement with my home and native land--most of whose citizens don't want free trade, let alone with a narco-terror state like the current, unhappy Colombia. (We get a lot of imports from there already--most of them refugees! In fact, before Harpo, Colombia was our #1 source of refugee claimants.)

Now, don't get me wrong. We don't want "free" trade with anyone, but we would love fair trade. I'm sure Colombia, the part of it that has no truck with Uribe, has something to offer us besides cheap bananas, flowers grown with dangerous chemicals, and former narcoterrorist paramilitaries looking to avoid getting killed by their ex-bosses (who, go figure, are mighty close to El Narco).

But here's the rub: We want to see Colombia get its house in order before we do business with it, because we don't believe doing business with it is enough to put said house in order. Why is it so hard for certain people to comprehend this? Why do they keep pushing for an agreement which would only deepen a current disaster?

"No" is the same word in English and Spanish, and spelled slightly differently, but pronounced the same, in French. So why can't our respective so-called leaders seem to hear it when we're all screaming it at the top of our respective lungs?

November 1, 2008

F.U. DEA, CIA, FBI...

El Ecuadorable, as usual, ain't mincin' no words...

The President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, assured on Saturday that his country will absolutely not lose anything with the departure of the US military from the anti-drug airbase at Manta.

In his weekly radio address, Correa said that of 81 recent murders in Manta, eight were common crimes, and the rest were fundamentally linked to narcotrafficking.

The Ecuadorian leader recently told the United States that he had decided not to renew their 1999 concession to use the fishing port of Manta to intercept drug-trafficking flights.

Washington announced that in response to the decision, it would withdraw its forces, but warned that its retreat from Ecuador would leave a hole in the fight against narcotrafficking.

"We will lose absolutely nothing when they leave the US base at Manta. Some have said that we'll have a resurgence of drug trafficking. These are farces that we've lived through," said Correa.

Correa questioned what was really going on at the US centre of operations at Manta: "They were controlling the rest of America, but in Manta there was more drug trafficking and more deaths and crimes related to drug trafficking than ever. What a paradox!" He insists that "in Manta, the city where there's a North American base to control narcotrafficking, there are more deaths, due to the War on Drugs."

Translation mine.

For those who think he's just theorizing wildly and doesn't know what the fuck he's on about, take a look at what Otto's dug up on the way the anti-drug war is progressing in Bolivia. Evo decided to take matters in his own hands and turf out the DEA, and now Bolivia is doing a better job of fighting cocaine production on its own than it did when the US was running the show!

Meanwhile, that nice, co-operative Colombia? The one that still plays ball with the Yanks? Producing and exporting more coke than ever. (More dead people, too.)

Yeah, figger THAT one out. And try not to break yer head.

October 22, 2008

Colombian police fire on indigenous people

Story from Radio Mundial, Venezuela:

Two indigenous were killed and five more injured on Tuesday in an incident at the beginning of a large march on a road in southern Colombia. The incident occurred at the beginning of a national day of protest against president Alvaro Uribe, who some weeks ago decreed a state of emergency due to a strike by judicial-sector workers.

The indigenous affirmed that the police shot them as the demonstrators tried to block the Pan-American Highway. The police denied responsibility, and claimed that the victims had been shot from within the indigenous march, and that they were attacked with gunpowder. Initially, the police said that the indigenous died when an explosive they were handling went off, but later it emerged that the dead had bullet wounds in the head and back. The indigenous leaders denied the authorities' version and assured that their members died in a confrontation with the police, who fired upon them.

After the incident, CNN showed a video taken by an indigenous activist, which showed the police allowing a person in a green uniform, with his face covered in a ski mask, to fire an M-16 rifle three times, apparently against the demonstrators.

Colonel Jorge Enrique Cartagena, of the Colombian federal police, confirmed that an M-16 rifle only fires lead ammunition, and assured that the incident would be investigated. But President Uribe called the denunciations a "fairytale" and claimed that the uniformed officers did not fire against demonstrators.

Translation mine.

Anyone who's read Forrest Hylton's dense, informative Evil Hour in Colombia knows better than to trust the Colombian authorities on this. El Narco's reign has been a trail of blood wherever he's been in office. Whether as mayor of Medellín, governor of Antioquia, or president of all the land, he's been an authoritarian murder-monger, and the violent-crime rates don't lie--contrary to the relentless media hype, he has not been good for Colombia at large. The murder rates have not decreased. The only thing that's changed is that there is more plausible deniability, probably because the evidence is being destroyed more thoroughly.

I don't dare hope that this incident will finally bring him down, because his support base is foreign business and the local landowning class, and since they're looking to grab up all the land they can, they are no friends of the indigenous themselves.

And neither, for that matter, are El Narco's handlers in Washington, who are giving the tacit nod to all this insanity.

October 15, 2008

Glass houses, Señor Rosales...

glass-houses.jpg

What's that saying about not throwing stones again? Looks like someone who's been doing it to Chavecito just broke more than a few of his own windows...

Parliamentarian Mario Isea, president of the National Assembly commission investigating the coup plots against president Hugo Chávez, presented evidence before the Assembly that Manuel Rosales evaded taxes to the tune of 19 million bolivares ($8.8 million US) following the Zulia lottery.

Translation mine.

This is rich, coming from someone who just days ago accused Chavecito of throwing Venezuela's money away...money that belongs to the people. What exactly has he done with the money of the people of Zulia?

Mario Isea suspects that the money is going to finance a coup against Chavecito; a good guess, since after all, Isea is investigating recent putschist events (including the confiscation of a grenade launcher that could bring down a plane.)

And anyone who's seen a map of Venezuela knows that Zulia borders on Colombia, home of the infamous paramilitaries that Alvaro Uribe is so cozy with, and so happy to supply to the Venezuelan opposition to carry out magnicidal plots against their democratically elected president. In fact, he's done so a number of times already.

We also know that Rosalito has been to Colombia at least once, and met with El Narco or members of his paraco government. What do you suppose they were discussing? And oh, wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall of THAT big, brittle glass house?

October 7, 2008

Colombia: Bestest democracy EVAR.

Aporrea reports, I translate...and after that, I shut up, because there simply are no words.

Jorge Iván Laverde Zapata, alias "El Iguano", ex-chief of the AUC paramilitaries, in the department of Norte de Santander, said that his men incinerated their victims in ovens specially constructed for the purpose.

The paramilitaries built the first oven in 2001, in Juan Frío, a rural parish of the Villa del Rosario municipality. They incinerated 28 bodies in it, according to the confession of the ex-commander of the so-called Fronteras de las AUC.

"El Iguano" admitted that the victims were incinerated in this location, some 800 km northeast of Bogotá, to avoid risks and eliminate evidence. In 2003, another oven was built in the same region to similar purposes, the ex-paramilitary chief revealed.

In both ovens, some 100 victims were incinerated, all accused of belonging to guerrilla groups, as well as being extortionists and rapists, said "El Iguano".

October 5, 2008

Colombia: "Democratic security" in action

Via Colombia's Caracol Radio website, a rare (for Caracol) moment of honesty about what Alvaro Uribe's paramilitary minions are really up to:

Paramilitary groups have reached a level of degradation so high that in some cases, they filmed the tortures and murders of victims they claim to be guerrilla collaborators.

Caracol Radio heas learned of a video that arrived a few days ago in the Inspector General's office, in which a member of the AUC is seen torturing a campesino, whose hands he severs with evident brutality.

The events apparently occured along a path in the municipality of Aguachica, Cesar. The paramilitary torturer can be seen maltreating his victim verbally in a constant manner, and the victim appears to have suffered a wound to his face.

Translation mine.

Here's the video in question (scroll to bottom of post). Warning: Not for the faint of heart.

September 29, 2008

Sarah Palin: Snubbed in Paraguay

Putin Rears His Head! Oh NOES!!!

So, the Lipstick Pig Woman got out her presidential kneepads for a certain Paraguayan ex-bishop. Only, sadly (or rather, happily--for him!), Fernando Lugo told her to keep 'em and her lipstick to herself:

Paraguay President Fernando Lugo, while attending both the United Nations General Assembly meetings and the Clinton Global Initiative, shared with friends over dinner some of the other meetings he had been having in New York.

He met this head of state. . .and that head of state. . .and so on. . .

. . .but then the room went silent and then broke into subdued laughter when he confided that he was approached about meeting with GOP Vice Presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

President Lugo turned the meeting down.

Ha, ha...suck on THAT, Paliness. You may be able to suck up to Dubya's coke dealer Numero Uno for some ersatz foreign policy experience, but that's about it. The rest of Latin America has no desire to be trotted out to showcase your nonexistent talent and experience.

August 28, 2008

Finally, Juan Forero commits something akin to journalism...

...with a lengthy piece on the parapolitical murders in Colombia.

Too bad I beat him to the punch. More than once, I might add.

And even worse, he still doesn't connect all this to Alvaro Uribe, let alone Washington. The most he'll say is that the paras were "often working closely with army units". Under whose command, Juan? Spit it out. Oh come on, spit it...

Oh, fuck it. He says it's the Colombian government exhuming the bodies. I guess that somehow makes them heroes now. As if all the language about the Uribe administration being "feted from Washington to Paris for its recent success against Marxist guerrillas" weren't enough to give Forero's true sympathies away.

Possums, don't hold your breath waiting for Juan to connect any dots here. You might end up dead for real.

Meanwhile, Hugh Bronstein of Reuters gets a little closer to it, but he too shrinks away from naming Uribe's real, much deeper connections to the drug/parapolitics scandal. At most, all he'll mention is Uribe's creepy-ass cousin. He has yet to peruse Virginia Vallejo's book, I see.

Oh, and Bronstein sticks in a "Bogota-based analyst" taking dig at Venezuela there, too, claiming it has "problems with drug-trafficking and kidnapping". Damn right it does--it sits right next to Colombia. And since the border's not sealed and Chavecito would only take flak from Washington if he tried to control it, well...I think you can connect the dots, yes?

August 11, 2008

Letters from the Evil Dead

Strange things dead paramilitaries write...and stranger things they reveal. From Aporrea, a little note that will make you believe that there IS life after death, especially for crime and scandal in Colombia:

The ex-colonel of Colombian police, Danilo Gonzalez, who was assassinated in 2004, ordered the murder of former presidential candidaate Alvaro Gomez Hurtado, and the kidnapping of Venezuelan businessman Richard Boulton.

This, according to a letter from the late paramilitary chief Carlos Castaño, which was revealed today.

The letter from Castaño, also killed four years ago, and published by the weekly magazine Semana, also accuses Colonel Gonzalez of planning the kidnap of architect Juan Carlos Gaviria, brother of the former Colombian president and ex-secretary of the Organization of American States, Cesar Gaviria.

Continue reading "Letters from the Evil Dead" »

August 5, 2008

El Narco's gonna want him dead

Hebert Veloza, alias HH, in the hands of Colombian federal police

Hebert Veloza, formerly known as "HH", in the hands of the Colombian authorities.

From Aporrea, a shocking revelation by a Colombian paramilitary leader, one that will surely put "El Doptor Varito" in an awkward position (as if he could get any more pretzel-like):

Ex-paramilitary chief Hebert Veloza, alias "HH", admitted that he and his men committed more than 3000 killings between 1994 and 2003. Veloza confirmed in an interview given to the daily El Espectador that there were ties between certain politicians, members of the Colombian military, and police with the AUC paramilitaries. He also said that with his extradition to the US, "the victims will go on not knowing the truth."

The man formerly known as "HH" recognized that in the massacres his organization committed, "more innocent than guilty people died, but that's war."

Continue reading "El Narco's gonna want him dead" »

July 14, 2008

Chavecito, humbled? Ha, ha, ha!

Not according to Iran's PressTV, he ain't...

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has called the Colombian Defense Minister 'a warmonger', urging President Alvaro Uribe to dismiss him.

Two days after the two leaders met and agreed on improving their diplomatic relations, Chavez criticized Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, saying that his remarks were 'shooting up' the process of progress made in mending Venezuelan-Colombian relations.

Chavez says if Santos was his defense minister, "I would have dismissed him by now'', AP reported.

Santos a warmonger? No shit. I have him on record as blaming the Mexican students who were killed in the FARC camp, on Santos's orders. I also have an interesting e-mail he got from a go-between ferrying State Dept. orders from the gringos to Bogota, which I daresay is mighty incriminating.

As usual, Chavecito is bang-on. And he looks so sweet telling the terrible truth here, at the bottom of the page. That man can smile while saying the darndest things!

July 13, 2008

Correa to Colombia: No diplomatic relations for you!

Soup Nazi

(Sacrilege! Of course this guy is nowhere near as cute as El Ecuadorable, and certainly nowhere near as nice. But he fits in with the general theme, so chill.)

Is Rafecito playing Soup Nazi now, or is there more to this than initially meets the eye? A little something from Aporrea, translated by Your Humble And Obedient:

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, ratified on Saturday that he would not re-establish relations with Colombia, as long as "there is no decent government to work with."

Continue reading "Correa to Colombia: No diplomatic relations for you!" »

July 12, 2008

Clara Rojas criticizes Ingrid Betancourt

Clara Rojas, who was freed along with Consuelo Gonzalez by the FARC guerrillas on January 10 following negotiations brokered by Chavecito and Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba, has been viciously slandered by her fellow ex-captive Ingrid Betancourt, and feels compelled to set the record straight:

Clara Rojas would not vote for former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt if the presidential elections in Colombia were to take place today, according to an interview given yesterday to the RCN channel.

"As they say over there, if the elections were held today, I would not vote for Ingrid," said Rojas, without ruling out that in future she might change her mind.

Continue reading "Clara Rojas criticizes Ingrid Betancourt" »

More folly and frivolity at WW4R, Reuters

Okay. Now we know who's NOT in the know about current events in South America:

"Venezuela and Colombia today open a new epoch in our relations," Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez told reporters after a meeting with his Colombian counterpart Álvaro Uribe in Caracas July 11. "I want to make clear that the intention exists to relaunch and fortify relations between Venezuela and Colombia, because these brother nations are destined to be united." (ABN, July 11) Construction of a rail link through Colombia giving Venezuela access to the Pacific is said to have been discussed in the meeting. Uribe told a recent Colombian cabinet meeting, "President Chávez has offered to make this railway. We are ready to it." (El Tiempo, July 12)

Uh, weren't these guys on the brink of war a few weeks ago?

Uh, no. Those tanks were sent to the border to keep Colombia's civil war from spilling over the brink, like it did in Ecuador. It wasn't a war footing, it was plain old self-defence. Catch a clue, dude, and quit doing the dog.

Continue reading "More folly and frivolity at WW4R, Reuters" »

July 11, 2008

Bring Chavecito back, says Colombian ex-hostage

What did I say earlier on about Chavecito being instrumental in the Colombian hostage negotiations? Looks like at least one former hostage is anxious to see the man who helped free him be brought back on board:

Colombian politician Luis Eladio Perez, liberated in February by the FARC guerrillas, asked of Colombian president Alvaro Uribe that he consider the possibility of re-establishing the mediation of his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, according to an interview published this Friday.

"I call publicly on Uribe that he reconsider the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, as mediator," announced the ex-congressman, who spent nearly seven years in the hands of the FARC, in an interview published by the daily newspaper El Espectador.

Continue reading "Bring Chavecito back, says Colombian ex-hostage" »

July 9, 2008

Finally, Ingrid Betancourt rebukes Uribe

Took her awhile, and some of us were wondering what the fuck was up when she praised his highly dubious "rescue mission" (which some of us suspect was either a ransom or, I believe, an attempt at bribery.) But she has finally taken him to task, albeit a bit too mildly, and the Beeb has her on audio. Go listen.

July 4, 2008

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito's glad!

And why not? Ingrid Betancourt is finally free, albeit under very sniffy circumstances. But since the objective of all his work was peace in Colombia and a release of all hostages, not scoring political points, and since she's safe, he can still say MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. After all, it was his success in freeing others, such as Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez, that helped spark this happy reunion between Ingrid and her family. And it was his words to the FARC that sparked this major release, as subsequent news will show (and I'll blog it if the lamestream media goes on failing to report!)

July 1, 2008

A stupid note on Canada Day

And who struck it, albeit inadvertently? The CBC. They interviewed a group of new immigrants (there's a special citizenship ceremony for some of them on Canada Day), and who did they interview? Some twit from Venezuela who claims he came here because of "political instability" back home.

Talk about desecrating the day. Can we please leave the political bullshit out of it and just interview someone who came from a REALLY unstable place next time, CBC? Like, oh, I dunno, COLOMBIA?

June 27, 2008

El Ecuadorable gets armed

Rambo parachuting into Colombia

Looks like the Colombia problem is heating up on more fronts than one. Here's what's going on in Correa-land:

Colombian rebels in northern Ecuador are an old problem that previous governments failed to confront, Ecuador's defense minister told The Associated Press, announcing additions to a growing arsenal aimed at securing the Andean nation's borders.

Defense Minister Javier Ponce said in an interview that the government is buying six Israeli-made unmanned aerial vehicles and new radar so it can get a better handle on its borders, especially the troubled frontier with Colombia.

The acquisitions are in addition to 24 Super Tucano warplanes announced in May.

He said he does not consider Colombia a national security threat, though the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that dominates the northern border zone — and the illegal drug trade that fuels its insurgency — are a danger.

"We are not able to impede the establishment of guerrilla camps or drug labs, but to the degree that we have been dismantling a series of labs and camps we are establishing a certain capacity to prevent this from getting out of control," Ponce told the AP on Tuesday evening.

Incidentally, Colombia and Ecuador are still not talking to each other over the illegal bombing of a FARC camp on Ecuadorian turf this past March 1. But hey, at least Manta will soon be a thing of the past, at least as far as gringo incursion forces go.

And here's a cool factoid: Minister Ponce is also a poet! A few satirical verses excoriating El Narco would therefore be in order, yes?

Why is Washington not alarmed at this?

Oh, surely not because it's only El Narco and not Chavecito calling for this rather unusual measure...

Colombia's president on Thursday called for a referendum to decide if new presidential elections should be held in the wake of a court decision that is questioning the legitimacy of his 2006 re-election.

President Alvaro Uribe said he will ask the country's congress to approve the referendum.

Uribe's demand came after the Supreme Court called Thursday for the re-evaluation of the congressional act that changed the constitution to allow Uribe to run for a second term. The Supreme Court questioned the act after a former representative was found guilty of having changed her vote in 2004 to support the president's bid for re-election.

Yidis Medina, who was sentenced to 47 months, claimed senior members of the government offered her supporters jobs in exchange for her key vote. Uribe's administration has denied the charges.

But of course, he IS looking to change the constitution and run. Even his own defence minister, the most likely successor, is being blocked by El Narco, who wants to hang onto power, it seems, for life.

The ghost of Pablo Escobar must be rolling around the bowels of hell, laughing his ass off.

June 18, 2008

Poor Alvaro...

Nothing's going right for the president of Colombia, it seems. First he's flopping miserably in his efforts to wipe out the FARC (who are much more likely to listen to his arch-rival Chavecito than they are to give a rat's ass what he says). Now he's flopping miserably on another front as well:

Colombian peasants devoted 27 percent more land to growing coca last year, the United Nations reported Wednesday, calling the increase "a surprise and a shock" given intense efforts to eradicate cocaine's raw ingredient.

Estimated cocaine production, however, increased only slightly in Colombia and other Andean nations — to about 994 metric tons in 2007 from 984 metric tons the year before, according to the U.N. — as cultivation shifted to smaller, less-productive plots in more remote locations.

The net increase in coca farmland came despite "record" U.S.-backed eradication efforts that disrupted the growing cycle, said Gen. Oscar Naranjo, the chief of Colombia's police.

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Alvaro, really! All that Yanqui dinero and all that help from the Empire, and now this?

Methinks you need an impeachment, not another term.

June 16, 2008

Now Correa's at it, too

From Aporrea, another jaw-dropper:

Rafael Correa added his voice to that of Hugo Chavez and called on the FARC to lay down their arms.

"What future is there for guerrillas combatting a democratic government, who have no popular support in the 21st century?" asked the Ecuadorian president.

Continue reading "Now Correa's at it, too" »

June 15, 2008

Forrest Hylton on the "surprising" FARC remarks of Chavez

Pepe Escobar interviews the Latin America expert and author:

He's bang-on about everything except one point: He insists Venezuela has become a "transshipment point" for Colombian cocaine since Chavez stopped collaborating with the DEA. Actually, Venezuela became such a point long before Chavez was elected--it goes back as far as the drug wars of the 1980s, whereas Chavez was elected in '99. Venezuelan seizures of drug shipments are way up since Chavez booted the DEA, and one can only conclude that the DEA was actually complicit with Colombia and its right-wing paramilitaries in menacing Venezuela.

Which means Chavez was really onto something when he said that the FARC (who have used cocaine trafficking as a source of income) have become a convenient excuse for Washington to crank up the war machine. Take away one more excuse, and that cranking becomes a lot harder to do.

June 14, 2008

Ecuador NOT joining ALBA, for now

Dang. Rafecito the Ecuadorable just broke my heart!

Ecuador announced on Friday that it would not be joining the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), which its ally, Venezuela, is promoting, but indicated that it would accompany this mechanism and would contribute to other processes of integration such as the Organization of Latin American States.

Translation mine. There's more, but I'm being lazy.

So Ecuador's not in the ALBA yet, but apparently in agreement with the basic idea, and will be following along if not outright joining. Figure that one out, my head hurts.

Yeah, I'm kinda sad. But not as sad as I would be if this Colombian plot against Fine-ass Dude had succeeded.

June 11, 2008

Justin Delacour kicks the Dissociated Press's ass

'Bout time someone did! And who better than a Latin America scholar, who knows how important it is to work with all the facts, the accurate facts, and not just whatever bullshit is convenient to the State Dept., Big Bidness, Big Oil, etc.?

Unfortunately, the AP's bad reporting isn't limited to its Caracas bureau; I've seen it hit Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador with the Stoopid Stick, too. Surely that's not a coincidence, since all three of them are friendly with Chavecito's Venezuela. Why they haven't also beaten up on Chile, Brazil and Argentina, I don't know; all three of their leaders have lent support to Chavecito, too, though they're a bit shy about signing on to the ALBA. (Hmmm, maybe that last is why--it gives the Usual Suspects the false impression that they might still be amenable to neoliberalism, like Colombia and Peru, but have only been playing coy so far.)

I'd write a letter too, and maybe someday I will, but right now I'll just stick to grousing on this blog. And to the AP, I'll let Johnny Cash's finger do the talking:

Johnny Cash lets us know how he really feels

June 9, 2008

And another one's gone, and another one's gone...

Another one bites the dust! Damn, how many more myths does Chavecito plan on busting this week?

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, directed a message to the new chief of the FARC, Alfonso Cano, on Sunday, in which he called for the unconditional liberation of all the group's hostages. Then he assured that in Latin America, "the age of guerrilla wars is history."

"It's time for the FARC to release everyone they're holding in the mountains," Chavez demanded of Cano, adding at the same time that "it would be a great gesture, a change from nothing."

According to the president, the situation in which Latin America and the United States now find themselves "appears to be creating favorable conditions for a peace process in Colombia", for which the release of all hostages "would be the first step" toward success.

Continue reading "And another one's gone, and another one's gone..." »

June 7, 2008

Well, well, well. What have we here?

This is too juicy to pass up. Aporrea.org, the Venezuelan news/opinion site I enjoy most, has uncovered some skulduggery published at an opposition forum called Noticiero Digital. It's an e-mail from Alfredo Rangel, the director of the "Security and Democracy Foundation" in Colombia. According to Aporrea, "this organism is a facade for the intelligence community of the US in that country." The e-mail is to Juan Manuel Santos, the defence minister of Colombia.

Full text follows, translated by Your Humble One:

Continue reading "Well, well, well. What have we here?" »

June 5, 2008

Oh gawd, now the GERMAN media is in on it too...

Someone please tell the Burschen at Der Spiegel that their story was kaputt long before it came out. They're recycling a piece of pure horseshit under the laughable title of "The Colombian Connection: How Hugo Chavez Courted FARC":

They called him "Angel." He was the highest-ranking outside contact for the Colombian guerilla organization FARC. More and more details are now emerging that demonstrate the close relationship between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the jungle terrorists.

He already had a photo of himself posing with Vietnamese general and revolutionary hero Vo Nguyen Giap, and he also planned to suggest to Cuban leader Fidel Castro that he don his combat uniform once again for a joint photo, "Angel" told FARC commander Ivan Marquez. All that was missing in his collection, he said, was a photo with "J.E."

"Angel" was FARC's code name for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and "J.E." was Manuel Marulanda, a.k.a. "Tirofijo" ("Sure Shot"), the legendary leader of Latin America's oldest guerilla organization.

What a shame. Such a provocative lede, and already we know it's all wrong. How? Oh, here. Let Greg Palast school you on how not to read shit into an e-mail:

Continue reading "Oh gawd, now the GERMAN media is in on it too..." »

Venezuela tells Human Rights Watch to...

...well, I was gonna say "go fuck a dog", but they've already done that. Here's what was actually said:

President Chavez has repeatedly denied that Venezuela provided any kind of material support to the FARC and that the only contacts his government has had with the FARC was to facilitate the release of hostages held by the FARC. In early 2008 Chavez managed to convince the FARC to release six out of 45 of its high profile hostages.

Two weeks ago, Interior Minister Rodriguez Chacín said he had met personally with FARC leaders during the negotiations of hostage releases which Colombia invited Venezuela to help mediate last August. Rodriguez Chacín assured that the "only contacts" President Chávez had with the FARC were at the request of the Colombian government for the sake of the peace process.

There. So, what's this about a need to "clarify" something? It's been clear for, oh, like FOREVER.

On the other hand, it looks to me like HRW has some clearing-up of its own to do:

Continue reading "Venezuela tells Human Rights Watch to..." »

June 4, 2008

It's now official...

Human Rights Watch has totally screwed the pooch where Venezuela is concerned.

I know, they're supposed to be a serious human-rights organization, but it's kind of hard to take seriously an organization that gets used so often to promote the State Dept.'s war plans over actual human rights (such as the fundamental right not to be killed by Washington's allies, for example). And every so often, they betray their true nature with hysterical press releases that might as well have been written by Andres Oppenheimer or Simon Romero. They'd be great comic fodder, if only people learned to take them the right way--namely, with a truckload of salt on top and a whoopie cushion underneath.

The part of this particular one that makes me laugh loudest is this nifty juxtaposition right here:

Continue reading "It's now official..." »

May 28, 2008

FARCing hell!

I mean really. What else is there to say to this?

Laptop computers have become treasure troves of evidence for Colombian investigators probing crimes committed by far-right militias and leftist rebels.

So many Colombians were dismayed to learn that prison authorities didn't immediately secure laptops and cell phones belonging to most of the 14 paramilitary warlords who were yanked from cells on May 12 and extradited to the United States to stand trial for drug trafficking.

The mishandled evidence has become a national scandal, and the prisons director only made matters worse when he told Colombia's leading newspaper that he had no way of preventing the warlords from continuing to lead criminal networks from their cells.

Oh, I know. I know! How about bombing the fuck out of paramilitary encampments on the Venezuelan side of the border, where Manuel Rosales (the imperial stooge with whom Chavecito mopped the floor in the last presidential election) is said to be harboring them? Then, I'm sure, we can put to rest once and for all the question of whether there is actually such a thing as a bomb-proof laptop (which the whore media won't ask).

And of course, we could also clean up a LOT of right-wing paramilitary narcoterrorist scum that way.

Oh, I know. I KNOW. It's a modest proposal, but it will never happen. And we all know why.

May 27, 2008

Let's hear the anti-Chavez screamers explain this

From Aporrea, a little tidbit but a revealing one:

Against the editorial lines from Colombia and Venezuela that claim there is a "close" relationship between the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez Frias, Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba, and the FARC rebels of Colombia, Cordoba confirmed that neither she, nor the Venezuelan leader had known of the death of the historic leader of the FARC, Manuel Marulanda Velez.

"My attention has often been drawn to how they say here that we (Cordoba and Chavez) are the mouthpieces of the FARC, but neither Chavez nor I knew that Marulanda had died...until the last, he did things his own way, he died a natural death," the senator said.

Translation mine.

Did you get that? Neither Cordoba nor Chavez knew that Marulanda had died until after the fact. They had to read about it in the morning papers, same as everybody else. Some "close relations"! I would think that if Chavez had known Marulanda wasn't well, and he really was that close to him, he would have had him flown to Cuba for treatment, no?

This should lay to rest all the media drivel about Chavez financing and arming the FARC, too. Until someone (and not someone pointing to the Magic Laptop, either) can locate the whereabouts of a big chunk of money that disappeared from Venezuela and appeared in Colombia (a large arms cache, ditto), I think it's safe to say that this latest media campaign against the left, like ol' "Sure-Shot" Marulanda himself, has begun to push up the proverbial daisies.

May it rest in peace.

May 23, 2008

The Blair Witch Laptop

Never-before-seen footage from the actual finding of Raul Reyes' computer! Indisputable evidence linking Chavecito to the FARC! Exclusive to Globoterror, the 24-hour crapaganda channel! Absolutely (and I do mean absolutely) unedited!

May 21, 2008

Headline Howler: How do you make a tension swirl?

It defies the laws of physics, if I'm not mistaken. But shhhh, don't tell that to the AP:

Venezuela on Saturday accused 60 Colombian soldiers of illegally entering its territory, as tensions over Venezuela's alleged effort to aid Colombian guerrillas swirl.

Well, at least they got the "alleged" part right. It's an allegation, it's only an allegation, and in the end, an allegation is all it will ever turn out to be. But I'm still trying to visualize a tension swirling, and all I get is a headache. Definitely a bad trip. This is much easier:

Visualize whirled peas, it's easier

Could we do that, please?

Oh crap, you mean he DIDN'T finance you?

Well, there goes another piece of Chavecito libel. And who better to blow it all to shit than "a battle-hardened, one-eyed female commander" of the FARC?

Nelly Avila Moreno, better known as "Karina," denied her bloody reputation during a news conference. She said she surrendered because she was encircled, had a bounty on her head and was spooked by the recent murder of a fellow rebel leader by one of his bodyguards.

[...]

In response to a reporter's question, Avila said she had no knowledge of Chavez arming or funding the FARC.

Asked what the Venezuelan president means to the rebels, she simply said: "We admire Chavez for the way he is."

I guess that explains his success as a hostage negotiator, too. Go figure! No $250 million (or $300 mil, depending who you ask. The crapaganda whores are still unable to keep this one straight.) No guns. No nothing.

Why, the next thing you know, the Three Magic Laptops From Outer Space will be conclusively proven fraudulent, too. Fire up the corn popper, this latest mediatic war on Venezuela should be fun to watch as it falls apart.

PS: It gets better. In Aporrea's version, in Spanish, "Karina" also denies that the FARC had anything to do with Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador. That was another bogus accusation that's been floating around out there, and now it's busted, too.

May 20, 2008

One Colombian who isn't drinking the Kool-Aid

Aporrea reports:

Opposition senator Gustavo Petro called for an investigation today into the 48,055 archives of FARC "#2" man Raul Reyes, killed on March 1 in a military incursion into an illegal guerrilla encampment in Ecuador.

Petro, a member of the leftist Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA) party, declared that he had proof that the archives alleged to be from Reyes' computer were "opened, created and modified by the police between March 1 and 3."

The legislator said that this alteration of computer archives had been established by Interpol.

Continue reading "One Colombian who isn't drinking the Kool-Aid" »

May 19, 2008

Simon Romero besmirches himself again

One thing about that Old Grey Lady...she's one helluva madam. Yes, folks, the NY Times is pimping for Alvaro Uribe again. And look: there's one of her working girls now, out on the corner...

Tension between Colombia and Venezuela increased Sunday after Colombia's defense minister rejected an accusation by Venezuela's government that 60 Colombian troops had illegally entered a border region of Venezuela known to be a redoubt for Colombian guerrilla groups.

Yes, folks, that's the incomparable Simon Romero again, parading around in his miniskirt and high heels. Give that man a hand for his prowess at handjobbery!

Now, pay close attention, kiddies. Auntie Bina, a true lady despite her natural red hair and her plebeian origins, is about to teach you something about the difference between journalistic credibility and mere prostitution.

Continue reading "Simon Romero besmirches himself again" »

May 18, 2008

Headline Howler: Since when is El Narco a Venezuelan?

Check out this story: "Rival demands Chavez clarify rebel links".

Then check out the photo they stuck on it:

El Narco, Uribe--a Venezuelan since when?

The story is about pathetic, mush-mouthed Manuel Rosales, the guy who got maybe a third of the vote in the last Venezuelan election despite heavy financial support and cheerleading from Gringolandia. But as you can see, that ain't him. That's another US puppet altogether.

Still, it's not an honest mistake, but a definite Freudian slip. Aporrea reports that Rosales is awfully chummy with El Narco. According to journalist Jose Vicente Rangel, formerly Chavecito's VP, Rosales recently attended the Festival de Vallenato in the paramilitary-controlled region of Valledupar, Colombia, and was seen leaving with El Narco.

What do you suppose they were up to? Just kinky sex, or something much more nefarious?

BTW, very nice of the AP not to report what's really going on in the Venezuelan opposition. They are in fact leaderless and very much at sea. They don't even need Chavecito to make them loco; they just are.

May 17, 2008

And this is why I call him El Narco

Colombian journalist and former TV anchorwoman Virginia Vallejo, now living in Miami, has written an explosive tell-all book about her lengthy affair with drug lord Pablo Escobar, titled Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar. Here, in an interview with a Brazilian TV reporter, she reveals Escobar's corrupting connections with a man you may recognize today. He used to be the mayor of Medellin, the cocaine capital of Colombia and the murder capital of the world. Later, he was the governor of the state of Antioquia. Today, Alvaro Uribe is the president of the land.

Video in Spanish and Portuguese.

Escobar's thugs murdered at least three presidential candidates who refused to take his drug money, including the liberal, Luis Carlos Galan. His saying was "Plata o plomo"--silver or lead. Bucks or bullets--those were your choices if you crossed paths with him. If you didn't take his money and do him favors, you were a dead man. He later crossed over into outright terrorism--exchanging bullets for bombs. Virginia Vallejo, fearing for her life, broke off all relations with Escobar and fled to Miami, where she sought and received federal protection.

And Alvaro Uribe, who is the US's "ally" in the "War on Drugs" today, was far from being the enemy of this feared and powerful drug lord. On the contrary, they were very buddy-buddy--to the point where Escobar lent him a helicopter after the death of his father (at the hands of the FARC, his pet hate today--whom Uribe, ironically, accuses of being "narco-terrorists", with nary a peep about his own considerable past in narco-terrorism.) Uribe, in his gubernatorial capacity of okaying aviation licences in his state, handed them out like Halloween candy to Escobar's lackeys. Guess what use they were put to. And all this while the crack-cocaine epidemic in the US raged at its height, and the War on Drugs made no progress. Gee, is it any wonder?

And Escobar's thugs were not the only ones who enjoyed impunity under Uribe. The right-wing paramilitaries, whom the drug lords and large landowners alike employed to terrorize whole communities and suppress the left, also benefited from Uribe's official string-pulling and lever-pushing.

Isn't Uribe a fine one to call the FARC "narco-terrorists", when some of his closest friends and allies...would fit that description even better?

May 16, 2008

A few random thoughts about laptops, Interpol and Colombia

Pulling a red rabbit out of Raul Reyes' alleged computer

(Translation: "Uribe attempts to deflect attention from himself by attacking Chavez...'And we pulled this red rabbit out of the computer. Chavez sent it to the FARC!' As Anibal Nazoa said, 'In Plan Colombia, you can see from a mile away that the gringos think we're all fools!'" Meanwhile, the computer's mouse wisely decides to skedaddle.)

There's been a lot of fuss in the media lately about some computers which allegedly survived a bombing raid on March 1 in Ecuador. Here is a random sampling of what's been running through my head concerning the kerfuffle:

Continue reading "A few random thoughts about laptops, Interpol and Colombia" »

April 22, 2008

Has Rafael Correa been reading my blog?

The reason I bring this up is because he says exactly what I've been thinking about Alvaro Uribe myself:

"Just when relations improve with him, something strange happens and you get stabbed in the back. Something in his head's not working right."

"That's Álvaro Uribe Vélez. Something's wrong. His behavior is terribly psychotic."

"Uribe doesn't want peace, nor does he want hostages released, because Betancourt is a potential presidential candidate."

(h/t Machetera for translating this lengthy, very enlightening interview. Linkage added to quote to illustrate.)

April 17, 2008

Calderon to Uribe: Don't be dissin', don't be hatin'

While all the whore media are all busy screaming about Chavecito's diplomatic and democratic deficits, they're suspiciously silent about the much larger ones of a certain Colombian parapresident. Fortunately, kiddies, you've got me...and I've got Aporrea:

Mexican president Felipe Calderon rejected the statements of his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe, to the effect that the Mexican students who died and were injured in the bombing of Raul Reyes' encampment, were accomplices of the FARC.

"It seems to me that the prudent thing to do is not to label or prejudge in one way or another the characteristics or the activities of these young people," Calderon said, according to the website of El Universal.

The Mexican leader said that "we all have our own hypotheses, but the suffering of the parents and the memory of their children deserve the benefit of the doubt until these investigations are completed."

Translation mine. Link added.

That giant slapping sound you just heard was pimp Calderon letting psycho bitch Uribe know where things really stand.

Nicaragua offers refuge to Lucia Morett

This just in from Telesur (via Aporrea):

The Government of Nicaragua offered protection to the Mexican, Lucia Morett, who survived the massacre that Colombia perpetrated March 1, in Ecuadorian territory.

This was announced by the Latin American Association for Human Rights (ALDHU), which informed that Morett, who received treatment for injuries sustained during the bombing in a military hospital in Quito, left for Managua on Wednesday. She was received there by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega.

"The Government of Nicaragua has offered protection and aid to this victim of the massacre of March 1, in addition to that offered by Ecuador. Lucia Morett will arrive in Mexico next week," said ALDHU secretary-general Juan de Dios Parra, of Chile.

Parra added that Morett, who was the only Mexican survivor of the attack, travelled to the Nicaraguan capital in the company of her parents and functionaries of ALDHU, a non-governmental organization with headquarters in Quito.

In the military incursion, which Quito maintains ruptured diplomatic relations with Colombia, four Mexican university students were killed, along with FARC guerrilla chief Raul Reyes and an Ecuadorian citizen.

Translation mine.

Kudos to Daniel Ortega. Typically, you can count on a Sandinista to do the decent thing.

April 16, 2008

They were accomplices, so they had it coming

Yep, Alvaro Uribe really IS a lawless, psychopathic little thug. Get a load of his latest bons mots:

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said Wednesday that he doesn't regret ordering a cross-border raid on a rebel camp in Ecuador, despite the death of four Mexican students there.

Uribe told Mexico's Televisa network that the students were seen in a video with the guerrillas, indicating they were in league with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

"They were not doing humanitarian work. They were not hostages. So why were they there?" Uribe said. "They were there as accomplices of this activity. They were there as agents of terrorism."

Continue reading "They were accomplices, so they had it coming" »

April 8, 2008

Well. That didn't take long.

Seems like only yesterday they were announcing that France was getting involved in getting Ingrid Betancourt back from the FARC. (All right, it was the day before yesterday. But still.)

And now, all of a sudden, France is out again.

Well, at least we know Ingrid is not in imminent danger of dying. But she's still a prisoner, and still probably despondent as hell--especially if she knows about this latest turn of events.

Too bad El Narco has been sabotaging Chavecito's efforts and killing Raul Reyes, or maybe Ingrid would be free now instead.

C'est la merde, non?

March 31, 2008

Who needs the stinkin' DEA?

Not Venezuela, apparently. They kicked 'em out a while back, and now we're seeing a number of dramatic results. Like, oh, say, this:

Combat helicopters and F-16 fighter jets opened fire at a clandestine airstrip in Venezuela's remote southern plains on Friday as part of a government counter-drug effort.

Smoke rose from the bombed airstrip as helicopters hovered above the savannah.

Army Gen. Jesus Gonzalez told state television that so far this year, the military has demolished 67 airstrips used by drug traffickers to smuggle cocaine from neighboring Colombia to the United States and Europe. Another 90 are to be destroyed next week.

"We are carrying out this operation to reaffirm the conviction and commitment of our military in the fight against the drug problem," Gonzalez said.

Would it be tasteless to point out that Venezuela has been seizing record amounts of cocaine since it booted out the DEA? And that Colombia, despite being on good terms with the DEA (and receiving mucho dinero), is just not holding up its end of the anti-drug effort?

Well, shoot, that's nothing. Ever wonder what role the DEA plays, not in fighting drug trafficking, but promoting it? They've a ways to go before they catch up with the CIA, which has been at it for as long as it's been...well, the CIA--but trust me, they're in like Flynn in Colombia.

Thank Chavecito, they're out of Venezuela.

March 28, 2008

Look who blinked...

Well, here's one in the eye for El Narcopresidente Uribe. Looks like what Chavecito and the FARC have both been insisting on all along, may just finally come true after all!

Colombia has offered to suspend the sentences of jailed guerrillas if rebels first free hostages including former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.

Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo said late Thursday that the liberation of some captives could jump-start the process of exchanging guerrillas for dozens of hostages, including three U.S. defense contractors.

"It is enough that Ingrid Betancourt be immediately freed for us to consider this humanitarian exchange is moving forward, and to begin delivering the benefits of suspended sentences to (jailed) members of the guerrilla group," Restrepo told reporters.

In return for the hostages' release, rebels would have to promise not to return to the ranks of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which has been fighting for decades to topple the government.

Continue reading "Look who blinked..." »

March 15, 2008

They were no angels, so we killed them

Can you believe this bit of breathtaking logic?

The Colombian defence minister, Juan Manuel Santos, justified at a press conference on Friday the killings of four Mexican students during the attack by Colombia on Ecuadorian territory.

The minister assured that these young people "were no little angels", and attempted to link them to the FARC guerrillas in order to defend the murders.

Continue reading "They were no angels, so we killed them" »

Uribe's thugs are on the Internets

And they've committed two hacks. One on the website of a certain Ecuadorable president:

The official website of the Presidency of Ecuador (www.presidencia.gov.ec) was blocked today for the second time by a hacker who left it out of service.

The info-pirate left a message, "Don't mess with Colombia", and blocked all access to infromation on the portal, which remained disabled for several hours until, around 2 p.m. local time (7 p.m. GMT), it came back online but with error messages.

Continue reading "Uribe's thugs are on the Internets" »

Correa to Bush: Porque no te jodas?

Okay, so he didn't quite put it THAT graphically. But the fuck-you-very-much was pretty unambiguous just the same:

My translation follows:

Continue reading "Correa to Bush: Porque no te jodas?" »

March 5, 2008

Colombia: Even deeper in it than originally thought

And if you have to ask what "it" is, here's a hint: It's brown, it steams, it smells bad, and you don't want it all over the bottom of your shoe. Unfortunately, that's exactly where Alvaro Uribe is wearing it right now, in light of the following:

One of the three female FARC guerrillas wounded in the Colombian military operation in Ecuadorian territory last Saturday said today that there had been two bombings against the clandestine encampment in the border region of Angostura.

Continue reading "Colombia: Even deeper in it than originally thought" »

March 4, 2008

Dueling Crapaganda

Chavecito vs. Alvaro the Arrogant...the Cage Match. At least, that's how the Crapagandisti of the Lamestream Media are playing the latest Venezuela/Colombia dispute (over Ecuador, no less).

Just for shits 'n' giggles, here are some of their contradictory headlines, as grouped by subject matter:

Continue reading "Dueling Crapaganda" »

So this is what John Perkins warned Rafael Correa about...

In yer country, stealin yer oils!!!

...and of course, it would have to be Colombia, deciding to repeat not-so-ancient history and once more, conduct a raid on foreign soil without having the common decency to identify that soil's government about its intentions ahead of time.

Continue reading "So this is what John Perkins warned Rafael Correa about..." »

February 5, 2008

And in other neo-Nazi nutbag news...

Looks like Alvaro Uribe has some unsavory company.

Although it's undeniable that most of those who marched this past Monday in Bogota and other Colombian cities were ordinary people demonstrating their indignation or rejection of the FARC, groups of skinheads or neo-Nazis also took advantage of the day to march against the irregular army, as you can see in this video of the march, taken by the daily El Tiempo de Colombia newspaper and available on their YouTube channel.

The far-right youths shouted slogans against communism, the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, and the FARC.

"No to communism! No more Chavez, no more FARC" can be heard in the YouTube video. So can shouts of "Uribe, friend, we're with you till the end", this in spite of the fact that the demonstration was supposedly convened by independent youth, without political banners, via the Internet.

Translation mine. Here's the video:

The Nazis appear at about the 2:20 mark.

Hey Alvaro, is the enemy of your "enemy" your friend? Better find some other friends, then.

And hey! So much for the common complaint from the Venezuelan right that Chavez's supporters are Nazis. Turns out, the Nazis hate him, in both Colombia AND Venezuela--they all think he's a commie. Go figure!

February 3, 2008

More FARC hostages to be released

Score another point for evil Chavecito...

Colombia's Farc rebels have said they will release three hostages captured over six years ago, for health reasons.

The Farc told local media that it would free the hostages in return for mediation efforts made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The group released two high profile hostages earlier in January in a deal that Mr Chavez helped to broker.

The hostages to be released were named as former lawmakers Luis Eladio Perez, Gloria Polanco and Orlando Beltran.

No handover date was given.

In a statement, the Farc repeated their desire to exchange hostages for jailed rebels.

Such an exchange has been blocked over a Farc demand that the government demilitarise a large area in southern Colombia to enable a handover.

...and another black eye for the gringos' "good guy" Alvaro the para-narco-politician.

I really don't know why Dubya and Harpo want free trade agreements with that little putz; no one else does.

On the other hand, Chavecito's fair-trade pacts, such as ALBA and Petrocaribe, keep getting more signatories. And his hostage-release efforts, funnily enough, just keep bearing fruit. Shit, he's even combatting drug trafficking from Colombia through Venezuela at an unprecedented rate--one surmises it's a good thing he kicked out the DEA.

You'd think, eventually, that someone high up in Colombia would get the hint. Well, maybe they might--but they'll have to get rid of Alvaro first.

January 26, 2008

John Perkins: Rafael Correa is in danger

From the man who wrote Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, which among other things treats of his own experiences in Ecuador, a warning to the current president of that country: Watch your back! The jackals are circling!

Video in Spanish. Story from Aporrea:

Continue reading "John Perkins: Rafael Correa is in danger" »

January 12, 2008

Headline Howler: Oh, so Colombia is "irked"?

Whoopdeefuckingdoo!

Chavez irks Colombia by defending rebels

Of course, we all know that it's not Colombia that's irked. Colombia is just relieved and grateful that two hostages are safe. It's Alvaro Uribe and his paramilitary pals who find it irksome. And they're not so much irked about Chavecito's less-than-unkind words about the FARC, I'm sure, as they are about Operation Emmanuel finally meeting success.

What REALLY botched Operation Emmanuel the first time

No, it wasn't the supposed ineptitude and buffoonishness of Hugo Chavez. It was something nasty and treacherous that could only have come from one place, and here's the confirmation from Aporrea:

In an exclusive interview with Radio W in Colombia, the former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez, rescued in a humanitarian operation by the government of Venezuela, confirmed that intense military bombardments by the Colombian armed forces were what prevented her being freed last December, when President Hugo Chavez originally set Operation Emmanuel in motion.

The ex-parliamentarian of Huila Department related that her liberation, along with that of Clara Rojas, began 20 days ago, just after the FARC announced to President Chavez that the two women would be handed over to the Venezuelan government.

"Those 20 days, ever since the operation to free us began, we were walking through the jungle constantly. They were 20 difficult days; also, because we could feel the bombardments and the military presence very close by, we were very nervous," said the ex-congresswoman.

This statement appears to confirm the communique the FARC sent to the Venezuelan president on December 31, in which they announced the suspension of the operation due to the intense military activities on the part of the Colombian government. This placed Colombian president Alvaro Uribe in a difficult position when he claimed, on that same day, that there were no military operations in the zone, as proof that his government was doing all it could to guarantee the success of Operation Emmanuel. At that time, president Uribe argued that the FARC had not handed over the hostages because they didn't have the boy Emmanuel.

But now there is proof, coming from the same two women, that there was intense bombardment going on which prevented their being freed sooner.

Continue reading "What REALLY botched Operation Emmanuel the first time" »

December 1, 2007

Ha ha. Free-traders funny, too!

Well, no...actually, they're more like pathetic, and have been ever since poor, mad old Uncle Miltie kicked the bucket (many years past his due date, if you ask me). So you'll have to pardon me if I smile with a kind of pitying scorn at people who spew drivel like this:

Colombia's diplomatic spat with Hugo Chavez's Venezuela may help President Alvaro Uribe build support in the U.S. Congress for a free-trade accord, Citigroup Inc. economists said.

Colombia could help securing passage of the agreement by casting it as a way to limit Chavez's regional influence, economists Franz Hamann and Luisa Charry wrote in an e-mailed report today.

"The sharper dividing line between the two countries can serve as a warning signal of the potential costs of not supporting economic freedom in the region," Bogota-based Hamman and Charry said.

Continue reading "Ha ha. Free-traders funny, too!" »

November 30, 2007

Alvaro's big oopsie

Looks like the president of Marching Powder Land has some serious splainin' to do. Like, for example, how his effort to sabotage Chavecito and Piedad Cordoba in their efforts to broker peace and a release of FARC hostages...ended up showing that they had succeeded anyhow:

Colombia announced today that authorities arrested three people presumed to belong to urban militias of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Bogotá late Thursday, who were found in possession of five videos and seven letters and a digital memory card with photographs demonstrating proof of life of five civilian and eleven military hostages held by the FARC, including French Colombian citizen Ingrid Betancourt and three US defense contractors. The videos and other documents showing proof of life were addressed to Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The son of Ingrid Betancourt, Lorenzo Betancourt, said the proof that his mother is alive is thanks to the mediation of President Chavez. However, he expressed concern over her health and asked that Chavez's mediation be renewed to secure her release as soon as possible.

The proof of life of the hostages appears only a week after Colombian president Alvaro Uribe unilaterally terminated the mediating role of Chavez and Cordoba, who were working to secure the release of the hostages and had assured that "proof of life would arrive any minute."

In an interview with Telesur, Codroba, who is now under investigation by the Supreme Court for "crimes of treason against the homeland and collusion," defended her role and said that the proof of life of the hostages demonstrates that the mediation of herself and the Venezuelan president was being undertaken with complete seriousness and responsibility.

Oops.

I think someone owes two other somebodies an apology.

November 26, 2007

Piedad Cordoba receives death threats; France offers protection

No good deed goes unpunished in Alvaro Uribe's Colombia, it seems.

The government of France offered protection to Colombian opposition senator Piedad Cordoba after she received death threats for leading a move for rapprochement with FARC guerrillas and a release of prisoners.

According to sources cited by Caracol Radio, the threats against Cordoba "worsened" after the Colombian government suspended on Wednesday the peace talks Cordoba led, along with president Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, between the FARC and the Colombian government.

The sources indicated that French officials made phone calls to the parliamentarian, and offered her protection, and added that the senator asked for a meeting with Chavez, and will be travelling to Caracas to talk with him.

Continue reading "Piedad Cordoba receives death threats; France offers protection" »

November 22, 2007

Colombia shoots self in foot

Smooth move, Alvaro the Nasty, Brutish and Short. You just majorly jeopardized your own peace process.

Colombia's government said Wednesday that it was canceling Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's mediation role with leftist rebels in a possible hostage swap.

President Alvaro Uribe's press secretary said the decision was made because Chavez directly spoke with the head of Colombia's army earlier in the day about the state of hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

In calling the army chief, Gen. Mario Montoya, Chavez defied Uribe's order that the Venezuelan leader not speak with Colombian military leaders about the issue, said Cesar Mauricio Velasquez, the presidential spokesman.

The news was announced late Wednesday in a hastily convened news conference.

Continue reading "Colombia shoots self in foot" »

August 28, 2007

Well, that didn't take long...

Looks like that whole immunity-for-ex-paramilitaries thing isn't working out so well in Colombia. Whatta surprise:

A US court has requested the extradition of former Colombian paramilitary boss Carlos Jimenez.

The move comes a few days after Jimenez, alias Macaco, was stripped of his preferential prison treatment afforded to demobilised fighters.

Colombia said Jimenez violated a peace agreement by continuing to organise cocaine shipments and run a criminal empire from prison.

Jimenez is wanted in the US on drug trafficking charges.

Continue reading "Well, that didn't take long..." »

August 6, 2007

How to enable a tyrant

How else but with a "free" trade agreement?

Congress will give priority treatment to approval of a trade pact with Peru when it reconvenes in September, the head of the House Ways and Means Committee said Monday.

"It is a priority when we return to the Congress in September," Rep. Charles Rangel, a Democrat from New York, told reporters after meeting with President Alan Garcia.

Continue reading "How to enable a tyrant" »

July 25, 2007

More double talk from Alvaro

Contradictions between right-wing assertions and fact are such fun, especially when they're blatant. Check out, for example, the gulf between this assertion...

President Alvaro Uribe said Friday that Colombia's institutions are now free of infiltration and corruption by right-wing militias blamed for some of the nation's worst human rights abuses.

In a nationally televised address, Uribe said his government has "overcome paramilitarism."

"Today paramilitarism no longer exists because combat against leftist rebels is now, in practice, the exclusive work of our democratic institutions," Uribe declared in the speech to Congress marking Colombia's independence day.

...and this fact:

Continue reading "More double talk from Alvaro" »

July 17, 2007

I am cringing as I type this

And why not? This is the most embarrassing show of prime-ministerial hubris I've seen in a while.

Stephen Harper became the first Canadian prime minister to visit Colombia this week, and dismissed criticism that Canada is putting trade ahead of human rights.

Colombia continues to struggle with Marxist guerrillas and a flourishing drug trade.

"When we see a country like Columbia that has decided it has to address its social, political and economic problems, it wants to embrace economic freedom, it wants to embrace political democracy and human rights and social development, then we say we we're in," Harper told reporters Monday in Bogota.

The prime minister went on to announce that Canada has started free-trade negotiations with Colombia, considered the most violent country in the western hemisphere, and Peru.

Continue reading "I am cringing as I type this" »

May 3, 2007

Stop me before I laugh again!

I can't help it. I really, REALLY can't.

President George W Bush has urged the US Congress to ratify a free trade deal with Colombia, as part of a wider plan to back democracies in Latin America.

Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha, oh, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha....

Shit, that's funny. Bush backing democracies in Latin America? Um, what? Anyone remember what he got behind on a certain day in April five years ago? I'll give you a hint: its perpetrators called it democracy, but Venezuelan voters had a very different impression.

Continue reading "Stop me before I laugh again!" »

Yup, that War on Drugs is working GREAT in Colombia!

You know you're on a roll when...you have to "revise" your figures by half after a much-touted cocaine bust.

The authorities in Colombia have revised the total of drugs seized in a haul on Monday from around 25 tonnes of cocaine to just over 13 tonnes.

It was found in 1,000 separate packages near the town of Pizarro, west of the capital, Bogota, buried in an estuary accessible only by sea.

Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos had said on Monday the haul was the "biggest in the history of Colombia".

The confusion was blamed on errors made in the initial sight count of the drug.

Continue reading "Yup, that War on Drugs is working GREAT in Colombia!" »

April 28, 2007

Will the international media call THIS president a tyrant?

Alan's back--let's get out of here!

Hmmm...I wonder. Seeing as Alan Garcia of Peru isn't making any noises about socialism, unlike a certain Chavecito of Venezuela, I can't see it happening. Can you?

Peru's parliament has granted emergency powers to President Alan Garcia in order to deal with drug trafficking and organised crime.

Congress overwhelmingly approved the move but around 20 Congressmen walked out of the session before the vote.

President Garcia has promised not to abuse the powers, which are valid for the next 60 days.

He will only have the power to rule by decree on nine specific types of crime, most of which relate to trafficking.

Continue reading "Will the international media call THIS president a tyrant?" »

March 30, 2007

FOX News: The iron fist of "fair and balanced" hypocrisy

Being totally two-faced seems to be a prerequisite if you want to work at Fux Snooze. Get a load of what one sharp-eyed Venezuelan patriot has found concerning a particular reporter of theirs in Latin America:

(Thanks to GloriaAlBravoPueblo and Aporrea.)

Translation of the video follows:

Continue reading "FOX News: The iron fist of "fair and balanced" hypocrisy" »

October 26, 2006

One more illicit Colombian export...

...shared by, of all places, North Korea:

Colombia and North Korea are the largest producers of fake US banknotes, a report suggests.

The study by the US Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and Secret Service said that one in every 10,000 greenbacks was a fake.

It said more affordable equipment meant counterfeiting was getting easier.

Continue reading "One more illicit Colombian export..." »

August 8, 2006

Why so insecure, Alvaro?

Could it be that your "re-election" was not exactly...how shall I put this delicately...clean?

Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe has been sworn into office for a second term as tens of thousands of police patrolled the capital, Bogota.

Before presidents and officials from more than 20 countries, he pledged to seek peace with left-wing rebels and improve the country's economy.

Continue reading "Why so insecure, Alvaro?" »

June 15, 2006

Mas dinero, Jorge, por favor!

Wow. Talk about a sweet scam.

Funny how Alvaro Uribe waited until AFTER he was safely re-elected (cough) by abstention! (cough) before springing this widdle surprise on his numero uno consumer of the legendary Colombian marching powder:

US President George W Bush and his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe have held talks about how to speed up the eradication of drugs.

Speaking at the White House, Mr Uribe said his country had not achieved the best results in the last few years.

Bogota receives around $600m a year in US aid to combat drugs trafficking - but studies suggest the flow of cocaine to the US has not fallen significantly.

Continue reading "Mas dinero, Jorge, por favor!" »

May 25, 2006

And they say Venezuela lacks press freedom?

They're full of shit. Take a look at what's happening in Colombia and THEN talk to me about Venezuelan journalists who are allegedly being muzzled:

Exposing outlaws — be they drug traffickers, leftist rebels or right-wing militias — risks assassination.

Over the past decade, 28 journalists have been killed in Colombia, making it the second-most dangerous country to report from after Iraq, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Most of the crimes against Colombian journalists, committed by all sides of the country's civil conflict, are never solved.

Only one journalist has been slain over the past two years, a decline President Alvaro Uribe has attributed to the success of his strong-handed security policies. Yet several journalists say there are fewer killings because their work has never been more muzzled.

A CPJ report last year entitled "Untold Stories" found more than 30 radio, TV and print journalists who acknowledged soft-pedaling or turning a blind eye to important news.

Continue reading "And they say Venezuela lacks press freedom?" »

March 15, 2006

They can't blame THIS on Hugo Chavez...

...because it's not happening anywhere near his turf:

Ecuador says it is investigating what it describes as a violation of its airspace by the Colombian military.

Defence Minister Oswaldo Jarrin said a Colombian aircraft had been picked up by Ecuadorean radar at the weekend.

Colombia denied over flying Ecuadorean territory, but said the aircraft had been deployed after an attack by rebels, who then escaped into Ecuador.

It is the latest of a series of incidents along the border that have provoked diplomatic tension.

Continue reading "They can't blame THIS on Hugo Chavez..." »

December 19, 2005

Once again, Chavez is vindicated while Washington's sky falls

Well, well, well, well, well, well, WELL. Look who's been telling the truth all along:

SANTA MARTA, Colombia (AFP) - Venezuelan former soldiers plotted against President Hugo Chavez's government at a Colombian military building, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said.

Continue reading "Once again, Chavez is vindicated while Washington's sky falls" »